We have begun a new year and as I stare at photos of the lead singer known as Stipe, I am noticing that we have another thing in common and that is that we both have beards. His has a fair amount of gray in his; mine is still brown-black saving the gray for my temples. He is balding, I need a haircut. He’s wearing glasses. Mine are in a case somewhere. He is 50. I am 37. We both know the lyrics to Driver 8.
However, the staring is just staring and not any ‘longing’. Staring at him and then a white screen wondering what I am going to write about next.
It is not just any new year but the beginning of another decade (although not technically but that is for another site).
Of course if you have been reading this site in the recent past you would admit that things have been pretty quiet around here. If I was Johnny Rotten I might say, “Ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated?”
Honestly, I do too although I am not sure you can just sit to write. I do not get paid to be a fan, the home office is not on speed dial; I do not get backstage tickets, no free albums, no gimmes or anything, but rather when I do this it’s my little place.
Hitting submit on an R.E.M. post is knowing that somewhere out there, a bot is looking for it and wants to respond with a Viagra advertisement and that I find pretty humerous that I am probably talking to more “Code” than anything.
If there is any good reason to give money to a legitimate media source, NPR should be your choice. On top of being impressive on the news circuit, currently they are also streaming, R.E.M. Live At The Olympia.
For the past 15 years or so, R.E.M.'s willingness to dig deep in their catalog could be aptly compared to being shackled to your bed while your partner tortures you...sexually of course. Their live setlists often feature the songs at the shows you don't attend and jealousy persists when they talk about their former lovers (setlists of prior years). Of course, if the band chose to perform such an act it would result in premature ejaculation on your part which would offer no satisfaction to the band. In this release, the shackles are removed and we are graced with an amazing release.
As I have been listening to this album, I am finding very little wrong with it so far. The small errors in the performances give the album some heart, reminding listeners that in the early days, R.E.M. was not about precision but reckless abandon, while the "Whirling Dervish" Michael Stipe would parade onstage. While Stipe is not the W. Dervish that he once was, the band does give listeners a glimpse into soundtracks of the misfits of Generation X. Sure, they are not the band from 1983, but the songs are not treated as some prepackaged tchotchke from China. They do not sound overly rehearsed but very fresh and unique.
Let's just say that before Michael Stipe and R.E.M. formed, he felt a need to ask Vanessa Briscoe Hay, her permission to start up a band. This was probably in part due to Michael's being uber shy and secondly, his admiration for this fellow Athenian band.
Pylon has achieved cult status amongst music fans and this rerelease is a must. Chomp is now available both on CD as well as digitally. It is also the album that 'Crazy', a song that R.E.M. covered ended up appearing on. Check out Athensmusic.net to purchase or you can also get it at Itunes.
If you live in the Chicago area you are aware that autumn seems to be starting early this year. I remember two years ago that the Chicago Marathon was run in 90 degree temps. It felt like Summer, at one point having to have it cut short because of the dangerous temperatures. This year, you can smell the crisp cool air as a prelude to the winter months.
Michael Stipe to Produce Barry Manilow Movie
Part of me wants to run for cover and the other part of me actually has to appreciate it considering that I grew up in a household where my mother played Barry Manilow all the time. His songbook is etched in my memory as part of the 70’s, along with the Six Million Dollar Man, CHIPs, All in the Family, and as far as music is concerned, Dolly Parton and Saturday Night Fever come to mind. Stipe and Single Cell will be looking into developing a movie based on the music of Barry Manilow.
And possibly with a ‘Love Actually’ feel to it, it could work out. Stay tuned.
CIAO My Shining Star – The Songs of Mark Mulcahy
Sometimes I appreciate the tribute to music of the lesser known stars. A U2 “Tribute” record is surely not going to have anyone respect or admire or educate a band about U2. Now there might be small thought that it would be nice to have “Lemon” as a polka song but all in all, tribute albums work much better pitting famous artists and their lesser known icons.
What are you talking about?
The Minus 5 came out with another new album this year?
Well actually they did, sorta. For those that are going to the Baseball Project/Minus 5/Steve Wynn IV shows, there is a cover CD that is being sold at the concession area containing 17 covers done by the Minus 5. This CD according to Scott is not going to be sold in stores, over the internet, at your local grocery store, etc., so unless you are at a show you will NOT be able to acquire this.
‘Butcher Covered’ feels equal parts ‘I Don’t Know Who I Am’ and ‘In Rock’; an eclectic mix of a few hits such as a deconstructed version of Lynyrd Skynrd’s ‘That Smell’, and some Minus 5 favorites including The Modern Lover’s ‘Government Center’. The CD offers a glimpse into some of the bands that have inspired Scott McCaughey and I would imagine Peter Buck over the years, a wide array of talents stretching all the way from the 60s till today.
As I write this brief review, one of the challenges has been to attempt to figure out what songs are actually on the CD. Due to a grand total of 0 liner notes, the song titles, performers, etc. are in many cases left up to the imagination of the listener. In some respects that is a good thing because the songs feel more than just a cover version but rather a Minus 5 original.
Steve Wynn and Scott McCaughey are not just two musicians who I appreciate for their talents on the stage but for their wealth of knowledge in America ’s Pastime; that being baseball. If you listen to the album, the ‘Baseball Project’ it is not filled with the familiar faces of baseball but offers a Ken Burn’s soundtrack into some of the stories and moments that make baseball such as rich part of our culture.
They are richly observant of the faces and names of baseballs past. I can imagine that someone probably threw away their baseball card collections at some point, and can tell the stories about how they owned a Mantle or Mays. One of the big concerns whenever you write an entire album about a sport is that it could turn out to be hokey. In some cases, the stories aren’t exactly happy, i.e. the story of Curt Flood or Mark McGwire were not stories that would seemingly be put on my lists of songs that bring joy and happiness to my life, but they also represent characters who are underappreciated, (see Flood and his role in Free Agency) and tarnished (see McGwire) and steroids.
Thus, Baseball is not the happy-go-lucky sport, but one filled with romance, with loss with pain and exhuberance. It is a sport that is not set by a clock but by outs, so you cannot be a pussy and run out the clock. Currently, teams bring in, a "Closer" for those pressure moments at the end of the game with the game on the line. Maybe this speaks to why I have always loved it, and yet at the same time get the butterflies going through my heart knowing that game is never over until the fat lady is singing.
Luckily there were no fat ladies singing on Friday evening.
Several weeks ago, R.E.M. released a teaser EP of four songs the band played during their time in Dublin, Ireland in 2007. I have been listening to this performance in relation to ‘LIVE’, R.E.M.’s rookie entry into the concert album foray. The first thing that I have noticed about the songs that were played, are their intimacy. We do not hear the emptiness of the concert venue but the thick nasaly voice of Michael Stipe as he serenades the paying audience with Mike Mills playing a mean bass and adding the essential backup vocals and Peter Buck, janglying his way to heaven.
EMI’s announcement of releasing these old singles will probably fall on deaf ears among most R.E.M. fans as there are several reasons why these fall short.
The subsequent songs and their accompanying B-Sides are listed below.
(A) Can’t Get There From Here
(A) Driver 8
(A) Fall On Me
(B) Rotary Ten
(A) It’s The End Of The World As We Know It
(B) Last Date
(A) The One I Love
(B) Maps and Legends (Live)
(B) White Tornado
And while as much as I can appreciate the idea of the 45, the retro single does not work in this case because all of these songs have been released on several different formats already. For the B sides listed, Bandwagon, Crazy, Rotary Ten and White Tornado were all released on Dead Letter Office. Maps and Legends (Live) as well as Last Date were also on several releases most notably ‘In the Attic’ but also on a ‘Deep Cuts’ EP that was also released this year including other re-released tracks of ‘The One I Love’ and ‘Disturbance at The Heron House’ live acoustic versions from the infamous McCabes Show in 1987.
While the singles of these songs claim to be remastered there is no detail as to what the remastering process actually was. Listening to the samples I was not blown away one way or the other.
From a hardcore fans perspective, the singles are ideal for the collector that likes the cover art and vinyl for their collection, something that is lost on these digital recordings.
As the announcement states, these songs are currently available on iTunes and should be available currently in other digital outlets.
Paste Magazine put out what it considers the top 20 R.E.M. Songs of all-time. The best part about this list compared to all of the other lists is that this one is the right list and the others are wrong.
I thought this list was interesting that this list did not feature anything over the last 5 albums.