Friday, February 13, 2009

My Morning Jacket and the different sound sydrome

I located another track by My Morning Jacket amongst my CDs.

They were the band that rapidly won me over as support for Neil Young in Sydney recently. Wonderful singing and wonderful guitar work - and I'm saying this as one who could easily be jaded by a lifetime of guitar music.

The two tracks are both from the 2005 album Z; Anytime, and Gideon, the latter of which was played at the gig. But the recorded music gives scant clues to the live feel of the music: uplifting and transfixing. Something that can't easily be squeezed out of a CD.

Honestly, a live band presents an altogether different music experience to a recording. Sometimes both work; sometimes only one does. Take Solomon Burke. His concert was a wonderful communal experience of secular gospel; neither the early or recent music of his that I've heard gives a clue to this. Sonic Youth's recordings give some indication of their live sound, but not the holistic experience. The Church have different virtues live and recorded, some of which certainly overlap; but the best of each are rather different experiences from each other.

There's a song by Shayne Carter (from Straightjacket Fits) and Peter Jeffries called Randolph's going home. In some ways it sounds so rough that you wonder how it could have taken drummer Jeffries ten hours to perfect his work. But in other ways it is a sublime work, a yearning, soaring paean to a dead friend of Carter's. It may have been wonderful live - if it had ever been performed - but it could equally have come out somewhat flat. It's so often hard to tell.

Ideally, the purity of good opera is something that can transcend the medium. But rock music is not the same. You have to take it as it comes, and enjoy the transcendent experiences wherever you find them.

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