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Saturday, March 15, 2014

Top 6 from November 5, 2013

Rock & Roll – The Velvet Underground from Live MCMXCIII

Even after the amputation you can dance to a rock & roll station.
A lot of folks put down this album. It is the Velvets playing in the style of a 90's Lou Reed album, but frankly that's a better idea than trying to recreate the 1969 live album, and these were good years for Lou anyway. You can still dance to it, you know. It's also sort of is Sterling's valedictory.

Diminuendo and Crescendo in Blue - Duke Ellington from Live at Newport 1956

Yeah, the solo, but, the tunes are pretty good too. Two sides of Duke's early style - contrapuntal, busy swinging, trying to cram in as many notes as a side of a 78 could hold, the frenzy of the audience providing the underlying energy that the super-fast revolutions of the turntable once did. 

Visions of Johanna – Robyn Hitchcock from Robyn Sings

The acoustic version, where Johanna looks like the mirror. (I'd always been confused at to whether Bob says she looks like the mirror or Vermeer, Robyn include two performances on this album and she alternates.) I saw Robyn play this at the Coolidge Corner Theater in the wrong key (or at least wrong for him key) I think only because it was the key of the harmonica he happened to have on him.

The Puppet Motel – Laurie Anderson from Bright Red / Tightrope

Anderson's collaboration with Brian Eno is quite pronounced here, with her voice being pitch shifted up and down, with Joey Baron on drums and whoever's on guitar (Belew? Hmm, it's Greg Cohen, who woulda thunk) rockin' it forward.

The World of Harry Partch

Recordings made at the Whitney in 1969 in great Coulmbia sound.

The Daphne of the Dunes, with Partch playing the solo part on his altered viola (extended neck, played like a cello between the knees), is a revelation to me. A link perhaps to the romantic era, but completely inside Partch's unique sound-world of rhythm, color, and microtonal harmony and melody. I believe it was hearing this piece on the radio that set off my radar for this album (it has just been reissued by Arkiv Music). Castor and Pollux also receives a stunning performance. The performance of Barstow is certainly preferable to the 1982 recording in the New World series, but I can still imagine a somewhat less stiff performance. It's also a little bit too closely miked. The disc is filled out with Partch's demonstrations of his instruments with his instructive but sometimes a bit too self-aggrandizing commentary.

Pharoah Sanders – Prince of Peace, also from DJ Trouble

Going on the Christmas playlist, whether he meant it as such or not. Hey, it's got sleighbells!

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