Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Episode 15

Click here for Episode 15!
Riff 'n Ralk Music Tock is back for our big fifteenth episode! We review Elvis Costello and The Roots Wise Up Ghost and Nine Inch Nails Hesitation Marks. 

A brief intermission: A note on some of Crimson's live work

Aside from THRaKaTTaK I haven't really discussed live Crimson.  I'll save you, the reader, from reading my mouth foaming fervor about it as well and simply make a few suggestions.  There is a lot of live material, the list is astonishing to say the least.  If I set up a tournament just for live material we would be here until the next presidential election.  So here are some good starting albums.  None of these are bootlegs and are available through DGM Live or other means.

VROOM VROOM or Live On Broadway - both are wonderful examples of the 90s Thrak era sound.  I have heard other live albums from this era and the mix is iffy at best.  VROOM VROOM has the better track list, but Live On Broadway sounds better and does a better job of accentuating the dual drummer model they had.  You could not go wrong either way, and it really is based on whether you prefer a better mix or setlist.

USA or Live In Asbury Park - Both are stellar albums.  USA is easy to find on vinyl which gives it bonus points.  Asbury Park is just an insane performance.  These two showcase the '73/'74 era.

Live In Chicago 8.7.2008 -The line-up that never was.  This form of Crimson lasted only a handful of shows before falling apart in a quick blaze of glory.  The dual drummer format is back and the mix allows for it to be showcased brilliantly.

Live at The Greek Theatre 8.3.1982 - I think the Beat tour was the best for 80s Crimson, they had the best selection of material and were creatively firing on all cylinders.  As is painfully obvious, I don't think any of the Three of a Perfect Pair material added much to their shows, and just added songs I'd rather not hear.  I know there are other great shows from this era, but this is the one that actually showed me how good 80's Crimson was.  Waiting Man as the show opener is just breath taking, and Bruford's violent drum solo for Indiscipline shows that there was great drumming in the 80s (you just had to find it).

Epitaph - A multidisc collection of live performances from the original line-up featuring more versions of 21st Century Schizoid Man than you could ever need.  Also features some songs that would eventually be reworked on to In The Wake of Poseidon and ones that simply faded away.

Round 1 nears the end: Beat vs Starless and Bible Black

Robert Fripp once said that King Crimson was a live band first and a studio band second.  Considering the recent activities of the band it comes to no surprise.  Crimson's live presence is monstrous, filled with improvisation and creative redesigning of previous genius.  How would you translate 21st Century Schizoid Man into a lineup with twice as many drummers, bassists, and guitarists, and no horns?  Somehow he figured it out.  It is something I love about Crimson, its intent on reinventing itself with new songs, while also approaching old material with a new perspective.


Thursday, October 24, 2013

Ryan Reviews Justin Timberlake’s 20/20 Experience Part 2

By: Ryan Burns
No use hiding JT, we can all see you.
                Just when I thought Justin had made a pretty enjoyable album for 2013 he turns right around and releases a second part that no one knew about. Rumor has it he had a boxing vocabulary-littered album slated to be released before 20/20pt.2, but he lost the flash drive with the only copy of the album on the way to the manufacturer. In the stead of that tragedy, we have been treated to the less impressive second installation of 20/20.
Exactly forty-eight hours after “Suit and Tie” had faded from the airwaves and the catchy melody of “Mirrors” had solidified in our ear canals, the narcotic-infused hit “Take Back the Night”…hit. It reminds me of Robin Thicke’s numerous efforts of building on the catchy themes of 1970’s R&B and Disco songs, only better. “Take Back” is 100% a party song, complete with numerous background voices akin to certain Marvin Gaye songs. The various people singing along carry on the melody at the end of the song as if the recording studio had a hootenanny going on during the sessions. It truly is a delight. Due to its freshness, it isn’t as annoying as “Suit & Tie”, but I feel that soon may change, like every single top 40 hits since 1992.
                Jay-Z makes a delightfully hilarious appearance on the song “Murder” saying crazy shit like “She got that Yoko Ono. You know that shit that made John Lennon go solo. Know that shit gotta be lethal, if that pussy broke up the Beatles.” The song is otherwise set up to be a club hit. Throbbing bass and horns set the scene for JT to play around in. It’s a pretty good song, but has the potential to be quite annoying if overplayed.
                Much to my surprise, the song “TKO” caught me off guard. This gem is filled with boxing terms! I can only imagine that it is a callback to the lost fisticuff concept album JT was planning to release this year as well. A sort of memorial for what could have been. This song graces us with such wonderful lines as, “Tried to go below the belt, through my chest, perfect hit to the dome“. Further into the song, Timbaland lent his voice, discussing getting his ass kicked by a vagina or something. I wept with joy during this song.
                The effect heavy “Only When I Walk Away” was a very unsatisfying song. It seemed too long and there was nothing particularly interesting about it, UNTIL the last minute. I don’t know what the producers were thinking. Out of nowhere this fucking song turned into a bad throwback to 1970’s dub music, complete with awful reggae horns that so many contemporary University town DJs love to use. It seemed that the producers aim was to be ironic and nostalgic. All it made me think about was other, better music I could have been listening to. Fortunately, the song ended and the rest of the album was quite enjoyable.
                Overall, the album is kind of impressive. JT clearly had numerous songs built up from the 20/20 sessions. I’m not sure if this was intended to be a follow-up album or B-sides. A lot of songs are pretty good and catchy, but they certainly don’t stand up against the monster album Future Sex/Love Sounds or even 20/20pt.1. I can only hopelessly wonder what could have been if only JT had been a little more careful with the master recordings for Welter Weight, the boxing album that should have been…

Final Say: Buy the Complete Experience. It’s worth it as a whole.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Round 1 progresses The Power to Believe vs Discipline

Pity is a strange thing.  I rarely feel pity in a serious situation.  In those times my sense of empathy is surely at full throttle, but never pity.  Pity is reserved for moments that are near silly or ridiculous.  I pitied John McCain as he performed his march of death into the 2008 election.  I pitied Indiana University in 2011 as they were seemingly mauled to death in a 80-7 loss over the University of Wisconsin.  Pity is reserved for situations where they should have known better, but still paraded into the lion's den for one reason or another.

So in the same way I feel pity for this next review since it really is not fair.  There are a few first round pairings that even now I am not sure how they will end and some that were painful to write because of how one-sided the pairing was.  Red v THRaKKaTaK is a choice example of a match-up that never had a chance of being remotely fair and here we go again with another one of them


Thursday, October 10, 2013

Round 1 Cont. Lark's Tongue in Aspic v Islands

As we continue on our tournament I look at the pairings and realize how this all could have played out different depending on how things were set up.  There are always losers in a tournament.  Everyone but the winner is a loser in reality. There are great albums that will fall in the first round for no other reason than it was paired against a much stronger entry.

In our next match-up we have a pretty interesting situation.  We have the death of one line-up going against the birth of the next.  Fripp dismantled King Crimson after the supporting tour for Islands.  He would then go on to form the line-up that would create the album Lark's Tongue in Aspic.  How do these line-ups fair against each other?  Did Robert make a mistake one way or the other?  Let us find out.


Saturday, October 5, 2013

Round 1 Continued Red v THRaKaTTaK

When the pairings were made initially Red automatically was going into the second round based on its high ranking.  As I scoured through Crimson's back catalog I realized that there was indeed an album it could go against.  No, it was not a long lost LP, or even an EP for that matter.  Rather it is a compilation of live improvisations from the Thrak era called THRaKaTTaK.  I shrugged and threw it into the mix, not totally aware of what would happen next.


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Five Musicians You Never Knew Wrote Books

Recently I took a look at some of the finest writers in rock. Artists like Leonard Cohen, Lee Ranaldo, and Nick Cave have been producing quality fiction and poetry for years and could almost be as well known for that side-career as their amazing musical output. But in researching those musician-authors, a lot of other names came to mind who maybe aren't such prolific, famous, or even, well, good writers.

Oh, I'm not saying all these are bad. But there's a reason they didn't quit their day job and there's a reason you probably haven't heard about their forays into the written word before. That being said, there's a good chance some of you out there might be interested in checking these out regardless of their quality. If you're anything like me, the very fact that these books are obscure and of possibly poor quality will make you want to hunt them down. So let's take a look, shall we?