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February 12, 2021

Happy Birthday to my Delightful Daughter, Nathalie. Will Love U Forever…..And Ever….!!© Mick…

via The Real Mick Rock https://ift.tt/3qnavyA

Henry Bruce-Jones Mr. Mitch pens a melancholy love letter to the club with ‘Did We Say Goodbye’

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Rob Mitchum Zappa

There aren’t many musicians harder to squeeze into documentary film format than Frank Zappa. With 62 albums released during his lifetime, plus dozens more after his 1993 death, and a musical style that combines compositional complexity with sophomoric humour, Zappa’s career is impervious to today’s playlist and streaming doc synopses.

In his film, director Alex Winter represents this impossible task by returning again and again to the Zappa archives, shelves stacked floor to ceiling with audio and video tape in the basement of his former home. But the 129-minute film largely punts on trying to wrap its arms around the voluminous output of Zappa’s short life, creating instead a character study of the singular, irascible and obsessively creative musician.

The musician who is driven to work at all personal costs is a hoary rock-pic cliché, but if anyone earned it, it’s Zappa. A majority of the archival footage finds the lanky Rasputin figure rehearsing his band, hunched over notation paper, or conducting live concerts – often with his middle finger. The film is cut like you’re inside his restless imagination, with brief flashes of monster movies, gas masks from his youth growing up next to an Army chemical plant and graphic claymation.

The movie also lets Zappa himself – never shy in interviews – do most of the talking; it’s 20 minutes before you hear from anyone else. There’s good reason for that, as Zappa kept nearly everyone at arm’s length throughout his career. A lengthy roster of band members is introduced in concert footage, most with a very short timeline of collaboration noted beneath their name. Guitarist Steve Vai says Zappa saw his fellow musicians as “a tool for the composer”, while Zappa himself admits in one interview that he has no friends, only a family that he rarely sees between tours.

In the context of rock history, Zappa is also portrayed as a man apart. While The Mothers Of Invention had all the trappings of late-’60s hippiedom, their thorny music is laughably incongruous with the writhing dancers at the Whisky A Go Go. Zappa famously didn’t do drugs, carried a very severe political and artistic ethos at odds with the loosey-goosey vibes of the time and was more concerned with intricately scripted music and theatrical hijinks than jamming out.

The film honors this preferred identity, that of a 20th-century composer inspired by Varese and Stravinsky, who largely used the musical tools at hand to realise his vision: the electric guitar and whatever genre was currently popular, be it psych-rock, jazz fusion, prog, or new wave. One of the longest live clips included doesn’t feature Zappa at all, but the Kronos Quartet, performing a Zappa piece and comparing him to Ives, Partch and Sun Ra. At one point he flat out hires the London Symphony Orchestra to record some of his symphonic work, then throws shade on them to David Letterman.

That no-bullshit prickliness served Zappa well in his eternal battles with the record industry and his unlikely late-life roles as free-speech spokesman and musical ambassador to Czechoslovakia after the Velvet Revolution. All these chapters are given considerable screen time – they’re easier to explain than the plot of 200 Motels or Joe’s Garage – and his media and Congressional hearing campaign against the pearl-clutching censors of the Parents Music Resource Center remains heroic even if you don’t care for his music.

And if you don’t, Zappa doesn’t make a very strong case for giving it another chance. Documentaries shouldn’t necessarily be commercials for their subjects, but the film never really sells why anyone unfamiliar with his heady concepts and absurd lyrics should reconsider; his songs are even more disorienting and impenetrable when cut up and combined with the rapid-fire visual editing. Apart from the unlikely novelty hits of “Dancin’ Fool” and “Valley Girl” – both of which Zappa dismisses, natch – there’s little to suggest why he earned progressively larger crowds and a devoted following.

But even at that remove, the film hits its emotional climax with Zappa’s final concert, conducting the Ensemble Modern in Germany. In the rehearsals leading up to the event and the performance itself, Zappa, fighting the prostate cancer that would kill him at only 52, finally appears satisfied (mostly) with the quality of the musicians reproducing the music in his head. Then he walks backstage and sits alone, while the crowd cheers on. It’s an oddly moving Mr Holland’s Opus ending for a subject even a sympathetic filmmaker has depicted as relentlessly cold and unsentimental.

“You must have been thrilled?” an interviewer asks about the 20-minute ovation at the final show.

“I was happier that they did that rather than throw things at the stage,” Zappa replies.

The post Zappa appeared first on UNCUT.

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Stream an excerpt from Black Top Presents Some Good News

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Richard Williams The Weather Station – Ignorance

The first thought: wow, this is different. Through her first four albums as The Weather Station, the songs of Tamara Lindeman seemed like private musings, the sort of words we might find ourselves saying out loud to an absent friend, sibling, lover. The most intimate and honest thoughts, sometimes only half-formed and tentatively presented, finding a vehicle in songs that employed the conventional folk-based singer-songwriter mode as a flexible and unobstructive armature, edging into the realm of grunge-lite on her last studio recording, three years ago. She was moving through the music like a traveller through slowly changing landscapes.

Ignorance offers another kind of scenery. In collaboration with Marcus Paquin, a Montreal-based engineer and producer who worked on Arcade Fire’s The Suburbs and The National’s Trouble Will Find Me, she turns her attention to a sound more clearly defined by beats. Explaining the new direction, she offers conflicting quotes: “I realised how profound and emotional straight time could be, those eternal dance rhythms, how they affect you on a physical level,” and, “I saw how the less emotion there was in the rhythm, the more room there was for emotion in the rest of the music, the more freedom I had vocally.” As Walt Whitman said, do I contradict myself? Very well, I contradict myself.

All these songs were written, for the first time, at the piano. Their basic contours seem plainer, sturdier. Along with the last echoes of finger-picked acoustic guitars will vanish, one hopes, the final comparisons to Joni Mitchell, Lindeman’s fellow Canadian. Now her cool singing takes its energy from layered keyboards, subtle electronic shadings, the occasional clarinet or saxophone, and her own arrangements for a string quartet. Richer textures, but no luxury-studio sheen or indulgence: the expanded resources are deployed with the care and rigour that characterised her previous use of humbler tools.

Her voice is so distinctive and her writing so personal that a strutting backbeat and a flying hi-hat don’t affect the essential character of the music. When she talks about vocal freedom, she may mean the confidence to push her voice further towards the front of the mix: the confidences, these fragments of second thoughts, are no longer half-buried. Her background as an actor comes through even more clearly in the nuances of phrasing and timbre – never theatrical, always conversational.

Maybe there’s an even bigger difference. Whereas the songs on the earlier albums seemed person-to-person, the new ones use the same tone to address wider concerns. The “you” in these songs might be an individual, or might even be the singer herself, but there is a sense of a more general address. The sense of disquiet is no longer exclusively private.

“Robber”, the starter, obliquely addresses the forces taking control in the name of populism: “You never believed in the robber/You thought, a robber must hate you to want to take from you/The robber don’t hate you/He had permission, permission by words, permission of thanks, permission of laws, permission of banks/White tablecloth dinners, convention centres/It was all done real carefully.” Her delivery is as cool as ever, but the robber turns out to be wielding a knife.

The song’s instrumental interludes, featuring her distorted guitar and Brodie West’s insinuating tenor saxophone over a crescendo of strings and rhythm, are typical of the understated drama she and Paquin create. Elsewhere, flickering funky guitar figures provide impetus and commentary, playing off the tense beats as she sings of blood-red sunsets and soft grass, mismatched feelings and unmade calls.

In this album, too, Lindeman spends a lot of time watching the birds as they wheel above the fields and the water, meditating on where we’re heading, doubting it all. In “Parking Lot” – a song in which she attempts to soften the edges of disco, and succeeds – she stands outside a club, obscurely disabled by the flight and song of a small bird: “Is it all right that I don’t wanna sing tonight?” There are songs of ambivalence, disaffection, of turning away, of leaving, with titles like “Loss” and “Separated”.

Emotions are never straightforward, often shrouded in a mist, or on pause in the unheard half of a dialogue, waiting to emerge. But there is still joy to be found in the sound of these songs. “Tried To Tell You” has a proud lilt as seductively lovely as anything she has written, but it’s a song with a goodbye look: “You know, you break what you treasure/And no, it cannot be measured/Would it kill you to believe in your pleasure?” The harmonies behind the chorus of “Loss” are like a hand on a cheek. With “Heart” she creates emotional intensity by unspooling the repeated fragment of melody. The album ends with the sound of a foot releasing the piano’s sustain pedal. Perfect.

The post The Weather Station – Ignorance appeared first on UNCUT.

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Sam Richards Neil Young unveils 1971 live album and concert film, Young Shakespeare

To mark its 50th anniversary, Neil Young has announced that the live album and concert film of his 1971 solo show at The Shakespeare Theater, Stratford, Connecticut will be released via Reprise on March 26.

Young Shakespeare was recorded for presentation on German TV but was not publicly available until now. Filmed four months after the release of After The Gold Rush, it contains the earliest known live performance footage of solo Neil Young known to exist.

According to Young himself, Young Shakespeare is “a more calm performance, without the celebratory atmosphere of Massey Hall, captured live on 16mm. Young Shakespeare is a very special event. To my fans, I say this is the best ever… one of the most pure-sounding acoustic performances we have in the Archive.”

Listen to “Tell Me Why” and watch a trailer for Young Shakespeare below:

Young Shakespeare will be released on vinyl and CD, while the concert film will be released as a standalone DVD. All three formats will be packaged together as a Deluxe Box Set Edition. Everyone who orders any physical format from this link will also receive high-res audio files of the album.

The post Neil Young unveils 1971 live album and concert film, Young Shakespeare appeared first on UNCUT.

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Meg Woof presents Adventures In Sound And Music

via The Wire: Home https://ift.tt/3qk3Y7C

Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958)

Donald Macleod explores the life and music of Ralph Vaughan Williams

Ralph Vaughan Williams is one of Britain’s most loved composers, and best-known symphonists, writing nine symphonies which span almost fifty years of his career. These works evoke a wide range of moods, each creating its own unique world, from his first stormy choral symphony, through the aggressive and the tranquil, to his final enigmatic, haunting Ninth. This week, Donald Macleod delves into the life and work of Vaughan Williams – a man who helped forge a new identity for English music in the 20th Century – paying special attention to the symphonies.

Music Featured:

The Robin’s Nest
Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis
Prayer to the Father of Heaven
A Cambridge Mass (Credo : Credo in Unum Deum)
A London Symphony (original 1913 version) (IV. Andante con moto)
Linden Lea
Bushes and Briars
God that madest heaven and earth
The Lark Ascending (original piano and violin version)
Norfolk Rhapsody No 1
On Wenlock Edge (On Bredon Hill)
A Sea Symphony (Scherzo: The Waves)
Dona Nobis Pacem – Reconciliation
Symphony No 3, “A Pastoral Symphony” (II. Lento moderato)
English Folk Song Suite (III. March, “Folk Songs from Somerset”)
Job (Introduction; Sarabande of the Sons of God; Epilogue)
Music for the film 49th Parallel (Prelude (closing titles))
Symphony No 6 (Epilogue)
Romance
Four Last Songs (Tired)
Flos Campi (VI. Pone me ut signaculum super cor tuum)
Symphony No 5 (IV. Passacaglia)
String Quartet No 2 (II. Romance)
Toward the Unknown Region
Come down O Love Divine (Down Ampney)
Sinfonia Antartica (Intermezzo (with introductory lines))
Hodie (This Day) – No Sad Thought His Soul Affright
Songs of Travel (Nos 1, 6 & 9)
Symphony No 9 (IV. Andante tranquillo)
Five Variants of Dives and Lazarus

Presented by Donald Macleod
Produced by Sam Phillips

For full track listings, including artist and recording details, and to listen to the pieces featured in full (for 30 days after broadcast) head to the series page for Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958) https://ift.tt/3jKauSH

And you can delve into the A-Z of all the composers we’ve featured on Composer of the Week here: https://ift.tt/2vwHS8q

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Yama yama! Ghédalia Tazartès 1947–2021

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