Thursday, May 13, 2010

Quick Listening Notes

It's been a while since I had an entire evening devoted to listening to music. Here's what was spun on the old deck:

Donald Byrd, Byrd in Hand (Blue Note, Classic Records reissue in mono). This is a very enjoyable set, as are most of Byrd's Blue Note blowing sessions, before he went Funking Up My Life (yes, that's a title of one of his later albums--actually it's Thank You for F.U.M.L. (ed. ROTFLMAO!)) But this is a straight bop session where Byrd plays in his typically polished style that goes down real easy. I also like Pepper Adams on this album. No one makes a baritone sax growl like Pepper Adams.

Roxy Music, Stranded. I've been listening to a lot of Roxy Music lately, especially the early stuff. I've made peace with Bryan Ferry, whose singing/crooning style and warbling voice seemed like such an affectation to the point of being annoying. Yes, it's total affectation. Some critics have interpreted it as being ironic, which, as we all know, is the humor of the resigned. Let me share my recent revelation: Ferry is faking the irony. The over-the-top crooning is just to throw us off, it's the shield that guards his earnest romanticism. Then there's also adventurous music-making on the early albums, thanks to Brian Eno (though not on Stranded) and Phil Manzanera.

Gerry Mulligan, Mainstream in Jazz (Emarcy). I picked up this monophonic original pressing from 1956 for cheap because it looked beat up. After cleaning it on the record cleaning machine, it actually played real nicely. You never know with vinyl records. I've also had pristine-looking records play like Rice Krispies. Unlike Pepper Adams, Mulligan's baritone is smooth as velvet. This session features a pianoless sextet playing cool West Coast jazz and it really Swings. It doesn't hurt to have Zoot Sims playing tenor.

The Byrds, Turn! Turn! Turn! (Columbia mono original pressing). This was the only album of the listening session that sounded dated. I was trying to figure out what made the music sound so dated. After the first three songs, it occurred to me that each one had Clark, McGuinn and Crosby singing in harmony most of the time. No one sings that much harmony anymore, whereas the 60s had the Beach Boys, Simon and Garfunkel, the Righteous Brothers, etc., etc. Well, there are some bands now introducing more harmonic singing, like Grizzly Bear, but they do it oh so lamely. Fuck you, Grizzly Bear!

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