Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Loverboy - Just Getting Started

One decade after reuniting for their 1997 album VI, Loverboy return with Just Getting Started. It would be even longer for those North American fans that were waiting for the release (unless they went searching for it as an import) as the last new studio release would have been 1987's Wildside. So, for some fans, what does Loverboy bring to the table after so long.

To be truthful, the band has been a touring animal for the last two decades and if they haven't played within miles of your home, you live in an igloo and even I wouldn't want to visit. For you, this album starts off melting a few layers off your domicile with the frenetic title track. It's probably most applicable as throws out lyrics like "ain't over yet," "hot gettin' hotter," "I know you think it's over," "I got more of what it takes," "you know you want another taste" and "better go big or go home." From the get-go, you know that they know how important this album is. "Fade To Black" is a showcase song and stands out as an example of as how the band has merged their rock sound with ballads in the past while linking it to emotional phrasing. The song is possibly the best one on the album. The mix of tracks is pretty even with ripping guitars opening songs like "One Of Them Days," "Lost With You" and "As Good As It Gets" (note that power drum kit). The ballads are also pretty strong including the first single, "The One That Got Away," "Back For More," "Real Thing" and "Stranded" (which includes background vocals by Def Leppard's Phil Collen.)

I think when people remember Loverboy they imagine two different things. Men think "The Kid Is Hot Tonight"/"Turn Me Loose" and the women think "When It's Over"/"Heaven In Your Eyes." Essentially, most male fans pine for the band to return to their rock sounds while their ballads brought that 51% to their shows (and sold many albums.) I can say here that everyone can be pleased with Just Getting Started. The rock songs rock, the love songs emote and Loverboy have valiantly returned.

4 out of 5

BUZZ - Minimal & électronique

French electronic act BUZZ have returned with their follow-up to 2007's Les Musiques Nouvelles. Minimal & électronique is the 19-track self-produced and self-distributed answer to the growing question: "What will artists do without record labels?" It can be ordered at their official MySpace page by sending them a message there. But can an independent album make an impact on the ear?

No waiting for a special edition re-issue, this album includes everything with original tracks, remixes and experiments leading you towards the title track. Ever notice how most times an album leads with the title track instead of taking you on a journey towards it? This disc does just that. The title is an obvious reference to the Veronica Vasicka hosted East Village Radio series Minimal-Electronik Plus (a podcast series featuring electronic artists of the mid-80s.) The track features the host and a second track included on the disc is titled "East Village Radio." Both are featured in several different mixes on the album including the ambient yet jazzy "East Village Radio (Dirty Sweet Project remix.)" But I believe the whole album leads you to the finale. There are several stand-out tracks here that don't get the remix treatment and are possibly better for it. "Petite Poupée Japonaise" has an upbeat piano line that leads one happily through the etheric vocals and darker undertones. "Je Suis Avec Toi" lures you in with a strong bass synth line and drum machine combo as the vocals (literally meaning "I am with you") mesmerize. "Parce que je n'ai pas d'âme" is possibly the most emotive vocal performance on the disc paired with syrupy keyboard hook amidst spacy textures. Also notable are the very sensual "Viel Zu Modern!," energetic "Belles Comme des Bouddhas," "Sérénade Pour Un Renégat" (which features Renegade Soundwave's Gary Asquith) and "God Bless America" (which contains samples of President George W. Bush's post-9/11 State of the Union speech.) I can't say there are any problems with the remixes. The choice of remixers is strong and the mixes are spread throughout the disc as to avoid repetition or overkill. I remain impressed with the near gothic entanglements of "Orange M. (Néolymb remix)" while vocally Jean-Christophe seemingly channels a French Falco.

I've been impressed with many albums that have had touches of French vocals (from Camouflage's Methods Of Silence to Enigma's MCMXC AD) but I can't say that I've wanted to search the terms so readily until now. The mood set by the tones of the music and lyrical evocation express enough to by-pass any language as it speaks tomes to the ears. There are few that will not appreciate Minimal & électronique at least on some level but fans of electronic music, independent music and strong production will rejoice.

3.5 out of 5

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Unexpected 3-Day Break

It was a normal Sunday morning. I weighed myself (because this is normally my cheat day and I get to see where the results of the week got me.) It was pretty odd because I decided to weigh myself the day before also and came in at 199, so Kerry predicted 198. 196.5 popped up instead. So, almost 30 lbs. lighter.

But something had been bugging me all week. A gurgling/bubbling sound when I took a deep breath. (Of course, my answer to that was not to do that.) I left work early last night and went in to see the doctor today. Yes, like many others, I'm down with bronchitis. (Some doctors are believing that that is the form the latest flu is coming in and is being diagnosed the same.) The urge to go finally get looked at came when I thought, "If it is what I think it is and it progresses to pneumonia, Kerry is going to kill me for ruining the wedding."

Anyhow, I'm off for a few days in recovery. In the non-sleep moments, I will take the time to do a few CD reviews for the Web site and maybe finish Stephen Hawking's A Brief History Of Time. And since I'll be doing some of the recuperation at Kerry's house (which has a less fussy computer), I may be able to post some blog comments that I feel very bad about not being able to do previously. Anyhow, I hope all is going well and that you and yours stay healthy.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Classically Martin: Ultravox: Vienna

It was 1980. Go figure. Possibly the best time to make a vocalist change for an electronic band. Ultravox had just lost singer John Foxx to the ever-luring 'solo career.' Instead of going for another frontman with stylings in the glam-rock area, they went for the melodic aristocracy of Midge Ure (of the Rich Kids.) Their album, Vienna, would be a test that many bands had and would in the future take in trying to soothe the fears of their fanbase and claim new musical landscape. The first single, "Sleepwalk," was released with little fanfare (#29). The second single, "Passing Strangers," didn't make a blip on the radar. It could have been heartbreaking. The band released the title track as the third single... and it went to #1 on the U.K. charts (even getting some notice in the U.S.) The previous singles would get noticed again and become part of the classic album that also included the song "All Stood Still." So, for your entertainment, a few videos from the album.


Passing Strangers


All Stood Still

To be noted, the band would keep performing (including a performance of "Vienna" at Live Aid in London) and Ure would co-write "Do They Know It's Christmas" for Band-Aid. He would follow Foxx's lead a few years later. The band's replacement didn't meet with the same success.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Life Update: 022008

Time for a quick post before heading off to work. So, you get another one of these.

  • I've been doing pretty good so far on the diet. I'm down 25 lbs., 4 belt loops (well, I'm down to about a 36 on my pants) and am curious about how long I want to keep going. I figure that another month isn't a bad thing and that way... I can really enjoy the food at the reception.

  • The day after the Super Bowl, I wound up meeting Patriots wide receiver Dante Stallworth. Poor guy. A few of the co-workers were shouting 19-0 which had to hurt. I talked with him for a bit and told him two things. I told him that he's helped me win several match-ups over the last few years in fantasy football. I also mentioned to him that with the coach he has, they'll be going back to the big game shortly. I feel even worse knowing that he's expected to be released from the team on Monday (he's due $8 million in bonuses if he stays.)

  • A boss of mine is in the hospital's ICU. Been stopping in and checking on him. Nice guy but his health isn't that great (even before this stint in the hospital.) I told him that this was a lousy way of trying to get out of going to the wedding. He grinned and weakly said, "I'll be there."

I've gotta get to work, running late. Hope you had a great President's Day.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

The Cut Off

With all the planning that goes into a wedding, you'd think that the most stressful thing would be last-minute preparations, right? Kerry has done an amazing job of managing everything and when information overload occurs, I tell her to stop breathe and we'll sleep on it. It usually works. Yet, what we are finding is that something that should be simpler and resolved keeps coming back to bite us... the cut off for the guest list.

Neither of us want a huge ceremony. So we started with our immediate family and added friends that we see the most (which includes some co-workers as we spend 1/3 of our lives with them.) We drew the line at some of the family that we barely ever see. This was difficult. Sure, most of them live quite a distance from Las Vegas. She has cousins and family on her side that she hasn't seen in decades (as well as some she's never met.) I would love to have some more of my family in Sacramento (heck, some check out the blog) come out for it but know that rearranging their schedules and driving/flying out for one day for a 15 minute ceremony and late lunch doesn't balance out. And again there is the cut off as we are already at capacity seating for the ceremony. Kerry has already fielded calls (and she thinks offended) a member of her family as they had announced the wedding to some of their family neither of us know and proposed a family reunion to occur at the same time. This created a few waves. Both of us would rather just run off and elope than deal with that kind of stress. But, rationally, the end of the line has to be drawn somewhere and we've paid too much to walk away now.

So, that now off my chest, I can express to you the good news. There is a way to view it from your computer. So, I'm giving you an official invite to virtually come to my wedding. I'll be reposting it on Mar. 30th.

Ceremony will be available to view on line at approx. 3pm Pacific Time on March 30th and will be up for 30 days.

Please follow these steps to view a wedding ceremony on line. All ceremonies will be broadcast Pacific Standard Time on our web cam providing the wedding couple has signed a web cam release. This will be verified prior to the start of the ceremony. If you are not viewing from home, but rather a place of business, please check your firewalls, which may prohibit you from viewing.

You will need to have Windows Media Player on your computer. If you do not have this program, there is a free download available on our web site.

*Streaming or downloading a ceremony may take several minutes depending on whether you have a dial up connection or a cable modem.

Log on to
Click on Amenities located on the tool bar at the top of the screen.
Select Wedding Chapel
Beneath the Forever Grand Wedding Chapel photograph, click on Services
Scroll down and click on the plus sign next to Webcam
Click on the web cam link:
Once you have reached the Cashman Professional link, you are able to view Live and Past wedding ceremonies by following the applicable prompts.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Passing Thoughts On Cutts Testimony

Usually, I don't post anything on a Monday. (I'm usually focused on getting the music news done for the newsletter.) But I do listen to the news as I type away. This way, I can catch any breaking news to follow on. So, why the picture of Bobby Cutts, Jr.? For some reason, I can't get it out of my head that... Will Smith should play him in the TV movie. Weird thing to think of while the testimony is going on. Can't shake it loose.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Classically Martin: Thompson Twins: Close To The Bone

Usually I would just focus one of these posts on an artist. This time, I wanted to get more album focus here. Close To The Bone would be the first album by the Thompson Twins as a duo (Joe Leeway had left the band.) It really is an under-rated album with some great tracks. You may recognize one song here, "Get That Love," which got some airplay. I have a vivid memory of my purchase of this cassette as it was a clearance item at Woolworths (we used to have one and I think they closed shortly after.) I played it to death... and think it's in my cassette collection still. So for your entertainment, a few videos from Close To The Bone.

Get That Love

Long Goodbye

One can rightly question why the album (which also includes some great tracks like "Follow Your Heart," "Twentieth Century," "Perfect Day" and "Savage Moon") didn't fare as well when released in 1987. I would say that it was an early failure by record labels relying on the name alone to sell an album and using their money to promote other artists. Of course, we can see where that has led the industry. I digress as it is well worth mentioning that the album was produced by Rupert Hine and included work by the Fixx's guitarist Jamie West-Oram.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Technical Stumblings

I think some of the technical goodies that Blogger has are sometimes fraught with issues. My one problem currently is that I can't see the visual squiggly code needed to give a reply. I'm not saying that I am visually impaired but it isn't coming up (leaves me with a little red X). Refreshing doesn't fix it. I attempted to even try clicking the part that has the handicapped symbol -- which I guess gives you an audio representation of what the letters are supposed to be. Anyhow, no go. Yes, it's happening mostly on Lora's blog but I'm sure that it'll spread.

Another technical issue that I'm dealing with is recording software. There is a great little program out there called Voice Emotion. It allows me to add sound effects and audio tracks (kind of like a little mixing studio) for Talking 80s Music. Of course, I paid for the program to give me all the other options which include live recording. Usually, this gives me the cleanest/clearest version of the show which I can edit down right after the show. It stopped recording at the end of the year. I've worked around it but the audio quality has slipped slightly on the show because of it. So, I thought I'd contact their technical support. They have a voicemail -- I left about two messages (several days apart.) I posted the issue in their support forum -- I was told a month ago that they would forward the question to a developer and to be patient. As you can tell, my optimism is fading there. Might have to figure out another recording option as I may be scheduling new interviews for the year. It makes my head hurt.

Update: Sometimes it's nice to get things out of your head and in linear form. It made me go pick up a program called Pamela Call Recorder. The recording of the show was simple and easy and it played most of my intro and segment music. Above all... better quality than Voice Emotion.