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Rolling Stone Tag

Let me start by wishing you a very Happy New Year. As I said last week, it’s been a difficult year for many of us. Statistics tell us that the economy is getting better, but in my state, Rhode Island, you’d never know it. Unemployment is still high because there aren’t enough jobs to go around. Politics remain highly partisan, there is anger on the streets of America, and things overseas don’t provide a lot of reason for optimism either. I don’t about you, but it’s all really been getting to me this year. I know I’m getting older, but for the first time in my life, I’m feeling old.

David Ackles - American GothicI’m back. I’m sorry for my absence, but my move from NJ to RI was a massive undertaking. Then when I got here I couldn’t get my turntable to work probably. Everything seems to be sorted out now, so look for Cratedigger every other Saturday, same as it’s always been.

David Ackles only made a total of four albums, between 1968 and 1973. Fellow songwriters Elton John and Elvis Costello wonder why his music is not more well known. Costello once described the lack of recognition as a “mystery.” He also and made sure to credit Ackles as one of his major influences in his Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction speech in 2003. Perhaps Ackles’ music, a product of the combined influence of Broadway show tunes, Jacques Brel, Brecht and Weill, the English music hall, and the nascent Southern California singer/songwriter movement, weren’t trendy enough.

I was too young to experience many of the groups and performers featured here when they were in their prime. Sure, I heard the music of Led Zep, Dylan, the Rolling Stones, the Who, et al growing up, but I didn’t own any of their albums until the ’80s when I started my serious record collecting phase — which tends to happen when you get older and get a job.

Musicians, like everyone else without a trust fund, have to make a living, too — even those who made millions in the ’60s and ’70s. By the late ’70s/early ’80s,  many “older” rockers tried to stay relevant by incorporating stylistic flourishes that later became known as New Wave.  New Wave often (though not always) meant that that soulless contraption known as the synthesizer would find a way to weave itself into the fabric of a song.  Sometimes having synth sounds or electronic drums would be great; other times it would miss the mark and sound kind of, well, crappy. Whatever the case, here are six songs from very well known artists whose music was caressed by “The New Wave Effect.”


A couple months ago, Jeff mentioned to me that he was thinking of putting together the Ultimate Drinking Mixtape in time for St. Patrick’s Day. I got so excited that I persuaded him to immediately open the floor to suggestions from the Popdose writers. And the song requests flowed in.

As the resident souse of the Popdose staff, I felt it was my responsibility to filter through the ideas that emerged and weave them together into something slightly more coherent than the drunken rantings I’d occasionally find typed out on my computer during the extensive beta-testing process. Later, during gamma-testing, the songs started to find their ways into groups. Finally, when I reached the delta-testing phase, things had been organized into chapters that celebrate the many different aspects of that delightful elixir that can lift or lower our spirits, make us in turn beautiful or ugly, and loosen or tangle our tongues with equal abandon.

Here’s the full tape – 116 minutes of pure malt goodness, with some wonderful words of wisdom sprinkled in.  Just add liquor.

The Ultimate Drinking Mixtape

A playlist follows the jump, but I feel I must warn you – it goes down a lot smoother if you drink straight from the bottle.

So you say that your finances are under more pressure than Rod Blagojevich and you still have gifts to buy for the holidays? Join the club. When you think about it, books make a really sensible gift. In addition to providing hours of pleasure for your loved ones, they cost very little in the scheme of things, and with online discounters like Amazon offering free shipping for orders over $25, well, it’s somewhat of a no-brainer. I completed most of my list last week by spending less than ten minutes online, and the order arrived at my door two days later. No malls. No lines. No parking nightmares.

This year there are a lot of good book options for the music lovers in your life. None of the books that appear here cost more than $30 on Amazon, and most are considerably less expensive. There are coffee table books, and interesting biographies. Know someone who is not that interested in music? I’ve provided some good choices for them as well, with a couple of excellent novels, a wise and witty look at the first colonists of this country, and a biography of one of the pre-eminent journalists of the last half-century.

The books are listed in order of genre, not preference. Without further ado, here are my gift choices.

Coffee Table Books

Quincy Jones

The Complete Quincy Jones: My Journey and Passions – by Quincy Jones

It’s good to have friends, and Q has a lot of them. Before his own recollections even begin, there are introductory valedictories from the likes of Oprah Winfrey, Bono, Clint Eastwood, and Maya Angelou. This beautifully put together volume provides extraordinary access to a man who has been at the forefront of the music business for decades, working with everyone from Frank Sinatra to Michael Jackson. There are private notebooks, correspondence, and photographs, along with reproductions of report cards, track sheets, and accounting ledgers.

Slacktivist chimes in on the Prop. 8 debacle, and Keith Olbermann delivers a moving (and restrained!) special comment: [kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/W4xfMisqab8" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /] Hip new music on Alabama public television? Yes indeed -- check out We Have Signal, live from Birmingham; Jeff Vrabel braves his local megaplex