Thursday, March 8, 2007

Another A,B,C...

An die Musik ~ Timeless Tales & Music of Our Time (w/Dr. Ruth Westheimer)
Here we have one of several very strange entries in the collection. Classically oriented musical interpretations of two children's stories with narration by Dr. Ruth. Yes, that Dr. Ruth. Little Red Riding Hood and Goldilocks. Very Strange. How or why this disc is in my collection is somewhat of a mystery, although I'd wager a bet that I got it while at 'RIU. The music is very predictable in a "this is what's happening" way. The words have bizarre modern flourishes here and there. For example, Red is bringing her grandmother "Plain, poppy, and sesame seed bagels and macadamia nut cookies that mother made." Not exactly a top ten hit, but something I think I'll reserve for those late night after hours parties when everyone's seven or eight sheets to the wind.

Birdsongs of the Mesozoic ~ faultline
Ah, Birdsongs. Electronic, acoustic, classical, rock, jazz, etc... I hardly have words to describe this amazing band. Anyone with even a passing interest in electronic music and/or 20th century composition should look into this group. I've had the fortune to see them live two and a half times (don't ask about the half) and the sheer power of this music is overwhelming live. The clip below will give you a much better idea about them than I ever could.

My only regret is that I only have one album by them.

And now for something a little more 'normal.'

Holly Cole ~ Temptation
On this album from 1995, the Holly Cole Trio (H.C., vocals; Aaron Davis, piano; David Piltch, bass) pays tribute to none other than Tom Waits. Personally, I've always enjoyed hearing the signiture growl of Mr. Waits' lyrics re-worked with smooth female vocals. If fact I'll even say I prefer hearing a woman cover Tom. I guess it's just more 'different' than a man could ever achieve. Certain lyrics take on new meaning when sung by a woman. For example in Jersey Girl, and Invitation To The Blues the perspective switches from the observer to the observed. Some songs (Take Me Home & Little Boy Blue, both from One From The Heart) were written for a female to sing. A song like Soldiers Things, while making sense sung from either perspective, takes on a new level of sadness in the female voice. Holly's interpretation of I Want You makes it sound as if it came out of the Great American Songbook. Perhaps the one song that gets the most radical re-working is I Don't Wanna Grow Up. In the original Tom, at that point in his early forties, sounds like a petulant child. In the much slowed down version by Holly, then in her early thirties, she sounds like a tired old soul full of regret.

Over-all a fine effort. Some truly stand out interpretations, and no noticeable duds (a remarkable feat for any cover album.) I wouldn't say that any of these tracks outshine their originals, but they each offer a unique take on some really wonderful music.