Saturday, July 07, 2012
STUDY GROUPS AND COMPLETIST BENDERS
Yeah yeah... Shuffle Function is on a Jandek kick. WE KNOW.
The thing about FINALLY truly absorbing what's going on (or what you sort of think is going on) with the work of Jandek is that once you get sucked in you gotta take it ALL in. There's twists and turns all over this story, and once you think you might be figuring it out, Corwood does something to remind you that you don't have the slightest idea. Maybe you never will. Maybe that's the point. But what fun is a mystery once you get it all figured out?
What you see at the top of this page is a very old catalog from Corwood Industries, the label of Jandek for the last 30+ years. If you're like me you're probably the type that gets hooked and dives right in. It happened with Rush and The Beatles and The Stones and ANYTHING from the Numero Group, and it most definitely happened with Jandek. One day it clicked and I sent off for everything, which at the time was about 50 Cds. Since then he's put out about 20 more, and that's only within the last six years or so.
Jandek is prolific.
When you order 20 or more CDs or DVDs you get a 50% price break, which is pretty sweet by any standard. However, if you don't wanna take that plunge, there are some interesting periods in the Corwood timeline that would make for good places to start.
THE FIRST FOUR ALBUMS
(0739) Ready For The House
(0740) Six and Six
(0741) Later On
(0742) Chair Beside A Window
The beginning of the catalog is a good place to get a feel for what you will be getting into. Ready For The House is the first album, and if you hear this and want more then you're gonna be o.k. Chair Beside A Window is a haunting release, and it includes the "hit single" Nancy Sings.
THE EXILE ON MAIN STREET PERIOD
(0753) Blue Corpse
(0754) You Walk Alone
(0755) On The Way
(0756) The Living End
(0757) Somebody In The Snow
(0758) One Foot In The North
(0759) Lost Cause
I refer to this stretch of albums as The Exile On Main Street Period because the releases are more approachable for newcomers. Much like how The Stones hit that four album period from Beggars Banquet through Exile On Main Street where their creativity was at its most brilliant, Jandek has this stretch filled with conventional tunings and chords and song structures. While still distinctly Jandek in sound, they are also the type of songs you could conceivably put into a music mix for somebody that's isn't a Jandek convert and not drive them away.
Of these, You Walk Alone is my favorite, and it's also the favorite of Jandek Study Group member Dave from Free Form Freakout. The songs on this one are honestly beautiful. Lavender, the first track on this album, is like a lost and melancholy surf instrumental, and that tone carries through the rest of the album.
On The Way has classics like a dirty blues version of Message To The Clerk and the haunting tracks Sometimes I Sit And Think A Lot About You and I'm Ready. Lost Cause has a couple of wonderful tracks with Babe I Love You and Crack A Smile, as well as the chilling God Came Between Us and the excruciating The Electric End.
From start to finish this period delivers some of the most accessible and conventionally enjoyable Jandek moments.
THE A CAPPELLA PERIOD
(0767) Put My Dreams On This Planet
(0768) This Narrow Road
(0769) Worthless Recluse
Thirty albums into his career Jandek delivered this trio of chilling a cappella albums. Bouncing between singing and spoken word, with odd silences dropped between each line, these albums are at times hypnotic and spooky. They aren't necessarily pleasure listens, but they are compelling listens. Not perfect for your next get together.
LATE PERIOD CORWOOD
(0779) Glasgow Sunday
(0785) Glasgow Monday: The Cell
(0788) Manhattan Tuesday: Afternoon of Insensitivity
(0789) Brooklyn Wednesday
(0792) Glasgow Sunday 2005
(0798) Portland Thursday
(0804) Chicago Wednesday
(0805) Where Do You Go From Here
This list begins with Glasgow Sunday, the recording of Jandek's first ever live performance. The bulk of what you'll find in this list is from his live recordings, each of which is a unique set of songs. Jandek doesn't do Greatest Hits sets.
The exciting thing about the live shows is that Jandek's sonic landscape expands DRAMATICALLY. The collaboration and instrumentation during this period, as well as the general tone of these shows, has been fascinating and very diverse. There are delicate piano showcases, like Glasgow Monday and Helsinki Saturday. There's the atmospheric spoken word Glasgow Sunday 2005, which could be compared to John Cale's A Dream, off of the Cale/Reed collaboration Songs For Drella. You get synthesizers and noise and haunting melodies and guest vocalists and propulsive rhythms and harps and strings and... and...
The last album on the list is the studio release Where Do You Go From Here from 2011. This studio release, probably more than any other in his catalog, feels influenced by his live performances, and it's nice to hear that sensibility preserved in that environment. This is the album we listened to at the second Jandek Study Group, and it easily ranks as one of Jandek's top releases.
I'd also recommend listening to Jandek's WFMU performance from April 2012. It's pretty great.
I realize that these groupings still present a ton of Jandek releases, but hopefully they will help you out if you feel like you might be ready to open up that door. If you're up for it, join us for our irregular meetings of the Jandek Study Group, and feel free to suggest albums and environments for our meetings. It's all about hanging out and listening to Jandek, you guys.
If you're interested in ordering Jandek releases from Corwood Industries, follow the instructions on the catalog at the top of the page.