So, no time to write a full-out, detailed review of the CD, but having listened to it three times now (it’s competing for time in my CD player with a three-CD set of “the best of Peter Gabriel” that I made the other day – it was going to be one CD, but I couldn’t narrow it down to 80 minutes. ;-)), I am *extremely* impressed. Bowled over, even.

The professionalism of all aspects of the project (except maybe the ability to meet deadlines… just KIDDING!!!!) is very commendable. This could easily sit in a record store and not tip anyone off that it was anything but a professional record. I tend to like the tracks most that are most different from the originals, since that throws the qualities of the song into stark relief (kind of like how the aliens in Dark City wanted to find out what was at the core of identity by switching people’s memories around. Ok, maybe that’s stretching the analogy a bit far…). However, the heartbreaking integrity of some of the straight-ahead tracks is quite moving. I’m delighted that the project also maintains a sense of humor and isn’t just hero-worship.

I thought the choices were fascinating. GDBD was far and away the most popular album, but only one person reached all the way back to TWHF, and the ones who did Ric-heavy songs like Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander (never thought I’d hear an acoustic version of *that* one) tended to take an alternate (electronic) approach to the song that avoided using the guitar. At least, that’s the impression I got from the sound; not intending to impute motives.

So far, the stand-out stunners are (in track order):

All I Need Is Everything – the instrumentation reminds me of Loreena McKennit, with a sultry yet electronic feel to it. Nice string sound, and I like the layering of the instrumentation. The vocal has a mellow quality with just an hint of an edge to it.

Murder – This one kicks my ass. I’d heard it once before, so I knew what to expect, but my appreciation of it has only grown upon subsequent playings. What a wonderfully creative extrapolation of the mood of the song. Is that really Lindsey on the vocals? Wow. Love the eastern flavor from the sitar and the droning thing (what *is* that?), and the percussion is way cool. Easily my favorite track.

Grey Monologue – Drew, you crack me up.

Etcetera Whatever – I saw Ash do this when he opened for OtR at the Ark in 2000, and then he did it at the brunch last month, and I think it’s phenomenal. I’m so glad to have a recording of it. Very emotinally powerful, and the arrangement is simple to support the strength of his voice.

Lucy – Nice energy. I like the guitar sound.

Happy With Myself? – Wow! This one probably wins the “most unexpected” award… no, I take it back. See “Jack’s Valentine”, below. I was very intrigued by
the new lyrics, although I haven’t tried to look at them closely yet and see how they alter (if they alter) the meaning of the song. What prompted you to change the lyrics, Bruce? I liked the sound, too. The change in the pacing was very interesting.

Jack’s Valentine – with Stephen Hawking on vocals. What an idea. I was laughing out loud in my office at this one. Genius!

Happy to be So – I confess, I love Mike’s work, and this was a really rich, mellow arrangement that was sheer delight to listen to.

Nice work, everyone.

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