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Music Consumption: Television
09/10/1999 Television: live

Lately, I've also been listening to a nontrivial number of unreleased Television performances. Some of these shows should have been put out--San Francisco '78 and the Tom Verlaine show at the Ritz in '81 have been consistently blowing me away. (Although I wonder if SF78 wasn't sped up--the tempo's really aggressive and sounds right, but Tom's voice is a lot higher than I've usually heard it.)

09/10/1999 Silkworm: Libertine

Silkworm's Libertine rounds out my Phelps-era Silkworm collection. Once again, I can't say the Cohen tunes are quite doing it for me, although "Warsaw" is a good lead-off track. Tim Midgett's tunes are really good on this one--fulfilling the promise of "Garden City Blues" and "Enough Is Enough" from In the West. His standouts here are "Couldn't You Wait," and "Bloody Eyes." The Phelps tunes are excruciatingly moving--the stories of weepers in the audience seem pretty credible. His string of three in a row move from remorse to sadness to a kind of existential rejection. Good stuff, and not nearly as hard to find as I keep hearing it is.

09/10/1999 Bedhead: Transaction de Novo

And I've been listening to Bedhead again. As a friend of mine put it, sometimes when a band breaks up, the injustice of it all is infuriating--so many lousy bands persist while so many good ones call it quits. Go figure.

08/08/1999 Keiji Haino: The Book of "Eternity Set Aflame"

I've refrained from playing this at work--it sounds exactly like a hard drive dying, and I don't want to freak anybody out. There are only three tunes on this, but they add up to 70 minutes. The intense feedback of the first movement contains a lot of higher fuzztone frequencies that will probably damage your hearing if you listen to this at anything above just-audible. And the second and third movements, where he starts emoting the ineffable in tortured screams, are, to be honest, kind of a lot to take. I enjoyed it, but I'll also note that if you're looking for a way to clear out those party guests who will just not leave, you've found your CD.

08/08/1999 Bob Dylan: Live 1966-Bootleg Series Vol.4

At the moment, I'm listening to "Live 1966-Bootleg Series Vol.4", which is, in fact, a great pleasure, and segues appropriately into my latest acquisitions...

08/08/1999 Bob Dylan: Bringing It All Back Home

I don't know what I've done to deserve this, but a mint vinyl copy ran me 5 bucks. An enjoyable classic that I've only dipped into.

08/08/1999 Bob Dylan: Blood on the Tracks

I've always dug "Tangled Up in Blue" (Hi, Bill!) but on close listening to this unopened copy from '74 ($5), I'm interested in hearing the original, more haunting and disturbing version that's rumored to be slated for release as part of the "Bootlegs" series.

08/08/1999 Spiro Agnew: Spiro Agnew Speaks

By all reasonable end-of-the-century expectations, this would be a punk album, but no, it's the real item--ol' Spiro Agnew himself, speaking out on the state of America as he or his equally misguided speechwriters saw it. Perhaps most frightening, besides the lousy mastering job, is the first track on side two, "Some Examples of the Vice President's Wit," which has that particularly mortifying quality of trying to be funny and not even being laughable. I'm sure there're some gems (and possibly some germs) in here, but I'm hesitant to give up 40 minutes of my time trying to find them. $7, with flexidisc. What does it mean that this is more expensive than the Dylan?

08/08/1999 Silkworm: In the West

Silkworm, In the West For some reason, Silkworm never caught on for me, until I heard this one. Of course, this is from the Phelps era, and we already know I'm a Phelps fan. There's an intense, aggressive sadness about this music that's extremely attractive to me. The standouts are the Phelps tunes, although "Garden City Blues" is up there, and I like "Enough Is Enough." I occasionally have the Cohen songs in my head, but to be honest, they don't grab me the same way as the others. I'm a bitter guy, I guess, but I'm not that bitter.

08/08/1999 random listening: Zorn, Phelps

Still listening to Zorn's Filmworks, and the Phelps. And Television's The Blow-Up.

08/08/1999 R.E.M.: Murmur

I always liked this album. Now I have it. Pull it out and tell me you don't get nostalgic.

08/08/1999 Painkiller: Execution Ground

My Zorn phase continues. As I sit here in a coffee shop with the Beatles' Rubber Soul playing in the background, the very idea of Painkiller is almost inconceivable, and yet totally and completely necessary. It's hard to believe that the same planet could hold both musics. The Painkiller is very heavy, and very listenable (for me, anyway). The extra bonus of listening to this CD is that I can now hear the Painkiller influence on Zorn's Masada project--yep, there's more to it than just Ornette and klezmer, I'm realizing. I've got to pick up more Masada, actually.

08/08/1999 Naked City: Naked City

Inevitably, I picked this up. I needed the aggressive quick-change stuff, with the intense screaming from Yamatsuka Eye, with equal screaming from Zorn's sax. Once again, I'm enjoying Frisell's work with this group, even as his solo stuff doesn't quite scan for me. As I observed on a mailing list I subscribe to, it took me years to see the light about Quine, so maybe I'll come around to Frisell's thing sometime. It's obvious that he's a really good player; there's just something about his tone and style that doesn't do it for me. But with Naked City, when he lets rip, it's good. Highlights are "You Will Be Shot," the "Sicilian Clan" cover, "Snagglepuss," "A Shot in the Dark" (dig the way they torture the tune for a minute before delivery), "I Want to Live," "Lonely Woman," "NY Flat-top Box," the noisy stuff in the middle, and "Inside Straight." So sure, it's noise and I love it. You got a problem with that?

07/15/1999 John Zorn: Filmworks I

John Zorn's "Filmworks I" has totally knocked me out. You have to get this. These pieces are film soundtracks from the mid-'80s through 1990, and the diverse range of styles--and his mastery of them--is extremely impressive. It helps that he's got several knockout bands here. The cut-and-paste aesthetic isn't so much in evidence in these pieces--while tone, genre and mood vary from piece to piece, the interior of each one remains largely consistent. One of the great pleasures in several of these is the playing of Robert Quine, whose brilliance I've never fully recognized before. (Maybe that's because he's had less-than-optimal working experiences in the bands I'd known his work from.)

07/15/1999 The Shipping News: Save Everything

For some reason, The Shipping News has been slow to catch on for me, but once I've listened to their stuff for a while, it really does catch on. I bought their CD "Save Everything" with the expectation that it would sound different from how it does sound, but expectations or no, it's thoroughly engaging. A friend says it reminds her of someone from the late '80s, but she can't recall who. Neither can I; while there are reference points here and there, it adds up to a tasty post-rock signature.

07/15/1999 Ornette Coleman: Free Jazz

Free Jazz is somewhat more complex than my head's able to process at the moment, but it is a darn good listen.

07/15/1999 Television: The Blow-Up

I've been listening intensively to the re-issued semi-official Television bootleg, The Blow-Up. Extremely impressive performances--"Little Johnny Jewel" is the most engaging version I've heard, and the playing is red-hot throughout, with perhaps a few moments of uncertainty. Richard Lloyd shines in several tunes, particularly the famous moment during the cover of "Satisfaction" when he detunes his low E all the way and wraps it around the back of the neck. Tom Verlaine's playing is excellent on these tunes, and perhaps the only complaints I can think of are the omission of "Poor Circulation," which was played at the show, and the odd sound quality--sure, it was originally a bootleg, but couldn't they have done something about the random tape his dropping in and out of "Elevation"? In any event, you won't be disappointed. You can get it "here".

04/25/1999 Joel R.L. Phelps: The Downer Trio

I've come to appreciate the beauty of the Downer Trio EP, which particularly resides in "Razorback" and "At El Paso," two very powerful songs. You owe it to yourself to check this out.

04/25/1999 Joel R.L. Phelps

Still listening to Joel Phelps. There's a new site maintained by Daniel Jurnove, which is excellent and up-to-the-minute. Photos from the latest recording session indicate a) that the new material is very electric, possibly something like the first LP, and b) end of an era--Joel's lost the goatee. Looking pretty good there, Joel.

04/25/1999 Richard Lloyd

Speaking of Richard Lloyd, it turns out that this excellent guitarist is gigging regularly, with his own band, solo, and with Bibi Farber, a new guitar and songwriting talent. Haven't checked out her work yet, but it's on the list. I did, however, manage to pick up a copy of Richard's first solo LP, "Alchemy." It's way out of print, and I don't think it's been reissued on CD, except maybe in Europe. It's very good, of a piece with his later solo stuff. I do, however, find the synth lines kind of distracting, and IIRC they're happily absent on "Field of Fire" and "Real Time." His playing is good throughout, but my memory tells me that it's showcased somewhat more on the later two LPs. Gotta pull them and put them on. Word is that he's working on some new stuff, recording at home. I'll probably trumpet it here when it is released.