So it's Saturday and we all know what that means, Laura Flanders! I'll get to that in a bit. But you don't want to miss the broadcasts this weekend -- you never want to miss them, but this weekend has some especially exciting guest. No fair scrolling down to find out who. Let the antipation build. Anticipation, Anti-ci-paaaaation, as Carly Simon would sing it.
A few e-mails ask what I planned to say about the NSA hearing Tuesday (when Blogger screwed up and I lost my entire post)? I had evaluated the coverage on Pacifica and how important the coverage is. Yes, C-Span often has a camera in a room that lets you see what's happening. But without someone providing perspective, we can miss out on a lot. I was really impressed with the coverage Tuesday and had gone into why that was the case.
Larry Bensky and Elizabeth de la Vega did a wonderful job. I don't believe in trying to recreate what's lost (I'm speaking of posts but you could apply it to my life as well) so I won't go over all the points I made in the lost post Tuesday night, but I will say that they did a wonderful job covering the live broadcast.
As for the performance in the hearing itself, go read C.I.'s "NYT: Republicans seek a 'bridge' (Brooklyn, so they can sell it to you?)" because that's a fine job covering what many of us felt, as we listened with our jaws dropped at the realization that the Democrats still can't get the basics across (as a whole) and that the Republicans are more interested in party politics. You'd think the recent polls and Bully Boy's dropping numbers would give them the cover to find their courage, but thus far, that's not the case.
I've had two reviews at The Common Ills this week:
"Kat's Korner: Cat Power's Greatness"
"Kat's Korner: Nina Simone -- Golden"
The last one made it up the last day of February. Thank goodness, or I would have heard about, "Hey, you used to reviews all the time, now you're missing two months in a row." Those both would have posted on Sunday had The Common Ills not been "white listed" by Blogger/Blogspot. I went in Sunday afternoon since I was already up (long, long session with The Third Estate Sunday Review) and intended to post both and then go to bed.
No luck at all. They wanted "word verification" but it wasn't words, it was a string of letters and they need to work on their cursive writing. After I had 'failures to post' repeatedly, I finally gave up. The way it worked out, however, ("it is what it is") I ended up with one for Feb. and one for March. I do intend to do at least one more this month.
Tammy e-mailed that she got Cat Power's The Greatest and she loves it. But she said, "You always praise everything." I don't think that's true. I'm not interested in slamming someone who is really trying. So I'll take a pass on reviewing a CD like that if it's not my idea of wonderful but the person has really made an effort. I also only write if I feel I have something to add. Often that means that the male critics are piling on some woman so I'll use my voice to weigh in.
I outrighed slammed Carole King's The Living Room because e-mails kept coming in on that. I was very excited at the prospect of a live Carole King CD and had mentioned that album over and over before it was due to come out. When it came out, people kept e-mailing asking where the review was? If I hadn't pushed it so hard, I wouldn't have felt the need to weigh in on it after I listened to it. But I had pushed it and I didn't want anyone picking it up because I had built it up and then stayed silent after it was released.
With Stevie Wonder, I hated the lyrics. I noted that in my review and said to listen to it for his vocals and for the music. Stevie Wonder has a great singing voice. He's one of my favorite singers and it's a rare week when I don't listen to at least one of his albums. But I didn't care for the lyrics which seemed all surface to me.
But Tammy's right, I would rather praise than bury. Tons of crap is released every Tuesday. We're up to our ears in it. I don't see the point in making a crap release the point of a review.
That's not to say I won't weigh in on the Disney Kids at some point. But I would rather make the focus to steer you to something I think you'll enjoy.
Tammy also wondered why Aimee Mann's The Forgotten Arm didn't make my year's best list? I love the album. It wasn't considered for the list because of how I compiled the list. I went to my CD racks and pulled down all the CDs from this year that I had enjoyed. Then I spent a few hours deciding which ones to include.
Aimee Mann wasn't an option because it had been "borrowed" by Maggie. Nothing made the list without me listening to it (and others in the running) again. I didn't have Mann's CD so I couldn't put it on the best of. (I still don't have it back, hint-hint Maggie.)
There seems to be some trouble for people attempting to find Nina Simone's The Solid Gold Collection. It's an import, so you'll need to go to a store that carries them, probably. I did pick mine up at Tower (for less than ten bucks) so, if you have a Tower in your area, you can try them. You might also try ordering online but I'm told that's been no luck for two people. Besides Nina, the same company (and this was on a cardboard display rack so I'm guessing that all the Towers will have these CDs), you had (from the same company, England's Union Square Music, LTD) a Bob Marley collection, a Jame Bond collection and more. I was tempted by Bond Themes. Why? There are a few I enjoy. Carly Simon's "Nobody Does It Better," for instance. Paul McCartney's "Live and Let Die." But I've never enjoyed a Bond single so much that I'd buy a soundtrack album (which is full of instrumentals plus the hit single). At less than ten bucks, that seemed like a smart purchase. The next time I'm at Tower, I might pick it up. But I went in for the Nina Simone CDs because two community members had already e-mailed about them.
A lot of e-mails went to The Common Ills public account over the last two reviews. They (C.I., Jess and Ava) finally just created a folder for them and told me to check it (instead of forwarding them, the way C.I. usually does). I wasn't aware so many people were reading them or that the community continued to grow so much. Dale e-mailed (noting "this is my first e-mail" to me) to say he'd picked up Cat and was loving it. He'd also picked up James Blunt and noted that "I was ahead of the curve thanks to your review." (In 2006, Blunt's Back to Bedlam has regularly made it into the top ten selling albums on Billboard's chart.) Which, to drop back a few paragraphs, is really what I'd rather do with the reviews. Get the word out on something you may not have heard of.
Every now and then, someone tries to figure out a way to get the word out to the listeners who are leaving the teen years but still hungry for music. It's usually an insulting mix of faded rock gods (male) with a new female face tossed in (inside the mag, not on the cover). Then the mags fail. (Has Tracks been discontinued yet?) I don't think we lose interest in music as we leave behind the teenage years. "The Circle Game" (nod to Joni Mitchell) goes on and on. But what you often have is less time. You're not in the mood to wade through a mag giving you product, product, product, here's an artist, product, product, product.
I try to write about something that speaks to me. I'm not interested in the bandwagon or being one more voice saying, "Bob Dylan is god!" Besides the fact that there are more than enough voices saying that, the fact remains that Dylan wasn't "the sixties." He was one voice. And in any period, only a small number of women will be included. Procol Harem, for God's sake, is remembered. There are a number of women who made consistently strong music at the same time but they're forgotten.
A man can do one trick nicely (one trick pony) and be applauded for the rest of his life. Women are left out of the mix. Their accomplishments get slighted and ignored. So if you're reading me here or one of my reviews, that's where I'm coming from. I'm saying, the sixties weren't just Bob Dylan. I'm saying, "James Taylor was never all that." (He has the worst intonation problem of any successful singer I know of.)
Who'll be remembered today? Of people on the charts, I'm not seeing anyone that really should be. Radio sucks. So let's drop back to the 90s and note the alternative genre. It's a fave topic in the last few months as various mags trot out their Kurt Cobain's covers and their "we look back" coverage. It's interesting to see slight bands like Alice in Chains, for instance, included in the coverage. As you go through those issues, note who's included and who is left out. Most of them include Hole and you have to wonder if Courtney Love's band made it into the issue only because she's a "wife of . . ." (Kurt Cobain, for the kiddies who may be lost).
Tori Amos has consistently sold. She's consistently created art and done so in her own voice. She is a part of the alternative music scene. But you don't see her in these "we remember alternative music." You don't come across The Breeders (who outrocked anything Alice in Chains could dream of with "Last Splash"). You don't see L7 or any number of women.
The writers, usually White and usually male, aren't interested. The women don't make the sports trading cards from which they read the "scores" and "stats" and then go on to write their features. I'm not shocked by the level of attention Liz Phair has gotten in the last few years. Why not? She's pure sex product these days (making some very generic music). It's easy to mention her and lament how bad she's gotten. Why? "Women can't rock!" That's been the cry for years and years and they're happy to have Liz to cite as an example.
The same White male critics that can find a place in the rock canon for the piano runs and mush of Elton John will turn around and close the gates on women. I'm not playing that game.
So hopefully, if you're new to my reviews, that helps you understand a little better. Dale loves Back to Bedlam and wonders if I still think the production is a bit much? Yes, I do. If you purchase the import Chasing Time: The Bedlam Sessions, you can hear James Blunt without all the fussy production. (First disc is a DVD which I still haven't watched. Second disc is music.)
Now let's talk Laura:
RadioNation with Laura Flanders
Does might make right?
The mighty dollar in US politics. The mighty nuke in global politics.
Saturdays & Sundays, 7-10pm ET on Air America Radio
John Bonifaz on the Supreme Court's most important election case in decades. Bush's bungled nuclear power ambitions and trip to India and Pakistan. Plus, voices demanding to be heard: Arundhati Roy, Walter Mosley, and an Iraqi woman's delegation led by CodePink's Medea Benjamin. And some hip-hop poetry, just when the world needs a new soundtrack. As always, a one-hour version of last weekend's program is available at http://www.thenation.com
It's all on RadioNation with Laura Flanders this weekend on Air America Radio.
Arundhati Roy! Medea Benjamin! Walter Mosely! In one weekend? And there even more. So make a point to check out RadioNation with Laura Flanders this weekend. And check out Cedric on the Oscars and Elaine on the diversity in the peace movement.
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