Sunday, 23 September 2012

Neil Young - Time Fades Away


[I'm in Vietnam at the moment (which is why posts have been infrequent) so I'm trying to use blogspot in Vietnamese, so any weirdness in this post is probably due to that]

This is very hard to find Neil Young record from 1973. Usually 'hard to find' is synonymous with 'not very good', but that isn't the case here.  While this record isn't for those who are only fans of Harvest, that can be said for most of the rest of Young's career. Instead, this album is very much in the vein of Tonight's the Night. In fact, this is musically and chronologically the missing link between those two albums.

To provide some background: after the massive success of Harvest Young embarked on a huge tour to support the album. Like many artists before and after this lead to a fair amount of disillusionment, as well as some exhaustion and vocal problems. As well as material he had released to that point, Young played a number of new songs on the tour, and these are what feature on this album. So, while it's a live album, it's not one in the traditional form.

Until around 10 years ago this album was one of the Neil Young's 'missing' albums, that had never been released on CD. However, about 10 years ago all of those missing albums were finally remastered and rereleased; except for Time Fades Away (check out On the Beach if you want to hear an album that is arguably his best ever, but not well known, at least in part because of the delayed release on CD). I don't understand enough to explain the details, but apparently the master tapes for Time Fades Away were recorded in a manner that was seen as cutting edge, but is now very hard to work with. So for those worrying about the fact that this is an official release, it is one that is only available on vintage vinyl, at very high prices, and even then only after significant searching. So for those who can't be bothered with that, here it is for download.

Time Fades Away
Journey Through the Past
Yonder Stands the Sinner
Love in Mind
Don't Be Denied
The Bridge
Last Dance

Friday, 7 September 2012

Don McGlashan - 29 July 2012

First things first; through his various bands (Blam, Blam, Blam; The Front Lawn; the Muttonbirds; and solo) Don McGlashan is a great singer-songwriter. From an Australian perspective he can be probably be seen as New Zealand's answer to Paul Kelly, in that both are extraordinarily talented, both write songs that tell stories intimately related to their respective homelands, and both have probably had less successive (perhaps in part because of the last point) than they deserve. The point being, for those unfamiliar with Don McGlashan he is well worth checking out (my suggestion would be to start with the Muttonbirds excellent self-titled debut).

For some reason the Toff in Town is one of the few Melbourne venues that doesn't advertise set times. This annoys me since I'm not much of a fan of hanging round idly waiting for a show to start. This show was on a Sunday so I figured the set might start relatively early. Unfortunatly it kicked off even earlier than I'd imagined and I ended up missing the first three songs of the set. Even worse, he kicked off with three really great tunes, before playing a couple of rarer tunes. So this recording starts off a bit slow. But as soon as the beautiful Girl Make Your Own Mind Up kicks off things sparkle. McGlashan put on an amazingly warm show, happy to take virtually any request (when competing requests were made for A Thing Well Made and Miracle Sun he asked which the crowd wanted, a budding setlist writer suggested playing both with White Valiant wedged in between, which Don proceeded to do). Judicious use of loops and some sampled beats allowed him to  make use of his beautiful harmony singing as well as the euphonium that plays some of the key melodies on his trademark tunes. These were mainly used for subtle additons, but the two tracks where they featured heavily (Passenger 26 and Queen's English) were both greatly enhanced by it. Finally, it's impossible to pass over the beautiful solo version of Sean Donnelly's I Will Not Let You Down that closed the show. While the album version is wonderful, this was transcendent.

And for those who already know Don McGlashan's work and are waiting for a Muttonbirds tour - he says all it will take is for someone with a venue to fly them over (after the show he also mentioned that the Front Lawn will be playing two shows towards the end of the year, presumably both in New Zealand).

This is London (not recorded)
Ngaire (not recorded)
Don't Fight it Marsha, It's Bigger Than Both of Us (not recorded)
Bad Blood
Claude Rains
Girl Make Your Own Mind Up
Passenger 26
A Man and a Woman
The Wrong Thing
Toy Factory Fire
Radio Programmer
A Thing Well Made
White Valiant
Miracle Sun
Like this Train
The Queen's English
Dominion Rd

I Will Not Let You Down

Monday, 3 September 2012

Lanie Lane - 25 July 2012

The Jack White show has been up for a while, but as well as recording that
show I caught the opening act - Lanie Lane. She was presumably selected to open
because she's signed to White's label and has had him produce a couple of tracks.
That's worth noting because although there has been a pretty consistent country
thread running through White's music, it isn't one that most of his fans (particularly
the more casual ones, would have focused on). That meant that Lanie Lane's set really
failed to capture the interest of most of those who were there. It didn't really help
that here attempts at banter were (possibly consciously) a bit embarrassing.
Nonetheless, there were a few good songs in the set including No Sound,and a cover of
the Black Keys' Gold on the Ceiling. However, the rest of the set was mediocre. She clearly
has a gimmick that she thinks either believes in or thinks she can build a club-show career
on, but it doesn't really do much for me.

Jungle Man
Like Me Meaner
Betty Baby
Gold on the Ceiling
My Man
No Sound
What Do I Do?
Don't Cry
Oh Well, That's What You Get for Falling in Love with a Cowboy
Bang Bang
Ain't Hungry