Music Stunt 2009

Stunt 2009: Week 8 – The Pogues

*This is a companion piece to a similarly-themed article on Karen’s site which, all things being equal, should be published at roughly the same time.*

Karen and I have both, to all intents and purposes, taken a week off from the stunt this week, as after listening to this playlist once through, we both agreed that we didn’t need to listen to it again.

It has, however, got me thinking about the state of music. Again. When the Music Industry has completed its long, protracted suicide, and the Noise Levels At Work Regulations 2016 prohibit public music performances using amplified musical instruments or other amplified sound sources, there won’t be pop music any more. Pop music’s existence was made possible by the invention of the audio amplifier in 1906. Previously, there was (loosely speaking) two broad genres of music: classical music and folk music. Classical music was something you consumed. Folk music was something that you got involved in. There was a void in the middle, which was filled by pop music, which could be seen as a sociable form of classical music, or a form of folk music with more complexity in its structures. Classical music doesn’t need amplifiers because people sit in silence and listen to it. Folk music doesn’t need amplifiers because everyone in the pub is singing along, by design. But without amplifiers, pop music (and dance music) can’t be sustained in a live environment.

So in 10 years time (and this is entirely my hypothesis) you will have the following three options, if you want to listen to some music:

1. After clicking on the necessary EULA and paying the suitable fee, you will be granted a temporary license to listen to your music collection for the evening. Your locally-cached copies of the files will self-delete at midnight. If you want to listen with friends, you will have to pay extra.
2. Go to a concert. Remember that there’s no amplifiers, though, so you won’t be permitted to speak with your friends. If you speak during the performance, your Concert-Goers License will be suspended for three months.
3. Go to the pub, get drunk, sing along to folk music.

Options 2 and 3 are basically the same choices that you had before the 20th Century.

I suppose my point is that when (if! if!) all this comes to pass, then we will all be singing along to The Pogues, and probably enjoying it.

Here’s that spotify playlist again, if you really want it.

The next week’s playlist

Random number: 95
Only one playlist on this page – Peter Shapiro’s **Disco**. The book says:

> Peter Shapiro is author of the acclaimed *Turn The Beat Around: The Secret History Of Disco* (Faber, 2005). The book is, in his words, a trawl through the roots, development and excesses of “the music that taste forgot”. It’s an amazing story. Shapiro asserts that “although disco may be the most maligned genre in human history, these are ten records no one should be ashamed of owning.”

Incomplete Spotify playlist

Maisy Top Photos


Maisy yawning

Daily Music

Daily links for Tuesday 24th February 2009

Gardening Photos



Look! Green things! Coming up out of the ground!

Gardening Photos

Blueberry bushes

blueberry bushes

We were given three blueberry bushes for Christmas and we’ve decided that it’s now time to plant them out. We’ve put them in the back garden, rather than down at the plot, as it gets better light (and we’re also not entirely committed to keeping the allotment in the long term).

Parenting Photos


This afternoon we got all crafty and made a calendar-type thing. The plan being that each day we would change the day tag and weather tag as appropriate.


As you can see, this calendar is very spring-themed, with flowers and a butterfly and a bunch of pink feathers which *I think* is a flamingo that’s been run over with a lawnmower.

Look North

The weather tags, in case you can’t recognise them, are “Cloudy” (currently on the board) and “Sunny”, “Rainy” and “Windy”.

Music Stunt 2009

Stunt 2009: Week 7 – Nina Simone

*This is a companion piece to a similarly-themed article on Karen’s site which, all things being equal, should be published at roughly the same time.*

Spotify playlist. There’s a couple of links to lyrics sites in here. I don’t know what sort of crud the pages will contain, so I suggest that you don’t click through without a thick armour of NoScript and AdBlock.

1. **Feeling Good** from I Put A Spell On You – a magnificent song, proven by the fact that I must have heard it a few hundred times but it’s still great to listen to.

2. **My Baby Just Cares For Me** from Little Girl Blue – I thought that I didn’t like this song. Something about the jaunty rhythm seemed just too hard to listen to. But I’ve learn to relax and embrace it. I wish that I could bottle the piano solo and take it with me everywhere. Glorious lyrics too – the rhymes don’t feel forced, the subject matter doesn’t feel trite.

3. **Mississippi Goddamn** from In Concert – as Nina remarks halfway through, “this is a showtune, but the show hasn’t been written for it yet.” I don’t think much of the music, but you’ve got to respect the lyrics and the sentiment behind them.

4. **I Put A Spell On You** from I Put A Spell On You – lyrically there’s not much substance here, though I’m sure that it will strike a chord with many, and they are well-delivered. The orchestration is utterly perfect.

5. **Strange Fruit** from Pastel Blues – I’ve spent most of the week listening to this song without paying attention to the lyrics, and consequently thinking of it as being slow and morose. The playlist book notes that *Simone found this song so harrowing that she broke down every time she sang it and eventually had to drop it from her repertoire.* I can understand that now.

6. **I Want A Little Sugar In My Bowl** from Sings The Blues – this is the good kind of blues. It’s got a short tenor sax solo that makes me absolutely melt with its laziness. The vibe is basically what Norah Jones tried to emulate.

7. **I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free** from Silk & Soul – doesn’t do much for me. It develops at a steady pace, but goes a bit too far, and by the end it’s just all too hectic and busy.

8. **To Be Young Gifted & Black** from Black Gold – no disrespect to the sentiment, but I find this song a bit underwhelming. The lyrics seem cheesy, with uninspired rhymes, and the tune is a bit dull.

9. **Save Me** from Silk & Soul – it’s a really funky disco-pop tune, but it doesn’t do much, and the lyrics don’t seem to serve any purpose other than as a vehicle for Nina’s voice.

10. **Four Women** from Wild Is The Wind – see *Young Gifted & Black* only this one is slower, and thus more likely to send you to sleep.

So, in conclusion: probably my favourite of the seven playlists we’ve had so far, though that’s mainly because there’s some really ferociously good songs in here. I’m really enjoying this Spotify malarkey too.

The next week’s playlist

Random number: 284
Only one playlist on this page – The Pogues / Shane MacGowan. The book says:

> The Pogues didn’t so much creep into the limelight in early 1980s London, but emerged seemingly fully formed with a pint of stout in one hand and an attitude in the other. At the band’s core was the UK-born, but of Limerick stock, singer and lyricist Shane MacGowan who, at his peak and before his love of pints of Martini set in, produced a stream of stupendously poetic songs, all rooted in the Irish tradition. The band still reforms for Xmas and New Year shows, but nothing can ever repeat the sheer brio of their mid-1980s gigs. You really had to be there!

Here’s the spotify URL, if you want to listen to it with me over the course of the week. The playlist lists track 10 as “The Snake At The Gates Of Hell” which I think is a typo. And if anyone out there fancies joining in with the stunt, let me know.

Daily Music Stunt 2009

Daily links for Saturday 14th February 2009

Music Stunt 2009

Stunt 2009: Week 6 – Rick Rubin

*This is a companion piece to a similarly-themed article on Karen’s site which, all things being equal, should be published at roughly the same time.*

Only seven of these ten songs were available on Spotify but here’s the playlist anyway.

1. **I Need A Beat** LL Cool J – next…

2. **Rhyming & Stealing** The Beastie Boys – You either “get” the Beastie Boys or you don’t. Their appeal can not be explained in words. I know this, because people have tried to explain it to me in the past.

3. **Rock The Bells** LL Cool J – I’m clearly not the target audience here. Expecting me to enjoy listening to LL Cool J is like expecting a tortoise to enjoy a cigarette.

4. **Walk This Way** Run DMC – I kinda half-liked this song until I actually listened to it.

5. **Cross Your Heart** The Red Devils – by comparison to the previous 4 songs, this slow blues number is fantastic. But only by comparison. It contains a moment that is so bad that it is hilarious – the harmonica solo opens with a 20 second long note. That’s one high note, held for 20 seconds. Impressive lung capacity, maybe, but what were they thinking? Why do you want to punish your listeners so badly?

6. **Under The Bridge** Red Hot Chili Peppers – this is the best thing that the Red Hot Chili Peppers have ever done. And it’s fantastic. It’s perfectly paced and not too busy. It’s a great advert for Rick Rubin’s production skills. I never feel the need to skip to the end.

7. **The Beast In Me** Johnny Cash – it’s a nice song, but considering that this playlist is supposed to be all about Rick Rubin (producer), I don’t see the point in including a song that’s just vocals and one acoustic guitar. It’s hard to get that wrong really.

8. **By The Way** Red Hot Chili Peppers – I went through a phase of liking RHCP once, but it has long since worn off. Listening to this song, I feel like it’s crying out for a really delicate acoustic cover version that would blow the socks off of the original. In a moment of curiosity, I searched on YouTube but all I could find were cover versions of people playing it on an acoustic guitar, but in the same style as the original. Maybe I should step up and take the challenge.

9. **Hurt** Johnny Cash – I love this song. Especially how the vocals clip slightly, and not in a warm analog way, but in a harsh digital way. Over the course of the song, the clipping gets more and more noticeable, until the last chorus, when it sounds like the microphone is breaking. It’s so wrong, but it feels so right. The acoustic guitar is double-tracked with the channels panned hard-left and hard-right, but whereas standard doubletracking technique is to get the two takes as close as possible, on this song they are clearly intentionally different. It contributes to this song’s effectiveness.

10. **Oh Mary** Neil Diamond – the acoustic guitar is double-tracked in exactly the same fashion as the previous song. This is quite a beautiful song, as long as you’ve got the time to sit and take it in – it doesn’t go anywhere fast.

So, in conclusion: there’s a few songs in here that I like, and you can’t deny that Rick Rubin has breadth, but this playlist hasn’t had much depth. There’s only four songs that even registered on my adequatometer.

The next week’s playlist

Random number: 336
Two playlists on this page, the randometer then fell on the second one – Nina Simone. The book says:

> She set her heart on being a classical pianist and never wanted to be a singer at all. But, despite her reluctance, she could sing her laundry list and make it sound soulful becoming one of the great vocal stylists of the last fifty years. These ten span jazz, blues, pop, swing and soul.


New computer speakers

I love the sound of my Harman Kardon Soundsticks II, but I’ve been planning on getting rid of them for a while now. They have two major flaws.

1. The UI is terrible. There’s a knob on the subwoofer for controlling the level of the bass, which is fine, but the only other controls are two touch-sensitive buttons on the right satellite speaker, labelled + and -. These control the volume, and if you tap them at the same time, it mutes the signal. There’s no off switch, and no visual indication whether they are muted, or what volume they are set to. It’s also quite time-consuming to set your desired volume using + and – buttons, when a good old fashioned knob does the job so much better.

2. Since there’s no off switch, and the subwoofer sits there emanating a glow from its blue LED all night, I felt that I had no choice but to switch everything off at the wall whenever I turn the computer off. It’s a hassle, and I want to be able to switch the speakers properly off when not in use.

I had my eye on the Logitech Z-4 or Z-2300 which are 2.1 speakers with a nifty satellite unit that has a volume control, on-off switch, headphone socket and bass control on it.

Logitech LS21

Today in town I spotted a set of Logitech LS21 speakers at an attractive price. They have the same satellite unit (except that the bass control is on the subwoofer, but that’s no big loss) so I bought them.

I’ve discovered that this particular model is fairly quiet. I *think* they’re going to be loud enough for my needs, but I’m not completely certain. Also, the volume control on the LS21 is a scroll-wheel, whereas the more expensive models have a knob which gives you a visual cue as to what it is set at.

So maybe I’ll trade up in the future, maybe I won’t.