Monday, October 8, 2007

The good Judge Robert presiding... (pt. 5.7 of 5)

(Hey man, I'm a Douglas Adams fan, I know how many books are in a trilogy ;-)

The oughts.
(or: When PRO-gressive becomes RE-gressive)

The first post-Bruford Crimson disc, The ConstruKction of Light seems to say "Hey, we were cool back in '74!" Even to the point that a couple of the songs are updated version of pieces from that era. The ep Happy With.... seems to start things looking up again, but is nowhere near as mind blowingly different as VROOM was. And finally, The Power to Believe, while being the best of the three, is not going to be making it into my heavy rotation anytime soon. At this point "danger" seems to be just a well defined setting on a rack of effects. That being said, I wish I had seen them on that tour and would certainly go see them any time.

Perhaps Prog Rock is like Punk Rock in that if you become too good at it the music loses the chaotic edge that is essential to its definiton.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Anton (another Interlude)

The other day I decided to take a break from the project and listen to the Complete Anton Webern box set, 'cuz that's just how I roll, yo. At one point Christopher was out on the porch and the four year old who lives across the street told him "This music's silly." I don't know if those are the exact words I would have use to describe Webern's music, but I also don't know that he's wrong.

The good Judge Robert presiding... (pt. 5 of 5)

90's Double Trio

Talk about the return of the Crimson King!! VROOOM, THRAK, B'BOOM!!!! Say it loud, say it often. This band is so intense that they have to use all caps for their album titles. I do have to admit that I have a special place in my heart for this specific incarnation of Crimson since I got to see them live (once under, shall we say, interesting conditions), but even still I was blow away on this listen. And once again, the live material is where it's at. Interesting that for someone who usually doesn't particularly care for live recordings I've been tending to prefer them for every period of Crimson. My only regret is that I didn't have a copy of THRaKaTTaCK to listen to.

note: I was originally going to treat 90's to present as one entry, but upon listening decided that the material from this century is so significantly different that it warrants its own post.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Tonight we're gonna party like it's 1995 (an Interlude)

I've been reading "A Year with swollen appendices, Brian Eno's diary." He kept this diary during 1995, at which time he was working (to varying degrees) on David Bowie~Outside, James~Whiplash, Passengers~Original Soundtrack & Eno/Wobble~Spinner, all of which I've owned since they came out. I decided to take a day to listen to these four discs.

Outside Wow. This album truly keeps getting better and better. In the midst of the peaceful idyll of the mid-nineties, Bowie taps into an Orwellian paranoia that doesn't seem that far fetched today. The band is spectacular, and Eno's influence is abundant.

Whiplash Of these four albums, this is the one that Brian was the least involved with. It's chock full of great songs, and the band is tight, but in the context of an Eno review it hardly qualifies.

Original Soundtrack Essentially U2+Eno, this disc is going into heavy rotation for me. In terms of the diary, there is a rather detailed section when they are working on this album. As such it is excellent to be able to read about the in studio process, and then hear the end results.

Spinner This album has been, and continues to be an influence as a way of working. Essentially Eno handed a bunch of tapes over to Jah Wobble, who then added his own work. Oddly enough, even though all four of these albums remind me at least somewhat of specific times in my life, this disc gave me the strongest flashbacks as it were.

So in conclusion, most of my non-listening-project listening has been Eno-based. I am, after all, the fourth deadly Finn.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The good Judge Robert presiding... (pt. 4 of 5)

1980's: Discipline era.

What was it about the 80's that made everyone suck? Now, to imply that The Mighty King Crimson was ever less than stellar could earn you a black eye (or at least a scathing e-mail) in the nerdy circles I run with. However, if Discipline, Beat, and Three of a Perfect Pair were the entire recorded output of the King I don't think I would count myself as a Crim Head. The great irony here is the one line liner note in the first album which reads "Discipline is never an end in itself, only a means to an end." Listening to the studio albums, all I hear is the discipline. "Gosh, that sure sounds hard to play." It wasn't until about halfway through Three of a Perfect Pair that I realized what was missing. There was no danger, no edge. Particularly in contrast with the Larks' Tongue era. That band always seemed as if it was about to crush the listener by shear force of sound. And then I got to the live set Absent Lovers. It's almost as if before the show Fripp said to the guys "Ok, I want you to go out there and play this show like King Crimson!" The power and the beauty is there in these songs, but it only seemed to come out live. Perhpas there was something in the water in recording studios during the 80's that rotted the brains of great artists.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

The good Judge Robert presiding... (pt. 3 of 5)

I don't even know where to begin with this incarnation of Crimson. This has always been my favorite era, and I don't predict that that willl change during the current listening. Talk about a monster band. Bruford ('William' as he's credited on Starless) is amazing as always. No offence to any of the other fine bass players throughout the King's history, but nobody had the monster tone that Wetton had. And Cross and Fripp dance around one another while piercing into your brain. Not only is the song writing top-notch proggy-type goodness, but the improvising is so tight that all improvising rock bands should be forced to sit down and listen to the Great Deceiver box-set before they are allowed to jam again. My only regret is that the incredibly talented Jamie Muir is only present on Lark's Tongue. His various precussives add a level to that album that I think the other two studio albums and the live set lack. Perhaps I'll just have to improve my Music Improvisation Company collection before I get to M.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

The good Judge Robert presiding... (pt. 2 of 5?)

So last week I started King Crimson. After listening to the first two discs I have (In the Court of the Crimson King & Lizard) I decided that I owed it to Crimson to listen to the complete discography. A phone call and a disc later and, voila, I have the complete studio recordings and assorted live releases. Since I had inadvertently skipped over In The Wake of Poseidon, and I now have the early live discs of Epitaph, I decided to start again. After re-listening to Court at home the other day I got down to some serious Fripping out as it were yesterday. As it happens, with adding in the live material I now have between six and nine discs for each of the four major periods of Crimson. That means that I can listen to each period in a single work day. As a result, I will be publishing a brief post on each period.

Early years ('69~'72)
The live material from this era really points out how jazzy they were at the time. During several of the improvisations one could easily speculate that this was a jazz rock band, particularly during some of the woodwind solos. A lot of the studio material from this time seems hopelessly dated to me. With the notable exception of 21st Century Schiziod Man, there is no doubt that this band was still dealing with the hippie influence. One can almost imagine Fripp in the studio saying "Ok, seriously, when are we going to stop playing this hippie music. Will someone please wake me up when all of you are out of the band and we can play something with balls again?" Which is not to say that I didn't enjoy listening to these discs. There are some delightfully weird bits here and there, and I must admit that I love the sound of a Mellotron (are you listening Santa?) However, as beautiful as a song like Cadence & Cascade may be, it seems rather weak after the fury of Schiziod Man. Additionally, with having the perspective of knowing what lies ahead for Fripp & Co. I have to conclude that King Crimson would probably not be as important to me if this had been their entire output.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The good Judge Robert presiding...

Contemplating the confusion of my epitaph
I dream in Mellotron
visions of Buffalo 66 dancing in my head
I have safely landed in the court of the crimson king

Perhaps when I'm done I'll have enough discipline to make an actual post.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Random bits in reverse alphabetical order

How to act like a thirtysomething year old asshole.
Take one (1) (out)dated disc you used to love as a teenager, like oh I dunno say, the Judgement Night soundtrack, crank it to eleven (11) and a) sing along, b) dance around, and/or c) generally rock-out like it's the freshest thing you've heard since Bring The Noise. Guaranteed to make you feel like a jerk. (though I did enjoy it...)

Brian's on line one....
I've often stated that Brain Eno is a major influence on my music, but sometimes even I forget how far this goes. Listening to the Eno produced James album Wah Wah the other day reminded me that I lot of my sound and texture choices are based on sounds and textures from Eno albums.

Oh, but for a few hours
At the end of March of this year I went down to NYC for a few days. Before going down I looked into things to do and found that Andrew Hill was playing the day I arrived. I got there at around 6pm only to discover that he played at 2pm that day. Three weeks later he died. I very much enjoyed listening to the few Hill albums I have and wish, wish, wish I had made it to the city a few hours earlier that day.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

It's funny 'cuz it's true

What did one Dead Head say to the other when the drugs ran out?

"This music sucks!!"

I just had to listen to two studio discs and thirteen live discs by the Grateful Dead, including three complete shows from 1990 that I went to. I wanted to shoot myself. While they may have been fun to see live, listening to the shows was pure torture. And contrary to traditional Dead wisdom, I actually enjoyed the studio albums and wished that I still had more of them. A friend of mine once said (talking about cocaine) that any drug that could make disco seem good was not ok. The same can be said about the various drugs that made the Dead seem ok.

Other things
This Sunday, July 15th, the Listening Project will be one year old. It looks like I will be right at the end of "G" for the anniversary.

Coming Soon: About a month ago I started to write a blog about Sage Francis that I never finished/posted. Since I am seeing him live tomorrow I will finish and post that blog soon.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

A band that quit at the right time

Let's face it, most bands don't call it quits at the right time. Some drag on endlessly, becoming parodies of themselves (The Rolling Stones.) Some foolishly ignore the departure of their true creative driving force (Genesis.) Others stop abruptly during the peak of their musical outputs due to personal and/or creative differences (Mr. Bungle, the original Jane's Addiction.) And countless others are halted due to death (too many to name.) It is a rare thing that a band stops recording and/or performing at just the right time, when their output is perhaps of just a touch lesser quality than their earlier work, but not so much so as to be embarrassing. Such was the case with fIREHOSE.

After the death of guitarist D Boon ended the post punk band the Minutemen, Ed Crawford (aka Ed fROMOHIO) gathered up bassist Mike Watt and drummer George Hurley to form fIREHOSE. They immediately recorded the superb "Ragin', Full-On" for the SST label. Crawford's sometimes delicate singing and clean guitar playing wove in and around Watt's powerful bass and Hurley's often intricate drumming. The band had the technical facility to wander through different musical styles; sometimes straight rock with a bit of folk tinge, the occasional spanish sounding guitar, and was that a bit of disco I heard in the bass? Upon listening to his album the other day I was amazed at how much it continues to 'wow' me more than fifteen years after I first heard it.

Unfortunately for myself and the sake of this post I do not own "If'n" or "fROMOHIO," the two other albums they recorded for SST. In the early Nineties they were signed to Columbia and released "Flyin' the Flannel." My initial reaction to this album (now, not then) was that it had been recorded in the Post-Nirvana Grunge Craze of '92 when every major label was signing any indie band they could get their hands on. However, upon examining the liner notes I discovered that the album was recorded in January of '91, a full year before the explosion. What seems interesting to me about this is that it points out the fact that "grunge" or whatever you want to call it, was happenning all around in the few years before the mainstream media got ahold of it. Incidentally, I saw them live around this time, and before they played the title track from this album Mike Watt asked the crowd "Who here thinks that flannel was invented in Seattle?" which was met with a hardy "Boo!"

Finally we come to "Mr. Machinery Operator" which was produced by J Mascis. By this time, grunge was everywhere and the unique sound they had in the beginning is starting to melt into the soup of the times. Watt sounds more like Les Claypool and/or Flea, Crawford sounds more like any number of guitarists from that time, and the presence of Mascis obviously gives the whole thing a bit of a Dinosaur Jr. feel. However, the songwriting is still very good throughout. One track in particular that struck me was "Hell-Hole" which features a guest female vocalist and a sax player. While not necessarily the best song on the album, it pointed towads a direction the band could have taken had they stayed together. However, this was to be their last album, and it turned out to be a good place to stop. While it lacks the unique sound of their early work, it remains a solid effort that is far from being an embarrassment to the good name of fIREHOSE.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Let's try this again

So apparently, my answer to "How much time ya got?" is "Not enough to maintain a blog." I think I got a bit daunted by trying to choose from the hundreds of discs I had already listened to. So I am now going to take a slightly different approach. Starting today I will try to post once a week and I will randomly discuss one or more of the albums I've listened to within the last week. So, without further ado...

Fantasia Soundtrack. In the last few months I've been listening to more classical music than ever, so this was interesting to hear again. This two disc set was one of the first classical recordings I ever bought. Rite of Spring, for me, was a very early "Wow, I didn't know music could sound like that!" moment. I still enjoyed that piece, but my increased knowledge has diminished the "Wow" factor. At least a dozen works spring (no pun intended) to mind that can floor me to a degree that the Stravinsky no longer can. Bach's Toccatta & Fugue in D Minor has always been a favorite of mine. Now, I'm no purist about Bach being played on certain instruments. Hell, I practically wet myself when Apollo Sunshine played a synth-rock version of a Bach tune. However, listening to this fully orchestrated version made me think that this piece really should be played on organ as it was intended. Unfortunately for Dukas, the Sorcerer's Apprentice is so tied to those images of Mickey Mouse that it's impossible to consider the music on its own terms. Similarly, Ponchielli's Dance of the Hours is so tied to Allen Sherman's "Hello Mudduh, Hello, Fadduh, Here I am at, Camp Grenada" that I can't help but sing that as the tune plays. I've never particularly cared for Ave Maria (a bit too over played in my opinion) and I've always hated the Nutcracker so that part was painful. Hearing Beethoven's 6th made me want to listen to more Beethoven, although that particular symphony doesn't really do much for me. And finally, the piece that I'd say surprised me the most was Mussorgsky's Night on Bald Mountain. This was always one of my favorites in the set, and I was surprised at how much I still enjoyed it. Perhaps I need to explore the Russians a bit more.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Another A,B,C...

An die Musik ~ Timeless Tales & Music of Our Time (w/Dr. Ruth Westheimer)
Here we have one of several very strange entries in the collection. Classically oriented musical interpretations of two children's stories with narration by Dr. Ruth. Yes, that Dr. Ruth. Little Red Riding Hood and Goldilocks. Very Strange. How or why this disc is in my collection is somewhat of a mystery, although I'd wager a bet that I got it while at 'RIU. The music is very predictable in a "this is what's happening" way. The words have bizarre modern flourishes here and there. For example, Red is bringing her grandmother "Plain, poppy, and sesame seed bagels and macadamia nut cookies that mother made." Not exactly a top ten hit, but something I think I'll reserve for those late night after hours parties when everyone's seven or eight sheets to the wind.

Birdsongs of the Mesozoic ~ faultline
Ah, Birdsongs. Electronic, acoustic, classical, rock, jazz, etc... I hardly have words to describe this amazing band. Anyone with even a passing interest in electronic music and/or 20th century composition should look into this group. I've had the fortune to see them live two and a half times (don't ask about the half) and the sheer power of this music is overwhelming live. The clip below will give you a much better idea about them than I ever could.

My only regret is that I only have one album by them.

And now for something a little more 'normal.'

Holly Cole ~ Temptation
On this album from 1995, the Holly Cole Trio (H.C., vocals; Aaron Davis, piano; David Piltch, bass) pays tribute to none other than Tom Waits. Personally, I've always enjoyed hearing the signiture growl of Mr. Waits' lyrics re-worked with smooth female vocals. If fact I'll even say I prefer hearing a woman cover Tom. I guess it's just more 'different' than a man could ever achieve. Certain lyrics take on new meaning when sung by a woman. For example in Jersey Girl, and Invitation To The Blues the perspective switches from the observer to the observed. Some songs (Take Me Home & Little Boy Blue, both from One From The Heart) were written for a female to sing. A song like Soldiers Things, while making sense sung from either perspective, takes on a new level of sadness in the female voice. Holly's interpretation of I Want You makes it sound as if it came out of the Great American Songbook. Perhaps the one song that gets the most radical re-working is I Don't Wanna Grow Up. In the original Tom, at that point in his early forties, sounds like a petulant child. In the much slowed down version by Holly, then in her early thirties, she sounds like a tired old soul full of regret.

Over-all a fine effort. Some truly stand out interpretations, and no noticeable duds (a remarkable feat for any cover album.) I wouldn't say that any of these tracks outshine their originals, but they each offer a unique take on some really wonderful music.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

An A, a B, & a C

Since I'm now seven months and over three hundred discs into this project I'm obviously not going to go back and review all of those albums. I've already, though briefly, covered the Beatles and I'm planning on a major, multiple post write up about David Bowie (51 discs, took me a month). In the meantime I will post some reviews of a few high lights, in of course, alphabetical order.

The Apes of God ~ Edge of Arrival
I first discovered the Apes of God while working at WRIU. The unusual packaging of this disc made it stand out from the scores of other discs at the station and when I listened to it I was thrilled to find this wonderfully bizarre music. The vocals (primarily Gilbert Marhoefer) are almost entirely spoken word owing more to sprechtimme than to beatniks or rappers. The highly poetic lyrics tend to have an apocolyptical flair to them. For example, "You have been ruled by a warthog, but it has always been this way." in Starting Over In Purity or the angry growling of the title line in "Why can't Lansberry get his mail?" Musically the group is even harder to pin down. The overall texture is that of an electronically created music, although sprinkled thoughout with various woodwinds (clarinet, sax, bassoon). They seem to be less concerned with writing songs as with creating moods. It seems to me that the lyrics always come first and that the music is there a) to reinforce the words and b) because people don't buy poetry albums. Definitely an odd-ball disc, but worth it if you like outsider music.

The Bad Plus
When I started my listening project I also tried keeping a journal with a review of every disc I listened to. Didn't last too long, but I had this to say about the Bad Plus.
"Everyone needs to listen to the Bad Plus now. They are a jazz piano trio that functions more like a rock band than a jazz group. David King's rhythms are certainly closer to rock than jazz, Ethan Iverson absolutely pummels his piano to elicit sounds I didn't think were possible, and Reid Anderson grounds the whole sound while giving it yet another set of balls. Their choice of cover tunes reflects the rock-like approach, notably Nirvana's Smells Like Teen Spirit and Black Sabbath's Iron Man. But hearing jazz versions of heavy metal and grunge songs is not a mere novelty. They delve into the heart of these songs to find the spirit (if you will) that makes the originals so exciting. And these covers are not the only points of interest on these albums. Their original songs carry the same energy and power. This is a truly amazing band that is obviously working hard at what they do."
I don't have much to add to that. All of their albums are amazing so I'm having a hard time recommending one over the other. My only other comment is that Prehensile Dream (first track on Suspicious Activity?) will kick you in the nuts, and I mean that in the good way.

And for C, a touch of the absurd..

If I Were A Carpenter A tribute to the Carpenters
Now, all sorts of arguements could be made about the "proper" filing of this disc. As a "Various Artists" disc it could go under "V." I also have other compilations filed by name in which case this would go under "I." I chose to file it under Carpenters, because that's where I would most likely look for it. Anyway...

First of all, a tribute to the Carpenters is a funny thing. Most of the songs they were famous for were covers. Richard Carpenter recieves writing credits on only three of the fourteen songs here. However, this disc contains several excellent versions of these songs by some first-rate alt-rock bands from the mid-nineties (wOOt - high hyphen count - wOOt!) Although as with any compilation, they're not all gems. Shonen Knife's version of Top Of The World ends up as a novelty because of the whole can't pronounce L's thing (world=worrd). I've always hated The Cranberries and their version of Bacharach's Close To You does nothing to change this opinion. And anyone who has only ever heard either the Carpenters or Babes in Toyland perform Calling Occupants Of Interplanetary Craft should do themselves a favor and hunt down the original Klaatu version. (In fact, I think I'm going to take a break from my main listening, currently Miles Davis ~ Complete Live at the Plugged Nickel and put on the first Klaatu album. Ah, there now that's better...)

On the plus side: Matthew Sweet ~ Let Me Be The One, Sheryl Crow ~ Solitaire, American Music Club ~ Goodbye To Love. Cracker's version of Rainy Days & Mondays really gets at the heart of the inherent sadness of this song. The one song, however, that is worth the price of admission alone is Sonic Youth covering Leon Russell's Superstar. This is an example of a cover that not only surpasses the original, but becomes the definitive version. Period. End of story. I dare you to find a better version of this song. This song has been giving me shivers since this album came out almost thirteen years ago.

Well, that should do it for today. Happy listening!

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Some British group...

The first group that I was able to listen to a complete discography by was the Beatles. Now, a lifetime could be spent hunting down every scrap of tape in which one of the lads may have farted into a microphone, so let me make some clarification. I used the official discography as stated at, and only up through Let It Be, subsequent releases, while official, were after the group disbanded. I did make one slight variation from their list (which is based solely on UK releases) which was to add Magical Mystery Tour (technically a US only album). Counting the so-called White Album as two, the band released fourteen albums in seven years. Not a bad rate of production. It is also a very interesting arc to follow, in part because it was such a short period of time. So, here's my impressions of that catalogue (in chronological order, of course).

Please, Please, Me & With the Beatles. One of the first things my research clarified was the ordering of these two albums. I had always thought of Meet the Beatles as being the first album. Turns out that while it is the first US release, the title is a bastardization of the second UK release, With the Beatles. The two albums (Please.. & With..) seemed interchangable, and not all that revolutionary. Both are solid Pop-Rock albums strongly rooted in the music of the era. They still have a fairly large pecentage of cover songs on each (both contain six covers and eight originals). One thing that did strike me (if you will forgive the pun) was the power of Ringo's drumming. He is often ridiculed and over-looked because of his later flamboyances, but these early discs show that he truly was the "beat" that helped make the "Beat"les so popular in the beginning.

Next up is the soundtrack to A Hard Day's Night. This is the first album comprised of all original songs, and starts to point towards things ahead. The writing is more sophisticated than on the first two albums. It also shows the Lennon/McCartney team finding their own voice, rather than imitating other artists.

The next two albums, Beatles For Sale, and Help! see a return to more cover material (in fact Sale contains the same 6 to 8 ratio of the first two albums). The originals continue to mature, reflecting the exhaustion of being super stars. And then things get interesting.

Nobody who's going to read this needs me to tell them that Rubber Soul & Revolver are two of the most beautiful Pop-Rock albums of the 1960's. Scratch that, of all time. Again the lads return to all original material, and the songwriting is so solid that one might start to think they could do no wrong.

I had a funny reaction to Sgt. Pepper's. My reaction was, "OK lads, take Pet Sounds off the turntable..." Upon this listening it really struck me just how much they were influenced by that album. Certain songs (Mr. Kite springs to mind) sound as if they snuck into Brian Wilson's studio, stole some master tapes and slapped their own lyrics over the backing tracks. This album also marks a new lyrical direction for the group. Allow me to back-track a bit..

Overall I identify three main lyrical approaches for the Beatles, which evolved over their seven years together. Early on they were writing essentially "Teen" lyrics. Songs like Seventeen & I Wanna Hold Your Hand are prime examples of this. Teenage love in all its glory. As the band matured they began writing more "Adult" lyrics. In My Life, For No One, songs of disillusionment, lost love, the ennui of growing older, of trying to understand your place in the world. The third stage, which begins with Pepper's, and comes to it's ultimate conclusion on Yellow Submarine, are songs that have essentially become "Children's" music. These are the songs we first glom onto when, as youngsters, we discover these funny looking records in our parents music collections, and we hear these funny little songs about walruses and submarines. It should be noted that these eras do overlap, and that by the end they returned primarily to the "Adult" lyrics.

Not much to say about Magical Mystery Tour. Goofy psychedelia. Funny costumes. A few good songs.

The so-called White Album has always been my favorite Beatles album, which is kind of like cheating since it's two discs. The entire scope of what makes the Beatles great is contained on these discs. Four lads gettin' down to some serious business in one of the best recording studios of the times. I'll end my comments here so as to refrain from gushing.

Yellow Submarine. Yawn. Don't bother.

Abbey Road can no doubt be seen as the top of the arc. The band are at their peak as an ensemble, the songwriting is superb, the performances are spot-on, the lyrics are heart-breaking. But you probably already knew that.

And finally, Let It Be, which is advice they should have taken. Had they left us with the previous album as their last they could have ended on a high note. Instead they chose to show us a band coming apart at the seams. One thing the album does illustrate is that had they continued as the Beatles through the seventies they would have really sucked bad. They would have become overblown stadium parodies of themselves (gee kids, can we think of any other sixties bands that fit this description?) While there are some good songs from these sessions, all in all it's a good thing the boys did decide to "Let It Be."

So, after all of that, what do I have to say about the Beatles? For one, they wrote some of the catchiest songs of all time. During the time I spent listening to their catalogue, and for weeks after, I had nothing but Beatles songs stuck in my head. Overall I found the ride fascinating. I highly recommend taking the time to listen to all fourteen studio albums in order. It's an amazing journey that will only take you about ten hours of your time. Hell, take the day off work and do it all in one sitting!

Friday, February 23, 2007

Listening Project(s)

Last July I was looking over my 1200+ cd collection and realized that I owned discs that I didn't even know what they were, discs I had forgotten I had, discs I had never listened to, and discs that simply hadn't been listened to for many years. So, I decided to attempt to listen to them all, in alpha-chronological order. Seven months into the project and I just hit "D." (As I write this I'm listening to Miles Davis ~ Miles Ahead) My current estimate is that this will take me three years to complete. Many interesting things have happened as I've inched my way forward in this project. There's the re-evaluation of artists: "I can't believe I used to like Anthrax!" " Why don't I have more Add N to (X)?" There has also been an educational aspect to the project. I've always been pretty good about keeping chronological order within artist, but this has made me take the time to research and re-organise my collection. And in the process of doing that I've learned numerous things about these musicians. Also, hearing an artist develop over a period of time has been fascinating to me, but more on that point in a bit. The biggest change this listening project has brought about is it has created a whole new way of life (or at least listening) for me.

"What is this guy talking about?" you may ask. Well, I have decided to primarily eliminate what I'm calling "choice based listening." I have decided to set up multiple listening projects, in addition to the main one mentioned above, and virtually all of my listening will be one or the other of these projects. Each project will have its specific guide lines (ex: my car listening is all local, Rhode Island, bands in alpha-chronological order). I will be allowing myself up to five albums per week that are not part of any given project. This creates a space where I can listen to new discs and accommodates those times when I just have to listen to Charles Ives or Sol.Illaquists of Sound. I will also have some degree of "choice" regarding which project I listen to at any given time, but not as to which album is next in its particular queue.

So, here's a run down of my current and proposed projects:

The Main Project: is the one mentioned above. Listening to my entire CD collection in alpha-chronological order. (begun 7/15/06)

Leonard Cohen (completed): This project was done with my roommate Christopher. We listened to all of Cohen's albums in chronological order. I'll post on this later...

Elvis Costello: Again, this project is with Christopher. Listening to Costello's catalogue in chronological order. Currently on Armed Forces.

Local (RI): As mentioned above, all of my car listening is dedicated to local bands from Rhode Island (with some southern Mass included)

Classical/Opera (chronological): This one is a beast that will require some serious research before it can get underway. Christopher has a 400+ disc classical & opera collection that I'm planning to organize chronologically. Gregorian Chants to Pierre Boulez. wOOt! wOOt!

Bob Dylan: I've never liked Mr. Zimmerman, however I've heard tell that some people do. I feel that if I'm going to undertake all of these projects I owe it to Bob to listen to his music, although I must say, I'm not quite sure why.

My Vinyl: Can I really make it though nine Jackie Gleason Presents albums?

iTunes: currently 37.5GB worth of music. Alphabetical by song perhaps?

After all I've said so far, I will simply end with this statement:
This blog is dedicated to chronicling my listening projects. Enjoy!