the Buzz for March 2009

26
Mar

“A peanut butter and jelly sandwich can’t be anything but peanut butter and jelly. Creamy peanut butter and crunchy peanut butter can never, ever be a PB & J.’’

— New Hampshire State Representative John Cebrowski, resorting to an infinitely nonsensical (if not outright stupid) food analogy in order to (attempt to) explain how same-sex marriage defies the natural order of the universe. (A bill to legalize same narrowly passed the New Hampshire House of Representatives today, and apparently this goofy tirade was the best Cebrowski could come up with off the top of his head to voice his opposition. And while I’d be willing to wager that he didn’t sway many with his metaphorical outrage, I reckon he sure made some folks hungry.)

25
Mar

 

Of all the ridonk, useless “deluxe editions” to which we’ve been subjected of late, this relatively busy week brings one whose original album — a genuine modern classic — actually merits the upgrade. Read on:

 

 

Obviously emboldened by the brilliantly triumphant ’80s mix they assembled last spring, the folks at Now That’s What I Call Music! have trudged forth with a series of similarly themed compilations, and while subsequent editions (covering, among other genres, the best of country, classic rock, and Motown) have wholly failed to be as uniformly riveting as the ’80s set was, this week brings a fairly worthy successor, as Now That’s What I Call Power Ballads! lands in record stores. A sterling mix of evergreen chestnuts (Journey’s “Faithfully,” Night Ranger’s “Sister Christian,” Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing,” Tesla’s “Love Song”) and forgotten favorites (Sheriff’s “When I’m With You” and Queensryche’s “Silent Lucidity,” a pair of tunes that haven’t crossed my mind in, literally, decades!), the only flaw that bars Ballads from reaching the same level as its vaunted ancestor is the complete and shameful absence of REO Speedwagon and Foreigner, a pair of pioneers who absolutely helped create the power ballad movement, and who could have easily been swapped out for subpar tracks by The Scorpions and Slaughter, neither of which deserves the coveted real estate (sandwiched in between Survivor’s heart-rending “The Search is Over” and Extreme’s smash throwback “More Than Words”) they have been inexplicably handed on this album. Also out this week: installment number 30 in the original Now! series, which passes muster with terrific radio hits from Lady GaGa, Britney Spears, Jason Mraz, Nickelback, and All-American Rejects.

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24
Mar

“That’s who I am. I’ve got a King James in one hand and a Crown and coke in the other. I think we all know Jesus didn’t turn the water into Dr. Pepper.”

— country artist John Rich (of Big and Rich fame), explaining the title of his brand new solo record, Son of a Preacher Man. (And, no, don’t get y’all’s knickers in a twist: Rich does not cover Dusty Springfield on this album, although, if he had decided to, it certainly would’ve lended severe credence to Sherry Ann’s long-standing belief that both Big and Rich, umm, play for my team.)

19
Mar

 

All apologies for the tardiness of this week’s record store report: my day job schedule for the remainder of this month is jus’ crazy, so let me apologize for the spotty posting which will surely result from my need to earn a living. Thankfully, the pickins are mighty slim this week, which gives you a perfect chance to revisit last week and catch up on anything you might have missed in that jam-packed madness. (If you need a clue for where to turn first, let me just scoop my forthcoming review of Kelly Clarkson’s latest album by saying simply this: I’m thinking of a word; the word is dynamite.)

 

Do I already proudly own every last track — Counting Crows’ untouchable 1994 classic “Round Here,” Hole’s 1999 stomper “Malibu,” or 3 Doors Down’s elegant 2002 heartbreaker “Be Like That” (which featured a true star-making vocal performance from Brad Arnold), or Oasis’ 1996 gem “Don’t Look Back in Anger” (which unfortunately was overshadowed by the behemoths — “Wonderwall” and “Champagne Supernova” — that preceded it on the radio) that deserves its placement on Buzz Ballads 2? Damn straight I do. Is that going to prevent me from shelling out the ten or so bucks required to purchase this album, which manages to wrangle all the aforementioned tuneage (and so much more untold brilliance!) onto one shining, beautiful, eminently listenable disc? The hell you say!

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17
Mar

enough said

posted at 6:10 pm by brandon in spaulding express, ready to roll!

“You are almost there.”

— a strangely compelling proclamation, tacked onto the beginning of a link-filled comment advertising something to do with sapphires and such, which got stuck in the Buzz’s spam filter. (These bright little inspirational gems show up in the spam filter at least once a day, and I must confess, I’ve come to look forward to whatever gleaming platitudes, no matter how banal or trite, lay in wait for me each time I open it. I’m easy. Sue me.)

10
Mar

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9
Mar

 

After sleepwalking through the past several weeks, we’ve finally got a release slate we can really sink our teeth into. While we wait to see what gifts this week’s lineup of music has in store for us, allow me to throw out this question for discussion: am I the only one who thinks the new U2 record is mind-numbingly inane and dull? What the hell was Rolling Stone thinking giving that ridiculousness a five-star review?! (I would take a stab at tackling that second one, but I’m afraid I already know the answer and it would just be way too depressing to see it in cold print.)

 

After Eric Clapton (whose incredible, stripped-down versions of “Layla” and the devastating “Tears in Heaven” notched their album sales of ten million-plus and won their performer a wagonful of Grammys) and Mariah Carey (whose impromptu cover of The Jackson 5’s “I’ll Be There” became a radio supersmash) showed the network what a commercial goldmine it had on its hands in the early ’90s, a spare and intimate appearance on “MTV Unplugged” suddenly became a mandatory promotional tool — within a pair of years, Neil Young, Nirvana, 10,000 Maniacs, and Melissa Etheridge all had turned in landmark performances — and for many, a nifty li’l comeback vehicle. Take the case of Rod Stewart, who reunited with his former Faces partner Ronnie Wood for an acoustic set and unwittingly hurled his career back into orbit. Thanks to a startlingly fine cover of Van Morrison’s “Have I Told You Lately,” upon which — to the surprise of more than a few — top 40 radio immediately leapt, the resulting live album, entitled Unplugged… and Seated, went on to move more than three million units stateside and produced two additional hit singles (a reworked version of his early classic “Reason to Believe” and a raucous cover of Sam Cooke’s “Having a Party”). Unplugged returns this week in a special expanded edition which contains two bonus tracks — including a radically reinvented take on his 1989 smash “Forever Young” — as well as the original television broadcast, which finally makes a belated debut on DVD. And trust your Uncle Brandon, here if nowhere else: if only for Stewart’s priceless rendition — which can now be enjoyed aurally and visually, natch! — of Tom Waits’ unspeakably magnificent “Tom Traubert’s Blues (Waltzing Matilda),” this is worth the purchase price. (And memo to MTV, Natalie, and/or whomever else may be in charge of this: I’m still waiting for the aforementioned 10,000 Maniacs episode from 1993 — the recording of which would damn straight be one of my five desert island discs — to make its way to DVD, and am willing to do whatever is necessary — up to and including pleading right here on the Buzz — to facilitate the correction of that foolishness.)

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5
Mar

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4
Mar

“I like to create things from all that I’ve seen, and witnessed. That becomes more frustrating when you don’t have an outlet. You can sit and write at home, you can do all this stuff, and you think, ‘What am I doing? I’m writing for nothing, because nobody’s interested in what I’m saying, nobody’s interested in what I’m thinking.’ And it can become very, very difficult… because creating is a very solitary act. And it’s very lonely. And you think nobody’s gonna hear you, until someone does. And then they do, and then you worry the next time. What keeps you alive is creativity. That’s the life force. So that can’t leave you…. You’ll be up and down, but I’ll just say this much: take your ego and put it over here, and just witness. Don’t be it: don’t be a failure, don’t be not perfect… just witness. Witness your behavior, witness your feelings. And those will change, as everything does.”

— Academy Award-winning actress Goldie Hawn, shootin’ the bull with the students of Inside the Actors Studio

3
Mar

 

Not much going on out there this week, except the biggest band in the free world returns from a five-year hiatus. Yippee-ky-yay, kids.

 

Remixes of recent smashes from Britney Spears (the thrilling “Womanizer”), David Archuleta (the hilariously addictive “Crush”), Pink (“So What” if it’s brilliant fun?), Coldplay (“Viva La Vida,” 2008’s song of the year, if you take the Grammys’ word for things), and the infinitely irritating Katy Perry (“Hot & Cold,” a song that makes A smile broadly urry time it pops up on the radio, which is unspeakably often) highlight the latest collection from Thrive Records, Total Dance 2009.

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3
Mar

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2
Mar

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1
Mar

All the wire service obits I’m reading place his peak audience at some 24 million people nationwide, but please allow me to be the first to respectfully call bullshit on that ridiculousness: if you’ve listened to a frickin’ radio in the last half-century plus — and, honey, that’s everybody — you’ve damn well heard his program no less than once. And even though so few of us were fortunate enough to meet him in person, all of us who listened regularly considered him a dear, treasured friend.

 

American radio — hell, America period — lost one of the true giants yesterday, as 90-year-old broadcasting pioneer Paul Harvey passed away from unknown causes in Arizona. On some 1200 stations across the country, Harvey’s magnificently melodious voice could be heard twice a day — once narrating a noon newscast which was filled with blurbs both silly and profound, and again during evening drive time, when he’d pop up out of nowhere to deliver unto us “The Rest of the Story,” a daily five-to-seven-minute anecdotal yarn, generally about a famous person or event, whose brilliant gimmick was that you wouldn’t know about whom or what Harvey was speaking until the final sentence. (True story: I used to stay up until the wee hours of the morning reading some of the best of “The Rest” to Sherry Ann over the telephone, from the two great books in which Harvey compiled his favorite such tales.) Staccato ramblings and intonations never sounded so good.

 

Literally, I can’t remember my life without Mr. Harvey in it. When I was a tender ingenue, I used to so love listening to Harvey’s noon broadcast (with its classic proclamation, “Stand by… for news!”) on good ol’ 1490 KQTY out of Borger, Texas, that I would actually mute “Days of Our Lives” for the entire length of Harvey’s show. (It’s hard to comprehend now, considering what a godawful war-torn hot mess that once-mandatory serial has degenerated into, but in those days, “Days” was sacrosanct, babe. I wouldn’t even turn the volume down on that show for my mother!) Such was my devotion to his magnificent mastery of his chosen craft.

 

And having recently gotten my own radio show off the ground, it’s never been more apparent to me how hard he worked to make what he did, and did with such gorgeous and breathtaking grace, seem so effortlessly easy.

 

Godspeed, Paul. My one wish, sir, is that somewhere up there tonight, for a change, the angels are telling you the rest of the story.

 

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