if you want more britpop at christmas, take this!
Before rapping about this year's Christmas CD, let me register my surprise that this is the fourth time that we've done this online. It's the thirteenth mix CD I've made with Amy all told. The first one we did on the blog (and the thing that kicked off this blog in fact) isn't online anymore, along with a lot of the pictures, but the two after that, the South American pop one, and the rare groove one, both are available for download and still sound pretty good, if you ask me.
This year's mix is an unusual one, in that John and Corbett were full collaborators. I got the tiebreaking vote (and a little bit more sometimes), but there are certainly songs on here that made it solely because one of the other two guys insisted on it. Which might sound bad, but was actually nice. And to be honest, we were all mostly in agreement about most of the songs, and it all came together really easily.
That's because all of the songs are drawn from a period, basically 1995-1997, when the three of us (and our friends) were locked in a mutual Anglophilic music appreciation society. One of us would drive to Austin and bring back copies of Select to read, another of us would go online and scour any news of Blur's next album, or print out NME's single of the week entry and debate it with the other two the rest of the day. Then me & John would play it on our Monday afternoon radio show.
I think it would be wrong to say that our music taste was too insular (since at the same time we were building up our core catalogue in about six different genres), but it was certainly a time when we followed one particular music scene closer than we ever have or ever will.
The scene I'm referring to is "Britpop." And one particular era of Britpop, which the internet tells me is the "second wave." This is more or less the period of time when music coming out of the UK peaked in domestic popularity, and all of the bands signed on the backs of Suede's, & Oasis's, and Blur's early albums were putting out their efforts designed to capitalize on what, in England, really was a hysteria for the homegrown music sound.
And it was over and done with pretty quickly. By the end of 1997, the whole "Cool Britannia" era was more or less dead and buried, probably best represented by Radiohead's release of "OK Computer," which marked a new sound and a new wave of copycat bands. (Plus, I moved to NYC in the summer of 1997, so it's a natural bookkend for me anyway) (Plus, within a couple of years, the rise of file-sharing and the web reached a point where it became obvious that a single music scene, driven by a powerful music press (i.e., Melody Maker, the NME, Select, Q, etc.) was no longer feasible). Most of those press outlets barely exist anymore. And certainly not as tastemakers. This is covered better elsewhere, so let me just get to telling you about our Christmas CD.
For Corbett, John, our friends, and me, this period was really about a few bands. Blur mainly. Pulp, Supergrass, and Super Furry Animals. And, at the time, Oasis was very important too, but let me be blunt -- the music hasn't aged well. We had only one Oasis song (Whatever) on the first draft of the mix, and I decided to take it off to fit it onto one CD. And I immediately felt better about the mix, because I just couldn't stand to listen to Noel & Liam!
So with that exception, this mix reflects pretty well who we were actually listening to the last couple years of college. And we listened to this stuff a lot. Hours every day. Despite that, it's been years since I've listened to some of these songs -- a few songs on this mix I hadn't listened to since iTunes started keeping track in 2003! -- so it's been a welcome trip down memory lane the last week, trading song ideas with John & Corbett. And again, thanks to them for helping me put this together.
Happy Holidays, and see you in 2010! (Let's hope Liverpool stays unbeaten the next week, cos I won't be here again until January.)
Download the 2009 mix here.
Monday, December 21, 2009
Sunday, December 20, 2009
Listen to IT'S NOT THAT EASY by Reuben Bell And The Casanovas.
This is a special song for me, I've always had a soft spot for it. It's almost too pleading, maybe a little maudlin, but it strikes me as just on the right side of that line. Have a good Sunday!
Posted by bill at 10:04 AM
Saturday, December 19, 2009
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Listen to THEME FROM THE CONVERSATION by David Shire.
Apropos of nothing, I've always really liked this piece (track? tune?)
I went to the trouble of uploading songs this weekend, so why not share some with you?
Enjoy your Wednesday.
Sunday, December 13, 2009
Listen to EGO TRIPPING AT THE GATES OF HELL by The Flaming Lips.
A few weeks ago I rode my bike out to Staten Island (via the ferry of course). Since I was alone, I brought along my headphones and listened to tunes while I tooled around. You know how sometimes a song just clicks with you? I got to Ego Tripping..., and all of a sudden, a song I had heard a dozen times over the years, it was like I had new ears and was hearing it for the first time. And then the second, then the fifth, then the eighth--I just stuck it on repeat and listened to it for an hour straight! And it was really nice, almost euphoric.
It's funny how our brains work right? I definitely think our minds get old and stop working right, just like the rest of us. My mind is at least! Senescence starts a long time before senility. But it won't really matter as long as your mind's sharp enough and dynamic enough to have nice little experiences with music (and books, and people, and all that)
Listen to YOU'LL NEVER WALK ALONE by Dionne Warwick.
Boy was I nervous the last twenty minutes of that. In retrospect, there wasn't much to it was there?
The first half we were pretty terrible, though that was mainly because we had no centre forward and thus no way to keep the ball in a dangerous area. You saw as soon as we got Arshavin on the ball in the second half we were cutting Liverpool open pretty easily.
I think it's fair to say the Gallas / Gerrard incident should have been a penalty, but it wasn't clearcut, since Gerrard actually had lost possession. If you want a stonewall penalty not given, ask Alex Hleb or Dirk Kuyt. Plus, Gerrard was just diving again last week, so he got what he deserves if you ask me.
As for my team, I don't think we can do anything without any centre forwards (with our luck Arshavin is probably out for the season), but it's nice to win one of these big matches again.
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Listen to YOU'LL NEVER WALK ALONE by the Ryker's.
This is one I don't feel too too badly about, since I'm a little short for real songs at the moment. Liverpool lost to Fiorentina just a few moments ago, but thankfully we were all spared a Stevie G diving exhibition to go with it.
While you consider what some guy said on the internet about Ryker's ("This is one of the most under-rated hardcore bands ever. RYKER'S was the biggest band best hardcore band from Europe."), I'm going to get my voodoo dolls out and start hoping we can give Liverpool another loss this Sunday...
Thursday, December 3, 2009
Listen to WHO CAN SEE IT by George Harrison.
As promised, here's one more from "Living in the Material World." I'm not sure what I think about this one, except that it's another nearly great. But not. Worth a listen though. I think maybe what the Beatles brought to George, or maybe what George stayed sharp about around them, was the arrangements. George's best Beatles songs sound like they were recorded just the way they should be performed. By himself, maybe George's talents as an arranger slacked off. This one just seems not quite right, like he didn't quite capture its best side.
Enjoy your Friday & weekend too!
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Listen to TRY SOME BUY SOME by George Harrison.
How many of you have George's second (proper) solo album, "Living in the Material World"? I never had it, even though I'm a big Beatlemaniac, love George, and the first song on the album, Give Me Love (Give Me Peace on Earth), is one of my favorite George songs. Despite all that, I was somehow just convinced that the rest of the album wasn't worth having. Maybe due to the seriously crap cover.
A couple of weeks ago, I finally picked up the album, and...well, it's a mixed bag. I don't think there are any lost classics on there, but a few of the songs are perfectly decent. Actually, that's not right, they're nearly really good, but don't quite make it, which makes them more interesting, but more frustrating, than the average decent tune.
Try Some Buy Some is a good example. It was actually recorded during the "All Things Must Pass" sessions, and originally given to Ronnie Spector. George sped up the backing track slightly and sang his own version for "Living In the Material World." I like it, I like it a lot in fact, but there's something about it that doesn't quite come together. I think that it is written to pick up a huge momentum so that by the end you should have this big huge sound, but it never comes.
Incidentally, David Bowie recorded a pretty good version of this a couple of years ago. I might even like his version best.
Saturday, November 28, 2009
Listen to BARON SATURDAY by The Pretty Things.
You can only really blog this song on a Saturday, can't you?
That's fine, because I've been thinking a lot about David Bowie today, and the Pretty Things remind me a lot of him. I couldn't tell you exactly why. It's either because Bowie obviously owes a lot of his Ziggy-era sound to this group, or maybe it's because I first heard about the Pretty Things from some interview where Bowie himself was talking about how important an influence they were on him. (Though I may be imagining that interview.)
It doesn't matter -- you can play this track and hear for yourself why one might hear it and think of Bowie. This whole album, "S.F. Sorrow", is a real classic and you should buy/download it as soon as possible. It's the third and least-well-known record recorded at Abbey Road in the early part of 1967 (the other two being "Piper At The Gates of Dawn" and "Sgt Pepper's")
The band has some great earlier tunes too, that you can hear on the Nuggets II box set, among other places.
Friday, November 27, 2009
Listen to SOMETIMES I MAKE YOU SAD by Supergrass.
I'm still thinking that a Britpop Christmas CD would be a fun idea, though I haven't done much about it except write the occasional blog post. The other day, though, I did go back and listen to my old Supergrass tracks.
And while I don't think this particular track is significant enough of anything, I sure do like it!
Happy Friday, hope you've got a long weekend going on instead of a bloated day at the office (like me).
Monday, November 23, 2009
Listen to EUPHRATES by The Main Ingredient.
Corbett was asking awhile ago if I knew the Main Ingredient, but I forgot to reply to his text. The answer is, Of Course! Euphrates is one of my all-time favorite R&B jams, and I spent a lot of hours last winter trying to squeeze it onto the 2008 Christmas CD, before I finally decided to keep that one a little older and rawer. Not smooth, like the Main Ingredient. Happy Monday, roll on Tuesday...
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Listen to THE TIME IT IS TODAY by The Association.
One more to tide you over for a few days. Is it just me, or was the Association semi-heavyweights in the classic rock canon, but now they've been relegated to a couple of tracks on oldies stations? I'm not in a good position to judge, given my total lack of interaction with conventional music-playing (ed: do you mean "I don't listen to the radio much," robot?), but this particular song I heard a lot when I was younger but I don't think I've heard it anywhere for years, except on my iPod. Just a (dumb, inarticulate) theory.
Unless John jumps in, this'll be it until I get back from Oklahoma on Sunday, at the earliest. Unless, of course, Liverpool loses on Saturday -- in that case I'll be iPhone blogging to get our next song up here!
Posted by bill at 6:34 PM
Monday, November 16, 2009
Sunday, November 15, 2009
Listen to SHE TOOK A LONG COLD LOOK by Syd Barrett.
Is there anything more to this song than the first line? You know what I mean? It's the only part I really remember. It stays with me. A bunch of his songs are like that. They start with a great line, and then kinda meander. But you only really need that first great line. Not that there aren't other great parts too, just sayin'. Such as: (some reader knowledge assumed here)
"She was long gone long long gone."
"Lucifer Sam, Siam Cat."
"It's an idea someday"
"Wined and dined oh it seemed just like a dream."
"Trip to heave and ho, up down, to and fro" (to be fair there a bunch of great lines in this one...)
"In the sad town, cold iron hands clap the party of clowns outside rain falls in grey far away, please please baby lemonade" (okay some other great lines in this one too!)
"Yes I'm thiiiiiiiiiiiiiii-iiiiiiiiiii-iiiiiiiinking"
"Maaaaaaisie." (Okay maybe that's not such a great line! Great delivery though.)
So concludes half-baked Sunday evening blogging.
Sunday, November 8, 2009
Listen to CARE OF CELL 44 by The Zombies.
I could scarcely believe it when I checked, and there had never been any Zombies featured on this blog. So I want to play my favorite song, and the best one at that.
Today was a nice day. Perfect weather, and listened to the Flaming Lips and Syd Barrett. Took a bike ride to Staten Island. Lunch in Soho outside with the girls. Good times!
Friday, November 6, 2009
Listen to REACHING OUT FROM HERE by The Boo Radleys.
A couple of weeks ago I mentioned doing a Britpop compilation, and Corbett, John, and I have started trading song ideas. The best part being not knowing for sure if a suggestion is serious or a wind up -- we listened to a lot of borderline ridiculous music back then. Part of the charm I guess.
I'd certainly like to stick the Boo Radleys on anything to do with that period. I like the group a lot (though I'm not a "real" fan because their stuff from before Wake Up! tends to bore me), but I started listening through their songs and it's striking how few of them stand on their own. Like, as a single, or something you could stick on a mix tape. Most everything they did have strange interludes and appendages. Part of the charm I guess!
Reaching Out From Here is just about the straightest tune they ever released, so enjoy it and your Friday
Monday, November 2, 2009
Listen to LIMELIGHT by Carioca and His Cuban Percussion Orchestra.
I can't really tell you much about why I decided to blog this, except it never fails to put a smile on my face, a spring in my step. I guess it does have a sort of post-Wes Anderson movie soundtrack potential, but let's not think in those terms. Just a pleasant way to spend a couple of minutes, in exactly the same vein as Xavier Cugat, and leave it at that.
Sunday, November 1, 2009
Listen to YOU'LL NEVER WALK ALONE by Leon Haywood.
Happy November everybody!
I honestly don't take great pleasure in these Liverpool posts lately. The YNWA series is supposed to be an occasional good-natured poke in the ribs, not a bi-weekly event!
That said, this is a nice snappy version, so at least it's good to listen to. Leon is from Texas, and is probably most famous among my generation for being the man behind the sample that drove "Nothin But a G Thang." See if you can spot the similarities in this one.
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Listen to MAKE HER SAY by Kid Cudi.
John back again. Like you, I travel with music. Before I leave, I load up an ipod with handpicked good stuff that current tastes predict will be enjoyed. At first, it’s great browsing albums or listening on shuffle, but after a few days, maybe a week, the power law takes over: 20% of the music, 80% of the time. By the end, there are a handful of very well explored songs in the rotation. That’s when an enjoyable, productive insanity blossoms and new theories develop. I first noticed this phenomenon when I was walking down the streets of Warsaw last Christmas thinking about how much I was thinking about ”Take A Load Off Your Feet” and wondering why other people weren't thinking the same thing. Most recently I discovered "Martha My Dear" is the sequel to "Penny Lane", and, for goodness sakes, the bass isn’t even the best part!
Gotta come home though, and between immigration and customs at JFK, while praying more bags will magically appear, searching for an empty $5 smart cart, and hoping the taxi line will be quick, an out-of-bounds song returns. It sounds right and says welcome home. A week ago for me, it was “Make Her Say”, by Kid Cudi. Enjoy!
Photo: satellite dish.
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Listen to YOU'LL NEVER WALK ALONE by Chet Atkins.
Ha ha you got beat by the kids! Actually, that's not really true. We had some kids but a lot of first teamers too. Seemed like an open enough game from my snatches of streaming clips. I'd write more but I need coffee, ta
Saturday, October 24, 2009
Listen to THINGS WE SAID TODAY by The Beatles.
It would be a huge stretch to say that I could listen to Chet Atkins all day. I have a lot of affection for him, mainly because this random one-off album that he did with Mark Knopfler somehow became one of the albums we listened to more than anything growing up. But there's no denying that his ideas about taste neutured a lot of great music in Nashville. If you listen to his productions or his solo recordings, you'll eventually forget what it's like for music to thrill or threaten.
Nothwithstanding that, he was obviously a great musician and he could do a lot of neat things with songs. I've never been a huge fan of the Beatles original,* but this cover of Things We Said Today is the dog's unmentionables. I love how he interprets the main melody.
* Though like everything else, the new remaster sounds fantastic.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Listen to TRACY JACKS by Blur.
About a month ago, I was thinking a little bit about what to do about this year's Christmas CD, since I haven't really dug into any new music or genres this year like I have in the past (country, Jamaican, South American, rare groove, or what have you). So I had the thought that maybe I could go back to Britpop, since it's been a long, long time since I've listened to any of it or since anyone has really thought about it. And we know Britpop (and we're talking the prime-to-decadent period from 1995 to 1997) pretty well. I thought getting Corbett & John on board to help put something together might be fun.
But, I never did anything about it, except load up this track, which is probably my favorite non-obvious Blur track, and therefore one of the best tunes ever recorded.
Listen to YOU'LL NEVER WALK ALONE by Wing.
I was watching the games last night on tape delay, and since I was at work later than expected, I only watched the last part of Liverpool's match, after Lyon's equalizer. With Manchester United coming up this weekend, you can't even be sure they've hit bottom.
Well, their problems are there for all to see, so instead let's talk about the music. After this weekend's loss, I figured I needed to freshen up our collection of anthems, so I went through my notes and archives and uploaded another 15 versions -- so don't worry, we'll make it through the end of 2009 at least!
One of the links I came across was to a woman named "Wing." I dutifully downloaded the album, and hit play......................................And I must say, this is possibly the worst thing I've ever heard in my life! Really, listen to it! ('hey, this milk is rotten, have a drink!')
It is comically, comically poor. So I had to find out a little more about this lady. At first I figured that "Wing" was google proof, and I wasn't even sure if that was the name of the artist. It really sounds more like a karaoke mistake than a singer.
But it turned out to be pretty easy to track her down. I found a link to her personal web page where the album on which this song appears is for sale. Except it's SOLD OUT! Sold out! Seriously, listen to this tune again and tell me how it's sold out!
I went to her "about" page and it all started to make a little sense. Wing is a woman from Hong Kong who emigrated to New Zealand who loves to sing, apparently. So much so that she managed to record herself performing. And somehow, this music got a following, traveled across the Pacific, and was picked up by the fellas from South Park, who wrote an entire episode about Wing and her music. Here's a clip from that episode, and keep in mind that the singing on that clip is actually Wing! The worst singer on earth, and she's now selling out jazz clubs in New York. What a wonderful and odd world we live in.
So, the moral of the story is, be careful Man United! Stranger things have happened.
Sunday, October 18, 2009
Listen to YOU'LL NEVER WALK ALONE by The Crowd.
My sympathy for Liverpool is increasing as they reveal themselves to be less than what I thought they might be. It's clear by now that they're not challenging for the title. They are 5 or 6 teams that look better than them at the moment, including Sunderland, who thrashed them 1-0, albeit with the aid of a ridiculous goal that hit a beach ball on the way in and never should have stood.
Straight after the Liverpool match (which I kept an eye on as I was watching Arsenal beat Birmingham), I took in the OU-Texas game, and couldn't shake the feeling that being a Liverpool fan is a little bit similar to being an Oklahoma fan these days. Undoubtedly one of the most storied clubs/programs in the sport, a lot of recent success but a lot of frustration recently too. Both have men in charge who are undoubtedly competent but can rub outsiders the wrong way. When Rafa's scrappers scrapped the Champions League trophy, there was a lot of placing of Rafa on a pedestal with Shankly and Paisley by a lot of Liverpool fans, which seemed premature at best to me. To me, Rafa's Liverpool will always flatter to deceive.
Until pretty recently, I would have rejected any comparisons with my football team. Bob Stoops won the National Championship in 2000 and it felt like for a long time that the next one was only a matter of time. At least for me, I've never really questioned that he was the man to do it (I'm sure the bloom was off the rose a long time ago in the hothouse talk radio atmosphere back home, though). You have to wonder, though, even accounting for the bad luck he's gotten (Bradford's bad shoulder being the equivalent of a bouncing beach ball in the Liverpool game), whether this Oklahoma program is going to make it back to the top any time soon. Having said that, I'm almost a little relieved we won't suffer another title game debacle this year. My nerves couldn't handle that again!
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Listen to SPLASH 1 by 13th Floor Elevators.
This week is OU-Texas week, which has made...no difference to my life this year. Last season, I was pretty good about following every game where possible. This year, well, you might accuse me of being a fair weather fan, because we've lost a couple of games and I haven't even seen any of them, except for the Tulsa game. There are a few extenuating circumstances -- I was at a wedding for our first loss, I had a dinner engagement for the Miami loss, we've not been on free TV a couple fo the weeks, but it is what it is. I half-jokingly said after the Florida game last year that I was boycotting the team for awhile, but it's turned out to be true.
Anyway, why are we discussing this? I have a song for you, by Austin's own 13th Floor Elevators, clearly the best thing to come out of that town ever. But my digression has used up all of my blogging energy, so you'll just have to be in the dark about the song. Roll on Saturday.
Friday, October 9, 2009
Listen to O MY SOUL (ALTERNATE VERSION) by Big Star.
So you're in luck, since this song is awesome. I've always been really partial to the original version of this song, though it's hard to consider it among the very best Big Star songs. Which are about melody, and this one is about raw power. It puts the power in power pop, for sure. Anyway, I'm not gonna babble on long, I just thought some of you might like to hear it, from the new boxed set.
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Listen to FIRED UP by Moe Tucker.
I don't know what it emans when you get confused about days of the week. Should I be happy that I was thinking it was Tuesday instead of Wednesday? Does that mean I'm a day closer to the weekend (yippee!) or that I wasted a few hours operating under the assumption that the entire work week laid in front of me (boo!)
I wish I was fired up, pissed off, instead of just vaguely confused. Maybe the song will help?
Anyway, one of my oldest friends from junior high, Meredith Meyer, went to L.A. and became a famous singer, and she's in New York next week for a few shows. I'll probably bug some of you directly about going out Sunday night (the 25th) for her CD release party (if I haven't bugged you already). Click here for more info.