Monday, July 27, 2009

What I've been listening to today.

Grateful Dead - July 26, 1972.
Live from the Paramount Theatre, Portland, OR.

A truly fantastic recording of an outstanding concert. It is indeed a long one, so you will have to brace yourself. This is the Dead in their utter prime. You get both the country/western and the psychedelic in one big package. The concert is available from in streaming format and you can also listen to it with the player at the bottom of this post.

The version of "Dark Star" played on this gig is one of the best I have ever heard. Clocking in at almost exact thirty minutes it is truly out there. The midsection after the first verse when they go into this really jazzy rhythm section is something everyone with a love for Grateful Dead should hear.

You also get great versions of "He's Gone", "Ramble on Rose" and "Stella Blue". Three of my all time favourite Grateful Dead songs.

Set I:
1. Tuning
2. Cold Rain And Snow
3. Black Throated Wind
4. Mississippi Half-Step
5. Mexicali Blues
6. Sugaree
7. El Paso
8. China Cat Sunflower ->
9. I Know You Rider
10. Jack Straw
11. Tennessee Jed
12. Playing In The Band
13. Casey Jones

Set II:
14. The Promised Land
15. He's Gone
16. Me and My Uncle
17. You Win Again
18. Greatest Story Ever Told
19. Ramble On Rose
20. Dark Star ->
21. Comes A Time
22. Sugar Magnolia
23. Brown Eyed Woman
24. Beat It On Down The Line
25. Stella Blue
26. Not Fade Away ->
27. Goin' Down The Road Feelin' Bad ->
28. Not Fade Away

29. One More Saturday Night

Listen to the concert here:

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Sunday soundtrack

Wayne Shorter - Speak No Evil
(Blue Note, 1964)

After a stroll in the park, eating icecream on a bench and going home with a cup of takeaway coffee from the nearby coffeeshop we are now doing some reading and letting Wayne Shorter along with Ron Carter, Freddie Hubbard, Elvin Jones and Herbie Hancock serenade us with some classic american jazz. Speak No Evil, recorded on Christmas Eve 1964, was Shorter's third release on Blue Note within a year. The first one he really found his own voice. And now 45 years later it is making some soothing sunday sounds in a small appartment in Oslo, Norway.

Wayne Shorter - Fee-Fi-Fo-Fum

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Shed a tear for the fate of the last lonely eagle..

Just heard the news that John "Marmaduke" Dawson, founder of New Riders Of The Purple Sage, died. Dawson was 64 years old. So this little post is my humble tribute to him.

Dawson founded New Riders Of The Purple Sage in 1969 with guitarist David Nelson and Jerry Garcia from Grateful Dead. They were joined by Phil Lesh and Mickey Hart, both from the Dead. The two latter were later replaced by Dave Torbert and Spencer Dryden. New Riders released a bunch of great albums in the early seventies, especially the debut New Riders Of The Purple Sage (1971), Powerglide (1972), Gypsy Cowboy (1972) and The Adventures of Panama Red (1973).

John Dawson also contributed to the Grateful Dead albums Aoxomoxoa, Workingman's Dead and American Beauty. He co-wrote the hit "Friend of the Devil" from American Beauty.

So it's a great loss, but he will be playing on in that great gig in the sky with Garcia. And for the rest of us, the music lives on.

New Riders Of The Purple Sage - Last Lonely Eagle

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

New discovery

Brett Dennen - Hope For The Hopeless
(Dualtone, 2008)

Read about this California singer/songwriter in the latest issue of the british rockmagazine Uncut. They reviewed this album and gave it four of five stars which in turn triggered my curiosity. Been listening to this, his third release, all night and it sounds really good. It may lack a bit of diversity, but sometimes that's ok. Dennen writes good popsongs in the same vein as Josh Rouse and good ol' James Taylor. My favourites so far are the album opener "San Francisco", a great song about a city I visited last year and long to come back to, and the song "Heaven" which the title of the album is taken from.

So is there any hope for the hopeless, well, I certainly hope so.

Brett Dennen - San Francisco

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Visit my friends..

I just made a mixtape of Norwegian music for the fantastic folks over at the blog When You Awake. You can download it from their site, they even made some great looking art to go with the mix.

Look what I just bought

Bought some albums over the weekend, some better than others but they all are really good. Highly recomended for everyone.

Magnolia Electric Co. - Josephine
(Secretly Canadian, 2009)

Magnolia Electric Co. - Josephine

Sonic Youth - The Eternal
(Matador, 2009)

Sonic Youth - Antenna (Live at Later.. with Jools Holland)

The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart - S/T
(Slumberland Records, 2009)

The Pains of Being Pure At Heart - Everything With You

Sunset Rubdown - Dragonslayer
(Jagjaguwar, 2009)

Sunset Rubdown - Idiot Heart

I've been waiting for something good to come my way..

The Kinks - Wait Till The Summer Comes Along
from Well Respected Kinks (Marble Arch, 1966)

I must have heard this Dave Davies tune many many times before, but today it really stood out from the rest of the songs on my mom's old compilation-album. Originally released on the US-version of their third album.

A great little song, and for the very british sounding Kinks it really is a little piece of americana.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Sunrise doesn't last all morning..

Everyone should check out Jim James', vocalist from My Morning Jacket, new release. It's available from his website, . That's his moniker for this and further solo releases. I guess it's because of the way he writes his signature. This first release is an EP of George Harrison covers. Recorded in the aftermath of hearing the news of Harrison's passing back in 2001. Go to the site and buy the EP, you can listen to it below:

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Time machine: January 19th, 1999

Bonnie 'Prince' Billy - I See a Darkness
(Palace Records, 1999)

To write something meaningful about this album is harder than one would think. Not because there isn't alot to say, but because words became small when you have to explain the kind of feelings you experience when listening to this record. One of my all time favourite records, but not the first I heard by Bonnie 'Prince' Billy or Will Oldham if you will. My introduction to the man and artist were first a few years later, maybe a year after the release of Master and Everyone in 2003. So I first heard him or really listened to him in 2004, but still, when I first discovered this album I was truly lost in it.

First of all, the album contains the song that is Will Oldham's magnus opus, the title track "I See a Darkness". A track close to being perfect, not flawless but perfect. The way his voice cracks. The warm sound and the somewhat dark and cold lyrics. A song you just have to feel. A song you always have to really hear - it deserves that. Fittingly Johnny Cash covered it on his third Rick Rubin produced album, American III: Solitary Man. Background vocals courtesy of Will Oldham himself.

Other favourites on the album are "Nomadic Revery (All Around)", "Death to Everyone", "Today I Was an Evil One" and the album closer "Raining in Darling". The latter may be my favourite of all Will Oldham's songs. Short but uplifting, a perfect way to close an album filled with darkness.

Yes, the album is dark, but never in a way that feels depressing. Not for me anyway. Maybe it is his voice, maybe the warm sound - I don't know. It's not a happy album, but still far from depressing. Well, now I tried to write something about it - but words just won't do.

"O, it don't rain anymore
I go outdoors
Where it's fun to be"

Bonnie 'Prince' Billy - "Raining in Darling"

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Time machine: March 8th, 1999

Silverchair - Neon Ballroom
(Sony/Murmur/Columbia, 1999)

Maybe not the music you would guess that I like, but ten years ago in 1999 when this was released I was sixteen years old. Raging with hormones and emotions like all other teenagers. Silverchair was one of the bands that really meant alot to me, maybe especially this album. Neon Ballroom was the third album by the Australian trio, still in their teens themselves and maybe at the peek of their creative powers. Even though in my humble opinion Diorama from 2002 is their masterpiece, if they have one.

If you put on Neon Ballroom today it may sound a little dated. The band obviously were big fans of Nirvana and the whole grunge-wave of the early nineties, as were I. Anyhow, it's a bit fun to listen back to it now - so many memories that pop up in my mind. Some good, others really really embarassing. The most embarassing is to think of how much the somewhat cliche-filled lyrics meant the world to me. Some samples underneath.

From "Emotion Sickness"

"Emotion sickness
Addict with no heroin
Emotion sickness
Distorted eyes
when everything is clearly dying"

From "Black Tangled Heart"

"Maybe you'll kill yourself
Before I get a turn
Maybe I'll fall in love
And never learn"

That said, the record is quite good - maybe not so great now that I am in my mid-twenties, but for every teenager there still is enough of teenage angst and emotional lyrics going on here. My favourites at the time were "Anthem for the Year 2000", "Ana's Song (Open Fire)", "Miss You Love" and "Black Tangled Heart". Needless to say, I was a sucker for the ballads with emotional lyrics.

"Ana's Song (Open Fire)" is a song about the songwriter and vocalist Daniel Johns struggle with anorexia at the time. A song I guess others in the same situation would relate to and I myself thought and still thinks are quite gripping.

So, that's the time machine for you.

Silverchair - "Ana's Song (Open Fire)"

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Time machine: May 29th, 1969

Crosby, Stills and Nash - Crosby, Stills and Nash
(Atlantic, 1969)

Some albums are destined to be classics, the debut by the trio Crosby, Stills and Nash certainly was one of them. Released forty years ago it still sound as fresh as ever. One of the first real supergroups and for many the sound and voices of a generation that hoped for a better world. The generation later described as the Woodstock-generation. Little did they know that the seventies would be radically different from the hopes and new thoughts of the late sixties. Nevertheless this album stands as a testament of those times, not only for those who were there but also for all the younger generations that still pick up this classic.

The album opens with the Stephen Stills penned epic "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes". A song that is built up by different segments. Stills recalls that these segments "poured out over several months and filled several notebooks.." and then got the idea to join all these segments into one long suite. The result was the classic album opener. The song was inspired by Stills' muse at the time, the folksinger Judy Collins.

Next up is one of my all time favourite feelgood songs. Graham Nash's "Marrakesh Express" was in fact written for his band at the time, the Hollies. They woudn't record it and that was the start of Nash's departure from the band. He left the Hollies in 1968, moved to Laurel Canyon in L.A., fell in with David Crosby and Stephen Stills and well, shall we call it a match made in heaven? The song was written after Nash had been on a train between Casablanca and Marrakesh back in 1966.

The third song was written by David Crosby. After being kicked out of the Byrds back in 1967/68 he focused all of his time on beeing the total scenester in the L.A.-scene. He knew everyone worth knowing and always kept an open house up in Laurel Canyon, but he also wrote songs. Excellent jazzy-folk songs in strange time signatures and melodies. One of his greatest is this one, "Guinnevere". The song is rumoured to be about both his girlfriend at the time, Christine Hinton and the singer/songwriter Joni Mitchell.

Talking of Joni Mitchell, she is also the inspiration behind the Graham Nash song "Our House". A song that describes the day to day life for the couple in love in their house in Laurel Canyon. This was also one of the biggest hits the group ever had. That song can be found on the album Deja Vu, recorded by the then Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. More about that album some other time.

The debut of Crosby, Stills and Nash is an album full of gems and classic songs. Fantastic harmonies unparalleled by anyone. If you have any doubts about that just go listen to "Helplessly Hoping", "You Don't Have to Cry" or the already mentioned "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes".

A true classic, every home should have at least one copy of this album.

"Helplessly Hoping" and "Long Time Gone" live from Woodstock, 1969: