My "Best" of the 80's

A few days ago an online friend presented his list of "the best albums of the 80's", It was a very good list and we were often in agreement. I decided that I would make my own list, which I would post on the message boards. I finally got around to it so I'd like to share it here with my loyal reader(s).

No doubt I have neglected to include a few of the best...I didn't do any research. These were only the ones I could think of at the time I wrote 'em down. Furthermore, I realize that these lists are by necessity incomplete, since there's no way anyone could have listened to all the albums that came out in any decade. They can only be lists of favorites, and so these are the best ones that I heard from 1980-1989.

And now, in no particular order, here ya go...

```Psychedelic Furs.,."Talk Talk Talk"
```Psychedelic Furs..."Forever Now"
```U2... "The Unforgettable Fire"
```U2..."The Joshua Tree"
```R.E.M...."Chronic Town"
```R.E.M...."Fables of the Reconstruction"
```R.E.M...."Lifes Rich Pageant"
```Dire Straits..."Brothers in Arms"
```Bruce Springsteen..."Nebraska"
```Bruce Springsteen..."Tunnel of Love"
```Joy Division..."Closer"
```New Order..."Power, Corruption and Lies"
```New Order..."Low Life"
```New Order..."Substance"
```Husker Du..."New Day Rising"
```Husker Du..."Zen Arcade"
```Husker Du..."Warehouse: Songs and Stories"
```The Connells..."Boylan Heights"
```Snatches of Pink..."Dead Men"
```Snatches of Pink..."Send in the Clowns"
```Let's Active..."Cypress"
```Dumptruck..."For the Country"
```Wire..."A Bell is a Cup (Until it is Struck)"
```Ministry..."The Land of Rape and Honey"
```Skinny Puppy..."Cleanse, Fold & Manipulate"
```Sonic Youth..."Daydream Nation"
```Peter Gabriel..."So"
```Peter Gabriel..."Us"
```Fleetwood Mac..."Mirage"
```The Residents..."The Residents' Commercial Album"
```Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds..."Tender Prey"
```Cocteau Twins..."Treasure"
```Cocteau Twins..."The Pink Opaque"
```Cocteau Twins..."Blue Bell Knoll"
```The Smiths..."The Smiths"
```The Smiths..."Meat is Murder"
```The Smiths...The Queen is Dead"
```The Smiths..."Louder than Bombs"
```Rolling Stones..."Tattoo You"
```Grateful Dead..."Reckoning"
```Grateful Dead..."Dead Set"
```Brian Eno & David Byrne..."My Life in the Bush of Ghosts"
```Talking Heads..."Remain in Light"
```The Pretenders..."The Pretenders"
```The Pretenders..."Predenders II"
```The Clash..."Sandinista"
```Elvis Costello..."Get Happy!"
```Michael Hedges..."Aerial Boundaries"
```William Ackerman..."Passage"
```William Ackerman..."Past Light"
```Bruce Hornsby..."The Way it Is"
```Bruce Hornsby..."Scenes from the Southside"
```King Crimson..."Discipline"
```King Crimson..."Beat"
```King Crimson..."Three of a Perfect Pair"
```John Lennon..."Double Fantasy"
```Meat Puppets..."Meat Puppets"
```Meat Puppets..."Meat Puppets II"
```Mike Oldfield..."QE2"
```Mike Oldfield..."Five Miles Out"
```Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers..."Hard Promises"
```Tom Petty..."Full Moon Fever"
```Public Image Ltd...."Second Edition"
```Public Image Ltd...."The Flowers of Romance"
```Public Image Ltd...."Album"
```Pink Floyd..."The Final Cut"
```X..."Los Angeles"
```X..."Wild Gift"
```X..."Under the Big Black Sun"
```This Mortal Coil..."Filigree and Shadow"
```Howard Devoto..."Jerky Versions of the Dream"
```Renaldo & the Loaf..."Songs for Swinging Larvae"
```Dead Kennedys..."Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables"
```The Sugarcubes..."Life's Too Good"
```The Sugarcubes..."Here Today, Tomorrow, Next Week"
```Rush..."Permanent Waves"
```Rush..."Moving Pictures"
```Guadalcanal Diary..."Jamboree"

"All The Girls I've Loved Before (okay, not ALL of them, just 15)"

If you've kept up with this blog over the past couple of months you may have noticed posts celebrating a few of the many women who have shared my life. Some stuck around for awhile and others moved on in a matter of days (hours, even). Each one, I assure you, left their own unique, indelible mark upon my heart, especially the ones I can remember.

And there have been many. Many. Many. An almost countless bevy of wonderful hotties who found pleasure in my company, in my sexual prowess and in my bottomless supply of drugs. But, as a legendary music pioneer, with desires common to all men, it's expected of me to "reel 'em in", as it were. I'm a hero to many young boys and they need a role model who can demonstrate how easy it is to manage multiple relationships. I mean, my own childhood hero was Mick Jagger and I always stood in awe of the sheer number of gals who passed through his motel room door, into his bed, then back out to the lobby, just as often smiling as crying.

Mick has settled down now, as all great men must do, so the gauntlet has been passed to me. I alone must bear this burden of being a jukebox hero to a nation of young rockers, all of whom expect great things from me. Decadent things.

Luckily my career as a star in the music industry has provided me with more than enough experience with which I am qualified to lead these young whippersnappers into a life of greed, despair, disease, corruption and addiction. "Follow me!" is my beckoning call, "Take up your guitars, put on your spandex pants, take a swig of Jack Daniels and let's get this motherfucker ROLLIN'!!!"

And if you need any encouragement, my libidinous disciples, read on...

Of all the girls I've loved before, Julianne is the one that I adored the most. Sure, she could be a real brat sometimes, but such behaviour is often a necessary by-product of trying to satisfy a rock and roll hero. I lost track of her in 2001. Her departure broke my spirit and sent me reeling into an abyss of depression. Julianne, wherever you are, I can only hope that you know how much you meant to me.
Jeanna came along in late 2001 and tried her very best to help me overcome the tragedy of losing Julianne. She was successful for the most part. But there were times when she consciously tried to piss me off. On most of these occasions she achieved her goal. No matter, she made up for it by being an excellent cook.
One of the most uninhibited women I've ever had the pleasure to know, Ann was up for just about anything...including the members of my band. At first this troubled me but eventually I got over it. I figured it was just Annie being Annie. Unfortunately by the time I DID get get over it Annie had run away with our drummer. As much as I cared for Annie, I think I was more upset about having to find another drummer than with her hasty exit.
I couldn't even begin to describe my feelings for Jacqueline. So I won't try. I will say that she was the biggest Stones fan I've ever known. Many was the time we were locked in a passionate embrace, pure lust flowing through our bodies like electricity. Two or three times this awesome, intense love-making was brought to a screeching halt as she screamed "MICK!" Eventually I got used to it.
I met Kristara on a visit to Japan when my band, Tiny Tove, was on tour and stopped off for a little R & R (and I don't mean "rock and roll"). An Asian beauty, she showed me the ways of the Orient. She also stirred up a nice sweet and sour sauce that brought me to my knees begging for more. She thought Tiny Tove was a silly name for a band and we fought over it for almost the entirety of our short relationship.
The band's Econoline van had broken down next to a souvenir shop by the Grand Canyon. Christy (at least that's the name she gave me) drug a huge tool box from a back room in the store. She then proceeded to fix our van. I didn't have any sort of relationship with her (unfortunately), but I will forever be grateful to her for the mechanic work. She thought Tiny Tove was a stupid name for a band, too.
These days I look back on the good times I had with Victoria and I think to myself, 'Damn but you had some good times with that gal'. And it's true. All the time I spent with her was good. There were no bad times, only good times. She had a way of taking a bad day and turning it into a good day. It was all good...except that her personal hygiene was considerably less than good. But you know what? Not only did I get used to it (I mean, just LOOK at her!), I actually began to like it. Until she left, at which point I demanded a higher standard of cleanliness in my lovers.
Okay, I'll admit it. Lysa was probably not what many of you gents would consider "hot", especially when compared to the brick shithouses I usually go for. But I've got a few words for all the haters out there. FUCK YOU! What do you bastards know about true beauty anyway? Just because you don't stand a chance in hell of hooking up with the kind of dolls who fall for me doesn't give you the right to take out your well-earned frustration on my Lysa. No matter what you say, she's an angel, and she's good in the sack, too.
Okay, so Tiny Tove may well be a stupid band name. Kim did everything in her power to try and get us to change it. She tried to persuade our keyboard player. She tried to persuade our bassist. She tried to persuade our lead guitarist and rhythm guitarist at the same time. She even tried to persuade our recently recruited drummer. It's probably a good thing we didn't have a horn section...regardless, by the time she tried to persuade me I had already decided to change the name anyway. Of course I didn't tell her so she had little trouble persuading me.
Sleek and sexy, Marilyn was one of the first foxes to approach me after a show and ask for her money back. I laughed and said, "What a joker you are!"...To which she replied, "I'm serious. Give me my money."..."Surely we can work this out, baby", I said, "Howzabout you come with me to the van and I'll show you why they call me 'Big Jim'"..."Who calls you Big Jim?" she asked..."The sound man."..."Give me money back."
Loni, Loni, Loni...I call out your name once every 6 months. I scream it at the top of my lungs in a voice that betrays the agony and pain that you left, like festering sores, on my psyche when you walked out on me. The scars on my body that you put there with a dull-edged knife hurt like a motherfucker as well. No, they have not healed, as I am in the habit of scratching them periodically. But my love for you was real, despite what I said about your asshole father and your skanky-ho mom.
What a happy girl Darlene was. Such a bundle of joy. She had a way of making everyone happy. If you were down in the dumps, all you had to do was talk to Darlene for a little while. If you were still miserable after an hour with her, well you had your own damn self to blame, because this girl had what it took to cheer up even the most grumpy son-of-a-bitch. She always had a smile on her face...until my cruelty wiped it off forever. Her whole world came crashing in not too long after we began dating, as I subtly manipulated her mind with false promises and brought tears to her eyes as, one by one, I broke them.
What is it they used to say? Candie's dandy but liquor's quicker? Oh, yeah, that's true. There was nothing "quick" about Candie. In fact, she often walked away from our bedroom unsatisfied because I, in fact, did share too much in common with booze. She may have been frustrated but she never let on. It was strange, though, how she always went on long walks after making love. Just as baffling were all the charges on our cell phone bill to our newly recruited drummer. As you may have guessed, it was not long until we were once again in the market for a drummer, and on a more personal level, I was in the market for a new girlfriend, too.
Bridgette actually liked the name Tiny Tove, and even better, she professed a strong distaste for drummers. She'd heard of us from a friend who attended a Tiny Tove show in a small backwater town. Her friend had enjoyed our 19 minute rendition of "Free Bird" so much that she told Bridgette all about us. Bridgett proceeded to seek us out, and me in particular. By the time she caught up with us we had already changed the band's name to Blind Society. She tried many, many times to persuade me into changing it back to Tiny Tove. I never gave in, so 8 months later she said, "Fuck it, Jimbo. I give up. I'm outta here!"
I don't usually have a penchant for older women because...well...because in general they don't seem to have much of a penchant for me. That all changed the night Veronica came knocking on the van door. I was alone, observing my usual drug imbibing ritual while the other guys in the band knocked one off before last call. Veronica walked in on me just as I finished tying a tourniquet around my arm. Startled, I looked up at her, thinking that the jig was up, I'd been busted, and by one foxy mama as well. "Here", she said, "Let me help you with that"...She knew what she was doing as she plunged the needle into my arm, and she was even more skilled at the ways of booty-knocking. it was all fine and good until she began to scream Mick Jagger's name while we were getting it on. She hung around for four more days, and each evening she called out the name of a different Stone. And all this time I'd thought Jacqueline was the Stones' biggest fan...


It's FARRAH!...Not.

I know what you're thinking. Probably the same thing I was thinking when I first saw this edition of High Society on the newsstands.

FARRAH FAWCETT!!!...actually, she was still known as Farrah Fawcett-Majors at the time (the late 70's), but what's in a name, right? It was Farrah-fucking-Fawcett-fucking-Majors, and on the cover of a trashy magazine like High Society, no less! And what's this? A naked breast poking out of that famous swimsuit? Closer inspection reveals that, yes indeed, it is exactly what it appears to be.

Unfortunately the same could not be said of the model. Not that the sneaky bastards at High Society were being honest about it. Read the text next to "Farrah": "GUESS WHO? (Hint: She's an Angel---Only Pink)".

A closer observation of the photograph reveals, much to my disappointment and dismay, that not only is she NOT an Angel...she's NOT Farrah, either. It could be nothing more than a cruel joke perpetrated by publisher Gloria Leonard and her cronies at the magazine, a prank designed to break the hearts of countless teenage boys for whom the magazine, despite it classification as "adult material", was actually marketed to. The more you look at this woman (on the cover and in the pictorial inside), you have to ask how you ever thought it was her in the first place. The model bears only a passing resemblance to Mrs. Fawcett-Majors...perhaps the illusion was enhanced by the swimsuit and the pose, straight from the poster that hung in so many bedrooms.

But you know what? When you're a teenager with a copy of High Society in your hands, and there's a woman who looks like Farrah Fawcett on the cover...she might as well BE Farrah Fawcett. For all intents and purposes, she IS Farrah Fawcett. :)

Out of respect for the look-alike, I will say this. Having seen Farrah's nude shots in Playboy and comparing them to what I remember of the High Society model, I gotta say, in this case the copy surpassed the original. Sorry, Farrah.



If you know who she is, then you probably know why I love her.

If you don't know who she is, it's just as well.

Mike Oldfield: "Heaven's Open"

"Heaven's Open" has always been frowned upon by critics and it is likely held in no higher regard by his long-time fans. I have followed his career with great interest since his first release, "Tubular Bells", in the early 70's to the present. His oeuvre leading up to "Heaven's Open" was consistently excellent with the exception of a couple of albums (the wretched "Earth Moving" and the tentative "Discovery"). Otherwise there was enough good material on each album to pick up the slack for the rest. "Crises", for instance, has a couple of songs that I think are substandard ("Foreign Affair", "Shadow on the Wall"), but the majority are quite good. The vast majority of them are solid from start to finish.

Not so "Heaven's Open". I really want to like it, because it is the first release on which Mike sings all of the lead vocals. But the fact remains...it is not only a terrible record, it may even be his worst (though I am more inclined to award that accolade to "Earth Moving"). As bad as it is, "Heaven's Open" does offer a couple of decent tracks.

"No Dream" is a dark, foreboding song that shows proof of Oldfield's considerably expressive voice. By the sound of things, the dream that he speaks of is not a good one, and the waking reality is even worse.

The other worthy song here is the title track, "Heaven's Open", which, to my ears, sounds like something that could have been written around the time of "Five Miles Out". The vocals are well done, riding on melodies that are catchy and inventive. The arrangement is outstanding, the guitar solo soaring and unmistakably Oldfield, signed and sealed with his signature sound. Like "No Dream", "Heaven's Open" has fine lyrics. It's a shame that the same can't be said for the other three here (that's not counting "Music from the Balcony", which sucks despite not having words).

A sad harbinger of things to come, the opener here, "Make Make" sounds like he's taken a snatch of "Tubular Bells" and transformed it into a bland 80's-era pop song. Some would say that Mike has pilfered "TB" on many occasions, that this is just another one of many. This is a valid point...Oldfield has been known to plagiarize his most famous work, reconstructing them with various degrees of success. "Make Make" is one of those instances where the formula does not work at all. "Mona Lisa you can stop searching/Don't you know we're not Virgin", he sings, as if the line makes the slightest bit of sense. The "Virgin" part is probably a reference to the record label he'd been recording for since his first album. "Heaven's Open" was Oldfield's final album with Virgin and he was reportedly disappointed with them for expecting him to churn out more hits like "Family Man". Which does not explain what that has to do with the Mona Lisa, but perhaps it does shed some light on the creative laziness that bogs this whole album down.

"Mr. Shame" follows "No Dream" as the third track here. It's a generic affair with awkward chord changes and more silly lyrics..."Are you a victim of that Money Bug?"..."I am calling your name Mr. Shame/There is no doubt/You need to find out about the river (of love)"...

Even if the other songs refer to Virgin out of sheer coincidence (highly unlikely) there seems to be no other way to interpret the miserable "Gimme Back" than as than as the plea of an artist who feels as if he's being controlled, creatively stunted and basically owned by the powers-that-be. Apparently they're into him pretty deep: "I need my hands/I need my feet/Gimme my soul/I'm incomplete", he sings over a choppy, less-than-authentic reggae beat, "I need my eyes/I want my teeth/Gimme my scope/Give me my beliefs"... Damn, Mike, it's a record company, it's not as if you sold your soul to the devil.

The most disappointing thing about this album is the final track, a sweeping 20 minute opus called "Music from the Balcony". The long form instrumental composition is usually Mike Oldfield's strong point. Earlier epics such as "Crises", "The Wind Chimes" and "Taurus" are cases in point, not to mention his first four albums. I had high hopes that ths lengthy piece would redeem the dreck, but where "Ommadawn" or "Incantations" successfully draw the listener in and offer structure and substance to maintain interest and enjoyment, "Music from the Balcony" comes off as a well-made recording of a guy who just bought a synthesizer fiddling around with all the cool sounds...It's like he's reeling 'em off in no particular order. The song itself, however, is so disjointed that even if the sounds were particularly interesting (which they're not) it would still be little more than one vast, convoluted mess. To be fair, there are a couple of interesting passages in the mirk. They are repeated at different points in the song as if they're supposed to be some kind of thread that unites the mess. But it's useless. I've tried to get myself into a state-of-mind that might derive a modicum of enjoyment from "Music from the Balcony". Maybe it's meant to be some kind of musical abstraction, I'd try to deceive myself, maybe it's meant to be avante garde. But neither of those approaches seem to work. It all comes back down to just how bland and uninteresting it is.

As such, I can only believe that "Music from the Balcony" (and "Heaven's Open" in general) is nothing more than a final "fuck you" to Virgin records. F You can tell the man is pissed off, but instead of rebelling like you'd expect a rock musician to do, he gave them 5 songs that sound exactly like what they expected from him. And the only slightly original track on the record is such a clusterfuck that it's a wonder anyone can sit through even half of it.

"Oh, you really stuck it up their asses with those songs, didn't ya, Mike?"...I doubt very seriously that he made much of an impression, positively or negatively, on his former bosses. After all, it was nothing more than a contractual obligation album. Maybe he felt as if that made it okay to hand in such a piece of shit, but it doesn't say much for how he might have regarded his fanbase at the time.

The day after I wrote this I listened to one of Mike Oldfield's more recent albums. "The Millenium Bell" was his celebration of the turn of the century. Stuffed to the gills with choral singing that sounds out of place and the usual sub-standard lyrics, this pretentious work usurps both "Heaven's Open" and "Earth Moving" as Oldfield' absolute worst album, no small feat (though I hear from reliable sources that his last album is even worse...inconceivable). Y'now, I've had this CD for about 5 years, and I only listened to it once, when I first got it. I had forgotten why I never listened to it again. Maybe I kept it back so I'd have something fresh to hear when I was in the mood for Oldfield but didn't feel like listening to his other albums, which I know pretty well . But no, I realized soon enough that I never listened to it again because...well...it's not WORTH a second spin. Sad but true, and I hate it, because I honestly love the bulk of Mike's output. But integrity demands that I speak the truth as I see it, and the fact is that "The Millenium Bell" is a turd.

I only gave "Tubular Bells 3" one or two listens when I got it several years ago...Now I'm kind of afraid to hear it again...


"My Friend Cory"

Cory Daniels

"Yes, I get by with a little help from my friends." That's what Ringo said all those years ago. Then again, Ringo never had a friend like Cory Daniels.

I called Cory a friend through thick and thin for ten solid years, even when his actions seemed to suggest that he didn't share the sentiment. Our mutual admiration for the works of Stephen King may have been the only glue that held us together for so long. Personally, I thought the world of him...was I naive to believe that he felt the same way?

As I said, we'd been hanging together for quite some time, so I was more than disappointed when, after I'd moved out of our shared apartment to a nearby city, he stopped returning my phone calls. He never followed up on the numerous messages I left on his answering machine. It seemed as if he was never at home when I called. I'd get a busy signal, then I'd call back five minutes later...and get that goddamn answering machine with his stupid outgoing message. It was pretty obvious that he was screening his calls but I never got through the net.

After several months of this losing game of phone tag I decided to try and see the man in person. Maybe I could find out what the problem was by confronting him in person. Hopefully I could ascertain where the blame lay and possibly patch things up a bit.

I picked a Saturday afternoon for my endeavour, knowing the Cory would most likely be home around then. Having lived with him for so long I had a fairly good idea of his usual schedule.

Pulling up to the curb in front of the apartment, I was glad to see his car in the driveway. As I approached the door I could hear a television droning inside, the raucous sounds of a Dallas Cowboys football game. I felt sure that I'd caught him at home.

I knocked on the door and waited...

...and waited...

I knocked again...

...and waited some more.

I knocked harder---I was beginning to get pissed off, certain that he was in there, that he was deliberately refusing to open the door. I could still hear the football game playing out on the TV. It made me think of all the games we watched together, with him cheering those stupid Cowboys, understanding the intricacies of the game. I knew next to nothing about the game. I was only there because I enjoyed his company.

The more I thought about this, the madder I became. Anger swelled within me and rage shook me to my foundations. 'The bastard!', I thought, giving in to my dark side. I kicked the door in, determined to face that motherfucker down.

The first thing I noticed when the door hit the ground and I stepped into the house was a pungent odor. It was a foul, foul stench. Maybe he had left a couple of steaks out of the refrigerator for the last couple of days.

The apartment itself had changed very little since I'd vacated it. Cory had rearranged his furniture in such a way that it filled in the spaces that mine had previously occupied. But for the most part not much else had changed.

He wasn't in the front room.

Nor was he in the kitchen, the bathroom or his bedroom. The only other place he might have been would be my old bedroom. But why? What could he be doing in there?

I walked towards my old resting place, hoping to find Cory and wondering to what extent he had re-decorated it. Was the waterbed still there? The stack of girlie magazines I had left behind with it? Had he torn down the Dorothy Stratton poster that I hung on the wall when I first moved in? 'Why did I leave those things behind?' I thought, and it rankled me.

When I opened the door the rotten meat smell became even more powerful and a rush of flies, appetites sated, made a hasty escape from the putrid room. There were so many of them, I was temporarily blinded as they swarmed into my face on their way to greener pastures.

When the last of the flies had cleared away I saw, in a far corner, a pile of seven or eight human bodies, some decapitated, all decomposing, lying in a huge, gooey pool of blood.

On the wall there was a painting, the same crimson as the spilled gore, of an upside-down pentagram. An altar had been haphazardly constructed on the other side of the room. A few ancient looking books were stacked on a small shelf behind, sharing space with several wax candles that appeared to have been burned to the wick...I noted with some degree of disappointment that none of the tomes came from my cache of titty mags, which were nowhere to be found.

But the one thing that spooked me beyond reason was the goat. Curled up, resting peacefully, just an ordinary run-of-the-mill goat who just happened to be in a room filled with human carcasses and a bevy of tools used in satanic rituals.

The animal had heard me enter the room and was clumsily getting to his feet. The clatter of his hooves on the hardwood floor made it difficult, but he persisted. The sudden movement scared another horde of flies into a renewed burst of activity.

The goat seemed frightened of me.

In horror movies, when a character stumbles into a situation like the one I found myself in, he inevitably seems compelled to investigate further. At this point the audience is saying, or at least thinking, "GET OUT! TURN AROUND! RUN AS FAR AS YOU CAN RIGHT NOW, YOU FOOL!"

In the movies, curiosity always kills the cat. But this was no movie and I ain't no fool.

I looked into the goat's eyes and said, "Hi, Cory." Then I turned around and ran out of that demon's lair in record time.

Once in my car, pulling out of the parking lot with considerable speed, I stole one last look at the old homestead, where, as far as I knew, my best friend of the last ten years had been watching the Dallas Cowboys every weekend and ritually sacrificing human beings during the work week.

The goat was standing in the doorway when I left, as if to see me off.

I appreciated it's concern.

Time to love on Sigur Ros.

It's about that time...I haven't praised Sigur Ros to the high heavens in a few weeks, I would be remiss if I didn't correct the situation.
This time I'm responding to a member of the online community of which I am a citizen. I know him as Melon, and he has long contended that "Se Lest" is the best song on "Takk".

His initial comment:
Hey JAC,
Glosoli is great but Se' Lest takes my breath away every time I hear it. Not too many songs can pull that off.

I understand how the song could take the breath away from any living creature. But here is my response:

I think "Se Lest" is a beautiful song. Especially like the way Jonsi's tape-looped voice that floats throughout. The backing vocals are nice, too. The chorus sounds very symphonic to me, and that's not just because of the string section. The piano, like a music box, is sweet and I love the way the vibraphone takes over and eases the listener into the next section of the song. If there's one thing I don't care for in "Se Lest", it's the oom-pah band at the end, but even that sounds pretty cool when Jonsi's voice comes in...talk about a contrast. I suppose the oom-pah band is thrown in for humor value. At least they don't blow on and on. The fade-out, with the orchestral flourishes, is cool.

"Se Lest" is enchanting, but it's not the best song on the album, IMO. I tend to like the ones that slowly build to a full-on climax, or that do the old soft-loud-soft-loud bit. Not every band can pull that off successfully, but Sigur Ros has always been good at it.

"Glosoli" is probably my favorite track here. So atmospheric...once again, the atmosphere is generated by the multi-tracking of Jonsi's voice, tape loops and backwards masking. He sounds vulnerable, almost fragile, a little boy reaching for heaven, still young enough to believe it's possible. 4 & 1/2 minutes into the song the band crashes in and beneath the swirling, rising chaos, if you listen close, you can hear that boy caught up in all of it, and he sounds like he's arrived at his destination. The last 2 minutes of "Glosoli" is, without a doubt, some of the most exhilerating, spine-tingling music that has ever been recorded.

It took me a while to appreciate "Hoppipolla", because it's just too damn cheery. Beach Boys cheery, if you may. I like the darker landscaped these guys are so good at...not that much of "Takk" is all that "dark", but compared to this song the rest of the album might as well have been Joy Division. I eventually came around to it. Now I enjoy it quite a bit. But I think part of the reason I like it now is because it sets up the next piece, "Meo Blodnasir", which sounds like "Hoppipolla" played backwards with the band using that as a template for a whole new song. Kind of reminds me of the Stone Roses' track "Waterfall", in which they pull off a similar trick coming out of "Elephant Stone".

"Saeglopur" is a perfect example of how Sigur Ros handles the soft-loud-soft-loud approach. Only here it's more like a soft-loud-loud-louder. Then it winds down into feather pillow territory again.

At this point words begin to fail me... I didn't set out to write a song-by-song apologetic, and I don't think I ever have with this album. Because how many times can you say "beautiful" without becoming redundant? And that is the main word that perfectly describes the bulk of "Takk". I suppose these terms could also be used:

Awe inspiring.
Angelic, esoteric.
Innocence screaming.
Stargazing, celestial noise.
Chaotic peace.
Peaceful chaos.
A temporary hiding place for the mind.
An infinite abode for the soul.
The spark of a childhood memory.
The flame of experienced passion.
The merging of the sexes into the negation of gender.
Poetic glossolalia.

Okay, enough of that, before it gets out of hand...oh, wait...it's already out of hand. Oh well, such is the difficulty in trying to convey, through the use of words and language, the brilliance and bliss that is "Takk" (and basically everything else that Sigur Ros has ever recorded). Not too long ago I read a comment about one of their videos on YouTube that said, "Their music pulls at every fibre of my soul." I thought that was the perfect description of the effect they have on me.

And still, I can understand how some people might hate the band. Jonsi's voice may be a turn-off for some, especially those who think a male singer should sing like a man, by God. Or maybe some are of the opinion that a grown man should have the voice of an adult, not one that sounds like an experienced child. It's got to be Jonsi's voice, because the only ones who might fail to appreciate the music alone would have to be heavy metal fanatics who think every other genre is shit or country fans with a similar close minded attitude (nothing against metal or country, I like 'em both, but hey, this is Sigur Ros I'm talkin' 'bout here).

So be it. There are enough of us who love Jonsi and Sigur Ros. It's a given that they will release a new album every now and again. Not counting the debut, "Von", they have put out 3 exceptionally great records. I really don't think they're capable of putting out substandard work.

So, it looks as if I've left off commenting on "Takk" at about the halfway mark. I'll just say that the best songs from that point on are "Milano", "Andvari" and "Svo Hljott".

Can you believe it? Two years after it's release and I'm still raving about it.


It's MEME time again!

That's right, kiddies, it's time for another revealing Q&A from yours truly, the legendary music pioneer. This one's been floating around MySpace, so I don't necessarily feel the need to backtrack it.

Name: J.A. Casey
Birthday: 4/18/62
Birthplace: Oklahoma
Current Location: Oklahoma
Eye Color: green. I think
Hair Color: brown and greying
Height: 6'4"
Right Handed or Left Handed: right
Your Heritage: Irish
The Shoes You Wore Today: None
Your Weakness: Money management
Your Fears: Any and every conceivable way of dying other than in my sleep
Your Perfect Pizza: Just about any pizza is perfect as long is it doesn't include anchovies, Canadian bacon or mushrooms
Goal You Would Like To Achieve This Year: Make it to next year
Your Most Overused Phrase On an instant messenger: I don't use instant messengers
Thoughts First Waking Up: "Here we go again"
Your Best Physical Feature: My gall bladder (or maybe my kidneys)
Your Bedtime: Pretty damn early...earlier as I get older
Your Most Missed Memory: Trick question. How can you miss a memory? A memory that can be missed is no longer a memory, and if it's not a memory then it can not be missed. I don't miss any memories because I remember every one of them, good and bad...or something like that...
Pepsi or Coke: I like 'em both. But probably Pepsi more these days
MacDonalds or Burger King: Burger King, if those are my only choices
Single or Group Dates: A "single" date doesn't sound like much fun
Lipton Ice Tea or Nestea: I can't stand tea
Chocolate or Vanilla: Vanilla
Cappuccino or Coffee: Coffee
Do you Smoke: Hell,no
Do you Swear: Only on my mother's grave...Oh, wait...she's still alive (thank God), I suppose you mean do I cuss? Only when children are in the room. (heh heh)
Do you Sing: When noone is there to hear me, of course I sing.
Do you Shower Daily: A couple of times a day. I have a strong aversion to body odor
Have you Been in Love: Yada Yada Yada...how about an ORIGINAL question?
Do you want to go to College: Yeah, when I'm 70 years old
Do you want to get Married: I did until I got married. ha! Just kidding, dear.
Do you believe in yourself: No, actually I don't. But that has never stopped me from existing.
Do you get Motion Sickness: No.
Do you think you are Attractive: Moreso than the Elephant Man.
Are you a Health Freak: No, I'm a disease freak
Do you get along with your Parents: I'll pass on this one.
Do you like Thunderstorms: Love 'em, until they turn into tornadoes, then they lose their charm
Do you play an Instrument: A few
In the past month have you Drank Alcohol: Rubbing alcohol?
In the past month have you Smoked: no no no no no no no no
In the past month have you been on Drugs: Not in the last month...now if the question had been *6* months the answer might not be the same
In the past month have you gone on a Date: Yeah. Don't tell my wife. (just kidding again, dear!)
In the past month have you gone to a Mall: No money = No mall
In the past month have you eaten a box of Oreos: They don't come in boxes, but I did eat about 1/3 of a package not too long ago
In the past month have you eaten Sushi: I have not eaten sushi in the last 45 years and 4 months, I don't plan on eating it in the next 45 years and 4 months
In the past month have you been on Stage: All the world's a stage...so, no.
In the past month have you been Dumped: Dumped on?
In the past month have you gone Skinny Dipping: No, but I walk around the house naked when there's noone else home, can I get credit for that?
In the past month have you Stolen Anything: No, I gave up thievery several years ago
Ever been Drunk: I'm drunk on the sweet nectar of love and life, 24/7...Wait. that's not true. But seriously, I haven't been drunk in a long time. I really, really don't like vomiting.
Ever been called a Tease: Only when tormenting the dog.
Ever been Beaten up: Can't say that I have, except in the existential sense
Ever Shoplifted: I told you already, I'm retired.
How do you want to Die: Are you threatening me?
What do you want to be when you Grow Up: A toddler
What country would you most like to Visit: That's okay, I'll just stay home.
In a Boy/Girl..
Favourite Eye Color: watermelon seed
Favourite Hair Color: tree trunk
Short or Long Hair: charcoal marijuana
Height: midget magnet
Weight: yesterday's papers
Best Clothing Style: No clothing
Number of Drugs I have taken: tried two or three, stuck with one, none for now
Number of CDs I own: 2000+ (seriously, and since I got XM Satellite Radio I rarely listen to any of them...)
Number of Piercings: 0...used to have 2 in my left ear, but they're gone now, thank God. Earrings on a man are goofy.
Number of Tattoos: Alas, I have not as yet let an amateur artist draw on my body with a hot needle.
Number of things in my Past I Regret: What a stupid question. As if I could count that high?

New Photo Art (8/22/07)

Worked up some photo art yesterday and earlier this morning. I'm pretty happy with it, and I guess that's what matters. But I hope you will enjoy it as well.

South Pole
North Pole
Neon Dagger
Grid 2"
Refuse Curtain
Escape Denied
Wasper Event
American Beauty (Porn Assault)


Fleetwood Mac: "Say You Will"

Lyndsay Buckingham is arguably one of the premier songwriters of the last decade and a half. His work in the 70's with Fleetwood Mac proves that beyond the shadow of a doubt. When he left the Mac and recorded 4 solo albums they may not have garnered the attention and sales of his previous collaboration. Still they were further testimony to his prowess not only as a tunesmith but as a guitarist and producer as well.

Stevie Nicks possesses one of the most recognizable voices in the pop/rock genre. When she and Buckingham joined Fleetwood Mac the band's sound was transformed and a lot of that had to do with Nicks' singing and songwriting. Purists may lament the end of the old Fleetwood Mac sound, but Stevie and Lyndsay put the group on the map, gave it exactly what it needed. If not for them it's hard to say whether or not the band would have ever been the powerhouse it became. And though Buckingham deservedly gets his share of the credit for that, it should be remembered that Nicks' songs always seemed to be the fan favorites..."Rhiannon", "Sara". "Dreams", "Gold Dust Woman", "Gypsy", and on to a very successful solo album, "Bella Donna".

But you knew all that. You may even know the story of how "Say You Will" came about...at least the story that made the rounds at the time of it's release in 2003. It went like this:

Buckingham was of a mind to record a solo album. He had several songs written and some demos recorded. When it came time to lay down the tracks he was in the market for a good drummer and decided to call his old band-mate Mick Fleetwood. At some point during the early sessions the idea was tossed about to bring in the former members of Fleetwood Mac and turn it into a "second reunion" album (since there was no album of original material from the first reunion, the "Dance" tour). Christine McVie was not interested, as she had bowed out gracefully immediately following the last reunion, but her husband John was willing. Most importantly, Stevie Nicks was up for it (further testimony to how integral her role in the band was---if she had not agreed to do it, the project could never have been called a Fleetwood Mac album). The guys managed to get along long enough to finish the record and "Say You Will" was released.

So the question remains...why did Lyndsay opt for a Fleetwood Mac album instead of another solo album?

The cynical would point out that his solo albums weren't exactly selling like hotcakes, even though they generally received excellent reviews (my personal opinion is that they are as good as anything he's done with Fleetwood Mac). Maybe he decided a Mac album would be much more lucrative than a Buckingham solo album (and, of course, he would have been right).

The slightly less cynical would point out, with equal validity, that his new songs, on a Fleetwood Mac album, would get much more exposure than they ever would on a solo album. Everyone wants their music to be heard by the largest possible audience. A new Mac album would accomplish this and might even inspire a few people to check out his solo stuff, if they hadn't already.

On the other side of the coin, it could be exactly as the eternal optimist would point out...maybe they just felt like re-uniting, old friends with much history between them. Perhaps they wanted to see if they could conjure up the same magic that used to come so naturally to them. It's possible that another motive for getting them all in the same room together was as a healing process, a way to work out any old animosities that had strained relationships (especially between Buckingham & Nicks and, in a different way, Nicks & Fleetwood).

Whatever the reason for getting back into the studio together, the end result was the album "Say You Will".

Living up to their classic material of the 70's and 80's could not have been an easy task. Working without Christine McVie took away a certain dynamic that was, some would say, practically integral to their sound. But the main drawback would probably be the minimal songwriting collaboration done for the album. Basically Lyndsay had 9 songs picked out and Stevie came up with 9 songs to do and that was that. AMG is right when it says that the album sounds like a Buckingham solo album and a Stevie Nicks solo album stuck together. I'd go so far as to say that, because Buckingham does so many of the album's chores (guitars, production, arrangement, vocals and backing vocals on Stevie's songs), it comes off as what it was originally planned to be---a Lyndsay Buckingham solo album, with guest vocalist Stevie Nicks. Who knows if that may not have happened had it not been for Nicks' writing contributions along with her recognizable vocal talents. That's not meant to denigrate or take away from McVie's and Fleetwood's importance in the whole thing. They are excellent here, as they have always been a tight rhythm section, one of the best. But there are thousands of tight rhythm sections to be hired for high profile solo projects. If you didn't know it was those two, you would never know it was those two.

None of which tells you anything about the music.

First, and this may be the one thing that most casual fans should know...most of the album just doesn't sound like the Fleetwood Mac of the old days. Maybe that's due to the absence of Christine McVie's mainstream ballads that tempered Lyndsay's increasingly unorthodox songwriting and Stevie's White Witch mysticism. But the real reason may well be the one noone really wants to admit to---it's NOT a Fleetwood Mac album.

It's a very good record, albeit at least 25 minutes too long, but it's Fleetwood Mac in name only.

Which doesn't take away from just how good some of the material is. Lyndsay's guitar prowess is especially remarkable on "Bleed to Love Her" (if anyone knows what that song title is supposed to mean, let me in on the secret), "Red Rover" (the intricate intertwining acoustic guitar lines on this one are really nice), and "Miranda" (which, unlike the other two mentioned here, is one of my least favorites on the album). His guitar solos throughout are incredible, but these three songs (especially "Red Rover") are the ones that really show why he's considered such a great player (by those who know what a great player sounds like, that is).

A couple of his other songs reveal that Buckingham's solo career may be approaching a more eccentric, harder edged sound than what we're used to. "Murrow Turning Over In His Grave" is just...uh...it's just WEIRD. At least it's weird in the context of his earlier work and even of this album. It's enjoyable, especially the multi-tracked vocals on the chorus and the blistering guitar solo towards the end...but the lingering question of why Murrow is turning over in his grave is never explained or answered. Then there's "Come", with the "not quite discreet" sexual connotations of the title. Vibrato-laden guitars are joined by a melody half sung, half whispered, setting a calm yet haunting mood. 1:30 into the song the mood is shattered by the hardest rock stylings I can remember ever having heard from Buckingham, solo or otherwise.

Stevie Nicks sounds damned good here, even if her voice has not quite held up as well as her partner's. This is especially evident in her first song on the album, "Illume". The first minute of this song sounds like it might be a return to form, but the repetitiveness of the music soon reveals a similar repetitiveness in the melody which drags the song down, even though the lyrics are pretty good. Stevie sounds like she's trying too hard on this one, she winds up sounding old.

"Thrown Down", however, restores my faith in Nicks' talent and makes me feel a little guilty for saying that she sounds old. Nothing of the sort here. Great music, but the chorus is what makes this song so remarkable. "Thrown down/Like a barricade/Maybe now he could prove to her/That he could be good for her/That they should be together"...There you go, eh? Stevie finally lets her wishes known to Lyndsay, right? Or maybe she's singing to Mick? Most likely she's not singing to anyone, it's just that this kind of subject matter comes naturally to her. That may well be, but you can bet that the hardcore fans are reading between every line. And there are a lot of similar lines in her songs on "Say You Will" that invite such scrutiny. Indeed, it seems that almost every song she has written for this project contains some allusion to love long lost and the dream of recovering it. You have to wonder if it's all part of a concentrated effort to infuse a certain mystique into the album...after all, it is a reunion album, and could well be their last. Any dirty laundry that needs washing will surely be laundered on this record.

The lovely Ms. Nicks has a few other nice songs on the album, but it's the closing track "Goodbye Baby" that proves she still has what it takes to keep up with Lyndsay's solo career, if she so chooses. She seems to drop her signature vocal style for this one song, or at least she plays it down in deference to a more subtle sound. Lyrically it is the perfect closer for the album, but even more poignant, it comes off like her final farewell to Fleetwood Mac, almost a eulogy to the band. Or maybe the song is some kind of closure for her past relationships with Buckingham and/or Fleetwood. "Goodbye, baby/I hope your heart's not broken/Don't forget me/Yes I was outspoken/You were with me all the time/I'll be with you one day". It's a beautiful, touching song. Hopefully she has, within her, more of the same and that she hasn't completely abandoned hope for a new solo album.

All in all, "Say You Will" has enough good material that it's worth owning, even if it doesn't sound much like Fleetwood Mac. Despite that, even the softcore fans will still find something of value hidden in the 80 minutes of music presented here. It is too long, but that's why there's a "skip" button on your CD player's remote. The true test of any lengthy album like this is how many times you push "repeat track" instead of "skip" and I think Fleetwood Mac's reunion album will pass that test.


My XM Radio Presets

By popular demand, here is the list of my XM radio pre-sets.
Enjoy and be edified.

Preset A

1. XM40 Audio Visions...New age and ambient music are the best kinds for reading and/or relaxing. It's also very helpful in the fight against insomnia. Sometimes I turn this channel on and just let it play all day long, using it as aural wallpaper. Every evening they play "Music from the Hearts of Space". Gotta love the space music.

2. XM70 Real Jazz...Most of the time XM70 plays the good small combo improvisational acoustic jazz. I've been a fan of that type of jazz since my high school days. I'm not real crazy about "The French Quarter", a show that airs on Sunday nights featuring the really, really old dixieland stuff. Nor do I care for the Latin jazz/salsa feature they've been playing ever since the channel that once featured it exclusively went under. Otherwise, Real Jazz is great.

3. XM72 Beyond Jazz...I wouldn't mind if this channel played a little more old school fusion (Fridays they do play a lot of it), but the modern jazz that is their typical fare is enjoyable. My main complaint is that there is entirely too much talk from the DJs. And I can't stand how they've decided to call it MoJa (get it? MOdern JAzz...). That's stupid as fuck.

4. XM40 Deep Tracks...Now here's a channel that should be a lot better than it is. I like the idea of hearing "deep album tracks", songs that haven't been played to death on the radio by artists and bands who have established themselves in the genre. Problem is that they play too many "deep artists", ie. artists whose output has garnered them a small cult following at best. Still, quite often it lives up to my expectations, and there's always the Grateful Dead hour (DT is also the home channel of Bob Dylan's "Theme Time Radio" program, and though I love Dylan, I hate his show).

5. XM42 Liquid Metal...I know, I know...I'm too old to be listening to this extreme metal, death metal, et. al. And yet I find myself irresistably drawn to the machine gun bass drums, the shredding guitars, the pounding bass and the demons-with-indigestion vocals. Best time to listen is weekday evenings when Coolguy is the DJ. Coolguy is the MAN.

6. XM44 Fred...Fred could be a lot better than what it is, as far as my tastes go. They tend to play WAY too much Midnight Oil and Echo & the Bunnymen (and they play The Alarm as if that band had once been "the next big thing"). Every once in a while you'll catch 'em spinning a stream of great stuff, and it's the only place you're ever likely to hear Joy Division on the air.

7. XM47 Top Tracks...I live in a state where the classic rock radio station is predictable and has one of the tightest playlists I've ever heard. Same old shit, day in, day out. It's almost as if they feel obligated to play the Steve Miller Band once an hour because for some reason that Space Cowboy is more popular here than in other markets. What I'm trying to say is that it gets very old hearing the same songs everyday. Top Tracks is what a classic rock channel SHOULD sound like. Familiar but with variety.

8. XM43 XMU...Okay, so I'm rarely in the mood for XMU's brand of indie rock (I like the Verge's take much more), but there have been times when they've played some interesting stuff. Besides, I wanted all of the 4-9 buttons on Preset A to be rock (the other rock channels don't quite cut it, even though there's nothing really wrong with them).

9. XM 52 The Verge...I think I like The Verge better than XMU because the focus is primarily on bands, whereas the latter often veers into what I think of as indie hip-hop, which is fairly popular in those circles, I would imagine, it just isn't my cup o' tea. The Verge plays a lot of the bands that I've heard of or read about but have not actually heard. I like that. Plus, the music is always very good (well, okay, not ALWAYS...but at least 89% of the time).

10. XM150 XM Comedy...Only recently have I begun listening to this channel, which is almost exclusively stand-up comedians doing their routines completely uncensored. For a long time I just didn't care for stand-up, but I've gravitated back to it. Lots of junk that reminds me of why I stopped listening to it all those years ago, but then I'll hear something really funny and I hang around in hopes that there will be more. Besides, I love the sound of people laughing. My own laughter is a precious and rare commodity, so anything I can do to solicit some...


1. XM110 XM Classics...An excellent classical channel. We have a great classical channel here in Oklahoma (KCSC-FM) which I would go so far as to say is every bit as good as XM Classics when it comes to the playlists. But XM Classics has the edge due to the crystal clear fidelity and the absence of filler like "Earth and Sky", "Engines of our Ingenuity" and the worst, "Poem for the Day" (I don't mind reading poetry but I don't like having it read to me).

2. XM113 XM Pops...I don't know why it's called "pops", which always makes me think of Arthur Fiedler. This is basically a classical channel that plays the more familiar pieces. It's not "classical lite" by any means but the hardcore classical snobs are likely listening to XM Classics.

3. XM 112 Vox...Can't say I listen to vocal classical music all that often, but now and then I get the urge. Sometimes I'll get lucky and they'll be playing Gregorian chants or instrumental choral music instead of the countless operas which are the usual fare. Even so, I don't mind opera sometimes. Their station ID tags, though, really get on my nerves. "XM113, Vox", the announcer says, "Classical music has finally found it's voice"...What? FINALLY? Most of this music was written almost 200 years ago and it's FINALLY found it's voice? Oh...now I get it. "Voice" as in "outlet". It still sounds dumb, and it's not as if it's the only place in the world where you can hear opera.

4. XM13 Willie's Place...I think this channel was a lot better when it was called Hank's Place. It just seemed like it played more of the really old country & western than it does now. I don't like to hear new songs on this channel, which they only play because they might sound like the old stuff (but you can always tell the difference by the improved fidelity of the recent material). I like George Strait, but his reign began in the late 70's, so he shouldn't be on here, IMO. Hell, just this afternoon they were playing John Anderson, who is another of my favorite country singers...he just doesn't belong on this channel.

5. XM10 America...Good old country, mainly from the 70's, with the legends and the corny stuff as well (the legends represented by Waylon Jennings, George Jones, Conway Twitty, etc., and the corny including C.W. McCall, Moe Bandy and the like). Haven't listened to it near as much as I used to. For some reason I've been in the mood for New Country lately (which plays on XM16, Highway 16)

6. XM17 US Country...Not quite New Country, but almost. The main fare on this channel is 90's country, veering now and again to the 80's and the early 00's. Yeah, I probably hated this stuff when it was still fresh, but nowadays I find that I quite appreciate it. Love how the songs play with words and the musicianship is astoundingly top notch, even if they are Nashville session players.

7. XM6 60's on 6...A lot of songs I've heard countless times before but then, surprisingly, much that I've never heard, or have not heard in a long, long time. I'll always support this channel after hearing the Dave Clark Five's "Try Too Hard" on it in the middle of a sleepless night remeniscing. The DC5 album that song came from was the first rock and roll album I ever owned. It's been out of print for ages and I honestly thought I'd never hear it again.

8. XM7 70's on 7...The good, the bad and the cheezy. That's 70's music for you. I may not have enjoyed everything this channel plays but, having grown up in that decade, I damn sure recognize most of it. Like the 60's channel, they often surprise me by playing something I thought I'd never hear again (like the original 45rpm single version of Bloodrock's "D.O.A.", which cuts about 4 minutes off of the original, making it a bit less tedious). Kasey Kasem's "American Top 40" airs on the weekends, re-broadcasts of complete shows from the 70's and that's a lot of fun, especially when he's down at the bottom of the countdown and there are all these songs that never made it much further up the charts. Those are the songs I just might not remember, but more often than not I vaguely do, but had rightfully forgotten them.

9. XM8 80's on 8...I admit, I only programmed this one in my presets because it completes the 60's-70's-80's trilogy. Fact is I don't like much of anything they play here. The 80's music I would enjoy is on XM44 Fred. But it does have it's redeeming qualities, namely the 80's version of Kasey Kasem's "American Top 40". Same concept...full shows from the 80's, complete with long distance dedications and all the other things that made the countdown so enjoyable. The best thing about it, though, may be that it is completely commercial free (as it is on the 70's edition, as well). "Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars!"

10. XM124 ABC News and Talk...Weeknights, 8-10PM. MARK LEVIN. That's all you need to know.

Sarah Brightman: "La Luna"

Three words: This album SUCKS! ! !

Brightman has a voice that is thin and warbly, with too much vibrato. Her phrasing is simplistic and cloying. An arrangement of "Scarborough Fair" on the album should have been a clue to how wretched this record is. I really hate that song and it has been covered more times than it deserves. This version doesn't shed any new light on it, on the contrary it proves how aged it has become.

Brightman improves somewhat when she adopts a more operatic approach, as in "Serenade", "How Fair This Place" and "Solo Con Te". Then again, anyone who is familiar with Billie Holiday's definitive version of "Gloomy Sunday" will be very disappointed in her weak rendering (and those who prefer Diamanda Galas' suicide-inducing take will be absolutely sickened).

One song does, however, reveal some originality and beauty in Brightman's singing on this album. "Figlio Perduto" is an amazing rendition of the slow movement in Beethoven's seventh symphony. The vocals in the first 3/4 of this song are multi-tracked counterpoint and reveal a rich compexity, an ethereal loveliness that I'd hoped, when I first listened to "La Luna" might br prevalent througout. But even that song is ruined, IMO, by a traditional choir entering during it's final moments. Nothing against choirs...I'm actually quite fond of them. But Sarah had me transfixed and hypnotized on her own...the choir spoiled the mood, turning it into just another choral piece (albeit with a drum track).

But it was decent enough that I held out a little hope that there might be something similarly enchanting to come. When the next track began, starting off with a dreamy arrangement of what I think is Bach's Air on a G String, I thought maybe, just maybe she might have another sweet, spacy reconstruction of another timeless classical number. Then, just a couple of seconds before the vocal came in, it hit me..."Oh shit...I bet this is going to be a cover of 'A Whiter Shade of Pale'...UGH!" I would have won that bet. Even if I didn't think that Procal Harum should have exclusive rights to that song (which I do), I still contend that Brightman's version takes it to the lowest point it's been since GG Allin's version...

...okay, admittedly, GG Allin never did "A Whiter Shade of Pale"...that was a joke. But I would bet double or nothing that if he had, it would be only marginally worse than Sarah Brightman's wispy, whiney cover.

The rest of the album sounds more or less like an operatic singer trying to make a trip-hop album and not succeeding. Recently I heard Liz Fraser doing "This Love" with Massive Attack. Brightman makes an attempt at it here. Comparison of the two interpretations reveals the root of her problem...

Sarah Brightman has no soul.


Why I go to garage sales.

The last few weeks my wife and I have gone to a lot of garage sales. If you're city folk and you don't know what a garage sale is...basically individuals or families hold garage sales when have stuff they need to get rid of for whatever reason...maybe they're planning on moving and don't want to haul an extra few boxes on the way...maybe they've run out of space to store it...there are usually a lot of clothes offered for sale simply because they don't fit the original owner anymore...lots of reasons people have garage sales (which ostensibly take place in the seller's garage, although these days the term is mutually exchangeable with "yard sale", which naturally takes place in a yard). Because the merchandise is used and generally unwanted by the proprietor and because noone expects much of a profit, the prices are very, very low. Last week I got a Kurt Vonnegut novel foe a nickel.

Books are generally the only thing I look for at garage sales. If we drive by a garage sale and it looks like they probably don't have any books we'll drive on. We never buy clothes at them (I think it's kind of nasty when they try to sell shoes). My wife buys knick knacks and that sort of thing, but for me, it's all about the books. A few weeks ago I bought a box of books for a dollar. Of course all but one book was soaked in water and useless. But the one I wanted, a nice hardback edition of the Koran (in Arabic with English translation), was in very good shape. So I got a good book for a buck and the trouble of throwing away the ruined ones (which really stunk, I must tell you).

But this morning I really hit it big!

The first TEN of the original eleven "Wheel of Time" books by Robert Jordan. I read the first two about 10 years ago but stopped when I couldn't find a copy of the third at the used bookstore I frequented. I thought those two were pretty good and I've been meaning to collect the others.

I snagged 'em all in one fell swoop at a garage sale that was being conducted by a guy who used to be a good friend of mine when we were in school. We always did kinda like the same things (TV shows, movies, music) so I knew when I saw his sale ad in the paper that there would probably be at least a couple of things I might like.

The first thing I saw when I got there were these Jordan books. The first three were in paperback, but the remaining 7 were hardbacks in EXCELLENT shape.

The combined total price of those books, if purchased new, would have been over $200. Even if you were to buy them used, you'd still have to shell out at LEAST a hundred bucks...

I got all ten of them for TEN DOLLARS!!!!!

Can you believe that? Not $50...not $20...just $10.00, NO TAX!!!

And this, my friends, is why my wife and I always hop in the car on Saturday mornings, take the sale ads in the classifieds with us, and go "garage saleing".


Technorati, let's see what you can do...

As required, I'm posting this to claim my blog at Technorati.

Those of you who hoped this post would be a continuation of the string of wildly interesting stuff I'm known for will please ignore it. Go to the archives, my friends, see how this thing has evolved.

Technorati Profile

Boss, Bugaloos and an apology of sorts.

New album, "Magic", in stores October 2, 2007.

Need I say more?


In regards to yesterday's "Madonna's gendercide" post...

As it turned out, the guy who told me about the quote didn't appreciate my little write-up. Of course he is one of those guys who believe that Madonna can do no wrong and gets a bit miffed whenever anyone slags her.

After re-reading it I decided that it does tend to lean towards mean-spiritedness at times. But the overall effect was designed to elicit a chuckle from all of those who can't stand her (myself included). As I told the Madonna disciple, my writing on this blog has taken a less-than-serious turn lately and anyone who has bothered to keep up with it for the last few days will testify to the truth of that statement.

So if I offended anyone with anything I wrote in the last post, I'm sorry.


Talk about a blast from the past! I was 8 years old when The Bugaloos were on TV, flying through the sky with their bugaloo wings and singing happy songs. Had I been a little bit older I would have fallen in love with Joy (played by Caroline Ellis).

Yeah, looking at it now, 37 years later, of course it's pretty goofy. I'm sure 8-year-olds of today will see a similar goofiness in The Doodlebops and The Wiggles when they hit the 45 year mark.

For those of you old enough to remember, there's this, and you can find several other Bugaloos videos on YouTube:


And look...they even have a website!


My inner child is ecstatic right now!