Saturday, December 31, 2011

Have a happy New Year's Day!

I can't speak for you folks, but 2011 had its share of ups and downs on my end (as do most years).

I went on a great ski trip in February with my wife and family. I met Brian Wilson in July when my wife (and family) went to see him in concert, and he signed an album for me. I won a Brian Wilson-signed "SMiLE Sessions" box set in a Facebook contest. And I got married! I love my wife and I enjoy spending time with her family, and you can't beat that. The wedding was the biggest positive of the year. :) So, as you can see, some really great ups there!

I've also had some downs, including the death of my paternal grandfather, some issues at work and scattered bits and pieces here and there (I don't want to dwell on the negative).

I know that 2012 is going to have some challenging times, what with changes in my workplace (and in the industry in general) and all the other unknowns and unforeseeable obstacles. And there's the upcoming election, which means more negativity and bashing and self-promotion ... Bah, I say. Bah!

But there are good things on the way, too. The Beach Boys are reuniting for a worldwide tour, a new album and some compilations and archival releases. Very cool. :) There'll be great albums throughout the year, great new artists and new songs that will inspire and fulfill us in ways only music can do. The Rolling Stones might tour (well, Keith thinks they could), and who knows what else is just around the corner? Focusing on the good seems like the best route to take.

So tonight (New Year's Eve in my neck of the woods ... midnight fast approaching), I hope you all have a great time. I hope you stay safe, of course, but I hope you enjoy good friends, good family, and some love and laughter. Let us hope that 2012 is better than the best of 2011, and let us do our part to make that happen!

My best wishes to you all!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The hippest El Camino I've encountered?

In 2011, The Black Keys released their seventh album. Called "El Camino," the album had an unenviable task: It had to follow its very popular predecessor "Brothers."

"Brothers" is how I got into The Black Keys. A very good friend of mine (the same friend who got me into The White Stripes) bought a copy of the album for me. Knowing my tastes in music as he did, and knowing how I appreciated good sounds and was wanting to expand my knowledge of modern bands, my friend figured "Brothers" was a good place to start. He was right.

Friday, December 23, 2011

I will be live blogging before the year is over

Howdy, friends.

Sorry it's been a while. I was waiting to see if I'd get any feedback or suggestions for the live blogging listening party idea. I didn't get anything, so I'll just have to choose something myself.

Works for me. :)

I'll grab an album I haven't heard before (or haven't listened to in a long time) and get that entry done before the year is over.

I wish you all the very best this holiday season. No matter your religious beliefs, political stances or anything else, I hope your next several days are full of peace, caring, comfort and good will.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Live blogging an album

Ever gone to a listening party?

I haven't gone to enough of them. So my latest flash of brilliance (that might be an exaggeration) was to listen to an album and blog as I'm listening. Giving impressions, first reactions and whatever thoughts pop into my head at the time.

What do you think? Cool?

Might as well try!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

RIP John Lennon

On this day in 1980, John Lennon was slain by Mark David Chapman outside the Dakota Apartments in New York City.

The man, as a Beatle and as a solo artist, created some amazing music and helped forge a sense of political and social activism that few rock musicians had shared up to that poet (sure, you had folk artists doing it). His peace anthem "Imagine" continues to rally people worldwide. His love songs, his family songs, his artsy songs ... They all form a musical fabric that have colored and enriched so many of us.

One can only wonder what kind of music would have been released in the last 21 years had he lived. Would the Beatles have reunited? Would "Free as a Bird" or "Real Love" have been released? Would "Milk and Honey" have been released, at least in the form it took? Would John and Yoko still be together? Would John have gotten closer to Julian?

These questions, and more, can never be answered.

But the music lives on, and for that we can be grateful.

I have a lot I can say about Lennon. I was born in July of 1980, so I was too young to care about his music before he died. But the Beatles were very important to my young life, and continue to be now. His solo works provide important, interesting material that continues to inspire (and confound, at times). But my words pale in comparison to Lennon's own. So ...

Here's one of my favorite John Lennon songs, "Instant Karma!" We all shine on ...

RIP, John Lennon.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Favorites? Favorites, more favorites ... Hmm.

What's your favorite band? Who is your favorite singer? What is your favorite song?

Common questions. Sucky questions. For the music addict, those questions can be nearly impossible to answer.

But we're all friends here, and we can take the time to discuss the most mundane things and the most challenging things alike. After all, you're reading a blog ... you don't have anything better to do! :)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Power of music: So many reasons to love it

I have an addiction, and it's music.

I love to listen to it. I love to think about it. I love to talk about it. I love to challenge myself with it. I love to look at it. I love to look for it.

Music borders on obsession for me, and in some cases it does more than border obsession. If it involves my favorite groups, I am admittedly obsessed with the music. The Beatles? The Beach Boys? Queen? Pink Floyd? Weezer? You can name dozens of groups and individual artists ... I dig their stuff, and I jump in head first.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Monkees "Instant Replay"

A sneak peak at the Monkees' "Instant Replay" box that I just received today! I'm really looking forward to listening to it later tonight.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Added to the collection: Rolling Stones and R.E.M.

Went out today with a good friend of mine. We hit a few stores that we like and went browsing through music. Went through a lot of new and used vinyl and CDs. Sometimes you find gold in the used sections, and I've been known to drop a good amount of money on items that people have gotten rid of. Never develop a mindset that just because something is used, it's no longer good or isn't worth your time. It's just not true.

My biggest purchases today, however, were new items. I picked up the two-disc remastered rerelease of The Rolling Stones' "Some Girls" and R.E.M.'s newest best-of collection. I'll be spinning them tonight. If I get some inspiration to do any blogging on those, I'll be sure to let you folks know what I think.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Radiohead, "The King of Limbs" and ennui

You see this cover?

Yeah. Pretty cool, isn't it?

Might be the best thing about the whole album.

Let me explain.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Well, if Wishes were Dark Sides ... (Pink Floyd remasters)

When it comes to Pink Floyd albums, "Dark Side of the Moon" and "Wish You Were Here" are certainly two of the group's most popular works. And with every classic band deciding to remaster their albums, it only made sense for Pink Floyd to do the same. ... I guess. :) And these two albums were among the ones I was most curious about, for getting new details and revelations.

The longevity of both albums comes from the quality of the material, the quality of the performances and the quality of the audio experiences. Both albums have always sounded so clean, so detailed and so densely layered.

Those great qualities, in effect, work against the 2011 remastered editions of the albums.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

"SMiLE?" I nearly wept (with happiness)! ;)

Hold on a second.

There we go. That's better.

So, the Beach Boys released "The SMiLE Sessions" on Tuesday, Nov. 1.

The impact? Major. It's selling BIG on Amazon, and doing enough business elsewhere to make an impact throughout the industry. How do I know this? Because "The SMiLE Sessions" has charted in Billboard in its first week. And not in the lower 100s. It's in the top 30. Yeah!

That's right, No. 27! And it's No. 3 on Billboard's "Tastemaker Albums" chart. Woo woo!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Working on new reviews

Howdy, all.

Illness, work and a whole lot of music ... I've been hit by all three lately.

I've got new reviews / discussions in the works. Got something going for the Beach Boys and "The Smile Sessions" (addressing the big box version and the 2 CD version). Also have some stuff in the works for a few of the Pink Floyd remastered reissues (especially "Dark Side of the Moon" and "Wish You Were Here"). I've also started something on Brian Wilson's new Disney covers album ("Brian Wilson in the Key of Disney"). Oh, and there's some Radiohead ("Kid A" vs. "King of Limbs") and Monkees stuff (Rhino reissues, the box sets in general and the upcoming "Instant Replay" deluxe set in particular) in the pipeline, too.

Heck, I'm even working on a Beatles entry (in the past couple months, I've purchased the Capitol albums sets). There's plenty of stuff coming!

Rest assured, I have not lost interest or started ignoring the place. I apologize that new activity has been so scarce. But I have a few items that are several paragraphs long each, and I'll start wrapping them up and sharing them ASAP.

How're you all doing? Please feel free to drop a line. Comments are always welcome!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Back, and married!

Howdy, friends (for surely anyone who willingly reads my words are friends indeed).

I apologize for not having posted in the last couple weeks. I got married, huzzah! I had two weeks off for the wedding and an "at-home honeymoon," and then promptly got buried upon my return to work.

But I will be posting more stuff soon! I promise.

I'm just a touch disappointed that no one commented anything on the "Sail On Sailor" post, but maybe I'll find something in a future posting that will hit a chord with you and coax some participation. I definitely enjoy any and all feedback I get.

Thanks for your patience!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Sail on, sail on ...

My fiancee (who will become my wife on Saturday afternoon) LOVES this Beach Boys song. I figured, hey, "Sail On, Sailor" is a good tune ... Let's take a look at some examples.

You folks give these a listen, then let's discuss which ones you like ... or don't like ... and any other angles of the song that strike your fancy.

Deal? Deal!


Here's the original studio version, the classic itself.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Getting married

Howdy friends!

I'm getting married on Saturday, Oct. 1. My fiancee and I have been staying busy with work and wedding planning, which is why I haven't been spending much time on the blog. I haven't put much new stuff up in the last two or so weeks, but I'll get back to my usual routine after the wedding.

I might get another entry in before the big day ... we'll see!

Take care, and be back soon!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

When I want energy, I reach for A7X

I came to this album during an angry time.

Work wasn't going well, relationships (friends, family, etc.) weren't great and I was getting bored with the music I loved.

Delirious Love? Sure seems that way

Once upon a time, I was talking to a friend and somehow the topic got onto some music that we dislike.

On his list was Neil Diamond.

Monday, September 12, 2011

The record skipped, my apologies!

To those who check in with this humble blog, you have my apologies that there were no updates last week. Sorry! It was pretty busy in the real world, and I never really had the chance to finish some of the reviews I'm working on (got a few in the pipeline).

It's my hope to get at least one up in the next couple days, and maybe two (or three) by the end of the week!

Thanks for your patience!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Really ... the year has plenty to "SMiLE" about

The best music news I've gotten since confirmation I was going to see Brian Wilson in Clear Lake, IA, comes in the form of one of the most famous unfinished albums in pop/rock history: "SMiLE." Or, to be more accurate, "The SMiLE Sessions."

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Wish this album would surface in more collections

For a group that was one of the UKs top band for a year or so, and that had such huge media exposure (not the least of which came from Bob Geldof's Live Aid shows), it's amazing to me that the Boomtown Rats' catalog is dramatically, and unfairly, ignored or unknown.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

"Bad" is so good

Before I give my review, I need to say this: For many years, I wasn't a fan of Michael Jackson. And I'm STILL not a huge fan. But I try to approach music with a relatively open mind, and you'll find a lot of head scratchers in my album collection (I do own a Vanilla Ice CD, after all).

I don't like that Michael Jackson owned the Beatles catalogue. I didn't like the controversy around him, the plastic surgeries, the odd behaviors. Until about three years ago, with the exception of one song (which I'll get to below), I didn't bother to understand him, much less listen to him.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

White Stripes get me behind them

Everyone I know likes The White Stripes, but it took me a long, long time to jump on that bandwagon.

The songs I'd heard, from movies (Napoleon Dynamite) to online radio stations, sounded great. But I was hesitant to delve into the catalog ... I've been burned before with songs that sounded great, then finding out that whole albums by those artists just didn't cut it. Sure, "Seven Nation Army" was awesome ... but could that kind of sound be sustained across whole albums? I just wasn't sure.

A friend of mine loaned me "Get Behind Me Satan" and said it was his choice for best album of the 2000s. High praise ... but I was skeptical.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Album makes my final cut

Though not a popular pick, "The Final Cut" is one of my absolute favorite Pink Floyd albums. While understandably criticized for its negativity, its one-dimensional anti-war stance, and being a Pink Floyd album in name only (it was really more of a Roger Waters solo album), nothing can detract from the sonic quality, the passion and the brilliant musicality.

"The Wall" usually gets more credit for its thematic approach (as do "Dark Side of the Moon," "Wish You Were Here" and "Animals"), but "The Final Cut" is almost a suite: each song being a facet of the same story (a la "The Wall"), with many of the songs seguing into each other.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

"Exile" opens mind, kicks butt


That was my reaction to my first listen to this album. I've always been more of a hits collection fan of the Rolling Stones (I think the band is worthy of respect, I think they've got some truly amazing material ... but I've never needed more than 20 of their songs).

I don't feel that way anymore. In fact, since getting this album, I've added at least 6 or 7 of their discs to my collection (and that doesn't count greatest hits compilations). This album was the ice breaker for me.

Can't knock those "Walls and Bridges"

"Walls and Bridges" may not be the artiest album in the world, but it's my second-favorite John Lennon solo album.

It's almost as honest as "Plastic Ono Band," almost as orchestrated as "Imagine" and almost as much a "diary" album as "Some Time in New York City." And hey, it even has the only Lennon single to go No. 1 in his lifetime. The album itself also rose to No. 1 on the American Billboard charts, taking Lennon to the top before his 5-year hiatus.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Head and The Heart ... and the ears!

We've all had friends, co-workers and store employees who give us recommendations. Doesn't matter if it's music, movies or appliances, we're sometimes pointed in the direction of something we've never heard of.

It was my good fortune to be pointed in the direction of the band The Head and The Heart. One of the fine gentlemen at my local independent music store has been piecing together my tastes and suggested I give this band a try (he'd noticed my love of The Fleet Foxes and The Beach Boys, so he knew I liked great vocals and cool music arrangements).

I'm always on the lookout for a good musician or group to add to my palette, so I was interested to see what this group had to offer. I bought a copy of the album, headed home, popped it into the player and settled down next to my fiancee for a listen.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Nothing is real ... and nothing to get hung about

The Beatles crafted so many classic songs that it is difficult (or, in my case, impossible) to pick a favorite.

But one track that I never grow tired of is "Strawberry Fields Forever," the 1967 classic that helped bridge the "Revolver" era and the "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" era. It's surreal, psychedelic, artistic and cool. It's also a miracle of production work, with producer George Martin and engineer Geoff Emerick pulling off enough tricks to blend two different takes/versions together into one potent song.

The track is such an interesting song, and the production and songwriting are so interesting, that I'm gonna go into some depth on this sucker. Buckle up, it's gonna be a ride!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Nothing like a little "Bleach" to tidy up

 Is there another reason for your stain?
Could you believe who we knew stress or strain?
Here is another word that rhymes with shame ...

"Bleach," the first album by Nirvana, may not have had the commercial clout or immediate impact of sophomore effort "Nevermind," but it remains an important, interesting and just-plain-energetic collection of songs that set the tone for what was to come in the 1990s. The roots for "Smells Like Teen Spirit" are here, as are the already perfected shrieks and howls that became a Kurt Cobain signature.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Saturday, July 30, 2011

This lucky old son gets to see Brian Wilson again

On Sunday night, I'll have the great fortune of seeing Brian Wilson perform live. It'll be my third concert of his (I saw him in Kansas City for the "SMiLE" tour, and I saw him in Minneapolis on the "That Lucky Old Sun" tour), and I'm just as excited about this concert as I've been for the other two.

I'm going with my fiancee (this will be her second Brian Wilson show), my parents (this will be my dad's second show, my mom's first), my grandmother (her first), my aunt and uncle (their first). It should be a great time, all around.

This concert will parade his hits (the Beach Boys stuff, especially, with some solo stuff sprinkled in), and he may also perform his newest album ("Brian Wilson Reimagines Gershwin") in its entirety. Pretty cool, right? A Beach Boy on what may be his final tour, at the historic Surf Ballroom (the last place Buddy Holly, the Big Bopper and Ritchie Valens played before they died) in Clear Lake, Iowa, in the summer? Um, yeah, pretty awesome!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Nothing wrong with a little pop, now and then

There was a time when I thought "pop" was a bad word, music wise. Really. I just couldn't dig it. (Sure, the Beatles were pop in their day, but I was able to disregard that with the whole "they're classic rock now" notion.)

What was the use of FUN when there were serious things going on? Who needed music you could dance to? I mean, look, I was a teenage male. No girlfriend. Stuck in the middle class, with college (and college bills) looming. What was I going to be? What was I going to do? How was I going to pay for it all?

So I listened to Pink Floyd. Nothing speaks depression like a few tracks from "The Wall." And if I wanted something more current, I had a favorite that was always there for me: Weezer's "Pinkerton."

But you know something? I've grown up (kind of ... sorta), and my views and tastes have grown (not CHANGED, exactly ... because I still feel those things and still like Pink Floyd, but my views have expanded and so has my musical outlook).

Weezer grew, too. That seems to be a bit of a cardinal sin for some Weezer fanatics (a large chunk of the fandom can't tolerate anything after "Pinkerton," or hate everything after "The Green Album," or think the last few albums just suck ... can't make them all happy).

Luckily, for me, my stages of growth and maturity have fit well into Weezer's own, so I've been able to stay a committed fan every step of the way. Ask anyone who knows me well, and they'll tell you that I'm quite a Weezer booster. I'll no doubt review some of their albums at some point (and part of this entry may read like reviews of some), but for now I want to stay on this topic of pop and Weezer.

Sing it out ... no, really.

I came to My Chemical Romance fairly late. It was probably late 2006 or early 2007, and I was surfing the radio scanner to find something that sounded good / fun / interesting / SOMETHING. What came on was a song called "Teenagers." I loved it. It was like the Ramones, all pithy and pissy and fun. It grabbed my attention, and I started digging in.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

A death, a reunion, an album

When Freddie Mercury died in 1991, it seemed like Queen's new studio output was basically over. After all, how could you try to move on without a man who was not only a consummate performer and top-tier vocalist, but also was arguably the most important songwriter in the group?

Mercury's passing was undeniably tragic for the band and its fans. Succumbing to bronchopneumonia one day after acknowledging that he had AIDS, Mercury's powerful voice and dramatic musical flair was now silent.

Or so it seemed.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Warming up for the real thing ...

I've been writing album reviews for myself for a long time. I used to share them on various forums and through Facebook, but I never really got into the kind of depth I wanted. Nor did I do my reviews as often as I wanted, as I didn't want to spam others.

The logical conclusion was to start my own blog. So here it is, welcome to The Regular Record. Here, I'll regularly review different records. Some of those records might be singles, some might be whole albums. Heck, sometimes I might just get the itch to write about a particular song buried on a record. I'm crazy like that.

I'll try to give you some historical background on the material, some information on the artist and my impressions. While I'll definitely do my best to provide the proper facts, it's more my intent to share feelings about the material and (hopefully) get discussion going. I'd love to see a community develop here, but I sure won't harass people to make it happen.

In most cases, I'll also try to provide at least one video clip, so that you'll have a multimedia experience here. Hey, it's the Internet, that is the least I can do. Happy to provide those creature comforts!

So sit back, relax, give me a read if you have the time ... and don't be afraid to share your thoughts, feelings or insights!

Welcome to The Regular Record.

One of my big musical loves is The Beach Boys. At some point I'll get to reviewing "Pet Sounds." I figured that something from that album would give my blog a fitting start. So here's a YouTube video on the making of "Wouldn't It Be Nice," one of the great songs from that record.

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