Friday night listened to/watched Foreigner: Live at Soundstage (Chicago)- concert DVD... I never was a fan, but some of the younger guys I work with suggested I might like them. I recognized and enjoyed several of their hits.
I really enjoyed Kelly Hansen's singing. Great voice, IMHO... This DVD has great video and sound (DTS).
I picked this up in FYE because it was cheap and it looked interesting, although I suspected- correctly- that the music contained within might not be particularly noisy. The copyright is 2002, but it sounded like a pastiche of industrial music from fifteen years earlier— the boring, Nitzer Ebb-style industrial, not the actual good industrial music of the era. This isn't terrible, but I didn't care to go more than a few songs in.
• Anton Webern - Variations for Orchestra Op.30, Cantata #2 Op. 31
My appreciation of Webern's twelve-tone serialist works is hardly unreserved. Compared with the jagged expressionism of earlier pieces like the Six Bagatelles (in my mind, a high-water mark for whatever-the-hell-it-is,) Webern shed much of his enigmaticism, and in pieces like the Quartet Op 22 and Concerto Op. 24 we get music that's decidedly classicist in form and feel— stately, architectonic, and a little dry. In fact, it wasn't until I read Robert Craft's book of interviews with Stravinsky that I realized this period of Webern's output was contemporaneous with Stravinksky's own neo-Classical experimentation. The Variations seem to align with this sense of classicism, although it's a sterling example nonetheless. The guy clearly had a knack for orchestration, and- in comparing the Variations to his early Passacagalia- I can't help but feel it's a shame that his developed musical idiolect never quite allowed him the opportunity to again produce such lush orchestrations of his own works. It's a shame as well that Webern met such a premature end, particularly because- in his next and final opus-numbered piece, his second cantata- he seems to have been discovering- or re-discovering- a sort of florid romanticism. Even more remarkably, the concluding choral canon seems like a dodecaphonic answer to the "Dona nobis pacem" from Bach's Mass in B Minor. All said, it's probably my favorite of all Webern's compositions.
• R.E.M. - Collapse into now
I think it will be a while before this album gets its full due. In some ways it hearkens back to Out Of Time- an album that always seems under-appreciated even as its their best-selling- but it is a fully-formed musical statement of its own. Contrary to what some people say, it is not R.E.M.-trying-to-sound-like-R.E.M., not that R.E.M. ever tried to stake out a particularly broad musical compass. In fact, there are moments in songs like It Happened Today and Walk It Back where you just have to sit back and let the gorgeousness of the sound wash over you— an aural luxuriousness for which I have trouble thinking of any precedents in their catalog. The album is certainly not without its faults; Stipe's lyrics can be too on-the-nose at times, and the man who once sang both "Gardening at Night" and "Can't Get There From Here" has had his vocal range seemingly reduced to a gravelly mid-range minor-third. The album also suffers from poor sequencing; the horrid "Marlon Brando" should have been excised completely, and if it were possible at the time to replace it with "Part Garbage"'s "Hallellujah" as the penultimate track, it would have truly been an éclat of album sequencing.