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Canon [2 CDs] Best of
|Price:||CDN$ 27.98 & FREE Shipping. Details|
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See all 18 tracks on this disc
|1. Hello Birmingham|
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|6. Here For Now|
|8. Rain Check|
See all 18 tracks on this disc
Throughout her career, Ani DiFranco has given her own take on tired rock star cliches. When other artists answered to major labels, she opted to start her own. While other guitarists relied on electric heroics, she pounded on a strangely tuned acoustic. And when faced with the task of releasing a career retrospective, DiFranco created anything but the traditional "greatest hits" package. Like everything else she creates, DiFranco made this record to her precise specifications, carefully selecting 36 songs from her voluminous back catalogue, including tunes from her first album and her 18th. As a result, "Canon" doesn't play like a greatest hits package, but an album that's arranged and intended to be played from beginning to end.
The far-reaching lexis used to describe Buffalo, New York, singer/songwriter Ani DiFranco includes "influential," "persistent," and "cutting-edge." And 18 albums released in the 18 years since the launching of her own Righteous Babe record label means "prolific" must also be high on that list. DiFranco commemorates her nearly two decades in the business with a two-CD, 35-song retrospective that offers a sequential glimpse into the socially conscious messages and punk/folk articulation that has made her an international paladin. From early recordings such as "God's Country" (1993) and "You Had Time" (1994), where DiFranco took aim at religious autonomy and failed partnerships, to later songs that tackled violence against abortion providers (1999's "Hello Birmingham") and a pair of '80s-era presidents (2002's "Your Next Bold Move"), DiFranco's poetry-fraught lyrics are the unfeigned star of the compilation. Can't-miss selections like "32 Flavors," "Untouchable Face," and "Cradle & All" make the cut, while staunch DiFranco followers will be seduced by five new renditions of old favorites, including the intrepid "Napoleon," which blasts the rock-biz elite, and "Shameless," with its candid discourse on infidelity. The divinely packaged set includes a booklet thoroughly lined with lyrics and a recording dossier. --Scott Holter
Top Customer Reviews
The images stay with you: after my dreaded beheading I tied that sucker back on with a string / a roomful of women licking stamps and laughing (what a great commentary on immigration)/ I opened the fire door to four lips, none of which were mine, kissing. There are too many favourite lines to even try to give a sampling.
How about this, from Overlap:
I build each one of my songs
out of glass
so you can see me inside of them
or you could just leave the image of me
in the backround, I guess
and watch your own reflection superimposed
That's what it feels like to listen. A thoughtful, refective, intimate conversation with someone really interesting, and all set to mood-matching music, whether it's playful, driving, contemplative or defiant. She does it all, exceptionally well. A musical poet for our time.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
As for the collection itself, I think it falls short in a lot of ways for both the old and new fans. Granted, it's incredibly difficult to sum up a career as prolific as Ani's (18 full-length albums and 3 ep's) in two discs because there are always going to feel like there are songs missing. I say Kudos to Ani for trying to make a career retrospective "that's arranged and intended to be played from beginning to end," as the review on her website says. However, since she's never had any legitimate radio hits, the entire line-up comes off as seeming really subjective. While retrospectives can irk the hardcore fans the most because they are so invested in their favorite songs, I am somewhat miffed that she couldn't find one single song off of Imperfectly to add to the collection (because I think that is easily the best album of her early career).
Overall, I think the first disc has a more accessible track list and is easier to be played over and over. These songs are definitely of a faster tempo because they are from the time in Ani's career when she was more of a folk-punk artist. The second disc is much more subdued being from her later jazzier period. While each has their own merits, I tend to prefer the earlier stuff more. Songs like "Buildings and Bridges," "32 Flavors," "Dilate," and "Little Plastic Castle" never disappoint, even after playing them for ten years.
In general, I think the old fans might be disappointed by the track listing here because it just doesn't do her justice. Whereas the Ani novice isn't really going to get a feel for the magic and intensity of her music just from listening to this compilation either. If retrospectives are a good way to introduce new fans to old music, then I'd recommend Living in Clip (the double-live CD she put out in 1997) or So Much Shouting So Much Laughter (the double-live one from 2002) instead. Both of those albums have a much better track listing than Canon and they are rich and full of Ani's energy, wit and banter to boot.
I already own everything available by her, but I also like compilations, new ways of listening to what has become too familiar through addictive listening. Even though this compilation does not contain all of my favorites,(Rush Hour ?)... I was sort of pulled in by the advertised alternative versions of songs available here, (they are cool), but I was mostly hoping there might be an up gragde to cutting edge standards of the sound quality. Yippie eye aye, the sound quality met and surpassed all of my hope, uniformly clear and beautiful.
As a long time fan of Ani, I am really glad to own this compilation.
As for the five song "remakes", Both Hands and Overlap are awful when compared to the exquisitely beautiful originals. Shameless is interesting in that this is Ani's trademark rock-out song, but this version is played by just Ani and an electric guitar, sans drums. You can hardly tell that the other instruments are missing until the drum solo section (which is now a guitar solo). I found both Napoleon and Your Next Bold Move to be acceptable remakes, but unremarkable. Ani has done several other, better versions of Napoleon.
In general, the remakes were disconcerting to me because I'm not used to hearing Ani play an electric instead of acoustic guitar, and she sings the remakes in an unusually high-pitched voice (not sure why). Of the 5 remakes, Shameless is the most appealing, and I really hate the new Both Hands. Oddly, Ani's 2007 Canon tour featured a new arrangement of Untouchable Face that's fantastic and superior to any of the remakes on the Canon album. On her Canon tour, Ani's actual live performances of the "5 remakes" are both different from and far better than the versions on the Canon album.
As with all the recent albums from the Righteous Babe, the CD packaging (with complete lyrics and liner notes) is excellent and the sound quality is superb (My early Ani albums were on cassettes not CDs, so I may be comparing apples to oranges). So, Canon is a great compilation which provides an overall feel for the breadth of Ani's music, but should be treated as a starting point and not a comprehensive "best of" collection.