Monthly Archives: March 2008

Spring, my ass.

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Spring, my ass.

Hard to believe it was just yesterday I was out on the bike proving that I’m way too old, barely able to survive a stupid 20K ride. Today, I’m shoveling piles of wet slop falling from the sky. Enough!

Tusk, revisited

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Let’s face it, any sane band would have just given it up or completely imploded after the ridiculous success of Rumours. It sold a millions of copies, it charted at least four singles (and all the songs on it received some radio play), there wasn’t a bad note on it, and 30 years later it is still a great album. Who would want to follow that?

So Fleetwood Mac had two choices: more of the same (and to some extent, Rumours was already more of the same, a follow-up to the sound of Fleetwood Mac that made people forget the band had even existed in earlier incarnations); or, do whatever the hell you please, and see if people like it. Fleetwood Mac chose that route, along with some of the typical excesses of the ’70s (like including a marching band on the chorus of “Tusk”) — and even then produced an album that would have been considered a huge success for any other band. I heard enough I didn’t love at the time, and was generally allergic to the indulgence and high price of double albums (it was $13.98, when I could buy great used records for $3) that I just gave Tusk a pass. But I remained curious, especially when I heard that David Lowery and Camper Van Beethoven decided to remake the entire album a few years back.

So when I ran across a copy of Tusk at the library the other day, I decided to give this old album a try. And you know what? It doesn’t suck. In fact, it’s pretty good, and a lot of it is very good. So I feel like I owe Mick and John and everybody an apology.

Not to worry, I will not be rethinking any Eagles albums.

Format wars

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Blu-Ray? HD-DVD? I dunno, just let it play the stuff I’ve already paid for. My last bet on a format was Mini-Disc, a great, compact little format that was made irrelevant by the ability burn CDs at home. The little deck is still taking up space in my life, along with my old tape deck, which suddenly strikes me as ridiculous — but then I’ve been watching a lot of “Clean House.”

My Stereo, 1988This picture is from the last big format shift — you can’t see the turntable below, but there are two tape decks (always hated tape’s lack of fidelity), an amp I still use, and my first CD player. This was 1985, the CD player easily ran a week’s pay, and I started springing a ridiculous $16 a pop for CDs (at a time when new vinyl was still about $8), and mostly spent it on classical music, for the lack of scratches and not having to flip the record over. Just a couple of years later, I had bought my last vinyl (for a long time, anyway), CDs had gotten marginally more reasonable (and took up less space than LPs), tapes were still important at home and in the car.

Nowadays, I mostly listen to my CDs through iTunes (because my CD player sucks), the tape deck and mini-disc deck are off to the side, and I’m playing LPs more often than I have in 18 years. I’ve even bought “new” vinyl lately, and lots of bands are issuing LPs again.

Winter doldrums

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Hate people who complain about our winters, which is about to mean that I hate myself, because this on-going condition of general blecchiness is really getting on my nerves. I could take snow (and snow and snow) gladly — would be happy to give the snowshoes a workout. It’s this ice and rain, day after day, that’s starting to be crazy. On the one hand, it’s kinda warm (and I almost got out for another ride the other day but couldn’t hack the wind), but it’s just dreary.

So there’s been a crazy amount of reading and TV watching. I’ve read biographies of Steve Martin, Andy Kaufman and Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones (which, somewhat beside the point, got me into a little Marianne Faithfull listening jag). Currently working on Pete Hamill’s “Downtown,” a re-read of an old Schenectady history, and “People of Albany,” a lively little tome on the denizens of my favorite and most-visited burial ground, Albany Rural Cemetery. Have watched endless episodes of “Ninja Warrior,” been completely caught up in the much-better-than-it-deserves-to-be “Celebrity Rehab,” and have gotten completely out of order in watching “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.” Between that and “The Bionic Woman,” it’s just such a relief to find some form of scripted television still remains, and in both cases, it’s pretty good, too. I also record way more movies from TCM than I’m ever going to watch, and even then I have to ask that Turner give people a heads up when they’re going to have a little John Garfield marathon! I jumped in on the tail end of “Body and Soul,” a great boxin’ pitcher with a standard cop-out happy ending (which is why Kurt Douglas’s “Champion” is such a rarity), then had time to record a couple more John Garfield gems. As John Prine sang, “John Garfield in the afternoon, Montgomery Clift at night.” (Saw “From Here To Eternity” a couple of weeks back, too.)

Clearly, I need some sunshine to play in.