Most of my recent music purchases fill gaps in my classical library, e.g., more of Rossini’s “Peches de Vieillesse,” Dohnanyi’s “Variations on a Nursery Song,” etc., but I did buy a few non-classical CDs. The latter were all “good, but…” recordings.
Liquid Tension Experiment 3 is similar to the first two, even though it was recorded over twenty years after its immediate predecessor. LTE’s version of “Rhapsody in Blue” works better than I expected and is worth hearing if you’ve ever wondered what a virtuosic progressive rock quartet can do with Gershwin’s approximation of the blues. The rest of the album is very good — Petrucci et al are superb musicians — but it’s nothing you haven’t heard before.
Ozric Tentacles’ Space for the Earth is more neo-psychedelic guitar- and synth-driven space rock. Ed Wynne has been doing this sort of stuff for about forty years now, and this one is much the same as its many predecessors. It’s quite listenable — Wynne belongs high on any list of underrated guitarists — and you don’t need trendy chemical amusement aid to enjoy it, but their earlier recordings are livelier and more of a group effort.
The reconstituted Gryphon’s Get Out of My Father’s Car is much like Reinvention: mostly progressive folk, but expect anything from Renaissance-style dances to moderately-hard rock, with lots of flutes and recorders, bassoons and krumhorns, harpsichords and fiddles and golf umbrellas, all expertly played.1 When the the players keep their mouths shut, it’s very good. Unfortunately, there are vocals on a few of the tunes.
I picked up a bunch of the later P.D.Q. Bach recordings on the Telarc label. Peter Schickele is a second-rate comedian2 but a first-rate musician, and when he shuts up and lets the music make the jokes he’s often clever and ingenious. Overall, these are more polished and better recorded than the old Verve LPs, but less interesting. My favorite of the later works is “The Short-Tempered Clavier: Preludes and Fugues in all the Major and Minor Keys Except for the Really Hard Ones (S. easy as 3.14159265),” in which the themes and fugue subjects are all over-familiar melodies such as “Mary Had a Little Lamb” and “Shave and a Haircut.” One of the fugues combines the “B-A-C-H” motif with “For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow.” Suggestion for a piano recital: open with a suite of incidental music to Dudley Do-Right, and follow it with “The Short-Tempered Clavier.”
(Gee, it seems that everyone I listen to is getting old and tired. I suppose I should find energetic new artists to follow, but I no longer have the patience to wade through all crap out there to find what’s good. (This is not a call for recommendations, thank you.) There’s also the fact that human nature changed again at the turn of the century,3 and the culture has become not just stupid but alien.)