Monday, June 30, 2014

Where Are We Going?

"Where are we going? What are we doing? Throwing it away like that. What are you doing? Throwing it away. All that potential. Trickling away like that."
-Howard Jones, One To One, Where Are We Going?-

Yes, where are we going Mr. Jones? I often ask myself these things as active consideration concerning existence. Here I am. The creator behind the newly founded and forged Dog In Space blog. What exactly are my plans here?

After all, this is a brand spanking new idea. Of course no one knows about it. I mean nobody. Currently, there are no readers. In fact, I think at this early stage in the game I am essentially talking to myself. That's okay.

Music is such a personal thing really. It often has me contemplating the ways of the world and existence. The relationship with a song is quite profound really. Sometimes that intimate partnership is all you need to be left with your own thoughts for good company.

But yes, where are we going with this thing called Dog In Space? I'm not sure really. But I suspect it will remain true to music and ruminations connected therein.

It seems only natural really. In truth, it's not that surprising actually. I had given more than ample evidence of my affection and passion for music at my other blog creation, Musings Of A Sci-Fi Fanatic. While mostly exclusive to science fiction examinations I did digress from time to time into my love for music. See here. In fact, I think the music posts were fairly well-received.

But I am here because I love music. So for whatever reason the music kept beckoning to me. I recently reorganized my entire CD collection. Wow. What a stroll down memory lane. I urge you to do the same if you have not done so. Pull out those old records and CDs and have a ball.

For a period I wrote music reviews for my college newspaper as a young man. This led to an opportunity to write for a small (in circulation) but mighty magazine called The Lexicon (clearly a nod to ABC's The Lexicon Of Love from 1982). I had penned several interviews through the years with Duran Duran, Pete Byrne of Naked Eyes, Tony Hadley of Spandau Ballet, Richard Darbyshire of Living In A Box and Kurt Maloo, formerly the captain of Double. I did this as a writer with The Lexicon. I guess recently I realized how much I missed all of that. I'm not certain I will land interviews in the future, but I sure would like to try again and hope to do so. So interviews would be nice. But I suspect Dog In Space will be more of a safe haven for me to philosophize on the songs of various artists I've come to love and appreciate over the years.

Funny enough, the very seed that set this blog in motion occurred to me on a drive to work. Listening to my ipod that was now connected to a new car purchase brought back a flood of emotions, a tide of good feelings and good memories and I found I wanted to expound further on that. So one fateful drive to work essentially assured my desire to make that happen. So where was I going? I was going to work. Dog In Space came to me then.  What comes next is anyone's guess, but untethered I am indeed drifting in that space called music and for now I am happy to be there. Honestly, there is nothing better than a good song on your drive to work. It actually makes anything possible.

Where Are We Going? is extracted from the Howard Jones release One To One (1986). His flawless debut Human's Lib (1984) and sophomore release Dream Into Action (1985) are essentially perfect (see here). The fertile launch to his career and creative slide begins a touch with the middling effort One To One, but the Arif Mardin-produced collection is still graced with a number of strong selections and solid highlights including You Know I Love You...Don't You?, All I Want, Where Are We Going?, Will You Still Be There? and a new version of No One Is To Blame originally from Action Replay (1986) and the original version from Dream Into Action. Still, One To One, while maybe not as essential as the aforementioned two discs, is perhaps one of my five favorite productions from Howard Jones' rich and colorful catalogue and is a pleasure on the whole.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Dog In Space Banner

With the advent of digital downloads I'm beginning to feel quite analog. I'm finding myself situated where vinyl collectors probably were in the 1980s and 1990s - a dying breed.  Granted, vinyl and CD are still available, but like the newspaper business, it is shrinking.

Well, amassing a CD collection through the years was a great deal of fun. Lately it sits still collecting dust. Creating Dog In Space allowed me the opportunity to unearth that collection to create the image you see as the Dog In Space Banner/ Header of this blog.

I actually have such an abundance of CDs that I will likely break out another 40-50 discs for a second banner somewhere down the road should I choose to keep this site going. I'm relatively happy with the image but hopefully it will be the first of a handful I can assemble here for Dog In Space.

This is more or less an experiment to rekindle those creative fires. Here's hoping.

This is a cover I created for a music publication called The Lexicon. I was a contributing writer and penned a Duran feature following a wonderful interview with Simon Le Bon, Nick Rhodes and Warren Cuccurullo (Missing Persons) of Duran Duran to coincide with the release of their Pop Trash (2000) recording. The interview took place at The Mercer Hotel in New York City. As you can see it is a montage of music videos, just one of the many remarkable facets of the talented band's legacy. One of the things we immediately think of when it comes to Duran Duran is their rich video history. I snapped the most prominent visual moments from their video cannon (in my mind) that always grabbed me to create this edition's cover. See if you can name all of the videos. The cover really speaks to these musicians not just as musicians but visual artists and designers of their own unique brand in sound and style of which they were unfairly derided for many years.

Dogs In Space

"Dogs out there, floatin' 'round, it's rattling the human race, dogs in space."
-Dogs In Space, Michael Hutchence, 1986-

Bath, England. It was 1988. I had the good fortune of attending the University of Bath the summer of that year as an amazing diversion from four years of college (perhaps the greatest block of time in one's life). One warm summer evening at a university dance I happened upon a beautiful girl also from America. Her name was Melissa. We hit it off. That same week we went out to a local art house theatre, a cinema called The Little Theatre (since 1936) and attended a screening of a little known cult film, Dogs In Space (1986), directed by Richard Lowenstein. The Australian post-punk film starred the late Michael Hutchence of INXS. I have relatively faint memories of that film, and mostly wanted the opportunity to hook up with this beautiful brunette half way across the world. Getting naked was more important if unsuccessful. Hutchence would have been proud of my effort though. There was something exciting and alluring about all of the freedom and unknowns. Being young and thrill-seeking only sweetened the adventure and spirit of those unforgettable days. There was room for the memory of that one-week stand.

The 1980s epitomized, for me, the pinnacle of great music. It seemed every new song by many beloved bands over the decade was indeed a new sensation. Has there been a stronger decade in sound and style? Music was and remains very much a part of who I am today. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, whether in Boston or London, it seemed there was rarely a music store that I didn't seek. From Edinburgh, Scotland to Brighton, England to New York City's Record Runner, I visited them all for the chance at a rare find of an exclusive CD, CD single, promo or video collection. The possibility of finding something special was always met with the sweet sounds of music filling each store. Those were indeed the days.

Take the soundtrack for Dogs In Space, of which Hutchence provided four songs including the haunting Rooms For The Memory. Good luck finding this rare collection.

As a young man growing up in the hey day of creative music yielding from the New Romantics and before that the burgeoning synth era of the 1970s, I was drawn to music like fishes love the sea. There is something primal about the human connection and sound created by us. I would have been lost without it. It was definitely part of who I had become and remains an important part of my existence today.

Also during those influential years were influential films. I loved Lasse Hallstrom's My Life As A Dog (1985; 1987 USA). The sweet, and sometimes difficult trials in coming of age are captured beautifully while the protagonist often compares his journey to that of the fascinating story of Laika, the Russian dog in space. For whatever reason, I connected with the plight of that boy and that dog. That film and the music artists of that defining decade like Michael Hutchence who ironically wound up appearing in a film called Dogs In Space seemed to tap into a certain sense of discovery as well as an inability to put a handle on what it all means. It's something I constantly struggle with. That title seemed to capture the many unknowns of this life. Sometimes it feels like we're just floating along in that way. That, and the connection to Hutchence and the vast talent of the 1980s music scene seemed an awfully fitting title for a music blog.

As The The's Matt Johnson once penned rather eloquently in Slow Emotion Replay from Dusk (1993), "The more I see, the less I know."

So for the launch of this blog, Dog In Space, I really wanted a simple phrase that really sung to me and spoke volumes about the music from the era I loved of which I could wax poetic with connections to my own life. Sing Blue Silver from Duran Duran's The Chauffeur (Rio) was considered but unavailable. The Lizard Mixture (I always loved that phrase)seemed perfect. The lyric from Duran's New Moon On Monday (Seven And The Ragged Tiger) was also unavailable as a blog name. In fact, there's nothing more frustrating than folks who have taken these names and done absolutely nothing with them. I mean, if you have usurped a blog name, for the love of God, start bloody blogging. I actually tormented myself for a good week just trying to come up with a decent name for this blog. I turned to Thompson Twins, a-ha and others for the perfect catch phrase to coin for this blog. Say what you want about Simon Le Bon but the man can turn a phrase. Telegram Force from Union Of The Snake was also considered.

Ultimately I settled on Dog In Space because the blog is just me, in the singular, and it captured the music era that I loved, a feeling from that period that has endured with me from a film from that era that I loved. There was just an all around 80s connection of which this blog will indubitably focus but not be exclusive. This is a music blog and I won't confine myself to a single decade despite being the greatest of all. But music for all of us is intimately connected to memories and experiences. It seemed the perfect vehicle for trying something new while celebrating the past.

Music is in my blood. I wanted very much to reflect and muse about the music I love, inspired me and continues to inspire and hopefully keep the posts short and sweet. I hope you'll take on me and join this pleasure dome.

After all, this dog is still floating through space and aren't we all just dogs in space anyway?

Dogs In Space Original Motion Picture Soundtrack: It featured Dogs In Space, Golf Course, The Green Dragon and Rooms For The Memory by Michael Hutchence. It also included a contribution by Ollie Olsen. Olsen would collaborate with Hutchence on the excellent Max Q (1989) project. The brief INXS side project yielded strong selections including Sometimes, Way Of The World, Ghost Of The Year and Monday Night By Satellite.