Musings on music, old, new, popular and obscure. Post punk, metal, hip-hop, funk, and rock in general. A music fan with a desire to lose boundaries on what should and should not be listened to writes about experience in music from a listener's perspective, hopefully unhindered by prior expectation.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Don't Waste My Time, This Is It: This Is Really Happening -- DRA, the "Abusive," "Petulant" Artist

There are artists with reptuations, and there are reputations that precede artists, and some who can be described as either--depending on who it is you happen to be speaking to. I mentioned when I spoke of Whiskeytown's Strangers Almanac that my first exposure to Ryan Adams (born David Ryan Adams, hence the common "DRA") was Elizabethtown, a movie that has been disappointing or despised in most circles for creating an alleged new stereotype or caricature of women, for being flaccid, self-important--anything to take down a director who has a following and a reputation. This isn't to say that I necessarily believe that jealousy inspired the responses, or passive-aggression, but that the nature of expectation and reputation can inflict grievous harm, as can the end results--the fact that many think that "Manic Pixie Dream Girls" originated in this movie and spread virally (in the disease sense from which "viral videos" get their name, rather than in the more cheerful sense of "viral video" itself) has not helped the movie in the times following.

I watched it at around 4am one morning, simply because it was there, I felt like watching it and it seemed possibly relevant to my lonely and melancholic mood at the time. I didn't know, when I heard "Come Pick Me Up," that it was a Ryan Adams song. I was familiar with him by name. I saw his name on Whiskeytown reissues. That was really about it. I didn't know anything else--I knew people liked him, but people like a lot of things, some things that I think are good, some I don't, some I just don't get. It was meaningless. But that song--that wasn't meaningless. I thought I ought to get the album it came from, support the artist, take a chance on the rest of it being that good. It was. "Call Me on Your Way Back Home" struck similar chords, while songs like "Amy" and "Damn, Sam (I Love a Woman That Rains)" were just...good songs. I mean, not "just good," so much as just plain good. Not especially relevant to me, but effective nonetheless.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Welcome to Hollywood, Hey Man, Can You Spare a Quarter?

Scattered in bits and pieces across the internet (including on this blog in a few places, like my purchases from Record Store Day this year, my discussion of unusual voices, and as performer of one of my favourite b-sides), my love for Leon Russell is not even close to a secret. Indeed, I've even a noticeable affection for the look he rocked throughout the 70s in particular: salt-and-pepper beard, top hat, and hair to his shoulders.

But I'm actually here to talk about something else in Leon's career, besides his "solo" work that began with 1970's Leon Russell. I do forget on occasion that Leon's come up a bit in the public conscious since Elton John began to emphatically display his love of Leon's work, enough that they released a joint album, The Union, in October, 2010. Still, the parts that jump out to me are often stranger bits, less known bits or more uncommon bits--simply because I was not given a purely singles-based method of hearing the man's work.

It all came from my father's encouragement to listen to Gimme Shelter: The Best of Leon Russell, a two-disc anthology of work only released with the man's work visibly attributed to him. In large part, this meant it covered his solo work. But that anthology is (was--it's out of print) chronologically arranged, by effective recording time, rather than release. That means the set opens with "Hello, Little Friend," from a 1971 album entitled Asylum Choir II, credited to "Leon Russell and Marc Benno." At first glance, it appears to be one of a number of duo albums Leon did (another big one would be One for the Road with Willie Nelson). However, this is actually the sequel to the comparatively obscure Look Inside the Asylum Choir, credited to, well, The Asylum Choir, released in 1968.

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