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Showing posts from November, 2008

198. Dan Wilson: Free Life (2007)

All things reconsidered:

It's nearly time to unveil my top ten favorite albums of 2008, and as I ponder on those choices, I think back to lists of years past. It's a good idea to revisit these every so often, because my musical tastes can be mercurial. I almost always find a few omissions and errors. Maybe something I loved at the time just didn't hold up. Maybe an album that didn't hook me at first ingratiated itself and become a favorite.

It's definitely the latter case with Semisonic singer/songwriter Dan Wilson's first album, Free Life. You'd think an album full of love songs by a sensitive, intelligent performer would have gotten to me right away, but Free Life took its time. It happened bit by bit. I'd find myself seeking out the album specifically amidst the 1,800 other CDs in my collection. I'd catch myself humming or singing bits of this song or that one.

In retrospect, it makes sense. Wilson is not the kind of artist who's going to dazzle…

Rock Bottom: Billy Joel

The one constant in every established artist's oeuvre is the bad album, the one that's reviled by both fans and critics. Those unlovable albums are the ones this feature, Rock Bottom, is concerned with.

Here's how it works: I've consulted two main sources, the AllMusic Guide (for the critical point-of-view) and Amazon.com (for the fan perspective*). The album with the lowest combined rating from both sources is the one I'll consider the worst. I may not always agree with the choice, and my reviews will reflect that. I'll also offer a considered alternative.Finally, there are some limits. The following types of albums don't count: 1) b-sides or remix compilations, 2) live albums, 3) albums recorded when the band was missing a vital member, and 4) forays into a different genres (i.e. classical).

*A note about Amazon.com. I consider this the fan perspective, because most people who choose to review albums on this site are adoring fans of the artist in question.

T…

5 Years: A Brief But Indulgent History

When taken in whole, my life has basically been an endless series of obsessions supplanting obsessions. Some last briefly and are overtaken, left behind. But others soldier on, sometimes toiling quietly in the background, sometimes stepping to the fore. On November 1, 2003, I took two of those ever-present obsessions - writing and music - and married them. And it's been domestic bliss ever since.

I had two inspirations. One was friends who constantly asked me for my thoughts on new albums and artists. The other was Richard, whose foray into blogging (Highway 290 Revisited) showed me a forum I could use.

I had hoped, by this anniversary, to reach review #200, but I'm currently stalled at 196, so we'll save that celebration for later. Instead, I offer a brief, link-riddled series of reflections, recollections, and revelations:

The Name:
At first I called the blog Till My Head Falls Off, after the They Might Be Giants song and my opinion column in the Augustana Observer. I quic…

Yes We Did!

A Change Is Gonna Come
by Sam Cooke

I was born by the river in a little tent
Oh and just like the river I've been running ever since
It's been a long, a long time coming
But I know a change gonna come, oh yes it will

It's been too hard living but I'm afraid to die
Cause I don't know what's up there beyond the sky
It's been a long, a long time coming
But I know a change gonna come, oh yes it will

I go to the movies and I go downtown
Somebody keep telling me don't hang around
It's been a long, a long time coming
But I know a change gonna come, oh yes it will

Then I go to my brother
And I say brother help me please
But he winds up knocking me
Back down on my knees

Ohhhhhhhhh.....

There been times that I thought I couldn't last for long
But now I think I'm able to carry on
It's been a long, a long time coming
But I know a change gonna come, oh yes it will