My foray into Vinyl

My birthday is in a few weeks and my wife got me a Denon DP-300F turntable. I hooked it up in my bookcase, wired it to a new Insignia NS-STR514 Bluetooth 2-way receiver (which also supports FM radio), drilled some holes and ran some new Polk T15 bookshelf speakers. This setup is quite the upgrade from the basic wireless speaker we have been using. We were also playing music through the TV, but the sound bar doesn’t sound too great. I also intend to Bluetooth our Echo Dot to the receiver for Spotify playback.

I’ve bought a few records and intend to grow my collection. I’ve set up a wishlist on Discogs and hope to score some good deals on some wanted records. I’ve set up a subdomain with my collection and you can view it at vinyl.aeonn.net. I’ve also added a link to it in my sidebar. I really want to secure the John Mayer 180g records. I have Battle Studies thus far, but have to save up for the others. I intend to spend a lot of my “hobby money” on records, but some of them are so darn expensive. Continuum will likely be my next purchase.

Add Retrojam Playlists to Spotify

Retrojam generates a visual timeline of popular music from your childhood based on your birth date. The tracklists require Spotify, but initially I didn’t find that I could easily add the Playlists to Spotify. After modifying each link, I was able to do so and now have a Retrojam folder of yearly playlists from Birth to Senior Year. Here’s how I did it.

On the Playlist, select “Play All” at top right.

Playlist

 

Click the share/embed button: “< / >”

Share

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Copy the full link to your address bar in a new tab.

Link

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scrub the link in this area…

Scrub_Link

 

…until it looks similar to this.

Clean_Link

 

 

Hit enter/return and the playlist should start playing in the Spotify Play Queue.

Screen Shot 2015-01-29 at 10.37.06 PM

 

Create a new Playlist.

Playlist

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then click on the Play Queue and copy the tracks to the new Playlist.

Play_Queue

We Are Here to Change the World

Captain EO may not be at EPCOT much longer based on what’s happened to it at Disneyland. I’m glad I got to see it both at Disneyland and Disney World. I’m really glad I got to watch it sitting next to my mom, who loved it a lot.

Here’s one track from EO, called We Are Here to Change the World.

If you have time, watch the full video of Captain EO.

33 1/3 – Michael Jackson’s ‘Dangerous’

When I received my first CD player in Christmas of 1992 I got R.E.M.’s ‘Automatic for the People’ and Rod Stewart’s ‘Vagabond Heart.’ My mom picked out the Rod album and my older sister suggested the R.E.M. CD. I remember walking through a store with my dad and seeing Michael Jackson’s ‘Dangerous’ CD on display and asking if I could have it. It was the third CD in my “collection” and I was so happy to replace the cassette that I had spent countless hours fast forwarding and rewinding certain songs that I wanted to play over and over again. I was also happy to have book-style liner notes as I had cracked the seams reading tiny lyrics on the cassette insert and it was in a mangled mess. Look at the tiny print.

DSCF0291

I already knew the album front to back, but the CD would allow me the ability to skip skip skip and skip back skip back, saving me a lot of time. MTV actually played music videos around that time and I would catch the occasional Michael Jackson ‘Dangerous’ short film. He didn’t make music videos, he made short films (Thriller, Black or White, Remember the Time). I was also about to join the Michael Jackson Fan Club and begin styling my signature, specifically the ‘M,’ like Michael Jackson’s. I still do to this day.

MJ-Signature

MKP_Signature

MJ-33.thirdI’m currently reading Susan Fast’s 33 1/3 series book about and titled ‘Michael Jackson’s Dangerous.’ Susan Fast gets this album. She breaks it down in several parts, explaining why it was a great Michael Jackson album, if not the greatest, and explaining why it was not successful for the mainstream. It’s a great look at a great Michael Jackson era which spanned the Oprah Winfrey interview, the assaulting “sexy panther back alley dance/destruction short” on the full length Black or White video, the Super Bowl XXVII half-time show during which he was catapulted on to the stage dressed in a gold and black military outfit and sunglasses. He remained motionless for a minute and a half, the croud cheering, and then sang lip-synced four songs. Also, this span covered Jackson’s Heal The World humanitarian efforts.

In this book, the 100th entry in Bloomsbury’s 33 1/3 series, each one devoted to a single album, Ms. Fast employs close readings of lyrics, musical production choices and video presentations to underscore little discussed aspects of Jackson’s creative output.

Ms. Fast contends that, at around this time, lurid media interest in Jackson’s perceived oddity began to eclipse formal appreciation of his work. So she breaks “Dangerous” into thematically rich sections: Jackson breaking with his old self, then switching to familiar modes to make bold political statements and then coming full circle. She praises his use of nonmusical sounds as narrative devices, and contends that Jackson, often painted as resisting the cutting edge, was in fact borrowing some of hip-hop’s angst and reformatting it on his terms.

‘Dangerous’ is such a fantastic album. Succinctly, here’s a portion of Stephen Thomas Erlewine’s review of Dangerous:

Dangerous captures Jackson at a near-peak, delivering an album that would have ruled the pop charts surely and smoothly if it had arrived just a year earlier. But it didn’t — it arrived along with grunge, which changed the rules of the game nearly as much as Thriller itself. Consequently, it’s the rare multi-platinum, number one album that qualifies as a nearly forgotten, underappreciated record.

If you were to ask me which is my favorite Michael Jackson album I might say ‘Off The Wall’ as it’s a complete work of genius. I might say ‘Thriller,’ because a lot of people do. I might even say ‘Bad’ if I think a little longer. I might say ‘Dangerous’ out of a nostalgic remembrance of the obsessive listening and memorization of the album.

I might say Disc 2 of ‘HIStory‘ as it seems to be the album I play the most. A lot of people, though, had already given up on Jackson by the time ‘HIStory’ was released and have no idea what music or album I am talking about. It was after sex scandals, weird marriages of convenience, and the always popular “skin bleaching” topic. It was the album that came out when Michael Jackson was the butt of many jokes. It birthed songs like ‘This Time Around‘ which features Notorious B.I.G., ‘Scream‘ with sister Janet, the gorgeous ‘Stranger in Moscow,’ ‘Tabloid Junkie‘ (my personal favorite), ‘Money‘ (with its eargasmic chorus), and ‘You Are Not Alone.’ There is so much good music on that record. On HIStory, Jackson is furious, lashing out, paranoid, vindictive, and out for blood. Read the New York Times review of HIStory from 1995 titled, ‘Michael Jackson Is Angry, Understand?

I’d love to see Susan Fast break down HIStory. I’ve read numerous times that ‘Dangerous’ was Michael Jackson’s fall from grace album. If that’s the case, and that is highly arguable as explained in Fast’s book, then ‘HIStory’ is his Phoenix album where Jackson rises from the ashes.

Motorola Buds

We get a lot of free “promo” stuff in this house from our jobs, either via contests and giveaways or items just showing up at the door unexpected. It seems 2013 Christmas season was focussed on Audio. We received 3 Bluetooth speakers: the attractive Bose SoundLink, the bassy TDK A33, and a colorful Logitech UE. The Bose, nestled in to our bookshelf in the living room, sees use when I sit in my recliner and cruise the internet. The TDK is in the master. We gave the UE to Sprout for Christmas to use with her iPad.

It was a lot of fun to keep receiving fun new products and then, out of nowhere, a set of Motorola Buds showed up on the doorstep. I love music and especially love listening to music through headphones but I hate wearing them because of the constant aggravation of the cord. My arms are always tangling up in it, or it’s draped across the keyboard annoyingly, or it catches on the countertop. I threw these on and made a swimming motion. They are lightweight, have excellently placed controls, have suprisingly balanced sound, and are very well designed. It’s wonderful being introduced to freedom from the cord. They have pushed me to strongly consider a pair of Studio Beats in hawt Matte Black, but I’d really like to get my hands on a pair of Sennheisers.

Motorola Buds

Lindsey Stirling / Vibrant Sound – Lawrence, KS

Took Sprout to Lawrence, KS to see Lindsey Stirling at the Granada. The show was amazing. Here she is doing a Michael Jackson medley of Beat It, Billie Jean, and Smooth Criminal. Good stuff!

She also did a cover of Journey’s Separate Ways and a medley of Legend of Zelda tracks.

Her opener was The Vibrant Sound. They were pretty spectacular also. Here they are doing a Marvin Gaye cover/sample.