Saturday, April 16, 2005

Jack Nitzsche's 'Hearing is Believing'

I just recently purchased the new Jack Nitzsche collection “Hearing is Believing: 1962-1979” and I am not totally in love with this collection – but I am really intrigued with Nitzsche and his work.

For instance I love his “Lonely Surfer” album and a friend of mine got me a copy on vinyl “Jack Nitzsche Plays Chopin” (I may not have the correct name of the title) and that is super as well. I also like his work in Crazy Horse – not that crazy about Neil Young’s material – but really love his arrangements on the Stones recordings as well as his work on the Spector records.

Most of the material on this collection I feel is sort of ‘hack’ work done by a really great arranger. I am sure there are reasons why they couldn’t use material like Jagger’s ‘Memo from Turner” from “Performance” (another great piece of work by Nitzsche) and that I think is a great shame.

So I was wondering if anyone on this list or blog has heard this collection and what their thoughts are on it. There are 26 songs and I think half of them are either really interesting or just plain fantastic.


Kim said...

When I was young, I would regularly have dreams about Jack Nitzsche. I didn't even know what he looked like, and long after the dreams I heard terrible stories about what a brute he was, but those stories were not the germ of the dreaming. In the dreams I would be at cool events with important people milling around, and he would be one of them, and people would whisper "there he is, Jack Nitzsche," and sometimes I'd talk to him. I guess he became a dream archetype because he was seemingly always where the action was, and he had that killer nihilist name.

Here's a wonderfully complete JN discography, courtesy of the pop maniacs at Spectropop:

I especially dig the early Crazy Horse records, Tim Buckley's debut and "Love Her" by the bombastic early Walker Brothers. What's your fave Jack Nitzsche rave?

Tosh said...

My fave Nitzsche is the Performance soundtrack - and his solo album "The Lonely Surfer' is also ace. The Bobby Darin track off the collection 'Not For Me' is a beautiful record.

Also what's up with the make-up as he got older. Was he a cross-dresser? If he was, I would like his work ...with a greater intensity!

Count Reeshard said...

The Ace collection is an adequate commemoration, but the Japanese comp "His Restless Years" is filled with great cuts. The Paris Sisters' "Lonely Girl" reinvents the girl group sound, subaquatic and narcotic (as in "My boyfriend dumped me, but since I've discovered heroin I feel so much better about the whole thing..."); I never thought that I'd take anything seriously by Gary Lewis & the Playboys, but "Jill" shows Nitzsche's abilities to best advantage; Ramona King's "What About You" is simply tough-sounding, with a great left-handed piano bassline; and the clutch of Nitzsche solo tracks concluding the disc saved my ass when I was interviewing Lux and Poison Ivy of The Cramps for the U.K. magazine, The Wire. Jack was friendly with the First Couple of Psychobilly towards the end of his life and they were thrilled to hear tracks such as "Señorita from Detroit" for the first time. [N.B.: "His Restless Years" is mastered at frustratingly low volume. I put its contents into Pro Tools and boosted the levels appreciably, to great effect.]

It is a great shame that his film work is not properly commemorated; there is no "Nitzsche" bin in the soundtracks section next to "Herrmann," "Morricone" and the rest. Often as not, he was slotted as composer of interstitial music in films that licensed lots of 'oldies,' such as Stand By Me. His 1980 score for Cutter's Way is maybe his best work for film, arranged for glass harmonica, electric string quartet and bowed saw. It is perfectly matched to this odd 'buddy' story, the sound of suicidal pluck and altruism in the face of impossible odds. Certainly worth dubbing the cues from the DVD (as i did).