Category Archives: music

Regarding the iTunes store…

Dear Apple:

Please FIX YOUR DAMN BUFFERING on audio samples.

Thank you.

Sincerely,
Me.

P.S.  Or, maybe I can start buying all tracks from Amazon.com? Now there’s an idea.

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Today’s Musical Blast from the Past

“Music Box Dancer” by Frank Mills.

I still remember when this was a hit–I was 10  years old!  I could never get enough of it back then, and can’t now, either.

I heard it in passing a couple of days ago on a video I was watching (it was an episode of The Sopranos), and, not having heard it in years, I completely spaced on whatever the dialog was in the scene.  Then, early this morning I had a dream where this song was the soundtrack, where it was somehow encrypted/embedded in some kind of odd video presentation.  I never did get to figure out what the deal was, though, because the stupid alarm clock went off.  But it was sufficient to implant the song in my brain, where it’s been repeating pretty much all day long.

Luckily, it was available on iTunes.  Listening to the actual song is much nicer than the earworm.  And, I believe I may be breaking my previous record for greatest number of plays in the first few hours of having the song…let’s see:  bought it at 5:53 p.m. tonight.  It’s now 7:12 p.m. and the play count is 22.  And no, I did not cheat! :P

It’s a totally delightful song. :)  And here is the Wikipedia page.

The fact that this song became popular at all is really the result of a lucky accident:  In 1978 it was re-released as the b-side of a single which was sent to a bunch of easy-listening radio stations in Canada.  But one copy was sent to the wrong station by accident–it went to pop station CFRA-AM in Ottawa, whose music director liked it so much that he added it to the station’s playlist.  Response was very positive (not surprisingly, considering how neat and completely endearing the song is), and the song’s popularity spread from there.

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Poland: The Warsaw Concert

Currently listening to: Tangerine Dream, “Poland.” This dates from 1984, and is a live double-album (two CDs, for the version I have), recorded in Warsaw, complete with Polish-language introduction at the beginning. Tangerine Dream at this point in history constituted Chris Franke, Johannes Schmoelling and Edgar Froese.

This period in the early 1980’s was, IMHO, the high point for this group, although they did some stuff in the mid-70’s that I liked too. They have changed so much since their inception that they are basically unclassifiable without specifying what the time period is. In fact, I recall an argument a number of years ago between a well-intentioned fan of their earlier work and a self-appointed topic-nazi who insisted that Tangerine Dream belonged solely in the “new age” category. He was apparently unaware of some of their early work, which is more appropriately placed in the “electronic” category than just about any other music. Try “Atem” or “Rubycon” for instance. Yes, they have used some conventional instruments on their albums, but it’s done in a way that compliments the electronics so well that the “normal” instruments are often unrecognizable, unless you know what to listen for.

In any case, here are my favorite works by this group. I considered putting them in most- to least-favorite order, but then realized that, really, my favorite is whichever one I happen to be listening to at the time. This, then, is just alphabetical order:

Hyperborea (1983)
Poland (1984)
Ricochet (1975)

I also recall, from way back then, quite enjoying their soundtracks for the movies Wavelength and Risky Business, which are what initially drew my attention. I never did get around to purchasing those soundtracks, though. I suppose the problem was that, during the time I was most actively buying compact discs, which was five to ten years later, those two hadn’t been re-issued on CD.

Incidentally, this version of Poland is one of the complete versions: Relativity 88561-8045-2. There are apparently a number of incomplete CD versions out there. This one features five tracks total:

Disc 1:
1) Poland [22:37]
2) Tangent [15:53]
3) Finish [4:02]

Disc 2:
1) Barbakane [18:05]
2) Horizon [21:10]

(That adds up to about an hour and twenty minutes.)

Some versions don’t contain Tangent, which is really unfortunate because that’s not only the best track of the five, but possibly one of the best tracks they’ve ever done. Barbakane is also quite excellent in its full length. I’d hate to lose part of it.

The third track on the first disc is kind of a “surprise” track. It’s NOT listed on the box inserts, nor on the surface of the disc itself. It’s not even listed in the CD booklet. Because of this, I never knew the name of it until today, when I finally ripped the discs into iTunes and the Gracenote database told me. (Of course, given the number of mistakes in the Gracenote database, it’s entirely possible that the title is wrong. It’s an OK track, but not as good as the other four in my opinion.)

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Tonight’s listening…

For some reason, this popped into my brain tonight (click on the icon to make it bigger):

Specifically, I was being earwormed by the first song, “Moving”, which has long been a favorite of mine.  Great stuff.  It was impossible to resist pulling up iTunes and whistling along with it for a while.  It’s a great song for whistling.

The album as a whole is pretty quirky.  The first time I ever heard it, I couldn’t resist raising my eyebrows a bit at the girl who was playing it for me, and she, of course, looked a little sheepish.  But that first song rang a bell, and eventually I realized I had heard it before, while eating pizza in a Rocky Rococo on State Street in Madison, roughly 1988 or so.  I remembered sitting there in the restaurant, wondering what on earth I was hearing, and…liking it in a way I wasn’t accustomed to.  The girl, a potential girlfriend, with whom things were going very, very awkwardly, was playing me the album about a year and a half after that slice of pizza.  Not long after that, I found myself plunking down the money for the CD.

Some of the songs are, to say the least, a bit odd, but in a fun way.  Anyone who gets a chance to hear it should not expect….normalcy.  But, as has been said, “Why be normal?”  Many of the things I value the most in life have resulted from not being normal, and, quite frankly, I find most “normal” music to be deathly boring.  So go for it. ;)

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