Week 40: Alright, Still

Putting on my grumpy old man face: I struggled to summon any enthusiasm to listen to a Lily Allen album this week. To misappropriate a line from a man both older and grumpier than me, she has nothing to say about my life. She occupied a similar space in my mental landscape to the really irritating gobshite who used to get on the bus to school a few stops along from me, and years later ended up appearing on Big Brother.

But, to wheel out that occasional bit-part player in this ongoing project, my internal devil’s advocate, do I really know anything about her? I mean, beyond that she was a bit of a gossip-page favourite?  I mean, I don’t think I’ve ever knowingly listened to her music.  Isn’t the point of this project to go and listen to music that I might never otherwise give the time of day? Might I find I’ve been wrong to dismiss her as a kind of singing Kardashian, a loudmouthed media irritant, all these years?

Well, having listened to her debut record a few times over the last week, I think I was wrong. And yet, sort of right, at the same time. Alright, Still is inoffensive. I wouldn’t rush to turn the radio off if it came on. But on the other hand, to steal a food metaphor, it kind of went down without even touching the sides. I had it on in the background while packing stuff into boxes and now that I’m trying to write this piece in a cafe on my spotify-less laptop, I’m honestly struggling to remember any of it. It left only the vaguest impression – of a kind of cheerfully inconsequential ska-influenced pop that sounds like a kind of descendent of a lot of the stuff I used to hear when I was listening to the top 40 show in my bedroom as a kid in the 1980s.

So, um, there’s a song about how she’s not going to give her phone number to some dodgy guy in a nightclub, there’s a song about how great it is to live in London which is followed with what may or may not be knowing irony, with a song about how expensive everything is, and specifically how she can’t get a mortgage (well bugger me, you’re 21 and living in London. Of course you can’t. Well, if you leave to one side the question of being the famous pop star daughter of a famous 80s actor. Home ownership was an aspect of adult life that I didn’t succumb to until I was in my late 30s) And, um, some of the stuff that has Greg Kurstin on the co-writing credits was sort of catchy and, um, that’s about it.

And so after nine months, I feel like I’ve finally been defeated by an album of the week. Listening to Alright, Still I  I just don’t have anything whatsoever to say about it.

Highlights: Um, maybe Not Big, Alfie, perhaps?  None of it really stayed with me.

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Week 39: The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill

I’m afraid I’m going to get a bit meta on you this week. Last week, a friend sent me a link to a Steven Pinker lecture about writing style, in which he decried the ‘postmodern style’, popular in academia, in which the author spends a large portion of their time defending themselves from possible accusations of philosophical naivete about his own enterprise. As he observes, a cookbook written in this style would begin by asking “do eggs really exist?” “is it possible to talk about cooking?”

And in that vein, this week I found myself wondering: Is five days’ listening to a record enough to come to a meaningful judgement about it? Does this exercise actually enable me to arrive at an informed opinion?  If I were to list my favourite records, not all of them made an instant impact on me. Sometimes, they grew on me over a period of weeks, months or even, in one case, years. And I really can’t make up my mind quite what I actually think of this record. Is it really special, or is it just quite a good soul record?

Actually, describing it as a soul record isn’t quite right. There’s certainly a strong soul influence, but it’s really as much a hip-hop or r&b record, and there are more than occasional hints of reggae in there. A kaleidoscope of black American musical styles of the second half of the 20th Century. For all that it is a very different record, it reminded me a little of the late J Dilla’s Donuts which I had on fairly intensive repeat play on Spotify a couple of years back.  Both are in their own ways, all about mashing up different genres and seeing what emerges…

It begins with Lost Ones, which, if this record if a meeting point between hip-hop and soul, is very much the sound of the hip-hop Lauryn Hill staking out her pitch. Angry and dismissive, it may or may not be about her former partner, ‘Fugees’ front-man Wyclef Jean. Nearly 20 years later, it doesn’t sound dated, though it did remind me a little of Kelis’ Caught Out There


One of the things I liked about this record was its variety. And the second track, Ex-Factor (while still appearing to be about settling scores with former lovers) is very much more at the soul end of things, and showcases the fact that Hill has a damned good voice for this sort of thing. There’s a tendency for soul singers either to ruin records with melisma or else to aim for a kind of dull technical perfection. Hill has a voice that is rough-edged enough that this is never a danger, while never falling into the other trap of sounding either flat or raspy.

To Zion, with its Rastafari references, might sound lyrically like it’s influenced by Jamaican reggae, but with guitar virtuoso Carlos Santana appearing as a guest, it’s actually about the closest that Hill gets to writing a straight 70s soul song.

Doo Wop (That Thing) was already familiar to me, having been fairly inescapable on the radio at the time this record came out, but to me, it did sound better than I remember – whether because it makes more sense as a part of an album or because I’m no longer hearing it several times a day on the radio, I don’t know.

So why am I not quite sure what I make of this record? Well, it’s mainly that some of the slower moments, the bits that sound most r&b influenced, just sound a bit dull. It doesn’t help that the album is well over an hour long, and songs like Nothing Even Matters hang around for the best part of 6 minutes. At first, I thought it was just that I couldn’t get with Hill’s slower, more melancholy moments, but it’s not quite that: When It Hurts So Bad is as good a piece of maudlin pop as I can remember having heard in a long time, and benefits from the hints of reggae percussion that are thrown into the soul/r&b mix. And it’s perhaps the best showcase of her vocal range on the whole record.

And the album ends on a couple of mis-steps (though wikipedia suggests this is perhaps unfair as they began life as hidden ‘bonus’ tracks). Her cover of Can’t Take My Eyes Off You adds nothing to the myriad other versions I’ve heard, while after the energy of the album’s first half in particular, Tell Him just sounds rather mopey.

So does it deserve the ‘landmark’ status often attributed to it? I’m not quite sure. As I said at the beginning, five days’ listening isn’t enough for me to make up my mind.  I don’t agree with my flatmate’s take that, while she has a great voice and a top band behind her, he’d rather listen to her cover soul classics than make a concept album about her relationships with god and men.  But, lurking in there, I think he has half a point. For what it’s worth, I’m sure there’s a better, 45 minute album lurking in here. Probably achieved by a mix of judiciously leaving a few songs on the cutting room floor, and editing down many of the rest so as to lop a minute or two off their length.

Highlights:  Lost Ones, Ex-Factor, When it Hurts so Bad, Everything is Everything

Week 38: Freak Out!

Ok, so I’m aware that this is regarded as a cult classic album; one that allmusic.com give 5 stars, that some credit with inventing both art rock and punk. But I don’t like it. It leaves me completely cold. For all that I’d taken the name for this blog from a Frank Zappa line, I’ve not really listened to much of his music – and what little I’ve heard (most recently when Germaine Greer presented a documentary about him on Radio 4) has not much tempted me to investigate further.

It begins with Hungry Freaks, Daddy, which sounds like a less good version of Love, circa Forever Changes with a decidedly irritating vocalist. If its intended as a clever satire on LA ‘turn on, tune in, drop out’ acid culture circa 1965, then it flies over my head. And the same is pretty much true of I Ain’t Got No Heart. Unobjectionable orchestral pop that makes no impact.

And then there’s Who Are The Brain Police, whereupon things take a turn for the strange. On first listen, it seemed kind of funny. Second listen, the joke had worn off. By the third listen, I’ve made up my mind: this is actually quite unpleasant to listen to. A kind of drivel-nightmare, soundtracked by a kazoo solo. Apparently, crusty old rock fans’ go-to magazine, Mojo called it “one of the scariest songs ever to emerge from the rock psyche.” Me, I just found it irritating.

I can sort of get the satire intended by Go Cry on Somebody Else’s Shoulder – which takes the sound of the kind of lovelorn 50s balladry that such as Robson and Jerome made a fortune from exhuming in the mid 1990s and uses it to tell the listener that “I don’t love you anymore”. Personally, I thought Charlie Brooker skewered this sort of thing more effectively with his boyband parody, You’ll do.

Motherly Love might or might not be a kind of Beatles parody (More kazoo. Still not funny) and I’m aware that while moptops would cite this record as a big influence on Sergeant Peppers’, Zappa himself was famously rather dismissive of them. To which I can only say that Sergeant Peppers’ may have been a dumbed down, mainstream version of Freak Out!, but I know which I would rather listen to.

What I’m going to anachonistically call the second site of the record (I’m listening to this on Spotify and in any case, it was a double album, so what I think I actually mean is the first side of the second disc) starts with some of the album’s better moments. Any Way the Wind Blows sounds like exactly the kind of well-crafted pop song that so much of the rest of the record seems so keen to ridicule.  Which makes me wonder?  Why are they spending so much of the rest of the record sneering at the very music that it turns out they’re actually rather good at making.

Towards the end, the album disappears down a hole marked ‘experimentation’. I suppose that, at a stretch, I can sort of see how David Bowie might have listened to It Can’t Happen Here or Return of the Son of Monster Magnet and thought, ‘hey, there’s the kernel of something interesting here’ when working on the Berlin trilogy (and in particular, the second side of Low). But I wouldn’t want to actually listen to it. It’s like the kind of incomprehensible installations you sometimes find in modern art galleries. In much the same way that the complete works of Shakespeare and 50 Shades of Grey would have the same impact on me if I was reading them in Urdu I can’t be sure if this is clever or profound, or just a joke at the listening public’s expense. And I don’t really care.  And as it happens, I’m writing this late at night having come back from seeing The National at the Usher Hall, and the low point of what was generally a good evening, was an eight minute noodly sound collage.  I can’t blame Frank Zappa for that really, but after a week of listening to this record, I’m sort of tempted.

Highlights: I’m not entirely sure there were any… maybe You Didn’t Try to Call Me. Wowie Zowie was ok, but it just made me think I’d much rather be listening to the Pavement album of the same name. Actually, Any Way the Wind Blows is quite good.

Week 37: The Queen is Dead

I was too young to ‘get’ The Smiths at the time. I have a dim memory of being sat in the living room, watching Top of the Pops or some similar such programme, and getting the impression from the presenters that they were meant to be really special, and just finding them baffling. But then The Smiths were not really aiming to impress nine year olds…

Moving forward nearly ten years, a friend recorded me a C90 with The Queen is Dead and Meat Is Murder. Though The Queen is Dead was only ten years old (if that) at the time, I thought of it as a relic from another time. The most famous album by a band whom it appeared were regarded as legendary but some of the older hacks writing for the weekly music press that I read at the time. But a historical curiosity – something I knew was meant to be ‘significant’ but not really of the time. Which is strange, because so much of the Britpop of the time was ripping off elements of the Smiths – whether it be Gene’s vocalist or pretty much everything about Pulp.

Anyway, the sheer familiarity of this record when I played it this week suggests I must have listened to it quite a bit at the time. And yet, I can’t say that it was ever one of my favourite records. I know that a lot of 17 year olds are supposed to have felt like The Smiths and Morrissey were speaking to them personally, that they were a kind of voice of a generation. But I was not one of those 17 year olds. Maybe it was just that I was a grimfaced humourless bastard of a teenager, but I think its mostly because I just didn’t identify with Morrissey.

Talking of which… It’s hard to write about The Smiths without expressing a view, one way or the other, on their outspoken singer. If you were to draw a line between Oscar Wilde and Adrian Mole, there’s no doubt that Morrissey would sit somewhere on it. But quite where, I guess, depends on your personal prejudices. I resisted the temptation to write that line as ‘he clearly thought of himself as a latter-day Oscar Wilde. He was more a re-imagining of Adrian Mole as a pop star’ because while it was a tempting way to start the piece, I don’t think it’s quite true. It’s to miss the edge of comedy running through the Smiths. That Morrissey the miserablist is a joke that you’re invited in on:

So I broke into the palace

With a sponge and a rusty spanner/

She said “Eh, I know you and you cannot sing”/

I said “That’s nothing, you should hear me play piano”.

But over time, after the Smiths, it seems that the Adrian Mole in him came to dominate. Maybe its just that his is an act he’s found harder to pull off the older he’s got, though. It’s hard to listen to The Queen is Dead or Frankly, Mr Shankly and imagine someone so devoid of perspective, so self-important, as latter-day Morrissey. The man who speaks highly of Nigel Farage and suggests that meat farming is worse than the holocaust. Who insists that Penguin publish his autobiography under their Penguin Classic imprint. Did he play the role too long, become his own caricature? To quote Kurt Vonnegut, “We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.”

But to become too obssessed with the Morrissey question is to overlook the fact that its the songs that make this album. If Johnny Marr and Morrissey had never met, would he be anything more than a minor footnote in musical history? A singer who could give a good quote for the weekly music press, backed by four anonymous Sleeperblokes. If Marr had not been in The Smiths, would Morrissey ever have been any more than a precursor to Louise Wener? Actually, that’s being a little unfair on the rhythm section. There’s more going on here than there was on that Sleeper album I can’t remember the name of and can’t quite be bothered looking up. For the most part, they’re just unobtrusive and making sure they don’t get in the way of Morrissey and Marr, but the drums at the beginning of The Queen is Dead are great.

Actually, one of the things that struck me going back to the record is how much I lost listening to it on a rather poorly recorded cassette. Quite possibly it was a copy of a copy of a copy. Or maybe it’s more to the credit of whoever did the re-mastering of the version that is available on Spotify. But any which way, I just don’t remember it sounding this good. The guitar jam in the last minute or so of The Queen is Dead that appears to anticipate that other big Manchester band of the period, The Stone Roses, the fade out an in of album closing Some girls are bigger than others. Come to that, Steven Patrick’s vocals on Frankly, Mr Shankly, which just ooze disdain:

Frankly, Mr Shankly, since you ask/

You are a flatulent pain is the ass”

And the coda to The Boy With a Thorn In His Side is beautiful, and there’s something about the weird childlike backing vocals on Bigmouth that I don’t think I’d really heard before.

What stops this being a great, rather than merely a good album, in my books, is that it is just not consistently good. There is filler. I could happily live without I Know Its Over and Never Had No One Ever just sounds dreary. Where Morrissey’s miserablist act just becomes, well, a bit miserable. I think I’d probably rather listen to a Best Of compilation. Well, I don’t care how many ‘best album’ polls it might have topped but it’s not in my top ten.

Highlights: The Queen is Dead, Frankly Mr Shankly, Bigmouth

Week 36: The Greatest

Another album which takes me back to a specific time in my life, Cat Power’s The Greatest was a frequent soundtrack on the last of several occasions on which I’d taken up running. The effects of what turned out to be multiple sclerosis had made me too much of a liability playing ultimate frisbee and I went through a phase of doing laps of the Meadows. The trouble with running is that it’s a bit dull – it takes too long for the scenery to change. Free exercise tip: cycling’s better. You cover more miles, the scenery changes, and if your running gait is compromised by a recalcitrant nervous system, it doesn’t wreck your knees.

Listening to it again, it doesn’t sound much like running music, but I wasn’t much of a runner Or at least, by my late 20s, in the middle of an MS relapse, I wasn’t much of a runner . At 13 I was the fastest distance runner in my class at school and tried out for the county championships – whereupon I discovered the meaning of the phrase ‘big fish in a small pool’ and realised that things are a bit different when everyone was fastest in their class.

Anyway, to return to the subject in hand, Cat Power’s The Greatest is a kind of lolloping relaxed indie blues. It opens with the title track, The Greatest with its repeated refrain ‘once I wanted to be the greatest’ which has something of a melancholy earworm quality. It is tempting to read something autobiographical into it. The sound of someone with six albums behind her and a modicum of Radio 6 indie success (I don’t recall whether Pitchfork was a thing back then, but it’s the kind of record I could imagine them being fond of), but who nonetheless has come to realise that if it was platinum records and stadium success she was looking for (and I’m not sure that she necessarily ever was) or, for that matter, recording an obscure but critically acclaimed all-time classic that nobody buys but that famous musicians later list on their Baker’s Dozen at The Quietus.


While we’re on the subject of autobiographical songs, Power’s struggles with alcoholism are well enough documented, and Lived In Bars for all the world like someone with a stinking hangover recounting not so much a wild night as a lifetime of drunkenness – “Lived in bars and danced on tables/ Hotels, trains and ships that sail/ We swim with sharks/ And fly with aeroplanes out of here ” In someone else’s hands, it might sound obvious and clumsy, but Power has the voice to pull it off. She manages to sound tired and lugubrious without ever coming across as lazy. She hits the notes. Another song which her voice and song-writing skills cover for lyrical inanity is Moon. “The moon is not only beautiful/ It’s so far away The moon is not only ice-cold/ It is here to stay.”

It does rather benefit from the extra instrumentation – the horns and organ on album closing Love and Communication (the closest thing on the record to an entirely conventional indie-rock song, with just touch more distortion on the electric guitar than elsewhere on the record) , the backing singers on The Greatest (actually, I looked up the album credits, and there aren’t any. I can only assume that Cat Power is recording and multi-tracking herself to create an effect poised somewhere between Memphis and Motown), and the 1920s lounge piano that dominates After it all.

The weakest moments were the rather stripped back Hate (featuring a nod to Nirvana with its refrain of ‘I hate myself and want to die‘) the over-long Willie, an outlier on a record where the songs do not otherwise outstay their welcome, and the repetitive and unimaginative Where is my love. But even they are not terrible – not tracks that had me reaching for the skip button.

For all that it’s not going to change anyone’s life – ok, maybe it will, or it did, but not mine – this is a good record, one I was happy to be reacquainted with. Maybe not my first choice if I was going to go back to ‘my record collection circa 2007 – that would probably be Thea Gilmore’s Rules for Jokers but probably rather this than a lot of other things.  It didn’t make me want to go out and buy new running shoes though.

Highlights: The Greatest, Moon, Love and Communication

Week Thirty Five: Dub Side of the Moon

I think I’ve mentioned before that I’m something of a collector of unlikely cover versions. Not boring melismatic takes on pop classics performed by X-Factor contestants, nor overly reverent note-for-note copies by bands worshipping their childhood idols. But Richard Thompson giving us his take on Oops I Did It Again, La Maison Tellier reimagining Killing In the Name as a blues-folk song, Tori Amos showing us what Smells Like Teen Spirit sounds like on the piano, or Hugo doing 99 Problems in the style of Steve Earle? Now I’m in. Oh, and if anyone can find a recording of Sleeping States’ version of Throwing Muses’ Call Me, please let me know where…
This curiosity had led me to Easy Star All Stars before, but it was their version of Radiohead’s OK Computer, Radiodread, that I used to play in the kitchen. If OK Computer was the Dark Side of The Moon on the 1990s (and isn’t No Surprises effectively a song-length rewrite of a single line from Time: “Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way”) then I suppose it should come as no surprise to me that they had earlier put together a reggae version of the Pink Floyd record, but I think it had slipped my attention.

I wonder if the experience of listening to this record would have been different if I were as intimately familiar with Dark Side of the Moon as with OK Computer. As it is, it’s a record I didn’t stumble on until I was in my mid-20s, and while I remember being struck by Time when I heard it for the first time it’s not a record I played to death. So if the Easy Star All Stars get the mood of a song ‘wrong’ I’m not going to notice it in the same way. And Dark Side of the Moon, while hardly three-chord child’s play music, is not quite as overwhelmingly musically complicated as OK Computer – there’s nothing on it that’s quite as difficult to arrange as the seven minutes of Paranoid Android.

Opening track Breathe actually sounds much as I remember it, in a way that makes me wonder if it secretly began life as a reggae track. In places, I wonder if this album might have worked better if they hadn’t stuck so closely to the sound of the original record. One of the best moments for me was On the Run, which rather than sounding like a reggae song, brought back memories of late 90s drum and bass, or at least the kind of late 90s drum and bass that got daytime radio play. While I can’t pretend to really understand actual drum and bass music, a drum and bass track by a reggae bank covering a Pink Floyd song? That I can get on board with.

On the other hand, their version of Time just doesn’t grab me. I sort of appreciate adding in the crowing cockerel and the alarm clock noise to the ticking clocks at the beginning of the song. But something about the slow, relaxed pace of their version of the song makes me think of it not so much as a tribute but as a parody. On the other hand, the other really well known track on the album, Money works really rather well. Maybe because it’s easier to imagine it as a reggae song in the first place, that while the sense of time passing by too quickly, of wondering where it’s gone and why I haven’t achieved anything with it, feels like a very first world problem, money problems are universal.

Listening to this the thought occurs that prog rock and reggae have more in common from a musical perspective than you might think – that it makes sense to think of this as a record that straddles the the two genres, rather than simply being a ‘reggae version of a prog album’. Now, this comes from someone whose knowledge of reggae is, um, limited (mostly to hearing Lee Scratch Perry records being played very loudly from the terrace two doors down from me when I was sixteen and hearing people playing Bob Marley compilations). After all, both are taking the guitar/drums/bass/vocals format of rock music and adding complexity and texture. Songs like Us and Them and The Great Gig In The Sky, in particular, sound like they’re straddling a line between prog and reggae, keeping one foot in each camp.

I’m not sure that I loved this record, but it’s pleasant background listening. I can imagine going back to it sometime in preference to Radiodread. Because a part of the appeal is simply in the novelty, and it’s still rather new to me.

A footnote: In the course of writing this, I discovered that about seven years ago, they released a re-mix album, Dubber Side of the Moon and for me at least, it was the more bass heavy, droney versions of the songs on this record that worked best. In particular, the rather sinister sounding Alchemist remix of Money and the playful electronica of the Kalbata remix of Any Colour You Like.

Highlights: Breathe, Money, The Great Gig in the Sky

 

Week Thirty Four: Sunday In The Park With George

My first thought was: ‘Oh no, not a musical. I hate musicals.’ But my inner devil’s advocate, never particularly slow off the mark, was soon popping up to make the counter-argument:

“But you used to love Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worlds when you were younger…”

“No. no. That’s not a musical. That’s a rock opera…”

“And the difference between a rock opera and a musical is…”

“Ummm….”

“Never mind. But what about the Little Shop of Horrors?”

“That was just because I was bored on a Sunday afternoon. It was raining. I was thirteen. And I really liked Day of the Triffids.”

“But it was a musical. You enjoyed it.”

“I suppose so…”

“And wasn’t Once More With Feeling one of your favourite episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer?”

“Ah, but that’s different. People weren’t bursting into song for the sake of it. There was actually a reason for it…”

“So your problem with musicals is that people are singing for no good reason?”

“Well, people don’t do they?”

“They do in musicals”

“That’s not the point. It’s just a rubbish form of story-telling”

“So you’re saying you would have liked Sweeney Todd more if it hadn’t been for the singing?”

“Now you mention it…”

“Don’t be stupid. They’re singing because they’re in a musical. Same as if they were making a pop record. Now get on with this week’s album.”

“Ok, ok, I’m on it…”

So I’ve got this difficult relationship with musicals. Although listening to Sunday In The Park With George, I wondered if some of my dislike is specifically of musical films and theatres, that when the singing is not interrupting a spoken-word film or play, my hackles are not raised in the same way.

Instead, listening to this, I wonder if my real barrier to appreciating it is that I struggle to make out exactly what the characters are actually saying. I’ve listened to it three or four times, but if you asked me what it was about, I’d struggle to say beyond “Well, there’s this painter called George. And there’s his life model, can’t remember her name. And he’s a bit obsessed with his work. And I don’t think he payus her much attention. And that’s about it.” Because my hearing, or specifically my ability to discern individual words, isn’t great. The problem is not with the work itself, but with the limited mental and aural capacities of this listener…
So what follows are a series of dotted observations (think of it as a bad pointillist painting that doesn’t form any kind of meaningful image):

Firstly, is this typical of Steven Sondheim’s work? I’m not really familiar with it, what with my musicalphobia, but it does seem a peculiar blend of quite populist, crowd pleasing music and an almost wilfully obscure (at least to this Philistine) subject matter. I don’t think I’d ever heard of Georges Seurat before, far less anything about the story of his life. It seems a strange choice

And another thing. Jenna Russell, who plays Dot (I looked it up on wikipedia) has great range as a singer. She can sound like she’s bashing out a showtune on the opening Sunday in the Park with George but rein it in and sound quite subtle on songs like Color and Light.

Secondly, that track, Color and Light sounds to me like it has elements of what classical music in the 20th century could have sounded like if it hadn’t vanished up a dead end marked ‘experimentation’. But somehow there is simply no way that a big choral song like It’s Hot Up Here can help but remind me of the hell of school choirs, and I just don’t think I will ever be able to learn to stop worrying and love really big showtunes.

On the other hand, I could have really done with more of whoever is singing on Children and Art. She puts me more than a little in mind of Joanna Newsom. And now I think about it, songs like Monkey and Bear are not a million miles away from this kind of musical story-telling tradition.

It is becoming a bit of a recurring theme in this project that I remark at the end that I can appreciate on a technical level what the artist(s) are doing, but it’s not for me. That when the three or four listens are done, I don’t think it is a record I’m likely to revisit. But I’m afraid that’s pretty much where I’ve got to with my introduction to the work of Steven Sondheim.

Highlights: Color and Light, Children and Art, Putting it Together