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Felix Mendelssohn's 200th
 
MendelssohnFebruary 3 is the 200th anniversary of Felix Mendelssohn's birth. It doesn't seem to be getting quite the fuss that other composers' birthdays get, but should it? Where does Mendelssohn fit among the great composers?

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The Mad Daddy - Lux Interior R.I.P.
 
In the spring of 1990, I saw the Cramps play an especially frantic show (even by their impressive standards) at the Latin Quarter, a now-defunct Detroit venue once accurately described as "looking like a bombed-out Vegas showroom." (The person who coined that phrase was trying to dissuade the Cramps from playing there, clearly failing to understand that that was just the sort of place where the band would feel at home.) About two-thirds of the way through the show, lead singer Lux Interior took a few moments to slither out of the snug, faux-leather plastic pants he'd been wearing since he took the stage, and then hoisted the trousers over his head, clad only in a leopard-skin bikini. Lux dumped what appeared to be a couple of quarts of sweat (and possibly other bodily fluids) out of his pants over his head, and the collective cheers and cries of "Ewwwww!" at this bit of stagecraft achieved a volume and intensity Johnny Knoxville would have envied a decade later.

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AllMusic Loves 1974
 
Country LifeIn 1974, ABBA won the Eurovision contest for Sweden with "Waterloo." During the California Jam in Ontario, CA, ELP's Keith Emerson attached himself to a piano and spun in mid air (while playing the instrument and chewing gum). Billboard began treating disco as a style of music. Also, Ramones, Talking Heads, Blondie, and Van Halen formed, but they wouldn't make their full impact until a little later on. It was 1974 and dozens upon dozens of memorable albums and singles -- from Autobahn to Eldorado, from "Rock the Boat" to "Rock Your Baby" -- hit the shelves. If it was the year of any one thing in particular, a strong case could be made for German progressive music. Kraftwerk, Harmonia, Cluster, and Tangerine Dream released distinct landmark albums, all of which still sound thrilling and weird.

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