Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Random Excess Mambo

This is all pretty random - really no time to do any of this justice but felt moved to put in my 1 cent...

I recently purchased Set 2 of Wire's "Legal Bootleg" series. Most people seem to favor particular periods in Wire's history: their first fiery, sculpted blasts of artpunk fury of their "Pink Flag" debut, the catchier and more experimental albums that followed "Chairs Missing" and ""154." Then came hiatus number one that lasted about 10 years, whereupon they re-emerged embracing dancey beats, extensive use of synthesizers and a closer approximation of contemporary quasi-pop (ala Cure, Human League, Simple Minds, Psychedelic Furs, etc.). And then hiatus number two that last another 10 years and suddenly they started releasing stunning artpunk EP's in the "Read And Burn" series, then the wonderfully rabble-rousing, brain teasing "Send" album. Followed by a bunch more albums that each have a good share of worthwile material.

What I like about this series is getting a peak at how the band executed the repertoire from "Ideal Copy" through "The First Letter." And while a good amount of that material suffered under trendy or arbitrary studio strategies the solid songcraft and economical, pointed playing is what is primarily in evidence on their live performances from this period.

The material from their second and third album always comes across nicely - but no big surprises. Their most recent material fares pretty well too in a live setting.

Two albums that shine most brightly in Set 2 would be: 09 August 2009, Off Festival, Myslowice; 19 July 1979, Notre Dame Hall, London. The former would appear to be their first performance either in Poland, or at least at this particular festival (based on some of their comments from the stage) and clearly they were aiming to make a good first impression - pulling together a career-spanning set that'd be any Wire fans wet dream. And played as sharp and enthusiastically as is possible. The other show basically functions as the great lost Wire album - the 4th album from their original incarnation that only got peripheral documentation via a few Rough Trade singles and the dodgey live recordings that appeared on "Document and Eyewitness." And indeed the Notre Dame Hall show was the source of some of the material on that post-break up release. But here's the whole set with the band in top form! Pretty essential for Wire fans.

Another notable live set that just arrived is the Fripp & Eno "Live In Paris" 3CD set. I've been an Eno fan from day one and listened to the first two Fripp and Eno sets obsessively for years (and still bust 'em out every couple months). This performance drew from their first two albums, Eno's "Discreet Music" and enough additional material to comprise another full studio album. The previously unreleased compositions tend to be heavier and rawer and present a rather nice shock to longtime fans of the first two records. Also Eno also interpolated pre-recorded voices into some of these performances, presaging his work with David Byrne on "My Life In The Bush of Ghosts." The last disc here are a variety of loops without live improvisation, both loops that were used and test loops. The last two traks are a loop run in reverse and "Later On" which was an edit from some of their studio recordings released as the B side of Eno's "Seven Deadly Finns" single.

LASTLY - we've got "One More Shots" from the Rolling Stones. This was the new track added to their last hits compilation and...ya know, musically it's pretty fuggin great if you like post "Get Yer Ya Ya's" out Stones. But as with all their output from "Voodoo Lounge" onwards Jagger's lyrics sound both forced and tossed off - my fantasy is always of Jagger sitting at the kitchen table, sulking over a cup of tea until the Missus says "Kids, help grandpa write some words to this song and he'll take you to the mall for a Pinkberry."