Sunday, March 04, 2007

Weekend Rambling (Mostly Music-Related)

Hmm, it's been a week since I've posted here, and the world didn't end. Maybe there's a message for me in there, somewhere.

Anyway, I've been in a Wee Bit O'Blogging Slump, but I'll be back in the saddle soon enough. Part of it has been simple matter of lack of time.

During the past week we've had some 20-25 inches of snow fall, and the hassles of snow removal, as well as the significant increase in travel times to and from work has left me with much less time for blogging. What's more, all the shoveling and snow-blowing has left my hip and wrist in a bad way, and I've spent a good deal of time lying on the futon in a whimper. On sunny days like today the snow is lovely, but it's not at all easy to cope with.

(Regarding the hip/wrist problem: I went to see my doctor this past week about it and he wants me to see a specialist. I suppose I shall have to. I really don't wish to spend the rest of my days 'till I cross the River Styx in such a state.)


The other thing that's kept me ocupado this past week has been 'American idol.' I have yet to write anything about it here, but as always the show is as addictive as crack. During each of the past two weeks Fox ran 5 hours of Idol, which I dutifully taped and watched with Mrs. Muzzy when we could squeeze in the time. At least watching it on tape we were able to skip the commercials.

I gotta say, there's some great talent on the show this year, but there are also some serious duds, and I'm growing tired of hearing the same tired versions of Celine Dion, Whitney Houston, and Aretha Franklin songs trotted out for re-interpretation. That said, I was very pleased Melinda Doolittle chose to sing 'My Funny Valentine' this past week. Not only did she do a version that was quite different from Barbra's original, she did it with flair and penache that helped her stand out from the crowd. She doesn't look at all the part of an 'American Idol,' but then again, neighther did Ruben, or Taylor, or Clay.

As much as I love watching Idol, I'm not completely pleased. I think the thing that annoys me the most about the show is the quality of the music that is played. I know, I know, the backing band is most excellent, and the performers are often quite good, but there's so very little originality. At least on the 'Rockstar' series the performers are allowed to play instruments and to pick edgy songs, sometimes even of their own composition. 'American Idol' is content to allow its contestants to pander to the lowest common denominator. I recognize that the show would not be anywhere near as successful if the show allowed for songs that the hoi polloi would not take to, but I think they'd be better if they weren't so middle-of-the-road. Just look how much hotter Kelly Clarkson sounded singing 'Since You've Been Gone' than she did with the horribly bland 'A Moment Like This.'

Yeah, I know, I complain, yet still I watch.


I'm bummed: CompUSA is closing down their stores in Minnesota. Look, I know, their staff wasn't always stellar, but their prices were decent and they had a generous return/exchange policy. I have always been a bit promiscuous in my shopping habits, and will buy at any store that offers me a good value for my money. Thing is, CompUSA was often that very store, and I spent alot of money there over the years. Even if their staff didn't always know what they were talking about, the store stocked Macs before the Apple store was even a twinkle in Steve Jobs' eye, and I was very grateful that someone would stand by the Apple brands.

I'm going to miss them.

Anyway, I went over to the store and picked up a few items on reduced prices. One item in particular: an M-Audio iControl USB device for Garageband that I've had my eye on for months.

From M-Audio's website:

"iControl delivers total tactile control over GarageBand. Dedicated transport buttons and jog wheel put record and playback functions at your fingertips. Its eight rotary knobs are easily assigned to track functions like volume and pan, or to parameters for effects such as GarageBand’s EQ or any other Audio Unit plug-in. iControl also provides dedicated mute, solo and record-enable buttons for each track, plus a master volume fader. iControl is USB bus-powered, class-compliant, and automatically recognized by GarageBand, making setup a breeze. iControl puts you in complete creative flow with your GarageBand experience. "

The iControl has a suggested retail price of $179, but usually retails for around $129, and I got mine for around $65, which seemed like a good deal to me. Now I'm going to have to do some work with GB. Maybe when I get my new Macbook with Garageband 3 - with its built-in podcasting capabilities - I'll actually venture into the world of Internet Blather.


Okay, as long as I'm on the subject of tunes, here a couple of Music Memes I found on the net:

First Meme:

"Go to musicoutfitters, enter year of high school graduation for song list, bold songs you like, underline favorite, strike out the ones you hate, & leave untouched the ones you don't remember or don't care about."

I'll play. Here goes:

Top 100 Hits of 1975 / Top 100 Songs of 1975

01. Love Will Keep Us Together, The Captain and Tennille
02. Rhinestone Cowboy, Glen Campbell
03. Philadelphia Freedom, Elton John
04. Before The Next Teardrop Falls, Freddy Fender
05. My Eyes Adored You, Frankie Valli
06. Shining Star, Earth, Wind and Fire
07. Fame, David Bowie
08. Laughter In The Rain, Neil Sedaka
09. One Of These Nights, Eagles
10. Thank God I'm A Country Boy, John Denver
11. Jive Talkin', Bee Gees
12. Best Of My Love, Eagles
13. Lovin' You, Minnie Riperton
14. Kung Fu Fighting, Carl Douglas
15. Black Water, Doobie Brothers
16. Ballroom Blitz, Sweet
17. (Hey Won't You Play) Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song, B.J. Thomas
18. He Don't Love You (Like I Love You), Tony Orlando and Dawn
19. At Seventeen, Janis Ian
20. Pick Up The Pieces, Average White Band
21. The Hustle, Van McCoy and The Soul City Symphony
22. Lady Marmalade, Labelle
23. Why Can't We Be Friends?, War
24. Love Wont Let Me Wait, Major Harris
25. Boogie On Reggae Woman, Stevie Wonder
26. Wasted Days And Wasted Nights, Freddy Fender
27. Fight The Power, Pt. 1, Isley Brothers
28. Angie Baby, Helen Reddy
29. Jackie Blue, Ozark Mountain Daredevils
30. Fire, Ohio Players
31. Magic, Pilot
32. Please Mr. Postman, Carpenters
33. Sister Golden Hair, America
34. Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds, Elton John
35. Mandy, Barry Manilow
36. Have You Never Been Mellow, Olivia Newton-John
37. Could It Be Magic, Barry Manilow
38. Cat's In The Cradle, Harry Chapin
39. Wildfire, Michael Murphy
40. I'm Not Lisa, Jessi Colter
41. Listen To What The Man Said, Paul Mccartney and Wings
42. I'm Not In Love, 10cc
43. I Can Help, Billy Swan
44. Fallin' In Love, Hamilton, Joe Frank and Reynolds
45. Feelings, Morris Albert
46. Chevy Van, Sammy Johns
47. When Will I Be Loved, Linda Ronstadt
48. You're The First, The Last, My Everthing, Barry White
49. Please Mr Please, Olivia Newton-John
50. You're No Good, Linda Ronstadt
51. Dynomite, Bazuka
52. Walking In Rhythm, Blackbyrds
53. The Way We Were / Try To Remember, Gladys Knight and The Pips
54. Midnight Blue, Melissa Manchester
55. Don't Call Us, We'll Call You, Sugarloaf
56. Poetry Man, Phoebe Snow
57. How Long, Ace
58. Express, B.T. Express
59. That's The Way Of The World, Earth, Wind and Fire
60. Lady, Styx
61. Bad Time, Grand Funk
62. Only Women Bleed, Alice Cooper
63. Doctor's Orders, Carol Douglas
64. Get Down Tonight, K.C. and The Sunshine Band
65. You Are So Beautiful / It's A Sin When You Love Somebody, Joe Cocker
66. One Man Woman-One Woman Man, Paul Anka and Odia Coates
67. Feel Like Makin' Love, Bad Company
68. How Sweet It Is, James Taylor
69. Dance With Me, Orleans
70. Cut The Cake, Average White Band
71. Never Can Say Goodbye, Gloria Gaynor
72. I Don't Like To Sleep Alone, Paul Anka
73. Morning Side Of The Mountain, Donny and Marie Osmond
74. Some Kind Of Wonderful, Grand Funk
75. When Will I See You Again, Three Degrees
76. Get Down, Get Down (Get On The Floor), Joe Simon
77. I'm Sorry / Calypso, John Denver
78. Killer Queen, Queen
79. Shoeshine Boy, Eddie Kendricks
80. Do It (Til You're Satisfied), B.T. Express
81. Can't Get It Out Of My Head, Electric Light Orchestra
82. Sha-La-La (Makes Me Happy), Al Green
83. Lonely People, America
84. You Got The Love, Rufus
85. The Rockford Files, Mike Pos
86. It Only Takes A Minute, Tavares
87. No No Song / Snookeroo, Ringo Starr
88. Junior's Farm / Sally G, Paul McCartney and Wings
89. Bungle In The Jungle, Jethro Tull
90. Long Tall Glasses (I Can Dance), Leo Sayer
91. Someone Saved My Life Tonight, Elton John
92. Misty, Ray Stevens
93. Bad Blood, Neil Sedaka
94. Only Yesterday, Carpenters
95. I'm On Fire, Dwight Twilley Band
96. Only You, Ringo Starr
97. Third Rate Romance, Amazing Rhythm Aces
98. You Aint Seen Nothin' Yet / Free Wheelin', Bachman-Turner Overdrive
99. Swearin' To God, Frankie Valli
100. Get Dancin', Disco Tex and The Sex-O-lettes

Man, there was alot crapola that year. Then again, I think I was more into Elvis Costello, Pink Floyd and The Ramones at the time.

Second Meme:

First Record Bought:

I don't remember the title, but it was some Ray Conniff record, 'Everybody's Talking,' mabye?

First Concert:

I attended a String Quartet concert in 9th grade, but the first rock concert was by a Brazilian covers band doing Zeppelin, Floyd and Emerson, Lake and Palmer.

Favourite Music Movie:

Talking Heads 'Stop Making Sense'

Favourite Music Book:

'Mozart: A Life,' by Maynard Solomon.

Favourite Songwriter:

This is hard, but if I have to pick one, I'd say Nick Drake

Favourite Producer:

The Beatles' producer: George Martin

Favourite Record Label:

Even if most of their artists are unheard of by the masses, Magnatune gets my nod for their innovative practices. I wish more companies did business like they do.

Favourite Magazine:

I am sick as unto death of their lefty biases, but Uncut is an amazing read. With great articles and reviews, and a CD each issue with new music, it's my dream Music Mag.

Favourite Bassist:

Paul McCartney.

Favourite Album Cover:

Hmm. As a teen I always looked forward to the latest Carly Simon album, for reasons that would be obvious, if you were familiar with her work.

Favourite Teen Idol:

I was never into Teen Idols as a teen. I guess most recently I'd have said Britney Spears.

Artist Who Broke Your Heart:

Whuh? You're kidding, right? Okay, I guess when Elliott Smith and Kurt Cobain committed suicide it really hit me hard.

Artist You Will Always Believe In:

Null set. I don't 'believe' in artists. I am inspired by their art, but most artists I've met are seriously lacking in 'believability.' Sorry.

Singer Who Makes Your Skin Crawl:

Barbra Streisand. Always has, always will.

Singer Who Makes You Swoon:

I'm only the slightest bit facetious, but Daniel T. of the legendary band The Swoon gave me chills every time he sang 'Whose Hands Are These?'

Otherwise, current slightly better-known singers that send me: Jose Gonzalez, and Karen Peris.

Favourite Sound:

When my daughters giggle. And when they sing.

Album You Will Always Defend:

I don't feel the need to defend artists, but I think that Britney Spears has been maligned unfairly for most of her career. She's not a great singer, but she's a great entertainer, and 'Oops, I Did It Again' was a pretty good album. It sold bajillions of copies, and yet no one will cop to liking it. I did.

Album You Own That No One Else Does:

Obviously it can't be something that literally 'No One Else Owns,' but I have a copy or two of The Swoon's cassette-only final project 'Spectacular Illusion,' as well as a copy of the band's guitarist Austin D's brilliant home-made cassette doodles (mastered in my living-room). Only a few dozen copies were ever made of either of those projects, and I maintain they are brilliant.

Classic Album You Own but Don't Like:

I don't quite know what constitutes 'classic' but I've never really been much a fan of anything by the Beach Boys. I picked up Brian Wilson's 'Smile' recently on the heels of the great press it got when the official version finally saw the light of day and was completely underwhelmed.

Artist You're Supposed to Like but Don't:

Bruce Springsteen. His Working-Man schtick has served him well for over 30 years, bringing him both fame and fortune, yet ever since both Time and Newsweek proclaimed him the Next Big Thing in the mid-70's I've been baffled at the appeal of the man. He huffs, he puffs, he yells, but that does not a great singer make, and other than the first half of 'Nebraska,' I have never been able to bring myself to listen more than once to anything he's released.

Song You Can't Stand by an Artist You Like:

Bob Dylan's 'Like A Rolling Stone.' I know it's a classic, and all, but it has never done anything for me. Dylan's written some of the best songs of the modern era, but that one: meh.

Band That Should Break Up:

Their Satanic Majesties: The Rolling Stones. Sure, they're legends, and all, but come on, retire with some dignity, fellows. Okay, The Stones can stay if Van Halen goes. David Lee Roth needs to go back to being a paramedic. Wait, lemme change my answer: The Dixie Chicks are back in vogue this year, but they aren't really any better than they've ever been. As best I can tell, they won their Album Of The Year Grammy for nothing more than still being snotty and PO'd at Dubyuh. I could accept all their self-righteous left-wing posing if they wrote decent and compelling music. They don't. Give *them* the hook.

Band That Should Re-form:

The House Of Love: maybe not as great as Oasis, but better then Stone Roses, one of England's finest bands of the 80's and 90's. Go watch 'Shine On' and 'I Don't Know Why I Love You' on YouTube, and see what I mean. Well, okay, they *did* reform in 2005, and even released the amazing 'Days Run Away' to critical acclaim, and lukewarm sales. The album never even saw release in the States, and the band has faded - again - back into obscurity.

Guilty Pleasure:

Pussycat Doll's. And Eminem. Yeah, I know. I hang my head.

Favourite Music DVD:

Hmm, not much into music DVD's. I guess I have watched some of my U2 concert DVD's a few times, but usually I only watch a concert DVD once, and I don't watch it again for years.

Concert You Wish You'd Seen:

Any one of the various incarnation of Pink Floyd's 'The Wall.' I saw the movie a bunch of times and found it a mess. I wish I'd seen the show.

Dream Collaboration:

I think Elvis Costello and Paul McCartney did an incredible job with 'Veronica,' so I'll say those two.

Okay, that's enough for this post.

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