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October 10, 2006

David Crosby - If I Could Only Remember My Name


Classic Records 200 Gram reissue of Atlantic SD-7203

For my first review I offer the Classic Records 200 Gram pressing of David Crosby’s "If I Could Only Remember My Name". I purchased the original Atlantic LP in 1971 when it was first released as Crosby, Stills and Nash were my favorite group. I fell in love with in instantly and purchased the Guitar Tablature book of the album. For non guitar players Tablature is an alternative way of writing for the guitar with a staff consisting of six lines instead of the traditional five, each line representing a string on the guitar: EADGBE and instead of the note each line will have the fret number to hold down. Also this whole album was written in alternate tunings. For example for "Music Is Love" the guitar is tuned DADDAD. So before and after playing a David Crosby song you have to retune your guitar.

Now on to the music the first song "Music Is Love" begins with just David and his guitar recorded in a dry studio with NO added echo. Within two minutes when the percussion comes in echo is added and the sound is very warm and alive. It stays this way though the whole LP. That transition when the sounds opens up it really exciting, so if you are thinking this LP doesn’t sound so hot wait a couple of minutes and you will know why it has such a huge following.

Songs include Music is Love (with Graham Nash & Neil Young), Cowboy Movie, Tamalpais High, Laughing, What are Their Names? (with Neil Young, Jerry Garcia, Phil Lesh & Michael Shrieve) Traction In The Rain, Song with No Words (Tree with No Leaves), Orleans, I’d Swear There Was Somebody Here.

The music is beautiful and extremely well played and I have loved this recording for 35 years. The Classic Records 200 Gram pressing is the best sound I have ever heard from it making this a must have LP.


September 5, 2006

The Woods

Well, I'm now almost one week into owning 'The Woods', Sleater-Kinney's latest album on the Sub-Pop label, and all I can say is "Wow." This is, if not a 180-degree turn from their last several albums, at least somewhere between 90 and 120-degrees. Gone are the four-minute long songs and atonal guitars of 'Call the Doctor', 'Dig Me Out' and 'The Hot Rock'. Also absent are the post-punk meets pop sounds of 'All Hands on the Bad One' and 'One Beat.' Instead, we get Carrie, Corin and Janet channeling the spirit of Led Zeppelin, T.Rex, The MC5, and a little bit of the Clash and turning it into something old yet something new (but not borrowed or blue).

First of all, we have guitar solos. Yep, you heard me. Not just a few bars of Carrie improvising, but a full-out feedback-drenched sludge fest that sounds as if Jimmy Page fell into a rendering plant in the midst of 'Dazed and Confused.' Trust me, it works. Second, we have Janet (probably the best currently-performing rock drummer out there) branching out from her Stuart Copeland cum Keith Moon cum John Bonham technique to play *harmonica* on 'Modern Girl', backing Carrie's wistful reflection on life in the aughts.

Third, it just plain-out rawks. They mixed this sucker past 11 to the point that it sounds as if the very air is distorting. In some ways this is frustrating (this will *never* make it onto the Stereophile Records To Die For list with the nature of the sonics), but the high distortion of the album plugs directly into the monkey-bone of musical pleasure (which is connected to the head-bang bone or the butt-rock bone...I was never good at anatomy).

If you've been scared of S-K before because of their so-called Riot Grrrl classification, please do yourself a favor and buy (or at the very least listen to) The Woods. This is very different from what has come before and in some ways may be more accessible than prior albums (although I'm sure some die-hard fans who loathe change are going to rend their clothes and wail 'WHY!' when they hear the album). There's even a streaming version you can sample on S-K's web site if you want to listen first.

The vinyl version of this album is quite impressive. It is a three-side album, similar to Joe Jackson's Big World live album. The vinyl is leaf-green on sides one and two and tree-bark brown (or a reasonable fascimile thereof) for side three. Side four has a pattern on it that looks like a cross-section of a Douglas fir. Background-noise-wise, it is a bit noisy (I've found that colored vinyl is almost always noisier than standard black vinyl - not sure why), but the overall sound pounds the shit out of the CD version. The treble is more open, the bass seems to be mixed a bit tighter and the midrange is more lush. All-in-all, there is just more 'there' there.

This means that for home listening purposes, the CD has been banished from the realm. On the other hand, it can and has applied for refugee status in the car and at my office.

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