March 10, 2012

Playlist Week of 3-10-12

King Crimson - Lizard (40th Anniversary Edition)

* Buxtehude: Seven Sonatas, Op.1 (Holloway/Mortensen/ter Linden) (CPO/Naxos CD)
* Buxtehude: Seven Trio Sonatas, Op.2 (Holloway/Mortensen/ter Linden) (CPO/Naxos CD)
* Berio: Chemins II & IV, etc. (Ensemble Intercontemporain/Boulez) (Sony Classical CD)
* Berio: Voci (RSO Wien/Davies/Kashkashian) (ECM CD)
* Miles Davis: The Bootleg Series Vol.1: Europe 1967 (d.2)(Columbia/Legacy 3CD/DVD)
* Sun Ra: WXPN-FM, Philadelphia, PA 12-25-76 (FM CDR)
* Pat Patrick’s Baritone Retinue: Sound Advice (Saturn LP>FLAC)
* Grant Green: Idle Moments (Blue Note CD)
* John Abercrombie: Class Trip (ECM CD)
* Tom Rainey Trio: Camino Cielo Echo (Intakt CD)
* Aych (J. Hobs/M. Halvorson/T.H. Bynum): As The Crow Flies (Relative Pitch CD)
* Taylor Ho Bynum Sextet: Apparent Distance (Firehouse 12 CD)
* Grateful Dead: Dick’s Picks Vol.17: Boston Garden 9-25-91 (GDP 3HDCD)
* Grateful Dead: Road Trips Vol.2 No.4: Cal Expo ’93 (GDP/Rhino 2+1HDCD)
* Neil Young: On The Beach (Reprise DVD-A)
* Neil Young: Comes A Time (Reprise LP)
* Joni Mitchell: Hejira (Asylum HDCD)
* King Crimson: Lizard (40th Anniversary Edition) (Inner Knot CD/DVD-A)
* King Crimson: Discipline (40th Anniversary Edition) (Inner Knot CD/DVD-A)
* King Crimson: Heavy ConstruKction (DGM 3CD)†
* ProjeKct One: Live At The Jazz CafĂ© (DGM CD)†
* ProjeKct Three: Masque (DGM CD)†
* Yes: Tales From Topographic Oceans (Atlantic/Rhino 2CD)
* Yes: Relayer (Atlantic/Rhino CD)
* Gentle Giant: Three Friends (Alucard/EMI CD)
* Gentle Giant: Octopus (Alucard/EMI CD)
* Gentle Giant: In A Glass House (Alucard/EMI CD)
* The Police: Synchonicity (A&M SACD)
* Robert Pollard: Mouseman Cloud (GBV, Inc. LP)
* Porcupine Tree: In Absentia (Lava/Atlantic CD)
* Porcupine Tree: Deadwing (Lava/Atlantic CD)†
* Porcupine Tree: Fear Of A Blank Planet (Atlantic CD)†
* Porcupine Tree: The Incident (Roadrunner 2CD)†
* Opeth: Still Life (Peaceville CD)†
* Opeth: Blackwater Park (Music For Nations/KOCH CD)†
* Opeth: Deliverance (Music For Nations/KOCH CD)(†)
* Opeth: Damnation (Music For Nations/KOCH CD)†/‡
* Opeth: Ghost Reveries (Roadrunner CD)†
* Opeth: Watershed (Roadrunner CD)†
* Opeth: Heritage (Roadrunner CD/DVD)
* Katatonia: Last Fair Deal Gone Down (10th Anniversary Edition) (Peaceville CD/CDEP)†
* Katatonia: Viva Emptiness (Peaceville CD)†/‡
* Katatonia: The Great Cold Distance (Peaceville CD)†
* Katatonia: Night Is The New Day (Peaceville CD)†/‡
* The Mars Volta: De-Loused In The Comatorium (Gold Standard Labs/Universal CD)†/‡
* Baroness: Blue Record (Relapse CD)†
* Baroness: Red Album (Relapse CD)†



The King Crimson 40th Anniversary Editions are starting to trickle in and I was pleased to see one of the first to arrive was Lizard. Their third album, originally released in 1970, has always been a hard one to love. It’s a transitional record by a version of the band that never performed live and while it continues with the Mellotronic grandeur of their previous albums, it moves in an overtly out-jazz direction with prominent use of pianist Keith Tippett and members of his sextet. In fact, the Crimson King himself, Robert Fripp, asked Tippet to join the band full-time, but the offer was declined. Imagine what that might have sounded like! Overflowing with ideas, Lizard looks good on paper (and sports a stunningly gorgeous sleeve), but always suffered from a murky, indistinct mix, marred by layers of tape hiss and inadvertent blasts of distortion. Lizard has always stood out as their most musically ambitious album but it was also the most difficult one to listen to and enjoy.

Once again, Steven Wilson comes to the rescue, utilizing up-to-the-minute digital technology to meticulously remix Lizard from the original master reels, thereby eliminating the sonic degradation inherent in the primitive multitrack techniques which relied on “bouncing” tracks to make room for further overdubbing. While his remix is fastidiously true to the original, the newfound clarity of the voices and instruments is truly astonishing. Now you can finally hear the delicate, jazzy interplay within the dense orchestrations and, moreover, the rhythm section has a heft and solidity that was sorely lacking in the original. Nowhere is this more apparent than on the sprawling, side-long title track: the original mix is a mess—almost laughably disjointed and downright weird—but Wilson’s remix clarifies the richly variegated instrumental textures and brings out the dramatic arc of the piece in a way the original utterly failed to do. As Fripp admits in his liner notes, “The music of Lizard is redeemed. In that there is hope.”


I’ve been avoiding them up to now, but these 40th Anniversary Editions are a model of how historical reissues should be done. For twenty bucks (or so) you get a nicely mastered CD of the Wilson remix along with some bonus tracks—plus a DVD with the original album (and bonus tracks) in four different audio formats: MLP Lossless 5.1 surround; MLP Lossless 2.0 stereo; DTS 5.1 digital surround; and LPCM 2.0 stereo. Very nice! For the truly obsessed, the original mix is also included in high-resolution stereo and, if any exists, contemporaneous video content is also appended. Now, that is what I call value for the money. I don’t have a surround sound set-up, but these high-rez stereo tracks sound magnificent—glorious, even! This is state-of-the-art digital done right at a more-than-fair price. The gatefold digipack/slipcase packaging is simple but classy—honestly, it doesn’t get any better than this, folks. Even if, like me, you bought all the 30th Anniversary Editions ten years ago, you will be delighted to hear what Steven Wilson has done with these classic albums. If you can play DVD-Audio, you are in for a real treat! I can’t wait for the rest of them to arrive in the mail! See you next week.

1 comment:

Sam said...

Damn! I gotta get that! Here's the thing: I have never had any problems with "Lizard;" in fact, it may be my all-time favorite Crimson record. Because it's so out there. Tippett is awesome. And the drumming is perfect..everything blends together so well, and all the free jazz elements are perfectly suited for the musicians. I never had any problems with the mix either, but that may be because I didn't know what I was missing.

Here are my lists from last week:

Playlist 2012-03-12:

*Ad Hoc Quartet: 2011-11-26 Pyramid Atlantic (wav)
*Anthony Braxton Ensemble: 1976-06-27 Newport Jazz Festival, Carnegie Hall (CDR)
*Anthony Braxton: Nine Compositions (DVD) 2003, tracks 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
*Gerald Cleaver/Uncle June: 2009-01-06 The Stone, NYC (CDR)
*Colla Parte: 2011-11-11 (wav)
*Miles Davis: Bitches Brew (sides 3 & 4)
*Miles Davis: Panthalassa: The Remixes
*Die Like a Dog Quartet: Little Birds Have Fast Hearts No. 1
*Die Like a Dog Quartet: Little Birds Have Fast Hearts No. 2
*Coleman Hawkins: Confessin’: The Astounding Coleman Hawkins
*Ingrid Laubrock: 2009-08-01 The Stone, NYC (CDR)
*Tony Oxley Celebration Orchestra feat. Bill Dixon: The Enchanted Messenger
*Sun Ra: The Eternal Myth Revealed, Vol. 1 (disc 11)
*Luis Russell: The Luis Russell Story 1929-1934
*Cecil Taylor Unit: 1979-03-15 WKCR-FM, NYC (CDR)
*Henry Threadgill Zooid: This Brings Us To, Vol. 1
*Grateful Dead: 1974-07-24 Landover MD (CDR)
*Jill Jones: Jill Jones
*OOIOO: Armonico Hewa
*Soft Machine: Backwards
*Various artists: The Look of Love: The Burt Bacharach Collection (disc 1)
*Various artists: Saigon Rock & Soul: Vietnamese Classic Tracks 1968-1974

Reading List 2012-03-12:

*Cage, John. Silence (started)
*Crumb, R. The Complete Record Cover Collection (started/finished)
*Pynchon, Thomas. Gravity’s Rainbow (reread/started)
*Brande, Dorothea. Becoming a Writer (finished)
*Stephenson, Neal. Anathem (finished)
*King, Frank O. Walt and Skeezix: 1925 & 1926 (in progress)