I figure I'm a prime example of the kind of music listener Paul Westerberg was trying to reach with this irresistibly low price release. I must admit having almost complete ignorance of Westerberg's work. I'm old enough to remember The Replacements, but I don't recall ever hearing any of their music growing up. Thus, 49:00 and I were perfect for each other. If I happened to hate what I heard, all Paul would have lost was a potential listener and I would only have been out a little spare change. Fortunately for us both, I didn't hate what I heard - far from it. You certainly won't find any fresher music than this - we're talking six days from Westerberg's basement to our ears.
49:00 is definitely an intriguing work. The raw energy Westerberg evokes in the first few tracks is infectious and hearkens back to an era when human beings rather than computers made the music (not that I'm opposed to synth and the like, of course - I did grow up in the 80s). Westerberg plays the heck out of an electric guitar on some of the shorter clips in the middle of the album, but he seems to be at his best with little more than a guitar and drums supporting his singing. As for that voice, it's seasoned but far from polished - and I definitely count that as a plus. It's refreshingly real and honest in an almost Dylan-esque sense. You get the impression that the songs are more important than the singer, and that's a rarity these days.
Admittedly, it was a little strange - and oftentimes frustrating - when I reached the point of the recording where short clips of different tracks begin overlaying one another. I would be enjoying a song one minute, then another song clip would come along to take its place. I wanted to hear much more of these songs - and that, of course, is probably the whole point behind this concept album's unusual release.
I have adored Paul and his assorted vehicles since my freshman year in college in 1986. Tim awoke me from a bad dream called life. PW has always functioned as that lynchpin to bring me back to music whenever I lose my way--be it Tim, be it 14 Songs, be it Come Feel Me Tremble, and now, eventually, let it be 49:00.
I had the pleasure of meeting Paul during the Folker Tour and he signed my Come Feel Me Tremble CD on my birthday in Vancouver, BC shortly before midnight. It was one of the happiest moments of my life.
A masterful mixture of art and sentiment, 49.00 brings into focus all the great things we love about Paul--his body of song, his unpredictability, his uncompromising originality, his heartbreaks, and yes, his potential.
Goodnight, Sweet Prince is so good is gives me chills each time I listen -- which is often. It appears that Paul lost both his parents in his arms and saw those last breaths. It is clear he loved them both dearly. This song moves me and chills me to the bone; that is, for me, as good as music gets--as good as life gets.
I've listed to the entire track dozens of time and I don't like to be interrupted during these 43 minutes and 55 seconds.
I love this collection of songs. I view the tracks bleeding into one another and layers of songs not as discord; but, rather as shifting plates of nuanced Westerberg dancing beautifully suspended on the stage of life. Color me more than impressed!
I can't stop listening to this. This is a real treat -- there are songs -- along with snippets of songs and some real crazy guitar hooks just thrown in between songs.
It's kind of a blank slate for the listener too -- there are no song titles, so you can make up your own . There is a song about five what would be about five tracks in (or 16 minutes in) in that I'll call "Devil Raised a Good Boy" that is fantastic.
His father's recent death is all over this record too. He obviously took it hard -- and having recently gone through this myself, these sentiments that woven through some of the songs really hit home for me. Like thinking you should call your Dad about something -- oh wait -- crap . . . So call your dad, if you can.
The other weird thing about this is that there are some realy simple melodies in some of these songs. My little guy was swaying back and forth like he does with "Wheels on the Bus." I don't know if Paul is going to do a Dan Zanes on us -- he has one foot in kiddie rock already with the "Open Season" soundtrack -- but you can see how he could be doing kids songs next listening to this.
It's not hard to imagine putting a sheen on some of these tracks and having a big new "comeback" record released through a major -- but I guess he just doesn't want to deal with all that and would rather release this stuff rough on his own.
What's more, this is a big middle finger to the singles culture we all seem to be in -- you'll have to cut this up yourself if you just want a track here or there.
Anyway -- this may be the biggest bargain in history at 49 cents -- so go get it now!