Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Presented Without Comment

but here is
The Essential Ghoul's Record Shelf
A song-by-song tour through pop music's unexpected fascination with the ghastly and supernatural.

It's uh, kinda cool, actually....

Two Cool Things Today

...and we need them, since it's 8:30 and already over 70.

The new Fountains of Wayne comes out today: Out of State Plates. It's B-sides, throwaways. But there's some great stuff, including a cover of ELO's "Can't Get It Out of My Head" and Britney's "Hit Me Baby One More Time." "I Want an Alien for Christmas" is one of my favorite Christmas songs. There's also live stuff and a sort of surprising amount of country-flavored stuff. (But the pop-country thing is something I've never really gotten, I confess. I blame Ringo.) You can hear some of every song here, and pick it up here. They're releasing "Maureen" as a single.

Also, The (re-formed) Posies have a new one coming out today. According to Billboard:
But something happened along the way to breaking up. The pair got together, sans any other auxiliary band members, to select material for a box set. "In doing this," Auer explains, "it was necessary for us to go through piles and piles of old tapes -- we didn't just want to leave it to someone else. So we basically reviewed our entire history together, from the earliest demos to the last thing we ever did, and it was pretty amazing. We had a really good time doing it; we laughed a lot. Ken and I share a kind of a sense of humor, which has gotten us together over the years."

This rekindled friendship led to an agreement to play and record an acoustic show (released on Houston Party records as "Alive Before the Iceberg"), which in turn led to a three-month acoustic "world tour" in the summer and fall of 2000.

You can find selections from that one here and pick it up here. (Thanks, Steve L., for the heads-up!)


In the wake of yesterday's SCOTUS decision re: file sharing programs, I expect we'll see tightening of all kinds of laws regarding the distribution networks involved in p2p and the way they're marketed.

To be clear: I don't uses p2p and never have, though I sometimes ask people to find hard-to-locate stuff for me. In that case, I'm using BlakNo1's perfectly legitimate (in my opinion) defense: if what I like is kind of obscure and the corporations which control legal access to media have deemed it not profitable enough to reproduce, well, I'm going to find it somewhere. I'd like to see p2p companies do a real analysis of what their programs are used for: I'll bet it's not so much for the girl of the month and more for stuff the mall doesn't stock. But then I'm an idealist, I guess.

I mostly get songs sent to me, by like-minded friends and often by artists I've befriended. The latter category is presumably legitimate, but the former has to be "theft" in the strictest interpretation of the law. But then I burn CDs for friends too, which I guess is also verboten.

I suspect P2P wouldn't be much of a big deal if CD burners hadn't become affordable, but once those files could be burned and reproduced in other media or plopped onto mp3 players, the industry had an issue.

Do you use p2p? What for?

Monday, June 27, 2005

Insomnia's a Bitch

....and I blame NTodd, who must, of course, be stopped.

Take the MIT Weblog Survey

What I learned: I use IM and email far more than the phone, and I know few foremen, but plenty of cleaners, construction workers, and unskilled laborers. Ann odd survey, really.

And I have no idea what the space is about. I'l drop a line to blogger.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Rosie, the Vampire Slayer

Rosie received a rather enthusiastic kiss at day care. You should see the other kid... I hear he has a shiner.

All my kids have been bitten at day care at least once. They must be tasty, or vampires must be running amok. I'm glad Rosie didn't take any crap. Posted by Hello

A Report from the Field: Geek Alert!

So our weekend of Porny goodness kicked off last night with the TNP at Maxwell's. When I was waxing poetic about the place, I forgot to mention something that one of our companions last night, V. (though not Codename V., a different V. altogether in fact) brought up. At Maxwell's, bands frequently linger in the restaurant and bar before going on. Thus my long and vaguely uncomfortable exchanged glance with Mac McCaughey, who looked at me in a perfectly friendly fashion, as though he expected me to come over and say hi. But your humble narrator has an odd, unexpected, and wholly unforeseeable shy streak now and again, and so I panicked. (I tried to encourage DeepToej, who was walking around with a bag full of demos, to go talk to him, too, but DeepToej wears his shyness closer to the surface than I, and refused.) In any case, I didn't and he didn't, and so Mac went on that night to bad sound and a nasty crowd and Big Fun never knowing how he was loved. Maybe that explains the paucity of encores than night.

ANYWAY, The New Pornographers. We did have a Porn sighting in the bar prior to the show: Carl Newman (who, as far as I know, only uses A.C. for his solo work) was in the bar, sitting, I kid you not, just inside the front door. Blaine Thurier was hanging out too, as was Kurt Dahle (the only three original Pornographers in the house). DeepToej observed in this space that Newman resembles a Regis boy: he does indeed. In a pre-show conversation about the relative hotness of Dan Bejar, DeepToej uttered the utterly dismissive "He looks like he went to high school with girls." Ouch!

I was impressed enough that Thurier was watching the opening act, Green Milk, a psychedelic pop outfit from Japan who were humorous (I hope intentionally) and catchy and droning (I assume intentionally) by turns. But I was amazed when Newman crawled behind the sales table and started laying out t-shirts. I went over to get one and spoke with him for a minute: he was in a phlegmatic panic when I asked for an XL, and managed to talk me into a large before confessing that he didn't actually know where the XLs were. "They're really big, though. See?" Heh. It'll never go around Thers's shoulders, so I guess it's mine. An odd encounter. I told him I was looking forward to the show, and he said "thanks" kind of nervously.

This was explained when they went on: "This is our first show in over a year," Newman said. "Well no, our second. We played here last night, but we sucked." He also begged the crowd to buy him a drink ("I don't mean to mooch. If I could leave stage for five minutes, I'd do it," he explained. The band debated the merits of launching into the instrumental "Wipeout" before it was revealed that there was 12 pack hidden onstage. Danger averted. Thers pointed out the difference between this and Guided by Voices, who routinely passed around a bottle of Jack Daniels onstage.) He also apologized for spitting on the crowd unintentionally, and when someone (a guy) yelled out "It's sexy!" he was amused. "So that's okay then."

WARNING: Geeks only need read this paragraph. Set List: It's Only Divine Right/Graceland/The End of Medicine/Use It (off the new CD, Twin Cinema)/Out from Blown Speakers/The Bleeding Heart Show (also TC)/Jackie/Mass Romantic/Sing Me Spanish Techno (TC)/The Electric Version/Testament to Youth in Verse/Star Bodies (TC)/The Laws Have Changed/Bones of an Idol (TC)/The Body Says No/Twin Cinema (TC)/Fake Headlines/All for Swinging You Around/Slow Descent into Alcoholism. Encore: Miss Teen Wordpower/Execution Day/ a scrap of Springsteen's I'm on Fire/Letter from an Occupant.

I'm pretty sure that's complete, though I might have missed one.

Worth noting: No Neko. One might have assumed this meant that they'd skip "Mass Romantic" and "The Laws Have Changed" and "All for Swinging You Around" and "Letter from an Occupant." (Plus the yet-to-be-released "Bones of an Idol") No. Newman's niece Kathryn Calder was onstage, and she had the notes, if not the presence, of Neko. She looked kind of scared, truth to be told, but shit. Who wouldn't be? I thought she did a respectable job, but my companion V., who's seen them before, says what was really lacking was the interplay among the heavy hitters, the banter. Without Neko and Dan Bejar, it still sounds good, but it really is the Carl Newman Show.

I'm told I need to see the real lineup to understand what I was missing last night, and I'll cheerfully go along to any TNP event, pretty much ever. All in all, a good night.

By the way, Happy Birthday Codename V.!

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Raspberries Video

Bedazzled does it again!

The Raspberries performing "Tonight," live on Don Kirshner's Rock Concert. WooHoo!

(Thanks to Kid Charlemagne for the heads up!)

Why I Love the Internets

Because in the wake of the more-or-less immediate selling out of the Maxwell's show I'm seeing tonight, TNP added a show for last night, and the reports are already in. From Brooklyn Vegan:

The New Pornographers played Maxwell's in Hoboken, NJ last night (Wednesday, June 22nd, 2005). I wasn't there. Neither was Neko.

Gopster was there, and they reported:
bad news: kathryn is not neko.
good news: damn good album preview. they played a craplod of songs from their past two albums. ac newman still sounds like ac newman. kurt was awesome. still a great show.

Pics and a full tour schedule at Brooklyn Vegan.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

With Apologies to Eli....

but I kinda like alternate versions. In literature we have something called a variorum edition, where all the drafts, all the alternates, all the extant versions of, say, a poem are collected together for the purposes of comparison and analysis of the artistic project. The point, of course is to discover the deep structure of the poem, to look at how shifting circumstances in the author's life lead to workings and reworkings of material. Two famous instances I can think of off the top of my head are William Wordsworth's The Prelude, a long autobiographical poem chronicling, among other things, Wordsworth's response to the French Revolution; and Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass (and if anyone can give me a redaction of that, I'd be grateful. I like Whitman, but I don't "get" him, not really). In both cases, the authors went back to presumably finished works and rewrote and restructured them to reflect changing circumstances.

And then there's pop.

The Squeeze song from below (and I should hasten to add that I don't dislike Squeeze, and that I always liked what I heard, just not enough to push deeper into their catalog) is something else. What I see from the Fluxblog posting is that the producer had a lot to do with the difference in the versions we hear. Dave Edmunds versus Elvis Costello/Roger Bechirian. From what I understand, this is often the case: Shoes, for example, recorded full demos of every album before they ever went into the studio, offering them to their producers (who, apocryphally, sometimes completely ignored them) as an indication of what they were trying to accomplish. But that means there are two sets of everything, their version and the producer's version. Some of these demos were released on the retrospective As Is, but most languish unheard. Of the ones that are available, differences, sometimes minor, sometimes significant, are apparent to even the most casual listener. I, for one, would be interested in hearing the alternate versions of all these songs. The Let It Be... Naked disc released last year, de-Spectoring the record, does the same thing for a more mainstream audience.

Another example: one of my favorite new bands is, as longtime readers know too well, Philly's Milton and the Devils Party. Recently, they rerecorded one of my favorite songs from their debut CD What Is All This Sweet Work Worth?, the pop gem "Perfect Breasts." The CD version caught me immediately, that oft-mentioned hook-behind-the-navel which tells you that a song works, and I was surprised as I befriended composer Daniel Robinson that he was not particularly happy with it. Having heard it live, I agreed that it had a lot more punch as a live song, but that's frequently true anyway: the aura of live music is like little else, and rarely captured on disc even (and perhaps especially) on live recordings. In any case, since I've known him, Robinson's spoken of redoing "Perfect Breasts" harder, and they've done it. You can find the mp3 here. Also, do yourself a favor and pick up the whole record, which can be found here or here, or even at itunes.

So open your mind, Eli! There's never just one way to tell a story, or one way to write a poem, or one way to produce a song. Variety is the spice of life, baby!

The New Pornographers, or, This Week at PowerPop

will be a mite slow, since I'm going to see The New Pornographers at least once, and maybe twice.

Posted by Hello

The first show is at Maxwell's, a great club in Hoboken where we've seen Guided by Voices and Superchunk and Holly Golightly. Maxwell's is a small place: maybe 20x50, including the stage. My favorite part, though, is a riser which runs along the house left side of the room: when you're 5'2", you need all the help you can get to actually see the stage. But the sound there is sometimes really bad. At the Superchunk show (October 2002, I'm going to guess), there was a low-level hum for much of the performance. But this was more than made up for by the 7' tall guy pogoing to "Detroit Has a Skyline Too," coming dangerously close to the second electric every time he bounced. My favorite part, though, was his shirt, which said "Big Fun." Big Fun indeed. In a hall plagued by hipsters slagging off the band, he was a breath of fresh and enthusiastic air. (I think someone actually yelled at him, though, which is too bad.) In any case, Maxwell's is a great place to see a show because you (well, I) can usually always see, and you're never more than a few yards from the band. (Nevertheless, I missed the fact that Greg Demos pissed onstage when I saw GBV there, New Year's 98-99. Manager-for-life Pete Jamison told us after the show. "Didja see!?! Didja see!?!") Can't wait to get back to Maxwell's, obviously.

And then Saturday we'd like to go see them at Prospect Park in Brooklyn, a free show in the Celebrate Brooklyn series, as The Kenosha Kid notes. But it would probably mean bringing offspring, and while I don't object to that in principle (my oldest girl's first concert was when she was about 5 weeks old), it might get hairy. Plus, we have a wedding shower that day. But hanging with DeepToej and watertiger and steve simels and TKK is worth a lot, too. We'll be in touch, folks, but it might be a last minute decision, I'm warning you. (I love that this show is being produced "with major support from the Canadian Consulate General in New York," but then that sort of thing amuses me. A government that supports the arts! Oh, those wacky Canadians!)

Posted by Hello

I recently acquired the new New Pornographers CD, Twin Cinema, which isn't actually being released until mid-August. The title track is excellent, and I'm also quite keen on "Sing Me Spanish Techno." The rest needs to grow on me, but that's always been true of TNP, who were really my first iPod band. I had a bunch of tracks, and when I first listened to them, I thought "okay, catchy, but not earth-shattering." But then they'd come up in the shuffle and my jaw would drop and I'd say, "what's this?" After the iPod confirmed that it was TNP, I agreed that I needed to convert. I haven't come across the immediate gut-punch of "The Electric Version" or "The Laws Have Changed," yet, but I'm confident it's coming.

I blogged about my band crush on TNP here, but I've since received an email which assures me that Case and Newman aren't really married, though they announced it at a concert in 2002. In my defense, the concert reviewer was also competely credulous, and admit it, we love that sort of thing. If it's not true, it should have been.

UPDATE: Oh boogers. Thanks for the heads up, DeepToej.

Squeeze Me!

Reader michael points us to this posting over at fluxblog:

Before Elvis Costello and Roger Bechirian took over the production duties for the album East Side Story, Dave Edmunds recorded this version of what would become Squeeze's most famous song with co-writer and regular frontman Glenn Tilbrook on lead vocals. For some reason the band was unhappy with this simple, upbeat recording and went on to record the version that everyone knows with a lite soul arrangement and their keyboard player at the time, Paul Carack, on lead vocals with Tilbrook relegated to singing back up and a shared verse with Costello. I suspect that a lot of Squeeze's eventual commercial failure and general lack of legacy in the critical world stems from this bait-and-switch. It's never a good thing when your biggest hit sounds nothing like the rest of your catalog, especially if said hit hasn't aged very well because cheesy 80s blue eyed soul isn't exactly the hippest genre going.

I was never much of a Squeeze person, partly for the reasons Matthew Perpetua notes here. I liked Difford and Tillbrook, but Carrack always left me shrugging my shoulders and saying, "eh?" It wasn't really Difford & Tillbrook's fault, either, that thay came along in an era in which any songwriting team, especially if they happened to be Brits, had the "next Lennon & McCartney" label flung at them, ostensibly as a compliment, but more like an anvil. I liked "Black Coffee in Bed," though, and you'll find that the version of "Temped" to which michael points our attention is in fact a lot more in that vein, instrumentally and mood-wise. Had this been the super-saturated single, I can see me coming along much more willingly.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Band of Brothers

It's probably because I came into the world with five of them myself, but I love brother bands. Brothers have a special bond, maybe because they're stuck with each other and things which might blow apart other bands don't work the same way for them. The joy and tension of family gets superimposed onto a musical structure, and frequently this can be really productive. Sometimes it produces the good clean fun of Shoes (John & Jeff Murphy), sometimes the snarky wit of Redd Kross (Jeff & Steve McDonald).

And sometimes, you get the Gallagher boys.

I like Oasis, I really do. I'm always hesitant to classify them as power pop, because that whole mid-90's thing was and wasn't at the same time. You can't deny the influence of the mid 60's and the late 70's on Noel Gallagher's music, though. He has long been inspired by the same sources which inspire other power poppers. But no matter what the music sounded like, the Gallaghers were just always fun to watch, in a distant, wow-I'm-glad-they're-not-my-family sort of way. Brawling in public (with each other and others), getting theatrically trashed, slagging each other off to reporters, they've been a hoot. Perhaps it's the fact that I came of age during the punk era, but I always liked that anarchic edge on their heavy-browed, incomprehensibly accented selves.

They've been having a heck of a couple of weeks. A quick scan tells me that:

NOEL GALLAGHER REVEALS NEW ADDICTION (Don't worry, he's not "chained to the mirror and the razor blade" again (a line Thers once explained to a curious offspring as being about shaving); it's Adidas and guitars for our shopaholic.)

and even better:


He raged: “Wankers. Haven’t they got fuck-all better to do? I’d rather be out there getting pissed. I certainly wouldn’t go back after a gig and analyse it. No wonder they’re the biggest band in the world: ‘Oh Edge, the fourth guitar solo wasn’t right tonight’. ‘Oh sorry, Bono’. If that’s what people think rock’n’roll is…”

And just last week:
The rock world's favorite potty-mouthed siblings are at their bickering again: Liam Gallagher stormed off stage during last night's Oasis show in Italy. According to NME.com, the reasons for Liam's abrupt departure were unclear; are they ever? After Liam left during "Champagne Supernova," brother Noel took the helm and played some perennial Oasis classics like "Little by Little" and "Don't Look Back in Anger."

And in case you're curious, no, they won't be joining the wankers at Live 8.
"I don't like the way that somebody suddenly decides that all the bands in England are going to f***kin' play and everybody jumps to attention."

It's probably deeply unhealthy that this amuses me. I mean, if they weren't musicians, they'd be, well, more like my real brothers.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Friday babyblogging: Gourmet Edition

Rosie's first pickle: a successful experiment.

Meanwhile, the Five-Year-Old, who spells phonetically, complains about the state of his breakfast. Posted by Hello

Posted by Hello

I Get Mail...

Like this!

Fountains of Wayne's upcoming release on Virgin Records,
Out-Of-State Plates, is now available for pre-order at
the fountainsofwayne.com official store.

Out-Of-State Plates is a specially-priced ($13.99) 2-CD
collection of non-album tracks and unreleased material
culled from the band's entire career. Included are the
brand new songs "Maureen" and "The Girl I Can't Forget",
as well as numerous covers, home demos, and other
rarities. The CD package also features extensive liner
notes written by FoW's Adam Schlesinger and Chris

Order your copy here:

All pre-orders will be automatically entered in a contest
to win signed CDs and posters from the band. Out-Of-State
Plates will be in stores June 28th, but pre-orders will
be delivered on day of release.

Click here to learn more:

Please check http://www.fountainsofwayne.com often for
upcoming shows and TV appearances in support of
Out-Of-State Plates.

Thanks for your support.

FOW are probably the purest power pop band out there right now. If all you know is "Stacey's Mom," definitely look into the rest of their catalog. Adam Schlesinger has the sound down pat. Personally, I recommend "Bright Future in Sales" a,d "Red Dragon Tattoo," but those are just my faves.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Happy Bloomsday!

On a bit of hiatus, because this is the day upon which James Joyce's Ulysses is set. This is even geekier than power pop; trust me. But I'm in mid-conference and will be back soon. Ciao!

Monday, June 13, 2005

Ooo! Ooo, ooo!

Courtesy of Pitchfork Media:
Teenage Fanclub are set to hit up the North American road this summer in support Man-Made, their latest release on Merge Records. The Scots have not ventured into North America too often in their career, last coming ashore in 2001 for a five-city tour. But with a new album comes a new tour, and here they come. Labelmates the Rosebuds will open throughout the tour.

This band is a ton of fun. I've never seen them live, but Thers has seen them open for Redd Kross, so you know that has to be good.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Friday Babyblogging: Messy Edition

I can feed myself! Posted by Hello

Bands You Should Know: Ruth Ruth

One of the wonderful, heartbreaking things about this little corner of the world is the obscene number of great bands who never quite made it, or only in a small way. As you know, I never understand why a world which gives Justin Timberlake tacit permission to strip women on television because of his reputed talent, a world in which I am expected to read and/or care about how pregnant sex feels to Britney Spears just because a producer somewhere manipulates her digitally into something approximating music, cannot give a fair shot to unpackaged, intelligent rock-pop songwriters with actual brains. (I think I may have just answered my own question there.)

The Scene: The Continental in the East Village. We're there to see The Remains (later The Ramainz), that is, the remains of the Ramones, fronted by DeeDee and his wife, who looks to be maybe 18. Marky and CJ Ramone are also onstage (so this had to have been December 1996, I guess). DeeDee was in fine form, slagging off cops on Coney Island for open container laws and such. Not quite the comic stylings of his DeeDee King period ("Funky Man" is a stone classic), but pretty good. I didn't really see the show... I never do unless it's pretty empty (or, like Maxwell's, there's a riser on the floor). But I heard it, and The Remains were about what you'd expect. But that night had other surprises in store for me.

The bar was packed, and me and Thersites and Deeptoej were standing in the crowd waiting. Ruth Ruth came on, and I was hooked. Right-behind-the-navel hooked. Was it punk? Well, kind of, but too melodic for that. Was it pop? Yes, but edgy. And though I couldn't hear everything Chris Kennedy was saying, I could tell that it was pretty dense lyrically as well. I bought everything they had for sale that night (not a lot: The Little Death EP and a 45 of "Julia, You Have No Heartbeat" (still one of my favorite songs, ever)) and waited to hear more from them. I was sure I would. After the show, Deeptoej and I studied the liner notes carefully and swapped impressions--I was absurdly pleased that I'd spotted the Elvis Costello influence in there--and I'm always absurdly pleased when I manage to impress Deeptoej with any scrap of musical insight, because he knows everything.

(OT: I think The Remains kind of blew that one, though. Opening acts are tricky: you want them to appeal to the same crowd as the headliner, not to blow the headliner out of the water. But Ruth Ruth opening for The Remains was like having a stuffed artichoke as an appetizer before eating Burger King. Pleased as I was, I think the bill was weird, like when Redd Kross opened for The Presidents of the United States of America.

Dear Venue Owners,
Redd Kross should never open for anyone. When they hit the stage, they are the main event.

At that point, Ruth Ruth had already released their seminal record Laughing Gallery (on American), to which The Little Death (on Epitaph) was a follow-up. They played The Continental a lot and were getting serious buzz. By 1998, they had signed with RCA and released Are You My Friend?. There's an interview with Kennedy from that era here. Changing direction a bit, the band (now under the name Ultra-V) released Bring on the Fuego in 2000. By 2002, they were back to Ruth Ruth, and released Right About Now last year. Like all of their stuff, it's smart and catchy, a little bitter, but rocking. I like this band a lot, in case you can't tell.

(OT: Chris Kennedy was one of the first people I contacted when I started this blog: I asked him if he had any press or reviews that I could link to. He wanted me to interview him, but I was terrified.)

If you don't already know Ruth Ruth, you should. If you've found your way here, this is the sort of thing you'll like. Trust your blogmistress here.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Oh, Attaturk! (er.... DeDurkheim...)

From over at Rising Hegemon, we learn of the existence of the following dismaying cultural production:

Paul Anka covering contemporary music.

According to DeDurkheim:
You must listen to "Smells like Teen Spirit," "Jump," "It's my Life," and "Blackhole Sun" as only Paul Anka can do them. This record just came out and for reasons that I am sure Paul Anka did not intend, I love these songs! Just click on the link for the first song and listen to them.

Damn it! Some of these arrangements work! Try the Ankanator's cover of "Wonderwall." Man, I need a drink.

Not as badly as I.

I'll be honest, my most vivid image of Paul Anka is not "She's Having My Baby" or anything like that. It's this:

Mystery Science Theater 3000's Girlstown. He looked roughly like this as he massacred the "Ave Maria," dodged a psycho stalker (who solves her stalking problem by becoming a nun), is outfought by another, older nun, roughs up Mel Torme, whines about being lonely, and, oh, all kinds of stuff, culminating (presumably) in Good Catholic Sex with Mamie VanDoren:

But I don't have the courage to listen to him sing "Smells Like Teen Spirit," I have to say. Aiiieee!

Monday, June 06, 2005

On This Day in Pop History

The Beatles entered the studio with George Martin for the first time. (1962)

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Out of the Past: Paul Collins' Beat

I love it when this happens, really. I have these little bands whose vinyl I cradle gently because they don't exist on CD, and who I have loved for decades now. Then, one day, the CD comes out and all of a sudden everything is bright and new and out there for folks to hear. That is so cool. The transition gives bands a chance in the new world of ipods and digital music and p2p, because the problem was never that they were bad bands, but that the industry got bored with whatever pigeonhole to which it had consigned them before it got bored with the movement, and they languished, not knowing how their vinyl was cossetted in various homes across America.

Example: The Beat.

I mean, look at this site! This is a freaking crime!
There is no "inventory". CD's are made to order and "one of a kind", not available at any store anywhere.

I cannot express my relief that this situation has been rectified. Last week, Wounded Bird Records released The Beat's two classic power pop records on a twofer disc (I love those, as seen here and here, for example.) Here's the band bio, from allmusic.com (whose links I can never make work...)
A Los Angeles-based power pop outfit formed by Paul Collins (ex-Nerves), the Beat recorded its self-titled debut LP after signing to Columbia Records in 1979. Despite good reviews and some regional success, the album failed to make much impact. A second attempt, 1982's The Kids Are the Same (this time credited to Paul Collins' Beat), also failed and effectively broke up the band. However, Collins returned the following year with a harder-rocking lineup including Patti Smith Group drummer Jay Dee Daugherty. Their EP, To Beat or Not to Beat, was again ignored; it proved to be the band's last recording. While it seemed that the Beat's only claim to fame would be forcing the (English) Beat to change its name in the U.S., their albums are now seen as classic examples of power pop. Paul Collins returned to a solo career into the '90s, signing to Wagon Wheel Records.

Let me be clear: I never actively sought hipster obscurity. I just listened to what I liked and paid not very much attention to whether others liked it too. That's the opposite of hipster obscurity: I'm just a geek, and I embrace my geekiness. But I never understood why The Beat weren't huge.

In the early 90's, their classic tune "Rock & Roll Girl" was covered by The Muffs on Freedom of Choice, a CD to benefit Planned Parenthood. So they've been out there, had an effect, but never really commercial success. But they're a great band, and I encourage everyone to pick up the CD. I will, next payday!

Now, if only I can get the Starjets on CD.....

6/8 UPDATE: As it transpires, there's a "rogue former member" of The Beat selling these CD-R's! Oops. The real website is here. Thanks for the heads-up, readers! I'm always interested in making sure the artist gets his or her due.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Friday Babyblogging

Rosie is well-accessorized, yet contemplative. Posted by Hello

The Move on Video!

This is why I love summer vacation. Though I still fall victim to my customary insomnia (and yes, Kenosha Kid, I really did crash at 11 last night), instead of using the five o'clock hour to rush through class notes or grade papers, I can mess around on the internet and find cool stuff.

For example: Bedazzled!, a site named after my favorite film of all time (Moore/Cook, please, not Frazer/Hurley) which I found by poking around the web to various music sites I did not know. If I blogroll all these guys, I'll end up all roll and no blog!

But at Bedazzled, I found streaming video of the supercool sixties band The Move doing "Walk Upon the Water."

And keep reading down the page: there's lots more video and audio for your delectation: Cheap Trick, Roy Wood solo, the Turtles, Sandy Denny, all kinds of great shit. What a find! Looks like somebody's going on the blogroll after all!

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Oh Good God

Anyone who knows me is probably aware of my inordinate pride that I have yet to watch, under my own steam, a single episode of reality TV. I did see one episode each of two separate Survivors, and in both cases spent the episode fending off the complex explanations offered by whoever it was whose idea it was to watch the show. Honestly, people, if you're interested in tracking complicated political interconnections for big stakes, spend your time figuring out why the fuck the Royal House of Saud gets to set American foreign policy and then fund suicide bombers all while walking hand-in-hand with the prez. (The soundtrack to that stroll really should have included Leo Sayer and/or the Little River Band.) We could break it up into one hour weekly segments, if you'd like.

ANYWAY, reality TV holds no charm for me, but it's doing its best to weasel its way into the .001% of the population who have so far avoided its range. Evidence: Hit Me Baby One More Time. To wit:
Veteran hitmakers perform and compete! Based on the popular UK show of the same name, "Hit Me Baby One More Time" tracks down hitmakers from the past and they take the stage in a new competition in which you're the judge! Former Top Ten artists return to perform their trademark hit song along with one of today's current hits. At the end of the night, the live audience votes for their favorites!
Coming Soon...
Wang Chung, The Knack, Irene Cara, Sophie B. Hawkins, Cameo, Tommy Tutone, Vanilla Ice, The Motels and more!

This week, A Flock of Seagulls, Loverboy, Tiffany, and CeCe Peniston. (Apparently, Tiffany was on the British one, too. Huh.)

NYMary's fearless prediction: this show will tell us nothing except which kitsch is currently in vogue. 80's garbage bag bands? Mall girl disco? Headbanded Canadians? There can be only one....

And another fearless prediction: The Knack will take home the gold at the end of the series. If they don't, I'll buy you a drink next time I see you. (Except for you, Thersites. Our usual bet applies.)

Pop Landmark Closes

Courtesy of CNN:
LONDON, England (Reuters) -- A British children's home immortalized in the Beatles hit "Strawberry Fields Forever" closed on Tuesday after 69 years of looking after Liverpool's disadvantaged youngsters.

The Salvation Army said all the children had left the Strawberry Field home and childcare provision at the Beaconsfield Road site ended today.

No decision has been made on the fate of the home or its iconic wrought iron gates that became well-known to thousands of Beatles fans after the song was released in 1967.

"A few administrative staff will stay on for the short term to wrap everything up over the next couple of months," a spokeswoman for the Christian charity told Reuters.

Lennon used to visit the home as a boy to play with childhood friends in its grounds. He modified the name to make it flow better for the song.