Monday, January 29, 2007

Wilco - Sky Blue Sky

The latest word from the Wilco fanbase is that the new album will be called Sky Blue Sky and will be released on May 15. This tidbit came from none other than Jeff Tweedy himself at a solo show in Nashville a few days ago. It was confirmed only moments ago at Wilco HQ. The new Wilco record is my most anticipated release of 2007, judging from the strong new material I heard live in 2006. Let's hope things are on schedule. In the meantime, here's Let's Not Get Carried Away from 11-25-06, complete with drum solo!


Friday, January 26, 2007

The Gunslinger Born

I realized I’ve been silent for a little while here, which I attribute to a nagging virus that has sapped my energy, and just general January malaise. I’ve also realized that this blog is now one year old, so I’m motivated to post something today. I expected this blog to reveal something about myself, and as I look back at the 70+ posts in the last year, it’s quite obvious that what I really like to write about is music. There has been a scattering of posts on architecture (my day job), a bit of social and arts commentary, but mostly Wild Mercury has evolved into yet another audioblog. For those of you that know me personally, this is no surprise. However, there are thousands of audioblogs out there, many of which do a much better job at covering new artists, offering reviews, and supplying fresh live concert recordings. It’s a lot of work to stay current and original, and I applaud site likes Stereogum and Fluxblog that have managed to infiltrate (and influence) the mainstream media. While I don’t expect to ever reach the levels of those sites, I hope to raise the bar this year on content and quantity.

I also hope to introduce a few more topics to mix things up a bit. I’m a pop culture junkie, which brings me to the purpose of today’s post. I’m not ashamed to admit that I love comic books. I have more than 1,000, many of which are relics of my youth and fairly valuable. I also have a number of newer titles, and these would surprise anyone that hasn’t looked at a comic book in the last 30 years. In the late 80’s and 90’s the comic industry nearly died, and budget cuts plunged the writing and artwork to embarrassingly poor quality. Today’s comics are very well done with a vast selection of themes, many of them definitely not for kids. The writing and storylines are mature, and the artwork is often astounding. Comics and the long form graphic novel are slowly being accepted as legitimate literary and artistic artforms.

What has got me excited for 2007 is the February release of The Gunslinger Born by Marvel Comics, based on Stephen King’s extraordinary seven volume epic The Dark Tower. If you don’t know of the Dark Tower, trying to explain it here would be like trying to summarize the history of Western Civilization on a Post-It note. Suffice it to say that it’s a hybrid of Tolkien, spaghetti Western and science fiction, through the mind of King’s boundless imagination and supreme storytelling (Ok, I admit to being a King junkie, too). Go here for further information. If you’re at all intrigued, pick up a copy of Volume I - The Gunslinger and dive in. King started writing the Dark Tower in 1970 and didn’t finish Volume VII until 2004. There are other worlds than these, and this epic story will take you to more than a few.

Go here for more information on the comic
Or here

And finally, Velcro Fly by ZZ Top. Why, you ask? If you’re a Dark Tower reader you know how this song figures into the story. If not, start reading!


Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Blue, Blue 'lectric Blue

Time for a diversion as I continue to explore the basic colors, their symbolism and provide an associated playlist using the excellent web site Finetune. Previously, I have explored red and yellow. This time around, it’s blue. I believe that most people spend very little time really thinking about color, except maybe when painting a room, buying a car or some clothing. In reality, color has a profound impact on our moods, attitudes and perceptions. For some interesting information, visit the Color Matters web site, and take the Color Survey to heighten your awareness.

"Melancholy Woman", 1902, Pablo Picasso, from his 'Blue Period"(1901-04)

Some true blue facts:

Peaceful, tranquil blue causes the body to produce calming chemicals, so it is often used in bedrooms. Blue can also lower the pulse rate and body temperature. Of course, blue is also associated with sadness and depression.

Fashion consultants recommend wearing blue to job interviews because it symbolizes loyalty. In marketing, many corporate logos use blue to signify they are trustworthy, stable, pure and healing. Think about the extensive use of blue in health care advertising.

Blue conveys importance and confidence, hence the blue power suit of the corporate world and the blue uniforms of police officers. Long considered a corporate color, blue, especially darker blue, is associated with intelligence, stability and conservatism.

Research has shown that people are more productive in blue rooms, and work environments are often in blue tones. Studies show weightlifters are able to handle heavier weights in blue gyms.

Blue is described as a favorite color by many people and is the color most preferred by men. Women tend to buy blue clothing for men because they believe men prefer it.

Blue is one of the least appetizing colors. Some weight loss plans even recommend eating your food off of a blue plate. Blue rarely occurs naturally in food aside from blueberries and some plums. Humans are geared to avoid foods that are poisonous and blue coloring in food is often a sign of spoilage or poison.

So there you have it. In terms of this playlist, every song includes the word blue in the title. I’ve made a conscious effort not to include ‘Blues’, as that would have been way too easy.


Wednesday, January 10, 2007

The 45 is 58

A little known historical fact for today - The 45 rpm vinyl record was introduced by RCA Victor on this day in 1949. I'm surrounded by many people each day that are too young to remember vinyl LPs, let along the good old days when we had to insert the little yellow plastic insert to hear our hit singles, and then actually get up and flip the disc at the turntable every 2-1/2 minutes. Now I can strap a small device to my arm and have 7,500 songs at my fingertips while I hit the cardio machine. I still remember the first few 45s I bought (at K-Mart on Western Avenue in Chicago Heights), and I still have them.

6. Superstition - Stevie Wonder
5. Cisco Kid - War
4. Your Mama Don't Dance - Loggins & Messina
3. Crocodile Rock - Elton John
2. Right Place, Wrong Time - Dr. John
1. Rockin' Pneumonia (and the Boogie Woogie Flu) - Johnny Rivers

Well, I haven't digitized my vinyl yet, so in lieu of the audio, enjoy this video blast from the past.


Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Celebration Day

Greetings and Happy New Year to all. After a little R&R to start off the New Year, it’s back to business here at Wild Mercury. In the next few weeks I’ll be reformatting the site and exploring some different content, but for now let’s stick to the subject at hand, namely a Celebration Day for the one and only Jimmy Page, who turns 63 today. When I was in high school, there were three basic religions, those that worshipped The Who, The Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin. Very few crossed the lines, and those that did were pretty quiet about it. The Zeppelin fans were labeled as burnouts, and generally shunned by the Who fanatics, who tended to be the athletes and the brains (not nerds, mind you). I don’t really remember the Stones camp clearly. I was firmly in awe of the Who, but I confess a pretty strong affinity for Zeppelin that continues to this day. Although Page may not have the fluidity of Clapton or the rhythmic skills of Townshend and Richards, he is the undisputed God of the Riff. Anyone that noodles around on the guitar can likely play a handful of Page’s legendary riffs. His acoustic skills, experimental tunings and exuberant live playing are truly awe-inspiring. Page has been criticized for some sloppy playing in terms of technical playing, but when I listen to the live recordings I hear a guitarist determined to never play something the same way twice. And when he’s hitting on all cylinders, no one can touch him.

For all of the legendary rock riffs, smoking solos and funky grooves in the Zep canon, in my book one of Page’s high water marks is The Rain Song. An acoustic tour-de-force of odd tuning and dexterous playing, The Rain Song is one of my favorites. Here’s a live version, plus the Song Remains the Same, from May 25, 1975 at the Earls Court Arena, when the mighty Zeppelin was at their peak. Enjoy. Happy Birthday, Jimmy.



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