Monday, 6 February 2017

Through the 50s and into the 60s

Here are some short and sweet thoughts on these early years of pop/rock: I love the short and sweet. I have always appreciated, no matter the decade, a song that clocks in at under two and a half minutes (and often, in those decades, less than that). Chorus, verse, chorus, out ... awesome.  Plus, in a blitz, it's great to just flip through songs that quickly.

One song in particular stood out for me as it relates to something I've thought about before: that Axl Rose's really sounds like that of a rocking woman. Listen to Mockingbird by Inez and Charlie Foxx and just picture Rose on vocals.  It's right there.

I was also struck by the seeming sudden emergence of truly standout sounds and songs. Motown music, for one, when heard in the context of being surrounded by pop boppers and jumping out through the speaker, makes me wonder what it was like to hear it happening on the radio at the time and if it made an immediate impact or slowly burned its path.

One other thing: Rolling Stones versus Beatles?  I don't get the argument. I can see how the Stones are a classic contrarian option, but for me there's no comparison between their catalogues.

Monday, 23 January 2017

Post Christmas Re-start

After barely driving around by myself over the holidays, it was time to get back into the work commute which means ... more blitzing!

Picking up again, I jumped right into Arcade Fire. This is a band about which I really knew very little, but had heard much about.  Beyond the general awareness of the band and their reputation and appreciation, I had two points of reference. Firstly, I remember thinking it was like a stamp of approval for them to be on Peter Gabriel's "Scratch My Back" album of cover songs, and that it warranted looking into them further. Secondly, a scriptwriting student submitted a screenplay based on a group of super-fans following Arcade Fire around on tour, and she informed me that this was a pretty common thing. Those that liked the band liked it a lot. So, again, I'm thinking I should check this out.

And, although it was an impressive trip through their catalogue, I know I'm going to want to revisit them when this is all over. It was one of those listenings where I could tell there was further enjoyment and appreciation waiting.

Plus: Rococo.

Next up: I've come back to AC/DC! What an odd trip.  I really don't understand how it's being put together.  I mean, it's close to being in order, but off by just a little. Anyway, all I want to say about AC/DC is that choosing "For Those About To Rock" as the closing song for their concert CD is ludicrous.  That's the worst idea for a closing song.  That's an opening song.  It's inherently an opening song.  Even if it had led to an encore that might have made a little sense.

And then: 1 Girl Nation!  Again, this is an all-girl Christian group.  Imagine if the Spice Girls loved God as much as they loved Pepsi. Actually, more.

Next up, again in this weird order, are the 1950s.  Time to get out of the kitchen and something-something pots and pans.

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

(Almost) The Number of the Beast

So: Track 664 in my blitz thus far was Belly of the Beast by Anthrax.  Boy, I wish I'd had two more tracks thrown in there somewhere.

Also, making sure to follow up from last post: of all the things that I was hoping for or expecting from the new Alice in Chains, "dull" wasn't even on my radar. Unfortunately, "Black Gives Way to Blue" and "The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here" were awfully monotonous and provided very few highlights.  A Shame.  Actually, not a shame: a problem.

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Thoughts from the first month...

Well, after the 1990s flowed seamlessly into the 2000s, I've started rolling through individual albums at what seems like a breakneck speed.  After all, what's 12 songs on a record compared to hundreds in a compilation?

So, I'd better start getting some reactions down before I really lose track of things:

Award for the most vapid song I've heard yet: "Wake Up" by Hillary Duff.  I don't recall if I heard this song when it was popular or not, but if I did, I can understand why I forgot it.  I have often thought that Taylor Swift was essentially writing songs using Facebook posts, but I must now acknowledge that she puts more work into it than that.  Duff, on the other hand, is just singing status updates. Interestingly, I just double-checked the dates and Wake Up was released before Facebook, so maybe we're talking about the chicken and the egg here.

First circular sampling in the blitz (that I've noticed): Madonna uses "Gimme Gimme Gimme" by ABBA in "Hung Up", not too many tracks before I get into ABBA.  

Here's a funny thing about "Angel" by Aerosmith: whenever I hear that song, I have this memory kick in during the first minute at about the 48 second mark - and I want the song to end.  I like the song, so much so that I remember taping the video off of Muchmusic. However, things are meant to be recorded over, so at some point I put something else on the tape, and whatever the new thing was, it started at the 48 second mark of the video.  I don't remember what it was, just that I was left with nearly the first minute of Angel, and obviously I watched that snippet enough that it became ingrained.  A similar thing happened to me when I discovered The Beatles, because I was listening to a tape my brother had made off of The Blue Album, and the tape ran out about halfway through The Long & Winding Road.  Whenever I hear the full song, I can still pinpoint the moment the original tape ran out.

The original Alice in Chains is still awesome, and I'm about to go into the barely-listened to new stuff.  We'll see.


Tuesday, 8 November 2016

The Blitz Effect

Starting with the greatest hits from the 1990s made for an interesting beginning, given that the driving force behind the blitz in the first place was to make sure I was paying attention to the unfamiliar songs in my collection.

There aren't many unfamiliar songs for me in a 1990s retrospective.

However, The Blitz Effect appeared when Smells Like Teen Spirit came on. At first, I more or less tuned out.  Not purposefully, nor in a contrarian manner, but just instinctively because this is a song that I've listened to hundreds of times, so naturally my brain went into coasting mode.

Then, after the first chorus, I realized that while I have listened to this song a lot, and this was while I could listen to any song I wished when not blitzing, right now, this would be one of only two times that I would hear it over the course of the next year (or two, or more -- not sure how long this one will take).

Consequently, I listened to the rest of the song more carefully than I had for a long time, appreciating it as much as ever.

Blitzing, therefore, works as well for old favourites as it does for undiscovered treasures.

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

OK Computer, you take it from here

Well, this is intriguing.

After the Bells, it seems I'm not quite in control of the order of play. I had AC/DC set up first, as previously explained, but once I loaded up the first big chunk of folders on the USB, something went a little wonky.  Either the computer, or the USB, or the car, or all three in collusion, decided that pure alphabetical order is not cool.

What should have played after AC/DC (which in itself is the best example of how my life, times, and music collections, have changed) is 1 Girl Nation, a Christian-Girl Power group that was a CD gifted to my daughter, and ended up on the hard drive as well. Quick note for those that will tell me my alphabetical order must already be screwed up with A coming before 1: yes, but that's because I named the AC/DC folder 001ACDC so that nothing would ever come before it.

Anyway, instead of 1GN, I went into a folder of 1990s music.  At least the whole folder itself is intact, so it's not like I'm going to listen to chunks of the collection on random.  Though that's an intriguing idea...

After 1990, I'm not sure what will be next. I decided immediately, in any case, not to try and manipulate the order given to me other than the start.  Had I known this, in fact, I would have been happy to play only Hell's Bells and then let AC/DC come up whenever the computer felt it was time.

This is a digital blitz, after all, so I will defer to the digital DJ.

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Ringing the Bells

Monday, October 24th: the day of the new blitz. I'm posting a couple of days later because I only thought of documenting the experience today. First, though, I must take you back even further.

The first great CD blitz came in the early 90s, while I was in high school. The concept was inspired by my ever-growing CD library, coupled with the realization that my collection was growing at a faster rate than was my appreciation of all that I owned. Frankly, I was buying so many so quickly that I really didn't have time to actually listen to all of them, and so came the idea of listening to every CD on the stand in alphabetical order.

At my peak, I owned a few more than 500 CDs. I had multiple accounts with Columbia House and BMG Music clubs, and was regularly pulling unknowns out of dollar bins at the music stores. Prince and Elvis were the biggest contributors (and were, of course, back-to-back ... maybe separated by a couple artists but I can't remember).

It started with AC/DC and ended with ZZ Top. I remember being daunted by The Beatles collection, only because I feared that all of those early albums in succession would turn into white noise (they didn't). I remember instituting the rule that while I was in the blitz, I wouldn't buy any new CDs. There was no going back to listen to anything again, and no going forward. What I don't remember, and wish I could, was which CD I listened to first after the blitz was over.

Anyway, again, it started with AC/DC. Specifically: Hell's Bells. Over the years with other blitzes, ringing Hell's Bells signified the start of the blitzing journey. Same goes for this past Monday. Now, though, CDs are not playing a part.

While my CD collection has dwindled, the MP3s have been piling up, and, frankly, the collection is a bit of a mess. Thousands of unnamed files ripped off of CDs which were ripped off of originals, hundreds of weird tracks left over from the Napster days, and way more unlistened-to tracks than I had the first time round. There's even a folder of 99 farts sound effects. Not really sure how I feel about that.

All right. Game on.