Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Christgau Post On Closing Of Blender

So, you want to be a Rock Critic? Read this excellent post from Robert Christgau on the behind the scenes activities of Rolling Stone and the closing of Blender and in the last couple of paragraphs what it means to be a rock critic in today's economy.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Music Critic's Who Make Albums

Eric Brace is the lead singer of Last Train Home, but for 10 years he was a music writer for the Washington Post. Peter Cooper, well that name should be familiar with anyone who reads about Country music. I've seen his stuff in No Depression and other things. Last year Cooper released his first album and it was damn good. Lots of Gram Parsons, Rodney Crowell and John Prine type of stuff. Now both have teamed up for You Don't Have To Like Them Both (Red Beet), and it too is damn good. Country duet albums. Those were the days, which is one reason I like this. Americana, Country and shades of the Everly's, which means I'll have to make room for it on my year end lists, especially since I foolishly left out Cooper's album last year.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

R.I.P. Blender Magazine

I subscribed to Blender, but did notice that the last few issues were getting mighty thin, which is never good when you live on ad revenue. Anyway, the review sections were good and they had good writers (Christgau, Rob Sheffield, etc.) reviewing records. But now it's gone.
Closings: "Blender," R.I.P.

Are Rolling Stone and Spin the only magazine left in America that still covers the same things Blender did?

Saturday, March 28, 2009

ELO In No Depression?

A reminisce about ELO taken from an Americana website and written by one of the founders of No Depression? Brilliant. And it's a good post.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Problem With Fleetwood Mac

This review of a Fleetwood Mac pretty much sums up what I heard on their last tour. Especially about Buckingham. But it fails to bring up the reason the band isn't as good as they once were: Christine McVie. Without her light and airy voice her songs done on tour now just aren't the same. And by the way they are only doing 2 of her songs: "Don't Stop" and "Say You Love Me", which means they think they audience won't miss an "Over My Head" or "Little Lies". Their wrong. There were, ahem, rumors that another female (Sheryl Crow) would be added to the tour, and they could use another female voice. But this Mac just isn't as compelling, memories or not. And if you need further evidence they miss McVie or another woman, see the truly medicore Say You Will.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Playlist for 3/26

James Brown - Live at the Apollo II
Kelly Clarkson - All I Wanted
Paul McCartney - Venus and Mars
Rolling Stones - December's Children
British Invasion - Gold
Willie Nelson - Naked Willie

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

I Got A Riff

You just know that this poll at NME.COM, for the greatest riffs of all time is going to mostly suck. So, instead of the usual suspects I give you one that I heard on Sirius the other day: Spirit's 1969 "I Got A Line On You". R.I.P. Randy California

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Ugly Things

Speaking of bookazine's, Ugly Things' latest is out. Issue #28 for Spring 2009 continues its ace reporting on 60's garage rock/psychedelic and just plain anything else. Published twice a year this is a great read even if you don't have many of the artists they profile in your collection. I didn't but still like to read about mostly forgotten subjects.

Monday, March 23, 2009

No Depression Bookazine

The magazine is gone and the website isn't what it once was, but it's nice that the folks at No Depression have another bookazine out. #77 is the second one since the magazine folded and the usual writers are on board. My only complaint is that I wish the review sections were longer, but all in all if you enjoyed the magazine you'll like the bookazine. My favorite article: Rich Kienzle's on bassist Bob Moore. I hope they can keep it going.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Overlooked Band Members

Scour the internet, I often find lists that I envy. Why didn't I think of that one? Here's one from Spike.com of all places, not really a music site Top 10 Most Overlooked Band Members. As soon as I saw that post, my first reaction was Mike Campbell of Tom Petty's Heartbreakers.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

VH1 Behind The Music

VH1 bringing back Behind The Music? Sounds like a good idea, if the 10 subjects they pick are interesting. And the great thing about the original run was the best episodes were the ones with compelling back stories. And the subjects weren't crit faves: Styx, MC Hammer, Milli Vanilli, etc. As someone pointed in a post, the Styx episode is the greatest of them all. As for future ones, these won't make it but would make for good television: Boston, Thin Lizzy, Al Green.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Randy Travis

It's easy to dismiss American Idol, and lots of music critics always have a fun time blasting it, but this week's appearance by Randy Travis on Country night shows why I don't want the show to go away. Where else is Randy Travis going to get an audience of 20 million? Right, viewers weren't tuning in for him, but he was there, and he got more exposure in one night than he has since his Nashville hit days have ended. And the new compilation he plugged squeaked into the Itunes Top 50. You think it would've got there without AI's help?

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Playlist for 3/19

Phosphorescent - To Willie
Buddy & Julie Miller - Written In Chalk
Neko Case - Middle Cyclone
Morrissey - Years of Refusal
Chris Isaak - Mr. Lucky
Knaan - Troubadour
Living Things - Habeas Corpus
Townes Van Zandt - Very Best of
Townes Van Zandt - Live at the Old Quarter

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

How Much Longer Will They Fly?

At first I was worried, because the new songs on the 2nd season of Flight of The Conchords weren't hitting me. But as the season has gone on things are starting to come into focus. There's a lot of brilliant satire here, and as the season has gone on the songs have gotten better. There seemed to be a hesitation on the boys' part in the early episodes. How do we top our first season? The ratings are low, though, which makes me think this will be the last year. So, if that happens, let's give both the Conchords and even HBO a hand for making it this far.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Motown Mix Tape

I made a friend of mine a Motown mix tape. I make him a lot of these things, but thought for Motown's 50th that I would dare squeeze as much as I could on to a 78 minute CDR. It wasn't as tough as I thought. I narrowed the big names down to 2 songs, except for Marvin Gaye who got 3 because of a duet. Then I cherry-picked the best known Motown songs from Jr. Walker, Isleys, Gladys Knight, Jackson 5, etc, all who got one. As for modern Motown, only the Commodores got a mention, as I figured Rick James' "Super Freak" would be to salacious for him to play at work. In the end it came out to 25 songs on one disc. A pretty good representation of Motown's 50 years.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Not Addicted

Because of the Tom Moon book, I finally listened to Jane's Addiction's first 2 albums, and came away with the same feeling I've had about them since the late 80's: boring. But alt-sites still love them. Look at how Fark On Blender.com describes them- "The most influential 90s rock band, Jane's Addiction", and then read this news item about them Jane's Addiction Ready Rarities Box Set Pitchfork. Did I miss the boat on them in the 80's and don't want to admit it? Or were they just not that good then and I knew it. I'll stick to the latter theory.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Gold and Platinum

Should we lower the standards for Gold and Platinum records? Very few acts go over a million copies nowadays. The biggest sellers seem to stop somewhere between gold and platinum sales. I think about this evey time I see a sales figure come out. The days of the multi-platinum seller might be gone, so why not lower the gold and platinum criteria?

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Why Chic Matters

One of Rhino's Disco Years CD's was a tribute to the sound of Chic, so I was surprised to find a similar list in the Rough Guide Book of Playlists. And this nugget under Carly Simon's "Why"- "perhaps Chic's greatest feat-making Carly Simon listenable". Instead of sending RRHOF voters a couple of Chic's biggest hits, they should send them a tape of their best productions.

Friday, March 13, 2009

A U2 2nd Thought

Actually, I've changed my mind about the U2 sales figures. 484,000 would be a good figure for a lot of bands, and in this lousy music economy one shouldn't hold their heads low. But U2 promoted the crap out of this album. A week on Letterman, cover of Rolling Stone and they've basically been the only band that I've seen in the past 2 weeks. But what about the album? It still doesn't move me, and to be honest I'm more interested in the 2nd album they have in the can. It sounds more interesting. They say it might come out before Christmas. I wouldn't count on it.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Playlist for 3/12

Raul Malo -Lucky One
U2 - No Line On The Horizon
Neko Case -Middle Cyclone
Buddy & Julie Miller -Written In Chalk
Chris Isaak - Mr. Lucky
Pete Seeger -Songs of Hope & Struggle
Estelle - Shine

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

No Depression Strike 2

First, NoDepression.com stops their publication, now on its website its stopping their editorial reviews. In other words, not enough ad revenue going around to pay a staff. Pretty much what's been going around the country in terms of struggling newspapers. Too bad about ND, now to be a community website, but without its stable of good writers.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

U2 Saves Nobody

The day the U2 album came out, there was a story on ABC Radio news on whether the album will give the record biz a kick in the butt. I was perplexed. Even though their last album moved 800,000 units, this album didn't have the buzz. Lead single a dud, and no Apple Itunes ad to fuel interest. But then again a publicity blitz had me thinking that it would do alright. And sure enough 500,000 is not a bad number. But U2 and January's Springsteen aren't going to save nobody. U2 will be a monster on tour, but the biz needs these types of event albums once a month, not every 3 years.

Monday, March 09, 2009

British Soul Women

It took me awhile, but I've finally gotten caught up with the British Soul Women of 2008. Adele, Estelle and Duffy. The latter was in my Top 10 of 2008. While Adele and Estelle were good but not great records. Yet, of all 3 I would bet Adele's vocals will keep her in the game longer than the other two. And then there's Lily Allen's new album, which while not Soul, is better than all 3 of those albums. She's got a sense of humor, she writes about her love life with a frankness that only Pink could match, and her songs come wrapped in just enough hooks to keep me interested.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

American Top 40 Redux

It's become a Sunday morning ritual with me, listening to old American Top 40 shows from the 70's on Sirius XM. Having grown up with the countdown, these will bring back a flood of memories, but more importantly they bring back a ton of one or two shot wonders. People that scaled the low reaches of the Top 40 and then disappeared. Some of these songs later showed up on various CD compilations of the 70's, others had me searching for them on Napster or Limewire. But I had better luck on the original Napster. Stuff like Al Wilson's 1976 "I've Got A Feeling" or Hamilton, Joe Frank & Reynolds' also 1976 "Winners and Losers". Neither has been on CD but both have a permanent place in my musical memories.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Get Ready For A Crazy Summer

You get the feeling that the Michael Jackson "comeback" as the media will now call it is going to turn out to be the summer's craziest highlight. Already, posters are wondering if Jackson will even get through a concert. Most believe he will lip-sync (as I do) a majority of the songs. And will the whole thing even come off? This will get crazy.

Friday, March 06, 2009

End of Circuit City

The last time I went to Circuit City was on President's Day hoping to score some cheap CD's. But at 40% off a $13.99 CD, I only ended up buying one that was priced at $9.99. Still, I was surprised to see that there was so little stock left. I don't know if they got rid of all their stuff, or people were actually buying these things at discount prices. There was hardly anything left when I went, but there was a good stream of people looking at the CD's. Buy the end of this month, when they are gone for good, the only CD's left will be things that would have been bound for the cutout bins. As I said in an earlier post about Circuit City, I hate to see people lose their jobs, but I hadn't been in the store in a very long time, due to poor customer service. And it was the latter that sunk them.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Price, Price, Price

So, say goodbye to Virgin Records as well. The last time I was in one of these stores was when I visited San Francisco, and I didn't buy a thing. Prices were too high. Good selection, sure, but like Borders, too high for my pocketbook. And that's why these stores, like Tower, went down. Price, price, price.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Playlist for 3/4

MGMT - Oracular Specatular
Rick Springfield - Venus In Overdrive
Freddie Hubbard - Artist Selects
Grant Green -Finest in Jazz
Etta James -Tell Mama
Lee Morgan - Sidewinder
Sonny Clark - Cool Struttin
Clara Ward -Somebody Bigger

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Not A 5 Star Review

No, the 2009 albums by U2 and Bruce Springsteen aren't 5 star albums, no matter what the suck-ups at Rolling Stone say. In fact I have a theory, the higher the rating Rolling Stone gives an album, deduct at least 1-2 stars. U2's album is better than Springsteen's and it took me a couple of spins to figure out why. It's mostly a sense of humor that was missing on their last album. But I still don't hear the future classic others see.
But we all know why the magazine would give each artist its highest mark. In fact Springsteen's last album also got a 5 star rating. Jann Wenner loves 'em and wants them to continue gracing his covers. But old time readers like us will likely shrug our shoulders at such high ratings.

Monday, March 02, 2009

10 Underrated Motown Albums

1. Debarge - In A Special Way
2. Commodores s/t (1977)
3. Smokey Robinson - Warm Thoughts
4. Marvin Gaye - In Our Lifetime
5. Stevie Wonder - Jungle Fever
6. Erykah Badu - Baduizm
7. Teena Marie - It Must Be Magic
8. Marvin Gaye & Diana Ross - s/t
9. Jackson 5 - Dancing Machine
10. Diana Ross - Diana (1980)


Sunday, March 01, 2009

Top 8 Songs By Former Motown Acts

I kept this list to 8 former acts and their best songs. With only one song by each act. Thanks to this site for its guidance.

1. Michael Jackson - Billie Jean

2. Marvin Gaye - Sexual Healing

3. Gladys Knight & The Pips - Midnight Train To Georgia

4. Spinners - Could It Be I'm Falling In Love

5. Teena Marie - Lovergirl

6. Isley Brothers - That Lady

7. 4 Tops - Ain't No Woman

8. Jacksons - Shake Your Body
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