One week’s hoard
I came back from a break of a couple of weeks and turned on the Internet taps to be hit by a deluge. New music and news about music just gushed out like a dam had broken and, what’s more, much of it was great stuff. Most of it was by contemporary musicians but there was also some from older musicians as well. Like the news about the recently launched first volume of a box set that digs deep into Neil Young’s archives.
Actually it’s some sort of a record by Young. His Archives Vol.1 1963-72 comes in different forms, including one that has a price tag of $350 and has 10 Blu-Ray DVDs. It also comes in a cheaper box of nine CDs.
If this is just Young’s first volume from his archives, you can imagine how many CDs he’ll be offering by the time he reaches the 2000s.
Young has been talking about the archives project—which comprises all his unreleased material—since the late 1980s but it is only now that the first volume has hit the market.
I can’t imagine how much material is lying in the musician’s archives, considering that he has been active since the 1960s.
His released material itself, covering everything—from the Buffalo Springfield years, the Crosby, Stills Nash and Young period, the Stills – Young Band and his rich solo years — must run into at least 50 albums.
I got a sneak preview of just one track from the box set—a previously unreleased version of Down By the River by Neil Young and Crazy Horse from a show at the Fillmore in 1970. Was it nice? Well, I’ll just say that I’ve decided to buy the entire box set!
For those of us who grew up listening to The Band, drummer and vocalist Levon Helm’s name will always stir up memories. I, for instance, am always reminded of Up on Cripple Creek whenever I think of Helm. Last week, via a podcast, I heard a track from a new solo album from Helm.
The album is called the Electric Dirt. Many rock music critics consider Helm to be an American treasure, particularly so because after he was diagnosed with throat cancer in the 1990s, most thought he would never sing again.
But Helm bounced back miraculously two years back with an album, Dirt Farmer, a precursor to this year’s Electric Dirt. His voice is craggier than before but as arresting as it ever was as the 69-year-old cranks out eleven very bluesy tracks, including songs by Muddy Waters, Garcia-Hunter and Randy Newman. Well worth a check.
I have a bit of a predilection for bands that indulge in long jams and, thus, keep an eye (and ear) out for what happens at Bonnaroo every year in June. Bonnaroo is an annual festival (held in Tennessee) that began as a jam band fest but has now broadened to embrace almost every genre of contemporary music.
So when, courtesy a blog called Bands That Jam, I came across a four-plus download of sets by moe. at last month’s festival, I quickly downloaded it. Like most jam bands, moe. are best heard live and I have a hoard of their live shows. But I wasn’t prepared for this show.
After their first set, as they got into the second, one by one members of moe. left the stage and was replaced each time by a member from another band, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals. I’d heard a bit of the latter band’s work and knew that Potter, a 26-year-old singer, led it and that their newest album This Is Somewhere has been acclaimed by critics. But the merging of the two band’s sounds was unique.
What is more, after Potter and her band replaced moe. and played four songs, the reverse happened—one by one the moe. guys came back replacing the second band’s members, till they were all gone.
Last week when I read in NME that the Pixies were going to tour in England after all these years I mentioned it to a colleague who’s a particularly fanatic devotee of the band. He yelped with joy and has, I suspect, been listening to all his Pixies albums ever since.
The Pixies have been one of rock’s most influential acts and are, at least for me, among the very few bands that stood out during the 1980s. Many think that if it weren’t for them, grunge rock or Brit-pop wouldn’t have been the way it has been. At the core of Pixies were Frank Black (vocals and guitar) and Joey Santiago (lead guitar).
Rarely did Pixies songs exceed the three-minute limit but for the muscular edge of their guitar-led sound, that posed hardly a problem. I liked their album Surfer Rosa (1988) best although some of my friends rate Doolittle, a later album, higher.
The Pixies were around for a short while, six or seven years, before the two key members split. Their reunion and the tour, which begins in October, is something I’m sure Pixie-heads will look forward to.
Listen to some ‘virtual’ music: