The Bad Plus: These Are The Vistas

As near as I can tell, this was the album where The Bad Plus started getting noticed.  Their follow-up to their self-titled debut, it’s a much more polished, impactful release then its predecessor.  Where The Bad Plus could, at times, get lost in some heavy jazz referencing, this one is much more easy and fun to swallow.

This was good enough that it almost got 4.5 clowns, but the first side carries some significant flaws:

  • “Keep Your Bugs Off Your Glass And The Bears Off Your Ass” goes on too long at the end.  It should end about three or four times before it actually does and the solo bass droning on with the head really leaves a bad taste in my mouth after what’s an otherwise very good piece.
  • “Smells Like Teen Spirit” is even worse here than the version on The Bad Plus.  It’s easily the lowest point of the album and I really want to believe that when the band themselves revisits this album they’re unhappy with the choice to redo it here.
  • The beginning of “1972 Bronze Medalist” is a bit too overbearing and dominates what turns into a great song.

Aside from those points, all bunched up together on the first side, this album is amazing.  “Big Eater” is the perfect introduction to the band but also grows with you as you spend time with it.  “Everywhere You Turn” and “Silence Is The Question” are both song-long builds whose rating belies their reward; they just won’t fit on mixes with their slow, quiet starts.  Blondie’s “Heart Of Glass” gets the good cover treatment they can do so well for anything except “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”  The top of the top highlights are either the beautiful head in “Flim” or the climax of “Silence Is The Question,” which, in contrast to what I wrote for their debut, is great walking around music, where happiness rains down from the piano first as a mist that gently soaks into your heart, opening it up, and eventually turns into a downpour of happy drops pelting your heart relentlessly, forcing giddy, eyes-closed smiles facing the sky.

Rating:
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“Big Eater,” “Flim”

– “Keep Your Bugs Off Your Glass And The Bears Off Your Ass,” “Everywhere You Turn,” “1972 Bronze Medalist,” “Guilty,” “Boo-Wah,” “Heart Of Glass,” “Silence Is The Question”

– “Smells Like Teen Spirit”

Song Notes:

  1. Big Eater – Very good.  There are better songs on here (thought not many), but this gets full where those don’t because its compressed, consistent, mid-range sound make it the most likely to fit on one of my mixes.
  2. Keep Your Bugs Off Your Glass And The Bears Off Your Ass – Also good.  Very slow and quiet in parts.  Very bass heavy.  A bit on the annoying side.  Goes on way too long. Should end way before it does.
  3. Smells Like Teen Spirit – I think I liked the previous version better, and I wasn’t crazy hot on that.
  4. Everywhere You Turn – Very good, but probably too slow, sparse, and quiet at the start for mixing.
  5. 1972 Bronze Medalist – A different version than the one on The Bad Plus.  I think I like that version better…this one’s a bit too harsh.
  6. Guilty – Some of bass solo is bogged-down noodly stuff, but as it transitions to the piano solo this track is awesome.
  7. Boo-Wah – I really love this song, but the opening riff, not so much.
  8. Flim – A sweet little melody in the piano.
  9. Heart Of Glass –
  10. Silence Is The Question – Recalls In A Silent Way in both title and sound.  Which I’m guessing isn’t a coincidence.  Heart it so much, but probs can’t mix.
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