Essays on Music
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Desert Island Disc
I wrote that Obscure no.5 & no.10 can be my desert island discs in the review a few days ago. Then, I started thinking about my desert island discs.
To select the discs, it is important to specify the situation. What kind of desert island to go. Is there electricity or audio system? Do I have to collect foods to survive? Is that island tropical? Or can I return to my home? If so when? etc etc.
The desert island which came to my imagination first is some kind of resort island. You know, there are some gorgeous resort hotels which occupy the entire small islands. So, there could be a special guest room island which locates near the hotel island! Only one cottage room in one small island. There is electricity and water, bath, air conditioner, bed, audio system. If I call the room service, the hotel people will bring nice food and wine in the boat, and set the table. What a paradise! And my desert island will be located somewhere in Asia because I don't want to take a long flight from Japan. I'll take 10 day vacation there.
How do I carry my music? If the destination is such a paradise, I think I can bring anything. For example, if I bring notebook computer with 30GB, I can carry almost everything in MP3. However, this seems to be too much. This spoils the essence of the desert island disc question. So, I decide to select ten discs to bring to the island. This seems to be the rule of the game. And I would like to enjoy the silence and the sound of nature in the island; it is good to have well selected small number of discs.
What kind of music do I bring? First of all, I would like to hear some tropical music, Brazilian music and some Asian music. Second, it is good to have cool down music for the night time. Third, also it is better to have some personal/intimate singer-song-writer music because there is none to talk with in the island. (Ah, I'd better go with a young lover!)
So, here are my desert island discs!
1. João Gilberto: The Legendary João Gilberto
2. Quarteto Em Cy: Antologia do Samba Cancao
3. Elizeth Cardoso: A Bossa Eterna de Elizeth e Cyro
4. Caetano Veloso: Fina Estampa
5. Sandii: Pacific Lounge Classics
6. Mandala Jati Ensemble of Tagas: Gamelan Semarpeguligan 2
7. Bill Evans: Waltz for Debby
8. J.S. Bach: The Goldberg Variations (Glenn Gould)
9. Harold Budd: The Pavilion of Dreams
10. Joni Mitchell: Night Ride Home
Desert Island Disc 2
You might argue that my desert island discs (See 2/July) are against the rule. They are rather resort island discs, you might say. If you say so, that's right.
However, I cannot imagine the Cast Away (2000) situation; forced to live in a desert island by the plane or ship accident. In that situation, I cannot choose the discs. If the desert island disc question means a thing, it should be the situation that I decide to go to the desert island with selected discs on my own will. Right?
O.K.. Let's think the unthinkable situation. Suppose I am living in the desert island by some accident. I am looking forward to something drifted to the beach. I am searching for foods, drinks and the something I can communicate with the outside island. And I might be searching for the records.
What kind of record? Of course, there is no electricity or audio system. It should be useful to survive in the island. I think that there might be 4 possible categories of album which might be useful.
1. The album with a big booklet. It's good to have something to read anyway.
2. The album with good cover art. Too sexy cover is not good. It might make me insane.
3. The album with a lot of memories. Without hearing it, I can remember many events in my life.
4. The album can be used other than its original use.
Of course, I cannot choose the record, I only wish there were a record. So, maybe only one record is more than a miracle to get. One record in the true desert island situation.
My selection is the first edition of The Return of the Durutti Column (1979). Because this first edition's cover is made of sandpaper! (The left is the album cover of the second edition.) This is very useful to make some tools to survive! (But the first edition is very limited issue, and ultra rare item. It is the most unlikely item to find on the desert island beach.)
On the contrary to the aggressive album cover design, the sound of this album is very calm, gentle, sad, and so pure. I used to hear this record for many times. I can remember almost everything without hearing it. I can recall many events in my life with the music in my mind. And the sound of this record might fit to the chill air of desert island at the dawn.
Shishosetsu / Lost Canadians / Genealogy of Solitude
I wrote Minae Mizumura's "Shishosetsu from left to right" was the Japanese/English bilingual novel, but forgot to write that this could be a trilingual novel. The heroine in the novel, Minae, studies French literature in the graduate school. (The name of the University is not written, but obviously it is Yale University.) So, there sometimes appear the French sentences without translations or explanation. She is leading a trilingual life in the United States. Studying French literatures in English with reading a lot of Japanese literatures. Of course, living in English, feeling a strong sense of isolation and solitude, and desperately longing to go back to Japan.
Mizumura wrote in "Shishosetsu from left to right" (Poorly translated into English by me, except italic parts are written in English originally):
Lonely but free.
I think these are the words everyone could have said, but Nanae insists these are the words of Brahms. And she says to me, "It would be good, if I can feel 'lonely but free', but I feel 'free but lonely'."
Free but lonely.
Actually, depending on which word comes last, the quality of the loneliness differs a lot. I think Evelyn would say 'lonely but free' for sure. (.......)
I asked her. "Do you see your daughters once in a while?" Evelyn said, "Oh yeah. I sometimes drive up to see them." "You drive up to see them?" I heard they were living in the Middle West of the U.S.. "Yeah. It only takes a few days." She replied as it was usual. She takes her big dog as a body guard, and travels with sleeping in a car. "You know what's so wonderful about driving alone?" Evelyn asked me with lifting a shaped-up pretty face, shining her eyes. I could see her waking up in the dawn, walking out of the car, while the sun rising up to the sky brightly. "I feel so happy! So totally free!"
"Home is not a place to return to" .
I replied to the words of Madame Ellman, "Well, I think I'd be quite lonely in Japan." She said, "But you know, loneliness is the best condition of a writer." It was a decisive voice. What she says is always philosophical. It is because she thinks that way as her nature is, but it is also because she handles the words far from everyday language, as a nature of the person who speaks foreign language.
These situations somehow reminds me of Canadian artists, which I call the lost Canadians. Keyword is solitude.
Leonard Cohen Lewis Furey Carole Laure
Who are the lost Canadians?
First of all, three Quebec born artists' name came to mind; Leonard Cohen, Lewis Furey, and Carole Laure. Quebec is French speaking region in Canada. So, these people are naturally bilingual.
Leonard Cohen was born in English speaking Jewish family in French speaking Quebec in English speaking Canada. This is already complex cultural situation. He naturally (?) became a bohemian. He used to live in many places. (Some says he once lived in the desert island in Greece.) His songs are very deep, and "he sank beneath your wisdom like a stone."
I already wrote about Lewis Furey and Carole Laure in the review. They found their place in France. They became the successor of French/Tango music in a provocative way.
The Band Daniel Lanois Neil Young
When discussing French Canadians, we cannot help remembering the Band's impressive song, "Acadian Driftwood". This is the song about Acadian people. They were the immigrants from France who first come to the North America. The war between England and France forced them out of Acadia. Some of them moved back to France, others moved to Quebec and America, particularly New Orleans. So, Cajun foods are mixture of French and American.
I am not sure the members of the Band are French Canadians or not. However, their musical adventure is quite similar to this story of Acadian people who came to live in New Orleans. Most of members of the Band are Canadian. And they discovered the musical treasure of the traditional American music, and translated into the modern rock music when everyone was playing psychedelic rock. Their music is very rich like Cajun food. It is very interesting that the discovery of American music was done by Canadians. It might only be possible for the outsiders. You cannot "discover" thing when you are in it.
As for Acadian, I also remember Daniel Lanois' Acadie (1989). Before he released this album, he was a producer close to Brian Eno. His deep echo sound was very impressive in the works of Brian Eno and Peter Gabriel and, of course, U2.. After Acadie, we knew he was born in Quebec. And he was a musical successor of Acadians who came to New Orleans.
Neil Young was also born in Canada. Not in Quebec, but in Toronto. He, himself, became the main stream of American folk and rock music. But we can find the quality of lost Canadians. He changes his styles very often from acoustic music to noisy hard rock. But there is always a sense of Loneliness and Freeness in his music.
Joni Mitchell K.D. Lang Jane Sibbery
Along with loneliness and freeness, private-ness is the feature of Joni Mitchell. She sings,
Just before our love got lost you said,"I am as constant as a northern star." And I said, "Constant in the darkness. Where's that at? If you want me I'll be in the bar." On the back of a cartoon coaster in the blue T.V. screen light. I drew a map of Canada. Oh Canada. With your face sketched on it twice. Oh, you are in my blood like holy wine. You taste so bitter and so sweet. Oh I could drink a case of you, darling. And I would still be on my feet. I would be still on my feet.
Oh, this is so personal, just like Shishosetsu! She stands alone with drinking the bitterness of lost love. Lonely but free! Her invention of open tuning of the guitar and strange chord songs are so unique. She has a lot of followers. But none can really follow her.
This sense of private-ness, very naked-feeling about love, is inherited by K.D. Lang. When I first heard Ingenue (1992), the songs were like Cole Porter songs. But I was very surprise with the naked-ness and modernity of the lyrics. She also came to America from Canada, and re-discovered and re-invented the country music in a contemporary context. Though Jane Sibbery might be a little weaker, at least, it seems to me, she is also in the same context.
I should not end up my list of the lost Canadians without mentioning Glenn Gould, though he is a classical pianist.
Gould's piano is absolutely different from the conventional classical pianists. When you hear Gould's Bach or Mozart, it is completely contrary to your expectation. But it is not a new "interpretation" of Gould. It is stupid to think what Bach really meant when he wrote the music. Gould does not "interpret" music. He lets the music flow as it is. His piano is the ever changing flow of line. Very free from the interpretation, this can be very Canadian.
Gould also made the sound documentaries called "Solitude Trilogy". It is a series of radio documentary, but it is completely different from the ordinary ones. It is a tape collage of the voices of interviewees. In "The idea of North", five people speak about their thoughts about "the north" and solitude. Their voices are cut up and mixed up. Their voices made the polyphony of the speech. The lonely voices spoken in different time and place made the polyphony.
Solitude is not only standing alone, but it is also inter-connected!
Records for Holiday Season
It is December. It is Holiday season. Christmas songs are played everywhere. Let's not be cynical about it. I love Christmas songs, whatever they are. Let's pick up some records for holiday season, not necessarily Christmas records.
1. The Beach Boys : Ultimate Christmas (1998)
First of all, three albums come to my mind. They are Christmas albums of the Beach Boys, Elvis Presley and Phil Spector. They are very classical albums. Maybe, they are too famous. So, I pick up this. It includes classical "The Beach Boys' Christmas Album" (1964) and the session for another Christmas album in 1977 which were not released.
2. Elvis Presley : Amazing Grace(1994)
As for Elvis Presley, this gathers the gospel songs of Presley. Some of them were included in Presley's Christmas album. I think these gospel songs are the most sincere and beautiful singing of the King.
3. Various Artists : All About Christmas (1994)
Then, I try to pick up some Christmas compilation. There are few which I can hear repeatedly. The best one, I think, is the one chosen by Japanese critics, Touyo Nakamura. This gathers the old time Christmas songs of Jazz, popular, soul music, Latin, world music etc. Very trans-genre and trans-national.
4. Sandii : Sandii's Hawaiian X'mas (1998)
Sandii sings Christmas songs in Hawaiian style. The biggest surprise is the cover of "Last Christmas" of George Michael! So good. And "Miyagetegoran Yoru No Hoshi Wo" is so beautiful!
5. Laura Nyro : The Loom's Desire (2002)
This gathers the two Christmas concerts of Nyro. See this.
6. Joni Mitchell / Taming The Tiger (1998)
This is not the greatest album of Joni Mitchell. But this includes one of the greatest songs of Mitchell, "Face Lift". And it is a Christmas song. (I haven't got her new album, "Travelogue" (2002). Though it is already in the store, I haven't got the one I pre-ordered at the Amazon. This is what I want to hear right now)
7. Paul McCartney : All The Best (1987)
I'd like to hear sweet pop music in holiday season. It makes me nostalgic and happy. So, the best choice for that need is McCarteny's best albums. There are some best albums, but I like this one released in 1987. Maybe, it is because "All the Best" (1987) is more compact than "Wingspan" (2001). There are US version and UK version of this best album. There are some difference in the tracks. I prefer the US version which includes "Good Night Tonite", and ends up with "My Love".
8. Melissa Manchester : Don't Cry Out Loud (1978)
Don't judge this record by just hearing the famous weepy title track. Groovy and shining tracks like "Shine Like You Should ", "Caravan" ,"To Make You Smile Again" are the essential of this album. (I was so surprised to hear this version of "To Make You Smile Again" which I got used to the version of Carole Bayer Sager.) This albums is very soulful album with gorgeous string arrangement. Why is this album so good? Because it is produced by Leon Ware. And because songs written by Manchester are great. (Some songs were co-written with Carole Bayer Sager.) So, why is this for holiday season? Because it is so gorgeous.
9. Bruce Roberts : S.T. (1977)
Melissa Manchester and Carole Bayer Sager. My next imagination goes to Bruce Roberts. He is also the great song-writer in the adult contemporary field. This self-titled solo album is full of great songs he wrote. And he is also a great performer. This is one of my most favorite adult contemporary albums. (Holiday season might be adult contemporary season for me... ) This album is very sophisticated and smooth, and full of melodies. The great cover of "This Boy" by Lennon/McCartney is included, too.
10 Various Artists : Amarcord Nino Rota (1981)
As the last record for holiday season, I'd like to pick up some nostalgic music. Hearing some old-time music and thinking about a year to pass and a year to come might be adequate for this season. (Is this attitude "Japanese"?) Lotte Lenya might be a good choice for this reason. But I change my mind and pick up Hal Willner's Nino Rota tribute album. This is the first of Willner's tribute albums. After this albums, he made tribute albums for Thelonius Monk, Kurt Weill, Disney movie, and Charles Mingus. Compared to the following albums, "Amarcord Nino Rota" is less eclectic. The music is mainly played by jazz musicians. (There is a vocal appearance of Deborah Harry...) However, this rather simpleness and lightness might fit to Holiday season.
So, Happy Holidays!
Records of the Year
As I chose the records for holiday season, this might be the time to choose the records of 2002. This year maybe I got 300 records, but I only heard about 30 albums released in 2002. Ummm, I am a man of the past. Recently, I don't read the magazine, I only get information through the internet. So, I only get information about the artists I already know.
It is hard to pick up 10 albums from 30. So, I will choose 5. (I will exclude the re-issue and re-discovered albums. I will select the best of the re-issue albums next time.) As I see my best 5 again, I strongly feel that they are not very contemporary selection. I might need some more new musical stimulation from new generation...
1. Joni Mitchell : Travelogue
This is what I often listen to. See the review.
2. Van Morrison : Down the Road
Van Morrison's albums are always good. But I think this is the best in ten years. Also, the cover art, which shows the love and respect to R & B music, is good.
3. Caetano Veloso / Jorge Mautner : Eu Não Peço Desculpa
Caetano Veloso released 3 CDs in 2002, including two 2-disc set of live albums. So, I choose one of them for his hard working. this album is interesting for the mixture of nostalgic Brazilian music and modern sound production.
4. Salif Keita: Moffou
I love the natural sound of this record. See this.
5. Kenji Ozawa : Eclectic
This is not the great album like other ones. But I was surprised to find the fresh heartbeat for the love.
Re-issued and Re-discovered Records of the Year
Another best 5 of the year. The best re-issued and re-discovered albums. I guess they are not-so-astonishing choice at all.
1. Minako Yoshida : Bells (1986)
Long awaited re-issue of the legendary limited album of Minako Yoshida.
2. Marcos Valle : O COMPOSITOR E O CANTOR MARCOS VALE (1965)
Marcos Valle was "re-discovered" in 2000 or 2001. His works are so fashionably fascinating; it fits to today taste of Japanese listeners. Many of his original albums were re-issued recently. This is one of them. The second album. This is full of melody. Though the sound is still in ordinary Bossa Nova style, it is very sophisticated. Very smooth.
3. John Lennon : Mind Games (1973)
Newly re-mixed and re-mastered series of John Lennon sound much better than the original albums. I've been disappointed by the sound quality of Mind Games. However, this re-mastered issue refresh the image of the album. This is so vivid. So, I am waiting for the re-mastered version of Walls and Bridges (1974)...
4. Peter Gabriel : S.T. (1978)
I want to choose some paper sleeve re-issue of CD. First, the re-issue of Consequences (1977) by Godley and Creme, which was re-issued in miniature paper box, came into my mind. But I found out that it was released in the late December of 2001. So, I pick up Japanese editions of paper sleeve re-issue series of Peter Gabriel. (The paper sleeve re-issues of Morio Agata and Akiko Yano etc were also nice.) They are well made miniature of the original LP. And well re-mastered. I haven't heard the past Gabriel albums for a long time. It was exciting to hear his early solo works. I particularly love the second album.
5. Laura Nyro : The Loom's Desire (2002)
Yes, again. You already know that I love this record.
I made a mistake on 15/Dec diary. I wrote, "Caetano Veloso released 3 CDs in 2002, including two 2-disc set of live albums. " But the live album, Noites do Norte ao Vivo, was released in 2001. And another live album, Live in Bahia (2002), seems to be the American edition of Noites do Norte ao Vivo. So, the official release of Caetano Veloso in 2002 was Eu Não Peço Desculpa only.
Personal Discovery of 2002
A Happy New Year!
Though I selected "records of the year" and "re-issued and re-discovered records of the year", I felt they were not representing my personal listening of 2002. So, I make the list of my personal discovery. They might not be the most played records, but they are the records that I found their charms, or the rare items that finally I got. (I exclude the albums re-issued in 2002. They are already listed here.)
1. Robert Fripp / Brian Eno : Air Structures (1975)
2002 was the year of Brian Eno for me. Why? I just had a chance to hear many rare items. This is the bootleg of the concert of Fripp and Eno. This is far from ambient. Fripp's guitar is exciting. Of course, this is where the name of the site came from. See this.
2. John White/Gavin Bryars: Machine Music (1978)
I also wrote about this before. With the acquisition of this record, my long time searching for the 10 obscure set was over. See this and this.
3. Brian Eno : I Dormienti (1999)
Recently, Brian Eno are releasing many installation CDs, which are only available on the WEB, not in the store. Because they are rather expensive, I'd been hesitating to buy them. As I had a chance to hear them, I found that they were really good! I think another golden age for Brian Eno has come, secretly. It is hard to choose one. I pick up this because there is also a beautiful book of the installation, i dormienti. (I saw it at the book store. Too expensive to buy...)
4.Morton Feldman : Piano and String Quartet (1993)
I also heard many contemporary music in 2002. Particularly, my respects on John Cage's works increased. Morton Feldman was a colleague of John Cage. And I found his works are also interesting. This CD, played by Kronos Quartet and Aki Takahashi, sounds like Brian Eno's ambient works. But you need to hear this carefully while you can sometimes ignore the sound of Eno's ambient works. Requirement for careful listening for small sound and small changes might be close to the zen spirit, and also close to the conventional Western music listening.
5. Jo Kondo : Chamber Music (1997)
The work of Japanese contemporary composer. This is also close to the work of Brian Eno. Acoustic sound and interesting ensemble including guitar and harp has its own charm.
6. Soft Machine :Virtually (1998)
Recently, there are many releases of the live performance of Soft Machine. I used to like the works of Soft Machine, and now I love them after hearing the exciting live performances! I think it is a better introduction to hear their live CDs than the studio album. We can hear directly their intention in their live records. After hearing live records, I could enjoyed the studio recording much better.
7. Daevid Allen : Good Morning (1976)
2002 was also a Canterbury year. I heard and re-heard many "introduction" Canterbury albums. Now, Daevid Allen started to sound interesting to my ears. I love this solo record more than Gong's albums.
8. City Preachers : Back to the City (1972)
Dagmar Krause related rare item, which I won at the eBay. Kinda soft rock. Krause takes lead vocals in two tracks. They are really great! The other tracks? Listen-able.
9. Morio Agata : Eien No Ongoku (1985)
This is the re-issue of the legendary 450 limited 3 LP set. I could not buy it when it were released. It was too expensive. I did not recognized it was re-issued several years ago. I found this on Amazon and bought it. So sweet and nostalgic music. I was personally surprised with the relics of "itoshi no dairoku wakusei". There are parts singing the name of the stations in Hohi line in Kumamoto, where I lived some years ago.
10. Rita Lee : Build Up (1970)
I also heard many Brazilian music in 2002. I found Os Mutantes and Rita Lee were great. Eclectic and joyous. The first solo album of Rita Lee's cover looks like the one of early Jane Birkin. And it sounds like Jane Birkin in Brazil. This was a wonderful discovery.
Records for Spring Season / Season's Records vol. 2
Spring is here, though it might be still cold. Changing mood as the season changes might be a good things in everyday life like changing records on the turntable or CD player. As a continuation of Records for Holiday Season, I select 10 discs for spring time. This might not be a surprising choice, but I hope you can feel the refreshment of the spring time.
1. Gal Costa e Caetano Veloso : Domingo (1967)
Bossa Nova album of Gal and Caetano. Considering that "tropicalia" works follow this, it is unbelievable that this conventional Bossa Nova album is their debut. Very quiet. Very simple. Very intimate. It fits to the chill weather in the early spring.
2. The Style Council : Cafe Bleu (1984)
In the back of the single "My Ever Changing Moods"(1984), Paul Weller wrote, "Watch out in March. Those days when there's still winter's hint left over on the frosty ground, your feet crack-cracking the sentry still blades of grass, your eyes stinging from the purest air. Watch out! good things happen in April they say and how true... but in March we release the debut long-playing record from the Council. Named "Cafe Bleu" and featuring the widest selection you're likely to have heard for sometimes." Ummm, romantic... So, this French-taste-jazzy-fashionable record is associated with the early spring in me.
3. Orange Juice : You Can't Hide Your Love Forever (1982)
The bible of "Neo-Acoustic" or "Guitar Pop" music. Cover art is beautiful. And it contains full of cute, adolescent love songs. I love strange, romantic, humorous melodies which James Kirk wrote and sang. When I first heard this record, I though James Kirk was the leader of the band. (The songs of Edwyn Collins sounded like more ordinary pop music at the first time.) James, where are you now?
4. Weekend : La Variete (1982)
Another "Neo-Acoustic" bible released in 1982. The year 1982 was the year of acoustic pop. This album is my all time favorite album. This gathers various musical styles like Bossa Nova, Jazz, African Music, Pops etc. The vocal of Allison Statton sounds like Astrud Gilberto. This record always makes me happy like having tea in the sunny afternoon.
5. Carole King : Music (1971)
While the cover art of "Tapestry"(1971) was the image of late autumn, the image of "Music" is the one of spring, full of warm,gentle lights in the room. (I personally love this record more than "Tapestry".) This album starts with "Brother, Brother", which resembles Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On"(1971). And this contains many gentle songs full of beautiful melodies. One of the highlights is the title track, "Music". She sings, "Music is playing inside my head / Over and over and over again / My friend, there's no end to the music." Very accurate description about Carole King, herself.
6. Joni Mitchell : Miles Of Ailes (1974)
At first, I wanted to select Joni Mitchell's "Don Juan's Reckless Daughter"(1977) because I heard it repeatedly during spring of 1978 when I passed the examination of the university... This record is deeply connected with that memory, released from the long pressure of the exam. I still cannot hear this record without the memory of that time. However, for the ordinary listeners without personal memory, "Miles Of Ailes" might fit better to the season.This is the first live album of Mitchell which gathers her early hit songs. Because Mitchell's singing and sound-making in her first three albums was not very sophisticated, still in searching for her own style, the live versions of her early songs sound better to me. Like the colors of cover art, this is a gentle, lovely album. (By the way, this contains "Jericho", which is played again in "Don Juan's Reckless Daughter.")
7. Lester Bowie : The Great Pretender (1981)
In Japan, spring is the time for new start. The academic and fiscal year starts from April. This selection of the album is again very personal. I was hearing this when I graduated from the university. Sorry, this might have little to resemble spring for ordinary listeners. I love the title track "The Great Pretender", which is, of course, a famous song of Platters. Very R&B taste music which continues more than 16 minutes! Then, the album gradually becomes more avant-garde jazz. I love the humorous part which Lester Bowie played in Art Ensemble of Chicago. And this album captures the very essence of Bowie's music.
8. Oscar Peterson : Romance (1954)
Oscar Peterson sings like Nat King Cole! Before he became the "pure" pianist, he was trying to be a singer-pianist. But after hearing Nat King Cole, he quit his dream, and became a pianist. In this album, Peterson sings and plays piano so gently and intimately. His music is always with joy of playing music. And this is full of joy of singing. Love to the music.
9. Blossom Dearie : Once Upon A Summertime (1958)
Blossom Dearie started her career as a pianist. Then, she became a singer-pianist. She might be categorized in jazz vocal, but she is basically a club singer or lounge singer. In her classic Verve albums, she is a jazz singer as well as a pop-club-lounge singer in a jazzy groove. This Verve album is a very happy, lovely, groovy record. One of the best albums of Blossom Dearie.
10. "Blue" Gene Tyranny : Out Of The Blue (1977)
Warm and gentle music. "Next Time Might Be Your Time" is a country-music-like bright contemporary encouraging song. Let's hope that next time will be good time for us all.
The Top Ten Hits On My Radio
Like the lyrics of "Yesterday Once More", I used to listen to the radio when I was young. Waiting for my favorite songs was sweet experience, really. But as I grew up, I stopped hearing radio because my interests separated from top ten hits, and maybe because the radio station gradually stopped playing songs seamlessly. The songs tend to be interrupted by the stupid talks.
When I was in Seattle in the late 80s, my radio listening days returned. There are incredible numbers of radio stations in the U.S.. And I could select my favorite stations that played my favorite music. I usually listened to classic rock station. I loved to hear 70s rock music. Nostalgic radio days again.
As the WEB grows and speeds up, the radio station all over the world can be heard on computer now. What a wonderful world! However, my another radio days did not return. It is because of iTunes. I have more than 1,000 MP3 files in my computer. And I hear them with shuffle mode. I don't know which song comes next. This is just like I am having a personal radio station for my own. This "radio station" always plays my favorite songs. Satisfaction guaranteed.
Moreover, I just bought a new iPod. I can bring my personal "radio station" anywhere! I usually do computer jobs with hearing my "radio station". And I go to the office with hearing my "radio station" etc.
In my radio station, I select my all time favorite songs from many genres. It is really exciting to hear many types of "good musics" played seamlessly. (There is a cross-fade function in iTunes.) Comfortable mixture of multi-cultures. But I found myself most excited to hear 60s and 70s songs. Particularly, I love to hear R&B tasted songs. So, I put more of R&B songs than the percentage in my record collection. They make me feel high and groovy. These are my personal top ten hits on my radio station:
1. Curtis Mayfield : Move On Up - Curtis (1970)
This is the most groovy song that I've ever know. Whenever I hear this, I feel very positive vibration. I always stop doing anything, and just hear the song. And this makes me want to dance and shout, "Move on up!"
2. Aretha Franklin : Sparkle - Sparkle (1976)
When any Aretha Franklin's song starts to play on my personal "radio station", I am thrilled like I hear that song for the first time. This song was written and produced by Curtis Mayfield. Beautiful. Truly sparkling song.
3. Dusty Springfield : Am I The Same Girl - single released in 1969
Dusty Springfield is the British admirer of Aretha Franklin. This song has magical groovy feeling of swinging London and the R&B feeling of Aretha Franklin. Swing Out Sisters covered the song in 1991. To tell you the truth, I knew this song by this 1991 cover version.
4. Janis Joplin : Trust Me - Pearl (1971)
Janis Joplin was an unfortunate musician with huge talent. Unfortunate, because she was unlucky to play with not-talented musicians. Her albums were not well produced, and did not catch her true treasure. The only exception is her last album, Pearl (1971), which she could not finish. I love this song best. The song was written by Bobby Womack. (I don't know when Womack himself sang this song in his album. As I check now, it is in Safety Zone (1975). I am not sure this is the first appearance or not.) She sang really like Bobby Womack. Though I have not heard Womack's version, Joplin's singing here is the typical singing style of Womack. But this song moves me, I don't know why. "Trust me, Baby."
5. Jimi Hendrix : Little Wing - Axis:Bold As Love (1967)
Super famous song. So, delicate and beautiful. This song's duration is only 2:28; suddenly cut by fade out. I wish this would continue several minutes more. Is there "complete" version of this song somewhere? (I am not very familiar with Jimi's works.)
6. Chicago : Beginnings - Chicago Transit Authority (1969)
I am not a fan of Chicago at all. But I like their first album, and particularly love this song. The ensemble of acoustic guitar, brass section, and percussions is very nice. The brass section sounds like brass sound made by synthesizers, it sounds very modern.
7. The Beatles : Rocky Raccoon - The Beatles (1968)
My most favorite Beatles song by Paul McCartney. (My most favorite Beatles song by John Lennon is Happiness is the Warm Gun.) After the stupid long story told by McCartney, "Rocky Raccoon he felt back in his room / Only to find Gideon's bible"
8. Patti Smith : Frederick - Wave (1979)
The pop tune produced by Todd Rundgren. Full of love. This makes me believe in "rock'n roll" again.
9. Lauryn Hill : Can't Take My Eyes Off Of You - The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill (1998)
I love this version of the song very much. This makes me feel high.
10. King Sunny Ade : Ja Fumi - Juju Music (1982)
After hearing some exciting upper songs, it is very cool when this song starts smoothly.
Records for Summer Season / Season's Records vol. 3
Summer is not a good season for listening to music. It is because of air conditioner. The low noise of air conditioner is very quiet when not hearing music. However, once I start to concentrate on music, it is noisy. It kills a delicate nuance of music. Moreover, the air conditioner is told to have harmful effect on the sound of the audio system. Even if you don't use air conditioner, other people tend to use air conditioner, so the quality of electricity is not good for audio in the summer time. If you are an audiophile, you have to listen to music at midnight when you don't need air conditioners. But, unless you are living in the countryside by yourself, it is a very difficult solution.
So, let's forget about sound quality until the autumn comes, and let's enjoy summer in the sun. Or let's enjoy music in the cool room with air conditioner. As a continuation of Records for Holiday Season and vol 2, I select 10 albums for summer. At first, I selected 5 rock CDs, but I though it was too much. So, I exchanged them with other records, then the rock record became only one. This might be too small portion, but this list looks better to me than the first one. As for the deleted rock records, it is secret.
1. Carlos Lyra : Bossa Nova (1960)
It is a stereo-type thinking that Brazilian and Latin music is for summer. I am hearing them through the year. Still, I hear more Brazilian music in summer.
I once thought that Bossa Nova meaned Joao Gilberto. Of course, there are many important artists other than him, his personal style seemed to represent most of the greatest part of Bossa Nova. But, now, I am much more in love with Carlos Lyra. Compared to the perfect coolness of Gilberto, Lyra is more gentle and warmer.
2. Caetano Veloso : Araca Azul (1972)
Caetano for summer. The cover art looks like this is summer album... The strange jacket. Some songs are the most experimental ones in Caetano's songs. But, there are still stunningly beautiful tracks.
3. Vinicius & Caymmi : No Zum Zum (1967)
At first, I tried to select Quarteto Em Cy's album other than Antologia Do Samba Cancon, which I introduced already. It was perfect chorus album. I want to choose rather young and lovely chorus of Quarteto Em Cy. So, I selected this. Quarteto Em Cy appeared in this album, singing powerfully. Beautiful young savage from Bahia.
4. Gema 4 : Te Voy A Dar (1996)
Instead of Qaurteto Em Cy's full album, I selected this Cuban chorus group. This is also a perfect chorus album. They sing very complicated chorus flawlessly.
5. Huong Thanh : Dragonfly (2001)
The Vietnamese singer living in Paris. Mixture of traditional and modern music. Very elegant.
6. Lena Machado : S.T. (1997)
I am still searching for my perfect Hawaiian record, and this is my temporary answer.
7. Brian Eno : Apollo (1983)
When I first heard this record, I didn't like this. It seemed to be the reputation of the same ideas of Eno's former albums. But now there are too many ambient records. And hearing this again, it is a very good "chill-out" record. Good to hear this in the cool room.
8. Steve Reich : Music for 18 Musicians (1997)
The invention of CD is for this record. It was the most pleasant time to hear this continuously without changing sides of analog record. There are two versions played by Steve Reich Group. This one is the second one recorded in 1997. (Original version is recorded in 1978.) There is no big difference among two versions. I just choose this because the cover art may fit to summer season better.
9. Miles Davis : Miles Ahead (1958)
Considering from cover art, I think this album is also summer album. Very cool jazz orchestra sound.
10. Prefab Sprout : From Langley Park To Memphis (1988)
Only one rock album left for summer albums. Why this is summer album? "The King of Rock'n roll","Cars and Girls", and "Hey Manhattan!" sound summer songs to me. But I don't know why. The last track, "The Venus of the Soup Kitchen" is my most favorite song of Prefab Sprout. This reminds me of Richard Brautigan's "In Watermelon Sugar" Again, I don't know why.
Patti Smith Live
I love music. But I usually hear music on records in my room; I seldom go to the concert. That is because the essences of music are usually better captured in records; the live performances seem to be the reproduction of the records for me... So, I go to the concert only when I can expect something more than records. The last concert I went was Slapp Happy concert. It was three years ago.
Patti Smith. She is really a great performer. She might be the person that I can expect more than records. So, I decided to go to her concert.
Though I had a reservation number 2 and the house opened one hour before the show, I arrived at the live house a half hour before the show. I was feeling tired today. I didn't want to stand one hour before the show. And I was expecting that the show would not be full because I heard that the tickets were not sold out.
The live house was comfortably crowded. I mean there was a space to move, and the air-conditioner was workable. And there was no feeling that there was too little audiences. The audiences were the mixture of young and middle-age people. And there was no obvious punk fashion people. When I went to "new wave" concert in the 70s or 80s, there used to be many people who were wearing strange costumes. But everyone looked very ordinal tonight. This was comfortable situation for the middle-age man like me.
Tired and sleepy, I was sitting on the floor in the small live house, waiting for the show to begin. I was expecting to get some energy from her. At first, she, too, somehow looked a little tired. Her voice seemed not to be in a good condition. But she was mostly friendly and relaxed. Some songs were played in slower tempos. This made more relaxed feeling. But gradually Patti and her band started to be powerful. Finally, I was overwhelmed by the exciting performance of Rock N Roll Niger. It was a wonderful experience. She played more than 2 hours! (I had to stand for more than 2 hours. Tired.)
I've been hearing Patti Smith for 25 years. And this was my first time to see her on the stage. Because I've hearing some of her bootlegs and private live recordings, the show was what I imagined, more or less. But there was surely something more that the audio tape can record. It was very comfortable to be in the river of noise. The ROCK was there.
Thanks, Patti, for giving me the energy to keep going.
Here is a set list for today:
Glitter In Their Eyes, Waiting Underground, Redondo Beach, Free Money, Dead City, 1959, Frederick, Break It Up, Dancing Barefoot, Beneath The Southern Cross, Seven Ways Of GoingWing, 25th Floor, Because The Night, Pissing In A River, People Have The Power, Gloria, (encore)We Three, Babelogue/Rock n Roll Nigger
One Brazilian reader, reading my page on Pierre Barouh, sent me a mail. He wrote he really couldn't understand the expression "amateur" when explaining about Brazilian music, especially about Bossa Nova; There is a professional sense and great musical conscience which is far from amateurism in a Brazilian music.
Yes, I agree with that opinion. I think Brazilian music is the most elegant popular music, full of great music and poetry. Though it sounds very gentle and relaxed, it comes from very musical consciousness, not from the simple amateur relaxation. But, I still like to argue that the amateurism is the essence of the Brazilian music.
When I say "amateur" in this context, I am using it in the best meaning of the word. It is like amateurism in the Olympic game. Amateurism is a non-profit seeking attitude toward music. Of course, there are many professionals who are seriously searching for music. And I don't mean that commercialism is always a bad thing. "Amateur" means something pure for me. An amateur doesn't seek for profit through playing music; he does it because he likes it. Sometimes, he can make money to live just from music, sometimes he can't. But it is only a result.
I think there is a tradition of amateurism in Brazilian and Latin music. For example, I love music of Orchestra Aragon of Cuba. They play incredibly beautiful music. But I heard somewhere that they work in the office in the daytime, and play music in the night time. And Cartola. He was the wonderful composer in the Brazilian music, but I think he couldn't make enough money to live from his beautiful music, so he had to do many things. Like Cartola, many Samba giants had part-time jobs besides music. In case of Vinicius de Moraes, the greatest poet of Bossa Nova, he was a diplomat!
The word amateurism might be often used for Bossa Nova because of its intimate and casual vocal style. Compared to the "professional" vocal style of Samba Cancon, Bossa Nova sounds "amateur." This is a delicate issue. As for the vocal style of Joao Gilberto, it sounds amateur, but he is surely a professional singer who has his own style. But , for example, the vocals of Tom Jobim and Vinicius de Moraes are more like "amateur" in an everyday sense, I think. And I like their vocal, too!
Why am I fascinated by the non-professional singers like Tom Jobim and Vinicius de Moraes etc? It is partly because their singing represent their way of living, and it moves me. It is like listening to records of the singer-song-writers who are not very good singers. But my preference on these singers is more likely that I love the imperfectness of their singing. There is a tradition in Japanese culture which loves imperfection close to perfection rather than absolute perfection. It might comes from Zen spirit. It used to be a Japanese attitude toward life, and now it was lost, maybe. (I once discussed about this here.)
So, the word "amateur" means many implications to me. And I was lazy to explain all these nuances.
Records for Autumn Season / Season's Records vol. 4
Autumn is a good season for listening to music, free from the bad effect of air conditioner. The good season for audio is rare. When winter comes, we have to think about the effect of the heater again. Let's enjoy music, though it is still hot here in Japan now. As a continuation of Records for Holiday Season , vol 2, and vol 3, I select 10 albums for autumn. They are somehow romantic records. It is typical to choose romantic records for autumn, but I hope the choice of records is not too typical. (This is the last one of the season's records series. I have to think other series to introduce records...)
1. Chet Baker : Chet Baker Sings (1956)
It is all too typical thinking to choose jazz vocal for autumn. And this is a very basic item in jazz vocal. But Chet baker's singing is not typical at all. He sang cute love songs in a sexless sweet voice.
2. Carmen McRae : Bittersweet (1964)
So, I tried to find more authentic jazz vocal album. I love female jazz vocal albums, but my favorites tend to be more "amateur singers" than professional singers. The "professional singers" tend to sing too well, and they seem to lack something. But McRae's Bittersweet is the exception. Her way of singing here is a very straight jazz vocal way, but her singing comes directly to my heart.
3. Michael Mantler : Silence (1977)
It may be also good to enjoy the musical labyrinth of Michael Mantler and Carla Bley. Their world is too complex to hear in hot summer time. Robert Wyatt's singing is very impressive in this album.
4. Sandy Denny : Like An Old Fashioned Waltz (1973)
Some kind of British trad music is also typical listening for autumn. Denny had a wonderful voice and huge talents. But her albums were sometimes produced not too well. Among them I love this album best.
5. Caetano Veloso : Qualquer Coisa (1975)
Of course, Brazilian music is not only for summer. This album fits very well to autumn. There are very impressive interpretations of the Beatles songs, Eleanor Rigby, For No One, Lady Madonna. I also recommend Caetano Veloso (1986), which includes the great interpretation of Billy Jean, medley with Eleanor Rigby!!
6. Fabrizio De Andre : Anime Salve (1996)
Fabrizio De Andre is like Italian Leonard Cohen. His voice and His songs sound like Cohen. But he is not a copy of Cohen. His music is a very unique one, which has inter-cultural perspective. It is a Mediterranean music, and it also has an influence from Arabic music. Anile Salve is a beautiful Mediterranean music. But it also has strong European taste, too. It is like a story of man who came back from Mediterranean sea to Europe. He is talking his story in somewhere in the dusk of some Europe town in autumn...
7. Thomas Dinger : Fur Mich (1982)
Happy and romantic electric music from Germany. Thomas Dinger was the member of Neu! and La Dusseldorf. The music he is playing in this album sounds like the music of La Dusseldorf, but it is more slower and melodic. It is a happy music, but still it has some melancholic sense.
8. Akiko Yano : Piano Nightly (1995)
Only her voice and piano that she plays. This is the compilation for international listeners, made from Akiko Yano's Super Folk Song (1992) and Piano Nightly (1995). Both albums are worth having, but I can't choose one. I love New York Confidential in original Piano Nightly, but I am sorry it is not included in this compilation.
9. Mitsuko Uchida : Schubert/Impromptus (1997)
Very romantic and introspective music.
10. Glenn Gould : Brahms/Intermezzi (1960)
This is a little different from other albums of Glenn Gould. This is a very introspective music.
Art of Encounter/Pierre Barouh
Pierre Barouh is now touring around Japan with Tomohiro Yahiro, Yoshiro Nakamura, and Maya Barouh. They are playing at very small places around Japan. Actually, this is the first tour of Pierre Barouh that he ever took. The first tour is Japan tour! This is same as the first tour of Slapp Happy. What a coincidence! My favorite musicians seem to like Japan so much!
Anyway, since he came to my town the other day, I went to the concert. As I went to the gallery, where the concert was held, Pierre Barouh was just there. So, I talked to him. Though it was a short conversation, he was very friendly and his smile was very impressive. Smile. It is hard to describe his smile. I thought this smile was the essence of his art. Art of encounter.
I was always wondering how his encounters with many artists were possible. For example, how he encountered with Bossa Nova and with artists such as Baden Powell and Vinicius Moraes in the very beginning of Bossa Nova movement. And it seemed to be a miracle that Briggite Fontaine and Art Ensemble of Chicago encountered in Paris. I wanted to ask him about these things. But I just realized that the answer was in his smile. I think these encounters were not planned. They just happened naturally. They are not the result of the idea. They just happened. And he was always ready to welcome all these happenings with his smile.
We saw two films of Barouh during the concert. (Actually, it was not the concert. Rather, it was like home party.) One is about the encounter of Ken Ogata and Robert Doisneau, and the other is about the French tour of Kabocha Shokai, the Japanese Chindon band. These films don't have a particular story. It is a collage of home-video like images. It sometimes reminds me of Jonas Mekas. But it is just because I don't know any other films that are similar.
The films of Barouh are full of joy of encounter. The people are not having conversation a lot. They just talk everyday conversation. But there is an understanding of different culture. The people in the films are not typical Japanese or typical French. But it makes me think that there is no"typical" person anyway. And, even though there is little appearance of Pierre Barouh in the films, I can easily feel him behind the film. He is producing these encounters with his smile.
The setlist? Mainly Bossa Nova related repertoires of Barouh. You should go to concert if you can.
Let Let It Be Be
I've been thinking about Let It Be (1970) that:
That was exactly the thing Paul McCartney should have been thinking of. And he re-constructed Let It Be as he thinks it should be. It seemed to be a good idea to discover the original music from the over-decorated tracks that we used to hear, and to restructure the entire album.
With a little help from my friend, I could hear the new version of the album, Let It Be Naked (2003) . Each song sounds fresh and "naked" so that we can hear the interplay between the instruments and can enjoy the natural groove of the band. It is a pleasant thing. Each track sounds better than the one in the 1970 album. However, as I listened to the tracks of the album, the excitement of each track does not accumulate as an excitement of hearing a great album. In short, Let It Be Naked (2003) is an interesting alternative version of Let It Be (1970), and it does not replace the original.
I found that Phil Spector did on the original materials was basically adequate, and I understood that he tried very hard to complete Let It Be (1970) as a album, not a collection of raw materials. The orchestration on The Long And Winding Road and Across The Universe may be over-decorated, but it was necessary to avoid the album become monotonous. When thinking that Let It Be has a very different mood from other tracks on the album, it should be put between Dig It and Maggie Mae in order to fit to the other tracks of the album. The track order of the original album, starting from Two Of Us and ending with Get Back is a good structure; it emphasizes the concept of the album, Back to Basics. But the impression changes a lot when the album ends with Let It Be. It is like their effort to get back was not successful and they gave up and let it be.... That was what actually happened on this album, but I don't want to hear it on the record.
Well, Paul should let Let It Be be. I will keep hearing Let It Be (1970) if I have to choose which one to hear.
The Records Of The Year
Gradually it becomes more and more meaningless for me to choose the records of the year. It is because I don't buy many new records. If I buy them, they tend to be new records of old artists. For example, I think the new albums of Elvis Costello, Van Morrison, Richard Thompson, Robert Wyatt, Cassandra Wilson and Steely Dan are good. Yet, compared to their best works, they are not as good; they are their average or below their average. They do not look like "the records of the year". They can be the records of any year. (By the way, many people say that the Raven of Lou Reed is great. But, to tell you the truth, I don't understand what is so good about it)
I felt much newer excitements in re-issued records and in previously unreleased tracks etc. Maybe I get too old to find a new excitement in new artists. Anyway, as a reflection of these private listening, there is no completely new album of the year. They are basically the re-issues of old albums or newly discovered old materials, new recording of old songs etc.
1. Lyle Ritz : How About Uke? (1958)
Universal's "Acoustic Swing" series was the most exciting release of the year. The albums recorded 50 years ago sound more exciting than the albums newly recorded. This represents today's situation very well. Especially, this album changed my notion of Ukulele. Also, Ritz's 50th State Jazz and Roy Smeck's The Magic Ukulele of Roy Smeck are wonderful ukulele jazz albums.
2. Joe Mooney : On the Rocks (1947)
One more album from the same series. Mooney sings and plays standard songs. But they sound very new. Very gentle and stylish album.
3. Sonia Rosa : Bossa Rosa de Sonia (1967)
The debut album of Sonia Rosa in Brazil. This album shows how Rosa was talented and had huge possibilities as a new Bossa Nova singer/songwriter.
4. Pierre Barouh : Le Grenier de Saravah vol.1 (2003)
The songs that Barouh wrote nearly 50 years ago sound so fresh and naked.
5. Various Artists : Le Grenier de Saravah vol.2 (2003)
English version of Comme a la Radio! What a surprise! Many more rare tracks such as Alfred Panou with the Art ensemble of Chicago and Francis Lai. Lai's vocal sounds like Chet Baker.
6. King Sunny Ade : Synchro Series (2003)
There are many re-issues of Ade's Nigerian records in 2003. This album was recorded for Nigerian listeners while he released international records. The basic sound style is same as his international release, but the tracks are much longer and more relaxed. It is another listening pleasure of Ade.
7. Weekend : Archive (2003)
Live at Ronnie Scotts (1983) was released as CD for the first time, with more live tracks and singles!
8. Essra Mohawk : S.T. (1975)
Three albums of Essra Mohawk were re-issued in paper sleeves. I wish her second will be released, too.
9. Judee Sill : S.T. (1971)
Remastering reissue from Rhino Handmade. The sound quality improved a lot. And very "naked" live recording and studio demos etc. It hits my hear directly.
10. Randy Newman : The Randy Newman Songbook Vol.1 (2003)
This is the only album recorded in 2003. But Newman sings and plays his classic songs. This is also good.
So, do I really need new records?
Bob Marley's Live Recordings
I've been hearing Live at the Roxy (2003) of Bob Marley & the Wailers this week. It was recorded live at the Roxy, Hollywood in 1976. Because I am not the big fan of Bob Marley, I only heard two official live records, Live! (1975) and Babylon by Bus (1978). Comparing with two other live recordings, Live at the Roxy (2003) is much more exciting and thrilling. I've been thinking that two live albums of Bob Marley are a little too "rock" with faster tempo and loud guitar solos. The sound quality of Live at the Roxy (2003) is very clear. Performance is great; they play songs in slower tempo than other two live recordings. And arrangement is much simple. But it is far from relaxed performance, it is so intensive and powerful. So, I feel I finally come to hear "real" live recording of Bob Marley. (There is 24 minute medley of Get Up, Stand Up/No More Trouble/War!)
Why did it take so many years that this wonderful live recording was released? There were always wants for Marley's live recordings. And many recordings with poor sound quality were released before this. It is not that this live recording at the Roxy was recently discovered. One track from this live session, No Woman, No Cry, was released in the 4 CD box set Songs of Freedom in 1992. So, it took more 10 years since then. I heard that there are copyright problems in Marley's recordings. It is very strange that people are arguing about the copyright while Marley's political message is powerful and straight.
Or the delay of the release might not come from copyright problem. It may be because of the marketing policies of Island records. They own many recordings and they release them little by little. By doing this, the fans of Marley have to buy same CDs several times for new bonus tracks etc... But if this is the case, the marketing policy of Island is very long term oriented. 20 year marketing policy!!! Anyway, Live at the Roxy (2003) is a wonderful album, but the delay of the release makes me think this and that, and makes me feel a little bit bad.
This ambivalent feeling is similar to the release of the DVD box of Yasujirou Ozu. Shouchiku released all of Ozu's movies in DVD. But they only sell them in the box set. If you buy them all, you need about $800. They should sell DVD separately. At least, some classical works such as Tokyo Monogatari (1953) and Banshun (1949) should be sold separately. I once wrote that Shouchiku did not digitally remaster movies. Sorry, it was my mistake. They digitally remastered them. But the quality is not very good even after the remastering. This proves that the movies were not reserved properly. So, it is coincidental that they lost 1/3 of Ozu's movies. It is the same company that could not keep Ozu's movie properly, and now is releasing DVD box set with high prices. Until that day, the basic Ozu movies are equally guaranteed to all, without regard to "sell" or "rent", there is a war! Rastafari!
By the way, I was wondering about the lyrics of Get Up, Stand Up for a long time. There is a sentence, "We know and understand almighty God is a living man." Japanese translation of the lyrics interprets this such as "Even God is just a living man." This completely doesn't make sense. I think that there are three possible interpretations about this. 1. "So called almighty God, Jesus, was just a living man." 2. "There is no god or heaven. What is important is a living man." 3. "Almighty God is not in the heaven. He is a living man, Haile Selassie." Considering from the other parts of the lyrics, the interpretation 1 & 2 are likely. Or it has a double meanings. And I'd like to think that way. But, interpretation 3 is still possible. Haile Selassie is introduced as "king of kings, lord of lords, the conquering lion of the tribe of Judah" in Rastaman Vibration (1976). (War is based on the speech of Haile Selassie.) So, how do you think?
Life Is the Endless Vacation / Goodbye Lizzy
I woke up this morning, and checked my mails as usual. And I found the mail from Sébastien Morlighem, the cousin of Lizzy Mercier Descloux.
Lizzy Mercier Descloux passed away at 5:30 Am, April 20 following a long battle with cancer. According to her wishes, she was cremated and her ashes scattered in the Mediterranean. Please join me in mourning the passing of such a brilliant flame and rejoicing in her memory. She is already missed.
I was deeply surprised, and felt so sad. I don't know how old she was, but too young! Her two albums were recently re-issued on CDs. The world seems to re-appreciate her works again, maybe more eagerly than the time they were originally released.
Musically and honestly speaking, she was not a talented musician. However, I loved her music. More correctly, I loved her voice. (And album cover photos, too.) When I hear her voice, small defects in her music seem to be nothing.
She started her musical career under the influence of new wave movement, particularly of no wave movement in New York. As a French, an outsider of London/New York movement, she seemed to be free from the particular styles. She was successful in presenting no wave in a fashionable way. And her interests quickly moved from no wave to funk, African music, Brazilian music, and jazz etc. As a listener, I was also changing my interests like her, starting from new wave, gradually going to the world music, jazz and contemporary music etc.
Lizzy may not be a great musician, but a great amateur musical traveller with full of curiosity. I was very sympathetic to her attitude, feeling like she was my old friend who used to listen to many kinds of music together.
When I wrote the review on her works, I didn't write my sympathy to her this straight. I wrote it rather in a critical way to explain the changes of her styles. When Sébastien found my site and told it to Lizzy, I felt embarrassed. As he recommended me to write to her, I sent my message and excuses to Lizzy. I don't know what she thought of my review. Now, it is unknown forever. I just wish she laughed.
There was the article about Lizzy Mercier Descloux in the Tower Records in-store magazine when her records were re-issued on CDs. The writer of the article went to see Lizzy and Michel Esteban in France. They were having vacation in some resort place. According to the article, Lizzy said, "Life is the endless vacation." When I read it, I envied her life. But it was not so long ago, it was the last summer. I don't know if she knew about her cancer then, but it was the straight manifest of her cosmopolitan life-style.
So, how was your vacation, Lizzy?
Random Comments on Gustav Mahler
Music as a Collage
When my interests on new music get weak, I tend to listen to classical music, particularly music of Gustav Mahler. As I hear his symphonies now, my view has changed little bit. I thought his music was very sophisticated one of the post Romantic school after Wagner. Of course, Mahler's music is between the post Romantic school and contemporary music. But, I think his modernity lies in his omnivorous style. He mixed many musical styles, not only the pure fine art music, but also folk songs and more pop oriented music. My son and daughter listen to the soundtrack music of Harry Potter and The Lord Of the Rings. And the music of these soundtracks and the music of Mahler symphonies sometimes sound alike. When I was young, I was listening to his music as a serious art, with some melancholic sentiment. Now, I am listening to his music as a musical collage, some kind of pop art.
Leonard Bernstein's Mahler Symphony Completes
I recently bought Bernstein's Complete Recordings of Mahler Symphonies on Deutsche Grammophon. I am not a good listener of classical music, so I can't compare this with other conductors works. ( I can only say that I prefer Bruno Walter's Das Lied Von Der Erde to Bernstein's one. The Walter's 1952 recording of that music is something very special so that none can reach that point.) What I like about this complete set is the design works. It is beautifully packaged in a box, and16 CDs are in paper sleeves which have impressive photos of Mahler and his related peopel/things. They bring a nostalgic feeling of the old Vienna around 1900. It was a golden time for the city in terms of art and science although the Hapsburg empire was declining. While some kind of decadent art, such as Mahler and Klimt etc, was blooming, the philosophy of logical positivism also began in Vienna. (Later, Godel studied in Vienna.) It was a very exciting city with plural aspects. While there are many ugly art work CD covers in classical music, this is very well designed one. And it fits to the interests of the record collector of rock music.
Bernstein's CD set includes 11 symphonies, including 1 unfinished one, and 4 orchestral songs. Some symphonies are divided in 2 CDs. It was much better than hearing 2 LP set (Sometimes one movement was divided in 2 sides of LP!) But I've been dreaming that one Mahler symphony is in one disc. CD can contain 74 minute music. This was decided because Beethoven Symphony No.9 requires that time. (Thanks to this decision, we can hear Steve Reich's work in one disc without turning the side of LP!) So, SACD and DVD-audio should contain Mahler symphony in one disc. I checked how the situation is in SACD and DVD-audio. I couldn't find many SACDs. But Symphony No2, which continues about 90 minuets, was in 1 SACD. So, I think SACD is a good media for Mahler. Then, I checked DVD-audio. For my surprise, all Mahler symphonies are included in one disc!!! I think this was possible because it was encoded in CD quality not in over-sampling & 20 bit quality. All Mahler in one disc was something beyond my imagination and need. Who actually needs this disc? I don't know. I only wanted one symphony in one disc in higher quality...
For All Mankind
I saw For All Mankind (1988) again to transfer it from Laser Disc to DVD-R. Needless to say, it is a documentary film of Apollo going to the Moon, the soundtracks made by Brian Eno. Again, I was moved by the beauty of the Earth and I was surprised with the "fact" that technology and computer in the 60's - 70's could make this event possible.
Why "fact"? It is because there are many people who doubt if man really landed on the Moon. The rumor existed from the beginning. And number of the people who don't believe in the "fact" still seems to grow. Many books and TV programs are on this issue. In short, the doubts are:
- Photos are too perfect, considering that there was no finder in the camera
- There seem to be two sources of lights in the photo, which suggests the photos were taken in the studio
- Flag was waving as if it were in the winds
- The films on the moon looks like slow motion etc
- There is deadly radioactivity in Van Allen belt so that none can pass it alive.
- There was no sophisticated technology in the 60's to land on the Moon.
- We can't see the fire in the images of launching from the Moon
There are many more doubts and many scientific answers to them. (See here)
I used to think that conspiracy theory of man-didn't-land-on-the-moon was stupid, but I am not so sure. Even though I know that it is stupid, once it entered in my mind, it is hard to escape from it. Some doubts may be answered scientifically, but the problems about photos are not perfectly answered. When people are in doubt, no persuasion is convincing... I, myself, believe that Man landed on the moon, but I think it is possible that, at least, some photos and films may be taken on the Earth.
I've been always wondering about some questions when I see the scenes on the Moon in For All Mankind. Yes, I was wondering about the American flag waving on the Moon. Two people moving on the Moon were taken perfectly despite teh fact there were only two people on the Moon etc. So, the pleasure of seeing my favorite For All Mankind lessens somehow.
Still, it is a very beautiful film. Especially, the view of the Earth from above is speechless. People are living in the desert in Africa, and it is observed as small lights from high above. How we are fragile, and so is the Earth in the desert of the outer space.
Tracks used in the film as credited.
- For Her Atoms Misha, Mahlin & Lydia Theremin
- Theme for "Opera", Roger Eno & Brian Eno
- Always Returning, Brian Eno/Roger Eno
- Silver Morning, Daniel Lanois
- Balthus Bemused by Color, Harold Budd
- Black Sedan, Brian Eno
- Fly Me to The Moon, Frank Sinatra
- Act Naturally, Buck Owens
- Someday We'll Look Back, Merle Haggard
- Sleepwalking, Merle Haggard
- Feeling Smile, Roger Eno
- Also Sprake Zarathustra, Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Karl Bohm
- 4-Minute Warning, John Paul Jones
- The Secret Place, Brian Eno
- Weightless, Brian Eno/Daniel Lanois, Roger Eno
- Understars, Brian Eno/Daniel Lanois
- Matta, Brian Eno
- Sirens, Daniel Lanois/Brian Eno
- White Mustang, Daniel Lanois/Brian Eno
- Saint Tom, Brian Eno
- Asian River,Brian Eno
- Deep Blue Day, Brian Eno/Daniel Lanois, Roger Eno
- An Ending (Ascent), Brian Eno
The soundtrack of the film, Apollo was released in 1983, and the film was completed in 1988. The real sound tracks are different from Apollo. Many tracks are from Music for films 3.
3,4,14,15,16,17,22,23 are in Apollo (1983)
1,2,5,11,13,18,19,20,21 are in Music for Films 3 (1992)
6 seems to be unreleased track on CD.
The use of country songs is very effective in the film, representing the nostalgia to the country, the Earth, very well.
Kazuhiko Kato's so called "Europe Trilogy"- Papa Hemingway (1979), L'Opera Fragile (1980) and Belle Excentrique (1981) - were re-issued on CD. Three albums were issued on CD in 1988, but they had been out of print for a long time. While the 1988 issue covers were different from the original, 2004 issues are in original cover design in paper sleeves. This should have been one of the greatest re-issue news in 2004. However, when I checked the customer reviews in Amazon etc, I knew they were not faithful to original records. The vocals of Nanako Sato were deleted! She sang very impressively in 1 track in Papa Hemingway (1979) and 4 tracks in L'opera Fragile (1980). It is unthinkable to hear these albums without Nanako's voice; it is worse than hearing Bob Dylan's Desire (1976) without Emmylou Harris. Many reviewers are angry about it, and I am very sympathetic to them.
According to Omagatoki, the master tapes of these albums were lost, and only remix versions without Nanako's voice exist now. What a poor situation! When many lost precious recordings were discovered and released these days, I have to be disappointed with Japanese situations. It is the same culture that Shochiku lost 1/3 of Ozu's films...
I tried to follow when and how they were lost by making some researchs on internet.
- 1979-1981 Original albums were released from Warner Bros.
- 1983 Anokoro Marie Laurencin was released from CBS Sony, and "Europe Trilogy" albums were re-issued from CBS. The cover designs of Papa Hemingway (1979) and L'opera Fragile (1980) were changed to the illustrations of Kuniyoshi Kaneko. The re-issue versions are equal to the original ones with Nanako's vocals.
- 1985 Le Bar Tango was released. This is a compilations from "Europe Trilogy" and Venezia(1984). The versions without Nanako's voice were used in this compilation.
- 1987 Malta no Taka was released from Toshiba EMI.
- 1988 "Europe Trilogy" albums were re-issued on CD from Toshiba EMI. The versions without Nanako's vocals. Album covers are same as CBS versions.
- 2004 "Europe Trilogy" albums were re-issued on CD from Omagatoki. The versions without Nanako's vocals. Album covers are same as original Warner versions
Kazuzhiko Kato moved companies from Warner to CBS Sony to Toshiba EMI in the 80's. The copyright of "Europe Trilogy" seems to move with him, while CBS Sony always have had the copyright of Anokoro Marie Laurencin (1983) and Venezia (1984). The most likely guess is: When CBS Sony made remix versions for Le Bar Tango, original tapes were lost somewhere, and only remix versions were left, and they were sent to Toshiba EMI.
I don't understand why versions without Nanako's voice were made. There may be some copyright problems in using Nanako's voice. (After releasing album as Spy in 1980, she quit singing until 1995.) Or there may be little reason to do it; it was fashionable to make remix version in 1985. Anyway, the original tapes were most likely to be lost in making these stupid remix album.
I think CBS Sony must search the lost tapes seriously just like Columbia is making great effort to discover the hidden treasures and to release them as Legacy series. There used to be a paper slip included in Anokoro Marie Laurencin (1983), and it says that music lovers should buy records, not copy music. I felt something strange about it, and now it becomes just a joke. When Japanese music companies don't love music, music lovers have right to choose whether buy music or copy music.
I decided not to buy the re-issue CDs, and to make CDRs from analog records until "real" ones are released. ( Belle Excentrique (1981) may not have remix problem. But I don't buy it as a protest.)
The problem in making CDRs is the noises in my records. I don't use noise reduction software because it also deletes the audio signals. However, I recently got the CDR recorded from old analog records with using noise reduction software, and it sounded superb. Adobe Audition was used for this production. I think it is a wonderful software. But it is expensive, and only for Windows. Another option is BIAS Sound Soap Pro. It is also expensive. Cheaper version Sound Soap 2 will be released soon. I am waiting for it.
Van Morrison at Rainbow in 1973
Peter Barakan wrote somewhere that It's Too Late to Stop Now (1974) of Van Morrison was his all-time favorite album, and he was not able to forget the excitement of seeing BBC TV program of that concert. Recently, I read Nick Hornby's Songbook (2003), and I found that Nick Hornby wrote the same thing. (Two people insist that it is the best of Van Morrison. I cannot decided which is the best, though I think the album is in the best 5 of Morrison.)
Hornby's essay made me want to see the video. Thanks to internet, I could find the video in several weeks at the ebay. And I got it. The visual quality of the video is so so, the sound quality is OK. (The video is taken from the MTV show, not from original broadcasting of BBC.) Of course, the performance is very exciting. The video includes Take Your Hand Out Of My Pocket, Here Comes The Night, Just Wanna Make Love, Brown Eyed Girl, Moonshine Whiskey, Moondance, Help Me, Domino, Caravan,& Cypress Avenue. So there are many differences from It's Too Late to Stop Now (1974) . The video made me want to see more of the performances in the show such as Saint Dominic's Preview and Listen to the Lion.
Most exciting thing in the video is not Van Morrison, but it is the Caledonia Soul Orchestra including strings. It is so beautiful to see 5 strings players on the stage. Particularly, a cello player, Terry Adams, looks so sexy. It is purely a visual pleasure to see her playing cello. The second exciting thing is Van Morrison's movement. Very R&B influenced gestures. At the end of the concert, he moved like James Brown and shouted "It's too late to stop now", and walked away from the stage. Someone, please release this video officially.
Records of the Year: Long-Time-No-See Records
"In my mind I can't study war no more. Save the people. Save the children. Save the country." (Laura Nyro)
It's the end of another year. The year of disaster and terrorism etc. It seems to be meaningless to choose "record of the year" things. But I do it just by the forces of the "High Fidelity" type of habit.
Even though I don't buy many "new" records, I start thinking about "records-of-the-year" things when December comes. So, I did it again, though it is not an exciting list.
The list is mainly made of long-awaited albums, long-forgotten recordings, and surprise release of almost-forgotten artist etc. One exception is one-year-interval album of Adriana Calcanhotto in the name of Adriama Partimpim. She is constantly making great albums!!!
I feel sorry that I can't find a place for Patti Smith in my list. Her "Trampin'" is one of the most often heard albums of the year. It includes good songs, but I am feeling ambivalent on that album because it also sounds somehow "weak". In France it is released with her first official live album, "live aux vieilles charrues 2004". Moreover, recently, her radio broadcasted live recordings is available on this page. Together with these two "strong" live recordings, "Trampin'" can replace one of ten albums. But it is difficult to delete any of them.
Have a happy new year, everyone.
1. Brian Wilson: Smile
2. Laura Nyro: Live at the filmore East May 30, 1971
3. Paul Simon: The Paul Simon Song Book
4. Bob Dylan: Bob Dylan Live1964 Concert at Philharmonic Hall
5. Alyson Williams: It's About Time
6. The Blue Nile: High
7. Fripp & Eno: The Equatorial Stars
8. Stina Nordenstam: The World Is Saved
9. Sheila Majid: Cinta Kita
10. Adriana Partimpim: S.T.
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