the palace of fine arts is gorgeous and full of historical significance and also an amazing place to partake in such great todd history as the 2nd wind sessions (not shows! ) this was also shortly after the earthquake that rocked SF in '89 so it was an incredible time to visit. i had also always wanted to see haight/ashbury, beatnik bars, golden gate park, alcatraz, and several other 'monuments' and this was my chance to. this was also the first time i actually got to talk with todd (not just say hello and get an autograph), after the first session, meet his mother ruth, hit on a very young liv rundgren-tyler, get backstage at a todd show, and be invited onto the guest list (by bobby strickland). each night's seat got better and better as the sessions went on until i ended up front and center. the todd 'museum' that filled the entrance to the palace was incredible - full of amazing fan items, authentic clothing, rare photos and tour programs, and about anything todd-related that one could ever imagine. the buzz and energy on the grounds of the palace was bottle-able and delicious.
todd lived across the golden gate bridge in sausalito at that time so my buddy, brad p, and i were able to check out his house (from a small distance) and incredible neighborhood. many small shopkeepers were willing to discuss their famous neighbor with us and we learned much while leaving a wisco impression upon many people.
the mere thought of watching the master producer/engineer/performer/artist was enough to get me on the plane, several tickets in hand.
the first evening was like meeting the new material while getting acquainted with todd's concept for the album. we were all quite thrilled and excited at being the very first to hear these new songs. although todd was rather unhappy with the first eve's recordings due to problems in the recording truck, most of us were incredibly overwhelmed with the evening as it was one of the most unique and special nights a toddhead could ever dream of.
so all this amazing praise can finally lead up to my thoughts on the album.
i met a local bootlegger there (as i was intrigued by his AWATS jean jacket) and we hung on one of the off days. he turned me onto his collection of rare runt memorabilia and live cassettes and we had a fantastic day. i then learned he was recording the entire week's worth of sessions and was able to get some dubs prior to heading back to america's dairyland so i was fortunate enough to have three of the sessions almost immediately after they occurred.
so i was singing all the lyrics and knew all the tunes LOOOONG before the disc ever hit the post-recording process the excitement built as each issue of utopia times arrived with updates on said process and when the album was ready i purchased several copies in an effort to turn friends onto my amazing experience. i sunk myself deeply into this first non-vinyl todd album for weeks and often stacked my audience cassettes against the CD in attempts to figure out which sessions the songs came from. it was almost the only thing i listened to for a couple months!
1. Change Myself - brilliant pop with motivating and philosophical lyrics that reminds me much of hermit, the first todd i was inTRoduced to. i knew from the start that this would be the single despite the fact that most of the sessions began with love science. the video that followed soon after was the world's first glimpse of what todd could do with the video toaster and was incredibly psychedelic and a great companion piece to this disc. fantastic harmonies and backing vocals!
"I want to change the world
I want to make it well
How can I change the world
When I can't change myself
Try again tomorrow"
the first bookend of the overall message
2. Love Science - "huuuh! " todd's extension of the soul/r&b approach made famous on the incredible nearly human. bobby really gets to shine on this with a killer and adrenalin-filled sax solo. great dance number that opened most of the sessions and all of the live shows on the amazing subsequent tour. great lyrical concepts galore!
"If love's what we want, if love's what we need
Why can't we make love from suspicion and greed?
If love's what we want, if love's what we need
Why can't we make love?"
3. Who's Sorry Now - once again, todd's incredible voice combines with thick harmonies to carry the listener to new heights. the lyrics really fit in well with the overall concept of this great release. a bit more orchestrated than i had expected prior to partaking in the sessions.
"We are all in this together
We are all in this together
We got to pull together
And we can't worry who's sorry now
Who's sorry now,
Now that everything is clear
Who's sorry now,
Sorrow unspoken here
Please take a bow"
4. The Smell Of Money - up against it at last! i had read so much about this venture prior to attending but had not heard any of it 'til then. very theatrical presentation that made us all smile every time it was performed...captured very well on this version indeed, especially the dynamics of the band and tr's vocals. i still looooove this one!
"I'm filthy, stinking rich
So I can say to you "Piss off"
I bathe, I bathe"
5. If I Have To Be Alone - more from up against it and a bit of a tear-jerker from a true individualist/hermit. i relate well to this one and it hits home every time. also very orchestral and really highlights the diversity and tightness of this amazing ensemble.
"If I have to be alone
Then I should make my mind serene
After all you're born alone, you die alone
You might as well spend every moment in between alone"
6. Love In Disguise - more of the beautiful orchestralness displayed by the band and insighful lyrics.
"The flowers must pollinate
The beasts are forced to mate
Woman and man decide
Yet we're not satisfied
God's love is in disguise
And all we want are sweet lies
7. Kindness - todd's grandmother inspired this gorgeous piece full of life and soul-searching love.
"When my voice grows strident
When I feel important
I'm reminded of that kindness
And where I'd be without it
I'm learning my lessons
It may take me a lifetime
Give me strength to justify my being
And show someone the kindness shown to me"
8. Public Servant - almost as out of place as jesse would have been, this rocker closed many of the sessions and features some blistering guitar leads underneath wailing screams from the toddster...and what a message!...almost punk.
"Cut 'em loose! "
9. Gaya's Eyes - one of the most beautiful messages from todd's 90s stuff that hits my heart every time i hear it. as neil says on his great new one, "we got to save mother earth"
"No facts of life, no birds and bees
Can't see the forest, can't see the trees
Oh pitiful capricious lies
That hide the tears in Gaya's eyes"
10. 2nd Wind - killer! the ultimate message of this somewhat conceptual album serves as a great closer by reinforcing that it is never too late to stand up for what one believes in.
"Now that I know what to fight for
Now that I need more adventure
Now that I have thoughtful patience
Now that I can see the future"
"I can't life slip away
To a world with no meaning"
this bookends this great work as one cohesive piece.
with the fairly recent advent of CD-r "bootlegs", these great sessions are being circulated from the soundboard source and really give deep insight into this monumental and essential piece of todd.
if i haven't made it clear yet, I LOVE THIS ALBUM and consider it to be among his best work...completely essential to any one interested in todd's diversity and message.
the whole day of the dead artwork really ties it all together too.