Lee Ranaldo makes for Trim reading….
You may remember Flick Of The Finger giving you lucky lot a taster of the new live album from Sonic Youth legend, Lee Ranaldo, a few weeks ago.
Now that said album, Electric Trim, Live At Rough Trade East, is here in it’s entirety and will appease everyone who was, or wasn’t, at one of his tour dates. So…what’s it like?
Well, it starts in earnest with the ten and half minute spectacular, Moroccan Mountains. It certainly is a song full of Moroccan flavour and the opening bars of the song draw you in, and Ranaldo gives a commentary opening before giving off a harmonious vocal in this very epic opening number. If live acoustic is your thing, this will get your attention immediately.
Let’s Start Again is the second song in and Ranaldo lets his vocals really come to the fore with this, with a hint of Michael Stipe about it. “Start again, that’s my intent……”, he proclaims, just before he breaks into the guitar sounds that made him a household name with Sonic Youth. Third song of the album is Circular (Right As Rain). “It’s about routines…….”, explains Ranaldo. And he then tells of how those routines in life, his especially, are very apparent. Every day occurrences, if you will. A good song, nonetheless.
Title track, Electric Trim, is next up and is a great number. I’ve often found with live albums that the more intimate they are, the better they sound. This song is no exception, even to the point when Ranaldo gives it a great turn of speed after such a subtle opening. Six and a bit minutes of pure excellence. Uncle Skeleton is the second song, as well as Electric Trim, that he co-wrote with Jonathan Lethem, and it’s a song that is true to it’s title. Ranaldo goes into enthusiastic specifics about the bones beneath our skin in this wonderfully mad number.
Thrown Over The Wall is the stand out song of the album. A real outlook on goes on in the world today, with Ranaldo sounding, vocally and musically, brilliant. A song of real meaning, sounding great acoustically and full of passion. Last Looks was the song we featured not so long ago, and on the studio album version, Ranaldo teams up with Sharon van Etten. He takes on both roles in this live version, and does a great job. A beaut of a song, with Ranaldo giving his absolute all on this track.
Penultimate track is Off The Wall. And before you ask, no it’s not a cover of the Michael Jackson disco number. It’s a 3 minute song with a message of what goes on. “Chaos in the streets, right? These are the days of rage…..”, Ranaldo profoundly asks and explains. A view on the world in just 3 minutes and 16 seconds. Last song on the album is New Thing. A song about the internet, and the frustrations it can bring, sang in the power of music from Ranaldo. A song that closes this stylish album very well indeed.
Cast your mind back to a few years ago when Foo Fighters did their live acoustic album, Skin And Bones. It showed that their songs could be done without amplifiers. Lee Ranaldo made his name with Sonic Youth using amplifiers to his advantage, and now he too shows that the rock can still be done without the roll. This album should be part of your collection, it really is that good. Lee Ranaldo really is that good too.
Electric Trim, Live At Rough Trade East by Lee Ranaldo is released on Friday 14th December on all formats via the Mute label