Of these soundtracks, the only ones I can really recommend are Good Will
Hunting and The Saint, each of which I've given many listenings since
buying them. The others are more niche-oriented. Titanic sounds like
Enya on valium despite having been #1 on the Billboard Pop Albums chart
for the past 8 weeks; Full Monty has too many score tracks mixed in with
the disco; Wag the Dog is way too short (24 minutes?!); and many of the
decent songs in the movie Wedding Singer were left out of the soundtrack
CD Singles I've purchased in Feb and March 1998:
Jimmy Ray - Are You Jimmy Ray? (rockabilly dance)
R.E.M. - Radio Song (modern rock)
Will Smith - Gettin' Jiggy Wit It (pop rap)
Space Monkeys - Sugar Cane (chumawuma-style rock)
No complaints about any of these, as they all saved me the cost of
purchasing full CDs for the single worthwhile song on each of their
respective albums (exception: REM, which had some cool B-side rarities
despite the "Out of Time" album being worth owning).
Jazz albums bought in Feb and March 1998:
Basia - London Warsaw New York
Diana Krall - All for You
Diana Krall - Love Scenes
Krall's "Love Scenes" is presently the #1 Jazz album in the U.S., and
it's worth buying if you like white person (read: nonspontaneous,
overchoreographed) jazz. The other two albums are too weird to
Grrrl "Lilithfairesque" albums bought in Feb and March 1998:
Shawn Colvin - Steady On
Lauren Christy - Breed
Ani DiFranco - Little Plastic Castle
Ani DiFranco - Not a Pretty Girl
Patti Rothberg - Between the 1 and the 9
Jen Trynin - Gun Shy Trigger Happy
Here I recommend the two Ani DiFrancos -- she's riding the creative apex
of her career right now, and both albums showcase her skillz. The other
albums I cannot recommend because they each have only 1 or 2 decent
Swing albums bought in Feb and March 1998:
Big Bad Voodoo Daddy - Big Bad Voodoo Daddy
Cherry Poppin' Daddies - Zoot Suit Riot
I was hopeful, especially with Big Bad Voodoo Daddy who appear on the
Swingers soundtrack, but ultimately both albums above shy in comparison
to that soundtrack. So buy it instead. And if you really want another
swing album, buy Squirrel Nut Zippers' "Hot" album from last year.
Modern rock and pop albums bought in Feb and March 1998:
Cornershop - When I Was Born for the 7th Time (beatles-like)
Fatboy Slim - Better Living Through Chemistry (techno)
Forest for the Trees - Forest for the Trees (beck-like)
Natalie Imbruglia - Left of the Middle (lisa loeb-like)
LL Cool J - All World (street rap)
Madonna - Ray of Light (pop plus ambient)
Our Lady Peace - Clumsy (stone temple pilot-like)
Pearl Jam - Yield (pearljam-like)
Shania Twain - Come On Over (country rock)
Van Halen - Van Halen III (hard rock)
I like a lot of these albums. Cornershop is hard to describe - it's
like a rock fusion with pop sensibilities, and an occasional two
turntables for scratching. Really good after many listens.
Fatboy Slim I was originally very enthusiastic about but have since
gotten bored with. Rohit says they're better live than on CD.
Forest for the Trees sounds like Beck back in his "Loser" days, though
the amalgam of different instruments (who invited the bagpipe?) might be
too weird for some people.
Natalie Imbruglia has made a great little pop debut. Sounds like a
mixture of Lisa Loeb, 10000 Maniacs, and Alanis Morisette. If you like
them, you won't be disappointed.
LL Cool J's greatest hits album is missing some of his greatest hits
(where's "I'm the Type of Guy"), but for the most part it's got all of
his most enjoyable tracks without the filler that clutters up all of his
albums. Worth a buy if you're a rap fan.
Madonna surprised me. I expected not to like her Orbit-laced album, but
I do. The songs are epic and sweeping and patient, and it works. Sort
of in the same way U2's "Pop!" and David Bowie's "Earthling" and
Radiohead's "OK Computer" works. Bravo, Madonna.
Our Lady Peace are producing better PearlJam/StoneTemplePilot clone
music than any of the other clones (matchbox 20 bites!). This is a
better album than Marcy Playground's, though the Marcy Playground single
"Sex and Candy" is better than anything on this album (and quite catchy
too as Dr. Byars pointed out).
Pearl Jam have grown, but no one has grown with them. "Yield" is a
difficult album to love because the songs aren't hummable, but the album
is growing on me and in a month or two I might decide I can't live
without it. For now, the jury's still out.
Shania Twain currently has the #1 country album in the U.S., and with
good reason: this is the best country album to come out in the last
year. It learned the right lessons from hard rock acts like Def Leppard
on how to construct a guitar hook, and Twain's got a great voice.
I love this album.
I just got Van Halen III, but it's better than I thought it would be.
Eddie Van Halen has got to be one of the most talented musicians on the
planet, and the new singer is thankfully devoid of personality so he
doesn't screw up the songs with ego. He's kind of earnest, actually,
which makes for a pleasant sounding album. I think I'm gonna like this
one over the next few months.
For the rest of March I have 2 more albums I want to buy: Semisonic's
new one (yay, a decent bar rock band) and John Hiatt's greatest hits
(due out March 31).
In unrelated news, "Titanic "passed Star Wars this past weekend as the
all-time domestic grossing box office champ. It has now grossed $471.5
million in the U.S. and is still going strong. Tying with "Man in the
Iron Mask" at $17 million this weekend, "Titanic" has been #1 here for 13
weeks, which ties a record set by "Tootsie" and "Beverly Hills Cop" for
most weeks at #1. Next week's Oscars should give the movie another
healthy boost too (with a record-tying 14 nominations, it's bound to do
By the way, I need to pick a "first dance" song for my wedding.
Michelle and I have it narrowed down to:
Truly Madly Deeply - Savage Garden
I'll Stand By You - Pretenders
End of the Innocence - Don Henley
Crazy for You - Madonna
Love is All Around - Wet Wet Wet
Faithfully - Journey
Someone - Rembrandts
There She Goes - the La's
Without You - Motley Crue
Love Theme from Saint Elmo's Fire
Forever Young - Alphaville
In Your Eyes - Peter Gabriel
Save the Best for Last - Vanessa Williams
Just the Way You Are - Billy Joel
You're Still the One - Shania Twain
Too Much Passion - Smithereens
Hold My Hand - Hootie and the Blowfish
Michelle - Beatles
Will keep you posted as we narrow down the choices.
And as a special reward to those of you who made it this far reading,
here's an ice cream koan as your reward:
Joshu asked Nansen: "What is the path?"
Nansen said: "Everyday life is the path."
Joshu asked: "Can it be studied?"
Nansen said: "If you try to study, you will be far away from it."
Joshu asked: "If I do not study, how can I know it is the path?"
Nansen said: "The path does not belong to the perception world,
neither does it belong to the nonperception world. Cognition
is a delusion and noncognition is senseless. If you want to
reach the true path beyond doubt, place yourself in the same
freedom as sky. You name it neither good nor not-good."
At these words Joshu was enlightened.
Mumon's comment: Nansen could melt Joshu's frozen doubts at once
when Joshu asked his questions. I doubt thought if Joshu reached
the point that Nansen did. He needed thirty more years of study.
In spring, hundreds of flowers; in autumn, a harvest moon;
In summer, a refreshing breeze; in winter, snow will accompany you.
If useless things do not hand in your mind,
Any season is a good season for you.
-- Ekai, _The Gateless Gate_, 1228
[as quoted in _Computation and Human Experience_, Phil Agre,
Cambridge University Press, 1997]
Wallace has seen the path to my heart and it definitely involves
putting an iron mask on Leonardo DiCaprio and tossing him in a cell
where nobody will find him. Little twerp.
-- Mr. Cranky