Regiolanthe-Blue Nile are/were excellent-Paul Buchanan stays near me-I see him a lot-I read a while back (2/3 years ago?)that they had recorded a new album but problems with Warners meant it's tied up in red tape.
Hats could do with a polish up on CD now but doubt if that will happen.
They haven't actually sold that well in the UK-not major anyway and I think they are becoming increasingly less involved with music.
Paul Moore is working full time in child care beside one of my friends.
Anyway good recommendation-Peter Gabriel is a big fan and they've appeared on his and Robbie Robertson records.
Chris Smither just went thru my neck of the woods again and if you get a chance he is always a great live show. Have to like guy with guitar in his lap. He does a blues based on Lighting Hopkins and John Hurt. http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/B00004U02M/qid=1065206296/sr=8-2/ref=sr_8_2/002-3290392-5668016?v=glance&s=music&n=507846
Clueless - Thanks for the input. I have to say - that even listening over $5 headphones and streaming audio, the recording sounds pretty amazing. Close your eyes and he could definitely be sitting right in front of you (and you don't have to be choking on the cigarette smoke while enjoying it).
Ah well - the fickle British musical public strikes again! I must say that I'm sorry to hear that the Blue Nile are imbroiled in yet another red tape mess (that's what happened to Peace At Last, right?). With any luck, they'll take charge of their own musical destiny to release the "new" one before they become completely disenchanted with the industry.
Anyway - why don't you put a work up for AOW consideration! No Bob Dylan, 'cos you've got quite a thread going on about his remastered ones anyway!
BTW - an RIP for Matthew Jay, one of those up-and-coming sensitive troubadours from your shores (Welshman, I believe). Only one release, but it showed promise.
Clueless - I enjoyed the little snippets I could hear on Amazon. Thanks for the recommendation, I'm going to pick that one up. If you like a guy with a guitar, then you may appreciate Richard Buckner. A friend of mine introduced me to him recently and I can't stop playing his two acoustic offerings:Bloomed
and Devotion and Doubt
He's got a bit of a country twang to his music and vocals, but the lyrics are intelligent and insightful, and the songs are just beautiful...somewhat soft and meloncholy but with an edge somehow. I believe he's from Vancouver, BC.
David Vest and the Willing Victims-- Way Down Here.
Amazon link: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/B00009ZYB8/qid=1065213329/sr=8-1/ref=sr_8_1/104-6316972-6201553?v=glance&s=music&n=507846
The guitarist's tube amp buzzes a bit through this sparsely recorded live set. Buy it anyhow. I bought it and about wore it out, rested it for a week or so, brought it back out last night. Phenomenal blues set-- from piano heavy boogie woogie blues to some more traditional stuff. Paul Delay on harmonica and backup vocals-- his trigger work on track 3 is amazing, and Vest's lyrics show his gift for political commentary (whether you agree with him or not) as evident from his writing available on line if you visit http://www.rebelangel.com
You can buy the CD off his rebelangel site, too if you don't like to support Amazon.
Great thread- let's see some more contribution --
Sorry I forgot to make my link clickable. If you can't handle the cut-n-paste--David Vest & the Willing Victims featuring Paul Delay
Oh, and by the way, Vest plays with Paul Delay's usual band now at Paul's gigs, having replaced their departed horn player-- they played my wedding reception. Yes, I am gifted with both excellent taste and good luck, but that's not the point. The point is, Book them from Paul Delay's website http://www.pauldelay.com
and you'll get Vest's piano work on Paul Delay favorites AND they play most of the material off of "Way Down Here", too-- it's like 2 for 1 and their cost to play a gig in the NW is remarkably low for the level of talent (Vest, + the greatest living harp player Delay + a great guitarist Pete Damann- they already shared a bass player). Can't reccommend them highly enough for any function where you might want a killer live band.
* I am in no way affiliated with any of these guys. Just love their work.
I recently completed my collection of The Can by winning two auctions from one seller "Soundtracks" and "Unlimited Eddition" 2lp.
I have near all their albums. For more info on this band visit www.spoon.com
Regiolanthe-well I buy an awful lot of music-I'm usually digesting so much I hardly have time to post about it though I make an effort to give a review of the year.
The new Bowie (Reality) seems good-not earth shattering possibly more concise than Heathen but I think both these albums are his strongest work(at least in parts) for a long time.......a list of what I'm listening to is never ending.
Well hopefully for while yet...
Here is one that many of you would enjoy:
Dr. John, Duke Elegant
This is not a new album, (2000,) but is a great New Orleans funkified salute to Duke Ellington. A great way to get a taste of jazz without getting out of your comfort level. (If the shoe fits...)
See what you think,
How do you make a link to a website like you gentlemen did?
I am going to pitch for The Trash Can Sinatras. They also suffer from lack of prolificness (if that is an actual word) but all three of their albums Cake, I've Seen Everything, and A Happy Pocket, all recorded at their own (now former) studio Shabbey Road, are lyrical, musical and sonic wonders. Their home page
is a great source for live songs and amazon
has some studio samples. Any fan of modern British music should enjoy this.
The Mavericks have a new disc The Mavericks
So do The Bangles Doll Revolution
Both have a retro 60s feel and well worth the wait.
Allan, the mavericks are a very nice band, Raul Malo has one of the bests voices around, I was lucky enough to catch them this month at the Austin City Limits Music Festival and they put on a fun show.
Danvetc - I don't know if anyone has pinged you off this thread, but to answer your question about markup tags that are used to create hyperlinks. You can read all about how to do it on the Audiogon instructions Here
If I tried to explain it using examples they would come out as markup tags in the text here so just go to the link above.
Thank you, Marco. It seems many Agoners are quite tolerant of stupid questions.
Second vote for a worthy purchase - especially their debut "Cake" (listen to the snippets of Obscurity Knocks and Thruppeny Tears). Somehow, the middle half of "I've Seen Everything" loses its impetus for me, although I love both "Orange Fell" and "The Earlies" (at the end). I don't have "A Happy Pocket" - but may buy it sometime.
Of course, I'm partial to this brand of britpop - YTMV. Another Scots band that I enjoy a lot is the Del Amitris.
Really unique sound - enjoyed those snippets quite a lot. Have heard of Raul Malo as a solo artist, but not the group. "Shine on Me" is great uptempos stuff! As a bonus - sounds like some of the tunes are quite romantic - one of those CDs you could buy for your wife as a surprise gift.
Dr John - Danveetc recommendation
Also enjoyed the sampler from DJ.
I have his "Television" album, which is alright (esp. the "Thank you for lettin' me be mice elf" cover; which brings back the "Right Place/Wrong Time" groove that seems to be the only Dr. John song you hear on mainstream radio).
I like what I hear from the "Elegant" album more than the remainder of "Television" though. Fascinating to hear NwOrl funk reinterpretations of the Duke songs I'm familiar with (Don't Get Around Much, Don't Mean A Thing, Mood Indigo)
So much great stuff; so little money!!!
Ben Campbell -
Wish I had your particular problem (too much to listen to!). I was at a friend's last night, and I'd guess he has about 1500 CDs and purchases at least 3-5 a week. I'm sure his album collection (much judiciously acquired in yard sales) also numbers in the 1000's. BTW - he played a few tracks from the remastered "Freewheelin" - and yes - AMAZING presence in the recording.
Myself, I'd guess I had about 350-400 CDs, about 150 albums purchased in HS/college, and 100 or so tapes (mainly made in college). Not enough jazz or classical, or female vocalists. And yes - more than one good/great artist in my collection is poorly represented by a single "greatest hits" collection.
However, much as I wish that I had the money and time to satisfy my musical obsessions - it ain't going to happen.
That's why I thought this thread might be useful for the more typical music fan (not that I think Audiogon members are "typical" music fans). A personal recommendation of a single work (with the added bonus of hearing a few snippets) might actually sway me to buy an album!
I hope that this would become a living/ongoing thread that doesn't OVERWHELM the reader with a list of great artists/works, but instead offers a reasonable sampler of selected works that they may not hear from mainstream sources.
As an aside about music exposure -
I'm really enjoying my experience with Internet radio. The stuff I hear on BBC6 is such a fantastic change from the homegenized radio playlists here in the US. I'm in the Northeast and listen to WXRV and WBOS - which, at first, seemed refreshing - but now seem as repetitive and shallow as any other station. Their rotation seems to get narrower all the time, and their "deep" album cuts might actually hit the second most popular track on an album instead of the first. Blecch... I do listen to the local college radio on occasion, but you have to put up with a bunch of insufferable crap to hear some of the good stuff as well. So, I'm glad that I finally took advantage of the Internet connection at my workplace to start listening over the web ... get to hear a lot of artists with no/little US exposure, and the DJ's seem to have a lot more variety in their playlists. Yes - a few "current" tracks get a bit more play, but it's never seemed repetitive. Yesterday's playlist from the currently playing DJ is here
Okay ... giving CPR to my own thread, my second AOW is the greatest hits compilation from my previously nominated underestimated artist/group - NRBQ. Yes - I have more of their albums:
NRBQ: Peek-a-Boo: The Best of NRBQ (1969-1989)
. The five tracks in the music sampler are some of their early works
You can listen most of the tracks from the second disk and some more of the first at the folowing MSN Link (the third album down)
Note that the play list given on the web application is actually mixed up/wrong/repeats itself. Actual play order as you listen is as follows:
Me and The Boys / You Can't Hide/ Never Take The Place of You / Feel You Around Me / Cap'n Lou / Things To You / That's Alright / Rain at the Drive-in / Ridin' In My Car / Still In School / Crazy Like a Fox (live) / Here Comes Terry (live) / Every Boy, Every Girl / Whistle While You Work / Wild Weekend / If I Don't Have You / Little Floater / (repeats - MATB, YCH, NTTPY, FYAM, CL, TTY) /12 Bar Blues / (repeats RATD) / A Girl Like That / How Can I Make You Love (repeats HCT, EBEG, WWYW, WW, IIDHY, LF)
Unfortunately - Looks like this may no longer be in print, but it's well worth seeking out. I have several other of their albums (NRBQ, Message for the Mess Age, Boppin' the Blues with Carl Perkins) - but this compilation is as good as it gets.
Okay - what to say about NRBQ. One - as you can see, they've been around a LONG time. A few minor line-up changes, and one big one - when guitarist extrordinaire "Big" Al Anderson left. As noted in another thread - they play hard and tour hard (I'd guess at least 100 gigs a year STILL), have a rabid grassroots fan base, are probably the best "bar band" going, have all sorts of critical acclaim and peer musician respect - but have never reached the critical mass to turn that into top-40/major label sales. They are - above all - great and versatile musicians.
A little bit blues/R&B (hence their name - New Rhythm and Blues Quartet), little bit rock-a-billy/gras-roots rock, little bit power pop and pure pop, and a whole lot of fun (had a professional wrestler as a manager for a while!).
NRBQ has MASTERED the art of the 3 minute pop song - each one of the tracks on this greatest hits album is a short, hooky gem. For the "power" tracks, check out "me and the boys" and "wild weekend". And they're also capable of producing simple, knock-you-off your feet love songs. No fancy lyrics - just straight-ahead sweet declarations of love (listen to "feel you around me", "never take the place of you", or "if I don't have you"). Great driving in a car on a summer day music, too -
What else - they've got a great sense of humor (some songs are positively juvenile - like "Girl Scout Cookies" or "I Want My Mommy" or "Howard Johnson's (got his HoJo working)" - Great to see a band that doesn't take itself too seriously, despite its abundance of talent.
If you've heard OF them, but not TO them - give them a try. They're just one of those groups - like the B-52's - that can drive away a funk and make you glad to be alive.
JVC XRCD Dire Straits Brothers in Arms. Couldn't believe the improvements over the original Warner Brothers or even the better sounding Vertigo disks.
Album of the Week, 3rd selection
Okay - a more recent releaseThe Wondermints - Mind If We Make Love To You
First exposure to this group was from a friend-made mix tape, with the great song "Tracy Hide" on it. Took me five or six years before I bought their self-titled debut. Far too long!
The Wondermints might best be known for backing up the Beach Boys' Brian Wilson (they appear on Pet Sounds Live and Brian Wilson live at the Roxy Theater), but I assume he approached them based on comparisons of aforementioned "Tracy Hide" to the gorgeous harmonies of the Beach Boys.
Brian Wilson sings back-up on two songs of "Mind If We Make Love to You" ("Ride" and "So Nice"), and you can't help but listen to "So Nice" and hear the Beach Boys influence.
Yes - the Wondermints come off as a group that are 20-30 years too late, but their obvious affection for 70's pop is refreshing. Nothing wrong with gorgeous harmonies and sharp melodic hooks by any means.
Besides the Beach Boys, another influence that comes to my mind is Todd Rundgren (think "I Saw The Light", "Love Is The Answer") in such songs as "If I Were You".
Perhaps the favorite track is the more stripped down sound of "Time Has You" - reminds me of the Allman's "Melissa" more than anything - soaring guitar, with a little orchestration in the backround. Worth the price of admission for this song alone. The sort of track you hit the "back" button on (well - for those of us who are into the digital thing). Not like anything else on the album, but great.
Side Note - wow. The interesting thing about listening to music on the internet is that you can actually play two tracks simultaneously - a little disconcerting, but playing "Melissa" and "Time Has You" at the same time cements the comparison for me.
About the only semi-lame track on the album is "Something I Knew" - which comes across as a too-lite pop confection.
Anyway - if you sometimes wish that they still made 'em like they used to, give The Wondermints a try. Excellent stuff -
Other two albums (debut - "Wondermints", and second or third "Bali" are also terrific. Bali has more late 60's/early 70's pyschedlic influences. Hidden Bonus track at the end of Bali is an apparently rejected demo for a Coors Lite jingle (Tap The Rockies ... Coors Lite). Weird snippet.
Back by popular demand :) - Album 4 from the stacks:Penguin Cafe Orchestra - Concert Program
First stumbled across them in college - bought "Broadcasting from Home" because of the cool cover and the salesperson said "they're kind of weird". Admit it - we've all done that at one time or another. Didn't buy any more of them until this "live concert" (not that you'd notice) retrospective that was released in 94/95ish. I think the creative force (Simon Jeffes) has since passsed away.
They're not easy to characterize - they'd probably be lumped under "New Age" in your local record store ... but if anything, they're "Old Age".
They are mini-orchestral (instrumentation includes cello, clarinet, viola, trombone, oboe, violin, piano, harmonium, cor anglais, string bass, as well as some guitar and piano). An occasional modern touch (the telephone as instrument). No vocals -
The music itself is seductive/hypnotic (or totally boring, depending on your POV). PCO seizes on a repetitive, simple melody in most of their songs - and although meandering hither and thither a bit, you can hear the same melodic undercurrents layered throughout. An orchestral rondo of sorts.
It's soothing in a - for lack of better words - primal sense. I think we all have an innate sense of pattern and rhythm, and can find it incredibly comforting and soothing. Well - that's the Jungian nerve that PCO hits - a melodic archetype that we all share; being taken back to the collective musical womb, as it were. (okay, so I'm spouting some new age mumbo jumbo myself, but I still wouldn't put the band in the bin with Yanni)...
Although the samples are mere 30-second snippets, you can get a sense of what I mean - especially from Air A Danser, Numbers 1-4, Air, and Perpetuum Mobile.
Not the sort of music that you pull out every day, but when you're in the mood for a musical "retreat" - for some pastoral melodies in a harried world, PCO may fit the bill.
Tom Ovans "Tombstone Boys, Graveyard Girls"
In the spirit of Halloween, I'm making this THE THREAD THAT WILL NOT DIE - with my Album 5 selection from the crypt...Epic Soundtracks - Rise Above
Do any of you have albums that you listen to rarely, yet when you do, you wonder why you don't pull them out more often? Well - this is one of those albums.
From AMG: Epic Soundtracks (real name Kevin Godfrey) was part of a punkish Brit 70's band (Swell Maps) that apparently was influential for Sonic Youth, Pavement, and the Lemonheads among others. In the early 90's, he made a re-appearance as a solo act - Epic Soundtracks - that met with critical (but not commercial) success. Died in '97 (apparent suicide) after releasing a few solo albums. A fitting nomination for Halloween, I suppose.
Rise Above, Epic's debut, is amazing in many ways - not the least of which is his voice. That's not to say it's great, but like Tom Waits, or Bob Dylan, or Randy Newman - there are just some people who draw you in with the world-weariness of their tone. Epic is a crooner of sorts, but in a charmingly flat, cigarette-ravaged, Brit-accented way.
The music (mainly acoustic) is distinctively English - a la Martin Newell or XTC or other fine purveyors. It's sparsely instrumented - mostly ES on the piano, backed by guitar, drums, cello, violin and a few horns.
On the whole, it has a mid-tempo, brooding melancholy that probably comes from standing in the English rain for far too long and drinking far too heavily, punctuated every now and then by a sort of stiff-upper-lip optimism that it'll be alright somehow.
Most Brit Pastoral Pop - "Farmer's Daughter"
60's Retrovibe - "Meet Me On the Beach"
Best late-night-at-the-bar-sound - "Ruthless", "Sad Song", "She Sleeps Alone/Love Fucks You Up"
Music for Doomed Romantics - "I Don't Know", "I Feel Good"
Okay - with 10-minutes to go at work I nominate (and only because it's here in the office) World Party's "Goodbye Jumbo" for album of the week, originally released in 1990 (although appears to be re-released with bonus tracks and media tracks).
And - sorry for all you folks who have eagerly followed the snippet links - there don't seem to be any websites with musical samples.
Okay - yes, Karl Wallinger has no problem channeling the Rolling Stones and the Beatles (although he goes a bit Bob Dylan on his latest album), but somehow he makes the homage his own.
Best known song off the album is "Way Down Now" - his Stone's inspired knock-off of Satisfaction with the Sympathy for the Devil woo-woo's(lyric - Some Faceless Git on the screen, the most honest honest man I've ever seen) -
But some how World Party succeeds in re-inventing in their own fashion.
Other notable songs are "Love Street", "Sweet Soul Dream", "Ain't Gonna Come Till I'm Ready" - all terrific stuff.
I was big fan of that album at the time (as was Paul MacCartney) and saw the subsequent tour,clearly their greatest moment.
It still stands up quite well.
Wallinger was previously in The Waterboys.
Jayhawks, Rainy Day Music. How did I miss these guys?http://www.towerrecords.com/product.aspx?pfid=2788038
Charlie I love The Jayhawks but hated this album.
It's very seldom I recycle my new purchases but I got rid of this.
It was also spotted by another Audiogon member that this recording distorts and it does.........
I just bought Rainy Day last week after hearing the Jayhawks on NPR. I have only been listening in my truck where I have been having a ball with it and think others might, as well. Maybe you should have saved it as a road listen. A quick listen on the big rig suggests a typical sibilant mike was used, which I can tame with my eq, thank goodness. Ben, what discs do you recommend from the Jayhawks?
Charlie-I'm a really big fan of Sound Of Lies although most purists enjoy Hollywood Town Hall and Tomorrow The Green Grass before Olsen left.
These are probably closer in tone to Rany Day Music with their Alt-country sound (but not as like The Byrds) but imho much better written,varied and with a deftness of touch missing from their last album.
Sound Of Lies is both rockier and a bit more out there but the key songs really are excellent and feature really great guitar lines.
This was also a break up album and as such appeared to be written from the heart (Louris was on the verge of divorce from his wife).
I think the new one song's are a bit lame lyrically as well.
RE - The Jayhawks. Danvetc, if you like the CSN(Y) sound of Rainy Day Music, you'd like The Thorns debut (Matthew Sweet - who also appars on RDM; Pete Droge; Sean Mullins). The album nails vocal harmony/instrumentation of CSNY and their wide-open spaces Americana sound. I haven't listened to it that much - but it's pretty impressive as a stylistic recreation. See http://www.towerrecords.com/product.aspx?pfid=2902676
Regiolanthe- your effort to keep this alive is commendable.
Following on the heels of the deafening applause for my first suggestion...http://www.johnnemethblues.com
No samples, but go buy Jack of Harps anyhow, on my word that it kicks butt. The album starts with John blowing harp in a Little Walter mode, moves to a shuffle, simmers, then boils on a couple of originals, suprises you with a way off-beat Sonny Boy Williamson tune (where john shows his huge vocal range singing male and female parts of the song) and mixes in some great original material like Love Zombie. The album sounds very retro, and there's no overdubbing or BS- the "tricks" are limited to John occasionally singing into his harp mic for effect. It was recorded in John's living room, but you will not care. Trust me.
John is a hell of a nice guy, and has honed his harp skills and vocals playing a ton of live gigs the last 15 years. I've watched him since his band was too young to play in bars. If you ever find his first album, Harmonica Frenzy- buy it-- Some Junior Wells covers, but he makes them his own and adds some great other tunes on that as well. DO NOT buy the album with the blue chicken foot on it- it was a jazz experimental thing John did and it's lousy. He even admits he doesn't like it now.
And in keeping with the thread's original intent, stuff that you can go hear samples of... http://www.michaelpickett.com/
Michael Pickett is a white guy from Canada, but he has the blues. For real. "Blues Money" and "Conversation with the Blues" are my favorites, his site has samples of these two albums and more. Great harp work, tight arrangements, very listenable. The recording is pretty good - it's not a standout recording, but it's not a lousy recording. This isn't an "audiophile approved recordings of crap music" thread, right? It's about the music.
AOW - Wk 7
Francis Dunnery - Let's Go Do What Happens
Francis Dunnery is a transplanted Brit, now living on a farm somewhere in Vermont. In his early days, he fronted a Prog Rock band called "It Bites" (which apparently were a UK success); as a solo act, he's known for his guitar skills (backing up Robert Plant and Carlos Santana, among others), and an attachment to Astrology (apparently once wrote an astrology column for Billboard)
Let's Go Do What Happens (1998) is his fourth solo release -
Some things I like about the album -
First - FD has an unabashed sense of spirituality and optimism in humanity that come out in his lyrics. Sort of reminds me of a movie I saw with the kids this weekend - Elf - wide-eyed wonder in a cynical world.
Second - Has some pulsating, guitar-and-drum driven power pop, especially "My Own Reality" which had some radio play, "Sunflowers" "Crazy is a Pitstop", "I-95" (great driving song, like you'd expect), and the closing piece of rebel rock - "Give Up Your Day Job" - lyric excerpt below:
"Children has society got you by the scruff of the neck
Have they got you all pumped up on prozac
Has the government got you thinking that they really care about you
Have you stopped listening to your own inner voice
by watching all that disaster TV
Well I have a message for you, well I have a message for you amen
Tune in, turn on and smash it all up, because nothing really matters
Like you think it does anyway"
The album certainly mellows out a bit - "Perfect Shape" and "Crazy Little Heart of Mine" are mid-tempo jaunty love songs. At its most stripped down ("Home in My Heart" and "Revolution"), it's just the plaintive voice of FD and an acoustic guitar.
Another tune "Riding on the Back" (a song about destiny) is jazz tinged - with flute/flugelhorn/trumpet/trombone/sax and hammond organ. Great stuff.
On a twilight zone personal note - just happened to see that the backing trumpet/fluegelhorn player is Barry Danielian, whom I went to HS with. All-Eastern HS musician then, well-respected NY session man now (lots of work with Tower of Power, Spyro Gyra, and more).
Go out and buy Kathleen Edwards "Failer" cd. I first heard of Ms. Edwards on a compilation cd from Lost Highway records called "Lost and Found Vol.1" (this is a great cd in it's own right). She sings a song called "Hockey Skates" live on the Lost Highway cd. I was hooked. Her "Failer" cd contains this gem and many others. Her sound is kinda Beth Orton meets Ryan Adams. Great songwriting. I also just picked up the Stereophonics new cd and i'm now a HUGE fan of these guys.
Not to take anything away from the opinions but it certainly sucks how little choice there is for really moving music. I search for weeks in stores and online to scratch out a few good ones. Aren't there any trained young musicians anymore?
Okay - I'll bite. What qualifies as "moving music"? Are we speaking lyrically? Compositionally? Technique/musicianship? Scale (a la prog rock)? Norah? Eva? U2? Debussy?
Snook2, I've posted stuff I find "moving". It's not your thing, that's fine, post some of your favorites. I don't really like any of the stuff Regiolanthe has posted about, and it would appear that he's not really into what I like, but that's fine- to each his/her own. Maybe someone will add to this and I'll discover some new music, but we've already got threads about how lousy a lot of new music is.
I am still spoiled from the 70's when you walked into a record store in Philly or New york City and it would take an hour to get through the new releases for just that week. Lots of original music. I am not condemning anyones choices and agree with some mentioned as excellent music. Its all subjective. Just wish there were insurmountable amounts to choose from.
My album of the week is Dianne Reeves' "A Little Moonlight." Beautiful jazz vocals with acoustic trio backing her up.
Sort of off topic - but in response to Snook's comments on "New Releases" - I found it interesting that Sony Music (among others?) are urging artists to reduce the number of tracks on their CD's, because of the fear that the populace is regarding much of a CD's music as "Filler" and therefore would much rather download the few songs they like
News article below:
By Jeff Leeds
Los Angeles Times
Published November 18, 2003
In 1975, it took Bruce Springsteen just eight songs to bid farewell to his hot rodding younger days on "Born to Run," an album that marked his arrival as an American rock icon and went on to sell millions of copies.
These days, record executives are looking to The Boss' early brevity to reverse the music industry's three-year sales slump.
Music executives are prodding acts to limit the number of tracks on their CDs in a bid to raise fans' perceptions of the value of albums.
"There's been a tendency to overload CDs because the technology permits it," said Don Ienner, president of Sony Music U.S., which is leading the industry-wide push for shorter albums.
"The final choice will always be the artist's, but I feel and consumer research bears it out that the public thinks albums have too much filler. We all should be concerned about giving music buyers good value, whether they're getting eight, 10 or 20 songs."
Industry executives and plenty of pop-music critics have called for shorter albums for years, saying the emergence of digital compression two decades ago led to creative excesses that wouldn't have fit in the era of the vinyl record.
A vinyl album could hold about 40 minutes worth of music before sound quality was sacrificed; a CD can hold about 80 minutes. Critics say too many artists are using a CD's capacity to record marginal tunes, diminishing the value of the product in consumers' minds.
The shift to shorter albums could mean a major shake up. For years, every facet of the music business, from artists' record contracts to manufacturing operations, has been structured around sales of albums that wholesale for about $12 and can contain as many as 16 songs.
With the rise of digital music stores and file-swapping networks on the Internet, music fans have seized the power to buy or steal select tracks by an artist instead of purchasing the whole album.
As a result, industry executives say the labels may have to slash full-length album prices, as Universal Music Group did this year, or rewrite the industry's economics around shorter, cheaper CDs. The industry is fighting an estimated 15% decline in album shipments over the last three years.
Sony's view on album length, mentioned by Sony Corp. of America chief Howard Stringer at a corporate presentation in New York two weeks ago, is quickly becoming the buzz among artist representatives and rival labels.
People in the industry say some label executives have been telling artist representatives that a CD should have 10 or fewer tunes.
Many representatives are cautiously backing the idea, though they would be troubled by any cuts in artist royalties, which are tied to album prices, and songwriter royalties, which are paid on a per-song basis.
"People are asking, will artists be releasing one album that contains 16 songs every three years or will they be releasing six songs every year? We're really at this point in time when the whole landscape is shifting," said Simon Renshaw, co-head of the music division at management powerhouse the Firm, which handles such acts as the Dixie Chicks and Korn.
"I don't have a problem with shorter albums, but we all need to be vigilant about what this will mean."
Labels are coming under pressure from retailers that believe consumers will have an appetite for shorter, cheaper albums. Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world's biggest retailer, has pressed all five major record companies to test albums containing no more than seven songs, a collection the chain can sell for about $8.
Universal sold slimmed-down versions of top-selling albums by such acts as Ashanti and Sum 41 this year in Wal-Mart stores with mixed results. But at least two of the other major record companies EMI Group and Bertelsmann Music Group may begin offering such shorter recordings for sale early next year, sources said.
One major label chief who has been nudging acts to release fewer songs per album, and who spoke on condition of anonymity, said consumers' demands for lower prices had increased the pressure on the labels to reduce studio recording costs.
"If people want records for less," he said, "you've got to figure out a way to make them for less."
Although music executives believe consumers are more likely to bet on shorter albums, there are exceptions.
Outkast's "Speakerboxxx/The Love Below," a double CD containing more than three dozen tracks, has sold an estimated 1.5 million copies in seven weeks, one of the hottest sellers of the year.
Record labels have run into trouble when trying to shorten albums without slashing prices. In the mid-1980s, BMG's RCA Nashville division tried to limit all releases to eight songs, part of an effort to reduce studio recording costs and songwriter royalties. But the label continued selling them for about $15, and consumers revolted with a blizzard of angry mail. RCA removed the cap about six months later.
For their part, some artists began experimenting with shorter recordings before the push from label executives. Singer-songwriter Ben Folds, who has sold more than 1.5 million albums for Sony's Epic Records division, has released two five-song "extended play" recordings in recent months. The two recordings have sold about 20,000 copies combined, and Epic executives say they believe the recordings will help develop interest in the singer's full length album due early next year.
For Folds, who has been averse to the glitzy build-up surrounding most album releases, the extended plays mark the start of what he believes will be a cycle of near-constant issuing of short recordings.
"I think things are coming around my way," Folds said. The cycle of releasing longer albums every few years "is just over. The record companies don't exactly know how to sell that [shorter albums], but I think they're going to have to find out."
AOW - Week 8
Kirsty McColl's posthumous 2001 release Tropical Brainstorm
What do you get when you cross Cuban/Latin rhythms with the cheeky, acerbic, and sexy/earthy humour of a middle-aged British divorcee with a sultry voice? Well - the musical equivalent of Shirley Valentine, I suppose - that is to say, a simply glorious statement of liberation!
Kirsty McColl was the daughter of a famous folkie (Ewan McColl). Her solo career started in the late 70's/early 80's in the UK(notably the hit "There's a guy down the chipshop thinks he's Elvis"). She married producer Steve Lillywhite, and seemed to have slowed her career down, releasing a few albums in the late 90's/early 90's (I think "Titanic Days" had some play in the US); but then took a long hiatus before this - her last album - in 2001. Unfortunately, she was struck by a speedboat while swimming in Cozumel.
Tropical Brainstorm is part love song to the Carribean, part declaration of a newfound femininity and sexuality (I'm assuming after a nasty divorce), part paeon to her homeland of England.
I bought the album based on radio play of the catchy "In These Shoes" - but it's just smashing all the way through. She can be hilariously funny and incredibly moving at the same time - bittersweet, as much of the best in life is. Partial lyrics included for tunes, because they go hand-in-hand.
1. Mambo de la Luna - a love song to Cuban music.
"I know a land where they live for today
'Cause tomorrow is too far away
Maybe one day you will go there with me
And we'll dance underneath the ceiba tree"
2. In these shoes? - A sultry Salsa-ish romp, Love English Style
"I once met a man with a sense of adventure
He was dressed to thrill wherever he went
He said "Let's make love on a mountain top
Under the stars on a big hard rock"
I said "In these shoes?
I don't think so"
I said "Honey, let's do it here."
3. Treachery - Star stalks fan...
"Wherever he goes
I won't be too far behind
Just hanging around
Driving him out of his mind
I'm stalking a fan
He's gone to the record store
To buy a CD
By some other girl not me
He's taking her home
Getting her out of her box
And putting her on
And dancing around in his socks"
4. Here comes that man again - Cyber sex...
"Oh, here comes that man again
A car crash in my psyche
My curiosity's driving me
Yes here he comes again
Who'd have thought I'd have as much fun
With an anonymous Dutchman?
I never knew I had it in me
He says the camera is on and
Can I see him yet?
I say "Babe you look like a ghost
And sound like a Dalek to me"
So let's go back to the written word
Even though we both know it's absurd
Here comes that man again
Here comes that man again
Here comes that man again"
5. Autumngirlsoup - One of the touching ones, about being stuck in a loveless situation.
"I'm an autumn girl, flying over London
With the trees on fire it looks like home
I'm an autumn girl on the endless search for summer
Cause I need some love to cook my frozen bones
You needed something to get your teeth into
And in my voodoo kitchen you said
"I've got something to show you,
It's a recipe handed down from father to son
For a thousand years, and it goes with those hot salt tears."
6. Celestine - the monster from the Id inside of all of us:
"So many men, so many fights
So many parties and late nights
She plumbs the depths and hits the heights
She pretends that she can't hear me
She pretends she's nowhere near me
She just goes quiet and pretends that she's not in
But Celestine I know you're there
In your exotic underwear
And you are fixing up your hair now, Celestine"
7. England 2, Colombia 0 (Last Tango in some English bar)
"Oh you shouldn't have kissed me cause you started a fire
But then I found out that you're a serial liar
You lied about your status
You lied about your life
You never mentioned your three children
And the fact you have a wife
Now it's England 2 Colombia 0
And I know just how those Colombians feel
It is not in my nature to ever pick the winning team
Sometimes I think I'm happy then I remember it's a dream
Now it isn't in my nature to ever pick a winner
I always pick a bastard who would have me for his dinner*"
8. Nao Esperando - heartbroken in Brazil
"She's not waiting anymore
Não esperando seu amor
(She's not waiting for her love)
Now the sun is up the spell is broken
She's not waiting anymore
Não esperando seu amor
(She's not waiting for her love)
Now the sun is up the dream has flown away"
9. Alegria - Mostly a jungle fugue
"I close my eyes, another dream arrives
Deeper and deeper into the sweet water
Filling my senses with happiness and joy
Happiness and joy
Happiness and joy"
10. Us Amazonians - Reverse Neanderthal theory (women clobber men on the heads)
"He'll learn to hunt and I'll teach him to fish
We'll boil up our rice in a satellite dish
We'll plant cassava wherever we can
Us Amazonians always get our man
Us Amazonians know where we stand
We got kids, we got jobs, why do we need a man?
Us Amazonians make out alright
But we want something to hold in the forest at night"
11. Wrong Again - Love Stinks
" thought my karma might protect me
From any harm you might subject me to
That my heart could be ruled by my brain
So you took a little piece of me
Laid me open for the world to see
But if I meant so little to you
Why couldn't you just leave me be?
It wouldn't have made so much difference to you
But it meant the whole world to me"
12. Designer Life
"Who am I to criticise you?
Just a girl to twist the knife
Welcome to designer living
This is your designer life"
13. Golden Heart (US Bonus Track)
"I used to dance and
I knew romance till
A dagger of glass tore my world apart
But if you could hold me
When I am lonely
I'd love you back with a golden heart"
14. Things Happen (US Bonus) - Stripped down acoustic, with a nice Brazilian-ish guitar (a la Louis Bonfa).
"Every Friday night she rides the whole way over town
Just to see some stupid boy who never turns around
He never sees the girl whose dreams have told her he's the one
Still she gets excited whenever Friday comes"
15. Good For Me - US Bonus Track
She ends nicely on an optimistic note (after some pretty virulent tracks earlier). Guess that's why we all stay in the game of love; because we hope it can get better.
"I'll tell you a story of love lost and found
There's no-one else for me now you are around
And everyone can see that you are good for me
Cut me adrift in the bluest of skies
I'm so close to heaven, it was such a surprise
Now everyone agrees that you are good for me"
The enchanced CD also contains a video for Mambo De La Luna, shot on the streets of Cuba, with Kirsty lip-synching as she drives around in one of those old American classics.
Folks - this is great stuff. About as literate a singer as you're going to find this side of XTC, tropical horns and beats, and a REAL voice that can deliver the stings of the lyric, or immerse you in velvet.
My album of the week: Lost Dogs by Pearl Jam. The second cd sounds great.
I just picked up Bob Dylan's "Freewheelin'" in SACD stereo format. Whoa! This cd in either cd stereo or SACD is awesome sounding. Sounds like Bob's right in front of me with his guitar and harmonica just a strummin' and a singing.
Let It Be "Naked" is unbelievable too!