Saturday, December 31, 2005

Top 5 Albums Of 2005

It was quite a spectaular year for new music. It was fun putting together my 2005 mix CD, but I've got to admit... it was difficult narrowing down the list to the best five albums of the year. Based on my listening frequencies (pun intended) for the past year, here are my absolute favorites:

Van the ManVan Morrison - Magic Time. I can't quite get over my indulgence in his music over the last few years (most specifically). Had you presented Astral Weeks or Veedon Fleece to me a decade ago, I wouldn't have grasped their beauty. These days, I understand a lot more. And so comes Magic Time. Van is in fine voice, and his knack for catchy melodies and thoughtful imagery is still intact. Enjoy this nostalgic CD with someone you love (warm fireplace optional).

an all-time LOW Low - The Great Destroyer. As introduced in a Hi-Fives posting nearly a year ago, The Great Destroyer entered my life as a savior of sorts. Dark and often mysterious, but surprisingly warm and comfortable. It's always a wonderful thing to discover a new band that you can easily gravitate to, and at the beginning of 2005, Low was it for me. Apparently, this album turned off a lot of hardcore fans because they strayed a bit from their proven formula. Hey... artists need room to grow.

Baby, it's cold outsideRyan Adams & The Cardinals - Cold Roses. Mr. Adams found himself quite busy in the last year. Three albums released within a twelve month course, including this double disc set! This was the first of the three, and probably because of that... I found myself more attached to it than the others. Perhaps it was the four-state road trip that it accompanied me on over the summer. Regardless, it worked as my soundtrack without fail.

Scarlet, my dear... Caitlyn Cary & Thad Corckrell - Begonias. This one sort of came out of nowhere. Then again, I've always been a sucker for that twangy male-female harmony, especially when the lyrical content reflects all that is sad in my life. Shoot... even with things looking up now, this album still hits home. Had you asked me earlier in the year, I would not have predicted that two members of Whiskeytown would each crack my year-end top 5.

Drama! Drama! Drama! The Decemberists - Picaresque. Last but certainly not least... I present the oddly narrative voice of Mr. Colin Meloy. All I can remember is that two years ago I found myself not liking the first CD by this band that crossed my desk. It could have been a bad day, or just a bad CD. Still, the stars aligned properly this time around and I fell in love with this wildly theatrical indie release featuring songs of espionage and pirates. All bets are off in 2006 if I use this album as a watermark.

And with that, we embark on a new year with all kinds of fresh, new sounds to get us through good and bad times. Hopefully, they will keep you festive amongst others and company when you're alone. Keep me posted throughout the year and let me know what's in your iPod from time to time. Music belongs to us all. Cheers!

Dave's Faves 2005

Divo's Favos, Por Favor!

Once again, this goes beyond a top five, but I've opted to make this an annual exception to my strict "rule of five". Forgive me. Now, if you don't mind, let's get cookin'!

Take one blank 80-minute CD-R. Add 18 of my favorite pre-mixed songs of 2005. Pour gently into the CD writing software of your choice. Allow contents to completely burn. Then, what you will have in your hot little hands... fresh out of the oven, is a comprehensive year-in-review best-of CD compiled by none other than yours truly! It's the gift that keeps on giving, isn't it? And without further delay... the ingredients are:

Ryan Adams "Cold Roses" from Cold Roses
Lou Barlow "Mary" from Emoh
The Brokedown "Down In The Valley" from The Dutchman's Gold
Caitlyn Cary & Thad Cockrell "Two Different Things" from Begonias
Coldplay "Fix You" from X & Y
The Decemberists "The Bagman's Gambit" from Picaresque
John Doe "Twin Brother" from Forever Hasn't Happened Yet
Ben Folds "Landed" from Songs For Silverman
Ida "Written On My Face" from Heart Like A River
Low "California" from The Great Destroyer
Natalie Maines "Travelin' Soldier" from Songs For Tsunami Relief: Austin To Asia
Van Morrison "Just Like Greta" from Magic Time
Robert Plant & The Strange Sensation "All The King's Horses" from Mighty Rearranger
Sexsmith & Kerr "Listen" from Destination Unknown
Shivaree "It Got All Black" from Who's Got Trouble?
Smog "Let Me See The Colts" from A River Ain't Too Much To Love
M. Ward "Fuel For Fire" from Transistor Radio
bonus outro track:
Brad Paisley "Shatner Says Goodbye" hidden track from Time Well Wasted

There were many great songs that were on this list at one point or another, but simply didn't have the endurance to hold up as a year-end favorite. Kudos go out to all the runners-up including a barn-burning effort by Richard Buckner & John Langford. Maybe next year, guys. As for the rest of you... let's see your best of 2005 lists!

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Blink And She's Gone...

Sugar baby

To quote Matthew Sweet... "Nothing lasts". It's quite true on many levels. I'm finding out more and more about this as I get older. Our lives are constantly changing within us and around us. So, when you hear some wise ass pipe up and say, "you can't go home again"... believe it. And to quote Elvis Costello... "Home is anywhere you hang your head". No matter where you may find yourself spending the night... it's always gonna be with yourself, so you better at least enjoy your own company. As for me... there are moments where I find it hard to live with myself. Other times, I feel like I'm the safest bet I have. It all manages to balance out from time to time. But for now, I'm left watching re-runs of what just happened to me. So, after a Hi-Fives posting hiatus... I welcome you to the top five songs that remind me of "her". Enjoy.

Jewel "Race Car Driver" (from Save The Linoleum, 1995) - We made a fun and very memorable trip to San Diego to see Jewel play at Humphrey's. Prior to that, I was amazed to discover that she knew this obscure and humorous mesh of love and cars.
Robert Plant & the Strange Sensation "All The King's Horses" (from Mighty Rearranger, 2005) - I got this CD the very week I knew I was falling in love. That aside, I still think this is the greatest song about believeing once again in the existance of perfection.

Steve Poltz "Stax" (from Chinese Vacation, 2003) - She was already a huge fan of Poltzy. I had only known that he wrote a song or two for Jewel. I fell in love with this song on the first listen. An excellent sequel to Costello's "So Like Candy". "You can keep most of the records... leave the Motown and the Stax".
Bruce Springsteen "Long Time Comin'" (from Devils & Dust, 2005) - Bruce sings, "I ain't gonna fuck it up this time." I remember promising this to myself as I first heard it... knowing that I was experiencing something truly special. I'm sorry.
U2 "Running To Stand Still" (from the Joshua Tree, 1987) - Actually, anything off of this album would do. It came out the year I graduated from high school. The same high school she graduated from a year later. We both rediscovered this album at the same time around the time we found each other. It was an odd, but right connection. As a result, this record means something different to me now. The opening line may sum things up, in the end.

I recall giving some advice recently to a friend of mine who was having some fatal relationship issues at the time. I told him that the opportunity for a fresh start and greatness can exist out there, and that I had found it after tearing down all my own walls of defense. Well, the question remains. Can I take my own medicine? Of course I can. That advice came from a clean heart and a clear mind. And with that... someone new will ultimately push five different songs to the top of the playlist. I can't wait to find out what they are... and why.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Just Another Face In The Crowd

Thank you, Mr. Zapruder
I've been attending concerts for well over twenty years now. I've seen the best of `em. I've seen the worst of `em. This past weekend I attended my 8th consecutive Hootenanny festival in Orange County. New to the merch booth this year was a dandy DVD that includes an overview of the festival as well as highlights from the show two years ago in Fullerton. WOOHOO! I was there! In fact, I noticed that if you look closely during John Doe's performance of "Backroom" you can see me in the crowd enjoying the show in the blazing hot sun. Ah. Good times. Good times.

Today's top 5 takes an interesting twist that few might be able to follow. If you can, you are welcome to add your five. So here it is... my top 5 songs where I made an appearance (in the crowd) on officially released live albums/videos:

Bruce Springsteen - Chimes Of Freedom

"Born To Run (acoustic)" Bruce Springsteen, from Chimes Of Freedom CD (1988)
All I can say is that this was recorded at one of the best concerts I've ever been to. Springsteen's four night run in L.A. during the Tunnel Of Love tour was nothing short of amazing. His solo reworking of his mid-70's anthem was the cherry on top (recorded on April 25, 1988 at the Los Angeles Sports Arena, Los Angeles, California). Another track on this four song EP, "Tougher Than The Rest", was also recorded on the same night. Music videos for both performances can be found on the Bruce Springsteen: The Complete Video Anthology 1978-2000 DVD.

Paul McCartney - Tripping The Live Fantastic"Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" Paul McCartney, from Tripping The Live Fantastic 2 CD set (1990) Paul's first comeback tour of major proportions featured a flurry of past hits that had never been performed live. Oh what a treat it was to see and hear it all. When Paul released Fantastic as a 2 CD set, he chose to mix it up and include recordings from cities all over the world. I happened to be in one of them for a rocking version of the Beatles' psychedelic title track from 1967 (recorded on November 23, 1989 at the Forum, Los Angeles, California). Not bad for being short-changed on the 60's myself.

Pearl Jam - New Rock 98.5 KOME: Pearl Jam Live"Better Man" Pearl Jam, from New Rock 98.5 KOME: Pearl Jam Live promo 2 CD set (1995) This show was set up as a make-up show for another gig I attended at Goldengate Park in San Francisco a few months earlier. At that show, Eddie Vedder became ill about six songs into PJ's set. He had to bow out, only to be replaced by Neil Young for the rest of the show. WOOHOO! Too bad the rest of the crowd felt jipped. So, they gave a discount to the people for a special show in San Jose before the year was out. Well, I was there for that one too! The entire show (recorded on November 4, 1995 at Spartan Stadium, San Jose, California) was recorded and released in its entirety by local radio station KOME, on a limited number of promotional CD sets given away on the air. I guess it was no big deal to the Jam (not that Jam) since they were broadcastng a live soundboard feed from a van circling the parking lot via their own Monkeywrench Radio. A top notch set from their career apex. Also guesting during their set: the Fastbacks and Ben Harper. Oh, and as I recall, they played well past the community's noise curfew. Rock and roll!

Eric Clapton - One More Car, One More Rider"Bell Bottom Blues" Eric Clapton, from One More Car, One More Rider CD & DVD (2001) One of the true guitar greats of all time. After having seen the "blues" tour several years prior, it was nice to see him play songs he wrote on this outing. I got lucky. He busted out several Derek & The Dominos tunes, to my delight. "Bell Bottom Blues" (recorded on August 18, 2001 at the Staples Center, Los Angeles, California) has long been one of my favorite songs of longing (no pun intended), and he wasted no time in pulling out all the stops. This entire DVD was filmed at the same show I attended. The 2 CD version of this release contains only portions of this gig. Side note: Our parking lot attendant was robbed at gunpoint just as he was waving us into a spot.

Various Artists - Hootenanny V.1"Back Room" John Doe, from Hootenanny V.1 DVD (2005) As mentioned at the beginning of this blog. There's nothing like a good ol' Hoot! Great food. Classic cars. Tough dudes. Hot dames. And, everything from roots country to psychobilly music to fill the air! I actually had no idea that this gig was being filmed. My only question is "why wasn't the Stray Cats reunion set on here?" Anyway, the likes of Russell Scott, Lee Rocker, Dave Alvin, the Blasters, James Intveld, and Junior Brown only crack the surface of what's on this nicely produced DVD. Great footage of Stuart "Statue Of Liberty" Johnson on skins as well. Think I'm gonna get me some Hawaiian shave ice!

Woodstock? Been there? Done that? Let's hear what you got!

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Holy crap!

How's my hair look NOW?
I have a certain respect for folks who make musical magic. I cannot, however, respect that ridiculous "Chia Pet" of a hairdo that Phil Spector is sportin' these days. I mean, if he even thinks he stands a chance of overcoming his murder accusation, he's gonna need to start using some Aqua Net. Jesus.

Who knows... maybe he thought the hair dryer was a favorite pistol and just got too carried away. You know how he is with his toys.

And if that wasn't enough... it looks like he's getting married this weekend at the site of the murder he is accused of. Is it the location he chose that irks me, or is it that someone agreed to be his bride? This guy may give Michael Jackson a run for the money in regards to tabloid fodder.

Today's list.... Oh, I don't know... five great moments in the production career of Phil Spector... a musical genius with a killer touch:

"You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling" the Righteous Brothers, from You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin' (1965)
I believe this song still stands as the most-played song in the history of American radio. Full of painful emotion... a great call-and-answer bridge... and a wall of sound. I don't ever get tired of this one.

"Gimme Some Truth" John Lennon, from Imagine (1971) Footage of this session can be seen in the DVD entitled "Gimme Some Truth". John is going to town on this one, and Phil does his best to keep him from blowing out his voice so early. Great performance and fine direction from Phil.

"Be My Baby" the Ronettes, from Today's Hits (1963) A classic. There's something about those drums and the sexy voice of Ronnie Spector. And, if you're looking for a sequel... I recommend "Take Me Home Tonight" by Eddie Money. Ronnie is featured recreating her call to her lover. Priceless.

"Do You Remember Rock 'n' Roll Radio?" the Ramones, from End Of The Century (1980) The story goes that Phil pulled a gun on Dee Dee Ramone during these sessions. Maybe he got confused and thought that he was Phil Ramone (famous producer) and got jealous. Regardless, some vintage Ramones-rock was put to tape. Check it out!

"What Is Life" George Harrison, from All Things Must Pass (1970) By far, my favorite work by Phil (and also my favorite by George). Some of the most emotional music I've ever heard is on this multi-LP set. This song, however, is one that reminds me of the original Spector sound, complete with pounding drums driving it home. Feel-good music, they call it. Side note: this song is also featured during a chase scene in "Goodfellas".

Do you have five in the chamber? Let's hear 'em!

Monday, March 14, 2005

My Pappy's A Pistol, I'm A Son Of A Gun

Family tradition
Wow. It's been a while since I posted here. I forgot how much fun it was to do these little lists. Then again, time isn't always on my side. Damn time! You'll get your own list, Master Time!! Just wait and see!!!

Anyway, back to my objective. I'm heading out to the Viper Room tomorrow evening to catch a live showcase by Shooter Jennings. Shooter is the son of Waylon Jennings, and God Son of Johnny Cash. Well, his debut release, Put The O Back In Country, is just now hitting store shelves, and I thought it would be appropriate to post something.... well, relative.

Today's list.... The top five songs performed by the offspring of an established musician. Tougher list than I thought it was gonna be. In any case, here's to family tradition:

"Brink Of Love" Teddy Thompson, from Teddy Thompson (2000)
The son of folk legends, Richard & Linda Thompson. He's got the skills, folks (no pun intended). Cannot wait for his sophomore album down the road.

"Last Goodbye" Jeff Buckley, from Grace (1994) Another son-of-a-folkie, this time Tim Buckley. Brilliant talent, gone too soon, of course. Perhaps his story wouldn't have been as interesting had things not played out as they did. Thankfully the music remains. Peace, Jeff.

"Don't Cry Daddy" Lisa Marie Presley, unreleased bootleg (1997) Yeah, I know what you're thinking. Just listen up. This was recorded live "in concert" as a virtual duet with her dad, Elvis. Footage of E was shown on the big screens as his vocal track blended with his daugther's live vocal... complete with Elvis' original TCB band (James Burton, Ronnie Tutt, etc.), playing LIVE! Hot damn tamale!!

"Running Side Of Me" Dean Miller, from Dean Miller (1997) The wonderful wordsmith, Roger Miller, produced one fine songwriting son. Dean doesn't write the funny, novelty numbers that his pop is known for, but he has a firm grasp on the serious material that I hold as Roger's stronger side.

"Come Away With Me" Norah Jones, from Come Away With Me (2002) Not many people were aware of this, even after she drew all that attention following the Grammys a couple years ago, but Ms. Jones (if that's your real name) is none other than the daughter of Ravi Shankar (of Beatles fame... sorta). Another case of turning out totally different than your old man. Yet, the talent finds it's way out. Thank goodness.

Let's hear your top 5's, people!

Thursday, December 09, 2004

The Day The Music Died...

Today's posting comes in light of this morning's news regarding the shooting death of former Pantera guitarist "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott. I can't say that I was aware of this band at all in my lifetime, but it sure is a tragic thing to have a couple hundred people watching you perform on stage under the spotlight as you take 5 or 6 rounds to the head and upper torsoe. No doubt, this personally impacts those who followed Pantera over the years, just as much as fans of Great White had to deal with that wicked club fire about a year ago.

Today's list.... Applicable "swan songs" for five musicians whose deaths impacted my life in some memorable way. May they rest in peace.

Kurt Cobain (Nirvana) "I Hate My Life And I Want To Die" from The Beavis And Butt-Head Experience (1993)
April 5, 1994: Kinda hard to not read the signs here. He said he didn't have a gun. He said he wasn't gonna crack. Poor guy. Fame can really turn you the wrong way if you're not careful. Sure enough, a self-inflicted shotgun blast brought all the pain to an abrupt end. I remember getting the news just before I was to meet a blind date for dinner on a Friday night. Of course, it wasn't too shocking since there was that attempted drug overdose a month or so prior. My date had no idea who Nirvana was.

John Denver "Leaving On A Jet Plane" from Rhymes And Reasons (1969)
October 13, 1997: I grew up during the John Denver decade. He was all over the radio. He was on all the great all-star network shows. He was in Oh, God. He was everywhere. Many of his hits were branded into my memory at an early age, therefore, they always endured the times. Heard about his private plane crash one morning while getting ready to take my daughter to school. I tried to explain to her who he was and what he meant to me, but I couldn't really compare him to anyone in the late 90's. Carrot Top doesn't count.

Jerry Garcia (Grateful Dead) "He's Gone" from Europe `72 (1972)
August 9, 1995: I'm not the traditional deadhead. I've never done drugs in my life (unless you count the second-hand smoke at the four shows I went to). I got into them only after "Touch Of Gray" went top 40. Still, I can consider myself an expert on their extensive catalog of music thanks to my piqued curiosity and love for what most people dismiss. I heard about Jerry's death the morning they found him. I was getting ready for work and L.A. area DJ Nicole Sandler broke in with the news. It nearly stopped my heart. I was glued to the radio as I drove to work, and switched it on once I got there. After about an hour, I managed to get someone else to cover my shift so I could just take it all in. I went online (Prodigy... back in the day, folks) where everyone seemed to be pouring out their emotions. It was amazing to watch. Thankfully, I was able to take my daughter to see the Dead in Vegas in the summer of 1994. It's nice to be able to say you've seen some legends in your time.

John Lennon (the Beatles) "In My Life" from Rubber Soul (1965)
December, 8, 1980: I was eleven years old, and all I remember is watching Monday Night Football with my pop. Howard Cossell took a minute to read the news that was just being reported. John Lennon, shot by a fan in New York City. Thanks to channel 5 for playing Yellow Submarine on television several times in my youth, I was aware of the Beatles, on an animated level anyway. The news images of the candlelight vigils will always stick with me. I recall playing my ONE Beatles 45 ("Yellow Submarine" b/w "Eleanor Rigby") over and over in tribute... yes, even at that age. Is there any justification for taking the life of someone who has inspired so much love?

Elvis Presley "My Way" from Elvis In Concert (1977)
August 16, 1977: I'll never forget this one. It was an overcast day. I was running around with a friend of mine. I was wearing a bright red sweatshirt and blue Toughskins. It started to sprinkle a little bit, so I decided to come inside for the evening. The lights were low in the house. I walked into the kitchen and the radio was on with the news. I knew who he was and that this was important news. The world reeled in disbelief. Three days later, we lost Groucho Marx. I think that was the week where I learned to appreciate legacies that remain. That explains the 130+ Elvis CDs in my collection. He may have looked like complete Hell near the end, but he still had the voice... and he did it his way.

Feel free to share your own personal top fives.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Dave's Faves 2004

Great Ass: Hits
I know this goes beyond a top five, but I promise to only do this once a year.

22 reasons why I love new music. Why 22? Well, if I take my favorite tracks from 22 particular albums released in 2004, a spectacular 80-minute CD can be made, encompassing my musical tastes for the year. And the winners are (in alphabetical order):

Joseph Arthur "In Ohio" from Our Shadows Will Remain
Black Keys "The Lengths" from Rubber Factory
Richard Buckner "Rafters" from Dents & Shells
Eugene Edwards "My Favorite Revolution" from My Favorite Revolution
The Elected "7 September 2003" from Me First
Amy Farris "Pretty Dresses" from Anyway
John Frusciante "Time Goes Back" from Shadows Collide With People
The Helio Sequence "S.O.S." from Love & Distance
Peter Himmelman "Racing Off To Nowhere" from Unstoppable Forces
The Holmes Brothers "Run Myself Out Of Town" from Simple Truths
Iron + Wine "Radio War" from Our Endless Numbered Days
Mark Knopfler "5:15 A.M." from Shangri La
Mary Lou Lord "Baby Blue" from Baby Blue
Los Lobos "Matter Of Time" from The Ride
Loretta Lynn "Portland, Oregon" from Van Lear Rose
Morrissey "First Of The Gang To Die" from You Are The Quarry
The Mountain Goats "Palmcorder Yajna" from We Shall All Be Healed
Willie Nelson "It Always Will Be" from It Always Will Be
A.C. Newman "Miracle Drug" from Slow Wonder
The Pink Mountaintops "Leslie" from The Pink Mountaintops
Ron Sexsmith "Hard Bargain" from Retriever
The Two Dollar Pistols "Too Bad That You're Gone" from Hands Up!

Don't be shy, folks. Let's see your year-end lists!