Tuesday, June 30, 2009

François Macré - Thriller (64 tracks a'cappella version)

Apologies for the no-post yesterday--been out-of-the-ordinary busy. Enjoy this inventive tribute to one of Michael Jackson's most famous songs.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Frank Rich Explains This Moment in Gay Rights, June 28 2009

Forty years after Stonewall.

It’s a press cliché that “gay supporters” are disappointed with Obama, but we should all be. Gay Americans aren’t just another political special interest group. They are Americans who are actively discriminated against by federal laws.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Michael Jackson - She's Out Of My Life

One more. This is an early video, and the lip-syncing and camera-work are not of the almost perfect level that would be seen in MJ videos a few years later, but so what. The music here is beautiful work, from a young artist beginning to understand what he was capable of doing. He was nineteen years old.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Sky Saxon RIP

More posthumous praise. Sky Saxon was the leader of the Seeds, a proto-punk Sixties band. I still remember hearing these songs come out of the AM radio into my ears, into my brain, into my soul. He never struck those chords of the zeitgeist again, but most of it never do it once. Here's "Pushin' Too Hard" and "Can't Seem to Make You Mine." "Pushin' Too Hard" was supposedly written in fifteen minutes while he waited in the car for his girlfriend, who was grocery shopping. One side note: along with the Kingsmen's "Louie Louie," this was some of the earliest electric piano work that many of us ever heard.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

RIP Michael Jackson

There's a lot of things to be said about a life full of magic. But magic in the end is a form of power, and power can be used to any end. He deserved to be happier, but who doesn't? Best to remember that once, and for a long time, and always at least a little bit, he was something special.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Gus Cannon - Poor Boy, Long Ways From Home

Not everybody likes this sort of music, an attitude I can understand in an abstract sort of way. But I love it, and wish it were more widely available. I'd like to help that process of wider dissemination along; ergo, this post.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Joe Jackson - Not Here, Not Now

The breakup could have been worse, I suppose, but it still hurt. A lot. Joe Jackson understands. This is the kind of song you listen to over and over while slowly ingesting a lot of wine or ice cream or whatever your poison of choice is.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Non-Crazy Conservative

The name Henry Fairlie did not ring a bell, which surprises me. I've tried to be aware of the major political writers for a long time. But this appreciation by Jeremy McCarter at Newsweek serves as a good primer to am unabashed conservative who thought the movement was headed in the wrong direction, but didn't live long enough to see the rise of Sarah Palin prove his point.

H/t DemFromCT at DailyKos.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Frank Rich Explains The President's Financial Regulation Situation

Why it's probably not enough.

Non-Wall Street Americans who signed on to Countrywide’s toxic loans are doing far less well. The White House stood by passively this spring as banking lobbyists mobilized to castrate the administration’s Helping Families Save Their Homes Act. The final version eliminated the key provision that would have allowed judges to lower the principal for mortgage holders whose homes are worth less than their loans. Dick Durbin, the Democratic senator from Illinois, correctly observed in April that the banks are “still the most powerful lobby” in Congress and that “they frankly own the place.”

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Greenwald on the Froomkin Firing

Froomkin was one of my regular reads during 2006-2008, and I get the impression that his firing now has to do with the fact that, with Bush out of office, the act will not be as obvious a cave to the right. But that's what it is. As usual, Greenwald explains it well.

That's why this Froomkin firing is so revealing. The fact that one of the very few people to practice real adversarial journalism in the Bush era was decreed not to be a real "journalist" -- and has now been fired by the Post -- is one of the most illustrative episodes of the past several years regarding what the real function of the establishment media is. Along those lines, Harris might want to consider also acknowledging that Froomkin was absolutely right when insisting (and Harris wrong when doubting) that Froomkin was not acting as "liberal opinionist" when criticizing Bush, but rather, was as an "accountability journalist" because he was merely pointing out facts, and would subject the actions and claims of a Democratic president to the same journalistic scrutiny. Froomkin's tenacious criticisms of Obama leave no doubt about that.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Nat King Cole Trio - When I Take My Sugar To Tea

I guess some people may listen to this and think, "How pleasant." But it's more than that: the rhythmic pulse in this recording is about as good an example of swing as you can find. As low-key as it may be, this is sly, sexy fun, with the words, melody, and rhythm all combining to create an image of, well...sly, sexy fun.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

RIP Barry Beckett

By coincidence, all of the tracks I've posted recently from the first Boz Scaggs album that featured Duane Allman also have Barry Beckett on them. In a way it's not really a coincidence: all of the songs were recorded in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, where Beckett worked most of his life. Also recorded there, and also featuring the keyboard work of Barry Beckett are "Still Crazy After All These Years" and "Slow Train," eponymous tracks from albums by Paul Simon and Bob Dylan respectively. Just to round it out, here's a new link to Boz Scaggs' "Finding Her" as well as "Loan Me a Dime" from the same album.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Jefferson Airplane - rejoyce

Yesterday was Bloomsday. I meant to post this but forgot.

"rejoyce" comes from a psychedelic's band most psychedelic period, when being a rock band didn't mean you couldn't release a song based on a high-modernist novel and which featured piano as primary instrument, a harpsichord, a flute solo, a powerful electric bass line (courtesy Jack Casady), multitracked vocals by one singer, and a dissonant chord at the finish. In short, the kind of thing that would drive away Black Sabbath fans (although maybe not the members of Black Sabbath themselves, who liked weirdness).

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Monday, June 15, 2009

Our Media, Again

Over at Hullabaloo, dday has some words on the current state of the mass media in this country.

The major TV networks have almost no international bureaus anymore, pooling their resources in London and sending out correspondents to act as individual news gathering machines, one-man or woman networks without the benefit of producers or editorial desks. This allows for a bit more flexibility, but also flattens the landscape so that the news-gathering capabilities of established media differ in no legitimate respect from a native speaker with a Twitter account or a Facebook page. It's not that the tweeters have ascended into the media stratosphere, it's that the traditional media has descended into the depths.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Cats on Sunday

There simply is no excuse for the fact that I have not posted any cat material in a long time.

In this clip, I love how the cat is so comfortable that it makes no effort to get out. A paw comes out, then...goes back inside.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Gil Evans - Up From the Skies

Gil Evans was about twenty years older than Jimi Hendrix, but he had, as they say, open ears. Shortly before he died Hendrix was seeking advice from Evans and Miles Davis about how to add horns to his music, but his premature death meant that that music exists only in an alternate reality. In this reality, Gil Evans went on to record several Hendrix pieces, including a whole album in the early seventies. The results sounded like this.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Krugman on the Mainstreaming of Insanity

The column is headlined "The Big Hate."

Now, for the most part, the likes of Fox News and the R.N.C. haven’t directly incited violence, despite Bill O’Reilly’s declarations that “some” called Dr. Tiller “Tiller the Baby Killer,” that he had “blood on his hands,” and that he was a “guy operating a death mill.” But they have gone out of their way to provide a platform for conspiracy theories and apocalyptic rhetoric, just as they did the last time a Democrat held the White House.

And at this point, whatever dividing line there was between mainstream conservatism and the black-helicopter crowd seems to have been virtually erased.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Boz Scaggs featuring Duane Allman - Finding Her

Like the tracks I posted a while back, this is from the first Boz Scaggs album, which featured on about half its tracks a Muscle Shoals session guitarist named Duane Allman. The Allman Brothers Band released their first album the same year, and did not become stars until a couple of years later. So this is still the young hungry Duane, burning to prove himself.
Which doesn't mean that he's stomping the music into submission. One of Duane's strong points was his range: he could burn but he could also float, and some of his most memorable work was also his most gentle. Here he weaves in and out of Scaggs's vocal, using the special attributes of slide guitar to craft a strong but subtle tonal flavor. The producers obviously liked his work so much that the last minute or so of the song consists of the ghostly presence of his guitar, with nearly all other instruments gone.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Los Lobos con Antonio Banderas - Canción Del Mariachi

Despite what the person who posted this video says, I don't think Antonio Banderas is actually playing any of the guitar that we hear. But that's okay, he's an actor playing a guitarist, so he's just doing his job. I was looking for some stuff by Los Lobos and came across this, which is apparently a video crafted for the movie Desperado. So we see also see Salma Hayek, Steve Buscemi, Quentin Tarantino, Cheech Marin, Danny Trejo, et al.

Los Lobos started out as high school buddies playing rock, then became serious about playing traditional Mexican (and other Latino) music before picking up electric instruments again and gradually becoming world-famous. When they write and perform songs such as this, people who don't know better think of it as some sort of local color, but they were and are serious about it.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Cream - Anyone For Tennis

The incredibly heavy high-volume high-voltage rawkin' sound of original power trio Cream, featuring...cello, recorder, hand drums, and acoustic guitar? Well, okay.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Jimmie Lunceford - Swanee River

Happy birthday to Jimmie Lunceford, born on this date in 1902. He's probably best known now only to serious jazz-ists and musical historians, but in his heyday his work as a bandleader was, according to Wikipedia, "considered the equal of Duke Ellington's, Earl Hines' or Count Basie's." Here he gets Stephen Foster to swing.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Mel Torme - Zaz Turned Blue

To mark the tenth anniversary of the passing of Mel Torme, here is one of his more memorable performances.

Was (Not Was) always featured outside vocalists, and on their release Born to Laugh at Tornadoes they persuaded "The Velvet Fog" to sing one of their compositions. Torme was a sharp guy with a sharp sense of humor, so he knew exactly what he was getting into. It's a lovely ballad, but the lyrics...well, the lyrics...

Thursday, June 4, 2009

RIP Koko Taylor

From the pen of Willie Dixon. This clip must be from around the time the song was first released in 1966. H/t Patricia Sullivan of the Washington Post.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Greenwald on Obama and Israel

Common sense, as the saying goes, is not so common.

A country, a company or an individual has every right to remain free of "interference" from others as long as they remain independent of the party seeking to "interfere." But if one chooses instead to become dependent on someone else or seeks help and aid from them, then complying with the demands of those providing the aid is an inevitable price that must be paid – and justifiably so.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Robert Rodriguez is a Funny Guy

A local theater chain has good enough connections with local filmmakers to occasionally feature some of their personal work, i.e., work that isn't films. For the recent Star Trek release, this meant personally modified models of the starship Enterprise. Here are images of the one that Robert Rodriguez did. They're phone-quality images, but you can make most things out. Still, just in case:

The USS Enterprise is now the USS Enterpresa.
The circular design seems to be based on an Aztec calendar.
The word "Chingon" in the second image is derived from the Spanish verb chingar, which means "to fuck."

I love this guy.

Monday, June 1, 2009

RIP George TIller, MD

I can't add anything to this.

In 1980 I was pregnant with my first child. I had no insurance and couldn't afford a doctors appointment until I was approved for a medical card. Mom told Dr. Tiller and he brought me into his office where he examined me, free of charge. I can credit him with the very first picture taken of my son.

Like the murders in Knoxville last year, this murder was committed in a church. I can't add anything to that either.