Friday, February 24, 2012

Dream A Little Dream

One of our email addresses for our ILL system has somehow gotten onto the spam list for the Monfort Plan (google them if you must) who keep inviting our ILL system to join them if it's one of the "dreamers who love and lovers who dream" etc. Maybe we're going to "transition to a world of Eutopia and Cornucopia", but the ILL system isn't going to be in the vanguard. You see, the ILL system only reads messages in plain text, and the good folks at the Monfort Plan send their missives in HTML. So most of what comes through is instructions about font types and colors before most of the message is cut off, including the blessed unsubscribe button.

Update: No sooner do I post this then they give me information on how to unsubscribe. The problem is that I have to send them email, which I can't do from the ILL system. I don't trust them not to add my email address to their list of dreamers if I send the unsubscribe email from my account.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Listening Notes - Live Albums

The live album that got me thinking was by a group that I didn't really know and wouldn't have listened except that the album came with a trusted recommendation: The Asylum Street Spanker's "What and Give Up Show Biz?". The one studio album I'd heard from them wasn't anything special, so two plus hours of them looked to be a chore. It wasn't. The difference between them live and in the studio is that live they put on a show, complete with audience interaction jokes, schtick and good times. I am imagine the package works even better in person than it does on CD in your living room, but I'll never know. There may even be a DVD - not something I care about.

So what makes a good live album? Well, there has to be a concentration of songs. Live albums can serve as a "best of" if that's what the artist wants (it's what the record company wants), but that doesn't necessarily work as a stage show. The album has to catch the flow of a stage show even if its assembled from different shows. There should be some elements of a show involved - audience interaction, jokes, schtick, good times. If the performance is fierce enough, I'll forgive it for not being overtly fun, but I'm not going to buy, say, a Bauhaus live album. Please tell there isn't such a thing.

As you can see from my year end list, I'm very fond of Todd Snider's "Live: The Storyteller". It's his second live album in eight years, with the first one being worth seeking out as well. As are the four intervening studio albums, especially "East Nashville Skyline" and "The Devil You Know". In fact, some of my favorite songs from those two albums are missing from the new live album. In compensation, you get stories, some go one for as long as eight or nine minutes, except I don't mind hearing them even when I know the punch lines because they unfold just as well as Snider's best songs do. Or, to put it another way, he's grown just as much as a storyteller as he a singer in the last eight years, and that's as much as anyone.

The Bottle Rocket's "Not So Loud" is also on my list, and I suspect I'm the only person in creation who put them there. For one, the recording was made in 2006, so it may have been available digitally before 2011, although it says copyright 2011 on the CD case. It's one of those "unplugged" dates, hence the album title. They also don't play many of their best songs. (Where is "Welfare Music"?) However, the choice of what they play coheres well, and they have enough good to great songs in their songbook to cover the omissions. The band is into the gig, and a good time is had. If I don't make a case for these guys, who will?

I've confessed to my love for the trifle that is Rockpile's "Seconds of Pleasure" in other places, so naturally I distrust my joy at a live album. Indeed, a close listen to "Live at Montreaux 1980" suggests to me that the band is rushing the tempos because they're either bored or they've had a few drinks before the show. And this record makes it clear they were very much Dave Edmund's band live. Whatever. There's another Rockpile record in the world. I'm a happy man.

Favorites, Favories, Who's Got My Favorites

Someone thought it would be fun to ask for our 25 favorite (not best) albums, so I tried to oblige. How about this for a list:

The Byrds: Sweetheart of the Rodeo
Howard Tate: Howard Tate
The Grateful Dead: Workingman's Dead
Mott the Hoople: All the Young Dudes
Big Star: Radio City
Roxy Music: Siren
Fleetwood Mac: Rumors
Television: Marquee Moon
Neil Young: Rust Never Sleeps
The Psychedelic Furs: The Psychedelic Furs
The Blasters: Non-Fiction
Katrina & the Waves: Katrina & the Waves
The Dbs: Like This
New Order: Brotherhood
Camper van Beethoven: Camper van Beethoven
Pet Shops Boys: Actually
Lucinda Williams: Lucinda Williams
Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man
Laurie Anderson: Strange Angels
The Chills: Submarine Bells
The Coup: Steal This Album
Imperial Teen: Seasick
Moby: Play
Hamell on Trial: Ed's Not Dead
Drive-By Truckers: Brighter Than Creation's Dark

Interesting list, huh? Some all time greats, some personal choices. Except it wasn't the list I submitted. How about this list:

Otis Redding: Dictionary of Soul
Dusty Springfield: Dusty in Memphis
Derek and the Dominoes: Layla
Creedance Clearwater Revival: Cosmo's Factory
Rod Stewart: Every Picture Tells a Story
Michael Hurley et al: Have Moicy
Hot Chocolate: Cicero Park
The Clash: The Clash
Prince: Dirty Mind
Richard & Linda Thompson: Shoot Out the Lights
Professor Longhair: The Last Mardi Gras
Franco & Rochereau: Omona Wapi
Rosanne Cash: Rhythm & Romance
Husker Du: Candy Apple Grey
Robert Cray Band: Strong Persuader
REM: Document
Too Much Joy: Son of Sam I Am
Marshall Crenshaw: Good Evening
The Bottle Rockers: The Brooklyn Side
The Archers of Loaf: Vee Vee
Pavement: Brighten the Corners
The Magnetic Fields: 69 Love Songs
Warren Zevon: My Ride's Here
Buck 65: Talking Honky Blues
Fountains of Wayne: Welcome Interstate Managers

I can be quirky, can't I? Guess what? That wasn't the list I submitted either. This was:

The Beatles: The Beatles Second Album
The Kinks: Face to Face
The Velvet Underground: The Velvet Underground
Tom T. Hall: In Search of a Song
Chris Smither: Don't It Drag On
Jimmy Cliff et al: The Harder They Come
John Prine: Sweet Revenge
Steely Dan: Countdown to Ecstasy
Van Morrison: Saint Dominic's Preview
Bob Dylan: Blood on the Tracks
Eno: Another Green World
The Wild Tchoupitoulos
Wire: Pink Flag
Rockpile: Seconds of Pleasure
ABC: The Lexicon of Love
Rank & File: Rank & File
The Go-Betweens: Tallulah
Dramarama: Box-Office Bomb
P.M. Dawn - Of the Heart... (the 1st album)
Orchestra Baobab: On Verra Ca
Luna: Penthouse
Belle & Sebastian: If You're Feeling Sinister
Kanye West: The College Dropout
Wussy: Funeral Dress

If you'll notice, no artist gets more than one mention, there are no best ofs, no compilations, no boxes. My point, such as it is, is that limiting me to 25 albums makes the final choice somewhat random. Like, what happened to The Rolling Stones?

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Potemkin School Districts

Back in September, a Mrs. Keller wrote to say her class found my Economics LibGuide helpful and they had some links they wanted me to add. I was dubious. Today, a Mrs. Kavanagh has written to say pretty much the same thing. So I looked at the web site associated with the domain name (cee emm ewe eff ess dee dot owe arr gee, if you're curious) in her email address. (I do these sorts of things.) And, yes, it looks like the web site of a school district except one that doesn't actually have any students or teachers or, and this is the give-away for me, library resources in it. So I look up the domain name registration, and, gosh, it was only taken out in November of 2011. This strikes me as a whole lot of work just to get naive librarians to make some links to dubious finance sites. What do I know?