Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Man Overboard

I just had an exhilarating experience. I'm all coffeeed up on a Saturday morn. My wife is away and all the kids are too. It' 6:30 am and I've got the music cranked in my basement. None of the neighbors have called (I probably couldn't hear them anyway). It's been a couple of days since ingesting any Tiny Pictures. I decided to throw TP in a mix with the Raconteurs - Consolers of the Lonely (one of my latest faves, and destined to become a classic IMHO).

Consolers is a near perfect effort to capture that 70's sound and and to write in that style. The songwriting is loose, funny and a great collage of styles from the era. I know it was critically panned by White/Raconteurs fans alike as a uneven, subpar effort, but over time it has grown in stature and I really believe that when we look back at this decade this will be a standout record.

In a playlist I put TP and CoL. Now TP is nowhere as loose as CoL, but it holds up right next to it, sonically and creatively. The retro pieces all fit and the modern sounds, although a bit tight/polished for my palette, are tasty and controlled.

Listen to the song "Consolers" and the original Beautiful demo and you'll see that concept of smashing two songs together that Ian does so well. Jack White talked of taking two old tracks and slamming them together. Big Wreck's No Fault was this. The best part of the Raconteurs is their Tight but Loose approach to song writing/recording (Tight but Loose is a phrase coined in relation to Zeppelin's material/Jimmy Page's playing).

TP has a different mission. JW because of his incredible success has carte blanche to do what he wants. The Raconteurs is a bit of a vanity project that is an outlet to show that he can do more than just the simple White stripes stuff. JW is loose and free. Ian has to "bet the farm" on every project. JW has FU money and a commercial track record. He's loved or hated, but he gets attention and market. Right place at the right time. Providence, Providence, providence.

Man Overboard - Galloping Raver

MO is a really clever piece, lyrically, that again gives us a look inside (at least that's what I think). Like the legendary Lost at Sea from the supergroup show, Ian uses a seafaring metaphor. I love the duality of a man who goes overboard/extreme in a situation. Like you're overreacting or becoming an extremist. Like recording 5 guitar parts on this section or noodling a sound until your ears bleed. We can go overboard with passion. Or for that matter any emotion to excess.

We also can get off the bus; Off the boat; Into uncharted water. This is our guy. Dump the band, dump the relationship, dump the management. Dump the security of what's known and take that leap.

So life under water
Isn't all its cracked up to be
Not quite want i wanted
Well, it gets a little hard to breathe

There once was a time
When it seemed like a good idea
I'll keep this in mind the next time I go overboard

Having made the break, he's having second thoughts. Holy crap, it's way more difficult out here on my own. I know I chose this but... It's easy to bitch about your colleagues when you have some.

From the live versions with the long intro this song seemed to plod a bit and was overly angry/metal/heavy for my liking. I know most of those who heard it live crave the original power. The recorded version is still really heavy but is has bit lighter/pop-ier edge.

It opens with a variation of that Van Halen-esque chugging riff that appeared in Big Wreck's No Fault, but it's morphed into something more fuzzy, more modern metal. It's a bigger fatter animal and it sets up the breezy section to follow.

As he goes into the recrimination part of the verse the guitar parts go toward the dissonant; like on Found Another Way from Come Again. That "in your face" annoyance that mirrors the lyric. The music fits the words.

So leave, never believe, that I'd ever leave
You're making it so damn hard to breathe
Throw the line and throw me the rope
You're killing the bravest part of me

The recorded version is much more Police than Metallica. Daniel Adair does his best Stuart Copleand. It's still got some WOMP but lighter than the rest of the record. It shows Adair to have a subtlety I had not expected from the beginning of the track.

And I'll find a home
And I'll tip this boat

I do not get the people complaining about the chorus being annoying. It sounds very catchy to me and when driving in the car this is the most likely to get me a ticket. This really cruises along at a fevered pitch with all the cymbal and guitar in syncopated pattern.

Man overboard, man overboard
Can't take it anymore
I'm swimming back to shore
Man overboard, man overboard
Can't take it anymore
I'm swimming back to shore

The solo, short and tight, frames up the emotional bring down part.

So next time remember
How it was supposed to be

Then BOOM we're back to recrimination. Where the protagonist spews on the ship he took out there (then proceeded to jump off of) for not helping him out. Like a relationship that breaks up and the one that left bitches that it's tough out there... alone. Yeah no shit! You left!

Be kind, throw me the line
And throw me the rope
You're making it so damn hard to breathe
Throw me the line, throw me the rope
You're killing the bravest part of me

I know when I got sober that soon afterward I bitched about making the leap to a new life. It was really hard sometimes AND boring. Looking back I'm glad I tipped that boat and began to swim to shore. I hope Ian can feel the same about this venture.

I suspect it was a decision made out of good common sense. Like he said in one of the interviews, he's got kids and a family to consider. The balance of artistic satisfaction, full family life, making a living and managing expectations is no easy task.

I'm taking my time with these because the timing at this point is immaterial. When fans discover Ian they'll find this crap and react. I hope that sharing this can open eyes and ears to some of the depth that I hear in Ian's work. I trust some of you can add some of your own listening angles.

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