Monday, August 31, 2009

Spotlight: Album Reviews

I've always loved music. I have 500 or so record albums (yes, in a box in the basement. What of it?) I have 500+ cds. Hundreds of mixed tapes. If I had spare time and spare change in a spare town on a business trip, I'd find record shops and pick up a few missing pieces now and again.

Then, well, it all stopped. It was the perfect storm of other distractions -golf and kids and, come the mid nineties, the ability to copy cds on a computer. I still remember the 486 Mrs. Toadroller and I purchased after getting married. Whoo-hoo! It had a cd player in it. That day and age, it didn't yet have a burner, but at least I could play music while working on the computer with its dial-up modem and dual boot to OS/2 Warp 3.0. Have I mentioned I'm a geek?


Fast forward to 2003 or so and the world had gone mp3 crazy. I was still setting up and tweaking my mega stereo system in the "listening room" of our finished basement and buying audiophile amplifiers and speakers on eBay. But at the same time, I bought a Rio Karma 20gb mp3 player- the first serious challenger to the iPod (and the first to seriously die a sad death in the marketplace. Remember Rio?) with twice the battery life and ability to play wma, mp3, au, ogg-vorbis, flac, heck- it played formats no-one has heard from since. It came with a docking bay with a pulsing blue light, RCA line outs and-get this- a DHCP client so you could control it through IP. I mean, the little tyke was a music server, for crying out loud. Oh, and 2/3rds the price of the iPod.

How did this fail in the marketplace? I don't know. What a great little unit. I still have it plugged in downstairs and it limps along, playing background music on random. Still has a better search, scroll, insert-into now-playing capability than my Zune.

I spent a week in the office with a spare old laptop, ripping my cd collection into the appropriate wma formats, grabbing the artist and image content from cddb or whatever it was that the ripper (was it Media Monkey?) used, and built up my colection. One of the nifty features of the Karma was its ability to play music by any old tag, including the year of the recording.

So there I was, looking through the collection- 400 some-odd songs from '87, 450 from '88, etc. Clicking along- '91 had 200 or so - a real drop. '92, 93, 94 and on? Something like 100 songs combined.


This is a long way about explaining my pursuit of new music really waned for a long time. Sure, I'd hear something and enjoy it, but I really stopped paying attention. To this day I'm shocked to find out that something current I'm listing too, feeling I'm pretty hip with the kids out there, was recorded in '97. I mean, that's 12 years ago of this writing. Aerosmith's big comeback was in '85, people. Ragdoll was NEW Aerosmith, and now it' s coming up on its twenty-fifth anniversary! Scary.


The point of this post was to do some quick album reviews on music I've been listening to or trying out of late. So here goes- the Toadroller showing his eclectic and insightful musical tastes in brief reviews to the world that has passed him by. I think I'll do them as separate posts. Thanks for tuning in. Please stand by.

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