Monday, March 5, 2007

The Resolution

Last week's finding that I purchased 61 cd's for myself last year gave me pause. I was a bit taken aback. I put myself through a little evaluation to see whether those purchases had any value or whether they really represented wasted money.

First, I identified listed the important musical events of the year which I attended and the artists, interests I discovered in the process. That helped a LOT with number two.
Second, I attempted to list each and every one of them. Result: 52/61! I think that's pretty good.
Finally, I identified remaining 9 discs and counted how many of the 61 I wished I hadn't bought, ones that didn't turn out to be something I'll listen to again. Seriously? None.

I've decided that I probably won't buy 61 cd's this year. But I haven't put a number on some target. But I'm going to document (here) my purchases to see if I begin to feel embarassed...

So here goes, since that post last week, I've bought the following:
Jamie Cullum's Twentysomething. I caught a 5-song set on Austin City Limits that I had recorded because Lyle Lovett was the lead act. Jamie Cullum is AMAZING. When he hit the scene, I purposefully avoided him because I hear enough standards chronicling the minutiae of Lyman's career (sorry adorable cousin, I can't help it) and also because people made these Billy Joel comparisons. I have a lot of respect for Joel and I have spent a lot of cash on Joel LPs many decades ago but, 1) I'm finished with Billy Joel, and 2) I forgot what number 2 is.

Anyway, I asked Lyman what he thought since I'm trying to not make mistakes with my cd money and he encouraged me. Well done; it is a great album and Cullum's a major talent.
David Gilmore Unified Presence; I saw Gilmore play a set with Christian McBride last year, meant to check him out; forgot. So technically I think this makes last year's total 62 and doesn't count as a purchase from last week. And for the record---I don't know how the man manages to do what he does with those guitar strings. And Ravi Coltrane's contributions on sax meet the standard set by McBride on bass.
Mark Knopfler/Emmylou Harris All the Roadrunning. I am a huge Mark Knopfler fan. I loved the Dire Straits and I've really enjoyed the soundtrack work that Knopfler has done in the last decade or so, its very different than his work with the Straits ---its largely Celtic and soothing. This purchase is the result, also, of watching broadcasts of live concerts on TV. I've got nothing against Emmylou but she's not my cup of tea. I saw them do two songs on "Soundstage" and I was pretty impressed (and happy to note that Guy Fletcher, long time Straits keyboards man was playing with them). In particular, the two did a very, very spare version of a Straits song from Brothers in Arms called "Why Worry". It never made sense to me as a Straits song; the lyrics were incongruous with the heavily arranged hypnotic vibe of that particular album. But the duet of voices and their guitars with only occassional drumming and keyboards really moved me. Like I almost cried.

A young Vince Vaughan
While I was writing this, Swingers came on. I was recently thinking that I'd like to see it again so I guess that makes today my lucky day. Jon Favreau was also great but I used to really love Vince Vaughan. Before he got to be nearly an A-list actor, he did some indie films where he seemed to gravitate to characters which were a little off, Steve Buscemi used to, and mostly still does. I loved him best when he was kind of creepy like that.


Drew said...

Definitely like the "Twentysomething" album. I have a little problem with his version of "Wind Cries Mary" but I think that's mostly because I really like Hendrix's version and haven't heard too many other versions of it that match it.

Did you ever see Vince Vaughan in "The Cell" or "A Cool, Dry Place".

Kathy said...

This is what I think about covers: if you're not going to show me something different about the song, leave it alone. I think jazz vocal standards get a big pass on this rule and I'm not sure they should.

Given that standard, I must say, I love Cullum's cover of WCM--it sounds like a completely different song, with different impact; its much more romantic, less ominous. Rob always uses the frozen pizza standard: its great so long as you don't expect it to be like fresh pizza. Its something else entirely but enjoyable nonetheless...

I think the same way of EC's two versions of "Layla" in fact... the unplugged version sounds so defeated; the original is full of a kind of energized desperation. Both are great.

Drew said...

I'll agree with your thoughts on covers and add that I have a hard time with some covers because of my love of the original. I've never heard another version of "Yesterday" that I like as much because I think the Beatles nailed it the first time. Boyz II Men did a decent job though... I will also add that while Jimi Hendrix and SRV have a couple of the same songs, "Little Wing" comes to mind, which are very similar in a lot of ways, I still feel that SRV put his own "stank" on it. I think you can be similar and still different. You can have the same mood, but stil come across differently. While I think he did a decent job of it, I think that's why I don't like Cullum's version of WCM as much. It changed the mood of the song too much for me. For me, I prefer the ominous, longing, broken heart feel to it rather than the more upbeat romantic feel that Cullum gives to it.

Kathy said...

I think we're agreed on the go/no-go criteria for covers.

I'll say that some covers just really surprise me and I'm very glad that people have done them. What comes to mind is Sheryl Crow's cover of Led Zeppelin's D'yer Mak'er---I always found LZ's version (which I liked very much) vaguely threatening; Sheryl's version I find coquettish and kind of flirty. A very fun perspective!

Lots of people find it unthinkable to cover Zeppelin but I really enjoyed very much of Encomium, the tribute cd of which Sheryl's cover appears. There's also a kickin' cover of Misty Mountain Hop by 4 Non Blondes. I'm not taking anything away from Led Zeppelin, they're the boys that rocked my high school years but I don't think their work ought to be canonized....