essay Archive

Essay: “My Brilliant Non-career” Part 3

ANYway, I digress. So I bought this thing, more or less expecting it to arrive and require a few hours of plug-and-play assembly. What I found instead was an “unstuffed” printed circuit board and a plastic baggy full of things that looked like little Sputnik satellites the size of Tic-Tacs. Yes, I know, I know…

Essay: “My Brilliant Non-career” Part 2

The Poly 800 had lots of sounds, was relatively easy to reprogram with different sounds, allowed saving of the sounds, and weighed about 15 pounds. It had pegs at either end, so of course I had to buy a strap and go all 80s on it. Sometime around this time I let go of the

Essay: “My Brilliant Non-career” Part 1

When I was little my parents had this toy of a keyboard called a Magnus Chord Organ. Most 1960s homes seemed to have one. It was a two-and-a-half-octave affair, with (I believe) slightly undersized keys, and two rows of buttons that played “chords.” Black buttons were minor; white, major. Even as a child I loved

Essay: “Don’t Fret,” or, “I Write the Songs” Garage Style

For several years starting in 2002, I led a little ol’ cover band. We played much-loved and little-known garage-psych classics in reasonably faithful arrangements. Songs like “You’re Gonna Miss Me” by the 13th Floor Elevators, “Incense and Peppermints” by the Strawberry Alarm Clock, and the Choir’s “It’s Cold Outside.”  Those were the well-known ones. No

What do you get when you cross the Yardbirds with German prog?

In or around 1980 I went into my friendly local record shop and purchased a new, shrink-wrapped 2LP set called Shapes of Things. It was a compilation of Yardbirds radio broadcasts and whatnot, on the Canada-based Bomb label. One of those semi-legit releases, I think. I got home and played it, and it was fine.

So Much for Rockstock 09

I only heard about the Rockstock 09 “festival” a few weeks ago. I was quite excited to discover that the Smithereens would be performing. I’ve always loved their powerpop-meets-heaviness approach, and sort of projected a they’re-kindred-spirits persona onto the band, believing that the quartet was made up of True Fans Of Rock like myself. Turns

Paste Magazine Got it Right. Sorta.

Paste Magazine has an online feature in which they go for the funny and gently mock themselves and their ilk. “The ’60s & ’70s Bands Rock Critics & Musicians Always Namecheck But That No One Else Really Ever Listens To 2009” lists those acts, and makes a half-hearted argument as to why they get mentioned

Ray Charles = Genius. Michael Jackson ≠ Genius.

Against a backdrop of TV news/infotainment’s wall-to-wall, undeservedly reverential adoration for Michael Jackson, I found myself tasked with considering the meaning of the word genius. Here’s what I came up with: a review of the new single-disc compilation Genius: The Ultimate Ray Charles Collection.

The Collection

It wasn’t shrinkwrapped, but appeared to be new. The cover sported a black-and-white photo of The Beatles dating from 1969. There was no title on the front. On the back, there was an odd cartoon drawing of a guy with headphones, and endless text, most of which seemed to be gibberish or some elaborate inside

Profile: Lance Wille, Record Collector

Born: October 19, 1963 Education: Art studies at Northern Illinois University, Dekalb IL Avocation: Fairview resident Lance Wille is a busy man with diverse interests. He maintains a hand-cranked letterpress studio. He plays drums with underground legends Reigning Sound. He’s married to renowned local artist Sue Million. And he has an extensive collection of LP