Saturday, June 11, 2011

What's New?: 6.11.2011

A wealth of stuff; let's get into it. . .

Uncle Tupelo — Anodyne (1993)

Re-acquisition, of sorts. I know I've known this album before, but I just can't honestly say if I've ever actually owned it (my Napster days are kind of hazy). In any case, I can honestly say that I didn't get it however long ago I first heard it. I think I checked it out because I was really into Yankee Hotel Foxtrot at the time and I wanted to dig deeper. I was just then getting into Neil Young for the Crazy Horse aspect of his music, so while I definitely was able to appreciate (and still do love) 'The Long Cut', things like 'Slate' and the (now I realize to be awesome) title track were completely lost on me. With contemporary ears, I hear a very solid, distinctly American, modern folk rock album. Very good stuff and I now feel like I need to dig into Jay Farrar's post-Tupelo work.

U2 — New Year's Day 7" single (1983)

Essentially purchased and graded for its b-side: 'Treasure (Whatever Happened to Pete the Chop).' A seriously rockin' tune, it's very much worthy of the rest of the War material from which it can be most certainly aligned with. Good stuff — I tacked it onto War as a bonus track and it fits right on.

Dream Command — Fire on the Moon (1990)

This is the MIGHTY Comsat Angels recording under a different band name through a series of convoluted events. Released only in America and Holland. I avoided this album for years, even as a huge Comsats fan, because of one main thing: this review. Just further proof that AMG may be an invaluable information source, but that their editorial portions should be taken with a grain of salt. I mean, sure, it's the Comsats going for a pretty dumbed down sound. But, honestly, besides the keyboards being mixed in a bit louder here, it's not all that different from Chasing Shadows. A revisit to Renascent's awesome To Before collection revealed an interesting new perspective of 'She's Invisible' 'Venus Hunter' and especially 'Ice Sculpture.' I mean, I can sit through this album just fine and hear plenty of characteristics that I love about the Comsats: Steve Fellows' plain, but expressive vocals, Kevin Bacon's distinctive basslines and an all around sense of great, but purposely sparse guitar playing. I actually like it. I mean, hell, the Cure have made worse records than this and they're universally more well-respected than the Comsats. It's a hell of a lot better than 7 Day Weekend, that's for sure.

Marvin Gaye — What's Going On deluxe edition (1971/1972)

So much has been said about this album —and specifically, its words— that I perhaps have taken it for granted over the years. Sure, I've always had it in some form (in fact, this purchase replaces my beat up old original vinyl) and it's always struck me as a pleasantly bleak experience, I don't know how much I really have been able to appreciate it on its own merits. Sure, I dig it. And its title track is one of the greatest pieces of American social commentary ever written, but I don't know. I guess I've always been kind of bitter that Marvin went on to make, speaking from a production point of view, two of the greatest albums of the 70's in its wake (Let's Get it On and I Want You) and those albums always take a back seat to this one because it's "important." Fuck that, if Bob Dylan can spit out ridiculous stream of conscious tone poems on Blonde on Blonde (an album I happen to love as well) after years of writing "important" music, then Marvin should also be able to delve inwards (in a more sensual way) and get just as many accolades. But whatever, the baggage is what it is. The music press has re-written this album into its place in popular music history as it has. I still love it and hearing it in the two mixes presented here —the originally released smoother mix and the rough around the edges "Detroit Mix"— definitely gives me a new perspective on the album. The extras beyond that are generally excellent. The "rhythm and strings" mix included at the end of disc one is so good, I can't even do it justice with words. Besides harmonies, it, if nothing else, singlehandedly makes one realize that it's more than the words that make this album great. The original single version of 'God is Love' is a dream come true for me, as that has always been my sleeper favorite on the album. It sounds like much more of a stock Motown production of the time, but slows the tune down so it lasts three full minutes. Rounding things out, you get a nearly full performance of the album live that is valuable for nothing else than Marvin just fucking with the band — and the band never faltering one bit. An earlier take of 'Flyin' High In the Friendly Sky' (titled here 'Sad Tomorrows') is great, while 'Head Title' is a very early demo for 'Distant Lover' and clearly points the direction to where Marvin was headed. Overall, I have a new perspective on this album and I like it even more after hearing this edition — which is the point, after all, isn't it?

Marvin Gaye — I Want You deluxe edition (1976)

Just godlike status, basically. The title track on this album is one of the greatest songs ever written. Funk rock fuzz guitar swirling badass manifesto. Goddamn perfection, basically. I've always loved it. Always will. The "Vocal and Rhythm" mix presented here is just about as fucking revelatory as it gets for me. The song is such an amazingly swirling musical stew that its hard to forget one of the best singers of all time actually sang on it. But that version, if nothing else, illustrates how unique Marvin's arrangement skills were. He multi-tracked all the vocals on the song and he sounds downright incredible harmonizing with himself. Unbelievable. The instrumentals, alternate mixes and extended jams on the tunes give the listener a relevant insight into the sessions for the album and it's pretty darn interesting to hear how 'I Wanna Be Where You Are' originally started as a rambling six minute ode to Marvin's family — pretty much the antithesis of what most people would have surmised from the title. The two previously unheard songs —'You Are the Way You Are' and 'Is Anybody Thinking About Their Living?'— are fantastic. Overall, sheesh, why did I wait so long? Marvin's best album (yeah, I said it), finally given the proper treatment it deserved all along. Just alluringly good. Classic as they come and enhanced.

David Sylvian — Died in the Wool - Manafon Variations (2011)
I will review this properly in the next few days. . .


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