Tuesday, February 23, 2010

WILCO 26 June 2003 Philadelphia *mastered soundboard*

Several posts back, I suggested that the "4-piece" incarnation of WILCO from 2001-2003 was my favorite brand of Wilco, at least live. Frail band post-Jay Bennett, audibly searching for their place behind Jeff Tweedy choosing to carry the torch on lead guitar, performances completely challenging audiences, amazingly-dynamic performances, etc.

I'm not changing that opinion, but I've found an even better gig from that era that really shows the depth the band was able to develop relying solely on Jeff Tweedy as the lead guitar.

From June 28, 2003, this Philadelphia, PA soundboard recording - as good as it gets regarding non-official live Wilco - features the 4-piece lineup as a 5-piece, with the soon-to-officially-join-band Mikael Jorgenson on keyboards and laptop duties. Jorgenson enhances Tweedy's Television-esque guitar skronk with Mission of Burma-style loops and feedback (see the segue between "Reservations" and "I Am Trying To Break Your Heart", for example), and adds occasional piano and keyboards to the performance as well.

This gig has a really good early version of "Muzzle of Bees" done up electric style, in contrast to the stunning acoustic beauty of the recorded version on the band's 2004 LP A Ghost Is Born.

"At Least That's What You Said" ends on a very long, very impressive Tweedy electric guitar wigout, obviously influenced by the New York 1970's No Wave scene (think Richard Lloyd/Television). It's otherworldly, and probably the best pre-2004 performance of this track I've ever heard.

Furthermore, longtime band friend (and producer) Jim O'Rourke joins the participants onstage for a spectacular Loose Fur raveup on track 17 "Laminated Cat" (or "Not For The Season", call it what you will). It's by FAR the best performance of this track I've come across, and I've searched for many as it borders on my favorite live Wilco track of all time.

"Spiders (kidsmoke)" is (relatively) close to the version they'd capture on the Ghost LP, with a heavy Krautrock influence that would only get stronger on the LP version. And any Wilco fan will love the full-on guitar assault starting with "Red-Eyed and Blue" and ending on the vintage "Casino Queen".

This show betters the Tampa gig from 2002 that I previously posted, in all ways. And furthermore, it's been fixed up from what was circulating in the past, if you're at all even remotely a fan of the band I strongly suggest you grab this.

Lossless FLAC, even!

There is only one small, minute problem with this otherwise-spotless recording - apparently Tweedy is suffering from a loose guitar cable during the first 1/4 of "Misunderstood" which leads to ugly crackling in the right channel. But it would have sounded the same at the gig, too, so you take what you can get! Needless to say it does clear up and all ends up great.

28 June 2003
Penn's Landing, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania USA
*mastered soundboard recording*

01 I'm Always In Love
02 Muzzle Of Bees
03 I'm The Man Who Loves You
04 Poor Places
05 Reservations
06 I Am Trying To Break Your Heart
07 War On War
08 At Least That's What You Said
09 Via Chicago
10 Jesus, etc.
11 Spiders (kidsmoke)
12 Red-Eyed and Blue
13 I Got You (At The End Of The Century)
14 We've Been Had (Uncle Tupelo)
15 Monday
16 Casino Queen
17 Not For The Season (or Laminated Cat, you choose) (with Jim O'Rourke)
18 Kicking Television
19 Misunderstood
20 California Stars

Split across 6 RAR files here.


Monday, February 15, 2010

Fartpants: The Legacy of Iain Burgess

Iain Burgess died on Thursday, February 11, 2010 from complications due to pancreatic cancer.

He left a lasting legacy behind in the fantastic body of work he engineered, recorded, or produced, as an "architect" of the 1980s "Chicago Sound" style of melodic post-punk.

Iain came to Chicago from his native Weymouth, England just in time to witness the birth of a scene, and have his own hand in shaping and defining it.

Striking a deal with the owner of the megacorporate Chicago Recording Company studio in Chicago's pricey River North neighborhood, he would record bands in lightning sessions from the close of business on a Friday night, vacating just in time by the following Monday morning for the studio's corporate ad agency clients. These bands defined a scene, a style, an ethos. The scene spawned Steve Albini, for starters - and to this day Albini credits Iain for jumpstarting his own engineering career.

Iain's characteristic sound was once defined as the sound of a tank driving into World War III. The guitars are amazingly loud and in-your face, and the drums are often massively powerful. Yet each instrument had its perfect place in the mix - the style of music Iain typically recorded could just as easily have been one muddy, anamorphic mess (see Spot's SST productions). But what often resulted from these "bash 'em out" breakneck weekend recording sessions are pictures of clarity. Many an engineer can learn plenty just by listening to Iain's resume.

Iain lived out his dreams by relocating to provincial France and built an amazing residential studio complex, called Black Box, in the mid 1990s. While not as active as he was in the 1980s/early 1990s, Iain still hosted bands and engineered the odd session at Black Box even through this past January.

Pond at Black Box, France

It's really something how so many of my very favorite, or very sentimental, records from my teenage years have Iain's name printed on the back. It almost became that if it had Iain's name anywhere in the credits, you just knew it was gonna be good.

So in the spirit of the blog, I've put together a bracing compilation of selected works from Iain's long resume. While nowhere near definitive - not even in definitive's city - this collection is as good as any of an introduction to Iain's amazing talent in capturing the sound of an era.

The majority of these tracks were recorded by Iain and produced by him as well. A couple of them, namely the Rapeman and Nina Nastasia tracks, were only engineered by him - yet his fingerprints are all over the tracks. Nina Nastasia's selection was recorded at Black Box with Iain and Albini handling the recording.

Why "Fartpants"? Because Albini gave him that name long ago. Better than "Rumbleknickers", I suppose, which Pegboy calls him in the liner notes to their Strong Reaction / Three-Chord Monte CD.

- - - - - -

The Legacy of Iain Burgess
a Power of Independent Trucking Special

01 RIFLE SPORT Exploding Man (1990)
02 EFFIGIES Fly On A Wire (1985)
03 BHOPAL STIFFS Bottle It Up (1987)
04 NAKED RAYGUN Soldiers Requiem (1988)
05 BREAKING CIRCUS Song Of The South (1986)
06 BIG BLACK Passing Complexion (1986)
07 DIDJITS Joliet (1988)
08 NAKED RAYGUN I Don't Know (1984)
09 BLOODSPORT Better and Best (1985)
10 POSTER CHILDREN Question (1989)
11 BIG BLACK Il Duce (1985)
12 NAKED RAYGUN Managua (1984)
13 PEGBOY Through My Fingers (1990)
14 TAR Les Paul Worries (1990)
15 BIG BLACK Bad Houses (1986)
16 DEFOLIANTS Mr. Spy (1987)
17 POSTER CHILDREN Jeremy Straight (1989)
18 NAKED RAYGUN Vanilla Blue (1988)
19 RAPEMAN Dutch Courage (1988)
20 JAWBOX Static (1992)
21 PEGBOY Revolver (1994)
22 POSTER CHILDREN She Walks (1989)
23 NINA NASTASIA Superstar (2003)
24 NAKED RAYGUN New Dreams (1985)

Split across two RAR files available here.

RIP Iain, may you live on in your legacy......

Saturday, February 13, 2010

RIP Iain Burgess, legendary punk engineer

I've profiled him before on these pages and I will put together a more comprehensive "best-of" compilation of tracks he was involved in.

Legendary architect of the 1980s "Chicago Sound" of punk rock, Iain Burgess died on Thursday of complications from pancreatic cancer.

Steve Albini wrote a beautiful post with stories about Iain's generosity here.

RIP Iain.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

FOUL v2.0: the Jesus Lizard '89-'94, remastered

Sorry for the long delay folks, though I guess it's not THAT long.

As we wait for the Recycle blog to post the next installment of the Joy Division series (again, prepared by your humble blogger), I've decided to revisit a (fairly) popular previous post on this very blog.

About a year ago I presented a "best-of", or a taster package, what have you, of that very awesome Chicago band the Jesus Lizard. It was one of the more popular posts here, and suffered through a couple file deletions by the powers that be.

Since that post, the entire Jesus Lizard oeuvre - on legendary Chicago label Touch and Go, that is - has been remastered by none other than Bob Weston and Steve Albini themselves. This is fantastic because both are about as bullshit-free as it gets regarding audio engineering, and both think the modern brickwall mastering style is horseshit (see the "loudness war" links over there on the right).

So when the news came that the tJL catalog was getting the Weston treatment (essentially, all the tracks that the band recorded with Albini) by being remastered at Weston's own Chicago Mastering Service - with Albini overseeing the process, I nearly crapped my pants.

And the wait was very much well worth it.

One of the really fantastic things about this set of remasters is that it gave me the chance to reappraise the band's final Touch and Go album, 1994's Down. I had previously dismissed this record as the weakest one in the bunch - and barely gave it a fair shake. I included tracks from it in my last tJL post just to do so, not because I necessarily liked them all that much. On reappraisal, however - and the improved mastering certainly hasn't hurt - I really love this record. It's not their best record per-se, but it sounds FANTASTIC and there are some stellar songs that need to be heard.

So today I'm posting an updated and expanded version of my prior FOUL compilation - this time, with all tracks from the remastered albums, and expanded to include some of the critical-to-my-ears bonus tracks included with the reissues. Alas, this also necessitated the growth from one CD to two, but hey - who's going to complain when they have more Jesus Lizard to listen to?

So on with it!

FOUL v2.0: the Jesus Lizard 89-94, compiled: the remastered editions

See the prior post for the complete illustrated discography.

01 Blockbuster (studio)
02 Chrome
03 One Evening
04 S.D.B.J.
05 My Own Urine
06 If You Had Lips
07 7 vs. 8
08 Waxeater
09 Tight 'N Shiny
10 Then Comes Dudley
11 Mouth Breather
12 Nub
13 Seasick
14 Monkey Trick
15 Lady Shoes
16 Pop Song
17 Wheelchair Epidemic
18 Dancing Naked Ladies (single version)
19 Blockbuster (live 4 Dec. 1992 9:30 Club, Washington DC)

- cd break here -

20 Boilermaker (Idful Studio Sessions demo)
21 Gladiator (Idful Studio Sessions demo)
22 Boilermaker
23 Gladiator
24 Puss
25 Whirl
26 Rope
27 Zachariah
28 Dancing Naked Ladies
29 Glamorous
30 Fly On The Wall
31 Countless Backs Of Sad Losers
32 The Associate
33 Destroy Before Reading
34 Low Rider
35 The Best Parts
36 Panic In Cicero


1-9 Head/Pure 2009 remastered reissue
10-16 Goat 2009 remastered reissue
19 bootleg soundboard recording
17-18, 20-28 Liar 2009 remastered reissue
29-36 Down 2009 remastered reissue

All tracks originally issued on Touch and Go Records except where noted

1 originally from the EP Pure (1989)
2 originally from 7" single (1990)
3-9 originally from the LP Head (1990)
10-15 originally from the LP Goat (1991)
16 originally from the Dope, Guns and Fucking #7 7" on Amphetamine Reptile (1991)
17-18 originally from 7" single (1992)
20-21 originally from Australian 7" on Insipid (1992)
22-28 originally from the LP Liar (1992)
29 originally from the EP Lash (1993)
30-35 originally from the LP Down (1994)
36 originally from the Clerks soundtrack LP on Sony (1994)

3 RAR files, 320kbps MP3, here!