Thursday, October 8, 2009

Q & A

Time to have a peek in the ol' mail bag:

Q. Veronica, have you ever had any musical heroes?

A. In one sense, too many to count. Relatively speaking, for sure: Tommy Bolin. His first solo work 'Teaser' was my favorite album of the 70s; the song 'Wild Dogs' was crucial for its call-and-response guitar duet fadeout. Bolin's work on Billy Cobham's 'Spectrum' made that record a still-enjoyable artifact of the jazz-rock fusion era. And he died in his 20s when that sort of stupidity was still fashionable.

These days? Maybe Lindsey Buckingham. I can't think of anyone who has drawn more zigzaggy lines in the middle of the road than him. I watch him perform 'Come' at a Mac show and wonder about those poor souls in the audience who just came to hear 'Rhiannon.' (Man, am I in for a hazing from the other bloggers for posting this)

Q. You do go on about the wonders of random play. Anything you don't like about it?

A. Yeah, a couple of bits. One is sonic inconsistencies. Not genre-related; I mean disc sound quality. Some older discs sound flat when played in immediate juxtaposition with more modern recordings. Part of this was attributable to shovelware; lots of unremastered catalog titles were rushed to market during the boom. Most of this has been corrected over the years, but some lesser artists who had their run during the late 80s and early 90s sound a bit sickly today. Curve comes to mind; 'Doppelganger' was my favorite aural assault weapon in '92; it sounds tame today. One is tempted to turn up the volume.

Another more insidious problem is the context of random play itself. Subtler musics can get lost in a shuffle loaded with shinier noisier offerings. Some understatedly pleasurable albums might not leave much of a mark. For instance, Musee Mecanique. Main Figurehead turned me on to them; I listened to their album straight through and found it charming. Individually, though, their songs often float right by almost unnoticed in the middle of a random playlist. Big drawback.

Q. Does this look infected?

A. Do I look like a bureaucrat to you? Consult your insurance agent for a proper diagnosis.

Q. What is your all-time favorite guitar solo?

A. Robert Fripp's in Eno's Baby's On Fire.

Q. What is your latest vintage music discovery?

A. Well, I just downloaded a collection of Les Baxter's material, but my most recent eye-opener was Terry Callier's first album, 'The New Folk Sound.' He recorded it in 1964 for Prestige, but it didn't come out until 1968 and went unnoticed. It is a marvel. I know I'm the last kid on the block here, but on the off-chance you haven't heard it...if you have ever loved folk music and/or Nina Simone, this is a must. Next up for me: his three early 70s albums.

Q. Know any jokes?

A. A skeleton walks into a bar and orders a beer and a mop.

Q. Got a favorite current songwriter?

A. Thea Gilmore. I love her to pieces and have for almost ten years. If you have yet to partake, do. Thea writes with real poignancy and grace, and she delivers with a voice that one reviewer placed as somewhere between Alison Moyet, Sandy Denny, Annie Lennox and Beth Orton, a remarkable bit of bet-hedging. She has nine albums and a few EPs out, and there is not a dud among them. Her latest, 'Recorded Delivery,' is a live album that actually serves as a fine introduction, containing as it does a fine sprinkling of career highlights. Here she is:

1 comment:

Mama E Dub said...

No hazing here, dude. My first ever concert experience in 8th grade was Fleetwood Mac on the "Tusk" tour.

I also tried your random thing on a roadtrip yesterday to plow through a bunch of new stuff that came in to the Cedar. It was a great way to determine what I want to learn more about vs. ignore without predetermined ideas about who the bands were.