Cautionary Tales of Mark Oliver Everett
|Listen Now with Amazon Music|
The Cautionary Tales of Mark Oliver Everett
|Amazon Music Unlimited|
|New from||Used from|
|Audio CD, April 22, 2014||
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
Before recording WONDERFUL, GLORIOUS, the last EELS album to be released, EELS leader Mark Oliver Everett called the band together to record a group of highly personal songs at his Los Feliz, California studio. Finding the process uncomfortable, he decided to take a break and reconvened with the band some months later to record what became WONDERFUL, GLORIOUS, an album full of spontaneous band collaborations. After that album's release and subsequent 73 show world tour, the band returned to what they had started all that time ago.
'I listened to what we had done, and it made me uncomfortable… but not uncomfortable enough,' Everett says now. 'I decided to scrub over half of the songs and write new ones that would make me feel even more uneasy. If I'm not uncomfortable, It's not real enough. I needed to dig a little deeper.'
The resulting album, THE CAUTIONARY TALES OF MARK OLIVER EVERETT, is an extraordinarily vivid and intimate document of a personal struggle. 'It's inspired by something I went though,' Everett says. 'Someone I lost, by choice, and later came to regret losing. It wasn't until I started to look at my role in it that it began to feel like I was getting somewhere worthwhile. The experience transformed me. This is the musical version of that experience. I'm hoping it could maybe serve as some sort of example for others. To learn from my mistakes.'
Quite different to the previous EELS release, and in contrast to the high-octane rock n' roll of the last EELS tour, THE CAUTIONARY TALES couples a bare-bones lyrical intimacy with a live orchestra of cello, viola, violins, bassoon, English and French horn, clarinet, flute, saxophone, trumpet, musical saw, glockenspiel and celesta that lends a stunning backdrop to the brutal insights of the lyrics.
'The title may make you think it's a solo album, but it's very much a group effort,' says Everett. Indeed, EELS members Koool G Murder, The Chet, P-Boo and Knuckles are all involved in performing, songwriting, and even arranging the album's orchestral parts.
'Everyone knows that if you want to write something convincing, you write about what you know,' says Everett, 'and what I know best are my experiences. I'm so lucky in so many ways, but it hasn't been easy. I may as well have been raised by wolves. I've had to figure everything out the hard way, through trial and error. I grew up very fast in some ways, and very slow in others. These are some of the trials and errors.'
'It's all a bit embarrassing,' Everett says now. 'But I figure it was a worthwhile endeavor, and I might as well put it out there for all to see - with my name and photo on it - no sugarcoating. When I was 10 years old my favorite album was Plastic Ono Band by John Lennon. The way he cut right through to the brutal truth really resonated with me, This is all his fault. I blame John Lennon,' he jokes. 'It wasn't an easy process, and I wouldn't want to go through it again. But I'm glad I did. I'm a better person for it, and I hope others can gain some perspective or awareness from it and maybe even apply it to their own lives. Maybe it could even start the process for some. Or at least make the process a little easier for them. To know they're not alone.'
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
Cautionary Tales is a better version of End Times. There's more orchestration and more effort here, but the overwhelming sense of "haven't we been here before? Haven't we covered this already?" kept distracting me from most of it.
I wish the rest of the album sounded like the instrumental opening track, "Where I'm At", a soft and sad and beautiful piece that reminds me of elements of Daisies of the Galaxy, or, to be more specific, the live show build around Daisies. But, even though there is an orchestra credited for helping to create the album, I felt like a lot of Cautionary Tales wasn't utilizing said orchestra.
There is some good stuff here, namely "Parallels", "Kindred Spirit" (even though it sounds so much like "In My Dreams" that I have to check myself every time it comes on*) and "Answers", which features the always-lovely celeste and some really nice orchestration as well a lovely choral moment or two.
On the other hand, there's tracks like "Series of Misunderstands", that is so lacking in lyrical flow that I can barely sit through it, "Dead Reckoning" which feels too grandiose for this album and packs a strong vibe of "I'm crying! Again! Look! But this time, I'm lamenting all my horrible life choices in front of a full orchestra! This is powerful!!!" and "Gentleman's Choice" where there appear to be something stuck in E's throat. Not emotion...maybe...steak?
The deluxe edition, which features a second disc containing 13 tracks, five of which are brand new**, has a few gems on it. "Bow Out" (quiet, dark and brave), "Good Morning Bright Eyes" (shimmering and upbeat) and "Millicent Don't Blame Yourself" (perfect example of a simple, good Eels song), none of which really seem to fit on this album, probably should have been included on the album for just that reason.
With regards to the overwrought nature of a lot of this album; listening to someone sing a sad song or lyric ("Every day I live in regret and pain", "the life that I've led / I'm better off dead" etc.) isn't enough for me. It's too obvious. Hearing someone sing a song about trying to live despite that sadness or attempting to overcome it and having difficulties or outright failing is always more compelling. I feel like too much of what E has chosen to put on this album is the former.
I know E has been through enough tragedy to last any one man several lifetimes, but I think, after almost twenty years, I'm just about done hearing him sing about it, especially when it's all been done better, by him, years ago.
* Same with "Lockdown Hurricane" and "End Times".
** One, "Millicent Don't Blame Yourself", has been played live, but has never gotten an official release.
I will have to say that I should have more carefully read the user reviews before I stepped into this CD. It is extremely slow and depressing and that is saying a lot, for those of us who follow E. I bought the 2 CD Deluxe version, and I listened to the first CD over a day and it never picks up. Often on an Eels CD, for all the downer tunes at least he'll throw in a few fun tunes but that just doesn't happen here. I even had to skip the last part of some songs because I just couldn't take it.
I will update my review after I listen to the second disc but I'm almost afraid to even start it up.
For any novices or long-time fans, heed my words before you jump on this purchase. Please purchase almost ANY other Eels CD rather than this one, the first 2 (Beautiful Freak and Electro-shock Blues) being the most recommended.
Not knocking E., or anything as I know he's had his ups and downs in life but this is just a plain depressing listen.
REVIEW UPDATE: I finally listened to the 2nd CD and it's OK, and actually a little better listen than the 1st CD. The cover of Oh Well isn't any more enlightening, especially for those who understand what Peter Green was going through at the time he wrote the song. I can understand why E would cover it, considering HIS mind at this time. It's an OK cover (not great) but The Rockets did it better!
It really is reminiscent of "End Times" which I think is one of E's best. If you are aware of his history you should pretty much know what to expect from his music. To that end, there's really nothing new here except that this record is slightly more "hopefully depressing" in terms of the content. But this is the nature of this artist and why I feel a connection to him.
"Wonderful, Glorious" was very interesting in that it was a more upbeat and 'rockin'' lp. This was a nice relief from the usual fare. Also, it was probably his best sounding lp in terms of sonics.
On this lp, sonically it's respectable. There are a couple of tracks that are more noticeably compressed than others. It is a notch below his last lp in this aspect. For some reason I get the feeling that individual parts were recorded separately then mixed together for the final product.
Oddly enough, I found the bonus lp to have better sonics.
The last song on the (bonus) lp is "Oh Well" An early Fleetwood Mac track. All I can say is WOW!!! Eels F9653478ing Rock!
As much as I've been on the negative side here, after all it's Eels. I love Eels.
Content 4 stars
Artist 5 stars
Sonics 4 stars
Most recent customer reviews
great songs and great sound in vinyl