The Bad Plus: Suspicious Activity?

Only one cover tune (“(Theme From) Chariots Of Fire”) on this album for The Bad Plus, which is kind of odd because in a lot of places it sounds like exactly the album Radiohead would make if they were a jazz trio in 1998.  In fact, when I first heard the album opener, “Prehensile Dream,” I was sure it was a cover off of OK Computer, or maybe “Everything In Its Right Place” or something along those lines.  But no, it’s an original.  As is “Let Our Garden Grow,” despite the fact that the head is exactly the same as “Here Comes Santa Claus.”

This album wants to be great, but has to settle for being quite good.  “Rhinoceros Is My Profession” (naturally) and the three keepers are the album’s highlights, along with “Lost Of Love,” which is a great riff but has no business being run over and over for over eight-and-a-half minutes, with its tempo changes providing not nearly enough development to justify that length.  “The Empire Strikes Backward” and “(Theme From) Chariots Of Fire” are high likes, with the latter deriving its value mostly from the great source material.

The Bad Plus’ fourth album, Suspicious Activity? came out the year following their masterpiece Give, making this their third album in three years and fourth in five.  They obviously had no place to go but down after Give, but I’m chalking up this album’s significant step backwards to exhaustion after a grueling release schedule like that.  It’s good, with some great parts scattered throughout its 62 minutes, but it’s not in the same league as their two prior albums.

Rating:
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Mix:
“Rhinoceros Is My Profession”
Keep:
“Prehensile Dream,” “Anthem For The Earnest,” “Knows The Difference”
Like: “The Empire Strikes Backward,” “Lost Of Love,” “O.G. (Original Gentleman),” “(Theme From) Chariots Of Fire,” “Forces”
Filed Between: Give and The Bad Plus’ For All I Care
Song Notes: After the jump…

  1. Prehensile Dream – Gets big.  Too long, though.  This and “Lost Of Love”…they’re really good but way too long for the lack of thematic development.
  2. Anthem For The Earnest – Great.  Driving.
  3. Let Our Garden Grow – Starts off with inscrutable bass solo then drifts into “Here Comes Santa Claus.”  I like this in parts, but that here comes santa claus steers me balls too bad.
  4. The Empire Strikes Backward – Real ragged rhythm at start.
  5. Knows The Difference – Very avant garde.  Gets awesome at about the five-minute mark for the breakdown.
  6. Lost Of Love – Good but too long.
  7. Rhinoceros Is My Profession – That snare gives me a rush of blood to the gennies every time.
  8. O. G. (Original Gentleman) – Tribute to Elvin Jones
  9. (Theme From) Chariots Of Fire – The only cover on this album.  Goes off the rails at some point.
  10. Forces – Quiet.
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One thought on “The Bad Plus: Suspicious Activity?

  1. Pingback: The Bad Plus: Prog | fatclown

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