I won't spend a lot of time on the intro because, quite frankly, I dove into listening to this without researching anything appropriately.
Yeah, read on down and realize what an idiot I am.
"Can You Follow" include Jack's intro to us, seemingly as he enters on stage. Oh live albums, how your banter is lost on those of us who can't see the artist. So the song finally starts, and I would swear we've got some Randy Newman in here - a flat voice (not pitch-wise - that's just the only way I can think to describe it) with a piano behind it. There's some effort at emotion, but it's difficult as this artist has clearly been entertaining us for many years now.
A piano leads in very naturally, only accompanied by a brushed cymbal and slight bass, for "Morning Story." This is like... a really tough listening of Mick Jagger. Or almost anyone that was around before 1970 on the Concert for New York album. I'm not take any credit away from the artist - I feel bad even criticizing the current sound. It's just not great. This happens. Time is rough on us all. I just wish the accompanying music made up for it, is all. It gets better as the horns come in and jazz it up just a little bit more
"You Burned the Tables On Me' seems to show some growing strength in the show, like the band is finally really feeling the groove. Things really get funky with a guitar solo that I believe must have been curtesy of Mr. Bruce himself. Center stage is finally taken on, and it finally becomes more than a background album for me as I clean through my email. Ahhh finally.
He sure is a polite sucker. He thanks the audience a ton, and also the band for making time to even come play tonight. As he launches into the nest song, "Neighbor Neighbor" it really seems like a push to give it, but he does give his all. There's fun riffs in there, and he does these cool staccato things with his voice that give the whole song this other sound. A sax takes on the solo portion of this song, then a trumpet sings on out. This SNL band if you need a reference.
"Child Song" is a struggle, possibly both for Jack's voice as well as for my ears. I would be totally fine with this whole thing if it were an instrumental performance, but the accompanying voice is just so rough. There are these moments where he gets way too close to the mic, unnecessarily, and then backs off awkwardly where we lose the entire sentence. Whoever's playing piano (I'm guessing him?) and sax (not him) is doing a tremendous job at some great lounge music though so... that's something.
Sometimes I pause albums when I leave a room so that I don't miss anything. I didn't feel the need to do that with this one, and came back in during an instrumental break during "Weird of Hermiston." I came back still completely fine with my anti-pause decision, as I could not understand a damn thing being said when the vocals did come back in. Ugh. Aggravating.
"Folk Song" slows the moment down a bit, with a much more solemn tone than before, just showing some slight emotion in a hardened voice. I just yawned, but I feel like I may have been doing that at this actual show as well. Bah, I hate being negative about any music, and this is definitely music, but it's just failing to strike any kind of chord at all. I know that happens from time to time, but on a 16-track album it's a little difficult to deal with.
Hopefully I spoke too soon, because the band seems to bring it right off the bat with the ten-minute long "Spoonful." I was able to turn this down enough while talking to my roommate where it was really just sort of on in the background and I didn't have to give it much thought, and found my foot tapping along. See, there had to been some goodness somewhere in this album. You can't possibly record 16 un-enjoyable tracks. Yay for redemption (and if Steph reads this - I still don't believe there will be any for the Red Sox tonight!).
"Theme from an Imaginary Western" is hardly audible in the words department, but the music is very nice and has some sort of emotion of realization behind it - like the end of a "good" 80's movie (I use that term loosely). I'm disregarding the painful sound of the voice here - and God, I'm so sorry to put that down Jack. Otherwise, nice pop-blues number.
Something just slightly salsa-influenced is happening for "Tickets to Waterfalls," even if only for a minute. The way the beat is kept so heavily on the hi-hat and the rhythm of the horns just seems to bring it toward that line. It doesn't really remain there, with more of a steady blues guitar taking up a larger portion of the lead, but it's sort of a cool mod-podge of sound (I really just wanted to use that phrase... I'm not sure I used the right one.).
"Never tell your mother she's out of tune" just strikes me as funny, mostly because my mother can't carry a tune for her life. That, and the tune being carried here is obviously not what it used to be either. The words are lost, completely, though the band keeps up a pretty nice beat throughout. They're at least in a partying mood, even behind the vocals.
Things slow just slightly into this more smokey sound from the guitar for "Bad Sign." I'd venture to call the singing portion of this scat, but it's not - it's just a non-understandable string of words that were actually supposed to mean something. Can you tell I'm getting a little tired of this whole lost lyrics situation?
"We're Going Wrong" has a guitar singing out at the get-go, just loudly enugh to evoke the blues emotion. It could be a pretty fantastic solemn track if left to its own instrumental devices. Granted, the tone of the singing is right - soulful, and in pain - it matches what the guitar plays. This is sort of a sit-in-a-dark-room-alone number, but a decent one. At least there's something a little more there than before, emotionally, instead of just a vocal struggle. THe intensity that picks up as it gets farther in is something. There's a slight darkness to the track and that gives it so much more body and strength.
The pace picks up into more of a party/movement mode with "Deserted Cities." The vocals are just barely there, but the band is on a roll here. They are throwing their full effort behind what's going on and not quitting for a second. It's still, no matter how often I hear it, very cool to hear an entire band come together to make a great sound like that.
"White Room" is next, and by the immediate sounds, it's exactly that "White Room" that you probably already know. And Jack's got it going just right this time. We don't hear it, but if that crowd didn't go crazy right at the start of this one, they are pretty damn lame. As I'm ending this out, I'm finally doing a little research, and feel pretty awful about dissing his voice - this is the voice of Cream after all. But the rest as been very, very hard to listen to! This one sort of makes up for a lot, where the blends of sounds most definitely work in every which way possible. On one hand, I feel entirely educated and better about things, on the other, I feel like a jackass. *sigh* All right, I'm just going to finish these last 3 minutes and appreciate the kickin' drum solo that never ends...
So now that we've properly identified one of the greatest bass players of all time, I'm much more apt to like the rest of the album, which is actually only one song - "Sunshine." Oh of COURSE this is the classic one, come on. It's only ever appropriate that I be proved a fool by the end of an album that was so hard to like. Man... okay, you get it. This is good. And sounds 100x better when you know the song at hand. Oi. Enjoy.
Added to My Playlist:
- "You Burned the Tables On Me"
- "Deserted Cities"
- "White Room"
What bugs the hell out of me right now is that I probably would have liked this whole thing a lot more if I'd just done a tiny bit of research beforehand. Somehow, knowing who it is always helps you enjoy what's happening that much more. But, I guess in a way, it's good to have an un-inhibited prospective sometimes. But yeah, this was Jack Bruce - no wonder the damn instrumentals were so good!