Marc Ribot Isn't Trying To Comfort Anyone

Marc Ribot Isn't Trying To Comfort Anyone

8:01pm Apr 30, 2013
Ceramic Dog is Marc Ribot, Ches Smith and Shahzad Ismaily.
Ceramic Dog is Marc Ribot, Ches Smith and Shahzad Ismaily.
Barbara Rigon / Courtesy of the artist

After six years as a sideman for many soul veterans, Marc Ribot made his name in 1985 with Rain Dogs, the album that marked Tom Waits' permanent transition from eccentric singer-songwriter to truly weird singer-songwriter. Ribot has held down straight gigs since then, but his work has tended toward the avant-garde. That's much less true on the song-oriented second album by the trio he calls Ceramic Dog.

Where Ceramic Dog's first album was what you might expect from a Marc Ribot power trio, long on experiment and short on tune, Your Turn is a straight rock album sonically and structurally, except that it's half instrumentals. And the six lyrics are doozies. My favorite is "Masters of the Internet." If you're one of those people who download music without paying for it, you pop up in the very first words you'll hear.

Marc Ribot is a political guy — he's long been a union activist on behalf of independent musicians. One of the songs here is a setting for James Oppenheim's century-old sexual-equality poem "Bread and Roses." But then there's the torch song, "The Kid Is Back," in which Ribot reunites with an old flame.

Having pitched in a bunch of vocals, Ribot lets the instrumentals run free. There's a metal piece, a noisefest and electronica-style melody. His cover of Dave Brubeck's "Take Five" is a little more comforting — but it isn't that comforting. On Your Turn, Marc Ribot isn't trying to comfort anyone.

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Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

You're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News.

Marc Ribot has spent nearly three decades as a guitarist on the margins, someone more interested in experimentation than fame. Well today, he and his trio, Ceramic Dog, have a new album out called "Your Turn." And critic Robert Christgau thinks it's one of his most daring.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "YOUR TURN")

ROBERT CHRISTGAU, BYLINE: After six years as a sideman for many soul veterans, Marc Ribot made his name in 1985 on "Rain Dogs," the album that marked Tom Waits' permanent transition from eccentric singer-songwriter into truly weird singer-songwriter. Ribot has held down straight gigs since then - with Alison Krauss and Robert Plant, for instance - but his own work has tended very much avant. That's much less true on the song-oriented second album by the trio he calls Ceramic Dog.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "YOUR TURN")

CHRISTGAU: Where Ceramic Dog's first album was what you'd expect from a Marc Ribot power trio, long on experiment and short on tune, "Your Turn" is a straight rock album sonically and structurally, except that it's half instrumentals. And the six lyrics are doozies. My fave is "Masters of the Internet." If you're one of those freewheelers who downloads music without paying for it, you pop up in the very first words you'll hear.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MASTERS OF THE INTERNET")

CHRISTGAU: Marc Ribot is a political guy - he's long been a union activist on behalf of independent musicians. One of the songs here is a setting for James Oppenheim's century-old sexual equality poem "Bread and Roses." But then there's the not-so-PC torch song in which Ribot reunites with an old flame.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THE KID IS BACK")

CHRISTGAU: Having tossed in a bunch of vocals, Ribot lets the instrumentals run free. There's a metal piece, a noisefest and synth-style melody. His cover of Dave Brubeck's "Take Five" is a little more comforting, but it isn't that comforting. On "Your Turn," Marc Ribot isn't trying to comfort anyone.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "TAKE FIVE")

BLOCK: We've been listening to music from the album from Marc Ribot and his trio Ceramic Dog. It's called "Your Turn." Our critic is Robert Christgau.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "TAKE FIVE")

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

You're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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