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Category Archives: Vinyl

Maybe She Knows

Cha Cha Charming interviews songwriting legend Ellie Greenwich In addition to being the queen of classic and obscure Girl Group singles (“Be My Baby” etc), she sang backup on Blondie’s “Dreaming”. Didn’t know that.

Also: the San Francisco Chronicicle says goodbye to CDs and lists some alluring alternatives to the old plastic shinies. Personally, I’m just discovering the magic of checking CDs out of the library and copying them onto my hard drive. Today I checked out Loretta Lynn’s Definitive Collection and The Roches’ self-titled album from 1979.

Can’t Live Without My Radio

Every morning when I do my bathroon stuff, I used to turn on the Music Choice radio stations carried on DirecTV and have them play in the background. There was something comforting about this routine, wall to wall music channels tidily lined up in their own genres, seemingly programmed by robots. It had to end, though. On the 15th, DirecTV discontinued Music Choice and instead are simulcasting stations from X-M Satellite Radio. The change got me excited — not only are there more stations with the new setup, there’s more diversity as well. Cursory listens to several of their stations reveals that they live up to the hype, with some disappointments. I was a little bummed that the X-M stations have deejays and annoying promos, but I guess that’s what most satellite radio listeners want — a listening experience that’s exactly like broadcast radio, only without the ads. For me, the ideal radio experience would be an “iPod shuffle” kind of deal, nothing but music programmed in a way that’s full of surprises. But I guess that’s asking for too much, right? I love X-M’s idea of having stations themed around decades from the past, but except for the ’40s one they’re saddled with unimaginative “fun oldies” style playlists. The most promising station might be an uncategorized one called Special X. When I first tuned in, Lorne Greene’s one-shot hit “Ringo” was playing — performed in French. That’s more like it!

PS If you want an interesting online radio experience, try Pandora (thanks Brad!). Simply type in the name of a favorite artist, and Pandora comes up with an eerily accurate playlist of similar yet diverse sounding music. Pretty cool, and it even prompted me to buy a great song off iTunes that I’d never heard before (that would be Marlena Shaw’s dynamite rendition of “California Soul”).

Bottom of the Pops

Just finished a mix devoted to songs that placed on Billboard‘s “Bubbling Under The Hot 100” chart between 1966 and 1981. Quite a fun disc to assemble, with samplings from New Wave, Soul, Country, ’60s Pop and Disco. On a similar note — Pitchfork’s Worst Record Covers (via MetaFilter). Good for a few laughs; contains this priceless observation: “One day, the dawn of Photoshop will be seen as the absolute nadir of human artistic endeavor.”

My iPod’s Cooler Than Yours on the Rock Snob (via Vince Keenan). Uses the Minutemen’s cover of Steely Dan’s “Doctor Wu” as an example of said snobbery. Liking offbeat cover versions, I suppose, is a sign of rock snobbery. While I was reading this, a cover of the Jackson 5’s “ABC” by The Living Jazz was playing. The Living Jazz (and The Living Strings and The Living Brass) were really a bunch of faceless studio musicians. RCA Records’ used the “Living” brand as a way of repackaging pop hits into the sort of non-offensive instrumentals that even grannies could love. Funnily enough, this cover of “ABC” has a hot guitar solo missing from the original. Anyway. Good article.

The Happiest Boy in the Whole U.S.A.

I found this country music discography site while researching Tanya Tucker’s MCA Records period. Very nicely researched, and I get a kick out of the ever-changing parade of goofy hairstyles pictured in the album cover galleries.

P.S. Although I adore Tanya’s music (Ever heard “Lizzie and the Rainman”? Awesome.), her reality show is a huge bore.