Daily Archives: December 30, 2008

This Damn List Gets Longer Every Year

the-singing-saw-at-chrimastimebooker-t-and-the-mgs-in-the-christmas-spiritsinatra-the-christmas-collection

ultra-lounge-christmas-cocktails

Time was, I allowed myself one Christmas-album purchase per year. In 2003, it was the immortal James Brown’s Funky Christmas, or the latest “Millenium Collection” compilation containing its key tracks (“Go Power at Christmas Time,” “Soulful Christmas Tree,” “Santa Claus, Go Straight to the Ghetto”). In 2005, it was Christmas with Johnny Cash, which is an innumerable reissue of previously-released material, too. 2006’s big splurge was Sufjan Stevens’ set of five Christmas EPs, a purchase that continues to pay rich dividends. (But I might have bought A Jolly Christmas with Frank Sinatra that year, too.)

2006 saw the first of my annual Christmas compilations, which are probably the reason things are just really geting out of hand now, with me buying different compilations by the same artists, for crying out loud.  I’m way over $50 since this year’s CD, Santa Claus and Popcorn, was finished:

Julian Koster, The Singing Saw at Christmastime
Various Artists, Savoy Christmas Blues (for my mom, ostensibly)
Frank Sinatra, The Christmas Collection (ditto; and I’ve already bought The Chairman’s Jolly Christmas, but Grant-Lee Phillips sang “An Old-Fashioned Christmas” at Aimee Mann’s Christmas show this year, and I had to go after that one )
Various Artists, A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector
Various Artists, Ultimate Christmas Cocktails

Let’s not even talk about the individual-track purchases, or the tunes obtained via torrent. I must be stopped.

This Song Is Not a Rebel Song; This Song Is “Sunday Bloody Sunday,” 14 Years Later

(And now another dozen years beyond that.)

U2, the oldest (well, longest-standing), sacredest of my sacred cows, will release No Line on the Horizon, their 12th studio album, on March 3, and you’ll be able to spend as much money as you want on the thing. (A pay-what-you-will, just-the-music download edition a la Radiohead would be the decent, tasteful thing for U2 to do — they can easily afford it — but it ain’t gonna happen.)

I’ve long believed U2 to be superstitious about the months in which they drop albums, and their long-awaited latest was originally rumored to be a November release — like 1991’s Achtung Baby, 2000’s All That You Can’t Leave Behind (which actually came out on Halloween, as I recall, which is almost November), and 2004’s How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb.

The Joshua Tree, still U2’s most beloved and iconic album despite strong competition from Achtung, was a March release, way back in 1987. But the new record will be U2’s first March record since — gasp! — 1997’s POP.

Am I going to re-open the debate about U2’s most controversial album? Hell, no. (But if you feel like delving into that, you can stop by Carrie Brownstein’s superb Monitor Mix blog, where she recently suggested that POP and the subsequent PopMart Tour — which I saw four times! — might stand as a textbook case of shark-jumpery.) I just hope No Line on the Horizon isn’t an overhyped, undercooked, and yet still ultimately underrated album that we’re all still fighting about in 2021. That seems to have been POP ‘s fate, though it still gets revived and defended in unlikely places by unlikely people. The Imposter, for example. His cover might be the definitive version of “Please.”

That U2 played “Sunday Bloody Sunday” every night on their last two tours after having rendered the 1983 song all but obsolete with “Please” in 1997 is just straight-up pandering, Man. At least play both!