Occasional Music Post

The other day a friend of mine sent me an email containing links to MP3s of the Cream reunion concert. Great stuff. I went right out the next day and bought the remastered edition of Wheels of Fire and the recently released BBC sessions. I wonder whether the record companies have noticed an increase in worldwide Cream CD sales?
It also turns out there are a lot of bootlegs on the Web of Cream concerts from 67-68 as well. These are really incredible sessions. Cream was one of the best jam bands and no doubt influenced many modern bands. All three of them would start improvising together and just when it seemed like they must be playing as hard as they possibly could, one of them would kick into another gear and the others would respond. I don’t think there’s ever been another band like it, with three top musicians playing together so well. The best thing about the reunion was they didn’t try to recreate the original sound but instead produced an updated edition, jamming together again at their current levels. The guys can still play!
This reminds me of the old discussion I used to have with my college friend, Phil, who was a drummer, about who the best drummers were. Our top three list included Ginger Baker, Keith Moon, and Robert Wyatt. Wyatt may seem like a strange name to have on the list, but just listen to Soft Machine 1 through 4 and you will see what we mean. In those days I was just glad to meet someone else who was a fan.
Today it seems like they’ve issued every possible live Soft Machine recording, whether terrible or not. I have bought almost all of them. Soft Machine was another trio (at least originally) that played incredible jams, so again, every live recording is (in theory anyway) worth having since you get a variation of the tunes and sometimes a completely different interpretation.
This seems to challenge an assertion recently from a New Yorker review of some new books on the effect of recording on music. The main idea is that the availability of a recording device changed forever how musicians play, and how people viewed music. Instead of being a social event that included a human aspect (i.e. enthusiastic playing with mistakes), recording transformed music into something mechanical and either caused musicians to self consciously strive for perfection or add things in the studio that could not be recreated live. And people would not view music as a moment in time to be enjoyed but rather a captured performance to be played over and over.
Among the statements in the article is that live music has suffered because of a decline in spontaneity, although Ross does admit the same isn’t true for pop music, as is so much in evidence on the Cream and Soft Machine recordings.

2 responses to “Occasional Music Post

  1. Soft Machine “Moon in June” Chords Analysis

    The Soft Machine
    Today (a day of June, 2005), I analyze cord progressions of ‘Moon in June’. This tune is performed by Soft Machine , written by Robert Wyatt in 1970. This suite includes over 25 distinct secti…

  2. Regarding the trackback posted to this entry, I am a huge fan of “Moon in June” and its great to see the lyrics and chord progressions spelled out. Thanks!