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A-to-Z frivolity

Well, and time for some frivolity here in this Tohu Bohu. Your Humble Blogger noticed that the number of “artists” listed in his computerized music player topped 750 on the same week that he alphabetized the old CD collection, which led to the following picks. The difference is that when I was working with CDs (or cassette tapes), I generally had an album (or several) by a performer. Oh, I may have had a few Various Artists compilations, but not many, and you couldn’t do those alphabetically, anyway. Now my collection includes a lot of “artists” whose entire ouvre is represented on my hard drive by one song, and who show up in the list along with everyone else. I’m not getting into a rant (at the moment) about how briefly the album ruled, and how we’re getting back to the side as the economic and artistic unit. No, I’m just complementing my alphabetical leaders with a garnish of one-hit wonders, compilation cullings, and other solitaires.

A: Louis Armstrong (168 sides), and no real competition. Well, I’m fond of Laurie Anderson (33 sides), but come on. I do have one song from A Flock of Seagulls (no points for guessing which one).
B: The Beatles (90 sides). An easy choice, even if I’m not such a big Beatles fan as I might be. I’m tempted to go all contrary and pick the B-52s (29 sides), but really the only competition here is a sentimental favorite, the Baltimore Consort (97 sides). Lots of good Bs, though. The Band (12 sides), the Barenaked Ladies (55 sides), the Bare Necessities (22 sides), the Beach Boys (20 sides), Beausoleil (28 sides), Big Bad Voodoo Daddy (44 sides), the Bobs (44 sides), the Brian Setzer Orchestra (39 sides), David Byrne (77 sides). Let’s see, for my odd single, I’ll go with Birdsongs of the Mesozoic, from whom I have the “Theme from Rocky and Bullwinkle”.
C: Bing Crosby (59 sides). No, I’m kidding, I’m kidding. Elvis Costello (306 sides). And for my one, I must go with Chic and once again, no points for guessing which one.
D: Tough competition from Dave’s True Story (37 sides), Dire Straights (62 sides), Bob Dylan (59 sides), Devo (51 sides) and Dr. John (27 sides) who I will stick in with the Ds notwithstanding, and most of all from the amazing Bo Diddley (19 scorching sides) but it’s the Dirty Dozen Brass Band (81 sides). I think I’ll have to go with the Dead Milkmen for the single, since I only have “Punk Rock Girl”.
E: Duke Ellington (240 sides) is the clear winner, although a very respectable second place is Eddie from Ohio (109 sides). I should give props to the Eurythmics (38 sides), and to Ensemble Unicorn (31 sides), who are insanely great. Somehow, I only have one English Beat song, “Save it for Later”, so that’s my single.
F: Ella Fitzgerald (83 sides). No competition. No, Aretha (14 sides), no. No real competition for one-off, either, as I happen to have Falco’s contribution to musical history on the hard drive. Rock me!
G: Benny Goodman (170 sides). Fond as I am of the Go-Go’s (11 sides), they can’t really compete, can they? My single, I think, is the Gabby Pahinui Hawaiian Band with “E Nihi Ka Hele”. No, I just wanted to type that out. My single is George Guetary singing “Stairway to Paradise”. I’ll build a zhtairway to paghrrahhdeyyyyyyyyyyyse...
H: I think this is where Your Humble Blogger gets contrary and picks Hesperion XX (and XXI), even though there are only 22 sides on the hard drive (their stuff doesn’t show up used a hell of a lot). Sorry about that Billie Holliday (95 sides). Sorry, Jools Holland (13 sides). My all-alone, believe it or not, Gentle Readers, is John Wesley Harding, whose “When the Beatles Hit America” is all alone.
I: This was always a weak letter for Your Humble Blogger. I’ll go ahead and fill it with Imperial Teen (11 sides), even though I’m not a big fan. The single will be ... um ... the Ink Spots’ “We Three”. Just to avoid the obvious Billy Idol one.
J: Jim’s Big Ego (85 sides). No, wait, I’ll change to Joe Jackson (62 sides), who I’ve liked for longer. J is tough, you know. I think Etta James (92 sides) has a legit complaint, as does Louis Jordan (36 sides). For my only, I think I’ll pick Jimmy Johnson with the “Harlem Woogie”.
K: A surprisingly difficult choice. For years, my K was the Kinks (19 sides), but that was before Mark Knopfler (39 sides) had a solo career, and before I got into early music and the King’s Noyse (20 sides) or into Klezmer and my choice here, the Klezmatics (93 sides). Now, for a one-shot, I have another difficult choice. Katrina and the Waves, or the Knack? I’ll pick the Knack, but it’s a tough call.
L: Los Lobos (36 sides), easy. And for my single, it must be Lust Pollution’s rather terrible, magnificent, disgusting “Kubla Khan”.
M: The Bosstones are both Mighty and Mighty (53 sides), the Mills Brothers (24 sides) swing sweetly, but it would be Madness (28 sides) to pick anyone other than the Jelly Roll (38 sides). There can be no choice whatsoever about the single, in which M talk about (talk about) “Pop Muzik”.
N: The Nields (46 sides), if only on the basis of a wonderful concert. Well, several wonderful concerts, but one in particular. Ray Noble “The Very Thought of You” or Stevie Nicks “Stop Draggin’ my Heart Around”? Ms. Nicks.
O: Operation Ivy (27 sides) over Paul O’Dette (70 sides) and Roy Orbison (20 sides). Gotta get some punk in here, child of the 80s. Single is Sinead O’Connor singing “Someday My Prince Will Come”. Yes, the Disney.
P: Piffaro (36 sides), the Renaissance Band. Yes, over The Pogues (68 sides). Oh, yes, there’s that Presley fellow (24 sides), but I’m honestly not crazy enough about him to award him the letter. And no question about the single, which is the Polecats “Make a Circuit with Me”. Brilliant, and after all these years, one my hard drive!
Q: Queen (17 sides), mostly by default, although I do like them. No single, I think. Although it’s possible I missed someone, since the stupid underlying database doesn’t separate first and last names of individuals (or distinguish individuals from groups), so Fatha’ Hines is under E (for Earl), not under H. I mean, I could go and change them all to the form Telemann, Georg Philipp but I’m not going to. Of course, none of that changes the old alphabet problem of whether Queen Latifah is a Q or an L.
R: It’s the obvious here, R.E.M. (60 sides). It’s not obvious that they edge the Rolling Stones (51 sides)? Oh, well, they do. Actually, their competition is from Django Reinhardt (40 sides), but they win that, too. My single is the Romantics, and perhaps you can get a point for guessing which one.
S: Wow, this is not easy. Paul Simon (53 sides) combines with Simon & Garfunkel (31 sides) to top out the frequency, so I’ll give him the letter. Bessie Smith (37 sides) is tough to pass over. For my single, Kate Smith, and no points for guessing this one.
T: Talking Heads (75 sides), if only because They Might Be Giants (139 sides) inflates their quantity with the Fingertips. Mel Torme (75 sides) suffers from the low quality of some of the crappy stuff, although his peak is amazing. My single is home-town fellahs The Tubes, and no points for guessing, and if you don’t remember, well, don’t try too hard.
U: U2 (21 sides). Single is Michael Urbaniak’s “Butterfly”, although I haven’t listened to it in more than a year. I think that’s all the Us I have.
V: Violent Femmes (37 sides). Single is Van Halen’s “Ice Cream Man”. Just as a matter of curiosity, is Los Van Van a V?
W: The Who (47 sides), no surprise here. Much as I love Cootie Williams (19 sides as front man), if I give him credit for his stuff with Benny Goodman and Duke Ellington, I’m opening up way too much work, and if I don’t, he can’t win the letter. Dinah Washington (48 sides) edges the Who on quantity, but not on quality. For my single, I’ll pick Larry Wallis and “Police Car” from Live Stiffs Live.
X: No points for guessing, unless you also guess how many sides are on the hard drive. No single, either.
Y: The Yardbirds (14 sides). I know there are a fair number of Ys, but I never got into any of them. When I was sorting the CDs, I was tempted to file this one under C, anyway. Since I never bothered getting any of his other stuff for the hard drive, Weird “Al” Yankovic’s “Lasagna” makes an appearance.
Z: Buckwheat Zydeco (10 sides). Somehow, most of my Zap Mama never got onto the hard drive, so I can list their “Iko-Iko” as a single, but that would be cheating. The only Frank Zappa I own is “Tengo Na Minchia Tanta”, but then the only Dweezil Zappa I own is “Electric Hoedown”.

That took a lot longer than I meant it to. Ah, well, I had fun.

chazak, chazak, v’nitchazek,
-Vardibidian.

Comments

how do you decide what is and isn't a compilation? i haven't been able to figure it out. mostly because it's working around the "only one 'artist' please" silliness.

los van van, generally filed like the go-go's, though not by english sorts.

queen also walks away with the letter but "quintana" comes in here and there. for x, we have an album by the letter itself. i apologize for imperial teen as a selection - the letter though is a sentimental household favorite - we have a veritable bouquet of indigo girls.


In conversation, a CD called something like "Hits of the Thirties and Forties" is a compilation, as is a CD of music an acquantaince compiled from various sources. I would call something like the Muddy Waters Chess Box a collection, rather than a compilation, but then I don't use the check-off box in queries, so I'm not worried about it.
The restriction to one artist is quite annoying, particularly since one of the advantages of digital stuff is that you can point to it from anywhere. I have to pick one place on the rack for my Yardbirds CD, but there's no reason why my digital shelf can't have it next to my Clapton, next to my Derek and the Dominoes, next to my Cream, next to my Muddy Waters and next to Yo La Tengo.
No, no, I'm fond enough of Imperial Teen to have picked them over the Indigo Girls. Somehow, I never got into IG, so although there's enough of them to disqualify them for a single shot, they don't win the letter for us. You know, different people like different things. I could have picked INXS.
And I figured Los Van Van was a V. The other option, that it was named after a Mr. van Van, also makes it a V, anyway.
Thanks,
-V.


what surprises me about the artist thing is how easy it would be to fix. if you've used the mail program that comes with a mac now, you know that there's a comma-separated-object gizmo they already have in-house for adding addresses to an email. "VAR,CH" is all you need to type to get an email addressed to you and me both because the autofill separates by comma. anyhoo.

"i" now includes anglo-american, spanglo-american, cuban, brazilian, irish, chilean, and turkish. i was utterly, wretchedly sick of the girls (i have little patience for the details of romantic maturation) but the company they're keeping has brought me fresh ears for them as well.

los v-v is probably the most important band in the development of modern cuban music. if you like modern cuban music, which is UNBELIEVABLY BUSY AND BOISTEROUS, blame them, who wanted "only" to bring jazz, rock, soul, salsa, reggae, and samba to the cuban dance floor. if you could draw a direct line between santana and death-metal that's sort of what happened in cuba, in a similar amount of time.

i guess i'm not a hardcore person.

i don't know if this is of interest to you by-the-by but amazon is selling the incredible king oliver's creole jazz band: the complete set, a double disc, for about $14. this is a thoroughly repaired collection of 1923 records with louis in terrific ensemble form. generally this set sells for double that.


after i finished reading your rundown (and, unfortunately for allison, taking notes), i considered doing the same thing. not useful. what we have now has not much to do with preference, it's all price and availability. there are mild slants for jazz (except for mingus, any particular focus or avoidance is because of availability) and for girls over boys. girl works are much harder to find than boy works and are often $5 or more higher in price.

i could do a breakdown of the got-and-to-get list. even so, the overall program is buying volumes of music and throwing them in a shuffler because of their cohesiveness as albums so, stats don't really work except as i've been collecting them trying to make the shuffle thing catch and play the escapees.


"girls over boys" is wrong. it's more like, within the lists we have, a 1:2 split instead of the real 1:4. i thought about trying for even:steven. result: it is possible to waste a LOT of time at a used record store trying to find a particular albums by a particular female musicians. apparently what happens is a romantic thing. people totally fall for a particular female artists and every other woman in that style is ignored. you can't have enough boys in a particular style, on the other hand.


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