music 

2018.03.21My "80's Tunes" Playlist

Goes all the way to 11

I have a playlist that I add to every now and again with inspiration from Sirius XM. The channels "80's on 8" and "Classic Rewind" have helped me rediscover some really good music... or music that brings back memories, anyway.

My playlist, as of this evening -- in alphabetical order by title:

  • "Cars" by Gary Numan & the Tubeway Army
  • "Don't You (Forget About Me) [Extended]" by Simple Minds
  • "Feel it Again" by Honeymoon Suite
  • "Heavy Metal" by Sammy Hagar
  • "I'm Alright" (Theme from "Caddyshack") by Kenny Loggins
  • "Money for Nothing" by Dire Straits
  • "Monkey" by George Michael
  • "Never Tear Us Apart" by INXS
  • "Naughty Naughty" by John Parr
  • "One Night in Bankok" by Murray Head
  • "Pretty in Pink" by the Psychadelic Furs
  • "There's Only One Way to Rock" by Sammy Hagar
  • "The Reflex" by Duran Duran
  • "You Better Run" by Pat Benatar

I had to kick a couple of bands out of the playlist. Somehow Kid Rock's "Bawitdawba" got in there (released 1998) and I had three selections from Queen on there, too. Don't fret -- I've got a 70's playlist for Queen.



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2017.09.04RIP, Walter Becker

Becker (left) and Fagen (right) of Steely Dan. Image credit: Chris Walter, Getty Images

Very few music acts have stayed with me since boyhood in the 1970s. I'm talking about music I heard on the radio then and stayed with me all these years -- music that brings back memories of my childhood home and life with my parents.

This isn't about age; It's about good memories from days when I really didn't have a care in the world -- exploratory days of growth and budding awareness, when my life was being shaped in part by the FM dial.

I can revisit those days through Becker and Fagen's art. Steely Dan's Aja and Gaucho have been a constant companion for me. Whenever I hear "Hey Nineteen", I am reminded of my parents' stereo system... and of roller skating in the gym of the catholic school on Sunday afternoons. (Not that the song was anywhere close to as innocent as my memories are.)

I'm very saddened to learn of Becker's passing. Thank you, Walter, for your timeless art.



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2017.08.24What I'm Listening To Now

Goes all the way to 11

I was actually scrolling through iTunes and came across a name I hadn't seen in a long time: WINGER.

I have a small collection of cuts of theirs, that I honestly adore. Say what you want about 80's hair bands -- but I always liked Winger for its prog rock. Exhibit A:

  • "M16" (from Winger IV)
  • "Livin' Just to Die" (Winger IV)
  • "On the Inside (New Version) (The Very Best of Winger)
  • "Disappear" (Winger IV)
  • "Come a Little Closer" (Karma)
  • "Generica" (Winger IV)
  • "Seventeen" (Winger)

I first heard Winger on their self-titled release in 1988. Two tracks got a lot of airplay: "Headed for a Heartbreak" and "Seventeen." Only relatively recently did I stumble upon their 2006 release, Winger IV -- a more progressive release, and a real statement album.



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2017.07.06What I'm Listening To Now

Goes all the way to 11

It's been too long since I've posted a simple list of what I'm listening to now. So here we go:

  • Howard Jones. I haven't listened to this guy in a while. Found his "The Very Best Of" album on iTunes and am really glad I did -- I'd forgotten how good "The Prisoner" is. I remember being desperate for radio stations to play it while waiting to strike my stereo's cassette Record and Play buttons like a cobra. The little guitar hook is still catchy.
  • Beck - "Devils Haircut". I heard this on the radio the other night and really liked it. It's got a really dirty electric guitar hook complimented by a very clean 60's accompaniment. Plus all those weird free-association lyrics Beck does. It's got an Ocean's 13 feel, just weirder.
  • Supertramp. I never stray far from the oldies but goodies, I guess. "Bloody Well Right" is my fave of theirs, followed by "The Logical Song." Extra credit: I have one of those Mattel Football games that you can hear on that track.
  • Soundgarden. Started rocking out to "Fell on Black Days", "Blow Up the Outside World" and others with the news of Chris Cornell's passing.
  • Stone Temple Pilots' "All in the Suit that You Wear". And speaking of late artists, I really like Scott Weiland's apprach to this song in particular. STP sounds fantastic on this track. You can find it on their Thank You release from 2003. The whole album is good -- it's a compilation of their earlier must-haves, but this track was a lovely bonus.
  • Ozzy Osbourne - Speak of the Devil. I remember listening to this album in the ninth grade. My friend Dave let me borrow it. I was very much into Ozzy's Blizzard of Ozz and Diary of a Madman. But I couldn't hide my disappointment at hearing live performances of songs I did not recognize -- Ozzy's third release was all Sabbath stuff. Now that I'm older, I have to say I can't lay off "Fairies Wear Boots" and the opening track, "Symptoms of the Universe."


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2017.06.18STYX' The Mission is Launched

Logo for the band STYX on their new album

Apple iTunes pre-orders for STYX' new release, The Mission, were filled a couple of days ago.

I've got some thoughts.

Old and New

Another concept album, this tells the story of a mission to Mars. But the space mission is but one story being told.

The entire album is all about the confluence of old and new -- it's a theme running through both the visual and musical art.

The cover gives one a sense of looking through a porthole on a ship in space; the porthole is at the center of the image and appears bolted to an iron-reinforced surface. Metal and wires are visible around the porthole.

Artwork for The Mission, STYX' new album

The band's logo appears at center. The new logo is a blend of the classic, angular STYX logo with some modern design touches, like severing the base of the "t" and changing the tail of the "y"; the top half of the "x" is no longer distinct from the bottom half of the character.

What's more, take a closer look at the technology surrounding the porthole. There's an elongated silver metal piece there that is unique to the right side. Those of us old enough to have listened to STYX on vinyl might recognize that as an arm of a record player. If you consider the entire image in that context, it's not hard to see the porthole as a platter, and the entire composition makes the argument for old and new.

(P.S. - for good measure, notice the coin floating at lower left -- it doesn't make much sense in the context of a spacecraft, but you can be damn sure that anybody who recognized the record player knows what that coin is for.

Now let's look at how some of the music communicates the theme.

"Overture"

I love what they did with the initial track, "Overture": It announces very clearly that this is STYX -- the STYX you remember from 40 years ago -- through two significant devices: using distinct keyboard sounds that mainstay keyboard sound that were such a huge part of what made them arena rock legends in the late 70's (0:02 to 0:05, and 0:22 to 0:47) and those heavy electric guitar chords (between 1:05 and 1:09), which speak directly to me of The Grand Illusion -- this is GOLD. But the percussion and bass that Todd and Ricky bring are distinctly different -- giving us a great blend of classic STYX with a new, edgier sound: old and new.

"Locomotive"

Perhaps no track speaks more directly to old and new than "Locomotive." The most obvious indicator here is the lyrics (transcription mine):

Locomotive tell me where you are
Now that you've become the distant star
Did you lose your faith where you belonged?
Did you hide from those who you did love?
Have you read the messages I've tried to send?
Will you ever come back home again?

Castles by the sea you made from sand
Hovercrafts and drones you built by hand
Forever fearless, asking why and how
Locomotive just look at you now


No one else on earth has ever been so far
Locomotive tell me where you are
And when that road calls your name
It doesn't matter what's to gain
It's in your blood


Staring up into the starry night
Why that must surely be your light
Locomotive, you're fading into the rising sun
And who am I to say that you're the lucky one?

This song seems all about the difference technology has made in our lives -- and questions whether progress for progress' sake is necessarily beneficial. Perhaps for STYX it was about the examination of whether the media reality of 2017 really make sense for the band who shot through the stars 40 years ago. Could "Locomotive" really be about the band?

The music also tells the story: the song opens with a classic STYX keyboard sound (think of the opening of "Mother Dear"), but it's also played primarily on an accoustic guitar. The band really tells the story from the point of view of someone who feels left in the past, and is evaluating the feats of someone who is forging the future.

Finally, I'll leave you with this thought: the locomotive changed our nation permanently. Though the locomotive seems like antiquated technology by the standards of today, our lives even now are still touched by its invention in improbable ways: the notion of time zones came from the days of rail.

Another Thought on "Radio Silence"

By the way, there's something I missed in my earlier note on "Radio Silence" -- another clever touch: if you listen very closely, you can hear morse code for SOS being played in the background of the track.

There's so much more to this album than I've what I've noted here. STYX has stuck to their concept album playbook and has createed engaging stories told through lyric and through the music, for fans old and new.



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2017.05.19Initial Thoughts on "Radio Silence" from STYX' Upcoming Album

Logo for the band STYX on their new album

STYX released another single from The Mission today.

"Radio Silence" seems very much in the structure and story of "Man in the Wilderness" from The Grand Illusion of 40 years ago. The story of bitter loneliness and perserverance retold in the metaphor of being on a ship in space (transcription mine):

Clear blue skies above
And all I feel is love
In this dream
Sand, water, the earth beneath my feet
I feel complete

I wake in darkness
Remembering the fear
I'm really here
So far away
Lost, helpless
For words I never say
Until this day

The two songs seem so similar in fact, I half-wonder what they would sound like when played at the same time.

It bothers me to use a metaphor like "going the extra mile" to talk about a story set in space, but Styx did a great job of really communicating the story through sound. For example, there is a low noise that runs through the track tha resembles a motor or some kind of electromechanical system -- that really added dimension and drew me further into the story.

Well done!



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2017.05.09Nice Night for a Drive

Lovely night last night for a drive. Caught the last little bit of Zep's "Whole Lotta Love" on the radio; rolled down the windows and told Siri to play that song for me, in anticipation of reliving summer evenings from my youth.

Within moments my radio was blaring "Lotta Love" by Nicolette Larson.

Just wasn't the same. :/



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2017.05.09Re: Taking my Daughter to See STYX

Logo for the band STYX

I've been tardy in following up on the concert.

I'll just start by saying it was a mind-blowing show.

The band was WONDERFUL -- first off, they ROCKED THE HOUSE for over TWO HOURS that night, and played TONS of material -- some of which I honestly never thought I'd hear them play live -- including "Man in the Wilderness" from their 1977 release, The Grand Illusion.

James 'JY' Young, Tommy Shaw and Ricky Phillips jamming together at center stage

Kiddo got to hear all KINDS of music that she's heard me hack to death on my guitar in the basement; now here we were, hearing it and watching it get played LIVE from 30 feet away -- but thanks to some very special people, she got to see part of it (like in the image above) from ONE FOOT AWAY.

We were seated in the second row. First row fans were able to go up to the stage, and nearly all did -- which basically left us front row seating and gorgeous unobstructed views of the band that captured my heart when I was kiddo's age.

Styx puts on one hell of a show!

The best part wasn't even two hours of classic rock bliss.

We met a pair of ladies seated in front of us -- they'd each seen the band play well over 100 times, and have gotten to know the show and the crew fairly well. One of the pair took a real shine to kiddo, and our brief liaison was very richly rewarded. At the intermission, I was instructed to send kiddo up to them at the encore.

Lawrence Gowan, with his back to the audience, playing 'Khedive', which will be on the upcoming album

Those beautuful people made certain my little girl was showered with guitar picks and even the actual set list from the stage. PLUS, she got to meet the band at the front of the stage at the close of the show and was given some VERY, VERY kind words from Tommy, Ricky, and JY. Ricky approached her and pulled her ballcap up so he could see her face; Tommy told her that he saw her rocking out and they absolutely loved it. I simply cannot recount all of the love the band and the "super fans" showed her.

Lawrence is Rockin' the Paradise!

And kiddo was completely overwhelmed by the entire experience -- she was so quiet through the show, I was afraid something was wrong; turned out she was just so blown away and so happy that she couldn't quite process it all! Here I am writing about it a month and a half later and I STILL have tears in my eyes.

Apart from the enormous generosity to kiddo, my favorite part of the evening was Tommy hearing me sing "Man in the Wilderness" from 30 feet away. And I know he heard it, because Tommy told kiddo that he had at the close of the show.

Tommy Shaw making a gorgeous Les Paul sing

Thank you, thank you, a million times thank you to the band for giving me so many more amazing memories to enjoy as I listen -- as we listen -- to your timeless music!



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2017.05.07STYX New Release

Logo for the band STYX on their new album

Styx is releasing their first album in 14 years next month. What makes me happiest about this release is that Lawrence Gowan, a terrific performer who stepped in to replace Dennis DeYoung, played for us a solo piece at the concert that had us mesmerized -- and that piece is on the upcoming album.

The song, titled Khedive, was named by his father after the ship he served upon in WWII.



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2017.03.25Taking my Daughter to See STYX

Logo for the band STYX

Today I find myself thinking a lot about the music that I listen to and our introduction. I can reach as far back as 1978, when my cousins from New York first introduced me to popular music. During this particular visit, my older cousin brought with them a series of albums. And I remember sitting and listening to them with him. He brought I think three albums all from a band named STYX.

During that visit, my cousin told me about the band members. I could see them pictured on the covers of Grand Illusion and Pieces of Eight as I pored over the artwork.

I became fascinated with the band, though I was too young to own any of their records. Perhaps I became so taken with them because my cousin meant so much to me. Perhaps I became so taken with them simply because they were essentially my first exposure to pop music. I don't really know. I was likely 11 years old.

I was so taken with them that I used to practice drawing the band's logo. I drew it a lot. And I mean A LOT.

At some point in 1979 my mom surprised me and my sisters with cassette recorders. These were chunky black and silver machines from General Electric. They were very far cry from the boomboxes later in the became along later in the 80s. These machines were more like units you might use for business dictation or something. Along with the machine my mother gave me a copy of Cornerstone, STYX's 1979 release.

I remember propping the tape up on a shelf and just looking at the artwork on the jacket (I guess that's what it's called; the card that went inside the plastic case).

Somehow, after all the cassette tapes that I played wore out and re-purchased, that single cassette always played like a champ. It is the one tape that I kept at the close of the cassette age (which for me was when I sold my 2001 Ford -- likely one of the last models to still have an in-dash cassette player.)

And I still have that tape.

Today, I'm nearing the top of my 40s. I've listened to a lot of music since 1978. I still have a very special place in my heart for the bands I knew when I was coming of age (no pun intended): STYX is still right at the top.

Today is an extremely special day for me, because tonight is one of the rarest of opportunities: tonight I get to share STYX with my daughter.

She is 11 years old.

To mark the occasion, I purchased VIP package for the show. The package will allow us to sit right up front, and has all kinds of goodies I would have killed for at her age.

I'm picking up the tickets at will call in a little while. This VIP package includes a lot of stuff, but I don't know if backstage passes or an opportunity to meet and greet is included. If there's a way I can upgrade to get that access, I absolutely would. Meeting them would be completely mind blowing to this 11-year-old kid.



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2017.03.09Puttin' On the Ritz

Black and white image of a theater crowd in formal attire

Just heard Taco's "Puttin' On the Ritz." Well, I heard some of it.

Mostly I "heard" this:



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2016.11.08The Girl's Got Rhythm

I have a music playlist for kiddo that she hasn't listened to in a long time. On the list are:

  • What's New, Pussycat? (Tom Jones & Les Reed)
  • Part of Me (Katy Perry)
  • The Fox (What Does the Fox Say?) (Ylvis)
  • Shake It Off (Taylor Swift)

Her musical tastes have... shifted. She's super deep into her old man's classic rock, with some interest in hairband rock. Examples:

  • We Will Rock You (Queen)
  • Highway to Hell (AC/DC)
  • The Final Countdown (Europe)
The other day in the car, she was rocking out so hard to The Final Countdown that I almost burst into laughter. She was having SUCH a great time.

I haz a proud.



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2016.07.02KANSAS Concert!!

It was like being in a time machine.

I was transported back to my bedroom, standing in front of my stereo, rocking out to "Fight Fire with Fire" on my Best of Kansas cassette.

The band completely rocked last night. They played for an hour, plus a little more in their encore -- which of course was closed with "Carry On My Wayward Son".

The band played absolutely masterfully, even welcoming Kerry Livgren to the stage for one song -- I think it was "Dust in the Wind". The band seemed to play a similar set list as was featured in their 2009 release, There's Know Place Like Home -- even including "Belexes" and "Down the Road".



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2014.03.11YOU HAD ONE JOB, SIRI



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2014.02.19RIP Bob Casale

Rest in peace, Devo's Bob Casale.

You're through being cool.



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2014.02.17With a What??

This morning's misheard song lyric wouldn't have been misheard back in the 80's. From Def Leppard: "Living like a lover with a red iPhone"



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2013.12.12Recent Music Purchases

Okay, get this: "Wanted Man" by Ratt -- yeah, I said it -- and even "Tell Me What You Want" by Zebra AND "Screaming in the Night" by Krokus. It was a big week for big hair.

What else? Here's a classic: "Open Invitation" by Santana. I still think this is one of the greatest rock songs ever. Also, a little prog rock: "March of Mephisto" by Kamelot. That one I found on iTunes Radio while hoping to explore James LaBrie's latest release.



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2013.11.07Recent Music Purchases

I haven't bought too much music lately, but here's what I'm into of late:

First, a classic rock tune from the 70's: "So Into You" by Atlanta Rhythm Section.

Next up: rock: "Black Flag" by King's X.

Let's bring the room down for a moment -- Libera's vocal version of Claude Debussy's timeless classic "Claire de Lune", which Libera calls "Luminosa". (Absolutely beautiful. It'll make you cry and you won't know why.)

Now let's pick things back up with the Beastie Boys' "Root Down."

All of this music was discovered -- or rediscovered -- thanks to Sirius XM.



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2013.09.06Lyrics Likely Misheard

And on today's episode of "Lyric Likely Misheard", this, from Boston's "Smokin'":
"Put your hands on your feet \ Don't you know it won't seem right"

(The actual lyrics: "Clap your hands, move your feet \ If you don't you know it won't seem right".)

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2013.07.09More of That 70's Music

This morning on the drive into the office I heard two classics I had to have: "Magic" by Pilot and "Just Remember I Love You" by Firefall.

By the way, a big thumbs down to Shazam for pointing me to the Selena Gomez re-make of "Magic". I guess I thought Shazam was able to distinguish between the original and the remake -- guess not. I bought the Gomez version by accident, thinking Disney had purchased the rights to the original and put it on the Wizards of Waverly Place soundtrack. Nope. It was Gomez' remake of the classic tune. Lesson to me: when in doubt, preview the tune!

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2013.06.12That 70's Music

Taking me back to childhood: "Strawberry Letter 23" by The Brothers Johnson, "The Things We Do for Love" by 10cc, and "Lady" by The Little River Band.

Yeah, I bought those.

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2013.05.06I Thank You

What an eclectic mix of recent purchases: "I Thank You" (ZZ Top), "6 Underground" (Sneaker Pimps), "Victim of Love" (The Eagles); "Suck My Kiss" (Red Hot Chili Peppers), "Guerilla Radio" (Rage Against the Machine); "Gin and Juice" (Snoop); "I Drink Alone", "Who Do You Love?", and "Move It On Over" by George Thorogood.

I sort of bought the Thorogood music as a joke -- for reasons I can't quite explain, the music goes well with the Harley.

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2012.12.31Yet Another Overdue Music Update

SiriusXM's "Classic Rewind" channel got me back in touch with these classics:
  • Asia's "Sole Survivor"
  • Pat Beneatar's "You Better Run"
  • Queen's "Tie Your Mother Down"
  • April Wine (yeah, I said it) "Sign of the Gypsy Queen"
  • The Pretenders - "My City Was Gone"
  • The Police's self-titled album (remastered)
Additionally, I've resumed reading Keith Richards' "Life", and with that, I've been listening to more of the Stones -- As proof, I bought a copy of "Tattoo You". One of the things I like so much about the book is learning the origins of many of the songs Keith and Mick created over the years.

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2012.10.30Yet Another Overdue Music Update

First, I'd like to say that the satellite radio thing is a total win, albeit with the caveat that the station I prefer plays WAY too much Tom Petty.

I've been getting into comics lately -- John Pinette just completely makes me giggle. Before Pinette, I checked out John Garrett. Particularly if you're dieting, Pinette especially is worth a listen.

SiriusXM still plays a big role in keeping things fresh for me. Tracks from J.P. Soars, Heart, The Kinks, David Bowie, Robert Plant, The Psychadelic Furs, Queensrÿche, The Rolling Stones, The Black Keys, and Cage the Elephant were all inspired this way.

Most notable cuts:
  • Queensrÿche's cover of "Almost Cut My Hair"
  • The Black Keys' "Little Black Submarines"
  • David Bowie's "Heroes"


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2012.09.24SiriusXM for the WHAS

A couple of weeks ago I won a satellite radio from SiriusXM. Last weekend I finally got it set up and jacked into the WHAS.

We spent the afternoon listening to Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra as we readied the house for a dinner party -- it was a nice way to get in the mood.

The radio is something I've had in the back of my mind for a while -- it was nice of SiriusXM to make it a reality for me!

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2012.08.05Run to the Bedroom \ In the Suitcase on the Left \...

This weekend I got out my Les Paul and fired up the Marshall.

That felt nice.

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2012.08.04Home Audio Maintenance

Last week we had a technician from a local audio/video company come out to look at our WHAS. The tech basically characterized it as "old" which didn't make me feel happy -- but once he talked to us about a system marketed by Sonos, we began to understand.

Fortunately for us, we can spruce up our existing system by finding and replacing a few control pads. The Sonos system runs over Wi-Fi and streams just about anything from anywhere -- even taps into your iTunes library -- and can be controlled by an iPhone/iPad app.

Sounds pretty sweet -- but I can't justify the expense. Right now I pipe our iTunes collection through by using an iPod as an input. I guess our WHAS is comparatively lame -- but I wouldn't have thought to install one on my own, which makes me treasure the one I have.

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2012.04.16SiriusXM iPhone App Difficult to Navigate, Resource Hog on the iPhone 4S

I thought I'd try out the SiriusXM Internet Radio app last week in the hope of being able to listen to baseball games. I'll be uninstalling the app and discontinuing the trial.

The app is difficult to navigate because the channels aren't organized by channel number, like they are on my car radio. Though I can use categories like "sports" -- and this is helpful -- I can't surf to channel n to catch the game like radio users.

The other thing I noticed was that each day I spent listening to the broadcasts through the app drained my phone's battery to the point where I had to recharge it while I was at the office. Considering I charge my phone up nightly and power it off completely afterwards, there's no excuse for this kind of drain. (In comparison, I can listen to an entire baseball game through the MLB "At Bat" app and notice no significant deviation from normal battery depletion.)

It's a shame, too, because I've really been enjoying the music I've been discovering on Alt Nation. Guess it'll have to remain a treat for while I'm in the car.


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2012.04.16Alternative Music!

I've been having a great time with the music I've been discovering on SiriusXM Alt Nation: MGMT, Freelance Whales, Stornoway, The Airborne Toxic Event, Blur, Coldplay, Jem, LCD Soundsystem, and Neon Trees have all produced music that works really well together on a single playlist.

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2012.02.27This weekend I decided to undo some changes I made to my iTunes library. Thought I'd offer a tip or two for those contemplating similar changes.


To do this, you're going to have to make a new library and basically import in everything you still want from the old library file.

There's some decent documentation available on Apple's iTunes support site for this kind of thing, and on messageboards on this topic. One such tip mentioned exporting playlists from the old library first. I can't emphasize this ENOUGH. The playlists have to be exported one-at-a-time; this can be tedious if you have many lists. They'll export as text files. Recommend you stick them all in a location you can easily find later.

You can create a new library file in iTunes on Windows by holding down the key when you click on the iTunes shortcut. Hold down that key and keep it held down for longer than you think you should have to. Once you create the new library, DON'T GO BACK TO THE OLD LIBRARY FOR ANYTHING. If you do, it'll import junk from your old library file and basically put you right back in the same mess you were trying to get out of. That's why it's important to export those playlists from the old library FIRST.

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2012.02.17Willie Nelson's Voice Has a Magic

I don't understand why I find I'm drawn to his voice. Over the past few years I've fallen in love with two songs he sang on - the first is a tune by Tin Hat Trio (now Tin Hat) called "Willow Weep for Me." The second is "The Scientist", a song I heard only a few days ago on an advertisement for Chipotle. I liked the spot so much I bought a copy of the song. (I think I liked the version in the ad better; it seemed to focus more on Nelson's voice and the acoustic guitar -- but perhaps that's a limitation of listening to it through my television set.)

Nelson has a voice that goes well with a specific kind of song, IMHO -- those with a sad, lonely, downtrodden feel -- not necessarily country or folk in genre, but they seem to work best for the feel Nelson seems to complement so well.

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2011.12.17Finally discovering my CD player

My home features a Niles whole-home audio system. I probably never would have thought to install one, but I'm really glad the previous homeowners did. The system has several inputs for various components, and so a few months ago I bought a 300-disc CD carousel unit. Until yesterday the most I could tell you about it was: it's big; it's bulky; it's black; it's supposed to play 300 discs; it was cheap and it has a PS/2 keyboard input in the the front of it.

After a little quality time yesterday evening, I can say a few more things about it: The keyboard port is GENIUS, and the player has a nice grouping feature which allows you to assign each disc to one of eight groups. Each group can function as a subset of the whole -- you can play through, or select random tracks from, a particular group. From a seasonal perspective, this is awesome, because we can create a group with just holiday music on it and let the CD player play random tracks from just that group through Christmas dinner. That's gonna be pretty sweet.

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2011.12.06Enter SiriusXM

Since I bought the new car I've been enjoying SiriusXM satellite radio -- particularly (and perhaps I should be ashamed about this) "80's on 8", "90's on 9", "Lithium," and a pair of comedy channels. I can thank Sirius for introducing me to The Airborne Toxic Event, Paramore, MGMT, Frank Caliendo, Gary Wright, Amy Winehouse, Coldplay, and Stornoway.

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2011.06.20Hannah is light and airy

This sounds like it should be featured in one of Apple's iPhone ads.

The other night I was in a coffee house when I heard a tune called "Hannah" by the alternative group Freelance Whales. Check this out. It's a wonderfully "summery" song. I find I'm enjoying the previews of other cuts, also from their 2009 album, "Weathervanes".

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2011.06.14Eep! Music Update is Overdue!!

Good grief how time flies when you're having kids. Okay. Recent additions to my music rotation include some classics, just for fun: Tone-Loc's "Funky Cold Medina," Cake's awesome take on "Mahna, Mahna"; Quincy Jones' "Soul Bossa Nova"; Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young's "Ohio"; R.E.M.'s "Its the End of the World As We Know It" (in observance of the Rapture) and, in observance of Andrew Gold's recent passing, his 70's hit Lonely Boy. For those into folk, I highly recommend Ray LaMontagne & The Pariah Dogs' "Beg Steal or Borrow". By the way, if you're much for the comedy of Louis CK, I picked up the audio version of "Chewed Up" (I've had the video for a while) -- and was pleased to find a few bonus tracks on the audio version; "4AM" and "I Like Opium" had me in stitches. Prefer something a little harder? Give Rage Against the Machine's take on Bob Dylan's "Maggie's Farm" a try. Hairband withdrawal? Perhaps Autograph's "Turn Up the Radio" will scratch that itch.

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2011.01.17Music I'd forgotten about!

The other night I went to a local "battle of the coverbands" competition and became inspired to download a few tunes I'd not heard in a while -- "Man in the Box" by Alice in Chains, "My Own Worst Enemy" by Lit, and a very nice cover of Genesis' "Land of Confusion" by Disturbed. I also recently picked up Escala's version of the classic Zep tune "Kashmir", and Louis Prima's "Pennies from Heaven" became a holiday favorite.

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2010.10.27Page One

Steven Page's latest release, Page One, arrived in the mail today. It is FANTASTIC -- I'm particularly excited about "A New Shore." The album shows off Page's diverse and razor-sharp talent.

I ordered Page One directly from Steven's website, and believe I was one of the first one hundred to buy it, which should have entitled me to receive a signed copy. It seems, however, that Rounder Records has shipped unsigned ones to people who qualified for the special copies. Steven announced the problem on his Facebook page yesterday, and apologized for the mishap. I'm looking forward to Rounder Records' resolution to the problem.... perhaps another copy will arrive in the mail soon?

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2010.10.26LaBrie's "Static Impulse" falls short

James LaBrie (of Dream Theater) released Static Impulse this month. It is, to my profound disappointment, very speed metal oriented and lyrically uninspiring. That screamy shit I despised so much on Dream Theater's Black Clouds & Silver Linings appears to have been wholly embraced by LaBrie, who features it right up front on the first track, "One More Time" -- it is heard in advance of LaBrie's stunning vocals. Actually, you have to skip to the fourth track, "Euphoric," before you can get away from it. Respite only lasts through the following track. "I Need You" actually sounded pretty cool until the screaming resumed. Even though "Who You Think I Am" also has it, it's not screaming... it's more like Skeletor is doing backup vocals on the verses. Until the end, that is, when Skeletor lets loose with "I DON'T GIVE A DAMN!"

It's unfair, because the musicians are fantastic, but this album misses the mark for me. I want my money back. Perhaps his response could be summed up in track 8, "I Tried."

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2010.10.16New music: VersaEmerge cover of the Stones, Roy Orbison, Steven Page, and the Violent Femmes

New tracks in the rotation: VersaEmerge's damn good cover of the Rolling Stones' "Paint it Black"; Roy Orbison's "You Got It"; Steven Page's "A New Shore"; and some Violent Femmes: "Blister in the Sun" and "Add it Up."

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2010.10.15Page Blasts BNL over "All in Good Time"

In an article posted on canadaeast.com, Steven Page, co-founder of the Barenaked Ladies, blasted Ed Robertson and the other remaining members of his former band over BNL's latest release, "All in Good Time," and in particular the first track, titled "You Run Away."

"Page took umbrage with the song," the article stated, quoting Page: "[I]t was pretty obvious what [Robertson] was talking about.... I felt like some of (the lyrics weren't) true, but it made for a good song. And for me, for a guy who's worked with him for so long, I felt like they could have done better, frankly.... none of it made me want to go back". Page is later quoted as saying that he's proud of his BNL legacy.

Read the full article

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2010.10.04New music discoveries: Jem, VersaEmerge, Steven Page; Oldies but goodies: James Taylor, Iron Butterfly

I've been collecting "new" music at a snail's pace of late, but thought I'd name off the most current playlist: Steven Page's "Indecision"; Iron Butterfly, "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida"; Curt Smith, "Perfectly... Still"; James Taylor, "Fire and Rain"; VersaEmerge, "Fixed at Zero"; Jem, "Just a Ride." Came up the JT tune as I walked by a Brookstone store in an airport, and VersaEmerge and Jem were playing in a department store last weekend. For reasons I don't entirely understand, all of these songs together just seem to work well in a playlist. Beats me.

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2010.08.23Best of the Hair Bands (well, the ones I could stand, anyway)

A couple of weeks ago I completely lost my mind and started assembling a "Best of the Hair Bands" playlist, inspired by my vintage Shrapnel acquisitions (Greg Howe, Tony MacAlpine). Witness: Def Leppard, Winger, Night Ranger, Ratt, Dio, Guns N' Roses, Mötley Crüe, Rainbow and Whitesnake. And of those, the only ones I actually had to buy was the Crüe's "Dr. Feelgood". I'd purchased the Dio and Rainbow upon the mid-May news of Ronnie James Dio's passing. Most of these I've picked up for kicks here and there. Ratt's "Round and Round" just makes me giggle... and takes me back to 1984. Hmmm... wonder if Fastway belongs? Check out this Wikipedia article on the origin of the movement. By the way, for as much as I make fun of the movement, I have to say that Adrian Vandenburg's solo in Whitesnake's "Still of the Night" is still one of my favorite rock solos of all time.

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2010.08.10Howe II - High Gear (1989)

The Greg Howe CD that I ordered last week arrived today ( "An oldies but goodies extravaganza - plus Greg Howe's latest release", 2010.07.31). It was both neat and weird to hear this music again. As I listened, I could anticipate what the music would do, but didn't entirely remember why. Pretty neat getting reacquainted.

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2010.08.07Curt Smith and Universal Hall Pass: "Perfectly... Still"

Curt Smith of Tears for Fears fame has been working on a new album called Perfectly...Still. Curt is streaming the as-yet-unreleased title track of the new release on his website.

Every bit as interesting as the music is the story behind the new release. Smith is teaming up with artists he meets via social media to create the album. He writes that he's yet to actually meet Melissa Kaplan (Universal Hall Pass) face-to-face. And Kaplan's contributions to the title track lend to its light, ethereal feel.

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2010.07.31An oldies but goodies extravaganza -- plus Greg Howe's latest release

This morning the declutter muse was upon me. Among the things I intended to shift to storage was a container full of cassettes I've had sitting around here. Fortunately along with the muse came the good sense to check iTunes for digital versions of what music still interested me. I didn't find everything I was looking for, but I found a lot: Meat Puppets' "Backwater", The Steve Miller Band's Greatest Hits '74-'78, Terry Lynne Carrington's Real Life Story, Depeche Mode's Music for the Masses, Simple Minds' "Don't You Forget About Me", and even two Jean Michel Jarre releases dating back to the mid-'80's. Oh - a word of caution to the curious. Don't mix Jarre and Depeche Mode. It's a musical equivalent of some kind of drug interaction. Just say NO, kids!

Notable fail-to-finds: (Tony) MacAlpine's Eyes of the World and Greg Howe's High Gear. Not all was loss, though. I did find Sound Proof, Greg Howe's latest release. So far, I like it -- his version of "Tell Me Something Good" is funkolicious, and "Side Note" and "Child's Play" reacquainted me with the sound that impressed me so much in 1989. His "Sunset in El Paso" (played clean, with piano accompaniment) shows the Shrapnel alum has become more versatile and can show a softer side. I'm happy I took the chance on this album.

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2010.07.23Jordan Rudess' "Notes on a Dream"

Jordan Rudess of Dream Theater fame released an album in 2009 that brilliantly showcases some of his contributions to the group's amazing body of work. I picked up "Lifting Shadows Off a Dream," "The Silent Man," and "Another Day." What an amazingly talented pianist.

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2010.05.30Music from "The Hangover": Wolfmother, Danzig, Revolution Mother

Some good music associated with the movie "The Hangover" -- Wolfmother's "The Joker and the Thief", Revolution Mother's "Ride the Sky II", The Donnas' "Take it Off", and -- believe it or not -- I like the dirty quality of Danzig's "Thirteen." There are also some classics on this soundtrack -- "Fever" (a remade version by The Cramps), "It's Now or Never" (remade by El Vez), and "Wedding Bells (Are Breaking Up That Old Gang of Mine)" by Gene Vincent.

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2010.05.10Music from "The Losers": Skunk Anansie, The Kills, Street Sweeper Social Club

Saw "The Losers" this past weekend and didn't mean to enjoy the movie as much as I did. it's a definite DVD buy. When I saw in the credits that a soundtrack was to be released, I did some searching on iTunes... and came up with nothing. According to blogs on the Web, the soundtrack was never released -- but one blogger listed all of the music associated with the film. With that blog's help, I was able to find and download "Tear the Place Up" by Skunk Anansie, "U.R.A. Fever" by The Kills, and "Clap for the Killers" and "The Oath" by Street Sweeper Social Club.

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2010.04.19David Holmes' Ocean's Thirteen

I recently bought a copy of Ocean's 13 ( link to Amazon.com ). I'd seen only part of it before -- ironically, while I was a guest at a hotel. I really enjoyed the music featured in Ocean's 11 (movie: link to Amazon.com music: link to Amazon.com ) -- so thought I'd take a chance on the music from Ocean's 13 ( link to Amazon.com ). Glad I did. David Holmes did a wonderful job with it.

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2010.04.02Brad Smith's 8-bit arrangement of Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon is MADE OF AWESOME

Friends at work and facebook shared this with me a few days ago -- but I didn't get to listen to it until this morning. This is an absolutely AMAZING re-work of the Pink Floyd classic album, Dark Side of the Moon -- done "entirely within the limits of the standard North American NES" (Nindendo Entertainment System). Smith released two .mp3 files - one rendering for each side of the original album. My jaw dropped within the first two minutes of side one. Srsly, check this out on his site. The complete .zip archive is about 55 MB on my NTFS drive.

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2010.03.24Exploring "notably underwhelming" Chickenfoot's "Soap on a Rope"

All Chickenfoot has is the instrumentals ( link to Amazon.com ). 'Cause the lyrics are completely worthless. I remember when Sammy couldn't drive 55; his lyrics were kinda dumb then -- but this is just flat-out banal. I recall hearing a live recording of Hagar doing Van Halen's (and I make the distinction) "Panama"; the band vamped while Hagar spewed profanity to the crowd. And the Alien Surfer Satriani has reduced himself to essentially copying Eddie Van Halen's chops, short of hammer-ons. (So, thank Eddie for Chickenfoot's music.) Still, for as putrid as this is, it's obvious these guys have been in the business long enough to know what sells... apparently, this is it.

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2010.03.23Alice in Chains' "Black Gives Way to Blue"

I was initially excited to see a new Alice in Chains release ( link to Amazon.com ), but thought I'd hold off and read up a bit. After all, I hadn't seen a release from them in YEEEEEEEEEEARS -- the '90s. Wikipedia helped explain why: it confirmed that Jar of Flies was released in 1994, and informed me of the 2002 death of Layne Staley who was half of the haunting and interestingly harmonic vocalists. But I was listening to an alternative station the other night and heard "A Looking In View" off of the new album -- and I liked it quite a bit. The album definitely has that old Alice in Chains sound - but it's a bit smoother vocally; I can't help but think that's the influence of new front man William DuVall.

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2010.03.06I wasn't planning on replacing my amp, but...

Lately I've been having problems with my Marshall JCM-2000 amp. It's been a great amp overall, particularly since I bought it used via eBay. But lately I've been having problems with the signal fading out unexpectedly and not returning. I'm afraid it's something in the amp overheating, but I've no indication that's what's happening apart from the faceplate feeling hot at times. Anyway, I thought I'd wander into Best Buy to see what they have for amps, and I played a Marshall MG series 50DFX and 100DFX ( link to Amazon.com ). Hafta say, I kinda fell in love. I bought the 50DFX at a decent price. It's smaller than the JCM2000, has a headphone/line out jack (which I suspect the couple below me will like), and even a CD-in in the back. Plus it has digital effects built in (thus, the "DFX") which include flanger, chorus, delay, and reverb -- I don't even have to use pedals! Considering all I'm doing now is playing in my apartment, it's a win.

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2010.03.06Latest acquisitions: Steven Page (The Art of Time Ensemble), Coheed and Cambria, Santana, Terence Trent D'Arby, Train, and even Chumbawamba

I saw that Steven Page had released a new album... after some digging, I found he did so in collaboration with an Ontario-based jazz sextet called The Art of Time Ensemble. The release, A Singer Must Die, is... eclectic. The remake of BNL's "Running Out of Ink" seems as if Steven walked on stage during an orchestra performance, and together they did this. "Lion's Teeth" seems a bit like the Maroon album's "Tonight Is the Night I Feel Asleep at the Wheel." "I want you" is very dark, passionate, and more than a little Elfmanesque (as expressed through a jazz sextet). The album definitely explores the Steven's bent for the dark far more overtly than BNL's wonderful irony ever could.

Coheed and Cambria was recommended to me by the guy who sold me the amp this morning. I picked up "Welcome Home" from the album Good Apollo I'm Burning Star IV, Vol 1: From Fear Through the Eyes of Madness ( link to Amazon.com ). I may explore this further.

I picked up the other tunes mostly as a function of hearing them played somewhere and thinking they'd be nice additions: Chumbawamba's "Tubthumping", Train's "Hey, Soul Sister"; Santana's "Oye Como Va"; Terence Trent D'Arby's "Sign Your Name"; and Duran Duran's "Ordinary World" -- I always liked that song in particular for the vocals in the chorus and a sort of a haunting quality the song has in general.

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2010.02.11Tracks from Zombieland

Finally saw the movie Zombieland, starring Woody Harrelson ( link to Amazon.com ). Hafta say, it wasn't what I expected -- or at least, consistent with the impression I was given by the ads I saw. I also picked up a couple of tracks from it -- Salute Your Solution by The Raconteurs, and Kingdom of Rust by Doves.

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2010.02.01How is the Silversun Pickups like a fruit salad?

At the suggestion of a friend, I bought the Silversun Pickups' lastest release, Swoon ( link to Amazon.com ). I'd not heard the band before, and I find I like them. Their sound seems like a mix of the ethereality of The Cranberries with the rock chops of Smashing Pumpkins... does that make them a fruit salad?

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2010.01.24A little counterculture, anyone?

Been revisiting some oldies but goodies lately: The English Beat's "Mirror in the Bathroom" -- which I heard playing in a coffee shop last week -- Devo's "Girl U Want" and "Mr. B's Ballroom" from Freedom of Choice, and Jane's Addiction's "Been Caught Stealing", which I found while surfing iTunes for more fun music.

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2009.10.14The Slew release is a collaboration with former Wolfmother bassist and drummer; album originally music for a documentary

From Vinyl Meltdown: "Not too long ago, Kid Koala and Dymond D were commissioned to create the soundtrack to a documentary. And while the documentary was eventually scrapped, the music lives on, thanks in part to Chris Ross and Myles Heskett (the former Wolfmother rhythm section)." The Wolfmother presence helps explain the album's very bluesy retro sound. I can't stop listening to this -- and it's FREE!

UPDATE: If it's no longer available for free on nufonia.com, the release is commercially available ( link to Amazon.com ).

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2009.10.12The Slew - Thanks JoE!

Friend of mine hosts an alternative rock radio show. The other day he posted a link to a new release by a band called The Slew. Hafta say, I'm diggin' it! Want a copy? The band wants you to have one -- visit their site.

UPDATE (2010.04.20): If it's no longer available for free on nufonia.com, the release is commercially available ( link to Amazon.com ).

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2009.09.29Luce and Peter Gabriel

I was in a restaurant this evening when I heard some music that interested me... but conversation was too loud for me to even try to press Shazam into service. My server was kind enough to retrieve the artist's name and the song title for me: Luce's "Good Day." Also while there I detected Peter Gabriel's "In Your Eyes", and that caused me to spend a little time on iTunes this evening. Hello again, "Sledgehammer", "Don't Give Up", "Steam", "Red Rain", and "Here Comes the Flood" ( link to Amazon.com ).

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2009.08.16Black Clouds & Silver Linings (3 CD Special Edition)

I bought the special edition of Dream Theater's Black Clouds and Silver Linings ( link to Amazon.com ) on iTunes today. Some fan I am -- I had no idea they'd released a new one until I heard part of it in a store today. The thing is, I didn't recognize it as Dream Theater -- I thought for sure it was something by Metallica. The song I heard (either "A Rite of Passage" or "The Shattered Fortress") was unusually dark. That darkness seems present on the five tracks I've heard so far; it's far more metal than previous works. As is typical of DT's later work, some of their latest release builds on music released on previous albums; "The Shattered Fortress" incorporates part of Octavarium's "Panic Attack" ( link to Amazon.com ) and offers another part to "Metropolis - Part II" from their 1999 release, Metropolis Part 2: Scenes from a Memory ( link to Amazon.com ). Unfortunately, DT seems to have reverted somewhat to the method of lyric that I feel plagued their 1999 release. Nearly the entire album felt like the lyricist wrote a story apart from the music, then tried to mash the two together. The story was far too dense, and IMHO failed to make the conversion to lyric. On its latest release, “The Count of Tuscany” suffers in much the same way – the story is far too dense, although some attempt at rhyme is made. Also disappointing is the group’s sudden heavy use of spoken lyric – all done in a very dark, evil tone – you might call it homage to early Metallica. Perhaps the greatest collision of lyric and delivery may be found in movement three of “A Nightmare to Remember”. Fortunately, one does have the opportunity to buy a 3-CD set online through Dream Theater which includes instrumental versions of all of their original work for this album.

UPDATE (2010.04.20): The 3-disc version is now also widely commercially available ( link to Amazon.com ).

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2009.06.26Jeebus, it's been ages since I've done a music update!

Gosh, where to start? Springsteen's Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J. ( link to Amazon.com ), KISS' "Detroit Rock City", Ozzy's "No More Tears", The Beastie Boys' "Sabotage" (Thank the new Star Trek flick for that), U2's "Get On Your Boots" have all been added over the past few months. I also checked out four tracks from Chickenfoot's self-titled initial release ( link to Amazon.com ). The band features Sammy Hagar, Michael Anthony (formerly of Van Halen) and Joe Satriani. I was notably underwhelmed.

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2009.04.11Kenny's Sister FOUND; also, the old made new again: Parliament (!), the Teddybears, and Stretch Princess.

Our cruise friends were able to discover the true identity of the merengue song one of them nick'd "Kenny's Sister" (a horribly Anglicized misinterpretation of a portion of the lyrics). The tune is actually "Abusadora," and it appears to have been recorded by... just about everybody. Also, for reasons I cannot disclose, the Parliament tune "Give Up the Funk" has occasionally gotten itself stuck in my head over the past couple of weeks. The Teddybears' release "Cobrastyle" (featuring Mad Cobra) got into my head thanks to March Madness. Finally, Stretch Princess is a band I found when I first started attending college up here. Thought it might be nice to give their self-titled disc a spin again.

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2009.03.30A peep at the new Barenaked Ladies

The Barenaked Ladies took a trip down to Universal Studios a few weeks ago to perform sans Steven Page. Loyal fans were able to download the show from the band's website this past weekend. The band seemed shaky; front man Ed Robertson seemed to plead the audience to recognize them -- announcing the name in a way I'd never heard in years of seeing them live. The presentation of their present body of work sans Page just came off flat, and Page's absence was particularly obviated by Hearn. I'll also front the assumption -- and I hope I'm wrong -- that Page's arrest damaged the band's reputation so much that Page had no choice but to leave (and by the way, the dig Ed issued on Disney was not lost on me; BNL was scheduled to perform a Disney gig when Page was arrested, and backed out to insulate Disney from the fallout). But I don't blame Robertson, Hearn et. al. for their present circumstance. BNL has always been loved for its mixture of dark lyrics with poppy tunes -- but Page's "Powder Blue", featured in Talk to the Hand: Live from Michigan seemed unusually brooding. You could feel it in the audience the night it was recorded at Pine Knob -- a packed house and lawn FULL of "WTF?!" thought bubbles. In my humble opinion, BNL has to completely reinvent itself in the studio if the band hopes to have a future as a quartet. And I wish the post-Page BNL every success and the very best of luck: I couldn't love them more.

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2009.03.08How's this for eclectic?: The Trashmen, The Reverend Horton Heat, and the Squirrel Nut Zippers!

I recently watched an episode of The Family Guy in which Peter meets Jesus. In that episode, he also rediscovers an old 45 RPM single of The Trashmen's "Surfin' Bird." So I downloaded the cut because the episode was so funny. Also, a friend turned me on to some Jazz, Rockabilly and Skaa in The Squirrel Nut Zippers, The Reverend Horton Heat, and Save Ferris.

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2009.03.04Added a little Elvis and a touch of Earth, Wind & Fire... and "Wonton Tomato" is stuck in my head!

While away on vacation, we heard a few tracks that thought make nice additions: A remix of Elvis' "A Little Less Conversation", Earth Wind & Fire's "September," and -- unusual for me -- Natasha Bedingfield's "These Words." Oh - also listened to salsa and merengue, but I don't have recordings of those. Their horribly anglicized titles might be "Kenny's Sister" and "Wonton Tomato." (The latter in particular haunts my dreams. Thanks, Brian!)

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2009.02.17Added various selections from Michael Bublé, and other classics from Starship, Rare Earth and the J. Geils Band.

New to my catalog: various selections from Michael Bublé -- man has a voice like a river of melted milk chocolate. Also rediscovering some 80's oldies but goldies: Three classics from The J. Geils Band ("Centerfold," "Love Stinks," and "Freeze Frame"), plus Jefferson Starship's "Jane". A bit older: Rare Earth's "I Just Want to Celebrate" and Boz Scaggs' "Lido Shuffle."

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2009.01.29

I've actually been very busy trying to learn Dream Theater's "Home." My goal is to play all 12:53 of it acceptably well. You know, considering I'm not John Petrucci. (Somewhat related: in figuring out Nirvana's "Heart Shaped Box" I learned the value of drop-D tuning.) I picked up a copy of a remastered Foreigner retrospective (No End in Sight: The Very Best of Foreigner) and was shocked at how easy it was to play along with. Harder to tackle: Genesis' "Turn It On Again" and Peter Gabriel's finger-contortive "Down to Earth" (from Wall-E). Recent rediscoveries for pure listening: AC/DC's "Whole Lotta Rosie," And an absolutely "killer" version of Seal's "Crazy" (called "Krazy").

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2008.11.09

Although I've been playing a wider variety of music on my guitar lately, I haven't done much in terms of discovering/rediscovering music of late -- save Beck's "Loser." Although, I read today that Seal and Enya are both releasing new material this coming week. I'll likely pick those up.

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2008.09.17

Recent discoveries: JET's "Are You Gonna Be My Girl", cuts from Winger's IV(are really impressive!)
Recent rediscoveries: Extreme's "Our Father", The Fixx's One Thing Leads to Another.

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2008.06.14

Lately I've gotten into an eclectic mix of classic and alternative: The Rolling Stones' "Gimme Shelter" and Marlena Shaw's "California Soul" both got into my head courtesy of the Discovery Channel; Theory of a Deadman's "So Happy", 10 Years' "Beautiful" and Apocalyptica's "I'm Not Jesus" were introduced via an Internet alternative radio station I found. Others: STP's "Big Bang Baby" and King's X's "I Can't Help It" are rediscovered oldies but goodies.

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2008.05.26

I've (finally) discovered Internet radio broadcasts via iTunes. I'm enjoying 1.FM, "Channel X", an alternative station. Through it I've picked up "So Happy" by Theory of a Deadman, plus a tune I was missing from Stone Temple Pilots.
I backed up my iTunes library purchases today -- five DVDs of content. Holy cow!

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2008.05.07

Music purchases: Two classic Zappa albums (Joe's Garage and Strictly Commercial, plus Styx' "Everything, All the Time" - a new song I read about on their website. The intriguing thing about the song for me is the guitars use a couple of the same chords as are in "Come Sail Away." While that might not sound like such a big deal ("EVERYBODY uses a D chord. WTF?"), it actually is -- because the chord (it's not "D") seems uncommon. Maybe it sticks out because it's played on the same guitar that was used on The Grand Illusion? I can't be sure.

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2008.05.02

Update on the rock trifecta: It now seems that Styx and REO have pulled out of at least the resked GR show. For my part, I paid too much damn money not to see all three bands -- this had better be made right.

From the hobby perspective, I finally visited a local music store last weekend and picked up some sorely needed picks, a new stand, and a music book. I've been playing with a single broken pick for about a year.

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2008.04.19

Styx, Def Leppard and REO Speedwagon were scheduled to perform in Detroit tonight... but alas, it was not meant to be. The show, along with several others in Michigan and across Canada, were cancelled last week as a result of sickness. The lead singer for Def Leppard appearently is recovering from an upper respiratory infection. The Detroit show has been rescheduled for late August. I don't go to many concerts - though over the past few years I've averaged about one per year. But I've never had tickets to a show which was rescheduled. Hope I'll be offered a refund if the new date won't work out.

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2008.03.22

Coming soon: A rare digital copy of Buggles' Adventures in Modern Recording. I've owned this on cassette for years and years, and am amazed I haven't worn it out. Can't wait 'til it arrives!

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2008.03.21

A few new acquisitions to report: The Talking Heads' Little Creatures, Buggles' The Age of Plastic, Zep's Physical Graffiti along with a few other remastered tracks from The Complete Led Zeppelin, and -- believe it or not -- The Beastie Boys' Licensed to Ill, via Zep (The Beastie Boys sample "The Ocean" in one of their tracks). But the crown jewel has to be David Lee Roth's Sonrisa Salvaje -- a rare Spanish language release of Eat 'Em and Smile.

By the way, The Heads' "Television Man" gave me an overwhelming urge to play "Doom." For some reason, the beginning of the track just reminded me of the music from the game; the sound of loading a double-barreled shotgun amid the growls of imps would have sounded right at home.

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2008.01.20

Watched R30... Geddy Lee seems to have aged quite well. Neil Peart just sort of looked mad. Alex Lifeson resembles the actor that DirectTV was using for its Sunday Ticket ads. :-) But that doesn't mean they can't still rock the hizzy. Found an interesting classical album on iTunes from Danny Elfman -- Serenada Schizophrana. I've become convinced that Elfman actually is the Tim Burton of orchestration.

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2008.01.05

Picked up a copy of Rush's R30 DVD the other night. Haven't watched it yet, but I'm looking forward to it.

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2007.12.19

FIRED. Today Alanis got voted off the island. Well, off my iPod, anyway. You know, Jagged Little Pill was pretty groundbreaking music when it was released in 1995. I bought it when it came out (on cassette). But I have to say, Eight Easy Steps is just freaking annoying. It's annoying because what was once angry and raw now just comes off as tortured whining. I'm not saying I was looking for Alanis Morissette to release a happy album full of love and sunshine, but you'd kinda think she'd be over it by 2004. I suppose you have to stick with what you know. And let's face it - the former cast member of You Can't Do That on Television built quite a franchise - and in a hurry! But like those relationships (or that relationship) she apparently never got past, sometimes the healthiest thing is just to let go and move on. Perhaps we can still be friends.

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2007.12.12

Wowwity wow wow wow. Check out Led Zeppelin's Mothership. It's 28 tracks of remastered Zep bliss. After cherry-picking a few tracks to purchase from iTunes, I picked up the ol' Les Paul and hacked along to "Kashmir."

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2007.11.24

Been getting into classic Journey lately (think Infinity, Departure and the like), plus picked up a few other (relative) oldies but goodies: some late 80's Depeche Mode, some tracks from Guns 'n' Roses' Appetite for Destruction, and Pearl Jam 's Ten spring to mind. Also picked up Dream Theater's Systematic Chaos - an awesome new release - and a few tracks from Queensrÿche's new release, Take Cover.

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2007.09.08

I've run into the first situation where a popular music act was not listed in iTunes. I dunno why, but no original AC/DC may be found on the online service. I've looked for it off and on for a while with no luck. Today I happened to recall the fact while at a retail shop, and ended up buying re-releases of For Those About to Rock, Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap and Highway to Hell. Shame, really. Not only did I buy 3 complete CDs when I would have otherwise cherry-picked a couple tracks from each, but the media's going to just sit on a shelf, now that I've ripped them all to my iPod. At the very least, the CDs were in cardboard cases. Although the part that holds the CD in place is still plastic, the entire packaging wasn't all plastic.

At a tailgate today there was a trio of men who hooked a huge stereo up to their car. Thankfully, they played some very good music - including The Kings' "The Beat Goes On/ Switchin' To Glide." I'd forgotten how awesome those songs were. And BTW, I did find them on iTunes.

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2007.09.05

Here's a departure for you: I was listening to NPR a recent weekend morning when I heard a story about the harp guitar. It featured cuts from an album called Beyond Six Strings, released last year. It's a collection of very cool instrumental harp guitar music, I must say. I found it on iTunes.

Other artists and albums I've rediscovered lately: Guns n' Roses, BNL's Maybe You Should Drive, Enya's Shepherd Moons, Seal's 1994 release, and Queensrÿche's Empire.

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2007.06.30

I was reading an article in Smithsonian Magazine about Edward Hopper when I came upon an image of his 1950 "Rooms by the Sea." It immediately reminded me of Bruce Hornsby's Harbor Lights album because this painting is pictured on the cover. I ended up purchasing it and a few other Hornsby tracks. I'd forgotten how good his music is. Like Hopper, Hornsby's art is very "American."

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2007.05.26

Found another hair band in digital: Winger. That got me thinking about guys like Tony MacAlpine. iTunes has some of his music, but not the two albums I had. I've also found myself listening to a fair amount of Rush's Signals release, some classic Yes, and BNL's latest. I've been making long days for my iPod lately to try to drown out ambient noise and help me focus while at work.

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2007.05.16

Been digging on some classic Foghat lately, and Queensrÿche's Empire album from not nearly as far back as Foghat. Also picked up Pearl Jam's Ten on iTunes in order to retire my well-worn cassette of the same. And by the way, a combination of headphones, listening for comprehension, and maturity have led me to conclude that "Slow Ride" is a dirty, dirty song. Just so you know.

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2007.04.23

Picked up Frampton's Fingerprints. I heartily recommend. The whole release is instrumental, and includes a rendition of Soundgarden's "Black Hole Sun." It's definitely worth checking out!

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2007.04.11

I haven't done tons of music shopping of late, but I have picked up a few gems since I last wrote -- including a few select cuts from Billy Squier, Loverboy; Michael Jackson's "Thriller" and -- strap on your roller skates -- The Babys' "Isn't it Time" and Jay Ferguson's "Thunder Island." I also rediscovered the groove in my heart thanks to Dee-Lite and rode the "Love Train" with Wolfmother. Boy, I love Wolfmother's gritty sound. I think I'm going to want to listen to more from them.

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2007.02.21

Spike TV has been running some awesome self-promoting ads that feature James Brown's "It's a Man's, Man's, Man's World." I thought the part of the song they featured was cool enough to justify the purchase of a greatest hits CD. It was. But the interesting thing about the Spike TV ads is they don't really reflect the song itself. Still, seeing a watermelon get peeled like a banana in slow motion is, well, I guess that's cool enough... but the CD is way cooler.

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2007.01.17

A return to campus has inspired some different musical directions... most notably a rare CD version of The Art of Noise's In Visible Silence and exposure to bands like STS9 and Thievery Corporation. Also-rans include some classic Stones, a touch of Ziggy Stardust, some Julian Lennon, Michael Penn, and a liberal dash of the Steve Miller Band. All good stuff.

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2006.12.22

Another banner month in iTunes contributions, I think; largely individual songs ("Rock the Casbah," anyone?) but most notably Roland Orzabal's 2001 release Tomcats Screaming Outside. It's quite a departure from the moody-cum-electically poppy sound many might expect from the Tears for Fears founder. Tomcats is very, very modern. I'd love to hear more from him like this.

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2006.11.26

Although I haven't been as manic about music purchases over the past month, I've made some relatively eclectic additions in the past weeks - featuring everybody from Devo to Talking Heads and from Stevie Wonder to Wang Chung. The best part about it all is that many of the albums were downloaded from iTunes - but weren't available on iTunes a few months ago. I recall contacting iTunes requesting a number of the new acquisitions. This is true of at least Devo's Shout and Wang Chung's Mosaic. Whether their availability was directly related to my requests is anyone's guess, but I'm happy to have them now.

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2006.10.20

I've been an absolute music fiend lately... today I struck again while cleaning out my Amazon wish list. I commonly post inexpensive items such as CD's and books on a wish list on Amazon for family members who ask for gift ideas. Anyway, I went through the list today to update it today and found a few of the items I'd posted previously were available on iTunes, so salutations to Aldo Nova's one-hit wonder "Fantasy", David Lee Roth's Skyscraper, Wang Chung's To Live and Die in L.A., and selected tracks from Queen's A Kind of Magic; welcome aboard the digital abyss that is my iPod. Ooh - extra credit: I've a Sinatra compilation CD coming too (via eBay; it cost more to ship than it did to buy).

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2006.10.13

Doing more retro listening... latest purchases include a best-of compilation from Electric Light Orchestra, and a CD of Chicago 16. ELO's "Telephone Line" came to mind in conversation the other day; I've been after Chicago 16 for a while to complete my little Chicago collection. Before receiving the CD, the last time I'd heard anything from Chicago 16 was when I was in high school.

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2006.09.21

When iTunes doesn't have what I'm looking for, I like using eBay and online used CD shops. I'm really only concerned with the condition of the disc -- as long as I can rip it and import it into my library, I'm good. I can always find the album artwork online someplace. A couple days ago I scored a copy of the out-of-print Styx CD Paradise Theater. It was delivered this afternoon... so I'm gettin' my Styx on :-)

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2006.09.13

Been having a hankering for coffee and for 70's jazz lately. iTunes helped me address one of those predilections today, with Gerry Rafferty's "Baker Street" and Chuck Mangione's "Feels So Good." Now if only they were available in a nice hazelnut with a dash of cinnamon...

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2006.09.12

Released today: Barenaked Ladies Are Me. I've been listening to cuts from it released earlier on iTunes and in BNL's podcasts. The deluxe version of the album contains 27 tracks -- but the version you'll see in shops has only half of this content. The release showcases the band's fantastic diversity of musical styles and absolute mastery of smooth vocal harmony. "Sound of Your Voice", for example, is done in a rock/doo-wop manner; "Wind it Up" has a hard-driving rock edge. The intro to "Another Spin" screams "lounge act", but has a catchy chromatic hook and a poppy chorus. Horn arrangements appear on this and several other tracks. But "Running Out of Ink" probably sums my point the best. I believe that if you're interested in this release at all, don't skimp - go for the deluxe version. It's two albums worth of material (the second album currently titled "Barenaked Ladies Are Men".) Order the deluxe version while you still can directly from BNL.

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