I collect it, play it, research it, discuss it, record it...
and yet I can never get enough, never find "the perfect album" or "the perfect song" or even "the perfect instrument".
Maybe it's the flaws that are so endearing (since flaws are mere deviations from the norm),
so I will continue to search for new and interesting flaws.
This page discusses my favorite music and documents my own musical efforts.
1. My Music
I've been writing and recording music since the early 1980s.
I've also been documenting it painstakingly via mp3s, song notes, and album covers.
Here's what I have to show for it.
- My "serious" solo music tends to be keyboard-based, sequenced, and carefully edited.
- This documents all my early songs, practice tapes, experiments, and other sloppy, unedited recordings.
- This was my keyboard/sax duo from 1988-1990. Embryonic and energetic.
- The Master Anchovies and Dead Anchovies were attempts at creating "real bands"; they operated from 1989-1994.
2. Hosted Sites
I host several band-related web sites.
Each site usually contains news, bios, discography, articles, reviews, sounds, cover scans, a discussion list (with occasional appearances by band members!), ordering information, links, contact info, and more!
- Comsat Angels
- The focus is the Comsat Fellowship discussion list.
- Julian Cope
- The main feature is Rail On (Julian Cope / Teardrop Explodes discussion list), but here you can also find back-issues of The Culture Bunker, sound clips, surveys, a quick album discography (with reviews), and tribute CD information.
- Digital Sex
- From Omaha, Nebraska.
- For Against
- From Lincoln, Nebraska.
- From New York.
- Independent Project Records
- Dedicated to my favorite music label. The main feature is the IPR Encyclopedia, which aims at being the definitive collection of IPR information. The site also has links, news, and a discussion list.
- This isn't a full-fledged label (yet). It currently focuses on providing a showcase and discussion forum for casual musicians.
3. Favorite Artists (and Albums)
Someday I'll try to expand this into a full-fledged review section but for now, it'll focus on my favorites.
Most of my collection is early 80's British post-punk, but I also have lots of jazz, reggae, punk, and new age.
Here's a list of my favorite artists, along with my favorite album from each.
I've arranged them alphabetically by (very broad) genre.
- Buzzcocks - Singles Going Steady (1979)
- The Buzzcocks were the sophisticated, nice-guy cousins of the Sex Pistols and Clash. Their music was still bare bones and blazing, but they lightened the tone and quickened the pace and voila, "pop punk" was born. Singles Going Steady is a head rush of early singles and B-sides. The Buzzcocks reunited in the 1990s, and I'm pleased to say they they are still awesome. Trade Test Transmissions is an excellent comeback album, and probably prompted the recent reunion of the Sex Pistols.
- Chameleons - Strange Times (1986)
- The Chameleons disbanded in 1987, having only released three studio albums. Yet in the decades following their demise, there have been at least 15 posthumous releases of their material. This demonstrates not only the devotion of their fans (and record labels) but the depth and timelessness of the Chameleons' music itself. Their final (pre-90s reunion) album, Strange Times is utterly brilliant, combining the driving, passionate fire of their early music with tenderness, wisdom and sublime beauty. The band reunited in the late 90s; highlights since then are the acoustic live albums.
- China Crisis - What Price Paradise (1986)
- Chiming out the gentlest rock I've ever heard, China Crisis are poppy, soft rock maestros that even my parents would like. Actually, China Crisis are too wimpy for my parents, but I dig 'em, and it's too bad they've all but disbanded. What Price Paradise is their most consistant album, probably the most charming 40 minutes of background music I own. Seriously, China Crisis are wonderfully amiable song writers and stellar performers.
- Clash - The Clash (1977)
- The Clash's debut album's "I'm So Bored with the USA" and "Clash City Rockers" will forever be etched into my brain, right next to "Rock the Casbah" and "Should I Stay or Should I Go" from their final, most popular album, Combat Rock. Raw and spitting, mixing in happy doses of reggae and dub, The Clash is classic punk, classic music. Clashic.
- Comsat Angels - Waiting for a Miracle (1980)
- Shortly after I got into the Comsats, they broke up. :( I usually lose interest in bands at that point, but I guess I had hope of them getting back together, so I collected all their CDs. Waiting For a Miracle was their early 80s debut, and saw them at their most stripped-down, original and catchy: "Waiting for a Miracle" and "Independence Day" are incredibly hard to resist, and kept luring me back to the Comsats even when all I had was a scratchy, horribly skipping dub of Waiting for a Miracle on vinyl. Fans can check out my Comsat Angels discussion group: The Comsat Fellowship.
- Julian Cope - Floored Genius (1992)
- Like brussel sprouts and war games, Julian Cope is an acquired taste. I just happen to love all three! Floored Genius is an excellent best-of covering the first dozen or so years Julian's multi-decade career. For more Cope info, see my Julian Cope Site.
- Cure - Staring at the Sea (1986)
- Wild Mood Swings indeed. The Cure went from angry (Boys Don't Cry) to pensive (Seventeen Seconds) to depressed (Faith) to anguished (Pornography) to poppy (Japanese Whispers), but one thing remained constant: Robert Smith's guitar and voice. Staring at the Sea (which was called Standing on a Beach when it was released on cassette) draws from their emotional, innovative early years.
- Damned - Machine Gun Etiquette (1979)
- Catchy, punky, keyboardy, great! Lots of sing-along songs. I never get tired of this album. Love it!
- English Beat - What is Beat? (1983)
- "Mirror in the bathroom, please talk free / The door is locked, just you and me / Can I take you to a restaurant that's got glass tables / You can watch yourself while you are eating". The (English) Beat were a light, dancy ska/reggae group led by Dave Wakeling and Ranking Roger. What is Beat? is a fun filled and varied review of the Beat's way-too-brief career. Wakeling and Roger went on to form General Public, a slower and more soulful group, and then went each solo a few years before reviving General Public in the 90s. Ranking Roger's solo album is great; it was the first CD I ever bought, but no one else seems to have heard of it.
- Fall - This Nation's Saving Grace (1985)
- The first song I heard by the Fall was "Eat Y'Self Fitter" which was on the Peel Sessions compilation Manchester: So Much To Answer For (1991). "Eat Y'Self Fitter" had me totally bewildered. Here was a band that seemed to have no clue what music was supposed to sound like. Yet, I kept coming back to that song - it was strangely, consistently compelling. That's what the Fall are all about. From the brilliantly catchy This Nation's Saving Grace to the powerful, relentless Slates, The Fall have never been boring, conventional, or popular, making them an excellent long-term investment!
- Gang of Four - Entertainment (1979)
- Along with Wire, Gang of Four focused more on "art punk" or "mood punk" rather than pop punk or reggae punk. Their debut, Entertainment is extremely biting and choppy, churning out rhythms and tones that are caustic and challenging, but catchy. Very energizing!
- Jam - Greatest Hits (1991)
- The Jam were "soul punk." Their style was slower and more melodic than their caustic and hyper brothers. Greatest Hits is an excellent introduction to this most listenable of "punk" bands, from their energetic early days to their Motown-ish later days. Unfortunately, many of the Jam's studio albums are hard to find. Direction, Reaction, Creation is an excellent boxed set, containing the entire studio catalog. A must-have for fans, but overwhelming for newbies.
- Bob Marley - Legend (1984)
- One of the first albums my parents bought me was Legend, the awesome greatest hits by the King of Reggae, Bob Marley. Legend is the most listenable, most universally enjoyed album I have. My next favorite Marley album is Talking Blues, a collection of earlier radio sessions and interview snippets. And then there is Songs of Freedom, the boxed set, which gives an excellent four-CD summary of Marley's legendary career.
- Police - Zenyatta Mondatta (1980)
- The Police's Message in a Box boxed set contains their entire studio work, from the raw, punky "Fallout" single to the sluggish, overproduced swan-song remake of "Don't Stand So Close To Me." Message in a Box also adds B-sides, live cuts and a long, interesting booklet detailing the band's history. Zenyatta Mondatta is their most music oriented album and, unlike the others, contains no "throw away" tracks.
- Public Image Limited - Metal Box (Second Edition) (1979)
- Awesome. I love PIL's early stuff, and listen to it far more than the Sex Pistols. Metal Box is trancy disco-punk. Superb.
- Sex Pistols - Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols (1977)
- These guys started it all, the big British Punk craze. Or, at least, they started the commercialization of it. Never Mind the Bollocks... is not only The Sex Pistols album; it is the only Sex Pistols album. The Pistols had, and still have, the most powerful and pissed off sound of any punk group. The DVD documentaries are great!
- John Coltrane - A Love Supreme (1964)
- Coltrane was one passionate musician. I've never heard an instrument (in this case, the tenor sax) sound so anguished. A Love Supreme is a comfortable compromise between Coltrane's swinging, dittyish earlier material (e.g., Giant Steps) and his later, ultra-chaotic streams of consciousness (e.g., Ascension).
- Miles Davis - Sketches of Spain (1959)
- Miles' emotionality runs nearly as deep as Coltrane's, yet his expression is much more wistful and, well, Cool. Sketches of Spain is a gorgeously exotic trumpet opera, the only "classical" CD I own. My other Davis favorites are Kind of Blue (brilliant modal improv) and Bitches Brew (experimental groove-funk).
- Bela Fleck and the Flecktones - Bela Fleck and the Flecktones (1990)
- The self-titled debut was my introduction to banjo master Bela Fleck and his four ring circus called the Flecktones. Fusing jazz, bluegrass, and rock n' roll, Bela Fleck and the Flecktones is a wild fusion experiment that pays off big time. It showcases the extraordinary improvisational talent of Fleck, Howard Levy (keyboards and harmonica), and the two Wooten Brothers (bass and drumitar, which is a guitar shaped drum machine). They've made lots of cool albums since then, but this one's my recommended starting point.
- Herbie Hancock - Head Hunters (1973)
- Jazz purists may groan, but I love this album, especially the first side, which contains two of the catchiest, funkiest jazz songs ever: "Chameleon" and "Watermelon Man". "Chameleon" is one of the few songs I can listen to ten times in a row and never get fatigued by it. I used to play both of these songs in high school, so they have some sentimental attachment as well. Head Hunters is electronic jazz at its best.
- Fela Kuti - Best of the Black President (1999)
- I am absolutely in love with the music of Fela Kuti. I didn't hear any of his stuff until 2008, and immediately loved it. This compilation is what got me hooked. I then proceded to buy about 50 of his albums within a couple months. I love Fela's long, funky, jazzy grooves, and wish I could make music like this in Tripecac!
- Andreas Vollenweider - Caverna Magica (1983)
- Austrian born harpist Andreas Vollenweider melds New Age, jazz, and pop to create lush musical landscapes, some of which you have probably heard on TV commercials and soundtracks. Caverna Magica is part of a four album, two CD "trilogy" which I highly recommend. All of Vollenweider's albums are worth getting, and are very similar in technique and mood except for Eolian Minstrel, which features a great deal of singing.
I enjoy conducting surveys, but haven't done it in a while.
Here's some of my favorite surveys so far:
- The The
- From 1997, this briefly deals with The The, but is mostly about favorite bands, favorite authors, collection habits, etc. Interesting look into the mind of fellow music aficionados.
- Julian Cope
- My surveys from the late 1990s focus heavily on Julian Cope but also talks about other musical interests and habits.
5. Recommended Links
Here's my favorite music-related sites.
I'll keep it short to emphasize only the best sites.
- This is my favorite online store. I buy most of my music, books, DVDs, computer parts, and just about everything from them. I love their site's user reviews, top-N lists, and used marketplace, and am very impressed with their promptness, prices, and return policies. They also make it easy to sell things, too. Best shopping site ever!
- Action Records
- Specializing in the Fall, this British store has tons of other bands' releases. The prices are sometimes cheaper than Amazon, even with the overseas shipping. The interface isn't nearly as friendly as Amazon, but the service is prompt and reliable.
- Tons of reviews, relatively easy to navigate. I always look here first before buying a CD. My only gripe is that they don't have user reviews.
- Mark Prindle
- Hilarious record reviews! He's a big Fall fan, too!
- In My Room
- Hosted by Mike Edwards, this is my favorite podcast ever!
5.4 Other Cool Music Sites
- Big Takeover
- Jack Rabid's brainchild, The Big Takeover is head and shoulders above any other music magazine out there. It's written with enthusiasm, wisdom, and heart. Checkout the site, read a few sample articles, and get yourself a subscription!
- The Ideal Copy
- Named after a Wire album, this site focuses on British post-punk! Yes!!! It's the best place to find out about post-punk reissues and new releases.