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Any Major Awards 2008

December 30th, 2008 18 comments

Last year I inaugurated the highly prestigious and sought-after The Major Dude Awards, recognising musicians and bloggers for their sterling that year. Alicia Keys’ people were so excited, they told DivShare to delete the album track I posted. Oh, the days of innocence when The Man just had links deleted…

I’ve already posted my Top 20 albums of the year, so I’ll dump the music section (after all, Dave Grohl never acknowledged winning the Rock Album of 2007 Major Dude award), and concentrate on my fellow bloggers instead. With song dedication, some of which may be obvious, others are inspired by private observation (for example, I discovered one blog onTotally Fuzzy through a post on old German music).

This year, I’ve modified the categories a bit, and skipped the nominations process. To be truthful, I almost didn’t do this awards post because I feel guilty about not mentioning so many of the fine blogs which have provided me with so much enjoyment, entertainment and education. If your blog didn’t win its category, be assured it probably came a close second. I’ve decided to disqualify last year’s winners from consideration; all of them (well, those still active) are still among my favourite reads. And Whiteray from Echoes In The Wind remains something of a legend among music bloggers. The doyen…

And now, ladies and gentlemen, presenting the first award of the night is recording superstar Barbra Steisand and football legend Pat Crerand.

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Album blogs:
Most album blogs just upload a CD or twelve without comment, and you download it. I have no problem with that; some of these blogs offer extraordinary and tough-to-find material. I am grateful for their existence and the efforts made. Other blogs offer commentary and/or reviews, and that extra input is the difference between a good take-away and a good eatery. The winner then is like a restaurant run by a TV chef (but not that hateful Ramsey guy). It goes the extra mile of offering highly educational mixes with commentary, often presented in form of a series. Almost like a university course.
And the winner is: ZAKKORAMA

Performing tonight in honour of the winner is:
Hans Albers – Auf der Reeperbahn.mp3

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Singles blogs:
Oh, the choices. I said I wasn’t going to single out any particular non-awardee, then made a list of blogs that merit an honorary mention, and then dropped the idea when that list ran to a dozen or so names. I’ll single out Fusion 45 for uploading Rodriguez’s I Wonder especially for me. But the winner merits the award for his astonishingly prolific rate of posts (551 in seven months!) with intelligent commentary, imagination and a wide range of subjects.
And the winner is: SibLINGSHOT ON THE BLEACHERS

Performing tonight in honour of the winner is:
Sandy Bull – Memphis, Tennessee.mp3

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Comedy blogs:
There aren’t very many of those around, so nominations were limited. But the winner is one of the most impressive blogs in any category, the sort of blog that is manically updated every 12 seconds with material that makes you wonder: where do they get that kind of stuff from? And who listens to that? Well, quite a few people, evidently. I mean, who wouldn’t want to check out the music that goes with the album covers depicted on the many “the worst cover art of all time” websites. This is a blog where the wonderfully bizarre lives.
And the winner is: DR FORREST’S CHEEZE FACTORY

Performing tonight in honour of the winner is:
Mrs Miller – Downtown.mp3

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Music blogs:
This is a deliberately vague category. Here I’d like to honour a blog which provides me with a musical education. Echoes In The Wind, a winner last year, is one such blog, AM Then FM is another (great new post on Bobby Gentry). This year, the gong goes to a quite new blog which is superbly written, highly erudite and features music I often have never even heard of. I am always in awe when I visit. Should you require illustration of just how brilliant the blog is, perhaps this post on the various versions of Kris Kristofferson’s Help Me Make It Through The Night might help make my case.
And the winner is: THE GENTLEBEAR

Performing tonight in honour of the winner is:
Frank Sinatra & Celeste Holm – Who Wants To Be A Millionaire.mp3

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Mixed media blogs:
Another new category, to cover blogs that post music, but only incidentally. The winner is always among the first blogs I open when I trawl through my bookmarks. As I noted here a few weeks ago, the winning blog also influenced me in a small way. The concept is simple: photographs, mostly of buildings, and a song that in some way relates to the photo. It works beautifully. The photos provide a glimpse of intriguing sights which most of us probably would not even notice, and the songs are selected with care and knowledge from what must be an impressive collection.
And the winner is: ALL EYES AND EARS

Performing tonight in honour of the winner is:
Loudon Wainwright III – The Picture.mp3

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Non-MP3 blogs – Music:
I was considering sharing this award three-ways. MyHmphs – the name is an exasperated play on the title of possibly the worst song ever recorded – is well written and presented, offering views which I almost invariably agree with. It’s a nice blog to hang out at. Uncle E is busier, investing much humour in his writing (the fake biographies of rock acts are very good indeed). Both are among my favourite blogs; so much so that when MyHmphs went on a bit of a hiatus, I hassled him to get back to posting. But the winner snags the award for his depth of writing, over a long period of time, with excellent CD reviews and some innovative ideas, such as analyses of big acts’ least respected albums.
And the winner is: 3 MINUTES, 49 SECONDS

Performing tonight in honour of the winner is:
Pixies – Where Is My Mind.mp3

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Non-MP3 blogs – General:
This year, I spent much time on some fantastic blogs dealing with the US election, and I always get a kick of Stay-At-Home Indie Pop’s all to sporadic posts, and a few other blogs dealing with, well, life and culture. But the best non-music blog takes as its focus a subject dear to my heart: sex. The winning blog discusses the subject from a male point of view. Where many such blogs might go all blokey and investigate such pressing matters such as readers would prefer to shag Jessica Alba or Halle Berry, or how to obtain your partner’s consent to engage in anal sex, the winning entry (dyswidt) takes a much more integrated approach. Subjects range from the art of flirting to frienditis — when the object of your desire sees you as just a friend (argh!) — to Nottingham’s Mr Sex’s reviews of sex toys for men, plus a column where women can find out just what the guys are thinking. The blog treats sex with respect, and it does so with a massive dose of sharp humour. Best of all, the comments section is essential reading. I can’t wait for the book of the blog!
And the winner is: TODGER TALK

Performing tonight in honour of the winner is:
Marvin Gaye – Sexual Healing (Extended Version).mp3

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And, as last year, a huge, massive round of thanks to the wonderful people of Totally Fuzzy, the most important music-related blog of them all.

Having dished out praise, I want some myself (now, how does one insert an appropriate winking emoticon into a post?). Well, I’d be interested to know from the regular readers of this blog — all four of them — what they have enjoyed here this year, where they thought I wasted their time, and where I simply annoyed them. Feedback is always welcome; now seems a good time to solicit it. The comments section is free.

A couple of words on some of the songs: Sandy Bull’s Memphis, Tennessee is a marathon mind-fuck instrumental the recording of which in 1965 might have involved the consumption of mind-altering drugs. Hans Albers’ song is a German classic from the 1930s, pretty much the anthem of German drunkards everywhere (incidentally, English-speakers, Reeperbahn is not pronounced Rieperbahn. Listen to Albers pronounce it). I dont know if Mrs Miller requires introduction. If she does, Downtown is a good place to start. Note the great part when she gets the lyrics in a twist but, flustered or not, troops on like the trooper she was. And the whistling part is one of the most legendary in pop music.

And with that, a Happy New Year to all. May 2009 bring lots of love, happiness, peace and health in the order of your preference.

Any Major Funk Vol. 5

December 26th, 2008 4 comments

 

Just in time for New Year’s Eve, the fifth Any Major Funk mix. amf5As always, this is serious disco from the golden age of 1978-1983 (with two songs falling on either side of that timeframe). Joyful, funky, dancable. But not suitable for hilarious Afro wigs and Travolta dance moves. And as always, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R.

The song of particular interest here is the opener, Loleatta Holloway’s Love Sensation, written by Dan Hartman and recorded with the backing of the Salsoul Orchestra. The song was liberally sampled on the big dance classic a decade later, Black Box’s Ride On Time. In the video we saw a young, lithe woman incongruously belting out the lyrics. The deception was exposed (though legally it was not fraud, because Black Box paid Salsoul for the samples off Love Sensation).

While Love Sensation hints at the emergence of Hi-NRG a few years later, Two Tons O’ Fun’s I Got The Feeling could be regarded as the first Hi-NRG hit (as opposed to its Euro Disco progenitor), or at least as a link between the disco funk of, say Chic, and the Hi-NRG sound of the mid-80s. A few years later, the group’s two singer went on to to record one of the defining Hi-NRG hits: It’s Raining Men, as the Weather Girls.

TRACKLISTING
1. Loleatta Holloway – Love Sensation (1980)
2. Two Tons O’ Fun – I Got The Feeling (1980)
3. The Jacksons – Shake Your Body (Down To The Ground) (1979)
4. Cheryl Lynn – Shake It Up Tonight (1981)
5. S.O.S. Band – Take Your Time (Do It Right) (1980)
6. L.T.D. – Back in Love (1977)
7. Instant Funk – I Got My Mind Made Up (1978)
8. Phil Fearon & Galaxy – What Do I Do (1984)
9. Commodores – Lady (You Bring Me Up) (1981)
10. Shalamar – There It Is (1982)
11. Mtume – So You Wanna Be A Star (1980)
12. Teena Marie – I Need Your Lovin’ (1980)
13. Change – A Lover’s Holiday (1980)
14. Evelyn ‘Champagne’ King – If You Want My Lovin’ (1981)
15. Melba Moore – Mind Up Tonight (1982)
16. France Joli – Feel Like Dancing (1979)

GET IT!
(PW in comments)

More Any Major Funk
More Mix CD-Rs

Categories: Disco, Mix CD-Rs Tags:

Any Major X-Mas Mix

December 19th, 2008 14 comments

For the less cynically inclined, here is my second Christmas mix. Some of the featured songs here are quite brilliant. Donny Hathaway’s This Christmas is a contender for the greatest seasonal song ever (my nephew rates Ron Sexsmith’s song as his all-time Christmas favourite Christmas). Rosie Thomas’ offering is my favourite this year, and by rights it will become a seasonal classic. Lou Rawls, Otis Redding and the Temptation all do something quite special with their respective classic songs. But Christmas is a bit cheesy, and a good mix needs songs one would otherwise not wish to hear.  Including the ghastly Dana here is a bit like bringing Ayn Rand to your Socialist Workers Christmas Party. But where Ayn Rand was a vastly overrated writer (or, indeed, intellect), Dana does pretty well with her song, which owes everything to the sound of early Abba. And I still delight in instantly earworming a former colleague with Here Comes Santa Claus, from the classic Phil Spector Christmas album, just by menioning it.

This is all from me before Christmas. Next week I’ll consider my favourite blogs of the year. Have a joyful Christmas all!

TRACKLISTING
1. Twisted Sister – Deck The Halls
2. Smashing Pumpkins – Christmastime
3. Donnie Hathaway – This Christmas
4. Lou Rawls – Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas
5. Rosie Thomas – Why Can’t It Be Christmas Every Day
6. Colbie Caillat – Mistletoe
7. The Weepies – All That I Want
8. Ron Sexsmith – Maybe This Christmas
9. They Might Be Giants – Santa’s Beard
10. Belle & Sebastian – Christmas Time Is Here
11. Nicole Atkins – Blue Christmas
12. Carpenters – Merry Christmas Darling
13. Kylie Minogue – Santa Baby
14. Bruce Springsteen – Santa Claus is Coming To Town
15. Dana – It’s Gonna Be A Cold Christmas
16. BB Jeans & the Bobby Sox – Here Comes Santa Claus
17. Gerry & The Pacemakers – All I Want For Christmas
18. Jackson Five – Give Love On Christmas Day
19. Otis Redding – White Christmas
20. The Temptations – Silent Night
21. Aaron Neville – O Little Town Of Bethlehem
22. Lisa Loeb – Jingle Bells
23. The Young Republic – Merry Christmas Again…

GET IT
or HERE or HERE or HERE or HERE

 

Categories: X-Mas Tags:

Rudolph – Victim of prejudice

December 15th, 2008 7 comments

We have seen the story played out in countless movies: a marginalised and victimised member of a society finding inclusion after turning his handicap into a communal benefit. So it is with Rudolph, the red-nosed reindeer.

Rudolph, a victim of prejudice, and his boss.

Rudolph, a victim of prejudice, and his boss.

We don’t know much about Rudolph. The song reports that due to a birth defect or medical condition the reindeer has a shiny, virtually luminous red nose, quite in contrast to his black-nosed peers. These evidently have taken to numerous ways of bullying Rudolph, presumably on account of his red nose. The bullying seems to take on the form of abuse directed at the physical non-conformity as well as deliberate marginalisation from social activities. It may well be that the alienation is prompted by other, perhaps related factors. Perhaps Rudy is excessively shy (a disposition which in itself may be rooted in physical differentiation), or perhaps he is rude (a defence mechanism). Perhaps his unglamorous name influences the group dynamic; like children, reindeer can be cruel, and if your name is as dreary as Rudolph, it may be difficult to gain acceptance in a clique which comprises individuals with such remarkable names as Donner, Blitzen and German favourite Vixen which would not be out of place in the line-up of a glamorous heavy metal band.

But we don’t know. All the song tells us is that Rudolph is being bullied, almost certainly on account of his red nose. But then circumstances beyond the group’s control intervene. Bad weather seems to preclude the execution of an important task: the annual delivery of presents to all good children in the world (an inaccurate characterisation, of course; many good children receive no gifts, and many unattractive juveniles will benefit richly from material bounteousness; as Bob Geldof reminded us in poetry when he reminded us that, departing from metereological norm, there won’t be snow in Africa this Christmastime). The CEO of the organisation hits on an unlikely plan: Rudolph’s incandescent nose can double as a headlight, aiding the navigation of his transporter in unfavourable weather conditions. As we learn, the innovation works. Rudolph, having saved the day, finds immediate acceptance, and even a level of celebrity, among his peers. The heavy metal singers presumably act with magnanimity, perhaps patting Rudy on his back and letting him play the bass guitar.

Superficially, the song celebrates the conquest of social exclusion as a response to deviation from the norm. It celebrates the notion that everybody has something to offer to the common good. These are commendable sentiments. However, we ought to question why these impulses to exclude others from social structures on grounds of defects, inherited or caused by illness, exist in first place. How much more in keeping with the spirit of Christmas might the song be had it addressed this specific characteristic of social dynamics more constructively?

Moreover, how much more valid a testament to the season of reconciliation might the song have been had Santa Claus, apparently an equal opportunities employer, taken concrete action to put a prompt end to Rudolph’s discrimination when the problem initially arose. His failure to afford Rudolph protection is aggravated by his opportunistic exploitation of Rudolph’s perceived defect. The episode’s conclusion — Rudolph’s acceptance into the group — is purely accidental. Santa used Rudolph’s distinctive attribute for purposes other than effecting that outcome (though he may well have welcomed it).

Without due intervention, Rudolph’s social rehabilitation could not have taken effect otherwise. But with poor Rudolph there must reside a bitterness that the imperfection that once assured his exclusion is now the cause of his celebrity. He is not being received into the group on his own merits, but on basis of a deep-seated hypocrisy. Moreover, he had to prove his usefulness to the group before being incorporated into it. In other words, the other reindeer’s acceptance of him is not founded in their regard for Rudolph, but in his usefulness to the group. Should Rudolph’s nose lose its luminescence and instead turn, say, green, would he lose his new-found status in the group?

The story of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is one of reindeer’s cruelty against reindeer, managerial failure and the alienation of the reindeer soul. This, I submit, calls not for the upbeat musical treatment of custom. It should be expected that the song be performed as a two-bar blues, a sad country number, or an emo lament, preferably incorporating a verse or two telling the story from Rudy’s perspective, including his contemplation of reindeer suicide.

Mr Martin, shame on you for the cheer with which you invest the distressing tale of Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer. Shame indeed.

Dean Martin – Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer

The Temptations – Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer

Gene Autry – Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer

Bing Crosby – Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer

Intros Quizzes combo

December 13th, 2008 5 comments

This lot is the collated history of the Intros Quizzes I’ve banged together from October 2007 to December 2008, minus the quizzes of TV themes and the year 1978, which have been lost.

The collated file comes in response to Stefan from Sweden who, well, asked for it because many of the older quizzes couldn’t be downloaded any longer (ZShare being crocked, and DivShare having deleted a few folders of mine).

A couple of people have asked me to repost the first two volumes of the Any Major Funk mix. I’m afraid that, unlike the quizzes, I’ve not backed up the zipped files. So I’ll have to collate the files again from wherever they are sitting in my collection. I’m a bit snowed under (in sunny South Africa, ho ho ho) at the moment, but I’ll make that task a blog priority as soon as I can.

Anyway, the intros quizzes are posted in the first week of every month, usually on a particular theme. Much of 2009 will revisit the charts in five-year increments, from 1969-2004. Or should I start with 1964? What do you think?

DOWNLOAD

In move-related news, I’ve had more hits today than I used to get in the old joint on Saturdays. I find that very encouraging indeed. So, thank you, the 667 of you, for dropping in.

Oh, and I think I’ve managed to create a WordPress avatar. Be assured I look nothing like the avatar (see, it’s an image of The Dude). Actually, it looks a bit like John Doran of The Quietus

Categories: Intros Quiz Tags:

Top 20 albums of 2008

December 12th, 2008 8 comments

Everybody’s doing it, so I might as well dabble in the conceit that anybody is really interested to know which releases of the year I liked best. I don’t think it has been a vintage year for music, or perhaps I have not paid much attention. I’ve also found myself falling off Planet Indie, so the “singer-songwriters” boss the list. I’ve put sample tracks into one file, in case somebody is interested. The featured titles appear below my brief comments. Full tracklisting in the Comments section. Read more…

He's leaving home

December 11th, 2008 3 comments

And here I am migrating from post deleting, DMCA cock sucking Blogger to WordPress, who I hope have more respect than Google’s child.

Curtis Mayfield – Move On Up (long version, 1971)
Shalamar – Make That Move (1980)
Tim Buckley – Move With Me (1972)
The Kinks – I Gotta Move (1964)
Billy Joel – Anthony’s Song (Movin’ Out) (1977)
Robin Gibb – Gone, Gone Gone (1970)
Tania Maria – Come With Me (1972)

Intros Quiz – Classic rock edition

December 3rd, 2008 5 comments

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Here is the last intros quiz of the year, this time on the theme of classic rock, covering the period from the late 1960s to 1979. It’s pretty easy, I think. In fact, some are so easy, they are bound to insult somebody’s intelligence. But the easy ones will make Uncle Fred very happy when you run the intros quiz by him when he comes visiting on Boxing Day. One thing I learned in my brief career as a pub quiz master is to mix up the reasonably challenging questions with really tough ones (give the experts something to chew over) and a few very easy questions, so that the casual participant will also know an answer or three.

So, as always, 20 song intros of 5-7 seconds in length. I’ll post the answers in the comments section on the weekend. If you really need to set your mind at ease with that blasted #12, drop me an e-mail (or drop me an e-mail anyway), and I’ll let you have the answers sooner.

Intros Quiz – Classic Rock editon

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A Renaissance Christmas

December 1st, 2008 3 comments

I am not in a habit of uploading full albums. There are blogs that specialise in that. So I have ever only posted two albums which are not easy to find (at least if you don’t do amazon, which is sticky with deliveries to some countries) and which I think are quite special. One of them was A Renaissance Christmas by the Boston Camerata. Since DivShare wiped out my entire account coinciding with the orgy of blog deletions, the link is dead. A reader asked very nicely if I could re-upload the album. And, since Advent kicked off yesterday, and that reader has periodically left comments, I have gladly done so. It was a very popular download, with 2,000 downloads or thereabouts.

A Renaissance Christmas (as I wrote a year ago) was recorded in 1986. As the title suggests, the Boston Camerata recreate the sound of Christmas from the 15th, 16th and 17th century, spreading the international flavour liberally with songs in English, French and German. I’m no expert in such things, but those who are say it is flawlessly performed. Especially fascinating are the brief readings from the Gospel of Luke that intersperse the album, delivered in what is supposed to be the English accent of the 16th century.

DOWNLOAD (Megaupload)  (Badongo)

Read more about A Renaissance Christmas
Buy A Renaissance Christmas

And by another request, I have re-uploaded the notional Beatles album of 1981, titled The Beatles – Finally (previously on ZShare, which seems to be permanently up the creek).

DOWNLOAD.