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Summer Spins

Jordan | Cram it in Your Ear | Tuesday, August 22nd, 2006

Here’s what I’ve been listening to this last week or so.

One of the all time best bestest best albums in the history of the Universe is Yo La Tengo’s masterpiece “Painful.” One of my student films was an effort to recreate the album cover. It was a modest success.


Second to “Painful” is the slightly more agile double CD “President Yo La Tengo/New Wave Hot Dogs.” I sometimes listen to this CD and just can’t believe that this world that gives us such horrible things as Dick Cheney could also produce something as fantastic as this. I spent a night in college arguing if YLT’s cover of Dylan’s “I Threw It All Away” was post-modern or not. (If not mistaken, I argued that it wasn’t, but based on the fact that the source material, Dylan’s “Nashville Skyline” period, was in itself post-modern. James? Bryan? Who won this fight?)


Daniel Brodsky’s music is hard to describe. If I had to compare him to somebody, I’d say Bruce Hornsby. . .but not as good. An esoteric disc (don’t know how in the world it wound up in my hands — I certainly never bought it) but it isn’t half bad. . .I’ve dug it out of the vault on more than one occasion.


The best track on “The Chess Years” is Koko + Muddy Waters’ duet on “Insane Asylum.” A classic. Fun to drive to. Hard to listen to all the way through, though, if not at a poker game or drinking whiskey.


Who knew it at the time, but David Byrne’s untitled album will probably wind up being his “rockinest.” It’s baffling that a track like “You & I,” “Back in the Box” or “Buck Naked” wasn’t a massive hit. . .I strongly believe that, on whole, Byrne’s solo work is of the same level as his work with the Talking Heads. (“Angels” and “Strange Ritual” are two of his best songs ever period full stop.)


Dug this one out when I was washing dishes and it has been on frequent repeat in the kitchen for a few days. I particularly like Pigpen on “Next Time You See Me.” Question for any Deadheads listening: How does a song like “Jack Straw” pass muster with leftist values? A lyric like “We can share the women/We can share the wine” objectifies women about as bad as any Sammy Hagar tune. Discuss.


1 Comment »

  1. Ah, 4/26/72, Jahrhunderthalle Frankfurt, a fine show and a well-packaged vault release (they’re multitrack remasters, unlike Dick’s Picks) with an awesome four-tune second disc. I’ve always been particularly fond of this one because the venue is on the way from the airport to my house in Wiesbaden, so every time we pass the exit I think, “the Dead played here when I was 3 years old!” The title is a total mistranslation, it’s “century hall” and the stained-glass cover is cute but totally off–the place is a 60s cement bunker where I once saw a ballroom dancing competition. My dad drives by it every day. The liner notes are good stuff though (Siehst Du die Toten?)–and make double-plus sure not to neglect the diggity-dank second disc….

    As for Jack Straw: Robert Hunter’s not as literal as all that. The Dead are outlaw pranksters, and Jack Straw is just one of the murderous & mysogonistic characters who wandered out of the subconscious of the American west into some of the songs, especially the more narrative first-set tunes. There’s all sorts of hidden wisdom in those lyrics but they don’t usually wear their politics on their sleeve (if you think they do, you’ve either been fooled or it’s a Barlow tune.)

    For some idea what Jack Straw is about (“a mysterious figure dating from the Great Revolt of 1381, aka the Peasants’ Revolt, or Wat Tyler’s Rebellion?”) check out

    Comment by jurgen — August 25, 2006 @ 10:46 am

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