Music Review

ANNIVERSARIES: Neil Young's After the Gold Rush Released 40 Years Ago

after-the-goldrushNeil Young: After the Gold Rush (Reprise) After the breakup of the Buffalo Springfield, Neil Young went in several different directions. In 1969 he released two LPs extremely contrasted character: his quirky, largely subdued, sometimes heavily arranged eponymous debut, and Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere, a louder and more generally rocking effort thanks to the introduction of his backing band Crazy Horse. Then he raised his profile as a member of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, whose Deja Vu topped the album chart. When he combined all three directions on the August 31, 1970 release After the Gold Rush, he achieved his commercial breakthrough as a solo artist.

Matthew Shipp solo at the Blue Note, NYC

matthew-shipp-livethe pacifier - matthew shipp solo at the blue note set 1 & 2 - 8/23/10 (for O.P.) monologue with self am steel yama in trin sic as what for (f)ever zig zag rimrom pozzzilum rorrim the where is something & the where is something not revolving as in barrel as in light of solidilos /oh & the flame really does dance to the music & the music truly does obey the flame combined with piano’s intrigues are enough to pacify like a young boy's thumb

Walter Gibbons Jungle Music

Walter_GibbonsWalter Gibbons Jungle Music: Mixed with Love: Essential & Unreleased Remixes 1976-1986 (Strut) This is an album of disco remixes, which is automatically going to be a fun listen. But in this case, the remixer was not solely concerned with dancefloor utility: Gibbons's remixes are transformative in unexpected ways, and if I were dancing to them, frankly I'd get distracted by their quirks, which are even rhythmically unusual at times. He makes odd aspects stand out starkly, even strangely.

There Goes My Everything - Elvis & Gladys, RIP

elvis_gladys_presleyIn 1934, Vernon Presley, age 18, recalled blacking out at the instant of his son’s conception; then, regaining consciousness, he had seen the night sky thronged with brilliant blue stars. Elvis Aron’s twin brother, Jesse Garon, was stillborn. The future King’s God-fearing mother, Gladys -- who herself almost died in the delivery -- believed he had inherited Jesse’s soul, and was "the One."

Years later, Gladys would suffer a miscarriage, making her all the more protective of her only surviving child.

"My mama never let me out of her sight," said Elvis.

Vernon told biographer, Peter Guralnick (Last Train to Memphis): "He never spent a night away from home until he was seventeen. The three of us formed our own private world."

Jerry Garcia: In Memoriam 8/1/42 - 8/9/95

jerry-garciaThe head of California's thirty-ninth largest corporation was in full diabetic shock. His blood sugar was the second highest the doctors at Marin General had ever seen. His kidneys had shut down. He was running a 105-degree fever from a systemic infection. He was in a coma.

Outside the ICU, the corridor was packed with family, friends, managers, reporters. And the Hell's Angels. Only the patient's wife was permitted inside.

Best Albums of 2010 So Far

Kings_Go_ForthThe best rock, rap, electronica, and R&B albums of the first half of the year. Yeah, it's not fair that I'm not including jazz or classical or avant-garde (unless you count Autechre), but the point here is to overview the less esoteric releases I've enjoyed. While it's so hot out, this breezier listening is welcome. I'm working on some round-ups of the missing genres.

1. Kings Go Forth: The Outsiders Are Back (Luaka Bop) '70s-style funk with a Curtis Mayfield sound-alike singing. That makes them sound less original than they are, actually.

ANNIVERSARIES: Traffic's John Barleycorn Must Die Released 40 Years Ago


Traffic: John Barleycorn Must Die (Island)

This album started out, in the wake of Traffic's breakup in early 1969 and the brief existence of Blind Faith, as a Steve Winwood solo album. Really solo: Winwood, besides being a fine songwriter and possessing the most soulful vocal style of any Englishman in that era, was also more than capable of handling all the instrumental chores himself -- keyboards, guitar, bass guitar or organ pedals, and even drums.

But after laying down a few songs, he found that the sound he imagined required the contributions of fellow Traffic members Chris Wood (flute, saxophones, organ, percussion) and Jim Capaldi (drums, vocals).

R.I.P. Sir Charles Mackerras 11/17/1925 - 7/14/2010

Charles_MackerrasSir Charles Mackerras was one of the most respected conductors of the past half-century, hailed for his expertise in Czech music (especially the operas of Janáček), his long Gilbert & Sullivan experience, and his historically informed recordings of Handel, Mozart, Schubert, and Brahms. In 2000 I had the pleasure of interviewing him for the defunct CDNOW about his then-new recording of Die Entführung aus dem Serail (The Abduction from the Seraglio), done in connection with the film Mozart in Turkey and part of his series of Mozart's operas for the Telarc label. He was quite cheerful and down-to-earth, and quite the opposite of the stereotypical egotistical conductor. Here is that 2000 interview, somewhat longer than originally published. Outdated, yes, but his answers convey the flavor of his personality and interests and commitment.

The Hurt of Darkness

kloot-skyI Am Kloot: Sky at Night (Shepherd Moon) There is a curious symmetry to the latest offering from I Am Kloot. The band's debut Natural Historywas produced by Elbow's Guy Garvey. Since then, the group has released three further studio albums, plus two compilations, one of rarities, the other a collection of John Peel Sessions. Consistently excellent live, Kloot has gone from strength to strength, constantly gigging, forging a status of considerable fan loyalty, popular in Europe and occasionally denting the lower reaches of the British charts, but seemingly destined to be one of the best-kept secrets many would never get to hear, a coterie of class, integrity at the expense of class.

ANNIVERSARIES: Gustav Mahler Born 150 Years Ago

Gustav_MahlerGustav Mahler (July 7, 1860 – May 18, 1911) transformed the symphony. One could say that he made it modern. He insisted to fellow symphonic master Jean Sibelius, "A symphony must be like the world. It must embrace everything." One of the effects of that belief was that Mahler wrote music embodying his neuroses more than any previous symphonic composer, but his view of the symphony was expansive not only in meaning but in sound and form. His Third is in the vicinity of 97-98 minutes, with six movements rather than the normal four. The Sixth's instrumentation uses four flutes and piccolo (with two flutes also doubling on piccolo), four oboes (two doubling on English horn), three clarinets including bass clarinet, four bassoons, contrabassoon, eight horns, six trumpets, three tenor trombones, bass trombone, bass tuba, timpani, bass drum, snare drum, cymbals, triangle, rattle, tam-tam, glockenspiel, cowbells, low-pitched bells, birch brush, hammer, xylophone, two harps, celesta, and strings. And that's not even one of his biggest symphonies.