Pete York – Superblues (1994)

FrontCover1Another very fine rarity from my archive … a Blues Session with Mr. Pete “Superdrumming” York:

The Blues has been a constant force in popular music for over eighty years. Out of the early ragtime and jazz recordings of the Twenties came hit sons which were often called blues-based, and out of the Rhythm and Blues scene in the Forties came the Rock n Roll wave of the Fifties.

The explosion of British groups in the Sixties laid the foundations for a Rock scene wich is still with us today.  The musicians and singers gatheredfor “Superblues” have a thoroughbackground in all forms of the Blues. Indeed many of them played with the old mastes and absorbed the simple truths about interpreting this deceptively simple music.

I first heard the blues as interpreted by people like Louis Armstrong and Billie Holiday in a relatively sophisticated band setting, whilst my old friend Spencer Davis was absorbing the guitar songs of Leadbelly and Big Bill Broonzy. Two sides of the same coin.

Pete York

Before the formation of the hit-making Spener Davis Group we played in a tradtional band performing all of what we heard. Our versions of these classic songs came out differently because we subconsciously added other influences which we had also absorbed. Our original recording of “Dimples” was our first single and begann to sell in 1964 untill a rival record company realised they had John Lee Hookers own version to release. At least we were Number 1 in Birmingham. (Pete York, taken from the original liner notes)

So … enjoy a very special night … check the line-up … and you´ll agree when I write A night the legends cam out toplay … and to celebrate the Brith Blues and Rhthm & Blues scene on the Sixites !

Recorded live at the Zelt Music Festival in Freiburg on 19th June 1991

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Personnel:
Miller Anderson (guitst, vocals)
Tony Ashton (keyboards, vocals)
Wolfgang Dalheimer (keyboards)
Spencer Davis (guitar, vocals)
Chris Farlowe (vocals)
Bea Gebauer (vocals)
Eddie Hardin (keyboards, vocals)
Dick Morrissey (saxophone)
Gary Twigg (bass)
Harvey Weston (bass)
Roy Williams (trombone)
Pete York (drums, vocals)

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Tracklist:
01. High Heel Sneakers (Higginbotham) 6.30
02. Flip, Flop And Fly (Turner/Calhoun) 6.46
03. Parchman Farm (Allison) 5.44
04. Lover Man (Davis/Sherman/Ramirez) 5.04
05. Dimples (Bracken/Hooker) 3.00
06. Born Again (Davis/Dean) / Get Back (Lennon/McCartney) 7.35
07. Ain’t No Love (In The Heart Of The City) (Walsh/Price) 8.00
08. Never Too Old To Rock (East/Jupp) 6.31
09. Resurrection Shuffle (Ashton) 10.35
10. Out Of Time (Jagger/Richards) 5.34
11. Johnny B. Goode (Berry) 4.5362

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More Pete York:
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London Classical Players (Roger Norrington) – Mozart- Symphonies 39 & 41 (1991)

FrontCover1Sir Roger Arthur Carver Norrington CBE (born 16 March 1934) is a British conductor. He is the son of Sir Arthur Norrington and his brother is Humphrey Thomas Norrington.

Norrington studied at The Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto, Dragon School, Oxford, Westminster School, Clare College, Cambridge and the Royal College of Music under Adrian Boult among others. Norrington played the violin, and worked as a tenor through the 1960s, and in 1962 founded the Schütz Choir (later the Schütz Choir of London).
Conductor in Britain and US

From 1969 to 1984, Norrington was music director of Kent Opera. In 1978, he founded the London Classical Players and remained their musical director until 1997. From 1985 to 1989, he was principal conductor of the Bournemouth Sinfonietta. He is also president of the Oxford Bach Choir. In the US, from 1990 to 1994, he was music director of the Orchestra of St. Luke’s.

With his wife, the choreographer Kay Lawrence, he formed in 1984 the Early Opera Project to complement his concert work in period-style opera, beginning with Claudio Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo at the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino that year, and touring Britain in 1986.

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In Europe, he was principal conductor of the Camerata Salzburg from 1997 to 2006, and principal conductor of the Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra from 1998 to 2011.[2] On 28 July 2016, he conducted the final concert of the Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra in London at the Royal Albert Hall as part of The Proms, before its scheduled merger with the SWR Sinfonieorchester Baden-Baden und Freiburg.

He was artistic advisor of the Boston Handel and Haydn Society from 2006 to 2009. He was principal guest conductor of the Orchestre de chambre de Paris and the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen. He was principal conductor of the Zurich Chamber Orchestra from 2011 to 2016. He has conducted over 50 world premieres, and has appeared regularly with the Berlin Philharmonic, the Vienna Philharmonic, and major orchestras throughout the world.

Norrington is best known for historically informed performances of Baroque, Classical and Romantic music. He is a member of the historically informed performance movement. Norrington has advocated a limited or no use of vibrato in orchestral performances, which has brought him both positive and adverse criticism. He has strictly followed Beethoven’s original metronome markings in his symphonies, despite critical comment that these markings were “miscalculated”.

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He has conducted recordings of Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Berlioz, Brahms, Tchaikovsky, Dvorak, Bruckner, and Mahler on period and modern instruments. In particular, Norrington makes very sparse use of the vibrato, often uses very fast tempos, and varies the placement of the instruments on stage. Especially with the Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra Norrington has developed a very individual sound, which is often dubbed by the trade press as Stuttgart Sound. This refers to the synthesis of historically informed music making with the means of a modern and flexible orchestra. Symphonic cycles which Norrington interpreted in recent years with the Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra have received worldwide acclaim. However, Norrington’s performance practice is not without critics among other musicians; for example, the violist of the Melos Quartet, Hermann Voss, drew two tough caricatures to Norrington’s vibrato-free string sound in 2005, adding: “Except for the Stuttgart Feuilleton, the New Stuttgart Style finds only contempt and scorn.”

In August 2008, Norrington appeared in the reality TV talent show-themed television series, Maestro on BBC Two, when he led the judging panel. He conducted the First Night of the Proms in 2006 and the Last Night of The Proms on 13 September 2008.

Norrington has been married twice. He and his second wife, Kay Lawrence, have a son, Tom.

He was appointed OBE in 1980, CBE in 1990 and Knight Bachelor in 1997. He is a patron of Bampton Classical Opera and the Orchestra of St Paul’s. He is an honorary fellow of Clare College Cambridge and holds honorary degrees from the Universities of York and Kent and an honorary doctorate from the Royal College of Music.

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The London Classical Players (LCP) was a British orchestra that specialized in music following historically informed performance (HIP) practices and orchestral performances on period musical instruments. Sir Roger Norrington founded the LCP in 1978. From 1978 to 1992, the concertmaster of the London Classical Players was baroque violinist John Holloway. The LCP made a variety of recordings for EMI Classics. Many of the players in the LCP overlapped with four other major HIP orchestral ensembles, the Academy of Ancient Music, the English Concert, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, and the English Baroque Soloists.

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Among their famous concert series was “The Beethoven Experience” in 1987,[3] and “The Berlioz Experience” in 1988. In 1996, the LCP was invited to open the Prague Spring Festival in the traditional opening festival concert of Bedrich Smetana’s Ma Vlast, a controversial decision at the time.

In 1997, the LCP formally dissolved as an organization, and its work was absorbed into the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. (by wikipedia)

And here are two really nice Mozart Symphonies:

The Symphony No. 39 is the first of a set of three (his last symphonies) that Mozart composed in rapid succession during the summer of 1788. No. 40 was completed on 25 July and No. 41 on 10 August. Nikolaus Harnoncourt argues that Mozart composed the three symphonies as a unified work, pointing, among other things, to the fact that the Symphony No. 39 has a grand introduction (in the manner of an overture) but no coda.

Around the time that he composed the three symphonies, Mozart was writing his piano trios in E major and C major (K. 542 and K. 548), his sonata facile (K. 545), and a violin Mozart01sonatina (K. 547). Mozart biographer Alfred Einstein has suggested that Mozart took Michael Haydn’s Symphony No. 26, in the same key, as a model.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart completed his Symphony No. 41 in C major, K. 551, on 10 August 1788. The longest and last symphony that he composed, it is regarded by many critics as among the greatest symphonies in classical music.

The work is nicknamed the Jupiter Symphony, the name showing that for people of the time, this was a really big work, in all senses. This name stems not from Mozart but rather was likely coined by the impresario Johann Peter Salomon.

It is not known whether Symphony No. 41 was ever performed in the composer’s lifetime. According to Otto Erich Deutsch, around this time Mozart was preparing to hold a series of “Concerts in the Casino” in a new casino in the Spiegelgasse owned by Philipp Otto. Mozart even sent a pair of tickets for this series to his friend Michael Puchberg. But it seems impossible to determine whether the concert series was held, or was cancelled for lack of interest (by wikpedia)

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Personnel:
London Classical Players conducteted by Roger Norrington

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Tracklist:

Symphony No. 39 In E Flat, K.543:
01. Adagio – Allegro 9.51
02. Andante Con Moto 6.43
03. Menuetto (Allegretto) & Trio 4.18
04. Finale: Allegro 8.18

Symphony No. 41 In C, K.551, “Jupiter”:
05. Allegro Vivace 11.18
06. Andante Cantabile 8.31
07. Menuetto (Allegretto) & Trio 5.14
08. IV. Finale: Molto Allegro 11.48

Composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

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Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (27 January 1756 – 5 December 1791)

Huey Lewis & The News – Hard At Play (1991)

FrontCover1Hard at Play is the sixth album by American rock band Huey Lewis and the News. It was released in 1991 on EMI for most of the world and Chrysalis in the UK. Hard at Play peaked at number 27 on the Billboard 200 pop albums chart and produced two Top 40 singles, “Couple Days Off” and “It Hit Me Like a Hammer”. Music videos were released for “It Hit Me like a Hammer”, “Couple Days Off”, and “He Don’t Know”. (by wikipedia)

As the title indicates, Hard at Play is a return to the straight-ahead blues-inflected pop/rock that made Huey Lewis and the News superstars in the early ’80s. While the material wasn’t as consistently strong as Sports or Picture This, the band rocked with a renewed vigor and a handful of songs, including the anthemic hit “Couple Days Off,” were as catchy as their older hits. (by Stephen Thomas Erlewine)

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One of the great records of the band. rock n roll high school from the first nineties to the top. The unmistakable voice and sharper than ever of the singer. A disc forgotten and little considered globally. (by Edgardo Gregorini)

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Probably not the best collection of News songs but certainly a good effort nonetheless. Hard hitting singles “It hit Me Like A Hammer” and “Couple Days Off” may not have achieved the success of previous efforts. However, it must have shocked those who remember Huey for “If This Is It” and “Stuck With You”. Yes, the News can rock!
There’s a bit of everything on this album. “Best Of Me” is more akin to “Stuck With You” whilst “Time Ain’t Money” harks back to the likes of “Whole Lotta Lovin'”. In between there’s some solid catchy AOR numbers such as “Attitude”, “Don’t Look Back” and “Do You Love Me, Or What?” (UKDave)

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Personnel:
Mario Cipollina (bass)
Johnny Colla (guitar, saxophone, background vocals)
Bill Gibson (drums, percussion, background vocals)
Chris Hayes (guitar, background vocals)
Chris Hayes (guitar, background vocals)
Sean Hopper (keyboards, background vocals)
Huey Lewis (vocals, harmonica)
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John McFee (guitar)
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background vocals:
Mike Duke – David Fredericks – Gospel Hummingbirds

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Tracklist:
01. Build Me Up (Colla/Lewis) 4.28
02. It Hit Me Like A Hammer (Lange/Lewis) 4.02
03. Attitude (Carl) 4.01
04. He Don’t Know (Covay/J.Tiven/S.Tiven) 4.16
05. Couple Days Off (Hayes/Lewis/Palmer) 4.56
06. That’s Not Me (Ruff) 4.16
07. We Should Be Making Love (Goldmark/Kipner/Lindsey) 4.03
08. Best Of Me (B.Hayes/K.Hayes/Stocking) 3.59
09. Do You Love Me, Or What? (C. Hayes/Lewis/Lowe) 3.47
10. Don’t Look Back (Lewis/Gibson/Fredericks) 3.45
11. Time Ain’t Money (Colla/Lewis) 4.46

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Various Artists – The Jimi Hendrix Tribute Concert – Live At Rockpalast 1991 (2019)

BookletFrontCover1It was the idea of Peter Bursch, the guitar teacher of the nation and bandleader of the Krautrock legend Bröselmaschine, 20 years after the death of Jimi Hendrix, to assemble an illustrious crowd of hip musicians and organize a Rockpalast Tribute concert in 1991. Rockpalast mastermind Peter Rüchel and director Christian Wagner were quick to get enthusiastic about this idea. Through his personal contacts Peter was able to find some really competent musicians who were willing to deal with this idea. So an All Star Band was formed from very different exceptional musicians like Uli Jon Roth (Scorpions), who also took over the musical direction of this project, Jack Bruce (Cream, West, Bruce and Laing), John Wetton (King Crimson, Roxy Music, Uriah Heep, UK, Asia etc.), Simon Phillips (The Who, Toto, Asia etc.) and many others.

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The idea to present the Hendrix songs with very different singers was especially appealing. Unfortunately Peter Rüchel’s favourite candidate Gianna Nannini had to cancel at short notice. Nevertheless, with Jule Neigel, Michael Flexig, Jack Bruce, John Wetton, as well as the background singers Nadja Ollig and Jane Palmer, a number of extraordinary singers were available. Finally Peter Rüchel was able to convince the hottest Jimi Hendix cover band around Randy Hansen to participate. This concert is the Rockpalast recording that has been most repeated on German television in recent years. (Promo text)

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What a night, what powr, such ar great All Star Band … dedicated to one of the most important musician in the history of muic: Jimi Hendrix.

Probably the best tribute concert ever !

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Personnel:

Randy Hansen Band:
Francoise Garmy (bass)
Randy Hansen (guitar, vocals)
Herbie Quick (rums)

All Star Band:
Jack Bruce (bass, vocals)
Peter Bursch (guitar)
Michael Flexig (vocals)
Oliver Hennlich (keyboards)
Jule Neigel (vocals)
Manni Neumann (violin)
Nadjy Ollig (vocals)
Jane Palmer (vocals)
Simon Phillips (drums)
Uli Jon Roth (guitar)
Zeno Roth (guitar)
Tobias Stachelhaus (vocals)
John Wetton (bass, vocals)

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Tracklist:

CD 1:

Randy Hansen Band:
01. Hey Joe 5.52
02. Stone Free 3.45
03. I Don’t Live Today 2.26
04. Steppin’ Stone 4.22

All Star Band:
05. Gypsy Eyes 4.44
06. If Six Was Nine 2.51
07. Spanish Castles Magic 4.25
08. One Rainy Wish 5.09
09. The Wind Cries Mary 4.10
10. Burning Of The Midnight Lamp 4.34
11. All Along The Watchtower 2.27
12. House Burning Down 5.09
13. Electric Ladyland 1.36
14. Castles Made Of Sand 3.13
15. Little Wing 3.25
16. AxisBold As Love 5.16

CD 2:

All Star Band:
01. Voodoo Child 5.46
02. Third Stone From The Sun 6.18
03. Crosstown Traffic 3.10
04. In From The Storm 3.40
05. Who Knows 8.19
06. Message Of Love 5.55
07. Hey Baby 5.49
08. Angel 7.00
09. Purple Haze 4.21
10. Atlantis 3.43

All songs written by Jimi Hendrix,
except “Hey Joe” which was written by Billy Roberts
and “All Along The Watchtower” which was written by Bob Dylan

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Crash Test Dummies – The Ghosts That Haunt Me (1991)

FrontCover1.jpgThe Ghosts That Haunt Me is the 1991 debut album by the Canadian folk rock group Crash Test Dummies. It featured their hit “Superman’s Song”.

The artwork featured on the cover, and throughout the liner notes, is by 19th-century illustrator Gustav Doré and is from ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’ by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. The same painting would later be used for black metal band Judas Iscariot’s final album To Embrace the Corpses Bleeding in 2002.

The artworks on the booklet of the album are by 19th-century illustrator Gustav Doré and are from ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’ by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, except “The Flying Man” by French novelist Nicolas Edme Restif de la Bretonne and is from ‘The Discovery of the Austral Continent by a Flying Man’, 1781. (by wikipedia)

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My introduction to Crash Test Dummies came on June 12, 1994 when I saw them open for Elvis Costello on his Brutal Youth tour. The extent of their exposure at that time was their sole hit, “Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm,” and, to a far lesser extent, “Superman’s Song” off of their debut album, The Ghosts That Haunt Me, which was released on this date, April 5, 1991.

Since then, Crash Test Dummies have become a bit of a cult-following type of outfit and I often feel that I’m a cult of one, since I talk to few people who recall them at all (oh, that “Mmm Mmm” song…), much less count themselves among fans. And at this point, even the term “band” is a bit inaccurate, as Brad Roberts is the sole remaining member of a group that debuted 26 years ago. But let’s back up.

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Out of Winnipeg, Manitoba, CTD introduced themselves with a college radio-friendly folk-rock number, the aforementioned “Superman’s Song,” a reflection on the lack of humanity in modern-day society (the video plays it as an elegy for Superman, with fellow supers attending the funeral). The song starts with a solo cello intro and flows into a piano-and-strings arrangement that is unlike most of their work. As such, it’s an odd choice for a lead-off single, since it doesn’t give a real feel for the album – or, indeed, the band’s work overall. Ellen Reid (the last member to remain with Brad Roberts as a Crash Test Dummy until she unofficially retired in the new millennium) provides the piano and harmonizing backing vocals. It’s a great song, just not like any other in their oeuvre.

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Overall, the album is more upbeat than its lead single, at times featuring a bit of a Celtic lilt to the music, courtesy of Ellen Reid and Benjamin Darvill. Though the lyrics on the record are more straightforward and less idiosyncratic than they would become on future releases, songs like “Comin’ Back Soon” hint at some of Brad’s whimsy with lines like, “I’ve all my wisdom teeth / Two up top and two beneath / And yet I recognize / My mouth says things that aren’t so wise…” The song goes on to sing the praises of his sweetheart, who has left him, and who wasn’t a very nice person to begin with.

Much of the album has a bucolic tilt to it, with tracks like “Here On Earth,” and, even more particularly, “The Country Life” extolling folksy wisdom and downhome sensibilities, crying the benefits of rural living over the sturm und drang of city life. “I would learn to ride on rodeo / I’ll wear shiny boots and a cowboy hat so that nobody’d ever know / We’d once been city folks who owned sporty cars and fancy homes…” The way he sings it and the accompanying music convince me he really believes it.

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The Ghosts That Haunt Me is the most traditional album that the Dummies ever made. There’s nothing kitsch or overtly clever about it. Brad is just singing, and while his voice is richly baritone and utterly unmistakable, he isn’t forcing the depth and rumble that would characterize later albums. He wrote all of the songs on the album (with the exception of a cover of The Replacements‘ “Androgynous” and “Thick-Necked Man,” Ben Darvill’s tale of comeuppance) but he wrote them without guile or condescension, something that wouldn’t necessarily hold true on future releases.

I’ve been a big fan of Crash Test Dummies since I first saw them live (I went out the next day and bought both of the albums that were out at the time) though I can certainly understand why the appeal might not be universal. Too, it doesn’t really help that their breakthrough hit (and, thusly, one-hit wonder) was so off-kilter. I remember the first time I saw them and Brad changed the third verse of “Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm” to something about a kid keeping a tooth or tonsils in a jar. After the song ended, he said (and I’m paraphrasing), “I’ve been told it’s ill-advised to change up a verse in your one big hit, but then I’ve also been told that it’s ill-advised to release a single with no words in the title.”

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That mentality, it seems to me, has sort of characterized the Brad Roberts approach. Every album takes on a different musical style – folk followed by pop followed by hard rock followed by electronica followed by country followed by… you get the picture. It hasn’t helped him commercially, but as a longtime fan, I appreciate the adventurous undertaking of each new release and love the fact that, while I never know just what to expect, I know that, at the root of things, it’s going to center on Brad’s voice and lyrics. And that’s what keeps me coming back. (treacherousfriends.blog)

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Personnel:
Vince Lambert (drums)
Ellen Reid (keyboards, accordion, tin whistle, background vocals)
Brad Roberts (vocals, guitar)
Dan Roberts (bass)
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Steve Berlin (percussion)
Benjamin Darvill (mandolin, harmonica)
Bob Doige (recorder on 10.)
Greg Leisz (pedal steel-guitar on 09.)
Garth Reid (banjo on 02.)
Lynn Selwood (cello on 03.)
Bill Zulak (violin on 01., 04. + 10.)

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Tracklist:
01. Winter Song (B.Roberts) 4.01
02. Comin’ Back Soon (The Bereft Man’s Song) (B.Roberts) 4.28
03. Superman’s Song (B.Roberts) 4.31
04. The Country Life (B.Roberts) 4.02
05. Here On Earth (I’ll Have My Cake) (B.Roberts) 3.04
06. The Ghosts That Haunt Me (B.Roberts) 3.45
07. Thick-Necked Man (Darvill) 3.20
08. Androgynous (Westerberg) 2.37
09. The Voyage (B.Roberts) 3.14
10. At My Funeral (B.Roberts) 4.03

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Winter Song:

I can’t say that I miss my old dog much
And I’ve never looked back since I left home long ago
But I hoped a trip into the country
Would help remind me all the things I used to know

That’s what I came for
That’s what I hoped for

There once was good blood in the breeze here
We rode across the lake each new year
What have I remembered
What did this used to be

The ice, it used to shine upon our river
It was a mirror that the cold dark water ran way deep beneath
And here were many years of winter drownings
I kept track of these things as they were told to me

And that’s what I came for
That’s what I hoped for

There once was good blood in the breeze here
We rode across the lake each new year
What have I remembered
What did this used to be

The changes of the year were once a blessing
Well this year they’re the seasons of my discontent
But I cannot rewrite my old diaries
I can only recall all the things that came and went

Bob Dylan, Keith Richards & Friends – Something Else – Sevilla (1991)

FrontCover1.jpgGuitar Legends was a concert held over five nights, from October 15 to October 19, 1991, in Seville, Spain, with the aim of positioning the city as an entertainment destination to draw support for Expo ’92 beginning the following April.

The event featured 27 top guitarists, including Brian May, BB King, George Benson, Joe Walsh, Keith Richards, Les Paul, Robbie Robertson, Robert Cray, Roger Waters, Albert Collins, Steve Vai and Joe Satriani. The vocalists included Rickie Lee Jones, Bob Dylan and Joe Cocker.

The event was conceived by British impresario and producer Tony Hollingsworth who originally agreed to stage the concert as a co-production deal with Spanish state television RTVE. But RTVE dropped out on the day the contract was due to be signed when the director-general (and film director) Pilar Miro Romero left the company.

Later, the organisers of Expo ’92 took on the project to help overcome the problem that PosterSeville was being seen merely as a civil engineering project. They provided half the $7.2 million budget, with Hollingsworth raising the rest from television pre-sales. RTVE bought the Spanish rights, but paid by providing television and radio airtime for advertising slots. These were then sold to Coca-Cola.

Five 90-minute shows and a one-hour documentary were broadcast. Forty-five countries showed at least one live show. Later, broadcasters in 105 countries broadcast one or more programmes. (by wikipedia)

And one of the hightlights of this festival is captured on this bootleg … musicians like BobDylan, Keith Richards, Jack Bruce, Richard Thompson, Roberty Cray, Steve Cropper, Dave Edmunds an manny ore jammed togehter.

A raw, but good audience recording from this event !

Recorded live at the Guitar Legends Festival, Sevilla, Spain
Tracks 1-9 October 17 1991
Tracks 10-13 October 15 1991

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Personnel:

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Tracklist:
01. All Along The Watchtower (Dylan) 6.09
02. Boots Of Spanish Leather (Dylan) 3.21
03. Across The Borderline (Dickinson/Hiatt/Cooder) 5.15
04. Answer Me (Winkler/Rauch/Sigman) 3.25
05. Shake, Rattle & Roll (Calhoun) 3.41
06. Going Down (Nix) 5.16
07. Somethin’ Else (Sheeley/Cochran) 2.55
08. Connection (Jagger/Richards) 2.25
09. I Can’t Turn You Loose (Redding) 4.28
10. Sabre Dance (Khachaturian) 4.45
11. Standing On The Crossroads (Jupp/Edmunds) 4.03
12. Phone Booth (Cray/Cousins/Walker/Vannice) 3.53
13. Going Back Home (unknown) 4.15

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U2 – Achtung Baby (1991)

FrontCover1.jpgAchtung Baby  is the seventh studio album by Irish rock band U2. It was produced by Daniel Lanois and Brian Eno, and was released on 18 November 1991 on Island Records. Stung by criticism of their 1988 release, Rattle and Hum, U2 shifted their musical direction to incorporate influences from alternative rock, industrial music, and electronic dance music into their sound. Thematically, Achtung Baby is darker, more introspective, and at times more flippant than their previous work. The album and the subsequent multimedia-intensive Zoo TV Tour were central to the group’s 1990s reinvention, by which they abandoned their earnest public image for a more lighthearted and self-deprecating one.

Seeking inspiration from German reunification, U2 began recording Achtung Baby at Berlin’s Hansa Studios in October 1990. The sessions were fraught with conflict, as the band argued over their musical direction and the quality of their material. After tensions and slow progress nearly prompted the group to disband, they made a breakthrough with the improvised writing of the song “One”. Morale and productivity improved during subsequent recording sessions in Dublin, where the album was completed in 1991. To confound the public’s expectations of the band and their music, U2 chose the record’s facetious title and colourful multi-image sleeve.

Achtung Baby is one of U2’s most successful records; it received favourable reviews and debuted at number one on the US Billboard 200 Top Albums, while topping the charts in many other countries. Five songs were released as commercial singles, all of which were chart successes, including “One”, “Mysterious Ways”, and “The Fly”. The album has sold 18 million copies worldwide and won a Grammy Award in 1993 for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal. Achtung Baby has since been acclaimed by writers and music critics as one of the greatest albums of all time. The record was reissued in October 2011 to commemorate the 20th anniversary of its original release. (by wikipedia)

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Having spent a good part of the Eighties as one of the most iconic bands in the world, U2 hardly needs to resort to a cheekily absurd title to draw attention to its first album in three years. Then again, subtlety has never been one of the group’s virtues. In its early days and in its basic musical approach — a guitar, a few chords and the truth, to paraphrase one of Bono’s more garish assertions — U2 fell in with other young bands that cropped up in the wake of punk. But U2 immediately distinguished itself with its huge sound and an unabashed idealism rooted in spiritual aspiration. At their best, these Irishmen have proven — just as Springsteen and the Who did — that the same penchant for epic musical and verbal gestures that leads many artists to self-parody can, in more inspired hands, fuel the unforgettable fire that defines great rock & roll.

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At their worst … well, the half-live double album Rattle and Hum (1988) — the product of U2’s self-conscious infatuation with American roots music — wasn’t a full-out disaster, but it was misguided and bombastic enough to warrant concern. With Achtung Baby, U2 is once again trying to broaden its musical palette, but this time its ambitions are realized. Working with producers who have lent discipline and nuance to the group’s previous albums — Daniel Lanois oversees the entire album, with Brian Eno and Steve Lillywhite assisting on a number of songs — U2 sets out to experiment rather than pay homage. In doing so, the band is able to draw confidently and consistently on its own native strengths.

Most conspicuous among the new elements that U2 incorporates on Achtung are hip-hop-derived electronic beats. The band uses these dance-music staples on about half of the album’s twelve tracks, often layering them into guitar heavy mixes the way that many young English bands like Happy Mondays and Jesus Jones have done in recent years. “Mysterious Ways” is a standout among these songs, sporting an ebullient hook and a guitar solo in which the Edge segues from one of his signature bursts of light into an insidious funk riff.

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Elsewhere, as in the fit of distortion and feedback that opens “Who’s Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses,” Edge evokes the cacophony and electronic daring of noise bands like Sonic Youth. Indeed Edge’s boldness on Achtung is key to the album’s adventurous spirit. His plangent, minimalist guitar style — among the most distinctive and imitated in modern rock — has always made inspired use of devices like echo and reverb; his shimmering washes of color on “Until the End of the World” and soaring peals on “Even Better Than the Real Thing” and “Ultraviolet (Light My Way)” are instantly recognizable. But other tracks find the guitarist crafting harder textures and flashing a new arsenal of effects. On the first cut, “Zoo Station,” he uses his guitar as a rhythm instrument, repeating a dark, buzzing phrase that drives the beat while his more lyrical playing on the chorus enhances the melody. Similarly, “The Fly” features grinding riffs that bounce off Adam Clayton’s thick bass line and echo and embellish Larry Mullen Jr.’s drumming.

Bono’s task, then, is to lend his sensuous tenor and melodramatic romanticism to expressions that match this sonic fervor. He announces on “Zoo Station” that he’s “ready to let go/Of the steering wheel”; what follows are the most fearlessly introspective lyrics he’s written. In the past, U2’s frontman has turned out fiercely pointed social and political diatribes, but his more confessional and romantic songs, however felt, have been evasive. On Achtung, though, Bono deals more directly with his private feelings — not to mention his hormones. “The hunter will sin … for your ivory skin,” he sings on “Wild Horses,” and boasts on “Even Better Than the Real Thing” that “I’m gonna make you sing/Give me half a chance/To ride on the waves that you bring.”

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Almost as surprising, and even more affecting, are Bono’s reflections on being an artist. On “Acrobat,” over an arrangement that recalls the apocalyptic frenzy of “Bullet the Blue Sky,” he pleads for inspiration: “What are we going to do now it’s all been said?” On “The Fly” self-doubt gives way to self-indictment: “Every artist is a cannibal,” he sings in a whispered groan, “every poet is a thief.” Squarely acknowledging his own potential for hypocrisy and inadequacy, and addressing basic human weaknesses rather than the failings of society at large, Bono sounds humbler and more vulnerable than in the past. “Desperation is a tender trap,” he sings on “So Cruel.” “It gets you every time.”

That’s not to say that U2 has forsaken its faith or that Bono has abandoned his quest to find what he’s looking for. On the radiant ballad “One,” the band invests an unexceptional message — “We’re one/But we’re not the same/We get to carry each other” — with such urgency that it sounds like a revelation. Few bands can marshal such sublime power, but it’s just one of the many moments on Achtung Baby when we’re reminded why, before these guys were the butt of cynical jokes, they were rock & roll heroes — as they still are. (by Elysa Gardner)

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Personnel:
Bono (vocals, guitar)
Adam Clayton (bass)
The Edge (guitar, keyboards, vocals)
Larry Mullen Jr. (drums, percussion)
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Duchess Nell Catchpole (violin and viola on 06.)
Brian Eno (keyboards on 03., 09. + 12.)
Daniel Lanois (guitar on 01., 03. + 09., percussion on 04. + 08.)

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Tracklist:
01. Zoo Station 4.36
02. Even Better Than The Real Thing 3.41
03. One 4.36
04. Until The End Of The World 4.39
05. Who’s Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses 5.16
06. So Cruel 5.49
07. The Fly 4.29
08. Mysterious Ways 4.04
09. Tryin’ To Throw Your Arms Around the World 3.53
10. Ultraviolet (Light My Way) 5.31
11. Acrobat 4.30
12. Love Is Blindness 4.23

Music: Bono – Adam Clayton – The Edge – Larry Mullen Jr.
Lyrics: Bono

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