Friday, October 29, 2010

Beginning of the End for mp3 Blogs?

If, like me, you believe a good mp3 blog helps -- not hurts -- the recording industry, this article in Wednesday's Wall Street Journal will fill you with dread. In "All Eyes on France as Officials Enforce New Antipiracy Law", we learn the French government has hired a private company to watch file-sharing Web sites to determine who is illegally downloading music. The users' IP addresses are given to Hadopi, a government arm, who in turn contacts Internet providers to get the users' e-mail addresses. Warnings are sent out in the following manner:

1) An email is sent to the computer owner telling them he is legally responsible regardless of who actually downloaded the song from the device.
2) If it happens again within six months of the first warning, a registered letter is sent warning the computer owner to stop downloading.
3) A third warning results in legal proceedings and a one-year Internet blackout.

Internet providers were reluctant to help until the government passed another law fining the companies every time they didn't comply. Hadopi expects about 125,000 IP addresses a day from the country's various providers. It's thought 70 percent of those warned once will stop. Others will find a way around Hadopi, but is it worth all of the trouble?

If this country adopts a Hadopi-type bureau -- and I'm sure the powers that be are watching the French model closely -- I will close shop. There are file-sharing users out there that upload (and download) entire in-print albums, and I agree that's an abuse. If a blogger posts a song to promote an album, complete with links on how to purchase the album, however, that's where the line should be drawn. In the instance a record company or artist feels even a one-song post is one song too much, most bloggers will immediately remove the link to download. This seems fair to me. Sales are being made through this kind of promotion.

Godspeed, French mp3 bloggers. This American is thinking of you.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Cover Me Impressed: Halloween Edition

Let's follow up last year's "Like, a Totally Awesome '80s Halloween Mix" with some covers and their originals that fit the occasion. Yes, there are a couple of repeats here, but there are more treats than tricks. Cross my heart... The real curiosity of the group is keyboard wizard Steve Nieve of the Attractions doing a take on my favorite Specials tune. I think there is a pretty good chance you don't have that one. I bought it nearly 20 years ago on a two-for-one disc of his two solo albums, 'Keyboard Jungle' (1983) and 'Playboy' (1987). I hope you enjoy it. Be safe this weekend.

The Strangeloves - I Want Candy (mp3)
Bow Wow Wow - I Want Candy (mp3)

The Specials - Ghost Town (12" Version) (mp3)
Steve Nieve - Ghost Town (mp3)

The Psychedelic Furs - The Ghost in You (mp3)
Robyn Hitchcock - The Ghost in You (mp3)

The Doors - People Are Strange (mp3)
Echo & the Bunnymen - People Are Strange (mp3)

Screamin' Jay Hawkins - I Put A Spell On You (mp3)
She & Him - I Put A Spell On You (mp3)

Download Free Show From Pixies

Pixies have relaunched their Web site, To celebrate, the band is giving us a free download of their appearance at Coachella in 2004. Pixies promise a new show on the site each week. So, bookmark this sucker.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

'Reel' Exciting: New Tapes 'n Tapes in New Year

Man, did I love the first Tapes 'n Tapes album. The Minneapolis band was all that for a bit, but their 2008 followup, 'Walk It Off,' left me cold. Now comes word the lads third album, 'Outside,' will be another self-released affair on Jan. 11. The first available song, "Freak Out," is available below, and you should eventually be able to preorder the LP here. What do you think of the new song? Don't you think it sounds a bit like something off of 'The Loon'?

Tapes 'n Tapes - Freak Out (mp3)

'Outside' Tracklist
1. Badaboom
2. SWM
3. One in the World
4. Nightfall
5. Desert Plane
6. Outro
7. Freak Out
8. The Saddest of All Keys
9. Hidee Ho
10. People You Know
11. On and On
12. Mighty Long

Bryan Ferry and Old Pals Turn Back the Clock

There is only one new release this week that interests me (outside of 'Head'). The last decade or so, Bryan Ferry's output has been pretty sporadic. With the exception of some originals on 'Frantic' in 2002, he has been in crooner mode while interpreting the songs of others. I don't know about you, but I haven't found this the least bit interesting. Still, we are talking Bryan Ferry here. In my world, outside of David Bowie, he is the coolest artist on the planet. So, finally, today's release of 'Olympia' is something for an old Roxy Music fan like me to get excited about. Brian Eno, Andy Mackay and Phil Manzanera make appearances here. It's the first time these fellas have been on a record together since 1973. Rhett Davies is producer. Davies was behind the controls of Ferry's 1985 album 'Boys and Girls.' That album and the followup, 'Bete Noire' from 1987, are his peak as a solo artist. If you don't have these two, run out to your local shop right now. Although I'm no fan of Kate Moss, it's nice to see a gal grace the album cover like the Roxy Music days. Check out the video for the first single, "You Can Dance." Can this guy really be 65 years old? Buy 'Olympia.'

Monday, October 25, 2010

Girls Announce New EP

For the price of an e-mail address, you too can have a new song from Girls. It's part of a six-song EP called 'Broken Dreams Club' that will be out on Nov. 22. It's great to hear from them again, as my top songs and albums of 2009 lists will attest. Download the song "Heartbreaker" and pre-order now.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Wake Up to Slumberland

My love for labels like Yep Roc, Merge and Matador is pretty evident, but there is a another contender that has quietly moved up my list of favorites. Slumberland has been around for more than 20 years, and I have been into one of the label's founding bands -- Velocity Girl -- for nearly that long. It has just been in the last three or four years, however, that I have noticed how many of Slumberland's bands I'm listening to from their current stable of stars.

Actually, we are a match made in heaven. The folks at Slumberland have an affinity for bands that sound like they could have come from the C-86 movement, Phil Spector's lot or the short-lived Postcard label, as do I. For me, it really started with the Lodger's debut album in 2007. Then I moved on to the Pains of Being Pure at Heart. My fondness for Slumberland became more like respect when they issued much of the Aislers Set's catalog on vinyl. Then, earlier this year, respect turned to deep appreciation when they dug up an old Chin Chin record to remind us that many of these new bands are just the next wave in the vast evolution of music.

Slumberland provided the soundtrack for much of my tough transition from Chicago to Seattle earlier this year. Here are a few of those well-worn songs. I hope you will like them, too. If you do, visit the label's site and drop a few bucks. Slumberland is one of the good guys.

Tender Trap - Do You Want A Boyfriend? (mp3)
Spectrals - 7th Date (mp3)
Procedure Club - Feel Sorry For Me (mp3)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Cover Me Impressed: 'Porpoise Song'

Yesterday's bit about the upcoming deluxe edition of The Monkees' 'Head' reminded me of a great cover I have of the soundtrack opener, 'Porpoise Song.' The Gerry Goffin/Carole King tune has been done well by a few bands including ...And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead (on the "Worlds Apart" single) and The Church (on their covers album 'A Box of Birds'), but I like the Wondermints' take the best. My fondness for their cover comes down to superficial things like it's on a rare 1996 Japanese import
-- 'Wonderful World of Wondermints' -- that cost me a lot of dough and was difficult to find. This was before searching for albums on the Internet, folks. Remember when the hunt for a record used to be fun and an adventure? Anyway, Wondermints are one of my favorite power-pop bands, and I recommend all of their LPs, including the ones where they backed Brian Wilson. They are only a few clicks away. Happy hunting.

Wondermints - Porpoise Song (mp3)

More Cover Me Impressed:
"Prairie Rose"
"Come On Eileen"
"Walking On Thin Ice"
Jason Falkner Edition
"True Love Will Find You In The End"
"This Will Be Our Year"
"You're My Favorite Waste of Time"
"The End Of The World"
"(Don't Go Back To)Rockville"
"God Only Knows"
"And Your Bird Can Sing"
"So Sad About Us"
"Walking The Cow"

Monday, October 18, 2010

Monkees Soundtrack Moves to 'Head' of Class

I know I write about box sets and reissues ad nauseum. It's because I'm old and listen to a lot of fabulous music from my era and beyond. Let's face it. Acclaimed and properly aged are more or less the criteria for a deluxe edition. Thus, my fixation. Well, here's another one. (And you can bet I'll be writing about yet another one in the next day or two.)

Back in February when I wrote about Rhino Handmade's deluxe edition of 'The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees,' I proclaimed my unapologetic love for the band, and today I get to do it again. On Oct. 26, the same label will release a monster version of the wonderful and often weird soundtrack to 'Head.' Of the 58-tracks spread over three discs, 20 of them are previously unreleased and include live performances and alternate stereo mixes of just about every song on the original soundtrack. The last disc is a complete 1968 radio interview with Davy Jones that was only released as a rare promo LP. Finally, if you pre-order on Rhino's Web site, you gets a 7" single of "Porpoise Song"/"As We Go Along."

Like many of these multi-disc sets, you need to be a real fan. For one thing, it's $60. I should add if you haven't owned any Monkees records, this is not the place to start. The film was a complete flop, and neither the soundtrack nor the 'Porpoise Song' single cracked the Top 40. To say these were firsts is a huge understatement. In other words, this was the beginning of the end of what seemed like an indestructible pop group. So, why give so much attention to a disaster? Commercial success aside, the music is bold and some of the best work the band ever did... from Goffin/King goodies to the Michael Nesmith-penned "Circle Sky." It's too bad their core audience (teen girls) weren't ready to grow up a bit. Today, thankfully, 'Head' has plenty of cred.

The Monkees - Porpoise Song (Theme From 'Head') (Single Version) (mp3)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Domino Squeezes Every Ounce for OJ Box Set

It's about time. Orange Juice fans can finally rejoice. Most of the Scottish post-punk outfit's catalog has been woefully out of print for several years now, but Domino has once again come to the rescue. If you are like me, Orange Juice was a myth for many years. I heard some of my favorite bands talk about what an influence they had been, but I had never actually heard them. Finally, in 2005, Domino released 'The Glasgow School,' a reissue of OJ's early Postcard-era singles and other nuggets. I bought it the day it was released and, in my mind, they more than lived up to the legend. The label's packaging was a sight to behold as well.

Since then, I have picked up a song here and there from excellent Scottish bloggers like The Vinyl Villain, but that's been about it. That's why I'm so excited that Domino's Nov. 22 release of 'Coals to Newcastle,' a seven-disc set that includes all of Orange Juice's albums, outtakes, BBC sessions, 16 unreleased tracks and a DVD of music videos and live performances. Check out the full tracklist here. This is a call to all Franz Ferdinand fans. It's time to quit getting your OJ from concentrate (get it? just add water!) and drink in the real thing. Here is my absolute favorite Orange Juice song and a clip of the band's No. 8 hit (UK, of course) from 1983. It would be their only song to reach the Top 40. Pre-order now.

Orange Juice - Poor Old Soul (Part 1) (mp3)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Duran, Sufjan and Other Releases

Today is shaping up to be a great one for new releases. Let's start with another in a fine line of Duran Duran reissues. There are actually two out today, 'Notorious' and 'Big Thing.' Now, to be honest, the end of the line for me was 'Notorious.' I think the band's first two records are must-haves. A step below those would be the next two, 'Seven and the Ragged Tiger' and 'Notorious.' By the time 'Big Thing' hit the shelves in 1988 I had abandoned Duran Duran for much harder stuff. So, I won't write too much about that one except to say it's another blowout two-disc audio set that also includes an 18-song live show from the period, as well as three music videos.

'Notorious' was Duran Duran's triumphant return following a three-year layoff. The band was a trio in 1986, but they got lots of help from producer Nile Rogers. This is most evident on the title track. It's got a wee bit of funk that makes you think of Chic. My guess is the teen gals didn't know what to think of this album, and it showed on the charts. They had no monster bubble-gum hit like 'The Reflex,' but Simon and the boys seemed much cooler to me during this time period. They had style in the way ABC did during the 'Lexicon of Love' phase. They were still miles away from Roxy Music, but I liked the subtle change.

I'm not going to kid you. With these deluxe editions selling for about $40 a pop, you need to be super fan to make these purchases. I bought 'Seven and the Ragged Tiger' for my wife's birthday, and I was really impressed with the extras. I'm a real sucker for the band's extended versions and B-sides, and Mrs. Linear Tracking Lives! traveled back in time with the live concert she first saw on Cinemax about 25 years ago. Here's a look at the new 'Notorious:'

Disc One
1. Notorious
2. American Science
3. Skin Trade
4. A Matter Of Feeling
5. Hold Me
6. Vertigo (Do The Demolition)
7. So Misled
8. Meet El Presidente
9. Winter Marches On
10. Proposition
11. Notorious (45 mix)
12. Skin Trade (radio cut)
13. We Need You (B-side)
14. Meet El Presidente (7″ remix)

Disc Two
Duran Goes Dutch EP (recorded at the Ahoy, Rotterdam, May 7, 1987)
1. Notorious (live)
2. Vertigo (Do The Demolition) (live)
3. New Religion (live)
4. Hungry Like The Wolf (live)
5. American Science (live)
6. Notorious (extended mix)
7. Skin Trade (Stretch mix)
8. Meet El Presidente (Presidential Suite mix)
9. American Science (Chemical reaction mix)
10. Skin Trade (Parisian mix)
11. Notorious (Latin Rascals mix)
12. Vertigo (Do The Demolition) (Mantronix mix)
13. Notoriousaurus Rex

Working For The Skin Trade -- Strange Behaviour Tour
1. Intro
2. A View To A Kill
3. Notorious
4. New Religion
5. Vertigo
6. The Chauffeur
7. Save A Prayer
8. Skin Trade
9. Hungry Like The Wolf
10. Wild Boys
11. Outro
12. Notorious (music video)
13. Skin Trade (music video)
14. Meet El Presidente (music video)
15. Notorious(Top of the Pops, June 11, 1986)

Duran Duran - Skin Trade (Stretch Mix) (mp3)

I wasn't surprised to wake up this morning to see Pitchfork gave its "Best New Music" seal of approval to Sufjan Stevens' 'The Age of Adz.' Stevens has been a darling of the blogosphere for many years, but I'm just now sure if the praise is deserved this time around. I give him high marks for experimentation, but this record is a hard listen to these ears. The songs are often long and moody. You will definitely need to be in a certain frame of mind to listen all of the way through. I don't like my music to be so much work. I enjoy Stevens' back catalog, but 'The Age of Adz' may collect dust on my shelf. To this point, here is my favorite song. Mr. Stevens, I will welcome back the banjos.

Sufjan Stevens - I Walked (mp3)

After five years of silence, Belle & Sebastian's 'Write About Love' is a welcome return to form... if you liked their last couple of albums. If you go back to the band's infancy, you may find the new work pedestrian. As for me, I just plain like all of Belle & Sebastian's albums. Yes, Norah Jones sits in on one of the tunes, and that is a regrettable misstep, but most of the record is worthy of the B&S canon. Having said that, Song, By Toad had a take on the album and the band that, although I don't agree with the sentiment, I found riveting. Fans will enjoy the comments the readers left as well. How are you liking the record?

Belle & Sebastian - I Want the World to Stop (mp3)

Monday, October 11, 2010

A Brief Word...

...about my absence. I like to focus on the music here at LTL!, but some of you check the blog regularly and deserve an explanation for the large gap between entries. Until about two months ago I wrote on this blog every day or two for about 14 months. I enjoyed it. Then, at the beginning of August, my wife and two children moved 2,000 miles from Chicago to Seattle. Truthfully, it has been a rocky experience. That is especially true when it comes to the adjustment of my oldest son. He is autistic and a fairly severe case when it comes to the mainstream public-school system here in the Pacific Northwest. So, most of my time has been spent with him and the school. Getting everyone on the same page has been exhausting. So, I just haven't had the energy to write. Finally, we are settling into a routine that includes blogging here from time to time. Thanks for waiting. As Casey Kasem would say, now on with the countdown.

k.d. lang - Just Keep Me Moving (mp3)
X - In This House That I Call Home (mp3)

Solomon Burke, You Will Be Missed

One of the most endearing voices in soul was silenced yesterday. I was first introduced to the late great Solomon Burke's music in the '80s when I purchased the mammoth eight-disc, 203-song Atlantic Rhythm and Blues box set. What a great place to start. It covers the label's biggest acts from 1947-1974, and Burke's four highest charting hits are represented. My first impressions of Burke were that he sounded an awful lot like Otis Redding, another artist in the Atlantic stable, but I couldn't help but wonder why I had never heard Burke before when Redding had been all over the airwaves throughout my life. Fortunately, his peers and the critics knew what much of the listening audience didn't. Stardom aside, Burke was pivotal in the early years of R&B's merger with rock and roll. I have always been tough on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but Burke's induction was one of the few times the institution got it right.

For those of you new to the charms of Mr. Burke, I give you "Got To Get You Off My Mind." This was Burke's highest charting pop single, peaking at No. 22 in 1965. I think you might also enjoy "The Other Side of the Coin." This comes from his 2002 album 'Don't Give Up on Me.' Burke snagged a Best Contemporary Blues Album Grammy for that one. The LP was written by artists enamoured with Burke, including some of my favorites like Elvis Costello, Brian Wilson and this one by Nick Lowe. Lowe eventually recorded his own version of "The Other Side of the Coin" for his 2007 album 'At My Age.' I suggest you pick that one up too. Bye, Mr. Burke. You will continue to live through your stellar catalog.

Solomon Burke - Got to Get You Off My Mind (mp3)
Solomon Burke - The Other Side of the Coin (mp3)