Tuesday, December 27, 2005

The Best of Hudsonland

This time of year, everybody – and I mean everybody – runs lists of the best and worst of the year. Some of it is useful, such as the magazine lists highlighting music, movies, and books, but the majority of this stuff exists for no other reason than to fill time.
As I’m a follower and not a leader, I’m here today with my own list. But which category do I fall into? Am I just filling time or is there a real reason for the five minutes of everybody’s time that I’m stealing?
I’d say it’s a little of both. In some respects, I just don’t have the energy to come up with a victim for this week. Yet I probably spent more time coming researching the past twelve months of “Get Out of Town” than I do for any of my weekly rants.
If you haven’t figured it out, yet, I’m here today to present the Top 5 Get Out of Towns of 2005. If I had all the time and space in the world, I’d reprint (or re-read for those of you tuning into the radio) my original rants. Instead, I’ll just give the Reader’s Digest version of my charges against these victims.
5. The local media. I’m sure most of you think I just mean the fine folks at KELO, but in reality they’re all equal offenders. KELO is just the big fish of the very small pond. They all do neighborhood reaction stories; they all just wouldn’t let the Roosevelt bus incident die; and they all go overboard with their weather coverage (is a ten day forecast really an advantage?). KELO earns the majority of my bile, however, for their overuse of the term KELO-Land, particularly when they described a dead member of the military as a “KELO-Land soldier”.
But let’s not forget our daily paper. They also have a lot to answer for, from minor annoyances such as the Link, City Style, and the seemingly million other mini-publications they insert in their publication. (In fact, sometime in the near future I have a tale about how they attempted to illegally monopolize the distribution points currently used by independent publications.) Their worst effort of the year was their poorly conceived Best of Sioux Falls edition, which resulted in a paltry 200 ballots – the majority of them filled out by the employees of one local restaurant that somehow won almost every category.
4. De Knudson. People, please never make the mistake of electing your grandmother to a political post. She’s been nothing but an apologist for Mayor Munson, even turning a press conference set up to explain his actions on the Phillips to the Falls cost overruns into a party to celebrate her hero. I guess she’s the Harriet Myers of our city government.
Later in the year, she again embarrassed herself by helping create the pseudo-controversy concerning the Ultimate Fighting events that had been held in this city for close to a decade without any problems. What a sight it was to see her and Vernon Brown sitting in the front row at the Sidewinder Bar on North Cliff Avenue.
3. Sioux Falls School Board, including Superintendent Pam Homan. While it’s never been one of the most pleasant political posts since there’s no way for any school system to please everybody, this has been a horrible year for our current school board. First there was the Roosevelt bus incident, and the “gotcha” mentality of our local media in covering not only what actually happened but the consequences to both the students and the staff who was supposed to be supervising the late night trip from Rapid City.
Then we had another created controversy concerning the middle school sex education program. Religious fanatics who would never be happy unless there was NO sex education pounced on the unused portion of the materials and monopolized the process to get their way. The school board did nothing but bend over and take it in one of the ways described in one of the offending chapters.
Yet we’re still not done. When Pam Homan was hired as superintendent she promised to move into our city. It was part of her contract but as of yet she has failed to do this because of her horses. As if this wasn’t enough bad publicity, just days after the sex ed controversy, and weeks after the Roosevelt fiasco, she made headlines again for her plans to hold school board hearings under closed doors. Surely somebody should have told her to maybe stay out of the spotlight for a few days.
2. Mayor Munson and his cronies. I know, he’s a really nice guy. Maybe nice guys shouldn’t have high positions, especially when he lets his cronies run the show. I’m not going to go through everything this man has put our city through as it’s all been documented. But it’s clear that he’s in way over his head, particularly after his last Argus Leader interview where he stammered through 20 questions without really answering a single one. Dave, maybe you should forget about running for reelection. After all, your fundraiser two weeks ago that was supposed to attract over 200 people struggled to get 40. Shouldn’t that be a clue?
1. Dan Nelson. For a short time, it appeared that this infamous lemon dealer’s financial and legal problem may extend to our state’s golden boy Senator. Despite the best efforts of a handful of bloggers, Nelson’s “best friend” escaped relatively unscathed but I don’t think we’ll be seeing Nelson’s smiling face in any half hour infomercial in the near future…unless he’s borrowing some cash for “whatever”.
I’m sort of the most proud of this choice because in some regards I actually broke this story. Just a few months before he made headlines, I told the story of a young woman who had to endure weeks of broken promises, unpaid loans, and plenty of lies. Although I didn’t name the person in question, I recently was informed that Nelson and his cohorts figured out her identity and gave her some more undeserved grief.
There you have it – five people that should pack their bags and get the hell out of Dodge. Maybe Nelson could supply them…but then again, they’d probably only make it to Brandon.
Before I sign off, however, I must talk about this week’s poll. This week’s Hudsonland poll consists of these five people and a handful of others. I want to know who my readers think should hit the road. Polls close next Tuesday at 7 p.m., and I’ll announce the results the next morning.

Last Week's Poll Results

Who is Hudsonland's Hottest TV Reporter?

Wavy (KSFY) 21% 32
Shannon Stevens (KSFY) 17% 26
Stacy Steinhagen (KDLT) 12% 18
Annie Chicoine (KDLT) 10% 15
Jenn Dombrowski (KDLT) 7% 11
Meagan Dorsch (KSFY) 6% 10
Jessica Hopkins (KELO) 6% 10
Brittany Benner (KSFY) 5% 8
Other 4% 6
Katie Janssen (KELO) 3% 5
Matt Belanger (KELO) 3% 4
Kelli Grant (KELO) 3% 4
Nancy Naeve (KSFY) 2% 3
Jodi Schwann (KELO) 2% 3
Anna Peters (KELO) 1% 1
Angel Albert (KSFY) 0% 0

By Station:

KSFY - 47 (Excluding Wavy)
KDLT - 44
KELO - 27

This Week's Poll







Which of Hudson's 2005 Victims Should "Get Out of Town"?
De Knudson
KELO-Land
Dan Nelson
Dave Munson
Pat O'Brien
County Courthouse Computers
Argus Leader "Best of Sioux Falls" Issue
Local News Neighborhood Reaction Stories
Karaoke
Pam Homan
Sioux Falls School Board
Roosevelt Bus Overreactors
Sioux Falls Canaries
Dave Munson's Cronies
Anne Hajek
Out-of-town Drivers
Polictical Sheep


  

Free polls from Pollhost.com

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Merry Christmas!!!


My niece Aliyah with her mixed-race pregnant Barbies. "My daddy isn't as good looking as him."

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Hudson's Letter to Santa

Dear Santa,
I know I haven’t been the greatest guy in the world this year, so once again I’m going to try to make up for my bad deeds with some suggestions for gifts for other people. Hopefully, by providing you with this list will cause you to rethink your opinion of me, and you’ll finally deliver Jenna Jameson under my tree this weekend.
Let’s start with our beleaguered Mayor. Previously, I believe that I pleaded with you to give him a special edition of the Sims computer game – Sims Sioux Falls. Think of the fun he would have and the laughs it would produce for the rest of the family. He could try to blow up buildings without the embarrassment of a 12-camera crew when it fails to fall. He could put up unnecessary buildings all across the city without any worries of budgets, time constraints, or public votes.
But Santa, I think it’s too late for this gift. He’ll be out of the game in just a few months, so we don’t have to worry about him much longer. Maybe the best gift you could give him would be a resignation letter. Just write it for him, forge his name on it, and hand it in to Argus head honcho Randall Beck. Then this simple gift will take care of two people as it will give Beck weeks of whimsical Sunday morning columns.
Santa, you also must give the poor people at Dykon Explosive Demolition an extra special gift for providing us with such great entertainment last month. In my opinion, the perfect gift would be a box set of Roadrunner cartoons. That way they could study the great work of Wily Coyote and his dealings with the Acme Explosives Company. They might learn a thing or two.
Former KELO reporter turned City Councilman Vernon Brown also deserves a gift this year. After years of living what appeared to be an asexual, Morrissey-ish lifestyle, he’s suddenly grown some testicles and actually criticized not only the Mayor but his staff. To reward him for this drastic change, and as possibly a public service to his constituents, a subscription to Hustler, Gallery, or Barely Legal may be just what he needs to lighten his new load. Or should I say loads?
Another person you should visit is Dan Nelson. Ok, Santa, I know there’s two Dan Nelsons in town. I’m not talking about the obnoxious twit that somehow managed to turn an entire city against the Rec Center. No, it’s the lemon dealer that deserves to have his spirits lifted. Since he’s now in the same financial situation as his former customers, I’d say the perfect gift would be a vehicle of some sorts. Maybe one of those old Pinto’s from the 70’s…with an oil-leaking engine, an 8-track with a Skynyrd tape permanently stuck, and a 400% fully-garnished loan.
Moving on to the media - since KDLT doesn’t have much to begin with, I’m sure they could use something special. Because nobody even really knows they exist, why don’t you cut through the federal yellow tape and have them officially declared as participants in the witness protection program? Then they could possibly get a grant and these faceless, nameless, fine folks can actually afford to live…or at least their bosses could invest in some lighting.
While we’re talking news, you should probably give my friends at KELO some presents. Santa, I’ve been so mean to them this year. Sure, they deserve it but I’d sleep a lot better at night if you could provide them one night of joy. So here’s some ideas – a Lite Bright for every weather practitioner so they can create pretty designs for those stormy nights of at least a trace of rain or snow. How about a cross country road trip for Matt Belanger and the Rapid City Gay-tive American? What a great way to bring East and West River together!
I’ll bet that Sgt.-at-Arms Don Jorgenson would love a set of GI Joe’s so he can plot the KELO-Land Revolutionary War. I realize that he’d first attack Hudsonland but I’ve been honing my skills with my son’s Call of Duty games. It would be a helluva fight!
There you have it, Santa. Some fine gift ideas for some not-so-fine people. For everybody else, load them up with everything they ask for. Please pay particular attention to those poor children whose baby-daddy’s have contributed nothing in child support. They shouldn’t suffer because their mama’s canoodled with a moron.
So Santa, do I deserve a naked porn star under my tree? I certainly think so.

The Results of Last Week's Poll

Who is your least favorite local politician?

John Thune 30%
Dave Munson 21%
Rick Knobe 9%
Kermit Staggers 9%
Darrin Smith 7%
Tim Johnson 7%
Pam Homan 7%
Vernon Brown 2%
Stephanie Herseth 2%
Mike Rounds 2%
De Knudson 2%
Ann Hajek 0%
James Zweep 0%
Robert Kolbe 0%
Carol Twedt 0%
Andy Howes 0%

This Week's Poll!!!







Who is Hudsonland's Hottest TV Reporter?
Stacy Steinhagen (KDLT)
Meagan Dorsch (KSFY)
Katie Janssen (KELO)
Annie Chicoine (KDLT)
Shannon Stevens (KSFY)
Jessica Hopkins (KELO)
Jenn Dombrowski (KDLT)
Brittany Benner (KSFY)
Kelli Grant (KELO)
Angel Albert (KSFY)
Anna Peters (KELO)
Nancy Naeve (KSFY)
Jodi Schwann (KELO)
Matt Belanger (KELO)
Wavy (KSFY)
Other


  

Free polls from Pollhost.com

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Hudson's Best of 2005

Soundtrack available upon request.


2005 will go down in my personal history as the year a tiny white object changed my life.
Yes, I’m talking about the Ipod. Jenna the Ipod, to be exact. Initially, I didn’t think it was necessary. After all, besides the compilation discs I made at least once a month, my vehicle is equipped with a tape deck and satellite radio. Just how many toys do I need?
One more, I guess. Luckily (I guess), the arrival of my Ipod coincided with a bout of pneumonia so I spent a better part of a week copying a good percentage of my new toy with tracks from my library. Ten months later, Jenna now holds over 9,800 songs.
Jenna has now completely changed the way I listen to music. Generally speaking, she’s always in shuffle mode, generally predicting just what I need (not just want) to hear at any given moment. I became reacquainted with forgotten friends in my record collection, from the one-hit wonders on the Nuggets boxes to album tracks of the Kinks, Cure, Clash, R.E.M., and many, many others.
Yet there are some pitfalls with the reemergence of the past. Try as I might, the new albums that I was still purchasing were now just a super small percentage of the tracks available at any given moment. I’d pop a new disc in once or twice and then I’d pray that Jenna would select them for me in the future. Obviously, this rarely occurred.
I fixed this problem a few weeks ago with the discovery of the “smart” playlist. Smart playlists allow one to come up with parameters for a constantly-updating selection of tunes. First I set one up with just 2005 tracks (2489 at last count) and just a few weeks ago came a new one that consisted of just songs added to the Ipod in the last 15 days.
Needless to say, I had more trouble coming up with this list than in previous years. It didn’t help that while there was a ton of great albums that came out during the year (enough that I contemplated turning this compilation into a triple disc set) nothing really stood out as an obvious number one or number two. There was no Folker or American Idiot this year.
Here are my selections for the thirty best albums of the year, plus a handful of other categories to celebrate reissues, compilations and live performances.



1. Bright Eyes, I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning/Digital Ash in a Digital Urn. Is Bright Eyes leader Conor Oberst over-hyped? Probably. Is he the next Bob Dylan? Definitely not. Is he one of the best songwriters of this era? Certainly, and the simultaneous release of these two albums prove that fact. ‘Wide Awake’ presents Oberst with minimal backing (and Emmylou Harris’ harmonies on four songs); it’s easily more accessible than the electronic-tinged ‘Digital Ash’. Yet ‘Digital’ features melodies and lyrics as strong as ‘Wide Awake’, particularly in the second half of the disc.
2. The Decemberists, Picaresque. Somehow Colin Meloy has made a career out of creating songs that invoke visions of pirates singing sea chanties while cruising the high seas. Don’t let that description scare you off, though, as Meloy is a master at the catchy, sing-a-long chorus, and the rest of the band is more than adept at alternating from genre to genre. Picaresque may be their loudest record to date, but it’s also their most varied.
3. Son Volt, Okemah and the Melody of Riot. Critics may complain that since Jay Farrar is the only returning member of this acclaimed alt-country act it’s not really Son Volt. They needn’t worry, though, as it fits perfectly next to any albums from the previous lineup. Named for the Oklahoma town that spawned Woody Guthrie, this album conjures up the spirit of the legendary troubadour through a dozen songs that attack the extremists on both sides of the political spectrum.
4. The Hold Steady, Separation Sunday. Imagine if Jim Carroll had recorded a concept album of tunes written by Lou Reed and Bruce Springsteen with a band consisting of members of the Clash, Guided By Voices, and Soul Asylum. Hold Steady leader Craig Finn spits out tales of New York street life with a red-hot band fighting to keep up with his venom. In other hands this concept would never work, but Finn’s rough-edged vocals are just perfect for his graffiti-inspired rantings.
5. Bruce Springsteen – Devils and Dust. Billed as a sequel to Nebraska and The Ghost of Tom Joad, Springsteen’s latest album features tunes primarily written almost a decade earlier. Discovering that this batch of tracks perfectly fits the current political atmosphere, he called in producer Brendan O’Brien to add additional instrumentation. Just as he did on Nebraska, Springsteen goes into character for these songs that deal with the disenfranchised – hookers, boxers, migrant workers, soldiers, etc. While no tracks stand out as certified classics, the overall feel and pace of this album does resonate when taken as a whole.

6. Franz Ferdinand – You Could Have It So Much Better. As great as their debut was, nobody (and I mean nobody) ever expected a sophomore effort as strong as this album. Sure, most of the album follows the same formula as the last one, punk-ish, danceable Britpop. What makes this album stand out, however, is their attempts to branch out into other sounds, particularly Beatles-esque pop and psychedelic balladry.
7. My Morning Jacket – Z. Since their last album, 2003’s It Still Moves, MMJ have lost not only two band members but the infamous barn where they recorded all of their previous releases. Luckily, these changes have seemed to reinvigorate the band, particularly leader Jim James. Recording in a studio for the first time, the band has tempered their southern rock sounds and streamlined the bands sound. Z proves that change can be good.
8. Beck – Guero. Beck is always at his best when he’s goofy, and he’s never been goofier than on this album. Who else could get away with songs featuring random bursts of Spanish, videogame sound effects, and lyrics about dumptrucks and space machines?

9. Kanye West – Late Registration. I’m sure everybody that knows me is asking why this album rates so high? How often does a hip-hop album make a showing in a Hudson best-of? Late Registration earns it’s place for straddling that fine line between smart and commercial – an extremely tough role in this era of catch-phrase bubblegum rap that plagues the airwaves.
10. Neil Young – Prairie Wind. Like Bob Dylan a few years ago, Young responds to a health crisis with his best album in quite a few years. Recorded at a rate of a song per day (and a running order that virtually recreates these sessions), Prairie Wind takes a whimsical look at his family, friends, death, dreams and memories. Compared by many to Harvest and Harvest Moon, this album is much darker than those releases, and the sound is much more varied. Unlike those albums, however, there’s no individual song that stands out. It’s an album where the whole is definitely stronger than the parts.
11. White Stripes – Get Behind Me Satan. After the platinum success of Elephant, Jack and Meg White have gone completely bonkers. Instead of replicating the commercial pop-garage sounds of that album, Get Behind Me Satan is much more experimental and lo-fi. Many songs sound like rough mixes, and piano replaces guitar on the majority of the album. Yet it’s likely that true fans of the band will someday point to this record as one of their best.
12. Sleater-Kinney – The Woods. A cult favorite for close to ten years, Sleater-Kinney went after the brass ring with this release. Newly signed to Sub Pop, the trio recruited Flaming Lips producer David Friedmann to guide them through an album that sees the band completely doing a 180 on their trademark sound. The result is their crunchiest, riff-heavy, most experimental album of their career.
13. Bob Mould – Body of Song. For his first album in three years, the former Husker Du and Sugar lead man once again grabs his guitar on this album that virtually recreates his entire career in a dozen songs. The guitar attack of his former bands mixes with the dance-beat sounds of his last couple of releases. The results stand up proudly next to anything he has ever released.

14. Ryan Adams – Cold Roses. Always a studio rat, Adams was even busier than usual this year. Three albums in nine months, with one being a double disc set? While all three releases are strong, the first one, Cold Roses, narrowly wins out as the best of the bunch. Reminiscent at times of Heartbreaker, it’s also the first album since his Whiskeytown days where the musical backing actually sounds like a real, live, breathing band.


15. Rolling Stones – A Bigger Bang. There’s absolutely no reason anymore why a Rolling Stones album should be any good. The hunger should have left their souls decades ago (and some would argue that it has), and the last handful of albums have featured few tracks worth remembering after the corresponding tour. Yet A Bigger Bang is not a bad album. It’s certainly no Exile On Main Street, yet for the first time since the late 70’s it actually sounds like Mick, Keith, Ron, and Charlie are in the same room…with no superfluous sidemen and/or producers.
16. Coldplay – X & Y. Ok, I’m the first to admit that this album could probably top any “biggest disappointment” list. It’s simply not as good as their previous albums. Yet Coldplay’s worst album is still better than the majority of albums released in any year.
17. Eels – Blinking Lights. Easily the most somber album to make this list, Blinking Lights is a two album song cycle that mainly deals with death. Eels leader “E” Everett has dealt with more than his share of tragedy in recent years – his sister committed suicide right around the same time as his father, and another relative was on one of the planes that hit the World Trade Center. Yet there are moments of humor, most notably on “Whatever Happened to Soy Bomb?”
18. Spoon – Gimme Fiction. Although virtually unknown to the general public, there may not be a smarter, catchier band than Austin’s Spoon. Gimme Fiction is their most eclectic album yet; a cycle of songs that molds John Lennon, David Bowie, Prince and the Who in an extremely pleasurable mini-masterpiece.
19. Death Cab For Cutie – Plans. After a successful four-year run as an indie act, DCFC surprised their fans by jumping to a major label. While the results are certainly slicker, quieter, and less carefree than their earlier releases, Plans features many of the best songs of their career.


20. The Raveonettes – Pretty in Black. In a perfect world, the Raveonettes would be just as big as the White Stripes. While Jack and Meg White put a garage rock twist on the blues, this duo is happy just to create pure 60’s garage pop. This album turns down the noise a tad on a set that’s much more varied than its predecessors.
21. Bettye LaVette – I’ve Got My Own Hell to Raise. The Diving Miss L has spent the past four decades toiling in the minor leagues of soul labels. Producer Joe Henry somehow discovered this fine lady, and she delivers this exceptional album of covers of female songwriters. Few vocalists could cover artists as diverse as Dolly Parton and Fiona Apple, but LaVette turns each of these songs into her own. This is what Tina Turner should have sounded.
22. Graham Parker – Songs of No Consequence. For his second album on Chicago’s Bloodshot Records, Parker reunites with his power pop buddies the Figgs for this album of vitriolic, venomous tracks that are reminiscent of his legendary releases of the late 80’s.
23. Josh Rouse – Nashville. One would expect that an album-length goodbye note to his former hometown would be pure country. It’s not. Instead, it’s an album of 70’s AM-radio folk-rock that would be pure dreck in the hands of lesser songwriters.
24. John Doe – Forever Hasn’t Happened Yet. Few members of the original punk rock explosion of the late 70’s has aged as gracefully as the former X leader. His vocals have actually improved over the years, as this album of rootsy rock proves. He’s also got a great secondary cast on this album, including Dave Alvin, Grant Lee Phillips, Exene Cervenka, Neko Case, and his sixteen year-old daughter Veronica Jane.
25. New Order – Waiting For the Sirens’ Call. Twenty years after they revolutionized alternative rock (and 25 years since the demise of Joy Division), New Order still proves to be one of England’s most vital artists. While there’s nothing as ground-breaking as their early singles, this album is surprisingly strong from start to finish.
26. The National – Alligator. Huge in Britain, this Cincinnati band has churned out three albums that have been almost completely ignored in this country. That’s too bad, as they uniquely combine alt-country, chamber pop, and punk-ish angst.
27. Amy Rigby – Little Fugitive. Since her divorce from db’s drummer Will Rigby, Amy Rigby has released a number of albums dealing with the trials and tribulations as a middle-aged single mom. Little Fugitive may be her best effort yet as she sings of ex-husbands, girlfriends of ex-husbands, a fantasy pairing with Joey Ramone, and the needy men she just can’t seem to escape. Recorded in just two days, the punchy production is a perfect complement to Rigby’s pure pop melodies and sarcastic lyrics.
28. Matt Pond P.A. – Several Arrows Later. The jangly pop record of the year. There’s not much to say beyond that.
29. The Magic Numbers – Self-titled. Although obviously inspired by the music of late 60’s Southern California, England’s newest hitmakers understand the difference between influence and mimicy. Comprising two pairs of siblings, their debut succeeds due to great songwriting, harmonies, and melodic hooks that haunt your brain for days after your first listen.
30. Paul Weller – As Is Now. The former Jam leader has had an iffy solo career over the last decade or so. As Is Now continues to dabble in a strange sort of soul/folk combination, but what sets this album apart from previous releases is an amped-up energy that hasn’t been present since the glory days of the Jam.
Best Album That Doesn’t Fit My Profile: The Go! Team – Thunder, Lightning, Strike. One doesn’t find a lot of albums in my collection whose sound is made up of what Amazon calls “sunshine funk, big beats, peculiar samples, adrenaline-pumping rock, TV theme songs and the occasional cheerleader”. Yet it’s a clever album chock full of energetic pure pop bliss.
Best 2004 Album Discovered in 2005: Arcade Fire – Funeral. Released in September 2004, this album would have certainly made last year’s top 5 if I hadn’t waited until January to buy it. It’s easily one of the most unique albums of recent memory, full of haunting almost-orchestral tunes reminiscent of a weird mix of Talking Heads, Modest Mouse, and Brian Eno.
Best Compilations: Paul Westerberg, Besterberg and Son Volt, A Retrospective: 1995-2005. Released on the same day, these sets manage a rare feat. They’re great primers for prospective fans but also include enough rare tracks for the most hardcore fanatics. One could argue a bit with the track selection on Besterberg, but any album that includes hard-to-find tracks such as “Seein’ Her” and “Stain Yer Blood” more than makes up for the exclusion of vital album tracks. Son Volt’s compilation adds on covers of Springsteen, Townes Van Zant, and Big Star. Both sets also include a couple of previously unreleased studio outtakes.
Best Box Set: Various Artists, Children of Nuggets. In between last year’s explosion of garage rock and the 60’s originals they were based on was an entire era of energetic acts that were mainly heard on college radio in the early to mid-80’s. The Smithereens, Bangles, and the Church may have moved on to commercial success, but they are by no means any better than the selections on this box by the Fleshtones, Spongetones, Rain Parade, or the Chesterfield Kings.
Best Reissues: Bruce Springsteen,Born to Run and Patti Smith, Horses. To mark the 30th anniversary of both of these groundbreaking albums, Columbia has reissued these albums with plenty of bonus material. Besides a long overdue remastering of the album, Born To Run is noteworthy for two DVD’s of studio and live material. Horses includes a recently-recorded run-through of the entire album at London’s Meltdown Festival. Both albums remain as vital today as they did when they were first released.
Best Live Albums – Green Day, Bullet In a Bible and Wilco, Kicking Television. Two of 2004’s finest albums are the basis for the best releases in a surprisingly crowded field of live recordings. Green Day’s release is an edited version of a British show that is highlighted by the majority of their American Idiot album, while Wilco’s live recording is a two disc set recorded during a three day set in their hometown of Chicago. While both albums could have welcomed a few more old chestnuts, there’s not denying that these two bands are America’s finest live acts.

Best Concert (Local): Elvis Costello, Washington Pavillion 4/15/05. It’s not often that the Washington Pavilion features an act that appeals to people that don’t normally wear suits and ties. At least this time they got it right, as the newly elected Rock and Roll Hall of Fame-r knows how to make an audience eat out of his hand. Interjecting just enough of his classic tunes to keep the non-fanatics interested, Costello blasted through almost the entire Delivery Man album.

Best Concert (Out of Town): Paul Westerberg, Kansas City 3/4/05. All I have to say is I spent time hanging out with the man on his tour bus. And I have (awful) pictures to prove it. Regardless of this little personal tidbit, this was the perfect Westerberg show. Housed in an old blues club in downtown KC, we were able to nab chairs just a couple of feet away from the side of the stage. Westerberg ran through 90 minutes of vintage Replacements and solo tunes, along with a revved-up cover of Billy Joe Shaver’s “Live Forever”.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Bush's Ipod Discussed Once Again

At the end of an interview broadcast Wednesday night, Fox News anchor Brit Hume asked Bush to show him what's on his iPod playlist these days.

Bush : Beach Boys, Beatles, let's see, Alan Jackson, Alan Jackson, Alejandro, Alison Krauss, the Angels, the Archies, Aretha Franklin, the Beatles, Dan McLean. Remember him?

Hume: Don McLean.

Bush: I mean, Don McLean.

Hume: Does "American Pie," right?

Bush: Great song.

Hume: Yes, yes, great song.

Unidentified male: . . . which ones do you play?

Bush: All of these. I put it on shuffle. Dwight Yoakam. I've got the Shuffle, the, what is it called? The little.

Hume: Shuffle.

Bush: It looks like.

Hume: The Shuffle. That is the name of one of the models.

Bush: Yes, the Shuffle.

Hume: Called the Shuffle.

Bush: Lightweight, and crank it on, and you shuffle the Shuffle.

Hume: So you -- it plays . . .

Bush: Put it in my pocket, got the ear things on.

Hume: So it plays them in a random order.

Bush: Yes.

Hume: So you don't know what you're going to going to get.

Bush: No.

Hume: But you know --

Bush: And if you don't like it, you have got your little advance button. It's pretty high-tech stuff.

Hume: . . . be good to have one of those at home, wouldn't it?

Bush: Oh?

Hume: Yes, hit the button and whatever it is that's in your head -- gone.

Bush: . . . it's a bad day, just say, get out of here.

Hume: Well, that probably is pretty . . .

Bush: That works, too. ( Laughter )

Hume: Yes, right.

I Was Reviewed!!!

Corey of Black Marks on Wood Pulp recently had his blog reviewed by the Weblog Reviewso I thought I'd do the same. I'm sort of happy with the results:

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Rant-a-Bit By Scott Hudson
"Rant". It seems to be the buzz word in the blogging community at present! Nearly every second blog I come across these days has the word "Rant" embedded into it somewhere only to dissapoint with posts that don't resemble a rant at all! This was my main concern while I was waiting for this site to load which it took a long time to do!

Once the page started displaying I could see quickly see why it took so long! The scrollbar on the right of my browser window was rapidly shrinking - almost to the point where I couldn't see it anymore! This blog is big! After a quick scroll down a pre-installed blogger template page, I counted only eight different posts, three of which were extremely brief leaving five incredibly long posts.

On the sidebar we learn that the author is one Scott Hudson who lives in South Dakota. I apologise that that state doesn't mean much to me because this humble reviewer resides in Ireland. Not having any local knowledge slightly hindered my ability to understand what was going on in some of the posts in this blog but thankfully it didn't prevent me from enjoying it because the posts are clearly well thought out and they accurately convey the author's strong feelings towards certain issues. As I said earlier, this blog is big and I suppose this is a suitable time to question the blogs title which is "Rant-a-BIT". I think "Rant-a-LOT" would have been much more fitting title!

Staying on the subject of the content, I was happy to see that the blog isn't all about serious issues and Scott often offers his own spin on light hearted and humorous issues which is just as well because I don't think I could handle rant after rant after rant! If there's one bad thing that can be said about the blog it's that once you've finished reading one page, there is no "Next" or "Previous" link. Instead you have to scroll all the way back up to the top of the page and click a suitable link in the archive section of the sidebar which can be incredibly annoying for anyone who wants to read back through the archives which span all the way back to March of 2003 where the posts were just as vast as they are today!

Overall I can say that this blog is well worth the read especially if you like long posts which offer a great insight into the life and personality of the author. If you prefer short and snappy blogs then this blog just isn't for you! Personally, I enjoyed reading it and will probably add it to my growing list of quality blogs in my bookmarks!


This site was reviewed on 2005-12-16 by Murderer.
They felt this site belonged in the Personal category.
Murderer felt that Rant-a-Bit By Scott Hudson deserved a rating of 4.5.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The War on Free Thinking

If we are to believe a certain fake news network - particularly the star of their most popular show - our country is under attack by a new enemy. We’re not talking about a rogue nation, terrorists, or the threats of WMD’s.
The new enemy resides in our country. I don’t know where these people are, but supposedly there’s a movement to rid our country of it’s most popular, and profitable, holiday – Christmas. (One segment on this channel’s financial news show even recently featured a debate on how this war had the potential to topple Wall Street.)
Since they debuted this rhetoric a couple of weeks ago, I have been forced to encounter a number of people who have completely drank the Kool-Aid. One otherwise intelligent couple told me they were boycotting a department store chain because…well, because they were told to do this. The daily paper seems to have at least one letter on this subject every day, including one a day or so ago from a writer who claimed that stores were no longer stocking Christmas cards. Methinks she just wandered down the wrong aisle. Hell, I’ve even heard that a certain hotel chain is so scared that they’re thinking of changing their name to the Christmas Inn.
Simply put, it’s all B.S. There is no war on Christmas. Television is airing the same Christmas specials, the Muzak in local shops are playing those awful Christmas songs, and middle-aged women can still purchase those tacky seasonal sweaters.
Yes, there are also cards, decorations, and other items that feature the word “holiday”. Guess what? They were also featured last year, the year before that, and decades and decades earlier. I’d like to let you in on a little secret – Christmas is not the only holiday of this time period. That’s why people say – “happy holidays”. Besides the day that celebrates Jesus there’s also the Jewish holy week, New Year’s Eve and Day, and it all begins with Thanksgiving. Isn’t “Happy Holidays” just a shorter version of “Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year”?
The obvious question is why are the morons at Fox (and the other news networks) perpetuating this myth? Because they can. With no hot teenagers currently missing, and no celebrity trial to fill the 24 hour news cycle, they had to create something to fill the time. Why not create a scandal? They knew it would catch on, as the so-called Moral Majority has always had a persecution complex. Despite the fact that they control everything from the Presidency on down to our local school board, they think there’s some ingenious plot to get them to turn to Satan.
If you consider yourselves one of those that are persecuted, I have something to say to you. While I’m happy for you that you have found a direction for your life, I personally don’t care what it is. And you shouldn’t care about my religious beliefs. I don’t push mine on you, and I expect the same from others. The mere existence of items that accommodate the beliefs of others does absolutely nothing to diminish your beliefs. Hell, if it was up to me every person in the country would listen to the Replacements, drink whiskey, and watch Arrested Development. Unfortunately, I’m outnumbered by fans of Creed, cheap beer, and Everybody Loves Raymond. So what?

Monday, December 12, 2005

Vote!!!

Towards the bottom of the sidebar, I now have a spot for polls. Obviously, these aren't scientific, but think of it this way - they are as useful as KELO's polls.

Friday, December 09, 2005

David Cross Vs. Larry the Cable Guy

Apparently, Mr. Cable Boy spends an entire chapter bitching about Cross in his book. My question is obviously why is Larry the Cable Guy writing a book? Who knew his audience could read?

Here isCross' Lengthy Letter to Mr. Git'r'Done


Thursday, December 08, 2005

It Was 25 Years Ago Today


Until I turned on the radio this morning, I had completely forgotten that today marks the 25th anniversary of the murder of John Lennon.
I know that I’ve stated this many times before, but I was born the day that the Beatles entered the EMI studios to record their debut single, “Love Me Do”. Perhaps because of this silly coincidence (and let’s face it, that’s all it is), the Beatles have always been near and dear my heart.
Sure, if I’m going to be completely honest the Replacements are my favorite band. Paul Westerberg’s lyrics have always hit me in a way that no other writer can manage. But that doesn’t dismiss the impact of the Fab Four. The first album I hijacked from my parents was “Hard Day’s Night”. The first album I ever bought with my own money was “Sgt. Pepper”. When I began seriously purchasing music the first artist whose entire catalog was purchased was the Beatles…and until the late 80’s I collected anything and everything associated with any of the four members (obviously, I have a lot of really bad Ringo and McCartney albums collecting dust).
John Lennon was my favorite Beatle…well, most of the time. I went through phases with each of them…even Ringo. But I always went back to Lennon. How could I not? His love of primal rock ‘n’ roll, his experimental edge, and, most importantly, his sarcasm, fit my personality the best. Paul was too nice; George’s mysticism was admirable but frankly a bit boring. As I said before, Ringo was just Ringo (although in hindsight he was a much better drummer than he’s generally credited).
Like most people, I found out about Lennon’s death from Howard Cosell. I don’t remember watching the Monday Night Football game, but I know I was in the room when the announcement was made. I immediately took control of the television, and threw in a video tape. For the next three days (and a little beyond) I taped everything Lennon-related. We had just had cable installed, although cable television back then was just a few channels beyond the local network affiliates.
Seriously, I taped everything…even the channel that was nothing more than an AP wire scroll. I taped the local and national news. I lucked into the rerun of Tom Snyder’s infamous Lennon interview. This was all before VH1, MTV, and cable news (except for CNN). I wish I knew where those tapes are tonight, but multiple moves and format changes have made those types of artifacts impossible to locate.
I cried more in that week than I probably had in my entire life. I shut myself in my room multiple times and just sobbed. To this day, I get tears in my eyes when I hear “In My Life” or the “I don’t believe in Beatles” line from “God”.
I must admit that I’m a bit shocked that this anniversary has received only moderate notices today. Sure, the newspapers have run short stories, and the news channels have mentioned it. PTI spent ninety seconds on it. Yet none of the networks are running Lennon or Beatles specials. None of the music channels are giving up any time – VH1 is running a marathon of America’s Next Top Model, VH1 Classic is doing the same with that silly INXS reality show, and MTV is wasting the evening with multiple airings of Diddy’s Making the Band. That’s inexcusable.
As I stated earlier, I had also forgotten about the anniversary. But that’s not to say I had forgotten about the man. Just yesterday I purchased reissues of Sometime In New York City and Walls and Bridges; not among his better solo albums but even his worst albums had their merits. Each of those discs now features bonus tracks, and while driving through town my second favorite Christmas song of all time came up (The Pogues “Fairytale of New York City” will always be my favorite). “Happy Xmas” sounds as fresh today as it did when it was released 33 years ago, especially with the amazing remastering job Apple performed on the track.

(happy xmas kyoko
Happy xmas julian)

So this is xmas
And what have you done
Another year over
And a new one just begun
And so this is xmas
I hope you have fun
The near and the dear one
The old and the young

A very merry xmas
And a happy new year
Let’s hope it’s a good one
Without any fear

And so this is xmas
For weak and for strong
For rich and the poor ones
The world is so wrong
And so happy xmas
For black and for white
For yellow and red ones
Let’s stop all the fight

A very merry xmas
And a happy new year
Let’s hope it’s a good one
Without any fear

And so this is xmas
And what have we done
Another year over
A new one just begun
And so happy xmas
We hope you have fun
The near and the dear one
The old and the young

A very merry xmas
And a happy new year
Let’s hope it’s a good one
Without any fear
War is over, if you want it
War is over now

I think I’ll pop in one of the Anthology discs. Happy Xmas, John.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

The Explosion (Not) Heard Around Town

Hopefully, the Final Word




At first, I thought it was an earthquake.
This past Saturday, I was checking out some internet porn when suddenly the earth started shaking. Quickly realizing that it wasn’t my naughty bits causing the computer to squirm, I noted that it was exactly 12:55 p.m. Oh yeah, the demolition of the Zip Feed Mill was set for that time. Surely the exploding dynamite must be causing the disturbance.
Well, it wasn’t the dynamite…and that’s the problem. As everybody across the country (and beyond) has heard, the so-called biggest building in South Dakota buckled…and fell thirty feet straight down.
What exactly caused the disturbance felt all the way across town? Laughter. Besides the few thousand people scattered across the central part of the city, there were at least a few hundred people watching KELO’s twelve-camera shoot on their UPN affiliate. Within minutes, almost every blog in the area was filled with pictures of the leaning building and really awful one-liners such as “The Leaning Tower of Zip”. Others used the old-fashioned method of cell phones and coffee shop visits to spread the hilarious tale. Trust me, by 1:30 everybody was laughing harder than the combined hilarity of Dave Chappelle, Dane Cook, and all of the other major comedians could produce on their best night.






The only people not laughing were those with financial or political ties, including but not limited to the demolition crew, the property owners, and the city officials expecting a wonderful photo op. From what I’ve been told by observers, most fled as quickly as possible, leaving our silly Mayor and a rep of the demolition crew to offer sheepish explanations to reporters and television crews. Oh yeah, and I’m sure the demolition crew chief, Jim Wutzke, was mighty embarrassed once again the next day when the Argus reprinted this quote, “This one here is a slam dunk. This is about as easy as they come.”
It serves them right. What should have been a minor event worthy of only a special interest story at the end of a news broadcast was turned into an over-hyped piece of propaganda for the land owners and Mayor Munson. His dreams of a legacy that he undoubtedly visions would be called the Dave Munson/Wells Fargo/Sioux Valley Hospital Event Center probably evaporated the second the building settled into the basement.
I’ll admit that it was great that somebody figured out how to turn the act of tearing down a building into a charity event, but maybe some time should have been spent explaining the causes and effects of MS, and the potential benefits with the raised money. Instead, last week it was the only story outside of “Blizzard 2005”to make the front page of the newspaper and the TV news broadcasts. Just how many times did we need to see “Colonel” Jorgenson don a hardhat to point out where the explosives were to be placed? Was the winning draw by Dollar Loan Center really worthy of a live feed? How many photos of the building did the newspaper need to publish?






Of course, after a couple of days everybody had their game faces back on. Dumbass Munson returned to his “aw shucks” stuck-in-the-headlight grin. Rick Knobe, with some help from other city leaders, attempted to explain to his audience on KSOO that those involved had no reason to be embarssed. The blasting company tried to say that it wasn’t their fault (although one of the construction guys told me two days BEFORE the event that he didn’t think they had enough explosives). And the awful puns kept on coming in the media – the Argus even featured a whole page of reader suggestions.
I guess if one has to find something positive in this story (besides my glee in seeing the embarrassment of our city leaders) it would have to be the fact that Sioux Falls finally replaced Mitchell as the host of the state’s weakest tourist trap. Who needs the silly Corn Palace when we have a crooked building?
Before I conclude this rant, however, I must put aside my cynicism for just a second. As I was putting the finishing touches on this piece last night, I received a phone call from a young woman pleading with me to play nice on this topic. Having recently moved from California, she pointed out that instead of the murders, rapes, and other major crimes that fill their newscasts, our entire town (let’s not pretend that we’re a city) still gets excited by minor events such as this one. Hell, I even drove down there a couple of days ago and took a few photos. We’ve all been laughing for the last four days; shouldn’t that be considered a good thing?


Stupid Quote of the Day...I Mean Month...Hell, the Entire Year

From CNN.com:

"Creed's sound is my sound," (Scott) Stapp says, lounging on a sofa backstage before an appearance on "The Tonight Show." "I think my record is going to speak for itself to the Creed fans. I think it's going to be like when Sting left The Police."

Saturday, December 03, 2005

It's Not Just at Roosevelt - Students Have Sex in Lincoln, NE Hallway

At Least a Dozen Students Watched

--Omaha Channel


LINCOLN, Neb. - Two Lincoln teenagers have been ticketed for having sex in a high school hallway during the lunch hour while at least a dozen students watched, according to Lincoln police. School officials said the incident happened over the lunch hour Wednesday at Lincoln Southeast. A female 17-year-old and a male 19-year-old apparently snuck past a gate to get into a restricted hallway near the Prasch Activity Center. Lincoln police said at least a dozen students watched through the gate.

A school administrator found the couple and called a school resource officer.

"I don't want the message to families (to be that) this is happening indiscriminately all over the halls," said Becky Wild, with Lincoln Public Schools. Wild said she remembers only one other incident like this in the last 10 years. She said LPS takes it very seriously, and administrators are asking themselves some tough questions.

"Are there some areas in our schools that are not as visible to the adults that supervise? We need to figure out how we cover those. Do we need to be talking with students about appropriate behavior?" Wild said.

Word of the incident doesn't sit well with some students.

"It's inappropriate," said one student. "It is. First of all, they don't need to be doing that in front of other people."

Students told KETV NewsWatch 7 that they believe sex in the hallways is rare, but sexual activity in schools happens more than adults think.

"If a kid thinks they can do that and it's going to make them popular, that's the level people go to nowadays," said student Danielle Thompson.

"I honestly think it could happen, and it probably does happen at their schools. People just don't know about it," said student Tomika Hopkins-Sanders.

LPS said students involved in sexual activity at school could face disciplinary action, counseling, suspension or even expulsion.

School officials will look at changes that can be made to prevent this kind of incident, but admitted that it's tough to keep an eye on every student at every moment of the day.

Friday, December 02, 2005

75 Bands!!!

How many can you find?


The Ten Million Dollar Bat Mitzvah

Found on the Uncle Tupelo "Postcard" mailing list:

History will forever record *Elizabeth Brooks*' bat mitzvah as
"Mitzvahpalooza."

For his daughter's coming-of-age celebration last weekend, multimillionaire
Long Island defense contractor *David H. Brooks* booked two floors of the
Rainbow Room, hauled in concert-ready equipment, built a stage, installed
special carpeting, outfitted the space with Jumbotrons and arranged command
performances by everyone from *50 Cent* to *Tom Petty to Aerosmith*.

I hear it was garish display of rock 'n' roll idol worship for which the
famously irascible CEO of DHB Industries, a Westbury-based manufacturer of
bulletproof vests, sent his company jet to retrieve Aerosmith's *Steven
Tyler and Joe Perry* from their Saturday gig in Pittsburgh.

I'm also told that in honor of Aerosmith (and the $2 million fee I hear he
paid for their appearance), the 50-year-old Brooks changed from a
black-leather, metal-studded suit - accessorized with biker-chic necklace
chains and diamonds from Chrome Hearts jewelers - into a hot-pink suede
version of the same lovely outfit.

The party cost an estimated $10 million, including the price of corporate
jets to ferry the performers to and from. Also on the bill were The Eagles'
*Don Henley* and *Joe Walsh* performing with Fleetwood Mac's *Stevie Nicks*;
* DJ AM* (*Nicole Richie*'s fiance); rap diva *Ciara *and, sadly perhaps
(except that he received an estimated $250,000 for the job), *Kenny
G*blowing on his soprano sax as more than 300 guests strolled and
chatted into
their pre-dinner cocktails.

"Hey, that guy looks like Kenny G," a disbelieving grownup was overheard
remarking - though the 150 kids in attendance seemed more impressed by their
$1,000 gift bags, complete with digital cameras and the latest video iPod.

For his estimated $500,000, I hear that 50 Cent performed only four or five
songs - and badly - though he did manage to work in the lyric, "Go shorty,
it's your bat miztvah, we gonna party like it's your bat mitzvah."

At one point, I'm told, one of Fitty's beefy bodyguards blocked shots of his
boss performing and batted down the kids' cameras, shouting "No pictures! No
pictures!" - even preventing Brooks' personal videographers and
photographers from capturing 50 Cent's bat-miztvah moment.

"Fitty and his posse smelled like an open bottle of Hennessy," a witness
told told me, adding that when the departing rapper prepared to enter his
limo in the loading dock, a naked woman was spotted inside.

I'm told that Petty's performance - on acoustic guitar - was fabulous, as
was the 45-minute set by Perry and Tyler, who was virtuosic on drums when
they took the stage at 2:45 a.m. Sunday.

Henley, I hear, was grumpy at the realization that he'd agreed to play a
kids' party.

I'm told that at one point Brooks leapt on the stage with Tyler and Perry,
who responded with good grace when their paymaster demanded that his teenage
nephew be permitted to sit in on drums. At another point, I'm told, Tyler
theatrically wiped sweat off Brooks' forehead - and then dried his hand with
a flourish.

Yesterday, Brooks disputed many details provided to me by Lowdown spies at
the affair and by other informed sources, scrawling on a fax to me: "All
dollar figures vastly exaggerated."

He added: "This was a private event and we do not wish to comment on details
of the party."

Blizzard 2005, Day 5 - We Will Survive...Thanks to KELO's Helpful Tips

Where's Cable Boy when we need him?




Things I learned from my friends at KELO:

1. Slow down if the roads are slick. (Really? I would have never thought about that.)

2. Wear layers of clothing when clearing snow. (Damn, I wanted to go out in my boxers.)

3. Give the snowplows plenty of room to do their work. (Personally, I like to get as close to them as possible. That way I'm always driving on the cleanest section of the road.)

Thursday, December 01, 2005

The Hudson Guide to Bruce Springsteen

From December, 2005 Edition or Prime:

No artist suffers from generational discrimination as “The Boss”. Most people who have come of age since the mid-80’s hysteria surrounding the Born In the U.S.A. album know him as the over-saturated old dude with the awful videos. Was he more legitimate than John “Cougar” Mellencamp, or was he a record company creation?
For those who came of age before MTV, Springsteen really is a blue collar hero; a man who for the first half of his career was known more for his marathon concerts than his albums.
Yet Springsteen really seems to be the real deal. Even though he’s been a multi-millionaire for close to twenty years, he still can be seen shopping, driving, or checking out bands at clubs near his New Jersey home. He generously (and quietly) gives to many charities without the press conferences or photo ops that plague today’s celebrity culture.
And he’s still the hardest working man in showbiz. While his concerts no longer come close to breaking the four-hour mark, this guy in his mid-50’s still performs for close to three hours and peppers his sets with enough rarities and one-offs to please even the most jaded fan.
Springsteen’s catalog is also more consistent than the majority of his superstar brethren. With the exception of two albums simultaneously released in the early 90’s, he’s never put out a truly awful record. At least three albums gracefully sit next to any other landmark albums by any artist. Here’s the Prime guide to navigating the Bruce Springsteen catalog.

Essential
Born To Run

It may have been the lowest moment of his life. His first two albums had bombed, leading most of the executives at Columbia Records to push towards dropping him. He barely had enough money to pay his band; even in the middle of recording they would have to hit the road for cash to survive.
Even worse, sessions for his third album were not proceeding well. It took six months to create a worthwhile take of “Born To Run”. Few other tunes were beyond initial tracking.
Yet somehow Bruce Springsteen pulled it all together, and created the album of his life. The son of a Columbia Records executive saved him from being dropped by dragging his father to one of his now-legendary shows of that era. New and old friends were brought into the studio. One was his lifelong buddy, “Miami” (now “Little”) Steven Vandt; the other was Rolling Stone critic (now manager) Jon Landau. Together, they understood what Springsteen was attempting and managed to convey his ideas to a previously befuddled group of musicians and studio personnel.
Springsteen’s goal was grandiose even for that era of long-winded concept albums – a rock ‘n’ roll version of West Side Story, with a sound described by Rolling Stone as “big as Phil Spector and as much kick as early Elvis”. The concept may have disappeared somewhere during the recording process, but the theatrical nature of tracks such as “Thunder Road”, “Meeting Across the River”, and “Jungleland” brought characters such as Terry, Mary, and the Magic Rat to life.
Of course, there’s also “Born to Run”. A monster of an epic track, layered with guitars, lust, sax, drums, drama, more guitars, more lust, glockenspiel, and the greatest “1, 2, 3, 4” count-out in rock history (at least until the Ramones turned it into their trademark phrase). If Springsteen had never recorded another song, this was the track that will inevitably make insipid music lists throughout the entire history of rock ‘n’ roll.
Despite the accomplishment of this album, however, Columbia Records has not treated it with the respect it deserved. It was released as an awful sounding compact disc in the beginning years of the format, and while almost every other artist on the label has seen their catalog remastered, this same poor pressing sat in the racks for 20 years.
Finally, on November 15, Columbia righted their wrongs with the Born To Run 30th Anniversary edition. Finally, each of the layers of guitars and other instruments on the title track can be heard. The same can be said of the entire album; it now sounds like a contemporary release.
As if that’s not enough, Columbia has also included two DVD’s. The first, Wings For Wheels, is a ninety-minute documentary of the making of the album and besides interviews with the majority of those present for the recording there’s plenty of previously unseen footage of the recording sessions. But it’s the second DVD that will make the fanatics go crazy – a recently discovered two hour concert recorded at London’s Hammmersmith Odeon shortly after the album was released in 1975. Besides the majority of the Born to Run album, Springsteen and the newly-constituted E Street Band storm through highlights of their first two albums and their infamous “Detroit Medley” of Mitch Ryder covers.

The River

No album showcases the multiple sides of Springsteen as The River, a sprawling double album that saw silly three-chord garage tunes stand up proudly next to lengthy Born To Run-ish epics. In Point Blank, Christopher Sandford described the album as “(balancing) the joyous derangement of Born (To Run) against the black heart of Darkness (On the Edge of Town)”.
“Hungry Heart”, “Cadillac Ranch”, and “Sherry Darling” may have been the crowd pleasers, but every track is an essential part of Springsteen’s catalog of tunes. “The River” was a sequel of sorts to “Thunder Road” that found the protagonist forced into marriage and dead end jobs. Similar characters face these same sorts of problems in “The Price You Pay”, “Wreck On the Highway”, and “Point Blank”.
These dismal themes were interspersed with the reckless abandon of “Two Hearts”, “You Can Look (But You Better Not Touch)”, “Out in the Street”. The message seemed to be that there’s moments of glee in even the most despairing times; a theme that resonates in Springsteen’s music to this day.

Nebraska

Let’s say that after almost a decade of hard work, you finally crack the big time with a multi-million selling album. What would you do next? Most artists would just repeat that formula to pad their bank account.
Instead, Springsteen released an album of home demos that he reportedly carried around in his back pocket for a few weeks. What was he thinking?
In some respects, it was a brilliant accident. Writing songs for the follow-up to The River, Springsteen recorded a dozen or so tracks on a four-track cassette deck that he planned to play for the band. Not pleased with the full-band recording sessions of this material, Springsteen decided to just release the demos, warts and all.
It’s easy to see why these songs didn’t work in a band setting. Songs such as “Mansion on the Hill” and “My Father’s House” were too stark for anything but an acoustic setting. Instead of Roy Orbison, Mitch Ryder, and Bo Diddley, his influences were now Hank Williams and Woody Guthrie. Taken as a whole, the album’s bleak lyrics were a reflection of the dark side of Reagan’s America. Yet, somehow, it worked.

The Overlooked Blockbuster
Born in the U.S.A.

Any album that dominated the airwaves as this album did in the mid-80’s is due for backlash. Seven top-10 singles, almost 20 million copies sold around the world, and a world tour that seemed to last forever struck a negative chord with many fair weather fans.
To be fair, there are legitimate reasons to dislike this album. “Cover Me” may be his weakest song up to that point; the silly “Glory Days” is not as charming as similar-themed songs on The River. Twenty years later, the overuse of synthesizers and processed snares certainly sounds dated, and the videos that saturated MTV certainly proved that Springsteen had no future as an actor.
Yet this album also produced some of his greatest tracks, particularly on the second half of the disc. “No Surrender”, “Bobby Jean”, “I’m Going Down”, even “Dancing In the Dark” (despite that awful video featuring a pre-Friends Courtney Cox) were simply great pop songs, as were side one’s “Downbound Train” and “Darlington County”. And while the title track was certainly misunderstood by more than a few politicians, it’s one of the band’s greatest studio performances.

Great
Tunnel of Love

After the craziness of Born In the U.S.A., Springsteen wanted to slow things down a bit. He had also recently married, and the mostly acoustic Tunnel of Love dealt with the good, bad, and ugly of this relationship. For the first (and last) time, the lyrics appeared to be autobiographical, which obviously resulted in the most honest album of his career.

The Wild, The Innocent, and the E Street Shuffle

First the negatives. The production is awful, and Springsteen was still attempting to fill each song with every multi-syllable word he knew. Yet one can’t deny the ferocity of his musicians or the passion of his performance. As for the songs, the Rolling Stone Record Guide says it best – “Springsteen’s themes of loyalty, courage, the sheer joy of rock ‘n’ roll, and the aching need to live up to the future’s promise, get their first full treatment”.

Darkness On the Edge of Town

This is the album where Bruce Springsteen became an adult. While no individual songs are lyrically as powerful as the highlights of its’ predecessor, Born To Run, the now fully-integrated E Street Band is much more powerful and Springsteen’s guitar playing has never been as biting. Lyrically, this album found Springsteen finding his footing as a working class hero, singing songs about dead-end jobs, dead-end people, and dead-end cities. This is the album that should be remastered next.

Good
Greetings From Asbury Park, NJ

Springsteen was signed to Columbia Records as a solo act. As one may imagine, the label was surprised when he showed up at the recording studio with a full band. The resulting album has plenty of faults – rhythmically-challenged backing tracks, a muddy mix, and an overwrought vocal performance by Springsteen. Yet songs such as “For You”, “Growin’ Up”, and “Spirit In the Night” rank as some of his greatest tunes.

The Rising

Like most Americans, the events of 9/11 shook Springsteen to his core. He quickly wrote an album of material, and for the first time in fifteen years brought the E Street Band into the studio. The resulting album certainly has it’s moments (particularly the title track, “Empty Sky”, and “My City of Ruins”, but at times the passion seems a bit forced…and more than a couple of songs should have been stricken from the overlong album.

Devils and Dust

Billed as a sequel to Nebraska and The Ghost of Tom Joad, Springsteen’s latest album features tunes primarily written almost a decade earlier. Discovering that this batch of tracks perfectly fits the current political atmosphere, he called in producer Brendan O’Brien to add additional instrumentation. Just as he did on Nebraska, Springsteen goes into character for these songs that deal with the disenfranchised – hookers, boxers, migrant workers, soldiers, etc. While no tracks stand out as certified classics, the overall feel and pace of this album does resonate when taken as a whole.

Avoid!
Lucky Town/Human Touch

After dismissing the E Street Band (with a rumored million dollar severance check), Springsteen headed into the studio with a bunch of studio pros and came out with two albums of pure dreck that were released on the same day. Many have claimed that one could create a good album by combining the highlights of these albums, but a closer inspection finds that one would be hard pressed to produce an EP.

Live Albums
To truly understand the power of Springsteen, one needs to hear his live performances. Unfortunately, no official release has truly captured the intensity of his shows. There are seemingly a million live bootlegs floating around the internet that are dying to be released, particularly from his groundbreaking 1978 tour.
Not that there aren’t worthy official releases. 1975-1985 gathers tracks from a ton of shows, but there is no rhyme or reason for the order in which they’re presented.
MTV Plugged is the audio from an early 90’s television appearance that showcased tracks from Lucky Town and Human Touch. Not only is the recording plagued by awful songs from these albums, his band at the time had no fire.
Live in New York City fares a bit better. The soundtrack to an HBO concert film that celebrated his 2000 reunion with the E Street Band, the main portion of the disc does flow like a true live performance. Unfortunately, six tracks were tacked on to the end of the second disc that were completely out of context.

Complilations
The holy grail of compilations is certainly Tracks, a multi-disc set of unreleased songs and B-sides. Considering that Springsteen typically records many more tunes than he releases on any album (and even band members complain that he often chooses the wrong songs), this box set ranks higher than many of his “regular” releases. For those not willing to fork out the dough for a four-disc box, highlights from the set (along with three more outtakes) were released the following years as 18 Tracks.
As for true greatest hits compilations, fans have complained for years about the two that are currently on the market. Greatest Hits features nothing from his first two albums, and relies too heavily on Born in the U.S.A. and beyond. Four strong previously unreleased songs sort of save the day, though.
The Essential Bruce Springsteen should have been stronger as it’s a double disc set. But giving as much space to tracks from The Rising and Human Touch as superior albums such as Darkness On the Edge of Town and The River is a glaring problem.