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Purchase log, 2019-07-16

[Torche - Admission]

I catalog my music purchases on Collectorz and Discogs, but they don’t give me a sense of change over time. So I’m noting them here weekly as well.

New releases

CD
  • Torche, Admission

Catalog

CD
  • Alabama Shakes, Boys & Girls
  • Bangles, A Different Light
  • Clannad, Atlantic Realm
  • Elliott Smith, Figure 8
  • Fleetwood Mac, Behind the Mask
  • Front 242, Tyranny for You
  • Gabby Pahinui and Atta Isaacs, Two Slack Key Guitars
  • Grandaddy, The Sophtware Slump
  • Hapa, In the Name of Love
  • John Zorn, The Classic Guide to Strategy, Volumes One and Two
  • Johnny Cash, American IV: The Man Comes Around
  • Lorde, Pure Heroine
  • Morrissey, You Are the Quarry
  • Mumford and Sons, Babel
  • R.E.O. Speedwagon, Hi Infidelity
  • SING LIKE TALKING, DISCOVERY
  • Skrillex, Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites
  • The Style Council, Confessions of a Pop Group
  • Tricky, Maxinquaye
  • Various Artists, Every Band Has a Shonen Knife Who Loves Them
Vinyl
  • ABBA, The Singles: The First 10 Years
  • Cyndi Lauper, She’s So Unusual
  • Krzysztof Penderecki, Violin Concerto (Isaac Stern, Minnesota Orchestra, Stanislaw Skrowaczewki)
  • Leonard Bernstein, Leonard Bernstein Conducts His Symphonies (New York Philharmonic)
  • New Jersey Percussion Ensemble, Percussion Music
  • Stephen Sondheim, Company (Original Cast Recording)
  • The Alarm, Strength

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Favorite Edition Rewind: 1980

[ABBA - Greatest Hits, Vol. 2]

A decade ago, I wrote a series of entries ranking my favorite albums from 1985 to 2004. My collection has expanded greatly since then, particularly in the last five years. So I wanted to see what has changed in 10 years.

If my 8-year-old self were in control of this list, the soundtrack to Xanadu would occupy the top spot. The only other title he might have recognized would be Diana. And he would have questioned the inclusion of AC/DC.

  1. U2, Boy
  2. David Bowie, Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps)
  3. Kate Bush, Never for Ever
  4. Diana Ross, Diana
  5. X, Los Angeles
  6. Grace Jones, Warm Leatherette
  7. Killing Joke, Killing Joke
  8. Talking Heads, Remain in Light
  9. AC/DC, Back in Black
  10. Emmylou Harris, Roses in the Snow

Other favorites from the year:

  • The Police, Zenyatta Mondatta
  • Soundtrack, Xanadu
  • ABBA, Super Trouper
  • The B-52’s, Wild Planet

The roots of my collecting bug are anchored in 1980.

I would bug my mom to buy me 7-inch singles. I was told I didn’t have the sufficient capacity to judge whether a full album would be worth the purchase price. My mom wasn’t about to drop cash on a set of songs if only one of them would entertain me.

So I amassed quite a lot of singles — “Tell It Like Is” by Heart, “A Lover’s Holiday” by Change, “Stomp!” by the Brothers Johnson.

I was, however, a pest about ABBA. The age of eight seems to be the right level of maturity for ABBA to sink its sugary hooks into an impressionable mind. My niece was crazy for Mamma Mia, the movie musical, right around the age I bugged my parents to get me their Greatest Hits, Vol. 2. The first volume didn’t have “Chiquitita.”

Video games interrupted my interest in music for four years, so it makes me wonder in how much more trouble I’d be today without that disruption.

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Favorite Edition Rewind: 1981

[Go Gos - Beauty and the Beat]

A decade ago, I wrote a series of entries ranking my favorite albums from 1985 to 2004. My collection has expanded greatly since then, particularly in the last five years. So I wanted to see what has changed in 10 years.

If there were a year I was least interested in music, it would be 1981. And it was a remarkable turn of events, because I had amassed quite a 7-inch collection the year before.

  1. Duran Duran, Duran Duran
  2. Lou Harrison, Three Pieces for Gamelan with Soloists / String Quartet Set
  3. Eurythmics, In the Garden
  4. U2, October
  5. The Police, Ghost in the Machine
  6. ABBA, The Visitors
  7. Black Flag, Damaged
  8. Brian Eno and David Byrne, My Life in the Bush of Ghosts
  9. Bucker and Garcia, Pac-Man Fever
  10. Rick Springfield, Working Class Dog

Other favorites from the year:

  • Go-Go’s, Beauty and the Beat
  • Gang of Four, Solid Gold
  • Grace Jones, Nightclubbing

1981 marked the start of my fascination with the classic video games of the era. I would also take an interest in computers and programming. My parents actively discouraged me from pursuing either interest, but it would not stop me from sneaking away to the arcade when we went to the local malls.

That didn’t mean I was totally unaware of music. Of the titles on this list, I would have listened to the Police, ABBA, Rick Springfield, the Go-Go’s and Buckner and Garcia. And I would have definitely seen Grace Jones in the press.

If there was one album I really wanted to get at the time, it would have been Pac-Man Fever by Buckner and Garcia, mostly for the maze patterns on the inner sleeve that would have help you to win the game.

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How I stopped worrying and learned to appreciate ABBA

ABBA - Arrival

There was a time in my life when it was absolutely not OK to admit to liking ABBA, and that time just happen to coincide with junior high school.

Well, it extended throughout high school as well, but a very specific incident in junior high school schooled me in what was then conventional wisdom. I had drawn the ABBA logo with the backward “B” on my copy of the Webster dictionary, and it opened me up for ridicule.

This being junior high, such ridicule had a lasting effect.

It became acceptable to like ABBA again in my sophomore year of college (ca. 1993) when a column in the Village Voice signaled the all-clear. The column tied ABBA’s resurgence with the gay community, and I was another two years away from being in the psychological mindset to come out.

So I clung to my internalized homophobia and maintained my ABBAmnesia.

Muriel’s Wedding hit theaters in 1994. Mamma Mia opened in London in 1999.  In 2000, the members of ABBA turned down 1 billion dollars to reunite.

It’s been OK to like ABBA for a very long time now, but up until last summer, I couldn’t do it.

And I had long run out of excuses.

The biggest obstacle was my rockism. Straight guys with guitars — that is the bulk of my listening, and a lot of those straight guys instilled in me the idea that “disco sucks”. ABBA, even today, has not shaken off the perception of being a disco band, even when close examination of their output demonstrates otherwise.

Tied to rockism is internalized homophobia. Yes, even after nearly 20 years out of the closet, there are acceptable conventions of gay male culture to which I just say no. I don’t get drag. And I didn’t get ABBA.

It wasn’t always the case.

I drew that ABBA logo on my dictionary because I really did like them when I was 8 years old. I was in mall record store when the clerks put a LaserDisc of ABBA’s music videos on the TV. After that, I was hooked.

Pac-Man later derailed my attention from ABBA, but by then the group had broken up. And then came Duran Duran.

A recent holiday conversation with my sister in Chicago revealed that her own 7-year-old daughter was absolutely addicted to Mamma Mia.

Maybe that was it.

ABBA’s melodic sense is so basic and tuneful, it’s children’s music. I was a child when at the height of my ABBA fandom. I didn’t understand the words — and there were no lyric sheets on my albums — so all I had to go one was melody.  Have I really been looking down on that instinctive appreciation all this time?

Today, I recognize that Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus wrote some sophisticated pop music. And while “Dancing Queen” put a lot  of cash in their coffers, “Intermezzo No. 1” showed the band could do a lot more.

I’ve culled my music collection numerous times over the years, but the four vinyl albums by ABBA survived each purge. I put those albums on my turntable after purchasing some decent stereo speakers in May 2013, and I realized I was just way too freaking old to hold onto a slight from more than 30 years ago.

I’ve since added Super Trouper, The Visitors, Arrival and The Album to my collection. I’m passing on Voulez-Vous, and the jury is still out on Waterloo and Ring Ring.

I was right to draw that logo on my dictionary. Too bad I was too young to recognize it.

 

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