Thursday, September 05, 2013

Music Library: Richard Youngs, Jonathan Richman, Rickie Lee Jones, Ricky Gervais, Ricky Nelson, Ride, Terry Riley, Rilo Kiley

Terry Riley

Richard Youngs - River Through Howling Sky (2004) and The Naive Shaman (2005). Youngs is a folk-electronica-avant noise guy, and these are interesting albums that land somewhere between drone and song.

Jonathan Richman - Jonathan, Te Vas A Emocionar! (2004), I'm So Confused (1998), Her Mystery Not Of High Heels And Eye Shadow (2001), Take Me To The Plaza (2004), Not So Much To Be Loved As To Love (2004), and Because Her Beauty is Raw and Wild (2008). I've covered Richman before, but I picked up Emocionar! and many of his later albums since. Of these, Her Mystery is my favorite, but they are all pretty good. Plaza is the audio portion of a live DVD.

Rickie Lee Jones - Rickie Lee Jones (1979) and Pop Pop (1991). I've had both of these albums forever. I used to like them more than I do now. The self-titled debut was an album that I liked a bunch at one point, but it just grates on me now. Sounds like jazzbo Tom Waits (who was her boyfriend at the time, I think) but without the tasty grit and with a smoother Laurel Canyon cocaine-pop band. Pop Pop is a little better.

Ricky Gervais - "Free Love On The Free Love Freeway." From The Office, natch. She's not dead.

Ricky Nelson - Rio Bravo (1959), Rick Is 21 (1961), and All My Best (rel. 1985). Little Ricky wrote and played some great songs! The Rio Bravo soundtrack has Dean Martin sing a song on his lonesome, the soundtrack version of "De Guello," and three versions of each of the attached songs, and just like the movie itself, it is shockingly enjoyable. Ricky does pretty well with his own songs, too.

Ride - Nowhere (1990) and Today Forever EP (1991). Fun and trippy band from the early days of shoegaze.

Terry Riley - Music For The Gift (1963), A Rainbow In Curved Air/Poppy Nogood And The Phantom Band (1967), In C (1968), Poppy Nogood And The Phantom Band (1968), Reed Streams-L'Infonie-In C (Mantra) (1966-70), Persian Surgery Dervishes (1971), Les Yeux Fermés/Lifespan (1972-74), Riley: The Harp Of New Albion (1986), In C (Wang Yongji and the Shanghai Film Chinese Orchestra, 1992), and Riley: The Cusp Of Magic (Kronos Quartet with Wu Man, 2008). My favorite minimalist! Riley is one of the forerunners of, well, everything. He blended Eastern music (he training in Indian classical music) with Western avant-garde sounds, experimented with tape loops in the early 60s (Music For The Gift starts with a piece of cut-up and looped Chet Baker sounds and follows with a cut-up street preacher performance), messed with synthesizers (A Rainbow In Curved Air inspired Pete Townshend to create the synth parts of "Baba O'Riley," with the O'Riley part referring to Terry), and then invented the variable composition In C. In C, the original twitter-and-pulse composition, can be played by a variable number of musicians for a variable amount of time. I have five different versions in my collection and they all sound vastly different while maintaining the sameness that marks it as a singular composition. The 1968 version here is the original recording, about 42 minutes in length at 132 beats per minute. The two versions of Poppy Nogood that I have, one as the B-side to Rainbow In Curved Air and one as a standalone, are taken from the same performance, although the standalone version is significantly longer. Reed Streams consists of two organ-based loops with pulsing and twittering and this issue was kind enough to add L'Infonie's amazing anarchic version of "In C," which is my favorite one. Persian Surgery Dervishes is live organ-based performances. Les Yeux Fermés/Lifespan consists of a number of tracks recorded for movies, and it is my least-favorite of these albums. The Harp of New Albion is a piano-based composition from the 80s which is pretty great, hinting at Windham Hill new agey stuff in its quieter moments, but being much too trippy and anarchic for anything from that label. The Wang Yongji version of In C is okay, but the attached compositions from Liang David Mingyue are much less fun. Kronos Quartet's The Cusp of Magic, which Riley wrote for them, is sublime. I have reviewed other versions of In C and Riley's collaboration with John Cale elsewhere on this blog.

Rilo Kiley - The Initial Friend (1999), The Execution Of All Things (2002), and More Adventurous (2004). Fronted by former child actors Jenny Lewis and Blake Sennett, Rilo Kiley was an indie rock band that flirted with alt-country and Laurel Canyon rock. The Initial Friend is pretty good, Execution is so-so with a few great songs, and Adventurous kind of a bust, albeit again with a couple of great songs.


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