"In time we can turn these obsessions into careers"MLAR20yrs

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Jack of All Parades
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"In time we can turn these obsessions into careers"MLAR20yrs

Postby Jack of All Parades » Sun Mar 13, 2011 9:36 am

Twenty years into it's existence and I can still barely tolerate Mighty Like a Rose. If I were not such a completest, I would have purged this album from my collection years ago. As it is I barely play it and when I do there are truly only five songs that I can listen to with any regularity and three of them are to be found on the bonus Rhino disc[ "Just Another Memory", the "Sweet Pear" demo and "Put Your Big Toe in the Milk of Human Kindness"- that leaves "The Other Side of Summer" and "Couldn't Call it Unexpected #4" as the only two main tracks that I still play with regularity and strangely they bookend this troublesome album. This prior thread got me stimulated to want to revisit:

viewtopic.php?f=2&t=5655&p=89072&hilit=Mighty+Like+a+Rose#p89072

I seem to recall many years ago Robert Christgau, of the Village Voice,[It was probably Alexv who deliciously reminded me of his telling comment] dismissing this album with the funny line noting that since EC's career path to that point had failed to give him the mass appeal and fortune that he so coveted, even coming off the most commercially successful album of his career, it was readily apparent that this album was a conscious decision to just let the bile loose as he had nothing to lose. His own liner notes in the Rhino re-release own up to this. For the most part I find it almost unlikeable; it is so muddied in its production, so filled with an unseemly anger, so clouded with bloated song lines, so marred by a voice that is straining and even screeching at times, so filled with malice and loathing.

I know that many cite PTC and GCW as the examples of production overkill. For me the poster child for that sin is this album. Individual songs are strangled to death by the multiple layers of sound that envelope them. This is the album that definitely killed his almost magical lyric line for me for so many years. What had been a strength for EC, in my mind, dissolved into long pedantic diatribes against people, past lovers, institutions and the world in general. His anger no longer had a focus, but was just generalized, monotonous and all pervasive. It was a big turn off[ I am glad he ultimately overcame his self- disgust and destructive ways and came out the better for it on the other side of his career]. His singing on this record is intolerable-it is caterwaul, screech and little subtlety for too many songs. Even when there is a song with a pretty melody like "After the Fall" he too often sabotages the melody with his voice. I think this may be my biggest disappointment with this album; he seemingly didn't give a damn how he sang an individual song.

The two songs that stay with me are the ying and yang parts of his musical personality- "Summer" being a delicious put down song with one of those great self winks in the millionaire line like Dylan in "Positively Fourth Street" and "Unexpected #4" has always shown me what he can do when he wants to attack melody, poetic line, instrumentation and studio production in one song. It's agnostic sentiments have always stayed with me and I treasure that prayer "Please don't let me fear anything I cannot explain" with the "I can't believe, I'll never believe in anything again" line. "Just Another Mystery" has always been an intriguing self- evaluation of the death of one's career at a certain point as it is paraded across the terrain with its funereal whistle stops 'just another mystery train"[one has to love that allusion]. It should have been on the album in place of any number of songs that made the cut.

"Mighty Like a Rose" continues to be such a major disappointment for me. It is the one record of his that I consistently think should have just disappeared not to be resurrected in the Rhino series. It's gnarled production, poor vocals, and mean spiritedness has never appealed to me and some twenty years on it continues to turn me off to its sound and lyric line. It clearly and consistently holds the position of the least listened and admired album by EC in my collection. I do not see it being displaced from this position anytime soon!
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Re: "In time we can turn these obsessions into careers"MLAR2

Postby alexv » Sun Mar 13, 2011 12:42 pm

Now, Christopher, this is way too harsh. I don't think this is EC's finest hour, but Summer, Doomsday, Bugs and All Grown Up are not only listenable, but terrific EC songs. Forget the bile in the lyrics. It's EC after all, to paraphrase Ronboy. If you don't appreciate artful insults then missing a classic EC strength. And yes, this was still the phase of the "baroque" productions, with the ace session guys and the multilayering upon multilayering. But I don't think any of that kills these songs. The first four are charged with great melodies. As I said a few years ago when we were discussing this record in comparison to its brother Spike, the first four are EC ear candy.

I skip Invasion and Harpies. They must have their fans, and it's always nice to hear what others have to say, but they turn me off.

But then we get another terrific trio: Fall, Georgie and Candy. Georgie and Candy are more ear candy. Nothing profound and lots of missteps in the production, but Georgie tells a nice tale with a fine melody; and Candy is one of the really good EC collaborations.

I avoid Playboy, Pear and Broken. For me, they fit in the genre of "boring" EC songs. Not a lot of songs in there. Interestingly, Broken has gotten a lot of cover attention in the jazz world so maybe there's something there i"m missing. Anyway, not for me.

And as you point out Unexpected is one of the great EC songs, from any era. Which brings me to a point I made in another post: have you noticed the great group of EC record closers? This is one. Then you have Town Cryer from IB. The Birds will Still be Singing closes the Brodsky record, and A Voice in the Dark closes NR. What do they all have in common, other than being some of the greatest songs he's written, in my opinion? For someone steeped in a certain view of the world, that is shall we say not the rosiest, EC, in each of these songs, lets loose with what for him can only be called sunny-eyed optimism. Town Cryer is not as overt as the other three, but coming as early as it did I like to think that EC was reaching for the same idea, just couldn't quite say it. What do you think?

So, I kind of like MLAR in the same way I kind of like Spike. Five skippables is not bad at all. No matter what anyone says, rightfully I think, about the artistic missteps, there are still a boatful of terrific songs in both these records. It's middle period EC, for better or worse, and it's pretty darn good stuff.

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Re: "In time we can turn these obsessions into careers"MLAR2

Postby the_platypus » Sun Mar 13, 2011 2:49 pm

No shit this was harsh. How about just not liking an album instead of writing an essay about how terrible it is, and wishing for its banishment?

Sometimes I wonder why I even post in this board. Sometimes it seems like such an angry, entitled lot.

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Re: "In time we can turn these obsessions into careers"MLAR2

Postby krm » Sun Mar 13, 2011 2:57 pm

Continue posting. All of us that like MLAR are just silently ignoring..... :-)

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Re: "In time we can turn these obsessions into careers"MLAR2

Postby History History » Sun Mar 13, 2011 3:55 pm

Just dusted down MLAR and was surprised by how much I enjoyed it although I never disliked the album at the time -it's Elvis after all! There's some good stuff here: All Grown Up, Candy,The Other side of Summer and of course, the magnificent Couldn't Call it Unexpected. The lyrics to Doomsday, How To Be Dumb and After The Fall made me laugh (" Beautiful people stampede to the doorway of the funniest fucker in the world") and Sweet Pear is a lovely song (it should be on the upcoming spinning songbook wheel). Broken doesn't do much for me here, maybe better as a b-side. I didn't massively enjoy the MLAR concerts - Elvis seemed a little out of sorts but the album is fine!

MLAR= underrated!

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Re: "In time we can turn these obsessions into careers"MLAR2

Postby the_platypus » Sun Mar 13, 2011 4:30 pm

This is how it breaks down for me.

GREAT
Couldn't Call it Unexpected no.4
Hurry Down Doomsday
Harpies Bizarre (lovely melody)
The Other Side of Summer
After the Fall
How to Be Dumb

GOOD
So Like Candy
All Grown Up
Invasion Hit Parade
Just Another Mystery

AVERAGE
Georgie and Her Rival
Playboy to a Man
Sweet Pear

BELOW AVERAGE
Broken

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Re: "In time we can turn these obsessions into careers"MLAR2

Postby alexv » Sun Mar 13, 2011 5:24 pm

My breakdown:

great: Unexpected

very good: summer; georgie; candy

good: dumb, doomsday, fall

below average: broken, pear, playboy, harpie, parade

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Re: "In time we can turn these obsessions into careers"MLAR2

Postby verbal gymnastics » Sun Mar 13, 2011 6:02 pm

the_platypus wrote:No shit this was harsh. How about just not liking an album instead of writing an essay about how terrible it is, and wishing for its banishment?

Sometimes I wonder why I even post in this board. Sometimes it seems like such an angry, entitled lot.


If you think the board is harsh now, you should have been around in the good old days :lol:

I find MLAR over produced but it has some fantastic tracks on it. The tw othings we all seem to agree is the magnificence of CCIU#4 and the comments about Broken.

I'd also agree about the lustre of the MLAR shows. I went the last 3 nights at Hammersmith Odeon and actually got bored on the second night. I hoped there would be something special for the last night but that proved out to be wrong!
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Re: "In time we can turn these obsessions into careers"MLAR2

Postby wardo68 » Mon Mar 14, 2011 8:32 am

I've posted several times here in defense of MLAR. And I enjoy reading Christopher's essays -- always well thought out, and good for debate.

I loved the album when it came out, and still like it today. I put it up there with his better albums, as opposed to his lesser albums.

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Re: "In time we can turn these obsessions into careers"MLAR2

Postby pophead2k » Mon Mar 14, 2011 3:45 pm

Tough one for me because this was the first album I 'waited' for (I got into EC with Spike and went backwards- making MLAR the first 'new' one for me). Because of that its got a sentimental pull that might outweigh its artistic merits. I drove from Spokane, WA to Berkeley, CA to see my first EC show on this tour.

I really love most of the songs mentioned above, and would probably put CCIU at number two or three on my all-time list. The live version is just fantastic too. Can barely listen to 'Playboy' though- probably my least favorite EC song. 'Sweet Pear' is fantastic, especially at the concert I went to. I was really surprised to hear EC play the solo as I'd assumed that was Ribot or one of the other fellas.

'Georgie' and 'Harpies' have great melodies; 'After the Fall' is the best Leonard Cohen knock off I've heard; and 'Doomsday' and 'Dumb' are both fish-in-a-barrel shots at Bruce Thomas that are amusing in their sheer bitchery.

I'd be willing to bet that listening back to this album doesn't give EC the best memories! He did seem awfully angry at the time. The relative dearth of humor here is really a first for an EC record.

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Re: "In time we can turn these obsessions into careers"MLAR2

Postby Jack of All Parades » Mon Mar 14, 2011 4:22 pm

VG, Wardo, Pophead, alexv, History History- thank you for reading and responding as intended-just my thoughts with the hope that it will create discussion and not given with any anger or sense of entitlement. Never have approached posts on this site in that way. That others like the album for various reasons as outlined above is wonderful. I am just being true to myself. The important thing is the discussion which you all maintain and foster.

Alex, that is an interesting point you make regarding the various strong end songs to several key EC records. I would add one more-"Peace, Love and Understanding" for Armed Forces. I know he did not write it but I think he owns it. I think he is following that old show biz adage that you want to suck them in with the opener and leave them wanting more with the closer. Not a bad practice and at least this is what he accomplishes on MLAR for me- a strong opener with a memorable closer- he just forgot to fill it in between for my ears.
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Re: "In time we can turn these obsessions into careers"MLAR2

Postby Poor Deportee » Mon Mar 14, 2011 10:20 pm

Huh. Now this is an album that I originally bought on cassette (! :lol: ). I never upgraded it to CD format, partly because the last reissue series went belly-up before I had acquired the financial wherewithal to take advantage of it. So all I have are memories (although I can still sing many of those songs word for word, such was the obsessiveness I poured into music in those days).

For what it's worth, my recollection of this album is that it definitely rebuffed the listener, but that the baroque production repaid multiple listenings in some cases. Christopher, I'm not sure I'd dismiss the songwriting; while 'Invasion' and 'Georgie' are disturbing signs of the uncontrolled line and pained melodic artifice that would come to contaminate his later work, 'Summer,' 'All Grown Up,' 'Harpies Bizarre,' 'After the Fall,' 'Candy' and 'Expected' all have to be counted as very fine compositions in my book. Whether they're fine performances is another matter. As I recall, he just completely ruins 'All Grown Up,' a complex song requiring deft treatment. But 'Candy,' for instance, really is ear candy, well served by its moody production. 'Playboy' and 'Broken' do make for a dismal stretch on Side Two, though.

I always thought of this album as some sort of bizarre f*ck you to any 'casual' EC fan. It's almost designed to scare away all but the diehards, of which I was obviously one. And I wonder whether it was a deliberate attempt at career sabotage after the comparatively giddy heights of 'Spike' (rather in the way that SP & S was tantamount to commercial self-sabotage under the circumstances, despite being a better album overall that this one IMHO). This is Elvis playing the cantankerous, eccentric, and unapproachable Mad Genius. Really a bizarre spectacle, but far from lacking in redeeming moments. Or so I recall. :roll:
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Re: "In time we can turn these obsessions into careers"MLAR2

Postby cwr » Tue Mar 15, 2011 5:43 am

Total dissent on every point.

Not only is MLAR my favorite EC album, it's probably my favorite record full stop. I love it from start to finish, every song. I think it's EC's best-sequenced album. I love the sound of the thing - Mitchell Froom's production is outstanding. A lot of people lump this and SPIKE in together as if they somehow share the same sound, though I personally hear almost no similarity between the two records.

Obviously it's totally subjective-- this is in no way an argument that one side or the other can "win" or "lose"-- but I do feel pretty strongly that a fair amount of the negative feeling towards this record in some quarters can be attributed to The Beard. Now, before people think I'm accusing anyone on this board of that, I'm NOT. If you're posting on an Elvis Costello message board, odds are you're into this on a level that is deep enough that such things aren't gonna affect your view much.

But in a more general sense, it's hard to imagine that he could've done anything worse to sabotage his follow up to SPIKE's success than by gaining weight and throwing his public identity into the trash, replacing it with a giant beard and sunglasses that made him virtually unrecognizable. He probably looked about as good as he ever did when "Veronica" was an MTV-award-winning video, and THAT guy might have had a follow up hit. This bearded madman look was an act of pure sabotage. It might not stack up to the Ray Charles incident, but it fits the pattern.

I always felt that this was a great example of an "angry" Elvis Costello, and was happy when EC himself noted this in his Rhino liner notes.

I'm jumping around here, but I also think it's interesting to note that Q magazine put this on the cover as perhaps his greatest album yet, but within a year it became practically magazine policy to only refer to MLAR as an artistic folly.

I even love "Playboy To A Man" and "Broken", two of the most reviled EC tracks. The latter isn't a track that I would listen to much on its own, but in the context of the album I think it works tremendously.

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Re: "In time we can turn these obsessions into careers"MLAR2

Postby wardo68 » Tue Mar 15, 2011 8:19 am

Agreed in full, cwr. And I loved the Beard (and hair) too.

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Re: "In time we can turn these obsessions into careers"MLAR2

Postby History History » Tue Mar 15, 2011 3:39 pm

Christopher Sjoholm wrote:"The Other Side of Summer" and "Couldn't Call it Unexpected #4" as the only two main tracks that I still play with regularity


Hi Christopher,
It must have been a big disappointment to hear the album after both your favourite tracks were released first on 7". Did you ever hear Elvis performing any of the other songs on the album live and prefer them? For myself,I liked the Goodbye Cruel World album better after hearing those songs live and stripped of the production.

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Re: "In time we can turn these obsessions into careers"MLAR2

Postby Jack of All Parades » Tue Mar 15, 2011 4:36 pm

History- no I didn't like the songs any better during the tour that supported that album. As noted by other posters on this thread- that tour was disappointing. EC did have a sour demeanor while performing and it perhaps carried into the songs as I listened to them. His performance that I saw was most disappointing, quite desultory. In retrospect that tour was my least favorite of all the shows I have seen over the years.

I too loved the beard and hair-the mad-Russian look. Never did buy the line from the Rhino notes that he grew it to escape the dank, cold Irish winter. His income certainly allowed him to live with Central heating or at worst have the shillings needed to feed the electric meter or gas box. Will never for a minute believe he was feeding peat bog slices into the stove to keep warm.

PD, there is a vigorous debate going on within me to part with the CD for MLAR with the compiling completest on one shoulder blade and the critic on the other having an animated discussion. Depending on who wins I am leaning to PMing you for an address to send it off should you be so inclined to receive the album in CD form. I know you will give it a good home in the western provinces of Canada should it make its way into the post, being the good obsessive that you are.
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Re: "In time we can turn these obsessions into careers"MLAR2

Postby johnfoyle » Tue Mar 15, 2011 5:16 pm

MLAR was the soundrack to the summer of 1991 that I was , for hopefully the only time , unemployed. I saw and hated one of the London shows. I had booked and paid for the trip before I lost my job but spent it worrying what the hell I was going to do with myself. The sound was terrible and the venue was a sweatbox. My life got worked out in the end but the album will always have that association.

Of the songs I like How To Be Dumb and So Like Candy. All Grown Up is alright but was bettered by the Tasmin Archer cover. Couldn't Call it Unexpected no.4 only came in to its own when Elvis started doing the more basic arrangement.

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Re: "In time we can turn these obsessions into careers"MLAR2

Postby Jack of All Parades » Tue Mar 15, 2011 5:53 pm

John, in hindsight, I suspect that album may well have the same associations for EC given the turmoil in his life at that time, just like you. May very well be reflected in the seeming consensus amongst other posters of their dislike for those shows.
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Re: "In time we can turn these obsessions into careers"MLAR2

Postby Poor Deportee » Tue Mar 15, 2011 8:30 pm

Christopher Sjoholm wrote:History- no I didn't like the songs any better during the tour that supported that album. As noted by other posters on this thread- that tour was disappointing. EC did have a sour demeanor while performing and it perhaps carried into the songs as I listened to them. His performance that I saw was most disappointing, quite desultory. In retrospect that tour was my least favorite of all the shows I have seen over the years.

I too loved the beard and hair-the mad-Russian look. Never did buy the line from the Rhino notes that he grew it to escape the dank, cold Irish winter. His income certainly allowed him to live with Central heating or at worst have the shillings needed to feed the electric meter or gas box. Will never for a minute believe he was feeding peat bog slices into the stove to keep warm.

PD, there is a vigorous debate going on within me to part with the CD for MLAR with the compiling completest on one shoulder blade and the critic on the other having an animated discussion. Depending on who wins I am leaning to PMing you for an address to send it off should you be so inclined to receive the album in CD form. I know you will give it a good home in the western provinces of Canada should it make its way into the post, being the good obsessive that you are.


Go critic go! :lol: Seriously, that's a kind thought, Chris. I appreciate the gesture even if remains only hypothetical. :wink:
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Re: "In time we can turn these obsessions into careers"MLAR2

Postby docinwestchester » Tue Mar 15, 2011 11:04 pm

Really nice performance on SNL. G.E. Smith adds a lot to the overall sound.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m8kxgrZB ... r_embedded

I can't find any video of the other song he did that night (The Other Side Of Summer), but he sure looks damn crazy with his hair down and that hat on:

Image

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Re: "In time we can turn these obsessions into careers"MLAR2

Postby alexv » Tue Mar 15, 2011 11:50 pm

christopher, you are right about PLU. That's another album closer fitting the same optimistic theme. He gets tagged with the wildly eclectic label, and the whole misanthropic thing, but in the end he chooses, again and again, to go with the conservative, almost old-fashioned approach ending the records on the upbeat note.

I too don't see a connection between MLAR negativity and The Beard. I think he looks ok on the cover with the glasses, and he had the beard and crown on KOA. That record is a favorite for just about everybody, even for cranky MLAR haters.

I always associate MLAR with Spike, in the same way KOA and BAC seem to go hand in hand for me. And like BAC when compared to KOA, MLAR suffers for me in comparison with BAC. It's almost as if the second record in each sequence suffers from the effort and scope of the first record. I think each is a fine record, mind you. Just not up to the caliber of the bookends.

But in retrospect, MLAR's significance is probably that it really was his last truly mainstream, big record company attempt at hitting the big leagues. Didn't the New Yorker article go into that, or was he talking about Spike? I can't remember. After this it was Juliet and then the covers, the half-hearted reunion on BY (although I love that record) and then it's been all-over the place, with each record getting smaller and smaller, in the big picture. Not here though, in our cozy group of opinionated EC lovers. I'll put up PFM and NR against any record you want to name during the period and won't give an inch. Come on, Christopher, write an essay dissing PFM or NR, and I will go medieval on your ass.

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Re: "In time we can turn these obsessions into careers"MLAR2

Postby Jack of All Parades » Wed Mar 16, 2011 6:51 am

Alex- already posted on PFM as you can see- a quite wonderful record-

"I have wanted to revisit this album for some time so it seems appropriate to revive this old thread, particularly as it pertains to one of my favorite EC records. There are two poems by Emily Dickinson that catch how I most feel when listening to the music on the record:

"Remorse- is memory- awake-
Her Parties all astir-
A Presence of Departed Acts-
At window- and at Door-

It's Past- set down before the Soul
and lighted with a match-
Perusal-to facilitate-
And help Belief to stretch-

Remorse is cureless,- the Disease
Not even God -can heal-
For 'tis His institution-and-
The Adequate of Hell-"

and this one-

"The Heart asks Pleasure- first-
and then- excuse from Pain-
and then- those little anodynes
That deaden suffering-

And then- to go to sleep-
And then- if it should be
The will of it's Inquisitor,
The priviledge to die-"

I have always thought that this album comes closest in contemporary music to the pain and anger generated by Richard and Linda Thompson's "Shoot Out the Lights" and that it fits quite nicely in the grander tradition of 'remorse' albums like Billie Holliday's "Lady in Satin" and Abbey Lincoln's "Affair", both exemplars of this genre.

The protagonist in this song cycle is wallowing in his pain and anger and to keep it fresh he needs to hide in 'darkness' much like Shakespeare's Caliban constantly refueling his despair and spite. I like the consistent play in the songs of lightness and darkness; the self inflicted torture that the singer punishes himself with in individual pieces. Regret is palpable and the wrestling match it plays on the conscience[the sense of wrong] is a struggle for the singer.

I like that EC broke his writing direction and deconstructed his typical lyric approach with its loaded word play and instead concentrated on lyrics that are essentially emotionally bare lyrics. I love that this album is the opposite of so many of his efforts; as the lyrics become barer, the music becomes lusher, more melodic and memorable. It also helps that his vocal abilities have matured so that the feelings of jealousy and obsessiveness are emotionally transferred to listeners by the controlled tonal quality of the voice- there is an allure in 'wallowing' in his pain and heartbreak. There is a marked effective usage of the strain in his voice to add depth to these feelings. Too often I have previously read on other threads the cliche that there is a 'novel' told in these lines or lyrics. What is a cliche elsewhere is true here.

EC, working with Burt Bacharach, has composed beautifully simple melodic motifs that are then skillfully punctuated with horns and strings. The backup singers act as an effective interlocutory chorus as they pop in and out acting as the 'conscious' of individual songs. There is not a song on this record that I would want left off or that I skip when I play it. I particularly like the self castigation in the refrain of "This House is Empty Now". The conceit that as the home is an empty shell, so too is the heart. The constant attempt by the singer to rationalize through memory with its fallibility " it's funny how my mem'ry will bring you so close then make you disappear." The notion in "Toledo" that we too often lose the origins of things like Toledo's namesake in memory and are left with faux memories the 'Florence, Alabama' and not the 'Paris' and 'Rome' we would like to think we had. Every song on this album is filled with such an inner dialogue of pain and remorse and I like that. The conceit of a boxing match in the song "The Sweetest Punch" and of being TKO'd is wonderfully executed and the arrangement so beautifully enhances the effect with the angelic bells. These are only a few examples of the pleasures this album provides as it timelessly works word and melody to make its points.

"Painted From Memory" is the last EC album I loved unequivocally. I remember the pleasure I experienced in Radio City Music Hall when EC and Burt performed the album with a full orchestra. A memorable concert for me and always a favorite. I firmly think this album deserves high marks for execution and for the sheer 'fun' and 'thoughtfulness' it has provided for me over the years and through numerous listens. It is firmly in my top 5 of EC's albums.

As a postscript, have always thought that the hat EC wore for the cover shot is one great hat. It is quite the sartorial statement. One of the best I have ever seen him wear. The inner sleeve color photo where the two look full on into the camera is quite good as well and I think catches visually the creative dynamic these two brought to the project."

My thoughts on National Ransom are spewed through various threads and all for the most part most positive as I know you know- go medieval on me- it just will not happen because of those two marvelous albums.

PD- the critic is winning- check the post!
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Re: "In time we can turn these obsessions into careers"MLAR2

Postby Poor Deportee » Wed Mar 16, 2011 2:14 pm

I'm at a disadvantage because I'm 'painting from memory,' so to speak. But Christopher, to get back to MLAR and your inner critic, are you *sure* the critic deserves to be winning? I ask because giving away the album seems a drastic step suggesting that it's a debacle with few or no redeeming qualities. But surely there are songs worth keeping on there?

-'Couldn't Call it Unexpected' - in addition to being one of the more wittily-titled songs about death, it combines a fine lyric with a stirring melody and a Salvation Army band. Three pluses there.

-'So Like Candy' - a pop song in the classic sense. Moody, baroque production enhances the proceedings. Kind of a hallucinatory extension of an early Beatles' album. Worth keeping, surely?

-'After the Fall' - a brooding, sophisticated examination of doomed lovers. 'You were sharp an ideal as a bobby-pin/now your eyes are deserted and quiet/we both look like those poor shattered mannequins/thrown through the window in the riot' is powerful and evocative (notice that mannequins are still dead even before being smashed); and while 'she lies to his right' is a cheap rhyme, the rest - 'she carelessy recites/all of her brand-new appetites' is one of those corruscating EC lines that harbours the awful truth. Dark, yes; bad? Surely not?

-'Harpies Bizarre' - a fey track breaking no new lyrical ground but bringing quite a nice melody. The instrumentation might be a distraction (it has to be taken in the over-the-top spirit of the record) but at heart it's an appealing pop construction. The rise and fall of the chorus is very effective, I always thought.

-'All Grown Up' - OK, pretty bad vocal and the instrumentation isn't to everyone's taste. But in many ways this one of EC's more interesting compositions: a really withering look at adolescent hubris and what becomes of it, it's simulaneously brutal ('if all of his life has been such a big disappointment to you...go give the next one a try') and almost compassionate (the tones of small tragedy in the last verse). Anyone who has ever been annoyed by know-it-all youngsters, and yet also empathized with them and their struggles, will relate to the ambiguous sentiments expressed here. At 21, I hated this song. 20 years later I appreciate EC's gumption for writing a song that has to rate as dramatically subversive of the youth-oriented sentimant that grounds the entire tradition of rock and roll. It deserves reconsideration IMHO.

-'Other Side of Summer' - not as fun as it needs to be (it's bogged down a bit by the production) but still fun enough. I never liked the 'kiss goodbye to the earth' line; too obvious to me. Still: entertaining pop.

All told, then, there's good stuff here. Or so it seems to me.
When man has destroyed what he thinks he owns

I hope no living thing cries over his bones

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Re: "In time we can turn these obsessions into careers"MLAR2

Postby Emotional Toothpaste » Wed Mar 16, 2011 3:38 pm

MLAR is probably one of my least listened to as well. Too many clunkers among the gems. Almost like National Ransom in that way, or Spike which is more of the same time period. The beard was a very strange period. Almost reminds me of Joaquin Phoenix and his fake rock star foray.

So Like Candy is good, but I also like Georgie and her Rival, and parts of Playboy to a Man.

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Re: "In time we can turn these obsessions into careers"MLAR2

Postby Jack of All Parades » Wed Mar 16, 2011 5:10 pm

PD- you eloquently make some great points- never did dispute the quality of "Summer" and "Couldn't Call it Unexpected #4" and as I said love "Just Another Memory and the demo of "Sweet Pear". My 'tainted' memory seems to recall stating that "After The Fall" was one of my 35 favorite EC songs. Just did not like the way it came out in the production. "Harpies Bizarre" is difficult for me to listen to despite the buried melody. The rest I can do without. Perhaps there are enough songs to merit its staying in the collection.
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