In praise of Momofuku

Pretty self-explanatory
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A rope leash
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In praise of Momofuku

Postby A rope leash » Tue Mar 22, 2011 11:17 am

I purchased Momofuku when it was first released, and have since given the CD away to a good friend who knew what to do with it. It's been a rough couple of years for me.

No, really...more ike a rough 5ive years.

I froze my ass off this winter, living in a small borrowed recreational vehicle parked up front on the old family farm. Yeah, I had to rent my house out. I was lucky the bank didn't take it. Anyway, I'm working in the cable television industry again, getting screwed royally just like the customers. So, I lived in the shop for a while until I was able to get this RV.

Hey, I can't afford to drink much anymore, nor can I purchase marijuana, nor will the corporation allow my fluids to contain it's metabolytes. I am able to spend a little money on used CDs and toy cars, so that's why I went into Hasting's a few weeks ago with the remainder of my paycheck.

I had recieved National Ransom as a Christmas gift from my niece, who thinks I'm as wierd as Elvis himself. I must say that it took a while for me to get into it, but as it is with all Elvis, it eventually got under my skin. Well, I was a little surprised to see it in the rack at Hasting's with a price of sixteen bucks, and even more surprised to see a new copy of Momofuku with a price of just seven bucks.

Come on. Momofuku is Elvis at his versatile best. Who else starts a record with not one but two three-chord anthems? Then, it's off to wherever Elvis feels it's worthy to go...but he never dives off into somewhere we can't relate to, as he has with some of his other recent offerings. I really dig the way he harks back to his earlier years...the Radio Radio organ work on American Gangster Time, and the lyrical references that sound like songs from way back...do I hear once again something about "barely dancing girls"? Vintage wines?

...and the back-up vocals. This is something that's really cool on this record and something I don't think Elvis really does a lot of, and when he does do it, it's usually him backing up himself on the recording. The girls backing him up on Harry Worth are absolutely right on...and this whole record is one of the best sing-alongs from Elvis in quite a while. At least it seems so after a couple of quarts of beer.

Well, technically, I don't know what the Hell I'm talking about, but for me, Momofuku is Elvis' best release of recent years. Apparently, it is also quite a bargain.



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It's a fine one, just like me...

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Top balcony
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Re: In praise of Momofuku

Postby Top balcony » Tue Mar 22, 2011 2:52 pm

[Love the House vid]

Funnily enough I never really fell for Momofuku. Nothing to object to (see North and to a lesser extent Painted +Juliet for recordings which fail to raise my pulse ).

It just feels like it was a put- together- overnight recording which has few songs which will stand the test of time and feature in the live repertoire. My outlook may have been coloured by the absence of any UK tour to promote the recording, but I don't think so.

However I did like the LP sleeve and loved the idea ( sadly not delivered on) that this was to be a vinyl only release.

Colin Top Balcony

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Jeremy Dylan
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Re: In praise of Momofuku

Postby Jeremy Dylan » Tue Mar 22, 2011 4:17 pm

I love Momofuku. It's a total groove record, and I love the production on it, with real rich piano tones and crunchy in your face Telecasters. Jenny Lewis is the perfect female foil to EC as a harmonist and hearing Tennessee Thomas duet with her Dad on four tracks is just plain heartwarming.

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A rope leash
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Re: In praise of Momofuku

Postby A rope leash » Tue Mar 22, 2011 4:35 pm

I think a vinyl-only release would have been unfortunate, but also appropriate, because...to me...the recording harkens back to the early Elvis years. It has some of the raw vitriol of the first two and a half years, and also some of the cool songsmithing of albums like Imperial Bedroom. Yet, still...the themes are mostly modern...

It may be just thrown-together mixture of thrown-away songs done up very quickly with various errors intact...but this recording is more "old-school Elvis" than almost anything he's done this past decade.

Or maybe not. I guess I just likes it.

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Lester Burnham
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Re: In praise of Momofuku

Postby Lester Burnham » Tue Mar 22, 2011 7:23 pm

When this album came out, I was living on my own for the first time – I had just bought a house, and I was 24 years old. (I commuted to and from school, and saved up!) I was making decent money, and when I saw that EC was releasing Momofuku as a vinyl-only release, I decided now was the time to get one of those fancy USB vinyl players, so that I could listen to the damn thing.

The day the LP arrived, I laid on my couch and listened to it, letting the music wash over me. This wasn't the first new EC album released since I became a fan; that was North. (I'd bought When I Was Cruel the day of its release, but only because EC seemed like an artist I "should" like. I became a fan later that year.) But I was so impressed with everything about the album: the quick turnaround, the simplicity of the songs... everything.

That night, I got a call from my mom. The company we both worked for as book designers was sending all of its work overseas effective immediately, leaving its valuable employees in the lurch. I was 24 and unemployed, the first time this had ever happened to me – but not the last. As the months wore on and employment never came, I had to tuck my tail between my legs and move back home – a miserable defeat. I had declared my autonomy and, nine short months later, had it wrested back from me.

The night I was laid off, I went down to Delaware to visit some friends and drink my problems away. The entire time, I had Momofuku in my head, and it became my soundtrack of the spring and summer of 2008, along with a handful of other albums: She & Him Volume 1, Rilo Kiley's The Execution Of All Things, Marillion's Misplaced Childhood, Neil Young's Rust Never Sleeps, and Nick Cave's Abattoir Blues / The Lyre Of Orpheus. I still listen to Momofuku and am transported back to that troubled period of my life and how it was one of a few albums that got me through, that served as a mindless escape from the pressures of reality, that was the soundtrack to one of the worst years of my life, so naturally I should hate that album, but I associate only positivity with it and all the good things it brought to me.

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Good times, bad times...I've had my share...

Postby A rope leash » Tue Mar 22, 2011 9:05 pm

You know, I was going through a particularily bad time when I first heard Momofuku.

It's all been pretty rough lately, but at the time I first purchased it, my gal was on her way out. For some reason the recording wasn't really gelling like I thought it should. I just wasn't getting into it.

Then, one weekend, I started "getting it". My gal came over to get some of her stuff, and wound up having a few drinks with me. I practically sang the whole album that night. I can remember saying, when Harry Worth came on..."this fucking song is awesome!"

Of course...it is. I mean, who else but Elvis writes a song like that? Who else could?

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Re: In praise of Momofuku

Postby jmm » Tue Mar 22, 2011 9:23 pm

I liked it when it came out and still do now

For anyone willing to give it a try who hasn't yet Amazon US has the CD for the bargin price of $4.91!!!

http://www.amazon.com/Momofuku-Elvis-Co ... 850&sr=8-1

It pairs very nicely with Jenny Lewis' Acid Tounge album too
I too am a limited, primitive kind of man

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Jeremy Dylan
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Re: In praise of Momofuku

Postby Jeremy Dylan » Tue Mar 22, 2011 10:56 pm

jmm wrote:It pairs very nicely with Jenny Lewis' Acid Tounge album too

They're almost like two discs of a double album in a way. They sing on each other's records and share a lot of the same players - Davey, Tennessee, etc. Same producer too. Both wonderful albums.

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Re: In praise of Momofuku

Postby Poor Deportee » Wed Mar 23, 2011 12:01 am

I quite like Momofuku. The idea of an 'old-school' sound for Elvis has no particular appeal (or lack of appeal) for me - it's more that I like (good) pop music and I like albums that are just unpretentious collections of songs about this and that, not defined by a particular overmastering 'concept' or theme. The spontaneity of the record is another plus, and as others have said, the backing vocals add a great element. (I love the falsetto fade on 'Hiding Place'...'oooo....AAAAhhhh!') To me, this record is the sound of EC getting (mostly) out of his own way. Which is something he's had considerable trouble doing since his heyday.

Still, it has its limitations. To this day I'm not sure whether or not I like 'Turpentine,' for instance. More to the point, 'American Gangster Time' makes me wince - EC's most egregious slip into unintentional self-parody - while 'Hiding Place' combines a ferocious pre-chorus with what might just be Elvis's feeblest chorus lyrically. Despite the obvious significance he attaches to it, 'Eve' does little for me, and while 'Go Away' has a wonderful groove, there's something wrong with that track - it never achieves lift-off somehow, stagnating instead of exploding.

Highlights? Well, there's the polished, worldly 'Harry Worth;' of course the mighty 'Stella' - that two-chord miracle - and 'Mr. Feathers,' which I idiosyncratically rate as one my all-time favourite EC tracks for the dire sordidness of the tale, so incisively told to that wonderful cabaret melody. (I always see EC as the true inheritor of The Beatles' legacy, and this song repays that debt in spades, combining the pure lyrical jaundice of Lennon with the musical dexterity of McCartney). 'My Three Sons,' while no great work of art, is touching.

As a fan of the 'random collection of song' approach to albums, if EC were to make nothing but Momofukus from here on in, I wouldn't complain too loudly. Fun stuff. Then again, it's no National Ransom.
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Re: In praise of Momofuku

Postby sheeptotheslaughter » Wed Mar 23, 2011 2:19 am

Probably my favourite Elvis album of the noughties. I know 'my three sons' is a bit soppy (and I am the opposite I have three daughters) but I always thought with a bit of airplay that could have been a hit somewhere along the line.(maybe an Xmas single) There must be parents out there of three sons who would have bought it even if you were not an Elvis fan.

Momo is not dragged out too long and less of the tuneless melodies Elvis has recorded in recent years.

I do like it because it is a bit more like the old Elvis that I fell in love with. Probably the one I go back to the most of the recent work. (Sadly National Ransom is dealt an unfair deal here as I have no room to put it on my ipod and the laptop charger is broke, and I need an external hard drive which I just cant afford at the moment so NR might win the album of the noughties if that were the case.)

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Re: In praise of Momofuku

Postby the_roofdog » Wed Mar 23, 2011 7:16 am

I bought this the day it came out but I must admit I barely listened to it. Seemed a very low-key release at the time, I only knew it was coming out when Mark Lamarr played a track off it 2 days before its release. This thread has convinced me to dig it out and go back to it.

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Re: In praise of Momofuku

Postby alexv » Wed Mar 23, 2011 12:05 pm

Momofuku time.

But first, Rope, I’m telling you man, you should give up cable TV, drink and marijuana and do some serious writing. Not that you can’t write while high, or drunk or doing TV work, but I’m a conservative kind of guy and assume it would be harder. That summary of your troubles is priceless. You have a way of making troubled times seem almost fun. I’m not making light of the stuff you’ve gone through. Let’s get that clear. Just saying you have a breezy writing style that’s easy on the eyes, and a lot of fun to read. Good luck to you.

Now, let’s talk about EC. I like Momofuku. I like it better, way better, than RIR, TDM, Profane and WIWC. With the exception of PFM and North (both of which are unusual EC), this was for me his best since BY way back in the mid 90s, a record that Momo has a lot in common with.

Elvis’ natural talents work best when he’s not stuck on some overriding musical theme, going all serious with some new stylistic obsession. Momofuku takes me back to BY, another record done in a rush, with no overarching theme, and featuring just good, old EC pop.

I like a bunch of these songs, a lot. Turpentine, Harry, Drum, and Flutter are for me a flawless sequence. I skip Stella, but then love Sons and Feathers. I skip the Rosie Cash tune and the country collaboration (there you go again, EC on a serious theme kick and the songs, for me, just plod along). Rosanne Cash and Loretta, alone, write better songs, as does EC. And then I like the throw away ender.

Real fun stuff these songs. Feather would have fit in nicely in NR. Flutter is one of his better soulful songs. I think Harry is an EC keeper.” It's not very far from tears to mirth…” is my favorite line on the record. A close second (and a line I often use in real life) is: “I’m a limited, primitive kind of man”. Nice. I too am stumped as to why I like Turpentine. I think it’s a cluttered mess of a song, but the way he sings “back when I was drinking….turpentine” makes the song for me. Go figure. There are two songs I dislike and they are the two opening songs. Gangster Time is a companion piece, for me, to the NR opening song: they both seem like caricature EC, bad caricature.

This record was a breath of fresh air.

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Re: In praise of Momofuku

Postby Jack of All Parades » Wed Mar 23, 2011 4:51 pm

Rope, I will echo Alexv; your prose sings even with chemical enhancement. Best wishes with your recovery. I too have found myself singing to core songs on this album in the past and continue to do so to this day. Quite a few invite direct participation by the listener.

Not my favorite from the last decade but a high light none the less lying below North and National Ransom in regular rotation. Have always thought he benefited from the recording technique he used here assembling his musicians quickly and not trying to overwork the material. It resulted in some very strong pop songs and wasn't sabotaged by an overlying theme. I also liked that he expanded his musical palate and added a female voice to accompany him as his vocals at this late stage in his recording career do not always serve him well-more about that later.

Like No Hiding Place for its unease with today's instant culture.

Abhor American Gangster Time for its rant- something he does consistently and agree with Alex just a poor sister to National Ransom.

Turpentine is okay- some interesting sounds buried in there along with some memorable lines.

Harry Worth- just consistently makes me sad and contemplative. A most powerful lyric coupled with a nice melody.

Drum & Bone just is fun. Nothing earth shattering but consistently holds my attention.

Flutter & Wow- I think one of his better love songs of the last decade. He nails this song.

Stella Hurt- it makes me cringe but I do not turn it off.

Mr. Feathers- equally makes me cringe but for the right reasons as he pins down a despicable character and forever makes the listener revel in the dissection.

My Three Sons- I know it is sentimental but its sentiment is not ladled on the lyric and I have always been touched by the seeming genuine affection he brings to the lyric.

The two country songs I skip- they are derivative and I have never spent much time dissecting them or listening to them.

Go Away- harmless two chord rant which always fails to get me involved with it.

On the whole I have always felt a great core of central pop songs. Wish he would do more albums with this approach and hopefully with the same results.

Now to the singing. As EC has aged his voice has become weaker for me and he too often strains for effect in individual songs. My biggest gripe here is that in the softer songs like My Three Sons or Flutter & Wow I wish he had softened his voice further. I think they would have benefited from that vocal approach, particularly in the choruses.

Last point. I am sure this has been discussed elsewhere but this is the album that made me miss Bruce Thomas's bass line. I am not one of these who mourns for the old days of the Attractions but that rhythm section of Bruce and Steve always had a great deal of fluidity in their playing, an underlying melodic structure that allowed EC to stand out. I do not hear that in this record. The playing is extremely professional but it is also almost sterile and clinical, particularly when it comes to the work of Davey Faragher. It is not a knock on Mr. Faragher: he is a most competent player but it is ultimately boring the sounds coming from his bass. I wish I could find a video of B Movie from Get Happy to back up my concern. There is a tameness in the playing that causes me to miss the fluid, musical line Bruce consistently provided.

Alexv is right the core songs from this album were a breath of fresh air when they appeared in 2008.
"....there's a merry song that starts in 'I' and ends in 'You', as many famous pop songs do....'

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Re: In praise of Momofuku

Postby Hawksmoor » Wed Mar 23, 2011 6:24 pm

A rope leash wrote:Well, technically, I don't know what the Hell I'm talking about.

Not true.
A rope leash wrote:But for me, Momofuku is Elvis' best release of recent years.

True.

:wink:

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Re: In praise of Momofuku

Postby docinwestchester » Wed Mar 23, 2011 7:31 pm

Christopher Sjoholm wrote: Last point. I am sure this has been discussed elsewhere but this is the album that made me miss Bruce Thomas's bass line. I am not one of these who mourns for the old days of the Attractions but that rhythm section of Bruce and Steve always had a great deal of fluidity in their playing, an underlying melodic structure that allowed EC to stand out. I do not hear that in this record. The playing is extremely professional but it is also almost sterile and clinical, particularly when it comes to the work of Davey Faragher. It is not a knock on Mr. Faragher: he is a most competent player but it is ultimately boring the sounds coming from his bass. I wish I could find a video of B Movie from Get Happy to back up my concern. There is a tameness in the playing that causes me to miss the fluid, musical line Bruce consistently provided.


I couldn't find B Movie but this performance of Clowntime Is Over is illustrative. Bruce's interplay with Steve at 1:30 is unreal!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mGdCQ3E7e7w

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Re: In praise of Momofuku

Postby Jeremy Dylan » Wed Mar 23, 2011 8:47 pm

I kind of feel about Bruce Thomas the way I feel about John Entwistle with the Who. Incredible players, and their dynamic with the band can't be replicated, but in both cases I think the correct decision for both Townshend and Costello was made - to go with a less busy, more groove-oriented player who won't try and imitate their predecessors. Also, in both cases, it's opened up the guitar field a bit. Townshend and Costello aren't locked into very limited guitar parts and can stretch out a bit more when they feel the need.
I love Bruce Thomas, but I don't miss him when I listen to the Imposters.

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Re: In praise of Momofuku

Postby A rope leash » Wed Mar 23, 2011 9:03 pm

How can anyone NOT like American Gangster Time?! This is what I'm talking about "old-school Elvis"...a hard banging song with lurid lyrics that has the listener constantly trying to figure it out. One of the highlights of the record, if you ask me.

One of the novelties I've noticed on this record is how so many of the songs wind up sounding completely different from how they started. I note this on Turpentine, a song I love and can really relate to, as well as on My Three Sons and Go Away .

Don't ya just dig the work-it closed-circuit chemical- history-accident-turpentine-combine- eloquent -invent-correspondent-little slide movie wordplay on this recording? I sure do. It makes for a fun sing-along.

...and thanks for complimenting my own wordsmithing. Earth knows that I've been trying to arrange my life so that I can finish the second novel...but...O well...

But, I do get a little bit out once in a while, even without the drink and smoke...

Maybe you'd like a taste?


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Lester Burnham
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Re: In praise of Momofuku

Postby Lester Burnham » Wed Mar 23, 2011 9:50 pm

I'm one of them newbies, A Rope Leash, so forgive my ignorance... you wrote a novel? From one aspiring/tortured/drug-and-booze-riddled writer to another, may I just congratulate you, and ask you what its title is? I'd be happy to throw a few royalty dollars your way, especially if Frank Zappa is mentioned in it!

(Even if not, too.)

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Re: In praise of Momofuku

Postby the_platypus » Thu Mar 24, 2011 12:00 am

Christopher Sjoholm wrote:The two country songs I skip- they are derivative and I have never spent much time dissecting them or listening to them.


There are no country songs in this album. I guess you're referring to "Song With Rose" and "Pardon Me Madam..." which I find really beautiful and not more or less derivative than anything else in the record.

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Re: In praise of Momofuku

Postby Jeremy Dylan » Thu Mar 24, 2011 12:06 am

There are more country songs on MY AIM IS TRUE than there are on MOMOFUKU.

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Re: In praise of Momofuku

Postby seanpointblank » Thu Mar 24, 2011 1:17 am

Not sold on all of the George Jones covers on this record.

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Re: In praise of Momofuku

Postby Jeremy Dylan » Thu Mar 24, 2011 2:07 am

To be fair, I prefer Tammy Wynette's original version of AMERICAN GANGSTER TIME.

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A rope leash
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Re: In praise of Momofuku

Postby A rope leash » Thu Mar 24, 2011 8:43 am

I really, honestly, cannot imagine Tammy singing that song. It truly sounds like an Elvis Costello original...I haven't done my research.

Yes, Mr. Burnham...I wrote an unpublishable novel. I also have a book of poetry, a book of short stories, and a book of essays...all of which cannot be purchased. Why? Because I don't write Franzenesque pabulum!

I guess you could send me some money, though... :wink:

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Re: In praise of Momofuku

Postby Harry Worth » Thu Mar 24, 2011 11:21 am

I put Momofuku up there with some of his best stuff. It gets a monthly outing these days, which is pretty good given the amount of audio product I have at my disposal.

If, in conversation with other mortals my fondness for EC is met with a grimace and a comment that he hasn't done anything any good for ages I recommend Momofuku. In general, those that follow my recommedation are pleasantly surprised.

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Re: In praise of Momofuku

Postby taramasalata » Thu Mar 24, 2011 5:21 pm

the_platypus wrote:There are no country songs in this album. I guess you're referring to "Song With Rose" and "Pardon Me Madam..." which I find really beautiful and not more or less derivative than anything else in the record.


Couldn't agree more! I really wonder how one can dismiss these songs with simply labelling it "country", the more even it makes me wonder since when classifying to a certain music style ought to be a valuable judgement on music.
Especially "Song with Rose" to me is a truly wonderful song, the way the melody is stretching seemingly endlessly throughout the whole song is purely magical! And his singing full witch affection and sentiment accompanied by Steve Nieve's piano playing in Oliver's Army-style matched with the singing and howling of the slide giutars, is marvellous. Among my all-time favourites of Elv.


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