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Overlooked Alternatives: Bill Callahan, ELP, Marillion, Robert Pollard, Porcupine Tree

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Big week this time. Lots of great stuff out to keep everyone busy for a while. How will we have time for it all?

Bill Callahan – Woke On A Whale Heart: Formerly known as Smog, Callahan sheds the "band" image but continues to put out music in basically the same style as his previous album, A River Ain't Too Much To Love. Mostly acoustic, the album does have it's share of electric moments and doesn't wallow in the maudlin. Callahan is a storyteller of the finest order and, like good stories, they bear repeating and get better with age. His deep, tobacco-soaked drawl and conversational tone make listening to his music seem like sitting with an old friend, but his observations are both wry and deep. This is a rewarding listen for those who like music that gives the listener much to chew on. I've got more to say about this, but I'll save it for a review to be coming later when I've given the album a little more time to sink in.

ELP – Tarkus (Remaster): Oh, come on, I couldn't pass up an opportunity to mention my favorite album about an armored armadillo-tank. This time it's being reissue in newly remastered form by Shout Factory, and I hear it's a good remaster (better than the Rhino one, at least.)

Marillion – Somewhere Else: You know, I could talk about this here, or I could just send you over to the two reviews on Blogcritics (mine and Glen Boyd's.)

Robert Pollard – Silverfish Trivia: That's two weeks in a row for Pollard, but only this is technically a "new" release, since last week's was a compilation. I honestly have no idea what's in store for us with this EP, other than more of Pollard's typically collage-type lyrics and Who-meets-prog-meets-punk-meets-Beatles melodies. Sounds awesome!

Porcupine Tree – Fear Of A Blank Planet: The master of prog-metal returns. Steven Wilson, hot on the heels of his second Blackfield outing (and one of the year's best albums at that,) releases what many are considering his masterpiece, which includes the 17-minute "Anesthetize," with guitar-guest spots from Alex Lifeson of Rush and Robert Fripp of King Crimson.

Speaking of Fripp, if any band today could be heirs to the King Crimson throne, it's Porcupine Tree, and for good reason: an uncompromising commitment to quality music that has resulted in a catalog that continues to get better and better . I just wish I could say what this album sounded like… but I'm still waiting for mine. See, I got caught up in the whole "limited edition" debacle, and it turns out that, for this one, it was very limited (reports are between 5000 and 7500 copies worldwide). I'd placed my order at DAmnazon (see what I did there?) only to have it kicked back a month, which means I ain't gettin' one, at least not from them. Of course, Ebay's got them, but prices have already gotten ridiculous. All is not lost – I may have tracked down one store online that claims to have them in stock at retail prices, but we'll see if they actually ship or not. I have learned my lesson: don't wait to order the special edition.

What's the big deal, what's the big difference? The standard edition comes in a jewelcase with a 12 page book while the limited edition has a 40 page book in a box with a CD and a DVD of the album 5.1 DTS. Granted, I can't utilize that DVD yet, but someday… At this point, I just want the beautiful packaging. I can get the music at any store, but this package is my desire.

About Tom Johnson

  • Hung Nguyen

    I heard there were manufacturing problems with the PT limited edition, at least the version with the NTSC DVD. I had preordered from CD Universe and the same thing happened to me. They may send out a new wave of limited editions in a few weeks.

  • http://www.lookoutforhope.com Tom Johnson

    That’s what I’m hoping, Hung. I’ve got my order safely sitting with Amazon and even emailed them a couple of times to ask what was going on and they said they’ve been assured they will be getting stock between May 25 and June 8, so if you want one, that apparently may be when it’s going to happen. Fingers are crossed!