Rufus Wainwright - Classic or Dud?

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(a) He's been to an ILX FAP! Okay, not really. But last February, when Ned and I were in New York, we were walking from one bar to another in the early evening and I very nearly bumped into Rufus. No one else really noticed: a few steps later I said "hey, everyone, that was Rufus Wainwright just then!" and then Ned threatened to go back and beat him up, which slightly lowered my opinion of Ned (sorry Ned but he's just wonderful!).

My opinion remains unchanged. ;-)

Ned Raggett (Ned), Friday, 9 May 2003 14:31 (10 years ago) Permalink

I eat him up like chocolate pudding

James Blount (James Blount), Saturday, 10 May 2003 07:28 (10 years ago) Permalink

Yeah, he's really great. Really really. "Poses" is one of those albums that puts me somewhere specific -- February 2002, and I just moved in with my girlfriend. It's cold outside, so we don't get out of bed much.

And I love the line about being "drunk and wearing flip-flops on 5th avenue." Is that rock-bottom or just a charming little low?

Kenan Hebert (kenan), Saturday, 10 May 2003 07:36 (10 years ago) Permalink

I liked the first album a lot, but the second did nothing for me -- it was just a big NPR ego-stroke.

Jody Beth Rosen (Jody Beth Rosen), Saturday, 10 May 2003 14:03 (10 years ago) Permalink

I agree that the first album is just classic, but...you don't even like "Rebel Prince"??

Nordicskillz (Nordicskillz), Saturday, 10 May 2003 14:06 (10 years ago) Permalink

1st album is classic, but the only track on the last one i enjoyed was cigarettes and chocolate.

and about the ny citing - does he live there now¿ i thought he was a montreal boy still.

dyson (dyson), Saturday, 10 May 2003 14:34 (10 years ago) Permalink

he sucks

chaki (chaki), Saturday, 10 May 2003 22:51 (10 years ago) Permalink

I loff him. The hate is too strong in here. Must go outside. He killed live, tho' his inter-song banter was cringey.

SFJ (SFJ), Saturday, 10 May 2003 23:13 (10 years ago) Permalink

Live the band?

Dan Perry (Dan Perry), Sunday, 11 May 2003 00:33 (10 years ago) Permalink

That would be a beautiful dream.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Sunday, 11 May 2003 00:56 (10 years ago) Permalink

I listened to Poses tonight. I have to comment about "Shadows" sounding like a kd lang song; while I can sort of see that in the chorus, kd lang cool as she might be, would never sing the kind of melody the verses have.

Sean (Sean), Sunday, 11 May 2003 03:26 (10 years ago) Permalink

Mark Eitzel minus Nick Cave plus Liza Minelli divided by Jim Carrey = Rufus Wainwright.

Daniel (dancity), Tuesday, 13 May 2003 23:27 (10 years ago) Permalink

PS What a cracking gig tonight. Such charm!

Daniel (dancity), Tuesday, 13 May 2003 23:27 (10 years ago) Permalink

Wasn't it fantastic? I've always thought a lot of the genius of 'Poses' lay in the arrangements, but I was so very, very wrong (although glad he didn't play 'Rebel Prince', because I don't think that would have worked). And, oh, the man takes shameless audience manipulation to new heights.

cis (cis), Tuesday, 13 May 2003 23:46 (10 years ago) Permalink

I'm now tempted to talk about the good ol' days in Mtl. but I won't

slutsky (slutsky), Wednesday, 14 May 2003 00:02 (10 years ago) Permalink

"Dave Douglas does a wonderful version of 'Poses' on his alb 'The Infinite' "

Agreed, absolutely gorgeous.

ArfArf, Wednesday, 14 May 2003 08:14 (10 years ago) Permalink

cis, on the subject of audience manipulation, I liked his asides and his gentle pricking of the seriousness of melancholy music. I thought he just about got the balance right. There were one or two occasions when I thought, Give it a bit of reverence, don't just take the piss every time, please.

Daniel (dancity), Wednesday, 14 May 2003 08:59 (10 years ago) Permalink

He definitely prevented it from being the po-faced, MTV Unplugged kind of concert it really could have been (the adoring audience, the cushions on the floor...).

cis (cis), Wednesday, 14 May 2003 22:39 (10 years ago) Permalink

4 months pass...
So Want One is out, what's the ILM verdict?

scott m (mcd), Thursday, 25 September 2003 14:42 (10 years ago) Permalink

I was disappointed but I'll give it another shot.

cinniblount (James Blount), Thursday, 25 September 2003 14:47 (10 years ago) Permalink

funniest album cover of the year -- haven't listened to it yet.

chris herrington (chris herrington), Thursday, 25 September 2003 15:48 (10 years ago) Permalink

is it on soulseek yet ?

piscesboy, Thursday, 25 September 2003 16:19 (10 years ago) Permalink

It sounds nice on first listen. The girl in Mod Lang practically forced me to buy it.

adaml (adaml), Saturday, 27 September 2003 00:14 (10 years ago) Permalink

3 months pass...
I've finally figured out why I don't like him all the more clearly, based on the two random encounters with his recent album in record stores lately. He sounds like Thom Yorke but all wrong with suck arrangements (and anyone who does like him who doesn't like Yorke's voice, I MOCK THEE). I'd rather listen to Chris Martin, for crying out loud! DEATH DEATH DEATH. There, vented for now.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Wednesday, 7 January 2004 03:18 (10 years ago) Permalink

Live, his voice fills an opera house, but on record, he likes to bury it. So frustrated was producer Alex Gifford with this strange insistence of his, he swore never to work with him again after Poses.

Kenan Hebert (kenan), Wednesday, 7 January 2004 03:55 (10 years ago) Permalink

I cannot get into Want One. Maybe that's because my hatred of Thom Yorke won't allow my unconscious to enjoy it?

@d@ml (nordicskilla), Wednesday, 7 January 2004 04:40 (10 years ago) Permalink

Or maybe it's the way that first track bites fucking "Bolero." Sheesh. What a drama queen.

Kenan Hebert (kenan), Wednesday, 7 January 2004 04:45 (10 years ago) Permalink

1 year passes...
UK people, there is a documentary on Channel 4 about him right now. Sting is singing his praises, and so is the guy from Keane, which wouldn't encourage me to investigate further.

ailsa (ailsa), Sunday, 13 March 2005 00:00 (9 years ago) Permalink

Marc Almond and Siouxsie love him, though. This makes me despair. They could be loving Romanthony instead or something.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Sunday, 13 March 2005 00:07 (9 years ago) Permalink

"Want One" was terrible. The more he expresses himself, the more boring he becomes.

Alfred Soto (Alfred Soto), Sunday, 13 March 2005 00:26 (9 years ago) Permalink

want one and want two would've made one pretty good short album between 'em. among other things, he could really really use a lyricist. but poses is so drop-dead beautiful, and he's so incredibly endearing in concert that i'm willing to forgive these faults and more.

fact checking cuz (fcc), Sunday, 13 March 2005 00:33 (9 years ago) Permalink

Eh... he has some great songs ("Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk," "California," "Oh What a World," his rendition of "Across the Universe," "Gay Messiah" and a few more), so I wouldn't say he's a dud, but he sure isn't classic either. Maybe with a few more albums.

The Brainwasher (Twilight), Sunday, 13 March 2005 01:18 (9 years ago) Permalink

I kept wondering what he'd done to deserve a whole show dedicated to him. Because... he didn't seem very good.

Suedey (John Cei Douglas), Sunday, 13 March 2005 01:27 (9 years ago) Permalink

I used to think he was a dud. Mainly cos he was recommended to me by a friend who usually likes lots of depressed singer/songwriters. But having heard Want Two, I really like what he's doing.

I saw the documentary tonight, and I really liked his whole self deprecating sense of humour.

And why are there so many (well two) attractive gay musicians?

jellybean at home, Sunday, 13 March 2005 01:47 (9 years ago) Permalink

I only really like the song "California."

edd s hurt (ddduncan), Sunday, 13 March 2005 01:55 (9 years ago) Permalink

I saw him live around the time that the first album came out, then got around to picking it up a few months later and it's one of my favorite albums. never got around to checking out any of the other albums, though. not sure about the Want ones but I saw him live again around the time of Poses and those songs sounded good too.

Al (sitcom), Sunday, 13 March 2005 02:00 (9 years ago) Permalink

more than anything, i love the title song from poses, which is the song that singlehandedly turned me into a fan: the resignation in his voice as he sings about wearing flip-flips on fifth avenue ... the way he makes "avenue" fit into the meter when by all rights it shouldn't ... the subtle way the chorus creeps on you before exploding into a nice big pop change ... the impossibly high note in the last repeat of the chorus ... so many other great moments in that one little pop song.

fact checking cuz (fcc), Sunday, 13 March 2005 02:06 (9 years ago) Permalink

I confess. I watched the doc just to see his mum.

And his sister. Rwor.

Masked Gazza, Sunday, 13 March 2005 02:10 (9 years ago) Permalink

Taking Sides: Rufus Wainwright's version of "Across the Universe" versus Fiona Apple's.

Josh in Chicago (Josh in Chicago), Tuesday, 15 March 2005 13:46 (9 years ago) Permalink

I thought he was classic on his first two albums, but I hated Want One, and haven't been bothered to even listen to Want Two. His best song is "Instant Pleasure" which he foolishly put on the Big Daddy soundtrack and not on one of his albums.

Jonathan (Jonathan), Tuesday, 15 March 2005 14:07 (9 years ago) Permalink

'My Phone's On Vibrate For You' is a truly horrific song. Sub-par Thom Yorke-isms all the way.

I'm prepared to give him another chance, as that's the only track I've heard (and instinctively recoiled from) thus far.

Goit MacLachlan, Tuesday, 15 March 2005 16:16 (9 years ago) Permalink

One of the best shows I have ever seen was Rufus at the Fillmore touring Want One. Martha is lovely too and very sweet. I find all of his albums initially hard to get into but once they worm their way in, they become very dear and I find myself absentmindedly humming bits of songs during the day.

Michael White (Hereward), Tuesday, 15 March 2005 16:25 (9 years ago) Permalink

Yes, he does kill live. But Rufus is a case study of someone who got major-label push and money before his songwriting caught up with his ambition. "Poses" is his best album and the s/t debut has marvelous songs, but oy! When he can't find a melody he'll croon around one, or rely on bathetic strings and as a crutch. "Want One" confirmed it.

Alfred Soto (Alfred Soto), Tuesday, 15 March 2005 16:52 (9 years ago) Permalink

'My Phone's On Vibrate For You' is a truly horrific song. Sub-par Thom Yorke-isms all the way.

"Vibrate" is so many leagues above anything Thom Yorke has put his name to! Even apart from that I don't see that they share any similarities at all, either lyrically or sonically.

The Lex (The Lex), Tuesday, 15 March 2005 20:47 (9 years ago) Permalink

Wonder if Rufus himself doesn't like "Want One". Saw him last month and there were almost NONE of the songs off that I would have thought would definitely get an airing - no "I Don't Know What It Is", "Movies Of Myself", "14th Street" or "Go Or Go Ahead" (my four favourite songs off that album) - so what was actually played off it was slightly outshone by the "Want Two" stuff, which I had theretofore not liked that much.

edward o (edwardo), Tuesday, 15 March 2005 20:58 (9 years ago) Permalink

classic if only for the brilliant verse below from "The Gay Messiah":

What will happen instead
Someone will demand my head
And then I will kneel down
And give it to them

And I like his voice LOADS more than Thom Yorke, who I honestly have no time for. While I can understand someone saying they have similar timbre and texture, Rufus thankfully never sounds like a lamb bleating out of tune

rentboy (rentboy), Tuesday, 15 March 2005 21:34 (9 years ago) Permalink

I love Rufus's voice myself, it's like melted chocolate, but I can also totally understand people who are frustrated with it: my classically-trained best friend has only just come round to him after years of antipathy, but phrases like "he doesn't open his MOUTH" and "aargh, NASAL" still roll forth from her every so often.

I kind of dread the next album: I think by now it's clear that Rufus thrives on attention, and this gives him more confidence to really indulge himself, so now his PR people are doing such stellar work fuck only knows what ideas he'll carry through next.

The Lex (The Lex), Tuesday, 15 March 2005 21:40 (9 years ago) Permalink

11 months pass...
Blaaaahhh... YUK !
Start with a block minor chord on the piano... Am.

Melody: start on the 5th and descend predictably/diatonically..
E DD CC BB A.


Switch Chord to (predictable) Dm.

Melody : F EE DD AA B


Lyrics (from beat 1 of A minor chord) :

"All the times I tried to hide from,
everything I was denied..."

Remember to hold your breath, plug your nose
for the nasal whine and sing out of the corner
of your mouth.

Repulsively pathetic, boring, depressing, monotonous,
unoriginal and disgusting is Rufus.

-- Musicfan101 (mz...), March 1st, 2006.


the nasal bleating thing is annoying, someone so gaga over opera should pay attention to vocal technique


timmy tannin (pompous), Wednesday, 1 March 2006 03:14 (8 years ago) Permalink

I just saw him schmoozing at the Whitney Biennial preview opening. He was wearing some rather pretentious robes, bottle green, and happened to be saying "He's a big fan of my dad" to someone as I passed. Nabisco was nearby, fussing over Daniel Johnston.

Momus (Momus), Wednesday, 1 March 2006 03:49 (8 years ago) Permalink

The few songs that I love ("Grey Gardens", "Poses", "Danny Boy") I really love, but it's outweighed by a lot of "okay, I'm impressed by the songcraft qua craft, but it sounds like a homework assignment from Goffin and King."

Myke. (Myke Weiskopf), Wednesday, 1 March 2006 03:59 (8 years ago) Permalink

it's interesting to me that he seems to have picked up a lot of fans mid-career since for me the first album was a front-to-back classic and it's just been a lot of hit and miss since then. this album sounds really good, though, yeah.

some dude, Tuesday, 1 May 2012 15:46 (1 year ago) Permalink

i'd pretty much agree with every word re his post Want One stuff there Kitchen Person. i'd like to forget Release The Stars ever happened and the less said about his embarrasing Glastonbury appearance the summer it came out the better. the last album had So Sad on it which is amazing i think but little else.

piscesx, Tuesday, 1 May 2012 15:54 (1 year ago) Permalink

I bought the first album a few months after its release, and while it meant a great deal – I was just coming out - quite a few songs are loaded with arrangements that Wainwright's voice wasn't up to singing. Poses was a huge improvement, and the MIami date on that tour was one of the best shows I've seen in ten years. Since only 60 people came we were shouting requests and he was shooting the shit with us.

Little since 2003 has moved me.

Exile in lolville (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 1 May 2012 16:24 (1 year ago) Permalink

the debut was audacious and heartfelt and overreaching just as a good debut should be. Poses has some great songs but i think maybe the pop stardom he was still somewhat plausibly aiming for that point take it in a slightly blander direction.

some dude, Tuesday, 1 May 2012 16:32 (1 year ago) Permalink

This radio session is good:
http://www.kcrw.com/music/programs/mb/mb041201rufus_wainwright

caro's johnson (Eazy), Tuesday, 1 May 2012 16:36 (1 year ago) Permalink

i just don't like his voice unfortunately. i'm working his concert next wk, wish i was excited.

surm, Tuesday, 1 May 2012 16:38 (1 year ago) Permalink

xxxp yeah i've seen him maybe half a dozen times and live at his peak (just post-Want One IMO) he was one of the best things i've ever seen. the Liverpool '04 gig was like a carnival, i've never seen a seated crowd go so crazy. i didn't know you *could* go that crazy sitting down, even he was shocked.

piscesx, Tuesday, 1 May 2012 16:45 (1 year ago) Permalink

the debut was audacious and heartfelt and overreaching just as a good debut should be.

oh yeah I agree - it's a classic B+ type debut.

Exile in lolville (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 1 May 2012 16:47 (1 year ago) Permalink

i saw him in the 9:30 Club opening for lol Sean Lennon right after the debut dropped, he was a pretty solid performer right off the bat. was a bit more drunk and full of himself when i saw him again circa Poses.

some dude, Tuesday, 1 May 2012 16:49 (1 year ago) Permalink

he was pretty hammered and god knows what else when I saw him. Oh! He also dedicated a song to "Neil and Chris." When we looked at the balcony there were Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe, in town a few days early rehearsing for their concert the next week.

Exile in lolville (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 1 May 2012 17:05 (1 year ago) Permalink

he's a great live performer - holds my attention in a way he doesn't always on record.

almost every one of his albums has been just good enough, just interesting enough, containing just enough killer songs to keep my overall feelings about him positive, but all of them have suffered from stretches of...blahhhh, really. he always sounds like he wants to only dip his toe into songwriting. i do think want one is as close as he's come to a coherent statement album, though "cigarettes & chocolate milk" is my favourite song he's done.

new one sounds decent as they all do initially

liberté, égalité, beyoncé (lex pretend), Tuesday, 1 May 2012 20:20 (1 year ago) Permalink

My theory is he was pushed or pushed himself into recording an album before his songwriting chops had gelled. The boy had the connections (Waronker, Dreamworks, semi-famous dad).

Exile in lolville (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 1 May 2012 20:21 (1 year ago) Permalink

pshhh musicians should learn on the job imo. the idea of woodshedding in private for some magical moment when you're "ready" is foreign to me.

Neil Young’s social media channels (some dude), Tuesday, 1 May 2012 20:24 (1 year ago) Permalink

that'd explain the first album being not quite there but not the 7 or 8 or however many it's been since!

liberté, égalité, beyoncé (lex pretend), Tuesday, 1 May 2012 20:28 (1 year ago) Permalink

i just don't think he's got a great sense of melody, and/or it's not something he particularly prioritises, and when he lands on one it's kind of almost as a joke

liberté, égalité, beyoncé (lex pretend), Tuesday, 1 May 2012 20:29 (1 year ago) Permalink

pshhh musicians should learn on the job imo. the idea of woodshedding in private for some magical moment when you're "ready" is foreign to me.

Never said this!

Exile in lolville (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 1 May 2012 20:30 (1 year ago) Permalink

"not ready to record" /= "shouldn't have recorded it"

Exile in lolville (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 1 May 2012 20:31 (1 year ago) Permalink

eh when you say premature "pushing" was involved it sounds negative. in any event imo his aesthetic and his sensibility as a lyricist and melodist were pretty well formed by '98 and there's not really that much of a difference between his stuff then and his stuff now, so i have no idea where you're even coming from.

Neil Young’s social media channels (some dude), Tuesday, 1 May 2012 20:35 (1 year ago) Permalink

Aesthetic – formed, craftsmanship – still had a way to go.

Exile in lolville (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 1 May 2012 20:36 (1 year ago) Permalink

song for song Poses is the stronger record, maybe the one least afflicted with what lex called stretches of...blahhhh

Exile in lolville (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 1 May 2012 20:39 (1 year ago) Permalink

Sings with his mouth shut DUD

Morrissey & Clunes: The Severed Alliance (PaulTMA), Tuesday, 1 May 2012 21:48 (1 year ago) Permalink

I like his voice. He has songs in the key of me

I've noticed the stretches of blah. I liked "Little Sister" because it was stark contrast from a lot of blah, not that it's a favorite of mine. Poses is my favorite album by him

we gotta move these refrigerators (CaptainLorax), Tuesday, 1 May 2012 22:17 (1 year ago) Permalink

after three full listens I agree with the enthusiasm for the album. Keepers: ""Montauk," "Out of the Game," "Bitter Tears," "Jericho."

Exile in lolville (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, 2 May 2012 12:36 (1 year ago) Permalink

I love this thing -- one of the year's best. Never thought I'd say it again about a Wainwright record.

Exile in lolville (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Saturday, 5 May 2012 16:54 (1 year ago) Permalink

I love this as well, and playing it continuously.

I can't quite pin down what it reminds me of exactly, but it has a nostalgic feel that takes me back to the 70s.

Bob Six, Sunday, 6 May 2012 09:06 (1 year ago) Permalink

On first listen I was entirely underwhelmed. Much more soft rock than pop. And it's not the sort of soft rock that I find moving ('Art Teacher' was moving).

we gotta move these refrigerators (CaptainLorax), Sunday, 6 May 2012 14:14 (1 year ago) Permalink

I really like this new one and I haven't even been remotely excited for him since the Want One/Two days. I love the 70s AM rock touches, I think they work pretty well. Kinda wish he'd lay off the gospel backing choirs on some of these though.

heated debate over derpy hooves (jon /via/ chi 2.0), Tuesday, 8 May 2012 14:11 (1 year ago) Permalink

4 weeks pass...

huh, had no idea that Nels Cline plays on this album, i wonder what tracks.

shipl.de.al (some dude), Wednesday, 6 June 2012 13:42 (1 year ago) Permalink


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