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Thread: Punch Brothers "Hell on Church Street"

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    Registered User BadExampleMan's Avatar
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    Default Punch Brothers "Hell on Church Street"

    The full album's not out yet but they've released some tracks. Can anyone explain to me what's going on with their version of Church Street Blues? Chris Thile sings the melody but nothing they're playing sounds at all connected to the tune.

    (This is not a "my kid could play something better than that" gripe. A lot of Punch Brothers sounds this way to me but I fully recognize that's due to my uneducated ear and not a lack of musicality on their part. I mean, c'mon.) I'm genuinely asking for enlightenment - how their version of the song is derived from what Tony Rice did.

    Thanks.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Punch Brothers "Hell on Church Street"

    Quote Originally Posted by BadExampleMan View Post
    how their version of the song is derived from what Tony Rice did.
    I think you mean Norman Blake
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    Registered User BadExampleMan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Punch Brothers "Hell on Church Street"

    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Gray View Post
    I think you mean Norman Blake
    No, I meant Tony Rice. But ok, what Norman Blake wrote that Tony Rice performed.

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    Default Re: Punch Brothers "Hell on Church Street"

    They are playing it in 5/4 time. There's a live video where Thile counts it off in 5. Live video and discussion here. https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/t...h+street+blues
    Last edited by Don Grieser; Dec-03-2021 at 10:55am.
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    man about town Markus's Avatar
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    Default Re: Punch Brothers "Hell on Church Street"

    Quote Originally Posted by BadExampleMan View Post
    I'm genuinely asking for enlightenment - how their version of the song is derived from what Tony Rice did.
    As a friend of mine says - I'll go to see Punch Brothers every time they come through town but somehow I can't make it through an entire album of theirs before wanting to change it. I think I fall in that camp too, when not in front of me I'm less fond of PB.

    Like alll subjective and personal opinions about art, we all are entitled our differing opinions.

    But yet I cannot see returning to this song again and again, and that's not just because it's a radical rewrite. A local musician just put out a complete reharmonized version of Don't Think Twice by Bob Dylan that also radically changes the song ... but IMO really adds something and I've relistened to his version quite a few times whereas I heard the PB Church Street take twice ... the second time just to give it one more chance.

    Louka's version of Don't Think Twice is here, radically changed from original but yet it feels similar and IMO the music expresses the feeling of the words well. It's what I hoped for from Punch Brothers here but didn't find. https://youtu.be/jEOU2NThZs4

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    Default Re: Punch Brothers "Hell on Church Street"

    I will say now that I've heard it a few times ( after not hearing it) I like it more, though I still prefer the original Norman version above all, they also released a cover of Orphan Annie, which stayed mostly traditional with Punch of course, I thought it was first rate.
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    Default Re: Punch Brothers "Hell on Church Street"

    Full album came out today. I'm on my first spin.....
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    Default Re: Punch Brothers "Hell on Church Street"

    I’m inspired by their talent & hard work on their craft and respect the need to create the sounds they want to hear…but…other than Cattle in the Cane, Jerusalem Ridge & Pride of Man not much drawing me back for multiple listens.
    There are three kinds of people: those of us that are good at math and those that are not.

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    Default Re: Punch Brothers "Hell on Church Street"

    I am absolutely loving this album. I love the original album as well. If you try and compare this to the original you will likely be quite disappointed. If you listen to this as what it is, a reimagining, and take it as its own thing, it is so cool. Definitely not a straightforward listen. The House Carpenter/Jerusalem medley is so intense. It really feels like what would happen if Tony Rice and Radiohead had baby. Probably not for everyone. Definitely for me.

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    Default Re: Punch Brothers "Hell on Church Street"

    Quote Originally Posted by jaybp30 View Post
    It really feels like what would happen if Tony Rice and Radiohead had baby.
    Right there. I think you put your finger on it. I like Radiohead but having these songs filtered through them removes something for me rather than adding.
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    Registered User BadExampleMan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Punch Brothers "Hell on Church Street"

    I've listened to it a bunch of times and will listen to it a bunch more, but can someone explain to me how Punch Brothers' version of Gold Rush relates in any way to the fiddle tune? I can't hear even a nod to the melody in there.

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    Default Re: Punch Brothers "Hell on Church Street"

    Quote Originally Posted by BadExampleMan View Post
    I've listened to it a bunch of times and will listen to it a bunch more, but can someone explain to me how Punch Brothers' version of Gold Rush relates in any way to the fiddle tune? I can't hear even a nod to the melody in there.
    Right there with you. I'm a huge Punch Brother fan and love all their albums and have listened to them a ton of times. But this Gold Rush is.....just not enjoyable to me.
    I like all the more traditional takes on the tunes and songs here but I do love their reworked version of "Streets of London." So good. Need to give the album a few more listens.
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    Default Re: Punch Brothers "Hell on Church Street"

    There are a few cuts I enjoy, but overall its a miss for me. I don't feel like I should need a Berkeley education to understand how a song on a tribute album relates to the actual song. Obviously the guys are uber talented and all that stuff, just not my bag baby.

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    Default Re: Punch Brothers "Hell on Church Street"

    Quote Originally Posted by BadExampleMan View Post
    can someone explain to me how Punch Brothers' version of Gold Rush relates in any way to the fiddle tune? I can't hear even a nod to the melody in there.
    As Bill would say, "That ain't no part of nothin." Or we've all been playing it wrong all these years.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AbqQ9ORVmec

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    Default Re: Punch Brothers "Hell on Church Street"

    Quote Originally Posted by BadExampleMan View Post
    I've listened to it a bunch of times and will listen to it a bunch more, but can someone explain to me how Punch Brothers' version of Gold Rush relates in any way to the fiddle tune? I can't hear even a nod to the melody in there.
    They do a great version of “Gold Rush”. The song on HOCS is called “The Gold Rush”, and doesn’t seem to have any direct relationship to the old BG standard other than a (very) similar name.

    For me, the key to enjoying these guys is to just listen to them without any preconceived notion of what a song is “supposed” to sound like, and marvel at where they choose to take it.

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    Default Re: Punch Brothers "Hell on Church Street"

    I think that we all can agree on one thing: The Punch Bros. - like them or not - are world class musicians that can dance circles around your hitparade star musician that may be on the media every day. Despite the fact that Chris Thile does nothing for me, I take him over an Ed Sheeran every day (and I donīt have anything against Es Sheeran; he does nothing for me either).

    I think that we can also agree on this: The Punch Bros. have a deep respect for Tony Rice (and TRīs respect for other artists) which is obviously reflected by The Punch Bros. "rerecording" TRīs Church Street Blues album. They call it "Hell On Church Street" because they aproached the topic with new rhytmical, tonal, compository and ensemble ideas.

    The third thing that we might agree upon: Listening to "Hell On Church Street" may (hopefully) lead a "novice" to listening to TRīs "Church Street Blues" album and from then on down the slippery slope towards whatīs part of something.

    Where we can gladly disagree is wether you like or dislike the PBīs record. When I listen to "Hell On Church Street" (aka "Church Street Blues") I accept and approve their unique and musically complex adress of the song. It is technically quite elaborate. I just donīt like to listen to such music. Itīs like being in the city and having to put up with the city noise as opposed to being hiking in the mountains and having mother natureīs sounds all to yourself. I prefer the later.

    I was quite taken with "Cattle In The Cane". This sounds like elaborate chamber music to my ears. "Any Old Time" is also quite listenable as it aproaches the song a little more "gritty" than TRīs version (or Maria Muldaurīs version; but listen to Jimmie Rogers singing his song).



    "The Pride Of Man" did nothing for me. This is one of the few songs that TR so absolutely owns that the Punch Brotherīs version sounds rather bland and uninspired. The same goes for "Orphan Annie". The singing is stellar. But the overall impression is rather subdued. The PBīs version does not relate to the content of the song to my mind. I wonīt say anything about "The Gold Rush". This is what appears to be an experimental approach (similar to David Grismanīs "Mandolin Abstractions")

    But whatever, if you like it, itīs allright with me. Iīll get back to learning "Johnny Donīt Get Drunk".
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    Default Re: Punch Brothers "Hell on Church Street"

    I am sorry. I couldnīt resist. The music is great. The playing is great. The artistic approach is great. Yet I wonder, what were they smoking, or what pills were they on. You will like it, I am sure. I couldnīt listen through, itīs just not my thing:

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    Default Re: Punch Brothers "Hell on Church Street"

    I can promise you the crowd at ROMP was certainly smoking.
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    Default Re: Punch Brothers "Hell on Church Street"

    Quote Originally Posted by fishermike View Post
    They do a great version of “Gold Rush”. The song on HOCS is called “The Gold Rush”, and doesn’t seem to have any direct relationship to the old BG standard other than a (very) similar name.

    For me, the key to enjoying these guys is to just listen to them without any preconceived notion of what a song is “supposed” to sound like, and marvel at where they choose to take it.
    Both Bill Monroe’s original and Tony Rice’s version list the song as “The Gold Rush”.
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    Default Re: Punch Brothers "Hell on Church Street"

    I'll admit while it has its own beauty, in the PB version of Gold Rush ( a tune I just learnt the other day) I am not finding the melody over here in the slow section.
    I did really like thier version of "Pride of Man" from this recording.
    "Mean Old Timer, He's got grey hair, Mean Old Timer he just don't care
    Got no compassion, thinks its a sin
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    Default Re: Punch Brothers "Hell on Church Street"

    I liked the medley of House Carpenter into Jerusalem Ridge. I also liked their take on Streets of London, though it did not resolve my question about the lyric: If you google up the lyrics for that song, the first line of the chorus is written "So how can you tell me that you're lonely..." Tony Rice and now Chris Thile are definitely not singing "lonely" but what are they singing? Mourning? Moaning? Something else?

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    Default Re: Punch Brothers "Hell on Church Street"

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eWhT4XVqZhA

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    Default Re: Punch Brothers "Hell on Church Street"

    I think there is a strong consensus about the musical brilliance in this album. The disagreement seems to be about enjoyment of the album.

    From the bits that I’ve heard so far from the album, I’m incredibly impressed, as always, by the intricacies of the PB arrangements and the magnificence of their musicianship. However, I can’t imagine ever listening to the entire album, except as an intellectual exercise —- which is not what I buy music for.
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    Default Re: Punch Brothers "Hell on Church Street"

    For those interested in more opinions on the subject or the Church Street Blues arrangement, this recent thread may be of interest.

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    Default Re: Punch Brothers "Hell on Church Street"

    having listened to "House Carpenter/Jerusalem Ridge" it reminded me very much of "Another New World", which to me is very much Thile and Punch Brothers style in a thimble, somewhat grandiose, purposely "Avant Guard" ( be that somewhat assigned), but always played with determination, precision and a genuine affection for the listener. I heard someone else's version ( can't recall Doc maybe but I think it was a woman singer) before I heard Tony's, one as beautiful as the next, and Chris did a wonderful job with the very traditional Nickel Creek version. So I am happy the music is being presented by PB to younger audiences who may be hearing these great great tunes for the first time, and loving them as the first version they encountered as much as we did ours. That being said I was luke warm on Edmund Fitzgerald, but Jerusalem Ridge was nothing to sneeze at.
    "Mean Old Timer, He's got grey hair, Mean Old Timer he just don't care
    Got no compassion, thinks its a sin
    All he does is sit around an play the Mandolin"

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