February 26, 2011

Playlist Week of 2-26-11

Vinyl Obsession

* Collegium Vocale Gent (Herreweghe): Église des Minimes, Brussels, Belgium 6-09-09 (FM CDR)
* Collegium Vocale Gent (Herreweghe): Église des Minimes, Brussels, Belgium 2-09-10 (FM CDR)
* Cage: Complete Piano Music Vol.8: Hommage à Satie (Schleiermacher) (MDG CD)
* Jimmy Giuffre 3: 1961 (Fusion/Thesis) (Verve/ECM 2CD)
* Matthew Shipp: The Art of the Improviser (Thirsty Ear 2CD)
* John Lee Hooker: Chill Out (Pointblank CD)
* Parliament: Mothership Connection (Casablanca CD)
* Parliament: Funkytelechy vs. The Placebo Syndrome (Casablanca CD)
* Parliament: The Clones of Dr. Funkenstein (Casablanca CD)
* Elvis Presley: Memories: The ’68 Comeback Special (RCA 2CD)
* Grateful Dead: Dream Bowl, Vallejo, CA 2-21-69 (SBD 2CDR)
* Grateful Dead: Capitol Theatre, Port Chester, NY 2-18-71 (SBD 2CDR)
* Grateful Dead: Hofheinz Pavilion, Houston, TX 10-14-77 (selections) (SBD 3CDR)‡
* The Band: Music From Big Pink (Capitol/MoFi SACD)
* Neil Young & Crazy Horse: Weld (Reprise 2CD)
* Chicago: Chicago Transit Authority (Rhino 2LP)
* Chicago: Chicago [a/k/a II] (Rhino 2LP)
* Chicago: III (Columbia 2LP)
* Chicago: V (Columbia LP)
* Chicago: VI (Columbia LP)
* Chicago: VII (Columbia 2LP)
* Fleetwood Mac: Rumours (Warner Bros. DVD-A)
* Steely Dan: Gaucho (Warner Bros. DVD-A)
* Tom Waits: The Heart Of A Saturday Night (Asylum LP)
* Lucinda Williams: West (Lost Highway CD)†/‡
* The Police: Ghost In The Machine (A&M SACD)
* Yo La Tengo: And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside-Out (Matador CD)
* Yo La Tengo: Danelectro (Matador CDEP)
* Spiritualized: Lazer Guided Melodies (RCA/BMG CD)
* Robert Pollard: Space City Kicks (GBV, Inc. CD)
* Lifeguards: Waving At Astronauts (Serious Business LP/CD)
* Beck: Mellow Gold (Geffen CD)
* Tool: Ænima (Zoo/Volcano CD)†/‡
* Animal Collective: Strawberry Jam (Domino CD)
* Animal Collective: “Peace Bone” (Domino CDEP)
* Animal Collective: Merriweather Post Pavilion (Domino CD)



I told a friend recently that I no longer feel so guilty about my guilty pleasures. That’s right: I’m proud to admit I still enjoy Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours, no matter how many billions of times I’ve heard it. And I’m not ashamed to have listened to Chicago’s first six studio albums this week, indulging in an orgy of nostalgic, feel-good music. Heck, I threw in some Elvis Presley to boot, just ‘cuz The King always cheers me up. And then Lizzy and I danced around the house to some Parliament/Funkadelic last night. And the Police are cranking as I write. What can I say? I love super-modern, hyper-intense music as much as the next guy, but I also like pop music of all kinds—I always have. It moves me.

Sure, music can be “Art” but it can also be utilitarian, simultaneously. One of the most amazing things about music is that it can make us feel better—physically and emotionally better—just by listening to it. Over the years, I’ve continually discovered that being a snob only serves to deny me access to the most fundamental thing music does. Music makes you feel something profound and ineffable, impossible to explain. But it’s real. And it doesn’t really matter how or why it happens; as long as you’re moved then, wow! Isn’t that amazing? I love literature, movies, painting and sculpture and the other arts, but let’s face it: they don’t do what music does. Music is primal, you know what I mean? Who am I to say what’s good or bad music? As the kids say, it’s all good.

I’ve always considered the connoisseur more interesting and useful than the critic. I might have strong opinions about what I personally think is better or worse music, but except for some obvious and extreme examples, I cannot say with absolute certainty that any particular iteration is objectively “bad.” What’s interesting is that it exists at all! A connoisseur is more interested in knowledge for its own sake. Of course, the more you know, the better equipped you will be to distinguish good from bad—but the connoisseur will quickly notice that technique alone does not guarantee artistic greatness. Connoisseurs acknowledge that some of the finer things in life are an “acquired taste” which requires effort to appreciate and will revel in that work rather than glibly disparage what they don’t understand. Unlike the critic, the connoisseur seeks to gather and share information rather than issue dubious commandments. I like to think of myself as a connoisseur, not a critic.

So I tend to write about music I like rather than music I don’t like. But that doesn’t mean I’m some sort of Pollyanna. Sometimes, I think about trying to generate blog traffic by being intentionally controversial and writing about my own personal musical antipathies. Well, let’s see…here’s one: (ahem) Wynton Marsalis has assumed an overlarge and extremely pernicious influence on the culture of jazz, doing more damage to the art form than any of the myriad “heretics” he condemns in his revisionist history (as canonized in Ken Burns’s Jazz documentary and institutionalized by Jazz At Lincoln Center). How’s that for a strong opinion? Then again, I think, well, maybe someone might hear the music for themselves, be moved by it, learn more—and rightly conclude his opinions are just so much egomaniacal blather. Wynton is an OK trumpet player, but a terrible musicologist. Does this make his music “bad” music? Maybe. But so what? There was a time, long ago, when all this seemed to matter but now I just want to enjoy music rather than criticize it. Unless someone starts paying me to do so, I’m not going to waste my time listening to and writing about music I actively dislike. For the right price, I would gleefully crank out heated rants by the yard. But on my personal blog, I’ll continue to write about what I like, what I love—even if it’s cheesy pop music. Perhaps that makes my blog boring to read; I don’t care.


Sam said...

Ha ha! I hear what you're saying about sticking to stuff you like, but every so often you really oughta throw a rant or two in there! Just for grins? Please? heh heh

Here's my list from last week:

Playlist 2011-02-28

*Anthology of Noise and Electronic Music vol. 3: Third a-chronology 1952-2004, disc 1
*Helmut Lachenmann: A Portrait (CDR) disc 3
*Bix Beiderbecke: Bix Restored Volume 3: 1928 (disc 1)
*Taylor Ho Bynum Sextet: 2010-09-10 Firehouse 12, New Haven CT (CDR)
*Rodger Coleman/Sam Byrd: 2010-12-27
*John Coltrane: Live in Japan "Leo"
*Billie Holiday: The Complete Billie Holiday on Verve 1945-1959 (disc 3)
*Joelle Leandre + Mephista: 2010-06-25 The Stone, NYC
*Rudresh Mahanthappa Indo-Pak Coalition: 2009-06-27 Verona (CDR)
*Mahavishnu Orchestra: 1973-02-24 Franklin Pierce College, Rindge, NH (CDR)
*Evan Parker/John Zorn/Ned Rothenberg: 2009-10-08 The Stone, NYC (CDR)
*Evan Parker Electro-Acoustic Ensemble: 2010-05-14 Koln (CDR)
*Sam Rivers Quartet & Anthony Braxton: 1978-10-15 Keystone Korner, SF (CDR)
*Bablicon: The Orange Tapered Moon
*Beach Boys: Smile Extra (boot CDR)
*Circulatory System: Inside Views
*Cornelius: The First Question Award
*Cornelius: 69/96
*Diminisher: Imaginary Volcano
*Gerbils: Battle of Electricity
*Grateful Dead: 1974-05-19 Portland OR (CDR)
*Jimi Hendrix Experience: Live at Monterey
*Icy Demons: Fight Back!
*Instruments: Dark Smaland
*Instruments: Billions of Photographs
*Love: Da Capo
*Paul McCartney: iMac (CDR compilation) disc 2
*Music Tapes: 1st Imaginary Symphony for Nomad
*Olivia Tremor Control: Music From the Unrealized Film Script, Dusk at Cubist Castle
*Prince: High
*Santana: Borboletta
*Santana: Amigos
*Santana: Festival

Reading List 2011-02-28:

*James, P.D. A Certain Justice (started)
*Lileks, James. Gastroanomalies: Questionable Culinary Creations from the Golden Age of American Cookery (started)
*Lee, Stan, et al. The Essential Hulk Vol. 1 (finished)
*Arabian Nights: Tales of 1001 Nights (transl. Malcolm C. Lyons) Vol. 1 (in progress)
*Gifford, Don, and Robert J. Seldman. Ulysses Annotated, rev. and expanded ed. (in progress)
*Joyce, James. Ulysses (reread/in progress)
*Lesh, Phil. Searching for the Sound: My Life with the Grateful Dead (in progress)
*Marcus, Greil. Invisible Republic (readings in)
*Segar, E.C. The Complete E.C. Segar Popeye Vol. 8 (Dailies 1932-1933) (in progress)

Andrei said...

I have watched "Saturday Night Fever" again. And so what? I still like it!
Don't worry so seriously about what you listen to, Rodger.
"...Music is the best" --FZ

My recent playlist:
- The Beatles: Abbey Road (2009 stereo remaster)
- The Beatles: Let It Be (2009 stereo remaster)
- The Beatles: Past Masters (2009 stereo remaster)
- The Beatles: The Complete BBC Sessions (10CD Set, strictly selections)
- John Lennon: Remember (Starbucks CD)
- John Lennon: Lennon (4CD, selections)
- Yoko Ono: Yes, I'm A Witch (CD)
- Paul McCartney: Live In Los Angeles (The Mail On Sunday CD)
- Paul McCartney: Red Square, Moscow, Russia, May 24, 2003 (Pro-shot 2DVD)
- Paul McCartney: Palace Square, St.Petersburg, Russia, June 20, 2004 (Pro-shot 2DVD)
- George Harrison: Let It Roll (CD)
- Ringo Starr: Starr Struck - Best Of Ringo Starr Vol.2 (Rhino CD)
- Brian Eno: Small Craft On A Milk Sea (Opal CD)
- Brian Eno/J. Peter Schwalm: Drawn From Life (Opal CD)
- Kraftwerk: Der Katalog (8 separate CDs, in progress)
- Roger Waters: Is It The Fifth? (labeled as Universal Italy CD, b-sides comp.)
- EXPO '92 Guitar Legends in Sevilla Festival (5DVDR, in progress)
- Eric Clapton Crossroads Guitar Festival 2007 (2DVD)
- Eric Clapton Crossroads Guitar Festival 2010 (2DVD, in progress)
- Eric Clapton: Clapton (CD)
- Ron Wood: I Feel Like Playing (CD)
- Rolling Stones: Sylverdome, Pontiac, Michigan, Nov 30, 1981 (stereo SBD 2CDR from DAC-076)
- Rolling Stones: Sylverdome, Pontiac, Michigan, Dec 1, 1981 (stereo SBD 2CDR from DAC-069)
- Rolling Stones: Palace Square, St.Petersburg, Russia, July 28, 2007 (AUD 2CD)
- Sun Ra: Astro Black (CDR)
- Miles Davis: Bitches Brew Live (CD)
- Miles Davis: The Man With The Horn (CD)
- Grateful Dead: In The Dark (Rhino CD)
- Grateful Dead: Built To Last (Rhino CD)
- Grateful Dead: Winterland June 1977: The Complete Recordings (9CD)
- Grateful Dead: From Egypt with Love shows, Winterland, Oct 17,18,20,21,22, 1978 (SBD CDRs, in progress)

Russian artists:
- Alexei Utkin/Hermitage Chamber Orchestra: J.S. Bach - Oboenwerke (Caro Mitis SACD)
- Odysseus Bogusevich: The Odyssey (Stereo & Video S&V081 CD)
- VA: Ethno Jazz (jazz.ru/Stereo & Video S&V088 CD)
- VA: Guitars of Russia (Stereo & Video S&V089 CD)
- VA: Young Jazz Scene of Moscow (jazz.ru/Stereo & Video S&V115 CD)
- Машина времени: XXX лет - концерт в Олимпийском (Time Machine: XXX Years - Live in Olympiysky)(Syntez 2CD, www.mashina.ru)
- Аквариум: Лошадь белая (Aquarium: White Horse)(CD)
- Аквариум International: Live in Royal Albert Hall (official download 2CDR, selections)
- Аквариум: Пушкинская, 10 (Aquarium: Pushkinskaya st., 10)(CD)