Sunday, May 1, marked John Atkinson’s 25th anniversary as editor of Stereophilean outstanding and admirable accomplishment, and one increasingly rare in this fast-paced, ever-changing modern world.
John celebrated in typical fashion: He didn’t mention the achievement to anyone, but kept his head down, eyes buried in a great pile of ink-stained proofs, as we raced to ship our July 2011 issue to pre-press. Such effort and diligence should come as no surprise: It was John who transformed Stereophile, once a rough and rogue ’zine abiding by no particular publishing schedule, into the professional, dependable, influential magazine it is today.
I can’t imagine anyone working as hard or as purposefully as my boss, John Atkinson. Each day is an honor. The man sets a high and excellent example: I want to be just like him.
Congratulations, John! Enjoy that beer tonight. Or, uh, that tutti-frutti martini thing, whichever you prefer. After 25 years of service, I guess you’re allowed to drink whatever you want.
Though it was a sort of sanctuary for me as a kid, these days, I almost never listen to the radio. This day, however, has been spent listening to lots of WKCR's Dizzy Gillespie 90th Birthday broadcast.
I have a little space heater that I keep in my kitchen because the kitchen is where it's coldest. The wind whips against our old apartment building and rattles the old windows and sets the sparrows and the starlings fluttering into my thin walls where they've made their nests. If there was ever any insulation in those thin walls, it must be long gone.
Though he, like many others, moved to New York City as soon as he could, Mike Bones is from New Jersey. Bloomfield, or Belleville, or maybe Bayonne. Somewhere around theresomewhere not far from a good view of the Manhattan skyline. You can hear it in his lyrics. Only a boy from New Jersey could write and sing a song called "Today the World Is Worthy of My Loathing."
I also picked this one up at Boomerangs. At the time, I knew nothing about Melanie Safka. Looking at the front cover, I must have immediately thought, hmm… psychedelic hippie music, or something like that. I also noticed that it was released by Buddah Records who I was familiar with for their work with Captain Beefheart and Rodriguez. Turning to the back, I was intrigued by Melanie's liner notes, which pretty much told me that this chick is crazy.
If you can find some of the oldest issues of Stereophile, you'll see that several of the covers hold a short, sweet, often humorous "AUDIO VERITY." These nuggets of hi-fi wisdom were written by Stereophile founder, J. Gordon Holt.
If you were to judge this album just by its cover, you might imagine the music inside to be weird and awesome. At least that's what I imagined. If you're like me, you'd be absolutely desitively right. Dr. John's Babylon is something else.
As I searched through the new arrivals at the Princeton Record Exchange, I kept coming back to this album. I knew nothing about Oscar Brown Jr.had never even heard of the guybut the pain communicated in the album title and cover art intrigued me. Even if it turned out that I didn't like the music, I'd at least get an interesting piece of art. And for just four bucks!
Music has never made me cry. I have cried while listening to music, with something else on my mind. But music, by itself, while powerfully moving, has never brought me to tears. When others mention that a certain piece of music, or a specific musical performance, touches them so deeply that the tears flow from their eyes, I wonder what it is, exactly, that is happening. What are these people feeling? And why haven't I felt it?
Tighten the laces on your Vans and jump on your skateboard, strap on your helmet and hop on your scooter, pump some air into the tires of your cruiser, do whatever you have to do, dudes; Dash, sprint, leap, fly like Olympians to your nearest record shop and lay down the $19.99 for the new Leila Arab album.
Whenever I’m at Tunes in Hoboken, getting my fingers all dirty on the vinyl LPs, I stop and stare at this one album, John Prine’s Sweet Revenge, and I wonder what it’s all about. Prine looks pretty bad-ass there in his convertible, decked out in so much blue denim, dark aviators over his eyes, a cigarette at his lips, the wind in his hair, legs crossed and flung out over the passenger side window like he’s seriously satisfied, like he really doesn’t care.
I resisted at first, but Cold Cave's Love Comes Close became one of my very favorite records of 2009. The album also led me to one of New York City's darkest, spookiest, and most welcoming record shops, Hospital Productions, a fantastic source of underground noise, industrial, and experimental work on CD, LP, and, good-god-almighty, cassette.
Cold Cave's new album, Cherish the Light Years will be available in similarly fine record shops on April 5th, but Matador Records has provided a free stream, so you can listen now.