Sunday, September 13, 2009

Decade: 2000

Winter Draught / Spring Awakening:

For some reason, I just wasn’t getting any new music for the first few months of 2000. This was probably due to and end of decade record buying binge that then caused me to swear off of them for a while. It wasn’t until the Memorial Day that I felt like picking anything up. Mmm, where to start? How about a couple of Village Voice Pazz and Jop winners for 1999?

Belatedly starting the musical decade off with a bang, The Magnetic Fields three disc set “69 Love Songs” completely monopolized my CD player for the entire month of June. And not just because there was a lot of it. It was so good I had no desire to hear anything else.
Now playing: The Magnetic Fields - All My Little Words
via FoxyTunes

Poor Moby, who’s “Play” just wasn’t for that month. And yet, by the time I got around to it, I found it to be, if anything, even more remarkably consistent than 69. You’ve definitely heard some of this, even if only on commercials.

Now playing: Moby - Porcelain
via FoxyTunes

Around the same time, my wife wanted to play her students an example of scat singing. So, what would be better than Ella Fitzgerald’s “75th Birthday Celebration”? That lesson lasted one day but we’ve still got this wonderful two disc set. It’s not for every occasion, but it is just exotic enough to pull you out of an otherwise ordinary day.


Later that summer, we caught Blue Man Group, and picked up their first record, “Audio”. If you haven’t seen BMG yet, you should check them out. They’re a lot of fun, and the record stands quite well on its own.

Then came my annual birthday run, which is kind of like an orgy, except that instead of women, there are CDs. (Hey, the first step is knowing you have a problem.) This time around, I got a little too ambitious.

I figured Hole’sLive Through This” would be my ace in the hole, but it didn’t quite meet my expectations. It turned out to be a typical “record that everyone liked, and even you liked what you heard on the radio, but once you bought it you thought it was really not such a big deal”. It’s quite good, just not great. Courtney can scream really great, though.

Now playing: Hole - Rock Star
via FoxyTunes

Then there was jazz, like Cecil Taylor’s “Unit Structures” which is the type of record I buy when I’m in the grip of one of my “I can listen to any kind of music no matter what” delusions. It is surely one of the wildest records I’ve ever gotten. It’s like being locked in a room with a band that happens to be high, and mad as hell. I put it on when I feel that my soul has been crushed and I need something that will scatter all the pieces, or on beautiful summer days when I’m just not with the program. Another “put it on to get rid of the company” record.

When trying to decide on which Charles Mingus record to start with, I choose “Mingus Ah Um” - the one with the pretty cover. At first, it was just a bit out of reach at the time – despite the so infectious I can’t believe I’m hearing it “Better Get Hit in Your Soul” - but over the years, it’s grown on me, and is now one of my favorite jazz records.
Now playing: Charles Mingus - Better Get Hit in Your Soul
via FoxyTunes

Aphex Twin’s, ambient, well “Selected Ambient Works, Volume II” was the polar opposite of Cecil Taylor, and as such is the type of record that – when company is over – is likely to elicit remarks like “one of your speakers must be out”. It’s similar to one of my all time favorite records – Eno’s “Another Green World”, but way drier. For devotees of sensory deprivation, which is what I must have needed in 2005, because I played it a lot at the time.

Somewhat similar (but boy does that somewhat make a difference!) is Kraftwerk’s “Trans Europe Express”. Leave it to the Germans to come up with something robotic, yet catchy.

See if you can spot the song that became a hip hop cornerstone.
Now playing: Kraftwerk - Trans Europe Express
via FoxyTunes

And how could I leave out world music? I traveled to Africa (well, that section of the record store, anyway) for Mzaki Mbili’s “Resistance is Defense”. There’s a great sounding guitar throughout the album, but that’s part of the problem. The whole album sounds like one catchy song. Good, but too repetitive.

Next time I have to remember to balance things out a bit more. But, hey, I figured that I had the law of averages working for me.


Leave it to my Thanksgiving run to save the day. I had been flirting with the local used CD store for a while, but feared that I’d get burned. But this time I took the plunge and came up with one great, and one worthwhile, record.

First, there was Randy Newman’s brilliant, hilarious, dark, profane “Faust”. Musically, it was perfect for the holiday season. Thematically, it couldn’t have been more perverse. This is the only context where I can accept James Taylor as God. Randy’s the devil, of course. Bonnie Raitt does the great “Feels Like Home” and Linda Ronstadt doesn’t annoy me.
Now playing: Bonnie Raitt - Feels Like Home
via FoxyTunes

I remember putting Robin Holcomb’s first record on repeat one late night at work. It played about six times before I left. It’s quiet, slow and jazzy, and maybe a little too much of all of these things. But good to listen to when miserable, which I am from time to time.


And finally, when I got a gift certification to my favorite record store I thought I died and went to heaven. It was time for a major plunge into something new (by which I mean old), and this time I chose Louis Armstrong. I found his “Complete Hot Fives and Sevens” and the more wide ranging “Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man”. Both are 4 CD box sets. I went deep with the former, because the box was smaller! This music is now 80 years old, and I still can only wonder what it sounded like to people at the time. It must have been comparable to heavy metal in its shear size. I love to just take one of the CDs at random and plop it into the player. I’ll probably never get to the bottom of it all.

Now playing: Louis Armstrong - Potato head blues
via FoxyTunes

The Tally:

The great records that I have an immediate love for - as opposed to an appreciation - were:

  • 69 Love Songs
  • Faust
  • Play

None of these records was released in 2000. So far, My Decades is pretty good. Ours hasn’t started yet.

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