Category Archives: Music / Artists

Le Ballet D’Or

Spandau Ballet is reforming!!! Whoo-hooo?

Is this anything anyone was ever waiting for?  I’d vote for ‘no’ – unless you are their accountant or collected the rent on their flat every month.

Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with them, per se.  But there is nothing right with them either.  They are just…………..there.

I remember back in the day, my mother seeing them on some tv show singing, “True” – it couldn’t have been MTV, as we didn’t have cable then – and said aloud:  (paraphrasing, but close) “oh, why can’t all these bands be nice and wear suits like this group.”

I think I bruised my eyelids from rolling the eye balls so hard.

I’m sure she didn’t think that of the Beatles when they wore their suits back in 1963, so maybe she had come along with the times – to a degree.

“True” bored the ever-loving-shit out of me.  It was a time of decent enough music (though many would disagree), but man, the word “banal” just comes to mind.  I give credit where credit is due – their follow-up single, “Gold”, was the best song that was never a James Bond theme song (not that it was rejected or anything – I just meant in the style of…...).

But other than that?  Really – what is/was there?   How does reforming constitute anything more than playing rib-fests across the country?  They’re destined to be double billed with Rick Springfield for g-d’s sake!  Maybe it will be a throw-down to see who is the opening act.

Clearly they are serious about this little jaunt.  They even have an official website.  Hell, they were broken-up about 15 years before the inter-highway was even built.  Though I don’t think anyone other than these chaps were chomping at the bit to snag the URL.

Me?  I’m just holding out for the big Modern English reunion.  It’s coming.  Right?

Song by: Counting Crows

Speak My Language

Last night we saw Laurie Anderson. Again.

I’m thinking that made the ninth time in the last two decades or so. The most oft artist I have seen. Some of her performances have been better than others – which is kind of stating the obvious, as they can’t all be equal.

She’s never truly had a hit anything, though one could call “O Superman” her most known work.  And technically this was not a new show – I guess you’d call it a retrospective.

She did pieces from her last show Homecoming, which I wrote about last April.  She did pieces from End of the Moon, Happiness, Moby Dick and Speed of Darkness.  And then she just did a song or story here and there from Strange Angels or The Ugly One With All the Jewels. Only one snippet was new – not really specifically referencing Obama or Bush per se, but she morphed it into an older piece soon enough almost immediately.

Maybe because I’ve seen her so many times, I know what to expect.  Or at least I expect what to expect.  But the audience seems sooooo pretentious last night.  The guy next to me did is barely above the breath, yet too much so over it, “wow” between and during pieces.  Including pieces I don’t think were wow-able.

Or the chick in the lobby who was looking at the merchandise for sale (something I had never seen before at an Anderson show).  While viewing a t-shirt she said to her group, “this is a very unique shirt……………..VERY unique!!!”.

It wasn’t.   Not by a long shot.

But Laurie was.  If I had a criticism (and you know I do!), it is that she didn’t adapt her pieces at all from the other shows.   About 8 years ago she went to work for McDonald’s for two weeks – serving Big Macs and fries.   But in the show, she goes, “last year, I got a job at McDonald’s…”   Would it have been that hard to update the time frame?   Just a peeve of mine, I guess.

I knew the show was a going to be an amalgamation of shows, but I really wanted to hear more from Moby Dick, as it was her only show I had not seen.  I was not rewarded with this.

Still – I’m sure at some point, I will be looking forward to performance #10.

Song by: Laurie Anderson

Record of the Month

I figured I’d do a monthly ‘what I’m listening to’ kind of thing. This could be viewed as a lame placeholder kind of post. And probably it is. But it’s my blog! So there!

I will say, no one is more surprised by my like of the Killers than myself. I think I said that after I took my nephew to their concert pushing two years ago now, I would guess. Sure I had heard the hits of Hot Fuss on the airwaves and really took to “Somebody Told Me”, but not enough to buy the album.

It was their follow-up, the underrated and under appreciated Sam’s Town, that I really liked. Sure Sam’s Town had some Springtseen-esque qualities, or almost plagiarism, but it still worked. Their third disk of b-sides and out-takes was just that – killing time until a new disk landed. And it has.

Much like their first two disks, the Killers’ new release, Day & Age, comes across as trading on many older styles. Last time it was some Bruce, but this time they are back to (re)visit Bowie, Roxie Music, Duran Duran and New Order, as they did on their debut. Yeah, they have influences from my past, but on the other hand, they seem to pull much of it off as their own.

For musicianship and vocal talent, the Killers are quite adept and perform fairly well. They are all credible in their playing and singing.

Day & Age was produced by Stuart Price, who did Madonna’s Confession on a Dance Floor. You can hear some of that in this work, especially in “Human”, but for the most part, he blazes no new trails.

With “Human”, the group may have achieved the best pop song of the year. While the song was built for, but failed at, radio airplay – I’m a bigger fan of the opener, “Losing Touch”. With the horns and the vocal changes, it has a Bowie-like feel. “Spaceman” is also fun and could be a radio hit.

“A Dustland Fairytale” could be from Sam’s Town (read: Springsteen again) in style. The slow burn of “The World That We Live In” is kind of surprising to me. Ditto with the chorus to “Neon Tiger”. And I like the traditional disk closer, “Goodnight, Travel Well”. None of these will make a radio playlist ever. (I say ‘traditional’ because the iTunes version contains an additional three songs.)

And while there are other strong songs on the disk, there are some clearly weaker material (“Joy Ride”, “This is Your Life”).

If you’re looking for depth when it comes to lyrical content, you may as well look elsewhere (“you sold your soul, like a Roman vagabond”. Really??). Brandon Flowers (no relation, I don’t think, to the accomplished and world-acclaimed, Rebecca), might possibly be the gayest straight man ever, but he is not passing off meaningful words to most of these songs. You just have to take it for what it is.

I guess Day & Age is a three and a half-star disk. I would bet the material presents better live, but this is just a regular recording that you can skip and play what you wish.

Woman Like a Man

Woman Like a Man

Sarah Palin’s first press conference went exactly how I expected it would. Fortunately, it was really Tina Fey…..and again, she was hilarious (sorry, Becca!).

Update before even posting: Believe it or not, NBC and/or SNL have taken off the opening skit from their site. I had it linked and before I posted, I checked it and it was gone only to be replaced byPalin saying “Live from New York….”. I’m not giving that twat any airtime on my blog….not unless it really embarrasses her as a human being, let alone a candidate, that is.

(Update Update:  apparently the clip is back up.)

Unfortunately, Alec Baldwin, usually a comedy powerhouse on so many SNL skits, was weak weak weak and you can see him reading every. single. syllable. Palin’s (the “real” one) appearance on Weekend Update was predictable and weak. Let’s face it – she did nothing! ….much like she would do, if ever in office.

At least the MacGruber skits were somewhat funny! The first one was great.

While perusing some websites, I did my monthly look at Marti Jones’ site. I’ve blogged at least twice about Marti – one being a concert I saw of hers earlier this summer and then a year before that, as a Record of the Month post.

I saw this little snippet and just had to copy and paste it her observation of Palin.

Is it just me, or is the issue of Sarah Palin’s masquerading as “one of us” as in “(one of us) women,” being over emphasized? Sarah Palin stands for the anti-advancement of everything! She doesn’t represent me OR my husband. It wouldn’t matter if she were a man, we would both feel the same way. Women have longstrived for equality; equality among humans, not equality among women. We have equal rights, not equal philosophies. And to me, equality means diversity. Freedom to be who and what we want to be. So, what we have is an asshole running for VP. Not a woman.

Yes, I totally lifted it, and if Marti ever sees it, I apologize in advance for taking it without her permission.

Song by: Damien Rice

Rosie Strike Back

I have been a fan of Rosanne Cash‘s since the late 70’s.  Yes, I’m that old.   She is and was a great interpretive recording artist, but she is a really impressive songwriter too.

Actually, she is a pretty good writer, period.  She has a good book of short stories that is at least a decade old, a children’s book (who doesn’t?) and something non-fiction that is slated to drop in 2009.

As recording artists go, most of their websites are trash and only updated when they have a product to hawk.  Cash’s isn’t quite like that.  Since she only releases a disk every 3-4 years, who’d ever go to her site if it were only updated that often?  I can usually go to hers a few times a month to find something new.

She keeps a sort of blog and updates activities along with a standard newsletter, Mrs L’s Monthly (her married name is Leventhal – so now you don’t have to wonder).  Truth be told, there are months that it isn’t updated, but that is not really here or there. There are also updates on performances, activities and charities which she is active in.

Cash has also been an infrequent contributor to Measure for Measure, a NYT songwriter’s blog.  She has had pieces in New York and other publications as well.  So I had high hopes for her newest piece that ran in the Nation this last week.  It is a very tongue-in-cheek look at the GOP choice for VP:  She Who Must Not Be Named.

The article is good, but it’s not great.  She has all the right intent, but the execution seems half-hearted. Cash is usually smarter and wittier than the piece that is published. Maybe it was hurried job or something.

I guess it is still worth a read.

Song by: Rosanne Cash

Talk Normal

Friday night we went to go see Laurie Anderson. Clearly this is not a timely post, but as you may have seen, I got sidetracked the last few days.

I’ve lost count at exactly how many times I’ve seen one of her performances. I know it is probably at 7 or 8, but not sure which. If it is the latter, I do believe that pushes her to the front of the artist I have ever seen the most live.

On her Homeland tour (this one), it was the first time I have seen her with additional musicians. I did not see her Home of the Brave tour, where she had a full band, and all other times it has been her and her alone.

It was also my least favourite time seeing her. She wasn’t bad by any means, but the venue was ok and the mix was muddy. I almost have to assume that they did no soundcheck. There were a few times where she was clear, but more often than not much was garbled. Frustrating.

And it is frustrating because she is SO good. Not just at performance, but at what she has to say. Sometimes dead serious. Sometimes with a slightly humourous bent. If you don’t know her, Anderson does not sing as much as talk. She has perfect diction – which is just great (and when the sound guy doesn’t fuck it up). She has one album which I would consider singing (Strange Angels), and with this performance she sang mostly everything.

The odd thing with Anderson is, even when she’s out promoting something (which she isn’t), I’ve never seen her do material that I have heard before. And conversely, I’ve never seen material she’s performed show up on a future disk. Personally, I love that.

This material was darker than her previous shows. Topical for sure. If you have eight minutes to spare, this is one of the best things she did the other night. It is possibly the best protest song ever….and it’s got her kind of whimsy.

After the performance, she came out to the lobby to mingle with the paying customers. I would have loved to talk with her, but I wasn’t fighting that crowd…..and what a crowd. More Cosby-sweater wearing men than you can shake a stick at. No one I expected to see.

Laurie emerged in a red sweatshirt. Not black? I have never seen her out of black or white. I snapped some pics, but they were all horrid, so why embarrass myself or her by posting them?

Song by: Laurie Anderson

Song for a Future Generation

I am sure I am shamelessly trying to recapture my youth – something I will most likely fail at miserably – but this morning I purchased tickets to see the B-52s at the House of Blues.

So far they are only scheduled to play 10 dates, and we’re one of them.  I almost had to do this, as I have never seen them before!!!    Shut Up!  I know!!!!!

And really, when will I have another chance?

I know they have a new disk coming out later this month (warning:  expect to see it as a Record of the Month), but I’m sure the concert will be filled with classics.  I don’t mean “Love Shack”, “Roam” or “Rock Lobster” (overdone) classics – though I’m sure they will play them – but I’m hoping for “Planet Claire”, “Dance This Mess Around” “Legal Tender”, “Housework” and “Mesopotamia”.

If I don’t have sit through their song from the Flintstones movie, I’ll be ok.

But that did get me thinking – it’s their first disk in 16 years, though that was Good Stuff, their only disk I never got.  No Ricky. No Cindy. No good.

Now Cindy is back.  And I do love her and Kate’s harmonies.  Fred is Fred and there’s not much you can do with that voice.  But I do love the girls.

So, I do go on-line exactly at 10a to buy the tix.  Only General Admission floor are available.  No seats….standing/dancing only.   The old man in me came out and thought ‘WTF’, but then I thought, really – who is going to sit at a B-52s concert?

g-d, I hope it doesn’t suck.  I figure it will either be brilliant, or horrid.  Probably no in-between.

Song by: the B-52s

Girls with Guitars

Girls with Guitars

Thursday evening we went to go see basically what is known as a guitar pull – or where a few artists sit around with their guitars and alternate turns singing their songs, or other people’s songs.

But these weren’t just any artists I guess. No, here we had Emmylou Harris, Shawn Colvin and Patty Griffin. They were joined by Buddy Miller.

This isn’t the first time we’d seen something like this. Three years ago we saw a similar set, but replace Harris for Mary Chapin Carpenter and Miller for Dar Williams.

The other night wasn’t too much different than a few years back. Four chairs, eight guitars, four mics and that’s about it. No screens and no lighting scheme. Basics with only the talent to make or break the show. Needless to say they made it – but not without some

It’s not shock that I knew all the women’s songs and only some of Buddy’s. I had never seen Emmylou live before and she was the reason I wanted to go so badly. She did not disappoint. The woman is a legend and a voice like none other. The voice and woman were absolutely stunning. And she’s funny. She lamented about the sad state of movies – and how she could not stand No Man for Country and There Will Be Blood. She demands a movie with a happy ending – she thinks she’s earned it.

Harris performed songs from all over her career – “Poncho & Lefty” all the way up to “Michelangelo” from Red Dirt Girl.

Colvin, in my mind, was the strongest – but she usually is. Her song choices, her guitar skills and extremely strong and clear voice. She mixed the older (“Tennessee”) with the new in songs (the excellent “Cinnamon Road”) – and even throwing in a cover of “Rugged Road”, which she claims to have never played live – telling the other women ‘don’t fuck up’, which went over well with the group and audience.  Colvin’s banter in most concerts is as good as the music. I could hang out with her easily, I think.

Griffin was the only iffy one – and I know I’m being hypercritical. No offense to her – she was in great voice, but performed almost exactly the same songs she did three years back. What gives? I’ve heard “Flaming Red”, “Mary”, “Long Ride Home” and “Tomorrow Night” before. Gimme something different!  She’s got enough to choose from – and I thought a logical one would have been “Beyond the Blue”, which she wrote but was recorded by Emmylou .   That being said, she did do a newer song, which is about teen gay suicide that uses the word ‘fag’ a few too many times for my liking.

We had ok seats. Nothing outstanding. I sat behind a guy with the head the size of huge melon and Denton was behind a guy 8″ taller than he. Better doors than windows.  But there was a good crowd, which always bodes well for a return of something like this.

Song by: Mary Chapin Carpenter

Basted in Blood

Oh, sure – you’d think the last two days of non-Site of the Month posts would be leading up to an actual Site of the Month. Silly silly people – you!

I do believe I mention this year after year, but I find T-giving to be a bland and boring meal. It’s just not for me. ….and let’s not even get into the family aspect of it.

I wanted to post a video of a song done on SNL way back, but true to form, much of NBC copywrited material is not out there. The song was done on Weekend Update and sung by Sarah McLachlan & Ana Gasteyer (who went under the guise of Wendy Calhoun). It was a hilarious send-up of a vegan T-giving protest song.

I do not have the video, but I do have the lyrics:


We gather together
For yams, beans, and cranberry sauce
But have you given much thought lately
To the turkey holocaust?
200 million noble birds
Slaughtered every fall
Ain’t no difference between Hitler, Stalin
And the folks at Butterball

So set your tables, America
From Birmingham to Branson
But when you carve that turkey
You’re a finger lickin’ Charlie Manson

Enjoy your pumpkin pie
Your buttery Idaho spuds
Grandma’s chestnut stuffing
And a turkey basted in blood

Basted in blood Basted in blood Basted in blood
Enjoy your turkey, enjoy…Basted in blood Basted in blood Basted in blood
Basted in blood Basted in blood Basted in blood

Song by: Sarah McLachlan & Wendy Calhoun

Can’t Stop the Music

Well, actually you probably can.  And it probably will.

I know it’s a flimsy excuse for a site and probably no basis in reality – but it’s out there: the iPod Death Clock.  I found it via a tech webiste called CrunchGear.

Though I’ve had my Nano for over two years (and still lovin’ it), it seems it would only have about 204 more days to go before it hits the expiration date.

I always knew there is some kind of shelf life for these things, but kind of amazed (if it is true) that three years is what is expected for it’s longevity.

Granted one can have a longer existence for it – and the calculations are based on how often you use it and how many times you may have dropped it (too many to count!).  There is a placeholder for ‘where you normally use it’ which kind of – and kind of not – makes sense.  I assume using it during extreme sports could harm it more often than when you use it sitting and doing nothing.  But on the bus?  Are the chances that it gets dropped and stepped on greater?  Or getting stolen?   There are no explanations.

But I do use mine on planes, trains and automobiles… well as when I’m in the kitchen cooking (hooked up through the Bose radio), when I bike, cut the lawn and shovel the drive.  And even sometimes in the office.  It was a great little purchase that I don’t regret  – even if the new video Nano’s are $100 cheaper for the same storage.   ….but that gives me something to look forward to in 200 days or so.

I think the most disconcerting thing about this site was the need to find the serial number on the back of the iPod.  Even with bifocals, I had a very very difficult time distinguishing an S from a 5.

Forget the iPod Death Clock – what about the Blobby Death Clock.  I’m gettin’ old!

song by: The Village People