[Jandek] Corwood 0782: 'Khartoum Variations'

Danen D. Jobe djobe at uark.edu
Mon Jan 30 14:09:07 PST 2006

I'm sure I won't be the only one today who received this, but I got a little gift in the mail.

Those expecting a remix project will be pretty displeased.  Those who figured, "maybe these are different versions of the same songs" were right on the money.  Obviously, the 'Khartoum' thing is important to Jandek, and he wants to REALLY get the point across! Also, I think we now have a set of songs recorded at least five years (I think more) apart in different settings.

Honestly, there are only three significant things most will need to know (but they are quite significant). 

1. The cover is REAL different.  Rather than the very Islamic looking Jandek of the original album, we now get the more modern black hatted, black-overcoat wearing Janky standing in front of...a European Cathedral, I presume?  Somebody?  Awesome cover. 

2. Instead of the acoustic guitar of 'Khartoum,' this is played on the clean-sounding electric that's been the norm for his later albums and was what he played in Austin when I saw him.  The "sing-speak" style is in keeping with the later albums.

3.  All the songs are here EXCEPT 'Fork in the Road.' In other words, it cuts off with "Move from the Mountain."  Now it gets interesting. Theory?

I think he recorded the first album in the mid to late nineties but decided not to release it (I've always agreed that it sounded like 'The Beginning').  Then he took the same songs (ala European Jewel, etc) and re-recorded them last year.  BUT, after listening to the first album, decided he liked it after all and released it.  However, since then he's listened back through the new album and decided to release it as well.  

Give it to Corwood to do something utterly unexpected AGAIN - certainly I've heard artists remix old albums and I've heard artists (Arthur Lee of Love comes to mind) re-record classic albums song for song, usually in a live context. But it's not like this is 'Blue Corpse Variations,' so I think my theory may be right on this one.  The "new" voice is here, the "new" guitar is here, it makes sense to me. He recorded one, put it aside, re-did it (as we all now know, he keeps his lyrics in that black book, so he does write them down.  I'm sure he files them when finished with them) and then decided, maybe that the original was better?  Or maybe he always intended the albums to come out, but intentionally put some distance between one and the other?

And why, since it's OBVIOUS that the 'Variations' album is recorded later (please dispute me if possible, but I've listened to both all afternoon and the difference in vocal tone AND guitar playing is right there, plus the difference between what I think is four track recording and digital recording) why did he leave off "Fork in the Road?" Is it lyrical? I always liked that song because it suggested a choice, a new path to follow. Maybe he feels like he's followed that path and no longer has to choose?  I'm probably reading too much into this - probably he got tired of re-making the album or something. 

Also, the new songs are, mostly, longer.  And yeah, that means more R E A L languid pacing on many tracks. "You Wanted to Leave" is now considerably longer, as is "I Shot Myself" and "Move from the Mountain." That said, the rest are either near identical in length or, in three cases, shorter. the title track is the only track noticably longer on the original, however. 

I'm going to listen closer for lyrical differences, but I can't find many.  I know there's a few and I'll take a stab at transcription later if nobody else does it.  That said, if you read the lyrics to 'Khartoum' you've read 90% at least of these (transcription may prove different, but I don't think so).

Curious to see what others have to say.  I can't get my scanner to put a photo up to where I'm satisfied (size is too big to mass email) so hopefully Seth will have one up soon. Real curious to find out where this picture was shot.

Okay, back to the discs I go! More later.


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hello, the most recent Forced Exposure wholesale update lists this as 

JANDEK: Newcastle Sunday 2CD (COR 0783).  1.5 hour live performance, May 2005

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