Sunday, March 1, 2009

Somethin's gotta Change

Changes - Radio Rager (with a classic twist)

This is typical of this CD's sneakiness. It's a another obvious commercial track. The second single for sure. Having heard only a really poor quality live version of this from a couple of years ago, I had no strong opinion of the track going in. The Changes I know opens with a warbley guitar (Not sure if it was an effect or just a bad recording). The CD version is all twinkly 12 string goodness.

That said, it's got an immediate radio friendly structure up front. The expected friendly front end that lets the radio audience in and fits the format, but gets continually more and more adorned with classic textures. There's even some similar quoting "All Comes Out in the Wash" opening melody line after the self confessed George Harrison licks.

Now, who's gonna make those connections in the genpop audience (Ian talked about it in the interviews). Not many. THAT is not market driven. THAT's of no genpop value, but that makes Ian happy (and me too). AND it works.

The lyrics are not the deepest of Ian's offerings but almost everybody can relate. There's an unsophisticated side to us all longing to elevate ourselves; to break the inertia and achieve escape velocity. Kind of like Blown Wide Open or Keep a Good Man Down without the clever metaphor. We've gotta admit that most of that stuff was lost on the audience or Big Wreck would still be. Sad but true.

Maybe it's freeing to just state something simply. Straightforward, unambiguous, repetitive. Dave Grohl gets away with it and gets Grammys.

It's all glittery and sweet enough and the cool licks keep building. A GREAT pop song.

Gotta mention the drumming. Steve Gorman is one of the best drummers in this modern era. I've seen him numerous times with the Black Crowes. When he played with Jimmy Page and the Crowes he was the glue that held that tour together and he had the biggest shoes to fill. He's got range and swing. Not your ordinary rock drummer. I am incredibly heartened by the Crowes/Thornley connect. I know that Ian is a fan as he played a bit of Cosmic Friend at the end of the last Big Wreck show on the day the Crowes broke up and Gordie Johnson (Big Sugar - Grady - Ian personal friend) was a special guest for a Black Crowes album showcase in NYC for Lions. So.... the Crowes know how to be funky and swing; an area Ian needs to go IMHO.

I think the way Gorman is recorded, masks the subtlety of his playing. The radio friendly production tends to homogenize it all so it sounds cohesive. On first listen it's not much different than Adair. But listen carefully, the fills are more Keith Moon, the tempo is looser, it's bombastic without being so hard. It fits the song. My like it.

Let me also say that I like Ian's bass playing. It's a bit Big Wrecky in the spots when the music drops out. The more I hear it the more it grows on me. And I LOVE the tasty slide.

Then comes the 10 Years Gone influenced outro riffage. The counter verses "Some things can't stay the same/somethings gotta change" sweep you up and carry you above the frantic drumming.

I love the false ending (although some smell "radio edit"- probably rightly). It still breaks up the structure for a left turn not expected. The outro build up while kinda typical Thornley is still very old school in feel. It could go a few more bars but maybe that'll be the live version.

I must say that it ends awkwardly. The vocals and instruments mistime the end and fade too abruptly. This kind of stuff is what some deem as poor production, Ian sees as "character". In my mind it should end like Breakthrough (actually that was rough too but it worked somehow) What I wouldn't give to see Myles Kennedy and Ian double-team that one live! That'd be worth a trip to Canada alone.

The little piano tinkle is a nice touch and if you listen really close you can hear someone chuckle. The recording is pristine. Perhaps a bit too at times but it does really make you pay attention.

I have a mix list in my iTunes so all Ian's studio music can shuffle. The new tracks definitely jump out at you sonically and add nicely to the whole collection. Tiny Pictures keeps growing on me.

See ya soon.

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