Thursday, November 30, 2006

Where have we been?

To be honest, I have no idea. Thanksgiving and such. Turkey. Yams. Etc.

There will be action on the Cropper again soon.

But for now I leave you with the most wrong-sounding headline of the day:

"Clinton launches child HIV drug deal."

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The Long Goodbye

One of my favorite filmmakers is dead. To be fair, Robert Altman was inconsistent to a fault. The man made wonderful films like Nashville, McCabe & Mrs. Miller (great Leonard Cohen soundtrack), M*A*S*H, etc., but he also put out some stinkers like Dr. T and His Women (just awful) and 3 Women (I'm sorry, but I think it stinks). And then there are the myriad Popeyes and OC & Stiggs of the world, those questionable projects that still retained that bizarre Altman vision--the tripod-anchored, voyeuristic camera peering in on the action, the gazillion characters (the wonderful Secret Honor excepted, of course), the labyrinthine non-plotting, and the vigor with which actors gave it their all in his movies. Even minor trifles like Cookie's Fortune are replete with A-level performances...he must have been a delight to work with. I'm not good at these eulogy-type things, and I'm surely not a film studies-type person, so I will leave you with the trailer to one of Altman's most puzzling and brilliant movies, the lackadaisical film noir (Elliot Gould IS Phillip Marlowe!) The Long Goodbye, a film--much like most of Altman's best work--more fun in the outlying details and wispy idiosyncrasies than in its advancement of traditional plot points or causal agents or rote character development. Nothing screams "noir!" like Phillip Marlowe shopping for cat food. Fantastic:

Friday, November 17, 2006

Outrageous Cherry!

Download: Outrageous Cherry--"Memphis Stereo"

These guys and gals have been in the power-pop mix for quite some time and they continue to impress. Power pop is a funny thing, as I've mentioned before. There are so many great power pop bands out there, and only a few have ever tasted stardom and even then it's usually a fleeting thing. Power pop bands are like an outfit that's never totally in style, but never totally out either. You've got your Supergrass, Superdrag, Teenage Fanclub, Mayflies USA, dBs, Replacements...this list could go on forever. All of these bands were extraordinarily gifted purveyors of hooks, melodies, and airtight song structures. And all of them have gotten this close to some kind of stardom. I think the New Pornographers are probably the biggest power pop band of recent note.

I think I've already written a post similar to this one, but, man, I do love some power pop. And Outrageous Cherry completely delivers with this track. The problem with bands like this is that they make the whole thing sound so effortless when it's really not very easy. If songs this catchy were easy to write, everybody would do it, right? Some bands are just born with these skills and Detroit's Outrageous Cherry is one of them. Let's buck the power-pop trend and make these guys huge, okay? Their new record is Stay Happy.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

45s I used to own #1

Before they were 7"s, they were 45s to me. They were always seven inches, of course, but before I made the Hipster Switch (circa 1994 or 1995), I called them 45s. My parents called them that. Everyone called them that. This 7" business bothers me.

I'm getting off target here.

I used to buy 45s obsessively, and I had some good ones. My dad passed on some great stuff to me in a drab metal box that had sharp corners capable of gouging you pretty good. It was filled with tons of great stuff. It was the early 80s and the Oldies Boom headed our way at full speed. Just the access to this treasured collection of my father's was probably one of the greatest gifts I've ever received. It had "Tequila" and "Wipe Out" in there. Also: the Ventures, "Telstar", Elvis, "Love Me Do", tons of polka (he was from Minnesota after all). My sister and I swung imaginary beersteins along to the polkas, all named The Lichtensteiner Polka or the Essenhaus Polka or some such thing, and hopped around on one leg in a vain attempt to replicate the polka-ing we'd seen at a wedding one time. We lived in Alabama, so there was not a lot of polka to be found.

How did I get onto polka again?

Okay. Back to the 45s. I rarely had money for music because I had a raging Lego/Transformers/GI Joe habit. I didn't have many full-length LPs beyond Thriller and a Culture Club album. 45s just made more sense. They were usually a couple of bucks and you always got some crazy remix on the B-side just beat-heavy enough to allow for practicing of my jittery breakdancing moves. My sister, my neighbor, her sister, and I had a dance troupe of sorts that, thankfully, never practiced in front of my male friends. It was my darkest secret. It was also a lot of fun. I primarily subscribed to the "stomping cockroaches" school of footwork though at the time I would have told you that I was emulating Kevin Bacon.

I bought a lot of 45s to add to my dad's oldies (I have no idea where that box is), so I'm gonna go through some of the ones that I cherished via the magic of YouTube. Keep in mind that every song here was my favorite song ever because I had absolutely no filter. Also, I usually bought stuff that was on sale (hence the Nu-Shooz).

Speaking of Nu-Shooz:

Nu-Shooz--"I Can't Wait"

What in the name of Roxette is going on here? This is an 80s video through and through: a series of random images, colors, and esoterica for the sake of appearing arty or something. At least people in the 80s tried, you know? It's such an easy genre to make fun of, but let's not forget that the vast majority of our videos today are turgid, banal pieces of performance garbage that amount to nothing more than a game of look-at-me-I'm-cool oneupmanship. It's horrible. So let's hear it for Nu-Shooz and their song (and video) "I Can't Wait". I really loved this one and wore the 45 out. I can't remember what the b-side was...probably the dub version of this song. That was big back then. Dub versions. I thought that "dub" meant weird because the versions always had crazy vocals.

Murray Head--"One Night In Bangkok"
This next nugget is just ridiculous and should make you seriously question my taste. I will say that it was written by Bennie and Bjorn of ABBA (huge heroes of mine) on an off-day. I think Tim Rice had something to do with this as well. I bring you Murray Head:

Who was Murray Head? Why did I love this song? This one really mystifies me. I think I like anything with sort of "old-timey" megaphone vocals (you'll see in the next entry). This was from some musical called Chess. I'd link to Wikipedia or something, but I don't have a lot of time right now. Murray Head doesn't really do much in this video or this song, does he? I think "One Night In Bangkok" had a remix or an instrumental version as a b-side, too. I can't remember that one, either. Could it have been worse?

Taco--"Puttin' On The Ritz"

Oh, yes. How about a band called Taco? This thing--basically a novelty hit--was HUGE in second or third grade. We BEGGED our music teacher to let us sing it in class. I even had a cane at home and did a top hat-type dance to...should I be telling this story? Years later, I rented High Noon and became a Gary Cooper fan. It all comes full circle.

Actually, that song is kind of growing on me again. Maybe it's the lightsaber-like cane hypnotizing me.

In the next edition of 45s I Used To Own? Huey Lewis. And the News!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

It Cuts To The Quick!

In addition to finding time to read two whole paragraphs of Spinoza's, Political Treatise, and sending out an invitation to a talk on Ethnic Conflict and Diversionary War, a lot of my day was spent reading this series of posts/articles. As is frequntly the case with things that come about through link-hopping, I read these backwards starting with, Sylvester, which burns, moving on to, Ott, which really resonates with me, and finishing with the Sternbergh piece. I'm particurly interested to hear anyone's thoughts on Ott's post.

Friday, November 10, 2006


aRCHIVE recordings

Any of you 'Cropper readers know anything about this label? They look pretty badassed to me.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The reign of terror is over! you think I meant the Republicans? Yeah, yeah, they suck, too. But in a few months we won't have to endure this anymore:

Thank you, Britney, for teaching us how to love...again.