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Younger Than Yesterday
Younger Than Yesterday
Price: $7.28
32 used & new from $2.74

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unjustly Neglected, September 5, 2011
This review is from: Younger Than Yesterday (Audio CD)
When Younger Than Yesterday came out in 1967, The Byrds were losing altitude. Their cross-breeding of folk with rock 'n roll, an innovation that had put them in the front rank of popular bands from 1965-1966, had largely been assimilated by the music industry. They were still well-liked and even respected, but they were also Old News. Which was a shame, because this album warranted a better reception. It continued the experimention with musical styles and forms they undertook in their first three albums while retaining the distinctive sound of Roger McGuinn's 12-string Rickenback and Chris Hillman's bass. There were elements of satire ("So You Want to be a Rock 'N Roll Star," a not so subtle slam on The Monkees), Sci-Fi ("CTA-102," about the search for extra-terrestrial life), Beatle-esque pop ("Have You Seen Her Face" and "Thoughts and Words"), country ("Time Between" and "The Girl With No Name") and the requisite Bob Dylan cover ("My Back Pages") - few if any performers were ever better at covering Dylan than The Byrds.

David Crosby kicked in two meditations. One is successful ("Everybody's Been Burned," about the need to find love whatever the pain it has previously cost you) the other not so much ("Mind Gardens," about the dangers of over-protecting the thing you love. It's a free verse poem that could have used more work on its mode of delivery, to my ears anyway). That leaves "Renaissance Fair" and "Why." The one is kinda psychedelic, I guess, but a throwaway. The other is kinda psychedelic, kinda Beatles, kinda country, and kinda hard to categorize. If you like The Byrds you'll probably like it.

I don't know if I'd call this their best album - you could make the case, but you could also make as good a case for Fifth Dimension or Sweetheart of the Rodeo - but it's certainly a worthy entry in their catalog and in music history.

Casio Men's WS300-7BV Ana-Digi Illuminator Sport Watch
Casio Men's WS300-7BV Ana-Digi Illuminator Sport Watch
Price: $31.47
11 used & new from $29.54

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Pleasant Surprise, May 2, 2009
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I bought my Casio Men's Ana-Digi Illuminator Sport Watch for about $30 at Kmart with a certain amount of resignation about its durability. Experience led me to expect the internals would rot away in two years, just like every other watch they've sold me. But I needed a watch, and I liked the design more than others in the case. At the time the dual analog and digital display seemed more like an interesting novelty than anything I would use very much. Now, three years later, the watch is still ticking along, and I've become so accustomed to the display I don't want anything else. The digital clock is especially useful when I go jogging, as it allows me to easily keep track of mile splits. In terms of features, design, price, and performance, Casio got everything right with this one. It's a rare thing.

Magnolia: Music from the Motion Picture
Magnolia: Music from the Motion Picture
Offered by megahitrecords
Price: $14.10
333 used & new from $0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars My Introduction To Aimee, November 27, 2008
It seems incredible to me now that nine years ago I had never heard of Aimee Mann or her music. It seems equally incredible that this knowledge gap closed because of a movie; I never expect much from soundtracks, however enjoyable they may be, because I generally don't go to a flick to hear music. (When you go to a concert, do you expect to see a great movie?) So watching "Magnolia" was a unique experience. It was 100% worth the price of a ticket, but of that, only 20% was due to the movie itself --and I liked the movie a lot. Songs like "One," "Driving Sideways," and "Wise Up" made up the other 80%.

Given such an intro, a five star review of this disk should surprise no one. What might surprise is that I was debating whether to give it three or four, because there are five tracks here I could do without. The two Supertramp songs are unnecessary. Both were played to death on top 40 radio in the 1970s and 80s, and neither added much to the film. "Dreams," by someone named Gabrielle, is a pleasant enough R&B ballad. (ie: filler). Jon Brion's composition "Magnolia" is OK in an aural wallpaper mood-setting sort of way if you're into that sort of thing, which I'm not, most of the time. Aimee's own "Nothing Is Good Enough" is, unaccountably, an instrumental version; someone at Reprise Records must not have gotten the memo explaining that Ms. Mann is all about lyrics, and that the music is so good because it's been crafted to serve the lyrics.

The five stars, then, are for the eight Aimee Mann songs presented whole as Aimee Mann songs: "One," "Momentum," "Build That Wall," "Deathly," "Driving Sideways," "You Do," "Wise Up," and "Save Me." They're strong enough to make up for the weak ones. Strong, because of her choice of subject matter --desolation, desperation, self-destruction, self-deception, loneliness, and longing to name a bagful--, and strong, because of her handling of that subject matter. The music somehow carries its emotional freight without coming across as oppressive. When Mann writes about people doing or experiencing these things, she is also writing about people who have turned around to face their demons, name them, and thereby defeat them. Or at the very least open a pathway to defeating them. Under even the most crushing of burdens there still lurks hope. Which is what "Magnolia" is about, come to think of it. If a complex movie like that can be about any one thing.

But then Aimee's music inspired Paul Thomas Anderson to make his film. They are its guiding spirit. And that, I suppose, is what the best movie soundtracks do.

Jim Copp Tales
Jim Copp Tales
Price: $12.42
8 used & new from $9.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Start Of Something Big, November 8, 2008
This review is from: Jim Copp Tales (Audio CD)
Armed only with a single microphone, two tape recorders, and the slightly reverberant rooms in his house, Jim Copp and Ed Brown created nine brilliant albums "for small fry and sophisticated adults" from 1958 to 1971. "Jim Copp Tales" was the first. Unlike their later output, there is no unifying theme to this one. It's a simple collection of songs written and performed solo by Copp (along with all the voices, the sound effects, and the instrumentation), each telling a self-contained story. They include in order:

01 Mr. Hippity and the Balloon - in which nice old Mr. Hippity accidentally lets all the air out of his balloon, then blows it up too far at the prompting of a mischievous little boy (In my view, Copp wasn't quite on his game here; in general he is unobtrusive with his morals in those instances when a story has one, but this ends with the rather heavy handed "it doesn't pay to be mean.")

02 Kate Higgins - in which a little girl refuses to take the nasty medicine her parents try to give her, hides from them, eats a whole lot of sweets after they give up looking, and suffers the consequences.

03 The Cow and the Kitty Cat - in which a cow and a cat move into a new house and try out everything.

04 Home By Five - in which we go on an alphabetical drive through the countryside.

05 Martha Matilda O'Toole - in which a girl on her way to school turns back over and over again to retrieve forgotten items (slate, book, pen, shoes, dress), only to find school is closed on Sunday.

06 Burt Carter - in which a little boy discovers there is nothing all that special about staying up well past midnight.

07 Miss Goggins and the Gorilla - in which a very mean teacher gets her comeuppance.

08 The Frogman - in which the narrator persuades the Frogman to sing us a song.

09 The Barnyard Parade - in which the farm animals get all dressed up in their finest clothes and parade around the barnyard, but then have to dash for cover when a rainstorm erupts.

It was an impressive debut, and presaged many good things to come.

No Title Available

5.0 out of 5 stars Solid Performer For The Price, August 21, 2008
If you're a really hard core gamer you probably would not be satisfied with this card. Look at something based on the 8800 GT or the 9000 series instead. Or you could see what ATi has to offer.

If you're an occasional gamer on a budget like me, this card will stand you well. It is stable, capable, and of course affordable. I'm not using SLi, and my version has only 512MB of memory, yet it ran Bioshock without the slightest twitch, flutter, or hiccup.

But I selected this card for more specialized reasons. I do a lot of graphic design work and consequently prefer to use a CRT monitor, which is becoming more difficult these days; fewer and fewer graphics cards have the old D-Sub analog connector. Fewer still are quality performers. This is one of those few. So if you're using a CRT or are considering going back to CRT, KFA2 has you covered. (Yes, there are digital to analog converters. They cost $200 - $300. Any minor accessory at that price falls squarely in my No Thanks range)

Highly recommended

Thimble Corner
Thimble Corner
Price: $12.40
7 used & new from $9.92

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Good Outing, April 25, 2008
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Thimble Corner (Audio CD)
I've given this five stars, with a bit of a caveat: I don't think it's quite as strong as some of the Copp & Brown creations that followed. But even slightly subpar Copp is a vast improvement over its competition. A four star review might discourage some would-be buyers, and I'd hate to be responsible for that. So five it is.

As you might imagine, Thimble Corner is presented as a place you visit. The trolley conductor (Copp, naturally) takes a little time to introduce his intrigued passenger (Brown, naturally) to some of the people who live there. At least 26 of them by my count can be found in "The House On Thimble Street" (Track #2), each of whom has a very specific chore to perform ("I'm Thomas Tuggs. I buy the jugs. I'm Gertie Scruggs. I beat the rugs. I'm Lucy Gluck. I feed the duck. My name is Nash. I burn the trash.") We meet "The Dog That Went To Yale" (track #6), who in addition to his impressive canine intellect has the longest name in the world. Following that is "Cloudy Afternoon" (track #7), in which a boy pedals to a nearby park with his nanny, leaves her sleeping on a bench, has a number of adventures involving insects, other children, and a truck, and gets drenched in a sudden rainstorm.

Those, to my mind, are the absolute standouts. The remaining tracks include "The Carpenter and the Duck," "The Turkey in Satin," "The Apartment House," "Miss Goggins and her Troupe," "Can't Dance," and "Time To Leave." You'll no doubt find them worth the price of admission. You might even decide they're better than good.

East of Flumdiddle
East of Flumdiddle
Price: $13.13
6 used & new from $11.94

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You Can't Go Wrong, January 7, 2008
This review is from: East of Flumdiddle (Audio CD)
It's a shame Jim Copp & Ed Brown aren't better known. The Atlantic Monthly, The Los Angeles Times, The New Yorker, Time Magazine, and The New York Times have all raved about them at one time or another. Everyone I know who has listened to this or their other recordings became an instant fan. And yet it seems most Amazon reviews have been left by people who had the rare benefit of owning and listening to Copp & Brown on vinyl decades ago.

Set aside the idea that they performed children's music. It's more than that. These men (Copp mostly; he handled the writing, recording, and sound mixing) crafted fully realized worlds through audio, and East of Flumdiddle is a fine example. The record is structured as a journey. Copp and Brown start things off with a song about their plans to visit Flumdiddle, (a place that isn't on a map, they've never heard of, and probably doesn't exist), and then periodically come back ("In A Fix", "Trouble, Trouble", and "East of It") to relate their progress or lack of it. In between, we encounter:

-An impoverished husband and wife who recover their stolen fortune with the help of a magic three-legged pot. ("Mr. And Mrs Destitute")
-A one inch tall girl who is abandoned by her parents, adopted by a tin pan, abducted by a toad, and tricked into sitting on a hot stove by a nasty talking pancake. Her adventures are spread out over two segments ("The Tin Pan Becomes A Father," "Teeny Tiny").
-A toy soldier with one leg who escapes home, takes a maritime voyage in a paper boat, gets eaten by a fish, and finally ends up at home again when the fish is caught. ("Toy Soldier, A.W.O.L.")

He also throws in a rhythmic re-telling of Chicken Little for traditionalists ("The Hen With The Low IQ"). As everyone knows or should, this story is about a journey and thus stays true to the overall theme.

I won't try to rank this in comparison with Copp's other eight albums, however easier that might make your purchasing decision. All have their own delightful idiosyncrasies and unique charm. But if you start with East Of Flumdiddle you can't go wrong.

Billy Bathgate
Billy Bathgate
by E. L. Doctorow
Edition: Paperback
131 used & new from $0.01

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Would be more, if not for a few literary crimes, November 4, 2007
This review is from: Billy Bathgate (Paperback)
EL Doctrow's talent with language is a step or two or three or four beyond that of the average scrivener. And even of the somewhat above average scrivener. Most of us aspire to prose as good as his without ever quite achieving it. But sometimes in this book he is a bit undisciplined in the application of his talent, and gets himself in trouble as a result. It's evident right from the first chapter, when passages like this:

"He had to have planned it because when we drove onto the dock the boat was there and the engine was running and you could see the water churning up phosphorescence in the river, which was the only light there was because there was no moon, nor no electric light either in the shack where the dockmaster should have been sitting, nor on the boat itself, and certainly not from the car, yet everyone knew where everything was...."

...and this:

"But anyway I wasn't thinking of any of this at the time, it was just something I had in me I could use if I had to, not even an idea but an instinct waiting in my brain in case I ever needed it, or else why would I have leapt lightly over the rail..."

...establish his protagonist Billy Bathgate as a capable, savvy, and colloquially eloquent street urchin. Then, a few pages later, we get this:

"I think now that the key to grace or elegance in any body, male or female, is the length of the neck, that when the neck is long several conclusions follow, such as a proper proportion of weight to height, a natural pride of posture, a gift for eye contact, a certain nimbleness of the spine and length of stride, all in all a kind of physical gladness in movement leading to athletic competence or a love for dancing. Whereas the short neck predicts a host of metaphysical afflictions, any one of which brings about the ineptitude for life that creates art, invention, great fortunes, and the murderous rages of the disordered spirit."

Those of you familiar with Mark Twain's hilarious evisceration of James Fenimore Cooper's literary offenses in "The Deerslayer" will recognize the problem. For those who aren't, think specifically of Twain's Rule #7:

"They require that when a personage talks like an illustrated, gilt-edged, tree-calf, hand-tooled, seven- dollar Friendship's Offering in the beginning of a paragraph, he shall not talk like a negro minstrel in the end of it. But this rule is flung down and danced upon in the 'Deerslayer' tale."

Doctrow violates this rule too. Not as egregiously as Cooper, and not within one paragraph, and from the bottom up rather than the top down, but he still violates it. I'd have given Billy Bathgate a four or even five star rating if he'd been more consistent in his management of character voice.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 4, 2008 6:40 PM PDT

Music Fuh Ya' Musica Para Tu
Music Fuh Ya' Musica Para Tu
17 used & new from $19.30

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Neglected Gem, February 19, 2006
What would you think if Taj Mahal took a moderate step outside the blues and tried his hand at calypso music? Well, here is your chance to find out. For my money he pulls it off brilliantly. There isn't a single bad track here. Every song is inflected with steel drums and/or Caribbean rhythms, some more than others, but all to good effect. Even the Elizabeth Cotton blues classic "Freight Train" gets the treatment. Don't let that scare you though; Taj clearly respects the original and his interpretation enhances rather than diminishes it.

If I have one complaint it's that the album is too short.

Track List:
-You Got It
-Frieght Train
-Baby, You're My Destiny
-Sailin' Into Walker's Cay
-Truck Driver's Two Step
-The Four Mills Brothers
-Honey Babe

Ultimate Collection
Ultimate Collection
Offered by CAC Media
Price: $34.99
48 used & new from $1.99

5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Don't buy this, get Aimee's real music, December 16, 2005
This review is from: Ultimate Collection (Audio CD)
Like all the other one star reviews here, I'm not judging the quality of Aimee's music --which is outstanding, and which I've been a fan of since hearing the Magnolia soundtrack-- but rebuking the industry weasels who chewed up her material and spat it out again for consumption by an unsuspecting public.

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