Monday, December 31, 2012

Nineteen/Charleston/Mescaline


Original Facebook post here.
Today's formative album replay: Seductive Reasoning by Maggie and Terre Roche. I'm so glad I sought out this obscure gem in the late '80s when someone (I don't recall who) tipped me that the Roches had a "prequel"--that deep-voiced songsmith Maggie and white-soul soprano Terre had made a secret masterpiece with Paul Simon producing and the Muscle Shoals rhythm section backing in the years before spark-plug Suzzy joined the band and rounded out the brilliant folk/novelty trio the world would later come to know.

This 1975 record is short, bittersweet, and meticulously produced--I might say over-produced if the cross-genre ambitions and compositional range of this duo (with Maggie doing pretty much all the writing and Terre the lion's share of the lead singing) didn't have ample room for all the layers and textures, including even backup vocals by the Oak Ridge Boys. Maggie's precocious, country-inflected songs are full of humor and heartbreak, along with a lot more Joni-style piano than ever made it onto later Roches records, for an effect that evokes a weirder, wackier McGarrigle Sisters.

The searing coming-of-age song "West Virginia" is a particular favorite--it's just waiting for a young cabaret-popster like Regina Spektor or Madeleine Peyroux to rescue it from obscurity with a well-timed cover.

Comments:
Carrie Yoshimura Farnham How is it possible I don't know this album? I am adding it to my list!
Rob Weinert-Kendt Carrie, because it's super hard to find. I think I found the LP only after hours of Arons Records diving...the good news it was just made available on CD again last May http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B0068WKSKQ 
Carrie Yoshimura Farnham Good news! I was putting together an Amazon list for when I get home.
Mary Kate Karr Petras Thanks for the review. I've had this (on vinyl) since the 80s, partly because of the Roches, partly because of the Paul Simon connection. I didn't give it many listens, perhaps because I missed that 3rd voice, or maybe because of the production you mentioned. I'll have to fire up the turntable and give it another spin.
Rob Weinert-Kendt Mary Kate: Start with "West Virginia" (heartrending) and "The Mountain People" (wryly funny). It's a loopy but rewarding collection, and those are two good entry points.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Nothing So Bright, Nothing So Smooth


Original Facebook post here.
Today's formative-album play-through: Rufus Wainwright. I find I can't be remotely objective about this record; as much as any piece of music, this 1998 collection upended/affirmed my entire musical aesthetic and in doing so changed my life to an extent. Its bold centerstaging of voice and piano knocked me over--harder than, say, Ben Folds had, partly because Rufus wasn't trying to make the piano rock at all and also because Rufus' ragtime/showtune/classical harmonies were so much closer to the soundtrack in my head. This record was directly responsible for a burst of unapologetically ambitious (and unapologetically retro) piano songwriting on my part; for the introduction of a piano into my band at the time, Millhouse; and, I'd have to say, for its eventual breakup. It wasn't their fault; what band could sound like the ragtime/circus/chamber/pop orchestra Jon Brion and Van Dyke Parks conjured for these songs? My efforts as a composer and songwriter since (I was never even close to Rufus as a singer) have largely been aimed at a sound as rich and rangy, if not precisely the same, as the one I heard on this record. (It's why I opened not one but both of my solo records with this song, for instance.)

Listening to it again after all these years, I'm stirred and inspired all over again by its irresistible sweep and intimacy, its naked heart and sad, coy self-deprecation. But what's most striking, again, is Rufus' mastery of time--he stops it, speeds it up, bends it, slows it to a crawl, drags single vocal notes over measures. As a result, some of the album's most arresting songs are like waking dreams, but dreams that never sag or drag, in part because they have real compositional shape but also because Brion's swirling but precise arrangements give them almost heartbreaking specificity--there are pointy marimba and horn signposts along the piano-brick road, a pulse beneath all the consumptive-deathbed drama. I'll admit that Rufus has written songs as good as these since ("Poses" may be his best single song ever), but nothing in my experience, let alone the rest of his catalog, touches the immersive quality of this amazing initial throwdown.


Comments:
Chris Coffman fantastic
Laura Burgos YES RUFUS WAINWRIGHT. A beautifully written post about a gorgeous album.
Gary Kout I got to know him with Want One. Inspires me to this day.
Laurie Woolery I love your writings on music - you've become MY Rolling Stone mag

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Sharpening Stones, Walking On Coals


Original Facebook post here.
Today's formative-album play-through: Document. Along with Murmur, this was the only R.E.M. album I liked immediately (the others took a number of plays for me to love), though on entirely different terms. This is less the ravishing, finely sculpted, impressionist Southern rock they began with than the band's opening bid for the arena, and it's as single-minded and forward-driving as the stabbing guitar notes that open the record ("The time to rise has been engaged," indeed).

But the record offers more than a clenched determination to rawk; there's also a sense of abandon, of fun, exemplified not only by the obvious "It's the End of the World" but by the tossed-off "Strange" and even "Disturbance at the Heron House." I find "Lightning Hopkins" a bridge too far, but I love that they close with the weird, sinister "Oddfellows." Clearly they intend to make a Dylanesque rock ascent, with their eccentricities intact, as much as a pop crossover (though they'll do both in the coming years).

For a variety of reasons, this was the last album of theirs I took to heart; maybe the listening curve with Green was too steep, or I just had enough R.E.M. in my bloodstream, but I've never really attended to their subsequent work (I'll get there in due time).

Comments:
Alison Heathwood McCormack When you get there I will guide you. Listen to the Unplugged version of Heron House.
 Ken Munch Love this album. "Welcome to the Occupation" is the stand out track, in my opinion. One of their very best.
David Cote This album got me through senior year in high school and sent me off to college. Its weird Southern weave and spice somehow got tangled up in the New Hampshire gothic that I was living through—and both romanticizing and desperate to escape. "King of Birds" was personal anthem for a time. Beautiful, terrifying, sad.
Rob Weinert-Kendt The line "A mean idea to call my own" jumped out at me like scripture, had to Google it to confirm it was original. I think I've underestimated Stipe as a phrase maker.
Jerry Kernion One of my all-time favorites, Rob. I believe that as time passes, Stipe will be labeled as one of the best rock poets ever. Back in the day when this album and the ones around it came out, the lyrics were mostly a mystery that was continuously argued about over a lot of beers and a pipe with water. They were always very hard to define due to the intricate phrasing and the way he used his voice as another instrument within the song. I loved him for that. Even now that you can find all of the lyrics easily spelled out for you, they still spark great discussions and allow for hours, if not days, of interpretation. "King of Birds" was also one of my favorites. It spoke to Stipes true nature of humility, that was often misinterpreted as aloofness. After all, when I saw them for the first time in a very small auditorium in Columbus, OH., Stipe would come out and introduce a song and then retreat behind a black curtain at the side of the stage to actually sing it. He was beyond stage-frightened. Hard to imagine now.
Mark Kelley This was the album when Stipe's lyrics became discernible. The albums before were like watching these lyrics becoming a photograph in darkroom solution. On "Document" pictures (lyrics) are finally visible - through your R.E.M. (rapid ear movement) naturally - you just didn't use so much of it as with their previous work; and never had to again. It was the point when they became a mainstream band. Interesting that it was approximately around the same time as when MTV really took off.
Rob Weinert-Kendt @Mark: I half-agree, but what's interesting about going back to basically every record after the aptly named MURMUR is how many lyrics are in fact quite discernible (if less than incomprehensible). It's still a long way from here to "Everybody Hurts," but everything from "Rockville" to "Driver 8" to "Fall On Me" aren't as obscure as Stipe's rep suggests. The big difference with DOCUMENT is the producer, Scott Litt, and the clear intention: to rock in the big leagues. I really do think "Finest Worksong" counts as a manifesto for the band's newfound rock ethos.
 Rob Weinert-Kendt (i meant "less than comprehensible," of course, though "less than incomprehensible" would make a great putdown, come to think of it)
 Mark Kelley All well said and not wrong in the slightest.
 Rob Weinert-Kendt More or less, yes. Never thought of the title "Document" quite that way, that's interesting. And there are still a lot surreal, inscrutable lyrics on it ( and from what little I know of their subsequent output, the trend of almost-but-not-quite-clear lyrics continued).

 

Friday, December 28, 2012

Baby Jesus Saw the Frog and Laughed


Original Facebook post here.
Today's whole-album listen-through: The Animals' Christmas by Jimmy Webb. Well, El Nino it ain't. Honestly, it's hard to recover the full affection I once had for this pop oratorio from the guy who wrote "Wichita Lineman" and "MacArthur Park." I'd been a fan of his songs for Art Garfunkel, and this seemed like an intriguing extension of that collaboration, with Art joining Christian pop star Amy Grant and a children's choir. But where I once thoroughly enjoyed its seemingly seamless blending of folk, pop, and classical sounds in the service of a mildly eccentric telling of the Nativity in which animals play key supporting roles, I now find it alternately cloying and joyous, heartening and just plain weird. The sound of the thing is most off-putting: All the high voices and harps and strings and major keys really crowd the treble end here, and it must be said that while Amy Grant's Karen Carpenter-ish soprano is entirely adequate, Art Garfunkel's smudgy choirboy falsetto is a problem. Putting his ethereal voice centerstage must have seemed inspired, but the result is roughly like putting a pan-flute at the head of a marching band; some of Webb's attempts at big climaxes don't come off because there's a cipher in the leading role, vocally speaking. That said, at its best (usually when the children's choir is featured), the album has moments of beauty and the sort of exquisite compositional taste that usually eludes other popsters' classical crossover attempts (I'm looking at you, Macca). For instance, the quietly shimmering closer, "Wild Geese," hits precisely the angelic, transcendent quality Webb reaches for elsewhere. Bottom line: I'm unlikely to spin this one a lot in future, but if one day my boys discover and love it, I won't object.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Composed to Celebrate the Memory of a Great Man


Original Facebook post here.
Today's whole-album listen-through: Beethoven's Symphony No. 3 ("Eroica"), Bruno Walter, Columbia Symphony Orchestra. I can't account for the random sampling of classical records in my parents' rather small LP collection, but this was my favorite, particularly Side 2, with that whirling dervish of a Scherzo and the tender/towering Finale. Listening again today to the whole record, I'm surprised how much I know and like of the first two movements, given how little time I spent with them relative to the last two. It's impressive how boldly LVB just throws us into the middle of things, into the midst of what sounds like a pitched harmonic battle with no clear signposts--indeed how loose and structurally naked the first movement seems, then how controlled and tempered the second movement, the funeral march, seems, then onto the release of the third and the climax of the fourth--it's striking how much this music feels of a piece, but not in any clearly mapped out way. The key word is "feels": For all its brains and craft, this music is more felt than thought--a clear marker for the Romantic era that was nascent, or dawning, or whatever. All this is best encapsulated in that amazing Scherzo, which develops a simple musical phrase with classical, fugal rigor, but hones it to a fine, piercing, triumphal sheen. It's both the gleaming tower and the earthquake that would bring it down; it's a glittering and formidable musical beast.

Comments:
Patrick Corcoran This is right, I think, and of a piece with Beethoven's withdrawal of the dedication to Napoleon. Great things, accompanied by great crimes, are the tension in Romanticism. The tension is unresolved, but enormously present, in the Eroica. The withdrawal signals Beethoven's discomfort, ambition, greatness and humanity - all present in the symphony.
David Tobocman The symphony's break from Classical form is even more striking when listen to it in context after the first two, which are fantastic but very conservative and sound like a perfect extension of Haydn.
Rob Weinert-Kendt Patrick and David, both right on. I've never tracked the Napoleonic angle very closely, but it's clear that LVB was working something out with this symphony, and listening to it, it's hard not to get swept up in the drama. And yes, it's easy to hear that chaotic first movement as a big fuck-you to classical form; those six jabbing C7 chords around measure 128 must have sounded to audiences of the time like a series of slaps to the head (they still kind of do).
David Tobocman My understanding is that all through the writing the Eroica, Beethoven's politics were very pro-Napoleon. The programmatic aspect is pro-Republic democratic principles. When Napoleon later became autocratic, Beethoven withdrew his dedication, but the contact of the symphony supposedly depicts the heroic aspects of democracy and "people power."
 

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Can You Love One?


Original Facebook post here.
Today's whole-album listen-through: Suzanne Vega. I would love to report that this 1985 debut by this soft-spoken New York bard totally holds up and affirms her place in the pantheon of latter-day neo-folk singer/songwriters. But while the songcraft is mostly strong and the mood reliably intimate, the mid-80s production really gets in the way of my enjoying the replay: the synth patches and the hollow-sounding drums, in particular. What I was able to latch onto, at least intermittently, was the subversive quietness and blankness of her voice, and her angular, harmonic-spiked guitar work. At her best here, she shows her signature talent of cloaking disturbing, often violent imagery and sexual politics in a veil of soft, cushy, inviting tuneage. "Marlene" is still the pinnacle but I did enjoy hearing the attached song as well as "Some Journey." (I feel duty-bound to add that her subsequent albums sound much better, though I also need to confess that great-sounding or not I never played any as frequently as this one; the force of this introduction was that strong, and that's worth something. Also: when I saw her live at the Celebrity Theater in Phoenix--reviewing for The Arizona Republic--I was struck by the grit and sinew of her sound, which had clearly been buffed away from this record.)

Comments:
April Rouveyrol love her
Amy Salloway Her first two albums were, and still are, part of the soundscape of my life - that's how much I've played them. Really "99.9" and "Days of Open Hand" too.
Chris Coffman Did you listen on vinyl? I have found early transfers to digital were not done well and the recordings sound very thin
Tracy Eliott That album has always been one of my favorites ...

Gary Kout Serious synchronicity across the miles between us, Rob. I just listened to that album yesterday! First time in, oh, 10 years? Either a harmonic convergence between us or my Spotify activity showed up on my FB page and gave you the idea, except it didn't.
Justin Warner love "marlene"

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Olden Times and Ancient Rhymes


Original Facebook post here.
Today's whole-album listen-through: A Charlie Brown Christmas. One of those instances in which the soundtrack surpasses the film it was made for, this record undeniably draws resonance from its childhood association with the Peanuts special, but goes so much further than that, and can be enjoyed entirely on its own, as I have since I discovered it in my freshman year in college (thanks, John Eberhardt), my first holiday season away from home (adding another layer of nostalgia, of course). Heard again with fresh ears, what impresses are not just Vince Guaraldi's cool, cocktail-jazz takes on carols, which have the added merit of sounding pretty tossed-off, or his vaguely Latin-jazz originals ("Linus & Lucy" and the driving "Christmas Is Coming"), but the wintry-warm soundscape he and his trio create: the ice-cube clatter of his piano, the floating haze of the brushed drums (or the faint sleigh-ride slap of the rims), the thrumming warmth of the bass. It doesn't just lend depth of field to the TV special's two-dimensional animation; on its own, it's a sonic winter wonderland as sophisticated or as innocent, as secular or as holy, and as melancholy or cheery as you like it to be. Like pumpkin pie, this record is good enough to have year-round, but more special for being savored seasonally.

Comments: 
Raymond Bokhour See also Ellis Marsalis and Wynton Marsalis' "Joe Cool's Blues." Lot of the same songs with, you know, a Marsalis family feel.
Chris Coffman It's a favorite. Merry Christmas
Emma Jeszke We listened to this last night!
Jamie Painter Young Listening to it now as I read your post.
David Barbour It's also amazing that music this sophisticated was conisdered just the thing for a children's holiday entertainment.
Rob Weinert-Kendt David, you're right, and I've probably sold short Chas Schultz's contribution here. Though the animated specials, including this one, fall way short of the quality of the Peanuts strip in its prime, the choice of Guaraldi is utterly consistent with Schultz's own quirky sophistication and his stubborn refusal to talk down to kids.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Waiting To Feel the Sound


Original Facebook post here.
Today's formative-album listen-through: Fragile. Yes has sweeter and flakier records (which, naturally, I have a soft spot for), but this is their tightest and rockingest effort, for a variety of reasons: the classical stuff is relegated to a few utterly charming instrumentals, the jams here have slightly more blues in them than usual, nothing outstays its welcome, Anderson's elven lyrics have a sensuous shape to them that mitigates their Middle Earth nerdiness. But above (or below) all is Chris Squier's bass, which drives both this record's sound and its construction--the music here all feels built from the bottom up, or in the case of a guitar-based piece like "Long Distance Runaround," solidly buttressed on the bottom end. There are moments on The Yes Album and Close to the Edge, even on Tormato, that are dearer to me than anything here, but as a Yes album in toto, Fragile is the sturdiest specimen.

Friday, December 21, 2012

The Ghost of Electricity


Original Facebook post here.
Today's formative-album listen-through: Blonde on Blonde. I used to perversely insist that John Wesley Harding was my favorite Dylan album; something about its monkish spareness made it seem more "pure." I'll have to revisit that record soon, but a fresh encounter with Blonde positively awed me. Here he does everything he does well as well as he's ever done it--psychedelic blues, country shuffles, tender ballads, even catchy pop hooks--but it doesn't feel crowded or overstuffed, because above all the feeling I take away from a full listen is a sense of space, of expanse, of proportion and scale. Every song seems to fit nicely into place and tee up the next one, culminating in the amazing, quiet intensity of the 11-minute "Sad Eyed Lady," a feat that is still a source of ineffable wonder. I'm prepared to call this a perfect record, in his ouevre matched only for consistency by Blood On the Tracks and Love and Theft, with a new verdict on John Wesley Harding still to come. (And by the way, thanks for lending Blonde to me, Chris Coffman! I don't think I ever returned it.)

Comments:
Matt North rob, you'll love this article...it was the cover on the nashville scene a while back Looking back on Bob Dylan's Blonde on Blonde, the record that changed Nashville
Chris Coffman rob, glad to know i helped out a bit! thank you for the reviews, please keep them coming.
Douglas Green As an avid fan of Bob and B.o.B., I have to say my only complaint about it is the overuse of the snare drum - wish they'd pulled it down in the mix a bit as it gets a bit repetitious. Beyond that, I agree with your "perfection" verdict. One question I've had for decades: any guess as to what the hell the title means?!
John Freedman Blonde on Blonde IS a perfect record. It defines perfection in this kind of music. And John Wesley Harding remains my favorite Dylan album. Another kind of perfect. That's right - Dylan can do different kinds of perfect...
Rob Weinert-Kendt Great piece, @Matt. Here's another I found (while trying to hunt down an answer to @Douglas' question): Sean Wilentz: Mystic Nights -- The Making of Blonde on Blonde in Nashville
Laurel Green John Wesley Harding is my favorite too & also love Nashville Skyline. His guitar playing is under-rated.
Rob Weinert-Kendt So gratified to see all the JWH fans come out of the woodwork. I had no idea! I thought I was just being a weirdo. I'll have to give that another spin soon.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Bibit Ille, Bibit Illa


Original Facebook post here.
Today's whole-formative-album listen-through: Carmina Burana. My youthful love for this sprawling, quirky, tuneful cantata has since been tempered by the sense that I'm supposed to have outgrown it. And yes, upon returning to it, some of the shiny, upbeat unison harmonies sound a little more Von Trapp-ish than I'd like. But I still find Orff's clattering, windy orchestrations stirring and much of his vocal writing sharp, witty, irresistible. I can understand how to some ears this sounds like so much Ren Fair kitsch, or like secular Christmas music, but, as with my love for Simon & Garfunkel's most flower-childlike sounds, I have to chalk this up to my personal taste, which was as much formed by music like this as initially attracted by it (who can untangle these?). In short, as a bit of morally suspect 20th-century primitivism, this is no Rite of Spring, but I'm keeping it in my pantheon.

Comments:
Michael Roth interesting thoughts rob, complicated thoughts about orff are understandable - if you don't know his ANTIGONE, that's worth tracking down to, quite something.
David Barbour It would be helpful if bits of it hadn't been used in 1,001 television commercials and film trailers.
Jeremy J Lee Did you hear my version in Ashland a few years back?
"Confronting Freddie" http://www.jjlee.com/ubublog/?p=177
Rob Weinert-Kendt David, know what you mean, though my path into the larger work wasn't via O Fortuna but via the dance http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OHUPjamVZC8&sns=em
Jeremy J Lee My path was from a live Ozzy Osbourne album from my wasted youth...
 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A Chainsaw Running Through a Dictionary


Original Facebook post here.
Today's played-through formative album: Elvis Costello, King of America. I had to work to love Imperial Bedroom, his other masterpiece, but this one I loved immediately, not least because it coincided with my own growing interest in folk/country/roots/Americana; I'd been hearing from E.C. about how much he loved that stuff, but here he was actually doing it (his weird, straitlaced Nashville record Almost Blue notwithstanding). What hits me all these years later is the warmth of the sound, and of his voice, even in the spikier tunes, with obvious credit due to T-Bone Burnett (who made a great solo acoustic album of his own the same year, 1986). Yes, the Animals cover is still awful, and I'm not sure the world needed to hear him unearth "Eisenhower Blues." But this record, his first solo effort and really the beginning of his post-Attractions role as a genre-hopping magpie, still towers over my musical consciousness.

Cinco Paul How could you have to work to love Imperial Bedroom??? Anyway, there's a lot of this album I love ("And I loved you there and then/It's as simple as that")...but I'd rank Trust and Get Happy above it.
Rob Weinert-Kendt I knew you would weigh in on this one, Cinco! I guess we'll continue to disagree on this. I'm a little bit country...
Dan Povenmire One of his best albums. Especially the Ryco-Rerelease with the extra tracks.
David Van Biema One of my favorite albums, and I goth say I liked "Misunderstood;" truly unhinged.
Rob Weinert-Kendt I can tolerate MISUNDERSTOOD for the first minute or so, but I think it runs out of steam and he just keeps bellowing...
Paula Donnelly In my top 5. Might have to put it on right now.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Love Blooms at Night


Original Facebook post here.
Today's played-through formative album: k.d. lang's Shadowland. This seemed a near-perfect record to me back in the day, and I still don't think she's ever topped it as a song interpreter (certainly not with her somnabulent Craig Street excursions). Recording with Patsy Cline's lightly-gentrifying producer, Owen Bradley, was an inspired choice; he got her to relax into many of these songs, something she seldom did in her entertaining but slightly manic early country days. To be honest, some of Bradley's production touches cloy now (esp. the keyboards and sax), and I don't think I ever need to hear the deadly-tasteful hoedown "Waltz Me Once Again" again. But at its best, this is the Platonic ideal of Kathryn Dawn, whose subsequent career as a songwriter I'm much more mixed on.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

I Forgot What Eight Was For


Original Facebook post here.
Today's whole-album listen-through: Violent Femmes. Probably as transgressive a record as I heard in high school until the Replacements' Let It Be, but so exuberant and infectious I didn't think twice about embracing it, and not just the familiar standards (I've always been partial to the sunny-major-key two-part harmonies of "Please Do Not Go" and "Prove My Love"). The transgression was as much in the gritty, Velvet Underground-meets-hillbilly-guitar sound as in the disturbing subject matter, and listening to it again I'm struck by how prominent that bouncing acoustic bass guitar is in the mix; it's practically the lead instrument on most of the songs. And I know they're a Midwestern band, but the twang of their sound has always sounded distinctly Western to me; no joke, I once literally had a dream that they were guests on "Hee Haw." (Can't you just see it? They could do "Jesus Walking on the Water" and "Good Feeling.")

Comment:
Kerry Reid I saw them at the old Blue Note in Columbia, MO in the fall of 1983 with a friend who was interviewing them for the campus paper. It was absolutely unlike anything I'd ever seen before.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Casting Shivering Shadows


Original Facebook post here.
Today's whole-album listen-through: Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme. I've been both laughing and crying with recognition at what was once easily my favorite S&G record. Though I long ago outgrew some of its earnest conceits and embarrassing lyrics (and that so-awful-it's-really-awful Dylan parody), I'm overjoyed to rediscover the sheer tactile pleasure of its whispering, chiming, finely etched acoustic sounds, and to feel again how deeply, irreversibly I absorbed it into my bones as an impressionable high school wannabe hippie (it explains why I responded so wholeheartedly to Fleet Foxes, I guess, not to mention Langley Schools Music Project). I can also hear in S&G's most consistently well-produced record the subtle, tasteful-to-a-fault soundscaper Simon would become in later records (One-Trick Pony, Rhythm of the Saints). Though my favorite track is "For Emily," the song above is the one that made me well up this time.

Comments:
Tony Pennino The "Silent Night" overlapping with the newscast has a lot of resonance today.
David Barbour If you ask me, Bookends is far superior.
Rob Weinert-Kendt The songcraft is undoubtedly richer, more mature on BOOKENDS--Paul clearly learned some jazz chords in the interim. He'd also heard SGT.PEPPER, though, and I feel like the efforts to make a concept album, and to play with the studio (the synth stuff, the found and documentary audio material) actually detract from BOOKENDS' impact as an album. And while the album's wintry-New-York mood is impressive, the flaky, feathers-in-hair vibe of PARSLEY is, for better or worse, just closer to my heart.