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Excellent 1 16.67%
Very Good 2 33.33%
Solid 2 33.33%
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Poor 1 16.67%
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Old 03-21-2011, 05:31 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Skeleton Crew - Learn To Talk/Country of Blinds (1990) [SAA Album Club discussion]

Skeleton Crew - Learn To Talk/Country of Blinds (1990)


Let's see what everybody thinks of this album we listened to last week, recommended by Skaligojurah
Quote:
Originally Posted by Skaligojurah View Post
Learn To Talk/Country of Blinds(1990) is technically two albums, but most places you can find/download it offer it as one. If you ask me, it first PERFECTLY as a double album. There's never been a time I've not listened to it as one. Now, in a lot of ways this isn't quite as 'avant-garde' or experimental as many of the albums presented. I mean, it uses mostly guitar, cello, and other conventional instrumentation. But, compositionally, it's by far one of the most interesting things I've ever heard.

Maybe I'm just not knowing of the source, but Skeleton Crew - to me- sounds nothing like anything else on the planet. It's kind of folky but not folk, it's avant-garde but definitely not noisey. There's worlds of Celtic influence, very relatable lyrics of social/politica satire, improv jam sections, tons of sampling, strange vocal patterns.

By far, probably Fred Frith's greatest band/work imo.
So?
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Old 03-21-2011, 07:29 AM   #2 (permalink)
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One of my favorite albums of all time. There's so much variance, little detail, and a massive catalog of influence but somehow it produces a sound that, to the best of my knowledge, can be compared to itself, and enjoyable all the way through.
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Old 03-21-2011, 01:33 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I'm mildly familiar with Fred Firth and have enjoyed some of the other stuff he's been involved with (Maybe Monday springs to mind), but this lacks any of the elegance I found in bands like Henry Cow that actually made me feel engaged in their music. I really like the instrumentation, and they're all over the place with it musically, but it stands still in terms of dynamics. Really didn't feel much differentiation. Though I doubt hearing this album has soured my future of exploring more of Firth's work, and I don't feel like I walked away completely empty-handed.
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Old 03-22-2011, 01:44 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by clutnuckle View Post
I'm mildly familiar with Fred Firth and have enjoyed some of the other stuff he's been involved with (Maybe Monday springs to mind), but this lacks any of the elegance I found in bands like Henry Cow that actually made me feel engaged in their music. I really like the instrumentation, and they're all over the place with it musically, but it stands still in terms of dynamics. Really didn't feel much differentiation. Though I doubt hearing this album has soured my future of exploring more of Firth's work, and I don't feel like I walked away completely empty-handed.
That's an incredibly scathing review. I don't feel it's entirely fair to judge this album on dynamic when it's intended to be as laid back sounding as it is. It makes up for that in it's worlds of intricacy. If anything, it's beautifully strung together, and retains an element of subtlety in it's design that prevent it needing to go all over the place in those traits of timbre(bass, volume, etc) that would denote dynamic. That's where it gets it's elegance.

I'm not trying to tell you that you're wrong. But implore you to give this a deeper listen. There's a lot of information in there. Some you won't catch if you're not keeping your ears into it.
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Terence Hill, as recently confirmed during an interview to an Italian TV talk-show, was offered the role but rejected it because he considered it "too violent". Dustin Hoffman and John Travolta declined the role for the same reason. When Al Pacino was considered for the role of John Rambo, he turned it down when his request that Rambo be more of a madman was rejected.
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Old 03-23-2011, 01:24 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Skaligojurah View Post
That's an incredibly scathing review. I don't feel it's entirely fair to judge this album on dynamic when it's intended to be as laid back sounding as it is. It makes up for that in it's worlds of intricacy. If anything, it's beautifully strung together, and retains an element of subtlety in it's design that prevent it needing to go all over the place in those traits of timbre(bass, volume, etc) that would denote dynamic. That's where it gets it's elegance.

I'm not trying to tell you that you're wrong. But implore you to give this a deeper listen. There's a lot of information in there. Some you won't catch if you're not keeping your ears into it.
Don't really get how it's scathing at all (especially since I ended it on a relatively positive note), but I can see where you're coming from. I do plan to listen to it again (or at least the second album which I did prefer), as I do know that a lot of angular albums take more than the 2-3 listens that I gave this one. I merely wanted to get my two cents in to get the wheels rolling, because this entire project seems to have lost a little energy this week.
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Old 03-23-2011, 01:48 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by clutnuckle View Post
Don't really get how it's scathing at all (especially since I ended it on a relatively positive note), but I can see where you're coming from. I do plan to listen to it again (or at least the second album which I did prefer), as I do know that a lot of angular albums take more than the 2-3 listens that I gave this one. I merely wanted to get my two cents in to get the wheels rolling, because this entire project seems to have lost a little energy this week.
apologies. For some reason I thought you were criticizing it for lacking dynamic.
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Terence Hill, as recently confirmed during an interview to an Italian TV talk-show, was offered the role but rejected it because he considered it "too violent". Dustin Hoffman and John Travolta declined the role for the same reason. When Al Pacino was considered for the role of John Rambo, he turned it down when his request that Rambo be more of a madman was rejected.
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Old 03-23-2011, 01:57 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I've listened to this once and I think I like the second album more. But, to really form an opinion I have to hear it at least two more times. It's a bit confusing with so many songs. So, I'll write something more substantial soon.
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Old 03-25-2011, 05:38 PM   #8 (permalink)
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So I after more careful listens I must say I like both albums much more than I did on the first hearing. I haven't really explored thoroughly Fred Frith's other work aside from Henry Cow and Art Bears, so Skeleton Crew came as a real surprise. I didn't expect it to be so post-punk-ish and quirky. The best thing about it is the overall looseness and humor. But, on the other hand, what still bothers me a bit is a feeling of somewhat forced spontaneity. Skeleton Crew with its very skillful musicians lacks a certain natural bizarreness of some adventurous post-punk bands, like Pere Ubu for example. That said, Skeleton Crew is not exactly post-punk, but I just can't help but feel that spirit.

I've got 1990. version of this compilation and as I understand both albums are missing a song or two. So Learn to Talk with 10 songs here is a more uneven album of the two. I like it more now with two more hearings, but it still feels very disconnected and fragmented. That's not necessarily a bad thing and it's amazing that it's created with only two members (playing many instruments between them). But, for all its looseness there should be some unifying force beneath that I feel is lacking. The perfect example of this is the first song that has excellent parts and sections, but it's not more than the sum of its parts. However, there are a couple of songs that hit the right balance between disconnection and unity like the excellent 'Not My Shoes', 'We're Still Free', a solid 'The Way Things Fall' and especially my favorite, heavy on strings 'Factory Song'. There are some interesting tracks that serve more like abstract passages like 'Victoryville'. Overall, this is an interesting, solid album that I can see myself liking it more with every further listen.

I said I liked The Country of Blinds more. Well, I'm not so sure now. It is definitely more coherent and richer album as they were a trio here. It has more layers and interplay and although the songs are still very off-kilter with a lot of unexpected changes, everything just flows smoother here. It seems like this album is more comfortable in its bizarreness. The songs on both albums seem like they're going to fall apart, but whereas on the first album I felt it was because of the lack of direction, here it looks like a style. I'd like to highlight a few songs: the bizarre opener 'The Country of Blinds', 'Dead Sheep', totally crazy 'Man or Monkey', an excellent 'Foot In Hole' and interesting 'Hot Field' which feels like its loose continuation. I noticed that this album has even more folk elements than the first one.

So why am I not sure if I like the second album more? I just think that The Country of Blinds has more solid songs, but its best moments are not really higher than those high points on Learn to Talk. There is a certain charm in its disjointedness. Not to mention that my favorite song from the whole comp. is from the first album, 'Factory Song'. As for rating the whole thing, two albums as one,...hmm, it's between solid and very good with a potential to rise. I knew I would need more options. Oh well, since I'm in a good mood I'd say it's very good.
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Old 03-27-2011, 07:56 PM   #9 (permalink)
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I know I'm late but could I get a linky for this one? I had a very unproductive day of music hunting today

my desk top is still giving me fits with a hi-jacked browser
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Old 03-28-2011, 10:15 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Better late than never. I'll send you in a minute.

Oh, look at the poll. This is the most divisive album so far.
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