26 September 2002

"it's a spectacular piece of music...probably one of the most important pieces of music to be released in years."

"it's an extremely powerful song..."

"a potential hit of extraordinary artistic and commercial value..."

"the first time you hear it, you'll never forget it..."

as you probably know by now, nirvana's "you know you're right," the last song ever recorded by kurt cobain, has been leaked onto the internet. the hype for this thing has been immense, reducing some to glossolalia. i was expecting the holy grail: kurt c. was supposed to, from beyond the grave, show us the error of our ways since his passing and point us to the one true path. now, i'm not totally unsympathetic to nirvana: i've never considered myself a fan, but i like "aneurysm" and "heart-shaped box" like most good people. all of this is to say that i think i'm fairly objective. so after five or so listenings i'm left thinking, "is that all there is?" what i hear is nirvana. with a steel drum coda.

to its credit, it'd fit in perfectly on modern rock radio -- i always assumed vedder was the big vocal influence, but in his lower register, cobain sounds a lot like the guy from puddle of mudd. unfortunately, i think this says more about how little modern rock has advanced since '94 than it does about how far ahead of their time nirvana were.

24 September 2002

elvis 30 #1 hits -- the breakdown:
bought this today after all of the hype celebrating this remastering, this attempt to give elvis the benefits of the modern studio, to make him sound pleasing to modern kids with their sacd players and quadrophonic sound. for sake of comparison, i put my "old" stuff -- remastered in 1999 -- up against the new shit. i did semi-extensive a/b testing in deciding the outcome and the final tally, in my estimation, is 23 for the new, 4 for the old, and 4 draws (i didn't own older versions of "too much" and "teddy bear"). broken down further:
"jailhouse rock"
"hard headed woman"
"one night"
"it's now or never"
"(marie's the name) his latest flame"
"crying in the chapel"
"in the ghetto"
"suspicious minds"
"burning love"
particularly praiseworthy in this bunch are "it's now or never," "in the ghetto," and "suspicious minds." when i say something is great, or even just better than the "old," i mean that the sound is clearer, the vocals are steadier and sound "closer," and there's a WHOMP on the low-end. now, on the other hand:

"love me tender"
"can't help falling in love"
"wooden heart"
"return to sender"
"the wonder of you"
"wooden heart" is just bad, obviously. it's on here to mollify the germans, i guess, and to a lesser degree the british, elvis's third biggest hit in that country (??). "return to sender" is head-scratchingly pitiful. "the wonder of you" is an alternate take, as are "a fool such as i" and "a big hunk o' love," but it's my understand that those last two were used because the original was a splice job -- not the case for "wonder of you." "can't help falling in love" isn't bad, but it's not as crisp as the older version; and "love me tender" has a lot of hiss. most of the 50s cuts on the disc suffer from the hiss, more than the older versions even, but since they do improve upon fidelity, at worst they're the equal of the older versions. "love me tender" doesn't even accomplish that much.

once the compilation reaches the stereo age, it's consistently great and the 70s stuff is especially marvellous. one wishes that the tracklisting were better -- there are a number of non-#1s that are better and better-known than something like "too much." and there are the sun sides, the memphis sessions, etc. his catalog seems to be in a perpetual state of reissuing, so i'm not holding out hope that more worthy material receives the #1 treatment. for $10, though, i'm not going to cry all that much. elvis, the pop culture icon, is well-documented on 30 #1 hits.
here are the contents of my latest mix disc. some of them, i've already mentioned briefly below; others, i may get around to talking about at length. we'll see. for now:
1. the vines, "outtatheway!" (from highly evolved lp, 2002)
-i'm a sucker for that "dance to the music"/"rocks"/"set the controls for the heart of the pelvis" beat.
2. little richard, "ready teddy" (from the georgia peach compilation, orig. 1956)
3. outkast, "b.o.b." (from stankonia lp, 2000)
-timely. but that always seems to be the case.
4. soundtrack of our lives, "sister surround" (from behind the music lp, 2002)
5. bruce springsteen & the e street band, "empty sky" (from the rising lp, 2002)
-i'm particularly proud of the seguing from here to track 8.
6. coldplay, "clocks" (from a rush of blood to the head lp, 2002)
7. joni mitchell, "amelia" (from hejira lp, 1976)
-$7.99 tower sale! also yielded court & spark and more songs about buildings & food.
8. saint etienne, "mario's cafe" (from so tough lp, 1993)
-i wish new york city had its own saint etienne, someone to scrape past the grittiness and into the beauty.
9. divine comedy, "tonight we fly" (from secret history: the best of... comp, orig. 1994)
10. andrew w.k., "we want fun" (from awkgoj ep, 2000)
-awk fans take note: "we want fun" has be re-recorded with rick rubin and will serve as the first single from the jackass soundtrack. hmmmm.
11. queens of the stone age, "do it again" (from songs for the deaf lp, 2002)
12. pj harvey, "send his love to me" (from to bring you my love lp, 1995)
13. rolling stones, "winter" (from goats head soup lp, 1973)
14. richard ashcroft, "nature is the law" (from human conditions lp, 2002)
15. judy collins, "both sides, now" (from the very best of... comp, orig. 1971)
16. sleeper, "what do i do now?" (from, to be honest, mp3, orig. 1995)
-sleeper records are hard to come by esp. in this post-post-brit-pop world, and i'm not sure i'd want to buy one in the first place.
17. ryan adams, "come pick me up" (from heartbreaker lp, 2000)
18. beck, "lonesome tears" (from sea change lp, 2002)
-i hadn't even listened to the whole of this song; just the first 15 seconds or so. but that was enough.
19. morrissey, "speedway" (from vauxhall & i lp, 1994)
-"i've always been true to you, in my own strange way..."

23 September 2002

songs to download & sing (in no order):
rolling stones, "winter"
i can't hum it, i know one line to it, and it's just about a moonlight mile from van morrison country. and yet when mick sings "i wanna wrap my coat around you," and the gale strings pick up and the guitar bites, i'm reminded why this is the great unheralded stones song.
donell jones, "you know that i love you"
r&b bubblebath.
morrissey, "mexico (live)"
about seven seconds in, when the guitar plays a crestfallen chord, you know this is classic morrissey. be sure to get the 4:44 "eugene" version.
richard ashcroft, "nature is the law"
brian wilson performs backing vocals, which may be enough to get some to go after it. ashcroft called it the best song he's ever written. it's not, but it is damn fine in its imperious way.
shining, "young again"
the two simons from the verve formed a band that once counted john squire among its ranks. now it doesn't. this track isn't original or clever, but it's charming in a wb-theme-song way.
northern state, "man's dollar"
the only track of theirs i really dig. "man's dollar" is redolent of a time when their homeland was actively called "strong island," a time before diddy. but, jesus, is mc hesta prynn's voice tragic.
andrew wk, "we want fun"
"mom and dad just have to face it, we want to have fun and we want to get wasted."
coldplay, "clocks"
the most insidious track from a rush of blood to the head. what if u2 had a keyboard player and stubble?
queens of the stone age, "do it again"
an ill-tempered gary glitter rip, not so very different from marilyn manson's excellent "disposable teens," but more cerebral in a meathead kind of way.
bruce springsteen, "empty sky"
this side of the titular single, the two most understated tracks from the rising, i.e. this and "nothing man," have turned out to be my favorites. ("paradise" doesn't count since its operatic in its quiet intensity.) it slowly builds until a chromatic harmonica rends the air like lightning.

i'd add another song to the list if i knew either the artist or the song. maybe you can help me. it's an r&b track; i've only heard it on wbls. the chorus says something about "when i'm with you," and no it isn't tony terry. it's as bifurcated as truth hurts' "addictive": there's a standard r&b track on top and coursing beneath it is a bo-diddley-styled beat. it's rather brilliant, so let me know if you know.

22 September 2002

the hagiography of narcotics: courtney love is running mtv2, and has been for the last 15.5 hours. it's a fantastic idea, really, and she's doing a brilliant job -- it's like if mike had famous friends and was on tv giving his opinions instead of behind a computer. a disclaimer regarding the origin of the opinions given is running like a stock ticker. she's told this same story about any given sunday and meeting jay-z and asking him for a root beer because she didn't realize it was jay-z several times, prefacing it each time by saying, "i don't know if i've told this story..." and i've only watched a few hours of it!

13 September 2002

on the way home today, i was listening to power 105. an ad came on: first, a young man comes on saying how he'd bought the new nas album on 125th & st. nick (i think). i thought he was going to tell the listeners how tight it was, but in fact he said that he got SCAMMED. then a young woman comes on and says how she downloaded all of these songs because she was going to burn an album to disc for her friend, but she had so many songs on the computer that it apparently broke and her mom was MAD. finally, a girl came on who sounded as if she were at wit's end. her friend burned her the new nore album, BUT it didn't come with the album cover (i guess her friend is a novice or just inconsiderate). the cover was the BEST PART because it has this 'hot-ass shot of nore' on the cover that she would've put above her bed. if you haven't learned the lesson yet, piracy is wrong and the message was brought to you by def jam.

10 September 2002

jann wenner steps down from the ivory tower to write another glowing review of a buddy's record. (remember the five stars for mick jagger's last outing?)
i was switching through stations last night when i came to ktu. i stopped because i heard the lyrics, "remember after the fire, after all the rain, i will be the flame." sung by a woman. to a dance beat. apparently, this is the second volley in the reinterpretation of 80s power ballads into 00s dancefloor fillers (and, in the case of dj sammy's "heaven," back into 80s power ballads ("the candlelight remix.")) the singer is erin hamilton who, believe it or not, is carol burnett's daughter. her first single was a cover of "dream weaver" (!), but her album has been around for two years now. the "heaven" effect, then, is apparently quite similar to the strokes effect -- everything old is new again, e.g. garage rock, veni vedi vicious.

09 September 2002

i was listening to kid capri on bls the other night and he had a new, yes, new, single from r. kelly. where does he find the time? it's a ballad called "making my baby." unlike "heaven, i need a hug," it's not about his case, otherwise it would've been called "making it with baby."

06 September 2002

songs to download and sing: (in this order)
missy elliott, "work it"
coldplay, "the scientist"
kills, "cat claw"
honeycombs, "have i the right"
wilco, "rhythm"
raveonettes, "that great love sound"
future bible heroes, "smash the beauty machine"
reindeer section, "budapest"
shakedown, "at night" (thanks, tim!)
spoon, "the way we get by" (no, honest!)
l.a. times: who killed tupac shakur?: staff writer chuck phillips says that, after a yearlong investigation, the notorious b.i.g. paid for the killing and provided the murder weapon. "he didn't just want shakur dead. he wanted the satisfaction of knowing the fatal bullet came from his gun." (thanks to job for the link.)

04 September 2002

with 58% of the vote, it's kelly!
about those american idol songs: "before your love," sung tonight by kelly, was written by desmond child and cathy dennis. the better of the two, "a moment like this" (which actually has a good, if rushed bridge), was written by former cheiron songwriter, jorgen elofsson, best known for britney's "(you drive me) crazy" and "sometimes," and steps' dizzying and utterly brilliant "it's the way you make feel" (inconceivably rejected by britney!) somewhere, diane warren is recalling the days when she had the concession for this sort of thing...

02 September 2002

forget "lips like sugar" or "songbird," the ideal song for coldplay to cover is bread's "it don't matter to me." it is the very model of the selflessness, vulnerability, and magnaminity that chris martin attempts to imbue all of his songs with, even the ones that demonstrate a burgeoning political consciousness. "i never meant to cause you trouble"; "it don't matter to me if you take up with someone who's better than me"; "for you, i'd bleed myself dry"; "cause your happiness is all i want for you to find"; "so, i crawl back into your opening arms"; "cause there'll always be...an open heart waiting for you." coldplay is little more than bread gussied up to look like a rock 'n' roll band. but i like bread.