Tuesday, December 30, 2008

5 best CDs of 2008 - New material

The finale.....

1) Al Stewart ~ Sparks of Ancient Light - A great collection of classic music from Mr. Stewart and the ONLY CD I have been able to listen to from beginning to end repeatedly since it's release.

2) Mudcrutch ~ Mudcrutch & Mudcrutch Extended Play Live - Tom Petty and the band that led to the formation of The Heartbreakers. And then a live set added to boot. Great stuff.

3) Juliana Hatfield ~ How To Walk Away - I would put this up against any of her work with Blake Babies and previous solo efforts. It is just that good an overall CD.

4) B-52's ~ Funplex - The most fun CD of the year. It is great to hear this band return with such strong material.

5) The Dandy Warhols ~ ...Earth To The Dandy Warhols... - A well put together and performed set that doesn't seem to have gotten any interest from anyone since it's release. And what little interest has been drawn to it has been quite negative. What the h*ll, I like it!

Honorable Mentions - Old 97s ~ Blame It On Gravity, Oasis ~ Dig Out Your Soul, Joe Jackson ~ Rain, Matthew Sweet ~ Sunshine Lies, Rick Springfield ~ Venus In Overdrive & Lindsey Buckingham ~ Gift Of Screws

Have a safe New Year's Eve all!!!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

5 best CDs of 2008 - Reissues

The epic continues....

1) All of the U2 reissues ~ Boy, October, War & Under A Blood Red Sky - To get remasters of these classic CDs would have been enough for me. Bono and the guys did this one step better including a whole extra CD or DVD of demos, live versions and rarities.

2) Johnny Cash ~ At Folsom Prison - Deluxe Edition - The full originally released LP with the tracks eliminated from that show and a whole other CD of the whole of the second show he played there. Great additions to the Cash legacy.

3) Rob Dickinson ~ Fresh Wine For The Horses - Now including a second CD of live material largely culled from Catherine Wheel songs played acoustic. Black Metallic, IMHO, NEVER sounded this good to me before.

4) Steve Earle ~ Copperhead Road - Deluxe Edition - The original set, one of my favorite CDs by him, remixed and remastered with a second CD of 17 live tracks from his 1988 tour. In college everybody had this LP and I do mean everybody. A local radio station had been given what had to be about 1000 of them and everyone I hung around with got a copy of it from there. I am glad to say now that I FINALLY purchased this set.

5) Billy Joel ~ The Stranger - 30th Anniversary Legacy Edition - My 2nd favorite Billy Joel LP, the 1st favorite being Glass Houses, Remastered and remixed with a full show from 1978.

Honorable Mentions - Warren Zevon ~ Warren Zevon, Liz Phair ~ Exile in Guyville, Lynyrd Skynyrd ~ Street Survivors, Dennis Wilson ~ Pacific Ocean Blue - Legacy Edition & The Lemonheads ~ It's A Shame About Ray

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

It's a festivus for the rest of us....

Tomorrow part 2 of the 3 part year end countdown....until then....

Sunday, December 21, 2008

5 best of 2008 CDs - Rarities and/or Live

This is a 3 part post that I have written but wanted to publish on here...

1) Bob Dylan ~ The Bootleg Series, Vol. 8: Tell Tale Signs - Rare and Unreleased 1989-2006 - Deluxe Edition - 27 tracks [36 if you are willing to pay for the SUPER DELUXE edition, I wasn't willing. If you were, hit me up I would love to get that 3rd CD] of demos and alternate versions of some of Mr. Dylan's work from the past 20 years.

2) Squeeze ~ The Complete BBC Sessions - 29 tracks recorded for/by the BBC....some really good stuff on this one.

3) The Clash ~ Live at Shea Stadium - Who should want anything more...a full show recorded at the height of thier popularity. This CD is the full Clash set from 10/13/82 opening for The Who [They also opened the other Who show at this venue].

4) The Doors ~ Live at The Matrix '67 - Pre-popularity driven Doors LIVE....a great set that includes some classics done slightly differently than the recognized versions.

5) Neil Young ~ Sugar Mountain: Live at Canterbury House 1968 - Recorded previous to his first solo album and acoustic....would probably be rated higher by me had I gotten more of a chance to listen to it.

Honorable Mention - The Kinks ~ Picture Book [Only ommitted because I have yet to get it. That will be occurring sometime in January after the holidays....but 6 CDs of demos, hits and such from one of my all-time favorite bands cannot be a bad thing.]

...Coming up, by Wednesday, Part Two.......

Monday, February 11, 2008

The king is dead, long live the new king

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I write today not to praise or deride...just to unload.

When I was first getting into music there was a small but very well stocked record store that was about 2 blocks from my house. To see the shop you would think this was someone's house with a sign over the door. Not a neon sign or even lighted at all a very simple painted sign on which was written "The Stereo House". Simple and to the point. No bells and whistles just "The Stereo House". When I walked in to the shop I was amazed by all that was there. LPs of all kinds. I discovered great bands like Television, Blondie, The Ramones, Suicide, The Clash and many others. New, wrapped in plastic, and displayed for anyone to be captured by the images on the covers and purchase the LP to take home and discover what magical tomes the artists have decided to set to music this time. Then the need for more room destroyed the utopian situation created by the shop's owners. They moved to an anaseptic plaza and started stocking less of the "cool" bands of the time and concentrated on "Top 40" for sales sake. It was understandable, the need to make money, but it was more sad and had lost the magic that I found in that little shop down the street. But I was a kid and kids always lose that magic at some point in life as they grow up. I never thought I would ever find such a place ever again. Another of youth's feelings, things are always better when you are younger. Food tastes better, fun is more fun, and entertainment, especially music, is always better from your youth.

Flash ahead [or would it be flashback...both are here now...you can choose] to 7 years ago. My wife, family and I move out to, what I thought at the time was a vast wasteland of cornfields, Iowa. My wife and I decided that since she was a medical worker and made more money than I was capable of earning as a radio announcer in smalltown Iowa that I would be the stay at home parent and, to make a bit of extra money, I could also sell CDs and other entertainment items on eBay. There were a bunch of pawn shops in and around the area that made for a nice crossection of sale items. The thing that was always a problem was that you had to choose from what people wanted to pawn. So I had little choice but to buy what was there. We then discovered, much to my surprise, a shop in the northeast portion of Cornfield Iowa. It was called "CDGBs". It even had a cool name like that of the club "CBGBs". Walking in to this, what can only be described as a converted 4 or 5 car garage, I was instantly transported to that long ago day when I was younger. Rows and rows of CDs. All sorts of artists and all styles of music. Broken down into music catagory and neatly alphabetized within each catagory for easy searching. If you could name it and couldn't find it the owner and his employees could easily find it or at the very least order it for you so you could get it. I spent hours in that store over the past few years. Each time better than the previous. Most of the time I became the proverbial "kid in the candy shop" looking at everything and completely forgetting, until the 2+ hour ride home, what I was really looking to find. For me it was heaven, until the 6th of February 2008. A day for me that once again took away my childhood.

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The store had moved in May of 2007 because the lease to the converted garage had expired and the landlord wanted more rent. The owner, who also owned "The Surf Ballroom" [famous for being the site of Buddy Holly, the Big Bopper and Richie Valens' last performance[s] before "the music died"; see the picture below of the Surf on the night of that last performance], thought that moving the store to some unused space in the Surf would save money and be a good locale for people to find and maybe pop in to check out some cool music too. Unfortunately for him the Surf was a bit off the beaten path and things didn't work out the way he thought it would. Sales actually dropped after the move and he decided that keeping an actual storefront opened would cost him money so he closed the doors at 2007's end and made his business an internet one.

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Now, while I still enjoy getting music online, some of the fun of shopping for music is gone with an internet purchase. You really don't see the product. You can't physically pick it up and hold it in your hands looking at every track and getting the feel for the CD. It's just a purchase and, on top of the physical feelings of holding and taking home your purchase to open and play that day, you have to wait for internet buys. Eventually it will be brought to you, days and somtimes weeks later, by whatever shipping service the company shipping it decides to use. For me that wait is too long and, unless it's a CD I have been waiting forever for, I lose that excitement that I get from finding something good and being able to enjoy it right away.

I think that is a huge loss in society. Human interaction, LIVE not via email or chatrooms or IMs, is a good thing. So now I wait....until the next time I am able to walk in to another store and get that childhood excitement again. I truly hope it does happen once again.

Steely Dan ~ Kings

Steely Dan ~ Change Of The Guard