Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The Aftermath

Having almost finished my move (there are still a few lingering items at the old residence), I have been engaged in some disturbing introspection while attempting to unpack and generally bring the new place together. Two events have caused me to wonder if I need to maybe get into a fight or engage in some salacious drunken encounter this weekend in order to validate my Man Card:

1) I have a lot of shoes. Not Imelda Marcos-levels of indulgence but probably more than a single guy should own. They're all justified and necessary in my mind (running, hoops/v-ball, various states of casual and formal dress, general labor, steel-toed labor, hiking, all-weather, etc.) but when you gather them together and it require two oversize tote bins to transport them all, perhaps it is time to take a step back and reevaluate. I mean, that's a lot of fucking shoes.

2) I may have been heard to refer to my new shower curtain as "fabulous."

Hmm...I need somebody to shove.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Friday 1-Track

Moving is a bitch. Both my mother and my sister take sadistic pleasure in my everyday procrastination -- knowing that the movers show up tomorrow morning they keep calling me every night to ask how many boxes I've packed. My usual response is, "I've packed enough. Don't worry about it." Then I look around at my remaining possessions scattered everywhere and realize how close to fucked I am. I am standing tits-deep in boxes but I still haven't even considered how I am going to pack my clothes, linens, cooking accessories, dried goods, and cleaning supplies. It's going to be a long night.

So why am I rambling on about this? As an excuse for not having even thought about putting together a playlist for this week. This is the best I could do on limited time and brain power.

Bob Mould - "Moving Trucks" - The Last Dog and Pony Show

This was supposed to be the last album of its kind and the last big electric tour. Included with the album is a 30-minute interview with Bob in which he explains how it has been a long journey and he feels a little too old and ridiculous to keep putting on monstrously loud rock shows. With that in mind he was going to do one last tour with the big rig and then focus on songwriting and performances that were a little less bombastic (hence the album title). Fortunately the notion didn't stick for too long and he showed up to the 9:30 Club almost 18 months ago to put on one of the more exhilarating rock shows I had seen in a while. But back to this album. It almost feels like he was pouring every last bit of his "old style" into these songs to put a close to that period of his career. This track is one of the best on the album with its driving pace, droning open chords (thanks for showing me the chord changes Jawny!), big hooks, and anthemic coda:
Today is the day I forget about it / It's over, don't worry about it
Today I can open the window / Today is the day I can fly
Today I am starting the rest of my life / Today, I can touch the sky
And I can leave that beeping sound of that truck behind

Damn this song rocks! Now I wish I hadn't packed up all of my CD's. I need to download that shit...

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Ashes to ashes...

...dust to dust.

And so begins the most important time of year on the Catholic calendar, Lent. When I was subjugated by the faith during my early years I recall spending a lot of time considering what it was I was going to "give up" for Lent. In honor of J.C., sacrifices were to be made so that His disciples could empathize with all of the suffering endured for our Salvation. Given my young age during my personal bout with the parochial education system I usually came up with the same list each year; soda, 2 hours of cartoons per day (vice my usual 3), and then some form of candy that I didn't really indulge in anyway -- even at a young age I was a master of loopholes. Ahh, youth. Of course I still find my old joke of now giving up Catholicism for Lent to be endlessly amusing. My defense being that while most Catholics only observe Lent for 6 weeks, I on the other hand sacrifice year-round. Again, I am the only one in my family who finds this funny.

So like any good lapsed Catholic I went out and acknowledged the beginning of this period of piety by celebrating Mardis Gras. What a concept. Only the church could have driven its people to prepare for the faith's most important Feast by cramming as much mindless debauchery as humanly possible into a 24-hour period. Then again, in North Arlington the concept of Fat Tuesday is pretty tame.

For the second year I attended the Clarendon-Courthouse Mardis Gras Parade which is as quaint and family-friendly as it gets. Oh there were beads and drag queens and colourful costumes but there was also an absolute dearth of open containers and bare breasts. Really it was just a few hundred people happily lining Wilson Boulevard while kids ran around berserk trying to collect as many beads as possible. After watching the Ballou High School Marching Band process by (the irony not being lost on me that the band from the most underfunded and dilapidated school in Southeast was out entertaining one of the wealthiest school districts in the nation) I experienced the surreal epiphany that I may have at that moment been standing on Main Street, USA. Welcome to Magic Kingdom.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

like so much chattel...

Sometimes I think I have Adult ADD as I cannot consistently do any one task for an extended period of time. I constantly have stop, distract myself with some completely irrelevant tangent, and then eventually psych myself up to return to the task at hand. Hence I am banging out a pointless blog post rather than continuing about the chore of packing up my home, an activity which I have half-heartedly focused on for the last four hours. Progress has been made though I am a long way from being finished. But it is hard to focus right now as all of my worldly possessions are geometrically piling up about my apartment in various, temporary little cardboard homes.

Seeing the tangible product of one's own lifetime of consumerism is mildly unsettling. I have pissed away a lot of lucre over the years with little to show other than an ever-diminishing living space that has been blitzkrieg'd by an unconscious adherence to a life-philosophy of Completism. For the uninitiated, Completism is ultimately the lifestyle that is most antithetical to Utilitarianism. Utilitarian is how most historians describe the life and times of the Spartans, a mere 300 of whom managed to stand down Xerxes's army of 10,000 Persians during the Battle of Thermopylae -- that's a pretty strong endorsement. My lifestyle however, is pretty much the opposite of that. Odds are that 300 minimalist Spartans could never amass the amount of crap presently being packaged by one lone Arlingtonian.

Friends and family have wondered why, during my search for new housing, I have been quibbling over the difference of tens of square feet. As I bundle together my Life's Work, the rationale for my selectivity has evidenced itself. So far I have only packed up the "non-essentials," those items that are not necessary for me to clothe, bathe, feed, groom, or generally take care of myself; nor anything work-related as well. At this point, the ship's manifest reads as follows:

(6) guitars
(2) amplifiers
(2) boxes of guitar effects and music-related incidentals
(5) boxes of books
(6) milk crates of CD's
(1) box of DVD's (and more arcane media formats)
(1) sadly large box of Star Wars shit
(1) oversized Rubbermaid tub of home entertainment equipment

Even during my last move those long nine months ago, I did not stand back and take stock of my possessions. I was so interested in getting out of my little shoebox of a house before the roof caved in, that indexing all of my crap did not occur to me. But this pending move has elucidated much about my state-of-being and I am finally starting to Get It. These things, this chattel, these avatars of my culture-saturated existence, these possessions that possess me...they give me comfort.

They give me love. And I love them.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Friday 8-Track

Pitchers and catchers have reported to camp and Spring Training is officially underway. In honor of the birth of Spring, the Boys of Summer, and the impending Fall Classic, it's baseball week on the Friday 8-Track. The Nats are already looking to resemble the Indians of Major League so all we can do is hope for the best. "This guy's dead! So cross him off the list."

Randy Newman - "Burn On" - Sail Away

The lilting, sardonic gait of this song (both lyrically and musically) was the perfect theme for the opening sequence of "Major League." This dry recounting of the night the Cuyahoga caught on fire was an apt metaphor for the hopelessness of the Indians team portrayed in the film. And unfortunately will, in all likelihood, be equally appropriate for what looks to be the longest season in the history of Washington baseball. "Burn on, big river, burn on."

John Fogerty - "Centerfield" - Centerfield

I bet nobody saw this one coming. (Yeah, right.) Yes indeed it is a song about baseball, a great song about baseball, and it even references The Mudville 9. But the real charm of this tune, and why I always hum it at the ballpark, is its use for the montage in Bull Durham when the Bulls and Ebby Calvin "Nuke" LaLoosh go on their big win streak. In my humble estimation, this is the definitive movie about America's Pastime capturing all of the overly-romanticized metaphors of the game and its simple joy. "I believe there ought to be a constitutional amendment outlawing Astroturf and the designated hitter."

Dropkick Murphys - "Tessie" - Tessie [EP]

I wish my team had a rally song this awesome. It's got some great history behind it and the Murphys' revved up punk version definitely captures that Boston Southie spirit. Maybe Bad Brains can write something for the Nats.

Dire Straits - "Walk of Life" - Brothers in Arms

I always associate this song with ball because of the outfield bloopers that were used for the video. Plus its got a boogie beat similar to "Centerfield" so I guess I often recall the songs in tandem. What this song has over "Centerfield" is that Mark Knopfler can play rings around Fogerty. The guy has got technique out the wazoo and the tone coming off his Strat on this track is sweeeeet.

Alabama - "Cheap Seats" - Cheap Seats

This has got to be one of the cheesiest bands ever but they nicely summed up the minor league experience in this tune. Although nowadays I have been to minor league parks that put RFK (and others) to shame, there is a romance that comes with shitty beer, a shitty park, a shitty team, and shitty seats that roller coasters and between-inning gimmicks can never top.

The Allman Brothers Band - "Jessica" - Brothers and Sisters

Remember that scene in Field of Dreams when Costner is cruising down the highway in that VW bus (I think it was a VW)? "Jessica" was playing during that scene and it was then that it became one of my cruising tunes in the ol' Millennium Falcon (that would be my black '87 Chevy Celebrity) -- Sony Discman with the tape cassette adapter flopping around on the 2/3 split bench, windows down, Allmans cranking, and me thinking I was born about 20 years too late. And oh yeah, I think that movie was about baseball.

The Outfield - "Your Love" - Play Deep

I'm really reaching here; it was tough coming up with eight songs today. Anyway, it is a little interesting that this British band used baseball terms/metaphors for the names of their band and their first album. (Although they could also be cricket references.) Here's a random aside, did you know that the bridge to this this song and the bridge in "Jessie's Girl" are almost identical? So similar are they that when we rehearse the medley we do of these songs, that I constantly get dirty looks from my band mates for singing the wrong middle 8. Of course the parts are interchangeable so you would not notice unless you were really listening for it. Fun facts from the 80's!

Bruce Springsteen - "Glory Days" - Born in the USA

I think that this was the first album where The Boss dropped the and The E Street Band moniker. The ultimate song about your best days as a stud on the diamond having long passed since passed. My buddy and I joke about this song when we work out because he was a really good pitcher in high school but admittedly couldn't really "throw that speedball by you." I guess he was more of a finesse pitcher. In a few years, I wonder what my tales of Glory Days will be about. Hopefully something cool...

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

A reunion even bigger than The Police?

Probably not, from a commerical standpoint, but I have a feeling it might be a little more satisfying. A little more organic. G-d I hope they come to DC.


Best Valentine's Day ever. Why? Snow day.

I should probably use the time to start packing but I haven't picked up any boxes yet, so I imagine there will be a lot of goofing off instead. However I'll need to watch at least an hour of Saved By The Bell this morning before I can begin making any decisions about the rest of the day. Maybe I'll go hunting through the icy streets of Courthouse for a Valentine. I can't be the only slacker dodging work this morning. Who knows, it could be a wintry wonderland in Arlington today.

Question: Which one is better, Valentine's Day or Sweetest Day?

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Oh the weather outside is frightful...

...but in Viera, Florida pitchers and catchers report to camp. All 37 of our invited pitchers. It's gonna be a looooong season.

An Open Letter to Chicken Little

Mssr. Little,

It appears as if the sky is not yet falling. My morning commute was the same as it ever was ("same as it ever was, same as it ever was...") save for a few snow flakes here and there. Imagine my surprise when I woke up this morning to find the world having not ended, the heavens still intact, and the ground not covered in a hazardous brew of ice, snow, and frogs. And I cannot help but feel a little duped.

What a fool I was to actually stop at the Teeter yesterday and purchase items such as milk, eggs, and bratwurst (for what is a snow day without beer and brats) alongside the thousands of cautiously optimistic Arlingtonians all quietly hoping for a legitimate Sick Day. But alas, you were wrong and I am right -- right here at work, that is. So I ask you Chicken, why do you lie? Why do you taunt? Why do you so consistently fail in your prognostications? And why did I believe you this time?

Now I am aware of the dangers of tempting Fate, and calling you out like this may in fact curse we with a wretched eastward commute home. There is still plenty of low pressure left for something nasty to yet to occur and the day is young. But until that happens, I call you a punk and a liar and I shall no longer be subscribing to your newsletter.



Monday, February 12, 2007

Fun Facts

Thanks to Garrison Keillor and The Writer's Almanac, this morning I learned that Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin share a birthday -- the same day and year. Two men with lasting and controversial legacies, I think this makes for an interesting little coincidence for a Monday morning.

There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having
been originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.
-- Charles Darwin, Origin of Species

Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue, until all the wealth piled by the bondman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said "the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether." -- Abraham Lincoln, Second Inaugural Address

Friday, February 09, 2007

Friday 8-Track

My buddy has a coworker who each year around this time puts together a mix CD entitled Valentine Schmalentine. In honor of that and the most complicated of Hallmark holidays, is this week's installment of the Friday 8-Track.

Gus Black - "Don't Fear The Reaper" - Scream: Music From The Dimension Motion Picture

Yeah, yeah "more cowbell." Go ahead and get it out of your system. Cool? OK. Given a lot of B.O.C.'s other material, I doubt that the lyrical intent of this song was to be a creepy ode to love and a suicide pact, but that sure as hell is what it sounds like. Now take Gus Black's slow, brooding cover from the Scream soundtrack and the cringe factor is almost unbearable. "Came the last night of sadness and it was clear we couldn't go on..." Yikes.

The Smiths - "There Is A Light That Never Goes Out" - The Queen Is Dead

Desperation confused for love. A character so desperate for escape from his home that he falls in love with his savior and opines that "To die by your side is such a heavenly way to die." Could such a sentiment come form anyone other than Morrissey?

The Replacements - "Valentine" - Pleased To Meet Me

Yesterday I sent an email to a friend proclaiming "Johnny Reznick wishes he was Paul Westerberg." She had posted her thoughts on the Goo Goo Dolls concert at the 9:30 Club and how it transported her back to her college days. Like a prick I had to make a little dig about how the Goo Goo Dolls are nothing more than an ersatz version of The Replacements -- that's how I roll. Anyway, this is how you write a pop song and the best part is, I have no idea whether this is pro- or anti-Valentine. Either way it's great. "If you were a pill, I'd take a handful at my will. And I'd knock you back with something sweet and strong."

Gram Parsons (w/ Emmylou Harris) - "Love Hurts" - Grievous Angel

I don't know why it is that the cheesiest version of this song, ever, became its most recognizable. Nazareth? Come on. But for the definitive version, a real painful torch song, Gram Parsons hit this one square on the head. Talk about suffering, this one really burns.

Squeeze - "Another Nail For My Heart" - Argybargy

I feel like I'm still discovering this band after all these years. Probably too eclectic for their own good, from a commercial standpoint, the irony is that a song like this will probably end up covered by some whitebread female act on the soundtrack to a Renee Zelwegger movie and it will have none of its teeth. One of those classic upbeat pop songs that's all about a love gone away, Glenn Tilbrook has the enviable talent of being able to put a really good hook to a story.

Liz Phair - "Fuck and Run" - Exile In Guyville

This song depresses the shit out of me. That stupid "White Hot Cum" song was titillating just for the sake of being shocking and had no real substance. This tune from her first album however, is the real thing. Talk about an unhealthy pattern.

Bob Mould - "Black Sheets Of Rain" - Black Sheets Of Rain

Angry songs don't get much angrier than this one. Never one to spend much time looking on the bright side of life, Bob opens his second solo album with a scorcher. It has got his trademark huge, droning guitar and some of his most miserable lyrics ever. "Slag heap keep growing higher, every morning the sky it's on fire. And it's only 9 AM again."

Josh Rouse - "Ugly Stories" - Under Cold Blue Stars

This album, my favorite of his, is supposed to be a pseudo-concept album. The lyrics (and track sequence) following the story arc of a young couple in love up through marriage, infidelity, and reconciliation -- guess which theme this song addresses. I'm always amazed how pretty sad songs can be. To incorrectly paraphrase Nick Hornby, "Did I listen pop music because I was miserable, or was I miserable because I listened to pop music?"

-- Bonus Track --

So I thought I should add one, un-ironic, non-bitter track selection for this week's theme.

Wilco - "California Stars" - Mermaid Avenue Vol. I

When it comes to pop music, sometimes the simplest songs are the most resonant. I've never been in love with a woman (real love, not infatuation) but I have fallen in love with a song. Woody Guthrie wrote the words over 40 years ago but Jeff Tweedy brought them to life with a simple melody, three chords, and a sparse arrangement. This song never gets old and it is one of the prettiest ways I could imagine saying, "I love you."

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Best Halftime Show Ever

Is there any doubt that Mr. Prince Rogers Nelson is one of the greatest performers alive? In the rain, in high-heeled boots, with the Florida A&M marching band and the man didn't miss a beat. I was a little suspicious when I heard he would be doing the show and half-expected to hear some awful new material or maybe witness a stunt to one-up Janet, Ms. Jackson If You're Nasty's nip slip. But instead he followed the old adage and gave the people what they wanted. Here are my notes as I recall the performance:

"Let's Go Crazy" was an obvious but still excellent opener. It was a bit sloppy and rushed but given the environmental elements at play, I thought it was as good as it could be. Nice to see the Hohner model "Telecaster" with the leopard-print pick guard. I doubt that was the original from the Purple Rain era but visually, it took me back.

Three covers, "Proud Mary" -- which worked great with the FAMU band and who better than Prince to rival Tina Turner, "All Along the Watchtower" -- sort of by-the-numbers but I thought a fitting homage to half of his stylistic legacy, and the completely out of leftfield cover of the Foo Fighters' "Best of You" which was AWESOME. It sounded fantastic and I was digging the teal American Strat (unless it was a copycat model) with the floating tremolo bridge and the two-pickup scheme (Lace sensor single coil and humbucker). I would have to think Dave Grohl was feeling pretty excellent when he saw that.

And of course the majesty that is "Purple Rain" with that "symbol" guitar of his and the suggestive shadow puppet show. That song still holds up after over 20 (!) years with the big outro and falsetto wail. All in all I thought it was one of the best halftime shows ever (no doubt) and it was great to see Prince shred a little on his axe. Sometimes I wonder if most people know what an incredible guitar player the man is so it is always cool to see him showing off his chops. Well done.

Monday, February 05, 2007

So you wanna be a rock 'n roll star?

As unpredictable as the weather is Arlington nightlife in the winter. One of the coldest nights of the season on Staurday and yet everyone in the municipality seemed to be out at one of three or four bars. My band played The Clarendon Grill that night and I haven't seen the place turn into a zoo like that since our Cinco de Mayo show there last year. It is amazing what plenty of alcohol, close quarters, loud music, and an excuse to rub up against one another will do to people. Anyway, it was a great time but I do have some points of etiquette that I would like to share from the band's perspective. So here are a few tips from Stage Left:

1) Stay off the fucking stage. I know it's hot and crowded and everyone is having a good time, but stay off the fucking stage. I know how awesome it would be for your friends to see you and take some pictures of you wiggling up here, but stay off the fucking stage. I know everyone tells you what a lovely voice you have and that you should be in a band, but stay off the fucking stage. You see your drunk, wobbly, high-heel'd ass climbing onto the stage with a drink in your hand makes us very nervous as there is a lot of expensive, hard-to-get, boutique equipment up here so pretty please, with sugar on top, stay off the fucking stage.

2) We don't want your money. The club pays us and you pay the club. So when you throw cash at us on stage, that makes us feel dirty. Besides which you should probably hold onto that money as a) your Members Only jacket was looking a bit worn and b) I am pretty sure those bills were in some stripper's crotch at one point or another -- no thank you.

3) I am sorry, but that is the only Journey song that we play. Why are you taking this personally? It's not that we know any others and are choosing not to play them just to piss you off. What I mean is, we only know one Journey song. Why are you yelling at me?

4) Yes, I will gladly wish your friend a Happy Birthday and no, you do not have to buy us a round of shots for a simple shout-out.

5) I swear to g-d, that is the only song by Journey that we know.

6) OK, OK we will "play some fucking Skynrd" if you just please stop yelling that at us between songs. We've got a lot of material we want to perform for you but if you really want to hear "Sweet Home Alabama" then we will capitulate if only to keep the dance floor grooving. But you have to promise that you won't ask for any more Southern Rock. Please.

7) He's not that into you. From my perch four feet above the crowd I have had a good view of the entire room all night. Earlier I saw him grinding up against that girl, and that girl, and that girl, and that girl. Your (sober) friend is not being a bitch/prude, that dude is in fact a scumbag. Listen to the person who actually cares about you and do not have another shot.

8) First of all, thank you for waiting until between sets to request a song. And thank you for being polite rather than drunkenly screaming out your request in my face -- I know that we are the hired help but it is still nice to get a bit of courtesy. I am sorry that we don't know that particular song but perhaps there is something else you would like to hear that we do know.

9) Yes, I love talking about gear. Ask away.

10) I am very flattered and would like to meet your friend but I only have 15 minutes until my next set starts and many, many, many of our friends and family made a special point to come out and see us tonight and I have barely said five words to them. Maybe next time.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Friday 8-Track

Well it looks like it is almost a lock that The Police will be embarking on a huge reunion tour. When I was in high school and going through my Classic Rock Phase, I though that these were the coolest things in the world because I could see the bands that I had missed by a generation. As a I got older and my tastes refined, I began realizing how expensive, contrived, and cheesy these shows really were. However The Police have remained at the top of my list of bands I always wished I could see -- along with The Pixies who I finally saw and they absolutely blew me away, and Uncle Tupelo which will probably never happen. This Police tour has the potential to be great (if they decide to really rip into it and get interesting with their set lists) or a positively boring run-through-the-numbers. Either way I will plunk down my $100 to see it just in case I get the former, all the while expecting the latter. So this week's installment is in their honor. Here's hoping for a great show.

"Truth Hits Everybody" - Outlandos d'Amour

So, whenever you hear The Police on the radio it's always the same old thing and you never get a feel for how hard they could hit it (no pun intended). Well here's a good example. I hope they can bring this kind of energy to the tour and not just sit on their vanilla laurels a la the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame performance.

"Message in a Bottle" - Regatta de Blanc

OK, obvious choice but it has got one of my favorite Stewart Copeland moments. In high school my friends and I spent an inordinate amount of time talking about -- arguing about -- things like who was The Best Drummer. There were the usual suspects like Moon, Bonzo, Ginger Baker, Mitch Mitchell (Steve Gadd and Jeff Porcero if you wanted to be a real obscurantist), and of course Copeland. My buddy and I still joke about a this guy in our school who loudly declared during one of these bull sessions that "You can't even begin to talk about drummers without mentioning Stewart Copeland in the first fucking paragraph!" Indeed. Anyway, I love that shuffling snare and hi-hat fill right before the outro vamp.

"Synchronicity I" and "Synchronicity II" - Live!

These two tracks make a great opening pair for the second disc of this album which is from a 1983 show in Boston. It's not as raw as the '79 show on the first disc and the band is at the top of its game live. In a way it sounds like over time they traded some of that wild energy for an increased level of musicianship but they certainly found a nice balance. I like the way that the frenetic and slightly scattered rhythms of "I" give way to the straight-ahead driving pulse of "II."

"King of Pain" - Synchronicity

This is perhaps my favorite Police tune as I think it is so very well written. There are two major character traits which I associate with Sting; 1) he is a megalomaniacal prick and 2) he is one of the finest songwriters of the last 30 years. Some people just have a gift for melody and lyric and although there is a lot of throwaway shit that he has written over the years, even after that the resume stands strong. The great thing about this song is the way the tension builds from the sparse intro up to the big hit of the first hook -- it just opens up into that beuatiful circular chorus. Another nice aspect is that arrangement-wise, this could have ended up as a pretty and lilting mid-tempo song wihtout any real teeth. But the drive is also there with the thumping 8th-notes on the bass and those tight snare snaps. All-in-all it makes for a great song that I have heard thousands of times and never grow tired of.

"Walking on the Moon" - Regatta de Blanc

Personalities may clash but there are some musicians that are just meant to play together. "Walking on the Moon" is one of the best examples of how well the individula members' talents melded together; Sting's voice and songcraft, Stewart Copeland's tight syncopated grooves, and Andy Summers. Summers probably gets the least amount of credit for his contributions but this guy could play, and so tastefully. On the live disc, you can hear how flexible he is on a track like "Can't Stand Losing You" but here it's very laid back and just right. I always liked Andy because he was a Telecaster man and his signature delayed, chorus-drenched tone still does not sound dated like so many other players from that era.

"Spirits in the Material World" - Ghost in the Machine

This track has dark vibe to it with a looping sort of "up-down" beat. It's got those syncopated reggae rhythms that really influenced the band but with their own pop spin to it. Definitely one of those songs to put on at the end of the night as you sink into your intoxicated haze before punching out.

"So Lonely" - Live!

This appears on both the '79 (disc 1) and '83 (disc 2) shows and is another good example of the contrasts from when they were starting out and when the band was the biggest thing in the world (and in only 4 short years). I love this song and have always wanted to play it live, especially at the raucous tempo from the '79 show. Dynamic contrast is so important in a good song and this one's got it in spades. The verses are mid-tempo and again have that syncopated reggae beat, but in the chorus the tempo feels like it doubles (not quite) and rips into a driving 4/4. The fact that the song does this again and again until it just explodes on the outro (for the live version at least) makes for perfect live fodder. Plus, if you're going to sing about having nobodt you might as well rock while you're doing it. "In this theatre that I call my soul. I always play the starring role, so lonely!"