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The Wonder Show Of The World CD

4.0 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Audio CD (29 Mar. 2010)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: CD
  • Label: Domino Records
  • ASIN: B0039ZELEO
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  Audio Cassette  |  Vinyl  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 117,414 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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Product Description

Product Description

1. Troublesome Houses
2. Teach Me to Bear You
3. With Cornstalks Or Among Them
4. The Sounds Are Always Begging
5. Go Folks Go
6. That's What Our Love Is
7. Merciless and Great
8. Where Wind Blows
9. Someone Coming Through
10. Kids

BBC Review

The amazing productivity of Will Oldham should set alarm bells ringing, as surely the man’s quality control can’t be maintained when at least one new studio album per year has emerged since 2003’s Master and Everyone (counting 2007’s Wai Notes, alongside Dawn McCarthy). But Oldham’s Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy guise has served him well, with only 2009’s Beware the subject of a light critical lashing. And even then, he charmed as many as he cheesed off.

The Wonder Show of the World is the first album to see Oldham crediting the Cairo Gang, aka Emmett Kelly and Shahzad Ismaily, as headline performers, though the pair contributed to previous long-players The Letting Go (2006), Lie Down in the Light (2008) and last outing proper, Beware. It’s a move supported by the recordings here, rich as they are with evident examples of essential support from these previously bit-part players. Ismaily provides not only bass but also vocals; Kelly, meanwhile, is regularly dominant in the mix, his nimble guitar work gracefully complementing Oldham’s warmly familiar, cracked but colourful croon. As his syllables waver, Ismaily’s drift into focus, and this dynamic, subtle though it is, is superbly realised.

The spacious production lends The Wonder Show… an appealing as-live feeling, an intimacy that Oldham has often turned to his advantage in the past and does so again here. The sparse backing on Someone Coming Through allows him to turn in a moving performance buoyed by Ismaily’s lovely harmonies, and closer Kids is similarly arranged, only the lightest acoustic guitar to be heard beneath the vocal layers. The country vibes of Beware are refined on numbers like The Sounds Are Always Begging and the delectably delicate Merciless and Great. The latter is among the album’s most wonderfully lovelorn moments, which plays to Oldham’s lyrical strengths without any suggestion of schmaltz. His sentimentality may cloy with some, but few can criticise such unaffected delivery.

It’s been a long time since Oldham was a secret shared only by a relatively small crowd – his debut under the ‘Bonnie’ moniker, 1999’s I See a Darkness, was universally acclaimed and acted as an introduction for many admirers. But such a work rate inevitably stirs doubt, and followers have expectedly drifted away. They’re unlikely to be attracted back by this collection, but it’s sure to resonate deeply with a faithful that’s stood by their man since the days of Palace Brothers.   --Mike Diver

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Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
It is hard not to commence any review of a new Bonnie Pince Billy album with a statement of the "bleeding obvious" that Will Oldham is one of the most prolific artists alive and it begs the question in turn whether his productivity actually works against him? The sheer weight of the music he releases could be daunting for anyone approaching the former Palace Brother. Check out his multiple collaborations, cameo appearances on other records and his stout refusal to detour from the basic template of his musical vision and you find an intriguing and uncompromising artist but one who will probably never trouble the charts to any significant level. Indeed that would never be a primary concern for Oldman who is perfectly content to plough his own furrow (albeit a very wide furrow) and consistently produce albums of searing quality but also tender introspection. People usually point to his masterwork "I See Darkness" as the entry point into his work, but my personal favourite is "Master and Everyone" a great austere beauty and displaying the tender beguiling song writing that we have come to expect from Oldham. On that album's title track and songs like "Ain't you wealthy ain't you wise" he can appear quaint at first but keep listening the subtle phrasing and perfect economy demonstrates Oldham's complete mastery and depth on repeated plays.

On his new album "The Wonder of the World" with the Cairo Gang namely long-standing guitarist Emmett Kelly some of the mood and feel of "Master and Everyone" is present. The opener "Troublesome houses" starts with the immortal lines "I once loved a girl, but she couldn't take that I visited troublesome houses, she'd say when I got home, to leave her alone" which is typical Oldham both tender and flawed.
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Format: Audio CD
This has had some mixed reviews but, while not up to the standard of The Letting Go, it is still a very good release. It's a 'mature sounding' record with a lush, laid-back feel, so I guess it was never going to sit well with the people still holding out for another 'I See A Darkness' . I think that songs like "Go Folks, Go", "The Sounds Are Always Begging" & the affecting closer "Kids" are as good as anything he's done. This is Will Oldham's 3rd studio album in the space of three years and all are worth owning!
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This album is more roots than more recent releases. Like most BPB albums it takes a number of listens to truly appreciate. Exceptional in a minimal way. Interestingly my favorite albums (and I have all of Bonnie Prince billy's) are recorded/produced by Mark Nevers. These include "Lie down in the night" and the masterful "master & everyone". Mr Will Oldham, would you please consider Daniel Lanois for your next project. What a combination that would be!!!!
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By robotfish TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 25 May 2010
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
As much as I admire Will Oldham's back catalogue I can't get into this. The album is hugely reminiscent of Master and Servant, but with one major exception comes up short in all ways. That major exception is a song called Merciless and Great, which has a tune so awesome and involving you end up wondering why the rest of the album is so samey.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x9778e9b4) out of 5 stars 8 reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9779b780) out of 5 stars New BPB continues amazing streak of recordings... 2 April 2010
By jcsnet - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I received this release in the mail a few days ago and I've been repeatedly listening to it ever since. The lyrics are intimate and the music rich and sparse at the same time. Many of the songs take some time to register as they don't have an immediate hook but once I stopped waiting for the immediate rush of a hook and provided the album my full undivided attention I felt like I was being enveloped. This is the rare album that manages to be both accessible and challenging at the same time. With time I think it could easily rank near the top of my favorite BPB recordings.

Finally, I can't give Billy all the credit... Emmett Kelly's backing vocals and guitar work are an amazing compliment to these songs. The songs feel almost spur of the moment but these two are in lockstep with one another and present a brilliant collaboration. Highly recommended for BPB fans!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9779b9cc) out of 5 stars I think this is his finest record 20 Feb. 2013
By Josh - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
In my estimation this is his best work. After a couple of years of near-non-stop listening to this record I really find very few faults with Wonder Show of the World. Oldham has been criticized in the past for the 2nd half of his records falling a little flat, but in this case the 2nd half of this record is like an entirely different story, and it unquestionably the more harrowing music on a record that starts a little more friendly and a lot more catchy. I had the good fortune of hearing BPB and Emmit Kelley play at McCabe's when they were touring this record and it was even more astounding in person. This is a top 5 all time album for me. I can't decide if I am revolted by the fact there there are only 4 other reviews here, or if I am some kind of special entity that got to see the golden gates that no one else did. Or maybe I just have questionable taste...?

Not sure if this would be a good place to start for an uninitiated fan, but anyone with familiarity of his absurdly prolific catalog will enjoy this, perhaps as much as I do.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By Rico Suave - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
I like this record. I find it holds together quite well, is maybe a little less dark than "Beware" (not that I mind dark...), and with the unique addition of the Cairo Band's Emmett Kelly as a wonderful (and amazingly appropriate) match, I can highly recommend it. I must say, and this is something that I am pretty sensitive to, I don't really find it that much more "lo-fi" than some of the other recent albums (Is it the Sea as an obvious exception). I have a nice tube/b&w system and find it tonally correct and full with solid imagining. Not to say I don't like Mark Nevers work - especially on Lie Down - but I don't think this is a badly recorded album. Plus its freaking brilliant that they pressed vinyl. I have not been able to get the song "The Sounds are always Begging" out of my head for freaking days! Well done Will. Thank you.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9779bf6c) out of 5 stars Good show 16 Feb. 2011
By Awesome!!! - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
I feel this is the best album he has made since Arise Therefore. "That's What Our Love Is" is the most beautiful song I have heard him do. Other great tracks on here too. The harmonizing is beautiful. Hopefully he will collaborate with these folks again. Please release a live album of these songs. Saw them play these in Grass Valley and it was very moving.
HASH(0x9787d198) out of 5 stars Merciless and great 13 Nov. 2013
By Beelzebub666 - Published on Amazon.com
I got to see BPB and the Cairo Gang perform this album live at Pickathon back in 2010 and it has to be one of the best shows I've ever seen. BPB...red wine...in the woods...at dusk...doesn't get better than that. This recording is incredibly similar to their live show because of how sparse it is. There's tons of well-placed reverb that gives it a haunting feeling; accented by Emmett Kelly, who is one of the best guitarists I've heard in a while. I also think Will's vocals were much better on this album than his previous stuff. "Troublesome Houses" is jaunty and witty as is more epic songs like "Merciless and Great". Huge variety, but they all sound like they belong together.
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