Sunday, October 30, 2005

Images of Imogen - Imogen Heap Live at the Canal Room, NYC, 10/30/05

Imogen Heap played to a packed house at New York's Canal Room tonight and words are hard to find to describe how great her performance was. During the 75 minute set, time literally seemed to stand still, and I was totally knocked out by the total artistry of her performance.

I have to admit that when Dave first sent me to her website, I wasn't quite sure what he was on about, what with the somewhat strange name and the bizarre look of some of the images. Which really only proves that first impressions can be meaningless, as in just a few short weeks, her new album Speak for Yourself (which will be released this Tuesday November 1st) has not only totally taken over my car player but has quickly established itself as one of the best albums of the year. And as good as the record is, it only hints at the musical capabilities of this extraordinary artist. Here are some pictures from tonight's show. I'll be back to post the setlist soon. Remember to click on photos to enlarge.

The instrument above is called an mbira, an African instrument that creates a uniquely compelling sound which Immi uses to great effect in several songs.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Texas Update - New Year's Eve in Edinburgh, Scotland

Texas - Red Book (Mercury, 2005)

The new Texas album is set for release in the U.K. and Europe on Monday November 7th in both standard cd and deluxe edition with dvd. The last album, Careful What You Wish For (2003) was something of a disappointment for some fans, but hopes are high for Red Book. The first single, "Getaway" released in three formats, has been in the racks since August 1st.

Texas - Can't Resist (Mercury, 2005)

"Can't Resist" is the second single from Red Book, also released in three formats (cd single, cd ep, and dvd single) on Monday October 31st in the U.K. and Europe. You can watch the "Can't Resist" video and preview the entire new album at Texas' Website.

Edinburgh's Hogmanay

Texas is slated to headline this year's Hogmanay festival, New Year's Eve in Edinburgh, Scotland. This detailed news article describing the event was posted on the Texas message board. and I am pleased to reprint it here. If anything could ever get me to leave home on New Year's Eve (and nothing has, yet), this might be it.

Texas To Headline New Year Celebrations In Edinburgh.

Scottish stars Texas, KT and El Presidente bring in bells
By Lori Campbell And John Dingwall

SCOTS rockers Texas and indie chick KT Tunstall are to headline this year's Hogmanay celebrations in Edinburgh. Sharleen Spiteri's band and Fife lass KT will be joined by newcomers El Presidente to perform for 250,000 people to bring in 2006.

Organisers said the top line-up of three Scottish acts promised to make the festivities the biggest and best yet. Unique Events boss Pete Irvine said: "This year's audiences at the Royal Bank Street Party will be treated to an irresistible triple helping of Scottish music at its very best." I'm delighted to welcome Texas, who havegone from strength to strength since they last rocked the Concert in the Gardens at the Millennium." Add the exciting new talent KT Tunstall and El Presidente and it goes to prove that Edinburgh will be the place to see in the New Year."

Texas beauty Sharleen Spiteri will be the star attraction. The million-selling rock act last appeared at Princes Street Gardens for the Hogmanay celebrations in 1999 and donated their fee to charity. Once again, however, Sharleen said she planned to be whisked back to her home city of Glasgow as soon as the gig was over. The band were given a police escort along the M8 to Glasgow last time so they could be with friends and family to bring in the New Year. Sharleen is hoping for the same star treatment to start 2006 on a good foot. She said yesterday: "It would be nice to do that again - to be given a police escort back to Glasgow for midnight." There is nothing like bringing the bells in at home in Scotland." We still don't know what time we are on stage but we don't mind what time the show takes place."

The fee for the previous Texas show in front of the castle esplanade was donated to CHAS (the Children's Hospice Association For Scotland). Sharleen and pal Ewan McGregor are patrons of the charity, which provides much needed care to terminally ill children and their families. In 1999, the fee of £100,000 was given by the whole of Texas to the charity. Sharleen said: "It's something we did but it's not a big deal." I am still involved in CHAS. Ewan McGregor and I do a Burns night in London each year."

Texas release their latest album Red Book and the single Can't Resist from it on Monday. It follows the Top 10 single Getaway, written about her break up with boyfriend Ashley Heath. Sharleen said: "The response has been amazing and people have been coming up to us to say it's great that we are back.

St. Andrews-born singer-songwriter KT Tunstall, 30, is the latest Scots artist to take the world by storm. Her acclaimed debut album, Eye To The Telescope, has sold 500,000 copies and was nominated for the Mercury Music Prize. Her new single, Under The Weather, is out on November 21. But just a year ago, KT would never have dreamed she would be headlining Edinburgh's party. She said: "I was singing in coffee shops and pubs." I'd go to the street party and look up at the stage and think, 'How on Earth do you get to play there?'

If someone had told me last year I'd be playing Edinburgh's Hogmanay I wouldn't have believed it." Until we're actually on stage I'm not going to believe that we're allowed on it." KT said she last experienced Edinburgh's Hogmanay in 2001 with her younger brother Daniel, who is deaf. She added: "I was living in an attic flat on the Royal Mile." We went up and saw Moby at the castle then made our way down to the street for the bells. It was just fantastic." It was funny because Daniel needed to go to the toilet and it was a nightmare because I was scared of losing him." He wouldn't be able to answer to shouts of his name and I was stressing." My friend took him to the loo and I said, 'Don't let go of him.' But he came back holding my friend's hand because she'd fallen over in the toilet."

Talented tennis player Daniel, 26, won a bronze medal in mixed doubles at the deaf Olympics in Melbourne last year. KT said: "He's a tennis coach now but I've brought him on tour to show him a different side of life. He's got the video camera so he's filming all the goings-on." He is so proud of me playing Hogmanay. It'll be a lot different from the last time."

KT said she was overwhelmed to be gracing the same stage as Texas. She added: "It's wicked. I met Sharleen out in Germany and she was absolutely lovely." So I'm looking forward to seeing her again. She's such a professional performer and a real inspiration." I've not heard El Presidente's stuff yet so I'm going to buy their album." She went on: "There couldn't be a better way to finish this year." We thought we were all going to sit in a nice pub somewhere and have a whisky. That would have been good enough but to finish the year like this is incredible." It is the gig of a lifetime. So few bands get to do it. It's a joy to get back to Scotland."

The three days before New Year we're going to be on the Isle of Skye recording an acoustic DVD of Eye To The Telescope. I'll have to go back the next day to start writing for the next album. I hope that will work with a hangover."

Scots rockers El Presidente - whose new album is of the same name - promise to bring some funk and hi-octane glamour to the event. Glaswegian lead singer Dante Gizzi - famous for his brightly coloured custom-made suits, kipper ties and polished brogues - said it would be their gig of a lifetime. He said yesterday: "It's going to be the best show of our lives. Hogmanay in Scotland ... for a Scottish band ... it is going to be amazing."

On the stroke of midnight, more than eight tons of fireworks will be set off from the city's seven hills in four minutes. For the first time, the party will be screened live on BBC One. Edinburgh's Lord Provost Lesley Hinds said: "I am delighted that this year's Concert in the Gardens has such a strong Scottish line up and I am sure the three acts will help make Edinburgh's Hogmanay 2006 an unforgettable occasion." Concert tickets, which cost £35 for the enclosure and £30 for the gardens, go on sale on Saturday from The Hub box office in Castlehill, Edinburgh or via Tickets Scotland on 0870 220 1116.

Rammstein - Rosenrot (Universal, 2005)

Also from the Texas message board, courtesy of Rute, comes this link to a free download of a most bizzare track by the German band Rammstein from their forthcoming album Rosenrot (released November 1st), that features guest vocals by Sharleen Spiteri of Texas.
Rammstein - Stirb nicht vor mir // Don't Die Before I Do (Feat. Sharleen Spiteri)

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Tina Dico - Electronic Press Kit

The lastest from Tina Dico is that In the Red went straight to number one upon release in Denmark, however the rest of the world will now have to wait until February 2006 for the international release.

In the meantime, there's a must-see EPK you can see by clicking: You can also download it by right clicking the link and choose "save target as" for an 8:21 Quick Time movie of interview spliced with live performance clips. The download is approximately 38MB; once it's on your computer, right click the file name and choose "open with" and then choose the Quick Time player. It doesn't get any better than this.

There's also a solo acoustic peformance and interview with Nic Harcourt on KCRW's Morning Becomes Eclectic program from 9/29/04 that is archived for your listening and/or viewing pleasure here.

Tina's U.S. website.
Tina's Danish website.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

New Music Tuesday - Imogen Heap

Imogen Heap - Speak For Yourself (RCA, 2005)

Many thanks to Dave from Sony BMG for not waiting for the November 1st release on one of his own labels, to preview by way of the import, Imogen Heap's second solo album, Speak for Yourself. Primed for the mass market by song placements in The O.C.("Hide and Seek") and Garden State("Let Go" by her band Frou Frou), this record offers up an intriguing combination of danceable fat beats flavored with occasional techno or even industrial sounds with some gorgeous multilayered vocals that give rise to Dave's labelling this "progressive pop." There's a lot more going on musically than in your typical pop record, but the multitracked and sometimes electronically processed vocals do have a sound that recalls the glory days of progressive rock. Since this music defies easy description, I'm going to reprint here the editiorial review of the import, from, written before she signed with RCA for U.S. release:

Whether partnered with Guy Sigsworth as Frou Frou, or on her own, Imogen Heap is an enormously gifted singer, songwriter, producer, keyboardist, and programmer. She does it all here on her second solo CD which showcases her remarkable talents. The stunning track 'Hide and Seek' offers the electronic equivalent of a cappella, with only Imogen's expressive voice heard via vocoder -- an early favorite that shot right to #1 on iTunes Electronic Chart in June 2005. The song was also featured on the season finale of THE O.C., and earlier in the season, THE O.C. previewed another track from this album called 'Goodnight and Go', a bittersweet ballad about the secret admiring of a neighbor.

Comparison's have been made to Bjork, Alanis Morrisette, Joni Mitchell and Annie Lennox, among others, but no one can hold a candle to Imogen Heap. Her electronic programming and keyboarding are so textured and layered, you will hear something new with each and every listening. Her canvas is cinematic, operatic, visionary, and always surprising with twists, turns, tangents and breaks that keep the listener on a journey of the unexpected. Whether evoking a hundred piece orchestra, an electric slide guitar, or a simple vocoder, Heap weaves her magic spell. As a lyricist, Heap has a wicked sense of humor, yet can drive a knife right through your heart when you least expect it. Don't miss out on one of the very best albums of the year. No domestic release date scheduled. Megaphonic. 2005.

The impulse to describe new music in terms of familiar reference points is strong, but in this case there's nothing quite like it to compare to. A good starting point, as suggested by Dave, is the video section of her website. Go to "solo videos" and check out "Hide and Seek" the song used on The O.C., a beautiful piece of acapella singing through the vocoder. A word of warning however, the Windows media player will start this video over again when it ends and if you stay through it more than twice, you may not be able to summon the will to turn it off; I normally detest repetition of music but I let it repeat play for a good hour and a half. Dave had a similar experience. Immi, as her fans call her, has been on a U.S. tour since early September, stopping at the Canal Room in New York this Sunday, and I'm looking forward to it.

Wednesday 10/26 update - Imogen was on Morning Becomes Eclectic today on KCRW and you can watch and/or listen to her live performance and interview with Nic Harcourt here.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

New Release Thursday - 10/20/05, Martina McBride & Stevie Wonder

I don't imagine there are too many places where audiences for Stevie Wonder and Martina McBride intersect, but you are visiting one now.

Martina McBride - Timeless (RCA, 2005)

Although I hadn't heard in advance what Martina McBride was up to on her new album Timeless, the concept becomes crystal clear within the first twenty seconds of track one, with the first strains of beautiful pedal steel guitar that opens Hank Williams' "You Win Again." What's happening here is that Martina has recorded an album of standards - no, not the great American songbook as currently being worn out by the likes of Rod Stewart and no, not the obligatory bluegrass album that many country artists record, but these are the standards of classic country music, the songs of Merle Haggard, Loretta Lynn, Ray Charles, Buddy Holly, Tammy Wynette, Ernest Tubb, Buck Owens, and Kris Kristofferson, to name a few.

My interest in country music didn't extend to anything much more twangy than the Byrds or the Eagles until a road trip to Tennessee with my daughters in the summer of 1996 during which we spent some quality time with country radio, including WDLY-FM, Dolly Parton's station in Sevierville, TN. The realization dawned slowly that the songwriting craft in country music was operating at a level of creativity and cleverness that hadn't been heard in pop since the glory days of top 40 radio in the sixties. I didn't take the broad leap all at once, but an appreciation began to grow; a little Jo Dee Messina here, some Ricochet there, even a little Tim McGraw ("Everywhere"), cemented by some seriously funny tunes, some intentionally so, some not ("Time Marches On"). Along the way, the work of Martina McBride kept catching my ear. On last year's Hallmark exclusive Valentine's release, My Heart, Martina really stretched out with some excellent tunes in a variety of different styles.

The eighteen country classics she chose for Timeless, have been recorded with the best imaginable instrumentation and production; the ballads get a simple, open sound of bass, drums and piano, with occasional pedal steel and/or fiddle. Martina's vocal performance is transcendent; she doesn't copy the originals exactly but she gives them her all, and in so doing achieves very likely the best cover versions these songs have ever seen. She sounds equally adept at uptempo production numbers like "I Never Promised You a Rose Garden." I never liked that old Lynne Anderson crossover hit much, but I must say that it sounds great in this version. Even more impressive is that this amazing sounding record was self-produced.

In the liner notes, Buck Owens writes: "When I first heard Martina sing, it sent chills through me. She's one great singer. Very few singers have ever affected me like Martina McBride... As I'm writing about Martina, I'm listening to her sing this group of songs she has gathered together and in my 55 years of being in music, I've never heard them done better..." I was thinking the exact same thing, and that this might just be the best country album I've ever heard. Martina McBride has taken some great historical country songs and made them new and relevant for the next generation of listeners, and in so doing has truly made these tunes Timeless.

Stevie Wonder - A Time to Love (Motown, 2005)

The long delayed new Stevie Wonder album finally hit the racks on Tuesday, after a long ten years since his last new studio album; this being only his third album in twenty years. A recent listen to the At the Close of the Century box set suggests that Stevie Wonder has a secure place among our greatest living songwriters; the wealth of great songs he has produced since the 1960s dwarfs the musical accomplishments of most of his contemporaries. In that light, any new Wonder album is a landmark event, and even though any number of release dates came and went earlier this year, Wonder has earned the right to say when it's soup, and thankfully that day is finally here.

It's hard to tell on first listen (or even first few listens) if the songwriting has the magic that makes his catalogue so special, but I can say after streaming the album all day long today, courtesy of the WJJZ website, that this record does sound great. We're already familiar with two of the songs, "So What the Fuss" was released as a single many months ago, and more recently Stevie has been performing the next single, "Shelter in the Rain" on numerous television shows; the profits from this song will go to the victims of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Wonder produced, arranged, wrote, played most of the instruments, and even conceived the artwork. It may take some time to know if A Time to Love is the masterwork that Wonder fans have waited for, but initial indications are excellent.

On a media tour to promote the release of A Time to Love, Wonder appeared on the Howard Stern show this morning and displayed an amazing capacity both to perform on demand many great songs from throughout his career, and to deal with Stern's sometimes crass but more reverential than usual interview. While fielding everything thrown at him by Stern, the show's staff and callers, Wonder sounded genuinely happy to be there; Stern was thrilled too. Stevie was funny, he was sharp, often seeming one step ahead of the interview; he even pranked Stern with a setup phony phone call. Stevie Wonder is a national treasure and his music is the quintessential example of how something so simple as a song can make life better.

.Stevie Wonder on the Stern Show, 10/20/05

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Veronica Mars - The Complete First Season (Warner Home Video DVD)

One of the best new television shows to debut last season was Veronica Mars (UPN). The following appreciation was written by Joss Whedon, the creator and director of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, and the current movie Serenity, and is reprinted from the October 20, 2005 issue of Entertainment Weekly.

Last year, Veronica Mars' best friend was murdered. Some months later, she was drugged at a party and raped in her sleep. Welcome to the funniest and most romantic show on TV, collected on DVD in Veronica Mars: The Complete First Season.On the surface, VM is a simple Nancy Drew update: High School Girl Solves Mysteries. It's impressive how well it works as just that, because week to week, nothing is harder to pull off than a genuine whodunit, and no show does it better than VM.

But obviously, it's what lies deeper that not only makes the show remarkable but defines it. Mysteries are its central metaphor; Veronica solves little puzzles because she, like all of us, cannot unravel the bigger ones. Her life now turned upside down (additionally, her sheriff father's been fired, her mother's run out, and her True Love has inexplicably deserted her), she's developed a knack for seeing through people and their inevitable fictions. She also has cameras, audio taps, and databases, courtesy of the reduced-to-private-detective dad she works for. She's a super-sleuth, but the show never forgets that her power is born of pain, and that the kids who don't need to see — or avenge — every secret wrong are actually happier and more well-adjusted. Yet our identification is always strictly with Veronica, the girl buffeted by the base duplicity of her peers and the unfathomable vagaries of her own heart.

The teen-soap element of the show is just as compelling as the season-long murder mystery. Nobody is who you think they are. Everyone shifts, betrays, reveals — through their surprising humor as well as their flaws. The show is filled with deft, glorious wit. Creator Rob Thomas and his scribblers give VM more laughs than many sitcoms, and they never grate against the emotional brutality. (So where's a commentary, Rob? The extras are frustratingly thin.) Almost everyone in the ensemble shines, particularly Jason Dohring as Veronica's hypnotically incorrigible nemesis, Logan, and the always impressive (Galaxy Quest, anyone?) Colantoni as Keith Mars, the world's greatest dad. (Seriously. Greatest. There should be a mug.)

At the center of it all is Veronica herself. Bell is most remarkable not for what she brings (warmth, intelligence, and big funny) but for what she leaves out. For all the pathos of her arc, she never begs for our affection. There is a distance to her, a hole in the center of Veronica's persona. Bell constantly conveys it without even seeming to be aware of it. It's a star turn with zero pyrotechnics, and apart from the occasionally awkward voice-over, it's a teeny bit flawless. Season 1 works as mystery, comedy, and romantic drama, often simultaneously. But what elevates it is that in a TV-scape creepily obsessed with crime-solving, VM actually asks why. It knows we need our dose of solution as a panacea against the uncontrollable chaos of life's real mysteries. And it shows, feelingly, that having the answers is never enough.

Veronica Mars is currently in season two, with new episodes airing Wednesdays at 9pm on UPN.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Flightplan (Touchstone Pictures, 2005)

In Flightplan,a taut thriller directed by Robert Schwentke, Jodie Foster plays Kyle Pratt, a mom who has just lost her husband and together with her six year old daughter Julia, is flying the body from Berlin back to New York aboard a jumbo jet. Mom and daughter stretch out for a snooze just after takeoff and when Kyle wakes up several hours later, Julia is missing. After a search of the plane, she is told that there is no record of her daughter ever being on the flight, offering the dual scenarios that either a kidnapping has taken place or that Kyle is just a delusional mom, overcome with grief due to the death of her husband.

Conveniently, Kyle is a jet propulsion engineer, familiar with every hatch, nook, and cranny of this airliner. Evidence such as the child's blanket, stuffed toy, and her heart tracing in the fog of the jet's window suggest that the delusional mom theory has been engineered by the clever kidnappers, and you don't have to be Roger Ebert to figure out early on that air marshal Rich, played with oily effectiveness by Peter Sarsgaard is somehow involved.

It's no giveaway of the ending to say that the woman (and child) in peril sequence that the plot degenerates to, is one that we've seen over and over and over again in the movies. The reason that this is disappointing is that otherwise the movie is really well done. The direction, the cinematography, the casting, and the acting is all first rate, especially the portrayal by Jodie Foster of the frantic yet resourceful mom.

Greta Scacchi appears as a therapist who tries to help in mid-flight; Scacchi's British accent is instantly identifiable, even if they have her looking more like the shrink from The Sopranos. That an actress of Scacchi's accomplishment winds up playing a bit part in an action thriller like this is kind of disheartening, but she does add a little class to anything that she's in.

The tension never lets up as the movie unspools which allows me to give this a conditional recommendation: if you're someone who has the capacity to suspend disbelief and enjoy a well made action thriller, you could do a lot worse than spending ninety-eight minutes with Flightplan. Anyone else will find this plot to be preposterous from beginning to end and should likely take another flight.

Monday, October 17, 2005

WXPN's 885 All Time Greatest Albums - The Big Playback

You can check the complete list of albums and check out the message board at the xpn website. My annotated top ten is here. The last three weeks have been about the most fun one can have on the radio. It's been a great ride and it will be tough to go back to normal work tomorrow. Here are the top 25 as voted by the xpn community, followed by my daily reports, followed by a few stats. Click on photos to enlarge.

The Top 25
  1. THE BEATLES - Abbey Road!!!!!!!!
  2. THE BEATLES – Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
  3. PINK FLOYD - Dark Side of the Moon
  4. BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN – Born to Run
  5. BOB DYLAN – Blood On The Tracks
  6. THE BEATLES – The Beatles (White Album)
  7. U2 – The Joshua Tree
  8. THE CLASH – London Calling
  9. THE BEATLES – Revolver
  10. THE BEATLES – Rubber Soul
  11. THE WHO – Who’s Next
  12. THE GRATEFUL DEAD – American Beauty
  13. JONI MITCHELL – Blue
  14. MILES DAVIS – Kind Of Blue
  15. RADIOHEAD – OK Computer
  16. BOB DYLAN – Highway 61 Revisited
  17. THE ROLLING STONES – Exile On Main Street
  18. PAUL SIMON – Graceland
  19. BOB DYLAN – Blonde On Blonde
  20. VAN MORRISON – Moondance
  21. THE BEACH BOYS – Pet Sounds
  22. ALLMAN BROTHERS – Live At Fillmore East
  23. CAROLE KING – Tapestry
  24. DAVID BOWIE – Ziggy Stardust
  25. COUNTING CROWS – August & Everything After

Bruce Warren & David Dye at Finale Broadcast

Monday 10/17 - The finale celebration at World Cafe Upstairs Live was a great way to end it. Everyone from xpn seemed glad to have the listeners there and the mutual good feelings, energy, and enthusiasm in the room brought the project home on a high note. We'll leave it to the message board denizens to debate whether Abbey Road is really better than Sgt. Pepper (I'll side with Pepper) but ultimately the top ten really represents the soundtrack of our lives, at least for most of the xpn community. At one point, Bruce Warren explained the vote tabulation process; ten points for a #1, nine points for #2, eight points for a #3 and so on, everyone's vote was equal. It took 37 points to make the list at #885, St. Pepper at #2 received 6,267 points, and Abbey Road at #1 received about 300 points more. Bruce, David Dye, and all the rest of the xpn staff, on and off air did a tremendous job producing the countdown; even with its flaws and flubs, radio is rarely so compelling a listen. All I can say is again THANKS XPN!

Helen Leicht & David Dye

Sunday 10/16 - Driving back from Indiana today the playback was done by the time I came back into signal range, but #15 to #11 included Radiohead, Miles Davis, Joni Mitchell, the Grateful Dead, and the Who, leaving two of my top ten still to come in the final top ten (Born to Run and Rubber Soul). No real surprises today, other than that Blue would be the highest placing Joni Mitchell album and that Miles Davis is so revered by the same xpn listenership that voted for Pearl Jam and Guns n' Roses.

The other really interesting thing is that there are no Beatles albums yet in the top fifty from #50 down to #11, meaning that we can expect to hear a fair number place tomorrow in the top ten. On further review, there were no Beatles at all in the top 100 down to #11, the last Beatles album played being Let It Be at #106. The other Beatles already placed are Magical Mystery Tour (#181), Meet the Beatles (#205), Help! (#298) and A Hard Day's Night (#390). So unless I missed one, it would seem that we still have Rubber Soul, Revolver, Sgt. Pepper, White Album, and Abbey Road still to come which would mean five out of the top ten, a remarkable feat for a band that broke up 35 years ago and only recorded for seven years (1963-1970).

We can also count on Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks, Springsteen's Born to Run, Pink Floyd - Dark Side of the Moon, U2 - The Joshua Tree, leaving one more slot; some of the board speculation would include the Clash - London Calling. The final ten play out tomorrow. I'm looking forward to it.

Saturday 10/15 - Now that we're down inside the top 25, I'm only missing five albums per day, but it was nice to be able to connect via the web to check the results and the message board commentary. I have a new appreciation for the joys and frustration that the xpn online listenership around the country must experience being limited to this method of connnection. It would be so great if xpn could get a dedicated channel on Sirius satellite radio, thus having national availability.

Today's playback of #20 through #16 included two Dylan albums, one from the Stones, Van Morrison, and Paul Simon. No surprises there, except that Graceland's charm wore off for me some years ago due to radio overplay, and I think there are numerous albums by Simon with or without Garfunkel that are equally worthy if not more so. Onward and upward.

Friday 10/14 - Going out of town caused me to miss some of the playback today, but I did get to hear down to #37 before the xpn signal went out of range. After that I was limited to checking the list on the website and posting a few comments after the day's playback had ended. Friday's albums were classics all, however I'd still take exception to the high placement of Pearl Jam, Nirvana, and Jeff Buckley although I know they all have their proponents.

That Counting Crows finished in the top 25 was a real shock, I've never found them to be anything but annoying. The Beach Boys' Pet Sounds came in at #21, I think many had predicted that album for top ten. The message board is rife with predictions of what's left however the final order is anybody's guess.

Thursday 10/13 - All the speculation about Close to the Edge by Yes was answered in the 7am hour this morning when Michaela Majoun introduced #81 and started the set with "America" which was not from Close to the Edge but was included on the 2003 remaster as a bonus track, in the single edit short version; the complete "America" was a bonus track on Fragile (see Monday 10/10). Unlike Monday when the same mistake was made during Fragile, Bruce Warren was apparently not on hand to orchestrate a save, and the flub went without any on-air acknowledgement. Even though "America" was followed by a solid two song twenty minute set of "And You and I" and "Siberian Khatru" from Close to the Edge, the damage had been done and a firestorm was unleashed on the message board. My post was one of the more rational (I think):

Posted: 10-13-2005 08:35 AM Post subject: Close to the Edge
I don't think anyone really expected to hear three songs from Close to the Edge being that three songs is the complete album, but to repeat Monday's error with "America" (the short version single edit no less) is a real head-scratcher. It was also maddening to be in the car sitting in I-95 traffic during this with no way to post and getting the Helen-deflector message on the xpn studio line. To hear two songs (one original album side) of some of the best rock music ever recorded is a pleasure in any case, and since both Fragile and The Yes Album both got their due on the countdown, I guess we'll have to agree with Meatloaf that two out of three ain't bad.

For the record, Close to the Edge consists of these three tracks:
01 Close To The Edge (18:43)
02 And You And I (10:09)
03 Siberian Khatru (9:01)

After numerous complaints on any number of threads (one even calling it a "travesty"), David Dye posted a plea that we should all "move on." It wasn't to be as the Yes fans were flamed on the board for the rest of the day as "crybabies" and sarcastic posts requesting "America" appeared at random no matter what album was on. This was seemingly a simple dj error and not a time saver as Helen Leicht played a set a few hours later from Pink Floyd's Animals where the three songs encompassed all but three minutes of the entire album. It was kind of a shame that the Yes fiasco not only interfered with the enjoyment of the set that did air but overshadowed a lot of great music on the countdown today.

It was pretty much heavy hitters all day, but there were still a few surprises. Bruce Springsteen's Born in the USA came in at #80, I would've thought it would finish higher. That Guns n' Roses, Tori Amos, and two Dave Matthews albums finished in the top 100 seemed odd to me as well as David Gray's White Ladder finishing the day at #45. We're down to it now, tomorrow we'll get into the first five from the top 25.

Wednesday 10/12 - It's not as easy to mulitask the countdown and the message board while trying to be productive at work as it was to watch football and read the paper, but on the other hand work was never so much fun as having this radio drama playing out in the background. My first top ten pick came up on the countdown today, The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway by Genesis checked in at #113. Five more from my list are certain to place, however the light of hope has gone out for Del Amitri and Costello/Bacharach.

It's been surprising to me the degree to which artists not customarily played on xpn are showing up in the countdown. In addition to the progressive rock phenomenon I mentioned yesterday, it's amazing how many Beastie Boys albums are placing in the countdown, to name just one example. Yesterday's play of Meatloaf and this morning's play of Michael Jackson and Alanis Morissette generated a lot of heat on the message board this morning, both pro and con. I enjoyed someone pointing out that "rain on your wedding day" is only ironic if you are a weatherman, to which someone else chimed in with "you don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows." Dave Matthews was pretty universally bombed by the message board mafia, as was the Eagles' Hotel California (present company excepted).

The Yes Album was the beneficiary of a perfect set of "Starship Trooper," "Your Move/All Good People," and "Perpetual Change." It would be just about impossible to pick a bad set from The Lamb, but the three songs Helen played bypassed all the great progressive rock on the double album in favor of the title track, "Cuckoo Cocoon" and "The Carpet Crawlers." I'm hoping Helen saw my post inviting her to enjoy this original version of "Carpet Crawlers" and consider playing it again in the future instead of the cheesy fake reunion remake that she is partial to. It was nice to see Damien Rice place at #115.

At the end of the day Bruce Warren posted a schedule for the remainder of the countdown which sets up the top 25 to be played five per day on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, with the final ten on Monday, culminating in a David Dye live broadcast from World Cafe Live Upstairs of the final album with the audience invited to come by and hang out. If I can break away from the office at that hour, I may do just that.

I don't know if it was the result of scheduling, but David seemed to be working under time pressure again today as he made a point to mention several times that he was determined to get four albums played in his 6pm hour, which may or may not have caused what I consider to be the signature track from Joni Mitchell's Hejira to be skipped ("Song for Sharon"). Based on the conduct of the countdown since Monday, I would have given high odds for Close to the Edge getting its full three songs but if the time press is back on, I'm not so sure. I guess we'll just have to hope it falls in the top 25 guaranteeing complete airplay regardless. It'll surely be interesting in any case.

Tuesday 10/11 - Subject: XPN, You Rock!
All Genesis, all the time! Today's 6:00 hour rivalled yesterday's Dead hour and Yes bonus track for countdown playback achieving all of it's potential. We could quibble about track selection - I'd have spun "Dance on a Volcano" rather than the slightly twee "Robbery Assault and Battery" but all the songs on A Trick of the Tail are good so you couldn't really go wrong no matter which songs aired.

But then to follow that with Selling England by the Pound, airing "I Know What I Like (in Your Wardrobe)," "Dancing With the Moonlit Knight," and then I had reached my destination but had to sit in the car to wait to see what the third track would be and David knocked it out of the park by playing "The Cinema Show." Bliss factor nine. Go xpn!

Regarding Meatloaf and the Sex Pistols, I'm having a really hard time imagining anyone, even those who enjoy these albums, considering them as one of the greatest albums of all time. I personally have no use for either, but I love that they're here on the countdown and getting their due with three tracks. It's diversity like this that really gives the countdown it's weight. If if was nothing but Beatles-Stones-Springsteen-U2-Neil Young, there wouldn't be much suspense.

All the progressive rock on the countdown has been revelatory. It's well known that Philadelphia was always a home away from home for bands like Yes, ELP and Genesis but it's really encouraging to see that the reverence for this music continues and flourishes within the xpn community. Seems to me music like this doesn't need to be such a stranger on the normal xpn playlist.

Posted: 10-11-2005 11:03 PM to the 885 message board.

Monday 10/10 - WXPN redeemed themselved big time today for all the shortened sets and missed opportunities to play the best tracks by throwing caution to the wind and letting the music become the prime directive. We had numerous three song sets pause and continue after breaks but best of all we're now getting the most definitve songs from each album regardless of length. The three tracks from Meet the Beatles sounded so great that most listeners (myself included) were wondering how they didn't put this in their own top ten. This generated a fun little argument on the board about whether or not the Beatles are "great." Perhaps the coolest moment came during the playback of Yes - Fragile. Earlier in the day while Simon & Garfunkel's "America" (from Bookends #207) was playing, I had posted a note saying:

Posted: 10-10-2005 10:33 AM Post subject: America
We won't hear this on the countdown because it wasn't on any of their regular albums, but Yes did a killer cover of "America."

Not long after, Fragile checked in at #198 in the 12:00 noon hour. The first track was "Long Distance Runaround" sounding awesome. Next up was Yes' cover version of "America" also sounding amazing, however I and several other listeners pointed out that it wasn't on Fragile; here's mine:

Posted: 10-10-2005 12:39 PM Post subject: America?
Not to complain, I absolutely love this track, but as a nitpick I must point out that this wasn't really on Fragile, it's a bonus track on the 2003 remastered cd as it was previously a non-album track. It's glorious and it's long and it may be one of the best cover version hijacks I've ever heard. Yes' version of the Beatles' "Every Little Thing" is similarly awesome. Enjoy! (and thanks xpn for this in any case).

For track three it was "Roundabout" in all its glory. The Yes fans on the message board begging for "Heart of the Sunrise" were seemingly out of luck. After the third track finished, Helen Leicht put Bruce Warren on the air to say that due to the mixup about "America" not really being on Fragile, in order not to upset "the three song police on the message board," that they would play one more song from Fragile to technically complete the three songs, and on came "Heart of the Sunrise," all ten minutes and thirty four seconds of progressive rock bliss.

All day long the sets did the albums justice without worry about the length (that problem would seem to be behind us now). King Crimson's In the Court of the Crimson King got the title track, "21st Century Schizoid Man" and "I Talk to the Wind," a good twenty-three minutes worth. But the day's biggest shock came during the 1:00 hour when Helen announced that this would likely sound like "the Grateful Dead Hour" when Live/Dead checked in at #196. Playback started with the sidelong "Dark Star" at 23:15 long and never looked back; three full tracks were played, taking most of the 1:00 hour.

What a great save from xpn; all is foregiven, and we can now look forward to the rest of the countdown to be played with the best possible song selection. Surely individuals will continue to argue which is the better track but no longer will tracks be skipped just because they are long. Based on today, I'd imagine they'd even give Yes' Close to the Edge the full three songs, thereby playing the complete album; I think we'll see soon. Strap in, the next week or so is going to be a fun ride.

Sunday 10/9 - It was a highly enjoyable day of multitasking: watching football, listening to the countdown, conversing with other similarly obsessed music lovers on the messsage board, and reading the paper too. Nothing too dramatic today, except the countdown reached its first Springsteen album which I found surprising that Tunnel of Love would be the lowest placing Bruce album on the countdown, but there it is at #225. Jackson Browne and Joni Mitchell checked in as did Van Morrison, Lucinda Williams, Elvis Costello, and John Mayer. The Who - Live at Leeds came in at #250, which I also found surprising that it didn't finish higher, being it's maybe the best pure rock music ever captured on record. I also found it odd that the Doors' Morrison Hotel at #230 finished so much higher than The Soft Parade at #656 and Strange Days at #533. Looks like the major six albums from my top ten will be the only ones placing in the countdown. We've gone through over 600 albums now and none of my picks have hit yet.

Saturday 10/8 - The station's unexplained need to hurry the countdown was put on the table when at noon today Matt Reilly apologized for only playing two songs from Elton John saying that "we're running behind and have to move on." In the next hour, opportunities to play long definitive tracks from Pink Floyd's Meddle ("Echoes") and Genesis' Foxtrot ("Supper's Ready") were skipped, apparently because xpn is trying to get the countdown completed by some arbitrary deadline. This generated some heat on the message boards, and although Bruce Warren was his usual accessible self, both on the air and engaging in dialogue on the boards, his explanations shed little light on the underlying problem.

Lots and lots of great music today as the intensity level increases as the countdown progresses. For a while today it seemed like the early seventies, with the above Floyd and Genesis albums played in the 1:00 hour, and Jackson Browne's For Everyman and Steely Dan's Prezel Logic both aired in the 3:00 hour. The Trinity Sessions by Cowboy Junkies sounded especially good in the car. A few musical surprises for me, including Television's "Marquee Moon" which sounded like a great old Stones song that I'd never heard before. Depeche Mode has eluded me over the years, but sounded really good when Bruce aired it late this afternoon. Toward the end of today's countdown I was in the car cranking the three tracks from Wheels of Fire by Cream, thinking that although I could drag out this cd on any given day, hearing it on xpn in the context of the countdown, made it sound immeasurably better.

Friday 10/7 - Most of the albums today were from the usual suspects, but the happy surprises included a Creedence Clearwater Revival album, Beth Orton, and Al Green & Stevie Wonder back to back. Kind of curious that John Lennon's Imagine placed no higher than #309, thus giving weight to the theory that the voting in last year's 885 greatest songs list would not necessarily carry over to the albums list. Help! and A Hard Day's Night finishing this low (#390 & #298) doesn't bode well for Rubber Soul. Today's countdown playback was extended for an extra two hours, to 9pm.

Thursday 10/6 - Work was a little busy today so I couldn't focus on the countdown as much as I might have liked, but I did enjoy hearing A Hard Day's Night by the Beatles, surprised that it didn't finish higher on the list than #390. It was good to see Mary Chapin Carpenter's Come On Come On make the list, as well as John Lennon's Plastic Ono Band. But the happiest surprise this afternoon came when Joni Mitchell's Miles of Aisles came on and reminded me what a great live album this is, recorded during her assocation with Tom Scott and the L.A. Express, sparking a few related memories posted to the xpn message board:

Man that live Joni Mitchell really sounded great. I'd forgotten what a great record Miles of Aisles is. All or a large part of that record was recorded in our area - some of the older listeners may remember when Temple University's Ambler Campus had an open air music venue. The cover of Miles of Aisles is a picture of the Temple Ambler Music Festival. There were many great shows there in the seventies up until it closed; I recall seeing Bonnie Raitt, Chuck Mangione, an amazing concert by the David Bromberg Band (from the How Late'll Ya Play Till era) and others. I remember Chuck Mangione's dad manning the table at his show, selling records and signing people up to the mailing list.

Wednesday 10/5 - Tales From Topographic Oceans by Yes made the list today, checking in at #435, and if this was the only instance I guess we could forgive xpn for not playing the full three songs, since one track, "The Remembering" (side 2) did get played in its twenty minute entirety. However the countdown seemed to jump the track this morning as Chicago, John Coltrane, Yes, and Frank Sinatra (and possibly others) had less than their three song allotment. The two Sinatra songs were purportedly not even from the selected album. A David Dye post on the message board pleaded the case for shortening sets during morning drive for the sake of listenability and later on in the day one definitely got the impression that there was some kind of rush going on to get as many albums played as possible within the time frame (6am to 7pm).

This generated some spirited discussion on the message board, with most folks just so damn glad to hear any programming that is this varied that they're willing to forgive any transgressions. I'm more a stickler for a project like this to follow its own rules, even if it means forty minutes of dissonant Coltrane music during the heart of morning drive. I'd have gone with the full hour of Tales, and not just because I love the music (this double album consists of four sidelong tracks of about twenty minutes each) . We'll have the same problem with Close to the Edge if it doesn't make the top 25. Three songs is three songs. Anyone who chooses not to listen can simply enough switch to something else for a little while and come back for the next album in the countdown. I really don't get screwing with the format when the station's latest mantra is "it's all about the music."

Friday 9/30 - Starting the countdown during the recent fund drive may have helped the drive, but it was something of a slow start for the listener; now we can jump headlong into it. The scheme is two songs per album for the first 385. Starting at #500 it's three songs and the final top twenty-five will be played in their entirety.

Matt Reilly & David Dye, 10/17/05

Here's how my top ten did:
1. The Beatles - Rubber Soul (1965) - #10.
2. Bruce Springsteen - Born to Run (1975) - #4.
3. Yes - Close to the Edge (1972) - #81
4. Genesis - The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway (1974) - #113
5. Costello & Bacharach - Painted From Memory (1998) - No.
6. Del Amitri - Twisted (1995) - No.
7. The Who - Who's Next (1971) - #11
8. The Rolling Stones - Let It Bleed (1969) - #33
9. Once Blue - Once Blue (1995) - No.
10. Valerie Carter - Wild Child (1978) - No.

Here's how my top ten artists fared:
# 812 – THE ROLLING STONES – It’s Only Rock & Roll
# 805 – THE ROLLING STONES – Aftermath
# 774 – THE WHO – The Who Sell Out
# 741 – THE ROLLING STONES – Tattoo You
# 725 – GENESIS – Duke

# 704 – YES – Going For The One
# 653 – GENESIS – Wind And Wuthering
# 598 – THE WHO – The Who By Numbers
# 561 – GENESIS – Seconds Out
# 524 – ELVIS COSTELLO – Get Happy

# 435 – YES – Tales From Topographic Oceans
# 398 – ELVIS COSTELLO – King Of America
# 390 – THE BEATLES – A Hard Days Night
# 298 – THE BEATLES – Help!
# 292 – THE ROLLING STONES – Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out

# 279 – GENESIS – Foxtrot
# 250 – THE WHO – Live At Leeds
# 238 – ELVIS COSTELLO – Imperial Bedroom
# 225 – BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN – Tunnel Of Love
# 205 – THE BEATLES – Meet The Beatles

# 198 – YES – Fragile
# 181 – THE BEATLES – Magical Mystery Tour
# 155 – BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN – The River
# 140 – BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN – The Rising

# 132 – GENESIS – A Trick Of The Tail
# 131 – GENESIS – Selling England By The Pound
# 123 – YES – The Yes Album
# 121 – BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN – Nebraska
# 116 – THE ROLLING STONES – Some Girls

# 113 – GENESIS – The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway
# 106 – THE BEATLES – Let It Be
# 81 – YES – Close To The Edge

# 67 – ELVIS COSTELLO – My Aim Is True
# 56 – BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN – Darkness On The Edge Of Town
# 55 – THE WHO – Tommy
# 53 – THE ROLLING STONES – Beggars Banquet
# 47 – BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN – Greetings from Asbury Park, New Jersey

# 41 – THE WHO – Quadrophenia
# 37 – THE ROLLING STONES – Sticky Fingers
# 33 – THE ROLLING STONES – Let It Bleed
# 26 – BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN – The Wild, The Innocent…
# 17 – THE ROLLING STONES – Exile On Main Street
#11 – THE WHO – Who’s Next

#10 – THE BEATLES – Rubber Soul
# 9 – THE BEATLES – Revolver
# 6 – THE BEATLES – The Beatles (White Album)
# 2 – THE BEATLES – Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
# 1 - THE BEATLES - Abbey Road!!!!!!!!

Michaela Majoun & David Dye Announce #1

Here's a few interesting entries and surprises:
# 873 – JOHN LENNON – Double Fantasy (873???)
# 871 – DAN FOGELBERG – Souvenirs
# 868 – ALLMAN BROTHERS – Idlewild South
# 836 – LOREENA MC KENNITT – Book Of Secrets
# 834 – EVERYTHING BUT THE GIRL – Amplified Heart

# 809 – JOHN HIATT – Perfectly Good Guitar
# 797 – ROBIN TROWER – Bridge Of Sighs
# 795 – STRAWBS – Bursting At The Seams

# 776 – DIRE STRAITS – Love Over Gold
# 762 – JOHN HIATT – Stolen Moments
# 759 – E. FITZGERALD/L. ARMSTRONG – Ella & Louis
# 740 – GREY EYE GLANCES – Eventide
# 732 – DADA – Puzzle

# 726 – MARK KNOPFLER – Sailing To Philadelphia
# 722 – THE DAVID BROMBERG BAND – How Late’ll Ya Play Till?
# 716 – VINCE GUARALDI TRIO – A Charlie Brown Christmas
# 707 – THE ALLMAN BROTHERS BAND – The Allman Brothers band
# 706 – BRUCE COCKBURN – The Charity Of Night

# 695 – DAVID AND DAVID - Boomtown
# 680 – MARK KNOPFLER – Shangri-La
# 677 – COWBOY JUNKIES – Lay It Down
# 666 – MARY CHAPIN CARPENTER – Stones In The Road

# 665 – THE EAGLES – On The Border
# 664 – CHICAGO – Chicago II
# 662 – JELLYFISH – Spilt Milk
# 656 – THE DOORS – The Soft Parade
# 645 – EMERSON, LAKE & PALMER – Brain Salad Surgery

# 641 – JAMES BROWN – Live At The Apollo
# 636 – EMERSON, LAKE & PALMER – Emerson, Lake & Palmer
# 627 – JETHRO TULL – Stand Up
# 619 – TOM WAITS – Nighthawks At The Diner
# 608 – IRON BUTTERFLY – In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida

# 603 – JACKSON BROWNE – Jackson Browne
# 594 – JONI MITCHELL – Clouds
# 585 – WARREN ZEVON – The Wind
# 583 – FIONA APPLE – When The Pawn…
# 582 – OTIS REDDING – Otis Blue

# 579 – ARETHA FRANKLIN – I Never Loved A Man The Way I Love You
# 571 – WARREN ZEVON – Warren Zevon
# 565 – BONNIE RAITT – Luck Of The Draw
# 564 – IT’S A BEAUTIFUL DAY – It’s A Beautiful Day
# 561 – GENESIS – Seconds Out

# 545 – SHELBY LYNNE – I Am Shelby Lynne
# 543 – TODD RUNDGREN – A Wizard, A True Star
# 539 – THE SHINS – Oh Inverted World
# 538 – JOHN MAYALL – Turning Point

# 535 – SPIRIT – Twelve Dreams Of Doctor Sardonicus
# 533 – THE DOORS – Strange Days
# 525 – EMERSON, LAKE & PALMER - Trilogy
# 517 – DUSTY SPRINGFIELD – Dusty In Memphis
# 516 – BLACK SABBATH – Paranoid

# 515 – THE BAND – Stage Fright
# 513 – JOHN HIATT – Slow Turning
# 512 – DONALD FAGEN – The Nightfly
# 493 – THE GRATEFUL DEAD – Wake Of the Flood
# 492 – THE GRATEFUL DEAD – Mars Hotel

# 490 – PROCOL HARUM – A Salty Dog
# 488 – THE ZOMBIES – Odyssey And Oracle
# 479 – PAUL MC CARTNEY & WINGS – Band On The Run
# 477 – BRUCE HORNSBY & THE RANGE – The Way It Is
# 471 – LAURA NYRO – New York Tendaberry

# 464 – STEELY DAN – Gaucho
# 463 – JETHRO TULL – Benefit
# 461 – LITTLE FEAT – Sailin’ Shoes
# 442 – JOHN COLTRANE – My Favorite Things
# 439 – SHERYL CROW – Tuesday Night Music Club

# 438 – PRINCE – 1999
# 437 – CHICAGO TRANSIT AUTHORITY – Chicago Transit Authority
# 434 – FRANK SINATRA – In The Wee Small Hours
# 433 – STING – The Soul Cages
# 432 – STING – Nothing Like The Sun

# 425 – LITTLE FEAT – Feats Don’t Fail Me Now
# 416 – THE EAGLES – Desperado
# 413 – RENAISSANCE – Ashes Are Burning
# 411 – KEANE – Hopes And Fears
# 409 – VAN HALEN – Van Halen

# 397 – JONI MITCHELL – For The Roses
# 390 – THE BEATLES – A Hard Days Night (Should be higher)
# 388 – AL STEWART – Past Present Future
# 380 – CROWDED HOUSE – Woodface
# 374 – JONI MITCHELL – Miles Of Aisles

# 372 – MARY CHAPIN CARPENTER – Come On Come On
# 370 – JEFF BECK – Blow By Blow
# 369 – JOHN LENNON – Plastic Ono Band
# 363 – LITTLE FEAT – Dixie Chicken
# 349 – AIMEE MANN – Whatever

# 341 – BETH ORTON – Central Reservation
# 309 – JOHN LENNON – Imagine
# 289 – TELEVISION – Marquee Moon
# 282 – PINK FLOYD – Meddle

# 277 – TOM WAITS – Small Change
# 273 – JACKSON BROWNE – For Everyman
# 271 – STEELY DAN – Pretzel Logic
# 267 – BLOOD, SWEAT & TEARS–Child Is Father To The Man
# 265 – DEPECHE MODE – Violator

# 264 – COWBOY JUNKIES – The Trinity Sessions
# 260 – CREAM – Wheels Of Fire
# 252 – THE ALLMAN BROTHERS BAND – Brothers And Sisters
# 242 – TOM WAITS – The Heart Of Saturday Night
# 241 – JACKSON BROWNE – Running On Empty

# 240 – SUBLIME – Sublime
# 239 – JOHN MAYER – Room For Squares
# 235 – DAVE MASON – Alone Together
# 230 – THE DOORS – Morrison Hotel
# 227 – LUCINDA WILLIAMS – Lucinda Williams

# 221 – JONI MITCHELL – Ladies Of The Canyon
# 220 – BUENA VISTA SOCIAL CLUB – Buena Vista Social Club
# 217 – ELTON JOHN – Tumbleweed Connection
# 212 – FAIRPORT CONVENTION – Liege And Leaf
# 210 – KING CRIMSON – In The Court Of The Crimson King

# 208 – BONNIE RAITT – Give It Up
# 197 – JACKSON BROWNE – The Pretender
# 196 – THE GRATEFUL DEAD – Live Dead
# 195 – BOZ SCAGGS – Silk Degrees

# 188 – STEELY DAN – Can’t Buy A Thrill
# 187 – TOM WAITS – Closing Time
# 186 – CREAM – Disraeli Gears
# 178 – THE GRATEFUL DEAD – Terrapin Station
# 175 – HALL & OATES – Abandoned Luncheonette

# 172 – DIRE STRAITS – Brothers In Arms
# 167 – STEELY DAN – The Royal Scam
# 166 – WILCO – Being There
# 165 – TODD RUNDGREN – Something / Anything?
# 158 – TRAFFIC – The Low Spark Of High-Heeled Boys

# 148 – STEELY DAN – Katy Lied
#144 – THE MOODY BLUES – Days of Future Passed
# 138 – TRAFFIC – John Barleycorn Must Die
# 137 – JEFFERSON AIRPLANE – Surrealistic Pillow
# 133 – ELTON JOHN – Madman Across The Water

# 128 – GEORGE HARRISON – All Things Must Pass
# 115 – DAMIEN RICE – O
# 105 – STEVIE WONDER – Innervisions
# 90 – THE EAGLES – Hotel California
# 88 – JONI MITCHELL – Hejira

# 86 – NORAH JONES – Come Away With Me
# 85 – CAT STEVENS – Tea For The Tillerman
# 82 – THE GRATEFUL DEAD – Europe ’72
# 77 – DIRE STRAITS – Making Movies
# 76 – ELTON JOHN – Goodbye Yellow Brick Road

# 73 – JACKSON BROWNE – Late For The Sky
# 72 – LITTLE FEAT – Waiting For Columbus
# 57 – MARVIN GAYE – What’s Going On?
# 54 – STEVIE WONDER – Songs In The Key Of Life
# 47 – BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN – Greetings from Asbury Park, New Jersey

# 46 – LUCINDA WILLIAMS – Car Wheels On A Gravel Road
# 44 – JONI MITCHELL – Court & Spark
# 26 – BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN – The Wild, The Innocent…

And a few headscratchers:
# 846 – ORIGINAL CAST – Rent (soundtrack)
# 766 – BEE GEES – Odessa
# 729 – DJ SHADOW – Endtroducing
# 566 – THE BEASTIE BOYS – Ill Communication
# 554 – ZAP MAMA – Seven

# 551 – AT THE DRIVE IN – Relationship Of Command
# 541 – THE STOOGES - Funhouse
# 530 – THE STROKES – Is This It
# 474 – THE BEASTIE BOYS – Check Your Head
# 368 – DAR WILLIAMS – The Honesty Room (Message board agrees)
# 367 – ANI DIFRANCO – Little Plastic Castles (Back to back w/Dar)

# 358 – INTERPOL – Turn On The Bright Lights
# 356 – THE WHITE STRIPES – Elephant
# 337 – MY BLOODY VALENTINE – Loveless
# 328 – FRANZ FERDINAND – Franz Ferdinand
# 258 – PHISH – Rift

# 234 – Garden State (soundtrack) (Nice collection, but Greatest of all time?)
# 233 – INDIGO GIRLS – Swamp Ophelia
# 229 – CITIZEN COPE – The Clarence Greenwood Recordings
# 228 – JETHRO TULL – Living In the Past (Compilations were not allowed)
# 209 – PUBLIC ENEMY – It Takes A Nation Of Millions…

# 135 – SEX PISTOLS – Never Mind The Bollocks, Here’s The Sex Pistols
# 134 – MEATLOAF – Bat Out Of Hell
# 125 – THE BEASTIE BOYS – Paul’s Boutique
# 122 – RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS – Blood Sugar Sex Magik
# 84 – GUNS N’ ROSES – Appetite For Destruction
# 25 – COUNTING CROWS – August & Everything After

World Cafe Upstairs Live, The Finale Broadcast

Album Counts:
Bob Dylan - 19
Neil Young - 12
Sting/Police - 11
U2 - 11
The Beatles - 10
The Grateful Dead - 10
The Rolling Stones - 9
Bruce Springsteen - 9
Joni Mitchell - 8

Genesis - 7
Van Morrison - 7
Pink Floyd - 7
Elvis Costello - 6
Dire Straits/Mark Knopfler - 6
Led Zeppelin - 6
The Who - 6

The Allman Brothers Band - 5
Billy Joel - 5
Yes - 5
John Lennon - 3
Paul McCartney - 3
George Harrison - 2

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Traffic - The Last Great Traffic Jam DVD (Epic, 2005)

In 1994 Traffic reunited for a new album and concert tour, and The Last Great Traffic Jamdocuments that tour. The setlist for this dvd concentrates on the classic Traffic songs, with just one tune from that year's new album, Far From Home.All the performances captured here sound truly great and are a priceless addition to the Traffic catalogue.

This reunion included only Steve Winwood (lead vocals, guitar, piano, and Hammond B-3) and Jim Capaldi (drums and vocals), being that Chris Wood, the third primary member of Traffic, passed away in 1983; Capaldi has since left us this past January. Playing the sax, flute, and some superb Hammmond B-3 on this tour was Georgia native Randall Bramblett, an accomplished singer songwriter in his own right who has also played with Greg Allman, Robbie Robertson, and the band Sea Level. Rosko Gee joined Traffic in the final 1974 incarnation playing on When the Eagle Flies,and he returned on bass in 1994 for the reunion album and tour. Walfredo Reyes, Jr. plays additional drums and percussion, and Mike McEvoy plays keyboards.

..DVD Screenshot, Winwood (Medicated Goo)

Here's the setlist:

  1. Pearly Queen
  2. Medicated Goo
  3. Mozambique
  4. 40,000 Headmen
  5. Glad
  6. Walking in the Wind
  7. Low Spark of High Heeled Boys
  8. Light Up or Leave Me Alone
  9. Dear Mr. Fantasy
  10. John Barleycorn
  11. Gimme Some Lovin'

..Winwood (Medicated Goo)

The arrangements, production, and sound on this tour were excellent, providing definitive live readings of this classic repertoire. Winwood shows his mastery of every instrument, cutting some mean guitar leads on "Medicated Goo," pounding the signature piano line from Glad in combination with Bramblett's excellent work on the Hammond B-3 organ; Winwood nicely handles the B-3 elsewhere in the set. The trademark sound of "John Barleycorn" is intact here with Winwood on acoustic guitar, McEvoy on keyboard, and Bramblett on flute with Capaldi joining Winwood on vocals. While stating that he would not try to duplicate Chris Wood's parts, Bramblett is nonetheless terrific on sax and flute.

..Winwood & Capaldi (John Barleycorn Must Die)

Capaldi's vocals sound a little gruff as compared to his previous work, but he's effective nonetheless taking lead on the rocker "Light Up or Leave Me Alone" during which he introduces each band member for a solo. Another special moment captured on this dvd is the performance of "Dear Mr. Fantasy" recorded at Chicago's Soldier Field when Traffic opened for the Grateful Dead, and Jerry Garcia sat in on guitar, making this disc essential for Dead fans. This date was approximately one year before Garcia's death and you can see that he's not looking all that well.

..Jerry Garcia onstage w/Traffic, 7/24/94

The only flaw in this dvd is the film direction by Simon Vieler. The camera zooms and dances in a lame attempt at psychedelic effect combined with backstage home movie type clips that are run during the live songs while the music continues on the sound track. The picture while the band plays seems to cut back and forth between several different performances. That by itself would only be a mild annoyance, but the larger bad idea was to cut away from the stage after every song to show backstage footage that serves only to distract from the excellent music going on in the concert sequences.

The backstage footage might have been more palatable if there had been some interviews or any sort of documentary concept, but what you get here is basically scene after scene where the camera is turned on, and the band members are expected to be spontaneously witty for the camera and the end result is tedium at best. This footage might even be interesting to watch if were presented as a separate feature on the dvd but after a few song breaks you'll just want to throw something at the screen; cinema verité this is not.

Fortunately, the quality of the music triumphs over the limitations of the video production as well as the unfortunate choice of title and cover art, making The Last Great Traffic Jam an absolute necessity for every Traffic collection. The dvd also contains a bonus audio cd with live in studio acoustic rehearsal versions of "40,000 Headmen," "John Barleycorn," and "Low Spark," also recorded in 1994.