For the Mekons, Et Al/Stable Will

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You could go crazy trying to rationalize the mercurial ways of Will Oldham, and it's accordingly hard to figure out the exact raison d'etre for this single, captured live at Chicago's late, lamented Lounge Ax in November 1994--the recording quality is regrettably muddy, but otherwise this particular incarnation of Palace (including Pooh Johnston, Charlie Snell and Jason Stith) is in top form, which begs the question why Oldham didn't release the entire set instead of just these two songs, both previously available in their original studio incarnations. Both sides document Palace at full gait, with a sound and energy just a few steps removed from garage rock--"For the Mekons et al" suggests the Band as much as it does its specific titular inspiration thanks to swirling organ fills that recall the great Garth Hudson, while "Stable Will" kicks up more dust than the wild horses summoned in its lyrics.