October 31, 2009

Playlist 10-31-09

* Handel: Trio Sonatas, Op.2 & Op.5 (AAM/Egarr) (Harmonia Mundi 2CD)
* Handel: Concerti Grossi, Op.3 (AMM/Egarr) (Harmonia Mundi SACD)
* Handel: Organ Concertos, Op.4 (AAM/Egarr) (Harmonia Mundi SACD)
* Venice Baroque Orchestra: Victoria Hall, Genève 2-28-08 (FM 2CDR)
* Wayne Shorter: Night Dreamer (Blue Note CD)
* Andrew Hill: Mosaic Select 23 (d.1-2) (Mosaic 3CD)
* Sun Ra & His Arkestra: Newport Jazz Festival 7-3-69 (AUD CDR)
* Sun Ra: Nuits de la Fondation Maeght, Vol.1 (Universe CD)
* Sun Ra: Nuits de la Fondation Maeght, Vol.2 (Universe CD)
* Charlie Haden Quartet West: The Art of the Song (Verve CD)
* John Abercrombie Quartet: Class Trip (ECM CD)
* Matthew Shipp: “Marian McPartland’s Piano Jazz” 3-7-06 (FM CDR)
* Thurston Moore/Evan Parker/Walter Prati: The Promise (Materiali Sonori CD)
* Thurston Moore/Walter Prati/Giancarlo Schiaffini: Three Incredible Ideas (Auditorium CD)
* Simon & Garfunkel: Old Friends (d.3) (Columbia 3CD)
* Grateful Dead: Road Trips: Vol. 2, No.2: Carousel 2-14-68 (GD/Rhino 2+1CD)
* Jerry Garcia & Merle Saunders: The Keystone, Berkeley 9-1-74 (Pure Jerry 3CD)
* Jerry Garcia Band: The Keystone, Palo Alto 2-5-82 IIx (SBD CDR)
* New Order: Power, Corruption, and Lies (Deluxe Ed.) (d.2) (London/Rhino 2CD)
* Aphex Twin: Windowlicker (Warp/Sire CDEP)
* Aphex Twin: Come to Daddy (Warp/Sire CDEP)
* Butthole Surfers: Rembrandt Pussyhorse/Cream Corn from the Socket… (Touch & Go CD)
* Guided By Voices: Suitcase 3: Up We Go Now (GBV, Inc. 4CD)
* Guided By Voices: Briefcase 3: Cuddling Bozo’s Octopus (GBV, Inc. LP)
* Circus Devils: Gringo (Happy Jack Rock Records LP)
* Sigur Rós: Ágætis Byrjun (PIAS America CD)
* Wilco: The Pageant, St. Louis, MO 5-16-08 (SBD/AUD matrix 2CDR)
* Yo La Tengo: Popular Songs (Matador CD)
* Jim O’Rourke: The Visitor (Drag City LP)
* Flaming Lips: KCRW “Morning Becomes Eclectic” 10-16-09 (FM CDR)
* Flaming Lips: Embryonic (Warner Bros. DVD-A)


We don’t get any trick-or-treaters anymore since our neighbors’ kids grew up and while there is generally very little vehicular traffic, we live on a hilly, winding road that is not at all pedestrian-friendly; definitely not a good neighborhood for kids to be wandering around in the dark. But every year we do get a little bit of candy just in case someone shows up and just wind up eating it ourselves. That’s OK. We’re also looking forward to making a pie out of the pumpkin (photograph). Happy Halloween!


Believe it or not, Robert Pollard has packed up yet another Suitcase full of one hundred songs across four CDs (along with a limited edition Briefcase 3 LP collecting some of the strongest tracks). Thankfully, GBV, Inc. has radically reduced the footprint and price of Suitcase 3 making for a real bargain for the hardcore fan. I’ll be the first to admit that Pollard’s output is completely overwhelming – but damn if there aren’t some totally great songs on Suitcase 3! At this point, there can be no question, the guy is super-human. Nevertheless, I am a little disappointed that while two of the Happy Jack Rock Records Singles Series B-sides (“Sixland” and “Piss Along You Bird”) are found here, the rest are omitted. These include some of Pollard’s best songs of the last few years, such as “Met Her at a Séance” and “Coast to Coast Carpet of Love” (which was inexplicably omitted from the Merge album of the same name). It really would have been nice to have these songs on CD, but oh well. Of course, the seven-inch 45s are still available for the vinyl-enabled and I have my needle-drop CDRs of same, so that will have to do. Check out free MP3s of “Janet Wait” and “100 Colors” here.


Amongst the many free-improv discs that Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore has released over the years, his turn-of-the-century collaborations with Evan Parker and members of his Electro-Acoustic Ensemble remain some of the most completely satisfying. Perhaps that is attributable to the impeccable pedigree of his band-mates, but Thurston holds his own, playing with a confident sensitivity that goes way beyond the kind jazz/rock/noise collision you might expect. It had been a long time since I pulled these records out and I was pleasantly surprised how much I enjoyed them. Good stuff!


I love, love, love the new Yo La Tengo album. Better grab the LP before it disappears.


Blogger tells me this is my 300th post! How about that...

October 26, 2009

Common Birds at the Feeder: Northern Mockingbird

The Northern Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos) is the Tennessee State Bird, which is appropriate since it is abundant year round and is the most musical of birds. In the spring, the Mockingbird will sing for hours, imitating dozens of other birds in endless variations and has been known to imitate cellphones, car alarms and other human noises in its songs. She may not be much to look at, but this bird can sing!

October 25, 2009

Sun Ra Sunday

I’m still conducting research for the next installment of Sun Ra Sunday, so I’ll have to be brief.

The news is that Atavistic’s reissue of the classic Saturn album, Continuation, is scheduled to be released on Tuesday, November 6th. Mark your calendars!

In the meantime, here is a cool two-part documentary courtesy of ESP-Disk’:

October 24, 2009

Playlist 10-24-09

* J.S. Bach: Suites for Cello (Jaap ter Linden) (Harmonia Mundi 2CD)
* Handel: Organ Concertos, Op.7 (AAM/Manze) (Harmonia Mundi 2SACD)
* Handel: Water Music (Le Concert des Nations/Savall) (Alia Vox SACD)
* Hesperion XXI (Savall): MPR St. Paul Sunday 3-10-02 (FM CDR)
* Jordi Savall/Rolf Lislevand: Cadogan Hall, London 8-18-08 (FM CDR)
* Christin Plubeau/Arnaud Pumir: Église Saint Nicolas, La Hulpe 3-20-09 (FM CDR)
* Django Reinhardt: The Classic Early Recordings, Vol.2 (JSP CD)
* Sun Ra: Nuits de la Fondation Maeght, Vol.2 (Universe CD)
* Ornette Coleman: Beauty is a Rare Thing (d.3) (Rhino 6CD)
* Anthony Braxton: Quartet (GTM) 2006 (Important 4CD)
* Marilyn Crispell: Vignettes (ECM CD)
* Matthew Shipp: One (Thirsty Ear CD)
* Matthew Shipp: Piano Vortex (Thirsty Ear CD)
* Barre Phillips: Three Day Moon (ECM LP)
* John Lee Hooker: Chill Out (Pointblank/Virgin CD)
* Aretha Franklin: Lady Soul/Aretha Now (MFSL CD)
* Van Morrison: Avalon Sunset (Mercury CD)
* George Harrison: Brainwashed (Capitol CD)
* Big Star: Keep Your Eye on the Sky (Rhino 4CD)
* Chris Bell: I Am the Cosmos (Deluxe Edition) (Rhino Handmade 2CD)
* Grateful Dead: Road Trips: Vol.2, No.4: Cal Expo ’93 (GD/Rhino 2+bonus CD)
* Cocteau Twins: Iceblink Luck (Capitol CDEP)
* Sonic Youth: Goo (MFSL LP)
* Beck: Sea Change (MFSL CD)
* Robert Pollard: Elephant Jokes (GBV, Inc. LP)
* Yo La Tengo: Popular Songs (Matador CD)
* Wilco: The Palladium Ballroom, Dallas, TX 10-9-09 (SBD 2CDR)


Sure, the Beatles remasters are big news. But what I’m really excited about these days is the new Big Star box set (Rhino). Holy smokes, this music has never sounded better! In fact, I am truly shocked how much better this material sounds than on the 2004 Stax/Fantasy SACD, which I used to think was the ultimate representation of their first two albums. This box set, along with the recent Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs edition of Beck’s Sea Change, conclusively demonstrates that a 16-bit CD can sound very, very good — if done right. Sadly, it rarely is. (MP3? Fahgettabouttit!) If you love Big Star (and if you even know who they were, I’m sure you do), this box set is a mandatory purchase worth every dear penny. Unfortunately for me, its odd, eight-inch-square shape presents dire shelving problems, but that is nothing new (see photograph).

Equally revelatory is the deluxe edition of Chris Bell’s I Am the Cosmos (on the mail-order only Rhino Handmade), with vastly improved sound quality over the 1992 Ryko CD (or the 4 Men With Beards LP) plus a second disc of alternate mixes and other exquisite rarities. To further drain one’s wallet, Classic Records has reissued Big Star’s first two albums on super-deluxe two-hundred gram LPs while Concord has them available on standard, lightweight vinyl for a third of the price. I have not heard either of these (yet). And, finally, Bruce Eaton’s fine (if poorly copy-edited) exegesis of Radio City for Continuum’s 33.3 series is another indicator that 2009 is the year that Big Star finally gets its due, almost forty years after its brief, tragically ill-fated career. Not just highly recommended, fervently proselytized!

October 19, 2009

Uncommon Birds at the Feeder: Yellow-rumped (“Myrtle”) Warbler

Myrtle Warblers are another harbinger of the changing seasons as they seem to show up as soon as the leaves change color. My Audubon Guide tells me this is one of the only warblers that will regularly spend the winter in the northern United States. We look forward seeing them around — and if I can catch one perching in sunlight, I’ll take another photograph!

October 18, 2009

Sun Ra Sunday

Sun Ra & His Arkestra: The Electric Circus, New York, NY, April 1968 (AUD 2CDR)

I do not intend to write very much about the myriad audience or soundboard tapes, FM broadcasts, videos or other bootleg-type material which circulates amongst Ra collectors because, for one thing, I do not have it all and, for another, I do not really want it all! Let’s face it, I'm already feeling overwhelmed by Ra’s official discography! And so while such recordings (and I do have quite a few) are sometimes of extremely high quality, they are simply outside the scope of what I’m trying to do with Sun Ra Sunday. Be that as it may, this ninety-minute concert fragment is worth a mention here.

The Electric Circus was a hippie hang-out located on St. Mark’s Place in New York City and the Arkestra’s appearance at this venue (and the fact that some unknown fan decided to make this audience recording) demonstrates how Ra’s music and its audience were changing during this period. Recorded in mono, likely with a single microphone to a reel-to-reel machine, the sound quality is not too bad, all things considered, and it provides a singular glimpse into an Arkestra in transition circa. April 1968.

The tape fades in with “Lights on a Satellite,” already in progress. Horns and flute choir play the sing-song-ing melody a few times over the sensuous rhumba rhythms before giving way to a frenetically twanging and clanging clavinet solo by Ra — his attack is so ferocious, the instrument's delicate tines quickly drift out of tune. Nevertheless, Ra charges into the bouncing ostinato of “Friendly Galaxy.” The largish Arkestra sounds a bit tentative on the twisting, asymmetrical ensemble section, but once a solid groove is established, a lengthy sequence of solos and percussion jams is absolutely mesmerizing withAlan Silva’s cello giving this section an eerie, almost “Strange Strings” feeling. After bringing things to a full boil, Ra reintroduces the up-and-down bassline while the Arkestra gracefully elides the slip-sliding melodies ending with an exquisite, extended ritardando. After some polite applause, Ra introduces “The Satellites Are Spinning” and the Arkestra takes up the chant over a slinky groove. Sadly, it fades out after only a couple of minutes.

An untitled improvisation follows, fading up mid-oboe solo, sailing over throbbing African percussion, Silva’s cello singing along with Ronnie Boykins’s bowed bass. The piece moves through various moods and instrumental groupings (notably more oboes and French horn, of all things), climaxing with an aggressively apocalyptic organ solo by Ra. As the sonic fallout subsides, a child’s wailing and screaming perfectly blends with the moaning and sighing horns. Unfortunately, the tape cuts off just as things start to heat up again. With a hearty chant of “Calling Planet Earth!,” the Arkestra rips into some full-bore group-improv energy-music which, unfortunately, gives way to an overlong drum solo from Clifford Jarvis. Oh well. Next up, an early version of “Somebody Else’s Idea” is chanted rather than sung by an unidentified female vocalist —definitely not June Tyson. This is very interesting as it suggests that Ra was looking to add a female vocalist to the Arkestra prior to Tyson’s appearance on the scene later that summer/fall. After choogling along for several minutes, Ra signals the ending with some emphatic, churchy organ chords that lead into the gentle “space ballad,” “Spontaneous Simplicity,” a vehicle for Marshall Allen’s mellifluous flute. But as the percussion gets heavier and Ra’s organ gets more dissonant and distorted, the music verges on the kind of dark funk Miles Davis would get to later on the nineteen-seventies. And from there it disintegrates into a caustic noise fest that brings to mind primal Sonic Youth before returning to the burbling exotica of the theme. Incredible! Then Ra’s quivering organ tones introduce the whacked-out big-band number, “Space Aura” wherein John Gilmore is finally given an opportunity to shine on tenor saxophone, engaging in a fiery duo with Jarvis a la Interstellar Space before launching into an astonishingly virtuosic a cappella solo which elicits some enthusiastic cheering from the audience. Ra then re-enters with the theme just as the tape begins to fade out.

Despite the sometimes rough sound quality and some unfortunate edits, this “bootleg” tape is definitely worth seeking out for the opportunity to hear an expanded Arkestra performing at one of New York’s grooviest nightclubs at the height of the psychedelic sixties. Here is the blueprint for the wildly expansive “Cosmo Drama” that would expand and evolve throughout the nineteen-seventies. Fascinating stuff!

Autumn Colors

Autumn Trees 01, originally uploaded by rgcoleman9.

Beautiful day today. I took advantage of the sunlight and took some photos of the fall foliage.

October 17, 2009

Playlist 10-17-09

* J.S. Bach: Sonaten für Violine & Cembalo (Kuijken/Leonhardt) (Harmonia Mundi 2CD)
* LeClair: Violin Sonatas (Holloway/ter Linden/Mortensen) (ECM CD)
* Arte dei Suonatori: Persona Grata Festival, Warszawa 6-26-09 (FM 2CDR)
* AMM: AMMusic (ReRec/Matchless CD)
* Ornette Coleman: Beauty is a Rare Thing (d.1-2) (Rhino 6CD)
* Evan Parker/Matthew Shipp: Abbey Road Duos (Treader CD)
* J Spaceman & Matthew Shipp: SpaceShipp (Treader CD)
* Ginger Baker Trio: Going Back Home (Atlantic CD)
* David Torn: Clouds Above Mercury (ECM CD)
* Aretha Franklin: I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You (MFSL CD)
* Simon & Garfunkel: Old Friends (d.1-2) (Columbia 3CD)
* Chris Bell: I Am the Cosmos (Deluxe Edition) (Rhino Handmade 2CD)
* Grateful Dead: Winterland June 1977: The Complete Recordings (d.7-9) (Rhino/GD 9CD)
* Grateful Dead: Civic Center, Augusta, ME 10-12-84 (SBD 2CDR)
* Can: Ege Bamyasi (Spoon SACD)
* New Order: Power, Corruption & Lies (Deluxe Edition) (d.1) (Rhino 2CD)
* Boston Spaceships: Zero to 99 (GBV, Inc. LP)
* Sonic Youth: The Eternal (Matador 2LP)
* Thurston Moore: Trees Outside the Academy (Ecstatic Peace CD)
* Jim O’Rourke: The Visitor (Drag City LP)
* Yo La Tengo: Popular Songs (Matador CD)
* Beck & Flaming Lips: Austin City Limits 11-11-02 (CATV CDR)
* Flaming Lips: In a Priest Driven Ambulance (Restless CD)
* Flaming Lips: Embryonic (Warner Bros. 2CD+DVD-A)


The new Flaming Lips record (photograph) sounds every bit as weird as it looks. After their last few albums of gorgeous, orchestral pop music, I was not expecting this sprawling, experimental “double-album” full of crude electronic noises, skronky guitar, and bad-acid-trip paranoia. At first I was confused, but after three listens now it’s starting to grow on me. I’m still not sure if it’s a brilliant triumph or a self-indulgent mess – or both. Either way, it’s definitely not for the feint of heart.

October 13, 2009

Chicago Photographs Are Now on Flickr!

Navy Pier 01, originally uploaded by rgcoleman9.

I decided to open a Flickr account. Check out the photographs from Chicago over there.

October 12, 2009

Playlist 10-10-09

* Vivaldi: “Manchester” Sonatas (Romanesca/Manze) (Harmonia Mundi 2CD)
* Stravinsky: Music for Piano (1911-42) (Aleck Karis) (Bridge CD)
* Ars Antigua (w/Rachel Barton Pine): WFMT, Chicago 4-30-07 (FM CDR)
* Venice Baroque Orchestra (Marcon/Carmignola): Mandel Hall, Chicago 10-17-02 (FM 2CDR)
* Chicago Symphony Orchestra (Boulez): Severance Hall, Chicago 4-30-05 (FM CDR)
* Sun Ra: Supersonic Jazz (Saturn/Evidence CD)
* Sun Ra: Sun Song (Delmark CD)
* Sun Ra: Sound of Joy (Delmark CD)
* Sun Ra: Sound Sun Pleasure (Evidence CD)
* Sun Ra & His Arkestra: The Electric Circus, New York City 1968 (AUD 2CDR)
* Art Ensemble of Chicago: Reese and the Smooth Ones (Fuel 2000 CD)
* Art Ensemble of Chicago: Bap-Tizum (4 Men With Beards LP)
* Art Ensemble of Chicago: Fanfare for the Warriors (4 Men With Beards LP)
* Anthony Braxton: Performance (Quartet) 1979 (hatOLOGY CD)
* Matana Roberts: The Chicago Project (Central Control CD)
* Junior Wells’ Chicago Blues Band: Hoodoo Man Blues (Delmark/Analogue Productions LP)
* Buddy Guy: I Was Walking Through the Woods (MCA “Heavy Vinyl” LP)
* Wilco: The Riviera, Chicago 2-19-08 (FM 3CDR)
* Stereolab: Sound-Dust (Elektra CD)
* Stereolab: “Captain Easychord” (Elektra CDEP)
* Tortoise: TNT (Thrill Jockey 2LP)
* Tortoise: Beacons of Ancestorship (Thrill Jockey LP)
* Jim O’Rourke: The Visitor (Drag City LP)
* Yo La Tengo: Popular Songs (Matador CD)


Do you detect a theme in this week’s (belatedly-posted) playlist?

Liz and I took a quick trip up to Chicago this weekend to see Cy Twombly: The Natural World (Selected Works 2000-2007) at The Art Institute. We didn’t get to hear much music while we were there, but I did make it over to the legendary Jazz Record Mart, a record collector’s dream come true. Since we had never been to Chicago before, we were gung-ho tourists: we went to the Shedd Aquarium, took a water taxi to Navy Pier, went on an architecture river cruise, toured the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Smith Museum of Stained Glass — we even went up to the John Hancock Tower Observatory (photograph). We also had some amazing meals and stayed at the fabulous Sofitel Water Tower. It was so much fun! Chicago is a beautiful city – but, damn, it was COLD!

I’ll be blogging about the trip in coming days.

October 4, 2009

Sun Ra Sunday

Sun Ra: Janus (1201 Music CD)

Janus was apparently conceived by Sun Ra as a self-contained album around 1970, but it was never issued. In 1971, the tapes were sold (along with a bunch of other recordings) to Alan Bates, but Black Lion also failed to release any of this material. Eventually, some of these tracks were scattered across various obscure Saturn LPs of the seventies and eighties, such as Invisible Shield and Space Probe and only on exceptionally hard to find, hybridized pressings at that. Thankfully, 1201 Music rescued this long neglected album, releasing it essentially as Ra originally conceived it on this 1999 CD, complete with insightful liner notes from Prof. Robert L. Campbell himself. The music was mostly recorded around 1967 to 1970, although there is a tantalizing expanse of music from the magical Choreographer’s Workshop period tacked onto the title track – a precocious bit of editing that demonstrates Ra’s skills with a razor blade and splicing tape. Despite their variable sound quality and sometimes haphazard packaging, Sun Ra constructed his albums with great care and considered the LP as something more than mere documentation of his work, but as works of art in and of themselves. Janus is an excellent example of his craftsmanship.

In his liner notes, Campbell aptly describes “Island in the Sun” as “one of those relaxed, flowing compositions with mildly exotic rhythms that are much beloved by Ra fans.” Indeed, it is beautiful example of what I call Ra’s “space ballads.” Marshall Allen’s flute harmonizes so nicely with Danny Davis’s alto clarinet on the lilting, sing-song-ing melody while Ronnie Boykins lays down a loping bass line atop the cheerfully pitter-pattering hand drums. Sonny enters with a sparse solo consisting of floating piano chords before Allen returns to lead into the final, peaceful refrain. What a lovely way to begin the album.

Despite the label text, the CD combines “The Invisible Shield” and “Janus” into one thirteen-minute-long track, which makes sense in a way, since these two tracks are constructed from three different performances and the one segues directly into the other. (Still, I’d rather have each title separately indexed and the label is misleading.) Recorded live in 1970, “The Invisible Shield” opens with an outrageous alto saxophone solo by Marshall Allen, accompanied by Danny Ray Thompson on the ghostly Neptunian Libflecto (a bassoon with French Horn mouthpiece) but Ra soon takes over with a two-fisted organ/synthesizer solo that sounds like a mad scientist conjuring up doomsday. Right at the apocalyptic climax, a tape edit slams us into “Janus,” the first thirty-five seconds of which are from a Sun Studio recording circa. 1967 or ‘68 with Ra on clavinet or gongs (or both), heavily amplified and distorted, creating ominous thunderclouds and sonic lightning. Then another quick edit splices in a very spacey improvisation recorded at the Choreographer’s Workshop circa. 1963, full of Tommy Hunter’s over-the-top reverb and echo effects along with Allen’s piccolo and Art Jenkins’s eerie “space voice.” A final edit ends the piece with quietly chiming bell sounds. Ra’s sequencing of this wildly disparate material into a satisfying whole is a perfect example of his visionary, DIY approach to record-making.

The album closes with two live recordings from early 1968. “Velvet” is a swinging, big-band bop number that dates back to 1959’s Jazz in Silhouette (Saturn 5786/Evidence ECD 22014). The ensemble sections are a little shaky, but Pat Patrick turns in an exemplary performance with his rumbling baritone sax solo, Robert Northern provides a couple of choruses on the rarely heard French horn, and Ra delivers a typically terse statement on piano before the reprise. “Joy” is a conducted improvisation that begins with dissonant, braying horns over Ra’s cascading piano clusters and pounding drums and percussion. The ensemble eventually drops out leaving Danny Davis to extemporize a cappella on the alto sax before the rhythm sections returns to provide frenzied support. After a while, the full ensemble resumes its scattering of contrary lines, honks, and squeals and Ra plays rippling, romantic chords on piano along with pure-toned whines on the Clavioline. The music gets slowly quieter while Jarvis takes over with a typically manic drum solo that abruptly cuts off after a minute or so. Did the tape run out? Or is this another deliberate edit? Either way, I’m grateful; there is no doubt Jarvis went on and on for several more minutes! Certainly, it is an odd ending to an otherwise very interesting piece of music.

Janus not only contains precious documentation of a crucial period in Sun Ra’s music, but it is also a supremely well-crafted album in its own right. Covering a wide range of material in a mere thirty-five minutes, it would make an excellent introduction to Ra’s sixties era music for the novice; for the connoisseur, it is absolutely essential.

October 3, 2009

Playlist 10-3-09

* Le Sieur de Machy: Pièces de Viole (Savall) (Telefunken LP)
* Veracini: Sonatas (Holloway/ter Linden/Mortensen) (ECM CD)
* Handel: 12 Solo Sonatas, Op.1 (AAM/Egarr) (Harmonia Mundi 2CD)
* Leonhardt-Consort: Consortmusik auf Originalinstrumenten (Telefunken LP)
* Gustav Leonhardt: Festkonzert des Barock (Telefunken LP)
* Venice Baroque Orchestra (Carmignola/Marcon): Victoria Hall, Genéve 2-28-08 (FM 2CDR)
* Berio: Voci (Kashashian/Radio Symphonieorchester Wien/Davies (ECM CD)
* Andrew Hill Quinet: Auditorium Canneti, Vicenza, Italy 5-15-06 (FM CDR)
* Andrew Hill Sextet: Berlin 10-31-02 + Lausanne 11-1-02 (FM CDR)
* Cecil Taylor Unit: Philharmonie, Berlin 11-6-69 (FM CDR)
* Taylor Ho Bynum Sextet: Asphalt Flowers Forking Paths (hatOLOGY CD)
* Mary Halvorson/Reuben Radding/Nate Wooley: Crackleknob (hatOLOGY CD)
* Henry Threadgill’s Very Very Circus: Too Much Sugar for a Dime (Axiom CD)
* Grateful Dead: Winterland June 1977: The Complete Recordings (d.1-6) (GD/Rhino 9(+1)CD)
* Dylan & The Dead: Sullivan Stadium, Foxboro, MA 7/4/87 (SBD 3CDR)
* Dylan & The Dead: JFK Stadium, Philadelphia, PA 7/10/87 (SBD 3CDR)
* Crosby – Nash: Another Stoney Evening (DTS DVD-A)
* Neil Young: On the Beach (Reprise/Warner Bros. DVD-A)
* Tom Waits: Blood Money (Anti LP) * Big Star: #1 Record/Radio City (Stax SACD)
* Big Star: 3rd (4 Men With Beards LP)
* Chris Bell: I Am the Cosmos (4 Men With Beards LP)
* The Replacements: Pleased to Meet Me (Sire LP)
* Cocteau Twins: Love’s Easy Tears (Capitol CDEP)
* Cocteau Twins: Iceblink Luck (Capitol CDEP)
* Yo La Tengo: Popular Songs (Matador CD)
* Robert Pollard: Elephant Jokes (GBV, Inc. LP/CD)
* Boredoms: Super Roots 3 (Vice CD)


The big event around here this week is the arrival of the Grateful Dead: Winterland June 1977 box set (pictured), which is just as lavish as last year’s Winterland 1973 box. This caps another year packed full of new releases from the Dead’s vault, including Rocking the Cradle: Egypt 1978; To Terrapin: Hartford 1977; and four volumes of the Road Trips series totaling 22 CDs, 1 DVD (plus 6 bonus CDs) of Grateful Dead Music (not to mention the two new Pure Jerry releases: Garcia & Kahn: Marin Veteran’s Memorial Auditorium 2-28-1986 (1 CD) and Jerry Garcia Band: Bay Area 1978 (2 CDs)) all released in the past twelve months. This raises the age-old question: is it possible to have too much of a good thing? The answer is, of course: “too much of everything is just enough!” As is to be expected, super-picky Deadheads are carping about this being yet another spring ‘77 release which already circulates widely within the hardcore trading community but, believe me, these CDs sound way better than any of those “bootlegs.” Sure, it’s kinda pricy, but it is consummately well done – and the limited edition “bonus disc” contains a tasty excerpt from the Auditorium Theatre in Chicago on 5-12-77, a show which does not circulate amongst the fanatical. Only available directly from Dead.net.


Speaking of Rhino, the news that Warner Brothers laid off most of the label’s staff is just another sign of the end of records and record collecting. The press release suggests that Rhino will no longer be producing physical product and instead, its skeleton crew will focus on “global digital catalog initiatives” and “name and likeness representation for legendary artists.” What this means for the Grateful Dead (or anyone else) and their relationship with Rhino and/or Warner Brothers remains to be seen. One thing is for sure: I need to pick up the new Big Star box set before it disappears forever. By the way, Warner Brothers, if you think I’m going to pay anything like CD prices for digital files (especially lossy MP3s), you are very, very wrong.


Speaking of the Grateful Dead, the Dylan & The Dead tour in 1987 was indubitably a musical trainwreck, but it was a whole lot of fun to be there (a friend and I went to the Foxboro, Philadelphia, and Giants Stadium shows). Out of nowhere, “Touch of Grey” was suddenly a hit single and the Dead themselves were at a rare peak of polish and professionalism; their sets were perhaps a bit short on improvisatory exploration but the playing and singing was reinvigorated and exciting. Despite – or because of – high expectations, Dylan is a mess: out of synch with the rest of the band and desperately shouting out his songs. Nevertheless, the experience had a profoundly rejuvenating effect: soon thereafter, The Never Ending Tour began (which continues to this day), wherein Dylan explores the nooks and crannies of his songbook with the support of a crack band – sorta like the Grateful Dead.