Monthly Archives: May 2001

Argh! I knew this would happen. It’s such a cliché… Today I found Uplister, which a site very like what Musical Taste would be like if it too had received $6 million in Venture Capital funding. Hey, the team over here at Musical Taste have really made a go of things on our initial $10 monthly investment, but I guess there are limits to what is possible with the resources we (er, I) had…

Anyway, I hate to promote a rival site, but here’s the scoop on uplister – it’s essentially a souped up, sexier version of Art of the Mix, with the dimension of individual song recommendations à la Musical Taste thrown in. In order to take part, you download an application which runs on your computer (PC only – fascists…). This doubles as a browser; you then make personal playlists (you can search their enormous database for ideas or have it fill details in for you). If a song in your mix is not in their database (this happened for 8 of the 12 songs I put in), they add it to the database. I guess this system it open to abuse/errors, but it’s a handy way for them to build up their database quickly, as is proved by the incredible databases at Gracenote (formally CDDB) and Audiogalaxy which use similar methods. Once your mix is ‘published’, links to sound samples automatically appear if they’re available, and there is the same kind of community feel there is at Musical Taste. I suspect my site is more browser friendly, and there is potentially more info for each song on my site (e.g. year, country etc). But aside from that, I have to admit I was in awe of uplister, and I stayed pretty quiet for a few hours after I first checked the whole thing out…

Esther is going to England for a few weeks, leaving on Monday. So starting then, I’m going to try and stop piddling around with my website, buying records and searching on ebay. I’m going to make my own record instead…

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Enjoyed listening to Astrud Gilberto‘s ‘I haven’t got anything to do’ album this morning. It’s from 1970, and is on a Japanese CD which I extravagantly bought at Tower earlier in the year. Actually, Tower has decent prices on some Japanese titles, particularly when they have a $3 off everything sale.

Anyway, I stopped by Academy at lunchtime and picked up three things:
– The World Shopping with Space Ponch. I bought this because it was very cheap and I had a feeling it was recommended on the exotica mailing list a while back. Anyway, it’s ok – synth-laden electro pop with a lot of vocoder and some Jean-Jacques Perrey-style electronic samples (much like the ones Stereolab used on their ‘Transient Random Noisebursts…’ LP.
Kirsty MacColl – Tropical Brainstorm. It might seem as if I’m being morbid, but I really wanted to hear this. She died last year (was run over by a boat or something), and I was pretty sad about it. One of my first records was Kirsty’s rendition of Billy Bragg‘s ‘A new England’. After that I found that she was a very handy popstar to be into – I was eleven years old, and was able to afford her records because they were normally reduced to 20 or 30p in WH Smith… I remember being very young and listening to ‘He’s on the beach’ and ‘Terry’. They were cool records. Anyway, ‘tropical brainstorm’ sounds nice enough. It’s very smoothly produced with a kind of radio-friendly electronic-cuban pop hybrid thing going on. Kirsty still maintains her sardonic, detached vocals, but a lot has changed since the singles of the mid 80s. There is a lot of humor on the album – one song is about cybersex with an anonymous Dutchman. All in all, a weird purchase – I wouldn’t have bought this if she hadn’t died; I probably won’t listen to it much; yet I’m enjoying listening to it… hmm….

– I also bought a used copy of Neutral Milk Hotel‘s ‘in the aeroplane over the sea’. I haven’t listened to this yet, and it was bought entirely on a (very strong) recommendation from Tim, who works for my company. He is so mentally into this band that I figured I’d better check it out. I haven’t listened to it yet, but I’ll write about it here when I do…

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phew, I’m tired; had to run around all over the place today, including taking the PATH train over to Hoboken to retrieve my credit card, which I had managed to leave in the CD store TUNES on Washington Street when I was there on Saturday. I don’t feel as if it has been an especially music-packed few days; nevertheless I have some purchases to report:

Last week, I forgot to report Africa Funk – I managed to pick up this great compilation used in my favorite store, Academy. It’s very cool, even though the tracks are longer and more repetitve than a lot of the stuff I listen to. It is a collection of funky stuff which came out of Africa in the years following James Brown‘s breakthrough. It is irresistably funky.

In Tunes in Hoboken, I picked up some nice used CDs:

  1. Cool Hand Luke (soundtrack) – Lalo Schifrin
    This is quite cool, although not utterly brilliant from start to finish like some of his stuff is. Sounds like there are some quite groovy tracks though…
  2. Stack o Tracks/Beach Boys Party – Beach Boys
    This one is really interesting. ‘Beach Boys Party’ is literally a live session the band recorded in a studio, apparently with lots of friends and lots of beer. They do some interesting cover versions, and it’s surprisingly listenable. ‘Stack o Tracks’ is a selection of backing tracks (no vocals) to some of the band’s best songs, including ‘God only knows’, ‘Surfer Girl’ etc. Although I wish I could have chosen the tracks myself, (there are certain tracks by the band I really love) it’s a great thing to own, and I’m sure I’ll be doing karaoke versions at home before too long.
  3. The facts of life – Black Box Recorder
    I bought this new for esther. It’s actually pretty good – the singer talks a lot as well as singing, which sounds quite cool, and the lyrics are very entertaining. They sometimes end up sounding a little bit like the group Garbage‘s better moments.
  4. Mwng – Super Furry Animals
    Finally found a cheap copy of SFA’s latest album. It’s lavishly packaged and entirely welsh. Sounds pretty good, but as with most of their stuff, I will need to give it time.
  5. hmm, I’m sure there was something else. Ah yeah, ‘Songs from the soil’ – Ramsey Lewis
    I’ve been getting very into Ramsey Lewis recently. I had the impression that he was a hack, but that seems to have been misguided. This set from 1959 is excellent, and nicely complements the funky late 60s stuff by him I have on vinyl.
  6. I’m pretty sure that’s it.

I also picked up a couple of things very cheaply at Norman’s on 4th Avenue at 7th St – Bossa Nova by the Pixies (for me) and Blur by Blur (for esther).

Really enjoyed hearing the Mojo club vol 7 compilation last night. More souley than anything I would end up buying on vinyl, but pretty cool nevertheless.

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I just found a cool music retailer, MusicWeb. Why are they cool? Because they sell lots of brand new old UK indie stuff for like $1 or $2, that’s why! Picked up some Popguns and McCarthy stuff, so can pretend I’m 16 again!
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Bar D’O was cool. Anita was DJing and I really enjoyed her set. She had some album by Lee Evans on MGM which had a great upbeat choppy piano groover on it. Very cool. I had only heard of this guy through an album he did on the Command label. Will have to check him out.

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I was listening to some old shows on WFMU via a radio on demand webcast they have. I had to install the dreaded Realplayer in order to do this, but it was well worth it. Irwin Chusid’s show with Otis Fodder as guest was very entertaining and cool…

I’m off to Bar d’O later for the monthly In Hi-fi party later, which will be nice. I have a sociable week going on – yesterday I was at DJ Lucien‘s party at Windows on the World, which seems to be still going strong after 4 years…

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I remembered what else I bought at the WFMU fair. George Duning‘s ‘The World of Suzie Wong’ soundtrack from 1960. It’s a superb soundtrack, featuring the awesome ‘At the Namkok’, which I first heard on the highly recommended ‘Cocktail Mix vol 4: Soundtracks with a Twist‘ compilation (apparently now out of print; I highly recommend tracking it down used). Funny though – either something shifted in me or something’s in the air, because I really don’t feel like listening to anything from the early 60s these days. I’m sure this will change in the future, but right now its late 60s early 70s all the way.

I found a couple of nice records on the street yesterday. I was down at 4th Avenue and 11th street checking out the new Academy Vinyl store. I picked up the last Sergio Mendes and Brasil ’66 album, ‘Stillness’, and Henry Mancini‘s ‘Charlie’s Angels’ disco album (I have and quite like his other disco LP, ‘the copy show themes’) for a buck each. The Mancini is fun, like I expected. The Sergio Mendes, on first listen at least, is a great album. I had heard mixed things about it, and I can see why – it’s definitely less coherent and unified sounding than the earlier brasil 66 albums. But I think that actually works in its favor. As well as the groovy cover versions ‘Chelsea Morning’ and ‘For What it’s Worth’, which I had heard before, there were lots of other great tracks, many of them more understated than a lot of their stuff, but really great anyway.

The David Axlerod ‘Heavy Axe’ LP is good, if rather mixed. The first side, which is mostly cover versions (e.g. ‘you’re so vain’) is a litle cheesy for me. The vocals are prominent than I would have liked as well. The second side is much better, and is mostly originals, including the superb ‘Everything Counts’, which is a new version of my favorite ‘Holy Thursday‘. It’s slighly spooky, laid back funky stuff, with a lot of electric piano. Nice to have, and definitely pretty different from lots of the stuff I own.

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I just stepped out of the office for half an hour because some guys were here fitting a new air conditioner. Beautiful day here. Managed find a copy of David Axlerod‘s Heavy Axe on the street for $3. It’s from 1974, a little late for me, but gives the impression of being a bit more accessible than some of his work, so I’m optimistic. Plus, there are some people selling reissue copies on ebay who say it’s very funky, or ‘seriously illin’ as they put it. Let’s hope they aren’t just trying to sell it.

I bought another great thing on Saturday – I found a discounted copy in Sounds of ‘Up!‘, an Italian early 70s funk/ez compilation on the Schema label. On first listen, this sounds absolutely great, and really rises above the hoardes of other italian comps, many of which are too samey for my tastes. This one has quite a hard groove to it, rather like the UK ‘Blow up vol 1′ CD I used to own. Very cool!.

I meant to say, I listened to the Stereolab Fluorescences EP and thought it was excellent. I’m trying to figure out exactly when this came out. I don’t have the ’emporor tomato ketchup’ album, so maybe it was from that. It certainly sounds like it is pre-‘dots and loops’. I enjoyed the David Holmes CD less. I think it’s the kind of thing you have to really give your full attention to – the songs seem to fit together to form a narrative . I didn’t really give it the time yet…

Another thing I was really enjoying over the weekend was my copy of Francis Lai‘s ‘I’ll never forget whatsisname’ soundtrack (on vinyl). The main theme, ‘cambridge’, is incredibly sleepy, but there are some really cool ‘party’ cuts with a cool late 60s ‘shake’ feel interspersed. All in all, at least 5 really great tracks, which is pretty good for a soundtrack.

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So, the WFMU fair in brief: I went for 3 hours on Friday night. Weird place to be at that time, after a long week at work. I felt pretty jaded, to be honest, and not really up for it. I had a much needed pizza break in the middle. In general, I guess my tastes have changed slightly. I found myself lamenting the paltry selection brazilian music there, and wishing the jazz could be neatly sorted by label like it can when you are searching on the internet…

Anyway, my purchases in full, in order of most memorable:
1. Don Sebesky – the jazz/rock syndrome. This is a really great LP -funky, slightly brassy late 60s instros. Apparently Sebesky made the LP after becoming bored with ornate jazz scoring, and becoming obsessed with the Mama’s and Papa’s. This was sealed and quite pricey, but worth it.

2. Kenyon Hopkins – Mr Buddwing. I scored a sealed copy of this great (1960?) soundtrack. It’s beautiful, understated cinematic crime jazz with a lot of vibes. Very cool, although slightly less my thing than it would have been 5 years ago.

3. Marty Gold – Classic bossa nova. How could I not buy this one! I love pop-classical records, whether they are classical interpretations of pop (e.g. ‘Bacharach Baroque’) or pop interpretation of classical (e.g. Caterina Valente singing ‘My Reverie’ on ‘Superfonics’, or Cy Coleman‘s ‘Ages of Rock’ album). This is the latter, a nice album of bossa nova takes on classical pieces. It’s pleasant, if not exactly earth shattering. I think this one was recorded in 1964, like many bossa nova cash-in records.

4. The Ray Bloch Singers – Hits of 67. I bought this after the group were recommended by musical taste user tinks. It’s a pretty wild, low budget affair. I like it though! Esther’s comment was that ‘these people don’t sing, they shout’!

5. Galt Macdermot – Disinhairited. I bought this because it was cheap and sealed. I was hoping it was going to be an instrumental offshoot of hair, like Galt Macdermot’s ‘Hair Pieces’, Mort Garson’s ‘Electronic Hair Pieces’ and countless other albums. Instead, it’s just more of what is on the Hair Original Cast Album. The vocals kind of bug me, I can’t help it! Esther is big on it though, so it’s not a complete waste of money.

6. Idris Mohammed – < can't remember the title >. This is a late 70s record; this guy looks cool as hell on the cover, and he did some drumming with Galt Macdermot in the 60s and 70s; it was cheap, so I thought what the hell. It really isn’t so hot though. There are some really cheesy-cool sounds which could be sampled, but overall the songs are long and a bit stupid. The guy who sold me this told me a tidbit about the woman he was married to. I forgot immediately though.

7. The Association/Charles Fox – Goodbye Columbus OST – I haven’t really listened to this yet; see below for a story about it.

8. Hmm, I must have bought something else. But I can’t remember. It really can’t have been very memorable!

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Goodbye, Columbus

Something really weird is happening.

Some forces somewhere obviously want me to know this story.

The weekend before last when I was out in Long Island, I bought a book by Philip Roth from the thrift store, which had apparently just been dropped off by some one. To be honest, I didn’t really notice the title; just that it was short stories. The cover is a rather elegant 60s design, and the text is printed in a handwritten style and is not all that legible.

On Friday I was at the WFMU fair (more on that later), and amongst the records I bought was the soundtrack to ‘Goodbye, Columbus’, by 60s pop greats The Association and Charles Fox (who also had something to do with Bob Crewe‘s Barbarella soundtrack). Anyway, it had been on my mental ‘wants list’ for a while; ever since I heard the title track on an In Hi-fi compilation by Scott. I didn’t know what it was at the time, but figured it out later from the words.

Then on Sunday I was down at the street sale on Avenue A at 12th St, nyc. I was amused to see the VHS video of ‘Goodbye, Columbus’ on sale at $3, and picked it up. Esther and I watched it last night. It was very enjoyable; kind of a weird movie though. The main character has a chin like Rowan Atkinson as Mr Bean. The cinematography was beautiful, and it was nice to finally see Ali MacGraw acting – I think I’d previously only seen her on soundtrack covers (e.g. Love Story; this is a theme with me – I have seen very few movies, and tend to know soundtracks and/or their covers first). It’s a tale of a young couple from different backgrounds. He lives in the Bronx, she lives in Westchester. They’re both Jewish, but he works in the library and is poor; she is at radcliffe college, lives in a huge house and is pampered. Her parents disapprove of him, but put up with him. There isn’t a great deal of plot, but there are lots of nice moments, and a few great ‘party scenes’ where people are frugging away to a cool mod beat (I must check out that soundtrack!).

Shortly after the movie ended, I reached over picked up the Philip Roth book and found it was ‘Goodbye, Columbus’. I was a little weirded out. I guess my subconscious must have logged the title, but I had no idea. It feels as if someone has taken the movie, the book and the soundtrack and shoved them in my face, like someone giving you a magic key in a dream.

So now I’m reading the book quite avidly, just in case there’s a special message in there for me.

Probably just coincidence, but isn’t that odd!

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