[Jandek] LP era

Seth Tisue seth at tisue.net
Wed Jun 20 20:24:14 PDT 2007

* Female singers:

In his review of Somebody on the Snow (Corwood 0757, 1990) Aaron
Goldberg wrote, "I reckon it's Nancy recorded at a later period in
time."  I think there's also been some skepticism on-list about there
being two different woman singers, so I listened to that record again
today (along with some Nancy stuff), and I'm still convinced it's not
Nancy.  Listen to the first three songs.  Compared to Nancy, the singer
has trouble sustaining notes very long or holding a steady pitch, and
her voice is thinner.  Nancy's brassy and self-assured; this singer's a
bit hesitant.  By way of comparison, play "Some of Your Peace" (from
Foreign Keys, Corwood 0749, 1985).  At 2:14 Nancy sustains the word
"glad" for 18 seconds (!) and stays on-pitch too.

Admittedly the two singers sound similar, but there's a simple
explanation for that: they're sisters.  It's Nancy's sister Pat.  While
there's no song called "Pat Sings", Irwin Chusid's book quotes a letter
from Corwood:

  The cut "No Break" on side 2 features her sister Pat [last name
  withheld] on vocals, myself on elec guitar and Nancy in a very
  unaggressive drum stint.

"No Break" is on Chair Beside a Window (Corwood 0742, 1982) -- it's the
next cut after "Nancy Sings", so we were introduced to both sisters at
the same time.  The letter doesn't actually confirm that it's Pat again
on Somebody in the Snow, but my ears say it is.

* Overdubbing:

The letter also says:

  Also cuts on entire sides of myself overdubbing base, 6 string, vocals
  and drums all performed by myself...

So there are at least some overdubbed one-man-band performances.
Perhaps on The Rocks Crumble (Corwood 0783, 1983)?  Maybe he's referring
instead, or referring also, to side 2 of Somebody in the Snow.  Listen
to "Remind You".  It has the rep doing two separate vocals, one in the
left channel, one in the right!  They even overlap in one place.  So
there's no question that's overdubbed.  The whole album side sounds like
one session and it sounds overdubbed.

* Drums:

We've talked a lot about vocalists and guitarists, but haven't talked
much about trying to distinguish the different drummers.  If side 2 of
Somebody in the Snow is all the rep overdubbed, then he's probably the
drummer, and some close listening (that I haven't done yet) might help
us learn to distinguish John-plays-drums from Sterling-plays-drums.

I think we tend to forget that there are different drummers on the LP's
and the rep is one of them, as the Chusid letter confirms, and as the
rep's Instal 2005 appearance at the drumkit reminded us.  Also, if you
listen to some of the later electric records, on some songs Eddie is
both singing and doing all the guitar playing, for example on "I'll Sit
Alone and Think a Lot About You" (from On the Way, Corwood 0755, 1988).
If the rep is playing anything on those tracks, he's playing drums.

* Electric guitar:

Watching the representative on stage and listening to the live albums,
it's sometimes a little hard to imagine, to really feel, that it's the
same man who recorded Ready for the House.  I got that uncanny feeling
at the hatless Glasgow Monday piano show, but at the others, not as
much.  But over the past few days, I've been listening to the early
electric records, most of them for the first time since 2003 or so, and
I found it thrilling to listen to the electric guitar playing on
Interstellar Discussion (Corwood 0747, 1984), for example, and hear just
how close it is, how palpably the same musician, as the one we've heard
live recently.  You don't feel it as vividly on Glasgow Sunday and
Newcastle Sunday because of all the effects on the guitar on those early
shows, and because the playing was a bit restrained.  But listen to some
of the instrumental sections of some later cuts on Austin Sunday where
the rep cuts loose on guitar... or better yet, listen to Brooklyn
Wednesday when it comes out, or the recording from Manhattan this March
when that comes out, and the sense of connection across the decades is
really vivid.  (If the Brooklyn recording comes out anything like I
remember the concert, it's going to be a knockout.)


Anyway, I think we've been over some of this before, but I hadn't
updated the site to include it, so unless you've been on the mailing
list for years, you might have missed it.  I've added much of the above
to the site now.

Seth Tisue | http://tisue.net

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