Lovely Recordings: Hosted by David Deckert

Bowie and Bischoff, OK now you have my attention. About all I know of Jherek Bischoff is his 2012 LP I bought, Composed. But that’s enough to know that his ear for string arranging within the pop idiom is certainly interesting. And rightly or wrongly, the speed with which Strung Out in Heaven: A Bowie String Quartet Tribute has been released tells me this was less about some grandiose tribute stocked with a roomful of Big Name Stars than it was from the efforts of a few appreciative fans who just happen to be capable, professional musicians with the drive to make it happen, now. Bischoff has a little more to say about that here.

This download came to my attention via a non-music-related Internet forum, which when you think about it, represents a best kind of discovery, yes? Like that friend who recommends something to you because they like it, not because some reviewer said they should like it. No pretense, no built-in expectations. I don’t attach myself to new releases as quickly or easily as more youthful-thinking adults do, which not surprisingly might explain why these old songs resonated with me.

That said, I don’t want tributes to be duplicate attempts at presentation nor do I appreciate change for change’s sake. In my opinion they work best when they freely reflect and express what the original work means to the new performer. Successful ones let you better experience both in unexpected ways that can be greater than the whole. The versions here bring an often tender presentation to the many delicate melodies of the songs you already know. Of the two key artists here, it’s Palmer who entered into the project as the Bowiephile but Bischoff who exited it as one. If that’s not a genuine tribute to the music, I don’t know what else is.

Until Strung Out in Heaven, I was blissfully unaware of anything “Amanda Palmer/Dresden Dolls” nor of any Internet outbursts. Forget all that. I like Palmer’s careful but impassioned telling here, I can better understand the lyrics now (hey, that’s worth something) and Bischoff’s strings let it beautifully soar where it needs to, up to Heaven.

Available from Amanda Palmer's Bandcamp page (24-bit/88.2kHz).

I enjoy indulging at the periphery of too many hobbies but the one that’s remained with me since sleeping with 45s as a toddler has been music reproduction in the home. I’m the guy that researches the shit out of which aftermarket car or truck suspension to choose, turns the wrenches and then moves on falling down rabbit holes of modifying inexpensive phono carts before picking the kids up from school. I take pleasure from tinkering with mechanics because of the tangibly better results I can easily and directly observe, which is not coincidentally also why I’m drawn to regularly grilling and smoking with charcoal. Despite possessing an empty hole where “grammar” should reside, I enjoy writing and sharing what I’ve learned and stand on the shoulders of anyone who has taken the time to do similarly.

Pushing 50, I’ve flipped the dérailleur* and am currently studying Project Management in the hopes one you will hire me when I move to TN later this year. Because that would be really helpful if you did that, OK? Thanks!

* I also like the late Sheldon Brown’s spelling which better suits the American pronunciation of “de-RAIL-er”, as over the years I have been derailed plenty.

Share your Lovely Recordings with us!


Doak's picture

Thank You, David (& Michael) for bringing this to my attention.

dbtom2's picture

was appreciated. I still visit his web pages for the enormous wealth of cycling info and common sense advice. It made me pause to consider how important 'webitors' have become in the lives of enthusiasts. How did we do this stuff before there was the web?

And this album! Thank you for taking time to suggest it. Lovely recording indeed!!

deckeda's picture

Eventually all links lead to the late Mr. Brown's site. The mystery is why and how you get there. Is it merely good SEO, or something more? Surely, longevity contributes to any site's Google ranking. But maybe it's just the good content. I originally found myself there years ago, when looking for info about my old Bridgestone bikes.

I'm with you regarding curated content. I don't see anything wrong with someone posting an opinion online. We all love reading "what's good," from a trusted friend. Where it gets weird is, just who is the friend and why does the extra layer of a magazine or web site not impede that, especially when we've never met the author?

Majik's picture

That's not something you hear often but was my reaction after the first listen.
Beautifully done and a worthy tribute...thank you both for recommending this recording.