Everyone is always looking for the next Beatles. From The Monkees to The Arctic Monkees, we salivate over any upstart new band that threatens to upset the world as we know it.

They never do. We ain’t gonna see anything like The Beatles and Beatlemania again. There will never be another moment in the Earth Prime timeline as there was in 1963, when unlimited talent met universal need and when there were so few media channels that one message could smack every human in existence.

However, there has been one band that’s come close: U2.

Wait a minute, Mr. Postman!

I’m not suggesting that The Beatles and U2 are equivalent. They are nothing like each other. The Beatles, for example, displayed more humor on any afternoon in 1964 than U2 have in their entire career. The Beatles, for another example, never tried to be rock’s answer to Wagner.

What I am suggesting is that the two bands have similar trajectories. Here’s my evidence. Ready Steady Go!

The Beatles 1963-64
The Beatles’ catalog in their early years is like the cellar of my parents’ house: Good luck finding two things that match. Different Beatles albums with different lineups of songs appeared in the U.K., the U.S., Canada, New Zealand, the Netherlands, the Sea of Tranquility, etc.

Here in the U.S., we had Introducing…The Beatles, then Meet the Beatles! even though we’d already been introduced, then The Beatles Are on the Grass, The Beatles Are in My Hall, The Beatles Are in My Head, etc.

Get rid of all these random collections of songs, hold off on the two soundtracks, and you’re left with Please Please Me, With the Beatles, and Beatles for Sale. This is where The Beatles reimagined pop and changed the world.

U2 1980-83
U2 released Boy, October, and War. This is where they reimagined arena rock and tried to change the world, one cause at a time.

The Beatles 1964-65
A Hard Day’s Night: The perfect soundtrack.

U2 1983
Under a Blood Red Sky: The perfect live album.

The Beatles 1965-66
Rubber Soul and Revolver were a great leap forward.

U2 1984
The Unforgettable Fire was a great leap forward.

The Beatles 1967
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band: Their masterpiece.

U2 1987
The Joshua Tree: Their masterpiece.

The Beatles 1967
Magical Mystery Tour was a serious expedition into psychedelia.

U2 1993
I have to mix up U2’s chronology by one album to make this work. Zooropa was a serious expedition into electronica. You think if The Beatles had lasted into the 1990s, they wouldn’t have explored electronica? Tell that to Paul McCartney, one of the two men behind Strawberries, Oceans, Ships, Forest (1993).

The Beatles 1968
The White Album was a lab puppy that doesn’t know how to work all those legs.

U2 1988
Rattle & Hum was a lab puppy that doesn’t know how to work all those legs.

The Beatles 1969
U2 has nothing like Yellow Submarine. Since there were only four new songs on this disc and of those I only like “It’s All Too Much,” I don’t see this as relevant.

The Beatles 1969
Abbey Road demonstrated a new maturity. It’s probably their best album after Sgt. Pepper.

U2 1991
Achtung Baby demonstrated a new maturity. It’s probably their best album after The Joshua Tree.

The Beatles 1969-70
After Abbey Road and Let It Be, the Beatles ceased to exist.

U2 1995-97
After Original Soundtracks and Pop, which were not as good as This Is Spinal Tap or Meet the Rutles, U2 almost ceased to exist.

That is the theory that I have and which is mine, and what it is too.

Bonus: U2 go into extra innings

U2 is a fading empire that refuses to die without a fight. As a service to my loyal readers (all three of them), and because I did the same for Duran Duran, here’s my guide to the 10 essential U2 songs since Zooropa. You can conveniently forget everything else they’ve done since 1993.

“All Because of You”
U2’s version of playing “Get Back” on the roof of Apple Studios. Bono kisses a girl!

“Beautiful Day”
This song belongs in a temple to a new religion. Features the first-ever Bono double. He’s good-bad, but he’s not evil (see “Elevation” below).

“Do You Feel Loved”
Curtis Mayfield funky. This is one ballpark I didn’t think they could play in.

“Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me”
The first cut from the Batman Forever soundtrack. If you love comics, you’ll swoon over this video. The music could knock your croquet ball over the house and down the street.

“Elevation”
Good U2 battle Evil U2 while The Edge tries to survive in a Tomb Raider movie!

“Magnificent”
One of their bombastic anthems. Awesome.

“Mofo”
The rhythm sections rips your garage door off its hinges and paints “Mama never loved me” on your car.

“Original of the Species”
The horns are straight out of Magical Mystery Tour. Unfortunately, the video is dull and, well, pretentious.

“Unknown Caller”
The only U2 song I know where they chant the lyrics. Kind of pretentious, but that’s their natural habitat. It’s grown on me.

“You’re the Best Thing About Me”
It’s not a great song – it sounds as if it were recorded by four guys who’ve listened to a lot of U2 – but I include it because it’s the happiest U2 video of all time. And almost none of them are happy.

Dedicated to the memory of my dear friend Judy, whose ambition in her 50s was to jump out of a cake on The Edge’s birthday.

 

Life in the 90s

Posted: November 17, 2017 in music
Tags: , ,

We just visited my parents in the little town in Massachusetts where I grew up and learned not to trust the Red Sox. You have to make some adjustments in Massachusetts. A regular coffee at Dunkin’ Donuts is coffee, milk, and two sugahs. A milkshake doesn’t have ice cream, but a frappe does. If you go down Cape, you’re heading north on Cape Cod, but if you go up Cape, you’re heading south. Traffic circles are called “rotaries,” a sub is a “grinduh,” and my name is forever Stevie.

My Mom lives in a nursing home. My Dad is still hanging on in the house they’ve lived in since 1957. These are the real adjustments.

While we were there, the town put on their annual breakfast to honor veterans. Every place in Massachusetts that can hold itself together long enough to form a government and print pahking stickuhs for the beach is required to have a Veterans Service Officer. Our VSO did a fantastic job with this breakfast. Five hundred veterans and their friends and families filled the hall where I attended my high school prom back in 1493. We had speeches, commemorative pins, a fire department honor guard, and food that beats Army chow any day.

Dad is 90 and increasingly immobile, but he was game to go. After all, he served in World War II. He came home with medals for good conduct and sharpshooting and one he never showed us that he claimed he got for goldbricking.

It took Deborah and me awhile to organize and transport him. By the time we arrived, there was only one table with available seats. Fortunately, our tablemates were Miss Bristol County and Miss Bristol County Teen and their mothers. The four of them were delighted to have a World War II veteran drop in. This gave the two beauty queens a chance to represent. They brought Dad his breakfast from the buffet line and made a fuss over him.

BC2

Our featured speaker was Rep. Joe Kennedy III. He’s the grandson of Robert F. Kennedy. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a politician work a room with greater enthusiasm. After his speech he went to every table, looked everyone in the eye, listened respectfully, spoke sincerely. I was impressed. He meant it.

As the event ended, people began to leave the hall, and we were concerned that Joe 3.0 wouldn’t make it to our far corner. Deborah sought him out and asked him if he would come to our table and say hello to her father-in-law, who served in the Army Air Force and kept Texas safe for democracy.

Kennedy said he would, and though he still had a gauntlet to run, he soon appeared at Dad’s side. (Deborah said she had never had anyone reassuringly touch her arm so many times as he followed her while simultaneously greeting people.) Kennedy realized that Dad couldn’t stand, so he took a knee beside him. Dad took his hand and cried as he talked about meeting John F. Kennedy in 1960 when he was running for president.

K5

After Dad calmed down, they had a good talk, and then Dad made a prediction: “Joe, you’re 37 now. In 15 years, you’re going to run for president, and you’re going to make it.”

K4

Kennedy replied, “Don’t hold your breath!”

K6

At that moment, my father closed a circle. The circle began on a blustery winter day in early 1960 when Dad, younger than Joe Kennedy is now, was walking into his favorite hardware store and met a hatless JFK striding down the sidewalk, the whole world and Schwartz Lumber in front of them.

There’s no lesson here, just a family that’s lucky enough to make a new story after so many years together. Mom has Alzheimer’s, but she still can still follow a five-sentence narrative, and when we saw her next she laughed when she heard that Dad had cried. “Of course!” she said. She would’ve expected nothing else.

Dad is in the hospital as I write this. He’s 90, so who knows. Mom is dreaming in her nursing home, waiting for Dad’s next visit. Until they meet again, here are two photos of the honeymooners taken 50 years apart.

The Honeymooners 1964

1964

Happy cat roommates

2014

In case youve read this far: Miss Bristol County Teen is a freshman at the high school. When Dad told her that I had gone there, she asked, Did you know my grandfather? He was a math teacher. I thought, come on, kid, how old do you think I am?! But then she told me his name and I thought, shoot, I did know him.

 

I just saw Thor: Ragnarok. The studio chose “Ragnarok” instead of “Ragamuffin” or “Turmoil in Asgard!” or “Domestic Disturbance, Call 9-1-1” because Ragnarok sounds like an evil Norwegian metal band plus it ends with “rock” so you know this film is going to RAWK!

Ragnarok didn’t, though it was far better than I feared, thanks primarily to everyone in the cast who isn’t Chris Hemsworth. Chris’ older brother, Luke, was particularly good at playing an actor playing a big blubbering God of Thunder.

But Ragnarok did display the usual trends in superhero and sci-fi movies. Like how they all resemble The Lord of the Rings. Ragnarok comes complete with orcs, a Balrog, the Army of the Dead, and thousands of Australians with perfectly feathered hair.

These films also resemble Star Wars. “Asgard is not a place,” Odin tells us, in his best Obi-Wan-explaining-The-Force-voice. “Asgard is its people.” It is not. You spent the first two Thor movies convincing us that Asgard is a special place because it’s the crossroads of the universe and the home of the gods. Now you say it was just an address and you’re going to find a new home on Earth? That’s so original, not counting Battlestar Galactica. I suppose the next movie in the series will pit Thor against Trump over immigration.

But let’s set these resemblances aside and ask why superhero movies are always about the fate of the world. Doesn’t that make them all the same movie? Can’t superheroes take on criminal masterminds who rob banks or steal identities? No, sorry. Gotta build a big spaceship. But whatever spaceship we build, the villain will build a bigger one in the next movie. He’ll name his ship Endowedbadguy1177.

I love you, man
Speaking of men, of which this film has too many, Ragnarok proudly maintains the science fiction tradition of fractured father-son relationships that miraculously resolve in the final scenes. Yes, this time around, Thor and Loki find out they have a sister, Hela, the Goddess of Death. I don’t know where you seat the Goddess of Death when she comes over for Thanksgiving. But even though Hela is out to rule the cosmos, and even though you can dress Cate Blanchett up as anything and she’ll be smashing, it’s all just a plot device that forces Thor to admit to Odin, “I’m not as strong as you,” so Odin can tell him, “You’re stronger,” which finally teaches that blond dickhead a few things about relationships and responsibilities.

Odin can now die in peace, but of course he’s already dead. He’ll reappear with an encouraging word whenever Thor is once again trying to stop Mr. Wrong from destroying the world, which locates us comfortably back in Star Wars.

Chris Hemsworth as Thor showed some talent at physical comedy, but without his hammer and hair he’s just another doofus in a cape, and as usual he was outplayed by almost every other actor in Ragnarok. This includes Jeff Goldblum’s hybrid Bill Murray/Stanley-Tucci-in-Hunger-Games dictator and Mark Ruffalo’s impersonation of Woody Allen. Praise the costumers for dressing Ruffalo in Tony Stark’s Duran Duran T-shirt and the Hulk fans in green. Almost everyone else in this film wears black. Almost everyone in outer space wears black. When everyone wears black, wearing black means nothing. Give me a Star Fleet uniform any day.

I unexpectedly enjoyed Thor: Ragnarok, though I would have enjoyed it much more if it had been half an hour shorter. As it stands, it’s way shorter than Blade Runner: 2049 and light years funnier. Go see it? Why not. It’s perfect for a lazy Sunday afternoon. Need a bathroom break at the halfway point? You won’t miss a thing!

Tip of the day
Stay through the credits – all the credits; there’s about a kilometer of them – for the best speech in the movie. It rawks.

 

Last night I went to an 8:15 p.m. showing of Blade Runner 2049, a 2-hour-and-44-minute endurance contest. I didn’t fall asleep, possibly because the film features the loudest soundtrack since All the World’s Garbage Trucks, and unlike the 17 other people in the theater I didn’t take a break to visit the bathroom.

Was this evening well-spent? Is New Blade Runner an improvement on Classic Blade Runner? Was Deckard’s dog real? Can you sit through a 2-hour-and-44-minute movie without going to the bathroom? Let’s see if we can answer some of these questions by running New Blade Runner through the 7 Deadly Sins of Science Fiction Movies meat grinder.

Sin #1: The plot revolves around/humanity owes its survival to an evil genius white male billionaire.

Look, people, in today’s world, science gets done in teams. There wasn’t one white male who invented the Cassini probe in his garage, sold it to NASA and the ESA for billions of dollars, and then became evil. Science is too complex and expensive for one man to create international havoc on his own. The last major scientist to work by himself was Nicola Tesla, and he’s been dead since 1943. No grant, no angel investors, no science.

New Blade Runner and Classic Blade Runner are both guilty here. In Classic Blade Runner, the evil genius white male billionaire is killed by one of his creations – another reason why you need a team.

Sin #2: Women of the future have one of two roles. They can be naked or they can be men.

New Blade Runner satisfies both requirements on the Hollywood diversity checklist.

Sin #3: No matter how advanced the technology, all conflicts will be resolved with a fist fight.

In New Blade Runner, the replicants played by Ryan Gosling and Sylvia Hoeks fight in the surf outside the Los Angeles sea wall. This is obviously director Denis Villeneuve’s homage to Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr making love in the surf in From Here to Eternity.

Sin #4: All post-apocalypse cities look like Soylent Green. If you venture underground, they look like THX 1138.

Those movies were made in 1973 and 1971, respectively. I guess you can’t beat ’70s science fiction, huh? (Oh yes you can: Battlestar Galactica, The Incredible Hulk, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, and this is just crud from the USA!)

New Blade Runner: Yes and then some. However, I have to admit that the junkyard was awesome. I want to be their artist in residence.

Sin #5: Never hire a writer. If you do, find ways to work around him or her.

The main writer on this picture was Hampton Fancher, who was the main writer on the original. He’s either lost a step since 1984 or he was stymied by the natural reticence of these characters. Most of them are not talkers. Gosling in particular is playing his introverted character from Lars and the Real Girl, except now he can shoot people.

The dialog is colorless, except for what was written for Sylvia Hoek’s Luv, who should’ve been a villain on Downton Abbey, and Jared Leto’s evil genius white male billionaire, a super-annoying mansplainer who thinks he’s too sexy for his shirt.

Robin Wright and Harrison Ford rise above the script. Edward James Olmos has about three minutes of screen time and we get no full view of his face, and yet, in his monochromatic way, is dominating. And Ford’s dog is brilliant. I want to teach my dog to stand malevolently in the shadows instead of racing ahead to get loved up.

Blade Runner goes to the beach.

Non-Blade Runner goes to the beach.

Sin #6: The villain always reveals his secret plans to the wrong people.

This is a specialty of superhero movies. It runs like this:

VILLAIN: Let me explain my plan. I haven’t carried it out yet, I just love the sound of my own voice.
SUPERHERO: Thank you. With this information, I was able to stop your plan.
VILLAIN: So that’s how it works.

New Blade Runner: Leto’s character couldn’t possibly spill the beans, because he speaks in riddles. He’s the son of David Clennon’s evil genius white male advertising exec from Thirtysomething, who was also super-annoying.

Sin #7: Men are terrified of sexually aggressive women.

This is a specialty of Star Trek. The poor men trapped in these scenarios turn into maladroit middle-schoolers when faced with women who want what they want. This isn’t screenwriting, this is memoir.

New Blade Runner: Sexually aggressive women are just fine, but don’t expect us to talk much afterwards, or even at all. We barely said anything when you walked in.

Final score: Five out of seven sins. It’s hard to be a saint in the city.

Final word: New Blade Runner is unexpectedly involving but, in the end, totally unnecessary. Classic Blade Runner said it all (and Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? said even more). I’m not sorry I saw it, and I enjoyed my walk home in the starry night, and now I don’t have to think about it again.

The dog was a hologram.

I hope this helps.

 

The four major musical genres I find at yard sales and estate sales are Celtic, Christmas, classical, and country. The fifth is probably whale sounds. Though I often find unexpected gold in these situations, to most of the CDs I dig up I would apply the term “not good.” However, I have found that whale sounds will chase people out of my office.

There’s never much jazz. Is the typical music consumer planning to be buried with her jazz records, or is it just that she didn’t buy much jazz in the first place?

I can’t answer this question, and I suspect I wouldn’t like the answer if I knew it. However, by combining all the jazz CDs I’ve found at these sales in various summers, I’m able to write this post. This gives me the chance to please Loyal Reader Seika, Jazz Commissar for Zone 22. It also means that once again I can TALK LIKE A JAZZ CRITIC! That is so boss.

On the downbeat!

Various artists from the Verve catalog, Talkin’ Verve Cool: 1957-66 (1997)
What is cool jazz? Is there a litmus test to tell cool from crud? Can someone from Massachusetts be cool? (No.)

Cool jazz, in my view, isn’t just hep cats snapping their fingers to incomprehensible music while turning the pages of incomprehensible books or trying to make themselves comprehensible to their heroin dealers. Cool jazz is cool because it doesn’t care if anyone else is in the room.

Talkin’ Verve Cool presents 10 excursions into the cool form, however you define it. The whole platter is cool (Quincy Jones & His Orchestra opens the set with the theme from The Pink Panther), but “Improvisation for Unaccompanied Saxophones” by Al Cohn and Zoot Sims is sublime. I had to listen to it twice just to grok how Al and Zoot hand off the parts to each other. It’s a flabbergasting 2 minutes and 20 seconds.

Ramsey Lewis, Sun Goddess (1974)
Jazz piano legend Lewis backed by Earth, Wind & Fire. They don’t play at Lewis’ Valhalla-like level, but they compensate with their enthusiasm. The show-stopper is “Sun Goddess” (performed live by EWF the following year on their album Gratitude).

Ivan “Boogaloo Joe” Jones, Sweetback (1975)
I bought this CD just for the man’s nickname, which makes “Steve” sound like I’m a murgatroid from Dullsville. Ivan Jones was a guitar player in the style of 1960s George Benson without Benson’s cross-over appeal in the ’70s (“On Broadway”). Boogaloo waxed an excellent tune in “Sweetback,” but his reading of Stevie Wonder’s “You’ve Got It Bad, Girl” is the real pearl in this oyster.

Nicholas Payton, Payton’s Place (1998)
Payton is a hard-bop trumpeter and band leader with no time for squares. The odd thing about Payton’s Place is that it could’ve been recorded in 1958. There’s nothing here that says End of the Century. Notable for the technical virtuosity on every groove and for the track “Three Trumpeters,” which features Payton, Roy Hargrove, and the cat no one can escape, Wynton Marsalis.

Charlie Hunter Quartet, Songs From the Analog Playground (2001)
Hunter, who plays an eight-string guitar (that’s one louder than 10) can lay down a groove in any genre of music, just like Béla Fleck on banjo, Yo-Yo Ma on upright bass, and me on air guitar.

Songs From the Analog Playground is a funky platter of jazz fusion. Eight of the 13 tracks have guest vocalists, including rapper Mos Def (who sings) and a young Norah Jones on a cover of Roxy Music’s “Avalon.” The drummer’s chops on “Percussion Shuffle” are everything plus.

I thought the song “Mitch Better Have My Bunny” was a joke about Rihanna’s “Bitch Better Have My Money” until I realized that Rihanna’s tune didn’t appear until 2012 and this was 2001. How did Charlie Hunter do this? This shows you how little I know about jazz.

Upper Left Trio, Three (2007)
There’s a fine line between improvisation and finger-painting. The piano-drums-bass Upper Left Trio trips over that line on almost every track. These cats are first-rate players (and, according to my colleague Lorna, at least two of them are “really cute”), but some of this stuff makes me want to petition the United Nations to intervene.

However, when this Pacific Northwest band is good, they’re clobberin’ time good, as on their reading of Neil Young’s “Don’t Let It Bring You Down.”

It was a sunny day today, but summer’s heat is long gone, except in the Columbia Gorge where forest fires have been raging for weeks. I don’t know how all the critters out there will prepare for winter. As for us, I’m always reminded at this season of this quote from the writer and illustrator Ben Böst:

Soon the snows will begin to fall and we’ll be in for the duration. But with a roof over our heads, a fresh pot of coffee, old bourbon, and good books we’ll do just fine.

If you substitute “our favorite coffee shop” for “a fresh pot of coffee” and “non-stop shedding by the dog” for “old bourbon,” you about have us here at Run-DMSteve World HQ. Stay warm, cats, and keep swinging like sixteen.

 

You’re an artist. It’s noon and you’ve been awake for at least 15 minutes. You’ve gargled your first gallon of coffee. It’s time to get your game on. How do you welcome your Muse? Yoga? Affirmations? Mixed martial arts?

Michelangelo opened himself to inspiration with his paint-by-numbers kit. John Steinbeck typed up everything that had happened to him on his way to his office. Bruce Springsteen drives down a dusty beach road and counts the skeleton frames of burned-out Chevrolets. When Stormin’ Gorman Thomas played for the Seattle Mariners, he rapped himself in the back of his head with his bat. I’m not making this up about Steinbeck and Stormin’ Gorman.

For years, before I wrote a new post for this blog, I began by standing for the “Star-Spangled Banner.” But from now on, I’ll take a knee.

Summer 2017 in review: Part 1

Estate sales: books, music, stickers, colored pencils, tools I don’t need, kitchen gadgets from another century, the insides of old weird houses. Scavenging in the debris field of other people’s lives – what’s not to like?

For a quarter or maybe 50 cents, I can pick up a CD I know nothing about or don’t remember. Sometimes this works. Here are some albums I tried this summer that didn’t. I’ll never see that dollar again.

It’s raining men

Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young were four of the manliest men you’d ever want to man up with. This Anglo-Saxon army is responsible for three classics of the Classic Rock rockin’ Caucasians classic era: the studio albums Crosby, Stills & Nash (1969) and Déjà Vu (1970) and their live set, 4 Way Street (1971). But after 1971, nothing happened. And still more nothing. What’s a record company to do?

I’ll tell you what Atlantic Records did. They took a chunk of the first record and a chunk of the second record and added “Ohio” and gave us So Far in 1974. Is So Far a greatest-hits album or an intelligence test? If it was the second, CSNY’s fans flunked, because So Far went right to the top of Billboard’s Hot 200 Albums chart.

In 1974, before disco suctioned out their bone marrow, CSNY was so big that you could carve “CSNY” into a slice of Wonder Bread and CSNY fans would fight to use it for their next Holy Communion.

Just buy the first three albums, OK?

A useful way of understanding this band is measuring them in Units of Monkees. David Crosby was Michael Nesmith, Stephen Stills was Michael Nesmith, Graham Nash was stuck being Davey Jones because he’s English even though he’s really Michael Nesmith, and Neil Young was Michael Nesmith. If I had been in CSNY, I would’ve been Peter Tork.

Nerdz 2 men

R.E.M. always acted as if they had no sense of humor, probably because they didn’t. The closest they came to a good laugh (on us) was Dead Letter Office (1987), a collection of songs the band forgot, songs the band was too drunk to remember, songs the band didn’t like, and songs the band took apart and rebuilt later but without much enthusiasm. And I’m quoting from their own liner notes!

What a bunch of fun-loving hooligans. Imagine their surprise when their fans fell for it. Dead Letter Office peaked at 52 on the Hot 200. Mazal tov, R.E.M. fans! I’d sell you a bridge, but the CSNY fans already bought it.

While I admit there are a couple of good songs on this disc (particularly “Windout,” which rocks), it’s mostly made up of songs I wish I was too drunk to remember. This includes their cover of Roger Miller’s “King of the Road.” Let me tell you something, my fine motherfuckers: The words are “I’m a man of means,” not “I’m a man of men”!

Crash Davis after confiscating Nuke LaLoosh’s guitar in Bull Durham: “It ain’t ‘woolly,’ it’s ‘weary,’ and nobody’s got stress, they’re wearing a dress. Dammit, I hate it when people get the words wrong!”

Hot mess

The readers of Rolling Stone voted The Killers’ 2004 debut, Hot Fuss, as the 33rd best debut album in history. The Beastie Boys’ Licensed to Ill was first. After listening to Hot Fuss, I’m illin’. The Killers are actually just a hair band that escaped from the 1980s – a marriage of synth-pop Spandau Ballet and pretty-boy power-rockers Night Ranger. What God has joined together, let not man put asunder.

Four of the 11 tracks on Hot Fuss were hits. Why? Sun spots? “Jenny Was a Friend of Mine,” the leadoff batter, opens with an R&B guitar hook that gave me hope for the rest of the album. They abandon it after the first minute. The guitar break based on the hook is taken instead by the keyboards and has nothing to do with the beginning of the song. Their music wanders, and they are lost.

But I did like “Midnight Show,” which springs from Dead or Alive’s “You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)” and from Billy Idol’s “White Wedding,” which I guess proves that I’ve escaped from the ’80s, too.

The Killers enjoy playing with words, which sometimes gets you this:

Well somebody told me
You had a boyfriend
Who looked like a girlfriend
That I had in February of last year

But it also gets you “I got soul, but I’m not a soldier” and their immortal “Hey shut up, hey shut up, yeah.”

I agree. Shut up.

Hit the road, Raymond

Ray Charles’ The Ultimate Hits Collection Discs 1 and 2 includes every novelty number the man ever recorded plus every song in which he shouted “Wait a minute!” His cover of “Yesterday” sounds like he’s trying to finish before his train arrives, plus he shouts “Wait a minute!” Charles was a genius, but buy one of his non-greatest-hits albums instead.

Next time, you get the Snuggles the Fabric Softener Bear edition of Run-DMSteve: Albums I liked!

 

Twenty years ago, Half.com was the place you went to buy books, CDs, VHS tapes, and games at half the original price. That was a most excellent arrangement. But then eBay bought Half and prices were set free, and that was even better! Salvagers who bought unwanted books, CDs, and etc. by the pound began selling them for 75 cents each (a common price for books) and even a penny (uncommon, but I found some).

Half’s home page hasn’t moved a millimeter past 2005. The categories never changed: Books, Textbooks, Music, Movies, Games. Special D handled Half for the two of us early on. She did well there in the years before eBay’s takeover, clearing our shelves of excess books and fattening the pile of gold coins in the basement. I may not be remembering this exactly.

I’m going to miss all the reading and music I found so inexpensively on Half. When you’re a writer – when both of you are writers – inexpensive counts for a lot!

Last album bought on Half: Elvis Costello, Get Happy

Last book: Gail Caldwell, Let’s Take the Long Way Home: A Memoir of Friendship

Last words: At least there’s still the library. And Bookmooch!