Monday, July 30, 2007

Writing To Reach You

While it's a nice enough listen with a few genuine highlights, the latest record from Travis, The Boy With No Name, never quite fired me up to buy tickets to their show here in Atlanta last night. But when free tickets fell into my hands on Saturday, there was no excuse not to head down to The Tabernacle to swelter in the heat and catch a band that used to captivate me on a regular basis. By the time the gig was over, I felt more than a little guilty that I hadn't purchased my tickets, at full price, the day they went on sale.

I simply had forgotten, after a good five or six years, what a tremendous live act these guys are. And on this particular night, in front of a smallish but adoring crowd that sang along to every word, they positively slayed, with the live setting giving many of Fran Healey's gloriously melodic tunes an urgency and edge (and some sheer volume) that their new album frankly could use a bit more of. And what tunes, too. The newer material sounded mighty fine, and the older songs -- especially "Writing To Reach You", "Turn" and "Why Does It Always Rain On Me?" from their best-ever album, 2000's The Man Who . . . -- struck me as something like timeless. They even busted out their classic Britney Spears cover -- which Fran said they were playing for the first time in ages -- and closed with a note-perfect version of "Back In Black". Yes, that "Back In Black".

In short, it wasn't just a good show; it was among the very best I've seen this year. The moral of the story: Whenever Scotland's favorite sons come to your town, don't you dare miss 'em.

MP3: Travis - "Battleships" from The Boy With No Name

Bonus MP3: Travis - "Baby, One More Time" (live at Glastonbury, 2000)

Sunday, July 29, 2007

My Brightest Diamond

Just a quick note for our Atlanta readers: Since opening in downtown Decatur scarcely a month ago, Wordsmiths, the new indie bookstore on the block, has established itself as not just a primo literary destination, but a musical one as well. The killer in-store performances continue this Wednesday afternoon, August 1, at 4PM, when Wordsmiths hosts a free, all-ages acoustic set by baroque pop princess and friend-of-Sufjan, Shara "My Brightest Diamond" Worden. Those of us who saw Shara open for Soof when he played the Fox back in September can confirm that she's a captivating performer with a gorgeous voice. If you can make it on a school-day, this outing is highly recommended.

MP3: My Brightest Diamond - "Something Of An End" from Bring Me The Workhorse

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Let's Get Moving

Leaving tonight for the West Coast, so it seems appropriate to post about one of my favorite West Coast artists. I shouldn't refer to Rancid as a guilty pleasure, because I have no reason to feel guilty about being such a fan. After all, they are sort of a modern day, California tribute to The Clash in many respects. And Rancid's leader, Tim Armstrong, is an unabashed Joe Strummer devotee -- nothing wrong with that. Not to mention that, in this new world of "punk rock" that is far closer to '80s hair bands than the Sex Pistols, Rancid still come correct.

I recently stumbled across Armstrong's new solo album, A Poet's Life, and a pleasant discovery it is. A Poet's Life is essentially a reggae album, but think old school reggae. It has a definite two-tone feel to it, which is not surprising, given Rancid's ska proclivities. (You remember "Time Bomb," right?) I understand that A Poet's Life was originally intended to be an internet giveaway to the fans, but its instant popularity and radio explosion (thanks, KROQ) forced somebody to rethink that plan.

As far as I'm concerned, A Poet's Life is the perfect summer record. While it's rooted in a time gone by, it still sounds thoroughly modern, with a notable hip-hop influence (and out-of-the-headlines references to Mogadishu and Baghdad). Plus, it sports one of the best aspects of Armstrong's writing style, a ready autobiographical nature. Even if his narratives are pure fiction, they always feel stridently real, and grounded in time and place. But the best thing about this collection of tunes is its ability to get you moving. I dare you not to tap a toe to this, at least. Better yet, crank it up and shake it around the room. Come on, its summer!

MP3: Tim Armstrong - "Into Action" from A Poet's Life
MP3: Tim Armstrong - "Translator" from A Poet's Life

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

More Adventurous?

The Interwebs are abuzz -- and not necessarily in a good way -- about "The Moneymaker," the first advance track from Rilo Kiley's forthcoming Under The Blacklight, due out on August 21. With it's funky/sleazy attitude, throbbing bassline, simplistic lyrics and initially unrecognizable Jenny Lewis vocal, it's a stunning and, to some, worrisome departure in sound for a beloved indie band on their first major label outing. After numerous listens (and a few viewings of the video, which features fine-as-ever Jenny in the company of several L.A. porn stars), I have to say the tune is growing on me a bit (especially the bridge). But the burning question now is, did the band leak such an uncharacteristic track first in order to throw fans for a loop, or is the whole album going to sound like this? Well I've now heard two more tunes from UTL, and if the pattern holds, I've got news for you. But more about that later.

For now, what's the consensus on "The Moneymaker"? And, especially if you're down with it, are you a longtime RK fan with an open mind or are you hearing them for the first time?

MP3: Rilo Kiley - "The Moneymaker" from Under The Blacklight

UPDATE: Stereogum has UTB cover art and is streaming another new track, "Silver Lining," that is far less likely to freak out the faithful.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Classic Bootleg Series Vol. 16: Fleetwood Mac - Nashville 1977

Although it may be more guity pleasure than music geek chic, I have an abiding love for early Buckingham-Nicks era Fleetwood Mac, and rank the band's output from 1975's redefining Fleetwood Mac to 1979's Tusk -- apart from some of the Christine McVie tunes that, frankly, haven't aged too well -- among that decade's most enduring music. In between those two albums, of course, was the commercial and artistic juggernaut called Rumours, still one of the best-selling records of all time (over 30 million copies as of 2003) and one I crank up with surprising frequency to this day.

At bottom, though -- and while I think Stevie Nicks wrote some excellent songs over this period -- what made Fleetwood Mac great in the mid-to-late 70s (and on a few occasions since) was the spectacular songwriting and musicianship of Lindsey Buckingham. A true visionary wrestling with his ravaged heart, and a genius of a guitar player, the tracks he turned out over those three records still thrill and amaze me. And, as if that weren't enough to immortalize the guy, he also succeeded in pulling off one of the most effective acts of revenge against an ex-lover in the history of humankind: not only writing the gorgeously vicious "Go Your Own Way" about Stevie, but forcing her to stand next to him and sing the harmonies on it for the next 30 years.

This is the best boot from the Rumours tour, a fine soundboard tape from the May, 1977 show in Nashville. It has a couple of minor cuts (at the very end of "Gold Dust Woman" and beginning of "You Make Loving Fun"), but it's the best-sounding document of the mighty, mid-70s Mac that I know to be in circulation. Grab the whole thing -- but yes, you're allowed to skip "Oh Daddy," so long as you listen to "Never Going Back Again" or "The Chain" twice.

FLEETWOOD MAC - LIVE IN NASHVILLE - Nashville Municipal Auditorium, May 21, 1977

Front cover
Back cover

Disc 1
01 intro
02 Say You Love Me
03 Monday Morning
04 Dreams
05 Oh Well
06 Rhiannon
07 Oh Daddy
08 Never Going Back Again
09 Landslide
10 Over My Head
11 Gold Dust Woman

Disc 2
01 You Make Loving Fun
02 I'm So Afraid
03 Go Your Own Way
04 World Turning
05 Blue Letter
06 Second Hand News
07 The Chain
08 Songbird

Friday, July 20, 2007

My Lyrics Are Bottomless

A little Friday humor. These guys claim to have invented rap music . . . back in New Zealand. I don't know about that, but this is hilarious. Check out the acoustic version here ("Sometimes when I freestyle, I . . . lose . . . confidence").

Check out Flight of the Conchords on HBO on Sunday nights. Maybe there is life after the Sopranos after all . . .

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

There's A Hope In Our Hearts

Will there ever come a time when the opening measures of "Waiting For The Sun," the first song on Hollywood Town Hall, don't give me the chills? Probably not. The Jayhawks' first major label release is one of my favorite records of all time. It, along with the follow-up, Tomorrow The Green Grass, marked an impressive burst into the then-burgeoning "alt.county" music scene that still gets regular play around the TTT offices.

But for reasons beyond the scope of this post, it seemed that The Jayhawks 1.0 were over almost as quickly as they started, as founder (and my favorite Jayhawk) Mark Olson walked away from the band at the peak of their ascension to make music and be with his wife Victoria Williams. Even though Gary Louris bravely carried on under the established trademark, he did so in a decidedly different direction, and for whatever reason, I, as a fan, eventually parted company with all of the above. And while Rainy Day Music drew me back in to The Jayhawks, it turned out to be the band's swan song, and a fitting close. Following the Jayhawks' demise, a tour with Olson and Louris held the promise of a spark of the original magic, and we crossed our fingers.

Mark Olson's first actual "solo" record, The Salvation Blues, is at least in part the realization of that promise. Louris makes a significant contribution in both songwriting and backup vocals, and it sounds great to hear the boys back together again on new songs. Still, the most notable aspect of this record is its fantastic, unparalleled songwriting. I hereby nominate Mark Olson as this nation's new poet laureate. Having survived what one might surmise was a bitter divorce with Williams (Olson reportedly lost not only his wife but the beloved house he built in Joshua Tree, California) and two years of wandering and soul-searching, he has returned with a work of true beauty.

The Salvation Blues, in many respects, picks up where the original Jayhawks left off. It sounds a little more world-weary, maybe, but a fair amount smoother around the edges too, and to paraphrase Jerry Garcia, a touch of gray suits Mr. Olson well. The musicianship is impeccable, and the sound is authentic Americana, timeless and yet well-worn, and completely oblivious to anything like trends or current pop culture. It brings with it an understandable undercurrent of sorrow (e.g., "My One Book Philosophy"), but at the same time an undeniable spirit of optimism. And why not? Mark Olson has recaptured the original magic.

MP3: Mark Olson - "Clifton Bridge" - from The Salvation Blues

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Classic Bootleg Series Vol. 15: R.E.M. - Rising (Toronto 1983)

I'm almost ashamed that it took me so long to get around to this one. I had the good fortune to grow up in Atlanta, graduate from high school in 1982, and attend college in North Carolina while most of my closest friends were (a) aspiring musicians and (b) going to school in Athens, Georgia. It was the perfect place and time to witness the infancy of one of the greatest rock and roll bands of all time, and to this day, I consider it one of the foremost blessings of my musical life.

To tell the whole story of my 80s obsession with R.E.M. would take a book. Suffice it to say that, from the moment I got the just-released Hibtone "Radio Free Europe" / "Sitting Still" single back to my teenage room in 1981 and needle hit vinyl, I knew my life had changed. I saw them live for the first time at a free festival show in Piedmont Park on May 14, 1982, weeks before my high school graduation. There were maybe 100 people on the grass in front of the stage. And it was mind-blowing. By the time I settled in at Duke University the following Fall, I had seen them several more times, the Chronic Town EP was out, and I just knew I was following the start of something very special. This was not just the best band from my hometown, or the best band from the South. This, I was already certain, was a band for the ages. And I was right.

I took it upon myself to become R.E.M.'s advocate on my Yankee campus in North Carolina, telling anyone who would listen that this was the next great American band, the next "best band on the planet". I became a DJ at the student radio station and slipped an R.E.M. track (or two) into every show. Murmur was released in '83 and the word spread more quickly. If they played anywhere near Durham, I was there, dragging the unconverted along with me when I could. I road-tripped to Athens to see them play the old 40 Watt and the Mad Hatter, and through my musician friends, eventually met and spent an evening or two on the town with Peter Buck. (I don't think he ever paid for a beer when I was around.) I bought every 12" import single to get the obscure b-sides, and saved every scrap of memorabilia (including the poster and gig flyer that hang in my study at home to this day). And when the band played two nights at Duke's Page Auditorium in September of 1984 -- shows that, oddly enough, were recorded for an official live album that was never released, and is now widely booted -- I was front and center both nights, like some proud little brother, and did the interview with Peter on the student TV station, even though I didn't work there, because no one else knew what to ask him. (In retrospect, I guess, the cool kids at school really weren't all that cool.) I could go on and on. But by the time I graduated from college in the spring of '86 and headed to law school in -- you guessed it -- Athens, Georgia, the story of R.E.M. was no longer even remotely obscure. Many of you probably have stories of your own.

But, oh yeah, I'm supposed to be introducing a bootleg. Choosing the best early R.E.M. boot is a tall order. Soundboard tapes of many of the very early shows -- at the 40 Watt and Tyrone's in Athens, at The Strand in Marietta, a sloppy '81 bar show in Greensboro, NC, the '82 Piedmont Park show that was my first, and even an '82 show in San Francisco -- circulate widely today, and are uniformly fantastic. And then there is the show at the Seattle Music Hall in June of '84, recorded for broadcast across the U.S., that many regard as the best R.E.M. gig ever. (It's certainly up there, for sure.) But by then the band had graduated from small clubs to theatres, and the experience of seeing them, while still powerful and amazing, had definitely changed a bit from the earliest days.

When I'm in the mood to hear a great early R.E.M. show -- one that best recalls the days of seeing them in a small, crowded, sweaty club, but with a setlist full of original (now classic) tunes and on the very cusp of breaking bigger -- I return again and again to this one, recorded at Larry's Hideaway in Toronto in July of 1983. It's not a perfect tape by any means. In fact -- and be warned -- there are a few brief cuts, some diginoise and other glitches here and there. But even with a flaw or two, this tape is spectacular -- a great band, at a thrilling time in their career, and on a particularly inspired night. From the chiming arpeggios pouring out of Peter's Rickenbacker, to Mike Mills' dextrous, innovative basslines, to Michael Stipe's singular baritone and oblique poeticism, the R.E.M. machine is firing here in all its early, post-punk glory. And, as I always tell people who've come to the band fairly recently, just listen to the mighty Bill Berry on this tape. He is the engine driving this train, and his rapid-fire playing on this night (as usual) is a marvel. I don't know how else to say it -- these guys were, and still are, something else. I may not have been at this particular show, but I was at countless others just like it. How freaking lucky am I?

Special thanks to my teacher and friend BED for blessing this post in advance.

R.E.M. - RISING - live at Larry's Hideaway, Toronto, Ontario, July 9, 1983

Back (track list slightly incorrect, but close enough)

01 Wolves, Lower
02 Moral Kiosk
03 Laughing
04 Pilgrimage
05 Moon River
06 There She Goes Again > 7 Chinese Brothers
07 Talk About The Passion
08 Sitting Still
09 Harborcoat
10 Catapult
11 Pretty Persuasion
12 Gardening At Night
13 9-9
14 Just A Touch
15 West Of The Fields
16 Radio Free Europe
17 We Walk
18 1,000,000
19 Carnival of Sorts (Boxcars)

Friday, July 13, 2007

Blow Out That Cherry Bomb

There was a sampled line in a Big Audio Dynamite (II) song that went something to the effect of "All anyone cares about anymore is rhythm and melody, rhythm and melody . . . " That song, of course, came out in the early 90s, well into the hip hop era, in which all anyone really cares about is rhythm; to hell with melody.

That being said, rhythm and melody, or perhaps "Rhthm & Soul," are what Austin's Spoon are all about. In fact, you'd be hard pressed to find anyone who does it better. Spoon's sixth album, Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, released Tuesday, is a perfect blend of accessibility and experimentalism, wrapped in spirited funk and highly infectious tunes. Indeed, there's something for everybody to tap a foot (or shake a booty) to here.

Spoon have always been a creative force to behold. On this new record, the band refines and expands on its distinct sound, and in doing so, takes its game to a whole new level. Unlike their previous outing, Gimme Fiction, which tended to plod along under the weight of heightened expectations, Ga Ga Ga (that's the hip, shortened title) breezes across the room like Paris Hilton at a paparazzi convention. The trademark staccato rhythms remain intact, but the tempos are a little more upbeat, the songs a little more loose, and there's a wicked amount of studio knob-twiddling in which the empty spaces are filled in with found sounds and exotic instrumentation.

The record opens with "Don't Make Me A Target," an overtly political protest song less notable for the venom that it spews at the current administration than for the fact that it sounds exactly like what one might expect John Lennon to be writing were he alive today. "The Ghost Of You Lingers," perhaps the most experimental song on the record, uses enough reverb to choke Neko Case in effectively conjuring the sound of multiple voices echoing in the poor protagonist's head as he suffers through a cinematic montage of aching memory.

These songs are followed by what in a perfect world would be a huge hit, "You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb," which bounces along to an almost Motown-esque rhythm that's hard not to be completely seduced by, fingers snapping, head shaking, and all. In the past, Spoon tunes could be almost stiff in their mechanical tightness, but "Don't You Evah" and "Finer Feelings" are good examples of how the band's new found looseness frees them to expand their palette. The record rounds out with probably the closest thing to a Spoon ballad, "Black Like Me," which is one of the best songs I've heard this year. I know it's still early, but if this record doesn't wind up on a few best-of lists this year, someone will have to explain it to me. This is must-have stuff.

MP3: Spoon - "Finer Feelings" from Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Odds and Sods

While you await the next bootleg in our series -- which I'll try to get up before I go on vacation this weekend -- there's some great stuff to be grabbed elsewhere:

Heather at IAFYAF offers the first of the five nights of "open rehearsals" that R.E.M. wrapped up in Dublin, Ireland last week. (You'll need to scroll down a bit to her July 7 post.) The band sounds tremendous, and from everything I've read, the more-or-less unanimous buzz on the new batch of songs that were debuted during these shows (sorry, Bertis) is that it's their strongest in years. I am seriously excited about the new record.

Another kind-but-anonymous soul has posted Nirvana's set at the 1992 Reading Festival for the taking. There's one less classic boot that we'll need to cover. (via GoldenFiddle)

And the mighty Stereogum got 12 bands, including the likes of John Vanderslice, Cold War Kids, The Twilight Sad and My Brightest Diamond, to record a tribute to Radiohead's OK Computer to commemorate that record's 10th anniversary. (Jeez, how the time does fly.) Better yet, Scott and co. are giving that collection away gratis, complete with artist commentary and cool cover art. We, and other humble music bloggers everywhere, can only shake our heads in awe.

Finally, you just have to get a load of the new Joe Strummer replica Telecaster about to be released by Fender, with a not-very-punk $900 price tag. Lord knows we worship Saint Joe here at TTT, and don't begrudge the Widow Mellor for making sure her kids are taken care of, but does anyone else think this is just a bit too cheesy? (Thanks to DJ Cayenne at BGB for the heads up on this one.)

Monday, July 09, 2007

Cool For Cats

This past Saturday, 07.07.07, really was the luckiest of days for fans at an obscure music festival in Kent, England. While the bill for the Return To The Summer of Love Festival promised no more than appearances by Silverwood, Urban Spacemen, Cosmic Charlies and Barry "The Fish" Melton & The Green Ray (no disparagement of those fine acts intended), festival-goers were in fact treated to a surprise set by none other than the newly-reunited Glenn Tilbrook and Chris Difford of Squeeze. Warming up, no doubt, for their reunion tour of the U.K. and U.S., which kicks off this Thursday night in London, Messrs. Difford & Tilbrook treated the stunned crowd to acoustic versions of seven gems from their formidable catalog, and sounded as good as ever. (Truly, Tilbrook's voice -- among the finest in rock and roll history -- is still a wonder to behold, even though he turns 50 next month.) And to our good fortune, a taper was hooked into the soundboard. Now if I could only find some pictures of the appearance to go with the tunes.

UPDATE: Pictures are here, here and here. (Thanks to David R. for sending them along.)

CHRIS DIFFORD & GLENN TILBROOK - Live at Hawkhurst, Kent, U.K. - July 7, 2007

01 Take Me, I'm Yours
02 Pulling Mussels (From The Shell)
03 Is That Love?
04 Tempted
05 Labeled With Love
06 Cool For Cats
07 Up The Junction

Friday, July 06, 2007

The One After 909

Although it's receiving far less fanfare than another recent anniversary (in the States anyway), one of the most pivotal events in music history -- some would say the spark that ignited the last 45 years of popular culture -- happened 50 years ago today, on July 6, 1957. That was the day that 15-year old Paul McCartney attended a summer garden fete at St. Peter's Church in Woolton, Liverpool, where he saw a ragged performance by a group of teenaged skiffle musicians called The Quarrymen. The leader of that band, to whom Paul was introduced later in the day, was 16-year-old John Lennon. In a brief chat before the evening set, Paul showed John how he tuned his guitar, and accompanied himself on some Eddie Cochran, Gene Vincent and Little Richard tunes. Within 3 months, The Quarrymen had a new, left-handed guitar player, and the rest, as they say . . .

Of course this is all a much bigger deal in the U.K., and on June 26, the BBC broadcast a really nice hour-long special on this momentous anniversary, The Day John Met Paul, featuring interviews with Sir Paul, Cynthia Lennon, little brother Mike McCartney and original members of The Quarrymen, as well as -- get this -- a brief recording made on the fateful day. Charged, as I am, with bringing BBC goodness to deprived music geeks across the pond, I just had to snag a copy for the TTT faithful. Listen, learn, and think about how perfectly the planets had to be aligned, not just for these two young scruffs to meet 50 years ago today, but for them even to be alive at the same time, and in the same little part of the world. In my book, it's one of the miracles of history.

THE DAY JOHN MET PAUL - BBC special broadcast on June 26, 2007
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Happy Independence Day

In Atlanta, about 60,000 of us celebrate the Fourth of July by running in the world's largest 10k race, the Peachtree Road Race. I will tell you, there's nothing like running 6.2 miles at 8:00 am and then heading straight to my favorite Atlanta pub, The Prince of Wales, and slamming a few pints and a great cheeseburger, all well before 10:00 am. It's a tradition, and one that makes Independence Day maybe my favorite holiday of the year. My buddy Roger and I just accomplished our annual mission of not dying, at least long enough to get another buzz on.

To celebrate, check the MP3 below of the Boss from his solo Ghost of Tom Joad tour in 1996 for a very different take on "Born In The USA." (And be sure to go to fellow Atlantan Captain's Dead to get the rest of this magnificent recording). I saw this show in Memphis, and I can say it's definitely on my list of top 10 concerts of all time.

MP3: Bruce Springsteen - "Born In The USA" - Live from the University of Akron (9.25.96)

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Walking On The Moon

As promised, an update on the trip to New Orleans to witness the return of The Police. Suffice to say that Sting and the boys comprised 1/3 of my favorite musical trifecta in the early '80s, along with The Clash and U2. Unlike the latter two bands perhaps, The Police never made it their mission to try to change the world, but were really about no more than composing near-perfect pop songs tastefully flavored with a dash of punk and ladle of ska.

On the way into town, Ms. Rich and I had just been discussing the fact that, even though The Police were hugely popular in their day, "the kids" today don't seem to be especially familiar with them, despite the fact that their music has held up remarkably well. This point was not refuted by our early-20s hotel desk clerk, who gave us a blank stare when we told her that we were in town for The Police concert. I said to her, it's the band that Sting used to be in a long time ago. She smiled and replied, "My mom likes Sting. Do you think he'll be there?" I smiled back and said that I was pretty sure that he would be there.

After an immediate run to Mother's on Poydras for gumbo, etouffee, and a Bloody Mary or two from "Elvis," we wandered around the Quarter, settling in on the patio at Pat O's, where we kept it simple, but nevertheless whiled a few hours away in alcohol and the afternoon sun. After a pre-show po-boy, our pumps were primed for an evening with some favorite musical memories.

And the boys were in fine form. I had seen them on their "farewell" tour in 1984, which I recall as being something of a spectacle. Saturday night's show was very different from that. It was The Police stripped to the basics: no backup singers, no keyboards, nothing fancy (except for the giant video monitors above the stage). Even the stage banter and audience interaction were kept to a minimum, save a nice reference to the resilient spirit of New Orleans and a generous amount of encouraged sing-a-longs. It was just the three musicians ripping through one of the greatest songbooks in rock, for roughly two hours and three encores.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the setlist did not deviate dramatically from their biggest hits, although there were a few slightly less well-trodden cuts like "Truth Hits Everybody" and "Voices Inside My Head," which melted into "When The World Is Running Down, You Make The Best Of What's Still Around." Another favorite was a wonderfully rousing extended version of "Regatta De Blanc," on which I pretty much lost my voice (to the delight, I'm sure, of those around me).

And even though Sting may have seemed a little subdued in the chorus of "De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da," he genuinely seemed to be enjoying himself, as did Stewart Copeland (running as he did from drum kit to percussion station) and Andy Summers (attempting a few joyful, if ill-advised, mid-air splits). There even seemed to be some real camaraderie when Sting jokingly referred to "the Stewart Copeland Show" and "the Andy Summers Show" at that line in "So Lonely" that normally ends "welcome to this one-man show." They brought the house down with probably their biggest hit -- and maybe the biggest song of the '8os -- "Every Breath You Take," and then wrapped it all up with the song I left you with on Friday, "Next To You."

All in all, it was a spectacular night at the end of a perfect day. We followed the crowd back into the French Quarter afterward and made our way to that "Huge Ass Beers To Go" place, and then to our Bourbon Street balcony, walking on the moon.

MP3: The Police - "Truth Hits Everybody" (Live)
MP3: The Police - "Tea In The Sahara" (Live)

Monday, July 02, 2007

Classic Bootleg Series Vol. 14: Miles Davis & John Coltrane - Scheveningen, The Netherlands - April 1960

I've been meaning to detour into jazz territory for a while now, but first I needed to run down just the right version of this recording. This is the Miles Davis Quintet, recorded for a radio broadcast at the Kurhaus in Scheveningen, The Netherlands, in April of 1960. Of course, it's one thing to say that this is the Miles Davis Quintet, and quite another to remind you that tenor saxophone duties in that band were covered by a young man named John Coltrane. In fact, with the exception that neither Bill Evans (piano) nor Julian "Cannonball" Adderly (alto sax) were in attendence on this spring day in Holland, this is the same band that had recorded frequent best-jazz-album-ever candidate Kind of Blue less than a year earlier.

A more "vintage" (that is, older and more trebly) version of this recording has circulated for decades, but in 2005, it was re-broadcast in the Netherlands, presumably from the archival master tapes, and that's the version I'm giving you here. (The slightly obtrusive comments by the announcer at beginning and end are a small price to pay for near-pristine sound.) And the performance is nothing less than sublime. In fact, this is a perfect snapshot of the Davis Quintet at a pivotal point in its development, squarely between the distinctive "hard bop" sound that characterized its classic late 50s recordings (Cookin', Steamin', Workin' and Relaxin') and the "modal" colors with which Davis (first with Coltrane, and then without) essentially revolutionized jazz between 1959 and the early-to-mid 1960s. The contrast in styles is no more evident than on the stunning 17-minute version of "So What" that kicks off this set, and sets Miles' understated cool and impeccable tone against 'Trane's incendiary virtuosity. I hope that all of our readers who are jazz buffs, but also everyone who has enjoyed the brilliant musicianship that we have sampled at every step in this series, from classic rock to punk, and from power pop to indie rock, will take the time to appreciate that these cats -- as much as Bob Dylan and The Beatles a few years later -- were the giants, and true musical revolutionaries, of their day.

MILES DAVIS QUINTET (feat. JOHN COLTRANE) - Kurhaus, Scheveningen, The Netherlands - April 9, 1960

No artwork available (if you have some, please send it!)

Personnel: Miles Davis (trumpet); John Coltrane (tenor sax); Wynton Kelly (piano); Paul Chambers (bass); Jimmy Cobb (drums)

01 intro (circa 2005)
02 So What
03 On Green Dolphin Street
04 'Round Midnight
05 Walkin'
06 The Theme
07 outro (circa 2005)