The song logic of Tom Waits

Musicians can be typified by their interplay ― and songwriters by their song logic.

When I first encountered Tom Waits, I was intrigued not only by the voice and the raw soul behind it, but the amazing songwriter at work. I was especially fond of his sense for the humanly absurd, and for the weird and completely logical way he works his themes into timeless song structures and dirty rhythm & soul. Circus freaks and broken sailors, drunken whores and forlorn desperadoes cast in road songs, train songs and roustabout sing-alongs. Songs from the street and songs from the heart, alternating with gruff gravel and aching tenderness or pastoral warmth, and all set in their most native form. Continue reading “The song logic of Tom Waits”

The Grateful Dead play Hard to Handle

Classic jams, classic jams… from ten different angles…

Remember those musical hits that go straight for the sacral iliac? Where there’s no question, just straight musical interface? You put it on, you get up and shimmy about ― because it’s right and necessary? That good old unalloyed musical power, the hair standing on your arms, that cool cerebral chill. Doesn’t happen very often, does it?  Continue reading “The Grateful Dead play Hard to Handle”

Steely Dan – Everything Must Go

Ah, the Dan… where would the 70s be without them? But watch out, they snare and draw you in with their studio smarts and pop cleverness! A dialogic review.

A dialogue with Adam Rivett contributing.

Rino
This must be a sign of something: I’m listening to Everything Must Go (from 2003). I see what you mean about the Beckerblues overplayed on the current live show… this album is littered with light-blues fills. And he plays bass all over it too: nice Sadowksy sounds according to the credits, but not that good a groove feel.  Continue reading “Steely Dan – Everything Must Go”

Donald Fagen – Morph the Cat

White-boy soul on another level, and so much better than Steely Dan’s last output, this is High Donald Art.

My disappointment with Everything Must Go seems fully justified and warranted now that I’ve heard Morph the Cat. Quite simply, Morph is everything that Everything should’ve been. It’s better, slicker, smoother and heaps more fun than the Dan cut. Like Adam says, Fagan’s solo works sound more like Steely Dan records, as opposed to Becker’s solo ventures; leaving one to conclude that Fagen is the greater shareholder in the Dan equation. Which is not to say that Morph sounds like a fully realised Dan album, it just meets more of the Dan expectations than Everything did.  Continue reading “Donald Fagen – Morph the Cat”

Terrence Malick – The New World

An austere yet faithful meditation on the nature of two worlds in collision, this is one of the best films of the last ten years. Forget the Farrell factor, this is pure spiritualism in cinematic movement.

Firstly, there’s all the potential clichés of films about discovery, the West, and the colonial Eden of American dreams. If you saw The New World trailer with Indian natives, European tall ships and fighting colonialists, especially after those Columbus films of several years back, and the entire cliché-catalogue of cowboys & injuns or films that go up the river, then you’d be prepared to sigh dispiritedly. But this is the pure, honest opposite of that cliché and drivel. It completely eschews any prejudiced POV or familiar fare. Continue reading “Terrence Malick – The New World”

Grant Burge {Barossa} 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon

An elegant and rounded Barossa red from Cameron Vale. Crack open the cheese and gather your tasting notes for a fine drop.

From the tasting notes on the label: “Rich ruby colour… complex nose, earthy eucalypt, mint dark chocolate… Elegant palate, generous dark berry fruits & savoury leather supported by well structured tannins & integrated fine-grained French oak… Excellent weight & persistence.” Continue reading “Grant Burge {Barossa} 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon”

John Coltrane – Ballads

Albums with ballads and standards are often overlooked in the jazz canon because they are less exploratory, but this makes them more revealing and contrapuntal.

 

Something I’ve carried over from my Miles studies is the habit of measuring a jazzman by his facility and strength with ballads. Especially standards and slow tunes. It’s the basic premise of musical modesty: the master returns to the simplest, most familiar songs to display economy, soul and superior technique. Or rather, call it musical musical wisdom: the master who’s at home in all formats as well as being a radical technician and explorer in his dayjob. I’m thinking of Miles in the depths of sickness and Fusion, breaking down and playing an old ballad, from an old-school place in the heart, where the genius is at home. Continue reading “John Coltrane – Ballads”