Phil: A handful of winters ago I met up with an old roommate of mine at a Belgian beer bar for happy hour that happened to have half-off Belgian draughts from 4:30 to 6:30. So there we were, in the glow of yellow lights and green carpet, talking about those kids we hadn’t seen in forever, about ex-girlfriends and abandoned buildings and photographs, just getting pretty damn drunk. So I walk out of the bar, and stumble the few blocks to the bus station, trying to make sure I don’t miss the 500 because it’s pretty damn cold and I get to the bus stop and of course I miss the bus because I’ve been drinking and have completely lost track of time so I put on my headphones not remembering which damn album I left in my walkman and
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 →
Pardon my absence once again, but you don’t want excuses, you want results.
What we have here is an anomaly, an anachronism, a man out of time. A Billy Pilgrim, if you will. The warm sound of tape, the warm lap steel,the electric guitar tone, the mumbling juxtaposition of Lou Reed and Leonard Cohen and Dylan, the strings seemingly lifted right from the end of Astral Weeks. It’s all here. Everything about this song (especially the production!) screams “I was written and recorded in 1976!”
But no! This album came out last month! And it makes me wonder how albums (or songs) use production values to present themselves as something else entirely. How much of the irresistible charm of this nine-and-a-half minute epic is due to its built-in nostalgia? Would Kings of Leon’s Sex on Fire be as irresistible as this song if it sounded like it was recorded in the 1970s?
These are the questions I have for you, gentle reader. Please listen and consider and respond.
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.
I think I can speak for my fellow SWR-ians by saying that the Books fucking rule. I heard them live once on a wintry night in Chicago; I was shushed during the boring-ass opening act by an overweight beardo hipster; the Books killed; in a blissed-out stupor I talked with one of the Books afterward. The cellist. His accent was too thick to understand. I tried to shake his hand and he wouldn’t have it. (Later, Jordy asked me, “Is that what you call him? Is he a Book?) Their live set, to be sure, was fantastic. The kind of show where time disappears.
At any rate, our pal Rob tipped me off to the fact that the Books are working on a new album, to be released in the next year. In the mean time, they’re touring. I missed ’em in NC; don’t make the same mistake.