Friday, February 27, 2009

Friday Funk



Re: 2:27-2:29 - I tried to flip my sister like this once and she landed on her head. I guess that makes us even for the time we were dancing to Thriller and I cracked my head open.

Keep it funky,

-Gonzo

Saturday, February 21, 2009

DEATH OF MUSIC

I've been on a bit of a Blondie kick this week, which is always a good time. The other evening, I was listening to their first LP (self-titled). When putting the disc back away, I pulled out the sleeve to find this:



The album was released in 1976 on Private Stock Records, although the copy I have turns out to be a reissue from 1982 on Pickwick (with the blessing of Chrysalis, Blondie's label at the time).

I was quickly reminded of the PRMRC hearings from 1985. The focal issue there of course was lyrics and album artwork deemed "offensive" by a bunch of Senators' wives, but another issue raised was a proposed "cassette tax,' meant to curb piracy. On both issues, Frank Zappa's eloquent testimony is always worth revisiting (it's worth your 16 minutes if you haven't seen/read it before):




I once wrote a paper on Zappa and the PMRC for a rhetoric class as an undergrad, which would probably horrify me to read now.

But I digress.

Upon seeing the Home Taping graphic, first I chuckled. Then I pondered the ridiculousness of it. I mean really, I still have a few tapes, and occasionally even make tapes (for occasions/mixes that I want to draw on my vinyl collection). Tape quality degrades so quickly, I just can't get over that this was viewed as piracy, a kind of threat to the vitality of the music industry.

But as a friend of mine commented upon me sending him the photo, "a strange statement of both how things have changed and how they've stayed the same."

Of course, the difference between these two contexts is that there is now the possibility to copy CDs as lossless files, wherein all of the quality of the original disc is retained. Even so, let's be honest, piracy isn't going to/in the process of killing music, despite what you may have seen on television. [Here is where I would insert the commercial that aired during the Grammys in 2004 - you know, of a club scene losing its power because a girl is downloading music at home?] Ideally, it will be the end of the music industry, or at least as we know it. In a sense, artists don't *need* the industry anymore. The buzz created by blogs, MySpace etc. is incredibly powerful. Of course, there's also less of a filter, which one could argue is good or bad. Good because you have access to a seemingly infinite number of artists. Bad for the same reason - you may have to wade through a lot of crap to find good music.

But in a sense, hasn't that always been the way? The difference now is that you don't need to rely on the culture industries (hello, Adorno!) to tell you what you should be listening to. Sure, not being tied to a major label denies you access to other important things - radioplay, large concert venues, TV exposure, major press (the current TicketMaster debacle illustrates this well). But you know what? Those industries are all in a similarly dismal state. We've been saying it for years, but I really feel that we are on the verge of the music industry's collapse. And really, the only people that's going to hurt is the music industry itself.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Podcast #4: Remebering 120 Minutes!



This time around, the podcast remembers the centerpiece of MTV during the so-called "alternative years," 120 Minutes! 120 Minutes ran from 1986-2000 (later revived on M2 as Subterranean), showcasing so-called "alternative music." Sure, that flimsy genre got a lot of play on MTV during the early/mid 1990s anyway, but 120 Minutes went beyond the big hits - album cuts, classic cuts, weird bands you never saw on the air during the day, oh, and for a spell, Kennedy:



I won't lie, I had a crush on her that I could never explain.

Any how, suit up, and dig in to my tribute to 120 Minutes (which actually, clocks in at 118:44, but cut me some slack, eh?).

Don't forget to check out 120 Minutes Archive - a disturbingly comprehensive storehouse of information on 120 Minutes.

And as always, share your thoughts/reactions/reminiscences of staying up late on sunday nights in the comment section!

Listen to Podcast #4!!!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Friday, February 6, 2009

Monday, February 2, 2009

A brief commentary on the Springsteen Halftime Show



Halftime shows are always a bit of a crapshoot. It seems to me that these productions have become higher calibre in recent years. I certainly don't claim to be a Super Bowl nut. For me, no Steelers = no sale. But in those off years, I often at least watch the halftime show, for good or ill.

I was pretty confident that the E Street Band would pull it off. They've long had a reputation as one of the best live shows out there, and Springsteen's catalog has a number of strong songs that would suit the occasion. In fact, I found this set a little more difficult to predict than the Stones' show a few years back (during ANOTHER Steelers win, I might add!). In the end, Bruce chose a set of three crowd pleasing anthems and the requisite "new song" - all executed bombastically well.

Last week, as Pete at IckMusic noted, Springsteen announced another slew of tour dates. DC and Pittsburgh were both on the list. I thought about it briefly. I saw the E Street reunion tour in 2000 and the Seeger Sessions tour a couple years ago. Both were excellent. Anyhow, within 5 minutes of the halftime set, my sister and I were exchanging text messages saying "we should totally get tickets" (which went on sale this morning). When a halftime show is good enough to convince you to buy (reasonably priced, I might add) tickets to a rock show, the band has done their job.

I had the pleasure of watching the game in a movie theater/bar in Pittsburgh. The vibe was already intense, with the liquor flowing and the Steelers taking a 10 point lead by the end of the first half. Throw Springsteen on the stage, and we partied as if we were on the field, singing, dancing, jumping around, and general camaraderie. It reminded me of when I saw Stop Making Sense in a theater a few years ago in the sense that as much as was possible, it felt like that theater captured the concert environment during Springsteen's performance.

All in all, I was pleased. More pleased about the Steelers' win, but that goes without saying. And we were able to score tickets this morning, so come May 19, we'll be rocking out once again.

Take home point: the best halftime show in recent memory, save for Prince two years ago.