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[The Chasing the Thrill posts chronicle my adventures in trying to capture that ephemeral moment when song and audio fidelity come together into a sound that makes me forget everything else. Mostly it will be my notes on the vinyl that I listen to, but may include some non-vinyl music moments as well. If you’re interested in the set up I use to listen on, here it is.]

Man, if one was looking for a record to listen to while drinking Mezcal as the noises of a warm spring evening creep through open windows, The Greatest would have to be high on the list of good choices.

 

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One of the ways to tell a great musician from a good one is by whom they choose to collaborate with. Chan Marshall’s choices for The Greatest – Memphis musicians Teenie Hodges, Steve Potts, Dave Smith, Rick Steff, Doug Easley, Jim Spake, and Scott Thompson – elevate and compliment Ms. Marshall’s songs without ever over-powering. 1

I love the record. The songs, the playing, the recording, and the feel all shine on vinyl.

In particular, I love the sound of the high hat. Steve Potts is just such a master of the art of pushing the groove by laying back. 2

The Greatest is Cat Power’s best record (so far). On it, Ms. Marshall and this amazing group of musicians capture something hard to capture – something that endures.

8.5 out 10

 

 

 


  1. It’s amazing how Memphis musicians seem to know how to do (or not do) those things better than musicians from most other places. It seems like that particular “Memphis feel” – that was most acutely codified via the Stax House band (Gilbert Caple, Steve Cropper, Donald “Duck” Dunn, Al Jackson, Jr., Wayne Jackson, Booker T. Jones, Curtis Green, Isaac Hayes, Andrew Love, Floyd Newman, Gene “Bowlegs” Mille, David Porter, Lewie Steinberg) – is now almost its own genre.

  2. if you’ve ever heard someone refer to a band being “in the pocket,” and wondered what they meant, give The Greatest a listen.

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A while back I made a promise to try and engage in more random acts of creativity; things get very dark around the Ponderosa when I don’t.

I’ve done OK with this, but I’m certainly not where I want to be in terms of frequency.

I was thinking about why my output hasn’t been what I’ve wanted, and some of it comes down to my damnable Virgo personality of needing to refine things rather than letting them be/go. While I’ve come to be largely OK with this, it does stand in contrast to much of what I preach with respect to getting stuff out there and refining.

What happens is, I’ll start with a sketch of a song or of a…er…sketch, and rather than keep it as just a sketch — a moment — I add layers.

The question is, do these layers really add anything? Isn’t the essence where it’s at?

I think the answer is that, yes, the essence is there…or it isn’t. Refining is not necessarily a bad thing, and, often, is absolutely necessary. But sometimes it’s more necessary to just create, and let the essence be what it is or isn’t.

I think if there’s something there, you’ll come back with a different eye, a different approach, and you’ll refine. If there isn’t something there, coming back to it a billion times won’t get you any closer to the truth.

To that end, I was taking a break from the jaberwocky a bit ago, and came upstairs from my office; the kids were running around in circles (not kidding), and I picked up my guitar. I’m fascinated and obsessed with staccato rhythms on guitar that imply melody, and am always on the hunt for these. A drop D and a capo later, I had the feel of something. I plopped my iPhone with the voice memo app running on my knee and banged it out.

My intention was to use this iPhone recording to just remember the idea of the tune. But then I started thinking of all the layers I would add to it, and it became less about doing something fun and cathartic and more about planning a time when the house would be quiet, the phone wouldn’t be ringing, etc.

Pretty soon I was tired just thinking about it.

So, screw it. Here’s the iPhone recording. Yes, that’s Henry running around in circles talking about monsters. Yes, that’s me breathing. Yes it goes out of time at one point.

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Mouse and Pin Cushion

Once again, I’m honored to use, with her kind permission, one of Kristin Hersh’s amazing photos as the title inspiration.

If you want to hear real songs, head on over to Kristin’s Site; lots of amazing things going on over there.

I hope those of you who read Ye Olde Bloggee don’t mind these little moments of internal contemplation and their collateral manifestations.

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