Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Summer Reading

Summer vacation is almost here...which means it's almost time for summer reading. I just announced the list of choices to my students and of course they were overjoyed at the prospect of spending part of their two months of freedom reading two books. I never had summer reading when I was in school, but I read much more than two books anway. I can remember going to the local book store to pick up the Sunday paper with my dad and he would buy me a book. Sometimes I would have it read by the end of the day. My love of reading would eventually lead me into being a teacher, although I didn't know it then. Now a days though most of the reading I do is to my 2 year old daughter when she goes to bed. Summer is about the only time I have a chance to read anything for personal enjoyment anymore unfortunately. So now that I'm done with my personal confessions, here are some songs you can listen to about books.

Ben Lee (with Claire Danes!) - Reading Rainbows (mp3) - Nothing Much Happens Single

Camera Obscura - Books Written for Girls (mp3) - Underachievers Please Try Harder

Belle & Sebastian - Wrapped Up In Books (mp3) - Our Favourite Party Songs

The Shins - Pressed In A Book (mp3) - Oh, Inverted World

The Magnetic Fields - The Book of Love (mp3) - 69 Love Songs
(to download, right click and then "save as")

Monday, May 29, 2006

Nine Inch Nails Flashback

I finally got around to listening to the Nine Inch Nails tracks posted on your standard life and it inspired me to dig through my collection of NIN recordings for some rare and little-listened to tracks. I remember getting turned onto Pretty Hate Machine by a friend in college back in 1991. It was simply amazing. I would listen to it over and over and over and over. Back then you couldn't just go online to find more music by a band or even find much information about them so all I knew was NIN was Trent Reznor, and Trent Reznor was NIN. Fast forward to about a year later with the release of Broken. Oh my gosh, what a shock. Absolutely nothing like the electronic / techno PHM...Broken was a half hour of pure anger and destruction. When I think of NIN, I personally still think this album defines Trent. I saw Trent a few times live, but he fell off my radar screen after the long draught following The Downward Spiral. My interest has been rekindled with the release of With Teeth, although I still favor the older, angrier, rawer NIN.

Nine Inch Nails - Supernaut (mp3) - This was supposedly one of the two songs on the mythical, grail-like Halo Zero (along with the demo version of Suck). It was recorded by Trent and 1,000 Homo-DJ's and at the time, Trent was engaged in a vicious battle with TVT, his recording company. They insisted that his vocal be removed so Al Jourgensen altered the track slightly, claimed he re-recorded it, and released it anyway.

Nine Inch Nails - Get Down, Make Love (mp3) - the Sin single : This little gem is nestled between three versions of Sin and it is one of my most favorite NIN tracks ever. It was written by Freddie Mercury, and if you listen carefully, you'll hear Freddie at the end of the song.

Nine Inch Nails - Burn (mp3) - Natural Born Killers Soundtrack : Oliver Stone brought Trent in to produce this soundtrack and it's truly an amazing array of genres and sound-bites from the movie. Burn was one of three NIN songs on the album, but it is the only one not found on any of NIN's halos.

Nine Inch Nails (with David Bowie) - Reptile (mp3) - Live at Great Woods, 9-16-95 : If you were to see NIN on the Outside tour in 1995, you would have noticed a strange mixture of listeners in the crowd. Nine Inch Nails opened up the shows, David Bowie came on stage to perform some songs with NIN, and then NIN left and David Bowie had the stage. This track and the next one (a Bowie song) come from one of these shows.

Nine Inch Nails (with David Bowie) - Hallo Spaceboy (mp3) - Live at Great Woods, 9-16-95

Buy some NIN of your own

(to download, right click and then "save as")

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Summer Fun!

Although my summer won't really begin until June 23rd (the day after the last day of school when I'm done teaching the little rugrats), today the warm weather hit for real. With temps in the 80's and humidity to match, today was the first day it was sticky enough that I just wanted to sit around, kick back, and drink refreshing beverages. To top it off, the forecast calls for temps in the 90's on Monday. So, to celebrate the warm weather, I've assembled some songs that invoke the spirit of summer. Download, listen, and consume your favorite beverage that has a little umbrella in it.

DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince - Summertime (mp3) - Homebase
Back before Independence Day, Men In Black, and Hitch, there was no Will Smith, there was only the Fresh Prince. This song came late in his Fresh Prince period and truly sums up all that is good with summer: cruising for girls, block parties, basketball courts, and barbecues.
Nat King Cole - Those Lazy-Hazy-Crazy Days Of Summer (mp3) - Buy some Nat
I know, I know, what is a guy like Nat doing on a summer tunes mix? Believe me though this song has summer picnic written all over it.
that dog - One Summer Night (mp3) - Totally Crushed Out!
This band came, they saw, and they disappeared (after releasing a couple of catchy pop-ish albums). I really can't tell you much about this group other than I like them.
G. Love & Special Sauce - Cold Beverage / Gold Digger (mp3) - Live 1-14-06 at the Gypsy Tea Ballroom ~ Buy some G. Love
OK, so I know this isn't specifically a song about summer...but what better time is there to crack open some cold beverages (preferrably micro-brewed)? It took me a little while to really appreciate G.'s brand of blues/funk/rock/what ever ya call it. If anyone has this entire show (or any other live show for that matter), PLEASE think about sharing it with yours truly.
Van Halen - Ice Cream Man (mp3) - Van Halen
What would the summer be without ice cream? We call the little ice cream truck the ding-dong-cart in these parts. I'm not sure if that is the universal name for them or not since I asked my wife (who's from Long Island) and she didn't have the faintest idea what I was talking about. Is ding-dong-cart just a Massachusetts thing?
(to download, right click and then "save as")

Thursday, May 25, 2006

and the 8 Ball says...

- Open iTunes
- Turn shuffle on
- Press play
- The first 5 songs are:

1.) The Violent Femmes - More Money Tonight (mp3) - Why Do Birds Sing? - I can remember the days when alternative music really was alternative and that to claim YOU listened to alternative you had to listen to these guys. The Femmes burst onto the scene with their self-titled debut that everyone had on a cassette tape in their car (usually recorded off of a friend's copy and passed on like the tape from the original Mission Impossible TV show).

2.) The Ventures - Hawaii 5-0 (mp3) - Hawaii 5-0 [Original Recording Remastered] - Speaking of old TV shows, Hawaii 5-0 was a classic! I can remember the guy surfing during the opening credits and the old-school cruisers they drove on the show. Although I didn't realize it until I poked around right now, this show was on for an amazing 12 years! And how could we talk about Hawaii 5-0 without ending with "Book'em Danno!"

3.) Dropkick Murphys - Nut Rocker (mp3) - Tessie EP - For those of you outside New England, Tessie was THE Boston Red Sox song a few years ago when it seemed the Babe Ruth / Buckner curse was fading. This song is a short instrumental piece that makes you want jump around like you should if you were at a Murphys' show.

4.) The Lemonheads - It's All True (mp3) - Car Button Cloth - Good Ol' Evan Dando was another alternative staple for quite a while, although after covering Mrs. Robinson on It's A Shame About Ray the Lemonheads never quite lived up to the hype. I tried going to Evan's site, but it says it's under construction, but who knows how long that has been up.

5.) Arab Strap - That's Where We Left Our Love (mp3) Buy Arab Strap - This song is more like a poem over some background music. People seem to have definite opinions about Arab Strap. Either they like Aidan Moffat's voice or they don't...there's very little gray area there. You either go for the brogue or you don't.

(to download, right click and then "save as")

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Abandon all hope, ye who enter here!

So you got off at the wrong exit and didn't quite make it to the scenic rest stop with the best view on Sunday. That's OK...there's still a special spot for you. No security deposit required, no first and last month's rent, and heating is included! It's where Dante began his tour through the realms of the dead in his Divine Comedy, although I'm not sure Virgil will be there to show you the sites.

After Sunday's post, I didn't want you to think that I was playing favorites, so here are some tunes for those of you who St. Peter might not have on his "nice" list.

Nine Inch Nails - Help Me I Am In Hell (live in Atlanta, GA 1994) (mp3) : Coming Down Fast ~ Buy NIN

Squirrel Nut Zippers - Hell (mp3) : Hot

Tricky - Hell Is Round the Corner (mp3) : Maxinquaye

John Lee Hooker - Burning Hell (mp3) : Burning Hell

(to download, right click and then "save as")

Sunday, May 21, 2006

The Scenic Rest Stop with the Best View

I'm not an overly religious man, but the idea of one day a week devoted to rest and relaxation sounds like a miracle. A day to put on your best cloths and spend time with the family. What a spectacular idea! Unfortunately, Sunday is no such day for me. It involves laundry, house work, working my part time job, and sometimes getting ready for tomorrow and my full time gig.

Do I believe in Heaven? Good question and one whose answer depends on what day of the week it is. I wonder if Heaven is a one-size-fits-all kind of place or is it more like the hologram deck on Star Trek: The Next Generation where you can conjure up any scene you'd like? I wonder how you find other people like old friends and family in Heaven once you get there. I mean, there must be a lot of people up there by now. Is there some sort of Divine Yellow Pages that you use to track people down with?

Regardless, here are some songs about that big eternal rest spot in the sky where one day I might end up (or...might not).

Louis Prima - Pennies From Heaven (mp3) - Collector's Series

50 Cent - Gotta Make It To Heaven (mp3) - Get Rich or Die Tryin'

Cake - Sheep Go To Heaven (mp3) - Prolonging the Magic

The Pixies - In Heaven (mp3) - W.E.R.S. Studios, Emerson College, Boston (January 18, 1987) - Buy Pixies stuff

Smashing Pumpkins - My Blue Heaven (mp3) - Rarities and B-Sides

Fatboy Slim - F**king in Heaven (mp3) - You've Come A Long Way Baby

(to download, right click and then "save as")

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Musical Motivation For the Week

Sometimes it seems that the days of the week just fly by, while other times it's a marathon to get to the weekend. Whichever way you're feeling this coming week, here are some songs to help you get through it.

Sunday ~ Nina Simone - Sunday In Savanah (mp3) - The Very Best Nina Simone: Sugar In My Bowl (Disc 1)

Monday ~ Tegan and Sara - Monday Monday Monday (mp3) - If It Was You

Tuesday ~ The Pogues - Tuesday Morning (mp3) - The Ultimate Collection

Wednesday ~ Simon & Garfunkel - Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M. (mp3) - Old Friends

Thursday ~ Morphine - Thursday (mp3) - Cure For Pain

Friday ~ The Cure - Friday I'm in Love (mp3) - Wish

Saturday ~ Josh Rouse - Saturday (mp3) - Nashville

(to download, right click and then "save as")

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Musical Music

Last night I went and watched a production of Miss Saigon and was pleasantly surprised. Not that I thought I was going to hate it or anything of that sort. I wasn't familiar with the story and for some reason I didn't have high expectations for the evening. Thankfully, my expectations proved to be unfounded and the evening was quite entertaining. The music was enjoyable, the story understandable, and the opening number takes place in a brothel with scantily clad women running around (and I was in the middle of the front row). It doesn't get much better than that in the world of musicals. Anyway, I'm inspired to post some music from some of my favorite musicals. Enjoy, and as they say in the theater, break a leg!

Cell Block Tango - Bebe Neuwirth and the Girls (mp3) - Chicago: The Musical

King Herod's Song (Try It and See) - Mike D'Abo (mp3) - Jesus Christ Superstar: Original London Concept Recording

Greased Lightning - John Travolta (mp3) - Grease: Original Soundtrack

Seasons of Love - Rent (mp3) - The Best of Rent: Highlights from the Original Broadway Cast Album

Sweet Transvestite - Rocky Horror Picture Show (mp3) - Rocky Horror Picture Show: 25 Years of Absolute Pleasure

OK, so maybe some of these songs come from the movie soundtracks. If you are too snobby for the big screen version, get it somewhere else!

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Happy Mother's Day (even if you're not my mom)

Cruising around the blog-o-sphere, you'll find lots of posts for mother's day today. While I agree that mom certainly does deserve her very own post, I wonder how many of our moms are actually cruising around the internet and reading our blogs? Since I can almost guarantee that my mom will NEVER see this post (although I still dedicate it to her), I will send my mother's day wishes to anyone reading this who is a mom, or will be soon. It's a damn hard job that rarely ever gets appreciated (much like teachers, cough cough) so in the words of Neil Young, "these notes are for you."

The Frames - God Bless Mom (live) (mp3) - Setlist

Allison Crowe - Playboy Mommy (mp3) - Live at Wood Hall

Johnny Cash - Send A Picture of Mother (mp3) - At Madison Square Garden 12/5/69

Tesla - Mother's Little Helper (mp3) - Five Man Acoustical Jam

Ben Harper and the Blind Boys of Alabama - Mother Pray (mp3) - Live at the Apollo

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Pony Up!...and not the Pipettes!

The gods of blog must have been looking down on me last night when I put up my last post because low and postino delivered a special package for yours truly today. A hearty thanks to Dim Mak records and Blue Collar Distro for getting the new Pony Up! album, Make Love to the Judges With Your Eyes, out to me so quickly. It's been on repeat since it showed up around 11 this morning. Sarah, Laura, Lisa, and Lindsay were well worth the (short) wait.

It's hard to believe that this is the girls' first full length offering to us who are not worthy. Compared to their self titled EP, this set of songs is a little darker (many more broken hearts and less puppy love) and a little more mature. (I cringe at using that term, but it's the best that I can come up with.) I'm desperately hoping that the girls turn their tour bus towards the neighborhood sometime this summer. Anyway, here are a few tracks to wet your whistle.

Pony Up! - Possible Harm (mp3) - Make Love to the Judges With Your Eyes

Pony Up! - The Truth About Cats and Dogs (is that they die) (mp3) - Make Love to the Judges With Your Eyes

Pony Up! - Matthew Modine (mp3) - Pony Up!
(I know this is an older song, but it's also the one that got me diggin' the girls...and I simply LOVE it. The idea of four cute girls all lusting after you and writing a song about can you resist that fantasy?)

Pony Up! - Heard You Got Action (mp3) - ??? Not sure where this came from, but it sure is a good tune!

Friday, May 12, 2006

The Pipettes (and other -ettes)...not Pony Up!

So I've scoped out some of the tracks floating around out there in inter-space and was super excited to get Pony Up!'s new album Make Love to the Judges With Your Eyes when it came out on the I searched around at some local music stores...and came up empty-handed. That's right, no one carried it. Nada. Zero. Zippo. Unbelievable. I ended up ordering it right from Dim Mak and am eagerly awaiting its arrival. In the meantime, let me share with you another gaggle of girls that are simply adorable and releasing an album soon: the Pipettes. These lasses hail from Brighton and are straight out of the American Graffiti soundtrack. Listening to them makes my want to wear my varsity letter jacket and take out my girl in her poodle skirt to the local drive-in where we'll be served by waitresses on roller-skates.

The Pipettes - I like A Boy in Uniform (School Uniform) (mp3) - I Like A Boy In Uniform 7"

The Pipettes - Because It's Not Love (mp3) - It Came From Memphis

And while we're at it, let me share some other -ettes with you to satisfy your musical taste buds while we wait for the postman to deliver my special package.

The Bobettes - Mr. Lee (mp3) - Stand By Me Soundtrack

The Chordettes - Lollipop (mp3) - Greatest Hits

The Raveonettes - My Boyfriend's Back (mp3) - Pretty In Black

The Silhouettes - Get A Job (mp3) - American Graffiti Soundtrack

The Velvelettes - Needle In A Haystack (mp3) - The Very Best of the Velvelettes

Monday, May 08, 2006

and the 8 Ball says...

- Open iTunes
- Turn shuffle on
- Press play
- The first 5 songs are:

1.) Harry Chapin - Cat's In the Cradle (mp3) - Verities & Balderdash - Not to be confused with the Ugly Kid Joe version...this song reminds me a lot of my own dad. He had his own business and was always working, and rarely home. My mother and I would often take vacations without him. Now that I'm a father myself, I'm mindful not to let the years slip away.

2.) R.E.M. - Exhuming McCarthy (live) (mp3) - The Green World Tour Import - I saw Michael and company on the Monster tour with Radiohead. It was one of the best all-around shows I've been too. Not many men can pull of the shaved head look, but even I have to admit that Michael looks pretty sexy without any hair.

3.) Simon & Garfunkel - America (mp3) - Old Friends - Do you remember the video Paul shot with Chevy Chase for "You Can Call Me Al"? He looked like a midget. Goofy video too...both of them pretending to play various instruments in a white room.

4.) Midnight Oil - Brave Faces (mp3) - Scream In Blue: Live - Another bald man, Peter Garrett, makes the list, although this one is quiet a bit taller than Michael. Although this band didn't break until "Beds Are Burning" hit the jackpot in the early 80's, Midnight Oil had been around since 1975 in various incarnations. The group is actually still around sans Peter.

5.) R.E.M. - Star 69 (mp3) - Monster - What are the odds? Over 8,000 songs, and a second R.E.M. song comes up...and one from the Monster album which I was talking about before to boot! It must be an omen...maybe I'm going to run into Michael tomorrow! OK, so probably not.

Friday, May 05, 2006

We're all going to hell

That's right...if you have listened to any of this music, you are going to that hot place down yonder!

This is the final installment of my musical tribute to Eric Nazum's Parental Advisory: Music Censorship in America. If you still haven't gotten the book...shame on you!

the 90's

2 Live Crew - Me So Horny (mp3) - As Nasty As They Wanna Be
(If you were alive in the early 90's, you HAVE to remember the uproar surrounding this song and album!)

Nirvana - Rape Me (mp3) - In Utero
(Several of the big Mega-Marts refused to carry this album because of the cover art and this song's title. After it became the #1 album in the country, Mega-Marts decided they wanted a piece of the pie and carried an altered version with subdued art and this song's title changed to "Waif Me." Waif me??? What the heck is that? Amazingly, it's still called this on iTunes! C'mon Apple, show some spine.)

The Prodigy - Smack My Bitch Up (Sub Focus Remix) (mp3) - The Fat of the Land
(After protests from several goodie-goodie groups, the Mega-Marts pulled this album, even though they had been selling it for 9 months.)

the 00's

Ani DiFranco - Subdivision (live at Carnegie Hall 4/6/02) (mp3) - Carnegie Hall 4.6.02
(Producers of Late Night with David Letterman canceled an appearance by Ani after she refused to drop plans to perform this song, which deals with racism and white flight to the suburbs.)

Nine Inch Nails - Head Like A Hole (Opal) (mp3) - Head Like a Hole Single: Australian Import
(After 9/11, Clear Channel Communications put out a list of over 150 songs that they recommended be pulled from playlists. This song was one of them. Other artists whose songs were listed included Sugar Ray, AC/DC, Pat Benetar, REM, and others.)

ALL of this information is offered as tantalizing tidbits from Eric's book. PLEASE go out, or click here, and buy a copy for yourself!

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

More bad, bad music

Yesterday I gave you a brief synopsis of Eric Nazum's Parental Advisory: Music Censorship in America and shared some racey tunes from the 50's and 60's. Today we'll continue our descent into moral degradation with more sinfully enjoyable music from the 70's and 80's!

the 70's

The Sex Pistols - Anarchy in the U.K. (mp3) - The Great Rock'n'Roll Swindle (Johnny and crew were initially denied visas for their first US tour)

the 80's

The Cure - Killing an Arab (mp3) - Staring At The Sea: The Singles 1979-1985 (Robert and crew requested this song not be played on the radio after complaints by groups such as the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee)

N.W.A. - F**k tha Police (mp3) - Straight Outta Compton
(Do I really need to explain why this put a certain segment of the uniformed population over their boiling point?)

George Michael - I Want Your Sex (mp3) - Faith
(Gosh, I still remember the video for this...bodies intertwined in black satin sheets...lipstick messages written in naughty places....)

Twisted Sister - We're not Gonna Take It (mp3) - Still Hungry
(God bless Dee Snider for standing up to those PMRC bullies!)

Coming tomorrow...the 90's and 00's

ALL of this information is offered as tantalizing tidbits from Eric's book. PLEASE go out, or click here, and buy a copy for yourself!

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Banned In the USA

Banned in the U.S.A. - 2 Live Crew (mp3) - Banned in the U.S.A.

Although it's not on the cutting edge of the print medium, Parental Advisory: Music Censorship in America (published in 2001) is still a great read. I'm impressed with Eric Nuzum's research and writing style. The general focus of the book concerns the history of music censorship in the United States, how the "Parental Advisory: Explicit Content" sticker came into being, and why the music industry caved into demands from outside groups such as the PRMC to start using such a sticker.

Unbeknownst to many, music censorship is nothing new: it's been around for over a hundred years here in the USA. From early attempts in this century to limit the influence of African-American music on the white middle class, to our grandparents' generation trying to eliminate rock and roll and its immoral tribal beats, there has always been an attempt to curtail what the general public is listening to. In recent years, the heat has been on groups such as Marilyn Manson, Madonna, and pretty much any rap group in general, but ironically, the same people who are pushing for censorship now listened to music that their parents objected to as well: musicians such as Chuck Berry, the Doors, and Elvis.

Please do yourself a favor and check out the book if you get a chance. It's divided into chapters that focus on various censorship issues such as religion, sex, drugs, politics, etc... It's a fairly fast read and although it doesn't reveal any revolutionary ideas or newly released CIA documents, it does bring together some interesting information in a coherent and interest grabbing fashion.

In celebration of musical freedom, I offer up the following songs:
(If your name is Tipper, please DON'T download any of these)

the 50's

I Get A Kick Out Of You - Frank Sinatra (mp3) - The Capitol Years
(In this Cole Porter classic, the line "Some they may go for cocaine" was changed to "Some like the perfume from Spain")

Hound Dog - Elvis Presley (mp3) - Hound Dog [Import]
(On Elvis' third appearance on the Ed Sullivan show, the camera men were instructed to only show him from the waist up!)

the 60's

Pictures of Lily - The Who (mp3) - Who's Better, Who's Best
(Many radio stations banned this song because of its indirect reference to masturbation)

Louie, Louie - The Kingsmen (mp3) - The Kingsmen
(Fearing obscene messages, the FBI investigated it and the Indiana governor tried to ban this song. I don't know about you, but I couldn't tell you another line in the song other than Louie, Louie.)

Coming tomorrow...the 70's and 80's
ALL of this information is offered as tantalizing tidbits from Eric's book. PLEASE go out, or click here, and buy a copy for yourself!