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Robert Baird Posted: Dec 01, 2011 1 comments
Bill Frisell All We Are Saying . . .
Bill Frisell, guitar; Jenny Scheinman, violin; Greg Leisz, pedal steel guitar; Tony Scherr, bass; Kenny Wollesen, drums
Savoy Jazz SVY17836 (CD). 2011. Lee Townsend, prod.; Adam Blombert, prod. asst.; Adam Munoz, eng.; Greg Calbi, mastering. AAD? TT: 68:12
Performance ****
Sonics *****

How do you escape the pressures that come with making a record of well-known John Lennon tunes, many of them from archetypal Beatles songs? Convene a quartet of longtime bandmates, each a skilled instrumentalist with whom you've played this material before—albeit not in a while—and just hang loose, let the ideas flow, and jam up beautifully recorded, feel-no-heat-from-the-classic-originals versions whose rough charms somehow seem exactly right. Oh yeah, and bring in pedal-steel wizard Greg Leisz to put an evocative, legato tang on the whole thing.

Robert Baird Posted: Nov 29, 2012 Published: Dec 01, 2012 4 comments
David Byrne & St. Vincent: Love This Giant
4AD CAD3231 (LP). 2012. David Byrne, Annie Clark, prods.; Patrick Dillett, John Congleton, asst. prods., engs.; Yuki Takahashi, Jon Altschuler, asst. engs. DDA? TT: 44:23
Performance *****
Sonics ****

The world's Web-based culture has progressed to the point that you don't need to be in the same room, or even the same general region, to be inspired by or collaborate with someone else. Ideas can fly back and forth for years across time and distance. By all accounts, the Internet played a key role in the creation of this sparkling and unexpected bit of funky world pop. This pair of wonderfully hard-to-define talents, who over a three-year gestation period seem to have found a glorious common ground for songwriting and harmonizing, has succeeded in fashioning an utterly original shard of brass-band-meets-layers-of-drum-programming, all of it overflown by the delicate voice of Annie Clark, aka St. Vincent, and the recognizable keen of the Talking Heads' former big-suited frontman, David Byrne.

Robert Baird Posted: Nov 30, 2013 Published: Dec 01, 2013 4 comments
Deadlines and the Dead don't mix. Let me explain . . .

Back when I was a cub reporter, green as ivy, I was, in retrospect, suckered into volunteering to review a Grateful Dead concert. I dutifully drove to the venue for the 8pm show, abstained from intoxicating substances, and was on track—until I realized that, after two hours, the band was still on just the third song. Jerry was deep into an epic, 2000-bar solo that was gaining rather than losing momentum. In Deadspeak, it was one of those nights.

Robert Baird Posted: Nov 25, 2014 Published: Dec 01, 2014 4 comments
James Brown: Love Power Peace: Live at the Olympia, Paris, 1971
Polydor/Sundazed 5470 (3 LPs). 2014. James Brown, prod., mix; Ron Lenhoff, eng., mix; Bob Irwin, mastering. AAA.? TT: 92:50
Performance *****
Sonics ***½

In the one scene in the new James Brown biopic, Get On Up, that's actually about his music, JB, who began his career in music as a drummer, tells his horn section to "sound like a drum." It also shows him being dictatorial and harsh, traits that contributed to his losing several bands' worth of key musicians over the years. Perched on the edge of such a precipice were the shows in Paris, at the Olympia Theatre, in March 1971, one of which was recorded by King Records.

Robert Baird Posted: Feb 02, 1998 0 comments
VARIOUS ARTISTS: Sacred Steel
Arhoolie CD450 (CD). 1997. Robert Stone, prod.; Chris Strachwitz, exec. prod. AAD? TT: 74:29
Performance *****
Sonics ****
Robert Baird Posted: Feb 05, 2001 0 comments
LOS LOBOS: El Cancionero Mas Y Mas
Warner Archives/Rhino RS 76670-2 (4 CDs). 2000. Los Lobos, Luis Torres, T Bone Burnett, Ry Cooder, Mitchell Froom, Hal Willner, others, prods.; Larry Hirsch, Tchad Blake, Bob Schaper, John Paterno, others, engs. AAD? TT: 5:01:49
Performance *****
Sonics ****
Robert Baird Posted: Feb 17, 2002 0 comments
SHELBY LYNNE: Love, Shelby
Island ISLF 15426-2 (CD). 2001. Glen Ballard, prod.; Scott Campbell, eng.; Bob Clearmountain, mix. ADD? TT: 42:19
Performance ****?
Sonics ****
Robert Baird Posted: Feb 13, 2005 1 comments
U2: How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb
Interscope B0003613-02 (CD). 2004. Steve Lillywhite, prod.; Carl Glanville, eng.; Brian Eno, Daniel Lanois, Chris Heaney, others, asst. engs. AAD? TT: 49:08
Performance ****½
Sonics ****
Robert Baird Posted: Feb 12, 2006 0 comments
NEKO CASE: Fox Confessor Brings the Flood
Anti 86777 (CD). 2006. Neko Case, Darryl Neudorf, prods.; Craig Schumacher, Chris Schultz, engs. AAD. TT: 34:55
Performance ****½
Sonics ****
Robert Baird Posted: Feb 11, 2007 0 comments
THE SHINS: Wincing the Night Away
Sub Pop SP 705 (CD). 2007. James Mercer, Joe Chiccarelli, prods.; Phil Ek, Sean Flora, Hiro Ninagawa, Brian Deck, Lars Fox, engs. AAD? TT: 41:52
Performance ****
Sonics ****

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