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Getting The Spins: Old 97’s – Drag It Up

(New West Records, 2004)

Shit’s crazy out there, and I just needed some comfort food. My beloved Old 97’s always deliver the feel-goods. Plus I’ve been thinking about the band lately. Partly because I’ll be interviewing the band’s frontman Rhett Miller on Monday (stay tuned for the interview right here!) about their new record and other topical stuff. I also got into a Twitter discussion with a friend today about which album was their worst. Honestly, they haven’t put out a truly bad record, although Drag It Up seems to come up in those types of discussions by fans and the band alike. I’ll admit I was a little disappointed when it was released in 2004 (later reissued on vinyl in 2012), coming off the big-production power pop album Satellite Rides. Comparatively, this one is far more raw and subdued, but over the years it’s become one of my favorites by the band. “Valium Waltz” and “In the Satellite Rides a Star” (the latter of which was accompanied by one of the best videos ever made) are fantastically somber and doesn’t sound like anything the band has done. In fact, the entire record doesn’t sound like anything they’ve done, from the mid-fi production to the diversity and overall dark weirdness of the songs. Definitely a cult classic…or a sleeper hit in waiting–at least in my feeble mind.

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Music

Getting The Spins: Steve Hillage – Green

(Virgin, 1978)

I’ve been looking for this for a while now. For some reason this one ain’t cheap, even though you can find other Hillage records for under 10 bucks. Anyway, I traded in some old junkers and got this shiny Japanese pressing for nothing, and I’m stoked. Steve Hillage was, of course, once part of the mighty Gong, the tripped-out British space prog band that put a out a string of (inter)stellar records in the 1970s. While Hillage’s first three solo albums are guitar onslaughts, Green dives into more synthesizers and gets a little funkier. This one has lots of twists and turns, and it’s probably my favorite Hillage record, which I’m sure to many is considered Hillage sacrilege.

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Music

Getting The Spins: Buffy Sainte-Marie – Illuminations

(Vanguard, 1969)

Easily the best $10 I spent at the Eugene Record Show this past weekend. I’d forgotten this was on my list until I saw Buffy looking back at me from the bin. This cosmic cult classic veers from Sainte-Marie’s more traditional style of folk music (although, she was an outsider even then)–it’s darker and more experimental than anything she’s done, pushing her voice and instrumentation into ghostly realms. Sainte-Marie is a trailblazer on many levels. On Illuminations she ran her vocals through a Buchla 100 synthesizer, something that hadn’t been done before. She was probably the first woman to talk about, and breastfeed, on television. Throughout her career she’s been outspoken about women’s and Native Americans’ place in society. She denounced Vietnam and the Nixon Administration. Simply put: Illuminations and Buffy Sainte-Marie were lightyears ahead of their time.

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DJ Mark In the Dark @ Ground Kontrol

Tonight! Another raucous night of heavy metal at Ground Kontrol. I bought a couple of rippers today at the Eugene Record Show, and they’re ready to be unleashed. 8 p.m. – 2 minutes to midnight!

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Music

Getting The Spins: Richard and Linda Thompson – I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight

(Island, 1974)

There aren’t many artists that can easily bring me to tears, but Richard and Linda Thompson sure can. Linda’s voice alone does that, but add Richard’s low-end harmony and I melt into a puddle. Or when he squeezes off one of those moving guitar solos. Or when he drops a minor chord in just the right spot. I listen to I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight a lot–sometimes it’s the only thing that gets me through the day with my faculties intact. “The Cavalry Cross” makes time stand still, and the title track is a joyous sliver of hedonistic ’70s barroom rock. I’d be remiss if I didn’t also mention Timi Donald, whose laid back, yet precise drumming is one of my favorite things about this record (he’s also excellent on John Cale’s Slow Dazzle). This album is perfection and, if you’re looking for more, 1975’s Pour Down Like Silver notches only slightly lower for me.

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Music

Getting The Spins: U2 – The Joshua Tree

(Island, 1987)

As a metalhead–and a knucklehead–in high school, bands like U2 and INXS were like poison (not Poison…I liked them), and best avoided. And just imagine my horror back then when The Edge was making “best guitarists” lists alongside Eddie Van Halen and Kirk Hammett. I grew to appreciate those bands (and The Edge) after the fact. While I still enjoy The Joshua Tree for the most part, I can see it for being the overwrought record that it is. Honestly, I just put it on so I could listen to “In God’s Country,” which is still a magical three minutes, and, to me, the reason The Edge made those lists back in 1987.

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Getting The Spins: Archie Shepp – Montreux One

(Arista/Freedom, 1976)

I’m seeing Archie Shepp tomorrow as part of the PDX Jazz Festival, and I cannot wait. I’m gearing up by listening to this live set, one of two records that came from his 1975 performance at the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland. Not as out-there as Mama Too Tight or The Magic of Ju-Ju, but it’s a pretty hot performance, and one that I imagine closely captures what I’ll be experiencing this weekend. One of the last of the avant-garde/free jazz players–gotta see these legends while we still can.

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Getting The Spins: Ike & Tina Turner – Nutbush City Limits

(United Artists, 1973)

It’s hard to choose a favorite Ike & Tina record, but this is probably it for me (1971’s ‘Nuff Said also gets a lot of spins around here). The title track alone is worth the price of admission, but then you have killer kuts like “Make Me Over,” “Club Manhattan” and their fiery, difinitive version of “River Deep, Mountain High”–guaranteed to draw some blood, sweat and tears! And Tina Turner is, was, and always will be, the goddamn Queen. Bow down.

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Music

DJ Mark In the Dark @ Ground Kontrol

Tonight I’ll climb up into the booth at the world-famous Ground Kontrol classic arcade for my monthly Black Sunday gig. All metal. All vinyl. From extreme black to bands that just wanna rock and roll all nite, I’ve got you covered. Also, no cover. It’s a holiday tomorrow so come have a drink(s) and play some Ms. Pac-Man. 8 p.m. – 2 minute to midnight.

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Music

Getting The Spins: Black Sabbath – Black Sabbath

(Vertigo, 1970)

What else would I be listening to on this unholiest of days? (I bought this original German Vertigo pressing a decade ago for 10 bucks, for you nerds). Released in the UK on February 13, 1970–Friday the 13th, of course–Black Sabbath’s debut invented an entire genre–guess which one? Fifty years ago. There were a lot of hard rock bands at the time (Sir Lord Baltimore, Coven, Blue Cheer), but no one conjured the bleakness or evil that these four blokes from Birmingham had. Or the riffs. Or that voice. Tony Iommi rightfully gets credit for creating some of the most menacing riffs ever put on tape, but Ozzy Osbourne’s vocals were from another dimension. Add to that a rhythm section of bassist Geezer Butler and drummer Bill Ward, and you have a band that would release six straight untouchable records that can still crush anything that has come since. Heavy metal as we know it started right here. Let us pray. And let us listen to my favorite cut from this slab o’ doom.