Monday, May 25, 2009

"don't buy the black album. I'm sorry."

Those of you who know me personally are likely aware by now that my hetero life partner and I are throwing a party for the 25th Anniversary of the Purple Rain album and film in Pittsburgh next month:

One of the good/bad things about this is that it's become an opportunity (read: excuse) to fill some holes in my Prince and Friends vinyl collection. I've been collecting Prince wax for about 10 years, though I've only become fervent about it in the last 5-7 years. It seems that I've gotten to the point where the items I don't have are those more difficult to come by/dangerously expensive pieces - The Gold Experience, Come, the so-called Love Symbol album - and the legendary Black Album.

I won't go into too much detail, as it would be redundant with what I am about to share. But for those of you that don't know, in short Warner Bros. was set to release The Black Album in 1988, and Prince pulled the plug at the very last minute. All copies were too be destroyed, but of course some WB staff snagged copies, and it went on to be the most heavily bootlegged album of all time. Pretty impressive, considering the history of albums like Smile and The Basement Tapes. Prince eventually let Warner Bros. release the album in 1994 as a contract filler, albeit in limited edition.
You can still find CD copies on Amazon etc. for fairly reasonable prices. I'm not sure how many they pressed, but they couldn't have been too limited, as I was still able to buy mine at the store (the now defunct Blockbuster Music) circa 1997-8.

Recently a friend mentioned that he saw a copy of The Black Album at Jerry's Fine Used Records in Pittsburgh. Sadly, by the time I made it there, someone else had nabbed it. So I've been poking around on eBay, and there are occasionally vinyl copies available. Some bootlegs from the late 1980s, some promos of the official 1994 release. Differentiating between them can be tricky, which brings me (finally!) to the purpose of this post.

In poking around for The Black Album on wax, I came across this very informative and detailed site: There's a great overview of the history, the various editions that were produced, etcetera. Very cool and interesting site for the Prince geeks out there. That is all, funky friends.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Friday Funk

Chaka behind the kit. Who knew???

Funky ass groove. Have a funky 3-day weekend!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Review: Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band - Mellon Arena Pittsburgh, PA, 5/19

When Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band announced a reunion tour in 2000, I knew I had to go. My sister and I were treated to an amazing show with a solid setlist. I've seen Springsteen only once in the interim, on the Seeger Sessions tour, which was a totally different, yet equally amazing show. I stupidly passed on an opportunity to see the Devils and Dust tour with friends of mine in Minneapolis, and I could never make it to any of the Magic shows. So I was interested in seeing Bruce and the band again, but didn't view it as a necessity until 90 seconds or so into their halftime show at this year's Super Bowl (which as a Pittsburgher, it is my duty to remind you that the Steelers won).

I'll be honest, my interest in big arena/stadium shows has waned drastically over the last five years or so. But shit, it's Bruce Springsteen! And tickets were relatively affordable ($50!).

I know in my heart that rock and roll never starts on time, but I felt it necessary at 7:25 that my sister and I quickly drink our third and final round of Long Islands. And of course, the 7:30 set time meant 8:25. But type-A music fans like me can't take the risk of missing any stage time.

I've been glancing at the setlists on the always informative Backstreets and keeping up with "Outlaw" Pete Icke's Springsteen Tour Tracker to keep up with song debuts.

Leading up to the concert, my sister asked me to make her a Bruce mix (I don't know why, every time I've been in her car for the last 6 months she's listening to E Street Radio). I approached the mix as no hits, though fan favorites were fair game. Anyhow, in compiling it, I was struck that you'd be hard pressed to put together a "bad" Springsteen setlist. That was definitely borne out at tonight's show in Pittsburgh.

While Max Weinberg's son Jason has been playing portions of the set on most dates, such wasn't the case tonight, I'm happy to report. With no disrespect to the young Weinberg, the E Street Band is one of those groups where each member truly has their own unique personality that shines through onstage. Also, I'm a drummer at heart, and it's Mighty Max Weinberg. Patti Scialfa was absent, however.

"Badlands" was an unexpected opener for me, but what a way to kick it off. Pulling out the big guns straight out of the gate! We were then treated to "Candy's Room," which was even more leftfield, but a great old nugget from Darkness on the Edge of Town - the title track of which he also played. I expected "Johnny 99," but it's one of my favorites, and we got a rousing full band rendition. After a cover of The Young Rascals' "Good Lovin'" (which Little Steven would surely call "one of the coolest songs ever recorded" on his radio show ), Bruce collected signs from the audience. After proclaiming "WE'VE NEVER PLAYED THIS NEXT SONG BEFORE!" the band launched into Dylan's "Like a Rolling Stone." A very honest rendition, I might add. Other highlights included "The Promised Land," "I'm on Fire," and the always crowd-pleasing "Born to Run."

Kicking off with Pittsburgh native Stephen Foster's "Hard Times," the encore never let up, with "Thunder Road," "Land of Hopes and Dreams" and "American Land" rounding out the set before bringing Joe Grusheky (another Pittsburgh native) on stage for an energetic "Glory Days." After an extended run through of "Mony Mony," I held out hope for a second encore. Alas, the houselights went up quickly. Still, a great show and I'm certainly not disappointed.


1. Badlands
2. Candy's Room
3. Outlaw Pete
4. Jackson Cage
5. She's The One
6. Working On A Dream
7. Seeds
8. Johnny 99
9. Youngstown
10. Good Lovin'
11. Like A Rolling Stone (audience pick)
12. Darkness On The Edge Of Town (audience pick)
13. Waitin' On A Sunny Day
14. The Promised Land
15. I'm On Fire
16. Kingdom Of Days
17. Lonesome Day
18. The Rising
19. Born To Run

20. Hard Times
21. Thunder Road
22. Land Of Hope And Dreams
23. American Land
24. Glory Days (w/Grushecky)
25. Mony Mony

Next up on the concert calendar: Santigold!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

One of the few saving graces from a pretty shaky dance night.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Friday Funk

Newer jam. When I first heard this track last year, I wasn't so into it. But a recent glimpse at the video on late night MTV (Holy crap, I saw a video - a GOOD video - on MTV?!!) had me groovin'.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Current Obsession

Around Christmas, I saw someone do this at karaoke, which reentered it into my consciousness. A week or so ago, I put the video on repeat for probably 10 plays. The other day, a recent performance of it was on VH1 Classic. I have to say I'm generally not much for Stevie Nicks, but this song is kind of aces.

And I think I've got the final word on Prince's involvement:

"By the way, Prince did come into the studio the night I called him and told him about the song, and he played incredible synthesizer on it...and then he just walked out of my life."

Sounds about right.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


Friends - head on over to Ick Music to check out my review of the New York Dolls' new disc 'Cause I Sez So, which streets today.

In addition to all of the other goodies Pete, Michael and all of the other Ickies have for you, you should definitely check out Pete's Springsteen Tour Debut Tracker, to see what surprises the Boss is dusting off at each show as they happen - including links to listen to some of the selections from the "Stump the E Street Band" portion of th shows, which recently have turned up "96 Tears," "I Wanna Be Sedated" and "London Calling!!!!!" Only 2 weeks until the Pittsburgh show!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Pittsburgh Marathon Mix

Yesterday was the Pittsburgh Marathon. I'd been looking forward to this for a number of reasons. 1) After Baltimore, I was amped to have another go at 26.2 2) It's PITTSBURGH! The Steel City! The City of Bridges! The City of Champions! And my hometown! I've been fighting what I think is a mild case of plantar fasciitis for a few weeks, which killed the tail end of my training and made me nervous as to how the race would go. But it went, and with little problems. The biggest difficulty was the endurance of the last 6 or so miles, especially given that I've been running so little for the last few weeks (and my training topped out at 18 miles). But I did it, and I'm pleased as punch (and sore as hell). Baltimore was significant because it was the first (and you never forget your first). Pittsburgh was special because it's home. We pounded through many of my favorite neighborhoods, through my undergraduate alma mater and over a few bridges (unavoidable in this town). So despite it being difficult on account of the spotty training and some moderate rain, it was a pretty stellar day.

But enough with all of that. What I'm here to share is what I listened to for 26.2 miles. I've said it before and I'll say it again - I don't think that I could have done it without the music. So here's what made the cut for the Pittsburgh Marathon playlist:

1. Iggy Pop - Real Wild Child

I didn't realize until I was running that the last marathon mix also began with Iggy (that one was "Lust for Life"). Wasn't planned, but maybe Iggy Pop is good luck.

2. Ted Leo/Pharmacists - Where Have All the Rude Boys Gone?
3. Jet - Are You Gonna Be My Girl

Speaking of "Lust for Life," I know that the Jet song is so obviously a ripoff, but I think it's done well, and to be honest, it doesn't even bother me. I look at it as more of a pastiche than a blatant copy.

4. Hot Hot Heat - Talk to Me, Dance With Me
5. New Young Pony Club - The Get Go
6. CSS - Jager Yoga
7. Hyper Crush - Shes a Freak

I haven't listened to the Hyper Crush album (last year's The Arcade since August (I distinctly remember listening to it on a run during a visit to Portland, OR). I think that it can get tired after a while, but it was rather refreshing having not heard it for so long, and this was one of the first songs to really get me moving.

8. Simian Mobile Disco - Hustler
9. Crystal Castles - Crimewave
10. New Order - True Faith-94

11. Cut Copy - Hearts On Fire

I think I've played "Lights and Music" to death at this point, and this has taken its place as my go-to track from last year's In Ghost Colours. I love the little break that's sort of a quotation of a hundred late 1980s hip hop songs.

12. Kylie Minogue/New Order - Can't Get Blue Monday Out Of My Head

I needed a good Kylie track (when don't I?), and opted for this mashup, included on the recently released Boom Box remix compilation. I was very into mashups for a year or two when I first got to Iowa, but the novelty wore off. But with Kylie and New Order, how can you go wrong?

Cant Get Blue Monday Out Of My Head - Kylie Minogue

13. Daft Punk - Around the World

The monotony and solid beat were perfect for pacing.

14. Justice - D.A.N.C.E.

One of the few repeats from the Baltimore marathon mix.

15. T.I. - Swagga Like Us (Ft. Kanye West, Jay Z & Lil Wayne)

"Swagga-swagga like us."

16. Messy Marv - Get on My Hype
17. Dr Dre - Still D.R.E
18. Notorious B.I.G. - Notorious B.I.G. feat Lil Kim and Puff Daddy
19. Ol' Dirty Bastard - I Can't Wait
20. Spank Rock - What It Look Like
21. The Prodigy (feat. Kool Keith) - Diesel Power

I can't say that the Prodigy album is in heavy (or even moderate) rotation these days, but it still hits the spot on occasion. And this collaboration with Kool Keith remains one of, potentially THE highlight of their big album, The Fat of the Land. This was also roundabouts when it started raining. BOOOO

22. David Bowie - Dead Man Walking
I took a walk break when this song came on, then had a good chuckle and the serendipity.

23. Nelly Furtado - No Hay Igual
24. Rainbow Arabia - Omar K
25. M.I.A. - Jimmy
26. George Michael - Outside
27. Sheila E - Holly Rock

"Holly Rock" has become a running staple in the last 6 months or so. First of all, it's Sheila mothafuckin' E. Second of all, it rocks. I've never been able to confirm Prince's involvement in this track. The ASCAP database lists her as the sole writer, but there are so many Prince-esque elements (especially the sped-up guitar). I'll have to dig through those Prince books when I get back to Baltimore.

Sheila E - Hollyrock - Sheila E

28. Prince - Tick, Tick, Bang (original demo)
29. Prince - High
30. Prince - Chocolate Box

First Prince set! The 1981 demo of "Tick Tick Bang" is far more high energy and electro-based than what would surface on the Graffiti Bridge album 9 years later. "High" is a recent rediscovery from an unfortunately unreleased 2000 album. And "Chocolate Box," well - one of the hottest tracks from his latest effort.

Tick, Tick, Bang - Prince

31. Red Hot Chili Peppers - Suck My Kiss
32. Faith No More - Falling to Pieces

Back to the Rock. "Falling to Pieces" was the first song to which I found myself mouthing all of the lyrics. I probably seemed borderline schizo mumbling "somebody put me together" to myself.

33. Kiss - Parasite
34. Misfits - Where Eagles Dare
35. The Damned - Neat Neat Neat
36. The Clash - Police on My Back

Sandanista! - you never get old. "Running Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday Friday, Saturday, Sunday." Granted, I was not being chased by the police.

37. New York Dolls - Trash
38. The White Stripes - Girl, You Have No Faith in Medicine
39. The Stooges - Loose

Stay tuned to Ick Music for my review of the new New York Dolls album, which includes a rerecorded version of the classic "Trash." The White Stripes song was a perfect choice, and a great lead-in to The Stooges. Is "Loose" the best song on Fun House? I'm starting to think that might be the case.

40. Sonic Youth - Kool Thing

41. Anthrax - Bring the Noise
42. Public Enemy - Welcome to the Terrordome

PE's original of "Bring the Noise" is a superior recording, but Anthrax adds the edge that I needed to kick it up a notch. PE is another of my favorite artists all around for running, though I included fewer tracks this time around. No disrespect, boys.

43. The Roots - Boom!
44. Run-D.M.C. - Run's House
45. LL Cool J - Jack the Ripper
46. A Tribe Called Quest - Scenario
47. 2 Pac - Fuck the World
48. Digital Underground - Doowutchyalike

Hip hop set. It was difficult, but I refrained from shouting "WHO'S HOUUUUUUUSEE?????" out loud. The 2 Pac track - I figured that was how I'd feel at this point in the day (fairly accurate!). And DU, well, shit. Runhowyalike.

49. Janet Jackson - Control

A huge pickmeup. I almost went for "Black Cat," but "Control" won out. The full video for this was recently On Demand - featuring Jam, Lewis and Jerome?! Holy carp.

50. En Vogue - Free Your Mind
51. C+C Music Factory - Gonna Make You Sweat
52. TLC - What About Your Friends

Some early 1990s goodness. Oh, TLC. VH1 Classic informed me that yesterday was the anniversary of Lisa Left Eye Lopez' funeral. I might actually make a TLC post soon based on what I see as their stylistic similarities to Prince. No promises.

53. Bobby Brown - On Our Own

I recently read Don't Stop Believin': How Karaoke Conquered the World and Changed My Life by Brian Raftery. Awesome book, highly recommended. Raftery contends that "On Our Own" is an ideal karaoke song. I've had it on my list for years, but never got around to it. It is a tight jam, Ghostbusters II references and all. Maybe I should be sure to pull this one out at my next karaoke outing. "Y-y-ya know it."

54. Michael Jackson - Jam

Dangerous is NOT my favorite MJ album by any stretch. The ballads are horrible ("Heal the World," "Will You Be There," "Gone Too Soon"), and overall, the album doesn't hold up well, given it's extremely dated arrangements and production. But it has its nostalgic charms, given that Teddy Riley is at the helm, new jack swinging it all over the damn place. To that end, I will say that the album has some of the best running tracks in MJ's catalog, and "Jam" is up there for sure.

Michael Jordan, Heavy D, AND Kriss Kross? No, not dated at all!

55. Prince - Billy Jack Bitch (5:31)
56. Prince - Acknowledge Me (5:27)
57. Prince - Days of Wild (9:19)
58. Prince - Hot Thing (Extended Remix) (8:26)

More Prince, of course. I suppose "Jam" led me to follow it with "Acknowledge Me," which one could argue is Prince does New Jack Swing. "Days of Wild" is a little less dated, and was another song that I mouthed all of the words to. Hopefully nobody around me was paying attention as I said things like "Dont blame it on a jockstrap full of jizz." "Hot Thing" is a dance classic, and this 12" mix is pure fire. PURE FIRE.

Hot Thing (Extended Remix) - Prince

59. Chromeo - You're so Gangsta

Just like Baltimore, this song somehow disappeared. WTF?

60. Lee "Scratch" Perry - Pum-Pum

It was probably inappropriate for me to be singing this to myself.

Pum Pum - Lee Scratch Perry

61. Santogold - Say Aha
62. Pixies - Broken Face
63. Buzzcocks - What Do I Get?

Skipped. I needed to get to a high octane power song. Ergo:

64. Hedwig and the Angry Inch - Tear Me Down

This was just what the doctor ordered. Loud guitars, thumping drums, and a dash of glam. This was a swift kick in the pants, and put me into gear more than I had been at this point.

Enemies and adversaries
they try and tear me down
You want me, baby, I dare you
try and tear me down.

Ah hell, just take a listen!

Tear Me Down - Stephen Trask

65. Guns N' Roses - Live and Let Die

This kept it going. Remember how Axl used to run all around the stage? That's what I was thinking of in the final stretch while this played. The bombasticness (I think I just made up that adjective) of the song did me well running down Penn Ave. in the Strip.

66. Van Halen - And The Cradle Will Rock...
67. Van Halen - Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love
68. Van Halen - Panama

All great songs, but skipped. I figured I had one song left, and had to get to my VH standby:

69. Van Halen - Unchained

This is it, the tune that took me across the finish line. "Unchained" has been a running staple for about a year, when one of my best pals praised VH as some of the best cardio music on the planet. He was right.

I had 13 more songs planned just in case, but fortunately didn't need them. Next time!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Friday Funk

Apologies for the absence. In and out of town, etc. etc. Nevertheless, back on track this week with some electro-funk and one of my favorite videos from the '90s (pardon the subtitles - the non subtitled version had embedding disabled. Booooo)!