Random Shuffle: 07/24/06

beat-farmers.jpg“Happy Boy” – Beat Farmers
From Tales from the New West

A local radio station plays this song every Friday at 5 in the PM. It’s a great, zany way to begin the weekend. It is a short little ditty with odd little lyrics (about putting his dead dog in a drawer and forgetting about him). But it is full of bouncy beats and a chorus that goes something like “hubba hubba hubba. For Friday rush hour traffic it is just about perfect.

There was a radio station in Oklahoma that used to play “Land of a 1,000 Dances” every Friday morning to get people prepared for the weekend. Strange thing radio stations playing the same song every week. You’d think we’d all get tired of it. Yet there is something sort of comforting about that routine. Like it is a full reminder that the weekend is here.

Of course radio stations have been playing the same songs a lot more often than once a week for years now…

pearl-jam.jpg“Dissident” – Pearl Jam
From VS

Right around the time I bought Pearl Jam’s second album I read an article where the writer talked about listening to one album over and over for days and weeks. Something struck me about that concept and I began listening to VS over and over again. It was both the great pleasure I took in the album, and some secret yearning to love a piece of music so much that I couldn’t listen to anything else.

Listening to the song, and album, now I’m not sure why I couldn’t give it up. My friend Eric Berlin recently posted his top 5 favorite bands of all time and asked for everyone to release their own lists. It’s a difficult thing to do, actually. Bands like Pearl Jam would have once topped that list. For a time in my life I loved PJ immensely. But over the years I found other bands and let Pearl Jam slip into the background. Bands that I love right now like Wilco may, in ten years, slip away as well. So, how do you choose your all time favorites?

wilco-being-there.jpg“(Was I) In Your Dreams” – Wilco
From Being There

My wife put this song on the only mix tape she ever made me. It was long before we were married or even dating. It was while she was living in Canada – having a miserable time in the snow – and we had become good friends with a hint of romance simmering behind the scenes.

With every song she included an appropriate lyric and commented upon why she included it in the tape. For this song she had to not so subtly remind me that she just like the song and that she didn’t expect me to be dreaming of her. It was very typical of her strategy at the time to give me something that hinted at something more, but then immediately took it away.

It remains one of my least favorite Wilco tunes.

bruce-hornsby-here-come-the-noisemakers.jpg“The Way It Is” Bruce Hornsby
From 10/09/97

Bruce Hornsby plays this song for nearly every concert he performs. Having been written nearly 20 years ago, that adds up to thousands of performances. You’d think he’d get tired of the song. Truth is, Bruce is such a cool guy he continues to play the song because he knows his fans love it. He understands that at each performance a percentage of the folks paying to see him are people who only know his hits. To make them, happy, and for them to get their money’s worth he always plays several of his big hits, and “Way it Is” is the biggest.

To true fans eternal joy, and to not get too bored with the songs, he often changes the arrangement. I’ve heard it done slow, fast and with weird rhythms. That and Bruce’s insatiable desire to improvise create a thousand different versions of the song for him to play.

This performance was actually with the Roanoke symphony. For the most part you wouldn’t know on this song because Bruce rocks it out pretty much. He stretches it out for 8 minutes and keeps it completely interesting.

jim-croce-classic-hits.jpg“Time in a Bottle” – Jim Croce
From Classic Hits

Another song that stirs the old memory cords. My first true love and I were really better friends than lovers. We came to know each other in what I’ll call pivotal moments in our lives. We were both also teenagers and full of angst and lust and wonderment over what would happen to us in the future.

We were the best of friends for a long time until we decided to become more. Problem was we lived some hundred miles apart and finding the time for the physical ties that belong with something more was difficult. Truth being told I had also very limited experience with the somethings more and was too shy to do much in that regard. We did spend a great deal of time writing letters (twas in the time before e-mail) and chatting upon the phone. Letters involved much drawing of hearts in the margins and the quoting of poetry and lyrics.

My dear once wrote the lyrics to “time in a bottle” for me in the margins and I treasured them dearly.

During the summer post my senior year I broke up with the young lass. In a few weeks I was headed to college many a mile away and I knew our love would not see us through. Intending to make the transition easier I ended our short lived fling. This was during a week of summer camp and for the talent competition she sang this song to me. It was a beautiful, lovely, weepy thing, and my last true memory of the girl. A treasure for a life time.

Bootleg Country: Lou Reed – 12/16/72

lou reed live.jpgPicture this: The year is 1998. It is Thanksgiving weekend. My mother and her friend have picked me and my friend up from college to bring us to the Thanksgiving feast. We’re in the mom-mobile (similar to the Pope-mobile, but less stylish) riding on I-65 between Montgomery and Birmingham Alabama. I pop in Lou Reed’s Transformer album and “Walk on the Wild Side” begins to play.

Just as Lou sings “never lost her head, even when she was giving head” mom freaks.

“Did he just say what I think he said?”

Me mumbling something, quickly ejecting the tape wondering how I forgot the depravity on this tape.

“Mathew, I can’t believe you’d listen to something like this. That’s disgusting.”

I apologized over and over as I tried to find something clean and pleasant, like Hootie and the Blowfish.

To this day my mom won’t let me forget that moment, or the time she read the lyrics on the cover of Jane’s Addictions self titled album.

I still listen to both albums. I still find meaning in artistic expression that doesn’t necessarily fit into my own neat little morality.

Lou Reed always had a way of singing about the darker personalities; pimps, transvestites, drug pushers and anyone else who lives on the outskirts of normal society. And he did it with great art, influencing countless musicians behind him.

12/16/72
Ultrasonic Recording Studio
Hempstead, NY
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This is what rock is supposed to be. Two guitars, bass and drums. No frills, all rock.

The show kicks off with a thumping “White Light/White Heat” that makes me want to grab my leather jacket, shave my head, and kick somebody’s ass.

After that they play “something off the new album” which turns out to be “Vicious.” It’s played to perfection and is something even mom could enjoy.

On “Heroin” Lou remarks on the irony of the song being banned in the early days (so much so that they couldn’t even advertise the album) and now they’re going to play it on the radio. We get the “rock version” of the song which means a lot more guitar and less distorted violin which makes for something a little more listenable, but it loses the sharp edge the songs takes in the studio version.

“Heroin” is probably the first Velvet Underground song I ever heard. They had it on the soundtrack to the movie about the Doors – an album me and my friend Candy listened to so many times we had every note memorized. We used to play a game during “Heroin” and “The End” to see who could get each line, each note exactly perfect. I loved that song. Still do.

Later we come to a first in my “Bootleg Country” series. Lou sings “Satellite of Love” just as he did with Bono on the U2 bootleg. I’ve now got bootleg carry over. This is something I suspect will happen a lot before the series is finished. Unfortunately I don’t particularly like the song, and find myself skipping it on both versions.

“Satellite’s” bass line morphs into “Walk on the Wild Side” with an uproar of cheers from the crowd and a little smirk on my face. Sorry mom, I still dig the crap out of that song.

Some versions of this tape are listed as having an interview with Lou in the middle of the show. As it was taped for a radio program that seems logical, but my copy doesn’t have the interview so we’ll continue with the music.

Actually, the source material lists the radio station as the venue, that and considering the under an hour performing time I suspect this show was actually performed in an auditorium in the radio station itself.

It is a short set, but a good one. There are only a couple of songs I don’t really care for, the aforementioned “Satellite of Love” and “Berlin.” Maybe that’s because I’m not really familiar with either song, or that they are both slow songs during an otherwise rocking set. The rest of the songs are straight ahead rock n roll and pretty much take me to the places I’d like to go with Lou Reed.

Set List:

White Light White Heat
Vicious
I’m Waiting For My Man
Walk It Talk It
Sweet Jane
Heroin
Satellite of Love
Walk On the Wild Side
I’m So Free
Berlin
Rock ‘n’ Roll

CD Review: Bruce Hornsby – Intersections 1985-2005

bruce hornsby intersections“Brrrrooooooooooo…”

The crowd of several thousand standing in the Atlanta Fairground shouted into the bright, hot, southern sky.

“Are they saying ‘Bruce’ or ‘boo?” Juliana asked.

“It’s hard to tell,” I replied. “I for one, am shouting ‘Bruce.’ How could you boo the spidery fingers of Bruce Hornsby? Especially during such a hot version of ‘The Way It Is!’”

“They must be yelling ‘Bruce.’”

And they were, as hundreds of thousands have yelled the same throughout Hornsby’s twenty year career.

That night Bruce was playing keys with the Other Ones – the first Grateful Dead reincarnation post Jerry Garcia’s death. It was but one of many collaborations in a career full of imaginative, incredible ensembles including Ricky Skaggs, Elton John, Bonnie Raitt and Pat Metheny.

To say Bruce Hornsby is a multifaceted musician would be like calling Leonardo DaVinci a renaissance man – certainly it is true, but also rather superfluous and redundant.

With the release of the new boxed set, “Intersections Bruce Hornsby has shown just how multi-talented he really is – from piano based power-pop to bluegrass and century’s old fiddle tunes to improvisational jazz the songs covered in this set stretch across the American song book.

The bulk of the music presented here is culled form previously unreleased live cuts. This is not only good news for the hard core fan who already has all the studio tracks, but for the casual listener interested in understanding Hornsby’s work. As is the way for many of the artists I enjoy, Hornsby’s studio albums are often less than totally satisfying. In a live setting is where Bruce has always found his own, and performed nothing less than inspiring.

The set is separated into three categories spanning four disks. The first, “Top 90 Time” contains the hits and singles, albeit often live and in a different arrangement than what is found on the original album.

The second disk, labeled “Solo Piano, Tribute Records, Country-bluegrass, Movie Songs” contains just that. The first seven songs are instrumental piano numbers uniquely titles “Songs A-H”. The rest are songs Hornsby either played on for friends and co-conspirators, movie soundtracks, and tribute albums.

The remaining two disks, named “By Request” are fan favorites and personal selections.

Interestingly, Hornsby has elected to keep most of his up tempo numbers as the officially released studio version. It is on his slower ballads that he has brought unreleased liver versions to this set. This is perhaps because fans were treated to primo live versions of his faster songs on the 2000 release Here Come the Noisemakers. Or, perhaps it is because live, his up tempo numbers can stretch into double digits, minute wise, which would leave few spaces for more songs.

Whatever the reason, we are still left with a tremendous collections of songs showcasing one of the more talented musicians of the last 20 years.

The boxed set is encased in a lovely three fold binder and includes a 59 page booklet highlighting his career. It includes a personal note from Bruce about each of the songs, numerous photographs, an a tongue-in-cheek retrospective of the critical assessment of his albums (including a number of reviews completely panning his work).

Also included in the set is a DVD full of videos clips (ranging from super cheesy ready-for-MTV videos from the 80’s to highly stylized clips directed by Spike Lee to live performances with the Grateful Dead, Roger Waters and even the “Star Spangled Banner” performed with Branford Marsalis at the World Series.)

This is an excellent set, filled with enough new material to please the biggest fans, and yet so accessible as to find a few new fans along the way.

Random Shuffle – 07/17/06

sex-packets.jpg“Humpty Dance” – Digital Underground
from Sex Packets

My first thoughts when I listen to this 80’s classic is about how dirty it is. It’s really quite filthy. I’m surprised my mother allowed me to listen to it. Of course as a child, which I was when this was a hit, I didn’t grasp the blatant innuendo splattered throughout. I just thought it was a funny song with a silly character in a mask.

Reading the lyrics I’m kind of amazed this became a hit and didn’t hit all the censors. If memory serves this was right around the 2 Live Crew law suits – maybe that’s it, nobody bothered with a guy talking about tickling ladies rears with his nose when the Crew was being way more explicit. Or maybe the song is so funny nobody minded the crassness.

Now I can’t help sing along, and blush at the filthiness.

journey.jpg “Faithfully” – Journey
from Greatest Hits (You didn’t think I owned real Journey albums, did you?)

File this under embarrassingly sappy songs that I love. My friend Mullins, you see, graduated from Ringling Bros. and Barnum Bailey Clown College. That’s right, there is a college for clowns, and it is amazingly difficult to get into. Mullins went, graduated and though never landed a job in the circus is a clown through and through.

There is a lyric in this song that goes something like this:

Circus life
Under the big top world
We all need the clowns
To make us smile

Whatever cheesy parts reside deep in my guts, they get all gooshy when I hear those lines. I can remember driving north of Birmingham, Alabama headed back to college in Montgomery and tearing up over those lines, missing my pal who had recently taken off to Tennessee. Funny how the mushy parts make us all twirly inside, even though it’s nothing but cheese.

gnr-lies.jpg “I Used To Love Her” – Guns N Roses
from G N’ R Lies

A great rock n roller about murder. My friend Juliana (who happens to be married to the clown Mullins) says that all great country artists have to write a song about killing someone. Well, Guns N Roses area bout as far as you can get from country, but this is a great murdering song.

It is a great song to sing loud, and then get evil glares from those who don’t know the song. It’s also a great song to irritate my wife with, and she knows the darn song.

parachutes.jpg“Yellow” – Coldplay
from Parachutes

For the longest time I thought this was a Pearl Jam song and it caused my renewed interest in the band. It has since become the only Coldplay song I enjoy. The rest of their songs are too whiney and too soft to be rockers. I always feel like they are playing soft as a tease and then they are gonna hit it with some awesome rock, only to be left with a lot of softness.

I really dig the relaxing summertime vibe of this song. It makes me want to roll out my blanket and lay out under the stars.

nod-to-bob.jpg “Dieu a Nos Cotes” (With God On Our Side) Hart–Rouge
from A Nod To Bob

Reading reviews of this Bob Dylan tribute album I find that this song is almost universally despised. I rather adore it. It’s a lilting, beautiful thing. Though most reviewers don’t really say why they don’t like it, that it is in French seems to be the problem stewing behind the bad mouthing. Perhaps this is due to those not understanding the language (and after all it is the language of Dylan that most love).

The song itself is an anti-war rant that touches on all the major wars of the US up until the cold war. I suspect some detractors rather despise the fact that Dylan is speaking out so directly against war and that this new version may be using his words as a means to rail against the current war in Iraq (and in French no less, how dare those spineless bastards speak out against war, don’t they know we saved their asses in both World Wars?. Never mind that the band is French-Canadian.)

I speak a little French, but I can’t really understand what they’re saying. Looking at comparison lyrics it seems like the translation is pretty literal, but who knows they may have thrown in an “American is a hate-filled war-mongering country” and I might have not noticed. But the thing that is interesting is that none of the reviews mentioned any change in Dylan’s lyrics, but seem to hate it being translated into French. I would think fans would enjoy the fact that other languages are taking note.

Me? I love the song. I’m not a big fan of the English version, honestly, but it is such a soft lilting thing in the French.

Movie Review: The Goonies

goonies.jpgAh the 80’s. When making movies was simple and easy. When all you needed was some cheesy dialogue, a few nut sack jokes, long montages set to cheesier music and go to nerdy Asian kid actor Jonathan Ke Quan. If you could make simple actions like opening a gate door incredibly complicated and involve some type of ball (preferably bowling) then you were almost guaranteed a hit.

 

Ok, there were serious, art movies made in the 80’s, it’s just that I didn’t see any of them at the time. Hey, don’t blame me, I was just a kid. If you have to lay blame, go find my mother.

For me the 1980’s was full of the Goonies, Gremlins, The Lost Boys, ET, Indiana Jones, and freaking Return of the Jedi. T’was a glorious time filled with mayhem, action, silly comedy and all the stereotypes you could shake a stick at.

Reliving my nostalgic memories is sometimes surprisingly good, and often quite frightening. The Lost Boys is embarrassing, while a film like the Goonies holds up amazingly well. Sure, it won’t go on any of my top 5 lists, but it is still an enjoyable, entertaining romp.

To gather up some plot points, the Goonies are a group of adolescent boys all living in a neighborhood that’s about to be turned into a golf course. If only they could come up with the money to keep their parents mortgage then all would be saved. Through some shenanigans it turns out that two of the boy’s dad is a curator for a museum who just happens to have an attic full of pirate lore.

They find a treasure map and set out to find the pirate gold and save their neighborhood. Along the way they run into some nefarious gangsters who become quite interested in the pirate booty.

Bountiful mis-adventures occur as both the Goonies and the gansters run amok underground the city escaping all sort of mad booby traps. The gold of course is found, and lost, and found again, well enough to save the day. The gangsters are caught and every thing is hunky dory.

Did I mention Sloth? No! How could I forget Sloth? He is this giant disfigured character the gangster bad guys keep locked up because he’s family and a menace, or weird. Or something. Of course he is really a Goonie at heart and once again a movie of the 80’s shows us the way to acceptance and world harmony.

Bootleg Country: Jimmy Buffett – 09/04/99

1028154245.jpgSeveral years back my wife (then girlfriend) was throwing a small party. I provided the music which consisted of several mix tapes. On one of these tapes was the Jimmy Buffet song “Barometer Soup,” which is kind of a calypso Caribbean rave up. My wife’s (then girlfriend’s) friend (then roommate), who is actually from Trinidad, developed a rather large sneer at listening to Jimmy Buffet trying to be Caribbean.

There was much discussion of how gawd awful the song was, and how unauthentic the steel drum sounded. I tried to give some sort of recompense for these ‘sins of the Caribbean’- Jimmy Buffet has spent much of his life in South Florida and the Caribbean, he uses authentic Caribbean musicians in his band (that one I’m making up, but it sounds good even if I don’t know if it is true) – but in the end these reasons fell flat on my friend’s ears. The real reason I included the song on the mix tape – the only reason to include any song on a party mix tape is that it’s a lot of fun.

You could probably sum up Jimmy Buffet with those words. He’s not the world’s greatest song writer, or a master musician, but he knows how to have fun, and his music shows it. He’s made a career out of island escapism.

It’s hard not to be jealous when listening to a guy who has made a career (and big bucks) off of sitting on beaches, munching cheese burgers and sipping margaritas.

09/04/99
The Tweeter Center
Mansfield, MA
2-out-of-5-stars.gif

Download the show here.

The thing about Jimmy Buffett is that he’s really got his shtick down to a fine T. He knows how he is supposed to act, he knows how to please his audience. The thing that annoys me about Jimmy Buffett is his audience is made up of a lot of drunken buffoons.

This is a theme concert of sorts. The Beach House on the Moon album had just come out and Jimmy has planned a concert around it. It’s a pretty broad concept mainly consisting of Jimmy telling the audience they are going to fly to the moon, a few silly sound effects of a rocket ship, a few sillier jokes about landing on the moon and returning homeward. All fitted around his songs.

In fact it gets rather tiring listening to Jimmy try to segue into the next song and tie it into a part of the “trip.” To segue into “Coconut Telegraph” he notes that the only communication device that they will be using on the flight is, you guessed it, a coconut telegraph. And it really never gets better than that. The whole moon flight is just, well, lame.

Throughout the show he throws in all his hits, a bunch of new songs, and even a cover of Van Morrison’s “Brown Eyed Girl,” Crosby Stills and Nash’s “Southern Cross,” and the Grateful Dead’s “Uncle John’s Band.” All are played with his typical island schtick, which basically means steel drums in the foreground.

Ed Bradley, of CBS fame, plays tambourine on a couple of songs. I’d say he played a mean tambourine, and he does as far as tambourine guest performers go, but we all know guest tambourine players only come on stage because they can’t play a real instrument.

Jimmy’s between song banter is as moronic as it is straight out of a frat boy party, the “concept” is just as lame and the music is uninspired, but I must admit it is all rather fun. It’s the type of bootleg I’d throw on while sitting around the pool, or on the back porch sipping something fruity. And in the end, if music can’t be fun once in awhile, then what’s the point after all?

Random Shuffle – 06/10/06

“Building a Mystery” – Sarah McLaughlin
From Pure Moods – Celestial Celebration

I’ve never been much of a Sarah McLaughlin fan. I like her whisper of a voice but there is something about her songs that just don’t move me in anyway. This particular song I like okay, mainly because it brings up a fairly specific time frame (college years) that I enjoy getting nostalgic about.

This particular version is a rather scorching live version. Sarah really gets into (she even lets loose with a F-bomb) and the band behind her nails the groove. It is off of one of those new agey Pure Moods disks that my wife got from the library. Most of the album was way too ‘new jazz’ for my tastes, but there are a few good numbers that go well with a nice mix tape to get the wife in the mood.

shameaboutray.jpg “Frank Mills” – Lemonheads
From It’s a Shame About Ray

Speaking of Nostalgia, this Lemonheads brings me back to my late high school years like a bullet. On the liner notes of this album were all the lyrics to the songs, but they were jumbled up like. So you might get one line from song 1 then it would go to another line from song 2. I spent several hours one night going through each song and matching up the lyrics.

Yes, I was once a lyrics freak. I used to keep a notebook of favorite lyrics. Of course I used to also consider myself a poet and kept a notebook full of those awful things.

Speaking of lyrics I once tried to write out the lyrics to Def Leppard’s “Pour Some Sugar On Me” and got them all wrong. I was way too young to understand the overstated sexual overtones of the song and thought it was a nice ode to vegetables and picnicking. Hilarious.

This is, of course, a cover of a song from Hair. Evan Dando pretty much nails it with his soft-man voice and an acoustic guitar. He hits the hippie naivety of the song without an ounce of irony. Much better in fact than the more popular cover of “Mrs Robinson” he also sings on the same album.

shakeyour.jpg “She Talks to Angels” – The Black Crowes
From Shake Your Money Maker

Throw this one into my pile of all time favorite songs. Most of the Black Crowe “rockers” I could live without, but there is something about their organ laced ballads that melt my kidneys.

This one with it’s tale of a misguided lass moves me in ways I can’t speak of around children.

I saw the Crowes at the end of a very long festival concert, and I must admit I didn’t much care for them. But again it was at the end of the night after hearing something like 8 hours of music. This was also Atlanta in the middle of summer so my skin was burnt to a crisp. What really stands out to me is the gyrating couple standing near us. The man was behind doing his thing while the lady was reaching around back and….oh the kiddies again, um nevermind.

prince.jpg “7” Prince
From The Hits

This song always reminds me of my cousin Clifton. I have a very specific memory of him playing this song and loving it right before we left for some family get together.

Prince always reminds me of working on an EPA Superfund project. Me and my boss used to crank up the hits collection and rock out. She was a cool boss. But the secretary there was a total wash-out be-ach. She complained once because I played “Sexy MF” and she was offended by the cursing. Funny thing was she used to get explicit with her own sexual history. Pissed me off. I can’t have Prince get funky, but she can tell me, in detail, about her own funkiness?!

Speaking of that lady, first day on the job she has a 3.5 inch floppy disk turned backwards trying to stick it into the computer. I watch her try it three or four times before she asked for help. Hilari-freaking-ous.

royal.jpg “These Days” – Nico
From The Royal Tenenbaums Soundtrack

I usually make a face when someone mentions Nico simply because I have old tendencies towards the Velvet Underground and there was a whole history with Nico and the Velvets. Rumor has it Andy Warhol made the Velvets have Nico sing a few numbers in order for him to fund the band.

Turns out Nico has a really pretty voice and this song is beautiful. She has a very nasaly kind of delivery but it matches perfectly with the acoustics and the longing lyrics. It also fits perfectly into the film, something Wes Anderson has a nack for.

Bootleg Country: Norah Jones – 12/02/02

norah_jones_01.jpgThe difference between listening to a studio album and attending a live concert can be enormous. While listening to an album you can control the setting – turn the lights down low for a sensual beat; or turn them completely off while wrapping the headphones around your head to feel every moment of the music pulsing through your neurons and tendons, or wire speakers through your whole house to blast the neighborhood pretty much away for a block party.

You can be as distracted by other things as you want, or completely absorbed in the music. You can play the same track over and over, memorizing every moment until your ears bleed.

But live you only control the immediate environment around you, and sometimes not even that. The band or the venue set up the speakers, mix the instruments and control the overall sound. An outdoor amphitheater creates a completely different vibe than a small, indoor club, or a giant stadium. Crowds can be utterly hushed, plugged into the vibe of the band, or they can be wild crazy beasts hardly noticing that a band is on stage.

I’ve been to too many shows where the audience spent more time shouting and chatting with each other rather than actually listening to the music on stage. But when the audience is in tune, a live concert can be so much more than a studio album. There is a connection audience can make not only with the musicians, but with each other.

There are moments during those concerts when every member of the audience is singing along, washed away in a spiritual convalescence, a musical wave that sweeps us all away into bliss – those moments are perfect, without flaw.

Listening to a recording of a concert can obtain the best and worst of both worlds. You can choose the setting in which to listen, and if the recording is right, be swept away into that blissful moment. OR, you can hear all the flaws in the instrumentation and be utterly distracted by crowd noise.


Norah Jones
12/02/02
San Francisco, California
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Norah Jones has a voice so sultry she could turn an albino chicken on. I remember when she first hit it big and everyone was telling me how sexy she was. I wasn’t much for radio in those days (and I’m still not) and it was during a cheap stretch when I wasn’t buying much music, so I didn’t hear her voice until well into her major stardom. My wife eventually bought Come Away With Me and I eventually gave it a listen.

My lord, they were right..

When I first heard that voice I stopped dead in my tracks and melted into a bed of puddin’. Chocolate puddin’, the best kind. I laid down, turned off the lights and drifted off into an ecstasy filled …well let’s just say never leave me alone with Norah Jones and a bed full of puddin’.

On this particular night Norah seems to be in good form. Her voice has retained that sultry siren feel. The back up band plays it nice and smooth. Still, there is something missing, While I enjoy the music, I’m not taken away into the soft lighting.

Part of this is the recording. This is an audience recording and though it sounds quite crisp for an audience mike (the instruments come in clear and crisp, the audience isn’t audible except in the appropriate places) there is something distant and cold in the recording.

Where on her studio albums, Norah feels like she’s sitting next to you on the couch, here she sounds like she’s playing at the bar next door. It really removes me from the recording and makes the bootleg something I enjoy having in my collection, and something I periodically take out to impress my wife, but not really something I search out to find that special secret feeling again.

It’s not just the audience recording that removes me, but also the performance. Again Norah sounds in fine form and there isn’t anything tangible that I can complain about in the band, it’s just that it feels a little…well, clinky.

To go back to the studio again, Norah’s albums have that soft, lush feel to them. The production brings out the music like crushed roses. It makes my knees quiver. It is extremely intimate. This live recording just doesn’t have that. In the live setting, on CD, that intimacy is lost. I’m sure for those that were there in Davies Hall it was all intimate and beautiful, but that’s the thing with bootleg recordings, the experience of listening to it is often much different than actually being there.

On some songs she is able to create an intimate, lush space for which to listen. On “Something Is Calling You” I feel Norah sneak up on me and lay my head on her shoulder as she coos me to sleep. But then again on the opening song, “Turn Me On” she fails too, something I would never expect from Norah.

While listening I found myself continuously wishing I had the studio counterparts instead. It’s either that or having Norah live in the flesh singing to me whilst I sleep in a bed of puddin’. Chocolate puddin’, the best kind.

Happy Independence Day

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Yeah, I know that’s the Eiffel Tower, which isn’t exactly the picture most choose for American Independence. It was taken last year for what is essentially France’s Independence Day, and it’s the only picture I have of fireworks. Plus it’s really cool looking.

We’re headed to the wife’s folks for the Holiday. All of her brothers and families are coming up too. Should be fun.

Sorry for the lack of updates. Work kept me busy this week. I’ve got a couple of Bootleg Countries cooking for next week, so look out for that.