Thursday, August 14, 2014

MA-12 - 45s & Favorites, Disc 1

The origin of the "45s & Favorites" series is simple.  A couple of years ago, my beautiful wife (you can view a poor representation of her in my profile pic) gave me an mp3 turntable for Christmas.

So, obsessive memory-miner that I am, I immediately began to spin the hundred or so 45s I had been buying as an adolescent in all stages.  After dubbing them, I had to decide what to do with them.  This was one of the springboards of Spock's Record Round-Up.

Mine may have been a typical middle-class upbringing.  The revolutionaries scoff at music and pop culture as diversions from the true struggle of the classes.  Not do such opinions make fun of the very people the snobs are trying to "edify," they can't get over another fact:

Yes, it's a truism that adolescence inflames our consciousness and makes pop songs seem profound when we're going through what the moon-June, love-above lyrics are talked about.  But the truth is still that something in us reacts with recognition or yearning to songs like these, maybe because we're so vulnerable to our surroundings as we gro.

Pupy love may be a common thing, but to the person going through it, it's a wonder.  The sun may come up every morning, but with thankful eyes it can still spark new joy.

When listening to songs like these that somehoe became part of my environment  as I grew, I can still feel an echo of those wishes or regrets or "dizzy, dancing way you feel" (to quote Joni Mitchell).

Back when Coca-Cola began using The New Seekers and "I'd Like to Build the World a Coke," wise guys in the merchandising department had some 45s pressed and distributed as giveaways in record stores.  That's the source of the first and last tracks in this group.

1     Buy the World a Coke       The New Seekers


2     Amazing Grace       Judy Collins  
3     House at Pooh Corner          Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
4     Anticipation     Carly Simon

5     Levon       Elton John
6     Long Ago and Far Away          James Taylor   
7 Brown Sugar    The Rolling Stones
8 Legend in Your Own Time Carly Simon
9 Joy to the World - single version Three Dog Night
10 What the World Needs Now + Abraham Martin and John Tom Clay
11 Roundabout Yes


12 Cover of The Rolling Stone     Dr. Hook
13 Back When My Hair Was Short - original version Gunhill Road
14 Woman Is the Nigger of the World John Lennon Plastic Ono Band
15 All The Young Dudes Mott The Hoople
16 Give Ireland Back to the Irish Wings
17 Sisters O Sisters Yoko Ono Plastic Ono Band
18 Little Woman Love     Wings
19 I Saw The Light Todd Rundgren

20 Little Bit of Sunshine The New Seekers 1971

You may hear some hiss or scratches.  That's because these are records.  They are physical artefacts which are touched by fallible human beings.  Like life itself, they are not in perfect condition.  And you're going to have both sides of a record.  Sometimes I like the "B" side as much as the "A" side.

MA-12 - 45s & Favorites, Disc 1

Monday, August 11, 2014

Book Review -- Work/Text: Investigating The Man from U.N.C.L.E., by Cynthia Walker

    If you want to read background info on the development of the U.N.C.L.E. series, this is a great source.  Cindy also surveys fan reactions with a sampling of actual giddy fans (like me).  Tons of references contemporaneous with the series.

    All of this fannish stuff is in the center of a bigger context, the story of a creative concept (call it a “site”) that goes forth from its inceptors to integrate with its various processors and bounce around in the heads of its perceivers, who also get into the act by responding in ways that affect the original inceptors.

    In other words, the show was developed with lots of input from varying sources, but it wasn’t a “closed” system or a finished work like a piece of sculpture or other “high art.”  Not only did U.N.C.L.E. (as a concept and an intellectual property as well as a TV series) develop and change at the creative end, it was also influenced BY THE FANS.  As we all know, U.N.C.L.E. fandom was the prototype for media fandom to come.

    This fan attention not only proved the value of the concept to the “owners” (NBC, Arena, etc) but also demonstrated a possessiveness (it’s MY show) that we also see today in our discussions of wearing black turtlenecks or the “flame wars” about if a new U.N.C.L.E. movie will live up to our expectations/demands.

    But this is also a reference work.  I was able to follow the various discussions of “theories of creative art” with some concentration.  Personally I believe in objective reality, including that a single-author thing (sculpture, novel, song, etc) has one “correct” meaning – that intended by the author.  But of course if that meaning “gets across” to the consumer, is another discussion.  And the more fingers in the creative pie, the more “meanings” can be passed along, to be unpacked (“read” in literary terms) by the consumer.  And the greater the variance in consumers, the more likely various meanings or messages are perceived (whether originally intended or not).

    The concept of a work/text is a great fit for U.N.C.L.E., with its give-and-take between fans, creators, the media, and the rest.  It seems with every voice the “site” had a chance to become both more specific and more diffused (a diffusion which eventually led to cancellation).  Yes, fans “read into” works, especially those works into which the fans invest themselves.

    On the bottom of page 291, when Walker discusses how the interplay between writer-creator-fan-consumer keeps a “site” active in the public mind, it reminded me of that line Dr McCoy says at the end of STAR TREK II  about the (temporarily) dead Spock:  “He’s really not dead ... as long as we remember him.”

    Thanks to Dr Cindy for all the tons of work involved.  If you haven’t had to write a “survey and criticism”-type research paper, you have NO IDEA how involved, draining, and attention-demanding such a process is.  She does a fine job of not just citing things, but giving enough references that I, although out of the game for a while, could get the gist of the cited idea, but also see how it fit into the point or narrative she was writing.

    If you want to learn more about U.N.C.L.E. and are also willing to confront extensive discussion of ideas and art concepts, as well as media culture, this is a great book for you!

PS:   The cover art is pretty cool too, showing kids watching the show as if it’s being broadcast from a short distance away, in the distance.  In a minute the agents will run off the street set and through the living room.  Isn’t what we all wished would happen to us?  Cindy writes, Suzi Lovett, a fan artist who has illustrated many MFU fan zines, created the cover art. She did a really nice job translating my vague idea into concrete reality and I am extremely grateful.

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© by Mark Alfred