March 5, 2011

Playlist Week of 3-05-11

Lucinda Williams - Blessed (Deluxe Edition)

* Hesperion XXI (Savall): “St. Paul Sunday,” MPR Radio Studios, St. Paul, MN 3-10-01 (FM CDR)
* Accademia Bizantina (Dantone/Scholl): Schauspielhaus, Dresden 6-12-08 (FM CDR)
* Bach: Cantatas, BWV35, etc. (Accademia Bizantina/Dantone/Scholl): Schwarzenberg 6-18-06 (FM CDR)
* Sun Ra: Flushing Meadow Park, Queens, NY 7-04-73 (Pre-FM CDR)
* Sun Ra w/Wilbur Ware: House of Ra, Philadelphia, PA 1973 (AUD>FM CDR)
* Sun Ra: Out Beyond The Kingdom Of (Saturn LP>CDR)
* Albert Ayler, et al.: New York Eye and Ear Control (ESP-Disk’ CD)
* Sunny Murray: Sunshine/An Even Break (Never Give a Sucker) (BYG/Actuel/Fuel 2000 CD)
* Henry Threadgill’s Zooid: Teatro Communale, Cormòns, Gorzia, Italy 10-23-08 (FM CDR)
* Anthony Braxton: Septet (Pittsburgh) 2008 (New Braxton House FLAC>CDR)
* Evan Parker Quartet + Frut: Teatro alle Tese, Venezia 9-26-10 (FM CDR)
* Matthew Shipp: Art of The Improviser (Thirsty Ear 2CD)
* Mary Halvorson & Joe McFee: WKCR-FM Studios, New York, NY 12-15-10 (FM CDR)
* Joelle Leandre & Mephista: The Stone, New York, NY 6-25-10 (AUD CDR)
* Praxis: Profanation (Preparation for a Cosmic Darkness) (M.O.D. Technologies CD)
* Deltron: Deltron 3030 (75 Ark CD)†/‡
* DJ Shadow: Endtroducing… (MoWax CD)
* Muddy Waters: The Woodstock Album (Chess/MCA CD)
* Elvis Presley: Command Performances: The Essential ‘60s Masters II (RCA 2CD)
* George Harrison: Living In The Material World (Capitol CD)
* Bob Dylan: Bootleg Series Vol.8: Tell Tale Signs: Rare & Unreleased 1989-2006 (Columbia 2CD)
* Grateful Dead: Uptown Theatre, Chicago, IL 12-05-79 (SBD 3CDR)
* Tom Waits: Small Change (Asylum LP)
* Big Star: Keep An Eye On The Sky (d.1-3) (Ardent/Rhino 4CD)†/‡
* Lucinda Williams: West (Lost Highway CD)
* Lucinda Williams: Little Honey (Lost Highway CD)
* Lucinda Williams: Blessed (Deluxe Edition) (Lost Highway 1+1CD)
* Die Kreuzen: October File (Touch & Go LP)
* Die Kreuzen: Century Days (Touch & Go LP)
* Tool: Lateralus (Volcano CD)†/‡
* Robert Pollard: Moses On A Snail (GBV, Inc.)†/‡



On 2008’s Little Honey, Lucinda Williams sounded like she was, for the first time in her life, genuinely happy. But this newfound happiness made for an uneven album, her usual eloquent songwriting padded out with giddy schoolgirl love-songs, comedy routines and a winking cover of AC/DC’s “It’s a Long Way to The Top.” Thankfully, the Poetess of Pain is back on her new album, Blessed, but with a broader, deeper and more mature perspective. The opening track, “Buttercup,” is a bitter kiss-off like only Lucinda can sing—which might lead you to believe she’s just up to her old tricks. But as the album progresses, the songs begin to take on a cumulative weight as big themes emerge: not just love and heartache, but also death, suicide, the horrors of war and the salvation of friendship, community, family, faith—in other words, the search for meaning in a world full of endless toil and senseless strife. Just what I want from a Lucinda Williams record—especially these days.

Legendary producer Don Was frames Lucinda’s vocals in a warm, naturalistic space, every note perfectly placed, slickly polished yet still organic and pure. This is certainly one of her best-sounding records ever (so much so I’m seriously tempted to pick up the 2-LP vinyl edition). The L.A. session pros deliver just the right balance of chops and taste with Greg Leisz’s weeping pedal steel adding a suitably country-ish atmosphere where needed and Elvis Costello (of all people) contributing some searing electric guitar on three tracks. Lucinda’s voice has ripened with age and she sounds better than ever here, singing with a passionate intensity yet always in pitch-perfect control. I’m a long-time fan, but I have to admit this is probably her best album in a decade—so good it makes me think it’s just the first in a series of mature masterpieces. Seems to me she is just getting started. A limited “Deluxe Edition” (with eight (!) different covers) comes with a bonus CD called, The Kitchen Tapes, containing demos of all twelve songs recorded at her kitchen table, a fascinating, intimate glimpse into her songwriting process and well-worth seeking out. Either way, the appropriately titled Blessed is soul-nourishing music in these difficult times and most highly recommended.


Sam said...

So, what do you think of that Joelle Leandre Stone gig? Frankly, that one blew me away--it is layered, textured, deep music.

Here's my lists for last week:

Playlist 2011-03-07

*Anthology of Noise and Electronic Music vol. 3: Third a-chronology 1952-2004, disc 2
*Ravi Shankar: Live: Ravi Shankar at the Monterey International Pop Festival
*Bix Beiderbecke: Bix Restored Volume 3: 1928 (disc 2)
*Billie Holiday: The Complete Billie Holiday on Verve 1945-1959 (disc 4)
*Mahavishnu Orchestra: 1973-07-21 Lenox Music Inn, MA (CDR)
*Mauger Trio (Mahanthappa/Hemingway/Dresser): 2009-03-23 Venice (CDR)
*Bennie Maupin: The Jewel in the Lotus
*New Loft: 2011-02-16: "Visitation From Within" (wav)
*New Loft: 2011-02-23: "Ask Any Waiter" (wav)
*New What: 2011-03-03 Bon Air Community Center, Richmond VA (wav)
*Charlie Parker: The Complete Live Performances on Savoy (disc 3)
*Evan Parker/Paul Lytton: 1972-11-01 Berlin (CDR)
*Tortoise: 2010-02-11 Louisville KY (CDR)
*Trio M: 2009-07-01 Small's, NYC (CDR) disc 1
*Beach Boys: 1977-12-13 Seattle (CDR)
*Circulatory System: Circulatory System
*Grateful Dead: 1973-12-06 Cleveland (CDR) disc 3
*Grateful Dead: 1973-12-18 Tampa, FL (CDR) "Dark Star" > "Drums" > "Eyes of the World" > "Wharf Rat"
*Jimi Hendrix: Crash Landing
*Jimi Hendrix: Midnight Lightning
*Love: Forever Changes
*Major Organ and the Adding Machine: Major Organ and the Adding Machine
*Music Tapes: Music Tapes for Clouds and Tornadoes
*Sean O'Hagan & Jean Pierre Muller: The Musical Paintings, Vol. 1
*Olivia Tremor Control: Black Foliage: Animation Music Volume One
*Santana: Caravanserai (side 1)
*XTC: Black Sea
*Yes: Fragile (selections)
*Yes: Close to the Edge (side 1)

Reading List 2011-03-07:

*Esslemont, Ian C. Return of the Crimson Guard (started)
*James, P.D. A Certain Justice (finished)
*Lesh, Phil. Searching for the Sound: My Life with the Grateful Dead (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)
*Lileks, James. Gastroanomalies: Questionable Culinary Creations from the Golden Age of American Cookery (in progress)
*Segar, E.C. The Complete E.C. Segar Popeye Vol. 8 (Dailies 1932-1933) (in progress)

Rodger Coleman said...

Sam: That Joelle Leandre gig is fantastic. Great music and excellent recording. The two Mephista CDs on Tzadik are on my ever-expanding want list!