June 18, 2011

Playlist Week of 6-18-11

EC on MoFi

* Josquin Desprez (Collegium Vocale Gent/Herreweghe): Église de Minimes, Brussels, 3-17-11 (FM CDR)
* J.S. Bach/Chopin (Hewitt): Wigmore Hall, London 6-06-11 (FM CDR)
* J.S. Bach: Violin Concertos (AAM/Manze/Podger) (Harmonia Mundi SACD)†
* J.S. Bach: 7 Harpsichord Concertos (AAM/Manze/Egarr) (Harmonia Mundi 2CD)†
* Handel: Trio Sonatas, Op.2 & Op.5 (Academy of Ancient Music/Egarr) (Harmonia Mundi 2CD)
* Miles Davis: Kind Of Blue (Columbia SACD)
* Cannonball Adderley: Somethin’ Else (Blue Note CD)
* Bill Evans: Everybody Digs Bills Evans (Riverside/JVC XRCD)
* Sun Ra: Sub-Underground (Saturn LP>CDR)
* Sun Ra: Jazz Showcase, Chicago, IL 9-08-74 (AUD CDR)
* Anthony Braxton: 12+1tet (Victoriaville) 2007 (Victo CD)
* Andrew Raffo Dewar: Six Lines Of Transformation (Porter CD)
* Bob Marley & The Wailers: Babylon By Bus (Island 2LP)
* Jimi Hendrix: West Coast Seattle Boy: The Anthology (Experience Hendrix/Columbia 4CD+DVD)
* Rolling Stones: Singles Collection: The London Years (d.1-2) (London/Abkco 3SACD)
* Rolling Stones: Some Girls (Rolling Stones/Virgin LP)
* Rolling Stones: Some Girls Sessions (fan/boot 2CDR)
* Grateful Dead: Winterland 1973: The Complete Recordings (d.4-5) (GDP/Rhino 9CD)
* King Crimson: Beat (DGM CD)†
* Neil Young & Crazy Horse: Sleeps With Angels (Reprise 2LP)
* Neil Young & Crazy Horse: Broken Arrow (Reprise 2LP)
* Emmylou Harris: Red Dirt Girl (Nonesuch CD)†/‡
* Elvis Costello: My Aim Is True (Columbia/Universal/MoFi LP)
* Elvis Costello: This Year’s Model (Columbia/Universal/MoFi LP)
* Elvis Costello & The Attractions: Armed Forces (Columbia/Universal/MoFi LP)
* Elvis Costello & The Attractions: Get Happy!! (Columbia/Universal/MoFi 2-45RPM LP)
* Los Lobos: Colossal Head (Warner Bros. CD)†/‡
* Los Lobos: This Time (Hollywood/MoFi SACD)
* Thurston Moore: Demolished Thoughts (Matador CD)
* Guided By Voices: Do the Collapse (TVT CD)†
* Tortoise: Standards (Thrill Jockey CD)†/‡
* Tortoise: It’s All Around You (Thrill Jockey CD)†/‡
* Tool: Lateralus (Volcano CD)†
* A Perfect Circle: Mer de Noms (Virgin CD)†/‡
* A Perfect Circle: Thirteenth Step (Virgin CD)†/‡
* A Perfect Circle: eMOTIVe (Virgin CD)†/‡
* Deerhoof: Friend Opportunity (Kill Rock Stars CD)
* Deerhoof: Offend Maggie (Kill Rock Stars CD)
* Deerhoof: Deerhoof vs. Evil (Polyvinyl CD)



With his old-fashioned, angular eyeglasses, thrift store chic and a snarling vocal delivery, Elvis Costello (nee Declan MacManus) epitomized the rise of British “punk rock” with the release of his debut album, My Aim Was True, in 1977. And, at the time, the menacing tone and manic tempo of the opening song, “Welcome To The Working Week,” certainly seemed to drive the final nail in the hippie’s coffin and signaled something truly new, grim and exciting in pop music. In retrospect, it’s obvious Costello was always just another singer/songwriter at heart, with deep roots in Tin Pan Alley, music hall and American soul music. This was already apparent on the title track and on his first hit single, “Allison,” both enduring ballads full of tricky chord modulations, elaborate melodies, and jazzy lead guitar—a far cry from the amateurish minimalism of, say, the Sex Pistols. Yet, however good the songs are, My Aim Is True is weighed down by the pedestrian accompaniment of the San Francisco-based Clover, who was hired by producer Nick Lowe to rush record the album in a mere twenty-four hours. This deficit was immediately remedied on the following albums, which featured Costello’s working band, The Attractions, and with their muscular and sophisticated musical support, his songwriting flourished, unleashing a string of near-perfect albums which transcend the now-dated “new wave” label. This Year’s Model (1978), Armed Forces (1979) and Get Happy!! (1980) showed remarkable growth and consistency, establishing Costello as a bona fide rock star—and the preeminent singer/songwriter of the era. These records sound as fresh today as when they were originally released, even if they’re not really “punk rock.”

Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs has recently reissued these first four albums on ultra-high-quality vinyl and they are nothing less than spectacular in every possible way. Admittedly, they are not audiophile recordings to begin with, but MoFi has extracted every bit of detail from the analog master tapes, making them sound better than ever. And, as usual, the packaging is super-deluxe: oversize, heavy-duty gatefolds with old-style, pasted-on artwork—going so far as to recreate the original British covers with their intentional “mistakes” (the deliberately off-center front on This Year’s Model and Get Happy!!’s artificial “ring-wear”) which were “corrected” by Costello’s U.S. label, Columbia, who was afraid customers would return them en masse as “defective.” However, MoFi retains the Columbia track-listings so as to include the familiar singles which were omitted on the British editions—a happy tradeoff for this Yank. Also note that rather than stuffing all twenty-one of Get Happy!!’s songs onto a single LP, MoFi recreates the original promo-only version, stretching them across two forty-five-RPM discs for vastly improved sound quality. Excellent! If you love these records and have access to a turntable, you owe yourself these outstanding reissues. Yeah, they’re a little pricey, but worth every penny, in my opinion—they are just so exquisitely well done. It’s unclear whether MoFi will continue on with this series of definitive vinyl editions. I, for one, would love to see Imperial Bedroom given this kind of treatment, given that it is one of my favorite records of all time. I guess we’ll have to wait and see. In the meantime, these will continue to provide lots of listening pleasure. All four are most highly recommended.

1 comment:

Sam said...

Yes, let's hope they get to "Imperial Bedroom!" I'm especially interested in "Get Happy"--I never had that on vinyl.

You know what blew me away, all over again, this week? Wednesday and Thursday nights on "Miles at the Fillmore." That 2-record set gets unfairly maligned by people dissatisfied with Teo Macero's editing, and while there's always a case for hearing the entire sets unaltered, I have to say I think he did a fantastic job on that album. And the band plays totally OUT for seriously long stretches of time, even with Miles! It really kicks it.

Here's my lists for last week:

Playlist 2011-06-20:

*Andrea Centazzo: Moon in Winter
*Dave Holland/Derek Bailey: Improvisations for Cello and Guitar
*Instant Composers Pool Tentet: I.C.P.-Tentet in Berlin
*Miles Davis: Miles Davis at Fillmore (sides 1 & 2)
*Mahavishnu Orchestra: 1973-03-11 Boston (early show) (CDR)
*Chris McGregor's Brotherhood of Breath: Live at Willisau
*Myra Melford's Happy Whistling: 2010-04-09 Firehouse 12, New Haven, CT (CDR) disc 1
*New Loft: 2011-05-04: "A Corner of the Past" (wav)
*Wayne Shorter: Et Cetera
*Wayne Shorter: The All-Seeing Eye
*Wayne Shorter: Schizophrenia
*Subtle Body Transmission Orchestra: "Eight Frames for N Soloists and Spectral Continuo" 2011-06-04 Off the Grid 3, Silver Spring MD (wav)
*Sun Ra: My Brother the Wind Vol. II
*Sun Ra: 1971-08-17 Slug's? NYC (CDR)
*Cecil Taylor: 1985-06-29 Montreal (CDR)
*Weather Report: Sweetnighter
*Weather Report: Mysterious Traveler
*Weather Report: Tale Spinnin'
*Weather Report: Black Market
*Weather Report: Heavy Weather
*Weather Report: Mr. Gone
*Weather Report: 8:30
*Bablicon: A Flat Inside a Fog: The Cat That Was a Dog
*Beatles: Help! (2009 mono remaster)
*Grateful Dead: The Twenty-Nine Ones (CDR web compilation) disc 1
*Grateful Dead: Selections from the Taper's Section (CDR compilation) discs 1 & 2
*Jimi Hendrix: 51st Anniversary (The Story of Life...) (boot CDR) discs 7 & 8
*Henry Cow: Western Culture
*Mars Volta: Frances the Mute
*OOIOO: Armonico Hewa
*Rovo: Imago
*Various artists: Deep Soul Discoveries, Vol. 1 & 2

Reading List 2011-06-20:

*Martin, George R.R. A Clash of Kings (reread/started)
*Martin, George R.R. Game of Thrones (reread/finished)
*Arabian Nights: Tales of 1001 Nights (transl. Malcolm C. Lyons) Vol. 1 (in progress)
*Campbell, Eddie. Alec: The Years Have Pants (A Life-Size Omnibus) (in progress)
*Ebert, Roger. The Great Movies II (in progress)
*Gifford, Don, and Robert J. Seldman. Ulysses Annotated, rev. and expanded ed. (in progress)
*Joyce, James. Ulysses (reread/in progress)
*Meyerowitz, Rick. Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead (in progress)
*Segar, E.C. The Complete E.C. Segar Popeye Vol. 8 (Dailies 1932-1933) (in progress)
*Sim, Dave. Cerebus, Vol. 1 (in progress)