Friday, December 29, 2006

thanks Brett!

I think I can post pictures now.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

this is for Carrie

I've highlighted my favorite parts.

Exhibit A: "You Comb Her Hair" by George Jones, a.k.a "the Canadian Hank Williams":
I know that you wonder who I dream about
And if I met someone who thrills me so
Well, I've finally met a girl who turns me inside out
I'll tell you about her for you ought to know.

You comb her hair every mornin'
And make sure she's dressed just right
You comb her hair every mornin'
And put her to bed everynight.

Exhibit B: "See the Way She's Mine" by The Boys Next Door, a.k.a.
"the Beach Boys of the Midwest":

See the way she wears her hair
She knows I like it that way
And the clothes you see her wear
I picked them out one day
When I'm down I know she'll cure me
Little things to reassure me

Everyday she holds me tighter
See the way she's mine
Try to make each day seem brighter
See the way she's mine

Little things she says to me
To let me know she's mine
And the things she does to me
Make me feel so fine
No matter who's around she'll kiss me
If I turn around she'll miss me...

you see what I'm saying? so creepy. so good.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

me again

apparently I haven't been uploading photos correctly. or it's just the website acting funny. maybe someone can help me? i'm internet-impaired.

My friend Toby called me last night and told me about this book. whoa. which reminded me that I need to spread the word about this radio show. It's seriously the best, and worth staying up from 2 to 5am to listen to! although I guess you could "stream" it as well...


smooth sailing

Last weekend was pretty progged out. Friday I saw the alliterative trio of Hugh Hopper, Fred Frith, and Chris Cutler perform at the Stone, followed by a small, all-night record listening party at my apartment, where at some point this happened:

A new friend brought over a stack of records, and we listened to a lot of great stuff, including but not limited to FUSIOON, SHAMPOO, PICCHIO DAL POZZO, COS, PUSSY, THE WEINBERG METHOD, CHRYSALIS, some incredible Scottish prog, and who could forget RASTAKRAUT PASTA?? I tried to open some minds to the psychedelic efforts of the Four Seasons and the Osmond brothers (a new personal favorite)- but I don't think it went over too well.

Speaking of music that most people pass over-- hopefully I just legitimized my prog "cred" by mentioning a slew of foreign band names, because now it's time for me to come clean about what's really been spinning on my record player all week: easy listening. I guess the seed was planted about a year ago when I started listening to David Axelrod, although I've been partial to smooth sounds (and sweet falsettos) for longer than I can remember. I've also been pretty open about my appreciation of what I call "prog-lite," my unconditional love of the Electric Light Orchestra, my fidelity to just about the entire Bee Gee's canon, and my curious attraction to Todd Rundgren and his big-nosed ballads. Anyone who walked into Big Jar Books during the five(?) years that I worked there and was subjected to "A Dream Goes on Forever" or "Mr. Natural" can attest to that. Recently, however, I've really been dumbing down my groove, perhaps in an effort to balance out the Queen II and give my mind a rest from all of the bullshit I've had to conjure up to make it through my first semester of grad school. I've started to keep a careful eye out for good Moog records, and I'm now totally sucked in to this Enoch Light album:

groovy stuff. There's also the Osmonds thing that I mentioned already, although I'm not ready to really discuss that yet- partly because I'm still in the visceral stage, where I'm thoroughly enjoying certain songs, even though the intelligent-thinking part of me is fully aware that they kind of suck. Right now I'm working on dismantling my critical side, and soon enough I'll be able to convince other people without any guilt!

Here's a list of thirteen albums that I've listened to repeatedly over the past two or three months, because for some reason that's the kind of thing people do on BLOGs. Maybe I'll make one every month?

in no particular order:
1. Sparks- Kimono My House
2. Hawkwind- self-titled (and Spaceritual, too)
3. Sly & the Family Stone- A Whole New Thing
4. Faust- Faust Tapes
5. Tears for Fears- Songs From the Big Chair (I don't care. this album is unreal.)
6. Jones- Chains and Black Exhaust (black psych comp.)
7. Queen- Queen II
8. Pink Floyd- Saucerful of Secrets
9. Hall & Oates- the one with the silver cover, where they look like women
10. Roy Harper- Stormcock
11. George Russell- Electric Sonata for Souls Loved By Nature
12. Donald Byrd- Black Byrd
13. Fripp & Eno- No Pussyfooting

happy holidays!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

"I reign with my left hand, I rule with my right"

A few weeks ago I was having a phone conversation with my friend Michael Anton Parker- discussing some important shit- when Mike suddenly made one of his characteristically bold statements, causing my brain to shake in my head a little bit. I tried to formulate a response to this grenade that he just tossed at me over the phone, but at the time I was too baffled and unprepared to do so. This event in telephone history prompted me to enter the blogosphere and release my inner prog lady. The brain-shaking statement Mike made was that the first, self-titled Queen album is better than Queen II.

I'll admit that when I talked to Mike I hadn't even heard the first album, although my appreciation for the "black side" of Queen II runs deep enough to incite a profound skepticism of the comparative value of any of the band's other efforts. Since then Mike has thoughtfully emailed me the first album, and I've listened to it several times. Unfortunately I've also over-listened to Queen II so much that its sweet progmetal has merged with my bloodstream, my awe has extended to the formerly disposable "white side" (which is mostly written by guitarist Brian May), and any scrap of objectivity I may have once held is now completely obliterated. The only song on the album that I find even mildly questionable now is "The Loser in the End"; the only track written by the drummer Roger Taylor, with Brian May singing like an angry Rod Stewart. That being said, I'm still going to try to draw a comparison.

The first album really is good. "Great King Rat" is a lot of fun, "Liar" has handclaps (always a plus), "My Fairy King" and "The Night Comes Down" are both excellent. The parts that I think are incredible, however, are fragmentary--the unbelievable instrumental section near the end of "My Fairy King," for example, or those killing first few seconds of "Son and Daughter" before the song dissolves into a headbanger--whereas Queen II maintains a seamless continuity throughout the entire black side (as every good concept album should). The self-titled is a sort of prog / hard rock hybrid, which holds its own appeal, while QII has a metal edge that's more proud spandex and calculated guitar gymnastics than Hot Topic wallet chains and beer-soaked tailgate parties. The first album was an unwarranted failure, and so QII on the whole is more insistent; it demands your attention with higher shrills, greater bombast, sweeping arrangements and thank god--more overdubs. I may be a little biased on that last observation, though- I'd probably buy an album with an overdubbed harmonica on it.

Certain details of the black side elevate QII over the self-titled for me--Roger Taylor's falsetto is better utilized, providing a foreshadowing of his total emasculation in "Bohemian Rhapsody," and the vocals are so intricate and multi-layered they seem to twist shapes in the air. There's also a split-second of "The Fairy-Feller's Master-Stroke" that serves as a real selling point for me: smack in the middle of the song, Freddie Mercury dangles an absurdly dainty harpsichord riff, sandwiched between orchestral guitar and pounding dude-bass-it's like he just dips Louis XIV in a pool of shred and then pulls him right back out. And then of course there's "The March of the Black Queen." That song is pure genius, the highlight of the album. It's unfortunate that the band would eventually devolve into a flaccid collage of Wayne's World, Live Aid, and hockey games, although it could have been worse. And there are some noteworthy moments on most of their later albums- Jazz has some special parts, too, but that's a whole other BLOG-- getting back to my original argument: like I said before, the first album rocks ... but does it rip?

"Ogre Battle" Hammersmith 1975

Friday, December 8, 2006

Total Recall

I've got a lot of work to do. Deadlines looming, various plans and projects swimming around in my head. But fuck it--tonight I let all of those intangible thought fetuses fall to the wayside and opted instead to cook up a tasty curry and watch TOTAL RECALL, which was so, so, amazing.

Paul Verhoeven rarely disappoints. It makes me kind of sad to think that movies like that are basically extinct now, and we'll probably never again see a blockbuster with special effects involving jello. (I do want to check out that new James Bond movie, though). Seriously--people tend to dismissively classify '80s/early to mid '90s movies as unerring trash--and they're right. But some of that trash was sublime. It's a slippery slope, because I'm not simply referring to pure camp here- or trite nostalgia, or empty kitsch. It's just that Verhoeven somehow projected his [genuine] sleazy foreigner idealism through the most decadent excess in ways that continue to surprise me. Plus I've said it before, and I'll say it again: movies like BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA, TOTAL RECALL, and I don't know, THE GARBAGE PAIL KIDS MOVIE?, HOWARD THE DUCK?- I'm running out of examples here, but some of those movies are the closest you're going to get to true experimental cinema. I mean what the hell is really going on in BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA? And don't tell me if you know, because I'd rather hold on to my own neon green-infused impression of it.

I guess I'm going a little off track here. I set up this BLOG as a venue for my useless musings about prog rock and responses to Michael Anton Parker, but I haven't got around to that yet, and at the moment I'm not being very proggy--right now I'm listening to George Harrison's guitar gently weep. It's crying out, telling me to go to bed. Maybe tomorrow I'll accomplish some official business. .