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Sean M. Kelly RSS Feed (Portland, Oregon United States)

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Penderecki: Anaklasis; Threnody; etc.
Penderecki: Anaklasis; Threnody; etc.
Price: $15.24
35 used & new from $3.49

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars genius, April 23, 2001
At long last, this member of EMI's glorious Matrix series has been re-released, and not a moment too soon.
Kryszstof Penderecki is most known for his "Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima," one of the most harrowing pieces of music ever created. Every time I have played this piece for myself or for freinds, the reaction is the same- that of abject horror. Of course, this is what he intended in his piece. The atonality adds to the disjoint nature of the piece. This reading by the Polish National orchestra is brilliant.
The rest of the pieces are not to be ignored, however. wanda Wilkomirska's reading of the ambitious "Capriccio" is awesome, showcasing her insightful approach to her playing. Also awesome is the "Song of Solomon," written for large orchestra and 16 solo voices. Wonderful.
The whole lp resonates with chilling beauty, and leaves no doubt that these are definitive recordings. We are lucky to have them among us again. Hopefully, EMI will re-release the rest of the awe-striking Matrix series in good time. This cd is a must have. Chilling to the bone. Genius.

Sweetheart of the Rodeo
Sweetheart of the Rodeo
Offered by CAC Media
Price: $32.49
59 used & new from $0.01

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars country rock starts here, April 23, 2001
This review is from: Sweetheart of the Rodeo (Audio CD)
The addition of Gram Parsons to Chris Hillman in the Byrds caused a shift in the balance of power in the band, and from it came "Sweetheart of the Rodeo," arguably the first country rock lp. This re-release is invaluable to fans of Parsons in particular, as many of the tracks that he sang on are restored to their rightful place on the lp.
The lp itself is a glorious blend of gospel, blues, folk, bluegrass, country, and rock sensibilities, that showcase the abilities of Parsons and Hillman more so than those of McGuinn. (is this why the original release featured many more McGuinn vocals on tracks that Parsons sang on? could well be..). Nevertheless, the band, though shortlived (with Kevin Kelley on drums), sounded like they had a great time in the studio, exploring what there was to be explored. The mix of McGuinn and Parsons originals with interesting covers makes this lp a great listen, as does the unreleased tracks. The band was in fine form.
Since the death of Gram Parsons, this lp has gained in importance as a landmark lp. Indeed, this is true. Country/rock started here, as did the Flying Burrito Brothers, and the final phase of the Byrds- country rockers extraordinaire. "Sweetheart of the Rodeo" in no way marked the end of an era for the Byrds- country tunes were included on all of the Byrds lps at Hillman's insistence- indeed, it is a culmination of a slow building of talents that explored all genres of music. The transition of the Byrds to all out country rockers took them a mere year or so after this release to accomplish; this is to say that the transition isn't as drastic as one might think.
"Sweetheart of the Rodeo" is a fantastic recording that needs to be studied and listened to many times to fully appreciate its overt brilliance. A monumental recording.

Live at the Fillmore West: February 1969
Live at the Fillmore West: February 1969
Offered by DAILY "Black-Friday" 4U
Price: $25.99
43 used & new from $0.92

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars credible effort, April 23, 2001
With his band in transition, as was the concept of live playing, Roger McGuinn scampered to reform the Byrds, and had a working lineup of Clarence White, John York, and Gene Parsons, who had just made the underrated "Dr. Byrds and Mr. Hyde" lp, ready to tour.
The problems with the lp are due more to the Byrds than to the lp. The fact of the matter is that with the concept of live playing dictated by lengthy Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane-esque jams, the 3-4 minute songs of the Byrds were not terribly conducive to spraweled out jams, so McGuinn was always nervous to take the Byrds on the road. The lp shows the weaknesses of the Byrds as a live unit. Of course, to be fair, McGuinn et al. were a new act in terms of the road, and what they were able to accomplish was more than credible.
McGuinn is able to shine, taking on the vocals of the recently vacated Gram Parsons, and does a great job doing so. For me, however, this lp is all about the late Clarence White. It was his hour to shine and he did so, and how! His solo on "Buckaroo" is nothing less than brilliant, as is his hillarious "Drugstore Truck Driving Man." White was clearly the star of this show!
There are technical flaws on this recording, as well- the balancing is off on quite a bit of it, and the harmony vocals of the talented John York are either deeply buried in the mix or non-existent. You can hear him at moments, so he IS performing, but the lack of his harmonies takes away from the overall effect of the vocal performances.
All in all, this lp is quite representative of a band in transition. Indeed, the live material on "Untitled/Unissued" shows a much more confident band on the road. "Fillmore '69" has great momnents on it, though, and should be sought out by avid fans of the late Clarence White, as well as the countrified Byrds. Not a stellar, but great, cd.

The Byrds Untitled
The Byrds Untitled
Price: $14.45
62 used & new from $10.50

45 of 48 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars superb, April 23, 2001
This review is from: The Byrds Untitled (Audio CD)
"Untitled" is by far my favorite Byrds lp, regardless of what era of the band it was. There are many reasons for this- mainly being that the countrified Byrds of McGuinn/White/Battin/Parsons was the most stable lineup of the band, and with it produced numbers that ROCKED harder than anything they had ever done.
Disc one opens with live material, with obligitory Dylan numbers, the country/rocked out glory of "Nashville West," showcasing the late Clarence White's amazing guitar work, and the blissful 16 minute workout of "Eight Miles High"- proving that when they were inspired, the Byrds could flex their solo muscles and go with it. The studio material offer many wonderful nuggets, such as the McGuinn classic "Chestnut Mare," the Parsons/Battin's religiously based "Yesterday's Train," Leadbelly's "Take a Whiff on Me," sung by White, and White's wonderful take on Lowell George's beautiful "Truck Stop Girl."
The beauty of a whole cd worth of unissued material is more than enough reason to get this gem of a re-release. It showcases the wonderful democracy (or as close as McGuinn would allow it to be) of the band at this point, and with it, the immense talents of all 4 members. Highlights include the studio version of McGuinn's "Lover of the Bayou," Parson's cover of Lowell George's "Willin," and White's "White's Lightning Pt.2," part of a studio jam. Also included are more live tracks including "Jesus Is Just Alright," soon to be the Doobie Brothers' breakout hit.
Many people regard this lp as the last great Byrds lp. This is debatable, of course (I feel "Farther Along" is a brilliant, if tired, effort), but what is clear is the absolute brillaince of this lineup. Their chops are in top form, and it shows throughout the 2 cds. they never sounded tighter and more at ease with themselves.
This re-issue is absolutly indispensible listening and a gem of the highest calibre.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 20, 2013 4:06 PM PDT

Hot Burritos! The Flying Burrito Bros. Anthology 1969-1972
Hot Burritos! The Flying Burrito Bros. Anthology 1969-1972
Price: $7.99
99 used & new from $4.18

13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent work, April 23, 2001
This 2 cd set is a most marvelous find for several reasons:
1). The fact that "Burrito Deluxe," the final Gram Parsons' era lp, has long been out of print. It's an interesting, if ultimately disappointing, listen. It's obvious that Gram was no longer interested in the band by this point. Indeed, he was with the Rolling Stones more during this period.
2). Even more important than "Burrito Deluxe" is the re-issuing of the "Flying Burrito Brothers" (1971), the first Rick Roberts offering. An amazingly wonderful effort that takes up most of the 2nd disc, this lp is the real gem of this set. It by itself is worth the asking price of this cd set.
3). Interesting odds and ends from 3 other lps that are out of print- "Last of the Red Hot Burritos," a live colection, "Sleepless Nights," and "Close Up the Honkey-Tonks," which features a great cameo appearance by Gene Clark.
The beauty of this collection lies in the band itself, and what competent musicians they were (and still are). It's easy to peg the Burritos as Gram Parsons with other musicians. This collection proves that Gram was just one part of the band- and the band sounded better in many cases without him than with him. Indeed, their 3rd lp is much better than "Burrito Deluxe." We see the emergence of soon to be Eagle Bernie Leadon as a wonderful guitarist, the growth of Chris Hillman, who was to a point always a country musician (even the early Byrds lps include country songs at Hillman's insistence), and the underrated Sneaky Pete. The musicianship is what made the Burritos as great as they were, and the fact that Gram Parsons was part of this band adds to its overall importance.
This 2 cd set, therefore, is of the upmost imporyance, and should be part of any reputable collection. A wonderful collection.

The Gilded Palace of Sin
The Gilded Palace of Sin
Price: $21.05
38 used & new from $7.49

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars monumental release, April 23, 2001
I had heard of Gram Parsons well before I listened to the Burritos' amazing debut lp- but I was an avid anti-country kind of person. I just did not want to know. Yet compilation tape after compilation tape I got from friends managed to include Parsons, the Burritos, "Sweetheart of the Rodeo" era Byrds, or a combination thereof. So, finally, in 1988 (I was 18), I found an old lp copy of "Guilded Palace of Sin" at the Salvation Army and bought it for 75 cents. My life has never been the same.
From the opening strumming of "Christine's Tune (Devil in Disguise)", there was this odd blend of country, folk, and fuzzed out psychedelia (Sneaky Pete's steel guitar) that immediately grabbed me and has never let go. Then there were the vocals. Along with the wonderful sense of harmony that Chris Hillman possessed, Gram Parsons was able to blend blues, folk, country, gospel, and rock in one voice- and do them all convincingly. His charisma was obvious. His love for the music undoubted. He was the focal point for much of what would become the LA country sound- Linda Ronstadt, Eagles, Emmylou Harris. They all emulated him, but could never reach his level of talent.
The songs on the lp are all top rate, in my view. The melancholy of "Sin City," the rockabilly of "Christine's Tune," the tongue in cheek anti-war bluegrass/folk tune "My Uncle," "Wheels," their tribute to motorcycles, the up-tempo "Hot Burrito #2," the satire of "Hippie Boy," complete with gospel ending. All genres of music from folk to country/rock are well represented here, with the Burritos more than able to handle of them competenetly.
The results are glorious! To find this lp at a record store will be difficult, except among indie shops who know the score. Whether as part of the great "Hot Burritos!" anthology or here, this lp should be purhcased and added to your collection with no delay. It is THAT good and THAT pivotal in that it influenced the last 30 years of music. No Burritos- no Eagles, no Emmylou, no Dwight Yoakam, none of the cross-over success that country has today. It's that cut and dry. Get this lp. Get it now.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 15, 2007 1:21 PM PDT

6 used & new from $22.40

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars brilliant debut, April 22, 2001
This review is from: First (Audio CD)
After leaving the first real lineup of Tangerine Dream ("Electronic Meditation" being their God-given toast to the world), drummer/synth guru Klaus Schulze hooked up with guitarist Manuel Gottsching and eccentric bassist Hartmut Enke to form what would become the most cosmic and powerful trio Germany ever produced- Ash Ra Tempel.
Their self-titled debut lp is simply one of the most amazing albums I have ever heard. Like future Tempel works, there would be only 2 songs on the lp- a crunching rocker called "Amboss," (German for "anvil", which perfectly describes the tune), and a more ambient synth work called "Traummaschine."
"Amboss" is indeed the anvil of God, complete with Schulze's powerful drumming, propelling the 20 minute piece to dizzying heights, Enke's understated bass holding the piece together, if barely... and then there is Gottsching's blistering guitar antics. His use of wah wah pedals, fuzz techniques, and more than several moments of uncontrolled feedback made the cosmic tune that much more cosmic. His guitar style, while much more fluid, is akin to that of Black Sabbath's Tony Iommi- that hard, crunching, fuzzed out style... the 3 men are very much in sync on this number, with Schulze disctating the pace and thrashing his drums for almost 15 of the 20 minutes of the song. The last 3 minutes are a menage of feedback, flailing drums, and riveting bass that makes the abrupt end of the track almost anti-climatic.. In concert, the 3 men allegedly played this piece for over 2 hours- and never looked at each other one time during its performance!! Now THAT'S cosmic!
"Traummaschine" foreshadows Schulze's "Irrlicht" and "Cyborg" solo lps, complete with wonderful synth and mellotron work. The piece is much more relaxed (good for the listener, who needs a break after "Amboss") and easily more cosmic in some ways- a great track to roll up a joint to and relax... At 26 minutes, it gets a bit tedious, but Gottsching's guitar keeps the flow moving. A delight.
Ash Ra Tempel would never reach these dizzying heights again, try as they may. Schulze would leave as their 2nd lp, the underrated "Schwinungen," was being worked on, then would return for "Join Inn," the original trio's final lp. Schulze to this day is the master of the moog synth, Gottsching still records under the Ashra moniker- new age synth music..and Enke?..well, no one is quite sure..his prodigious LSD intake led him to quit music and the world in all too sad but realistic account of how drugs can change a musician...
Still, this debut lp is worth finding at any cost..a powerful performance of the highest calibre.

I Am the Cosmos
I Am the Cosmos
Price: $9.99
52 used & new from $4.59

7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a gem, April 22, 2001
This review is from: I Am the Cosmos (Audio CD)
As much as Alex Chilton, it was band founder and creator Chris Bell that made the 70's cult favorites Big Star tick, with his wonderfully meaty rock hooks and somewhat angst-rideen lyrics. His contributions to their "#1 Record" were gloriously pure Brit-pop songs a la the Kinks, that were updated to fit the mold of Big Star. Alas, Bell's stay in the band would not last long, as Chilton began to assert his dominance. Big Star would be permanently altered by Bell's leaving. So would Bell.
The songs that make up Bell's amazing "I Am the Cosmos" lp are an interesting mix of the glorious and those that needed to be tweaked and polished- much like Big Star itself. Bell's post Big Star life was that of a depressed and confused man. Some have speculated that Bell's sexual orientation was of concern to him in terms of trying to be a macho Brit-pop rocker. Whatever the case, Bell was a man trying to find his own place and voice.
These songs reflect his introspective nature well, and while some are more polished than otehrs, the FEEL that the album exudes is palpable. The mix of folksy style tunes with pop tunes that are descendent of those of Badfinger or the Zombies, is balanced well. The sad part is that Bell could have made these tunes 100% gems had be had the chance to do so. Perhaps he would have re-written some of the keys so that he could lower his range some (the monotomy of his high-pitched voice wears on one over time).
Complete with the brilliant "I Don't Know," and the tasty "I Get Kinda Lost," Bell's lp is a lost gem for the ages. Alas, so is Bell, who died in a car accident. It's hard to know how far Bell would have gone in his career had he lived, but if these songs are of any indication, he would have done well, even if he remained unknown.
A brilliant gem.

Third / Sister Lovers
Third / Sister Lovers
17 used & new from $11.00

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars eerie, April 22, 2001
This review is from: Third / Sister Lovers (Audio CD)
In all fairness, to call this lp a record, no less a Big Star record, isn't quite right. The band was a mere shell of its former self by this period, ripe with internal conflicts and Alex Chilton's escallating drug abuse. Even the source of the title- Chilton and drummer Jody Stephens were dating sisters at this point- shows the odd dynamics of the band during this period.
The music more than reflects this bizarreness. Chilton's sense of drug-induced paranoia is so palpable here that it reminds me why I stopped taking drugs a few years back. It is along the lines of Neil Young's "Tonight's the Night," and Syd Barrett's "The Madcap Laughs." They plunge to the depths of absolute terror- the way-too haunting "Holocaust" is an obvious choice- yet recover enough to take on the Kinks, Jerry Lee Lewis, and standards. The results are horribly/wonderfully uneven, leaving little to the imagination as to why Chilton ultimately abandoned these songs, and Big Star with it.
Chilton would reach the pinnacle of his haze on his cult-favorite "Like Flies on Sherbert" lp. Big star never recovered- the death of founder Chris Bell made sure of that. The legacy of Big star is cemented based on their "#1 record," but Chilton's descent into the depths of drug-induced paranoia is an equally compelling legacy, for the wrong reasons. Like Barrett, Skip Spence, Arthur Lee, Roky Erickson, Sky Saxon, and Arnaldo Baptista (bassist and founder of Brazilian psychedelic cult favorites Os Mutantes), Chilton will likely be remembered as much, if not more, for his drug use than his amazing talents, and this is wrong. As Big Star regains notice and popularity, let's remember Chilton for the MUSIC- and there is plenty of gems to go around.

#1 Record / Radio City
#1 Record / Radio City
55 used & new from $2.81

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars essental gem, April 22, 2001
This review is from: #1 Record / Radio City (Audio CD)
I suppose there isn't much I can say about Big Star that hasn't already been said, but there's a reason for this- Big Star really WAS that good, and the accolades that "#1 Record" (in particular) and "Radio City" have garnered over the years have been more than warranted. In my view, "#1 Record" is the best rock lp of the 1970's. Period.
The influences- Alex Chilton's love of Memphis soul, and the late Chris Bell's love of 60's Brit-pop from the Kinks and Beatles, mainly- are written all over their music. The sound is inescapable from the moment you hear the opening guiatr chords of "Feel" to Chilton's hopefulness on "Watch the Sunrise." The mix of Chilton's ballads ("Ballad of El Goodo," the teen angst of "Thirteen," to the poignant heartwrenching "Give Me Another Chance") with Bell's crunching rockers ("Feel," "Don't Lie to Me," "When My Baby's Beside Me"), and even "The India Song," the lone contribution from bassist Andy Hummel, makes for a most delicious mix of 70's soul/roots/southern rock n roll. While "The India Song" sounds dated today, it adds to the overall strangth of this amazing debut. Indeed, few debut lps (Moby Grape's debut also falls in this category) have the overall consistent strength of "#1 record"- there are no bad songs on this album.
Chris Bell's untimely departure cemented Alex Chilton as the leader of Bell's band, and the resulting "Radio City" is a purer look at Chilton's disjointed world-view, which would become more apprent on Big Star's "Third/Sister Lovers" lp and climaxing on his cult favorite- the eerie "Like Flies on Sherbert." Still, the oft-covered "September Gurls" shows that Chilton, Hummel, and drummer Jody Stephens had the rock n roll goods and could deliver the knockout blow. "O My Soul" shows the Bell-less Big Star at their best-a frenzied hodgepodge of influences that is pure Chilton. While not as universally regarded as "#1 Record," "Radio City" is a better lp than many released during its time period.
The influence of Big Star is broad and far reaching-the db's, Pylon, R.E.M.(and most of the Athens based garage sound of the early 80's), the Replacements (complete with their wonderful single "Alex Chilton"), Teenage Fanclub, and on it goes. Without Big Star, the "alternative" movement of the 80's likely would not have been as melodic as it was. It's easy to conclude that with the Velvet Underground, Big Star clearly falls in the pantheon of most influental band that you likely do not know. Here is your chance to experience the greatest band of the 1970's up close and personal. Big star WAS the best band of the 1970's (certainly from America- I believe Badfinger also falls in this category). Find out why.

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