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Introduction to This Here Site

This guy has a nickname. He must be an asshole.

 

So here you go. My name's Ryan Atkinson I'm really just another guy who wants to write a review of every album I've ever listened to, simply to try to impress you and get you to like the same groups and albums I do. More than anything else in my life I love music. Maybe my wife and little girls are a close second, but I've loved music since I was about 7 years old, my wife only since 1996, and my daughters are still so young I have trouble remembering what their names are. Perhaps if they wore little nametags or something... Whatever.. I can easily say music has saved my life and kept me out of jail and/or the asylum (take your pick). It's been a long road from wide-eyed childhood to rapidly advancing crusty middle age-hood, but the constant seems to have remained rock and roll music.  Other people define their lives by books or travels or calling some fat chick in a leather cat suit 'Master'. I define mine by music and the effect it's had on me.

So, why a review website? Originally this was intended to be a 'buyer's guide' like the ones that used to inform me when I was in my first throes of discovering new horizons of music (The Rolling Stone Album Guide, Robert Christgau's books), but after doing this for, wha? almost five years I find that I mostly write for my own good mental health.  Of course, I still do my best to give you my honest opinion about a record and steer you, my good friends, away from the poison-spike-laden pits that crop up in every artists' catalogues, but mostly it's my outlet. I slay quite a few personal demons, grapple endlessly with others, and log a good portion of my current state here on this webpage. Just don't call it a blog, fool.

So this is a site about rock and roll music. Though jazz and country have a place in my heart (especially country), there's nothing more important to me than pop music after about 1957. I've yet to review anything remotely close to classical or pure jazz music, and don't really feel all that comfortable about doing so.  Reviews of albums in those genres are for people who spend decades studying the stuff as theory, history, and self-gratification, and I can't hope to hang with that.  Plus, how in he living fuck are you supposed to review a jazz album in such a way that someone would care to read it, anyway? 'The way Miles Davis goes 'tweedly tweedly twap-de-bop' at 15:46 through 'Bad Motherfucker' is just astounding' A fun read, folks.

Nah, I'll stick with rock and it's closely associated cousins, thanks.  Folk and country will make rare appearances, too.  As for timing, I've started out with a fairly heavy emphasis on 60's and 70's rock over later stuff, but that'll change.  I've got a fairly strong view that it's hard to listen intelligently to something recorded today without having a strong foundation in what came before.  That doesn't mean you have to start with field recordings of aborigines banging on rocks and listen to every musical style that's ever been from there on out before you can enjoy a Flaming Lips album, but I do think that you should at least have heard some Beatles, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, and Kraftwerk albums first.  That's probably my weirdest quirk, and maybe my worst - I have a tendency to be VERY dismissive of flavor-of-the-week new artists because I can ALWAYS draw parallels with what's come before. I'm also burn-ass allergic to hype.  I ran the other way from Nirvana for years following their breakthrough, simply because I hated all the reverent press blow-jobbing and industry coat-tailing that followed in their wake (though not quite as much as they hated it, apparently).  I generally like my music to have 'established' itself over the years, to gain perspective and let first-love, knee-jerk reactions die down. 

I also tend to like guitar rock more than other things.  At one time I was known as a 'hard rock' review guy, but now there are sites with a whole shitload more hard rock and metal reviews than I have, so that's probably been shot to hell, but I still prefer classic rock to most things.  Check that. I like rock and roll with some hard-edged attitude more than anything.  There is no sound in the world (except for possibly a newborn sleeping) that holds more joy to me than the overdriven tubes of a cranked electric guitar amplifier played with thorough abandon.  I could probably write an entire review site based around guitar tone itself, but even fewer people would read it than they do this one, and nobody wants that. (Except I would have fewer Reader Comments to keep up with...hmmm.)

Whatever my original intentions may have been, what's come into practice for the Bonanza in the last several years has been something else entirely.  I still tend to review one artist at a time, and make a good attempt to review everything I possibly can by them before moving onto somebody else.  I know a lot of folks don't really like that, and get bored with me spending two months reviewing somebody they have no interest in.  I hear your complaints and honestly don't feel like changing, thank you very much.  I have considered adding a short 'band rundown' section where I give a 1-2 sentence opinion on a large number of artists I've heard and haven't reviewed yet (and have no hope of reviewing anytime soon), but that all seems a bit too Christgau for this site.  I also briefly started a 'Bits and Pieces' page of single album reviews for various bands, but I've not been very interested in keeping that up, either.  Nope.  The pattern so far has consistently been to spend a month or so crunching through a band's entire discography, then I either quit halfway through or finish up and move onto the next victim.  I regret the number of discography holes on this site, and I try my best to fill them when I can, but I'm neither as organized nor as obsessive as I need to be to truly keep up.  In other words, when I say I'll review something 'soon' in an incomplete review, 'soon' probably is intended in a geologic sense.  Meaning, I'll review the Allman Brother's Brothers of the Road album sometime before the next ice age hits.

Also, I'm quite aware that as a reviewer I'm about as sloppy as the floor of a Chinatown restaurant kitchen.  I often screw up names and other such important facts, simply because I write in an tempestuous, drug-fuelled fury and tend to write mostly from memory.  Feel free to write in and correct me.  I've gotten (most...okay, some) of the bigger kinks worked out from the HTML side of this page, which used to have so many broken links, unloadable pictures, and horrendous color schemes, people used to leave to view Goatse for relief.  I'm sure there's still plenty of places I could go back and fix old shit, and once in awhile I check through a lot of my pages online and attempt to clean up the biggest screw-ups, but most of the time I still rely on the undying patience of you, the Bonanza viewer, to wade through my National Enquirer-quality fact-checking and 8th-grade Basic Computers-level coding to get to the part you love...my rushed, poorly-conceived, offensive, and repetitive reviewing style.

In reality, most of you read this site not because you are planning your music purchases around it, but because you either want to know whether I agree with your opinions or not (and most of those people write threatening and horrendously-worded Reader Comments when we don't agree), or for some reason you find me entertaining.  That's cool - like I said, I'd probably be writing reviews whether or not there was an Internet, and whether or not anyone would actually read them.  There's only like 3 of you out there anyway, so I guess I'm closer to my nightmare scenario than I ever dreamt possible. Except Rosie O'Donnell is not chasing me around the aisles Food Lion wearing nothing but Heinz Baked Beans and an SS cap screaming 'TIME TO MAKE THE DOUGHNUTS, ATKINSON!!!'

SOME FACTS ABOUT RYAN

I was born Ryan Carelton Atkinson in September, 1976 in Shawnee, KS, a suburb of Kansas City. I grew up in KC until going off to college at the University of Oklahoma. I graduated from there in 1999 with a degree in Chemical Engineering that ended up being a waste of 4 years that would have been better spent seeing rock shows instead of studying all night. I got married to my beautiful and funny wife Julia, who I met while she was on an exchange program to OU from Russia, in February 2000. We moved to Dallas, Texas after college and I worked teaching at an inner city high school, then as a well-paid cubicle monkey for some faceless internet firm, until moving to St. Petersburg, Russia in late 2000, at the behest of the United States Government. I returned to Texas in 2002 and began work as an environmental engineering consultant, mostly to Big Oil.  I travel a lot, which definitely cuts into my listening/reviewing time, and have two little girls, further cutting my leisure time to the bone.  Luckily, both of them like it when I play rock music for them (Katia, my oldest, actually commandeered one of my Genesis CD's for her own, calling it 'princess music', one of her highest and rarest complements, and Sonja, the smaller one, likes to wiggle to the Rolling Stones, thus receiving my undying adoration). I play dirty guitar in my garage in my off moments, mow the yard a lot, and like to watch sports and Comedy Central on TV. 

Oh yeah, I was also the first ever foreign language DJ on Russian radio. Ever. I'm pretty proud of that, and I had the freest radio show in the world. I could say what I wanted, play what I wanted, do what I wanted. I was interviewed, photographed, filmed...dammit, I was on Finnish television, for Chrissake! Famous for exactly 15 minutes. Then my station go bought out, everyone got fired, and now they play a bunch of lame shit. Capitalism marches on. I mostly played Russian rock, which is actually pretty cool, so I might review some of that even though I don't really understand the lyrics.

This is a lame B&W Photo of Me.

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