Wednesday, October 29, 2014

National Cat Day 2014: High and Low Kittehs

Here are Milo and Otis doing their split-level napping (photo taken 10/21/14):

Milo (left) and Otis

I guess this is also sort of a three-dimensional Yin & Yang nap setup. 

Simon the Cat, 4/28/96 - 10/29/03

On this day in 2003, Simon the cat passed away unexpectedly. He was our first cat and he paved the way for making this house a cat home (we currently have two orange cats we adopted about a year later).

Here is the photo collage I posted in 2004 to mark the one year anniversary of his untimely death.

 

Thank you, Simon, for 7+ wonderful years: 4/28/96 - 10/29/03

We still love you and miss you.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Friday 80s Flashback for October 24, 2014



[Orchestral Manoeuvres in the US] -- Andy McCluskey and Paul Humphreys, who had known each other since primary school in Wirral, England, played together in various bands in the mid-70s. Out of the ashes of two of those bands -- the seven-piece ensemble known as The Id and the electronic quartet called Dalek I Love You -- they founded Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (OMD) in 1978. Initially a duo, OMD played live gigs with backup help from a Teac 4-track tape-recorder (named "Winston" after a character in Orwell's 1984). In February 1980, OMD released their self-titled debut album in the UK. This record was pretty much the work of the core duo and Winston, but it also included some drumming by Malcolm Holmes (from The Id) and a bit of saxophone from local (i.e., Wirral) musician Martin Cooper. After a tour supporting the debut, OMD went back into the studio and recorded their second album, Organisation, which was released in October 1980.

With two hits ("Electricity" from Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark and "Enola Gay" from Organisation), OMD's record label must have thought it was time to conquer the US. There was no truly new material for OMD's first eponymous US release. It is a morphing of the UK debut and the second LP. The five tracks from the debut are "Bunker Soldiers," "Almost," "Electricity," "Julia’s Song," and "Messages." Organisation contributed six songs: "Enola Gay," "2nd Thought," "Statues
The Misunderstanding," "Motion And Heart," and "Stanlow." So, which tracks made it into this week's playlist? Read and hear more after the break. 

Friday, October 17, 2014

Friday 80s Flashback for October 17, 2014



[Walk it Off] -- My mother likes nothing more than burning off some excess energy, stress, and calories by taking a brisk walk. This has been the case for as long as I can remember. I once made her a mix tape so she could have some upbeat tunes to accompany her. She liked it so much she uses it to this day (albeit the cassette has been replaced with an iPod Shuffle). Well, she fell and broke her leg two weeks ago. Earlier this week, she had surgery to set it properly (apparently, the fracture wasn't where the doc wanted it to be after a week in a full-leg cast). She comes home on Saturday, and she'll be alternating between a wheelchair and a walker for the next two or three months. So, in honor of her recuperation, I have posted a workout music 80s playlist I found on YouTube. You can check out the songs in this playlist after the break.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Friday 80s Flashback for October 10, 2014

Open Novel on Shelf (image via alegriphotos.com)

[Novel Ideas] -- I love music, and I love reading, so why not put the two together for a Friday 80s Flashback? This week, I'm bringing you a trio of tunes that are somehow related to a work of literature. The connection could be in a lyric, a title, or maybe just a bit of inspiration. You might be surprised just how many 80s artists were quite the literary connoisseurs. Well, maybe that is stretching the point, but a fair number of our fave performers looked to the written words of others to get ideas for their own works. Wondering if your favorite work of fiction is just a few degrees a way from a song in this week's playlist? Well, to find out, you can read and hear more after the break.

Saturday, October 04, 2014

Friday 80s Flashback for October 3, 2014 (On a Saturday)



[30 Years of Red Sails] -- On October 1, 1984, a mere 30 years ago this week, Midnight Oil released their fifth studio album, Red Sails in the Sunset.  It was the band's first #1 album in their native Australia, and it charted within the US Billboard 200. The album cover was a chilling "what if?" scenario, as in "What would Sydney Harbour look like after a nuclear strike?" Following on their previous efforts, the lyrical content of Red Sails focused on politics, consumer culture, expanding military, the auspices of nuclear war, and environmental threats. Two singles were released in the US -- "When the Generals Talk" and "Best of Both Worlds" -- but neither of them charted. Musically, there was enough polish (from increased studio wizardry) and the experimental rhythms and textures should have lured in new listeners, particularly from the college radio set. So, what kept the singles grounded? Perhaps it was lead singer Peter Garrett's judgmental tone. However, it was more likely Garrett's lurching and towering presence in the band's music videos. I recall thinking he was pretty cool, but I also recall my friend, Daniels, and I being on the receiving end of our classmates' scorn for liking "that Frankenstein dancing guy."  Anyway, Midnight Oil was about three years from breaking huge with Diesel and Dust. And when that album hit, fans finally started digging into Midnight Oil's back catalog to discover this gem. For a blow-by-blow appreciation of Red Sails in the Sunset, check out A Look Back At Midnight Oil's Landmark LP 'Red Sails In The Sunset'. You can also listen to a full playlist from the album on YouTube. And, of course, I've selected three tracks that you can check out after the jump.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Friday 80s Flashback for September 26, 2014 (On a Saturday)

The Who Face Dances (1981)

[Who Was That?] -- After four weeks with a fractured clavicle, I'm still in recovery mode, but I'm no longer typing impaired. So, I figured I would try posting a new flashback instead of mining my archives. But what to write about? What theme could I employ? Well, while I was musing on that very question on Friday morning, I saw a story that The Who were marking their 50th anniversary by releasing their first new song in eight years. Down to only two surviving members (Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend), The Who is set to embark on a 50th anniversary tour in November. The new song*, "Be Lucky," references Daft Punk and AC/DC. And it will close out the band's 50th anniversary compilation, The Who Hits 50! As some of the hits featured on the 2 CD set were released in the 80s, I figured this news was a perfect jumping off point for a Flashback post. The new song (royalties of which will be donated to Teen Cancer America, a US outgrowth of Daltrey’s successful UK charity, the Teenage Cancer Trust) is embedded below, and you can read and hear more about The Who in the 80s after the break.


The Who - Be Lucky by IvorTheEngineDriver

Friday, September 19, 2014

Friday 80s Flashback for September 19, 2014

High five image from the very empowering liketotally80s.com


[Uplifting 80s Tunes -- Redux] -- I'm mid-way through my fourth week with my left arm in a sling while I recover from a fractured clavicle. So, with my typing still impaired, I'm dipping into the archives again, this time to bring you a post from September, 2010. Now, that was the month I first started this venture known as the Friday 80s Flashback. And I must have been feeling rather inspired on 9/24/2010 because I offered two separate Flashback posts on the same day! This one, the Uplifting Edition, was the second of the two (there's a link to the first, angrier, post here as well). Why re-share the uplifting edition? Well, let's just say that I'm not the only one around here ("here" being very general) who could use a little pick-me-up. If you're in that same camp, I hope you get a boost from this rewind.

Note: Back in 2010, I was not posting an intro image or lyrics with Flashback posts. In this re-share, I have added both. That, and the above intro, are the only differences between this and the original blog entry which starts below. 
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From 9/24/2010: I already posted the Angry Edition this morning, but I wanted to end on a more positive note by providing a set of "uplifting" flashback songs. Fortunately, the 80s are rife with upbeat songs that speak to the power of potential. Read about them, and hear them, after the break!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Friday 80s Flashback for September 12, 2014



[The 'Mats are Back! -- Redux] -- I'm still in a sling for a fractured clavicle. So I'm dipping into the archives again, this time to bring you a post from June 2013. It's a neat little coincidence that this 2013 Flashback was inspired by The Replacements making news with a live performance. You see, the 'Mats kind of did it again this week (see Watch the Replacements Rock the House on Jimmy Fallon;  Slate.com 9/10/2014). Go ahead, check out that performance, then come back here for a rewind on my Replacements retrospective.

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From 6/14/2013: This week I heard some news that made me cautiously optimistic about the state of music: the surviving members of the Replacements will perform together on stage for the first time since July 4, 1991. For those who don't know -- or, perhaps, don't remember -- The Replacements formed in Minneapolis in the late 70s. According to drummer Chris Mars, the band's name reflected their sense of a secondary status: "Like maybe the main act doesn't show, and instead the crowd has to settle for an earful of us dirtbags" [Azerrad, Michael. Our Band Could Be Your Life. 2001. p. 199]. They were never commercially successful, but they did receive critical accolades and have been cited as a major influence for many bands.

The Replacements (or, simply, The 'Mats to their fans) are probably my favorite of what I call the "sloppy" American rock & roll bands. Their sound was informed by a combination of the arena blues-rock of their collective youth and the post-punk that was in vogue when they took up their own instruments. Now, they never achieved a high level of proficiency as musicians during their time together, but they did evolve from garden variety garage band to a genuinely tight if oft-times shabby outfit. Their songs touched upon the pains of growing up, hating your job, and relationship issues, and they did so in their own loud but tuneful manner. I've chosen three songs from their 12+ year career. I hope they are among the setlist for Riot Fest Chicago. Read and hear more after the break. And if you're interested, you can download a copy of the Replacements' last show in Philadelphia, played July 28, 1987.

Friday, September 05, 2014

Friday 80s Flashback for September 5, 2014



[Unused 80s Montage Playlist - Redux] -- I'm going to be in a sling for a few more weeks. So for this week's post, I'm dipping into the archives to bring you a post from a year ago. Strangely enough, I spent much of this week preparing the sound FX for a theater production, just one set in a different era. So none of the songs below are in my current show.

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From 9/6/2013: I spent much of this week's free time -- not that it's really "free" -- preparing a set of 80s music for the latest production at Montgomery Theater. It's for a scene in which one of the lead characters introduces a montage telling the story of getting together with her first boyfriend. First, she asks for some music to set the scene, but the song that plays is needed later, so she asks for something more upbeat. The second tune doesn't work for her either, so she requests a cheesy love song which is finally what she wants. Researching and assembling the options for this playlist left me with very little time to work on the Flashback. I don't even really haven't worked out a theme for this week. So how about I just share some of the tunes that won't be used in the show? OK? OK! Read and hear more after the break.