Post Workout Soup & Celebration Vinyl

The title more or less says it all.

This was the first time in the past month and a half that I was able to complete my mountain bike-swim-mountain bike workout (click HERE) successfully, given that the roads were passable for the first time.  Having said that, that doesn’t mean it was necessarily easy either, what with the stupid easterly wind blowing directly in my face the entire way there.

All in, I accomplished 40k (HERE and HERE) on the bike and another 3250m in the pool over three hours of continuous activity.

That’s not too shabby, right?

Anyway, I’m home now and warming up with some of Kelly’s homemade minestrone soup and this ‘Glass Houses‘  album by Billy Joel.

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This was the first of three Goodwill Hunting albums I found at the Value Village in St. Catharines, Ontario yesterday while shopping for new work clothes.

And, yes I know…but it’s Billy-fucking-Joel!

Why is this significant you ask?

Well, because I absolutely cannot stand Billy Joel.

Sorry, but it’s true, but for $2.00 how can I say ‘No‘?

Especially knowing that the wife would undoubtedly like it.

I know, I’m the Husband of the Year.

The back-to-back success of ‘The Stranger‘ and ‘52nd Street‘  may have brought Billy ample fame and fortune, even a certain amount of self-satisfaction, but it didn’t bring him critical respect, and it didn’t dull his anger.

Poor, poor Billy.

If anything, being classified as a mainstream rocker – a soft rocker – infuriated him, especially since a generation of punks and new wave kids were getting the praise that eluded him.  He didn’t take this lying down – he recorded this album instead.

Well, good for Billy.

Comparatively a harder-rocking album than either of its predecessors, with a distinctly bitter edge, ‘Glass Houses‘  still displays the hallmarks of Billy Joel the pop craftsman and Phil Ramone the world-class hitmaker. Even its hardest songs – the terrifically paranoid ‘Sometimes a Fantasy‘, ‘Sleepin’ With the Television On‘, ‘Close to the Borderline‘, the hit ‘You May Be Right‘ – have bold, direct melodies and clean arrangements, ideal for radio play.

And Lord knows we’ve heard them all about a zillion times ad nauseum.

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Instead of turning out to be a fiery rebuttal to his detractors, the album is a remarkable catalog of contemporary pop styles, from McCartney-esque whimsy (‘Don’t Ask Me Why‘) and arena rock (‘All for Leyna‘) to soft rock (‘C’etait Toi [You Were the One]’) and stylish new wave pop (‘It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me‘, which ironically is closer to new wave pop than rock). That’s not a detriment; that’s the album’s strength and one of the few Billy Joel songs I still enjoy.

It may not be punk – then again, it may be his concept of punk – but ‘Glass Houses‘  is the closest Joel ever got to a pure rock album.

And, okay, I admit…I haven’t vomited yet.

I mean, I’m not doing cartwheels around the living room or anything but, the wife is happy and the soup was good and the present vibe here at the moment is nice so, yeah, it’s okay…

…I guess.

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Core

Today is the day; the day I’m finally making the big stab at reinitiating my favorite workout back into my weekly routine.

First though, it’s Day 34 of the “Core Project” and this self-titled album by W.C. Fields and Mae West.

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This is another album that I know very little about aside from it’s always been in my collection.

Like, always.

I have no idea where it came from, or when I got it.  All I know is that I’ve always had it and there is a good likelihood that I was stoned out of my gourd when I bought it.  Even the Disogs site doesn’t really have a clue which makes this morning’s mat routine kind of exciting as it is mysterious.

In case you didn’t know, W.C. Fields (William Claude Dukenfield) was a popular American Depression Era comedian, actor, juggler and writer.  Fields’ comic persona was a misanthropic and hard-drinking egotist, who remained a sympathetic character despite his snarling contempt for dogs and children.

Mae West on the other hand was an American actress, singer, playwright, screenwriter, comedian, and sex symbol whose entertainment career spanned seven decades.  Known for her light-hearted bawdy double entendres, and breezy sexual independence, West made a name for herself in vaudeville and on the stage in New York City before moving to Hollywood to become a comedian, actress, and writer in the motion picture industry, as well as appearing on radio and television. For her contributions to American cinema, the American Film Institute named Ms. Mae 15th among the greatest female stars of classic American cinema.

And this album brings them together.  Side One is all W.C. with two spoken word vignettes on ‘Temperance‘  and ‘The Day I Drank A Glass of Water‘.  Side Two is all Mae with eight short little ditties accompanied by some nifty Vaudeville jazz piano.  So while I was likely higher than a kite when I bought it, it certainly promised to be a fun and entertaining little time capsule listen of a lost period in comedy…and it was.

Unfortunately, I never actually listened to it back then…you know, being high n’ all. I probably forgot all about it the second I laid eyes on a bag of Skittles.  Anyway, I’m definitely righting that wrong this morning (sans Skittles) over my series of planks, push-ups, squats and v-sits.

And to conclude this post, I will leave you with a particularly insightful and philosophical musing from ‘ol W.C. himself:

“Have you ever been bitten in the stomach by a wild monkey?”

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I know.

Brain…imploding….

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Cauliflower Bites & Socca Pizza

HRH  is away at her father’s, so it’s time for the wifee and I to get our “sexy” on over a dinner of sweet & sour cauliflower bites and socca pizza and this ‘Let’s Get It On’  album by Marvin Gaye.

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Because there is nothing sexier than cauliflower and socca, right?

But I digress…

After brilliantly surveying the social, political, and spiritual landscape with ‘What’s Going On, Marvin Gaye turned to more intimate matters with this album, a record unparalleled in its sheer sensuality and carnal energy.

Always a sexually charged performer, Gaye’s passions reach their boiling point on tracks like the magnificent title hit (a number one smash) and ‘You Sure Love to Ball’; silky and shimmering, the music is seductive in the most literal sense, its fluid grooves so perfectly designed for romance as to border on parody.

With each performance laced with innuendo, each lyric a come-on, and each rhythm throbbing with lust, perhaps no other record has ever achieved the kind of sheer erotic force of ‘Let’s Get It On’, and it remains the blueprint for all of the slow jams to follow decades later – much copied, but never imitated.

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Functional Strength/Core

Now that the hollandaise sauce has begun to leak from my pours, I’m going to slip in my daily core workout (Day 33) as part of this 30 minute functional strength set in the quiet (and leaky) corner of the gym.

And keeping with the dark and weird listen I just had on the treadmill, I’m listening to the awesome ‘Trout Mask Replica‘  album by Captain Beefheart.

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I kind of feeling guilty for listening to this as it has been on HRH‘s “To Find” record list for, well, eons really.   And I can’t blame her either seeing as how this easily one of the most quoteable (albeit strange) albums of all time*.

Just take a gander of some of these gems:

“A squid eating dough in a polyethylene bag is fast and bulbous. Got me?”

And then there’s this:

“Pena
Her little head clinking
Like a barrel of red velvet balls
Full past noise
Treats filled her eyes
Turning them yellow like enamel coated tacks
Soft like butter hard not to pour”

Honestly, this is the quintessential WTF? to end all WTF? albums.

Trout Mask Replica‘ is Beefheart’s masterpiece, a fascinating, stunningly imaginative work that still sounds like little else in the rock & roll canon. My Bible (Mojo, August 1995) ranks it at #28

Given total creative control by producer and friend Frank Zappa, Beefheart and his Magic Band rehearsed the material for this 28-song double album for over a year, wedding minimalistic R&B, blues, and garage rock to free jazz and avant-garde experimentalism.

Atonal, sometimes singsong melodies; jagged, intricately constructed dual-guitar parts; stuttering, complicated rhythmic interaction – all of these elements float out seemingly at random, often without completely interlocking, while Beefheart groans his surrealist poetry in a throaty Howlin’ Wolf growl. The disjointedness is perhaps partly unintentional – reportedly, Beefheart’s refusal to wear headphones while recording his vocals caused him to sing in time with studio reverberations, not the actual backing tracks – but by all accounts, the music and arrangements were carefully scripted by the Captain (aided by John “Drumbo” French), which makes the results even more remarkable.

As one might expect from music so complex and, to many ears, inaccessible, the influence of the album was felt more in spirit than in direct copycatting, as a catalyst rather than a literal musical starting point.  However, its inspiring re-imagining of what was possible in a rock context laid the groundwork for countless future experiments in rock surrealism, especially during the punk/new wave era.

*Sorry kiddo, I downloaded it from YouTube.  We can still totally look for it for our collection!
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Hill Run (4.5k)

It’s official, I’ve turned into a pussy.  I have no reason for not going outside this afternoon to crank out the fartlek intervals.

Soon…

Anyway, today’s plan calls for another stupid 30 minute treadmill hill run – on a bellyful of Lobster Benedict and Apple Pie French Toast courtesy of Mire Poix in St. Catharines, Ontario.

That’s a challenge, right?

My soundtrack today to sweat out all the hollandaise I had with breakfast is the ‘Confusion Is Sex‘  album  by Sonic Youth.

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Abrasive and archaic, theatrical and confrontational, 1983’s ‘Confusion Is Sex‘  marks the opening strides that Sonic Youth made during their long slog through the American underground scene of the ’80s. And yes, this album is underground if anything – it’s lo-fi to the point of tonal drabness, as the instruments seem to ring out in only one tone, that of screechy noise.

Not that I give two shits while my heart is beating like a son-of-a-bitch.

Yet that tone in itself is part of the album’s style, which is one of antithesis. The album isn’t comprised of songs but rather soundscapes, while the instruments are your traditional guitar-bass-drums-vocals lineup but are performed most untraditionally.

Taken as a whole, ‘Confusion Is Sex‘  is a spellbinding listen, especially the first time through. If you’re a bona fide Sonic Youth fan like me, chances are you’ll find it especially spellbinding – the more of the band’s albums you’ve heard, the better. However, if you’re unfamiliar with the band, or a casual fan at most, chances are you’re going to be thoroughly tested – this is not an easy album to enjoy. As inaccessible as it may be, however, this album is a cornerstone of the band’s career, their true opening salvo toward underground heroism, though miles and miles away from such highly regarded albums as ‘Daydream Nation‘ (1988) or ‘Dirty‘ (1992).

Truthfully, this might not have been the best inspiration I could have sought out for today’s hill intervals on the ‘ol dreadmill.  I chose it primarily because a) I like the band, and b) it was the perfect length for a 30 minute workout – full stop.

It was a bit darker and mellower than I might have liked but it is still a kick ass album nonetheless and it did get me through to the end.  Hopefully though, I’m going to get back with the plan of keeping these runs outside next week.

Knock on wood anyway.

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Weights

Now that my —-m worth of paddles n’ shit is done in the pool, it’s time to get my He-man on with this ‘Give‘  album by The Bad Plus.

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This was an album I received in a USB stick music trade with a buddy in San Antonio, Texas.  I had absolutely no prior knowledge of this band before today but, going through his files earlier I figured, ‘fuck it‘…why not?

It’s got a cute astronaut holding a sunflower on the cover.

How bad can it be?

Well, “bad plus” I guess, but I digress…

Falling somewhere between Medeski, Martin & Wood, Ben Folds Five, and the Oscar Peterson Trio, power jazz trio the Bad Plus deliver more idiosyncratic instrumentals on this, their sophomore effort released in 2004.

Featuring bassist Reid Anderson, drummer David King, and pianist Ethan Iverson, the band follow a similar creative path as on their debut, ‘These Are the Vistas‘, by interspersing original compositions with covers of popular rock tunes.

I just stole that from the bands website.

Here the Pixies‘ ‘Velouria‘ is turned into a kind of Sergei Rachmaninov does funk jazz number while Black Sabbath‘s ‘Iron Man‘ sounds something like a Claude Debussy arrangement of ‘In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida‘.

No shit.

Otherwise, the trio evinces free jazz with Ornette Coleman’s ‘Street Woman‘, and does a bombastic impersonation of Vince Guaraldi on the original ‘Layin’ a Strip for the Higher-Self State Line‘.

While obviously talented and often inspired, it is unclear if the Bad Plus are avant-garde enough to appeal to hardcore jazz fans, or pop-oriented enough to grab the attention of rock listeners.

However, fans of quirky, experimental music such as myself may find this worth a listen…and, fortunately, I did.

(Nice choice Cass!)

Albeit this is not my normal He-man fare for the gym, I confess.

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Core

It’s Thursday; meaning more laps, more heavy iron and this Day 32 of the on-going “Core Project” with this ‘Jack Frost‘  album by Mendelson Joe.

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I know, that’s not really a fancy attention grabbing opening but, hey, I’m tired.

That’s all I got today.

Gimme a break.

And not one of these either:

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Anyway, this morning’s mat routine is flavored with a little Old School Canadian blues rock from 1981, recorded at the Grant Avenue Studios and Comfort Sound in nearby Hamilton, Ontario and issued on Boot Records.

Oh, and it was produced by some guy named Dan Lanois.

Could it…???

Nah, couldn’t possibly.

Really, that’s all I got.

I can tell from the album that this is another album that at some point used to be a part of the CFBU collection but has, somehow, been liberated and it features a whole wack of musicians, including The Honolulu Heartbreakers on backing vocals so, okay, that’s pretty cool I guess.

And the front cover art painting is also credited to Joe so, yeah, bully dude.

I figured this would be a decent listen today seeing as how it’s currently -stupid° degrees outside and snowing and, ‘thank Christ!‘  I don’t have to run today.

Unfortunately though, this album is gayer than Rock Hudson sucking off Siegfried & Roy’s white tigers at the Neverland Ranch.  And as it absolutely pains me to label anything Canadiana as part of my Shit List, there is simply no denying the steaming pile of dookie that is this album.

In fact, in a rather interesting ironic twist, the only redeeming track on the entire album is the extremely gay-sounding ‘Huggle and Snuggle‘  that begins Side Two.  That aside, give this album a pass as it’s honestly hard to believe that this is the same dude that was of the awesome McKenna-Mendelson Mainline and the Mainline Bump n’ Grind Review.

In fact, I might even re-liberate this album from my  collection back to the vault at CFBU where it is practically guaranteed to never see the daylight again and justice will be duly served once and for all.

Sorry, Joe.

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