Thursday, May 31, 2007

Reissue-issue- The legacy of the departed

Last week marked the release of the post-post-posthumous release of Jeff Buckley's "So Real-The Songs of Jeff Buckley". The disco includes selections from Buckley's masterpiece "Grace" and the unfinished (also posthumous) release "Sketches for my Sweetheart The Drunk"....oh and also one (count em) one unreleased track.

I'm a big advocate of the advancement of Jeff Buckley's legacy. Buckley had only one living release & the lion's share of his recognition has come after his death. The problem with a release like "So Real" is that, not only is it nothing new, it takes Buckley's music out of it's original context & without any artistic control & when you consider that he literally only released one album in it's entirety as it was intended to be heard, doesn't taking his other unfinished album, pairing it with "Grace" and hitting shuffle on your itunes, kind of cheapen the experience?

It's rare that an artist releases something that could be called a "definitive release" & that's admittedly why it is indeed valuable to release a Greatest Hits album, that's the starter album.... Allman Bros Band has zillions of introduction to them as somebody who came up too young to have learned about them at the time they came out was "The Best of The Allman Brothers"... a fine record & certainly worth of a listen. But Jeff Buckley HAS the definitive release in "Grace" nobody would ever argue that. It's literally the only full length that received the blessing of an artist. "So Real" even addresses this silently with the fact that 10 of the 14 songs on the record are lifted directly from the album versions of "Grace". Why did they put it out? It's as if Sony hit shuffle of "Grace" and tipped in a couple of randoms they downloaded off of Limewire!! Sony owes it to Buckley to prolong & extend his legacy however it needs to be done intelligently & respectfully. A lack of resourcefullness on the part of the label paired with a desire to further cash in on their deceased artist has resulted in a pillage & bastardization of one of the greatest recordings ever produced. So Real lends no insight to the expanse of a career on the verge of, nor does it offer anything new. Unfortunately for Sony, telling people 15 years later..." should really go listen to's still amazing & still ahead of it's time" just doesn't make the quick cash that repackaging it and changing the name.

Elliott Smith's latest posthumous release "New Moon" is a different animal all together from So Real. With a far longer recording career, Smith had plenty of choice releases to choose from & this Kill Rockstars Records release features rarities & fully unreleased material recorded between 1994 & 97, some of Smith's most productive years. A great addition for the hardcore Elliott Smith fan. It's interesting that the label actually has resisted to put out a Best of retrospective for Elliott Smith, because in all reality, given the seven certified elliott smith releases, there are plenty of choices & for a person who is possibly unfamiliar with Smith, a best of might actually be a decent way to learn about an artist with a great catalog.

If interested in any of the above, my listening recommendations are:

Jeff Buckley- "Grace" Probably somewhere in my top five albums of all time. If you've never heard Grace, stop reading this right now & go get it. end of story. completley brilliant record from a creative genius.

Jeff Buckley- "Live at Sine" Buckley has tons of live material available, however Sine offers an intimate and insightful look with an expansive 2 disc recording from a performance at the New York City's Legendary "Sine". Armed with only an electric guitar and his incredible voice, "SIne" gives insight to Buckley's passions, humor, personality & inner demons.

Elliott Smith "Either/Or"- Elliott Smith's Lo-key, lo-fo introspect. A tremendous record that undoubtedly went onto influence many a toegazing indie rocker. Brilliant harmonies & some pretty darn eerie lyrics here.

Elliott Smith "XO"- My personal favorite Elliott Smith album. An absolute abundance of classic songs here that show Elliott Smith both in his songwriting prime & fully maturing as an artist. tremendous record.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Good Morning Campers

Hey there....
I have decided to start this blog in a complete abandonment of my other (far more thoughtful) blog "Sound Opinion". My plan (thus far) for this one is to make it an abbreviated and slightly more personal version of Sound Opinion. So in the spirit of's the weekly recap.

This week at the Pabst, we had Omaha Nebraska electroriffic band, The Faint. In addition to sharing a record label with Bright Eyes guru Conor Oberst in Saddle Creek, Oberst was actually at one point a member of the band, prior to his fame.

The Faint was absolutely intense & personally i really enjoyed what i saw of the show. The Faint performs with these giant screens & tons of moving lights onstage. The level of production that they carry is generally reserved for much larger bands, but i guess that's part of their thing. One other interesting item is the fact that the band specifically states in their rider that "The Stage & House must be as dark as physically possible" It really showed through in the show as the band has this presence of being almost these hidden, shadowy figures that are really just another special effect in their show. Still a reallly cool show to see if not altogether, completely intense.

We were sort of understaffed on security that night & one of our guys was pretty MIA altogether (even though he was present) & things were a little more "active" than i normally look for in our standing room area. One sort of entertaining/scary/weird incident. They had pulled a guy out with blood all over the front of his face (something i quite frankly see less than you would think, working in a concert hall)

We asked him what happened & he explained "Dude...I was like just minding my own business & this guy comes up to me & says 'outta my way motherfucker' & i was just like 'fuck you' & he was like 'outta my way' and took a swing at me, which i blocked" ( he says this, he throws up a mock kung-fu move that looks like he nearly warded his assailant off with the skill & wit of say...chuck norris)...he then says "And then he took another swing, i blocked it & the motherfucker headbutts me right in the fact & i was like...fuck...i'm fucking bleeding...& he fuckin took off"

In the mean time, his friends are next to us sort of claiming to plot revenge. I said "Ok, nothin like that's happening tonight. do you have a ride to the hospital or do you want me to call an ambulance" & he says " ambulance...hey can you look at my mouth? I think i lost a tooth"

I agree, he opens up &....ewww, sure as day, the kid is missing his left front top tooth....

His friend showed a mild amount of protest about missing the concert & i told him..."look dude, you want a refund on your ticket? is that what this is about?"....which turned out to be what it was about & he got his buddy into the ambulance.

the icing on the cake is, tooth kid says just as they're leaving the theater "I'm going to have my dad's lawyer call you in the morning!!!"


anyhoo.... a couple of interesting finds this week & one total excellent record.....


The National-"Boxer"
Man....when did I miss these guys? I had Alligator & liked it ok, but this disc is one of those that the moment i popped it on, i knew it would be amazing from the opening notes. Like sort of a rocking leonard cohen, The National's Boxer is introspective, dark & laid back, while being a completely brilliant record. Somehow, The National achieves an incredible personal, inspirational tone to the album without over emoting & this in all reasonable accounts is probably one of the best of the year so far.

Other Stuff
I still kinda don't get Voxtrot (or maybe i do & maybe that's the problem). Through the 3 eps from last year, they were mostly pleasant pop that was neither offensive nor particularly remarkable, although for some reason, people continued to prop them up. Voxtrot's full length is about the same. I guess it's good, listenable pop, but unless i'm completely missing somethings, it's good but not great.

Kathy Diamond-"That's Miss Diamond To You"- Much to the dismay of my office mates, i downloaded Kathy Diamond off of eMusic this week. It's sort of like a cross between early madonna, sly & the family stone & a healthy dose of 80s synth-dance-party thrown in. I'm not saying early madonna was any good...but this sure is an interesting record. Occasional spots where the club lyrics & blatant spectacle is a little irritating, but overall a very interesting & enjoyable listen. plenty of funky, disco inspired grooves that makes Kathy Diamond a very fun & interesting artist.