According to the calendar, summertime is officially here. No matter what you have on the docket in the coming months, Rock Music Menu has dug up some items that are guaranteed to make your dog days that much cooler; both literally and figuratively.
Over the next few weeks, we’ll be spotlighting necessities for the road, home and everywhere in between to think about picking up for the long hours under the sun or in the air conditioning. This week’s theme is getting in shape – or just hanging out – and looking good doing it with the best earbuds, personal item belt and socks – yes socks.
Let’s have a look at the first part of our “Summer Essentials” series for 2022.
JAYBIRD VISTA 2 BLUETOOTH EARBUDS
Desperately trying to get that body ready for the beach by hitting the gym, running, biking, sitting on the Peloton or just doing chores like cutting the lawn, having music with you is essential. Jaybird Vista 2 is the preeminent pair of Bluetooth earbuds to keep you rocking while doing whatever. Available in black, nimbus gray and midnight blue, they don’t compromise on sound in the slightest, offering crystal clear conversations when taking calls and having the thumping beats controlled with a personalized EQ profile via the Jaybird app.
Featuring a clutch 24-hour battery life for long hikes or runs and self-contained charging case, the buds improve upon the original Vista vastly, with Active Noise Cancellation for focus and SurroundSense for spatial awareness and safety. The “Earthproof” durability makes them rugged for even the most demanding pursuits and the waterproof design comes in handy when dealing with the unpredictable elements like summer thunderstorms. Go to jaybirdsport.com for more information.
The “SPI” in SPIBelt stands for “small personal item,” which are those things like car keys, cell phones, credit cards and IDs that you often need to have on you but are a pain to carry when doing physical activity like running or biking. Unlike the oft-maligned fanny pack, SPIBelts are functionally meant to hold the small personables without clutter, and as such aren’t as obtrusive or rough on the eyes as the mid-90s bodybuilder fashion statement.
SPIBelts come in a variety of configurations intended to fit the different sizes in which phones come. It doesn’t matter if you’re keeping it old school with the iPhone 7 or go big with the Samsung Galaxy S20+, you’ll be covered with a belt that fits securely around the waist. The belts are also available in a range of colors with descriptions like “Daydream with Lime Zipper” and “Rave with Purple Zipper,” ensuring a lack of dullness visually. The company also makes an Insulin Pump Belt with a patented expandable pocket design is perfect for discreetly storing insulin pumps, EpiPens and other medical-related necessities. Head to spibelt.com to see all the different colors and sizes.
Launched in 2020 and based out of Portugal, Stereo Socks has an interesting racket going. The footwear draws its inspiration for its designs from some of the most well-known album covers in the history of music, but never outright says that’s what it is unless you dig deep into the description. The motifs are familiar enough to look like, say, the cover of the first Kiss album, but it’s called “Smooch” instead. The infamously rejected artwork of Bon Jovi’s ‘Slippery When Wet’ LP, with a buxom brunette in a tight fitting, wet top, is dubbed “Jersey Car Wash.” And a rendition of Stevie Wonder’s ‘Hotter than July’ is labeled ‘Warmer than August.’
How the parent company Curator Socks doesn’t get dinged for copyright infringement probably lies somewhere between parody and the dreadful takes on many classic LPs making them barely recognizable. Some of the designs are a bit too boxy, blobby and unclear; see the Pearl Jam mimicry “Eleven,” basically an approximation of the colors that make up the ‘Ten’ record with an “X” on the ankle, or the Prince spoof “Violet Drizzle,” which is simply vertical horizontal lines in varying shades of purple.
But there’s no mistaking a riff on Beastie Boys debut ‘Licensed to Ill’ – “Incensed to Kill” here – or the White Stripes ‘Elephant,’ cheekily named “Mammoth.” It’s those nuggets that make Stereo Socks worth checking out. Step on over to stereo-socks.com to see all the designs.
VINYL OF THE WEEK
Keep an eye on this spot as each week we’ll be looking at new or soon-to-be-released vinyl from a variety of artists. It might be a re-pressing of a landmark recording, special edition or new collection from a legendary act. This week, it’s a box set from one of England’s biggest rock outfits making its debut on vinyl.
QUEEN: ‘THE PLATINUM COLLECTION’
Released for the first time on vinyl, Queen’s compilation ‘The Platinum Collection’ features all three ‘Greatest Hits’ albums from the legendary act. Taken as a whole, it shows their unrivalled track record of chart-topping, award-winning, record-breaking rock and pop classics.
Queen’s ‘Greatest Hits’ was released in 1981 and remains the best-selling album of all time in the UK, having sold over 6.8 million copies, with global sales in excess of 25 million. Spanning Queen’s triumphant first act, from 1974 to 1980, it includes some of the world’s most beloved rock standards, including the stadium-sized symphonic monster hit “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “We Are the Champions,” the latter of which was named the catchiest song of all time by a team of scientists in 2011.
‘Greatest Hits’ also features the crowd rousing “We Will Rock You,” tongue in cheek “Fat Bottom Girls,” the late 70’s disco inspired “Another One Bites the Dust,” the finger-snapping jukebox retro-rock homage “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” and the soaring, impassioned, gospel-tinged “Somebody to Love.”
The band’s next compilation, ‘Greatest Hits II,’ was originally released shortly before frontman Freddie Mercury’s death in 1991 and has sold over 19 million copies worldwide. It spans 1981 to 1991, the period which followed Queen having dropped their famous no synthesizers rule, elevating them to new heights of creativity and opening up their guitar-heavy sound to embrace funk, disco and electronics.
Rebooted and rewired, Queen produced some of their most immortal hits during this imperial 80s phase. Built around an improvised studio jam, their infectious David Bowie collaboration “Under Pressure” became a global chart-topping smash. The epic “Radio Ga Ga” and the humorously romantic “I Want to Break Free” stand as testaments to their early mastery of synthesizers, while the muscular riffs of “Hammer to Fall” and grand-piano acrobatics of “It’s a Hard Life” are vintage Queen both sonically and lyrically.
Officially the tenth best-selling album of all time in the UK, ‘Greatest Hits II’ also features the tender sentiments of “Friends Will Be Friends,” the synth-rock fanfares of “One Vision” and the heroically defiant swan song “The Show Must Go On,” featuring Mercury in his last days still playing shamelessly to the gallery.
Finally, ‘Greatest Hits III,’ which has never been made available on vinyl in the States, may be an odds and sods collection, but it’s a proper way to round out the set. It features live and alternate mixes of Queen songs, the band members’ solo hits and the collaborations with other artists including Elton John, Montserrat Caballé, George Michael and Wyclef Jean.
Living up to its name, ‘The Platinum Collection’ is certified five times platinum in the U.S. and was recently certified by the UK music industry organization the BPI as having gone eight times platinum, representing sales of 2.4 million achieved since its June 2011 re-release as part of Queen’s 40th anniversary. The new limited edition 6-LP color vinyl set comes in a slipcase with brand new artwork. Each piece of 180gram vinyl is a different color and comes in its own individually designed sleeve. The set also includes an exclusive 24-page 12” photo booklet.
‘The Platinum Collection’ can be found online and in stores from all respectable retailers who carry vinyl.
To contact music columnist Michael Christopher, send an email to email@example.com. Also, check out his blog at www.thechroniclesofmc.com.
Source: Berkshire mont