Donna Summer, disco superstar of the 1970s, has died

Donna Summer, known as the Queen of Disco during the 1970s, died today in Florida.

Ms. Summer's gorgeous voice and beautiful presence kept her at the top of the charts and front and center in the public eye year after year. She began as a young girl singing gospel in her Boston church. At 18, she auditioned for a role in the touring company of Hair and went to Europe. In 1973, while recording with Blood, Sweat, and Tears in Munich, she was discovered by a couple of music producers.

Back in the U.S. Ms. Sommer's hit, I Feel Love, was the first to be recorded with the "galloping bass line", an infectious thumping drumbeat that sent music-loving clubbers racing to the dance floor.

Ms. Summer, in addition to winning an Oscar and a Golden Globe in 1979 (for her standout performance of Last Dance in Thank God It's Friday (on order), she snagged five Grammys during her lifetime.

Her last big hit was was the 1980s release of She Works Hard for the Money.

Ms. Summer, who was 63, died of lung cancer which, she confided to friends, she felt she contracted from breathing in the air on 9/11.

Flavorwire looks at 20-year-old albums, reminds us we're not getting any younger

With the recent death of the Beastie Boys' Adam Yauch, many of us have come to realize that, well, we're old. Yauch was only 47 when he died, but his passing has created cause to look back on how he was a part of the soundtrack to our lives.

In that vein, Flavorwire.com, has made a list of "20 Albums We Can't Believe Are 20 Years Old."
Included is the Beastie's Check Your Head, in which they answer the age old question: "Professor, what is another word for pirate treasure?"

And speaking of booty, Sir Mx-A-Lot's "Mack Daddy" brought Baby's Got Back to the world.

R.E.M's Automatic for the People, Tori Amos's Little Earthquakes and Green Day's Kerplunk! also made the list. Check out the list here, and then go tell those kids to get off your lawn.

Hugo Award Nominees


For all the sci-fi/fantasy fiction fans, the Hugo Nominees were recently announced. If you are not a fan, but are interested to know more about the awards, here is a summary: The Hugo Awards are awarded annually to works in the science fiction or fantasy genres first published anywhere in the world during the previous calendar year.

The actual awards are given out at the annual World Science Fiction Convention or Worldcon, held this year in Chicago. This will mark the convention's 70th anniversary, and since it is in Chicago it has been dubbed Chicon 7. A few of the award categories include: Best Novel, Best Novella, Best Novelette, Best Short Story, Best Graphic Story, Best Professional Artist, Best Fanzine, & the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. The following are the nominees for best novel:

Among Others by Jo Walton (One of School Library Journal’s Best Adult Books 4 Teens titles of 2011)
A Dance With Dragons by George R. R. Martin (Book 5 in the brilliant Game of Thrones series, Book 6, Winds of Winter, no official release date yet!)
Deadline by Mira Grant (like zombie apocalyptic books, try this Newsflesh trilogy; this is the 2nd book)
Embassytown by China Miéville (genetically engineered linguists! only Mieville!)
Leviathan Wakes by James S. A. Corey (space opera at its best!)

LISTEN!! Digital Music News: Funk, Love from Sweden, World Fusion, Punk, Bach on Violin

YOU can access almost 1,000 digital music albums directly through our AADL.org catalog. Stream or download as much as you like, DRM free, on any device you choose. No waiting for a copy. No due dates. Hooray!

JAZZ / DOWNTEMPO
Jive Ass Sleepers: Chilled Out Grooves & Uptempo Funkathons
The album "Scratch", from California-based Jive Ass Sleepers, offers adventures into jazz and funk, elements of reggae, latin and even some turntable scratching. The grooves are mostly laid back but still funky enough to make you want to dance. Electric guitar is predominantly featured, weaving jazzy, melodic lines over some solid drums, bass, keyboards and horns.

ROCK
Lizzi: Groovy Downtempo Swedish Rock
There are plenty of sensual voices out there in the music world, but few that have the darkness and subtle chill that makes Lizzi's so bewitching. Her album "Love and you and I" is absolutely perfect for a rainy day, Notable tracks include "Remedy," "Only You" and "My Destination". "To be in love is a kind of isolation," says Lizzi. "It's not all happiness and joy: there's a lot of pain and emptiness too. But longing is also an incredible feeling, much under-valued today."

WORLD
Simone Angele and Amir Kalhor: Classical Styles of India and Persia
On their album "India meets Persia" Simone Angele and Amir Kalhor take the listener on an intricate musical journey. The artists explore the classical styles of India and Iran, using the traditional instruments of the respective countries: the Indian Sitar and the Persian Tar. The pieces "Kirvan", "Isfahan", "Solitidi", and "Joys of Spring", represent original Indian and Persian classical styles. "Sunny Days", a pop piece with vocals and sitar, ends the musical journey and takes the listeners back to the west on a light note. Babua Pahari is the percussive force on Tabla and accompanies Simone Angele in the Indian pieces.

PUNK / HARD ROCK
The Strap Ons: Snot-Voiced Thrashing Punk 'n' Roll
The Strap-Ons cut straight to the chase on their release "Geeking Crime", delivering an album that is edgy, messy, and sexy. High octane guitars, bad attitude, and a healthy dose of humor are all here. Keep this one on hand for those days when you feel like telling everyone where to go. (Check out "This Place Sucks" for details.) A fantastically unsubtle album that hits the bullseye, straight-on.

CLASSICAL / BAROQUE
Lara St John: Bach Violin Concertos
Lara St. John's recording of Bach's Sonatas and Partitas for Violin Solo is awe-inducing. When most classical artists record technically challenging works like this one, they typically have to repeat certain phrases over and over during the recording process. When Lara St. John recorded this album at Skywalker Ranch, she played only complete versions of each movement, so the resulting music sounds incredibly fresh and alive. Her approach is especially appropriate for Bach's Six Sonatas because they're known for their musical freedom of movement. "Breathtakingly beautiful," says Allmusic.com.

AADL Talks To Commander Cody

George Frayne, aka Commander Cody, formed Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen in 1967 while attending the University of Michigan. We had the opportunity to chat with George backstage at the Ark before the 40th anniversary of the John Sinclair Freedom Rally (Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen performed at the original Rally in 1971). George spoke about the formation of the band, his memories of some of Ann Arbor's musical hot spots, as well as his introduction to boogie-woogie piano, to pot, and to John Sinclair and the White Panther Party.

For more information on Commander Cody, visit commandercody.com and oldnews.aadl.org.

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AADL_Talks_To-Commander_Cody.mp3 22.86 MB

World Language Books on CD


Did you know that the library has books on CD (or BOCDs) in different languages at the Downtown branch in both Youth and Adult? Languages that we currently have BOCDs for are Chinese, French, German, Japanese, Russian, and Spanish.

All are shelved after the books in the respective language in either the Youth (1st floor) or Adult (3rd floor) World Language Collection. They have the same loan period as regular BOCDs. And, as with many of our other materials, you can place holds and request them for pick up at any of our branches. You can find them in our catalog here or by doing a search by call number for ' bocd world*' for the adult (or click here) and ' youth-bocd world* ' for the youth (or click here).

Levon Helm, legendary singer/drummer for The Band, has died

Levon Helm, the voice and the beat of The Band, one of the most popular rock groups of the 60s and 70s, died this afternoon after a long battle with throat cancer.

Just two days ago, his family posted this message on his website -- ""[Levon has entered the] final stages of his battle with cancer. Please send your prayers and love to him as he makes his way through this part of his journey. Thank you fans and music lovers who have made his life so filled with joy and celebration...he has loved nothing more than to play, to fill the room up with music, lay down the back beat, and make the people dance! He did it every time he took the stage."

As soon as this went up, tributes started pouring in for Helm from all over the world. None was more poignant than blogger, Charles Pierce's piece for Esquire.

One of Helm's last public appearances was in Ann Arbor at the Michigan Theater on March 19th where he rocked the venue and brought the crowd roaring to its feet.

Helm, who was 71, died in New York.

LISTEN!! Digital Music News: Left-Handed Piano, Poppy Punk, Ethereal Folksongs, Jazzy Imaginary Crime, Tranquil Compositions

YOU can access almost 1,000 digital music albums directly through our AADL.org catalog. Stream or download as much as you like, DRM free, on any device you choose. No waiting for a copy. No due dates. Hooray!

CLASSICAL / PIANO
Ivan Ilić: Dazzling Classical Piano
American pianist Ivan Ilić has recorded his 7th album for Magnatune, entitled Godowsky and Ecstasy, 22 Chopin Studies. Godowsky was a celebrity in his day. Artur Rubinstein said that "it would take him 500 years" to acquire Godowsky's technique. Rachmaninoff wrote that "Godowsky is the only musician of this age who has given a real, lasting contribution to the development of the piano". Following Godowsky's death in 1938, his compositions were largely ignored until the year 2000, when super-virtuoso pianists such as Marc-André Hamelin and Boris Berezovsky began to record and perform his works in concert. Ivan Ilić is the latest pianist to rise to the formidable challenge. His album focuses on the 22 Studies for the left hand alone, considered among the most difficult pieces ever written for the instrument. This album is a tour de force of virtuosity and musicianship.

ALT ROCK / PUNK
Midway Still: Sensitive and Loud, Punk with a Pop Center
Noise and melody working together to make a pop-punk gem. Midway Still packed this album full of songs that equal or surpass the band's earlier efforts, with plenty of Hüsker Dü-like pathos and flashes of Byrdsian vocal harmony adding a joyous innocence to proceedings. As in their earlier work, there's the gruff vocals, aggressive yet melodic guitar, Keith Moon-style power drumming and the catchiest hooks since, well, the last Midway Still album. After releasing their second album, "Life's Too Long", into the post-grunge world of 1993, Midway Still returned to the studio after a mere 17 year gap to record "Note To Self".

WORLD
Kitka: Eastern European Women's Vocal Music
Mysterious, yet joyful and celebratory as well, the close harmonies of the Eastern European women's vocal music ensemble, Kitka, provide a moving and deeply satisfying listening experience. The album, Nectar, features eighteen earthy and ethereal Balkan and Slavic folksongs including Kitka fan favorites such as "Shto Mi E Milo," "Dumai Zlato," "Tsintsharo," and "Hopp Ide Tiszt-n."

JAZZ / EXPERIMENTAL
Maurice and the Beejays: Music for Imaginary Films and Television Shows
Music of Maurice and the Beejays features jazz harmony, shifting time signatures, real and programmed instruments and found sounds. Influences range from Charles Mingus to Brian Eno and 60's and 70's British television shows such as "Randall and Hopkirk deceased".
The original idea for this album, Last of the Species, was to write songs about aspects of criminality:
Part 1 (Tracks 1-7) - Based on Shaft and set in the 23rd Century. Mr. Sex Millions controls the multi planet "prawnography" trade. Our hero doesn't make it.
Part 2 (Tracks 8 - 14) - Relaxed and jazzy with some vocal harmonies. Soundtrack for a day in the life of Alain Delon who is visiting the south coast of England to see his friend Hercule Poirot. A bright winters day in Bexhill on sea when something happens. Only the events have been changed to protect the guilty.

AMBIENT / ELECTRONIC
Sampson-Carroll: Lush and Minimal; Melodic and Drone-Like; Pastoral and Edgy
Mind-bending, relaxing, soothing, inner-peace inducing, meditative, endorphins for one's imagination -- they all apply to this collection of thoughtful and mature compositions. Your journey over the hill and far, far away from life's rough segments is only a listen away. Following gracefully in the sonic footprints left by their previous three albums, Sampson - Carroll's Ease brings the listener to a pinnacle point of ethereal loveliness.
DJ SquirrelDJ Squirrel

Happy Anniversary, Phantom Tollbooth!

This beloved children's adventure novel and modern fairy tale first published in 1961 was written by Norton Juster and illustrated by Jules Feiffer. It tells the story of Milo, a boy bored by the world around him; every activity seems a waste of time. One afternoon he receives a mysterious package that contains a miniature tollbooth and a map of "the Lands Beyond". Having nothing better to do, he decides to drive through it in his toy car. He finds himself in a land called the Kingdom of Wisdom. He meets the "watchdog" Tock, who becomes his companion, has many adventures, and goes on a quest to rescue the princesses of the kingdom, Princess Rhyme and Princess Reason, from the castle of air. Wonderful and surprising plays on words and puns are an important part of the story.

We have two different editions of the book on BOCD, one narrated by Norman Dietz, and the other performed by David Hyde Pierce.

The CBS Sunday Morning show aired a segment yesterday celebrating the fiftieth anniversary, with a profile of the author and the illustrator.

Fear of Lethem

This month, 33 1/3, the intriguing music review book series, drops what is sure to be another gem into its readers' eager hands. One of my favorite writers, Jonathan Lethem, author of Motherless Brooklyn, Fortress of Solitude, and Chronic City (among others), tackles the seminal 1979 post-punk album, Fear of Music, by Talking Heads. Jump on the AADL hold list for this forthcoming book by clicking here.

Fans of Lethem's work will remember his stake in the late-70s Brooklyn scene in Fortress of Solitude, as well as in his collection of essays, The Disappointment Artist. Fans of Talking Heads will find Lethem's nervy characterizations of place and time a fine pairing with David Byrne's lyrics.

For those unfamiliar with the 33 1/3 book series, each book focuses on one album from one musical artist. The books are each written by a different author, ranging from critic to uber-fan to musician, and now, even to bestselling authors. I always look forward to tossing a great record on repeat and diving into the back-stories behind the songs and the personal connections to the author's life.

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