Category Archives: recycling

They’re Bringing Waxy Back!

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Huh. I’ve actually spent time trying to hear the difference among 256-kbps AAC files vs. 128-kbps AAC vs. 200-ish kbps LAME-encoded MP3. Meanwhile, those vinyl-loving luddites are fortifying their positions. Or so I hear.

My review of Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder’s marvelous Friday-night show at the Birchmere with the Whites got held for a day, but it’s in today’s Paper of Record.

Santa’s Big Olde Bag, opened

DO YOU HEAR WHAT I HEAR?

Prologue: This is Christmas music! The first voice you hear is that of De’voreaux White as Argyle, the poontang-loving young limo driver who spent a memorable late-80s Christmas Eve locked in the parking garage beneath “Nakatomi Plaza” (actually the 20th Century Fox building) in Los Angeles. They made a movie about it, and that film is universally hailed as the greatest Christmas movie of all time. It’s called Under Siege. No, wait, it was Passenger 57. Um, Sudden Death? No, no, only kidding, merry-makers. It’s Die Hard, the once and future king of action pics.Once can only hope that IMDB is not an accurate reflection of De’voreaux’s recent career: His last screen credit is from eight years ago, in Shadow Hours. In the role of “Second Tranvestite.” Hey, remember when Ray Charles shot at a very young De’voreaux when he tried to pinch a guitar from Ray’s music shop in The Blues Brothers? That was awesome.

Santa’s Got a Big Old Bag. (The Bellrays, 2005) – Yep, Lisa Kekaula, that mic is on.

Ding! Dong! Death! (May Be Your Santa Claus!) (Sufjan Stevens, 2003; preacher recording found by Andy Cirzan, origin unknown) – A mash-up, albeit a very primitive one, of my own design. I started out with like, half-a-dozen pieces culled from Sufjan’s remarkable set of five Christmas EPs recorded each December from 2001 through 2005, and in June 2006. The latter is the one that includes “Christmas in July,” as well as “Jupiter Winter,” “Sister Winter,” and “The Winter Solstice,” most of each stand out as notably depressing even among this, whose five volumes comprise one of the most muted Christmas albums ever. Thanks for bringing us all down, Sufjan.

Save the Overtime (For Me). (Dees, Gallo, Knight, Knight, Schwarzenegger, 1983) – Surely the best of the Governator’s collaborations with Gladys Knight and the Pips. Squats are an excellent exercise.

I Don’t Intend to Spend Christmas Without You. (Margo Guryan, date unknown) – She’s a creepy broad, ain’t she? But tuneful.

Brian Wilson Reveals All. Behold the startingly revelatory, probingly incisive, revealingly probing, piercingly insightful secrets of Wilson’s creative process explicated here. Josh du Lac got some good stuff out of Wilson a few weeks back, like the fact that Phil Spector is “Zany!”

Melekalikimaka. (Al Jardine, Mike Love, 1974) – “’Melekalikimaka’ is ‘Merry Christmas’ in Hawaii talk-a.’” This kind of thing, really, is what this compilation is all about. A powerful argument that Jardine and Love were the real brain trust behind the Beach Boys.

Pearl Harbor Didn’t Work Out, So . . . (Steven E. DeSouza & Jeb Stuart, 1987) – I had a film studies textbook in college that claimed Die Hard was subtly, or perhaps unsubtly, racist, sexist, xenophobic and every other damn thing, just because it’s about a heroic white Reagan-voter who takes down a crew of slumming Royal Shakespeare Company types, including ballerina Alexander Gudanov and some American guy who looks eerily like Huey Lewis. The film supposedly espouses contempt for invading Japanese conglomerates, professional women who eschew their spouses’ last names (lots of stuff about that Rolex on Holly McClane/Gennaro’s wrist that Hans Gruber is hanging on at the end of the movie) and relegates not one but two black actors to sidekick roles. What an awesome movie.

Daddy Won’t Be Home Again for Christmas. (Merle Haggard, 1973) – This just in: Hag’s a shitty father. No clue here what’s keeping him away. Not prison, since he can write that “little check” that he’s hoping, puzzlingly, “will fit.” Is “forget” a really hard word to rhyme?

Sleazy Con Men in Red Suits. (Randy Kornfield) – Jingle All the Way is remembered as an epic, cautionary failure, but which I submit to you is not even among the five worst films released in 1996. Freed from its distracting visuals, the film’s audio, tastefully excerpted here, reveals a surprising profundity and even grace. Well played, Randy Kornfield, well played.

Christmas Present Blues. (Jimmy Webb, ?) – My prose is not worthy.

Snokenstein. (?) – The first of many, many treasures here that I appropriated from Andy Cirzan’s bizarro Christmas compilations as featured each year on Sound Opinions. Andy is on the show again this weekend, and I fully expect him to bring plenty of obscure wonders and oddities that you can bet will show up on my compilation next year.

A Great Big Sled. (Brandon Flowers, 2006) – Nobody will ever accuse Flowers of being a great lyricist, but I would have been delighted to have penned the line “little boys have action toys for brains” myself. I’m living proof it can last a long time. Way better than anything on Sam’s Town, the lyrically-impaired Killers album released a couple months prior to this.

The Ultimate Stretch. (Journey feat. Gov. Arnold Schwarzengger) – I just love hearing The Terminator talk over that opening vamp of “Don’t Stop Believing.” I guess we’ll never know whether Tony Soprano finished all 30 of the pushups.

Reindeer Roll Call. (Kornfield) – Listen to how Arnold is just mercilessly taunting Sinbad as he outruns him. “I’m having a good time now,’bye!” If you’ve seen Pumping Iron, then you know that workaholic salesman Howard Langston is probably the role truest to Arnold’s real-life personality, especially once his competitive juices get flowing. Jingle All the Way really does require repeat viewings to fully absorb its many insights into the Gubernatorial mind.

. . . and many, many more!

Reports of my influence . . .

eagles.jpg. . . would doubtless be greatly exaggerated if they existed at all. Repent, Ye Sinners, because it can’t be long now: The Eagles’ stunningly craptacular Wal-Mart-exlcusive double album Long Road Out of Eden sold 711,000 copies its first week, which in this waning era of the traditional record business qualifies as a massive hit.Let’s put that in perspective: Bruce Springsteen’s Magic, released four weeks before the Eagles opus, sold 77,000 in its debut frame. The Eagles album is an abomination, a heinous crime against taste, and also the best-selling “rock” album of 2007. Henley, Frey, & Co. were the beneficiaries of a rule change at Billboard that that allowed Long Road to be included on the Billboard 200 chart even though it’s not available from all retail outlets.Previously, exclusive releases had been barred from the Billboard 200, which is why Britney was supposed to win the week, having moved not quite 300k units of her “comeback” disc. One can’t imagine that the bafflingly positive tenor of the reviews (save for mine, The Guardian‘s, and the Sound Opinions guys’) had much to do with Long Road‘s popularity among Wal-Mart shoppers, though the $11.88 price tag probably did. After all, that’s a bargain, right? Twenty new — okay, kind of new, not counting the lead-off single from 1972 and the Joe Walsh song from the 1995 soundtrack album to RoboCop: The Series — for under $12. You can’t afford not to buy it!I especially like the paragraph-three quote in the LiveDaily story from Gary Severson, Wal-Mart’s senior vice president of Entertainment, about notifying the RIAA immediately to certify the album’s “multi-platinum status.” Yo, Gary: 711,000 does not equal two million. I’m sure they’ll get there the day after Thanksgiving if not before, but you’re jumping the gun a little, Pal. (Check their excellent values on guns in the Sporting Goods section, by the way.)

“Welcome to the Andy Summers Show!”

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The King of Pain gets some impressive hang time in this band-approved publicity shot not from the Phone Booth show here in DC.

. . . howled Sting, ageless, serene, and in perfect (if lower) voice at Verizon Center Monday night, altering the original “So Lonely” lyric (“welcome to this one man show”) to salute the Police’s prodigious guitarist. Now a determined egalitarian, he did the same for percussionist Stewart Copeland on a subsequent verse.

Retired schoolteacher Gordon Sumner’s newfound magnanimity is the major difference between the Police circa nineteen-eighty-whenever and the Police v. 2007. Having made at least three albums as a solo artist that are arguably the equal of anything he did with his old band, Sting is willing, nay, eager to cede the spotlight to his two mates, granting the 64-year-old Summers, in particular, License to Shred in way he never did during the Reagan Era.

Fortunately, Summers is not just a brilliant axe man but a disciplined minimalist, never allowing the crunchy, angular fills he contributed to “When the World Is Running Down” or “Driven to Tears” more sonic real estate than necessary to achieve maximum sweetass yield. And while Sting did what little talking there was in the 100-minute show, Summers appeared to call the shots, bringing “De Do Do, De Da Da” to a halt with a two-handed “cut” sign just as it threatened to congeal into Christopher Cross territory.

Copeland, too, was agreeably unleashed, leaping between a drum kit and a sort of cage made of seemingly every device ever designed to make a melodic sound when struck with a blunt object, tossing his sticks (or mallets) over both shoulders every time he bolted between stations. He made “Wrapped Around Your Finger” a spooky tour-de-force. His bulging eyes framed by big glasses, a headband, and a headset mic, the Alexandria native needed only a dental retainer to complete the picture of a geek done good. But you couldn’t doubt the rock. You could, however, wonder why Sting kept inviting the audience to mess with his dense polyrhythms by clapping. Less passivity with your aggression, please, Mr. Sumner!

The setlist was a rewind of their headlining Virgin Festival appearance last August, Sting’s banter included, save for a welcome pair of additions from the earlier, crankier end of their catalogue, “Hole in My Life” and “Truth Hits Everybody.” Sting introduced the latter as “a song from our second album, from 1875.” King of Pain? King of self-deprecating laffs, more like!

Was it better than their enervated V-Fest set? Uh-huh. Do we say so because this one wasn’t preceded by a 10-hour stand-a-thon in skin-melting heat? Er, maybe.

A shorter version of this review appears in today’s Washington Post.

Frontin’

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It’s official: My review of the Eagles’ long-awaited (or long-in-the-making, anyway), startlingly craptacular double album is going on to the front of tomorrow’s Style section. It’s my first visit to that coveted bit of real estate, though I’m told the Wille Nelson, Merle Haggard, & Ray Price concert review from Merriweather last month came close.

Thanks for nothing, Don Henley. I already expected I might be in for a little hate mail when the piece saw print, but now . . .

I love Willie Nelson.

So, I submitted my September review requests today, with Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, and Ray Price’s Sept. 6 Merriweather appearance at the top of the list. I’ll take my dad if I get that one. I wonder if Willie will play the tune I found from him on iTunes today: “Cowboys Are Frequently Secretly (Fond of Each Other).”

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It’s a pretty great song, actually. Maybe not as great as the cover image, which of course is included when you buy it from iTunes. Somehow I don’t think this one would go over so well with the crowd of jack-holes who were, apropos of nothing, chanting “USA, USA” when I saw Willie play Wolf Trap in, I think, 2003. But you never know.

The release date was Valentine’s Day last year. Nice.

Oh, I got some play in Freedom Rock again today. Just some talk about carbohydrates.

So. We’ll — and this is not the regal “we,” but rather the “we” that denotes “Klimek and those among his confederates who be not wussy bitches” — all be out the night of Tuesday, July 3 to see those cars who are also robots.

But meanwhile, there’s another, less hirsute, even more powerful echo of my childhood rippling through the public consciousness this week, thanks mostly due to a ubiquitous ad campaign for which Rupert Murdoch has paid a dear price. We’re 19 years and three films on from John McTiernan’s uber-tense, class-conscious, sharply edited original — the film that no less an authority than Entertainment Weekly recently named as the Greatest Action Film of All Time, and certainly it’s in the top five — but it’s link to the imagination that thrived inside my chubby, awkward 12-year-old body in 1988 remains intact. Then as now, that imagination yearned to kill slumming members of the Royal Shakespeare Company while eulogizing them thusly: “Yippe Kay Yay, Motherfuckers!”

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Bruce puts on manly readiness for Die Hard, Part the Fourth.

The PG-13 rating gives me pause. The phrase “directed by Len Wiseman” gives me pause. The presence of Justin “I’m a Mac” Long . . . well, I sort of like him, actually. His performance as Queerbait in Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story showed him to be a mature, insightful actor of surprising nuance, who could also catch a crescent wrench to the nutsack and take it like a man. And so, my fellow Americans, we are faced with a sober choice: Live Free? Or Die Hard?

Or, uh, Live Free or Die Hard? (It’s the summer movie wherein a car fights a helicopter and a jet fights a truck — but they don’t turn into robots!)

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The midnight sneaks are actually tonight. But if we go to see that free screening of Barbarella at the Hirshorn Thursday night at eight, a 10:30 show at Gallery Place of this tone poem to revolution, male pattern baldness, and airborne vehicular manslaughter would be just about perfect. Come on, Guys! Hanoi Jane meets John McClane! As a watershed cultural event, it will be second only to this:

What say ye, Friends? Can I get a witness?