Monday, November 12, 2007

Is "A" Jethro Tull's Worst Album? Hell No I Say!

I visited the iTunes music store to check if I had all the tracks for Jethro Tull's "A" and found it was victim of some pretty hateful reviews. Well feeling that the record didn't deserve that much spite, I decided to pen my own review. Here it is saved for all time in case it gets dropped off iTunes for people rating it unhelpful.


Not So Fast...

Take another look folks. People afraid of change have been bashing this record for decades but I think it has a lot to offer in the lexicon of Jethro Tull. Several songs influenced me as a young man. "Uniform" weaves a wonderful dark texture that owes a lot to the fantastic playing of Eddie Jobson; what a wonderful counterpoint to everyone's favorite rock flutist. My main issue with the track is that they fade out the stunning riffing at the end too soon.

"Batteries Not Included", "Crossfire", and "Protect And Survive" touched on something in me as a young person and helped cement my love for JT as I was really too young to have appreciated previous records when they came out. "A" was not my introduction to the band as my father was a rock DJ and brought home records for us all the time. But "A" was the first Tull album that I bought with my own money and it sealed the deal. I often wonder if people that don't like this record have really given it a chance. "And Further On", "The Pine Marten's Jig", and "Fylingdale Flyer" all strike me as tracks that are very much in line with the traditional sound of the more classic version of the band. Is it "Thick As A Brick"? no... But these are talented people. Even if they just pass wind into a mic it would likely sound better than 80% of popular music.

I agree that the record company made a mistake releasing it as a Jethro Tull record; chances are that if they had stuck to the original plan, more people would have been able to accept the record for what it is and there may not have been such a backlash.

Synthesizers don't kill albums... closed-minded people that hate them do. heh.


Seems I am obsessing on music a lot recently, maybe that means I need to get back to writing some of my own. : )

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Doc's Ever Growing List Of Perfect Albums

I have been thinking about music recently as you might have been able to tell from my posts. I was involved in an online discussion about "perfect" records recently. Albums that have no "filler". As fun as this sounds, but also very hard. So few rock albums were created with the intention of every track being great. Thats just not how the economics of the industry has worked usually. I think most record companies would have preferred to spread 11 great tracks over 3 albums. : )

As Katy and I have been playing this game and mentioning it to other friends I find myself wanting to make suggestions and then removing them from my list due to one or two dud songs!

Here is all I have so far...
Filigree In Shadow - This Mortal Coil
UK - Danger Money
The Clash - London Calling
Traffic – Traffic
David Bowie - Ziggy Stardust
The Police - Synchronicity
Public Image Ltd. - Album (man, I love this record)
The Who - Whos Next
Elton John – Madman Across the Water
Pink Floyd - Dark Side of the Moon
Elvis Costello – My Aim is True
The The - Mind Bomb
Jethro Tull - Thick as a Brick
Aim is True - Elvis Costello
Untitled #3 "Melting Face" - Peter Gabriel
The Who - Quadrophenia

If you read this and want to play... just remember to be honest with yourself... don't put "Madman Across The Water" on you list unless you would REALLY be willing to listen to "Tiny Dancer" every time. : )

Saturday, November 10, 2007

The Greatest Record Ever Made

So many great albums... so many true works of art...

The Clash - London Calling
Traffic – Traffic
David Bowie - Ziggy Stardust
The Police - Synchronicity
Public Image Ltd. - Album (man, I love this record)
The Who - Whos Next
Elton John – Madman Across the Water
Pink Floyd - Dark Side of the Moon
Elvis Costello – My Aim is True

All frigg'in great... So much great music to choose from. So what is the all time favorite of some freak like me who's musical tastes span across acts like XTC, Scraping Foetus Off The Wheel, Jethro Tull, This Mortal Coil, The Damed, Laurie Anderson, UK and Radiohead???

No question.... Its Lamb... Always Lamb, I will never falter in my love for this record or change my mind that it is the greatest rock album ever made. It is pure genius. The stars really had to be aligned for such a perfect thing to have been created.

Hard to believe that anyone that played on Lamb could have gone on to suck so very hard as they did a hand full of years later on crap like Invisible Touch. *shudder* I think it just goes to prove just how much PG oozes creativity. But to be fair I really like Trick Of The Tail too, so even after he left I guess they still COULD do good music but eventually choose to cash in. *sob*

If for some reason you have not heard Lamb Lies Down On Broadway, please seek it out. It really should be listened to from start to finish if possible.

It made it into this list of the 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.
Nice list... I may need to explore it more.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Toss a Coin at the Village Idiot and Feel Better Because Its Not You.

I was recently perusing a message board I frequent and found a post ridiculing a autistic man that had been getting a lot of attention on the web due to his Youtube uploads, online comics he had crudely drawn, and sometimes disturbing rants on his myspace page. Basically he is becoming a viral star because of his online antics. People have even gone as far as scouring the web for mentions of him in the blogs of people that know him personally and staking out places he goes in order to photograph him... wow. He has a page devoted to him on the wiki-style Encyclopedia Dramatica where all this information is consolidated and anyone can basically make fun of him or out right accuse him of anything... true or not.

I didn't know that the teasing of people who are different had gone so digital and global and brutal!

I won't mention details on this guy since that would only be adding fuel to the fire. But I can tell you he is not always the most pleasant fellow. He seems to be a bit intolerant towards minorities and gay people. Not a hate spitting, loud mouth mind you, he just strikes me as someone that was raised by closed minded parents and since he is autistic, he doesn't always know how to filter those ideas, or make his own decisions. He will say things like "Ladies" should only kiss "gentlemen" or other such over simplifications that if they came out of the mouth of a kid we might find them cute but since he is a 25 year old man the words come off as super creepy. Also he tends to get arrested for loitering in his attempts to find a girlfriend. So he does have some bad behaivior, but mostly it seems that he is just a big, socialy inept, creepy guy.

What follows is my response in the thread about why I think using a person that acts "creepy" as a form of web entertainment might be showing us something even more disturbing about ourselves.

Assuming we take the information on encyclopedia dramatica at face value, the bottom line for me is that the dude seems to have problems... possibly both physiological and psychological. For that reason, I don't know if I want to participate in mocking him publicly.

He IS putting himself out there to be mocked for sure... but if we choose not to take the bait, then other people will be less likely to seek fame from encouraging ridicule of their shortcomings. And to be honest, I am not so sure he "gets" the underlying tone of his "popularity" he is unable to successfully interact socially after all. I wonder if any attention at all satisfies a need in him, even if it is negative and can only add to his issues down the road. Will making him "famous" stop him from acting badly in public and getting arrested in places he goes to look for girls? Nah.

To me his "star status" just seems like a digital equivalent to an old circus side show. Something we as a culture thought we were beyond but in fact we are still starring at the people who are vastly different from what is considered average because it helps us each individually feel more "normal".

As far as him having psychological issues that go beyond being autistic, who is to say how much being autistic screws with your self esteem and general mental health? Aspects of your brain function may be normal or even superior to average but I think that could be a serious detriment to being otherwise balanced because you may have the ability to comprehend just how your autism effects your life and limits what you can accomplish. I think thats gotta mess with ya.

Brain dysfunction has a wide range of effects on people and we are nowhere near being able to understand it fully. I think at some point in the future we will have a better grasp of just how unique and different each persons "mind" is and we look back on the idea of thinking that people are either "normal" or "abnormal" as naive.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

More Early MTV Nonsense

That first critical year...

According to something I read attributed to Nina Blackwood, in the early days of MTV they only had around 300 clips to choose from total (125 at the time of launch). Even though some videos were already a few years old, they wound up in major rotation because there was just not a lot to choose from and little or no competition for airtime amongst the artists.

1982 seemed to be the year that it began to change and the music industry started seeing MTV as a promotion tool mainly due to the success of J. Geils Band's "Centerfold". The song went to number one after being in heavy rotation on MTV in early 1982. Also notable was the Go-Go's "We Got the Beat". The song was a year old but due to the popularity of the video started climbing the charts and got to number 2 in early 1982... I can visualize the record industry "sharks" starting to gather around the sent of money in preparation of the frenzy that would soon devour my beloved eclectic video music channel.

So it seems that the slide into what quickly became a 24hr ad campaign for easily consumable top 40 pop music started a lot sooner than I remembered or was aware of at the time. I was a smart kid, but I doubt I could have perceived the underlying forces that where redirecting the course of the creek I was floating down as it became a rushing river of commercialism.

Its no wonder that when I talk about early MTV to people that they don't remember bands like The Buggles. By the time most kids had done a month of chores and raised their grades enough to finally convince their parents to get cable, the tide had most likely already turned. People only remember Talking Heads because by that time they where firmly entrenched and I suspect MTV picked a hand full of unique acts from the early days to carry forward in order to not be seen as selling out.

I never really realized how small MTVs audience was in that first year... In hindsight I feel very lucky to have been exposed to it before it became corrupted. Elvis Costello, Kate Bush, Talking Heads, Pretenders... Man I shudder to think what my musical tastes would be like had I been listening to the RADIO during that time. It was like having a (somewhat) cool late night DJ at a college station you could barely pick up playing weird and wonderful stuff you would never have heard otherwise. I am still searching for a list of everything that was played during that first year. I know there are so many gems I have forgotten from that hazy magic time...

A few years later I would be deeply engrossed in playing in avant-garde bands, re-discovering progressive rock and uncovering the punk music from the late 70's that I had missed being somewhat musically isolated in Wichita KS at the time. Its hard to say how much of my musically vocabulary came from that first year of MTV but I would say it had a substantial effect on the direction of the music I make and enjoy.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

My favorite videos aired on the first day of MTV

On the day MTV went live I was really just a kid, I was actually very poor but I was fortunate enough to be living in the basement of a house that was wired for cable and I was glued to the set. The music was necessarily eclectic as the idea of making videos was still new. What I saw changed my musical tastes forever and broadened my horizons in a way that I don't think is possible now, I mean you HAD to sit through the April Wine video to see Elvis Costello and along the way you got a dose of Kate Bush, Iron Maiden and The Specials! Oh how the times have changed...

August 1, 1981:

"Video Killed the Radio Star" by The Buggles
"You Better You Bet" by The Whol
"Brass in Pocket" by The Pretenders
"Time Heals" by Todd Rundgren
"Message of Love" by The Pretenders
"Double Life" by The Cars
"In the Air Tonight" by Phil Collins
"Looking For Clues" by Robert Palmer
"Stop Draggin' My Heart Around" by Stevie Nicks and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
"One Step Ahead" by Split Enz
"I Wanna Be a Lifeguard" by Blotto (So bad its good?)
"Oliver's Army" by Elvis Costello
"Is it You?" by Lee Ritenour
"Tusk" by Fleetwood Mac
"Rapture" by Blondie
"Don't Let Go the Coat" by The Who
"Talk of the Town" by The Pretenders
"Can't Happen Here" by Rainbow
"The Man with the Child in His Eyes" by Kate Bush
"Ashes to Ashes" by David Bowie
"Rat Race" by The Specials
"Once in a Lifetime" by Talking Heads

I am still looking for a list of everything that was played the first year or two... MTV was struggling to fill up the playlist and it forced some odd and wonderful choices. Once more and more commercial music started to "clue in" and infiltrate the programing, it started to loose its luster for me... hard to think of the Talking Heads as being "unknown" but if other bands that where popular on the radio at the time had also produced visual content so early, then I doubt most people would have never heard of them as they would have just never made it on the air. Those first 12-24 months of MTV was a rare moment in the history of popular music.

Note: The dates of the music releases can be a little confusing as a lot of these where shot as promos for the band and the videos got shown before the record was released.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Woman rides mechanical bull, pole dances for an elderly woman, and fakes an orgasm to sell underpants...

Maybe we HAVE gone too far... : )

Sensuality used in advertising is one thing, but somehow I think that this may cross the line, I think its the fake orgasm that gave me pause.

The blatant commercialization of sex is an unfortunate aspect of human nature that we don't seem to be able to get past. Some women don't seem to be willing to stop tying to cash in on their sexuality and many men don't seem to be able to resist it no matter how insincere. Marketers (both male and female) understand this relationship and can't avoid the temptation to exploit it.

I think human sexuality can be beautiful. As one of our most powerful motivations, it is often the source of great works of art, music, and more importantly can be a powerful component in simple human relations. However, the more gratuitously its used as a commodity the more distorted and unattractive it becomes.