40 Odd Years
5 CD, Box Set
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40 Odd Years into an exceptionally prolific and storied career, Loudon Wainwright III is being celebrated with an aptly named career-spanning 4-CD/1-DVD box set, including a 40-page book, with an essay by renowned journalist/author David Wild and an introduction by filmmaker and box set co-producer Judd Apatow.
40 Odd Years features songs from throughout Wainwright s career, including works of brilliance such as "The Man Who Couldn t Cry" from 1973's Attempted Mustache, which Johnny Cash would record with producer Rick Rubin decades later, to the genuinely weird "Dead Skunk," which became a #16 pop hit and thus a true novelty in the Wainwright canon, to highlights from his most recent projects, including cuts from the Grammy®-winning album High Wide & Handsome: The Charlie Poole Project. The 3-hour-plus DVD includes an extremely rare documentary made for Dutch television entitled One Man Guy, numerous TV appearances (for the BBC, Saturday Night Live, Austin City Limits and others), as well as previously unreleased concert performances.
The New York-born Grammy-winning songwriter has traveled a remarkable path. Discovered by Atlantic s Nesuhi Ertegun and John Hammond, Sr., the Columbia A&R man who had already signed Bob Dylan and would soon sign Bruce Springsteen, Wainwright established his literary yet utterly unpretentious take on the grand folk music tradition right from the start. He also has a parallel career as an actor, which credits include M*A*S*H, Undeclared, Jacknife, 28 Days, Big Fish, The Aviator, Elizabethtown, The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Knocked Up.
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I got this handsome box set yesterday and just wanted to say that it's well worth it. If you're a Loudon Wainwright III fan on the fence about whether to spring some of your hard-earned dough for it, let me say that I, for one, am quite happy I took the plunge. This is a well-crafted box set. I wish they all were done this well! It's obviously a work of love. Probably just getting the release rights from all those various labels Loudon has made records for was a monumental task in itself. Thank you, SHOUT! In one month, you released the amazing Ernie Kovacs DVD set, and now this gem. Wow!
Inside, you'll find 4 CD jewel cases and a book. The first 3 CDs offer a huge selection of songs from the start of L III's career to now, culled from almost 30 different records. I'm not sure if they were remastered, or just digitally cleaned up, but these tracks sound really terrific. I hadn't expected that, and was pleasantly surprised. Each CD is about 80 minutes long, and has unique artwork that relates to that period in Wainwright's career. It's a great selection and perfectly sequenced.
The fourth jewel case contains a CD and a DVD. The CD contains a wealth of unreleased and rare songs. I've only listened to it once, but it seems to have some solid material on it. I watched about half of the DVD last night... amazing! I think there's about 40 different songs performed on the DVD. This thing is packed! It's not just a few videos thrown onto a DVD to enhance the package. This is a serious archival video retrospective of a 40-year career. Over the years, Loudon has created a lot of TV entertainment, from SNL and appearances on The Mike Douglas Show to Austin City Limits, and even British TV. It's all here, nicely organized, and there's even some video from various concerts tossed in, too, plus some perfomances with his talented offsrping (including Rufus, probably a bigger star than Loudon) There's a half-dozen menus on the DVD, all with unique art/photos and soundtracks (MORE Loudon music! This thing is crazy!). The DVD also includes an older video documentary on Loudon that I haven't watched yet, so I can't say much about it, except that I'm looking forward to it.
The book that is included is large, the same dimensions (more or less) as the box the boxed set comes in. Again, I wish ALL box sets had books this well done. It's nicely printed, on good quality paper (not shiny), and is really well-designed. They text is large enough so that you can actually read it, but there is still a satisfying amount of writing to absorb, here. I spent a happy hour reading everything in this book, which includes two funny and insightful essays by Loudon, some of his own notes on 14 of the songs in the first 3 CDs, and then his notes on all the material on the "Rare and Unreleased" CD. There's also a long essay about Loudon that is very well written and even an introduction Judd Apatow (who helped make this wonder of a box set). Oh yes, there's also color cover photos and musician information on all of Loudon's almost 30 albums, and a guide in the book that tells you which song in the set came from which album. Nice job!
I think this is a high quality product that will satisfy the most discriminating consumer. Loudon's work makes me laugh and cry, sometimes in the same song! So this lovingly crafted box set is cheaper than therapy!
It was a pleasure to enjoy this material yesterday. It was amazing to watch the videos in chronological order and see how Loudon has changed in some ways, and in other ways stayed very true to his core identity, becoming a master of his craft. You can really see how he deepens as an artist over the years (but still remains goofy and outrageous, which is why I love him). I actually think he is producing some of his best work currently, and I suspect this set is just a glorious lead-up to some even greater stuff yet to come.
One last Loudon story. I attended a summer outdoor performance of his a few years ago at the Seattle zoo. He was very entertaining. Just a guy and a guitar, making hundreds of folks laugh and cry (but mostly laugh). I'll never forget, that when he took the stage, he looked comically flustered, and shouted out "This place is a ZOO!" and then beamed his thousand-watt smile. What a guy. Still makes me smile to remember that.
I think this set will help foster a greater awareness and appreciation of what a national treasure we have in Loudon Wainwright III. -- Paul Tumey
Most of Wainwright's songs are very personal and autobiographical, the product of a privileged childhood and adolescence in what was clearly a high-strung family. He was scarred by his parents' alcoholism and turbulent marriage and later by his own bitter divorce and depression, all of which he deals with in music that seems to function as a kind of public therapy. He mines his flawed relationships and personal failings for creative purposes, a painful process leavened by mordant, often hilarious wit and by the joys of being a father (his late ex-wife Kate McGarrigle and their children Rufus and Martha Wainwright are all well-known musicians). The landscape is littered with lyrics about broken hearts and sexual desperation and mortifying regret, but he also explores politics and current events, music and celebrity, and such weirdness as a dead skunk, a smashed guitar, LSD, and poop. He gives everything a cockeyed, ironic twist.
Since many fans have numerous individual albums by Wainwright, it makes a lot of sense to use only three of the five discs in the collection for reissuing his music: two to four cuts from each of his 24 studio and live albums, a total of 68 tracks arranged in chronological order. Over nearly four hours, we get to appreciate the enormous variety and intelligence he brings to songwriting and to recall (or, if we are newcomers, be amazed by) what he considers his best known and most vital songs. This leaves a full CD for rare and unreleased tracks, and a 200-minute DVD that contains an exceptionally revealing hour-long TV documentary and dozens of songs in concert from 1975 all the way up to 2010. These two discs will, for longtime followers, be the strongest reasons for acquiring the set.
But the booklet is excellent, too, including as it does dozens of rare photos and ephemera from Loudon's personal trove of souvenirs, an introduction by director and co-producer Judd Apatow (who has cast him in his films, as have Robert Altman, Tim Burton, and Martin Scorsese), a retrospective essay by journalist David Wild, an autobiographical essay and song annotations by the man himself, and a full album discography and sessionography. Perhaps Apatow best sums up the power of Wainwright's work: "Mortality, lost love, everyday frustrations, family dramas, aging, creativity -- all of his themes move me." It's the stuff of life. It's what really matters.
Since Amazon doesn't list the contents of the DVD, I will do so:
1. One Man Guy, a 60-minute Dutch TV documentary from 1993
2. BBC4 Sessions: Loudon Wainwright: One Man Guy, Bush Hall, London, May 2, 2005 (songs: "One Man Guy," "Heaven," "When You Leave," "Half Fist")
3. Loudon Wainwright III at the BBC, a British TV retrospective airing September 23, 2005 (songs: "Reciprocity," "Roll in My Sweet Baby's Arms," "Unrequited to the Nth Degree," "Dump the Dog and Feed the Garbage," "Glad to See You've Got Religion," "Motel Blues," "Rufus Is a Tit Man," "Cardboard Boxes," "Thanksgiving," "Hitting You," "Career Moves")
4. Dead Man, a recording session documentary, May 24, 2010
5. Entertainment Desk, airing on Canadian TV in 1995 (song: "The End Has Begun" with Martha Wainwright)
6. High, Wide & Handsome: The Charlie Poole Project, filmed in 2009 for a documentary on the making of the album (song: "My Mother and My Sweetheart" with Rufus Wainwright)
7. The Basement, filmed in Sydney, Australia, in 2008 (song: "Needless to Say" with Lucy Wainwright Roche)
8. Austin City Limits, January 13, 1988, and February 16, 1999 (songs: "Lullaby," "Living Alone," "Homeless," "Tonya's Twirls," "OGM")
9. NBC's Saturday Night Live, November 15, 1975 (songs: "Bicentennial," "Unrequited to the Nth Degree")
10. The Garfield House, May 24, 2010 (songs: "New Paint" and "Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder" with Joe Henry and Greg Leisz; "Roll in My Sweet Baby's Arms," "June Apple," and "Unhappy Anniversary" with Christopher Guest; "Kings and Queens" with George Gerdes)
11. 826LA Benefit, January 16, 2007 (songs: "Grey in LA," "Daughter")
12. PBS Soundstage, airing February 2, 1977 (song: "Kick in the Head")
13. McCabe's Guitar Shop, February 3, 2007 (song: "Passion Play")
14. The Mike Douglas Show, airing April 25, 1978 (interview and song: "Fear with Flying")
15. ABC's Nightline, June 22, 2005 (song: "A Father and a Son")
16. BBC's Carrott Confidential, airing February 14, 1987 (song: "IDTTYWLM")
listening during the work day - 91 tunes - hit play on the ipod at 8:00 am and you have the day's soundtrack and it's over a little after 5:00 pm. I'll be Loudon did not plan it that way, but it works. Then go home and watch the dvd disc while eating
dinner. Sounds like the makings of a perfect day!
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and great live material. The TV clips are especially cool.Read more