Category Archives: Acoustic

Townes Van Zandt: Live at the Old Quarter, Houston, Texas

Townes Van Zandt:  Live at the Old Quarter, Houston, Texas (1977)

Adam: Legend (by which I mean Wikipedia) has it that the Old Quarter could “Comfortably accommodate 60 patrons” and that “More than 100 jammed into the room” for this week of shows in July, 1973.  Now, being the middle of July in Houston, it was tremendously hot.  Early on the album, Townes mentions something about the air conditioning being off, and how it’s really hot.  Thus, this album is best experienced on a sweltering summer night with no air conditioning.  In addition to the music (which I’ll discuss in a minute) the ambiance on this recording is second-to-none.  During quiet moments in the performance, we often hear beer bottles clinking together, and at one point a telephone rings.  These ambient noises do not detract whatsoever from the performance; they aren’t that loud.  In my opinion, the extraneous noise adds to the performances, in part because it allows one to understand how quiet those hundred hot, thirsty people had to be to allow those faint sounds to be audible on the recording. Continue reading

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Filed under 1970s, Acoustic, Country, Folk, Live, Singer-Songwriter

Bob Dylan: Live 1966 – The “Royal Albert Hall” Concert

bob_dylan_live_66

Bob Dylan:  Live 1966 – The “Royal Albert Hall” Concert

Jordy: It has always been difficult for me to listen to the man-and-his-guitar format.  Rock, in the end, is how a small group of musicians produces a singular, simultaneous sound.  Dylan’s acoustic set on the “Royal Albert Hall” Concert is the former yearning to be the latter.  Each of the songs he performs in it was originally recorded with an ensemble (“Mr. Tambourine Man” and “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue” are the closest to their original studio releases, lacking only the electric guitar and electric bass counterpoints, respectively).  The stripped-down acoustic versions from this bootleg sound raw and that’s not a compliment.  Furthermore, Dylan is in a fog throughout the set, allowing his strumming, vocals, and harmonica to wander arbitrarily.

 

Adam: The Dylan we hear on the acoustic half of this show is unique.  We know he’s burned out and quite possibly high on amphetamines.  He sounds detached from the music, and he sings in a slightly lower register than we are used to.  I think the unique sound of his voice here, coupled with the sparse instrumentation and the hushed reverence of the crowd (it’s easy to forget there is a crowd at all except when we hear applause between songs) makes the set feel intimate and romantic.  I think the best example of what I’m trying to say is in “Visions of Johanna.”  Listen to Dylan’s phrasing here:  “The country music sta-tion-plays-soft” and “Just Louieeeeese and her lover soooooo entwiiieeeeened/and these visions of Johanna that connnnnnn-quer my mieeeennnd.”  It obvious he wants no one but Johanna.  Paradoxically, given the detachment present in the performance, I think that this version is more expressive and romantic than the studio version.

Continue reading

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Filed under 1960s, Acoustic, Live, Rock, Singer-Songwriter

“I’m all strung out on heroin on the outskirts of town”

Warren-Zevon

Warren Zevon doesn’t get the credit he deserves for being a great songwriter.  He was well-respected among other musicians, and his songs are often covered by the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, and others.  As a teenager, Zevon briefly studied modern classical music with Igor Stravinsky, and in the 1970s, he was the touring keyboradist with the Everly Brothers as well as with Don and Phil Everly on their respective individual tours.  He was also an occasional stand-in for Paul Shaffer on both late-night iterations of David Letterman’s show.

Carmelita” from Preludes:  Rare and Unreleased Recordings (2007)

“Carmelita” is a junkie’s lament and one of Zevon’s most famous songs, after “Werewolves of London.”  The song first came to my attention recently after hearing a cover by GG Allin, of all people.  The version I’ve posted is an acoustic demo, but after comparing it to the original release I felt this version was more affecting.

Searching For A Heart” from Learning to Flinch (1993)

I very much like songs that are able to distill the complexities of love into such simple words, and yet still convey emotional depth, and “Searching for a Heart” succeeds admirably in that regard.

I Was in the House When the House Burned Down” from Life’ll Kill Ya (2000)

This is just a great song that showcases some of Zevon’s darkly comic style.

Posted by Adam

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Filed under 1970s, 1990s, 2000s, Acoustic, Live, Rock, Singer-Songwriter

Poll: Original versus Cover

New Order – “Love Vigilantes” from Low-Life [1985]

Iron & Wine – “Love Vigilantes” from Around the Well [2009]

Submitted for your approval:  two versions of the same song.  The original, by New Order, and the cover, by Iron & Wine.  Both have their merits, but this is a fight to the finish (is there any other kind of fight?).  Which version of the song is better?  This is completely subjective.  I like both versions of the song for different reasons.  I appreciate New Order for coming up with the song and writing such great lyrics, but I feel the Iron & Wine version is more evocative and truly does justice to the lyrics.  But now, instead of bloviating, I am going to make my voice heard in the poll, and so should you.  It takes two clicks.

Posted by Adam

3 Comments

Filed under 1980s, 2000s, Acoustic, Folk

“Joan of Arc rules Northeast, where the poor and the hipsters meet”

the protaganist of the S-K song below

the protaganist of the S-K song below

Sleater-Kinney – “Light Rail Coyote” from One Beat (2002)
Bill Fox – “Portland Town” from Transit Byzantium (1998)

I’m off to Portland, OR for a week of this, this, and this. So I offer two of my favorite Portland songs, including one from our main man, Bill Fox.

What are your fave geography tunes?

Buy S-K

Bill Fox is on iTunes, but you can check him out here

Posted by Glenn

2 Comments

Filed under 1990s, 2000s, Acoustic, Folk, Punk, Rock, Singer-Songwriter

Fishing at 3 a.m.

Henry Thomas – “Fishing Blues” (1928) from The Anthology of American Folk Music (1952)

I know that I posted this before, but last night I was awoken at 3:30 am by a neighbor blasting this song at full volume. Infuriating, but at least the guy’s got good taste. Please enjoy at any time that won’t piss your neighbors off.

More about the AAoFM

Taj Mahal performing “Fishing Blues”:

Posted by Glenn

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Filed under 1920s, Acoustic, Americana, Blues, Folk, Traditional, Video

Two songs I adore

Cans

Cans

There’s no theme or commentary to today’s post other than it’s Friday and I adore these two songs.

Can – “Mushroom” from Tago Mago (1971)
Califone – “Sawtooth Sung A Cheater’s Song” from Heron King Blues (2004)

What sounds good to you this Friday?

More Califone on SWR

More Can on SWR

Buy the ‘fone

Buy the ‘an

Posted by Glenn

9 Comments

Filed under 1970s, 2000s, Acoustic, Experimental, Folk, Post-rock, Prog Rock, Psychedelic, Rock, Roots rock, Space rock