Odds and Ends 036
Get up, stand up
Femi Kuti: No Place for My Dream (Knitting Factory)
Lyrics sharper, angrier, stronger, band and especially voice less so ("Carry On Pushing On," "No Work No Job No Money") ***
Nona Hendryx: Mutatis Mutandis (Righteous Babe)
After a lifetime of well-regarded overstatement, her straight protest album embraces r&b subtleties no one who starts with "Strange Fruit" will believe are there ("When Love Goes to War," "Strange Fruit") ***
Firewater: International Orange! (Bloodshot)
Cop Shoot Cop's Tod A enlists Balkan Beat Box's Tamir Muskat to bring his sardonic invective, and I quote, "up from the underground" ("Dead Man's Boots," "The Monkey Song") **
Steve Earle & the Dukes (& Duchesses): The Low Highway (New West)
Still mad, which is what he's best at, but feeling his sobriety too, and good for him ("Burnin' It Down," "Calico County," "Remember Me") **
Kobo Town: Jumbie in the Jukebox (Cumbancha)
Pan-West Indian Toronto calypsonian thinks always, reproves often, wines never ("Kaiso Newscast," "Joe the Paranoiac") **
Roger Knox and the Pine Valley Cosmonauts: Stranger in My Land (Bloodshot)
Jon Langford and friends record Aboriginal "Black Elvis" in Australia and back him mostly in Oakland, cherry-picking conscious country songs bogged down in more protest-music mawk than anyone admits ("Took the Children Away," "Steets of Tamworth") *
121212: The Concert for Sandy Relief (Columbia)
Featured artists in order of performance quality: Springsteen, Sandler-Shaffer, McCartney, Keys, Joel, Bon Jovi, Rolling Stones, Waters, Clapton, Martin, Who (Adam Sandler and Paul Shaffer, "Hallelujah [Sandy Relief Version]"; Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, "Land of Hope and Dreams"; Paul McCartney, "Helter Skelter"; Bon Jovi, "It's My Life") *
Frank Turner: England Keep My Bones (Xtra Mile/Epitaph)
For once the campfire punkrocker nails the Billy Bragg album his excitable fans always said he had in him ("Glory Hallelujah," "I Am Disappeared") *
Given the amount of downloading I’ve been doing over the past week (OK, three years), feel bad for not contributing. Unfortunately (at least in this instance), I split time between Nashville and Chicago with the bulk of my collection in the former and the relevant hardware in the latter. Might be able to scrape something together in the next day-or-two, but for now, how ‘bout a link: J Hoberman on Jonathan Lethem from the LA Times, http://goo.gl/KqL1ch.
Don’t recall our host saying much about his former Voice colleague, but for my money, pre-New Times, he headed a pretty great film section. His website, J-Hoberman[dot]com, is fairly rudimentary, but it gets the job done. Has a regular blog at Artinfo and freelances around a lot. FWIW…
Queer boys with twangs, "Secret Places" awaits your appropriation.
Sheesh, don't know what else to share here. Anyone want Laurie Styvers: Spilt Milk?
Can’t let this thread go by without chiming in, so: Thanks Robert Christgau, and everyone, for the serious fun these last three years. Saying goodbye is the shts. If it’s hello to something else, and I certainly hope so, expect me to do my part to make it happen.
In this time of gifts, I’ve got a few OOP treats for y’all -- next thread, assuming there is one.
The fact that EW is closing just sunk in for me over the weekend. I think I've been in shock since the news. I'm still hopeful that somehow, someway, somewhere it'll continue on in the same format (i.e. one that allows comments). If all three years' worth of comments can be saved, that would be fantastic. I can't recall exactly when "replies" started, but that was fairly recent, wasn't it? Will the replies be saved also? How about the thumbs? Can they be saved, and if so, should they be?
I knew I'd finally come out of shock Saturday night when....well, here's the audio:
Woman's voice: "Baby, wake up!"
Man's voice screaming
Woman's voice:"You're having a nightmare."
Man's voice:"Oh God, it was horrible."
Woman's voice:"What happened, sweetheart? What did you dream?"
Man's voice:"Oh my God. Remember the music club I told you about. I dreamt they closed it."
Woman's voice:"They did. You told me they did."
Man's voice:"OH MY GOD. NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"
uncontrollable weeping, sounds of consolation.
The light is soft and the air is still for the last time in Expert Witness (and indeed it is one of those sweet-sky days in NE where you think "can't you stay like this until March, and not get colder and darker, darker and colder?"). So a final recording plug, this one maybe unexpected only coming from me.
Béla Bartók's *The 6 String Quartets* captures me every time I play them and won't let go for two-and-a-half hours. Run through the complete set at least every other year. And play both the versions I own.
Bartók first fascinated me because he belonged to no school or movement and seemed to truly cut his own way forward, unlike even independents like Picasso and Stravinsky, who often put their stamp on movements rather than ignore them altogether. But certainly a secondary attraction to the Hungarian was his Magyar madness -- the folk tunes recorded in Transylvania on donkeyback and then splintered into hundreds of rude and beauteous shards in his works.
His restless combinations of sensibilities seal the deal. I feel I can follow an evolving thread through the String Quartets, as Bartók slides from almost-balmy romanticism in the First Quartet (1908) (winding tighter at the conclusion), through the more poison-gassed and bloodied meditation on Debussy in the Second Quartet (1915-17), on to the rising intellectual modernism and frenzied chips of folk in the Third and Fourth Quartets (1927-28 -- the 3rd is a particular favorite). In the Fifth (1934) and Sixth (1939) Quartets, Bartók can do anything, but they are sad works -- Europe is coming to an end, his mother dies, he seems to have premonitions how difficult it will be to compose abroad in America. But the 5th is a wondrous strange thing -- smoke wending through a pitch-black night -- and the piece I would play if had to pick one.
I can't pretend my CD renditions are the best -- they're the only two I know. Turns out that the treatment by Takacs Quartet (London, 1998) is one of the most frequently and highly recommended. But I will not slight the rendition by the Lindsay String Quartet (ASV, 1988), which I've owned and loved longer. It wasn't an arbitrary selection -- somebody I trust recommended it (tempted to say Lloyd Schwartz, but can't really remember). Very roughly, I would say the Takacs feel the folk elements more vividly and hit the modernism more precisely; Lindsay bring out the romanticism smartly and reach deeper into the balm behind the sorrow of the later pieces.
Anyway, all six keep sounding more essential to me. A feast that can never be finished.
about the blogger
Starting in 1967, Robert Christgau has covered popular music for The Village Voice, Esquire, Blender, Playboy, Rolling Stone, and many other publications. He teaches in New York University's Clive Davis Department of Recorded Music, maintains a comprehensive website at robertchristgau.com, and has published five books based on his journalism. He has written for MSN Music since 2006.
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