Saturday, January 8, 2011

Robert Ashley - Music Word Fire and I Would Do It Again (Coo Coo)

By request, The Lessons, 28 one minute pieces for television derived from songs in The Bank, Part 3 of Perfect Lives (Private Parts) an opera for television. I'm not quite sure how those 28 one minute pieces are extracted from the four tracks here, they aren't included in the opera proper but they do add up to about that duration. This is a strangely seductive album of repetitive chanted phrases over intricate rhythm beds of keyboards and percussion. Each track represents a separate character in the opera. Notable for truly superb prepared piano by Blue Gene Tyranny.

01. Isolde (Marie Isolde)
02. Raoul de Noget (No-Zhay)
03. Buddy
04. The Captain of the Football Team (Donnie)
Music and words by Robert Ashley

Robert Ashley, Jill Kroesen, David Van Tieghem - vocals
John Sanborn added to the Boogie Woogie Chorus
Blue Gene Tyranny - Prepared piano (solos), polymoog, organ, vocoder
Peter Gordon - Arp string ensemble, Prophet 5, vocoder, live processing
David Van Tieghem - drums, synare, vocal percussion

download | vinyl rip | mp3-320 kpbs | 59 mb | scan |


gidouille said...

The Bar, Perfect Lives (Private Parts) Episode 4 - Rodney the bartender meets Buddy the piano player. Vinyl rip @320. This turns out to be a distinctly different performance than in the CD version available as part of the opera. The philosophical rap is identical, but Ashley's phrasing here is less naturalistic, more given to melodic nuance and the instrumental parts are significantly different as well. I think this earlier work is a superior rendering of the material.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much!! I really appreciate this--I wasn't even sure you'd see the request.

The one-minute song from "Music Word Fire" appears in the "Bank" episode of Perfect Lives as a pop song the eloping characters hear on the radio. This album consists of remixes, if you will, of that song--it's like Ashley's weird take on 12-inch dance singles that were all the rage in the 80s.

And I do agree that the earlier vinyl version of The Bar is MUCH better than the finalized version usually available.

I don't know why neither of these have been reissued on CD (when, for example, the "Private Parts" yellow record has). But thanks again!

gidouille said...

Anon, okay that makes sense, but it doesn't appear to explain how this record becomes 28 segments of one minute duration.

Judging by the number of downloads, over 150 within two days, it would seem Lovely is missing out in not reissuing this.

Kyle said...

I GREATLY appreciate The Bar upload. I don't think it's superior to the CD version in the same way that the Private Parts tracks are, but still a gem

Anonymous said...

@Gidouille... If you're into "light" academic reading, there's a doctoral thesis on "Perfect Lives" that includes a section on "The Lessons"... it's by Kevin Holm-Hudson (University of Illinois, 1992) and it's called something like "Music, Text and Image in Robert Ashley's Perfect Lives." I think somewhere it talks about the significance of the 28.

gidouille said...

Thanks to Sylvain Garant for the improved cover scan, and to Lucky for forwarding it to me.

steward said...

Oh my, oh my, oh my goodness THANK YOU! for posting the stand-alone version of The Bar. My vinyl version got dinged up when I lent it to a housemate 30 years ago. I think I've been sending a note to Lovely about once a year for the past decade asking about CD re-issue.

This is a close-up/
an arm/
big muscles gone to seed.
It moves/
first we read/

gidouille said...

You're welcome, Steward. Lovely appears to only release a couple titles a year, so I gather reissuing these is not a big priority for them. There are a number of titles in their back catalog which have never resurfaced, like Ned Sublette's album and George Lewis' Chicago Slow Dance, though I understand the latter will soon be available digitally. It may also be that Ashley doesn't want these standalone versions reissued. Here is the cover scan provided by S. Geraint.

laurent g. said...

oh wow, that sounds interesting! Any move toward another provider would be appreciated… MGPLD being down.

roberth said...

gidouille i agree with you about this album, i have it on cassette. i taped it back in the day when i was still friends with henry kaiser. i told him it was my favorite derek bailey record ( true then and it is still near the top) and he badgered with with many questions which all amounted to "why?". for some reason this memory is very clear. i should of asked him why he was so amaezed that this was my favorite. or didn't he like christine jefferies? but i didn't.