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January 2006

The Return of Site
January 2 2006 11:23 PM ET (Permalink) (Comment)

Yeah, the web server went down a second time last week. Only, this time, the backups failed. They found a backup from a week earlier, but it only included the site files and not the database. And, to make matters worse, once they got the files online, they left the site in read-only mode, so I couldn't update anything for the last several days.

So, officially, my site is back in order. Well, sorta. They actually moved my home directory to a different location, which is why most of my site was broken. (I had to change all of the templates to match the new location, then add the entries missing from the backup, etc.)

Anyway, I probably missed something, so if you spot a broken page somewhere, please drop me a line.

YouTube: Sunny Day Real Estate
January 4 2006 04:35 PM ET (Permalink) (Comment)

"Seven" (Live)
Sunny Day Real Estate
from 120 Minutes

Thought I might try something crazy.

I got a video capture card for Christmas, and spent a short amount of time running through old videotapes to find some things worth converting.

If I've got anything that amounts to "treasure" in my boxes and boxes of videotapes, it's the random stock of tv performances from the 90s. In particular, I've got a ton of performances from MTV's 120 Minutes. Most of them only aired once before being banished to MTV's archives. (From the way some of the hosts talked about the performances in later years, it sounds like they had some kind of contractual limitations on re-airing performances.)

But a lot of them are really, really good. So I figured I'd try converting a few and uploading them to YouTube.

Of course, the good question is whether this is legal or not. If I do this regularly at all, it's going to be the stuff that hasn't been officially released (they released a 120 Minutes compilation CD in 1998). But, hopefully, if they decide that this is improper, they'll just wipe the file. I don't wanna get sued.

Anyway, first up is one of my favorite bands playing one of my favorite songs. My cousin taped this (120 Minutes' year-end performance special in 1994) and almost taped over it in 1998 with reruns of Miami Vice. (Oh, I'd have killed him.)

In particular: watch drummer Will Goldsmith absolutely rip this song. His work with Sunny Day Real Estate is still some of my all-time favorite drumming. (You can tell that some of my drumming style, particularly on "Turn Away / Fade" and "Time (Frame of Mind)", came from Goldsmith, if not solely from this song.) There's one "fill" (if you can call it that) in particular near the end of the second verse that's just amazing to watch.

And, yep, that's Nate of the Foo Fighters on bass.

Ahh, "emo" before the word became a slur.

YouTube: Hum
January 7 2006 06:38 PM ET (Permalink) (Comment)

"I'd Like Your
Hair Long" (Live)
from 120 Minutes

Download: Hum - "I'd Like Your Hair Long" (120 Minutes)

Seriously, this may be my favorite tv performance of all time. So much so that I'm including an MP3 of it above.

Back in the day, it wasn't uncommon for 120 Minutes to announce that a band would be performing a song live on the show, only to have it not be the song you'd expect. When this show aired in July of 1995, I was bummed that the song wasn't "Stars", then Hum's big single.

When I arrived back at school the next month, I kept popping that videotape in, and eventually fell in love with this song. And, watching the tape ten-plus years later, it's kinda obvious: some of the tape before and after this performance shows some damage from overuse. (I actually struggled a good bit to get a decent capture off the tape, as several takes showed weird tracking problems.)

I started listening to the album version of "I'd Like Your Hair Long", and it just didn't have the same effect. The album version is a victim of the typical studio problem of being more tempered and with a slower tempo. The raging speed of this live version is what makes the song for me.

When I saw Hum in February of 1996, they went their entire set without playing this song, and I could feel myself getting more and more annoyed. To my great relief, they played this song last, and it was clearly a highlight of the evening.

"Stars" (Live)
from 120 Minutes

I also uploaded a version of "Stars" that Hum performed for 120 Minutes, which aired on the year-end live performance special in January of 1996. As with "I'd Like Your Hair Long", I think this version trumps the studio version.

It's getting so common to have bands perform with taped accompaniment that it's nice to be reminded that four people can play unique parts of a song as a band and have it sound this good. When playing live on 120 Minutes, bands were basically stripped clean of everything save whatever talent they had, and, sometimes, it got ugly. (The mixes were very simple, unlike, say, Saturday Night Live.) For example, when Therapy? played "Screamager" in 1993 (a song I love), the performance demonstrated that their drummer couldn't actually keep a straight tempo.

I can't say that I loved all of Hum's music (some of it seemed just totally off-the-wall to me), but here's where they were at their best.


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