Tuesday, May 31, 2016

CD's FOR SALE CHEAP



As I have been going through my collection and digitizing it for upload to the cloud, I have come across some duplicate titles that I am offering for sale here.

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Buy one CD and $6 gets it to your door (I pay the postage)

Buy four CD's for $20 and the postage costs you nothing (buy 4-9 CD's and they are $5 each)

Buy ten CD's for $40 and I'll charge half of what I normally charge for postage. Buy 10 or more CD's and they are $4 each!


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One exception to the above prices-for the item below marked PROMO, I am giving away the CD for FREE (not really mine to sell), and only asking for $3 to cover the postage. And if you buy four or more CD's, I'll give you the promo CD at no cost.

I may even throw in other promotional CD's I have accumulated over the years-would like to see them get listened to.


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I have sold on both eBay and Amazon under the name DiscConnected, and have favorable ratings on both sites so you can buy with confidence.

I accept PayPal or you can pay via a money order. Drop me a line at discconnected@gmail.com if you are interested.

I do not really plan to make this a retail site, but thought I'd see if any readers were interested in picking up any of these titles before I took them to a CD store for trade.

**updated June 1-found some more titles for the list

Monday, May 30, 2016

IS THERE AN ECHO IN HERE?

I know Stephen T. McCarthy will object to this post because it's discussing an Amazon product, but the technology is really quite remarkable.



After initially debuting as an invite-only beta-gadget for $99 (I was one of the lucky ones who bought in at that price), the Amazon Echo now retails for nearly twice that: $180.

I had been in the process of storing my music collection in cloud space that I lease from Amazon ($25 a year for up to 250,000 songs-and I will use all 250,000). I was using my Andriod phone to stream the music to a Bluetooth speaker at work, and the Amazon music app on an Android device leaves a lot to be desired (very slow and cumbersome).

The Alexa app on the same phone SCREAMS. You want to play a record in your library? You search, hit play, and it plays. I found that not just to show it off, I was using the Echo to play music for company since it was a lot faster than going up to the CD room and going through the shelves.

The device does a lot of other things, from ordering products (Amazon and others, including Dominos pizza) at a voice command, turning house lights on and off, opening your garage door and more (you need to buy wi-fi compatible products for your home for lights, etc to work via Echo).

I mostly use it to play music. As I stumble out of my bedroom in the morning, I say "Alexa, play Todd Rundgren" and it starts playing.

In fact, my only criticism to Amazon on the device has been to add a couple of wake up words other than Alexa.

Bob Lefsetz has been publishing his daily newsletter with insights into the music business for more than a quarter century. When the Echo was introduced, Mr. Lefsetz had this to say (From the Lefsetz Letter, 6/25/2015):


We thought Jeff Bezos might be the new Steve Jobs. The Fire Phone proved otherwise. Amazon throws half-baked products at the consumer. And now we have the imperfect Echo.
Not high praise, and my initial reaction was that since his blog seemed to indicate he was an Apple disciple, it may have just been that the product was from a different cult. But I also wondered whether he had tried the device or was basing this on other reviews.

The device was rated pretty favorably across the board-in fact, a site devoted to Apple had this to say (full review HERE): 



We’ve all seen how great it is talking to the computer in Star Trek…the computer understands everything you say and never does anything dumb.

Then there’s Siri, which often works but when she doesn’t, she puts you in a murderous rage.

Now there’s Amazon Echo, a nine-inch black cylinder that you can command to do certain things, like play music, set alarms, and announce sports scores.

“What is the weather today?” you ask; or “Order more Nespresso coffee capsules.”

So far, it’s understood just about everything I’ve said, and acted accordingly. It’s a strange thing to tell a computer to do something, and it does it every time.
At the moment, Echo is an odd duck product. It doesn’t do much that’s terribly useful, but it’s a glimpse of the future voice-connected home, and it works a lot better than you’d expect.



Earlier this year, CNet had this to say (full review HERE)


And even Mr. Lefsetz has come around, as he recently posted all about his Echo (from the Lefsetz Letter, 5/17/2016):


Alexa gets it right.



The Echo came with almost no instructions. Simple packaging. Not a work of art, like Jobs’s creations, but far from the old Microsoft where there’s so much info you’re inundated.

And then the lights started to swirl and I hooked it up to the wifi and Alexa was alive.

But she wasn’t loud enough.

A little research told me to twist her dial. Maybe that’s what the remote is for, the one that no longer is included because most people don’t use it.

And after asking Alexa a few questions, I hooked up my Spotify account.

Credit the Swedish streaming company. They’re horrible marketers, but great technologists. They’re on the Alexa bandwagon early.  You can’t use Spotify with Echo unless you have premium.

Alexa cuts out a step. Before the Echo, you had to think of a track and then find it, click it and play it.
But now… You just say the name of the track and act, tell Alexa you want to hear it via Spotify, and she cues it right up.





It seems to be pretty mainstream now, available at Best Buy, QVC and Bed Bath and Beyond.

Mr. Lefsetz made a Spotify believer out of me-I have the premium service, and it is starting to curb my addictive music spending. If I did not already have an entire room filled with CD's, I would not start now-with Spotify you can pretty much listen to what you want, when you want.

Echo is a high quality Bluetooth speaker, but if you are not an Amazon Prime user, it may not be for you. A lot of the convenience for me comes from the fact that all my music is on an Amazon server. The Bose Soundlink Bluetooth speaker that retails for the same price as an Echo does not have voice control but has better sound, and if you are just streaming Spotify, it may be a better option.


Amazon has introduced a portable Bluetooth speaker that has some Alexa voice functionality at a lower price-but that is a topic for a future post.

Now no matter what you think of Amazon the retailer, for any of you who are of a similar vintage to me, could your teenage self, as he picked him or herself off of the couch to turn the record over, have imagined this kind of technology would appear in his or her lifetime?


Friday, May 27, 2016

(FORMER) YES MAN

Less than a year after his collaboration with Jean-Luc Ponty saw the light of day, former Yes frontman Jon Anderson teams up with Flower Kings leader Roine Stolt on a new album, Invention Of Knowledge, which drops on on June 24 via InsideOut.



The music was recorded with assistance from keyboardists Tom Brislin and Lalle Larsson, bassists Jonas Reingold and Michael Stolot, drummer Felix Lehrmann, vocalists Daniel Gildenlow, Nad Sylvan, Anja Obermayer, Maria Rerych and Kristina Westas



Anderson had this to say about the project: “Music is always the driving force in my life – working with such a wonderful musician as Roine made the creation of this album very unique.”


Stolt added: “We’ve been inventing as we go along. Jon is an endless source of new ideas. It’s been a very interesting and rewarding time and the result is just insanely detailed.”




Monday, May 23, 2016

GET OUT OF THE WAY AND FOLLOW

It used to be that Bob Dylan was leading the way.




Without a doubt, the best lyricist of the rock era, and a long way in front of number two.




Make fun of his voice, make fun of what he does to his song arrangements in concert (I still remember Stephen McCarthy's brother Nappy commenting he wished Dylan would play the song he had just finished playing-the arrangement was that different and the singing may as well have been in another language), but you cannot make fun of the man's ability with words.




If he would only use it more often.










Fallen Angels is his 37th studio album, and his second in a row to feature covers of "classic American tunes."






We all know Dylan has done covers albums over his career, but I would have thought that at age 75 (tomorrow is his birthday), and with so many of his contemporaries discovering the next frontier this year, that he might feel the need to actually say something original.




I guess he did release an album of new Dylan material in 2012-it just feels like twenty years. It also feels like all he does is albums of covers (a Christmas album and the two standards albums over eight years).




Produced by Dylan under his Jack Frost pseudonym, the arrangements are low key, the backing band top notch, and the record is pretty much on a par with the last, and that one was top ten in 17 counties, debuting at number one in the UK.














The album is not horrible, but it is horrible unnecessary. Over two albums of Sinatra covers, has it occurred to Dylan that Sinatra is the better singer? 


Sorry to burst your bubble, Bob.





















The other thing that sticks in my craw is that Dylan is following a trend (covering the Great American Songbook) started by Linda Ronstadt and Rod Stewart.


No disrespect to Linda or Rod, but Dylan is following in their footsteps?


Mr. Zimmerman-you're supposed to be setting the bar!






Friday, May 20, 2016

WHEN YOUR PAST COMES BACK TO HAUNT YOU

I think we are all worried about those embarasing moments from our past that get resurrected when someone stumbles across something long forgotten, like when Mom breaks out the kid photos, or someone spots your high school yearbook on a shelf.

Since CD sales have tanked, it seems like record labels have one last marketing ploy up their sleeve to sell us, yet again, those things we have already purchased multiple times, and that is the complete artist catalog in a box set.

Todd Rundgren has never really been given a rarities box set, and he once made the comment that there was not much in the vaults, but I could easily compile a multi disc set between outtakes, the other producer mixes and special mixes from his No World Order experiment, and live covers of other artists' songs.



No luck there, but Rhino recently released a box set of Todd's catalog from his tenure with Bearsville. Entitled "The Complete Bearsville Album Collection" (oddly enough!), it is eleven albums over thirteen CD's all housed in cardboard record style sleeves and placed in a clamshell box.

Now there are some who have purchased Todd's catalog several times over (original records, casettes for the car, Rhino reissues, Rhino CD issues, Japanese LP replicas, UK reissues with bonus tracks, the Japanses Bearsville Box from the 90's, the Friday music 180g LP reissues...ya know, you may have a problem.

For anyone who falls into that category (and I am not admitting a damn thing), there is nothing new here for you.

However, for fans, this is an easy way to get most of his key releases (sadly, the two excellent Warner label efforts from 1989 and 1991 are not here and are essential!) at a smoking bargain!



Add to that that some of the discs are hard to find (especially the excellent Healing), and this is pretty much a no brainer.

What are you waiting for?

Why are you still here?



Back in the day, Todd's first solo hit came under fire from women's groups due to the lines "Talking 'bout feelings for that special one/They may be stupid but they sure are fun." 

I recently got an earful from a lady friend trying to make the same case.

Todd has explained that the 'feelings' were the object of the pronoun, not women. 

All you have to do is read some of Todd's other lyrics to understand how stilly the criticism is.

I guess criticism may be stupid but it sure is fun.


From the healing album (actually from a bonus 45 back in the licorice pizza days), this video had the distinction of being the second one ever played on MTV, after Video Killed The Radio Star.



also from Healing