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Salvaged from an old blog April 1, 2009

Posted by sjroby in Canadian content, Music.
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Bill Nelson's Red Noise: Sound on Sound

Bill Nelson’s Red Noise: Sound on Sound

Here’s a blog post from 2005, from my old, now deleted general blog, discussing Verve Remixed, Carolyn Mark, New Order, Webb Pierce, Paul Anka, Robin Guthrie and Harold Budd, New Musik, and Bill Nelson’s Red Noise. And why not.

I love buying CDs. Yeah, I still download stuff, from eMusic (legal! cheap!) and from certain musicians’ web businesses (like His Name Is Alive and Brian Eno) and it can be nice to have that immediate gratification. But it doesn’t feel as real as a CD. Pretty similar to my feelings about ebooks, except that it’s a lot easier to turn your mp3s into physical artifacts by burning them onto CDs.

So, although in the last couple of weeks or so I’ve legally downloaded albums by Matthew Shipp, William Parker, Craig Taborn, and Cuong Vu, in an eMusic-enabled new jazz frenzy, and a couple of African albums (inspired by reading Coyote Kings of the Space Age Bachelor Pad), it’s the CDs I get more excited about, because I made the effort to buy them properly.

And here’s what I’ve bought.

Various artists: Verve Remixed 3/Verve Unmixed 3. The latest in the series of jazz classics reworked and remixed by electronic/dance/whatever producers and musicians. Nina Simone remixed by the Postal Service, Billie Holiday remixed by the Junior Boys, and so on. Good source material, closer to the first volume in the series, but the remixes… jazz may work with drum & bass and triphop, but I’m not so sure about jazz and electroclash, which is what at least a couple tracks sound like.

Carolyn Mark and the New Best Friends: The Pros and Cons of Collaboration, the latest lighthearted alt.country album from Neko Case’s partner in the Corn Sisters. She still hasn’t made the killer knockout album I think she’s capable of, but she’s always fun.

New Order: Waiting for the Siren’s Call. Sounds a bit more like Electronic, Bernie’s old side project, rather than the band that arose from the ashes of Joy Division 25 years ago… but energetic, catchy, and not an embarrassment, which is something to be thankful for.

Webb Pierce: Groovie Boogie Woogie Boy: A Proper Introduction to Webb Pierce, from Proper, which looks like one of those labels that specialize in stuff that’s fallen into public domain. 28 of Pierce’s earliest recordings, from around 1948-1952, and ending with some of Pierce’s biggest hits like “In the Jailhouse Now” and “There Stands the Glass.” Classic hard-twangin’ honky tonk country music.

Paul Anka: Rock Swings. Laura’s pick. Great band and sound, nice big swing sound (more Vegas than Basie or Goodman, unsurprisingly), but a really weird mix of material. Bon Jovi and Pet Shop Boys. Nirvana and Eric Clapton. Soundgarden and Lionel Richie. All covered on one CD. The upside is, the arrangements are so different from the originals that I don’t mind the presence of songs I hate (“Eye of the Tiger,” “Tears in Heaven”) or the songs I like.

Robin Guthrie and Harold Budd: Music From the Film Mysterious Skin. Guthrie was the guitarist for ethereal ’80s alt band the Cocteau Twins; Budd is a pianist and ambient music composer who’s worked with Brian Eno. The two collaborated on an album twenty years ago with the other members of the Cocteau Twins, but it didn’t quite gel. Half of it sounded pretty much like the Cocteau Twins without Budd and the other half sounded pretty much like Budd without the Twins. This album is different. Guthrie’s guitar and Budd’s piano, sometimes together, sometimes separately, make a quiet, subtly beautiful set of ambient instrumentals.

New Musik: From A to B. I bought a couple of their singles as imports when I was in high school (early 1980) and picked up their second album, Anywhere, a couple years later. A friend taped her LP of From A to B for me a few years ago. It’s sort of pop with occasional weirdness, with synths and acoustic guitars setting the tone. I prefer Anywhere but this has its moments and it was cheap, so why not?

Bill Nelson’s Red Noise: Sound – on – Sound. Every so often I buy one of my old faves on CD even though I already have it on LP. I bought this one in the summer of 1981 or ’82 for about $1.69 because I’d read a review of it and I’d liked a song from this album’s more-or-less predecessor, Bebop Deluxe’s Drastic Plastic. Nelson was a rock guitar genius in the 1970s whose earlier music could be considered progressive rock or classic rock, but Nelson was not that easy to pigeonhole. In retrospect, he seems to belong to the artsy rock contingent along with Roxy Music, Brian Eno, and David Bowie. This album, however, is a darn near perfect new wave album, mixing bits of everyone from Gary Numan to Devo to Wire to XTC in a blender and making it work.

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