Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Three 6 Mafia featuring UGK - "Sippin' on Da Syrup" (When the Smoke Clears, Relativity 2000)

Before "Stay Fly," before the Oscar (still: !!), this was their national breakthrough - and deservedly so. This is a marvelously low-key track, underpinned by perfect minor-key synth lines.


Soto on Hole's masterpiece, via email and so good it needs to be shared:

Having bought 'Live Through This' years (1997) after the context in which it was reviewed, the extent to which Cobain "helped" Love write its song seemed moot. As Ann Powers once remarked, OF COURSE he was an influence: he was her husband, for God's sake, a terrific songwriter in his own right. It neither besmirches Love's credit nor dimnishes her achievement by suggesting that she may have played those songs to him. (No one had a problem arguing in 1980 that Yoko's 'Double Fantasy' material and 'Season of Glass' benefited greatly from listening to John's songs.)

Anyway, in 1997 what astonished me was the album's consistency. Every single song approached motherhood, the wages of femininity, and autobiography from an unexpected angle – musically and lyrically. Love's smart enough to realize feminism is a result of engaging the world: through babies, breast milk, cradles, and living with a man as contradictory and intelligent as she is. As the songs suggest, this is far from easy, but she tried engagement the easy way and it scared the shit out of her ("Credit in the Straight World"). So she mocks the straight world without forgetting that she's a product of it ("Rock Star").

And the album is tight as a mother.

Def Leppard - "Pour Some Sugar On Me" (Hysteria, Polygram 1987)

"Do you take sugar? One lump or two?"
It never gets old, folks. This is how you make a classic.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Jukin' all over the place

So the new-look new-format Stylus Singles Jukebox is up, and it's somethin' lovely - in blog(gish) format, now updated multiple times daily. I'm contributing again; my reviews of current singles by Alan Jackson and Beyoncé are up now, with much more to come.

Monday, January 29, 2007

WKRP in Cincinnati

On DVD at last! (In a couple months, I mean.) Thank you Jesus, thank you Jesus, thank you Jesus!

RIch Boy featuring Polow da Don - "Throw Some D's" (Zone 4/Interscope 2007)

My favorite new song not by Mika right now. HOT LIKE FYAH.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

The Notorious B.I.G. featuring Diddy, Nelly, Jagged Edge and Avery Storm (Duets: The Final Chapter, Bad Boy 2005)

This probably should've made my top 10 last year; it's certainly one of the most memorable songs of '06 for me. (Also: love that MTV in other (read: European) countries isn't censored.) Some day, Duets' rep will be rehabbed, mark my words.

A boy can dream...

Does this mean we're getting an all-Mould edition of American Idol? That would RULE. (I can hear it now: a country version of "See A Little Light," the token "rocker" doing "Makes No Sense At All," "Ice Cold Ice" recast as a torch song... whatcha think, Bob? Could it work?)

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

So for a long time (a couple years), my blog pendulum swung hard to just music/media; I mostly quit reading (other) gay blog(ger)s. But the pendulum's swung back, as it always does, so now I'm reading 'em again. The blogroll now features a selection of my favorite online faggots for your reading delectation.

Ini Kamoze - "Here Comes the Hotstepper" (Pret-a-Porter Soundtrack, Columbia/Miramax 1995)

Happy Wednesday.


This story is the utter definition of "incredible." It's about alleged sex offenders in Arizona, and must be read to be believed.

AM Radio

AM Radio = All Mellencamp Radio, and that is a very good thing. (Review of Freedom's Road coming soon.)

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

One of my favorite things. New Tuesdays and Thursdays, noon EST, right here. Andy Glockner rocks me like a hurricane.

Oscar nominations, part 4

NOT nominated for Best Picture, Director, or Screenplay - along with Volver's snub, this is the biggest surprise of Christmas Morning in Hollywood.

Questions, comments, concerns:

-Dear Dijon Mustard, could you please do something in a film other than play an embattled black (usually African) men? kthxbye.
-Do the actors really like Blood Diamond that much?
-Do they really not like The Departed that much (only one acting nom, albeit for the very deserving Mark Wahlberg)?
-Who at DreamWorks gets fired for flubbing Dreamgirls' seemingly-sure-thing noms?
-Will Peter O'Toole only win Best Actor if he dies between now and the close of balloting?
-Will Will Smith win if he doesn't?
-It just occurred to me: the Fresh Prince and Marky Mark, Oscar nominees in the same year! (Smith has been previously nominated for Ali, and don't forget Queen Latifah's Supporting nod for Chicago: hip hop represent!)
-My favorite category might be Best Adapted Screenplay: Borat (!), Children of Men, The Departed, Little Children, and Notes on a Scandal (which I've yet to see).
-6 nominations for Pan's Labyrinth?! We saw it this weekend, and yes, it's a good film. But it's not a great film; it doesn't transcend - well, anything. The creature-feature parts of the film are the least interesting, to be honest, while any time Sergi Lopez is onscreen, things pick up. Guillermo del Toro seems to have a limited palette as a director.
-This could be the craziest Oscars in years; apart from Dame Helen Mirren and Jennifer Hudson, it feels like almost every race is wide-open (but pleaseohplease God don't let fucking Clint beat Marty for Best Director again, that'd be the ultimate Oscar cruelty) (and please don't let Alan Arkin' sleepwalking performance beat Eddie Murphy's electric highwire act just because Arkin's, y'know, old).

Let the games begin!

Oscar nominations, part 3

NOT nominated for Best Foreign Film - even more of a shock than Curse of the Golden Flower not making the same category's shortlist. Stunning - stunningly bad, and wrong; Volver is one of Almodovar's greatest films.

Oscar nominations, part 2

A morning of firsts:

-First time ever that the film with the most nods (Dreamgirls with 8) is NOT up for Best Picture.

-First time since Best Cinematography became a single category (in 1967 - from the '30s until '67, there were separate awards for B&W and Color) that none of the nominees match up with the BP nods.

-First time since 1927 - i.e., since the first Oscars EVER - that none of the BP nominees are represented in Best Actor (from In Contention).

-This is not, however, the first time one film has claimed 3 (of 5) nods for Best Original Song (Dreamgirls' "Listen," "Love You I Do," and "Patience"); Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King both did the same, and each won the trophy (for "Beauty and the Beast" and "Can You Feel the Love Tonight," respectively) and Best Original Score (for which Dreamgirls isn't nommed) to boot.

The hits just keep on coming

(Photo credit:

J.P. Calderon, the hottest guy from the last season of Survivor (well, except for winner Yul), is apparently coming out tomorrow night on The Janice Dickinson Modeling Agency, in case you care. Hopefully his Instinct photo spread will include plenty of semi-nude pics.


Watching Serena Williams battle her way into the Australian Open semis last night was grueling, but exhilarating. She beat 16th seed Shahar Peer 3-6, 6-2, 8-6. It's the first time Serena's been this far in any tournament, let alone a Slam, since she won in Melbourne 2 years ago. (Also: listening to Mary Carillo and Pam Shriver call a match [on ESPN2] is a blast.) I especially love this quote from Serena:

"Definitely ready to create some more carnage," she added with a smile. "I feel absolutely no pressure. I don't think anyone thought I would get this far, except for me and my mom."

Up next, 10th seed Nicole Vaidisova. Winner's in the championship. Do you really want to bet against Ms. Williams at this point?


Yawn. Wake me when it's over. I mean: the Chili Peppers? A RATM reunion? This is the best Coachella can do?


Mika's "Grace Kelly" sounds like the great lost Freddie Mercury single, and is better than anything on the last Scissor Sisters album. (Let's be honest.) It's also the first great pure pop record of 2007. If his forthcoming debut, Life in Cartoon Motion, is as good as this, he'll be a candidate for rookie of the year.

Oscar nominations, part 1

Oscar nominee (on left).

Sunday, January 21, 2007


Super Bowl 41!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Exposé - "Let Me Be the One" (Exposure, Arista 1986)

These bitches were fierce, honey - don't get it twisted.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Oscars: getting it wrong again

In shocking news, an Oscar committee likely made up of old, out-of-touch retirees has found that no Asian films were good enough in 2006 to make the Best Foreign Film shortlist. That Curse of the Golden Flower is missing from this list is a disgrace, but when it comes to the "secret" Academy committees (see also: Documentaries), I'm not at all surprised. Disgusted, but not surprised.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007


No, not the nasty Idol-ator (heh heh), but the good Mr. Reynolds. I've still not finished Rip It Up and Start Again (footnotes now available in blog form), just recently bought another copy of The Sex Revolts, the book he co-wrote with his missus (as he calls Joy Press), and consider Generation Ecstasy/Energy Flash (depending upon which side of the Atlantic is your own) one of the greatest books ever written. Ever. Now comes word that he's got a new anthology coming, titled Bring the Noise. Hoo-fucking-ray. Pound for pound, he's one of the best music crits alive.

Return of the mack

He's back.
(Seems somehow fitting that I just happened to click on his link in my blogroll while listening to side 2 of Cameo's Word Up!)

Film top 10: 2006

As a kind of addendum to the post below, and also after seeing his list and now that of Stylus: I've finally seen enough of 2006's late-breakers that I'm comfortable compiling a top 10.

1. The Departed
2. Curse of the Golden Flower
3. Children of Men
4. The Queen
5. Volver
6. Dreamgirls
7. Little Children
8. Cars
9. Marie Antoinette
10. Thank You For Smoking

Even more Oscarliciousness: updated

Who I'd personally nominate right now, based solely on what I've actually seen.

The Departed
Curse of the Golden Flower
Children of Men
The Queen

Clive Owen - Children of Men
Leonardo DiCaprio - The Departed
Matt Damon - The Departed
Aaron Eckhart - Thank You for Smoking
Sacha Baron Cohen - Borat

Helen Mirren - The Queen
Penelope Cruz - Volver
Gong Li - Curse of the Golden Flower
Meryl Streep - The Devil Wears Prada
Kate Winslet - Little Children

Supporting Actor
Eddie Murphy - Dreamgirls
Jack Nicholson - The Departed
Mark Wahlberg - The Departed
Michael Sheen - The Queen
Jackie Earle Haley - Little Children

Supporting Actress
Jennifer Hudson - Dreamgirls
Carmen Maura - Volver
Clare-Hope Ashitey - Children of Men
Meryl Streep - A Prairie Home Companion
Emily Blunt - The Devil Wears Prada

Martin Scorcese - The Departed
Alfonso Cuaron - Children of Men
Zhang Yimou - Curse of the Golden Flower
Pedro Almodovar - Volver
Sofia Coppola - Marie Antoinette

Original Screenplay
The Queen
Little Miss Sunshine

Adapted Screenplay
The Departed
Children of Men
Thank You for Smoking
Little Children

A Scanner Darkly

*Sorry, but to me just because the film's based around a character from a television series doesn't make it an adapted screenplay. I mean, what was more purely original this past year?
**There were only 2 I had an interest in seeing this year, and both exceeded my expectations.

Still haven't seen: Half Nelson, Letters from Iwo Jima, Notes on a Scandal, The History Boys, United 93, Babel, Venus, The Lives of Others, Pan's Labyrinth, Sherrybaby, The Last King of Scotland

Weekend haul

Since the demise of Tower (which I really meant to eulogize, but just never got around to doing), I miss having a big all-purpose record store nearby. I'd always rather pick up and hold a CD in my hands before purchasing it, rather than just going the route. (Don't even talk to me about iTunes; it has its uses, but I'm old school.)

There are a couple of Virgin Megastores near us, but the only one worth a damn is the West Hollywood location, on Sunset. (Sadly, the Burbank location closed over a year ago.) The BF and I hit it this weekend, as we hadn't been there in months - mainly because we spent most of the last few months of '06 loading up at Tower's going out of business sale, plus I occasionally pick up big-name titles on sale at Target, and Amoeba's always a good time as well - and I'd been missing it, so we went. To my shock, they had quite a few clearance bins scattered about the store. Most of 'em were filled with crap, but one particular bin in the dance section was loaded with enough goodies to make me feel like I was back in Tower during their (not quite, but you know what I mean) last days.

I picked up:
-Chromeo Presents Un Joli Mix Pour Toi
-Paradisco 3000 Presents Chicago Boogie
-Rio Baile Funk: Favela Booty Beats
-Salsoul 30th (2CD)
all for $4.99 apiece!

On top of that, I nabbed a box of Bananarama's Really Saying Something (mediocre UK "best-of") and The Twelve Inches of Bananarama (a much better best-of, plus they're all the original 12"s, not some newfangled crap), and EMI UK's The Best Club Anthems 2006 double (some cheese, some quality, better than I expected) each for $10, a copy of the original (un-remastered) CD of Cameo's Word Up! for $3.50 (WTF?!), and at Amoeba, the '04 UK double Produced by Trevor Horn for $9.99. Including tax, I spent just over $60 for all of the above. See what I mean about feeling like I was at Tower's last farewell? (And I haven't even mentioned that I found a copy of Simon Napier-Bell's book about Wham! for $6!)

Friday, January 12, 2007

Singles of the year

It just occurred to me that this (2006) was the third consecutive year that I picked a hip hop record as my single of the year - and fourth of the past five.




My '03 choice wasn't hip hop, strictly speaking, but was certainly of hip hop.



I still stand by every one of these picks.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Jackin' all over my face

I've finally had a chance to compare my Jackin' Pop ballot to the overall results. My lists are in ranked order, 1-10 (1-5 for reissues). I gave my albums descending points: 15-14-13-12-11-9-8-7-6-5.

Top 10 Albums of 2006
6 (70) Bob Dylan - Modern Times (Columbia)
68 (13) Johnny Cash - American V: A Hundred Highways (American/Lost Highway)
162 (5) Jerry Lee Lewis - Last Man Standing (Artists First/Shangri-La)
12 (57) Sonic Youth - Rather Ripped (Geffen)
4 (102) Clipse - Hell Hath No Fury (Re-Up/Star Trak)
256 (3) Alan Jackson - Like Red on a Rose (Arista Nashville)
44 (22) Thom Yorke - The Eraser (XL)
234 (4) Pet Shop Boys - Fundamental (Rhino)
1,226 (1) V/A - She Was Country When Country Wasn't Cool: A Tribute to Barbara Mandrell (BNA)
2 (118) Ghostface Killah - Fishscale (Def Jam)

I bumped TV on the Radio from my ballot, and regret it. (It would've replaced the Mandrell tribute, in all likelihood.) Over the past week, I've been relistening to some of my choices and have found: 1. The Dylan deserves every bit of praise thrown at it; it's my favorite (yes!) of his trio of past-decade releases. 2. Lord, that Jerry Lee record is a blast. 3. Gimme another month, and Clipse might crack my top three. 4. Ditto the Alan Jackson. (Precious Memories was just outside my top 10.) 5. The SY and Yorke are very fine records, but not the most fun listens.

Also, had I heard it in time, Girl Talk's Night Ripper would've been a lock for my top 5, if not top 3, and Nas's Hip Hop Is Dead might have made my ballot. (As is, the latter is my current #1 album of 2007 - that didn't take long, did it?)

Top 10 Singles/Tracks of 2006
84 (6) Birdman & Lil' Wayne - Stuntin' Like My Daddy (Cash Money)
56 (9) Ciara - Promise (BMG)
240 (2) Madonna - Get Together (Warner Bros.)
6 (45) Nelly Furtado featuring Timbaland - Promiscuous (Mosley Music/Geffen)
240 (2) LL Cool J featuring Jennifer Lopez - Control Myself (Def Jam)
451 (1) Missy Elliott - Teary Eyed (Maurice Club Mix) (Goldmind/Atlantic)
84 (6) Jay-Z - Show Me What You Got (Def Jam)
451 (1) Hank Williams, Jr. featuring Big & Rich, Van Zant, and Gretchen Wilson - That's How They Do It In Dixie (Curb)
451 (1) Loleatta Holloway - Love Sensation (Hi-Tak Burnin' Up Club Radio Edit) (Gusto UK)
32 (16) Beyoncé - Ring the Alarm (Columbia)

I'm not surprised that I was the only voter for a pair of import-only remixes, but am a little surprised that no one else cast a vote for the deliciously delirious "Dixie." (Not even Chuck Eddy!) I voted for the latter as my #2 single in Nashville Scene's poll, behind Cash's "God's Gonna Cut You Down."

And how the fuck does TV on the Radio's "Wolf Like Me" beat out "Promiscuous"?!

Top 5 Reissues of 2006
31 (9) V/A - Journey Into Paradise... The Larry Levan Story (Rhino)
94 (3) Chic - The Definitive Groove Collection (Atlantic/Rhino)
116 (2) Missy Elliott - Respect M.E. (Warner UK)
190 (1!) Stephanie Mills - Gold (Hip-O)
8 (21) R.E.M. - And I Feel Fine...: The Best of the I.R.S. Years 1982-1987 (I.R.S./Capitol)

The Levan comp waxes A Tom Moulton Mix, seriously. After repeated listens, a part of me wonders if Moulton might've been a tiny bit overrated as a remixer. Then I read the myriad testimonials to Moulton's prowess and wonder yet again if there's something I'm just not getting.

Top 5 Artists of 2006
1. Timbaland
2. Alan Jackson
3. Madonna
4. Beyoncé

I didn't bother to look up where my artists of the year placed, but I know that Timbaland was #2 overall. I only voted for four.

Pazz & Jop is next month, and I believe the Country Music Critics Poll gets announced circa January's end. So we ain't done yet.

Perhaps my ultimate musical comfort food, f'reals.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Rupert Holmes - "Him" (Partners In Crime, Infinity/MCA 1979)

Lip-synched on Don Kirshner's Rock Concert, no less.

What I wrote back in '02:

I'm listening to rupert holmes' "him" for about the sixth consecutive time. yes, rupert holmes, he of "the pina colada song" fame (you know: "if you like pina coladas/and getting caught in the rain," etc.). "him" was the followup single to all those coladas, released in 1980; it made it all the way to #6 in the u.s. singles chart, which amazed me as until a couple months ago, I'd never even heard, nor heard of, it. did you know that he wrote songs for the drifters and platters? or that he produced streisand? and that's still not why you should care. it's all about "him," which is one of those nasty (possible) breakup songs from someone you don't expect (see also: linda ronstadt's "easy for you to say"). "him" concerns a lover/husband discovering his lady's infidelity:

"over by the window
there's a pack of cigarettes
not my brand, you understand
sometimes the girl forgets

she forgets to hide them
I know who left those smokes behind
she'll say, "oh, he's just a friend"
and I'll say "oh, I'm not blind," to

him, him, him
what's she gonna do about him?
she's gonna have to do without him
or do without
me, me, me
no one gets to get it for free
it's me or it's him"

and later:

"I don't want to own her
but I can't let her have it both ways
three is one too many of us
she leaves with me, or stays
with him..." (chorus continues)

this has got to be one of the most spot-on, realistic songs about a cheating lover/spouse ever, and it's all the more stunning coming from, well, the "pina colada" man. holmes' observations are honest and real, with no sugar-coating, and his (his protagonist's, rather) attitude to it all is intentionally rational, rather than blase. the music is what you might expect, typical state-of-the-art cusp-of-the-'80s midtempo pop. but the lyrics - oh! what an honest punch they pack. succulent.

1. I apologize for the lower-case; I was still in my "I worship e.e. cummings and therefore if I eschew capitalization [Ed. note: except for "I," oddly] when I blog I am somehow more intelligent" phase.
2. Of course, I've since learned that Holmes not only has the writing and producing expertise mentioned above, but that he won a pair of Tonys in '86 for the music and book of The Mystery of Edwin Drood. The man can flat-out write, got it?
3. Allmusic's Jason Elias is a big fan of Partners In Crime.
4. Late-'70s studio pop RULES.
5. Alf, you need to be all over this now.

Emmylou Harris, Dolly Parton and Linda Ronstadt - "The Sweetest Gift"/"Bury Me Beneath the Willow" (live, 1976)

Damn. Apparently from The Dolly Show, 1976 - a full 11 years before Trio was released. It's worth noting that while Emmylou was just starting out, commercially, and Dolly's hits had momentarily shrunk a bit (to be quickly rectified with 1977's Here You Come Again), Linda was hot as blazes in '76, working a #1 country/#3 pop album, Hasten Down the Wind. That makes seeing her in this context all the more surprising.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

[Insert pithy Bloc Party pun-cum-headline here.]

We interrupt 1982 (see below) to alert your attention to this rather astounding interview with Kele Okereke (2nd from right), the lead singer of Bloc Party, in The Observer. A couple of things:

1. This is a really, really well-written feature; kudos to Craig McLean.
2. By the sound of this, A Weekend in the City sounds like it could be a quantum leap forward from Silent Alarm, an album I admire more than love.
3. GAY GAY GAY GAY GAY GAY. Yay. (I had no idea.)

(Photo credit:

The Who - "Eminence Front" (It's Hard, MCA 1982)

My single favorite Who song, no apologies (and really, are you surprised?). If anyone has any thoughts as to whether I'd be well-served by picking up the '97 remaster of It's Hard, well, that's why I've got a comments box.

I haven't done one of these in years, but I liked the look of this one. Taken from Seamus McStebbins (glad to see you writing again, stud).

1. When you looked at yourself in the mirror today, what was the first thing you thought? It's too fucking early.

2. How much cash do you have on you? $28, only because I remembered to grab a 20-dollar bill as I was leaving this a.m.

3. What's a word that rhymes with "DOOR?" Floor.

4. Favorite planet? What?

5. Who is the 4th person on your missed call list on your cell phone? My baby sister.

6. What is your favorite ring tone on your phone? It's not a ringtone per sé, but the ring that tells me my partner's calling.

7. What shirt are you wearing? A cranberry long-sleeved oxford by Claiborne. (I'm at work, yo.)

8. Do you "label" yourself? You mean like as a bear? And a music geek?

9. Name the brand of the shoes you're currently wearing? Florsheim. (See 7.)

10. Bright or dark room? For what?

11. What do you think about the person who took this survey before you. He's still hot.

12. What does your watch look like? Silver, with a light-and-dark blue face. It's a Fossil.

13. What were you doing at midnight last night? Sleeping.

14. What did your last text message you received on your cell say? "More on 'Take it away' tomorrow; or check yr massive account." (From him, no points for guessing.)

Here's the rest of the exchange, via email:

Inskeep: Can we talk about how ABSURDLY GORGEOUS this Macca song is, please? The horn charts, the harmonies, the ridiculous layered vocals, the whole TONE of it.

Soto: The FIRST FIFTEEN SECONDS are utter genius: the pseudo-reggae pattern of the drums, Macca's bass almost singing its eloquence, the CHORUS....that's where I say, "Enough," and proclaim him as the supreme melodist of the rock era. And it encapsulates his appeal so well: the song is utter nonsense, and it works!

Sure enough, I picked up a used copy of Wingspan this weekend. This after hearing "Goodnight Tonight" while furniture shopping, and receiving a 1983 issue of Billboard which I purchased via eBay, in which the Hot 100 was topped by Macca and Jacko's "Say Say Say" (more on which, whaddaya know and I swear we're not butt-buddies, here).

15. Where is your nearest 7-11? To where I am right now? No clue. From home, there's one about 10-12 blocks away.

16. What's a word that you say a lot? Fuck.

17. Who told you he/she loved you last? My partner, sleepily, as I left for work.

18. Last furry thing you touched? A stuffed bunny at home.

19. How many drugs have you done in the last three days? Only alcohol, which I don't think is actually a drug.

20. How many rolls of film do you need developed? There's a half-finished roll (from September!) in a disposable camera we need to finish and take in.

21. Favorite age you have been so far? What a dumb question.

22. Your worst enemy? Myself.

23. What is your current desktop picture? At work, nothing (not allowed). At home, a snowy winter scene.

24. What was the last thing you said to someone? "Do you have anything for me?"

25. If you had to choose between a million bucks or to be able to fly what would it be? $1,000,000.

26. Do you like someone? What is this, seventh grade?

27. The last song you listened to? Fountains of Wayne's "Stacy's Mom," courtesy of my Launchcast. Still a perfect little power-pop nugget, and I'm not known for loving power-pop, y'know?

28. What time of day were you born? 6:10am.

29. What's your favorite number? See 26, above.

30. Where did you live in 1987? North Manchester, Indiana.

31. Are you jealous of anyone? Sometimes.

32. Is anyone jealous of you? How should I know?

33. Where were you when 9/11 happened? At work in Norfolk, Virginia, freaking out as information trickled in because we were only 2 blocks from a Federal Building. Of course, our cunty superiors who were out of town didn't let us leave, even though every building surrounding ours evacuated.

34. What do you do when vending machines steal your money? Shrug and move on.

Where's 35?

36. If you had to get a tattoo, where would it be? On my hip, so it could be covered up anytime.

37. If you could be fluent in any other language, what would it be? French, because if I were fluent in French that'd mean I'd have my B.A.

38. Would you move for the person you loved? You bet - I've done it twice in this decade.

39. Are you touchy feely? Less so the older I get.

40. What's your life motto? Life's what you make it, as Talk Talk sang.

41. Name three things that you have on you at all times? Cell phone, keys, wallet.

42. What's your favorite town/city? Los Angeles.

43. What was the last thing you paid for with cash? Lunch: a big salad and a Diet Coke.

44. When was the last time you wrote a letter to someone on paper and mailed it? A letter, as opposed to a card? No idea; suffice it to say it's been years.

45. Can you change the oil on a car? Fuck no.

46. Your first love: what is the last thing you heard about him/her? I honestly don't remember. I tracked down what may be his address and phone number last year, but have never followed up.

47. How far back do you know about your ancestry? To jolly olde England.

48. The last time you dressed fancy, what did you wear and why did you dress fancy? If by "fancy" you mean dressed up, right now: I'm at work, so today I'm wearing a cranberry dress shirt, a black necktie with silver, grey and red diagonal stripes, black slacks and black dress shoes.

49. Does anything hurt on your body right now? The tip of my tongue, which I somehow cut yesterday.

50. Have you been burned by love? Oh, honey, have I evah.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: Class of '07

The announcement's been made: Van Halen, R.E.M., Patti Smith, the Ronettes, and GRANDMASTER FLASH & THE FURIOUS FIVE.

R.E.M. obviously belong in on first ballot. It's about fucking time Patti got in (her 6th or 7th ballot, I believe), and nice that she and her pal Stipey go in together. The Ronettes I've got no issue with - Ronnie Spector really does belong. Van Halen, I guess - but what's most exciting about their impending induction is the news that both David Lee Roth and Sammy Hagar are included in the induction, not to mention now-on-the-outs bassist Michael Anthony. (Click under "2007 Inductees announced!" here to see exactly who's going in this year.) Won't that be fun for Eddie Van Asshole at the ceremony? (He's a phenomenal guitarist, or at least used to be, but c'mon - making your 16-year-old son the band's new bassist? Dick.) Flash, Melle Mel and company getting in means that the HOF got something right; if Run-DMC had gotten in before Flash, well, that just wouldn't be right. (Run-DMC's eligible next year, and I frankly don't expect 'em in on first ballot.) Absurdly, still not in: John Mellencamp (not a finalist this year), Daryl Hall & John Oates (ditto), and Chic (they were, but I'm starting to lose hope).

Friday, January 05, 2007

Wings - "Arrow Through Me" (Back to the Egg, Capitol 1979)

Soto: Check this out – it's Paul doing what sounds like Aja/Gaucho-era Steely Dan. Absolutely fascinating.

Inskeep: STE calls it "formulaic adult contemporary pap," but then he's never been much one for studio sheen the way we are.

Soto: So you liked it? I was pretty sure you would; the synth-bass and confident vocals are irresistable (he really is a great singer when he wants to be). I'm sufficiently curious to check Amazon for used copies of Back To The Egg.

Inskeep, to blog readers: What he said.

As an added bonus, here's the even better "Take It Way," from 1982's Tug of War. I didn't know until I read this that Sir George Martin produced it - and played keyboards! And those lush harmonies are via 10cc - really via 10cc! And I haven't even mentioned the horn charts. This is sumptuous, one of Macca's best.

Jackin' all over the place

So, Jackin' Pop is out. I've only seen the results (thanks to the finally-back ILM, and yes I know I've bitched about it in the past - my pendulum swings, a'ight? I'm liking it, with reservations, these days (healthy with any message board)) and Matos's masterful essay thus far (I know I know, we need a "next Christgau" like we need a "next Jordan," but really, folks - MM's it, isn't he?) (That's a rhetorical question; of course he is.), thanks to my workplace:

This website "" is categorized as "Forum/Bulletin Boards" and has been restricted because it contains content and material that violates [my workplace]'s Electronic Compliance Policy.

(I guess I should just be happy that blogger isn't restricted and shut up about it.)
But anyway, interesting stuff, very interesting. Apparently, my ballot is in there somewhere, which is good since I didn't save a copy. (Ditto with P&J.) I didn't submit comments anywhere this year, lest you're wondering. Still planning on putting together some random thoughts, to add to these from last week. Whenever (if) they get done, blah blah blah.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Herb Alpert - Rise (A&M 1979)

It's inexplicable, especially as all of the Tijuana Brass albums received loving reissues last year, that this album, the biggest of Alpert's post-Brass career, is so out of print (or, as they say on eBay, OOP). This desperately needs a remastering job for not just the sake of its title track but "Rotation" (a top 20 R&B single!) as well. (Everything I've heard from it is solid-or-better, actually.) C'mon, Alpert - you're the "A" in A&M. Make it happen.

The Police - "Don't Stand So Close to Me '86" (Every Breath You Take: The Singles, A&M 1986)

Alfred and I were just discussing this via email:


Soto: Also: do you like the '86 remake of "Don't Stand So Close to Me"? I'm not sure why it's so hated. The first minute – all brooding minor chord synth and silence – is quite wonderful.

Inskeep: For years and years, I've claimed to be the only person I know who actually PREFERS the '86 take on "Don't Stand So Close to Me" to its original, which I find I bit dull. The "remake" is weird, all minor keys and off-center vocals.

Soto: The original is watery pseudo-skank. You really [feel] as if something is at stake in the remake; and I love, love, love Andy Summers' guitar lick.

Inskeep: The original's fine with me, but doesn't excite me the way the remake does.


Also, its video is essentially a skewed historia de la musica de Police in four-and-a-half minutes. And Sting looks pissed, which is often a good thing.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Rick Springfield - "Don't Talk to Strangers" (Success Hasn't Spoiled Me Yet, RCA 1982)

"Did you fall at first sight, or did you need a shove?" is one of the greatest lyrics of the 1980s, hands down.

2006: The year in comps part 4

R.E.M.: And I Feel Fine...: The Best of the I.R.S. Years 1982-1987
Completists, rejoice! With the arrival of a superb comp covering R.E.M.'s pre-Warners years, both sides of their career are now covered with great double-disc retrospectives, this and 2003's In Time. (If you care at all about the boys from Athens, and you damned well should, you need the deluxe editions of both.) The first disc of And I Feel Fine... covers the basics, i.e. the I.R.S. singles, in non-chronological order - but for once, that isn't an annoyance; it just provides the opportunity (a la Mellencamp's Words & Music) to glory in how incredibly consistant Berry, Buck, Mills and Stipe were. There's not a dud here. Disc two is live cuts, demos, alternate versions ("Finest Worksong" with the Memphis Horns!), and an album track apiece chosen by one of the four members; they also provide liners for this disc. (Anthony DeCurtis does the honors for the first disc.) It's all remastered, too. This is the stuff American rock'n'roll dreams are made of; this is the best years of the best American band of the time, hands down.

Journey Into Paradise... The Larry Levan Story
One classic after another, sounding better than they ever have, sequenced expertly: short of hearing a live set by the great, late Larry Levan (and Live at the Paradise Garage should be heard), this is the finest representation of his legacy yet. Not only is this 2-disc set uniformly great, it's peppered with 12" mixes (from Phreek's "Weekend" to Lace's "Can't Play Around"), including a couple done by Levan himself. The apex is his rerub of Inner Life's epic, classic-for-all-time, this-song-ain't-yours-no-more-Diana version of "Ain't No Mountain High Enough." Does it help if I tell you that Inner Life's lead vocalist was Jocelyn Brown? Her vocal here isn't what you're likely expecting, though; not only was Brown's voice not quite as deep as it is today, she hadn't gotten into the bad habit of getting shrieky, either, which means her performance here is gloriously clean, but not lacking in power. Journey Into Paradise is lovingly produced (i.e. compiled) by Johnny "D" and Manny Lehman, who know a thing or two about getting gay crowds going, a la the Paradise Garage. There's no excuse for you not to own this. No record in 2006 brought me more pure pleasure.

Also: my full reviews of must-have comps by Chic and Bobby Brown, both in my top 20 albums of '06, along with the above pair. Still to come: a final round-up of other notable 2006 comps.

(Part 3, with parts 1 & 2 linked at its end.)

Oh good God YES, make it so. (That means you, Sumner: shut up and sing and play bass, and leave the rest at home. Don't be all Miss Ross about it, give Andy and Stewart their fair shares, too. Leave "additional" musicians out of it - you're a trio, and that's all that should be on stage. A trio, period. And. I. Will. So. Be. There.)

Reviewing records for fun and... uh, fun

One of the reasons I love writing reviews for Stylus is because of what's become my place there: I seem to be the one who reviews the big, dumb commercial records, most often mainstream R&B and country. And Barbra Streisand (still one of my favorite reviews I've written). Stylus's tilt tends toward indie-rock and electronic music, with doses of metal (mostly courtesy of the great, great Cosmo Lee, who you really should read whether you care about metal or not - he's that good) and hip-hop (lots of folks write these reviews, even me, but of note is Ian Cohen, who's been on a tear lately). I don't even know who half the artists we review are, for pete's sake: Sally Shapiro? The Green Pajamas? The Escalators? And that's just today. Meanwhile, Mr. Uncool here has taken the latest George Strait for a spin... (I used to be a college radio MD. What happened? Dunno, don't care - am perfectly happy with who and where I am, musically.) I'm very happy that I've got an editor at Stylus who appreciates that I appreciate mainstream, commercial stuff; I'm one of Stylus's anomalies, it would seem, which is precisely why that's just where I belong.

Of potential/related interest, here's today's at-work listening pile:
Just because I love 'em:
Robert Plant, Sixty Six to Timbuktu
Freddie Jackson, For Old Times Sake: The Freddie Jackson Story
Re-listening to '06:
Bob Dylan, Modern Times
Journey Into Paradise... The Larry Levan Story
Tom Moulton, A Tom Moulton Mix
Sonic Youth, Rather Ripped
Thom Yorke, The Eraser
(Arctic Monkeys would've been in the stack, too, but I couldn't find it last night.)
Need to finish the reviews:
Vince Gill, These Days
George Jones and Merle Haggard, Kickin' Out the Footlights... Again

And on top of that, I may well take a break at some point in the day by listening to either Yahoo! Launchcast's 25 Years Ago: Hits of '82 station (I'm 36, you do the math) or my latest disco-very (thud), radioioDisco, a superb streaming disco station programmed by authority (and great critic) Barry Walters.

Or maybe I'll just listen to Freddie Jackson all day.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007


"They were Hickory High in helmets, George Mason in cleats."

Y'know, I even turned to the BF at one point last night and said to him, "They're like George Mason was in the tournament last year, only for the BCS." Boise State's 43-42 victory over Oklahoma in last night's Fiesta Bowl was everything a college football fan could ask for - and then plenty more you didn't even think of asking for. What a thing of beauty, what a thrill. (Save for one thing: Fox's crappy announcers. Lord, it's gonna be a long BCS. "Bowl Bash"? I hate Fox.)

(Photo: AP/Charles Krupa, taken from

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