Archives

Favorite Edition Rewind: 1982

[The Waitresses - Wasn't Tomorrow Wonderful?]

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.

From here on out, you’ll see a lot of names repeat on these lists. These selections reflect my tastes as an adult rather than what I would have been listening to at the time.

  1. Duran Duran, Rio
  2. Clannad, Fuaim
  3. ABC, The Lexicon of Love
  4. Bruce Springsteen, Nebraska
  5. Kate Bush, The Dreaming
  6. The Waitresses, Wasn’t Tomorrow Wonderful
  7. Roxy Music, Avalon
  8. X, Under the Big Black Sun
  9. Soundtrack, Tron
  10. Midnight Oil, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1

The only album on this list I actually listened to in 1982 was the soundtrack to Tron. I was all about the video game, and I dug the special effects in the movie. I was, however, too young to understand how awful the screenplay was.

I saw the Waitresses on Solid Gold and absolutely loved “I Know What Boys Like.” By the time I would start collecting music, the Waitresses had already recessed into one-hit wonder memory. But the song left such an indelible print, I would seek it out in my first year of college.

Duran Duran’s Rio was released that year, but I had no inkling of it at the time. Music was a passive activity. The car radio or my siblings’ boomboxes keep me informed of the days’ hits, but my passion lie with video games — an activity my parents curtailed because they equated it with gambling.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Favorite Edition Rewind: 1984

[Thompson Twins - Into the Gap]

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.

And now we enter some new territory. I didn’t start collecting music in earnest till 1985, and I wouldn’t start exploring catalog music till 2005. Raiding thrift shops has allowed me to fill in a lot of history, which is why were expanding the range of this retrospective to as far back as 1978. Today, we start with 1984.

  1. Stephen Sondheim, Sunday in the Park with George
  2. The Replacements, Let It Be
  3. Soundtrack, Amadeus
  4. Andersson / Rice / Ulvaeus, Chess
  5. Art of Noise, Who’s Afraid of? … the Art of Noise!
  6. Madonna, Like a Virgin
  7. Prince and the Revolution, Purple Rain
  8. Bruce Springsteen, Born in the USA
  9. Arvo Pärt, Tabula Rasa
  10. Thompson Twins, Into the Gap

Other favorites from the year:

  • Guadalcanal Diary, Walking in the Shadows of the Big Man
  • Nena, 99 Luftballons
  • Eurythmics, 1984 (For the Love of Big Brother)
  • Sade, Diamond Life

I was much more into arcade video games — the classic era of Pac-Man and Galaga — than music in 1984. The only album I owned from that time is 99 Luftballons. Everything else I would discover later.

My 12-year-old self would not have known what to make of the Replacements or Arvo Pärt. He would have scoffed and wretched over the idea that Madonna or Prince could rank on such a list. They were his brother’s albums, after all.

He certainly did not have the sophistication or patience for two LPs of Mozart, although he might have really liked watching Amadeus.

And he would have definitely protested the inclusion of Bruce Springsteen on the list, all the while gazing lustily after the cover of Born in the USA.

He would have totally understood the Thompson Twins, though.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Purchase log, 2018-07-24

[Clannad - Turas 1980]

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
  • Clannad, Turas 1980
  • Seattle Symphony, Ludovic Morlot, Roomful of Teeth: Berio: Sinfonia / Boulez: Notations I-IV / Ravel: La valse

Catalog

CD
  • Aphex Twin, Drukqs
  • Aretha Franklin, I Never Loved a Man the Way I Loved You
  • Big Star: #1 Record / Radio City
  • Black Sabbath: Black Sabbath Vol. 4
  • Black Sabbath: Master of Reality
  • Black Sabbath: Sabbath Bloody Sabbath
  • Brian Eno, Here Come the Warm Jets
  • Bruce Springsteen, Nebraska (Remastered)
  • Carl Stalling, The Carl Stalling Project, Vol. 2
  • New Order, Brotherhood
  • Rachel’s, Handwriting LP
  • Rachel’s, Music for Egon Schiele
  • Songs: Ohia, Songs: Ohia
  • The Beach Boys, Pet Sounds
  • The Flaming Lips, Zaireeka
  • The Pogues, Rum Sodomy & the Lash (Remastered)
  • Soundtrack, The Triplets of Belleville

Reissues

CD
  • Jason Isbell, Sirens of the Ditch (Deluxe Edition)

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Favorite Edition 2018: Year half

[Janelle Monáe - Dirty Computer]

It’s time we turn this list around. Instead of tracking the favorite new releases of 2018, I’ll start with my favorite catalog discoveries. The vast majority of my listening these days is old music that’s new to me, so let’s pretend no longer I have a read on anything current.

Catalog

  • Patti Smith, Horses: PJ Harvey sure owes a lot to Patti Smith. The first time I played Horses, there were moments I thought I was listening to Polly Jean. This album confounded me, thus forcing me to play it multiple times, each time engaging me more than the last. Smith has been described as the godmother of punk, and I half expected a proto-Sleater-Kinney. Nah, man. That’s not it at all.
  • The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Are You Experienced?: Maybe it’s because of Emmylou Harris and Kronos Quartet that made this album feel instantly familiar, or maybe its influence extends as far as the arm of Sauron.
  • Roxy Music, Avalon: Smooth
  • Bruce Springsteen, Nebraska: This shit is dark.
  • Joni Mitchell, Court and Spark: Without some schooling in Charles Mingus and John Coltrane, I wouldn’t have understood how ground-breaking this album is. Otherwise, the cheap imitations it spawned would have been my only reference.
  • Fugazi, The Argument: I didn’t think anything could top 13 Songs or Repeater, but this album comes damn close.
  • Dwight Yoakam, Guitars Cadillacs Etc. Etc.: Honky-tonk AF
  • Benjamin Gibbard / Andrew Kenny, Home, Vol. 5: Even after 15 years, this split EP holds together well.

New Releases

  • Janelle Monáe, Dirty Computer: This is the album I wished The ArchAndroid was. I still think she hasn’t yet recorded her Shousou Strip.
  • Laurie Anderson and Kronos Quartet, Landfall: I found myself engaged in this album more than I expected.
  • Various Artists, Adam to Eve no Ringo: Shiina Ringo is one of the best songwriters, because the strength of her writing cuts through even the most ordinary interpretation of her songs.
  • Thomas Bartlett and Nico Muhly, Peter Pears: Balinese Ceremonial Music: It’s an improbable concept album based on transcriptions of Balinese gamelan music by English composer Colin McPhee. In execution, it’s a stronger concept than the Planetarium album Muhly did with Sufjan Stevens, Bryce Dessner and James McAlister.
  • Steve Grand, not the end of me: Grand has gone through some serious shit since his debut album, and this sprawling sophomore effort lays it all out.
  • Utada Hikaru, Hatsukoi: Check out the rhythmic modulation on “Chikai”. She does some amazing obfuscation with the downbeat.
  • Igor Stravinsky, Chant Funèbre / La Sacre Du Printemps: It seems Funeral Song didn’t really answer the question of how Stravinsky bridged his Scriabin-influenced early work with the Firebird and all that came after.
  • Tracey Thorn, Record: Tracey Thorn returns to the dancefloor, thank deities.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Purchase log, 2018-03-20

[Roxy Music - Avalon]

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.

This past weekend was the annual Big Book Sale by the Friends of the Seattle Public Library, so I should have enough music to last me for weeks, right? Right.

Catalog

CDs
  • Anita Baker, Giving You the Best That I Got
  • Beastie Boys, Check Your Head
  • Victor Borge, Live(!)
  • Glenn Branca, Symphony No. 2: Peak of the Sacred
  • Cameo, Word Up!
  • Capercaillie, Secret People
  • John Coltrane, Giant Steps
  • John Coltrane, Meditations
  • John Coltrane, My Favorite Things
  • John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman, John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman
  • Eazy-E, Eazy-Duz-It
  • Bill Evans Trio, Waltz for Debby
  • Fugazi, End Hits
  • Peter Gabriel, Shaking the Tree
  • Guns N’ Roses, G N’ R Lies
  • Heart, Bad Animals
  • The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Are You Experienced?
  • Ketsumeshi, Ketsunopolis 4
  • LL Cool J, Mama Said Knock You Out
  • Milt Jackson and John Coltrane, Bags and Trane
  • Joni Mitchell, Court and Spark
  • Morrissey, The Best of Morrissey
  • Mother Love Bone, Mother Love Bone
  • Nirvana, Incesticide
  • Robert Palmer, Clues
  • Prince, Musicology
  • R.E.M., Dead Letter Office
  • Radiohead, The Bends
  • Rage Against the Machine, Rage Against the Machine
  • Einojuhani Rautvaara, Symphony No. 7: Angel of Light / Annunciations
  • Sonny Rollins, Saxophone Colossus
  • Roxy Music, Avalon (Remastered)
  • Soundgarden, Ultramega OK
  • Bruce Springsteen, The Rising
  • They Might Be Giants, Flood
  • TLC, Ooooooohhh… On the TLC Tip
  • Värttinä, Seleniko
  • Soundtrack, Pride and Prejudice
DVD
  • Tokyo Jihen, Dynamite Out

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Purchase log: 2018-01-30

[Patti Smith - Horses]

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.

Catalog

CDs
  • Bruce Springsteen, Nebraska
  • Bruce Springsteen Tunnel of Love
  • Elvis Costello, My Aim Is True
  • Information Society, Hack
  • Joy Division, Substance
  • Nine Inch Nails, The Fragile
  • Patti Smith, Horses
  • Tool, Lateralus
  • Throwing Muses, House Tornado / The Fat Skier
  • Throwing Muses, In a Doghouse
  • Wilco, Being There
Vinyl
  • Ambitious Lovers, Envy
Blu Ray
  • Shiina Ringo, Baisho Ecstacy

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Bruce Springsteen, the male performer straight guys would go gay for

[Bruce Springsteen - Born in the U.S.A.]

Armistead Maupin, through his fictional character Michael Tolliver, proposed the idea that each generation has a male performer straight guys would go queer for. “It was Mick Jagger for a long time,” Michael explains in Significant Others, “and now it’s Bruce Springsteen.”

The cover for Born in the U.S.A. does nothing to dissuade this idea. Springsteen’s jeans certainly do his posterior justice, and the red cap could be mistaken for a handkerchief, which conveys some sort of code that modern day hook-up apps make obsolete. And the form-fitting white t-shirt? It’s the uniform of countless gay guys.

At the time Born in the U.S.A. was released, I wasn’t yet sexually aware enough to attach the word “homoerotic” to the cover’s unconscious vibe. Besides, “homoerotic” and “Bruce Springsteen” aren’t words strung together in sentences in, well, ever.

And yet, I was drawn to the cover despite the fact I really couldn’t stand all the radio hits Born in the U.S.A. spawned. Springsteen was the polar opposite of the new wave music that caught my fancy at the time. The effete sophistication of ABC, Duran Duran and Eurythmics rubbed against Springsteen’s middle American bombast.

Also, the title track of the album had that disturbing line about being “sent to Vietnam to go and kill yellow man.”

But Springsteen himself? His contract had a rider that a gym went with him on tour. Countless pictures showed off his guns, and the “Dancing in the Dark” video made it a point to display his crotch.

It’s pretty amazing that an Internet search yields no beefcake photos of him from the 1980s. Recent pictures of Springsteen pretty much demonstrate the man takes care of himself.

I couldn’t admit it at the time, but Springsteen joined Huey Lewis, Sting, Simon Le Bon and Roger Taylor on the list of male figures stirring my pre-teen sexual awareness. But I couldn’t bring myself to overlook his music to acknowledge his placement on that list.

About three hours before writing this entry, Born in the U.S.A. became part of my vinyl collection. It’s taken 30 years.

What changed?

In 1995, Emmylou Harris entered my life, and with it, country music and its punk-inspired off-shoot, alt-country. If Springsteen had more twang and less literary chops, he’d be chumming it up with Brad Paisley and Blake Shelton.

In short, I’ve grown accustomed to songs Springsteen himself has inspired that listening to the original is no effort. “Glory Days” is playing on the record player as I type this sentence, and I distinctly remember thinking it exemplified what I dislike about Springsteen. Today, I realize I’ve written songs in the same style.

Of course what clinched the purchase for me was actually listening to the album on the streaming services. None of the annoyance from 30 years ago surfaced. In fact, I understood the album. Born in the U.S.A. was an album for grown-ups in the 1980s, not for teenagers. I hated it because it wasn’t meant for me.

And now, I can totally own that yes, I think Bruce Springsteen is hot. I can call out the cover of Born in the U.S.A. as being totally homoerotic. Most importantly, I can admit it’s a really good album.

Tags: