March 3, 2012

Playlist Week of 3-03-12

Caravan - In The Land of Grey and Pink 40th Anniversary

* Hesperion XXI, et al. (Savall): Jerusalem: The City of Two Peaces (Alia Vox 2SACD)
* Debussy/Ravel/Dutillieux: String Quartets (Juilliard) (Sony Classical CD)
* Sun Ra: Jazz Showcase, Chicago, IL 11-27-76 (AUD 2CDR)
* Pharoah Sanders: Message From Home (Verve CD)
* Pharoah Sanders: Save The Children (Verve CD)
* Gateway (J. Abercrombie/D. Holland/J. DeJohnette): Glasgow, Scotland 3-17-94 (SBD CDR)
* Matthew Shipp: 4D (Thirsty Ear CD)
* Matthew Shipp: The Art Of The Improviser (Thirsty Ear 2CD)
* Matthew Shipp Trio: Elastic Aspects (Thirsty Ear CD)
* Tom Rainey Trio: Pool School (Clean Feed CD)
* Ginger Baker Trio: Going Back Home (Atlantic CD)
* Grateful Dead: Terrapin Station (Arista/Analogue Productions LP)
* Grateful Dead: Reckoning (Arista/Analogue Productions 2LP)
* Chicago: III (Columbia 2LP)
* Chicago: V (Columbia LP)
* Soft Machine: The Soft Machine (ABC/Probe/Sundazed LP)
* Soft Machine: Volume Two (ABC/Probe/Sundazed LP)
* Soft Machine: Third (Columbia 2LP)
* Caravan: In The Land of Grey And Pink (Deram/Decca 2CD/DVD)
* Hatfield And The North: Hatfield And The North (Virgin LP)
* Cluster: Cluster 71 (Philips/Water CD)
* Pink Floyd: Wish You Were Here (Experience Edition) (d.1) (Pinkfloyd/EMI CD)
* Pink Floyd: Animals (Pinkfloyd/EMI CD)†
* Yes: The Yes Album (Atlantic/Mobile Fidelity CD)
* Yes: Fragile (Atlantic/Analogue Productions LP)
* Yes: Close To The Edge (Atlantic/Rhino CD)
* Boredoms: Onanie Bomb Vs. The Sex Pistols (WEA/Reprise CD)
* Boredoms: Pop Tatari (WEA/Reprise CD)
* Boredoms: Chocolate Synthesizer (WEA/Reprise CD)
* Beck: Mellow Gold (Geffen CD)
* Wilco: Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (Nonesuch 2LP)
* Wilco: A Ghost Is Born (Nonesuch 2LP)
* Porcupine Tree: Recordings (KScope CD)
* Porcupine Tree: In Absentia (Lava/Atlantic CD)
* Porcupine Tree: Deadwing (Lava/Atlantic CD)†
* Porcupine Tree: Fear Of A Blank Planet (Atlantic CD)†
* Porcupine Tree: Nil Recurring (KScope CDEP)†
* Porcupine Tree: The Incident (Roadrunner 2CD)†
* Opeth: Blackwater Park (Music For Nations/KOCH CD)
* Opeth: Lametations: Live at Shepherd’s Bush Empire 2003 (Music For Nations/KOCH 2CD)†
* Opeth: The Roundhouse Tapes (Peaceville 2CD)†
* Opeth: In Live Concert At The Royal Albert Hall (Roadrunner 3CD/2DVD)†
* Opeth: Heritage (Roadrunner CD/DVD)
* Katatonia: Last Fair Deal Gone Down (10th Anniversary Edition) (Peaceville 2CD)
* Katatonia: Viva Emptiness (Peaceville CD)†/‡
* Katatonia: The Great Cold Distance (Peaceville CD)†/‡
* Katatonia: Night Is The New Day (Peaceville CD)†/‡
* Agalloch: The Mantle (The End Records CD)†
* Agalloch: Ashes Against The Grain (The End Records CD)†
* Agalloch: Marrow Of The Spirit (Profound Lore CD)†
* The Black Keys: Attack & Release (Nonesuch LP)

†=iPod
‡=car

Commentary:

Like the 40th Anniversary Edition of Jethro Tull’s Aqualung (which I wrote about last week), Caravan’s 1971 album, In The Land Of Grey And Pink, was also celebrated last year with a fresh re-mix by prog savior Steven Wilson. As with just about everything Mr. Wilson touches, it’s well worth hearing. I wasn’t really familiar with this classic “Canterbury Scene” band until recently, so I cannot comment on how the original LP sounded, but this remix sounds smooth and clear while still retaining that vintage analog vibe. Perfect. Caravan are sometimes dismissed as “prog lite” and their breezy, pop-inflected delivery evokes a discipline and ambition quite different from, say, King Crimson’s—but if this is merely ear-candy, it is at least very, very tasty. They were never that big in the US, but were very popular in Europe in the early ‘70s and, in fact, this 40th Anniversary release in only available from the UK. The three-disc “Deluxe Edition” contains two CDs packed full of outtakes, alternate mixes and radio broadcasts along with a DVD of Wilson’s 5.1 surround mix, the new stereo mix and a television appearance on The Beat Club at Radio Bremen in 1971. If you’re a fan, it looks like a no-brainer right?

Well, there are a couple of fairly significant caveats. First of all, what is up with this horrendous packaging? Remember when these Universal “Deluxe Editions” were housed in a nice, clear plastic sleeve? Well, look closely at the photograph above. Universal has ditched the outer sleeve and, instead, affixed tape (tape!) around the double-gatefold digipack that reads “Deluxe Edition.” Seriously? You have to cut the tape to open the package! And that big, black hype sticker? Yep, it’s stuck to the album cover like a bloody Band-Aid. “Deluxe?” Not really. Secondly, about that DVD: the 5.1 mix is in the lossy Dolby DTS format and the stereo tracks are plain vanilla PCM at 48kHz. Wilson himself has commented on the tragedy of using such outdated technology and is apparently negotiating with the label to release a download of the original high-resolution files. Good luck with that! Calling this a “Deluxe Edition” and charging a pretty penny for it while cheaping out on the details that record collectors actually care about just makes me despise these megalithic record companies for their arrogance and hubris. Frankly, this release deserves to be pirated.

Then again, at least they included the DVD (such as it is) without making you shell out for the ├╝ber-expensive super-duper-deluxe limited edition box set like so many of the bigger, money-grubbing names out there (you know who they are). Personally, I do not have a surround-sound set-up and the stereo remix of In The Land Of Grey And Pink really does sound good, so I’m not all that bent out of shape about it (besides, savvy shopping yielded me a fifty-percent discount). But it could have been so much better. Realizing this, I finally caved in and ordered all the King Crimson 40th Anniversary editions—those things are obviously done right at a fair price. I’m really looking forward to hearing those amazing records in a true high-resolution format. They should arrive in time for next week’s playlist, so stay tuned!

1 comment:

Sam said...

Sounds like lousy packaging for sure. But the glorious music! I love Richard Sinclair's voice on this...laconic and witty. Of course he would use it to its best advantage on the two Hatfield albums, which to me are the apogee of the Canterbury scene.

Here are my lists from last week:

Playlist 2012-03-05:

*Anthony Braxton Pine Top Aerial Music: 2011-12-01 Wesleyan (CDR)
*Miles Davis: Live at the Fillmore East (March 7, 1970): It's About That Time, disc 2
*Ingrid Laubrock Quintet: 2011-06-18 Red Hook Jazz Festival, Brooklyn (CDR)
*New Loft: 2012-01-25 "Slide Over Here" (wav)
*New Loft: 2012-02-06 "Blueberry Bill" (wav)
*Sun Ra: 1976-11-27 Jazz Showcase, Chicago (CDR) selections
*Henry Threadgill Zooid: 2007-05-17 Jazz Gallery, NYC (CDR) disc 1
*Henry Threadgill & Zooid: 2010-06-24 Jazz Gallery, NYC (CDR)
*Allied Chemical Brothers: 1981-04-21 "Tazz" (CDR)
*Elvis Costello & the Attractions: Get Happy (2003 reissue, disc 1)
*Elvis Costello & the Attractions: Imperial Bedroom
*Crystals: Da Doo Ron Ron: The Very Best of the Crystals
*Mike Elder/Greg Jordan/Harry Forrest/Sam Byrd: 2012-01-27 (mp3)
*Flaming Lips: Embryonic
*Grateful Dead: 1972-10-18 St. Louis (CDR) disc 2
*Grateful Dead: 1972-11-19 Houston (CDR) “Dark Star”
*Grateful Dead: 1974-02-24 Winterland (CDR)
*King Crimson: Islands
*Kinks: Something Else by the Kinks
*Mastodon: The Hunter
*OOIOO: Armonico Hewa
*Prince: 1999 Homemade Deluxe Edition (boot CDR) disc 1
*Prince: The Work Vol. 2 disc 3 (boot CDR)
*Prince: Box of Chocolates (boot CDR)
*St. Vincent: Marry Me
*Various artists: 4000 Volts of Stax
*Zu & Spaceways Inc.: Radiale

Reading List 2012-03-05:

*Stephenson, Neal. Anathem (started)
*Arabian Nights: Tales of 1001 Nights (transl. Malcolm C. Lyons) Vol. 3 (finished)
*Ebert, Roger. I Hated, Hated, Hated This Movie (finished)
*Brande, Dorothea. Becoming a Writer (in progress)
*King, Frank O. Walt and Skeezix: 1925 & 1926 (in progress)