Thursday, July 5, 2007

Yesterday's Listening List

Lots of listening yesterday. King Crimson's The Power to Believe on the way into work. Barenboim playing Beethoven's Diabelli Variations in the morning and his new recording of Mahler's Ninth at lunch.

Quite a lot of music for the morning (Howard Stern's on vacation this and next week) so I decided to relax a bit and listened to Robert Fripp's 2005-12-07 London Soundscapes performance.

On the way home it was Miles Davis's "Zimbabwe" from Pangaea. Lots of good moments on this one, especially Dave Liebman's first solo, but I think you could probably do some healthy cutting on the end of the set without missing too much - the last 6 minutes is pretty much just dicking around on percussion.

I got Pangaea and the other 1975 live album Agharta on the 1996 Mastersound remasters from Japan. They both feature extra material not on the original albums - something like 3 minutes for Pangaea and 20 minutes for Agharta. At first I thought this was a good thing, but now I kind of wish I had Teo Macero's original edits. He's the one who made Bitches Brew, Jack Johnson, etc. coherent and I don't like his being pushed to the side by Columbia (Sony). Macero's had nothing to do with the huge ongoing Miles boxset project and his input on the upcoming On The Corner sessions box will be missed. But yeah, I'll still be buying it.

Listened to a King Crimson show from 1994-09-29 in Buenos Aires, their second concert after returning to active service after the 10 year break. More spills than thrills here. Fripp makes some impressive mistakes including stepping on a couple landmines during "Discipline": he loses his balance at one point, the ostinato gets shaky and in the recovery he hits a note 8 miles from where he needed to be. And the very end of the song features Fripp's ostinato part completely breaking down. Some missed pedal hits from both guitarists as well. And "VROOOM VROOOM" as song didn't convince me at all until I heard live versions of it from 1996. Here, and on the B'Boom live album, it's distressingly flaccid.

But there's good stuff here, too. "Funky Jam", which also appears on the VROOOM Sessions disc, is cool and makes me regret they abandoned it. I liked the version of "Heartbeat" and the instrumental version of "People" is interesting. It's a show worth hearing but it's not essential. To me, this lineup didn't really start getting it together until the next year and finally caught fire in 1996 which is, of course, when they stopped performing.


Colby Cosh said...

Zimbabwe, huh? Miles picks another winner.

Jason said...

I doubt he actually picked the title. He spent no energy thinking of titles for the tunes. The same basic ideas reappear on other live albums under different titles. The opening section of "Zimbabwe" is called "Moja (Part 1)" on Dark Magus and goes by the name "Turnaround phrase" on the bootlegs - this is most likely the title the band used. The second part of "Zimbabwe" is actually "Tune in 5". But yeah, 70s black nationalist-inspired titles don't wear so well these days.