Wednesday, March 21, 2007
"Definitive" List Defines Crap
200 Albums you don't really need
Every time I want to give the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame some sort of validity, I'm proven how stupid it is. Again, if you want to create a museum to 20th Century music, focusing on Rock, that's cool. But to call it a "Hall of Fame" is just pretentious and idiotic.
Recently the R&R HOF teamed up with The National Association of Recording Merchandisers (NARM) to create a "definitive" list of 200 albums that should be in everyone's collection. As NARM president Jim Donio puts it, they are "albums that have consistently excited record buyers over the years and those that have the potential for continued success based on enduring popularity.... The inevidable debate about the 200 must-own albums will underscore just how much the music and the art form mean to everyone."
Unsurprisingly, Sgt. Pepper begins the list, but it pretty much becomes a joke after that. Other entries include Celine Dion, Shania Twain, the Dixie Chicks, Kenny G., and Frank Sinatra. On a list created by the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame?? There are, of course, glaring omissions and a skewered rating system (Carol King's Tapestry is number 7, while Jimi Hendrix doesn't even make the top 40.) These are suppose to be the "200 definitive albums of the rock era," but as far as I can remember, Frank Sinatra's In the Wee Small Hours was released in 1953, a few years before the rock era. The list ends with Grand Funk Railroad's We're An American Band, and whether you're fan of Grand Funk or not, that should pretty much tell you all you need to know about the list.
Obviously with an association like NARM involved, the whole list is a marketing ploy (and the list is on Amazon.com), but honestly, who would buy an album just because someone says it's "essential" to your record collection? I would never write an "essential" list of any length because I don't know what your personal taste is, and if you really like Kenny G., why would I tell you you need the Beastie Boys to make your record collection complete?
Anyone interested in the list can find it here:http://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html?ie=UTF8&docId=1000062961
If pressed, I could probably come up with a list of 20 albums essential to my collection, but perhaps I'll save that for another entry.
1:13 pm ET ·
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Monday, March 5, 2007
Making “Beautiful” Music
A CD Review of Bic Runga’s “Beautiful Collision”
Very few people have heard of Bic Runga here in the United States, but in her native New Zealand, she is one of that nation's biggest stars. As unique as her heritage (her father is Maori and her mother is Malaysian), Runga has quite a following and even received the attention of more internationally known Kiwi rockers Dave Dobbyn and Tim Finn (of Split Enz and Crowded House fame). Dobbyn even plays guitar on several songs on her album, Beautiful Collision.
Released in 2002, Beautiful Collision is a collection well-crafted pop songs mostly dealing with love and romance. Runga blends elements of jazz, rock, and folk, and even a hint of lounge singer (her mother actually was a lounge singer) into he own unique style. Her music is similar to that of Nora Jones, but Runga is more upbeat and her voice is a bit softer and sweeter.
Collision opens simply with "When I See You Smile," an acoustic number with just Runga and a guitar. It's a nice introduction to the album and Runga's style. The album then jumps into the standout "Get Some Sleep," a song about touring. "From here to there and everywhere and back to Union Square, where do I get some sleep?" she croons. With its catchy melody and intelligent lyrics, this is the song that grabs the listener's attention; and from here Runga doesn't let go.
"Something Good" follows, and while it's a pleasant tune, it's one of my least favorite (somehow Runga using "yah" instead of "you" just grates on me). But Runga then switches gears with "Precious Things" with a definite Asian flavor, to"Election Night," an edgier, more rock feeling song. Other standouts are the title track (with its staccato strings sounding like raindrops) and "Listening for the Weather."
All in all, Beautiful Collision is a pleasant album that grows on you more after each listen. Bic Runga may not be a household name in America yet, but even a place as remote as New Zealand can't keep a talent like this hidden forever.
9:42 am ET ·
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Another Spin is a reworking of an older music column of the Partial Observer, written by my alter-ego, "Dr. Spin."
In Dr. Spin's column I often addressed reader's musical questions, whereas Another Spin will be entirely my thoughts and observations on Rock music and popular music in general, occasionally reviewing albums that I think are worth noting and artists who I feel have been overlooked in the past. Of course, as with any other blog, people can still leave comments. I love to know if you agree or disagree with me."