Podcasts of the Week for July 21st


Hit Parade :: The Deadbeat Club, Part 2

This examination of the late 80s output of the two great bands of Athens, GA – R.E.M. and B-52s – fills me with painful nostalgia.

Have You Heard? :: The Problem with Fear-Based School Reform

Do schools work better when they’re “run like a business” and teachers and administrators are forced to work in a culture of fear where they’re expected to get results or else?  Or do we recognize the nurturing mission of schools and support reforms lead by educators who know the children best? And how much of so-called “education reform” is rooted in anti-labor sentiment anyway?  These questions and more are discussed on “Have You Heard?”

WBUR News :: Faneuil Hall, School Assignments

Boston’s ongoing history of inequality and racism are addressed in two current stories about Faneuil Hall, a building named for a slaveholder, and the lack of quality education for the city’s most vulnerable communities.

BackStory :: The Melting Pot

Stories of assimilation of immigrants, Native Americans, and hyphenated-Americans throughout our history.

Podcasts of the Week Ending July 7


Fresh Air :: The Pediatrician Who Exposed the Flint Water Crisis

Interview with Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha who exposed the Flint water crisis.  She also discusses growing up as a child of Iraqi refugees.

99% Invisible :: Right to Roam

I’ve always been amazed by how Britain protects the rights of walker/hikers to cross land that’s privately owned.  Whereas in the US, one is liable to be shot for doing so.

Ben Franklin’s World :: Brian Regal, The Secret History of the New Jersey Devil

If you’ve ever heard the legend of the New Jersey Devil, you imagine it as a cryptozooligical creature inhabiting the Pine Barrens.   Turns out that the story originates instead with a 17th-century colonist named Daniel Leeds who published an almanac that ran afoul of the Quaker authorities!

Disney History Institute :: Winsor McCay and the Origins of American Animation

Early animation originated as part of a vaudeville act featuring a trained dinosaur.

99% Invisible :: Beyond Biohazard

A video podcasts explores the effort to let future generations know that something is dangerous without using language or symbols that won’t be understood.

Hit Parade :: The Deadbeat Club Edition

The first part of the story of how two very different New Wave acts emerged from Athens, GA in the 1980s.

Bands I Broke Up With


Recently, the All Songs Considered podcast rebroadcast an episode called Breaking Up With Your Favorite Bands.  It’s all about the moment when your realize that the band or artist you loved so much, you just don’t love anymore.  It could be them, it could be you.  You might still love the old stuff, or you might make a clean break.

So here are some of the bands that I broke up with and the reasons why.

eddie from ohio

Through the 1990s I was a huge fan of this folk-pop band who are actually from Virginia and I saw them in concert more times than any other performer.  They were an energetic and fun live band with great banter between songs. Their songs were introspective and witty (some songs made me laugh every time I heard them), they alternated vocals among three singers, and everything was powered by a unique percussion of Eddie Hartness’ drumkit.  Then in 2001 they released an album called Quick, the music sounded more light rock and the funny bits made me laugh once if at all.  Worst of all, in concert they seemed to abandon all the old songs I loved as well as their silly personas to become more button-down.  I think they’ve only released one album since our breakup and don’t tour much anymore, so maybe the time was up for them as well.

Dave Matthews Band

Another band I came to like when I went to college in Virginia.  During my freshman year they were playing bars in college towns, but by my senior year they were doing national arena tours.  In between that I saw them open for a concert at William & Mary for Toad the Wet Sprocket (who were actually a big deal at the time).  Their sound was unique for the mid-1990s and I liked the emphasis on the virtuoso performances of the fiddler, saxophonist, and drummer.  Then I went to  New Year’s concert in 1997 and realized that Dave Matthews himself was a obnoxious dudebro.  But what really brought an end to our affair was that after the first two albums, the sound of the band turned more into the typical bland, post-grunge sound that was common in that era.  I broke up and didn’t look back.

Sting

I first became aware of Sting and The Police when their Synchronicity album came out in 1983.  My sister was a big fan but I could take it or leave it.  But something about Sting’s …Nothing Like the Sun album appealed to me and I went back and discovered the earlier Police albums and I became a fan.  For a bit.   I was excited when The Soul Cages came out and it seemed profound that it was all about the death of his father at the same time that my own father died.  But the more I listened to it, the less I liked it. Ensuing Sting releases were increasingly bland and I reverted to my earlier take on Sting.

Lenny Kravitz

Let Love Rule came out in 1989 and I randomly selected the tape from Columbia House.  While the music is deeply derivative of 60s and 70s psychedelia and soul, it also didn’t sound much like anything else released at the time.  Add to the fact that I was coming out of my Klassik Rawk phase and it was nice to have a currently released album I could enjoy.  Perhaps it was a bridge to more contemporary released music for me?  At any rate, subsequent releases by Lenny Kravitz were cheezier and poppier, and I quietly stepped off the Kravitz bandwagon.

The Doors

Speaking of the Klassik Rawk period, I suppose there’s a time when many a teenager starts listening to The Doors and thinks that Jim Morrison was a tragic poet.  I didn’t get too deep, although I did read No One Here Gets Out Alive.  Nevertheless, it didn’t take me long to realize that after their debut album, most of the music released by The Doors was crap, a view I still hold to this day.

Fishbone

Fishbone was the first band I ever saw in concert, and wow – what a first concert. Intense music, dancing, moshing, crowd-surfing (I was nearly dropped on my head, naturally). Lead singer Angelo Moore even inducted concertgoers into the Fishbone family.  So it was very hard when Give a Monkey a Brain and He’ll Swear He’s the Center of the Universe came out in 1993 and the band seemed to have abandoned their consciousness-raising ska/funk/soul for something that sounded like metal with nonsense lyrics.  Apparently the band was going through a troubled stretch and maybe I shouldn’t have abandoned them at such a hard time, but I still love what we had in the good days.

They Might Be Giants

Here’s a band I broke up with but then got back together again.  I was a huge fan in high school and college, and TMBG ended being the second band I saw in concert (back when it was the two Johns and a drum machine).  I listened to Flood and Lincoln endlessly, and their other albums slightly less often.  Then their album John Henry came out in 1994 and it left me cold.  The magic was gone.  Fast forward about five years and I randomly picked up their live album Severe Tire Damage, and suddenly, the magic was back.  I saw them in concert again and it was awesome.  They started releasing family/children’s albums and they were awesome.  I went to one of their family/children’s concerts and it was awesome.  We are now happily growing old together.

REM

Probably one of the most painful breakups.  I became of fan of REM in the late 80s and basically got all of their albums at once.  There was a long break, it seemed, between their last album of the 1980s, Green, and their first album of the 1990s, Out of Time.  When it finally came out, I was excited, but after hearing “Losing My Religion” for the umpteenth million time on the radio I was tired of it and realized I didn’t like much else on the album.  I had big hopes for the next album Automatic for the People, but I liked it even less.  Worse, at the time I was growing disillusioned with REM, the rest of the world was falling in love with them and making these two albums best sellers.  I may have said some nasty things, like “corporate sellout.”  But ultimately, we were just going in different directions.  We get back together now and again – I even liked UP at the time it was released – but mostly REM is pleasant memory of my youth in the 1980s.

So what bands did you break up with? Let me know in the comments.

Songs of the Week: Third by The Baseball Project


Baseball returned this week and appropriately the band The Baseball Project released their third album, named Third.  The Baseball Project seems an unlikely collaboration of 80s rockers including two members of R.E.M – Peter Buck and Mike Mills.  Good songs about baseball are few and far between with the typical lyrics being cheezy tributes to some moral ideal of the game or a hagiography of great players (see Terry Cashman).  The Baseball Project is better than that as the music varies from punk rock to country twang and even talking blues on “The Baseball Card Song.”  Lyrically, they celebrate the good and bad of baseball, most vividly in “They Played Baseball” which lists a gallery of baseball’s worst rogues, who someone ended up loving anyway, because, well it’s in the title.  Similarly, the troubled life of Lenny Dystrka – one of my favorite Mets when I was a kid – is summed up in “From Nails to Thumbtacks.”  Players like Dock Ellis, Alex Rodriguez, Dale Murphy, and the entire Oakland A’s also get their own songs.  Then there’s “Extra Inning of Love” which makes baseball metaphors far more sexy than Meat Loaf could ever hope to.

It’s a fun album, worth checking out if you like baseball, good music, and good stories.

“They Played Baseball”

“From Nails to Thumbtacks”

“The Baseball Card Song”

“Extra Inning of Love”

 

Check out Desert Island Mix Tape for another review of this album.

 

Favorite Songs of 1982


The project continues with my favorite songs of 1982.  Read the first post for the detail on this project.

I remember the music of 1982 well, because I received a portable radio/tape player as a first communion gift.  That radio and I were inseparable, and every Sunday I would listen to America’s Top 40 with Casey Kasem.  Looking at the Billboard charts for 1982, I’m familiar with pretty much every song, which I can’t say for a lot of years.

Come On Eileen – Dexy’s Midnight Runners

Gardening at Night – R.E.M.

I Melt With You – Modern English

1999 – Prince and the Revolution

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x13qw7u_prince-1999_music

Our House – Madness

Pass The Dutchie – Musical Youth

Save It For Later – The English Beat

Sexual Healing – Marvin Gaye

Steppin’ Out – Joe Jackson

Straight to Hell  – The Clash

And my song of shame for 1982: Pac-Man Fever – Buckner and Garcia

What are your favorite songs of 1982?  Let me know in the comments!