Thursday, November 30, 2006

Yeah I bought This is Anita last year second hand for $10. Got lucky on that one I guess. I tend not to mention it only because it was the last of many orchestral recordings of her that I own and so I haven't spent as much time with it yet. And I still think the Peterson disk tops all of them (wait, did I say that already?). I will track down Cool Heat, Stu, thanks for the tip.
I have to echo Brians sentiments about Anita Oday.....One of my faves as well, though I might give Billy and sarah the nod over her.....I have generally the same Oday records Brian has, but I also have 2 others (mid fiftys) which are my favorites....The essential ( Brian you may want to get this too) is This is Anita with the heartrenching take of wHEN A nightingale sang in Berkely square (one of my fave songs ), amongst other great performances..the other disc is Cool heat , which is also perfect straight through , mixing well known (mack the knife) with great lesser known (to me) songs...These 2 discs would be my recommended starting point. but you will have to pay, I think they are only available as japenese imports....Sorry to here shes gone....It may make more sence for me to digitise this vynle for all of you, I just have to get my tecnology together....

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Hey Kyle I wouldn't bother with any of the Anita O'Day offerings on the e-music site. As with a lot of jazz available on their site it isn't really up to snuff with the best of her material. You might want to check out the new Max Richter CD (Stuart can give you some words of wisdom on his earlier release) or the Toronto based band Woolly Leaves which I've read some good things about.
Very much appreciated input, bri. I put "Odessey and Oracle" on my christmas list so I'm hoping that Santa comes through. Any of the Anita O'Day offerings at emusic seem interesting? None stood out for me, but I'm again away from home and my Penguin and Rough Jazz Guides don't travel well so perhaps I'm missing the opportunity to snatch up a few gems with my remaining dowloads for the month. I may just have to go to one of those places where you can buy music on these shiny discs in plastic wrapping.

Two links, to get you through your day:

The first, is a article about Pitchfork, which attempts to explain why music lovers hate but read the site (short version: we like confrontation).

The second, is a clip from the Ricky Gervais show "Extras", which features David Bowie hilariously demonstrating his song-writing process, at the expense of poor Ricky. First embedding attempt...

Monday, November 27, 2006

So I stopped checking for blogs after a few weeks, since the BD blog-compulsion had become almost masturbatory....what with Kylie travelling, Derek daddying, Marc remaining strong/silent, and Stuart sticking to his strength as a blog-counterpuncher, well, I was tired of blogging with myself. But anyhoo, glad to see some life in the old girl yet (am I mixing metaphors?).

And Derek - since reading your blog, I've been racking my brains trying to remember when you and I saw Anita O'Day sing in the past six months :) (and it hasn't come to are you sure she's dead?)

I will chime in on the raging Joanne Newsome debate with a strong "no thanks", based on the few samples I've done, and let one of you (Stuart, it sounds like) convince me of the error of my ways.

And today I get to blog on Anita and The Zombies. fun fun fun.....

Anita O'Day is my favourite jazz singer - her voice the perfect mix of scratchy world weariness ala Billie Holiday, tongue-in-cheek-we-all-know-this-is-just-a-song jazz irony, and, yet, heartbreaking, soul-searching sadness. Doesn't have the pipes of say, Sarah Vaughan or Ella, or the come-hither sexiness of Helen Merrill or June Christy....more of a blend of the above, and still unique and utterly unmistakeable. If you haven't spent any time with her music, you've kinda got to (sorry, you have no choice). I have a number of her recordings, mostly from the mid-late fifties. My favourite is her stripped-down session with the Oscar Peterson trio called "Anita Sings the Most". Much of the rest of her ouevre is working with medium to large bands, all of which is good, and some fantastic. Of these, I would go with This is Anita, AOD Sings the Winners, and Pick Yourself Up, all released within a few years of each other.

Re the Zombies, true enough there is really only one album, Odessey and Oracle, in my view one of the top three or four pop records of all time. It's been described as "the Zombies' Pet Sounds", but I think it makes mince meat out of Pet Sounds. The quality and variety of song, and the beauty of their performance are extraordinary throughout. The Zombies were an anomaly - way too sophisticated to be lumped in with the other British Invasion pop bands of the 64/65 timeframe with their strong jazz influences combined with choral harmonies and incredible melodies (not to mention interesting lyrics), but that's where they ended up. The band didn't last long as a result, record companies looking for hits that they couldn't hear, and broke up in '67, just after the release of Odessey and Oracle. The album wasn't released in the States until a year later, and Time of the Season didn't chart until almost two years after their demise. Anyway, buy it, full stop, and then we'll talk some more.

However, by only picking up that record you're missing out on some great songs (incl Tell Her No and She's Not There), which would best be found on one of the numerous singles compilations out there. Those of us who like Belle and Sebastien will hear clear influences in the Z's earlier material, with Colin Blunstone's breathy vocals, simpler arrangements then on O&O, and often that groovy jazz compositional underpinning. These are some of the best songs coming our of Britain in the mid 60's in my opinion, still way underheard and underappreciated. My faves include Smokey Day, Whenever You're Ready, Is this the Dream, If it Don't Work Out, I Love You, You Make Me Feel Good, Imagine the Swan.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

In the spirit of the alternate universe "me" I have listened to the Joanna Newsom disc. There's no need to open it when it's downloaded from e-music. As I adjust to my changed lifestyle I was up at 6am this morning and at the St Lawrence market at 7am. As it was a beautiful still fall morning (pre-fog) and the sun was just breaking over the horizon it seemed like an ideal setting for listening to the precious Ms Newsom. Still even with the perfect ambiance I can't say that it did much for me. I understand where Kyle's coming from with the Fiery Furnaces reference but with their disc there were some vital moments that I knew with repeat listenings would etch themselves into my brain. The Furnaces also managed to change tempo many times within the same song. On Newsom's disc I'm hard pressed to find any variation across it's 50 minute running time.

I might be jumping the gun here but I'm fairly certain it won't grow on me with time. Hate to say it but I think I concur with Perlich on this one.

As an aside the great jazz singer Anita O'Day passed away on Thursday at the age of 87. I know some of her music but the man who can pass along some recommendations is still MIA on the blog. Look forward to hearing which discs one should own.

Friday, November 24, 2006

brian, wakey wakey....i just lobbed one down the middle of the plate....

Thursday, November 23, 2006

I do like her voice....kind of reminds me of Coco Rosie . It's her rambling delivery, accompanied by the off-kilter orchestration that has me a little puzzled, which of course will lead me to play it over and over, which will lead me to...okay I've covered this already. Thanks for feedback, though. I await the Zombie reco from bri....
Kyle, I previewed the disc and I was just saying to Derek that it sounded pretty great to me and her voice was much fuller then her first disc, which I found to be too forced....I have in fact picked it up but in the spirit of Mr Mercer have yet to open it....recall though that I am a folky at heart and it doesnt take much to turn me on in that style...As for Zombies there is only one album, but I should let Herr Doyle give you the 6 paragraph statement of artisitc merit that he will no doubt want to....
Guess we've all settled down for a long winter's nap, eh? Or perhaps we're all busy compiling our respective year end lists but are afraid to reveal your hand before we even get to December? Is that it?

I blame my inactivity on work travel but now that I'm back in the office for a few days, I have no excuse not to post. So, some questions for the esteemed panel:

Has anybody listened to the Joanna Newsom disc? If so, any impressions? I'm at the 'can't believe it's one of the highest rated albums of the year what the hell is this' stage, last experienced, to this extent at least, by the Fiery Furnaces' Blueberry Boat. I'm hoping that the next couple of listens takes me to the, 'kind of dig parts of it but aren't really all that sure as a whole' stage so that I can later progress to the 'simply brilliant, multi-layered work, what sort of philistine doesn't like this' stage?

Has anybody seen the Von Triers' scripted/Vinterberg directed film, Dear Wendy? I watched it a few days ago and, apart from finding it kind of brilliant, if flawed, I loved all the Zombies songs in the soundtrack. So which Zombie albums should I put on my shopping list? I could always pick up a best of/greatest, but I'm thinking that at some point, I'll want the original albums. Problem is, they seem to have released a lot of 45s that may not appear on any original albums and allmusic hasn't shed a lot of light.

Hope I've given you some good ideas to chew on. At the very least, you should all have 'She's Not There' in your heads for the rest of the day.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Well parried Stuart, as I expected. But I still think we tend to exaggerate the value, talent, etc of pop musicians, because their music makes us feel good. And certainly I would be most happy to contribute to a Genius List. Just to provoke controversy, I'm saddened to say that Neil Young would not make my list.

Re experiencing life through pop, Stu, I wasn't excluding other forms of music as avenues to experience. Far from it! (pop/rock/folk/punk comprises about 20% of my listening these days (I am truly getting old)).

And I was serious about the "anyone know any good new punk" question.
a litlle post script that might prove to be the exception...
by sheer coincidence , I heard this great modern choral work on CBC yesterday and loved it...Karl Jenkins - Requium... I just discovered that he was the keyboardist and I think a composer of the pop group soft machine....I will look into it further and get back to you
genius (oxford) ....special mental endowments, exalted intellectual power, instinctive and extraordinary imaginative creative or inventive capacity...

If Bob Dylan or Neil Yonge dont have this , I dont know who does...OK Maybe not the mental endowment parts , but extraordinary instinctive imaginative creative capacity,
no question, especially the instinctive part, which is paramount to pop music and maybe different from the more cerebral classical (sorry formal) music.

I dont mind using the term for pop musicians , but I use it very sparingly ( I can see another top 10 list in the future)...Generally, I also agree with the article , but I dont like the typical backhanding to pop stars that is always associated with this position...for instance the put down on Tommy or the Wall , which are very creative within the genra of pop music..but I guess when sir Paul and the like try these embarassing musical experiments , they do a diss service to pop music in general, which does fine on its own without this bullshit search for musical depth,
that only seems top affect the top most pinacle of pop stars, such as Sting and Paul and thats likely because they cannot live in the real world anymore because of their extremes of sucsess...
Fianally, Brian, try driving up a beautifull snowy road in north ontario listening to Sibelius violin concerto and one could argur that the mirror of life to music applys to all forms, perhaps I'm a litle simplistic with the analogy , but you get my drift (so to speak)
Loathe to admit it, but Sting's latest probably does mirror the life I lead right now. And no, I will not be purchasing it, listening to it, or referring to it in future blogs. Anyone heard any good new punk music?

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Does this mean Brian that you wont be purchasing the latest Sting CD because he really doesn't mirror the life you lead? Or would there be other more prudent reasons for that.

One of the discussion points that came out of this article was the offhand use of the word genius, applied to any artistic endeavour but in this case musical genius. It seems to me that that the label is fairly meaningless if we anoint the likes of Jeff Tweedy, Neil Young, Bob Dylan, Thom Yorke, Paul McCartney etc with the musical genius tag. Put any of the names above into a google search and tack on the word genius and you'll see what I mean. I'd like to believe that genius isn't something that comes along every day as much as I love the music of the aforementioned fivesome.
Gotta say I wholeheartedly agree with the article on many levels. The difference, let's say chasm, between writing a cool pop song, or even an intricate, multi-level pop/rock classic, and composing in a formal musical context (let's avoid the word classical) is so huge as to be pretty much untraversable. It generally goes in only one direction (pop can't do formal), though, and I think the article got this right too, there aren't any notable instances of formally trained composers writing a fantastic little hip hop number, or some such thing.

In my view, pop music, that THING which we obsess over, mirror our lives through, and (to a degree) live each day to re-discover, is the output almost exclusively of musical lightweights. And yes, I would include most of our guitar and drum heroes in there too. That doesn't make the music any less important for me, though, might even make it more relevant.