Friday, October 29, 2004

So what you are saying kyle, is that a live album is an oxymoron and cannot, in reality, exists? ...either it's a recording or it's live?

I must say, tangentially, that i am frequently blown away by the sound quality of a live broadcast of someone playing in a radio studio, even if its some guy with a guitar in the basement at Rhy high, it sounds so different, full and alive that it makes you think about all the music (sound) which is being lost for the convenience of the digital medium.
How considerate of John Peel to die when we were having a discussion about what constitutes live music. I've always found the Peel Sessions to be very hit and miss. Anyone have any favourites?
Also, I don't know if anyone had heard that John Peel passed away this week. There is a nice piece about him in Slate today. You can also drive yourself insane as I have at this site, by checking the daily US electoral map to see how things might shake out in all the swing states. Go Kerry Go!!!
Time to chime in...where to start?

First, I'd like to say that it's unfair that Stuart has been much maligned for his lax syntactic standards when he really should be dirided for championing a 'best' version of 'The Night they Drove Ole' Dixie Down'. All props to The Band and their fans aside, a live version of this track does not excite me. I'm really not a big fan of folsky songs that tell me a story or recount some tragedy. Also, the inclusion of the word 'ole' in the title gets my back's just too hokey.

Second, when pondering Derek's (great, btw) topic, I couldn't come up with one live album that I really liked but was able to think of a lot of crappy live albums. I think this is because it's impossible to replicate the experience of a live show.

To me, Wilco did a far better representation of the tracks on their recent album in concert than they did in the studio, though why they chose to close the encore with the excessively shitty 'Late Greats' is a bit of a mystery. And the Tortoise show earlier this year really kicked ass, sounding even better than their recent albums. But would recorded versions of those shows be just as exciting when I listened to them at home? Probably not. Context is all.

I agree, Marc, that ‘Rattle and Hum’ probably captures what it’s like to be on tour. The problem with that record, for me, is that I don’t care. You got to play with B.B. King? Great. Do I want to hear you jam together? Not really. It seemed a little self-indulgent but I know quite a few people who disagree with me and think it's an awesome record.

Okay, what's more superfluous than a live album? How about a double live album? Or, topping that, a different live album for every show in one year’s tour, something that Pearl Jam foisted on its beloved fan base a few years ago? Can you imagine the type of freak who compares different renditions of ‘Better Man’? “Yeah, the Oakland Coliseum version was good but Eddie’s vocals at Madison Square seem a little tighter. Now the Staples Center show was a joke but the ‘Even Flow’ encore really…”. I picture myself trapped in line somewhere, without my walkman, and overhearing just such a conversation.

Finally, to answer Marc's question: I think it's live if you're witnessing, in real time, the creation of music through any means, music which can never be exactly replicated. It's an awkward and I'm sure wholly inadequate definiation but it's Friday morning and I'm pressed for time. Perhaps a better definition will come to me and I'll correct myself.

I've added a couple of new links to sites that I think are interesting, one of which is a link to the online version of eye weekly's anti-hit list. The other is a link to a Seattle Radio Station, KEXP, that I discoverd there on my last trip there. Enjoy.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

All kidding aside, I think this opens up a rather interesting philosophical discussion. What is it that defines music as being live?

Is music live because it is recorded with all musicians playing simultaneously? Does the final product have to be generated from a single take, session or performance? If there is no audience is the music still live? If an orchestra sits down in a concert hall with sound baffles in the place of the audience, are they still performing a live recording on their 5th take? How much knob twiddling, dubbing, over dubbing, splicing, and dicing can an engineer do before a recording is no longer live?

…and what I really want to know is what does it mean when a dj is going to perform a “live set”

oh! and is it possible to make a live recording of someone lip syncing?
weL i Thotgh aLL jaz recors wer Live recors, an anutter ting kut w all ths spelling Krap

Wednesday, October 27, 2004


ooops! if you're gonna try to be funny, at least learn to spell good! or as Tom Lehrer sang "don't write naughty words on walls if you can't spell"

midi hell! go to

just so the typo nazi don't get me...i was trying to say
"What about live jazz? Are there any good live jazz recordings? (lol)

Finally picked up Ellington's Live @ Newport 65, smokin' tunage, but man is there a lot of chatter and introduction on the CD...think it's time to burn an edited copy!

I returned last night from NYC, after a 36 hour whirl wind business trip, and I have to say that for the city that claims to never sleep it’s damn hard to find something to do on a Monday night!

I was going to check out Brian Jonestown Massacre at the Mercury Lounge but it was apparently sold out so I dropped by the Knitting factory around 11:00 to see a gig called “Kerry Rising” which was a political Springsteen covers night…thought it might be interesting…but it was over by the time I got there. By this time my tootsies are sore from having walked from the top of midtown through Soho, Greenwhich etc. down to the immense hole in the ground that once used to be the site of the WTC and back up to the Knitting factory, so I hop in a cab up to Iridium on Broadway @ 51st to catch Les Paul in action. Oooops, strike three, by the time I get there at 11:30, everyone is already pouring out of the club….time to quit and watch some late night tv!

“The city that never sleeps”….guess I just don’t know where to go!

Great live albums:

U2’s Rattle and Hum…not a live album in it’s entirety but more a chronicle of an American tour that includes a mix of new and previously released material …does not quite live up to “J tree”, but not much could. I think it works very well as a diary of a band in the middle of their career and includes some smoking work by Edge on Silver and Gold. A great portrait of the American West.

Springsteen’s triple box set of live recordings from though out his career is very well put together for a live album but is bound for glory considering his charismatic and energetic stage performances. Do we need it on top of all his great studio work? No; but it adds another level to the music as our memories of concerts with “hot chicks in tight cut-offs and tee’s” fade into the past.

What about live jazz? Are the any good live jazz recordings? (lol)


Tuesday, October 26, 2004

"Freedom" is an unbelievably soulful number, plus Country Joe and the Fish puts a lump in my throat. The sixties were, as it turns out, pretty cool.

Don't like to be a spelling Nazi (it's a blog after all), but it's Neil "Young", Stu. How Toronto-is-the-centre-of-the-universe is that? And Rust Never Sleeps / Live Rust is a classic exception to the rule.

Maybe it comes down to planning and creating something as a live recording (as per Neil's Rust Never Sleeps, where the songs were never recorded in the studio) versus the cheap cop out of "here's what our hits sound like live....."
I cant resist a list.....
Well I agree with byou guys that the era was the 60's-70s and I generraly hate them all, but there are a few exceptions: 1) Neil Yonge (yes he counts) Live Rust (camping w the drunks at Mosport Raceway as a teenager when this came out...virginal Neil Experience)
2) Woodstock (Who can resist Richie Havens,,, FREEDOM.....)
3) The Band- Last Waltz (Best version of "The night they drove ol dixie down")
4) Johhny Cash - Live at Fulsom Prison ( as good as the hype)
5) CSNY - 4 way street (I think one of the most under rated albums of all time period. Collects the best stuff from relatively crappy solo carriers from 3 of them (CSN) and also includes a few beautiful takes of neil yonge solo gems The acoustic version of cowgirl in the sand is worth the price alone)

OK Im done
Live albums, eh? Good one.

They seem to me to be an anachronism at this point; almost every major act of the seventies /early eighties released one, and some of these appaling records were even their most popular - the obvious one being Peter Frampton, who never had a hit "non-live" (how about that for a genre) album; but also Fleetwood Mac, Bob Seeger, Dire Straits, the Kinks, The Stones, Led Zeppelin, Steve Miller Band, the Eagles..... yuck, that's some awful fucking music. Mind you, there is the occassional gem - like Sprinsgteen's "Rosalita" which blows away the studio version, and much of the stuff on "Live at Leeds"...."Shaking All Over" for one.

The record companies used to get away with issuing one of these as a third or fourth album to give a band a little more time to write some material...often signalling the beginning of the end. Too much blow and mindless sex I imagine. Ah, the seventies.

Anyway, hopefully these pathetic attempts to capture the live experience are behind us now; though I did note while surfing All Music yesterday that Rainer Maria's latest release is a live album. If Emo Rock goes live....look out. We were damn lucky that the Grungers spared us - can you imagine the Soungarden live at the Hollywood Bowl record?

Monday, October 25, 2004

Just sitting here quietly going about my business, listening to Britten's violin concerto, when I decided to check out the blog and here I see I'm now being coerced in to blogging. Don't actually have a hell of a lot to say but I suppose the purpose of the blog is to put down any old crap and say it like you really mean it.

Few dead seconds there as I struggled to come up with a semi-plausible discussion topic. And here it is. Live albums!!!

I bring it up as Neko Case's new live disc (recorded at Lee's Palace) comes out in a few weeks. What I'd like some of you chappies to do is fill me in on why we need the damn things. Perhaps what I'm hoping you'll do is let me know of any "live" records that I should have in my collection because of approx 2500 records I can't think of more than 2 or 3 that would qualify and they sure haven't seen a spin on the old deck in many a moon. Does Neil Young count?

Doesn't the entire bootleg scene survive on people passing along live recordings? I understand (well not really) the need for the obsessive collector to obtain every possible song the band has ever performed. Just gotta have that recording of Luna doing Soundgarden's "Jesus Christ Pose".

Personally as soon as I hear the words "live album" I run the other way. Alright my violin concerto is over so I have to go and cue up some more music in Winamp.

Would somebody BLOG, for Christ's Sake!

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Luna breaks up! Sad but not entirely unexpected.
More info here at their website. They're playing here in a few weeks but I've seen them 3 times already and I'm more content to listen to them on disc than I am to pack myself into a crowded Lee's Palace to witness the swan song.

Monday, October 18, 2004


I luv William Shatner.

Lucy...... the sky...........

....with diamonds.

Pauses so pregnant they have babies by the end or the verse!

I caught a snippet of the his new album on d.n.t.o. (cbc 1) and they described it as being the height of self parity. Now if that is not a concept that could only exist in a post modern world, i don't know what is!

This one from Pitchfork's review of the latest (?!) William Shatner album caught my eye:

"While this humble music publication is hardly the platform to debate the merits and impact of irony in modern art, I will say that I'm glad that Shatner decided to make this music now. It's so confusing, enthralling, sincere, profound, and trite that it's nothing short of a mirror to society's own incongruities. Which, really, is quite an achievement."

Of course it is.

Friday, October 15, 2004

I don't really want to pick up the Brian Wilson thread all over again but Kyle asked for it so here it is. This from the Village Voice in its review of the "Smile" album:

"Whatever it was supposed to achieve originally, right now SMiLE sounds like a beautifully modulated, funny, sometimes unintentional meditation on a failed United States and counterculture, and the lost paradise, real or imagined, of Southern California, and the collapse and reinvention of the male ego."

I kid you not.

Nothing wrong with a little bit of romantic la di da every now and then, in my opinion. Stu, you have my ticket order.

Thought I'd end the week with what is probably the most ridiculous passage from a music review I've come across in a long time. This comes courtesy of the prats at who opine, "where Interpol were once synonymous with emotive desolation, they here opt for an atmosphere of poignant resignation." Don't you just hate when bands do that?

Perhaps we should come up with the 'most ridiculous review I've read this week' item for the blog. Anyone think they can top this?

Thanks Stu - I guess I'll pass on the $12 DH opera tix. The ones I'm most interested in are Siegfried (which I'll pay full price for) and Al "The Fish" Herring, which you can't help me with. All the other stuff is just overly romantic la di da (pardon my Italian).
Re operas,
I mentioned to some of you about $12.00 opera tickets for the full dress rehersals. I think I have access to all remaining operas except the Brittan one. Those who have not responded, please do so as I wont have time to contact you prior to getting the tickets. Just let me know what ones you are interested in. If you dont respond Ill assume your not interested.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

whoops its that damn spelling again,...Honegger not Honniger, honeyger.....
Thanks for the links to the Honniger Derek , the naxos website is great. Ill have to check other labels (classical) to see if this is the norm. The Honniger sounds pretty cool (lame adjective I know) . Good selection I think. Count me in , when is that cd club Marc?
Marc - welcome!

You guys haven't made me feel like I missed a hell of a lot at the Wilco show.

Re classical listening experiment, Derek, savvy negotiator that he is, appears to be playing the "silence" card as a means of ensuring his suggestion is selected. A clever and reliable tactic (used by women through the ages) which I will cave on. Let's go with the Honegger - his third symphony (subtitled "Liturgical"). Re versions, in addition to the two Derek cited, I own an excellent Von Karajan version on Deutsche Grammophone which contains Symphonies II and III plus a Stravinsky Concerto.

Hey Marc...when's that meeting?

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

No Kyle, it was not Levon Holmes, but rather Levon matter, i was wrong. I thought it was the renowned keyboardist for The Band who was accompanying Wilco in the second encore...well i was right on that account, but wrong about who the keyboardist for the band actually was...Garth Hudson. So i think i deserve 1/2 a point for recognizing the distinctive sound of The Band's keyboardist but loose at least 1 full point for not knowing that Levon Helm was actually the drummer of The Band.

Enjoyed Wilco very much, but after the show i could not help think back to a conversation that came up earlier in the evening concerning the price of opera tickets and i came to a conclusion that it was not that bad a deal when you compare it to the cost of a Wilco show.

Let's an opera we get a full orchestra, maybe a couple dozen singers/actors who continually learn new works, a couple of really good singers (the superstars), a bunch of set decorators, designers choreographers, a printed program with lyrics etc. etc. etc. a Wilco show we get a bunch of guys basically regurgitating songs from a couple of their last albums, who are to lazy to show up for a sound check! That for almost $50 bucks...damn right i'm going to stick around and squeeze them for every encore their good for! Definitely think they should have stopped at two. I think they employed a very clever tactic in playing one of the very worst songs every written as their last song in the third encore..."you won't hear this song on the radio"...(taken from the end of their last album) shit you won't, 'cause it's crap! Absolute crap!...there was no chance in hell of the crowd calling for yet another encore after that.

...but really, i enjoyed the show!

As for expanding my horizons and challenging myself to think critically about some hard to wrap my head around music..i'm all for it. If it is deemed worth listening to (not necessarily liking) i will gladly go out and buy it do my homework.


I'm glad to be back in the office, where the internet connection is fast and stable, and where I can actually sit down and gather my thoughts for a few minutes.

I'm also glad that the 'Smile' experiment was kiboshed. As much as I like ‘Good Vibrations’, ‘God Only Knows’ and ‘When I grow up to be a man’, I’m not what you’d call a big Beach Boys fan. Some 40 years later, I can’t imagine the songs stand up very well. Plus I've purchased a few interesting discs from bands who are neither Wilco or Radiohead which i'm interested in sharing with the group. The date of that meeting is......?

I really enjoyed the Wilco show and thought their set was very tight. Jeff Tweedy also seemed to be in a pretty upbeat mood and a few early feedback issues aside, they sounded great. I liked his witty rejoinder to the fan who enigmatically shouted ‘St. Louis Cardinals’: ‘Um, thanks. That was very…cryptic’. While some of the distortion bits were a little long for my liking, I was impressed with the way they would rein in the chaotic noise and churn out a straight on pop song.

Marc, not sure if the guy on keyboards/guitar was Levon Holmes as I’m not sure I know who Levon Holmes is. I do know that it wasn’t Livan Hernandez, who was pitched for the New York Yankees the previous night.

Agree with you Derek about the ovation thing. It was good but did I really feel like leaping to my feet and cheering? Not really and so I didn’t, until the end of the regular set, when I needed to stretch my legs (Massey Hall—great acoustics, not so great when it comes to comfortable seating). I also find the whole ‘clap for an encore’ part of the show so incredibly tedious and inauthetic. What, if I don’t cheer, they’re not going to come out again? Unless I clap solidly for ten minutes, they’re heading back to the tour bus? Or is it like a performance of Peter Pan, where I have to clap to save Tinkerbell’s life? Did my lacklustre applause on Saturday night unknowingly put the band in mortal danger? No. They're going to come out anyway and we all know it so enough with the song and dance and bring on the, um, song and dance as it were.

And tell me, because I don’t understand, why do fans feel the need to shout affirmations during any pause in the vocal performance? Its as if the absence of a ‘whoooooo’ during the bridge were a slap in the face to the band.

Since the encores weren’t particularly impressive in terms of song selection and Sarah and I were meeting up with friends later for a birthday-drinks event, we decided to jet midway through the second encore. Just how many encores were there?

Anyhoo, I when I was in Seattle last week I discovered a radio station that I really liked and they have a pretty neat website so check it out here.

Way out of my depth on the classical music suggestions but am more than willing to dive in and purchase the disc that you think will be interesting. ‘Atonal’ is not a big selling point for me but I’m willing to keep an open-mind.

Tell me what to buy. And tell me when to show up to Marc's place. And then put me in a taxi home. And shouldn't we consider adding a bottle of scotch to the mix?
I'm fine with the Honegger, Derek. I actually own it but haven't spend too much time on it as of yet (plus I'm going through a Poulenc stage) so that works great for me. The Holliger looks interesting but I'm a little worried that the non-20th C classical fans in the group might find it a little screechy and strange. Honneger had a reasonably melodic idiom, though it ain't Mozart.

I had narrowed mine down to two suggestions, so may as well throw them out to see if either sounds good to y'all. I was thinking of:

(1) Szymanowski's 2nd symphony - from 1910 or so, an interesting mix of modern and romantic style, very dramatic and listenable. Many recordings available, including a Naxos cheapy. I own it but am just begininng to listen to it.

(2) Zemlinsky's Lyric Symphony - From the early 20's - 7 songs without a break, featuring some beautiful orchestral/choral work, again in a transitional modern/romantic idiom.

I also though of Sibelius' 5th, which is generally considered his most important.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Wow, them's fighting words Stuart.

May I be the first to make a suggestion seeing as how I nixed the Brian Wilson experiment.

Two suggestions with respect to 20th century composers. Try and keep them straight as the names are fairly smilar.

The first is Arthur Honegger, a member of the French group of composers known as "Les Six".

Check out the following links:

On the Naxos link click on the first link on the page and then on to the link labelled "about this recording".

I would suggest listening to his 3rd Symphony available as you can see on Naxos or a more inviting double EMI CD for $18.99 which contains all 5 of his symphonies plus his most famous piece "Pacific 231". I have listened to this work and his first symphony but none of the rest of his work.

The other individual, who has only just come to my attention from various recent reviews, is the contemporary composer Heinz Holliger. The violinist Thomas Zehetmair has a new CD out on ECM of his violin concerto which you can check out here:

This disc is also available for $18.99 and not hard to track down.

Do we have a date for this thing yet?
ok , and Ill defer to you Brian as you already own all the atonal experimental dreck out there anyway.....
Sure you are Stu, sometimes. Re 20th C, I was thinking of something that we (me, you, Dahruk, Marc, anyone else who listens to classical) don't already know, or don't know well, just to make it equally novel for all.

Research pending.
apologies, apologies apologies, Derek, I do, in fact, know how to spell your name, I thought I had finished with this last year, but my drink addled brain seems to have had a relapse .
Im with Brian- and a 2oth c classic that is important in terms not just about music but art in general would be "The Rite of Spring" by Stravinsky - . Im open to other suggestions too,
(Damn im a likable guy sometimes)

Darik....It's officially off? What the hell? Why?? Well there's $13 I'll never get back.

OK, I didn't buy it, but still. I think it's a good choice, 'cause critics loved it and we likely won't, so we can listen to it and try to understand their reference points etc. I think the key will be to find something that we won't all naturally love, but that is being hailed as "important". No Wilco or Radiohead allowed.

I'll suggest a 20th C classical for a similar (more challenging?) exercise if everyone's into it.
Hey first off, the name is Derek. How many different ways can you guys find to spell it?

Secondly Wilco was a good, solid rock show. Nothing more, nothing less. They played pretty much all the songs one would want to hear them play and while they certainly were not played in a perfunctory manner neither were they captivating in a way that would make you think that the live show was giving you so much more than you could get from listening at home to the CDs.

I found myself at several times during the show thinking, how would Radiohead compare? The reason for the comparison being that Wilco and Radiohead are probably the only two bands of their stature that, up until Saturday night, I had never seen live. Purely conjecture on my part but I think Radiohead at Massey would be a much better "show". Judging by the rapturous applause and numerous (how many Stuart?) encores the Toronto crowd obviously thought otherwise.

Which brings me to another point. What the hell is going on with Toronto audiences. Is every single performance these days ovation-worthy? Its getting to the stage where I'm sitting down just to make a point. It's enough to make you cringe.

Note to Bloggers: the Brian Wilson experiment is officially off as unofficially agreed on Saturday night. Still like the idea, just want no part of "Smile". Any other suggestions?
Well Wilco....
I thought the main show was pretty great, the lead song off the new disc had an even better lead solo then on the disc, and generally I thought he pulled all the best songs from the last couple of records. If not the greatest experience of my life, I still thought it worth the investment. The encores, on the other hand (Garth Hudsons help notwithstanding) I thought to be not great selections , except for a few cuts of mermaid ave. Derrick and Kyle & Sarah ... as you lot left early, I take it , you didnt like it as much. Im curious to hear your comments.
CD club, I am avail whenever, What is your final date Marc, are you shifting it again?

Monday, October 04, 2004

Yeah, frankly, and despite the critical hoopla, the idea of re-recording Smile 37 years after its non-release seems to me to be somewhere between ill advised and idiotic. I've heard a bunch of the outtakes over the years and they were reasonably cool, but i's sure as hell not 1967 anymore, so I'll need to be convinced as to the relevance of its ideas, sounds, and innovations. Keeping an open mind though (?!).

I, like the rest of you, don't see Pet Sounds as one of the great all time records...way too many banal (or puerile) and middle of the road numbers. Three or four great songs mind you - "God Only Knows" probably being my favourite.

Having said that, this is the sort of navel-gazing, mentally masturbatory exercise that I find quite fun, so I will of course shell out the $13 and participate.

And Stu, to counter your little prod, I think doing the same thing for a classical CD would be a great idea.

When's that CD Club again?
Sorry , I was looking for the metabeats blog site not the new hockey news & views blog. You know.... beats... as in music.....ah.....yes....
well Mr Mercer, I will spend my $13.00 if all agree, however I was not a great fan of Beach Boys -pet sounds , which receives even more superfluous rapturous applause, so Im not likely to like my investment, but hey it sure beats being forced to buy something like...say.... Mahlers 1st....Sorry Brian, couldnt resist.
You lovers of magnetic fields should check out a new disc ,which I have heards bits of, called "when I said I wanted to be your dog" by Jens Lekman. It sounded pretty terrific in the -humouous lyrics meets killer melody - sort of way.