Tuesday, May 8, 2018

The Long Haul

Whew! Just snapped this photo at the end of side one........man it had been awhile since I'd spun this Dylan record. Infidels was released in 1983 - that's 35 years ago! Longer between then and now compared to when Dylan's first LP came out (1962) and the above LP (21 years). Bob Dylan was younger in 1983 than I am now. Ain't time a beeeach? Yet, there is stuff on this album that sounds eerily current, at least topic-wise. One of the least-loved songs on Infidels is the track "Union Sundown" - essentially lamenting in 1983 that nothing is made in the USA anymore. If the effects of globalization were just emerging in 1983 when Dylan wrote the song, those effects are still reverberating down to our present times in ways all too obvious. Even on a personal level it is astounding to hear this song all these years later having lived through the fallout and watched its consequences on my family. It certainly provides a sobering sense of context - what is evident in the current climate has been a LONG time in the works.

Funny enough - I have some nice memories connected to this Dylan record, as cynical and bitter as most of the songs may be. I played a cassette tape of the album in the family car around the time I learned to drive - especially the summer of my graduation from high school. Driving gave me a new sense of freedom - a hope for the future I hadn't felt before. And Infidels provided some of the soundtrack to that time in my life. And, on an objective note, this Dylan record was one of the best of that era for him. Probably the best Dylan record before his 1997 comeback with Time Out Of Mind (though I think his upswing started with the first Traveling Wilburys album and the 1989 release Oh Mercy!). Infidels is a strong release with memorable material. I don't know how often it comes up among the Bob experts, but I dig it. But it sure is a long time away from 1983 to now.............

Time. It has also been awhile now since I started this blog. Back in 2011 the vinyl LP revival had not yet hit its stride - now the whole Record Store Day event happens twice a year. There are more local record stores thriving in the last few years - certainly more than there were in 2011. There is plenty of great new music and old music coming out on vinyl - no shortage of great discoveries to plunder for years and years to come. And the new product isn't letting up. I am confident my thirst for new sounds will continue to be satiated for, well, the rest of my natural life - with any luck a good long while down the road!

Speaking of Record Store Day 2018, I didn't realize a release of particular interest was seeing the light of day - a nice LP collection of Beverley Martyn's early singles pressed on cloudy-clear vinyl!
Luckily, my local RSD connection had what was most likely the ONLY copy available and I bagged it. Between listening to this excellent collection and the first of the two John and Beverley Martyn records released on Warner Brothers in 1970 (Stormbringer!) I gained a renewed appreciation for Beverley's wonderful voice.
She really had something special going on - not just a lovely sound, but a particular edge to her delivery that sets her apart from the other great English girl singers of the era (Sandy Denny and Linda Thompson and Jacqui McShee being the others). I really can't get enough of what happened when Beverley stepped up to that microphone - totally unique and brilliant. So glad I scooped up that Record Store Day release! And just as a reminder, Beverley put out a nice LP of new material a few years ago titled The Phoenix and the Turtle. Any new music from this special lady is a cause for celebration. If you haven't heard it - check it out!
Now, just to illustrate I haven't given up on new music quite yet, I decided to take the plunge on a few new LPs from King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard. This new band from Australia is pushing the boundaries of music and how it is consumed in some surprising ways. I hadn't quite realized the band made a decision to release FIVE new albums during the course of last year (2017). I bought two of these and am close to snagging the other three and ANY OTHER albums they have out because:
A. The music is awesome    and.......
B.  The records look fantastic!!! See here:

The LP directly above - Gumboot Soup - is the latest release. Excellent progressive neo-psychedelic jazz-rock is the best description I can come up with. The LP above that, titled Polygondwanaland is a totally unique situation. Follow the link to get the whole story, but suffice to say it was released as a totally Public Domain item to encourage anyone who wanted to press their own copies on vinyl. The version I bought was merely one of what some estimates suggest are up to 169 different variations on this record. And, oddly enough, the music is WONDERFUL. This is a totally unique approach. I certainly never heard of such a thing. Yet, I get it. Good on these guys. Where does it all lead? Only time will tell. I actually saw a clip of the group performing on a late-nite TV show (can't remember which) and was fairly baffled. With two drummers and lots else going on from a pretty large ensemble, it really seemed like cacophonous racket. Which is all well and good, but I figured (accurately) perhaps not all these folks had to offer. What will future people make of all this? Well, I just hope there's a future available for inconsequential concerns like that to exist in. Remaining hopeful in that regard...................

A few weeks ago I took an opportunity to try something different. I snagged a ticket to see Steven Wilson live! It was the first show in the US for his "To The Bone" tour. The venue was one I'd known of forever but had never been to - The Egg in Albany, NY. There were some tickets available for a reasonable price so I took the plunge. Now, the only Wilson album I have heard to date is the one pictured above - The Raven That Refused To Sing and other stories. As much as I enjoy vintage prog I hadn't really been exposed to much modern prog. The Raven release was very much influenced by classic prog and I'm sure did a lot to bring new fans to Steven Wilson's music. In the meantime I also got a copy of The Raven on blu-ray disc (for the 5.1 mix) and I got the next album Hand.Cannot.Erase on blu-ray as well. Trouble is - life changes and responsibilities have left me with not a whole lot of time to listen to the many surround sound titles I have including these. I haven't even played the regular stereo version of the Hand album - in fact still haven't heard the thing AT ALL. Under those conditions I haven't even made the move to get the new To The Bone album, right? So he's playing a show nearby.....what do I do? I decided I would just go see the concert without bothering to get familiar with any of the new music. I like doing that sometimes - then when I finally hear the record proper I have the memories of hearing the music live first. It's kinda cool to do that every so often. What I didn't expect was what the venue was like.............
 Now, the path from the highway to the parking area of The Egg couldn't have been easier or more enjoyable. Total breeze to get there! And a very pleasant, modern-styled venue to see a show at. Trouble for me was - my seat was kicked just a bit too much to stage right and my view kinda sucked! I couldn't see the drummer at all, nor any of the screens behind the stage where films were projected to go along with the songs. A bit disappointing, but live and learn I suppose. Musically the concert was good, however. And I was won over by the music enough to look forward to hearing the new album soon. I didn't manage to stay for the whole performance, but I'd like to check Steven Wilson out again. Just have to make sure I can see the WHOLE stage to get the full visual effect. And I'd like to see more shows at The Egg too. Just have to make sure to get one of the "good" seats in the future!!

More recent vinyl adventures have included some great jazz music scores like these:

Some of these artists I'd enjoyed for many years - Miles and Mingus, though I didn't have these LPs until recently. The rest I'd heard OF, yet never had any of their recordings (at least as leaders) like John Handy, Hubert Laws, Sonny Criss, Sonny Stitt and Chico Hamilton. Oh, man that Chico Hamilton album really got under my skin - in a good way! Now I want to hear everything he ever did and he made a LOT of records! That's the danger in a sense - just what I need......more records! Well, I will give the big thumbs up on just about any jazz - these albums especially did the trick for me. Just get some jazz in your life - that's the best I can tell you. If you don't dig it - you might eventually. Don't give up on a great art form.

Well, there's a fair more to tell eventually - more great stuff to put the word out for. I'm kinda tired out for now though. No worries......I'll be back. I'm in it for the long haul. Catch you next time.......