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Laurie Anderson


Country of origin:

U.S.

Type of music generally:

Experimental/alternative pop/performance art/electronic

Status:

Most recent release, Homeland (CD/DVD, 2010)

See also:

Laurie Anderson's site

HOMEpage OF THE BRAVE

Wikipedia's entry on Laurie Anderson

Comparisons:

Unique!

Covers/own material:

Own

General comments:

This woman is a pure genius. She brings so much creativity to every aspect of her being, whether singing, dancing, weaving lasers with visuals and sound or just telling stories. So much talent, dance, performance, music. (jsutton@rahul.net)

Laurie Anderson is totally individual and unique. She has a wicked sense of humour and is able to share it. She sees the world from a slightly different perspective and gets this into both her music and her lyrics. (Neile)

Laurie Anderson is quite overwhelming live. Go see her! Great vocal technique (not "pretty", though), a master rhetorician. (jbr@casetech.dk)

For Strange Angels, she took voice lessons for the first time, and that is probably the first album you could really say she sings on most of. Personally, I think her speaking voice is more evocative than her singing voice—the bulk of the first 4 discs are spoken word over (that is, on top of) music. Laurie's spoken pieces have always seemed incredibly musical to me. (neal)

Her stuff takes a while to get used to, kind of like very hot bathwater. :) (meth@smoe.org)

Laurie ranks up with Kate Bush, Happy Rhodes, and Jane Siberry in my musical pantheon, and I thought she learned to write music with Mister Heartbreak—even before she learned to sing, she was writing really incredible songs. (stevev@hexadecimal.uoregon.edu)

Laurie is a great performer with a magnetic stage presence. (ditto@taconic.net)

Comments about live performance:

About Songs and Stories of Moby Dick

Preface: I'm familiar with some of Laurie's recordings, but had never seen her in performance before. The person I went with had seen The Ugly One With the Jewels. He concluded that Moby was more focused (which makes sense, it is based on a specific work). He also liked the music in Moby more than The Ugly One With the Jewels.
     The comment I have heard most often from people who had seen her before is that it was really weird to see her actually exit the stage. In the past she has been on stage the entire time. Here the three other main performers (Tom Nelis, Anthony Turner and Price Waldman) get equal stage time. And there are two dreamy songs from vocalist/sound designer Miles Green, which were among my favorites.
     I'd say that about 10 percent of the words used actually come from the Melville's novel. Laurie and the others act out some of the characters—Nelis frequently steals the show with his interpretation of Ahab. Like the novel, there is a more to learn about than an obsessive sea captain's quest for an elusive white whale. Laurie notes in her statement about the piece that Melville would go into lengthy passages on subjects such as the life of polar bears and how to ready a harpoon.
     She does the same thing, going off on tangents about the anatomy of sperm whales, how they communicate with other whales, how the sperm whale got its name, what happens when a male becomes too old to lead his group. There's a great segment where she morphs her voice into this dark-side-of-the-force male voice and gives a scholarly and humorous lecture about Melville—his life and why he wrote the book. From this she goes into a rather funny tribute to the ship's hangman, who wasn't a part of Melville's novel but somehow made it into the 1930 film version with John Barrymore. (Funny how motion pictures like to do that, huh?)
     Melville was obsessed with the Bible and there is tons of religious imagery in the novel. She also does this with related stories about Jonah and Noah, and paraphrases a few Biblical quotes, like "it's easier for a camel to slide though the eye of a needle..."
     There's also a great piece about cannibalism and Queequeg.
     Of course, all of this is accompanied by captivating video images of waves and stars and coral reefs and gears turning and clouds and cart-wheeling letters of the alphabet and metaphors to the image of white (as in, the white whale) and much more.
     She has her trademark violin and gives a few great, eerie solos, but doesn't sing very often, which I'm guessing is how her other pieces have been. Her newest toy is the Talking Stick, a long, white, cylindrical electronic thing that emits all sorts of strange and wonderful sounds (synthesized howling winds, ominous monastery chants, etc). They change pitch, tone, volume, etc. when she slides her hand down it. To change the sound totally she punches a button or switch toward the bottom of it. When armed with this instrument, Anderson and company dance around and handle it as if it were a harpoon and they are hunting.
     The piece has a few, well, boring, spots. Frankly, I could've used less time with the other actors—especially Turner. It's obvious he's an opera and Broadway musical performer, because his vocals are just too big and theatrical for this piece. That would work if this were Les Miserables or some Andrew Lloyd Webber piece of schlock. But not when Laurie and the other performers have wonderfully strange and understated vocals.
     OK, well, I guess that's about it for this review. In short, I definitely recommend it and I hope I didn't spoil too much. DO NOT MISS A CHANCE TO SEE THIS SHOW! I can't wait for the album. The music was incredible. (5/99, Plasterofstevie@aol.com)

Laurie was very captivating and not lacking in the charisma department. The story, as a whole, left me marooned. Very avant-garde, very New York (hey I love NY), and not easy to grasp. Personally, I liked it...but I'm not nuts about it. (5/99, Anthony_Matern@vanguard.com)

The show was truly amazing. I cannot say it has any boring spots (I should add that I neither have seen Laurie live before, nor read Melville's book). There's only that one, pop-ish "coco voco" (sp?) song, that seemed a bit out of place to me. Nevertheless, Songs and Stories from Moby Dick is a must for Laurie Anderson fans. (5/99, Rolf.Peukert@theoinf.tu-ilmenau.de)

Vintage Laurie. Wonderful. There were a lot of the same old things (the funky processed voices; the show's structure: start off with Laurie playing a haunting theme on her electric violin, then move into increasingly more complex music punctuated by amusing spoken-word interludes), but there was enough new stuff to make the whole work fascinatingly fresh. The four actors, in particular the one who portrayed Ahab were all great. (In fact, my favorite musical compositions were the ones for Ahab. They were the most energetic and percussive.) The music was unmistakably Laurie Anderson, though a couple of the songs came dangerously close to pop (yet they still worked very well). One of the funniest moments was the actors' performance of a sea shanty taken from the John Barrymore movie, which apparently has very little to do with the book outside of the title.
     The new invention for this show was the Talking Stick, a harpoon-like staff which emits all sorts of chopped-up sounds depending on how and where the player runs their hands along it. It was really cool—even after reading the production notes about it, I still have absolutely no clue how it works. There wasn't enough of it in the show, though (in my opinion). (10/99, meth@smoe.org)

About the September 2001 Laurie Anderson show

Note that Live in New York comes from this show

woj and I made our first trip into NYC since last Tuesday to see Laurie Anderson at Town Hall. It was rather strange to see the skyline as we approached the Triboro Bridge and realize that the Empire State Building was the tallest building in sight. As we drove through Times Square it was obvious that New York is relatively empty. I forget which avenue it was that I looked down as we crossed it, but even from 43rd St. the column of smoke rising from Ground Zero was visible. It was very eerie.
     I was looking straight at Laurie with an unobstructed view the whole evening. Great seats.
     This tour is different from every other Laurie Anderson tour I've seen. No multimedia, hardly any lighting...just four musicians on a stage, arranged in a line so no one was any more in front or in back (from audience left to right: drums, keyboards, bass, and Laurie with her setup). It was a true concert. I hadn't given any thought as to what to expect: I guess I just figured it'd be a performance of Life On A String. So I was completely floored when she started "Let X=X" and took that into "Sweaters", then continued to do a bunch of stuff from Big Science ("Walking, Not Falling", "White Lily") and Strange Angels ("Strange Angels", "Hansel And Gretel", "Coolsville"), interspersed with selections from the new album and a couple things from Bright Red as well. I never, ever thought I'd get to hear "O Superman" live, but there it was. It was incredible. And even though I haven't listened to Big Science in years, I still knew all the words. I guess that's what obsessing over an album at an impressionable age will do that to you. :)
     Laurie didn't have a lot to say about recent events. She started off by saying she dedicated the performance to the opportunity we all have to proceed with compassion, and then later said it was overwhelming to be back home in New York, and hear people ask "How are you?" and realize this time they actually mean it. :) The music, though, said a lot. Songs like "O Superman" and several from the new album (in particular "Statue of Liberty") were almost eerily prescient. I don't think she and the band would have had enough time to change the setlist to match the situation, either.
     All in all it was a great show. I highly recommend grabbing a ticket if you can. (9/01, meth@smoe.org)

"Homeland" was a magnificent performance, and very sharp. She had a brilliant piece called "Only An Expert Can Deal With A Problem" which provided a refreshingly amusing critique of modern obsession with consultants and television programs dealing with people's problems, and the proliferation of "advice" publications. It also touched on global warming, with an amusing reference to Al Gore. Something along the lines of "but when one expert makes a movie about the problem, and wins an oscar for the problem, then the other experts kind of have to listen" or something. I can't remember the details, and it probably sounds a little lame out of context, but in context, it was very well done indeed. (9/07, c.boek@ee.mu.OZ.AU)

Alternately gorgeous and timely and funny and often all of the above at the same time. (9/08, lotterose @ gmail . com)

"Homeland" is great. It's one of the most music-oriented performances Laurie has done in years. (9/08, timjy@sbcglobal.net)

Recommended first album:

Strange Angels (jbr@casetech.dk)

Mister Heartbreak (anthony@mh1.lbl.gov)

Mister Heartbreak and Strange Angels are the most accessible, but Big Science and Bright Red/Tightrope are my favourites. (Neile)

Recordings:


Big Science

Release info:

1982—Warner Brothers (U.S.), WEA (elsewhere)—3674-2 (U.S.); 25700 (Europe)

Availability:

In print

Ecto priority:

Must have if you like "weird" music. (jbr@casetech.dk)

Recommended for those who like experimental music. (Neile)

Experimental music...MUST HAVE! (jmgurley@drizzle.com)

Group members:

Laurie Anderson—vocals, vocoder, Farfisa, OBXa, percussion, electronics, sticks, violins, keyboards, claps, whistling, marimba

Guest artists:

Roma Baran—Farfisa bass, glass harmonica, sticks, claps, Casio, accordion, whistling
Richard Cohen—Bb clarinet, Eb clarinet, bass clarinet, bassoon, bari sax
Chuck Fisher—alto sax, tenor sax
Peter Gordon—clarinet, tenor sax
Rufus Harley—bagpipes
Perry Hoberman—bottles, sticks, claps, flute, sax, piccolo, backing vocals
George Lewis—trombones
Bill Obrecht—alto sax
David Van Tieghem—drums, RotoToms, tympani, marimba, percussion
Leanne Ungar—background vocals

Produced by:

Laurie Anderson & Roma Baran

Comments:

Get this one for the lyrics, mostly. The music is fairly sparse. (jbr@casetech.dk)

This is Laurie's first album on general release, and the strangest and most experimental. (anthony@mh1.lbl.gov)

I hated this when I first heard it but it has since grown to be one of my favourites. "O Superman" was the "hit". Full of great quotes—the lyrics are wonderful. Let yourself get used to it—you'll love it. (Neile)

A true marriage of experimental performance pieces and a pop structure. I wore the album out and had to get the cd. It has continued to amaze me since I got it in 1982. (jmgurley@drizzle.com)


United States Live I-IV

Release info:

1983—Warner Brothers (America), WEA (elsewhere)—9 25192

Availability:

In print (CD only, vinyl is out of print)

Ecto priority:

Probably for Laurie Anderson lovers only because of price (Neile)

Group members:

Part One:
Laurie Anderson—mic stand, violin bows, tape bow violin, electric violin, harmonizer, pillow speaker, toy saxophone, voice
Peter Gordon—Prophet synthesizer, voice
Geraldine Pontius—voice
Joe Kos—voice
Chuck Fiser—sax
Bill Obrecht—sax
Part Two:
Laurie Anderson—vocoder, electric violin, harmonizer, neon bow, glasses, OBXa, voice
Ann DeMarinis—OBXa and synclavier
Chuck Fisher—clarinet and sax
Bill Obrecht—flute and sax
David Van Tiegham—percussion and drums
Part Three:
Laurie Anderson—electric violin, OBXa, tamboura, telephone, tape bow violin, vocoder, harmonizer, neon violin, synclavier, voice
Roma Baran—accordion
Ann DeMarinis—OBXa and synclavier
Chuck Fisher—sax and clarinet
Rufus Harley—bagpipes
Shelly Karson—soprano
Bill Obrecht—sax
David Van Tiegham—percussion and drums
Part Four:
Laurie Anderson—synclavier, vocoder, telephone, jew's harp, electric violin, OBXa, voice
Ann DeMarinis—OBXa and synclavier
Chuck Fisher—sax and clarinet
Bill Obrecht—sax
David Van Tiegham—drums and percussion
Shelley Karson—soprano

Produced by:

Laurie Anderson and Roma Baran

Comments:

This seems to be the most performance art-oriented of the albums. Some really great songs/performance pieces, like "Language is a Virus" and "Telephone Song," but I'm more likely to play one of her other recordings before these. (Neile)

The whole ball of wax, from which selections were made for Big Science. Not to be listened to beginning to end, but sampled and sampled. (jmgurley@drizzle.com)


Mister Heartbreak

Release info:

1984—Warner Brothers (America), WEA (elsewhere)—9 25077

Availability:

In print

Ecto priority:

Must have if you like "weird" music. (jbr@casetech.dk)

Highly recommended, though perhaps not to all tastes. (anthony@mh1.lbl.gov)

Must have (Neile)

Group members:

Laurie Anderson—vocals, Synclavier, violin, whistle, electronic conches, Vocoder, bell, percussion
Adrian Belew—guitar
Bill Blaber—soprano
William S. Burroughs—vocals
Michelle Cobbs—backing vocals
Dolette McDonald—backing vocals
Anton Fier—drums, toms, woodblock
Peter Gabriel—backing vocals, Synclavier, Linn drum
Connie Harvey—Japanese chorus
Bill Laswell—bass
Brenda Nelson—backing vocals
Sang Won Park—kayagum
Daniel Ponce—iya, ikonkolo, shekere, double bell from the Cameroons
Nile Rodgers—guitar
Phoebe Snow—backing vocals
David Van Tieghem—plywood, bowls, Simmons drums, drums, steel drum, gato, bamboo
Janet Wright—Japanese chorus
Atsuko Yuma—backing vocals

Comments:

Great music and lyrics. The rhythms are quite unusual. (jbr@casetech.dk)

Much more polished/refined than Big Science. Features Peter Gabriel on two tracks, one of which he co-wrote/produced. Also features some of my favorite lyrics ever. (anthony@mh1.lbl.gov)

Even my Mom likes this one! It's the most playful of Laurie Anderson's albums. Lots of fun. Again, great lyrics. (Neile)

Shows Laurie's growth as a songwriter and singer. (jmgurley@drizzle.com)


Home of the Brave

Release info:

1986—Warner Brothers (America), WEA (elsewhere)—9 25400

Availability:

In print

Ecto priority:

Recommended mostly for Anderson fans (Neile)

Group members:

Laurie Anderson—vocals, keyboards, synclavier, synclavier violin

Guest artists:

Joy Askew—keyboards, Moog, Prophet, DX-7, vocals
Adrian Belew—guitar
Richard Landry—clarinet, saxophone
Dolette McDonald—vocals
Janice Pendarvis—vocals
David Van Tiegham—drums and percussion
Rob Sabrino—keyboards, Morse code
Nile Rodgers—guitar, keyboards, Synclavier, crowd
William S. Burroughs—vocals sample
Robert Arron—sax
Curtis King—backing vocals
Frank Simms—backing vocals
Diane Garisto—backing vocals
Tawatha Agee—backing vocals
Brenda White-King—backing vocals
Tom Durack—crowd
Knut Bahn—crowd
Daniel Ponce—percussion
Isidro Bobadillo—percussion
Bill Laswell—bass

Produced by:

Roma Baran and Laurie Anderson (except for "Language Is A Virus," produced by Nile Rodgers)

Comments:

This is the record of her Home of the Brave concert tour. The concert/performance film Home of the Brave is a "must see". (jbr@casetech.dk)

Strange Angels

Release info:

1989—Warner Brothers (America), WEA (elsewhere)—9 25900

Availability:

In print

Ecto priority:

Must have. (jbr@casetech.dk)

Highly recommended. (anthony@mh1.lbl.gov)

Recommended for those who like things a little offbeat. (Neile)

Group members:

Laurie Anderson—vocals, keyboards, percussion, drum and percussion programming

Guest artists:

Manolo Badrena—percussion
Phil Ballou—background vocals, choir
Cyro Baptista—percussion
Joey Baron—drums
Jimmy Bralower—drum programming
Bill Buchen—percussion
Angela Clemmons—choir
Hugh McCracken—harmonica
Crusher—percussion
Lew Del Gatto—bari sax
Bennie Diggs—background vocals, choir, choir director
Mark Dresser—bass
Mark Egan—bass
Bobby McFerrin—vocals
Anton Fier—drums
Lisa Fisher—background vocals, choir
Alex Foster—alto sax
Laurie Frink—trumpet
Steve Gadd—drums
Earl Gardner—trumpet
Sue Hadjopoulos—percussion
Scott Johnson—guitar
Bakithi Khumalo—fretless bass
Robert Kilgore—bass, keyboards
Kenny Kosek—violin
Dave Lebolt—keyboards
Yolanda Lee—background vocals
Tony Levin—Chapman stick
Eric Liljestrand—drum programming
Arto Lindsay—guitar
BJ Nelson—background vocals, choir
Leon Pendarvis—drum programming
Ray Phiri—guitar
Lenny Pickett—tenor sax, horn arrangement, sax
Ian Ritchie—percussion programming
Maggie Roche—background vocals
Suzzy Roche—background vocals
Terre Roche—background vocals
Peter Scherer—bass, keyboard programming, drum programming, keyboards
John Selolwane—guitar
Chris Spedding—guitar
David Spinozza—guitar
Mike Thorne—keyboards, percussion programming
David Van Tieghem—percussion
Darryl Tookes—choir
Jimi Tunnell—guitar
Steve Turre—trombone, conch shell
"Blue" Gene Tyranny—keyboards
Nana Vasconcelos—percussion
Gib Wharton—pedal steel
Paulette McWilliams—choir
Diane Wilson—choir
Tom "T-Bone" Wolk—accordion

Produced by:

Laurie Anderson and Roma Baran with Mike Thorne, Ian Ritchie, Peter Scherer, Arto Lindsay, and Leon Pendarvis

Comments:

Easier listening that the previous albums. Still great lyrics. Some beautiful songs. (jbr@casetech.dk)

This is Laurie's most feminine and also most accessible album to date. More singing, rather than talking or chanting over tracks. Some quite beautiful songs. (anthony@mh1.lbl.gov)

Laurie sings! This is a little more mellow than her other albums. "The Day The Devil" is a really fun song. (Neile)

Strange Angels is one of my favorite albums ever. (cinnamon@one.net)

At first I hated this one, because it seemed (to me) she'd sold out, decided to be a pop singer (as if she ever could), but it really is a good album of off-beat pop songs. (jmgurley@drizzle.com)


Bright Red/Tightrope

Release info:

1994—Warner Brothers (America), WEA (elsewhere)—9 45534

Availability:

In print

Ecto priority:

High for lovers of unusual, intriguing pop. (Neile)

Group members:

Laurie Anderson—vocals, keyboards

Guest artists:

Phil Ballou—back-up vocals
Cyro Baptista—percussion
Joey Baron—drums
Adrian Belew—guitar
Dougie Bowne—drums
Greg Cohen—guitar, bass
Neil Conti—percussion
Brian Eno—keyboards, treatments, loops
Ben Fenner—bass
Kevin Killen—treatments
Guy Klucevsek—accordion
Gerry Leonard—guitar
Arto Lindsay—vocals
Lou Reed—guitar, vocals
Marc Ribot—guitar
Peter Scherer—keyboards
Jamie West-Oram—guitar

Produced by:

Brian Eno with Laurie Anderson

Comments:

Finally! Laurie's first album in five years is a real winner, with wonderfully spooky production by Brian Eno. (dixon@physics.Berkeley.EDU)

She's back to her old form. After the quite disappointing Strange Angels she became more experimental again. Bright Red reminds me of Home of the Brave. The best experimental album of the year. (Dirk.Kastens@rz.Uni-Osnabrueck.DE)

Dark, subdued beauty—in collaboration with Eno she puts down uncountable layers of clarity. (jzitt@humansystems.com)

Laurie Anderson's latest is indeed wonderful, but those who first heard her thanks to Strange Angels and aren't yet familiar with her other stuff are going to be in for a surprise. (meth@smoe.org)

Laurie back to herself. More edgey than Strange Angels. (Neile)

The great surprise for me was hearing Lou Reed with Laurie on "In Our Sleep". Great song, I bet more will follow. (jsutton@rahul.net)

Any year with a new release by Laurie Anderson is a good year. A very good album, and a return to the sound that used to define Laurie. (cinnamon@one.net)

Bright Red has everything I like about Laurie Anderson; it's quirky, musically challenging, and abstract without being remote. I know I'm going to like this one a lot. It's sparse like her earlier work, but with more melody; Laurie's improved singing voice is still there, although she still talks over some of her songs like in the old days. (stevev@hexadecimal.uoregon.edu)

I enjoy bright red/tightrope quite a bit. this is where, i think, laurie can excel: on a record, she can transcend some of the cliches of her performances with music. she can't do that on stage (unless she has a band, which doesn't happen too often). while it's sparser than strange angels it seems more musical. i'm not sure how to explain that since she's not really using any more acoustic (as opposed to electric) instruments. i'd say that it bridges the gap between, say, the united states material and strange angels quite nicely but i don't see it as a move away from anything she has done in the past. i know i like bright red (especially joey baron's drum work) but it's not as immediate as some things she's done before. (woj@smoe.org)


The Ugly One with the Jewels

Release info:

1995—Warner (U.S.), WEA (Other Countries)—9 45847-2 (U.S.)

Availability:

Widely available

Ecto priority:

Recommended for lovers of performance art. Those who like United States I-IV will definitely like this. (Neile)

Group members:

Laurie Anderson—vocals, keyboards, violin

Guest artists:

Cyro Baptista—gongs, surdo, shaker
Joey Baron—drums
Greg Coeh—bass
Brian Eno—keyboards
Gerry Leonard—guitar

Produced by:

Laurie Anderson

Comments:

These are readings from Laurie Anderson's book, Stories from the Nerve Bible. The emphasis is on spoken word. (Neile)

Ugly one is almost pure storytelling, and yet, it's not a far cry from any of her other albums. (neal)

Wonderful to drive to. (meth@smoe.org)

anything by laurie is a gem. it's a great album, but given the "stories" format, it's not something i'll listen to very often—though i absolutely love it. typically brilliant, but little staying power :) (damon)

spooky and humorous all at once. (contzen@sfu.ca)

The Ugly One With The Jewels is something I should get tired of, but haven't yet. It still can make a long night drive interesting. (brad@lightfallsdesign.com)

Any year with a new Laurie Anderson release in it is a great year, and this story-telling disc was no disappointment. I am probably one of the few that likes Laurie's songs as well as her spoken-word material. (cinnamon@one.net)

This is definitely not the kind of album you can just listen to casually, as it's more stories than music, very concise stories that you don't want to miss a word off. It's Difficult Listening Hour, but extremely enjoyable. I saw her on the tour where she did this material, and I really like having it on CD so I can listen to it again. (stevev@hexadecimal.uoregon.edu)

The Ugly One With The Jewels also deserves mention for being brilliant. (garrick@area51.upsu.plym.ac.uk)


Life On A String

Release info:

2001—Nonesuch Records (Warner Bros.)—79539-2

Availability:

Widely available

Ecto priority:

Recommended

Group members:

Laurie Anderson—vocal, keyboard, violin, gongs, percussion

Guest artists:

Ben Rubin—bells
Bill Frisell—guitar
Chris Speed—saxophone
Cuong Vu—trumpet
Danny Frankel—percussion, hand claps, "box-o-toys"
David Torn—open loop
Eric Friedlander—cello
Eyvind Kang—violin
Greg Cohen—acoustic bass
Hal Willner—turntables, samples
Jamshied Sharifi—keyboards, strings
Joey Baron—percussion, drums
John Kelly—background vocal
Liheng—bariton banhu
Lou Reed—guitar
Mino Cinelu—percussion
Mitchell Froom—keyboards, Claviola, Mellotron, Wurlitzer
Mocean Worker—beats, keyboards
Peter Scherer—keyboards, percussion
Tom Nelis—vocal
Skúli Sverrisson—bass, high bass, little organ, percussion programming
Van Dyke Parks—string arrangements, keyboards
Vinicius Cantuaria—percussion
Ann Leathers, Carol Webb, Jan Mullen, Jonathan Dinklage, Ricky Sortomme, Joel Pitchon, Ellen Payne, Barry Finclair, Enrico DiCecco, Heidi Modr, Jean Ingram—violin
Sue Pray, Karen Dreyfus, Vincent Lionti, Judith Wilmer—viola
Fredrick Zlotkin, Jeanne LeBlanc—cello
Timothy Cobb—bass

Produced by:

Hal Willner, Laurie Anderson

Comments:

A lot of people I know consider Laurie Anderson the epitome of "difficult music". I guess I can see where they are coming from, even though I like the full range of her albums. But it seems to me that within Laurie's discography you can trace a line that is heading in a fairly pop direction. You have the alternative success of 1984's Mister Heartbreak and 1989's Laurie-learns-to-sing Strange Angels. Life on a Stringseems to be the next album in this sequence.
     It is easily the lushest and prettiest Laurie Anderson album to date. The singing is stronger and more assured then on older albums, and often quite melodic. But what really strikes me as being most different is the string arrangements which show up occasionally on the album. Four tracks feature prominent cello and one has a Van Dyke Parks wall of strings. The album is very musical and atmospheric, with touchs of world music and modern electronic treatments.
     Laurie is always recycling topics, and that's no exception here. You find a return of the snake and the Garden of Eden, an island called Kokovoko (shade's of Mister Heartbreak's Kokoku), and one song prominantly featuring the phrase "this must be the bones of a fallen angel", which echoes back to Strange Angels. There are a few pieces from her Moby Dickproduction (and even her interest in whales harkens back to older albums), and the typical Laurie Anderson observations, like "it's a small world... full of light... but I wouldn't want to have to... paint it".
     All in all, it's both identifiably Laurie Anderson, and yet has a smoother, unique sound from her previous efforts. And it's lots of fun to listen to! (1/02, neal)

I was hoping for more music from the Moby Dickshow, but what we got instead is well worth the omission. Laurie has become a fine singer, and the musical arrangements are some of her most accessible yet. It was especially poignant to listen to these vignettes of life in New York City in the immediate aftermath of September 11, particularly after seeing Laurie perform much of the album in NYC on 9/19. An instant classic from one of my all-time favorite artists. (1/02, meth@smoe.org)

Only sorry I missed the tour that followed this recording. (dlw@sympatico.ca)


Live in New York, 2002

Full title: Live at Town Hall New York City September 19-20, 2001

Release info:

2002—Nonesuch/Warner—79681-2

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Laurie Anderson—vocals, violin, keyboards

Guest artists:

Skúli Sverrson—bass, concertina
Jim Black—drums, electronic percussion
Peter Scherer—keyboards, samplers

Produced by:

Laurie Anderson

Comments:

A live double CD. See meth's comments about the concert she attended.

All I can say is that as a live Laurie Anderson album, it's wonderful and about as much as I could hope for in a non-visual live recording of hers. But it also really stands out as a document of the time and place. In Salon Greil Marcus comments on her maintenance of breath control and beat during "O Superman." But how she managed to get through "Statue of Liberty" is beyond me...
     Absolutely, unequivocably worth checking out.... (burka@jeffrey.net)

An incredible retrospective of her work, performed so powerfully that it really does feel like you're there. They must have been magic, necessary nights. (Neile)


Homeland

Release info:

2010—Nonesuch

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Laurie Anderson—vocals, keyboards, percussion, violin, radio

Guest artists:

Eyvind Kang—viola (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 9, 10)
Peter Scherer—keyboards (1, 2, 4, 5, 10, 11)
Igor Koshkendey—igil (1)BR<> Mongoun-ool Ondar—igil (1)
Aidysmaa Koshkendey—vocals (1, 11)
Rob Burger—keyboards (2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 9); orchestron (2, 3, 8); accordion (3, 4, 9, 10); marxophone (4)
Lou Reed—additional percussion (2); guitar (5)
Shahzad Ismaily—percussion (4)
Omar Hakim—drums (5)
Kieran Hebden—keyboards (5)
Anthony—backing vocals (7)
Ben Wittman—percussion, drums (7)
Skúli Sverrisson—bass (7, 9); guitar (8)
John Zorn—saxophone (8, 11)
Lolabelle—piano (8)
Joey Baron—drums (9)
Mario McNulty—percussion (11)

Produced by:

Laurie Anderson with Lou Reed and Roma Baran

Comments:

Homeland is an absolute work of genius. Definitely worth the wait and better than the performance I saw in Chicago. Everyone should at least give it a try. (jonwesleyhuff@gmail.com)

Further info:

Laurie Anderson also has a CD-ROM called Puppet Motel.

She performs text in part of The Rome Section of Philip Glass and Robert Wilson's the CIVIL warS: a tree is best measured when it is down.


Thanks to Neal and woj for work on this entry.

Why the ads?


Artists commented on by
Anthony _Matern @ vanguard.com

1 entry

Click the bullet for speed (drop the menu) or the name for convenience (keep the menu)


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Laurie Anderson


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Entry last updated 2012-04-17 21:48:02.
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