ALBUM: Live at First Ave. by Mason Jennings + NEW RECORD coming this month!

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Well this is exciting: Mason Jennings released a live album two weeks ago AND I HAD NO IDEA. On Sunday I happened to notice a friend’s facebook status about how much he was enjoying “Mason’s new album” and I was like “huh?” So I looked, and there it was – Mason Jennings, Live at First Ave. So naturally I bought it and gave it a giddily thorough listening.

It leans heavily on his newest material (all but one track from Blood of Man shows up here), and much older material (like songs from ‘98 to ‘04). In fact, a beefed-up “Be Here Now” is the only song to show up at all from Mason’s two records between 2004’s Use Your Voice and last year’s Blood of Man. This isn’t too surprising, since he’s playing with the same band he toured with after Use Your Voice: Chris Morrissey and Brian Mcleod (this is the unbeatable incarnation of Mason’s band that was documented on the Use Your Van DVD – a personal favorite). Of the new stuff, it’s genuinely great to hear full-band versions of these more rockin’ tunes, especially songs like “City of Ghosts” and “Lonely Road”. “The Field” is perfect (that song is flat-out made to be played live), and it’s a revelation to hear “Sing Out” without that awful Incubus-like distortion that mars the studio version. I could have traded in some of the newer songs for some older favorites (“Jackson Square” or “The Mountain” perhaps?) – but that’s a small qualm, especially since there are some other great surprises on here. First of all, we finally get a recorded version of “Lonely Computer Screen”, a great song that originally showed up on the aforementioned Use Your Van DVD, and has since disappeared (oddly Mason introduces it here as “never been played live”… maybe he meant since 2004?). Then two really old songs show up, “Born” and “Grow Old With Me” – two favorites of mine from Mason’s old Cave bootlegs that are floating around the internet. To get a taste of how Mason’s live sound has changed over the last 12 years or so, here’s one of those Cave recordings of “Grow Old With Me” along with the version from Live at First Ave.:

mp3: Mason Jennings – Grow Old With Me (live at The Cave circa 1999)
Live bootleg

mp3: Mason Jennings – Grow Old With Me (live at First Ave. 2010)
from the album Live at First Ave. (buy it here)

The disc ends with a bang with “Blood of Man”, “Rebecca Deville” and “Godless” (so great). Sadly, there’s not a ton of improvisation throughout the show – aside from a little slide guitar over some songs and an amazing breakdown on “Blood of Man”, most of these songs sound a lot like their studio versions. But I might just be picking that out because I’ve been listening to a lot of live Zeppelin lately, so take that for what it’s worth. Overall the album is a ton of fun, and a great addition to any Mason fan’s collection.

NOW THE REALLY EXCITING NEWS: Mason’s releasing another new record later this month! It’s going to consist of older material re-recorded by Mason with just his voice and guitar, a la 2002’s Simple Life (one of my all-time favorite Mason records). It’s going to be called The Flood, and it’s going to be awesome. Just wait. You can read some more background on Mason’s website, then check out these old recordings from The Cave around ’99 or so. It’s a good bet the first song will show up on the album (duh), but the next two are just hopeful on my part…

UPDATE: According to Bird Wings Beat, The Flood will now most likely drop in November. Cross your fingers.

mp3: Mason Jennings – The Flood (live at The Cave circa 1999)
Live bootleg

mp3: Mason Jennings – Bhikku (live at The Cave circa 1999)
Live bootleg

mp3: Mason Jennings – Flight Path (live at The Cave circa 1999)
Live bootleg

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  1. Carol Ann’s avatar

    That was my first time to hear Flight Path. I liked a lot of the lyrics, and some were from Blood of Man’s Pittsburgh track. About the airplanes. Thanks for posting ’bout Mason. I love him!

  2. Jordan’s avatar

    http://listen.grooveshark.com/#/search/songs/?query=mason%20jennings%20white

    That is another little known good song that I hope will be on The Flood.

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