Notes From The Flip Side: 01.19.2003
It is 2003.
I have been doing a zine for nine years. I have been doing this site for four.
And I have never explained why I call one of the most frequently updated parts of the site Notes From The Flip Side. The answer is simple.
Many years ago, 45s were an art. They referred to both a format and a speed - 45s were 7" singles, they played at 45 RPM. They were relatively inexpensive and provided people with two songs from an album, typically the single and another song, often thought to be not worth putting on the full-length record.
Since they were inexpensive and people typically bought 45s for one song, artists frequently did interesting things - a cover, some sort of stylistic experimentation, some random snippets of ... well, whatever ... with the B-side. The flip side. And the end of the record.
There are plenty of compilations that collect these outtakes and oddities. R.E.M. released an album of their B-sides and other recorded detritus called "Dead Letter Office." For my money, it's the best record they ever put out. It's the most adventurous and playful, the most experimental, awkward, fumbling and majestically beer-soaked music that the boys from Athens ever released. The second disc of the recent Replacements retrospective did largely the same, collecting brilliant, raw, painfully honest and incredibly hilarious material that never really saw the light of day.
But for the most part, these little bits of musical history fail to thrive. They languish for a bit and disappear, victim to most people's inability to flip a record over just to hear what's there.
And that's where I live. That's where this site comes from. And if I hadn't called it Punk Rock Academy, I probably would have called it The Unheard Music.
Sometimes, the notes on this page approach something meaningful. Sometimes, they're nothing more than drunken ramblings. Regardless of what they may wind up being, I always try to approach them in the spirit of the band in the studio which is trying to figure out what to do with those five minutes until someone says, "Hey, I've got an idea ..."
Off The Top Of My Head ...
- If you haven't already done so, you must hear the Communiqué MP3 on Lookout!'s site. It's simply astounding. I'm still sad that American Steel broke up but I can't wait to hear the full EP. I can't wait to hear the full-length. It's been a long time since I've been this excited about a record.
- And Ted Leo's disc hasn't even dropped yet. Nor has Fairweather's new album. My anticipation increases.
- And new Arrivals and Rainer Maria albums come out soon. My appetite is well beyond whetted. And supposedly this month will also offer new music from Blueline Medic to make my ears happy. If that's true, January will have been a lovely month indeed.
- Then there's Peter Guralnick's "Lost Highway" and "Sweet Soul Music." I picked them up over the weekend.
- Along with Alan Lomax's "The Land Where The Blues Began."
- And don't even get me started on my lust for the Dial / Savoy Charlie Parker box set that I saw. Or my yearning for the six-disc reissue of the Anthology of American Folk Music which was in stock. Or the box set of Woody Guthrie's Asch recordings which was on order. I am enthralled. And I have already ordered the latter two. As much as I love Charlie Parker, that one will have to wait.
I have spent a fair amount of time making mix CDs of late. You can look them up at Art Of The Mix if you're so inclined.
I've started a rogue's gallery. If you are one of the many people who has an STM / PRA shirt, kindly send me a photo of you wearing it with a little information about where you were.
Communiqué. Tom Waits. Velvet Underground. The Clash. The Specials. Uncle Tupelo. Wilco. X. Ryan Adams.
Italo Calvino, "t zero"
Thomas Wolfe, "You Can't Go Home Again"; Andrew Feenberg, "Questioning Technology" and "Alternative Modernity"; Steven Heller, "Graphic Design History" (edited with Georgette Ballance); Gunnar Swanson, ed., "Graphic Design And Reading"; Naomi Klein, "No Logo"