Music Notes November 2015

November 30, 2015 at 4:21 pm (Uncategorized)

And here we are again.

1 Elvis Costello – Unfaithful Music and Disappearing Ink

I’ve read too many rock autobiographies this year which disappoint (Chrissie Hynde, Kim Gordon). this doesn’t. Costello is a marvellous storyteller, and this slightly fractured narrative is entertaining throughout. Costello discusses family, his career and most interesting the genesis of songs and songwriting. Great.

2. Jeremy Reed – Waiting for the Man: The Life and Music of Lou Reed

As prep for Howard Sounes new controversial biography of Lou Reed, I read Jeremy Reed’s book. A quick read with lots of interesting details, but here too, Lou comes across as a bit of a dick.

3. Chris Isaak – First Comes the Night

Chris Isaak is best whenever he channels the spirits. Much as I loved his versions of the classics on Beyond the Sun, his own work holds up. This one, his 12th, is a solid collection of hurtin’ songs which as with the best of Isaak’s work seem timeless.

4. Bob Dylan – Best of the Cutting Edge 

Every time a new “bootleg” is released, I feel as if I’m reading  Juliet, Naked again. I was certain I didn’t need the 17 (or was it 18?) disc collection which featured everything from these sessions, but what’s left is pretty amazing: alternative takes, demos, radically stripped down versions. I’ll say that I consider Blonde on Blonde, Dylan’s first rock album. To my ears Bringing it all Back Home and Highway 61 are still folk records with electric backing. BOB is a new thing. And it is a revelation to hear those early version of the songs. Amazing.

5. Kurt Cobain – Montage of Heck OST

Which brings us to this. I’ve heard this described as Cobain’s solo album. It isn’t. It’s a collection of demos, good ideas, jokes, and things which should never have seen the light of day. Sure, sure, Cobain’s version of “And I love here” is absolutely worth hearing , but too much of this collection is simply half-finished musings. It doesn’t add to the legacy, it cheapens it.

6. David Bowie – “Blackstar”

Hmm. The title track from the forthcoming album. The video feels like the soundtrack to a Dr. Who episode, I’m just not sure if that’s a compliment or not. Haunting vocals and percussion driven, it’s not exactly standard (it’s also ten minutes long). It’s worth investigating just because it’s Bowie, but it’s more than that too.

7.  Oxford American –  The Music Issue

One of the annual pleasures. Oxford America’s “Southern music issue” focuses on Georgia this year. Fantastic essays on Janelle Monae, the Athens’ music scene, Sharon Jones, the Indigo Girls, Blind Willie McTell, and more; a free CD and James Brown on the cover. A stocking stuffer for the music fan in your life.

8. Nenah Cherry and the Circuit – “Dead Come Alive”

A “lost” On-U recording coming a few years before “Buffalo Stance.” Funky electronica.

9. One Direction – Made in the A.M.

OK Sam, I listened to the record. Um, I like their earlier, funnier stuff. Seriously, the transition away from the poppy boy band sound to a more mature, what we used to call either MOR or AOR rock sound doesn’t grab me.  My daughter likes the record, but it’s never going to be the mass cult of a few years back.

10.  Beach Boys – Party: Uncovered and Unplugged

Way back when, the band recorded this as a stopgap to get their label off of their backs. The label added crowd sounds and such. This is the original album stripped but with all the demos and extras added. 81 tracks in total. Not sure if the casual fan needs it, but it’s worth a listen.

December music notes will be in about two weeks.



1 Comment

  1. Sam said,

    Glad you listened to it! And I’m inclined to agree with you… even though I really, really like the album as a whole, it’s hard not to miss the days of tracks (and videos) like this one

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