Sunday, January 12, 2003

For the first time in ages, I placed an order with Columbia House, which I received yesterday. What I got was the latest from the Indigo Girls, titled Become You, This Is Where I Belong: The Songs of Ray Davies and the Kinks, and Lou Reed's Berlin.

I've been an admirer of the Girls' music for many years now, beginning with their great Rites of Passage album, where they learned to garnish their earnest folk with Irish instruments, electric guitar, strings, and so on. Added a few more colors to their palette, if you will, and each subsequent release has been outstanding.

The Kinks tribute features many muscians I like, such as Ron Sexsmith, Fountains of Wayne, and Matthew Sweet, along with a couple of friends of mine, Nashville musicians Tommy Womack and Bill Lloyd, who chip in with a great collaborative effort on one of my favorite Kinks tunes, "Picture Book". Name dropper? Me? Plus, it has humorous liner notes written by Mr. Davies himself.

Lou's Berlin album, about drugs, dysfunctional relationships, S & M and dementia in that fabled city, is one that I came to love (as much as you can love it) back in the 70s. It's not a happy fun record by any means, but it's gripping and often lovely in places, and I recommend it to anyone not on lithium. Since album cover design and packaging are a passion of mine, I must note that the CD release has replaced the original, distinctive and quite beautiful in its own way handwritten script that was used on the LP for all the type including lyrics, credits, and so on with a script-looking font that is intended to simulate handwriting, for better readability, I assume. Problem is, the font is still too small and is very hard to read, especially in the case of the inside booklet notes. So what was the point? The artificial font is nowhere nearly as good looking as the original handwriting, and is no more readable.

Oh well, that's me in a nutshell. ("How did I get in this nutshell? It's so cramped and small here in this nutshell!") There's just no pleasing me sometimes.

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