Live At Bull Moose
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REGINA SPEKTOR Live At Bull Moose (2006 US exclusive limited edition CD EP featuring 5-tracks captured live at the New England independent record store Bull Moose Records including four previously unreleased recordings. Housed in a picture sleeve - still sealed in hype stickered shrinkwrap)
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It starts off with "Ain't No Cover," which is pretty much all a capella. Spektor sings in her quirky voice of a man she "adores," while a heartbeat plays in the background. Then the piano kicks in with "Carbon Monoxide," a meditative, bittersweet little ballad occasionally interrupted by "walka walka walka walka walk..."
Then it's time for the sprightly, ominous "Pound of Flesh," which makes Spektor sound like a thoughtful imp, and the stately, classical-sounding "Noise." The EP finishes up with "My Man (Medley," a rambling little love ditty that comes full circle back to the opening song. "My man he breaks my heart/he tears me all apart/and he leaves me such a mess/they say I'm cursed/but I am blessed/cause he loves me, he loves me/he really really loves me..."
Regina Spektor is reknowned for her attic-apartment verse and quirky voice, and both are on full display in the "Live At Bull Moose." It's also a top-notch live recording, so that you can almost forget that it IS live, until the audience starts applauding at the end of every song.
Spektor's voice doesn't suffer from lack of studio polish; she sounds basically the same here as she does in her studio albums. She forms soundscapes, riffs and scatting all with her sweet, quirky voice. Her piano playing is nimble and light, and her oddball songs are wonderfully literate and strange: "Ezra Pound sat upon my bed/asked me which books as of late I have read/Asked me if I've read his own,/And whether I could spare a pound/Of flesh/To cover his bare bones."
Anyone who enjoys Spektor's delightful antifolk works is sure to want "Live At Bull Moose" to round out their collection. A lovely little live performance, and shows that she is a magnificent musician in and out of the studio.
The only "flaw" is that this sampling of a Spektor live show leaves you wanting more. In the liner notes, she says that "these five songs, and a bunch more, were performed." Ah, if only we could hear the rest of that bunch!
1. Ain't No Cover - Regina performs a capella, except for a sometimes light percussive beat she taps on the side of her piano. Giving a frontline reference to The Byrds song "Eight Miles High" (1966), Regina again shows her deep and ecclectic music literacy. The song is essentially about loving a man fatally addicted to drugs. She says "good night my lover, good night my son" ("good bye" in other live performances) referring to her lover as her son, a cue to oedipal themes found in other songs she's written. Because her lover is "8 miles high", he is dependent upon her like a son, implying what The Byrds song says straight out: when he touches down, she'll find that he's stranger than known. She doesn't know him without his addiction, without his contageous fatalism. Realizing she doesn't really know her lover and that this dependency will destroy her, she leaves him to save herself despite how he needs her and how she will love him forever.
2. Carbon Monoxide - Reiteration of the version found on Soviet Kitsch and Mary Ann Meets the Grave Diggers. It's true to other performances without deviation.
3. Pound of Flesh - This song is an ode to Ezra Pound, modernist poet. Pound's poetry was both visual and lyrical to the extent of nearly musical, unappologetically breaking the until then immutable standard for rhyme and verse in poetry. In such, Pound made way for the likes of Frost, Hemmingway, Eliot, Joyce, and others. Pound's influence on Regina Spektor's art is as clear as his literary legacy. Regina alludes that Pound perpetuated his life beyond death by evolving poetry to discover new found beauty by breaking the rules of conformity with visual and lyrical poetry. Regina Spektor proclaims a personal debt to Pound and offers humble homage by building upon his artistry in writing such poetry that isn't just nearly musical but truly musical, because she brings them to life in songs she writes and sings that likewise defy conformity with modern songwriting in popular music. Calling her music "anti"-folk, Regina repeats this theme and her intent to set a new and beautiful and, so, notable artistic course in her stories, poetry and songs.
4. The Noise - It's a song about prayer or mediation. Regina Spektor sadly sings to God about choosing to make rage rather than hear over the noise, hear the silent answers He offers, but doesn't say she will change her ways. Never preachy or self-righteous in her music, Regina Spektor appears to humbly sing about herself. However, since the story's arc lacks any transition to conclusion, it seems less like an autobiographical story and more a social commentary.
5. My Man - Regina covers this song. The theme is the same as the first song: she's with an abusive drunken lover. Here, though, she won't leave him because she believes he loves her too and, if she leaves, she'll just end up going back to him for the love she feels.
The four new published songs are worthy of the five stars I gave this. If you love Regina, you can't miss this well-priced live EP CD.
Any Regina fan will find "Ain't No Cover" to be an exquisite example of that casual & cool side you know & love, while "Pound of Flesh" will vie for a top-seated position in your heart as one of her most raw and soul-reaching expressions. The union of both lyrical depth and lyrical simplicity make "Pound of Flesh" truly remarkable. The other three tracks are also gems -- a fun rendition of "Carbon Monoxide" that embraces all of the quirky-ness that makes her Regina -- soft yet poignant, the melody of "The Noise" will pleasantly run through your mind hours after it finishes playing -- closing with "My Man", anyone who can appreciate her view of romantic involvements can't help but smile as this one brings the EP to a close.
Like I said, if you are a genuine fan, you are sure to enjoy this album!!
(If this is potentially your first exposure to Regina, you certainly would not be doing wrong in picking up a copy of Live At Bull Moose; however, you may not be able to fully appreciate it until you have listened through Soviet Kitsch and Begin to Hope.)