December 25, 2010

Playlist Week of 12-25-10

* J.S. Bach: Mass In B Minor (Collegium Vocale Gent/Herreweghe) (Harmonia Mundi 2CD)
* Vivaldi: Cello Sonatas (ter Linden/Mortensen) (Brilliant Classics 2CD)
* Handel: Organ Concertos, Op.7 (Academy of Ancient Music/Egarr) (Harmonia Mundi 2SACD)
* Handel: Trio Sonatas Op.2&5 (Academy of Ancient Music/Egarr) (Harmonia Mundi 2CD)†
* Boulez: Le Marteau sans Maître/Dérive 1&2 (Ens. Intercontemporain/Summers/Boulez)(DG CD)
* The Boston Pops (Fiedler): Pops Christmas Party (RCA CD)
* John Coltrane: Ascension (Impulse! CD)
* John Coltrane/Archie Shepp: New Thing At Newport (Impulse! CD)
* John Coltrane: Sun Ship (Impulse! CD)
* John Coltrane: First Meditations (Impulse! CD)
* John Coltrane: Live In Seattle (Impulse! 2CD)
* Bill Evans: Complete Village Vanguard Recordings, 1961 (d.1&3) (Riverside 3CD) †
* Sun Ra & His Space Arkestra: What Planet Is This? (Leo 2CD)
* Henry Threadgill’s Zooid: This Brings Us To, Vol. I (Pi CD)
* Henry Threadgill’s Zooid: This Brings Us To, Vol. II (Pi CD)
* Myra Melford’s Be Bread: The Image of Your Body (Cryptogramophone CD)
* Mary Halvorson: Saturn Sings (Firehouse 12 CD)
* The Free Zen Society: The Free Zen Society (Thirsty Ear CD)
* DJ Wally: Nothing Stays the Same (Thirsty Ear CD)
* Nina Simone: Anthology (d.1) (RCA/BMG Heritage 2CD)
* Elvis Presley: If Every Day Was Like Christmas (RCA CD)
* Emmylou Harris: Light of the Stable: The Christmas Album (Warner Bros. CD)
* The Beatles: I Hope We Passed The Audition (Purple Chick/fan/boot CDR)
* The Beatles: Please Please Me (2009 stereo) (Apple/EMI CD)
* The Beatles: With The Beatles (2009 stereo) (Apple/EMI CD)
* The Beatles: A Hard Day’s Night (2009 stereo) (Apple/EMI CD)
* The Beatles: Beatles For Sale (2009 stereo) (Apple/EMI CD)
* The Beatles: Help! (1987/2009 stereo) (Apple/EMI CD)
* The Beatles: From Then To You (The Christmas Record) (Purple Chick/fan/boot CDR)
* Van Morrison: A Sense of Wonder (Mercury CD)
* Grateful Dead: Univ. of Illinois, Chapaign-Urbana 2-22-73 (d.2) (SBD 2CDR)
* Grateful Dead: Nassau Coliseum, Uniondale, Long Island, NY 3-31-93 (SBD 2CDR)‡
* Grateful Dead: Nassau Coliseum, Uniondale, Long Island, NY 4-02-93 (SBD 2CDR) ‡
* Bob Dylan: Infidels (Columbia SACD)
* Bob Dylan: Christmas In the Heart (Columbia CD)
* Bob Dylan’s Theme Time Radio Hour No.34: “Christmas & New Year’s” (FM 2CDR)
* V/A: Elton John’s Christmas Party (selections) (Hear Music CD)
* V/A: Viper vs. Gingerman (mix CDR)
* Yes: Relayer (Atlantic/Rhino CD)
* Yes: Going For The One (Atlantic/Rhino CD)
* Sonic Youth w/Tim Barnes: Koncertas Stan Brakhage Prisiminimui (SYR-6 CD)
* Sonic Youth: “J’Accuse Ted Hughes”/“Agnes B. Musique” (SYR-7 LP)
* Guided By Voices: Live in Daytron ?6° (Rockathon 3LP/FLAC)
* Radiohead: Kid A (Capitol CD)
* Radiohead: Amnesiac (Capitol CD)
* Radiohead: “Knives Out” (EMI—UK CDEP)
* Radiohead: “Pyramid Song” (EMI—Japan CDEP)



Christmastime presents both opportunities and challenges for the music fan. There is, of course, a rich tradition of both sacred and secular music devoted to the season, but the omnipresence of canned cheer this time of year can become extremely cloying by the time December 25 rolls around. Even so, there are plenty of great records which will always get me in the yuletide spirit.

So I was initially skeptical when Bob Dylan released Christmas In The Heart last year. Don’t get me wrong, I love the guy, but the idea of latter-day Bob croaking and growling his way through “O Little Town of Bethlehem” seemed particularly unappetizing—even to me. But I kept hearing good things about the album from people whose opinions I respect, so I recently added it to my modest collection of Christmas CDs. It’s actually pretty great!

The first thing you notice is Dylan’s guileless sincerity—he sings like a true believer and his road-weary vocals bring a genuine poignancy to hoary old carols like “Do You Hear What I Hear?” and “O Come All Ye Faithful” and his gravelly performances of sentimental favorites like “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” possess a magnificent pathos. Well, OK; doubters will likely not be convinced of Dylan’s vocal abilities, but admirers will be duly impressed. His long-standing touring band (augmented by chirpy backup vocalists) demonstrates their chameleonic ability to inhabit the myriad styles of music while maintaining a singular, first-take professionalism. And it sounds like everyone is having fun, especially Bob, whose takes on “Here Comes Santa Claus” and “Must Be Santa” are so joyful as to make even a jaded Dylan fan laugh out loud.

Lizzy pointed out that the whole packaging and production harks back to the kinds of cheesy seasonal LPs you might find in your parents’ (or grandparents’) record collections, the kind given away at a full-service gas stations back in the early-‘Sixties. That is no doubt part of Christmas In The Heart’s peculiar charm, a familiar, timeless ambience which perfectly captures the comforting, nostalgic spirit of the season. Plus, all proceeds go to Feeding America. Good stuff!

Check out this video for “Must Be Santa” and see/hear for yourself—it’s hilarious! I hope everyone has had a joyous day! Merry Christmas and Happy Krimble to everybody out there in the blogosphere!


MilesOfTrane said...

Super nice playlist this week.

Sam said...

Better late than never, right? :)

Playlist 2010-12-27

*Karlheinz Stockhausen: Stockhausen Composer Day "Hymnen" (CDR)
*Art Ensemble of Chicago: 1983-07-28 Molde, Norway (CDR) disc 1 & 2
*Art Ensemble of Chicago: 1987-07-14 Hamburg (CDR) disc 1 & 2
*Art Ensemble of Chicago: Ancient to the Future
*Beatles: Beatles VI (stereo)
*Beatles: Revolver (2009 mono remaster)
*Chemical Brothers: Further
*De La Soul: Three Feet High and Rising
*Fela: Shakara
*Fela: Fela's London Scene
*Flaming Lips: Embryonic
*Grateful Dead: 1973-06-24 Portland, OR (CDR) "Dark Star"
*Grateful Dead: 1973-07-28 Watkins Glen (CDR) "Playing in the Band"
*Grateful Dead: 1973-05-21 Seattle (CDR) "Playing in the Band"
*Lady Gaga: some CD of hers
*Vince Guaraldi Trio: A Charlie Brown Christmas
*Buddy Holly: The Buddy Holly Collection (disc 2)
*Lester Lanin: Christmas Dance Party
*Rolling Stones: The Rolling Stones Singles Collection: The London Years (disc 1)
*Phil Spector: A Christmas Gift For You From Phil Spector
*Touch: Touch
*XTC: Mummer

Reading log 2010-12-27

*Canniff, Milton. Terry & the Pirates Color Sundays Vol. 5 1939 (started)
*Larson, Eric. The Devil in the White City (started)
*Canniff, Milton. Terry & the Pirates Color Sundays Vol. 4 1938 (finished)
*Moore, Steven. The Novel: An Alternative History: Beginnings to 1600 (in progress)
*Oates, Joyce Carol. Blonde (in progress)
*O'Brien, Geoffrey. The Phantom Empire (in progress)