Island Records, Part 2

Ya know, if I didn’t have the need to ANNOTATE these, I could have been done with this list DAYS ago.

Joni Mitchell-Court & Spark (1974). I saw Joni in August of 1974 at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center. Someday, you’ll read about the discussion of that day. (Note: it wasn’t pleasant.) “Help me, I thinking I’m falling in love again.”

Van Morrison-His Band and the Street Choir (1970). Played in my dorm incessantly, and not just for the hits “Domino” and “Blue Money”.

Pointer Sisters-That’s a Plenty(1974). Jazz, soul, country, funk- no wonder no one knew where to put this album in the racks. Have only on vinyl.

Pretenders-Learning to Crawl (1984). I was very fond of the first two Pretenders albums. then two members died and figured that was that. But Chrissie Hynde and Martin Chambers found some guys to record “Back on the Chain Gang” and my favorite Pretenders song, “My City Was Gone”. And about a year later, with still other folks, the album came out.

Prince-Purple Rain (1984). O.K., so the film wasn’t great cinema. I listened to this album incessantly, fueled by MTV videos. I even got a 12″ of “Let’s Go Crazy,” and I did.

Bonnie Raitt-Give It Up (1972). I heard about this singer in 1971 from my HS buddy Steve. He was right. The use of the tuba as bass never fails to get me rolling.

Rascals-Groovin’ (1967). Features “A Girl Like You”, “How Can I Be Sure”, the it-should-have-been-on-the-previous-album “You Better Run” and the title track. But the best song is the last: “It’s Love”, featuring the flute of Hubert Laws. Sonically, a foretelling of the band when it left Atlantic for Columbia in 1971.

R.E.M.-Green (1988). O.K., what album by the group did you EXPECT me to pick. But why is the cover ORANGE?

The Rolling Stones-Let It Bleed (1969). From Merry Clayton on “Gimme Shelter” to “Country Honk” to one of my life themes, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”, I love the songs on this album. When I saw the movie The Big Chill, I started laughing during the funeral scene, much to the puzzlement of most. I had already picked up on the joke that the keyboardist was playing the last song on this album.

Linda Ronstadt-Hasten Down the Wind (1976). Karla Bonoff and other great songwriters on a bunch of mostly depressing songs.

Santana-Abraxas (1972). Just can’t listen to the single version of “Black Magic Woman” or much else on this album. It requires the designed flow.

Simon & Garfunkel-Bridge Over Troubled Water (1970). Like the Pretenders album, a big gap between the single (“The Boxer”/”Baby Driver”) and the album, this time due to personality clashes. Also, one song reminds me of an old girlfriend.

Paul Simon-Still Crazy After All These Years (1975). A breakup album, and I’m not talking “50 Ways”. Speaking of that song, though, someone had once suggested that
“Slip out the back, Jack” referred to Jack Kirby
“Make a new plan, Stan” referred to Stan Lee
“Don’t need to be coy, Roy” refereed to Roy Thomas, and
“Drop off the key, Lee” also referred to the former Stanley Leiber
Don’t know who Gus was on “hop on the bus, Gus”

Bruce Springsteen-Born to Run (1975): Mr. Cover-of-Time-AND-Newsweek-in-the-same-week. I never got tired of this album, which I can’t say about the Born in the U.S.A., for instance.

Ringo Starr-Ringo (1973). With participation by John, Paul, and especially George. The same held true for the follow-up, Goodnight Vienna, which I read described as an “ersatz Beatles album.”

Steely Dan-Royal Scam (1976). Always liked the way they sing “ro-YAL scam”.

Steppenwolf-Steppenwolf (1968). Mr. Hembeck only likes the first two hits by the group, and Lefty doesn’t seem to be a fan, either. I contend the first Steppenwolf album was great. It included the Hoyt Axton “the Pusher” and the still-relevant “The Ostrich”.

Rod Stewart-Every Picture Tells A Story (1971). Rod used to be SO good. A dorm staple.

Sly and the Family Stone’s Greatest Hits (1971). The exception to the rule that banned greatest hits albums. After all this was the first appearance on album of “everybody is a Star”, “Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)”, and the religious experience that is “Hot Fun in the Summertime”. Probably on my top 12.

The Supremes Sing Holland-Dozier-Holland (1967). A bit of a misnomer, since most of their songs and virtually all of their hits up to that point were written and produced by Brian, Lamont and Eddie. Features “Remove This Doubt”, later covered by Elvis Costello.

Talking Heads-Speaking in Tongues (1983). I liked the group when I first heard them, probably in 1978. But after seeing them live at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center in 1983 in support of this album, I LOVED them. One oddity about this collection: some of the songs on the CD are longer than they are on the LP, a way to get you to buy both or a way to show the wonderfulness of this new-fangled compact disc.

James Taylor-Sweet Baby James (1970). Almost a cliché in its ubiquitousness. I knew no one my age who didn’t own it at the time.

Temptations-Puzzle People (1969). After Dennis Edwards replaced David Ruffin, Norman Whitfield became the primary producer of the group, and he and Barrett Strong (the singer of the first Motown hit, “Money”) wrote the songs. This is the second one of those, after Cloud Nine, excluding those concert and TV albums (Live at the Copa, e.g.). It features the Sly Stone-inspired vocal sharing on “I Can’t Get Next to You”, “Don’t Let the Joneses Get You Down”, “Message from a Black Man”, and a great cover of “It’s Your Thing”.

Traffic-John Barleycorn (1970). After the acrimonious breakup of Traffic, Steve Winwood fled to Blind Faith, but that wasn’t the solution either. So he ended up putting together a solo album. He needed some help from his former mates (save for Dave Mason), and suddenly it was a re-formed Traffic.

U2-Joshua Tree (1987). In 1988,, I told someone in 1988 that this was one of my island records. He said, “You can’t pick a one-year old album to be on your island list! They need time to develop in your heart.” NOW may I put it on the list?

The Who-Who’s Next (1971). This album only went to #4? The very definition of the soundtrack to my college life.

Stevie Wonder-Innervisions (1973). I could have picked any of four albums that came out between 1972 and 1976, 3 of which were Album of the Year, including this one. One recollection of this album was hearing it in the house of one of my professors, which elevated him greatly in my mind at the time.

Neil Young-After the Gold Rush (1970). “When You Dance, I Can Really Love” starts off at one pace and gets faster; it was a song that defined a particular relationship of that time.

Other albums could have easily been on the list, depending on how recently I happen to have given them a listen. American Idiot by Green Day may make it next time I compile this list. You’ll note (if you’re that way) that there are actually 53 albums. Well, I was born in ’53, so it seems to have some cosmic resonance.
And on the music theme, I recommend the Music Genome Project, which picks songs it thinks you’ll like.
I started (naturally) with the Beatles. It played “Girl”, then to Jim Croce’s “Operator”.
I started again with the Beatles, and this time, it played “Why Don’t We Do It In the Road”, followed by “Tower of Babel” by Elton John, “Badge” by Cream, “Set Me Free” by the Kinks, “Are You Happy Now” by Richard Shindell (an artist I did not know), “Father and Son” by Cat Stevens, “Cat Black” by T. Rex, “Morning Glory” by Tim Buckley, “Let It Be” by the Beatles, and “New Age” by the Velvet Underground. That list is neither here nor there. What was REALLY fun was reading WHY they picked the next song. They all share “mild rhythmic syncopation, a vocal-centric aesthetic, mixed acoustic and electric instruments, dynamic male vocals, and other similarities identified by the Music Genome Project.” Whatta hoot. And if you don’t like a song, you can choose to go in another direction. Knowing some of the people reading this, this could turn out to be a great time-waster.
And on a different front, someone I knew (and didn’t like) was indicted recently. Please help me if you can. What movie has dialogue that goes something like, “He’s guilty, I say. Guilty, guilty, guilty!” Not sure of the first part, but the repeated “guilty” is in it for sure.

Island Records

Gordon asked Lefty for his island albums, but no one asked me. (Sob.) That doesn’t stop me from posting them anyway, of course. These are albums I’d listen to a lot. They may not be the best album the artist ever did, but that isn’t the question.
I’ll start with 50 or so, and italicize my Top Ten (of the moment, subject to change or whim.)
The self-imposed rule is that I couldn’t pick greatest hits albums; unfortunate, because it leaves out artists that I like such as Aretha, George Harrison, and Blondie (to pick three off the top of my head.) There is one exception. Also, I can pick only one album per artist; otherwise, we’d have a lot of Beatles. Finally, I didn’t pick any compilation albums, such as “The Big Easy” soundtrack (a GREAT soundtrack of a movie I wasn’t so hot on).
The list is alphabetical by artist.

Joan Armatrading-Walk Under Ladders (1981)- I love her deep voice, and she really rocks on this album. One of my two favorite albums of that year.

The Band-the Band (1969). This is the second album (the “brown album”) with “Rag Mama Rag” and other pieces of Americana, pretty cool for a group with four of its five members from Canada. In our high school yearbook, there was a section for the HS band, but one of the pictures was of this group. Played this album OFTEN in college as well.

The Beach Boys-Pet Sounds (1966). I know this is the quintessential BB album, but I came thisclose to picking Surf’s Up (“Feel Flow”, “Until I Die”, “Long Promised Road”, and the title track.)

The Beatles-Revolver(1966). For me, it’s always between this album and Rubber Soul. Think of the songs individually. The same group did “Yellow Sub”, “Eleanor Rigby”, and “Taxman”? Astonishing. When my parents weren’t home, I used to crank up the volume during “Got to Get You Into My Life” during the later horn section (“I was alone, I took a ride”). Then “Tomorrow Never Knows” came on and that was SO incredible.

David Bowie-Ziggy Stardust (1972). I played a mean air bass guitar to “Star”. Heard in the dorms incessantly.

Johnny Cash-Unchained (1996). This is a tough choice, because there are songs I like from all four of those American recordings from the last decade of his life. This is the second one. With Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers as the backing band, I thought it would become a bigger pop hit; it got all the way up to #170.

Judy Collins-Who Knows Where The Time Goes (1968). I received this album for my 16th birthday from my friend Lois, who said, “I hope you like it. It’s kinda country.” Well, yes, there’s some pedal steel, but also lovely tunes, including the murder ballad “Pretty Polly”, with Steve Stills on guitar. I JUST bought it on CD this summer.

Elvis Costello-Spike (1989). An island album, for me, can show lots of sides of an artist. He plays with Macca and the Dirty Dozen Brass Band. He has rockers and lilting ballads. It may not be his best album, but its diversity will wear better on the beach.

Cream-Disraeli Gears (1967). It has “Sunshine of Your Love”, but a whole lot more. Probably wore the grooves off.

Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young-Deja Vu (1970). Played a LOT in my college dorm. Always liked the democratic nature of the album: 2 Crosby tunes, 2 Stills, 2 Nash, 2 Young, 1 Stills/Young, and 1 Joni Mitchell.

Donovan-Open Road (1970). Another dorm album, now hard to find cheaply. Vastly unrated disc.

The Doors-Waiting for the Sun (1968). The third album, it DOESN’T have the song “Waiting for the Sun” on it (that’s on Morrison Hotel), but does have a lot of great songs, the least of which is the hit “Hello, I Love You”.

Bob Dylan-Blood on the Tracks (1975). I came to Dylan late as a performer. I appreciated his songs, of course, when sung by others. I bought my girlfriend at the time Self Portrait, and even she had a hard time with it. But by 1975, I learned to appreciate the guy, and subsequently started collecting Dylan in both directions, forward and back.

Eurhythmics-Be Yourself Tonight (1985). I loved the “Would I Lie To You” video on MTV. A lot. But this album has other great songs, including “Sisters Are Doing It For Themselves,” featuring QoS. (QoS means Queen of Soul.)

Roberta Flack-Chapter Two (1970). It has a song about a preacher and sex (“Rev. Lee”), THE breakup song (“Gone Away”), and a scathing indictment of war (“Business Goes On as Usual”). The rest are good jazz covers of popular songs.

Peter Gabriel -Peter Gabriel (1980). (This is the third album, sometimes referred to as “Melt”.) I think Q-104, the late, great radio station in the Albany area played almost every track. One cut appears on a Halloween CD I just mixed. This album contains “Games without Frontiers” and the important anti-apartheid song “Biko”. I have this album on vinyl, in German; anyone know where I can get it on CD for a reasonable price?

Joe Jackson-Night and Day (1982) This is another Q-104 album, featuring “Steppin’ Out.”

Michael Jackson-Off the Wall (1979). I will contend that this album is better than Thriller. This is Michael, just turning 21, before the strangeness really begins. Includes “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough”.

Elton John-Tumbleweed Connection (1971). Truth is, I could have picked the eponymous album, Madman Across the Water or Honky Chateau. I could even have picked an album I picked up at McDonald’s in 1994 which contains: “Take Me To The Pilot”, “Burn Down the Mission”, “friends”, “Saturday Night’s Alright”, “Madman”, “Tiny Dancer”, “Honky Cat”, “Croc Rock”, “Mona Lisas”, and “Levon”. But no, I couldn’t pick an album I bought for $3 with the purchase of a fish fillet, could I? In any case, Tumbleweed won out because the 1995 CD features an early version of “Madman”.

Janis Joplin-Pearl (1971). The first posthumously-released album I ever bought. “Buried Alive in the Blues” is an instrumental because Janis didn’t live to record the vocals. In 1972, I was working in a factory singing “Mercedes Benz”, and someone asked me if that was a Temptations song. For some reason, I bit my lip rather than laughing aloud.

Carole King-Tapestry (1971). I bought this and Sticky Fingers by the Rolling Stones (my second choice among Stones’ albums) at the same time; why I remember that, I have NO idea. Her version of “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow” I always hear in my mind’s ear as an a cappella doo wop.

King Crimson-Discipline (1981). Another Q-104 album. “I repeat myself when under stress. I repeat myself when under stress. I repeat…”

Led Zeppelin-III (1970). The worst selling of the first six albums. “Immigrant Song” notwithstanding, I liked the softer side of Zep, including Leadbelly’s “Gallows Pole”; I have a Leadbelly version.

John Lennon-Imagine (1971). Plastic Ono Band is too angst ridden. This one’s bitter enough, with “How Do You Sleep”, the wicked evisceration of his former writing partner.

Curtis Mayfield-Superfly (1972). The 25th anniversary recording has alternative takes of several songs, a discussion of the music by Curtis, and ads by Curtis, telling us to stay away from the “Pusherman”. “Remember, ‘Freddy’s Dead’.” But it’s the solid tunes, and maybe it was just the right time, that captivated me. I’ve never seen the movie, BTW.

Paul McCartney-Band on the Run (1973). Sometimes, in addition to the music, I just love the backstory: Paul calls the band together to record, he’s abandoned by everyone except Denny Laine and the lovely Linda, they get mugged in Lagos, and they put out a great album, commercially and critically.

Well, will I still do this tomorrow?

Communications Breakdown

First the data loss last week, and now my home computer has been seized by some virus or something. This means that I didn’t have a chance to work on anything for you this weekend.

This was an aggrevating weekend, in part because I spent four phone calls and well over an hour trying to get an AOL charge off my credit card that doesn’t even show up on the AOL customer service reps’ computers. Finally, I had to cancel a credit card and get a new one.

Also, it rained in Albany every day for about a week and a half. Sales of “Ark Builders’ Digest” have really spiked this week in this part of the country. Yesterday, 50 mph winds came howling through.

On the other hand, we sang really well in choir yesterday, and then most of us went out to lunch at a nice restaurant (in the Gideon Putnam, for you locals).

Lydia has been a bit under the weather, and she stayed home today from day care. Her maternal grandparents are visiting, so they’ll watch her, as they did yesterday when Carol and I went out to eat. Otherwise, I would have had to stay home from work on a day that a number folks will be out at a meeting.

Our building is going to have a fire drill this week. I am the floor marshal for the 7th floor.

I’ve been hoping for a Chicago White Sox win, and I’m glad they’ve gotten into the World Series for the first time since 1959, but I’ve been picking against them because of their history. So, I’ll still pick the NL team (the Astros, barring a real collapse, a team that has never won the WS), which should assure the men with the pale hose the team’s first World Series win since 1917. But with that pitching on both sides, will anyone actually SCORE?

I love getting free stuff. I got comics and tunes today from football prognosticator Logan, and a CD and DVD from…well, I’ll explain that in due course.

Finally, I just went here to vote for the best DVDs released this past year. To find more about TV shows on DVD go to TV Shows on DVD.

Plastic in the Microwave

At work on Friday, I got an e-mail from a colleague that went:

CANCER News From John Hopkins Medical Center


No plastic containers in microwave
No plastic water bottles in freezer
No plastic wrap in microwave

Johns Hopkins has recently sent this out in their newsletter — it’s definitely worth noting. This information is being circulated at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

Dioxin Carcinogens cause cancer, especially breast cancer.

Don’t freeze your plastic water bottles with water as this releases dioxins in the plastic.

Dr. Edward Fujimoto from Castle Hospital was on a TV program explaining this health hazard. (He is the manager of the Wellness Program at the hospital.) He was talking about dioxins and how bad they are for us. He said that we should not be heating our food in the microwave using plastic containers. This applies to foods that contain fat. He said that the combination of fat, high heat and plastics releases dioxins into the food and ultimately into the cells of the body.

Dioxins are carcinogens and highly toxic to the cells of our bodies.

Instead, he recommends using glass, Corning Ware or ceramic containers for heating food. You get the same results, without the dioxins.

And it goes on from there.

Great, I thought. Carol had heard something about this, and wondered how this would affect Lydia. But something about this piece didn’t sit right. Notably, the article didn’t cite where Castle Hospital was located, so I found this piece, which indicated that the article was “Unproven! & Fiction!” for reasons you can read yourselves.

HOWEVER, deep in the rebuttal piece, there is this paragraph:

The Food and Safety Inspection Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture has published guidelines for safe cooking in microwave ovens and warns against using materials that are not regarded as microwave safe.
CLICK HERE for those guidelines.
You’ll note that one of the guidelines is to avoid letting plastic wraps touch food!
That is another issue, however, and not related to dioxins or high heat in microwaves.

So, as a librarian, I appreciated this more nuanced response to the issue than the one that yet another colleague found at the mythbreaker Snopes.

Yet another response:

I don’t believe there is full agreement on whether plastics are safe connected with food prep. There are other chemicals besides dioxins released that offer a good enough reason to avoid plastic in the microwave. See note below from Columbia University.
Even the site confirms that plastics release other harmful chemicals when heated and cooled, that appears further along in the article ‘dispelling’ the rumor.

Many products are given the safe go-ahead until they are recalled when people become ill.
I think it’s really a personal choice.

Totally coincidentally, I get THIS link in an e-mail.

All of this contradictory advice should leave you TOTALLY confused.

This is the reason nothing gets done in offices in America on Friday afternoons.

Three Office Questions

Since les Browns Chris and Kelly already have their Friday questions, I figure I’ll do mine on Saturdays now.

I watched the TV show “The Office” this week (as usual, in the recorded mode, not in real time). I enjoy it quite a bit. They played Island this and that, so I figured, What the heck?

1. What are your five island movies? And why?

Mine are:
a) Annie Hall. Fair amount of this movie has happened in my life, so if you don’t like the choice, la dee dah, la dee dah.
b) Groundhog Day. Not only is it an intelligent comedy with a JEOPARDY segment, its premise that every day is like the next is eventually broken will give me hope on the island.
c) West Side Story. Another island story: “I like the isle of Manhattan.”
Those three were in my profile. Hmm.
d) Being There: If Peter Sellers’ Chance the gardener can become an advisor to the President and please Shirley McLaine’s character just by watching television, there’s hope for us on this wretched island.
e) Toy Story 2: That conflict between past and present is wonderful.

2. What are your three island books? And why?

Mine are:
a) The Bible, probably the Revised Standard Version, and not only because it’s long.
b) The World Almanac, because I can read about the facts and figures of the rest of the world, trying to keep my mind sharp on this desolate isle.
c) Joel Whitburn’s Top Pop Albums 1955-2001, because I find it endlessly fascinating. If I don’t have music on the island, perhaps I can recreate it in my head.

3. What is your favorite waste of time at work?

Taking those “urgent” e-mails that people send me and try to find out if they are true. In fact, I think I’ll write about one tomorrow.

BONUS QWESTION: There was a third question on “The Office”, which you can answer, if you’d like. I won’t ask it, and I won’t answer it, though.