My Think Again column is called “Billionaire Media Moguls vs. Occupy Wall Street” and you can find it here.
John Fogerty plays “Cosmo’s Factory” at the Beacon:
Twenty-three years or so ago I saw John Fogerty play Creedence music for the first time in decades in honor of the opening of the Vietnam Veterans’ memorial in Washington and as a personal catharsis over psychological issues that had prevented him from making (almost) any music at all following the bitter breakup of the band and the loss of all of his publishing rights. Fogerty was, by his own admission, a pretty sour fellow back then. Now he’s such a happy fella, it’s almost embarrassing to be around the guy. His stage patter is Paul McCartney-esque, about how wonderful his wife and kids are, and you know, sunshine on his shoulders makes him happy, that kind of thing.
But oh, the songs…. Also like McCartney, Fogerty has, in his back pocket, some of the most powerful, nearly perfectly crafted pop music and his band recreates the originals to perfection. Beginning with Cosmo-CCR’s strongest album, he made this 41-year-old-relic sound as fresh as my 13-year old kid. (Tonight he is playing “Green River.”) Given that Fogerty grew up thousands of miles away from the various southern bayous, cotton fields, nooks and crannies of American life that give these songs their inspiration, one is tempted to feel that there is a larger force of life and creativity working through him in an almost supernatural fashion. But it is not a tombstone shadow; rather it’s a good moon rising; an archetypal American artform being re-invented while so much of the rest of the world around him was immersed in psychedelic experiences that yielded mostly self-indulgence. Fogerty’s tight, locomotive-like arrangements put you in a frame of mind that makes you glad to be alive. Here’s some Youtube from the wayback machine.
New CDs/collections from The Beach Boys, Pink Floyd, U2, Nirvana, The Arcade Fire, Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band, R.E.M., Phil Spector, Frank Sinatra, The Grateful Dead and a few others:
It’s been a great season, cd-wise, for people like me, who are getting kinda old for new music but interested in going more deeply into the music we’ve always loved, and particularly enjoy getting some historical context to accompany the moment, both to deepen the enjoyment and expand our knowledge. In the past few weeks, I’ve discussed massive box sets by Pink Floyd, Elvis Presley and the Beach Boys, all of which clock in at least $100, hardly a casual purchase. But for fans, (rather than fanatics, scholars, etc.) the companies and the artists want your money too and some of them are willing to put some time and effort into this as well.
The most elaborate of the mini-boxes is the two-cd version of “The Smile Sessions,” which comes with a nice, informative booklet, some lovely tchotkes, and the cool poster that’s in the big box set. Also excellent and well worth re-purchase are the “Experience” two cd versions of Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side” and “Wish You Were Here,” which I actually like even better. Both cds come with live versions of the entire albums. Floyd also as a single cd best of called “A Foot in the Door,” which is what it says it is… this is not a “best of” kinda band but it does have the remixed versions of these songs, which means you might want to replace “Echoes,” even though there’s a lot missing given its single disc-ness. I’ve not seen the fancy version of U2’s “Achtung Baby” but I guess I agree it’s their best album. It’s pretty decently packaged and there’s a second cd of outtakes and covers, that’s not bad at all. Ditto the pretty excellent new double cd version of “Nevermind”—a crucial album in anyone’s collection, which has been remixed and given a whole bunch of demo versions and outtakes on an extra cd and a half. The Nirvana box of outtakes was just horrible, and so are some of these particularly the “Boombox” versions, but the b sides and the “smart studio sessions” are a pleasant surprise, especially if you like the quieter side of Nirvana. I also got the new single cd expansion of The Arcade Fire’s “The Suburbs” which is a genuinely near-great album, and the only band I’ve been able to love since Radiohead. I think it’s got three new songs and a nice new booklet. Finally, also nicely packaged is the two cd “Sinatra: Best of the Best,” which is really a single cd “best of” that includes both the Capitol and Reprise years—an absolutely crazy idea if you ask me—and an out of print Seattle concert, along with a nice booklet and some postcards. There’s a version without the concert too. Again, nice packaging.