Glee (1997) by Bran Van 3000

Categories: 1997 and Music.

I love genre-bending. A number of my most favourite bands are bands that can play a wide variety of genres well, and make these genres sound like their own (or, alternatively, convince you they are an entirely different band). So I should like this. I should like this even though it is based in music I don’t personally love (electronic, hip hop). Read More

Full Circle (1997) by Pennywise

Categories: 1997 and Music.

I don’t love 90s punk, I generally find it too polished and too formulaic for my tastes. I’m not sure what it adds to the legacy of hardcore and frankly it’s all too one note. You can get away with one-note when you’re doing something brand new, but when you are doing a slightly more polished version of something that is, at this point, nearly two decades old, it’s kind of tiresome (to me). Read More

Dig Me Out (1997) by Sleater-Kinney

Categories: 1997 and Music.

The songwriting has improved here – the arrangements feel tighter and the hooks are  arguably stronger. This is only the second record of theirs I’ve heard, so I’m not sure I can argue that it is their best (I believe it has that reputation) but if you are looking for 90s punk that still feels like punk (as opposed to some bleached, broish imitation of punk), this is where you should go looking for it. Good stuff. 8/10 Read More

Her Point of View (1997) by Olga Konkova

Categories: 1997 and Music.

Konkova takes aim at a number of jazz standards and reinvents them and makes them her own. She makes them sound of a piece with her own compositions. And this is what I like about jazz: fresh interpretations of old music so that it sounds more modern, with plenty of improvisation to go around. (As one critic noted, Konkova doesn’t introduce the melody and then improvise – she starts improvising on these standards from the get go.) Read More

Either-Or (1997) by Elliott Smith

Categories: 1997 and Music.

The problem with hype is that it makes you have expectations that can never be met. And, for some reason, the the death of someone just makes this so much worse, but in retrospect. Once a beloved musician dies, everything they ever made becomes a masterpiece and must be held up as proof as the dead musician’s genius that was cut short by their death. Etc. I have been hearing about how amazing Elliott Smith is for probably 15 years. Fortunately for my expectations, I have been hearing less of that in the last 5-10 than in the first 5. Read More

Brigthen the Corners (1997) by Pavement

Categories: 1997 and Music.

A kinder, gentler Pavement. With hindsight I think we can say this is the first record where it really sounds like Malkmus is writing songs for himself, rather than the band. I’m not sure that’s fair, but I sure feel like this has more in common with his solo career than with Slanted and Enchanted. It’s still recognizably Pavement, but a far mellower one. Read More

Chile, la memoria obstinada (1997, Patricio Guzman)

Categories: 1997 and Movies.

This is an interesting, albeit sort of confused, film based around the decision of exiled director Patricio Guzman to bring his Battle of Chile back to Chile to show it to audiences who had never seen it (as it was banned by Pinochet’s government and, according to Guzman, no theatres were interested in showing it). Guzman oddly chooses to have people reenact some things and have people march down the street playing an old revolutionary anthem. I’m not sure what the point is, though the reactions in the crowd are kind of incredible. The film is scored by Guzman’s old Read More

Psycho (1997) by Bernard Herrmann, performed by the Royal Scottish Orchestra conducted by Joel McNeely

Categories: 1960, 1997, and Music.

The score to Psycho is one of the most iconic film scores ever and, at the film’s release, probably was the most iconic film score for a Hollywood or even English language-film. (Searching my memory, I can only think of The Third Man as an earlier English language-film that got this much attention for its score. There were, of course, plenty of non-English language-films with heralded scores prior to Psycho‘s release.) And it remains among the most famous to this day, only equaled in fame by Jaws, Halloween, Star Wars, Superman, maybe The Exorcist. That in itself is an impressive Read More

Jackie Brown (1997, Quentin Tarantino)

Categories: 1997 and Movies.

I saw this years and years ago, and I didn’t like it. I don’t know why. I guess it was just the stubborn thing for me to do. I didn’t like Pulp Fiction the first time, either. I guess I can see why people thought of this as some kind of misstep from the wonder boy, because it’s certainly way less ambitious than his last film. But I think it’s certainly underrated. It may be his weakest feature – and that’s debatable – but it has held up much better than True Romance, the film that launched his career and Read More

Symphony No. 9 (2009) by Hans Werner Henze, performed by Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin, Rundfunkchor Berlin, conducted by Marek Janowski

Categories: 1997, 2009, and Music.

Like Beethoven’s 9th and Mahler’s 8th, Henze’s 9th symphony is a choral symphony. And much like his eighth, it’s highly programmic (even more so this time). I am, at this stage of my life, a real sucker for choral symphonies, for reasons I cannot quite articulate. Henze’s 9th remains in the more traditional mode of his other later symphonies, and I cannot help but wonder if he adopted the choral mode in part of a conscious tribute to Beethoven, perhaps thinking his 9th would be his last. (It wasn’t, but there’s that infamous theory that composers always die after completing Read More

South Saturn Delta (1997) by Jimi Hendrix

Categories: 1997 and Music.

So this is sort of the companion piece to First Rays of the New Rising Sun, the album that tried to replicate what would have been Hendrix’s last album. But whereas First Rays was a coherent piece, this is more an abritrary collection of rarities. Like most of Hendrix’s demos and alternates that have been released, everything is very professional. And it’s of interest to any Hendrix fan (though it’s hard to hear what’s different about this version of “All Along the Watchtower”). But it’s not any kind of definitive rarities collection or anything like that. It’s fine. 6/10 Read More

The Partner (1997) by John Grisham

Categories: 1997, Books, and Fiction.

I only know Grisham from the old days when his novels were constantly turned into “event movies” (or the closest thing we had to those back in the ’90s). I watched many of them, though not every one, and, at least as a teenager, thoroughly enjoyed a couple of them, particularly A Time to Kill and The Pelican Brief. Light spoilers ahead. You have been warned. Maybe films make Grisham’s novels come alive better or maybe my tastes have changed (they absoltely have) or maybe this is just lesser Grisham, but this is pretty blah. Grisham’s prose is admirably economical Read More

Die Schopfung (1798, 1997) by Joseph Haydn, performed by The Monteverdi Choir, English Baroque Soloists, Conducted by John Eliot Gardiner

Categories: 1790s, 1997, and Music.

This appears to move the great oratorios or Handel into the classical era. The immensity of this is on par with his music but there’s no escaping how much more modern this work sounds in comparison. I thought I had a distaste for the classical era, but Haydn’s music is making a huge impression on me so far. It’s a lot more complicated than I would have thought, given the era’s reputation for relative simplicity. This is an incredible work – I would (will?) be shocked to discover a greater classical-era oratorio. 10/10 Read More

Habana (1997) by Roy Hargrove’s Crisol

Categories: 1997 and Music.

The man has a voice! Frankly I was starting to despair that this acclaimed trumpeter was going to spend his entire career living in the Young Lion world of ‘Everything old is wonderful, everything new is terrible’. That’s sure what it sounded like in his early years. Now, I cannot pretend to have a remotely thorough knowledge of Afro-Cuban / Latin jazz, and so I cannot attest to whether or not this is innovative in any way. (I have my doubts…) But I detect a passion and a willingness to be idiosyncratic that was wholly missing from Hargrove’s earlier recordings Read More

The Complete Quartets with Sonny Clark (1997) by Grant Green

Categories: 1997 and Music.

This compiles the first three albums Grant recorded with pianist Sonny Clark before the band was expanded to a quintet later in 1962. Interestingly, none of these albums were released until 1980 (in Japan) which, given the quality of the music, it’s really hard to understand. First we have Gooden’s Corner, recorded in late 1961, with both Nigeria and Oleo from January of 1962. (Again, all released in 1980, in Japan.) Burt the set isn’t presented quite like that, as Nigeria leads off the collection with the other two following chronologically. Nigeria is outstanding stuff, despite being full of standards, and makes Read More

String Quartet; So You Want to Right a Fugue; Shostakovitch; Poulenc (1997 Compilation)

Categories: 1997 and Music.

I really like Gould’s quartet. I know it’s not the most forward-thinking piece for the time, but I think it’s among the second tier of its era and I really don’t mind listening to it. The fugue-song thing is a different story: I like it but it’s almost too clever. I like that it seems deliberately aimed at the establishment, but it’s still a minor goof of a piece. The rest of the disk is unfortunately fleshed out by excerpts of two nice pieces – a quintet by Shostakovitch and a kind of concerto thing by Poulenc. They feel reasonably Read More

Elgar – Violin Concerto; Vaughan Williams – The Lark Ascending (1997) by Nigel Kennedy et al.

Categories: 1997 and Music.

This is the kind of selection that feels tailor made for someone like Kennedy. Lots of pyrotechnics. And he shows off. And that’s great. But I feel much the way about this set that I feel about so much of Elgar and Vaughan Williams; I just feel like there is better contemporary music from the period, music that is far more engaging even if it isn’t always as virtuoso. So this is fine, but that’s it. 7/10 Read More

Lipstick, Lies & Gasoline (1997) by Fred Eaglesmith

Categories: 1997 and Music.

I really hope that he means 105 mph rather than 105 kmph, because if he means the latter, the entire province of Ontario drives faster than he does. Anyway…Here Eaglesmith seems to more thoroughly embrace Alt Country and all that that entails. That’s fine in my book. The songs are still strong. And the arrangements are different this time. The only drawback is the reprises, really. 8/10 Read More

We Were the Mulvaneys (1997) by Joyce Carol Oates

Categories: 1997, Books, and Fiction.

This is one of the most emotionally devastating novels I have ever read. Unfortunately, the end of the novel feels a little rushed and slightly artificial. I don’t think I should harp too much on this because the majority of the novel is outstanding, horrific, a page turner and probably a fair allegory for the dissolution of the nuclear family in the US in the post-1960s. 9/10 Read More

The Best of Tommy Dorsey and His Clambake Seven (1997 Retrieval)

Categories: 1997 and Music.

Dorsey – along with his brother – was often accused of not playing “jazz”, something of a hurtful accusation to someone who felt he was a jazz musician. This was actually a fairly common thing in the ’30s when jazz and popular dance music were pretty tough to distinguish (to this day, many people will tell you Glenn Miller played jazz). Maybe I’m looking to hard for motive, but it sure seems to me like this band was at least an attempt to prove those people wrong. This band definitely played jazz, and so if his big band was indeed Read More

Do Make Say Think (1997)

Categories: 1997 and Music.

So at first glance to me this is like the non-electronic side of Tortoise with a bit of the Montreal side of things pulling the music into some non-Tortoise-y directions (which are welcome). There is a also a big “math rock” (ugh, what a name) influence in here as well. This combination makes the band stand out from some of its contemporaries, since they are Tortoise-y but different enough to warrant consideration. The big issue with this album is it seems to need a producer. There’s a little too much here and it’s a bit of a mess. I guess Read More

His Best (1997, MCA) by Bo Diddley

Categories: 1997 and Music.

Along time ago R&B was actually something called rhythm and blues. This CD, which collects many of Diddley’s singles and b-sides from 1955 to 1966. His earliest music of 1955 – now his most iconic – lacks the country of Elvis and Carl Perkins, the gospel of Elvis and Little Richard, the manic intensity of the Killer, and the complete package and polish of Chuck Berry; Diddley is rawer and definitely on the rhythm side of R and B (except for “I’m a Man”, which is so blues Muddy stole it). But this music still made a huge impact on Read More

Percussion Music: Works by Varese, Colgrass, Saperstein, Cowell, Wuorinen (1974, 1997, Nonesuch) by the New Jersey Percussion Ensemble

Categories: 1974, 1997, and Music.

This is a fine selection of modern “art music” attempts to break out of western traditions by making percussive music. Not really knowing a ton about any of the composers save Varese that’s tough for me to say, but it seems a fair sample. Colgrass’s piece in particular is a highlight. It’s nice to see that there was an orchestra dedicated to this kind of music back in the ’70s, a time when one would thing there would be a least some empathy between rock musicians trying to expand their horizons and “art” composers and ensembles trying to expand theirs. Read More

Transmission by the Tea Party (1997 EMI)

Categories: 1997 and Music.

It’s easy to rip on bands who rip off others. But when they rip off stuff you like, it’s significantly harder. I guess this sort of explains how the blogosphere etc can over-hype revivalist bands all the time when it might make no sense to the rest of us. If you like a genre enough, you often don’t care for originality. So I used to be a huge Tea Party fan when I was younger, and I still like their first two albums and EP enough (though I should really adjust my ratings) because I like the bands they rip Read More

Prime Cuts by Suicidal Tendencies (Epic 1997)

Categories: 1997 and Music.

We should all just get past the idea that compilations suck. They do, and so those of us who know this should just not buy them (FYI, I don’t own this). That being said, they can be useful to borrow from a friend (like I am doing right now) or what have you. This way you can at least find out whether you should buy the albums. So there are a number of problems with this that I, a non-ST fan, was not really aware of: re-recorded songs (ugh) and new songs (ugh). Both are big signs to stay away Read More