Jung: A Very Short Introduction (1994) by Anthony Stevens

Categories: 1994, Books, and Non-Fiction.

When I was a teenager, some adult told me about Jung’s collective unconscious. I didn’t read a thing about it, but took whatever they told me and created my own elaborate theory about our thoughts influencing others (which has nothing to do with Jung). Ultimately, that theory was a responsible for a lot of mental stress on my part. Years later, it feels like a lot of wasted energy. Read More

Blue Sky (1994, Tony Richardson)

Categories: 1994 and Movies.

This film means well – it features a powerful performance by Jessica Lange (playing mentally ill as only she can) and, I think, it attempts to tell a strong story of love overcoming mental illness. But the story is just too “Hollywood;” by that I mean that there’s too much of a desperate attempt to impose a plot on what should just be a family drama. MILD SPOILERS Read More

Symphony No. 3 “Simfoniya-poema”; Triumphal Poem / Caucasian Sketches (1994) by BBC Philharmonic conducted by Fedor Glushchenko

Categories: 1894, 1947, 1950, 1994, and Music.

This is a bizarre pairing of a Khachaturian symphony, one of his symphonic poems and an orchestral suite from another Russian composer from the 1890s. The fact that they don’t sound so out of place suggests how conservative Khachaturian was as a composer. I have hear the Triumphal Poem before, though I’m not sure where. (In a movie?) It’s big and bombastic like much of Khachaturian’s music, and generally lacking in subtlety. It is catchy, though. I remember it from whenever I heard it before. Catchy, obvious, easy. The first Caucasian Sketches is a moody late Romantic piece with strong Read More

The Complete Early Recordings of Skip James (1994, 2009)

Categories: 1931, 1994, and 2009.

This is one of the numerous discs to collect all nine of Skip James 1931 78 records that he recorded before he abandoned his music career (or whatever happened) until being “rediscovered” in the ’60s. This music is essential listening for fan of the blues or people interested in music history. James among the best guitarists of his era – he might be the best pre-electric blues guitar player ever. And he was an incredible and distinctive singer. Unfortunately, the sound is often awful and I don’t know whether that’s because of degradation to the original recordings or because of Read More

Ives: The Symphonies; Orchestral Sets 1 and 2 (2000) by Various Artists

Categories: 1901, 1902, 1910, 1911, 1916, 1919, 1929, 1973, 1976, 1994, 1995, 2000, and Music.

This is one of those Decca compilations that takes recordings from all over its catalogue (in this case from the mid ’70s and the mid ’90s) to create an ostensibly “complete” collection of a composer’s works in a given field, in this case Ives’ work for large orchestra. Of course it’s not complete, as it’s only the first four symphonies (Ives wrote 5 plus an unfinished one) and only two of the three” orchestral sets” (sort of American tone poems, though that description isn’t entirely  accurate…). And, to fit on the disks, the sequencing is totally out of whack as Read More

A History of Rome – Second Edition (1991, 1994, 1996, 2001) by Marcel Le Glay, Jean-Louis Voisin, Yann Le Bohec, David Cherry

Categories: 1991, 1994, 1996, 2001, Books, and Non-Fiction.

This is a general history of Rome meant, I believe, for use in schools as a textbook. It’s written that way anyway, so it’s rather dry. The strength of the book is in the early going when it provides a great deal of pre-history to the empire, pretty much all of which I was unfamiliar with. Another strength is that the authors mostly refuse to speculate, so this is likely an accurate, not one that thrives on biased ancient accounts or on inventing motives for historical actors. But the book has two major weaknesses, even though it has been updated Read More

WhatFunLifeWas (1994) by Bedhead

Categories: 1994 and Music.

I wanted to write about how this band is the missing link between Slint and Luna, as much as such a thing seems kind of odd. But lo and behold, Luna beat these guys to the punch, so I was wrong about that. But I feel like that musical description is as good as I can get: this record sounds like what Luna would sound like if they liked Slint a lot more than, say, Loaded-era Velvet Underground. That’s not to say Bedhead sounds at all like Slint; it’s just there’s a tinge of that weird post-hardcore/math rock vibe overhanging Read More

Rope-a-Dope (1994)

Categories: 1994 and Music.

This murky, kind of lo-fi record at times reminds me of a lo-fi Eleven. But I feel like such a comparison is a real disservice to Antietam who are, to my ears, a far more varied and capable band than Eleven, even if the husband-wife things it an easy comparison. This is a band that’s a little too lo-fi to be considered mainstream “alternative.” And the range they show here makes me really regret my initial comparison to Eleven and how that’s sort of dominated my thinking about them. This is one of those solid indie rock records that features Read More

Jane Eyre (1994) by Bernard Herrmann, performed by Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Adriano

Categories: 1943, 1994, and Music.

I have never seen the Orson Welles version of Jane Eyre (come to think of it, I don’t think I’ve seen any version of Jane Eyre) but after listening to this, I really kind of want to. This score is awesome – at times it sounds like a horror movie and, frankly, everything about it makes me want to watch the film. But it works outside of the film, as well, as it shows a composer using virtually every known trick in the book (though not really from other books, but that’s okay) to set all sorts of different moods. Read More

30 for 30: June 17th, 1994 (2010, Brett Morgen)

Categories: 2010 and TV.

This is a fascinating, ambitious but flawed attempt at putting the OJ Simpson chase into some kind of greater sports context, and perhaps to serve as a document for those people who were not alive to witness this. Like most people my age and older, I remember this event rather well. What I didn’t remember was how it corresponded with the Rangers’ Cup parade (I had stopped watching hockey the previous year), Game 5 of the NBA Finals (I didn’t watch basketball at the time), Arnold Palmer’s last time at the US Open (golf is terrible), the opening of the Read More

Symphonies Nos. 45, 46, 47 (1994) by Joseph Haydn, performed by Tafelmusik conducted by Bruno Weill

Categories: 1994 and Music.

This disc collects three of Haydn’s “middle” symphonies, at a time when Haydn was getting more and “romantic” for lack of a beter word. Like all Tafelmusik recordings, they are played on period instruments. The “Farewell” symphony is just an incredible thing. The opening is out there for the time period (at least to my ears though apparently it is a pretty traditional form otherwise). And the middle parts are pretty traditional. But the finale is bonkers: it’s slow, for one thing, but it also features a gradual dimunition of instruments, till it’s down to just the violins. On stage, Read More

Cowgirl’s Prayer (1994) by Emmylou Harris

Categories: 1994 and Music.

You’d think an album called [i]Cowgirl’s Prayer[/i] would be straight-up country, but this isn’t. There’s an impressive stylistic variety here I wasn’t expecting, and his compliments the song selection. On the other hand, the production on the more up-tempo country numbers is way too contemporary for me, way too eighties Nashville. It’s already growing on me, so maybe I’ll change my mind and like it a little more in the future, we’ll see. 6/10 Read More

Granados: Danzas espanolas (1994) by Angela Hewitt

Categories: 1994 and Music.

I love Keith Jarrett, and I want to believe that his “improvised” sets from the mid ’70s on are indeed spontaneously conceived, but listening to these dances, I detect at the very least the inspiration for (to get snobby) the harmonic language of The Koln Concert at the very least, in two of these. This actually doesn’t make me respect Jarrett any less. It just makes me admire Granados all the more. Because honestly I think, had I not listened to Jarrett, I would have liked the Goyescas a lot more, but I have a great respect for anyone who Read More

Faust (1994) by Charles Gounod, performed by Hadley, Gasdia, Ramey, Mentzer, Agache, Fassbaender, Welsh National Opera conducted by Carlo Rizzi

Categories: 1994 and Music.

I keep telling myself I don’t like French opera and I keep stumbling on to operas that I kind of like. I understand (I think) why this has fallen on hard times: it’s super long, it’s over the top, and nobody knows which version to perform. (The notes claim this is close to definitive, but who the hell knows?) But honestly, I like my operas over the top, and this one feels so much less obvious than the Bizet-type thing. I know I’m a huge snob about this kind of thing, but I can’t help myself. This is idiosyncratic enough Read More

Miserere et. al (1994) by Henryk Gorecki, performed by John Nelson et al.

Categories: 1994 and Music.

This is a collection of Gorecki’s choral music, mostly performed by choruses from Chicago. (Yet another release where the performers differ from track to track! I really need to get over this.) Fortunately, I wouldn’t have known that, if they didn’t tell me. So that’s something. The “Miserere” is an incredible piece of music. I know choral music a lot less well than I know concertos, string quartets or piano sonatas, for example (so that means I really don’t know them), but this feels massively significant – in addition to it being greatly affecting – even without knowing the structure, Read More

Officium (1994) by Jan Garbarek and the Hilliard Ensemble

Categories: 1994 and Music.

I often have a hard time with “ECM” jazz. On the whole I prefer my free jazz loud and intense, not quiet and not so “cool”. In fact, ECM often just sounds to me like second wave cool; a little freer but that’s about it. Frankly, I don’t enjoy it much of the time. That being said, I think one purpose of art is to shock us out of our comfort zones – to piss us off and make us think. And I appreciate records that do that even when I don’t like the style of music. This is a Read More

Monterey ’66 (1966, 1994) by Randy Weston

Categories: 1966 and Music.

This is an entertaining set that fails to distinguish itself among the more radical jazz of the era. That being said, the set contains great showcases for Booker Ervin – which shouldn’t come as a surprise – Big Black and Lenny McBrowne – who really surprises on “Afro Black” – as well as the leader. These moments are spread throughout what is otherwise pretty run of the mill post bop with “African” influences. The closer is the best thing here and the one time the band really sounds out there.  Solid, but it won’t change your life. 7/10 Read More

Weezer (1994 Geffen)

Categories: 1994 and Music.

It’s pretty much impossible to judge this in any kind of “objective” light nearly 20 years later. If you’re of my generation (i.e. born between ’75 and ’85) chances are you have heard 60%-70% of the songs on Weezer‘s debut a million times, courtesy of your friends and the radio. This album is basically ubiquitous. So these songs are in my brain regardless of what I may think of them. And so it’s a lot harder for me to get mad about the things I don’t like about it than if I had never heard it (see their second self-titled Read More

Dummy (1994, Go!) by Portishead

Categories: 1994 and Music.

I can’t claim to be a huge trip hop fan but I have long been aware of it and I generally have had respect for it (I can handle it a lot more than hip hop). I guess this is sort of trip hop balladry (balladry in the modern not the traditional sense). As such it is very effective and well done, though I think to really get it under your skin, you have to be in a given mood or state of mind. I can’t say much beyond that in terms of criticism: it is well made and likable, Read More

Smash by the Offspring (Epitaph 1994)

Categories: 1994 and Music.

Two things about this make it better than most other ’90s pop punk: the louder, hard rock guitars and the “social comment.” The Offspring were certainly more literate than Greenday (at least at the time). On the other hand, Dexter is a pretty terrible singer (which would be more acceptable if the music was faster) and the band lacks for hooks outside of the singles (and hooks are pretty important in pop punk). Still, I prefer this (slightly) to early Greenday and I can’t help but finding the Offspring more interesting than most of their contemporaries, even if they never Read More

The Downward Spiral by Nine Inch Nails (Nothing 1994)

Categories: 1994 and Music.

It’s hard to approach something that is seminal having never heard it the first time around: there is the distinct possibility that you may overrate it because of its influence or underrate it because it was over-hyped. Certainly this is one of the seminal albums of the first half of the ’90s. So, is that deserved? It’s clear that whatever else he is, Reznor is a great producer. He has somehow managed to commercialize a seemingly uncommercializable genre, making something that is abrasive but catchy. I guess some people probably hate him for that. Not being a fan of industrial Read More

The Larry Sanders Show

Categories: 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, and TV.

Having recently (re)watched the Larry Sanders Show: I think the Larry Sanders Show is one of the great American television programs and one of the great comedy programs of all time. Though it was certainly not the first TV show to parody TV, nor was it the first show to be about talk shows, it was the first laugh-track-less American comedy I know of (setting the stage for the numerous laugh-track-less comedies we have now) and it was about as dark and outrageous as anything then on television. The acting is so good that you sort of forget it’s a Read More

Portrait of an American Family by Marilyn Manson (Interscope 1994)

Categories: 1994 and Music.

Manson is often compared to Cooper but listening to this album I think that’s not particularly fair. Manson is significantly scarier than Cooper (even if he isn’t scary) but more importantly the band is more musically interesting than Cooper’s. Cooper was just doing arena rock with a spooky stage show. Here at least the music (and the vocals) sound vaguely spooky too. In fact, at some points the guitarist sounds like he’s channeling a poor man’s Adrian Belew, which is at least interesting, if nothing else. So yeah I was pleasantly suprised by the overall musicality of this and the Read More

Throwing Copper by Live (Radioactive 1994)

Categories: 1994 and Music.

As Creed are the post-grunge band that will berate you with Christianity, Live is the post-grunge band that will berate you with Buddhism (or a early-20s white male concept thereof). Live are also one of the earliest post-grunge bands, along with Collective Soul. They started this whole thing. That’s two strikes. I find that I am pleasantly surprised into not hating this. I vaguely remember the singles (I do not listen to the radio really, and so I haven’t been flogged to death by “Lightning Crashes”) and I vaguely remember the time when this band was it. It was a Read More

90s Movies

Categories: 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, and Movies.

Again I need to warn you about my ratings. In many cases the one and only time I watched these films was in high school, when I was far less discerning. In other cases, I really liked a movie then, then watched it 5 to 10 years later and saw that it was mediocre or bad and got embarrassed and my rating is often a reaction to that feeling, meaning I am subsequently harder on a film if I liked it the first time and I now see it for what it is. I have added asterisks to movies I don’t Read More