Posted in Male Author, Nonfiction

Review ~ Ashes to Ashes

This book was provided to me by Repeater Books via NetGalley for review consideration.

Cover via Goodreads

Ashes to Ashes: The Songs of David Bowie, 1976-2016 by Chris O’Leary

From the ultimate David Bowie expert comes this exploration of the final four decades of the popstar’s musical career, covering every song he wrote, performed or produced from 1976 to 2016.

Starting with Low, the first of Bowie’s Berlin albums, and finishing with Blackstar, his final masterpiece released just days before his death in 2016, each song is annotated in depth and explored in essays that touch upon the song’s creation, production, influences and impact. (via Goodreads)

Why was I interested in this book?
Like many people of a certain age, I was ensorceled by David Bowie as the Goblin King in Labyrinth (1987). My parents listened to the local rock/classic rock radio station, so I was familiar with Bowie’s hits, songs like “Space Oddity,” “Ziggy Stardust,” and “Changes.” But after Labyrinth, I became a fan. Never Let Me Down (1987) was one of the first albums I bought on my own. I lucked out; starting in the 90s Rykodisc started releasing his back catalog.

What Worked
Ashes to Ashes is an incredibly comprehensive look at David Bowie’s works from 1976 (the album Low, one of my favorites) to the end of his career (2016’s Blackstar, an album I still haven’t listened to very much). Every song that Bowie wrote, sang, covered, co-wrote, co-produced, or hummed a few bars on a television show is given an entry. I might be overstating, but only a little. By going through each of the songs in the order of their creation (or performance), O’Leary provides a very through biography of Bowie.

Each song has an entry that contains information on the song’s writing, production, and the musicians involved in its recording. There are also stories attached and, in the case of the first songs recorded for a new album, information about the album. The 700 page work (the second of two volumes) contains an amazing number of crunchy tidbits.

What Didn’t Work…For Me
I don’t know much about music and music theory, so some discussions about the musical makeup of songs went over my head. O’Leary is also not an entirely objective reporter. He definitely has opinions about certain songs and certain albums. And occasionally these views differed from my own not-objective opinions.

Overall
I read Ashes to Ashes over a series of months, listening to each album, each song as I read about it. I learned a great deal about David Bowie’s solo work and many collaborations and I gained new appreciation for albums both familiar and relatively new to me. As a fan, I consider Ashes to Ashes worth the time I spent on it.

Publishing info: Repeater Books, released 2/12/19
My Copy: ePub, acquired through NetGalley
Genre:
nonfiction

Posted in Readathons-Challenges-Memes

Bout of Books 7.0 – Soundtrack Challenge

Carter Beats The Devil by Glen David Gold

Cover via Goodreads

Gold’s debut novel opens with real-life magician Charles Carter executing a particularly grisly trick, using President Warren G. Harding as a volunteer. Shortly afterwards, Harding dies mysteriously in his San Francisco hotel room, and Carter is forced to flee the country. Or does he? It’s only the first of many misdirections in a magical performance by Gold. In the course of subsequent pages, Carter finds himself pursued by the most hapless of FBI agents; falls in love with a beautiful, outspoken blind woman; and confronts an old nemesis bent on destroying him. Throw in countless stunning (and historically accurate) illusions, some beautifully rendered period detail, and historical figures like young inventor Philo T. Farnsworth and self-made millionaire Francis “Borax” Smith, and you have old-fashioned entertainment executed with a decidedly modern sensibility. (via Goodreads)

The book is set in the early 20th century. These songs are not from that time period. I’m apparently from the Baz Luhrmann school of scoring. Also, I’ve been writing a book involving magicians of this time period. Concepts are munging together in my head. In a good way.

Abney Park, “Until the Day You Die”: Might be the perfect song for this book. The lyrics fit and Abney Park indulges in some mashed-up 20s electro jazz.

Ramona Falls, “I Say Fever”: Just seems to fit. And a evocative video.

Michael Penn, “No Myth”: Again a song that just seems to fit. About secrets and knots and identities.

Suzanne Vega, “No Cheap Thrill”: Card games! There is a very important card game trick in which…Carter beats the Devil.

Good Co, “Zebra Donkey”: More electro swing. Plus a donkey.

Cake, “Love You Madly”: Ending with another perfect song. This one pretty much epitomizes the romantic plot. (I wanted to use official videos when I could. This one has…cooking. *shrug*)

Posted in Uncategorized

Yesterday was cold (for March in AZ) and windy without the chance of rain. My least favorite weather, and I was feeling…not spiffy. I got a fair amount of work done, but would have been perfectly content to remain at my desk. I was not up for a challenging game of ultimate.

We played our second crossover game against Nate’s Mark of Zorro, an upper half Wednesday team. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Would the wind help us or sink us? Would a Wednesday team with a better record lay a smack down on us, or would the Weds team playing on their off night be so short handed it would be like playing half a team? The reality was none of those things. During a couple points, the wind was a factor, but both teams generally handled it well. We’re pretty good against zone and Zorro didn’t throw it often. Zorro was missing Tom, which would have changed the dynamic somewhat, but otherwise seemed intact. We started out with a full squad, but Melanie was feeling poorly and left after a few points. In the end, the score was 12-11, Zorro winning in hard cap.

I must say, Zorro probably has the strongest group of female players I’ve come up against this season. Granted I wasn’t feeling great, but chasing them around the field was rough. I limited my efforts on offense and stuck mostly to D. Overall, my memory of the game is blurry. More so than usual.

I overslept this morning and didn’t get up until nearly 9:30.  Apparently, my body needed the rest.

—###—

A List Apart: Articles: The Elegance of Imperfection
Nanoparticles in Sunscreen Damage Microbes: Scientific American

Academic Earth – Video lectures from the world’s top scholars
Haven’t had a chance to check this out yet, but it seems interesting.

Vital Signs – Online Calculator Gives Risk of Type 2 Diabetes – NYTimes.com
QDScore web calculator
Algorithms make simplifying complex problems seem more valid and scientific. This does not make them necessarily helpful.

Listening to:
KMFDM on MySpace Music – Free Streaming MP3s, Pictures & Music Downloads
It’s been a while since I’ve really liked a KMFDM album. It will be a while longer.

Posted in Uncategorized

Play on!

I’m browsing through Amazon.com’s Top 50 Albums of 2008. They’re offering them as MP3 downloads for $5 each.  I am, of course, befuddled by how much of this list I am utterly unfamiliar with. Most of it is not to my taste or sounds very much like music that’s already been made.  But I’m not going to get into that.  The list made me interested in looking at how 2008 has treated me musically.

2008 brought me legal DRM-free music in the form of Amazon.com.  Previous to this year, I hadn’t bought much digital music.  Most of my paltry music purchases have been in this form, and my collection has also grown through Amazon’s random free tracks/samplers that I may or may not have actually listened to.  The best of these have been Medieval Voices by Sredets Chamber Choir and The Very Best of Naxos Early Music, which is still free as of the time of this writing.  Very pretty stuff.

Other acquisitions in chronological order:
~Brother Sun Sister Moon’s Luminous, 2002 album that I was happy to finally find digitally.
~Abney Park’s Lost Horizons, one of the very few (two?) 2008 releases I purchased.  It has clearly gotten the most play.  Bought it digitally, directly from the artist.
~Imogen Heap’s I Megaphone, 2006 album that had been on my really-should-purchase list for at least a year.
~NIN’s Ghost Tracks that were available for free that I didn’t care for, and The Slip (still available for free) which is almost a return of good Nine Inch Nails.
~Kerbdog‘s other album.  Free acquisition.  Haven’t listened to it much.
~Murder by Death.  I purchased most of Red of Tooth and Claw with Pepsi points.  I really like this album, especially the post-apocalyptic “Rum Brave,” but I’m unconvinced the rest of MbD’s catalog is any good at all.  (Just realized that this was a 2008 release! That’s three!)
~Eisbrecher’s Suende.  This band will probably be this week’s OMM.  While I didn’t purchase KMFDM’s 2008 release, I was all over this.  Not avaiable in CD form.  Thank you, Amazon.com and your selection.
~Jace Everett, “Bad Things”  A rare single purchase.  This is the titles music to True Blood.  Loved when I heard it, had to have it.  Even if it is country.
~Nightmare Revisited, 2007. The full-album cover is just a spiffy idea to my geeky mind.
~Darling Violetta’s Parlor, 2003.  Another album I was happy to finally be able to purchase in digital form.
~Belinda Carlisle’s Heaven on Earth album. Impulse buy.  Damn you, Amazon.com. and your $0.99 album sales!
~Everlast’s “Folsom Prison Blues” is the other single I heard and had to have.  I have a soft spot for Everlast.
~The Fifth Element soundtrack.  Bought it for my birthday.  Good gaming music and the only CD acquired.

So, yeah.  Not much “new” music.  I guess I’m getting old and can’t understand the young people’s noise.

Posted in Uncategorized

Now you’re doing it on purpose. How juvenile.

My package from Amazon.com arrived.  Yay! 

Rob Zombie’s new album, Educated Horses, did not disappoint.  It’s maybe more White Zombie-ish that his first two solo albums.  Eric commented that the tracks he heard sounded Marilyn Mason-ish.  Probably with good reason since Zombie includes John 5, former Manon guitarist.  To me it sounds slightly…southwestern horror.  I have a great love of the western combined with horror.  Give me the Weird West any day, or From Dust Til Dawn.  Or a great Richard Laymon novel like  The Stake.  And this album fits that perfectly.

Reading.  Not doing much else.  Well, aside from the procrastinating…

One thing I realized.  When I’m reading someone else’s book, I don’t (can’t) appreciate how much effort went into its writing.  Reading my own, I see just how many things were discussed and fought over, but now it’s so beautifully seamless.  Let me break my arm off, but damn this is a good book.

Disc tonight.  Wellness appointment tomorrow before disc.  I should figure out someway of being productive between the two.  I need Father’s day cards, so maybe I’ll head back to McClintock and Elliot and shop…   Maybe I’ll just take lots of reading materials.