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June 10, 2011

Friday Random Top 10

Monday morning I'll be off to backpack the Black Hills back country. Primitive camping, no fires allowed! Harney Peak is the highlight but we will also be hiking around Mount Rushmore. How about a Random Top 10 to get me going:

1. Los Angeles, I'm Yours -- The Decemberists
2. Egyptian Shumba -- The Tammys
3. Next Exit -- Interpol
4. Blackout -- Pavement
5. We Dance -- Pavement
6. Downed -- Cheap Trick
7. Kaw-Liga -- Hank Williams
8. Radio Sweetheart -- Elvis Costello
9. Man in Black -- Johnny Cash
10. Down By the River - Neil Young

Bonus: Forests & Sands -- Camera Obscura

Nice classic list of songs. Plus two from Zowie Wowie. What's your top 10?

June 3, 2011

Friday Random Top 10

Graduation Parties. Graduation Ceremonies. Graduation party/celebration preparations. That's my weekend. How about a random top 10.

1. The New Timer -- Bruce Springsteen
2. Ate it Twice -- Robert Pollard
3. Sonic Reducer -- Dead Boys
4. Leah -- Roy Orbison
5. Every Little Thing She Does -- The Police
6. Boredom -- The Buzzcocks
7. Popular Creeps -- Chris Mars
8. Losin' It -- Soul Asylum
9. Rock and Roll -- Led Zeppelin
10. No. 13 Baby -- Pixies

Bonus: heart of a Saturday Night -- Jonathan Richman

Boredom has the greatest two-note guitar solo in rock and roll history. What's your top 10?

May 27, 2011

Friday Random Top 10

Busy Weekend: Get house ready for grad party, volunteer for tornado clean-up in North Minneapolis, Barca v. ManU, Twins game, picnic. I definitely need a random top 10:


1. We Dance -- Pavement
2. Shirley's Looking Down -- Magnolias
3. Have Mercy -- Loretta Lynn
4. Ester's Day -- Guided By Voices
5. A Snowflake Fell -- Glasvegas
6. Kaw-liga -- Hank Williams
7. Queen of the World -- The Jayhawks
8. Kneeling Drunkards' Plea -- Johnny Cash
9. Relaxin' at Camarillo (take c) -- Charlie Parker
10. The Caretaker - Johnny Cash

Bonus: Train of Love -- Neil Young

That version of Have Mercy kicks absolute ass, from a 70 year old woman no less. What's your top 10?

May 20, 2011

Friday Random Top 10

So where where are you going to be to watch The Rapture. I've been blogging so infrenquently lately people won't know if I was taken or not, I guess you'll have to wait to see if I come back next week Here could be my final random top 10:

1. Teenage Riot -- Sonic Youth
2. Seven o'clock (demo) -- Elvis Costello
3. Blue Eyes -- The Wedding Present
4. Hold On Tight -- Electric Light Orchestra
5. As Above, So Below -- Klaxons
6. Sleepless Nights -- Gram Parson
7. I Go Stung -- Elvis Presley
8. You Need the Glory -- Minutemen
9. Have You Seen Her Face -- The Byrds
10. Why Go -- Pearl Jam

Bonus -- Mr. Pleasant -- The Kinks

Nice list. It was a good run, what's your top 10?

May 13, 2011

Friday Random Top 10

Crappy play, Mauer injured, lousy pitching, removed trees, higher prices, bad in-stadium music. Now Harmon dying. Can anything else go wrong with the Twins this year? Let's get to a top 10, maybe that will change the karma.

1. Idiot Wind -- Bob Dylan
2. Mommy -- The Suburbs
3. Girl Talk -- Elvis Costello
4. Blank Generation -- Richard Hell & the Voidoids
5. Postcard -- The Suburbs
6. Bridge Over Troubled Water -- Simon and Garfunkel
7. The Sprawl -- Sonic Youth
8. Love and Marriage -- Frank Sinatra
9. Liked It A Lot -- Charlie Pickett
10. Believe -- The Chemical Brothers

Bonus: Comfortably Numb -- Luther Wright and the Wrongs

Boy it would be easy to write a story with these song titles wouldn't it. What's your top 10?

May 6, 2011

Friday Random Top 10

Beautiful day. I'll be painting. Here's a random top 10:

1. I Put a Spell on You -- Creedance Clearwater Revival
2. Tell You Why Tomorrow -- Husker Du
3. Beast of Burden -- Rolling Stones
4. On The Wall -- Jesus and Mary Chain
5. Ziggy Stardust -- David Bowie
6. If This is Love, Can I get my Money Back -- Charlie Pickett
7. In a Little While -- U2
8. Whispering Pines -- The Band
9. The Enemy -- Guided By Voices
10. Redrum -- Tom Waits

Bonus: Found a Job (live) -- Talking Heads

Nice variety, sounds like good painting music. Whats on your top 10?

April 29, 2011

Friday Random Top 10

Iron Man Bike Ride this Sunday and I've hardly been out due to the weather. I'm going to be sore on Sunday night! Here's a top random top 10:

1. Marchers in Orange -- Guided By Voices
2. Flowers in the Dell -- Fred Eaglesmith
3. While My Guitar Gently Weeps -- The Beatles
4. Someone/Rock Stars on the Marie Celeste -- Mekons
5. Walkin' After Midnight -- Cowboy Junkies
6. Underneath Your Bed -- Jack Logan
7. Old Angel Midnight -- Jack Kerouac
8. We Live Again -- Beck
9. Help -- The Beatles
10. Sex Me -- Urban Guerrillas

Bonus: Toolmaster of Brainerd -- Trip Shakespeare

Whenever GBV comes up first on one of these lists I have a momentary thought that I would get 10 GBV songs, alas maybe next time. What's your top10?

April 22, 2011

Friday Random Top 10

Yesterday a 25 year old U of MN student was killed on her bike right outside my window. Unfortunately the authorities had the covered body out for an hour recreating the scene before she was put in an ambulance. So be careful out there. If you're on a bike wear a helmet and watch for cars! If you're driving, watch out for bikers, even if they are acting poorly. Bikes will lose against a car every time!

1. View from the afternoon -- Arctic Monkeys
2. Kris Kraft -- Pavement
3. Redemption Song -- Johnny Cash (w/Joe Strummer)
4. Dixie -- Bob Dylan
5. Call Occupants of Interplanetary Craft -- Babes in Toyland
6. Cry Baby Cry - The Beatles
7. Blood -- Pearl Jam
8. Hoodoo -- Billy Bragg & Wilco
9. I'll Fly Away -- Alison Krauss
10. Love My Way -- Psychedelic Furs

Bonus: Don't Worry Baby -- Beach Boys

What's your top 10?

April 15, 2011

Friday Random Top 10

Tomorrow is record store day and I will head over to Roadrunner Records to buy the new Feelies disc. Until then, a Random Top 10:

1. Start a War -- The National
2. Gates of Eden -- Bob Dylan
3. Love Thing -- Stillwater
4. In a Future Age -- Wilco
5. Dead in the Water -- Supersuckers
6. Wah-Wah -- George Harrison
7. In a Lonely Place -- The Smithereens
8. Help -- The Beatles
9. I Don't Believe You -- Bob Dylan
10. Three Little Birds - Bob Marley

Bonus: Nice Dream -- Radiohead


Wow, nice little vibe going with that list. Lots of older stuff. What's your top 10?

April 8, 2011

Friday Random Top 10

Please don't tell me the stink that has infected all of Minnesota's sports teams is now kissing the lips of the Minnesota Twins. They're all we have left!!!!! Here's a Random Top 10:

1. Unscathed -- Jack Logan
2. I Like Trains -- Fred Eaglesmith
3. Son of a Preacher Man -- Dusty Springfield
4. $100 Groom -- Paul Westerberg
5. Bongo Bop (Take A) -- Charlie Parker
6. Only in Dreams -- Weezer
7. Welcome to the Working Week -- Elvis Costello
8. Midnight Carnival -- Chris Mars
9. Personal Jesus -- Johnny Cash
10. Standing in the Doorway -- Soul Asylum

Bonus: Easy To Be Hard -- Golden Smog

Not the greatest list in the world, but solid. What's your Top 10?

April 1, 2011

Friday Random Top 10

After the lousy winter we had and the crappy sports teams we had to endure, has there ever been a place that was in need of baseball season than Minneapolis? Let's celebrate with a top 10:

1. Four Provinces -- The Walkmen
2. Mykonos -- Fleet Foxes
3. Over and Over Again -- Clap Your Hands and Say Yea
4. The Funeral -- Band of Horses
5. Peacebone -- Animal Collective
6. Two Weeks -- Grizzley Bear
7. Panda Panda Panda -- Deerhoof
8. Crash into Me -- Dave Matthews Band
9. Makes Me Wonder -- Maroon 5
10. Human -- The Killers

Bonus: Don't Stop Believing -- Journey


My God, what was that?!! Thankfully it's April Fools Day! What's your top 10?

March 25, 2011

Friday Random Top 10

Last night I finished The Sopranos. While not as good as The Wire, still a pretty good series. Seven seasons means a lot of episodes and I will definitely miss it. Next up for the exercise bike? The Shield. Now a random top 10 for my barely on life support NCAA bracket:

1. Queen of the World -- The Jayhawks
2. Crackity Jones -- Pixies
3. From a Whisper to a Scream -- Elvis Costello
4. Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots (Part 1) -- Flaming Lips
5. Buzzards and Dreadful Crows -- Guided By Voices
6. Youth -- Beat Happening
7. Fly -- The Jam
8. Wild Thing -- X
9. Land of Canaan -- Indigo Girls
10. You Can't Always Get What You Want -- Rolling Stones

Bonus: The Prisoner -- The Clash

Btw, last weekend I played the 50,000th song on my I-pod. It was an R.E.M. song. What's your top 10?

March 11, 2011

Friday Random Top 10

Wow, some nasty images out of Japan. The United States has been very lucky an earthquake of that magnitude hasn't hit a populated area. How about a random top 10 as we watch destruction videos:

1. Little Bit o' Soul -- Music Explosion
2. Bawatiba -- Kid Rock
3. Whatever -- Husker Du
4. Beat on the Brat -- The Ramones
5. Scissors -- Guided By Voices
6. Star Eyes -- Charlie Parker
7. Down on the Corner -- Creedance Clearwater Revival
8. 'Cross the Breeze -- Sonic Youth
9. Charlene (live) -- Fred Eaglesmith
10. City with no Children -- Arcade Fire

Bonus: Polly (live) -- Nirvana

I was thinking of deleting that Kid Rock song from my I-pod just last week. Wonder if that's a sign that I should. What's your top 10?

March 4, 2011

Friday Random Top 10

Oh no the Vikings released Tavaris Jackson. One of the causes of dysfunction on that team is no gone, causing them to be a little less lovable. Oh well, here's a random top 10:

1. I Will (No Man's Land) -- Radiohead
2. The Wreck on the Highway -- Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
3. Watching the Detectives (live) -- Elvis Costello
4. Shahdaroba -- Roy Orbison
5. Rev It Up -- Fred Eaglesmith
6. Tour Guide at the Winston Churchill Memorial -- Guided By Voices
7. With our Love -- Talking Heads
8. Get on the Snake -- Soundgarden
9. If You Want Me -- Glen Hansard & Marketa Irglova
10. Sentinel -- Pavement

Bonus: At Odds with Dr. Genesis -- Guided By Voices

Sentinel, at 14 seconds, is still only the 4th shortest song on my I-pod but that GBV song has got to be one of the longest titles. What ever that's worth. What's your top 10?

February 25, 2011

Friday Random Top 10

Annual Timberwolves game tonight. Woohee!! I'm thinking I can get courtside tix for $20. Here's a random top 10:

1. Cut-out-Witch -- Guided By Voices
2. Sweet Talkin' Woman -- Electric Light Orchestra
3. Look At Them (live) -- Guided By Voices
4. Willie & Laura Mae Jones -- Dusty Springfield
5. Star -- Davide Bowie
6. Jingle -- Paul Westerberg
7. Dixie -- Bob Dylan
8. The Broad Majestic Shannon -- The Pogues
9. Girls -- Beastie Boys
10. Milkcow Blues Boogie -- Elvis Presley

Bonus: Crime in the City -- Neil Young

Interesting list there, nothing that stands out however. What's your top 10?

February 18, 2011

Friday Random Top 10

Going up the North Shore to do some snowshoeing along the Superior Hiking Trail, plus a candlelit hike at Gooseberry Falls. Should be fun!! Here's you Random Top 10:

1. Dust Bowl Refugee -- Woody Guthrie
2. Highway 29 -- Bruce Springsteen
3. Restless Farewell -- Bob Dylan
4. Meltdown -- Slobberbone
5. Trying to get to Heaven -- Bob Dylan
6. Crashin' & Burnin' -- Fred Eaglesmith
7. I Should Have Known Better -- Yo La Tengo
8. Think -- James Brown
9. Behind Bars -- The Jayhawks
10. A Free Land -- Husker Du

Bonus: Concrete & Barbed Wire -- Lucinda Williams

Except for a few exceptions, definitely a country feel this week. What's your top 10?

February 11, 2011

Friday Random Top 10

Gopher hoopsters without a true point guard and now are only NIT-worthy. After 4 seasons of Tubby, I thought we'd be better than this. But then again right now we live in loser-ville USA so it's to be expected. How about a random top 10:

1. City vs. County -- Jonathan Richman
2. Heart of Gold -- Neil Young
3. Shimmy Simmy Koko Bop -- Urban Guerrillas
4. Watcha Drinkin' -- Husker Du
5. Reach Out To Jesus -- Elvis Presley
6. Prison Cell Blues -- Blind Lemon Jefferson
7. Of Angels and Angles -- The Decemberists
8. Sam -- The Castaways
9. Drinker's Peace -- Guided By Voices
10. Complicated Situation -- Black Rebel Motorcycle Club

Bonus: Rich -- Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Very nice list, one of my favorites in a long time. Some old, some new, some gospel, some blues,some punk, some GBV. What's your top 10?

February 4, 2011

Friday Random Top 10

Can I root for both teams to lose the Superbowl? Cancel it because of an Eboli scare? Talk about two teams with such loathsome fan bases, it's just not fair to a Viking fan, even a tepid one like me. I'm going to drown myself in a random top 10:

1. Gypsy Cowboy -- New Riders of the Purple Sage
2. Until You Came Along -- Golden Smog
3. Conversation -- Gary Numan
4. Public Pervert -- Interpol
5. The Tumblers -- Guided By Voices
6. We'll Never Turn Back -- New Freedom Singers
7. Big Boring Wedding -- Guided By Voices
8. Hey Joe -- Hypstrz
9. I Still Can't Believe You're Gone -- Kelly Hogan & the Pine Valley Cosmonauts
10. I Can Be Killed -- Big Black

Bonus: Gotta Get Away -- Offspring

Nice little mix, Hey Joe is the only song on my i-pod that is sung by four different artists. What's your top 10.

January 28, 2011

Friday Random Top 10

In my continuing bid to attack this nasty winter that seems to have a death grip on our landscape and soul, I am going snow mountain biking this weekend. Never done it before and I really don't have the right gear, but what the heck. Here's a Random Top 10 to get me going:

1. I am Trying to Break Your Heart -- Wilco
2. Flower -- Liz Phair
3. What You Do To Me -- Teenage Fanclub
4. I Will Dare -- The Replacements
5. Making Waves -- Golden Smog
6. All Together Now -- The Beatles
7. One Tree Hill -- U2
8. Swingers -- The Wedding Present
9. Can't Hardly Wait -- The Replacements
10. Complex -- Gary Numan

Bonus: Lake of Fire -- Meat Puppets

Wow, talk about your "greatest hits of alternative music." (plus a lesser Beatles Track). Maybe I should go into radio programming. What's your top 10?

January 21, 2011

Friday Random Top 10

Yep, it's cold out (-15), but we are already 1 month removed from the shortest day of the year. Look at it this way, we more than halfway done with Winter and this is usually the coldest week, so it only gets better from here on out. Let's celebrate with a random top 10!

1. Negative Creep -- Nirvana
2. A Message to you -- The Specials
3. Mardy Bum -- Arctic Monkeys
4. Highly Evolved -- The Vines
5. Father and Son -- Johnny Cash
6. My Melancholy Baby -- Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie
7. I'll Know Better Next Time -- Sandi Shore
8. Option R -- Wire
9. Motor Away -- Guided By Voices
10. Mind the Gap -- The Soundtrack of our Lives

Bonus: Watch the Sunrise -- Big Star

Wo1, started off pretty heavy then eased up a bit. What's your top 10?

January 14, 2011

Friday Random Top 10

We are now officially in the dead of winter. And it feels and looks like it outside. Too much snow, cold weather with no foreseeable break, driving to and from work in the dark. We definitely need a random top 10 to warm up by...

1. Radio -- Teenage Fanclub
2. Love in Mind -- Neil Young
3. Bandit Cole Younger -- Edward Crain
4. Thirteen -- Big Star
5. Blue Canadian Rockies -- The Byrds
6. New Gods -- Meat Puppets
7. Let's Go Away for Awhile -- Beach Boys
8. Making Waves -- Golden Smog
9. Please Read This Letter -- Robert Plant & Alison Krauss
10. Weedking -- Guided By Voices

Bonus: Someone Else's Song -- Wilco

Now that was a nice list, think I'll go snowshoeing this weekend. What's your top 10?

January 7, 2011

Friday Random Top 10

So it's 2011 and I'm another year older. Who know maybe I'll start up the blog thing again. Whaddya think? Let's start it off with a random top 10:

1. Hare Krsna -- Husker Du
2. Into the Valley -- The Skids
3. When You Wake Up Feeling Old -- Wilco
4. Choking Tara (demo version) -- Guided By Voices
5. Age of Adz -- Sufjan Stevens
6. The Late Great -- A Ghost is Born (bonus tracks)
7. Pretty Bombs -- Guided By Voices
8. Wishing the Days Away -- Billy Bragg
9. Nobody Hurts You -- Graham Parker
10. Underwater Exlosion -- Guided By Voices

Bonus: On the Road -- Tom Waits

Wow! A GBV-Wilco full house! What's your top 10?

December 17, 2010

Friday Random Top 10

It's Christmas party season! We have three tonight. Thankfully two of them are really close to our house. Tomorrow should be quite however. I may have to actually do some Christmas shopping!! Here's a random top 10:

1. Otto -- The Replacements
2. Hiroshima Nagasaki Russian Roulette -- Jim Page
3. Just Like Honey -- The Jesus and Mary Chain
4. Buzzards and Dreadful Crows -- Guided By Voices
5. I Fought the Law -- The Dead Kennedy's
6. The New Pollution -- Beck
7. I'm Not Talking -- Hypstrz
8. Still Aging -- Soundtrack of our Lives
9. Church Pillow -- Guided By Voies
10. Me in Honey -- R.E.M.

Bonus: Your Mouth -- Trip Shakespeare

Meh. Not the greatest list. Oh well. What's your top 10?

December 10, 2010

Friday Random Top 10

Yikes! Big storm coming. Can't wait to try out my new snowshoes! Let's get ready with a random top 10....

1. Drain You -- Nirvana
2. Welcome to the Jungle -- Guns n' Roses
3. Wreck of the Old '97 -- Johnny Cash
4. Frances Farmer will get Her Revenge -- Nirvana
5. Rise Above -- Black Flag
6. Broken Arrow -- Neil Young
7. Far, Far Away -- Wilco
8. Give Me Another Chance -- Big Star
9. Come to the River -- The Jayhawks
10. Reception -- Trip Shakespeare

Bonus: New York Town -- Woody Guthrie

This list is like Donnie and Marie Osmond, a little bit country, a little bit rock and roll. What's your top 10?

December 3, 2010

Friday Random Top 10

Best sign at last nights Heat-Cavs game? "We should have drafted Darko!" Good stuff. Now a Random Top 10:

1. Off the Hook -- The Pscychedelicates
2. Chloroform -- Jack Logan
3. Unforgettable -- Nat King Cole
4. That's Really Super, Supermangirl -- XTC
5. Side of the Road -- Beck
6. Office of the Hearts -- Guided By Voices
7. Sunday Bloody Sunday -- U2
8. Enthusiasm for Life -- The Flaming Lips
9. Concrete Jungle -- The Specials
10. Have You Ever Been Loved -- Patsy Cline

Bonus: Reason to Believe -- Bruce Springsteen

Kind of a freaky list. What's your top 10?

November 19, 2010

Friday Random Top 10

Two fun Basketball games tonight. Lakers-Wolves and Gophers-Tarheels. Should be fun. Here's a top 10 to tide me over until tipoff(s)...

1. No Sleep Till Brooklyn -- Beastie Boys
2. 7 Chinese Bros. -- R.E.M.
3. Welcome -- The Who
4. Crazy Heart - Hank Williams
5. Take it Back -- She & Him
6. You're Crazy for Taking the Bus -- Jonathan Richman
7. Someday Baby -- Bob Dylan
8. We're Going to be Friends -- White Stripes
9. Lost Love -- Golden Smog
10. Spirit -- Trip Shakespeare

Bonus: Dry Bones -- Bascom Lamar Lunscomb

Little bit of variety with this list. What's on your top 10?

November 12, 2010

Friday Random Top 10

College visits for number 1 daughter almost complete. Now all I need is to win the lottery. Here's a random top 10 to start off the weekend.

1. Psycho -- The Sonics
2. Endgame -- R.E.M.
3. The Prettiest Thing on Saltcoast Beach -- Glasvegas
4. False Skorpion -- Pavement
5. Season of the Shark -- Yo La Tengo
6. I'm Sticking With You -- Velvet Undgerground
7. Hank's Little Fingers -- Guided By Voices
8. Walk This Way -- Run DMC and Aerosmith
9. Lies -- The Rolling Stones
10. Second Hand Love -- Bellwether

Bonus: Mardy Bum -- Arctic Monkeys

What's your top 10?

November 5, 2010

Friday Random Top 10

Now that the Republicans are committed to creating jobs, I am looking forward toward increased funding for K-12, MNSCU and the U of MN as nearly every study on the subject has shown that education is the key factor in job growth. Time for a random top 10....

1. When I Look at the World -- U2
2. We're Coming Out -- The Replacements
3. In My Memory -- Beat Happening
4. Too Much Too Young -- The Specials
5. Cold Light -- Yeah Yeah Yeahs
6. Baby Heartbeat -- The Suburbs
7. That's not the Issue -- Wilco
8. Sunken Treasure -- Wilco
9. Bossa Nova Baby -- Elvis Presley
10. Why Did You Land -- Guided By Voices

Bonus: Help Me Mary -- Liz Phair

This list looks like it could have come from 105 The Zone circa 1997. What's your top 10?

October 29, 2010

Friday Random Top 10

Every year I like to get leafs raked, gardens cut down, summer stuff put into the garage by November 1st. Guess what I will be doing this weekend? Also Gophers game v. OSU too, with seats close to the 50 yard line!!! Here's your top 10....

1. Buffalo Solder -- Bob Marley
2. That Summer Feeling -- Jonathan Richman
3. Surfin' Safari -- The Beach Boys
4. Nothing's Ever Gonna Stand in my Way -- Wilco
5. You are my Sunshine -- Johnny Cash
6. Front Yard -- Bellwether
7. Between and Erupting Earth and an Exploding Sky -- Los Campesinos!
8. Lost Someone -- James Brown
9. Off The Record (live) -- My Morning Jacket
10. The Future is in Eggs -- Guided By Voices

Bonus: Don't Cry Daddy -- Elvis Presley

If KQRS was a cool "classic rock" station, they would play about 80 percent of this list. As it is they maybe play the Marley song. What's your top 10?

October 15, 2010

Friday Random Top 10

Beautiful Fall Friday, I'll be walking around campus at lunch, high school football game in the evening. Can't think of a better way to spend the day. How about a random top 10?

1. Southern Rock Opera -- Drive By Truckers
2. Armalite Rifle -- Gang of Four
3. Black Diamond -- The Replacements
4. Wigwam -- Bob Dylan
5. Did I Tell You? -- To La Tengo
6. Legionnaire's Lament -- The Decemberists
7. Paper Tiger -- Beck
8. French Film Blurred -- Wire
9. She's Just a Girl -- Devo
10. Portland, Or -- Loretta Lynn w/Jack Black

Bonus: Southern Girls -- Cheap Trick

Nice variety. What's your top 10 list look like?

October 14, 2010

Guided By Voices at First Avenue -- Review

Club is open.jpg

I've been having a hard time getting my head around Tuesday's Guided By Voices show at First Avenue. Not that it wasn't great - it was. But in these reviews, I also try to find a hook to write about, figure out what it all means. I haven't been able to do with my GBV experience.

Like I said, the show was great. The band was in fine form and absolutely rocked. Robert Pollard was in fighting form, drinking of course but not hammered. Also he was in great shape and it looks like he's lost a bunch of weight which was nice because a few years ago it looked like Pollard's love of booze was going to make him a sad casualty of alcoholism.

gbv stage.jpg
Photo by Steve Cohen


Forty songs, three encores, two hours of music in front of aging, mostly male, hipsters will make for a fun evening regardless but when the band is Guided By Voices and the fan adoration is off the charts, well then you're talking something special. One of my favorite scenes was during the song Smothered in Hugs. This is a slower tune and there were two, large bearded guys in their thirties absolutely enthralled. They were singing at the top of their lungs complete with hand motions and absolute adoration in their eyes. It was like something out of a Taylor Swift concert but instead of 14 year old girls it was 30 year old dudes.


gbv crowd.jpg
Photo by Stacy Scwartz
(that's me by the PBR can in the "A" cap

Since the band was the "classic line-up" most of the songs were from the Bee Thousand, Alien Lanes, Propeller, Under the Bushes Under the Stars discs. It's hard to talk about a highlight since all the songs were fan favorites with solid performances. Of course Game of Pricks was a particular favorite of mine (see video below). City Pages also had a real nice review (plus slide show).

So I don't really have a hook for the show but maybe that's the intent. Guided By Voices has never been about hooks or meaning. It's just been about rock and roll, drinking beer, and having fun. And we had that in spades on Tuesday night at First Avenue, which if you think about it is really all you need.

Below is a video from Tuesday of Game of Pricks and Smothered by Hugs and here is a nice slide show as well from Steve Cohen.


October 12, 2010

GBV -- Tonight!!!!!

gbv suitcase.jpg

So tonight's finally the night. Guided By Voices at First Avenue. Normally I take a jaundiced view of these reunion tours. Usually the band is clearly just looking to cash in and playing the hits for anyone who wasn't old enough or cool enough to see them the first time around. That's why I avoided both the Pixies' and more recently, Pavement's recent tours -- even though I never saw either of those great bands in their prime. But for me, this is different.

I came to GBV late. One day in 2006, Mary Lucia of the Current played Motoraway, saying that GBV was one of her all time favorite bands. I remember listening and thinking that I've heard a couple of GBV songs, what's the big fuss? I did a little research, found out that Bee Thousand was considered a classic lo-fi album and I picked it up. The first song sounds like it was recorded on a little 4 track recorder in someone's basement. Which it was. A cool guitar solo all of sudden is gone and then back, just like if someone had accidentally pulled the cord out of the amp. After just a few listens I was hooked. From there I couldn't get enough GBV and now have over 400 songs (including Robert Pollard releases) on my I-pod, a couple of DVDs, a book, etc.

Of course I was bummed when I found out that GBV had actually disbanded a couple of years before I "discovered" them so I lamented the fact that I'd never get to see them live. I actually had a good excuse. GBV's main touring years were 1994-2004. Which was exactly my prime child-rearing years as we had a baby in 1993 and 1995. I didn't get to a lot of shows during that time period and only after the kids got a little older, did live music make it back into my entertainment choices.

So I'm making an exception for Guided By Voices. One it's at First Avenue, which is the perfect place to see this band. They've been touring for a couple of weeks now and the reviews are great. Set lists indicate a heavy dose of Bee Thousand, Alien Lanes, Propeller, and scattered other classics in a two-plus hour show. But mainly it's Guided By Voices: A band with infectious pop songs that thrill me today like they did when I first heard them.

Review (with pictures) will come tomorrow.


Cutout Witch from a couple of nights ago in Seattle

October 8, 2010

Friday Random Top 10

gbv collage.jpg

Guided By Voices are coming to First Avenue on Tuesday so this blog will be GBV-heavy over the next few days. To kick off the festivities instead of a random top 10 I thought I would list the top 10 GBV songs on my I-pod based on the number of plays they have got. GBV or Robert Pollard consists of over 400 of the 7,800 songs on my I-pod and the top 89 songs (based on # of plays) are GBV and 106 of the top 110 are as well, so I listen to a lot of Guided By Voices. Below are the top 10 songs and the number of times played on my I-pod.

1. Fly into Ashes - 27
2. Running Off With The Fun City Girls (demo) - 26
3. Choking Tara (demo) - 26
4. My Valuable Hunting Knife - 26
5. Hardcore UFO's - 25
6. It is Divine - 25
7. Motor Away - 25
8. You're Not an Airplane - 24
9. 7 Strokes to Heaven's Edge (outtake) - 24
10. Still Worth Nothing (outtake) - 24

Bonus: Game of Pricks -24

Now these aren't my favorite GBV songs (although a lot of them are) but the one's that just happened to get played the most. However no complaints about any one of these songs. What's your top 10?

October 1, 2010

Friday Random Top 10

Jim Thome and Target Field on cover of Sports Illustrated. Since then Mauer, Thome, Hardy, and Rausch hurt, Twins lose a bunch of games looking the Cleveland Indians, and a new billboard goes up in the plaza, much to the consternation of the Twins and the City. And who says there's no SI jinx? Looks like we need a Friday Top 10...

1. Newark Wilder -- Pavement
2. Dumb Dumb Dumb -- Teenage Fanclub
3. Corduroy -- The Wedding Present
4. Out Of The Picture -- Son Volt
5. Today -- Smashing Pumpkins
6. I Found Someone/Why Do You Do Me/I Want You So Bad -- James Brown
7. Nausea -- X
8. Ashamed Of Myself -- The Blasters
9. Golden Years -- David Bowie
10. Wonderboy -- The Kinks
Bonus: Remote Control -- The Clash

Nice mix of old and new. What's your top 10?

September 24, 2010

Friday Random Top 10

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Twins clinch and we only needed 151 games this year. What a novel concept. Here's random top 10 to celebrate:

1. Purple Rain -- Prince
2. I'm Just Happy to Dance with You -- The Beatles
3. 3rd Stone from the Sun -- Jimi Hendrix
4. Hate it Here (live) -- Wilco
5. I Want Candy -- The Strangeloves
6. At the Edge of the Sea -- The Wedding Present
7. Nevermore -- Soundtrack of our Lives
8. Just as I Am -- Johnny Cash
9. The Wait -- The Pretenders
10. Ideology -- Billy Bragg

Bonus: Leaving on a Jet Plan -- Peter Paul and Mary

Wow four songs from the 60's on that list. What's your top 10?

September 17, 2010

Friday Random Top 10

Flaming Lips in town on Sunday. I think they should sing the National Anthem at a Twins, Gophers or Vikings game this weekend. Here's a Random Top Ten.

1. David Watts -- The Jam
2. Faraway Eyes -- The Handsome Family
3. Wheels -- The Flying Burrito Brothers
4. Bad Seeds (live) -- Beat Happening
5. Neon Bible -- Arcade Fire
6. Whatcha Drinkin' -- Husker Du
7. The Other Way -- Weezer
8. Rubber Ring -- The Smiths
9. Ideology -- Billy Bragg
10. 3 Year Old Man -- Guided By Voices

Bonus: Bad Boys Get Spanked -- The Pretenders.

That list looks like it was programmed at a College radio station. When I was a Freshman in college me and a friend trashed a dorm room with Bad Boys Get Spanked as the soundtrack. I've always liked that song.

September 10, 2010

Friday Random Top 10

Ok that Viking's game was real "fun." Can we get back to baseball now or do we have to get excited about the Timberwolves? How about a random top ten:

1. South Australia -- The Pogues
2. All You Fascists -- Billy Bragg and Wilco
3. Silver -- Pixies
4. Unleashed! The Large Hearted Boy -- Guided By Voices
5. There's No There -- Dinosaur Jr.
6. Dr. Wu -- Minutemen
7. Folk Star -- Paul Westerberg
8. The New Kid (live) -- The Old 97's
9. Love and Happiness -- Al Green
10. London Girl -- The Jam

Bonus: Starman -- Golden Smog

Nice list. One of my favorites in a long while. What's your top 10?

September 3, 2010

Friday Random Top 10

My weekend project: Smashing my old cement steps in the back and building new wooden stairs. Fun! Here's a random top 10 to get me started...

1. Let the Train Blow the Whistle -- Johnny Cash
2. Palisades -- Wedding Present
3. Storm in My House -- Minutemen
4. Anna Begins -- Counting Crows
5. Artists Only (live) -- Talking Heads
6. The Underdog -- Spoon
7. Fifth House -- John Coltrane
8. Lone Star Trail -- Ken Manyard
9. Five Years -- David Bowie
10. Slate -- Uncle Tupelo

Bonus: On a Night Like this -- Los Lobos

O.k. Not the greatest list but what the heck it's Labor Day Weekend, what do you want? What's your top 10?

August 27, 2010

Friday Random Top 10

Do I have to give up my Minnesota cred because I don't like the MN State Fair? Am I missing something or is the fair nothing but a bunch of sweaty people waddling down an extremely congested street stuffing their face with incredibly unhealthy food? Here's a Random Top 10 as I wait for the State Fair police to through me into the gulag:

1. She Belongs to Me -- Bob Dylan
2. Desolation Row -- Bob Dylan
3. Cold Irons Bound -- Bob Dylan
4. Running out of Angels -- Elvis Costello
5. Eldorado -- Neil Young
6. Crushed -- The Wedding Present
7. Keep on the Sunny Side -- The Carter Family
8. Am I Evil -- Metallica
9. Human Touch -- Elvis Costello
10. Yours to Keep -- Guided By Voices

Bonus: Beautiful Noise -- Neil Diamond.

Wow! The incredibly rare Artist consecutive triple shot. I've never had that before. Lots of classic artists in this list. What's your top 10?

August 20, 2010

Friday Random Top 10

Ouch 11-0 smarts but taking 2 of 3 from the Whities was good. I'm going to two games this week against the Halos. Here's a Top 10 to celebrate.

1. 2:45 a.m. -- Elliot Smith
2. On the Evening Train -- Johnny Cash
3. On the Roof -- The Feelies
4. Radio Free Europe -- R.E.M
5. Perfect Blue Building -- Counting Crows
6. Mercury -- The Wedding Present
7. Drug Test -- Yo La Tengo
8. Fyt -- This Mortal Coil
9. Divide and Conquer -- Husker Du
10. And So this is Christmas -- John Lennon

Bonus: Human Touch -- Elvis Costello

Nice fun list for a Friday, what's your top 10?

August 13, 2010

Friday Random Top 10

Came in 43rd out of 250 teams in last week's Urban Assault Ride. Easily Top 10 for teams over 40. This in 90 degree heat! Here's a top 10:

1. London Traffic -- the Jam
2. Professional Distortion -- Ms. Kitty
3. New World -- Soul Asylum
4. Seventeen -- Sex Pistols
5. Whole Lotta Love -- Led Zeppelin
6. Matter of Time -- Magnolias
7. Neighbors -- Jonathan Richman
8. Levitate Me -- Pixies
9. Big Cheif Chinese Restaurant -- Guided By Voices
10. When I Look at the World -- U2

Bonus: Candle -- Sonic Youth

Except for a few examples a very loud list. What's your top 10?

July 30, 2010

Friday Random Top 10

July is just about in the books. Lazy days of August are just ahead. Man what happened to the Summer?

1. Blues Die Hard -- Uncle Tupelo
2. Sullivan Street -- Counting Crowes
3. Music for Boys -- The Suburbs
4. The Saturday Boy -- Billy Bragg
5. Fountain of Youth -- Guided By Voices
6. My Melancholy Baby -- Charlie Parker and Dizzie Gillespie
7. Miracle of the Rosary -- Elvis Presley
8. Ordinary Guy -- Fred Eaglesmith
9. Sopor Joe -- Guided By Voices
10. Simple Twist of Fate -- Bob Dylan

Bonus: Half a Person -- The Smiths

Music For Boys, now that brings me back. What's your top 10?

July 16, 2010

Friday Random Top 10

Big weekend for the Twins. Gotta win 3 of 4 or else they are in big big trouble. Here's a random top 10.

1. Six Days on the Road -- Steve Earle
2. Crazy -- Patsy Cline
3. Rise Above -- Black Flag
4. Think of Me -- Buck Owens
5. Suicide is Painless -- Nick Drake
6. Stop -- Luther Wright and the Wrongs
7. Careless Love -- Camera Obscura
8. High Fidelity -- Elvis Costello
9. Model Matches -- Elvis Costello
10. Beside You -- Van Morrison

Bonus: Cut-out Witch -- Guided By Voices

GBV tix on sale today!!!! Can't believe I am actually going to see them. What's your top 10?

July 9, 2010

Friday Random Top 10

I've got Spain winning the World Cup and the Miami Heat having a honeymoon of exactly one year before things go real sour. Oh and the Twins? What's up?!? We need a Random Top 10 desparately...

1. Sweet Child O' Mine -- Guns and Roses
2. Drinker's Peace -- Guided By Voices
3. I Saw the Light -- Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
4. The Sounds of the Suburbs -- The Members
5. Taking Dust Bowl Blues -- Woody Guthrie
6. Rhinocerus -- Smashing Pumpkins
7. Another Brick in the Wall Part 1 -- Luther Wright and the Wrongs
8. Night Train -- Elvis Costello
9. Johnny Ryall -- Beastie Boys
10. Complicated Fun -- Magnolias

Bonus: South of the Border -- Patsy Cline

A bunch of variety there. What's your top 10?

June 25, 2010

Friday Random Top 10

O.k. Timberwolves what is your plan? Did your team get better last night? Why should I care about this team? Here's a top 10?

1. No Wrong No Right -- Soundgarden
2. Fair Touching -- Guided By Voices
3. 100% of Nothing -- Meat Puppets
4. Standing by the Sea -- Husker Du
5. Cumberland Blues -- Grateful Dead
6. Queen's Tattoos -- Aztec Camera
7. All I Want -- Offspring
8. Heaven and Hell -- The Who
9. Gutless -- Hole
10. Television -- Bad Religion

Bonus: H-O-M-E -- Guided By Voices

Wow that was a heavy set there. What's your top 10?

June 18, 2010

Friday Random Top 10

Europe not looking so hot in World Cup action. South America is. Should be a great two weeks. Here's a random top 10:

1. Love For Tender (Demo) -- Elvis Costello
2. The Wreck on the Highway -- The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
3. Oceans -- Gary Numan
4. Strawberry Fields Forever -- The Beatles
5. Lazy Days of Summer -- Nat King Cole
6. Johnny Be Goode -- Jimi Hendrix
7. Girl of My Dreams -- Beck
8. What Led Me to this Town -- The Jayhawks
9. Frankie -- Mississippi John Hurt
10. Rev It Up -- Fred Eaglesmith

Bonus: Emily Shore 1819-1839 -- The Handsome Family

That Handsome Family selection is the definitive "pioneer girl dies of TB" song you will ever find. What's your top 10?

June 11, 2010

Friday Random Top 10

If a guy named Wilson Betemit can hit 2 homeruns at Target Field, surely some Twins other than Jason Kubel could do the same. How about a random top 10 for this stormy day?

1. Lovers of Today -- The Pretenders
2. Opposite Direction -- Jack Logan
3. House Carpenter -- The Handsome Family
4. In the Morning of the Magicians -- Flaming Lips
5. Unspirited -- Guided By Voices
6. A Song For You -- Gram Parsons
7. Army Ants -- Tom Waits
8. I Don't Want You -- The Blasters
9. Shirley MacLaine -- The 757s
10. Ridin' High -- The Gamins

Bonus: Starship -- MC5

O.k. Pretty obscure today. Hopefully I'll start blogging on a more regular basis next week. What's your top 10?

June 4, 2010

Friday Random Top 10

Why can't MLB just put in the record books that Galarraga pitched a perfect game with an asterisk about the umps blown call? Leave the box score alone.

1. Mr. Pleasant -- The Kinks
2. Never Talking to You Again -- Husker Du
3. Sopor Joe -- Guided By Voices
4. Always on the Outside -- The 757s
5. Wayfaring Stranger -- Johnny Cash
6. Airlane -- Gary Numan
7. Knee Deep in the Blues -- International Submarine Band
8. To be a Killer -- Wes Houston
9. Teenagers -- Meat Puppets
10. Living With War -- Neil Young

Devil Doll -- Roy Orbison

Bit of a mix here, but lots of old school. What's your top 10?

May 28, 2010

Friday Random Top 10

Going to SoDak for a few days. Living the glamorous life I tells ya. Here's a random top 10:

1. Rebellion (lies) -- Arcade Fire
2. They -- Guided By Voices
3. Hey -- Pixies
4. Give My Love to Rose -- Johnny Cash
5. Crush the Pill -- Mason Jennings
6. Ego Tripping at the Gates of Hell -- Flaming Lips
7. Falling Sugar -- Palace Guard
8. The World Has Turned -- Weezer
9. Abernant 1984/85 -- Mekons
10. Outsmarted -- The Hives

Bonus: Documented Minor Emotional Breakdown #1 -- Los Campesinos!

If there was any justice in the musical world, The Mekons would be a world famous band. What's your top 10?

May 27, 2010

Blitzkrieg Bop

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This morning on my bike ride into work on a glorious morning the song Blitzkrieg Bop came on the I-pod. Nearly 35 years after it was released Blitzkrieg Bop is everywhere. You hear "hey ho... let's go" at the ballpark when the home team is in need of a rally. You hear it on commercials for video games and in movie trailers. Eight year olds and 60-something grandma's could probably hum a few bars or would admit that they are familiar with the song.

Of course it wasn't always that way. Being a teenager in the suburban hinterlands in the late 70's one heard of the Ramones and punk rock but it was some scary, forbidden music played only in New York City or Los Angeles. Sure you'd see a picture of a punk rocker in the back pages of Rolling Stone or Creem but there was really no way to hear the music. It's a very different world now where the internet allows someone to easily call up a song and at least hear a snippet of the song, if not its entirety.

Hearing Blitzkrieg Bop this morning reminded me of the first time I think I actually heard the song. It was in 1981 (5 years after it was released! I'm telling you it was a different time). I was listening to the radio show Progressions on NPR. Now Progressions was a way for new music to get out to the rest of the country. I think it was produced in San Francisco (sorry I couldn't find anything on the interwebs about Progressions) and was played late at night on some NPR stations. It had an early 70's FM radio vibe with a mellow, educated DJ who would spin the latest and classic punk, new wave, and other unplayed music on the radio from London, Manchester, NYC, and Los Angeles. Sometimes Progressions came across as a music professor playing music as some sort of anthropological study, showcasing this weird music for those intrigued by what was going on in the music meccas of the world. But for an 18 year old, it was just fun listening to music one never heard before.

I was completely enthralled when I first heard Blitzkrieg Bop. It was loud, short, but it wasn't as scary as I thought it would be. It was actually fun rock and roll, just sped up a little. It was definitely a marker in my realization that what was passing as popular music was actually quite lame and that there was a whole wide world of music that I was missing, and not only was it good, but it was quite accessible. For that reason I have mixed feelings when I hear Blitzkrieg Bop on a video game commercial. Sure it's nice to see that our culture has changed so that music like this is now considered mainstream (and believe me it would never be played at the ballpark if it wasn't mainstream). But on the other hand there's just a small part of me who wishes there that songs like Blitzkrieg Bop were left undiscovered by the mass marketers and instead were shared only by those who truly love the music and are willing to go out and listen to something new, different, and a little off the beaten track (even if it takes them five years to discover it).

May 21, 2010

Friday Random Top 10

Welcome Milwaukee Brewer fans, come see what a real ballpark look likes. Enjoy a random top 10 while you're at it:

1. Life Worth Living -- Uncle Tupelo
2. Riot Act -- Elvis Costello
3. What Ever Gets You Through the Night -- Los Lonely Boys
4. A Man And A Woman -- U2
5. Waiting For A Miracle -- Leonard Cohen
6. Jean Genie -- David Bowie
7. Folsom Prison Blues (live) -- Johnny Cash
8. Journey to the Center of your Mind -- Amboy Dukes
9. Photograph -- Weezer
10. I Hung My Head -- Sting

Bonus: Think -- Aretha Franklin

Lot of big names in that list. Amboy Dukes only Nugent on my I-Pod. What's your top 10?

May 14, 2010

Friday Random Top 10

My 16 year old daughter is going to Prom tomorrow night. How did that happen? I definitely need a random top 10:

1. Bodysnatchers -- Radiohead
2. Border Song -- Elton John
3. O, Dana -- Big Star
4. Eronel -- Thelonious Monk
5. Some People Like That -- G. Love & Special Sauce
6. May The Circle Be Unbroken -- 13th Floor Elevators
7. Go It Alone -- Beck
8. Look What You've Done For Me -- Al Green
9. Ballerina -- Van Morrison
10. Kamera -- Wilco

Bonus: Spirit on the Water -- Bob Dylan

Little bit of a nice mix there, some obscurities that's for sure. What's your top 10?


May 7, 2010

Friday Random Top 10

757s at Sauce (Lake and Lyndale) tonight. Who's going? How about a random top 10 for this rainy Friday.

1. Parties in the U.S.A. -- Jonathan Richman
2. With God on our Side -- Bob Dylan
3. She's Just a Girl -- Devo
4. Greenface -- Guided By Voices
5. Lust for Life -- Iggy Pop
6. Lip Up Fatty -- Bad Manners
7. Mary Jane -- The Vines
8. Trilogy: Z) Eliminator Jr. -- Sonic Youth
9. Child of the Moon -- Yung Wu
10. All I Need -- Radiohead

Bonus: Revolution Rock -- The Clash

Who thought that first song was going to be by Miley Cyrus? Ha! That Yung Wu album as one of the greatest off shoot albums of all time. What's your top 10?

May 3, 2010

Handsome Family - Bottomless Hole

The Handsome Family are a great husband-wife duo who sing macabre country songs. Originally from Chicago, they've settled in New Mexico for some time now to wonderful effect toward their songwriting. They are a hoot live and I try to catch them every so often when they ramble through town. The video above is one of my favorites: It's about a guy who thinks he has a bottomless pit in his barn and it bugs him so much that he decides to rig up a bathtub and some rope to find out if it is truly bottomless. By the end of the song, he's cut the rope and is still falling. Enjoy.

April 30, 2010

Friday Random Top 10

Drill Baby Drill becomes spill baby spill which then becomes burn baby burn, then finally clean baby clean. Hey President Obama, here's some advice: If the Republicans are proposing something, run away fast in the opposite direction. Here's a top 10:

1. Mannequin's Complaint - Guided By Voices
2. Brown Sugar -- Rolling Stones
3. Stupid Bells -- The Handsome Family
4. I'll Cry Alone -- Flamin' Groovies
5. Anglepoise Lamp -- The Soft Boys
6. Shit From an Old Notebook -- Minutemen
7. If You See Her Say Hello -- Bob Dylan
8. Fuck Everything -- Jack Logan
9. I Think I'm Down -- The Harbinger Complex
10. Johnny B. Goode -- Buck Owens

Bonus: Acid Tongue -- Jenny Lewis

ah, Brown Sugar -- one of the rockingest, raunchiest songs from the Stones rocking and raunchy era. Gotta love Dylan following The Minutemen too. What's your top 10?

April 26, 2010

Video -- Charlie Pickett and the Eggs

Charlie Pickett actually came by and left a comment from an album review I did last summer. Thanks for stopping by Charlie! So here's a video from a concert he did a couple of years ago. When's the stop in Minneapolis?

Enjoy.

April 19, 2010

Sly and the Family Stone

So Sly Stone made a fool of himself again at Coachella over the weekend. It's really too bad as Sly obviously isn't in any shape to perform anymore. The above video is from a time when Sly and his family Stone were the coolest thing in music, enjoy.

Also, if you want to read up on what Sly and the Family Stone meant to late's 60's popular music, check out Griel Marcus' book Mystery Train.

April 11, 2010

Meat Puppets @ 400 Bar

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I just couldn't pass up an opportunity to see the Meat Puppets so I headed on down to the 400 Bar this weekend and re-lived some of my 20-something years. I had seen the Meat Puppets twice, once in 1984 at Duffy's when they were still pretty much a punk outfit and then in 1988 (or 1989) when their concerts were face shredding rock shows (here's a downloadable concert from that era). Now some 20 years later, would they still bring the rock or would too many years and too many drugs sap the Meat Puppets of what made them so cool to begin with?

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Curt and Chris Jammin' to Up On the Sun

I am happy to say that the Meat Puppets can still throw down. I was constantly amazed that a three member band could make so much noise. Curt Kirkwood still has those stringy vocals and plays a loud guitar while his brother Chris is just as freaky as ever on the bass. One of my favorite early moments was during Up On the Sun. They start out pretty straight but then at the end it's just wild guitar loops and feedback. Now that was cool enough, but every so often Chris would saunter on over to the mic and yelp. It was amazing and just blew me away.

(O.k. here's an aside about modern technology. If you are going to go to a concert, zoo, dance recital, baseball game whatever and plan on taking video, make sure your camera is charged up! I was taping the aforementioned song, when 2 minutes into it my camera's batteries died. So I have Up On The Sun taped, but only the mellow first half and not the freaky second half. I was able to coax a few more pictures out of the camera, but there was never enough juice to tape anything. Sorry).

The one great thing about a Meat Puppets concert is that you never know what you are going to get in the later half. Same deal Friday night. Besides all the Meat Puppet favorites we also got How Great Thou Art, A Closer Walk with Thee oh and Greg Norton (late of Husker Du) playing bass on Tomorrow Never Knows. How cool is that?!? There were a few other wacky covers in there too, but my mind is a little foggy from the vodka.

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Yep that's Greg Norton playing bass on Tomorrow Never Knows

All and all a great time, and a great band. I am glad that the Meat Puppets are "too high to die" and still making fun music some 25 years after I first came across them.

April 9, 2010

Friday Random Top 10

Going to see The Meatpuppets at the 400 Bar tonight. As a nod to my age, I actually picked up some earplugs. Here's a random top 10:

1. Another Letter -- Wire
2. King of the Mountain -- Midnight Oil
3. South Australia -- The Pogues
4. Crumbs From Your Table -- U2
5. Working on the Highway -- Bruce Springsteen
6. Baby's Got Sauce -- G. Love and Special Sauce
7. Kamera -- Wilco
8. So You Want to Be A Rock Star? -- The Byrds
9. I Let Him Get To Me -- Beat Happening
10. Mary of the Wild Moor -- Johnny Cash

Bonus: Cemetery Gates -- The Smiths

For the 2nd week in a row, not the greatest list. What's your top 10?

April 5, 2010

Live Rust -- Cortez the Killer

Live Rust was probably one of the first "midnight movies" I ever saw and definitely kicked off my life-long love of Neil Young.

A concert film from 1978, Live Rust chronicled a Neil Young at one of his creative peaks. As he still does today, Young included an acoustic set and an electric set, this time with the added gimmick of having the acoustic set played on an extra large set so as to make it appear that Neil was quite small. In addition during some songs, the movie was presented in "rust-o-vision" which meant they put an orange screen over the film. It was a blast.

This particular video is Cortez the Killer, which of course is a great song. I love how members of Crazy Horse surround Neil as he plays, I also love that guitar playing pose Young maintains during the long guitar parts.

If you have the single CD version of Live Rust you may not know it but the CD cuts about 2 minutes from this song in order for the entire show to fit within the 74 minute limitation of a CD. For many years I always thought this song was a little short but only came across the reason why recently. Don't worry, the video above has Cortez the Killer uncut. "Plenty Bad Man."

April 2, 2010

Friday Random Top 10

First outdoor Twins game this afternoon. No secret there. Taking the bus downtown from the U. Then a pre-game All-you-can-eat fish fry at Glueks (it is Good Friday). I especially want to see the flag pole dedication, as one flag pole use to be at the old Met (thanks Rick!). Also Albert Pujols, gotta see that monster. Forecast is for rain but I don't care, even welcome it. Ain't life great? Here's top 10:

1. Hong Kong Garden -- Siouxsie and the Banshees
2. I Zimbra -- Talking Heads
3. Helpless -- Neil Young
4. Tell Mama -- Etta James
5. White Moon -- The White Stripes
6. Red-Eyed and Blue -- Wilco
7. Come Out and Play -- The Offspring
8. White and Lazy -- The Replacements
9. Shrunken Head -- Jack Logan
10. Poor Little Fish -- The Jayhawks

Bonus: Tell Me Why -- The Beatles

Meh, not the greatest list of all time, who cares! Did I tell you I will be watching Twins baseball outside, in Minnesota, today? What's your top 10?

March 29, 2010

X on David Letterman

I first saw X in the summer of 1982 at the old Guthrie Theater. It was a fun show but since it was at the Guthrie, the ushers wouldn't allow anyone to get up and move, which was a bummer. The Guthrie was trying to be all cutting edge and stuff but not that cutting edge.

I first came across X in the movie Decline of Western Civilization, which chronicled the late 70's, early 80's L.A. punk scene. The interviewer asked John Doe why their songs were so dark and depressing and he responded that life is dark and depressing and it's not all fun fun fun until her daddy took her T-bird away.

This video is from the early 80's when Letterman actually had some cool bands from time to time. The first song is o.k. but the interview is funny. X then finishes with a blistering version of Breathless. Enjoy.

March 26, 2010

Friday Random Top 10

Wow, that Xavier/K-State game was one for the ages. This is one of my favorite weekends chock full of college basketball and hockey. Let's start it off with a Friday Random Top 10:

1. Vicar in a Tutu -- The Smith
2. Via Chicago -- Wilco
3. Papa was a Rodeo -- Kelly Hogan and the Pine Valley Cosmonauts
4. Stop Your Sobbing -- The Pretenders
5. Raised In the City -- The Replacements
6. Faraway Eyes -- The Handsome Family
7. All You Fascists -- Billy Bragg and Wilco
8. Drug Train -- Social Distortion
9. Garageland -- The Clash
10. French Film Blurred -- Wire

Bonus: -- About You -- Teenage Fanclub

Little 70's and 80's punk vibe going there, I'm liking this list. What's your top 10?

March 22, 2010

Oh What a Weekend

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Lots going on over the last few days, let's review:

Twins sign Joe Mauer.
Eight years at $23M per year. Probably not a hometown discount but a fair deal nonetheless. Twins have proven that with their glorious new ballpark, they are willing to spend money, which some dunderheads thought wouldn't happen. After a slow start, gotta give Twins GM an A- for his off-season efforts to improve the Twins. Also open houses at Target Field have people jacked up for the Twins. Given that Wild, Twolves, Gophers are done, the field is wide open for a lot of Twins love.

Health Care. Obama has done something that has eluded Presidents since Teddy Roosevelt. In a couple of years we are going to be asking what the sturm and drang was all about regarding this debate. Fascinating politics and policy discussion for those interested in watching.

March Madness. My bracket is blown up as I had Kansas winning it all. However even before that I was in deep trouble. My upsets didn't come through and I missed the upsets that did happen. Big Ten has three teams in sweet 16 so let's put to rest the discussion that Big Ten basketball somehow isn't as good as other conferences. Also can we start calling the Big East the Big Least? Tubby went one and done again although Xavier looks like a team that could do some more damage. I was disappointed in the Gopher's season and although respect Tubby as a program coach, have some serious questions about his in game coaching decisions.

Video Stores. Our local Hollywood Video is going out of business which means we have to join the world of Netflix. It is sad because the loss of the local video store means one less place for human interaction. Invariably we would run into friends and colleagues at the Video store, can't do that on-line ordering a movie. Pretty soon the only time you come across a human will be at their funeral.

Alex Chilton. Lots of good articles if you want to search. Paul Westerberg had a nice remembrance in the New York Times. You can read it here.

March 19, 2010

Friday Random Top 10

Saw an excellent Ike Reilly show last night at the Entry. Also my bracket while listing, is still in play. Let's do a top 10:

1. You Ain't Gotta Dance (demo) -- The Replacements
2. Everlasting Everything -- Wilco
3. We Are The Ones -- The Avengers
4. What Have You Done? -- William Shatner
5. All Blues -- Miles Davis
6. The Line -- Bruce Springsteen
7. Silver -- The Pixies
8. Absolutely Sweet Marie -- Bob Dylan
9. All Shook Up -- Elvis Presley
10. Nature Boy -- Nat King Cole

Bonus: Better Days -- The Jayhawks

Lot of heavy hitters on that list. What's your top 10?

March 18, 2010

Alex Chilton 1950-2010

Forty-something hipster dudes with black plastic framed glasses (ahem) everywhere are mourning the death of Alex Chilton today. Seems appropriate that in 2010 I hear about his death through a tweet on my cell phone. A great songwriter who inspired many of the bands that are scattered throughout my i-pod, Alex Chilton's death is another one of those markers that remind us that life marches on inexorably toward death.

I can't think of a better tribute than the video above of Paul Westerberg singing Alex
Chilton
.

Also here's a nice article about Alex Chilton.

March 15, 2010

Nirvana on SNL

Nirvana had just released its follow-up album to Nevermind and everyone from record executives to teenage boys were waiting with bated breath to see what they would pull off. 10 days after the album release, Nirvana was booked on SNL to help publicize the album, not that it needed any attention.

You can image the horror on the record executive and SNL producer's faces when Nirvana came out and sang the song Rape Me. In addition to the the definitely non-radio friendly title, the lyrics, though not explicit, were pretty aggressive: Rape me, Rape me my friend, Hate me, do it again and again.

Actually Nirvana wanted to play this song at the 1992 MTV Video Music Awards but MTV wouldn't let them. They decided on Lithium instead but started playing a few bars of Rape Me to mess with MTV, almost leading MTV to go to a commercial.

The song was renamed "Waif Me" for Wal-Mart and Kmart stores, which found the actual title too controversial.

It is generally well documented that Cobain was high on heroin during this version and if you can get past the lyrics it's a pretty rockin' song. Also Cobain maintained that the song wasn't about actual rape, but about what the music industry was doing to his music.

March 12, 2010

Friday Random Top 10

Bike's in the shop for its annual tune-up. Snow and ice will be gone this week. It won't be long. Here's a top 10 to celebrate:

1. Jill Can Drive -- Trip Shakespeare
2. Her Majesty -- The Beatles
3. Wait Up -- Uncle Tupelo
4. I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry -- Cowboy Junkies
5. Bodies -- Sex Pistols
6. I Can See Clearly Now -- Soul Asylum
7. God Damn Job -- The Replacements
8. My Oklahoma Home - Bruce Springsteen
9. You Can't Do That -- The Beatles
10. Just a Closer Walk With Thee -- Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash

Bonus: That Lucky Old Sun -- Johnny Cash

Almost exactly a year after I became known on the intertubes as "the guy who hates The Beatles" I have two Beatles songs. Go figure. At 23 seconds, Her Majesty is only tied for 16th as shortest song on my I-pod. Shortest song? Relaxing With Lee (False Start) by Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie at 8 seconds. What's your shortest song?

March 8, 2010

Sex Pistols' Last Song -- No Fun

This performance of the Iggy and the Stooges song No Fun was the last song ever performed by the Sex Pistols and it comes from the infamous 1977-78 tour of the United States.

By the time the Sex Pistols had gotten to San Francisco Johnny Rotten had had enough of the Sex Pistols, the tour, and their manager Malcolm McClure McLaren. The entire show can be seen on you tube and it's actually pretty good, but I always like this song, not only because it's the last song ever, but it totally sums up what it was like being a Sex Pistol -- No Fun.

The end has probably one the greatest kiss-offs of any lead singer to an audience: "Ah ha ha ha... ever get the feeling you've been cheated. Good Bye." And that was the end. Later, Rotten said the remark was more directed at himself than it was to the audience.

So enjoy, and if you are interested, the rest of the concert is easy to find on you tube.

March 5, 2010

Friday Random Top 10

I picked out my Twins tix last night. Better start sucking up if you want to go to a game.

1. Mindless Child of Motherhood -- The Kinks
2. Never Let Go -- Tom Waits
3. Slipping (Into Something) -- The Feelies
4. My Uptight Life -- Teenage Fanclub
5. You Must Be A Witch -- The Lollypop Shoppe
6. Take Me! -- The Wedding Present
7. From a Motel 6 -- Yo La Tengo
8. Down By The River -- Neil Young
9. Season of the Shark -- Yo La Tengo
10. Car Song -- Woodie Guthrie

Bonus: Where there is Smoke, There is Fire -- Urban Guerrillas

Very nice list. When are the Feelies going to come to the hinterland?

March 1, 2010

Pink Floyd -- Interstellar Overdrive

This is by far my favorite Pink Floyd Song and this rare video has the extra treat of showing Syd Barrett playing guitar. Video actually comes in 2 parts, but part 1 has some fleeting NSFW images. Includes some trippy Londoners from 1966 but mainly Syd and the boys freaking out on their guitars. Enjoy.

February 26, 2010

Friday Random Top 10

The 10 Billionth song sold at I-tunes: Guess Things Happen That Way by Johnny Cash. I would have guessed something by Justin Bieber. Here's my top 10:

1. Penny Lane -- The Beatles
2. From the Gut -- Husker Du
3. Cumberland Blues -- Grateful Dead
4. Four in One -- Thelonious Monk
5. Lie to Me -- Tom Waits
6. Let's Go Away For a While -- The Beach Boys
7. Dead In the Water -- The Super Suckers
8. Fuck & Run -- Liz Phair
9. Dutch Boy -- The Handsome Family
10. Dream Vacation -- Gear Daddies

Bonus: Early Mornin Rain -- Peter Paul and Mary

Contrary to popular belief, that Liz Phair song was not written about me. Good variety in this list. Not super great songs, but a good variety.

February 22, 2010

Elvis Costello on Saturday Night Live 12/17/1977

Elvis Costello appeared on Saturday Night Live in December 1977 pretty early in his career as My Aim is True was only released in the States 6 months prior to this appearance. Actually he was a last minute replacement for the Sex Pistols. Of course the appearance is celebrated for the fact that Costello stops the Attractions a few seconds into Less Than Zero ("there's no reason for us to play that song") and launches instead into Radio Radio, a song which hadn't been released yet. The story is that Elvis wasn't allowed to play that song because it was "too controversial" for TV -- although Lorne Michaels disputes such claims. Funny, Costello didn't appear on SNL for another 12 years, so I think Michaels is engaging in a little bit of revisionist history in order to maintain SNL's counter-culture reputation.

I was staying over at my friend Chris' house when we saw this episode of SNL and his mom was watching with us. His mom thought that the whole Elvis Costello thing was a skit as she couldn't believe that this skinny, frentic guy in Buddy Holly glasses was an actual singer. She was dumbfounded when we told her that no, he was a real singer and came from England. Good stuff.

This is a pretty fast and furious version of Radio Radio heightened by the fact that Elvis does stop the previous song. This was difficult to find on-line as it's not on youtube. It's some Dutch site I think but works just fine. Enjoy

February 19, 2010

Friday Random Top 10

Only 4 weeks until Ike Reilly week. Got your tix yet? I have mine for the March 18th show at the Entry. Here's a Random Top 10:

1. Powerline -- Husker Du
2. An Oscar for Treadwell -- Charlie Parker & Dizzy Gillespie
3. Looking Down the Barrell of a Gun -- Beastie Boys
4. Back to the Night -- Joan Armatrading
5. Capital Radio 2 -- The Clash
6. Beyond & Back (live) -- X
7. Happy Day -- Talking Heads
8. Leap Frog (take 6) -- Charlie Parker & Dizzy Gillespie
9. Bossa Nova Baby -- Elvis Presley
10. Icicles -- Badfinger

Bonus: 40 -- U2

Some classic punk mixed in with a bunch of other stuff and 2 Bird and Diz from the same album! What's your top 10?

February 15, 2010

Devo - Satisfaction SNL 10/14/78

A lot of younger people don't realize how polarizing this version of Satisfaction was, especially when it was played on Saturday Night Live in the Fall of 1978. I was in 10th Grade and I still remember the school bus on Monday morning literally buzzing with a reaction as lines were drawn pretty stark between those who thought it was terrible, those who thought it was incredible, and those who didn't know what the fuss was all about. Although the later group didn't really participate in the on-bus discussion.

By 1978 classic rock and roll had a stranglehold on popular music. Sure here in the hinterlands we had maybe heard of The Ramones or Sex Pistols, but hadn't really heard them. To see this weird band take such an integral part of the rock and roll canon like Satisfaction and turn it into some sort of robotic freak music was unheard of and it was hard to get your mind around what it meant.

I just love this performance. The yellow suit, the eyeglass, but especially the herk-jerky movements that remind me of Disney animatronics such as The Country Bear Jamboree. Pay particular attention to the end as the guitar player drops his guitar, lifts his hand...holds it... then bows. Like a robot that just got turned off.

I think the reaction was so strong on that bus because kids realized that if you could do that to such an iconic song, then anything was possible musically and some were terrified of that notion while others thought it liberating. That we could actually see it on our TVs, that it was happening in our rec rooms and not in some dank club in NYC meant that it could happen here too. And it was. Unbeknownst to probably everyone on that bus is that just 25 miles to the east bands such as The Suicide Commandos and Suburbs were just beginning to take the same attitude toward their music, while others such as Paul Westerberg and Bob Stinson were still listening to the Beatles and the Stones, but were playing and writing different kind of songs of their own in their bedrooms.

Kids kind of hated this version but were excited by the opportunities it presented. The old ways making music were crumbling and not everything that was rock and roll meant listening to acts that played at Woodstock or were part of the 60s. The door was wide open for interpretation and although it took me a few more years, I would end up running through it at full throttle.

February 12, 2010

Friday Random Top 10

Two months from day is the official opening of Target Field and the beginning of outdoor baseball in Minnesota. Can you tell I'm counting down the days? Here's a random top 10 to get us just a little closer to that date.

1. Cool Blues -- Charlie Parker
2. High Fidelity -- Elvis Costello
3. Talking World War III Blues -- Bob Dylan
4. Top of the World -- The 757's
5. Radio Clash -- The Clash
6. Neighborhood #4 (7 Kettles) -- Arcade Fire
7. Airlane -- Gary Numan
8. Fistful of Steel -- Rage Against the Machine
9. Street Spirit -- Radiohead
10. Bad -- U2

Bonus: Let It Be Me -- Social Distortion

Took out the big guns this week, U2, Dylan, Elvis Costello, Radiohead, Rage, The Clash. What's your top 10?

February 8, 2010

Johnny Cash - The Man in Black

Johnny Cash maintained that he always wore black because he looked good in it. And he did. However, in the song The Man in Black, Cash lays a more serious reason for the black attire: There's so much darkness in the world, it doesn't make sense to wear bright colors. He wore black as in mourning of wars and suffering.

This is one of my favorite Johnny Cash songs, and one of his more political songs. This song was released during the height of the Vietnam War and it's pretty obvious his sentiments lie with those protesting the war. Given that he was a "Country" star, this stand was pretty radical for its day. Also this recording is from Denmark. If this had happened during the Iraq war, just think of the reaction on Fox News for criticizing the war effort on foreign shores.


Well, you wonder why I always dress in black,
Why you never see bright colors on my back,
And why does my appearance seem to have a somber tone.
Well, there's a reason for the things that I have on.

I wear the black for the poor and the beaten down,
Livin' in the hopeless, hungry side of town,
I wear it for the prisoner who has long paid for his crime,
But is there because he's a victim of the times.

I wear the black for those who never read,
Or listened to the words that Jesus said,
About the road to happiness through love and charity,
Why, you'd think He's talking straight to you and me.

Well, we're doin' mighty fine, I do suppose,
In our streak of lightnin' cars and fancy clothes,
But just so we're reminded of the ones who are held back,
Up front there ought 'a be a Man In Black.

I wear it for the sick and lonely old,
For the reckless ones whose bad trip left them cold,
I wear the black in mournin' for the lives that could have been,
Each week we lose a hundred fine young men.

And, I wear it for the thousands who have died,
Believen' that the Lord was on their side,
I wear it for another hundred thousand who have died,
Believen' that we all were on their side.

Well, there's things that never will be right I know,
And things need changin' everywhere you go,
But 'til we start to make a move to make a few things right,
You'll never see me wear a suit of white.

Ah, I'd love to wear a rainbow every day,
And tell the world that everything's OK,
But I'll try to carry off a little darkness on my back,
'Till things are brighter, I'm the Man In Black.


February 5, 2010

Friday Random Top 10

I saw MacBeth last night at the Guthrie Theater. Fourth row, dead center. I will have a review next week but I can say the performance was awesome and highly recommended. Here's a top 10:

1. Jagged - Old 97's
2. Send For Me - Nat King Cole
3. Stay Away - Nirvana
4. Evidence - Thelonious Monk
5. Daughter - Pearl Jam
6. Gone - The Wedding Present
7. O, Dana - Big Star
8. The Comedians - Roy Orbison
9. Song For Patty - Sammy Walker
10. It's Never That Easy Though, Is It - Los Campesinos!

Bonus: Country Boy - Johnny Cash

Not a bad list, some new, some old, some obscure, none too popular. What's your top 10?

February 2, 2010

Dylan Meets Donovan

In the movie Dont Look Back, the singer Donovan practically deserves second billing. He is everywhere in the movie as it was during the time that Dylan was being filmed in England coincided with the height of Donovan being hyped as "The New Dylan." Donovan posters were all over London and Bob Dylan was asked repeatedly about his reaction to Donovan.

One of my favorite parts of the movie is when Donovan and Dylan finally meet in a London hotel room. It's a little awkward at first but then Donovan offers to play a song that he just wrote. The crowd agrees to hear it and Donovan sings a vaguely Dylanesque song (including a tune he stole from Dylan) Its positively dreadful but Bob is right there listening intently.

Dylan then takes the guitar and says he has a new song too and commences to play It's All Over Now Baby Blue (which had only been recently released). Of course he blows Donovan away. There's a shot late in the clip where the camera is focused on Donovan and you can tell he just wants to get out of there, thinking to himself why did I ever try to compare my song to Dylan's? It's a classic scene and a rare look into the two musicians facing off. Enjoy!

January 29, 2010

Friday Random Top 10

I've still been listening to the two Neil Young discs I picked up last week. Sugar Mountain: Live at Canterbury House is just amazing. I can't get them off my playlist. Here's my random 10:

1. Clementine -- The Decemberists
2. Lust for Life -- Iggy Pop
3. Sometimes I Do -- Social Distortion
4. Unleashed! The Large Hearted Boy -- Guided By Voices
5. Turtledove -- Trip Shakespeare
6. I Like Trains -- Fred Eaglesmith
7. #1 Hit Song -- Minutemen
8. I'm Sticking With You -- Velvet Underground
9. Love's Gonna Live Here -- Buck Owens
10. Rendzvous -- The dBs

Bonus: Falling For You -- Weezer

Did anyone watch the Wild last night and see the guy with the Social Distortion T-shirt right behind the Wild bench? Nice list, good variety. Not too mainstream but very accessible. What's your top 10?

January 22, 2010

Friday Random Top 10

It's New Orleans week for Minnesota Sports Teams! Tonight is the big T-wolves-Hornets tilt at the Target Center. I don't know if the Vikings-Saints will even get noticed after that basketball game is in the books. Let's start off the weekend right with a Random Top 10...

1. Will I See You in Heaven -- They Jayhawks
2. The Drinking Jim Crow -- Guided By Voices
3. Dixie -- Bob Dylan
4. All The Same to Me -- Golden Smog
5. Misterioso -- Thelonious Monk
6. Fuck Everything -- Jack Logan
7. Dancin' On the Bar -- Fred Eaglesmith
8. Good Night -- The Beatles
9. Big Day -- XTC
10. Ghost Town Blues -- Social Distortion

Bonus: Drinker's Peace -- Guided By Voices

Nice list, good representation of what I listen to. Dancin' on the Bar is a great country song (So If you're dancin' on the bar, try not to tip over my bottle). What's on your Top 10?

January 20, 2010

Jay Farrar/Benjamin Gibbard - One Fast Move or I'm Gone: Music from Kerouac's Big Sur

jayfarrar.jpg

Big Sur was Jack Kerouac's anti-fame book. After years of carefree youth and unwanted fame, Kerouac spent some time alone in Lawrence Ferlinghetti's Big Sur Cabin and used the down time to confront some of his most troubling emotional issues: a burgeoning problem with alcoholism, addiction, fear, and insecurity. He "dutifully records his ever-changing states of consciousness, which culminate in a powerful religious experience." Written after the fame of On The Road had worn off, Big Sur chronicles Kerouac's travels to San Francisco and his isolation at Big Sur.

Jay Farrar and Benjamin Gibbard's new album, One Fast Move Or I'm Gone: Music From Kerouac's Big Sur, takes the ideas and text from Big Sur (Kerouac is listed as a co-writer on every song) and puts them to music "Mermaid Avenue" style. The result is a haunting mix of alt-country tunes that takes the manic energy out of Kerouac's prose and presents them as a road weary ode to life on the road and the lost promise of California.

Gibbard and Farrar switch off singing each of 12 songs on the album and the Gibbard songs are the much stronger of the bunch, at least the most catchy. Jay Farrar approaches the songs in the low-energy style of some of his lesser Son Volt recordings (Wide Swing Tremelo) while Gibbard, while also low-key, brings an emotional resonance not found on the Farrar songs.

The album opens with probably my favorite, California Zephyr, and if you've ever traveled cross country by bus or train (or the back seat of a car), this song will resonate:

Now I'm transcontinental

3000 miles from my home
I'm on the California Zephyr
Watching America roll by

As mentioned above, Kerouac confronted his raging alcoholism at Big Sur and this comes through in the song Final Horrors (sung by Farrar):

Frisco Skid Row - Hotel Room

I feel I've been betrayed my very birth
My guilt so deep I must be with the devil
Breathing without believing
My helpless hands are on fire
I look at the world with dead eyes
I'm like a city street drunk
In the Boweries of the world
I want to bury my face in my hands and moan for mercy
The world is looking at me
With hollow big red eyes
I'm at the point of disaster of the soul
Even worse than dawn is morning
The bright sun glaring in on my pain
You feel death for a good reason
I took the deep iodine death breath
I'm afraid to close my eyes
I throw a cancerous look on the world

I know the album sounds like a big bummer, but it's not. It's a solid, if slow, country album sung by two great singers and many of the songs sound like they could be outtakes from a Son Volt or Death Cab For Cutie recording session. If you're into alt-country and slow, lugubrious songs with a Jack Kerouac pedigree, then I would hardily encourage you to check out One Fast Move Or I'm Gone.

January 15, 2010

Friday Random Top 10

I've really been grooving on the Jay Farrar-Ben Gibbard release all this week. I intended to have a review up, hopefully next week. Let's do a Friday Random Top 10 instead.

1. Weedking - Guided By Voices
2. Think That it Might - Wedding Present
3. To Hell with Poverty - Gang of Four
4. Trap Soul Door - Guided By Voices
5. Curtain Calls - Old 97's
6. So Fine - The Chancellors
7. Love Itself - Leonard Cohen
8. The Card Cheat - The Clash
9. Sunday Morning - Velvet Underground
10. Lewis - Yo La Tengo

Bonus: The Tooth Fairy and the Princess - Husker Du

One of my better lists in a long, long, time. Thought I might get a triple shot of GBV there. What's your top 10?

January 8, 2010

Friday Random Top 10

For the first time ever I dabbled into fantasy sports and started a fantasy basketball team (Cassell's Big Balls). I was bad at first but figured out how to set my line-ups and was steadily moving up in the standings. Then KG hurts his knee and is out for at least two weeks. Then Gilbert Arenas gets suspended for bringing a gun into the locker room. All of a sudden I'm reeling. What next? Steve Nash gets deported back to Canada? We need a Random Top Ten:

1. Today You Move - Trip Shakespeare
2. Away With Murder - Camera Obscura
3. You Can't Do That - The Beatles
4. Broadway - Foxboro Hottubs
5. Hey Jude - The Beatles
6. It Could Happen To You - Bud Powell
7. Michelle - The Beatles
8. Chimes of Freedom - Bob Dylan
9. Move - Miles Davis
10. Evidence - Thelonious Monk

Bonus: Trying to Get to You - Elvis Presley

Wow the rare triple play with The Beatles, plus some jazz legends and a shout out to Elvis. What's your top 10?

January 4, 2010

Elvis Performs Hound Dog on National T.V.

Given that it's Elvis Presley's 75th Birthday on Friday, I thought I would celebrate by sharing this video of Elvis performing Hound Dog on the Milton Berle show in 1956.

In early June 1956 Elvis hadn't recorded Hound Dog yet but had been performing it live in concert after seeing a similar version played at a Vegas show. The Milton Berle performance is notable for the fact that Elvis isn't playing guitar and gets pretty suggestive with his hip shakes and leg movements. If anyone didn't know that Rock and Roll was a euphemism for sex, they did after seeing this on their 12" B&W TVs. It's pretty safe to say that the 40 million Americans who tuned in had never seen anything this suggestive on their sets. This performance was also the genesis of the nickname "Elvis the Pelvis."

The outrage was immediate and intense, with NBC receiving literally tens of thousands of letters protesting Elvis' "vile" gyrations. Three weeks later, Elvis was scheduled to perform on the Steve Allen show and Allen, a known hater of Rock and Roll, made Elvis dress up in a tux and tails and sing Hound Dog to an actual Basset Hound. Elvis, although cheeky on stage, was reportedly furious and embarrassed. Elvis got the last laugh however, as he funneled that anger into the studio, where the next day he recorded the rip-roaring version of Hound Dog we all love today.

January 1, 2010

Friday Random Top 10

Happy New Year!! I listened to everyone of the 7641 songs on my I-pod in 2009. I wasn't planning on doing that but I was listening to songs I hadn't for a while and noticed I was close to listening to them all in 2009, so the last day or so was to get every song with a 2009 listening date. Let's ring in 2010 with a brand new list:

1. Driveby -- Neil Young
2. Underture -- The Who
3. Sally MacLennane -- The Pogues
4. Who Knows -- Thelonious Monk
5. Original Love -- The Feelies
6. My Uptight Life -- Teenage Fanclub
7. The Gloaming -- Radiohead
8. A Knife and a Fork -- Rockpile
9. News of the World -- The Jam
10. Ed is Dead (live) -- Pixies

Bonus -- About A Girl -- Nirvana

Hey not a bad list to kick off the year. What's your top 10?

December 22, 2009

Year in Music 2009

It's time for my annual round up of music I liked in the past year. Previous years can be found here: 2006, 2007, 2008.

I actually didn't listen to a lot of new music this year so my list is short. But there definitely were some winners with at least two I think I will be listening for a long time.

Camera Obscura - My Maudlin Career

A great band straight from the Belle & Sebastian branch of the music tree, My Maudlin Career is a great pop album full of catchy lyrics and sweet songs. Singer Tracyanne Campbell has a wonderful voice that will bring a smile to your face. Great album from top to bottom.

Dinosaur Jr. - Farm
With the original Djr line-up of J Mascus, Lou Barlow, and Murph, Djr proved with Farm that they can still bring the fuzzy guitars. In fact I would put Farm up there with some of their great releases of the 1980s. Thankfully not over-produced like so many other comeback bands (I'm looking at you My Bloody Valentine) the songs are given room to breathe and sprawl around in your brain. Long intros, guitar solos, and repeated chorus are the rule on Farm resulting in 60 plus minutes of fuzzed out bliss.

Wilco - Wilco (The Album)
Probably a lesser effort than Sky Blue Sky or A Ghost is Born, Wilco (the Album) still got lots of listens this past summer and fall. With the infectious Wilco (the Song) and You Never Know, Jeff Tweedy and friends wrote an album for the Great Recession and for those with fears of a black President. Basically telling us to settle down, everything is going to be ok. While lacking some of the experimental guitar chops of previous efforts, Wilco (the Album) is still a solid effort from a band that is producing music at a higher level than almost every other band out there.

The Decemberists - Harzards of Love

The Decemberists followed their dabbling into prog rock with a full on rock opera about wood nymphs, killing babies, a shape-shifting boreal forest dweller named William and a jealous forest queen. Sounds goofy I know and the story is hard to follow but the album rocks. Plus the album includes what I think is the song of the year: The Rake, which even though is about a guy killing his children after their mother dies, is a great song (see video above).

And that's it. Like I said, not a lot new stuff this year. And U2? You should be ashamed for that piece of garbage you released this year. It's one of those rare albums that gets worse upon every listen.

Also I didn't go to a lot of shows this year either. Below are some write-ups of shows I went to. Also a shout out to the apparently no more 757s. I saw them at the Uptown Bar in May (or was it April) and it was a blast. Probably the most fun I had at a bar show in a long time.

Noah and the Whale
Wilco

And finally I can't let the year go by without a shoutout to The Charlie Pickett and the Eggs re-issue/greatest hits album that I picked up this year, what a great album and songs that were sadly missed over these past 20 years.

What music did you like in 2009?


December 18, 2009

Friday Random Top 10

On Wednesdays the Current has a program called "Theft of the Dial" where a celebrity gets to spin records and talk with Mark Wheat. This past Wednesday was play-write Kevin Kling and it was an amazing 50 minutes of radio. Click here to give a listen, it's well worth it. Here's your Friday top 10:

1. Wanted Man -- Johnny Cash
2. Not Cool -- The dB's
3. They'll Never Take Your Love From Me -- Hank Williams
4. In the Flesh? -- Luther Wright and the Wrongs
5. Liar's Tale -- Guided By Voices
6. This is the One -- Stone Roses
7. Billy Bug -- U-Joint
8. Good Sculpture -- The Rezillos
9. The Big Foist -- Minutement
10. Possession -- Elvis Costello

Bonus: Ordinary People -- Neil Young

Some obscurities from well known artists. Can we consider the Stone Roses a "one album wonder?" What's your top 10?

December 11, 2009

Friday Random Top 10

Yikes, my daughter takes her driving test today. Pray for me. Maybe a random top 10 will soothe my jangled nerves:

1. Johnny Ryall -- Beastie Boys
2. Elevator Music -- Beck
3. Universal Corner (live) -- X
4. Engine 143 -- The Carter Family
5. Darkness on the Edge of Town (live) -- Bruce Springsteen
6. Full Moon Empty Heart -- Belly
7. Oh, My Pregnant Head -- The Flaming Lips
8. Fountain of Youth -- Guided By Voices
9. There's No There -- Dinosaur Jr.
10. Oceans -- Pearl Jam

Bonus: Thing Called Love -- Johnny Cash

That was a little different. Don't see The Carter Family nestled in with The Flaming Lips and X much do you? What's your top 10?

December 4, 2009

Friday Random Top 10

It's finally getting cold enough to get some ice down for the rinks. Broomball/skating season will soon be upon us!

1. Conversation -- Gary Numan
2. The Murder Mystery -- Velvet Underground
3. Fame Throwa -- Pavement
4. And I Love Her -- The Beatles
5. Mexico City Blues 104 -- Jack Kerouac
6. Dig For Fire -- Pixies
7. Approaching Pavonis Mons by Balloon -- The Flaming Lips
8. Help -- Howie Day
9. This Is Not a Photograph -- Mission of Burma
10. Blackbird -- Sarah McLaclan

Bonus: One Way Street -- Bevery Williams

Not the greatest list. Three Beatles tunes, only one original version.

December 3, 2009

Best Albums of the Decade

ike reilly.jpg

O.k. I broke down. I'm going to list my favorite albums of the 2000's. But I'm going to cheat. Instead of ranking them, I just going to list them by year. The thing is I move back and forth on albums all the time. Talk to me next week and this list will change, next year it may be radically different. A good example is The Crane Wife by the Decemberists. Six months ago it probably would not have made this list, now I think it's in the top 5. By the way, I have indicated my top 5 in bold and have linked to albums I have discussed in the past. So with that, here are the best albums of 2000-2009:

2009
Farm - Dinosaur Jr.
My Maudlin Career - Camera Obscura

2008
El Rey - The Wedding Present
Glasvegas - Glasvegas

2007
Sky Blue Sky - Wilco

Raising Sand - Robert Plant and Allison Kraus
Neon Bible - Arcade Fire

2006

Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers, and Bastards - Tom Waits
Living With War - Neil Young
Another Fine Day - Golden Smog
Normal Happiness - Robert Pollard
The Crane Wife - The Decemberists
Life's Pursuit - Belle & Sebastian

2005
Freedom and Weep - The Waco Brothers
Junky Faithful - Ike Reilly Assassination
Howl - Black Rebel Motorcycle Club

2004
A Ghost is Born - Wilco
Folker - Paul Westerberg
Van Lear Rose - Loretta Lynn
Funeral - Arcade Fire

2003
Fever to Tell - Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Elephant - The White Stripes
Rainy Day Music - The Jayhawks

2002
Yankee Foxtrot Hotel - Wilco
Rebuild the Wall - Luther Wright and the Wrongs
Sea Change - Beck

2001
Amnesiac - Radiohead
Isolation Drills - Guided By Voices
Ralph's Last Show - Fred Eaglesmith

2000
All That You Can't Leave Behind - U2
Strokes - Is This It
O Brother Where Art Thou Soundtrack
Solitary Man - Johnny Cash
Smile - The Jayhawks

November 24, 2009

Funeral v. Neon Bible


Wake Up from Funeral

With the end of 2009 only five weeks away, we are starting to see some "Best of Decade" lists popping up all over the interwebs. Here and Here are two good examples. Music lists probably get the most debate because there is so much music released and opinions can be quite vast regarding what is good or best, especially over a decade. Also over a 10 year span, popular musical tastes can change greatly and it is interesting to look back at what was considered great nine or ten years ago compared to current tastes (a great example of this is to compare music in 1960 to music in 1970; or 1985 to 1995).

Also it is inevitable when these lists are put together that an artist will only get one entry. This is usually done because there is limited space (top 20 or 50 albums, for example) and unless a band releases two incredible albums, one will usually get left off. Who can really blame the reviewer(s)? They don't want to be seen as a geek for one band, and a lot of time these lists are also used to show how broad one's tastes are. Doesn't mean we can debate the decisions. I might take on these debates over the next few weeks.

One thread I have seen in these lists is that Arcade Fire's 2004 album Funeral is getting listed (usually quite highly) instead of 2007's Neon Bible. Frankly I think both should be listed, but if you only had one to pick, which one would you pick?

Funeral is an obvious choice for best of decade considerations as it was highly received and universally loved when it was released. For Arcade Fire band members, the years leading up to the recording of Funeral were marked with death and many of the songs address the pain that follows the death of an aging loved one. As Pitchfork Media stated so well in it's review: "Funeral evokes sickness and death, but also understanding and renewal; childlike mystification, but also the impending coldness of maturity. The recurring motif of a non-specific "neighborhood" suggests the supportive bonds of family and community, but most of its lyrical imagery is overpoweringly desolate." Pretty deep stuff. The album is moody, it sweeps you up. It's great as background music but it is fantastic to listen to by yourself, getting overwhelmed by the music and evocative lyrics.

In 2007, Arcade Fire released Neon Bible and the pre-hype was over the top. Based on Funeral, expectations for Neon Bible was sky high and for the most part the reviews were glowing. Also much was made out of the band's purchasing of an old church near Montreal that was then converted into a recording studio. Neon Bible, although moody and atmospheric, is a different album than Funeral. Instead of looking inward and reflecting on death and "deep thoughts" Neon Bible is outward looking, focusing on worldly issues such as government, religion, the military, and even the entertainment industry. The music is propulsive, however, it doesn't erupt. Instead it gradually intensifies, coming to a satisfying crescendo by songs end.

So which is better? Both are great and it could be akin to asking a parent which child they love best. However, for me, Neon Bible is better. It basically comes down to the songs. Song for song, I think Neon Bible is best overall album. Whereas Funeral ends stronger, Neon Bible is good throughout. Both deserve consideration as among the decade's best, but Neon Bible should be rated higher.

What do you think?

November 20, 2009

Friday Random Top 10

I've given up sugar and sweets cold turkey until Thanksgiving. It's been surprisingly easy to do. I think after a couple of pieces of pumpkin pie, I will continue with my "sugar fast." Let's celebrate with a random top 10:

1. Loveless Love -- The Feelies
2. Black Hole -- She & Him
3. The Prisoner -- The Clash
4. Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band -- The Beatles
5. The Cities Are Burning -- Rev. F.D. Fitzpatrick
6. Like A Soldier -- Johnny Cash
7. Clementine -- Decemberists
8. Bossa Nova Baby -- Elvis Presley
9. Celebrated Summer -- Husker Du
10. Smash the Mirror (live) -- The Who

Bonus: Can't Hold On -- Cheap Trick

That was a little different. Hey Big Mak, I think I might do a story out of this one. Only wrinkle will be to incorporate SPLHCB into the mix.

What's your top 10?

November 13, 2009

Random Top 10

The family is suddenly become hooked on Glee. Witty writing, goofy characters, song and dance numbers. Sounds like a winning formula. Here's your random top 10:

1. Canary - Liz Phair
2. A Song for You - Gram Parsons
3. You Make It Easy - Golden Smog
4. Champaign Supernova - Oasis
5. Cool Blues - Charlie Parker
6. The Neighbors - Jonathan Richman
7. Tired of being Alone - Al Green
8. Who By Fire - Leonard Cohen
9. War on War - Wilco
10. Hound Dog - Elvis Presley

Bonus: Dog for Fire - Pixies

Seven solo artists and a wide range of styles. Also at least one song from every decade since the 1940s! Beat that! What's your top 10?

November 6, 2009

Friday Random Top 10

Last week I was at the hospital waiting for the elevator. The door opened and there was this Priest all dressed in black except for his white collar and huge silver crucifix. When the door opened he looked at me and said in a very low voice "going down?" Even though I was, I said no and waited for the next elevator. Here's your Random Top 10:

1. Pale Blue Eyes -- R.E.M.
2. Bob Dylan Wrote Propaganda Songs -- Minutemen
3. Troublemaker -- Weezer
4. Mesmerizing -- Liz Phair
5. I'm Sorry For You My Friend -- Hank Willams
6. One - Aimee Mann
7. Bad Luck -- Social Distortion
8. Kid About It -- Elvis Costello
9. Joke About Jamaica -- The Hold Steady
10. What Led Me to This Town -- The Jayhawks

Bonus: Alone + Easy Target -- Foo Fighters

Hey, that's not a bad list, good variety, nothing embarrassing. What's your top 10?

October 30, 2009

Friday Random Top 10

Sorry about light blogging lately, I've been dealing with family illness issues. Hopefully things are getting better and next week I can expound on H1N1 vaccine deniers, the Mpls Mayoral race, and crappy gophers football and hockey teams! Don't worry I wouldn't miss a Friday random top 10:

1. Don't Be Cruel - Jerry Lee Lewis
2. Chinese Lorraine - Jack Logan
3. To Sir With Love - Lulu
4. Wear My Ring Around Your Finger - Elvis Presley
5. Baby I Love You - Aretha Franklin
6. I Ain't Ever Giving In - Fred Eaglesmith
7. He's A Good Dog - Fred Eaglesmith
8. Blue Sky Mining - Midnight Oil
9. Floaty - Foo Fighters
10. Jesus Built My Hotrod - Ministry

Bonus - Too Much Sex (Too Little Jesus) - Drive By Truckers

A little different list today. Double shot of Fred Eaglesmith and a double shot of Jesus! Big Mak, how many Jesus songs do you have?

October 23, 2009

Friday Random Top 10

Another gloomy, rainy, wet and cold October. Maybe a Random Top 10 will brighten things up.

1. The Rest of the World -- The Waco Brothers
2. Mayfly -- Belle & Sebastian
3. When the Whip Comes Down -- The Rolling Stones
4. Darby Hall -- The dB's
5. Stacy's Mom -- Fountains of Wayne
6. Black -- Pearl Jam
7. Window of My World -- Guided By Voices
8. New Amsterdam -- Elvis Costello
9. Son of a Gun -- Nirvana
10. Nightshift -- The Names

Bonus: 3-Legged Dog -- The Handsome Family

How did Stacy's Mom get in there? What's your top 10?

October 16, 2009

Friday Random Top 10

As you are reading this I should be hiking in the cold and rain through Jay Cooke State Park. Hopefully pictures next week. Don't worry still have a random top 10, although cross posting will come later in day.

1. Dying -- XTC
2. M.O.R. -- Blur
3. Wake Me Up When September Ends -- Green Day
4. Dr. Wu -- The Minutemen
5. The Infanta -- The Decemberists
6. (I Don't Want to Go to) Chelsea -- Elvis Costello
7. Red Light Indicates Doors are Secured -- Arctic Monkeys
8. See No Evil -- Television
9. Vicar in a Tutu -- The Smiths
10. Shake -- Hypstrz

Bonus: Pink Triangle -- Weezer

Must be punk and alternative music day today at LFAD. The Minutemen's version of Dr. Wu has to be one of the greatest covers of all time. What's your top 10?

October 12, 2009

Replacements Let It Be -- 25 Years Old

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October 2nd passed with hardly an acknowledgment of the 25 year anniversary of the Replacements ground breaking album Let It Be. About 2-1/2 years ago I reviewed Let It Be as part of my 30 Favorite Albums feature. Since I don't have a whole lot to add to that review below is what I wrote:


Going to the University of Minnesota in the early- to mid-1980's meant that I had a front row seat to the "Golden Age" of the local music scene. Any day of the week you could easily see the Suburbs, Soul Asylum, Husker Du, The Phones, Prince, The Wallets, and a host of other great bands that have slipped into the mists of time. However my personal favorite was by far The Replacements, a band that I easily saw more than 50 times. And so it goes without saying that Let It Be would be on my list of 30 best loved albums.


From the iconoclastic Beatles-esque title, to the cover of Paul, Bob, Tommy, and Chris sitting on the roof of a porch of a typical SW Minneapolis home, to the snarky song about MTV, the album perfectly captures the feel and sense of 1984. What is great about this album, however, is its timelessness. Even though I couldn't imagine this album being recorded at any time other than 1984, the album doesn't feel dated some 20 5 years later.

The album kicks off with I Will Dare which was easily the Replacements biggest hit and most accessible song. Through this song, a lot more people were brought into the Replacement's fold and, like the Pretenders Stop Your Sobbing, helped with the ladies as you could play this Replacements song and not clear the dance floor (important when you are in college!).

The following three songs, Favorite Thing, We're Coming Out, and Tommy Got His Tonsils Out were classic Replacements rockers full of Bob's furious guitar work and Paul's smart assy lyrics. Androgynous is a switch as a piano-led, slower tempo song. It was right before Let It Be came out that Paul was hanging out with Peter Buck of REM (That's Buck's mandolin (but not his playing) on I Will Dare) and we saw them once hanging out at First Avenue with eye liner. Needless to say that my friend Pete and I used eyeliner a lot that summer when we went out.

Black Diamond was the first cover recorded by the Replacements and it was perfect as they played the song straight but in an "ironic" way so that anyone in the know would get the joke. Seen Your Video, with it's three lines (Seen your video/it's only rock and roll/we don't want to know) also was spot-on as by this time MTV had been taken over by slick, expensively-produced videos usually from fey English bands that didn't have room for guitars. Finally I think Gary's Got a Boner would be considered a classic rock and roll song if it wasn't for it's goofy subject matter.

The songs Unsatisfied and 16 Blue were probably the most lauded songs and really shone a spotlight on Paul's song writing skills. Even though I was 21 at the time, I wasn't that too far removed from 16 and understood 16 Blue's significance completely. The Replacements were playing these songs live for a few months prior to the release of the album and at that time we knew that their next album was going to be something special.

Let It Be really demonstrated what the Replacements were and could be. It was an exciting time as it appeared that they were on their way to superstardom. Unfortunately they were about 10 years too early. If this album had been released in 1994, they would have been bigger than Nirvana. This album some kicked off what some consider the Holy Trinity of Replacements' albums: Let It Be, Tim, and Pleased to Meet Me. Many consider Tim the definitive album, and I respect that opinion but for meaning and musical enjoyment, Let It Be will always be one of my fave' things.

After 25 years I think Let It Be still stands tall among rock albums. It really broke the door wide open between "indy music" and "mainstream music" paving the way for the Nirvana's, Pearl Jams, and all that came after. It was fun to be there when it first hit and it's fun to go back and listen to it some 25 years later. I have a feeling I will still be listening to in 25 years from now.

October 9, 2009

Friday Random Top 10

I was very close to riding my bike to work this morning but 34 degrees was telling me that was not a good idea. I would like to get a least a couple more rides in but I don't think it's going to happen this weekend. How about a Random Top 10 instead:

1. Pleasant Valley Sunday - The Wedding Present
2. Sentimental Heart - She & Him
3. 14 Cheerleader Coldfront (live) - Guided By Voices
4. Freak Scene - Dinosaur Jr.
5. Silver Naked Ladies - Paul Westerberg
6. Southern Girls (live) - Cheap Trick
7. Diamonds and Rust - Joan Baez
8. Spirit Road - Neil Young
9. 1,000,000 - R.E.M.
10. Cold Gin (live) - KISS

Bonus: The Tourist - Radiohead


Nice little mix of live tracks, lo-fi, metal, and rock. What's on your list?

October 5, 2009

Wilco -- October 2 Roy Wilkins Auditorium

Are times getting tough, Are the roads you travel rough, Have you had enough of the old, Tired of being exposed to the cold, The stare of your stereo, Put on your headphones, Before you're exposed, Oh, oh, oh oh, Wilco, Wilco, Wilco will love you baby


Wilco brought their traveling fun show to the Roy Wilkins Auditorium on Friday with the expressed intent of letting the 4,500 people in attendance know that although times are tough, winter's coming to the northland, politicians/parents/spouses/bosses don't listen to you - or whatever your beef -- it doesn't matter because Wilco loves you and for 2-1/2 hours what else do you need?

I saw Wilco a couple of years ago and described it is almost a perfect concert, transcendent even. While the Friday show didn't reach those emotional heights, as a pure fun rock and roll, it would be hard to top Friday's show. The show started a little slow, even with the obvious opening of Wilco (the song). Bull Black Nova was great and a nice showcase for Nels Cline's jazzy fret work. However it wasn't until about the eighth song, Handshake Drugs, where Wilco really hit its stride and then really never let go.

The band was extremely loose and Jeff Tweedy was in fine form, they were definitely having a blast onstage and Wilco's enthusiasm for the songs soon washed over the audience. By the end the crowd was swept up into the moment, not wanting to let go. Nels Cline was amazing once again (see video above) and I think his guitar playing is starting to rub off on Jeff Tweedy who showed some serious licks himself. Spiders (Kidsmoke) was particularly intense and made me think that for a song that is pretty avant-garde, it is highly accessible and a blast in concert.

Wilco went through their entire catalog with most of the songs from Wilco (the Album), Sky Blue Sky, and A Ghost is Born. However they ended their 2nd encore and the show with Woody Guthrie penned Hoody Voodoo off of Mermaid Avenue II. There was an extended guitar-off between Nels Cline and Pat Sansone that was quite muscular, with each trying to top the other. With that the show ended and Wilco had shown us they indeed did love us. In fact the crowd was so spent, they hardly put up a fuss when the lights came on. A satisfying night of rock and roll that thrilled young and old alike.

One negative note on Roy Wilkins. While a decent place to see a show, it is a lousy place to hear a show. The acoustics are lousy and depending where you sit, you literally can't hear some of what is being played on stage. Also for a song like California Stars, where the vocals are 90 percent of the song, it would be nice to have a mix where the vocals are crystal clear. But hey no worries, Wilco loves you (baby).

Did you see the show, what did you think?

Here's a cool slide show from City Pages

Set List
1. Wilco (The Song)
2. A Shot In The Arm
3. Bull Black Nova
4. You Are My Face
5. I Am Trying To Break Your Heart
6. One Wing
7. At Least That's What You Said
8. Handshake Drugs
9. Deeper Down
10. Impossible Germany
11. It's Just That Simple
12. Sonny Feeling
13. Can't Stand It
14. Jesus, Etc.
15. Via Chicago
16. Spiders (Kidsmoke)
17. Hummingbird

Encore 1:
18. The Late Greats
19. You Never Know (w/ Liam Finn)
20. California Stars (w/ with Liam Finn and Gary Louris)
21. Heavy Metal Drummer

Encore 2:
22. Theologians
23. Hate It Here
24. Walken
25. I'm The Man Who Loves You
26. Monday
27. Hoodoo Voodoo

October 2, 2009

Friday Random Top 10

There will be eight 16 and 17 year old girls in my house tonight. I think Charlie and I will try to go the Wilco concert (even though we don't have tix) to get away. How about a Random Top Ten:

1. Life From a Window -- The Jam
2. Cry, Cry, Cry -- Johnny Cash
3. Minneapolis -- Lucinda Williams
4. All You Fascists -- Billy Bragg and Wilco
5. Pieces of Truth -- Foxboro Hot Tubs
6. Away with Murder -- Camera Obscura
7. Friday I'm in Love -- The Cure
8. The Static Age -- Green Day
9. Another Life -- Jack Logan
10. Copperhead Road -- Steve Earle

Bonus: Ruby Tuesday -- The Rolling Stones

A little variety there. That Camera Obscura album is awesome. What's your top 10?

September 25, 2009

Friday Random Top 10

This past Wednesday I crossed over the 1000 mile mark on my bike for the year. I think my first ride was in mid-April so that is about 200 miles a month. Definitely room for improvement next year. On Sunday I am doing the Urban Assault Ride which looks like a blast. Let's celebrate with a random top 10:

1. The Good Life - Weezer
2. Van Lear Rose - Loretta Lynn
3. Up the Junction - Squeeze
4. Punk and the Grandfather - The Who
5. Before I Break - Uncle Tupelo
6. Joke about Jamaica - The Hold Steady
7. Hey You - Luther Wright and the Wrongs
8. My Impression Now - Guided By Voices
9. Papa was a Rodeo - Kelly Hogan and the Pine Valley Cosmonauts
10. Come una Peitra Scalciatal (Like a Rolling Stone) - Articolo 31

Bonus - Trial of Mary Maguire - Bobby Patterson

If you haven't heard it, you must seek out Luther Wright and the Wrongs countrified version of The Wall called Rebuild the Wall. It is a hoot! What's your top 10?

September 21, 2009

Favorite Things -- Loretta Lynn's Women's Prison

Death has long been a topic of Country Music. Death predominates Country music so much (or at least it did before Country started marketing itself to teenage girls) that a sub-genre known as the Country Death Song has established itself as an anchor of Country Music history. Although most death songs deal with murdering a cheating lover and/or his/her cheater, other Country Death Songs have dealt with suicide, executions, and even sickness -- especially dying of a broken heart. Heck Columbia Records released a whole album of Johnny Cash death songs called Murder.

One of the greatest Country Death Songs is Women's Prison by Loretta Lynn with Jack White from the 2004 album Van Lear Rose. It's got it all: a woman/narrator finding her lover with a former friend and killing him, the execution of the woman/narrator, an angry prison mob, a crying mother. The opening lines really tell the story and bring you right to the present:


I'm in a women's prison with bars all around
I caught my darlin cheatin thats when I shot him down
I caught him in a honky-tonk with a girl I used to know
The door to my cell is open wide and a voice cries out oh no

On the album what really sucks you into this song is right before it is the treacly God Makes No Mistakes, which tells us that Gods ways are mysterious and we shouldn't question them. The end of that song moves right into Women's Prison and its quite difficult to tell where one song ends the other begins. But the themes are jarring: From accepting God's lot to sitting on Death Row within a few notes.

Obviously killing someone in a Honky-Tonk is quite public and the murder and her execution have obviously stirred public passions as we learn in the chorus:

The crowd outside is screamin' let the murderer die! But above all their voices I can hear my mama cry.

The music is quite jarring too. During the verses, Loretta Lynn is accompanied by some basic country guitar licks -- slow and somber. However during the chorus, Jack White really revs up the guitars to a fever pitch, matching the emotion of the crowd.

Finally after dragged from her knees from death row by an unsympathetic warden and a cold priest, the Woman is strapped into the electric chair and is electrocuted:

Now they've strapped me in the chair And covered up my eyes And the last voice I hear on Earth Is my mama's cry

What's really amazing is that an organ starts playing in the background as Lynn sings these last words and is it grows louder, Jack White mumbles Amazing Grace How Sweet the Sound.... Then the guitars rev up again to their fever pitch and brings the song to an end after about a minute of some pretty frenzied guitar work.

An amazing song and amazing performance and one of the greatest examples of a Country Death Song out there. Below is a video someone, not associated with Loretta Lynn, did of the song.


September 18, 2009

Friday Random Top 10

Sorry not much blog activity this week. Guess I wasn't too inspired. Maybe a Random Top 10 will get me out my funk

1. How Are You - Cheap Trick
2. Sugarlight - X
3. Oh Lucinda - The Only Ones
4. This Has Gotta Be a Joke - Hypstrz
5. Said the People - Dinosaur Jr.
6. ELT - Wilco
7. Bright Lights, Big City - High Spirits
8. Man of the World - Fleetwood Mac
9. Brothers on a Hotel Bed - Death Cab for Cutie
10. Stop Your Sobbing - The Pretenders

Bonus -- Lead Me, Guide Me - Elvis Presley

Stop your Sobbing still gets me 30 years after its release. All in all an o.k. list. What's your Top 10?

September 11, 2009

Friday Random Top 10

There are few greater ways to begin your day than riding a bike over the Mississippi River on a glorious September morning with the Ramones blaring in your ears. Let's have a Random top 10 to celebrate:

1. Look What You've Done for Me - Al Green
2. The Passion - Billy Bragg
3. I'm Bound for the Promised Land - Johnny Cash
4. Standing in the Doorway - Bob Dylan
5. Dog Treat - Tom Waits
6. Good Night - The Beatles
7. Ever Fallen in Love? - The Buzzcocks
8. Dog Door - Tom Waits
9. Sunday Sun - Beck
10. Sleep! - Big Black

Bonus: Hell is Chrome - Wilco

Wow, seven solo artists and a Tom Waits double dog shot. You just knew a Beatles tune would be in there didn't you? What's your top 10?

September 9, 2009

Fleece(d by) the Beatles

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ZOMG! It's 09-09-09, Beatles Day. Forty years after they recorded their last album, baby boomers are still trying to wrest control of popular culture by reminding us yet again that the Beatles were the. Greatest. Band. Ever! The Beatles were so great in fact they are giving us the opportunity to buy their albums yet again for only $200 (in stereo or mono). Oh and you younger kids who like to play video games instead of sitting on a bean bag chair, headphones on, listening to Abbey Road, here's a $249.00 video game where you can play Beatles songs too!!!! I'm surprised all the Beatles songs weren't released in Muzak form for Grandma, A Kidz Bop set for those too small for video games, and their catalog re-interpreted by Garth Brooks and Carrie Underwood for Country Music fans. Come on, where's the cross marketing people!

Now don't get me wrong, I like the Beatles just as much as the next guy. I've got most of their songs on the I-pod, I watched a bunch of stuff on VH-1 this past week, heck I even like that movie Across the Universe. They were a great band that basically created youth culture and the standard 2 guitars, bass, and drum set-up that most band still adhere too. Yes, they were great, baby boomers are Gods because they existed while they were growing up, and everyone else will never be as cool because they weren't there.

I guess for me, 40 years later, I'm done with it all. I don't need to buy their albums yet again. I don't need to read yet again, why the Beatles broke up in the pages of Rolling Stone, how creative George Martin was, and the importance of the Number 9 in Beatles lore. We've gone over all that we get it, lets move on already. Besides save something for the 50 year anniversaries that are coming up in the next decade. Also has an album aged any worse than Sgt Preston's Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band? Beside's the goofy costumes, there are only about 4 songs that really hold up 42 years later.

I guess marketers are trying to re-create that time when everybody (and when I say everybody I mean popular youth culture) all liked the same thing. The story is that when Sgt. Prestons Peppers came out, you could walk down the street and hear it from every window. Now days musical tastes are so stratified and divided into a specific niche or genre, that we've lost that community aspect that popular music used to bring. Does anyone even know what's in the top 10 these days? I just wish instead of bringing up some re-treads, as great as they were, that the music industry would embrace a new act or two that could move us much like the Beatles did 5 decades ago.

September 4, 2009

Friday Random Top 10

A friend's nephew was killed in Afghanistan this week. Tell me again why are we there? A Random Top 10 is needed:

1. Blue Canadian Rockies - The Byrds
2. It was a Very Good Year - The Sounds Like Us
3. Get Off Your Porch - Charlie Pickett
4. People Have the Power - Patti Smith
5. Respect - Aretha Franklin
6. Talk Me with You (When You Go) - The Jayhawks
7. Golden Slumbers - The Beatles
8. High Road - The Feelies
9. I Aint' Ever Givin' In - Fred Eaglesmith
10. So Fine - Chancellors

Bonus: What You Do to Me - Teenage Fanclub

A very appropriate list considering. Have a good weekend. I'll be sealcoating my driveway!!

August 28, 2009

Friday Random Top 10

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Had to include one last pic, with the Target Field infield grass in place. Sure looks purty. How about a Random Top 10?

1. Deep -- Pearl Jam
2. Spaceboy -- Smashing Pumpkins
3. Space Monkey -- Patti Smith
4. It's Going to Take Some Time -- Dishwalla
5. I Shot the Sheriff -- Bob Marley and the Wailers
6. Grow Old with Me -- The Postal Service
7. Panic -- The Smiths
8. Reason to Believe -- Bruce Springsteen
9. Galaxy Gramophone -- The Soundtrack of our Lives
10. ODE -- Soul Asylum

Bonus: Psalm 69 -- Ministry

Had a little space theme going there for a bit but them settled down. Psalm 69 is one scary song off a scary album.

August 21, 2009

Friday Random Top 10

siren trail.jpg

If you are reading this on Friday, hopefully I am on my bike well on my way to Siren, Wisconsin for weekend stay at a friend's cabin. The route is shown above and is approximately 100 miles. The longest I have ridden is 72 miles so today will be nearly 40 percent longer than my longest ride. I plan to ride about 65 miles to Taylors Falls, have lunch and then ride the last 35 miles to Siren (actually a few miles past). This being 2009, I may tweet my progress (#freealonzo). To celebrate here is my Random Top 10, unfortunately I won't be able to cross post.

1. They - Guided By Voices
2. Sex on Fire - Kings of Leon
3. Sing for your Meat - Guided By Voices
4. Is There Anybody Out There? - Luther Wright and the Wrongs
5. Fell in Love with a Girl - The White Stripes
6. What Do I Want - Husker Du
7. Nowhere Man - The Beatles
8. The Boy Wonders - Aztec Camera
9. Highway 29 - Bruce Springsteen
10. No Sky - Guided By Voices

Bonus: All You Fascists - Billy Bragg and Wilco

Wow, another GBV triple play. All in all a nice list, hopefully I will hear something just a good on my trip. That Aztec Camera tune is a lost classic. What's your top 10? P.S. Someone today may provide LFAD's 2000th comment!

August 14, 2009

Friday Random Top 10

I think we can safely stick a fork in the Twins, because they are done, heck they might be a little over-done, brush off the ashes before you dig in. How about a Random Top 10 to go with it:

1. Revolution - Grandaddy
2. Hand in Glove - The Smiths
3. Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood - Nina Simone
4. White Rose - Fred Eaglesmith
5. Glowed Like Stars - U-Joint
6. Faraway Eyes - Handsome Family
7. Folk Star - Paul Westerberg
8. Tobacco Road - Blue Magoos
9. Privately - Guided By Voices
10. Ever After - Neil Young

Bonus: Drug Train - Social Distortion

Wow a bunch of obscurities and covers. What's your Top 10?

August 7, 2009

Friday Random Top 10

After a week of driving a 33 foot behemoth through the woods of Michigan I am back and desperately in need of a Random Top 10:

1. Don't Stand So Close To Me - The Police
2. Leap Frog (Breakdown Take 4) - Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie
3. All Blue - Miles Davis
4. Wishful Thinking - Wilco
5. Tiny Steps - Elvis Costello
6. Shaky Ground - Uncle Tupelo
7. Heart of the City - Nick Lowe
8. Redemption - Johnny Cash
9. Shake Your Booty - K.C. and the Sunshine Band
10. Gary's Tune - Lou Riegert & the Troops

Bonus: Maxwell's Silver Hammer - The Beatles

My secret's out! I have K.C. and the Sunshine Band on my I-pod!! The shame, the shame. What's your top 10?

July 31, 2009

Friday Random Top 10

From somewhere along the south shore of Lake Superior, a Random Top 10:

1. Drinkers Peace (live) - Guided By Voices
2. Kitchen Door - Buffalo Tom
3. Garageland - The Clash
4. Everyday Clothes - Jonathan Richman
5. Ballad of Donald White - Bob Dylan
6. Powderfinger - Neil Young
7. His Hand in Mine - Elvis Presley
8. When Yer Twenty-Two - Flaming Lips
9. Mother Mary - Foxboro Hottubs
10. Ghoul of Goodwill - The Suburbs

Bonus: Up around the Bend - Creedence Clearwater Revival

Some heavy hitters in this week's lineup. Nice to see some Suburbs crop up. What's your top 10?

July 24, 2009

Friday Random Top 10

I woke up this morning and heard there was a Crain wreck somewhere in Anaheim, CA. Here's a Random Top 10 in honor of the survivors.

1. Playin' to Win -- Magnolias
2. New York City -- The Neal Pollack Invasion
3. Mindless Child of Motherhood -- The Kinks
4. Rachel -- Buffalo Tom
5. I Saw the Light -- Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
6. The Boy with the Arab Strap -- Belle & Sebestian
7. Eronel -- Thelonious Monk
8. In Love with You Thing -- Beat Happening
9. Tear Stained Letter -- Johnny Cash
10. The New Kid -- Old 97's

Bonus: Act of the Apostle -- Belle & Sebastian

Nice mix with the B&S double shot. I haven't listened to that Magnolias disc in a long long time. What's your top 10?

July 17, 2009

Friday Random Top 10

Nice September day today. Does this mean the pennant races are heating up? We need a Random Top 10:

1. She's Just a Girl -- Devo
2. Blatant Doom Trip -- Guided By Voices
3. Jagged -- Old 97's
4. Growing into You -- Soul Asylum
5. Gangsters -- The Specials
6. Arkansas Traveler -- Jerry Garcia
7. Not Good for the Mechanism -- Guided Be Voices
8. Bad Seeds (live) -- The Beat Happening
9. Most Likely You Go Your Way -- Bob Dylan
10. It was a Very Good Year -- The Sounds Like Us

Bonus: Sons of Apollo -- Guided By Voices.

Wow, the elusive triple play! No doubt it would be Guided by Voices as they cover over 5 percent of the songs on my I-pod. What's your Top 10?

July 14, 2009

Charlie Pickett and the Eggs -- (Re)Discovered At Last

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If you were in the cool crowd in mid-eighties Minneapolis you were all over a band called Charlie Pickett and the Eggs. Charlie Pickett was this dude from Florida who had a hell-rockin' band that played hopped up greasy bar rock about drug addicts, whores, and love gone wrong. Think Rolling Stones circa 1969-72 but filtered through late 70's and early 80's punk.

He signed to the Minneapolis label Twin-Tone (home of the Replacements, Soul Asylum, etc), got a little radio play up here and played a bunch of shows. In fact I got to sing one of his songs at the Uptown Bar show. I was up front at the stage and Pickett saw me singing the words to American Travel Lust and he thrust a mic into my face and I got to sing the last two verses! One of my rock highlights for sure. He released an album on Twin Tone to middling reviews. I moved to Washington D.C. and I lost track of him.

It always gnawed on me that I didn't have any digital versions of Pickett's songs, especially his cool e.p. Cowboy Junkie Au Go Go. Every so often I would google or check e-bay for anything Charlie Pickett related but to no avail. It seemed like he dropped off the musical map. He obviously wasn't making any music or releasing anything under the Charlie Pickett name.

Finally in early mid-June I was rummaging through the Bloodshot Records web site, clicked their artist line-up and saw Charlie Pickett! Apparently Bloodshot was able to get the rights to Pickett's music from the various labels he recorded from and put together a 19-song greatest hits package. It arrived a couple of days ago and boy the memories came flooding back.

Of course I latched on to the songs I knew from 25 years ago: Marlboro Country, But I Didn't, Overton, American Travel Lust. But there really isn't a bad song in bunch. As I said above, 1969-72 Rolling Stones was a huge influence and Pickett even sounds like Jagger in a couple of songs.

Reading the liner notes, it appears that Pickett stopped making music in the early 90's. Too much turmoil for too little payback. There was the sad lament, that if he had just held on a little longer, popular culture would have caught on to what Picket was trying to do. Certainly the Alt.Country movement of the 90's would have swept up Charlie Pickett and who knows maybe we'd be putting Charlie Pickett in the same category as the Drive By Truckers or the Old 97's. It doesn't really matter, I finally have my Charlie Pickett on my I-Pod and can sing along with American Travel Lust (a hey hey hey) anytime I want.

July 13, 2009

Monday Music Movie Review -- The Filth and the Fury

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When Julien Temple set out to make a documentary of the Sex Pistols, he unfortunately gave final artistic control to former Sex Pistol manager Malcolm McLuran who turned the film -- The Great Rock and Roll Swindle -- into a self-aggrandizing mess, putting himself into the center of the entire Sex Pistol story. Fortunately Temple rectified the situation by taking some of the same footage, including interviews of the band, taped new interviews, and created one of the best rock and roll documentaries ever made - The Filth and the Fury.

The movie is a pretty straight forward look at the Sex Pistols, their creation, and the immediate impact they had on English popular culture from 1976-78. It also includes great footage of their (un)forgettable U.S. tour which ended with the band breaking up in after a one song concert in San Francisco. Temple however, practically creates an art film as the concert and news footage and interviews are also inter-cut with scenes from typical British television of the day, footage of dotty old Brits, and Laurence Olivier playing Richard III on stage (signifying perhaps King Richard III's quick rise and fall from power to that of the Sex Pistols?)

You get the basics here, how the band was formed, life in mid-70's London, and lots of news footage of how outrageous the hype around the band was. We forget but it was the Sex Pistols that literally created the ripped-up, safety pin look that became known as "punk." It is interesting to see some early concert footage and most of the people at the show have long feathered hair, flannel or western shirts and clean jeans. The punk look came later as the crowd responded to what the Sex Pistols were creating. We also learn that Sid Vicious invited pogoing.

Johnny Rotton's love for Sid lives to this day and you really feel for Rotten as he couldn't do anything to save Sid Vicious after he (Vicious) started shooting heroin. Rotten says in the movie, I could take on all of England but I couldn't take on a heroin addict. Rotten was truly hurt by Sid's death because he had been a live long friend. "he was one of the Johns."

The U.S. tour was a disaster and by the time they got to San Francisco, the band was done. They went on stage and played a long, rambling version of the song No Fun. Temple plays the concert footage but then uses this song as the backing while Johnny Rotten and the rest of the band explain the last days and the death of Vicious. It's quite an effective device to drive home the point that the band had reached the end. After the one song Rotten yells out to the crowd "ah ha ha ha ever get the feeling you've been cheated?" And walks off the stage. One understands immediately that the remark is directed to both the crowd and to himself.

If you are at all interested in the Sex Pistols, you should check out this movie. It moves quickly and is an interesting take on an interesting band which resonates still today.

July 10, 2009

Friday Random Top 10

So everyone agrees we hate the Yankees right? Man the Twins have a long way to go before they are going to be able to compete with a team like that. Let's have a random top 10:

1. French Film Blurred -- Wire
2. Wild Flower -- The Cult
3. Big Star -- The Jayhawks
4. Vengeance -- Germana
5. Sun Burn Brighter -- Hank and Ruth
6. My Little Red Book -- Love
7. Little Boxes -- Malvina Reynolds
8. King of the World -- Old 97's
9. Cedar Time -- Indigo Girls
10. Air Near My Fingers -- White Stripes

Bonus: Spinnin' -- Soul Asylum

A little obscure this week but a couple of keepers. What's your top10?

July 6, 2009

Wilco Loves You (baby)

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Are you under the impression,
This isn't your life,
Do you dabble in depression,
Is someone twisting a knife in your back,
Are you being attacked,
Oh, this is a fact,
That you need to know,
Oh, oh, oh, oh Wilco, Wilco, Wilco will love you Baby

Ever since Summerteeth was released in 1999 and through 2006's Sky Blue Sky, I think Wilco has consistently been one of the most musically ambitious acts out there and actually rival the Beatles in their Rubber Soul, Revolver, Sgt. Preston's, White Album, Abbey Road hey day (musically, not culturally of course). For me, Sky Blue Sky was particularly stellar and grows on me to this day with it's jazzy mellow vibe and Nels Cline's amazing guitar work. Aside: If you want to see Nels really take on the songs of Sky Blue Sky, check out American Ashes, the DVD Wilco released this past Spring.

After a couple of years of touring in support of Sky Blue Sky, Wilco's reputation really grew as they put on concerts that were flat out wonderful. So it was with great anticipation when it became known that Wilco was coming out with a new album. As has been the case with the last few Wilco albums, the band streamed the album on their web site months before it was available commercially and reviews were mixed. It was mellower than previous albums and didn't hang together coherently like a typically Wilco album does.

After listening to the album a bunch of times over the past week I am not going to disagree with the initial buzz. Wilco (the album) is mellower. Sky Blue Sky was essentially a showcase for Nels Cline guitar freak outs and the new album lacks that (although if you want to get your Nels Cline on, don't skip over Bull Black Nova, which at times feels like an outtake from A Ghost is Born). But to say that this is meddling Wilco album means that it is still better than 80 percent of what is out there musically today.

Wilco (the song) is a nice kick off with it's Velvet Undeground-tinged guitars and soothing lyrics (see above). We may live in scary times but don't worry, Wilco loves us. I could see President Obama incorporating this song into campaign stops, substituting his name with Wilco's. Deeper Down is probably a song that is mentioned when critics claim this album is mellower and not so strong. As I mentioned above, Bull Black Nova is a hard rocker with some wicked Cline guitar work

You Never Know
, the first single and album highlight is a classic Wilco song and is related to the first song on the album in that Jeff Tweedy is basically telling us don't worry about the bad times, we've always had bad times. This may be the end -- we don't know, but you don't need to care. Also there is a nice homage to George Harrison's My Sweet Lord toward the end of the song.

While none of the songs in the later half of the album reach the heights of You Never Know, Wilco is still there by our sides as we navigate these troubled times. In I'll Fight, they assure us that not only do they love us (baby), they will fight and even kill for us. Can you name another band that will do that for it's fans?

Finally in Everlasting Love, Wilco assures us once again. "Everything alive must die, every building built to the sky will fall" but don't try to tell them that Everlasting Love is a lie. So not only does Wilco love us (baby) it's everlasting and that's no lie. The song and album fades out with a classic Nels Cline guitar work.

So maybe not as satisfying as the last few Wilco albums but a nice album nonetheless. Maybe the first post-economic meltdown, post-Obama election album, assuring us that the world isn't coming to an end. Sure we have problems, but with love we'll get through it and heck, if we don't, at least we have Wilco to bring provide us with music at the end.

July 3, 2009

Friday Random Top 10

I'm off on a 72 mile bike trip on this glorious sunny day. I am training for a two-day 160 mile trip later this month and a one day 110 mile trip in August. Here's a Top 10 to get me going.

1. So High -- Elvis Presley
2. Video Killed the Radio Star -- Presidents of the Uniteds States of America
3. Jamaica Sky -- The Specials
4. Down by the Highway -- Bob Dylan
5. John Henry -- Bruce Springsteen
6. Cheap Reward -- Elvis Costello
7. The Imposter (live) -- Elvis Costello
8. Sin City -- Uncle Tupelo
9. Hero -- Ministry
10. Heartbeat -- Wire

Bonus: One Tree Hill -- U2

You don't see Elvis singing gospel and Ministry on the same list very often. What's your top 10?

July 2, 2009

June 2009 Recap

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Photo via of MN Daily

For some reason June just blows by. It seems like the month just starts and boom, its gone and we are making plans for the 4th. This year was a particularly memorable June, here are the highlights:

Mr. Franken goes to Washington. It took over eight months but we finally have our Senator. The writing's been on the wall with this one for a couple of months now but the slow as molasses pace and then all of a sudden it's over was breathtaking. Sure Franken is a goof but he is taking the job seriously and has some bona fide political chops. I think Republicans will be sorely mistaken if they underestimate Franken's ability to do a credible job and connect with ordinary Minnesotans.

Michael Jackson dead (and Farrah, and Ed, and Karl Malden, and Billy May, and Jay Bennett...) Wow bad month for celebrities. I can appreciate Michael's obvious musical talent with the Jackson 5 and his early solo stuff but the guy was a confirmed child molester. The crushing weight of celebrity and his own demons turned him into a freak at the end so he gained some sympathy there but don't forget: the man slept with little boys.

Timberwolves and Wild changing gears. Man I wanted Ricky Rubio and Stephen Curry together in the backcourt and was that >< close to seeing it happen. I am not sure if Rubio will play for the Wolves this year, but I think he will play eventually. This team still has a lot of holes but the excitement over Rubio should demonstrate to the Wolves "braintrust" that this is a real NBA market. Give us a team that is exciting, shows us some promise for the future, and we will come out and be there with you. Wild lose Gaborik which is no surprise. Now lets rebuild this team and get a goal scorer or two.

Twins. Aaron Gleeman has a good article describing the Twins first half of the season. Essentially Young, Tolbert, Punter, Buscher, and Gomez are a negative balance to the nice seasons Mauer, Morneau, Kubel, and Cuddyer are having. The starting pitching are slightly coming around as are the relievers. A nice right handed reliever is still needed but the Twins are blessed by playing in a flawed division. However can they compete in the playoffs?

New Wilco album. I really wanted to have a review ready today but just haven't been able to give Wilco (the album) a good listen or two. Reviews are mixed and the first couple of songs haven't exactly grabbed me. I love however the first single, You Never Know. If the whole album is like that, I will be raving. Look for a review next week.

No Beer at TCF Bank Stadium. The state legislature says everyone gets to buy booze or no one does. The Regents decided no one. I don't have a problem with this as virtually no college football stadium sells alcohol to the general population. Legislators get on their high horse and say they are looking out for the "common folks" who can't afford a fancy stadium suite. Too bad they don't worry about the common folks when they pass legislation that favors corporate interests over working families so spare me your faux populism.

So 2009 is halfway in the books what else happened in June that I missed?

June 26, 2009

Friday Random Top 10

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Wow, bad day yesterday. Farah Fawcett and Michael Jackson are gone and the T-Wolves draft eight point guards. We definitely need a random top 10:

1. Lafayette - Lucinda Williams
2. Forgotten Works - Klaxons
3. Infected - Bad Religion
4. Secondary Modern - Elvis Costello
5. Talking in the Dark - Elvis Costello
6. Down There by the Train - Tom Waits
7. Down on Penny's Farm - The Bently Boys
8. If My Heart Was a Car - Old 97's
9. Two Rooms - The Feelies
10. Make You Feel My Love - Bob Dylan

Bonus: Radio Cure - Wilco

You got your folk, punk, double shot of Elvis Costello, the Feelies and Wilco. Nothing wrong with that list at all. What's your top 10?

June 23, 2009

Green Day -- 21st Century Breakdown

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Being a guy in his mid-40's who sometimes borders on rock-snobbery, I realize I am not suppose to like Green Day. Sure, Green Day was "cool" back when they were East Bay punks, but now with a second album in 5 years that wears its pretentious sermonizing on its sleeve, the sentiment that Green Day speaks to anyone outside it's target market of 10-14 year old boys is usually met with eyes rolled at best, derision at worst.

Pitchfork Media, self-assigned arbiters of cool music, led the anti-Green Day charge when they gave 21st Century Breakdown only 4.8 out of 10 stars and slagged the album with the following:

21st Century Breakdown is just as pompous and dumb, but it lacks even that old misguided passion. It's a slog, but not the kind that results when a band forgets the importance of editing when in the throes of "trying to say something." Its sprawl feels entirely unearned, three men worried about meeting expectations rather than driven by urgency. The performances are blandly professional, because any major-label rock band of Green Day's abilities could shit this stuff out in their sleep, and emotionally inert. This is the crafting of a modern epic as a dreary day-job routine.

Obviously I am writing this post because I disagree. Now don't ask me what the "story" is all about, I couldn't tell you and to be honest, I couldn't care less. What I like about 21st Century Breakdown is that it rawks. Hard. Is it big dumb rock? You bet your stack of Marshall amps it is but big dumb rock has always had a place in my musical tastes, especially when it marries punk sensibilities with arena-style guitar anthems.

Classic rock grandiosity, punk rock fury, pop song hooks, this album has it all. There is a blatant rip-off of a Hives song that absolutely kills and a shout out to G..L..O..R..I..A in another song.. The last 3rd of the album thunders with a ear-crunching trio of Horseshoes and Handgrenades, The Static Age, and 21 Guns -- songs not only thrilling but bringing the album to a rousing conclusion. The Static Age is particularly fun as it combines hard rock bombast with garage rock sentimentality.

So is 21st Century Breakdown derivative? No doubt. Are the lyrics kinda dumb? Yes. Does it try to hard to be profound? Oh God Yes. But it rocks out from start to finish and is a strong antidote to all the whiny buzz bands that all the cool kids seem to like.

June 22, 2009

Replacements at U of MN Great Hall -- Spring 1984

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This is really a test of the new slide show feature of LFAD. I took these pictures over 25 years ago (!!!) from a Replacements show at the U of MN Great Hall. I believe it was April or May of 1984. Enjoy and let me know how well the slide show worked.

June 19, 2009

Friday Random Top 10

A jury says a woman must pay the music industry $80,000 per illegally downloaded song. Even though the music industry values their songs at 99 cents. Wow! Does that mean this list is worth $880,000? Here's your top 10:

1. Good Morning, Good Morning -- The Beatles
2. C'mon Everybody -- Eddie Cochran
3. The Wild Wagoneer -- Jilson Setters
4. Love and Happiness -- Al Green
5. Shirley MacLaine -- The 757s
6. Ain't that Enough -- Teenage Fanclub
7. Tommy's Holiday Camp -- The Who
8. Soma -- The Strokes
9. Oh Very Young -- Cat Stevens
10. About You -- Teenage Fanclub

Bonus: Mod Lang -- Big Star

Ooh the rare Teenage Fanclub double shot. What's your top 10?

June 12, 2009

Friday Random Top 10

Going to Chicago this weekend and will be at Wrigley on Sunday to see the Twins-Cubs. Right now it promises to be 75 and nice that day. We have tickets 19 rows behind the Twins dugout. Any one else going to any of the games? Let’s start off the weekend with a Random Top 10:

1. Finding Devine – Hank and Ruth
2. With a Girl Like You – Alex Chilton
3. Careless Love – Ray Charles
4. Because – The Beatles
5. Is She Really Going Out with Him – Joe Jackson
6. No Body but Me – The Human Beinz
7. Feeling Called Love – Wire
8. I’ll Never Let You Go – Elvis Presley
9. Town of Mirrors – Guided By Voices
10. Soon – My Bloody Valentine

Bonus: Many Rivers to Cross – Harry Nilsson

That was a different list for me. Lot of older stuff and five of the songs by solo acts. What’s your top 10?

June 5, 2009

Friday Random Top 10

Off on a 55 mile bike ride but I got get a top 10 in to motivate me...

1. Approaching Pavonis Mons by Balloon -- The Flaming Lips
2. Open My Eyes -- The Nazz
3. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Ban -- The Beatles
4. Watch Me Jumpstart -- Guided By Voices
5. Old Chunk of Coal -- Johnny Cash
6. Box of Rain -- Grateful Dead
7. The Lake -- Trip Shakespeare
8. King Who Wouldn't Smile -- The Handsome Family
9. Because -- The Beatles
10. Open Up YOur Heart -- Buck Owens

Bonus -- Nashville Blues -- The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band

Started off kinda weird but ended up rootsy with some Beatles thrown in. Not a bad way to start off a gorgeous day. What's your top 10?

June 2, 2009

1984 -- Greatest Year for Music?

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Slate.com has a real good article by Simon Reynolds about music and the “in-between periods” of rock history that get ignored or lack a name. For example what happened before and after “grunge” is just as important as the grunge movement itself. Also in the article Ritchie (who has written two cool books about punk and rock) quotes someone who states that 1988 was the best year for rock ever: Surfer Rosa (Pixies), Daydream Nation (SY), Isn’t Anything (MBV).

While 1988 was a good year for rock, personally I think 1984 was better. Here’s the proof:

Prince – Purple Rain
Husker Du – Zen Arcade
The Replacements – Let It Be
U2 – Unforgettable Fire
R.E.M – Reckoning
The Minutemen – Double Nickels on the Dime
Metallica – Ride the Lightning

So the challenge. Was there a better year for music than 1984? If you think so, provide your evidence in the comments section.

May 29, 2009

Friday Random Top 10

Sure feels like summer. Grilling, baseball, drinking, biking, and graduation parties will take up most of my weekend. Let's kick it off with a Friday top 10...

1. No Reservations -- Husker Du
2. Money Honey -- Little Richard
3. Whatever -- Husker Du
4. Whispering Whip -- Robert Pollard
5. Sweet and Tender Hooligan -- The Smiths
6. Out of the Shadows -- The Phones
7. 100% of Nothing -- Meat Puppets
8. Mirror in the Bathroom -- The English Beat
9. Egyptian Shumba -- The Tammys
10. Careless Love -- Ray Charles

Bonus: The Sound of Failure -- The Flaming Lips

Wow, back to 80s with a scattering of golden oldies. Nice to see a Husker Du double shot. What's your top 10?

May 22, 2009

Friday Random Top 10

Jake Peavy turns down the Whiteys. Which is good for the Twins. At least the Sox are trying to improve their team, what are the Twins doing? I get to see a minor league pitcher tomorrow start against the Brew Crew. Can't wait. Last year it was Livan and Boof so I guess Obama is making changes. Here's a random top 10:

1. Girl, You'll be a Woman Soon -- Neil Diamond
2. Serious Bird Woman -- Robert Pollard
3. Length of Love -- Interpol
4. Master of Puppets -- Metallica
5. I Love You So Much It Hurts -- Ray Charles
6. Spirit Road -- Neil Young
7. Return of the Grievous Angel -- Gram Parsons
8. Shakespeare's Sister -- The Smiths
9. I'm Gonna Make You Mine -- Hypstrz
10. Blue Green Arrow.

Bonus: Without a Trace -- Soul Asylum

Not a bad mix, Return of the Grievous Angel is always a fave. Good to see a little old school Metallica too. What's your top 10?

May 15, 2009

Friday Random Top 10

Wisconsin and North Carolina passed Statewide Smoking bans this week and once the bills are signed by their Governors (as both have promised), 26 states will ban smoking in public spaces. Also New Hampshire Governor is going to sign a gay marriage bill. Times they are a changin' Come on Bobby, start us off on a Friday Random Top 10:

1. Just Like a Woman -- Bob Dylan
2. Star of Bethlehem -- Neil Young
3. Anodyne -- Uncle Tupelo
4. Hot Burrito #1 -- Flying Burrito Brothers
5. Some Days are Better than others -- U2
6. Riot on Sunset Strip -- The Hypstrz
7. A Salty Salute -- Guided By Voices
8. The Man Who Sailed Around His Soul -- XTC
9. Lucky -- Radiohead
10. Waves Become Wings -- This Mortal Coil

Bonus: Poor Boy Blues -- Ramblin' Thomas

Those first four songs really set the pace for this list and TMC puts a spooky little coda on the whole thing. What's on your top 10?

May 8, 2009

Friday Random Top 10

Sure I post about wanting Brett Favre to join the Vikings and literally minutes later its announced he’s not going to unretire. Oh well, it was a good run.

1. Uncontrollable Urge – Devo
2. Let Down – Radiohead
3. Nausea (live) – X
4. Hang on to Yourself – David Bowie
5. Straight No Chaser – Thelonious Monk
6. Accidents Will Happen (live) – Elvis Costello
7. Your Heart is an Empty Room – Death Cab For Cutie
8. Curtain Calls (live) – Old 97s
9. When I say Wife – Jonathan Richman
10. Run Run Run – The Gestures

Bonus: Long as I Can See the Light – Creedence Clearwater Revival

Ya Ya Ya Ya YaYaYaYaYaYaYa Ya!!

May 1, 2009

Friday Random Top 10

Swine Flu. Nuff said. We need a random top 10:

1. Wild Mountain Berries -- Kelly Hogan & the Pine Valley Cosmonauts
2. You Tell Me -- Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
3. Oh, Me (live) -- Nirvana
4. Trap Soul Door (live) Guided By Voices
5. Ronnie's Song -- Urban Guerrillas
6. Game of Pricks -- Guided By Voices
7. Sassafras Roots -- Green Day
8. My My Hey Hey (Out of the Blue) -- Neil Young
9. Lovers Town Revisited -- Billy Bragg
10. This Night Has Opened Up My Eyes -- The Smiths

Bonus: Talking Hard Work -- Woody Guthrie

Game of Pricks is one of my favorite GBV songs, the rest of this list is pretty good but no real standouts.

April 27, 2009

Noah and the Whale -- 7th Street Entry

Because my 15-year old daughter’s musical tastes are too cool for her Catholic high school, she couldn’t talk anyone into going to see Noah and the Whale this past Friday night at the 7th Street Entry for an all-ages show. We’ve raised her right and she didn’t want to go by herself so she was kinda bummed. Since I am a nice dad, I volunteered to tag along and accompany her to her first event at The Entry.

Now I never heard of Noah and the Whale so I quickly checked out a you tube video before we hit the road and it seemed like they would be ok. I put on my black Elvis shirt and since the weather was coolish, put on an unbuttoned flannel shirt over it. Wanted to look the part of a Entry denizen and cool dad. Doors opened at 6:00 with Noah and the Whale set for around 8:00. We got there in time to see most of the opening act, a sensitive singer songwriter on acoustic guitar.

It’s been a couple of years since I was at the entry and it was as dark as usual. The all-ages crowd ranged from about 16-20 (mostly female) and I don’t think I saw another dad or mom in the crowd. We were able to easily snake our way to the front of the stage. I also went to see if they would serve beer to grown-ups. No such luck which is probably a good thing for an all-ages show.

Noah and the Whale were actually pretty good and I enjoyed them a lot. Very pop sounding and their M.O. was to start off very slow and then would ramp it up until by the end of the song, they were jamming. It wasn’t Nirvana-like slow then explosion, but more a gradual increase in intensity. Many songs ended with much thrashing and wailing.

They played for about an hour and then set up camp by the t-shirts where anyone could talk to the band members and get pictures, which was a nice way to connect with the kids. My daughter had a blast and I was glad she was enjoying guitar-based music, as opposed to the stuff you usually hear on KDWB. On the way home I regaled her with stories of Entry shows past (edited for age-appropriateness) and we stopped at Pizza Luce for a slice before we got home. By 10:00 we were in the drive-way, with band t-shirt and good memories to remind of us of her first show at the 7th Street Entry.

April 24, 2009

Friday Random Top 10

Right now the NHL playoffs hold a lot more interest for me than the NBA playoffs -- although I will tune in for a Kobe-Lebron final. NFL Draft? zzzzzz. What about a random top 10?

1. Desire -- Hank and Ruth
2. Blowin' Down the Road -- Woody Guthrie
3. Wordless Chorus -- My Morning Jacket
4. Newest Industry -- Husker Du
5. Star Spangled Banner -- Jimi Hendrix
6. Nothing But Blood -- Rev. F.D. Kirkpatrick
7. I Zimbra (live) -- Talking Heads
8. Berkeley Mews -- The Kinks
9. Pressure Drop -- Clash
10. Beautiful World -- Devo

Bonus: Shutup -- The Replacements.

Hows that for eclectic! What's your top 10?

April 17, 2009

Friday Random Top 10

First day this year rode my bike to work. Feels great!! Don't forgot that Saturday is support your local record store day. Minneapolis is blessed with a number of independent record stores. I plan to go to Roadrunner Records, probably to purchase the new Los Campesinos! disc. What store are you going to? Here's a top 10 to get you in the mood:

1. Vertigo -- U2
2. That's Me Trying -- William Shatner
3. In Dreams -- Roy Orbison
4. I Mean You -- Thelonious Monk
5. Jackson -- Johnny Cash w/ June Carter
6. Round Midnight -- Thelonious Monk
7. Hash Pipe -- Weezer
8. Livin' for You -- Al Green
9. Strange -- R.E.M.
10. C'mere -- Interpol

Bonus: Echos Myron -- Guided By Voices

Well of course I had to have a GBV in there, plus a rare Thelonious Monk double shot! Plus 3 one word songs by 3 sort of one word bands. What's your top 10?

April 10, 2009

Friday Random Top 10

Back from Florida tanned and rested. There is a need for a random top 10:

1. Pop Phenomenon -- The Push Kings
2. Pilot Can at the Queer of God -- Flaming Lips
3. I Got You Babe -- Sonny and Cher
4. The Who vs. Porky Pig -- Guided By Voices
5. Fear, Bitterness and Hatred -- Young Fresh Fellows
6. If I Fell -- The Beatles
7. Blame it on Cain -- Elvis Costello
8. At Home He's a Tourist -- Gang of Four
9. Draglines -- Deborah Silverstein
10. Stranger in the House -- Elvis Costello

Bonus: Man in Black -- Johnny Cash.

Wow, nice list. Good variety, not a loser in the bunch. What's your top 10?

April 3, 2009

Friday Random Top 10

Obsessing over the Twins Golden Ticket. Check clues below and help out!! Here's your random top 10:

1. Another Day -- Roy Harper
2. Scarecrow Song -- Landisfarne
3. Excuse Me While I Break My Own Heart -- Whiskeytown
4. It is Divine -- Guided By Voices
5. The Ascended Masters Grogshop -- Guided By Voices
6. Behind the Wall of Sleep -- The Smithereens
7. Faith -- Suburbs
8. Peaches -- Stranglers
9. Deliah (live) -- Koerner Ray and Glover
10. Tiny Voices -- Bad Religion

Bonus: Settin' the Woods on Fire -- Hank Williams

Another GBV double shot plus a couple of obscure ones. That KRG song is from their last show ever. What's your top 10?

April 1, 2009

Deerhoof Show in My Garage -- TODAY!!!

I recently found out that my cousin’s boyfriend is in the band Deerhoof. The whole band is in town to celebrate my Aunt’s birthday (cousin’s mom). They are kind of bored so I decided to invite them over, set up a P.A. in my garage and jam.

It’s going to be kind of cold so dress warm. Don’t know how long the cops will let them play so get there early. Let me know in the comments if you need directions.

March 27, 2009

Friday Random Top 10

Why didn't someone tell me that Memphis can't play defense? I need major help to even be a player now. When does the baseball season start? I need a top 10:

1. Bluest Eyes in Texas -- Nina Persons
2. Dust Bowl Blues -- Woody Guthrie
3. I Believe in the Man in the Sky -- Elvis Presley
4. Southern Man -- Neil Young
5. Serve the Servants -- Nirvana
6. Smothered in Hugs -- Guided By Voices
7. Dope Smokin' Moron -- The Replacements
8. Dying to Try This -- Guided By Voices
9. The Woman with the Tatooed Hands -- Atmosphere
10. Turn Turn Turn -- The Byrds

Bonus: I'm Going to Make You Mine -- Shadows of Night

Not the greatest list of all time. Has the obligatory double shot from GBV. What's your top 10?

March 25, 2009

The Decemberists Perform a Rock Opera

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Fans of The Decemberists probably know that the band has recently released a new album, The Hazards of Love, which is being billed as a “Rock Opera.” No surprise coming from The Decemberists who have been evolving toward prog rock for a number of years now. It’s really a logical next step for the band. Basically the story is about a pair of doomed lovers cavorting in the woods and the troubles they run into with a forest queen and some other bad dude/creature. Very Decemberists.

Now of course something like this could be real cool or just plan awful, there is probably be no middle ground here. So I was interested when I heard that the Decemberists were going to play the entire album at South x Southwest last week. Knowing I wasn’t heading off to Austin, I did the next best thing and checked out the podcast of their show from NPR.

[Aside, have you checked out the NPR live concert podcasts? It rocks! There is a ton of good stuff they have available, including a ton from SxSW. Besides recent shows there is a Leonard Cohen show, Radiohead, a bunch of others, I’ll be back to see what else is there. Here’s the link.]
The thing with rock operas is that you need the words in front of you to get what the story is about so I was at a disadvantage right there. The Who’s Tommy is classic because it was recorded at that time when we all listened to albums. You could sit in your room with headphones going over the lyrics as the song played. (and yes if you lit a candle while listening to Tommy you would see your future). So I really can’t tell you how the story turns out in The Hazards of Love.

I can tell you however, that there are some cool songs here (some kinda of draggy ones too). It starts off slow but about a third of the way in, the band just connects. There are a couple of female vocals that are just wailers and one song where apparently there are 6 percussionists. Truly some heavy stuff here. The crowd, it appears is slow to warm up to what’s being presented to them, but by the end you can tell they were blown away.

I’m definitely going to look for the lyrics so that I can follow along because there appears to be some interesting music going on here. If you’re a Decemberists fan, there are some individual songs that you will undoubtedly like, rock opera or not. This however, will not be a big breakthrough effort by the band. But an interesting piece nonetheless.

March 20, 2009

Friday Random Top 10

Gophers lose in Basketball and Hockey, Wild and T-wolves will be one of handful of teams that won't make their respective playoffs, Vikings haven't won a playoff game in years, Twins may be o.k. Welcome to Loserville, U.S.A. Time for a Random Top 10:

1. Enter Sandman -- Metallica
2. Time and Time Again -- Counting Crows
3. Peace In the Valley -- Elvis Presley
4. Can't Stand Losing You -- The Police
5. Don't Make Me a Target -- Spoon
6. MLK -- U2
7. If I Give You My Soul -- Johnny Cash
8. Saturday Night is Dead -- Graham Parker
9. The Enemy -- Guided By Voices
10. Hold Me Now -- The Rumors

Bonus: Two of Us -- The Beatles

Not bad at all, what's your top 10?

March 13, 2009

Friday Random Top 10

Gophers win and should be dancing next week. The next three weeks is when the wife is mad because "you're watching basketball again." Need a random top ten to prepare:

1. Billy Liar -- The Decemberists
2. Too Much Too Young -- The Specials
3. Generals and Majors -- XTC
4. I Love You So Much it Hurts -- Patsy Cline
5. Mr. Pinnodmys Dilemma -- The Attack
6. Jump in the Climb -- Big Black
7. High Fashion Queen -- Flying Burrito Brothers
8. Don't Let Me Down -- The Beatles
9. The Ways of a Woman in Love -- Johnny Cash
10. Johny Strikes Up the Band -- Warren Zevon

Bonus: I Don't Control You -- Teenage Fanclub

Lots of old school tunes there. What's your top 10?

March 10, 2009

Free Download: Replacements and Meat Puppets Live shows

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Welcome Braublog readers! Replacements Download below. While you're here check out Lost Forest After Dark. Leave a comment or two, bookmark the site and come back if you like what you see.

Some people know that I have on cassette a live taping of a Replacements concert from October 1985 and a Meat Puppets concert that I think is either from 1987 or 1988. I’ve been talking for years that I was going to get them digitized. Well I finally got it done and am willing to share them with the faithful (and not so faithful) readers of Lost Forest After Dark.

The Replacements show is a classic. It’s from October 18, 1985 and I think it was the first show (UPDATE: it was the Friday night show, #4) of a 5 night stand at the 7th Street Entry in support of their first album on a Major Label – Tim. If you never saw the Replacements in concert, this show is a must. It has it all: the classics, goofy covers and mayhem. Don’t worry, it doesn’t disintegrate into a drunken mess, it is top notch from beginning to end. To download or stream, click here.

The Meat Puppets show is from around 1987 or 1988 (Maybe 1989 but I don’t think so) and was recorded at First Avenue. Again a classic. There is a part of the show near the end where it is virtually a face-ripping guitar jam session. Also the coolest cover of The Everly Bros All I Want to do is Dream that I have ever heard can be found in this recording. To download or stream, click here.

Neither of these shows were taped from the board so sonic quality isn’t the greatest, but it is pretty good. There’s a little bit of audience talking but nothing that deters from the shows.

Also, for those who haven’t checked it out, here is a 1984 Urban Guerrillas concert from 1st Avenue as well.

So check out the stream or download, let me know what you think. Also if you have trouble with the download, let me know so that I can try to fix. But most of all enjoy the music!!

March 6, 2009

Friday Random Top 10

I had a code for the Leonard Cohen presale but tickets were $175 plus fees for 15th row seats so I just couldn't pull the trigger. I'm gonna kick myself from here to eternity but that's just too much $$$ to see a show. I need a random top 10:

1. Killing an Arab -- The Cure
2. Nothing Compares 2 U -- Prince
3. My Heart -- Neil Young
4. UFO -- The Wedding Present
5. Silver Shorts -- The Wedding Present
6. 8th Street -- Bellwether
7. Get on the Snake -- Soundgarden
8. 16 Blue -- The Replacements
9. Can't Help Falling in Love -- Elvis Presley
10. Sister Ray -- Velvet Underground

Bonus: Returning the Screw -- Fugazi.

Ahhh, that felt better. A nice double hit of the Wedding Present. If there was any justice in the world Bellwether would have been just as big as Ryan Adam and the Cardinals and 8th Street would have been their big breakthrough hit. What's your top 10?

February 27, 2009

Friday Random Top 10

For Lent I am fasting on Fridays. I did it 10 years ago so I thought I was due. Even though I maintain that there is a sandwich in every bottle of beer, drinking alcohol does not break may fast. Let's celebrate with a random top 10.

1. Personal Jesus -- Johnny Cash
2. My World Fell Down -- Sagittarius
3. Do You Want New Wave or Do You Want the Truth? -- The Minutemen
4. Perfectly Lethal -- The Replacements
5. Chicken Blows -- Guided By Voices
6. Melted Pat (live) -- Guided By Voices
7. Psychotic Reactions -- Count Five
8. Nobody Hurts You (live) -- Graham Parker
9. Bouncing Ball -- The Magnolias
10. Three Coins in the Fountain -- Frank Sinatra

Nice list. Hey E-6, Frank didn't write his songs either. What's your top 10?
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February 20, 2009

Friday Random Top 10

So what was your favorite Casey Carlson moment? Mine was when she winked at me. Yes she was winking at ME. Here's a Friday Top Ten, dedicated to you Casey...

1. Ain't No Good -- Cake
2. Monkey Gone to Heaven -- Pixies
3. Bob Dylan Wrote Propaganda Songs -- The Minutemen
4. Buckets of Rain -- Bob Dylan
5. Devil Doll -- Roy Orbison
6. Rudie Can't Fail -- The Clash
7. Sugarcane -- Fred Eaglesmith
8. Giant City, Tiny Town -- Jack Logan
9. Motor Away -- Guided By Voices
10. Shine on Sweet Jesus -- The Flaming Lips

Bonus: Redemption Song -- Johnny Cash w/Joe Strummer

Nice list, a little something for everyone. Nice pairing of that Minutemen and Dylan song. What's your top 10?

February 18, 2009

Viva Glasvegas!

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I have been struggling lately trying to find some new bands to get into. My foray into new music last year happily led me to discover The Wedding Present. However, they could hardly be classified as new as most of their best recordings are more than 10 years old. And while all the cool kids like The Fleet Foxes, Band of Horses, TV on the Radio, (among others) I just can’t seem to summon the energy to get past one or two songs without throwing up a little in my mouth. Basically I was resigned to wallow in my Replacements memories and Guided By Voices arcana.

Then suddenly something wonderful happened. I came across a new buzz band that I actually like, love even. Glasvegas is a band out of Scotland (Glascow, natch) and can be best described as a 60’s girl group backed by a bunch of grungy fuzz guitars. Guitars rule here with none of the whiny pretension that smothers Fleet Foxes. Also instead of insolence from some put upon snot-nosed punk or sexual braggadocio, the lyrics are alluring with a hint of doo-wop and matinee idol crooning.

Now I was going to write more about the band and their new album but then in the Friday comments, Jeff L., unprompted, posts this about Glasvegas:

This record really has its hooks in me. If you haven't heard it, it sounds kinda like one of Phil Spector's 60's girl-group pop records, only with Jesus & Mary Chain or Teenage Fan Club as the studio band and a singer that sounds like the spawn of a sexual encounter between Bono and Groundskeeper Willie (sounds weird, I know, but I'm sure Bono really is capable of having sex with a cartoon, and then carrying the child as well; or at least he thinks he is). This is grand Glaswegian guitar pop. Glorious guitars of the electric variety through multiple Marshall stacks, all turned up to 11. Every snare hit a fucking EVENT, like Hal Blaine on the clear AND the cream.
So true and frankly I can’t top that so I won’t even try. Basically you have a choice: You can continue to gaze at your navel in Bon Iver's saltbox cabin, “rawk” out to Vampire Weekend, twiddle the knobs to M83 electronica or I-don’t-know-what with your Andrew Bird whistle-tunes and just languish along with your pop musings. Or you can go with Glasvegas and re-discover music all over again. The choice is yours. So what are you gonna do?

February 13, 2009

Friday Random Top 10

Valentines Day coming up, let’s see if a Random Top ten produces some nice love songs.

1. The Hill – Marketa Irglova
2. The Good Toothpicks – The Handsome Family
3. Ask – The Smiths
4. Paranoid – Black Sabbath
5. Buzz Buzz Buzz – The Blasters
6. Oddfellows Local 151 – REM
7. What Was Burned – Jack Logan
8. Daughter of Darkness – Tom Jones
9. The Meeting Place – XTC
10. Too Drunk Too Fuck – The Dead Kennedys

Ouch! You could take those songs and describe a very scary and unsuccessful Valentines date! What’s your top 10?

February 6, 2009

Friday Random Top 10

I'm really geeking for tonight's BSG. Adama and Tigh are making a last stand against a mutiny. Definitely need a Random Top 10 to tide me over.

1. 15 Years in Indiana -- Jack Logan
2. Jesus Christ Pose -- Soundgarden
3. Soul Asylum -- Religivision
4. Jonathan Richman -- Government Center
5. California Man -- Cheap Trick
6. Metallica -- One
7. Cry -- Dan Wilson
8. Tractor Rape Chain -- Guided By Voices
9. Heroin -- Velvet Underground
10. They're Not You -- Patsy Cline

Wow.

What's your top 10?

January 30, 2009

Friday Random Top 10

Wow Gophers put a defensive blanket on the Fightin' Illini. A nice needed win. Let's celebrate with a Friday Random Top 10:

1. Black Wind Blowing -- Billy Bragg and Wilco
2. Overture (live) -- The Who
3. Under Her Spell -- The Phones
4. Melt Show (live) -- Old 97's
5. A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall -- Bob Dylan
6. Whispering Pines -- Kelly Hogan and the Pine Valley Cosmonauts
7. Zooropa -- U2
8. Deliah (live) -- Koerner Ray and Glover
9. The Spider -- Weezer
10. I Still Miss Someone -- Johnny Cash

That KRG song is from their last concert ever at Princeton University. If you fill me up with beers sometime ask me about my theory of how the last verse of A Hard Rain, Tom Joad's speech to his mother, and the Holy Spirit and the theory of evolution are are linked. What's your top 10?

January 23, 2009

Friday Random Top 10

Just because I am Haiti doesn't mean I can't drop in a Random top 10:

1. Shut Up and Let Me Go -- The Ting Tings
2. Wormhole -- Guided By Voices
3. Land -- Patti Smith
4. Redemption Song -- Bob Marley and the Wailers
5. Down by the River -- Neil Young
6. Too Far Apart -- Wilco
7. Why Do You Let Me Stay Here? -- She & Him
8. King And Caroline/Motor Away (live) -- Guided By Voices
9. Let's Kiss -- Beat Happening
10. Blue Suede Shoes -- Carl Perkins

That was some lo-fi fun! What's your top 10?

January 16, 2009

Friday Random Top 10

Tubby's Gophers come back from 10 down with 5 minutes left against the dreaded BADgers. I look forward to some fun basketball the rest of this winter. Let's celebrate with a random to top 10

1. No Easy Way Down -- Dusty Springfield
2. Acid Tongue -- Jenny Lewis
3. Wild World -- Cat Stevens
4. Mexico City Blues 104 -- Jack Kerouac
5. Got You Down -- Paul Westerberg
6. The New World (demo) -- X
7. Imperial Bedroom -- Elvis Costello
8. Free Nelson Mandela -- The Special AKA
9. Nobody But Me -- The Human Beinz
10. Tomorrow Never Knows -- The Beatles

Nice list with a groovy retro vibe going on here. This will warm your cackles during a cold January day! What's your top 10?

January 9, 2009

Friday Random Top 10

It’s been an exciting week, I got a wireless mouse for my work computer. I desperately need a Friday Random Top 10.

1. First Time Ever I Saw Your Face – Johnny Cash
2. Sgt. Rock (Is Going to Help Me) – XTC
3. Brassy – Play Some D
4. (Just Like) Starting Over – The Flaming Lips
5. Don’t Turn Me Down – The Replacements
6. The Things I Used To Do – G. Love and Special Sauce
7. Rainy Night in Soho – The Pogues
8. Working Class Hero – Green Day
9 Blue Moon of Kentucky – Elvis Presley
10. 15 Years in Indiana – Jack Logan

Hmm, looks like the theme here is lesser tracks from well known artists. What’s your Top 10?

January 2, 2009

Friday Random Top 10

A brand new year, let's see how a Friday Random Top Ten rings in 2009...

1. Typical Girls -- The Slits
2. On the road again -- Bob Dylan
3. Go to the Mirror Boy -- The Who
4. One Man's Problem -- The Jayhawks
5. Ice Cold Ice --- Husker Du
6. The Trouble with You -- Missing Numbers
7. Sandusky -- Uncle Tupelo
8. Free Radicals -- The Flaming Lips
9. Honky Tonk Blues -- Hank Williams
10. Jacob's Ladder -- Bruce Springsteen

A heavy country/american vibe going here. What's your random top 10?

December 23, 2008

2008 -- Year in Music

Here is my 2007 Music Review
Here is my 2006 Music Review

The year 2008 actually started off extremely slow for listening to new music, but I came on strong as the weather got colder and I listened to a bunch of new stuff, mostly from the old tried and true, by the end of the year. Below are the new albums I listened to, most of them were reviewed on this blog (click album to read review).

Albums
Paul Westerberg - 49:00
Walkmen – You & Me
Ting Tings – We Started Nothing
Kings of Leon – Only by the Night
The Wedding Present – El Rey
Weezer – The Red Album
REM – Accelerator
Jenny Lewis – Acid Tongue
The Hold Steady – Stay Positive

As I posted earlier, I hated the Walkmen and loved the Wedding Present, with El Rey my favorite Album of the year. The Jenny Lewis album was a disappointment and Stay Positive by The Hold Steady was nice. Accelerator was o.k. Nice rockin’ album but not a classic by any stretch of the imagination. That Paul Westerberg release was a fun little experiment that I find myself listening to every so often as well. Overall a pretty weak year for new music.


Rediscovered Albums
My Bloody Valentine – Loveless
The Wedding Present – Seamonsters, Bizaro, Hit Parade
Ike Reilly – Junkie Faithful
Built to Spill – Perfect From Now On

I really got into The Wedding Present this fall with Bizzaro and Hit Parade on heavy rotation. The My Bloody Valentine and Built to Spill albums were long lost classics I am glad I re-discovered. They were off my radar screen for far too long. I really grooved on that Ike Reilly disc too and might check out some more Ike in 2009.


Songs
That’s Not My Name – The Ting Tings
Carpetbagger – Jenny Lewis w/Elvis Costello
Killing the Blues – Robert Plant and Alison Kraus

That’s Not My Name was by far my favorite song this year. I just crank the volume every time I hear it. Carpetbagger was cool too – I just love Elvis Costello’s vocals – that’s why I was so disappointed in the rest of that Jenny Lewis album. Killing the Blues was actually released in 2007 but I really didn’t hear it until 2008. Great lugubrious song.


Concerts
Bodeans
Mekons
Weezer
Bob Dylan

Click on each individual show for my review. Not a whole lot of concerts this year. In fact that Bodeans concert was from New Years but obviously fell into 2008 too so I included it. The Mekons was kinda a concert but hey live music counts is a concert right? I missed a couple of good ones including The Wedding Present, some shows related to the RNC in St. Paul, and a Flaming Lips show at a festival in Detroit Lakes. Not sure what 2009 brings.

So not the greatest year in music but what the heck, I’m not 22 any more. What did you like musically this year?

December 19, 2008

Friday Random Top 10

Franken pulls ahead in the recount but miles to go before I sleep. Things are looking good for Franken just not going to happen any time soon. Looks like we need a Friday Random Top 10.

1. Static/Diamond Bollocks – Beck
2. I’ll Go Crazy – James Brown
3. Willesden Green – The Kinks
4. Ride my Llama – Neil Young
5. Marked -- Bad Religion
6. Stuck Between Stations – The Hold Steady
7. Sudden Steps – Kelly Hogan & the Pine Valley Cosmonauts
8. Rocker – Charlie Parker
9. Closer – Jonathan Richman
10. Driveby – Neil Young

Not the greatest list ever that’s for sure. I am positive E-6 will make a nice comment about the Kinks selection. What’s your top10?

December 12, 2008

Friday Random Top 10

There was an article in the Strib today from the Washington Post that says those Americans born in the late 1950s and early 1960s are, on average, the dumbest, least successful age cohort since WWII, with 1963 being the nadir. As someone born in 1963, that explains a lot. Definitely need a random top 10 to ease my feeble brain.

1. Louie Go Home – The Hypstrz
2. Downed – Cheap Trick
3. My Father’s House – Bruce Springsteen
4. I Love You Because – Elvis Presley
5. Epistrophy – Thelonious Monk
6. Young Americans – David Bowie
7. Carolyn No – The Beach Boys
8. Living With War – Neil Young
9. Love You More – The Buzzcocks
10. Rusty Cage – Johnny Cash

Nice range there some rockin’ some reflectin.’ Don’t think it wasn’t hard trying to spell Thelonious. What’s your top 10?

December 5, 2008

Friday Random Top 10

A women complained to the Star Tribune because Starbucks caught on to her scheme where she was able to get a $4.00 latte for $3.60. This woman purchases two latte's a day or 40 a month for a total bill of $160. By saving 40 cents a latte, she's saving 10 percent of her monthly latte bill. First this "gaming" the system is why we are in the trouble we're in economically. Everyone was always trying perpetuate a scheme to make a buck. Take on a mortgage with no interest for two years? Do it, you're getting a good deal! Tom Petters says invest with me you'll get a 50 percent return, ignore the fact that almost all other investments are getting 5-8 percent, it's a great deal!!. Second, hey lady if you want to save some money buy only one latte a day, you'll save $4.00 a day plus you won't have to keep on buying new clothes to replace the ones your 2-day latte habit is making you grow out of. With that here's this week's random top 10:

1. I Got You -- Wilco
2. Redemption Song -- Johnny Cash w/Joe Strummer
3. Where Were You -- Mekons
4. Swastika Eyes -- Primal Scream
5. Somewhere -- Husker Du
6. The City of the Dead -- The Clash
7. Memphis Hip Shake - The Cult
8. Think -- Aretha Franklin
9. Revolution -- Grandaddy
10. Clowntime is Over No. 2 -- Elvis Costello

Wow, what a rockin' set. A lot of classics in that set. What's your top 10?

December 3, 2008

Elvis Comeback Special

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This night 40 years ago as you settled into the Christmas season after a sad and dark year filled with assassinations, unending war, urban unrest, and the election of Richard Nixon as President, you may have turned on the television to check out what we now commonly call The Elvis Comeback Special. Of course it wasn’t called that at the time because no one had any idea Elvis was going to do kick some rock and roll ass and for one night fulfill the promise that was “Elvis.? In fact, if Col. Tom Parker had gotten his way, Elvis would have been sitting on a spare stage singing Christmas songs.

Before one can “comeback? two things must happen: First the one making the comeback had previously performed at a heightened level and second, that they’ve fallen far from those heights. No doubt by 1968 Elvis had fallen far from pinnacle he sat upon in the late 1950’s. Bad movies with even worse songs had defined Elvis’ career since 1961 and musically Elvis seemed trite compared to the music that then ruled ‘68. (Remember The White Album was released only 10 days before the comeback special aired).

The TV special itself is divided into a number of different performances. Running through it is a series of set pieces each one based on chorus of the song “Guitar Man? which tells the “Story of Elvis? from a boy leaving a dead-end town to that boy becoming a star, with stops at whorehouses, seedy nightclubs, and backwoods carnivals along the way. The highlight of the one hour-long special however are the concert performances, one alone (see pic above) surrounded by bouffanted girls as he belts out the hits and another with his old band reliving old times and old songs as if they were back on the porch at Graceland.

Those performances were so compelling, so antithetical to the Elvis of the last 8 years that they became legend and the source of the “comeback? in the comeback special. As Charles Taylor describes it in his excellent review of the special “What those audiences witnessed was the moneylenders being thrown out of the temple. The memory of "Do the Clam" or "Rock-a-Hula Baby," of "Double Trouble" or "Harum Scarum" was trashed. Elvis, acting as his own blade runner, retired the glazed replicant Elvis who had stood in for him for most of the preceding eight years.? In fact, Elvis became so wrapped up in the songs that there is reporting that he… ahem… brought new meaning to the word “climax? as he finished his performance.

The Special fittingly ends with Elvis singing If I Can Dream, (see video below) a message song that was an emphatic end to an ugly year and a performance that Elvis completely takes over. With the song building toward the finale, the camera switching back and forth from Elvis in white and Elvis in black leather, his swinging arm ardently sweeping away the dreck that was all around us and his career, Elvis clears a path for a new and brighter day.

After the Special, Elvis would go on to record From Elvis in Memphis, one of his greatest albums, the sessions from which such hits as Suspicious Minds, Kentucky Rain, and In The Ghetto were recorded. Unfortunately we know the story from there. Elvis couldn’t keep the comeback alive, he became bloated both physically and musically and once again became more like a joke than the king of rock and roll. But for one night forty years ago, the promise that was Elvis was alive and shone like a beacon.


November 25, 2008

More New Music


Last month I wrote about the fact that I hadn’t listened to a lot of new music in 2008 and went out and took on new releases from bands that hadn’t paid much attention to. Results of that little experiment can be found here, here, here, and here.

For some reason that exercise rattled me from my new music lethargy and I’ve taken on some other new(ish) releases. This is what I found.

Weezer – The Red Album. Although many Weezer fans hated Make Believe, I thought it was great and wrote about it last year here. The once again self-titled album (clad in red) harkens back more toward the Blue and Green albums and turns its back on the route found on Make Believe. To my ears the Red Album is a mixed bag. The good songs are quite strong (Pork and Beans, Troublemaker, Everybody Get Dangerous) while the rest is o.k. It definitely is a Weezer album and if you like Weezer, you’ll be all over this album. A highlight is the Shaker hymn song Simple Gifts. Which is Weezerized to full effect.

Hold Steady – Stay Positive. O.k. I’ll admit I wasn’t a big fan of Boys and Girls in America. I couldn’t just get my head around it. Plus Craig Finn’s talk-sing has irritated me since the Lifter Puller days. I know I am the minority so I was willing to try the Hold Steady again with Stay Positive. In a sentence, it’s much better than BAGIA. Finn’s talk-sing is still prevalent but not as much and it’s still a little irritating but it’s hard to ignore the rock anthemesque quality of this album and the infectious sing-along songs. It’s Bruce Springsteen for the Obama generation. Sequestered in Memphis is the obvious first single and a great song. Constructive Summer and Lord I’m Discouraged are other highlights (although the later can be a little overwrought.). Anyway a fine album from a band that obviously loves rock and roll and should be a lot more popular than they are.

Replacements – Remastered Sorry Ma, Stink, Hootenanny, and Let It Be. I’ve written plenty on the Replacements. Check here if interested so I will spare the sentiments of seeing this band from it’s humble beginnings to cult favorites. Having these albums re-mastered is great as the sound quality of the original releases was definitely lacking. The question everyone had was how were the outtakes, b-sides and demos. I would say, just like the band itself, they are a mixed bag.

The Sorry Ma extras are by far the most diverse. From the 4-song demo tape given to Peter Jesperson (the Holy Grail for Replacement fans) which includes Raised in the City, Shutup, Don’t Turn Me Down, and Shape Up one can understand the excitement Jesperson must have felt when he heard this for the first time. Also it’s nice to have If Only You Were Lonely in electronic form. The rest of the outtakes are o.k., nothing special. The Stink extras include Hey Good Lookin.’ Unfortunately it is a lesser version than the one that was a b-side to the I Will Dare single. You’re Getting Married is a classic, too bad it was never fleshed out and released on an album (would have fit nicely on Let It Be). The Hootenanny extras are o.k. Nothing to write home about although Ain’t No Crime is kind of fun. The Let It Be extras includes three covers (20th Century Boy, Temptation Eyes, and Heartbeat, It’s a Love Beat) which were heard a lot in concert at the time Let it Be was released. An alternative version of 16 Blue with some changed lyrics is interesting but not as good as the released version.

Overall some fun songs but typical of outtakes and demos. There was a reason they weren’t released. I still hope to get the Tim remastered as well, although those extras look more like alternative takes and not songs that were never released.

Finally I’ve been all over The Wedding Present. I picked up Bizarro, Seamonsters, and Hit Parade (singles compilation). This band is awesome. I can’t believe it took me until the later half of 2008 to discover them. Bizarro has to be one of the greatest albums ever and definitely would have easily fit into my favorite 30 albums of all time. Finally I picked up an Ike Reilly album (Junkie Faithful) that is really good. I may try to find more of his stuff too.

So there you go, lots of new music, at least for me. What are you listening to? Anything worth checking out?

November 21, 2008

Friday Random Top 10

I finally got the Replacements remasters of their first four albums with all the demos and unreleased material. Hopefully some sort of review next week but I am excited. Let's celebrate with a Friday Random Top 10:

1. Gun Shy -- Paul Westerberg
2. Unlovable -- The Smiths
3. Moral Kiosk -- R.E.M.
4. Delilah -- Tom Jones
5. Through These Eyes -- Social Distortion
6. This Time -- Gear Daddies
7. High Plains Drifter -- Beastie Boys
8. The Levee's Gonna Break -- Bob Dylan
9. Films -- Gary Numan
10. I Can See For Miles -- The Who

Nice list. Not a bad song in the bunch. Very manly list too. What's your top 10?

November 14, 2008

Friday Random Top 10

The Hold Steady and Drive by Truckers are here for two nights and I don’t have tickets. I thought when Obama was elected President everything was going to change for the better? Oh well, I guess we need a Friday Random Top 10 to soothe the pain.

1. The Golden Age – Beck
2. Curtain Calls – Old 97’s
3. Born to Lose – The Heartbreakers
4. Fallen from the Sky – Glen Hansard
5. Wishing the Days Away – Billy Bragg
6. Trying Your Luck – The Strokes
7. For the Price of a Cup of Tea – Belle and Sebastian
8. As Long as the Grass shall Grow – Johnny Cash
9. A Spoonful Weighs a Ton – The Flaming Lips
10. Tourette’s – Nirvana

Nice list for a cold and gloomy fall day. What’s your top 10?

November 7, 2008

Friday Random Top 10

We want the jug!!! To motivate those Golden Gophers here's a Random Top 10:

1. I Got Plenty O' Nuttin' -- Louis Armstrong
2. Brown Eyed Handsome Man -- Johnny Cash
3. House We Used to Live In -- The Smithereens
4. If I Give My Soul -- Johnny Cash
5. Deathly -- Aimee Mann
6. I Dig Rock and Roll Music -- Peter, Paul, & Mary
7. I'd Rather be Thin Than Famous -- Jack Kerouac
8. Cold Brains -- Beck
9. Mystery Dance -- Elvis Costello
10. Funk Soul Brother -- Fatboy Slim

I always thought that if you had to state in a song that you dig rock and roll music, that then you really didn't dig rock and roll music. What's your top ten?

November 5, 2008

It Looks Like Things are Going to Change Now


Bob Dylan’s first concert on the U of MN campus since the early 60s. The promised election of Barack Obama. Both exciting, historic events. What happens when they occur on the same night? I was one of the lucky 4,800 people who got to find out if it would work, to see and take it all in.

Bob doesn’t talk much, in fact he didn’t say a word until introducing the band before the last song, but his song selection spoke volumes: The second song, The Times they are a Changing left barely a dry eye in the place. A very aggressive interpretation of Masters of War and a strong rendition of the stridently anti-war John Brown made it very clear that the protest songs of the early 60s are very relevant today. The last song was a rousing Blowin’ in the Wind.

The crowd was very aware of the special night too. Like I said, “Times? was very emotional, the line “there was revolution in the air? from Tangled Up in Blue got a huge response, as did the line Sometimes a President has to stand naked. Plus cell phones, blackberrys and I-phones were constantly being opened to look for election updates. Clearly revolution was in the air.

Bob was in rare form too. A couple of times he took center stage during a harmonica solo, sometimes with a dance step or two. The band was extremely tight and they just rocked during Summer Days and Thunder on the Mountain. I’ve been to a number of Dylan concerts and this by far was the rockingest, jammiest show I’ve ever experienced. The band was truly inspired.

Unfortunately Bob’s voice wasn’t able to rise to the moment. At times incomprehensible, Dylan’s voice was raspy, hoarse and not very strong. If you didn’t know the lyrics, you were hard pressed to even know what song was even being performed until you heard the chorus.

In the end, that didn’t matter. Bob even opened up at the end of the show. After introducing his band, Dylan stated that he was born in 1941. “That was the year they bombed Pearl Harbor. I've been living in darkness ever since. It looks like things are going to change now." The band then kicked into Blowin’ in the Wind.

As we were leaving the show it was announced that Obama won and in the lobby a big screen showed the results. People went crazy and as the lobby filled, additional people were added to the craziness. The party spilled out to the Northrop Mall where an impromptu rave was ramping up. People were singing Dylan songs, dancing filled the streets, and strangers hugging each other was the norm. Shouts of “Yes We Did? filled the air and for the first time in years the promise that Bob Dylan held out in his songs and career, seemed like it was in reach.

Here’s the song list:

Cat's in the Well
The Times They Are A-Changin'
Summer Days
This Wheel's on Fire
Tangled Up in Blue
Masters of War
Stuck Inside of Mobile With the Memphis Blues Again
John Brown
Beyond the Horizon
Highway 61 Revisited
Shooting Star (with Dylan on guitar -- another rarity)
It's All Right Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)
Under the Red Sky
Thunder on the Mountain
Ain't Talkin'
Encore:
Like a Rolling Stone
Blowin' in the Wind

October 31, 2008

Friday Random Top 10

So what was your favorite World Series moment? Man I probably had the least interest in a World Series ever. Looks like we need a Friday Randome Top 10:

1. This Land is Your Land -- Woody Guthrie
2. Don't Dictate -- The Penetration
3. California Dreamin' -- The Mama's and Papa's
4. Heart Songs -- Weezer
5. Chloroform -- Jack Logan
6. Opportunity (live) -- Elvis Costello
7. Mystery -- Kelly Hogan and the Pine Valley Cosmonauts
8. Divide and Conquer -- Husker Du
9. Opportunity -- Elvis
10. Judy is a Punk -- Ramones

First time ever the same song by the same artist in the same top ten (although one is a live version). A fine list too. What's your top ten?

October 29, 2008

Bob Dylan Week

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While everyone is focused on the election, it’s unofficially Bob Dylan week here in Minneapolis and the University of Minnesota. Tonight the festivities kick-off with an hour long discussion at Nicholson Hall by Dylan biographer and pop culture critic Greil Marcus and Director Todd Haynes who wrote and directed the very interesting Dylan film I’m Not There. I’m not sure exactly what the topic is going to be but it promises to be interesting and I will be there with a certain review tomorrow.

Saturday night events move to the Walker Art Museum where Haynes’ film I’m Not There will screen. Again Marcus and Haynes will be there -- this time to specifically discuss the film. I’m hoping to go, but who knows what the boss has planned for Saturday night. I saw I’m Not There when it came out and really enjoyed it, although it was oblique at times. In this article even Greil Marcus admits it takes a few viewings to enjoy fully so I am hoping to see the movie again, hear the discussion, and gain more insight into the movie.

Next Tuesday, election day, is the highlight. Bob Dylan will be performing at the Northrop Auditorium, his first concert ever at the University of Minnesota. As everyone knows, Bobby Zimmerman “attended? the U of MN in the early 60’s and lived only a few blocks from Northrop. Couple this homecoming with the fact that it’s election night (and an apparent Barack Obama victory that night) and it looks like a very poignant and memorable night. I’ve been checking the set lists for the Dylan shows on this tour and looks like he’s picking classic songs from all aspects of his career. I haven’t seen any reviews, but if the set list offers any clues, it looks like a not-to-miss show.

I have 18 row dead center seats and am very excited about the show. Here’s the deal to my vast readership. I also have 4 additional seats in Row 30 and am willing to sell them. They are $86.00 seats and I have them on Craigslist and Stub Hub for $200. However by this weekend if I don’t get any takers, I am willing to sell them to friends for face value. Send me a note if interested. Jeff T. and Jeff L., I know both of you are Dylan fans. Any interest in going?

Come back to these pages for my review of the Marcus-Haynes events and next week the show.

October 24, 2008

Friday Random Top 10

Ten days before the election and the knives and clubs are coming out. I can’t wait until after the election and read about all the recriminations, backstabbing, settled scores, etc that will come out the stinking mass of wreckage call the John McCain Presidential Campaign. Let’s celebrate with a Friday Top Ten:

1. I Can’t Stop Loving You – Ray Charles
2. Homesick – Soul Asylum
3. There Ain’t no Bugs on Me – Jerry Garcia and David Grishman
4. We Walk – The Ting Tings
5. New Rose – The Damned
6. Bulldog Skin – Guided By Voices
7. Inspection Wise 1999 – The Hives
8. Carry that Weight – The Beatles
9. Even the Losers – Tom Petty
10. Think About Yourself – Golden Smog

That Ray Charles Song is from the album Modern Songs in Country and Western Music which holds up as a pretty damn good album some 45 plus years after it was recorded. The fact that a black dude could pull it off in the early 60’s – a time when he was considered a second class citizen in many parts of the south – speaks volumes about Ray Charles’ talent. So what’s your top 10?

October 21, 2008

The Wedding Present -- El Rey

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A couple of weeks ago
I described the fact that I hadn’t listened to a lot of new music lately and decided to do something about it by purchasing four recent releases by newer bands and give them multiple listens and then review them here on this blog. Besides exposing myself to newer music, the hope was to find a new favorite band -- or at least a band to get excited about. My first review was of The Walkmen's You & Me which I found lacking to say the least. Second up was We Started Nothing by the Ting Tings, which was better than the Walkmen, had a couple of great songs, but in the end it was clear that the Ting Tings were not going to my next favorite band. I thought that The Kings of Leon’s album Only by the Night was good, not great and ultimately unsatisfying. That leaves me with The Wedding Present and El Rey. An I am happy to say that the long wait was worth it, I found a new band to get excited about.

The Wedding Present is interesting in that it is kind of a new band that’s been around for a long time. In fact, The Wedding Present first came about in the late 1980’s and had a critically acclaimed album, Seamonsters, in 1991 (recorded in Minnesota!). The band broke up and singer/songwriter David Gedge and girlfriend/bandmember Sally Murrell formed the band Cinerama, releasing a number of albums in the 90’s and 2000’s. The Wedding Present was somewhat kept alive by the release of singles, Peel Session recordings and by the cultish fans. Finally, in 2005 Gedge formed a band under the Wedding Present name and released El Rey earlier this year.

El Rey is an album that I loved from the first listen. Swirling, chugging guitars, funny lyrics with definite influences coming from Yo La Tengo. And contrast to let’s say The Walkmen, the songs are infectious and fun to listen to. I can’t stress the later point enough. The lyrics aren’t listed on the CD, which in many cases I wouldn’t care, but the songs were so engaging I searched for the lyrics so that get a better sense of the songs.

Relationships between the sexes dominate El Rey as the singer is constantly faced with appealing women who make him question the current relationship he is in. In fact the first three songs seem to be one story about a guy who falls for a women even though he is in a relationship with another and the resulting fallout. In the first song, Santa Ana Winds, the chorus goes: “When she says: “I’m handing myself to you entirely, completely? Before asking, sweetly: “And are you falling for me too?? And that’s when I pretend that I don’t have a girlfriend.? This is followed up in the next song Spiderman on Hollywood where it’s obvious he’s had to face the music with his old girlfriend and comes up with this great line: “And that’s what’s so funny, honey. You’ve looked like my girl for so long that I thought you would always be beside me. But I’d be the first to admit I was wrong.? Finally in I Lost the Monkey, it all comes crashing apart: “Because I just want you back This has all been a mistake; I didn’t know what was at stake I was playing some kind of senseless game.? A few songs later in Trouble with Men, the singer may be a few years older but still has problems with choosing between women:

Don’t say: “Hello? You’re far too gorgeous for me and I know that if I talk to you then I’ll raise my hopes up again And I will spend all weekend wondering if you could be my girlfriend Instead of loving my wife and getting on with my life

The album is full of songs and lyrics like that and is a hoot to listen to. Probably my favorite song is Don’t Take Me Home Until I am Drunk in which the singer is on a perfect date and then blurts out they he’s falling in love. She replies that she likes him too and then texts(!) him the next day saying she’s getting back with her fiancé. Ouch! What is really cool about this song is that the guitar solo after that little scene is a frantic frenzy of slashing power chords. It really represents what someone would be feeling at this moment: anger, embarrassment, sadness all rolled up in jangly mess.

I could go but you get the picture. El Rey is a fantastic album of catchy songs, fuzzy guitars, and solid rhythm. I think I found a new favorite band.

October 17, 2008

Kings of Leon -- Only by the Night

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A little over a week ago I described the fact that I hadn’t listened to a lot of new music lately and decided to do something about it by purchasing four recent releases by newer bands and give them multiple listens and then review them here on this blog. Besides exposing myself to newer music, the hope was to find a new favorite band -- or at least a band to get excited about. My first review was of The Walkmen's You & Me which I found lacking to say the least. Second up was We Started Nothing by the Ting Tings, which was better than the Walkmen, had a couple of great songs, but in the end it was clear that the Ting Tings were not going to my next favorite band.

Next up is Kings of Leon and their new album Only by the Night. When their new album came out this fall there was a lot of indie chatter about this band. Their previous albums were definitely in the buzz bin and great things were expected. The single Sex on Fire was burning up the “alternative? and “college radio? charts and in heavy rotation on some stations. However, doing some research on the album, I found that the album has been a big disappointment to old fans. A reaction I both understand and think is a little too critical.

First, this album is good but it isn’t great. KOL has spent that last year in bigger arenas (sometimes supporting U2) and it shows. This album has that “big? sound that could easily fit a 18,000 seat arena and the second song, Crawl, sounds like it could be an outtake from Actung Baby. Caleb Followill’s voice is a kind of craggy moan that could easily be classified as Eddie Veddar-esque. With Only by the Night KOL has honed it’s rock bona-fides.

Read the reviews (like here and here), and the reaction is that Only by the Night isn’t as good as previous efforts and that it loses a lot of steam over the last half of the album. I for one didn’t think the album generated a lot of steam for it to lose and actually liked the last few songs better than beginning. Be Somebody and Cold Desert are actually catchy tunes and I found myself humming the refrains after listening to the album. Neither are huge rockers and maybe not classic outro songs, but decent nonetheless.

In the end Only by the Night is a bit of a let down. It’s decent but I found myself wanting to rock out more than it allowed. There’s some cool ideas musically going on however, and I may want to check out some of their earlier albums to see what all the fuss was about. I may come back to the album from time to time but it probably won’t be on heavy rotation. As I said above a good but not great album. What do you think of Kings of Leon? Is Only by the Night a good album or a disappointment?

Friday Random Top 10

I saw John McCain last night on David Letterman and man he sometimes just comes across as kind of a dick. Say what you want about Obama’s experience or Sarah Palin’s stupidity… I am not sure that John McCain would wear well with the American Public over four years. Here’s your Friday Random Top 10:

1. You Are My Sunshine – Johnny Cash
2. Moulty – The Barbarians
3. Days – The Kinks
4. Full Moon, Empty Heart – Belly
5. Sweet Dreams – Patsy Cline
6. Ball and Chain – Janis Joplin
7. Oddfellows Local 151 – R.E.M.
8. Plains of Nebrasky-O – Eric Anderson
9. Donut Shops of Ontario – Washboard Hank
10. If I Told You – Husker Du

Sometimes the Friday Random Top 10s are just gems: I wish I could give the list to everyone so that they could hear what real good music sounds like and radio stations all around the country would take that list and play it on an endless loop. The above is definitely not one of those examples. What’s your top 10?

October 13, 2008

The Ting Tings -- We Started Nothing

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Last Monday I described the fact that I hadn’t listened to a lot of new music lately and decided to do something about it by purchasing four recent releases by newer bands and give them multiple listens and then review them here on this blog. Besides exposing myself to newer music, the hope was to find a new favorite band -- or at least a band to get excited about. My first review was of The Walkmen's You & Me which I found lacking to say the least.

Next up is The Ting Tings and their album, We Started Nothing. To be honest this was the one album of the four I was the most worried about. I love the two songs Great DJ and That's Not My Name but was worried that the rest of the album wouldn't come close to these two songs. I had to include this album because of those two songs, thinking it wasn't fair to ignore them. I am happy to say that while it isn't my favorite album in the world, it's not bad either.

Great DJ and That's Not My Name are pretty representative of the entire album and it's full of electo-beats, infectious riffs, and catchy lyrics. I am sure the album is a smash on the Euro-dance floors and you can take that as damning by faint praise. I definitely heard a little bit of the Yea Yea Yeas in the album especially the title song.

In the end, at age 45 electro dance beats, while fun to listen to every once in a while just isn't my cup of tea, and while I think I'll come back to the first two songs, the rest of the album will fall into that rare listen category. All in all a fun but ultimately insubstantial album will probably be mostly forgotten in a couple of years.

Have you heard We Started Nothing? What did you think?

October 10, 2008

Friday Random Top 10

This weekend I am making two pizzas with all locally grown ingredients including the sauce and crust from scratch. I’ve got the tomatoes, onions, cheese, mushrooms, peppers, flour, sausage, and spices all gathered. Friends are bringing a salad collected from their garden and we will have local beer and vodka, and hopefully a regional wine. Should be a fun time and what better way to celebrate than with a Friday Random Top 10:

1. Black – Pearl Jam
2. Motor City is Burning – MC5
3. Wart Hog – The Ramones
4. Blue Monk – Art Blakely
5. Goodbye Babe – The Castaways
6. Do You Think It’s Alright? – The Who
7. She Walks on Me – Hole
8. Birds You Cannot See – The Handsome Family
9. Unleased! The Largeheaded Boy – Guided By Voices
10. Stay Away From Heaven – Yo La Tengo

That Guided By Voices song reminds me that Robert Pollard was in town on Tuesday and I missed it. Dang! Anyway a cool list. Kind of a music snob’s wet dream: obscure faves like Yo La Tengo and GBV, ironic non-hits from Pearl Jam and Hole, jazz and garage rock classics, and the Ramones. What’s your top 10?

October 9, 2008

The Walkmen -- You & Me

walkmen.jpg

On Monday I described the fact that I hadn’t listened to a lot of new music lately and decided to do something about it by purchasing four recent releases by newer bands and give them multiple listens and then review them here on this blog. Besides exposing myself to newer music, the hope was to find a new favorite band -- or at least a band to get excited about. Unfortunately The Walkmen and their album You & Me will not be that band.

It’s hard to describe how much I hated this album. Hate may seem like a strong word but this was one of the four bands I wanted to check out, invest money and time in, and talk about on this blog. For their album to come up so lame, so unlistenable, so… bleh, makes me mad I wasted the opportunity on such a snooze of an effort. I truly don’t want to listen to this album ever again.

Reading reviews of the album one comes across the word “atmospheric.? And I get it. I guess I would describe the album that way too in that the music is somewhat slower and dream-like. When someone describes an album as atmospheric they usually mean it’s somewhat languid with no sense of urgency. Which is fine, not all music has to get you up and want to move. But if something is atmospheric it should sweep you away, bring you up into the atmosphere. You & Me does not do this. I found the music boring, with no hooks or melodies that got me humming or dreaming, or, to be frank, to really care. I found this album worse than The Shin’s Wincing the Night Away which is another album that I just can’t listen to.

So in my opinion, stay away from the Walkmen’s You & Me. It’s a lousy, lazy effort that’s not worth the disc space on your I-pod or chance that it comes up during a Friday Random Top 10. (Hey Jeff T., does your neighbor have this CD yet? If not he can have mine).

Have you heard You & Me? What did you think?


October 6, 2008

The Great 2008 New Music Listen-Off

Regular readers of this blog may have noticed that I haven’t written much about music lately. To be quite honest, there hasn’t been a lot of new music that’s excited me and I’ve mostly been filling in with some older stuff and listening to the old tried and true. Besides listening to My Morning Jacket, which is pretty derivative of 70’s rock, I really haven’t heard anything new since last year’s Klaxons album and Radiohead’s In Rainbows. I’ve even ignored new albums by established acts that I’ve liked in the past like Beck and Weezer.

Part of it has to do with age and priorities. It’s hard to check out new music when you have job, family, financial obligation that just seem more important. Part of it has to do with the fact that the music industry is in a doldrums and isn’t really producing a lot that is new and exciting lately. It’s hard to get excited about bands that sound just like Death Cab For Cutie or have one decent song and 15 bad ones. So recently it’s just plain easier to listen to the old standbys, the stuff I’ve always liked and there's only so much you can say about an album you've heard multiple times before.

Well over the past week I decided to do something about my musical doldrums and decided to purchase four CD’s from four relatively new bands. The CD’s are all 2008 releases and I chose them based on a song or two I heard on the radio and by a cursory check on youtube.com. My plan is to give all four CD’s multiple listens, review them here over the next week or so, and then choose a favorite new band. The four bands and albums are as follows:

Kings of Leon – Only by the Night
The Ting Tings – We Started Nothing
The Walkman – You & Me
The Wedding Present – El Rey

I’ve started to listen to these bands over the weekend and have some initial thoughts that I will keep to myself. I promise to give each band a fair shake and give them multiple listens because I know my opinion changes with each listen. So come back to find out what I discovered it should be an interesting experiment.

What about you? What new releases are you listening to? What’s your opinion of the bands I have selected?

October 5, 2008

Weezer Concert 10/3/08

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Has there ever been a band where its fans lived and died on the singer/songwriter’s psyche as much as Rivers Cuomo and Weezer? I am happy to announce that Rivers seems to be happy and accepting of his status of a rock god. Weezer played at the Xcel Energy Center on Friday and it was a blast. From the opening song of My Name is Jonas, the band was out to prove it wanted to have a good time and for the next two hours we were treated to red weezer track suits, soccer balls, trampolines, rock god posing, good natured rock banter and fun time rock and roll. Throw in a 40-piece “orchestra? of radio contest winners playing everything thing from guitars to bongos to trombones to a washboard and you have a fun time with Weezer. Rivers Cuomo was the ring leader but he shared the stage with his bandmates and at least half the songs were sung by someone other than Rivers. Highlights: The opening of My Name is Jonas, Pink Triangle, and Perfect Situation; Lowlights: Only two songs from Make Believe.

A fun show from a truly great band. Hopefully we see more of them in the future. Here’s the set list:

My Name Is Jonas
Pink Triangle
Perfect Situation
Say It Ain’t So
Susanne
Keep Fishin’
King
Undone
Pork and Beans
Dreamin’
Dope Nose
Trouble maker
Automatic
Hash Pipe
El Scorcho
What’s the Story Morning Glory
Greatest Man That Ever Lived
ENCORE
Island in the Sun (with Orchestra)
Beverly Hills (with Orchestra)
Sliver
Buddy Holly

October 3, 2008

Friday Random Top 10

Well Just as I predicted on Tuesday, Sarah Palin did fine in the debate, but the big story is that Joe Biden rocked! Now the Cubs are on the verge of another disappointment in the playoffs and the Brewers somehow forgot to bring their bats to Philly. Maybe both teams need a Friday Top 10 to get them out of the doldrums.

1. Turnaround -- Nirvana
2. Baby It's Cold Outside -- Ray Charles
3. Time After Time -- REM
4. It's Up to You -- The Jayhawks
5. Easy Wind -- The Grateful Dead
6. Sieve-Fisted Find -- Fugazi
7. The King Who Wouldn't Smile -- The Handsome Family
8. Rock & Roll -- Velvet Underground
9. Once is Enough -- Wire
10. Fair Touching -- Guided By Voices

Another nice list, I wonder if Kat Dennings would think I was her soul mate if she heard this list? Weezer tonight, look for a weekend review. What's your top 10?

September 26, 2008

Friday Random Top 10

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Wow, was that a fun game or what? Game of the year. Three more games against the sucky Royals, keep the pedal to the metal. Here's your random top 10:

1. Heavy Rotation -- Soul Asylum
2. Sharky's Dream -- Teenage Fanclub
3. I've Just Seen a Face -- The Beatles
4. Corrina, Corrina -- Bob Dylan
5. Free Radicals -- The Flaming Lips
6. Leavin' Town -- Jack Kerouac
7. All Shook Up -- Elvis Presley
8. 7&7 Is -- Hypstrz
9. Do You Want New Wave or Do You Want the Truth -- The Minutemen
10. Put the Bone In -- Soul Asylum

This week's list is a little different. Double shot of Soul Asylum and bunch of classic rockers, through in some Jack Kerouac and you have a random top 10. What's your top 10?

September 19, 2008

Friday Random Top 10

Want to see where you can sit in the new Target Field and how much it will cost you? Click here for a very cool interactive site that shows all the different pricing levels. More on this next week after I play with it for a little bit. Now here's your Friday Random Top 10:

1. Stretch Out and Wait -- The Smiths
2. Outdone -- Uncle Tupelo
3. Last Roundup -- The Feelies
4. On the Tundra -- Guided By Voices
5. Girl, You'll Be A Woman Soon -- Neil Diamond
6. On the Battlefron -- The dB's
7. Clash City Rockers -- The Clash
8. You're Still On My Mind -- The Byrds
9. You Can't Do That -- The Beatles
10. Big Black Smoke -- The Kinks

Just think if you were stuck in traffic and this list was playing on the radio. It would make you happier wouldn't it? Also you wouldn't change the channel either. What's your top 10?

September 12, 2008

Friday Random Top 10

The White Sox are practically giving the Central Division to the Twins but they refuse to take it. Another long road trip, hopefully this one is more successful. As a send off gift to the Twins, here’s a weekly top 10:

Berkeley Mews – The Kinks
Footsteps – Paul Westerberg
Norwegian Wood – The Beatles
Roamin’ Around – The Super Suckers
Blister in the Sun – The Violent Femmes
Pinball Wizard – The Who
Behind Blue Eyes – The Who
Evonce – Thelonious Monk
Like I Do – Guided By Voices
It’s Not Over Yet – Klaxons

Nice little mix with half the songs 40 years old or so. None are a particular favorite nor do I dislike any of them. Pretty benign basically. What’s your top 10?

September 5, 2008

Friday Random Top 10

We survived the RNC and Hurricane Palin! Over 800 people arrested, a police force that would make any dictatorship smile, and some cool music were some of things that happened here but were not really reported nationally. Click here and here for some fun reviews. I wish I had gone to that Mad Ripple Hootenany. It was only a couple of miles from my home. Here’s your Friday Top 10:

1. Train Train – Billy Bragg
2. Paper Tiger – Beck
3. Mansion on the Hill – Bruce Springsteen
4. Rock Hard – Alex Chilton
5. Dust Pneumonia Blues – Woody Guthrie
6. She Ain’t Got the Beat – The Blasters
7. I’ll Never Leave Home Again – Tom Jones
8. Pyramid – Wolfmother
9. Look What You’ve Done for Me – Al Green
10. Leap Frog – Charlie Parker and Dizzie Gillespie

Wow, 7 of the songs are from solo artists and that Bird and Diz song is one of my shortest at 15 seconds. What’s your top 10.

August 29, 2008

Friday Random Top 10

It’s been welcome week here at the University with lots a kids and their parents in and around campus. The kids have that combination deer-in-the-headlights/I am so excited look while the parents look a little shellshocked, especially as they come out of the bookstore having dumped $300 on books. Speaking of shellshocked, John McCain that nasty headache you have, that’s because Obama took a 2x4, aimed it squarely at your nose and swung.

Here’s your Friday top 10:

1. To Be Myself – Belle and Sebastian
2. Hole in the Ground – Thom Parrott
3. Blue Moon of Kentucky – Elvis Presley
4. Changes – David Bowie
5. Having a Blast – Green Day
6. Ballad of the Green Berets – Hypstrz
7. Summersong – The Decemberists
8. I Shall Be Free #10 – Bob Dylan
9. Wild Flower – The Cult
10. Cold, Cold, Cold – The Handsome Family

Another decent list. What’s your top 10?

August 22, 2008

Friday Random Top 10

Last night at the Harriet Bandshell I saw an Elvis Impersonator. About mid-way through the act Elvis brought out his long lost (blonde) “son" and they did dueling Elvii for a couple of songs. The crowd, mostly people in their late 50s and early 60s, went absolutely nuts. In honor of Elvis and his son, here’s your weekly top 10:

1. Larry – Buffalo Tom
2. Chinese Lorraine – Jack Logan
3. Folks on the Block – The Magnolias
4. Moondance – Van Morrison
5. You Can Never Hold Back Spring – Tom Waits
6. Room a Thousand Years Wide – Soundgarden
7. For All the Cows – Foo Fighters
8. Free Nelson Mandela – Special AKA
9. Who Will the Next Fool Be – Charlie Rich
10. Expectations – Belle & Sebastian

A little stoner rock, a little jazzy folk, a protest song, rockabilly, punk, plus Belle & Sebastian. Not a bad list at all. What’s your top 10?

August 15, 2008

Friday Random Top 10

There’s an article today in the Star Tribune that mentions some of the musicians who will be in town to “entertain? the attendees of the Republican National Convention. The “big? names include Gretchen Wilson, Sammy Hagar, LeAnn Rimes, Big Head Todd, Smashmouth, and Daughtry. Woo boy, gonna have big times in the Twin Towns the first week of September!! Here's your top 10:

1. She Wants to Know – Guided By Voices
2. Candy’s Room – Bruce Springsteen
3. Puff the Magic Dragon – Peter, Paul and Mary
4. Dead – My Chemical Romance
5. I Can’t Explain – The Who
6. Polly – Nirvana
7. Can’t Let Go – Lucinda Williams
8. Legionnaire’s Lament – The Decemberists
9. Arkansas Traveler – Jerry Garcia and David Grisham
10. Geek Stink Breath – Green Day

O.k. That was different. Puff the Magic Dragon has always intrigued me. No it's not about smoking pot. Even though Peter Yarrow says it's about lost innocence, I also think it's about parents letting go of their children. Something that is very real to a parent of two teenagers.

What's your top 10?

August 8, 2008

Friday Random Top 10

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Know what I hate about the Olympics coverage? All those “up close and personal? features. I don’t care if someone grew up in an orphanage in Albania and worked at a TGIF to pay for her archery training. Just show me the dang archery competition. Here’s your weekly top 10:

1. Chinese Rock – The Ramones
2. Space Boy – Smashing Pumpkins
3. To Have and Have Not – Billy Bragg
4. Star of Bethlehem – Neil Young
5. One Step at a Time – Husker Du
6. Climbing Up the Walls – Radiohead
7. People Have the Power – Patti Smith
8. I’m Leaving Now – Johnny Cash
9. Daddy Don’t Cry – Elvis Presley
10. Conduit For Sale – Pavement

Not a bad list. That Ramones song got me thinking about my favorite song about drugs. I would have to say Heroin by The Velvet Underground. Now that is a wild song. What is your top ten?

August 7, 2008

Blogs on Songs

O.k. I just discovered something real cool on the web. There are blogs out there that are solely dedicated to reviewing, commenting, and just plain writing about a band’s musical output song-by-song. These blogs typically chose a song by their favorite band and take 2-4 paragraphs to review it, deconstruct it, and basically reflect on the song, and what it means to them and how it fits in the bands oeuvre. As you can guess, the quality is hit or miss, but interesting nonetheless. Below are some of the song blogs that I have found the most compelling:

Guided By Voices
Radiohead
REM
Wilco
Weezer

I’ve wanted to use this blog to do something like this for a long time. Not necessarily concentrate on a specific band, but to pick a song every so often and then really dig into it. What was the band trying to say here, what does the song do for me. Why do I love it so much. Heck Greil Marcus took a whole book to describe Like a Rolling Stone surely I can write a few paragraphs on a song. (btw, speaking of Griel Marcus, his description of the song Roadrunner in his book Lipstick Traces is pretty amazing, only took a couple of pages and not a whole book.)

Unfortunately something like that takes a lot of time. You have to listen to the song numerous times, do some research on the song to find out what the band and other reviews have said about it, and then come up with something coherent to say. Not something you can blast out at the top of your head (like most of my posts). Anyway I’m going to try to do something like that every so often. The blogs above have given me inspiration. Who knows maybe I can do a whole blog on Replacements songs!?

July 25, 2008

Friday Random Top 10

Which was your favorite John McCain moment this week? Mine was when he was touring the grocery store and a stocker knocked over a display of canned peaches right next him, right in front of the cameras. Talk about your metaphor. With that here's your top 10!

1. 4th Time Around – Bob Dylan
2. Dear Lover – Social Distortion
3. Are You a Hypnotist – Flaming Lips
4. Hesitating Beauty – Billy Bragg and Wilco
5. Dimension – Wolfmother
6. Hooray for Me – Bad Religion
7. Cracklin’ Rosie – Neil Diamond
8. Where There’s Smoke, There’s Fire – Urban Guerrillas
9. I Must Be High – Wilco
10. Broken Home, Broken Heart – Husker Du

I like this list, nothing too obscure but not songs you hear everyday. What’s your Top 10?

July 24, 2008

Monday Music List (Thursday Edition) -- Funeral Songs

What songs would you want played at your funeral? It is an interesting question. You want the songs to be representative of your life and interests. You also want to assure and comfort your survivors. Plus you have to be respectful. Even though it’s “your funeral,? you have to recognize that there will be many sad people there. If I had my druthers, I probably would like to have the Replacement’s Gary’s Got A Boner at my funeral. It’s a fun song, it rocks, and would be good representation of the music I love. It’s also extremely inappropriate for a funeral. Another example is It’s Time For Me To Fly by Reo Speedwagon. It may have some poignant lyrics, but would be way too cheesy for a funeral.

My brother requested that we play MLK by U2 at his funeral. It was a perfect funeral song. It was one of his favorite songs by one of his favorite bands, it set a somber but inspiring mood, and could be enjoyed by young and old, U2 fans and non-fans alike.

Given that criteria, here are the songs I would like to be played at my funeral (btw, I am not dying and don’t intend to invoke this request anytime soon).

Elvis Presley – Amazing Grace. It includes a nod to Elvis, which is important. It’s a religious song and Elvis just nails this rendition. This would be a good song to open the service. Elvis’ Peace in the Valley would be a good alternative. Heck you could just play Elvis’ Ultimate Gospel CD, have Mass and then send everyone to the reception. Now that would be a funeral.

Johnny Cash – Meet Me in Heaven. An absolutely gorgeous song about assuring loved ones that you will be up in heaven waiting for them. This one’s for the family. This could be played after the testimonials. Of course there are a bunch of other Johnny Cash songs I could request as well. I think I would make everyone read my treatise on Cash’s American Recordings series as part of their attendance however. Download file

Bob Dylan – Forever Young. I know this one is a little clichéd but it gives a little hope to the survivors. If you want to get high-tech, you could play this as a powerpoint with a bunch of pictures from my life showing on the screen. This would be played at the end of the service on the way out the door.

Of course there are many, many other songs that I would like to be played and would be appropriate. However, I have a theory – not fully formed – that Elvis, Johnny Cash, and Bob Dylan are the Father, Son and Holy Ghost of popular music. Playing these three songs would be a nod to the premise. Who knows, maybe by the time I need to invoke these songs at a funeral, I will have figured it all out and those who have read/heard my theory with will get the acknowledgment.

What songs do you want played at your funeral?


July 18, 2008

Friday Random Top 10

You know that image on the Minnesota State Quarter? The placid lake surrounded by majestic pines with a Loon in the middle? That’s where I was the last three days. 15 minute canoe paddle to the site, sitting around the fire telling bawdy stories, swatting mosquitoes and horseflies, and retiring to a tent and a cozy sleeping bag. Now back to the grind and only 9 days to NYC. Anyway, here’s your Friday top 10!

1. I’ll Cry Instead – The Beatles
2. Man Out of Time – Elvis Costello
3. Mother – Christina Aguilera
4. About You – Teenage Fanclub
5. I’ll Go Crazy – James Brown
6. Straight Time – Bruce Springsteen
7. Teenage FBI – Guided By Voices
8. God’s Children – The Kinks
9. If I Could – Simon and Garfunkel
10. Red Rain – The White Stripes.

Over 7,000 songs on my I-pod and the one Christina Aguilera song pops up. What are the odds? (actually 1 in 7,023). Don’t worry it’s from the John Lennon tribute/Darfur album. Other than that a nice little list. A broad scope of music. What’s your top 10?

P.S. Anyone see the VH1 Rock Honors of the Who last night? The Flaming Lips played a medley from Tommy that just kicked ass!

July 14, 2008

Monday Music List -- Rock and Roll Movies

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Music has been a mainstay of movies since the first talkie: The Jazz Singer. Although there have been a lot of poor movies about Rock and Roll (Streets of Fire) and some just plain weird movies (Magical Mystery Tour), there actually has been a number of very good rock movies both fictional and documentaries. Here some of the best:

Almost Famous (2000). One of my favorite movies. Much of the early film was shot on location in San Diego where Cameron Crowe lived this story. When the Cameron Crowe character finally gets in back stage and Yes is playing on the soundtrack gets me everytime. I’ve watched this movie 15 times and could easily watch 15 more.

Rock and Roll High School
(1979). Goofy fun but the Ramones steal the show. The first scene with the Ramones is classic.

Filth and the Fury (2000). Documentary about the Sex Pistols that is both very well made and extremely interesting. The emotion in Johnny Rotten’s voice when talking about the death of Sid Vicious (“he was one of the Johns?) is palpable.

School of Rock (2003). Wears its love for Rock and Roll on it’s sleeve. The montage with the Jack Black character teaching about the history of rock and The Ramones playing in the background is fantastic.

Dont Look Back (1967). The classic documentary about Dylan in England following his “going electric? at Newport. This is Dylan unfiltered and a critical point in his career. My favorite scene is with Donovan in a hotel room. Donovan sings this song with some flowery Elizabethan lyrics sung to a Dylan tune. Dylan counters with a new song: It’s all over now baby blue and right there you know Donovan will never be “the new Dylan.?

Decline of Western Civilization (1981). Documentary about the L.A. Punks of the early 80’s including X, Fear, Black Flag. Hard to find these days but a perfect document of an important musical scene.

24 Hour Party People (2002). Fun, semi-accurate account of the Manchester scene as seen through the eyes of Tony Wilson. The scenes with Joy Division are fantastic.

I know there are a lot more out there. What have I missed?

July 11, 2008

Friday Random Top Ten

It's hot and muggy and I get to paint this weekend. Oh boy!

1. I've Just Seen A Face -- Jim Sturges
2. So Much Love - Dusty Springfield
3. It is Divine - Guided By Voices
4. I Want to Hold Your Hand - T.V. Caprio
5. I Like Gumby - Jonathan Richman
6. Promise - Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
7. Sons and Daughters - The Decemberists
8. I Fall to Pieces - Patsy Cline
9. Unsatisfied - The Replacements
10. Just the Other Side of Nowhere - Johnny Cash.

A little refelctive in today's list plus add a couple from the Across the Universe soundtrack and you have a so-so list. What's your top 10?

July 7, 2008

Monday Music List - Reunion Shows I will not be attending

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Normally I stay away from and generally loathe reunion tours. But I do get the attraction. Bands love them because they get to re-live their glory years and make some nice coin, sometimes more than when they originally were recording and touring. Who knows, with enough Viagra they might even score a groupie or two along the way. Fans like the tours because they can relive their youth or those who were either not old enough or cool enough to see a band the first time around get to see and hear what the fuss was all about.

I guess I don’t need to experience things that I wasn’t part of. I don’t lament the fact that I never saw the Beatles or the Stones or Elvis live on stage just like I don’t mind that I didn’t experience V-E day or the golden spike for the trans-continental railway. Those events happened before my time and I’ve got to experience a lot myself like KISS’ Destroyer tour or Paul Westerberg singing Unsatisfied for the first time in public.

Having laid that out, here are five real and imagined rock and roll reunions I want no part of :

1. Nirvana featuring Courtney Love or Frances Bean Love. This would just be plain creepy. Also since Courtney Love is known to hate the other two guys in Nirvana, it would be obvious that they were in it solely for the money. A show like this would be my worst nightmare.

2. Public Enemy. Flavor Flav is just a clown now and they would probably film the whole thing for his next “reality show.? Plus given the fact that we are on the edge of electing a black president, some P.E.’s political songs have lost their punch.

3. Boston/Journey/Styx/Foreigner.
I know variations of this line-up has toured or is touring to this day and it just makes me sick. I hated these bands over 25 years ago why wouldn’t they be even worse now that each band member has 60 extra pounds, less hair (which wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing) and slower movements? If someone told me in 1983 that 25 years from now we would still be hearing Journey in public I probably would have rented room from Ted Kacszinsky.

4. The Who/Rolling Stones.
O.k. not officially a reunion as these bands have really never broken up and they even tour every couple of years but come on. Going through the motions so that you can sell $50 t-shirts and give someone the opportunity to see a band with their kid and grandkid is no reason to tour. Both bands’ legacies have been severely tarnished with their unwillingness to just stop and retire to the villa on St. Moritz. People need to realize that watching these bands from the 37th row of a dome stadium in 2008 is not the same as seeing them in a nightclub in 1968.

5. The Replacements. Loved the Mats. Saw them 50 times at least, both the good and bad shows during their hay day. But those last two albums were really bad and you can’t recreate drunken brilliance 25 years later. It’s just not possible.

So what about you? Any reunion shows you’ll be avoiding like the plague?

July 3, 2008

Come And Feel The Feelies

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Back in April I wrote that the Feelies had decided to get back together and were scheduled to play at Battery Park with Sonic Youth. That day has finally arrived and I lament the fact that I couldn’t find a way to abandon the family for the holiday and get myself to NYC to see the concert scheduled for July 4th.

As a warm up for the big July 4th event, The Feelies played a couple of shows at Maxwell’s in Hoboken, New Jersey and the reviews with pics and/or video can be found here and here. Also here is a blog by drummer (and Yung Wu vocalist) Dave Weckman’s percussionist Stan Demeski's 18 year old daughter. Of course a comeback wouldn’t be complete without the obligatory New York Times article. Which can be found here. The upcoming nostalgia tour hasn’t been confirmed, but definitely hinted at.

So why does it matter? The Feelies were never that big of an act; (sadly) none of their albums are going to rank high on any best of the 80’s list: they don’t have a signature, recognizable song that if you hummed a few bars, someone would say “oh that band, yea they were kinda cool, whatever happened to them?? It was basically music embraced by a relatively narrow slice of music hipsters who could enjoy a little hypnotic guitar work to complement their Husker Du, Pogues, and Minutemen.

Of course part of the appeal is nostalgia. Listening to The Feelies brings back those simpler days when curing hangovers and juggling girlfriends reigned supreme whereas today concerns about mortgage payments, high cholesterol, and work deadlines seem to take over. But I think it’s more than that. There’s something about the permanence of music. It’s always there, it doesn’t change and sure it can bring you back to your care free days but it also evokes emotions that lie within you, that need to be expressed somehow, regardless of whether gasoline is over $4.00 a gallon and the trim on your house needs to be scraped and repainted.

That, in a nutshell, is what’s important about the Feelies getting back together. The fact that those shimmering guitars can still swirl around you and bring you someplace else even though your life is completely different in 2008 than in 1988 proves that you are still alive, you still care, you really aren’t just going through the motions waiting for it all to end but that you have deeply felt moods, senses, emotions and that they aren’t gone, they just need to be felt.

June 27, 2008

Friday Random Top 10

Torii and Johan who? Twins rocking the National League, bring on the Brewers!!!!! Back after a 1 week a Friday Random Top 10 hiatus. Hope you missed me. Here’s your top 10:

1. To be Someone – The Jam
2. Are You Lonesome Tonight – Elvis Presley
3. September Morn’ – Neil Diamond
4. Southern Rock Opera – The Drive By Truckers
5. Afraid of Being Wrong – Husker Du
6. Aginst Th’ Law – Billy Bragg and Wilco
7. Send a Picture of Mother – Johnny Cash
8. Carnival of Sorts – R.E.M.
9. Chasing Heather Crazy – Guided By Voices
10. Aphrodisiac Jacket – The Cult

Weird. Those song titles look like they could make up the chapter names of a James Frey novel. What's your top 10?

June 23, 2008

Monday Music List - Great Unrecognized Rock Songs

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Everyone has their favorite rock song and of course there is some consensus on the great ones: Rock and Roll by Led Zeppelin, Satisfaction by the Stones, Shook Me All Night Long by AC-DC, Smells Like Teen Spirit by Nirvana. But there are a number of great rock songs by familiar artists that for some reason or other have been ignored. These songs definitely rock and should be mainstays on stations like KQ or 93X or on hard rock compilation albums. So in no particular order….

Rearview Mirror – Pearl Jam. From the album Versus, this song is a classic slow build to an over the top rev-up. The guitar solo at the end is killer and Eddie Vedders’ vocals are of course top notch.

Turn on the News – Husker Du. From Zen Arcade, this is song is a great album closer and includes a component of all good rock songs: The shout out. “turn on (turn on) turn on the news…? Again great guitar work and meaningful lyrics.

Hash Pipe – Weezer. This one is a little different with the falsetto verses but the bass line is so crunchy that you have to consider it as one of the best. This song actually gets played from time to time on 93X.

One – Metallica. Creepy story about a grossly maimed war vet. The guitar solo at the end is so mind blowing stupendous you can’t ignore it.

Common People – William Shatner and Joe Jackson. O.k. Don’t laugh but this song rocks! Shatner’s reciting the lyrics over Joe Jackson’s singing them destroys me everytime. One of the best songs released in the last five years, easily.

Gary’s Got a Boner – The Replacements.
From Let It Be, if it wasn’t for the goofy subject matter this song would probably be considered a classic. With enough guitar hooks to supply a local cover band for a year, it is a shame this song is so criminally overlooked.

Jesus Christ Pose – Soundgarden. From Badmotherfinger, Chris Cornell’s vocal work is amazing and the bass is massive. Add about three layers of guitars and you have a song that will jump start anyone who listens to it. I once threw like 5 strikes in 7 balls once bowling after this song came on the jukebox.

What overlooked rock songs have I missed?

June 16, 2008

Monday Music List - Maligned Follow-Up Albums

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Everyone knows the drill… band comes out with an awesome album that critics and fans both love, sells mega-copies, and is a cultural touchstone. Now comes the follow-up album. Everyone’s expectations are sky-high. Can they do it again? What will they do next? Will it sell as many copies? The label’s marketing department goes into hyperdrive as the band is on magazine covers, TV, singles are released early, I-Pod commercials are cut. Then the album comes out. Disappointment. Maybe the band went into a different direction and the new fans are turned off. Or the band tried to recapture what they did on the last album and it's too similar, or they just missed the mark.

I’ve always maintained that it’s unfair to expect a band to come out with two mind-numbingly good albums in a row and the second album often suffers from expectations. But we shouldn’t dismiss the follow-up just because it’s not as good. In fact here is a list of much-maligned follow-ups that deserve a second (or third, fourth, fifth) listen.

Weezer – Pinkerton. The classic example of a follow-up album disappointing new found fans. After the engaging Weezer, Pinkerton didn’t have any quirky hit like The Buddy Holly Song. What it did have is cool rock songs that would establish the Weezer sound for years to come. The criticism this album generated practically broke Rivers Coumo. Today Pinkerton is considered (rightly so) a misunderstood classic.

Radiohead – Kid A. After recording one of the best albums in the last 20 years with OK Computer, expectations were through the stratosphere for Kid A. Unfortunately for its fans, Radiohead decided to go for a Pink Floyd-influenced electronic freak fest. The reaction was so strongly negative that Radiohead quickly released Amnesiac which contained more accessible songs from the Kid A sessions. Even today Kid A divides fans. Some think is was a classic, others believe that it’s a bunch of mindless drivel. I fall into the first camp.

Nirvana – In Utero. After Nevermind, Nirvana could never meet expectations for In Utero so they didn’t even try. Sonically mushy, much harder rocking, a song called Rape Me. It almost seems like Nirvana was trying to turn off all but its most avid fans. And it did. Its reputation still is pretty sully, but the songs rock. If it had preceded rather than followed Nevermind, it would be considered a classic that presaged what was to come.

Albums that deserve their bad follow-up reputation:

R.E.M. – Monster.
After Automatic For The People, a switch to hard rockin’ songs that just didn’t work.

U2 – Vertigo.
A couple of good songs, but not even in the same league as All That You Can Leave Behind.


Any others that I missed? What are some of your favorite albums that have a bad reputation?

June 13, 2008

Friday Random Top 10

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K.G. one game away from a Championship. Couldn't happen to a more deserving guy. Here's your random top 10:

1. Sons of Apollo - Guided by Voices
2. Humph - Thelonious Monk
3. Films - Gary Numan
4. You Belong to Me - Elvis Costello
5. West of the Fields - R.E.M.
6. Nebraska - Bruce Springsteen
7. I Love You Because - Elvis Presley
8. Marmora Pig - Washboard Hank
9. Mexico City Blues 149 - Jack Kerouac
10. My Shining Hour - John Coltrane

A little jazz, some Kerouac, both Elvi, Bruce, R.E.M. and GbV. Kinda weird, not sure if it works. What's your top 10?

June 9, 2008

Monday Music List - Baseball Intro Songs

You’re either a batter or pitcher at the Major League level and you’ve just been called to bat/pitch. What’s the next important thing to happen? Go over the scouting report in your mind? Check the dugout for the sign? Touch yourself? While all three are important, first you gotta make sure that your intro song is really cool.

If you’ve been to the ballpark you know that practically every player has an intro song. Some are chosen by the player, some by the stadium P.A. There’s certain criteria of course. They have to be “high energy? and they have to be well known, perhaps somewhat related to your skills. An Elliot Smith or Nick Drake song just wouldn’t do. The song for Mariano Riveria - Enter Sandman - is probably the perfect intro song. Also classic songs are Cannonball by the Breeders, Blitzkrieg Bop by the Ramones, Helter Skelter by the Beatles, Shook Me All Night Long by AC/DC and Welcome to the Jungle by GnR. Also they have to start off fast and recognizable as only a few seconds of the song is even played.

With that here are some of the songs that I would like as my intro song:

Rock and Roll – Led Zeppelin. It’s cliché I know, but it’s a classic, everyone would be shaking.
Territorial Pissing – Nirvana. One of the greatest opening ever.
Pump It Up – Elvis Costello. Classic.
Sabatoge – Beasty Boys. Great opening.
Suffarage City – Bowie

All those are pretty standard and recognizable. If I wanted to go a little more obscure, I’d make sure these were also included:

Memphis, Egypt – Mekons
Hey Day – Replacements
Tool Master of Brainerd – Trip Shakespeare
The Wait – Pretenders
Seven Nation Army – White Stripes
Rise Above – Black Flag

What would be your MLB intro song?

June 6, 2008

Friday Random Top 10

Last night we hosted 45 just-graduated 7th grade boys and girls at our house. The house is still standing, the mud is mostly in the porch and to the best of my knowledge, all had a good time. We started a fire in the pit and the kids torched their homework and they burned a sacrificial uniform shirt. With that, this week’s top ten:

1. Armalite Rifle – Gang of Four
2. Oliver’s Army – Elvis Costello
3. Cheap Reward – Elvis Costello
4. Handshake Drugs – Wilco
5. Tesla’s Hotel Room – The Handsome Family
6. Old Dan Tucker – Bruce Springsteen
7. 500 Miles – Peter Paul & Mary
8. C’est Si Triste Sans Lui – Cleoma Breaux
9. To Be A Killer – Wes Houston
10. Two Hears Beat As One – U2

Well, after a martial beginning, that list went hard folk. What’s your top 10?

June 2, 2008

Monday Music List - Favorite Elvis Songs

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Elvis Presley gets a bum rap these days. Mocked as an overweight has-been at the time of his death and propagator of bad 60's movies, Elvis has probably fallen pretty far in pop culture radar these days. As an unapologetic Elvis fan, I wanted wear my allegiance on my sleeve and provide a list of my favorite Elvis Songs. Here you go.

1. That's All Right (Mama) - The first, the greatest. Pop culture changed forever when this song was recorded.
2. Blue Moon Of Kentucky - A shot across the bow of old-timey music. If Elvis could rev up this bluegrass standard, then there was nothing he couldn't do.
3. Trying To Get To You - Talk about obsession.
4. I Want You, I Need You, I Love You - This song reminds me of a couple in a 55 Chev, up on lovers lane.
5. Jailhouse Rock - Elvis' best vocal work, a true rocker
6. One Night - Truly a reach for deliverance, for salvation even.
7. It's Now Or Never - Elvis' first single after returning from the Army. A sign that he was all grown up.
8. Are You Lonesome Tonight - Here's a fantastic write-up of this song.
9. Little Sister - Nice little rockabilly number with cool, cool lyrics.
10. Can't Help Falling In Love - Sentimental value as this was the second song played at our wedding dance.
11. She's Not You - Classic love lost song.
12. In The Ghetto - A little cheesy yes, but pretty good description of late 60's urban travails.
13. Suspicious Minds - A classic, who doesn't love this song
14. Burning Love - Exemplified mid-70's Elvis.
15. Amazing Grace - Great version of this song, with backing gospel choir. This will be played at my funeral.

What's your favorite Elvis song(s)?

May 30, 2008

Friday Random Top 10

It's summer and what best to kick it off with a random top 10:

1. TV II - Ministry
2. Soft Ground - Mott the Hoople
3. A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall - Pete Seeger
4. Pulling Teeth
5. Opportunity - Elvis Costello
6. Keep the Car Running - The Arcade Fire
7. A Dream That Must Last - Neil Young
8. I Love You - Nat King Cole
9. Uptown - Roy Orbison
10. Any Colour You Like - Pink Floyd

How many times to you see Ministry, Mott the Hoople, Nat King Cole, and Pink Floyd together in one place? Probably one of my most random lists ever. What's your top 10?

May 23, 2008

Friday Random Top 10

Here’s a very funny review of the Wii Fit. The reviewer also hooked up a 12-pac of Heineken to the Wii to see how well it would do. Funny stuff. Here’s your Friday Random Top 10…

1. Skinhead Symphony – Special A.K.A.
2. Featherbed – Cannon’s Jug Stompers
3. Billy Hunt – The Jam
4. Tinfoil – The Handsome Family
5. Diane – Trip Shakespeare
6. Trip Through Your Wires – U2
7. Bell Boy – The Who
8. On the Tundra – Guided by Voices
9. If I had the World to Give – Grateful Dead
10. 5:45 – Gang of Four

Begun with some 2nd wave Ska and ended with Gang of Four. All over the map in between. Somehow it works. What’s your Top 10?

May 19, 2008

Worst Concert Experiences

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Last week I listed my most memorable concert experiences. I hope to hear more of your favorite experiences in the comments. In light of fair conversation, below are some of my least favorite concert experiences. This may not be a complete list as I probably forgotten some of the worst experiences.

Styx – Met Sports Center (Summer 1981). This has to be the worst concert I ever went to. It was the Paradise Theater tour and was some sort of concept show. I sat on my seat the whole time with my arms crossed just hating it. I went with a girlfriend (who loved the show) and our relationship was never the same after that, even though she had two very good reasons for us to stay together.

Romeo Void – First Avenue (Fall 1982)
. This was before MTV really took off so I didn’t know that the lead singer of Romeo Void was like 300 pounds. I missed my bus back to the U and got a ride with this girl I was dancing with and her two male companions. The two guys asked if we wanted to have an orgy and, not liking the 3-1 male-to-female ratio, I politely declined and purposely gave the girl a wrong phone number.

Slickee Boys – 7th Street Entry (Summer 1984?)
. Ramped up beach music by a band dressed in outrageously garish clothes (look em up on youtube, it’s positively cringe-worth). I got clubbed in the head by a guy with a cast and needed 5 stitches to close my opened-up eyebrow.

R.E.M. – George Washington University (Summer 1987). The show was decent actually but I went with a girl who I thought I was going to hook up with. She got sick about 3/4 of the way through the show and we had to leave. Never did hook up with her.

Bob Dylan – Harriet Island (Summer 1990?). This was when Dylan was not really putting in effort into his shows and was changing up his songs, etc. You literally couldn’t tell what song he was singing until about midway through when you would pick up a lyric or two. We stood on our folding chairs the whole time feeling underwhelmed.

Throwing Muses – The Cubby Bear (Fall 1992?)
. Me and my friend Timmy B. got tickets to this show in Wrigleyville. We didn’t know it was an early show so as we head to the bar to get inside, everyone was shuffling out, having already experienced the show. Later, in the basement bar, after a lot of alcohol, I was trying to set on fire the sawdust that was spread all over the floor and a waitress ripped us off.

Rifle Sport – 7th Street Entry (February 2005). I was really excited about seeing Rifle Sport back together after many years. Unfortunately I went to a school party beforehand and had a bunch of wine, then went to First Avenue and had a bunch of cheap beer. Wine and beer is not a good mixture for me and the band was ear-bleedingly loud. Being over 40 at the time, this was too much and I had to sit outside and wait for my friend Pete until the show was over. I swear this experience took 3 years off my life.

What are some of your worst concert experiences?

May 16, 2008

Friday Random Top 10

First time this year the weather was nice enough I could ride my bike. It was glorious. Social Distortion blasting in my ears, almost got by hit by a car only once, sun shining in my eyes, trees are green. Perfect day.

If you want to read my 8-page paper on the movie Cloverfield and representations of September 11th, click here: Download file.

Can’t forget this week’s top 10:

1. Shakin’ All Over – The Who
2. Ask – The Smiths
3. Bleed – Jack Logan
4. Judy is a Punk – The Ramones
5. Fight Test – Flaming Lips
6. Do Lord – Johnny Cash
7. Credit in the Straight World – Hole
8. Sometimes Good Guys Don’t Wear White – Hypstrz
9. Let’s Get Married – Al Green
10. I Love Living in the City – Fear

Now that’s what I call a random list. How many times does a gospel song follow the Flaming Lips or Fear follow Al Green? What’s your top 10?

May 12, 2008

Favorite Concert Moments

What’s your favorite concert? It’s actually a hard question. It depends on where you are in your life, who you went with, how you were feeling. Below are my top concert highlights in descending chronological order. Question marks after a date means that I think it happened at that time but I could be wrong. What are some of your favorite concerts?

Green Day – Xcel Energy Center. September 2005. Billy Joe Armstrong introduced Holiday as a “big Fuck You to George W. Bush? and the crowd full of 10-15 year old boys and their parents went nuts. They played this song so aggressively that if Billy Joe had asked the crowd to storm the capitol we would have done it.

Rock for Change – Xcel Energy Center. October 2004. The last song was Rockin’ in the Free World with Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young, R.E.M., John Forgerty, Conner Obst, and others. Pete Buck’s smile was so big, I could see it from across the arena.

Fred Eaglesmith – St. Peter, MN. September 8, 2001.
Fred was in fine form at a free concert in a park in St. Peter. He played every song you wanted and I heard Big Ass Garage Sale for the first time. He told a story about a Dar Williams making a hit of one of his songs by making it into a lesbian song. At first he was uncomfortable about it but after getting the royalty checks, he was “writing lesbian song after lesbian song.? Three days after this show the world changed.

Jonathan Richman – First Avenue. September 1996(?). We saw Jonathan watching the warm up act and my wife went up to him and said we were celebrating our anniversary and could he sing My Love is a Flower for us. About mid-way through the show Jonathan started one song, stopped a few bars in and said, I am suppose to sing this for Elaine and Dean, celebrating their anniversary. He then sang My Love is a Flower.

Johnny Cash – Orpheum Theater. June 1995.
Touring in support of American Recordings, the Orpheum was full of punks, guys in cowboy hats, and old duffers. I went with my dad and we sat in the 9th row. Johnny’s voice was perfect and I was blown away by the songs and the show. Oh the Jayhawks opened with an acoustic set.

Metallica – Target Center. Summer 1991(?). We were in the upper bowl and at one point during the show, the lights illuminated the lower bowl and all you could see were thousands of heads banging in unison, it was an amazing sight.

Meat Puppets – First Avenue Summer 1988(?). The Puppets absolutely jammed! By the end they were playing covers and you couldn’t keep up. They played a version of Rock and Roll that would put Zeppelin to shame (sorry Shane, but it’s true!).

U2 – RFK Stadium. September 1987. I think this was U2’s first big stadium tour but they still were connecting with the audience as if it were a 500 seat theater. They finished with “40? and the crowd kept singing “how long will we sing this song.? We sang it after U2 left the stage, we sang it filing out of the stadium, we sang it in the parking lot, we sang it in the subways and our cars going home. Truly inspirational.

Billy Bragg – 930 Club. Summer 1987. At the height of the controversy over funding the Nicaraguan Contras, Billy Bragg had a very political show in a very political City. Afterward he invited anyone from the audience to come backstage and discuss politics with him.

Ramones – American University. Fall 1986. They played in an old gymnasium with folding chairs. When they came out with the gabba gabba hey signs, they had me. The best I could describe it was the Beach Boys on crack.

Replacements – 7th Street Entry. November 1985.
Part of their 5 night stay to celebrate the release of Tim. At the end of the show as they were being showered with quarters, dimes, and dollar bills, Paul Westerberg uttered the greatest concert closing I ever heard: What’s this shit, we don’t need it, we’re made of the shit. Keep your money, fuck you, good night.

Minutemen – 7th Street Entry. November 1985. They put on an awesome show and D. Boon slipped and fell down dancing in his own puddle of sweat. One month later he was dead in a car accident.

Urban Guerrillas – Williams Pub. New Years Eve 1984(85?). A beer and sex fueled musical party that crossed over two years. I think everyone who went to this show got laid that night.

Black Flag – Duffy’s. Summer 1984. This was the height of Henry Rollins as lead singer of Black Flag and he was in a word powerful. My friend Pete had a religious experience that night (partially thanks to Nigel the bus driver).

Soul Asylum – Whole Music Club. Spring 1984(?). Long before they were famous they were amazing in concert. This show wasn’t my first or last, but was particularly memorable for pure unadulterated rock and roll.

Suburbs – Cabooze. Summer 1983.
Their first show back after a successful California tour. The bassist Michael Halliday came back with a buzz cut which was all the rage with the California punks at the time. They then proceeded to tear the Cabooze apart, with Beej, climbing the lighting scaffolding all over the bar.

Replacements/Husker Du – First Avenue.
Summer 1982. My first show at First Avenue, my first Replacements and Husker Du concert. I went by myself. I was never the same and doubt that I’d even be writing something like this if it wasn’t for this show.


I am sure there are others that I will remember. So check back to see if I add anything.

May 9, 2008

Friday Random Top 10

Grand Theft Auto 4 sells $500 million worth of video games in a week, Iron Man sells $100 million worth of tickets in a weekend, it's a comic book world we live in. What's your Avatar?

This week's top 10:

1. In the Mouth of a Desert – Pavement
2. 21 Days in Jail – The Blasters
3. Modern Farmer – Young Wu
4. Words Fell – Lucinda Williams
5. Buddy’s Bolden Blues – Jelly Roll Morton
6. Elephant Stone – Stone Roses
7. Drummer Like Me – Trip Shakespeare
8. James Riot – Guided By Voices
9. June Salutes You – Guided By Voices
10. Hard Time Killing Floor Blues – Chris Thomas King

A little something for everyone. Some Pavement and GbV for you indie rockers, some blues, country, and something from Manchester's Factory. Wow!

May 2, 2008

Friday Random Top 10

So the kids have started to make movies and put them on youtube.com. This is one of their better efforts.

Also, here’s your random top 10:

1. Wigwam – Bob Dylan
2. Polly – Nirvana
3. Everybody Thinks I am a Raincloud – Guided By Voices
4. Senor – Jerry Garcia
5. High & Dry – Radiohead
6. I’ve Been Everywhere – Johnny Cash
7. Cool Blues/52nd Street – Charlie Parker
8. Drunk by Noon – The Handsome Family
9. Casey Jones – The Grateful Dead
10. Company In My Back – Wilco

I kind of like the vibe of this list. Introspective, quiet, a little slower. Nice way to open a Friday. What’s your top 10?

April 29, 2008

Prince or Miley?

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Sure I could use this space to talk about the “sexy? Miley Cirus pics and the need to tart her up to transition the billion dollar Miley brand to one that appeals to teens and moves her away from pre-teens, but that would be puerile. Or I could mention that now Hilary Clinton has offered the economically questionable idea for a gas tax holiday and is now so desperate that she’s willing to offer crass policy initiatives that appeal to base instincts but actually do more harm to the American public than good. But I’m sick of politics. Heck I could even rave about Jared Allen but that would mean I would have to talk about the Vikings.

Instead, in these days of lame cultural irrelevancy, it is still good to know that Prince once again demonstrated that, if he stays away from the weird stuff, can pretty much blow the rest of us away with his ability to rock. In case you weren’t there or didn’t see the reviews, Prince absolutely tore up Coachella on Sunday night. It was a two hour set that included a 20-minute show with Morris Day and The Time, a bunch of hits, a cover of Creep, and of course an earth shattering rendition of Purple Rain. Much like he did at the Super Bowl a couple of years ago, “Prince reigned supreme? and gave the rest us of hope that maybe, just maybe, rock and roll is still alive and can provide transcendence. Well that or at least a good time for a couple of hours.

You Tube has a couple of videos of the show but most of them have the sound removed. Prince’s version of Creep is still available and is below. The camera work is pretty bad but the sound is great. Also at about the 5:45 mark, Prince tears into an amazing guitar solo. Worth it just for that.


April 25, 2008

Friday Random Top 10

For my class Monsters, Robots, and Cyborgs, I am writing a 10-page research paper on the Cloverfield Monster and representations of 9/11 in cinema. Do you know of any academic journal articles that have looked at this same issue? If so, let me know.

Here’s this week’s Top 10:

1. Whip It – Devo
2. Teenage Depression – Eddie & the Hot Rods
3. I Can’t Stand It – The Underbeats
4. Long Black Veil – Johnny Cash
5. A Punch Up at a Wedding – Radiohead
6. Alcohol and Pills – Fred Eaglesmith
7. Oh, Me – Nirvana
8. Sweet Jane – Cowboy Junkies
9. Thank the Lord for the Nightime – Neil Diamond
10. Have You Ever Been Lonely – Patsy Cline

Whoa, after getting my “new wave hits of 70’s? on, this list gets pretty dark pretty fast. Even thanking the Lord for the nighttime feels sinister amidst Long Black Veil and Have You Ever Been Lonely.

What’s your Top 10?

April 18, 2008

Friday Random Top 10

Replacements first four albums remastered plus 20 unreleased demos and outtakes coming out Tuesday. Are you buying them or not? I’m on the fence. Here is this week’s Top 10:

1. UFO – Dudley and the Doo-Rytes
2. Blood & Roses – The Smithereens
3. Sand in my Joints – Wire
4. And your Bird Can Sing – The Beatles
5. Senses Working Overtime – XTC
6. Why Can’t I Be You? – The Cure
7. My Name is Jonas – Weezer
8. Skyway – The Replacements
9. House of Cards – Radiohead
10. Nobody’s Lonesome for Me – Hank Williams

Nice list again. That XTC song is one of my faves and would be one that I would put on my early 1980’s life soundtrack. Apparently John Lennon hated Bird Can Sing, but I think it’s a great song. Then again, what do I know?

What’s your Top 10?

April 14, 2008

The Feelies - Back Together!!?

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Did you feel that? A slight tremor in the space-time continuum was experienced over the last few days as thousands of 40-something former music hipsters heard the news that the original line-up of The Feelies were going to play once again. This being 2008, the announcement came on the Feelies’ MySpace page:

The Feelies, the legendary and influential rock band, will reunite to perform at Battery Park in NYC on July 4th, opening for Sonic Youth. The classic Feelies lineup of Glenn Mercer, Bill Million, Dave Weckerman, Brenda Sauter, and Stanley Demeski will perform their first show since 1991. Formed in Haledon NJ in 1976, The Feelies released 4 albums- including their critically acclaimed and influential debut Crazy Rhythms, which was voted 49 in the top 100 albums of the 1980s by Rolling Stone magazine and chosen by Spin Magazine as 49 of the best alternative records of all time.

This weekend guys all over the country were asking the wife: “Honey, how about NYC for 4th of July? It’s been years since we’ve been to the City and the kids are old enough to really get the City’s vibe. Plus doesn’t your Uncle Carl live on Long Island? We haven’t seen him since the wedding.?

The Feelies were one of those “Indie Bands? that existed long before the term was even invented and had a near cult like following, meaning they didn’t sell a lot of albums. After releasing 4 very cool albums and a couple of off-shoot albums that were near classic (Yung Wu – Shore Leave), they broke up after one of their band members had a nervous breakdown and went to work at Disney World (true story look it up). Now after years of rumors of getting back together, Yung Wu back in the Studio(!) And Glen Mercer releasing a solo album, the Holy Grail – a reunion show – is now official. If there is an actual tour, look for mid-life crisis' and crying in the streets, or at least a bunch of guys seeing if that paisley shirt in the back of the closet still fits. (Of course we all know the wife threw it out long ago).

April 11, 2008

Friday Random Top 10

An inch of slush on the ground, the North Dakota Fighting Englestads annual choke in the Frozen Four, Timberwolves battling for more ping-pong balls, and potholes big enough to swallow a Kia mean only one thing: It’s Spring! Here is this week’s top 10:

1. Crazy Baby – The Blasters
2. Apology Song – The Decemberists
3. Abraham – Jack Kerouac
4. Police Story – Black Flag
5. I’m Lucky – Joan Armatrading
6. Something – The Beatles
7. Men 2nd – Wire
8. Bad Days – The Flaming Lips
9. High Time – Paul Westerberg
10. Tall Dark Stranger – Buck Owens

I like this list. If you listen closely to Crazy Baby, you can hear a dog bark in the background about 2/3 of the way through – to the beat no less! Apology Song is the greatest “I am sorry your bike got stolen? song ever written and there’s nothing like a little Buck Owens to kick off your Friday morning!

What’s your top 10?

April 4, 2008

Friday Random Top 10

Wow, 40 years since MLK assassination. You wonder whether MLK would be thrilled or disappointed that it’s taken until 2008 to have credible black candidate for President. It’s hard to say, I don’t think anyone ever asked him the question.

Battlestar Gallactica final season starts to tonight, more next week on that momentous occasion.

R.E.M. has a new album out, which actually sounds good. I might have to check it out.

Finally after a long, long winter I played catch for the first time yesterday. After about 20 throws, my arm actually felt pretty good. Couldn’t get my sinker working yet, need more work.

Justin Morneau, umm, now that the Canucks have been eliminated from the NHL playoffs, maybe you could start thinking about getting a hit or two. Just sayin.

After a two week hiatus due to I-Pod troubles, I am back with a random top 10.

1. Johnny Strikes Up the Band – Warren Zevon
2. Flamenco Sketches – Miles Davis
3. Midnight Blues – Detroit Cobras
4. Restless Summer – Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
5. Fat Bottomed Girls – Queen
6. Eat to the Beat – Blondie
7. Wrecking Now – Guided by Voices
8. People Have the Power – Patti Smith
9. Sugar Mountain – Neil Young
10. Anthrax - Gang of Four

I’m really embarrassed by that Queen song. Otherwise looks like I had kind of a rockin’ 70’s vibe going with that list (even if some of the songs were recorded much later).

What’s your top 10?

April 2, 2008

Mekons, Greil Marcus, and Mary Lucia

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Last Friday I went to the Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul to attend The Current's Fakebook session with author Greil Marcus and the historic band Mekons. Although it was a Friday night and the Wild were playing at the X, I still was able to get a free on-street parking spot about a block from the Fitz, which in a nutshell describes St. Paul.

Peter Scholtes at the City Pages has a review of the event here which is pretty damn good so I won't repeat but he says (also check out the cool pics by Daniel Corrigan). Mary Lucia also has a comment at the end of the post, which adds some nice background.

Here are some additional thoughts:

I was taken in by the age of the audience. At 45, I was probably on the young side of the median age which surprised me. Were these oldsters here for Greil Marcus? patrons of the Fitz? Mekons fans? If 50 is the age cohort for the Current, they might be in trouble.

Mary Lucia is a gas. The Scholtes post has a couple of good pics of her. She has a rapier wit, even making (slight) fun of GM's glasses in her introduction. She also changed her boots between interviews going from cowboy boots to knee-high black boots. Nice touch.

Griel Marcus can be maddening. Sometimes his books blow me away, as he can be a fantastic writer. Othertimes he is so oblique it feels as though he's taking a jackhammer to make his point. These traits were on exhibit Friday night.

Finally the Mekons were oh so cool. They truly are a treasure. Sally Timms voice is angelic and she has the dry British wit down to a T. Jon Langford is a hoot and the spiritual leader of the band. I wished they had played Memphis, Egypt but other than that no complaints.

All and all a very enjoyable evening.

April 1, 2008

My Favorite Musical Artist

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From time to time I want to use this blog to talk about certain artists that have really spoken to me. Who’s talent and body of work make me glad to be alive. Of course, like hopefully many readers of this blog, Mariah Carey will always top that list.

Mariah Carey made her recording debut in 1990 under the guidance of Columbia Records executive Tommy Mottola, and became the first recording artist to have her first five singles top the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart. Following her marriage to Mottola in 1993, a series of hit records established her position as Columbia's highest-selling act. According to Billboard magazine, she was the most successful artist of the 1990s in the United States.

Able to hit eight octaves with her voice, Carey has demonstrated it’s not so much the song as the voice that is important. Glamorous, multi-ethnic, omni-talented as a successful recording, film and TV career has demonstrated, Mariah Carey is well positioned to continue to be a 21st Century mega-star. But not only is she talented, she is smart and has her head on straight. There is strong evidence that Mariah Carey could taken on Bono-status as a champion of middle class debt relief, or the use of compact florescent light bulbs.

The ying to Bob Dylan’s yang. The Sigfried to Johnny Cash’s Roy. The Penn to Paul Westerberg’s Teller. Mariah Carey is one of those artists who’s talent, grace, and beauty will always move me.

Who’s your favorite artist?

March 14, 2008

Friday Random Top 10

Instead of clapping, people start blogging at the end of each song - Michael Stipe at SxSW.

Here's your Top 10

1. 23 Beats Off - Fugazi
2. Bouncing with Bud - The Amazing Bud Powell
3. Sun of a Gun - Nirvana
4. Freddie the Freeloader - Miles Davis
5. Shore Leave - Yung Wu
6. Divorce Song - Liz Phair
7. Atlantis to Interzone - Klaxons
8. Generals and Majors - XTC
9. Perfect Circle - R.E.M.
10. Fatman - G. Love and Special Sauce

After starting off with an epic punk v. jazz battle, the list settles into a cozy alternative music vibe. Bring on Friday! What's your top 10?

March 7, 2008

Friday Random Top 10

File under sexist pig: I can’t figure out of Cindy McCain is scary hot (for her age) or just scary. She’s like one of those vision pictures: at first glance it looks like a vase, then looks like two faces looking at each, then a vase again. Anyway, here’s your Friday Top 10...

1. Unscathed – Jack Logan
2. Tame – Pixies
3. Highway Patrolman – Bruce Springsteen
4. In the Time it Takes – X
5. Christ for President – Billy Bragg and Wilco
6. Explain it to Me – Liz Phair
7. Passenger Pigeon – Handsome Family
8. Prime of Life – Neil Young
9. Conclusion of the Railroad Earth – Jack Kerouac
10. Where Have All the Flowers Gone – Peter Paul and Mary

O.k. A little mellower this week. Christ for President is appropriate given the election season upon us. A nice vibe to chill to, especially since Winter refuses to leave the Upper Midwest. What’s your top 10?

March 2, 2008

Gram Parsons

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After spending most of 2007 on this blog discussing my favorite albums, this year I want to spend time with my favorite musical artists. Instead of starting with an obvious choice like Bob Dylan, Paul Westerberg, or Johnny Cash, I want to start begin with Gram Parsons, the artist pretty much credited with the birth of County-Rock and the grandfather of alt-country.

I recently finished reading 20,000 Roads – The Ballad of Gram Parsons and His Cosmic American Music. This book takes a pretty straight-forward, unsympathetic biographical look at Gram Parsons, his art, and his controversial death. I would highly recommend it for anyone interested in the life of Gram Parsons. In addition I rented the documentary Gram Parsons: Fallen Angel which is a slightly more sympathetic look at Grams life and is basically a shorthand version of the book in video form.

I’m not going to go into a lengthy recap of what’s in those two sources, but just to say that Gram was born in a quite wealthy family headed by a Florida orange baron. Growing up in Florida and southern Georgia, Gram was exposed to country music and hit NYC in the mid 60’s with a musical vocabulary that was closer to George Jones than John Lennon. Parsons eventually found his way to Los Angeles to pursue a musical career. What I found most interesting about Gram Parsons is that when almost all of his cohorts were into psychedelia and blues-based rock, Gram was into the Louvin Brothers and Buck Owens. Remember this was in the late 60’s when there was a wide cultural chasm between conservative, racist, Nashville and free-love, dope smokin’ L.A.

After creating a classic country album with the International Submarine Band, Parsons was hired by the Byrds, at the time one of the most popular bands in the country, to record an album. From this collaboration in 1968 came Sweetheart of the Rodeo. While at the time not well received or a big seller, its influence has grown exponentially over the last 40 years (ranked 117 by Rolling Stone’s top 500 albums) and is cited by many as the ur-text behind such musical movements as Country Rock, New Traditionalism, and Alt-Country. Interestingly Grams’ lead vocals were removed from the original album release. At the time it was revealed because of contract issues with Parsons’ label. Since then Roger McGuinn has admitted that he chose not have Parsons’ vocals on the album because he didn’t want to share the spotlight with GP. Today you can get the album with both the originally released and Parsons-sung tracks. Listening to both versions, one can understand McGuinn’s concerns. Parsons’ versions are much richer than the McGuinn sung songs.

The Byrds with Gram Parsons played the Grand Old Opry (almost exactly 40 years ago 03.13.68). The Byrds were the first long-haired rock band to play the Opry and were not received well. Parsons in his typical self-promoting, iconoclastic manner, substituted at the last minute his own song -- Hickory Wind -- as the second performed song instead of a Merle Haggard cover, much to the consternation of the Opry powers. It caused a big stink at the time, but today the Opry lists the performance as number 33 out of the 80 greatest Opry performances. (An event completely passed over by the Gram Parsons documentary. I don’t know why, it’s a pretty compelling chapter of the Parsons mythology).

Parsons hung out with the Rolling Stones a lot during the late 1960’s and early 1970’s and definitely wanted to be part of the band. There is some proof that he at least collaborated on the song Honky Tonk Woman (if not exactly wrote it) and Gram’s influence on the Stones, especially Keith Richards, is all over Exile on Main Street. At this time Parsons was in a band called The Flying Burrito Brothers and released a minor classic album Gilded Palace of Sin.

It was at this time that Parsons came up with what he called his Cosmic American Music which is a cross between country, southern boogie, and psychedelica. It was a hybrid sound that was too country for mainstream rock, too psychedelic for country. During his time with the Flying Burrito Brothers, Parsons also went out and got the band members Nudie suits which were garish suits worn by many of the country stars of the day. Parsons’ was a white suit with every conceivable drug imprinted on the jacket, flames at the bell bottoms, and a huge southern cross on the back. Jeff Tweedy wore a similar Nudie suit on SNL over the weekend (03.01.08) – an obvious homage to Gram Parsons. At the end of this post is a You Tube video from the Flying Burrito Brothers that shows quite clearly the Nudie suits and a pretty good example of Cosmic American Music.

In the early 70’s Parsons released two solo albums: GP and Return of the Grievous Angel which typically can be purchased on one CD today. At was at this time that Gram “discovered? Emmy Lou Harris and their duets are the high points of each album. Both albums have original songs written by Parsons and covers of classic country songs. Each album, along with Sweetheart, should be in the library of any country music fan (and by country I don’t mean what’s being passed off as country on K-102).

Parsons was a big druggie and his music suffered greatly because of it. It’s really sad, who knows what else he could have created if he wasn’t so fucked up all the time. Parsons died of a drug overdose in 1973 before Return of the Grievous Angel was released. His body was stolen by some friends before it could be shipped back to his family in Florida. They took Parsons’ body and burned it at Joshua Tree National Monument in a drink and drug-fueled fiasco. His unfortunate cremation only added to the mythology and Parsons’ influence has grown exponentially since his death. Without Parsons it is unlikely we would have had Uncle Tupelo and Whiskeytown and countless other kick-ass beer soaked country rock bands.

Must Have Albums: Byrds - Sweetheart of the Rodeo (with bonus tracks); Parsons - GP; Return of the Grievous Angel.

For Fans: International Submarine Band – Safe at Home; Flying Burrito Brothers – Gilded Palace of Sin.

For Completists: Flying Burrito Brothers – Burrito Deluxe; Gram Parsons – Early Years; Live 1973.

Books: 20,000 Roads – David Meyer

Movies: Gram Parsons: Fallen Angel (Stay away from Grand Theft Parsons, it's trash)

Musical Influences: Buck Owens - Greatest Hits; Ray Charles -- Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music; Louvin Brothers – Satan is Real; George Jones - Essential George Jones

Musical Progeny: The Eagles, Poco, Uncle Tupelo, Whiskeytown, Lucinda Williams

February 29, 2008

Friday Random Top 10

I went to a Timberwolves game this past week. Al Jefferson needs to learn how to box out. Here’s your Friday Random Top 10:

1. Moods for Moderns – Elvis Costello
2. My Back Pages – Bob Dylan
3. Hooked on a Feeling – Blue Suede
4. Ooh Las Vegas – Gram Parsons
5. The Gash – The Flaming Lips
6. Good Lovin’ – Grateful Dead
7. You Won’t See Me – The Beatles
8. Another Brick in the Wall, Part 1 – Luther Wright and the Wrongs
9. Shot in the Arm – Wilco
10. De Clare Guerre Nucleaine – The Hives

For a limited time only at Starbucks: Deep Cuts a 10-song CD of lesser-played songs from your favorite artists. Act now, or you may only hear these songs on your I-Pod’s shuffle feature.

What’s your top 10?

February 22, 2008

Friday Random Top 10

I just love how Cindy McCain has called her husband"a man of great character." She then went on to say that she and their children "know he would never have done anything to disappoint not only our family but ... our country." Funny coming from the woman with whom John McCain was having an affair with that basically broke up his first marriage.

Here's the Top 10:

1. How to Disappear Completely - Radiohead
2. When I Come Around - Green Day
3. You're a Soldier - Husker Du
4. Run On - Elvis Presley
5. Aspiration - Yung Wu
6. Wild Cats of Kilkenny - The Pogues
7. You Don't Know My Mind - Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
8. Just Like Anyone - Soul Asylum
9. Down My Block - Trip Shakespeare
10. Marching Bands of Manhatten - Death Cab for Cutie

I like this list. Just think if you were in your car this block of 10 songs came on the radio? Nice. What's your top 10?

February 15, 2008

Friday Random Top 10

Down in Wabasha a 5th Grade Catholic School teacher was summarily fired because she got pregnant and isn’t married. The Principle and the Priest trotted out a sheet of paper that the teacher signed saying that basically she will be a morally upstanding person. Apparently pre-marital, procreating sex goes against that paper she signed.

My nephew goes to this school and I know a little more than what’s been in the paper or on the news. The school community is really torn up about this. Teachers are going to quit, some families are going to leave the school, and a young single mom-to-be will have no means to support her coming child. Now the Priest and principle are well within their rights to fire the teacher. But is it right? What kind of pre-natal care will this child now get? How will this young mother be able to raise a child without health insurance or money for rent, groceries and diapers?

Sometimes it seems like our leaders and institutions are more worried about the theory or principles behind their actions than the how those principles are carried out in the real world. It’s why there is so much cynicism these days. Don’t you wish you could go up to the Priest and Principle and say “how can you be pro-life when you are going to deny a mother the means to make sure she has a healthy baby?? I would then follow up by asking “In this time of Lent, when we read and study the Beatitudes in our Masses, how can you act in such a manner that is contrary to Jesus’ teachings?? I wouldn’t hold my breath for a decent answer.

With that, here’s this week’s top 10:

1. Whiskey Marijuana (live) – Supersuckers
2. Black Wave – The Shins
3. I Can’t Get Next To You – Al Green
4. Watch Your Step – Elvis Costello
5. Ornithology – Bud Powell
6. Just – Radiohead
7. Family Tree – Loretta Lynn
8. Ballad of a Thin Man – Bob Dylan
9. I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry – Cowboy Junkies
10. My Best Was Never Good Enough – Bruce Springsteen

What’s your Top 10?

February 8, 2008

Friday Random Top 10

O.k. O.k. So Timmy Brewster can recruit. Rating services rank the Gopher's incoming football class from 16 to 25. Now let's see if he can coach!! This week's top 10:

1. In the Jungle - The Hives
2. Strawberry Fields Forever - Jim Sturges
3. Can't Seem To Make You Mine - Alex Chilton
4. I Don't Like Mondays - The Boomtown Rats
5. You Make Me Feel So Young - Frank Sinatra
6. Shake Shake Shake Your Booty - K.C. & The Sunshine Band
7. Holiday Song - Pixies
8. St. Swithin's Day - Billy Bragg
9. Delta 88 - X
10. New England - Jonathan Richman

Wow! Now that's what I call a divese list. Not sure what to make of that. what's your top 10?

February 6, 2008

Music and Memory

Over the past year I’ve been hitting the library hard, listening to CD’s that I don't own. It’s a lot cheaper than buying CD’s and I am able to experiment with bands I’ve always been interested in but not willing to invest the $$$ and going back and re-visiting albums I always loved but never converted from LP to CD.

Recently I accomplished the latter by tracking down Graham Parker’s Squeezing out the Sparks and Like This by The dBs. Both were albums that I loved in the early to mid-eighties. (Graham Parker even earlier). Both albums were full of hook-filled pop songs that for some reason got classified in the “punk rock? or “new wave? genre. Both albums are critically acclaimed but not huge sellers (Squeezing Out the Sparks is 335 on the Rolling Stone top 500 albums). I never got either album on CD and I would say it’s been over 20 years since I heard Like This and probably closer to 25 years since I’ve heard Squeezing Out the Sparks. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a song on The Current, movie soundtrack or Wendy’s commercial either.

What I found interesting is that even though it’s been more than 20 years since I heard these songs, I knew them note-for-note as if I had listened to them every day! I knew exactly the chorus, the beat, the hooks, and what the next song would be. It got me thinking about music and memory and how our brains can remember some things quite easily and others, not so much. I think if I looked at a text book or course syllabus from a college class I took at the same time I was listening to these albums, much of it would seem like new.

I did a little research on music and memory and found out that music definitely helps with memory. Research has indicated that simple melodies get “stuck? in our heads easier than more complex ones. Evolutionary biologists theorized that simpler tunes helped the ancient profession of the bard sing and remember oral histories. It has been shown that the more predictable the tune, the easier it is to get stuck in the head. When subjects are asked to remember a song in their heads, the same parts of the brains light up except fainter and the primary auditory cortex is not activated as much. In fact there is an interesting anecdote of a woman with chronic dementia who could not remember integral portions of her life such her place of birth, her place of residence for the majority of her life, or if she had had a short career singing on the radio. Despite this extreme dotage, she could remember every song she had sang perfectly!

Just when I was all smug in my music and memory research I came across another example that threw everything back into the mixer. The band Buffalo Tom was in town this weekend and although I didn’t go, it was a band I always kind of liked. I remember an early song by the band called Birdbrain which I thought was really cool. I’ve always meant to track down that song because I thought it was so good and would lament when KOUM or The Current would play a Buffalo Tom song but not that song. So anyway, the visit to First Avenue finally motivated me to hit the library looking for some Buffalo Tom music. I picked out a greatest hits type album and immediately found Birdbrain. Talk about your disappointment. It was not at all how I remembered it and couldn’t believe I’ve pined for that song over so many years. Just shows how sometimes your memory can deceive you.

Anyway, any songs out there you thought you liked but after hearing it you don’t know why?

February 4, 2008

U2 in 3D!!!

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I was lucky enough to have the good folks at reviellemag.com provide for me a ticket to the new U2 Concert movie. It’s playing at the I-MAX theater at the Minnesota Zoo and has the added feature of being in 3D. In one word it was dazzling.

The music of course was great. The movie was filmed during U2’s Vertigo tour and was taken during their stretch in South America. Although the tour was in support of the How to Build an Atomic Bomb album, the movie showcased U2’s hits and only included a few songs from HTBAAB. (See Song list below) The I-MAX sound system was great although I wish it was even louder to get more of the concert feel.

The 3D effects really added to the film. Fortunately there were no spears or other objects thrown at the audience to get them to duck. The best way I could describe it is that the 3D effects gave “volume? to what you saw. Many times it seemed like the viewer was on stage standing next to Bono or The Edge. During the song Where the Streets Have No Name, the 3D effects made the audience appear to pulsate on screen. During Sunday Bloody Sunday when Bono is singing “wipe your tears away? he is walking toward the camera (also the viewer) with an outstretched hand, ready to wipe your tears. It was amazing. It was by far the coolest concert film experience I’ve ever had.

A lot has been written about U2 and the religious basis of their music, something they’ve downplayed over the past 10-15 years. But during some of their more “inspirational? songs I truly felt that this band was just oozing the Holy Spirit. It’s hard to explain but watching U2 perform really feels like a religious experience. During the song With or Without You there were shots of the audience facing the stage with outstretched arms as if they were receiving some sort of personal salvation. The Billy Graham himself probably hasn't saved as many souls in one sitting as Bono did in Argentina.

Anyway a great film and I would encourage all to pay the I-MAX premium to see it. I might take the whole family before it leaves on February 10th.

Song List
1. "Vertigo"
2. "Beautiful Day"
3. "New Year's Day"
4. "Sometimes You Can't Make It on Your Own"
5. "Love and Peace or Else"
6. "Sunday Bloody Sunday"
7. "Bullet the Blue Sky"
8. "Miss Sarajevo" / Reading of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
9. "Pride (In the Name of Love)"
10. "Where the Streets Have No Name"
11. "One"
12. "The Fly"
13. "With or Without You"
14. "Yahweh

February 1, 2008

Friday Random Top 10

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O.k. I’m back off the ledge… I’ve recalibrated my meds…. I’m in the acceptance stage of Johan Santana’s leaving the Twins for the Mets. I don’t mind trading Santana: He was going to be too expensive for the Twins and he wanted the big stage. But 4 minor leaguers!!?? And not Martinez?!! Two, maybe three of these guys have to be solid contributing players in the next couple of years for the Twins to consider this trade a success. Makes me pine for 2010 and a new stadium even more. These next two years may be grim in the HHH Metrodome.

Well there I feel better already. Here’s this week’s top 10:

1. We’re Desperate - X (no this isn’t about the Twins, although it could be)
2. Stacy’s Mom – Fountains of Wayne
3. Oh Very Young – Cat Stevens (See number 1 above)
4. Powerline (live) – Husker Du
5. Hot Dog (Watch Me Eat) – The Detroit Cobras
6. My Love is a Flower – Jonathan Richman
7. Chemistry Set – Suburbs
8. Bird on a Wire – Leonard Cohen
9. Barely Legal – The Strokes
10. Altar Boy – Tom Waits

Fun list, maybe I could be a DJ for The Current. What’s your top ten?

January 25, 2008

Friday Random Top 10

My desire to play every one of the nearly 7000 songs on my I-pod is coming to an end. I have around 300 songs left and hopefully this weekend I can finish them up. Wish me luck! Here's this week's top 10...

1. Please Don't be Gentle With Me - Minutemen
2. Are You a Hypnotist? - Flaming Lips
3. Little One - Beck
4. Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own - U2
5. Oh Sheila - Prince
6. Los Angeles - X
7. The Willing Conscript - Pete Seeger
8. Please Don't Go - K.C. and the Sunshine Band
9. All the Things She Gave Me - Waterboys
10. In The Real World - Roy Orbison

O.k. that's diverse. Not sure if I can glean a theme with this one. What's your top 10?

January 18, 2008

Friday Random Top 10

Quite a weekend coming up. I'm looking at Huckabee winning South Carolina and Obama winning Nevada. Cloverfield opens today, NFL Conference Championships (Patriots, Packers btw), Gophers bballers host Michigan State and colder than a witches teat. Must kick it all off by going to Uptown Chipotle for a Burrito with Shane, Cheesehead, and SBG.

Here's this week's Top 10:

1. Vamos (Live) – Pixies
2. Lawyers Guns and Money – Warren Zevon
3. Apple Tree – Wolfmother
4. Pleasure Seeker – Social Distortion
5. Superstar – Sonic Youth
6. Never Loved A Man – Aretha Franklin
7. It’s Not Over Yet – Klaxons
8. Dumb – Nirvana
9. Do the Ostrich – Neal Pollack Invasion
10. Ugly – Violent Femmes

Looks like another episode of be a college DJ for a day, but a fun list nonetheless. What's your top 10?

January 17, 2008

Dylan at Newport

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I received the Dylan at Newport DVD for Christmas and if you are a Dylan fan it is absolutely fascinating. It’s a little over an hour long and shows Dylan’s multiple performances at the 1963, 1964, and 1965 Newport Folk Festival. Of course everyone knows the story of Dylan “going electric? at the 1965 Newport Fest, and the DVD shows that moment, but there are other key points in Dylan’s career shown on the DVD.

The DVD is so interesting because we get to see a snippets of Bob Dylan from when he was a little-known folkie to the time when he was verging on superstardom and Like a Rolling Stone was entering into the public conscience.

The DVD opens with Dylan’s performances in 1963. At this time he’s not well known except for a few old-line folkies in Greenwich Village and Cambridge. This is the Dylan that was still aping Woody Guthrie, wearing workshirts and dirty boots. This was actually Dylan’s introduction to a larger audience as Joan Baez, who at the time was the queen of folk music, invites Dylan on stage during her set to sing one of Dylan’s “message? songs. There are a couple of other scenes of Dylan performing at one of the myriad of workshops that were part of the Festival.

By 1964, Dylan was getting notice beyond the cafes of Greenwich Village and was popular for his protest songs such as Blowing in the Wind. We get to hear a version of Mr. Tambourine Man that was sung before it was ever released. We also get to see how Dylan is starting to impact popular culture as a number of other Newport participants are performing Dylan songs. The 1964 section ends with an absolutely stunning version of Dylan singing Chimes of Freedom. Dylan just throws himself into the performance and you get goosebumps at how good it is. The audience felt the same as they literally refuse to allow Odetta to take the stage as they keep on cheering for Dylan. You can see at this point that Dylan was becoming much bigger than the folk music genre that he was pigeonholed into.

Finally 1965, Dylan goes electric. By this time, Dylan had left behind the folkies and was performing Rock and Roll. Like a Rolling Stone had been out for a couple of weeks and was charging up the charts. Although he was still performing acoustic sets, he had also been working with a band playing electric sets as well. Besides the Beatles, there probably wasn’t a more popular musician. I’ve always loved the introduction to Dylan before the electric set, I think it’s Joan Baez (I could be wrong) and after a short introduction talking about “the voice of the generation" she ends her introduction with “you know him, he’s yours….Bob Dylan!?

Dylan comes out with the Paul Butterfield Blues band and is wearing a black leather jacket. The then tear into Maggie’s Farm. Lore has it that Pete Seeger tried to cut the electric cords with an axe because he claimed no one could hear the political lyrics due to the loud guitars. Problem is, at least for the DVD viewer, the words are quite clear. Now the recording could be from the mixing board so Seeger may be right, but the viewer can hear the lyrics. After Maggie’s Farm they do Like a Rolling Stone. After the performance you can hear booing, you can hear cheering too, but to the DVD viewer, there is booing.

God, how I wish they had a camera off stage because apparently it was chaos. The camera shows Paul Yarrow of Peter, Paul and Mary on-stage imploring the crowd the cheer for Bob to come back. Eventually Dylan does come back with an acoustic guitar and tears (or sweat) visibly streaming from his eyes. Dylan ends the performance with a strong version It’s All Over Now Baby Blue and the concert ends.

If you’re a Dylan fan and have even passing interest in Dylan’s performances at Newport, this DVD is a must. Some of the performances are truncated but it is still a thrill to see what has been described in thousands upon thousands of words. Dylan’s Newport performances are part of music history and it is a heady time for the millions of us who didn’t get to see those performances live but are still able to experience them.

Below is the You Tube of Dylan playing Maggies Farm at Newport 1965;


January 11, 2008

Friday Random Top 10

Man I thought I lost my I-pod, which would have been a major buzz kill. Alas, someone put it in a placxe it shouldn't be!! I'm obsessed with listening to every song on my I-Pod and I would have had to start over. Any way here's this week's top 10:

1. Hillbilly Drummer Girl - Young Fresh Fellows
2. Curtain Calls - Old 97s
3. Lucinda - Tom Waits
4. Sun of a Gun - Nirvana
5. Honey, I'm a Big Boy Now - Billy Bragg
6. San Quentin - Johnny Cash
7. Mystery's All Mine - Jules Shear
8. Blue Monn of Kentucky - Elvis Presley
9. What's Tickling You - Jack Logan
10. Tried to Hide - Hypstrz

Fun list, kinda obscure, but not really. This could sustain me on a car ride.

What's your top 10?

January 4, 2008

Rock Snob Venn Diagram

The discussion below about the relative merits (or lack thereof) of the latest Shin's album reminds me of this:

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Friday Random Top 10

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Wow! Obama puts the smackdown on HRC in Iowa. His victory speech was pretty good and if you were new to Barack Obama you had to be impressed. I see him rolling over the remaining candidates over next couple of weeks or so. If you want to see how enthused the D’s about their candidates over the R’s and their candidates, take a look at these numbers:

Iowa Caucus Democrat participants: 237,000
Iowa Caucus Republican participants: 115,000

If all votes were compiled together:

24.5% Obama
20.5% Edwards
19.8% Clinton
11.4% Huckabee

This week’s top 10:

1. Here Today – Beach Boys
2. I’m Always in Love – Wilco
3. Carolina Moon – Thelonious Monk
4. Rockin’ in the Free World – Neil Young
5. Always – Patsy Cline
6. Summerteeth – Wilco
7. Drop the Pilot – Joan Armatrading
8. Without a Trace – Soul Asylum
9. Sudden Stop – Kelly Hogan and the Pine Valley Cosmonauts
10. Car Song – Woody Guthrie

January 1, 2008

Ringing in the New Year with the Bodeans

I saw the Bodeans at the Fine Line New Years Eve which meant I spent my new years with more drunken Wisconsin-born 40 year old women who were pretending to be 30 that you could find this side of Eau Claire.

The deal at the Fine Line was $100 all inclusive which meant free food and open bar. The food wasn't that great but free booze (including call drinks and shots) now that's what I call ringing in the new year!!

We took a bus downtown and my wife staked out an excellent spot right at the stage while I checked our coats. Some sensitive singer-songwriter with long hair and 2 days beard sang some pretty good songs and then we got ready for the Bodeans.

At first I was drinking vodka tonics but I was closer to the bar that served only beer so I switched to Bud (after I had a Jagermeister shot). It took me about two hours to figure out to ask for more than one beer so I didn't have to leave my spot and fight the crowd as often.

The Bodeans were a lot of fun. They played all their fan faves and they put on a pretty good show. I saw the Bodeans at the 7th Street Entry in 1984 with about 50 people and that was a hot, sweaty, rockin show. So being this close some 23 years later gave me a minor mid-life crisis. It was weird to think that 23 years later I was seeing this same band again with them grayer and heavier but just as fun. Don't worry I snapped out of it.

Kudus goes out to a couple that were behind us. Early in the show the guy gave me a beer that I thought he just wanted set on the stage until he needed it. His wife/girlfriend got kinda obnoxious as the show went on (in a good way). I noticed his beer was empty and asked if he wanted his second one. He said it was for me because he knew his woman would act that way. I know it was free but a nice gesture nonetheless.

One other thing I overhead was pretty funny. As I was in the coat check line a rather buxom young lady handed her boyfriend about three other coats to check. The guy kinda complained about the three extra coats but took them. Another guy behind me said, "If my girlfriend was that racked out, I'd hold 10 coats if she wanted me to" Good stuff.

After the show, the wife picked up a Bodeans CD, we easily hailed a cab and got home to start nursing our soon to be coming hangovers

How was your new years?

December 30, 2007

Music 2007

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I really shouldn't be doing a 2007 music review as I didn't listen to a whole lot of new music but it's the end of the year, I have a blog, and I listen to music so here goes...

Soundtracks/Compilations: I did listen to a couple of Soundtracks this year. One I really enjoyed was from the movie Once. The movie was great and the music was integral to the story, heck it was the story. Fortunately the songs stand on their own outside the movie theater. Glen Hansard's spare compositions get under your skin. Highlights are Falling Slowly (which is the story of the movie) and When Your Mind's Made Up. The duets are nice too. Across the Universe was another soundtrack I listened to. Unfortunately it doesn't rate as high as Once. The movie was so visually stimulating it's hard to take these songs away from the movie. It comes across as another Beatles cover album. Speaking of Beatles cover albums, I also really enjoyed the Darfur album full of John Lennon songs. There were a lot of surprises here and I found myself coming back to this album time after time. Strong songs include U2's Instant Karma and Power to the People by the Black Eyed Peas. Definitely a keeper.

Rock: I got Neil Young's Chrome Dreams II just for buying two tickets to his Northrop concert. It was o.k. The two long rockers were pretty good. Probably not an album I'll listen to much in the future. Wilco's Sky Blue Sky was definitely one of the albums of the year. It had a real 70's vibe for me and Nels Cline's guitar work was jazzy cool. Jeff Tweedy was in fine vocal form and I really dug Either Way and On and On and On. The concert made me appreciate Impossible Germany, and Hate it Here is a great post break up song.

Alternative/Punk: Spoon got so much press that I just had to check them out and Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga was pretty damn good. I should be listening to more of Spoon and may check out their back catalog. Arcade Fire's album Neon Bible was treated as a lost Gospel. Of course it couldn't possibly exceed the praise but it's a pretty damn good album. The year's highlight for me was the Klaxon's Myths of the Near Future. Arty, Punky, nothing like you hear on the radio. This is the one to turn up real loud. Thanks Timmy B for turning me on to this. Radiohead's In Rainbows took a while to warm up to, but I'm really start to like it. Not as good as O.K. Computer (what is?) and I probably like Hail to the Thief better but still pretty damn cool. This band has set the bar so high we sometimes forget that most music pales in comparison to Radiohead's o.k. stuff (I'm talking to you Shane). Finally a disparaging word about the Shins' Wincing the Night Away. God that album sucked. I can't believe anyone likes this crap. Biggest pile of dung I've heard in a long long time.

Singles: Young Folks by Peter, Bjorn, and Young is by far the song of the year. Infectious tune, cool vibe, and kick ass whistling. Can't count how many times I heard random strangers whistling this groove. Close runner-up: Gone Gone Gone by Robert Plant and Allison Krause. What a cool country-infused song. I always turn it up when I hear this one. Almost close runner-up: Anyone Else But You by Michael Cera and Ellen Page. Closes Juno and is a perfect coda to a nice little movie. Can't help smiling listening to this one.

What were your 2007 music faves?

December 21, 2007

Friday Random Top 10

Jamie Lynn Spears Pregnant at 16!! A perfect end to a bad, bad year for low-talent celebrity females. May all paparazzi-friendly females get a 6 pack of underwear under the tree this year. With that, this week's Top 10:

1. End of the Day - Beck
2. Retreat - Minutemen
3. You Tell Me - Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
4. That's the Story of My Life - Velvet Underground
5. Believe Me Natalies - The Killers
6. Goodmorning Heartache - Billy Holiday
7. I'll be Gone - The Rumbles
8. Fool to Cry - Rolling Stones
9. Forgotten Works - Klaxons
10. Donald Lowes - Washboard Hank

What's your top 10?

December 14, 2007

Friday Random Top 10

Wow, Mitchell Report out on steroids in Baseball and our own RonDL White made this list. Of course he followed the Minnesota model of cheating and while still sucking (made famous by the Gophers Football team and Luther Darville).

Here's this week's top 10:

1. Homecoming/Death of St. Jimmy.... - Green Day
2. Slowhands - Interpol
3. New World - Soul Asylum
4. Macy's Day Parade - Green Day
5. 25 Minutes to Go - Johnny Cash
6. Blank Generation - Richard Hell and the Voidoids
7. Next Exit - Interpol
8. Raised Eyebrows - The Feelies
9. Day Tripper - The Beatles
10. Smokers - The Old 97's

What's your top 10?

December 11, 2007

Musical Covers

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Covers. We all know it’s a lazy way for a band to get some love from its audience. Take a familiar tune, either play it straight or give it a twist and you have a song that’s instantly loved by the fans. Some bands put out whole albums of covers, while other bands are popular solely due to a strategic release of a cover (I’m looking at you Lemonheads and your cover of Mrs. Robinson). But admit it, you know you love ‘em. There’s nothing better in concert when a band surprises by playing a cover. The more ironic or contrary to the band’s M.O. the better. That’s why people went nuts when the Replacements would play Heartbeat, it’s a Love Beat, by the DiFranco family.

Below are my favorite covers. There’s literally hundreds of covers out there so this is only a partial list. I’d love to hear from others of their favorite covers. Songs played in concert are o.k. but what I’m really looking for are covers that were released on an album or CD. With that, here are some of my favorite musical covers.

Top of the World – Shonen Knife. Off the If I was a Carpenter tribute album. This is a perfect example of a band putting a different spin on a cheesy song. Punk, poppy, it’s 3 minutes of per joy. Shonen Knife is a Japanese band who were singing the song phonetically and it shows. Guaranteed to put a smile on your face.

Hurt – Johnny Cash. I could do a whole post on Johnny Cash covers. This is probably the most famous. Johnny takes a song about self-loathing drug abuse and turns it into a song about end-of-life regrets.

Under My Thumb – Social Distortion. Takes the Rolling Stones song and adds muscle. Instead of Mick boasting, Mike Ness is angry, sings as if this was his last resort in trying to control his wayward woman.

Stop Your Sobbin’ – The Pretenders. Takes the Kinks hit and polishes it up. The song was such a contrast to the revved up songs on the first Pretenders album. When people talk about Chrissy Hynde as typlifying the Madonna and the Whore, this is the song that clinches the Madonna part.

8 Miles High – Husker Du. Takes the psychedelic song and adds layers of punked up guitars. Instead of a heady psychedelic dream, it’s a metal maelstrom of a bad trip.

It’s All Over Now Baby Blue – Grateful Dead. From the Masked and Anonymous Soundtrack. Grateful Dead in full freak mood playing an absolutely gorgeous Dylan song. I practically want to cry every time I hear it.

Smells Like Teen Spirit – Tori Amos. File under “how could she!? The classic play loud song rendered to a single piano and solo singer. Not only does the song hold up, it casts the original in a different light.

Sweet Jane – Cowboy Junkies. Captures the essence of what Lou Reed was trying to say. Surpasses the original by a mile.

Black Diamond – The Replacements. It’s pretty astonishing to think how radical it was for a “punk? band to put a Kiss cover on an album in 1984. Showed that the Replacements were not just a punk band but had influences from all over the musical spectrum.

I Fought the Law – The Clash. A much beefier version of the 50’s classic. The Clash’s rendered this song impossible to improve and retired it from being attempted as a cover forever.

Rhinestone Cowboy – Soul Asylum. From the live album at the Grand Forks prom. Dave Pirner sings with such conviction that you know he’s lived everyone one of those verses.

White Sport Coat – The Gear Daddies. A cheesy version of a very cheesy song. The Gear Daddies reveals the inanity of this song by out-sapping it.

Dr. Wu – The Minutemen. The old Steely Dan song with Mike Watt and D. Boon sing/talking the chorus in two different speakers. Such a different take on a standard song that you will be floored. By far my favorite cover of all time.

Honorable Mention goes out to Luther Wright and the Wrongs who released a note-by-note country version of Pink Floyd’s The Wall. All the between song patter is replicated and every song is played straight but with fiddles, slide guitars and twangy vocals.

What are some of your favorite covers?

December 7, 2007

Friday Random Top 10

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Twins weren't able to swing a deal for Johan Santana this week. I think the Twins should trade Johan because I don't want them hamstrung with one person making 25 percent of the payroll. The Timberwolves showed us that isn't a good way to run a team. However, the Twins need to get super high value for Johan so they need to wait until they get the right deal. What really concerned me is that Detroit was able to get Cabrera and Willis by trading only prospects. Time was the Twins had lots of prospects, they don't any more (except for a few pitchers). Detorit is mortgaging it's future for wins now and the Twins are building for the future. It's hard to say which way is better. Time will tell.

With that, here's this week's top 10:

1. Blues Mary - The Geardaddies
2. I am...I Said - Neil Diamond
3. The Man in Black - Johnny Cash
4. I'm Always in Love - Wilco
5. I Want to be the Boy - The White Stripes
6. Eyesight to the Blind - The Who
7. Girl Wants to be with the Boys (live) - The Talking Heads
8. Massive Nights - The Hold Steady
9. Man of Constant Sorrow - The Soggy Bottom Boys
10. Toolmaster of Brainerd - Trip Shakespeare

I swear sometimes my I-Pod wants to be a college radio station programmer. Today was one of those days.

November 30, 2007

Friday Random Top 10

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?

November 28, 2007

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.

November 16, 2007

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?

November 9, 2007

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?

November 5, 2007

30 Favorite Albums - Recap

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

November 2, 2007

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?

October 30, 2007

30 Best Loved Albums - Pinkerton/Make Believe

2007 will bring the 30th anniversary of my first rock concert (Kiss, December 2, 1977 – Metropolitan Sports Center). In honor of that momentous event I have decided to use this blog to review my 30 best loved albums. They will not be in any order or progression but I will try to review them musically and why they mean so much to me. I’ll also note if they made the Definitive 200 List. With that on to #30 of the list...

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30. Weezer - Pinkerton (1996)/Make Believe (2005)

O.k. so I cheated. I’m including 2 albums as one favorite album but I have always seen these two album as inexorably linked: At their core they are basically about love, sex, and relationships. However they were written and performed nearly 10 years apart and one can see the maturity, humility, and weariness that a decade has wrought on Rivers Coumo. The albums deal with the same issues but taken from a different perspective, a perspective I think most of us would recognize: Having a stable and loving relationship is much better than having numerous and various romantic or sexual conquests.

When Pinkerton first came out in 1996 it was considered a big disappointment. Fresh off the heels of the “Blue? album, which included the novelty hit and video Buddy Holly, Weezer’s second album seemed to be a classic sophomore slump effort. There wasn’t a quirky hit like Buddy Holly or The Sweater Song and the first released single El Scorcho was musically hard to listen, sing along or dance to. In fact the whole album had a harder edge to it and some of the songs seemed to be in a minor key, which also made it difficult to immediately embrace. The album’s negative reception was hard on the band and it took a five years for Weezer to get back into the studio.

Make Believe (2005) found Weezer in a different place. The band had returned to the studio and although their releases were sparse (2 albums over the past 5 years) the band were critic’s darlings, had an enthusiastic fan base, and was generally considered a well-received, mid-level rock act. Pinkerton’s reputation had only grown with time and now was considered a forgotten classic. Some critics had even considered it one of the best albums of the 1990’s. Make Believe generated some buzz as the first single Beverly Hills was all over the radio and TV. Reaction to the album was mixed as it seemed that critics and fans either loved it or hated it. A tour in support of the album was quite successful and was enthusiastically received by Weezer fans.

The love/relationship songs on Pinkerton are written from the perspective of someone immature in handling relationships. As young men, however, instead of showing vulnerability, we tend to act cocky, that it doesn’t matter, there’s always another chick to conquer. The singer is befuddled, as all men are when dealing with the opposite sex, but it’s covered by boastfulness. Tired of Sex is a classic example. The song is about how much tail he’s getting and that it’s all so boring. He’s both boasting and wanting something more. Getchoo is a song about a guy who’s done his girl wrong but now surprised she’s not coming back. Why Bother takes it one step backward: He knows he’s going to get hurt in the end, why even start the relationship. It’s just not worth it. It’s a tact many young guys take when deciding whether to enter into a relationship or continue to hang with the guys.

Vulnerability does sneak in toward the end of the album. Across the Sea is about a fan in Japan who would be a perfect girlfriend if she didn’t live so far away. Pink Triangle is about falling in love with someone who is unavailable (in this case a lesbian). This song contains the classic line “Everyone’s a little queer, why can’t she be a little straight.? Finally the album’s second to last song the singer finally finds someone he can settle down with, it’s a little nerve wracking, he doesn’t want to get his heart broke. The last verse really sums it up:

I'm shaking at your touch/I like you way too much/My baby, I'm afraid I'm falling for you/And I'd do about anything to get the hell out alive/Or maybe I would rather settle down with you.

Make Believe finds the singer 9 years older and much more mature about love and relationships. The second song lays this out quite clearly. Even though the relationship is a rocky one, instead of giving up or having a who cares attitude, the singer is saddened, he considers it a pity they should be loving each other, not hating on each other. Hold Me and Peace are about the need and desire for close physical relationships. The songs Damage in Your Heart and Pardon Me are from the perspective from a guy who has done his lover wrong. However, instead of being surprised at his lovers response, he is contrite, apologizes, and begs for forgiveness, asking his lover to put aside the damage in her heart. It comes from a guy who realizes that this may be his last shot at love and that he’s not going to give up so easily.

My Best Friend really sums up what this album is saying about relationships. It’s one thing to have a companion or a sexual partner. Those are important, but having someone as a best friend, one you can love, depend on, share with is the highest order of love. The boastfulness is gone, the confused immature boy of Pinkerton is no more. Make Believe finds a lover who is still flawed, still makes mistakes, but one who realizes that love is precious, that it takes work, and that in the end it makes the relationship that much deeper and meaningful. Because these two albums reflect perfectly how someone matures and grows as they seek love, Pinkerton and Make Believe are one of my 30 favorite albums.

What do you think of Pinkerton or Make Believe?

Place on the Definitive 200 List: Not on the List.

October 26, 2007

Friday Random Top 10

Well the T-wolves suprised me and actually pulled of a decent trade. I never thought they'd ever be able to dump Mark Blount's bloated contract. Hopefully they can buy out or trade Walker. We aren't going to see a lot of wins this year but I think the plan is good. Start from scratch with a bunch of young pups, horde draft pics and grow a fun, competative team. Not sure if McHale can pull it off, but at least they're heading in the wrong direction. Also note to Greet Machine. I'd say the verdict is in on that Celtics trade that sent Wally to Boston: Failure, absolute failure.

With that, here's this week's top 10:

1. Ready For Love/After Lights - Mott the Hoople
2. Three Girl Rhumba - Wire
3. The Piano has been Drinking - Tom Waits
4. Lonely - Jack Logan
5. Confusion - New Order
6. 14 Cheerleader Coldfront - Guided by Voices
7. Don't Talk to Strangers - Chris Gaylord
8. Depression - Black Flag
9. Some Against You (live) - The Pixies
10. Indecision Time - Husker Du

Wow, that list was pretty obscure. Nice change of pace.

What's your top 10?

October 22, 2007

30 Best Loved Albums - Let's Go Scare Al

2007 will bring the 30th anniversary of my first rock concert (Kiss, December 2, 1977 – Metropolitan Sports Center). In honor of that momentous event I have decided to use this blog to review my 30 best loved albums. They will not be in any order or progression but I will try to review them musically and why they mean so much to me. I’ll also note if they made the Definitive 200 List. With that on to #29 of the list...

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29. Gear Daddies - Let's Go Scare Al (1988)

Besides having the coolest name for an album ever (well maybe one behind The Replacement’s Tim) and having the saddest, scariest looking clown to ever grace an album cover, Let’s Go Scare Al is a classic album full of countryish songs about loveable losers, drinking, small towns, heartbreak, drinking, and drinking. An album like this could only be performed by Minnesotans: Its unpretentious, simple, self-deprecating, and chock full of meaning behind it’s sparse vocabulary.

I almost included both Let’s Go Scare Al and Billy’s Live Bait as one review because they are similar albums covering similar stories. The music doesn’t change much between the two albums nor does the subject matter. But I landed squarely with Let’s Go Scare Al, because of the album name (especially as a debut album) and because it really introduced the Gear Daddies to a broader audience (they had been playing in local bars for a good year or so before this album came out). Now some 20 years after it’s been released we still look forward to the occasional reunion show by the band.

As I mentioned above, musically these songs are pretty simple. It’s basic country rock with no outstanding guitar or vocal work. Structurally the songs are pretty simple as well with the time-tested verse 1, chorus, verse 2, chorus, bridge, verse 3 (or repeat verse 1) and chorus organization. What makes the songs special is the songwriting. Even if you haven’t actually lived what’s being described in the song, you can identify with what the singer is saying. For instance Statue of Jesus opens with this verse:

I’m sittin’ downtown cryin’ ‘neath the statue of Jesus
Both of us so lonely and cold, hope no one can see us
I know I’m drunk here but I don’t think that he cares
Surely he must understand these crosses that I bear
So I’m sittin’ downtown cryin’ ‘neath the statue of Jesus

Now, I’ve never sat under a statue of Jesus crying, but if I ever did, I’m pretty sure that song would sum up pretty how I felt. Heavy Metal Boyz is another song that describes perfectly what it is like being a teenager living in a small town, whether it’s a rural area or a suburb. I’m sure there are many, many women who can identify with Boys Will Be Boys and tell me one person who hasn’t Drank so Much that They Just Feel Stupid?

After all these songs of too much drinking, lives gone astray, broken hearts, and shitty jobs the singer hasn’t given up. The last song, Strength, has the singer asking for strength to do what’s right, to “change this fucked up life of mine.? Surely if the singer can still want to change things, to make things better, so can we. We don’t know if he’ll get there but at least he’s trying.

It’s an album that is still played a lot in my car, on my I-pod, in the house. It’s an album that can get people out on the dance floor or in a sing-along at a party. It’s an album that binds us together as we sing the songs in one voice, look at each other and say... “been there.? For those reasons, Let’s Go Scare Al is one of my 30 favorite albums.

What do you think of the Gear Daddies?

Place on the Definitive 200 List: Not on the List.

October 19, 2007

Friday Random Top 10

Two links today. First Revielle Music has a great review of the new Radiohead album In Rainbows and discusses the issue of songs v. Albums. Good discussion and makes we question whether I should be doing Friday Top 10 lists. Link is here.

Slate.com has a great response to a New Yorker article about the lack of "soul" in Indy Rock. Link is here. Otherwise here's your top 10:

1. Momentum - Aimee Mann
2. Eight Miles High - Husker Du
3. Burned - Neil Young
4. Game of Pricks - Guided By Voices
5. We Can Work It Out - The Beatles
6. Birds and Ships - Billy Bragg and Wilco
7. Mamas Boy - The Ramones
8. It's So Obvious - Wire
9. That's Really Super, Supergirl - XTC
10. Celebrated Summer - Husker Du

Wow! Two Husker Du songs. What's your top 10?

October 16, 2007

30 Best Loved Albums - Rust Never Sleeps

2007 will bring the 30th anniversary of my first rock concert (Kiss, December 2, 1977 – Metropolitan Sports Center). In honor of that momentous event I have decided to use this blog to review my 30 best loved albums. They will not be in any order or progression but I will try to review them musically and why they mean so much to me. I’ll also note if they made the Definitive 200 List. With that on to #28 of the list...

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28. Neil Young - Rust Never Sleeps (1979)

Rust Never Sleeps is one of those albums that came out exactly at the right time in my musical life. Summer of 1979, 16 years old, the summer before going into 11th Grade. You can drive, you have a crappy minimum-wage job putting a couple of bucks in your pocket, you’re starting to figure out girls just a little bit. This album was definitely a soundtrack for all of that and for 11th grade, which is the last fun year before everything gets all serious.

Recorded as a live album with acoustic on one side and electric guitars on the other, Rust Never Sleeps not only introduced me to Neil’s music, which I still love, but also to the folk/country side of music as well. The acoustic side of course starts off with My My Hey Hey which has the classic, “Rock and Roll Will Never Die? line, this song was all over the radio and the line “rust never sleeps? really hit home with me: Everything, even ourselves, is always decaying. You can’t stop it, only deal with it. Heady stuff for a 16-17 year old but an acknowledgement I still live by. Thrasher is just a cool country-rock song with great visuals of rural life. The highlight of side one is Pocahontas a spacy song with Native American imagery and intricate lyrics.

Side two of course is the electric guitar side and Powderfinger was a fave. We were shocked when we read the lyrics that the singer actually dies at the end of the song. That just didn’t happen in rock songs. Sedan Delivery was about as close to punk I would get until 1981 and was a full-out rocker with Crazy Horse. Welfare Mothers was kind of a dumb song that seemed to be added as filler. The album ends with the electronic version of Hey Hey My My which again Crazy Horse just lays into. A fun and appropriate ending to a very cool album.

I definitely wore out this album from overplaying from 1979-1981 and picked up the CD shortly after I switched to CD’s. It was a big part of my high school years and in my 12th grade year book, one of the items I listed under my picture was “Rust Lives!? It’s a great album that was aged well and Rust Never Sleeps is a well deserved entry in my favorite 30 albums of all time.

What did you think of Rust Never Sleeps?

Place on the Definitive 200 List: Not on the List.

October 12, 2007

Friday Random Top 10

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Al Gore shares/wins Nobel Peace Prize. It seems like the new line of attack on Al Gore is that he is a “hypocrite.? He preaches about global warming but then has a life style that consumes much more resources than the average person. Besides the fact that he purchases carbon credits to somewhat offset his life style (a complicated and hard to explain rationale I admit) this line argument totally ignores the impact Gore has had on the global warming debate. Through Gore’s efforts, the issue of global warming has gone way beyond the “is it really happening stage? to “what do we do about it stage.? Heck even the Bush Administration has made some baby steps toward acknowledging global warming. George W. Bush always says he believes history will find that his actions were correct. I have a strong feeling that history will not look kindly at his turning a blind eye to the issue of global warming. With that, this week’s random top 10:

1. Pay Me My Money Down – Bruce Springsteen
2. We Want the Airwaves – The Ramones
3. My Hero – Foo Fighters
4. I’m Not Angry – Elvis Costello
5. I Don’t Want to Fall in Love – She Wants Revenge
6. Tony’s Theme (Live) – Pixies
7. Stakalee – Frank Hutchison
8. Good Ol’ Mountain Dew – Bob Dylan & Johnny Cash
9. Salome – Old 97s
10. First Night – The Hold Steady

October 11, 2007

Wilco@Northrop: Okay alright okay alright!!

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UPDATE: Click here for link to cool concert pics!

I am not sure if I can come up with superlatives to describe the Wilco concert Wednesday night at Northrop Memorial Auditorium without sounding like some 9-year old girl describing her first Backstreet Boys concert. Unfortunately grown up descriptors don’t work either: “Kick-Ass? is too commonplace. “Transcendent? is too spiritual. “Entertaining? is too limited. “Sublime? is too understated. Even though all four words adequately describe the show, I eventually just fall back to my 9-year old vocabulary with the word “Awesome? that keeps sticking to my mind (well that and “okay? -- which is an inside joke for those who were there).

If somehow I could only show the look on my friend Jeff L.’s face after the concert, which could be described simply as beatific, then I would be able to adequately express how good Wilco was to those who weren’t there. First, Wilco is rapidly becoming The Beatles of our time, not with their impact on popular culture of course, but by adventuring out musically to places where few bands dare to explore. Second, the venue at Northrop Auditorium was perfect for a Wilco show. The sound was outstanding: One could easily hear each individual instrument; Jeff Tweedy’s voice was top notch; and it was loud enough to be a rock and roll show but not so loud you couldn’t “hear? the music.

The addition of Nels Cline to the band was truly inspired. It’s his guitar work on Wilco’s latest album Sky Blue Sky that you notice but in concert one can see how amazing his guitar playing actually is. Time after time when a song was done I would look over to my 12-year old and the both of us would just be shaking our heads. I think Charlie described it best: “His guitar solos were insane!? Kotche’s drum work and the rest of the band were solid anchors. As mentioned above, Jeff Tweedy was in fine voice, and after not even acknowledging the crowd until the middle of the 4th song, was quite chatty and personable the remainder of the show.

The song list (below) included at least one song from all their albums with a focus on Sky Blue Sky and Yankee Foxtrot Hotel and a Being There-heavy (and long) encore set. A few songs from A Ghost is Born were played too. Gary Louris from the Jayhawks played lead on California Stars, which was really cool. Most songs included extended guitar solos heavy on the distortions and feedback so if you were so inclined, you could easily get your freak on.

It’s hard to say if I’ve ever experienced a better concert. Some shows I’ve seen have rocked out more (Green Day), were crazier (Flaming Lips), were more inspirational (U2), were more surprising (Rock for Change), or were just a big party (Urban Guerrillas circa 1985) but none included all those attributes and then wrapped them up in a nice little box and tied it with music that was in a word “Awesome!?

Did you go to the show?

Set List:
Sunken Treasure
You Are My Face
Side With The Seeds
I Am Trying To Break Your Heart
Pot, Kettle, Black,
War on War
Handshake Drugs
Impossible Germany
Sky Blue Sky
Too Far Apart
Jesus, etc.
Hate It Here
Walken
I'm The Man Who Loves You
Hummingbird
Shot In The Arm

Encore:
Red Eyed and Blue->I Got You
Outtasite (Outta Mind)
Forget The Flowers
California Stars (w/ Gary Louris on lead)
Heavy Metal Drummer
Spiders

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October 10, 2007

DRM - in its last days?

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A while I back I talked about DRM (Digital Rights Management) and the future of recorded music. Since that time there has been a number of events that seem to point toward the day of DRM-free music and perhaps even music available for all at a low or no fee. Since my original post we have seen:

1. Apple is making some songs available DRM-free. The songs are of a higher sonic quality (128 v. 96 kpb) however they cost more ($1.29 v. $0.99/song)

2. Warner Brothers have announced that they will make their entire library available DRM-free.

3. Amazon has established a song-purchasing site similar to I-Tunes. All songs are DRM-free and are $0.89 per song. Although Amazon doesn’t have the library that I-Tunes has, it does have 2,000,000 songs.

4. A woman from Duluth was ordered to pay over $9,000 each for the 26 songs she was caught illegally downloading. The backlash over this outrageous sum has cast a spotlight in the recording industry’s continued practice of suing random customers.

5. Trent Reznor has left his recording label and promises to provide any future recordings in a downloadable format.

6. Radiohead is allowing fans to download their new album, In Rainbows, from the Radiohead website. The cost: You name the price. The album will be made available today (October 10th) and right now the website is virtually impossible to access. If Radiohead moves thousands of albums via download, look for other artists to try something similar.

The problem for the recording industry is that the issue of DRM-free, cheap, easily downloadable songs has left the barn. There's no going back. Instead of suing its customers, the recording industry needs to figure out how to become a provider of downloadable music. The Radiohead example is going to be closely watched by all players in the music industry. If the album is a hit, more artists will look to move away from their labels. It's an exciting time.

If I ever am able to access the Radiohead site I will report on my experience. Anyone else out there downloading free music or the new Radiohead album?

October 8, 2007

30 Best Love Albums - Kiss Alive!

2007 will bring the 30th anniversary of my first rock concert (Kiss, December 2, 1977 – Metropolitan Sports Center). In honor of that momentous event I have decided to use this blog to review my 30 best loved albums. They will not be in any order or progression but I will try to review them musically and why they mean so much to me. I’ll also note if they made the Definitive 200 List. With that on to #27 of the list...

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27. Kiss - Alive! (1975)

It would only make sense that since this odyssey of reviewing my 30 best loved albums was born out my desire to commemorate the 30th Anniversary of my first concert (Kiss at Met Center December 2nd, 1977) that the album Kiss Alive! would make the list of 30 favorite albums. As it was Kiss Alive! played an integral part of my musical growing up. In 1976 the popular musical landscape was a lot different than it is now. As a 13-year old 7th grader, music wasn’t really marketed to me. Sure kids with older siblings or hip parents might be into the Stones or Led Zeppelin but for the vast majority of early or pre-teens, bands like Chicago and Barry Manilow were what was popular. In fact my first two albums were by Eric Carmen and Melissa Manchester. Dweeby for sure but pretty much the norm. Contrast that today when 3 years ago Green Day’s American Idiot was on every 4th grade boy’s fave list and a whole genre of kiddy punk is marketed to ever younger pre-teens.

Then came Kiss Alive! I was vaguely aware of the band Kiss and the makeup and fire-eating antics but it wasn’t until Kiss Alive! that I was really introduced to the band. As it was, I came across them like a lot of other kids: a friend’s older brother was into them. The outrageous costumes, the blood spewing, the individual characters were cool of course but that only goes so far. It was the music that won me over and legions of other suburban teen boys. They sang about the same general topics that all popular bands sing about: sex, drugs, and rock and roll, however, it had a harder edge and a little bit of “wheee? to go with the “grrr.?

Kiss Alive! is basically live versions of band’s highlights from their first three, generally lackluster-selling, albums. Deuce and Strutter kick off the album and are pretty decent rockers. Paul Stanley’s patter between songs is usually about drinking and partying, however it’s the last 3rd of the album where the songs really take off. Rock Bottom and Black Diamond are pretty good rockers but then after a long introduction by Paul Stanley, the band lets loose with Cold Gin. Ace’s guitar work on this song is very cool and I always wanted to be able to play the guitar solo myself (to no avail). Rock and Roll All Night which became Kiss’ signature song and then Let Me Go Rock and Roll end the concert and the album. The song placement shows how early in their career this album came out as Rock and Roll All Night has long since become the song’s closing song.

Over the years it has come out that the band’s producers augmented the live sound of the album by amping up the crowd reaction. This was a big disappointment as one of the key features of the album is that it sounds live, as if you were there. To think the crowd reaction was added later was like finding out that the curvy girl at school stuffed her sweater. Later there’s been reports that not only was the audience reaction added to the album but that many other parts of the concert were dubbed in, including vocals and some of Peter Criss’ drum work. There still is debate whether or not additional studio work actually happened. I tend to think that it wasn't overdubbed (except for minor mistakes, bad mics,etc) because the band’s label was broke at the time and they probably didn’t have the resources to pay for the band to basically re-create its concert in the studio.

Kiss Alive! was the album that pointed my in the right musical direction. No more Eric Carmen for me! Pretty soon after discovering this album I was all over the Who, Led Zeppelin, David Bowie, the Stones, etc. Little did I know those bands were slowly becoming irrelevant due to other musical stirrings in England and NYC but it would take me another 5 years to discover that. However for saving my soul for rock and roll and providing the reason to attend my first rock and roll concert, Kiss Alive! is one of my 30 best loved albums.

What do you think of Kiss Alive!

Place on the Definitive 200 List: Not on the List.

October 5, 2007

Friday Random Top 10

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One of my life's goals is to see an ass-kickin' country-rock band in some dusty Texas roadhouse where the beer is flowing and the beer bottles are flying. Last night (Thursday) I came a little bit closer as I saw The Gourds at the Golden West Saloon on historic Route 66 in Albuquerque. Now the Golden West Saloon isn't a Texas Roadhouse but it is an old timey joint with a tin ceiling, grungy toilets, and a long bar. It's a place where Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarty undoubtedly stopped at on their cross-country travels. The Gourds, from Austin Texas, absolutely kicked ass!! We're talking loud, fast, country rock with a full complement of slide guitar, mandolin, organ, accordian, and guitars. A lot of fun. With that, live from Albuquerque is this week's top 10:

1. Happy When It Rains - Jesus and Mary Chain
2. Bookends - Simon and Garfunkel
3. Time Heals - Geardaddies
4. The Civil Defense Sign - Mark Spoelsta
5. The Denial Twis - The White Stripes
6. San Antonio Rose - Patsey Cline
7. I am A Child - Neil Young
8. Nervous Breakdown - Eddie Cochran
9. Everybody's Tryin' to be my Baby - Johnny Cash
10. Hurricane - Golden Smog

What's Your Top 10?

October 1, 2007

30 Best Loved Albums - Rum, Sodomy, and the Lash

2007 will bring the 30th anniversary of my first rock concert (Kiss, December 2, 1977 – Metropolitan Sports Center). In honor of that momentous event I have decided to use this blog to review my 30 best loved albums. They will not be in any order or progression but I will try to review them musically and why they mean so much to me. I’ll also note if they made the Definitive 200 List. With that on to #26 of the list...

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26. The Pogues - Rum, Sodomy, and the Lash (1985)

By 1985, punk rock was storming off in all sorts of musical directions. There was proto-punk, country-punk, art-punk, dance-punk, and hardcore-punk. One of the more interesting sub-genres was Irish or Celtic-Punk. Irish Punk was thought of as Irish folk songs or Irish folk-inspired songs revved up to a punk like speed. Locally, the band Boiled in Lead was a fantastic purveyor of traditional Irish music with a punk sensibility. Nationally, however, The Pogues were front in center and Rum, Sodomy, and the Lash was the album you had to have if you were into Irish or Punk music.

The Pogues were a perfect Irish band: You had the lead singer, Shane MacGowan - skinny, horrible teeth, hard drinking, gravelly voice; a band with upwards of 7 to 10 members, depending on who was sober or healthy at the time, and a bunch of traditional Irish songs. The album was a blast with songs about drinkin', industrial city living, Jessie James, war, lovers who left, and drinking. The album kicks off with The Sickbed of Cuchulainn an Irish romper sing-along. Dirty Old Town is exactly about what the title says: what it is like living in a old industrial-era city that is crumbling around you. The songs open with the classic line: "I met my love by the gas works wall..." You get the picture.

Other favorites include Sally MacLennane which again is fast, fiesty sing-along. I'm sure this was sung at many going away parties. The highlight of the album is The Band Played Waltzing Matilda which describes an Australian's horrifying experience fighting the Turks in WWI. One of the strongest anti-war songs ever written and it makes me think sadly of our soldiers coming back from Iraq with broken bodies, never again able to dance.

The album is a fun, singable, danceable ride. The musicians are top notch and the songs are a great combination of old and new Irish songs. A bunch of these songs would be perfect for any party tape, wedding dance, or just to listen to to get the blood pumpin'. For that reason, Rum, Sodomy, and the Lash is one of my 30 best loved albums.

What do you think?

Place on the Definitive 200 List: Not on the List.

September 28, 2007

Friday Random Top 10

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Wow! Last weekend of MLB and the National League is a mess! Cubs are in the middle of their classic choke job, Mets and Phillies tied for first. But I wanted to show some love to the Colorado Rockies. They’ve won 11 games in a row and are right in the mix for the playoffs. The Rockies are a team run like they way we want the Twins to be run: Middle of the pack payroll, players coming up from the minors, good pitching, timely hitting. Matt Holliday, pictured above, is nearly leading the league in average and RBI's and is one of those players who if playing for New York or Boston would have a cool nickname be a household name. We should all root for the Rockies to make it to the playoffs.

Any here’s this week’s top 10, what’s yours?

1. What’s Wrong With Me? – X
2. Do as the Doukhobors Do – Pete Seeger
3. Are You My Flower? – The Carter Family
4. John Henry – Bruce Springsteen
5. Slipping (into Something) – The Feelies
6. My Hometown – Bruce Springsteen
7. Accidentally Like a Martyr – Warren Zevon
8. Jimmy Jazz – The Clash
9. Dear Prudence – The Beatles
10. Beanbag Chair – Yo La Tengo

September 26, 2007

Where Are They Now -- Urban Guerrillas??

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As someone who went to the University of Minnesota in the early- to mid-1980’s I was lucky enough to be present during the high point of the “Minneapolis Music Scene.�? Everyone knows about the Replacements, Husker Du, Soul Asylum, The Suburbs, etc. However there were a lot of other bands that didn’t get that level of national recognition, but were great bands anyway. I’m sure any college town/major metropolitan area has their share of them. One such band was the Urban Guerrillas.

A couple of months ago when I reviewed the Replacements Let It Be album as part of my ongoing 30 best loved albums series, the comments section quickly became a forum about the Urban Guerrillas. The biggest issue seemed to be that they basically disappeared – no web page extolling their virtues; albums never converted to CDs or .mps3’s; no reunion concert as a fund raiser from some poor musician’s medical bills. Lucky enough I knew someone who had their two albums on CD, ripped from the actual albums themselves.

The Urban Guerrillas were one of those perfect bar bands for people in their late teens and early twenties: alcohol and sex fueled dance music. Throw in a little politics and you have a perfect storm to create a nice little local following. The titles of their two albums really describe where they were coming from: Darwin’s Theory of Pelvic Revolution and Attack of the Pink Heat Seeking Moisture Missiles. Listening to the albums today brings back many fond memories seeing them live and just having a blast. Drinking beer and hooking up with members of the opposite sex went part and parcel with their shows. Although the albums are fun, they don’t do justice to what the band presented live.

Then they broke up and went on with the rest of their lives. Like I said googling Urban Guerrillas basically brings up nothing on the band. My pal Timmy the Freak and I were discussing this sad fact a while back and The Freak said that he wanted to start a web page dedicated to the Urban Guerrillas which I thought was a good idea. So this post is an opening salvo: Use the comments section to list your Urban Guerrillas story. Let us know if you have tapes of concerts or unreleased CDs. If you know where members of the bands are give us that information too, hopefully with this information we can develop a good web site dedicated to this fun band and who knows…. Maybe even a reunion show.

If interested in receiving a copy of the Urban Guerilla’s two albums drop me a line at freealonzo@comcast.net. Or leave your name and e-mail in the comments below.

UPDATE!!!!!

Both UG albums and the elusive "backyard" tape are now uploaded on archive.org. All three can be easily downloaded for free. Sound quality is pretty good too.

September 25, 2007

30 Best Loved Albums - The 2nd 30

2007 will bring the 30th anniversary of my first rock concert (Kiss, December 2, 1977 – Metropolitan Sports Center). In honor of that momentous event I have decided to use this blog to review my 30 best loved albums. They will not be in any order or progression but I will try to review them musically and why they mean so much to me. I’ll also note if they made the Definitive 200 List.

Before I start with my last five albums, I wanted to list the next 30 albums that didn't make the list. If I went to 60 albums this is what they would be.

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 – Sweatheart 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 Bollacks
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

Next week, the start of the last 5 albums!!

September 21, 2007

Friday Random Top 10

Here it is! Every Friday I will turn the I-Pod to shuffle and see what it spits out. This week's list:

1. Hoodoo Voodoo - Billy Bragg and Wilco
2. Postcard Blues - Cowboy Junkies
3. Go Ahead - Wire
4. House in Motion (live) - Talking Heads
5. My Oklahoma Home - Bruce Springsteen
6. And a Bang on the Ear - Waterboys
7. Turn on your Love Light - High Spirits
8. Daughter - Pearl Jam
9. Dimension - Wolfmother
10. You Make Me Feel like a Natural Woman - Aretha Franklin

What's your top 10?

September 16, 2007

30 Best Loved Albums - Murmur

2007 will bring the 30th anniversary of my first rock concert (Kiss, December 2, 1977 – Metropolitan Sports Center). In honor of that momentous event I have decided to use this blog to review my 30 best loved albums. They will not be in any order or progression but I will try to review them musically and why they mean so much to me. I’ll also note if they made the Definitive 200 List. With that on to #25 of the list...

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25. R.E.M – Murmur (1983)

It’s hard to describe how much a breath of fresh air Murmur was in 1983. Punk was a spent force and spandex clad hair bands were beginning their mighty popular rise, a force that wouldn’t be killed for over 10 years (thanks Nirvana!). As with most 20 year olds college kids at the time, I was discovering all the punk and post-punk I missed living as a teenager in suburban flyover land. However there wasn’t much that was new, that I could call my own. Then came Murmur.

To be honest, I don’t remember exactly where or when I first heard Murmur but I do remember being pretty much an early adapter of the band. It really was something that you never heard before. Finally a band that belonged to you and your friends and not to a bunch of snot nosed punks, self-important baby boomers, or long-haired hippies. Critics talked about “jangly? guitars like the Byrds but I never heard that. It was dreamy, atmospheric with lyrics that were indecipherable and the lyrics you could hear didn’t make any sense. Here is the first verse of Radio Free Europe:

Beside yourself if radio's gonna stay.
Reason: it could polish up the grey.
Put that, put that, put that up your wall
That this isn't country at all

Don’t worry Michael Stipe doesn’t know what it means either.

Any band can do dreamy and atmospheric but what makes someone want to listen over and over again is that the songs have to be good, even if you can’t understand the lyrics, and Murmur is full of good songs. Radio Free Europe was the big hit of course even if Cities 97 has played it to death. Pilgrimage, Talk About the Passion, and Shaking Through have always been favorites. Catapult has a perfect bass guitar and drum opening that’s never been done before or since. Michael Mills was the most accomplished musician at the time the album was recorded and you can tell as the bass work is exquisite. Michael Stipe’s voice really is a 4th instrument and the arcane lyrics add to the moodiness.

A great example of Stipe’s vocal work is in Talk about the Passion. During the end of the second verse there is a violin accompanying Peter Buck’s guitar, it repeats its refrain and then Stipe’s vocal humming comes in right with the violin and you literally cannot tell where the violin ends and the vocals begin. Truly an amazing song. Peter Buck’s guitar on Shaking Through is simple yet adds a complexity to the song as it compliments the vocals and a piano.

I’ve enjoyed this album for nearly 25 years and and I cannot even think of not having it for another 25, it’s simply that good. The songs have many layers and can be uplifting when you need a jolt or quiet when you needs some introspection time. You can focus on a specific musician or have the songs wash over you like a shower. For that reason, Murmur is one of my 30 favorite albums. What do you think of Murmur?

Place on the Definitive 200 List: Not on the List

September 14, 2007

Friday Random Top 10

Here it is! Every Friday I will turn the I-Pod to shuffle and see what it spits out. This week's list:

1. There There – Radiohead
2. The L&N Don’t Stop Here Anymore – Johnny Cash
3. Tommy Can You Hear Me? – The Who
4. Jailhouse Rock – Elvis Presley
5. Driver 8 – R.E.M.
6. West Texas Teardrops – Old 97’s
7. Don’t Know Yet – Husker Du
8. Fight Test – Flaming Lips
9. Soft Ground – Mott the Hoople
10. Georgia Stomp – Andrew & Jim Baxter


What's your top 10?

September 11, 2007

Flaming Lips @ The Myth

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What if I told you I went to a concert on Sunday night and the show opened with big yellow balloons filling the floor, yellow confetti falling from the ceiling in amounts that would concern the most blasé Fire Marshall, people dressed as space monsters and in Santa get-ups on the side of the stage, and the lead singer sporting hands the size of big screen TVs hugging other band members, the space monsters, and Santa outfit wearers? You’d probably say “whoa, next time don’t take that 4th hit of acid.? Or you could say, “so how was the Flaming Lips show??

Yes, The Flaming Lips at the Myth Nightclub, former site of a Bed Bath and Beyond, right next to the Ashley Furniture Super Store, a place perfect for a bunch of Oklahoma freaks, the ones who’s grandparents didn’t travel west to California during the dust storms, but remained on the farms to harvest the dust and battle the ‘cats. The band that has defied odds and have been around for over 20 years bombarding their fans with weird music and live shows that just about defy description.

When you go to a Flaming Lips show you know you’re in for a spectacle and Sunday’s show didn’t disappoint. Besides the jaw dropping opening, fans were equipped with lasers to shoot on stage. During one song, the lights went down and everyone pointed their lasers at a white-suited Wayne who was holding a mirror. The scene of 2000 lasers pointed at a mirror and reflected back was absolutely stunning. In addition, balloons the size of hotel laundry bags filled the air and complemented the video screens of squirrels wrestling, space monsters in cheerleader outfits dancing, a mic cam providing extreme close ups of Wayne’s face when he was talking, and enough confetti to welcome home Neil Armstrong.

So you ask ok the show was eye-popping but what about the music? Answer: Awesome. Below is a set list and for the most part was pretty good. I would have liked a few more from Transmissions From the Satellite Heart, which is one of my favorite albums, but what the heck that album is some 15 years old. Highlights for me included The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song, Yoshimi, Pompeii, and Free Radicals.

Ta Da!
Race For The Prize
Tapsmir
Free Radicals
Flight Test
Mountain Side
Vein Of Stars (with lasers!!)
Yoshimi (Low key version)
Riding To Work In The Year 2025
Pompeii
Yeah Yeah Yeah Song
Taps -> Waitin For A Superman
The WAND
Do You Realize??
E1: She Don’t Use Jelly
E2: Moonlight Mile

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Finally there was a strong message that came through all the madness and that was that it’s alright to have fun. It’s ok to let your hair down for a few hours, dance with some space monsters and bounce a bunch of balloons around. I think that’s the key to The Flaming Lips improbable two decades of popularity. They don’t take themselves seriously and you shouldn’t either. What can be better than being happy knowing that you’ve just spent a few hours listening to great music and collecting a pocketful of yellow confetti? It’s that pure joy of having fun that will change the world and even if it doesn’t, at least you can forget about all the world’s problems for a couple of fun-filled hours.

Who else went to the concert?

September 10, 2007

30 Best Loved Albums - More Songs About Buildings and Food

2007 will bring the 30th anniversary of my first rock concert (Kiss, December 2, 1977 – Metropolitan Sports Center). In honor of that momentous event I have decided to use this blog to review my 30 best loved albums. They will not be in any order or progression but I will try to review them musically and why they mean so much to me. I’ll also note if they made the Definitive 200 List. With that on to #24 of the list...

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24. Talking Heads – More Songs About Buildings and Food (1978)

As a follow up to their critically acclaimed but generally overlooked first album, the Talking Heads enlisted Brian Eno of Roxy Music to produce an album that would capture the Heads’ manic stylings and suffuse it with a funky dance beat. The end result was More Songs About Buildings and Food and an album that not only beat the dreaded “Sophomore Slump? but sent the Talking Heads off in a musical direction that would be much deeper explored in their follow-up albums Fear of Music and Remain in Light.

During the early to mid-80’s I listened to this album all the time. It was great headphone music and was great at parties. The album was solid from start to finish, had a hit everyone know with Take Me to the River, and was an album that generally guys and the ladies liked equally. As I started to transfer my music away from albums to CDs however, More Songs kind of got lost in the shuffle and besides hearing Take Me to the River on the radio, I probably didn’t even think about this album for a good 15-18 or years. By that time I was trying to fill my I-Pod with music and remembered how much I liked this album. It immediately became a must have.

I’ve always liked the Talking Heads rhythm section with Chris Frantz on drums and Tina Weymouth on bass guitar and Eno really showcases them in More Songs. This is one funky album and there isn’t a song that doesn’t have interesting drum work, highly compressed snares, or other percussional tricks. Tina anchors each song with a heavy base that typically overshadows the lead guitar. David Byrne’s lyrics are as geeky as ever and it’s this album that really cemented his reputation as a nerdy musical stylist.

Although the entire album is excellent, it’s the 4th track that really gets me. Warning Signs is a trippy song with dense lyrics and some real cool guitar work. The opening is classic as the bass and guitar take turn introducing the song and only after a good 65 seconds do the lyrics come in and they sound as though they are being sucked out of David Byrne’s mouth. The guitar in the song Artist Only has a cool punked up Velvet Underground riff while I always imagined that the next two songs, I’m Not In Love and Stay Hungry, were mainstays at trippy NYC art school parties where the booze, pills, and drugs were just as important to what was playing on the turntable or what you were wearing. Take Me to the River isn’t the strongest song on the album, but the most famous and is an excellent cover of the Al Green Motown standard.

The album ends with the song, Big Country and it has David Byrne in an airplane looking down at the country as he blandly describes the dull life that is going on below. The song is an indictment of consumerism in general and specifically a slam of generic modern day suburban life. The chorus is about as biting as any kiss off ever Bob Dylan sang (I wouldn’t live there if you paid me/I wouldn’t live there no ah sir-ee/I wouldn’t do things the way those people do/I wouldn’t live there if you paid me to). The song ends in baby-talk as David sings out goo goo ga ga ga in unison with Chris Frantz’ staccato drums.

As an album of full of great songs and an album that laid the groundwork for further Talking Heads greatness, More Songs about Buildings and Food deserves a place on my most beloved 30 albums. What do you think of the album or of the Talking Heads?

Place on the Definitive 200 List: Not on the List

September 7, 2007

Friday Random Top 10

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Here it is! Every Friday I will turn the I-Pod to shuffle and see what it spits out. This week's list:

1. The Street Beat - Charlie Parker
2. Fine & Mellow - Billie Holiday
3. When I Write the Book - Rockpile
4. You Can Never Hold Back Spring - Tom Waits
5. Start Me Up - Rolling Stones
6. Poor Poor Pitiful Me - Warren Zevan
7. Devil's Waitin' - Black Rebel Motorcycle Gang
8. There's a Doctor - The Who
9. She's Not You - Elvis Presley
10. Black Diamond - The Replacements

What's your top 10?

On an I-Pod note, Apple came out with their new I-Pod and redesign of their old line. Here's a decent review. The I-Touch looks cool, but $299 for 8GB? Seems a little steep. The new Ipod video with 80GB for $249 that would be awesome, that's a lot of songs. Also I don't like the new design of the Nano. In order to get a bigger screen, the device is wider. The look isn't as graceful as the old Nano's, and let's face it, design is part of Apple's desirability. I'll probably keep my 30gb I-Pod with 6,000 songs and about 5 or 6 gb remaining but the 80gb and 160gb I-Pod Classic with wireless looks like a winner.

September 4, 2007

30 Best Loved Albums - Transmissions from a Satellite Heart

2007 will bring the 30th anniversary of my first rock concert (Kiss, December 2, 1977 – Metropolitan Sports Center). In honor of that momentous event I have decided to use this blog to review my 30 best loved albums. They will not be in any order or progression but I will try to review them musically and why they mean so much to me. I’ll also note if they made the Definitive 200 List. With that on to #23 of the list...

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23. The Flaming Lips - Transmission from a Satellite Heart (1993)

The Flaming Lips have had such a long and storied recording career it’s hard to pick out an album as a favorite without igniting a huge debate. While many think The Soft Bulletin or Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots are The Lips’ best album, I come down strongly on Transmissions from the Satellite Heart. Other albums may have singular stronger or stranger songs, but as an entire album it’s Satellite Heart that I come back to time and time again. I go back not only for the weirdness but also for the fact that musically the entire album has a lot to love.

The Flaming Lips had been around for about 10 years with a couple of albums when Transmissions came out. They weren’t really that well known outside of their Oklahoma roots except among a small group of hard core fans who had come to love their weirdness. In 1993 however, the song She Don’t Use Jelly came out and was a big hit on “Alternative Rock Radio.? Suddenly the band was exposed to a whole new group of fans. Usually in cases like this a band's output can’t match the level of the “hit song? and fade back to obscurity. Not so with the Flaming Lips which continues to release albums and generating new fans. While not a band with mega-stardom, they are one of those bands that operates just under the pop-culture surface, recording albums that are hard to classify but loved nonetheless.

Transmissions starts with Turn It On, a straight ahead rocker that could have easily been a hit on par with Jelly. The Lips’ weirdness really comes out on the second track, Pilot Can at the Queer of God. Besides the nonsense name, the song contains a real chunky base riff, strange lyrics, and a bunch of studio craziness. In short a typical Flaming Lips song. The rest of the album has a bunch of trippy, fun songs that can be a perfect soundtrack to the end of a wild night or as a prelude to a night of partying. It’s one of those albums that works as a way to get a crowd riled up or to take a crowd down when it’s getting late.

One listens to The Flaming Lips for the weirdness and they don’t let you down on Transmissions. Headphones are a must as guitars play notes you’ve never heard before, studio tricks play with the head, and songs end in one ear as the next song begins in the other. Besides the aforementioned Pilot Can, Moth in the Incubator and Oh my Pregnant Head are sonically two songs that are mind expanding with bone crushing guitar licks erupting in places you least expect. But don’t get me wrong, Transmissions is not some weird album that is unlistenable unless you're under the influence, these songs are pop masterpieces and totally accessible even to the most staid listener.

Because the Flaming Lips were able to combine studio weirdness with pop sensibility, creating a lush environment that never gets old or mundane, Transmissions from the Satellite Heart is one of my 30 Best Loved Albums. What’s your opinion? What’s your favorite Flaming Lips album?

Place on the Definitive 200 List: Not on the List

August 31, 2007

Friday Random Top 10

Here it is! Every Friday I will turn the I-Pod to shuffle and see what it spits out. This week's list:

1. Burnin’ Love – Elvis Presley
2. Eternal Ice – Yung Wu
3. Carry Go Bring Come – The Selecter
4. Hardcore Ufo’s – Guided by Voices
5. King and Caroline/Motor Away (Live) – Guided by Voices
6. I Bought a Headache – The Replacements
7. Hang On To Your Ego – Beach Boys
8. Mannequin’s Complaint – Guided by Voices
9. Red Rabbi – The Shins
10. Ashes on the Ground (Live) – Yo La Tengo

Three GbV songs? Something from Pet Sounds? Ironic Elvis Presely Song? Replacements, Yo La Tengo, The Shins? Folks, College Radio lives on my I-Pod.

August 27, 2007

30 Best Loved Albums - Astral Weeks

2007 will bring the 30th anniversary of my first rock concert (Kiss, December 2, 1977 – Metropolitan Sports Center). In honor of that momentous event I have decided to use this blog to review my 30 best loved albums. They will not be in any order or progression but I will try to review them musically and why they mean so much to me. I’ll also note if they made the Definitive 200 List. With that on to #22 of the list...

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22. Astral Weeks - Van Morrison (1968)

Astral Weeks was Van Morrison’s first solo album after leaving Them, a rock and blues band based out of San Francisco, and has a jazzy, trippy vibe that feels right at home in the genre of late 1960’s music. Although not a critical or commercial success when it came out, Astral Weeks is now considered a classic album and can be found all over critics best-of lists, including ranking #2 in MOJO Magazine’s list of 100 best albums. In addition, it placed 19 on the Rolling Stone top 500 albums. (Given such lofty rankings, it's quite odd that it doesn't even make the Definitive 200 list).

At first listen, one could dismiss Astral Weeks as some sort of hippy-dippy tripe good only for listening during a mellow high or to come down after a bad trip. The album’s got flutes on it for Christ sake!! But to dismiss it as such really doesn’t do the album justice. With its “in and out?rhythm stylings and oblique lyrics that conjur up images instead of coherent narratives, Astral Weeks has been compared to an Impressionism painting, with songs that seek to evoke emotions associated with an image. Some have described the album as a "song cycle" rather than a concept album, although the songs do seem to link together and form a loose narrative. Astral Weeks is an album that you listen to as a whole and not to individual songs. At times when an individual song has come up on my I-pod, it feels strangely out of place without the rest of the album following behind.

As I said before the album has a real jazzy feel and the album’s producer had a background in jazz and recruited a top-notch bunch of session musicians to accompany Van’s vocals. The interesting thing is that Morrision gave the musicians basic carte blanche on how they wanted to play, providing only the idea and vocals for each song on an acoustic guitar. Many of the songs were captured live, and in the case of the title song, it was the first and only take. Given the fact that it is the music that really drives this album, what these musicians could do with minimal direction is quite amazing.

I’ve loved this album for nearly 20 years ever since an old girlfriend turned me on to it. It’s a perfect mood album if you just want to mellow out, such as on a road trip or to listen to on a rainy Sunday afternoon. I have a feeling I’ll be listening to this album 20 years from now whenever I need a little down time and for that reason, Astral Weeks deserves a spot on my best loved 30 albums.

Have you heard Astral Weeks, what do you think of it?

Place on the Definitive 200: Not on the list?!!

August 24, 2007

Friday Random Top 10

Here it is! In the tradition of American Idle, every Friday I will turn the I-Pod to shuffle and see what it spits out. This week's list:

1. I Don't Know - The Replacements
2. Transmission - Joy Division
3. Love Comes in Spurts - Richard Hell & the Voidoids
4. Lil' Devil - The Cult
5. A Foggy Day - Louis Armstrong
6. Disenchanted - My Chemical Romance
7. The Busy Girl Buys Beauty - Billy Bragg
8. I'm Not in Love (Live) - Talking Heads
9. Remote Control - The Clash
10. A Wolf at the Door - Radiohead

Take away the My Chemical Romance and Radiohead and I could be a 1990's college radio DJ!

August 20, 2007

30 Best Loved Albums - Ok Computer

2007 will bring the 30th anniversary of my first rock concert (Kiss, December 2, 1977 – Metropolitan Sports Center). In honor of that momentous event I have decided to use this blog to review my 30 best loved albums. They will not be in any order or progression but I will try to review them musically and why they mean so much to me. I’ll also note if they made the Definitive 200 List.

Although I have stated that I’m not going to rank or place in order my favorite 30 albums, there is somewhat of a method to my madness. The first five albums were near and dear to me, some may not necessarily be an all-time favorite, but instead are albums about which that I had a lot to say. Albums 6-10 included artists with long and critically acclaimed careers with many, many different albums from which to choose. Albums 11-15 were more related to “roots? music: folk, country, americana, etc. Albums 16-20 favored punk and alternative. Now that we’re two-thirds through, I thought we needed to look at my favorite “headphone? albums – those trippy albums that are best heard on headphones or after you’ve been snacking on your cousin Ernie’s homemade brownies. So sit back, tune in, and let the music take over your mind as we continue with number 21 of my best loved 30 albums.

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21. Radiohead – Ok Computer (1997)

What can be said about this album that hasn’t already been said? “Top album of the 1990’s,? “Best Album of the last 20 years,? over 2000 user reviews at Amazon.com (a vast majority of them with 5 stars). Heck it even merits a ranking on the “Definitive 200!!? Ok Computer was a huge shock from a band that had a couple of cool songs on a two middling albums during the early to mid-1990’s. This album propelled Radiohead into mega-stardom with each one of their subsequent albums creating a buzz over “what’s Radiohead going to do next??

Although Thom Yorke and the boys maintain that Ok Computer is not a concept album, there are definite themes running throughout. Is the album about a dystopian future of mankind being ruled by machines and computers? Is it a modern take on man’s disconnection with humanity in the computer age? Is it just a bunch of great songs that combine straight ahead rock licks and electronica doodads and gizmos with esoteric, dreamy lyrics? Well I definitely come down on the latter and could be convinced of the former two. What really gets me going with Ok Computer is the songs. There’s not a weak song in the bunch (o.k. I don’t consider Fitter Happier a song) and I just love how the rock guitars are augmented by all the electronics. Furthermore Radiohead obsessed over the sequence of the songs on the album and it really shows. It’s hard to imagine these songs in any other order with each song recognizing the song previous while also setting the table for the following song.

With each song a great song, it’s hard to pick out favorites. Paranoid Android (The band played an 11 minute version of this song when opening for Alanis Morrisette in 1996 – man what a trip!) is an obvious with it’s awesome guitar pieces that would put most rockers to shame while Subterranean Homesick Alien is an atmospheric, dreamy song about someone who is abducted by aliens but when he tells his friends, they don’t believe him. Is the alien real or is the singer referring to himself alienated from society? It’s up to you. Let Down is one my all time favorite songs as it captures perfectly the feeling of the disappointment felt when let down by a loved one, friend or just an acquaintance. The chorus says it all: Let down and hanging around, crushed like a bug in the ground. Let down and hanging around.

The album ends with the weary song The Tourist and it’s plaintive wail of “hey man slow down, slow down? accompanied by a nasty little guitar riff. The song sounds like it should be the final track and the album ends fittingly enough with a single note chime (once described as the bell on a microwave). A perfect end to a nearly perfect album. An album that deserves all it accolades and high rankings and album that has given me hours of listening pleasure over the last 10 years, Ok Computer deserves an exulted place on my list of 30 best loved albums.

What do you think of Ok Computer?

Place on the Definitive 200: Criminally it is only ranked 111!


August 17, 2007

Friday Random Top 10

Here it is! In the tradition of American Idle, every Friday I will turn the I-Pod to shuffle and see what it spits out. This week's list:

1. Still Worth Noting - Guided by Voices
2. Dancin' on the Bar - Fred Eaglesmith
3. Well, you Needn't - Thelonious Monk
4. Good Morning Boyfriend - Tulip Sweet and Trail of Tears
5. Hey Good Lookin' - Ray Charles
6. Picking up the Signal - Son Volt
7. Hey Jude - The Beatles
8. Systems Crash - Guided by Voices
9. My Hero - Foo Fighters
10. Buy Your Truck - Fred Eaglesmith

What's your top 10?

August 14, 2007

30 Best Loved Albums - Favorite Overlooked Albums

2007 will bring the 30th anniversary of my first rock concert (Kiss, December 2, 1977 – Metropolitan Sports Center). In honor of that momentous event I have decided to use this blog to review my 30 best loved albums. They will not be in any order or progression but I will try to review them musically and why they mean so much to me. I’ll also note if they made the Definitive 200 List.

Sorry for lack of posts, I've been on vacation and dealing with family illness. This week I am going a slightly different route and want to discuss albums that I liked but hardly anyone else noticed. Below is a list of albums that were generally ignored by music lovers. Some may be critically loved but for the most part know one, knows about these albums but should.

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1. Husker Du - Warehouse: Songs and Stories . O.k. I cheated, you’ve probably have heard of this album. But it was criminally overlooked when released. It loses some steam at the end, but that’s typical of a double album. The first 3/4 of the album blows me away 20 years after it came out!

2. Yung Wu – Shore Leave. An off-shoot band of The Feelies, with infectious little songs. Not available on CD, I had Twin Tone Records burn for me an individual copy so that I could hear it once again.

3. Waco Brothers – Freedom and Weep. I reviewed this album here. Great country rock that will lift you off your feet and on to the dance floor.

4. Handsome Family – Milk and Scissors. Great music from the best husband and wife goth-country band out there. The song Amelia Earhart and the Dancing Bear haunted my dreams for an entire summer a couple of years back.

5. Kelly Hogan and Pine Valley Cosmonauts – Beneath the Country Underdog. I am a sucker for big voiced woman singing country torch songs. That’s all you need to know about this album.

What are your favorite albums that have been overlooked and that no one has ever heard of?

First 20 albums reviewed:

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)

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)

August 3, 2007

Friday Random Top 10

Here it is! In the tradition of American Idle, every Friday I will turn the I-Pod to shuffle and see what it spits out. This week's list:

1. Join the Eagles – Robert Pollard
2. Even Better Than the Real Thing – U2
3. She – Green Day
4. Stop This Car – Jonathan Richman
5. Watch the Sunrise – Big Star
6. Warning – Green Day
7. Radio Song – R.E.M.
8. Bookends – Simon and Garfunkel
9. Melt Snow – Old 97’s
10. Tonight’s the Night – Neil Young

What's your top 10?

July 30, 2007

30 Best Loved Albums - American Idiot

2007 will bring the 30th anniversary of my first rock concert (Kiss, December 2, 1977 – Metropolitan Sports Center). In honor of that momentous event I have decided to use this blog to review my 30 best loved albums. They will not be in any order or progression but I will try to review them musically and why they mean so much to me. I’ll also note if they made the Definitive 200 List. With that on to #20 of the list...

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20. Green Day – American Idiot (2004)

What can be said about this album that hasn’t already been said? A punk rock “opera? that tells the story of Jesus of Suburbia/St. Jimmy as they navigate early 21st Century American society. The album is both a commentary of our battered culture and a stinging rebuke of the Bush administration. Coming out in late 2004 prior to the presidential election, the popularity of the album took off in 2005 right as Americans were coming to the realization that they had just signed up for four more years of W and his “everything is political? cronies.

The true measure of a rock opera or concept album is that the individual songs have to stand up on their own as well as fit into the “story? that makes up the album. That’s why Tommy works and The Wall doesn’t. Literally every song on Tommy could be considered a stand alone, popular song. The Wall only has Comfortably Numb. This is the reason that American Idiot works too. From the title track to Boulevard of Broken Dreams, to Holiday, to Wake Me Up When September Comes, American Idiot is stuffed full of individual songs that not only propel the story forward but are great individual songs. The fact that the songs listed above not only moved up the popular music charts but in Mpls-St. Paul could have been heard on radio stations as diverse as Cities 97, 93X, KDWB, and the Current speaks to the positive reception of this album.

From the album’s opening verse of “Don't want to be an American idiot/Don't want a nation under the new media/And can you hear the sound of hysteria?/The subliminal mind fuck America? the listener is keyed into the album’s political leanings. Two highlights of the album are the “suites:? two nine minute songs consisting of 4 or 5 sub songs. The first suite introduces the listener to the character Jesus of Suburbia while the second suite details the downfall of St. Jimmy. In the first suite check out the stolen guitar riff from Ring of Fire; the second suite is somewhat an homage to The Who’s A Quick One While He’s Away, the first such suite in rock history. In my opinion the strongest song on the who album is Holiday. I also think Holiday is the harshest political protest song to reach the pop music charts since the late 1960’s

I picked up this album in early 2005 as I was intrigued by the good buzz surrounding it. I listened to it a few times thought it was good, but not great. During this time my son was saying that the album was becoming popular at school and we tuned into the Grammys in early February to watch Green Day perform the song American Idiot. They absolutely rocked the house and Charlie went upstairs to bed with the CD in his hand. I don’t think I’ve seen it since. As with the rest of the country, repeated listenings led to greater appreciation and by the summer of 2005 the album was on heavy rotation on my I-pod.

September 2005 we saw Green Day at the X in an awesome arena rock show – a show that was attended by pre-teens with their parents, high school kids, and guys in their 20’s and 30’s. When Billy Joe introduced the song Holiday saying that this song was a big Fuck You to George W. Bush and the arena absolutely erupted, I knew right then and there that the political future of this country had changed for the better. Holiday was then played in such an aggressive manner that if Billy Joe told us to go right then and there and march the few blocks to the capitol and tear it down, I’m not sure that we would not have done it.

For producing such an audacious album that not only rocked but had a real message behind it, an album that both me a my son could listen to together, an album that spawned a bunch of popular songs that could be listened to individually or as part of a story, American Idiot deserves a hallowed place on my best love 30 albums.

What do you think of American Idiot?

Place on the Definitive 200: #61.

July 27, 2007

Friday Random Top 10

Here it is! In the tradition of American Idle, every Friday I will turn the I-Pod to shuffle and see what it spits out. This week's list:

1. Hillbilly Drummer Girl – Young Fresh Fellows
2. Lonesome Tears – Beck
3. Settled Down Like Rain – The Jayhawks
4. Because the Night – Patti Smith
5. Pieholden Suite – Wilco
6. Why – The Accents
7. Spirit – Mieka Pauley
8. I’ll Wait & Pray – John Coltrane
9. Love Comes and Goes – Stillwater
10. Home Front – Billy Bragg

What's your top 10?

July 23, 2007

30 Best Loved Albums - Rage Against the Machine

2007 will bring the 30th anniversary of my first rock concert (Kiss, December 2, 1977 – Metropolitan Sports Center). In honor of that momentous event I have decided to use this blog to review my 30 best loved albums. They will not be in any order or progression but I will try to review them musically and why they mean so much to me. I’ll also note if they made the Definitive 200 List. With that on to #19 of the list...

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19. Rage Against the Machine – Rage Against the Machine (1992)

Although generally derided these days, the fusing of rock and rap was a novel concept in 1992 and Rage Against the Machine hit the music world like a bullet to the head. Zach de la Rocha’s scream-singing combined with Tom Morello’s ground shaking guitar worked and backed by a heavy/funky rhythm section made Rage Against the Machine one of the heaviest metal albums of the 1990’s – rivaling some of Zeppelin’s best 70’s releases.

Sometimes I wish I was 16 when this album came out because it is a muscular, aggresive album full of “don’t f--k with me attitude? and I am sure there have been millions of teenage (mostly) boys who have screamed the last 16 verses of Killing in the Name silently in their bedrooms (‘Fuck You! I won’t do what you tell me!?) as they railed against parents, girls, school, and general teenage angst. de la Rocha’s lyrics are full of rants against political enemies, modern day capitalism, and the general non-activism of the American public. Titles like Take the Power Back, Bullet in the Head, Know Your Enemy, Fistful of Steel, and Freedom leave little to the imagination about their subject matter. Even the album package is aggresive as the cover artwork features the famous photo of Thích Quảng ?ức, a Vietnamese Buddhist monk, burning himself to death in Saigon in 1963.

Besides de la Rocha’s throat shredding screaming, Tom Morello’s guitar work really shines along with the bass. This album combines the best of a funky bass line with heavy metal guitar work that really had been unheard of at the time. The album is also an audiophile’s dream as RATM worked the studio diligently in order to get an album that sonically was unmatched. Many stereo stores still use Killing in the Name (sans f-bombs) to demonstrate the audio quality of their high-end speakers. Other highlights include the sampled Kashmir riff on Wake-up and the screaming “bullet in your head? propelled by a driving guitar and drum beat. If ever an album existed to make you break stuff, this is it.

This album isn’t for everyone. The lyrics can be jarring at times and it’s not easy being sonically assaulted for 40 plus minutes. But when you’re in the mood of some heavy rock and roll, with lyrics that ring as truer today than they did 15 years ago, there’s nothing better than Rage Against the Machine. For that it deserves a place on my 30 best loved albums.

Place on the Definitive 200: Not on the list.

July 20, 2007

Friday Random Top 10

Here it is! In the tradition of American Idle, every Friday I will turn the I-Pod to shuffle and see what it spits out. This week's list:

1. No Feelings - Sex Pistols
2. Crazy Rhythms - The Feelies
3. The Engine Driver - The Decemberists
4. Southern Rock Opera - The Drive By Truckers
5. All the Young Dudes - David Bowie
6. Infected - Bad Religion
7. Country Feedback - R.E.M.
8. Ultraviolet (Light My Way) - U2
9. I Still Miss Someone - Johnny Cash
10. Down by the River - Neil Young

What's your top 10?

July 16, 2007

30 Best Loved Albums - Siamese Dreams

2007 will bring the 30th anniversary of my first rock concert (Kiss, December 2, 1977 – Metropolitan Sports Center). In honor of that momentous event I have decided to use this blog to review my 30 best loved albums. They will not be in any order or progression but I will try to review them musically and why they mean so much to me. I’ll also note if they made the Definitive 200 List. With that on to #18 of the list...

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18. Smashing Pumpkins – Siamese Dreams (1993)

Coming off their surprising 1991 indie release, Gish, the Smashing Pumpkins were one of the first of those “alternative? bands that got gobbled up by a major label. Interest was high on whether or not they could reach the level of Gish with its soaring guitars and art-rock vibe. After a long and tortuous recording process, where frontman Billy Corrigan was, in a word, dictatorial -- playing all guitars and bass on the final recording, Siamese Dreams was released 3 months late and $250,000 over budget. But out of that process came an impressive album of dreamy lyrics coupled with hard edged guitars in a musical landscape that covered 70’s arena rock, art-school prog-rock, and hard core punk. A stunning album that feels just as vital as it did nearly 15 years ago.

The first song, Cherub Rock, became an MTV staple with its dream-like video, foreshadowing future videos to come from the band. From it’s opening drum roll leading to its crushing first guitar notes, Cherub Rock set the stage for the rest of the album. (f.y.i. Cherub Rock is slated to be on the Guitar Hero III set for release later this fall). Guitars own this album and right from the opening notes it's the sound that makes the listener stand up and take notice. Billy Corrigan and Producer Butch Vig spent those countless hours at the studio layering the guitars one on top of each other, giving each song a full “wall of sound? feel. It would be the same guitar track, just copied over and over again, like an orchestra having 20 violins all playing the same part. This is the one album that listening on headphones doesn’t do justice, you need the sound to fill the room around you, it’s too big for just the space between your ears.

The album is extremely tight with not a bad song in the bunch. Nearly every song is a one word title and are similar to Led Zeppelin in that the title has little or nothing to do with the song itself. Not that you can decipher the lyrics. Billy Corrigan’s voice is pretty light and it’s the guitars, bass, and drums that are center stage here, not the lyrics. Other favorite songs include Today, Geek USA, and Spaceboy (lovingly written about Corrigan’s autistic brother). Many of the songs could be considered epic with soaring sound, long guitar solos, and bone crushing bass and drums. The last two minutes of Geek USA is a thing to behold and gives me goosebumps every time I hear it.

Because sometimes you just need to hear an album that is musically ambitious yet personal, jarring while soothing, muscular and dreamy, without a note out of place, Siamese Dreams is one of my 30 best loved albums.

Place on the Definitive 200: Not on the list.

July 13, 2007

Friday Random Top 10

Here it is! In the tradition of American Idle, every Friday I will turn the I-Pod to shuffle and see what it spits out. This week's list:

1. Rust Never Sleeps - Neil Young
2. London Calling - The Clash
3. Hit That - The Offspring
4. More Good Men Going Down - The Broadside Singers
5. You Make Me Feel So Young - Frank Sinatra
6. Space Invader - The Pretenders
7. Teenage Depression - Eddie and the Hotrodders
8. Big Black Smoke - The Kinks
9. Spider Monkey - Gear Daddies
10. Feeling Gravity's Pull - R.E.M.

What's your Top 10?

July 9, 2007

30 Best Loved Albums - Entertainment!

2007 will bring the 30th anniversary of my first rock concert (Kiss, December 2, 1977 – Metropolitan Sports Center). In honor of that momentous event I have decided to use this blog to review my 30 best loved albums. They will not be in any order or progression but I will try to review them musically and why they mean so much to me. I’ll also note if they made the Definitive 200 List. With that on to #17 of the list...

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17. Gang of Four – Entertainment! (1979)

Considered one of the greatest albums to come out of the British post-punk period (1979-1984), Entertainment! is an album of grim politics, alienation, and loathsome sexuality. However it is also an album that musically breaks out from the typical 12…1234 cadence of most punk albums. Ambitious in scope, leftist in its politics, jarring in its music, Entertainment! is one of my favorite albums from the 1970’s and one that sounds just as vital today as it did nearly 30 years ago.

One of the first thing one notices upon playing Entertainment! is that it is funky. The bass is deep and heavy throughout and the album is extremely danceable. In fact a popular Minneapolis band from the early 1980’s, The Phones, covered two songs from this album and would fill the dance floor singing Damaged Goods and I Found that Essence Rare (good thing we weren’t listening to the lyrics, as they are somewhat of a downer). Besides the bass, the guitar work also deserves mention. Always jarring, at times sounding like china busting up into shards in an all-tile bathroom, the guitars were played in a way that was never heard on a major label album and have been copied many times since. Vocally, the lyrics are sung in that deadpan, affected British accent that was made popular by other British bands like Wire and Joy Division.

Even if you don’t want to listen to the lyrics, the album is a great listen either alone or at a party. It really is the high water mark of those art-school educated British bands that came out in the late 1970’s and 80’s and as I said above, just as fresh today as it was in 1979. I’ve carried this album with me since 1981 and listen to it often whenever I need an uplift and want to listen to something that you don’t hear much anywhere else. For that reason, Entertainment! is one of my 30 best loved albums.

What do you think of Entertainment!?

Place on the Definitive 200: Not on the list.

July 6, 2007

Friday Random Top 10

Here it is! In the tradition of American Idle, every Friday I will turn the I-Pod to shuffle and see what it spits out. This week's list:

1. Themselves - Minutemen
2. July, July! - The Decemberists
3. Hey Joe - Patti Smith
4. Crosseyed & Painless - The Talking Heads
5. I Believe in the Man in the Sky - Elvis Presley
6. Move it on Over - Hank Williams
7. My Back Pages - The Byrds
8. The End of the World - Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
9. Another Girl, Another Planet - The Only Ones
10. Accidents will Happen - Elvis Costello

What's your Top 10?

July 2, 2007

30 Best Loved Albums - Land Speed Record

2007 will bring the 30th anniversary of my first rock concert (Kiss, December 2, 1977 – Metropolitan Sports Center). In honor of that momentous event I have decided to use this blog to review my 30 best loved albums. They will not be in any order or progression but I will try to review them musically and why they mean so much to me. I’ll also note if they made the Definitive 200 List.


Although I have stated that I’m not going to rank or place in order my favorite 30 albums, there is somewhat of a method to my madness. The first five albums were near and dear to me, some may not necessarily be an all-time favorite, but instead are albums about which that I had a lot to say. Albums 6-10 included artists with long and critically acclaimed careers with many, many different albums from which to choose. Albums 11-15 were more related to “roots? music: folk, country, americana, etc. Now that we’re halfway through, I thought we needed to look at my favorite punk and alternative albums. In the immortal words of Neil Young: “Let’s play some Rock and Roll!?

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16. Husker Du – Land Speed Record (1981)

This is the punk album to end all punk albums. The album careens from one blistering 90 second song to the next with 17 songs covering a 26-1/2 minute time span. Land Speed Record is actually a live album and it captures an early Husker Du at its furiously fast best. Although the name comes from the fact that the Huskers were digesting a serious amount of speed while the album was recorded, the title also easily describes the set list as most songs are one verse, no chorus played extremely fast punctuated only be a simple 1…2…1234 between each song.

The album cover is pure early 80’s punk: Black and white photo of flag-draped coffins stacked on top of each other either in a warehouse or large transport plane. While the songs at time are political the main point is that they are loud, fast, with no rules. The sound quality isn’t the greatest and the lyrics can be maddening at times but you’re not listening to this album for its production values. The purpose of this album is to feel the rush of an adrenaline-fueled musical assault where you don’t know whether or not the singer is going to have an aneurism or if the guitars are going to careen out of control.

One reason I love this album is it brings me back to the days of seeing the Huskers at the 7th Street Entry or First Avenue. The music was loud, the slam dancing was non-stop and many a morning after seeing them my ears would buzz from the volume, my head would throb from the beer, and the rest of my body would hurt from being slammed into by other 20-somethings for 90 minutes. Also I used this album to turn one of my friend's teenage son into punk. It was around 1995 and we were in my car waiting for his dad. We started talking about Nirvana and I asked him if he ever heard Husker Du. I put this tape on and he was mesmerized. He took the tape home with him and said that the album changed his life.

Although you don’t necessarily listen to this song for the lyrics, there are some pretty funny and/or serious lyrics here. One of my favorites is Gilligan’s Island:

Gilligan’s Island
Is where I wanna be
I wanna fuck Ginger
Underneath a big palm tree
I wanna make the professor
Make some good drugs for me
Oh Gilligan's Island
Is where I wanna be

But the lyrics can be political too, check this out from Guns at My School:

We've got guns at my school
You've got guns at your school
Guns and knives/taking lives
Fuck you!

Every time it's a different story
When they come to our territory
Is it fun or race relations?

Guns at my school
Think that's cool?
You like violence?
Think it makes sense?
(Fuck, no).

Even though I’m closing in on my mid-40’s, I still play this album when I need a rise. It’s fast, it’s fun, but most of all it’s exhilarating. And for that Land Speed Record deserves a spot on my most beloved 30 albums.

Place on the Definitive 200: Not on the list.

June 29, 2007

Friday Random Top 10

Wow, a glorius June morning in Minneapolis! I rode my bike into work listening to Fugazi. I am ready for the day!

Here it is! In the tradition of American Idle, every Friday I will turn the I-Pod to shuffle and see what it spits out. This week's list:

1. Are You A Hypnotist - The Flaming Lips
2. They'll Never Take Her Love Away From Me - Hank Williams
3. Two States - Pavement
4. Believe - The Chemical Brothers
5. The Great Dust Storm Disaster - Woody Guthrie
6. Soma - The Stokes
7. Any Time At All - The Beatles
8. Fatal Wound - Uncle Tupelo
9. Fight for Your Right (To Party!) - The Beasty Boys
10. Chemical Warfare - The Dead Kennedys

Now that's a top10 list! What's yours?

June 25, 2007

30 Best Loved Albums - Rainy Day Music

2007 will bring the 30th anniversary of my first rock concert (Kiss, December 2, 1977 – Metropolitan Sports Center). In honor of that momentous event I have decided to use this blog to review my 30 best loved albums. They will not be in any order or progression but I will try to review them musically and why they mean so much to me. I’ll also note if they made the Definitive 200 List. Here's number 15 on the list:

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15. The Jayhawks - Rainy Day Music (2003)

Every so often the buzz or hype around an album is that the band is "getting back to its roots," releasing an album of songs like they used to in the good old days. That was definitely the buzz around U2's All That You Can't Leave Behind and seems like every new REM album has the same discussion surrounding it. It's basically a recognition by the record company that a band's recent albums sucked, were too experimental, or explored other musical genres but now the said band had seen the light and recorded new songs that certainly you will like. After the sonic explorations of Sound of Lies and the slickly commercial sound of Smile, The 2003 album Rainy Day Music promised an old school Jayhawks album, like Hollywood Town Hall.

From the Bryds-like jangly opening, the listener realizes that yes, this is the Jayhawks how I used to like them and the album enters into a comfortable, folk-rock vibe. The first half of the album is classic Jayhawks, songs about relationships with a down home country feel. Gary Louris' songwriting is top notch as is the guitar work and the classic Jayhawk harmonies. The album title says it all - this is music for a rainy day, a little slower, introspective lyrics, subdued guitars. The album loses a little steam at the end as some of the other Jayhawks try their hand at songwriting but they don't match the level of Louris. The album ends on a high note with the achingly beautiful Tampa to Tulsa and then a short acoustic version of the album's first song Stumbling Through the Dark.

As someone who has liked all the Jayhawks albums, especially the unfairly maligned Sound of Lies, Rainy Day Music was a nice coda to an apparent end of the Jayhawks. The country folk atmosphere is just perfect for background music when you need or want to kill time and this album is always played whenever I have a long road trip. As much as a "lifetime achievement award" as a recognition of it's own brilliance, Rainy Day Music has a well-earned place on my 30 best loved albums.

What's your favorite Jayhawks album?

Place on the Definitive 200: Not on the list.


June 22, 2007

Friday Random Top 10

Here it is! In the tradition of American Idle, every Friday I will turn the I-Pod to shuffle and see what it spits out. This week's list:

1. I Can't Dance - Gram Parsons
2. What Light - Wilco
3. Accidents Never Happen - Blondie
4. Homicide - 999
5. Wake Up Jacob - Prince Albert Hunt's Texas Ramblers
6. Baby, Baby, Baby - The Jayhawks
7. Don't Ask Why - The Replacements
8. Musta Been Right - The Supersuckers
9. Exodus - Bob Marley and the Wailers
10. Wabash Cannonball - The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band

What's your top 10?

June 20, 2007

Husker Du with Steve and Sharon

This was referenced in the Strib over the weekend but is so weird I just had to post it. It's Husker Du on the Good Company show. The Good Company show was a 70's and 80's Twin Cities TV staple hosted by Steve and Sharon, two impossibily good looking 40 somethings that had an afternoon talk show to talk about such heady issues as how to care for your roses, creative things you can do with pasta dishes, and apparently interviewing hard core punk bands. Unfortunately Sharon is nowhere to be seen in this interview, which is too bad because she was hot in her own comfortable way. A must see.

June 18, 2007

30 Best Loved Albums - Van Lear Rose

2007 will bring the 30th anniversary of my first rock concert (Kiss, December 2, 1977 – Metropolitan Sports Center). In honor of that momentous event I have decided to use this blog to review my 30 best loved albums. They will not be in any order or progression but I will try to review them musically and why they mean so much to me. I’ll also note if they made the Definitive 200 List. Here's number 14 on the list:

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14. Loretta Lynn - Van Lear Rose (2004)

What happens when you cross a 20-something Detroit rocker, his scumbag friends/musicians, and a 70-year old queen of country who’s last relevant record was released in 1972? In the case of Van Lear Rose, you get an album that kicks your ass, mops the floor with it, and then sits you back on your barstool and politely asks “would you like another? while you enthusiastically nod your head yes.

When word came out that Jack White of the White Stripes was working with Loretta Lynn to make a new album my first thought was that this would be one strange album. Sure Jack White was an affirmed “roots music? junkie who’s White Stripes albums not only had some bluesy elements but who also contributed folks songs to a recent Civil War-era movie. But Loretta Lynn, the Coal Miners daughter? It just seemed like some stunt, a play off the Johnny Cash-Rick Rubin collaborations that were making the American Recording sessions some of Cash’s best work in decades. But the reviews of this new album were stellar and I was intrigued. Also a single was released from the album, Portland Oregon, that was just knocking me out. So I took the plunge.

What I heard was a 70-year old woman reminiscing about a one-night stand in Portland; telling us how her daddy won over the prettiest girl in the county; a couple of honky-tonk songs about women stealing her man; a country death song that was second to none; and, a sad lament about being a widow. In short it was amazing. Loretta Lynn apparently wrote all the songs (although I think Have Mercy is at least based on an Elvis song) and Jack White and friends contributed the music. What could have easily turned out as a creepy attempt at bedding down with a younger guy to look hip turns out to be a classic honky tonk album that appealed to both traditionalists and hipsters alike.

Jack White’s music at times just rocks but Loretta Lynn keeps right along at a pace that would shame a woman one-third her age. Highlights include the aforementioned Portland Oregon with Jack White sharing the mic with LL as they sing about a one-night stand of Sloe Gin Fiz and ask-no-questions-sex. Have Mercy will bring you to you knees, and as a friend of mine once described, does in 3 minutes what The Cramps spent an entire decade trying to accomplish. Women’s Prison is a great song about a woman on death row for the murder of her husband who was sleeping around. It ends with Jack White singing Amazing Grace with acoustic backing and then turns into a guitar frenzy to finish off the song. Mrs. Leroy Brown is a honky tonk stomper with Loretta clearing out her cheatin’ hubby’s bank account to buy pink limousine and then instructs the driver to “drive that car right into the bar, bring it on back to the big old blonde who thinks she’s a movie star…? As you can guess, the blonde stands no chance.

This album works on so many levels. It showcases LL’s song-writing skills and the music has a down-in-the- dirt, skuzzy feel at times and a simple, country folk music at other times. Although she was 70 at the time of this recording, LL is in fine form vocally and she can either knock you on your backside likes she does on the harder songs or break your heart on the softer songs. You also have to give her credit that she even worked with Jack White and his buddies. While at times country, with mandolin, dobro, and harmonica, this album also rocks and it would be interesting you find out how well the traditional country folks accepted this album. Doesn’t matter, I loved it and easily play it a couple of times a month and for that Van Lear Rose is one my 30 most beloved albums.

What’s your opinion of Van Lear Rose?

Place on the Definitive 200 List: Not on the List!


June 15, 2007

Friday Random Top 10

Here it is! In the tradition of American Idle, every Friday I will turn the I-Pod to shuffle and see what it spits out. This week's list:

1. Stain - Nirvana
2. Hate & War - The Clash
3. Problems - Sex Pistols
4. Can't Keep It In - Cat Stevens
5. Jammin' - Bob Marley and the Wailers
6. You're a Soldier - Husker Du
7. Stetson Kennedy - Billy Bragg and Wilco
8. Credit in Heaven - Suburbs
9. Dash 7 - Wilco
10. 5-22-02 - Golden Smog

One of these songs is not like the other...one of these songs just doesn't belong...can you tell which song is not like the other... before I finish my post.

June 11, 2007

30 Best Loved Albums - Car Wheels on a Gravel Road

2007 will bring the 30th anniversary of my first rock concert (Kiss, December 2, 1977 – Metropolitan Sports Center). In honor of that momentous event I have decided to use this blog to review my 30 best loved albums. They will not be in any order or progression but I will try to review them musically and why they mean so much to me. I’ll also note if they made the Definitive 200 List. Here's number 13 on the list:

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13. Lucinda Williams - Car Wheels on a Gravel Road (1998)

After spending the previous decade releasing spare country and folk albums, Lucinda Williams spent most of the 1990’s recording and re-recording one of the greatest country albums released by a female artist. Gone was the lone voice and guitar of her previous albums and in its place was a lush mixture of guitar, mandolin, accordian, dobro, piano, and electric guitar. The album is a showcase of Williams’ fine song-writing skills and emotive voice that can go from a growl to a purr in the blink of a song. It is an album that takes its sensibility not only from Nashville (country), but also from New Orleans (Zydeco), Chicago (Blues), and Los Angeles (Rock and Roll).

The album covers your typical country fare of love gained, hearts broken, and life that is not smooth like a highway but bumpy and worn down like a gravel road. From the album’s first line - "Not a day goes by I don’t think about you" - we are introduced to Williams’ reminences about lost loved. Highlights for me include the opening song, Right in Time, which is about a woman who literally aches carnally for her man; Drunken Angel, a song about/for Gram Parsons; Lake Charles, (love lost); Greenville (saying goodbye to a lover who is a drunken lout); and Jackson (thinking about a lover as she drives across the south).

I Lost It is a standout as a country-rocker about falling in love but worried about getting your heart broke. The second verse is classic:

I just wanna live the life I please
I don't want no enemies
I don't want nothin if I have to fake it
Never take nothin don't belong to me
Everything's paid for nothing’s free
If I give you my heart
Will you promise not to break it?

If we could all standards like that.

This album is southern, but Williams isn’t getting her Lynyrd Skynyrd on. It’s the south of cotton picking, humid nights, rutted roads, and beer guzzlin’ good ol boys who done their woman wrong. Lucinda Williams imbibes these songs with her voice, making them real -- your heart literally goes out to her and you curse the men who have burned her in the past. Top to bottom there isn’t a fill-in song or throw away line on the entire album and it’s constantly being played on my I-pod or CD player. And for that, Car Wheels on a Gravel Road is one of my 30 best loved albums.

Place on the Definitive 200: Not on the List!

June 8, 2007

Friday Random Top 10

Here it is! In the tradition of American Idle, every Friday I will turn the I-Pod to shuffle and see what it spits out. This week's list:

1. Jesus Christ - Woody Guthrie
2. I'll Go Crazy - Hypstrz
3. Weenie Beenie - Foo Fighters
4. Falling - Roy Orbison
5. Slow Dog - Belly
6. Bridge Over Troubled Water - Simon and Garfunkel
7. Sonic Boom - Gear Daddies
8. Ask Me Now - Thelonious Monk
9. Take These Chains From My Hear - Hank Williams
10. Wasted - Black Flag

Wow! What a list. You're not going to hear that on college radio.

What's your top 10?

June 4, 2007

30 Best Loved Albums - Workingman's Dead/American Beauty

2007 will bring the 30th anniversary of my first rock concert (Kiss, December 2, 1977 – Metropolitan Sports Center). In honor of that momentous event I have decided to use this blog to review my 30 best loved albums. They will not be in any order or progression but I will try to review them musically and why they mean so much to me. I’ll also note if they made the Definitive 200 List. Here's number 12 on the list:

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12. Grateful Dead - Workingman's Dead/American Beauty (1970)

I know I am cheating by including two albums here but Workingman’s Dead and American Beauty were recorded about 8 months apart and clock in at just under 70 minutes, which today could fit on one CD. More importantly these two albums are quite similar musically as they cover folk, blues, Appalachia, as well as country and western in a way that is still fresh nearly 40 years later. Furthermore, along with The Byrds’ Sweetheart of the Rodeo, these albums ushered in a new era of country-rock that would flourish throughout the 1970’s and is still being felt today.

Workingman’s Dead and American Beauty were huge departures from the Grateful Dead of the 1960’s. Gone was the mind-expanding psychedelica that anchored the San Francisco hippie music scene and in its place the Dead explored traditional-flavored American music with lyrics that were more winsome than mind blowing. However it was these two albums that propelled the Grateful Dead into the mainstream and created a band personae that went way beyond the cult following of the Dead’s early career. The fact that at least 4 songs from these two albums can still be heard on classic rock radio station such as KQRS is a testament to the staying power and popularity of these two albums.

Workingman’s Dead came out in early 1970 and must have been a huge surprise to Dead fans. Uncle John’s Band kicks-off the album and although it is somewhat trippy, it was much more country than anything else previously from the Dead. This song has personal resonance too as it was played at my friend Bill Fadell's funeral. The second song, High Times, is practically Jerry singing acappella with just a bluesy guitar in the background. Cumberland Blues comes straight out of the West Virginny coal mines, while Casey Jones is an acid-washed, country-tinged bluesy train song.

If fans thought that Workingman's Dead was a one album fluke, American Beauty, which came out only 8 or 9 months later, quickly disabused them of that notion. The album starts with one of the singularly most beautiful songs ever written – Box of Rain – which was written and sang by Phil Lesh for his dying father. It’s a song about a son trying to understand the meaning of life in the face of his father’s death. Friend of the Devil, Sugar Magnolia, and especially Ripple (all of which became concert favorites of Deadheads for the next 25 years) are songs that could easily be found on an album from an old-timey folker or from a smart ass alt-country band from Austin, Texas. The songs are that timeless. The album ends with Attics of My Life and its beautiful 3-part harmony and of course the fan (and KQ) favorite Truckin’. With Truckin’ the Dead look back and close the door on the 60’s with the now classic line “What a long, strange trip it’s been.

Don’t get me wrong, these aren’t musically spare country or folk songs with guitar and rhythm section consigned to the background. No, the songs are highly textured with most of them having at least three guitars, mandolins, etc., playing different parts. It’s pretty heady stuff and I think most Dead fans, then and now, could get their freak on with both these albums. Another highlight is the harmonies. Most songs have at least 2-part, if not 3-part harmonies and Jerry was never in better voice. Garcia’s guitar work is stellar and the rhythm section is top notch, especially during the “boogie? songs such as Cumberland Blues and New Speedway Boogie. These aren't two sides of one album either. Workingman is a little bluesier, Beauty a little more folk and country.

As I mentioned above, these albums, for better or worse, ushered in the era of country rock and bands such as the Eagles, Poco, Linda Rhonstad, etc., would shortly become mainstays on the American pop charts. However, these two albums are as vital and influential today as they were some 27 years ago and are one of the reasons why the Grateful Dead became such cultural icons. For that reason, Working Man’s Dead and American Beauty are on my list of 30 most beloved albums.

What's your favorite Dead Album?

Rank on the Definitive 200: Workingman's Dead - not on the list; American Beauty - 20 on the list.

June 1, 2007

Friday Random Top 10

Here it is! In the tradition of American Idle, every Friday I will turn the I-Pod to shuffle and see what it spits out. This week's list:

1. Benchseat Baby – Fred Eaglesmith
2. The Miller’s Will – Jerry Garcia
3. Sedan Delivery – Neil Young
4. Get Off My Cloud – The Rolling Stones
5. Sweetest Fruit – Jack Logan
6. Gravity – Husker Du
7. Learn How – Mission of Burma
8. Spinning – Young Wu
9. Look-out Mountain – Drive By Truckers
10. Starman – David Bowie

What's your top 10?

May 28, 2007

30 Best Loved Albums - Dust Bowl Ballads

2007 will bring the 30th anniversary of my first rock concert (Kiss, December 2, 1977 – Metropolitan Sports Center). In honor of that momentous event I have decided to use this blog to review my 30 best loved albums. They will not be in any order or progression but I will try to review them musically and why they mean so much to me. I’ll also note if they made the Definitive 200 List.

Although I have stated that I’m not going to rank or place in order my favorite 30 albums, there is somewhat of a method to my madness. The first five albums were near and dear to me, some may not necessarily be an all-time favorite, but instead are albums about which that I had a lot to say. The next five albums included artists with long and critically acclaimed careers with many, many different albums from which to choose. My next five albums will be more related to “roots? music: folk, country, americana, etc. Don’t worry, no Big and Rich or Shania here, just good ol’ fashioned American music. With that, on to number 11!

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11. Woody Guthrie – Dust Bowl Ballads (1940)

This could be considered the first “concept? album as the name really says it all: Woody Guthrie with guitar and harmonica singing ballads about the dust bowl, its just that simple. These aren’t just songs about the Dust Bowl, however. They about the poor sharecroppers, farmers, and family folk impacted by the dust storms of the 1930’s. Through these songs you can see the dust, taste it, smell it, feel it all over your body. The songs are that powerful. The first song (The Great Dust Storm) tells the story. You see that big dust cloud, you learn how the farmers reacted, how scared they were and you can’t believe how bad the storm was, that it could be related to the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina.

Dust Bowl Ballads contain songs that are probably familiar to most: Dusty Old Dust (So Long It’s Been Good To Know You) and Blowin’ Down the Road (I Ain’t Gonna Be Treated That a Way) are so familiar that they’re ingrained in our musical DNA. Pretty Boy Floyd has been covered by so many folk artists, its hard to keep count. A musical highlight for me is Do Re Mi, a song about the Okies moving to California and finding out it isn’t the paradise it was advertised as. The fact is that there were so many people moving to California that the local farming communities passed anti-vagrancy ordinances and the Okies had to prove that they either had a job or money (do-re-mi).

Woody Guthrie loved the movie Grapes of Wrath so much that he wrote a seven minute song (broken into two parts) that basically tells the entire Grapes of Wrath story. It’s just as heartbreaking as the book and movie. If you ever need a 7 minute refresher of Grapes of Wrath, you may want to check out Tom Joad I and II.

Woody’s voice is quite plaintive but ironically it’s his voice that really gives these songs their texture. The guitar and harmonica are simple, as are the lyrics. But it’s Woody Guthrie’s gift that he could take complex issues and boil them down to their very core. Very few songwriters have been able to do that and to do it over a whole album makes Dust Bowl Ballads a worthwhile place in my best loved 30 albums.

Place on the Definitive 200: Not on the List.

May 25, 2007

Friday Random Top 10

Here it is! In the tradition of American Idle, every Friday I will turn the I-Pod to shuffle and see what it spits out. This week's list:

1. Liar - Sex Pistols
2. Reach Out/I'll be There - The Four Tops
3. It's So Obvious - Wire
4. Exit - U2
5. Surfer Girl - The Beach Boys
6. Hey There Little Insect - Jonathan Richman
7. Morning Crescent - Belle & Sebestian
8. Sleep! - Big Black
9. Good Squad - Elvis Costello
10. Emergency Exit - Beck

What's your top 10?

May 21, 2007

30 Best Loved Albums - Overrated Albums

2007 will bring the 30th anniversary of my first rock concert (Kiss, December 2, 1977 – Metropolitan Sports Center). In honor of that momentous event I have decided to use this blog to review my 30 best loved albums. They will not be in any order or progression but I will try to review them musically and why they mean so much to me. I’ll also note if they made the Definitive 200 List.

This week I am going a slightly different route and want to discuss albums that I didn’t like. Below is a list of albums that were generally well received either by critics or fans. They make top album lists or are considered fan favorites. For one reason or another I just don’t like these albums, think they’re overrated, or are just plain bad.

Pink Floyd – The Wall (1979) Talk about depressing dreck. This double album has one good song (Comfortably Numb) and a bunch of inane goobly-gook. If I never hear Another Brick in the Wall ever again, I’ll be extremely happy. (Rated 25th on the Definitive 200)

The Rolling Stones - Exile on Main Street (1972) While I agree that there are a couple of good songs on this album, it doesn’t deserve its lofty status as “The greatest rock and roll album ever.? As with most double albums, some selective pruning could have helped immensely. A decent album, but there at least four Rolling Stones album that are better. Classify this one under overrated. (Rated 6th on the Definitive 200)

The Hold Steady – Boys and Girls in America (2006) This is an album that, based on my other musical tastes, I should like. However I just have never gotten into it. I’ve never liked Craig Finn’s sing-talking and the name checking of Twin Cities locales gets rather tiresome. An o.k. album that just doesn’t deserve all the praise it received. (Not on the Definitive 200)

Sufjan Stevens – Illinois (2005) This is another critically acclaimed recent album that I just don’t get. I love the song Chicago and could listen to that song all day long. The rest of the album just puts me to sleep. It’s boring, repetitious and, and inconsequential. (Not on the Definitive 200)

Anything by the Dave Matthews Band. This is might be cheating but I have never heard a song by this band that I didn’t just immediately hate - ‘nuff said. (Crash is ranked #48 on the Definitive 200)

What popular or critically acclaimed album do you not like or think is overrated?

First 10 albums reviewed:
Pretenders – Pretenders (3/12)
Replacements – Let It Be (3/19)
Nirvana – Nevermind (3/26)
Johnny Cash – American Recordings (4/2)
Guided By Voices – Bee Thousand (4/9)
Bob Dylan – Blonde on Blonde (4/16)
The Beatles – Abbey Road (4/23)
The Rolling Stones – Some Girls (4/30)
U2 – All That You Can’t Leave Behind (5/7)
Elvis Costello – This Years Model (5/14)

May 18, 2007

Friday Random Top 10

Here it is! In the tradition of American Idle, every Friday I will turn the I-Pod to shuffle and see what it spits out. In honor of Wilco’s cool new album Sky Blue Sky, I am doing an all Wilco Friday Random Top Ten. Here it is:

1. She’s a Jar – Summerteeth
2. Hell is Chrome – Yankee Foxtrot Hotel
3. Misunderstood – Being There
4. Nothing’s Ever Gonna Stand In My Way – Summerteeth
5. Casino Queen – A.M.
6. Monday – Being There
7. Airline to Heaven – Mermaid Avenue Vol. 2
8. Sky Blue Sky – Sky Blue Sky
9. At My Window Said and Lonely – Mermaid Avenue
10. Radio Cure – Yankee Foxtrot Hotel

What's your Top 10?

May 13, 2007

30 Best Loved Albums - This Years Model

2007 will bring the 30th anniversary of my first rock concert (Kiss, December 2, 1977 – Metropolitan Sports Center). In honor of that momentous event I have decided to use this blog to review my 30 best loved albums. They will not be in any order or progression but I will try to review them musically and why they mean so much to me. I’ll also note if they made the Definitive 200 List. Here's number 10. on the list:

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10. Elvis Costello - This Years Model (1978)

My momma has always said that if your nom de punk includes the name Elvis, you better have the songs to back it up. After the solid debut of My Aim Is True, Elvis Costello was determined to avoid the sophomore slump so he came out with both guns ablazin’ in this 1978 release that is just as furious and fierce as anything the Clash were putting out at the time. Not bad considering that it’s most memorable instrument is a Farisa Organ. In short, Elvis Costello did have the songs worthy of his name.

From it’s opening line of “I don’t wanna kiss you, I don’t wanna touch….. you? to the slamming “radio radio!" that closes the album, Elvis is spittin’ mad as his serpent’s tongue spews out song after song about fashion, relationships, and modern radio. Musically the album is spare with guitar, bass, that wonderful organ and simple drum backing. It’s Elvis’ first album with the Attraction and they provide nice background vocals and a tight midsection. Very little overdubs or studio tricks here. This album is lean, muscular, and cutting. And I loved every second of it.

When Elvis Costello made that famous SNL appearance in late 1977 I was watching at a friend’s house with his mom. Here comes Elvis with the nerdy Buddy Holly glasses, tight jeans, and a spastic, frantic stage presence playing Pump It Up. My friend’s mom thought it was a skit and was incredulous when we told her that no it was a real act. Later during the second song when Elvis stopped the first few bars of Less Than Zero and instead played Radio Radio instead, I was hooked. Unfortunately it took me a couple more years to finally buy this album. When I switched over to CD’s it was one of the first CD’s I ever bought. I probably have played it constantly for some 25 years and never get sick of it. What ever other musical genre I was currently into, whether it be punk, country, folk, jazz, old school rock and roll, Gregorian chant, sea shanty’s, etc., This Year’s Model has always been there.

Radio Radio of course is a favorite. As I said in my review of Elvis’ concert here at the Myth. They played this song perfectly. To think Elvis and the Imposters have probably played this song thousands of times over the past 30 years and to still just lay it down with such fury and conviction was just incredible. Unfortunately part of the reason may be that it’s words ring more true today than they did in 1978. Can you think of a verse more true today than …

You either shut up or get cut up/They don't wanna hear about it/It's only inches on the reel-to-reel/And the radio is in the hands of such a lot of fools/Tryin' to anaesthetise the way that you feel!

For that line alone, This Year’s Model deserves a place in my 30 most beloved albums? What’s your favorite Elvis Costello album?

Place on the Definitive 200: Not on the List!

May 11, 2007

Friday Random Top 10

Here it is! In the tradition of American Idle, every Friday I will turn the I-Pod to shuffle and see what it spits out. This Friday's Top Ten:

1. Heart of the City – Nick Lowe
2. Getcha Back – The Beach Boys
3. Cocaine Eyes – The Rolling Stones
4. Into the Valley – The Skids
5. All You Fascists – Billy Bragg & Wilco
6. Teddy Bear’s Picnic – Jerry Garcia and David Gisman
7. Boogie Shoes – KC and the Sunshine Band
8. Running Scared – Roy Orbison
9. Pakt Like Sardines in a Crushed Tin Box – Radiohead
10. Omaha – Counting Crows

May 8, 2007

Elvis Costello Live at Myth 5.08.07

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I just got back from the Elvis Costello concert tonight at the Myth Nightclub and boy what a nice show. Elvis is releasing a couple of greatest hits collections so the tour promised all hits, no filler, no opera songs, duets with Burt Bacharach, etc. Just Elvis Costello and the Imposters.

The show was to start at 8:00 and sure enough at 8:01 Elvis was on stage, a small wave to the crowd and they jumped right into Welcome to the Working Week. A delightful 110 minutes later as the last notes of What's So Funny About Peace Love and Understanding were ringin' in my ears, Elvis waved goodbye and that was it.

This was a show about delivering the hits. Very little patter, basic red and blue lights, no video screen, no dancers, no shout outs to Minneapolis-St. Paul, no "I wrote this song in the back of a truck while driving across Canada in 1981." The vast majority of the songs were from This Years Model, Armed Forces, Imperial Bedroom (which I think is an overlooked classic) and Get Happy. Only a couple from My Aim is True. I was going to try to do a set list but I forgot my notebook. If I find a list on-line I will update this post.

Highlights include Beyond Belief which The Imposters built up quite nicely, Watching the Detectives, Lipstick Vogue (Tim B, if you still read this blog, you need to learn the bass part to that song!), and What so Funny.... Radio Radio was about as perfectly played as it could be live. Very muscular, fast version. If you ever have heard a band described as "tight" this was the perfect example of that. I would include Pump It Up in this description too but at the end Elvis was singing so fast that he outsang the beat that the rest of the Imposters were laying down.

Elvis' voice was in fine form, again during Radio Radio it was perfect,. Looked like he lost some weight too. The rest of the Imposters very very good. The keyboards were mixed very well so you could hear them, which is important for an Elvis Costello song. I was a little disappointed that they didn't use a real Farfisa Organ, it was an electronic machine. It sounded like a Farfisa, but it's just not the same. Also Elvis plays a mean guitar, I forgot that.

It was my first time at the Myth and I was impressed. Basically they took 1st Avenue and made it a little bigger, but the layout is very similar. The crowd was pretty old as you could imagine and the hot babe factor was pretty close to zero -- Less Than Zero perhaps? :o)

I saw Elvis Costello at Parade Stadium in 1982 and that was a pretty good show (I still have a picture of Elvis dressed in black on a sunny 80 degree day shaking his fist to the sky). This was just as good and quite satisfying. Well worth seeing.

May 7, 2007

30 Best Loved Albums - All That You Can't Leave Behind

2007 will bring the 30th anniversary of my first rock concert (Kiss, December 2, 1977 – Metropolitan Sports Center). In honor of that momentous event I have decided to use this blog to review my 30 best loved albums. They will not be in any order or progression but I will try to review them musically and why they mean so much to me. I’ll also note if they made the Definitive 200 List. Here's number 9 on the list:

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9. U2 - All That You Can't Leave Behind (2000)

Grace
It's a name for a girl
It's also a thought that
Changed the world

U2 is arguably the biggest rock act on the face of the earth and Bono is not only known to millions of music fans but has crossed over to become almost a world ambassador -- one who dines regularly with Popes and Presidents. It easy to forget, however, that by 2000, U2 was seen as an act that was past its prime musically. All That You Can't Leave Behind (ATYCLB) changed all that and propelled U2 even higher to the pop culture and political stratosphere.

Part of the reason why ATYCLB had such an impact is (counter intuitively) due to low expectations. The later half of the 1990’s saw U2 experimenting with a new sound and personae as Zooropa and especially Pop, although good, were not typical U2 albums. They focused on pop-cultural issues that a mega-rich and mega-popular band might find interesting. Bono’s character, “The Fly? was a cynical, pop culture-savvy character who cut a little too close to home. Their tours were in-your-face, multi-media extravaganzas that mocked and parodied the consumer culture that gripped the 1990s . Although interesting, these two albums didn’t have the personal resonance that albums such as War, Unforgettable Fire, and Joshua Tree had. However as people recovered from their Y2K fears there were rumblings that U2 was coming out with a new album that was to harken back to the U2 of old.

We got a first glimpse of this old/new approach with the release of the single Beautiful Day and not only was it like U2 of old, it was a somewhat refreshing sentiment in light of a presidential election that focused more attention on the color of Al Gore’s suits than it did on what kind of temperament and policies someone like George W. Bush would bring to the White House. When the album was finally released all the hype was correct, U2 had gone back to making an album that was both poignant and meaningful, full of hope and courage.

What really sent the album over the top was that it seemed be a response to the events of 9/11, even though it was recorded a year prior to those events. Songs such as Beautiful Day, Stuck in a Moment, and especially Peace on Earth, New York, and Grace gave comfort to a grieving nation and Bono became our grief counselor, telling us everything is going to be ok, that we can stand up and move forward despite of all that happening around us. We can leave it all behind.

Don’t get me wrong, ATYCLB is not a dirge, it flat out rocks too. Songs such as Elevation, Beautiful Day, and Kite would be strong contenders on any U2 album and the Edge’s guitar work throughout the album is strong and the rhythm section really anchors the songs. One can listen to these songs today, forget about the events of 2000-01 and still find a strong, engaging album.

U2 has many great albums to choose from and it’s a lot of fun to chart their growth from Boy and October to War to Joshua Tree. One could quite easily pick any of those albums as a favorite. However for what it meant to me when it came out, how easily it was to listen to and feel better about the world, for giving us such classic songs as Kite, Peace on Earth and Beautiful Day, All That You Can't Leave Behind is one of my 30 best loved albums.

What is your favorite U2 album?

Place on the Definitive 200: 197

May 4, 2007

Friday Random Top 10

Here it is! In the tradition of American Idle, every Friday I will turn the I-Pod to shuffle and see what it spits out. This Friday's Top Ten:

1. Big Long Now – Nirvana
2. Cold War – Fred Eaglesmith
3. Hey Good Lookin’ – Hank Williams
4. I’m Left, You’re Right She’s Gone – Elvis Presley
5. Shakedown Street – Grateful Dead
6. The Sharpest Lives – My Chemical Romance
7. Trem Two – Mission To Burma
8. Kick Your Door Down – The Replacements
9. Wigwam – Bob Dylan
10. Jimmy Jazz – The Clash

April 30, 2007

30 Best Loved Albums - Some Girls

2007 will bring the 30th anniversary of my first rock concert (Kiss, December 2, 1977 – Metropolitan Sports Center). In honor of that momentous event I have decided to use this blog to review my 30 best loved albums. They will not be in any order or progression but I will try to review them musically and why they mean so much to me. I’ll also note if they made the Definitive 200 List. Here's number 8 on the list:

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8. Rollings Stones - Some Girls (1978)

As the last great Rolling Stones album, Some Girls came out at a time of enormous flux in popular music. In 1978, disco was still hugely popular and of course all the cool kids knew about punk. Most of the rock giants from the 60’s were either burnt out, gone, or easing into the nostalgia circuit. But not the Stones, they delivered one of their finest albums, one that covered disco, punk, and of course straight ahead rock and rock. There is/was only one band that could pull off such an effort and make it work, and for that reason alone Some Girls deserves a place on my list of Top 30 Albums.

One reason I really like Some Girls is that it not only reflects the times in which it was made but also reflects where the Rolling Stones were as a band and as individuals. By 1978 the Rolling Stones were a good decade into their “Greatest Rock and Roll Band? stage, with all the money, groupies, drugs, and adulation that goes with it. Jetting off to Rio, or St. Moritz, or New York, or Tokyo was a weekly occurrence and the Stones obliged by having houses, girlfriends, and parties at all the world’s hot spots, always ready to hit the scene with other beautiful people.

Thankfully the Rolling Stones music didn’t suffer with all this jet setting, in fact, at the time of Some Girls’ recording, Keith Richards was cleaner -- drug wise – than he had been for years. The recording sessions were in Paris and by all accounts were extremely productive. In fact the song Start Me Up was first recorded for Some Girls but Keith argued against its inclusion because he thought he stole the riff (turns out it was his own riff he stole). Just think how great this album would have been if it had also included Start Me Up?!! Wowza!

The album crosses many musical genres with the Stones putting their signature on Disco (Miss You), Country (Far Away Eyes), Motown (Imagination), and Punk (Shattered). The rest are straight ahead rock and rollers with the song Respectable an overlooked classic that should be dissected and taught in Rock School. The album ends with the song Shattered which perfectly described New York City circa 1978. The album got a lot of radio play and I purchased it shortly after it was released (with the Farrah Fawcett and Lucille Ball images on the cover, since changed due to lawsuits) and hungrily lapped it up in all its rock and roll glory. Besides the songs listed above, Keith Richards’ Before They Make Me Run and Beast of Burden were favorites. It was the perfect Rolling Stones album with a solid rhythm section, Keith’s fantastic riffs, and Mick’s vocals unmatched before or since.

The album ended up being one of the Rolling Stones biggest selling albums and for better or worse resurrected their career and ensured that they would be recording and releasing albums of new material well into the next millennium.

Rank in the Definitive 200: Not on the list!

What do you think of Some Girls?

April 27, 2007

Friday Random Top 10

Here it is! In the tradition of American Idle, every Friday I will turn the I-Pod to shuffle and see what it spits out. This Friday's Top Ten:

1. Beautiful Noise – Neil Diamond
2. The Gift – The Velvet Underground
3. Peaches – The Stranglers
4. Red Gas Circle – Guided By Voices
5. New Years Day – U2
6. Bricklayer – Husker Du
7. Honky Tonk Blues – Hank Williams
8. I Will (No Man’s Land) – Radiohead
9. 7 Chinese Bros. – R.E.M
10. Go – Pearl Jam

What's your top 10?

April 23, 2007

30 Best Loved Albums - Abbey Road

2007 will bring the 30th anniversary of my first rock concert (Kiss, December 2, 1977 – Metropolitan Sports Center). In honor of that momentous event I have decided to use this blog to review my 30 best loved albums. They will not be in any order or progression but I will try to review them musically and why they mean so much to me. I’ll also note if they made the Definitive 200 List. Here's number 7 on the list:

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7. The Beatles - Abbey Road (1969)

It’s tough picking a favorite Beatles album. Sgt. Pepper is an obvious choice. Even the Definitive 200 thinks so, as do others. However, as groundbreaking as it was in 1967, I feel that Sgt. Pepper hasn’t aged well and while I appreciate its place in music history, it is not one of my favorites. For me it comes down to Revolver and Abbey Road. Revolver may have better songs overall (and I might include it later on as a choice in my top 30), but I chose Abbey Road. It’s a choice that has both music and personal merit.

Most people know the back story behind Abbey Road. The Beatles had pretty much called it quits after the disastrous Let It Be sessions and George Martin stated that he wasn’t going to work with the Beatles again. The lads decided to give it one last try and coaxed George Martin back to the studio with the promise that the bickering would be kept to a minimum. What resulted was an album in which all four Beatles were intimately involved (not the case with The White Album or Let It Be), is comprised of a number songs that greatly contributed to the Beatles canon, and concludes with a 16-minute, 8-song musical opus that rivals anything found on Sgt. Pepper.

Personally, this album represents the time when I discovered the mind-expanding possibilities of music. Being 17 in 1980 was a time when marijuana was quite readily available and most young people smoked it, from burnouts to captains of the hockey team. Countless times I listened to this album through headphones, blissed out on the music, lyrics, and groove this album presented. Side 2 (this was in the time of albums) was especially a treat to listen to late in the evening before falling asleep. Furthermore, there is nothing better than staying up all night long and watching the sun come up while listening to Here Comes the Sun and Sun King. Other weed-enhanced highlights would include the fuzz-tone guitar at the end of I Want You, the abrupt ending of I Want You, the achingly slow beginning to Sun King, the almost imperceptible "shoot me" in Come Together and those weird horns in Because. What's also nice about this album is that there isn't a lot of the studio trickery weirdness involved like there had been in every Beatles album since Rubber Soul. Abbey Road has wild musical moments but its more due to the music and not George Martin's studio tricks.

As mentioned above, there are a couple of songs here that rank with some of the Beatles best, including two by George Harrison: Something and Here Comes the Sun. Come Together is the other. In addition to those three songs there are a number of highlights: Because is a beautiful song consisting of George, Paul and John’s three-part harmony. Oh Darlin' is a straight ahead rock screamer that harkens back to some of the Beatles’ early work and I Want You is a blues-based song with a Paul’s heady bass work. Given that the song consists basically of one line, the listener never gets bored with the song.

The 8-song (one song) ending is a perfect conclusion to the Beatles recording career as a band, especially the last song which includes a drum solo by Ringo and guitar solos by each of the three other Beatles playing off each other. The album concludes with the line: "And in the end… the love you take is equal to the love you make." A powerful message in a time of war from the world’s most popular rock band and a long way from "I want to hold your hand."

Rank in the Definitive 200: 12th on the list.

What's your favorite Beatles album?

April 20, 2007

Friday Random Top 10

Here it is! In the tradition of American Idle, every Friday I will turn the I-Pod to shuffle and see what it spits out. This Friday's Top Ten:

1. The Tooth Fairy and the Princess – Husker Du
2. Sunday Bloody Sunday – U2
3. Hey Tonight – Creedance Clearwater Revival
4. Unscathed – Jack Logan
5. Daughter – Pearl Jam
6. Something (acoustic version) – The Beatles
7. The World According to Nouns – The Minutemen
8. Before My Time – Johnny Cash
9. Lookout Mountain – Drive By Truckers
10. Cold Feelings – Social Distortion

What's on your top 10?

April 16, 2007

30 Best Loved Albums - Blonde on Blonde

2007 will bring the 30th anniversary of my first rock concert (Kiss, December 2, 1977 – Metropolitan Sports Center). In honor of that momentous event I have decided to use this blog to review my 30 best loved albums. They will not be in any order or progression but I will try to review them musically and why they mean so much to me. I’ll also note if they made the Definitive 200 List.

Although I have stated that I’m not going to rank or place in order my favorite 30 albums, there is somewhat of a method to my madness. The first five albums were near and dear to me, some may not necessarily be an all-time favorite, but instead are albums about which that I had a lot to say. The next five albums go in a different direction. They include artists with long and critically acclaimed careers with many, many different albums from which to choose. Sometimes it was hard to choose which album to review and if you asked why did I choose Blonde on Blonde over Highway 61 Revisited, I might have a hard time explaining. Usually the album has some special meaning that pushes it over the top. With that preamble, on to Number 6 on the list!

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6. Bob Dylan - Blonde on Blonde (1966)

The year 1966 was special in music history. The Beatles released Revolver, The Beach Boys' Pet Sounds came out, as did Sounds of Silence by Simon and Garfield. Velvet Underground and Nico was recorded in November of 1966, although it wasn’t released until 1967. Psychedelia was beginning to be heard on the fringes of music and Rock and Roll had moved from it’s bubble gum and kiddie-flavored themes to more adult flavors.

Bob Dylan was at the forefront of this transformation. In 1965 Dylan released two classic rock albums: Bringing It All Back Home and Highway 61 Revisited which moved him away from the folk-rock protest singer of the early ‘60s to a full-fledged Rock and Roll star. Blonde on Blonde was the stunning culmination of this transformation. Besides being the first double album by a major recording artist it is a testament to Dylan’s song writing prowess, a summit he’s rarely climbed since.

Even though the Beatles, Beach Boys and Velvet Underground were exploring new musical fields in 1966, Bob Dylan was sticking to straight ahead, blues-flavored rock and roll in Blonde on Blonde. The album kicks off with Rainy Day Woman #12 and #35 (a song I loathe) which is based on Ray Charles’ Lets Get Stoned. The next song, Pledging My Time, is also Blues soaked. A listener might think after hearing these two songs, that Dylan was transforming himself into a deep South bluesman. The tone changes quickly however in song three.

Visions of Johanna is a typical long-form Dylan song clocking in at over 7 minutes with dense lyrics and no chorus. The album kicks it up about 4 notches with the following songs: One of Us Must Know, I Want You, Stuck Inside of Mobile, Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat, Absolutely Sweet Marie, and Obviously 5 Believers. Each song a classic, not a throw away note or lyric in the bunch. Just Like A Woman is a song that could find a place on Bringing it Back Home or even Another Side of Bob Dylan. Although there is a question about who the song is about, it seems clear to me that it’s about Joan Baez (who returned the favor a few years later with Diamonds and Rust). The song 4th Time Around is meant as a spoof on Lennon’s Norwegian Wood and Dylan throws it in there to prove that he can do songs like that too.

Overall there is over 70 minutes of music with only one clunker (Rainy Day Woman). The album rocks, it has great lyrics, and a real cool vibe. Al Kooper’s organ is present throughout, and combined with Robbie Robertson’s guitar work, really anchors the album musically. Blonde on Blonde is Dylan at the height of his artistry and is the one album I will go back to time and time again. There might be better Dylan songs on different albums, but as a coherent, musically satisfying whole, recorded in a time of huge flux in popular music, it is the “Dylan? of all Dylan albums and deserves an exalted place in my favorite 30 albums.

Place on the Definitive 200: Criminally not included.

First Five Albums:
1. Pretenders - Pretenders
2. Replacements - Let It Be
3. Nirvana - Nevermind
4. Johnny Cash - American Recordings
5. Guided By Voices - Bee Thousand

April 13, 2007

Friday Random Top 10

Here it is! In the tradition of American Idle, every Friday I will turn the I-Pod to shuffle and see what it spits out. This Friday's Top Ten:

1. Can't Repeat - The Offspring
2. Treatment Bound - The Replacements
3. Weed King (Live) - Guided By Voices
4. The Book I Read (Live) - Talking Heads
5. From My Own True Love - The Decemberists
6. Born in the USA (Live) - Bruce Springsteen
7. Camera - R.E.M.
8. The Only One - Roy Orbison
9. The Finest Joke is Upon Us - Guided By Voices
10. She Said, She Said - The Beatles

Not a bad selection this week. What's on your Top 10?

April 9, 2007

30 Best Loved Albums - Bee Thousand

2007 will bring the 30th anniversary of my first rock concert (Kiss, December 2, 1977 – Metropolitan Sports Center). In honor of that momentous event I have decided to use this blog to review my 30 best loved albums. They will not be in any order or progression but I will try to review them musically and why they mean so much to me. I’ll also note if they made the Definitive 200 List. Here's number 5 on the list:

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5. Guided By Voices - Bee Thousand (1994)

Even though this album came out in 1994, I didn’t hear it until 2006 and for that I have to blame/thank Mary Lucia (DJ 89.3-The Current) for turning me on to Guided by Voices. Sometime last summer Mary Lucia played the song Motor Away and made some quip that GbV was her one of her favorites. Now of course I’ve probably heard Motor Away and I Am A Scientist over 100 times but I thought to myself now there’s a band that I really don’t know very well. So I downloaded a couple of songs, liked them, started reading up on the band, and pretty much decided that Bee Thousand was the album to take the plunge. Six months later I am a total GbV geek with hundreds of songs on my I-pod and GbV-related CD's, DVD’s and books scattered around my house like a tossed-aside Robert Pollard lyric.

Call it lo-fi, indy rock, DIY, or just plain weird, Bee Thousand (rhymes with Pete Townsend?) is all that but so much more. Guitars drop in and out in the middle of solos, songs break off after one chorus, and the album sounds like it was recorded in someone’s basement on a four-track machine – which it was. Arcane lyrics, fuzzy guitars, and off-key harmonies predominate. Even though there are 20 songs…with the longest song only 3:09, and many more under 2:30... it clocks in at a lean and sublime 37 minutes.

But oh what a glorious 37 minutes! If you can imagine infectious little songs with a Midwest twist on British Invasion-era pop you kind of get the idea of what you’re in for with Bee Thousand. If there was any justice in the pop music world, songs like Hardcore UFO’s, Tractor Rape Chain, Echos Myron, Queen of Cans and Jars, and I Am a Scientist would be as familiar as any song by the 60's-era Kinks, Raspberries, Bad Finger, or Hermann’s Hermits. Alas, Bee Thousand will have to conquer the world one unsuspecting listener at a time. The good thing is that it is doing just that. A virtual cult has grown up around this album with books, blogs, listening parties, and groupies all dedicated to any and everything Bee Thousand.

Now I’m part of the cult and proselytizing on its behalf. If you want your music so slickly-produced it can sell accounting services on TV with lyrics that are poll-tested and easily deciphered, well then Bee Thousand is probably not for you. However if you want to hear something that was written and sung for the love of music, that is both quirky and familiar, momentous yet fun, I implore you to check out Bee Thousand. Careful though, you might end up like me. I'll give the last word to Robert Pollard (from Echos Myron):

Most of us are quite pleased
With the same old song
And all of a sudden I’m relatively sane
With everything to lose and nothing to gain
Or something like that

Place on the Definitive 200: Right, like the compilers have even heard of the album.

April 6, 2007

Friday Random Top 10

Here it is! In the tradition of American Idle, every Friday I will turn the I-Pod to shuffle and see what it spits out. This Friday's Top Ten:

1. Star Eyes- Charlie Parker
2. Somethin 'bout You Baby I Love - Tom Jones
3. Kiss Me On The Bus - The Replacements
4. Christ For President - Billy Bragg and Wilco
5. 5 Years - David Bowie
6. The Butterfly Collector - The Jam
7. Original Prankster - The Offspring
8. I Put A Spell On You - Creedance Clearwater Revival
9. That's Not The Issue - Wilco
10. Victor Jara - Arlo Guthrie

What's your top 10?

April 2, 2007

30 Best Loved Albums - American Recordings

2007 will bring the 30th anniversary of my first rock concert (Kiss, December 2, 1977 – Metropolitan Sports Center). In honor of that momentous event I have decided to use this blog to review my 30 best loved albums. They will not be in any order or progression but I will try to review them musically and why they mean so much to me. I’ll also note if they made the Definitive 200 List. Here's number 4 on the list:

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4. Johnny Cash - American Recordings (1994)

This one was easy. As someone who has written a 2800 word essay Click Here for Essay on the meaning of the American Recording albums, I had to put American Recordings on my list. Since my dad listened to Johnny Cash, his music has always been a part of my musical life. We had the Live at San Quentinalbum and I would listen to that album over and over. As a smart ass teenager, my friends and I would goof on the fact that Johnny played San Quentin two times in a row and how much it would suck if a band like Kiss would play a song like Beth two times in a row at a concert.

By the time American Recordings came out, Johnny’s career was pretty much tapped out. Of course he could’ve always just played the casino circuit, singing his hits and Cashing in on the nostalgia; but a bearded rap producer would have none of that and convinced Johnny to just play songs in his living room, accompanied by nothing but his own acoustic guitar. The result was not only stunning but resurrected Johnny’s career and brought a whole new legion of fans to his music.

On the surface, American Recordings was surprising more for its sparseness and “folky? tenor than for its subject matter. Johnny Cash stripped down to the bare necessities: that clear, deep voice and an acoustic guitar. Peeking underneath that surface, however, brought about another image – that of a man acknowledging his own mortality; worried about sins both past and present with the understanding that those sins have called into question his standing in the afterlife. Songs like Delia’s Gone, The Beast in Me, 13, and Down There by the Train tell the tale of a man who has grievously sinned. Cash is not proud of these sins – he doesn’t boast or shrug them off. Instead there is the sad recognition that sin is the price man pays for its humanity.

American Recordings kicked of a certain format that we would see throughout the American Recordings sessions. A few originals, a couple of old standards, and a couple of covers that Johnny makes his own. The latter in American Recordings is a cover of the Danzig song 13. In the end the album is about sin and redemption. Johnny is telling us that we are all sinners but that there is a way out, we can seek redemption. Cash ends the album with The Man Who Wouldn’t Cry, a song that addresses the need for humility as it describes a hard-scrabbled man who lives a life of unsentimentalized failures and only finally through his tears is able to enter into heaven and gain all he lost on earth. Johnny would mine these fields even deeper in his next American Recordings Albums.

One can listen to American Recordings and dwell on the themes of sin and redemption or one can just listen to Johnny sing a bunch of old time songs in a way that only Johnny Cash could do. It’s why these albums are so popular and why, when Johnny Cash dies nearly 10 years later, hipsters and old folks alike lament his passing and his preacher-like image graces the cover of Time Magazine.

Place on the Definitive 200: Not on the List (!?!?)

March 30, 2007

Friday Random Top 10

Here it is! In the tradition of American Idle, every Friday I will turn the I-Pod to shuffle and see what it spits out. This Friday's Top Ten:

1. Send a Picture of Mother – Johnny Cash
2. The Best of Jill Hives – Guided By Voices
3. Decora – Yo La Tengo
4. 99% - Soul Asylum
5. Born in the USA – Bruce Springsteen
6. Peep-Hole – Guided By Voices
7. Jenny Take a Ride – Hypstrz
8. Oceans – Pearl Jam
9. Tension – Minutemen
10. The Long Honeymoon – Elvis Costello

What's your top 10?

March 26, 2007

30 Best Loved Albums - Nevermind

2007 will bring the 30th anniversary of my first rock concert (Kiss, December 2, 1977 – Metropolitan Sports Center). In honor of that momentous event I have decided to use this blog to review my 30 best loved albums. They will not be in any order or progression but I will try to review them musically and why they mean so much to me. I’ll also note if they made the Definitive 200 List. Here's number 3 on the list:

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3. Nirvana – Nevermind (1991)

It can never be understated what impact Nirvana’s Nevermind had on music and popular culture. When Nevermind displaced Michael Jackson’s Dangerous as number one on the album charts in early 1992 there was a shudder in the time-space continuum of popular culture. The impact continues today. Just last weekend I was at Home Depot and I heard the Decemberists’ O' Valencia over the in-store PA system. That plain and simple would never have happened without Nevermind.

Even though I was in my late 20’s when Nevermind came out, I still thought it absolutely rocked and I ate up every song. The first time I heard Smells Like Teen Spirit on the radio I knew that music had changed for the better and the buzz about this song and album was huge. You were asking and being asked “have you heard that Nirvana album? It’s amazing, you gotta hear it.? Never was a song like Teen Spirit heard on the radio and it opened the floodgates to a popular acceptance of what became known as alternative music and drove a stake through the heart of hair bands such as Whitesnake, Poison, and Skid Row. Out the door was music that was hedonistic and in came introspective, angst-ridden songs. Ennui became a word on every rock critic’s spell check.

One reason that Nevermind had such a big impact is that practically every song on the album was great. In most cases a band will release an album that has a huge break-out song on it but the rest of the album is flaccid at best. Not the case with Nevermind. From the opening song that everyone knows, followed by In Bloom and Come As You Are, you were hooked. Teen Spirit isn’t even the hardest rockin’ song on the album as Breed, Territorial Pissings, Drain You, Lounge Act, and Stay Away are fast, guitar-heavy songs that forcibly propel the listener to the end of the album. Breed and Territorial Pissings are classic punks songs that will still be exhilarating some 50 years from now.

Kurt Cobain’s guitar work is usually overshadowed by his songwriting but there are serious riffs on display here. Dave Grohl’s drumming really anchors every song along with Novoselic’s bass work. Like listening to Husker Du, I was surprised that such cacophony could come out of only three instruments. To the indiscriminate listener, it sounds like a bunch of noise. But if you take the time to listen, the melody is there and it times it’s quite complex.

Of course everyone knows the story of what happened to Kurt Cobain and it was only a matter of time before alternative music got co-opted by Madison Avenue (That’s the opening riff to Breed selling a baseball video game). But when Nevermind came out, not only was it thrilling to listen to but it was also satisfying as finally decent music was considered popular and being exposed to a larger population.

Place on Definitive 200: 10th on the list.

March 23, 2007

Friday Random Top 10

Here it is! In the tradition of American Idle, every Friday I will turn the I-Pod to shuffle and see what it spits out. This Friday's Top Ten:

1. Gentle on My Mind – Johnny Cash
2. Wire – U2
3. Love Thing – Stillwater
4. Ticket to Ride – The Beatles
5. Cocaine Lil – Mekons
6. All the Right Reasons – The Jayhawks
7. Water in the Fuel – Fred Eaglesmith
8. If Reagan Played Disco – The Minutemen
9. Reception – Trip Shakespeare
10. Wonderful Remark – Van Morrison

What's your Top 10?

March 19, 2007

30 Best Loved Albums - Let It Be

2007 will bring the 30th anniversary of my first rock concert (Kiss, December 2, 1977 – Metropolitan Sports Center). In honor of that momentous event I have decided to use this blog to review my 30 best loved albums. They will not be in any order or progression but I will try to review them musically and why they mean so much to me. I’ll also note if they made the Definitive 200 List. Here's number 2 on the list:

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2. The Replacements - Let It Be (1984)
Going to the University of Minnesota in the early- to mid-1980’s meant that I had a front row seat to the “Golden Age? of the local music scene. Any day of the week you could easily see the Suburbs, Soul Asylum, Husker Du, The Phones, Prince, The Wallets, and a host of other great bands that have slipped into the mists of time. However my personal favorite was by far The Replacements, a band that I easily saw more than 50 times. And so it goes without saying that Let It Be would be on my list of 30 best loved albums.

From the iconoclastic Beatles-esque title, to the cover of Paul, Bob, Tommy, and Chris sitting on the roof of a porch of a typical SW Minneapolis home, to the snarky song about MTV, the album perfectly captures the feel and sense of 1984. What is great about this album, however, is its timelessness. Even though I couldn’t imagine this album being recorded at any time other than 1984, the album doesn’t feel dated some 20 years later.

The album kicks off with I Will Dare which was easily the Replacements biggest hit and most accessible song. Through this song, a lot more people were brought into the Replacement’s fold and, like Pretenders, helped with the ladies as you could play this Replacements song and not clear the dance floor (important when you are in college!).

The following three songs, Favorite Thing, We’re Coming Out, and Tommy Got His Tonsils Out were classic Replacements rockers full of Bob’s furious guitar work and Paul’s smart assy lyrics. Androgynous is a switch as a piano-led, slower tempo song. It was right before Let It Be came out that Paul was hanging out with Peter Buck of REM (That’s Buck's mandolin on I Will Dare) and we saw them once hanging out at First Avenue with eye liner. Needless to say that my friend Pete and I used eyeliner a lot that summer when we went out.

Black Diamond was the first cover recorded by the Replacements and it was perfect as they played the song straight but in an “ironic? way so that anyone in the know would get the joke. Seen Your Video, with it’s three lines (Seen your video/it’s only rock and roll/we don’t want to know) also was spot-on as by this time MTV had been taken over by slick, expensively-produced videos usually from fey English bands that didn’t have room for guitars. Finally I think Gary’s Got a Boner would be considered a classic rock and roll song if it wasn’t for it’s goofy subject matter.

The songs Unsatisfied and 16 Blue were probably the most lauded songs and really shone a spotlight on Paul’s song writing skills. Even though I was 21 at the time, I wasn’t that too far removed from 16 and understood 16 Blue's significance completely. The Replacements were playing these songs live for a few months prior to the release of the album and at that time we knew that their next album was going to be something special.

Let It Be really demonstrated what the Replacements were and could be. It was an exciting time as it appeared that they were on their way to superstardom. Unfortunately they were about 10 years too early. If this album had been released in 1994, they would have been bigger than Nirvana. This album some kicked off what some consider the Holy Trinity of Replacements’ albums: Let It Be, Tim, and Pleased to Meet Me. Many consider Tim the definitive album, and I respect that opinion but for meaning and musical enjoyment, Let It Be will always be one of my fave’ things.

Place on the Definitive 200: Not on the List

March 16, 2007

Friday Random Top 10

Here it is! In the tradition of American Idle, every Friday I will turn the I-Pod to shuffle and see what it spits out. This Friday's Top Ten:

1. Dead Flowers - The Rolling Stones
2. Immigrant Song - Led Zeppelin
3. Comfortably Numb - Luther Wright and the Wrongs
4. Can't Buy Me Love - The Beatles
5. Big Day Coming - Yo La Tengo
6. The Woman with Tatooed Hands - Atmoshphere
7. Virginia Wolfe - Indigo Girls
8. Canceled Check - Beck
9. La La Love You - Pixies
10. Hero - Ministry

Boy I was getting my KQ on there for a bit! That Comfortably Numb Song is from Luther Wright and the Wrongs and they did the whole The Wall album "countried." It's a hoot!

March 12, 2007

Top 30 Albums

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has recently released its list of the “Definitive 200 albums? of all time. Now of course with any list, there are going to be snubs and surprises. All I’ll say is that any list of albums that includes Journey’s Escape (#126) but doesn’t include Blonde on Blonde is a little suspect. Check out the list and find the flaws.

More importantly, later in 2007 will bring the 30th anniversary of my first rock concert (Kiss, December 2, 1977 – Metropolitan Sports Center). In honor of that momentous event I have decided to use this blog to review my best loved 30 albums. They will not be in any order or progression but I will try to review them musically and why they mean so much to me. I’ll also note if they made the Definitive 200 List. So here goes.

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1. Pretenders - Pretenders (1979)
Although this album was released in 1979, I really didn’t hear it until 1981, however it came at a key point in my life. In 1981, popular music generally sucked and I was tired of the Journeys, Styx, and Bad Companys, etc., that ruled the airways. I had basically given up listening to what was popular at the time and was more interested in stuff from the 60’s. Then I heard Pretenders. For the first time I heard music that was really good but wasn’t being played on the radio or talked about a whole lot in popular culture. Hearing this album opened my ears (and my eyes) to a whole (what was then) new subculture of cool, cool music.

The album kicks off with Precious and right from the beginning you know you are in for a thrill ride. Crissie Hynde's tough-chick-in-a-red-leather-jacket spin on the whole Madonna-Whore thing is evident throughout the album but this song just oozes sexuality. Remember this is 1981 (for me) and girls didn’t sing in rock bands generally, and they sure as heck didn’t say "Not me baby, I'm too precious...ah Fuck Off!" like Crissie Hynde does at the end of this song. Tattoed Love Boys and especially The Wait were also in-your-face, sexually-charged rockers. In fact The Wait still gives me goosebumps some 25 years later (although the single version is even rawer than the version found on the album).

The album wasn’t just a rock fest as songs like Kid, Stop Your Sobbin’ and Brass in Pocket were all pretty good songs at a slower tempo. Stop Your Sobbin’ and Brass and Pocket were especially nice because the co-eds liked them too -- which is important when you’re in college trying to impress the ladies with your record collection.

Musically this album is pretty advanced for a debut. James Honeyman-Scott’s guitar work really anchors the album and his style is still being copied today but the star of the show was Crissie Hynde. She was tough and vulnerable: the kind of girl who could show you a thing or two in the bedroom, but also someone you could bring home to your mother on a Sunday afternoon.

This album saved me musically and without it I’d probably be into the Dave Mathews Band or be excited about the fact that Genesis is getting back together for a tour. For that reason it gets to be mentioned first in my list of my 30 best loved albums. Place on the Definitive 200: Not on the list.

March 9, 2007

Friday Random Top 10

Here it is! In the tradition of American Idle, every Friday I will turn the I-Pod to shuffle and see what it spits out. This Friday's Top Ten:

1. Quiet – Smashing Pumpkins
2. Portable Men’s Society – Guided by Voices
3. Doll Parts – Hole
4. Reason to Believe – Tim Hardin
5. Down the Highway – Bob Dylan
6. Tracks of My Tears – Soul Asylum
7. Our Singer – Pavement
8. A Girl Like You – Alex Chilton
9. Fifth House – John Coltrane
10. Gun – Soundgarden

What's your top 10?

March 2, 2007

Friday Random Top 10

Here it is! In the tradition of American Idle, every Friday I will turn the I-Pod to shuffle and see what it spits out. This Friday's Top Ten:

1. Bad Moon Rising – Creedance Clearwater Revival
2. Can’t Seem to Make Your Mine – Alex Chilton
3. Mean Mr. Mustard – The Beatles
4. Autumn Shade – The Vines
5. Man Come Around – Johnny Cash
6. Since You’ve Been Gone – Aretha Franklin
7. One Chord Wonders – The Adverts
8. Beeswax – Nirvana
9. Drowned – The Who
10. In the Ghetto – Elvis Presley

What's your top 10?

February 23, 2007

Friday Random Top 10

Here it is! In the tradition of American Idle, every Friday I will turn the I-Pod to shuffle and see what it spits out. This Friday's Top Ten:

1. X Offender – Blondie
2. I Got You Babe – Sonny and Cher
3. Lithium – Nirvana
4. Temptation – Joan Armatrading
5. Suspicious Minds – Elvis Presley
6. Pretty Little Missy – Louis Armstrong
7. Important in Your Life – Jonathan Richman
8. Climbing Up the Walls – Radiohead
9. Pretty Boy Floyd – Woody Guthrie
10. Satan Gave Me a Taco – Beck

Nice mix. Won't ever hear that combination on the radio! What's your top 10?

February 16, 2007

Friday Random Top 10

Here it is! In the tradition of American Idle, every Friday I will turn the I-Pod to shuffle and see what it spits out. This Friday's Top Ten:

1. Somewhere - Soundgarden
2. Theme from the Valley of the Dolls - k.d. lang
3. Season of the Shark - Yo La Tengo
4. Koka Kola - The Clash
5. Meet Me In Heaven - Johnny Cash
6. Like a Hurricane - Neil Young
7. Very Ape - Nirvana
8. Trashed Aircraft - Guided By Voices
9. Drinkin' and Cheatin' and Death - The Waco Brothers
10. Take These Chains From My Heart - Hank Williams

Wow! Now that's what I call an All Star Line up with a bunch of killer songs. What's your top 10?

February 14, 2007

Steve Jobs is Right

Recently Steve Jobs, head of Apple, publicly came out against DRM (Digital Right Management). DRM, for those who don’t know, is the software that recording companies put on legally downloaded music so that it cannot be shared. It’s why you can’t play songs downloaded via I-tunes on your Zune or use switch all those songs from Rhapsody to your new I-pod.

Steve Jobs basically says don’t blame Apple for DRM, it’s the record companies that are making us put DRM on all our downloaded songs. Apple would rather make songs available DRM-free. Now of course Apple could probably do more to change the record company’s behavior regarding DRM but in the end he’s right. DRM has got to go.

When I buy a CD (which I still do too much of), I can play it on my main stereo, my computer, a boombox, my car, my kids can play it on their boomboxes. I can bring it to my neighbor and play it and if I forget it at his house, he can play it without me around. When I get sick of the CD, I can sell it to Cheapo records and someone else can then buy it and play it on their stereo equipment. However, when you legally download a song this flexibility is not available. Depending on what program you are using, downloaded song are restricted to what computer it can be played on, the number of times it can be played, subscriptions have to be maintained in order to continue to listen to a song, and of course you can’t change .mp3 players because the song will only play on certain players. And the record companies wonder why millions of songs are downloaded illegally every year?

Now I don’t envy the recording industry. It is very simple to illegally download a song onto your computer. An eight-year-old with moderate computer skills could probably do it. I understand their concern about rights infringements and paying artists for their songs. However the current system with DRM does not work and only encourages people to illegally download music. A simple, DRM-free, legal means to download music is needed that allows anyone who downloads a song to have the same listening flexibility as someone who purchases a CD. Until the recording industry recognizes this fact, wholesale illegal downloading of music will continue.

What do you think?

February 12, 2007

10 ways the 2007 Grammys Sucked

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1. A three-song tribute to The Eagles
2. The Doors get a lifetime achievement Grammy
3. Lionel Ritchie singing Hello
4. Earth, Wind and Fire? Burt Bacharach? Smokey Robinson?

(aside, I am talking about the 2007 Grammys even though the above items make it seem like I’m reviewing the 1977 Grammys)

5. Wolfmother’s award is not televised
6. Flaming Lips’ award is not televised
7. Scarlett Johanson and Don Henley’s “patter?
8. Prince, one week after rocking Miami, gets to say one word
9. Carrie Underwood singing Desparado
10. James Blount – Beautiful

Sorry, this list isn't David Letterman funny, but the show was too soul crushing bad to make fun of. And to think only two short years ago Green Day and Kanye West absolutely crushed at the Grammy’s. Is it no wonder the Grammys teeter on the inconsequential?

February 9, 2007

Friday Random Top 10

Here it is! In the tradition of American Idle, every Friday I will turn the I-Pod to shuffle and see what it spits out. This Friday's Top Ten (first one with my new I-pod!):

1. Still Worth Nothing – Guided by Voices
2. Gimme Shelter – The Rolling Stones
3. Wedding Song – Peter, Paul & Mary
4. Long May You Run – Neil Young
5. Learn How – Mission of Burma
6. I Like Trains – Fred Eaglesmith
7. Mindless Child of Motherhood – The Kinks
8. Out of the Picture – Son Volt
9. Parasite – Kiss
10. Alison – Elvis Costello

How did the Wedding Song get in there? I think my new I-pod is defective. What's your Top 10?

February 1, 2007

No Top Ten

Since I am enjoying the florida sun, I am not doing a top 10. Hopefully this video tides you over.

January 26, 2007

Friday Random Top 10

Here it is! In the tradition of American Idle, every Friday I will turn the I-Pod to shuffle and see what it spits out. This Friday's Top Ten:

1. Lyla – Oasis
2. We Live Again – Beck
3. Leah – Roy Orbison
4. Big Rock Candy Mountain – Tom Waits
5. Action Time Vision – Alternative TV
6. Another the Letter – Wire
7. Man on the Moon – R.E.M.
8. Secure Yourself – Indigo Girls
9. Willpower – The Replacements
10. Prove My Love – Violent Femmes

This entry also brings a sad goodbye. My 20GB I-pod is on it's death bed with a corrupted hard drive. It took a bit of coaxing to get these 10 songs out and is probably not reflective of all 5,100 songs on the I-pod as I know many songs are kaput and can't be played any longer. So this will be the last Random Top 10 with that I-pod. So here's looking at you kid... may your soon-to-be silence not diminish the many hours of musical pleasure you brought to my ears.

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On the bright side, I already picked up a brand new 30gb video I-pod so don't cry any tears for me. I got it on e-bay for $200 which is a pretty good deal. I don't intend to watch episodes of Lost or the latest Jay-Z video on it, but I may upload some pictures and use it as a mini-photo album. What interesting things have you video I-pod geeks put on your I-pod?

January 19, 2007

Friday Random Top 10

Here it is! In the tradition of American Idle, every Friday I will turn the I-Pod to shuffle and see what it spits out. This Friday's Top Ten:

1. Someday Soon - Wilco
2. Fire - Jimi Hendrix
3. Eminius Sleepus - Green Day
4. Evenflow - Pearl Jam
5. Can't Help Fallin' In Love - Elvis Presley
6. Can't Buy Me Love - The Beatles
7. But If I Ask Them - Sis Cunningham
8. Sweet Jane - The Velvet Underground
9. The One I Love - R.E.M.
10. U-Mass - The Pixies

Wow! Some classics here. That's Why I love doing these lists. What's your Top 10?

Note: Changes to this Blog coming soon!! Stay Tuned.

January 12, 2007

Friday Random Top 10

Here it is! In the tradition of American Idle, every Friday I will turn the I-Pod to shuffle and see what it spits out. This Friday's Top Ten:

1. Love and Marriage – Frank Sinatra
2. Stormy Blues – Billy Holiday
3. Howlin’ at the Moon – Hank Williams
4. The Way Young Lovers Do – Van Morrison
5. The Vegetable Belt – Jack Logan
6. Losin’ You – Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
7. Pretty Fly (for a White Guy) – The Offspring
8. (All I can do is) Dream You – Roy Orbison
9. The Long and Winding Road – The Beatles
10. Tom Joad – Woody Guthrie

Wow, 5 songs over 50 years old. What's in your top 10?

January 5, 2007

Friday Random Top 10

Here it is! In the tradition of American Idle, every Friday I will turn the I-Pod to shuffle and see what it spits out. This Friday's Top Ten:

1. Jackson – Johnny and June Carter Cash
2. John Henry – Bruce Springsteen
3. Mysterious Ways – U2
4. Continental Trailways Blues – Steve Earl
5. Mary Jane – The Vines
6. Going Back – The Byrds
7. Digging a Hole – The Beatles
8. Ways of Love – Neil Young
9. Down the Highway – Bob Dylan
10. Radiation Vibe – Fountains of Wayne

What's in your top 10?

December 29, 2006

Friday Random Top 10

Here it is! In the tradition of American Idle, every Friday I will turn the I-Pod to shuffle and see what it spits out. This Friday's Top Ten:

1. Original of the Species – U2
2. Highway Patrolman – Johnny Cash
3. Fragile – Wire
4. Charlene – Fred Eaglesmith
5. Leader of the Pack – The Shangri-Las
6. The Way Young Lovers Do – Van Morrison
7. Drinkin’ & Cheatin’ & Death – The Waco Brothers
8. Walk it Off – Bellwether
9. Milk it – Nirvana
10. Baby Baby – The Vibrators

What's on your list? Have a Happy New Year!

December 22, 2006

Friday Random Top 10

Here it is! In the tradition of American Idle, every Friday I will turn the I-Pod to shuffle and see what it spits out. This Friday's Top Ten:

1. In the Sweet By and By -- Johnny Cash
2. Center Stage -- Indigo Girls
3. The Crane -- Trip Shakespeare
4. Stewban -- Peter, Paul and Mary
5. I'm Going to Make You Mine -- The Hypstrz
6. Dry Lightning -- Bruce Springsteen
7. Chinese Rock -- The Ramones
8. In the End -- Green Day
9. She's a Lady -- Tom Jones
10. Don't Forget Me -- Gear Daddies

Wow, builds up slow and ends strong. Favorite song this week? Return of the Grievous Angel by Gram Parsons. Great catchy tune, played in the style of Parson's trademark psychedelic country style. I could listen to this song 30 times in a row and not get sick of it.

What's your top 10?

December 20, 2006

Music 2006

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I did a detour in 2006 with the music I listened to. For some reason I did a lot of backfilling of my music catalog: Finally got CDs of albums that I had long ago, finally scratched an itch on a group that I always wanted to try out, or filled in on some bands that I liked. For that reason there isn’t a whole lot of new stuff that I listened to this year so this list, unfortunately won’t be a list of groovy tunes.

Also the new stuff that I did buy was mostly from long-established artists. Including guys who have been releasing stuff for 50 years (Johnny Cash); 45 years (Bob Dylan); 40 years (Neil Young); and 20 years (Yo La Tengo). There two relatively new acts on my list: My Chemical Romance and Death Cab for Cutie. So with that, here’s my best of a very short 2006 list.

Johnny Cash – A Hundred Highways. I already posted about this album here. But I was actually surprised at how good this was. As someone who has written 3000 words on the meaning of the American Recordings sessions, I had to get this album. I wasn’t expecting much, figuring it was Cashing in on anything recorded by the Man in Black. But this album is solid. Great songs, great stories. A must for any Johnny Cash fan.

Bob Dylan – Modern Times. I’ve really been interested in Dylan’s output lately, he’s really come back from some of that unlistenable stuff that was released in the late 70’s to early 90’s. This album is just as good as Time out of Mind, while not coming close to the brilliance of Blonde on Blonde or Blood on the Tracks. The song Workingman Blues #2 has to be one of my favorite songs this year.

Neil Young – Living with War. I also posted earlier about this album too. This album is incindiary (You Almost Famous fans will get the reference). Probably one of the most political albums put out by a mainstream artist in 35 years. But this album rocks too. Finally, even though Neil pulls no punches on GWB, you lefty liberals aren’t spared either. This album was originally released after just a couple of days of recording. Apparently, a remixed, cleaned up version is or has been released too.

Yo La Tengo – I Am Not Afraid of You and Will Beat Your Ass. Stupid title, great CD. The first song just rocks. The rest of the album has a variety of styles and moods – some I like, some I could do without. It’s amazing how many different kind of songs this band can record. If you wanted to know what the big deal is about Yo La Tengo, this album will give you a pretty good taste.

My Chemical Romance – The Black Parade. Goth rock for the teeny bopper set. This would be my guilty pleasure for the year. Rock and Roll in all its mascara and dyed hair glory. It’s like a bag of potato chips, you know it’s bad for you but you just can’t put the damn bag down.

Death Cab For Cutie – Plans. I’m pretty sure this was released in 2006, apologies if it wasn’t. I posted about one song from this album and continue to get comments. Very sensitive young men singing about love lost and found and the stress of being alive in such a complicated age. Great music if you just want to “chill out.?

Besides those albums from 2006, here are some other musical highlights from this year:

Guided by Voices
. I went big for GbV this year. Great band, great songs. It’s a shame more people didn’t get this band when they were around.

Wire. I picked up Wire’s first three albums. Wire along with The Velvet Underground are one of those bands that you can hear in a hundred other bands. It’s amazing how many riffs from these albums you still hear today in so called “new? bands.

Kiss Alive. One of my first albums and my first concert (December 2, 1977). I’ve been searching for this CD (cheap) for years.

Talking Heads - 77 and More Songs about Buildings and Food. I listened to these albums all the time in 1981-1983. Don’t know what took me so long to pick them up on CD.

Finally what’s the deal with the Black Eye Peas and Fergie? They have released probably two of the dumbest songs I ever heard this year: My Humps and Fergilicious. What’s next ? A song about the fact they like to eat peas on a knife? Stupid Stupid music from a musically talented band (although I’m guessing it’s Fergie’s Humps that got her a recording contract).

What turned you on musically this year?

December 15, 2006

Friday Random Top 10

Here it is! In the tradition of American Idle, every Friday I will turn the I-Pod to shuffle and see what it spits out. This Friday's Top Ten:

1. Full Moon Empty Heart -- Belly
2. Leave Mine to Me -- Bad Religion
3. Down There by the Train -- Johnny Cash
4. I Can't Help It -- Hank Williams
5. Too Young -- Nat King Cole
6. California Man -- Cheap Trick
7. Stormy Blues -- Billy Holiday
8. It's Hard to be a Saint in the City -- Bruce Springsteen
9. Copperhead Road -- Steve Earl
10. On the Bus Mall -- The Decemberists

Wow that was eclectic! Favorite Song this week? New England by Billy Bragg. Great song about a guy who wants to break up with his girlfriend, Contains the classic line: "I don't feel bad 'bout letting you go, I just feel sad 'bout letting you know."

What 's your top ten?

December 8, 2006

Friday Random Top 10

Elvis

Here it is! In the tradition of American Idle, every Friday I will turn the I-Pod to shuffle and see what it spits out. This Friday's Top Ten:

ELT – Wilco
Machine Gun – Jimi Hendrix
Mr. Grieves – Pixies
The Comedians – Roy Orbison
Runaway Wind – Paul Westerberg
Glow in the Dark Easy Cheese – Mitch Hedberg
Mrs. Leroy Brown – Loretta Lynn
Blue Moon of Kentucky – Elvis Presley
Masters of War – Bob Dylan
I want to be the Boy – White Stripes


December 6, 2006

5000 Songs!

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Over the weekend I uploaded my 5,000th song on my I-pod (Guided by Voices’ 14 Cheerleader Coldfront). Having 5,000 songs can be both a curse and a blessing. Sometimes its hard finding something I want or it’s difficult choosing between so many options. However, with 5,000 songs I can find music that fits any mood. Need some cheesy Tom Jones? Check. Want to rock out? I have my choice of Pearl Jam, Rage against the Machine, Nirvana, Van Halen, etc. Want to go KQ on it? Here’s the Beatles, Stones, Who, Bowie, Neil Young. Feeling pious? Have some Johnny Cash or Elvis singing Gospel. Seventies Punk? Here’s Wire, The Clash or Sex Pistols. Into beatnik poetry? I have Allen Ginsburg reciting Howl and Jack Kerouac reading from On the Road with Steve Allen on jazz piano. Low-Fi mood? Here’s some Pavement and Guided by Voices.

With that here is the top 10 artists on my I-pod based on the number of songs:

Johnny Cash – 197
Guided by Voices – 166
Bob Dylan – 100
R.E.M. – 99
Neil Young – 95
Elvis Presley – 88
Elvis Costello – 87
The Beatles – 75
Handsome Family – 68
Fred Eaglesmith – 66

If you want to know what my musical tastes are? There’s no better way then looking at the genre of the songs on my I-pod. I’m pretty vigilant in listing the genre’s for each song and while I’m sure someone could argue the choices (for instance what’s the difference between alternative and alternative-punk?) I can stand by them. Here is a listing of all the genre’s for the 5,012 songs on my I-pod.

Alt-Country – 269
Alternative – 401
Alternative & Punk – 935
Alt-Folk – 63
Blues/R&B – 62
Comedy – 6
Country – 484
Folk – 517
Folk-Rock – 33
Funk – 8
Gospel/Religious – 39
Hard Rock – 56
Hip Hop/Rap – 14
Indie Rock – 18
Industrial – 18
Jazz – 154
Metal – 10
New Wave – 162
Oddity – 3
Pop – 281
Punk – 145
R&B – 51
Rap – 2
Reggae – 14
Rock – 1,114
Rock/Rap – 3
Rockabilly – 54
Ska – 45
Spoken Word – 40
Techno – 11

What’s on your I-pod/MP3 Player?

December 1, 2006

Friday Random Top Ten

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Here it is! In the tradition of American Idle, every Friday I will turn the I-Pod to shuffle and see what it spits out. This Friday's Top Ten:

1. Indifference - Pearl Jam
2. Almost Blue - Elvis Costello
3. Let's Ride - Guided by Voices
4. Summertime - Janis Joplin
5. Burn, Baby Burn - Rev. F.D. Kirkpatrick
6. Returning the Screw - Fugazi
7. Mincer Ray - Guided by Voices
8. We Got the Neutron Bomb - The Weirdos
9. Leaving on a Jet Plane - Peter, Paul, and Mary
10. Adult Books - X

Favorite Song this week? Since I have two Guided by Voices songs in this week's top 10, I thought I'd go for the trifecta and call out GbV's Teenage FBI as my favorite. It's a perfect sugary "teenager-in-love" song with hooks a mile wide, frothy lyrics, and a synthesizer-led chorus that just brings down the house. More on Guided by Voices in the near future.

What's yourTop 10?

November 28, 2006

Freedom and Weep

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Pass me the bottle/hand me my heart/I'm wasted and stunted/but I talk like a star/Well the money's all gone before the check even clears/Left with nothing, nothing at all.

Right from it's opening verse (above) The Waco Brothers' 2005 album Freedom and Weep, drags your sorry ass all over the dusty, beer-and-piss-soaked dance floor leaving you in the back alley with the junkies puking in their brown paper whiskey-bottled bags. Along the way you are confronted with the sad state of fake Nashville idols, the crassness of Reality TV, the falsity of Intelligent Design, and the shame of George W. Bush.

This snarling, take-no-prisoners approach from a bunch of 40 and 50 year olds gives this album an edge that most 20-something, snot-nosed punks couldn't muster even if they gave up their left tatoo. Freedom and Weep is a country album that is more Bakersfield than Nashville; a punk album more Chicago than London; a political album more Daily Kos than George Will. An album that even an alt-country hillbilly blogger could love.

If you like your country straight, no chaser with a splash of kick-ass, put this album on your Christmas list. Just remember to turn it up real loud!

This entry dedicated to Mark.

November 24, 2006

Friday Random Top Ten

Here it is! In the tradition of American Idle, every Friday I will turn the I-Pod to shuffle and see what it spits out. This Friday's Top Ten:

1. Revolution - The Beatles
2. Down the Line - Johnny Cash
3. Think About It - The Jayhawks
4. Holywater - Soundgarden
5. I'm a Believer - Neil Diamond
6. Miss Being Mrs. - Loretta Lynn
7. Echos - Pink Floyd
8. To Hell with Poverty - Gang of Four
9. I Don't Care if the Sun Don't Shine - Elvis Presley
10. Come Out and Play - The Offspring

I wouldn't be surprised to hear this list on a College Radio Station. Favorite song this week? Tear Stained Eye by Son Volt. Slide guitar - check. Banjo - check. Tawngy voice - check. Yearning for a lost love - check. Put it all together and you have one classic country song.

November 17, 2006

Friday Random Top 10

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Here it is! In the tradition of American Idle, every Friday I will turn the I-Pod to shuffle and see what it spits out. This Friday's Top Ten:

1. Thanks A Lot - Hank and Ruth
2. Nashville Blues - Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
3. Close to Me - The Cure
4. I'll be Your Mirror - The Velvet Underground
5. We'll Never Turn Back - The Freedom Singers
6. Allison - Elvis Costello
7. Let it be Me - Social Distortion
8. I Believe - R.E.M
9. Outlaw Blues - Bob Dylan
10. Conduit For Sale - Pavement

Nice list, nothing spectacular. Favorite song this week? Common People by William Shatner and Joe Jackson. This song absolutely rocks. Combine Shatner's narration/over emoting with Jackson's raw, over-the-top singing and you have a rock and roll classic. I could listen to this song 10 times a day and not get sick of it.

What's your Top 10?

November 10, 2006

Friday Random Top 10

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Here it is! In the tradition of American Idle, every Friday I will turn the I-Pod to shuffle and see what it spits out. This Friday's Top Ten:

1. 15 Years in Indiana – Jack Logan
2. He Was a Friend of Mine – Willie Nelson
3. Sometimes Good Guys Don’t Wear White – The Hypstryz
4. Wild Thing – Jimi Hendrix
5. No More Blues – the Blasters
6. Is She Really Going Out With Him – Joe Jackson
7. Up Around the Bend – Creedence Clearwater Revival
8. Birmingham Sunday – Richard Farina and Mimi Baez
9. Hand in Hand – Elvis Costello
10. After Midnight – The Cowboy Junkies

Fun list, I'd love to hear that on the radio sometime. Favorite song this week? Heroin by The Velvet Underground. Now I've never shot smack, but I've felt that I don't have to because of this song. The way it builds slowly with short fast rushes of anticipation and/or nervousness, the bass drum pounding a heartbeat faster, faster, until finally, the singer describes the heroin reaching his brain and the drum/heartbeat is pounding manically, the guitars are just screaming, and I swear the guitars are producing a sound that is out of range of human hearing, but you know it's there. If that isn't a non-drug heroin rush, I don't want to take the drug anyway.

What's your top 10?

November 8, 2006

Neil Young - Living with War

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When historians look back at the 2006 mid-term election and want to figure out what was going through the mind of the American public as they decisively threw the Republican Party out of office, I suggest that they listen to Neil Young’s new album Living with War.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting that tens of millions of American voters listened to this album and then went out and voted, but I do think that this album perfectly captures the mood of the country at this point and time. At times the album can be blistering in its criticism of George W. Bush as such songs as Let’s Impeach the President and Shock and Awe leave little to the imagination of what Neil thinks of our President. But don’t dismiss this album as an anti-Bush screed. Young also captures the yearning most Americans have for a leader, any leader, who will work to make this country better, and chides Americans for not demanding more from our leaders or holding them accountable for their actions.

Flags of Freedom is probably one of the most patriotic songs I have ever heard from a rocker. It describes an old time military parade full of new recruits on their way to war (presumably Iraq). Parents and family members watch proudly and with trepidation as their sons and daughters, husbands, and wives, brothers and sisters march off to war. However there is criticism directed to the rest of us who stayed behind, as Young describes a sister who is there to watch her brother off to war but is then distracted by what is playing on a flat screen TV in a shop window. Finally in case you still don’t get what Neil is trying to say on Living with War, he ends the album with a gospel choir version of America the Beautiful.

Apparently this album was put together in a couple of days and it shows in some places. It probably has the most DIY vibe on a major label album since Guided By Voices’ Bee Thousand album. Also if you groove on Neil Young but don’t care about the lyrics, there still are a couple of classic Neil Young with Crazy Horse stompers here. On Neil’s web site there are videos of Neil arranging the songs, which is also quite fascinating.

If you were excited by the election results this album is for you. If you were confused and angry about the outcome, listen to this album to get a better understanding of what many of your fellow Americans are feeling. If you love Neil Young's music, get this album. Finally if you are fascinated in seeing how a Hall of Fame rock and roll star can be both political and patriotic, angry and hopeful, irreverent and relevant, go out and get Living with War.

November 3, 2006

Friday Random Top 10

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Here it is! In the tradition of American Idle, every Friday I will turn the I-Pod to shuffle and see what it spits out. This Friday's Top Ten:

1. A Mutual Friend - Wire
2. Don't Worry About the Government - Talking Heads
3. Highway 61 Revisted - Bob Dylan
4. Can't Tame a Wild Woman - Washboard Hank and the Squirrels
5. Go Limp - Matt McGinn
6. I Wanna Live - Ramones
7. I Love You - G. Love and Special Sauce
8. Decauter - Sufjan Stevens
9. Cocaine Lil - Mekons
10. This, Too - Mieka Pauley

Favorite song this week? Chicago from Sufjan Stevens. Now I don't get the whole Sufjan Stevens thing, I can't even get through his album Illinois but I think you would be hard pressed to find anyone who doesn't like Chicago. Great lyrics, a haunting melody, and oh those strings. How can someone make a song so perfect on an album so wretched?

What's your top 10?

October 27, 2006

Friday Random Top 10

here it is! In the tradition of American Idle and Rox Pop, every Friday I will turn the I-Pod to shuffle and see what it spits out. This Friday's Top Ten:

1. Punk and the Grandfather - The Who
2. Amelia Earhart vs. the Dancing Bear - Handsome Family
3. Country Blues - Dock Boggs
4. First Glimmer - Paul Westerberg
5. 5th Dimension - The Byrds
6. Boulevard of Broken Dreams - Green Day
7. Galileo - Indigo Girls
8. Strength - Gear Daddies
9. Heaven - Joan Armatrading
10. Barricade - Super Suckers

Favorite song this week? Flags of Freedom from Neil Young's incredible new album Living in War. Harkens back to those rockin' political songs Neil likes to shoot out every so often. More on this album in a future post.

What's your top 10?

Anyone going to Dylan this week

October 13, 2006

Friday Random Top 10

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Sorry, haven't blogged much lately, I've got a couple of good entries coming up so stay tuned. Anyway, here it is! In the tradition of American Idle and Rox Pop, every Friday I will turn the I-Pod to shuffle and see what it spits out. This Friday's Top Ten:

1. Stetson Kennedy - Billy Bragg & Wilco
2. Fishing Blues - Henry Thomas
3. Bingo Master - The Fall
4. Mr. Zebra - Tory Amos
5. Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For - U2
6. Minglewood Blues - Cannon's Jug Stompers
7. Ballad of Tom Joad - Woody Guthrie
8. Gypsy Davy - Woody Guthrie
9. Excitable Boy - Warren Zevan
10. Whatsername - Green Day

Lots of folk music this week with 3 songs either written or performed by Woody Guthrie. Favorite song this week? Rear View Mirror by Pearl Jam. Just a straigt ahead rocker with great lyrics. A crowd pleaser when played live too.

Who's that in the picture at the top of this post? Actually it's quite easy. First person to tell me know it is and what they did will get a free Husker Du song for their ipod or mp3 player. Put your answer in the comments!!

What's your top 10?

October 6, 2006

Friday Random Top 10

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Here it is! In the tradition of American Idle and Rox Pop, every Friday I will turn the I-Pod to shuffle and see what it spits out. This Friday's Top Ten:

1. Sunny Side of the Mountain - Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
2. Demons are Real - Guided by Voices
3. Nausea - X
4. Marmora Pig - Washboard Hank and the Squirrels
5. O Maria - Beck
6. Through these Eyes - Social Distortion
7. Human Hands - Elvis Costello
8. Ready, Steady, Go - Generation X
9. Swiftly but Gently - Young Fresh Fellows
10. Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love - Van Halen

Nice mix - got your blue grass, 70's punk, lo-fi, power pop, cock rock, and Beck. Favorite song this week? Amelia Earhart by The Handsome Family. Song about what is going through Amelia Earhart's mind as her plane crashes. This song haunted me a couple of summers ago.

What's your top 10?

September 29, 2006

Friday Random Top Ten

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Here it is In the tradition of American Idle and Rox Pop, every Friday I will turn the I-Pod to shuffle and see what it spits out. This Friday's Top Ten:

1. The Young New Mexican Puppeteer - Tom Jones
2. Vintage Man - Jack Logan
3. Two Little Hitlers - Elvis Costello
4. Honky Tonk Blues - Hank Williams
5. Accidents Will Happen - Elvis Costello
6. Angel Band - The Stanley Brothers
7. Wash Me - k.d. Lang
8. This Time Darlin' - Social Distortion
9. Do You Wanna Party? - K.C. and the Sunshine Band
10. My Father's Mansion's Rooms - Pete Seeger

What a wacked out list! That Tom Jones song has got to be one of the worst. Favorite song this week - Country Girl from Primal Scream. Just a great toe-tapping, sing-along song. Puts a smile on my face every time I hear it.

What's your top ten?

September 22, 2006

Friday Random Top 10

Here it is In the tradition of American Idle and Rox Pop, every Friday I will turn the I-Pod to shuffle and see what it spits out. This Friday's Top Ten:

1. Pop Phenomenon - The Push Kings
2. Paranoid Android - Radiohead
3. Elderly women behind the counter in a small town - Pearl Jam
4. Pencil Test - Yo La Tengo
5. Puddin' Fingers - The Handsome Family
6. Coo Coo Bird - Clarence Ashley
7. In Bloom - Nirvana
8. Yesterday - The Beatles
9. Outdoor Miner - Wire
10. Jane - Golden Smog

Nice mix. Favorite song this week is a little sentimental. It's Wouldn't it be Nice by the Beach Boys. Great sweet song, that I think should actually be classified as bittersweet as I think Brian Wilson is singing about something that he doesn't think will happen. Even with that knowledge it's hard to listen to this song and not smile.

September 15, 2006

Friday Random Top Ten

In the tradition of American Idle and Rox Pop, every Friday I will turn the I-Pod to shuffle and see what it spits out. This Friday's Top Ten:

1. Smile - Jayhawks
2. Contra La Por - Raimon Padilla
3. Stay Hungry - Talking Heads
4. Party Like It's 1999 - Prince
5. Carry that Weight - The Beatles
6. Live in a Hole - Big Black
7. Wave a White Flag - Elvis Costello
8. Iron Man - Black Sabbath
9. Fitter, Happier - Radiohead
10. Trip through Your Wires - U2

Nice mix again, plus The. Worst. Radiohead. Song. Ever. Favorite song this week? Statue of Jesus by the Gear Daddies. Even if you've never been drunk sitting under a statute of Jesus, thinking about your lousy life, I think everyone can relate to this song. That first verse is a killer: Well I'm sitting downtown night crying 'neath the statue of Jesus/Both of us so lonely and cold, hope no one can see us/I know I'm drunk here but I don't think that He cares/surely He must understand these crosses that I bear/so I'm sitting downtown crying 'neath the statue of Jesus.

September 8, 2006

Friday Random Top 10

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In the tradition of American Idle and Rox Pop, every Friday I will turn the I-Pod to shuffle and see what it spits out. This Friday's Top Ten:

1. Levitate Me - Pixies
2. Cold Beverage - G. Love and Special Sauce
3. Big River - Johnny Cash
4. Rock & Roll - Led Zeppelin
5. 23 Beats Off - Fugazi
6. Unchain My Heart - Ray Charles
7. I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For - U2
8. Who'll Stop the Rain - Creedance Clearwater Revival
9. Sailin' to Hawaii - Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
10. Lady Godiva's Operation - The Velvet Underground

Wow! My favorite top 10 yet. Nice mix of songs and styles, I love everyone of these songs. Favorite song this week? Workingman Blues #2 from Dylan's new album Modern Times. Just a beautiful song, great lyrics. Easily Bob's best song since Tangled Up in Blue. (Sick of Love a close 2nd). Btw, T(T.F.)S, let me know how the Dylan concert was in Rochester, I almost called you up to see if I could hitch a ride, but family obligations got in the way.

What's your top 10?

September 1, 2006

Friday Random Top Ten - Labor Day Edition

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In the tradition of American Idle and Rox Pop, every Friday I will turn the I-Pod to shuffle and see what it spits out. This Friday's Top Ten:

1. New Soft Shoe - Gram Parsons
2. Peace on Earth - U2
3. Black - Pearl Jam
4. John Wayne Gacy Jr. - Sufjan Stevens
5. Misunderstood - Wilco
6. Heat Wave - The Half Dozen
7. Big Star - Jayhawks
8. Rosie - Joan Armatrading
9. Only the Lonely - Roy Orbison
10. With a Little Help From my Friends - The Beatles

Favorite song this week - Strange Fruit by Billie Holiday. This is a very powerful song about lynchings. It was performed by Billie Holiday in the 30's and 40's when lynchings of black men went practically unabated in the South. The quiet rage she brings to this song, the bewilderment, the sadness...cuts like a knive.

What's on your top 10?

August 27, 2006

Death Cab For Cutie - I Will Follow You into the Dark

When I was thinking about my brother's death and how to address it in a blog entry (8/20), I kept coming back to the Death Cab for Cutie Song I Will Follow You into the Dark off their latest album Plans. I wanted to include a discussion of the song in that post, but thought that it deserved it's own entry.

I included the lyrics below for anyone who's not familar with the song. It is quite a beautiful acoustic song, apparently done in one take, where the singer is comforting someone about an impending death, letting them know that they aren't alone. It's very familar in subject to the Johnny Cash song Will You Meet me in Heaven.

I thought a lot about what the singer was trying to say. Is it for someone who is afraid to die and the singer is letting them know that their hearts are linked and that they won't be alone, even in death? Or, one could almost read the song as a suicide pact: If you go, so will I so that you won't be alone. Given DCFC's heavy Emo fan base, this song will probably be playing at a lot of funerals of young people who have died tragically or through suicide. DCFC discussion boards and the video really didn't offer any insight on the song.

However, I took a different take on the song. To me the song is about depression. People with depression talk about the fear of being alone, of not being accepted, and that bouts of depression are many times described as entering the "dark." This song is for those people, its telling them you're not alone....I am there with you, I will follow you in the dark, I will go whereever you go to let you know that you are loved. Even if heaven and hell won't accept you, I will. A pretty powerful message to send to anyone depressed or considering suicide.

What do you think this song is about?

I Will Follow You Into The Dark
Love of mine some day you will die
But I'll be close behind
I'll follow you into the dark

No blinding light or tunnels to gates of white
Just our hands clasped so tight
Waiting for the hint of a spark
If heaven and hell decide
That they both are satisfied
Illuminate the no's on their vacancy signs

If there's no one beside you
When your soul embarks
Then I'll follow you into the dark

In Catholic school as vicious as Roman rule
I got my knuckles brusied by a lady in black
And I held my toungue as she told me
"Son fear is the heart of love"
So I never went back

If heaven and hell decide
That they both are satisfied
Illuminate the no's on their vacancy signs

If there's no one beside you
When your soul embarks
Then I'll follow you into the dark

You and me have seen everything to see
From Bangkok to Calgary
And the soles of your shoes are all worn down
The time for sleep is now
It's nothing to cry about
Cause we'll hold each other soon
The blackest of rooms

If heaven and hell decide
That they both are satisfied
Illuminate the no's on their vacancy signs

If there's no one beside you
When your soul embarks
Then I'll follow you into the dark
Then I'll follow you into the dark


August 25, 2006

Friday Random Top Ten

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In the tradition of American Idle and Rox Pop, every Friday I will turn the I-Pod to shuffle and see what it spits out. This Friday's Top Ten:

1. Blue Moon Revisited - Cowboy Junkies
2. Now I'm Here - Queen
3. Needle and the Damage Done - Neil Young
4. Shaggy Doll (Demo Version) - Elvis Costello
5. You Tell Me - Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
6. Teach Me the Rules - Jack Logan
7. Guess Things Happen That Way - Johnny Cash
8. Donald Lowes - Washboard Hank and the Squirrels
9. Enter Sandman - Metallica
10. Cut me Off - Gear Daddies

Looks like I could have been a program director for Cities 97 in 1992! My favorite song this week is Bad Boys Get Spanked by The Pretenders. In the fall of 1981 hearing this song single handedly turned me from a shaggy-haired stoner to a snot-nosed punk. That chugging back beat, Chissy Hynde's orgasmic squeals at the end, the way the song keeps getting faster and faster... I was never the same after hearing that song.

August 18, 2006

Friday Random Top 10

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In the tradition of American Idle and Rox Pop, every Friday I will turn the I-Pod to shuffle and see what it spits out. This Friday's Top Ten:

1. Stick in the Mud - The Jayhawks
2. Loveless Love - The Feelies
3. Silverfuck - Smashing Pumpkins
4. Beautiful Noise - Neil Diamond
5. Wrecking Ball - Neil Young
6. You can't have me - Alex Chilton
7. Free Money - Pattie Smith
8. Me, Myself, and I - Joan Armatrading
9. Political song for Michael Jackson - The Minutemen
10. I Believe - R.E.M.

Favorite song this week - Big Boys by Elvis Costello. This song perfectly reflects teenage boy angst trying to figure out that most mythical of creatures: the teenage girl. The acoustic bonus selection on My Aim is True is especially poignant as nothing captures awkard teenage love like a lone voice and a guitar playing a single chord.

What's your top ten?

August 11, 2006

Friday Random Top 10

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In the tradition of American Idle and Rox Pop, every Friday I will turn the I-Pod to shuffle and see what it spits out. This Friday's Top Ten:

1. All I want - The Offspring
2. Because the night - Bruce Springsteen
3. Familar Love - William Shatner
4. The Broad Majestic Shannon - The Pogues
5. Not yet three - Jonathon Richman
6. Three coins in the fountain - Frank Sinatra
7. The Tooth Fairy and the princess - Husker Du
8. Ripple - Grateful Dead
9. Wayfaring stranger - Johnny Cash
10. Weirdo - Miles Davis

Now that's what I call a diverse and random selection. Favorite song this week, well I'm a little embarrassed but it's Love Removal Machine from The Cult. I've always loved this song, basically because it's such an obvious Led Zeppelin rip off. Plus if you are a teenager or someone in their early 20's it's a great song to play during sex. Which by definition makes it a great rock and roll song.

August 4, 2006

Friday Random Top 10 (NYC Version)

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In the tradition of American Idle and Rox Pop, every Friday I will turn the I-Pod to shuffle and see what it spits out. This Friday's Top Ten:

1. Goodbye's all we got - Steve Earl
2. Help save the youth of America - Billy Bragg
3. News of the World - The Jam
4. Lucky - Radiohead
5. The Caretaker - Johnny Cash
6. Most likely you go your way and I'll go mine - Bob Dylan
7. Flowers in the Dell - Fred Eaglesmith
8. Dice behind your shades - Paul Westerberg
9. Lost Love - Golden Smog
10. Jewel in a cobweb - Jules Shear

My favorite song this week is Wild Horses from U2's Achtung Baby. I love those fuzzy guitars, those sha la la's and that sweeping progression. I think it's U2's first love song too!

July 28, 2006

A Hundred Highways - Johnny Cash

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In the first four American Recording albums, Johnny Cash tackled the issues of sin and redemption, questioned his faith, and ultimately came to terms with his steady march toward death, knowing that full forgiveness awaited him. (For my full take on these albums, Download file).

The latest in the American Recordings series - A Hundred Highways - comes nearly three years after his death and was recorded during the time his wife June died and while his health was steadily failing. As with the four previous albums and the unfortunately named boxset of outtakes - Johnny Cash Unearthed - we have Rick Rubin recording Johnny as he tackles old standards, new compositions, and surprising covers with spare production and minimal backup.

Continue reading "A Hundred Highways - Johnny Cash" »

Friday's Random Top Ten

In the tradition of American Idle and Rox Pop, every Friday I will turn the I-Pod to shuffle and see what it spits out. This Friday's Top Ten:

1. I'm always in Love - Wilco
2. High Road - Feelies
3. With God on our Side - Bob Dylan
4. (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction - Devo
5. Dreams Dissolve in Tears - Jules Shear
6. What if I gave it Away - R.E.M.
7. My Baby - The Messengers
8. Mansion on the Hill - Hank Williams
9. No Surrender - Bruce Springsteen
10. Killing Moon - Echo and the Bunnymen

Cool mix, I kinda like it. What's your Top Ten? Use the Comments.

July 21, 2006

Friday Random Top Ten

In the tradition of American Idle and Rox Pop , every Friday I will turn the I-Pod to shuffle and see what it spits out. This Friday's Top Ten:

1. Looking for the next best thing - Warren Zevon
2. Did I tell you - Yo La Tengo
3. Overtime - Bellwether
4. Trav'lin' Light - Billie Holiday
5. I will - Radiohead
6. Paper Mache Man - Hank and Ruth
7. Chinese Lorraine - Jack Logan
8. So Fine - Chancellors
9. Stupid Boy - Geardaddies
10. Cannonball Rag - Nitty Gritty Dirt Band

Quite a mix, with a bunch of local stuff to boot. The Radiohead kinda sticks out, otherwise I would have had a theme going.

July 20, 2006

Numa Numa Song - A History

You know that crazy Numa Numa song? The one where the kid lips syncs in his web cam that was all the rage a year or so ago. Well here is more history than you would ever want to know about that song, the band, and that kid.