Monday, May 15, 2006

Nick Drake: The Wes Montgomery of Rock?

The orchestrations in those Nick Drake recordings ruin his songs. When they're not ridiculous horn arrangements with saxophone obligatos and overeager electric guitarists in the background (e.g., "Hazy Jane II"), they're jarring string overdubs that sound like overdubs. Short of a duet with P. Diddy, nothing could be more of a distraction from his songwriting and his guitar work.

I was listening to "River Man" and I could just see Nick Drake on a tall stool, playing his guitar and hunching over to sing into the microphone. Just him, alone in the studio. And then I could feel that stupid string arrangement and it felt like it was coming from somewhere else. It was not natural. It was like throwing a blanket over this beautiful, haunting, mysterious song that requires more investigation than that ridiculously inappropriate fucking overdub would allow.

OVERdub. Laid OVER the track.

The string entrance around the 3:45 mark sounds like some kind of bad joke. Or like the arranger ran out of ideas and threw that in there. It sounds like a semi-random choice of notes/ideas hastily thrown together, perhaps to meet a deadline. This ranks up there with those shitty string arrangements on those Wes Montgomery recordings. Actually, these are probably worse because at least you could hear what Wes was playing in those Don Sebesky charts.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Bill Evans, McCoy Tyner

The other night, I was up until 2am, listening to music with my roommate. In order, we listened to Bill Evans's Portrait in Jazz and McCoy Tyner's Supertrios, both in their entirety. Kas dug Bill Evans, but I think he was especially drawn to McCoy Tyner's muscular approach. About halfway through the Tyner record, he blurted out, "If this is the kind of music you listen to, no wonder you want to be a musician."