Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Review of Pat Benatar's Tropico

I always had a musical crush on Pat Benatar. As a teenager i loved hearing her songs on the radio, or seeing the videos on MTV. But of course my friends wouldn't have known that. She was one of my guilty pleasures. I didn't start buying her records until recently, and the few i have picked up are vinyl copies, because it just seems right to hear her music from a turntable.

Although her songs are at times lyrically sappy, i still think they are sincere. And that is halfway to making me like a song. The other half is that i always thought her sound had a nice metal edge, and in a non-hair-band kind of way, and was a cut above the rest of the hard rock that was on Top 40 radio then, which was basically a lot of hair bands.

When her 1984 release Tropico came out, i was still a closeted fan. But by then i worked in a record store so i got to hear the album a lot. I hadn't heard it since those days, until i just put it on the other day, and it was a refreshingly better listen than i remembered it being. The performances are strong, the songs are well crafted, and the production is high quality without being over-produced.

The single, We Belong, got heavy rotation on MTV, and i always used to watch it in my twenty year old glee. I thought the song was a new level of sophistication for her, and to me it still holds up as one of her better singles. The trilly rhythm bed that supports the song has a nice texture, easy on the ears, and the chord changes and melody are solid and catchy. The lyrics are still a little on the sappy side, but then that had become a bit of a trademark for her by then. The song was actually written by the songwriting/performing duo of Lowen & Navarro, but it definitely fits in with the other tracks from the Tropico album, which were mostly written by Pat's husband, guitarist Neil Geraldo, along with Pat or other band members.

So i am finally out of the closet as a Pat Benatar fan. And revisiting Tropico, in my opinion her best record, after all these years seems to have been the catalyst. Perhaps now i'll get around to reviewing my favorite Linda Ronstadt album. Ooops did i print that.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Review of Before and After Science by Brian Eno

This record changed my life. I was 15 when i first heard it, and unfamiliar with Eno's work in general. I had no idea he had been in Roxy Music. In fact i was unfamiliar with Roxy Music as well. But i was instantly transfixed by the dazzling array of new sounds i was hearing. From the opening metallic-sounding funk guitar rhythm of No One Receiving, with its simplistic two chord groove, treated vocal parts, space-evocative lyrics, military-ish snare drum pattern, and melodic synthesizer lines, i thought that it was unimaginable that this record wasn't in the Top 40, selling millions of albums. Clearly i was a little naive about how the record business works, and about artists ambitions versus rock stars ambitions.

Eno was, and is, a singularly unique and influential artist who makes records his way, or he doesn't make records. This one was, at the time, considered by fans and critics alike to be his most commercially accessible yet. After all, it does have more hooks per gallon than his previous records, including some funky song stylings -No One Receiving and Kurt's Rejoinder, a punk rock song -King's Lead Hat, a couple of lushly arranged and fairly straight forward ballads -Here He Comes and Julie With, and at least one pop song -Backwater, even if it is about a group of castaways cannibalising a person among them and then "all talking to keep the conversation alive."

Eno's commerciality, instead of being cliched and derivative, is refreshing and referential. But it is nonetheless catchy, even if it never translated in to hit singles. When Before and After Science was being created, Eno was, along with David Bowie and perhaps a few other artists, inventing a new sound in music. The groundwork was being laid for the onset of the intensely commercial New Wave, which was mostly cliched and derivative....mostly of Eno and Bowie.

As was usual with Eno records, there is all-star assortment of musicians supporting him. Many hail from progressive rock, krautrock, and art rock bands. Robert Wyatt (Soft Machine/Matching Mole) guests ingognito on a couple of tracks, credited as Shirley Williams. Percy Jones (Brand X) put down some amazing fretless bass work. Phil Collins (Brand X/Genesis), Dave Mattacks (Fairport Convention), and Jaki Liebezeit (Can) perform the lion's share of the drumming, all of it stunning in quality. Fred Frith (Henry Cow), Phil Manzanara (Roxy Music), and Robert Fripp (King Crimson) are the guitar stars, among a few others including Eno himself. All of the keyboards are handled by Eno also, except on By This River, on which he collaborates with Achim Roedelius and Mobi Moebius (Cluster) to create a short, minimal, chamber music song with words.

The record has a nice flow, from the tight, dense rhythms that dominate the first side to the more dreamy, ambient aural landscapes of side two. Listening straight through takes you on a journey in sound, not necessarily by way of the lyrical content, but a musical journey where the vocals are not any more or less important than the music. By the time you get to the last track, Spider and I, with it's rising and falling synth tones reminiscent of waves on the beach, and full of a textural richness you can almost feel, you have long since arrived in a new world that Eno has created.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Marriage is Serious

Some people don't take Marriage seriously. To Celebrities it's just another scheme for publicity, but it's as legal for them as it is for any other straight couple. Yet they go in to a marriage knowing full well that they will be ending it soon at some crucial time: when the publicity is needed, when they are between movies, or between albums. Britney Spears' few-minute-long mariages are fully recognized and legal. And lots of heterosexual people who aren't celebrities have a similar lack of respect for the Sanctity of Marriage.

So why should those people get to shit all over Marriage and take it for granted when there are many other people who would respect it, but who can't qualify? There is no good argument for not giving Marriage rights to Gay people. In fact, with Britney as an example there's no good argument for not giving Marriage rights to kitty cats. There'd certainly be more dignity and respect.

I Missed My Day 6 Post Feb. 16, 2007

My responsibilities to my children over the past few nights has left me quite exhausted. I was supposed to post my Day 6 Freedom to Marry Week Blog entry last night but i was so tired (and i might mention my wife was busy posting on her blog) that i went to bed early, figuring that i would just catch up again today. So here am I, however i'm still so brain dead that i can't think of anything interesting to write.

I just read a NY Times article about Mr. Evan Wolfson of the Freedom to Marry organization which my Sister-in-Law Heather emailed to me. So i'll just post the link and urge anyone reading this to check out the Freedom to Marry website at http://www.freedomtomarry.org/.


Now i have the rest of the day to think of something to post for today's real entry.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Intelligent Life...or lack thereof Feb. 15, 2007

This is the last of my catch-up posts for Freedom to Marry Week. These last 5 are from my soon-to-be-non-existent MySpace blog called Pabloteletubby.

So here is my re-written Day 5 Post:
There are Real Christians and there are Phony Christians. The real ones aren't judgemental, self-absorbed, status-seeking hypocrites with agendas.

My theory is that some phony Christians are actually aliens from another planet. When they arrived (perhaps crash landed), they created the Born-Again movement after seeing the wealth and power behind the Christian Empire (The Vatican, Mormonism) and the sheer numbers of people who they might be able to come to have an influence over. Their master plan, after all, was nothing short of the domination of Earth. I mean, come on, they're aliens from another planet.

So they set about gaining power by preying on people's weaknesses (12 Step Programs), and slowly over many years they webbed their way in to the power structure of many different Christian faiths. They could be anywhere, not just in the Born-Again movement.

Once they have all their key players in place in government (George Bush), and have instituted their policies through legislation (Anti-Gay-Marriage-Rights being one of them), they will take over. And when they do, some of the phony Christians will have been just as duped as the rest of the world. Is this paranoia? I mean, how better do you explain the phenomena of Billy Graham, Jimmy Swaggart, Pat Robertson, Rush Limbaugh, and other scary right-wingers.

Anyway that's what we're dealing with here with this Freedom to Marry issue. Wacko aliens using wacko humans to push their Take Over agenda. I'm on to them.....

Life and Love Feb. 14, 2007

It's the Hallmark Holiday known to us Americans as Valentine's Day. It's a day that focuses on Love. The Beatles said it's "All You Need..." in some song they wrote. Diana Lynn said, "Love is a very astigmatic condition" in the 1942 film "The Major and the Minor". Of course, in it Ginger Rogers plays a woman posing as a pre-teen to get child's fare on a train and then Ray Milland falls in love with her, so i'm not sure that makes the right point. But i digress.

Love can happen between any two people. As much as homophobic wankers want to believe that it is reserved only for them and their kin-folk, it is not true. Some say Love is what makes the world go round. Some say it's what connects us with the eternal. Some say you have to take it when you can get it. Some say it and Hate are very closely related, and that's why it can be so difficult to keep a relationship going. Some say it's truer than the Red White and Blue. Some say "God is Love". Ah but i must digress a second time.

Don't let the Christians legislate their unenlightened, hateful, and selfish version of Marriage. All who can Love should be able to Marry.

Freedom is not Weird, but Religion is Feb. 13, 2007

Marriage started as a religious thing, but then became a legal thing. And that makes a lot of sense. In governing people well, government bodies have to arbit problems that arise. So they make laws by which to govern. That way, everyone knows what's the what. As regards relationships, there can arise many varied problems that need arbitration. Some relationships end, and all the couple-owned stuff has to be divided up. And, of course, children in the picture make it even more necessary to have a third, impartial party to sort out what's fair for all.

The detractors of Gay Marriage act all "holier-than-thou" (big surprise) about the Sanctity of Marriage, like they own the rights to it. They obviously care about the religious aspects of Marriage more than the legal aspects. Now, Religion is not for everyone, but the Law is. And the Law needs to be updated once in a while to reflect enlightened attitudes. Otherwise certain people would still be burning witches and owning slaves. (hmmm who would that be?)

Now no one can expect an Institutionalized Religion to change it's attitudes and policies regarding Marriage because People are free to worship however, and believe whatever, they want as long as they don't "break the Law". But we can, and should, expect the Law to give Marriage Rights (and responsibilities) to any two consenting adults who want to get married, regardless of ethnicity, gender, sexual-orientation, age (as long as they meet the minimum requirement), political and even religious affiliation.

Now is the time, and it's much past due. Let's get Humanity caught up with Human Rights "for God's sake" (heeheehee).

Equality for All Feb. 12, 2007

This is Day Two of Freedom to Marry Week. My wife had a great idea to celebrate and cerebrate online with a blog posting on the subject each of the seven days. Yesterday was my opening rant concerning what i see as the main philosophical/political tenet behind the issue.
Today i'd like to rant some more, but first i'll point attention to the organization behind "Freedom to Marry Week". Oddly enough it's called Freedom to Marry and can be found at http://www.freedomtomarry.org/. Check it out and let's support freedom in America (and indeed in the rest of the World, too).

The right wing wackos and greedheads who call themselves Christian (but aren't) want to legislate their own twisted version of Morality, on a variety of issues of which this is one, to keep themselves in power. That's been their M.O. since before History started being written. It's just more White Patriarchal Kaka coming down through the ages.

As usual, the Right is Wrong!

Freedom to Marry Week Feb. 11, 2007

The "Right" just needs to get their noses, and the rest of themselves, out of other peoples' business. Equity issues trump religious morality issues as far as i can tell. The fact is everyone needs to be treated fairly and equally under the law in this country and it shouldn't (can't) matter if you are muslim or catholic, straight or gay, person of color or not.

Equal rights is not an agenda. It's what this country boasts is the right way to live. And it is. The anti-gay-marriage people are just more a-holes with agendas. If they love living in a country with freedoms, then that freedom has to apply to everyone, otherwise they should just go find (or found) a nice totalitarian state where all are white, self-righteous, homophobic snobs like themselves.

Pabloteletubby begets Philfree

I'm new to blogging. My wife actually has been encouraging me to blog and i have been resistant because i don't have a lot of free time. But after blogging recently at her request regarding Freedom to Marry Week i kinda got hooked, as i'm sure she knew i would. I was blogging at MySpace.com but found out last night how much MySpace kinda sucks for blogging when i spent 45 minutes composing only to have a glitch lose everything i did. So i am moving all of that content over here over the next few days and losing the MySpace page. Actually, i will still have a music page there for my band The Meat Joy, but my personal page, called "Pabloteletubby", is ending.