Saturday, September 27, 2008
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Gore Vidal - Creation - This is a re-read. The first time I read it I was half my age. I'm glad I picked this up again because this edition contains some chapters that were omitted in the first printing. And also after many years I understand the book better. I enjoyed reading it as much as I did the first time around.
This is history as told by Cyrus Spitama the grandson of the prophet Zoroaster. He's blind now and is dictating his life story to his nephew. He tells us about his childhood growing up in the courts of the great kind of Persia, Darius. He's close to his heir Xerxes. He's the guy that the Spartans fought during that battle of 300. Cyrus has an interesting life as he heads out to India, meets up with the Buddha and then to Cathay (China) who then meets up with Confucius. It's a battle of beliefs and culture. Lots of war, and court drama. You'll want to read it. I recommend.
Norman F. Cantor - Antiquity- It's OK. Gives you the basic knowledge you need to know on the topic. Egypt, Greece and Rome. But reviewers say there are many errors concerning dates and other things, so I wouldn't take it word for word. I understand Herodotus was wrong on many accounts as well.
Justin Pollard and Howard Reid - The Rise and Fall of Alexandria - In the end belief wins over ideas. It still echoes in today's world. Alexandria was the birthplace for all learning. The brightest minds came to this place and learned and thought mathematics, astronomy, medicine, philosophy and other sciences. Here is where Eratosthenes measured the circumference of the earth by using just a couple of sticks and shadows, using his knowledge of trigonometry - and he wasn't too far off in his calculations. Just one of many discoveries.
Alexandria had a huge library of books. Only a few have survived. Who knows what other brilliance lied in those books which are now lost forever. In the end, religions fought over each other and books were destroyed because most were considered to be the work of pagans. Hypatia, who thought philosophy and science was dragged out into the public by Christians and torn to pieces. It's a sad story. Well worth the read.
Friday, September 12, 2008
Tuesday, September 09, 2008
There were some artists who were very well known for using only synthesizers and drum machines as their only instruments. And some wanted to get away from that. One of them was The Human League. Though Hysteria was recorded using a lot of synths and drum machines, they did incorporate guitars and live bass for the first time. It was an unexpected surprise to me. Remember the days when you had to buy the album to know what it sounded like?
So last weekend I put on my headphones, lied down and listened to Hysteria all the way through and was really enjoying it. Had 24 years already gone by since the first time I listened to this? That in itself saddened me but at the same time remembered how much happiness it brought me when buying albums those days were so much more pleasurable and they were never so discarded too quickly. We listened to our albums over and over. Some of us made tapes of them so that the vinyl wouldn't be too used up or scratched.
Hysteria didn't do too well. It kinda bombed. But for me, it's one of my favorites alongside Dare. The album was a gate fold. See that's another thing that has gone out - The gate fold album.
The first track, I'm Coming Back is one of the better songs on the album, it hooks you in and want to hear more. The guitars come in during the chorus. I think I had to do a double take on this when I first heard and said to myself "wha...?"
The second track is one I've heard before called I Love You Too Much. If you hunted down Human League albums like I did, then maybe you came across the "Fascination EP" which I found much later on that it was erroneously released. It included a version of I Love You Too Much which I've been trying to find since the beginning age of the CD and have not found it yet. I liked that version better. It was faster, more synthier and louder. Gone, gone, gone... someone find it for me!
Then came Rock Me Again (and again) and I don't remember appreciating this at first listen. It was after a few more listens that it sunk in and got into this part of The League that would take them into that worldwide success of Crash.
Louise - Ah Louise. It's like their version of Soft Cell's Say Hello, Wave Goodbye. I bought the 12" single of this and it came with a lovely poster and a remix of The Sign which I prefered. But now I have to re-buy the Hysteria CD to get this extra track. It never ends. Louise had a great bass track. I listened to this track quite a bit and it was included in many a mixed tape.
The Lebanon - Possibly the only track that Hysteria is known for. I don't know how popular this song became but the radio stations did play this for a while. It had a very smart bass line and lots of guitars. Also, the only pop song ever written about Lebanon, a big plus for me.
Betrayed - This song sounded like it could have been a part of Dare. Good synths, non-dance track. I liked this song a lot.
The Sign - Good pop song and even better in the remix as I mentioned before. Everything will be fine... I saw the sign. Yep.
So Hurt, was O.K. While I was listening to this last weekend, I remembered this not being a favorite. But hearing it again, I was able to go through it with a smile only for nostalgia reasons.
Life On Your Own - Another single. This song I really loved. Loved the synth bass especially towards the end.
Don't You Know I Want You - Is this the sequel to Don't You Want Me? It's a great exit and sums up the album and you can hear a little of Crash in here - a prequel to what's to come from The Human League.
I can't find this in today's pop music. Perhaps it's age and maybe the mirror ball has stopped turning for me. Sometimes an album comes my way and I'll exclaim "this is it!" But it fizzles out too quick. I have blogger friends who write a lot about today's pop music and see how excited they are with some of today's releases. I'm jealous. I don't know what's happened to me these days but I don't find it relative to my life anymore or perhaps it's some sort of phase. I think maybe Goldfrapp has been the best out of them all. My favorite bands still release new albums today, but they don't bring me the same excitement and pleasure they did in their previous efforts. It does excite me in the beginning but then.... whatever. I hear that Grace Jones is about to release something new and I've heard one of the new songs. That excites me, but let's see what happens. Also, Depeche Mode is in the studio for another release. So I'll hope for the best.
What was your definitive 1984 release? For me, it was Depeche Mode's Some Great Reward. Sampling in the mainstream. That album was a goldmine and out shined pretty much everything else I was listening to. Sadly, 1984 was also the last time Visage produced an album and even sadder was that the album was not that good. Beat Boy will only be remembered as the album that gave us the title track and Love Glove.
Sunday, September 07, 2008
"If it's the son of Arimmas you mean, he's here."
Charidas, how is it down there?
What of Return?
We're done for, then.
"I've given you the truth. If you prefer a pleasantry, beef's a penny a pound in Hades."
- Callimachus of Cyrene