A few years ago I gave away about 3,000 LPs to three friends and KXCI after realizing that I slapped an LP on the turntable about once every six months. That left me with (now) about 700 CDs.

Here’s what, over the following years, I find myself listening to. I’m not saying this is the best material in any of these genres — far from it — it’s just stuff I like and listen to repeatedly.

Check it out, you might like some of it:

Rock

  • The Doors, L.A. Woman — probably because I love playing Doors covers in bands.
  • Sex Pistols, Never Mind the Bollocks — when this came out in the ’70s it was the world’s greatest head cleaner.
  • Devo, Are We Not Men? — very funny, musically inventive, and contains the world’s best cover ever (“Satisfaction”)
  • Repo Man soundtrack. Absolutely great, the best of punk. My ex-GF/ex-wife saw the movie with me when it came out, and as we were walking out of the theater, after listening to me and the rest of the audience bust a gut over the horrors it contained, she said to me, “You Americans are sick!” (She was a colombiana — and she was right.)
  • Dead Kennedys, Too Drunk to Fuck (EP). Funny, explicit, and surprisingly hard to play up to speed.
  • Treat Her Right, Tied to the Tracks and the eponymous album. These guys later became Morphine, which IMO was a step down.
  • Jonny Chingas, Greatest Hits. A lot of very funny, pretty good stuff musically, including Se me paro (“I have a hard on”), and an indication of how much wonderful material this guy might have come up with if he hadn’t been killed in a drive-by. More enjoyable if you understand Spanish.

Blues

  • Willie Edwards, Everlastin’ Tears. The best blues album you’ve never heard — it sold about a thousand copies.
  • Doug Sahm, The Last Real Texas Blues Band. Yep, the same guy from the Sir Douglas Quintet and Texas Tornados. (And, yep, that’s how they spell it.) Greasy r&b-oriented blues. The final cut, “T-Bone Shuffle,” has probably the world’s greatest walking bass line.
  • Sugar Thieves Live. The material is wonderful and this has two, count ’em two, great vocalists, either of whom could easily front a band. Absolutely killer.
  • Pinche Blues Band, Postal. My old band. I’m partial.
  • Randy Garibay, Barbacoa Blues. A great melding of Mexican/latin music and blues.

Jazz

  • Charlie Mingus, Ah Um. If you don’t like this, you’re dead.
  • Misc. Artists, That’s The Way I feel. An ’80s compilation of Thelonious Monk tunes featuring everybody under the sun. Lots of great stuff, including a wonderful cut by (yes!) Todd Rundgren.
  • Miles Davis, Kind of Blue and On The Corner. Kind of Blue is probably the best LP ever for sitting on the patio and having a beer or a glass of wine at 3:00 a.m. On The Corner is a tremendous, ahead-of-its-time genre bender.
  • Jimmy Smith, The Sermon. One of the finest blues-jazz LPs ever, featuring B3 master Jimmy Smith, an incredible guitar solo by Kenny Burrell, and a couple of great sax solos.

Latin

  • Ray Barretto, La Cuna. Not for purists, but a wonderful Afro-Cuban CD featuring exceptional musicianship.
  • Luiz Bonfa, Jacaranda. Not sambas, but basically latin rock. Lots of great tunes and very good musicianship.

Country

  • Al Perry and the Cattle, Losin’ Hand. Good songwriting, good musicianship, and very funny.
  • Junior Brown, Junior High. This is just a five-song EP, but if you’re going to have one Junior Brown album, this is it. Features his best version of “Highway Patrol.” (I think it’s also on three of his other CDs.)
  • Jerry Reed, Smokey and the Bandit II soundtrack. Jerry Reed was a terrible actor but a funny guy and one of the best guitarists ever.

Soul/R&B

  • James Brown, Live at the Apollo. The seminal funk album. “I’ll go crazy” is worth the price of admission.

World/Misc.

  • Cheb Khaled and Safy Boutella, Kutche. Best rai album ever, with very good musicianship.
  • The Harder They Come soundtrack. Incredibly, this contains almost every reggae track worth listening to. (Yep, there ain’t a lot of ’em.)

Classical

  • Bela Bartok, Fourth String Quartet. Written in 1927, this is still in all likelihood the best string quartet ever written. In parts, it’s rock and roll-like.
  • Olivier Messiaen, Quartet for the End of Time. Written in a POW camp in the early ’40s, this is probably the second best LP ever for sitting on the patio and having a beer at 3:00 a.m.

Zeke Bob says, “check it out.”

 


Margaret Atwood

 

“I think the thing to emphasize is that writing is a gambler’s profession. There is no guarantee of anything. You can put in a lot of time, a lot of effort, invest a great deal of emotional energy, and nothing may come out of it. There are no guarantees. So, unless one is fairly committed and willing to make that investment, don’t do it.”

–“Seven Tips for Writers from Margaret Atwood


Alastair Reynolds

 

“Write a lot. Finish one story and start another. Don’t keep rewriting and polishing something if it isn’t setting the world on fire: start something new instead and consider the earlier story a learning experience.”

— “Alastair Reynolds’ Writing Tips


(I’ve been spending way too much time on work the last couple of weeks — I work, therefore I am — and so haven’t had time to write for the blog. I’ll be out from under the worst of it in a few days, but in the meantime I’m posting a few short things I think subscribers will enjoy, including this, part of which I posted a few months ago.)Willie Edwards Working Man CDThis new one is from one of Willie Edwards’ self-produced CDs. Willie got thoroughly screwed after signing one of the worst recording contracts ever written — the CD, Everlastin’ Tears, only sold about a thousand copies and Willie surrendered the rights to a dozen mostly great songs — so he’s turned to self-production. The lyrics below are from “Police State on the Rise” on his self-produced Working Man CD. (Sorry, but the song isn’t available online; the closest and only thing available is his “Helpless, Hopeless Feeling” from the Everlastin’ Tears CD, which certainly isn’t the one I’d pick as a sample of his work.) Anyway, here’s the first stanza from the all-too-pertinent “Police state on the rise”:

Police state on the rise
By the same old guys
With the same old lies
Comes as now surprise
Well it’s very plain to see
It’s about your liberty
Police state . . . police state . . .

If you live in Vermont (yes, Vermont), check the local music listings. I believe that Willie still performs occasionally, and I’d highly recommend catching him and his band.


Johann Hari

“For thousands of years we’ve known that if you think life is only about money and status, you’ll feel miserable. We know that a steady diet of junk food will make you sick. A steady diet of junk values does the same thing. . . .

“An intrinsic value is something you do for the joy of doing it. An extrinsic value is something you do because you have to. Dr. [Tim] Kasser found that when societies move toward extrinsic values, depression increases.

“A few years ago, Melania Trump was asked if she would have married Donald if he was not rich. Her answer was stunning. Do you think he would he have married me if I was not beautiful? she replied. This is a clear example of living extrinsically.”

–Johann Hari, author of Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression and the Unexpected Solutions, in interview with Eleanor Bader

(The entire interview is well worth reading.)


Power corrupts.

Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

God is all powerful.

Draw your own conclusions.

* * *

–Anonymous


To mark his first year in office, this week we’re reposting last year’s best posts on Donald Trump. Here’s our very slightly updated post from May 20, 2017:


It’s official. Donald Trump is now, undeniably, in bed with radical Islamists: the Saudi government. That government is essentially ISIS with oil. (Not incidentally, rich Saudis, including members of the Saudi royal family, provided essential funding to ISIS during its initial years.)

Following his love fest with Turkish president and Islamo-fascist thug Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Donald Trump just approved one of the biggest arms deals in history with the Saudi Islamo-fascists. He just approved a $110 billion arms deal with the Saudi regime.

So, what will the arms be used for, what purposes? Exactly what kind of policies does our “ally”pursue?

Under Saudi Sharia law, Human Rights Watch reports that “adult women must obtain permission from a male guardian—usually a husband, father, brother, or son—to travel, marry, or exit prison.” Under the Saudi regime, women couldn’t even drive until very recently.

Of course, given the regime’s radical Islamist (Wahhabi) orientation, there is no freedom of speech in Saudi Arabia; mere criticism of the theo-fascist regime can, and does, land people in prison for more than a decade.

Nor is there freedom of conscience in Saudi Arabia. Merely being an atheist is grounds for execution, though the more usual punishments are imprisonment and/or torture (flogging) that can result in permanent physical damage.

And, yes, Saudi Arabia judicially murders a large number of people; it has one of the highest execution rates in the world.

Saudi crimes extend beyond Saudi Arabia’s borders. In addition to helping to finance ISIS and providing 15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers, the Saudis currently commit war crimes in Yemen, including bombing funerals, hospitals, and other civilian targets, and “double tap” bombing, in which the Saudis bomb the same target shortly after first hitting it, in order to kill and maim rescue workers.

These are the Islamist monsters Trump just armed to the teeth.

Actions speak louder than words, and despite Trump’s anti-Islamist rhetoric, his actions betray him. He’ll stir up hatred against powerless refugees, but he kisses the cheeks (both upper and lower) of oil-rich Islamists.

If you oppose radical Islam, you oppose it. And you support those who Islamists oppress. You don’t sell $110 billion in arms to one of the worst Islamist human rights violators on earth.

Donald Trump is an utter hypocrite.

(Of course, all recent U.S. presidents and their administrations have been equally hypocritical. Here’s a rogues gallery of some of the guilty.)

Barack Obama, who sold the Saudis $60 billion worth of arms.

 George W. Bush, who allowed approximately 50 members of the Bin Laden family to leave the U.S. immediately after 9/11, without allowing the FBI to question them.

Bill Clinton, whose foundation received more than $10 million of Saudi money.