Album reviews: Nels Cline 4 and The Who

Album reviews: Nels Cline 4 and The Who

New album: Currents, Constellations
Artist: The Nels Cline 4
Label: Blue Note

Veteran guitarist Nels Cline's highest-profile gig is his role as lead guitarist for the band Wilco, but he's also nurtured a solo career that predates his involvement with that band by nearly two decades.

Cline's latest venture is The Nels Cline 4, a galactic jazz group featuring guitarist Julian Lage, drummer Tom Rainey and bassist Scott Colley. Lage has previously recorded the brilliant acoustic guitar duet album {begin ital}Room{end ital} with Cline, while Colley and Rainey have played together in various configurations for many years. All of this cross-pollination explains the astounding level of musical ESP displayed on {begin ital}Currents, Constellations{end ital}.

This is technically jazz, but that should't scare the average rock (or pop) fan. Given the chance, the songs on this album display layers of melody embedded in the exquisite improvisations. Opening track "Furtive" begins with what sounds like the band tuning up, only to quickly develop into a driving, off-kilter adventure. Cline and Lage seem to inspire each other, while Colley and Rainey prove themselves to be as formidable as any rhythm section in Blue Note history.

"Imperfect 10" sounds like a Kenny Burrell take on King Crimson, pulsing with rock drive and jazz swing. "As Close As That" creeps along in noir fashion, simmering and building intensity all along.  "Amenette" features Cline and Lage recreating the guitar telepathy they first explored on their {begin ital}Room{end ital} collaboration.

In short, this is a stunning piece of modern music. Longtime fans of Cline or improvisational music of any kind will love this album.

The Who Fillmore East.jpg

Classic album: Live at the Fillmore 1968
Artist: The Who
Label: Universal

When The Who played Bill Graham's legendary New York venue Fillmore East in 1968, they were still an underground band with a swelling cult following. 

Recorded a year before the band released {begin ital}Tommy{end ital} and shot to international super-stardom, this live set features many songs the band would never play onstage again. Of those early gems, the extended version of "Relax" is worth the price of this album alone. Guitarist Pete Townshend and bassist John Entwistle spark off of each other and improvise mini-symphonies against the backdrop of Keith Moon's blitzkrieg drumming. 

These tapes have been bootlegged for decades, but none of those releases come close to the clarity and punch of this collection. It's easy to see how/why vocalist Roger Daltrey developed his legendary roar of a voice. To be heard over the turbulent beauty created by his band mates, Daltrey had to belt it out through P.A. systems that were ill-equipped for such volume. 

Along with blistering takes on three Eddie Cochran covers ("Summertime Blues", "My Way" and "C'mon Everybody"), Townshend-penned rarities such as "Little Billy" (a song written for the American Cancer Society) and "A Quick One While He's Away" showcase The Who at their pulverizing yet inventive best. Disc two is comprised solely of a 34-minute version of the band's hit single "My Generation", and it is a relentless marvel to behold.

Hopefully, there are more pre-Tommy Who concerts lurking in he vaults. Live At Leeds will always and forever be THE live Who album, but Live at the Fillmore 1968 is just as essential.

Contact Jon Dawson at and

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Lenoir County property transfers for May 2018

Lenoir County property transfers for May 2018

Lenoir County births for May 2018

Lenoir County births for May 2018