(As 1/3 of the Riverside County Library System inter-library loan (ILL) department, I help patrons get items from libraries outside of our system. I also collect ILLs myself. I usually go for hard to find albums, or albums I slept on…. or things I just don’t want to pay for. It’s all legal.)
1/ Heartbreaker / Ryan Adams (2000)
from Portland Public Library, Maine
owned and scratched
owned and lost
I’m pretty much over my alt-country/RA days, but oof I was in love for years. My copy is hiding and torn to shit. I got into (David B)Ryan Adams when I caught “So Alive” on late-night MTV (2003?). If Rock n Roll came out today, I’d probably hate it (especially if it was still stylized as ⅃⅃OЯ Ͷ ꓘƆOЯ), but Heartbreaker holds up pretty well to this day. Betrayal and longing (by and for the same person) are covered in “Come Pick Me Up” and “Call Me On Your Way Back Home.” Both “Oh My Sweet Carolina” and “In My Time of Need” cover desperation and bad luck (or bad choices), but the latter carries a weight of pity I’ve not found in any other song (except maybe for Peter Gabriel’s “Don’t Give Up”). The ender “Sweet Lil Gal (23rd/1st)” sounds like it could have been recorded for his follow up Gold, and it’s a shame Gold‘s songwriting is lost in glossier production.
I remember this one having to grow on me back when I started grabbing any and all RA I could, but I have a different reaction now: the sparse production is easier to listen to, and “rockers”* like “Shakedown on 9th Street” are as posing as Rock n Roll really was. Adams may or may not be chasing Heartbreaker for the last 20 years (I don’t really care) – either way, it’s still his defining record.
*I hate this term so it works
2/ Reasonable Doubt / Jay-Z (1996)
from Landmark College Library; Putney, Vermont
I kind of… ignored..? Jay-Z until 2001’s Blueprint, when he (successfully, out the gate) assassinated Nas, who at the time was one of my favorite MCs. But in 1996 I was still developing my taste for hip hop, and I took pride in what I was discovering. This, of course, was me finding my own after learning the ropes from my brother (who got me into ATCQ, De La); a Columbia and/or a BMG subscription brought me into my own with The Score, The Coming, It Was Written, Stakes Is High, and Beats, Rhymes & Life. The summers of 96 and 97 were filled with these, along with a teenager’s dedication to Puff Daddy, which I would abandon when everyone from MTV to Miller’s Outpost promoted a return to hip hop’s elemental roots: rap was now a subjective element that some got right, and others got wrong.
I’M GETTING TO A POINT HERE I SWEAR
For the sake of hip hop, I lumped Jay (and even Nas at the time) with the cheddar-centric P Diddy – they were rap, not hip hop. I look back now and see how ridiculous that is, but for the most part, mainstream rap was pretty much garbage in the late 90s/early aughts (hello NastradamusMYGAWD). But shortly after Blueprint came out, Anthony, a friend and coworker at Superstar Video, leant me his copy, swearing Hov was the greatest and that this was the proof. I didn’t hear Jay as the greatest, but I certainly recognized my mistake: he was one of the greatest, and Blueprint remains one of the reasons why. (I am, however, completely correct in knowing the Eddie Murphy’s Raw is better than Delirious – that shit hasn’t changed, Ant!)
Now this: I’m finally listening to Reasonable Doubt. Wearing my ignorance on my sleeve, I thought Jay’s early flows were wiggity-fidgity fast but Jay proves on this first effort his masterful switch up (“J-A-Y hyphen, controllin, manipulatin/n I got a good life, man…/ Pounds and pence/ ‘nough dollars make sense, while you ride the bench”). The album is a tad dated – “Bounce, bounce… bounce..” – but even the mafioso rap is uniquely his: Jay manages to push his street life in the past on his debut album, as if what will follow will define him.
3/ 3-D: The Catalogue / Kraftwerk (2017)
from Napa Main Library, California
The strangest thing about this album is that it was marketed as a live album. Even with complaints I’ve read about so-called “mispressings,” and people admitting that it’s strange that there’s no audience sound, no one read the goddamn credits: the last page clearly indicates that this was remixed at Kling Klang by Fritz Hilpert. I’m pretty sure the only live aspect about this set is Hütter’s vocals (evident in his charmingly aged voice). Some discs in this, like Tour de France and The Man-Machine, are practically remix albums, as they do not rely on live voice recordings. And The Mix is labeled as disc 7 – chronologically in sync with 1991’s The Mix, released between Electric Cafe (album 6) and Tour de France (album 8) – but it has nothing do with its namesake: in this set, it’s a headphone remix of various tracks from the other 8 discs.
This box set’s identity problem aside, the mix is superb. The beats are refined, heavy – similar to the 2009 remastered box set, and the actual live album, Minimum-Maximum. When I first got into Kraftwerk – 2003: I bought Computer World on vinyl on a I’m-into-electronica-now whim – I quickly bought up their beat heavy albums shamelessly. Computer World and Tour de France were my first loves; The Man-Manchine‘s and Electric Cafe’s best moments are precise boom baps. This box set works as a sample of their great 2012 – 2017 3D Tour (which I was lucky to catch in 2014 with Jessalea in Los Angeles), a hybrid of live and studio.
4/ Star Wars: Dark Empire [Collector’s Set] (1995)
from the Community Library; Ketchum, Idaho
hard to find
out of print
Yeah, this was a disappointment. Obviously, the print version of Dark Empire I & II has Cam Kennedy’s brilliant and brutal art, and aside from Tom Veitch’s course for the post-Empire Rebels, there’s not much I remember from the comic. I had hoped this to be half revisiting the material, half immersing myself back into the SW universe after the disappointment of The Last Jedi.*
The main plot – that Luke would turn to the dark side in order to destroy it – is what I wished they had done with Rey’s story in TLJ, and they could have done it in a way that was uniquely theirs. I’m sure it was easier – especially as a licensee, like Dark Horse Comics – to take risks… especially in comic book form, compared to the far more lucrative move of making a blockbuster movie. But I would love, love, to be sitting here, more than a year away from Episode IX, waiting to see how they handled Rey’s redemption.
BUT ANYWAY, I haven’t completed listening to this full cast recording yet – it really starts to get sluggish by episodes 3 or 4. For one, the exposition is kind of corny (and pales in comparison to other audio-shackled SW recordings, most notably the excellent Daley radio programs), with the Emperor telling us “Wait! Don’t tilt the bed! Ooooough!” when attacked by Princess Leia. The rest of the story is lost in strange dialogue order and thin casting.
*I’ll take this moment to rant:
– my issue isn’t the lack of action: it’s the fact that the main plot – let’s slowly chase them in space until the run out of gas – was sooooooooooooo boring.
– it wasn’t that the women were calling all the shots – it’s that all of the shots they called either made no sense (Rose’s “sacrifice”) or were plot devices (Captainscornfaced Holdo’s secret plan… that failed)… and ultimately.. failed. I’m not saying that Star Wars shouldn’t have strong female characters, let alone leads, but Riann Johnson’s examples are not solid examples, and I’m baffled how this has fooled anyone
– I honestly believe that Poe Dameron could have been a strong character that was a) a rebel, one that fought for the cause and b) still listened to his female superiors. He was written as a sexist foil. (Rewatch it.)
– dropping. bombs. in. space. and losing 30 ships per battle doing it. (Which was not comedy, oddly.)
– I can totally back having Luke and Yoda abandoning their teachings – look at where it got them, amiright?? – but I feel that RJ seized the opportunity too soon.
– I was on board to have Rey fall to the dark side – giving Finn, Poe, something to do in the next film – but that was quickly abandoned.
– the near death of Princess Leia (which fans have been sobbing over since they alluded to it in the trailer) and the “our princess” dedication felt exploitive.
– the choreography of that epic battle is laughable. It’s so epic, some of it’s in slow motion, which didn’t really help it: At the beginning, arguably after YEARS OF REST, the Stylish Red Guards of Sith Death totally miss Rey and Kylo Ren after their initial clash for the sake of grandiose flourishing. This is style over substance.
-in the same fight: please, and I am totally open to this: please tell me how Rey dropping her lightsaber would get her out of the guard’s hold?? PLEASE. (Someone pointed out in this video’s comments that, at :38, the same guard fails to just stab Rey in the back with his free blade, and no, I won’t hear ANYTHING about that gaff – “honor” pfft)
-Rose: Rose was boring and shoed-in. Just because she’s lost someone doesn’t mean she’s strong… just because she saves animals* doesn’t mean she’s righteous. Like her stupid flippy haircut and basic ass hair tie, I found her character totally uninteresting. So when she falls in love with Finn – apparently off screen, because I never saw it – she’s that more unneeded. *while failing at her mission
-who the hell cares what they do next.
– oddly, the porg were my favorite addition this movie, and really, I loved all the creature design
– the visual of Admiral Holdo’s sacrifice was breathtaking (even though it makes no sense)
– Kylo Ren is still the best character of this new series – flawed, childish, erratic
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