Saturday, March 28, 2009

Super Oldies of the Week

What's an oldie? How old should a song be before it is considered an oldie? My friend’s kid who was born in the mid 1990s thinks any song released before 2005 is an oldie. Hardly so in my book.

Should the term oldie be applied to songs of a certain era or to songs that pass a certain numeric threshold based on the year it was released and first became popular?

For the purposes of the weekly top 10 that I turn into Plannine’s Classic Top 30 page, it seems that songs from the early 1980s or older qualify as an oldie. The current definition that I will use for an oldie is a song that is 20 years old or older.

Hence all music that was released and became popular in 1989 for me will be the defining point of what is an oldie. Certainly other people will think otherwise. This means popular tracks like Paul McCartney’s “My Brave Face,” U2’s “With or Without You” and Madonna’s “Like a Virgin” are all oldies. These records were released at least 20 years ago. Makes you feel old huh?

Here are my 10 favorite oldies of the week as submitted to Plannine’s site:

1. My Hawaii - The Rascals
2. Oh Boy - Buddy Holly
3. La La La La La - The Blendells
4. Jennifer Eccles - The Hollies
5. Orinoco Flow (Sail Away) - Enya
6. New Year's Day - U2
7. Nights Are Forever Without You - England Dan & John Ford Coley
8. The Lord's Prayer - Sister Janet Mead
9. One Tin Soldier - Coven
10. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance - Gene Pitney

The oldest song on this list is Buddy Holly’s “Oh Boy” which came out in the 1950s. The newest is Enya’s “Orinoco Flow” which was a hit in 1988. Hard to imagine an Enya track as an oldie. The song is more than 20 years old. Yes, you are old.

England Dan and John Ford Coley, originally uploaded by lwb10463.


Sad to hear of the passing this week of country and pop singer Dan Seals. He was the “England Dan” of England Dan & John Ford Coley who had a string of soft rock pop hits in the mid to late 1970s. England Dan & John Ford Coley’s records included “Nights are Forever (Without You)”, “I’d Really Love to See You Tonight”, “It’s So Sad to Belong” and “Love is the Answer”. Dan Seals later went on to a solo country music career in the 1980s and early 1990s. He was the younger brother to Jim Seals of Seals & Croft fame. Rest in Peace Dan.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Mel's Weekly Top 20 - 3/22/09

Neko Case sings her latest hit "People Got a Lotta Nerve" (currently at #8 on the Weekly Top 20) in this week's video showcase feature. The song is from Neko Case's new album Middle Cyclone. The video was recorded for QTV.

The list below contains 20 of my favorite current tracks that are playing on my iTunes and iPods. These are some of the songs radio should be playing if they're not already.

Rank Song Title - Artist - Last Week

1. No You Girls - Franz Ferdinand - 3
2. Working On A Dream - Bruce Springsteen - 1
3. Poker Face - Lady GaGa - 4
4. My Lucky Day - Bruce Springsteen - 2
5. Gives You Hell - The All-American Rejects - 5
6. Magnificent - U2 - 8
7. Time Lapse Lifeline - Maria Taylor - 9
8. People Got a Lotta Nerve - Neko Case - 11
9. Still Have My Heart - Caitlin Crosby - 7
10. Get On Your Boots - U2 - 6
11. I'm Not Over - Carolina Liar - 17
12. Is Anybody Out There? - The Downtown Fiction - 18
13. Natalie - The NuRu - 15
14. The Rake's Song - The Decemberists - 14
15. Boys With Girlfriends - Meiko - 13
16. Just Dance - Lady GaGa - 16
17. My Life Would Suck Without You - Kelly Clarkson - 10
18. California - Shannon Hurley - new
19. The Fear - Lily Allen - 12
20. Good Days Bad Days - Kaiser Chiefs - new

I found several new tracks on that I'd also like to feature today. Click on the player links below to listen to these wonderful new tracks.

Shannon Hurley's "California" makes its debut on the Weekly Top 20 at #18 this week. It's a wonderful new track by a talented and largely undiscovered singer. I read she is popular on

The NuRu's track "Natalie" is a longtime and largely ignored fixture at I think this is a terrific song that in some ways reminds me of a Hootie and the Blowfish track with underpinnings of The Corrs' "When the Stars Go Blue" in song structure.

If there was a song that paid tribute to the late George Harrison, this could be it. Darrin Kohavi's voice reminds me of the late George as he cites The Beatles and the late Jim Croce as his musical influences. He does a good cover of Croce's "Operator" and has released an EP a few weeks back. This is a song that I am certain will reach my Weekly Top 20 soon.

Chanel Campbell's track "Cry Cry Cry" should be a radio standard someday. It is newly discovered and not too many people have heard it.

Frankly all 4 tracks should be regular staples on adult contemporary radio.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Wither Not Finetune

One of my favorite streaming websites is I joined Finetune in the spring of 2007. It is a free service that up to this month, allowed users to build their own online jukeboxes or playlist utilizing the music available at the library.

They have more than 2 million songs available for inclusion to user playlists. The music available in the Finetune library is supplied by all of the major labels as well as a number of independents. Artists available for inclusion on playlists included everyone from The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Elton John, Fleetwood Mac to U2, Lily Allen, Carrie Underwood, Bruddah IZ, Chet Atkins, Johnny Cash, Enya, Timbaland, Britney Spears, Kitaro, The Four Tenors, Herb Alpert, punk rock artists, metal bands and hip-hop artists.... plus everything else in-between and obscure.

Users were allowed to build customized playlists utilizing the Finetune library of songs. I created more than 40 playlists that covered several genres including current top 40 hits, classic rock, 60s and 70s oldies, to popular standards, Hawaiian music, science fiction soundtracks and classic country. Each playlist contained a minimum of about 45 tracks before they became active. There was no limit on the amount of songs that could be included with each playlist. The only restriction was that no artist could have more than 3 songs each per playlist... so only 3 Madonna, Blondie, Led Zeppelin, tracks, etc., per list.

The small restriction did not limit user creativity to generate hundreds of playlists on the service. Finetune even employed a professional DJ to come up with mainstream playlists to cover many different genres. The service also allowed users to create playlists on the fly based on artists or songs they included in their own playlists.

One of the best features of was that it allowed users to embed playlists to their blogs and websites, much like how YouTube does with video. Users could also include custom icons for their playlists, post descriptions of each playlist, have other users become fans or comment on the playlist and listen to their playlist on supported mobile devices such as Apple's iPhone.

All that changed this month.

Finetune has apparently been throttled by the music industry, more than likely by the much hated (by music fans) RIAA. Finetune stopped users from editing or creating new playlists. No songs can be added to current playlists or new ones created using the present catalog or new music releases. The embed feature has also been disabled.

Finetune has been relatively quiet about this turn of events, not mentioning much to their user base unless inquired through email or found by luck on Twitter. So far the only thing that has been stated (as of this posting date) is:

"Playlist building and embedding is currently disabled. Sorry!

Dear Users - We're seeing all your feedback. We understand your confusion. Our reason d'être is in flux. More news soon.

Service changes doing what we expected... further changes maybe coming later this week, will update when we decide."

I hope this is not the end of the Finetune music site as we know it. I can hope that they work things out with the record labels and the RIAA and allow us to at least keep the playlists we built and allow us and other users to keep on listening to them. Finetune is a good way to share music without doing it illegally.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Mel's Weekly Top 20 - 3/15/09

These are the 20 most popular current songs that are being played on my iTunes and iPods. Note that not all of these songs are the usual top 40 radio hits. Some are indie releases, alternative tracks that I think radio should be playing.

Rank / Song Title / Artist / Last Week's Position

1 Working On A Dream (2nd week @ #1!) - Bruce Springsteen - 1
2 My Lucky Day - Bruce Springsteen - 3
3 No You Girls - Franz Ferdinand - 10
4 Poker Face - Lady GaGa - 6
5 Gives You Hell - The All-American Rejects - 5
6 Get On Your Boots - U2 - 2
7 Still Have My Heart - Caitlin Crosby - 9
8 Magnificent - U2 - 15
9 Time Lapse Lifeline - Maria Taylor - 8
10 My Life Would Suck Without You - Kelly Clarkson - 4
11 People Got a Lotta Nerve - Neko Case - 14
12 The Fear - Lily Allen - 7
13 Boys With Girlfriends - Meiko - 13
14 The Rake's Song - The Decemberists - 16
15 Natalie - The NuRu - 18
16 Just Dance - Lady GaGa - 17
17 I'm Not Over - Carolina Liar - new
18 Is Anybody Out There? - The Downtown Fiction - new
19 The Sun Ain't Shining No More - The Asteroids Galaxy Tour - 11
20 Lost+ (with Jay-Z) / Viva la Vida
(Live At the 51st Grammy Awards) - Coldplay - 12

Three songs this week are featured on music site. They are:

Friday, March 13, 2009

Top 10 Oldies of the Week

TOP 10 SINGLE TRACKS sent to Plannine's Classic Top 30 site:

1. The Lord's Prayer - Sister Janet Mead
2. La La La La La La - The Blendells
3. My Hawaii - The Rascals
4. Jennifer Eccles - The Hollies
5. Oh Boy - Buddy Holly
6. Pilot of the Airwaves - Charlie Dore
7. New Year's Day - U2
8. The Unicorn - Irish Rovers
9. Orinoco Flow (Sail Away) - Enya
10. The Pushbike Song - The Mixtures

"La La La La La" by The Blendells.

(audio and graphic only - no moving video)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Mel's Weekly Top 20 - 3/8/2009

Here are my favorite current iPod and iTunes tracks of the week.

1. Working On A Dream - Bruce Springsteen - 2
2. Get On Your Boots - U2 - 1
3. My Lucky Day - Bruce Springsteen - 4
4. My Life Would Suck Without You - Kelly Clarkson - 3
5. Gives You Hell - The All-American Rejects - 5
6. Poker Face - Lady GaGa - 7
7. The Fear - Lily Allen - 6
8. Time Lapse Lifeline - Maria Taylor - 10
9. Still Have My Heart - Caitlin Crosby - 9
10. No You Girls - Franz Ferdinand - 18
11. The Sun Ain't Shining No More - The Asteroids Galaxy Tour - 8
12. Lost+ (with Jay-Z) / Viva la Vida
(Live At the 51st Grammy Awards) - Coldplay - 12
13. Boys With Girlfriends - Meiko - 11
14. People Got a Lotta Nerve - Neko Case - 17
15. Magnificent - U2 - new
16. The Rake's Song - The Decemberists - 15
17. Just Dance - Lady GaGa - 13
18. Natalie - The NuRu - 20
19. Lovers In Japan - Coldplay - 14
20. Don't Trust Me - 3OH!3 - 16

This week's video track:

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Hawaii's Radio Oldies are Easier to Find

Island Summer 60s & 70s

Many records released in the Hawaii market during the 1960s and 1970s became huge local, radio hits in the island while never making it quite big on the mainland. I've spent many years looking for CD and digital copies of those hits that I originally had on vinyl but needed to upgrade. In recent years several compilation CDs have been released to make these hard-to-find tracks available to a wide audience once again.

Starting with this post, I'll occasionally highlight my favorite CD compilation of hard-to-find single tracks. First up:

Island Summer 60s & 70s

"Island Summer 60s & 70s", is a compilation CD that brings back top 40 and local Hawaii hits that ruled the islands’ radio airwaves. The compilation CD released by Neos Productions in 2004, is still available at Hawaii music retailers throughout the state. The disc contains 16 classic radio tracks including several songs that were not available on a digital format until the issuance of this album.

These songs include the 1970's karaoke favorite, "Forevermore" by the Tokyo Happy Coats, (which is sung mainly in Japanese), the debut single and top 10 hit by The Sweet Marie, "Remember Mary" and Maui's Merrill Frankhauser's laid back track, "On Our Way to Hana".

Also appearing for the first time on a local compilation CD are Three Dog Night's cover of the Jesse Colin-Young track "Sunlight", Liz Damon & the Orient Express' only Billboard Top 40 hit, "1900 Yesterday," and The Stylistics' classic B-side which became a local radio hit, "Ebony Eyes".

Other favorites include Ku'i Lee's original recording of "I'll Remember You," the Makaha Sons of Niihau's "Hawaii 78", Cecilio & Kapono's "Sunflower", Country Comfort's "Pretty Girl" and Kalapana's "You Make It Hard." Well known top 40 hits also on the disc include Sonny Geraci & Climax's "Precious & Few" which hit #1 in Hawaii back in 1971, 6 months before it hit the top 10 nationally; The Stampeders' "Sweet City Woman," King Harvest's "Dancing in the Moonlight," Billy Paul's "Me and Mrs. Jones," and Beverly Bremers' "Don't Say You Don't Remember."

Most of the songs on Island Summer 60s and 70s were in regular rotation on AM radio stations in the 1960s and 1970s including KKUA, KPOI, KORL, KMVI and KCCN.

“Island Summer 60s & 70s” is a great CD to add to your collection if you are trying to find these previously hard to locate tracks. It certainly is a major upgrade if all you have of these songs are still on scratchy old vinyl or tape.

Track List

1. Sweet City Woman - Stampeders
2. You Make It Hard - Kalapana
3. Precious and Few - Climax
4. Sunlight - Three Dog Night
5. Dancing In The Moonlight - King Harvest
6. Ebony Eyes - Stylistics
7. Me and Mrs. Jones - Billy Paul
8. Sunflower - Cecilio & Kapono
9. 1900 Yesterday - Liz Damon & the Orient Express
10. I'll Remember You - Ku'i Lee
11. Don't Say You Don't Remember - Beverly Bremers
12. Forevermore - Tokyo Happy Coats
13. Pretty Girl - Country Comfort
14. Hawaii 78 - Makaha Sons of Niihau
15. On Our Way To Hana - Merrell Fankhauser
16. Remember Mary - Sweet Marie

QUOTES: What others are saying about "Island Summer 60s & 70s"

"If you grew up in the era of transistor radios and vinyl 45-rpm singles and 33 1/3-rpm long-playing albums, this one connects you to the past.... the disc packages acts that attracted audiences in big concerts, small gigs and dance hall gatherings here.", Wayne Harada, Honolulu Advertiser, Sept. 12, 2004.

"... there's a song here of sufficient rarity that island residents who remember it may want to buy this album just to get it. "Nevermore [sic] (Kinito Itsumademo)," by the Tokyo Happy Coats, was a hit here, but the Japanese group never even reached Billboard's national "Bubbling Under" chart. So anyone who has been looking for the Tokyo Happy Coats' single on eBay can now end their search with the release of this album." John Berger, "Island Mele" column, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, Sept. 24, 2004.

Available From

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Mel's Weekly Top 20 - 3/1/09

Here are the 20 most favorite current songs on my iTunes this week.

1. Get On Your Boots - U2 - 1
2. Working On A Dream - Bruce Springsteen - 4
3. My Life Would Suck Without You - Kelly Clarkson - 2
4. My Lucky Day - Bruce Springsteen - 7
5. Gives You Hell - The All-American Rejects - 3
6. The Fear - Lily Allen - 5
7. Poker Face - Lady GaGa - 13
8. The Sun Ain't Shining No More - The Asteroids Galaxy Tour - 6
9. Still Have My Heart - Caitlin Crosby - 12
10. Time Lapse Lifeline - Maria Taylor - 14
11. Boys With Girlfriends - Meiko - 11
12.Lost+ (with Jay-Z) / Viva la Vida
(Live At the 51st Grammy Awards) - Coldplay - 15
13. Just Dance - Lady GaGa - 16
14. Lovers In Japan - Coldplay - 8
15. The Rake's Song - The Decemberists - 19
16. Dont Trust Me - 3OH!3 - 9
17. People Got a Lotta Nerve - Neko Case - 20
18. No You Girls - Franz Ferdinand - new
19. Miles Away - Madonna - 10
20. Natalie - The NuRu - new

The chart is swinging more to independent and alternative hits in recent weeks. Records such as "Natalie" by The NuRu, "Peope Got a Lotta Nerve" by Neko Case, "The Rake Song" by The Decemberists, "Boys with Girlfriends" by Meiko, "The Sun Ain't Shining No More" by The Asteroid Galaxy Tour and "Time Lapse Lifeline" by Maria Taylor are not listed on most mainstream charts. Mainstream hits are still a mainstay of this chart, with U2's "Get on Your Boots" topping the chart for the 2nd consecutive week. My personal chart differs from most charts such as the Billbord Hot 100.

This week's featured video is from Meiko, "Boys with Girlfriends" is a popular track on The Sixty-One website and has been on my chart since late last year. It topped the chart in December 2008 for 2 weeks and then went back up to number one early last month for another week. Currently stopped at #11, this song is a great mainstream sounding track that has yet to be founded by the masses. Enjoy the video:

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Super Oldie of the Week: Charlie Dore

Charlie Dore was pretty much a one hit wonder as far as I know. She stormed up the charts with "Pilot of the Airwaves" in 1980 and was never heard from again (at least by me). The song is a pretty folk rocker about the singer's infatuation with a radio DJ (remember them?)... Back in the day, radio DJs were like our virtual friends who communicated with us on the radio through the songs they played. And while the message was far from personal, some of the best DJs and radio stations of the day took telephone requests and dedications and actually played the songs people wanted to hear.

This is largely not true anymore as most stations are highly automated and rarely if ever take song requests from their listeners. Certainly most contemporary music stations don't play music like this anymore. Todays kids rather hear rap and hip hop from machines that pass as DJs.

Anyway, if you haven't, give this video a spin and enjoy Charlie Dore's "Pilot of the Airwaves".


1. La La La La La La - The Blendells
2. Beyond the Clouds - The Poppy Family
3. Jennifer Eccles - The Hollies
4. My Hawaii - The Rascals
5. The Lord's Prayer - Sister Janet Mead
6. Stop, Wait, & Listen - Circus
7. All the Tea in China - Susan Jacks
8. The Name Game - Shirley Ellis
9. If You Wanna Get to Heaven - Ozark Mountain Daredevils
10. Oh Boy - Buddy Holly

Music Tech: Sansa Slot Music Player

Sansa SlotMusic Player

I bought a Sansa Slot Music Player in December and haven't used it as much as I do my iPods. It is a small, portable music player that is very affordable at just barely under $20. Slot Music Players are available at WalMart, Best Buy stores, and other retailers.

The Slot Music player was introduced in October 2008 as the device to support a new music media format called "Slot Music". The record industry allied themselves with SanDisk to issue complete record albums with DRM-free MP3 songs, bonus tracks, liner notes and album art on microSD cards. The microSD card is the heart of the Slot Music player.


What makes the player attractive for me is its small size, affordable price, the use of a standard, replaceable AAA battery and the potential flexibility to haul around a rather large music library spread out over a few large capacity microSD cards that can fit in the palm of your hand.

The Slot Music Player itself is a bare-bones no-nonsense device that have 3 track control buttons (fast forward, play, pause, rewind), volume control and a headphone jack. The tiny earbuds that come with the player are adequate, but I prefer full size, standard headphones for better sound or connecting the player to an external audio device such as a car or home stereo. Still as a portable take anywhere device, the Slot Music Player is just as capable as the Apple iPod Shuffle or Nano.

The one thing that the Slot Music Player doesn't have is a clip or a lanyard that you can use to secure the player to your body or clothes. So it is best used as a pocket or purse device. There may be some accessories available that enhance the portability of this player.

The Slot Music Player runs on one standard AAA alkali or rechargeable battery. The battery life for a standard alkali battery is fairly long. You will know when the battery starts losing its charge. The player will beep and shut off while content is playing. Time to change the battery. Luckily since this uses a common battery, plenty are available almost anywhere on Earth.

File formats that are supported by the Slot Music player are DRM-free MP3 and WMA. The player does not support Apple's proprietary AAC format.


The tiny microSD card is the size of a fingernail and can hold more than one complete record album as well as the aforementioned art and liner notes. Retailers are selling albums such as Sugarland's "Love on the Inside" and Abba's "Gold" in the Slot Music format for about $16.99 each.

Whether or not we need a new music delivery format remains to be seen. I don't think the Slot Music format is selling very well at least by looking at what is available at my WalMart store 5 months after launch.

User can purchase blank microSD cards and fill them up with more music than any pre-paid album could. The price for blank cards range from


To use the player you press the play button once and wait for the tiny blue LED light to come on. Press play again and your music begins to play. Press the pause button and the music stops. You can press the fast forward to skip a track or press rewind to go back a track.

There is a slot on the side of the player to insert and eject the microSD card. You press on the microSD card itself to eject it from the spring loaded slot.

All tracks play in the order loaded on to the microSD card. Store bought microSD albums will play in the order listed just like their CD counterparts. Music that you load to blank microSD cards will play in the order you loaded them. There are no shuffle modes or playlist display.

You can drag and drop entire albums or individual tracks to blank microSD cards (on your computer) and have more variety and albums than the store bought albums... and for a lot less. This is good if you have a large digital music collection that you want to take with you.

The beauty of the system is that you can make your music library as large as you want to by purchasing additional blank cards and loading all your music to each one.

The audio sound is adequate, though it seems the player does not max out its sound as loud as the iPod. With a good set of headphones and pushing the volume near the maximum level, you will get good sound playback. You can also connect the player to an external sound source such as a home or car stereo with the proper wiring.

To install and remove the battery you slide the external cover off. This reveals the inner workings of the player and the battery compartment. Just snap the standard AAA battery into place and slide the cover back on. The player is ready to go.

While the Slot Music Player is heavier than the iPod Shuffle, it still is a good portable player to slip into your pocket and take with you.

  • Small
  • Replaceable battery (standard AAA)
  • Affordable - slightly less than $20
  • Comes with 1 battery, earbuds, documentation
  • Decent sound
  • No DRM in pre-recorded, purchased albums available on micro-SD cards
  • Music is transferable to computer, other music devices, cell phone
  • Plays MP3 and WMA files
  • MP3 files can be played on iPod and iTunes
  • Availability of blank microSD card allows you to create your own, longer music mixes
  • Drag and drop interface for computer and microSD card
  • Does not require computer if you only go with pre-recorded microSD card albums
  • microSD card can be used with other devices, audio player, cell phone, camera
  • Small - can be lost or stolen
  • Heavier than iPod Shuffle
  • No display screen
  • Plays content in the order loaded to media card only
  • No shuffle mode
  • Tiny microSD card may require adapter to use with your computer
  • microSD card albums are expensive usually $16.99 for 1 single album
  • very limited selection of available, pre-recorded microSD albums
  • new music format - long term success as music format uncertain
  • blank microSD cards slightly pricier than standard SD card
  • microSD card very tiny, can easily be lost
  • No support for Apple's iTunes, though non-DRM MP3 tracks can be dragged to card
  • Does not play Apple AAC music files