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Review "Chinese Democracy" for Soundcheck

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Chinese DemocracyFifteen years. Thirteen million dollars. One Axl Rose. This Sunday, the once-mythical Guns ‘n’ Roses album “Chinese Democracy” will finally see the light of day. (Well, the official version. It leaked like an antique dinghy.)

But was it worth ...

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Putting the "i" in Marching Band

Thursday, November 20, 2008

University of Minnesota Marching BandMy own experience with marching bands is pretty negligible – see my blog from Nov. 6 for the sad tale. Growing up in New York City, as the rest of the country likes ...

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CD Picks of the Week

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Clash, "Live At Shea Stadium" (Sony)

The date was October 13, 1982. It was a rainy night at Shea Stadium, but 50,000 people turned out early for the concert by The Who. The reason they came out early, in the rain, was to hear the opening act. The Clash ...

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A Happy Thought: What's your favorite song about death?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I don’t remember when I first heard Frank Sinatra’s 1965 song "It Was A Very Good Year," mainly because that was grown-up music -- something for old people like my parents, who must’ve been well into their thirties, to listen to. I do remember when I first really listened ...

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Why Hate on iTunes?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Poor iTunes. Well, not literally poor… iTunes has become the world’s largest music retailer, selling 50 gazillion songs and bringing in a pile of money a mile high. But everyone seems to hate iTunes. They hate the DRM, or Digital Rights Management, that restricts the devices you can play your ...

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The White Album

Monday, November 17, 2008

White Album cover by Richard HamiltonThe Beatles “White Album” is a mess. Whether it’s a glorious mess or a tedious scavenger hunt for good songs among two LPs worth of filler depends on your point of ...

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Quincy and Henry: What's Next?

Friday, November 14, 2008

quincy_grammys.jpg

The term 'Renaissance man' gets thrown around a little too easily these days. If you can sing and you can act, you’re proclaimed a Renaissance man (usually by writers who can do neither). Quincy Jones, though, comes close. One of music’s great arrangers ...

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Naming the 500 best songs of the past 30 years

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Compiling any sort of “best of” list is a provocative thing to do. Yes, on one level all you’re doing is saying, hey, I like these songs, or these athletes, or whatever the list is about. But on a deeper level, you’re putting the list out there so other people ...

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Gospel's Message and Medium

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Members of Mt. Zion Baptist, Thankful Baptist, and First Baptist Church

The Pulitzer Prize-winning music critic Justin Davidson wrote a review a few years back about the opera “St. Francis of Assisi,” by the ...

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The remarkable story of "Lili Marlene"

Monday, November 10, 2008

I think “Lili Marlene” is a great example of how a song can be appreciated by people for things that were never intended by its author. Liel Liebovitz and Matthew Miller have told the gripping story of how the song spanned two World Wars, and became a kind of unofficial ...

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For Those About to Chart...

Friday, November 07, 2008

AC/DC

Today’s another installment in our occasional series we call “Who’s On Top – And Who Should Be.” It’s the second part of the title, of course, that’s more interesting. Yeah, AC/DC’s second week at #1 is kind of interesting, if only because of ...

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Trumpets Are From Mars...

Thursday, November 06, 2008

trumpet.jpgWhen I was a kid, around 8 or 9 years old, someone in my neighborhood in Queens tried to form a marching band, recruiting kids from Richmond Hill and Woodhaven to play one of three sets of instruments: there would be, ...

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Leaders in the Arts

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

microphone.jpgAfter the euphoria of the night before, many Americans woke up this morning with a) a hangover and b) the sobering realization of the enormity of the problems facing our new president. Obama has seemed clear-eyed about the challenges ahead, but he ...

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Democracy Songs

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Soundcheck asked our Election Day guests to compile a list of three songs that somehow capture the spirit of democracy. Here's the list submitted by Deborah Evans Price, who covers Christian, country, bluegrass and rock music for Billboard magazine.

Don Henley, "A Month of Sundays" [no video, but read ...

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Democracy Songs

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Soundcheck asked our Election Day guests to compile a list of three songs that somehow capture the spirit of Democracy. Here's the list submitted by Daphne Brooks, associate professor of English and African American studies at Princeton University.

Nina Simone, "I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be ...

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Democracy in Musical Action

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Democracy seems such a basic part of our culture as Americans that it comes as a shock to find that it’s actually quite hard to define. Almost every communist or socialist dictatorship used the word as part of their country’s official name: the German Democratic Republic wasn’t democratic West Germany, ...

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What's a Folk Song? You Tell Me.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Moses Asch at the Folkways office in New York, date not known.

Folkways Records did many things, but chief among them was proving that Big Bill Broonzy was right: “They’re all ...

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What's your favorite topical song?

Friday, October 31, 2008

When I was in high school, I found a record by a comedian I’d never heard of – someone who was apparently big in the 50s – named Stan Freberg. Even though I didn’t get all the references to what were apparently pop culture figures and phenomena of the an ...

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Tra La La Blip

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Annie of Tra La La Blip collectiveI’m betting you’ve never heard of Tra La La Blip. Neither did I, until their founder emailed us yesterday. This rural Australian collective makes electronic pop; and all of ...

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Super Fans

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A Fusion of Fandom: the Parrothead Van

I’ve been thinking about this whole super fan thing. I like a lot of artists and bands – some I like a real lot. But I would never consider myself a ...

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