...is on the air!

My blog is of anything that pops into this brain of mine as well as what pops into other bloggers brains! If I read something I find interesting, I'll add it to mine and give credit, where credit is due!

Monday, May 31, 2010

Toy Matinee

A week ago, I was asked by a fellow blogger, Curtis Linder , to offer a guest review on an album. I was more than happy to oblige, and awfully humbled. So, here is my "guest review", posted by... well, ME!

"I found this GEM (and I do mean GEM!) Back in '91 on cassette. I'm from the Quad Cities of Iowa/Illinois, and was a frequent shopper at Co-op Records. The guys all knew me and knew I KNEW my music. I was looking for something different, something interesting, something not mainstream, that I could sink my teeth into AND be able to call my own (always loved finding great music and then turning others onto it, like a music guru). The Co-op dudes knew I was a Beatles collector and fan as well as a follower of Steely Dan. I had respect for Madonna's pop sensibilities, but much preferred intelligent lyrics and word play within an easily digestible, but intricate movements in a song. They showed me a cassette of Toy Matinee.

Toy Matinee was a short-lived American art-pop band, and also the title of their only album. Their sound was an array of mixed influences, including progressive rock, AOR and pop reminiscent of both the Beatles and the Beach Boys. I was ADDICTED the very first time I heard the very first chords on LAST PLANE OUT - the very first song on the album! I knew, immediately, that this should have been a much bigger record than it had been. Lots of pop hooks that, in no time at all, you'd be singing along with, not to mention bopping your head. This was classy, intelligent power pop from mostly unknown masters!

TOY MATINEE was formed by producer/composer/keyboardist Patrick Leonard in collaboration with singer/lyricist Kevin Gilbert. Backed by a group of session musicians (drummer Brian MacLeod, guitarist Tim Pierce, and bassist Guy Pratt), and with guest appearances from several other musicians including Julian Lennon, the duo recorded just one self-titled album which was released on Reprise Records in 1990.

The album was engineered and produced by Bill Bottrell. Thematically, it covered a rather broad ground; two tracks were dedicated to Czech poet and political figure Vaclav Havel and painter Salvador Dali, and "Queen of Misery" is about Madonna (Leonard was the singer's longtime songwriting and producing partner and Gilbert had recently worked with her as an engineer.) Two of the other songs on TOY MATINEE -- "The Ballad of Jenny Ledge" and "Last Plane Out" -- received wide play on album rock stations, both of them peaking at #23 on Billboard's Mainstream Rock Tracks chart. Despite that, the album's highest U.S. chart position was #129.

Kevin Gilbert was known well in the L.A. pop scene and around the Sunset Strip. He'd been in various bands, all of his own creation, NRG (No Reasons Given) and Giraffe. At this time he was also dating an unknown singer by the name of Sheryl Crow, who also sang back up and played some keyboards while TM was performing live. (Incidentally, most of Crow's TUESDAY NIGHT MUSIC CLUB album was written by Kevin, during a songwriter's workshop Kevin created with Bill Bottrell and David Baerwald called, The Tuesday Night Music Club.)

Pat Leonard was, well..... PAT LEONARD! (See above credits). These two crafted a masterpiece of power pop that was not schlock, but well thought out. Hooks that were poppy but not annoying or cheesy! You were proud to repeat these lyrics as many time as it took to get others around you to say, "What is that? Who is it? Where can I get it?" (I did this many times, and wore out, at least 3, store bought cassettes of Toy Matinee, before I finally bought a CD player!)

My favorite track is....um...... damn. This is too hard! It's like asking a mother which one of her 9 children did she love most.... If I was asked what track stands out the most. I'd say.............. CRAP! Can't do that either! Every piece of this pie must be savored on it's own or as a whole. This may be the ONLY CD, that I've never "parted out" onto mix-discs of favorites that I make for car rides, because it's a favorite, thru and thru!! All in all, I doubt anyone that reads this review, would find anything they don't like about this album. Unfortunately, you WILL find it in a bargain bin in used CD and record stores. The original was on Reprise but Pat Leonard reissued it in 2001 on his own Unitone records with extra tracks! I'd advise, also, To check out Kevin Gilbert's solo efforts THUD and THE SHAMING OF THE TRUE. You WON'T be disappointed!"

Rolling Stone's Top 100 Album covers #71!

1969 - Isaac Hayes, Hot Buttered Soul

Rolling Stone's Top 100 Album covers #72!

1977 - Iggy Pop, The Idiot

Rolling Stone's Top 100 Album covers #73!

1984 - Van Halen, 1984

Rolling Stone's Top 100 Album covers #74!

1970 - Miles Davis, Bitches Brew

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Christina Hendricks

Never seen the show she's on, but, WOW!!!!!!

Those.... I mean SHE'S awesome!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Ronnie James Dio July 10, 1942 – May 16, 2010

Wendy Dio said on Ronnie's official site:

"Today my heart is broken, Ronnie passed away at 7:45am 16th May. Many, many friends and family were able to say their private good-byes before he peacefully passed away. Ronnie knew how much he was loved by all. We so appreciate the love and support that you have all given us. Please give us a few days of privacy to deal with this terrible loss. Please know he loved you all and his music will live on forever."
Ronnie James Dio Wikipedia

R.I.P. Holy Diver..... You're never the Last in Line.

Monday, May 3, 2010

From a few years back...

The silent return of vinyl records (found from article in 2008)

M. Taufiqurrahman, The Jakarta Post, Chicago, Illinois
Sun, 05/25/2008 12:01 PM

There is one good reason why the movie High Fidelity, based on Nick Hornby's best-selling novel set in London, was shot in Chicago.
The largest city in the Midwest has been long known as a Mecca for indie rock and the place where a countless number of bands built their credibility. In the days of yore, little-known bands like Slint, Silver Jews, Tortoise or big arena rocker Smashing Pumpkins built their fan base in Chicago while laboring in obscurity under the tutelage of labels like Touch and Go, Drag City and Thrill Jockey Records.

Recently big acts the likes of Wilco and the Breeders repatriated to Chicago to work on their new albums.

But the ultimate reason for the movie being shot in Chicago is the fact that the windy city is home to a large population of independent music stores manned by people who are as devoted as the characters of Rob Gordon and his cranky clerk Barry.

In fact, on a fine day of spring, hungry vinyl fetishists will likely find one of those High Fidelity moments in one of Chicago's record stores.

Earlier this month, in Kiss the Sky Record store in Geneva, just outside Chicago, I got into a tense argument about the best five rock records of all time with the store manager, Steve.

Steve Warrenfeltz, the 50-something record store owner, could not reconcile his choice of The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart Club Band and Rubber Soul, The Kinks' Village Green Preservation Society, Jimi Hendrix's Are You Experienced? and Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon with my top three picks: Television's Marquee Moon, Gang of Four's Entertainment and the Smiths' The Queen is Dead.

But the upside to having an argument with a bohemian record store manager is that you end up getting a vinyl of the Byrds' Sweetheart of the Rodeo for just US $3.

"The good thing about running a record store is that we will always bump into crazy people like you guys," Warrenfeltz told me before I left the store.

Yes, it is this kind of record store that can be found in the Chicago-land area: stores run by dedicated vinyl junkies like Steve, a guy who once worked as a roadie for the Kinks in the mid 1960s and who was more than happy to leave his well-paid job for corporate America only to pursue his labor of love.

For a totally different experience, I recently checked out Dave's Record in downtown Chicago.

This store takes rock snobbism (or using the popular election jargon elitism) to a new level. The sign on the door to Dave's Records says it all. "No CD's!! Never had 'em!! Never Will!!"

Located in the upmarket Chicago District of Clark Street, Dave's Record caters to the need of hipster college kids who scavenge rare copies of Marquee Moon or the Minutemen's Double Nickels On the Dime.

A trendy-looking clerk sat up on his platform watching over me salivating over thousands of rare vinyl records.

And when I paid for my purchase, the clerk gave me a disapproving look. He was also probably baffled by my purchase of Marquee Moon, Pixies' Doolittle and Young Marble Giants' Colossal Youth.

Or it might have been that I was the first Southeast Asian to visit his store.

Even deep in a Midwestern county like DeKalb, music addicts can still find a decent store that keeps a steady supply of both new and used vinyl records at low prices.

Located in the midst of Northern Illinois University (NIU)'s dorms and lecture halls is DeKalb's oldest record store Record Revolution, or Record Rev for short.

"Record Rev started up in September 1973, back when Dark Side Of The Moon was at the top of the charts. We started out selling LPs at $4 including tax! Now 34 years later, we are still selling LPs at $4 (in our used department)," store owner Mark Cerny said in the record store website.

The last time I went to the record store, an Indonesian friend got a free LP for buying records worth more than $15.

But the greatest compliment came from one of the store's clerks, who praised my pal for purchasing the Arcade Fire debut album Funeral on vinyl. I think they became friends after that.

Such is the joy of being a vinyl addict these days, the warmth of human interaction absent from the aisles of Wal-Mart, Target or Best Buy or when one presses the "buy song" button on iTunes.

The proliferation of MP3s, both legal and illegal, has cheapened music, giving true music fans the strong conviction to distance themselves from the crowd and embrace vinyl records.

In recent years, in the midst of slumping CD sales, the sale of vinyl records has soared through the roof.

Time magazine reported last year that 990,000 albums were sold on vinyl, up 15.4 percent from 2006. Music rag Spin also reported that the Chicago-based Music Direct, a purveyor of turntables and new and reissued vinyl has seen the format's sale surge by more than 300 percent in the last three years.

The rise in the sale of vinyl has driven record companies, indie labels in particular, to issue the work of their artists on vinyl with a price lower than that of the CD format. The price tag for the Shins' debut album Oh, Inverted World on vinyl is $8, while the CD format is available for $13.

Vinyl has also become the weapon for musicians to lure fans to buy more of their work. After releasing their new album In Rainbows on MP3 format late last year, British avant-garde rockers Radiohead in January released the album in a box set containing two vinyl discs and extended liner notes.

Last month, Warner Bros dusted off its vault and reissued Metallica's back catalog only on the vinyl format. As of now, only Ride the Lightning and Kill 'Em All are available on the market. Metallica's thrash metal masterpiece Master of Puppets will only come out on vinyl on June 10. Next in line will be reissues of early releases from Green Day and the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

On May 20, San Francisco-based record label 4 Men with Beards released Velvet Underground debut album Velvet Underground & Nico for the American market. In the past, 4 Men with Beards has bought the rights to classic records like Aretha Franklin's Lady Soul, Dusty Springfield's Dusty in Memphis and Buzzcock's Singles Going Steady and has started pressing them for the American market.

There is no time like the present to become a vinyl junkie.

Rolling Stone's Top 100 Album covers #81!

Inside cover
1975 - Ohio Players, Honey