Joe The Troll For the most recent Swiss Toni’s Shuffleathon, I received a CD from Joe The Troll. The disc arrived in a paper sleeve with the image to the left affixed to one side, and the track listing to the other. He’d inserted it in a Christmas Card, and included a note to the effect that he’d been wanting to do a compilation like this for a while, and he hoped it worked out OK. I looked over the track listing and realized that I was going to have to rework my own CD. The disc contains 12 tracks of live cover songs. Since I’d planned on loading my disc with covers, too, I figured I should change my plan, which I did. I hope that Paul enjoyed the disc I sent.

Anyway, I’d decided to wait to listen to it until after I’d sent off my own mix. It was a good thing I’d done so, because Joe’s disc had cracked in the mail, so there was no way for me to listen to it. I was able to get in touch with him, and he was able to get me the mp3s, so that I could create a playlist in iTunes based on the track listing on the CD sleeve.

I’ve listened to the entire disc once, and am listening to it a second time while I write this.

So here we go:
01: Warren Zevon – Start Me Up
(Rockefeller’s, Houston TX, 5/23/1985)

It starts off kinda slow and isn’t immediately recognizable as a Rolling Stones song. It’s just Warren on guitar, so far as I can tell, which is fine. It takes him over a minute to get into the song. I really like Warren Zevon’s music. Listening to this reminds me that he’s gone, and makes me kinda sad. For a live recording, it’s actually very good. It almost sounds like it was done in a studio. Warren also enunciates much better than Mick does on this song, making the lyrics more understandable. Good song, great choice to start the disc.

02: Anders Osbourne – Ohio
(State Theater, Falls Church VA, 10/23/2002)

I know this song. I’ll have to look up who does it originally. Ok, I’m an idiot. It’s a Neil Young song. Very good cover. The guitar solo goes on a bit, but I’m guessing that’s ’cause it’s live. It has a very Jazz/Blues kind of feel to it. Again, good quality recording. There was some crowd noise at the start, and a bit at the end, but very little during the song.

03: Galactic – Whole Lotta Love
(Newport Music Hall, Columbus OH, 5/13/2004)

I see what you did there, Ohio followed by a live recording made in Ohio. Very clever. Is this what is known as Prog Rock? I hear an organ, guitars & drums. The organ makes me think of Dr. Teeth from The Muppet Show. That’s a good thing. Now there’s a chick kinda wailing, and now she’s singing. Just looked through Galactic’s discography on allmusic. They never released this on a CD, so I’m guessing it’s a live-only cover they do. Not bad. More crowd noise. That’s the one thing that has always irritated me about concert recordings, I want to hear the music, not the audience applauding to it. I’m also not a fan of Led Zeppelin’s music, but I like this cover, crowd noise notwithstanding. It sounds like it’s over, but iTunes says there’s still 1:30 left. Yes, we get it, your fans love you, either play another song or clip the track. Whew, thank God that’s over.

04: Mose Allison – Hey, Good Lookin’
(Rialto Theater, Tucson AZ, 12/4/1999)

Cool jazz. Upright bass, piano, drums. The cymbals are a bit overpowering, but otherwise the mix is pretty good. I don’t think this is quite what Cole Porter envisioned when he wrote this, but I think he’d enjoy it. Almost makes me wish I hadn’t donated my trombone to the local Arts Magnet school. Good song. After the almost 10 minute song before it, this one seems downright short.

05: Pete Townshend – If I Were A Carpenter
(The Roadhouse, London 4/14/1974)

There’s a note on the track listing that this was Pete’s first solo performance. Guitar & tambourine. For some strange reason, I always thought this song was in reference to The Carpenters. Like I said above, I’m an idiot. Whoa, feedback. He’s now done singing, but there’s still 45 seconds left. What the hell is going on? I guess one had to be there.

06: Jethro Tull – Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, 2nd Movement
(Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles CA, 10/15/1976)

Not a very clear recording, but not too bad, considering the technology available over 30 years ago. I keep waiting for the flute to kick in. Over half way through and it seems to be all synthesizer & guitar. That particular synthesizer setting makes it sound like a Sci Fi movie soundtrack. Not bad, though. A good palette cleanser.

07: Phil Lesh & Friends – Wish You Were Here
(Warfield Theater, San Francisco CA, 4/16/1999)

Wasn’t Phil Lesh in The Greatful Dead? Yep, he was their bassist. He sounds a bit like Bob Dylan. A very tired Bob Dylan. I’m not a fan of The Greatful Dead, and I’m picky about the Pink Floyd that I like, so this song isn’t doing much for me. Instrumentally, it’s great. Vocally, not so much. Not that I could do any better, mind you, it’s just not to my taste. It’s now devolved into a jam. I can just picture 3/4 of the audience swaying in the hazy air.

08: Peter Gabriel – I Heard It Through The Grapevine
(Copenhagen 10/9/1977)

Slow start, doesn’t sound a thing like what I’m expecting, but it does sound like a Peter Gabriel song. It’s also 10:48 long, so I could be waiting a while for him to start singing. Live Music: home of the long intro. Ok, now it sounds like someone singing “I heard it through the grapevine” into one of those Peter Frampton mic thingys over and over. Very different than the original. Why do I picture the California Raisins driving a convertible at night through the streets of Miami? This sounds like it’s supposed to be on the soundtrack to Miami Vice, which is odd, considering this recording predates Miami Vice by close to a decade. The background melody sounds more like an intro. I keep waiting for the song to start, and it’s over 9 minutes into it. Now it sounds like it’s wrapping up. Good song. Nice choice, Joe.

09:Tony Levin Band – Tequila
(The Conduit, Trenton NJ, 3/29/2003)

This sure doesn’t sound like any version of Tequila that I’ve ever heard or played. Ok, there’s a lick from the song, kinda. A very mellow, jazzy kinda lick from the song. It sounds like the band is on quaaludes. Very nice. Now they’re playing it in a more recognizable form. I almost prefer the mellower version. Now the sax sounds like it’s playing Love for Sale. Oops, I spoke too soon.

Roy Buchanan – Peter Gunn
(Guilford Fairgrounds, Guilford CT, 8/7/1988)

Liner notes adds that this was Roy’s last show.
I love this song. This version does a good job, too. Based on the song, I’m going to guess that Roy played guitar. Let’s check. Yep, apparently he’s considered one of the greats. I also found out that he died a week after this recording was made. That’s too bad. It’s a good cover of a good song. I’ll have to look into more of his library.

Frank Zappa – Stairway to Heaven
(Stockholm, Sweden, 5/1/1988)

Another one of my favorite artists. It sounds like Eartha Kitt in the background, as well as someone belching into the mic. Ya just gotta love Frank. Damn, Frank Zappa was one prolific mofo. It’s interesting that he’s put out 19 albums after his death. He still has a way to go to catch up with Tupac in posthumous releases, though. Ooooh, I love a brass section in a rock song. Chicago meets Led Zeppelin, I like it.

Jeff Beck – A Day in the Life
(Ronnie Scott’s, London, 11/30/2007)

So here I am trying to find out who originally did this song while Stairway to Heaven is finishing up. I’m searching & searching, and then it starts up. Have I mentioned I’m an idiot? I never knew this song had this title. I’m also not a very big Beatles fan. This song also reminds me of a parody that the comedy troupe I used to work for wrote. They never performed it because it was extremely offensive. I’ll simply say that it involved Adolf Hitler writing in his diary and leave it at that. Here’s another song that ended 2 minutes before the end of the track. There’s a woman in the audience who must be near one of the open mics, ’cause she’s all I hear in the audience. She sounds a bit drunk. Is it possible to scream “whooo!” out of tune? If so, she’s doing it. And it’s over.

Joe did a great job putting this disc together. I can tell he put thought into it (more than I did with mine, anyway). The music wasn’t all entirely to my tastes, mainly because they were all live tracks, but that’s not his fault. As a concept (live covers), it’s great. There was good flow among the songs. The only track that didn’t quite fit, in my opinion, was the Jethro Tull track, but it made for a good palette cleanser in the middle of the disc. I was familiar with pretty much every song on the disc, in their original forms, at least. I’d even played a couple of them when I was in band in High School. The fact that they were cover songs gave me another way of looking at (listening to? reflecting on?) the songs. Everyone’s interpretation of how a song should be is different. I’m sure most original artists don’t play their music the exact same way every single time in concert.

I’ll be leaving these songs in my library, and it won’t bother me in the least if they come up in the shuffle rotation. Good job, Joe.