· · Music
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· · · · Internet (1 fragment)
· · · · Performance (21 fragments)
· · · · Pop (5 fragments)
· · · · Recordings (71 fragments)
Professor Dale and Me
· To misquote William Gibson: “The past is still here with us, just unevenly distributed.” I have a story to tell that stars Sergei Rachmaninoff and me. It starts just before 1900 in Moscow. My part ends around 1972 in the mountains of Lebanon, looking down over Beirut and the blue Mediterranean. It doesn’t have to do with computers and nothing in it matters to anyone living except me, but maybe you’ll enjoy a faintly exotic musical echo from a long time ago a long way away ...
· I watched all eight hours of Jackson’s Get Back Beatles documentary. I’m a pretty intense music geek and while I gather there were some for whom this was Too Much Beatles, there was hardly a moment I wanted to look away. I found the whole thing intense and feel like sharing a few purely musical take-aways: If you care about will-George-quit or the-meaning-of-Yoko drama, I got nothing for you ... [1 comment]
· On Saturday September 25th, 2021, we went to a concert by Cousin Harley featuring Paul Pigat. The last live indoor music we’d seen was March 8, 2020, which is to say a gap of 566 days. Speaking of gaps, 2021 marks, more or less, both seventy years of Rock ’n’ Roll and 50 years of my loving it ...
· Herewith notes on what I’m listening to in 2021, and why that’s a problem. With recommendations both for music and for things we can do to keep it alive ... [11 comments]
· Some readers may remember a February 2019 blog post describing how I inherited 900 or so used LPs, mostly classical. As of this week, I’ve listened to all of them (or rejected them out of hand), and kept 220 or so (counting methods were imperfect). Herewith lessons and reconfigurations. Also there’s a companion piece on sixteen albums I especially liked ... [1 comment]
· I just finished writing about the process of, and lessons from, processing 900 inherited LPs into my collection. I thought it wouldn’t be fair to stay meta, so here is a handful of my favorites from among the new arrivals. Yes, they are all music by dead white men, performed by other dead white men (and a couple of women). Sorry. They were released between 1953 and 1978 ...
· This is a story about researching Russian music, about Italian adulterers in Hell, and about pulp sci-fi featuring fairy-cursed princesses. To be honest, it’s also about editing Wikipedia, why that’s fun and rewarding and maybe you should try it ... [2 comments]
Slow Drone Soar
· I recently invited you to read a thousand-page novel without much in the way of sentences, so I think it’s perfectly reasonable to point you at a 69-minute drone-metal album that largely lacks melody and rhythm. I refer to Life Metal, a 2019 release from Sunn O))). Because in 2020 we really ought to be sharing good things with each other, and this is a good thing; the new music I’ve enjoyed most this year ... [4 comments]
Oboe to Ida
· What happened was, I was listening to an (at least) fifty-year old LP, a classical collection entitled The Virtuoso Oboe; it’s what the title says. The music was nothing to write home about but led into a maze of twisty little passages that ended with me admiring the life of a glamorous Russian bisexual Jewish ballerina heiress who’s famous for… well, we’ll get to that ... [1 comment]
Wolfe and Gika
· Chelsea Wolfe I mean, and her opening act Thursday night was Ioanna Gika. It was exceptionally enjoyable, partly because nothing about it was wrong. Lovely music, great staging, good venue, exceptional sound. This happens rarely enough that it’s worth calling out when it does ... [2 comments]
· As I continue slowly ingesting the 900 classical LPs I inherited, I’ve developed a relationship with Discogs. It’s a good place to track your collection (here’s mine, in-progress). This is the story of my first attempt to use it to buy music, a laughable failure. It’s by way of public service, just leaving a marker, a warning others to be careful about charging into the marketplace ... [3 comments]
Pink Floyd Dad Jokes
· I took my 12-year-old and 19-year-old to see Nick Mason’s Saucerful of Secrets tour (Lauren had choir practice). The band was grizzled, grey, and genial; when Nick closed by saying “We hope you had as much fun as we did” we felt he meant it. Their stage banter was that of well-bred Englishmen, dry and mild ... [4 comments]
· What happened was, Lauren said “My friend Leonard from choir has a friend whose husband died, and she’s wondering what to do with his record collection.” I said “If she doesn’t want to try to sell them, I’ll have a look at them.” Then I took off on a business trip. When I got back, Lauren said “You need to bring the records in from the van.” There turned out to be 900. This is the start of a story of musical discovery ... [8 comments]
· On a recent Saturday we accidentally took in two very different pop-music concerts; I got one decent pic but ended the evening angry ... [2 comments]
On Loving Rock and Roll
· Put another dime in the jukebox, baby. I like more or less all the music, at least all of it’s that written by humans and performed by musicians, which excludes most modern industrial. But Rock is the music of my time and tribe, and while other kinds can make me dream and weep, it’s the only one where the first guitar chord makes me smile and before long I can’t not dance ... [2 comments]
· Been going out a bit more than usual; four nights of live music in the last month. The object of the game here is to convince a few more of you to get off the sofa and go hear people play. The entertainment was Big Sugar, Patricia Barber, Muse and a carol sing. Each was magic ... [2 comments]
The Wrath of Heaven
· May it afflict intermittent left-channel outages, and an audiophile neighbor who lives for operetta, on the gormless enthusiasts who maladjust the audio in the car-share cars so everything sounds like a Bad Hair Band ... [2 comments]
· I just finished reading The Song Machine: Inside the Hit Factory by John Seabrook, which taught me that the big hits being pumped at us via the big divas with the great thighs are mostly the output of a reproducible mechanized process, and the mechanics are Swedes. No, really ... [5 comments]
Girls and Axes
· I’m talking about Rock-&-Roll as sung by charismatic young women accompanied by proficient electric guitar. I dunno if it’s a trend or anything, but I’m hearing a lot of it and I sure like it. Some of the artists are wolves ... [5 comments]
· I use iTunes at home, and otherwise Google Play music, which really isn’t terrible. Since the Net is echoing with screams about Apple’s cloud-music problems, now might be a good time for a few words on the subject ... [3 comments]
“So, …” What?
· Geeks like to prefix sentences, questions and answers both, with “So, …” The comma stands, in speech, either for a pause or for a drawing-out of the “o”. This is so common that it’s exceptional, in my profession, not to do it ... [13 comments]
Jack White Show Notes
· My fifteen-year-old and I attended the August 28, 2014 show at Deer Lake Park in Burnaby, a suburb of Vancouver. It’s a terrific venue; a big lawn with a nicely-steep slope so you can see over the mosh pit. If you’re not a Jack White fan you can stop reading, but if you are, this is a tour you should catch. My notes on the event, in no particular order, with better pictures than I can take: ...
· I was sitting up late; family asleep and work over, scanning around. The New Yorker feed threw up Jake Bugg: From Nottingham to Malibu. He sounded interesting on paper and, hey, the article was full of YouTube links and what with the ChromeCast, I was listening and watching right there and then. Yeah, Jake’s good, I’d go see him if he came to town. You may never have heard of him but I guarantee you’ve heard Lightning Bolt. Synthesis? The Internet is one great big fat culture pump, don’t you forget it. [1 comment]
The Kids and Miles
· It was my turn to do the dishes and I needed a little extra energy, so I cued up Spanish Key from Bitches Brew. The 7-year old was table-clearing, the 14-year-old drying, and after a bit they were both bopping along with Miles and the band ... [2 comments]
· Currently listening to: Departure and Farewell by Hem; there was a plug in the New Yorker with a nice video sample so I checked out the site and there was the album for sale, lossless format, fair price; why wouldn’t I just buy it instantly? ... [3 comments]
Round Silver Things
· “Compact Discs”, remember them? I got one for Christmas, and you know, they’re not a terrible idea ... [2 comments]
· As an engineer and Internet guy, I feel almost guilty about the fact that I like listening to LPs so much; the technologies used to record the music and play it back should be obsolete. But I do ... [12 comments]
Cirque Does MJ
· The full name of Cirque du Soleil’s new show is Michael Jackson Immortal; Google took me and somewhere between ten and twenty thousand other employees off to see it last week in Oakland. You weren’t supposed to have “real” cameras, but here’s one my point-and-shoot managed ... [1 comment]
Photos of Wata of Boris
· I can’t remember how I first heard Boris, but I fell in love right away. They’re from Japan and play very loud, very deep, very beautiful music; some of it on Tuesday evening in Vancouver, and I was there ... [7 comments]
· All the geeks know about it, but not many civilians; in the Blues room this evening, we ended up talking about Web-server stuff and NodeJS. The idea is powerful; one symptom of which is, I keep thinking about ways to make it better.
[Update: It’s now US-only. Can’t play any more.] ... [10 comments]
· Nearly two years ago, I finished migrating ten thousand songs’ worth of CDs into bits; but the racks-full of disks have continued to occupy living-room space. So we bought some sleeves and storage boxes at Staples and have started the process, on an occasional evening, of packing them away ... [16 comments]
Playing Music Better
· Back in 2009 I migrated my digital music off CDs. The music lives on a Mac Pro and I play it through iTunes, digital out via USB to a high-end audio system. I’ve become unhappy with the setup. The biggest problem is iTunes, which I’ve come to loathe; but that’s not all ... [49 comments]
· On the last day of 2010 we drove 976km from Calgary to Vancouver. Along the way we stopped in Golden, BC for coffee and muffins at Bacchus Books & Cafe, which I totally recommend if you’re there, and it’s got me thinking about the future (if any) of physical-media retail ... [9 comments]
LPs For Sale
· Eighty-three, to be precise, most containing superb music ... [5 comments]
· I own too much stuff and have begun to hate my possessions. I love a few things still, notably not including any computer technology, some of which can be admired for a brief period before it is superseded, and I enjoy helping that process along. The things I love include a few pictures, some books, but mostly hand-made artifacts that produce music: chief among these would be my cello (although that relationship has become complex), my djembé, and my record player. I know it’s a “record player” because I bought it from the man at recordplayer.com; please follow that link before moving on ... [20 comments]
· I rented It Might Get Loud, a 2009 music documentary featuring Jimmy Page (born 1944), The Edge (1961), and Jack White (1975). If you know who these people are and think you might like it, you almost certainly will. I have one really important piece of advice for those who are going to watch it ... [5 comments]
21mm Fight Dance
· I had two ten-year-old boys with me; they said “Fight dancing!” Really it was Capoeira, somewhere between a martial art and dance form, invented by African slaves in Brazil. There are a couple of stories but let’s start with the picture ... [2 comments]
Into the Dark
· I read Tuesday’s story of the joint suicide of Joan and Edward Downes. I’m sure this story touched many hearts, whatever we think of the ethical issues. Early this morning I was driving the kids around and they played a tune I’d never heard called I’ll Follow You Into the Dark. It’s a lovely song — at once melodious, witty, and sad — and it comes from exactly the same place as the story of the Downes’ death. This week there’s an extra chance it’ll tug at your heart as it did mine ... [8 comments]
· Consider three different rooms you’ve never visited ... [26 comments]
Mass Music Migration
· In the living room are just under a thousand compact disks, assembled lovingly over the course of twenty-five years. My CD player, an excellent but 15-year-old Linn Karik, is getting erratic. At this point in history, buying a new CD player doesn’t seem to make sense. It’s time to move it all online ... [69 comments]
The School Concert
· Our son is attending Grade Four in a specialized program that includes a compulsory String Instruments class, thus he’s been struggling to master a screechy little violin since September. It’s a public school; by some budgetary jiggery-pokery they manage to retain the services of a nearly-full-time Strings teacher. Last Thursday night was the Christmas Concert featuring the fourth and fifth graders, and we had no idea what to expect ... [6 comments]
· Of the Lost Souls I mean. It was so much fun it shouldn’t be legal. This post is here so I can post a funny picture of myself and meditate, once again, on the profusion of digital recordings of, well, everything ...
· Gosh, Bo Diddley’s gone. Which instantly reaffirmed one Internet lesson: if you want to boost the popularity of your YouTube videos, die. My two favorites (via Twitter today): Mona, with Tom Petty (listen to Bo’s guitar) and then this ancient B&W TV shoot with a young Bo and lots of screaming Sixties girls. But man, I love that rhythm, and lots of other people have played it well ... [7 comments]
Rock & Roll Dishes
· The dishwasher’s on the fritz, scheduled for a fix Tuesday. So our eight-year-old’s duties have expanded from table-clearing to include dish-drying. He whines, but doesn’t get much sympathy. This evening, I put on R.E.M.’s Fables of the Reconstruction, turned way up, to help. What a great record that is, even after all these years. I explained to the boy that rock & roll is very helpful for getting dishes done. He was doubtful, but bopping a bit on Can’t Get There From Here. [5 comments]
Patricia in Chicago
· I had business in Chicago early last week, and managed to spend a musical evening with Patricia Barber; this is not hard to arrange there, and I recommend it ... [3 comments]
Rock & Roll
· I don’t drive around town that much, but when I do, I like to listen to the radio, and what I mostly like to listen to is rock & roll. Being a certified old fart, over the years I’d spent quite a bit of time with classic-rock station, but gimme a break, there’s only so much time in the world you wanna listen to Pink Floyd and AC/DC. So of late I’ve been finding the radio parked on CFOX (“The Fox rocks!”) and you know, it’s a not-half-bad rock station. I don’t recognize ¾ of the music they play, which is perfectly appropriate, but I like at least ⅓, which is not bad at all for anything that hasn’t passed through the filter of decades ... [2 comments]
· I was leafing through the morning paper looking for coverage of the Led Zep concert, and there were surprises along the way ... [8 comments]
· Why is it, I wonder, that in every rental car on the planet, both the bass and treble settings on the radio are cranked to the max. This may be optimal for Early Nineties Norwegian Death Metal, and also possibly Balalaika and Bassoon Ensemble compilations, but it makes most normal music sound like a box of nails bouncing down a large heating duct. [7 comments]
Subscribing to Music
· Like a whole lot of people who care about music and the Net, I read the recent Times Magazine piece The Music Man, about how Rick Rubin is trying to save a big piece of the Music-Biz-That-Was, in part by (gasp!) increasing product quality. He also talks about moving from away from a ship-the-disks model to a subscription-based business (this starts about halfway down page 5 of the piece). John Gruber scoffs at the idea. I think they’re both wrong; but that subscriptions will be a big deal ... [15 comments]
Tab Sweep — The World
· The tabs build up as fast as I cut ’em down. This sweep is half photo-stuff, but I also have Second-Life humor, an Art-Rock conundrum, and what happens when you can’t write any more ... [7 comments]
Tab Sweep (Non-Tech)
· With notes this week on hippies, raconteurs, the M8 controversy, and a dead Russian ... [10 comments]
· I often listen to the radio as I sit up in the evening after everyone else has gone to bed. By radio I mean CBC Radio 2, which used to be called CBC FM. They’re famous for classical, but for some time now have had a decent jazz program, After Hours, starting at ten. No longer. A couple of nights I turned it on and now it’s The Signal - With Laurie Brown. I was hopelessly smitten with Laurie Brown many years ago when she was simultaneously the hottest and smartest VJ on MuchMusic (Canada’s MTV), and this during those fifteen Eighties minutes when videos mattered. In any case, The Signal is promising; it’s doing contemporary music without much concern for genres. But you know, it could lighten up a bit; that first night, there was some Björk and some interesting guitar noise and then something called (I’m not making this up) Completely Embraced by the Beauty of Emptiness. Eventually I had no choice but to turn off the radio and put on some ZZ Top. But then I listened again Thursday and they played Dharma at Big Sur, a 2003 work by John Adams that I’d never heard, and hey, it’s great, going to have to get it. Check out Radio 2, they’re online, although I can’t get it to play on Camino, grumph. [2 comments]
Music and DRM
· While I was tied up, Mr. Jobs stirred the intellectual-property business pot. Even after three days of discussion, there are things worth saying ... [7 comments]
The iPod shuffle
· I’d never owned an iPod, but recently picked up one of the new shuffles (the lower-case version of the name seems to be official). It’s an awfully appealing little product ... [13 comments]
· I’m having trouble, this dingy Friday afternoon, with episodic random defocusing. I don’t listen to music when there’s a chance of serious work happening; right now I’m tuned into Radio Delíro, whose front page says Radio Déliro, basée sur les préférences musicales de Roland Moreno, est animée et programmée par Sylvain Robert. I’ve never heard of either of M. Moreno or M. Robert, but I sure like the music they pick. It’s deliciously eclectic, which in practice means ridiculously corny sometimes; but in a good way. Just now they were playing the Don Friedman Trio performing You Must Believe in Spring, which is appropriate given what’s going on outside. [3 comments]
Portobello West Colours
· What happened was, I was listening to the podcast from CBC radio 3 and there was this great track from something called Lola Dutronic (@ MySpace); I emailed the distributor and all the record stores they sent me to were sold out, but he said they’d have a stand at Vancouver’s new-ish Portobello West market, so I dropped by and they were sold out there too, but I totally recommend the market. There were some deeply cool clothes and other oddments; I bought some candles and just avoided a couple of shirts. And also captured some serious colour with the camera ...
· The concert calendar this fall features Paul Simon, the Rolling Stones, and the Who; is it 1968 again? I’ve seen ’em all and don’t feel much of an urge to go back. But then I thought of our seven-year old son, and about Roger Angell, who writes beautifully for The New Yorker, often about baseball; he was born in 1920 and has told about being taken, as a boy, by his dad to see Babe Ruth play. This feels like a direct living bridge to another epoch. So I’m wondering if maybe I should scalp a couple of tickets so that when my little guy is an old man he can wow ’em with stories of having seen the Who or whoever. On which subject, I was driving around the other day and they played a couple of songs from Who’s Next. Anyone of my age has that music permanently imprinted of course, but it’d been quite a while, and all these decades later, what stands out for me on those cuts is the astounding, volcanic drumming. Nobody has ever sounded like Keith Moon before or since; he played like two men with three heads and six arms. In reviews of the latest Who tour, they say that Zak Starkey (Ringo’s son) is channeling Keith remarkably, and that Townsend seems to be interested in his guitar again. Many years ago, last time I saw the Who, when they were singing Listening to you, I get the music the stage went dark and the lights all turned on the audience. Impossible not to be moved. [1 comment]
· In Canada and the US, the first Monday in September is a holiday (“Labour Day”) and then the kids start school on Tuesday. This year, we spent the long weekend at camp. It was entirely traditional and very good. Herewith nature shots and campfire tales, some musical ...
· “This town was named after a minor Dostoyevsky character...” is the beginning. The Landscape — Marfa, Texas Pt. 1 is by David Byrne and it’s really a must-read, ranging through landscape and music and boundaries of various kinds. By the way, Mr. Byrne needs an Atom feed; recently something changed and in my newsreader, his pieces are full of raw HTML markup and sans images.
· David Byrne posted Heavy Theater in his (excellent) blog, which led me to Heady Metal in the New York Times, which led me to Southern Lord. Look: either you like an endless twisting torrent of uncompromising guitar roar for its own sake, or you don’t. I do. When I feel like this kind of thing, historically I’ve turned to Washing Machine by Sonic Youth, or Arc by Neil Young. But there are people who love and live and breathe this stuff all the time. I ended up buying two albums by Boris; check out Intro, from Akuma No Uta on Southern Lord’s “Listen” page. And I think to myself: What a wonderful world...
A Good Anger
· I was driving the kid to work this morning, muttering the usual imprecations as I switched from one rock-music station to the next looking for actual music instead of yapping morning-show morons, and Yow! Here was a howling guitar and a keening voice singing about the stinking war and vowing to never kill again and the false faces on TV and that was just perfect, if radio doesn’t have a place for anger-with-a-backbeat well it’s not worth listening to. And you can listen to Neil Young’s Living With War today for free (although it seems like the server is kind of dogging it).
Sanity up North
· I’m talking about the Canadian Music Creators Coalition, which includes quite a few of our better-known pop musicians (disappointingly, quite a few of them are missing, too), and whose manifesto includes refreshingly-sane statements like “Suing Our Fans is Destructive and Hypocritical” and “Digital Locks are Risky and Counterproductive”. Exactly. Let’s see some more names on that list.
· Been too busy, hardly watched any regular-season games, so all the teams are more or less new to me. I’m really enjoying the TNT coverage of the Lakers and Suns; can’t see the Lakers getting out of this series even though they’re (just) holding on to a Game 2 lead. Of the teams I’ve seen, my money would be on the Suns. Anyhow, TNT is being fairly free with their camera angles, using the floor-level shot to particularly good effect. And—goodness gracious me—is that a Phil Glass soundtrack on the Tylenol ad?!? The mind boggles. What next... John Cage for Nyquil? Cecil Taylor for Pepsi?
Sebastian and Fred
· That would be J. Sebastian Bach and Frederick II Hohenzollern (AKA the Great) of Prussia, who famously met in 1747. The King proposed a Royal Theme and asked Bach to extemporize fugally; Bach did so on the spot, somewhat, and a few weeks later sent Frederick The Musical Offering. This episode appeared at the beginning of Gödel, Escher, Bach, and now finds itself at the center of another book: Evening in the Palace of Reason by James R. Gaines, of whom I’d never previously heard. It’s pretty good; read on for some remarks on the book, Frederick, Sebastian, and the Offering ...
Rain and Silence and Reggaetón
· If it lasts through Sunday, Vancouver (and Seattle just down the road) will break a 1953 record for continuous rainy days. Recently there’s not much rattling around inside asking to be written and I partly blame all those clouds and, weirdly, the fact that it’s been weeks since I saw anything that I wanted to take a picture of. I have this great big queue of interesting Web stuff to write about, but you know, if I don’t someone else will and if they don’t it probably didn’t need writing. The Web’s like that. But today I was driving up 101 heading for SFO and didn’t like what KFOG was playing and hit Seek and listened to half an hour of La Kalle which plays Reggaetón, and the DJs veer back and forth between Spanish and English three times in the average hyperenthusiastic sentence. The music’s complicatedly trying to be Latino-sentimental and hip-hop-tough and reggae-happy all at once, which leaves gaps it occasionally falls into, but more of it is good than bad, and a couple of times it had me hoppin’ back and forth on my butt in the driver’s seat. When I stopped to gas up the rental the song they were playing was too good to turn off so I cranked that sucker and entertained the whole gas station while I did my bit for the Saudi economy. A young dude in a good blue suit and haircut gassing his rental raised an eyebrow at the grey-bearded gringo honkey gettin’ down. As if I cared.
· I couple of years back I wrote about the advantages of using iTunes or XMMS to soak up Ambient Internet Brain Goo. These last couple of days I’ve been learning how to partition the disks and install multiple operating systems, some of ’em pretty bleeding-edge, on my Ultra 20, which involves quite a bit of waiting and irritation. I owe my continued sanity to HBR1; as far as I’m concerned they’ve got the best brain goo going.
· Since I don’t commute, I’m not really in the target market for podcasting. In fact, I only listen to one consistently: CBC Radio 3. It’s an hour a week of Canadian pop music from people I’ve usually never heard of, and most of it’s really good, and hey, it’s my tax dollars paying for this; but that’s OK, the rest of the world can listen too.
Podcasting and Patricia
· I got a nice email this afternoon from PatriciaBarber.com, letting me know that there’s a new concert DVD for sale, and inviting me to drop by the A/V section for a sampler. So I did, and you might want to also, the video’s good and there are some pretty nice audio tracks there for download. I’ve written about Ms Barber before, I’m a real admirer. So, here’s a gifted artist out there in the Long Tail with a moderate but devoted fan base, here’s this hot new podcasting thing running up headlines everywhere... am I the only one wanting to connect the dots? Right now I buy all of Ms Barber’s disks, which I think is less than one a year on average; so given record-company economics, she’s making maybe $10/year net from me. Would I sign up for a bi-weekly podcast for a couple bucks a month, recent live performances and so on? In a flash! She could double or triple her takings from this typical fan, and the costs of staging the stuff wouldn’t be that much. Yeah, there’d be piracy, but a Long Tail performer like this might even welcome it, because a certain number of illicit-recording recipients are going to become devoted fans and want to sign up; what I believe they call “marketing”. What am I missing?
· I’m so sad ♪ I’m so sad ♪ I’m sad, I’m sad, I’m sad; that I missed the Cream reunion concerts in the Royal Albert Hall; a 37-year hiatus is nothing to sneeze at. Actually, if I’d known about it, I might have gone nuts and bought a plane ticket and figured out a way to get in. Herewith some remarks on Rock & Roll Importance, and my Dad ...
LimeWire & Chansonniers Perdus
· For the Français-challenged, the last words sort of mean “missing singers” but a chansonnier isn’t just a singer, it’s a French male pop singer in a particular romantic kind of old-fashioned style. Anyhow, they’re still missing, despite the best efforts of some really remarkable software; oh, and there’s a P2P vs. RIAA angle too. [Updated: found one out of two.] ...
On the Badness of Classic-Rock Radio
· Most classic-rock stations are pretty lame; formulaic, trashy, yappy, dumb. I have developed a deterministic method for measuring this badness, and it has to do with Pink Floyd’s execrable The Wall. Radio stations that never play it are almost always quite good; ones that play it a lot are the scrapings from the bottom of the barrel. The correlation is, in my experience, pretty well infallible.
· I was poking around the iTunes radio stations looking for something a little more stimulating than the usual brain goo, and gave “Magnatune Renaissance and Baroque” a try. It’s awfully good music, with the regular interruptions by the musicians plugging their recordings only mildly irritating. And the interruptions worked, convincing me to visit Magnatune online, whose motto is: We’re a record label. But we’re not evil. It looks like a pretty compelling idea, and their music (the Renaissance/Baroque subset anyhow) is pretty sweet. Check it out.
· Wired is running a short interview with Neil Young which I read because I’m fond of his music; and if you’ve never seen Neil perform live you ought to make the effort, there are ups and downs but the ups are way up. Anyhow, I think this is a must-read for anyone who cares about Media and Radio and Music and The Net and all those other capitalized words. Mr. Young obviously Gets It, big time. I’m now off to spend some time at his new multimedia project, Greendale.
Two Hours of Pure Pleasure
· I know I’ve done this before, but last night I sat up and listened once again to Little Steven’s Underground Garage and you know, it’s just so unreasonably good that I can’t resist another plug. It is erudite, scholarly, funny and it ROCKS; what’s not to like? Last night’s show was enitled Soupy, Elvis, and Maynard (Elvis’ birthday on the 8th) and it was an end-to-end blast. You can listen to ’em on the website, but to get a flavor, check out last night’s set list; in particular the Elvis’-birthday section. Little Steven made a special request last night; that everyone who cares go out and buy Iggy Pop’s latest, Skull Ring. I’m going to.
· I had a couple of fine Rock & roll experiences in the last couple of days. Herewith a pointer to a good radio show by Little Steven and recording by Jimmie Vaughan; plus an attempt to formalize this backbeat thang ...
Ambient Internet Brain Goo
· Anyone who isn’t running Apple’s iTunes is missing a chance to improve their quality of life (or is on Linux). Although I feel another flame over iTunes’ egregiously broken Web addressing coming on, this post is just an expression of wonder. I had iTunes quite a while before I opened up the “Radio” part of the menu, and here’s all these radio stations broadcasting nice no-charge music, many of them ad-free and in fact narrative-free. I am totally baffled by the business model, setting up one of these things must involve some nontrivial investment. For during dinner and when company’s over, I tend to select one of the “ambient” stations and let the sweet-sounding slow-moving audio cotton candy fill in the sonic gaps. Go back a few years and survey the prognosticators; I can’t remember anyone ever having predicted free endless ambient brain goo being a plausible use of the Global Information Superhighway. There you go. [Update: Kiran Jonnalagadda writes to tell me that the iTunes radio stations are the same as those you get at shoutcast.com, so WinAmputees and penguinistas using XMMS can already get ’em.]
· Doc Searls’ The Continuing Death of Radio as Usual is definitely worth reading. I’ll buy most of what he says, but I still think there is plenty of beautiful music on the radio. That plus some advice on how best to enjoy it ...
Sam, Elvis, Memphis, Hard Work
· Sam Phillips died this week. The water of pop culture we all swim in would taste noticeably different were it not for Sam’s work. But he’s most remembered, obviously, for the tracks he cut with Elvis Presley in 1954-55. Herewith a few remarks on Elvis’ music, Memphis tourism, and the sweaty end of the business ...
On Apple's Music Store
· Business-wise, it seems pretty sound. I'll pay 99¢ a pop for tunes if they stay out of my face about how I use them. This has to be seen as good news, and evidence that Apple is a little smarter than your average computer company. Herewith some pros and cons of this (I think) important new offering. (Updated 4/29 with comments on pricing and Web Architecture.) ...
· At this moment in history, the most beautiful female voice in the world is probably that of Emma Kirkby, an Englishwoman who specializes in early music. Herein some fannish remarks and a stolen picture ...
Unsuspected Parallels, Part 79
· I was thinking J.S. Bach's Fifth Brandenberg Concerto has a lot in common with Neil Young's Change Your Mind, in their shameless (and very enjoyable) displays of virtuosity for its own sake ...
Johnny Cash - American IV
· All the reviewers have been hot on Johnny Cash's apparently-still-in-progress set of "American" recordings, which if a jazz singer did them would be called "standards". So I picked up up #IV in the series at Christmas 2002 and it's got its hooks into me pretty deep ...
Cold Tea Blues
· I was listening the other day in the car to the Cowboy Junkies' Pale Sun, Crescent Moon, which is a really underappreciated classic. Underappreciated enough that I hadn't put it on in years ...
Where to Listen to Music?
· I am a certified (perhaps even certifiable) audiophile, one end of our big living room is full of audio gear with names most people won't recognize but other certifiables will: Linn, SimAudio, Totem, Magnum Dynalab, and Simon Yorke Designs (dig the URL on that last one). Some nights, the quality of the sound is almost frighteningly good. But I think I often enjoy music more in the car ...
Nick Hornby on Riffs for the Aged
· Nick Hornby wrote High Fidelity, an awfully good and amusing (and very male-viewpoint) novel from which they made a movie that I've not seen. The people in the book have lives centred around rock&roll, and Hornby was revealed as an erudite and thoughtful writer on the subject. Frank Zappa opined that rock critics were people who can't write writing for people who can't read about people who can't play, but he was wrong. Now Hornby has ventured out again ...
Slava ... and Keef
· This evening I caught a performance by Mstslav Rostropovich ("Slava") with the Vancouver Symphony. Rostropovich is celebrating his 75th birthday with a big world tour. He is definitely one of the major living legends and it's a privilege to sit in a room and have him play music for you. I was reminded of nothing so much as going to a Stones concert a few years ago ...
Listening to Stax-Volt
· Recently I've been listening quite a bit to The Complete Stax/Volt Singles (released in 1991 as Atlantic 7 82218-2), a 10-CD set from the the label that billed itself in the sixties as "Soulsville USA" and made a lot of money and a lot of good music. The music is wonderful but maybe just a bit too thin ...
· (From a letter to a friend who attended the famous Hendrix "Band of Gypsies" New Years' Eve concert.) ...
By Tim Bray.
The opinions expressed here
are my own, and no other party
necessarily agrees with them.
A full disclosure of my
professional interests is
on the author page.