Laurie Anderson – United States Live (4 CD Box) (1985)

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United States Live was the third album release by avant-garde singer-songwriter Laurie Anderson. Released as a 5-record boxed set (later reissued, slightly truncated, on four CDs), the album was recorded at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York City in February 1983.

United States was Anderson’s magnum opus performance-art piece featuring musical numbers, spoken word pieces, and animated vignettes about life in the United States. Segments ranged from humorous, such as “Yankee See,” which gently chided Anderson’s record label, Warner Bros. Records, for signing her in the first place, to the apocalyptic anthem “O Superman,” which had been an unexpected Top 10 hit for Anderson on the UK music charts in 1981.

Originally, United States was presented over the course of two nights, running some eight hours. The United States Live box set is a truncated rendering of the performance, omitting many segments that were solely of a visual nature.

Among the songs performed on the album was “Language is a Virus (from Outer Space),” a pop-like song based upon a phrase attributed to William S. Burroughs. Anderson later performed a modified arrangement of the song in her 1986 concert film Home of the Brave.

Although Anderson has since created numerous other major performance pieces (i.e. Moby-Dick, Stories from the Nerve Bible, Happiness, The End of the Moon), United States Live remains, to date, the only serious attempt at producing anything approaching a full-length recording of any of these performances, although her previous album Big Science and her segment of the compilation You’re the Guy I Want to Share My Money With consisted of studio-recorded excerpts from United States.

Disc one
1. “Say Hello” – 5:01
2. “Walk the Dog” – 6:45
3. “Violin Solo” – 2:13
4. “Closed Circuits” For voice and amplified mike stand – 6:03
5. “For a Large and Changing Room” – 2:50
6. “Pictures of It” For acoustic Tape Bow – 1:32
7. “The Language of the Future” – 8:02
8. “Cartoon Song” – 1:12
9. “Small Voice” For speaker-in-mouth – 2:03
10. “Three Walking Songs” For Tape Bow Violin – 4:19
11. “The Healing Horn” – 3:01
12. “New Jersey Turnpike” – 11:19  see New Jersey Turnpike
13. “So Happy Birthday” – 6:23
14. “EngliSH” – 2:08
15. “Dance of Electricity” – 3:02  see Nikola Tesla
16. “Three Songs for Paper, Film and Video” – 6:02

Disc two
1. “Sax Solo” for Tape Bow Violin – 0:55
2. “Sax Duet” – 0:38
3. “Born, Never Asked” – 5:16

(Part Two)
1. “From the Air” – 2:46
2. “Beginning French” – 2:16
3. “O Superman” – 11:05
4. “Talkshow” – 6:57
5. “Frames for the Pictures” – 1:08
6. “Democratic Way” – 1:41
7. “Looking for You” – 1:19
8. “Walking and Falling” – 1:21
9. “Private Property” – 3:04
10. “Neon Duet” For violin and neon bow – 3:52
11. “Let X=X” – 6:17
12. “The Mailman’s Nightmare” – 0:46
13. “Difficult Listening Hour” – 3:10
14. “Language is a virus from outer space – William S. Burroughs” – 7:55
15. “Reverb” – 0:26
16. “If You Can’t Talk About It, Point to It  (for Ludwig Wittgenstein and Reverend Ike)” – 0:33
17. “Violin Walk” – 2:44
18. “City Song” – 3:34
19. “Finnish Farmers” – 5:13

Disc three
1. “Red Map” – 1:57
2. “Hey Ah” – 3:50
3. “Bagpipe Solo” – 3:17
4. “Steven Weed” – 1:07  see Patricia Hearst/Steven Weed
5. “Time and a Half” – 2:14
6 .”Voices on Tape” – 1:28
7. “Example #22” – 2:33
8. “Strike” – 2:11
9. “False Documents” – 1:59
10. “New York Social Life” – 3:32
11. “A Curious Phenomenon” – 1:06
12. “Yankee See” – 7:58
13. “I Dreamed I Had to Take a Test…” – 1:19
14. “Running Dogs” – 0:38
15. “Four, Three, Two, One” – 1:15
16. “The Big Top” – 2:52
17. “It Was Up in the Mountains” – 2:14
18. “Odd Objects” For light-in-mouth – 4:03
19. “Dr. Miller”  (Anderson, Perry Hoberman) – 5:18
20. “Big Science” – 7:20  see Big Science
21. “Big Science Reprise” – 1:47

Disc four
1. “Cello Solo” – 2:44
2. “It Tango” – 1:51
3. “Blue Lagoon” – 9:38
4. “Hothead (La Langue d’Amour)” – 4:47
5. “Stiff Neck” – 1:33
6. “Telephone Song” – 1:34
7. “Sweaters” – 3:58
8. “We’ve Got Four Big Clocks (and they’re all ticking)” – 2:24
9. “Song for Two Jims” – 2:56
10. “Over the River” – 3:30
11. “Mach 20” – 2:47  see Mach number
12. “Rising Sun” – 3:25
13. “The Visitors” – 3:01
14. “The Stranger” – 1:57
15. “Classified” – 5:25
16. “Going Somewhere?” – 0:55
17. “Fireworks” – 2:46
18. “Dog Show” – 0:48
19. “Lighting Out for the Territories” – 3:13  see The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

All tracks written by Laurie Anderson except as indicated.

Credits
Bagpipes – Rufus Harley (tracks: 3-1 to 3-21)
Clarinet, Saxophone – Chuck Fisher (tracks: 2-4 to 4-19)
Co-producer [Co-produced By] – Laurie Anderson, Roma Baran
Cover, Photography By [Cover Photos] – Lynn Goldsmith
Design, Artwork By [Art] – Laurie Anderson
Engineer – Leanne Ungar
Engineer [Recording Engineer] – Bob Bielecki
Engineer [Remote Crew] – Kooster McAllister, Neal Steingart, Peter Hefter, Phil Gitomer
Flute, Saxophone – Bill Obrecht (tracks: 2-4 to 4-19)
Keyboards [Synclavier, Obxa] – Ann DeMarinis (tracks: 2-4 to 4-19)
Layout – Michael Rey
Mastered By – Bill Kipper
Percussion, Drums – David Van Tieghem (tracks: 2-4 to 4-19)
Saxophone – Bill Obrecht (tracks: 1-1 to 2-3)
Soprano Vocals – Shelley Carson (tracks: 3-1 to 4-19)
Synthesizer [Prophet] – Peter Gordon (tracks: 1-1 to 2-3)
Tape Op [Tape Operator] – Bob Davis
Violin [Electric, Neon], Keyboards [Obxa], Electronics [Vocoder, Harmonizer, Glasses], Voice – Laurie Anderson (tracks: 2-4 to 2-22)
Violin [Electric], Keyboards [Obxa, Synclavier], Electronics [Vocoder, Telephone], Jew’s Harp, Voice – Laurie Anderson (tracks: 4-1 to 4-19)
Violin [Electric], Performer [Violin Bows], Electronics [Harmonizer, Pillow Speaker], Saxophone [Toy], Voice – Laurie Anderson (tracks: 1-1 to 2-3)
Violin [Electric], Violin [Tape Bow, Neon], Keyboards [Obxa, Synclavier], Electronics [Vocoder, Harmonizer, Glasses, Telephone], Voice – Laurie Anderson (tracks: 3-1 to 3-22)
Voice – Geraldine Pontius (tracks: 1-1 to 2-3), Joe Kos (tracks: 1-1 to 2-3)
Written-By – Laurie Anderson (tracks: 1-1 to 3-19, 3-22 to 4-19)

Notes

Released: 1984
Recorded live during the world premiere of United States part 1-4 at Brooklyn Academy of Music, February 7-10, 1983.
Remote truck: Record Plant
Genre: Avant-garde
Style: Experimental music, Pop music
Length: 261:57

Label – Warner Bros. Record

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