Back from my much-needed extended holiday way down south, as close to the Sahara as one can get short of floating in the water just a few miles offshore. Twenty-five to thirty-something degrees Celsius each and every day, nary a cloud. Great places to see, a breathtaking landscape and lots of insiders’ tips in my back pocket.
“Recent Acquisitions” has been something I’ve had around for quite a while on this site, in one form or another. And looking back on past posts or drafts that never came to fruition, there’s one single aspect that stands out immediately. The shopping sprees of the past are long gone. It could be that I have reached a saturation point somewhat, although I do doubt that. It’s just that I have so much to listen to that whenever I stumble over more “Want-Need-Will Have” items, I’m reluctant to shell out the dough, mostly because my bad conscience (left shoulder, far right) parades those CDs in front of my inner eye that I haven’t really listened to intensively yet.
Aside from that, despite the many reissue programs still running more or less strongly (to float even more cash into the labels’ vaults), not much has really piqued my interest much. Aside from the earlier Queen remasters that I bought into and the odd jazz reissue I purchased to fill some holes in my collection, at the moment I’m relying mostly on impulse whenever I stumble over significantly reduced items, most of which have been on my mental “get when cheap” list for months, if not years.
Add to that space considerations because my available storage space is nearly filled to the brim and what you get is me, myself and little I buying the odd CD here and there when it’s dirt cheap (and keeping some bigger reissues in mind for later).
Here then is brief commentary on some of the recent items acquired, and an eclectic list it is. I didn’t sift through all of the recent purchases because I’m simply too lazy, but there were more. I just went with the ones I keep in my “Human CD Holder” next to my stereo. Yep, I’m getting old.
Chastenier, Frank. Songs I’ve Always Loved. Emarcy/Universal, 2010.
The follow-up album to the debut one I talked about elsewhere on my site has started to grow on me. Upon first listen I was somewhat disappointed, especially as the term “Muzak” came to mind at times, but after having spun this one countless times for dinner or for quiet slave work my day-job entails, I have a much better feel for what Chastenier wanted to achieve. Yes, it certainly stays in vein and serves up what most listeners of the previous album expected, but I just like Chastenier’s touch and take on tunes that shape his musical universe. This release has been moving up my chart.
Chickenfoot. Chickenfoot. Edel, 2009.
This CD, plus several below, came from a spontaneous shopping spree spurred on by incredibly cheap prices at one of our mega stores around here. I bought it because a) I had read quite a bit about it and b) because it cost Euro 1,99, all told. I am NOT a fan of Sammy Hagar, although I respect his sincerity, but billed as a super-group (God, who isn’t nowadays), I decided that for 1/5th of the price of a decent cocktail around here, I couldn’t go wrong. I am as yet undecided about this one. It’s got that 80s/90s feel to it, excellent craftsmanship and pretty good songwriting, but I can’t follow many of those 5-star reviews this release has garnered. To me, there’s nothing that is new or significant about any of the music on here. Yes, it’s good, solid and really well-made, but I have a few hundred other CDs along the same lines so I wasn’t bowled-over at all. I’ve decided to put it onto my Cowon S9 to give it a couple of more whirls in an attempt to block out mediocrity while on public transport and in shops. Let’s see how it fares.
Clayton, Gerald. Two-Shade. Emarcy/Universal, 2009.
There’s that old shtick with “Five Degrees of Separation” and with this one I only had to take one single step. Having been a big fan of John Clayton (and Jeff Hamilton) for years, I thought I’d give Clayton’s son a chance, especially when some of the audio snippets around the Net told me that I might like this one, and I do. Gerald Clayton is certainly a virtuoso on his instrument, the piano, and someone to watch. What surprised me is that this relase (already) displays a definite air of (self-)confidence, coming from a man a mere 27 years of age. Some of the stuff on here is astonishing in its freshness and I’ve added Clayton to my “must watch” list. I wouldn’t be surprised if, in future, he really shakes up the small corner I’m such a huge fan of, the piano-trio jazz one. This guy is good, and a lot better than 99% of his peers. “Two-Shade”, at the moment, is a permanent in my “Human CD Holder” next to my stereo while other new and old stuff is rotated in and out of there all the time. I dig.
The Doobie Brothers. Original Album Series. Rhino/WB, 2011.
Yeah, shoot me, if you please. The Doobie Brothers were a big part of my youth and despite all the hate they have managed to collect over the years, especially for their post-Tommy Johnston phase, they were once a big part of my life. I have all of their LPs, every single one of them, but on CD I didn’t have any more than their box set (“Long Train Runnin’: 1970-2000, Rhino/WEA), aside from the best version of “Livin’ on the Fault Line”, which is still my favorite recording of theirs. When I saw this 5-CD reissue which includes “Toulouse Street“, “The Captain and Me“, “What Were Once Vices Are Now Habits“, “Stampede” and, finally, “Takin’ It to the Streets“, all produced by the reliable Ted Templeman and discounted to a mere 8 Euro at my local haunt, I couldn’t resist. This is classic stuff, and I’ve been enjoying it once again since I bought this collection. A no-brainer for me.
Gallagher, Rory. Original Album Classics. Strange Music/Sony/BMG, 2008.
Again, for 8 Euro (7.99, in fact), I couldn’t resist this 5-CD collection, simply because I wanted to have “Fresh Evidence”. Hell, a single copy of that album would have cost more than this collection and the other 4 CDs were then nothing but a bonus to the one I wanted to have in my collection. Rory Gallagher (1948-1995), whom I am huge fan of, was all over the map musically, but whenever he hit the blues, he lobbed it out of the ballpark and “Fresh Evidence, his best album in my eyes, is a must-have for any collection. I had an old worn-out LP and took my chances with the rest. “Deuce” and “Jinx”, two more albums included here, were the added bonus as they were hard-to-find releases for years. Europe didn’t come much better than with Rory Gallagher, a true original with his very own style and take on things. A must-have.
Peter Green Splinter Group. Me & The Devil. Snapper/Complete Blues-The Works, 2008 (3-CD).
I am too lazy to check right now, but somewhere on livingwithmusic.com I have previously written about seeing Peter Green live in a local small village pub stuffed to the rafters with people from a time long-gone. It was a stellar concert with Green having beat the odds and out and about again with the Blues. When “The Devil & Me” popped up in some online store in its 3-CD incarnation (CD 01: “Hotfoot Powder“; CD 02: “The Robert Johnson Songbook“; CD 03: “Robert Johnson: Original Recordings“) for a Fiver, I jumped at the chance and snapped it up. It would be arrogant to say that I’m the world’s biggest Peter Green fan, but I would certainly count myself in the larger group that is. His Fleetwood Mac material and a large part of his solo output, even the stuff that was lambasted by critics, is a cornerstone of my music collection, and the “Robert Johnson Songbook” is a later highlight from his career. Again, a no-brainer, especially at that price.
Huey Lewis. Plan B. Curb Records, 2003.
Yeah, I know, just shoot me. When Huey Lewis’ earlier stuff, the stuff that reigned the charts for ages, came out, I was in the right mind to get hooked. He lost me after “Small World” (1988), a recording that includes one of my absolute and total favorite tunes ever, “Old Antone’s”, and he netted me again with “Plan B”. When I saw him live sometime in the 80s, I remember thinking that his music just wasn’t for the stadiums, large arenas and open-air festivals, and “Plan B” proves it. His music, to me, has always been a Friday-/Saturday-night live club thing – small audience, big sound … and fun. “Plan B” falls squarely into that category and, on top of that, it shows someone who has gotten that second wind which, in my humble opinion, shows the professionalism of someone who has been on the road and in clubs and on stages seemingly forever. Groovy, professional, fun.
Sting. Live in Berlin-Featuring the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. UMG/Deutsche Grammophon, 2010. (CD & DVD).
This live recording, along with its “little brother”, “Symphonicities“, has been trashed by both fans and critics alike. I can see where they are coming from, telling Sting that he has “sold out” and bowed to the commercialism that most of his (former) fans abhorred, but, hell, I like his orchestral take on things. I really don’t give a hoot about Sting, Peter Gabriel and others being labelled as prototypical “sell-outs”, recycling the best of their back-catalog time and again. What I’ve heard on both “Symphonicities” and its live version, “Live in Berlin“, is someone who certainly does care about his musical legacy and giving it a serious spin through the orchestrated hoops. If you like his stuff, you will find a load of well-orchestrated versions that DO NOT detract from the originals. Yes, I didn’t dare buy into both until they became dirt-cheap, but once I did, I was glad to have both. I enjoy them time and again, both hits and misses.
Thigpen, Ed. The Ed Thigpen Trio Live at Tivoli Copenhagen-You and the Night and the Music (CD)/Ed Thigpen-Master of Rhythm and Taste (DVD). Stunt Records, 2011.
I bought this release immediately upon finding out about it for several reasons. a) For a short while, a year or two, Ed Thigpen was my teacher. During that time, we spent more time talking about life, the universe, music and jazz than actually practicing drums. b) In those conversations and every single time we met in other spots around Copenhagen, his preferred residence of choice, he came across to me as the world’s most genuine gentleman. c) I wanted to see how many of the things he revealed to me after having gotten to know him a bit more he might have talked about on the DVD accompanying this release. Well, it’s all there. The insecurities, the family life that he invested so much time and energy in, despite everything else he had to juggle, the sincerity, his outwardly stalwart and inwardly questioning character. Plus more. That DVD, to me, was a highlight of these past few years. The world is worse off without Ed Thigpen in it.
And the live CD has both Carsten Dahl, one of my absolute favorite pianists, and Jesper Bodilsen, one of the world-best bassists, to boot.
Again, a no-brainer.
Trioscene. When you Come Home. Sony/BMG, 2008.
“Trioscene” is a piano trio that, to me, is a symbiosis of both the Esbjörn Svensson Trio and the Tord Gustavesen Trio. Yes, they are not way up there, but they are the best thing now that E.S.T. are dead and the Tord Gustavsen Trio has become a, sorry to say, mediocre quartet that just doesn’t grab me whatsoever and is all over the map musically. To tie me over, I listen to “Trioscene”, and one of their best releases is “When You Come Home”. Lyrical, up-beat and clever. A regular around here now that I waited long enough, after having seen them live, to get that release at 1/3 of the price. Yes, I’m stingy.
Winter, Johnny. Roots. Megaforce Records, 2011.
Last, but not least: Ever since I saw Johnny Winter live in the 80s many times – and once again in the 90s – I’ve been a fan. Much of his stuff has been hit or miss, but “Roots”, despite the fact that fans of the more traditional take on the Blues might not get with the program, is a real blast. Of all the albums I bought recently, this is the one I listen to almost daily. Winter pays homage to the tunes that shaped his musical universe, and his take on these ageless tunes, together with people like Sonny Landreth, Jimmy Vivino, Warren Haynes, Frank Latorre, John Popper, Vince Gill (really?!), Susan Tedeschi, his brother Edgar (the only instrumental on this CD), Derek Trucks (really?!), Paul Nelson and John Medeski are just pure and totally unadulterated fun. I love this CD and if you don’t, it’s no skin off my nose.
There’s more traveling my way, a reissued Oscar Peterson recording (actually two), the last original Dave Brubeck quartet recording (live), and a few others, but the above, plus the ones I didn’t write about here, should tie me over.
When they arrive, I might write about them here.