Sunday, January 30, 2005
Don't Tell My CD Player
My CD player is the only piece of real stereo equipment I bought new. At first I ran it into a cheap integrated turntable, cassette, receiver. That stereo was a Christmas gift, but I had to buy the CD player myself. Integrated stereos did not, at the time, come with a CD player. Instead, they had a cheap turntable that would eat your records. I had to buy the CD player as a separate component and run it into the auxiliary channel. I was convinced that the future was in CDs although they were not yet universally accepted, so I thought I would invest in the CD player instead of buying vinyl records (the funny part is that now that my belief back in 1987 has proved correct, I now prefer vinyl, but that is just further proof of my anachronism). I forget what I paid for the CD player (I think it was approaching $200), but nearly 20 years ago it was certainly more than an equivalent new CD player would cost today. More importantly, it was a small fortune for a 14 year old. About as much of an investment as me buying a new Jaguar today.
My current stereo consists of said CD player, a 90s cassette player (JVC TD-W106 . . . that I hardly ever use) I bought at for 5 dollars at a yard sale, and the rest of the components are cast away 70s components I picked up from an ex's aunt and parents that were high level consumer components when they first came out (JVC VCR-5521 amp/tuner, Pioneer PL-A45D turntable, Infinity POS 1 speakers). I am pretty happy with these. I've thought about replacing the turntable with an audiophile turntable, but I probably won't get around to it for quite some time. A good turntable is really pretty expensive, and the work of researching them is pretty daunting. I've thought about buying an even older amp . . . a 60s tube amp (a Scott or something like that), but I'll probably never get around to that either. I like the sound of my stereo, and I love the retro aesthetic of the tuner (with the backlit part with the stations, all the heavily weighted knobs, and the faux wood case). But I would kind of like a new CD player. And of all of these changes it would be by far the cheapest. The one thing I prefer on CD is compilations because I almost never want to listen to them straight through and it is much easier to skip around tracks with a CD. This would be even easier if I had a remote and didn't have to get up to do it. But i've had my CD player since I was a kid . . . since I seriously got into music. I don't have the heart to replace it until it gives up on me.
So if you meet my CD player, please be nice to it. Don't tell it that I have mixed feelings about its longevity because it has been a good companion. I felt guilty enough already about harboring these feelings. Hopefully coming out with them will insure at least another 20 years for my CD playing friend
Wednesday, January 19, 2005
Mission of Burma Set List from Fri., Jan. 14
A Great Show and a Terrible One
To start with, cut out the rock star posing. Martin Rev hardly played anything all night. He turned on the pre-recorded bad disco beat and occasionally one-handedly struck the keyboard in a random manner. The rest of the time he posed and pouted. While I think anyone of any age has the right to rock, in older age musicians have to rely more on chops than charisma. Martin, no one wants to see you pout. And the poses and kicks are just silly. But not as silly as that patent leather jacket you were wearing. Alan Vega no longer has the understated voice of the records. Maybe he never did live, I don't know. Now he mostly scream-sings or goes into a bad Elvis impersonation. And Alan, Specialized bicycle gloves just do not spell rock and roll. But the worst part was the music. Suicide was beautiful in its minimalist, rhythmic approach that didn't sound like anything else. An Elvis impersonation over a bad disco beat is just painful.
The amazing part is how much some people were really into it. I was stuck next to this crazy flailing lady and this really smelly guy. I tried to leave, but I was up front and it just seemed like too much work to escape. And then there were lots of indie kids who seemed into it. Standing on line I also notice many Europeans. Did these people really love the music for what it is, or are they just relying on the legend. It occurs to me that this could really be what Suicide is doing. They were always confrontational. It would be a clever final act to see how incredibly bad they could be and still have people worship them and come out to shows.
Thee Majesty opened, featuring Genesis P-Orridge of Throbbing Gristle and Psychic TV. I can't say I understand this whole pandrogeny thing. But it was interesting to see him live. Almost a weird combination of industrial and twee. I still have that Throbbing Gristle story to share with you.
Mission of Burma were great on Friday night. Two long sets and a two song encore, including the Wipers "Youth of America" (which is a really long song as every DJ knows, great for putting on if you have to go to the bathroom). I strikes me that Youth of America is an appropriate song for Burma to cover as it has that same anthemic quality as great Burma songs. It is also on the new I-Tunes only live album that I have to get around to downloading. I snagged the set lists after the show. I'll have to try to get them digitized to post. Burma struck just the right balance between old and new songs. Peter Prescott is a really inventive drummer, and I guess that is why I always loved the Volcano Suns so much. And he was even funny in his between song banter. There is one thing I don't understand. In everything you read about Burma, the terms "avant" or "art" are thrown around. I realize that their structures aren't always conventional. They manipulated tape loops before it was popular. Some of the members had actual musical training. Also, I am listening with modern ears. But they had less conventional contemporaries in the US (no wave) and the UK (some of the post punk bands). I am not meaning this as a criticism in any way. But to me they aren't an art band. Just a great and interesting ROCK band. And very few of their contemporaries rocked like Burma.
Thursday, January 13, 2005
He Doth Protest Too Much, or, An Upcoming Weekend of Retro Show Going
Mission of Burma Friday night at the Bowery Ballroom. Suicide Saturday night at the Knitting Factory. And, as a late add onto the Suicide bill, Thee Majesty, featuring Genesis P-Orridge of Throbbing Gristle and Psychic TV fame. From my coming weekend of show going, you would think I am old. Well, for general show going, perhaps I am - - but I'm not that old. I really am into new music. I love collecting old vinyl, but I buy new records all the time too. I go to shows by current bands. I am not a jaded "back in the day" kind of person. I think that now is a great time for indie rock, and I think tomorrow will be too.
You are going to accuse me of being a little too defensive, the old he doth protest too much thing. It isn't that. It is that I am generally against reunions by old bands, but in the past year or so I have gone to my share. Rocket from the Tombs and the MC5 being the most obvious. Both were good shows but didn't seem genuine. I don't have time now to write about my aversion to reunions. I'll save that for a post next week.
I do want to say that I don't consider Mission of Burma a mere reunion. At first I did, and I was somewhat skeptical. Then, I heard the great reviews, but I didn't live near any of the cities they played. I thought about driving up to DC from Greensboro, but it didn’t happen. At that time, it was still a reunion though, even if the reviews were universally glowing. Then they came out with a great new double lp last year, and now it is no longer a reunion. It is a vital, ongoing concern. Then Burma came to Chapel Hill a couple weeks after I moved to New York. Wouldn't you know it. Then they opened for the Pixies here in NY, but I wasn't that interested in the Pixies. After all, they are just a reunion. And I didn’t want to see the greatest band ever to come out of Boston (except for maybe the Girls) open for an inferior Boston band. Plus, the show was in a stadium. That isn't the way to see Burma for the first time. Well, the short of it is that I finally get to see Burma this Friday, three years after their first "reunion" show, and I am very excited.
Suicide I am not so excited about. I don't know what to expect. I heard Martin Rev's latest record when it came into WQFS last year. I remember thinking it was OK, I played a track, but it wasn't memorable. I haven't heard Suicide's 2002 effort, American Supreme. But I love old Suicide and I figured what the hell, it should be fun. A reunion is fine if you go in with that attitude. It is dangerous if you mythologize the band, and then, 25 years on from their peak, they inevitably don't live up to the myth you have built up in your head. Then, to some small degree, your experience of the records is spoiled. I don't think that will happen with Suicide.
As for Genesis, that should be fun too. I have a great Throbbing Gristle story to share with you, but I'll save that for a later date.
A weekend of retro show going. I am looking forward to it, but I doth protest too much.
Tuesday, January 11, 2005
New Name, Same Great Taste
Long time, no post. I know. I have moved to Greenpoint, Brooklyn. While my new job is many more hours than the old job, that isn't my only excuse. It just took a lot of time to get unpacked and settled in. I am pretty much at that stage now, and I have promised myself to keep up the blog in the new year.
Let me explain the name change to "File Under Pop". This blog used to document my radio show at WQFS in Greensboro, NC. The blog and my show were, in turn, named after the underground rock show at WHRB in Cambridge, MA, where I was a DJ in college in the early and mid-90s. I did this because I found myself having to choke back from saying "you're tuned to the Record Hospital" when I was first at WQFS and decided I might as well nick the name because who would know the difference. Now that I am radio show-less for the time being (although I would love to start up an MP3 based internet radio program at some point in the future), I hope to make this largely a music criticism site. You can expect record reviews, show reviews, and the odd historical piece. I will not, for now, change the address because I would lose my accumulated linkage.
File Under Pop was a band that put out a great little noise/industrial 7" on Rough Trade 11. Two of the tracks on the 7" were recorded live at Heathrow Airport. Otherwise, I don't know much about the band. There is no other information on the sleeve and the labels are blank. A web search doesn't show much about them. The International Discography of the New Wave only lists the one 7". People are going to google "File Under Pop" (as many have), my site is the first hit, and they are going to think I am an expert on the band. Unfortunately, I'm not. Though I do have the feeling that it may have been a one-off sort of thing. Hopefully I can learn more about the band/record and publish it here.
Mainly, I just think it is a great name for my mostly-music blog. First as a record collector, I give too much thought to how to organize my records and have changed my mind several times as my collection has grown. "File Under Pop" tells you exactly where to put the 7". It also identifies the nature of my blog. It is about pop music. However, just like the 7", the music I care about isn't pop music in the normal sense of whatever they are playing on the radio or even "indie pop." I was a punk rock kid, and although my tastes have mellowed some, in other ways I have come to embrace noise more over the years, so I still don't have a pop sensibility. But in the end, who are we kidding; it is still popular music. Thus, this is the blog of a person who collects vinyl records, goes to shows, and listens to new music. The blog will mostly cover these pursuits. Expect about a post once a week. Flog me if I don't live up to that.