Playing The Whole Album?

Interesting stuff in this past Friday’s Weekend Journal of the Wall Street Journal, even if Murdock IS buying it.

One piece was Hollywood Report: Up Next — Your Favorite Album; In Concerts, Bands Play CDs, First Track to Last; Battling the iPod Effect by Ethan Smith. WSJ. Aug 3, 2007. pg. W.1

Abstract (Summary)
The impetus behind the current wave of live album concerts comes from England, and in particular from Barry Hogan, the 35-year-old London-based founder and director of an influential music festival called All Tomorrow’s Parties. “When you see a band you love, how often are you sitting there thinking, ‘Why are they doing this new stuff?'” Mr. Hogan asks. And after having asked himself that question one too many times, he decided to do something about it. In 2005 he launched a concert series, related to All Tomorrow’s Parties, called Don’t Look Back. That series has presented around two dozen alt-rock artists playing beloved albums in their entirety — from Iggy Pop’s Stooges playing 1970’s “Fun House” to the Cowboy Junkies doing 1990’s “The Trinity Session.”

Despite sellout crowds, Mr. [Bun E. Carlos of Cheap Trick] acknowledges that in some ways, the concerts were “goofy.” For one thing, the order in which songs appear on an album might not make sense in concert. “If the producer didn’t think there were 10 or 12 killer songs, he’d top load the sequence” with potential hits, Mr. Carlos says. That means that in concert, a band might end up closing with the weakest material of the night. Another problem: There were some songs on the albums that the band had never played live, and they struggled with them. A few were rearranged as acoustic numbers, to give themselves a breather. “We were young men when we did ’em originally,” Mr. Carlos says.

Other artists have taken a more maximalist approach. For the just-completed European tour during which he played his 1973 album “Berlin,” [Lou Reed] was backed by a 30-piece orchestra. Mr. Reed played a brief series of “Berlin” concerts in New York last year, but his manager, Tom Sarig, says he is unsure whether the rocker will perform the album elsewhere in the U.S.

Besides Lou Reed, Iggy Pop, and Cheap Trick, Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters has played live versions of “Dark Side of the Moon”, and Sonic Youth hit the road to play “Daydream Nation”.

This fall, Lucinda Williams will play a week in NYC and LA with each night featuring a complete performance of one of her five most prominent albums, such as 1998’s “Car Wheels on a Gravel Road.” But during a second set, she’ll play selections from her 2007 release “West.”

Interesting. I’ve know of other artists, notably Phish, playing a whole album, but not the actual artist, except once in 1989 in Albany when I saw Joe Jackson play the entire first half of Blaze of Glory, then some other tunes, then the entire second half; the audience was unfamiliar, and therefore not very happy, as some folks walked around the Palace Theater, somewhat bored.

Another piece, on sports: By the Numbers: The Best at Keeping Batters Off Base
Allen St. John. WSJ: Aug 3, 2007. pg. W.3

Abstract (Summary)
In the American League, the BABE list also is topped by two young pitchers, each of whom were crucial pieces in big trades. Dan Haren of the Oakland A’s, acquired from the St. Louis Cardinals for Mark Mulder, has posted a .378 BABE. (Underscoring Billy Beane’s acumen in identifying promising young pitchers is the fact that A’s draft pick Joe Blanton is third in the AL with a .393 BABE.) Behind Mr. Haren is Josh Beckett of the Boston Red Sox, who’s rewarding the faith that General Manager Theo Epstein displayed when he traded two prized prospects to the Florida Marlins for the hard-throwing righty.

One thing that the BABE list shows us is how volatile the pitching side of the game is. The BOP list of top hitters tends to be quite consistent from season-to-season, with such players as Barry Bonds, Albert Pujols and Alex Rodriguez keeping their places at the top alongside sleepers such as Carlos Guillen of the Detroit Tigers. But many of the league’s top pitchers are pretty far down on the BABE list this season. Last year’s National League BABE champ, Brandon Webb of the Arizona Diamonsbacks, is 14th on this season’s list with a .406 mark, two slots behind John Maine of the New York Mets (.402). Roy Halladay of the Toronto Blue Jays, the 2003 AL Cy Young winner and last year’s AL runner up in BABE, is 18th on this year’s list — behind journeyman Ted Lilly of the Chicago Cubs. And Oliver Perez of the Mets (.421, 23rd), who a year ago was demoted to the minors by the pitching-starved Pittsburgh Pirates, ranks ahead of two-time Cy Young winner, and defending AL BABE leader, Johan Santana (.423, 25th).

The writer talks about BABE, or bases per batter. BABE starts with a pitcher’s total bases allowed (the sum of his hits allowed plus one extra point for each double, two extra for each triple and three extra for each homer). When you add in walks issued and batters hit by a pitch, the sum is Grand Total Bases. Divide GTB by the number of batters a pitcher has faced, and the result is BABE. The lower that number, the better a pitcher has been at minimizing the number of bases issued to opposing batters.

There’s a third article in that edition, about a Indie Film festival in New Zealand. Also, in the Saturday edition, there’s this: “New Labor Moves: Belly Dancing Hits Delivery Room; Connection to Childbirth May Have Ancient Origins”, which I sent to our Bradley instructor, our doula, and the only belly dancer I know personally; the former, at least LOVED the piece. If you’re interested in the full text of any of these pieces and can’t access them, e-mail me.
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It’s sports Hall of Fame season. First the baseball event with a record 75,000 in Cooperstown, then football in Canton and horse racing in Saratoga. Jaquandor provided not only the football story about a guy who played for the only team in NYS, but directed me to a story about Barry Bonds, which pretty much covers my position. The Buffalo guy also notes: “As for people who suggest that his record carry an asterisk in the record books, wouldn’t any batting title from the steroid era also require an asterisk?…Hell, if as many players took steroids as are commonly supposed, shouldn’t the entire yearly standings of Major League Baseball carry an asterisk in that period?” But I know mine’s a minority opinion; in some AOL instant “poll”, 65% were shocked, shocked I tell you, that Barry Bonds should get any kudos at all.

ROG