Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Nine Inch Nails/Godspeed You! Black Emperor-10/24/13 Philips Arena, Atlanta, GA

After a four-year break in which Trent Reznor announced the end of Nine Inch Nails as a touring entity at the Wave Goodbye tour of 2009 with Jane’s Addiction. NIN has finally decided to return after all for the Tension 2013 tour led by Reznor with a line-up that includes previous NIN live members in guitarist/keyboardist Robin Finck, keyboardist/multi-instrumentalist Alessandro Cortini, and drummer/multi-instrumentalist Ilan Rubin. Joining this new line-up is Telefon Tel Aviv co-founder Josh Eustis on guitar/bass/keyboards/other instruments for the band’s recent festival tour in the U.S., Asia, and Europe. For the 2013 Tension arena tour, NIN will be joined renowned bassist Pino Palladino as well as backing vocalists Lisa Fischer and Sharlotte Gibson.

In my fourth time seeing NIN live, this show is definitely going to be different from previous shows I went from the Live: With Teeth summer amphitheater tour of 2006 with Bauhaus and TV on the Radio and the Wave Goodbye tour in 2009 with Jane’s Addiction and Street Sweeper Social Club that were at the Aaron’s Amphitheater at Lakewood. The other show I went to see NIN was in 2008 for the Lights in the Sky tour with Deerhunter at the Gwinnett Arena in Duluth, GA. For this show at the Philips Arena in Atlanta, things are definitely different as the band will be joined by the experimental post-rock band Godspeed You! Black Emperor.

Arriving at around 7 PM at the Philips Arena where I parked a few blocks away because I didn’t want to spend $20 for parking very close to the arena. Fortunately, the parking building I chose was at half the price as I also spent an extra $10 on gas and nearly $9 for dinner at Krystal’s which I haven’t had in nearly two years. Upon arriving at the arena, I realized that the $63 I spent on my ticket was definitely worth it as I managed to get an excellent view of the stage at section 111 instead of having to sit on side of the stage back in 2008. The arena was only half-full by the time Godspeed You! Black Emperor played at around 7:30 PM. They only did two very long pieces as it’s mostly drone-rock instrumentals that is very heavy as behind them was a series of surreal images from a film projector.

I only missed a bit of the performance because I had to take a leak, which I admit is quite unprofessional but my bladder isn’t strong as it was years ago. Still, I didn’t miss much as I was able to hear the music as they’re definitely an amazing band where I liked the heaviness of the music though it wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea. I really liked the presentation of the show as I got a good look from the soundboards on the stage floor where the film projectionist Karl Lemieux was grabbing different reels of film stock to show these very strange images of film and stuff that is presented in a surreal fashion.

Their performance ended at around 8:10 PM where the arena definitely began to fill up as a lot of music was played including a couple of cuts from the soundtrack for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I chatted with a few people during the show as some of them were attending their very first NIN show. Then the house lights went out as the band opened up with Copy of A as lights from above the stage start to pop up for each member of the live band as it started with drummer Ilan Rubin, bassist Pino Palladino, keyboardist Alessandro Cortini, and Trent Reznor. Guitarists Robin Finck and Josh Eustis later appear on opposite sides of the state with Finck playing a sequencer as the song intensifies as does the lights. Then comes 1,000,000 as it just continues to play with that sense of upbeat energy with Eustis on the guitar as the white lights remain on top of the band while they continue to blare with its elliptical light presentation.

The rock continues with Terrible Lie as the lights definitely blare right at the audience for the song as Finck is back on the guitar while the presence of Rubin and Palladino definitely makes a very solid rhythm section. While Palladino doesn’t move very much, it doesn’t matter since he definitely adds a lot of power to the bass. Even in the next song in March of the Pigs which is definitely a crowd favorite which plays into a lot of lights including shades of red as things darken down a bit for Piggy where Palladino shines on the bass with Eustis providing percussion into the song.

The next set showcased the band’s presentation where backup vocalists Lisa Fischer and Sharlotte Gibson appear as a metallic screen comes down in front of the stage where there’s a lot of these amazing yet colorful visuals that play into the songs. The first is the funky All Time Low as it plays to some colorful visuals while Disappointed was a major highlight as far as the visuals were concerned as it had this very strange look where lines started to appear and then comes this very 3-D like cube that appears on the screen to play with the song’s rhythms. All Time Low even features lyrics from Closer to get things going as the visual portion of the show continues with the single Came Back Haunted where it’s all red while the lights only appear on everyone who is singing on the chorus. The ballad Find My Way where everyone with the exception of Reznor appears in silhouette against a blue background as it‘s one of the visual highlights of the show.

One of the major highlights for me was in a rearranged version of Sanctified from Pretty Hate Machine where Palladino definitely adds a new flavor in the bass where it is also filled with these dazzling visuals to accompany the song. Things definitely quite down for the piano instrumental The Frail as the screen lifted up from the stage as it sets up The Wretched which is a favorite among NIN fans. Various Methods of Escape appear as it continues the eight-person lineup as it’s a solid mid-tempo track while The Big Come Down is a major highlight where the lights above the stage are a real highlight in terms of how they play into that sense of fragility as it is close above the band.

Survivalism returns that sense of upbeat rock where it is all about that blaring light show that enthralls the audience as I managed to go down a few rows with a few other people who definitely seemed to enjoy my enthusiasm for the show as I was rocking out. Running slow things down a bit where it has a sense of funkiness to the performance. Then comes the ambient-instrumental A Warm Place where the screen comes back down in front of the stage where only smoke appears to play into that sense of mystique as it’s one of my favorite moments. The rock then returns into full force where the backup singers don’t appear as it comes down to such blistering songs like Somewhat Damaged, Wish, The Hand That Feeds, and Head Like A Hole.

After 10-15 minutes, the band returns for an unforgettable encore that includes the entrancing mid-tempo ballad of Even Deeper with its amazing visuals with its background screen as it also features Lisa Fischer doing some amazing vocals towards the song’s coda as she got a great reception. The light show continues for a cover of David Bowie’s I’m Afraid of Americans that Reznor was apart of for its 1997 EP as continued that sense of hard rock. Things slow down for the somber While I’m Still Here where Reznor trades vocals with the backing singers while Josh Eustis plays the saxophone solo where it is followed by the low-key instrumental Black Noise. Closing the show is the classic ballad Hurt where Reznor, Eustis, Finck, and Palladino play in front of the screen to images of despair while Cortini and Rubin are behind the screen as it definitely ends the show on a high note.

For me personally, this was the best show I’ve been to since I first saw NIN back in 2006 with Bauhaus and TV on the Radio. Largely because I was surrounded by a small band of people who were just enthralled by the show and enjoyed my enthusiasm as I rocked out to some songs and such doing air guitars, air bass, air drums, and air keyboards while singing along. Though only 70-80% of the arena was filled, not everyone in the section I was sitting in seemed to enjoy themselves as they probably sat back and looked jaded. That was a bit of a downer for me as I was like “what the fuck are you guys even doing here?” They were probably a bunch of jaded hipsters who don’t know good music if it came out of their ass.

As for the band themselves, I would say that this is the best line-up so far in terms of musicianship and presentation. Since I’ve seen Reznor, Rubin, Finck, and Cortini in the band in previous shows, there weren’t many surprises from them as they did what they did where Finck is still a fucking beast when it comes to stage presence and such. Josh Eustis is also a bit energetic though is more in the background as he’s manage to be a solid addition to the band. Though I know there’s been a lot of complaints about Pino Palladino for not moving around very much. Then again, he’s Pino Palladino. The guy is a big name and all he needs to do is play the bass and he just delivers. The addition of Lisa Fischer and Sharlotte Gibson definitely broadens the sound a bit more as their vocals add more spice to the funkier and mid-tempo songs as well as the ballad giving them more in these songs as well as making them fresh.

Yet, the audience for the most part definitely enjoyed it as they were cheering and clapping while I even saw those dancing to the songs. I would say that Atlanta had a damn good time as everyone came out of the arena happy and got their moneys worth. That is why I consider NIN to be one of the best live bands ever. They don’t bullshit when it comes to putting on a show with lights and such that really does something different and just overwhelm the audience. I really hope to see them again real soon though I wish I can to Australia/New Zealand to see them tour with Queens of the Stone Age.

Here are some photos by the following: thatguymark:


Godspeed You! Black Emperor: Hope Drone/Behemoth

NIN: Copy of A/1,000,000/Terrible Lie/March of the Pigs/Piggy/All Time Low/Disappointed/Came Back Haunted/Find My Way/Sanctified/The Frail/The Wretched/Various Methods of Escape/The Big Come Down/Survivalism/Running/A Warm Place/Somewhat Damaged/Wish/The Hand That Feeds/Head Like A Hole

Encore: Even Deeper/I’m Afraid of Americans/While I’m Still Here/Black Noise/Hurt

NIN Reviews: halos: halo 1 - halo 2 - halo 3 - halo 4 - halo 5 - halo 6 - halo 7 - halo 8 - halo 9 - halo 10 - halo 11 - halo 12 - halo 13 - (halo 14) - (halo 15) - (halo 16) - (halo 17) - (halo 18) - (halo 19) - (halo 20) - (halo 21) - (halo 22) - (halo 23) - (halo 24) - (halo 25) - (halo 26) - (halo 27) - (halo 28) - (halo 29) - (halo 30) - (halo 31) - (halo 32)

seeds: (seed 1) - (seed 2) - (seed 3) - (seed 4) - (seed 5) - (seed 6) - (seed 7) - (seed 8)

Trent Reznor/Atticus Ross Soundtracks: null 1 - null 2 - (null 3) - (null 4) - (null 5) - (null 6) - (null 7)

Soundtracks/Miscellaneous: The Broken Movie - Natural Born Killers OST - Quake - Lost Highway OST

Concerts: (NIN/Bauhaus/TV on the Radio-6/7/06 Atlanta, GA Hi-Fi Buys Amphitheater) - (NIN/Deerhunter-8/13/08 Duluth, GA Gwinnett Arena) - (NIN/Jane’s Addiction/Street Sweeper Social Club-5/19/09 Atlanta, GA Hi-Fi Buys Amphitheater) - NIN/Jesus & Mary Chain/Tobacco-9/27/18 Atlanta, GA Fox Theatre

© thevoid99 2013

Monday, October 28, 2013

Lou Reed: A Tribute

At the Big Apple that is also known as the City that Never Sleeps, New York City just got quieter as on October 27, 2013. The city lost one of its great treasures in Lou Reed who died from liver disease at the age of 71. If Frank Sinatra was considered the King of New York back in the 1940s and 1950s. Reed would take on that mantle since the 1970s and do it with such class and danger making the city just as exciting. A young Jewish kid from Brooklyn who grew up in Long Island, Reed personified the city in its ugliness and at its most dangerous. Yet, that is one of the reasons why the city was so fun as he was their king though he acted like one of them by walking on the city and such.

There is no question that Lou Reed’s contribution to popular music is important with his work with the Velvet Underground to his amazing solo career. Brian Eno said it best that for those that had bought Velvet Underground and Nico when it first came out started a band afterwards. The four studio albums the Velvet Underground made from that debut w/ Nico as well as White Light White Heat, the third self-titled release, and Loaded are all quintessential in the world of rock n’ roll. Though they never sold a lot of records from 1967 to 1970, there wouldn’t be punk rock in the 1970s if it wasn’t for the Velvets as there also wouldn’t be post-punk, alternative rock, indie, or anything that was daring if it wasn’t for Lou Reed, John Cale, Sterling Morrison, Maureen Tucker, Doug Yule, and Nico being part of that entity.

All of those albums that Reed did as a member of the Velvets as well as compilations and box sets of outtakes and unreleased material showcase a wealth of music that wasn’t just ahead of its time. It was also dangerous not just in the subject matters such as drugs, sex, and things that were considered taboo and adult in the late 1960s. While Reed may have not had the kind of vocals that was considered fantastic in comparison to a lot of the mainstream music that was playing on the radio. It did appeal to those who weren’t comfortable with their vocal ranges as Reed was also someone who didn’t know many chords in playing the guitar. Yet he did said that even if you knew only one or two chords, there are a million things than can be done with so little which definitely appealed to the world of punk.

After leaving the Velvets in 1970, Reed would begin what would be an outstanding solo career that began in 1971. Though it got off to a rough start with his self-titled debut released in that year. It would a young up-and-coming artist in David Bowie who would help Lou Reed get success as a solo artist with the help of Bowie’s Spiders from Mars guitarist Mick Ronson as they produced what many consider to be his greatest solo achievement in Transformer. If there’s one solo record of his that anyone should start with, it’s this one. It’s an album from start to finish that is a joy to listen to as it features such classic tracks as the ballad Perfect Day, the love song Satellite of Love, the crunchy rocker Vicious, and of course, his only hit single in his entire career in Walk on the Wild Side.

While Reed maybe famous to the public at large for that one song and introduce him to a wide audience, he was still a cult artist of sorts with a devoted following that would grow in the decades to come. Albums such as Berlin (my favorite), Rock N’ Roll Animal, Blue Mask, New York, Songs for Drella with John Cale, Magic & Loss, and The Raven showcase an artist who was willing to be daring, dangerous but also filled with a craftsmanship and care as a songwriter that is unique. He was also someone who made record that were quite questionable such as his last studio release in a very strange collaboration with the metal band Metallica in the album Lulu. While it wasn’t a total disaster, it was still an album that didn’t have anything great to offer though it showed that Reed could still keep up with guys who were younger than him.

Throughout Reed’s solo career that also featured stories about his notorious drug use that had him competing with the likes of Keith Richards of who was the most notorious rock drug user. Like Richards, Reed would eventually clean up his act while maintaining that air of danger as Reed also created one of the most daring artistic statements with a double album in 1975 called Metal Machine Music which was a record of feedback that is all over the place that just goes on in four different sides. It’s a record that either was loved or hated as there was no question that it would help pave the way for genres such as noise-pop, shoe gaze, industrial, and all sorts of crazy-ass avant-garde music. Lester Bangs was right in calling the album genius as he was known for having a love-hate relationship with Reed.

Reed definitely earned his title as the King of New York while maintaining his status as a regular guy who loved rock n’ roll and doo-wop as one of his great contributions in the 1990s was a blistering cover of Doc Pomus’ This Magic Moment in tribute to the man that helped learn how to write songs. It appeared in David Lynch’s 1997 film Lost Highway where it was used in an effective moment in the film proving that Reed could do wonders to a great song.

One of my favorite Lou Reed moments was in an appearance in the Nine Inch Nails touring documentary Self Destruct from their 1997 Closure home video release where Reed was backstage talking to Trent Reznor praising him for rocking very smart as they had a beer together. It’s a moment where one of the coolest guys in rock gave a thumbs up to one of my favorite artists in the world.

Lou Reed definitely was a class act as another moment that I think plays into his legendary status is a rare duet with longtime friend David Bowie at Bowie’s 50th birthday concert in 1997 at Madison Square Garden in the song Queen Bitch that was Bowie’s tribute to Reed and the Velvets.

New York City will never be the same as does the world as Reed’s influence in music was also important to the world of social and cultural changes in Czechoslovakia where Vaclav Havel cited Reed and the Velvet Underground as a profound influence for the Velvet Revolution to occur in the late 1980s during the Fall of Communism in Eastern Europe. It’s not just these changes that Reed inspired as he was also influential to many musicians as Cowboy Junkies created an amazing cover of the Velvets’ Sweet Jane while Duran Duran did a cover of Reed’s Perfect Day that Reed himself loved. There will never be another Lou Reed. Yet, right now. He’s probably rocking out w/ Nico, Sterling Morrison, John Lennon, Kurt Cobain, Mick Ronson, and Doc Pomus while going to the bar where Dimebag Darrell Abbott is the bartender. We will miss you Lou. Thank you for the music.

R.I.P. Lewis Allan “Lou” Reed (1942-2013)

© thevoid99 2013

Monday, August 19, 2013

Nine Inch Nails-Everything (new song)

Well, Trent Reznor premiered a new NIN song called Everything and well... it's very different from what is expected from Reznor and NIN. In a way, it's kind of poppy but has a nice edge to it. There's elements of the Cure in this song. See what you peeps think...

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Nine Inch Nails-Copy of A/Disappointed (new song) Live at Ansan Valley Rock Festival in South Korea

Another new song has emerged from yesterday's show in South Korea called Disappointed which is this very exotic song with these very catchy beats mixed in with some serene string arrangements performed by Robin Finck and Josh Eustis. This is already making Hesitation Marks one of the most anticipated albums of 2013 right now.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Nine Inch Nails-Copy of A/Sanctified (Live at Fuji Rock in Japan)

Another new clip has emerged in a new song called Copy of A which is truly a frenetic and intense track as the performance itself is just unlike anything the band has done as Trent Reznor has stated that the performance approach is inspired by the Talking Heads film Stop Making Sense. The other song in the video is a new re-done version of Sanctfied from the NIN debut album Pretty Hate Machine back in 1989 which is clearly just a fantastic re-interpretation of a classic song held by Josh Eustis' bass groove and the layers of electronics in the track. The visuals for both songs are just amazing as it's obvious that NIN is the show to go to for 2013.

Nine Inch Nails-Find My Way (Live at Fuji Rock in Japan)

A video for the new NIN song Find My Way has just been unveiled as the band just made their first live appearance since the fall of 2009 in a new line-up that features guitarist Robin Finck, drummer/keyboardist Ilan Rubin, multi-instrumentalist Alessandro Cortini, and the newest member of the band in Josh Eustis of Telefon Tel Aviv. The song itself is just absolutely beautiful. I will definitely be seeing them this coming October at the Phillips Arena in Atlanta.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Big Star: Keep An Eye on the Sky

Originally Written and Posted at Epinions.com on 3/7/10 w/ Additional Edits.

From 1971-1974 and two studio albums with a third album released a few years later, Big Star is a band, despite their lack of commercial success, that proved to be very influential to bands that would follow later on in the 1980s alternative music scene. Often considered the greatest cult band next to the Velvet Underground, Big Star’s blend of catchy pop with crunching power chords would be the formation for the sub-genre known as power-pop. Led by former Box Tops vocalist/guitarist Alex Chilton along with vocalist/guitarist Chris Bell, bassist/vocalist Andy Hummel, and drummer/vocalist Jody Stephens. Big Star is a band that had the pop craftsmanship of the Beatles but also the raucous sound of the Kinks with an American sensibility.

Though Chris Bell would leave the band following of the release of their 1972 debut #1 Record to forge a brief solo career that tragically ended in 1978 following his death from a car accident. The band forged on for their 1974 album Radio City that didn’t sold well just like the first album as Andy Hummel leave the band just before its release leaving Alex Chilton and Jody Stephens to work on their third album with producer Jim Dickinson. The sessions proved to be troubling as the band broke up and the album was eventually released in 1978. By the 1980s as Chilton forged a solo career with a degree of cult success, Big Star became a big inspiration as bands like R.E.M., the Replacements, the Bangles, and other bands acknowledged Big Star’s influence.

By the 1990s, Alex Chilton and Jody Stephens reformed the band with Posies members Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow for occasional tours and an album in 2005 called In Space to mixed reviews. Big Star’s music was suddenly appearing in films and TV, notably That 70’s Show as the song In the Street was the theme to the show performed by Cheap Trick. In 2009 with Big Star still considered to be widely influential by indie bands and a new wave of power-pop acts, Rhino released a four-disc box set featuring demos, outtakes, and a live performance recording from 1973 that also coincides with a deluxe reissue of Chris Bell’s posthumous 1992 album I Am the Cosmos called Keep An Eye on the Sky.

Keep an Eye on the Sky is a four-disc box set that chronicles Big Star’s recordings from 1968 to 1975 including some solo material from Chris Bell. Featuring early material from the band including Chris Bell’s pre-Big Star projects that is featured in the first disc. With the first three discs chronicling each of the band’s three albums, the fourth disc features a live recording from a January 1973 performance in Memphis, Tennessee. The box set is widely considered to be one of the greatest examinations of one of rock’s most influential and overlooked bands of the 1970s as the box set truly lives up to the legendary status of Big Star.

Disc 1

The first disc begins with two tracks from Chris Bell’s early work including a solo track and from a band Bell was in before Big Star. First is Psychedelic Stuff, an upbeat rock with a snarling riff and bopping rhythms led by Chris Bell’s low, hollowed vocals with crazy lyrics that features tempo changes and weird lyrics. Next is All I See Is You by one of Bell’s early bands in Icewater. The song is a mid-tempo love ballad with a somber piano and Bell’s trademark, high-pitch wailing vocals as it is a dreamy track that features some of the early elements of power-pop. An early mix of Alex Chilton’s Every Day As We Grow Closer appears as the mid-tempo ballad with Chilton’s soothing vocals as the song has a smooth rhythm and a flourishing piano track and a wailing synthesizer track. An early version of the ballad Try Again performed by another of Bell’s early bands in Rock City is presented in a country-style ballad with soothing lap steel slides and Bell’s somber vocals.

The next ten tracks feature a large portion of material from #1 Record as songs like the rocking Feel and Don’t Lie To Me are presented in the same version like in the album as is the mid-tempo ballad The Ballad Of El Goodo and the acoustic ballad Try Again. Yet, the rest of the material from that album are presented in alternate mixes with extended studio chatter as songs like the upbeat In The Street and When My Baby’s Beside Me along with acoustic ballads Thirteen and Give Me Another Chance, the mid-tempo romp of My Life Is Right, and the exotic The India Song. The differences between the versions in the studio track and these mixes are some of vocal presentation while My Life Is Right has an acoustic intro in that mix. Gone With The Light is an acoustic ballad sung by Chris Bell with washy riffs and Bell’s dreamy vocals that is complemented with melancholic lyrics as it is an amazing rarity from Bell and the band which includes fast-paced riffs of the next song Watch The Sunrise. That song appears in a different version from the album as a single which is thirty-four seconds shorter than the album version.

The next six tracks are more alternate versions and rarities from the #1 Record sessions. Alternate versions of St 100/6, The India Song, Feel, The Ballad Of El Goodo, and a singles mix of In The Street appear as they feature different vocal mixes. Particularly In The Street that is presented in a slower rhythm and a rougher mix while The India Song is presented in an acoustic presentation with the keyboards still prominent in the recording. Feel doesn’t feature a brass section to complement more of the vocal harmonies in the band. The section also includes an excerpt of a Rock City song called The Preacher which is a swooning mid-tempo ballad performed by Bell and the band that includes a soothing string orchestra. Country Morn is an alternate version of Watch The Sunrise with different lyrics though retaining many of its acoustic melodies all sung by Chris Bell.

The next three tracks are demos, two of which would appear in their final versions for different releases. First is a band performance demo of Chris Bell’s I Got Kinda Lost with a more rollicking performance from the band. Next is a demo of Back Of A Car, that would later appear in Radio City, that appears in a rough form with the vocals not as polished in its final version. The last track to close the first disc is a demo cover of Loudon & London Wainwright’s Motel Blues which is presented in a soothing, acoustic form with arpeggio-laden riffs and melodies with Chilton’s somber vocals.

Disc 2

The second disc is filled with demos and alternate versions of material largely from Radio City plus the single release of Chris Bell’s I Am The Cosmos/You And Your Sister and early demos of songs for Third/Sister Lovers. Opening the second disc is a demo of Chris Bell’s There Was A Light performed by the band that has a slower yet rougher sound than the final version Bell made as a solo artist. The next two demos for Life Is White and What’s Going Ahn are both presented in acoustic forms with Alex Chilton performing them in their rough incarnations. The next twelve tracks is Radio City in its entirety though some tracks like Mod Lang, Back Of A Car, and the piano ballad Morpha Too appear in alternate mixes that featured studio chatter and different vocal mixes. The rest of the material in that section are the mastered tracks of the album that includes standouts like the raucous O My Soul and the mid-tempo love song September Gurls.

Following that album in its entirety are two alternate versions of O My Soul and She’s A Mover with the former sounding much more raucous with a slower yet swooning intro while the latter is also raucous with an echoed vocal mix. A rehearsal version of Daisy Glaze with the band performing the song with an unpolished mix and performance that is still lively than its final version. The next two tracks are from Chris Bell’s lone 1978 release in the single I Am The Cosmos and You And Your Sister. The latter of which features Alex Chilton singing back-up in what is the highlight of Bell’s tragic yet stellar musical career. The next five tracks are acoustic demos for material that would be part of the band’s next album Third/Sister Lovers. Songs like Blue Moon, Thank You Friends, Take Care, Nighttime, and a cover of the Velvet Underground’s Femme Fatale are performed with such richness that it must’ve been impossible to make them into the songs they turned out for the band’s third album. Closing the second disc is an acoustic demo of You Get What You Deserve that is much richer than its mastered version from Radio City.

Disc 3

The third disc features material all recorded or made for the band’s third album entitled Third/Sister Lovers with famed Memphis producer Jim Dickinson. Opening the third disc are four demos for that album which includes an unreleased track of a song that didn’t make it into the album called Lovely Day. A song that is a wonderful ballad that expresses Chilton’s somber voice to describe a day with imagery-laden lyrics as its presented in a rich, acoustic form. Demos for Downs, Jesus Christ, and Holocaust are all different with Downs is being accompanied by an electric guitar while Jesus Christ becomes a rich, acoustic ballad. The demo for Holocaust is true to its original yet stark piano ballad but without the haunting production textures that Jim Dickinson provided for the mastered version. An alternate version demo of Big Black Car which is performed with a soft, electric guitar accompaniment and a backing vocalist for some parts of the song.

The next 18 tracks are the 17 of the 19 songs mastered for the 1992 Rykodisc reissue of Third/Sister Lovers but without the track listing order that Chilton wanted for the album as each song represent the material that appears in the band’s third studio album. Opening that section is an extended intro to Jesus Christ called Manana with its circus-like loops and playful flavor which then segues into Jesus Christ. Even as the material ranges from a country-style ballad take on the Velvet Underground’s Femme Fatale plus haunting ballads like Kanga Roo, Holocaust, Big Black Car, and Take Care plus raucous numbers like Kizza Me, You Can’t Have Me, and a cover of Whole Lot Of Shakin’ Goin’ On.

The last three tracks of the album feature an unreleased track plus two alternate mixes of songs from Third/Sister Lovers. First is the recorded version of Lovely Day that becomes a mid-tempo ballad of sorts that features a similar melody and rhythm to Stroke It Noel. The alternate mixes for the cover of the Kinks’ Till The End Of The Day and a cover of the standard Nature Boy feature some polished mixes in the former while the latter has a clearer vocal mix to close the third disc.

Disc 4: Live at Lafayette’s Music Room, Memphis, TN, January 1973

The fourth and final disc of the box set is a live performance from the band where it was just a trio featuring Alex Chilton, Andy Hummel, and Jody Stephens as they’re playing to a small crowd opening for another band. Opening with the raucous When My Baby’s Beside Me, songs like that one along with She’s A Mover, Don’t Lie To Me, and a take on former bandmate Chris Bell’s I Got Kinda Lost that showed the band’s more energetic yet raucous sound. Yet, mid-tempo tracks like Way Out West, My Life Is Right, The Ballad Of El Goodo, Bell’s There Was A Light, Back Of A Car, and In The Street show a balance between the band’s raw sound and their knack for pop sensibilities.

Even ballads like Thirteen, Try Again, St 100/6, and Watch The Sunrise have a sense of richness in its performance along with amazing vocal harmonies from Chilton and Hummel. The India Song is given an acoustic treatment where it’s one of the highlights of the performance. Yet, the surprise of the 20-song set is the choice of covers the band has chosen to do including a ragged take of the Flying Burrito Brothers’ Hot Burrito #2, a bopping take on Marc Bolan/T. Rex’s Baby Strange with driving guitar riffs, a raucous yet charging approach on Todd Rundgren’s Slut, and a blazing cover of the Kinks’ Come On Now with rousing riffs and pummeling drums. Closing the fourth disc and performance is a rousing yet energetic performance of O My Soul. Presented as a bonus in the fourth disc is a video clip of the band rehearsing circa 1972 with an alternate mix of Thirteen playing in the background.

Keep An Eye on the Sky is a glorious box set from Big Star and certainly one of the best reissues of 2009. While it’s a set that is really targeted towards hardcore fans of the band as well as rock and power-pop enthusiasts. It’s a box set that has something to offer what other half-hearted compilations about the band failed to do. Those new to the band should stick to getting the band’s three studio albums made in the 1970s. Though they’re not easily available through retail, they can be found in the Internet as the box set does succeed in how important Big Star is to popular music. In the end, Keep An Eye on the Sky is a marvelous box set that chronicles the amazing work made by one of rock’s most overlooked legends in Big Star.

Big Star Reviews: (#1 Record) - (Radio City) - Third/Sister Lovers - (In Space) - Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me

© thevoid99 2013

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Various Artists-Trainspotting OST

Originally Written and Posted at Epinions.com on 12/23/08.

The soundtrack to the 1996 film Trainspotting compiled by the film's director Danny Boyle is considered to be one of the best films soundtracks ever made. Released at the time Brit-pop was becoming the big thing in Britain. The soundtrack contained several Brit-pop luminaries like Blur, Pulp, Elastica, and Sleeper along with the British art-rock band Primal Scream. Electronic music is also explored with contributions from Bedrock, New Order, Leftfield, and Underworld while legends like Iggy Pop, Lou Reed, and Brian Eno also contribute to the film's soundtrack. The result is one of the best film soundtracks ever created.

The album opener is the Iggy Pop classic Lust For Life from the 1977 album of the same name. With its hard-hitting, loud-pounding drums, shaky rhythms and melodies, and Pop's nasally yet cool baritone vocals. Filled with lyrics about substances and an upbeat lifestyle, it's a great opener to the song and film despite its dark tone. Brian Eno's ambient piece Deep Blue Day from his 1983 Apollo: Atmosphere and Soundtracks album with Daniel Lanois and Roger Eno is a dreamy, swooning track led by Brian Eno's synthesizer arrangements and Lanois' pedal-slide work that flourishes throughout the track. Played during Mark Renton's swim to retrieve suppositories, it's one of the most beautiful cuts on the album. The ten-and-a-half minute instrumental title track by Primal Scream is another amazing track with a smooth rhythm, warbling beats, swirling synthesizers, and a guitar track. Produced by Andrew Weatherhall, the track marks a return to the band's experimental sound as it plays to the hazy conversation between Renton and Sick Boy.

Next is a cover of Blondie's Atomic by Sleeper. Led by Louise Werner's smooth, low-sounding vocals, the song is definitely faithful to Blondie's original version with its famed guitar melody, swift rhythms, and hypnotic electronic arrangements. The track plays up to the moment Renton meets Diane. New Order's electro-pop song Temptation with its chugging rhythms, flourishing synthesizer, Peter Hook's melodic bass lines, and Bernard Sumner's vocals is another famed track on the album. Mostly heard in the background and later sung by Diane in a weird dream sequence, it's one of the most endearing songs on the album. Nightclubbing is another Iggy Pop song that's from his 1977 solo debut album The Idiot produced by David Bowie. With its heartbeat-like rhythm, fuzzy synthesizers, droning guitars, Bowie's piano track and Pop's eerie vocals, it's easily one of the darkest tracks on the album. Played during Renton and his gang's rising addiction towards heroin, it's a track that works in its dark tone.

Sing by Blur is an early song from the band with its droning guitars, haunting piano track, and Damon Albarn's vocals. The song refers to a tragic aftermath and famed chase scene as it plays up to the song's dramatic tone. Next is Lou Reed's ballad Perfect Day from 1972's Transformer album with Reed's somber vocals and a flourishing chorus led by Mick Ronson's string arrangements and Reed's poignant, melancholic lyrics. The song plays to Renton's overdose as he goes into a haze and near-death. Mile End by Pulp is a kooky song with smooth, swinging melodies, Jarvis Cocker's dark lyrics, and Candida Doyle's swooning keyboards. The song plays to Begbie being a nuisance to Renton's new lifestyle. For What You Dream Of by Bedrock featuring KYO is a techno number that plays up to the new, modern world of London that Renton seems to enjoy. With its shimmering synthesizers, breaking beats, and KYO's soulful vocals, it's another standout to reveal the world of electronic music in Britain.

Elastica's 2:1 from their 1995 landmark debut album is a minimalist rocker with mid-tempo, tapping beats, groove-laden guitars, and sturdy melodies with Justine Frischmann's smooth vocals. Played during Sick Boy's arrival to London and causing Renton more trouble, it's a fun, dark track that has a sense of humor. A Final Hit by Leftfield is an instrumental piece with eerie electronic arrangements and haunting bass line to play up to the drug deal meeting with Renton, Sick Boy, Spud, and Begbie with a sense of foreboding. Born Slippy (NUXX) by Underworld is a wonderful nine-minute, forty-five second electronic track with flourishing pianos, eerie synthesizers, and loud, pounding break-beats. The track plays up to the drama where Renton makes a fateful decision. The album closer Closet Romantic by Blur's Damon Albarn is a smooth, electro-beat track with harmoniums and keyboards as Albarn sings and speaks about the James Bond films that starred Sean Connery that's played in the final credits.

When it was released shortly after the film came out, it became a major hit that a year later. A second soundtrack was released featuring songs that were in the film but didn't make it into the soundtrack along with music that inspired the film. Yet, the soundtrack was a major hit in the days of Brit-pop while often considered to be an essential record of that period. While the soundtrack also introduced American audiences to the burgeoning electronica music scene that would come a year later to little fanfare. Yet, the soundtrack remains one of the best of all-time as it's often put in lists for all-time great film soundtracks.

The soundtrack to Trainspotting is easily one of the best films soundtracks ever created. Thanks to its mix of Brit-pop, 70s art-rock, and electronic music, it's an album that is truly perfect from start to finish. Like many great film soundtracks before and since, it works because it put all the right songs from the film and into a record that is enjoyable to hear. In the end, the soundtrack to Trainspotting is a great companion to the film as well as for Brit-pop enthusiasts.

Related: Trainspotting - Favorite Films #10: Trainspotting

© thevoid99 2013

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Best Albums of 2013... So Far...

Usually, I don't do half-year lists based on my history in writing about music but given the slate of new releases this year. 2013 has so far been an incredible year. So many good albums have come out so far and there's definitely more to come. Here are my 35 favorite albums so far...

1. My Bloody Valentine-MBV

2. Queens of the Stone Age-...Like Clockwork

3. David Bowie-The Next Day

4. Savages-Silence Yourself

5. Deerhunter-Monomania

6. Daft Punk-Random Access Memories (my mother's favorite album right now)

7. The National-Trouble Will Find Me

8. Phoenix-Bankrupt!

9. Yeah Yeah Yeahs-Mosquito

10. Boards of Canada-Tomorrow's Harvest

11. The Knife-Shaking the Habitual

12. Suede-Bloodsports

13. Sigur Ros-Kveikur

14. Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds-Push the Sky Away

15. Disclosure-Settle

16. Primal Scream-More Light

17. Deafhaven-Sunbather

18. Depeche Mode-Delta Machine

19. Kavinsky-Outrun

20. Clint Mansell-Stoker OST

21. Various Artists-After Dark 2

22. How to Destroy Angels-Welcome Oblivion

23. Autechre-Exai

24. Skinny Puppy-Weapon

25. Yo La Tengo-Fade

26. Various Artists-Trance OST

27. The Flaming Lips-The Terror

28. Dillinger Escape Plan-One of Us is the Killer

29. Broadcast-Berberian Sound Studio OST

30. Atoms for Peace-Amok

31. Mike Patton-The Place Beyond the Pines OST

32. The Joy Formidable-Wolf's Law

33. Various Artists-Sound City - Real to Reel

34. The Besnard Lakes-Until in Excess, Imperceptible UFO

35. Camera Obscura-Desire Lines

© thevoid99 2013