Five Things: Wednesday, 28th May

Hal Blaine
In donating to Denny Tedesco’s Kickstarter campaign to get his Wrecking Crew documentary released, my treat, or reward, is a copy of Hal Blaine’s biography, which is fascinating, if plagued by the weaknesses of a self-published book: terrible proofreading, a fair amount of repetition and the kind of stuff an editor might ask (like – where’s the chapter about recording Bridge Over Troubled Water?). All that notwithstanding, it’s full of interesting detail on the man who, as Richard Williams wrote, “…virtually created a style by himself and became an elder statesman among West Coast session percussionists”. Here’s one of my favorite details: “Phil Spector is the only producer I’ve ever known who always had an extra 2-track recorder running constantly from the beginning of every session. Everything said or played went on tape, and it was quite a trick. Musicians often walk into the studio cold and start warming up in their own way before the tracking begins. They come up with strange riffs, and when asked what they’ve played they never remember. Not so at Phil’s sessions. He would ask, play back the lick and say, ‘Remember that, I want it on the front of the bridge’. Phil would pick out the nuggets he wanted and by playing them back, make them history (so many musicians play incredible warm-ups and never know it).” See the music player on the right for Hal live with S&G.

Eric Yahnker, Sticks & Drones, Paradise Row Gallery, Newman Street
Cactus Guitar/Bizarre Ferlin Husky-Mariah Carey interface/Obama watches Miley on wrecking ball through White House window. (click to enlarge).

Gallery

Daniel Lanois, The Barbican, Monday
From the opening two songs, both played solo on the pedal steel that sits towards the back of the stage, I start to anticipate a great gig. As clouds of distortion weave around the edges of the theatre, parting to reveal a clear shaft of melodic sunlight, I remember what I always loved about Lanois’ sound. Like a curdled, clotted version of Red Rhodes, he’s the master of the almost-resolved filigree, of the blur coming into focus, of a heavenly melody. As the last notes die away in a swoosh and buzz someone in the audience shouts “Turn the volume down!” And it all goes a bit south from there. “I’ll do whatever you want if you come up on stage. Otherwise I’ll see you after the show…” He straps on his gold top Les Paul and, although there are flashes of brilliance, he’s just not a very interesting songwriter and a fairly woeful lyricist. And despite great bass and drums from Steven Nistor and Jim Wilson it doesn’t really catch fire for me, especially when Emmylou Harris comes on to play Wrecking Ball. The problem of playing one album in sequence, especially one that is so locked in to a particular sonic palette is that there’s almost no room for the music to breathe, and it’s not helped by Emmylou’s unvarying approach to each song. I’ve never really warmed to any of her records and I finally realised why – I find her voice unyielding and somehow lacking warmth, warmth that her duet partners, be they Dylan, Earle or Parsons, bring in spades. I felt bad that I didn’t enjoy it more.

From Our Woodstock Correspondent
John Cuneo writes: Having a bunch of colleagues over tomorrow, and they’ll all have to drive through town while this is going on. Such a goofy place this is… “It takes a lot to laugh, it may take seven hours of lip-synching Bob Dylan for Linda Montano to cry. The performance artist, known for her endurance pieces, will be impersonating the former Robert Zimmerman atop a 14-foot lift in front of the Kleinert/James Art Center in Woodstock on May 24 from noon to 7 pm in honor of Dylan’s 73rd birthday. The Dylan endurance outside the Kleinert/James stems from Montano’s realization that her family members look like Bob Dylan. She adopted the Dylan persona in order to “be like my brothers, having always wanted to be a man as a child—knowing that they were always getting the better cultural deal,” she says. Montano’s interest in Dylan, and other historical figures whom she has portrayed, like Mother Theresa, are intricately linked to her investigations of the blurred boundaries and interconnections between art and life: between being, having been, and wanting to be—not be anything at all. Here’s Linda Mary Montano posing as a young Bob Dylan. New York City, 1989.

Linda

Only just caught up with this…
…“Royals” cover in Lorde’s home town. Bruce adds a judicious ”fucking” into “Every song’s like, Gold Teeth, Grey Goose, trippin’ in the bathroom…” and changes ”We crave a different kind of buzz” to “kind of love”, Queen Bee to King Bee (nice Muddy Waters link there) and generally gives it a bang-up performance.

 

Comments

  1. martin
    The Bruce track is wonderful but forgive my ignorance? What is the original.
    I have a number of CDs called Alternate by Beatles and also Bob Dylan. Is the version of Fakin’ It from a similar type for Simon and Garfunkel. If so I must find it!
    David

    • The original is the massive hit by Auckland-born teenager Lorde, new pop sensation. She’s good. And S+G’s from a bootleg called Alternate Bookends…

  2. You’re so right about Lanois – great as some of his productions have been, as a recording artist/songwriter/live act he is woeful. And why do we feel guilty that the great Emmylou moves us so little? Is she best in duets, or with the Hot Band live a long time back. I always wonder if I forgot to genuflect on the way in.

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