2016, Books, Non-Fiction

Dark Money (2016) by Jane Mayer

This is an alarming – dare I say frightening – examination of the ways in which American billionaires – primarily the Koch brothers – and multimillionaires have used their fortunes to influence US politics, particularly since Obama’s first term. It also chronicles their efforts to create an education and lobbying system to promote their extremist …

1975, Music

Unrequited (1975) by Loudon Wainwright III

When I heard the first song followed by the second song – a ridiculous faux reggae number – I was pretty much done with this record. I thought “Why bother with a record by a guy whose kids are arguably now more famous than him?” I think it was “Kick in the Head” which changed …

1975, Music

Desperate Straights (1975) by Slapp Happy and Henry Cow

Slapp Happy is one of those bands I read about a lot and then listened to and was kind of disappointed by. But then I guess I mustered some enthusiasm because my review of another album of theirs is positive. Henry Cow, on the other hand, I used to absolutely love. It’s an odd match, …

1975, Music

High Voltage (1975) by AC/DC

Sometimes debut albums show a fully formed band and listening to them its easy to imagine the band going on to be very successful. (That’s especially easy with the benefit of hindsight, of course.) But sometimes debut albums are more confusing, even or especially with hindsight. And such is the case with AC/DC’s true debut, …

1970, Music

Sweet Baby James (1970) by James Taylor

I don’t like James Taylor. But I’m not sure I knew that before listening to this album. I don’t think I’d ventured much of an opinion about him before, because he never seemed very interesting to me. I have a friend who likes him, and I think tried to get me into him at one …

1970, Music

Shazam (1970) by The Move

This is a bonkers record which, had I discovered it when I was in my late teens or early 20s, I might be telling you is one of the great unknown masterpieces of the early ’70s. However, time has dulled my tolerance for the “anything goes” approach of this band, especially given how scattershot the …

1998, Movies

Dead Man on Campus (1998, Alan Cohn)

This is a very dumb movie with a very dumb plot which I was apparently very much in the mood for – I was drinking… – but which succeeds as much as it does due to its heavy reliance on jokes and also a very good sense of “Wasn’t college the best?” nostalgia which, having …

1970, Music

Black Sabbath (1970)

There are people who will tell you this is the first heavy metal album of all time. And I understand why they say that, especially with the benefit of hindsight. I respectfully disagree with that particular claim and I think I have pretty valid reasons for doing so, but that doesn’t take away from both …

1965, Music

People Get Ready (1965) by The Impressions

Of all the various soul scenes, I must say I’m pretty unfamiliar with Chicago. I don’t know to what extent its distinct from other scenes beyond what I hear on this record, because I think this is my first ever (’60s) Chicago Soul record. (My wordpress tags argue otherwise, but I can’t remember what that …

1973, 1975, Music

Pathways to Unknown Worlds (1975) by Sun Ra and His Astro Infinity Arkestra

Sun Ra was one of the first jazz artists I was aware of (outside of the absolutely most famous ones like Louis Armstrong). And I resolved that I would become a fan, I guess because of how weird he seemed. Well, that never happened and, decades later, this is only my second Ra album. It …

1959, Music

Jazz Portraits: Mingus in Wonderland (1959)

I’m listening to this as part of a compilation which focuses primarily on Mingus’ earlier work in the mid 1950s and I have no idea why this particular live album was included, as it is from a while later both chronologically and artistically. (Licensing is always the answer to these kinds of questions.) At this …

1955, Music

Jazzical Moods, Vol. 1 (1955) by Charles Mingus

This is a 10-inch album from back when those were still a thing. The compilation I have doesn’t include its sequel (Vol. 2), which has been combined with it on an LP in 1957, though I think that LP dropped a couple tracks from both and its sequel. (I mention this because I believe it …

1956, Music

Pithecanthropus Erectus (1956) by Charles Mingus

According to everything I’ve read, the is the first studio album where the Charles Mingus every knows and loves first emerged. He had been a leader on a number of releases prior to it but it’s this record, and particularly its title track, where his unique fusion of music from bop (and earlier) with musical …

1955, 1956, Music

Mingus at the Bohemia (1956)

I miswrote when I stated that The Charles Mingus Quintet & Max Roach was the first of the two parts of this concert released. It is sequenced first on the compilation I am listening to, but it was this record that was released first (years earlier) as far as I can tell. Perhaps that’s one …

1968, Movies

Chronik der Anna Magdalena Bach (1968, Danièle Huillet, Jean-Marie Straub)

I’ve spent much of my adult life cultivating an interest in movies made before I was born and so I have a high tolerance, for someone my age, for the slower rhythms of past films. (I have watched so many old movies in part because i really want to know where things come from, but …

2019, Movies

Captain Marvel (2019, Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck)

As I have noted with Marvel movies, I only ever read X Men and related comics, so I have no skin in the game of whether or not Captain Marvel should be a man. But a quick Wikipedia search reveals that it’s not so controversial as some made it seem. But make no mistake, this …

2017, Movies

Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017, Jon Watts)

I hate reboots. There are perhaps few things I hate more than reboots than reboots of reboots. And yet, I must admit, this one works. And it works way better than expected. This film is, for me, one of the top 3 MCU movies. It might be the best, actually. Very minor spoilers if you …

1957, Music

The Clown (1957) by Charles Mingus

This record is, for some, probably the most controversial of Mingus’ prime, for its infamous title track, a piece which contains spoken narration by Jean Shepherd. And it’s the one piece I’m not entirely sure what to do with so I’ll try to leave it for last.

1955, 1963, Music

The Charles Mingus Quartet + Max Roach (1955, 1963)

Even though it was the dominant form of how we listened to music for decades, it’s interesting to think about how much LPs affected the way people enjoyed music. Limited to 44 ish minutes, artists had to either curate their recordings and performances, or released more than one LP, the latter of which was just …

1957, Music

Mingus Three aka Trio (1957) by Charles Mingus, Hampton Hawes, Danny Richmond

If you asked me to name my favourite jazz musician, the first person I would probably name, before equivocating, would be Charles Mingus. And yet I’ve heard so little of his discography, really, with my listening focused pretty much entirely on what people would call his prime. Until I listened to this record, I’m not …