Category: Cram it in Your Ear

8 Most Lovably Awful Lou Reed Songs

Lou Reed was never afraid to swing for the fences.
I adore all these horrible songs. RIP Lou.

8 – The Day John Kennedy Died
Maybe this just had the misfortune of coming right after “Waves of Fear” on THE BLUE MASK. But, even with the cool guitar & bass going on here. . .ugh.

7 – What’s Good
What good’s a computerized nose?

6 – Gimme Some Good Times.
The opening, where he quotes his own old songs, is the most embarassing thing ever. Worse then when Sting did it, even.

5 – Harry’s Circumcision.
Coulda been cut.

4 – I Love You Suzanne.
The singing!

3 – Pumping Blood.
Like a colored man’s dick.

2 – I Wanna Be Black.
And fuck up the Joooooooze!

1 – Edgar Allen Poe. By a country mile.
Everything about this rules. It RULES!

Bonus points! This awesome Velvet Underground 1993 atrocity.

The Star Dwellers

I read this book in (basically) two sittings at the beach a few weekends ago. It was very entertaining. Somewhere crammed in its basic story of “accepting other life forms, man” is a wonderful diatribe about all that’s wrong with the education system today. Today being 1961. Recommended.

My 10 Favorite Jazz Recordings From 1958 – 1962

If I was forced to only listen to jazz music from 1958 through 1962 for the rest of my life I wouldn’t be happy, but I wouldn’t consider it a death sentence.
I love jazz of all eras (indeed, my favorite single recording is of Lester Young and the Kansas City Six’s version of “I Got Rhythm”) but for whatever reason the music of these four years really speaks to me. The hazy, speed-of-light bebop of Parker and Gillespie was mellowing out, and we weren’t yet faced with the tribulations of “free jazz.” It’s a really sweet spot.
Here are my 10 favorites. Are they the BEST? I don’t fuckin’ know. They’re my 10 favorite.
10 – The Dave Brubeck Quartet – Countdown from the album “Countdown: Time in Outer Space” (1962)
I’m sure some part of me likes this because it is dedicated to John Glenn. I love the big tympani-ish drums and once things kick in it has a fantastic stride.

9 – Lee Morgan – Mogie from the album “Here’s Lee Morgan” (1960)
It’d be a few years until Lee would really start to kick ass as the flag-bearer for shake-shakin’ hard bop. But you can hear it start to come into play here. This track has swagger, but a little bit of an unexpected dissonance in the harmonies. Plus Lee’s really blowing here.

8 – Cannonball Adderly – Somethin’ Else from the album “Somethin’ Else” (1958)
It’s a little amusing that one of the foundational albums of the “Miles Davis sound” is technically not a Miles Davis album. But he delivers a great performance here on one of the greatest albums ever. I may as well mention here that I didn’t include anything from “Kind of Blue” on this list. Yeah, it’s great, but I rarely listen to it anymore. This is my list.

7 – John Coltrane – Cousin Mary from the album “Giant Steps” (1960)
Coulda picked anything from this album, really, but I love this one because it has such a strong confidence to it. It’s strange, because I consider McCoy Tyner so crucial to Coltrane’s sound, yet this is the album he’s not on.

6 – Wes Montgomery – Billie’s Bounce from the album “Fingerpickin'” (1958)
Hell yes. A classic Parker jam done big – almost west coast style – but zooming. Sorry the quality of this recording kinda stinks. You still get the idea.

5 – Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers Moanin’ from the album “Moanin'” (1958)
I almost went with “Dat Dere” which has a bit more of a “detective jazz” feel, but then I listened to “Moanin'” again and heard those two snaps of the drum after the opening phrase. The Jazz Messengers were absolutely in their stride from ’58 to ’62 and while this might be their biggest hit, they rarely recorded anything that wasn’t terrific. And listen to Lee Morgan on this one!

4 – Bud Powell – John’s Abbey from the album “Time Waits: The Amazing Bud Powell Vol. 4” (1958)
Bud Powell died for our sins. Those grunts and murmurs are the painful sounds of psychosis – demons that, unfortunately, couldn’t be killed by playing music alone. If you’ve never heard this track before it may take more than one listen to realize just how intricate the playing is. It’s a great melody endlessly teased by a man who has a serious claim on the title “best jazz pianist ever.”

EXTRA POINT: Now listen to this, the heart-stopping Speed of Light version

3 – Charles Mingus – Better Get Hit in Your Soul from the album “Mingus Ah Um” (1959)
3 – Charles Mingus – Wednesday Night Prayer Meeting from the album Roots & Blues (1959)
These are two very similar pieces. The first may be a more complex piece of writing and performance, but the second is just balls-out madness.

2 – Miles Davis – Milestones from the album “Milestones” (1958)
It’s the coolest thing you’ll ever hear.

1 -Erroll Garner – Where or When from the album “Concert By The Sea”
I’m ending this one with a total cheat. “Concert By The Sea” came out in 1955, but this video, from God knows where, is from ’62. It’s the same arrangement as on the album, and it is one of the most transcendent pieces of performance you are ever going to see. It’s the old Rogers & Hart show tune expanded into a cosmic display of pure joy. Erroll Garner, an imp who couldn’t read music, was a showman with inhuman capabilities who somehow makes this shit look easy.

Comics Worth Reading

Stuff I’m absolutely loving:
The Manhattan Projects
Animal Man
John Byrne’s Trio
Amazing Spider-Man
Action Comics
Birds of Prey
Blue Beetle
Stuff that’s so-so:
Swamp Thing
Captain Atom
Justice League/Shazam
All-Star Western
Garbage I’m reading but can’t stop because I have problems:
All four of the Green Lantern books. They really suck right now.
Star Trek Ongoing
Northlanders (Thank God that’s done!)

Comics Read 3/16 – 4/6

The Strain #4, A-
Venom #14, C
Frankenstein Agent of S.H.A.D.E. #7, A-
Star Trek #6 (Operation: Annihilate! Part 2), B+
Mister Terrific #7, B-
Birds of Prey #6, B+
Blue Beetle #6, B+
Star Trek/Legion of Super-Heores #5, A+++
OMAC #7, A
Red Lanterns #7, C
Batman Beyond Unlimited #1, B-
Next Men Aftermath #41, B+
Captain American #9, B
Swamp Thing #7, B+
Action Comics #7, A-
Green Lantern #7, B+
The Amazing Spider-Man #680, A
The Amazing Spider-Man #681, A
Captain Atom #6, B+
Animal Man #7, A-
All-Star Western #6, B+
All-Star Western #7, B
Green Lantern: New Guardians #7, C
Avenging Spider-Man #5, C
Star Trek #7 (Vulcan’s Vengeance Part 1), B+
Green Lantern Corps #7, D-
The Amazing Spider-Man #672, A-
Birds of Prey #7, B+
Captain Atom #7, B+
Batman #7, B
Northlanders #49 (The Icelandic Trilogy Part 8), C
Justice League #7, B
Batman Beyond Unlimited #2, B-
Kick-Ass 2 #7, B
Blue Beetle #7, B+
Aquaman #7, A-
Saga #1, A
Dark Matter #2, A
Dark Matter #3, A
Star Trek/Legion of Super-Heroes #6, B+
Ragemoor #1, A-
The Manhattan Projects #1, B+
Batman International TPB, B

Diamond Dogs, Turquoise Days by Alastair Reynolds

I had an unexpected reaction to this collection of two Revelation Space novellas. I thought I would like the one that helped flesh out the Universe more, but I wound up just digging the one that was all plot plot plot.
The first half – Diamond Dogs – is a marvelous story about a dangerous puzzle. Great characters, vivid imagery, good examination of the post-human qualities of the RS world.
Turquoise Days seems really promising – a further examination of the Pattern Jugglers. Unfortunately the characters and the conflicts didn’t really connect with me. (Enjoyed knowing more about the Pattern Jugglers, though!)

Comics Read 1/5 – 2/21

Been a while since I’ve done a Comics update – but I have been reading.
Cold War: The Michael Swan Dossier – The Damocles Contract Part IV, A-
The Defenders #2, B-
Red Lanters #5, C+
Action Comics #5, A-
Animal Man #5, A
Mudman #2, A-
Penguin: Pain and Prejudice #4, B
Detective Comics #5, B
OMAC #5, A-
The Amazing Spider-Man #677, B+
Swamp Thing #5, B
Frankenstein Agent of S.H.A.D.E. #5, A-
Captain America #7, B-
Star Trek #6, Operation: Annihilate – Part 1, A-
Blue Beetle #5, A-
The Amazing Spider-Man #678, A
Dark Matter #1, A-
Batman #5, B
Avenging Spider-Man #3, A-
Wonder Woman #5, C
Nightwing #5, C+
Birds of Prey #5, C+
Voodoo #5, C-
The Amazing Spider-Man #679, A
Green Lantern Corps #5, B
Green Lantern #5, B
Captain Atom #5, B
The Strain #2, A-
Mister Terrific #5, B+
Venom #12, A-
Aquaman #5, B+
Green Lantern: New Guardians, B-
Northlanders #47, B
Justice League #5, B-
Detective Comics #6, B
Animal Man #6, A
Red Lanterns #6, C+
OMAC #6, A-
Swamp Thing #6, B+
All-Star Western #5, B+
Star Trek/Legion of Superheroes #4, B+
Venom #13, B
The Strain #3, A-
The Defenders #3, C-
Action Comics #6, B+
Venom #13.1, C+
Frankenstein Agent of S.H.A.D.E. #6, A-
Captain America #8, B-
Green Lantern #6, B
Mister Terrific #6, D+
Northlanders #48, B
Penguin: Pain and Prejudice #5, B
John Byrne’s Next Men: Aftermath #1, B+



Jordan Hoffman is a New York-based writer and film critic working for The Guardian, Vanity Fair, Thrillist, Times of Israel, NY Daily News and elsewhere.

He is the host of ENGAGE: The Official Star Trek Podcast, a member of the New York Film Critics Circle and challenges you to a game of backgammon.