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The Baseball Project / Minus 5 / Steve Wynn IV at Martyr's Chicago (Review)

Steve Wynn and Scott McCaughey are not just two musicians who I appreciate for their talents on the stage but for their wealth of knowledge in America ’s Pastime; that being baseball. If you listen to the album, the ‘Baseball Project’ it is not filled with the familiar faces of baseball but offers a Ken Burn’s soundtrack into some of the stories and moments that make baseball such as rich part of our culture.
 
They are richly observant of the faces and names of baseballs past. I can imagine that someone probably threw away their baseball card collections at some point, and can tell the stories about how they owned a Mantle or Mays. One of the big concerns whenever you write an entire album about a sport is that it could turn out to be hokey. In some cases, the stories aren’t exactly happy, i.e. the story of Curt Flood or Mark McGwire were not stories that would seemingly be put on my lists of songs that bring joy and happiness to my life, but they also represent characters who are underappreciated, (see Flood and his role in Free Agency) and tarnished (see McGwire) and steroids.
Thus, Baseball is not the happy-go-lucky sport, but one filled with romance, with loss with pain and exhuberance. It is a sport that is not set by a clock but by outs, so you cannot be a pussy and run out the clock. Currently, teams bring in, a "Closer" for those pressure moments at the end of the game with the game on the line. Maybe this speaks to why I have always loved it, and yet at the same time get the butterflies going through my heart knowing that game is never over until the fat lady is singing.
Luckily there were no fat ladies singing on Friday evening.

39 Reasons To Be Happy: The True Live R.E.M. Experience

Several weeks ago, R.E.M. released a teaser EP of four songs the band played during their time in Dublin, Ireland in 2007. I have been listening to this performance in relation to ‘LIVE’, R.E.M.’s rookie entry into the concert album foray.  The first thing that I have noticed about the songs that were played, are their intimacy. We do not hear the emptiness of the concert venue but the thick nasaly voice of Michael Stipe as he serenades the paying audience with Mike Mills playing a mean bass and adding the essential backup vocals and Peter Buck, janglying his way to heaven.

 

R.E.M. Retro Singles Nothing To Get Excited About

EMI’s announcement of releasing these old singles will probably fall on deaf ears among most R.E.M. fans as there are several reasons why these fall short.

The subsequent songs and their accompanying B-Sides are listed below.
 
(A) Can’t Get There From Here
(B) Bandwagon

(A) Driver 8
(B) Crazy

(A) Fall On Me
(B) Rotary Ten

(A) It’s The End Of The World As We Know It
(B) Last Date

(A) The One I Love
(B) Maps and Legends (Live)

(A) Superman
(B) White Tornado

And while as much as I can appreciate the idea of the 45, the retro single does not work in this case because all of these songs have been released on several different formats already. For the B sides listed, Bandwagon, Crazy, Rotary Ten and White Tornado were all released on Dead Letter Office. Maps and Legends (Live) as well as Last Date were also on several releases most notably ‘In the Attic’ but also on a ‘Deep Cuts’ EP that was also released this year including other re-released tracks of ‘The One I Love’ and ‘Disturbance at The Heron House’ live acoustic versions from the infamous McCabes Show in 1987.

While the singles of these songs claim to be remastered there is no detail as to what the remastering process actually was. Listening to the samples I was not blown away one way or the other.

From a hardcore fans perspective, the singles are ideal for the collector that likes the cover art and vinyl for their collection, something that is lost on these digital recordings.
As the announcement states, these songs are currently available on iTunes and should be available currently in other digital outlets.

Paste Magazine's Top 20 R.E.M. Songs

Paste Magazine put out what it considers the top 20 R.E.M. Songs of all-time. The best part about this list compared to all of the other lists is that this one is the right list and the others are wrong.
I thought this list was interesting that this list did not feature anything over the last 5 albums.

From A Tape Trading Perspective, Some Of You Might Be Able To Relate

For some of you "Tape-Traders" out there I would assume that you might be able to relate to this story with NASA and the tapes of the first Moon Landing.
"We're all saddened that they're not there. We all wish we had 20-20 hindsight"
I am probably going to come back to this idea from time to time as it would seem that many industries, including music did not appreciate, at length, the value of "Footage".
 

Fables Podcast

I am showing my future brother-in-law how to do a podcast and thought that it would be really cool to repost this podcast from about a year ago.
So if you are in the mood for some Fables songs have a listen.

Minus 5's Killingsworth Released This Week

While I have purchased and listened to 'Killingsworth' a couple times, I have not had a chance to digest it as of yet. IMHO, the record is much more on the somber/sad side compared to other Minus 5 efforts.

Gone are the Beach Boys sounding records like 'Let the War Against Music Begin' or the hard rock sounds of 'In Rock' but it has a much more country feel to it.

Pitchfork gave it a slightly favorable review overall and there is a story here regarding McCaughey in the Oregon Live.

Minus 5- Killingsworth

R.E.M. 'Reckoning – Songs From The Olympia' 4 Song EP Review

Lately, I am consumed by the fact that R.E.M. has been doing something right. Their Deluxe Editions have come out in style, received some notoriety, and even a perfect score, from the Pitchfork Crew and now they are giving us a “Tasting Menu” of some of the songs that are on the horizon.

To give all you novices, a quick Cliffs Notes version of these shows, R.E.M. decided to switch things up before the release of their last album ‘Accelerate’ and put together a set of rehearsal shows in Dublin, Ireland, while working in the studio. They picked 5 nights in the summer of 2007, to play these shows and the purpose was mainly to perform these songs in front of a live audience both for their reaction to the songs as well as the bands reaction to them.

The hope was that by “Beta Testing” these songs in front of a crowd they could figure out what worked and what didn’t. On top of performing new songs, the band also pulled out a host of older of songs they had not performed live in years. What this EP has provided however, is a more modern impression of these songs that are 25 years or even older giving depth of the offering of two guitars being played live than just one on the earlier tunes.

Ironicly, if there was a big brother to the album, “Accelerate” in the R.E.M. repertoire, ‘Reckoning’ would have to be chosen, if not for the spirit of the album as it relates to ‘Accelerate’. So it’s perfect to accelerate to ‘Reckoning’ with 4 strong songs of their own.

Possible songs on Olympia 2 Disc Live Album

While Facebooking about how much I was appreciating the new EP and talking to Chuck, I figured I would gather the songs together once again.
Here is a listing of the songs that R.E.M. played in their 5 night stay in Dublin Ireland (6/30/07 - 07/05/07).
There were talks that the band would be including "Over 30" songs on this release. The band played 39 unique songs while performing in Dublin.
 
By Album
 
Chronic Town (EP)
1000000
Carnival of Sorts (Boxcars)
Gardening At Night
Wolves, Lower
 
Murmur
Sitting Still
West of the Fields
 
Reckoning
Harborcoat
Letter Never Sent
Little America
Pretty Persuasion
Second Guessing
So. Central Rain (I'm Sorry)
 
Fables of the Reconstruction
Auctioneer (Another Engine)
Driver 8
Feeling Gravitys Pull
Kohoutek
Maps and Legends
 
Lifes Rich Pageant
Cuyahoga
These Days
 
Document
Disturbance at The Heron House
Welcome to the Occupation
 
Automatic For The People
Drive
 
Monster
Circus Envy
 
New Adventures In Hi Fi
Electrolite
New Test Leper
 
Reveal
I've Been High
 
Around The Sun
The Worst Joke Ever
 
Acccelerate

Harborcoat From Olympia On REMHQ

A beautiful version of Harborcoat has been posted to REMHQ for everyone to enjoy.

I always like how these songs can be reintroduced to the public after so many years and quite honestly, the song has been reinvented after its 20+ year existence.

Played in 2007, this song is part of the Olympia Theatre rehearsal shows back in July 2007, and in particular was played on July 4th of that year.

R.E.M. is planning a 2-CD live release later this year as a compilation of those nights performances. Harborcoat will also be released as  a 4 song EP on July 7th, in support of the Reckoning songs as a precurser to 'Live at the Olympia' that is coming this October.

 

 

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