Sunday, March 11, 2007

Listmania: Genre Benders

I've created a "Listmania" list at Amazon of music from my favorite genre - I guess I should say meta-genre. I call my list Genre Benders. It's composed of CDs that are covers of music from one genre (most of them classic rock) done in a different genre than the original (often reggae or bluegrass). I own or have listened to most of these CDs. There are two exceptions, the CDs from the "Pickin' On..." series; I've heard only the samples of those available on Amazon. I have ordered the CDs, so within a few days I'll have heard them in their entirety.

Of course, as an afterthought I checked the iTunes Music Store and found that I could have purchased the "Pickin' On" CDs (at least one of them) there, in which case I'd have the music on my iPod already. Still, this way I'll have the CDs to pass along to friends.

"Pickin' On Zeppelin" (a. k. a. volume I of Pickin' On Led Zeppelin) gets awful reviews at iTMS, but most of the low ratings are from people who went there looking for Led Zeppelin (whose recordings are not available via iTunes). The listener reviews on Amazon are much better (typically 4 or 5 stars). It's all a matter of expectations. I am a huge Zeppelin fan, and have little patience for bluegrass; yet I love what I've heard of this CD. Fortunately the recordings are instrumental (if they were full of twangy bluegrass vocals I wouldn't touch them with a ten-foot pole) and I find that the Zeppelin tunes seem to translate very well to bluegrass instrumentation.

Anyway, if you have an adventurous nature and an open mind, give some of these CDs a try. You don't have to buy them from Amazon; you can probably get them cheaper on eBay from someone more (a) narrow-minded, (b) discriminating, (c) sane, or (d) all of the above.

Of Lice and Men

I've recently added the RSS feed from to my Google Reader subscriptions, so you'll probably see more stuff from there in Random News, but I had to blog this one because it offered such great headline potential.

It seems analysis of louse DNA offers clues about when we lost our body hair and when we invented clothes.

One of the more embarrassing mysteries of human evolution is that people are host to no fewer than three kinds of louse while most species have just one.

Even bleaker for the human reputation, the pubic louse, which gets its dates and residence-swapping opportunities when its hosts are locked in intimate embrace, does not seem to be a true native of the human body. Its closest relative is the gorilla louse. (Don't even think about it.)

Louse specialists now seem at last to have solved the question of how people came by their superabundance of fellow travelers. And in doing so they have shed light on the two major turning points in the history of fashion: when people lost their body hair, and when they first made clothing.
I should point out, as the Dawkins site does, that this story was first published in the Paper of Record.