liz_marcs (liz_marcs) wrote,

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Music from the Cube: What Am I Listening to Today?

Happy B-day to the bro. May you have a happy, happy one, full of classic Bugs Bunny goodness!

An interesting selecttion today: U.S. pop folk, Asia, Art of Noise, and the last of the Armstrong. TWO MORE DAYS BEFORE I HIT THE B SECTION OF MY COLLECTION!

*does the Kermit wave with arms in the air* YAAAAAAAAAAAY~!

America's Top Ten Through the Years: The 60s (Folk Years) Rating=$$$$$
[Support the Artist]
How I Got This CD: Freebie from my Bordersverse Daze.

I have an unseemly love for this CD. I'm talking heart-stopping, spirit-lifting, love. This is a collection of folkie tunes from the 1960s that really is the best of the best with selections ranging from Van Morrison's Brown-Eyed Girl (my personal theme song) to Judy Collins's Both Sides Now (which I am positively convinced is a snarky commentary on 'love is blind' rather than something, y'know, positive, which is why I have such a soft spot for it).

My love for this collection somewhat embarrassing. I wasn't even alive when most of these songs were first released.

Anyway, where was I? When I saw this in the demo box,I snagged it as fast as I could for two reasons and two reasons alone: Brown-Eyed Girl and Barry McGuire's Eve of Destruction (the sample song from this collection). I have to face it, this CD collection could've sucked the big one and I'd keep a death grip on it because of these two songs.

Well, death grip turned into "over my dead body" once I got a listen. Songs that I didn't think I knew were actually songs I adored (even if I never caught the titles on the radio), such as You Were on My Mind by We Five, a song, I'm embarrassed to admit, always gets me singing at the top of my very off-key voice in the car. And then there are the familiar favorites, like California Dreamin' by the Mamas and the Papas (shaddup!) and San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Some Flowers in Your Hair) by Scott McKenzie. (Stop laughing at me!)

I'd love to say it's cube-worthy, except you'll be singing and humming and butt-dancing in your chair through almost all 20 tracks. Seriously, keep this for the car and you'll earn fewer glares from your co-workers. If you've got yourself a convertible, so much the better.

This is a CD you'll play over and over and over and over until your ears bleed. Then you'll put it away because you're sick of it. Six months later, it'll be back in the multi-CD player. Really. It's that kind of CD.

It goes without saying that I had a miserable time choosing just one sample track. However, Eve of Destruction became the one that had to go there. This song is all but forgotten, unlike a lot of other selections on the CD, probably because it's as close to an anti-folk folk song as you can get. Seriously, this song has it all: misanthropy, sarcasm, cynicism, and pure, unadulterated rage. You gotta love a song that basically tells you that Kumbaya is not only a stupid song, it's useless and possibly evil to boot. Now that's my kind of song.

But what truly makes this song great is that after hearing the closing stanza, you have the urge to call ol' Barry up and say, "Barry, baby? Forget getting lost for four days in space and coming back to see nothing's changed. Try nearly 40 years after this song made the Top Ten if ya really wanna stay cynical."

Nothing ever changes indeed.

*puts the needle to the record groove and waits for that too-cool analog sound*

Sample Song Download: Eve of Destruction by Barry McGuire

Asia, Then and Now Rating=$$$
[Support the Artist]
How I Got This CD: Bought new when I was just out of college

Admitting you like Asia is sort of like admitting you like Journey (which I don't, thanks). People stop and stare. They pity you your poor musical taste. They offer to hook you up with ELP if you want to hang with the real progressive rockers (personally, can't stand 'progressive rock,' either). But my Asia-like is left over from my high school years, when Heat of the Moment, Don't Cry, and Only Time Will Tell were monster hits. To this day Asia remains firmly tied to a high school classmate who committed suicide shortly before my sophomore year. The night before he blew his own head off with a shotgun, he went to an Asia concert. I can't say I knew him well (I was a "brain" and he was a "basketball jock"), but we did take the same city bus to school, so I suppose I knew him better than most jocks. For my 'birthday present' my freshman year, he hid all of my books and throughout the day would only drop hints on where I'd find them, including a rousing rendition of the "Star-Spangled Banner" in front of the entire class to let me know he hid my science book behind the American flag. *headdesk*

So, to DS wherever your spirit may be, I hope you're kickin' back and resting in peace. Weirdo.

This is probably the only reason why I'm still holding on to the CD and why it rates a "three" rating instead of a "two."

Then and Now is a mix of "best hits" (which include the above list), as well as several new songs that were never hits (one of which is the sample song for this CD). Since I have zero desire to collect all of Asia's CDs or get the box set with all their hits, rarities, and B-sides, I think I'll keep it, but only because I like the "then" part of the CD.

Sample Song Download: Days Like These

Art of Noise, In No Sense? Nonsense! Rating=$$
[Support the Artist]
How I Got This CD: Bought used while I was in college.

Welcome to one of the CDs that defined my college years. Art of Noise was soooooo cool. Soooooo cutting edge. Having this baby made you stand out from the crowd of those Top 40 slaves. Yes, you and the nationwide class of 1990 could prove that you, yes you, would not have your musical tastes dictated to by those pap pop stations!

Plus, I mean, this CD has the theme song to the NEW Dragnet. The one with Tom Hanks and Dan Akroyd. And we all know it doesn't get cooler than THAT!

Sarcasm aside, I'm vaguely surprised this reach for the avant guarde has stood up as well as it has. However, I think the whole "noise as music" concept has been outstripped by technology. Where once there was basically Art of Noise and some lesser lights, we now have mash-up artists going faster and further than Art of Noise ever thought of going. This experimental band had the right idea, but they left the stage in 1985. While the idea of using noise was a nice idea, they didn't quite go all the way on that score either. Many Art of Noise tracks have actual music in them. Compare them to say, Stomp, which actually does use noise in a musical way.

The CD does flow nicely from one track to the next, making it difficult to determine where one song ends and the next begins, something that modern day mash-ups do as a mater of course. As a result, it does make it difficult to pull out one track because you're removing it from its natural environment.

Despite age, time, and the fact that the CD is outdated, if you can pick this up from the used bin, it is recommended. As for the cube, Art of Noise is, for the most part, good ambient music. The one fault is that if you're listening with half-an-ear, sudden introduction of some sounds or the absence of sound may take you by surprise.

Sample Song Download: E.F.L.

Lois Armstrong, When the Saints Go Marching In Rating=$ (for sound quality)
[Support the Artist]
How I Got This CD: Bought as a gift by the Parental Units during Bradley's going-out-of-business EVERYTHING MUST GO fire sale.

Yet another cheap-o re-release from Laserlight and yet another suck-ish sound quality of a live performance. Armstrong fans have all these songs at a much better sound quality. This one is so tossed.

Sample Song Download: When I Grow Too Old to Dream


Read the index for previous thumbnail reviews.

Rating system:
None = Avoid at all cost. Worth cutting your ears off to avoid if someone threatens to play it for you. When faced with even the threat of its cellophane-wrapped presence, your best option is to RUN AWAY! RUN AWAY!

$= If you stumble across it for cheap in a used bin, it might, maybe, perhaps could be worth the buy, but only if you need a cheap coaster for your cold drinks or a cool-looking frisbee.

$$= You might want to give this CD/artist a try, but only if the sample track tickles your fancy. Don't bother buying this one new because the good tunes you'd get out of this one ain't worth that kind of money.

$$$ = Worth looking for on a casual basis and maybe even buying new, but no big rush.

$$$$ = Definitely worth having in the ol' CD collection and definitely worth buying new, but don't re-arrange your personal "must have" list to get your hands on it.

$$$$$ = Why haven't you bought this CD yet? Go. This is a "Want. Take. Have." situation because you so want this.

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