Saturday, February 28, 2009

Ray Davies: A Well Respected Man, at last?

Maybe I'm just taking the time to dissect my Ray Davies Google Alerts, but it seems like my man is finally getting some of the long-elusive respect he so rightly deserves.

First, his musical comedy Come Dancing, the one my daughter and I took off on a crazy cross-Channel weekend to see, won the What's On Stage award for the best off-West End production of 2008.

Now, his name is suddenly popping up all over the press. To wit, take a look at the high-flung praise that just the last three days has brought through my wires:
  1. [In 1968] "There was terrific music wherever you turned, including The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society - Ray Davies' concept album about pastoral England...", February 28 2009
  2. "As a kid, Fountains of Wayne bassist Adam Schlesinger would listen to Kinks records and dream about the places they describe.

    One of his favorites, 'Waterloo Sunset,' may be about a dirty London subway station, but songwriter Ray Davies finds a way to romanticize the ordinary...

    Since the mid-'90s, Schlesinger and his songwriting partner, singer and guitarist Chris Collingwood, have upheld Davies' proud tradition." Hartford Courant, February 26, 2009
  3. "Brooklyn's Mitch Friedman has just released his fourth album of idiosyncratic, funny, original quirky pop - GAME SHOW TEETH...Even Ray Davies, song-writing legend and lead singer of The Kinks [Am I really reading this? "Even" Ray Davies?], has become a fan of Friedman's unique skills as a wordsmith. Having attended a Davies song-writing course in England, Friedman took the advice of the sixties legend that every song must have a clear structure and composed 'This Is a Song' - an amusing tribute to the simple formula that can be found in so many beautiful pieces of pop. (, February 26, 2009)
  4. "'There have been a million records that tell you a straight story and, really, is anybody going to do it better than Ray Davies?'" he [Bryan Poole, guitarist for Of Montreal] says."(, February 27, 2009)
Kinks fans, be of good cheer. Our day has come!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The 15 most significant albums in my life

So, I got this idea from my big blog buddy Elisabeth. Except I first did it on Facebook.

Has anyone else noticed how bloggy things are happening on Facebook? All of the sudden it's all tags and memes. Well, at least I prefer that to inane quizzes.

Anyway, I like this list concept because it's not a list of "My Favorite Albums." There's a big difference between favorite and significant.

So, with no further ado, minimum linkage, and in order at least for the first seven or so:

1. Schoolboys in Disgrace by The Kinks:

This is anything but the best Kinks album. In fact, many would argue it's one of the worst. But it's the first one I owned and the one that really got me interested in the Kinks as purveyors of more than singles. The rest is history: my history.

2. My Aim is True by Elvis Costello:

I saw the future of British rock and roll and his name was Declan McManus. I also saw his first US tour at the Waldorf in San Francisco. His part of the concert lasted 28 minutes.

3. Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen:

I saw the future of American rock and roll and his concerts lasted four hours.

4. Reckoning by REM:

When I was teaching in the USA and wondering whatever I was going to listen to, other than Bruce Springsteen, now that New Wave was dying out, one of the people tagged in this article suggested I try REM. I took his suggestion.

5. Meet the Beatles:

Because my mom brought it home on vinyl and I'll always remember how it looked sitting in our living room. Plus it has a song from the Music Man on it, which is pretty cool.

6. Squeezing Out Sparks by Graham Parker:

Well, it's the only autographed album I own because I went to a record-signing and met Graham Parker. And it's just so bloody brilliant.

7. Blonde on Blonde by Bob Dylan:

OK, I admit, this is here because it's my favorite Dylan album. So by definition, it's significant.

8. Singles Going Steady by The Buzzcocks:

Maybe it's not cool to include greatest hits albums, but I think this is about all one really needs of the Buzzcocks. Call it distilled genius.

9. Face to Face by The Kinks:

Or the one where I became konvinced that The Kinks were, and always will be, better than the Beatles.

10. Live at the Roxy by Michel Polnareff:

It's a family affair.

11. Straight Up by Badfinger:

At one point, Badfinger was my number two group. Given their tragic history (two suicides), now I just feel sad when I listen to them, especially to the song "Name of the Game" by Pete Ham (1947-1975) which is on this album.

12. Late for the Sky by Jackson Browne:

The beauty of song.

13. Parallel Lines by Blondie:

Pure pop for now guys and gals, in all its glory.

14. Stop Making Sense by The Talking Heads:

Because it doesn't.

15. Le Fou Chantant en Public by Charles Trenet:

Recorded in 1987, this fabulous concert by the then 74-year-old Trenet is a gem. I'll always regret not seeing him in concert in the early 90s, when I had two opportunities to do so. But I take some comfort in the fact that apparently he was a totally odious person in real life.

I would love to read anybody else's lists, but especially Randall's, Holly's, Joe's, spacedlaw's, and one from the guy who is playing an all-Kinks show on WCBN-FM as I write.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Unconscious Mutterings 11

  1. Be mine ::
  2. tonight
  3. Ecstatic ::
  4. like
  5. Orderly ::
  6. hospital
  7. Sebastian ::
  8. Belle
  9. Sore ::
  10. Neck
  11. Don’t need ::
  12. this
  13. Rockstar ::
  14. Oh, yeah
  15. Tinfoil ::
  16. AluMInium as the British say
  17. Addiction ::
  18. to love
  19. Where? ::
  20. or when?

Click here for this week's Unconscious Mutterings. It's really a lot of fun to do!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Listography, or organizational geekiness headquarters

(I would like to credit this photo but can't quite figure out where it comes from.)

Somehow as I was creating my 101 things to do in 1001 days list, which I have finally finished, I ran into the site Listography. As its name implies, it's a place to write lists. And it is cool, as well as extremely easy-to-use.

They even have something a simplified html-like system that allows you to check, cross off, italicize and more without having to write type characters like the one I just tried to write, but that wouldn't show up on this post because it was html.

There is a lot more to do with Listography then I have done so far, but if you want to take a look at my incipient geeky lists, feel free.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Unconscious Mutterings 10

  1. Take :: a break, take it easy

  2. 350 :: days

  3. Stand :: By Me

  4. Raspberry :: my grandma

  5. Turnstile :: Métro

  6. Infomercial :: Yuk

  7. Dejected :: Rejected

  8. What’s the word? :: in English for...

  9. Awestruck :: Starstruck

  10. Smashed :: Pumpkins
Random photo linked to item 1 courtesy of Design for Mankind, which looks like a pretty cool blog if you're into modern design and fashion. These two kitties are definitely taking it easy.

Click here for this week's Unconscious Mutterings.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

General update: bracing myself for February

I really don't care for February whatsoever. As I turn the calendar, I hate to say I don't have a lot to look forward to. Lots of work, dreadful weather, the feeling that winter will never end...

While I'm at it, let me throw in March, then I won't have to whine about that other disappointing month when I next turn the calendar.

March has absolutely nothing to recommend itself to me. I used to be tricked by its "harbinger of spring" quality, but, at least where we live, it's usually more of the same: lots of work, dreadful weather...and so forth.

At least I have finished my 101 Things to Do in 1001 Days list. I was right -- just doing the list took me a month. Maybe it will give me some much-needed oomph. I must admit it has already helped me focus better on what I want to do with my time.