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1001 Albums: Bayou Country

#138

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Artist: Creedence Clearwater Revival

Album: Bayou Country

Year: 1969

Length: 33:48

Genre: Roots Rock / Swamp Rock / Southern Rock

“If you come down to the river
Bet you gonna find some people who live
You don’t have to worry ’cause you have [if you got] no money
People on the river are happy to give

Big wheel keep on turnin’
Proud Mary keep on burnin’
Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’ on the river
Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’ on the river”

 

This album marks the beginning of a new playlist on my spotify account, aptly named “1001 Albums 60s part 2” because I was very creative when it came to naming them. I have to say, it’s a bit of a milestone in this musical journey I’ve decided to partake in and any milestone at this point feels like well-deserved achievement, even if this is only 138 albums into 1001.

Creedence Clearwater Revival (or CCR as I like to call them) are one of those bands that I knew about, heard about a whole lot, but never listened to. My only exposure to them would be when one of their songs would play in a movie and even then I wouldn’t even know I was listening to CCR. Those were ignorant times for me because I find it quite the crime that I never even gave this band a chance or a listen or even a lookey-loo. When these guys were big, they were big, pounding record after record out (5 in two years) that were massive critical successes. If the band members names had been more of a household… name then they probably would have replaced the superstardom that was left empty once The Beatles broke up. I mean, they were big and came right at the tail-end of The Beatles career, they had a chance for sure. But didn’t. However, I;m not here to discuss that, I’m here to talk about their first big album and that’s Bayou Country.

I did not expect to love this album, I went into it expecting some sort of mix of folk rock and country that I would have possibly been amused by but not engaged with. Instead I was hooked form beginning to end. If I had never heard about Swamp Rock and was told to imagine what Swamp Rock would sound like, this is probably what I would have thought of, with every one of their songs evoking images of life on the bayou, waterside afternoons and swampy marshes full of crocs and slugs.There’s no low points to be found and is a great journey down Bayou Country indeed. From the opening riffs of Born on the Bayou, to the sometimes incomprehensible vocals (I didn’t get they were saying Bootleg until I saw the title of the song), to the joyous chanting of rollin on the river, to the grand finale of Keep on Chooglin, it’s a wild ride. Even the incredibly repetitive instrumentation of Graveyard Train doesn’t feel like it tracks (haha) on forever and it doesn’t feel grating at all, which is a difficult thing to pull of when using repetition.

If I had one thing to say it would be I didn’t really feel like they needed to add a cover of “Good Golly Miss Molly” in there. It isn’t bad but feels a little out of place amongst the rest of the album. I didn’t care much for it but thankfully it didn’t take away my enjoyment as a whole. I’m so happy I got to finally experience CCR in all it’s glory, after years of wondering what a CCR was i finally got to find out and it was amazing! I might be exaggerating my feelings a little, which is  heavy possibility with me, but it’s always a great feeling to discover something new that tickles your earbuds that i just wanted to bask in the glory of this newfound joy. Don’t know much about Swamp Rock but if all Swamp Rock bands sound this way then I can easily see this being a genre I can come to like, maybe even love, but I don;t know if I’m ready for that kind of a commitment. I still haven’t broken up with Jazz yet and Jazz can be unstable, so I’m not really sure how Jazz will handle me having a new relationship with another genre.

As much as the swamp is a great aesthetic for the music, I don’t think swamps are very safe places to hang out at. Their full of dangerous shit like crocodiles and leeches and god knows what kind of microorganisms that can crawl under your skin and create a world of pain and hell. I don’t remember the last time I went to a swamp. I’ve been to swamp-like areas but they seemed to be trying too hard to be swamps rather than just being themselves. Maybe more like a boggy marsh. I do like frogs though, and there’s lots of frogs at swamps. I sued to catch frogs as a kid at my cottage, but suddenly… frogs stopped appearing and that was sad. But I always get excited when I see a little fella hopping along. They’re super cute.

Anyway, I diverted a bit there. CCR only has three albums on the list and seeing how much I’ve liked all three (yeah I’ve gotten way ahead of myself in terms of listening) I will most definitely check out their other albums. (Maybe… I say that but knowing me I probably won’t anytime soon and it’ll probably be a few years later before I remember “Oh hey yeah, I said I’d do that” and then still not do it. Not because I don’t care but I can be a little (ok a lot) absent-minded when it comes to certain things and I really do, I swear, i want to, I just… probably won’t out of pure airheadedness). Until then, Keep on Chooglin’, whatever the hell that means.

Seriously.

What does that mean?

Song of Choice: Bootleg

-Bosco

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1001 Albums: Trout Mask Replica

#137

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Artist: Captain Beefheart

Album: Trout Mask Replica

Year: 1969

Length: 78:51

Genre: Avant-Garde / Art Rock / Blues / Experimental Rock

A squid eating dough in a polyethylene bag is fast and bulbous. Got me?

Well there you have it. I’ve officially found an album that I found incredibly difficult to listen to. Actually, I wouldn’t be surprised if everyone who has listened to this would say the same thing. My tolerance in general is actually really high when it comes to difficult music, with the exception of music made purposefully just to be pure noise, but anything that has a (debatable) sense of melody and tune I can sit through. Sure, I hate sitting through country music and there’s a ton of artists that I can’t stand to listen to (U2, Coldplay and Radiohead) but when push comes to shove I can sit through it if I had to. Heck, I’m the kind of person who loves The Shagg’s Philosophy of the World, which is considered the worst album of all time, an album that everyone I show it to turns it off almost immediately because they just can’t listen to it. I can sit through that and yet I found this album difficult to sit through because of what it offered sonically.

This album has really left me at odds with how I feel. On the one hand I absolutely love it, I always love absurd and screwed up music and this falls neatly into that category. I found myself enjoying the songs and loving the pure insanity of what was happening. But on the other hand I couldn’t grasp what exactly was being made here. At least with something like The Shagg’s I know it’s terrible and was an earnest attempt at music by people who had no idea how music worked, but here… here it’s an abomination of sorts created by a group of people who knew exactly what they were doing. Captain Beefheart isn’t new to music, he played in the Mothers of Invention, heck Frank Zappa is even the producer on this album. This album is also full of incredibly talented musicians, I mean what Beefheart was asking of them required a shit ton of talent to recreate. Based on a story I heard, apparently he’d show the other musicians what he wanted off a piano (an instrument he apparently couldn’t play, apparently) and what he wanted was apparently not even possible to recreate on a guitar but the guitarist had to anyway. It’s pure madness when yous top to think about it and I think that’s kind of the point.

Is this an avant-garde masterpiece or the complete gibberish nonsense of a delusional madman whose lost his marbles? I don’t think we’ll ever have the answer but what we have here is the perfect example of an album where the artist had full control over every aspect. Usually it’s arguable that that isn’t always a good thing as most art blossoms from constructive criticism instead of being surrounded by Yes men but int his case… it’s hard to tell if that’s a good or bad thing. I mean, we wouldn’t have this insane piece of music if it weren’t for that and who knows what it might have been instead with people putting in their two cents, maybe polished and easier to listen to… but then… it wouldn’t be Trout Mask Replica.

It’s hard to call it a masterpiece when Beefheart very deliberately seemed to create a complete deconstruction of what we understand music to be. Is that what makes it a masterpiece? Is it a masterpiece int he same way that Freddy Got Fingered was a masterpiece of surrealist absurd Dada art filmmaking? But then again can we really call it terrible? Is it terrible if the terribleness was deliberate? Is it really terrible if the creator did it on purpose to make it sound that way? All this album does is raise so many questions, none of which I have any answers to. The public seems completely split by it with enthusiasts who love it on one side and people who think it’s garbage on the other. What’s the truth? What’s the reality? WHO IS RIGHT??? WHAT IS GOING ON HERE?????

The truth is I can’t even begin to dissect this album, I don’t have the knowledge or ability to do so. Thankfully, there are countless videos on YouTube that do just that and if you’re interested I’d suggest doing that because there’s no way I can even begin to understand what’s happening here. I mean, on one song, the instruments don’t even play int he same tune or time signature as each other, and even throughout one song those keep changing as the drums do their damn best to keep it altogether like a piece of scotch tape trying to hold together a dam to prevent it from bursting and flooding the entire town. All the while Captain Beefheart himself growls his way through all the absurd lyrics, is it poetic? I don’t know, maybe it is but then again maybe it’s not meant to be. At this point I’ll believe either one.

This album somehow manages to simultaneously be the worst album ever and the best album ever. The dumbest and yet the smartest. It seems to embrace two extremes while never really being one or the other. it has transcended reality, gone beyond space and time and has entered a universe of its own. It is above the heavens and beneath the hells. It sinks deep into the subconscious while being at the forefront of your thoughts. It transcends the heights of philosophy and thinking. It both is and is not at the same time. How do you question that which is a nothing and yet a something? How can something be nothing and yet be something while being nothing? What is…. WHAT IS….???

It is Trout Mask Replica.

Song of Choice: Can I even really pick a song of choice off this album? Is that even possible?? I pick…. Frownland just because it’s starts your journey into pure insanity. it’s the gateway drug to Beefheart’s mind.

-Bosco

 

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1001 Albums: Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere

#136

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Artist: Neil Young

Album: Everybody Knows This is Nowhere

Year: 1969

Length: 40:29

Genre: Country Rock / Hard Rock

“Everybody seems to wonder
What it’s like down here
I gotta get away
from this day-to-day
running around,
Everybody knows
this is nowhere.”

CANADA REPRESENT! Love seeing some good, old Canadian talent getting the recognition they deserve. If you hadn’t guessed by now, I’m very much a Canadian (French-Canadian to be exact, hence why I was so excited to see Leonard Cohen pop up (but I do a great job of explaining that in that post)). I wouldn’t necessarily call myself a proud Canadian because the idea of patriotism doesn’t really make sense to me, how can you be proud of being a nationality? But I am proud of Canada’s achievements especially when it comes to the arts. Believe it or not, Canada is a huge exporter of artistic talent. Some of the biggest talents in music and film have come straight out of Canada. Jim Carrey was an Ontarion, Dan Akroyd, original not ready for prime time player and the writer for Ghostbusters and Blues Brothers, RUSH, one of the biggest prog rock bands out there with mega hits (who funnily enough I am currently listening to), Leonard Cohen, who I don’t need to talk more about, Celine Dion, the Quebec sensation who sang the Titanic song, Seth Rogen, stoner extraordinaire, Joni Mitchell, who also doesn’t need any introduction, and many, many, many more. Neil Young is just one of the hundreds of talents to come out of this country and from Toronto no less, which is my current home town.

There is a good possibility every time I come across Canadian talent, I’ll get excited, but that’s only normal. Everyone loves to see successful people who have brought some sort of joy to many come from their countries and especially their home towns and you do feel a sense of pride knowing that such great people are representing your home in a good way. (There’s tons that do in a bad way too, I mean Justin Bieber and Drake also come from Toronto, but I think Neil Young properly out shines them any day).

I’ll be honest, despite what I just said, this is actually my first exposure to any Neil Young music. The closest I’ve come to seeing any of his work was from his film Human Highway, and even then I only saw the segment with Devo performing “It Takes A Worried Man”, and that’s only because I’m a huge Devo fan. Of course, I don’t live under a rock either so Neil Young was definitely a name I knew and a musician I was 100% aware of but never listened to. Don’t even know why, I guess it was a lack of interest on my part to discover his work and also, and this is probably a big possibility, he falls under the country rock category, and everyone knows how much I avoid Country music as if my life depended on it. Either way, I really didn’t know what to expect going into this and I think the fact I went in with zero expectations is what caused me to enjoy the album as much as I did.

Yes, I enjoyed music that falls under the Country Rock category. I know, it’s insane. But to be fair, it’s country rock mixed with a healthy dose of hard rock, and I do really love me some good hard rock and it’s clear throughout that the hard rock aspects overshadow the country rock parts. This is nothing like The Byrds’ Sweetheart of the Rodeo, it’s very much Neil Young doing his own thing with his own style under the genre. Based on what I’ve read, this is where Neil Young sort of let loose and just went nuts forming his own sound, incorporating a lot of improvisational bits into his tunes and setting up a blueprint for his future work. Along with the band Crazy Horse who support him here, they sound like they’re having a great time, especially on the long songs that clock in at 9 minutes. Within them they have segments where the guitar just gets to riff at it’s hearts content and it wails and screeches in the best possible way, having a blast as note after note is played. Thanks to this, these 9 minute long songs don’t feel like they’re 9 minutes at all. The zoom by, which is funny because two of the songs that are just 5 minutes feel like an eternity.

I could have done without Round and Round, which just like it’s name suggest, feels like it’s on a loop. It becomes repetitive fast and I found myself bored with it quickly. Especially it’s placement in the album, it just feels like it kills the momentum Neil had set up with the first two songs. However, that being said the second one, Running Dry, has a quality to it that makes it hauntingly beautiful. An aspect that permeates throughout the entire album. Neil Young manages to be morose without ever becoming cheesy and it makes the vocals rather haunting in a way, especially when mixed with the loud, hard rocking guitar riffs. The whole thing may not be perfect but I’ll be damned if Neil Young isn’t doing a phenomenal job on this album. Cinnamon Girl, Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere, Down by the River and Cowgirl in the Sand are definite highlights that it makes the low points tolerable enough to sit through.

I’m glad to say I enjoyed it because I did think I might come out of it feeling very meh, which I thought would have been a real shame. But I didn’t, which goes to show it’s best to enter experiences having no expectations. Unfortunately, being human I know that won’t be the case with some future albums, but doesn’t mean it won’t happen and I look forward to those moments because they’re moments I cherish dearly.

Song of Choice: Everybody Knows This is Nowhere

-Bosco

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1001 Albums: We’re Only In It For The Money

#135

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Artist: Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention

Album: We’re Only in it for the Money

Year: 1968

Length: 39:15

Genre: Experimental Rock/ Psych Rock / Music Concrete / Doo-Wop

“What’s the ugliest Part of your body?
What’s the ugliest Part of your body?
Some say your nose Some say your toes
I think it’s your mind (Your mind)
I think it’s your mind, woo woo”

Thank you Zappa, thank you from saving me from The Beatles. How fitting that you would follow right after them on this list, especially with this album. After getting one phony album it’s great to finally hear someone who isn’t afraid to speak their mind, say it as it is and speak freely without concern of what people will think. No fear of judgement, no fear of criticism, just pure verbal genuine words coming from you. If there’s one thing you have to commend Zappa for, it’s his pure, unfiltered, uncensored, take-no-prisoners honesty. As a person who has dealt with so much bullshit in his young life, I find some major solace in the work of Frank Zappa because it’s refreshing to hear someone finally speak their mind without beating around the bush or catering their words to suit who they’re speaking too. Frank Zappa didn’t give a shit what you thought and that’s really admirable in my eyes.

It’s rather fitting that this album followed a Beatles album because this is the album that Zappa made to stick it to them. Heavily annoyed by them, he constantly critiqued them as being phonies and only being in it for the money and it’s with this album he finally let all his grievances out. This was his response to Sgt. Pepper, in fact the original cover of the album was a direct parody of the Sgt. Pepper album, with the bandmates in place of The Beatles and controversial historical figures standing around them. Instead of bright skies, it was dark and cracking thunder. Even the way the album title was spelled out was with a variety of spoiled fruits rather than flowers.

 

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Now whether you agree with Zappa’s feelings towards The Beatles or not (Lots don’t, I do), it doesn’t take away from the fact that this is still one hell of a well-crafted and sardonic album (I do love a  healthy dose of Sardonicism). Although, blatantly calling out The Beatles may have been a starting point for the albums creation, it evolved into a sharp critique of the counter-culture, the hippie lifestyle that The Beatles influenced and encouraged that Zappa despised. Songs like Who Needs The Peace Corps and Flower Punk are straight forward with what they’re saying, directly calling out hippies with no hidden meaning. He expresses his disdain through lyrics that sarcastically speak of the hippie lifestyle (Like going to San Francisco to join a group, smoking pot, walking around barefoot) and the latter song does a reworking of the classic hippie tune Hey Joe, but changing the lyrics to describe the so-called flower punks.

It’s funny to see how perceptive Zappa was about society in general. Remember all this was written in the 60s and he has a song (Take Your Clothes Off When You Dance) that has the lyrics: “There will come a time when you won’t even be ashamed if you are fat”. Flash Forward to today and fat-shaming is a very real thing, with constant campaigns of promoting love for the bigger body and encouraging the notion that big is beautiful. (Before anyone says anything, I am not taking a side here, I am merely stating what is happening. There’s no denying it has become a huge topic for debate, especially on the internet with people being incredibly vocal from both sides. Whatever side your on it’s still worth noting Zappa predicted it would happen). This idea of free love and peace for all didn’t sit well with Zappa, thinking the idea to be naive and finding hippies to have fascistic tendencies. He was often associated with the movement but wanted to make it clear how against it he was (He was vocally against drug use and was clearly a heavy-duty cynic).

Don’t you worry though, his criticisms and satire weren’t just putting a light to the left but to the right as well. In this album he made fun of the establishment just as much, with songs like “Concentration Moon” that evokes imagery of hippies thrown into concentration camps for their activism and getting gunned down by police officers during a protest (another eerie prediction on Zappa’s part as only a few years later the famous Kent State shootings would occur, where student hippies doing a peaceful protest would be fired upon resulting in a handful of deaths (students who weren’t even participating in the protest on top of that)). He even goes so far as to critique parents and their lack of involvement and parenting in their kids lives, which he seems to imply is in part the creation of the hippie lifestyle. Songs like Mom and dad, Bowtie Daddy and the incredibly funny Let’s Make The Water Turn Black (based on actual moronic kids Zappa sued to know in his youth) speak warnings of what could happen when parents don’t get involved enough in their kids lives and the consequences of that.

I could probably go on and on about this album because there’s so much to dissect here. A quick google search of it will bring up tons of articles and essays that break down the ideas at play here and the satire Zappa is using in his work. But I won’t because I honestly don’t think I’m educated enough to be able to properly express what’s truly happening here and I’ll let the experts do it. But I can say this, it’s an incredibly focused album thematically and Zappa clearly put a lot of time and effort crafting it to perfection. Every single not and studio technique used masterfully and brought together to tell a story. It’s one of the tightest concept albums out there and is well worth anyone’s time.

Of course, like any Zappa album, many people could find this alienating as a whole. Sprinkled throughout the album is Zappa’s usual music concrete style tunes that can be difficult to sit through especially if you’re just a casual music listener. The studio techniques could throw people off as well, pitches changed to make voices sound higher, cartoony effects, and psychedelic style effects that can make your brain hurt. Zappa isn’t for everyone and it’s clear he’s a love or hate it kind of artist. I personally love this album to death and have listened to it 5 times in two weeks. It gets better everytime I do and has quickly snagged a spot as one of my favourite albums of all time.

Zappa at one point asks the question “What is the ugliest part of your body?”, a question asked twice throughout the album, having it’s own reprise. It captures Zappa’s attitude perfectly I find. At first you actually try to think of what part of your body could be considered the ugliest and in the song they even list of typical “ugly” body parts: Your toes, your nose, but Zappa turns it around saying “I think it’s your mind”. It’s easy to forget that part of each person. I’m sure it’s happened to many people that their attraction to someone can change drastically based on the personality of the person they’ve met. In this case, Zappa speaks against people who aren’t free thinkers, who react on emotion instead of logic, who blindly follow a certain set of beliefs without question, who are narrow-minded and can’t see beyond their own realities, either based on personal values or their upbringing (once again bringing the parents and establishment into it). At the end of the day no matter who you are, it’s kind of true that our minds are the ugliest part of our bodies and no amount of masks or make-up will ever cover that up.

Song of Choice: Let’s Make The Water Turn Black

-Bosco

 

 

 

 

 

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1001 Albums: The White Album

#134

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Artist: The Beatles

Album: The White Album

Year: 1968

Length: 93:35

Genre: Pop Rock

“Obladi oblada life goes on brahhh
Lala how the life goes on
Obladi Oblada life goes on brahhh
Lala how the life goes on”

Oh No, Here we go again.

Welcome back Beatles, it’s been awhile. Boy, did I miss you since our experience with Sgt. Pepper and His Lonely Hearts Club Band thing album you did. I have to say I could not, COULD NOT wait to hear more of you. Man am I such a big Beatles fan. If I could listen to The Beatles all day, everyday, I would. They are just so amazingly good. They changed music, they changed the world, they were the key to a Utopian society, bringing peace to the world and clean air to the skies. The Beatles aren’t just men but gods brought down from the heavens to bring us the most amazing of music. The fact that music even continued to be created after The Beatles is beyond my comprehension and understanding, it should have ended right there and then as The Beatles are the epitome of music.

There’s nothing more I can really say about The Beatles without repeating myself. There’s nothing really more that can be said about them in general and about this album without me reiterating what everyone has already said. There’s just nothing new to be said about this band at all. It’s been done to death and at this point it’s like beating a dead horse. What can i really say about this album? It’s a typical Beatles album, relatively inconsistent as a whole and is half great tunes and half really dumb ones. It makes sense, this was the album where Lennon brought Yoko Ono on to help out and tensions between the band were incredibly high. The best member of the band even threatened to leave and did for a short amount of time (Ringo in case you’re wondering). You basically can hear the band in the process of breaking up in this album as each individual members ideas fight against each other for a spot on this album. What we get is a muddled up sounding album that isn’t sure what it wants to be, which is both fascinating and annoying to listen to.

I don’t really have the patience to rant about the album as a whole, so I’m going to do a track by track review instead (apparently I have the patience for that).

Here we go:

  1. Back in the U.S.S.R.

How cute, The Beatles are trying to be revolutionaries. I would take it seriously if it weren’t for the fact that half their career is teeny-bopper pop tunes. It’s fully known these guys were full of crap with their attitudes and as Frank Zappa critiqued them as “Only in it for the Money”. It’s a shallow attempt to make it look like they’re more political than they really are. It’s all fake. These guys are fake. Also, sounds like a Beach Boys Rip, sorry Brian Wilson did this sound better.

2. Dear Prudence

Dear Prudence,

I’m bored, go out to play already so they can stop singing about you. I implore you, please just go.

3. Glass Onion

Oh nice, a weird metaphor for what? Absolutely nothing. What is a glass onion exactly? Is it something to see through that makes you cry? Is that the metaphor? Taking things a little too literally here. (Yeah, yeah I know this is one of their tunes they purposefully made to have people look deeper into even though it means absolutely nothing, shut up).

4. Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da

This is one of the stupidest songs I’ve ever heard. Heck, it’s even considered one of the worst songs of all time. It’s fucking ridiculous and I absolutely love it. Beatles at their best. When I think Beatles this is the song I think of to perfectly represent them.

5. Wild Honey Pie

I could really go for some pie right now… Yum.

6. The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill

Oh Jesus, do these dumb songs ever end. HEEYYYY BUNGALOW BILL, WHY DID YOU KILL? I don’t know, I can probably name a few reasons. Silliness overload on an album we’re supposed to take seriously? Sure.

7. While My Guitar Gently Weeps

Oh George, You’ve saved my life. Thank god a great tune finally. Just when I thought it was going to be one silly song after another you come in and show me that there is a god after all. Thank you George, you beautiful man.

8. Happiness is a Warm Gun

Happiness is a warm turd.

9. Martha my Dear

MARTHA? WHY’D YOU SAY THAT NAME? YOUR MOTHER’S NAME IS MARTHA? This must be Batman’s favourite song.

10. I’m So Tired

You and me both.

11. Blackbird

AH yes Blackbird, what a pretty song. I especially love Ringo’s drum work on this one. He’s really giving it everything he’s got. This is the famous song where he exclaims “I’ve got blisters on me fingers!!” at the end. I am not surprised, Ringo.

12. Piggies

Oink!

13. Rocky Raccoon

Why? Who was thinking this would be a good idea? A children’s story time int he middle of The White Album? I guess Yellow Submarine was a good indication of things to come, sadly this just doesn’t have the staying power or catchiness of the submarine that is yellow. This song is dumb.

14. Don’t Pass Me By

Don’t tell me what to do.

15. Why Don’t We Do it in the Road

Oh I will, believe me I will.

16. I Will

Oh…

17. Julia

Forgettable tune placed wisely in the most forgettable part of any album, the middle. Smart choice, guys.

18. Birthday

Aw, you guys remembered??? Thank you so much! In all honesty, this is a fun tune overall and I always enjoy seeing bands create their own Birthday songs. It’s a good birthday tune that I wouldn’t be angry if it was played on my birthday. They sound like they’re having a fun time here and that’s what birthdays are all about! Good Job!

19. Yer Blues

Oof… eesh… uuuh… Beatles… what happened? You went from Birthday to wanting to die. Was your birthday that shitty? Jesus. Also, Rolling Stones did this sound better.

20. Mother Nature’s Son

Didn’t even know she had a son. Good for her. I mean, she is mother nature, the word mother does imply she has kids, but I always thought that was a general thing about nature as a whole. Like Father Time or Father Christmas or Mother Mary (maybe not that last one). Nice clip-clopping sounds but falls flat as a whole. Snooze.

21. Everybody’s Got Something To Hide Except Me and My Monkey

Stupid title, but is a fun tune. More along the lines of what I expect from them especially as a throwback to their old stuff. No complaints here.

22. Sexy Sadie

Woah-ho-ho. Getting a little risque here Beatles. Hot Damn.

23. Helter Skelter

FUCK YES! Now this tune rocks! Easily their best off the album. SO good even Charles Manson loved it so much he used it to brainwash his followers into committing murders! A great tune for a Manson family get together BBQ.

24. Long, Long, Long

Well, at least this album is self aware.

25. Revolution 1

Back to what I said in the first song. These guys aren’t the voice of revolutionaries, they became phoney headed hippies who thought they were in touch with everything. They’re fake, this song is phoney, as usual can’t take them seriously when they try to talk about politics. Stick to hand-holding and love me until the sun dies type songs.

26. Honey Pie

I still didn’t get pie…

27. Savoy Truffle

Sounds like The Beatles. Must be…. The Beatles. Decent Beatles-esque tune. Sure, why not. All good.

28. Cry Baby Cry

I already am.

29. Revolution 9

I’m sorry, what? What is this monstrosity of a song doing here? You think you can just throw in some heavily experimental art piece at the end of your album? No, this has not been earned. Blame Yoko Ono for sure, it’s her fault but you guys should have put your foot down with this one. If the entire album was pieced together with experiential tunes then this would fit, but the fact that it comes completely out of nowhere right at the end, NO, UNNACEPTABLE! Don’t just throw it in to be like “Hey look at us we can do weird music to!” It comes across as pandering and shallow and ends up looking like art for the sake of art rather than having purpose and meaning to it’s existence. NO!

30. Good Night

Well, thank you. At least you tuck me in and kiss my forehead at the end of it all wishing me pleasant dreams. How thoughtful of you.

 

There, I’m finally done this overly long album that did not need to be 90 fucking minutes long. I’ll leave you with this excellent Simpsons Parody of the recording sessions of The White Album:

 

Song of Choice: Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da

-Bosco

 

 

 

p.s I feel like I shouldn’t have to say this but feel like I need to. This review is purely Hyperbolic, sardonic and all around ridiculous on purpose. It was a mere exaggeration of my exhaustion with Beatles fandom and does not reflect my actual feelings towards it. I’m sure many people get that but there’s still a handful who will take this as serious. So there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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1001 Albums: Sweetheart of the Rodeo

#133

Album_133_Original

Artist: The Byrds

Album: Sweetheart of the Rodeo

Year: 1968

Length: 32:35

Genre: Country Rock

“One hundred years from this time would anybody change their minds
And find out one thing or two about life
But people are always talking
You know they’re always talking
Everybody’s so wrong that I know it’s gonna work out right
Nobody knows what kind of trouble we’re in
Nobody seems to think it all might happen again”

Jesus Christ…

Here we go again. My ears were once again dealing with music I just can’t stand. What happened to The Byrds? They were doing so great and had to just devolve into this cheesy style country music. What was wrong with their psychedelic sound? What was wrong with their folk rock roots? I mean, based on their last album I heard I shoud have expected this to come. But I was ready, I knew it would be country rock and surely The Byrds doing Country would make it bearable for me or at the very least somewhat interesting.

BUT NO!

It’s just the same schlock I’ve heard in the past and doesn’t feel like anything new, heck most of the songs (if not all, I don’t know and honestly don’t care enough to check) are covers of country songs. WHAT ARE YOU DOING BYRDS?!?! You are better than this, much, much better. I expected more, I expected you to wow me and hopefully get me to actually enjoy this type of country music. But you didn’t, all you did was solidify how much I can’t stand this style of country music.

I do want to clarify before we continue. My distaste for country music is a complex one to explain. It’s easy for all of us to jump on the country music hating bandwagon. It’s incredibly typical to hate country music, I know. Most people do and you hear it all the time that it’s the worst genre (which isn’t true, that distinction clearly goes to Dubstep). What I’m saying is that it’s a bit of a cliche to say you hate country music. Sorry, a bit is an understatement, it’s one of the biggest cliches related to musical tastes. And I will admit, at one point I sort of just jumped onto the country hating bandwagon and disliked it just because… it was what people loved to dislike. It was an easy genre to hate and make fun of, so I was ignorant when it came to it.

However, in the past two years I’ve expanded my listening and have listened to more country music than I ever have and realised that I actually do have a really high distaste for it. Now it doesn’t encompass the entire country genre, I like Johnny Cash and enjoy Outlaw Country music and Spaghetti Western style tunes (Ennio Morricone soundtracks and the influences used in the songs of Wall of Voodoo). BUT! This style, this old-school, cheesy, country songs, I just can’t listen to. It’s not that I can’t appreciate what’s being done (I try but it’s incredibly difficult) it’s that my earbuds just don’t enjoy the flavour of this type of music. Think of it this way. Everyone has taste buds on their tongues and those taste buds are unique to each and everyone of us. This means that certain foods just don’t taste good to our tongue. For me, it’s mangoes. I want to enjoy mangoes but for whatever reason it just doesn’t taste good to me, my taste buds just don’t like mangoes. It’s the same with this type of country music. Aurally, it just doesn’t agree with my sound buds. Don’t know why, but unfortunately it makes listening to it an unpleasant experience.

Some might say, give this a second chance. No. I refuse to listen to it a second time. I couldn’t stand it the first time around and highly doubt I will the second. I am not wasting my time trying to enjoy something I never will. This is not what I wanted to hear from The Byrds (but then again who really gives a fuck what I wanted to hear, my feelings aren’t more important than anyone else’s). But I genuinely was hoping to hear some Country Rock music that I would have enjoyed. I went in expecting that and was heavily disappointed. I apparently wasn’t the only one either because upon release this was their worst selling album ever. The fans spoke and weren’t happy with the change either, so I know my first impression isn’t that left field.

However, all that being said, credit is due where credit is deserved… (I said that right, right?). This album has one hell of a legacy within the country genre. It was one of the first to be considered “Country Rock” and was used as a stepping stone for the future of country rock as a genre. It also brought one famous Gram Parsons to the mainstream audience. He was a part of this album showing off his talents in the country music and it’s thanks to this album that he was able to have a successful career (Supposedly I guess, maybe he could have without it but it definitely helped him get noticed and propel him forward). Although it didn’t make a big splash in general, it was heavily important for Country music as a whole and I will recognise that.

I mean, as much as Country music is hated, those that love it, love it with all their hearts and have an undying passion for it. There’s really something to admire from Country fans. Their love outweighs our hate and if we could love anything half as much as Country music fans love Country music… well, then there’d definitely be a lot of love out there.

Yee-haw Motherfuckers.

Song of Choice: Life in Prison

-Bosco

 

 

 

 

 

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1001 Albums: Astral Weeks

#132

Album_132_Original

Artist: Van Morrison

Album: Astral Weeks

Year: 1968

Length: 47:10

Genre: Folk Rock / Blue-Eyed Soul

“If I ventured in the slipstream
Between the viaducts of your dream
Where immobile steel rims crack
And the ditch in the back roads stop
Could you find me?
Would you kiss-a my eyes?
To lay me down
In silence easy
To be born again”

Without further delay, I come back from another break from these posts. A common occurrence, it seems, but that’s what you get when you have very erratic schedules that change from week to week. Might seem confusing but it definitely keeps you on your toes. A lot has happened in the past few weeks and I’m thankful to say all good, finally for once. However, all this is irrelevant to my current task at hand. I’d like to say I’m going to continue pumping these out more regularly but we all know that’s just a big, fat lie.

I always find myself getting incredibly introspective when I listen to music like this. I don’t know why but it seems this style of music just has that effect on me, from Bob Dylan’ Free Wheelin’ and Leonard Cohen, it always manages to evoke deeper feelings in me that have me looking inward. It happened a few weeks ago, I was in a really down mood, a lot happened at once and it brought me down pretty badly. This album came on and I just found myself lost in it’s aura, consuming me and having me traverse deep into my mind and thoughts. Not intentional, but it somehow had that power over me. It’s weird how music can do that to you sometimes. Thankfully for everyone reading, I waited to write this post when I was in a good mood because now I won’t go on a long paragraph about all that introspection. Saves you from the misery of it all.

If you go into this album expecting Brown-Eyed Girl, you will be incredibly disappointed to find it is nothing like that. Van Morrison made a conscious effort to move away from pop rock sounding tunes and move into a more folk rock and jazz influenced style of music. I could be wrong, maybe you wouldn’t be disappointed. If you went into this thinking of Brown-Eyed Girl with a sour taste in your mouth than you probably would have been pleasantly surprised to find it was nothing like it. I don’t know, I don’t know you. Personally, I didn’t but that’s because I already knew what to expect going into it, but I digress.

Morrison throws away any sense of verses and choruses and instead goes for a stream of consciousness style of lyricism. Sure, sometimes there’s repetition, but never in the same way as you’d think. With each song he seems to start in one way and then let his mind take him on a journey, not knowing where it will lead him or where it will go. He takes a page out of Dylan’s writing and makes it his own, telling story after story with no clear plot or narrative but a central theme to his long, winding prose. He keeps on ideas of earthliness and heaven and just goes with them, creating songs that are both poetically beautiful but also vivid in imagery. It’s easily substance over style with Van Morrison here and it pays off.

I feel this is an album for musicians. The average listener might enjoy this but I can easily see a lot of people turning it off, calling it “boring and long”. This is an album for people who can truly appreciate music and for those who create it. As a whole it wasn’t very successful but held a lot of respect within the community, being seen as an influence or a favourite of many musicians and artists (such as Bono and Bruce Springsteen, and even film maker Martin Scorsese who claims the first 15 minutes of Taxi Driver are basically Astral Weeks). It wasn’t a big deal when it first came out but over time grew as a cult album that left a stronger impact than anyone could realise. Van Morrison even dismisses this. It was a greatly personal album for him and he allowed himself to trust himself and just go with what felt right in the moment.

However, that being said, the songs can feel a little long and musically repetitive. I have a hard time distinguishing them from each other as a whole and because of it’s stream of consciousness style, I can easily get lost within their stories and find myself unsure of where I am (within the album that is). After what feels like a long time, I could check my phone and either find I’m still on the same tune or it has changed and I didn’t even notice. This could be both a good and bad thing. Good because it means the music flows very well and can have you lose yourself to it like a classic jazz album. Bad because if the tunes become indistinguishable that can also mean they might not be memorable on their own. Thankfully, the latter isn’t true, because I am able to pick out pieces of each tune and I feel the former is more what’s happening, but it’s easy to believe the latter as well.

Whether you loved it and appreciated what Morrison was doing here or are the type that found it “long and boring” there’s no doubt it truly is a work of art that manages to touch deeper than even it thought it could. Music is sometimes about the journey you go through and this album manages to do that form start to finish, taking you on a trip as your own spiritual guide looking inwards to yourself. Now, that could have been just me (it isn’t because other artists have stated the same effect happening to them) and even if it was that means this album did something right for me. I always have a difficult time delving deep into albums like this because it’s outside my realm of comprehension when it comes music theory and composition and the likes, but emotion is something I do understand and this definitely left an emotional impact in a positive way and to me that’s just as important. I’m glad to see Morrison take a different approach to his music as it definitely paid off for him in the long run.

Song of Choice: The Way Young Lovers Do

-Bosco

 

 

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1001 Albums: Odessey and Oracle

#131

Album_131_Original

Artist: The Zombies

Album: Odessey and Oracle

Year: 1968

Length: 35:18

Genre: Psychedelic Pop / Baroque Pop / Chamber Pop

“Tell it to me slowly (tell you what?)
I really want to know
It’s the time of the season for loving”

This album is the sound of a group giving it their all for one last hurrah before disbanding and moving on to do bigger and better things. I would assume, what those things are I don’t know as my research didn’t go that deep, but I’m hoping they’re doing just fine. (One of them is dead, oops).

Ok, so it’s kind of weird to say they did that when this was only their second album. (They seemed disheartened that their live shows weren’t doing as well as time went on and they were losing traction. I don’t know maybe that has something to do with the fact you didn’t release another album util three years after. Kind of gets boring seeing the same shit for three years.) And, it’s not like they didn’t release any other albums either. Sure, it was about 25 years later, but the band didn’t just disappear forever into the annals of history. Actually, they seemed to do the complete opposite, they seemed to have left an ever-lasting mark specifically as a group that made an album that garnered a major cult following that refused to let this album not be known. No joke, go onto any retrospective/review site and it’s just filled with people hailing this album as some sort of 60s psychedelic/baroque pop masterpiece. Usually any piece of media that’s gathered such a strong niche following will have that attitude from its fans, so it’s not at all surprising to be honest. But is it really a masterpiece?

I’m not the person to say. This is the sound of a group putting in everything they’ve got to create the best work they possibly could. Did they succeed? According to many yes. But when it was first released it basically fell into obscurity really quickly and barely made an impact on sales or reception, garnering very mediocre reviews. The most famous song off the album, which is also one of the most famous songs of the 60s, didn’t even hit the top of the charts until two years after it’s release and long after the band had already disbanded. It happens a lot though that something isn’t well-received when it was first released and only gets recognition years later when someone picks it up and is like “Holy shit, this is pretty damn amazing, what gives, why aren’t more people talking about it?”. And that’s the very basic (and probably butchered) story of Odessey and Oracle in a nutshell.

You saw that correctly by the way. That is not a typo on my part. I know how to spell the word Odyssey. The band apparently did not. They say it was intentional the bad spelling… I think they’re making that up and trying to cover their mistake. Just own up to it dudes, nobody will hate you for it. I think the spelling mistake does add to the album as whole, especially knowing the status this album picked up. It adds to its charm and personality and in some weird, mixed up way, fits with the whole tone of the album. Can’t explain why, but the spelling mistake goes by unnoticed because it just sits so snugly within the aesthetics as whole. Or maybe most of us just don’t really see the word Odyssey spelled out enough in real life that the typo gets past us out of pure ignorance. Either answer is acceptable to me.

Ok, I’m blabbering on about nothing now because I’m struggling to actually talk about this album. I’m currently re-listening to it as I write this out, hoping I’d get inspired to write something more detailed and intricate about it. Unfortunately, I’ve got nothing more than it’s a pretty solid psychedelic album. Compared to most, it has a prettier and more graceful sound that evokes feelings of autumn and breezes. It’s a chilled out version of the acid trips we’ve become accustomed too. A relaxed vibe rather than a psychotic hallucination. What really stands out to me though is the passion and heart that went into making this album. Sometimes you can really feel the energy and work that an artist or group has put into their work permeate through it and this is a great example of that. Even if this isn’t your type of album (it’s not really mine) you still feel that strong sense that the band has a deep love for every note they’re playing and that feeling comes through. You can’t help but admire just how much soul they really put into it all and I think at the end of the day that’s really why after all these years it managed to get such a big cult following. Fans recognized that vibe and clung to it, feeling what The Zombies felt as they created what would become their most seminal piece of work. Even if this music ended up being crap, the same effect would occur because you can sense how much they were putting into creating one final grand… finale to their career.

Luckily for them the music they did create was not only great but very lovely. Almost like psychedelic music for my dad and his romantic sensibilities. I think my dad would love this album if he put down The Beatles greatest hits for one second. Either way, it’s an easy-listening psych album that people have given the status of masterpiece. I don’t see the masterpiece part, I, personally, didn’t engage with it nearly as much as the fans did, but I do see a piece of art that was given a lot of love in it’s creation and I will recognize that for what it is.

Song of Choice: Time of the Season

-Bosco

 

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1001 Albums: Scott 2

#130

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Artist: Scott Walker

Album: Scott 2

Year: 1968

Length: 43:47

Genre: Baroque Pop

“I swear on the wet head
Of my first case of gonorrhea
It is his ugly voice
That I forever hear
Next, next”

If you had to do a double-take with those lyrics you there than believe me that’s not even close to what your reactions to this album would be. If anything that’s one of the least head turning lines he has as this album is filled with controversial and at times disturbing yet titillating imagery. Scott Walker doesn’t shy away from saying crude truths and sharing lude and uncomfortable ideas with the listeners. If R-Ratings aren’t your cup of tea, you might want to shy away form this album. To be fair though, in our current environment where everyone has become desensitised to sexual, homo-erotic and disturbing imagery it probably sounds incredibly tame in comparison. But for 1968, this was scandalous lyrical content. How could he even dare to say things like this? Mentioning women of the night, various sexual diseases, homosexuality, references to virgins and sluts and all sorts. This is what’s considered controversial for the 60s, and I ain’t exaggerating, his single Jackie was even banned from radio play due to it’s content.

I find all this absolutely hilarious because if you’re not paying attention to the lyrics it doesn’t sound like it would be of that nature whatsoever. Over-the-top orchestral arrangements support Scott’s baritone crooner voice throughout this album. There’s something very Sinatresque about the whole thing which had me thinking back to my listening days when I was in the 50s. Stylistically it sounded like a great throwback and a refreshing sound amidst all the hard rock, psychedelic rock and overall abrasiveness of the 60s. Although Sinatra most probably wouldn’t sing these tunes and if he did, he’d rewrite it to make it sound more poetic and lovely rather than harsh and filthy.  This is what makes the whole album hilarious, the contrast between Scott’s crooning and orchestral arrangements with these salacious lyrics is part of it’s charm. If you’re a lover of dry humour than this is an album to check out. Scott sings every line with as much dead-pan and seriousness that he can muster that it’s practically comedic genius. Whether that was his intention or not is irrelevant because boy does it work so well.

Part of the humour and storytelling style wasn’t his idea though. Scott had a big influence helping him out and inspiring his work on this album (and probably his others too, I don’t know, I’m not a doctor). It’s none other than the Belgium storytelling songwriting sensation Jacues Brel. For those who don’t know, heck I barely know, Jacques Brel was a big deal in Belgium and France and left his mark on many american and UK artists. His twisted humour spliced in with his fantastic lyricism and storytelling abilities through music made him a master of his genre and Scott Walker was one of those who fell for him. Here we have not one but three songs translated to English from Jacues Brel’s Repertoire. Originally difficult to bring to English speaking audiences, Scott Walker managed to bring those works to them in a way that would stick and make sense. The humour is obviously lost for English audiences with the original language but Scott brought it and brought it good. Combining the wit of Jacques Brel and crooning of Sinatra makes for one hell of an eccentric album that may not sit well with some but for those who get it, will definitely love it (it was his most successful album for a reason… I guess, I don’t know, I’m no engineer).

That’s it.

Song of Choice: Jackie

-Bosco

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1001 Albums: Caetano Veloso

#129

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Artist: Caetano Veloso

Album: Caetano Veloso

Year: 1968

Length: 34:54

Genre: Tropicalia

“Por entre fotos e nomes
Sem livros e sem fuzil
Sem fome, sem telefone
No coração do Brasil
Ela nem sabe até pensei
Em cantar na televisão
O sol é tão bonito
Eu Vou”

I am loving the love for Brazilian music on this list. Only still in the 60s and I’ve experienced about 6 different Brazilian albums. Out of every culture represented on this list that is outside of our regularly exposed media (North America and UK), I think Brazil is currently the most represented. Never realised that their music was that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things, but that’s the point of discovery, right? I’m sure my Brazilian friends (I have two of them directly imported from Brazil) can attest for the importance of this music since it had much more of an impact within their country than the rest of the world, heck my friend Victor is a big Caetano Veloso fan, having said his voice was beautiful on many occasions. It’s kind of what got me excited to finally get to listen to him. They exposed me to the likes of bands like Os Mutantes as well before I got a chance to see them on this list, which proves diversity is key to exposing yourself to new things. Much love to my Brazilian brothers, sadly one of them has left back to Brazil for an undetermined amount of time and the other is at risk of leaving too. It’s sad to lose good friends that way, but staying on the bright side these goodbyes aren’t necessarily forever… we hope at least.

A key thing I noticed is that it’s really difficult to dissect an album that isn’t representative of where you’re from. It’s hard for me to understand what’s going on here and why it matters, not just because I can’t understand Portuguese, but because I’m personally not Brazilian or have ever lived in Brazil I lose all the context that comes with it. As if the language barrier wasn’t enough there’s also the cultural barrier. This album is very specific to what was happening in Brazil in the late 60s and as a Canadian born there’s simply no way I could ever understand on an emotional level what this album was trying to do. This makes it difficult to engage with the material, not because it’s bad but because I just don’t have that experience to truly understand it. So, to fully grasp Caetano Veloso’s work, I needed a bit of help.

I called on my friend Victor, big Caetano Veloso fan, to help me out. Firstly, to let me know what was being said in each song but also to give me some insight on the impact Caetano had on Brazil. Needless to say he was incredibly unhelpful. He began with saying that every song was about having sex and proceeded to tell me to just find the translations myself. When asked about his thoughts, he responded with the incredibly insightful “I think Caetano Veloso… is amazing”. That’s. It. So much for that. This required a little more research than usual. It was time for me to delve into the history books (or website articles I could find). This process proved to be way more helpful.

This was apparently the revolution album of their time. An album that was a calling out the country for what it had become. You see, around this time, the government had changed and had become militaristic. Some even say it’s absolutely shocking how this album even managed to get past them and released to the public for consumption. That was part of Caetano’s cleverness, he commented about the government in a way that didn’t sound like he was. It wasn’t a full-on protest, but an observational cinematic view of what was going on. A struggle between the new Brazil and the longing for the old one. Brazil wasn’t just going through a militaristic government but was also modernizing and getting Americanised, with american pop culture invading their papers, consumerist products like Coca-Cola finding their way in their homes (referenced in his song Alegria, Alegria). It seemingly celebrated what was happening while putting it down at the same time. He became the voice of a nation not only wanting change but to have their own voice as Brazilians especially when it came to media such as music. That’s what he aimed to do, create something that was very much Brazilian, and although it infused rock n roll influences, he managed to create a sound that would uniquely represent his country. SO influential in fact that it created a new musical movement called Tropicalisimo (named after the first son on the album, Tropicalia, an ode to the untouched, exotic land Brazil was before being colonized and modernised). His calls for this yearning of his culture are especially represented in his song Soy Loco Por Ti, America, where it almost sounds like another love letter to America but is, in fact, about South America.

Caetano Veloso is apparently unhappy with this album and has called it “amateurish and confused”. Even if that may be possibly true, the Brazilian audience said otherwise and it resonated with them unlike any other piece of media. He became a revolutianry figure without wanting to and paid the unwanted price for it. One of his most famous performances at a music festival caused a huge outcry. Leftist students were heavily against the Tropicalists and their sexy dance moves and extravagant costumes and would often protest their shows (which shows the left has been protesting since forever, this is nothing new). They started booing and pelting vegetables and eggs at him. it didn’t help that he was also being backed by Os Mutantes who were known for their punk attitudes and fucking with their audiences. Caetano Veloso even stopped to monologue towards the students calling them out on their conservatism and deliberately completed a song out of tune. His antics would eventually get him and his musical partner, Gilberto Gil, arrested for being deemed a threat to the country and put into solitary confinement for months with no reason or crime accredited to them. They were then exiled from Brazil and lived in the UK, creating music until they returned.

I had no idea going into this that it would become a fascinating history lesson. This man created such a big impact in his home country and the music scene that his inclusion on this list now makes perfect sense. Like I said above, that’s the beauty of listening to these albums, the discovery of new things, not just music but also history. I probably would have never known about all this if I hadn’t made the decision to go on with this challenge. Sure, not every album comes with a defined history and back story and influence. Actually, some come with none. But when one does it adds so much to my listening experience. Just some extra knowledge and fun facts I can pull out of my back-pocket at social gatherings. I get a lot of joy from it and it makes it exciting wondering what else I’ll discover and learn moving forward with each new album.

Song of Choice: Tropicalia

-Bosco

 

 

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1001 Albums: Truth

#128

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Artist: Jeff Beck

Album: Truth

Year: 1968

Length: 40:16

Genre: Blues Rock / Hard Rock

“Soon I hope that I will find,
Thoughts deep within my mind.
That won’t displace my kind.”

What is Truth Jeff Beck? What is THE Truth? Does Truth even exist? I don’t know how it was in the late 60s but now in the good year of 2018, truth seems to be a non-existent thing. We live in a world where dishonesty, manipulation and keeping secrets seems to be what’s encouraged, tolerated and enabled. People are in a constant state of justifying their lies and dishonesty, coming up with non-stop excuses as to why they did that, why they were like that. No one takes responsibility for their actions any more and it’s baffling to see why people would go through the struggle of doing this when it’s so much easier to just tell the truth, mainly because then you don’t have to worry about what you’re saying any more, if your story is still working and if you tell the truth, you never have to worry about remembering things any more. But people don’t. It’s baffling how people say they want true honesty but turn around and act like completely dishonest people. “But I’m scared to hurt you, The truth might destroy you”. Continuous bullshit you hear from these people who find justified reasons as to why they lied to you because they can’t admit to themselves that it was shitty to be dishonest. Honesty is honestly the lost virtue, and the handful of people who still practice it are for some reason called the assholes. But they only are because the bullshitters don’t like when they get called on their bullshit so they find it easy to just call the honest person an asshole, which is irony at it’s best because in reality, they’re the actual asshole. But as we all know society is ass-backwards on a lot of things, and honesty is one of them.

I digress, why did I go on a tangent about this? This literally has nothing to do with Jeff Beck’s first debut solo album that is considered a seminal piece of hard rock and heavy metal. Can you believe he infused blues rock with Hard Rock sounds?? Un – Be – Lie – Va – Ble. Jeff Beck shows off his guitar skills on this 40 minute cover album, where he cranks out solo after solo, riff after riff on a plethora of songs that he apparently has zero writing credits on (Not even the one with his name on it “Beck’s Bolero”, which has the writing credit going to Jimmy Page). Heck, we’re even introduced to the vocal stylings of none other than Rod Stewart himself, the man who asked the world that if you think he’s sexy and you like his body then come on sugar tell him so. TELL HIM! What an album this is, truly remarkable. The one sentiment I get from it is:

Meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeehhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

An album that’s considered such a seminal piece of work just didn’t really do it for me (which I guess isn’t that surprising based on my history with these types of albums). I just didn’t feel engaged with the music, it didn’t resonate in anyway with me and didn’t leave a lasting effect or mark. Jeff Beck’s guitar work, as usual, is really good and I will say I loved it, but not enough to walk away from it all going “Damn what fine piece of album”. For a debut solo I was expecting more than just a bunch of covers. It would have been nice to see Jeff Beck shine as a songwriter than just a guitar player, we know he can play guitar and play it well, but can he write? That’s the real question I want answered and I’m sure he can, he is considered one of the guitar gods, so why waste his time doing covers? This is the late 60s, not the 50s where everyone was essentially covering each other. Even Elvis took the time to write new material and his own stuff, so Jeff Beck could have done that too.

I have nothing against covers, especially when done well. A good cover is when an artist or group adds their own flavour to it, repurposes it their own way and creates something new from it. I hate covers that essentially sound exactly like the original, like the band didn’t even try to do something new with it, what’s the point at that point? If you want to play song you love live, then by all means do it but don’t record it and package it as something on your album when you don’t even take the time to add anything to it. (Hot damn, hot take). Thankfully Jeff Beck is original enough to add his own flair to the music he’s creating so it doesn’t fall flat or boring, I just wish he took the time to write original material… that’s all.

I mean, that’s not too much to ask from one of the greats right? He can do it, I believe in him. I really hope he has another album on this list that can show that off and maybe I won’t be as disappointed second time around. I like Jeff Beck and just want what’s best for him.

Song of Choice: Beck’s Bolero

-Bosco

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1001 Albums: Music From Big Pink

#127

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Artist: The Band

Album: Music From Big Pink

Year: 1968

Length: 42:22

Genre: Americana / Roots Rock

“Forefather pointed to kingdom come
Sadly told his only son
Just be careful what you do
It all comes back on you

False witness spread the news
Somebody’s gonna lose
Either she or me or you
Nothing we can do”

What happens when you’re the backing band for one of the most iconic artists of the 60s and your left to your own devices to create an album without said artist?

You get what is retrospectively considered one of the most influential rock albums of all time. That’s what you get.

I wish I was joking, but 1968 seemed to be a really big year for music and rock history. I evens tumbled upon a magazine at a local pharmacy that had an issue that explored the entire year of music in 1968. That’s how big that year was. From Hendrix to The Beatles to The Who to The Rolling Stones to Sly and the Family Stone all releasing ground breaking albums that would shatter the very foundations of music as everyone knew it, there was one band that came out of the shadow of their main leader and produced an immensely rich and tight album that would would not only introduce Americana to the world but set the foundations for roots rock as well.

This was The Band, aptly named not because they were a band and thought it would be on the nose to call themselves that way, but because they were THE band that supported one of the greats of music history. Yes, this was the band that backed none other than Bob Dylan himself. If any band needed their moment in the spotlight, it was definitely them and boy did the world give them the chance. Bob Dylan, who had major respect for them, even opted to not be their lead singer as he wanted their talents to not be overshadowed by his presence on the album (but he does make some guest appearances as a writer and co-writer on a few songs).

And boy is there talent on this album. After gathering together in a house that they called Big Pink (due to it’s front being painted pink (also why the album is called Music from Big Pink, they weren’t very creative with their album titles it seems)), they improvised and cranked out tunes that would set the bar for this album. It’s undeniable that this band was incredibly tight and had developed a sound long before it came time to record this. They actually had a set of basement tapes they had previously recorded with Dylan years back that they used as their influence to create the sound heard on this record. What we get is a group who are incredibly laidback and grooving to the music, taking their time with each well-crafted note. Every moment here counts and they knew it. The album just oozes with talented musicianship that it’s hard to really pinpoint a low moment on the album.

That being said, I’m not really a fan. I won’t deny the amount of work that went into this and how well-crafted it is, but it’s just not my thing. Remember how I said it’s very laidback? Almost like a relaxed summer day, sitting by the pool, sipping on margaritas? That’s how this album feels. Although I do love kicking back and relaxing, this music fits when you’re in that mood, but when you’re not, it can feel long and boring, which is what I felt the first time I heard it. Obviously, I can see a lot of people being able to really enjoy this, my dad being one of those people, but if this style is not your type of music than it’s possible you can find yourself getting bored really easily. It’s a shame really because when that happens you can miss out on the sheer skill that went into these tunes. Luckily, I like to keep an open-mind about things and try and look past my own personal tastes.

I remember hearing the song The Weight when I was a kid. It appeared on one of those 60s compilations my dad used to listen to a lot. I remember long drives with the song coming over the car speakers and evenings with it playing in the house. I never really thought of the song, but when it came on I always immediately recognised it. I remember looking on the compilation cd, I always liked reading all the songs and band names and memorizing them, and laughing at the idea that this group was called The Band and had a song called The Weight (what a stupid song me 8 year old self thought). Flash forward about 15 years later, I hadn’t heard that song since I was a kid and imagine how my eyes lit up when it started to play and I instantly recognized what it was, all these memories flooding back into my head.

Music is a powerful thing and even if it’s not a song that you care for, it can still manage to do incredible things. A song that you heard from your childhood can years later return into your life and recapture those moments that you thought you forgot. A lot of people underestimate the power of music. I never will.

Song of Choice: The Weight

-The Band

P.s. Their original name was The Crackers before they took on The Band. Good choice.

 

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1001 Albums: Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake

#126

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Artist: Small Faces

Album: Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake

Year: 1968

Length: 38:27

Genre: Psychedelic Rock

“Once upon a time in a land of greens
Where the sky was silky soft
And full of colored dreams
Deep inside a rainbow
Lived Happiness Stan
In a small Victorian charabanc”

Piano Riff starts playing, a happy feeling comes over you.

*Sings Along*

“Ah-wouldn’t it be nice to get on with me neighbours?”

Guitar plays for a short amount of time.

“But they make it very clear they’ve got no room for ravers”

Guitar riff plays again

“Doodly-main. They stop me from groovin’ they bang on me wall. They’re doing me crust in it’s no good at all!

Laaaaaazy Sundaayy Afternooooon. Clooose my eyes and drift awayyyy”

Piano riff plays again, you kick back and smile at how fun this tune is and the overwhelming joy you get from it. Nothing can go wrong from this point on.

If it isn’t clear, I absolutely love their song “Lazy Sunday Afternoon”. Years ago, when I was 18, my girlfriend at the time told me I had to check out this song and the video that accompanied it. That’s right, this tune from 1968 actually had a music video and it’s pretty funny. It has the band standing around lazily (Duh!) and running around. No lip-sync involved so we get to see these four brits smiling awkwardly at the camera. We even get an old lady doing her damn best. It always felt like a novelty song, but man was I hooked from the moment I heard it, it was just beyond fun as a song. For years, I wanted to check them out, explore their discography because I loved this one song… but never did for some reason. No idea why, it just never happened. One of those things on the back of my mind that I never thought to really pursue.

But now, it finally happened. I finally got to listen to the four cockney-accented dudes, blasting their way through each song, unafraid of hiding their accents and just having a ton of fun. Was it everything I had hoped for? Were my expectations met? Was I disappointed? Was I so excited that shit blew out my ass and propelled me through the roof?

The minute that instrumental started at the top of the album, I knew I was going to take one hell of a journey (funnily enough there is even a song called The Journey). This has surpassed a ton of the albums I’ve listened to as being one of my absolute favourites. I had a feeling I’d love it and I’m so happy that feeling was right. I’m a little sad that Itchycoo Park was not on this album, another of their tunes I knew very well and love, but really even without it, this album was still a joy from start to end. I’ve talked about psychedelic music a whole lot (kind of had to since the 60s was just a non-stop psychedelic music party), but I haven’t heard a psychedelic music album that sounded like this. These guys made it fun and if more psychedelic music sounded like this, I would probably be enjoying this run of the 60s way more than I currently am. To say it was a breath of fresh air within an over-saturated genre (only because I’ve listened to way too much in a short amount of time) is an understatement. As each song passed it felt like it was getting better and better and there was no down in sight.

Once again I was faced with a half-concept album. Two in a row, my lucky day. However, unlike the last one, this time they put it on the second half of the album, to end it off rather than start it. I think that’s a much better choice as you get Side A as an opening act, a taste of what’s to come, easing the listener into the story that Side B presents to you. Rather than getting us hyped on the story and ending the album with a compilation of leftover tunes. Even then, the beginning didn’t feel like a compilation, it was well-crafted tunes with purpose that fit into the soundscape of the entire album.

Oh yes the concept! Let’s get into that. Side B tells the story of a character named Happiness Stan who one night sees a half-moon and sets out on a journey to find the other half of the moon (Because he’s clearly a moron). Along the way he encounters various characters and a wise old dude who basically goes “Idiot, the moon does that, if you’d just waited you would have seen that it’s ow full. Look!”. Happiness Stan looks, goes oh, and is back on his way home. It’s a quirky little story, but fits the aesthetic of the band very well and they ell the story with a mix of upbeat fun and trippy acid music, creating a sound that suits each part of the story. In between each song we even have a narrator telling us little parts of the story to bridge the tunes together. This whole side is apparently so complicated that they can’t play it live at all. They did get the chance a couple of times but usually avoid playing it live altogether.

Another cool thing about this album that you may or possibly may not notice is the album cover is actually a parody of Ogden’s Nut-Brown Flake, which was a popular brand of tobacco that was sold in Liverpool. They even went so far as to sell the album inside a metal tin as if it actually was a tin of tobacco. This proved to be a novel idea that was better in theory than practice. The tin constantly rolled off shelves in stores and the vinyl was incredibly difficult to pull out of the tin. They don’t sell it this way anymore and this idea would eventually be used by the band Public Image Ltd. for their album Metal Box (which I will talk about eventually as it is also on the list). I guess John Lydon didn’t get the memo.

If I ever get the chance, I probably would get the metal tin since it’s definitely a collector’s item now, plus it gives me a chance to own this album that I enjoyed way more than I had hoped for. Maybe I’m exaggerating my reaction a bit, maybe my love for this album was a result of context and not really pure joy. But I don’t need to over think that for any reason. Why ruin my experience? Why sabotage how I felt? WHY CAN’T I JUST LET MYSELF ENJOY THINGS????

I can and I will.

Song of Choice: Lazy Sunday Afternoon

-Bosco

 

 

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1001 Albums: Bookends

#125

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Artist: Simon and Garfunkel

Album: Bookends

Year: 1968

Length: 29:51

Genre: Folk Rock

“Cathy, I’m lost, I said though I knew she was sleeping
And I’m empty and aching and I don’t know why
Counting the cars on the New Jersey Turnpike
They’ve all come to look for America
All come to look for America
All come to look for America”

You beautiful bastards.

Why have I avoided Simon and Garfunkel all these years? Ok, I didn’t avoid them, it’s not like I was trying my best to make sure I never listened to them, but I never actively sought out their music to listen to. Like most people I knew their biggest hits and thought they were decent but the style was never my thing and I had no interest in digging deeper into their material. Maybe it’s good I didn’t because I just wouldn’t have had the appreciation for it then as I do now. So maybe I was meant to be exposed to them now and this was just the right time for me to truly appreciate the music they were creating and what they did. Maybe, I don’t know, I’m kind of talking out of my ass right now.

Maybe it was the right music at the right time. Last weekend I moved to a new place and everyone knows how fun and joyful moving is. With stress levels high, frustration on the brink of rage, injuries increasing in number and the hot, sweltering heat destroying us all, having some soothing music was exactly the dose of calming I think I needed. I mean, I didn’t listen to it as I was moving, but around the time, so good enough for me to make it count. I’m happy to say I am now moved in to a place I really like. No more basement apartment for me. I have big windows that look out into an amazing backyard, a cabin like aesthetic for my room (with fireplace included, functional? I am not about to try and find out) and my own little living room. Before I was living on my own but am now in a house with 7 other people. I figured it’d be an experience, one that I needed, never lived in a shared environment with others my age before, so will give me a chance to grow as a person I feel.

Bookends is a pretty simple album with a lot of depth to it. Instrumentally I can’t say anything interesting about it, it’s our duo playing away on their acoustic guitars, and for the most part evokes very black and white, yet mostly grey imagery, but that’s kind of the point. The only time I really noticed the instrumentation was at the beginning where a bass line was played by a Moog synthesizer which caught me off guard completely. Did not expect that on a Simon and Garfunkel album. It added a nice colour to the story of a drug abusing mother and her ill-fated child. Oh yeah, Simon and Garfunkel are not the cheeriest of people on this album I should add. There’s a lot of themes of adulthood, disillusionment, loneliness, mortality and growing old, which doesn’t make for the happiest of music. Even when their tunes sound upbeat, lyrically they’re coming from the minds of two cynical young adults who are having difficulty coming to terms with society around them. I guess this is why this album really resonated with the youth of America as it represented the feelings they were going through (almost A La Bob Dylan). Actually, Dylan is a great comparison because the album as a whole feels very Dylanesque, especially “Freewheelin'”. It definitely fits into the same realm of that album and though it never quite hits that high it still hits it’s mark exactly where it aimed to be.

As a concept album it works very well. The Bookends theme fits very nicely, opening and ending Side A as a cycle of life. Side A tells a story from childhood to old age, going through the motions of you’re average life cycle. We see a couple trying to find their own version of America that they feel they’ve lost, disillusioned and wandering. We are even met with a song that is basically just a compilation of old farts having conversations (tedious to sit though but fits in nicely within the themes of the album). However, the concept seems to end on Side A and doesn’t continue on for the entirety of the album, which is kind of odd. Why only make half the album a concept album? So what’s on Side B? Essentially songs they created for the movie The Graduate that didn’t make it into the soundtrack. That’s it. Not to say it isn’t good because they are great tunes, some of my favourite off the album. It’s just a weird choice to end the concept halfway through and make the other half a compilation album of sorts. Did they just give up after creating a handful of tunes and figured that was enough? Or was it planned that the concept only needed that amount of tunes and they figured they’d use the rest of the album to show off other work that hadn’t been released?

Hard to say, but really looking at it, oddly enough the Side B tunes fit rather well with the themes of the album. They wouldn’t have fit into the main concept as none really tell a story within the cycle of life, but Paul Simon’s (he was the main songwriter) cynicism is heavily oozing through every single one of these tunes and it becomes a bleak and sometimes satirical take on what’s happening around him. Fakin’ It almost feels like he’s expressing how he feels about his current relationship with Art and At The Zoo takes an almost Orwellian look at society, comparing humans to different breeds of animals. Whether you like it or not, Paul Simon was a damn good songwriter and what really sells this album above everything is the lyricism and painful emotions that seep through the vocals (Those harmonies will never not be beautiful). Apparently, Paul Simon was in a constant state of being high, which he stated exaggerated those emotions within him as he got way to introspective and that’s how he was able to get that pain across on his music. Whatever works I guess.

This was also the album that made Simon and Garfunkel the biggest rock duo of the time. It blasted them into super stardom and with the hit “Mrs. Robinson” under their belt, there was no way they could fall from this (they would keep their fame until they broke up and moved on to solo careers). Listening to it, I actually found it hard to put myself in the perspective of 1968 when it came out. Don’t get me wrong, It’s a fantastic album, but to the point of impact it made I’m finding it hard to put myself in that time-frame and truly understand how it happened. Usually I could, even with albums I don’t enjoy (cough cough Beatles) but this one doesn’t sound like it would have the impact that it apparently did. Maybe it is just how it resonated with the youth and that was enough to propel them far and beyond the point they ever imagined.

Honestly, I can try to wrap my head around it but it doesn’t really matter because at the end of the day it did have that impact and no sense of questioning or analyses can change that. I’m happy it did because it holds up today and is a solid album all around and I hope that it’s legacy continues on into the future.

Song of Choice: Fakin’ It

-Bosco

 

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1001 Albums: S.F. Sorrow

#124

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Artist: The Pretty Things

Album: S.F. Sorrow

Year: 1968

Length: 40:59

Genre: Psychedelic Pop / Rock Opera

“For ten weeks now number three stood empty
Nobody thought there would be
Family laughter behind the windows
Or a Christmas tree.
Then a couple from up north
Sorrow and his wife arrived
Before the sun had left the streets
They were living inside.
Then before too long
The street it rang with the sound
From number three there came a cry
S. F. Sorrow is born.”

I’m frustrated. Very Frustrated. I would even say extremely frustrated. Ever have one of those situations where you have a lot to say but have no idea how to say it? The words for whatever reason just aren’t coming out, you’re sentences make no sense, you try to string together thoughts and ideas into a cohesive structure but only nonsense comes out. You want to sound smart but instead you sound dumb. You try your best to understand something but no matter how many times you try, you look, you listen, you just can’t grasp what’s happening.

I’m frustrated.

I’ve listened to this album 4 times. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed every single time I’ve listened to it. Actually, every time I’ve listened to it it got better and better to my ears. Actually, I’m starting to love it so much I actually want to actively look for it and buy a copy for myself. It was definitely a pleasant surprise and I am willing to even call it a secret gem of the 60s (I’ll get into that a little later). But I had one issue. No matter how many times I listened to it I couldn’t remember the details of what I listened to. No matter how many times I heard each song, I couldn’t hold onto to any lyrics. It seems to be a problem I’ve been facing a lot these days and I’m not sure why. It’s frustrating to say the least. I love music, always have and always will and I love digging deep into what I’m listening to, understanding it and breaking down why it’s good. This is something I pursue to do and felt starting this blog would help me do that. But as each album goes by I find myself struggling more and more to say things in new ways. My vocabulary isn’t as rich as I’d hope it to be and my knowledge isn’t as vast as I wish it was. I found this album great in so many ways, but can’t seem to find the words to describe it.

Thankfully, google exists and I can do enough research on the album to talk a decent sized amount about it (Plus a reminder that I started this blog to chronicle my experience listening to the 1001 albums and wasn’t supposed to be reviews and analysis. But being who I am I couldn’t stop myself from doing that, maybe I should go back to how I started this blog). But until that happens, which will take me a lot to just separate myself from trying my hardest to break these albums down, let’s talk about S.F. Sorrow.

What makes this album so important is that it’s one of the first Rock Operas ever. The Sweet Things have even stated that this album was a huge influence on The Who’s Tommy, but The Who have gone on the record to say that is completely false and S.F. Sorrow played no role in influencing them at all. What’s the truth? Who knows, no one ever will at this point, but it’s clear to see they made their mark in history. Or did they?

If it was this important… why does no one talk about this band? I’ve never heard of it, no one I know has ever heard of it, this didn’t even appear in my famous rock n roll and psychedelic music class. So what gives? Why wasn’t this album more successful than it was? I mean, it’s fantastic from start to finish. I won’t go into details of the story of this rock opera (I’m not here to summarize), but it essentially tells the story of a boy named Sebastian F. Sorrow, born in a nameless town to normal parents, and the trials and tribulations of his life, from joyful adolescence to lonely old age. Side A has an upbeat and joyful feel as we hear Sebastian growing up and falling in love and getting married and going to war, but the album takes a sudden shift at Balloon Burning (an oddly macabre song that sounds super fun and happy but is about the protagonist’s wife dying in a Hindenburg type accident). Side B takes the listener on a completely different journey, going on an acid trip into Sebastian’s mind as he deals with depression and introspection, especially after he meets Baron Saturday who becomes the guide to this spirit quest. Where Side A takes on a Folk Rock approach with joyous undertones, the second half goes full on psychedelic, bringing you down with the protagonist. The shift is done so wonderfully and seamlessly and despite it being risky, the band managed to pull off a story that is incredibly engaging, that makes you feel what the protagonist is feeling and takes you on his journey with him. Unlike most Rock Operas though, the story wasn’t told through the lyrics of the song and instead was told through liner notes in between the songs lyrics on the vinyl and CD. In live performances they even had Arthur Brown perform the paragraphs in between songs.

This album had everything going for it, so why did it fall in the cracks? There seems to be many reasons. Firstly, it was released the same week as two monster albums, The Beatles’ White Album (which needs no introduction) and The Kinks’ The Village Green Preservation Society (which I have already talked about in a previous post). It was easily eclipsed by the incredibly large shadows these two albums created and there was no way it could overcome them unless for some miracle. Secondly, there was very little promotion done for the album causing it to go a little unnoticed until MoTown Records decided to pick it up to give it a boost, but Tommy had been out for months at that point and S.F Sorrow looked disappointing in comparison with critics giving it negative reviews for being pretentious and one critic even went as far as to say they “should be shot for what they’ve done to English rock lyrics”. A little harsh. It seems people also didn’t like the fact that the album told a story that was incredibly sad. They weren’t to thrilled about the fact that they left it feeling worse than when they started and that turned most listeners off to it.

I think in terms of storytelling it may have been a little ahead of it’s time. It may not have struck a chord when it first came out but I think in retrospect definitely can be hailed as a much more deserving piece of work than when it originally came out. Hopefully more and more people will discover this hidden gem and be as thoroughly entertained as I was listening to it every time.

Song of Choice: Balloon Burning

-Bosco

 

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1001 Albums: In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida

#123

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Artist: Iron Butterfly

Album: In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida

Year: 1968

Length: 36:15

Genre: Acid Rock / Hard Rock / Psychedelic Rock

“In a gadda da vida, honey
Don’t you know that I’m lovin’ you
In a gadda da vida, baby
Don’t you know that I’ll always be true

Oh, won’t you come with me
And take my hand
Oh, won’t you come with me
And walk this land
Please take my hand”

I listened to this album weeks ago. I’m five albums ahead. What am I doing? Why am I doing this? Keeping up a blog is much harder than it seems. I used to be able to crank these out quickly because I had set a routine for myself (and I guess my motivation was much higher when I had started as well compared to now where I have a lot of other priorities, like moving to a new apartment soon). I really want to get through this list because I’m genuinely excited to listen to all these albums I’ve either never heard of or know about but never listened to. But life is tricky sometimes and you do what you gotta do.

That being said, I have been given more motivation to crank these out quicker. I’ve run into a bit of a challenge with a friend (who also writes a blog!) where basically we each have to crank out at least two posts a week. If this is not met by the deadline, then we each have to do a dare for each article we didn’t post. And because she lives all the way in Boston, I’ll need photo proof of it. I’m usually really great at these dare games where I always succeed in not having to do the dares (my friend Luis can tell you all about that) and I am not going to start failing now.

As a side note if you do want a really fun dare game to play, here’s one I play with my friends (especially when we are out drinking). The game is simple, yet explaining it is difficult, so bear (bare?) with me. You think of a dare (must be something reasonable. Essentially nothing that will get you punched, kicked out of where you are or that tampers with people’s food or drinks) and then you turn to the daree and say “Out of how much to (insert dare here). They pick a number between 1 and 100 (1 being they’ll absolutely do it and 100 being the least likely). You both pick a number between 1 and the chosen number and count down “3…2…1”. You both say the number at the same time. If it’s the same number the person has to do the dare and if it isn’t you move on and forget about it. What make the game so fun is that sense of anticipation if you’ll have to do something relatively embarrassing or not. My friend hates playing with me because he can never get me and I guess his number all the time. I’ve had him stand up in front of an entire bar and declare that he was coming out of the closet (he’s not actually gay). But credit to my friend, he does the dares and doesn’t half-ass them. But I know he’ll get me one day and it’ll be an incredibly big one. I have to brace myself for when that day comes. Lets’ be fair, I’ll deserve it.

Iron Butterfly is widely know for their one big hit: In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida. They’re 17 minute epic that seemingly feels like it never ends, that captures you in and mesmerizes you not only by it’s monstrous size but it’s transcending instrumentals. There’s no denying that this song has a very well-deserved place in rock history (Which also made an appearance in my famous psychedelic music class), which is what made me question the inclusion of this album on this list. Obviously I was familiar with the hit song because… well, who isn’t? The iconic riff and simplistic lyrics have appeared everywhere, including a famous scene in The Simpsons where Bart switches out the organ player’s music with a reworked version of this song called In The Garden of Eden, having everyone sing for the full 17 minutes and causing the organ player to pass out from exhaustion. Funny story, the song was originally supposed to be called In The Garden of Eden, but when coming up with it the main songwriter was so incredibly drunk that he slurred the words coming out with In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida. They liked it so much they kept it. It is also the first song to have a long drum solo, this drum solo goes on for an eternity, but is absolutely magnificent in every way. The drums were mostly always there to keep a beat but this song revealed how much more it can do and the band stepped aside to let the drummer have his moment in the light (something that doesn’t happen too often in bands).

What I was getting at was, when I saw the album listed on the… list, I questioned if the album was only here because of their hit song. Did they put it on here just because In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida was such a bit hit and such an epic feat that they just had to include the entire album? I see a lot of albums on this list that are basically just that, an album that included a big hit and must just be on this list because of the hit (But I don’t know until I listen, it’s just speculation). At that point, if the song was that worthy why don’t they just put it on their 1001 Songs list and call it a day? So with this idea starts a new game I want to play called: Big Hit or Worthy Album? Where I see if the album was only included because of it’s big hit or was a worthy album that just happened to be eclipsed by it’s big hit.

What is the case for Iron Butterfly? Was In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida the only reason this album is here or was the rest of the album just as good?

I’m going to give this one a Worthy Album pick. I was pleasantly surprised by Side A and wasn’t sure what to expect as the whole band is mainly known for their one monster hit. I didn’t know if all their songs would sound like that one or they had more to offer. They definitely had more to offer. In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida seems to be a stand alone product as the rest of the album plays more into a hard rock vibe than as psychedelic one and although elements of psychedelic music appear throughout, they never have that acid trip vibe that their hit has. For the most part I do feel the rest of the songs could seem a little underwhelming and come across more straight-forward in terms of Hard Rock, but what really saves them is the singer’s unique vocals and that Organ. That organ is beautiful and comes in with licks and splits and jumps and spurts and adds a unique flavour to otherwise ordinary hard rock songs. Everytime that Organ came in it all made sense to me and put a smile on my face. This albums has definitely become a favourite of mine off the list so far and I plan to search for it in my local vinyl bins (although I saw it for 60 bucks at one store… yikes!!!).

Iron Butterfly were definitely putting their own unique twist on Psychedelic music and fusing it with hard rock was a smart choice on their part. Even though Hendrix was already doing that, the inclusion of their organ sound is what would set them apart and allow them to create an album that although was eclipsed by their big hit is an incredibly memorable one. It would become the biggest selling album of 1969 and become Atlantic Record’s biggest selling album until Led Zeppelin 4 would come around (which I get but… come on, yuck). No easy feat for a sophomore album but definitely worthy.

Song of Choice: Are You Happy

-Bosco

P.S. Do listen to the whole 17 minutes of In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida, it’ well worth your time.

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1001 Albums: Gris-Gris

#122

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Artist: Dr John

Album: Gris-Gris

Year: 1968

Length: 33:12

Genre: New Orleans RnB / Psychedelic Rock

“Walk thru the fire
Fly thru the smoke
See my enemy
At the end of dey rope

Walk on pins and needles
See what they can do
Walk on guilded splinters
King of the Zulu”

It’s been awhile, I advanced by about five more album and never got around to actually sitting and writing these posts… oops. To be fair I’ve had a lot going on in my life, from financial woes to apartment hunting, I’ve had a lot on my plate and this sort of fell to the bottom of my list of priorities.

I also turned 26 last week. Another birthday comes and goes. I’m not crazy about my own birthday, especially since I’m past the age that birthdays feel important. For the past bunch of years my birthdays haven’t been so great and I sort of accepted that this is what my birthdays have now become (and I assume anyone hitting this age feels the same way for the most part (unless you’re one of those people who has like 20 friends who throw you surprise parties and go all out, but you are seriously an exception to the rule)). I found myself looking back in my past year and got really introspective about it. I went through a lot within my 25 years old year and it was possibly my worst year I’ve ever had in my life, for many many reasons. I won’t go into any details, they aren’t important, but the way I see it, that’s life and everyone will experience that one bad year. I don’t feel hopeful (I’ve realised it’s a useless emotion) but I do feel that there will be a calm after the storm. Life has a weird way of balancing itself out, so I do feel things will turn around as the year goes by until my next birthday, which will probably be just as uneventful as always. Joy.

If you found the vibe of my last paragraph to be a bit of a downer than I’m sorry but this album would probably not be for you. This album from start to finish feels bleak and dark, but not in a sad kind of way but in a voodoo kind of way. There’s definitely some creepiness factor playing here and I find it adds so much to the music since it’s giving an already exhausted genre it’s own unique flavour. Unlike most of the psychedelic albums I’ve listened to, Dr. John approaches the genre with his own voice and style and it feels absolutely fresh. It helps that he mixed New Orleans RnB into it to give it that little flavour, but it is very much a psychedelic album as a whole and like I said, the vibe of the whole album is really what sells it for me. If you’re not into that type of grungy villain pub. deep in the woods, wrong part of town, Tom Waits type vibe, than I can see this not being for you at all.

In all fairness, I didn’t really know what to make of this album the first time I heard it (I had already heard Guilded Splinters in my famous psychedelic music class but never really cared much for it). It was only on my second listening that I really discovered how great it actually is (for what it’s trying to do). It really succeeds in giving the listener something they’ve never heard before. It’s odd in the best way possible and absurd in many ways, half of the lyrics just sound like complete gibberish, but I’m sure mean something… maybe… either way that’s besides the point because you don’t listen to this type of music to go in depth of the lyrics, you listen to it to get lost in the experience. And if you give this album a chance you definitely get lost to the vibe of the whole thing.

It should be noted that Dr. John is not a real person and is actually a persona created by the artist Malcolm Rebennack. The creation of the character was heavily influenced by a medicinal and spiritual healer who had the same name as the titular character. Heavily inspired by voodoo, Malcolm wondered what a stage show would look like from a character based off these two ideas and hence Dr. John the Night Tripper was born. I think that was a smart idea because it’s really what holds the whole album together, this persona singing and performing his way through each song. Malcolm originally wanted to find someone else to play the character, but was told by his producer just to do it himself. Good thing he did because his unique deep raspy voice is what turns the album form great to relatively iconic (He may not be well known for the average listener but people who are deep into the genre definitely know who this is (To my knowledge at least… I could be wrong)).

I really do think this album is worth a check out if you haven’t heard it before. Might not be your thing but hey! At least you tried something new and that’s pretty cool… right?

 

Song of Choice: Croker Courtbullion

-Bosco

 

 

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1001 Albums: The United States of America

#121

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Artist: The United States of America

Album: The United States of America

Year: 1968

Length: 37:07

Genre: Art Rock / Psychedelic Rock

“We shall shortly institute
A syncopation of fear
While it’s painful, it will suit
Many customers whose appetites are queer

Or for those who wish to pay
There are children you can bleed
In a most peculiar way
We can give you all the instruments you’ll need

And the price is right
The cost of one admission is your mind”

I am back from another long hiatus. This seems to happen to me quite often, but can you blame me? I’m an adult with a busy schedule and sometime other things take priority in my life over writing this blog. Shame though, because I listened to this album three weeks ago and barely remember it coming to sit down and write about it. I mean, I could have always listened to it again but I already listened to it three times and I felt any more would just be overkill at this point. Plus, I’m about 5 albums ahead, I decided to just keep listening because… you know, fuck it, why not. Might as well crank this one out and just move on with it.

It’s a short lived band that only had one album and the band broke up immediately after because they all couldn’t get along. Seems to be pretty common amongst bands. I always wonder… how did they get together in the first place when there were so many tensions in the band? Were they great friends first and the battles commenced once production started? Were they individuals who all saw the talent within each other but didn’t realise they’d butt heads so much once they began? It’s such an interesting phenomenon to see groups that do work together but then you realise how much shit was happening behind the scenes. At least this one disbanded immediately, some groups stay together for years and years. I guess props to them for sticking it out so long for the sake of the music (and the fans I guess). It just seems no one could agree on which direction to take the band as individual members tried to pull it this way and that and others got fed up of certain members getting more attention than others… ego, that’s what’ll do it. Either way, they produced one album that basically sold poorly and disappeared from existence, yet somehow managed to keep a legacy and high critical acclaim. Is it really the gem it’s made out to be? (I’m honestly not the right person to answer this question but whatever, I’ll do what I do best… be irrelevant).

Originally I thought this band had a stupid name with a stupid album cover. Like come on, United States of America? Really? Either you are way beyond patriotic or you have a severe lack of originality. Like what are you supposed to evoke with this type of band name? Very American music? Didn’t sound that way, except for maybe excerpts here and there, but those were few and far between. That album cover too… just a circle with the bandmates… cool, a lot of thought went into that one. I especially like how the bassist looks like Rainn Wilson, that gave me a good laugh for five minutes. I’m being hyperbolic of course, I don’t find it that dumb, plus my friend Graham convinced me that it’s a pretty cool cover since we rarely get to see the band working behind the scenes. So basically this entire paragraph I just wrote is entirely useless and should be ignored.

I’ll be honest, I don’t have much to say about this album and I’m looking for anyway to fill up space. I mean, it’s an experimental art rock, psychedelic album. I’ve been over saturated with them and this is not much of an exception to what I’ve been hearing. To be fair, their sound is definitely unique to them and they were trying new things with the genre. The use of synthesizers makes a big debut in music here and they seemingly are one of the first bands to experiment with it’s sounds as a prominent feature in the music. Lacking is a guitarist, which I think is pretty cool. I would have never known if I hadn’t read about that. Guitars are a main focus in psychedelic rock and it’s complete absent here, so I have to give the band credit for experimenting with new things and creating an original piece of work. It’s evident there’s a lot of talent thrown into this album and it pays off in the end… if you like this sort of thing.

In a lot of ways I can see this as a hidden gem in music history but at the same time I can see people being turned off by it. Not everyone is into the sounds of art rock and experimentation and it does take a certain level of music appreciation to really appreciate what’s being done here. Personally, not my thing and would probably skip in the future but I wouldn’t pass it up as a recommendation for lovers of the genre. It would definitely be a new discovery beyond the usual psych stuff and a fun little obscure piece of music to keep in your back pocket to pull out when you want to sound pretentious.

At one point the band says “We’ll have a good time” and I ask myself the question, Did I have a good time?

…I guess.

Song of choice: Where is Yesterday

-Bosco

 

 

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1001 Albums: Cheap Thrills

#120

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Artist: Big Brother and the Holding Company

Album: Cheap Thrills

Year: 1968

Length: 37: 11

Genre: Blues Rock / Acid Rock

” Ah, I’m a mean, mean woman
And I don’t mean no one man, no good, no
I’m a mean, mean woman
I don’t mean no one man, no good
I just treats them like I wants to
I never treats them, honey like I should”

I’ve been an absolute busy bee. I listened to this album about two weeks ago and hadn’t found the time to actually sit down and crank one of these out. SO bear with me my memory might not be the greatest as I sit to write about Cheap Thrills right now. But to be fair, since I completed school I’ve been working full weeks, two days at an internship with a film company (doing photoshop… of course!) and three days teaching dance (yes dance) to elementary school students in the GTA (Grand Toronto Area). Full eight hour days don’t lend themselves to having much time to write and by the time I get home I’m burnt out and ready to sleep. But! In the best way possible because it’s a very satisfying burn out and not an anxiety burn out, which is great because that means my mood has turned around.

I have to say I loved this album much more than I expected. The only song I knew before listening was Ball and Chain, so I went in expecting a full album of that. It’s a great song but I didn’t expect the album to be as high energy as it was and as fantastic as it was. Ball and Chain was never a song I was really into, I recognized it as great but felt meh about it. I’m happy that listening to the album has turned it all around for me. This album was considered one of the heights of blues rock music and I can’t deny that at all. The entire band seems to come together seamlessly with Janis Joplin’s famous vocal stylings over the top of smooth instrumentals just makes the entire experience a great one.

What threw me off at first was the addition of crowd noises throughout the album. I was sure it wasn’t a live album and lo and behold it sounded like one. The crowd noises were added in post to give the illusion that it was a live album and I have to say they did a great job at incorporating those sounds perfectly because they sound like they’re performing for an audience. The goal of the album seemed to be to capture their energy from their on stage performances and if that’s the case than I have to say they definitely succeeded because it felt like a high-energy live performance as each and every member gave it their all throughout the entire album. There is nary a bad moment on this album and it’s solid from start to finish. I have heard people constantly talk about this album in the past and was always hesitant to give it a listen, expecting a psychedelic album I wouldn’t really enjoy, but now I wish I had heard it earlier because it truly is an amazing piece of work. And a breath of fresh air, after listening to way too many psychedelic albums it was nice to hear some blues rock again.

How can I go on without talking about the album cover? It’s one of the most iconic album covers in music history and designed by the most famous underground cartoonist ever: Robert Crumb. His dirty, raw drawing style lends itself so well to not only the aesthetic of the album but the ideas behind it. The album is called Cheap Thrills after all, only makes sense to get Robert Crumb to design some crude album cover for you. But the story behind the album cover doesn’t start there. Before getting the artwork of Mr. Crumb, the band wanted the cover to be them naked in a bed. Surprise, surprise, Columbia Records vetoed it. I always love reading about album cover controversies from the 60s, they seem so ridiculous especially when you fast-forward to the 80s and later and there’s some pretty ridiculous covers that were allowed to be released with zero controversy. It’s fascinating to see what the boards accepted and didn’t accept back in the days and seeing the differences of what was considered controversial. An album cover with a band naked in a bed today would go unnoticed easily. The funny thing is Robert Crumb even refused to be paid by Columbia Records for his artwork not wanting their “filthy Lucre”. A true underground artist if I’ve ever seen one. And continuing with the controversy, Columbia Records even refused the original album title which was going to be Sex, Dope and Cheap Thrills. Gee, I wonder why… to it’s credit though, Cheap Thrills is a much better sounding name and rolls off the tongue much quicker and because of the shortening it became a much more iconic album than it would have with the original name.

I believe at least…

This definitely ranks high in my favourite albums I’ve heard so far and I think a lot of that comes from how pleasantly surprised I was with the whole thing. I should have listened to all those people all those years ago and grabbed me a copy of Cheap Thrills when I had the chance. I wonder if this is the end of the Blues Rock era on this list. If it is than it definitely ended with a high and I wouldn’t be sad or disappointed to know this is the last (although chances are there is another one and it probably won’t be as good as this, but oh well).

Song of Choice: Combination of the Two

-Bosco

 

 

 

 

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1001 Albums: The Notorious Byrd Brothers

#119

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Artist: The Byrds

Album: The Notorious Byrd Brothers

Year: 1968

Length: 28: 28

Genre: Psychedelic/ Folk / Country Rock

“No I’d rather go and journey
Where the diamond crescent’s glowing
And run across the valley
Beneath the sacred mountain
And wander through the forest
Where the trees have leaves of prisms
And break the light in colors
That no one know the names of”

It’s a plane! It’s Superman! It’s a Lead Zeppelin! No, It’s The BYRDS!!!! Again. It’s one of the few bands that I always sort of anticipate will show up once again in my playlist but I always sort of forget about at the same time. I’m actually quite surprised at how extensive their catalogue is having only known their early sixties hippie-dippie sounding tunes and never knew they had this sort of impact and growth and evolution within the music world. If you asked me if I ever thought The Byrds would be considered a band that left a mark on history I probably would have said no. But I didn’t know any better at the time having known absolutely nothing about The Byrds. Discovering their evolution has been quite the journey and that journey isn’t done yet with at least one more album to come on this list.

Ok, so what can I say about this album? According to reviews this is considered their greatest piece of work, their debatable masterpiece, the album that would leave the biggest legacy for them. It was The Byrds at their most experimental, utilizing all sorts of studio techniques and psychedelic cliches to their best. This was also their transitional album into their eventual Country Rock days but was used very subtly here with a nice blend of genres from psychedelic, folk, baroque pop and jazz. They were at the height of their songwriting bringing in everything they had t create a massively cohesive album with nary a bad moment. All this despite the many issues they had behind the scenes, from tension with David Crosby, who would be fired halfway through the session, and their drummer leaving as well. Gene Clark would return but it is uncertain what he actually provided for the album in terms of songwriting. All these issues and they still managed to release what’s considered their greatest album of all time (and sometimes even appears on top 100 albums lists).

If this is the case, then why was it so forgettable for me? No joke, I can’t remember anything of this album. it’s as if once it was completed my mind just swiped the memory of this album away form me completely. I remember the style that played throughout and the vibe I got form it for the most part, but it’s just a vague idea of the thing as a whole and I can’t go into specifics at all. Nothing from this album stuck with me in any way, shape or form. There were even times when I’d check the playlist and notice I had missed a song completely, not even knowing I had listened to it. I had to go back several time to relisten to songs to make sure Spotify didn’t just skip it, which is how I felt it was. Maybe the songs just blended in together a little too much (which is a credit to the album’s cohesiveness I guess), but I just can’t tell you about any songs in particular because I honestly don’t remember any of it.

Maybe this will go into the pile of albums I’ll revisit one day because if it really is considered their greatest work then there’s got to be something there I obviously missed (which seems to be the whole thing). Almost as if it sort of passed by me and I didn’t even notice it go. I find it such an interesting phenomenon how some albums can stick with us and others just don’t. Especially when it’s a highly valued album, you’d figure it would stick with you in some way or another, but this one just didn’t at all and I have no idea why.

That being said, there’s not much else I can really say about it. Took me doing extensive research to get to know anything about this album so I could at least talk about something related to it, but I’ve reached my capacity to say anything about it. Sorry to disappoint but sometimes that’s how it is and with 1001 albums on this list I’m bound to hit a ton that just don’t resonate with me in one way or another and I have nothing to say about. Can’t like everything and can’t connect with everything. That’s the sad truth. I really do try to at least have something to say about every album I listen to and try my best to form an opinion of sorts and to go into it a little, but I’ll have to face the facts that sometimes I just can’t do it and will be faced with an album that I just have nothing to say about. I do feel bad because it is The Byrds and I was getting into their evolution as a whole and even though I recognised it as I was listening to it and felt “man this isn’t The Byrds we started with, cool, good for them” that was as far as my feelings went for it. Hopefully I’ll have more to say for their next one which is full-on Country Rock, so there’s a good chance I might.

Also, I love how there’s a horse in that fourth window on the cover. Gives me the impression that a horse was part of the band and played on this album. Don’t know about you, but the image of a horse in a recording studio playing an instrument makes me giggle.

Song of Choice: Old John Robertson

-Bosco

 

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1001 Albums: Vincebus Eruptum

#118

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Artist: Blue Cheer

Album: Vincebus Eruptum

Year: 1968

Length: 32:08

Genre: Hard Rock / Proto-Metal

“Well my mom and papa told me son you gotta make some money
Well if you wanna use the car to go a ridin’ next sunday
Oh, Lord, I didn’t go to work I told the boss I was sick, said

Sometimes, I wonder what I’m gonna do
Lord, there ain’t no cure for the summertime blues”

Goddamn this album was loud. Like really loud. It’s the loudest album I’ve ever heard in my life. And I listen to music loudly, extremely loudly and nothing has ever coming close to the loudness of this album. It was so loud my speakers in my car almost couldn’t handle the sheer loudness that was coming through it. I thought they were going to blow at any second. I actually had to turn the volume down because it felt too loud, which is a first for me. The songs just boomed through, rumbling and shaking the entire car and especially my eardrums. The low frequencies were incredibly prominent on this album, which is a staple of this band’s sound it seems (based on an interview I read where they try really hard to make sure all the lows of the rhythm section are there and loud). This band was notorious for being so goddamn loud that I think I even read somewhere that they burst an amp playing at their volume (but I could be wrong, so don’t quote me on that). Never before has a band played as loudly as this band played and with that they paved the way for new horizons in music.

It’s shocking that an album that is probably not very known at all (my only exposure to Blue Cheer was their hit Summertime Blues from a Rock N’ Roll History music course) was such a ground breaking album for a variety of reasons. It’s officially the first album on the list to be considered Hard Rock, and although it may not be the first band to develop a hard rock sound (we’ve definitely heard some bands on this list already to do that) they were definitely one of the first to wear the term on their sleeves like a badge of honour.  They were the band that inspired the term Power Trio, which means way before Rush was considered the Holy Trinity, these guys were rocking it out as the first Power Trio. They also were one of the founding movements of Heavy Metal. The history of Heavy Metal can probably be tracked all the way to these guys as the starting point of the genre. So, if you are a love of Heavy Metal, you have these guys to thank for paving the way for the creation of the genre. So many firsts for a lesser known album.

All that being said, despite being the perfect recipe of music for me, I was simply ok with the whole thing. As a whole it was great to see the beginnings of metal and hard rock coming to fruition and I could definitely feel the obscene loudness shien through into my eardrums and rattle my brain, which is always great, but the songs themselves didn’t really have much else to them. Other than Summertime Blues, which is a fantastic cover, the rest of the songs felt mostly forgettable with the memory of the sound being what really sticks to you. I can go on and on about the sound of this album but wouldn’t be able to tell you much about the individual songs. I mean, one song was a drug anthem about how much he loves drugs… I guess that’s something to be proud about. I don’t know I should have loved this album, and there’s definitely a lot of moments throughout that I did love, but that’s the thing, it was always moments. Moments of solos or banging drums that appeared within the songs, but never the full songs themselves. I still really liked the album but it just didn’t connect with me and left me feeling like there was something missing deep down under all the loudness and guitar sounds that were plugged through multiple amps. There was a lack of structure throughout which caused for some unexpected shifts within the songs themselves that almost felt like a change of song occurred, even though it didn’t. Interesting choice but a little jarring nonetheless.

I guess what I’m saying is that there was a shallowness to the music here, but then again, nothing wrong with that. Blue Cheer’s goal was to create an album of music that was just beyond loud and would burst your eardrums and they succeeded in doing that! And despite my feelings towards it, I wouldn’t ask for any less from this album. It did what it aimed to do and I will admire it for that.

Song of Choice: Second Time Around

-Bosco

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1001 Albums: Lady Soul

#117

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Artist: Aretha Franklin

Album: Lady Soul

Year: 1968

Length: 28:41

Genre: RnB / Soul / Memphis Soul / Southern Soul

“For five long years
I thought you were my man
But I found out, I’m just a link in your chain
Oh, you got me where you want me
I ain’t nothin’ but your fool
Ya treated me mean
Oh you treated me cruel”

Oh Aretha Franklin, you big, beautiful woman. I don’t think there is anyone out there quite like her. The pipes on this women are absolutely extraordinary and she sings with so much soul and heart, there is no way anyone could not love Aretha Franklin. She is a delight and an all-around amazing woman. If I was twenty years younger… wait, scratch that because twenty years younger would make me 5 years old and that would be weird. If I was my age in the 1960’s, I’d 100% be an Aretha Franklin groupie. I’d be all over her. The second she opens her mouth to sing every guy in the room just melts. If Elvis Presley was making girls cream their panties then Aretha Franklin was the female equivalent, making guys cream their pants. There’s no way as a guy you couldn’t be turned on by this woman, especially when she’s singing about wanting a man who treats her right. You sit there going, I’ll be that man who will treat you right! I would 100% have slept with Aretha Franklin. Could you imagine the orgasms on this woman? “YEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHH” (credit goes to my friend Graham for that last part).

In all seriousness (even though I was relatively serious in that last paragraph about what I said), this album is fantastic. It’s a nice step up from the last one I heard (I Never Loved a Man as Much as I Love You, in case you didn’t know), which was already a tough act to follow. Aretha really brings it here better than before, singing every note with as much passion as she could muster from deep within her core. There is nary a second you don’t believe what she’s singing and she belts out tune after tune, note after note, with such force that it resonates past your ear drums and deep into your brain. This album is perfectly titled. Lady Soul is exactly what’s going on throughout the entire run time as Aretha sings about heart ache, bad men who have treated her wrong and even men who have treated her well. It’s all the soul and passion from the perspective of a woman that I can guarantee every woman would relate to or at least stand behind. Even as a dude (which I am) I could relate to the emotions she was going through (Especially Chain of Fools, having dealt with not only manipulative women in my past, but manipulative friends as well). The emotions come from a real place of womanhood but also come from a place of honesty that allow for any listener to relate to, even if they aren’t a heterosexual black woman.

I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed this album. I even found some songs to be too short, feeling like they just suddenly ended. Especially the first batch of songs off the album, I sat there wanting more each time and was taken aback when it would just suddenly end and move on to the next song. But wait song… you aren’t finished yet… come baaaaaack! More Aretha Franklin is never a bad thing.

The one thing I may not have enjoyed so much were the final two songs, which almost felt apart from the rest of the album. They didn’t really feel like they fit that well and I almost thought I was listening to an extended version with bonus tracks and these two were those bonus tracks (alas they were not). I did not need to hear a cover of the Young Rascals “Groovin'”, I had enough of that song from their album of the same name. Actually that was enough Young Rascals for me forever, so it just felt like an unnecessary addition to the album,e specially since it didn’t really fit the themes that made the album whole and cohesive to begin with. Especially since it seemed like there was a nice little story going on. She started the album talking about a shitty man that hurt her and ended up at “You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman” where she finally met a man who treated her properly. There was a nice arc going on there that kept me invested and by that song you feel really happy for her.

I don’t think I have any other words to describe how amazing Aretha Franklin is. She is the Queen of Soul no doubt about it and no one can take that title away from her.

YOU GO GIRL!

Song of Choice: Money Won’t Change You

-Bosco

 

 

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1001 Albums: Eli and the Thirteenth Confession

#116

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Artist: Laura Nyro

Album: Eli and the Thirteenth Confession

Year: 1968

Length: 46:15

Genre: Pop

“No one knows the blues like lonely women do
No one knows the blues like lonely women, yeah
Blues that make the walls rush in
Walls that tell you where you’ve been
And you’ve been to the hollow
Lonely women yeah”

I am going to do my best to never judge an album by it’s cover. I went into this expecting to be completely underwhelmed and bored but was instead pleasantly surprised by what I experienced. I did not expect to enjoy this album at all. I thought it was going to be a series of sad, melodramatic songs that feel more boring than anything, but instead I got a series of happy-go-lucky songs straight out of a romantic comedy montage sequence and some fine jazzy pop tunes. Even the slower songs were pretty good. Sometimes it’s hard not to set expectations for an album before you listen to it, but I’m going to do my best to enter them with a complete blank slate and no thoughts whatsoever (which will be more difficult with bands I’m already familiar with (I’m looking at you Led Zeppelin)).

It doesn’t help that in the actual book they didn’t sell me on this album very much. It almost sounded like the reviewers weren’t sure why this album was on the list and made focus to the fact that her two live performances at the Monterey Pop festival were disastrous and she was booed off stage (which apparently is a myth). But obviously when the very book that’s suggesting me the album gives me a very lackluster blurb a bout it, it doesn’t make me very excited to listen to it. They should probably rewrite it and at least make it sound mroe inspired.

And inspiring Laura Nyro apparently was. It’s astonishing how many musicians talk about her as an influence on their work. Musicians such as Joni Mitchell, Carole King, Elton John, Bette Midler, Cindi Lauper, Todd Rundgren, Steely Dan, Elvis Costello, Alice Cooper and Paul Stanley are just a few who have cited her as a big influence on her work or even as one of their favourite songwriters. Elton John was even quoted as saying that she was one of the great performer/songwriters who have been largely ignored. It’s crazy to think someone who had this much impact on music could fall through the cracks that easily. I certainly never heard of her and neither has anyone that I talked to, even my friends who are musical buffs. Especially the fact that she wrote all the music on this album herself is a real testament to her talent and how remarkable she really is (especially since most pop songs were written for the singers rather than by the singers).

To be honest though, I am a bit at odds with this album. As much as I did enjoy it, I am still wondering why it is on this list because it didn’t really feel like there was anything special to it. It felt like a nice throwback to old jazz singing like Sarah Vaughan but doesn’t really feel like anything new or substantial especially in the time frame that it’s in in 1968. I understand the history of it and her influence on many musicians and do feel knowing her as a songwriter is important, but the album itself, like I said, feels very standard. Enjoyable, yes, but nothing really more than that.

I will say that it was a wise decision to change her name to Laura Nyro from Laura Nigro, I think we can all deduce why. Plus Laura Nyro has a nice ring to it and sounds like a much better stage name than her original. Probably was taken more seriously with that name too. Unfortunately she is no longer with us, but her legacy does live on as samples on various hip hop songs, which is pretty cool. She may not be known by many but at least she was highly well respected in the community, and I personally would take respect over fame any day of the week.

Song of Choice: Eli’s Coming

-Bosco

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1001 Albums: At Folsom Prison

#115

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Artist: Johnny Cash

Album: At Folsom Prison

Year: 1968

Length: 45:05

Genre: Outlaw Country / Live

Inside the walls of prison my body may be

But my Lord has set my soul free

There’s a greystone chapel here at Folsom
A house of worship in this den of sin
You wouldn’t think that God had a place here at Folsom
But he saved the souls of many lost men
Now there’s greystone chapel here at Folsom
Stands a hundred years old made of granite rock
It takes a ring of keys to move here at Folsom
But the door to the House of God is never locked
Inside the walls of prison my body may be
But my Lord has set my soul free”

I’m becoming a big lover of live albums. Something about a Live album that delivers a sort of quality to the music that the studio albums don’t. Obviously not all live performances quite set the standard of what the studio album promised (some bands are just shit live and are purely meant to be heard on their albums). But a great band not only can play their songs live but can actually sound better when they do. Something about hearing the songs live, removing the sterilization of the studio, that adds that extra texture to not only their sound but their performance as well. I love listening to live performances to see how bands are able to recreate their tunes on their pure playing skills alone and I’m especially amazed when I see them able to perform a rather difficult song live (not necessarily musically but emotionally as well for the singer).

Creating a good live album though is a feat on it’s own. Not any live show can be produced into a successful live album and I am starting to understand why live albums are being included on this list. The live album is just as significant as it’s studio brothers, especially when it’s done properly. Creating a set list is just like creating a studio album, you have to find the right flow from one song to another and it all has to wok together to make a cohesive whole. What the Live album has though that the studio doesn’t is the added layer of an audience watching and interacting with the performance. The set list not only has to work as a whole but has to work in keeping the audience engaged, pumping them up at the right moment and capturing their attention. The order of your set list can make or break your show and knowing which songs to play when is incredibly important.

I feel At Folsom Prison is a perfect example of the live album done properly. Johnny Cash doesn’t just give a top-notch performance but he also forms a relation with the audience, interacting with them, laughing with them and getting them pumped up. He smartly forms his set list to cater to these prison inmates, starting with songs he knows they’ll relate to and get them riled up so when he stops to sit and sing some ballads they’re 100% invested in his performance and like putty in his hands. It helps that he empathises with them and cracks jokes for their sake against the wardens. These inmates go absolutely insane for his performance, hooting and cheering throughout, with their intensity building up all the way through where it feels like a possible riot might break out at any minute. The energy that the audience gives back to Cash resonates through the music and affects you as a listener to. You’re not only invested in his performance but the audience’s energy as well.

There’s a great moment right in the second song where he stops singing to tell the inmates to stop laughing as he’s performing and at the end of the song gives them a speech about how it’s being recorded and they can’t shout out words like ass and shit, with the second being bleeped out, which adds to Johnny Cash’s sense of camaraderie with the inmates he’s performing for. They laugh and hoot and holler at everything he says, that even when he’s doing something mundane like asking for a drink of water and commenting about the quality of the water offered, the inmates are engaged like children watching a storyteller. It also helps that a lot of the songs Cash sings relates to murdering and crimes, that I am sure the inmates absolutely loved to hear. Folsom Prison Blues starts with how he shot a man, and Cocaine Blues sings about how he snorted some coke, shot his wife and then was on the run from the police (an absolutely insane song). Add relevant songs like 25 minutes to go, a story of a man waiting to be hung, and Greystone Chapel, which was written by a Folsom Prison inmate, and you have one hell of a well-thought out setlist. It’s sprinkled with some of his other work to add some beef to it, but it’s really the outlaw related songs that standout as a whole.

Apparently, this was the album that got Johnny Cash’s career back on track. He was struggling with drugs (because of course he was) and was basically falling off the radar. The prison inmates had been sending him letters for a long time asking him to come perform for them. I think it helped that he had made that connection with them. After watching a movie about Folsom Prison, he was inspired to write the song Folsom Prison Blues, which was definitely what helped get him that extra pull that he needed to revitalise his career. Johnny Cash really delivers on this album and you can tell he performs with tons of heart and soul as he makes his way through each song with a sense of calm and cool that only Cash himself can do.

I’ve said it many times that I do not like Country music, but for the first time I can say I have found a Country album that I absolutely love. I never once felt like I was listening to a country album and instead just felt like I was listening to a great album. It was really refreshing for me to not be bogged down by any of the country cliches I always hated and was able to finally enjoy a country album for what it really was (but the fact that it was also a live album really helped with the experience). It may not have the high-powered rage energy of Jerry Lee Lewis’ Live at the Star Club, Hamburg, or the sexiness of Sam Cooke’s Live at The Harlem Square Club, but it definitely stands up to par with these other two live albums as being as historically important and as strong in it’s own way. It’s definitely one of the best live albums out there and a must for anyone interested in listening.

Johnny Cash seems to have made a career performing at prisons, with another live prison album of his appearing on this list a little later on and you really have to give him praise for holding the attention and respect of rowdy inmates for a full show. Johnny Cash is one hell of a cool dude and he proves it here. I’m happy to see he was turning his life around at this point and having a second resurgence of his career because if it didn’t happen we wouldn’t have had the joy of listening to At Folsom Prison.

Song of Choice: 25 Minutes to Go

-Bosco

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1001 Albums: Songs of Leonard Cohen

#114

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Artist: Leonard Cohen

Album: Songs of Leonard Cohen

Year: 1967

Length: 41:09

Genre: Contemporary Folk

“I’m not looking for another as I wander in my time
Walk me to the corner, our steps will always rhyme
You know my love goes with you as your love stays with me
It’s just the way it changes, like the shoreline and the sea
But let’s not talk of love or chains and things we can’t untie
Your eyes are soft with sorrow
Hey, that’s no way to say goodbye”

*I start this post off with some personal introspection so if you want to skip that scroll down*

I’m not sure if listening to Leonard Cohen was fitting or a bit of a sad thing for me. I’ve been kind of having a really rough week and let’s just say the music of Cohen didn’t help in allowing me to move past it all. If anything, as I was listening to it it forced me to become more introspective than I hoped. Which I guess says something about the power of Leonard Cohen’s music. I might be overstating his work, but currently that’s what happened to me as his melancholic melodies and rather sad stories caused me to feel deeper what I was already feeling.

It’s rather fitting that this album came when it did, mainly for my album photoshop. It’s pretty representative of how I’ve been doing these past bunch of days. When I’m not with people and remaining in solitude in my own apartment (which has been 90% of the time this week) I’ve basically looked exactly like that. Tired and just looking miserable. I’m not doing it on purpose and it’s not a choice. Heck, if I could choose to not feel this way, I would wake up everyday making that choice. But sadly it is and I’m kind of forced to deal with it on my own.

Things were looking really good for me in general. My mood was finally back to normal, I had completed production of my first short film in two years (which was one hell of an achievement for me). Even my friends commented on how my goofy charm returned and I was full of that crazy energy they always knew me to have. So what gives? Why are all these feelings returning with a vengeance? It’s such a weird experience where you’ve made all these efforts to overcome it all only to have it return so quickly and suddenly and without any real rhyme or reason. I can only speculate.

After I completed my film I felt like I lost purpose, like I had nothing to work towards or for. It was a weird feeling because… I absolutely do have things that I need to do and work towards, so why was this sense of purpose suddenly gone in me? Mix it with the fact that I perpetually feel like my life keeps offering me amazing things that leave me feeling on top of the world, only to take them away from me instantly, leaving me confused and lost as to what happened and why. Add a dash of intense loneliness and I guess I had a recipe for me to fall down the hole again. I had kept telling myself “Things will be ok. Things always have a weird way of working out. Just keep moving forward because everything will be fine”. I believed it for awhile and it was being proven to me, but I think this week that just all fell apart suddenly.

So, how was I introspective exactly? Well, while listening to the music, I was having time to really take a look at all of it and examine those feelings deeper. It’s never easy to look into yourself and face the darkness, but it’s always necessary to help you grow and move forward. My mom had messaged me saying that it’s up to me what I do. And as much as everyone in this state of mind hates hearing that, it’s absolutely true. It is up to me what I do and only I can help myself work through this. I can’t rely on anyone else but myself (which is counter-intuitive to loneliness because to fix loneliness you need to be social but that’s hard to do when the few people you already talk to either don’t answer you or aren’t available to do anything, but I digress). Unfortunately there’s no instant fix to this. All I can do is live it out and do my best to push myself everyday. Every passing day it’ll start to fade as long as I work at it and eventually it’ll fade away and I’ll feel like I’m me again. That’s all I can really do, take it one day at a time and let myself live through it, no matter how hard it is because Things always have a weird way of working out.

*End of personal Introspection*

It’s always great to see a fellow Montrealer on this list. Leonard Cohen is probably one of Montreal’s greatest exports of talent (along with Christopher Plummer and William Shatner and heck dare I say it? The freaking Safety Dance). Every Montrealer knows and love Cohen. When he died it was a big deal for the city. People left flowers and a in memoriam shrine in front of his house in the Plateau. It was like a big silence covered the city for a very brief moment. I know, I was there. There’s no denying that the city and it’s inhabitants were beyond proud of Cohen and his achievements and talent and he will forever remain a cultural figure deep in the heart ad soul of Montreal.

I’ll be honest though, I never listened to any of his music. I knew about his legacy and fame way more than his actual work. I only knew his song “First We Take Manhattan” and only because it played during the end credits of Watchmen. SO yes, I’m perhaps a bad Montrealer, but you didn’t need to know his work to know the impact he had left on us. You had high respect for him, even if you couldn’t name one of his songs. But I finally have and I’m glad I did because at least now I can say I’m a decent Montrealer.

If you read my personal blurb up there, you probably already know what I might say about this album. Leonard (I hate writing this name) Cohen’s song just ooze melancholy, from it’s musical arrangements to it’s lyrics, it’s hard not to find yourself feeling sad or even a little introspective like I was. That’s a bit of the pwoer this album has. Cohen started his career as a poet and novelist and it only made sense to make a transition into music. His skills in poetry were a big adavantage for him here as his lyrics are beautifully written, painting a vivid picture of the stories they are telling. That’s how you get lost in them, he captivates you with the stories he’s telling and immerses you into this world. This doesn’t happen easily to me, so I’m giving credit to Mr. Cohen where it is heavily deserved for being able to do that.

If you’re not paying attention to the lyrics however you might find yourself not as engaged. There isn’t much variety in terms of instrumentation and if you’re not paying attention you might find yourself unsure if you’re still on the same song or not. But honestly, that’s not the point. Just like most folk music, it’s all about the stories being told. The music is there to support it, but it’s really about what’s being said and being vocalised. Cohen has a great voice for storytelling and easily has you listening to what he has to say. I can go on and on about his writing on this album, but I would just end up repeating myself, but it really is the strongest part of the album and there’s no denying he’s one hell of a poetic master.

This album is probably not for everyone, just reading this review makes me realise that:

“There are three brilliant songs, one good one, three qualified bummers, and three flaming shits.”

That review honestly made me laugh hard when I read it and left me wondering which songs were which exactly. Despite this, this album had definitely left an impact on the folk scene and left Cohen with some of his best work (Suzanne being a prominent staple) with So Long, Marianne leaving an impact on me. It’s an incredibly bitter-sweet song about endings of love and parting of ways. I guess it resonated with me because of my own break-up that happened earlier this year and I understood the feelings it was trying to convey. It just felt very real and honest from this man’s soul and finding out that he had a muse that heavily inspired this song just adds to that bitter-sweet feeling, which probably came from a very real place in his life. All his songs have this quality to them, but it’s this one that stood out for me.

I have a few more Cohen albums to sit through on this list and I hope they have the same impact on me that this one did. It’s funny how powerful music can be, but I guess that why I love it so much.

Song of Choice: So Long, Marianne

-Bosco

 

 

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1001 Albums: Electric Ladyland

#113

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Artist: The Jimi Hendrix Experience

Album: Electric Ladyland

Year: 1968

Length: 75:47

Genre: Psychedelic Rock / Hard Rock / Blues Rock

“Well, I make love to you
And Lord knows you’ll feel no pain
Say, I make love to you in your sleep
And Lord knows you felt no pain
(Have mercy)
Because I’m a million miles away
And at the same time I’m right here in your picture frame
(Yeah! What did I say now?)”

Here we are. Back to Jimi Hendrix. That would be three Jimi Hendrix albums in the span of roughly 13 album, they come at you quickly. It would also be the third and final album of the Jimi Hendrix Experience, marking this one as the final in a trilogy of sorts. And just like any finale, it’s bigger, bolder and more monstrous than it’s predecessors. It hits you in the head and knocks you out. A grand slam of finales. An explosion of music and fireworks to mark the end of a legacy that will live on forever.

If you hadn’t guessed by my last paragraph there, I really liked Electric Ladyland. I felt they had stepped it up from what I felt was a rather meh second album that I just didn’t engage with and went back to their first album with some hard rocking riffs, his famous guitar sound and some added layers to add that extra oomph the two other albums were missing. Clocking in at almost 76 minutes, which I was shocked to find out because it honestly did not feel that long and I felt like I zoomed through the album (which just proves how it sucks you in very well), it is quite the impressive musical feat. Jimi Hendrix would be both producer and director on this album for the first time having complete control and the album really shows off his perfectionist attitude to perfection as everything here sounds like it was meticulously crafted from start to finish. He was also notorious for doing multiple takes until they got it absolutely right and it really paid off here.

I’ll be honest, the first two songs made me nervous. They gave me flashbacks to Axis: Bold As Love and I was worried I’d have the same exact experience from that one. But once Crosstown Traffic hit, my attitude changed and I’m happy to say the rest of the album was really one hell of a great experience from there (one would even say it was a… Jimi Hendrix… Experience… HAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA……ha). Voodoo Chile, which I always thought was called voodoo child and I kept reading it as Voodoo Chili (which to me sound deliciously spicy), is the longest song and despite going on and on it rocks hard enough to keep you going for it’s entire 15 minute length of time. And oh! Did you know Steve Winwood, my very own personal firetruck, has a guest appearance on it as the organ player? In fact, a ton of musicians had guest appearances on this album. It was said that the studio would end up so crowded with all these guests that it felt more like a party than a recording session. It would get so crowded that it was hard to move around. I don’t know about you but a bunch of top notch musicians creating some great music together sounds like one hell of a party to me. Sign me up anyday.

Electric Ladyland is also part of the ever growing list of albums that had controversial covers. I’m not talking about the one you see up there, which is completely harmless as far as covers go (unless you’re really disturbed by the fact he’s red and yellow and that doesn’t look like people! OH MY GOD!) but I’m talking about THE cover that had record stores ban this album or even sell it inside out as not to disturb the young, innocent eyes of everyone who enters. If you’re familiar with it than you know what I’m talking about. The famous nude women cover that look like this:

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To be honest, this one at least makes more sense than the album covers that were considered controversial because they had a picture of a toilet on it. God forbid we see a god damn toilet. Apparently, Jimi Hendrix hated this cover and wanted it to be something completely different (he also hated the cover for Axis: Bold as Love but realistically he’s also a perfectionist so he was probably never happy anyway). This is nowhere as near to being like the famous Penis Landscape controversy from the Dead Kennedy’s album Frankenchrist, but I can easily see people having a hard time dealing with a cover like this back in 1968. Times are defintiely different now. Although it’s debatable if as a society we’ve become more prudish or desensitised to this kind of imagery, especially if it was sold out in the open, but with an argument for it being “art” who knows. I am curious to know what would have occurred if this came out in 2018 with this cover and what debates and conversations it would spark. But that’s not for me to start, just to wonder.

What else can be said of this behemoth of a double rock LP that hasn’t already been said? I can’t really personally add anything new to the table but I will share that it was a fantastic album that I thoroughly enjoyed and was happy that My Jimi Hendrix Experience (teehee) ended on this high note. If I had listened to the albums like I used to (meaning one a day) I probably could have sense a bigger journey form their first to here. Heck, I could always just listen to all three back to back and who knows, maybe Axis: Bold as Love will finally make sense to me. I really do feel there is a story to be told musically by listening to all three back-to-back, especially as you watch the evolution and growth of the band through each one. One day I might just do that, but for now I’ll leave with the happy memory that was me enjoying this four-sided beast of an album.

Song of Choice: Crosstown Traffic

-Bosco

 

 

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1001 Albums: Os Mutantes

#112

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Artist: Os Mutantes

Album: Os Mutantes

Year: 1968

Length: 36:01

Genre: Tropicalia

“Ela é minha menina
E eu sou o menino dela
Ela é o meu amor
E eu sou o amor todinho dela

A lua prateada se escondeu
E o sol dourado apareceu
Amanheceu um lindo dia
Cheirando a alegria”

And now for a completely different part of the world. We’re travelling all the way to Brazil for this one (where two of my closest friends are actually from). My only experience with Brazilian music had been Bossanova music, which for the most part I kinda liked. If you go into this album expecting that, you will be in for one hell of a big surprise because this is nothing like Bossanova. Gone are the smooth jazz stylings and relaxed vibes and in are weird sounds and all around strange musical stylings.

This is the absurd band I’ve been waiting to hear for a long time. I was stuck in so much of the same that I needed a big break and these guys definitely broke that streak. Sure, they have elements of psychedelic music thrown in here, but it’s done in it’s own unique style that it’s nothing similar to it at all. I may have understood nothing they said, needed my friend to translate some of the titles for me (except for one french song that I did understand which was an odd surprise in the album), but I definitely understood what the band was going for with their overall strange and weird music. Os Mutantes translates to the mutants and that couldn’t be a more fitting name to this eccentric band.

Of what I understood these guys were heavily misunderstood when they first came out, being booed at various events and having their music banned from radio play and I can get why. It sounded like nothing that had come out at the time, and that’s for American music, imagine how weird it sounded for Brazilians listening to this for the first time. The opening song at one point even slows down giving the listener the impression that their record player had suddenly stopped working, only to get up and fix it and have the music start back again. I’m sure many were upset at this, but I absolutely love how they fucked with their listeners in that way.

As eccentric as the music is here, it never hits levels of too much eccentricity. It’s always enough to have the average listener question what they’re listening to but never hits Zappa levels of alienation. Maybe it’s just because I love weird music and this didn’t feel that alienating to me, but I wouldn’t be surprised if someone who only listens to pop radio would be completely turned off to this. Too bad, it would be their loss as they’d be missing out on one great band.

This has become my newest favourite discovery in terms of bands and since this is the only album by Os Mutantes on the list, it seems I will have to check out their other albums on my own time. They are sadly not on Spotify (I’ve checked and was deeply disappointed) but I am sure it wouldn’t be too hard to find their other work on Youtube. At least I am hoping because I really want to get to know more of this band if I can.

Song of Choice: Bat Macumba

-Bosco

 

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1001 Albums: Sounds of India

#111

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Artist: Ravi Shankar

Album: Sounds of India

Year: 1968

Length: 53:40

Genre: Hindustani Classical Music

“Ragas are precise melody forms.

A raga is not a mere scale

nor is it a mode

Each Raga has it’s own ascending and descending movement

And those subtle touches and uses of micro tones

and stresses on particular notes like this…”

I am now an expert in Indian music. Hand me a Sitar and I swear I can now play for you a perfect raga. Thanks to Ravi Shankar, I have been given the necessary lessons to perform at the highest level and I promise you I will do nothing but Impress. I will not disappoint you in any shape or form. My fingers will slip and slide, ascend and descend over that Sitar playing beautiful music that will bring tears to your eyes. I am now a master sitar player and I will reign supreme!

Ok, I’m obviously exaggerating. I’m not a master sitar player. My skills are exactly -100 and I promise you will be beyond disappointed if I start to play but it will be hilarious as all hell watching me try. But I do have to thank Ravi Shankar for giving us mini lessons at every song so we, the western audience, can at least attempt to understand classical Indian music a little bit. I’m no expert yet but the little pieces of knowledge he was sharing about ragas and tempo and the different tones at least gave me a base to know a little bit of what’s going on.

So what do I now know?

I know this type of music isn’t good workout music at all. I had made the decision to listen to this album while working out at the gym and it did not suit the vibe at all. This is music you put on to relax to, get lost in, chill out and smoke some weed to (I don’t but there’s a lot that do), not bust a sweat and lift some weights. It just doesn’t fit at all, but the contrast was definitely interesting to experience.

I really don’t know what else to say. The whole album is mainly instrumental except for Ravi giving the listener various lessons and making Indian music accessible for the western audience and helping them understand the style. There’s no denying he’s an absolute genius and master sitar player (with finger picking like that he must be popular with the ladies) and makes it seems so easy, but just like jazz before it, I have no way of saying why this is so good. It sounds amazing but I can’t really go into depth as to why… I’m sadly no musical expert, just a musical enthusiast. Maybe one day I will take the time to be able to completely deconstruct this style of music, but until then I will just enjoy it for what it is.

Some nice background music to relax to.

No shame in that… we all need that.

OK I’m sorry… I really don’t know what else to say that I haven’t already said in my other post about Classical Hinudstani Music. Alright?!?! ALRIGHT?!?!

Alright.

Song of Choice: Sindhi-Bairavi

-Bosco

 

 

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My Top 100 Favourite Songs Part 3

No delays, let’s get right on with Part 3!

51. Jukebox (Don’t Put Another Dime) – The Flirts

I first heard this song when driving down to Florida with my dad last year. Since it was my turn to drive, I had put the radio on the First Wave channel and this popped on. It was so damn catchy that I couldn’t wait for that chorus to come around every time on the song. Once it was done, I found it stuck in my head and as I kept driving I had hoped it would appear again on the channel (they have a habit of repeating songs). It eventually did on our drive back from Florida and I was hooked ever since. It’s silly and novel but a ton of fun and I find myself singing it to myself a lot at random moments. Maybe It’ll eventually over stay it’s welcome and I’ll grow fed up of it, but for now it’s a fun tune I love to enjoy.

 

 

52. Kiss From a Rose – Seal

Parapapapapapapa parapaaaaa. Man isn’t this song just beautiful? And Seal just performs it with such grace and passion. I’ve tried singing this song many times and have failed miserably to the point I now purposefully sing it badly with the wrong lyrics just to anger those closest to me. Sure, lyrically it;s incredibly cheesy but with that whistle solo, Seal’s voice and a catchy chorus, it all comes together to create a song that just feels good to listen to. I always find myself coming back to it and listening to it on a loop for a small period of time, usually in hopes that one day I’ll be able to sing it too, but I fear that day will never come. It’s such a great song to be used both seriously and for comedic purposes and boy does it work for comedic situations. I think, thinking about it now, is in part why I love it so much, because of how it’s often used in comedies as a contrasting piece, usually making a scene funnier with it’s use. Being a huge fan of comedy it’s obviously a selling point for me, but it doesn’t take away from how beautiful this song sounds as a whole. Maybe one day I’ll get to use it comedically myself, I sure hope so.

 

53. Let’s All Make a Bomb – Heaven 17

With their commentary on new social bureacracy and the shape of society and war, this song is a definite highlight on the Heaven 17 debut “Penthouse and Pavement”. This was definitely their response to the creation of neutron and atomic bombs and how the people in power will easily drop the bomb, especially during the rise of the cold war and fear of possible fallout at any time. Taking the positions of the higher ups in power ready to respond with pure annihilation, it’s definitely not the answer but Heaven 17 are quick to criticise this attitude (it kind of reminds me of the Dead Kennedy’s Kill The Poor in some ways). It’s also one hell of a catchy synth tune, with some great sustained notes that add to the vibe of the song as the singer with his unique voice sings about the choice of making a bomb. It’s both fun and menacing and has a dark undertone that makes this song a killer every time I hear it.

54. Little Girl – Syndicate of Sound

Going back to the raw sound of 60s garage rock. Syndicate of Sound were short lived (like most garage bands) but were able to stand out with this little tune. It sounds more polished than their garage band counterparts, but thematically is still the same. The Lead singer laughingly sings about a girl who’s treated him wrong but instead of being hurt laughs as he proclaims she hasn’t done anything new. All her actions are old news and even though she cats like she’s the first to do it, he doesn’t refrain from reminding her she’s just an immature girl who’s like every single other one and isn’t anything special. There’s something great about his delivery, he doesn’t at all sound angry and the fact he’s laughing about it packs an even bigger punch. Throw in a catchy guitar riff and you’ve got a really fun tune to enjoy.

55. Living on Video – Trans-X

*Note: this song has become a difficult one for me now because it was a song I shared very deeply with my ex to the point that we used to joke about using it as our first song if we ever got married. That being said it’s still one I love very much and I won’t let that weight that’s now on it affect my enjoyment of the song* What do you get when you cross new wave synth pop with a montreal band talking about the computer age (as most did), you get Trans-X’s Living on Video, A rather silly yet incredibly danceable synth song that definitely feels like a pre-cursor to dance music with a music video that has everyone dancing robotically except the lead singer who looks like he’s having the time of his life. Along with his iterations of “STOP” that has the camera zooming into his face really quickly and he points to it, there’s absolutely nothing to not love about it. I remember first hearing it on the galaxy 80s channel and messaging my ex to check it out. She stumbled upon the music video and told me to check it out and I’ve been in love ever since. There’s even a 2012 version that modernises the synth sounds and it’s a fucking blast. It’s 80s new wave at it’s silliest and holds a place close to my heart.

56. M-Train – Pylon

I love a band that utilizes their bass at it’s best and this band definitely knew how to use their bass. It’s loud. deep and resonates at the forefront of most of their songs. This one in particular their bass is practically used as the position of the lead guitar and it’s simply amazing. I never get tired of this bass riff and anyone who loves a good bass will definitely love this one. It’s really the defining trait of this song for me and why I love it so much. The singer growls her lyrics with such aggression as she tells an ex-lover to basically fuck off. You know she means no nonsense and stands up for herself, which is also half the greatness of this song. But that bass will always it me hard and keep me listening.

57. Masquerade – Berlin

This is one of the few songs I’m proud to say I actually learned how to play by ear. It was quite a feat and happened almost accidentally, but I still did it and feel very proud of myself. That being said, I remember listening to Pleasure Victim for the first time and although their song Metro is definitely a staple of the new wave genre, it was Masquerade that stuck with me long after the album was done.  Can’t really explain it. The main riff is catchy as hell, the chorus is sung beautifully by Terri Nun and lyrically it just resonated with me. Just like any good artist there’s a lot of emotion thrown into it and Terri Nun doesn’t just hit her notes but hits them with feeling and to me that always strikes harder than just a well done song.

58. Mbube – Miriam Makeba

Here’s a pick that’s completely different. Off the 1001 albums list, this was a very special discovery. Mbube seems to be the song that heavily inspired the song “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” which was a big part of my childhood. Here Miriam sings beautifully and is supported by a group chanting and hollering and it all comes together to create something that not only feels inspirational and all around just happy. There’s almost a bitter-sweet feeling to it, but more sweetness than anything and it always brings up images of people getting together, resolving issues, walking away in the sunset type cliches. I usually tend to avoid cheesiness but this one is an exception because it always manages to touch me to my core and will remain a song I love to listen to.

59. Mexican Radio – Wall of Voodoo

What do you get when you mix New Wave sensibilities with a spaghetti western sound? You get the ever unique Wall of Voodoo, fronted by the man with his own voice, Stan Ridgway. They weren’t big in any sense, but credit to them for creating their own sound that is really their own. Mexican Radio was their one slight hit and I absolutely love it. The spaghetti western vibe helps drive this song a lot and Stan Ridgway’s vocals bring it altogether to make this song work as much as it does. This song just wouldn’t work sung by anyone else. It really has it’s own flavour and might be an acquired taste for most, but once it’s stuck, it’s stuck and it’s a song that keeps pulling you back in its own weirdness that just seems to work very well.

60.Misirlou – Dick Dale

I Love surf rock and this is the epitome of surf rock music. Done by the king of the surf rock guitar himself, Dick Dale. It’s fast-paced, catchy and really gets your heart pumping. Dick Dale’s skills are shown off here as he plays his guitar with incredible precision. There’s nothing more I can really say about this other than it’s such a great fun time and a staple of surf rock music. If this doesn’t make you feel like twisting on the beach than I don’t know what will.

61. Money For Nothing – Dire Straits

I want my… I want my… I want my MTV. If there’s ever a song that has an amazing build-up it’s this one. That intro just builds and builds, those synth lines playing mesmerizing you. Once those drum beats start you know something good is coming all the way to the point that it climaxes into Mark Knopfler’s killer riff. This song just absolutely kills in every way possible and Mark’s lyrics of the gripes of someone coming to terms with the MTV generation and new stylized acts becoming famous (although I don’t think it was him and was actually inspired by some old man’s angry rant he heard once) is not only still relevant but provides some great commentary.  This song just rocks and I will never not love it.

62. More Than A Feeling – Boston

I know I usually tend to like out of the ordinary choices and try to have original picks. But sometimes I really like a classic song and this is definitely at the top of those. It makes sense why so many people love this song, I mean how can you not? Everytime that main riff kicks in you can’t help but feel lifted off your feet. I remember when I was 18 I was going through a slightly rough time and was listening to this song on repeat because it made me feel good. I took a look and noticed I had listened to the song over 1000 times, which caught me off guard completely. So yes, I know this song very well and it has stuck with me for years and years and it still gives me the same feeling as it did when I was 18 every time I listen to it.

63. Moskau – Dschinghis Khan

Story time. I was 14 years old and going to Day Camp. One day I discovered three videos with my group that my camp counsellor showed us. One was Lasha Tumbai (which you saw earlier on my list). Another was Tunak Tunak Tun, which I became obsessed with for a short amount of time (not enough to make it on this list) and the third was this one, Moskau. The group of German power rangers singing and dancing like Russians. I think this was the day I discovered the possibilities of novelty music and it definitely shaped and warped my mind forever. I absolutely love how catchy this song is and the dance is unbelievably fun. I learned the dance and even taught it to kids when I eventually became a Camp Counsellor. I always find myself returning to watch the video and it makes me stand up and dance along every single time.

64. Mr. Vain – Culture Beat

Anyone who knows me knows I absolutely love to dance and there’s no better music to dance to than 90’s eurodance. It’s upbeat, synth heavy and exciting on every end. If I had to pick just one tune from the plethora of eurodance tracks that everyone knew but had no idea who the artist was, it would be none other than Mr. Vain. i cannot control myself when this song starts. Wherever I am, if this song plays I must dance. It is a staple and a must for every dance party I attend and I am always extremely disappointed if it doesn’t play. I even learned how to play it on my keyboard so I can always just do it myself if I can’t access any music. It’s a ton of fun and I will never get sick of dancing to it.

65. Nobody Takes Me Seriously – Split Enz

Isn’t it great when you find a song that seems to express how you feel. Sad to say but a song called Nobody Takes Me Seriously was one of those songs. For a long time in my life I always felt like no one took me seriously, it was mainly because I was always a bit of a joker and fun guy who looked like he couldn’t take things seriously ever. SO of course when it was time to be serious, people would either not care or laugh at it (YOU?! BEING SERIOUS?! pffft). My joker side was always a coping mechanism for things I was actually dealing with in my life. I had learned that nobody likes you when you’re mopey and sad, so I thought, I’ll just look happy and funny all the time. It was also a way for me to not have to deal with the issues and at least give the illusion that I was doing fine and looked like a happy guy. That obviously backfired for a period of my life. Thankfully that has turned around for me and I am indeed taken more seriously than I used to be, but this song still expresses those moments of my life and still holds weight to me even today. It’s also an upbeat song, which is always a plus!

66. Nothing to Fear (But Fear Itself) – Oingo Boingo

Before Danny Elfman was making musical scores for Tim Burton, he was leading this off-the-wall, incredibly unique and slightly odd band called Oingo Boingo. Off my favourite album of theirs comes this tune, a fast-paced, punk inspired song that describes fearful situations with the constant reiteration that there’s nothing to fear but fear itself. It’s one of those songs where every member of the band is used to perfection, from the bassists deep bass notes hitting hard during the Temperatures start to drop section and the horn sections riff that will stick in your head. Everything about this songs just works to the band’s style in it’s advantage, not only showcasing what they can do as a whole but creating a damn fine song. It’s a bit of an addiction but definitely a good one and it’s a song that has you coming back time after time (at least it does for me, I don’t know about you).

67. Non-Alignment Pact – Pere Ubu

This song is notorious for annoying the shit out of anyone I’ve played it for. It’s mainly because the opening seconds is just a high-pitched synth note playing over and over and over, with a few bass notes coming in here and there, but that opening synth note is what dominates until the guitar track breaks in. It’s irritating, I get it, but once you get past it you get an incredibly absurd post-punk tune that is just amazing. The lead singer has one of the weirdest voices (and it’s funnier knowing he’s this fat, bald guy who wears a tight suit). But what really sells it to me is the bass line. There’s a point in the song where the bass line kicks in nice and hard and it’s simply amazing. I purposefully crank up the bass to hear it even better. If you like weird and unusual but still good, this is the song for you.

68. Omaha – Moby Grape

I don’t really have much to say about this one. It was one of those tunes I heard in my psychedelic music class that just stuck with me for one reason or another. It was just a great tune all around. From the backwards drum hits at the beginning, to a catchy riff and the vocals coming in with “Listen my friends”, it was just a tune that stuck with me and I enjoyed very much. Moby Grape were a band that deserved more than they got and this song is a testament to their talent.

69. Our Lips Are Sealed – The Go-Go’s

(Another difficult one to talk about because it was another song I shared with my ex, but whatever I don’t care anymore). I love the Go-Go’s and their debut is one of my all-time favourite albums. This song, for me, is their stand out and is one that I am absolutely addicted to. I don’t know what it is, but from that opening drum beat and relatively simplistic guitar riff, it just hooks you in and keeps you on for the ride. My favourite dance move came about from listening to this song and up to today I still find myself singing the main chorus over and over. Lyrically I think it also stuck with me, a sort of attack on people and their jealousy games (which I absolutely hate) and how we just won’t participate in them. I can stand behind that and I do because I don’t like playing jealousy games at all and when talking bad about people I usually try my best to avoid saying their names since they aren’t there to defend themselves (but I fail at this many times, I’m only human). It’s a great tune by great bunch of ladies and I will never get sick of it.

70. Philosophy of the World – The Shaggs

Sometimes I love shit music. The Shaggs are the definition of crap. They aren’t in tune, they don’t play at the same time as each other, they can’t sing and can barely play their instruments. But by god do I love this. It’s like The Room of music. It’s horrible but it’s so bad that it’s good. It’s the worst music ever but somehow it’s beyond enjoyable. You love how bad it is and it’s mesmerizing how anything like this could have been created to begin with. It’s so earnest and genuine in every way that even if you tried you couldn’t come up with something like this. Their first song off the album is the one that sticks with me as easily being their best one and the closest to an actual song that works (doesn’t mean it does). It’ kind of catchy in it’s own weird way and surprisingly has meaning to it (no one is ever happy, grass is greener on other side type thing) but I am sure that was completely accidental on their part. If you’re up for it, check them out, it’s quite an experience.

71. The Plastic Age – The Buggles

What a song. This is one hell of a song. It’s big, it’s epic and layered in so many ways. It attacks you with telephone rings and shouts right at the beginning and then a synth bass beat representative of a fast-beating heart and then come sin with hooks and catchy riffs that will stick with you forever. The Buggles are mainly known for Video Killed the Radio Star, which is a great tune in it’s own right, but I really wish people knew this one more than that one because, personally, I feel it’s a much better tune. It opens their debut album and boy does it keep you hooked. It’s an experience from beginning to end and doesn’t disappoint.

72. Poison Arrow – ABC

I don’t care what anyone tells me, this is the greatest break-up song of all time. It’s all the emotions one goes through in a break-up, confusion, anger, doubt, sadness, but without all the weird creepy obsessiveness of every other break up song (I’m looking at you Adele). The singer doesn’t dwell on his ex like other artists do, he doesn’t claim that they would be perfect together or they could have had it all or how he keeps thinking of her, no it’s pure you broke my heart you asshole and you don’t even seem to care (which is way more relate-able than any other sappy crappy break up song). ABC perfectly captured the emotions one goes through, especially since the singer seems to get angrier as the song goes on. He’s really torn here but in the most natural way possible without the creepy obsession (I feel like I really need to reiterate that to make clear why those other break-up songs just suck so bad). He’s not creepily obsessed with his ex but just going through the motions of a break-up which we’ve all been there before. I loved this song for awhile, but after my break-up I loved it even more because I realised how genius it was. Found myself singing it a lot and it felt good to sing it. If you’re ever going through a break-up, crank out this song and let yourself go.

73. Polaroid/Roman/Photo – Ruth

Time for another french song. This time about a shy guy who finds romance and love through the use of photography. There’s something really sweet about the subject matter, but it’s the music itself that really drew me in. I discovered this around 19 years old completely by accident. Ruth is such an unknown band (only one album) that I would have never discovered them if it weren’t for listening to a random New Wave playlist on some music streaming site that I can’t even remember the name of because it was popular for a short time and then disappeared. If you’re looking for french new wave underground dance pop that resurged in popularity in underground dance scenes decades later, than this is the song for you. It’s simplistic yet catchy and had been stuck in my head relentlessly when I first heard it. It’s a fun little unknown tune and I think it needs more exposure than it has received.

 

74. Pop Muzik – M

M is an interesting artist. Managed to create his own unique vibe while still remaining relatively accessible. And although his sound probably attracted more artsy types than mainstream audiences I still manages to attract your attention. Pop Muzik is one of those tunes that I just enjoy with no real reason why. I find it mostly to be really catchy and love his vocalisations as he almost sing talks his way through the entire song. The instrumentals also manage to be odd enough to stand out and manage to stick in your head as well. A mix of female back-up singers and talking about how pop music is basically taking over the world (in his on weirdly poetic way that sounds almost like nonsense) and you’ve got an interesting little tune that you find ourself oddly attracted to and don’t know why. If you can figure out why, please tell me, but for now I’ll enjoy it for what it is.

75. Psyche Rock – Pierre Henry

This is the most recent addition to my favourite songs list. Discovered this one within the past few months and immediately fell in love with it. Pierre Henry is an experimental musician who works primarily in music concrete. Not my favourite style at all but this one really stuck with me. I think it’s the mix of bells and whistles and weird synth noises that come together over a repeating guitar riff, with some fun horns, that made a classic tune. Or maybe it’s because it sounds exactly like the Futurama theme song. No joke and there’s a reason for that. This song played a big influence when it came to composing the Futurama theme song and when you listen to it, it sounds almost exactly the same, only the Futurama version is more accessible and melodic than this one. What makes this one much cooler is that it’s straight from 1967 when synthesizers were still a very new thing. Was he a pioneer? Maybe, I’m sure that’s left up to debate, but for now, I’ll enjoy Psyche Rock in all it’s glory.

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1001 Albums: The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society

#110

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Artist: The Kinks

Album: The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society

Year: 1968

Length: 38:59

Genre: Rock

“We are the Village Green Preservation Society
God save Donald Duck, vaudeville and variety
We are the Desperate Dan Appreciation Society
God save strawberry jam and all the different varieties

Preserving the old ways from being abused
Protecting the new ways, for me and for you
What more can we do?”

I am back! Not in terms of this blog, because let’s be honest I’ll constantly be taking breaks and slowing down. But in terms of my mood and just all around being me as a person, I finally feel like I’m back to normal. I’ve been getting amazing sleep. I wake up early naturally. I feel energised the entire day with no need for naps. I’m actually in a good mood. I feel like I’m myself again, my motivation has returned and I find myself actually being productive (or at least somewhat). Thins are turning around and I feel great.

On top of that I got to enjoy what I feel is currently my favourite Kinks album. I think I’m finally sold on them and this was the album that sealed the deal for me. I was somewhat hesitant at first but now I think I absolutely love The Kinks. There’s something about their music that both feels incredibly nostalgic but fresh at the same time. Like they’re working with formulas but somehow using them in an original way. It’s a strange sentiment to feel, but a great one nonetheless and I really hope this isn’t it for the Kinks catalogue (but it might be sadly). Shame, I was really hoping for more.

Something The Kinks do very well is capture an image of old school England. That sense of nostalgia doesn’t just come through their music but their imagery as well as they capture a slice of life within the community. Here they do it their best as they paint a picture within the confines of the idea of the “Village Green” which according to the writers is a sort of safe haven away from all the artifice and bullshit of the city life and real world. A place where things are simpler and easier with nothing fake happening, just a genuine world within a plastic one. As someone who is a strong believer in honesty, this idea really feels like a breath of fresh air.

As a concept album it works very well, creating these little vignettes to fully create this world they’re taking you through. Oddly enough, despite being unanimously critically acclaimed, it sold very poorly, which sadly seems to be a regular thing for The Kinks. Once again, it’s one of those a;bums that only started to get noticed way past it’s release and would be rediscovered years later. The Kinks seem to have a weird relationship with this sort of thing and apparently their feelings of exclusion from the US was in part what had them create this album. Here’s an interesting snippet I found that I would like to share:

“Davies, who had suffered mental exhaustion himself, isolated and conscious of “the hole I was in” – to either be a hit machine or not to exist, sings; “This world is big and wild and half insane… It’s a hard, hard world if it gets you down – Dreams often fade and die in a bad, bad world” with “Everybody pushing one another around… all the people who think they got problems.. don’t let it get you down”. He advises one friend (“Starstruck“); “you’re a victim of bright city lights and your mind is not right…. running around like you’re crazy… out on your feet – It’s gonna drive you insane because the world’s not so tame”.

The writer admits; “I sought fame, and so I left the village green.” But he has somewhere to return to; “I’ll take you where real animals are playing, and people are real people not just playing. It’s a quiet, quiet life”. The village green offers a place to be natural, a place of solitude, while the “city” offers only artifice, haste, competition and the dangers of the Cold War. The animal farm, Ray Davies said, “was just me thinking everybody else is mad and we are all animals anyway – which is really the idea of the whole album.””

It really puts the album into a new perspective getting an introspective look at the writer’s mindset when creating the album and it really added a lot, for me at least. And obviously who can say what they’re doing better than the writer themselves. I really get a sense that he was just plain fed up of the world and he vented all his frustrations into this album. The energy he put into it really shows and it’s easily their best album (at least of the ones I’ve heard on this list). It’s nice to see The Kinks finally fall into place and having seen their progression and growth, this is probably the peak of their career, which is a shame because getting the chance to watch them grow beyond this would have been quite a spectacle to witness.

What else can I really say about this album without going into a song play by play (which I will not do). It’s essentially just the masterwork of a band that has been building up to this sort of climax for awhile. They finally achieved it and can finally sit back and know that they’ve managed to create something that remains both timeless and old, a difficult feat to achieve. In days like today where technology is moving fast and everything is becoming more and more artificial, it’s good to have moments like this where we can hold on to older and more slow-paced days. The idea of the Village Green is definitely an idealistic one but one we should all go to every now and then to remind ourselves that it’s ok to slow down every once in awhile.

Also getting some peace of mind isn’t bad either.

Song of Choice: Picture Book

-Bosco

p.s Funnily enough, all this talk about the world being artificial and I was listening to Kraftwerk’s “The Man Machine” while writing this. Pure coincidence, did not do that on purpose.

 

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1001 Albums: The Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter

#109

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Artist: The Incredible String Band

Album: The Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter

Year: 1968

Length: 49:51

Genre: Psychedelic Folk

“There is no land
The night is all around my child
You must stop imagining all this
You must stop imagining all this
For your own good
Why don’t you go with the rest and play downstairs”

Why did I listen to this?

What was this?

Like I know why I did, it was the next album on the list obviously. I had to listen to it. But what was I listening to exactly? Psychedelic Folk definitely perfectly describes this album to a tee. Blending the two definitely makes for an intriguing and interesting sound that I am sure is beloved by many (and doing my research it really is) but could easily turn you off. For me, this album just irritated the crap out of me. It felt like it never ended and I wanted desperately for it to end. It just grated in my ears throughout the entire run time and I was just so annoyed that I was ready to just skip every song (but didn’t because I have a challenge that I have accepted and will succeed in accomplishing). 40 minutes felt like 40 hours at times. Once it was finally over I felt like I had been newly awakened from a long slumber, a changed man.

Here we find the Incredible String Band doing their best medieval Troubadour impression, felt almost like parody than anything and whereas I usually like the stylings of that medieval type music, here it just didn’t do it for me. His vocals were annoying and the high-pitched instrumentations just irritated me to no end (maybe it’s because I was already quite irritated to begin with but who knows?). I get what they were trying to do here and I admire it. They definitely are very skilled musicians and just threw everything they had at this album but god, I just couldn’t stand it. They have a 13-minute song that just feels like it goes on and on and on and on and never ends. I remember looking at my phone and thinking “I’m still on this fucking song??”.

If this is your type of music and you love this album, then by all means keep loving it, I have nothing against you, but for me it was a real struggle to sit through and it took all my energy not to scream and yell and hurl my phone out the window (which would have been a difficult task since I live in a basement apartment that barely even has windows to begin with).

This was easily a concept album and they definitely succeeded in pulling off the concept they were going for. I felt like I was sitting around a fire of some sort in the middle of the woods listening to some jolly little man play a lute and sing mythical tales to wow and thrill us. But… god… the frustration this album gave me is indescribable. I just had a difficult time listening to it and I really wish I could put into words why exactly that was but all I’m really left with is an emotion and feeling that lingered with me throughout the incredibly long 40-minute run time. I knew it wouldn’t be a good start from the beginning when the opening song didn’t feel like an opener but more like a song you’d find somewhere in the middle or even as a second song, but definitely not an opener, almost as if I started listening to the album in the middle, like I skipped a few songs by accident. But, nope, I didn’t.

Would I recommend this album? Yes, it’s a good album. I know a lot of people who would love it and I think they should check it out. I just couldn’t stand it.

Song of Choice: The Minotaur’s Song

-Bosco

 

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1001 Albums: Traffic

#108

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Artist: Traffic

Album: Traffic

Year: 1968

Length: 40:24

Genre: Blues Rock / Folk Rock

“Seems I got to have a change of scene
‘Cause every night I have the strangest dreams
Imprisoned by the way it could have been
Left here on my own or so it seems
I got to leave before I start to scream
But someone’s locked the door and took the key

You feelin’ alright?
I’m not feelin’ too good myself
Well, you feelin’ alright?
I’m not feelin’ too good myself”

Steve Winwood! Steve Winwood! Steve Winwood! Steve Winwood! STEVE WINWOOD!

Steve Winwood is my firetruck.

I know you absolutely no idea what that means and nope, I will not explain it to you. That’s my own special thing that I will keep to myself. And YOOOOOOOOOOU can’t do anything about it.

I’ve always been a fan of Traffic ever since I heard their song Paper Sun in my famous psychedelic music class. It’s also the only song I really ever heard by them (That and 40,00 headmen which is on this album), but I really liked it. SO I guess you could say I’m a pretty hardcore fan. One song is more than enough to know to be a fan. Right? RIGHT?!?!?!

I always liked Steve Winwood’s solo stuff even though the only song I really know is Valerie. I used to date a girl with that name and annoy her with that song. It was funny. So you know you can say Steve Winwood has really played a massive role in my life in many, many ways.

I listened to this album twice because I loved it so much, and not because I was doing the dishes the first time around and didn’t really hear the music that much because of the running water and felt it necessary to take a second listen to. No sirree, not at all. You better believe it.

In all fairness, I actually reall did love this album. It was the first time I got to listen to an entire album’s worth of Traffic music and I was very pleased with the journey it took me on. The biggest thing for me was how well it flowed from one song to another. Even with varying tunes, it managed to create seamless transitions form song to song where sometimes I didn’t even know if a new song started or not. I had to check to make sure. And despite it 40 minute length, it never felt that long. When the final song has come to an end I felt disappointed there wasn’t more. Maybe it’s because the final song didn’t really feel like a final song and didn’t give the album closure, but maybe it’s also because it was just a great listen that left you wanting more. Whichever is the truth is up to interpretation.

It’s always great when an album starts off with the band asking you to join them and sing along. Like they’re taking your hand and bringing you on a journey. They definitely sucked me in like that and boy was it a journey. I couldn’t tell if it was a happy or sad one though, for the most part the music seemed rather upbeat but lyrically I was getting some pretty depressing narratives. I always love that blend of cheery sadness in music and Traffic seemed to pull it off quite well. It left a sadness in my heart but a bounce in my step, which left me confused emotionally but pleasantly so. I mean where else are you gonna hear a song about a 13 year old homeless girl who gives herself up really easily to a fun beat? Probably lot’s of places (Zappa’s Teenage Prostitute comes to mind) but here it just fits the over-arcing vibe of the album. The song Feelin’ Alright resonated with me personally and as usual with these kinds of things, felt like it was putting into words certain emotions I was going through. it’s always nice to find something like that.

With a nice blend of pop tunes and more complex arrangements, the band seems to be really tight here, working together to support each other. There’s some fantastic flute solos here and there and some great organ sounds at points that add texture to the music. If this is folk rock, then it’s exactly the kind of folk rock I would love to hear more of and thankfully Traffic and Steve Winwood appear more on this list, so I will definitely be looking forward to that.

Song of Choice: Feelin’ Alright?

-Bosco

 

 

 

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1001 Albums: Beggars Banquet

#107

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Artist: The Rolling Stones

Album: Beggars Banquet

Year: 1968

Length: 39:44

Genre: Roots Rock / Country Blues

“Please allow me to introduce myself
I’m a man of wealth and taste
I’ve been around for a long, long year
Stole many a man’s soul to waste

And I was ’round when Jesus Christ
Had his moment of doubt and pain
Made damn sure that Pilate
Washed his hands and sealed his fate
Pleased to meet you
Hope you guess my name
But what’s puzzling you
Is the nature of my game”

Ever have one of those times in your life where you feel like you’re suffering Murphy’s Law? Anything that can go bad will go bad? Isn’t it funny how everything bad that can happen always seems to happen all at once, at the same time, rather than separated. That’s basically what’s been happening to me these past few weeks. Starting with a big change in my life that left me emotionally and mentally sick, it seems life has a way of beating down on you even more after it’s already pushed you in the mud. I’ll save you from the details because I promised in my last post I’d be more positive this time around (but I’ll be honest that an incredibly difficult task for me). I’m not even in a negative state, it’s like the pendulum has swung. I feel so beaten down I’m basically laughing at it. What else can go wrong? What else will happen??? I don’t know but it’s exciting anticipating it!!! I can’t wait to see what life has in store for me next. OH BOY!

On a positive note I am grateful for a lot of things. Sure a lot of people don’t care about me anymore and think of me in a negative way for their own judgemental reasons but fuck them, I don’t need that kind of negativity in my life. I have amazing parents who would honestly do anything for me. They taught me the virtues of Honesty and Trust, which I think a lot of people need to learn a lesson in, they taught me about preparing for your future and standing up for yourself and never tolerating bullshit. Also, if there was anyone to talk to, unlike some parents, they actually have opinions on things and are willing to give their perspective on things. Crazy I know. I have fantastic friends that I met in Toronto who are a million times better than the ones I ever had in Montreal (actually thanks to my new friends I realised those guys were not friends at all, ever, period. Sad it took me so long to realise). These new guys have had my back since I first met them a few months ago. They actually care about me and my well-being and actually encourage me to follow my goals (unlike some of my old friends who would either put me down or give me false compliments (because they want to look like their “nice guys”, the assholes). These new guys really are a treat and I’m grateful to have them in my life.

Ok, I know I come across as bitter and that’s because I am. These days (and my whole life really) I’ve been a really bitter 25 year old and it probably won’t stop there. I’ll be a curmudgeon old man, but I will learn to look past it. I’m already self aware enough to know all that, so admitting it is the first step to recovery.

Oh, yes, I also listened to Beggars Banquet sometime in the past week. Was glad to see The Rolling Stones return at the top of their game. Hadn’t heard from them since Aftermath (which was slightly disappointing as a whole) and boy did they ever come back. They broke down the door of this list and just waltzed in with this fantastic album. It’s the first time in my life where I heard country stylings and was like yup this is great. No doubts or questions. They used it perfectly here and fused it with rock so well that I didn’t give a shit that there was a country twang to it. Here we also find The Rolling Stones distancing themselves from their younger heyday and growing up into full-fledged cynical adults. This would be the beginning of an era of masterful proportions for The Rolling Stones and even though this is the album that opened that door, it is in no way just a gateway album. It’s much more.

The maturity of the album is definitely a huge plus and The Rolling Stones tackle more difficult subjects, putting their own frustrations and disdain for society into their music and creating a layered and adult record that stands above everything that came before it easily. It’s nice to see The Rolling Stones really coming to form finally and showing off what they really could do. It’s clear Jagger and Richards worked their ass off with this album and put all their soul and energy into creating something meaningful to them. Unfortunately the same can’t be said for Brian Jones, who’d stumble into the studio randomly and unexpectedly and just suddenly want to play sitar, even if the track they were recording had none. they would just let him do his thing in the studio and they wouldn’t even record it. That’s funny. Sad but funny.

This is also one of those albums that had a famously banned cover. They had to change it from the graffitied toilet to a boring blank background with the title in cursive (yawn). I guess the population really hated toilets or at least were so beyond offended with them they wouldn’t dare ever look at a picture of one. How they went to the bathroom everyday without being so offended is beyond me. The original cover is obviously much better and more eye-catching, but hey the public has spoken and when they speak, by god you better listen or god help you.

I was going to listen to this album a second time so I could really go more in depth. But then I have to remind myself, I’m not doing retrospectives or analysis or reviews (even if that does happen occasionally) I’m here to talk about my experience behind it. It’s a hefty album and I will definitely need more listens to truly grasp it all, but upon first listen (or second I first listened to this two years ago but don’t remember) you definitely feel the difference immediately from their previous efforts and there’s no denying this was a newly emerging Rolling Stones taking their place as a powerhouse of a band. I’m glad the Stones took the time to do this because without this feat we wouldn’t have what’s to come, and believe me what’s to come is not only great but the anticipation to listen to them is both torturing and exciting. Here’s to possibly five more years of The Stones on this list! (possibly… I don’t know exactly).

Song of Choice: Street Fighting Man

-Bosco

 

p.s. I’ll do my best to really pay attention with every album I listen to. My mind has just been unfocused hence the difficulty to go in depth for each album, but remember this is more about the experience of going through the list and first impressions. so whatever you know.

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My Top 100 Favourite Songs: Part 2

And here we are at Part 2! Compiling this list I realised it’s a slightly more absurd list especially compared to part 1 but what is life without a little absurdity right? No digressing, let’s get straight into part 2:

 

26. Every1’s A Winner – Hot Chocolate

I remember hearing this song in a movie and recognizing it but had no idea what the name was or who played it. It aggravated me because I needed to know what it was right away so I could listen to it on my own. I had heard it many times before and always loved it but could never find out what it was. But I eventually did and it was such a glorious moment playing this song on repeat over and over. It’s such a cool song that is perfect to just walk down the street confidently too. You can’t listen to this song and not feel good about yourself. It really helps that the singer keeps saying that everyone’s a winner and that’s no lie, which feels good to hear, especially when you’re down on your confidence. Their trademark guitar sound that riffs it up throughout is also a huge plus and adds a lot to this extremely cool ass song.

27. Femme Chinoise – Yellow Magic Orchestra

When I was going on my New Wave binge of listening to every New Wave band I could I fell upon YMO after hearing they were the Japanese equivalent of Kraftwerk, a band I absolutely love. Pioneers of video game style music, these guys were a band I just had to listen to and off their first album this song just stuck with me. I was addicted and couldn’t stop listening to it. I even had another friend become addicted to it. The mix of synthesizers with traditional Japanese sounds and a jumpy beat just was a perfect mix to keep me engaged. I can’t count how many times I used to listen to this song on repeat and everytime I listen to the album, the build-up to this song for me is just incredible.

28. Fichtl’s Lied – Die Woodys

I love novelty music. Something about things that are just so incredibly dumb that I just love. This was the perfect blend of awkward and stupid and it’s just so much fun. It’s hard not to be happy listening to this song because of how childish and poppy it is. Watching the video adds another layer of amusement to this that never ever fails to put a smile on my face. From their awkward playing to their dead stares to their smiles, it’s quite a magical experience. I have no idea what’s being said (because it’s in german) but it’ always my go to tune to make me feel happy because sometimes you have to just enjoy the little pleasures in life, no matter how much nonsense they are.

29. Fizzy Barf – Andrew Hung

In the summer of 2016 I saw a movie that completely changed my life at the Fantasia Film Festival. It was the most disgusting, absurd, vile, grotesque, over-the-top and just awfullly written film, but by-god I fucking loved it. It was The Greasy Strangler, a movie made purposefully as a high budget B-Movie, with awful dialogue, over the top gross-out scenes and purposefully bad acting. It was such a strange trip and reminded me of those troma films only this time with a high budget and good quality. The absurd sense of humour that permeated throughout captivated me and to this day there’s scenes I always go back and watch for how absurdly funny they are. One thing that stood out for me was the soundtrack and one song in particular, Fizzy Barf, that played plenty of times throughout always stuck with me long after the film was done. It’s those bass notes that play throughout the song that just stick in your head like a parasite and doesn’t leave. I’m not ashamed to admit I’ve listened to this song more times than I can count, especially in the last few months. It’s absolutely absurd, but I love it.

30. Fountain of Filth – Devo

I’m surprised it took this long for a Devo song to appear on my list. Devo, as literally everyone knows, is my favourite band. I’ve listened to everything Devo, from their entire discography, to live albums, to compilations of unreleased material. I own 24 Devo records on Vinyl. Choosing a favourite Devo song was incredibly difficult but this tune from their compilation Hardcore Devo Vol. 2 always stood out to me. It’s easily one of the songs I’ve listened to the most by them and I even had it as a ring tone for some time. It’s hard to tell what this song is about exactly, whether their referencing the BP Oil SPill in Akron or it’s a comment on man’s sexual or even just human desires and how we lose control from them. Mark’s calls of he’s got a hunger that makes him do things, think things and say things is always a great part of the song that I find myself singing to myself all the time. The fast Guitar riff mixed with Alan Meyer’s mechanical drum beat just adds to it and this gem before their debut album is probably the best part of their Hardcore Albums. When I saw them perform their Hardcore Tour I was anxiously awaiting them to play this song and they did and I absolutely lost my mind. it was amazing and in the words of Jerry Casale: ” We are all just living in one big Fountain of Filth”.

31. Gangsters – The Specials

I like ska music, especially two-tone ska from the 80s and the third wave of ska in the 90s. Never really delved into old school ska, but maybe one day I will. At the height of the two-tone ska movement was The Specials playing their way through bars and clubs, making fun of bouncers and having everyone skank away. They were raw and unfiltered and their song Gangsters never fails to have me up and dancing. The opening riff was one I remember eharing all the time, like one of those songs that you know you’ve ehard but didn’t lnow what it was, but I finally discovered it and absolutly loved it. Every iteration of that opening riff throughout the song just lights me up and the singers wails about living in a gangster world just fit perfectly together. Hugely influential in the ska world, this song was no exception for their catalogue.

32. Generals and Majors – XTC

XTC was one of the first New Wave bands I really got into. they have such a fascinating evolution as a band, satrting with an album that purposefully tried to be as annoying as possible and eventually turning into this incredibly artsy band with almost pretentious insights. For me the halfway mark between both these styles was their album Black Sea, which blended their early career and later career perfectly creating such a gem of an album. I almost went with their song Living Through Another Cuba for their infectious bass, but the more I thought about it the more I realised I love this one way more. I find myself listening to it all the time. That opening guitar riff barges in and keeps you hooked and the singer’s “Generals and Majors always seem so unhappy unless they got a war” over that banging drum beat and the whistling riff that follows it… everything about this song seems precisely done and super tight and creates one of the greatest New Wave tunes I’ve ever heard. I always get excited thinking of this song and I find it perfectly representative of what this band is capable of and their sound.

33. Get a Grip On Yourself – The Stranglers

The musical disillusionment of The Stranglers talking about getting a grip on yourself and how you’re naive to think you’ll actually make money playing music in bars is both great and slightly ironic (they were very successful as a band) but this is from their debut and I guess they were fed up of seeing all these young-fresh-eyed bands coming onto the scene with the belief they were going to become rich and famous to which The Stranglers responded with this song. What really brings the song together though and has it stand above most rock tunes is Dave Greenfield’s keyboard playing. He is honestly one of the most underrated key players and this song is a perfect example of how amazing he is. He slips and slides with ease across his keyboard and makes it seem completely effortless. And with his barrage of non-stop notes he even manages to create a riff that is catchy as hell. My goal is to one day be able to play Dave Greenfield’s parts on my keyboard, but until then I’ll just enjoy the song on repeat.

34. The Ghost of Stephen Foster – Squirrel Nut Zippers

A few years ago I performed in a school touring of Midsummer Night’s Dream. I’d like to thank that show for introducing me to this swing revival band. Their album Perrenial Favourites is a… favourite of mine and this song off that album is a solid stand out for me. In the show it was used as the first introduction to The Mechanicals and everytime that part came up in the show I always got excited. From the initial guitar notes to the fast paced horn section and the swingin’ beat, it was the perfect formula for the kind of music I love and I was immediately addicted. I often forget about this song and it’s always a pleasant surprise when it appears on my playlist, like a gentle reminder that this is a song I still love even after all these years. It’s a great throwback to the swing era and the music video that accompanies it is in the style of those 30s era black and white cartoons and is just fantastic.

 

35. Ghostdancing – Simple Minds

Once in awhile you encounter a song that surprises you. Mainly in the sense that you don’t expect it to be something you’d like especially in comparison to everything else you love. This is one of those songs. I always sort of liked Simple Minds, but this song stood out to me. I didn’t love it at first but I found it growing on me and kept finding myself wanting to hear it again and again. Something about the opening guitar riff that sways from ear to ear and then the sudden drum beat kicking in that always gets me. The singer does a great job at bringing it all together singing his heart out and the band just seems to be tighter than usual. It’s a nice gem of a song that I always find myself going back to.

36. Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! – Abba

I love Abba, it’s up there as one of my favourite bands. Their music is eclectic enough that they have a little bit for everyone, but it’s their disco era that always gets me going. This b-side from their Voulez Vouz record (it’s not on the actual album believe it or not. I found out the hard way) is my all-time favourite Abba tune. If you ever want to see me really get into a song and sing along and dance, then all you have to do is play this tune around me. That famous riff constantly resonates in my ears (mistakenly considered a Madonna riff since she sampled it) and the girls have that right sense of longing and solitude with a mix of flair that gets this disco tune above others as being more than just for dancing, it’s actually layered. It’s one of those songs I love to blare loudly in my car as I drive down the street just to see the confused faces of passerbys. But anyone who likes music likes Abba and this song is no exception.

37. Gloria – Umberto Tozzi / Laura Branigan

Another song to hits my Italian roots. With this one though I didn’t know which one to pick, the Umberto Tozzi version or the Laura Branigan one because they’re both fantastic. Laura Branigan shines on this song and the original just sounds so great in italian. The perfect version would have been Laura Branigan singing in Italian, but alas we have these two separately and must pick and choose when it comes to listening to it. This was always a staple at parties and every time it comes on you can be sure the family will be singing along to it. I’ve definitely seen my mom get excited about it, and how can you not, it’s a fantastic song all around. I realise I just keep saying every song on this list is a great song, but this one really is. Everytime I listen to it my head is constantly filled with visions of my mom’s small village she grew up in and the sense of community it had. I know that has nothing to do with the song, but that’s what this song does to me and why I hold it dear to my heart. This one is for you Mom.

 

38. Hate You – Reel Big Fish

Sometimes when you’re angry the best way to let it out is with one big FUCK YOU. No need to be subtle or passive aggressive, just direct and to the point. That’s why I love this song so much. Singing “I hate you, fuck you, leave me alone” at the top of your lungs is so liberating and meditative. There’s so many people I would love to say this to but instead of doing that (because that would be counter-productive and horrible) I crank on this song and just let out all my anger in a therapeutic way. It especially helps if you’re at a Reel Big Fish concert in the mosh pit letting out your aggression in dance form in close proximity to others doing the same. Pure fury and rage in one song just let out in the most honest and direct way is sometimes the only way to do it and when I’m having a rather rage-filled moment towards someone I loathe I listen to this song and pretend I’m singing it to them (I would never send them the song though). It’s all about irrational envy and anger and it’s good to have a song to help you alleviate that negativity rather than having it explode out of you one day at the wrong moment.

 

39. Health Angel – P-Model

Another case where I have no idea what’s being said in the song at all. Japanese punk/new wave band that used synthesizers in really absurd ways that i really love. Those opening notes are odd enough to have you interested and I honestly just really love the way the chorus is sung. After I first heard it I found myself singing the chorus to myself, didn’t know the words so it was mostly gibberish I was repeating, but the tune was there. It’s just a fast-paced rockin’ japanese song that I really like. Simple as that.

40. Hip to be Square – Huey Lewis and the News

I know what you’re thinking, so I’ll say it right now. No I didn’t like this song because of American Psycho. No I didn’t discover Huey lewis and the News because of Patrick Bateman. However I do love this song for the exact reasons he says in the movie. The band basically getting old and poking fun of themselves for settling down and hanging up their rebellious younger days is some great tongue in cheek fun and it’s only accentuated by the rhythm section having a blast performing it. I actually discovered Huey Lewis through Back to the Future and knew this song before watching American Psycho, but I will say his monologue about it really did seal the deal for me loving this song and gave me insight I didn’t really know before, so sure it gets some credit. I like the idea of a rock song that subverts the typical lyrical content of a rock song and this one does it very well. Plus, as a dorky guy, Hip to be Square feels like a life motto more than anything.

41. I Die: You Die – Gary Numan

Gary Numan made a career making soundtracks to machines. His songs were always tunes that were from perspectives of robots or related to the relationship between man and his machines. I think this in part to do with the fact he had Asperger’s and had difficulty connecting to humans and he himself felt that, but with I Die: You Die, there’s something transcendental about Gary Numan. Here we find him incredibly emotional and just oozing with human connection. Everytime he yells out the chorus it just tugs at your heart strings and makes you want to shed a tear. To call this one of his best is an understatement and it’s honestly a beautiful song that’s just filled with feeling that is expelled from deep within. Everytime I listen to it I always feel inspired and uplifted (even if it’s not particularly an uplifting song, but it still has that affect on me) and never fails to help me move forward.

 

42. I Feel Love – Donna Summer

When I was a kid I loved disco music. You can even say it was the first genre of music I got into. I just really loved to dance and disco music was great music to get you up on your feet and shaking your booty. Donna Summer (or Summers as I have been calling her wrongly all these years) was definitely at the top of the list. Hot Stuff was a perosnal favourite but it wasn’t until I heard I Feel Love that I fell in love with Donna Summer. Giorgio Morodor’s production on this song is absolutely stunning and everytime she sings I feel looooooooove it gives me chills. It’s less of a dancey song and more of a disco experience where you plug your headphones in and get lost in the moment of the music.  Every time I listen to it the 7 minute time length feels like it zooms by and I still feel like it’s not long enough, I keep wanting more and more and wish it would never end. It’s such a great feeling to have when listening to a song and I’m glad this one does it for me.

43. I Get Around – The Beach Boys

I know I’m a big New Wave fan but I have a soft spot for surf rock. No idea why, something bout those beach vibes that I can’t get enough of. I went through a phase trying to listen to as much surf rock music I could get my hands on and even tried to create my own (in my head because I don’t know how to play guitar). The Beach Boys were big in the genre and this song in particular is one I always go back to. I even went as far as green screening myself into the video. It’s just a ton of fun as a song, from the opening chords to the harmonies to the wawaoooos, its hard not to sing along and just bounce to it. There’s a lot of Beach Boys songs I love but none come close to the listen count on this one. It also helps that it’s nice and short so you don’t even get a chance to get annoyed by it, which is great.

44. I Palindrome I – They Might Be Giants

“Someday mother will die and I’ll get the money. Mom leans down and says “My sentiments exactly, you son of a bitch” I Palindrome I”. These opening lyrics are enough to really set the mood of what’s going on in this song. What I love most about They Might Be Giants is their absurd sense of humour and their clever use of words to create songs that both make sense and are complete nonsense at the same time. I’m unable to decipher what’s going on in this song and what the relevance of palindromes are (i’m sure it’s there, maybe I’m too dumb to figure it out) but I don’t care because this song packs a punch every time I hear it and the duo of John and John really shine on this tune. It’s a perfect example of They Might Be Giants and their weird quirkiness and my go to song when introducing people to the band.

45. Icky Thump – The White Stripes

a long time ago, an ex of mine had left her White Stripes Cd in my car (back when I drove a Mini van). This was before the time that you could easily plug ipods into your car to listen to (not a comment on my age but on how quickly technology has developed in a short period of time), I had to get one of those plugs that went into the cigarette lighter, But this was a time where I was burning my own compilation cds to have music to listen to in the car. Either way, this White Stripes cd was left in my car and the opening track was this strange song. It was so weird because the first time I heard it I thought it was terrible, the riff was just clunky and awkward and the tune was just annoying. But I found myself oddly addicted to it. I kept going back to it over and over. It eventually heavily grew on me and I now see it for the amazing piece of alternative rock that it really is. The weird riff is possibly one of my favourite riffs I’ve ever heard and Jack White’s screeching vocals are so much fun to emulate. I even sang it at karaoke once to the wide-eyed stares of everyone in the bar. They didn’t expect what they got.  A guy even came to me and was like “that was entertaining. Didn’t like the song but you really sold it there. Fun stuff”. I’d love to learn the guitar just to be able to play this song and screech and wail whenever I want. I could do that already but it really helps to have the guitar track with you, adds that extra oomph.

46. Ideas For Walls – Men Without Hats

Ever have those feelings of isolation where you feel like you’re constantly talking and venting but no one is actually listening, you’re just talking to the walls? Men Without Hats managed to capture that feeling perfectly in this song expressing their feelings of giving ideas for walls. Its another upbeat song that has rather sad lyrics, but moments like that are always a strange bitter-sweet. As much as there is a sadness to moments like that there’s always the underlying feeling of a racing heart and possible aggression. Everytime the singer belts out “Ideas for waaaaaaaaaaalls” you get that sense of longing to just be heard and it connects with me every time. Also, not gonna lie I think it’s a lot of fun as a song and gets me pumped up every time I hear it. It’s always been one that stayed with me years and years later after listening to it and I always go back to it over and over. It just never fails to get me going.

47. It’s Not Cricket – Squeeze

I always seem to like the weirdest songs from bands. Like no one I know likes the same songs I do from every band, I always seem to pick the most unusual and left field choice. This is easily one of them. Out of all the songs in the squeeze catalogue, I highly doubt anyone would ever expect someone to pick this one. But I did and I absolutely love it due to it’s quirky sound. The bell sounds, chorus, and storytelling of people in the town and their sexual encounters just seems to be something that really caught me. I didn’t even know what That’s Not Cricket even meant until a british person told me (It means That’s not fair) which now makes the whole song make more sense to me, the idea of telling stories but you won’t name names because that wouldn’t be fair to them. Knowing that it makes sense why I love this song. I’m a firm believer of not sharing names when telling stories. I’ll vent about people and share what happened but I don’t like to name names because it’s not fair for that person as they aren’t there to defend themselves and naming names only makes the person you’re telling the story to to suddenly have this opinion of this person from your story. My friend can vouch for that. Everytime I talk about someone, he always says who? I tell him everytime, I’m not naming names, but he gives me crap for it so I end up anyway and I hate it. Either way point is, this song is quite the quirky one in the Squeeze catalogue and I love it.

48. It’s the End of the World as We Know It – REM

The song famous for it’s fast-talking almost non sensical lyrics that everyone tries to sing along to and fail miserably at. My goal was to learn the lyrics and succeed at singing it, and I have on multiple occasions. This is one of the earliest songs I got addicted to. It was probably the fast-paced lyrics that did it for me but it’s also that chorus that just sticks in your head every time you hear it. It’s the end of the woooorld as we knoooow it. Reading that you probably now have it in your head too. It’s just an infectious song and everytime you hear that opening drum roll, you’re right there ready to sing along badly. It’s become an iconic song and no matter what I always seem to find myself going back to it in some capacity. It will never leave me alone.

49. In a Big Country – Big Country

Big Country, the band that managed to have their guitars sound like bagpipes. I always found it weird when a band had a song that shared a title with the band name… it’s unusual and kind of throws you off, but nevertheless it always seems to be a staple for the band (I guess sharing the name with it will do that). Big Country really bring out the life of living in a big country with this song, from bagpiping guitar riffs to large drum beats that bring about visions of sweeping landscapes, it’s another song that creates an experience and manages to capture a vibe and feeling very well. It’s hard for me not to listen to this song and not feel a little fire burning inside my soul (a good fire, the kind that makes you feel warm and calm). Everytime those bagpipe guitars pop up it’s always the ebst part of the song and thankfully they do it quite a bit throughout. Thinking about it, I actually haven’t listened to this song in quite awhile and talking about it makes me want to really badly now. Excuse me for a few minutes…

50. In the Hall of the Mountain King – Edvard Grieg

I had to put at least one classical song on this list. There’s a ton that I love (yes I love classical music, I have eclectic tastes, so what) but this one always manages to stand out from the rest. I even own the Edvard Grieg suite that includes this on vinyl and it’s fantastic (I didn’t realise that famous good morning song was also Edvard Grieg which was a pleasant surprise, but not relevant right now). As far as classical music goes, this was the first one I really got into, having listened to it as a kid and constantly trying to sing it to myself with ideas of movie scenes that it could play over (even at the ripe young age of 9 I was coming up with movie ideas, they were terrible then though). What I always loved about this song was the build-up. This song knows how to build up the suspense to that incredible climax. It makes sense why so many movies use it because it’s the perfect song to use for oncoming danger. You know it’s coming and you see it coming but it can happen at any minute and boom. That build-up is insane, getting slightly more intense with more instruments and speeding up until the ultimate climax of the song, gaaaahhhhhh. I’m done, it’s too much for me.

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1001 Albums: I Never Loved A Man The Way I Love You

#106

Album_106_Original.jpg

Artist: Aretha Franklin

Album: I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You

Year: 1967

Length: 32:51

Genre: Southern Soul / RnB

“You’re a no good heart breaker
You’re a liar and you’re a cheat
And I don’t know why
I let you do these things to me
My friends keep telling me
That you ain’t no good
But oh, they don’t know
That I’d leave you if I could

I guess I’m uptight
And I’m stuck like glue
Cause I ain’t never
I ain’t never, I ain’t never, no, no (loved a man)
(The way that I, I love you)”

Sigh…

I was doing my best to avoid getting around to this album when I saw it was next, not because I dislike Aretha Franklin or anything but more because of it’s content. It’s happened a few times that the albums I’ve listened to have had content that paralleled what was going on in my life at the time and this sadly seemed to be one of them. If you replace the word man in the album title with woman then that about fits the exact sentiment I had been feeling these days. There’s ups and downs as always, lots of anger, sadness, regret, grief, shame, relief, a real mixed bag of emotions that never seems to let up. It’s normal, it happens, you gotta live through it. Nobody said it would be easy, but things like this are always the most difficult. A lot of playing the blame game, falling on yourself especially and feeling hurt and lost and alone, especially when you hit that point that you believe it’s all your fault, but the reality is it’s never one perosn’s fault, both are to blame and that’s just the way it is. I can’t keep beating myself up and constantly making myself feel like I was an insane person for anything, it’s not healthy for me and just spirals me down even further (especially when I’ve been made to feel like I was a crazy person who couldn’t handle things)… I digress though…

So yeah, I’ve been going through a rough time these days and I was afraid this album would trigger some unwanted emotions.

I’m happy to say it didn’t and I was able to enjoy it for what it was. Aretha Franklin is one hell of a singer and can belt out a song like no one else can. She has so much force in her voice that it hits you right to the core of your soul (I feel like I’ve used that sentence twice in the past two days). I don’t know if she’s considered the Queen of soul, but if she is, she rightfully deserves that title. There’s so much soul in this album you can feel every emotion and feeling that Aretha is going through on every note. You really believe what she’s singing and it’s actually kind of sad at first, but the second half of the album really feels hopeful and that was kind of nice to hear by the end of it as it started to make me feel hopeful as well. Hopeful for what’s to come, my future and everything. I believe so… and Aretha helped me through that. I wish she was 25 because it’s hard not to love this  woman.

When Aretha isn’t singing about heartbreak or lovin her man or doing right, she opens the album with an Otis Redding cover (a great contender for possibly one of the best covers ever) that completely re purposes the original meaning of the song. Where Redding’s version was a man asking for respect from his wife because he gives her everything and feels she doesn’t appreciate it, here Franklin turns it into a feminist anthem asking her man to respect her. It’s fantastic and Aretha sells it like no other. It doesn’t stop at that song, she really gives her all throughout the entire album and it really is nice. The album does make a sudden shift by the end of it and you feel like you left a different album than what you entered, but it’s still worth it until the end.

I was actually shocked to find out this was her tenth album. It honestly felt like a debut or at least second or third, but tenth? I don’t know what she was doing before this one, but I’m glad she finally found her rhythm to crank this one out. Listening to it made me think of one of my favourite comedy films of all time “Blues Brothers”, because she makes an appearance singing in it. Apparently they had to do so many takes because she was horrible at Lip-Syncing her own songs. Funny, but a real testament to her talent that she only ever performs live and never relies on backing tracks to help her. I actually kind of want to watch Blues Brothers now…

I know what I’m doing tomorrow.

Song of Choice: Save Me

-Bosco

P.s. Apologies for the moodiness. I Promise my next post will be more upbeat and cheery.

 

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My Top 100 Favourite Songs: Part 1

I decided to take a mini break (one of many it seems) from listening to the 1001 Albums list and wanted to take a look at my own tastes and likes. I love music, always have and always will, and like anyone who does, I have songs that I constantly go back to and listen to on a loop, or can sing by heart (not always well), or have listened to so many times I know every little detail of it.

Making a little pit-stop here, I thought it would be fun to share songs that I love, possibly to give insight into my own personal tastes in music but also maybe to help you the reader discover new things as well that maybe you never heard of!

For the sake of the list (because 100 songs is quite a bit) I chose to put them in alphabetical order to make everyone’s lives that much easier and have included a link to the song as well for your listening pleasure (or displeasure depending on your own tastes).

Without further ado, here are my Top 100 Favourite songs of all time (Subjective of course):

1. 88 Lines about 44 Women – The Nails

Well, didn’t expect to start with this song when I was randomly compiling the list. What a song to start on too. The Nails were a short lived band but managed to create an interesting album with their debut Mood Swing. On it is this incredibly simplistic yet infectious song that just speaks lines about a wide assortment of women of completely different backgrounds and worlds. It’s really just that, nothing more. But what I love about it is Marc Campbell’s monotonous and apathetic delivery of the lines which gives off almost a dark comedy type of vibe and the infectious bass line that permeates throughout. Here is proof that sometimes taking a simpler route is much more effective than being complex. There’s absolutely nothing complicated musically about this song but it works so well. Even the humming that appears after every couple of lines sticks in your head. Nothing much more to it, just a cool tune all around.

 

2. Along Comes Mary – The Association

Here’s a song from my famous psychedelic music class I took back in University. Don’t know what it was about this tune that struck a chord with me, but the minute I heard it I couldn’t stop listening to it. Maybe it was the harmonies or the main vocalists fast singing or even that fantastic recorder solo (yes you read that correctly, a recorder solo) or maybe all these elements combined that just did it for me. Something about a song referencing marijuana use with an absolute 60s vibe that just sticks with you. There’s no denying it’s pretty damn catchy and will probably get stuck in your head. I always find myself returning to this song after periods of not listening to it and still enjoying it every time, especially trying my best to sing along to it (and not always doing a great job).

3. Antmusic – Adam and the Ants

What I find to be the anthem for underground music everywhere, Antmusic is at the top of my all-time favourite songs. I absolutely love this song and find myself singing it all the damn time wherever I am. This wasn’t only a response to the critcism from Adam and the Ants about their music but a response for all new wave/post-punk music that was getting a bad rap for not being mainstream enough. With Adam Ant’s declarations to turn off the jukebox because the music has gone stale and his jabs at the radio telling the youth what they should enjoy, it becomes a declaration of one’s own artistic integrity and want to stand out with their own voice rather than becoming another generic pop song, even expressing to the youth to have their own opinions and not fall for it all. It’s a bold stand against it all and Adam and the Ants have no fear expressing exactly how they feel about it all. Remember “don’t tread on ant, you cut off it’s head, legs come looking for you”.

4. The Bad Touch – The Bloodhound Gang

The Bloodhound gang is one of those bands that you have to take them for what they are. They’re the musical equivalent to an r-rated teen sex comedy and to be honest, there’s nothing wrong with enjoying that once in awhile. Bloodhound Gang never pretends to be more than what they present, a fun r-rated band that is just here to have the most fun they possibly can. The Bad Touch is a perfect example of what they’re trying to do and it’s one hell of a fun song. If there’s one thing the Bloodhound Gang is really good at is innuendos and this song is chock-full of it. Add in a danceable beat and a memorable synth riff and you’ve got a nasty earworm that sticks in your head. This has become a staple for me at Karaoke nights and one of the first songs I learned all the lyrics too. There’s absolutely no way you can’t just have fun with this one. All you need to do is check your brain at the door and enjoy for what it is.

5. Ballroom Blitz – Sweet

I remember hearing this song for the first time when I was around 9 or 10 years old and was immediately hooked. From that opening drum beat, that iconic riff, the screeching vocals and the famous chorus of “And the man in the back said everyone attacked and it turned into a Ballroom Blitz”. From beginning to end this was one hell of a ride. It was one of those songs that I used to think to myself “How did they come up with this?”. It just felt seamless from the soothing vocal part to the crazy action, it just never failed to get me going. It really builds up to that famous chorus amazingly and keeps you stuck the whole way through ready to partake in a ballroom blitz of your own.

6. Beetlejuice Theme Song – Danny Elfman

Now for something a little different. Still technically a song but this time it’s from a film score. The main theme to Beetlejuice has always been my absolute favourite movie theme song. It sets the tone perfectly for the whole film, bouncy, halloweeny with a dark twist to it. Any dark comedy wishes they had a theme like this, but alas Danny Elfman did it with this Tim Burton classic. Every time that drum roll kicks in and the horns blare out I feel my soul leap out of my body and start dancing a jog over my lifeless corpse. I don’t think I’ve listened to a main theme as much as this one and it’s one I always use as inspiration for music to my own films (I’ve used it for two films so far). Never gets old for me.

7. Blue Monday – New Order

It’s the bass. That synth bass gets me every single time to the point it’s one of my favourite songs to play on my keyboard just because I love that synth bass riff so much. Beyond that the drum kick and other synth parts collectively bring this new wave classic together in a way that’s so hard to describe and must be experienced firsthand to truly get it. I love to strut my stuff to this song. New Order managed to create a dance song with such a dark vibe to it. Beneath it all is this underlying cynism and darkness that adds some great layers to an overall great tune. I always catch myself returning to it every once in awhile and it still manages to get me everytime.

 

8. Bobby Brown – Frank Zappa

Frank Zappa was openly calling out, mocking and making fun of self-entitled douchebags who think they’re hot shit and are owed any women they want as if their objects for their own personal desire long before the whole #MeToo movement happened. The perfect song for when the Brock Turner incident happened, Zappa manages to perfectly satirize these assholes by singing a song from their point-of-view. Upon first listen it might come across as extreme if you don’t get the satire (and let’s be honest satire flies over the heads of the stupid) but when you get it, Bobby Brown becomes one of Zappa’s greatest songs and it’s one that I just cannot stop listening to. The build-up of the whole story to Bobby Brown’s eventual outcome is just beautiful storytelling in that way that only Zappa can deliver with his dry and witty sense of humour. Zappa was a smart man and this is a perfect example of that observational intellect he possessed.

 

 

9. Bunkers – The Vapors

My first intention was to go with The Vapors’ hit Turning Japanese, which is my number 1 go to song for karaoke, but after thinking about it decided to go with their very unknown song from their first album Bunkers. There was always something about this song that just connected with me. Lyrically the singer delves into themes of uncertainty and feeling lost (which are sentiments I’ve felt for a long time, especially these days). The ideas behind the song definitely resonated with me and musically the sad yet energetic instrumentals just supported it very well. It was just a song that seemed to have struck a chord with me and after all this time stood out as my favourite Vapors song. Their vocalisation of “I have no idea where to go from here, maybe that’s why we’re living in Bunkers” just gets me every time and always sticks with me long after the song is done.

10. Burning Down the House – Talking Heads

What can I say? I’m a stickler for odd vocals and instrumentation. The Talking Heads were always masters at having that perfect blend of weird and artistic integrity without ever going to much to one side. Burning Down the House was the song that introduced me to them and will always hold a special place in my heart as being one of the first new wave songs I really got into. I originally fell in love with the Live version from their stop making sense tour which is a much more fast-paced and energised version, but after awhile the original album version grew on me to the point that I like it even better. David Byrne really knows how to sell a certain mood through both his singing and playing and here the band really comes together to make one strange yet fascinating tune. Everytime the synth notes hit midpoint, it always makes my heart drop in the best way possible. Whether you like the Speaking in Tongues version or the Stop Making Sense version, it’s still one to be remembered.

 

11. Ca Plane Pour Moi – Plastic Bertrand

A fast-paced, french punk song about a one night stand that has a catchy chorus that stick sin your head with every OOOOOOOO that’s sung. What’s not to love about it. For those who don’t know, yes I do speak french and understand what he’s saying. I have even gone so far as to take on the challenge to learn all the lyrics and sing it and have even come up with a version of it sung with an anglophone accent. I honestly can’t get enough of this song. When those opening chords start playing I’m hooked and won’t stop until the song has stopped. Not many songs manage to keep me sitting all the way through and this one manages to do it 98% of the time to the point that when I do listen to it I find myself playing it on repeat at least three times. It’s just non-stop energy and constant winks to the audience that it’s no surprise I love it as much as I do.

12. Cheesies and Gum – Martha and the Muffins

I have no idea why I love this song as much as I do. It’s mostly an instrumental song except for the few moments of the singer singing “Cheesies and Gum”. No idea what the significance of it is, but as far as instrumentals go I find it to be a ton of fun. With a mix of great synth hooks and some sweet sax moments it just feels like a nice little chocolate dessert I can enjoy every time it pops up on my spotify playlist. It’s one of those songs that you really like but can’t really explain why, you just do and you just love listening to it over and over, which I am not ashamed to say I have. Sometimes it’s just that simple.

*NOTE: They don’t have it on youtube, but it is on Spotify if you want to check it out*

13. Chips on my Shoulder – Soft Cell

Anyone who knows me knows I can be a really bitter person. I admit it, I have my moments of bitterness and that’s probably why I love this song so much. Hearing Soft Cell complain about chips on their shoulders, a comment on comparing your own problems to larger world ones and facing the hypocrisy of people and their preachy vows. Hearing Marc Almond exclaim “Misery, Complaints, Self-Pity, Injustice” every time the chorus hits is just beauty to my ears and I can never help but sing along to it. He really has a way with his delivery that just sells a song and along with the bouncy bass and crackling popcorn like synth notes, the song just never ceases to satisfy me. It’s another case where the instrumentation just supports the themes superbly well and brings it to life, creating a mood and vibe rather than just a song. This is one I can just never skip.

14. Con Te Partiro – Andrea Bocelli

Sometimes I like classy music. Yes, even I can have moments of class. Con Te Partiro is one of the most beautiful songs I have ever heard and Andrea Bocelli sings it with so much emotion, belting out every note with such force that it hits you right to the core of your being and soul. If you can sit through this without shedding a metaphorical tear of pure beauty then you my friend are a person with your own tastes and opinions and I respect that (but seriously… come on, dude). One of the greatest moments of my life was when me and my friend Luis found the original italian version at karaoke. This was a song we both loved and were addicted to and we were over the hills with excitement and finding it and getting a chance to sing it together as a loving duet. The bartenders loved it so much that they had us do it again as the final song (which was ruined by our drunk friend who was jealous that he couldn’t redo a song to and kept begging the bartenders to let him go and they did… but I digress). I also feel it brings me closer to my Italian heritage, which I’ve always had a connection with that I constantly want to get closer to. This has been the closest I’ve come to feeling it. A time to say goodbye has never been uttered with as much bitter-sweet sadness and joy at the same time.

15. Dancing (Lasha Tumbai) – Verka Seduchka

I love Dance music. I Love novelty music. I love accordions. This song perfectly blends all three of these elements creating a tune that I just absolutely adore. This absolutly strange yet fun song was originally presented on Eurovision (of course it was) with as much campiness, glamour and style as anything that has ever been on that stage. Verka Seduchka, a drag queen in flashy silver and large breasts, sings away as a bald accordion player kills the shit out of it and two effeminate men dance away. There’s also two women who belt out back-up vocals with as much glee as the rest of the team and all this is done with the pure intention to have as much of a party as they possibly can. If there was ever a song that inspired me to play the accordion, it’s this one. This left such an impression on me that I even learned the dance from the performance by heart. Insanity at it’s best.

16. Dare to be Stupid – Weird Al Yankovic

As I write this, I am currently listening to my Weird Al records that came in the special edition Weird Al Squeeze Box (shaped like an accordion of course). I had just finished listening to the album Dare To Be Stupid a few minutes ago, so it’s rather fitting I am now talking about the title song (pure coincidence by the way). As a Weird Al fan, I always loved his original songs way more than his parodies. What he did best was take the sound of a band and create a wholly original song in the style of said band. Nowhere throughout his catalogue did he do it better than with Dare to be Stupid, the Devo homage. Everyone knows Devo is my favourite band, so I can tell you first-hand he nailed it with this one. He captured their essence and sound to a tee. In the words of Mark Mothersbaugh: ” It’s the perfect Devo song and I essentially hate him for it”. It’s thanks to this song that I discovered Devo and it will always hold a place in my heart for being the ultimate gateway to the music I love today. Even the music video manages to bring in every single Devo reference you can possibly think of. Weird Al clearly knew what he was doing with this one and nailed it.

17. Degenerations – Mes Aieux

Here’s another song that relates to my heritage, but this time on my dad’s side. I’m a french canadian, bon and raised in Quebec. I was always raised with mostly american pop culture and wasn’t exposed to much from Quebec, except through my cousins who didn’t speak english. And even then we consumed products like Pokemon and Ninja Turtles. As I grew older I eventually started to get exposed to more Quebec art, mainly films but some music as well. Traditional Quebec music seems to have it’s roots in folk and country. Picture a cabane a sucre with a lot of folk dancing. Quebecers love their line dancing. This song take a piece from traditional Quebec music, incorporating fiddles and folk like harmonies. The first half of the song is the vocalists singing over a drum beat about the different generations and their differences, ending with how despite being different, the thing that never changed was how they all loved to party. On this we are met with an instrumental that even if you’re not the kind, makes you want to get up and just dance one hell of a jig. It’s such a great song straight out of Quebec and I feel deserves more exposure than it’s getting. It’s simply beautifully done.

 

18. Don’t Go – Yazoo

I used to know how to play this song on my keyboard. I haven’t played it in so long I have no idea if I still remember it. I’m sure if I try I’ll figure it out eventually, but it’ll be incredibly rusty at first. When I was first discovering synth pop, this was one of the first songs I had heard and it always left an impression on me. Vince Clarke’s synth arrangements mixed with Alison Moyet’s deep and jazzy vocals just seemed to be great mix that worked very well and this song is emblematic of the duo’s sound (this and probably Situation) but my go to will always be this one. With an upbeat tempo and down low lyrics, it always manages to get me moving especially when the bass synths take a forefront for a couple of notes (you’ll know when you hear it). Alongside the instrumentation it’s really Alison Moyet’s vocals that sells it. She has such a powerful voice that exudes so much feeling and longing for her subject she’s singing to that you can’t help but feel it with her. Even when she yells it never gets grating and comes off as completely believable and real. I haven’t heard this one in quite some time actually, but I’m happy I’ll get a chance to listen to it once again.

19. Don’t Stop Me Now – Queen

What can I really say about Queen that hasn’t been said already? Yes Freddie Mercury is a great singer. Yes their music is amazing. Yes Queen is an amazing band, yadda yadda yadda. We’ve all heard it a million times. That being said, I’ve always loved Queen and Don’t Stop Me Now has always been my go to Queen song for every occasion. I mean sure it would have been easy to pick Bohemian Rhapsody (because literally everyone does) or even I Want to Break Free or Somebody to Love  or We Are The Champions, but none of them seem to have the sheer energy of this one. I mean it is called Don’t Stop ME Now and Freddie Mercury makes no sign of wanting to stop (except when the song actually stops but whatever). I mean he doesn’t get called Mr. Fahrenheit for no reason. By the end of this song you actually feel out of breath because there is no stopping for breaks, once the thrill ride starts, it starts and shows no sign of stopping until the final notes of the song. (It’s also used spectacularly well in one of my favourite movie scenes in Shaun of the Dead). I can’t help it, I have a soft spot for fast-paced high energy songs. He starts the song by telling us he’s gonna have a good night and feels alive, and anyone who listens to this song immediately gets that burst of energy fill inside them. It’s the perfect song to start a night out on the town with your best friends to set the mood. Once this starts, there’s no stopping me now.

20. Dread Love – Nina Hagen

I’ve recently discovered the amazing weirdness that is Nina Hagen. For those who don’t know, Nina Hagen is less of a singer and more of a theatrical voice actor, using her voice in the strangest ways, from high-pitched wails to deep demonic chants. She’s here to entertain through song and it’s all one hell of a performance. Her song Dread Love shows off this high range of voice acting from the exact range I mentioned above. One second she’s chanting in an almost satanic voice and the next is wailing like a banshee. It’s absolutely mesmerizing. This whole album, Nunsexmonkrock, was exactly that, just so weird but absolutely mesmerizing that you couldn’t stop. Dread Love is a high energy rock/punk song that just has Nina Hagen having the time of her life performing. Plus the idea of praying to the lord everyday with Dread Love, because love affairs are so exciting when the star of dread love is shining, is just… amazing. This song just kicks you in the ass and doesn’t give a shit and that’s why I just absolutely love it. It’s pure unapologetic music that aims to mesmerize you in a state of shock and it does a great job.

21. Drunken Maria – The Monks

I fell in love with Black Monk Time the minute I heard the album of the 1001 Albums list. It was just so different than everything else at the time and really set up the blueprint for what would become punk and garage music. Off the album, Drunken Maria was the one I always found myself relistening to and going back to. Don’t know if it’s because of the screaming MARIA vocals or maybe it’s that bassline/fuzz guitar riff. Whatever it is, this song has me going back to it constantly wanting to relisten to it over and over and over. So many great tunes of the album and this is the one that had me hooked. All around fun tune that I just can’t seem to get enough of.

22. Editions of You – Roxy Music

Oh yes, Roxy Music. The New Wave band that would inspire New Wave bands. Teaming up the likes of Brian Ferry and Brian Eno together. For Your Pleasure is my favourite Roxy Music album and off that album comes this song. Oh god this song is just an overbearing orgasm waiting to happen. From those opening synth chords through Brian ferry’s singing and finally to that grand solo of saxophone, crazy Brian Eno synths and guitar. It just builds and builds and never gives you a moment’s rest. That solo is what sells the whole song for me and it all blends together majestically that when that guitar sustain hits, you’ve officially creamed your pants. It’s like such delicious foreplay getting you ready for what’s to come (ha) and by when it happens it’s fantastic. I might be the only person who feels this way about this song, but I do and it gets me every single time I do (not literally of course because that would be messy).

23. Einzelhaft – Falco

This is a case of a song I love where I have absolutely no idea what’s being said (I don’t understand German). Many people criticise Falco for following a formulaic pop song structure with his songs to guarantee hits and as much as that may be true I would always pull out this song to show them otherwise. Here you’re not really sure where the song will take you exactly, throwing in some twists and turns that actually delight rather than annoy (to me at least). There’s not much I really have to say about this one other than I just really like it. Falco’s vocals always fascinated me and here he’s not as spastic as usual. The bass synth is great as always and it just seems to all work as far as Falco’s music goes. Whether you like him or hate him, I still think this is one that deserves some recognition of some sort. And even not, doesn’t matter, I’ll still keep listening to it every time it comes up on my playlist.

24. Electricity – OMD

This song I probably have the least to say about because I really don’t know what to say. I love the beginning build up to what would be the poppy synth notes that just make you want to shake and vibrate like crazy. OMD were pioneers in synth music and this song is representative of what they were able to do with a DIY kit in their garage. It’s a ton of fun and it’s one that I just always have a blast listening to. Nothing more to it.

25. Europe Endless – Kraftwerk

Kraftwerk were the grandfathers of electronic music, pioneering a genre before it even existed. What they did best was create soundtracks to various themes. Whether it was giving the feel of driving on the german autobahn or thematically portraying a computer world, there was no doubt they were masters at what they did and no one could do it better. For me, where they succeeded the best and what I feel is their masterpiece, is with this song Europe Endless. Giving the listener the impression their riding on the Transeurope express train, with the scenery passing by, they capture the essence of it perfectly and the entire 9 minutes are well worth the whole listen. It feels earned and deserved with all the attention and care that went into creating this tune and even though it’s so long I can’t help but just kick back and enjoy it for what it is. It’s almost meditative listening to it, envisioning the train ride, eyes closed and ears wide open. It’s absolutely breath taking as a tune and one I can never pass up when given the opportunity to listen to and yes… the whole way through.

 

Stay tuned for part 2!

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1001 Albums: Axis: Bold As Love

#105

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Artist: The Jimi Hendrix Experience

Album: Axis: Bold as Love

Year: 1967

Length: 39:21

Genre: Psychedelic Rock

“Anger, he smiles,
Towering in shiny metallic purple armour
Queen Jealousy, envy waits behind him
Her fiery green gown sneers at the grassy ground”

Just five albums apart and we’re already hit with a second Jimi Hendrix album. Unbelievable and in the same year no less (this god forsaken year that I can’t see to get out of). I have no idea how they organize this list anymore because I highly doubt the two albums came out that close together. I’d really like to know how the editor organised all this because the order just makes no sense whatsoever. It’s like they got the general idea of when each album is and just randomly picked the order because there seems to be absolutely no form of order here.

Either way, I’ll just enjoy the madness for what it is.

So, Jimi Hendrix again. I loved his debut so much, was this one in equal or greater value to it? eh…. I don’t know… It was an odd experience (durhurr) to say the least. I in no way disliked the album, Jimi Hendrix’s skill and talent is apparent throughout as usual and it’s great stuff just… I don’t know. I found myself oddly disconnected the whole time. It just never pulled me in or got me engaged. It was good stuff and I found myself thinking that but… it just really didn’t do anything for me. I even had to listen to it twice because the first time left such a little impression on me I couldn’t even remember 90 percent of it. Which is really weird. I mean it’s Jimi Hendrix afterall and I really love Hendrix… so what was up with this. The second listen helped a bit… but not really much. What was I mising exactly?

It’s not like I had my expectations low either. The album started with an unusual radio broadcast about aliens and I remember thinkign to myself that this was going to be interesting and then… it just felt underwhelming as a whole. I think part of it was the dissapearance of his hard rock guitar sound from his first album that I really loved and even the style felt more pop-ish than the first one, which I guess was partially why I felt disconnected… but even then… it was still all good, so why didn’t it do anything for me?

I even tried asking a friend who loves Hendrix to possibly give me insight into what I may hve missed. But I gave up quickly because instead of telling me why this album was good he just kept repeatedly asking me why I didn’t like it (even though I told him many times I did like it I just didn’t really engage with it) and kept questioning if there was a song I liked and why I didn’t like it and basically didn’t answer my initial question of getting insight into this album. So he was basically useless, keeping me on an endless loop of why I didn’t like it rather than just telling me why I should… I don’t know, he’s like that.

Of what I read this seems to be a transitional album for Hendrix which could explain why it just didn’t do it for me either but then others say it’s a masterpiece so… I’m at a loss here. Maybe one day someone will give me the insight into it and it’ll finally click and I’ll get it but for now I’ll just leave it for what it was. An experience I was disappointed in my feelings for.

I really can’t explain it.

Song of Choice: Bold as Love

-Bosco

 

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1001 Albums: White Light/White Heat

#104

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Artist: Velvet Underground

Album: White Light/White Heat

Year: 1968

Length: 40:13

Genre: Experimental Rock / Noise Rock / Proto-Punk

“White light, White light goin’ messin’ up my brain
White light, Aww white light its gonna drive me insane
White heat, Aww white heat it tickle me down to my toes
White light, Aww white light I said now goodness knows, do it”

This might be the album that has me liking the Velvet Underground. Their debut just didn’t really do it for me and felt more like a Hipster’s wet dream than anything else. But here, they take on a completely different approach to their music and it’s one that captivated me and kept me hooked… for the most part. If I had to choose between the two I would definitely pick this one over their debut any day. I’m not sure about their future albums and how they are, since I have never listened to them, but if the band continues in the direction that this one started, than it’ll be a band I’ll slowly gain a liking to.

A big contrast here is that they take a proto-punk and noise rock sound to their music, which is an incredibly different approach than their more artistic and “pretty” sounding melodies that they expertly crafted. Here they left place for improvisation (their final song just goes on for 14 minutes on pure improvised guitar solos) and a hard rock sound before hard rock really even existed. The distorted guitar sounds would be incredibly influential for future punk bands and this album can easily be seen as paving the way for punk music.

The opening track sucked me in. Wait this was Velvet Underground? I was surprised in the best possible way. If the entire album was like this, I was set. Unfortunately it was followed by an almost 9-minute song that is basically just John Cale doing story time in a deadpan way. It’s a hit or miss song, you either love it or hate it. I unfortunately hated it. it felt long and repetitive and you catch the twist of the ending incredibly early that you feel like the rest of the time is just wasted time. Nothing wrong with telling stories in your music (most do) but here it just feels out of place with the rest of the songs and just doesn’t do it for me. This album (in my opinion) could have done without this song and had a different one in it’s place that matched the rest of the album.

Going through the album once, I wish I understood the lyrics. I only found out afterwards what the lyrical content was while doing some mild research for it and had to do a double-take because I missed it completely. Tales of Drag Queen Orgies and A Transvestite’s botched Lobotomy… Jesus, I wish I had understood the lyrics, I might have had a much different experience (in a good way because that just sounds pretty fucking great). I should probably explain this though. It’s not that I don’t pay attention to the lyrics or I just don’t get it, my problem is and I have this in general life in general is that I have a hard time understanding what people say. I’m not deaf, I can hear perfectly well but I constantly seem to misunderstand or mishear what people say. This happens especially with music, if the vocals get drowned out or the singer has a thick accent or mumbles, I never know what the lyrics are. I’m like the king of misheard lyrics or you know, it just sounds like Gibberish to me. If you want to understand what I’m saying, I always watch movies with subtitles on because sometimes I just couldn’t understand what they said. For music, once I know what the lyrics are, I can finally hear the singer saying it, but mostly… unless the singer sings in a very comprehensible and clear way… I have a hard time catching what the lyrics are, hence why I missed out on this weird and strange lyrical content that would have made me love my first experience much more. This is also why I’m really bad at quoting things… I can’t explain this phenomenon, it’s something that just is.

Anyway, I think it was a smart decision for the band to get rid of Andy Warhol and part ways with Nico (who is, thank god, not on this album anywhere) which allowed them to experiment more with the noise rock genre. I’m glad they did because not only did we get to see a different side to the band but they got to show off their expertise on a completely different level. Might not be a fan of the first, but definitely enjoyed this one.

Thanks for the pleasant surprise Velvet Underground, you did good.

Song of Choice: Sister Ray

-Bosco

 

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1001 Albums: Call of the Valley

#103

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Artist: Shivkumar Sharma / Brij Bushan Kabra / Hariprasad Chaurasia

Album: Call of the Valley

Year: 1967

Length: 1:10:55

Genre: Hindustani Classical Music

“Twanging Sitar Sounds Cascading Into Your Ears”

Now for something completely different.

Don’t ask me to explain this album to you. Don’t ask me to delve deep into the musicality of it all. Don’t ask me to break down each individual song. Don’t ask me to even explain to you what’s happening in each song. I have no idea how to answer any of these. I wish I was an expert on Hindustani Classical Music and the arrangements of Sitar playing. But sadly, I don’t, so all I have is my experience with what this album was.

It’s actually really cool that the list includes a lot of world music on it. Albums like this one would probably not really be heard by modern day western audiences if it weren’t for lists like this mentioning them and I think that’s pretty great that it’s giving the chance for young listeners (like myself) to discover some great world music. Didn’t expect something straight out of India that is basically a suite of classical Indian music as a throwback to days of old, but I’m happy it was there because it was an incredibly fresh listen in the vast pool of rock music I was listening to.

I really wish I knew more about this style of music because I really have no idea how to break it down. Already the entirety of it was instrumental and every song just blended together for me as it all sounded the same to my ears. I mean, yes there were differentiations between the songs… but to my untrained ears it’s hard to detect them exactly. I really just got lost in the beautiful sitar playing and flute arrangements and honestly didn’t pay attention to details. Nothing wrong with that. Almost like the jazz albums from the 50s, you put them on and get lost in them and it’s a very calming and relaxing experience. If you were to tell me the whole suite was telling a story of a the day in the life of a shepherd in Kashmir and used various ragas to let the audience know what time of the day it was… I wouldn’t have known that to be true. That’s exactly what they did and if I knew more about the music I probably would have caught that. Maybe one day I’ll relisten to it having this story in mind, but until then all I have is what I got. Not much.

Apparently this album was historically incredibly important. It was the album that introduced these stylings to western audiences and was beloved by musicians such as George Harrison, David Crosby, Paul McCartney, Bob Dylan and Roger McGuinn, and heavily influenced a lot of these artists to include sitar into their work. So if you hate or love this inclusion in 60s rock, you have this album to thank for that. (Fun Fact: it’s also one of the most successful Indian albums. So… the more you know).

What else can I really say? (Something I’m starting to say a lot). I enjoyed it and maybe if I find it in the bin at a record store mgiht even buy it so I can continue to play it in the background and not really pay attention to it. It sets the mood more than anything… whatever that mood is.

Song of Choice: Dhun-Mishra Kirwani

-Bosco

 

 

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1001 Albums: Don’t Come Home a Drinkin’ (With Lovin’ on Your Mind)

#102

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Artist: Loretta Lynn

Album: Don’t Come Home a Drinkin’ (With Lovin’ on Your Mind)

Year: 1967

Length; 28:24

Genre: Country

“Well, you think you’re the hardest thing a goin’
The way things come to you, you think you’re in
But one of these days that wind’s a gonna start blowin’
You may not lose the big boy, you won’t win

‘Cause the devil gets his dues and you’ll start payin’
When he collects, you know you’ve paid your debt
The devil gets his dues like I been sayin’
You hurt just like you’ve hurt me, you can bet”

I slowed down on the listening because I knew this was the next album on the list and part of me really didn’t want to start the new year with a country album. For anyone who has read these posts (all three of you) it’s fair to say I am not a country music fan at all. I avoid it like the plague, so this wasn’t how I wanted to start the new year at all. First album of the year is a country album just doesn’t sound good to me. But was it as bad as I expected?

No. In fact, it was the complete opposite. I loved this album. Love, love, loved it. Ok, maybe not to the point that I’ll buy it and listen to it again but as far as country goes, I absolutely loved it (which means in general it was ok for me). Maybe I just needed a female country singer to change my mind about it all. Who knows. But Loretta Lynn was definitely a beautiful gem within a large field of crap ( I really hate country) and it felt like such a change of pace for the genre. Loretta Lynn set some high standards and is easily an important icon for the country music genre (and just for women in general).

For the first time, we have a woman in the 60s standing up for herself against her really shitty husband. This whole album is basically Loretta standing her ground and telling her husband to fyck off. The title song is basically her saying he ain’t getting nothing from her if he decides to come home drunk and get frisky. She’s saying NO (It’s weird how some people don’t understand the word no) and standing by it. Even throughout every song feels like such a great feminist anthem, especially today with the rise of the #Metoo campaigns and the attack on sexual predators and just douchebags with “I’m horny so I feel entitled to have sex with you” mentalities that many women have been dealing with. It’s great to see someone out there back in the 60s was doing that and wasn’t afraid to do so. Forget whoever there is today, Loretta Lynn is the real feminist icon. And that’s how it should be. Some douchebag is objectifying you, stand up to him and tell him how much of a piece of shit he’s being. No one should ever treat you that way, ever (guy or girl, I’ve been specific to women because Loretta Lynn is a woman, but neither men nor women should be treated that way). Too many douchebags get away with their shit attitudes because we seem to still be in a time where it’s not “Ok” to speak up and stand up for yourself, but I’m happy to see times are a changing and these people are getting what they deserve. I have never been objectified but I know people who have and I have their backs every step of the way.

Other than that, Loretta Lynn has a really interesting life as a whole. She was born in a coal mining family and got married at 15 years old (her marriage was highly inspirational for this particular album). Oddly enough, her husband despite being a shit was the one who highly encouraged her to become a musician… so… pros and cons I guess. Her life was even turned into a movie “The Coal Miner’s Daughter”, which I have not seen but it is on the 1001 movies list, so I will get around to it eventually because I am tackling it (but unfortunately no blog posts for that one). So, Loretta Lynn has really left her mark in history.

The only song I could have done without was the final one where she basically tries to justify the fact that she cheated on her husband because he’s a pro at it and it’s only bad because he caught her? I’m sorry but I feel that just takes away from the whole standing up for yourself against douchebags message because cheating is never justified. it doesn’t matter if your significant other cheated on you, by cheating as a response it just brings you down to their level and you are no better than them. So it took me out of it a bit (even though I did enjoy the song I just think it takes away from the rest of the album). SO as an experience I’d stop before that one, but still listen to it cause I do think it’s great as a song.

What else can I say? I found a country album that really engaged and captured me for once and I honestly think it should make a comeback with all the politics going on today.

You go Girl.

Song of Choice: The Devil Gets His Dues

-Bosco

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1001 Albums: I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night)

#101

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Artist: The Electric Prunes

Album: I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night)

Year: 1967

Length: 29:47

Genre: Psychedelic Rock / Garage Rock

“Last night your shadow fell upon my lonely room
I touched your golden hair and tasted your perfume
Your eyes were filled with love the way they used to be
Your gentle hand reached out to comfort me
Then came the dawn
And you were gone
You were gone, gone, gone

I had too much to dream last night
Too much to dream
I’m not ready to face the light
I had too much to dream
Last night
Last night”
Keeping up the pace with this list. If I want to make it to 1001 before I die (which I think is the goal in general) then I really need to pick it up. To be honest the listening part is the easy part. The writing the blog posts and doing the photoshopped covers is really what usually slows me down otherwise I probably would be way farther in the list by now. It’s hard to find time sometimes to sit down and crank one of these out, especially if a lot of time has passed since I heard the album and I basically forgot about it. When I started this challenge, I made it a point to write a post the night of listening to an album, but things change and it’s become tougher in general. But no more of that. Time to take my life into my own hands and get back on track.
I really liked this album. It’s another one of those bands that appeared in my famous Psychedelic music class (forgot to mention Jimi Hendrix did too but that wasn’t important). So, I had exposure to this band and have heard of them before. I got excited because as much as I’m getting bored of psychedelic music, I love 60s garage rock and that outweighed my boredom with psychedelia. How does it compare to other fusion bands? Not sure if I can say the best, but their mix of Psychedelic and Garage blends together almost seamlessly that it’s hard to tell where each begins and ends. That was an aspect I really liked about it. Other than two songs (The King is in The Counter House and The Toonerville Trolley) which had more of a ragtime, children’s story feel to them, the rest of the tunes hit you hard with that raw garage rock sound and muddy noise with backwards tape and psychedelic acid attached to it. The singer screams and yells at the right moments and takes it easy at others. And you get different tempos for different vibes. Fast ones for those like me who love to get pumped up (Get me to the world on time) and slower ones for people who like to enjoy their time (About a Quarter to Nine).
There’s definitely a cheeky feel to a lot of the lyrics but I think they decided to go more the psychedelic imagery route along with slight cheekiness thrown into it. It’s really hard for me to find things I didn’t enjoy about the album. The album is in no way perfect or even the greatest thing ever, but for garage rock lovers it’s really a great album that holds up from beginning to end (even at the slightly weirder parts). It flowed really well and it’s short run time seems to feel even shorter than it really is. Maybe it’s my personal taste bias that feels this way, but what you gonna do?
I don’t really have much else to say about this album mainly because it’s a little hidden gem from the big year of 1967. It was a garage rock album that really made an impact and stood out as being it’s own unique specimen but definitely got overshadowed by all the big albums that came out that same year. Shame because it’s a great album all the way through and deserves more recognition than it gets. (Unless it’s getting tons of recognition that I’m unaware about. If that’s the case than excuse my ignorance).
Now excuse me while I go sleep and possibly dream too much (lame I know… fuck you, whatever).
Song of Choice: Get Me To The World On Time
-Bosco
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1001 Albums: Are You Experienced

#100

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Artist: The Jimi Hendrix Experience

Album: Are You Experienced

Year: 1967

Length: 40:12

Genre: Acid Rock / Psychedelic Rock

I know, I know you probably scream and cry
That your little world won’t let you go
But who in your measly little world
Are you trying to prove that
You’re made out of gold and, eh, can’t be sold

But first, are you experienced?
Have you ever been experienced?
Well, I have

It’s happened folks. It’s finally happened. I’ve broken into the triple digits, I’ve finally hit album 100! And perfect timing for celebration since it is Christmas too (or was at the time I’m writing this). I’m officially at about 10% of the entire list. I started about a year ago so at this rate I’ll finish the entire list in ten years. Ten years… gotta pick up the pace a bit I think. Either way, it’s a big milestone in this challenge and one I’ll hold dear to myself because it’s proof I won’t give up and will keep doing it no matter what. I will make it to the end.

And what an album to do number 100 on. I think currently one of the best albums I’ve heard so far on this list. From beginning to end it’s just a powerhouse of guitar playing and psychedelic music. I’ve heard songs from this album before (Are You Experienced, Third Stone From The Sun, The Wind Cries Mary, Purple Haze (the last two from countless hours of playing guitar hero)) but had never listened to a full Jimi Hendrix Album before. Believe my shock when a ton of his biggest hits all appeared on his debut along with some other fantastic songs. To call this one of the greatest debut albums of all time is a bit of an understatement. This sounds like a band that have been playing together for years and years and been developing their sound. They managed to do in their first album what many bands and artists don’t achieve until their third. I really wish I hadn’t missed out on this album when I first heard about Jimi Hendrix, but I didn’t because I wasn’t really into Psychedelic music at the time and two I was as open-minded as I was today.

Jimi Hendrix is easily one of the greatest guitarists of all time. I’ve heard that phrase so many times and everyone I ask always puts him in their top 5 lists. Listening to this album, I now know why. Putting aside the fact that he has such a distinct sound to his guitar. I mean, you hear it play and you know exactly who it is. There’s no one else that sounds like him and he’s managed to really capture his own sound that people would try to emulate but no one can sound like Jimi Hendrix, it’s his sound not yours. Putting that aside, his playing his also really unique, fusing rhythm and blues influence, with some free-jazz stylings and psychedelic music, he clearly was trying out new things that suited what he wanted and it worked very well and to his advantage. He didn’t care what people said, he wanted to play his way and he did. His producer even made sure he had full creative control over the album so the band wouldn’t have to compromise over their songs. Smart choice because this whole album just oozes with Hendrix (I think, I don’t know, just talking out of my ass again).

There’s such a fascinating and long history about this band an dhow Jimi Hendrix got to where he is. Wasn’t successful in the Rhythm and Blues scene, moved to England, met a manager who loved his rendition of Hey Joe, got a band together and boom, dynamite album. That’s the most brief and condensed version I can tell you because I’m not going to sit here talking about the whole thing. I’ll leave it to you to find it yourself and also it’s been said many times before, I don’t want to just reiterate.

Speaking of which, what can I really say about this album that hasn’t been said already? Everyone has talked about this album to no end already so there isn’t much I can add to the conversation. All I can say is as a first-timer, it was a great experience through and through and I feel I really need to listen to it a second time to truly experience the full experience of Are You Experienced.

Not sure what else to say so I will end this post with a cover of Are You Experienced by my favourite band Devo:

 

Song of Choice: Purple Haze

-Bosco

p.s I’m not sure what version of the album I listened to… doesn’t seem to be the Uk or Us release or any of the other versions… Spotify seems to have it’s own unique version that included every song from both releases, hence why I said Purple Haze despite it not being on the original UK release… oh well.

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1001 Albums: I’m a Lonesome Fugitive

#99

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Artist: Merle Haggard

Album: I’m a Lonesome Fugitive

Year: 1967

Length: 31:02

Genre: Country

“I’d like to settle down but they won’t let me
A fugitive must be a rolling stone
Down every road there’s always one more city
I’m on the run, the highway is my home”

 

Hooray! My favourite genre of all time! The genre I love the mostest! MMMMM… mmmmm time for some goooooooood ole’ country music. Damn do I love country music, god it’s so amazing. I just can’t help myself when a country tune pops up. I pull on my best cowboy boots and my nicest cowboy hat and put on some assless chaps and do a nice hoedown jig. I don’t care who is looking or who sees my ass, but country music fills my heart and soul in a way I can’t describe. YEEEE-Fucking-HAW!!!!!

I hate country music. It’s my least favourite genre. So Imagine my thrill when this album started and it was you’re very straightforward country sounding music. The twang of the guitar, the flow of the notes, the style, that irritating mellow-dramatic strings, that southern drawwwwlllll. I just can’t do it. I mean, occasionally I’ll find a country tune I’ll enjoy (as I did with this album) but those are exceptions to the rule because as a whole I cannot stand this genre and avoid it like the plague. I even knew someone who loves country tell me “How can you hate a genre but like some tunes? That makes no sense”. Yes it does… I shouldn’t even have to explain that.

Either way, based on my hatred for the entire genre I still ended up enjoying this album anyway. Ok sure, for the most part it’s pretty skippable for me, but if you’re a big country fan I can see why you would love this album and it’s definitely one to have for any big country fan. Being a little biased i did love the more upbeat tunes while the sadder, mello-dramatic ones turned me off. However, that being said, there was one aspect of the whole album that really drew me in and that was it’s honesty.

It seems Merle Haggard (with a name like that you were destined to be a country music singer) actually did spend time in prison and according to his wife at the time he was in a very dark place when writing this and that all comes across very clearly. He sings with truth in his voice and you feel and understand every emotion he’s saying. It’s not just telling stories to the audience but he’s revealing a part of himself and making himself vulnerable. That’s really the highlight of the whole album and one I was able to pick up on the whole way through. It’s funny how you can sometimes listen to a piece of music and just sense that kind of thing. I can’t explain it, it’s just something you feel when it’s genuine.

So, I wrote this piece in two parts. Everything above this I wrote two days ago and I had time to think more about it. I still don’t like Country music, but the more I thought the more I flt the subject matter resonated with me a lot. Ok, I’ve never been to prison like Merle has, but the idea of feeling trapped in your mind and running with no where to go and these themes of feeling lost and isolated did. These past few days a lot has happened to me which I guess I didn’t expect and it hasn’t been the most positive. For months I’ve been stuck in my mind with stupid invasive thoughts almost controlling me and it took something big to happen for me to sort of realise I have to turn myself around and make changes to take care of myself. It hasn’t been easy, it never is, and these past few days have been really hard which is why the material suddenly resonated with me after having listened to it. I mean, it’s almost Christmas and I’ve had so many negative things happening I wonder if things actually will turn around.

Only time can tell…

I guess I’ll just have to put in the effort is all.

Song of Choice: Skid Row

-Bosco

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1001 Albums: Sunshine Superman

#98

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Artist: Donovan

Album: Sunshine Superman

Year: 1966

Length: 42:59

Genre: Psychedelic Folk

“Sunshine came softly through my a-window today
Could’ve tripped out easy a-but I’ve a-changed my ways
It’ll take time, I know it but in a while
You’re gonna be mine, I know it, we’ll do it in style
‘Cause I made my mind up you’re going to be mine”

Wait… Hold up a minute… Am I reading this correctly? What the hell is going on? I must be going crazy here. This can’t be right. Does that say… 1966? 1966?!?!? 19 fucking 66??? I spent all this time listening to album after album in 1967 only to be setback to 1966?? How is this even possible? How do they order these fucking albums on this list? I always thought it was chronologically but now I don’t know what to believe anymore. Just when I thought I was making it to the end it turns around and goes in reverse. What, is the next album back in the 50s? Will I hear something from the 40s? Doesn’t make any sense but at this point I would believe it could happen.

I digress.

What truly is amazing is that I’m making two posts in one day. That rarely ever happens. I usually try to avoid that because one of the two entries always gets lost in the ether of the internet doomed to only a small amount of views. But I need to catch up, I’m already halfway through the next album and don’t want to get bogged down with all the posts I need to write and also I don’t want to forget the album itself either. When you listen to an album once and listen to many others after, it’s easy to not really remember it that much, unless it really captivated you in some way, and even then my memory isn’t the greatest. I’ll remember loving it but ask me to recreate the songs and I will barely remember how they sounded. Sounds odd but it makes sense because I remember how I felt while listening more than the details of the song.

That kind of happened with this album. I remember listening to it and the general feeling of the whole album I had while listening to it, but I can’t remember the details of it. This actually happens with most albums I listen to but it was especially with this one. It’s another mix of Psychedelic folk that I guess I just wasn’t that crazy about. Loved it with Jefferson Airplane but here Donovan really takes the folk root with some long (one going as far as 7 damn minutes) and repetitive tunes that feel like a bore and a struggle to get through. Thankfully he contrasts those tunes with some fantastic ones, with Sunshine Superman and Season of the Witch clearly being the stand-out ones, and a fun folk tune called The Trip that even though is long and repetitive, it’s upbeat enough to keep you engaged the whole way through, it never feels boring is what I’m saying.

The psychedelic tunes are easily the best songs on this album and although a lot of the folk tunes delve into medieval imagery and stylings, which if you’ve read my posts you know I am a sucker for medieval things, no idea why. That’s something I’ll eventually look into. But really isn’t important at the moment… is it? I don’t think so… no, it isn’t…

As I was saying, even though the folk tunes still captured an image of something that captivates me I still found it a bit of a struggle to make my way through them (Legend of a Girl Child Linda comes to mind). But what really makes up for it is Donovan’s delivery of his vocals. He’s a damn good singer and sings with a youthful quality that really adds to the whole experience. Even if you don’t like the music at least his vocals will win you over.

So as a whole the album is really hit and miss, but the high points are really strong and well worth the time invested. I have a strong feeling this album was mainly included for its two biggest songs, but Donovan does seem to blend psychedelic with folk in a really strong way and it’s nice to hear some well needed sitar sprinkled throughout. I’ll always feel half and half about this album, but at least the half I do like I really like and that’s all that matters to me.

Song of Choice: Season of the Witch

-Bosco

 

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1001 Albums: Something Else by The Kinks

#97

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Artist: The Kinks

Album: Something Else by The Kinks

Year: 1967

Length: 36:17

Genre: Rock / Baroque Pop

“I am a dull and simple lad
Cannot tell water from champagne
And I have never met the Queen
And I wish I could have all that he has got
And I wish I could be like David Watts”

The Kinks are back! Should I be this excited? No, not really, I’m actually not. I thought it’d just be a great way to start the post… with energy and stuff… you know? I honestly couldn’t even remember how many Kinks albums I actually listened to on this list. I checked… it was only one… I seriously thought it was two or three… don’t know why. It’s possible all these albums are starting to blend together into one big mashed potatoes of music and I’m having trouble distinguishing between them (despite most albums have their own unique sounds). It could be because of my really long hiatus from listening to the albums that I figured I listened to Face to Face months ago, I surely had listened to more than one Kinks album… right? RIGHT?

Either way, that’s unimportant. Point is The Kinks are back and are for the most part really fun and enjoyable. It honestly didn’t feel like much of a step forward from their last album and felt more like an extension of it with a continuation of their tongue in cheek observations of English life. Each song feels like a portrait of a character or situation that you’d typically find in their daily lives but what makes it more than straight forward is the satirical take on them with a dash of cynicism and wit. I had a ton of fun listening to this album, heck I saved most of the songs on my Spotify playlist, which I hadn’t expected at all.

This feels like it’s  hidden gem of a Kinks album. I mean, I don’t know if it actually is or not since I haven’t listened to any other Kinks albums and I’m basically talking out of my ass right now but I feel like it is mainly based on the fact that this album apparently didn’t sell well at all… anywhere upon it’s release. Due to it competing with cheaper Kinks compilation albums mostly, people just didn’t seem interested in picking up this album for whatever reason (the reason I mentioned above). Kind of odd seeing how fun the album is. It really has a sentimental and nostalgic vibe to it that feels like a snapshot of 60s England that never feels dated either. It feels like this album despite sounding old has aged very well and still works even today, as if it was a stylistic choice to be the way it is… I don’t know, I’m not The Kinks. I especially love their use of harpsichord, but I think I’ve always been a sucker for it. It gives this sort of medieval sound to it that I always enjoyed, I really hope there’s more harpsichord in future albums (not just The Kinks) because I really do feel there just isn’t enough harpsichord in general in this world.

THE WORLD NEEDS MORE HARPSICHORD!

…Please…

Song of Choice: Death of a Clown

-Bosco

 

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1001 Albums: Surrealistic Pillow

#96

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Artist: Jefferson Airplane

Album: Surrealistic Pillow

Year: 1967

Length: 34: 48

Genre: Psychedelic Rock / Folk Rock

“When the truth is found
To be lies
And all the joy
Within you dies

Don’t you want somebody to love
Don’t you need somebody to love
Wouldn’t you love somebody to love
You better find somebody to love, love”
Winter has been slowly approaching. Temperatures have dropped considerably forcing me to pull out my tuque and scarf and wear my oversized winter coat. But do you think I’d wear any boots? Of course not, Converse all year, every day. I also don’t own a pair of boots so that kind of factors in to the whole not wearing boots thing. You would think I’d be prepared for winter seeing as I lived in Montreal my whole life where winters are pretty brutal, but the exact opposite effect has occurred. I’m so used to it I’ve trained myself to survive through it with the least amount of effort. I hate boots, absolutely hate them. They’re clunky and big and just awkward. The least amount of time I can go without wearing them, the happier I will be.
I digress, I’m not here to talk about boots and winter. I’m here to talk about albums. A whole list of albums from 1967 it seems because I feel like I’ve been stuck in this year for eternity. It never ends. Everytime I think I’m closer to the end, it just swoops me back in. 1967 must have been one hell of a year for music because it’s like the never-ending story here with musical albums. Maybe it’s not actually that bad and my perception is just a little warped due to not listening to the albums as frequently, but I’m so close to the 70s that I just want the 60s to end so I can move on. I don’t think I can take anymore psychedelic albums. I mean, they were great at first because they felt like a break from all the pop music from the early 60s and just added a little flavour to something different, but now I feel like I’m stuck in the flower power era of hippies and acid and t feels like it just goes on and on.
It’s funny you would expect me to hate this album since it’s a mix of folk rock and psych music with a heavy-dose of flower power hippie ideals and the age of the summer of love and woodstock feelings. A great ombination for me to just despise. But, I actually love this album very much. I was already a huge fan of their big hit “Somebody To Love” a song I was widely addicted to for a very long time and their other hit “White Rabbit” brings back memories to such a memorable scene in a movie I love, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, so Surrealistic Pillow is the exception to the rule for me I guess.
Ok, so I could probably do away with some of the pure folk tunes. Especially the ones near the beginning like My Best Friend and Today. It’s such a tonal shift after the first two songs that it really took me out of the album. Started strong only to transition into two pretty cheesy songs that I feel just don’t fit in with some of the rest of the tunes. The best music off the album was either their high-energy folk tunes or their blend of folk and psych tunes, the pure folk stuff feels like filler and just brings the album down since it doesn’t really add anything new and stands out as bad especially compared to the rest of the album.
That being said, the good tunes are really good and hit nice and hard into your ears. The title Surrealistic Pillow gives me the idea that it’s supposed to be some sort of acid dream, where you fall asleep and let your mind get lost into a drug-induced trip. I don’t know if they achieved that here but there is definitely a dream like quality to it that you can just lie down and get lost to throughout. I don’t know, either way it’s a great album and considered the quintessential album of the 60s counter culture, so that’s gotta mean something.
Now excuse me while I enjoy some pancakes and mentally prepare myself to brave the cold.
Song of Choice: Somebody to Love
-Bosco
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1001 Albums: Groovin’

#95

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Artist: The Young Rascals

Album: Groovin’

Year: 1967

Length: 34: 34

Genre: Rhythm and Blues / Blue-eyed Soul

“Whatcha tryin’ to do to my heart
Whatcha tryin’ to do to my heart
You go around, tellin’ lies, and now you wanna compromise
Whatcha tryin’ to do to my heart
You better run, you better hide, you better leave from my side, yeah”

Are the 60s over yet? Am I almost done? I don’t know how much more I can take especially when I encounter albums that are so very 60s sounding. How many more albums that delve into psychedlia can I take? Do we really need to hear every single band that decided to try their hand at Psychedelic music? Is it really necessery? WELL IS IT???

The Young Rascals are less Psychedelic and more radio friendly pop (or as the book would tell me one of the few white bands that can really deliver a soulful performance that stands against their African american counterparts… sure I guess). All I remember from The Young Rascals was their big hit Groovin’ playing on one of my dad’s old 60s compilation albums. Didn’t like it that much then and… I guess it’s grown on me a bit but is still skippable in my opinion. I find this album is emblematic of the sound of 60s pop music. All you need is to check this one out to get a good idea of the sort of music that was at the top of the charts. It’s easily digestible, a little cheesy and good, clean fun. Any goof who only listens to radio music sure would love this kind of stuff but if you’re looking for something with a little more depth to it than this is probably not for you.

I’m not saying it’s bad, not at all. It’s a decent album, the band clearly is skilled and the singer knows how to sing damn well but… come on… it’s pure 60s nostalgia music here at this point. I found myself at odds because there would be moments where I felt damn this band is doing something cool here and then moments where I’d groan because it was just another single. No joke, eight of these 11 songs were fucking singles. That’s what you get when you listen to an album by a band notorious for singles and patchy albums, an album where they at least try to give you something cool but still feels like a collection of singles. By the time I hit the final song that tried hard to at some psychedelic vibes to it with interesting experimentation, I just felt it wasn’t deserved at that point.

I’m actually at a loss of understanding as to why this was included on the 1001 albums list. I mean it seems to hold the great distinction that it holds a number 1 hit and the band tried something new… Ok? I feel the biggest distinction that this album can say for itself is that it’s included on this list because I honestly don’t see anything special about it. I mean, the tunes are good and I can see where the book says that they’re incredibly soulful white guys and do a good job at it but the entire run time I just felt like I was listening to some typical 60s music. Is that why it’s there because it’s a great time capsule to the 60s pop charts? Is that it??? What is it???

I mean… I liked some tunes. I remember enjoying a few very much… but… Jesus this album just feels a little forgettable. Not as forgettable as Fred Neil mind you, it at least has something to it, but I just don’t really see myself listening to it again. Maybe I just need to give it a second chance, maybe I went into it expecting it to be this way, maybe I had formed my opinion before I even listened to it because honestly it’s a pretty decent album…

I’m overthinking this. Maybe I’ll revisit it one day but for now it’s left a meh taste in my mouth (or ears) and I guess I can say it was pretty ok. That’s that. Like they had a song called Find Somebody which just felt like a slightly mediocre version of Jefferson Airplane’s Somebody To Love. Seriously the lyrics at some points are almost exactly the same.

Man, I’d love to listen to Somebody To Love again, just recently sang it at Karaoke. My friends wanted me to sing it like Jim Carrey did in The Cable Guy but I decided to just do it in my own way.

Why am I talking about Jefferson Airplane? What album is next? oh…. (nice sequeway…. :|…)

Song of Choice: You Better Run

-Bosco

 

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1001 Albums: Younger Than Yesterday

#94

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Artist: The Byrds

Album: Younger Than Yesterday

Year: 1967

Length: 29:11

Genre: Psychedelic Rock

“Ah, but I was so much older then
I’m younger than that now
Half-wracked prejudice leaped forth
Rip down all hate, I screamed
Lies that life is black and white
Spoke from my skull I dreamed
Romantic facts of musketeers
Foundationed deep, somehow
Ah, but I was so much older then
I’m younger than that now”

The Byrds are back and at it again. I honestly didn’t expect to see The Byrds appear so often on this list, but that’s mainly because I only knew two Byrds’ songs so I was kind of surprised to see how much influence and impact they made, especially in the 60s. Younger Than Yesterday doesn’t feel like anything spectacular or really new when it comes to the band. It’s exactly what you’d probably expect from The Byrds, I know it was for me. The minute the opening notes of the opening song started I knew I was in for a very straightforward Byrds album. Nothing more and nothing else.

That being said I thoroughly enjoyed it and thought this album was a blast. It was a ton of fun from beginning to end. It threw in some nice surprises once in awhile showing off the groups experimentation with psychedelic rock. A mix of reverse tapes, odd instruments and some mind-melting sections of their songs added some decent touches to the album that at least made it feel like a step forward from their previous efforts so it wasn’t 100% just more of the same. It honestly doesn’t disappoint as a Byrds album and it’s uniform enough to keep you engaged the whole way through, with some tunes slowing down to allow you to take a breath and others just being a ton of fun.

This album reminded me a lot of The Beatles’ Revolver in a lot of ways and for some reason I felt a sort of parrallel. If I was to make an analogy I would call this the Byrds’ Revolver, a maturing band trying new things but still keeping what made them them. But where I felt Revolver was a bit of a mess and felt more like a compilation than an album this one stands out as being incredibly cohesive and despite the different styles they do try out (folk and country being an example) it somehow still flows really well from one song to another and no song ever appears in a jarring way. There’s such a natural progression to the whole album that you don’t even feel the time pass. I remember checking to see which song I was at only to find I had two songs left. That’s always a good sign in my books. I honestly do feel like The Byrds were the American equivalent of The Beatles and although The Beatles had emerged as bigger and more mature by this point, especially musically, it does sound like The Byrds are working their way up to that point. That could just all be speculation since I’ve never heard any of their later albums, but they do have a few more yet to come on the list, so it’s very possible they could meet that expectation (although I read they sort of delve into country rock later on and seeing as I’m just not a fan of country music it’s possible I might either hate it or love the Byrds take on it… who knows).

If you like The Byrds this is definitely one to check out. I feel it stands the test of time better than their previous albums. Their first albums feel sort of stuck in their time but this one comes across a little more timeless, even with the very obvious 60s vibe. Put it on today and it still feels a little fresh. But just a little. I guess I could say this is currently my favourite Byrds album but I’m not about to start ranking the albums of every band that has multiple albums on this list. So, I’ll just leave it at that, a fun and enjoyable Byrds album that I’ll probably take a listen to again at some point in my life… possibly.

Song of Choice: So You Want to be a Rock n’ Roll Star

-Bosco

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1001 Albums: The Doors

#93

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Artist: The Doors

Album: The Doors

Year: 1967

Length: 44:48

Genre: Psychedelic/Acid Rock

“This is the end, beautiful friend
This is the end, my only friend, the end
Of our elaborate plans, the end
Of everything that stands, the end
No safety or surprise, the end
I’ll never look into your eyes, again”

I am both happy and sad a this moment. Happy because I absolutely love this album and I would easily rank it as one of the best albums of the sixties. Sad because for the first time in my blog I have not been able to meet something I wanted to do. You see, I wanted to play this fun game called Albums I Actually Own. It wasn’t really a game to be honest but the idea was everytime I encountered an album I own on Vinyl I was going to post a picture of myself holding it up. Yes it’s a little self-indulgent, but my vinyl collection is one of my most prized possessions and I’m really proud of it. We all have hobbies and things we love dearly, vinyl collecting just happens to be one of those things for me. Unfortunately since I moved to Toronto I had to stop with the vinyl purchases due to monetary issues (suddenly paying rent and bills and having a job that can only pay for that really makes it tough to spend on luxuries) so my collecting has halted until I start making enough to go back to it. Also unfortunately my entire collection is still back in Montreal meaning when it came to playing Albums I Actually Own I couldn’t get a snapshot of me holding it. Oh well…

But that being said, I won’t give up.

So the first album to appear on my very special edition of Albums I Own is in fact The Doors!

[insert photo one day]

Ok enough of that, let’s hit the album. Metaphorically of course, not… physically… that would be bad.

The Doors was another one of those bands for a long time I was kind of avoiding out of fear I’d be disappointed since I met so many people who considered them in high regard. I eventually caved in and discovered their debut and immediately fell in love with it. I’ll be honest I never really checked out their later albums and it’s really just this one I’m familiar with but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s one hell of a fantastic album. I honestly could listen to this one on repeat and never get fed up of it. Everything about it just works so damn well and is easily one of the best debut albums out there. Top 10… if not at least Top 20… if not at least Top 50… definitely Top 100… or 200…

It really is a milestone in rock music and a step forward for the psychedelic genre. The Doors blasted onto the scene with their own style, their own music and tried things that hadn’t been seen before. With a mix of flamenco influenced guitar, jazz trained drumming and some of the best organ playing ever heard, it made for a unique blend that only heightened the song writing of the group. Throw in Jim Morrison’s incredibly theatrical style of performing and you get a band unlike any other at the time. There’s no denying that The Doors really stood out as being their own band and redefining what we knew about music at the time. It was unlike anything at the time and even today holds up incredibly well and still stands out as it’s own unique piece of rock music.

I want to talk about my favourite part of the group and that’s easily their strongest and best player: Mr. Ray Manzarek. Maybe it’s because I have a soft spot for keyboards and keyboardists and have high respect for them since for the most part they’re often overlooked as people scramble to talk about guitarists and drummers (sorry bassists) but Ray Manzarek is easily the superstar of this album. Without his incredible organ playing this album just would not be the same. From the opening chords of Soul Kitchen that just bring you in and to the crazy note playing and solo of Light My Fire, which is just a mind-bending crazy experience, there’s no way these songs would work if it wasn’t for Ray’s keyboard licks and riffs. And the crazy part? While he was doing this kick-ass organ playing, his left hand was also playing the bass notes of each song. Now that’s some serious skill that not every group has (The only other one I can think of off the top of my head was The B-52’s, but I’m sure there’s more). He’s definitely in my top 5 keyboardists of all time.

I don’t really know what else I could say about this album because it’s really an experience that you as a listener need to experience for yourself. Maybe it won’t do anything for you, but it definitely does a lot for me and this is one I love to always listen to again when I’m in the right mood. It never fails to make me happy, even the long depressing final song of The End manages to make me smile, not because of its themes but just how great the music is. And The End really ends (haha) the album in a great way. It’s consistent in sound and flows beautifully where it’s almost 45 minute run time doesn’t feel that long at all. You immerse yourself in the album and just have a great time the whole way through (and clearly the band is having a great time as well).

This is definitely one for the history books in terms of rock music and one that will continue to stand the test of time for years and decades and centuries to come.

Never forget.

Song of Choice: Light My Fire

-Bosco

 

 

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1001 Albums: Francis Albert Sinatra and Antonio Carlos Jobim

#92

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Artist: Frank Sinatra

Album: Francis Albert Sinatra and Antonio Carlos Jobim

Year: 1967

Length: 28:05

Genre: Bossa Nova / Traditional Pop

“Quiet nights of quiet stars quiet chords from my guitar
Floating on the silence that surrounds us
Quiet thoughts and quiet dreams quiet walks by quiet streams
And a window looking on the mountains and the sea, how lovely”

pffff… Well, I guess I need to speak about this album to some extent. It’s music alright and it’s pretty decent music. Hearing Frank Sinatra team up with Jobim to create a nice blend of Bossa Nova and traditional pop that Sinatra was famous for. Hearing Sinatra sing such classics as The Girl From Ipanema (which appeared on a previous Bossa Nova album on this list originally sung by Astrud Gilberto) was definitely quite a treat, but overall I didn’t feel it really captured my attention in any way as a whole.

All I can really say is that it’s very nice music. It felt like a good throwback to when I started the list, like listening to the albums from the 50s again. It was a nice feeling, gave me memories of the winter night when I listened to Sinatra’s In The Wee Small Hours, waiting for my bus late at night. Times were very different then. I was working in Montreal at a film company, was still living with my parents, got to see Sandra on a regular basis (and our relationship was still relatively fresh at that time), I felt more confident and comfortable with my life having less responsibilities and getting the chance to relax in a very comfortable environment. Boy have things really changed since then. Am now living in Toronto and back in school, living on my own with basically all the responsibilities of a full-grown adult, still with Sandra and hitting close to a year and a half in our relationship, met new friends and lost old ones and am in a place where I just don’t feel as comfortable and relaxed (but that’s definitely the new responsibilities that have suddenly been thrust onto me). I’ve grown a lot since then and my Montreal days all feel like distant memories even though they weren’t that long ago. It’s funny how big changes in your life can do that.

As a whole the album was really just that, a nice album. I had it playing in the background as me and Sandra made some supper when she came up to visit and it really is the perfect music to just relax to. I always associate winter weather with this style of music, but that could really be because it was winter when I was making my way through the 50s and early 60s and it really felt like more peaceful times at the time. It was a nice break from all the 60s rock music I was going through and it felt good to get that throwback.

But with that finished it’s back to 60s rock music.

Song of Choice: The Girl From Ipanema

-Bosco

p.s What a terrible mouthful of a title for this album. Great creativity just naming it your very formal sounding versions of your names.