MCM #1 - Live Songs That Don't Suck

We're back! Due to an overwhelming inability for me to cajole songs out of people and post them up weekly, we've switched to monthly. Click here to download all of MCM #1 or hunt and peck below. If you like something or hate something or whatever, please make a comment! Some of these files are m4a format, so you should download them all with the link above or right click and save them to your machine.

"Ágætis Byrjun [Live]" Sigur Rós

Allison writes: If there is one show I can recommend you ever attend in your life, it is one by the Icelandic band Sigur Rós. The sheer epic beauty of it all will blow your mind.

This track in particular was part of their return home to perform a series of concerts across the island (i.e. at the base of mountains, on the street, next to waterfalls, inside an abandoned factory, etc).

I must also take this opportunity to plug one of the most lovely DVDs released last year: Heima. It's their documentary of their aforementioned live music adventure across the incomparably strange and wondrous country of Iceland. There is a strong likelihood that watching it will enhance your life in some way, however small. Or at the very least give you a new travel destination.

The trailer is here, and contains one of my favorite most explosive songs of theirs, Í Gær. (I would have included it here but the recording is technically is not live): http://www.heima.co.uk/video/

Watch and get some chills!

"Airtap" Eric Mongrain

Felix writes: While many folks have attempted a similar style before (most notably, I'm thinking of the blind guitarist Jeff Healey, from the late 1980's), Eric Mongrain is someone that caught my eyes and ears a year or so ago.

He plays guitar normally, but for this particular track has the guitar flat on its back, across his lap. He strums and plays with both hands, tapping frets as well as the body of the guitar, and makes a pretty great song out of everything combined.

I liked this track when I first came across it, so much so that I took great pains to figure out how to convert the track over to an mp3. I still play it on my iPod from time to time.

The quality of the audio isn't great, but the performance is a good one. And it's quite stunning to actually see him perform it via video.

"Comfortable" John Mayer

Margaret writes: I've always appreciated the sentiment of this song - it's very sweet and tender, and a bit heartbreaking. I'm especially fond of this lyric:

"I loved you...grey sweatpants...no makeup...so perfect"

"Lola" The Kinks

Walt writes: How could I not start off the Monthly Collective Mix Tape with a Kinks song? This live version of Lola is from The Kinks One for the Road album – the album that connected me to the Kinks. Girls will be boys and boys will be girls, it's a mixed up, muddled up, shook up world except for Lola!

"Rid of Me (Live at the Vic Theatre)" P.J. Harvey

James writes: Great slow-burner of a song laid bare in front of a crowd of 1500 rabid Polly Jean followers in Chicago.

"Now I'm Here" Queen

Dan writes: I’ve been a Queen fan since the late ‘70s and quickly started enjoying some of their more obscure tunes. When I finally got my hands on Live Killers, their first live album, from a second-hand album store in Evanston sometime in the early ‘80s, I was pleasantly surprised by the live rendition of one of my all-time favorite Queen songs, “Now I’m Here”. I’ve never seen this performed live, but whenever I hear part of this song where Freddie is stating more than singing, “Now I’m Here” several times, I imagine that he is running from one spot on the stage to another. Who knows, could be true. Hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

"The End Is Begun" 3

Juicy writes: This band is chalk full of talent and it oozes out of every member. Of the 100+ bands I've seen live I have to say 3 is the best live performance I've ever seen. Each band member is very good at playing their instruments and that doth please the musician in me. The show stealer is most definitely their lead singer Joey Eppard who has a R&B type vocal style that is juxtaposed on top of his very unique and impressive guitar playing. He is probably the only person alive that rocks the shit out of a venue playing an acoustic guitar. (you get a taste of this in the song) I recommend picking up some of their albums and catching their next live show!

"Willie The Wimp" Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble

James writes: Two-bit Chicago gangster Willie Stokes, Jr. was immortalized in this SRV live classic. While it's true that crime doesnt pay, it kinda kicks ass that Stokes was buried in a Cadillac coffin.

"Mystery of Iniquity" Lauryn Hill

Utopia writes: Live from MTV's Unplugged series, Lauryn Hill brings thoughts and verses of years of absence from the limelight. I am always amazed at the depth and craft of her lyrics-both raw and thought provoking, Lauryn proves to be a true MC. Many may know this song from the hook of Kanye West's song, "All Fall Down." Lauryn is the original songstress and here is where it all began.

"You Don't Know Where Your Interest Lies" Simon & Garfunkel

Sarah writes: Thanks to my mother, I'm a big Simon and Garfunkel fan and this live album is my favorite by far. Just their voices, acoustic guitar, and the songs . . . this is the way they are supposed to be heard/played. After hearing this album, the other ones sound way over-produced. I picked this particular song for Paul Simon's stellar guitar playing. They were both 25 years old at this performance.

"Rosa Lee McFall" Grateful Dead

Mike writes: I voted for this category and yet found it incredibly hard to settle on a song. That said, my submission is by the Grateful Dead, a band that (arguably) owns the notion of “live performance.” The song is called “Rosa Lee McFall” and is from a two-disc set of live, acoustic material recorded in September and October 1980 (for a live album called “Reckoning”). I have nothing prophetic to say…I hope you enjoy this two minute and fifty-four second tune about love and love lost.

"Everybody's Talkin' (Live)" Fred Neil

Brian writes: I don't really have any proclivity towards the live version of this song, but it is a fine song that I happen to possess the live version of. You may or may not be familiar with Harry Nilsson's version of this song in the movie Midnight Cowboy. Fred Neil wrote the original version, and this is it.

But what would the first MCM be without a Dax Riggs reference?: I've had Neil's Bleecker and McDougal album for some time. There is a song on there called "Little Bit of Rain" that I highly recommend. Anyway, when I was in Baton Rouge and New Orleans on April 24 and 25 this year, Dax played "Everybody's Talkin'" and I could not get it out of my head. I sing/play music every night and every morning before work. Since April 26 I have sang this song in particular, every morning and every night.

"Coxcomb Red (Live)" Songs: Ohia

Ben writes: There was a period in time when I was infatuated with Jason Molina. During that time I saw him play as Songs: Ohia at the Empty Bottle. The crowd was unruly and nobody was listening. Near the end of the show, he attempted to play this song just as you year it but was almost drowned out by the chatter from the bar. He stopped playing mid-song and said goodnight. I always liked him for that. In this recording, he finishes it.

"Cortez the Killer" Built to Spill

Chris writes: I first heard Built to Spill's Live when I traveled up to New York with my girlfriend towards the end of college. Her brother was going to NYU for music composition and spent a lot of time sitting in his room, getting high and listening to records that would "take him to another place" in order to reveal some deep thread of musical importance he had yet to consider. This type of behavior is not at all uncommon amongst students of music (or college students in general, for that matter). Although I wasn't high at the time, listening to this epic (20+ minute) rendition of Neil Young's classic "Cortez the Killer" with the lights out and the volume cranked definitely "took me to another place." Close your eyes, climb aboard the soaring, aching guitar and hug its neck as it carries you back to the past to reveal heart-breaking Aztec atrocities.

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FCM #6 - INSTRUMENTALS Shut your trap! You can't sing along to this mix unless you're really fond of humming. A big hearty welcome to Felix who joins us for the first time on this mix. Click here to download the entire FCM #6 - INSTRUMENTALS or hunt and peck below. If you like something or hate something or whatever, please make a comment! Some of these files are m4a format, so you should download them all with the link above or right click and save them to your machine.

Next week's theme is still up for grabs - post a comment to cast your vote for (a) Girls Rock! (b) Love and Loss (c) Songs that tell a story. Voting ends on monday at noon so get on it!

"Better Go Home Now" Dirty Three - 1995
Jennifer writes: Dirty Three signed to the record label I worked for at that time. Right after they signed on with the label, they played a show in town and we all went to check them out. Earlier in the day, Warren, the violin player, had broken up with his girlfriend and proceeded to get drunk on Jack Daniels before the show and was smashed by the time they hit the stage. Right before launching into "Better Go Home Now", he rambled poetically (yet nonsensically) about his girlfriend and clouds and airplanes then fell to the stage and played this song from his back. I thought it was the most amazing performance ever.

Flash forward a few months... as it turned out, Warren had a lot of personal issues and was on again/off again with his girlfriend all the time and it turns out that the poetic ramblings was something he did for every show. So it wasn't really all that special after all but every time I hear this song, I think of that one performance.

"Rumble" Link Wray & His Ray Men - 1958
Jane writes: My dad had this one in his jukebox when I was little, and I used to play it and think it sounded dangerous and "dirty" compared with the other 60's pop that made up the selections. And I guess I wasn't the only one who felt that way -- it was actually banned on radio stations back in the day just because it sounded so menacing... "A rare feat for a song with no lyrics."

An iconic instrumental from an iconic artist who grandfathered the overdrive and distortion effects we hear in music everyday now. I had the honor of seeing Link Wray live about 11 years ago before he died, and I was absolutely starstruck.

"Closet Quencher" Eschatol - 2007
Justin writes: So this week because since it's instrumentals I decided to go with a selection from a band I know very well. The band is Eschatol (es-ka-tall) and I currently play guitar in this particular group.

About a year ago we were offered free recording time from The Playground studio over on west Grand. So we went in for a few days and cranked out a 4 song demo. It was our first recording experience that actually ended in a decent sounding demo. We have always tried to take these matters into our own hands and ended up failing miserably. This song is a part of a newer style we began writing in and will also be featured on our new album that we are preparing to release.

This song and the rest of the demo is available for listen and download at our website, eschatol.com

"The Haul" Calexico - 1995
Jennifer writes: They were on the same label (see Dirty Three above) and to this day are still my all time favorite artists to work with. They have since developed a fuller sound but this is off their first CD when they were just two guys playing multiple instruments.

"Mess Around" Professor Longhair - 1985
James writes: There was a brief time in my life when I wanted to learn how to play piano. Professor Longhair's the reason. His music is the Rosetta Stone that all New Orleans piano players learned from, and, decades later, still a great listen.

"Orion" Metallica - 1986
Brian writes: Man, these guys used to be so good. The whole song is great, but at about 4 minutes in you will find some of the greatest music ever written, in my opinion anyway. Man, these guys suck now...

"Invention No. 13 in A Minor, BWV 784" Glenn Gould
Felix writes: In college, I watched a film called "Thirty-Two Short Films About Glenn Gould" and got interested in Glenn Gould's music - specifically his Bach/Goldberg Variations. I'm not a huge Classical Music fan, but I really dug Gould's abilities on the piano - particularly with really fast pieces.

I got obsessed with doing a visualization of one of his pieces (the one I chose), and ended up creating a Flash project that displayed every note he played. I got so wrapped up in finishing the thing that I actually called in sick to work one day, just so I could stay at home and work on the thing. Gould Project

"The Pink Panther Theme" Henry Mancini - 1963
Walt writes: Well, first I was going to go with the Batman Theme song from 1966, but of course that's not an instrumental ... right? Not according to Adam West, who claims the the female-voiced "Batman"s in the tune were actually done with instruments. I'm not one to argue with Adam, but I still thought it was cheating. My next choice was "Green Onions" by Booker T and the MGs and while I think it's a great instrumental, I'm going to hold that one back until a later date. Which brings me to Henry Mancini. Once decided on the great Mancini, I had actually chosen a different tune, which I'm also going to hold back until we hit the Halloween-themed FCM. That in no way diminishes the Pink Panther theme, one of the greatest movie themes ever and instantly recognizable! I like this version because it's a bit longer and gets jazzier in latter third of the piece.

"Cavatina" Stanley Myers - 1976
Christine writes: My dad liked to play the Deerhunter soundtrack while we had brunch. Weird, but it's a very pretty instrumental. There is actually a lot more to the whole movement but I didn’t want to overburden anyone with it. If you would like the whole thing, let me know. As a side note, we used to call the soundtrack to Clockwork Orange the "silly record" ... I've had to revisit a few childhood memories because of that one. Enjoy!

"Stairway To Heaven" London Symphony Orchestra
Renata writes: For the life of me, I can’t remember if I heard the Chicago Symphony Orchestra perform Stairway to Heaven … or if, after hearing one of their performances, I obsessively downloaded a bunch of their performance tracks and their rendition of Stairway to Heaven was one of them. ANYHOW. I wasn’t able to find the CSO’s rendition on my computer or iTunes, so the London Symphony Orchestra’s version must do for now. Nothing like the power of a symphonic orchestra to add to the existing awesomeness of a classic.

"Palladio (1st Movement)" Karl Jenkins, London Philharmonic Orchestra & The Smith Quartet
Margaret writes: This one is a bit of a novelty - it's the song from the De Beers commercials in the late 90's. I played the violin when I was growing up, and we begged our orchestra conductor to let us play this song...she conceded, and we proceeded to butcher it because it was waaaaaaaaay too advanced for us, but we had a good time anyway. I love the cello and violin solos that take place after the first minute.

"Marche Slave, Op. 31" Gennadi Rozhdestvensky & London Symphony Orchestra
Margaret writes: I first heard this song from an episode of "Salute Your Shorts" when I was a kid. I loved it at the time, but had no clue what it was or how to get a hold of it. Then, as fate would have it, my jr. high orchestra conductor handed it out to us for an upcoming concert. I don't know exactly why I love it, but the first movement is one of my favorite pieces of music of all time. It just sounds so mischievious and sneaky.

"Built Then Burnt - On The Nature Of Daylight" A Silver Mt. Zion - Max Richter 2001, 2004
Ben writes: One night in 2004 I was working late and listening to music but zoning out in code-land. I had the crossfader set to several seconds in iTunes (the feature was new!) and this wonderful thing happened... "Built Then Burnt" by A Silver Mt. Zion transitioned into Max Richter's "On The Nature Of Daylight" and i didn't notice. BUT then I did notice. A week later I manually faded the two tracks into eachother to create one consistent file and that's what i've posted here. Two excellent songs that form one amazing journey. Unless you know where one starts and the other finishes it'll be hard to tell. wonderful.

"White Lake" Deaf Center - 2005
Allison writes: Deaf Center is a Norwegian duo on UK ambient/electro-classical label extraordinaire Type. Their 2006 full length, Pale Ravine, feels as if it could have been a soundtrack specifically scored for the dream I had the other night about walking through a fog-laden ancient forest (only I was hovering a foot off the ground) when an owl perched on my left shoulder and began cawing secret messages about buried caches of treasure. I highly recommend listening to not only this track, but the entire album, late at night while on the brink of sleep.

"Konigsforst 5" Gas - 1999
Nick writes: My contribution this week is a short-ish piece by Wolfgang Voigt, who recorded several influential deep techno albums in the late nineties and early 00s under the alias Gas. Voigt later went on to found the techno label Kompakt with Michael Mayer, which some years later released last year's Metacritic best-of album "From Here We Go Sublime" by the Field. Connections!

Contrary to the ID3 tag, everything he recorded was untitled. This is the fifth track from his 1999 album "Konigsforst" - his most critically celebrated, but probably not his most popular - later remastered and issued under the box set Nah und Fern.

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Chico friend

For some reason I just couldn't connect with The Concretes back in 2004 when their self-titled record was released. It might have been due to the fact that i was gobbling up new records at an alarmingly gluttonous pace that year, searching for material to post up on the mp3 blog. At that time, if a record didn't catch me on the first listen, chances are i wasn't coming back for another listen. This song grabbed me last night and arrested my full attention - the simple bass/drums/bells, the spaciousness of it all with it's narcotic guitar and string arrangements. I had to STOP and listen, REALLY listen. That's a good thing. So i'm catching up to The Concretes - going back to pay closer attention, and i really like what i'm hearing.
"Chico" The Concretes

When i was preparing this post i found another version of this song, remixed by The Avalanches. It's quite good too (but the original is better!)
"Chico (Avalanches Remix)" The Concretes

iTunes ($)

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