Archive for August 2008
My birthday is coming up soon (tomorrow). Like most stressful events in my life, I’m medicating it with music. So I’ll jump on the “favorite album for every year of your life” blogmeme.
I’m following the draconian rules: no reissues, only one album per performer. And I’m adding two more: no thinking about this for more than 15 minutes, no live albums.
1963 (first full year I was alive), The Beatles, Please Please Me
1964, Lonnie Mack, The Wham! of That Memphis Man
1965, Bob Dylan, Bringing It All Back Home
1966, Otis Redding, Otis Blue
1967, Aretha Franklin, I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You
1968, The Band, Music from Big Pink
1969, Wilbert Harrison, Let’s Work Together
1970, Derek and the Dominoes, Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs
1971, Rod Stewart, Every Picture Tells a Story
1972, The Rolling Stones, Exile on Main Street
1973, Bruce Springsteen, The Wild, the Innocent, and the E Street Shuffle
1974, Firesign Theater, Everything You Know Is Wrong
1975, Toots and the Maytals, Funky Kingston
1976, Graham Parker and the Rumour, Heat Treatment
1977, Never Mind the Bollocks, It’s the Sex Pistols
1978, Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes, Hearts of Stone
1979, The Clash, London Calling
1981, X, Wild Gift
1982, Ted Hawkins, Watch Your Step
1983, Talking Heads, Speaking in Tongues
1984, Jason and the Scorchers, Fervor
1985, Paul Kelly, Post
1986, The Costello Show, King of America
1987, Prince, Sign o’ the Times
1988, Sonic Youth, Daydream Nation
1989, Mekons, Rock ‘n’ Roll
1990, Neil Young and Crazy Horse, Ragged Glory
1991, Guitar Paradise of East Africa
1992, Lucinda Williams, Sweet Old World
1993, Liz Phair, Exile in Guyville
1994, Hole, Live Through This
1995, Steve Earle, Train A’Comin’
1996, Beck, Odelay
1997, Murmurs, Pristine Smut
1998, Billy Bragg and Wilco, Mermaid Avenue
1999, The Magnetic Fields, 69 Love Songs
2000, Eminem, The Marshall Mathers LP
2001, The Strokes, Is This It?
2002, Red, Hot + Riot
2003, Dengue Fever
2004, can’t think and my 15 minutes is running out
2005, Amy Rigby, Little Fugitive
2006, see 2004
2007, Junior Senior, Hey Hey My My Yo Yo
2008 (so far), Ida Maria, Fortress Round My Heart
Whew. I hope I got the years right. Argue in the comments, friends.
Early this morning, I wrote a note to the “feature request” email address at Yahoo and received a bounceback informing me that the email address no longer exists. So now we know how much attention Yahoo is paying to building new features on its aging services.
Of course, there’s always this to worry about.
Last week I wrote about Remember the Milk’s refusal or inability to synch its excellent task service with Outlook. I received a couple of interesting comments to the post. Rather than respond to them in the comments, I’m surfacing them here, in part because they’re better than my original post.
So here’s where Twitter comes in: you should Twitter a link to this post, with the title in it, and see if the RTM people are ego-searching Twitter for complaints/compliments. Then see if they respond!
Well, that is exactly what I did. Using the miracle that is Ping.fm, I let those poor souls following my Facebook and Twitter status updates know about the post. Turns out that the RTM people either (a) have better things to do than ego-search or (b) have better things to do that respond to my whining.
Brian Johnson wrote, in part (you can read the comment if you don’t want to miss a word of his thoughtful argument):
Jimmy, I completely agree with your point that the good people at Remember The Milk should be more communicative. Giving you that, I want to address something else in your post: Outlook … [description of his rocky relationship with Outlook] … The good people at RTM ought to answer the phone. And we should be getting on to our next platform already. When I think about the months, maybe years of my life, I’ve spent waiting for Windows and Outlook to load, I want to weep. I’m making a break for it. Are you with me?
So the problem is me, is it?
Well, maybe it is. Since June, I have the good fortune to have a full-time job, for the first time, at a place that’s platform-agnostic. I no longer have the “gotta use Outlook” excuse. I use plenty of the same Outlook add-ins Brian uses to make it work better with the cloud that, except for my writing, has become the center of my computing experience. If I have a large and bulky program that I’m augmenting with a half-dozen large, bulky add-ons that don’t always play well together so they better connect with the lightweight web-based services I’m using more and more, what’s the point?
So … OK, Brian. I’m in. I don’t want to move from a Microsoft-supervised prison to an Apple-supervised one or a Google-supervised one, so I’m going to move my work life to the cloud slowly and carefully. And there are plenty of interesting services so I can mix and match without the system being any more complicated than an Outlook-plus-add-ins scenario. I don’t want to have to do this again in six months if Jobs or Schmidt turn out to be lousy stewards of my stuff. Let the transition begin …
(Unintentional punch line: The transition may have begun already. Earlier today I installed the new IE beta on my laptop. It has an undocumented new feature: It doesn’t connect to any websites. Hello again, Firefox!)
Burning Spear, Garvey’s Ghost (classic album reheard in the car on the way home from work yesterday)
Burning Spear’s Marcus Garvey was stirring and heady, a broadside for what was then a little-known way (in this country, anyway) of hearing reggae. The cover photo of the trio leaning at odd angles in front of wood planks seems shot beside a slave ship, and singer Winston Rodney turns righteous drama into joyous keening. Joe Strummer’s ideas about expansive rhythms started here.
Indeed, the album’s instrumental counterpart, Garvey’s Ghost (1976), solidified the idea of dub as a rhythm zone or a kind of sound playing-field that can be endlessly revisited and revised. The tracks eschew the rough-hewn top melodies of the straight version and zoom in on its low-profile countermelodies. Echoed horns dart in and out of focus; Rodney’s vocals are rarely as audible as they are in the original LP, deployed only to underline a mood that the instruments are already conveying, especially the pained cries on the fervid “I and I Survive”; and rhythm guitarist Valentine Chin anchors the beat as drummer Leroy Wallace dances around it. Producer L. Lindo (a.k.a. Jack Ruby, not the Dallas club owner) places Robbie Shakespeare’s and Aston “Family Man” Barret’s sturdy bass figures as far up front as he can stick them without letting them fall out of the speakers.
At its best, dub shines light on aspects of songs that the original version sometimes gave short shrift. Garvey’s Ghost, along with records from Big Youth, King Tubby, the great Lee Perry, and others, helped set the style for the whole dub sweep that followed and still influences such hip-hop mixer-producers as Arthur Baker and Public Enemy’s Terminator X. Garvey’s Ghost means to make its listener feel cramped inside the slave ship along with the band. When they get to their final “Resting Place,” they mean us to remain uneasy with them too. The sound you hear is the galleon sinking.
(Consumer note: Marcus Garvey and Garvey’s Ghost used to be available together on one compact disc. Don’t know if they still are.)
(Update: They are, but they’re expensive.)