1989, Music

Like a Prayer (1989) by Madonna

Many years ago I was drinking at a bar in grad school, when the title track came on. A colleague of mine said it was a good song, I scoffed and we got in an argument, with everyone else siding with him and getting annoyed at me for being stupid. For my entire life I …

1984, Music

Burning the Witches (1984) by Warlock

Music has long been a boys club. It is only very very recently that women musicians have some control over their careers and it wasn’t too long ago, that women musicians were thought capable of only playing certain types of instruments. If there is one genre that would seem utterly impenetrable for women, it would …

1984, Music

My War (1984) by Black Flag

This record has a very mixed reputation, with some people viewing it as a daring left-turn, and a major step in the evolution of a genre Black Flag usually had nothing to do with, and far more people seeing it as a utter betrayal of Blag Flag’s sound. I tend to think that the most …

1984, Music

Love at First Sting (1984) by Scorpions

I have been avoiding listening to a Scorpions my requisite three times for a long time, every time an anniversary of theirs has come up, because every experience of them I’ve had has told me I do not like them. From their biggest hit (heard here) to any of their records I’ve begun to listen …

1984, Music

Run-D.M.C. (1984)

I know nothing about the history of hip hop but I particularly know nothing about the early history of hip hop, from when it emerged (early 1970s???) to when it began to be a commercial force. But everything I read paints this as a seminal moment in hip hop, the beginning of the “new school” …

2018, Movies

Free Solo (2018, Jimmy Chin, Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi)

I thought I wanted to see this movie in theatres. Watching it on the small screen, I think I’m okay with not seeing it in theatres. I’m not sure I would have been able to watch some of it in theatres because I have a fear of heights. SPOILERS if you don’t know anything at …

1979, Music

Breakfast in America (1979) by Supertramp

I grew up listening to Oldies Radio when that meant music from the 1960s and, occasionally, the late ’50s. Especially as I got older, the station I used to listen to would make exceptions for some music from the 1970s, usually MOR and singer-songwriter stuff. Supertramp was one of the bands that made that cut. …

1979, Music

Overkill (1979) by Motörhead

I have never listened to Motörhead’s debut in part because I have been warned off it by bad reviews. It came out a year and a half before this record but, in the meantime, the much more polished but still fast and relatively rough (for ’70s metal) Stained Class came out. What I’m trying to …

1979, Music

Live at the Witch Trials (1979) by The Fall

Debut albums can be quite hit and miss. Most bands do not record their first album with a completely unique sound. The unique debut albums we do remember which stick out do so because they are so rare. Most bands’ debuts are not only not their best albums, but don’t capture them doing something wholly …

2018, Podcasts

Bag Man (2018)

This podcast tells the Watergate-adjacent story of Spiro Agnew’s resignation prior to Nixon’s, a story I was basically entirely unfamiliar with. It’s a story that’s particularly relevant to today, as you might imagine, but it’s even interesting if what is going on with the current Administration wasn’t going on. But I can’t give it a …

2015, Movies

Danny Says (2015, Brendan Toller)

This is a fascinating documentary about a journalist/publicist/manager/etc. from New York who was tangentially involved in the careers of a number of major bands, from the Beatles to the Ramones. If you’re interested in the history of popular music, particularly punk, or if you’re interested in New York in the late 1960s and the 1970s, …

2018, Books, Non-Fiction

The Misinformation Age (2018, Cailin O’Connor, James Owen Weatherall)

This is a compelling examination of mathematical models about the way beliefs spread through human social networks.

1990, Movies, Uncategorized

Central Park (1990, Frederick Wiseman)

Wiseman documentaries are a bit of a challenge if you’re in the wrong mood but at least when you’re in a theatre you have no distractions and you must confront the film without focusing on anything else. Watching one at home is a real challenge because it’s so easy to find something else to pay …

1974, Music

‘The Hoople’ (1974) by Mott the Hoople

I have long struggled to care about Mott the Hoople. From the first time I learned about David Bowie’s involvement with them to trying to take their record anniversaries seriously enough to discuss on my podcast, I have just never got them. When I did review Mott, the previous record, I didn’t like it. And …

1974, Music

Queen II (1974)

I think it’s safe to say that there’s no other band that sounds like Queen: hard rock plus operatic vocals plus other weird arty or proggy ideas, in a really accessible package, with occasional diversions into other genres that shouldn’t fit – pick a Queen record and there’s usually at least one of these. I …

1974, Music

Kansas

When I was curating albums for the latest episode of my podcast, I glanced and the Wikipedia entry for this album and saw a 5 star review. I sighed and figured “Fine, Kansas it is.” I looked again later and realized that the ranking came from a site I didn’t put much credence in. But, …

1969, Music

Dusty in Memphis (1969) by Dusty Sprinfield

I don’t know anything about Dusty Springfield. I do know a little bit of the legend of this record, but that really doesn’t help me much, because I don’t know what she did before this. If I had heard that music, maybe the legend of the record would resonate more, maybe the music would resonate …

1969, Music

Odessa (1969) by Bee Gees

I mostly know the Bee Gees from their most famous songs. And I can tell you categorically that their most famous songs from the ’70s gave me zero hint of what this record was going to sound like. I had, of course, heard a couple hits of theirs from the ’60s, and that gave me …

1964, Music

Ain’t That Good News (1964) by Sam Cooke

I can understand the reluctance to listen to pre-British Invasion LPs individually. So many of them are scattershot collections of singles, b-sides and filler and you’re often better off listening to a curated greatest hits package, unless you’re a really big fan of the artist, and want to hear them even at their laziest or …

2018, Movies

Post-Crash (2018) by Missing Waves

Jazz is at a weird place in the 21st century, like basically every other form of music. Boundaries between jazz and other genres sometimes completely disappear, as they do with this record. At times, I think for sure this is some kind of modern art pop (i.e. not jazz) but then there are tracks when …