Sunday, April 23, 2006

CD Review: Ani DiFranco's Carnegie Hall .4.6.02

Due to problems with this edition (see roundtable when it goes up later), everyone is pitching in with ideas they had for their own sites. Thanks to Kat for suggesting a musical topic.

Ani DiFranco has a new CD out: Carnegie Hall 4.6.02 which is a live recording, a single disc "official bootleg." (Others can be found at Righteous Babe.) As Ani writes in the linear notes, this was recorded "seven months after 9/11, which in emotional time is more like seven minutes." She dubs it "a feral recording." We'd agree and add "ferocious."

Ani DiFranco is an artist traveling through a land of plastic. One of the key points of any DiFrancio live album is rediscovery. Songs that you heard on a studio album but might not have given their full due, as you focused on the ones that immediately caught your attention, are resurrected on the live albums -- not just brought back to life, but brought back to life stronger.

For us that would include "Serpentine" which showed up earlier on Evolve but had to, for us, stand in the shadow of the amazing title track and "Promised Land." The lyrics to "Serpetine" are included on a fold out and we're not sure if there are additional verses or it's just DiFranco's new take but you will take notice.

Those with So Much Shouting, So Much Laugher (a live double disc set) are familiar with "Self-Evident" -- a powerful poem song grappling with the issues of 9/11. The previously released recording was recorded in Ann Arbor. This one is at Carnegie Hall (hence the title). It's one of her masterworks and she didn't need a few years to begin writing it. (Yeah, we're talking to the fence sitters.)

[. . .] every jack ass newscaster
Was struck dumb and stumbling
Oh my God
And this is unbelievable
And on and on
And I'll tell you what
While we're at it
You can keep the Pentagon
You can keep the propaganda
You can keep each and every TV
That's been trying to convince me
To participate
In some prep-school punk's plan
To perpetuate retribution
Perpetuate retribution
[Cheers and applause]

Along with the fierce, spoken word performance, you get some of Ani DiFranco's best songs. "Educated Guess" remains one of our favorites and it's joined by "Subdivision" (the song they refused to let her play on David Letterman's show) and many others. Long terms fans will feel the excitement rise during the opening chords of "Out of Range."

The album comes with a cover. A photograph. Why is that important? We're huge fans of Tori Amos but we had no desire to pluck down eighty dollars or more for her bootlegs. We're aware that . Hey, at the heart, this site is run by five college students. Where did Tori think we'd get the money for the bootleg packages? (Containing 12 discs.) Those who could afford it, passed as well. C.I. states it would have been a "sure purchase" if Amos had included her cover of Carly Simon's "Boys In The Trees." Kat says, "Who has the time to listen to twelve discs in a row? I love Tori, but I wasn't ready to give my week over to her." Rebecca felt that while the price might be a bargain considering the number of discs, she was embarrassed to even pick it up, "Thinking of how much goes on in the world and someone's releasing a package for that kind of money. I could've afforded it but it really seemed to be putting a squeeze on most of her listeners."

Point? Ani's given you one disc. At an affordable price. It'll rock the room. Plunk down your money and pick it up. You won't have the buyer's remorse Kat had when she purchased Elvis Costello's latest live album, My Flame Burns Blue.

"I saw Elvis, I saw live, and I grabbed it and rushed to the counter," Kat remembers. "I hadn't even gone in for that, didn't know he had anything coming out. I rush home, eager to hear what songs he's reworking, only to discover it's Elvis is in his Rod-Stewart-without-spikey-hair period. For me, it was the most disappointing CD of the year thus far. Elvis goes Big Band. It was bad enough when Brian Setzer did it. I feel like he slaughters 'Watching the Detective' and it's slow, gruesome murder. I keep hoping that if I pick it up in a few months and listen, I'll find something to enjoy but that's not happened yet with one exception. 'God Give Me Strength' finds him performing the song almost, amost, as well as it was performed in the movie Grace of My Heart." (Performed by Kristen Vigard, C.I. notes.)

Ani DiFranco's Carnegie Hall .4.6.02 won't disappoint you or creep you out (you'll love the treatment she gives to "Angry Anymore" here -- including the spoken interlude).
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