Mildly Pleased Hall of Fame: The Edge

You know, we’ve been talking about this tenth anniversary week for a long time. The problem is, we’d always end that conversation before coming up with a concrete plan for what to do. This Mildly Pleased Hall of Fame idea isn’t that fleshed out yet, but I think we’ll use it to enshrine media that specifically we all like. Meaning it’s not going to be the best stuff of all time, but the stuff that most represents our tastes. I had originally envisioned doing something like this years ago as a video essay series, but that’s a lot of work. So instead, I’ll merely write about a movie that has become the centerpiece of an annual tradition at the blog: The Edge.

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T3: John’s Top 10 Favorite Posts

Continuing our site’s 10th-anniversary extravaganza, I bring you my Top Ten favorite John Posts. It wasn’t easy going through ten years of reviews, which is why I stopped looking after I found ten I at least liked. Whether or not any of the following posts were actually good is debatable. All I know is they are posts I liked at the time and am not too embarrassed by today. Without further ado…

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T3: Colin’s Top Ten Reviews of Mildly Pleased

I think it’s now becoming apparent why we don’t write as many posts as we used to. It’s just hard to get up the will to post something when you’re no longer a college student with a bunch of free time on your hands. And it’s especially hard when you have to write something with a restrictive, but also demanding structure, as was the case with Top Ten Thursdays. Which is why of course we ended up turning it into the much more fun to do podcast. But here we’ll return back to our original format of ten items ranked in order of personal greatness.

This time, however, I’m just going to order these things in chronological order. As I said, it’s been kind of a long week, and it’s really hard to rank items that aren’t from the same medium, as I’ll be including TV, music, movies, and even aural comedy on this list. Also, some of these may have some sort of personal significance to me or more related to the posts themselves, rather than being what I think are the best of their era. But I suppose that’s what these subjective top tens have always been about. So without further ado, here are my favorite things that I ever had the pleasure of reviewing on Mildly Pleased… Continue reading

Worst Wednesday: John

I try not to look back at too much I’ve written on this site, but because it’s our tenth anniversary I agreed it would be fun to reflect on our less than spectacular moments. If anything writing this post was a learning experience. What was it that Batman’s dad said? Something about how we fall so we can learn to pick ourselves up? Yeah, that’s the stuff. Here are all the times I fell.

P.S. I’m not going to provide links to my posts like Colin did because I’m lazy and tired.

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Worst Wednesday: Colin

I don’t know how much effort I’ll put into this post, since here I’ll be looking back at the worst posts I’ve ever written, or just the moments in Mildly Pleased’s history that I’m not super proud of. But that’s the risk you run when you start writing stuff online when you’re 18 and haven’t had anyone read your prose outside of that one creative writing class you took in high school. Which, makes me all the more thankful that I came of age when there was a pretty modest amount of social media available for teens to document the most embarrassing years of their lives on.

But at the same time, I think there is a positive aspect to this era in which creative people can use the internet as a kind of training ground. It makes me think of comedy people uploading their sketches online and honing their looney craft, or today’s major indie artists, many of whom have cut their teeth as teenagers uploading their music to bandcamp. The internet is both a wonderful and terrible place, but more than anything, it’s a great place to waste time in. Here are the moments from this blog that truly felt like a waste, even if they did (hopefully) make me a little bit better at writing for whatever the hell this blog is. Continue reading

C.A.T. Revisited: Parachutes

Coldplay – Parachutes (2000)

When given a chance to comment on Parachutes in 2006, Coldplay frontman Chris Martin said “We know that’s terrible music, and we always try to think about what we can do next.” Nonetheless, two years later I still made it my first C.A.T. (and one of the few any of us would do on an album from the 21st Century). Three years after that, a spambot commented on that post “I am not sure where you’re getting your information, but great topic. I needs to spend some time learning much more or understanding more. Thanks for great info I was looking for this information for my mission.” Perhaps I can help.

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C.A.T. Revisited: Traffic

Traffic – Traffic (1968)

Often we look back to our adolescent years and cringe at the music we once deemed “cool”. As we age so do our tastes in music. What’s weird for me is all my favorite bands in high school were obscure ‘60s groups. The Small Faces, The Move, Ten Years After. Those were the house bands on my iPod. Though if I had to pick one band that most defined my tastes as a moody, long-haired eighteen-year-old it would have to be Traffic. What drove me to listen to all of Traffic’s discography non-stop from 2006-2008? Why did it mean so much to me? I have no idea, but I can try to figure it out.

First off, I discovered one of my favorite bands in high school by way of one of my favorite bands in junior high, Cream. After Cream dissolved in 1969, insane drummer Ginger Baker and Eric “God” Clapton formed the supergroup Blind Faith. This is where I discovered the lead singer of Blind Faith, a gangly, English, 21-year-old with the voice of a Motown soul singer. I am of course referring to Steve “Higher Love” Winwood.

I enjoyed the Blind Faith record but what really caught my ear was Winwood. His ability as a multi-instrumentalist, singer and songwriter separated him from your average British Invader. His talents were more jazz inspired and few could match his ability to belt out the blues. I was trying to think of who Winwood reminded me of and I think I’ve made up my mind. Steve Winwood is like the white Ray Charles… If Ray Charles wrote songs about gypsies and eagles.

So I put on my time helmet, traveled back to 1967 and fell in love with Winwood and his most notable group, Traffic. Their debut record Mr. Fantasy is a dizzying mishmash of psychedelia, blues, and middle eastern folk. It’s out there and doesn’t always work but when it does it’s fantastic. It was an important album in my life and helped prepare me for today’s album in question.

The self-titled Traffic was released in 1968 and featured a far less psychedelic yet far more accessible batch of songs. Much like the first Traffic album the track listing is evenly divided between guitarist/lead vocalist Dave Mason’s songs and drummer Jim Capaldi and other lead vocalist Steve Winwood’s songs. While Capaldi and Winwood trend more jazz, Mason is a tried-and-true pop songwriter. His most notable contribution being “Feelin’ Alright?” which would go on to be the signature song of Joe Cocker.

If Steve Winwood is underrated then Dave Mason is under-underrated. An accomplished songwriter, Mason’s greatness has always been overshadowed by his proximity to the greatness of others. Such greatness includes; playing 12 string acoustic guitar on Jimi Hendrix’s “All Along the Watchtower”, singing backup vocals on “Crosstown Traffic”, playing the Shenai on the Stone’s “Street Fighting Man” and Mellotron on “Factory Girl”. He was almost in Derek & the Dominos, played in the mid-90s version of Fleetwood Mac and even sang a duet with Michael Jackson in 1980. But how many people know his name? Not enough.

Jim Capaldi is another gem in the rough. Playing a variety of percussion instruments in addition to singing and drumming duties, Capaldi was the driving force of the band alongside Winwood. The only other member to play in every version of the ever-shuffling band, Capaldi was probably the best collaborator Winwood ever had.

Chris Wood rounds out the quartet on sax and flute and helped to distinguish the band’s unique jazz and folk sound. Much like Jon Lord made Deep Purple unique for playing the organ in a hard rock band, or Rob Lind playing sax in garage band the Sonics, Chris Wood provided this psychedelic blues outfit another dimension absent from the music of their contemporaries.

But the songs are what make it for me. “Pearly Queen” is like a long-lost Cream song, “Don’t Be Sad” is a soulful sing-a-long that wouldn’t feel out of place in Levon Helm and the Band’s catalog. “Who Knows What Tomorrow Bring” is hella cool. “Feelin’ Alright?” is iconic. The back half of the album brings the folk and the funk. I was amazed how easy it was to fall back into this record.

Why did this band, this album speak to me? I don’t know. Maybe that’s why I like it. It doesn’t seem to trend with most of my musical tastes. It’s an outlier, an enigma. Maybe it’s just good. Whatever the reason it was my first “Classic Album Tuesday” and I’m proud of it.

Favorite Tracks: “Don’t Be Sad,” “No Time to Live,” “Pearly Queen”