Saturday, January 31, 2015

The best Dutch #1 hits: 47. 99 Luftballons (Nena)

As posted here, the Dutch top40 chart celebrated its 50th birthday in January this year. When I posted about that event, I included my top50 songs that made the top40 chart in the past. I was intrigued how few of my favourite songs actually made the #1 position, so the rest of the year I will be posting at a rate of one a week (on Saturday, the day the top40 was broadcast) my countdown of fifty favourite #1 hits. At #47, we find German band Nena with their biggest hit (#1 in 1983). I like a few other songs by them even better, but they did not make #1. Art Rock score: 8/10 (great song, I'd put it on my MP3 player).

YouTube

Friday, January 30, 2015

Remain in light

One of the best albums of all time with one of the most striking covers as well: the 1980 album Remain in light by the Talking Heads (we brought this album to a vinyl evening at the local record store this week). The cover image of the distorted faces of the band members is one of the first computer-designed record jackets in the history of music, at a time when computers were still huge and slow (full story in this very informative Wikipedia entry).

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Auschwitz

Once more one of my attempts at digital art based on my own photographs, created with the free software SuperPhoto that came with my new laptop. This creation was triggered by yesterday's memorial for the 70th year of liberation of the most infamous Nazi death camp. One of the most emotional moments in my life was our 2008 visit to the remains of this site in Poland. The image is of an art installation in one of the camp houses. The link leads to the original photograph.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Death by celebrity

It has taken the Slovakian pop group Sponvika three years to come to terms with the tremendous success of their debut album, which sold millions of copies all over Europe. The sudden superstar status of singer Josip Dvorak led to severe arguments within the group, a number of cancelled tours, and repeated postponement of the studio sessions of their second album. Well, that album finally arrived on my desk yesterday, and the title, obviously meant to be ironic, is unfortunately quite to the point. Gone are the catchy rhythms and beautiful tunes, and there is not much else that has come in its place. A pity.

The idea of this little game is to create an album cover for an imaginary artist/group, as well as an imaginary review, following these instructions:

[1] The artist/group: go to the wiki random page generator. The first random Wikipedia article obtained this way is the name of the band or performer. In this case, I ended up with Sponvika.
[2] The title: go to the random quotations site. The last four words of the very last quote of the page is the title of the album (from 2014 onward: any part of a random quotation will do). The random quote that came up was by Kent Nichols and Douglas Sarine: Here's a tip to avoid death by celebrity: First off, get a life. They can't touch you if you're out doing something interesting.
[3] The illustration: pick a suitable one from my Flickr collection. My picture, The long sleep, can be found here on Flickr. The on-line editing was done with the programme On-line image editor, the font settings selected were Algerian 35 black and Madison Square Incised 50 black, respectively.

Note: this is a variation on the "Debut album game" that has been making its rounds around bulletin boards and blogs for some time now - the original version called for a random Flickr Explore photograph to be used as the cover. I have been trying to find out who had the original idea, but so far no success.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

The best Dutch #1 hits: 48. Pretend (Alvin Stardust)

As posted here, the Dutch top40 chart celebrated its 50th birthday in January this year. When I posted about that event, I included my top50 songs that made the top40 chart in the past. I was intrigued how few of my favourite songs actually made the #1 position, so the rest of the year I will be posting at a rate of one a week (on Saturday, the day the top40 was broadcast) my countdown of fifty favourite #1 hits. At #48, we find British retro-rocker Alvin Stardust with his catchy cover of the 1953 song Pretend (#1 in 1981). Art Rock score: 8/10 (great song, I'd put it on my MP3 player).

YouTube

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Safety net

More and more, my photography tends to be on the abstract side. This is a recent example, fishing nets used for decoration during the Christmas celebrations in Kampen, reduced to an abstract line play. It did not make Flickr Explore, but given the many reactions and faves, that must have been a close shave.

Camera: Canon IXUS 115 HS, 12 Megapixels, handheld
Exposure: 0.100 sec (1/10)
Aperture: f/2.8
Focal Length: 5.0 mm
ISO Speed: 1600
Post-processing: Picasa 3.0

Flickr

Monday, January 19, 2015

Boy A

This 2007 movie directed by John Crowley came with a poster that is simple but beautiful. As usual though, I could not find information on the designer.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

The best Dutch #1 hits: 49. Paint it black (Rolling Stones)

As posted here, the Dutch top40 chart celebrated its 50th birthday in January this year. When I posted about that event, I included my top50 songs that made the top40 chart in the past. I was intrigued how few of my favourite songs actually made the #1 position, so the rest of the year I will be posting at a rate of one a week (on Saturday, the day the top40 was broadcast) my countdown of fifty favourite #1 hits. At #49 we find the Rolling Stones with one of their biggest hits (#1 in 1966). Art Rock score: 8/10 (great song, I'd put it on my MP3 player).

YouTube

Friday, January 16, 2015

Inspired

Almost a year after her previous appearance in this blog, here we have another mesmerizing abstract by my Flickr friend sannesu. Glad she posted again on Flickr after such a prolonged absence. As usual, all rights retained by the creator.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Minorville

One of the outstanding album covers of recent years, even though I have never heard the music, and with Derek Minor being described as a Christian rapper, never will. The album cover designer is not easily retrieved, but in the credits "photography" is ascribed to Robby Klein.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Decoration

One of my favourite shots that I took over the festive period. A close-up of a paper Christmas decoration, turning it into an abstract.

Camera: Canon IXUS 115 HS, 12 Megapixels, handheld
Exposure: 0.017 sec (1/60)
Aperture: f/4.5
Focal Length: 12.8 mm
ISO Speed: 400
Post-processing: Picasa 3.0

Flickr

Saturday, January 10, 2015

The best Dutch #1 hits: 50. Take on me (Aha)

As posted here, the Dutch top40 chart celebrated its 50th birthday in January this year. When I posted about that event, I included my top50 songs that made the top40 chart in the past. I was intrigued how few of my favourite songs actually made the #1 position, so the rest of the year I will be posting at a rate of one a week (on Saturday, the day the top40 was broadcast) my countdown of fifty favourite #1 hits. First up is Norwegian band Aha with Take on me (#1 in 1985), which is a brilliant video to boot. Art Rock score: 8/10 (great song, I'd put it on my MP3 player).

YouTube

Thursday, January 08, 2015

Love is not a bandage to cover wounds

If ever there was a debut album where band name, album title and cover design matched the music, it is this one. The moment I had it in my hands, I thought "Postrock!", and I was right. Tunisian Company of Electricity and Gas hail from Birmingham, a five member collective ranging from 21 to 25 years old. Their album is somewhat in the style of Mogwai, but their original instrumentation (including on different tracks a harpsichord, a bandoneon, and a pipa) makes their sound unique. Warmly recommended for lovers of the genre.

The idea of this little game is to create an album cover for an imaginary artist/group, as well as an imaginary review, following these instructions:

[1] The artist/group: go to the wiki random page generator. The first random Wikipedia article obtained this way is the name of the band or performer. In this case, I ended up with Tunisian Company of Electricity and Gas.
[2] The title: go to the random quotations site. The last four words of the very last quote of the page is the title of the album (from 2014 onward: any part of a random quotation will do). The random quote that came up was by Hugh Elliott: Just because you love someone doesn't mean you have to be involved with them. Love is not a bandage to cover wounds.
[3] The illustration: pick a suitable one from my Flickr collection. My picture, These dreams, can be found here on Flickr. The on-line editing was done with the programme On-line image editor, the font settings selected were BattleLines 30 yellow and Rockwell Extra 19 black, respectively.

Note: this is a variation on the "Debut album game" that has been making its rounds around bulletin boards and blogs for some time now - the original version called for a random Flickr Explore photograph to be used as the cover. I have been trying to find out who had the original idea, but so far no success.

Sunday, January 04, 2015

Fifty years of Dutch Top40

This week, the Dutch Top40 celebrated its fiftieth anniversary. The link leads to the excellent web site dedicated to this chart, and just for fun, here are my fifty favourite records that made the Dutch top 40 over those 50 years.

1. Kayleigh (Marillion, 1985, #16)
2. Private investigations (Dire Straits, 1982, #1)
3. Killer Queen (Queen, 1974, #3)
4. Vincent (Don McLean, 1972, #17)
5. The sound of silence (Simon and Garfunkel, 1966, #10)
6. I'm not in love (10 CC, 1975, #5)
7. The man with the child in his eyes (Kate Bush, 1978, #27)
8. Street spirit [fade out] (Radiohead, 1996, #28)
9. Don't give up (Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush, 1986, #4)
10. Samba pa ti (Santana, 1973, #11)
11. Baker street (Gerry Rafferty, 1978, #9)
12. The winner takes it all (ABBA, 1980, #1)
13. Lyin' eyes (Eagles, 1975, #19)
14. Cloudbusting (Kate Bush, 1985, #11)
15. American Pie (Don McLean, 1972, #11)
16. Silent lucidity (Queensryche, 1991, #27)
17. Wildflower (Skylark, 1974, #23)
18. Bedshaped (Keane, 2004, #26)
19. Easy livin' (Uriah Heep, 1973, #5)
20. Song to the siren (This Mortal Coil, 1984, #29)
21. Through the barricades (Spandau Ballet, 1986, #3)
22. New year's day (U2, 1983, #11)
23. The first time ever I saw your face (Roberta Flack, 1972, #9)
24. Old and wise (Alan Parsons Project, 1982, #19)
25. Hou me vast (Volumia!, 1998, #2)
26. Year of the cat (Al Stewart, 1977, #6)
27. Under your thumb (Godley and Creme, 1981, #18)
28. White rabbit (Jefferson Airplane, 1970, #3)
29. With or without you (U2, 1987, #2)
30. Vienna (Ultravox, 1981, #1)
31. Give up your guns (Buoys, 1972, #5)
32. Ashes to ashes (David Bowie, 1980, #11)
33. I hear you now (Jon and Vangelis, 1980, #7)
34. Real men (Joe Jackson, 1982, #15)
35. Space oddity  (David Bowie, 1969, #4)
36. On the border (Al Stewart, 1977, #5)
37. Torn (Natalie Imbruglia, 1997, #2)
38. Sebastian (Cockney Rebel, 1973, #2)
39. Kristallnaach (BAP, 1983, #8)
40. Miss Sarajevo (Passengers, 1995, #5)
41. Time of the season (Zombies, 1969, #12)
42. Stimmen im Wind (Juliane Werding, 1986, #27)
43. Wake me up when September ends (Green Day, 2005, #35)
44. Andorra (Colin Blunstone, 1973, #26)
45. They dance alone (Sting, 1988, #29)
46. Virginia plain (Roxy Music, 1972, #21)
47. Goodnight Saigon (Billy Joel, 1983, #1)
48. Nothing compares 2 U (Sinead O'Connor, 1990, #1)
49. Don't look back in anger (Oasis, 1996, #33)
50. Belfast child (Simple Minds, 1989, #1)

web site

Saturday, January 03, 2015

The druidess

It's been a while since French symbolist painter Odilon Redon (1840-1916) appeared in my blog. Here is a personal favourite of mine from his repertoire, The druidess from 1893. More about Redon in the Wikipedia article linked to below.

Friday, January 02, 2015

Naxos’ 25 years of reinventing itself

Naxos has always been one of my favourite classical music labels. In the standard repertoire, they often had recordings that could compete with the big labels (e.g. Haydn's string quartets), but their main attraction is a superb catalog of more obscure composers. The link includes a fascinating interview with its founder, Klaus Heymann, and the way this company has managed to stay successful in a rapidly changing environment.

web site

Thursday, January 01, 2015

What will change in 2015?

Happy New Year everybody! As the blog enters its ninth year, I will once more use this opportunity to make some changes. The Desert Island Discs topic that I started last year turned out to be less inspiring than I had anticipated, and will be retired. I am still dubbing whether or not to continue with Flickr Favourites, as more and more of my Flickr friends have stopped posting. As already announced earlier, my new parallel blog Exploring Classical Music resulted in the retirement of the Classical Corner and Classics Revisited subjects. What will once again not change is the intended frequency of posting - still aiming for an average of just above one per day. Image created using an Art Nouveau postcard seen here as basis.