Thursday, July 27, 2006
Tuesday, July 25, 2006
REM is back! Sorta...
R.E.M.'s pre-major label stint on I.R.S. Records will be anthologized on two CDs and a DVD due Sept. 12 via EMI Catalog Music Marketing. "And I Feel Fine" will be available as both a single-disc CD package and a double-disc set with a host of rarities, live cuts and previously unreleased selections. The DVD, "When the Light Is Mine," features a mix of music videos and live TV
As expected, the single-disc version of "And I Feel Fine" includes the finest tracks from R.E.M.'s first five years, from "So. Central Rain (I'm Sorry)" and "Radio Free Europe" to "Driver 8," "Sitting Still" and "Begin the Begin." The set appropriately closes with "It's the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)," from 1987's "Document," the band's final I.R.S. album
before inking with Warner Bros.
But it's the two-disc edition of the collection that will prove a bounty for R.E.M. collectors, as it includes the first authorized release of the studio outtakes "Theme From Two Steps Onward" and "Bad Day." The former has circulated on bootlegs for years, while the latter was originally recorded during the sessions for 1986's "Life's Rich Pageant." It was revived and re-recorded for inclusion on R.E.M.'s 2003 retrospective "In Time -- The Best of R.E.M."
Other nuggets include an early 1980s version of "All the Right Friends" (which was re-recorded for the 2001 soundtrack to "Vanilla Sky), demos of "Hyena" and the early live favorite "Mystery to Me," a "live in the studio" version of "Just a Touch" and live takes of "Ages of You," "We Walk" and "1,000,000" taped July 13, 1983 at Boston's Paradise.
"When the Light Is Mine" is highlighted by performances from the U.K. TV show "The Tube" of "Talk About the Passion," "Radio Free Europe" and "Can't Get There From Here" (featuring a blonde Michael Stipe), a 20-minute film titled "Left of Reckoning" and a 1984 performance of "Pretty Persuasion" from "The Old Grey Whistle Test." The label promises "rare interview footage and acoustic performances" but details of these features have yet to be announced.
Monday, July 24, 2006
American V: The review is up!
New album news: The Hold Steady
Glimpses of Paul Simon
I must confess that, sometimes, this column frustrates me a bit, but this one is, in my opinion, a real winner. And that has nothing to do with the fact that I wrote it. Seriously.
Sunday, July 23, 2006
Late to the party...
Monday, July 17, 2006
New Cockburn this week!
Sunday, July 16, 2006
...and now, my review of The Eraser
Here it is.
Thursday, July 13, 2006
Let's Get Out of This Country, the new set from Camera Obscura, and one of the finest albums I've heard all year.
Tuesday, July 11, 2006
You mean... there are people who DON'T like Sufjan Stevens?!?
His charm started to show some cracks on Seven Swans, a quiet respite between states albums whose bare-bone nature had little of the flair of Michigan. Without this flair, Sufjan seemed like a pedestrian Elliott Smith, only without Smith's haunted grace or natural melodicism. It was a bit of a one-dimensional album, so Stevens' return to baroque on Illinois should have been a consolidation of strengths, which for many listeners it is. Many fans and critics find it a sophisticated display of wit and delicate composition, since there is often a tendency to label any album with woodwinds and brass as being sophisticated. But even if Sufjan can play oboe, even if the time signatures in his songs shift, his music doesn't play as sophisticated, because of the school-report nature of his subjects -- each song is thoroughly researched, spit-shined, and presented for the class, as if he's reciting all that he learned during his time in the library -- and there's not much variety within the music itself. Most songs on Illinois and The Avalanche, this week's outtakes and demos collection assembled from the same sessions, all bear strikingly similar arrangements, all assembled from Stevens' by now familiar trick bag: wispy choruses, tempo changes, whistling woodwinds, cutesy harmonies. It's music that gives the impression of being sophisticated and complex, that never comes close to the sophistication of Randy Newman, Van Dyke Parks, Jimmy Webb, or what Illinois most closely resembles, Brian Wilson in his SMiLE guise.
Monday, July 10, 2006
Sunday, July 09, 2006
Best Avalanche Ever?
Friday, July 07, 2006
Andy Kellman on The Eraser
Wednesday, July 05, 2006
Solomon Burke does Nashville
As reported earlier, it's produced by Buddy Miller. It's got duets with Emmylou, Dolly, and Patty Loveless. It's called Nashville. And it comes out September 26.
Tom Waits is hitting the road!
Pitchfork has the dates:
08-01 Atlanta, GA - Tabernacle
08-02 Asheville, NC - Thomas Wolfe Auditorium
08-04 Memphis, TN - Orpheum Theatre
08-05 Nashville, TN - Ryman Auditorium
08-07 Louisville, KY - Palace Theatre
08-09 Chicago, IL - Auditorium Theatre
08-11 Detroit, MI - Opera House
08-13 Akron, OH - Akron Civic
Tuesday, July 04, 2006
Opus on The Drift
Is it pretentious? Most certainly. It's likely that The Drift will be the most pretentious album you'll hear all year. And maybe next year. And maybe even the year after that. But that doesn't mean The Drift is something that can just be dismissed, as many no doubt have. The Drift is undoubtedly difficult and sometimes, is only palatable in small doses. But Walker certainly isn't pretending to make any other kind of music. He's very conscious of what he's doing.
For all of its surreal, absurd blocks of sound, it's clear that each and every moment of the album is carefully composed. While a good deal of experimentation may have gone into the album's creation, nothing seems off the cuff or thrown in there "just to see what happens". The long spaces of silence, the sudden eruptions of sound, the strange wordplays and imagery, the vocal phrasing -- each is intended to illicit the maximum effect. But what effect?
Monday, July 03, 2006
The River in Review
Sunday, July 02, 2006
Five stars for Willie Nelson
So, even if Nelson's time with Atlantic was brief, it was certainly pivotal, and ripe for a collection like Rhino's superb 2006 triple-disc set The Complete Atlantic Sessions. Over the course of these three discs, the two albums are presented in their entirety, adorned with outtakes -- some alternate takes, some early versions, some unreleased songs -- and then on the third disc the scrapped live album Live at the Texas Opry House is presented... Nelson has had plenty of great live shows over the years, but this is one of the best captured on record, and the vitality of this show -- it still sounds exciting decades after it was recorded -- acts as a wonderful counterpoint to the carefully considered studio albums. And all three discs together add up to an essential testament to Willie Nelson's most creative period.