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Article: Easily My Album Of The Year


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7 hours ago, The Computer Audiophile said:

It’s art, there’s no such thing as appropriate. 

 

Then there's no point in reading any music reviews? We cannot express an opinion about "art"?

 

Maybe mine was not well articulated, or the term "appropriate" was not well chosen. 

 

Regardless, sharing your enthusiasm about this album is great, but you should be open to reading negative opinions as well. It's all meant to be fun... 

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5 hours ago, kumakuma said:

 

Here's another example of how to transform the familiar into something completely new and original.

 

Anyone who can't see the artistry in this is dead to me... 👺

 

 

 

It is not as grotesque as her "what a little.." but it still leaves me cold (both the singing and the music). 

 

Funny when I heard this I immediately told myself this is the type of song that Johnny Cash would do well, looked it up and lo and behold he did sing it :) 

 

 

That's more like it! 

I'll bet that in 50 years time no one will be listening to Cecil McLoren Salvent's contortions but that Johnny Cash will still be appreciated.

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5 hours ago, The Computer Audiophile said:

If two singers are trying to impersonate Billie, then we can probably start judging which one did it closer to the original. All other original art / performances stand on their own. A cover of a song is an original performance and we can like it or not, but there’s no right or wrong way to do it. 

 

I'm all for covers, and there are many artists I love who are not composers and don't perform originals. But in Billie Holiday's case this version she sang in 1935 is so perfect that everything pales in comparison. There are plenty of famous singers who covered it after, plenty that I like, but it always seems like a futile effort 😂 

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1 minute ago, hopkins said:

 

I'm all for covers, and there are many artists I love who are not composers and don't perform originals. But in Billie Holiday's case this version she sang in 1935 is so perfect that everything pales in comparison. There are plenty of famous singers who covered it after, plenty that I like, but it always seems like a futile effort 😂 

 

In. Your. Opinion.

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58 minutes ago, hopkins said:

Then there's no point in reading any music reviews? We cannot express an opinion about "art"?

 

 

I suppose there are still technical points that can be made regarding the performance, but subjectively, you're only getting that persons opinion.

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2 minutes ago, AudioDoctor said:

 

I suppose there are still technical points that can be made regarding the performance, but subjectively, you're only getting that persons opinion.

 

Let's say that some people's opinions are more worthwhile reading than others'

 

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59 minutes ago, hopkins said:

That's more like it! 

I'll bet that in 50 years time no one will be listening to Cecil McLoren Salvent's contortions but that Johnny Cash will still be appreciated.

 

Not just because Cash's version is better or more musical (opinion), but because "John Henry" is deep Americana. It's folk. It was written in an acoustic mould. It's been sung by many all over the world. It is known culturally in this way. That is more likely to be its trajectory. You can't separate art from culture. Culture carries art. Culture carries much more besides. This is what makes things "appropriate", and nations invest in the Arts accordingly. None of this subtracts from the first principle that appreciation is subjective, and nothing is right or wrong - in the dimension of music anyway. Nobody legislates this. Not even the Taliban. Governments may try. But Governments never last long enough to colour grass roots anything other than green.

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7 hours ago, kumakuma said:

 

Just heard for the first time. Certainly a different take on the song.

 

 

 

Here's another good one by the man in black

 

 

His "American" albums produced by Rick Rubin are a treasure trove of awesome covers, like this Springsteen song:

 

 

"Where the road is dark and the seed is sowed
Where the gun is cocked and the bullet's cold
Where the miles are marked in the blood and gold
I'll meet you further on up the road

Got on my dead man's suit and my smilin' skull ring
My lucky graveyard boots and song to sing
I got a song to sing, keep me out of the cold
And I'll meet you further on up the road."

 

 

Or "Bridge over troubled water" 

 

 

Then again, this is just my opinion. There are some artists for which its hard not to like anything they do.

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This business about and emotion and authenticity vs. technical prowess and performance. I find it a Genre thing as much as anything else.

 

Take “I’d Rather Go Blind” – first released by Etta James in 1967.

 

Obviously a powerful idea in itself. “I’d rather be deprived permanently of my eyesight than to see you with another guy/gal.” You’d hardly dare to jinx such misfortune on yourself unless, at one time at least, you had felt truly, truly desperate – desperate enough to *actually wish it* - as one who has experienced such agony as tragic personal reality/emotional displacement.

 

Now you have or you haven’t. Probably some people do and some people don’t.

 

If you haven’t – you cannot deliver this song authentically. You can deliver it technically. You may be fantastically gifted. Fantastically expert and adept. You may know great sound engineers. You may be able to construct the mother of all audiophile recordings. But in the end you are delivering nothing more than a performance.

 

Someone who has the T-shirt can do better. They can deliver a *vicarious emotional and biographic experience*. The technical credentials of that delivery may be high or low. But the fruit is something qualitatively different. Of course, a gifted person with a blazing T-shirt has most to offer.

 

What are we audio buffs doing when we listen to music? What do we spend our money on? How do we dispose of our precious remaining days?

 

Horses for courses. I am in the “vicarious experience “ camp. I can puff myself up and say I listen for authenticity. Which is true. But I am a “vicarious” monkey because of my human weakness too. People stronger than me are better musicians, better performers – even better listeners for all I know.

 

I can only share what I experience.

 

When I listen to Etta’s studio recording of “I’d Rather Go Blind”, I do not hear agony. By all accounts Etta has a co-writing credit, and she was a heroin addict. Of themselves, those facts are convincing enough. But the performance is not. To my ears, her delivery sounds theoretical. Etta is an accomplished Jazz artist.

 

The opening bars of Chicken Shack’s (1969) version (voc. Christine Perfect) draw me in immediately. Fascinating - you don’t even need human voice to be convinced by music with an attendant idea. I’d rather listen to Christine than Etta. I don’t hear agony in Christine’s voice particularly either. But she does sound more “human” to me. Here we are firmly in the Blues tradition.

 

Rod Stewart’s 1972 version is pretty good. I like it. I expect Rod has had his share of heartbreaks. I’d give this version a pass. Rod has a soaring, growling voice anyway. Maybe it’s just not difficult for him to pull passion out of his boots. And he always has great musicians around him. But in the end – it’s just a Pop song.

 

On a human level I find that Ruby Turner’s Soul vocal from 1986 is more convincing than any of the foregoing. But the octane rating of the whole is not high enough for my personal Jukebox.

 

Here’s Etta Live. No year. But we can assume much water under the bridge since 1967. I don’t think I’d argue with her after this delivery. By this time - listen to her own intro - she’s calling it a “Country & Western” song.

 

 

I confess I don’t listen to much of it – but I don’t think Modern and Contemporary Jazz are “tuned” to agony. They are trying to do something else. Nothing wrong with that. I guess.

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Horse's mouth: "Jazz died in 1959."

 

https://www.nola.com/entertainment_life/music/article_1c84dc11-b152-5d72-b2ab-cb53b4a391ca.html

 

"People have no real basis or philosophy that connects jazz to their everyday life," Batiste said. "Jazz has become too much of an intellectual art form that has taken all the visceral and social elements out of the music, therefore taking it philosophically out of the culture."

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50 minutes ago, Iving said:

Horse's mouth: "Jazz died in 1959."

 

https://www.nola.com/entertainment_life/music/article_1c84dc11-b152-5d72-b2ab-cb53b4a391ca.html

 

"People have no real basis or philosophy that connects jazz to their everyday life," Batiste said. "Jazz has become too much of an intellectual art form that has taken all the visceral and social elements out of the music, therefore taking it philosophically out of the culture."

 

This can also be found in classical music with atonal music. Art is sometimes very demonstrative - think of Marcel Duchamp's urinal. What can certainly be interesting and provocative (in a good sense) as a one-time "statement" becomes dull and meaningless when turned into a "movement". Some innovative ideas just become dead ends over time. 

 

 

 

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57 minutes ago, hopkins said:

think of Marcel Duchamp's urinal

 

Eeew. Point taken. Damien Hirst too. Some of DH's sculptures are great. But he has a bad attitude. I have a story about that. Anyway ... musical dead ends. Rockabilly is of its time. 1954-1962 let's just say. You can do Rockabilly now but it's not the same. Partly to do with instruments. That's why people like LP Goldtops for 50s/60s/70s vibe. That's it. It's a vibe. You can produce the vibe only for so long. Then the *culture* has moved on. *But the legacy remains.*

 

My point would be - some genres are lasting in their *influence*. The *evolutionary tree* of music. So the question here is: Will this kind of Contemporary Jazz (and atonal Classical to boot) *evolve* ...

 

... or - as you surmise - dead end themselves.

 

If I were bent to give an answer, I'd go back to the roots idea. You can't change the colour of roots. Folk will survive. Probably longer even than Classical per se. I'd back Country & Western too ;-)

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I concur with many.  Certainly lots of Nina Simone and Cassandra Wilson in there but nonetheless a gorgeous listen. Just enjoying it over a late breakfast and coffee on my kitchen system but looking forward to hearing on the main rig tonight. Sounds like a high quality recording with beautiful song writing, for sure.

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Enjoyable album, but '...of the year?' Not even close. Billie Eilish wiped the competition clean this year (and I know that probably won't be the most popular opinion around here). 

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14 hours ago, The Computer Audiophile said:
15 hours ago, shum3s said:

So Chris are you saying there is no such thing as “bad art” or “bad technique”? Everything is subjective? 

Absolutely 100%

 

The world is full of bad art. The world is full of people who can't carry a tune. 

 

If you listened to me play the guitar or sing it would immediately change your mind about no such thing as bad technique. It is not subjective

 

 

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, charlesphoto said:

Enjoyable album, but '...of the year?' Not even close. Billie Eilish wiped the competition clean this year (and I know that probably won't be the most popular opinion around here). 

I loved her first two albums. Can't get into the latest one. 

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Jose James is another that did an amazing tribute LP to Billie Holiday.

 

His music is also in this same vein., as Lady Blackbird.

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Also, in listening again, one can also bring up Abbey Lincoln (in her later years) for another unique phrasing style singer. Her early works were very impressive as well.

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