Vanilla Fudge (1967)

Categories: 1967 and Music.

This is an excellent covers album featuring mostly (but not entirely) fairly radical interpretations of two Beatles songs, a Zombies song, an Impressions song, a Supremes song, a Cher song (made famous by Nancy Sinatra) and a song by artists I’ve never heard of. You must admire these guys for the breadth of these covers, showing an interest in music that is wide-ranging. Read More

Kicking Against the Pricks (1986) by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds

Categories: 1986 and Music.

This is a diverse album of covers, from blues songs to folk and country songs to more mainstream pop songs to a Velvet Underground cover. And the performances are equally diverse, including some really out there versions of some of these songs (see “Hey Joe.” for instance) The problem for me is that sometimes they really alter the song and sometimes they do a fairly faithful version. It feels schizophrenic to my ears and I wish they had committed to radical versions of all of the songs, not just some of them. This is the least essential Bad Seeds album Read More

Wake Up! (2010) by John Legend and the Roots

Categories: 2010 and Music.

I don’t know John Legend and I’m barely aware of the Roots. And I only know one of the originals. But I’m reasonably impressed. The version of “Compared to What” is different enough to be worth listening to. I am making the same assumption for the other tracks, though I have no idea.This is absolutely not my thing, but I get the appeal, and it’s nice to see at least the odd band concerned that things appear to be horrible, politically speaking.I like the concept and cannot say that I know enough to complain about the execution. 7/10 Read More

Camouflage (2004) by Acoustic Ladyland

Categories: 2004 and Music.

Coming at an artists backwards is always a big of an issue. Not only as it’s sort of unfair to the artist – we get our notions of what the artist sounds like when they are “mature” and try to apply that to their early work – but also as it’s unfair to the listener, often, because we don’t have a chance to grow with the artist, to learn from whatever journey they’re on. For example, I had no idea Acoustic Ladyland actually started out as an acoustic band performing Hendrix covers. I mean, I did know that intellectually, but Read More

With a Little Help from My Fwends (2014) by the Flaming Lips et al.

Categories: 2014 and Music.

I avoided the Lips’ cover of The Dark Side of the Moon like the plague, figuring that was an album that absolutely did not have to be covered and also because I’ve been finding the Lips’ willful weirdness to be increasingly maddening and hard to follow. (I have no idea if I’m going to like anything by them any more – not since a long time ago – they release things in so many different ways, it’s exhausting etc.). But then I was sitting in the Only a while ago and something was playing in the background. I had to Read More

Scratch My Back (2010) by Peter Gabriel

Categories: 2010 and Music.

When I was young, I had a problem with interpretive music; for my idealistic self it suggested a lack of creativity, a lack of artistic will, or something like that. (I definitely had a bit of an obsession with the idea of The Artist as a True Individual or some shit.) Over the years my position has markedly changed, but I do know why I felt that way: too many covers in pop rock are ‘straight-up’, i.e. the songs are clearly recognizable as as the originals and the artist has re-used the original arrangement, tempo, production etc. One of the Read More

All We Are Saying: the Music of John Lennon (2011) by Bill Frisell

Categories: 2011 and Music.

As Thom Jurek says, this is an exploration of Lennon the composer, not Lennon the performer, and not Lennon’s songs as launchpads for new things. With a few notable exceptions, these performances are pretty straight up. Yes, the musicianship is of a high quality, keeping this album from a total disappointment, but these are some very capable musicians; this is the best thing they could come up with? Certainly when something is presented to me as jazz – by one of th foremost guitarists in jazz – I expect – I want – to be wowed. I feel like a Read More

Townes (2009) by Steve Earle

Categories: 2009 and Music.

I can’t say that I am much of a fan of Earle at this point, as most of his stuff I’ve heard I’ve found underwhelming. And I can’t say I am much of a fan of van Zandt either; the only album of his I’ve ever heard was horribly – perhaps even offensively – over-produced making it hard to really listen to the songs themselves.But this seems to be a match made in heaven. Van Zandt appears to be a much stronger songwriter than Earle himself – though this could be because this is a sort of Earle-curated Greatest Hits Read More

Chimes of Freedom: the Songs of Bob Dylan (2012) by Various Artists

Categories: 2012 and Music.

This is, I guess, a fitting tribute to the greatest English-language singer-songwriter of the second half of the twentieth century (of the whole century? of any language?). It is extremely vast, though that is appropriate, as there are over 70 songs. The problem with all tribute albums, but especially one that attempts to deal with so much of such a large oeuvre, is that this is really hit and miss. The music falls into several categories: Decent performances that fail to move beyond the original or the definitive version (not necessarily by Dylan): The Belle Brigade: “No Time to Think”  Read More

Children’s Corner: Debussy Orchestrations (2007 Atma) by Claude Debussy, performed by Orchestre symphonique de Quebec conducted by Yoav Talmi

Categories: 2007 and Music.

The more I listen to so-called “classical” / “high art” music the more of a snob I become about it. And I guess that’s not surprising, after all I am a gigantic music snob (though I would argue that I am much less of a music snob – having let hooks into my life at least a little – than I was in, say, 2003) but it is still a little weird, given that I can’t play an instrument (unless you count my wonderful singing voice), I can’t read music, and I can barely express myself when talking about the Read More