Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Crate diggin' part one - some finds from the local used record bins:

Terje Rypdal - Whenever I Seem to Be Far Away (ECM, 1974) This album mixes prog-rock and fusion and some symphonic bombast to get a distinctly European sound. The title track puts guitarist Rypdal in front of a full orchestra which turns out to be a little dull in its stuffy seriousness. The other two tracks, "Silver Bird is Heading for the Sun" and "The Hunt" fare much better, with Rypdal's electric guitar complemented by electric piano, mellotron and french horn for music that falls in between In a Silent Way era Miles Davis and early King Crimson.

Muddy Waters - After the Rain (Chess, 1969) Some things just really shouldn't be messed with. In the late 60's Marshall Chess thought the classic sound of Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf could use a little updating, so he recorded them struggling against a wall of hyperactive rock guitars blasting away with little notion of subtlety. The great man is in fine voice (when you can hear him) and makes a game effort, managing to save the standard "Rollin' and Tumblin'" while everything else sinks into an abysmal mess of bad ideas (including the awful cover art). It's a shame to see a great musician trampled by a meglo-maniac producer, but Muddy would redeem himself with several wonderful albums in the traditional blues vein he pioneered during the mid-70's on the Blue Sky label.

Jimi Hendrix - Jimi Plays Monterey (Reprise, 1986) This is a recording of Hendrix's explosive performance from the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967. I used to have this on tape a long time ago and it was a favorite, but since I thought I had reached my Hendrix saturation point, it was a pleasant reminder of how potent his music could be. The songs are quite tight with no extraneous jamming. The setlist mixes some well chosen covers (Dylan, Howlin' Wolf) with originals from Are You Experienced? It's good to have this back in the collection again, because played at high volume, it's a wonder to behold.

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