homestretch…

As we move further into the spring of 2017, I’m currently finishing up the mixes on a couple more songs – “Hours Turn Into Years” and “Unusually Vivid Experience (UVE)” – for the new album, “We Are All Haunted by Something“, scheduled for release on June 24. This is the homestretch now. There are two more songs to go, to be mixed and pre-mastered, along with any remaining tweaks on the completed songs, by Memorial Day weekend, roughly a month-and-a-half away. I’m sweating this one out right now and hoping I don’t have to push the release date out another month or so. The album is finishing up on schedule but there have been some personal/family issues; I will have a better idea of where things stand next week after we return from our trip to the Big D… Dallas.

The Big D…

Well, that’s a little too big for me… and a little too warm/hot, a little too humid, flat, crowded, whatever… Nice pic though with the new bridge. Meanwhile…

Preliminary album cover for “We Are All Haunted by Something”, scheduled for release in June, 2017. This is the old abandoned Apache Motel in Tucumcari, New Mexico – shot taken in 2009. The image of the night sky is from Justin Marsh, added with his permission.

Although the sequencing for the album is not yet finalized – that’s next – the cover art and the songs for the album are. These are the ones that made the cut:

There Is Only Now
Speed of Life
Confirm Humanity (I’m Not a Robot)
The Indelible Imprint of Place
Llano Estacado
In Wilderness [Is the Only Sanity in the World]
I Just Wanna Fly Off to Iceland With U
Glamour: A World Problem
Relive Tomorrow… Today!
Unusually Vivid Experience (UVE)
Hours Turn Into Years
Ghost Towns of the 1980s
New Dark Age
bonus track (to be named later though I can tell you it is a cover song and it is well-known)

Further details about the bonus track, if it is to be included after the finished recording, will be divulged later, prior to the album release. For now, 13 finished songs over the course of the last year. And this project has now taken almost a full year going back to when it began the last week of April, 2016.

As for the album title, I’m not sure now when exactly the working title became what I was going to officially call the album when it would be released. I know it was very early on in the process as I was writing and recording the songs. And a lot of these songs seemed to organize themselves loosely around the theme of Time. The passage of time or a particular era of time can definitely haunt us because we’re very much influenced and bound by it. Also Place, which must be the reason why some places in our past we refer to as “old haunts”. I’ll revisit some of the process and thoughts behind what’s been going on for the last year and on this album closer to the release date.

What’s new? …Nights on Venus videos on YouTube are what’s new. They just kind of magically appeared, unbeknownst to me, which was a real surprise because I didn’t make them. Apparently YouTube did that and they’re up there, all 56 of them which is NoV’s released output to date. So check ’em out and thanks YouTube! Here’s one from the “Speed of Life” single, the B-side, “Confirm Humanity (I’m Not a Robot)”…

Oh, an update on the broken big toe (see previous post)… it’s pretty much healed at this point, just in time for hiking season.

At the trailhead to Linkins Lake…
"Speed of Life" single, released on 10/9/16...
“Speed of Life” single, released on 10/9/16…

Speed of Lifeis the most recent offering from Nights on Venus. The 2-song EP was released on October 9, 2016 and is available on Bandcamp, CD Baby, Amazon MP3, eMusic, and iTunes.

Cover artwork for "Unearthly"... photo/design by CCT
Cover artwork for “Unearthly”… photo/design by CCT

Unearthly, Santos and all previous albums are available as MP3 digital downloads on CD Baby, iTunes, Amazon MP3, eMusic, and the NoV Website.

Follow Craig and Nights on Venus on Twitter (@xlntsky).

 

Merry Christmas and happy holidays from Nights on Venus…

This will be a short post today… Just wanted to wish everyone who follows this blog and to those dropping in a very Merry Christmas and I hope you are enjoying a wonderful holiday today!

craig_firepitHere’s a look back to a Christmas post from 5 years ago, shortly after I had moved back to Colorado.

In and around our neighborhood here in Golden, CO…

snow_golden1Ralphie is still on the tele with about 5 1/2 hours left of the annual 24 hour marathon, although I think we’re Ralphie-ed out now for this year.

Maxx also wants to say "Merry Christmas Y'all". All he needs here is a disco mirror ball...
Maxx also wants to say “Merry Christmas Y’all”. All he needs here is a disco mirror ball…

New music is coming soon from NoV… Will have the mastered demo of “Relive Tomorrow… Today!” next time.

Next week Erin and I will be skiing to start the New Year, 2017! Hopefully not like this… Ouch!

"Speed of Life" single, released on 10/9/16...
“Speed of Life” single, released on 10/9/16…

Speed of Lifeis the most recent offering from Nights on Venus. The 2-song EP was released on October 9, 2016 and is available on Bandcamp, CD Baby, Amazon MP3, eMusic, and iTunes.

Cover artwork for "Unearthly"... photo/design by CCT
Cover artwork for “Unearthly”… photo/design by CCT

Unearthly, Santos and all previous albums are available as MP3 digital downloads on CD Baby, iTunes, Amazon MP3, eMusic, and the NoV Website.

Erin & Craig... in front of the "hobbit hole"...11/5/2016
Erin & Craig… in front of the “hobbit hole”…11/5/2016

Follow Craig and Nights on Venus on Twitter (@xlntsky),

post-wedding bell/honeymoon/election/media blues…

It’s been quite a week. This November, everything got real…

One part of this post will be the fun stuff, one part will be rant. I’ll do the fun stuff first…

We came, we saw, we got married…

erin_craig_bell_tower
The Shmoopies get married… Church of the Transfiguration, Evergreen, Colorado, Nov. 5, 2016. About to ring the bell… Some history here. My family came up to the Evergreen Conference, of which the church used to be a part, every year from 1965-1971. I worked at the conference from 1971 through 1975, my first job, and one of my duties was to ring this bell for the morning services. This was the first time I had rung the bell in 41 years.
Highland Haven, Evergreen...
Highland Haven, Evergreen…

And we partied afterwards. Mightily. Loudly. A fun time was had by all at Lariat Lodge just up the hill on the other side of the highway – the reception was excellent, thank you guys! – and thank you everyone who came and celebrated with us. Erin and I are very glad all of you were there with us for our “alternative” wedding! It was one of the best parties I’ve been to in a while. Yay us… we did it!

On Canyon Road, Santa Fe...
On Canyon Road, Santa Fe…

And then we hit the road for a few days… down to Santa Fe, where I used to live for a while in the mid-1980’s. And our favorite place, Ten Thousand Waves. I had been going to the hot tubs since 1984 but I had never stayed in their rooms/suites before. Actually they’re more like casitas – small houses, and I highly recommend them. Do the full experience. Staying on site there, at the compound up in the foothills of Santa Fe at 7,700 feet, is an experience not to be missed. We went into town, checked out the art galleries, mostly on Canyon Road, and all our other favorite places. Santa Fe doesn’t change a whole lot, particularly around the plaza and everything that doesn’t radiate off of Cerrillos Road, and that’s one thing I love about it. The air always seems to carry the scent of piñon, the high desert light is bright and intense, adobe everywhere (“if you don’t like adobe, go home…“), and there’s always that spiritual vibe about this place.

there's our next house, up there on that hill... Twilight in the foothills.
There’s our next house, up there on that hill… Twilight in the foothills from our front porch at Ten Thousand Waves.
A roaring fire in the casita...
A roaring fire in the casita, Shmoopy’s toes…

There’s a song on the next Nights on Venus album (scheduled for spring/early summer, 2017) entitled “The Indelible Imprint of Place”… this is what I’m talking about. Always love a spiritual vibe in a place. Santa Fe may be our next home (for me…again) and chapter in life… and I certainly hope so.

Chili ristra at Geronimo restaurant, Canyon Road...
Chili ristra at Geronimo restaurant, Canyon Road…
Sculpture, Canyon Road...
Sculpture, Canyon Road…
Dining at Izanami...
Dining at Izanami…

A week later I wish we were still in Santa Fe.
There was just one little fly in the ointment… well, actually a rather large one. There was that whole election thing last Tuesday…

And now, the rant…

In the space of a week I’ve gone from fucking pissed to thoroughly disgusted… well, I’m still fucking pissed but mostly just more disgusted at this people-of-WalMart-WWE-reality-TV-shitshow-spectacle of an election. Sure, it’s all fun and games… ’til someone elects a fascist.
#NotMyPresident
#NotMyCulture

Stupid, stupid, stupid!!

To those who voted for Trump, you have absolutely no idea what you’ve done and I only have one thing to say to you…

Oh, what was that? Say it again…

Very sorry… and very, very soon, just like those poor souls over in the UK who voted for Brexit and then wanted to have a do-over vote when they realized what Brexit actually meant. Unfortunately, this is way worse and now all of us are on board.

The recurring image that comes to my mind about what happened and what’s most likely to happen now going forward is this scene from the movie Mulholland Drive with Naomi Watts and Laura Harring. When Harring’s character Rita begins talking in her sleep, Betty (Watts) awakens her from her nightmare and tells her “it’s OK” to which Rita responds, “No, it’s not OK.”

The last few days I’ve seen some posts come across my news feed on Facebook from people saying we need to come together now and unite as a country and get behind President-elect Trump. Fuck that. Go peddle that happy horseshit somewhere else.

Even President Obama said yesterday that “Americans need to reconcile themselves to a Trump presidency.” In this context, reconcile sounds more like “resign”. That’s not acceptance, that’s resignation. And so the normalization of these things begins – things that cannot and should not ever be normalized, including, but certainly not limited to, the demonization of others for starters.

"Rhinoceros" by Albrecht Durer, 16th century...
“Rhinoceros” by Albrecht Durer, 16th century…

Nope. Not going along with that either. There comes “A Time for Refusal“. Keep your humanity and basic decency intact. Don’t go along with the crowd, the mob, or the “new normal”.

Currently, the results of the national election show Hillary Clinton winning the popular vote by over 2 million votes (a lead that continues to grow, btw, a week later… hmm). It’s way past time for the Electoral College to go, to be gone. A couple of petitions: Make Hillary Clinton President on December 19 . The electors of the Electoral College still have to do a formal vote that day. This petition has 4.3 million signers as of this morning. It’s a longshot of course but if you really don’t want to see Trump take office, it’s one of the last chances you may have.

The 2nd: Abolish the Electoral College .

And finally there’s this, which may be the most effective. E-mail the electors directly at Ask the Electors.org . Longshot for sure… but it’s the last line of defense before Dec. 19th.

How bad could things get here in the U.S.? Chris Hedges over at Truthdig has a few ideas on that in his most recent essay. Well worth a read, even as sobering and bleak as it is. What’s that expression?… “Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.”

Also a good read this week, complete with some helpful hints for future reference, comes this essay from Masha Gessen, “Autocracy: Rules for Survival“.

As bad as the outcome of the election was, equally bad was the media coverage of it and the campaign pretty much from the get-go. In fact, the media coverage has been more infuriating and I didn’t even watch much of it on TV. They are more than complicit in this national disaster. It was just pervasive everywhere you went – online or otherwise. The sensationalistic headlines, the coverage of Trump seemingly 24/7, the polls, the dissemination of lies, the Twitter fights and ridiculous reports of them as if they were real news, and on and on ad nauseum. Again, disgusting. This applies equally to the leftist media outlets as well as those on the right.

And oh, I love this from Thom Palmer’s Truth in Politics blog. He gets it right.

The election cycle needs to be shortened and all the pundits, the pollsters, the smarmy commentators, most of whom don’t deserve the air time they get, et al. need to go the way of the Electoral College, i.e., out the fucking exit door, get rid of them all. It wasn’t just pervasive, it was abusive. The American people are in an abusive relationship with its endless proliferation of media and addiction to it. And you know what you do when you find yourself in an abusive relationship?… You walk away from it; you leave…

And you go on with your life. Live your best life now.

"Speed of Life" single, released on 10/9/16...
“Speed of Life” single, released on 10/9/16…

Speed of Lifeis the most recent offering from Nights on Venus. The 2-song EP was released on October 9, 2016 and is available on Bandcamp, CD Baby, Amazon MP3, eMusic, and iTunes.

Cover artwork for "Unearthly"... photo/design by CCT
Cover artwork for “Unearthly”… photo/design by CCT

Unearthly, Santos and all previous albums are available as MP3 digital downloads on CD Baby, iTunes, Amazon MP3, eMusic, and the NoV Website.

Erin & Craig... in front of the "hobbit hole"...11/5/2016
Erin & Craig… in front of the “hobbit hole”…11/5/2016

Follow Craig and Nights on Venus on Twitter (@xlntsky),

“speed of life” single available now…

The new 2-song single “Speed of Life” has been released as of 10/9/2016 and I have included both songs here in today’s post.

SPEED OF LIFE
(Written by David Bowie. © 1977 Tintoretto Music and Screen Gems-EMI Music. All rights reserved.)

And the ‘B-side’…
CONFIRM HUMANITY (I’M NOT A ROBOT)
(© 2016 Nights on Venus/Craig C. Thomas. All rights reserved.)

Recording info:
Recorded and mixed July – August, 2016 at the ‘Cave Recording Studio, Golden, Colorado
Craig Carrington Thomas – all instruments, programming, engineering and production
Mastered by Brian Hazard at Resonance Mastering, Huntington Beach, California, September, 2016
Cover artwork by CCT

About the songs… starting with the ‘B-side’ first…
When I first started recording “Confirm Humanity…”, I thought it was kind of a goofy song but I liked the beat and the synths. Actually by the end, I really like what the song turned into and I’m very pleased with this one. The title of the song is a ready-made… I was on some website, signing up on their mailing list and there was a captcha that asked me to: Confirm Humanity (I’m Not a Robot). I thought that was kind of funny. Boom. Title. The sort of sinister surf/spy guitar part was played on my Danelectro baritone. There’s no bass part on this and that double hit on the snare drum… I must have listened to “Incense and Peppermints” around that time – the infamous double hi-hat hit – and it just got stuck in the ol’ subconscious.

Speed of Life“… this is the opening track from David Bowie’s album “Low” in 1977 and marked his new collaboration with musician/producer Brian Eno for the next three albums, the Berlin trilogy – “Low”, “Heroes”, and “Lodger”. I was somewhat surprised to learn that “Speed of Life” was Bowie’s first instrumental, especially since he already had 10 studio albums released by then.

"Miracle of the Slave" - Tintoretto
“Miracle of the Slave” – Tintoretto. If you’ve ever taken an Art History course, you’ve seen a slide of this painting.

Also very interesting when the licensing came back and I saw the publishing credits for “Speed of Life”. The first listed publisher was Tintoretto Music. Tintoretto was a 16th-century Italian painter during the Renaissance in Venice, most well-known perhaps for his painting, “Miracle of the Slave” (1548).

David Bowie in front of a portrait he painted of Iggy Pop in Berlin in 1976…

David Bowie was certainly a Renaissance man in his/our own time – musician, singer, songwriter, actor, art collector, and artist with artist being the broadest, most all-encompassing word to describe him. His paintings are probably the least known of his creative work but you can see several of them in this excellent article and interview with him from 1998, reprinted by the New York Times just a few days after his death this past January. And that’s really how 2016 began, what has set the tone for this year with the news of his death only 10 days in. It has been, for the most part, a very somber year; he and his artistic presence and sensibilities are very much missed.

“Speed of Life” is among my favorite Bowie songs and a song I have done live a number of times over the years, with various bands and at solo gigs. This is the first recorded version I’ve done of the song, in tribute to him and his life. I hope he would have liked this version.

A few milestones this month of October and on into November:
Nights on Venus turned 6 on October 8th.
I turned 60 on October 16th.
Erin and I get married this week.

"Speed of Life" single, released on 10/9/16...
“Speed of Life” single, released on 10/9/16…

Speed of Lifeis the most recent offering from Nights on Venus. The 2-song EP was released on October 9, 2016 and is available on Bandcamp, CD Baby, Amazon MP3, eMusic, and iTunes.

Cover artwork for "Unearthly"... photo/design by CCT
Cover artwork for “Unearthly”… photo/design by CCT

Unearthly, Santos and all previous albums are available as MP3 digital downloads on CD Baby, iTunes, Amazon MP3, eMusic, and the NoV Website.

Craig, end of July, 2016...
Craig, end of July, 2016…

Follow Craig and Nights on Venus on Twitter (@xlntsky),

 

photo essay: everyone deserves… a snow day… and broncos victory in super bowl 50

…So says the winter trail map for Copper Mountain Resort, and I heartily agree. We had a few ‘snow days’ this past week, the best one being at Copper Mtn. on Saturday for skiing of course, which is the kind of snow day Copper’s talking about.

Maybe it’s because I grew up in Dallas where any kind of snowfall was considered a novelty and even an inch of the white stuff could bring a city of half-a-million, back in the 1960’s, to a complete standstill… but I still love ‘snow days’. I suppose if I had grown up in Minnesota or Wisconsin, where every winter day must look like an endless rerun of the movie “Fargo”, maybe I’d feel differently.

My Dad always loves to tell the story of our first winter in Dallas – after we moved from Connecticut – where the headlines in the papers read: “Blanket of Snow Shuts Down Dallas” or something to that effect. That was one very thin blanket – one inch, maybe even less than an inch. Well here, take a look at this newsreel footage from long ago…

Yeah, he still gets a kick out of re-telling that story… and every snowstorm was considered a “freak” snowstorm despite the fact they happened at least once a year.

Digging out on Tuesday...
Digging out on Tuesday…

For me, snow days are still a novelty, even now after I’ve lived in the mountains here and they were more or less an everyday occurrence. Born a northerner, always a northerner I suppose. As the remains of already-forgotten Winter Storm Kayla have been plowed into parking-lot piles around town and are left to melt, and the temperature today is in the upper 50’s, here are a few pics from Golden this past week…

Washington Ave., downtown Golden
Washington Ave., downtown Golden

golden_2

golden_3 golden_4

Heading into town on Hwy. 6...
Heading into town on Hwy. 6…
golden_8
Clear Creek…

golden_6 golden_7craig_020616By the weekend, I-70 up to the high country was completely clear and we headed up to Copper Mountain. Awesome snow conditions and just an absolutely gorgeous day – mostly clear blue skies, not too warm, not too cold. Excellent skiing.

copper1
Hello, random person… You just landed in my blog. From the patio at Union Creek, Copper Mtn.
Part of the crowd by the Denver Art Museum... #BroncosParade
Part of the crowd by the Denver Art Museum… #BroncosParade

And Congratulations to the Denver Broncos for their dominating win over the Carolina Panthers, 24-10, in Super Bowl 50 on Sunday! The “experts” seemed to forget that defense wins championships. Today was the victory parade here in Denver; the crowd at Civic Center Park was estimated at 1 million people… which would be around 20% of the state’s total population all in one place. Which is a lot of people. Thank you Broncos for a great season! A few pics from the parade…

The crowd at Civic Center Park, 2/9/2016, #UnitedInOrange
The crowd at Civic Center Park, 2/9/2016, #UnitedInOrange
And this crowd shot is even wilder...
And this crowd shot is even wilder…

And takin’ it to the streets with the City of Golden Fire Department…

 

Cover artwork for "Unearthly"... photo/design by CCT
Cover artwork for “Unearthly”… photo/design by CCT

Unearthly, the new 6-song EP was released on December 30, 2015 and is available on Bandcamp, CD Baby, Amazon, eMusic, and of course, iTunes.

"Perspective," the 4th Nights on Venus album, MP3 album cover. Available on iTunes, CD Baby, Amazon, eMusic, Bandcamp, and the NoV website.
“Perspective,” the 4th Nights on Venus album, MP3 album cover. Available on iTunes, CD Baby, Amazon, eMusic, Bandcamp, and the NoV website.

Santos, Perspective and all previous albums  from Nights on Venus are available as MP3 digital downloads on CD Baby, iTunes, Amazon MP3, eMusic, and the NoV Website.

Summit selfie... Mt. Flora, October, 2015
Summit selfie… Mt. Flora, October, 2015

Follow Craig and Nights on Venus on Twitter (@xlntsky), Facebook, and Instagram.

 

new year… goin’ through the vinyl… hidden gems… and an inadvertent review of boston’s “third stage” album, 30 years after the fact…

Happy 2016!

Early morning on the slopes at Copper Mtn.
Early morning on the slopes at Copper Mtn.

I hope your new year has gotten off to an excellent start, ten days in. Wishing you all the best and let’s keep the good stuff going all through this year.

Brrrrrrrrrrrr...
Brrrrrr… Yeah, it was a tad nippy up at Copper 01/01/16

With the release of the new EP/album Unearthly the last week of 2015 – and now available for download on CD Baby and iTunes, streaming through Apple Music, Tidal, et al. – it’s time for a little break… replenish the well so to speak.

Which means skiing on New Year’s Day and more skiing for the first 3 months here, and also the first major project of the new year. The one I’ve been putting off for 9 months since I brought all the LPs up from Dallas. The one called “going through the record collection”, as in vinyl, and it looks like this…

Rob (John Cusack) going through his ginormous record collection... from the film "High Fidelity" (2000).
Rob (John Cusack) going through his ginormous record collection… from the film “High Fidelity” (2000). In the movie, Rob owns Championship Vinyl, a record store, and yeah, this is pretty much me – a vinyl nerd, though not a vinyl fanatic (yes, there is a difference). I see Brian Eno’s “Before and After Science” there on top…

I realize this is a very age-specific thing here, although, believe it or not, vinyl records are making a comeback now. But if you’ve grown up with just downloading or streaming, you might ask: why even bother with these relics? Well, I love the vinyl/LP format… that’s what it really comes down to. That and the quality of sound from a clean copy (no pops, scratches, static, etc.). I love the CD format as well. Here’s an interesting little infographic I found out there on the web…

Recorded music formats through the years, 1980-2009...
Recorded music formats through the years, 1980-2010… What I find fascinating about this is how long the cassette tape format lasted, how long it endured… right up until 2004 and then, poof – it’s gone. Cassettes were actually more popular than CDs until 1991. And also note something of a resurgence in vinyl from 2008-2010. A trend that has only continued since then… Kind of mesmerizing to watch.

And it’s not that I don’t want to go through most of these records and listen to them again. On the contrary, it’s just that, that is the problem in and of itself: I will end up listening to many (most) of them and the process of going through them will take at least twice as long. And after a week of this, that is exactly what has happened.

Styx! "Suite Madame Blue" is on this one...
Styx! “Suite Madame Blue” is on this one…

The overwhelming majority of these vinyl record albums come from the inventory of my former, and currently defunct, art gallery/record store, Excellent Sky Gallery & Empire Records (2003-2007) in the small mountain town of Empire, Colorado, 36 miles west of Denver. The rest are from my own personal collection over the years. I had thousands of records in the store at one time; I still have quite a few left… and as I started to go through them I was surprised by how many I have that are still unopened, 8 1/2  years after the gallery closed and decades since those albums were first released. I had completely forgotten.

So I’ve been listening to these artifacts (relics) all this week… and right now. I’ll let the character Rob, from High Fidelity – who’s something of a hero to me – explain:

books-matter-high-fidelityRob is the main character from the film which comes from the book, High Fidelity by Nick Hornby, and if you loved the movie, check out the book as well – it’s a good read. Sifting through the unopened albums, I come across these gems:

Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers - back cover from Hard Promises (1981)
Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers – back cover from Hard Promises (1981)

ZZ Top – “Eliminator” and the follow-up, “Afterburner” from the mid-1980’s (and for some odd reason I have 4 copies of their album  “Fandango” and they are well-played).
U2 – “The Joshua Tree”, from 1987… that weird time when the music industry was switching from vinyl to the next big thing – CDs.
Sting – “The Dream of the Blue Turtles”, his first solo album from 1985 – features the hit “If You Love Somebody Set Them Free” and “Russians”…
Patti Smith – “Horses”, still unopened, though I suspect not for long.
Shoes – one of my favorite power-pop bands from Zion, Illinois and their album “Tongue Twister” from 1981…
Prince’s “1999”, unopened…
The Pretenders’ 1st album from 1980…
and, OMG… Paris “Big Towne, 2061” – Bob Welch’s band between Fleetwood Mac and his solo career.
And on and on it goes…

Record sleeve, Times Square soundtrack (1980)
Record sleeve, Times Square soundtrack (1980)

OK, so I’m working backwards through the alphabet here; continuing on I find surprisingly clean copies of Three Dog Night’s “Suitable For Framing” and “Harmony” (and one very embarrassing, politically incorrect – by today’s standards – inner gatefold photo of the band)… 4 copies of Elton John’s “Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only the Piano Player” (?), and even the more obscure albums like the “Times Square” soundtrack (from the equally obscure 1980 film) play quite well after all these years… and, Head East! And here I think of the old RIAA “this record will never become obsolete” notification on the back of the early Beatles’ albums.

From 1986, Boston's 3rd album, "Third Stage"
From 1986, Boston’s 3rd album, “Third Stage”

Eventually I come to Boston. “More Than a Feeling” Boston. Their album, “Third Stage” from 1986. 8 years after their previous album “Don’t Look Back”, which was their 2nd album. 8 years between albums is a mighty long time, especially back then. I’d never heard the album in its entirety, just the two hits – “Amanda” and “We’re Ready” – and it’s unopened. So yeah, it’s time to open it, give it a spin…

Nazz Nazz, their 2nd (and best) album from 1969... with original in-store labeling!
Nazz Nazz, their 2nd (and best) album from 1969… with original in-store labeling!

Standard operating procedure dictates that when you open a vinyl record album and put it on the turntable the very first time – its maiden voyage – you burn a copy onto another format. From the 1970’s through the mid-90’s the blank cassette tape – usually from Maxell – was the de facto choice for this. Then later in the 90’s, it was on CD, CD-R. And when you had burned a copy, you put the vinyl record back in its sleeve and never, ever took it out of its sleeve again, for any reason. Under any circumstances…  unless/until of course the tape got jammed up or the CD started skipping…

Craig demonstrating the proper technique in handling vinyl...
Craig demonstrating the proper technique in handling vinyl…. Hey, this is important! – I’m not kidding!

This is how you make your vinyl last – treat it gently, treat it kindly, and it will reward you with years of ‘high-fidelity’.

Had imports too, because as a used record store, that's what you do.
Had imports too, because as a used record store, that’s what you do.

So, back to Boston… I’ve been listening to this album most of this past week – now burned on CD-R of course – revisiting 1986, which in the Boston/Tom Scholz universe sounds very much like 1978. Which is to say they picked up where they left off and I kinda love it, as it takes me back to that time of their heyday when I was in undergraduate school in the late ’70s. That trademark layered guitar wall-of-sound that can level tall buildings if you would only crank it up high enough is still in effect on “Third Stage”, and it’s a great-sounding album. Great-sounding now, again by today’s standards, and I’m sure this was even more awesome back in 1986. I’ve got the two sets of oversized speakers so I’m crankin’ it; Erin comes down to the basement and says, “You’re like a teenage boy in the basement!…” and I’m like, “So, what’s your point, Shmoopy?”

And so she sits down and listens to the album with me…

Inner sleeve from Boston's "Third Stage" album (1986)... the pipe organ pipes.
Inner gatefold photo from Boston’s “Third Stage” album (1986)… the pipe organ pipes.

Like I said, 8 years is a long time to go between albums and as it took 6 years to record “Third Stage”, according to the liner notes, it seems that the rest of the original band drifted off to other things ’cause only Tom and the late lead singer Brad Delp appear here. Have to say I think this is their best album, even more than their impactful debut album from 1976. This in spite of the fact that the guitar riff from “I Think I Like It” is a lift of a riff from Journey’s “Anyway You Want It” (it is, listen to it). Tom, what were you thinking? Dude, you graduated from M.I.T. – you know better. Also very interesting is the pipe organ pipe motif in the album artwork – it’s in the body of the spaceship on the cover and then on the inside sleeve photo, dimly lit in red light. Real curious about that – would like to hear the story, as I have more than a passing familiarity with pipe organs. Just sayin’…

Mmmm, yum... Now doesn't that enchilada plate look good? From the inside sleeve photo on ZZ Top's "Tres Hombres" album (1973). I'm assuming this feast came from Leo's on N. Shepherd in Houston, TX.
Mmmm, yum… Now doesn’t that enchilada plate look good? From the inside gatefold photo on ZZ Top’s “Tres Hombres” album (1973). I’m assuming this feast came from Leo’s on N. Shepherd in Houston, TX. This… this is what you miss by not having artwork that you can actually see on a vinyl record album. Enchiladas!
Prince, "1999" from 1982
Prince, “1999” from 1982

Well, it has been fun this past week re-discovering, re-acquainting myself with the old record inventory, and the fun will continue until I’m done consolidating… as in the meantime I find 3 very good (+) to excellent copies of Fleetwood Mac’s “Rumours”. If you’re a vinyl LP aficionado you know the scoring system:
M – Mint (unopened, unplayed)
NM – Near Mint
EX – Excellent
VG+ – Very Good plus, but not excellent
VG – Very good
G – Acceptable… and I never took anything below this in the record store, because if I played it and couldn’t listen to it – excessive pops, scratches, static, whatever – I wouldn’t sell it.

Which is my way of saying I hope to re-open the gallery/record store at some point in the future, back up in the mountains… preferably sooner than later. I’m making plans to paint again in 2016 after a 6-year hiatus, along with continuing the recorded work I’m doing in Nights on Venus. Full-length album this year, possibly by August…

Cover artwork for "Unearthly"... photo/design by CCT
Cover artwork for “Unearthly”… photo/design by CCT

Unearthly, the new 6-song EP was released on December 30, 2015 and is available on Bandcamp, CD Baby, and iTunes.

"Perspective," the 4th Nights on Venus album, MP3 album cover. Available on iTunes, CD Baby, Amazon, eMusic, Bandcamp, and the NoV website.
“Perspective,” the 4th Nights on Venus album, MP3 album cover. Available on iTunes, CD Baby, Amazon, eMusic, Bandcamp, and the NoV website.

Santos, Perspective and all previous albums  from Nights on Venus are available as MP3 digital downloads on CD Baby, iTunes, Amazon MP3, eMusic, and the NoV Website.

Summit selfie... Mt. Flora, October, 2015
Summit selfie… Mt. Flora, October, 2015

Follow Craig and Nights on Venus on Twitter (@xlntsky), Facebook, and Instagram.

 

 

 

 

 

merry christmas… “unearthly” EP releases this week…

First of all, Merry Christmas to Everyone, wherever you may be!
And Peace on Earth, goodwill toward men…”

christmas_2015

Peace and goodwill… two things we need a lot more of in this world after what has been a very tumultuous year in 2015. I wish those two things for everyone, as well as joy and happiness and prosperity – having enough and not being in lack – and hope, not just during the holiday season, but throughout the year, every year as we move into 2016 and beyond.

Oh, I left out kindness. We need a lot more of that as well, especially here in the states… (some people have forgotten what this actually is).

kindness

Unearthly, the 2nd EP from Nights on Venus this year, releases officially on 12/30, but it is available now on Bandcamp as a FREE download. The entire album… or as much as you want (individual tracks are free as well). From now through 12/29

So here it ’tis…

To download the album: click on the Unearthly – EP link, listen, check it out, and click Buy Now; enter “0” in the name your price box, then click the Download Now button… and away you go.
And I hope you enjoy it!

For those of you out there who have been following Nights on Venus for a while and/or listening and downloading the music, this is just my way of saying thank you for supporting my efforts these first 5 years of Nights on Venus.

And now that Christmas is upon us, there will be much cooking taking place here at La Casa NoV today and tomorrow. There will be “It’s a Wonderful Life” and 24 hours of Ralphie (“A Christmas Story”) on the tele – I love ’em. There’s snow on the ground here (and I predict it will be here until April – strong El Nino).  It’s going to be cold this weekend and we’ll have the fireplace on.

No, I have not forgotten what this season is about… It is about Light coming into the world at a time when it is needed the most.

Nights on Venus will be back with new music in 2016 – a full-length album probably around late July/August…

Merry Christmas and  Happy New Year to all!

snowy_xmas

Cover artwork for "Unearthly"... photo/design by CCT
Cover artwork for “Unearthly”… photo/design by CCT

Unearthly, the 6-song EP will be released on December 30th, but is available now on Bandcamp as a free download until 12/29.

"Perspective," the 4th Nights on Venus album, MP3 album cover. Available on iTunes, CD Baby, Amazon, eMusic, Bandcamp, and the NoV website.
“Perspective,” the 4th Nights on Venus album, MP3 album cover. Available on iTunes, CD Baby, Amazon, eMusic, Bandcamp, and the NoV website.

Santos, Perspective and all previous albums  from Nights on Venus are available as MP3 digital downloads on CD Baby, iTunes, Amazon MP3, eMusic, and the NoV website.

Summit selfie... Mt. Flora, October, 2015
Summit selfie… Mt. Flora, October, 2015

Follow Craig and Nights on Venus on Twitter (@xlntsky), Facebook, and Instagram.