The Beatles

As you may have heard, the Beatles are now available in the iTunes store. It’s a pretty big deal from a business perspective, I’ve heard that last year the Beatles were the second highest selling artist. That’s pretty amazing considering how long ago they broke up…

They’ve been playing the Beatles non-stop in the store for the past couple of days. I’m actually enjoying it quite a bit, though ask me next week and see if I say the same thing… It’s amazing, I know the words to all of the songs, I find myself mouthing the words even when I’m not really listening to the music. They are deep, deep inside my head. Listening to “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” made me recall my very first experience with audio equipment, and I guess the first time I played music on my own. It was with my father’s reel to reel tape machine. He had Sgt. Pepper’s on tape. I think the first real song I ever knew all the words to was “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer.” I think the only Beatles albums I haven’t listened to a zillion times are Please Please Me, With the Beatles, A Hard Days Night, and Beatles for Sale. Rest assured, I know all of the radio hits by heart…


It is amazing to see how long their music has kept going. I don’t think it’s all boomers that are responsible for that either. Their hits are the very definition of iconic. I do notice they aren’t playing songs like “Happiness is a Warm Gun,” “Revolution No.9,” or even “Run for Your Life,” but we are getting some decent variety in the store and people seem to be enjoying it for the most part. They’ve had a great run, let’s see if they can go another 40 years!


Punk Rock and Dinah Shore

Here’s one that folks don’t hear a lot. It’s from an Austrailian punk band called the Victims. The song is “Television Addict” and it was released back in ’77. There was a slightly more famous version (at least here in the states)done by the Helicopters, but this is the original.

I love the “snarl” of the guitar. Just goes to show that you don’t have to play super fast to be intense. It surprised me that they were Aussies, I had assumed that they were British. I guess that’s because I’m so used to hearing British punks. There’s a certain sneering and snarling (there’s that word again) that’s only possible with a British accent. Or maybe and Aussie one too…

I’m also blown away by one line in there. Up until this line, I enjoy it as just another great song, but then it gets put into a very specific time frame…

“Just because I watch DINAH SHORE doesn’t mean I need a facelift!”

Good grief, Dinah Shore? That’s… old. That’s stuff my grandmother watched, that’s a TV show that was on before I really paid attention to TV. With that one line I am hit over the head with the fact that this song is 33 years old. That kills me. This music will always be about youth and it’s hard to think that these guys are now in their 50’s and maybe 60’s. I guess my father has the same reaction when he hears the Rolling Stones and even Chuck Berry.

Anyway, enjoy a little obscure punk rock, I’ll post more if I run something worthwhile.


Not for the faint of heart…

Wow… Here’s a smattering of some really, truly awful album covers, with a special treat at the end! First up, STUFFPARTY!!!!



God only knows what kind of music(?) they play, but anything with hair that bad has to be feared…


Imagine if she was your mother… yelling at you… in GERMAN!!!


Will the roses keep her quiet?


And the rose theme continues… Ladies and Gentlemen I present Joyce!


And if are as captivated by her as I think you are, you should listen to her sing “I Get All Excited” Go on, I dare you….


The real value of LastFM

A little while ago I mentioned that I subscribed to Slacker. I’ve been using them pretty extensively, and the caching of the stations has been awesome. I can load up my custom stations on my iPod and listen to them in the car. I have not had the actual radio on in the car for quite a while.

I still listen to LastFM too. Until now, I had mostly been using them to get my library in a good mix and to hear their recommendations based on my library. Now that I have a few “friends” on LastFM, I have figured out another great thing about that service. I can essentially borrow my friends’ music collections any time I want to. Some of them (Mary, Adam, I’m looking at you) have very similar tastes in music. A couple others aren’t so close, but I’ve heard some amazing things on those stations too. Have I mentioned how much I love internet radio?


25 albums I could listen to all day, any day, all the time…

Got this from my friend John Carson off of Facebook, here’s my list, in no particular order…


1) Trinity Sessions by the Cowboy Junkies

2) Help by the Beatles

3) Cookin’ by the Miles Davis Quintet

4) The Shape of Punk to Come by Refused

5) Waitin’ for the Night by the Runaways

6) Double Nickels on the Dime by the Minutemen

7) Goldburg Variations (1981) by Glenn Gould

8) Let it Bleed by the Rolling Stones

9) Sarah Vaughn with Clifford Brown by… well, you can guess

10) The Lion and the Cobra by Sinead O’Connor

11) Chapter Two by Roberta Flack

12) Live in London ’69 by the Beach Boys (my very first album!)

13) Surfer Rosa by the Pixies

14) 20 All TIme Greatest Hits by James Brown

15) Fear of a Black Planet by Public Enemy

16) Three Feet and Rising by De La Soul

17) Bach the Sonatas and Partitas by Paul Galbraith

18) The Best of Bill Haley and the Comets

19) Live at Folsom Prison by Johnny Cash

20) Elephant by the White Stripes

21) Burnin by Bob Marley and the Wailers

22) Retrospective by KRS 1

23) Sounds of India by Ravi Shankar

24) The Lexicon of Love by ABC

25) RIO by Duran Duran


There’s plenty more of course, these are the first ones off the top of my head. I haven’t bought any albums in a long time, mostly just singles. I’d like to see some of your lists!

music technology

An experiment

So I figured out the caching feature in Slacker radio. Essentially, I pick the station I want to listen to on my iPod and then tap a button to tell it to cache that station. I’ve read that it saves about 100 songs per station. I’ve set up 12 to do that, classics (as in Beatles and Stones), New York Dolls, Potishead, Modern Punk, UK Indie, Silversun Pickups, Pixies and stuff, Buddy Holly Radio, ’80s alternative, Indie hits, Classic Jazz, and Indie.

I have decided to go with an all “picked for me playlist” approach for a while. So I’ve got the Slacker stuff on there, and I’ve also put some genius playlists on there as well, Punk Mix, New Wave mix, mainstream rock mix, jazz mix, Indie rock mix, Brit-pop and rock mix, alternative pop/rock mix, and Alt. singer/songwriter mix.

What I like about this approach is that I still get the music I like, but it is a surprise for me, and I spend zero effort getting it on my iPod. You laugh, but when you have 34,000+ songs in your library, it’s a pain to go through and actually make playlists. Even if I did, I would then face the monotony of knowing exactly what was in them. This approach keeps things fresh. As strange as it may sound, even with 34,000+ songs, you can get into ruts. That’s where Slacker comes in. I can once again have the thrill of finding the song on the radio, but I get to skip the songs I don’t like.


Ahhh, life is good! Who needs cellular service to enjoy internet radio?

music technology

Just subscribed to Slacker Radio

I’ve been enjoying Slacker radio on my squeezebox ever since I got it. I love the genre stations I’ve picked out (Indie, indie hits, 80’s alternative, and classic jazz) and the custom stations I’ve created have also been great. I have never been able to get Pandora to do what I want, but slacker has done the job for me. At 4 bucks a month, it’s well worth it to me.


I’m intrigued by their cache option. They say I can cache the station on my iPod touch and then play it offline. For you iPhone users, you do this over wi-fi so you don’t chew through your bandwidth limits. That would come in real handy for the car. I’ll update you on how that goes. I also have to figure out how to do the song request thing on my squeezebox. I love having the radio without dealing with FM!


This machine kills fascists

That was a line in a book I was reading. It rang a strong bell, but I couldn’t place it. In the story, a punk rocker was saying it after an unlikely dispersal of an alien with a guitar chord. But who was that? Who said that? Oh right…


In many ways, Woody Guthrie was the original punk rocker. He didn’t really align himself with right or left (although these days he’d be squarely on the left I think) but he knew when he didn’t like something. He could sniff out corporitism and crony capitalism at its worst. We need more Woody Guthries than we do John Lydons…

music technology

Last FM and more…

I had mentioned Pandora radio before, I now feel that I have found an even better internet radio service. It’s called Last FM and it is amazing. Here’s the way it works, it looks at all the music you have played, in iTunes, internet radio, and on your iPod, and builds an artist library for you. From there, you can play “your” radio station (assembled from the artists you play), or listen to recommendations for you based on those artists.

I am in heaven. I have found a radio station that will play Joan Jett, Wilco, Devo, Glenn Gould, The Bouncing Souls, Bob Dylan, Bob Marley, Spoon, the Detroit Cobras, and all of my other favorite groups. There isn’t another station that has that kind of spread. It’s my station, made of my music. Oh life is good, life is good my friends.

That station is for the sure bet, when I’m in the mood for something reliable. I haven’t done a lot of listening to the recommended station yet, but I’m excited about that too. I’m getting new music ideas from the Slacker “Indy Rock hits” station, Radioio’s jazz standards station, a crazy east coast Doo-Wop station on live 365, and I’m looking into

This is the radio I’ve been waiting my whole life for. I had no idea that this was even possible. Last FM may be all the reason I need to actually get an iPhone, it will allow me to take this on the road. We’ll see if I ever shut up about this, in the meantime, please bear with this music lover’s gushing….


Lady Gaga

“I have a confession to make. I like Lady Gaga.” That’s what my friend _____ told me today. I had been hearing a bit about her from here and there and had made some Bowie parallels from the critical comments. I wanted to see if she really was the next Bowie and had watched a few of her videos for the first time the night before my friend made their confession.

One thing that I did know about her is that she has a constantly changing “look.” I had seen her when “Poker Face” came out, and then I saw a poster for “Fame Monster” and didn’t realize she was the same person. The videos reinforced this idea, she totally changes several time during the space of a 4 minute song. Hmm, so she has mutable looks, that’s a parallel with Bowie I suppose. The thing is, I didn’t see any personality differences, or even real narratives like Bowie was wont to do.

The thing that really struck me watching those videos (Telephone, Bad Romance, Just Dance, Poker Face) was how little sex appeal she has. She’s the only attractive woman I have ever seen that can wear a bikini like a uniform. She seems to only ever wear extraordinarily form fitting clothes, or next to nothing. She is a good looking woman, and she has quite the figure, but she doesn’t come close to, say, a Karen O (who is far plainer by any criteria) in sex appeal. This is going to sound strange, but Lady Gaga resembles what I would imagine a gay guy would come up with if he wanted to make a “sexy” woman. All of the obvious things are there, but something essential is missing.

If we assume that this is an intentional thing, then there might indeed be some parallels with Bowie, it’s all very “meta.” What does it mean to be a pop female singer? Is she sexy by dint of the uniform that she wears, sings, or dances? Is Lady gaga a character? Does it matter what character she is, if she looks like that must she wear scanty clothing? Bowie explored some of the ideas behind fame, characters in rock, and image as well. Hell, “Fame Monster” sounds like an album he could have made in ’74 or ’75.

I can’t say that I like her music, but I understand why some people would. If she is indeed trying to explore some of this stuff, she has picked the most vapid, least meaningful genre to do it in. Maybe that’s part of the act. I wasn’t really cognisant of what Bowie was up to back in the early 70’s, for all I know the same criticisms were leveled against him. People are giving the label of performance artist to Lady Gaga, I’m willing to wait and see what she has planned before crowning her as the next Bowie. But I won’t write her off either…