Friday, January 30, 2009

Keith Richards action figure

At Rhino Records, Claremont, California.

On Midnight Juggernauts

I am not educating myself.

When I bought Ladytron's "Witching Hour," I ended up educating myself about everything I could find about Ladytron. OK, to be fair, perhaps I was concentrating on Helen Marnie, but it still counts as interest in the band, doesn't it?

Meanwhile, I've been listening to Midnight Juggernauts endlessly. If you look at my scrobbling, you'd think that I'm listening to Midnight Juggernauts a good deal. However, doesn't record what I hear in my car, and if I'm not listening to Bill Handel or Petros & Money, chances are that I'm listening to Midnight Juggernauts. And I commute over two hours a day; that's a lot of Midnight Juggernauts.

So I figured I'd better find out about them, starting at their website. But it turns out that the biography focuses more on the Dystopia album than on the individual members:

Upon entering the studio to begin their Dystopia journey Vincent and Andy - the band’s original nucleus - made the decision to invite a third member into the fold. Daniel Stricker (drums/vox) accepted the challenge, and the band's live show has reaped the rewards. Now an even more dynamic and energetic experience.

The AMG biography, as reproduced at Starpulse, has more - or less - information.

Midnight Juggernauts are an electro-pop synth rock group from Melbourne, Australia. The founding members, in a nod to the Ramones, renamed themselves Vincent Juggernaut and Andy Juggernaut. The two met in high school and played straightforward guitar rock together before moving on to experiment with synthesizers and dance music.

Vincent was quoted in a May, 2008 interview in The New Gay:

We like being this weird mysterious creation out there, people don't know if were married or siblings. It made things more interesting. We like playing around with the band's image. There's a lot of strange mysteries about this band, like we don't even know what Midnight Juggernauts means. I probably shouldn't admit that.

But Vincent did talk about music:

[W]e all have some pretty diverse tastes. Like I've always been into stuff from the seventies and eighties, anything from Gorgio [Morodor] to Blondie to The B-52s, to Van Halen, to lots of other cheese which I probably shouldn't admit to. Andy the guitarist, he's really into old school metal like Slayer, and Daniel is into stuff like The Pixies....

I guess we like being able to play and experiment with the music we like. We love pop music as well, we love pop hooks and melody, but the widest scope you can play with is that prog land, it's fun being able to go off on different tangents here and there. Who knows? The next album could be some really self-indulgent orchestral prog-rock masterpiece.

As for the current album:

We liked the idea of having an album which had this dark mood to it, and the title was a dark feeling which we thought suited the album. Even though it has pop elements and it's optimistic, we like playing with light and shade throughout. So it's like these pop songs, but there's this darkness and melancholy progression which we like playing with.

See the entire interview here.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Kent Newsome on the Golden Era of Online Music

Back on January 15, Kent Newsome wrote a post on what he called "the golden era in online music." Obviously he grabbed me from the beginning of his second paragraph:

Let's reminisce a moment about the good old days, from around 1997 through the early part of this century. Back when MP3.Com was a legitimate music hub, with hundreds of new, unsigned and independent musicians and bands bringing their music directly to the eager public for the first time.

Now of course, some will argue that songs such as "Taco Taco Taco" and "Non Sequitur 15" simply proved that a vacuum will fill itself with dirt. But Kent found songs that he liked, I found songs that I liked (such as "Taco Taco Taco"), and people were happy.

Kent continues the story to the next stage:

Metallica, Dr. Dre and the cat-chasing, empty bag-holding record labels ganged up on Napster like a horde of peasants outside Frankenstein's castle and destroyed the technology they feared. MP3.Com, in a move that foretold the future, started letting users register (not upload) their CDs and access them anywhere, leading the increasingly panicked horde to its castle door. Before long, the record labels were suing grandmothers for allegedly sharing music they'd never heard of, while the guerilla sharers moved from one lesser substitute to another.

The golden age was over.

Eventually the industry reached an accommodation of sorts with the public, but for Kent it isn't the same.

At the end of the day, Amazon, CD Baby and, maybe, iTunes will become acceptable substitutes for the direct distribution of music. But the experience is not as fun as it used to be and, sadly, there is not as much unsigned and independent music to be discovered there. I like Amazon MP3 downloads. I loved those MP3.Com downloads.

But are Newsome and myself just old horse-and-buggy fogeys complaining that them dang whippersnapper youth won't get off our lawns? Perhaps. While I was searching for information about the old, I ran across a couple of currently-active independent musician sites.

Hadn't heard much about them lately, but they're still kicking. Certainly one of the co-producers of "A Lawyer Walks Into a Bar" had kept tabs on them.

I had never heard of this site, but PandaDeClaire obviously has.

And a recent Sacramento Bee article mentions both of these sites, plus So it appears that the music is out there...

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Take this cover off of me, I can't sing it any more

On Tuesday, I posted a blog entry that listed four songs:
  • "Free Bird" by Lynyrd Skynyrd

  • Stairway To Heaven" by Led Zeppelin

  • "Hotel California" by the Eagles

  • "Bohemian Rhapsody" by Queen
Depending upon various factors, just the mere mention of these four songs has either caused you to raise a lighted lighter in sheer bliss, or cover your ears in sheer agony.

But my list was, in the words of the Backstreet Boys, incomplete. In a comment, Mark Trapp added two more songs to the list:
  • "Sister Christian" by Night Ranger

  • "Knockin' on Heaven's Door," the Guns N' Roses cover
For whatever reason, I pretty much missed the whole Night Ranger thingie, but the cover version that Mark mentioned intrigued me. Cover versions are always interesting, and in some cases even improve on the original (Johnny Cash's "Hurt" comes to mind). But it's interesting that Trapp referred to the Guns N' Roses cover, rather than to the Dylan original, since they're very different versions of the same song.

In my younger years, I became familiar with Dylan's version. Wikipedia describes its origins:

"Knockin' on Heaven's Door" was written for the Western "Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid". The song describes the feelings and impressions of a dying deputy, who notices that it is getting dark around him as he is knocking on heaven's door. He realizes that he will never use his badge or his guns anymore.

Dylan's take on the song is not on, but you can find it on Imeem and YouTube. "Understated" is probably the best way to describe the song, at least in its initial recorded version. Dylan had already rocked Newport and gone through several of his myriad changes, but for this song Dylan, his band, and his backup singers tread lightly on this song of a dying man. After two verses and two choruses, it suddenly fades away after about two and a half minutes. Understated indeed.

The word "understated" could probably never be applied to Guns N'Roses. Even their soft hit, "Patience," had a rocking coda. So you could probably predict that Axl, Slash, and the boys wouldn't do a short and sweet version. And your prediction would be correct, as you can confirm on Imeem and YouTube.

In a Cover vs. Original vote, opinion was sharply divided but Bob came out on top.

Perhaps it's instructive to go back to Trapp's comment at this point:

These songs are all related: they all combine themes of individual rebellion and coming of age on a powerful backdrop of music.

If that's the yardstick that you're using, then it's obvious that the Guns N' Roses version fits the model better than Dylan's aching song of loss.

P.S. I have never heard Eric Clapton's version. I should listen to it at some point.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

How 'bout you? (Let's celebrate individuality together with "Free Bird")

Before continuing to read this post, please cue up this video.

For those of you reading this via RSS, the cited video is a live performance of a little ditty by Lynyrd Skynyrd that you know by the name of "Free Bird." A lot has been written about this song, but I prefer to quote from Emily Bohannon:

It wasn't until I was 14, however, that I heard the song for the first time. I mean HEARD it, not just listened to it. I was on a Greyhound bus riding through Louisiana, and watching the swamps fly past. I felt for the first time that I was bigger than my hometown, and that one day I would be on my own.

In high school, my standard method of breaking up was to play "Free Bird" — sweetly I would laugh on the ride home, I would smile and suggest the song, I would step out of the car and say goodbye. The boy would never know why I didn't return his calls.

Ironically, this individual anthem has been adopted by EVERYBODY. In the same way that Steve Martin used to get his audiences to shout, in unison, "I am unique!" - and in the same way that David Byrne, in the song "Electric Guitar," documented government unison control of the instrument (heh) of revolution - it turns out that EVERYBODY is shouting for EVERYONE to play "Free Bird."

Back to Emily:

And in college, I learned that "Free Bird" was also the cry of drunk rednecks on a Saturday night. I've seen bands both play the song and ignore the calls (and I have been IN a band who chose to heed the call).

And several bands have heeded the call. Even if you restrict the call to known bands (rather than bar bands), BMI documents that "Free Bird" has not only been performed by Lynyrd Skynyrd, but also by Gypsy Tribe, Molly Hatchet, and Wynonna. Wikipedia lists additional cover versions, including Dread Zeppelin, Will to Power, Dream Theater, Rodrigo y Gabriela, Phish, the Orb, and countless other musical artists.

All of them asserting their individuality.

For decades I've had a vision, partially influenced by Byrne and Martin, of one million Chinese young men, all standing on the Great Wall, and all playing the opening solo to "Free Bird."

All in perfect unison.

Has "Free Bird" become a cliche? There's been a great debate about it. Mack Rawden:

Sure, it's become astoundingly cliche for a bunch of douche bags to scream "Free Bird" at rock concerts, sporting events, and funerals, but I don't understand how that has any baring on the song itself.

Michael Fraiman:

I think every youth, as a rite of passage, must listen to “Free Bird”, be amazed, then get bored with it because it’s not the type of song you can listen to more than five times a year.

But if you get tired of "Free Bird," you can always listen to another song. In fact, Songfacts has some suggestions:

People who dig this song also like "Stairway To Heaven" "Hotel California" and "Bohemian Rhapsody"

Now I will admit to listening to songs over and over again at times - for example, Midnight Juggernauts' "Tombstone" and Basshunter's "We Are The Waccos." But, strangely enough, I haven't played "Free Bird," "Stairway," "Hotel California," or "Bohemian Rhapsody" over and over on my computer lately.

Probably because I heard them over and over back when I was growing up in the 1970s.

Friday, January 23, 2009

I guess you can say Jermaine Dupri jumped, jumped

I took a day off of work on Thursday, and ended up hearing Kris Kross' "Jump" on my feed. After sharing this information, I ended up reading the Wikipedia article about the group.

Kris Kross, consisted of Atlanta natives: Chris "Mac Daddy" Kelly (born August 11, 1978), and Chris "Daddy Mac" Smith (born January 10, 1979). Childhood friends, Kelly and Smith were discovered in 1991, at the age of twelve, by Jermaine Dupri at an Atlanta shopping mall....

As of 2007, the group has reunited, currently working on different projects and still works for Jermaine Dupri.

Well, unbeknownst to me, Dupri had another job, as President of Island Records' Urban Music Division.

Notice that I said "had." By the time I was reminiscing about Daddy Mac and Mac Daddy, Dupri was out of a job.

(Jan. 9) - Jermaine Dupri was unceremoniously let go from Universal Music on Thursday. Dupri, who served as president of Island Records Urban Music division, basically collected a paycheck but didn't show up to work for several months.

Now we see what's wrong with the record industry. In my case, if I were head of a division and I didn't show up to work for a couple of weeks, I'd be out on the street. Dupri plays hooky for several MONTHS and collects a paycheck the whole time.

I guess they figured that RIAA lawsuits would bring in enough income to cover Dupri's salary.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Nothing is real, and nothing to get strung about (Inauguration Memorex moment)

OK, I've lost all confidence in humanity now.

Before Dick Clark, you could always count on the fact that when you saw people singing and playing instruments, they were actually singing and playing instruments. But since "American Bandstand," it seems like more often than not pop musicians weren't really performing. A few classic examples include Michael Jackson "singing" the song "Billie Jean" at Motown 25, Ashlee Simpson's famous appearance on Saturday Night Live, and most if not all public performances by Milli Vanilli.

But that, of course, was the dirty world of pop music, which isn't real music. Real musicians don't result to such trickery.

Well, sometimes they do. One of my pet peeves in church is when a choir sings to pre-recorded music. But hey, I figure, they're volunteers and not professionals. Obviously profesionals would always play live, but you can't expect volunteers to do so. I should be thankful that we do have professionals who do play live.

This is what I believed when I settled down today, two days late, to watch the Obama inauguration. I was at work that morning - in fact, I was in a conference call at 9:00 and missed the oath of office and Obama's speech. But I did hear Yo-Yo Ma and the rest of the string quartet, noting at the time that "Lord of the Dance" is not a song to be playing at a political event (where politicians are notorious for dancing around the facts).

So I didn't actually see the inauguration until today. And when I saw Yo-Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman, Gabriella Montero, and Anthony McGill, a thought struck me that didn't occur to me when I listened to the quartet over Internet radio a couple of days ago:

It just hit me - Yo Yo Ma and the rest were playing outside! Very tough.

I played flute outside in conditions near freezing, but I wore gloves, a jacket, and a hat.

A few hours later, I was browsing through FriendFeed and discovered that I was watching an illusion - or an inconvenient truth:

Whether you loved or hated the classical music played at President Barack Obama's inauguration, unless you were sitting within earshot of the celebrated quartet, what you heard was a recording made two days earlier.

Cellist Yo-Yo Ma, violinist Itzhak Perlman, pianist Gabriella Montero and clarinetist Anthony McGill made the decision a day before Tuesday's inauguration after a sound check to use a previously recorded audio tape for the broadcast of the ceremonies.

Carole Florman, a spokeswoman for the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, said the weather was too cold for the instruments to stay in tune.

"They were very insistent on playing live until it became clear that it would be too cold," said Florman in a telephone interview Thursday night.

Oh well. When you can't count on some of the most accomplished classical musicians in the world to play live, who can you trust?

Elavi makes videos too


Elavi (Dowie), the musician who was convicted in Manchester for selling his CDs on the street, also has a YouTube channel. Here's his video for "Bombs.".

Elavi Dowie and his problems with music distribution

On FriendFeed, Kol Tregaskes shared an article from the Telegraph about the conviction and fining (£330) of Elavi Dowie for the heinous crime of street trading.

You see, back in the 19th century, the city of Manchester passed a law that prohibited someone from trading on Market Street for more than 20 minutes. Dowie, a musician who sells his CDs for £1, was convicted of twice breaking this 19th century law, once by trading for 35 minutes, and once by trading for hours.

How was he caught? Closed-circuit television. And as for the wonders of CCTV, just ask the Inquisitr's Steven Hodson:

England has for the longest time been held up as the beacon of police action through CCTV even though more than one study has proven the benefits to be doubtful. In a move to make England the most watched over society they have spent over £500 million in the last decade but that may all be for naught since they can’t find the money to man the watch stations.

Apprently Manchester still has the money; they reportedly spent £3,000 to rid the streets of Manchester of the terrible menace that is Elavi Dowie.

But you don't have to find Elavi on the street to buy his music. You can visit his website, His music is not on, but you can hear his songs on his MySpace page.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Microsoft Songsmith and the future of music

Over the last few days, Microsoft Research's promotional video for SongSmith has been almost-universally panned. Take this example from Videogum (h/t edythe):

...this REAL commercial for Microsoft's new Songsmith software (you sing at it and it creates horrible musak to accompany you) is completely insane. Not only is it apparently earnest and not a parody, self- or otherwise, it seems like it comes from a bizarro parallel universe where irony was never discovered.

Unfortunately, the video (which didn't realize demonstrate how Songsmith actually works) helped to result in some negative reaction for the real capabilities of SongSmith.

This thing sucks. Is this supposed to be the answer to Garage Band?
I know it's not quite like GarageBand, you sing into it and it plays along, but the sounds on this thing suck (at least from that Video, which is probably the best they have).

I wonder what the reaction would have been if, instead of producing that cheesy video, Microsoft would have instead gotten someone up and had them share the thought behind the research project:

SongSmith is a Microsoft research project designed to narrow down, as much as possible, the gap between writing songs and writing music. Developed by Dan Morris and Sumit Basu, primary researchers at Microsoft Research, SongSmith is now available both as a trial version for free and for purchase through the Microsoft Store, for just $29.95. The solution is capable of building the complete musical accompaniment around a song “performed” for SongSmith, based only on the voice of the users. According to Microsoft, the project is aimed at musical novices and aspiring songwriters, as professionals will undoubtedly already posses the skills that SongSmith is designed to compensate for.

“Sumit and I are hobbyist musicians, and although neither of us is going to write the next hit single, we both have fun working on new songs,” Morris explained. “We saw an opportunity to use our backgrounds in computer science to give everyone a first taste of songwriting and to let everyone have fun making original music.”

Basu was quoted on the implications of the software:

"I remember my sister and I being in the car. I would be singing something, and my parents would say, ‘What song is that?’ My sister would say, ‘Sumit is just making it up,’ and they’d say, ‘Well, you should sing a song that actually exists.’ Before we learn that we’re not supposed to create music or we’re not able to do that, it’s something that exists in our hearts.

"It’s not very pleasant to listen to someone sing in isolation, though. Having a backing track that fits with what they’re trying to sing makes for a better overall experience. That is going to be our biggest contribution, that empowerment to let people go from having a musical idea or thought or melody to something they’d actually want to show other people."

And, once they got over the promotional video, people have been experimenting with SongSmith, most notably by taking lead vocal tracks from popular songs, running them through SongSmith, and seeing what happens.

So far my favorite Songsmith-processed song is "Wonderwall" by Oasis. Basically, in this and other instances, the lead vocals are taken from a popular song and run through Songsmith, just to see what happens.

Of course, this is just version 1.0 of the product. (Or, since it's research, version 0.99.) What happens when Microsoft gets to version 3 of this product? What are the implications for the creation of music?

Monday, January 19, 2009

Running knows and the Amsterdam mambo

(Note: for personal reasons, I have delayed the publication of this post to today.)

Fifteen years ago, there was a woman named Barbara Tucker who went into the studio to record vocals for a track called "Beautiful People." Discogs commenter ledjfab tells us what happened next:

When Louie Vega, member of the Masters At Work, recorded the vocals of Barbara Tucker for this track, he was stunned by a line that could be repeated as a loop: "Deep, deep inside. Deep, deep, down outside". He then decided to retard the parution of "Beautiful People" to be able to publish "Deep Inside" (as "Hardrive") which instantly became a popular anthem in clubs all over the world. A few months later, "Beautiful People" was received the same way by the crowds, with the "Deep Inside" sample included in the middle of the track (at least in the popular "Underground Network Mix").

Unfortunately, neither track is available on, but they are both available on YouTube.

Here's Tucker (listen beginning 3:05 into this mix - actually, listen to the whole thing):

And here's Hardrive:

Unfortunately, if you've ever read the book Scuse Me While I Kiss This Guy, you know that lyrics can sometimes be misheard. (Time for a sponsored affiliate link.)

Anyway, I don't recall either of these particular songs in that book, but there certainly is a potential for a misheard lyric in there.

Listening to this Dance music station based in Amsterdam; the lyrics sound like 'deep deep in snot".

P.S. Apparently Louie Vega and Lou Bega are two different people, so don't expect a mambo song with the line "A little bit of snot-face in my life."

P.P.S. The title of this post is taken from the final aria of P.D.Q. Bach's "Iphegenia in Brooklyn." Of course, that pales in comparison to the lyrical and musical brilliance of the ground...

Friday, January 16, 2009

Robert Smith meets Mike Jones in France

So, what caused me to unintentionally break my 36-hour "vow of semi-silence"? A mashup.

Let's look at the components, even though I already looked at the first component back in December 2006. Twice. I present the video for "A Forest" by the Cure.

Sorry, but embedding of this video has now been disabled. Follow the link and watch it if you've never seen it.

Many years later, unbeknownst to me, a rapper named Mike Jones released a song.

The song was part of Jones' "The American Dream" EP. Matt Barone was not impressed:

Sophomore discs are always dangerous ground, even more so for those with questionable talent. The public will either foolishly fall for the gimmick once again or demand some sort of artistic development. Therein lies Jones’ dilemma. With his smoke-and-mirrors act barely cutting it this time, he better be careful before people wake up from this American dream asking, who was Mike Jones?

Barone had kind words for one of the lyrics in the song "Turning Headz":

Mike Jones does, however, know how to pick beats. The instrumentals here are mostly top-shelf, with Salih, one-half of H-Town production duo Carnival Beats, stealing the show....Salih’s left-field beat work continues on “Turning Headz,” where amped-up synthesizers aid MJ’s humorous wit (“They used to laugh at my belly, now they wanna rubbbb/On my belly every Sunday to get in my clubbbb”).

That line, of course, also appears on "Mr. Jones." According to Wikipedia, the latter song was produced by Myke Diesel.

Apparently the latter song was heard in France.

Dimanche 1 avril 2007
Mr Jones in a Forest
instru : The Cure - A Forest
acapella : Mike Jones - Mr Jones
Mr Jones in a Forest

This post by ComaR, self-described "Bootlegger - Dj - Party promoter," includes a link to an mp3 file of the mashup.

Eventually this song and others made their way to, where I heard it on the afternoon of November 24. My comment at the time:

I'm seeking mashups. Not familiar with "Mr. Jones."

Well, now I am.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The test (Eddie Murphy, "My God is Color Blind")

tone blind | morning after | the test

Normally my blogging activity doesn't get mixed up with my work activity, but considering the outstanding nature of this song, I made an exception.

I resolved that when a couple of my co-workers arrived at work this morning, I would play the song (hiding the cover of the YouTube video) and ask the people, "Do you know who is singing this song?"

(I chickened out on asking the question "What do you think of the song?" But see below.)

The first co-worker that was subjected to my quiz was a young adult at the time the album "How Could It Be" was released. The co-worker didn't have a clue who was singing it, although afterwards the co-worker certainly recalled "Party All The Time." In fact, the co-worker even recalled a second album by Murphy, something that I wasn't even aware of until I read the New York Sun article.

Actually, Wikipedia claims that Love's Alright was Murphy's "third musical (and fifth overall and last album)." (Well, presumably Shrek had soundtracks, and Dreamgirls certainly did, but hey, that's Wikipedia.) So what was the second? So Happy, on which Murphy worked with Nile Rodgers. (The man knew how to pick musical associates.)

Back to my test. The second co-worker who was subjected to the test was very young at the time Murphy's first musical album was released. As with the first co-worker, as the song played I noted that the person singing the song was not known for singing. The co-worker replied, "Obviously."

The co-worker continued to listen to the song and began wondering if a comedian were singing. When the first co-worker and I indicated that the second co-worker was on the right track, the second co-worker correctly guessed that Eddie Murphy was the singer. I guess in hindsight it's obvious, once you buy the fact that Murphy would sing in a falsetto.

By the way, I have slipped into my accustomed practice of playing a song to death. Specifically, I have been playing "My God is Color Blind" all morning, over and over. And yes, I'm wearing headphones - I like my co-workers.

The morning after (Eddie Murphy, "My God is Color Blind")

tone blind | morning after | the test

There's got to be a morning after, or so they say.

You'll recall that last night I wrote a post about the Eddie Murphy song "My God is Color Blind", and about how I appear to be one of the few people who like the song.

I subsequently discovered that the song, in addition to being available on YouTube, is also available on imeem.

And I found another fan:

Bethany Lewis
Mar 26th, 7:53am

There's only a few of us, but we're out there.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Your blogger is tone blind (Eddie Murphy, "My God is Color Blind")

tone blind | morning after | the test

What is it with me and unpopular albums?

Two of my favorite albums are Devo's "Total Devo" and Depeche Mode's "Exciter" - two albums that are pretty much disregarded by fans of those two bands.

It was Wednesday night (I guess that makes it alright) when I found that Steven Perez shared a video on FriendFeed. The video involved Prince's competitor Rick James, and a singer named Eddie Murphy. You remember the song.

Well, Murphy didn't just release a song. He released an entire music album.

And, back in the day, I owned the album, "How Could It Be." And I didn't regret buying it, primarily because I remembered that one of the slow songs on the album was, in my opinion, outstanding.

So I went to to see if I could figure out which song on the album was the one I liked. However, as of January 14, the only song that had was you-know-what.

But looking at the titles, I began wondering if "My God Is Color Blind" is the song I was looking for. And I found the song (or at least its audio) on YouTube.

As is my wont, I began playing the YouTube video over and over, just to listen to the song. In the meantime, I searched for reviews of the song to see how many reviewers agreed with me about the outstanding nature of this soft Murphy song - one which, in my view, is more suited for his voice than you-know-what.

I started with Wilson & Alroy's Record Reviews. If you're not familiar with, they have very high standards, so I wasn't surprised that Wilson wasn't all that hot on this song:

Not content with being the hottest comedian around, Murphy called on his music superstar friends to help him put together a solo album. The results aren't too bad: Murphy has a likeable if unexceptional falsetto; Rick James' light funk "Party All The Time" was a major hit single....The problems start when Murphy gets involved in the songwriting and production: "How Could It Be" and "My God Is Color Blind" are sappy ballads that reveal the limits of his voice and the shallowness of his musical imagination.

OK, so they're somewhat critical, but I'm sure that other people loved the song as much as I, or at least liked it.

Several sites, including Yahoo, cited a review by Jason Elias.

In 1985, movie star and influential live comedian Eddie Murphy took a risk and released a serious, all-music effort. Despite his best intentions, How Could It Be is often marred by its lack of great material, and Murphy's voice is thin and often lacking control...."Party All the Time," written and produced by Rick James, has Murphy simply along for the ride, benefiting from one of James' best synth-based hooks. Some of the other songs aren't so successful. The well-meaning, vaguely Beatlesque pop of "My God Is Colorblind" and the jazzy and pensive "I Wish I Could Tell You When" essentially fail due to the vocals.


By the time I got to a New York Sun article, I wasn't holding out much hope.

Matinee idols have a lot of time and money on their hands, and probably know plenty of guys who would agree to play in a band with them if they asked. Bruce Willis, Russell Crowe, Steven Seagal, and others (the Blues Brothers don't count) have puttered around with rock bands....

Eddie Murphy almost made it stick with his indelible 1985 hit, "Party All the Time" ("My God Is Color Blind" and "Put Your Mouth on Me" didn't fare as well), but that was because the Superfreak, Rick James, wrote it. By the time Mr. Murphy released "Love's Alright" in 1993, it had sufficiently not stuck.

The common theme in the reviews above is that the reviewer liked "Party," liked some of the other songs on the album (individual reviewer likes varied), and hated "Color Blind." But that trend was broken at Bullzeye, who hated the whole album.

“Party All the Time,” Eddie Murphy (How Could It Be)

I have come to the conclusion that the only reason this song became a hit was that Murphy was so shit-hot at the time that nothing he could do would be dismissed by his fans. Wow, how times have changed. Personally, I never liked this song then, and I think it still stinks now. You could basically just throw the entire album on here as an entry, but we won’t give it that much thought, apart from the fact that it included such turds as “C-O-N Confused” and “My God is Color Blind.” Yeah, Eddie. You tell ‘em.

So I came to the sad conclusion that I am the only person in the world that likes this song.

Then I read the reviews at the YouTube page. Not all were glowing, but a few of them were:


Thank you!Thank You!!!! I use to love this song...I was trying to find it to have my husband listen to it and couldn't find it ANYWHERE!!!! So thank you!!!!!!


Man.. I so LOVE this song!
I have this album from WAAY and I LOVED it!
I dont have a turntable anymore.
I havent heard this since the 80's!


OMG I haven't heard that song in so long... I can't find that cd ANYWHERE. Thanks for adding it!

But I bet that TAZLOWE, skynatyc, and chubbies145 think that Depeche Mode's "Comatose" and Devo's "Agitated" blow. So I can't win them all.

[1/15 7:45 - THE MORNING AFTER.]

Monday, January 12, 2009

If this CD player were scrobbling... "ontarioemperor" account would show repeated plays of Midnight Juggernauts' "Into the Galaxy."

(I do this when I get new CDs. It will pass.)

To me, the verses sound Bowie-ish. (I could see David singing "G-l-o-r-i-a.") But my wife walked into the room and asked if I were listening to Cheap Trick.

I'll play "Tombstone" for her later.

Please keep to the padded cell

safety | studio | scared

When I heard about the National Safety Council's call to ban all cellular phone use in cars, I was immediately reminded of a Paul McCartney song.

Now bear in mind that I like Paul McCartney, think he's one of the greatest musicians of all time. And I'm probably one of the few people who loves his album McCartney II. But, let's face it, if you look at the lyrics of that album, McCartney is one sick puppy.

If you don't know which song I'm talking about, it's "Waterfalls." I've talked about it before in this blog (August 2008), in mrontemp (November 2007), and even in the Ontario Empoblog (November 2003). The song has lyrics that a National Safety Council lobbyist would love. Here are some of the verses (you'll recall that the chorus goes "And I need love" - I'm sure the National Safety Council has some warning about THAT):

Don't go jumping waterfalls,
Please, keep to the lake.
People who jump waterfalls,
Sometimes can make mistakes...

Don't go chasing polar bears
In the great unknown.
Some big friendly polar bear,
Might want to take you home...

Don't run after motor cars,
Please, stay on the side.
Someone's glossy motor car
Might take you for a ride.

After listening to this song, you get the feeling that Paul would prefer that Linda (who was still alive) remain in a padded cell, safe from any harm from anyone.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

FYE = Found? You're Excellent!

They DID have Midnight Juggernauts' "Dystopia."

As the clerk noted, 50-50 is good...

FYE = Find Yours Elsewhere

"Melody A.M." is out of stock.

"Dystopia" may be here, though.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Are we human or are we dancer? Beats me.

I had to drive my daughter to theatre tonight, and as is usual, she took command of the radio when we got in the car. First we heard the Red Hot Chili Peppers singing about California - yes, I know they sing about California a lot, and they're good at it.

Next KROQ played another song...a song that mystified me so much that I had to tweet after my daughter left the car (no, I broke no California laws - have the Red Hot Chili Peppers sang about that?). Anyway, I tweeted:

my daughter had control of radio. now i wonder "are we human or are we dancer." ?

I was mobile at the time, so I was performing fftogo (FriendFeed) and mobile Google (Google) searches to figure out what the heck was going on. And it turns out that back on November 30, Helen Sventitsky (check out her music) was wondering the same thing:

“Are we human, or are we dancer...yeah, I can't figure that one out, either”

I finally figured out that the song was "Human" by the Killers. No, not the Jam/Lewis one. The lyrics for this one are here. And the imponderable chorus is as follows:

Are we human, or are we dancer
My sign is vital, my hands are cold
And I'm on my knees looking for the answer
Are we human, or are we dancer

I figured that it was some type of deterministic stuff like Martin Gore was thinking about at the time of Ultra. But, in searching for the song meaning, I discovered a site I hadn't heard of before - Ooh, and it makes rbreeze wonder:

vital signs and hands are cold are obviously references to death or being near death, and asking yourself a question about your being. in this case a little strange, are we humon or are we dancer? im not sure what they mean by dancer, perhaps like above, being a puppet... or maybe dancer, like a dancer, just being free to move your body?

personally i think the killers are asking us to look at our attitudes to life and how we live it.

the line "There is no message we're receiving" is a reference to pink floyd - comfortably numb? maybe thats a clue to the lyrical message in the song?

But if you're non-trendy like me and haven't heard of the song until now AJ Batac linked to the video. But, in that famous YouTube phrase, "embedding disabled by request." But the video is open captioned.

And the track is on too.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Blue Monday, World in Motion, Perfect Kiss, and semi-forgotten Newsweek press coverage

Back on December 30, I ended up sharing (among several other things) a New Order live performance of "Blue Monday" in a BBC studio.

This, as well as this post in Private Displays of Public Affection, got me to thinking about the first time that I ever heard of New Order.

Back in Reed College, I subscribed to Newsweek as a form of rebellion against my parents (who subscribed to TIME). I believe that it was Newsweek that had an article on "the new music" that mentioned Human League and New Order (and, if my memory serves me correctly, Boy George and Annie Lennox as the new music poster children). Unfortunately, I can't confirm this because Newsweek, unlike TIME, apparently does not maintain an online archive.

The article spent more time talking about the Human League ("Dare" was already out), but it did include a little blurb about this other band called New Order that was doing more adventurous things in electronic music. This would have been around the time of "Movement," but before "Power, Corruption, and Lies" and you-know-what, so Newsweek obviously didn't talk about dance music at all.

I tried to see if I could find any other early New Order press coverage online, but failed to find any. If you know of any, please leave links in the comments.

So here is the BBC performance that I referenced:

P.S. Among the forums in New Order Online is one called World in Motion. And no, it's not about earthquakes. It's about "the beautiful game." You know why.

P.P.S. I had three songs pop into my head this morning, one of which was the New Order song "Perfect Kiss." Here goes.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Santa's elves couldn't fulfill my order

Back on Saturday, November 22, 2008, while some people were thinking of a sad anniversary, I was thinking about getting stuff.

Specifically, I was assembling a Christmas list, and I even blogged about it. You'll recall that I was going to place two CDs on my Christmas list: Dystopia by Midnight Juggernauts, and Melody A.M. by Röyksopp.

As I thought about my Christmas list a little bit more, I realized that it might be difficult for people to find those particular CDs. While I'd be willing to bet that a large number of users are comfortable with ordering music online (some of them probably don't even order CDs any more, but I am not trendy), the people who would be shopping for me tend to be more comfortable in traditional retail music establishments. (That is, when you can find them.)

So I came up with a wonderful idea - why not add a CD to the list that was actually popular among the general public? So (especially considering the day) it probably comes as no surprise that I added the CD Dare by Human League.

Now that Christmas (and my birthday) have both passed, I can now officially announce that, while I received a number of wonderful presents (including my Gold Toe socks), I did not get any CDs.

Why? Because the people who were shopping for me were unable to location them at any brick-or-mortar store. Even the one that I thought would be easy to locate, "Dare," simply can't be found in your average Barnes & Noble. Which Barnes & Noble shopper is going to go to the music area and look for a CD that includes music released over a quarter century ago?

Take a look at the Record/CD Stores for the DJ list, which has a serious gap:

This list is mostly from 2003, with some updates in 2007. Due to the paradigm shift in the music sales model many of the brick-and-mortar stores have closed.

But back in September 2007, The Finest Kiss noted an exception:

This summer the Seattle Weekly has had a couple of profiles of the owners of both Easy Street Records and Sonic Boom Records....I wonder how it can be that the music industry is in such peril and the demise of the cd is just around the corner. Something doesn’t add up. Or maybe it does, it seems like the mall stores, Tower included, are dying off one by one because they relied on people buying major label fodder at inflated prices. The smaller indie stores have a broader customer base, servicing lots of little musical niches, and sell cd’s for a whole lot less.

For the record, both stores still exist. Of course, there's a bit of a distance between Ontario and Seattle.

Maybe it's time for me to pay a visit to Claremont's Rhino Records again. Although I can't imagine my father-in-law going in to the place.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

When Alan joined the band

"La Nouvelle Mode."

Actually taken on Disneyland's Main Street.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Some Inland Empire Music Blogs (from the same person)

I was perusing my Empoprises Disqus comments and ran across this one from DJ City Wide:

Cool post. We are going to link your blog to our Goodfellas Twitter and Tell people on our myspace page.

No links to either, but there was a link to the DJ City Wide Blog, which includes posts such as an announcement of a December 12, 2008 Metallica after-party at Goodfellas in Rancho Cucamonga.

But this blog also announced a separate blog:

Can of Dj is blog from my cell phone"
They are pressed as they come.
1 to 3 times a day at times.
This is more rapid then my Dj City Wide Blog.
Feel free to subscribe to this also.
Thanks for reading.

As someone who engages in mobile blogging, I can attest that it's often easier to blog in a mobile fashion, although it's hard to include detailed content (but easy to include pictures).

Both blogs are authored by a man named Gabriel, a/k/a "Crazy Gabe." He has a MySpace account, which has its own blog. The guy obviously likes to write, and in fact provided this biography at MySpace:

Gabriel grew up in the roughest cities east of Los Angeles,California. Gabriel was fortunate to grow up Chicano with "Rock" parents. His parents influenced him with sounds of Santana,Aerosmith,Jimi Hendrix,Led Zeppelin. He would play with his mothers records, and watch live footage that was recorded by them at many of concerts they attended.

When he was in 2nd grade and living in Pomona,California his Cousin Gabe Escobedo and his friend Steve Huerta were Dj's. They introduced him to Old School. (LL Cool J,N.W.A.,Whodini)

After Moving to Rancho Cucamonga,California in the 4th grade he was closer to his cousin Shelly, in Ontario. Shelly introduced him to 80's(Duran Duran) which opened him up to a new genre of music.

While in Jr. High and throughout High School his friend Edgar Alvarez(Dj Pisto;Crooks) introduced him to House music, and party crews.

While his senior year at Chaffey High school. He was told by Vince Barcelona (Dj Asprin) a friend from his party crew the "Stray Cats" had turntables for sale (Dj Jose Cafe.)

In 1997, his close friend Alfredo Castro (Dj Pieface/Emcee Hashbrown) opened him up to hip hop. He works for Guitar Center to this day, and gave him a deal on new equipment that changed his life forever.

He attended the Academy of Radio Broadcasting in Huntington Beach,California in 2000 with Super Steve(Kroq 106.7)Evelyn Erivez (99.1 KGGI) Claire Beverly (Traffic.)

Over a decade later, he has dj'ed all over So.California including Hollywood,Weddings,Private Parties,Casino's,Corporate parties.

Book him Now!

Speaking of MySpace, Goodfellas' MySpace account is here. Still haven't found that Goodfellas Twitter account, though. But there is a Goodfellas MySpace blog, including a post with over a dozen tips on promoting a gig.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Talking Heads, "A Clean Break"

First, a Happy New Year to the Empoprise-MU readers.

Have you ever heard the Talking Heads live album The Name of This Band is Talking Heads? It's not a chronicle of a live performance, but actually songs from several different live performances over the first few years of their career, ranging from the quirky group that haunted New York to the "Remain in Light" crowd of people running all over the stage. The progression makes for an interesting listen.

One of the early songs on the album is "A Clean Break," which can be found on here. There's also (presently) a YouTube video that shows some still pictures of the band.

There is a Crawdaddy review of an expanded re-release of the album, but some of Crawdaddy's comments apply to the original version we know and love.

Overall, it carries a meticulous introduction to early Heads material, including 1977’s Talking Heads: 77, 1978’s More Songs About Buildings And Food, and Fear Of Music, the 1979 masterpiece produced by Brian Eno....

Discarding theatrics for pure energy, Talking Heads undressed pretension and the expectations of typical CBGB fare, allowing each note to attack the flesh on its own....

The first disc of this set details four live performances from the first two years of Talking Heads. From conception, their goal was to foster something crooked and ultimately poignant; Chris Frantz has said that they set out to “change the way people assumed a rock band should look and sound.”

“New Feeling” launches the album with a bitter trail of cymbals that finds relief in David Byrne’s grainy maw, while its springy guitar riff and tumbling bass line sound steep and clear. Thankfully, Ed Strasium’s mixing never feels strained, aided by the skill of the Heads, who are beautifully in form from the beginning. “A Clean Break” simply succeeds in Byrne’s ability to recognize the limits of his voice. “The Big Country,” the first of many solid additions to the original release, is a lopsided gallop into the furious reverie, “I’m Not In Love.” “Love” is hyper and disturbed, on the brink of losing control. In fact, most of The Name is sharp and spastic.

The Name of This Site is Talking Heads adds another perspective.

The double live LP 'The Name Of This Band' was released in 1982, after the release of solo albums by David Byrne, Jerry Harrison, and The Tom Tom Club.

With no likelihood of a Talking Heads reunion that year and growing rumours that the band was done for, Sire released this live album, made up of performances from different stages in the band's career. But if 'The Name...' bought time between records, it also ingeniously combined two staples of the pop music industry: the live album and the 'greatest hits' collection. By putting the two together and placing the songs in some historical perspective, the Heads called attention to their own process of growth and creativity. The album seemed more a valuable historical document than the 'greatest hits' collections of most peers, which looked like easy-money corporate hustles.

The first disc chronicled the original quartet and its quirky new wave songs, including the previously unreleased "A Clean Break" and the previously single-only "Building on Fire."

Good stuff...and that's only the first part of the album.