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Slow down as you approach the gate, and have your change ready....
Saturday Night and Sunday Morning
Artist: Counting Crows
Label: Polydor Group
I had lost the love for Adam Duritz et al beneath all the sheen. When T-Bone Burnett produced their debut, August and Everything I, he talked about how usually a band brings you demos and you make an album out of them but with that album he took a record and turned it into demos! Burnett is the genius (ask Alison Krauss and Robert Plant!) and for T-Bone, to hear Duritz at his most vulnerable and ragged, sheen was not what the doctor ordered. Their last album, Hard Candy, got over produced to win radio-friendly-big-sales USA and suffered as a result. So it is encouraging to read the booklet of Saturday Night and Sunday Morning where Duritz thanks the producers Gil Norton, Brian Deck and James Brown "for understanding me and sticking with the vision of this album in the face of pretty much universal disapproval. Records SHOULD be what they are MEANT to be. Everything else is... well, someone else's shite record!" Music as art and battling for the vision against commercial pressures has to be defiantly supported. It certainly makes this concept of exploring the two days of the weekend the most interesting Crows album since Burnett was at the wheel.
In the old days of vinyl I guess there would have been two sides -Saturday Night... and Sunday Morning - though side two would have been too long to fit! Anyway, I guess before you go out to party you could play Saturday night and pause it until you crawl back home late for some late night bedsit gentleness on your ringing head! This does make the track list a little unbalanced but if this is "what it is meant to be" then let us leave it as part of Duritz's artistic head. And the songs on both days work. There are big hints of their old touring bodies Cracker in the electric Saturday tracks. "Los Angeles" goes off on an ad lib musing and Insignificant riffs in like the Stones before going dreamy Sgt Pepper. The slower stuff has always been their forte and "Ballet D'Or" has fragile piano and hurtful yearning and the more confident piano melody of "On Tuesday In Amsterdam Long Ago" is as good as Counting Crows ballads get with not the first Irish reference on this collection.
On "Ballet D'Or" he sings "But I would be lying/If I didn't tell you the truth" and that is what you get from Counting Crows, not the big universal Truth but one man being honest and truthful with his own successes and accesses and failings and needs. Authenticity needs to sound true as well as the words being true and that is what this production gives these songs.
Steve Stockman is the Presbyterian Chaplain at Queens University, Belfast,
Ireland, where he lives in community with 88 students. He has written two
books Walk On; The Spiritual Journey of U2 which he is currently updating
and The Rock Cries Out; Discovering Eternal Truth in Unlikely Music. He
dabbles in poetry and songwriting and he has a weekly radio show on BBC
Radio Ulster (listen anytime of day or night @ www.bbc.co.uk/ni/religion/rhythmandsoul).
He has his own web page--Rhythms of Redemption at http://stocki.ni.org
. He also tries to spend some time with his wife Janice and daughters Caitlin