Art Dudley

Art Dudley  |  Apr 09, 2020  |  2 comments
Singer/actress Nancy Priddy's sole commercial recording, a 1968 album titled You've Come This Way Before—originally issued on Dot Records and now reissued by Sundazed Music/Modern Harmonic (Dot/Modern Harmonic MH-8044)—is a period piece. The arrangements, in which strings, flutes, Herb Alpert–esque trumpets, a harpsichord, a Vox Continental organ, and New Christy Minstrel–style backing singers all appear, are somewhat dated. (Indeed, the opening bars of the title song sound like the sort of cheesy electric pop that the producers of This American Life use as incidental music, apparently to express their limitless stockpiles of irony.) And some of Priddy's lyrics make the listener thankful for her poor enunciation.
Art Dudley  |  Apr 01, 2020  |  61 comments
In my January 2020 Listening column, I wrote about a place where three things overlap: the joys (and benefits) of being a record collector, the natural tendency to grow and challenge ourselves as listeners, and the need to forgive ourselves for the shortcomings of our youth. The hook was the story of how I started out disliking the music of guitarist John Fahey (1939–2001) and ended up loving it. But it could just as easily have been about cooking or hiking or Jethro Tull or any of a number of other things.
Art Dudley  |  Mar 25, 2020  |  9 comments
I am the world's worst consumer. Not only have I made more than my share of disastrous purchase decisions, I'm also inexplicably luckless: If there's one defective sample or repack in an inventory, it will find me.

I'm also a deceit magnet, and I'm spineless: More than once in my life, I have made abominable purchase decisions solely to please a manipulative salesman or a disinterested third party (read: girlfriend). There is abundant photographic evidence that I don't know how to shop for clothes, my glasses are wrong for my face because I trust the advice of opticians with bad or no taste, and the less competent/more antagonistic the barber, the likelier I am to say "Great job, I love it" and tip them 50%. If I were smarter, I might actually be rich by now, or at least comfortable.

Art Dudley  |  Mar 11, 2020  |  23 comments
In the January 2020 Stereophile, I described my transformation from John Fahey skeptic to John Fahey fan; suffice it to say, the late guitarist was far from the only musical artist whose work I came to enjoy only after a number of failed attempts. Another was the English band Yes, which I saw in concert in 1977, at New York's Madison Square Garden: I was so bored by the many lengthy instrumental solos, each one remarkable only for the sheer number of notes being squirted at me, that I literally nodded off. (In my defense, it was also very warm in there.)
Art Dudley  |  Mar 03, 2020  |  46 comments
The stars are matter. We are matter. But it doesn't matter.Don Van Vliet

Only sensibilities trained on poetry can wholly appreciate it.T.S. Eliot (writing about Djuna Barnes's Nightwood)

In the 17th century, steam engines began appearing throughout Europe and Asia, ushered into existence by any number of different inventors. More recently, multiple inventors conceived and cooked up the atomic bomb, the jet engine, and the solid-body electric guitar.

Art Dudley  |  Feb 28, 2020  |  7 comments
Hi-fi is like cake. Most people enjoy listening to music, and most people like cake.

People who like cake tend to like different things about it. Some people like a flourless cake, some people like a fluffy angel food cake, and some like a cake loaded up with little pieces of carrot and God-knows-what-else. People who like hi-fi also tend to like different things. Some like punchy, forceful sounds, some like realistic, natural tones, some like texture and color, some like "air," and some like to hear things go whooshing from one speaker to the other. It's all okay.

Art Dudley  |  Feb 05, 2020  |  7 comments
Next to Christmas carols, Sousa marches, and the collected works of Bobby "Boris" Pickett, there's no more seasonal music than bluegrass, which comes to life at the 30 or so major outdoor festivals and scores of smaller events that take place every summer throughout the US. As I write this, on the day after Thanksgiving, 2019's bluegrass season is only a memory, and the 2020 season is more than a half a year away.
Art Dudley  |  Jan 28, 2020  |  85 comments
Only recently did I learn that successive generations of the Chevrolet Corvette are referred to by the cognoscenti with two-character alpha-numeric identifiers: C1, C2, C3, and so on. I learned this while reading about the most recent version—C8, known to non-cognoscenti as the 2020 Corvette—which happens to be the first version since C2 that impresses me. (I say that as one who used to work for the owner of a C3, a then-middle-aged male who actually boasted, while under the influence, that he and two of his C3-owning friends drove them solely because their juvenile styling attracted juveniles. Rest assured I left his employ within days of that revelation.)
Art Dudley  |  Jan 02, 2020  |  14 comments
During my first attempt at college, I lived in a dormitory where my next- door neighbors had an informal trade in pharmaceuticals; their most ardent customers were my neighbors across the hall. One of the latter was a fellow named Pete, a good-natured guy (if a bit sanctimonious in his disdain for music he considered insufficiently bluesy) whose heavy rotation list was, at the time, topped by John Fahey's The Voice of the Turtle. I merely disliked the record the first time I heard it, but in the days ahead I came to loathe it. I found it repetitive, masturbatory, technically inept, and dead boring. Pete hated my music, too.
Art Dudley  |  Dec 17, 2019  |  6 comments
Think of the greatest commercial LPs made during the past 72 years: the Solti-Culshaw recording of Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen, Magda Tagliaferro's D'ombre et de lumiere, Ornette Coleman's The Shape of Jazz to Come, John Lennon's John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band, and a thousand or so others.

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