Needed a break from work. Took a coupla days off, hung out w/ the girlfriend & watched silly movies. Also saw Michael Jackson's concert-documentary THIS IS IT, which wasn't silly at all. It was actually pretty great, & I was never even that big a fan.
The documentary shows MJ preparing 4 the series of concerts he was scheduled 2 do B4 his sudden death last summer -- & the man shown on stage in the movie is not at all the flighty-voiced reclusive weirdo we'd Cn Dpicted in the media over the past 20 yrs. Makes me wonder if the media was snowing us 4 all those yrs....
Thruout the movie, MJ is down-2-Earth, involved, sure of what he wants, committed -- very clearly THERE. He helps pick out some of the dancers 4 the show, talks over w/ his backing band how 2 get the sounds he wants. He is unfailingly direct. He was IN2 it, not at all hesitant or shy or ... odd. He was perhaps just a touch thin -- but then, he always was.
& almost all the songs sound great, even the 1's I never liked much. "Beat It" & "Thriller" both sound amazing. Even "Billie Jean" sounds pretty good, & I never liked it much. "Human Nature" was a suprise 4 me. The only songs that R weak R 2 early Jackson 5 hits, "I Want You Back" & "The Love You Save," both of which MJ takes 2 fast -- but he follows them w/ an Xcellent rendition of "I'll Be There."
& even if he's only per4ming at about 50% -- sevral times he tells the crew he's trying 2 conserve his voice 4 the real concerts -- MJ is still pretty riveting 2 watch, even tho he drops lines of songs, even tho mayB his moves Rn't quite as sharp as they 1nce were -- I couldn't tell the diffrence. It doesn't matter.
& whatta backing band he had, including an amazing guitarist & a great drummer -- & their names were all new 2 me.
I guess we're lucky the rehearsals were videotaped 4 MJ's use. The rehearsals + the Bhind-the-scenes documentaries R pretty impressive. Moving, even. U might wanna check this out, especially if U were a fan....
...Fri aft I played the 1st 4 trax on Can's 2-CD ANTHOLOGY, & liked them -- especially the rhythmic propulsiveness of most of it -- made even a spazz like me wanna get up & bounce around the room. If the collection had opened w/ "Soup" (in which I SWEAR at 1 point Michael Karoli takes a chainsaw 2 his guitar), I mighta switched the thing off & never have gotten NE farther. But Bcos the assemblers softened me up w/ the hypnotic opener "Father Cannot Yell," by the time I got 2 the chainsaw-cutting part I just laffed. I especially liked the twisted gtr & the hypnotic drumming -- so, Jaki Liebezeit got his mesmerizing drum rhythms from some forbidden voodoo ceremony? Hey, I Blieve it. & how 'bout Leon Muraglia's cheerfully perverse liner notes? (He Dscibes the pieces assembled on Can's SOUNDTRACKS as "Surprisingly whistleable and song-based." Yeah, right....)
I have yet 2 hear more than the opening of "Mushroom," or NE of "Halleluwah," "Aumgn," "Yoo Doo Right" or NE of Can's other supposed masterworks, but I'll B listening 2 more of this package SOON & I'll give U a full report here.
So far, w/ me learning about Van der Graaf Generator & now Can, 2010 is already a pretty good music year 4 me.
I'm also kicking myself, cos back in my record-store daze we had all of Can's middle-period albums available in the cutout bins 4 $3.99 or less -- FUTURE DAYS, EGE BAMYASI, SOON OVER BABALUMA. I always wanted 2 check them out. & in 1990 I remember reading a review by Dave DiMartino (I think) in the pgs of the old MUSICIAN magazine, RAVING about how great, influential & overlooked Can was. & it STILL took me 20 yrs 2 look in2 them. Why? Probly Bcos if I'd tried NE earlier I wouldn't have bn able 2 HEAR them. So far, I'm impressed.
...I can also report that Van Morrison's STILL ON TOP -- THE GREATEST HITS has probly everything by Van U'd ever wanna hear Xcept 4 "Caravan," "Cypress Avenue," "Madame George," "Almost Independence Day".... I can also report that "Jackie Wilson Said (I'm in Heaven When You Smile)," "Wild Night" & "Into the Mystic" all still sound great. & I plan 2 investigate "Listen to the Lion," "St. Dominic's Preview," "Wavelength" & others real soon now....
THE ULTIMATE PROG ROCK BOOK ... has yet 2 B written. I've read a coupla attempts at a Prog history/overview, neither of which were stunning. Now I'm trying 2 get thru Jim DeRogatis's KALEIDOSCOPE EYES, which covers summa the same ground, psychedelic & associated mind-Xpanding music from the '60s 2 the '90s.
But tho there R good things in it -- a nice overview of Krautrock, a brief tho intresting history of Can, LOTS on Brian Eno, pretty good work on XTC, Wire, Hawkwind, Incredible String Band, Love, Captain Beefheart & others -- & some revealing stuff, like a brief interview w/ Phil Collins & Tony Banks that indicates there were some rather heavy self-imposed restrictions on later Genesis & that Banks wasn't real happy w/ them or the slim chance of ever doing NEthing as adventurous as their Peter Gabriel-era work again....
Dspite this, the book is frustrating. DeRogatis's Standard Rock Critic Attitude pisses me off. Tho he devotes a lotta space 2 Beatles, Beach Boys, Pink Floyd, Syd Barrett & some other critically-acceptable oddballs, a lotta folks who qualify as psychedelic he has no use 4 -- Jefferson Airplane, Doors, Grateful Dead. Hendrix gets some space. I was also suprised 2 C Parliament/Funkadelic here.
But his attitude toward Art Rock really makes me crazy. No book on psychedelic rock can get by w/o trying 2 make some kinda sense outta Gong. DeRogatis doesn't bother. & tho I agree w/ his opinion of the 1st King Crimson album, he ignores everything else they did. Genesis, Yes, ELP, Moody Blues, Gentle Giant, Tangerine Dream & others R mentioned, but usually that's about all. His verdict: "Art Rock's legacy as a Bad Trip is ultimately well deserved."
No. If you're gonna cover the territory, U should COVER IT.
The Ultimate Prog Rock Book should include both history & reviews of the music, should try 2 cover the territory, & squeeze in as many acts as possible -- from the Moodies & Pink Floyd & King Crimson 2 Yes, Genesis, ELP, Hatfield and the North & National Health & Soft Machine & Matching Mole, 2 Kansas & Happy the Man (& possibly even Styx, & Jefferson Airplane/Starship's science-fiction chorales), David Sancious 2 Jade Warrior, Camel 2 Van der Graaf, Rare Bird 2 Nektar, Kevin Ayers & Robert Wyatt 2 Peter Hammill, 2 Os Mutantes & Wigwam, Marillion & IQ & all that newer stuff I haven't heard, like the Mars Volta. (Does Coheed & Cambria qualify? I think they do, & at least it's some kinda prog from the 2000's that I've actually heard some of.)
How 'bout Pete Townshend's rock operas & Xperiments? Absolutely. I'd rather have the category 2 open than 2 narrow. The Pretty Things' S.F. SORROW, PARACHUTE & EMOTIONS? U betcha. PET SOUNDS? Of course.
So why isn't there a book (yet) open enuf 2 cover all this stuff? There's gotta B enuf prog & weird-music fans around who'd buy an authoritative guide if 1 were available. I think the folks at the Gibraltar Encyclopedia of Progressive Rock (http://www.gepr.net/bandlist.html) could do a helluva job -- & mayB they have already & I just haven't found it yet. They've got the info & the knowledge, already 2gether in 1 space -- but U may not B able 2 haul the whole website w/ U next time U hit the used record store....
4 me, the next best thing so far is the ALL MUSIC GUIDE TO ROCK, even tho I don't agree w/ all their opinions & ratings, & even tho they have their share of errors & blank spots. They also have enuf space 2 treat off-the-wall musical acts w/ some depth. & some of the writing is pretty great.
Course the kinda book I want would probly B at least 1/2 as long as the ALL MUSIC GUIDE, & would probly havta B in the same tiny type.
But if there's something that's a close 2nd out there that y'all know about, please clue me in & I'll check it out....
Either that or I'm gonna havta write it myself. & that could B a rest-of-my-life project....