Sunday, November 30, 2008

Not even a little surprised

The great little-d democrat of the Western world, Hugo Chavez, is apparently going to try to "persuade" the people of Venezuela to reconsider their rejection of his presidency-for-life proposal. He wants to be president until 2019 or 2021.

I shouldn't have to say a word. Perhaps, once the Mesopotamian adventure has come to an end, President Obama can start dealing with backyard tin-pot potentates. Domestic misdeeds notwithstanding, it isn't like Venezuela isn't doing things on the foreign policy front that would worry anyone with a computer and a 12th-grade education.

Wait. It is. In a big way.

I just wonder how much more Venezuelan magic is going to go down before people start to say "no" to cultural ambassadors of a regime that is not even remotely pro-American.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Pop: Revise and Extend

After pulling out Louder Than Bombs and comparing "Shoplifters of the World Unite," I'm going to say that The Sound of The Smiths is probably on the nasty side of loud.

The newer record sounds good, but if you have headphones (or a system) with any forward lean at all, you're going to be reaching for the volume knob but quick. The Sound is a little heavier than the Sire Louder Than Bombs, which might be a source issue (analog vs. digital) or it might be because Johnny Marr and the other mastering engineers jacked the bass EQ way up to give the songs a heavier low end. Frankly, I'd rather do my own volume-boosting and EQ (though I try to keep it no louder than 50% with a flat EQ) than have some engineer deciding what I want.

The problem with a prolific band (at least on the singles and compilations front) is that you've got so much floating around that a one-stop-shopping-style collection is needed, but if it sounds wonky, then you might as well make a playlist with Louder Than Bombs and Meat Is Murder. A retrospective box set, mastered well from the original source tapes, would be much needed right now.

Final judgment on The Sound: Pretty good selection (and they pitch-corrected "You Just Haven't Earned It Yet, Baby") and the sound isn't as bad as most records today, but you're still better off with Louder and Meat if you want a quick introduction to The Smiths. Of course, you're best off buying as much of the discography as you get at once, since you might save some money on transport costs.

You'll buy it anyway.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Pop: "The Sound of The Smiths"

It seems strange, but the new compilation, The Sound of the Smiths, handles its place in the over-compiled oeuvre of a band without voluminous output nicely. I think, however, that Rhino needs to do for The Smiths what it did for Joy Division. That is, put out all the studio albums -- reasonably remastered (The Sound is loud, i.e., compressed, but it doesn't sound too bad, better than most, in fact) -- coupled with rare live performances or singles. I don't know that compilations, "Rank," or the like really need to be redone. A singles box and a rarities box wouldn't hurt the U.S. market, either.

We'll see, though.