Thursday, October 09, 2008

Tell Tale Signs

Dylan’s back, and he’s got everyone running for cover again. It’s true, as Larry Sloman points out in the liner notes for the Bootleg Series Volume 8, that Dylan’s eight ‘bootleg’ cds of ‘extra material’ are enough to make a career for any other performer. Indeed, what Bob leaves on the cutting room floor often surpasses his own official album releases. From Volume 1-3, Blind Willie McTell and Farewell Angelina rank among the best songs he’s ever written, and no one but Bob could explain why he chose to shelve them. The same is true for Volume 8, released on Tuesday and loaded with gems. It’s a combination of alternate versions, early demos, unreleased tracks and blistering live versions of songs from his ‘late period’, 1989-2006. His recent studio albums are astonishing, but Volume 8 gives us a bonus, and sheds some light on his creative process. The alternate versions of Someday Baby and Most of the Time are radically different from what ended up on the albums, but are nonetheless impressive. And the unreleased tracks, Born in Time and Red River Shore in particular, rank right up there in his whole immense catalog. You could buy this release (should buy it, in fact) and not feel like it’s a collection of oddities for hardcore fans only.

But alas, I have a complaint. A rather big one, in fact. I got the 2-cd set for $18.99, which is more than fair. But the limited edition release, priced at over $100, contains a third disc of treasures and a book of all of Bob’s single record picture sleeves. Why must I pay an extra $80 for that? I don’t care much about the book, but that third cd is important. For the majority of music fans, the 2-cd set is enough, but I count myself amongst a small group of fanatics that want that extra disc of material, and I feel like we’re being taken advantage of. Of course the third cd is not available on i-tunes. I noticed this trend with the U2 remastered releases, with a hefty price tag on the premium edition for the fans who just can’t say no. Well I want that third disc, but I’m saying no. Columbia should not be surprised when these tracks start showing up on blogs and torrent sites. For God’s sake, some of Bob’s fans have been buying his records for 45 years, and this is how you treat them? Shame.

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Sunday, October 05, 2008

My Lollapalooza - 2 and 3

Okay, it's ancient history by now, I know that. I have no explanation for why I can't seem to get to this blog lately, but such is life. I need to get back to my idea from a few months ago and keep the posts very brief, but more frequent. Just a few words on what I saw on Day 2 and Day 3, so I can move on:

Day 2 for me of course was dominated by Wilco. Of course I've seen them numerous times, and this set was certain to be less adventurous since they were playing to a festival crowd. But I have no interest in Rage Against the Machine, and let's face it, if you're at a festival and your favorite band is playing, ya gotta be there. I pushed to the front to see the boys play a great energetic set, including a new tune called One Wing ( a WIP, or work in progress as Tweedy called it). The band came out in brightly colored and sequined Nudie suits, which looked like a cross between the Grand Ol Opry and Sgt. Pepper. A splendid time was guaranteed for all.

Wilco - One Wing - August 2, 2008

Earlier in the day I caught several bands including:

Dr. Dog - Their low-hi, retro sounding albums are deceiving. They are potent, great live band too.
Foals - I really enjoyed this energetic set from these so-called 'math-rockers'. Intricate and alternative, like King Crimson meets the Cure. I just wandered over to the Citi stage for this. One the great things about a festival with so much diversity is to discover a band you're never heard of.

DeVotchKa - This set was a blast. Never thought I'd see a rock band with a female tuba player.
DJ Bald Eagle - I don't really get the appeal of the whole DJ thing. Maybe in a dance club, but not here.
Battles - Similar to Foals, but not nearly as good.

Broken Social Scene
By Sunday, I was starting to burn out a bit, so I got to the fest a little late. The suprise of the day was Blues Traveler, which played a terrific set, closing with a cover of I Want You to Want Me. One of the original jam bands, and still going strong, and I saw a lot of young kids really getting into it. Love and Rockets was good, but even better was the National, who attracted an overflow crowd at the Playstation 3 stage.

The crowd slowly gathered all afternoon in anticipation of Nine Inch Nails. I chose NIN mostly because I couldn't care less about Kanye West, who was heading the other end of the festival. I really have no connection to the type of music NIN plays, but I was curious. I only lasted about a third of the way through, bored by the brooding and aggression. The light show was pretty amazing, though. I felt sorry for some of the parents who there with their young kids in a sea of bodies as Trent Reznor growled about wanting to 'fuck you like an animal." So I wandered over to the other end and discovered one thing about Kanye; without the studio, the dude can't sing.
Even though the Sunday headliners disappointed, I will almost certainly return next year.

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