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LAURIE ANDERSON

Crossover Prog • United States


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Laurie Anderson picture
Laurie Anderson biography
Laurie Anderson is one of those artists that is rather quirky to say the least. She started out as a performance artist for most of the seventies. Her real claim to fame was when she decided to devote her career more to music and landed her first musical contract in the early eighties. She has appeared as a guest on one of Peter Gabriel's songs and has also been on an Eno album to name a couple. You will often find interesting musicians appearing on her albums: Adrian Belew, Peter, Gabriel, Bill Laswell, Lou Reed (they married), Bill Frisell, Brian Eno to name a few.

Her forte musically is live shows. In fact one of her first albums was a four CD disc live set. And her concert video, Home Of The Brave, certainly demonstrates this. Her music is best described as experimental art pop

Her singing style started out more as spoken voice, but by the Strange Angels had started to take more of a singing approach, which she has pretty much stuck to. Above all, Laurie has a really weird mind, which makes for some interesting lyrics and music.

Thanks to "Slartibartfast" for the Bio


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LAURIE ANDERSON Videos (YouTube and more)


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LAURIE ANDERSON discography


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LAURIE ANDERSON top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.96 | 5 ratings
Laurie Anderson, William S. Burroughs & John Giorno: You're The Guy I Want To Share My Money With
1981
3.96 | 61 ratings
Big Science
1982
4.04 | 47 ratings
Mister Heartbreak
1984
3.22 | 30 ratings
Strange Angels
1989
4.08 | 33 ratings
Bright Red
1994
3.91 | 15 ratings
Life On A String
2001
3.41 | 20 ratings
Homeland
2010
2.43 | 7 ratings
Heart Of A Dog (OST)
2015
2.33 | 3 ratings
Laurie Anderson & Kronos Quartet: Landfall
2018
1.00 | 1 ratings
Laurie Anderson, Tenzin Choegyal, Jesse Paris Smith: Songs from the Bardo
2019

LAURIE ANDERSON Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.11 | 8 ratings
United States Live
1984
3.00 | 17 ratings
Home Of The Brave
1986
3.85 | 8 ratings
The Ugly One with the Jewels and Other Stories: A Reading from Stories From the Nerve Bible
1995
2.50 | 2 ratings
Live at Town Hall New York City September 19-20, 2001
2002

LAURIE ANDERSON Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

4.12 | 6 ratings
Home Of The Brave
1986
0.00 | 0 ratings
Collected Videos
1990

LAURIE ANDERSON Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

0.00 | 0 ratings
Talk Normal: The Laurie Anderson Anthology
2000
0.00 | 0 ratings
O Superman Remixes
2003

LAURIE ANDERSON Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.00 | 1 ratings
It's Not The Bullet That Kills You - It's The Hole
1977
4.00 | 2 ratings
O Superman
1981
0.00 | 0 ratings
Big Science
1982
4.00 | 1 ratings
Sharkey's Day
1984
0.00 | 0 ratings
Language Is A Virus From Outer Space
1986
3.09 | 4 ratings
Strange Angels
1989
0.00 | 0 ratings
Baby Doll
1989
0.00 | 0 ratings
Beautiful Red Dress
1990
0.00 | 0 ratings
In Our Sleep
1995
0.00 | 0 ratings
Big Science EP
2007
0.00 | 0 ratings
Mambo and Bling
2008
0.00 | 0 ratings
Only an Expert
2010

LAURIE ANDERSON Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Homeland by ANDERSON, LAURIE album cover Studio Album, 2010
3.41 | 20 ratings

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Homeland
Laurie Anderson Crossover Prog

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

3 stars My relationship with LAURIE ANDERSON's music relies on four albums that I'm pretty fond of: Strange Angels (1989), Bright Red (1994), the story-telling live album The Ugly One With Jewels (1995) and Life on a String (2001). Homeland is my first and only new acquaintance for a long time. Maybe my appetite for her was already fully satisfied by the mentioned albums, but anyway it didn't manage to make as notable an impression on me. Lyrically it could be Laurie at her most meaningful with all the critical views on the United States etc., but in my reception the two pieces with the strongest emphasis on words were also my least faves, even though on albums such as The Ugly One the story level is the very essence.

On this album the way lyrics are delivered is not as grabbing,; instead of that spellbinding spoken word approach she rather sings on high register on several tracks. But first about my two unfavoured tracks that stick too much of the 66-minute album whole which often has a dream-like, quiet, introspective and musically minimalistic aura. Trip-hop(?) flavoured 'Only an Expert' has awful lots of words and an ear-worm chorus, and on the 11-minute monologue-centred 'Another Day in America' Laurie uses a voice-changing device. The idea is to sound like a man (on het liner notes she speaks of the fictitious character called Fenway Bergamot, "the debonair misfit on the cover") but it only reminds me of the crime/misfortune documentaries where the voices are made unidentifiable. Such a drag to listen to this long track.

The unique and personal Laurie Anderson touch is there, ie. one couldn't think of anyone else behind this bravely uncommercial album. The mentioned dreamy atmosphere is at times impressive -- although a bit monotonous on the long run --, but the definitive highlights are few. 'Bodies in Motion' reminds me nicely of Life on a String, and 'The Beginning of Memory' is a lovely fable-like story. 'Flow' is a beautiful closing piece for solo violin.

The supplementary DVD was a disappointemt for me, having seen a fascinating film written and directed by Laurie herself. Naah, the 41-minute 'Homeland: The Story of the Lark' is mainly just talking heads and live snippets focusing on the album making, and missing subtitles too, I didn't get very much of it.

 Strange Angels by ANDERSON, LAURIE album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1989
3.09 | 4 ratings

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Strange Angels
Laurie Anderson Crossover Prog

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

3 stars The very personal American artist Laurie Anderson made an impressive entrance into the music scene with her bravely avantish/minimalistic single 'O Superman' in 1981. The song was included in her debut album Big Science (1982). By the way, the second album Mister Heartbreak (1984) includes 'Excellent Birds', the collaboration with Peter Gabriel that also appeared as a CD bonus track of Gabriel's album So (1986). Anderson's third studio album Strange Angels (1989) is among her most accessible works, sonically here and there bordering on sleeky cheesiness. It contains songs with a relatively "normal" structure on the Anderson scale, such as the title track opening the album.

'Strange Angels' is a peaceful and soft-sounding song which indeed could be described as "a charming pop ballad", to cite an album review here. Scott Johnson's bright guitar sound is enjoyable, but of course it is Laurie's clear voice that sovereignly dominates the piece, as always. Usually she's stylistically in her own league, approaching if not completely orientating to a spoken word performance instead of melodic singing. This song however is rather melodic, and could be compared to peaceful and relaxed songs by some other female singer-songwriters such as EVA DAHLGREN or JANE SIBERRY in the eighties, although Laurie doesn't get as emotional as those two.

'The Dream Before' was also taken from Strange Angels, and this is a more representative Laurie Anderson track. The tempo is very slow, and the narrative oriented vocals are lightly backed by synth only. Bobby McFerrin adds some deliberately monotonic backing vocals. Musically there's not much going on, but the lyrics interestingly paint the adult lives of siblings known as little kids from a fairy tale told by Brothers Grimm in 1812. "Hansel and Gretel are alive and well and they're living in Berlin. She is a cocktail waitress...." and so on. This single gives a good picture of the album's accessibility which nevertheless deserves to be listened to entirely. Nice, but not Laurie Anderson at her most interesting.

 Big Science by ANDERSON, LAURIE album cover Studio Album, 1982
3.96 | 61 ratings

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Big Science
Laurie Anderson Crossover Prog

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

4 stars Having fallen for the bizarre charm of LAURIE ANDERSON with "Bright Red" I recently lucked out and found her near complete studio output at our used music store for a very nice price. Having wondered if I only like her because of the Eno collaboration on that album, I thought i'd give her another try. I am surprised that I like her debut release BIG SCIENCE because when I listened to a couple tracks on YouTube a while back I was left unimpressed. Well the lesson for me is that never judge a book by only reading two pages. They happened to be the two tracks that I like the least. The rest of the album is very good. I am always impressed when an artist can carve out their own unique little nook in the musical universe and LAURIE ANDERSON has done just that and not only has she done so but she successfully throws together a diverse bunch of sounds, rhythms and melodies that play well together.

The first "From The Air" is one of tracks I didn't like when I heard it on YouTube, but now I find it humorous as i've warmed up to her sound. Next up is the title track where the album gets interesting. LAURIE displays her unique ability to use spoken word with strange musical backings. On here we get a drony synth line with sticks and harmonicas and percussion. Not gonna go into track by track but throughout this album we get bagpipes, bongo drums, saxophones, accordions, farfisa bass, casiotone, bottles, handclaps, piccolo, clarinet, rototoms, marimba and several instruments that LAURIE constructed herself. Despite being minimalist in terms of composition, there is great diversity in the sound textures which has made this a highly sampled album by hip hop artists.

For example, on her huge hit "O Superman" which actually hit #2 on the UK charts, she constructed a specially modified violin that has a recording head on it that makes weird sounds. She also uses a vocoder to alter her voice. Her lyrics are semi-hilarious and semi-serious just like her vocal style is kind of a semi-spoken, semi-sung type. This is a very strange album made all the stranger by realizing it came out in the 80s when there was nothing even remotely close to this. In fact there probably still isn't. LAURIE ANDERSON has found a place where no one else has dared to tread. Hypnotic, melodic, profound and downright silly. All these adjectives come to mind when i'm listening to this. An excellent taste of the avant-garde art pop that works on different levels.

 Bright Red by ANDERSON, LAURIE album cover Studio Album, 1994
4.08 | 33 ratings

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Bright Red
Laurie Anderson Crossover Prog

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

4 stars I have been a hold out on checking out the music of LAURIE ANDERSON simply because I am not a huge fan of spoken word vocals in lyrics and the few YouTube clips I checked out of tracks from her most highly rated album "Big Science" failed to get my tail wagging so when I found a good deal on her album BRIGHT RED I thought i'd give her a listen and see if she's really as boring as I remembered from those samples. Well, the answer is.... hell NO! I am quite impressed with this album. First of all, LAURIE ANDERSON occupies a musical niche like no other i've heard. For many of the tracks on this album she neither quite sings nor quite speaks. At times she is more speaking with slight musical intonations, while at other times she's not quite speaking but not fully singing. At other times she sings like an angel.

I suspect the reason I may like this album a lot is because it is a marriage of the profound thought provoking poetry of LAURIE and her brilliant delivery of it and the excellent production of Brian Eno who helps out in the songwriting department and with some additional help on some instruments and arrangements. The music that accompanies the precisely timed lyrics is impeccable and the decision to use which instrument when and where is equally impressive. It really doesn't matter if LAURIE is half reciting like on "Speak My Language" or trading off words with her backup singer as on the title track or fully singing as on the dual vocal song "Muddy River" with only an accompanying drumbeat. The songs are harmonically and melodically interesting making LAURIE ANDERSON a true master of her unique brand of experimental art pop.

Now that i've seen the BRIGHT RED light I need to revisit her discography to hear if i've been missing out on more gems like this or if this is a unique concoction that has enough Eno influence to spice up LAURIE's bizarre take on her poetic take on music. I find this album very diverse up to the last few tracks and then it kind of runs its course. Of the two parts of the album that are titled BRIGHT RED and TIGHTROPE I find the first side to be utterly brilliant with the second starting out strong and slowly fading into the less so.

 Bright Red by ANDERSON, LAURIE album cover Studio Album, 1994
4.08 | 33 ratings

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Bright Red
Laurie Anderson Crossover Prog

Review by admireArt
Prog Reviewer

5 stars The best way I could describe most of Laurie Anderson's albums, will be like galleries of "paintings", that although they hold a "conceptual" title, they are independent and free of it. "BRIGHT RED", released in 1994, is my personal best experience with this multi/talented musician.

Laurie Anderson, besides being a talented arranger, performer (violin, keyboards), song writer, composer and vocalist, has no match as far as comparisons go. Her musical world and language stands alone. Therefore, in able to suggest the greatness of "BRIGHT RED", I will have to turn for some kind of metaphors to explain a language without translation.

Songs constructed in independent styles, that never fall far from Mrs. Anderson's realms, and yet, go through all kinds of transitions and states of emotions, that are always "glued" by the never oversized, "dark" and "angelical" voice, that more than singing, "croons" austoundingly intelligent and intimate lyrics, that never lose their wit or humour, even if the feeling of the song goes the opposite way. Her means of "expression" as far as known styles go, go from "Ambiental/Cabaret" to "Progressive/Folk/ Electronic" to "Ambiental story telling" (if such a thing exists and no "Prog/Pop" on this one), and yet her musical identity and musical language is never lost in these "trips" of emotions. The best attribute I find in Mrs. Anderson's music, besides all of the above, is how her music, without compromises, neither market-wise nor audience-like, can be so damn personal and friendly at the same time, to the lucky person who gets to witness her intimate soul, delivered out in the open, in her pen-written compositions.

"BRIGHT RED" compresses all of these attributes into one single "crossover" experience. Austere, intelligent, deep as no one else can go, and still laugh about the whole thing.

A "Masterpiece" of Prog, both unique and flawless in performance and composition. Add all that, equals ***** 5 PA stars.

 Strange Angels by ANDERSON, LAURIE album cover Studio Album, 1989
3.22 | 30 ratings

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Strange Angels
Laurie Anderson Crossover Prog

Review by octopus-4
Special Collaborator RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams

3 stars An excellent pop album.

Five years after her last studio release, Laurie Anderson is back. I remember the surprise and a little disappointment when I've listened to it for the first time. No more experimentalism, nothing challenging, just good pop. Honestly, had the same music been released by somebody else I would have found it very good...it's like eating Marmite thinking it's Nutella, it depends much on what one is expecting.

So what we have here? Ten good songs deeply sounding 80s even though we are at the end of that hateful decade. A very nice pop tune opens the album followed by an ethnic thing which may remind even to Miriam Makeba, a sort of Peter Gabriel's song of the 80s in terms of sounds and mood, an electronic song which could have been released by the Eurhytmics (note, this is a band that I think has done something very good sometimes, so I'm not putting Laurie Anderson down), then brasses in Phil Collins style open a song which you can imagine sung by Jon Anderson in his excursions in south and central America with a Calypso tempo.

In any case, the B side is more in line with Laurie's usual output, "The Day Of The Devil", at least not considering the poppy chorus, and "The Dream Before" are excellent songs and sound less 80s than the rest.

Another very radio-friendly song leads to the last album's song which is a great song on which Laurie shows that she can really sing other than speaking or using vocoders. The closer makes me think, for its mood, to the Roger Waters of Radio KAOS, I mean "The Tide Is Turning2, but also to the most melodic songs of the "White Zulu" Johhny Clegg.

So this album is musically like a summary of the few good things coming from the 80s and surely one of the best things of the decade, but very far from Laurie's best efforts. Good enough for three stars, a very pleasant listen, but not what one should expect from an artist like this.

 United States Live by ANDERSON, LAURIE album cover Live, 1984
3.11 | 8 ratings

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United States Live
Laurie Anderson Crossover Prog

Review by HolyMoly
Special Collaborator Retired Admin

3 stars 4 1/2 hours of Surreal Music Theater

Laurie Anderson is probably best known for her hit album Big Science and the experimental yet strangely alluring single "O Superman". What most people may not know is that these songs were originally conceived as part of an extended concept piece called United States, over four hours in duration. This 4 CD box set is a complete live performance of that piece. For those familiar with Big Science, it is quite interesting to hear the pieces in the context they were originally intended.

Of course, listening to a 4.5 hour long stage concept piece can be a daunting task without at least the aid of visuals, but on the whole this is very listenable. There are surreal spoken word pieces, atmospheric instrumentals (often featuring Anderson's violin playing), and rhythmic synthesizer-based vocal pieces (also usually spoken). I haven't bothered to untangle the meaning behind it all, but with a name like United States, it appears to be a humorous yet slightly sad examination of the state of the nation. It's not overtly political - she seems to focus more on the chasms that exist between people. In an age where we are closer than ever before -- thanks to innovations in communication and travel technology -- we still seem spiritually farther apart. Nowhere is this more poignantly stated than in "O Superman", on the surface a novelty number, but when you listen closely it's almost unbearably sad. That kind of melancholy hangs over the whole piece, even as Laurie Anderson keeps the audience entertained with a significant dose of both verbal and musical humor. They say that comedy often hides huge pain underneath, and that seems true here.

Way too long to listen to in one sitting, and without the visuals (which I'd like to see someday), it suffers a bit, but overall a huge and daring accomplishment by Laurie Anderson.

 Big Science by ANDERSON, LAURIE album cover Studio Album, 1982
3.96 | 61 ratings

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Big Science
Laurie Anderson Crossover Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Laurie Anderson's debut solo album consists of her intoning her spoken word prose poems over a musical backing which reminds me of some of Brian Eno's ambient pop works (such as Another Green World). Essentially an edited extract from United States - a truly epic spoken word, music and performance art piece eventually issued in a 5-LP/4CD set some years after this came out - it's an intriguing album with a chilly, emotionless, analytical atmosphere. It certainly isn't the sort of material I can see myself spinning on a regular basis, but I can respect the musical vision at work here - it's just not going to hook you unless your aesthetic tastes happen to sync both with the minimalistic approach Anderson goes for and the stark production values.
 Mister Heartbreak by ANDERSON, LAURIE album cover Studio Album, 1984
4.04 | 47 ratings

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Mister Heartbreak
Laurie Anderson Crossover Prog

Review by octopus-4
Special Collaborator RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams

4 stars After the unexpected commercial success of a "difficult" album like "Big Science", Laurie Anderson meets Nile Rodgers, the genius of pop who also plays guitar in this album. The result is incredible.

This is an album full of 80s sounds, very much easier than the previous one, but Rodgers as producer has been able to adjust the sounds without making interference with Laurie's songwriting, and even though I have deeply hated the 80s and their electronics, I really like this album.

The opener, "Sharkey's Day", has a minimalistic start. Two major chords, speech and various electronics alternated to a sung chorus vaguely reminiding of VELVET UNDERGROUND. The feeling that this song transmits is strange: weirdness and foolishness together with a sort of quotidian life. I've neven been in the big Apple, but this song sounds very newyorkese.

"Langue D'Amour" has a similar mood. The poetry spelled by Laurie sounds like a less "tragic" Patti Smith. The keyboards layer is very nice, still based on a sequence of few bass notes on major chords. Hypnotic.

After two very good tracks, "Gravity Angel" is excellent. Laurie sings on high pitches. The sounds are again very 80s, and four bass notes act as counterpart to Laurie's vocals until the electronic drums enter the song. The mood doesn't change much even with the drumming. male vocals are added and Laurie alternates singing and speaking. The electronics reminds me to RICK WRIGHT and his Broken China for the kind of sounds used. Dark and hypnotic, this is probably the best album's track.

"Kokoku" whatever it means has an ethnic flavor. Seems connected in some way to the Native Americans, maybe. I don't understand the lyrics, neither the language so this song may be about totally different things. The part in English says "I come very briefly to this place. I watch it move. I watch it shake" and in the middle of the song a shakuyaki or a similar Asian string instrument overcomes the electronics. "on a very distant star, slimy creatures scan the skies". Seems more SciFi than ethnic.

"Excellent Birds" with male vocals could stay on "ZEE - IDENTITY". It's the same kind of 80s dark electronics which I actually disliked. Listening to this music now, I appreciate it much more. Who likes the 80s stuff of PETER GABRIEL will surely like this song as well.

"Blue Lagoon" is even more similar to the ZEE thing. I think I'll relisten to that album better in the next days. The instrumental interlude in the middle of the song is fantastic, but the whole song is excellent. A trip to a strange place "I saw a plane today. Flying low over the island. But my mind was somewhere else."

"Sharkey's Night" closes the circle. I don't know who Sharkey is and if there's a concept behind the album. I have read that this was also a movie directed by Laurie herself, so I may be loosing part of the message. This song takes 2 minutes to re-enter in the two major chords of the first track. Instead of Laurie a "drunk man" voice speeches on the electronic base.

This is a quite easy album, even in the darker moments, something that can be put in the background even in a tea room (very Neworkese, isn't it?), but at the same time it's still a bit "experimental", so even the listeners looking for something more challenging can have their fun.

 Mister Heartbreak by ANDERSON, LAURIE album cover Studio Album, 1984
4.04 | 47 ratings

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Mister Heartbreak
Laurie Anderson Crossover Prog

Review by WanderingLogician

5 stars I first heard of Laurie Anderson because of her collaboration with Peter Gabriel, "Excellent Birds", which was on So. I eventually bought her album "Big Science" and, while it was certainly extremely creative, I wasn't very impressed with it. The wacky vocals kind of weirded me out. Mister Heartbreak is a vastly more accessible album, which is a good thing. Here is no weirdness for the sake of being weird; while admittedly you will never hear these songs on commercial radio they are all eminently listenable. More than that, they are sublime. The spoken word lyrics alternate between surreal poetry and wry observations of humanity and culture, and the music complements the words fantastically. The overall effect marries the ambiance of Another Green World to the psychedelia of Piper at the Gates of Dawn. The album closes perfectly with an appearance by William S. Burroughs who reads a lyrical piece with a rich voice that makes you want to laugh and cry at the same time. It's indescribable; I always hate that it has to end. I can't recommend this album enough.
Thanks to chris s for the artist addition. and to NotAProghead for the last updates

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