Monday, July 16, 2007

The Man from A.C.R.O.N.Y.M.

A few random noises from the back of my brain:

1) Collaborations
Outside of "Under Pressure," has there ever been a team-up that's really delivered on promise?
- Blind Faith? Probably not so much.
- McCartney/Costello? Admittedly, the best work on the four albums (two for each artist) that the songs appeared on, with a few that I'd consider classics. "Veronica" and "My Brave Face," and especially "So Like Candy." But there was also a lot of filler on both albums. I keep meaning to make myself a super-mix of all their co-compositions, and see how that flows as an album.
- and.... anything else?

2) C.H.U.D.
This has an internal contradiction that bugs me. To wit: they'd actually have to be human underground dwellers, in order to be cannibals. As it is, they're just man-eating humanoid underground dwellers. Although I suppose a film about mutants that live in the sewers and just eat each other might be kind of interesting...

3) Tom Waits
The man needs to back off the overdriven, drunken wombat in a cavernous bathroom vocals over fucked-up tuned percussion and dissonant electric accordion. Man, it's been done. At this point, the most avant-garde, visionary thing he could do would be to go into the studio with a tight four-piece and deliver some songs with melodies, while sober.

4) Deathly Hallows
It occurs to me that my Harry Potter book 7 will arrive the day after I leave for Vermont and Maine. Therefore, I will avoid all sources of news between midnight Thursday and midnight Sunday, at which point I will start reading and not sleep until I read 'The End.' I wonder, are you allowed to call in sick with a "Harry Potter Hangover?"

5) Vista
Just sat and really used it for the first time on my dad's new Toshiba laptop, today. And all I have to say is: what an unusable hunk of shit. And I'm not even one of those anti-Microsoft people; I think Office (particularly Word) is an elegant and powerful set of programs, and (let's face it) Entourage is a better integrated app than iCal and Mac Mail. I mean, I still prefer Mac Mail, but iCal still hasn't gotten it together, and I'm beginning to wonder if they ever will.

But, really - Vista? Bad. Godawful. In fact. they haven't yet invented a word to properly describe this needlessly complex and inefficient experiment in hostile senility wrapped in day-glo, so I'm coining one now. It's Vista. As in, "Wow, that's really Vista." "Yeah, totally Vista, dude. I'm so sorry."

The Vista abortion and Zune together, combined with the recent XBox multi-billion dollar fixes just prove that Microsoft really has serious, serious development and rollout problems. We'll see what happens with Microsoft Surface (which I'm admittedly still pretty wowed by), but given their recent track record, it will probably come contaminated with the Ebola Virus, or after twenty hours of non-continuous use, it starts to give users random high-voltage shocks. Of course, since it looks like they're planning on an airport lounge only market, I'm guessing that all the business travelers will be too zonked on Mai-Tais to notice.

I wonder: who will be the first to email a nude full body shot of themselves to the LAX "Skywings" bar Surface? I'd like to shake that man's hand.



Unknown said...

Yeah, Tom Waits, I stopped at Mule Variations... so I haven't missed much?

Anonymous said...

Tough crowd about Tom Waits. I'll give you that he has his sound (which is drunken wombats or whatever you said) but it is his alone and within that structure there are still songs of intense beauty. The last disc had some very interesting stuff. There are so many bands that find that thing they do well and stick to it (your boy Paul included). That's not to say that he doesn't write good songs. It means that I see no real growth or challenge in his music anymore...... and that's fine. We all enjoy some music that has a sound that is pleasantly familiar as if it's our favorite blankie bringing back fond memories of childhood. I guess I just enjoy unpleasanty familiar music.

I know I won't change your mind on this (I seldom do) but with all the bands that blantanly rip off themselves in a far less original way time and time again, he seems an unlikely target. Just my 2 cents.


Dave Kopperman said...

"To those whom much is given, much is expected"

In other words, what works for AC/DC - record, rinse, repeat - doesn't for an artist like Tom Waits. Admittedly, he was kind of a hokey cliché with his late-period beat poet routine in the mid-70's, but his 80's trio of SwordfishTrombones, Rain Dogs and Frank's Wile Years broke that mold completely - particularly when coupled with "Big Time."

All I'm asking for is a little variance. I can't believe an artist of his stature would be happy with essentially the same sound for close to twenty years.

And believe it or not, Paul does vary his sound. A quick scan of even just his singles over the last fifteen years shows - but the albums moreso.


Anonymous said...

But have you truly listened to "Blood Money", "Alice" and his new one "Orphans" as albums? They aren't just him screaming into a bullhorn with maracas. "Alice" has a truly subdued and elegant sound and some of those songs are his best IMO. "Orphans" is a strange album that has quite a few twists and turns that I didn't see coming. I'll give you "Real Gone". Way too noisy and meandering for me. Tom trying too hard to be "Tom". I think he's learned from that. Every artist has a overly self aware period.

I expect a lot from Tom as well but he ain't gonna do a techno album and we both know that. His talent is in telling those sad and twisted stories while finding the right feel to get that point across. It doesn't always work and he does use the same instrumentation often but any artist that has gone to such great lengths to sound so unique ends up a little typecast in their own roles (Primus, The Cure, Yes, 311, King Crimson).

Each one of us knows what we will and will not accept from an artist and when we cry "uncle". But who we decide to chastize and agrandize is a very personal choice. And we all have albums that others may chastize that we still defend to the death, without any real defending argument.

"It takes different stokes to move the world". What'chu talkin 'bout, Willis?

Unknown said...

Wow, is that Heinz? I thought it was just me and Tony Millionarie and the Easter Bunny on this thing...

Anonymous said...

In the flesh, johnny boy. Large and in charge.

Dave Kopperman said...

Wow. It's a blog, and a social club.

Anyway: the conversation between Rick and I could go a lot like the conversation between John and I about "Fire Walk With Me."

It's true that I haven't really delved into TW's later stuff with any great effort, but you do bring up Yes, and I put it back to you: sure, no-one wants TW to do a techno album, but considering what a departure - and a welcome, excellent album 90125 was - any artist can surprise with a new direction. Provided the direction fits.

Anyway, I'm not asking for a radical shift. I'd just kind of like for him to do a straightforward electric combo record. Like an early Sun Records Elvis thing. Wouldn't that be nice?


Anonymous said...

You bring up Yes but, like TW, this was done when? Over 20 years ago. And where is this new sound for the new century that Yes is cooking up? That's what I thought.

Some artists have several changes in them through their career, some have only a few and some none. It is very hard to escape who we are. We can only change (grow, mutate, mature, etc) with time and even then it may be only slight.

Enough about this nonsense. I will leave you with this thought: There are some songs on the new Orphans album that have just what you suggested. Less exageration and flourish and more heart. Simple, basic and good.

BTW, I've called a couple of times to see how Yesenia is doing? You no call. Me sad. I've got some big news too!

Dave Kopperman said...

Yeah - I keep meaning to call, but my schedule (with three jobs and a house falling down around my ears) has just been extra-lame. John can attest that I haven't been able to even get down to NYC and hang out in the last few months.

Hopefully, this will correct itself in the next month or so.

I'm guessing the news is either baby or music realted?

It's funny, I just realized that the band reinvention I'd like to hear from TW is a pretty common thread for artists. Paul did it after Linda died - "Run, Devil, Run" with some of the most interesting guitar work from David Gilmour, ever. Paul's originals are weak, but there's only three of them, and the rest of the album is given over to some really excellent covers.

I dunno. my problem with TW is the same as with David Lynch. Mining territory until it's thoroughly mined, and then digging until you reach the mantle just doesn't hold my interest, especially in the case of artists (who, as you note) have very distinctive sounds.

For the record: I haven't bought a new Yes album since 1995, and I don't own a few of their albums from the late 70's. So those feelings hold for me even with artists I have in my top twenty.

Also, totally off topic: Yes's best record? Pick up "Time and a Word," 1969. Beyond awesome.