March 13, 2010

Playlist Week of 3-13-10

* Uccellini: Sonatas (Romanesca) (Harmonia Mundi CD)
* Rebel: Violin Sonatas (Manze/Egarr/ter Linden) (Harmonia Mundi CD)
* Vivaldi: Cello Sonatas (ter Linden/Mortensen) (Brilliant Classics 2CD)
* J.S. Bach: Cello Suites (ter Linden) (Harmonia Mundi 2CD)
* J.S. Bach: Violin Sonatas (Manze/Egarr/ter Linden) (disc 1) (Harmonia Mundi 2CD)
* Berio: Sinfonia/Ekphrasis (Göteborgs Symfoniker/Eötvös) (Deutsche Grammophon CD)
* Stockhausen: Kontakte (Tenney/Winant) (Ecstatic Peace! CD)
* Stockhausen: Aus den sieben Tagen (Ens. Musique Vivante/Masson) (Harmonia Mundi CD)
* AMM: Taktlos Festival, Zürich, Switzerland 3-31-90 (AUD CDR)
* Sun Ra: Helsinki 10-14-71 (d.2) (FM 2CDR)
* Sun Ra: Aarhus, Denmark 10-19-71 (AUD 2CDR)
* Sun Ra: Paris, France 11-29-71 (AUD CDR)
* Sam Rivers’ Rivbea All-Star Orchestra: Inspiration (RCA/BMG CD)
* Anthony Braxton 12+1tet: 9 Compositions (Iridium) 2006 (d.1) (Firehouse 12 9CD+DVD)
* Marilyn Crispell: Vignettes (ECM CD)
* Mary Halvorson: Barbès, Brooklyn, NY 12-02-09 (AUD CDR)
* David Torn’s Prezens: Congress MainStage, Saalfelden, Austria 8-24-07 (FM CDR)
* Ronnie Laws: Friends and Strangers (United Artists LP)
* Herbie Hancock: Newport Jazz Festival 8-15-08 (FM CDR)
* Jimi Hendrix: Band of Gypsies (Experience Hendrix/MCA CD)
* Jimi Hendrix: Jazz Stuff (fan/boot CDR)
* The Mothers of Invention: Freak Out! (Verve 2LP)
* Grateful Dead: Road Trips: Vol.2, No.4: Cal Expo ’93 (GD/Rhino 2+1CD)
* Grateful Dead: Road Trips: Vol.3, No.2: Austin 11-15-71 (GD/Rhino 2+1CD)
* Grateful Dead: Kaiser Convention Center, Oakland, CA 2-08-86 (SBD 2CDR)
* Grateful Dead: Sullivan Stadium, Foxboro, MA 7-14-90 (SBD 3CDR)
* Neil Young & Crazy Horse: Broken Arrow (Reprise 2LP)
* Yo La Tengo: West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds, England 3-04-04 (FM CDR)
* Guided By Voices: Under the Bushes, Under the Stars (Matador LP+12”EP)
* Guided By Voices: “The Official Ironmen Rally Song” (side B) (Matador 7”EP)
* Guided By Voices: Plantations of Pale Pink (Matador 7”EP)
* Guided By Voices: Sunfish Holy Breakfast (Matador 12”EP)
* Guided By Voices: Tonics and Twisted Chasers (expanded edition) (Rockathon CD)
* Boston Spaceships: Camera Found the Ray Gun (Jackpot CDEP)
* Beck: Mellow Gold (Bongload Custom LP)
* Beck: Sea Change (Geffen/MFSL 2LP)
* Sigor Rós: Ágætis Byrjun (PIAS America CD)
* Animal Collective: Merriweather Post Pavilion (Domino CD)


The first Grateful Dead: Road Trips release of the year, featuring the complete show from the Municipal Auditorium in Austin, Texas on November 15, 1971 (my eighth birthday!) is a real corker. For me, this period is when the Dead start to get really interesting. In October, Keith Godchaux had joined the band as the first really full-time keyboard player, bringing the rich, percussive tones of an acoustic piano into the ensemble sound for the first time. His timing couldn’t have been more perfect: drummer Mickey Hart had quit the band in January and, while the stripped down quartet managed to reach a peak of shoot-em-up bar-band music in the spring, by autumn, Pigpen (who was at best a functional keyboardist) was in the first throes of a slow decline -- he was too sick to make the tour and, while he enjoyed a last hurrah on Europe ’72, would be dead by March 1973 at the age of twenty-seven. Conveniently, Godchaux’s deft touch and catholic musical sensibility meshed well with the recent quasi-country-rock direction the band was moving in, while also bringing jazzy chops and edgy inventiveness to the still-spacey improvisations. Both Garcia and Weir were writing scads of great new songs which clearly benefited from Godchaux’s creative accompaniments and you can hear the band really starting to come together at this concert. While the focus is on tight renditions of relatively short songs, a rare first set “Dark Star” easily moves from dreamy psychedelia to nightmarish noise to the cornball “El Paso” and back into the depths of “Dark Star” over an intense twenty-five minutes and the second set’s “Not Fade Away>Goin’ Down the Road>Not Fade Away” segment is as elaborately jammed out as any other version I can think of. Recorded by roadie Rex Jackson, the sound quality is, unfortunately, a little murky, with Godchaux’s piano slightly buried and Billy’s drumset is weirdly balanced; but it’s still an enjoyable listen. The (annoyingly) limited-edition “bonus disc” contains a good chunk from the previous night’s show at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, featuring an absolutely incredible “Truckin’>The Other One>Me & My Uncle>The Other One” sequence that must be heard to be believed; even Phil Lesh takes a funk-fueled bass solo -- but you better hurry as these things sell out quickly. The Road Trips series can be a little hit or miss, but this one is just about exactly perfect. Only available at


You might have noticed that I have been making my way chronologically through the Guided By Voices discography over the past few weeks. I am, of course, a huge fan of Robert Pollard’s work; but if I could only own one GBV record, it would probably have to be their 1996 album, Under the Bushes, Under the Stars. That was the album where I first “got it” and it remains my very favorite for more than just sentimental reasons. Leaving behind the trusty 4-track cassette recorder which had produced the breakthrough album, Bee Thousand, and their Matador debut, Alien Lanes, the band’s new-found success allowed them to start working with outside producers, first down in Memphis with Kim Deal and later on in Chicago with Steve Albini. Apparently dissatisfied with the polished studio sheen that resulted from these sessions, Pollard & Co. added layers of noisy overdubs to the tapes, resulting in a unique sound, at once high-fidelity and low-fi, casting a magical vibe that serves the songs well. And Pollard was pouring forth great songs at an incredible pace, adding six more to the album at the last minute, long after the artwork had already been readied and necessitating an extra twelve-inch EP for the vinyl release. Two seven-inch EPs, another twelve inch EP, and Pollard’s first solo album, Not in My Airforce, would follow in the next twelve months (not to mention the ultra-quirky, fan-club-only LP, Tonics and Twisted Chasers) – much to record collectors’ delight. However, Matador was (perhaps rightly) concerned that all of this product would dilute the market for the main album and they severely restricted Pollard’s output in the following year, contributing to his (temporary) departure from the label in 1998. While I unequivocally love all of their records, Under the Bushes, Under the Stars is the one GBV album I wouldn’t want to be without.


Sam said...

So much to keep track of! I have to say I'm daunted by the sheer proliferation of GBV and Pollard-related material out there. So it's nice to see little nuggets of possible recommendations like yours for "Under the Bushes." One of these days....

Possible cheese? Ronnie Laws? I actually saw him at the Mosque around 1977, around the time of that LP. I remember it being a great show, based on what I was into at the time! How would I feel about it now?

Here's my list for last week:

Playlist 2010-03-15

*Muhal Richard Abrams: One Line, Two Views
*Marshall Allen & the Vertical Dogs: 2010-02-27 The Fridge, DC (wav)
*Bill Bruford: Feels Good To Me
*Anthony Braxton 12tet + 1: 2010-01-29 Vancouver (CDR)
*Circle: Gathering
*Circle: Live in German Concert
*Rodger Coleman & Sam Byrd: Make a Pretty Sound!!!
*Billie Holiday: The Commodore Master Takes
*Mercury Fools the Alchemist: Live Autumn 2009
*New Loft: 2010-02-24: "Which Variable?" (wav)
*New Loft: 2010-03-10: live, "Chirp! summer in winter" The Bridge, Charlottesville (wav)
*Nine Strings + Pilesar: The Sincerity of Non-Sentient Things
*Sun Ra: 1971-10-14 Helsinki (CDR)
*Sun Ra: 1971-10-19 Aarhus, Denmark (cdr)
*Sun Ra: Disco 3000: The Complete Milan Concert 1978 (Art Yard)
*Sun Ra: Detroit Jazz Center, discs 13, 14, 15 (1980-12-28, 1980-12-29) (CDR)
*Cecil Taylor: Jazz Advance
*Cecil Taylor Quartet: At Newport (via jazz Music Library)
*Cecil Taylor Quartet: Looking Ahead!
*Cecil Taylor Trio & Quintet: Love For Sale
*Cecil Taylor: One Too Many Salty Swift and Not Goodbye
*Animal Collective: Strawberry Jam
*Nora Byrd: Audition CD, 2010-03-03
*Grateful Dead: Dick's Picks 16 (Fillmore 1969) discs 2, 3
*Grateful Dead: Dick's Picks 8 (Harpur College, 1970-05-02) disc 2
*Tito Puente: The Essential Tito Puente, disc 2

Reading log 2010-03-15

*Kerr, Philip. March Violets (finished)
*Kerr, Philip. The Pale Criminal (started/finished)
*Shields, Davis. Reality Hunger: A Manifesto (started/finished)
*Kerr, Philip. German Requiem (started)
*Larson, Gary. The Complete Far Side (in progress)
*Musil, Robert. Man Without Qualities (in progress)
*A New Literary History of America (ed. Greil Marcus & Werner Sollors) (in progress)

Rodger Coleman said...

Yay, Sam! You found the cheese! Gosh, you saw him live? Amazing! I still think that is fine album for what it is. Hard to believe that the title track was something of a "hit!"

Re: Pollard. Maybe I should make you a mix CD...The discography is enormous.

Lots of Cecil on your list -- intense week?!?

Sam said...

Naw, I'm actually starting my project of listening to all my Cecil stuff in chronological order. I sort of got through the Braxton, so now I'm embarking on Cecil. Not a particularly intense week, just good solid listening fun! And yes, I know "One too many salty swift" is out of order, but I was relaxing, reading, and it just fit the bill perfectly. Looking back through my playlists, I see that it's been mostly Sun Ra, Beatles, Braxton, Cecil, and the Dead. I get on these kicks, what can I say?

Would love a mix CD of Pollard! :)

Rodger Coleman said...

I've really come to love those early Cecil records. I had never really heard any of that stuff until fairly recently. At first, I was put off by how straight ahead it is, compared to his later work. But, once I got over that hang up, I could really hear how interesting and beautiful those albums are. It's still Cecil, it's far from "smooth jazz." Do you have the Mosaic Candid box?

Sam said...

No, but the VCU Libraries does! I do have a couple of the Candid reissues. It's great stuff. I love the tension between Dennis Charles' rock-steady beats and Cecil's outrageous playing. Shepp is an added bonus, although I have to say he doesn't fit in as well on these dates as he possibly could have later on. It just shows even more how perfect Jimmy Lyons was for Cecil.