Talkin' trash to the garbage around me.

11 September, 2007

Lost gems of my youth

I've been culling my CDs for things to put on the new iPod, and I've been discovering some old friends from long ago...

Life's Rich Pageant - REM
Oh, to be young and earnest again. This album was the soundtrack for a time when I believed that "we" could change the world. The songs on here bristle with righteous concern, belying an optimism that things could, indeed, be better. "Begin the Begin" and "These Days" still remains one of my all-time favorite opening track combinations. "Fall on Me" is the tune that originally introduced many of us to the band, and the Southern Gothic of "Swan Swan H" made many a teenager in the South believe that coming from Dixie might not be all that bad. Even if it was the accompaniment of a far simpler time in my life, it's still hard not be infected by the album's recurring themes of hope.

It's a Jungle in Here - Medeski, Martin, and Wood
MMW's second album still rooted them firmly in the Downtown jazz tradition, but the space-funk explorations of their later work are clearly presaged here. And the albums eclecticism is a wonder to behold. The mash-up of Coltrane's "Bemsha Swing" with Bob Marley's "Lively Up Yourself" is alone worth the price of admission, and their cover of King Sunny Ade's "Moti Mo" is a gorgeous excursion that, along with a bottle of red, provided for many relaxing moments coming down while the sun came up. The album's NYC vibe doesn't translate so well walking the streets of DC, but who fucking cares.

Slip, Stitch, and Pass - Phish
The only way to experience Phish was live - they never translated well in the studio. And listening to a whole show is a three hour commitment that, quite frankly, if you don't have the pot and other psychedelics to sustain you, can get a little dull after awhile. Slip, Stitch, and Pass distills the live experience down to a manageable one disc affair, and it captures the band at a great time. Playing a small European room, you can practically hear people in the crowd elbowing their buddies and saying, "Wow!" This 1997 recording marks a point in time when Phish learned how to swing, and the jams became grooves. Trey's guitar work on this album is great, and the band tips their hat to the Talking Heads (with a funky cover of "Cities"), ZZ Top, Pink Floyd, the Doors, and even to beloved cartoon frog Michigan J. Frog with an a cappella "Hello My Baby." I can't listen to Phish much these days, but I'll make an exception for this album.

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