Month: July 2009

Listening Booth – Be Bop Deluxe, “Ships in the Night” and “Maid in Heaven”

Listening Booth – Be Bop Deluxe, “Ships in the Night” and “Maid in Heaven”

Listening Booth, Music
I'm headed out for a mini-vacation so I'll leave you with a double shot from one of my favorite bands - the criminally overlooked Be Bop Deluxe.  Bill Nelson deserves a place in the pantheon of great songwriters and guitarists of the age, but for some reason neither he nor his '70s project achieved the wild success they deserved. First up is a performance from the TV show Pop Quiz.  It's "Ships in the Night", as infectious a piece of power pop as you're likely to hear.  The album that spawned it, 1976's Sunburst Finish, is nothing short of awesome. The second number is "Maid in Heaven", from the 1975 release Futurama.  You can hear how much more glam the band was at this point in their career.  A lot of BBD sounds like vintage David Bowie, which is always welcome.
Album review: Amy X Neuburg & The Cello ChiXtet – The Secret Language of Subways

Album review: Amy X Neuburg & The Cello ChiXtet – The Secret Language of Subways

Music
Just when I start to pat myself on the back for expanding my musical horizons so much over recent years, along comes an album like The Secret Language of Subways to set me straight.  The record, a collaboration between English-born composer and vocalist Amy X Neuberg and the Cello ChiXtet, is billed as "a song cycle about the inane and perpetually unfinished businesses of love and war - and New York."  I'm not really sure what that means, but it sure sounds impressive. Make no mistake, this album is definitely Art with a capital A.  The opening track, "One Lie", unfolds slowly before reaching an almost martial crescendo.  It sets the stage for Neuberg's elastic, Kate Bush-like vocals and the playing of the ChiXtet (Elizabeth Vandervennet, Elaine Kreston, and Jessica Ivry), which is alte
Listening Booth – The Zombies, “Care of Cell 44”

Listening Booth – The Zombies, “Care of Cell 44”

Listening Booth, Music
It took decades for Odessey and Oracle, the 1967 classic by the Zombies, to get the recognition it so richly deserved.  Anyone with even a passing familiarity with classic rock has heard "Time of the Season" ad infinitum, which is fine as it is certainly a great song.  But today I want to pay some respect to the album's lead track and single, "Care of Cell 44".   Penned by Zombies co-founder Ron Argent, it combines a great chorus, soaring vocals, and a tastefully deployed Mellotron to achieve all kinds of win.  Enjoy.
My user thinks the Tron Legacy trailer looks promising

My user thinks the Tron Legacy trailer looks promising

Movies
I'm usually part of the chorus railing against Hollywood for dusting off old ideas for movies rather than inventing new ones.  Still, my inner (and outer) geek is pretty jazzed about this teaser trailer for the upcoming Tron movie (which is currently called Tron Legacy but was previously known as Tron 2.0 and the much cheesier TR2N), slated for a 2010 release. I'm not even all that concerned over how the "legacy" of Tron is handled.  Let's face it, the original was lots of fun but wasn't exactly rich in character development or plot complexities.  It survives because of the initial wow factor (and maybe the Journey soundtrack).  I just don't know if the new one will be able to pack the same punch in a post-Matrix world.  Still, it's got Jeff Bridges so how bad can it be?
Goodbye blue sky…Barthy burgers…girls…

Goodbye blue sky…Barthy burgers…girls…

People, TV & Radio
A beloved piece of my generation's childhood is no more.  Les Lye, a writer and actor known to '80s children as any number of adult characters from You Can't Do That on Television, has died at age 84.  According to what I've read Lye had a long and successful career in Canadian radio and TV, but Americans like me all remember him from Nickelodeon as Barth the cook, Nasti the German dungeon master, and of course El Capitano the vaguely Hispanic military executioner. As a last goodbye to a truly underrated performer and important part of my wasted youth, let's take a look back at some great Les Lye moments.  And by great I mean wet, slimy, and tasty.
Shuffle Along (aka Name That Tune) – 7/24/09

Shuffle Along (aka Name That Tune) – 7/24/09

Music
I'm going to steal something that Jess ran on his blog many times - name that tune.  It's simple: I post a lyric from the next random batch of songs that shows up on my iPod, and you try to guess the song and artist.  If you guess correctly and have a website, you get a free link (otherwise, just your name).  You just can't buy that kind of publicity.  If this goes well I'll do it again.  Of course if no one guesses anything I'll just shitcan the whole idea.  Let's play!  (and no cheating by looking them up!) 1. "She can move you and improve you with her love and her devotion.  And she'll thrill you and she'll chill you, but you're headed for commotion." - KISS, ??? 2. "Tied to a chair, and the bomb is ticking.  This situation was not of your picking." 3. "I hang my head and I adverti
Listening Booth – Robert Plant, “Big Log”

Listening Booth – Robert Plant, “Big Log”

Listening Booth, Music
It didn't take Robert Plant long after the breakup of Led Zeppelin to find his musical footing.  From his superb 1983 sophomore effort, The Principle of Moments, here's "Big Log".  The song reached the Top 20 in both the U.S. and U.K., and the video complements it perfectly. To this day "Big Log" is my favorite Plant track, helped in no small measure by the top-rate guitar playing of Robbie Blunt.  Blunt left Plant's band in 1985 and has kept a pretty low profile since, doing occasional session work for various artists.
Listening Booth – The Flamingos, “I Only Have Eyes for You”

Listening Booth – The Flamingos, “I Only Have Eyes for You”

Listening Booth, Music
Since it was written 75 years ago "I Only Have Eyes for You" has been covered by a lot of acts.  But there is only one version that really matters, and it was released by the Flamingos in 1959.  Some words that come to mind with this are 'beautiful', 'haunting', and 'classic'. The tenor lead on the song is Nate Nelson, who joined the group in late 1954 and left in 1961 to form the Modern Flamingos.  He joined the Platters in 1964 and spent pretty much the rest of his career with them until he died of heart disease in 1984 at age 52. (this is the best-sounding video I could find on YouTube - it's admittedly not a lot to look at)