November 2007 Archives

Friday Random Top 10

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We're done with Thanksgiving, bring on winter!! Big snow coming and I can't wait. Too bad I never got my snow blower fixed. Football's heatin' up, kids got basketball games, a ton of cool movies are about to hit the big screen, what's there not to love? Well the cold of course.

Here's this week's top 10:

1. Game of Pricks - Guided By Voices
2. Long As I Can See The Light - Creedance Clearwater Revival
3. Ain't No Way - Aretha Franklin
4. Will the Circle Be Unbroken - Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
5. Treatment Bound - The Replacements
6. Crush - Smashing Pumpkins
7. Another Man's Done Gone - Billy Bragg and Wilco
8. Sweet Love - Mieka Pauley
9. Morning Crescent - Belle and Sebastion
10. Lucinda - Tom Waits.

Nice variety. What's your top 10?

Book Review: The Replacements All Over But The Shouting

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I just finished reading Jim Walsh’s oral history of The Replacements: All Over But The Shouting and it was fun reading about a time of which I had a front row seat. It was a blast reading about shows I remember attending, concert posters I remember seeing, and people I have met and shared stories with.

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The oral history approach works well with a history of The Replacements because so many people have such different perspective on Replacement incidents and their impact I don’t think an author could ever capture it all. Paul Westerberg and Tommy Stinson didn’t directly participate in the book but they have so many interviews out there, Walsh was able to get their words into the story. Jim Walsh deserves a lot of credit for organizing the oral histories in a manner that does tell the story.

I have few complaints with the book. One complaint is that I wish there was more on the legendary 5 night stand at the 7th Street Entry in celebration of the release of Tim on a major record label (October 2005). Those shows were huge at time and the buzz was overwhelming. You just had to attend at least one show. I am lucky enough to have a bootleg of one of those shows (first or second) and it’s just amazing. These shows are mentioned in the book but not to the degree they should have been.

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Since the book is an oral history, I will share my Replacements oral history as well. Consider this an amendment to Walsh’s book.

I first came across the Replacements in early fall 1981. I was attending Coe College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa and was working at the college radio station. I heard someone play the single I’m in Trouble and was absolutely hooked. Paul was right, Bob's guitar solo is hotter than a urinary infection. I scoured the station’s record collection until I found the single with the If Only You Were Lonely b-side. I couldn’t believe they were from Minneapolis and immediately pocketed the single (I still have it). I’m in Trouble and If Only You Were Lonely had to sustain me for nearly a year as I couldn’t find anything else about them in CR.

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That summer (1982) when I returned to Minnesota I started hitting the record stores and found Replacements Stink at 3rd Stone Records in Navarre (right next to the still there Dairy Queen). This EP was much faster and had such classic songs as Fuck School and God Damn Job. I went to the U of MN in the fall and attended my first Replacements show by myself that September at First Avenue (on the bill with Husker Du!). They were great and I was hooked!

Well at the U I found other Replacements fans and we started to see them all the time. From September 1982 to October 1985 I probably went to every show they played in the Twin Cities. I saw great shows like at Goofy’s Upper Deck (Target Center is there now) where Tommy threw his mike stand over my head into the crowd and I experienced my share of the drunken messes too. Unfortunately I’ve seen Bob Stinson’s manhood more times than I’d like to admit as he tended to wear dresses on stage with no underwear and I would always position myself near the front of the stage. I saw Paul Westerberg and Pete Buck storming through First Avenue with make-up on and I felt the disappointment when Bob was kicked out of the band. By the time the album All Shook Up came out I really didn’t care anymore and didn’t even buy the album. I’ve stayed away from the greatest hits packages but I still cherish all their released material through Don’t Tell a Soul. I consider myself very lucky to have lived and been young at the time of the Replacement’s reign over Minneapolis.

So put the book on your Christmas list, buy a copy for your nephew or kid who’s into rock and roll. It’s a great story, it’s a sad story, it’s a fun story, and it’s a story we all share as residents of Minnesota or fans of rock and roll.

Have you read the book? What’s your Replacements Oral History?

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I took all these photos at the Replacements' concert at the Coffman Union Great Hall May 1984.

Thanksgiving Weekend Round-up

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Torii goes to Anaheim. Five years for $90 million. The Twins never had a chance. I’m happy for Torii, he gets the big payday and gets to play for a winner. If I were the Angels I would be worried about years 4 and 5 of that contract. Which is probably the attitude the Twins have. Angels may think it’s worth it if they get a World Series ring or two out of it. The Twins HAVE to get a big bat at 3rd base and a decent Centerfielder if they even want to compete with K.C. Santana trades for 3 or 4 good players would work for me.

The Klaxons. I’ve been rockin’ to the Klaxon’s Myth of the Near Future lately. Fun, arty, punky rock and roll. Definitely one of the better albums of the year.

Beowulf in 3-D. The boys like to go to a guy movie every Friday after Thanksgiving. Since we still have teens and pre-teens R movies are out. Beowulf was the only movie that kind of appealed to everyone. We saw it at an I-max in 3D. Stupid movie, some interesting stuff with the 3-D including Angela Jolie’s near naked breasts. Kind of like watching a video game. Don’t go unless you absolutely have to.

Battlestar Galactica Razor. Two hour movie on Sci-Fi channel that fills us in on the history of Battlestar Pegasus and some interesting preview of season 4 (coming in March!) Loved seeing some of the scenes on Pegasus we only heard about. I didn’t like the whole Admiral Cain and Cylon babe Gina were lesbian lovers. Not that I have anything wrong with that but it sort of lessened the hard as nails, fascist tendencies of Admiral Cain. Was she a hardass because she was a lesbian? A heterosexual Admiral Cain is a more compelling character IMHO.

BCS. LSU and Kansas lose. Missouri could very well lose to Oklahoma. The BCS is a being blown up and it’s great. It won’t happen, but this year demonstrates why we need a play off in Division I football.

Prep Bowl. Eden Prairie crushes. Totino Grace wins on a prayer. We are friends of the family of one of the players who tipped that ball for Totino Grace. He’s played on three championships teams in 4 years and may get a free ride scholarship to play football for Princeton.

Rear View Mirror: 2007 Gophers Football

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Another Gopher football season in the books and for the first time in years we aren’t looking forward to a minor bowl game in El Paso or Nashville. I have mixed feelings about the Gophers season and Tim Brewster. Although at times the Gophers play was embarrassingly inept, atrocious even, with poor coaching, poor execution, slow and overmatched athletes (especially on the defensive side of the ball) there were some glimmers of hope: We finished the season better than we started and played Iowa and Wisconsin tough, Weber appears to be a legitimate spread quarterback, and the word on the street is that Brewster is putting together a nice recruiting class for next year.

I hope this season was a humbling experience for Coach Brewster. The guy can talk but he needs action to back up those words or he’ll eventually be ignored. The book is still out whether or not he can coach a football team. At times his game plan was woefully inadequate, bad game time decisions were made and, even though there were a lot of true freshman playing, at times the Gophers didn’t seem ready to play (e.g the Illinois game which was homecoming!). Brewster will need to ask more of himself if he’s going to also ask more from his players.

One final word on the Big Ten Network. Thankfully a lot of people were not able to watch the Gophers season due to the fact that many games were on the Big Ten Network and not available to Comcast, Time Warner and Charter cable customers. However, I would have happily sat down in front of the TV to watch the Gophers-BADgers game if it were on TV, regardless of the Gophers' record or their chances.

I understand the reasoning behind the Big Ten Network: Much like Victory Sports of a few years back for the Twins, the successful establishment of these networks would help the team's bottom line. And I would love to watch the Big Ten Network among my regular basic cable choices. However Comcast has recently reduced the number of channels I get while increasing their monthly fee. So it seems quite unlikely that they are going to add an admittedly niche channel to their offerings. So while the Big Ten Network, in theory, adds $$$ to the University’s coffers and visibility to all the Big Ten teams, it is built on a seriously flawed business plan.

The same goes for the NFL network which you will be hearing about a lot in the next few weeks as the Dallas-Green Bay game will be only seen by a few handful of households that can get the NFL network at home. With the college basketball season heating up now, we are going to miss a lot of Gopher games on TV. Unfortunately there are more cable TV watchers who don’t care about sports or get their sports via satellite dish to cause an outcry. I see no change in this situation until the folks at the Big Ten Network and NFL network read the handwriting on the wall and go the way of Victory Sports.

Friday Random Top 10

1. Brown Water and Blood - Jeff Amspolk
2. Talkin' World III Blues - Bob Dyland
3. Strangers When We Meet - The Smithereens
4. Softy & Tenderly - Johnny Cash
5. I Never Picked Cotton - Johnny Cash
6. I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry - Johnny Cash
7. Pretty Polly - Coon Creek Girls
8. People Talkin' - Lucinda Williams
9. Postcard - Suburbs
10. Talkin' a Ride - The Replacements

Wow, 3 Johnny Cash songs and a strong folk influence this week. What's your Top 10?

Is the Death Penalty Dead?

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There has always been a huge problem with the death penalty as a form of criminal punishment in the United States. Even if one wasn’t morally opposed to the death penalty (me), pervasive problems with the use or lack of use of DNA evidence, racial disparity in death sentences, the competency of capital-case public defenders, and overzealous prosecutors should have caused even the most hardened pro-death penalty advocate to pause in their support.

There is an excellent article in slate.com (link) describing how a case soon to be heard at the Supreme Court has basically shut down the use of executions in this country (October was the first month in three years with no executions). I really encourage you to read the entire article regardless of your stance on the death penalty. As the article states in its closing: “One shouldn't have to be opposed to the death penalty, be soft on criminals, or be a liberal crybaby to insist that procedures that are hopelessly outdated and medically suspect be fixed.?

The use of the death penalty is abhorent to me. If it takes a re-examination of how we administer executions in this county to stop the death penalty great, I'll take it.

Neil Young Northrop Auditorium 11.08.07

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I’ve been a Neil Young fan for a long, long time and have had numerous opportunities to seem him in concert but hadn’t been able to make a show. Neil’s public performances have been quite memorable as I have been thrilled when he stole the stage at “Bobfest? a few years back (PBS broadcast a show celebrating Bob Dylan’s 30 years in the music industry.) There was a performance on The Daily Show a few years back that was also very cool. Finally in 2004 I got to see a little bit of Neil at the Rock for Change concert headlined by Bruce Springsteen and R.E.M. Neil was a surprise guest and actually overshadowed The Boss on stage, something that doesn’t happen much.

Luckily I got to see a full Neil Young show last night from the 13th row at the wonderful Northrop Auditorium. The show promised to be great as Neil was touring in support of his Chrome Dreams II album and was performing one acoustic set and then a rock and roll set with a band. I went by myself because the tickets were quite expensive ($134) but I pissed off my wife, who I found out too late also wanted to go. So I’ve got some fences to mend on the home front.

The acoustic set was quite moving as we saw Neil onstage with guitar, harmonica and piano. Many of the songs were obscure tunes from the 70’s but nonetheless done quite well. He started off with the great song from Harvest Moon: From Hank to Hendrix which is about lost love and has at its heart a chorus with a crucial question:

Can we get it together
Can we still stand side by side
Can we make it last
Like a musical ride?

In his opening song Neil was laying it all out there, asking the audience that very question. Can we still get it together? Am I musically relevant in these times of American Idol, digital downloads, and Britany’s shaved head and nether regions flashed all over the tabloids?

Many songs in the acoustic set were from the 70’s, written when Neil was in his mid to late-20’s. Even though they were written when he was a young man, they seem to have grown in relevance and speak about a man looking back, telling us the lessons he has learned can be found in the songs of someone in his youth with a future still to live and experience. Neil’s asking, remember when I said this? Well I’ve lived it and what I said then is important today, maybe even more so. Below is the acoustic set list:

From Hank To Hendrix
Ambulance Blues
Sad Movies
A Man Needs A Maid
No One Seems To Know
Harvest
After The Gold Rush
Mellow My Mind
Love Art Blues
Love Is A Rose
Heart Of Gold

After a 20 minute break Neil comes out and he’s ready to rock. Gone is the plain suit and he’s wearing stained pants and a grungy old shirt. He’s got a backing band and you get the idea that he’s thinking, o.k. I just spent 50 minutes looking back, re-introducing myself, asking for acceptance. Now I’m just going to kick your ass with my guitar. He follows with a 70-minute set of searing guitar rock, including numerous extended guitar solos. The electric set included:

The Loner
Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere
Dirty Old Man
Spirit Road
Bad Fog Of Loneliness
Winterlong
Oh, Lonesome Me
The Believer
No Hidden Path

Cinnamon Girl
Like A Hurricane

He was in that classic Neil Young pose, knee bent, rocking back and forth as he punished his Gibson guitar. It was ragged glory at it’s best and the mostly middle-aged male crowd forgot for a moment their pissed off wives, expanding waist lines, and dreams of youth gone partially fulfilled. Then when Neil hit those first oh-so-identifiable notes to Like a Hurricane, you finally believed. You believed in the power of rock and roll, you believed in Neil Young, and you believed that yes Neil, we can still get it together and make it last like a musical ride. I’m glad you asked.

Did you go to the concert? What did you think?

Friday Random Top 10

Here's this week's top 10:

1. For All We Know - Bettie Serveert
2. Police Truck - Dead Kennedy's
3. Homeward Bound - Simon and Garfunkel
4. Ring of fire (Live) - Johnny Cash
5. That's All Right (Momma) - Albert King
6. Have I Told You Lately - Van Morrison
7. Feeling Yourself Disintegrate - The Flaming Lips
8. John the Relevator - Blind Willie Johnson
9. Don't Look at Me - Gear Daddies
10. Shotgun Suffle - K.C. and the Sunshine Band

What's your Top 10?

2007 Green-Build Conference

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I was in Chicago the first half of this week at the Green-Build Conference sponsored by the US Green Building Council. Just think, 20,000 people to learn how to plan, construct, and manage buildings in a more sustainable manner. Bill Clinton gave the keynote speech and it was a blast to be with that many people to talk about sustainability.

Last week I talked about Global Warming and how the Republican party is becoming increasingly out of step with the world, U.S. population, and big business as well in its attitude toward global warming and sustainability. My short time in Chicago only cemented those thoughts.

If you think that this conference was sponsored by Tom’s of Maine toothpaste, Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream, and the Grateful Dead, you are horribly mistaken. One thing I noticed at the conference is that Big Business is at the table in regards to sustainability. Many large, Fortune 500 companies were represented at this conference and/or were conference sponsors, including such old line companies as GE and GM. One large energy firm, United Technologies was a huge sponsor and is doing amazing things in terms of sustainability. Ford Motor Company (Ford!) is constructing buildings and factories with Green Roofs. The list goes on.

To those who think that being sustainable or to propose strategies that reduce our carbon footprint is bad for business needs to enter the 21st Century. Big business is at the table, they are implementing solutions, they are open to reducing their carbon footprint. It makes for good business. Many firms are way ahead of Republicans in this issue and I think most Republicans will become seen as increasingly shrill and out of touch if they continue with their current attitude toward global warming.

One short note on Chicago. What a great City. Clean, beautiful, lots to do. I ate at a little Tai restaurant that had no entries over $8.00 one night and at Harry Caray’s an old school steak and chop place where they sell 23 oz steaks for $42.00 the other night. The City is incredibly busy and I’d hate to have to commute everyday into the City, but man talk about energy and fun!

30 Favorite Albums - Recap

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Way back in March I started to review my 30 favorite albums on this blog. It was inspired by the fact that 2007 is the 30th anniversary of my first rock concert (Kiss – December 2, 1977 Met Sports Center) and by the release of the Definitive 200 - a listing of the 200 Definitive albums of all time. The list was pretty predicable (Sgt Peppers #1) and pretty infuriating (No Blonde on Blonde but an Avril Lavinge album). I thought I could do better. I wasn’t a complete music snob, however, as almost all of the albums I reviewed are in the Rolling Stone 500, which is probably a better gauge of where albums sit than the Definitive 200.

The exercise also gave me a reason to write and to put down some thoughts I’ve had on these albums for a long, long time. Most of the reviews practically wrote themselves and the notions you read have been banging around in my head for years. Other albums were tougher. Even though they held a special place for me, I’d never organized my thoughts and sometimes I was surprised what I came up with. It was also interesting to see some albums garner a lot of discussion in the comments while others, only crickets.

The distribution of the albums is somewhat interesting: one from the 1940’s, 3 from the 60’s, 9 from the 70’s, 7 from the 80’s, 7 from the 90’s and 5 from the 00’s. First, the 70’s are always maligned as having crappy music when in fact there was a ton of cool, cool music. Also I’m guessing that since the 70’s included those years when I was discovering music, it would produce more albums that would be memorable some 30 years later. In the 2000’s I’m in my late 30’s and early 40’s and most popular music doesn’t appeal to me as much.

I’m still planning to write on music in this blog and will try to have something on a regular basis. I think I may try to tackle songs and really break down a song in 4-6 paragraphs. Below is a list of the albums I reviewed and links if you want to check them out.

1. Pretenders – Pretenders (3/12/07)
2. Replacements – Let It Be (3/19/07)
3. Nirvana – Nevermind (3/26/07)
4. Johnny Cash – American Recordings (4/2/07)
5. Guided by Voices - Bee Thousand (4/9/07)

6. Bob Dylan – Blonde on Blonde (4/16/07)
7. Beatles – Abbey Road (4/23/07)
8. Rolling Stones – Some Girls (4/30/07)
9. U2 – All That You’ Can't Leave Behind(5/7/07)
10. Elvis Costello – This Year’s Model (5/14/07)

5 Critically Acclaimed Albums I don’t get (5/21/07)
1. Pink Floyd – The Wall
2. Sufjan Stevens – Illinois
3. Rolling Stones – Exile On Main Street
4. Hold Steady – Boys and Girls in America
5. Anything by Dave Matthews

11. Woody Guthrie – Dust Bowl Ballads (5/28/07)
12. Grateful Dead – American Beauty/Workingman Dead (6/4/07)
13. Lucinda Williams – Car Wheels on a Gravel Road (6/11/07)
14. Loretta Lynn – Van Lear Rose (6/18/07)
15. Jayhawks – Rainy Day Music (6/25/07)

16. Husker Du – Land Speed Record (7/2/07)
17. Gang of Four – Entertainment (7/9/07)
18. Smashing Pumpkins – Siamese Dreams (7/16/07)
19. Rage Against the Machine – Rage Against the Machine (7/23/07)
20. Green Day – American Idiot (7/30/07)

Five Great Albums You Never Heard (8/14/07)
1. Warehouse Songs – Husker Du
2. Yung Wu – Shore Leave
3. Waco Brothers – Freedom and Weep
4. Handsome Family – Milk and Scissors
5. Kelly Hogan and Pine Valley Cosmonauts – Beneath the Country Underdog

21. Radiohead – O.k. Computer (8/21/07)
22. Van Morrison – Astral Weeks (8/27/07)
23 Transmissions from the Satellite Heart – The Flaming Lips (9/4/07)
24. More Songs About Buildings and Food – The Talking Heads (9/10/07)
25. R.E.M. – Murmur (9/17/07)

26. The Pogues – Rum, Sodomy and the Law (10/1/2007)
27. Kiss – Alive! (10/8/2007)
28. Neil Young – Rust Never Sleeps (10/16/2007)
29. Gear Daddies – Let’s Go Scare Al (10/22/2007)
30. Weezer - Make Believe/Pinkerton (10/30/2007)

The Next 30 (9/25/07)
Beatles – Revolver
Billy Bragg – Talking to the Taxman About Poetry
Blondie – Eat to the Beat
David Bowie – Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars
The Buzzcocks – Singles Going Steady
The Byrds – Sweetheart of the Rodeo
Johnny Cash – Live at San Quentin
Cheap Trick - Live at Budokon I and II
The Cult – Electric
The Decemberists – Her Majesty The Decemberists
Bob Dylan – Another Side of Bob Dylan
The Feelies – The Good Earth
Husker Du – Zen Arcade
Hypstrz – Hypstryzation
Jesus and Mary Chain – Darklands
Mekons - Rock and Roll
Ministry – Psalm 69
Pavement – Hard Rain Hard Rain
Pixies – Doolittle
Elvis Presley – Sun Sessions
Replacements – Sorry Ma Forgot to Take Out the Trash
Sex Pistols – Never Mind the Bollocks
Son Volt - Traces
Soul Asylum – Hang Time
Soundgarden – Badmotorfinger
U2 – Unforgettable Fire
Tom Waits – Orphans
The White Stripes – Elephant
Wilco – Yankee Foxtrot Hotel
X – Los Angeles

Friday Random Top 10

On South Park they just wrapped up this week their Imagination Land Trilogy. On the Imagination Land High Council were the following: Aslan, Hercules, Jesus, Morpheus, Gandalf, Wonder Woman, Glenda the Good Witch, and Luke Skywalker. Now that’s what I call a High Council. Here’s this week’s top 10:

1. Let the Lower Lights be Burning – Johnny Cash
2. Fame Throwa – Pavement
3. Your Love is the Place Where I Come From – Teenage Fan Club
4. Gone – Kelly Hogan and the Pine Valley Cosmonauts
5. Walkaway – Tom Waits
6. No Compassion – Talking Heads
7. Clock Strikes 10 – Cheap Trick
8. If I Should Fall From the Grace of God – The Pogues
9. No Sense Lovin’ – Uncle Tupelo
10. Somebody to Love – Queen

Nice list, good variety. What’s your top 10?

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