January 15, 2011

Playlist Week of 1-15-11

Space City Kicks

* Charpentier: Te Deum, etc. (Les Arts Florissants/Christie) (Harmonia Mundi CD)
* Charpentier: Messe pour le Port Royal (Le Concert Sprituel/Niquet): Paris 12-12-06 (FM CDR)
* A. Scarlatti: Il Giardino di Rose: Sinfonie & Concertos (Accademia Bizantina/Dantone) (Decca SACD)
* D. Scarlatti: 21 Sonatas for Harpsichord (Kirkpatrick) (Archiv Produktion CD)
* Schmelzer: Violin Sonatas (Romanesca CD)
* J.S. Bach: Goldberg Variations & Canons (Egarr) (Harmonia Mundi 2CD)†
* J.S. Bach: Suites for Violoncello (ter Linden) (Harmonia Mundi 2CD)†
* Mahler: Symphony No.4 (Chicago Symphony/Reiner/Della Casa) (RCA-Victor/Classic LP)
* Scriabin: The Complete Preludes (Lane) (Hyperion 2CD)
* Scriabin: The Complete Piano Sonatas (Laredo) (Nonesuch 2CD)
* Messiaen: La Transfiguation (Orch.Phil./Choeur de Radio France/Chung)(Deutsche Grammophon 2CD)
* John Coltrane: Newport Jazz Festival 7-01-61 (SBD CDR)
* Wayne Shorter: Etcetera (Blue Note LP)
* Wayne Shorter: The All Seeing Eye (Blue Note LP)
* Wayne Shorter: Adam’s Apple (Blue Note CD)
* Wayne Shorter: Schizophrenia (Blue Note CD)
* Sun Ra & His Intergalactic Arkestra: Outer Space Employment Agency (Alive!/Total Energy CD)
* Sun Ra: Live in Paris at The “Gibus” (Atlantic—France/Comet/Universe CD)
* Sun Ra: “The Universe Sent Me”: The Lost Reel Collection, Vol.5 (selections) (Transparency CD)
* Sun Ra: “The Road To Destiny”: The Lost Reel Collection, Vol.6 (Transparency CD)
* Pharoah Sanders: Save Our Children (Verve CD)
* Anthony Braxton & Gerry Hemingway: Old Dogs (2007) (d.4) (Mode/Avant 4CD)
* Gigi: Illuminated Audio (Palm/Ryko CD)
* Van Morrison: Into The Music (Warner Bros. CD)
* Grateful Dead: Giants Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ 6-06-93 (SBD 3CDR)‡
* Grateful Dead: The Palace, Auburn Hills, MI 6-09-93 (selections) (SBD 2CDR)‡
* Jerry Garcia Band: Cats Under The Stars (Arista/Rhino CD)
* Jerry Garcia Band: Run For The Roses (Arista/Rhino CD)
* Lucinda Williams: Sweet Old World (Chameleon/Elektra CD)‡
* Emmylou Harris: Wrecking Ball (Elektra/Asylum CD)‡
* The Golden Palominos: This Is How It Feels (Restless CD)
* The Golden Palominos: Pure (Restless CD)
* The Golden Palominos: No Thought, No Breath, No Eyes, No Heart (Pure Remix EP) (Restless CD)
* Spiritualized: The Abbey Road EP (Arista CDEP)
* Boston Spaceships: Our Cubehouse Still Rocks (GBV, Inc. CD)
* Robert Pollard: Moses On A Snail (GBV, Inc. CD)
* Robert Pollard: Space City Kicks (GBV, Inc. LP/CDR)



I didn’t go to the Guided By Voices show last night. Heck, I was in bed before they ever hit the stage. But I got my own reward: Robert Pollard’s latest solo album, Space City Kicks, arrived in the mail and I listened to it over and over as I enjoyed my Friday night glass(es) of fine Kentucky bourbon. This is middle-aged rocking out at its most comfortable and convenient, just the way I like it.

So, once again, my first new record of the year is by the ridiculously prolific Pollard. One might expect that he would have taken the re-constituted “classic lineup” of GBV into the studio and capitalize on the wave of positive publicity surrounding their year-long reunion tour—but no (at least not yet). Instead, he has quietly launched GBVDigital, where soundboard recordings from the tour and the rest of Pollard’s massive discography are available for download. Meanwhile—and with little fanfare—Pollard has continued to churn out albums under his own name and various other monikers from the prog-psych studio project Circus Devils to the quasi-real rock band, Boston Spaceships. It has become cliché to remark of Pollard’s profligate output and the difficulty of keeping up. Yeah, yeah, yeah. No one—least of all Robert Pollard—expects anyone to buy it all (but many of us do). He is the master of the soft sell. Here’s the thing: if you’re a fan, Robert Pollard a collector’s dream come true. The records are consistently good—and sometimes (often, really) truly great. And just when you know what to expect, he does something different, offering the many subtle revelations of an inexhaustible creativity.

After the slick and sophisticated pop-rock of last year’s pair of solo albums (We All Got Out of The Army and Moses On a Snail), one would expect Pollard to continue along that path, but with Space City Kicks, he presents a more variegated approach, boldly opening with the noisy, art-damaged “Mr. Fantastic Must Die” and then moving freely through what he calls the “Four P’s of Rock”: Pop; Prog; Punk; and Psychedelia. Despite the widely ranging stylistic approaches, the album builds momentum as it goes along, thanks, in part, to Todd Tobias’s deft production and savvy multi-instrumentalism. And many of the songs exhibit an emotional directness that is sometimes surprising, coming from the notoriously elliptical Pollard. “Touch Me In The Right Place At The Right Time” is, as it’s pleading title announces, about as nakedly erotic as he’s ever allowed. By itself, this song might seem slight (and maybe a little creepy) but within the context of the album, it stands out as a sexy bit of pure pop goodness that elevates it beyond a rather simplistic structure. This, to me, is the essence of Pollard’s genius: he understands that the power of affective music is more about context than specifics. Blasting out of the stereo, “Touch Me” sounds like a smash hit single from an alternate universe.

It would be easy to surmise these tracks are mere leftovers from the previous year’s outpouring but, even if that is the case, so what? Then Space City Kicks is just further testimony of Pollard’s limitless songwriting abilities and another example of his uncanny sense of sequence and order, making a coherent album out of a mess of tracks, just as he has done with the three Suitcase box sets and various other compilations over the years. But I suspect that there is more forethought to this album than that. Eighteen weirdly compelling songs densely packed into thirty-six minutes, Space City Kicks feels like something more substantial than an ad hoc collection, more like a magnum opus, a rock opera, a manifesto. Coming from anyone else, this record would be greeted with high hosannas and hailed as a masterpiece, which, of course, it is. Yet, for Pollard, it’s just another day at the office. It’s easy to take the guy for granted amidst the blizzard of releases, but the truth is: he’s still got it! How many artists can you name who have maintained such a high level of production over decades? Not many. Even if you don’t like this stuff, you have to admire his tenacity and artistic integrity. Space City Kicks is more than just another great Pollard album—it is a brief summation of his myriad influences and a mature statement of purpose. Fans will adore it while others might become illuminated. Highly recommended to anyone who believes rock music can be transcendent.


Sam said...

"Space City Kicks" sounds like a lot of fun. I've been digging dipping into "Crickets" --he really is all over the place, but at the same time there's a, well, not narrowness, but focus to his approach, perhaps more with GBV? Sounds like he's branched out a bit with his other solo projects, and I find I enjoy the songs that sound less like GBV on "Crickets." But I know very little about this extremely prolific guy. Little by little, I'm learning.

Here's my lists from last week:

Playlist 2011-01-17

*Karlheinz Stockhausen: Stockhausen Composer Day 2009-01-27 "Hymnen" (CDR)
*Art Ensemble of Chicago: Art Ensemble of Soweto
*Art Ensemble of Chicago: Dreaming of the Masters Suite
*Bix Beiderbecke: Bix Restored Volume 1: 1924-1927 (discs 1, 2)
*Anthony Braxton Septet: 2010-10-07 Strasbourg, France (CDR)
*Taylor Ho Bynum Trio: 2008-11-14 NYC (CDR)
*Miles Davis: The Complete Bitches Brew Sessions (disc 2)
*Duke Ellington: The Complete 1932-1940 Brunswick, Columbia and Master Recordings of Duke Ellington and His Famous Orchestra (discs 6, 10, 11)
*Billie Holiday: The Complete Billie Holiday on Verve 1945-1959 (disc 1)
*Evan Parker/Sylvie Courvoisier: 2009-10-06 The Stone, NYC (CDR)
*Sun Ra: The Magic City (side 1)
*Sun Ra and His Mythic Science Arkestra: The Paris Tapes
*Sun Ra: 1973-07-04 NYC (1 track)
*Sun Ra and His Space Arkestra: What Planet Is This?
*Sun Ra: Outer Space Employment Agency (Ann Arbor 1973)
*Animal Collective: Feels
*Bablicon: A Flat Inside a Fog: The Cat That Was a Dog
*Grateful Dead: "Dark Star" compilation CDR (1971)
*Grateful Dead: 1973-09-11 Williamsburg (CDR) "Dark Star > Morning Dew"
*Hatfield & the North: Rotters Club (side 2)
*Sean O'Hagan: High Llamas
*Sean O'Hagan & Jean Pierre Muller: The Musical Paintings, Vol. 1
*Robert Pollard: Crickets: The Best of The Fading Captain Series
*Rolling Stones: Unsurpassed Masters Vol. 3 (1968-69)
*Rolling Stones: Their Satanic Majesties Request

Reading log 2011-01-17

*Canniff, Milton. Terry & the Pirates Color Sundays Vol. 8 1942 (started)
*Canniff, Milton. Terry & the Pirates Color Sundays Vol. 7 1941 (finished)
*Richards, Keith. Life (finished)
*Moore, Steven. The Novel: An Alternative History: Beginnings to 1600 (in progress)

Sam said...

Hey Rodger! Forgot to post this a couple of weeks back...a weekend's worth of iPod shuffling, just for kicks:

ipod 2010-01-04 through -07, pt. 1

1.James Brown: Licking stick live (Sex Machine)
2. Beatles: Johnny B. Goode (BBC)
3. Rolling Stones: I’m going down (Genuine Black Box)
4. Beach Boys: Don’t talk (put your head on my shoulder) (Pet Sounds)
5. Go! Team: Titanic vandalism (Proof of Youth)
6. Beatles: Being for the benefit of Mr. Kite (t. 7 rehearsal) (Sgt. Peppers Purple Chick)
7. Howlin’ Wolf: Little red rooster (Chess)
8. Elvis Presley: I want you, I love you, I need you (Complete 50s masters)
9. Pleng keh sam natee: Unknown title (Thai Country)
10. Booker T. & the MGs: Over easy (Time is Tight)
11. Tad Thaddock: Bottom of the bucket (Big Wong Sessions)
12. Crystal Spring Ramblers: Fort Worth stomp (Western Swing)
13. Beatles: Hard day’s night (Live: Seattle Down)
14. Wilson Pickett: In the midnight hour (live Stockholm)
15. Beatles: I’m only sleeping (t. 1 complete) (Revolver Purple Chick)
16. Nu-Sounds: Louise (Spaceship Lullaby)
17. Duke Ellington: Mississippi moan (Okeh Ellington)
18. Charlie Parker: Ko Ko (1947 radio)
19. Robert Wyatt: Pastafari (Comicopera)
20. Charlie Parker: Hot house (Roost ‘49)
21. King Crimson: One more red nightmare (Red)
22. Barbara Stephens: Love is like a flower (You Thrill My Soul)
23. Stereolab: Microclimate (Instant O in the Universe)
24. Bob Dylan: When the deal goes down (Modern Times)
25. Beatles: Help! (Love)
26. Howlin’ wolf: Oh Red (Memphis Days vol. 1)
27. Sun Ra: Satellites are spinning (Outer Spaceways Inc.)
28. Impressions: Don’t let it hide
29. Aretha Franklin: Oh me oh my (Queen of Soul)
30. Hatfield: Share it
31. Beatles: No reply mono
32. David Ruffin: Mountains of memories
33. Guided by Voices: Pimple zoo (Alien Lanes)
34. Roscoe Mitchell: Ornette (alt.) (Sound)
35. Ronettes: Be my baby (Back to Mono)
36. Elvis: I love you because
37. Prince: White mansion (Emancipation)
38. High Llamas: Get into the galley shop (Buzzle Bee)
39. Beatles: Happy just to dance mono
40. Temptations: It’s growing (Emperors of Soul)

Sam said...

...and here's more:
ipod 2010-01-04 through -07, pt. 2

41. Louis Armstrong: Wrap your troubles in dreams (King)
42. Smokey Robinson: (Come ‘round here) I’m the only one you need (Ooo Baby Baby)
43. Jackie Wilson: I don’t want to lose you (Mr. Excitement)
44. Buddy Holly: Early in the morning (BH collection)
45. Shirelles: Foolish little girl (Very Best)
46. Billy Butler & the Enchanters: I can’t work no longer (Curtis Mayfield’s Chicago Soul)
47. Willie Mitchell: That driving beat (Get Back Up Again 2)
48. Elvis Presley: Dontcha think it’s time
49. XTC: That’s really super, Supergirl (Skylarking)
50. Hank Williams: Crazy heart (Original Singles Collection)
51. Rodger Coleman & Sam Byrd: For the Sake Of (2008-03-24)
52. Duke Ellington: Three Little Words (RCA Centennial box)
53. Don Covay: It’s in the wind (Sweet Soul Music)
54. Bob Dylan & Johnny Cash: Girl from the north country (Nashville Skyline)
55. Anthony Braxton: Time on my hands (Eight + (3) Tristano Compositions)
56. George Jones: If you got the money (Cup of Loneliness)
57. Duke Ellington: The creeper (Early Ellington)
58. Beatles: So how come (no one loves me) (BBC)
59. Prince: Strange relationship (Sign O the Times)
60. Sun Ra: Intergalactic Universe (1971 rehearsal)
61. Sonny Boy Williamson: Ninety nine (Chess)
62. Big Joe Turner: Honey hush (Atlantic R&B)
63. Beatles: Being for the benefit of Mr. Kite -take 7 +9 complete (Purple Chick)
64. Rolling Stones: Sweet little 16 (Gorgeous Girls)
65. Jelly Roll Morton: Tank town bump (JSP)
66. Sun Ra: What’s new (What’s New)
67. Pavement: Conduit for sale! (Slanted & Enchanted)
68. Cold Blood: Visions (First Taste of Sin)
69. Kid Koala: Elevator hopper (Some of my best friends...)
70. Orthotonics: This time it looked like you (Wake Up You Must Remember)
71. Bob Dylan: Beyond the horizon (Modern Times)
72. Cecil: Lena (2nd version)(Nefertiti the beautiful one has come)
73. Thelma Houston: Stronger (UK Sue Label Story)
74. Husker Du: Chartered trips (Supernova)
75. Husker Du: I don’t want to know if you are lonely (Candy Apple Grey)
76. Beatles: Everybody’s got something to hide (demo)*(Purple chick)
77. Ronettes: He Did It (Girl Group Sounds)
78. Little Walter: Tell me mama
79. Impressions: You’ll always be mine (Check Your Mind)
80. Jerry Butler: Believe in me (UK Sue Label Story)