November 26, 2011

Playlist Week of 11-26-11

Rolling Stones - Some Girls Live in Texas '78

* Purcell: Fantasias For The Viols 1680 (Savall, et al.) (Alia Vox SACD)
* J.S. Bach: The Works for Lute (Kirchhof) (Sony Classical 2CD)
* J.S. Bach: Harpsichord Concertos, etc. (AAM/Egarr) (Harmonia Mundi 2CD)†
* Carter: Piano Concerto, etc. (Nashville Symphony/Schermerhorn/Wait) (Naxos CD)
* Sun Ra: Live At Montreux (Inner City/Universe 2CD)
* Ronnie Boykins: The Will Come, Is Now (ESP-Disk’ CD)
* Cecil Taylor: Jazz Advance (Transition/Blue Note CD)
* David S. Ware String Ensemble: Threads (Thirsty Ear CD)
* John Abercrombie: Cat ’n’ Mouse (ECM CD)
* John Abercrombie: Class Trip (ECM CD)
* John Abercrombie Quartet: Wait Till You See Her (ECM CD)
* Gary Burton/Chick Corea/Pat Metheny/Roy Haynes/ Dave Holland: Like Minds (Concord CD)
* Aretha Franklin: I Never Loved A Man The Way I Love You (Atlantic/Mobile Fidelity CD)
* Aretha Franklin: Lady Soul/Aretha Now (Atlantic/Mobile Fidelity CD)
* William S. Burroughs: Dead City Radio (selections) (Island CD)
* The Rolling Stones: Exile On Main St. (Deluxe Edition) (Promotone/Universal 2CD)
* The Rolling Stones: Some Girls (Deluxe Edition) (Promotone/Universal 2CD)
* The Rolling Stones: Some Girls Live In Texas ’78 (Promotone/Eagle Rock DVD+CD)
* The Rolling Stones: Some Girls Sessions (fan/boot 2CDR)
* Bob Dylan: Bringing It All Back Home (mono) (Columbia/Sundazed LP)
* Bob Dylan: Highway 61 Revisited (mono) (Columbia/Sundazed LP)
* Van Morrison: Astral Weeks (Warner Bros./Rhino LP)
* Jeff Beck: Truth (mono) (Epic/Sundazed LP)
* Jeff Beck: Beck-Ola (Epic/Sundazed LP)
* Jeff Beck: Blow By Blow (Epic LP)
* Grateful Dead: Fairgrounds, Lille, France 5/13/72 (GDP/Rhino 3CD)
* Grateful Dead: La Grande Salle du Grand Theatre, Luxembourg 5/16/72 (GDP/Rhino 2CD)
* Grateful Dead: Kongressaal, Munich, W. Germany 5/18/72 (GDP/Rhino 3CD)
* Grateful Dead: Park West Ski Area, Park City, UT 9-04-83 (selections) (SBD 3CDR)
* Jerry Garcia Band: After Midnight: Kean College 2/28/80 (JGE, LLC/Rhino 3CD)
* David Crosby: If I Could Only Remember My Name… (Atlantic DVD-A)
* Jean-Luc Ponty: King Kong: Plays The Music of Frank Zappa (Blue Note/Friday Music LP)
* Frank Zappa & The Mothers: Fillmore East June 1971 (Bizarre/Reprise LP)
* Frank Zappa: Wazoo (Vaulter Native/ 2CD)
* Frank Zappa: Imaginary Diseases (Zappa Records CD)
* Yes: Yesshows – Expanded (Atlantic/Friday Music 2CD)
* Alan Parsons Project: I Robot (Arista LP)
* ELO: Greatest Hits (Columbia LP)
* The Doobie Brothers: Greatest Hits (Warner Bros. LP)
* Los Lobos: Kiko (Slash/Warner Bros. CD)†/‡
* U2: Achtung, Baby (Deluxe Edition) (d.1) (Island/Universal 2CD)†
* Anton Fier: Dreamspeed/Blindlight (Tzadik 2CD)†
* Guided By Voices: “We Won’t Apologize […]”/”The Unsinkable Fats Domino” (Matador 7”)
* Boston Spaceships: Let It Beard (GBV, Inc. 2LP)
* Jim O’Rourke: The Visitor (Thrill Jockey LP)
* Mastodon: Crack The Skye (Reprise CD)(†)
* Mastodon: The Hunter (Reprise CD)(†)



I’m not the hugest Rolling Stones fan, but I do have a fondness for their 1978 album, Some Girls, which has recently received the “deluxe edition” treatment. Of course, I picked up a copy—even though I knew I was in for a let-down.

Some consider this the last great Stones album and it’s easy to agree. The rise of disco and punk was threatening to overturn the complacent hegemony of rockstars like the Rolling Stones and, snapping out of their usual torpor, they responded with their best record in years, one which managed to fuse the rhythms of dance music with the energy and guitar noise of punk while still sounding like the Stones of old. Personal turmoil added an unexpected edge to the songwriting: Keith Richards’s trial over the Canadian heroin bust was impending, resulting in the coy but recondite “Before They Make Me Run” and Bianca Jagger’s bitter divorce proceedings are reflected in positively venomous songs like “Lies” and “Respectable.” They sound like they really mean it and the album has aged well, unlike a lot of the “crossover” attempts that would follow. While the danceable numbers like “Miss You” and “Beast of Burden” were appropriately huge hits, the whole album is strong from start to finish, a rare thing indeed in the Stones discography.

Unfortunately, this re-re-mastering is abysmal: loud, brickwalled and ear-bleedingly bright. Ouch! That kind of approach might have brought some much-needed clarity to the murky Exile on Main St. (reissued in a “deluxe edition” last year) but it totally wrecks this otherwise decent-sounding album. Interestingly, the “bonus disc” of unreleased songs sounds much—much!—better. I have to ask: in this day and age, why couldn’t they have given the album proper that kind of treatment? Oh well; a wasted opportunity—and possibly the last one we’ll get. And, also like the Exile “bonus disc”, Sir Mick has overdubbed new vocals onto old backing tracks and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. Fortunately, the unaltered “Petrol Blues” is here, sounding like it was actually taken from my bootleg copy. Taken for it is, the “bonus disc” is a pretty decent Stones record in its own right, with songs like “Claudine” and “No Spare Parts” being worthy of the canon, new vocals and all—but that hardly makes up for the atrocious mastering of Some Girls. Reportedly, the expensive 180-gram vinyl sounds no better—what a shame.

Well, whatever. More pleasing is the DVD/Blue-Ray/CD release of Some Girls Live in Texas ’78. With the new album hitting the charts, the Stones hit the road for a short tour of the U.S., playing a variety of venues from small theaters to enormous stadiums, with several of the shows being recorded for broadcast on "The King Biscuit Flour Hour" (bootlegs of which have circulated widely). In addition, the complete concert from July 18, 1978 at the Will Rogers Memorial Center in Fort Worth, Texas was professionally filmed but the footage has languished in the Stones vault until now. Too bad, as it shows them diligently making a sincere effort to reclaim their title as the World’s Greatest Rock ‘n’ Roll Band. Gone are the horns and back-up singers, elaborate lighting rigs and the giant, inflatable phallus. Instead, it’s just five guys (supplemented by nearly invisible keyboardists) getting back to basics, playing the hits but also delivering the new material with startling vigor. Jagger acts the clown, of course, but he has not quite become the total self-parody of later years, even stopping to sing with soulful conviction now and then and periodically adding his clangorous guitar to the din. It’s the rest of the band that carries the day: newcomer Ronnie Wood is the perfect foil for Keith Richards, their riffing guitars meshing perfectly into a tightly knit wall of rock; meanwhile Charlie Watts mans the backbeat along with Bill Wyman’s stoically inventive bass playing. It’s not punk, it’s not disco—it’s the kind of sublime synthesis the Stones were capable of—but they’re digging in like it still matters. My problem with the Stones has always been their apparent laziness but, here, they’re working hard to remain relevant—and succeeding (at least) one last time. Sound and video quality is excellent and, as an added bonus, the band’s appearance on “Saturday Night Live” is included along with a contemporaneous news story hosted by none other than Geraldo Rivera and a brand new interview with Mick Jagger. Highly recommended!

Also of interest to Stones fans is the official (albeit download only) release of The Brussels Affair, one of the most highly-regarded bootlegs of all time. This 1973 concert has been remixed from the original master tapes and the 320k MP3 files are available here for a (comparatively) reasonable $4.99. I have yet to commit (I still have a hard time paying money for lossy computer files), but it sure looks tempting since there are presently no plans to release this on CD. It’s surely one of the great concerts from the Mick Taylor years and I’d love to hear it cleaned up, even if it’s an MP3. So, while the treatment of the “official” catalog continues to be shoddily presented, these archival releases are a surprising treat. But like I said, I’m not the hugest Rolling Stones fan, so I don’t care that much. I’d still like to find a clean, original pressing of Some Girls someday—I stupidly sold mine in a fit of fashion-conscious pique—but they’re hard to find these days. Well, as they say: “You can’t always get what you want, but sometimes you just might find you get what you need.”

1 comment:

Sam said...

Too bad about the sound on the remaster. I like "Some Girls," but overall it never grabbed me as much as the earlier stuff.

Here are my lists from last week:

Playlist 2011-11-28:

*John Cage: 2007-09-28: Milano Musica Festival, Event 7 (Cage) CDR
*Mozart: The Complete String Quintets (The Nash Ensemble) disc 1
*Anthony Braxton Small Ensemble: 2009-05-04 Echo Echo Mirror House Music, Wesleyan, sets 1
*Miles Davis: Live in Europe 1967 (The Bootleg Series Vol. 1) disc 2
*Duke Ellington: Piano in the Background
*Charlie Parker: The Complete Dean Benedetti Recordings of Charlie Parker (discs 1, 2)
*Sun Ra: The Eternal Myth Revealed, Vol. 1 (discs 1-5)
*Henry Threadgill: Carry the Day
*Various artists: Jazz in Britain - Pioneers 1927-1938
*Various artists: Baden-Baden Free Jazz Meeting 1970 (1970-12) CDR (disc 5)
*Beach Boys: Hawthorne, CA
*Beatles: Please Please Me (2009 mono remaster) side 1
*Beatles: Magical Mystery Tour (2009 mono remaster) side 2
*Beatles: Revolver (2009 mono remaster) side 1
*Beatles: Mono Masters (2009 mono remaster) disc 2
*Beatles: Abbey Road (2009 stereo remaster)
*East West Blast Test: Popular Music for Unpopular People
*Grateful Dead: Dick's Picks 11 (1972-09-27 Stanley Theater, NJ) "Dark Star > Cumberland Blues"
*Grateful Dead: 1972-11-13 Kansas City (CDR) "Dark Star"
*Grateful Dead: Dick's Picks 28 (1973-02-26 Lincoln, Nebraska) "Dark Star > Eyes of the World"
*Grateful Dead: 1972-10-02 Springfield, MA (CDR) "Dark Star"
*Mr. Mustard: The Beatles Remixes
*Prince: Dirty Mind (Homemade Deluxe Edition)
*Prince: Controversy (Homemade Deluxe Edition)
*Sonic Youth: Daydream Nation
*Spring: Spring
*Trombone Shorty: Backatown
*XTC: Rag & Bone Buffet
*Brian Wilson: Adult Child

Reading List 2011-11-28:

*Bate, Jonathan. The Genius of Shakespeare (started)
*Esslemont, Ian C. Stormwielder (started)
*The Complete Shock SuspenStories (EC) (finished)
*Arabian Nights: Tales of 1001 Nights (transl. Malcolm C. Lyons) Vol. 2 (in progress)
*Borges, Jorge Luis. Selected Poems, 1923-1967 (in progress)
*Bradbury, Ray: Bradbury Stories (in progress)
*Bride of Dark and Stormy, compiled by Scott Rice (in progress)