Friday, November 29, 2013

Friday 80s Flashback for November 29, 2013

[Food, Family, and More Food (Redux)] -- Welcome to a very special Black Friday edition of the Friday 80s Flashback. Today, I am re-posting the 11/25/11 edition of the Flashback. Why am I reusing a previous Flashback? Why, so I can participate in Black Friday, of course! However, in my case, participation pretty much means sitting on the couch in my parents' living room while I watch college football and catch up on my reading. Now, I did plan to post a set of songs that snarked on today's focus on over-consumerism. Instead, I'll dwell on the holiday that just passed ... right after I offer up this meme GIF:

So, back to today's recycled playlist. Thanksgiving is a time to gather with loved ones for a communal meal, reflect on ones blessings, share our largesse, and then lapse into a food coma. Now, there aren't too many Thanksgiving-specific tunes from the 80s, so I had to be a little creative for this post and focus on the theme of Food and Family (and, of course, more food). If you have recovered from your food coma and you need a break from the insanity of Black Friday, then check out this week's selections after the break.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Friday 80s Flashback for November 22, 2013

Cover for album Power by Kansas (via Wikipedia).

[A State of 80s Prog Rock] -- In the mid to late 70s, nothing noteworthy seems to have happened in the state of Kansas (at least not according to Wikipedia). However, the band called Kansas did great things for the state of prog rock in particular and album-oriented rock in general. From 1974 through 1980, the band released seven studio albums, one live album, and 14 singles. The very first 45 I purchased with my own money was "Carry On Wayward Son" from Kansas' 1976 release, Leftoverture, and I still have it in my collection. Each Kansas album released in this period achieved at least gold status, with two of them going quadruple platinum. Their sound was big and (according to one critic) overdone. But fans ate up Kansas' style of blending elements of boogie, classical music riffs, and straight-ahead rock into long and (sometimes) overly complicated songs featuring that oh-so-rock 'n roll instrument, the violin. Kansas stalled a bit in the 80s, releasing two albums, disbanding, and then reviving for a third record (albeit with only three original members and no violin). With the exception of the 1982 release, Vinyl Confessions, there is very little Kansas music in the 80s that sounds like, well, the Kansas that had sparked a legion of loyal fans known as Wheatheads. Kansas is still touring these days, and I regret that I never got to see them with my father whom I credit for my love of their music. And while Kansas is in the midst of a 40th anniversary fan-appreciation tour, their violinist, Robby Steinhardt, is sadly unable to participate due to suffering a heart attack in August. Still, Kansas at 40 is closer to the Kansas of the 70s than that of their 80s incarnations. How far did they stray from such classics as "Point of Know Return" and "Dust in the Wind"? Read and hear more after the break.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Alan Moore: Magic and the Job of the Artist

Alan Moore on art (it's magic!) and artists (they're shamans!):

open quoteThere is some confusion as to what magic actually is. I think this can be cleared up if you just look at the very earliest descriptions of magic. Magic in its earliest form is often referred to as “the art”.  I believe this is completely literal.  I believe that magic is art and that art, whether it be writing, music, sculpture, or any other form is literally magic.  Art is, like magic, the science of manipulating symbols, words, or images, to achieve changes in consciousness.  The very language about magic seems to be talking as much about writing or art as it is about supernatural events.  A grimmoir for example, the book of spells is simply a fancy way of saying grammar.  Indeed, to cast a spell, is simply to spell, to manipulate words, to change people's consciousness.   And I believe that this is why an artist or writer is the closest thing in the contemporary world that you are likely to see to a Shaman. 
"I believe that all culture must have arisen from cult.  Originally, all of the faucets of our culture, whether they be in the arts or sciences were the province of the Shaman.  The fact that in present times, this magical power has degenerated to the level of cheap entertainment and manipulation, is, I think a tragedy.  At the moment the people who are using Shamanism and magic to shape our culture are advertisers.   Rather than try to wake people up, their Shamanism is used as an opiate to tranquilize people, to make people more manipulable.  Their magic box of television, and by their magic words, their jingles can cause everyone in the country to be thinking the same words and have the same banal thoughts all at exactly the same moment.  
"In all of magic there is an incredibly large linguistic component.  The Bardic tradition of magic would place a bard as being much higher and more fearsome than a magician.  A magician might curse you.  That might make your hands lay funny or you might have a child born with a club foot.  If a Bard were to place not a curse upon you, but a satire, then that could destroy you.  If it was a clever satire, it might not just destroy you in the eyes of your associates; it would destroy you in the eyes of your family.  It would destroy you in your own eyes.  And if it was a finely worded and clever satire that might survive and be remembered for decades, even centuries.  Then years after you were dead people still might be reading it and laughing at you and your wretchedness and your absurdity.
"Writers and people who had command of words were respected and feared as people who manipulated magic.  In latter times I think that artists and writers have allowed themselves to be sold down the river.  They have accepted the prevailing belief that art and writing are merely forms of entertainment.  They’re not seen as transformative forces that can change a human being; that can change a society.  They are seen as simple entertainment; things with which we can fill 20 minutes, half an hour, while we’re waiting to die.  It’s not the job of the artist to give the audience what the audience wants.  If the audience knew what they needed, then they wouldn’t be the audience.  They would be the artists.  It is the job of artists to give the audience what they need."

For more from the mind of Moore, check out Alan Moore: Storyteller (2013, Rizzoli Universe Promotional Books, ISBN 0789327112) by Millidge Gary Spencer (Author) , Michael Moorcock (Foreword)

Friday, November 15, 2013

Friday 80s Flashback for November 15, 2013

[Joe Jackson] -- Last week I provided a sneak peak into this week's Flashback by posting Joe Jackson's video for "Sunday Papers." Now, that song isn't part of this week's lineup, so you'll still get three tunes. No repeats this week. Anyway, Joe Jackson is a vocalist and multi-instrumentalist (piano, keyboards, organ, saxophone, harmonica, melodica, synthesizer, accordion, vibraphone, etc.) who has a recording career that spans from 1979 to the present. His more recent material focuses on pop/jazz/classical hybrids (check out his tribute to Duke Ellington). These recordings earn critical acclaim, but they have not reached the commercial success of his past efforts. His musical heyday was really from 1979 through 1991, during which he earned five Grammy Award nominations. I always liked him because of his voice and how he blended pop rock and New Wave (with a few jazzy trappings). Jackson's voice -- clear and distinctive with almost a jazzman's intonation -- could run the gamut from wispy to pleading to angry, but it never broke. It is difficult to pick just three tunes from the sixteen singles he released in the 80s. However, if you want to step out and learn what made this week's cut, you can read and hear more after the break.

Monday, November 11, 2013

My Veterans

For Veterans Day 2013, I am posting a photo collage I call My Veterans:

Clockwise from top: Paternal Grandfather,
Maternal Grandfather, and Father
My paternal and maternal grandfathers served during WWII (Navy and Army respectively). My father was in the Coast Guard during the latter half of the 60s. All three men returned home after their respective tours of duty. I am indebted to all veterans of the US Armed Services, a debt I cannot repay, but I am particularly impacted by the lives of these three men. 

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Friday 80s Flashback for November 8, 2013 (on a Saturday)

[Sneak Peak] -- I spent most of the past week prepping for a tech rehearsal and an all-day class. The rehearsal took up the entirety of my Friday, and the class was all of Saturday. Hence, I did not have time to write a proper Flashback post for you. I will, however, provide a sneak peak at next week's Friday 80s Flashback ... 

Flashback Video"Whatever moves beyond these walls | She'll know the facts when Sunday comes along."

Dedicated 80s-philes can find more flashbacks in the archives. As always, your comments are welcome on today's, or any other, flashback post. And if you like what I'm doing here, please share the link with your friends. If, however, you don't like the flashback, feel free to share it with your enemies.

And if you are on Twitter, and feel so inclined, please +K my influence in Music on @klout.

I'll see you in seven!

Friday, November 01, 2013

Friday 80s Flashback for November 1, 2013

Scary Jack O' Lantern (via

[Halloween 2013] -- So, last night was Halloween. That means it's time for my annual Halloween edition of the Friday 80s Flashback. Well, I'm claiming that three years in a row counts as annual: 20102011, and 2012 (although that last one was a repeat of the 2010 entry). Anyway, Previous entries tended to showcase songs that were stealthily Halloweenish (with a few over-the-top, obvious examples). This week, I make no claim as to the Halloween pedigree of these songs. However,  each one does have something frightening or sinister about it. Wondering what treats I have for you tricksters? Read and hear more after the break!

Chapel of Bones

For your post-Halloween, All Saints Day, and All Souls Day pleasure, here is a chapel constructed out of thousands of human bones...