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270: Laura Nyro, ‘Stoney End’ (Seattle Bootleg, 1971)

What her first album should have sounded like–
The unique, divine Laura Nyro.

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095: Derek & The Dominos, ‘Little Wing’ (Jimi Hendrix)

One doesn’t usually go to Hendrix for his songs, rather for his disassembly of world order. However, ‘Little Wing’, is on jelly bread of a song, inspiring oodles of admirable covers, most notably Derek & The Dominos’ rapturous amalgam of 1967 Haight-Ashbury, ephemeral bliss with the very corporeal guitars of Eric Clapton and Duane Allman.

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269: Brian Wilson, ‘Sandy’/’Sherri She Needs Me’/’She Says That She Needs Me’

When dinosaurs roamed the earth…
Three versions of an obscure Brian Wilson gem–impossibly brilliant, impossibly stupid, indelibly engraved in my heart and soul.

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268: Damien Rice, ‘The Blower’s Daughter’ (Natalie Portman’s Aunt)

This week we’re talking about aunts and uncles and nieces and nephews, and why Leslie Stevens will always be the most beautiful girl in the world, even more beautiful than her niece Natalie Portman.

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086: ‘Different Trains’, Steve Reich (Kronos Quartet)

SoTW takes a look at Minimalism and composer Steve Reich’s ‘Different Trains’, a three-movement piece for string quartet and tape (1988).
Reich uses recorded spoken phrases of his governess, a retired Pullman porter, and various Holocaust survivors interlaid with the astounding Kronos Quartet to contrast his childhood memories of train journeys between New York and California in 1939–1941 (he traveled between his separated parents) with the very different trains being used to transport contemporaneous European children to their deaths under Nazi rule.
This is difficult, challenging music, but is said to have “earned Reich a place among the great composers of the 20th century”.

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267: Boz Scaggs, ‘Lowdown’ (“Fade Into Light”)

It’s been almost 50 years since I’ve listened to Boz Scaggs, and now I can’t stop.
What a singer. What a musician. What a cool guy.
Intelligent entertainment–a rarity.

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266: Vertical Voices, ‘The Cry and The Smile’

Tracking my circuitous, tenuously coherent musical route, my Streaming of Consciousness from the previous fortnight. What connects it all?
The human voice. The only instrument fashioned by God.

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081: Maria Schneider, ‘The Pretty Road’

Maria Schneider’s music has been called “evocative, majestic, magical, heart-stoppingly gorgeous.” It defies genre-categorization. In format, it’s standard Big Band, but the music exhibits a symphonic palette, broad and complex and rich and intriguing. Her compositions are often compared to those of Mahler and Copland. They’re ephemeral, transcendental and melodic, often simultaneously. Not impressionistic, but carefully thought out and planned and considered. Incorporating the vast, open, airy Minnesota landscape where she was raised. Thoroughly modern, thoroughly American, thoroughly personal. She’s even been called Nabokovian! A brainy romantic, passionate, an aural aviatrix.

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