Wednesday, June 29, 2011

New music, books, etc...

I finally obtained a copy of Elvis Costello's Spectacle (Season 2). Bought it on Blu-ray since we were there at the taping of the episode where Mary Louise Parker interviewed Elvis himself. You can spot us sitting in the second row off to the right side of the stage. No closeups though! So I hurried home and popped the first disc into my Samsung Blu-ray player, which has been a fine machine, and it began to load. "Loading" it said on the screen. 5 minutes later, it was still loading. It would still be loading today if I hadn't decided to try another disc. Popped in True Grit and it began right away. So, it was something to do with Spectacle. I tried the other disc..."loading". David Byrne's new live disc played beautifully, as did the Neil Young Music-cares disc. I bought a DVD copy of Spectacle to watch, and it played with no trouble. Aha! There must be one of those firmware updates I remember reading about last Christmas when my son gave me the Blu-ray player. With a little help from my technical guru (the same son who provided the machine) I was able to download the upgrade to a USB drive and jam that into the port on the back of the player. The rest was simple, the player discovered the file on the USB and loaded it. Now Elvis and I are available in High-Def! Oh, and the shows themselves? Excellent. Jesse Winchester, Ron Sexsmith, Lyle Lovett, the Boss, Bono and the Edge, and Elvis himself...all great.
The David Byrne? Odd, geeky dancing and a hot band playing David's hits. Curiously engaging! The Neil Young? A fine tribute concert to someone who deserves it, and who has a vast catalogue so that the tribute songs don't have to sound like his greatest hits. True Grit? Well worth another viewing. I read the Charles Portis book after seeing this new version, and for all the fuss people made about how faithful the Coens were to the source material, I have to say...the John Wayne version wasn't that far off. Both films are pretty true to the original, and have chunks of dialogue lifted off the page. It seems to me, that Barry Pepper's Lucky Ned is really based on Robert Duval's interpretation of the outlaw in the first film.
J.D.Souther has a new CD. Called Natural History it is a collection of old songs (and new) redone in stripped down versions. Produced by Fred Mollin (who did a similar thing with Jimmy Webb on Ten Easy Pieces) it highlights Souther's songs and his warm voice. A bit sleepy perhaps, but just right for a quiet night at home. Eliza Gilkyson is one of my favourite songwriters and performers but I was disappointed with her new disc. The band is fine, and Eliza sings beautifully but I felt the material was a tad samey, and grew bored with the album. I'll give it another chance but I'm not hopeful.
Blackie & the Rodeo Kings' Kings & Queens finally found its way out of the starting gate. I ordered the limited edition signed version from the website, and it arrived on the last day before a postal strike stopped the mail from moving. The autographs look more like scribbles on the front cover, fortunately I have another set of signatures to compare them to, and can identify whose scribble is whose! The music though is tremendous. Each song is a duet featuring one of the Rodeo Kings with a Queen of choice. Lucinda Williams, Patti Scialfa, Rosanne Cash, Emmylou Harris, Cassandra Wilson, the list goes on. A rootsy and gorgeous hour of song.
Paul McCartney re-issued his two solo albums in regular, deluxe and super deluxe packages. McCartney is one of my favourites, coming in 1970 and recorded during the breakup of his other band, it was light and fun and showed a man who wasn't afraid to take chances. McCartney II came after the drug bust in Japan and I found it hokey (although the songs were more complex) and sloppy. I've never understood the attraction Sir Paul has for "Coming Up". Maybe it's the kazoo solos! Anyway, my opinion of these albums hasn't changed. The remastered versions sound dandy, and the bonus tracks are...a bonus. But I'm not paying $70 each for a hardcover book and a DVD I'll only watch once!
My wife took me to see ex-Beach Boy Al Jardine for Father's Day. He was playing with his son Matt's band the Surf City All Stars, and it was a fun night of surf music and rock'n'roll. Just right for listening, singing along and a bit of dancing. We didn't stick around but I understand Al and the band did a meet and greet.
Apart from reading Tana French's Faithful Place (***) and starting to dig in to John Sayles' Moment in the Sun I've just been perusing magazines. I did pickup the new James Bond book though, and am taking a break from Sayles' 900 pages for a quick action tale. Carte Blanche updates (reboots?) 007 to today, and might just work...I'll let you know.