Sunday, October 30, 2005

a better version of "extraordinary machine"

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unless you're a complete and utter imbecile (in which case, you shouldn't be reading this blog), the fact that there are two versions of fiona apple's newest (and in my opinion, best) album, extraordinary machine, should really come as no big surprise to you.

there's the jon brion version (with all of the baroque instruments, chock full of weirdness, like any good alt-pop album should have), the one that spawned a movement of music geeks with nothing better to do with their lives than send apples to sony's offices. [disclaimer: i'm a music geek with nothing better to do with my life than sit and blog about it. don't get mad, we're all on the same team.]

there's the mike elizondo version (with all the features of a regular, run in the mill major label shit. oh, and the beat that sounds like the ones he does with [or for?] dr. dre), the one that was actually released by the major labels. it's really no big surprise, considering the crossover-production thing people have been doing (hello, jon brion was the only reason why late registration was better than college dropout). it only seems right that dr. dre's ghost-producer work with fiona.

so, here's the proclaimation: if you took the better versions of the songs from both albums, you would have fiona's greatest work to date. i read the lyrics booklet. the hype is real. so, instead of a track-by-track review of how i always review albums, this is a track-by-track synopsis of the better-produced songs. the title track and "waltz" were omitted, because jon brion produced them both, and "parting gift" was omitted, because it's not on the brion version.

two. "get him back", jon brion version:

to be honest with you, i don't particularly care for this song very much, but i have to say the extra additives that brion added makes the song a better listen for someone who usually skips it.

three: "o' sailor", jon brion version:

the song on the released album sounds like it was done at just a little bit faster of a tempo. the production on jon brion's version sounds murkier, and being a lo-fi fan, that attracted me to this version a little more. and, of course, jon brion had to add a string section, which gives the song a little more of a dramatic feel.

four: "better version of me", mike elizondo version:

i don't think i was really a big fan of the quasi-tribal style drumming of the original version. there's something about the released version that flows better to me.

five: "tymps (the sick in the head song)" aka "used to love him", mike elizondo version:

i listen to the chimes in the jon brion version, and i didn't really like it. however, the original did have a really carnival-esque feel (at least to me). when i listened to the album version, the hip-hop beat at the beginning (again, sounding like something that would go on a 50 cent or eminem album), it made my head turn, and i really thought it was an original idea.

seven: "window", mike elizondo version:

i like the organ more than the chimes. that is all.

eight: "oh well", jon brion version:

to be honest, both versions sound nearly-identical, but by the shakiness in fiona's voice on brion's version, you can tell she really meant it the first time.

nine: "please please please", jon brion version:

elizondo's version sounds like it's trying to be a top-40 radio hit. it comes down to fiona's voice again on this one. a lot of the songs on this album sound more believeable when she sang it the first time.

ten. "red red red", mike elizondo version:

brion's version sounds too much like something fiona's recorded before. whereas elizondo added more subdued instrumentation, giving it the "slightly unhinged serial killer" vibe, especially when the "kill, kill, kill, kill" refrain comes in.

eleven. "not about love", both versions mashed together:

i love the strings in the brion version, but i love the drums in elizondo's version. the guitars don't work on the released version, and it's not fierce enough on the unreleased version. if both of these guys would have produced this song together, they could have knocked this one out of the park.

what the record label did to me made me see myself something awful. there you have it, folks. get your cd burners ready.


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