31 July 2002

late american idol predictions: i'm just going to get this in under the wire...
bottom three: nikki, christina, and ryan.
prediction: christina, even though she's been the best performer of the three. her epithet would be 'the quiet one' or 'the respectable one'; it'll also be her epitaph.
woman suing delta airlines over vibrator incident: airlines have been testing their security and they've found that they're still not uncovering all potential weapons; rest assured, though, that if you have something potentially mortifying in your bags, they will find it. and, oh, how they will laugh.
after several listenings, these are the songs i know i won't change my mind about on springsteen's the rising:
good: "lonesome day," "the fuse," "you're missing," "the rising"
bad: "mary's place"

now, the songs that, even as i write this, my opinion is changing w/r/t:
may only get better: "nothing man"
may only get worse: "countin' on a miracle," "let's be friends (skin to skin)"

this final grouping of songs is the most interesting. usually, prolonged exposure to a song will induce feelings either one way or the other and a position on said song becomes ossified; these songs i can see liking and then ultimately disliking:
"into the fire" -- i like the band's thump after the first chorus, but i can also foresee that the simplicity of the chorus -- "may your strength give us strength, may your faith give us faith, etc." -- may begin to grate.
"waitin' on a sunny day" -- seems rather lightweight, but i like the sound of the record, that e street band process. i could see its insubstantiality leading to future skips.
"empty sky" -- very spare and the chorus isn't particularly memorable, but i love the way the harmonica sounds, especially in contrast to the minimalist production.
"worlds apart" -- i wouldn't let sting, david byrne, paul simon or peter gabriel get away with this, but bruce is far more unabashed than any of those artists; and the guitar solos are incendiary.
"further on (up the road)" -- benefits greatly from its position on the album: following the lite-r&b of "let's be friends," it makes for a fantastic change of face. but there really isn't much to it, is there?
"paradise" -- right now, i like it a lot, a very harrowing solo performance. but it does sound quite a bit like "the sound of silence."
"my city of ruins" -- i'm warming to this new gospel-informed version but, at the same time, it does come across as overly refined, particularly when compared to the earlier version.

30 July 2002

very encouraging sign on top 40 radio: daniel bedingfield's "gotta get thru this" was #2 on z100's hi-noon countdown.
very discouraging sign on top 40 radio: seven and the sun's hootie-with-programmed-beats "walk with me" was on the same countdown.
so back to coldplay for a minute. what i like most about "in my place" is the guitar line, a thing of glacial beauty redolent of u2 and echo & the bunnymen ca. 1984. the song as a whole though lacks the immense humanism of the former and the egocentric pomp of the latter, and chris martin still sounds like he's singing in front of his vanity mirror (and like he's a grandiose dave matthews).
david bowie leads the short list for the mercury music prize. heathen has a few good songs, but otherwise i find this selection baffling. (as far as 70s glam/art-rock icons go, brian ferry's new album is better by far.) the full list:
david bowie, heathen
doves, the last broadcast
the streets, original pirate material
the coral, coral
ms. dynamite, a little deeper
beverly knight, who i am
roots manuva, run come save me
the bees, sunshine hit me
gemma hayes, night on my side
electric soft parade, holes in the wall
joanna macgregor, play
guy barker, soundtrack

i'm pulling for the streets, myself.

also from rs.com, kurt loder returns to the pages of rolling stone to write a five-star review of bruce springsteen's new album, the rising. he concludes:
i can't think of another album in which such an abundance of great songs might be said to seem the least of its achievements.
over at the village voice, tony green reviews albums by young neo-soul rebels glenn lewis and remy shand and, in the process, writes an abstract of the article on neo-soul that i've been meaning to write myself. (essentially: most nu-soul boys admire stevie's rhodes and not his clavinet; ron isley's voice and not ernie's guitar.)

meanwhile, douglas wolk, in an article on dance-rock, sheds some light on the mysterious lcd soundsystem, the brainchild of producer james murphy, one half of the dfa team also responsible for remixing the rapture's "house of jealous lovers".
FUCK! i like the new coldplay single.

28 July 2002

one-upping josh, this site was accessed by a dogpile search for "pseudo-intellectualism." HA!
yesterday, i finished reading richard russo's empire falls. so what's it about then? quite a lot, actually -- i can understand perfectly why the movie will approach the four-hour mark. i, however, have been attempting to some it up in a sentence. something like:

empire falls documents the price paid by those who've forsaken their dreams, and the toll taken on those who followed theirs.

only more elegant and meaningful.

25 July 2002

headline from fox's the pulse:
"have gays come too far out of the closet?"
my head hurts.
i've been listening to the new single by disputatious duo david mcalmont & bernard butler, entitled "falling." their return has been greeted with equal parts dread and anticipation by fans and press alike. there is much to be cynical about here, after all: their acrimonious split has been well documented, but there's nothing like mutual commercial failure to bring people together. in some quarters, it's being viewed as a contrived cash-in and, given my own cynicism, i was almost ready to accept that the idea of david mcalmont singing the phonebook may not be as appealing as once thought.

having now listened to the single a number of times now, i'm relieved to say that it's much better than the phonebook set to music, much much better, in fact. it sounds just as you'd hope it would: soaring vocals, guitar heroics, spectorian production. unlike "yes" and "you do," "falling" seems to hark back to the ballads of the 1950s (the chantels' "maybe" comes immediately to mind). wiping that disastrous last solo album from his mind, butler returns to the bombastic arrangements of his debut, the sort that never really worked with his thin voice but fit melodramatic singers like brett anderson and david mcalmont to a tee. as usual, mcalmont is the damsel in distress, begging for someone to take his hand because he's falling, and it's in these roles that he excels.

it's not an unqualified success, however. "falling" is cut from the same cloth as "you do" and "yes," but it doesn't exactly make for an as attractive garment. the earlier singles reached a critical mass, they had what are called 'moments.' "yes" becomes transcendent at 3:05, after the middle 8 and a modulation; "you do" does the same at 2:32 when mcalmont sings, "i need you now and always have." that moment on "falling" should be at 3:07 with the piano glissando, but it just doesn't come together.

paling in comparison to two of the finest singles of the last decade is a small quibble. after all, things could be much worse: suede's "positivity" doesn't live up to even the lowered bar set by head music. how bad do things have to get for brett to try to patch things up with bernie? and, if "falling" is a sign of things to come, why would bernard even want to?
"mr. empire falls? that's me. last one to leave, turn out the lights, right? this town is me, and i'm it. i'm not one of those that left and came back. i been here all along...thing is, miles, people in this town like you...but here's something that might surprise you. people like me too. something else? i got friends. might surprise you to hear we even got some of the same friends. you're not the only one people like, okay? and i'll tell you something else. what people around here like best about me? they like it that they're more like me than they are like you. they look at me and they see the town they grew up in. they see their first girlfriend. they see the first high school football game they ever went to. you know what they see when they look at you? that they ain't good enough. they look at you and see everything they ever done wrong in their lives. they hear you talk and maybe they're thinking the same thing you are, except they can't say it like you do and they know they won't ever get any credit. they see you and your buddy the principal with your heads together, deciding how things are gonna be, talking the way you talk and making your little jokes, and they know they'll never get no place with either one of you, not ever. but me? maybe they just might get someplace with me, and that's why they like me."
--richard russo, empire falls, pp. 294-95.

24 July 2002

(some of you may be visiting because i'm fixing fonts and, as a result of pressing the "publish" button, blogger or freshblogs or whomever are telling you i've updated. i don't want you to feel cheated, so here's some insubstantial and mawkish new content.)
i enjoy living in new jersey and visiting new york -- it allows me to dream of the city, which i'm very fond of doing. it was a very temperate summer day; the hot dogs at gray's papaya are still fabulous (and cheap); and the beautiful girls were out in full, affording one the opportunity to fall in love around each corner, and i took every last one of them. some days reality outstrips the dream.
belated american idol round-up:
best performance: kelly. she's the only one consistently pushing herself.
worst performance: a.j. - he's got to go. i can't even remember what he sang, it was that immemorable.
most surprising: ryan. it's always risky doing a rock number with simon as judge. i thought it was a good idea poorly executed. the change of pace was nice, but she got lost on the track and sounded out-of-breath. lucky for her simon has no say in the matter. (which didn't stop him from calling the performance "dreadful.")
least surprising: justin. he was on cruise control, very obviously. it's as if he stepped out of a lake tahoe revue. simon was right to call him on it, and his response beautifully demonstrated the reasons to dislike him, i.e. justin. (side note: does he ever not perform a song either written or covered by stevie wonder?)
most likely to survive: justin, tamyra, r.j., kelly.
least likely to survive: a.j., one hopes. nikki, one hopes not.
hard to say: christina - she wasn't great last night and, despite simon's crush, she's somewhat faceless. ryan - did her rock move help or hurt her last night?
easy joke: r.j. is from cumming, georgia. ulp.
i've owned the soundtrack to d.a. pennebaker's ziggy stardust for awhile now. today, i finally saw the film, playing exclusively at the film forum through tomorrow.

in front of the smallest crowd he's played since the early mod days, bowie gave his all. it was, after all, 1:00 on the next-to-last day of its run; everyone who's wanted to see it, has done so already; the rest are likely waiting until tomorrow night's 8:20 showing with pennebaker. the movie is very much a "concert film" and shouldn't be mislabeled as a "documentary": pennebaker had very little time with bowie, so, besides the onstage footage, one gets approximately 15 minutes total of shooting outside the theatre, of bowie being made up (to wife angela: "what do you know about makeup? you're only a girl"), and of bowie's costume changes (of which there were 5, not including the costumes worn under outfits that were ritually stripped off of him). and, as a concert, the sound is fantastic and the performances are nothing short of mesmerizing.

the footage of the queue outside the hammersmith is most revealing: i've always considered bowie and, particularly, ziggy to be a subversive performer. there are, of course, the lyrics:
-"time - he flexes like a whore, falls wanking to the floor..."
-"my death waits between your thighs..."
-"suck, baby, suck, give me your head..."
-not to mention a generous sprinkling of asses and bitches.

there are, also, the sights:
-bowie himself, obviously.
-poorly concealed bikini briefs.
-ronson mounting dame bowie.
-ronson and trevor bolder simulating man-love with their, hem hem, instruments.
-and all manners of gesticulation by david.

but! what panning across the fans on line demonstrates is quite another thing entirely. there are youths, gangs of them. tough looking kids, sweet looking kids, and kids who look like their parents dropped them off and will be back in exactly two hours. and then, ho ho, and then there are the families. mom, dad, sis and bro, all with identical thunderbolt face paint. a family gathering out on london town.

seeing all of this suggests to me what i discovered while watching behind the makeup six or seven times: the scene is exactly like that outside of a kiss concert, at the peak of their popularity, ca. 1976. kiss started as a fairly subversive if conventional band who found themselves embraced by the public. it began with the families in makeup, and it ended with kiss meets the phantom of the park.

much is the same, but, by the same token, much is very different. there was very little suggestion of homosexuality in kiss's schtick. (okay, peter criss's kitty-cat makeup was kinda gay) and for bowie, the story would end much differently: one of the more thrilling aspects of the concert is the fact that it was the last show the spiders from mars would ever do, as bowie pronounced quite dramatically prior to set-closer "rock 'n' roll suicide." that being the case, bowie & band pulled out all of the stops: the aformentioned costume changes, blinding lights, backstage guest ringo starr, much flouncing about by all involved...if you're on the fence regarding this film, here's the reason to see it: bowie MIMES! during "the width of a circle," he reaches all the way back to his early days. he's trapped in a box! he can't get out! finally, he finds a seam, pushes his way through the cracks, and flies away. it's everything good miming should be.

during the concert sections, onstage footage is interspersed with shots of crowd reaction, and the reactions is quite unlike anything i've ever seen. tears streaming down faces; fans jockeying for position nearest the stage; arms outstretched, always, hands forever trying to grasp a sliver of cast-off glamour or, at the very least, the folds of bowie's kimono -- boys, girls, old and young. it's like a combination of a soccer match, a southern tent revival, and a michael jackson concert: they are totally in the spiders' thrall. ronson nears the edge of the stage and is nearly consumed whole; near the end, bowie attempts the same with security's arms wrapped around his waist.

as mentioned, the show ends with "rock 'n' roll suicide," and there isn't a song in the bowie canon more suited for the purpose, the ultimate statement of unity between artist and audience. bowie sang it from the catwalk, in front of a sea of limbs, exhorting the audience to give them his hands, grabbing them where prudent. as he concludes, one fan gets up on stage, a teeenaged male, and hugs bowie before he, i.e. the fan, is tackled by security -- a perfect conclusion and a visual metaphor for bowie: always so close, but forever distant. unlike kiss, he never, at his peak, capitulated to the demands of his audience, lapsing into self-parody, though he did occasionally play to them. next up for bowie was the ill-starred "halloween jack" followed soon after by the more successful thin white duke; his audience could follow him or not, their choice. as "rock 'n' roll suicide" comes to an end, ziggy stardust says "thank you" and "we love you" before exiting stage left, taking his legion in his hand one last time, blowing them a kiss farewell, and leaving them to the whims of the wind. if you count yourself as one of those who slipped through his fingers or are merely interested as to how he acquired such a following in the first place, seeing this film is an absolute must.

23 July 2002

how can anyone prefer avril lavigne to britney spears when she, i.e. lavigne, has a song called "sk8er boi" that seems to imply that skating is cool and that, by association, the boys who do it are desirable? and that's not even taking into consideration the commingling of numbers and letters in the spelling of the song title.
just came back from the record store. good news for go-betweens fans: jetset records, the label that released the friends of rachel worth, has just reissued the first three albums. these remastered editions feature a second disc of rarities, b-sides, etc. i bought before hollywood; send me a lullaby was also released this week, and spring hill fair will be issued in two weeks and its bonus disc will contain "after the fireworks," that storied collab with nick cave & the birthday party.

i also bought the new solomon burke album, the very one i spoke of last week. for those of you indie fans who'll buy it because it's on epitaph, and for you rock n' rollers who'll pony up cos there's an unreleased nick lowe cut on it, here's a quick primer on the former wonder boy preacher, the least known of the great soul singers:
-at the tender age of 7, he began preaching the Lord's word on the radio.
-between recording sessions, he had a gig driving a snowplow in philadelphia.
-when he'd tour with stars like paul anka, he'd attempt to sell concessions on the tour bus; when he headlined the apollo theatre, he did the same between sets, until he was banned.
-he is the man behind "solomon burke's magic popcorn."
-he is also the proprietor of his own mortuary, and bishop of his own church.
-during his heyday, he had dancing girls and a coronation onstage with a replica of the crown jewels. his man-servant was a midget whom he called "little sammy" because he could sing just like sam cooke and he would drive all the women crazy. when burke was finished with his cape, he would throw it on little sammy, who would proceed to scamper off stage, giving one the impression that the cape was moving on its own.
-he has twenty+ children and 60+ grandchildren.
-on occasion, he sings, and here's a crash course:
"just out of reach (of my two open arms)", 1961 - nearly two years before ray charles, burke invented country-soul on his debut single.
"cry to me," 1962 - probably his most known single. featured in dirty dancing and on its soundtrack. was also covered by the rolling stones on out of our heads, and slowed down to a crawl in melodramatic fashion by soul screamer freddie scott.
"everybody needs somebody to love," 1964 - rousing uptempo number covered better (shh!) by wilson pickett and, again, by the stones on now!.
"the price," 1964 - the best example of the burke style: the singing is a mixture of monologue and testifying, while the subject matter, love as always, is given the gravitas of the crucifixion.
"proud mary," 1969 - his biggest hit.
"a change is gonna come," 1985 - the first comeback, of sorts. similar to "the price" in style and intensity.

so, get downloading. or, better yet, BUY IT!
returning to yesterday's literary theme, paul newman has signed on to star in a film adapation of richard russo's empire falls. it'll be an hbo production and, according to newman, it'll be about three-and-a-half to four hours long. (!) it'll also be the second russo adaptation for newman: he also starred in 1994's acclaimed, though little-seen, nobody's fool.

22 July 2002

i've heard the new single by suede, called "positivity." somewhere between head music and, well, now, i guess, suede have become boring. sure, they've had songs that tended towards the dull, but even then they were somewhat redeemed by eastern shadings, bombastic arrangements, or elephant men. "positivity" (how's that for a title?) has none of these things; no obscene killing machines, no shaking of bits to hits, not even shaking of meat to the beat! what it does have is acoustic guitars, string quartets, and, yes, positivity. this could be anyone, frankly, and, unlike a number of bands of the era, suede were never about encouraging youngsters to pick up acoustic guitars. not only has he bleached his hair, brett has also bleached the suede sound: this isn't so much suede as it is gap khaki.

(on a, ha ha, positive note, i've heard several other tracks from the album; the rockers impress most. "obsessions" is just about classic suede, recalling the coming up era, minus the shitty production. the vocal on "beautiful loser" recalls liam gallagher, oddly enough, and the music is straight-up 1994. progress? no, but if progress is the single, i'll live in the past, thanks.)
i really want to say something about alfonso cuaron, director of the racy y tu mama tambien, helming the third harry potter movie. it would be something terribly inappropriate, especially since some little kid could end up here looking for information on the young wizard, and instead be treated to my licentious comments. still, could it be any worse than what happened to a young girl injured trying to fly like harry? cuaron did direct 1995's a little princess though. but that was about little kids; harry potter iii, like tu mama, will be about teens. so many conflicting thoughts...oh, the hell with it:
comments on 10-1:
10. on tracks, dylan is hounded by the press, and hunted by the law. he is a wronged man and misunderstood. he's on bended knee one minute and going straight for the jugular the next, armed with his best array of melodies and the most professional backing he'd had up until then. the album's tone is scattershot -- conciliatory, mocking, tender, and rueful, all of the emotions that must run through a man's head when his wife has begun divorce proceedings against him. blood on the tracks, and it's probably his.
9. the stones sound like a very tired band, running on empty, glad to have made it through the 60s with their membership mostly intact. they resort to covering themselves ("country honk") and richard is even allowed to sing ("you got the silver.") the pace never gets past the shuffle of "midnight rambler"; "love in vain" might be their slowest recording ever. listening to this album, you're amazed they still had two more classic albums in them, and even more shocked that they assembled this album, their best collection of songs ever. they're hedonists and solipsists right to the end, when they get to "you can't always get what you want," and you're left feeling that maybe, at the end of the decade, after brian jones' death, after altamont, just maybe the stones care about the universal plight too.
8. welcome to the lou reed show, ladies and gentlemen. with cale off on his own (producing nico and the stooges), reed was left to his own devices -- the amps were turned down to 1 and what you got was a very quiet, instrospective album that also happened to contain their best rocker ("what goes on.") apparently, the lyrics are quite important -- lou's original mix had them pushed to the fore -- but it's the floating guitars and spectral harmonies that make this my favorite vu album. and to prove this is the same velvet underground you've always loved, there's "the murder mystery," a fairly successful outlet for reed's fiction. but to show that is also a very different vu, that experiment is followed by the mo tucker-sung "after hours," the most affecting thing reed has ever written. not their most revolutionary album, just their best.
7. the vocal mastery and the deftness of the arrangements rival number 4. in terms of elegance and delicacy, green's voice is a match for number 1. the originals are his best; the covers, his most startling. beautifully simple, and simply beautiful.
6. proof for those who only know stevie through "i just called to say i love you" that, not only was he godhead, but he was also something of a skeptic. sure, pure love can be heard on "you and i" and "you are the sunshine...," but there's also the broken heart of "blame it on the sun" (arguably his loveliest recording), the paranoia of "maybe your baby," a jilted lover on "tuesday heartbreak," and a recalcitrant young miss on "you've got it bad, girl." he's also suspicious of the government ("big brother") and, well, very superstitious. still, the song that would be his trademark if it were only a hit, the one that concludes the album and, despite all that came before it, states his beliefs unequivocally regarding the matter is called "i believe when i fall in love (it will be forever.)" how else could his greatest album end?
5. the dolls went from quoting 50s rock n' roll and girl groups on their debut, to writing themselves into that grand tradition on too much too soon. with the help of legendary producer "shadow" morton, they mixed fantastic originals with apt covers. the finished product wasn't so much an album as a stage show with a cast of thousands. and if that isn't enough, they also invented the serrated tone of punk rock guitar on "human being."
4. the polar opposite of number 23: the happiest album ever recorded? not just happy, though: triumphant. even on the songs where things weren't as they should be, one gets the sense that it's a mere matter of time before they'd be put right. from the opening fanfare of "you make me feel so young," to the final vocal descent on "how about you," never before has a man celebrated his return to the top so thorougly.
3. an argument for the album, if there ever was one. hot rocks has a better batting average, but i'd rather listen to this six out of seven days of the week. a much better batting average, really: only 7 of the 18 are certified stone classics. the album's strength is its ability to make you return to it again and again despite this. credit it to the consistent songwriting of jagger/richard, to a band that really knows how to play together, and to the inspired production of jimmy miller who keeps some tracks clean and submerges others in the murky depths, allowing precious little of their elements to rise above the surface. as a result, the album is mysterious, alluring, and ageless. unlike number 9, exile is about cumulative effect and not individual standouts. in other words: don't start here.
2. the antithesis of number 3: the whole is equal to the sum of its very impressive parts. a better introduction to prince than the hits. everything he does well is done as its very peak here: guitar heroics, sexual politics and congress, soul balladry, storming dance numbers, songs of the spirit and songs of the flesh. his state of the union address, ca. 1987: he'd never be better, but neither would anyone else.
1. what to say? this, i guess: it's as if someone took my personal fears and my private wishes and set them to the most exquisite music this side of heaven, with harmony provided by God's own choir. it's very much a personal statement, as was the creation of this list: pet sounds will continue to hold the top spot for as long as it holds a mirror up to my life and for as long as it remains the album i hold closest to my heart.

20 July 2002

19 July 2002

do people actually listen to b2k? or are they the new ninety-eight degrees, i.e. an act without actual hits whose appeal does not extend beyond trl?
josh made a list! with two sonic youth songs, no less. which reminds me that, now that i own the murray street album, i should listen to it.

18 July 2002

she should just get the surgery already: quite the study in silicone-fueled paranoia, the new shakira video ("objection (tango)")goes something like this:
-there's an extended opening tango section.
-shakira gesticulates as if she were a zombie or, at the very least, the living dead.
-shakira discovers her man is cheating on her. she reasons that he's stepping out because her (shakira's) boobs are small, and this new girl's pair is very obviously not.
-she sings: "next to her cheap silicone i look minimal/that's why in front of your eyes i'm invisible." (subtitles are added for the hearing-impaired. and to emphasize the point, i guess.)
-cartoon sequence/wish fulfillment: shakira slaps around the boyfriend and deflates the other chick's tits.
-batman and superman show up to beat up the boyfriend. this is not part of the animated sequence.
-catfight between shakira and the big-chested girl. shakira emerges victorious. wasn't even much of a contest.
-shakira picks up a guitar, but not before doing the zombie thing again. then, she plays the guitar.
it sounds like "rock lobster." it looks like a conflation of diddy's "been around the world," jacko's "thriller," and mariah carey's "heartbreaker." it is utterly, utterly fabulous.
comments on 20-11:
20. today, tomorrow, forever. side 2 remains the best thing brian wilson has ever done. just be sure to press stop after "in the back of my mind."
19. so it was originally supposed to be this lifehouse thing, which had little or nothing to do with the band of the same name. and i've heard mention of this "universal chord" and the audience joining together with the band, and townshed apparently had a nervous breakdown. blah blah blah. mainly, it seems to be about rocking out, consistently and thoroughly. WITH synthesizers.
18. & 17. both albums are about disillusionment and personal dissolution, only one would be consumed by millions, while the other was likely not to be heard by anyone at all. stone and chilton were never as sarcastic or as sincere as they were on these albums, knocking down the wall between artist and listener. but, at the same time, the wall was replaced by a haze that seeped into both the singer and his song. stone would recover and release one more hit album before slowly fading away and being seemingly written out of rock history entirely; chilton would go onto a mixed career as a solo artist and producer, but he'd ultimately achieve great success as a cult hero.
16. the only great album ever influenced by number 15? meanwhile, the deleterious influence of physical graffiti continues unabated.
15. kids, don't try this at home. please.
14. between "1969" and "1970," disaffected youth iggy stooge becomes a howling MAN-BEAST. free jazz and much peanut butter smearing ensue.
13. i'd completed the list when i saw that i'd inadvertantly left this album off the list. it could be a sign that i've outgrown the album, but i couldn't imagine this list -- or my late adolescence -- without it.
12. number 6: better collection of songs. innervisions: better-conceived album. still feels as if stevie recorded the album with you in mind.
11. three years later, and the characters from 22, after making plans and wild declarations, have gone nowhere. darkness, true to its name, catalogs their resentments, their disatisfaction, and their inability to do anything at all about it.
futuristic dystopia?: i've just listened to the flaming lips' new album, yoshimi battles the pink robots, and the first thing that comes to mind is the cruise ship i was on in june, the carnival inspiration. the ship, as was to be expected, was immense and immaculately clean. in fact, on our last day on board, we learned that the organization that inspects cruise ships for cleanliness gave our ship a 99 (out of 100), an unparalleled rating. very impressive. similarly, my first impression of yoshimi was just how clean the music sounds, like between simply red's greatest hits and the corrs latest album, it'd be a perfect fit on the inspiration's playlist. the keyboards are soothing, the bass tones are very warm and full, and the drums sound muted, as if they were wrapped in gauze. the music evokes an incredibly pretty, incredibly antiseptic future where germs belong to the past. but there's something alarming about such perfection; i've never been a fan of the early lips but i couldn't help but wish for a guitar squall or two -- even kindred spirits mercury rev seem to have at least one guitar epic on their recent albums. on first listen, yoshimi is an admirable work, but i don't know if it's very lovable.
so, jim and ejay got the boot. i was off by one syllable.

but i wasn't really off at all, because, like simon, i'm not predicting who will go -- i'm saying who should go. and, based on their performances, it's very obvious to me that a.j. should've been kicked off. but he's got the sob story about the poor immigrant parents and he's got that trilly girl voice that he probably uses to get naive girls out of their panties. i'm not so much surprised by the results as i am disappointed. (and, let's be honest, the two least attractive finalists were eliminated -- this isn't a singing contest, after all. the teenage girls let their voices be heard last night.)

i was surprised, however, by the fact that nikki was among the bottom three. did america make a moral judgement on her with their indifference? or were they just heartbroken that she sold out (for which she immediately made amends by putting on that slinky outfit)? it was a tough couple of minutes for me there. that commercial break seemed interminable. i had to keep reminding myself to breathe. but, ultimately, nikki prevailed and sent jim and his loving parents back to illinois. (indiana?)

and now i'm sure r.j. is in for the long haul because not only is he the adopted one, but he's now also the one who fell off the stage and had to go to the hospital. next week, i'm going to predict that christina and ryan are up, with the former getting voted out. after ejay, the two of them have the least tragic stories.

the big story last night, though, was simon's absence. apparently he was off on intercontinental business in london and a lifeless cardboard stand-in was there in his place (no, not paula abdul.) paula made the cut-out talk in an all-out mockery of the simon style, and then the stand-in pulled an r.j. as randy jackson gave it a symbolic booting off the stage. was it a front, though? did r.j.'s thrashing symbolize more than we initially thought? i'm sure i would've heard about that on extra!, though. maybe he just couldn't take the booing and the constant taunts of seacrest and dunkleman. the anti-british sentiments expressed by the audience may have cowed him. i just hope he's back next week. forget the 10: he is the real star of the show.
kathleen is back. and a happy belated birthday to her. she's back from her irish odyssey and ready to tell it like it is again. like, for example, she hates the vines. and yet she LOVES them. who could blame her? that craig is a stone fox.
vma a-ok: so mtv has this last fan standing competition on mtv.com. you may have seen the commercials for it. regardless, the important thing here is that i am in the running. one might think that it's impossible for my head to get any bigger, but just go to my application and you'll see what they've done to me! to do that, you can click here and then click on the 'vote here' button. i probably don't stand a chance since i don't feel like pandering outside of my own airspace, but you'd be making an old man happy if you did vote (this is my last year of mtv eligibility.) vote now, vote often. i know i am.

17 July 2002

comments on 30-21
30. like jim croce, stephin merritt only knows one way to say i love you: with a song. quite unlike mr. croce, merritt isn't a sensitive singer-songwriter; his forebears dwelled in the brill building, writing songs that were made to order. in this case, the order is every shade of love and every genre within reason.
29. eno's green world is a soundtrack without a film, and the audio account alone proves to be most satisfactory. the listener is taken on safari -- dark trees, big ships, sombre reptiles, little fishes: one by one, each passes by with a few strokes of a synthesizer, chords from a guitar, and masterful usage of air & space. the ending, however, seems strangely unresolved.
28. with their fourth lp, the pixies were set to ride the grunge wave to superstardom...and then they released a heavy metal album. that's how the myth goes, anyway. while it sounds little like the prevailing seattle fare of the day, trompe le monde is not a heavy metal album. okay, well, "planet of sound." but besides that, tlm had the band returning to the rock sound of doolittle and showing off the tricks they learned on bossanova. most bands would've been quite pleased to end their careers with the epic "motorway to roswell," all tinkling pianos and resounding backing vocals. maybe "the navajo know" is symptomatic of why they never found success, and why tlm is their greatest record.
27. ghosts & the machines. the mononymic titles and his declarations in "heaven" give off the impression that david byrne is bored. fine by me since it means less distraction from the music, which funks and disorients and startles. repeated listening leads one to believe that there's something at work both behind the grooves and byrne's lyrics. a certain ineffable that cements this as my favorite of the byrne/eno era.
26. the title says it all. otis never was very convincing as a singer of happy songs, and so an invitation to the blues has never been more enticing.
25. like ohio players' albums, you can tell a lot about a roxy album by looking at its cover. the model seems utterly drained, unable to lift a finger. she also seems to be lost -- standed, even -- in some unknown locale. on stranded, darkness falls, phones ring and no one's there, and all that lives dies. bryan ferry looks in the mirror and, improbably, he doesn't like what he sees.
24. the beatles make their solo audition tapes, and only ringo's career would best his material on abbey road. divided, it stands.
23. he may not have penned his own material, but it's arguable that no other popular performer put more of himself -- his mannerisms, his attitude, his state-of-mind -- into his records than frank sinatra. when the time came to record wee small hours, he had very little left at all to put into it. the result: one of the most emotional and expressive albums ever produced.
22. there are two kinds of people on born to run: jersey boys, longing for something better, who are miserable; and city dwellers, living in the shadows of the skyscrapers, who are also miserable. one group is leaving at night, heading towards a meeting, driving down the two-lane highway with no destination known; the others hide on the backstreets, seek shelter from the falling tear drops, and feel like the whole city is crying. springsteen inflates his characters so we can them above the towers and buildings, and he turns up the volume so the music can be heard above the din of the city and the roar of the engines. where they're going, no one knows, but they just can't stay home any longer.
21. the sound you hear at the beginning of station to station is the express train sweeping la bowie away yet again, in search of a new sound like he does every year. it takes him through funk and disco, into proto-industrial, with a final destination in a johnny mathis ballad. produced by bowie so he could recreate every footstep and every unexplained noise he heard in his coke-addled head. kids, take note: like many albums on this list, this album was created with the benefit of MIND-ADDLING drugs. lots of them.
solomon burke just released an album. which is nothing new: the king of rock 'n' soul has probably been issuing albums for twenty+ years now on small blues & soul labels. what makes this album different from any album he's released since leaving atlantic records in 1968 is that it's getting fantastic reviews. and unlike any solomon burke album previously released, this one features new songs from fans like van morrison, bob dylan, tom waits, nick lowe, brian wilson, carole king, and elvis costello. question: where can i buy it?
tim, might i suggest the following arrangement:
michelle branch = ani difranco
vanessa carlton = tori amos
avril lavigne = alanis morissette

(it's quite possible that avril has not reached australian shores yet. she's canadian, she's angry, and she skates: the perfect pedigree.)
last night's american idol:
well, simon was obviously right about who the two losers were, and it was the two with whom he went out of his way to say what nice guys they were: jim and a.j. (yeah, jim does seem like a nice guy; but a.j. has always been my least favorite -- he has the wimpiest voice and he seemed to have the biggest attitude, e.g. anytime he entered a room.) jim needed to sing some high-octane four tops number, but instead he chose to blend into the scenery of the newly-refurbished american idol set by performing the commodores' "easy." a.j., on the other hand, gave his larynx a workout with...another leisurely stroll through "my cherie amour." maybe he hasn't sung it before, but he makes every song sound the same. these two shouldn't make it through tonight or, as simon said, it will be a DISASTER. it would be a lamentably american thing for the voters to think, "i'm not going to let some frog tell ME who an american idol is," and then vote for either of these two.

as far as the others go:
ryan -- one of the judges commented on her outfit, but isn't that the same exact outfit she had on last time? if so, where did the $2,000 go? she doesn't already have a habit yet, does she? otherwise, i thought she performed well enough to get through this round.
justin -- i don't like justin, i'll say that now. he apparently has a weak falsetto and a trite manner with the audience (those fucking winks). others have been nastier elsewhere, but i'll be kind here: he looks more like sideshow mel. still, i respect him because he knows his audience -- mostly teenage girls -- and he knows the tried and true methods of whipping them into a frenzy. if the voting demographics trend towards young females, he's got it sewed up.
tamyra -- she looks great, she sings very well. ideally, she'll win the competition.
nikki -- i really liked nikki. like liked nikki. and i don't mind the kid, but the ex-husband...at her age...no good -- the engagement is off. and simon was right, she did look like she had a daytime tv makeover. i hope she gets through because she does have some grit in her vocals even though "ben" ("BEN"!) didn't really allow her to express that. and she's still kinda hot.
ejay & kelly -- they're like the low-rent justin and tamyra. both of them sing as well as that pair (ejay may have the best voice in the competition) but, again, simon said it well when he stated that ejay wasn't an american idol. he has absolutely no stage presence -- when i saw him performing at six flags on his little film, it all made perfect sense. kelly is a very nice girl, but her voice, though powerful, is also kinda forgettable. like anastacia, another woman who got her break on a tv show (mtv's the cut, if you've forgotten, hosted by the late lisa lopes.) unfortunately, kelly isn't as hot as anastacia. but, in kelly's favor, i bet she knows all the words to the anthem.
christina -- christina is very nice, and simon seems to agree. unlucky for her, he doesn't get the final say. she won't be eliminated until very late when there aren't enough people around to shield her from the fact that she's the favorite of a very few.
r.j. -- almost forgot him, though i've totally forgotten his performance, which isn't a good sign. didn't seem to make the most of his second chance. he should be the next to go.

in general:
-i'd like to see the male singers grow some fucking balls. (but, being a baritone, i would say that.) all of the women are ballsier than any one of them -- with the exception of christina, who probably wouldn't even say "balls."
-paula needs to stop being so damn nice.
-i actually do hope ryan seacrest and brian dunkelman get voted off. (the latter reminds me of a cartoon character i can't quite recall; the former, baywatch's david chokachi.)

bottom line: jim and a.j. have to go. (more music commentary to come, i promise.)
no, that dexy's review is all wrong. it should've gone like this:
32. there would be no place for kevin rowland in the neo-soul movement. he doesn't worship at the shrine of donny hathaway, and he believes that soul existed prior to 1972. he also knows that soul is sweaty, loud, passionate, and very often undignified, traits unbecoming to your average boho-soulster, with their fender rhodes and their chai lattes. his search today would turn up precious little. raphael saadiq. d'angelo. still, he (and i!) know they're out there, but where are they hiding?
comments on 40-31
40. for the most part, as quiet as nick drake, but not fragile: ephemeral.
39. the only zeppelin album i can listen to straight through (even "the crunge"!), amazing for a band with a storied inclination for lapses in taste.
38. sure, the comeback special was a success, but once he announced his return, he couldn't go back to singing "wooden heart" (its influence on bryan ferry's vocals notwithstanding), could he? so he went back to memphis and sang eddy arnold, burt bacharach, john hartford, and gamble & huff like they came from the same hymnal.
37. years of backpacking across europe and singing brel turned him into the songwriter he always wanted to be, but, with his worst chart performance of the 60s, apparently no one was listening. except bowie, ferry, almond, cave, cope, etc.
36. this album has been dropping in my estimation (while new morning rises), but i'll say this for it: it makes me laugh, unusual for a rock record (and even more unusual with "comedy" rock records. which i hate).
35. ages me everytime i hear it, but too lovely to ignore. evokes closing time at a border honky tonk, one couple left on the dancefloor.
34. takes murmur and cranks up the volume, while maintaining the intimacy and melancholy on songs like "camera" and "time after time." simply, their best set of songs.
33. it's interesting that his soundtrack albums, which come with a built-in storyline, tend to be the most all over the place. this one, gloriously so. filmed in panavision and, unlike the film, in technicolor.
32. people who hate this album say it's due to kevin rowland; people who love it say the same. yeah, he's pretentious and affected, but he's also terribly sincere and unafraid of standing before the firing squad, heart in hand. he also had the good sense to make the world's first punk rock soul album.
31. each velvet album seemed to have spawned a different genre (alternative, noise, twee), except for the last, the vu album for classic rock fans. so convincing, in fact, that it fooled fm programmers into thinking that "rock n' roll" and "sweet jane" were hits. and now they are.

16 July 2002

comments on 50-41:
50. thematically, number 78, musically, number 68. spoken language: dirty.
49. okay, it's got this one track with bongos on it and it's six minutes long and it's as bad as most songs with bongos on them are. but aside from that, it's as good as any other album on the list, and far more fragile.
48. "black, white, puerto rican, everybody just a freakin'..."
47. the archetypal great alternative album, and that's why it's not as good as number 29.
46. the love i have for this is similar to that which i possess for number 32: two bands that get over through the force (and lack thereof) of their frontman's personality; men who have little idea what they're doing (and know exactly what they're doing) and somehow end up creating soul music, even though that wasn't their intention (but it was).
45. i said this to josh last night: "lots of great stuff, lots of head-scratchers, the perfect intro to the the secret life of plants." and the perfect end to stevie's career as a major album artist.
44. there's an episode of the simpsons where mr. burns is ready to storm the simpson house in his tank. he presses play on what he perceives to be a wagner disc, but it turns out to be "waterloo." that's what this is like.
43. on the first half, they look back; on the second, they look ahead (to exile, mainly); in between, they rocked more thoroughly than they ever would in their career. paul buckmaster makes recompense for arranging "drops of jupiter" with his work here, especially the strings on "moonlight mile," which i can only describe as "vertical."
42. synesthetically speaking, it's as consisent as what's going on. on side one, the sun is high in the sky. as side 2 begins, it's sinking beneath the horizon. by album's end, the only thing to light the sky are the incandescent reds of jimi's playing. during the fade, the color does the same, and it seems as if the sun will never rise again.
41. i recently went to new orleans. as i passed by "world famous love acts," where loving was performed onstage, and...well, i don't remember the name, but you could wash (as opposed to watch) the girl of your choice, i felt as if i stepped into this album. then, i simply bided my time until the inevitable appearance of the sex dwarf.
lessons learned from today's episode of taildaters:
-"chill" can be used a verb, but under no circumstances should it be used as an adjective.
-never name your child "chailuck."
-apparently, taildaters also provides a forum for southern california gay men (and, presumably, lesbians) between the ages of 18 and 24 to meet and greet, something that should be applauded.
comments on 60-51:
60. and this is the picture. kind of a visual metaphor for rod's career as well.
59. i've overlooked the fact that the band can't rock and that they take several stabs at it, all because the weepies are that good. they realized that mccartney had a good idea with "yesterday," but they also understood that he didn't take it far enough. the best lost band of the 60s.
58. kid goes crazy, broods, masturbates with a magazine, rises from the dead. hit singles ensue.
57. george martin would've produced this album if he were also allowed to write the string charts, but paul buckmaster, responsible for "space oddity," was already on board. the right choice was made: elton john would've been held in higher regard, far better crafted, and far less interesting without buckmaster's arrangements. sort of like revolver, then.
56. alright, alright, the skits are dumb, but who else was smart enough to sample hall & oates?
55. a little bit country, a little bit rock n' roll, and a whole lot of shitkicking.
54. the perfect soundtrack for a night on the town, ca. 1978: supper club music, dancefloor fillers, and come-down music.
53. the pets stop being ironic (mostly), and start getting real. coincidentally, neil's in love.
52. the only album of the 90s to create its own self-contained universe.
51. is there a great double-album with a worse side than side three of english settlement? side four of all things must pass? yeah, but i said "great."
i just heard the new springsteen single on z100, which is strange. not the single, which i bought today and will say something about later, but the fact that it was on z100, new york's #1 hit music station. i know he's the boss and all, but i believe he's older than avril lavigne, (lil) bow wow, and vanessa carlton put together -- a way of saying that he's the oldest act on the station. (no, i don't believe they're playing "a song for the lonely" or "a little less conversation.") and i don't remember the ghost of tom joad getting play, but perhaps that album was a little too heady for top 40. i'm interested to see what comes of this...
comments on 70-61:
70. no less than 5 h-d-h classics, "if i were a carpenter," and two monkees covers: could be any motown album from the 60s, but since it's the tops, it's best motown album of the decade.
69. the band that made cheap trick get pedicures and sound all the better for it (except for maybe on "i want you to want me," which is still a little too femme for my tastes.)
68. sports the best album cover ever, is the source of thirty+ hip-hop records, and is home to the fastest 18 minutes in pop music ("by the time i get to phoenix.")
67. sounds a little thin these days, but so do nelson riddle arrangements when compared to those of gordon jenkins. "lonely town" aside, i think we know who framed frank's voice better, and the same can be said for the original bomb squad with chuck d.'s righteous bellow.
66. it's got the best covers on it.
65. makes me feel all cold and tortured inside!
64. "quick! give us your lips! give us your thighs! give us your sad and devouring eyes!" reason enough.
63. tom once called them the smiths for grown-ups. how about the smiths for thirtysomethings, instead? (and then dick thompson: your dad's smiths?)
62. the shangri-las hop the l to manhattan, strap on guitars, and hire peter noone to front the band.
61. responsible for more bad bands than led zeppelin ii, but i look the other way and place the blame squarely on radio city.

15 July 2002

i've just finished listening to dr. dre's "2002 remix" of the stones' "miss you" for the austin powers 3 soundtrack. it's a curious proposition, a name producer remixing a big hit by an even bigger band twenty+ years after the fact. it seems all the more curious in this era of the bootleg (like why not just crossbreed it with, say, blur's "girls & boys.") curiosity doesn't lead to anything interesting or intriguing in this case; here, it BORES the cat. it sounds like your state-of-the-art dr. dre 2002 production : goosestepping beat, synth string stabs, candy-covered shell. except this production seems to have the opening of curtis mayfield's "get down" playing in the background, in the 1987 sense (loop) rather than the 2002 sense (the whole damn thing.) if eminem's "my dad's gone crazy" didn't prove otherwise, i'd say that this was symbolic of how stilted dre's productions have become. maybe mel-man didn't ghost on this remix...
80. probably a lot better than 80, but except for the understated "for no one" and the wacky "tommorow never knows," i never have an urge to listen to it -- it's not outlandish or absurd enough, qualities I value rather highly.
79. i took the stooges challenge and, to my suprise, i chose fun house 9 times out of 10. raw power, the album, just isn't the same once raw power, the song, ends.
78. "fuck what's going on, let's get it on," is what marvin gaye seemed to be saying with this lp and follow-up i want you and i tend to agree. songs about fucking are almost always better than songs with a social conscience. even folkies agree with that.
77. the second best record album made in memphis in 1969. "breakfast in bed" may be the sexiest song ever. especially if it's not about breakfast.
76. and the hits just keep on coming.
75. i don't know what's less likely: the bee gees fighting in trafalgar or the bee gees sailing in odessa. lovers never fighters, the bee gees wimp it up with the best of them, e.g. "first of may." the result on this album: pretty fucking wimpy, pretty fucking great.
74. abba: very fucking wimpy, very fucking great. i think it's about communism too.
73. i'm invoking synesthesia here: the album cover is red and orange and gold, and so is the music, like the beach at sunrise or sunset -- whichever you interpret as more promising or hopeful.
72. dance, dance, revolution. byrne's exploration of world music should've began and ended here.
71. the kraftwerk album you can sing along with.
comments on 90-81:
90. jersey boy dreams of the big city. added bonus: rosie, and the saga of spanish johnny and puerto rican jane.
89. lady soul is the canonized classic, but i never loved a man has the tunes. (title track, "respect," "dr. feelgood," "do right woman...," "save me," etc.)
88. taupin had never been to america when he wrote this, and it sounds it. per usual, elton has to save his ass and delivers his second-best bunch of tunes. as with the very best elton albums, paul buckmaster arranges.
87. music by james brown, lyrics by a metaphysician. creates a third way for hip-hop.
86. oh, how i wanted to cling to heartattack & vine. and then, longed to put small change in its stead. but i now begrudgingly admit that this is his best album. also: astral weeks is good. really!
85. you can almost see him on stage. almost. still, all of the fury, passion, and ardor -- from both band and audience -- doesn't make up for the fact that i don't much care for the setlist.
84. see 86. also: see the movie, in theaters this summer.
83. our priest would always say "achtung!" when we weren't paying attention. apparently, so do rockers who are coming off rather unsuccessful half-live/half-roots rock albums. in one case, it just seemed like it worked; in the other, it really did. but which is which...
82. functions in both the "on" and "off" position.
81. one day, i was going buy both this and tigermilk on the same day. i only left with one of them that day, and i have yet to regret the decision.
some questions:
-why does ricki lake have so many british audience members?
-is the pixies record, pixies, the one with demos that costs like $1/min, worth buying?
-is sumo wrestling a sport?
-how many of the american idol guys are gay? i say at least two. and is it wrong for me to even wonder?
let me know.
comments on 100-91:
100. yes, this is an elo record. and what a record! a new world record, one might say. "telephone line," "livin' thing," "rockaria!," "tightrope," and, best of all, "do ya," which sounds like the chambers brothers' "time has come today" played by a bunch of pussies. or: fm radio abba.
99. the happy medium between the punk-rock shards of pink flag and the spacy nu-prog of 154. plus, you can dance to "another the letter."
98. started the trip-hop thing, and ten+ years later it's the only survivor. why? on blue lines, at least, they were never too stoned to groove.
97. a producer's album meant for public consumption.
96. a producer's album meant for music geeks.
95. a producer's album meant for other producers. and david byrne.
94. the lights aren't quite bright enough on this album to shine through the impenetrable darkness of richard thompson's lyrics, but linda does her part to make it easy on the ears.
93. i bought this album because i didn't like the mixes of "express yourself" and "like a prayer" on immaculate collection, but when i got around listening to the rest of it, it was pretty great. come for the album mixes, but stay for the rest.
92. yes, i love the music but i also adore it as the very model of a 21st century pop (as opposed to dance) record.
91. alright, for the longest time i championed this record over nations. and then one day i sat down and listened to the whole fucking thing. 91, then.
100 records: as mentioned yesterday, here is the list of my 100 favorite record albums as of today, july 15. it could be a very different list tomorrow, and it's a very different list than it would've been at this time last year. comments to follow.

100. electric light orchestra, a new world record, 1976
99. wire, chairs missing, 1978
98. massive attack, blue lines, 1991
97. richard harris, the yard went on forever, 1969
96. todd rundgren, a wizard, a true star, 1973
95. brian eno, before & after science, 1977
94. richard & linda thompson, i want to see the bright lights tonight, 1974
93. madonna, like a prayer, 1989
92. daft punk, discovery, 2001
91. public enemy, fear of a black planet , 1990
90. bruce springsteen, the wild, the innocent & the e street shuffle, 1973
89. aretha franklin, i never loved a man (the way i love you), 1967
88. elton john, tumbleweed connection, 1971
87. eric b. & rakim, paid in full, 1987
86. tom waits, swordfishtrombones, 1983
85. james brown, live at the apollo, 1963
84. david bowie, the rise and fall of ziggy stardust & the spiders from mars, 1972
83. u2, achtung baby, 1991
82. aerosmith, rocks, 1976
81. roxy music, country life, 1974
80. beatles, revolver, 1966
79. iggy & the stooges, raw power, 1973
78. marvin gaye, let's get it on, 1973
77. dusty springfield, dusty in memphis, 1969
76. blondie, parallel lines, 1978
75. bee gees, odessa, 1969
74. abba, the visitors, 1981
73. beach boys, sunflower, 1970
72. talking heads, remain in light, 1980
71. kraftwerk, trans-europe express, 1977
70. four tops, reach out, 1967
69. cheap trick, in color, 1977
68. isaac hayes, hot buttered soul, 1969
67. public enemy, it takes a nation of millions to hold us back, 1988
66. ramones, rocket to russia, 1977
65. nick cave & the bad seeds, the boatman's call, 1997
64. scott walker, scott 2, 1967
63. go-betweens, liberty belle & the black diamond express, 1986
62. new york dolls, new york dolls, 1973
61. big star, #1 record, 1972
60. rod stewart, every picture tells a story, 1971
59. left banke, walk away renee/pretty ballerina, 1966
58. prince & the revolution, purple rain, 1984
57. elton john, elton john, 1970
56. de la soul, 3 feet high & rising, 1989
55. flying burrito brothers, the gilded palace of sin, 1969
54. chic, c'est chic, 1978
53. pet shop boys, very, 1993
52. mercury rev, see you on the other side, 1995
51. xtc, english settlement, 1982
50. serge gainsbourg, histoire de melody nelson, 1971
49. nick drake, five leaves left, 1969
48. sly & the family stone, stand!, 1969
47. pixies, doolittle, 1989
46. orange juice, you can't hide your love forever, 1982
45. stevie wonder, songs in the key of life, 1976
44. elvis costello, armed forces, 1979
43. rolling stones, sticky fingers, 1971
42. jimi hendrix, electric ladyland, 1968
41. soft cell, non-stop erotic cabaret, 1981
40. al green, call me, 1973
39. led zeppelin, houses of the holy, 1973
38. elvis presley, from elvis in memphis, 1969
37. scott walker, scott 4, 1969
36. bob dylan, bringing it all back home, 1965
35. neil young, after the gold rush, 1970
34. r.e.m., reckoning, 1984
33. prince & the revolution, parade (music from the film under the cherry moon), 1986
32. dexy's midnight runners, searching for the young soul rebels, 1980
31. velvet underground, loaded, 1970
30. magnetic fields, 69 love songs, 1999
29. brian eno, another green world, 1975
28. pixies, trompe le monde, 1991
27. talking heads, fear of music, 1979
26. otis redding, otis blue: otis redding sings soul, 1966
25. roxy music, stranded, 1973
24. beatles, abbey road, 1969
23. frank sinatra, in the wee small hours of the morning, 1955
22. bruce springsteen, born to run, 1975
21. david bowie, station to station, 1976
20. beach boys, the beach boys today, 1965
19. the who, who's next, 1971
18. sly & the family stone, there's a riot goin' on, 1971
17. big star, third/sister lovers, 1975
16. guns n' roses, appetite for destruction, 1987
15. led zeppelin, led zeppelin ii, 1969
14. the stooges, fun house, 1970
13. the smiths, the queen is dead, 1986
12. stevie wonder, innervisions, 1973
11. bruce springsteen, darkness on the edge of town, 1978
10. bob dylan, blood on the tracks, 1975
9. rolling stones, let it bleed, 1969
8. velvet underground, velvet underground, 1969
7. al green, i'm still in love with you, 1972
6. stevie wonder, talking book, 1972
5. new york dolls, in too much, too soon, 1974
4. frank sinatra, songs for swingin' lovers, 1956
3. rolling stones, exile on main street, 1972
2. prince, sign o' the times, 1987
1. beach boys, pet sounds, 1966

14 July 2002

i assure you, we're open: it's with a bit of trepidation that i announce vsl has opened its doors again after a good eight months of inactivity. tomorrow, i'll put up a 100 favorite albums list that i've cobbled together; a list that'll let newcomers know what this site is about, musically, and will have old-time devotees shaking their heads in contempt as they note both the predictable choices and also the regrettable additions.

for right now, i'll leave you with this. my nephew said this to me: "if you die, i'll tell (my sister) to dump (her boyfriend) and get someone like you." i replied with a sort of "awwwwwhmmmmmm," a mixture of the tenderness i felt initially and the disquiet that came over me the more i considered this.