Friday, December 28, 2007

Picks of the Year

It's that time of year when all the top 10 lists start surfacing. I'm going to mention a few standouts for me.
-I'd have to start with a record and artist I work with, Brandi Shearer's Close To Dark. Haunting melodies and a powerhouse of a voice, make this a top pick.
-I cannot get Girls In Their Summer Clothes out of my mind. Could it be that this Springsteen song from Magic reminds of the Who's Kids Are Alright? It's a great melody. I love hearing it on the radio.
-Bright Eyes' Four Winds is another song I love hearing on the radio.
-This Big Town-ok here is something that is not out there yet, but when it is, people will be listening. It's the brainchild of Michael LaMorte (mini-king, Fictura). The amazing melodies will bring you back to the best of the early Eagles. Michael has a way of making what you hear sound new, but familiar ala Fountains of Wayne.
-The Coast of Utopia trilogy by Tom Stoppard. Who would have thought that three plays based on 6 friends, writers and thinkers from 1840's Russia would be engaging. It was engrossing. Can't wait to see Rock 'n' Roll next month.
-Juno An enjoyable movie with great touches and a not so predictable ending. Nice use of the Mott The Hoople classic, All The Young Dudes. Check out the cutouts of a young Glen Campbell and Bill Clinton on Juno's friend's bedroom wall.
-Speaking of Ian Hunter, his show at The Williamsburg Music Hall affirmed my belief in Rock Music. He stuck to classics: the above mentioned Dudes, Angeline, Roll Away the Stone, I Wish I Was Your Mother, Cleveland Rocks,..... Even though we didn't hear much from his new record, Shrunken Heads, it's a great collection of music and worth checking out.
-Nick Lowe at Housing Works. Just him, his guitar and his wit. Will never tire of it.
-Seems like every book I read this year, came out last year, standouts were The Thirteenth Tale, Never Let Me Go and Team of Rivals. I'm reading Slash's autobiography which came out this year, but so far it isn't as entertaining as I thought it would be. It could be a Lifetime After Dark movie: Kid from broken home goes astray, finds music, girls and drugs and the rest is history.
Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Sharing Our Passion

Amoeba Records is putting it's money where the mouth is. I will disclose that I work for them. What other label is so confident of their music that they're will to give it away? Sharing our passion is the Amoeba Records motto. That's exactly what's happening. Starting today at there will be two songs every two week to download free from Amoeba's first two releases: Brandi Shearer and Gram Parsons. We think you'll like what you hear so much that you'll want to buy both records. We kick it off with Brandi's live version of Gram's song Hickory Wind and The Burrito Brothers performance of Close Up The Honky Tonks. Every other Monday visit for another piece of the Amoeba passion: great music. Special Christmas bonus track: Brandi's bittersweet rendition of Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas. The song originally written for Judy Garland to sing in the movie Meet Me In St Louis. Happy Listening!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Collecting Christmas Music

Collecting Christmas music has become a hobby. I think my most treasured piece is a 45 of I Want Eddie Fisher For Christmas. With lyrics like "I want him here rehearsing, to sing to me in person" how could you go wrong? Betty Johnson recorded it and from what I read, it actually reached # 22 in late 1954. I guess you can't underestimate the power of Eddie. My friend Rosemary gave me the single right after I finished reading his autobiography. That guy lived.

In putting together a compilation of "rock" Christmas music for a friend's party, it really hit me that they way to create a gift that keeps on giving is to write a Christmas song. It doesn't even have to be a mega song, like White Christmas. Christmas Waltz is a song that I kept seeing on CD after CD, Sinatra did it, Barry Manilow did it, The Carpenters did it, Rosemary Clooney did it. I thought it was strange that I never heard it before, so I gave one a listen and realized I had heard it many times and never knew the name of it. It was written by the famous songwriting duo of Sammy Cahn & Jule Styne.

When I was an intern at MTV, the staff used to gather with a musician and do a special Christmas video. The year I was there it was Billy Squire and the song was Christmas Is The Time To Say I Love You. Lots of swaying and a complete atmosphere of fun summed up the feeling of those first few years MTV was on the air. All the VJs, including Martha Quinn were having a great time doing this. The woman behind Billy in the Santa suit was my boss, Gale Sparrow. I'd like to think that party atmosphere hasn't left the business. Amid more layoffs at SonyBMG, it seems like it's just a matter of time before the next MTV happens. I will once again try and post the video from YouTube, but it wasn't cooperating yesterday.

Alas, the Christmas compilation will be without I Want Eddie Fisher. I haven't been able to find a digital version of it......

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Junk Mail Courtesy of Dennice Brown

The Christmas season makes the mail carriers jobs that much heavier. It seems we are inundated with catalogs and junk mail. How many credit cards can a person apply for? Dennice decided to save every piece of junk mail from November and here are her results. Does it hit home?

Ever wonder how much junk mail you get in a month? Well, crazy Dennice does. I've saved every catalog and piece of junk mail for the month of November. That is only 30 days. Here is what I got. And if you want to know what it looks like, just open my photo (the stack is 12" high - I've added my coffee cup to the photo so you can get the feel of the height of the stack). 113 pieces of junk mail - and here is the break down 11 from Citibank 9 from Capital one 9 from Bank of America 8 from Chase 6 from United 5 from Am Ex 65 other including: 3 return address labels for DR and I; 1 fancy notepad saying Rizzo Family; and 9 blank holiday cards for my own use compliments of the Humane Society and Alley Cat Allies 94 Catalogs - including 7 from Bloomingdale's 4 from ESPN 4 from Red Envelope 4 from Paul Fredrick 4 from Hammacher Schlemmer 3 from Frontgate 3 from Lillian Vernon 3 from Pottery barn 3 Charles Tyrwitt (who?) 2 from Johnston & Murphy 2 from Crate & Barrel (surprised only 2, seems like I get one every day) 2 Fredrick's of Hollywood (might just order from there) 2 from 2008 Calendar Collection 2 from Jos A. Bank 2 from All Posters 2 from NFL 2 from Torneau 2 from Exposures 2 from Harry & David 2 from Sharper Image 2 from Eddie Bauer 2 from Coldwater Creek 2 from WineCountry Gift Basket 2 from Vermont County Store 41 other Now I have to to go and get calling to get off the lists so I am not responsible for killing any more trees. Happy Holidays and Go Green.