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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

Album_108_Original

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

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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

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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

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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)

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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

Album_97_Original

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

Album_96_Original

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.

 

 

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1001 Albums: The Velvet Underground & Nico

#91

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Artist: The Velvet Underground

Album: The Velvet Underground & Nico

Year: 1967

Length: 48:51

Genre: Art Rock

“Teenage Mary said to Uncle Dave
I sold my soul, must be saved
Gonna take a walk down to Union Square
You never know who you’re gonna find there
You gotta run, run, run, run, run”

Let’s add this album to the long list of famous albums that I just don’t really get. I was never a fan of the Velvet Underground and in the past I have tried to listen to this album with big failure. Part of me dreaded having to listen to it but part of me was intrigued because I never really did. It was a bag of mixed emotions going into it and that bag remained the same once it was done. I still have very mixed emotions about this album and honestly don’t know what to think of it.

It’s not my thing, that’s for sure. It’s not that I don’t like Art Rock or anything with experimentation, although I’m not a fan with some notable exceptions. There’s no denying these guys have talent and love to experiment in interesting ways. And I definitely will not deny the influence they’ve had on bands and how much skill went into creating this album. But it’s really an acquired taste, a difficult to swallow album that really isn’t for everyone. I get why some people love this album but I also get why people could be turned off by it. I’m unfortunately in the latter of this group, recognizing the achievement of the album but just not being into it.

One of my friend’s dared me to do a track by track review. which I thought was a terrible idea since I don’t like this album, but hey he dared me and that’s a challenge so why not. Let’s see a track by track review from the perspective of someone who isn’t a fan.

Sunday Morning:

Already a poor start for me. This feels beyond cheesy to me and if this is setting the mood for the rest of the album then we’re off to a bad start. Thankfully it’s apart stylistically and the rest of the album never returns to this cheese-fest. Please never let me endure this song again.

I’m Waiting For The Man:

Now this is what I’m talking about. Almost a proto-punk feel to it, hard guitars and a big beat. I was loving this song… until it just never ended. What the hell was going on… just the same repetitive thing over and over and over for almost 5 minutes. As much as I liked it, it just became dull after 2 minutes as I realised it just wasn’t gonna change at all.

Femme Fatale:

For those who have read my Nico review already know how I feel about this song. This would have been way better if I didn’t have to listen to Nico’s stupid voice. I hate her singing, sounds like she has a muffin stuffed in the back of her throat. I can see why the band and Andy Warhol like her being a bunch of underground pretentious arteeests, but honestly I just can’t stand it. Good song, better off with a different singer.

Venus in Furs:

Ugh. I guess this song is good, if you like high-pitched wailing sounds similar to bagpipes blaring in your ear. Big points for the whole art rock, experimental aspect, lose points because I found this obnoxious to my ears. Couldn’t wait for it to end and of course it was over 5 minutes long. Lucky me.

Run Run Run:

Solid tune. Really liked this one, probably my favourite. Nothing more to say, just really enjoyed it.

All Tomorrow’s Parties:

Snooze… another Nico song and of course this one is 6 minutes long. I was honestly just bored with this one and couldn’t grasp it at all. Maybe I just wanted to be over with this album by now but this song just didn’t do it for me. It’s one of my friend’s favourites… good for him I guess, maybe he’ll explain it to me one day.

Heroin:

Here is a great example when experimental music works very well. Dark subject matter mixed in with the instrumentation as a recreation of an experience. I thoroughly enjoyed this one and really liked what they set out to do. Thumbs up from me.

There She Goes Again:

Enjoyable. Sounds like they’re doing their best at a Bob Dylan impression, as tons of bands were doing at the time. Mostly just in the intonations of the vocals. Good stuff.

I’ll Be Your Mirror:

I honestly don’t remember this one and it seems to be the shortest of the album, so maybe that’s why. Need a quick re-listen to jog my memory. Give me a second…

Just as I suspected… another Nico song. I must have blocked it out of my memory and thanked god it was so short. Oh well, next.

The Black Angel’s Death Song:

My friend wanted me to write a whole paragraph on this one. I really didn’t want to seeing as I am obviously not the right person to write a retrospective on this album or delve deep and go into analysis since I’m not a an at all. But a challenge is a challenge so I figure I can fill up space with nonsense just so I can fill up a paragraph’s worth of words. Another bag-pipe sounding song, but not nearly as annoying as the other one, here it’s way more enjoyable and pleasant. I wish I could break this one down more than currently am (which is barely anything to begin with so whatever) but who knows, I’ll let the fans break this one down and I’ll just move my way through, enjoying the experience and broadening my horizons in music knowledge. Is this enough words for a paragraph? I guess so, he better be happy.

European Son:

Longest song on the album but wholly deserving of it’s length. I was really quick to save this one to my playlist before it took a sudden turn into weird territory. The beginning is a little misleading for what’s to come in the rest of the song. Loved it then got caught off guard and then got lost in the wild experimentation that was this song. It was a brain-melting experience but I’ll give it to them it was one that was worth sitting through this entire album. Great ending to an otherwise meh experience.

 

So there you have it, my brief and underwhelming track by track review of this album. Funnily enough, when this album first came out it bombed completely being deemed a financial and critical failure, selling barely any copies and just not getting the reviews it probably, maybe deserved. It’s only until years later when musicians of those times started talking about this album and the part it played in influencing them that it started to get the recognition it deserved. So who knows, maybe history will repeat itself and years from now I’ll finally rediscover it as the masterpiece it is. Or maybe I’ll stay stuck in the 60s mindset and be like… meh.

We will see.

Song of Choice: Run Run Run

-Bosco

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1001 Albums: The Who Sell Out

#90

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Artist: The Who

Album: The Who Sell Out

Year: 1967

Length: 38:46

Genre: Psychedelic Pop / Power Pop

“If you think that I don’t know about the little tricks you’ve played
And never see you when deliberately you put things in my way”

 

Those cheeky bastards are at it again.

After a long, long, long hiatus (probably the longest one I’ve ever had) I have returned and boy have I returned with a doozy of an album. I have to admit so far I do think this is one of the best albums I’ve heard so far, and if not my favourite, it definitely has a spot in the top 5 thus far. I always liked The Who and remember listening to this album over a year ago. But back then I was kind of just listening without listening, going through the discography and the motions and ending each one with a “yeah I liked that”. Thankfully this one appeared on this list because it allowed me to rediscover it and I have to say it has firmly placed itself as my current favourite Who album.

I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of people feel this way. It’s easy to put one of their later albums as a favourite to due to the maturity of their songwriting and even their first due to it’s raw rock power, but this one just resonates on so many levels. It’s important to note that this is The Who’s first concept album and arguably their greatest one, or at least their most successful as a concept. Unlike their later album Tommy, which depended on a narrative flow and story to hold it altogether, this one was able to have each of their songs stand on their own as mastered works but together bring out a much clearer picture.

For those who don’t know The Who have managed to successfully create a concept for an album that is masterfully executed in it’s pure simplicity. With the rise of Pirate Radios and rock music, they decided to create an entire album that gave the experience of listening to one of these channels. In between all their songs they have included radio adverts and jingles that never distract from the album but rather add a lot to it. It doesn’t end there, as if these guys weren’t cheeky enough, their songs satirize consumerism as a whole. It does this so masterfully by both glorifying the consumer culture while at the same time poking fun of it. It’s subtle but there’s never a moment that these boys don’t have their tongues firmly placed in their cheeks.

Outside of the concept, the songs on this album are just purely fantastic. I could listen to a vast majority of them on repeat and still be just as engaged by it as my first listening. Including their hit I Can See For Miles, other great ones include Odorono, Tattoo, I can’t Reach You as some that stood out for me. Even a humourous song like Silas Stingy which sticks out a little manages to still feel just as great (although the humour is cranked up in this one). It’s only by the end of the album that I sort of get out of it with Sunrise and Rael 1 and 2 just not really doing it for me, but that’s personal preference as they hold up well with the rest of the album. They managed to take on psychedelic sensibilities and turn it into a pop sound. It’s very much a psychedelic album disguised as pop rock (or is it the other way around?) and this is really what gives it it’s personality. Mixed with fantastic production and great harmonizing vocals and you have a classic.

One could easily break this album down and if we did we would be here for a very long time, which isn’t my intent, I’m mostly just here for the experience. But what an experience it was. The Who Sell Out has easily placed itself very high on my list of favourite albums. Who knows, maybe one day I’ll attempt a song by song analysis of this album, but until then I’ll just enjoy it for what it is: One of the greatest concept albums of all time.

Song of Choice: I Can See For Miles

-Bosco

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Worst to Best: Sparks Albums

For anyone who knows me, it’s no secret that I am a big Sparks fan. They’re one of my all-time favourite bands and when I tell people, conversations usually go like this:

“One of my favourite bands is Sparks”

“who?”

“Sparks”

“Sparks?”

“Yes”

“Never heard of them”

I’m not surprised, unless you’re one of the lucky few who are part of the cult following that is the Sparks fandom chances are you’ve never heard of them. Which is really a shame because their one of the most diverse and talented bands out there. To call them underrated is a bit of an understatement and it’s a real testament to their skills that they’ve been making albums since the late 60s and are still producing music up to today.

That’s actually why I decided to write this Worst to Best. With the release of their newest album “Hippopotamus” that came out in September, I wanted to take a look back at their discography and rank their albums.

It should be noted that this is not a definitive ranking and can change in the future. i mean, they do have 22 albums. Their sound musically has changed drastically throughout their career, touching on glam rock, synth wave, disco, orchestral, orchestral rock and new wave and have been hugely influential for many, many bands. That being said every album has that Sparks flavour and they manage to still be themselves despite the stylistic shifts. With Russel Mael’s unique falsetto singing style and Ron Mael’s satirical and humourous lyrics, the Mael brothers managed to create a catalogue of truly unique music.

They have a very long history and I’m not here to talk about that, I’m here to rank some albums. Having listened to their entire discography on four separate occasions I feel I have the capability of doing just that.

*It should be noted I stuck to their musical discography and did not include their newest album “Hippopotamus”, live albums, The Seduction of Ingmar Bergman or their collaboration with Franz Ferdinand called FFS (which always makes me laugh because all I can think is “For Fuck’s Sake” when I see that name).

So here it goes, Sparks Albums ranked from Worst to Best (In my humble opinion of course):

21. Interior Design

15 interior design

I felt like this one was a no brainer, but I might be heavily biased too because I just plain don’t like this album. It’s the only Sparks album I cannot sit through and avoid every time. The funny thing is, it’s technically not a bad album… just in terms of a Sparks album it really falls flat. It sounds like they were experimenting with something new that just didn’t deliver, which would explain why they never went back to this sound. It was so disappointing they wouldn’t even produce a new album for another 6 years. For the most part I find this album to just be boring. That’s honestly what it is. It feels tedious to get through and is just a big snore fest (with the exception of Madonna, which is the standout tune). If you enjoy it, that’s great, but as far as Sparks albums go it just doesn’t hit the mark at all.

20. Pulling Rabbits Out of a Hat

13 pulling rabbits out of a hat

This is such a strange Sparks album in the sense that it’s not bad but it’s incredibly underwhelming in terms of what you’d expect from Sparks. Other than the title song, which is actually fantastic, the rest of the album just never seems to hit that high and just feels disappointing. It’s almost as if Ron Mael wrote all the music in his sleep, as if he was on auto-pilot while writing it all. This is Sparks putting in the least amount of effort (which if anything is a testament to how good they are because it’s still good work, just not good Sparks work).

19. Plagiarism

17 Plagiarism

Sparks did an interesting thing with this album. Rather than recording new material, they decided to rework some of their old songs. It’s basically a Sparks cover album done by Sparks themselves (with some guest appearances by Erasure and Faith No More). It’s actually pretty great to hear new renditions of their songs and reimaginings but at the end of the day it’s still a heard that already situation and it doesn’t help that they put some songs on there more than once. So unless you want to hear two different versions of “This Town Ain’t Big Enough For the Both of Us” (which to be fair one of them is an extended version which is pretty cool) and “Something for the Girl with Everything” than I guess this is one to check out. Almost feels like a greatest hits of sorts. Interesting experiment but nothing new in material which is what puts it so low on the list.

18. Music That You Can Dance To

14 music that you can dance to

I want to say that starting at this album, every Sparks album is pretty damn good. This might be a biased opinion on my part because I love the band so much, but they’re discography really is full of incredibly strong material. You might experience some Sparks albums that you’re not crazy about because they do touch on so many different styles and one of those style just might not be your thing and that’s ok, but there’s no denying they managed to creat some damn good music. So why is this one considered the worst of all the good? Mainly because it’s half great and half forgettable. In a lot of ways it sort of feels the same way as Pulling Rabbits Out of a Hat but actual effort was put into this one. Other than the title track, Change and Let’s Get Funky, the rest do sort of feel like Sparks going through the motions but unlike Rabbits this one actually has personality. To add to their humour they would eventually re-release this album as “The Best of Sparks” confusing their fans who expected a best of compilation and were just met with this exact same album.

17. Balls

18 Balls

A great album with a title that always makes you double-take that unfortunately just did not have the impact it should have. Continuing the evolution of their sound from Gratuitous Sax they manage to create such a great atmosphere with this album with many highs and rarely any lows. However, that being said, this is one of those albums you need to listen to a bunch of times before realising it’s true worth. As great as it is it doesn’t leave a first impression and you might immediately forget about it after listening to it once (which is what happened to me), it was only after the songs came up on shuffle on my Ipod and I stopped to listen did I discover how great the tunes were. It’s definitely an experience as far as Sparks albums go and is one worth checking out.

16. In Outer Space

12 in outer space

Sparks step into the synth pop world is one that’s just a ton of fun. It’s hard not to have a blast listening to this one as you feel the dance beats carry you away and the poppy synth notes tickle your ears. As I go through this list part of me feels I should have placed this album a little higher. Looking back on the tunes this album contains some of my favourite Sparks songs, All You Ever Think About Is Sex and Rockin’ Girls. Ron’s humour is at a high on this album with endlessly hilarious lyrics and we even get a great guest appearance from Jane Wiedlin of the Go-Go’s on Cool Places. Even Russel gives a great deadpan performance on the song Popularity giving the impression of a hollow shell of a human left over from their glowing days of being so popular. Ok so there isn’t much in terms of depth on the album, it’s a lot of what you hear is what you get, but what you get is a ton of fun.

15. Introducing

7 Introducing

Introducing is a bit of a mess of an album, it sounded like they were trying a lot of things which resulted in great tunes but a slightly uncohesive album. It doesn’t flow as well as it should but it still provides the listener with great tunes such as Occupation, Forever Young, Over the Summer and my personal favourite Goofing Off, which borrows it’s style from a russian waltz of sorts and has a kick-ass guitar solo that you don’t see (or hear…) coming at all. It’s a bit of a forgotten album that gets lost amongst the great ones that came out around it (70s was a good time for Sparks). It was easily overshadowed and although doesn’t compare to some of the others that came out around the same time, it still holds it’s own.

14. Gratuitous Sax and Senseless Violins

16 gratuitous sax and senseless violins

After the very disappointing Interior Design and a six-year break, Sparks came back with this one and boy did they make a comeback. New sound, new ideas and a brand new album that surprised everyone. With their singles, When Do I Get To Sing “My Way”, When I Kiss You (I Hear Charlie Parker) and Now That I Own The BBC managed to put them back on the Top 40 charts across Europe since their single Beat The Clock in 1979. Deservedly so, the songs on this album succeed in sticking with you and leaving an impression long after the album has finished. Only problem is that there are a few meh songs that just don’t seem to have the same effect and the album does sort of blend together, with some songs becoming difficult to differentiate from one another, but the high notes are really high and leave this album with a strong impression.

13. Exotic Creatures of the Deep

21 exotic creatures of the deep

What do you get when you mix Ron Mael’s writing abilities, Russel Mael’s Falsetto voice, violins and other orchestral type instruments and some pounding hard rock guitars? You get the sound of Exotic Creatures. Every-time you hear sweeping violins and organ you know the rockin’ sounds of that hard hitting guitar is right around the corner creating a truly unique album in the orchestral rock genre. It truly is it’s own album and doesn’t fail to leave you both entertained and amused especially with songs like Lighten Up, Morrissey, Good Morning and I Can’t Believe You Would Fall For the Crap in this Song. They even tackle modern day ideas such as Photoshop and poke fun at the modern day technology boom with This is the Renaissance. This album would also launch their most ambitious tour to date, where they performed every single one of their albums from front to back live. 21 nights, one entire album every night. Quite the feat which required relearning a ton of songs they probably had never even played live before. Kudos to them.

12. Hello Young Lovers

20 hello young lovers

Continuing with the sound they started to develop in Gratuitous Sax but also predicting the sound they would eventually create in Exotic Creatures, this album sort of acts as a transitional piece between the two and where most transitional albums of artists stuck between two sounds in development, this one hits the mark very well. Even though every song has that unique brand of Sparks quality to it, with humour and enough absurdity to leave you wondering what they were on when they wrote this, this album also has the distinction of having one of their greatest songs of all time: Dick Around. A masterpiece of Sparks that lasts for almost seven minutes but keeps you engaged the entire time as it sweeps and changes, adding layers upon layers of music throughout the running time and keeping to form with it’s theme of just dicking around. It had become a big fan favourite and remains a highlight of their entire career (and probably the biggest reason why this album is ranked this high). It does overshadow the rest of the album, especially since it is the opener, but it leaves you so pumped that you just need to stick the rest of the way through and it delivers, maybe with a few valleys here and there, but enough that when As I Sit Down To Play The Organ At The Notre Dame Cathedral (a personal favourite) comes on, you’re more than satisfied.

11. Lil’ Beethoven

19 lil beethoven

I’ll be honest, I am not a fan of this album at all. It’s one of the few I have a hard time sitting through and if it was up to me (which technically it is, I am writing this) it would be much lower on the list. However, it is widely considered by many fans and even some critics as being one of their best. So I compromised and put it about halfway up the list to make everyone happy. Despite not liking it, I do see why it’s hailed as the supposed masterpiece it is. Ron manages to write 9 “Classical pieces” in the only way Sparks can. Considered their career-defining Opus, they have moved to a purely orchestral sounding… sound and have decided to take on classic music influences to create this album. The end result is a wildly debated masterpiece of sorts that has people divided. It seems on both sides of the same coin, the exact same arguments can be used to why they like or dislike this album. My biggest issue is how repetitive it is. Every song, despite being their own unique song, feels long as hell because it’s so damn repetitive the whole way through, with most songs just have the title repeated over and over and over and over. And while most people would be turned off by this… others realise… well, that was the point. Sparks purposefully made every song incredibly repetitive and even threw in some humour (Your Call’s Very Important To Us. Please Hold comes to mind). This is one of those albums where you have to listen for yourself and make your own opinion, but there’s no doubt that they were definitely on top of their game when creating it.

10. Whomp That Sucker

10 Whomp That Sucker

I’m about to have a fanboy moment here because (bias alert) this is my favourite Sparks album. I’ve listened to this album more times than I can count and I believe it was the album that solidified my love for Sparks. Understanding my bias I put it lower than I normally would have to at least be fair, but goddamn is this album such a fun ride. It’s full-energy from start to finish, Ron’s sense of humour shines throughout and the whole band just sounds like they’re having a blast. There’s a reason it’s called Whomp That Sucker because I honestly feel like I’ve been whomped by the end of it. SIde A of this album whch includes the ever funny Tips For Teens (what teens are asking you for tips exactly Mael brothers?), Funny Face (about a good looking model who just wants to look ugly), the ever catchy and engaging Where’s My Girl (which has one of my favourite guitar solos, it’s truly mesmerizing), The high-energy Upstairs (which is my all-time favourite Sparks song) and I Married a Martian (which concludes Side A in such a pleasing way) is one of the best Side A’s I’ve heard and is one I constantly replay all the time. Taking advantage of the New Wave sound that was becoming quickly popular in the early 80’s. they jumped onto the high-pitched synths, obnoxious music (That’s Not Nastassia ends in the most deliciously annoying way that you’ll want to close the song) and danceable beats (David Kendrick just wails on his drum). *Side Note: I actually put this album on as I wrote this*

9. Terminal Jive

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Continuing to work with Giorgio Moroder after No. 1 in Heaven, they decided to leave the pure synth disco sound and create a more disco-rock album. Smart choice as the disco sound probably would have overstayed it’s welcome and the infusion of rock guitars really makes the album sound fresh for a Sparks Album. As a whole the album has an endless supply of great tunes, with Stereo and The Greatest Show on Earth (which has some of the funniest deadpan lyrics) being standout songs. They even poke fun at their new sound with the song Rock n Roll People in a Disco World. The only fault this album has is a repeat of their opener When I’m With You at the end of Side A in instrumental format, which is honestly just useless filler for absolutely no reason. No idea what they were thinking when they added it. But if you’re able to look past that, the rest of the album is incredibly solid, leaving you with catchy tunes and fun riffs. Their song Stereo even experiments with the stereo format, having sounds jumping back and forth from left to right on your speakers, playing into the theme and subject of the song in a very clever way.

8. Big Beat

6 Big Beat

Sparks at their most Rock n Roll. Stripping away their synthesizer and piano (although it does make appearances throughout) guitars and bass take the stage and dominate this album unlike any other they’ve done. True to the name of their album, he drums bang away loudly and proudly and you’re left with no choice, you have to bang your head. With Big Beat they don’t leave any man behind, even giving the bassist some sick riffs to play with (Throw Her Away and Get a New One,  hilarious song that at live shows Ron has to state to the audience that their songs should not be taken literally). Russel is in full form here, giving all his energy and sweating like a madman as he makes his way through every song. Fill-er-up, Confusion, Screwed Up, Everybody’s Stupid and the aforementioned song above are highlights of this album which never gives up and makes sure you the listener are having a blast of a time. This also remains one of Sparks most accessible albums (which is truly a feat for them to do) and can have anyone listen to it and enjoy it.

7. Angst in my Pants

11 Angst in my pants

I half-lied when I talked about Whomp That Sucker. It’s not my favourite album exactly. It’s in a tie with this one. But whereas Whomp That Sucker can be a little alienating at points for people who know nothing about Sparks, Angst in My Pants is usually a great place for newcomers to start. It has a perfect blend of accessibility and Sparks flavour, remaining both unique to the Sparks sound and sensibilities yet still managing to create something digestible for new listeners. I had shown this album to a friend who had never heard Sparks and he really enjoyed it, he even pointed out that this was definitely a concept album. I never thought of it that way and it’s something I’ll have to look into for sure, but it would definitely give this album a whole new perspective if that’s the case. What’s great about this album is that you can go into in-depth analysis of every song. Ron Mael really shows his skills with lyrical and thematic content here and plays up the satire and tongue-in-cheek sense of humour of the band, almost peaking with it. With Angst in my Pants describing the difficulty of dealing with ones sexual urges, I Predict giving off incredibly obvious predictions in a way that’s supposed to be considered incredible (with one of the funniest endings to a song, where the singer predicts the song will fade out and it never does), Nicotina describing love as an addiction to cigarettes, and The Decline and Fall of Me as a satirical look at the band itself, just to name a few. It’s quite an experience from start to end.

6. Halfnelson

1 Sparks Halfnelson.jpg

Well, here we are. Sparks debut album. Before becoming the duo of the Mael Brothers, Sparks was a full band that shared writing credits amongst it’s members. This debut album stands apart from the rest of the discography mostly in sound and lyrical content. The humour is sort of there, but not fully. The sound can be heard, but not quite. Here we have Sparks as a pretty straightforward Glam Rock band, but what sets them apart from most is that they actually experimented with their sound and tried to create unique sounding pieces for the time. Sure they weren’t noticed, except for their single Wonder Girl, which was a small hit, and they didn’t really make an impact, but Halfnelson is truly a hidden gem in their entire catalogue. For a debut album it’s incredibly strong and solid the whole way through and has it’s place as one of the best Sparks albums.

5. A Woofer in Tweeter’s Clothing

2 A woofer in tweeter's clothing.jpg

Continuing from their debut, Sparks had just gone up instead of down. The sound from their debut leaking onto this one, the band was tighter and better and managed to make even stronger material. It’s not much different from their debut and sounds like extra songs that didn’t make it onto the first album, but it feels like they saved the better music for the follow-up, which leaves Woofer on par with their debut with a slight edge to it putting it a little higher. There isn’t much else that can be said about this album that wasn’t said about their debut other than it’s the band getting together one last time before the Mael brothers would move to England and creating an incredibly strong album that proved their musicianship as a band. They may not have garnered any attention or major success but remains a treasure hidden deep in the music of the early 70s.

4. No. 1 in Heaven

8 No 1 in Heaven.jpg

Sparks and Girogio Moroder got together and made one of the greatest Disco albums of all time, that is disco from the warped perceptions and minds of the Mael brothers. Mixing Girogio’s production was a nice touch for Sparks and really creates a completely unique album that mixes Sparks sensibilities with an almost dying genre. They take a completely fresh take on the disco genre, turning what was once shallow into an art project. With the ever amazing Tryouts for the Human Race, Fast dancing Academy Award Performance, Mesmerizing La Dolce Vita, the dance club hit Beat the Clock, the artistic endeavours of My Other Voice which sued syntheziser and voice modulation beautifully as part of the song that actually makes sense and the eponymous Number 1 Song in Heaven that ends the whole thing beautifully, leaving the listener beyond satisfied with what they’ve just heard. It is as much music as it is an experience. Sparks and Moroder make the perfect combination on this album, constantly being on the same page of where to go and supporting each other musically so well. There’s nothing quite like this album and it definitely sets it’s mark in the Sparks discography.

3. Kimono My House

3 Kimono My House

The seminal Sparks album. The widely considered Sparks-defining album. The everyone must listen to this Sparks album Sparks album. The Sparks album that is part of the 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die. The Sparks album that finally got the band noticed and garnering success. Their career launching album. It has a lot of distinctions and there’s no surprise why, it’s fucking great. This was the first Sparks album I ever heard and I remember sitting there and being completely blown away by it to the point I just had to get this album right away. I didn’t but I eventually did, brand-spanking-new… which sucked because the remaster is awful sounding, but that doesn’t take away from how great the album is. The album starts with the ever famous This Town Ain’t Big Enough For The Both Of Us, a song so confusing lyrically that it just captures your attention so well and sticks with you forever and ever (and still remains one of my all-time favourites). You could go on and on about this album and how great it is with Amateur Hour, Talent is an Asset, Thank God It’s Not Christmas, Falling in Love with Myself Again, Here in Heaven, Equator, etc. SO many people have talked in depth about it so I won’t waste my time repeating what has already been said but this album flows amazingly from one song to another and has such a unifying sound throughout that you never have a moment that takes you out of it. There’s no way that anyone could listen to this album and not enjoy it, it just doesn’t seem possible (but as usual, I could just be biased). After leaving the rest of their band behind, moving to the UK and becoming a duo, this album truly showed the musicianship of the Mael brothers and is the defining Sparks album.

2. Propaganda

4 Propaganda

How do you top an album like Kimono My House? How about proving how good you are by releasing an album in the exact same year with all new material that still manages to be an incredibly strong album. The only reason this album tops Kimono is because of the work and effort that had to be put in the create this album to have it released the exact same year of their monster hit and to still manage to be a solid and strong album. That takes a lot and is one hell of a feat that they succeeded in doing and as a whole it still manages to be it’s own album with it’s own sound and it’s own flavour. When the acapella Propaganda opens the album, you already know what you’re in for and how it just blends and transitions so well into At Home, At Work, At Play, it’s guaranteed the album will be great and it delivers and doesn’t disappoint. It might be a little more alienating than Kimono but truly is for the hardcore fans and has it’s place at number 2.

That being said, if their two best albums are at the number 2 and 3 place, then what could possibly take number 1? (for those who know their discography you already know what it is and it might be a bit of a shock for most) but here it is… the best Sparks album…

 

1. Indiscreet

5 Indiscreet

Indiscreet? Really? I know a lot of you may not agree with this and it makes sense. It followed the behemoth shadow of Kimono and Propaganda and was doomed to be overshadowed by both and fall into relative obscurity. No matter how hard it tried it wouldn’t have been as well received because the two previous albums were just way to good that they had nowhere to go but down. When the bar is set so high, there’s no way to pass it. That’s what happened with Indiscreet. They continued to improve their sound and sense of humour and created something that was even more alienating than Propaganda, which obviously turned people off to it. In retrospect, it holds up and is truly a Sparks masterpiece. Here they try their hand at so many different styles and themes and ideas and manage to make it flow super well. It’s not super showy and over the top and Sparks takes a much more mellow mood compared to to their previous efforts which just creates such an atmosphere throughout the album that most f their other albums would not be able to recreate. The opener Hospitality on Parade sets the mood up perfectly of what’s to be expected and stands as one of their greatest songs, remaining simplistic but eerily layered. We bust into a classic Sparks sounding song with Happy Hunting Grounds, that takes from the page of Propaganda and then follow up with Without Using Hands, that is funnily enough more literal than expected. Three songs in, three different styles and it doesn’t stop there as we go through Get in the Swing, Under the Table with Her and How Are You Getting Home? All different and yet somehow it all works so perfectly together. (Let’s not forget the ever hilarious Tits and one of my personal favourites In The Future which is just a high energy song that predicts some of their future sounds they would work with). Sparks were trying a lot of new things with this album and they managed to put it altogether in a cohesive sounding album that in retrospect deserves way more credit and praise than it has. It might be a bit of an acquired taste, but so is good wine and like wine it has aged fantastically.

 

So there you have it, Sparks from Worst to Best. Do you agree with it? What are your opinions? How would you rank them? Do you even like Sparks? Let me know, I’d like to hear what you think.

Oh what’s that? What did I think of Hippopotamus? Where would I rank it?

Briefly, Hippopotamus feels like a Sparks album. If you know Sparks and their sound and brand of humour, this album is exactly what you’d expect. Nothing new, nothing crazy, but nothing disappointing either. It’s exactly what you’d expect and it pleases and amuses you enough to be satisfied with a new Sparks album (heck they have a song called So Tell Me Mrs. Lincoln Aside From That How Was The Play? which is hilarious and shows that the Mael brothers are still packing a punch with their sense of humour). If I’d rank it it would probably be around 10 – 12, in that area. Its a stripped down Sparks, simplified yet still doing what they do best.

That’s it. I’m done. Bye.

 

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1001 Albums: Piper at the Gates of Dawn

#89

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Artist: Pink Floyd

Album: Piper at the Gates of Dawn

Year: 1967

Length: 41:51

Genre: Psychedelic Rock / Experimental Rock

Why’d’ya have to leave me there
Hanging in my infant air
Waiting?
You only have to read the lines
They’re scribbly black and everything shines

And it happened. I was wondering when I’d get to Pink Floyd. I knew they would come around eventually, I mean obviously they would be on the list… how could they not? They’re one of those bands, you know? The kind that evveryyoooone talks about as being soooooo amazingly amazing that they’re amazingness cannot be topped by how amazingly amazing they are? Also, I knew because I’ve already looked at the list and know they have at least three more albums on it… so… yeah….

I’ll be honest, I wasn’t looking forward to listening to this album… or any Pink Floyd album really. If you didn’t catch on my sarcasm in the last paragraph… I’m not a fan at all. I had the pleasure/displeasure (depending how you look at it) of listening to their entire discography a little over a year ago. Boy was I met with such a mixed bag of feelings and had no idea how I felt about them at all. To this day I still don’t know how to feel about them. All I know is that, I’m not crazy about them and you won’t find me seeking out to listen to their work or buy their albums, however… I can see why people would love them.

And I mean normal music-loving people and not pretentious stoner dudes who think getting high and listening to Dark Side of the Moon somehow elevates them to a transcendent state of mind that is awe-inspiring and mind-blowing, because seriously if you need drugs to enjoy something… that’s not a good sign. I hate those people. But… I do have good friends who re level-headed and grounded who love Pink Floyd and I can see their point-of-view.

This really is something different and unique. To call this psychedelic music is a little bit of an understatement. This takes the idea of psychedelia and turns it up to 11. If you told me Syd Barrett was high on LSD (which he was) then I would not be surprised. I’m actually more surprised that the rest of the band were pretty much sober. Only the whacked out mind of a man whose mind was slowly deteriorating would be able to come up with something like this. Which, sad story, actually happened to Syd Barrett. There’s a really heart breaking story where Pink Floyd were recording an album and some fat kinda sad dude walked in and it took them a long time before they realised it was their old friend Syd. They mentioned it as one of the saddest moments they ever experienced in their life. Even around this time, Syd would sometimes be so far gone, they’d have to drag him on stage and he’d just stand there with his arms hanging down. The crowd went nuts anyway because they just loved Syd, for better or worse. Syd seemed to have that kind of power over people and I think this debut album perfectly encapsulates everything that Syd Barret was, from the mind-warping to the insanely genius.

Every song is a little bit of him. You could get a straight-forward psych song such as Lucifer Sam and then have to sit through 9 minutes of almost hard-bop style jazz (Interstellar Overdrive). There’s even songs that trick you, starting off as a straight-forward song only to switch over and take you on a mind-bending trip (Take Up Thy Stethoscope and Walk). Anyone whose really into this style would easily put this at the top of their lists, and as much as I recognize all this… it still wasn’t for me.

No matter what anyone tells me and no matter how much I see it, I’ll never be into Pink Floyd. I just don’t get it, I guess. First time I heard this album a little over a year ago, it actually gave me a massive headache. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing in retrospect, but headaches are never a good thing for me. I wish I could love them. I wish I could see what dorm room stoners see when they put a Pink Floyd album on. But I just don’t… maybe my personal tastes in music just suck, or maybe their just different, or maybe I’m counter-counter-culture and like just being against the norm… who knows?

Pink Floyd will always be one of those bands that left a mark on music history, alongside The Beatles and Led Zeppelin of every cliched top 10 list. But looking past my personal feelings… I guess I can see it and I guess that’s all that matters… I guess.

Well, I might be slowing down with the albums again for the next week or so. One of my favourite bands just released a new song and I have plans to write a separate article ranking their albums from worst to best. They have roughly 23 albums… so that might take awhile to plan out. But I’ll still try my best to get an album on the list checked off once in awhile.

Song of Choice: Take Up Thy Stethoscope and Walk

-Bosco

 

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1001 Albums: Disraeli Gears

#88

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Artist: Cream

Album: Disraeli Gears

Year: 1967

Length: 33:37

Genre: Psychedelic Rock / Blues Rock

“It’s getting near dawn,
When lights close their tired eyes
I’ll soon be with you my love,
To give you my dawn surprise
I’ll be with you darling soon,
I’ll be with you when the stars start falling”

My mood’s been kind of weird these days, hitting a bit of a down. Not going to go into details so I’m going to try my best to stick to talking about Cream.

Cream was a nice little treat for my otherwise crappy day. I already knew their big hit “Sunshine of my Love’ thanks to Guitar Hero and just… you know life in general. It’s a pretty big song for them, hard not to have heard it at all unless you’ve been living under a rock. I actually didn’t expect it to suddenly come on… I mean I should have, but I didn’t look ahead or even think about it in general, so when it came on I definitely got excited. You know the type of excitement when  a song you know plays and you’re all like “Hey I know that song! I KNOW IT! EVERYONE I HAVE HEARD THIS SONG!!!!!!! HEY!!!! HEEEEYYYYY!!!!!” I was alone so screaming that out didn’t really have much purpose or effect in general.

As much as the band was trying to get away from their blues rock roots, they still managed to incorporate it with their new psychedelic sound they were aiming for,  creating a nice blend of both styles. Was nice to hear Eric Clapton again after hearing him on The Bluesbreakers album. I should have know it was him just based on the sound of the guitar work, which is very much his own sound, but I never caught on it seems. To be honest I should have just known he played on Cream in general because that’s just general music knowledge but whatever we all have brain farts once in awhile. My point is, it was nice to hear him play again. I know a lot of people aren’t crazy about Eric Clapton but there’s no denying he does what he does very well and can really create a guitar groove that you can get lost in.

Musically I feel I don’t really have much to say. For the most part it’s just some really good shit. I thoroughly enjoyed it from start to finish and didn’t find a weak moment in the whole album. It was such a treat to sit through this album and feel myself grooving to Ginger Baker’s drum beats and Eric Clapton’s solos. The song writing is overall damn solid and the album really evokes a mixture of the summer of love with some hard rock sensibilities which I’d take over any type of hippie-dippie music any day. It’s like if you grabbed everything good about it and pumped it up to make it rock a little more then you would probably have Cream… probably. I honestly don’t know what I’m talking about.

There’s some interesting stories surrounding this album. Ok, not that interesting but more… amusing. One interesting note is that they actually recorded this album in a record three days which if you have heard the album know that’s one hell of an impressive feat. I think they were on a race with time because apparently their work visas expired their final recording day, so they really had to crank this out as quickly and efficiently as they could. Well, it definitely paid off because the final result is simply amazing.

Another funny story is where the title came from. I mean, Disraeli Gears is a rather odd title for an album and isn’t mentioned anywhere in any of the songs or seems to have anything to do with the album. According to Ginger Baker it was a slip of the tongue by one of the roadies who called the Derailleur Gears racing bikes Disraeli Gears by accident. The band found it so funny that they just had to name their album that. What do you expect from a band who gave themselves such a self-indulgent band name. We all know they named themselves Cream from the expression “Cream always rises to the top” to show off their over-confidence as a band. I guess they just knew they were the top of the top. Or at least believed that. Maybe not the top, but definitely up there.

I’m going to start mentally preparing myself for the next album, which I am not looking forward to at all. Until then, I’ll try to keep Cream in my mind to keep me sane.

Song of Choice: SWALBR

-Bosco

 

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1001 Albums: Forever Changes

#87

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Artist: Love

Album: Forever Changes

Year: 1967

Length: 42:05

Genre: Psychedelic Rock / Baroque Pop

“What is happening and how have you been
Gotta go but I’ll see you again
And oh, the music is so loud
And then I fade into the

Crowds of people standing everywhere
‘Cross the street I’m at this laugh affair
And here they always play my songs”

Well, well, Love, we meet again. Feels like not too long ago we encountered each other for the first time and here we are again. What will you bring for me today? What wonders and marvels will be at my ears this time around? I loved Da Capo, will I love this one as much? Who knows but the excitement and anticipation is killer as usual (even though the album has already started playing as I write this). We shall see.

It seems there’s a lot of history associated with this album. Coming so soon off Da Capo, the band was in jeopardy of breaking up due to a lot of struggles within the band itself. Members doing drugs, fighting for control and just not agreeing (especially between Arthur Lee and Bryan MacLean, the two main songwriters) with the former even refusing to tour for some time, it seemed they had one last shot to give it a go. Trying to capitalise on the whole flower power and summer of love movement happening t the time, they decided to make it a more hippie style album, especially compared to the last one. It seems Arthur Lee, despite being part of the counter culture never subscribed to the whole flower power idea, stating that sunshine wasn’t enough to cure all the darkness in the world. SO as much as this album has those sensibilities of the hippie movement, there’s Arthur’s frame of mind sprinkled throughout to never get it to that point.

This is considered one of the greatest psychedelic music albums of all time and I guess I can sort of see why that is. Musically it’s incredibly strong and the band seems to be tighter than ever. They’ve expanded their talent and have grown considerably from the last album, delving more artistically into their work and pushing their song writing to the limits. However, it’s not really doing much for me. I think that’s more due to the style rather than the music itself. There’s a lot of elements of Folk here and we all know my sentiments towards folk, a genre I respect but just am not into. The only song I’ve previously heard from this album is “The Red Telephone” while taking my psychedelic music class. It was that and “7 and 7 is” that introduced me to the band. I always loved the latter way more than the former… so maybe that should have been an indication of how I’d feel about this album.

You really do get a sense that Arthur Lee is trying to take snapshot of how things were. A moment in time, a memory that he wanted to preserve before things got really bad. You can hear it in the music and in his vocals. He sings with a sort of desperation that’s hard to recreate. A desperation to just keep things together and make sure that they stay together. It’s almost sad, but never quite gets there.

As “The Red Telephone” plays it brings back vague memories of when I was in that class. Times seemed great. Had a best friend at the time (we’ve sadly parted ways in a really bad way) and we were in the class together, cracking jokes and all around just having a good time. It’s funny how life goes, eh? You think you have things set and things will stay that way. But sometimes even the best things turn bad. One second you’re super close to someone and love them and the next you find yourself hating everything about them. How does that happen? How do you go from being so close to so distant like you’ve never known them. Feeling like you suddenly are nothing and are made to seem useless and worthless in someone’s life is never a good feeling… but how can someone do that? How can someone just click that part of their brain off and throw someone away so easily like they’re a toy that they’re done playing with? How can some people be that awful?

God dammit album… what are you doing to me? I wanted to be happy not reminisce about sad shit. This album seems to have a weird power over me as it plays. It must be the vibe. Definitely has this solemn aura that just affects you. Funny, how music can do that to you sometimes…

Before this gets worse, I’ll sign off here and let the album finish.

Song of Choice: A House is not a Motel

-Bosco

PS. Finished it and I have to say it’s a really solid album and is strong overall. Good shit.

 

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1001 Albums: Goodbye & Hello

#86

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Artist: Tim Buckley

Album: Goodbye & Hello

Year: 1967

Length: 42:41

Genre: Folk Rock / Psychedelic Rock

If you tell me a lie I’ll cry for you
Tell me of sin and I’ll laugh
If you tell me of all the pain you’ve had
I’ll never smile again

Everywhere there’s rain my love
Everywhere there’s fear”

Ever wake up having one of those existential crises? You know which one I’m talking about? The doubt of where you are in your life, what you’re currently doing with you life. That fear of where you’re headed and what you’ll become. That feeling that you haven’t made a name for yourself at your age even though you thought you’d have way more to your name by now. That feeling of existential dread that you might never amount to anything and continue to feel the way you are.

That one.

I mean, it’s not as bad as it seems. We’ve all gone through those feelings. We’ve all been afraid of our own futures and worried about where we were headed and what we’ll become in our lives. As anything, you stop yourself and realise that you’re the master of your own destiny (unless of course everything is in fact pre-determined in our lives and no matter what we do we can’t change that… but that’s pretty depressing to think about). All we can really do is keep moving forward, learn to better ourselves and become stronger as people and continue to grow. And most importantly, get off our asses and go out and do the things we want to do, no matter how scary.

Easier said than done of course, but possible no matter how difficult. Easier for some, harder for others. At the end of the day we all have our own struggles, the biggest difference is whether we choose to let them over-consume us and control our lives or choose to move past them and come out stronger and bigger than you were before. It’s tougher but I would choose the latter every time.

I woke up with that feeling the other morning after two months of not having that feeling, I guess I was due for it. I don’t know if it’s because I’m 25 and going through a sort of quarter life crisis and just terrified of what am I gonna do with my life, or because I’m just an incredibly anxious person who overthinks everything, either way it was there and kind of shook me up. I realised I sort of need to get up and move… which is taking baby steps, but I feel like if I keep going, things will work out for sure.

This was meant to be more inspiring than sad, but whatever, take from it what you will, I have an album to listen to.

I know absolutely nothing about Tim Buckley and the wikipedia page for this album really has nothing to say so I’m going in absolutely blind with this one. I’m about four songs in and already I’m starting to see the uniqueness that is Tim Buckley. As I’ve said in previous posts, Folk is not my favourite or strongest genre of music, however, Tim seems to completely redefine what it means to be Folk by blending in all these psychedelic qualities to it without ever becoming psychedelic music itself. It’s still very much folk rock all around.

I honestly don’t really know what to say. I am at a loss of words in a lot of ways. Not because it’s boring or uninspiring, far from it actually, it’s a really fascinating album, but because it’s such a unique take on an old genre that I really have no idea how to express it. This ain’t Bob Dylan’s Folk rock, I’ll tell you that. Odd sound effects, trippy, mythical lyrics, strange effects added to the instruments, it’s like what folk rock would be if it tripped on acid. Just a little acid though. Heck, the song that just passed was called Hallucinations… sure felt like one too.

This seems to be one of those albums on the list that were for the most part forgotten or ignored when first released but in retrospect garnered a huge respect and following. The little critique I read called it groundbreaking and revolutionary, which as each tune goes by, I can definitely feel that sentiment. Nothing I’ve listened to has quite been like this and it really stands as being it’s own thing. Even Tim Buckley’s voice, which I honestly thought was a woman singing for a second, is quite unique and adds that extra layer to the music that really makes it pop. But not pop as in popping a balloon or popping corn… that would be ridiculous…

Speaking of popping corn. My friends somehow convinced me to go see It this week. I know that doesn’t seem like a big deal to lots of you, but to those who know me know that it is. I don’t hate Horror movies, I actually have a lot of rspect for them and have been trying to watch all the classics to broaden my movie knowledge in general. But Horror movies don’t sit well with me. Already being an incredibly anxious person and scared of the dark, watching a horror movie is the perfect recipe for making sure I have sleepless nights and nightmares. Can’t control that, has always been that way since I saw Halloween H20 in grade five. Why did an elementary school teacher think it was ok to show this movie to a class of 10 – 12 year olds is beyond me. Lack of judgement? Probably, but then again I had the choice to not watch it if I really wanted to. My curiosity had the better of me. My curiosity seems to do that to me. Screw me over emotionally all the time. You think I’d have learned by now, but nope. Lesson is… never listen to your curiosity. There’s a reason the expression Curiosity killed the cat is a thing. I mean, curiosity is good when used well… but I’ve come to a point that it makes me want to know every detail of everything and believe me… some things… you just don’t want to know. *SHUDDERS*

So yeah, It was good. Thoroughly enjoyed it, didn’t find it scary. Creepy at times for sure, but never scary. Nice story about facing your fears and overcoming them, which is a moral I kind of needed slapped in my face at that moment (no joke).

I’m not here to do a movie review though. Actually I’m not here to review anything technically. I know my posts have slowly become reviews as I listen to more and more albums and get a slightly better ear when it comes to music, but I remember my initial intentions always being about chronicling the journey of listening to the albums, not critiquing them. It’s honestly hard not too. How do you talk about an album without breaking it apart? Especially in a review-like setting? Oh well, I do what I do what I do what I do.

Three songs are left on the album and I still don’t have a favourite. I feel this might be one of those where I have difficulty picking a song of choice. Usually it’s for albums I didn’t really care for and I always feel like following up the song of choice with a little (…I guess) because at that point I just had to pick something. In this case, that’s not the case. I feel a little mesmerised by the whole experience of this album that… I’m not sure exactly what to pinpoint out of it all.

I’m for sure overselling the album a bit, but you have to put it into context. I just went from psychedelic music and The fucking Monkees to suddenly be met with this piece of majestic folk rock. And I’m not joking about majestic, with all the themes of kings and queens and castles. The song of the same name as the album is an 8-minute epic that illustrates imagery of lutes and fools and knights. Tim Buckley almost sounds like a modern day bard playing on the green of the castle, telling medieval style stories to the local peasants.

oh… I think I got it now… cool.

Song of Choice: Goodbye and Hello

-Bosco

 

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1001 Albums: Headquarters

#85

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Artist: The Monkees

Album: Headquarters

Year: 1967

Length: 31:10

Genre: Pop Rock

“Love is understanding
Don’t you know that this is true?
Love is understanding
It’s in everything we do

In this generation (in this generation)
In this lovin’ time (in this lovin’ time)
In this generation (in this generation)
We will make the world shine”

Well, I’m happy I’m getting a little break from psychedelic music. Unfortunately that little break is The Monkees, also known as a poor man’s Beatles. If I had known I’d be getting some straightforward mushy pop rock in place of psych music I would have never made that wish… but what can you do?

It’s not that The Monkees are bad… they’re just listenable as a whole. Another easily digestible and accessible band for the masses to enjoy ad nauseum. I wouldn’t have expected to see The Monkees on this list at all especially knowing their big pop hits as a whole. Everyone knows “I’m A Believer” which is a catchy tune but nothing to really brag about as being amazing music for the history pages. This album does have the distinction of being the first album where The Monkees had full creative control over. It seems in the past they had studio musicians and writers creating the music for them and it was really here where they fought hard to get their creative control and write all the music themselves. Which is cool, I guess… but really, who cares? It’s the fucking Monkees, I don’t think they really hold that kind of weight that someone who picked up this book was so excited to hear about their album where they finally gained full creative control. Like wooooooow, jesus.

Ok, I know, I sound a little bitter here. Did The Monkees hurt me in some way in the past? Where is this all coming from? Honestly no where. I don’t hate The Monkees at all. I’ve found myself enjoying their music in the same way anyone enjoys pop music. It’s fun, you enjoy for the three minutes of play time and then you move on to the next. I find it difficult to understand why it’s even here on this list. I’m currently six songs in and absolutely nothing has really stood out as being that outstanding. “Band 6” comes close as this little piece of absurdity that’s only 40 seconds long within a whole heap of pop songs that follow your rather generic and bland love themes. But even then it was so short that you barely notice it go by.

I mean, so far nothing has been bad… the music is decent and the tambourine playing is ok. Lyrics are nothing out of the ordinary for pop music and the vocals are good… I honestly can’t think of anything really to say that has any real weight or merit to mention, except that it’s pretty great that at least the band can say they did it all by themselves. Fantastic, participation medal for you. You’re all big boys now. Congratulations.

These songs for the most part aren’t even that catchy, none are sticking in my head or catching my ear, and I’m listening man, I’m listening hard. It’s really doing nothing for me at this moment. And hey, if you love this album, that’s cool, I’m happy for you… It’s unfortunately doing nothing for me at this moment. Maybe I need more of an open mind to really really… and I mean REALLLLYYYY get it. But… nah fuck it, I don’t feel like it. It’s straightforward pop music and there’s really nothing else to say about it. It’s formulaic, shallow and bland… good family friendly radio music.

From the last paragraph to this one I decided to go do my dishes as the rest of the album played. I figured it’d be a better way to spend my time rather than staring at this blank screen trying to figure out what to say. Shame too, because side b decided to become slightly more interesting, unfortunately the album at this point had already lost my interest enough to really care to stop my dishes and come back. There was an experimental track “Zilch” which was basically just spoken word that I felt this album just did not earn to have on it. You can’t give us all this pop music only to suddenly throw in this piece of experimental spoken word. Other than that and some upbeat tunes, I can’t really say anything noteworthy occurred. The final tune is pretty cool… so I guess that’s something.

Ugh, final thoughts… Straightforward pop music with some interesting tunes sprinkled about here and there but for the most part nothing really extraordinary or worth mentioning. Unless you like this kind of music, just skip it, you’re not really missing out on much.

Song of Choice: No Time

-Bosco

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1001 Albums: Triangle

#84

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Artist: Beau Brummels

Album: Triangle

Year: 1967

Length: 28:50

Genre: Psychedelic Pop

“Painting the faces
Where no faces are
They are bizarre and
Lovely to see
Selling to emperors
Kings and queens
Each of his dreams”

 

WOOHOO, I’m in 1967 finally. Thought I’d never get out of 66, but honestly I feel like I’ll never get out of the 60s in general. I keep checking the list and it feels like the end is never coming closer. Baby steps I guess.

The play-by-play review was so successful for me in my last post I decided to do it again for this one. I think I may have heard the Beau Brummels before (in my psychedelic music class of course, where else?) but I have no idea what the song was and for the life of me can’t remember it at all, so I’m basically going in blind with these guys. I feel like with the 50s and all the jazz, I’m now on a psychedelic music bend. So much psychedelic music one after the other. It’s cool shit but man… it’ll make a man go insane. I don’t know how many trips I can really go on at this point.

Ok, I’m two songs in now and so far I’m not super crazy about these guys but there’s no denying they definitely have musical skill. their songs sound very well crafted and there’s this nice parisian thing going on in the second song that’s really captivating me. The vocalist sounds a lot like Bob Dylan, he seems to be channelling his inner Dylan, especially on the first song. Every time he says How Do You Feel, it gives me flashbacks of Dylan singing How Does It Feel on Like a Rolling Stone.

Third song already… these songs are much shorter than I expected. I feel I barely have time to get into one and the next one is starting. Is that a good thing or bad thing? I don’t know. What I do know is that apparently the band tried to deviate away from the formulaic pop music their record contract was trying to get them to do and took the time to really make something new and different for themselves. Once again, I haven’t heard their previous stuff, but they’re definitely doing a good job at being different. One critic called this the bridge between pop and psychedlic music, the album that merged the gap… I guess? I guess I can see that… but… I don’t know? I’ve been listening to so much psychedelic music these days it’s hard for me to really tell. I guess they can make a good argument for it. Don’t know what that argument is… but I’m sure it’s a good one.

Geez, again, the song just seems to end… come on at least give it a solid ending instead of just fading out halfway though the chorus. At least I’m met with an upbeat tune, The Keeper Of Time. This is a pretty fun tune, I’m enjoying it. I have to say, despite all the psychedelic music I’ve been listening to, this album does manage to set itself apart as it’s own thing, which is a nice achievement.

Song ended suddenly again… I guess I’ll have that to look forward to the entire fucking album. Oh well, I could sit and enjoy a song but it seems right as I do it fades out and the next one starts, so what’s the point? Ok you can still enjoy them. It’s like songs on the go almost. Tunes you can listen to in short amounts of time, which is a good thing for speedy listening. It helps that they are really solid songs too.

The next song seems to incorporate a staple of psych music by including sound effects. In this case it’s the annoying sound of what sounds like a coin being flipped. I mean, that’s great… if you’re a banker… but jesus is it ever loud and echo in your ears. thankfully it doesn’t last long and let’s the song do it’s thing for the rest of the time.The song is also called Nine Pound Hammer… so maybe it’s the clanking of an anvil… I guess it has a purpose…. sure… why not? That beat is pretty infectious though, with an egg shaker shaking away like nobody’s business, really got my booty shaking.

Magic Hollow was apparently a big deal for the band. Was their sort of hit single and has managed to appear on numerous lists such as 100 greatest psychedelic classics. It’s a bit of a downer as a song, with sad strings and melancholic vocals. There’s an air of fantasy to it, almost like walking through an enchanted wood… but once again that fits the name of the title and is probably what they were going for. They really do seem to be exploring this idea of the fantastic and enchanted throughout the album. In a lot of ways it does feel like it could be the soundtrack to some sort of fantasy mini series and if not certain songs can definitely easily appear on one. It’s cool that they set out to create that sort of vibe, which is one I feel hasn’t been explored just yet on any of the albums I’ve listened to, and believe me there has been many, many concepts explored so far. The Fantasy genre always seems to get the short end of the stick as kid’s stuff that shouldn’t be taken seriously. But done well, like here, it can actually create something quite inspirational.

Album is almost done, I guess this is where I give my final thoughts. Not bad as a whole, not my thing but I can see psych music lovers enjoying this one. Has a nice mix of upbeat tunes and more atmospheric ones. It was annoying to have a lot of the tunes just kind of… end suddenly but doesn’t really take away from the pretty solid song writing all around. Not my favourite but a good listen nonetheless.

Song of Choice: The Keeper of  Time

-Bosco

 

 

 

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1001 Albums: Da Capo

#83

Album_83_Original

Artist: Love

Album: Da Capo

Year: 1966

Length: 35:54

Genre: Psychedelic Rock/ Baroque Pop

“When I was invisible
I needed no light
You saw right through me, you said
Was I out of sight?

Whoa-oh-oh-oh, my love she comes in colors
You can tell her from the clothes she wears”

I’m doing something I’ve only done once before, I’m writing this as I listen to the album. I figured it’d be an easy way for me to get back into it and not worry about writing a post almost two weeks after originally listening to an album. To be honest, I don’t know what to expect from a band that calls themselves Love. I’ve had exposure to two of their songs (7 and 7 is and Red Telephone) the former of which is actually on this album and if this album is anything similar to 7 and 7 is then I’m in for a treat for sure.

Stephanie Knows Who just played, basically ended almost as quickly as it started. Real shame, I was enjoying that tune quite a bit. Great opener to start an album, it’s dancey and vibrant and full of energy and has some great harpsichord on it, which is always a plus. I wish it was a little longer though, especially compared to the 19 minute song found at the end of this album. Ugh… that’s gonna be fun to sit through. Not like I haven’t before, I mean I’ve listened to Kraftwerk’s Autobahn… many times, which is a 22 minute song that takes up a whole vinyl side like their finale, so it shouldn’t be so bad… will it?

So, I’m halfway through Orange Skies, big difference from Stephanie Knows Who (which is currently my favourite). Definitely hitting on the psychedelic side a little more. It’s got a summer of love feel to it with an essence of being high and floating, which I guess suits the name. There’s some cool flute on it too which I didn’t expect. Overall Decent tune.

Woo, QUE VIDA! I sound way more excited than I am about this tune. It’s along the same lines as the previous one and according to critics is a little unclassifiable as a tune. I guess? I mean it sounds pretty psychedelic with elements of pop… I don’t know maybe that’s just me. It’s interesting actually… apparently this album was a big flop when it first came out and even retrospective reviews are like… I guess it’s ok? With big criticism coming from the finale 19 minute song being the one that busted the album (but in retrospect was… ok they guess?). I don’t know if this is supposed to make me look forward to that finale, but hopefully it won’t be a torturous 19 minutes (which it could very easily be). Que Vida! is still playing and is really growing on me. One of those songs that at first I was like… ok not bad, but kind of stuck by the end. Always give songs a chance.

Fucking yes! Fucking yes!!!! the Proto-punk stylings of 7 and 7 is. Oh man, that fast drumming and guitar strumming, the screaming vocals and the all-around energy of this tune is just so infectious. Another highlight from my famous psychedelic music course. I remember this song just sticking with me hardcore. Another guy in the class hated it. he can go fuck himself, this song is amazing and the exact pure energy I need to get me running through a mine field.

The Castle is hitting it back with the psychedelic style. I feel like this song is always on the verge of becoming something exciting, but always stops itself before it does. It’s pretty smooth and sensual for the most part, but then there’s these drum kicks and bass grooves that kick in and I keep thinking it’s going to Rave-up, but it never does. What a cock tease. But that harpsichord that just kicked in is pretty fabulous, I seem to be getting a new favourite instrument. It so far hasn’t failed to amuse me on any album it has appeared on. Interesting tune, by the end of it it seemed to have shifted gears a little. Still sticking to it’s style but changing in tune a little. Solid stuff.

As She Comes In Colours plays I’m starting to wonder why this flopped. At first I was wondering why this was included on the list at all if it flopped that badly, but 6 songs in and I’m starting to wonder why it flopped. This is a pretty solid album that flows very nicely. The music is accessible enough for everyone to enjoy but still manages to really be it’s own thing. To my knowledge Love was trying out something completely new with this album. I’ve never heard their debut but it sounds like they did an excellent job. (Also that harpsichord is giving me an orgasm… oh man, you never expect it to come in but when it does it’s pure pleasure to the ears, especially in this song). I loved this tune more than I should have but what you gonna do… what you gonna do when they come for you…

Now here it is, the song I’ve been waiting for the entire album. Revelation, the 19 minute song. Strong start, harpsichord opening (which we all know is a huge bonus for me on this album) and kicking into a groovin’ guitar chord riff. A little different than the rest of the album, probably more reminiscent of their debut (which I haven’t heard so this is just speculation). But an informed assumption since this was a jam they did at their live shows way before this album came out. It actually influenced the Rolling Stones to make Coming Home, their 9 minute rock tune, but because Aftermath came out before Da Capo, they got accused of copying them. But does it matter? Their’s was 9 minutes, this is a solid 19 minutes. Another beats completely and should have no comparison. Especially stylistically they may be similar but are really their own beasts entirely. The goal with this song was to capture the energy of their live performances (sounds familiar… I think I read that with John Mayall’s and the Bluesbreakers…). I’ve got a pretty sweet harmonica solo blaring away, did not expect that especially since the harmonica has basically been absent the whole album (or maybe it was there and I just wasn’t paying attention).

Ugh… I’m only 5 minutes in. This song is lucky that so far it’s listenable and pretty great. It changes enough that it doesn’t feel monotonous and there’s always something new happening, with some groovy guitar solos permeating throughout. Actually… these are some solid guitar solos, like damn… I’m engaged and invested in these solos. Not sure where this song is headed and what adventure I have left. I still have a good 11 minutes left on it… so we shall see.

I’m finding myself tapping my foot to the beat. That’s a good sign. I’m really getting into it. Man, this album is way better than I expected it to be. I guess when you enter something with low expectations all it can really do is impress you. And boy has this albums impressed me. I’ve saved every song to my playlist that I share with Sandra. You see, I started this playlist called Bosco and Sandra’s Never Ending Playlist on Spotify, where we basically add any and every song we want to it to make one huge playlist that encompasses both our tastes in music. It’s a nice couple thing to engage in I feel. Speaking of which, me and Sandra celebrated our 1-year anniversary just last month! This is incredibly exciting for me. I know to you, the reader, it means absolutely nothing, but for those who know me know a year is a big deal. I’ve only had one previous relationship that lasted more than a year (2) while all the others never made it past 5 months (except my last one which was 8). Why? I usually tend to lose interest by the 5 month mark, no idea why, many reasons and factors I guess that play into it. So the fact I’ve hit a year and still am crazy about this bubbly ball of positivity is really a good sign. Who knows.

Anyway, like I was saying, the playlist. So every time I listen to an album from this list I add my favourites to our playlist and it’s rare that I’ll add an entire album. It has happened a few times and a few albums have that distinction of being a full save (The Monk’s Black Monk Time and Moby Grape are two members of that club). This is one of them. Especially now as I hit some… saxophone? solo that is just purely amazing. I was nervous about this song but it is really taking me on a trip here, and not the drug-induced type of trip, a musical trip from instrument to instrument, that never veers away from what it set out to do but still manages to pull many surprises out of it’s pocket. Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy.

As Revelation comes to an end, I’ll finish this write-up.. up, as well. Final thoughts: Solid album that I did not expect to enjoy as much as I did. I was pleasantly surprised with it as a whole and feel it should be on a list of albums more people should check out (and it is! hurr hurr). I think it’s pretty fitting that the song ends with a marching band type drum solo that stopped abruptly to give way for that magical harpsichord sound.

Oh Harpsichord… my love… please don’t leave me aloooone, I’ll miss you…

Song of Choice: 7 and 7 is

-Bosco

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1001 Albums: Moby Grape

#82

Album_82_Original

Artist: Moby Grape

Album: Moby Grape

Year: 1967

Length: 30:47

Genre: Psychedelic Rock

“What is this feeling my heart gets when I see you smile?
And why can’t I say to you “Come with me just for a while”?

I guess I’ll never know why
I’ll just lay here and decay here”

I’ve slowed down quite considerably. I realise I start most of my posts these days with how I keep delaying them and how I ain’t as speedy as I used to, so I’m going to try and avoid repeating that, but just like any marathon, there’s bumps in the road where it seemingly comes to a halt and doesn’t want to move forward. I think this is the longest I have gone without writing a post, more than two weeks, which is crazy for me. If my goal was to complete the list within three years I’m definitely doing a bad job at it. But hey, the goal is to listen to the entire list as long as I eventually do that, that’s all that matters, no matter how long it takes.

It doesn’t help I’ve been a little distracted with life. I seemingly never get a moments rest. I have school during the week then work weekends and if I’m lucky, I’ll have one day off. Sometimes Sandra comes up to visit me, sometimes my parents do. On free nights I hang out with friends… or I sleep. The blog seems to have taken a step into the background and has dropped on the list of priorities and motivations, which on one hand I get why but on the other… I’m not really happy about it. It also doesn’t help that I started doing this new thing with my friends where we’d each suggest three albums we love to each other and would listen to all of them to broaden our music horizons and get to know each other’s tastes better. I’ve been doing that a lot. Still listening to music just not the 1001 albums list. In between those albums I should play one of these so at least I can keep up the rhythm of it and get back into things. That’s always the hardest part when you fall out of routine, getting back into it.

No matter, on with the blog.

I listened to this album about three times. One, because I love it and Two, because of the delays I kept forgetting it. It’s also one of those albums that for whatever reason is only partially on spotify. Like half the songs are there but the other half are grayed out… not sure why. I know that it’s up to the artist or publisher to release the music on spotify and what can and cannot be heard… but why only half an album? Whys hare some but not all? It’s a weird phenomenon that seems to happen regularly on Spotify, but thankfully the whole album was on Youtube. I had to replay it a ton of times so I can listen to it straight through without any ads popping up throughout, which is really fucking annoying, but what you gonna do, beggars can’t be choosers.

So like I said, I really love this album. I had been exposed to Moby Grape years ago in my Psychedelic Music class. Teacher showed us Omaha and I immediately fell in love with it. My friend at the time and I would sing it out loud all the time and would have it play on repeat. Funny story, when the exam came around and it was the listening portion where the teacher plays a song and you have to say the name, artist and two fun facts, this one came on and my friend had no idea what the name of it was. See, he was relying on the fact that most songs sing the name of the song in the song itself, that would jog his memory. Jokes on him because Omaha never appears as a lyric in this song. HAHAHAHAHA.

It’s not that funny, sorry.

It’s kind of sad that more people don’t know about this band. I mean, I would have never heard of them if it wasn’t for that class and I really do thing they’re an incredibly undervalued band that should get wayyyy more recognition than they do. One listen to this album and you know why. They manage to blend so many different styles of music into one album that it’s shocking how well they were able to make it flow despite the stylistic shifts. One second you’re listening to a bluesy rock song, the next a sample from psychedelic music history, and then followed by country influenced riffs, some proto-punk, folk stylings and ballads. An album this uncohesive shouldn’t work on paper but works amazingly in practice and it is mainly due to the talent of the band. Every single member shares in writing credits and it’s a rare moment where every member appears as lead singer at least once and even features a guitar trio the only other band at the time to do this was Buffalo Springfield). And they do it very effectively too. Three guitarists fighting to win a guitar battle and creating a collage of sound that just works so beautifully together.  It’s just a really fucking good album that I honestly feel needs to be noticed way more than it is. There isn’t one bad track on the entire album and even if you’re not crazy about one song, you’ll most definitely love another just because of the variety of styles they offer. This is hailed as a masterpiece and I could argue to agree with that statement. It’s rare that I listen to an entire album on the first sitting and am completely enamoured by it, I thoroughly enjoyed every single song off of it.

I also love some of the history behind this band. The album cover itself generated a lot of controversy mostly due to Don Stevenson flipping the bird on the cover (which would be airbrushed out in future pressings) and the use of the American flag in the background, which for some reason was a big deal and was airbrushed a solid colour (either red or black depending what issue you have) so it looked like a regular flag. They also had issues with their band name. It seems after some weird legal contract they signed, their manager was the full owner of the band causing the band to release future music under names like Grape Moby, Maby Grope, The Melvilles, etc, in order to legally perform publicly without conflict from Katz (their manager). I think this is a big factor as to why Moby Grape sort of fell away from the mainstream eye, their follow-ups would never be as good as this one and thanks to all their legal disputes and lawsuits with Matthew Katz, they seemed to just be in a constant decline of unnecessary headaches and woes. They would probably have been way more successful and even considered in the same light as The Beatles and Rolling Stones if it weren’t for all those troubles.

Fascinating, yet sad story.

I’m glad to see within the music enthusiast’s community Moby Grape is held in quite high regard and deservedly so. If only we could bring their greatness to the masses then that would just be great.

Song of Choice: Omaha

-Bosco

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1001 Albums: Safe As Milk

#81

Album_81_Original

Artist: Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band

Album: Safe As Milk

Year: 1967

Length: 33:40

Genre: Blues Rock / Acid Rock / Garage Rock

“Singin through you to me
Thunderbolts caught easily
Shouts the truth peacefully
Electricity”

I know what everyone is thinking and believe me I know you want to know. I told myself I wouldn’t but I know at this moment you’re all aching to find out and you won’t be satisfied until I acknowledge it. That’s fine, but I can’t always do this for you guys but I will make an exception this one time. I know you’re all dying to know… how did I do in karaoke on Friday? I realise I mentioned it in my last post and it left you guys aching for me to talk about it and I kind of felt it was either irrelevant or just didn’t really fit with this particular blog post. But looking back on all my posts I consistently talked about life and things that had absolutely nothing to do with the album so I figured what the hell, why not.

I absolutely slayed in karaoke. I killed it. I was nervous because the last time I went I butchered it but this time around I just tore it apart. I started the night with “Ballroom Blitz”, nothing great, just a ton of fun. Second song, I killed. sang ABC’s “Poison Arrow” and just owned it as my own. It was sad that nobody really knew the song, but I did well enough that it did not matter. Unfortunately with my next tune I didn’t do as well. Sang Elvis Costello’s “Radio Radio”. Fantastic tune but unfortunately I followed to assholes who chose to sing “Bohemian Rhapsody” which honestly there’s an unwritten rule that unless the whole bar is doing it together you do not pick that fucking song. Following that with a song that barely anyone knew wasn’t great and I did ok… but I got to sing it which was all I wanted. About an hour later me, Luis and Aziz broke out into “TubThumping” where I samg all the female vocals and immediately got to sing my final song, Abba’s “Does Your Mother Know”, another I’ve been wanting to belt out for a long time and never did.

There, happy? That was my night.

what?

What more do you want?

Oh…

Oh right…. Safe As Milk. I forgot… I actually listened to an album by Captain Beefheart.

beefheart.jpg

An early photo of him when he was just a cabin boy.

Ok, I promise I’ll stop making these band name puns… maybe…

Despite what it sounds like I actually really love this album. My biggest problem (which is unrelated to the album itself) is that I’ve just been so tired these past few days that I barely remember much details of this album. I can definitely talk about the general feelings I had for it, but specifics are going to be really difficult at this moment. I’m adding this album to the revisit list and will eventually give it a relisten and a second blog post because my current feelings and mood just will not give it the justice it deserves.

So what can I say about it? It’s definitely it’s own thing. There’s no denying Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band managed to create something that is uniquely their own. Heavily influenced by Blues Rock, they managed to take on the genre and tackle it in a completely unconventional and unique way to the point that their original label dropped them for being too unconventional (Due to the song “Electricity” in particular). He also seems to take a page from the book of Zappa (which makes sense since he was a part of Zappa’s band) incorporating weird time signatures, strange noises, sound clips (such as a radio host introducing one of the songs), unusual and surreal lyrics and funny singing voices. If you love Zappa, Beefheart should definitely be one to check out.

I actually heard some people express they find Beefheart harder to get into than Zappa, Beefheart surprisingly somehow being more alienating. I don’t know if I agree with that. Maybe Beefheart’s later work gets a little more difficult to the ears, but this one feels way more accessible than Zappa’s work, incorporating enough weirdness to stick out but still remaining traditional enough to keep the average listener hooked. Maybe it’s just because I like the unconventional but this was definitely one of the top listening experiences I had on this list so far, so we’ll see once Trout Mask Replica hits us if I still feel the same way.

So there you have it, don’t really have much to say at the moment which is a real shame because I really loved this album but my mind has been so bogged down and cloudy this past week for so many reasons that it was really difficult to form any sort of coherent analysis or critique, especially for an album of this caliber.

So until I revisit it, check it out for yourself and enjoy the kookiness that is Captain Beefheart.

Song of Choice: Dropout Boogie

-Bosco

 

 

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1001 Albums: Buffalo Springfield Again

#80

Album_80_Original

Artist: Buffalo Springfield

Album: Buffalo Springfield Again

Year: 1967

Length: 34:07

Genre: Folk Rock/Bues Rock

“Look what’s happen’ to me,
I’m going blind, please help.
There I sat until three,
Gettin’ further behind myself, by myself.
And I’m hung upside down,
And I’m hung upside down,
And I’m hung upside down,
Come on, come on,
Hung upside Down.”

I’m going to try to speed through this one. I’m quickly eating supper as I write and am off to meet some friends for karaoke a little later but I wanted to make sure I got a post in before I did. My go to song for karaoke is usually “Turning Japanese” by the Vapors and “This Town Ain’t Big Enough For The Both Of Us” by Sparks, but I might try new ones tonight, like “Ballroom Blitz” or even “Crazy Train”, who knows. Last time I did karaoke I totally slayed “Bad Touch” but completely massacred “Kiss From A Rose”. With me, you never quite know what you’re going to get.

So without delay, Buffalo Springfield…

LEGENDARY_BUFFALO.png

No, no, no… I don’t have time for puns based on the band’s name. I need to speed through this otherwise I’ll be late for karaoke and miss Luis hitting on the girl behind the bar.

This album seems to be mirroring the last one in a really weird way. I’ve currently experienced two albums in a row that have left out the band’s most popular and definitive song. This was actually brought to my attention by Sandra and Graham, who both knew the song and sounded rather disappointed that it didn’t appear on this album. And although for Country Joe and The Fish, the famous song would eventually appear on their next album, the Buffalo Springfield one had a very different path. Lots would correct me in saying, “But Hey! It appears on their first album, derpaderpadurrr…”. Which isn’t false, but it actually doesn’t appear on the original pressing and instead suddenly appeared as the opener of their debut album in a 1967 pressing, which if you’re observant is the same year that this album came out. Why didn’t they just put it on this one? Who knows. But for you’re listening pleasure, here’s the famous Vietnam protest song (yes coincidentally it’s also a Vietnam protest song like The Country Joe and The Fish one), “For What It’s Worth”:

 

There. Happy? now we can move on.

Here’s another album where I recognized a song from my Roots of Rock N Roll class, “Bluebird”, that unfortunately also didn’t get much airplay on my ipod. Why? I don’t know, other songs just took up more time and I never really gave this one a chance. I did now. It’s pretty good. Pretty Damn good.

That’s basically this album in a nutshell, damn good blues infused folk rock. I mean, you can’t fail when you have Crosby, Stills and Young writing music. Yeah, that’s right, the main dudes of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young were here writing music before forming their super dupe power band (and before Neil Young would explode in his solo career). However, despite this, the album does feel a tad inconsistent and lacks in flow as a whole, coming off as a greatest hits compilation rather than it’s own album. If anything this is a testament to how great the music on it really is. Sure, it may not all work together as a whole, but individually they are all great tracks (except for “Sad Memory” in my opinion, which comes across as a sappy love tune that I’d skip 99% of the time). And that’s where the inconsistency comes in. Songs like “Sad Memory” and “Expecting To Fly” sound like they should be on completely different albums. Especially knowing that Neil Young rented out a studio to record “Expecting To Fly” on his own time with studio musicians who all believed it was part of his solo album. No other member of Buffalo Springfield actually appears on this song. And when you have every band member kind f just sharing in the songwriting, doing their own tunes and putting it all together, it really just adds to that compilation feel.

That being said, there’s no denying the music itself is great. “Expecting To Fly” may stick out, but in a good way, playing off as a beautiful piece of music with strings and atmosphere, a nice little break in the middle of the album. The opener “Mr. Soul” is a great upbeat blues rock song, with layered guitar performances that has you tapping your toes and “Hung Upside Down” has you hanging on, wanting to continue for more. The closer “Broken Arrow” seems to be an arrangement of live and studio performances melded together, with small breaks and pauses in the song itself. Odd choice, but works quite well.

That’s all I have to say for now. Going to finish my supper and run off to Karaoke. Block your ears, you’ll be in for an unpleasant night.

Song of Choice: Hung Upside Down

-Bosco

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1001 Albums: Electric Music For The Mind And Body

#79

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Artist: Country Joe and the Fish

Album: Electric Music for the Mind and Body

Year: 1967

Length: 43: 30

Genre: Acid Rock/Blues Rock

“She hides in an attic concealed on a shelf
Behind volumes of literature based on herself
And runs across the pages like some tiny elf
Knowing that it’s hard to find
Stuff way back in her mind
Winds up spending all of her time
Trying to memorize every line
Sweet Lorraine, ah sweet Lorraine.”

Man was this a throwback to a few years ago. three to be exact (could be two, I don’t know anymore). Around my final year of university I had taken a course on the history of Psychedelic Music. Knew nothing about it but took it because I enjoyed the teacher’s Rock n’ Roll history class and was excited to learn about a music genre I barely knew anything about and wanted to expand my music knowledge. It was a pretty good class, looking at all sorts of genres that would act as precursors to psychedelic rock, looking at bands such as Syndicate of Sound, The 13th Floor Elevators, Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. One of the bands we had briefly looked at would be one that stayed with me since then, one of their songs getting some good playtime on my ipod. It was none other than Country Joe and The Fish.

man with fish.jpg

No, not that country joe and the fish, although I’m sure he’s doing just fine.

I’m talking about the band. That quirky sounding band that incoporated odd guitar sounds and rhythms, strange vocals and wacky riffs.  Well, that’s what I believed at least from the song that I kept listening to. I was curious to hear what a full length album by them would sound like based on knowing that one song and wouldn’t you believe it, it was nowhere to be found on this album.

For those wondering what it was, it was their live show staple and fan favourite “I-Feel-Like-I’m-Fixin’-To-Die-Rag”. A protest song that tackled their feelings towards the vietnam war that had you hooting and hollering along as you danced to kazoo like sounds. It was such an important protest song at the time that I’m completely surprised that they didn’t include it on their debut album.

For you’re listening pleasure, here it is:

It’s honestly such a fun ditty that it’s a shame that it’s nowhere to be seen in this album’s 43 minute run time.

But… on second thought, it’s not crazy that they decided to exclude it. Listening to the album, it would have stuck out like a sore thumb. There doesn’t seem to be an appropriate place in the album to put it without it killing the pace and vibe that the album was working so hard to create. I honestly should have expected it from the other song that didn’t get as much airplay on my ipod that we heard in class “Not So Sweet Martha Lorraine”, a staple of psychedelic rock history due to it’s strange and absurd lyrical content of introspection and possible drug induced imagery and it’s swirling keyboards. Wasn’t crazy about it then as I cranked up their protest song, but hearing it here I definitely acquired much more admiration for it.

I really enjoyed this album. Found myself going on quite a trip from start to beginning and never felt a moment where I was taken out of it, each song contributing to that solemn yet peppy vibe that The Fish were permeating throughout. The first half of the album keeps you on your toes with some upbeat blues infused psychedelic rock which slowly deteriorates into harsher and trippier psychedelia throughout the second half. Even though it’s technically acid rock, it feels more like a toned down version of what we would eventually get to know as Psychedelic music but the elements are still there and I can definitely see how this would have helped in developing the genre. From their song “Death Sound” that has some fantastic reverb effects on the guitar to “Section 43” one of the greatest instrumental tracks I ever heard, that takes you on a trip and actually seems to tell a story… in sections, similar to what prog rock would eventually do with their music. Multiple instrumental tracks put together to tell one coherent story. By the time you hit “Sad and Lonely Times” you know you’re in for a bit of a trip as each song starts to get dipped into the acid pool of textures and feelings. “Bass Strings”, “Masked Marauder” and “Grace” (a tribute to Jefferson Airplane’s Grace Slick) feel out of this world and although it’s never at the heights of psychedelic music to come it definitely set the groundwork for it’s successors to reach higher heights that the Fish didn’t hit.

May have been overshadowed by future acts ad albums within the genre but definitely worth a checkout if you can, especially for those keys. Man I love that keyboard work.

Song of Choice: Section 43

-Bosco

p.s. “I-Feel-Like-I’m-Fixin’-To-Die-Rag” would appear on their second album of the same name. So it wasn’t completely excluded from their discography.

 

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1001 Albums: Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

#78

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Artist: The Beatles

Album: Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

Year: 1967

Length: 39:52

Genre: Pop Rock / Psychedelia

“We’re Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
We hope you will enjoy the show
We’re Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
Sit back and let the evening go”

 

I think I delayed writing this post for far too long. I initially listened to this album about two weeks ago and from then on have been trying to gather my thoughts about it and really put into words how I felt, which honestly has so far been the toughest out of every album I’ve listened to. It required me listening to the album a second time and discussing it with a good friend of mine who is a bit of a music connoisseur just to see if my thoughts could really fall into something decent and coherent.

Well… no more delaying, time to sit down and just crank this out for what it is, with the goal to not repeat myself from previous Beatles posts. Can’t promise anything.

So… this album… is a doozy of an album. It’s a big album and I don’t mean the music itself, I mean culturally. This album had such a huge impact on the culture at the time, being cited as painting a picture of the current trends and moods, considered one of the most influential and important albums of all time, seen as a sign of a clear maturation of the Beatles artistically, being one of the first albums to influence both art rock and progressive rock and single-handedly starting the album era and hanging rock music as we know it (for better or for worse depending what your feelings to the roots of rock n roll are). This was a lot to take in and probably heavily influenced my first reaction to the whole album, which was rather sour and negative. I mean it’s hard to really feel the full power of an album when all you’ve had were people yelling in your ear about how amazing it is, all you have left to really go is down. Too much hype always sets you up for disappointment. But I’ve been trying to keep an open mind. So I set my initial reaction to the side and decided to listen to it a second time without any of that pre-existing hype, which helped.

Here’s a interesting thing about this album. There’s no denying that it definitely had a significant cultural impact when it first came out. People loved it and were taking it in, soaking up Beatlemania like never before. This was it, The Beatles were peaking and getting better and better for the population. This was the greatest thing around… or was it? It’s really easy to get lost in all the positive reviews of the album that you might not realise that critics at the time were really torn about it. Either they loved it or hated it and there seemed to be no in between. Richard Goldstein at the time wrote a scathing review of this album in the New York Times calling it “Ultimately Fraudulent” and was met with an onslaught of letters and hate mail, aggressive, abusive and even down-right scary, responding in disagreement to his review (Considered one of the biggest responses to a musical review ever). Even the retrospectives don’t seem sure about this album’s legacy, claiming that people’s reasoning stands more on the side of it’s cultural impact rather than it’s actual music. (I realise I’m only sharing the negative reviews, but come on, you all already know all the positive criticism said about it that I feel I don’t need to say it). So what’s the truth? Is this really the most influential and greatest rock record of music history or is it incredibly overrated?

To be honest, who knows. There’s no truth to the matter, that’s the beauty of art critiques, it really boils down to subjective feelings explained in smart and nuanced ways as to why their opinion is what it is. So whether you believe one side or the other, that’s a perfectly valid opinion of this record because… it really is a tough one to crack, leaving people very divided but with no real answer.

Ok, that was a bit of a cop out on my part. Enough of all that… what do I think of the album? Which side of the fence do I sit?

I think it’s going to come as no surprise that I do feel this album is incredibly overrated. I’m just going to say that right away so I’m not beating around the bush. That being said, do I think it’s horrible? Absolutely not. If anything this might have been the Beatles Album I enjoyed the most. And here in lies the problem. The big issue I had when gathering my thoughts. How could I feel so negatively towards an album I really enjoyed? Why is it I found myself loving the music and enjoying every moment yet still left it feeling dissatisfied? It didn’t make any sense to me and I had to figure this out.

So, the positive. There’s no denying that The Beatles were artistically at their most mature and grounded in this album. They managed to finally create an album that was incredibly cohesive and flowed beautifully from one song to another. The concept of the album definitely helped with that. Creating the fictitious Sgt Pepper band and treating this album as if it were a live performance by said fictitious band allowed for the Beatles to create a steady flow and even experiment musically and evolve even more from their last album. The sitar is back and better before, they take on influences from vaudeville and circus themes (most apparent in “Being For the Benefit of Mr. Kite” which breaks out into a delicious circus tune that I think I enjoyed a little too much) and work with special effects (for example backwards tapes in “Day in the Life”). They continued to grow their psychedelic sound and managed to create a solid album that had a uniform sound but still managed to make each song it’s own unique entity. You can distinguish between each one very easily.

There’s no denying that The Beatles are incredibly talented. There’s no denying that they really showed off that talent on this album. There’s no denying that the music on this album is very well-crafted and played.

So what’s the problem?

It took me awhile to figure this out. That feeling that something… just… wasn’t right. Talking to my friend I grew to realise what didn’t sit well with me despite my enjoyment. The album felt fake to me. It felt shallow and hollow. At the surface we experience the artistic integrity of The Beatles but with nothing under the depths. It’s pure show and razzle-dazzle, The Beatles showing off how well they can play music and take you in without really putting any soul into it (With the exception of “A Day in the Life”). When Frank Zappa critiqued this album as saying The Beatles were only in it for the money… he wasn’t really that wrong. You have to remember to, concept albums like Freak Out! were very alienating to the population. It was music made for the musician himself, music he believed in and felt and wanted to create with a message to be told. Sgt. Pepper is a concept album made for the masses, easily accessible and digestible, an album that literally anyone can put on and enjoy… but that’s all it is, just a show that they’re performing for your pure entertainment. Music that is heavy in artistic integrity minus any of the transcendence, almost like they created an illusion to trick you into thinking there was more. Is this necessarily a bad thing? No, not at all. Music is entertainment and a lot of great bands create music with that in mind. They don’t want you to think, they just want you to have a great time. and that’s what this album is. A fun time for the whole family.

Obviously a lot of people are going to disagree with me and that’s good, that means you have your own opinion and won’t be influenced by mine. However, I do feel I’ve been a little hard on The Beatles and it does sort of boil down to I just don’t get it. So, I decided to do something a little different this time around. I got someone who does get and love The Beatles to write out their opinion of their favourite album to hear the voice of the other side of the metaphorical Beatles fence.

Here is my good friend, Luis:

“I never thought The Beatles could be a polarizing subject. No, not for a beatlemaniac. I just assumed that not everyone love them as much as I and other millions of die-hard fans. But for a long time I was under the impression that everyone at least liked them. And it’s good to encounter those rare people that not necessarily dislike them (which would be fine too), but just don’t see them as the most exciting music phenomenon ever, like I do.

Why is it good? Because it’s different. Because if it is especial for everyone, then there’s nothing truly especial about it. And the other reason is that for the longest I can remember, I hadn’t had to explain to another person why do I feel that way about The Beatles. Until I made a new friend: Jonathan P. Bosco (who claims that just doesn’t see them as greatest, but it’s not a dislike).

And that what’s great about diverging opinions. ‘Cause that conversation got me here, guest writing for his very well written music journey experience. And here I am for a big one, the legendary ‘Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’.

Deemed by many (like yours truly) to be the best album by the best band in the history of music. Like my good friend Bosco, I don’t see any of what I’m writing here as the final word, for I’m just a music lover. Not a connoisseur of music history, theory, metric and etc. And even if I was, I find it music to be such a subjective matter, that in the end, no one has the final saying of what it’s best. We just know what’s best for ourselves.

But saying that, I for long believed (and still kinda do) that The Beatles are, if not the most important, at least the most accomplished band that have ever been. This album is no different. If you go after lists of best albums ever, best rock albums, most sold albums, most well reviewed albums, 1001 albums to hear before you die (nudge nudge wink wink), you’ll definitely find Sgt Pepper’s among them. And often in the first positions, if the list happens to be ranked.

And as a die-hard Beatles fan, I just agreed, and saw no error whatsoever on placing this masterpiece “virtually”everywhere as the no.1 album, by the no.1 band. I believed that wholeheartedly. Until Bosco got me thinking, with a simple “Why?”.

When you love something so much, you never bother to ask why. You just do. And The Beatles have always been in that untouched pedestal for me. Until my man Jonathan got me thinking. And I’m not saying I’ve changed my opinion, I don’t think I have. But try and analyze just why I think ‘Sgt Pepper’s’ is the best of the best actually made me even more in touch with the album and with what it means to me.

I apologize in advance, for you won’t find in this text factual reasons of why The Beatles are the greatest and ‘Sgt. Pepper’s’ is their piece de resistance. No theory, no long lectures on sound designing, instruments usage, notes, chords, singing, tempo. Nothing technical that guarantees The Beatles are truly above all.

Because as I said firstly, I face music as subjective. It evokes emotions, memories, sensations. It’s a personal journey, so it has a personal impact on each of us. For example: The Beatles remind me of a simple time; car trips with my family; singing drunk with my dad; rehearsing with my band. They’ve always been with me for those moments and others. Their music calm me, and almost bring me back to that happy place. Or a sad memory, we all got those bittersweet ones, but The Beatles been there for me too.

They speak to me, like my dad does. I share this whenever I can. That I inherited my taste for music from my dad. The Beatles are his favorite band, and Sgt. Pepper’s is his favorite album. So, what a surprise! You must be thinking I can’t think for myself. But, see, when it comes to music it’s not about thinking at all, it’s about feeling.

And I feel everything in all of Sgt. Pepper’s songs, because it’s part of my history, like I said. It’s one of the only LP’s I own, which I got from my father. And I used to listen it with him all the time. So much, even my mom got sick of The Beatles for a while. We sang all the songs together, in particular ‘She’s Leaving Home’, from this album. One of the most beautiful songs I’ve ever heard, and also my dad’s favorite.

I love everything in it. The Sgt Pepper’s themes, full of energy, like a concert opener. The ode to friends sang beautifully by Ringo in ‘With A Little Help from my Friends’ (Shout out to my friend Bosco here). The well acclaimed ‘LSD’. The perfect circus song that is ‘Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite’. George’s spiritual take on ‘Within You Without You’, with the brilliant incorporation of the sitar.

That’s just to say a few about my favorites. But I even love the seemingly generic tune which is ‘Getting Better’. The not-so clever ones: ‘Lovely Rita’ and ‘When I’m Sixty-Four’. And the ever forgotten, but not by me, ‘Fixing A Hole’. All of them hold a very special place in my heart.

I haven’t heard the album cover to cover in a long time. Why? I don’t know. But the feelings are still the same now that I’m hearing it again. So thanks Bosco, for the invite, and to reaffirm my faith and love in the lads of Liverpool. Did that explain to anyone of you that the Beatles are indeed the greatest and so is Sgt. Pepper’s? I doubt it (I warned it wouldn’t). But it makes perfect sense to me.

P.S.: My dad just conveniently called me by the end of ‘A Day in The Life’ (of course it’s a masterpiece, and no I didn’t forget to put it there among the others, I was just saving it for this post-scriptum), just to talk about his day, how much he misses me and loves me. So yeah, I haven’t changed my mind. Except for one small word. I don’t think The Beatles are the best band ever. I feel The Beatles are the best band ever and that Sgt. Pepper’s rule.”

 

Song of Choice: Fixing A Hole

-Bosco

P.s. Lennon says “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” is NOT about LSD. I am willing to believe it isn’t but I’m sure LSD had a huge part to play in creating the song.

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1001 Albums: Chelsea Girl

#77

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Artist: Nico

Album: Chelsea Girl

Year: 1967

Length: 45:04

Genre: Folk-Pop/Chamber-Folk

“Here they come now
See them run now
Here they come now
Chelsea Girls”

It’s rare that I stumble upon an album on this list that I didn’t like. Even The Beatles ones I found myself enjoying to a certain extent and as far as I can remember an album I don’t like is more an exception to the rule than something I’ll come to expect. Unfortunately this album is one of those exceptions. It’s not that I thought it was bad, it just didn’t do anything for me. Although I think it was pretty funny that it followed the other two relaxing albums and added to my attempts to relax (musically it remains calm but unlike the other two is a little more chilling and has that gloomy subtext that made it a little difficult to truly relax, but whatever).

Nico was known for her work with the Velvet Underground, a band I never really listened to and the little I tried to I just wasn’t into that much (this was awhile ago so maybe my feelings will have changed now to being more open-minded but if it’s anything like this one chances are slim). And there’s a good chance it’ll be like that because her Velvet Underground band mates join her as her backing band throughout the album. There’s no denying they are all very talented musicians who capture that mellow gloom (guess the word of the day) that underlies the entire album. And there’s no denying that Nico herself is one hell of a singer, although I’m not crazy about her particular voice especially when she sings deeper notes, she has a one-up on most singers today in that she actually sings with emotion. Though she does come across as that emo girl from your high school what she does well is she never crosses the line into full-on melo-drama and feels relatively genuine.

Ok, now what didn’t I like? Well, the production of this album is pretty awful. Apparently, Nico herself was extremely disappointed with it to the point it actually drove her to tears. She was so upset with the final product that she grew to hate her album. The producers were really tough on her and she wasn’t able to get the album she originally wanted. She asked for drums, they said no, she asked for this, they said no, they asked for that, they said no. Then behind her back they added fucking flutes and strings tot he whole mix, which is what made her cry. The fucking flutes. They sound awful, they add absolutely nothing to the music and they’re simply just terrible those fucking flutes. If it had stayed with the simple guitar arrangements I probably would have liked it way more than I did and the music itself would definitely have been more powerful, but nope instead we have to endure those cheesy string arrangements and stupid ass flutes.

Also, “It Was A Pleasure Then” was an incredibly difficult song to sit through as the instrumentation goes into a wild distortion that hurts the ears rather than gives you a musical experience. This song sticks out too much as musical experimentation within an album of chamber folk and could have probably done without.  That being said there are some good songs that blanket this one, the self-titled “Chelsea Girls”, which was named after an Andy Warhol film Nico acted in, and “I’ll Keep It With Mine”, originally a Bobby Dylan song he recorded but never released.

Apparently Nico’s work gets even darker as her career progressed (according to my friend Graham, because I would have no clue about this) and based on what I was told, it’s not surprising. Nico was apparently raised by Nazis, her dad having fought for the Germans in world war 2, and she was raised with fascist ideology that definitely stuck in her subconscious even if she disagreed with it. She was also a complete nutcase it seems. My friend told me a story about this one time she was at a restaurant with a few other people. Seeing how she wasn’t getting any attention, it seemed the best solution was to exclaim she didn’t like black people, smash a bottle and stab the black woman at their table in the eye with it. Andy Warhol had to drag her away, that’s right, the weirdo Andy Warhol had to drag her away for being too much. I don’t know if any of it is true, but if it is we’re dealing with one crazy psycho here.

There’s not much else I can really say about this album. I can definitely see people loving it and why they would love it but it didn’t do anything for me. But hey, we can’t like everything, right?…. RIGHT?!…. oh…

Song of Choice: Eulogy to Lenny Bruce

-Bosco

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1001 Albums: Beach Samba

#76

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Artist: Astrud Gilberto

Album: Beach Samba

Year: 1967

Length: 27:38

Genre: Bossa Nova

“You didn’t have to be so nice
I would have liked you anyway
If you had just looked once or twice
And gone upon your quiet way”

Taking the day to recuperate has been doing wonders for me. Didn’t realise how much I needed it until I actually took it. But I realise I do need to make other efforts in my life to make sure I stay healthy. Consuming lots of water is definitely one of them and I plan to remove coffee and soda out of my life (except for special occasions or suppers). Taking a good walk every day would be great as well. But what I really need to do is try my best to focus on what I want to do, be a little productive everyday and learn to be able to just relax and calm my mind. Sandra keeps suggesting I do yoga and meditation. Not sure if it’ll really work for me but I guess if she drags me one day it won’t hurt to try.

With my day to recuperate it seems I was able to get through another album on the list. Part of me wanted to play catch-up but at the same time music has always been therapeutic for me so it was a no-brainer. I was very fortunate that the next string of albums I happened to listen to were relaxing as all hell. Already with Wild is the Wind I felt lucky that it happened to be 50s style vocal jazz, but this one was another throwback to two albums I had listened to in the early 60s. I didn’t think I’d hear any Bossanova again, thinking it did it’s due enough with the two Stan Getz albums, but here it was leaking from my speakers and into my ears. If you recognized the voice of the singer (why would you? I listened to the album not you) then you’d remember her from the Stan Getz album singing on the incredibly famous song “Girl From Ipanema”, That’s right it’s the same one. Here she goes solo and takes her signature singing style and created an entire album of pure, sensual beach samba. Once again dealing with an album with a very straight-forward title… but hey whatever works.

There’s really no other way to describe this album other than sensual, smooth and cute. That’s really what it was. Astrud doesn’t have much of a range when it comes to singing to she uses her strengths to her best advantage. She sings with such sensuality that it’s hard not to fall in love with the voice you’re hearing. She sings every lyric with a calm and soothing tone, almost like a lullaby made specifically for adults. There’s no denying what she does she does very well and this essence of sensuality (yeah I’m using this word a lot) hits your ears as if she’s trying to seduce you in the most innocent way possible. There’s no doubt any man could become putty in her hands just from her speaking softly into his ear. It brings chills down your spine al the way to your privates and sends you into a state of peace and calm. If there was a perfect follow-up to Wild is the Wind for my day of relaxation, this was definitely it. The music really makes you feel like you’re chilling on the edge of a beach, sun in your face, napping away as the waves hit the shore. Pure Bliss.

To add to the cuteness, but let’s remove the sensuality for this one, Astrud’s son, Marcello, joins her on “You Didn’t Have To Be So Nice”. It’s an incredibly cute duet and her son seems to capture the soft spoken, claiming voice of his mother, not only supporting her but managing to impress on his own terms. The two come together harmoniously and beautifully creating one of the stronger songs off the album.

So this is where some might be a little turned off by it. The album doesn’t really provide with the listener with anything spectacular. It’s a lot of pop oriented music and doesn’t do anything different or inventive. If anything, it’s kind of an underwhelming album especially when comparing it to everything else that came out around that time. It doesn’t even seem to reinvent or introduce new ideas to the Bossanova genre, being almost exactly the same as the two Stan Getz albums. But that’t the thing. You don’t go into this album expecting a transcending masterpiece that will blow your mind, you go into it to get lost in the peaceful calm that is Beach Samba and the soothing and sensual voice of Astrud Gilberto. Nothing more and nothing less.

Song of Choice: Oba, Oba

-Bosco

 

 

 

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1001 Albums: Wild is the Wind

#75

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Artist: Nina Simone

Album: Wild is the Wind

Year: 1966

Length: 39:08

Genre: Jazz/RnB

“You’re life itself
Like a leaf clings to a tree
Oh my darling, cling to me
For we’re creatures of the wind
And wild is the wind”

Just last week I remember thinking to myself that I kind of missed the vibe of the 50s. Don’t get me wrong, I’m loving all the rock music especially as it starts to get heavier and more aggressive (I’m a big fan of punk and New Wave), but I did find myself missing a little variety in the music. I didn’t think I’d find myself actually missing jazz my old friend after listening to album after album after album of jazz and jazz related music, but I kind of did. I found something soothing about moving my way through the 50s, from Sinatra’s crooning to swing and piano, Billie Holiday’s raspy singing, Ella Fitzgerald’s beautiful tunes, Sarah Vaughn’s playful jazz stylings and trumpet master Miles Davis’ melodic and soothing jazz. There really was a particular feel to the whole decade that quickly dissipated once the mid 60s hit. It’s not that I wanted to suddenly go through a series of albums that would do that, but just getting one would have been really nice.

Thankfully, just as I thought that I found myself listening to Nina Simone. The answer to my wishes. If this isn’t a throwback to the jazz vocal and songwriting styles of the 50s than I don’t know what is. It came at the perfect time too. The past week has been really rough on me mentally. With final assignments, exams and no break between both semesters at school, on top of a crazy work day sunday and barely any sleep, I have felt mentally exhausted all week and needed to take a break to rest my mind today. As I lay on my couch relaxing I had the album playing in the background and boy was it the right type of music to just lose yourself in. The simplistic arrangements, specifically asked by Nina to only be piano and bass drone, really gives for a soothing experience as every piano chord is gently played. For the most part it would have been nice to see a little variety in the album itself as most songs sounded almost exactly the same, but that being said, it did what it had to do for what I wanted and needed at that specific moment, so credit is due for the album there.

Music aside, Nina Simone really seems to shine on this album. I don’t know her or ever been exposed to her, but here she seems to be heavily inspired by the spirits of Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald, finding a perfect blend of both those women. She manages to sing with the soul and emotion of Billie Holiday and the elegance of Ella Fitzgerald, while still managing to hold her own. I bet those women would e proud to hear what Nina had to offer, both acting as an extension of their styles and a throwback to the women Nina clearly idolised. She manages to recreate a sense of romance in her music that never crosses the line into cheesiness. It’s pure personal emotion being evoked through song that feels like it’s really coming from deep inside her and never feels artificial or shallow. It seems this album was put together from recordings that didn’t make it onto her last album, which is good because they seemed to save the best for here.

A few of her songs would go on to be covered by the likes of David Bowie and Jeff Buckley and one of the songs would even be banned due to some of it’s lyrical content (“Four Women”), which would only help garner attention to the album than anything. if you’re looking to set the mood for a romantic evening with your loved one, this would definitely be an album to put on.

Song of Choice: Four Women

-Bosco

 

 

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1001 Albums: Roger The Engineer

#74

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Artist: The Yardbirds

Album: Roger the Engineer

Year: 1966

Length: 35:52

Genre: Blues Rock

“Sit spellbound by a flickering screen,
Watch the ever changing scenes,
Listen to the rising screams,
Of children of today.
Lock your doors and stay within,
Upon your face the stupid grins,
Penalty for unrealized sins,
Committed on your way.”

Oh boy am I excited. I’ve been waiting anxiously to get to this album. As it quickly approached I grew more and more excited. Every passing album a reminder that I was another album closer to listening to this one. Now, I’ll be honest, I had only listened to Roger the Engineer once before, so my memory of it wasn’t the greatest but I did remember loving it very much so the thought of experiencing it anew a second time was a thrilling one.

Around this time last year was when I had decided I wanted to start listening to as much music as possible. It was around this time that I had made the decision that I would take the challenge of listening to every album on the 1001 albums list. But before I got organized about it and chose to write about each album, I had started in the 80s, listening to only those albums. Before that, I had started listening to band’s complete discographies. That’s where the story truly began. I felt at this point, with my love for music, there were bands I should listen to. This started with the “important” bands that every has heard, so at least I can say I’ve listened to them. This included The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd, bands I felt I needed to listen to just because I felt like I had to. I mean these were bands everyone was talking about all the time, at least now I wasn’t in the dark about them.

So, as I was making my way through various bands, I took a look at the big ones that were part of the British Invasion. This led me to discover what I feel is my favourite of them, The Yardbirds. I honestly feel like the Yardbirds is grossly under-rated. Most people I know haven’t heard of them and are shocked to discover how big of a band they really were. I mean, it makes sense. The Yardbirds were eclipsed by the giants that were The Beatles, Rolling Stones and The Who and although they garnered critical praise, their legacy would only be remembered by music fans. Remember when I made the analogy of the British Invasion being like a family? If the Beatles were the cute younger brothers, the Rolling Stones the sexy, mature older brothers and The Who were the rebellious teenagers then The Yardbirds were like the forgotten fourth child, shadowed by the success of his older brothers. Which is really a shame because I personally think they’re the best of the four.

The Yardbirds were a powerhouse of a band that managed to yield not one, not two but three of guitar playing history’s greatest legends. They are: Eric Clapton, who was part of the original line-up and left to be part of the Bluesbreakers and eventually Cream, Jeff Beck, who is featured on this album and Jimmy Page, who would go on to form Led Zeppelin. That’s right, Led Zeppelin, everyone’s favourite band to put on their top ten list would never have existed if it weren’t for the Yardbirds (especially since Jimmy Page would heavily borrow from The Yardbirds music to create Led Zeppelin songs, but that’s a story for another time). I’m actually surprised at how many people I’ve talked to who loooooove Led Zeppelin yet have never even heard about the Yardbirds (personal experience, I’m sure there are tons who do).

Ok, so I’m rambling about the band itself, what about the album? Well, there’s a few great things to note. This one is a rather special one in their catalogue as it’s their only album to feature only original material. And boy do they really show off their talents with this one. The real hero is definitely Jeff Beck, infusing blues rock riffs with psychedelic effects such as reverb and long sustained notes that whammy their way to your heart and soul. This is in part what makes this album so great. Unlike the previous album, the Yardbirds don’t play straight blues rock but play around with it to create something new and unique by incorporating psychedelic rock elements. It never becomes an actual psychedelic trip and always remains in the blues rock world (with elements of pop) but it’s this small infusion that really makes it memorable.

People who know me know I love a band that knows how to use their bass. This is one of those bands. With songs like “Lost Woman” and “What Do You Want” that have nice, loud and infectious bass lines that pop out and stick with you. You can feel the bass groove leaking through your headphones and into your body, taking it over and getting you lost in it.

Ok, the album isn’t perfect and does have some pop filler, “Farewell” comes to mind, but these lows are contrasted with great tunes like “Over Under Sideways Down”, which was the name of the US release, Jeff’s Boogie, an infectious dance beat that is true to it’s name, “Hot House of Omargashid” and “The Nazz are Blue”, two songs I feel you should just check out for yourself. The flow of the albums makes it easy to get through the slightly poppy tunes as they’re mashed between the great ones. it doesn’t matter if you’re not enjoying one, chances are you’ll love the next.

The album remains an incredibly memorable one and I loved it even more listening to it the second time around. If there’s ever an album I would suggest my readers (all four of you) to listen to, it would be this one.

But then again… that’s just… like… my opinion, man.

Song of Choice: What Do You Want

-Bosco