current listening, 11/26/11

Haven’t done one of these rundowns in what seems like ages. Here are some of the retro sounds I’ve treated myself to of late when deadlines weren’t looming.

+ Paul Simon: The Rhythm of the Saints (1990) – Was redrawn to this after Simon’s sublime performance earlier this week at NKU. Having embraced world music on the preceding Graceland, Saints integrated the inspirations of West Africa more evenly with a series of decidedly non-commercial tunes that professed faith in wonderfully mystical and desperate terms. Two decades after its release, Saints remains a fascinating listen.

+ Rory Gallagher: BBC Sessions (1986) – A wonderful two-disc compendium of radio broadcasts by the late Irish guitarist that offers a surprisingly complete portrait of his musical strengths. The first disc, in particular, pieces together concert performances from throughout the ‘70s to create a makeshift set that runs from sinewy blues reflection to over-the-top boogie rampages. The second disc sticks to fine, early ‘70s BBC studio sets.

+ Terje Rypdal: To Be Continued (1981) – The second, and lesser known, global trio summit featuring Norwegian guitarist Rypdal, Czech bassist Miroslav Vitous and American drummer Jack DeJohnette. Cut in 1981 during the dead of an Oslo winter, To Be Continued is a mix of seasonal warmth and chill, as shown by the Nordic washes of electric guitar Rydal employs to paint these intimate yet otherworldly soundscapes.

+ Jethro Tull: Stand Up (1969/2010) – A re-release of Tull’s second album mixes folk, fancy and fuzzy psychedelia to embody the band’s pre-Aqualung sound. But the real draw is a bonus disc of a 1970 Carnegie Hall concert released only in peacemeal form until now along with BBC sets recorded closer to Stand Up’s initial release. Rounding it all out is Living in the Past, a 1969 British single that wouldn’t hit in America until late 1972.

+ Peter Green: The End of the Game (1970) – Less of an album than a jam session, this little known gem was the first recording issued by guitar great Green after defecting from Fleetwood Mac earlier in 1970. It sounds gloriously dated now, with a booming, echoing sound that recalls the regal guitar tone of the Apple Jam disc from George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass and some of Eric Clapton’s spicier Derek and the Dominoes jams.

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