Monthly Archives: October 2011
This week starts off with the day known as Halloween. It represents, for some, a little time to blow off some steam and shake it loose…to forget one’s life and all the troubles that stubbornly will still be there after All Hallow’s Eve is over and forgotten, like all that bite-size candy. It will be waiting for you with the morning hangover…all the bills and torn relationships, bad bosses and back stabbing friends, the rising cost of gasoline and the unwavering fact that death is hunting you down… All you can do is gather together with your fellow freaks and geeks, have a drink and laugh like a Pinhead…without a care in the world.
It has not been announced officially by the band, but the following has been posted on Alternative Distribution Alliance website…
The Hampton/Winston-Salem 97(11/21-23)shows featured Phish at an peak of execution and flow. Throughout the shows, Phish seized most every opportunity to lift and expand. Paul Languedoc’s stereo mix, mastered by Fred Kevorkian, funnels the energy of these special shows nearly 15 years later. Hampton/Winston-Salem 97 contains all the music played over these 3 shows for a total of 45 songs – over 8 hours of music – including never-before-heard material from soundchecks at both venues. The 7-CD box set, a must-own collection for any Phish fan.
Look for a street date of December 6th with a price of around $40…just in time for Christmas.
This song (which is most closely associated with Leadbelly) is about a man asking his lover where she was the previous night as she did not come home to their bed. She answers that she slept in the pines, alone, with the cold winds giving her chills. I doubt the man believed her as he repeats the question. It makes you wonder what happens after the song ends…after all, sexual jealousy is the greatest crazy maker we have. I think Kurt Cobain knew this well. He gets so deep into this song I fear that he will get lost in it and never to return. The last prolonged scream/gasp of the song, when he opens his eyes for half a second, is enough to shatter your heart.
So as we kick off another week of cheating mates, lying politicians and unstoppable corporate greed let us enjoy Kurt’s pain that he turned into art.
I will start this review with laying my cards face up on the table…I am a Tom Waits fan. There. Full disclosure. In 1985, when I was 21 years old, I read a review of Rain Dogs in Rolling Stone magazine and it sounded like something I wanted to hear. That album and it’s warped sense of rhythm and rhyme had me captivated. The album that followed, Swordfishtrombones, proved to me that this guy was a talent and that I wanted to follow his career. So when it became known that Tom was releasing an albums worth of new material, his first since Real Gone in 2004, I was excited to see what direction he would be taking this time. Would it be more of the wall of sound made with percussion like turntables and keyboards or minimalist guitars and voice as a rhythmic instrument or a concept album of life in a German Beer hall…
What he has delivered is a collection of tight, shorter songs (nothing over the four minute twenty second mark) with his voice as the star of the show. Of course the vocals are his standard rough and tumble stuff presented in a way that only Tom Waits can deliver. But there is a suppleness under that powerful voice. At sixty-one he sounds strengthened and inspired.
Album kicks of with the hyper sax and guitar/banjo driven blues in “Chicago“. You notice right away the beautifully simple instrumentation and how Waits sculptures a song on feel or ‘the groove’ and laying on deceptively simple sounding verses. On “Talking at the Same Time” he sings in a falsetto…“Well it’s hard times for some, For others it’s sweet, Someone makes money when there’s blood in the street”…punctuated with horns and a lonesome piano, it has the feel of a weary walk down hopeless roads. That pained track is followed by the joyful rock-a-billy abandon of “Get Lost“. On “Kiss Me” he lays down bass and piano over the warm scratchy noise of a 78 record while crooning a plea to his lover…“Kiss me like a stranger once again, I want to believe that our love’s a mystery, I want to believe that our love’s a sin, I want you to kiss me like a stranger once again”…and the delivery is so sincere that you hope this person can rekindle the passion of the love affair. Keith Richards lends his vocals for the chorus of Tom’s ode to being the survivor, “Last Leaf“. You hear pride and wistfulness in the untangled unison of their voices.
The sonic assault of “All Hell Broke Luce” is structured beautifully, something the last couple of his albums were missing. The song is a maddening march of barked lyrics from the mind of a pissed-off solider. Pissed off about the never ending question of why. Why must I risk it all for what seems to be so little? Waits hoarse vocals hammer home the angry observations of the solider’s life...”When I was over here I never got to vote, I left my arm in my coat, My mom she died and never wrote, We sat by the fire and ate a goat, Just before he died he had a toke, Now I’m home and I’m blind, And I’m broke, What… is… next?”…this blunt song makes you feel the solder’s anger and exasperation. It is a song that should make you think and just might get you pissed-off too. This is art…and that is what good art does.
The music on the album is sparse and not as dense as his last couple of albums. Drums are handled by Tom’s oldest child, twenty one year old Casey Waits. David Hildalgo of Los Lobos along with long time Waits collaborator Marc Ribot handle the guitar lines for the most part. Keith Richards adds his touches on four of the thirteen tracks. Flea and Les Claypool also put in appearances, but unless you read over the liner notes you would never know. This is no superstar guest album…this is a Tom Waits album through and through.
As a cohesive album this is one of his best. It is up there right along with my beloved Rain Dogs. Rating of 4+ out of 5.
Finally someone has taken music by the throat and raised the art form to higher levels previously unimagined.
As the world goes a little farther into madness let us enjoy one of my favorite songs from Bob Dylan. This little tune of gloom and doom won an Academy Award and a Golden Globe in 2000 for Best Original Song. Dylan spits out words in such a world weary tone that he just seems to be screaming, “I am done, what does it matter?”
I understand that Dylan can either seem like a “prophet” or as “a weird little dude” depending on what he is up to…with all the hubbub about his last gallery showing for his asian series of art he sure looks like a weird little dude. But when one of his lyrics can reduce me to tears, he is more like a prophet. More than likely he is a great songwriter and flawed human.
So as the world decides to spin towards a global meltdown let us enjoy one of Dylan’s bleaker songs, THINGS HAVE CHANGED. Turn it up loud and act like you just don’t care…
Gonna take dancing lessons, do the jitterbug rag
Ain’t no shortcuts, gonna dress in drag
Only a fool in here would think he’s got anything to prove
Some things are too hot to touch
The human mind can only stand so much
You can’t win with a losing hand
All the truth in the world adds up to one big lie
I’m in love with a woman who don’t even appeal to me