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Last week, I made a huge decision: to stop buying physical copies of albums.

Now, I’m sure many of you have already done this, but I’ve always been a bit of a purist. I like the packaging of CDs, like adding them to my collection, and like having them lined up (yes, in alphabetical order) on a shelf. Or, more accurately, a shitload of shelves.

Over the past twenty years, I’ve accumulated probably… fuck, I don’t even know. Let’s just say a lot of CDs. Easily into the thousands. I have a really nice stereo (one of the only quality/expensive things I own), so listening to my music through iTunes on a computer just never cut it for me.

And then we bought an Apple TV, which changed everything. Having it meant I could stream my music library wirelessly through my stereo. That pretty much made my decision for me.

In 1993, at the age of 17, I bought my first CD.

The first CD I ever purchased: "Reachin' (A New Refutation of Time and Space)" by Digable Planets.

It came in a longbox, for those of you old enough to remember.

I owned a few CDs before this one, but I had gotten them as gifts along with my first CD player, a gift I received the previous Christmas. (Sorry to say, Erik, but my true first CD was What Hits!? by Red Hot Chili Peppers.) But Reachin’ (A New Refutation of Time and Space) by Digable Planets was the first CD I spent my own money own.

Last week, after trading in some DVDs at Amoeba, I purchased what will be the last two CDs ever to be added to my shelf: Rjd2’s More Is Than Isn’t and Deltron 3030’s Event 2.

The last CDs I purchased: "More Is Than Isn't" by Rjd2, and "Event 2" by Deltron 3030.

My collection of music will continue to grow, of course, but from this point on it will do so invisibly.

The end of an era,

-Shady

As most of you know, I love free stuff. And guess what?!? Sometimes here at “The Blarg” people send me free stuff! I’ve got to be honest though, out of all of the stuff I receive very rarely do I get something that I love. But I recently got three things that I love sent my way!

BONUS ROUND!

Dig ’em:

Elvis Presley’s “Elvis is Back!” (Legacy Edition) – Elvis sounds best when completely remastered. Sure, I’m still a sucker for the hisses and pops that come with listening to the King on a piece of original vinyl, but Sony Music’s Legacy Editions never fail to impress me in both their crispness and clarity. This two-disc set is no exception. Collecting both Presley’s 1960 post-military return (and first true stereo release) “Elvis is Back!” and his 1961 followup “Something for Everybody,” this set offers up not only each of the album’s twelve original songs, but also twelve bonus tracks including “A Mess of Blues” and “Little Sister,” among others. Throw in the original album art (something a lot of compilation reissues fail to include nowadays) and a 24-page booklet of Elvis photos and memoirs, and you’ve got a CD I won’t be taking into Amoeba for trade! And to be honest, that’s saying a lot.

Johnny Cash’s “From Memphis to Hollywood: Bootleg Vol. II” – This two-disc followup to 2006’s “Personal File: Bootleg Vol. I” picks up exactly where the first in the series left off. This isn’t a collection of finely-tuned greatest hits; instead, it’s Cash’s musical sketchbook that gives listeners a reference for the hits that were soon to follow. Disc one collects rare radio appearances and early demos that Cash cut in the 1950s. Still in his twenties at the time, this is Cash trying to figure out his sound. Disc two collects various singles, outtakes and B-sides that, for whatever reason, never made it onto an official album release. Together, these two discs collect 57 tracks, 26 of which were previously unreleased in the States. Whether you’re a Cash fanatic or not, that’s a whole lot of music you’ve probably never heard before.

Neil Diamond’s “The Bang Years: 1966-1968” – Easily the biggest surprise in the batch! It’s expected that I’ll like anything Elvis or Cash that you send my way (after all, I have both men tattooed on my arm), but oddly enough I find myself listening to this album more than any of the previous two. Maybe it’s because I’m not as familiar with Diamond’s work. Of course, like most people, I know his more popular hits when they pop up on the radio (of which, many are on this disc), but I don’t know if I’ve ever sat down and listened to an entire album of his work in one sitting. This disc collects 23 original versions of songs he recorded for Bang Records in 1966 and 1967 including a lot of the hits that made him a household name, but also a few more obscure tracks I had never heard before. The disc is solid from beginning to end, but I especially love Diamond’s vocal reluctance (throughout the entire song) to cover the ridiculous bubble-gum hit “Hanky Panky.” Whether you like him or not, you have to respect a guy who has no problem badmouthing a dumb song smack dab in the middle of said dumb song.

Better than burns,

-Shady

Wanna win some free stuff? Check out this new contest from “The Blarg.”

THE PRIZE:

– Elvis Presley’s “Elvis is Back!” (Legacy Edition) 2-CD set

THE FACTS:

One winner will be selected randomly from all entries. The winner will receive one total prize packet. To enter, email me here with your name, age and address. The winner will be notified. Losers won’t.

Two of two great contests,

-Shady

Wanna win some free stuff? Check out this new contest from “The Blarg.”

THE PRIZES:

– Johnny Cash’s “From Memphis To Hollywood: Bootleg Vol. 2” 2-CD set
– Limited Edition “Bootleg Vol. 2” poster
– Limited Edition “Bootleg Vol. 2” t-shirt
– Johnny Cash’s “American IV: The Man Comes Around” CD
– Johnny Cash’s “American V: A Hundred Highways” CD

THE FACTS:

One winner will be selected randomly from all entries. The winner will receive one total prize packet. To enter, email me here with your name, age and address. The winner will be notified. Losers won’t.

One of two great contests,

-Shady

…for a lot of reasons, to be honest, but mostly because I’ve had a short stack of CDs here that I’ve been meaning to mention for awhile now.

Thanks to the long (and slightly sordid) history of “Tastes Like Chicken,” I still get the occasional press item sent my way. I decided awhile back that I will no longer review items here because, let’s be honest, my opinions are meaningless. That, and also because after a decade of writing reviews they all became the same exact thing: “This CD is like (fill in the blank). This part is bad, this part is good. Yawn.”

Still, over the past few/many months, I’ve received a handful of discs I honestly enjoy, so rather than bore you with reviews I’m just going to list them here. Each one is linked to the artist’s website, so if you’re interested in learning more about them check them out.

I’m digging (in no particular order):

Open Mike Eagle’s “Unapologetic Art Rap”

Sleepy Sun’s “Fever”

Beats Antique’s “Blind Threshold”

The Budos Band’s “The Budos Band III”

The Wailing Wall’s “The Low Hanging Fruit”

Street Sweeper Social Club’s “The Ghetto Blaster EP”

Seek out new music… now!

Officially caught up,

-Shady

For those who have no idea what I’m talking about, click here.

Don’t go chasing garbage walls,

-Shady

Some of it’s brand-new! Some of it’s just new to me! Here are four albums I’ve been digging lately.

Massive Attack “Splitting the Atom EP” – An awesome four-track taste of what we can expect from their upcoming full-length (“Heligoland”) in a couple weeks. This EP is classic Massive Attack: dark, brooding and sexily sinister. The EP’s second track, “Pray For Rain” featuring TV on the Radio’s Tunde Adebimpe, is quite possibly one of their best songs ever. It’s great to have the Attack back after a seven-year hiatus.

Robert Glasper “Double-Booked” – Jazz pianist Glasper returns with his third full-length for Blue Note Records. The first six tracks of the disc’s dozen songs (including a cover of Herbie Hancock’s “Butterfly”) were performed by The Robert Glasper Trio and are more traditional in their structure. The album’s last six songs were performed by The Robert Glasper Experiment (Glasper has numerous projects featuring different musicians) and are considerably more… well, experimental. On the second half, keep an ear out for a brief guest rap from Mos Def (“4eva”) and a guest vocal spot from jazz singer Bilal Oliver (“All Matter”).

Four Tet “There Is Love In You” – The fifth full-length from Four Tet (the moniker that electro/post-rock musician Kieran Hebden creates under) flips back and forth between trippy transcendence and bass-heavy dance, keeping listeners second guessing what will come next. I’ve been a fan of Hebden’s past experimentation, but this disc features less of it; the result is the most accessible album in Hebden’s catalog. Is that a good thing? Sure. I just hope it doesn’t keep him from pushing the boundaries a little further next time.

Various Artists “Next Stop Soweto: Volume 1″ – Strut Records is destined to become one of my favorite labels, especially if they keep releasing music like this. This first installment of a three-volume collection uncovers underground South African music of the late ’60s and early ’70s. If you’re looking for remastered, crystal-clear sound, look elsewhere; these are raw and real recordings of the era, featuring acts like S. Piliso & His Super Seven, Piston Mahlathini & The Queens, and the Lucky Strike Sisters. Never heard of any of them? Of course! That’s the point! But without this music, albums like Paul Simon’s “Graceland” never would have happened.

More coming soon,

-Shady

I just couldn’t! I pulled them out of the garbage!

Argh!

Hi-Guy would be proud of me,

-Shady

…containing a bunch of MP3s a few months ago.

I finally got around to burning the music onto individual CDs (I’m a stereo purist when it comes to music), but I found myself struggling with throwing the CDs away once I was done with them!

I thought about tacking them up on the wall but eventually decided against it. I finally (begrudgingly) threw the discs away, but not before I shot a quick photo of them.

Two Dwellephant originals now sit at the bottom of a garbage can. Sigh.

I’ll regret this in twenty years,

-Shady

…are these five albums:

1) Feathers’ “Synchromy”

2) Fitz & The Tantrums’ “Songs For A Break Up: Volume 1″

3) Various Artists “Urban Revolutions: The Future Primitive Sound Collective”

4) DJ Cam’s “Mad Blunted Jazz: Disc One”

5) Victor Bermon’s “Arriving At Midnight”

You know the drill.

Blindly picking,

-Shady

PS: I write these posts mainly because I’m honestly interested in hearing what other music people are listening to. If I come across something that sounds cool, or if it’s something I’m not familiar with, I do seek it out. So please, spread your musical knowledge. This is how new favorite bands and albums are discovered.

Old Poop!