Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Richard Fariña, Been Down so Long It Looks like Up to Me (1966)

It is the sixties (okay, late fifties, technically, but the atmosphere is pure sixties), and Gnossos Pappadopoulis, studying (sort of) at a thinly-veiled Cornell, wanders about, getting involved with sex and drugs and not really much in the way of rock'n'roll, vaguely searching for some kind of transcendence.
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Friday, August 02, 2013

Alphaville Update

So a while back I wrote about how awesome German synthpop band Alphaville's first album, Forever Young, is.  And it is!  I think I actually like it more than when I wrote that.  It sounds like what I imagine heroin must feel like.

However, here's a hard truth: when I castigated a particular music guide for writing the band off, I was, I'm afraid, being too harsh, because every other Alphaville album sucks.  Hard.  It's just bizarre.  Their debut consists of fantastic, indelible pop songs, whereas everything else they've done is just…really, really boring.  I mean, I'll grant that there are a few songs I don't totally hate, but certainly none I love; none of them have any of the great hooks and overheated emotion that make Forever Young so memorable.  Sure, a lot of people rate their later work highly, but a lot of people are kind of, I don't know, dumb?  Actually, though if you look at their discography, you can see that public sentiment is on my side for once.  Forever Young was a substantial hit, the follow-up, the boring Afternoons in Utopia was, presumably based on expectations, a somewhat reasonable hit; after that--not much.  The same goes for their singles.  And it sucks, because I really want them to have done a whole bunch for Forever-Young-caliber albums.  But, alas, 'twas not to be.

Booth Tarkington, Seventeen

Nobody thinks much about Booth Tarkington these days, but in the first half of the twentieth century, he was Kind Of A Big Deal.  He won two Pulitzer Prizes (one of only three novelists to do so, the other two being Faulkner and Updike), and his most well-known novel, The Magnificent Ambersons, was made into a movie by no less a personage than Orson Welles.  
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