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Radio sucks. I don’t like it. I prefer to listen to my own CD’s. I’d have an iPod, but for the amount of music I have, I’d need the biggest one, and I can’t afford that.
What I’m about to write here further puts me in the “radio sucks” camp. When I do listen to radio, the only stuff I do is sports (and not even then, because I can’t stand most of the pre-pubescant prattle of the Ticket guys), or KRLD for news/weather/traffic & the Texas Ranger games). Rarely do I listen to the radio for music.
I briefly toyed with that during the early part of this year when the radio in my new truck I found was capable of handling “Digital text” which is a relatively new feature for standard radio where your radio display will optimally show you the band name and song of what’s playing along with whatever else the station wants to put there, which for me appears to be the call sign and frequency or something similar. Some stations wimp out and only put their station name and no song titles – what’s the point in that?
But I digress, getting to the point of why radio sucks even more now…
I just read where 97.1 the Eagle is no longer a rock station. It’s now a wimpy music station (“Sunny 97.1”) that plays crap like Nickelback and Cher. What the hell is with that?

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The Sound of Silence

I’m a big fan of iTunes. I think it’s got a great interface, the software is slick, and I can find tunes for a buck. That’s a great deal, IMHO.
However, I ran across a link that is an iMix of songs that are for sale on iTunes that are blank! The fact that empty tracks would be for sale just never crossed my mind. Granted, iTunes works by automation in a lot of places, and I’m sure that’s why there are empty tracks available for sale there, as they’re part of full albums.
But if you have iTunes 4.5 installed, you should click this link. It will open up an iMix link I found showing a bunch of blank tracks. If you vote for the iMix, it will get rated higher, and that would be fairly amusing to see. I didn’t start this idea, but I really enjoy it, so I’m going to try and get this iMix pushed higher. :)
Something else amusing, some of those silent tracks are marked as explicit. Explicit silence. Something very comical about that. :)
Here’s another link with a story that goes into a little greater detail about all these empty tracks on iTunes. I suggest you read it. Gotta love technology sometimes. ;)

Van Halen question

Quick and dirty question.
Been listening to a lot of Van Halen again in prep for their tour this summer/fall. Anyway, I was thinking about the Michael Jackson song “Beat It” with Eddie Van Halen on Guitar.
In doing some research, I found that Van Halen did that a few times live. I was wondering if anyone reading this has any copies of this thing live? If so, drop me a line. Danke.

I miss the Hooters

Who are the Hooters?
The Hooters are a band from Philadelphia who were popular around there, with limited appeal beyond Philadelphia (that I was aware of, anyway) in the mid/late 80’s. They’re called that because of an instrument that they play called a “Melodica”, whose nickname is the Hooter. Normally I like stuff like Black Sabbath, but for me, the Hooters are one top notch band, one I wish had never broken up. I’d have to say their most well known song probably is “All You Zombies”. They’ve also had other hits as well along the way like And We Danced as well as Karla With a K. However, the song that is most well known is “Time after Time” by Cyndi Lauper. Rob Hyman of the Hooters co-wrote that with her, and it was a major hit. In fact, they had broken up before that, and the success of that song led to the band getting back together again around early 1984 or so and getting a record contract.

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2003 CD’s

As 2003 drew to a close, I decided that since I have this blog now, I was going to do a retrospective of some of the CD’s I bought in 2003. I have a listing online of all the CD’s I own here. I’m going to be moving that into my blog once I find the time to do all the formatting and whatnot. If you’d like to see my whole collection, check out that link.
There are some that are up there with my all time favorites I’ve ever bought, and some that were just “OK”. For me personally, I just felt that this was a strong year for music. At least the stuff I like, anyway. :)
Having said that, here’s a list of the CD’s I bought in 2003 (in alphabetical order by band), and what I think of them. You can also click on any of the album covers to go to the page to order that album through, if you’re so inclined.

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Online music services

Is there anyone reading this who is a member of Apple’s iTunes music service? From what I can gather, it’s a pretty decent thing, and it’s supposedly coming for WIndows later this fall. However, I wonder if it’s going to be iPod only. I hope not. Any attempt to actually get into the iTunes store w/o a Mac basically rejects me, so I can’t go and look around. The question I ask is that when you download music from iTunes, are you free to just use it on your computer there, or will it only go to an iPod? I’m hoping not just to the iPod.
I’ve been waiting forever for the kind of online music store where you can buy just a single track, download it to your mp3 collection, and listen to it that way. That’s how works, too. You can download mp3s ala carte, but there are license restrictions – like some only let you have it on one computer, and some have limited burns to CD, or copies to a portable mp3 player. It varies depending on artist and record label, mostly. Given that I can’t use iTunes, I have to go by what’s out there, and is the best for now. That may change once iTunes rolls around.
I like buying singles – I bought a few recently from – the cover of the old Don Henley song “Boys of Summer” by the current band “The Ataris”, and one other one I can’t remember offhand, plus some others (I’m kinda tired writing this, I dont’ remember now). The other problem is selection. I know not everyone will put their tunes there (The Beatles don’t have anything online like that), and some are more anal than others, but I do love the flexibility of buying a single song. It’s what I liked most about Napster when it was around. Finding oddball and rare things and singles. The online stores are starting to get it with regards to singles, but to eliminate things like Napster, Morpheus, & KaZaA, you have to have your selection be as varied as these others are. I think most people are good enough where they’ll pay a reasonable fee if it’s an option. Problem is that the services still have a huge way to go. I’m not excited by a catalog dominated by Britney Spears, Justin Timeberlake, & Korn (shudder).
Hopefully iTunes will be a saviour later this fall.

Lowered CD prices

Universal Music Group Reduces CD Prices – Sep. 3, 2003
Saw this story today that Universal is going to be lowering the prices of their CD’s to a list of $12.98. That’s probably a good idea, because other than greed, I cannot fathom why CD’s MSRP for $18.98. I’ve been buying CD’s since they were first really introduced as a consumer item, and I never understood it back then, either.
Hopefully the other major record labels will follow suit on this. For me, the upper price point I’ll buy at is $11.99 anyway (for a single CD). If it’s higher than that, there had better be a good reason why (a double CD is OK), or I won’t bother with it. I’m hoping most places discount them to $9.99 which is probably a “magic price point” for people to buy more of them.
There’s a piece on this over at Slashdot, in which most of the “angry online voices” are saying zero or $5 max. I don’t know about $5 max, there’s not enough money to be made there, I think – I don’t think they’ll ever go that low for new high profile discs.
My wife works at Borders Books, I emailed her and told her she’s about to have to do a bunch of re-stickering. :)

Going Bananas

Deep Purple has a new album out. As usual, it’s a good, solid, quality album (although their last one, Abandon wasn’t as great, I think). THe reason I’m writing this is twofold. First to tell you about it. It’s a definite pickup. Unless you like modern crap like Korn, Linkin Park, Britney Spears and other garbage of that ilk. You won’t like it then – but anyone who likes quality music will like it.
The second reason is that Deep Purple’s management is to be held accountable for the fact that you cannot buy the album in the US! Now I know that Deep Purple isn’t what they were in the United States. Hell, no kind of music of this genre is appreciated anymore, it’s all dominated by the aforementioned garbage. However, if you’re a fan of this kind of music, you should at least be able to get it. Purple has NO US distribution of any kind. None. In order to obtain this album, I had to buy it from Amazon’s UK site and get it imported. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, it ended up costing me about $18 to get the CD over here, and it was well worth it because there’s a lot of great tunes on the album. You can buy it from Amazon’s US store (link), but they want something like $35 for it. Hell with that, order it yourself, by clicking on the album cover art below, and save about half the price wants for it.
Get it. Now. You won’t be disappointed, unless you like garbage music, that is. :)

Thank Dio for God

Last night I attended a concert in Dallas. It was what I affectionally called “The Summer Geezer Rock Tour”. The reason is that the three bands playing were Motorhead, Dio, & Iron Maiden. All three of these bands had some pretty big success in the 80’s, and have had varying degrees since then.
The concert review…

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Pat Benatar Concert

Well, last night was the Pat Benatar concert in Ft. Worth. Going there, I was stressed out for two reasons. One, I didn’t know where exactly I was going, since I’d never actually been to Billy Bob’s before. Two, we were running late, and since we were on the backstage list to meet Pat, I was told that under no circumstances should I be late. People who know me will recognize that mood of mine, probably. :) Anyway, we ended up getting there with about 15 minutes to spare, and hung around outside the venue. After a bit talking with the other folks on the Meet & Greet list, we went into Billy Bob’s and made our way towards the side of the stage towards the back. After another period standing around, we got to head inside what I presume to be a “green room” of sorts. While we were waiting for Pat to come out, I saw Neil Geraldo walk by, and boy does this man have some tattoos. It appeared that most of his arms are covered by them, and there were rather a lot elsewhere, since all he was wearing was a pair of speedos. :)

Anyway, Pat eventually came out, and I’ll be saying what I’m sure a lot of other folks have said who have met her face to face. She’s short! She’s apparently 5 foot and .5 of an inch. My wife is 5’2″, and I’m 6′ even, and you can see this in the picture below. Anyway, we had very little time to spend with Pat – originally we were told we could get autographs, but that was discarded, and we got maybe a total of 30 seconds with Pat, including the time it took to take the picture. That’s fine for me, it’s not like I was expecting to strike up a friendship or something, but I did get to say one line, which was “Thanks for Innamorata – it’s brilliant”, to which Pat’s eyes lit up and she said “Why thank you – that was very nice of you to say” (or something, I forget the EXACT words, but that’s essentially what she said). We took the picture (which had Pat’s hand around my waist – Woohoo!), and then we were escorted out of the backstage area. Very short, but very fun – especially considering I didn’t have to pay anything for that, it was most nice to meet Pat Benatar, since I’ve been listening to her for ages. Thanks to Joe Cross for getting my wife and I backstage. Here’s the picture of myself and Lynn with Pat Benatar last night. :)

Joe & Lynn meet Pat Benatar

Now, about the concert…

I thought that Billy Bob’s Texas was an odd place to hold a Pat Benatar concert. Travis Tritt, hell, even George Thorogood would have worked here (and it did according to someone else from the Meet & Greet Crowd I was in). But Pat Benatar? Anyway, the thing I’ll say about Billy Bob’s for concerts is that it’s not a conventional concert. They have a stage at one end, and the floor is made up of folding tables with lunchroom chairs! It’s not a conventional concert arena by any stretch – and to make it worse, the sound isn’t that great. It was fine when Pat was playing, but when she (or Neil) was talking to the audience, you could NOT understand what she was saying. It was totally wasted time, because I couldn’t understand her. Maybe 1 or 2 words out of 10 I could pick out. That was it. Oh, and there were pillars in the place, so some views of the stage were obstructed. From where I was, Neil Geraldo was obstructed, but since he moved around a lot, it wasn’t a real problem. Oh yeah, there was an opener, but I was like “Get off the stage and get Pat up there”. That’s probably unfair to them, but I never like it when an opener is there that I don’t want to see, and don’t know anything from. Give me a headliner with no opener, and I’m happy.

Enough negative. Her show was fantastic. I’ve been listening for ages. Not from her first album, but from her second, back in 1980. In all that time, I never saw her live, and I’d read reports that she’s as great in person as she is in the studio, and that bore itself out last night. At age 50, she can still wail live – something that I wasn’t in doubt of, but it was nice to see confirmed just the same. After meeting her backstage, I have to say her stage persona makes her seem much taller than she really is. Neil as well has an interesting persona – I didn’t know much about him really; he was just “Pat’s husband & guitarist” for ages for me. Neil seemed to work the crowd well, and my god, does he change guitars a lot. It seemed like he changed guitars after EVERY song, and in one case in the middle of a song, and I don’t mean from an acoustic to an electric! The band was great, and while I didn’t know any of the other band members, it sounded great, which I suppose is the mark of a good band, eh?
I did not write down the exact set list, but I lookd at some other reviews of the tour, and with a single exception, I think this was pretty much the set list…

We Live for Love
Shadows of the Night
Love Is a Battlefield (Acoustic)
River of Love (Acoustic)
True Love
Hell Is for Children
Promises in the Dark
Have It All
Hit Me With Your Best Shot
All Fired Up

Now, they did not play Brave in Ft. Worth. I cannot recall what they replaced it with, if anyone who was at the show knows, please drop me a line about it. Also, I don’t remember there being FIVE encore songs, I think Have it All was in the main set list. Anyway, when I saw the set list on concert reviews, a few things came to mind..

  1. It was short! In looking at this list, it doesn’t seem like a lot of songs quantity wise. Boy was I wrong about that. The show came in at something like 1 hour 50 minutes. I was pleasantly surprised at that issue.
  2. The two acoustic songs. Generally I abhor it when artists play acoustic versions of songs that weren’t originally that way. In fact, when I saw the free Pat Benatar concert on DirecTV some months ago from her last tour, I skipped that bit. I really don’t care for “fake acoustic” stuff. However, the two songs she did here were great! Love is a Battlefield also isn’t one of my favorite songs of hers, but this worked beautifully. Probably because it was live, but I don’t really care as to why, but it worked!
  3. Nothing from Innamorata. That album is by far and away my favorites of Pat’s. I think it would be one of my 5 desert island albums. Turns out there was a song from Innamorata – it was the other acoustic song, River of Love (which wasn’t originally that). When I looked at the set list, I saw the song title, and didn’t recognize it. As I told someone in the meet & greet group, Innamorata & Gravity’s Rainbow are two albums that I view as “entire albums”. Yeah, there’s about a dozen individual songs on there, but I don’t see them as individual songs – when I listen to these albums, I listen all the way through, and I view it as one big 45 minute song, so the individual song titles get blurred to the point that I don’t recognize them. Same thing went for the Disconnected track they opened the show with. I didn’t know that was from Gravity’s Rainbow, but when they played it, I knew it right away. Anyway, I was dissapointed there was not going to be anything from Innamorata, but when they played that, it was a major bonus I felt – because I had already gotten past the disappointment when I saw the set list. I really enjoyed that song.

Overall, a wonderful concert, despite the venue it was in. If you are reading this, and have a chance to “Go” see the “I won’t Go” tour, do so. Unless you’re one of these people who like wanker shit like Korn, Linkin Park, Marilyn Manson, and garbage like that. Do yourself and your mind a favor, and see something real and good like Pat Benatar.

Oh, one final thing – they had the new album for sale at the merchandise table, so I snapped it up immediately. It’s quite quite good, and while I don’t think it will be as solid as Innamorata, it is an absolute pickup if you’ve ever liked Pat Benatar. Here’s a link to buy the album on Amazon. This album goes immediately to my list of recommended albums, you won’t go wrong with this.

EDIT YEARS LATER: I was wrong, Go is her best album. Period.