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1001 Albums: Midnight Ride

#68

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Artist: Paul Revere and the Raiders

Album: Midnight Ride

Year: 1966

Length: 29:08

Genre: Pop Rock/Garage Rock

“Girl, you thought you found the answer
On that magic carpet ride last night
But when you wake up in the mornin’
The world still gets you uptight
Well, there’s nothin’ that you ain’t tried
To fill the emptiness inside
When you come back down, girl
Still ain’t feelin’ right”

Oh boy, it’s a little dusty here. For a second I almost forgot that I even had a blog sitting out there on the internet. I waited a little too long to do this one that I came out of the routine of listening to the albums and posting regularly. It happens I guess, you get into a good routine and everything is running smoothly an then suddenly something happens and stops the routine. You figure, the next day, the next day, another day. It becomes easier to just wait another day then do it now. You think, it’ll happen, I’ll do it, but find yourself a week or two later realising you haven’t. Whoops. Honestly, my perception of time has been warped a bit these days and although I know exactly what day we are (Monday, woohoo) I have no idea how much time has passed. It’s like I can’t feel the passage of time and it’s all going by in a blur and a haze, three hours could feel like ten and one minute could go by in a day and I won’t even notice. Should I be concerned? Nah…

A lot has happened since my last post. I went down to Montreal to watch Sandra perform in a modernized adaptation of Romeo and Juliet, set in a post-apocalyptic world. She played Juliet and fucking killed it. Knocked it out of the metaphorical park and nailed the performance. I was both blown away and impressed (are they the same thing?) by it and it made me fall for her even more. Sappy, I know, shut up.

I also moved in to my newest apartment this week. Officially on my own and doing my own thing and I gotta say it’s been amazing… ly terrifying. Amazing nonetheless, but scary as all shit, especially since I still don’t have a job. Money is going but none is coming back, which anyone can say isn’t the greatest feeling. I know I’m not the only one who has gone through that and and won’t be the last, it’s part of being an adult and life, it happens to all of us, but it’s currently what’s going on now and it’s a doozy of an anxiety blanket on my shoulders. But I apply as much as I can everyday so something is bound to come up soon… right? RIGHT?

At least I don’t have to worry about food for awhile. My mom in all her Italian Motherhood brought up three months worth of food for me. As much as I feel I should be doing these things on my own, I sometimes am really happy that I have an Italian Mother. And if you’re wondering, yes all the stereotypes about Italian Mothers are very true, so that means no matter what I will always be well fed.

Part of the reason it took me so long to listen to this album was the fact that the entire album wasn’t on Spotify. Yeah it was one of those weird ones where only a few of the songs are missing… for some reason. The entire album is there except for one song. One damn song. WHY?! I’ve come to understand that it’s not up to Spotify to decide what can be played or not and it actually comes down to the artist and labels themselves. But why would they put the entire album available for play by the public and make one song off it unavailable? Is it to annoy people? Because I just feel annoyed by this. In order to listen to it I had to have it readily available on Youtube (which thankfully that one song was). But since I do most of my listening outside of the house and I was out of data on my phone for the month… it made the whole situation a little complicated. And it’s a shame to because the song that was missing, All I Really Need Is You, was a solid tune for the album and blended their rock heavy, proto-punk attitude songs with their more pop-sounding ones. If you ever do decide to listen to this album on Spotify, get the missing song ready on a different tab, it’ll be worth it.

So, enough was enough, I had woken up early this morning and figured I have more than enough time to listen to it and so I did. I’m happy I finally did because I really enjoyed this album. I had been eagerly awaiting this one because I had already known and loved their song Kicks, which I’ll get into after, and wanted to hear more from them. I was not disappointed. What we get is a very enjoyable rock album, with elements of garage and proto-punk thrown in for extra flavour. There’s a nice level of aggressiveness barely breaking the surface of the music, which adds a lot to the subtext of what you’re listening to and never crosses the threshold of being in your face or obnoxious. Even with that it still manages to keep it upbeat and happy, even with the anger festering and boiling underneath it all. At times this is used perfectly as a juxtaposition with the lyrics. Ballad of a Useless Man, I’m Not Your Steppin’ Stone and There She Goes by all means should be depressing songs but Paul Revere and the Raiders manage to turn them into darkly upbeat tunes. Sure the lyrical content talks about themes such as bad romance, being played and dumped, feelings of worthlessness and being used, but thanks to the delivery of the vocals and the rockin’ instrumentals, we instead get the bitter musings of someone who is both angry at their shitty situations and yet mildly apathetic to the point that you question how upset they really are. It’s honestly beautiful.

Kicks still remains a stand-out song to me. Not for it’s musicianship but for it’s lyrical content. I remembering studying this song years back in University when I had a class on the history of Psychedelic Music. At the time it was weird to hear a song that was incredibly anti-drug use. With all the bands and musicians around them dropping acid, doing drugs and going on trips, it was really controversial of them to release a song that was very against what all their peers were doing. Sort of the beginning of the counter-counter culture, the people who were counter culture but were also against what the revolutionaries were doing. (Funny I say this because SPOILER ALERT Frank Zappa is up next who was the king of the counter-counter culture type). It’s such a clever questioning of the whole drug culture that was springing up. Do you really find your answers on your magic carpet ride? Do you really come out of it feeling different and understanding everything? From their observations, no, most of their peers would come out of their trips still feeling the same bitter way they did before and seemed to come up with the whole “It opens your mind” mantra as an excuse to continue to get their kicks that aren’t helping in any way to begin with.

Drug culture always baffled me. I never understood someone’s want or need to do drugs. I guess, to an extent, I can understand the idea of trying everything at least once, but when it comes to something that fucks up your mind… I don’t know if it’s really worth it. For some maybe, they love the experience and the trip, so much that they will go back for more if the first one was exceptionally amazing. For me, it’s a solid no every time. I’ll be honest, I’ve tried weed a few times in my life, the experience was so mundane and boring that all I could think was “This is what all those stoners are going on about? Jesus, no wonder most of them aren’t really exciting people”. (I have met exciting people who smoke a lot, but their exceptions to the rule from my experience). I ran into on old classmate from high school once, he was a real pothead back in the day. It was a strange experience altogether. He was the same guy but… slightly different. His speech patterns had slowed down immensely and he looked like he was walking around as if in a cloud. He wasn’t high at that moment (Trust me I knew him high) and part of felt a little sad. I can’t blame the drugs because I don’t know if that’s why his brain seemingly slowed down incredibly since I last knew him, but it’s not crazy to think that was the cause, especially since he was smoking heavily during his teen years, when you’re brain is still in development.

As you can tell I am very anti-drug, but I will never be preachy about it, I will just have my opinion on it all. If someone is with me and wants to indulge in some drugs, by all means they can do whatever they want, it’s their choice. As long as they respect the fact I don’t want to (and believe me it’ll take way more than peer pressure to get me doing it) then we’re all good. Nobody has convinced me that drugs are worth doing ever and every experience I’ve had with people who do drugs has always turned me off completely.

I once went to a house party that I thought was going to be a classic house party but ended up being a pill party. Everyone around me was crushing pills, snorting powder, ingesting things from Ecstasy to Speed. It was a nightmare fuelled night as I stumbled from room to room (completely sober, I was afraid to drink that night because who knows what could happen while inebriated) and just witnessed people on the floor, eyes barely open, smiling stupidly at nothing and giggling with their peers, it cemented my ideals of never doing drugs ever. Someone my family knew had developed schizophrenia thanks to smoking too much weed (brief explanation, drugs don’t create mental illness but can trigger the mental illness and speed up the process in people who already have it or are prone to developing it) and as someone who in his early adulthood found out he had OCD, Social Anxiety and Depression, it just made the idea of drug use even more terrifying. Did I really want to make any of these things worse than they already were? No, not at all. That’s a risk I am never going to take no matter who tells me how good the trip will be.

So, I went on a bit of a tangent there, didn’t even expect myself to do that. That’s the beauty of free-writing though, you never know where it’s going to take you. Overall, the album was a very enjoyable rocker that anyone can really enjoy. Even though there are some filler songs that the album could have done without, Little Girl in the 4th Row and Melody for an Unknown Girl come to mind not because they’re bad but stylistically they stick out and feel out of place on this album, it’s still a solid piece of work.

Song of Choice: Get It On

-Bosco

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1001 Albums: If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears

#67

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Artist: The Mama’s and the Papa’s

Album: If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears

Year: 1966

Length: 33:42

Genre: Pop Rock/Folk Rock/Sunshine Pop

“Got a feelin’ that you’re playing some game with me babe
Got a feelin’ that you just can’t see
If you’re entertaining any thought that you’re gaining
By causing me all of this pain and making me blue
The joke on you”

I have officially signed a lease and am moving in to my very own apartment within a week. It’s exciting stuff. No more mooching off my cousins, now I will truly be an independent adult. Free to do whatever I want whenever I want (within the limits of the law and my monthly budget). Finally I can see what it feels to be a full-functioning adult… alone with the pressures of the world and society crashing down on me and the burden of the sudden influx in bills to pay. I can’t wait.

So, that’s one thing of my checklist and a weight off my shoulders. Now all I need is a job and I’ll be set for now. It’s surprising how easy yet difficult it has become to get a job. I think I’ve sent my CV to a good 30 places and only heard from roughly two. I keep getting emails that say my application has been viewed… but then hear nothing from that company. Oh well… Isn’t it funny how you’re always told to go to places in person because it shows determination and perseverance but when you do go they tell you to apply online? Getting a lot of mixed signals from everyone. You’re always told to do one thing and then when you do it they tell you another but then you’re supposed to do the first thing because people like that, yet they don’t like it either. What the fuck… no wonder we’re so confused all the time.

I’ll give myself a mental break from that because I have to tell you guys about The Mama’s and the Papa’s. Oh man, these guys. Monday Monday and California Dreamin’ were two songs that were part of my childhood song diary that played on my dad’s music compilations. I used to hear both those songs so many damn times, they’re part of the repertoire of music engraved in my head forever. Not complaining, I actually enjoyed those songs. When I was a kid and was attending day camp during the summer, my group actually performed a dance routine to California Dreamin’ that I got a little to into that it garnered some weird looks from the other kids. Hey, don’t hate cause I love to dance.

I find this album is really a testament of it’s time. A lens into a specific group of people circa 1966. This whole album just reaks of hippie flower-power folk rock that it can turn you off if you’re really not into it. That’s kind of a shame because musically it delivers with particular attention to the harmonies created by the four members of the band, specifically Mama Cass and Michelle Phillips, who, when blended together, create angelic harmonies that can only please your ears.

If you don’t pay attention you might miss some of the lyrical content, which is easy to assume is just your typical love cheese. Being catered for their hippie love, the lyrical content kind of grasps every aspect of the flower power lifestyle: Peace, Love and Promiscuous sex. That’s right, it’s a little shocking what they sing about at times (mostly for the time they came out) that there were nerves when it came to selling the album. Heck, the album cover itself garnered enough controversy and it’s only crime was it featured a toilet on it. Oh no, not a toilet. It’s interesting to see how The Mamas and The Papas are considered a little risque, especially when considered to today. I guess companies were run by very conservative people who didn’t like the idea of sleeping around being thrown out there. God forbid people like sex.

I got to say though, as much as Michelle Phillips is a bomb shell, I wouldn’t be surprised if Mama Cass was the one getting way more action. Her singing voice, with that rare soprano quality, was enough to get any man to cream his pants and I’m sure everyone’s wanted that experience with a BBW. For larger woman, she was definitely a good role model as she proved size and weight didn’t matter and you can still be a banging lady.

mama cass

Don’t lie, you would.

So, this got oddly sexual, but hey can you blame me? That was a big thing for the hippies. The sexual revolution was a big deal and changed how people viewed the act. No longer was it a taboo subject to hush in giggled whispers, they normalised it as a fun thing that everyone enjoys and removed the judgements that came with it. And STDs… that was a big thing to… probably should have used condoms buddies.

Whatever your stance on it, approve or dissaprove, it was still a big part of the 60s and this album is a nice time capsule to that era. From the musical vibes to the themes of the music, it really grabs your hand and takes you back to that time to experience it for yourself.

I’ll end this with something humorous for your viewing pleasure. French and Saunders did a style parody of The Mamas and The Papas on their tv show back in the 90s (early 2000s?) and I think they captured their style almost perfectly. Man, I love these two ladies:

 

Song of Choice: California Dreamin’

-Bosco

 

 

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1001 Albums: Face to Face

#66

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Artist: The Kinks

Album: Face to Face

Year: 1966

Length: 38:32

Genre: Rock Pop

“Rock ‘n’ roll or vocal star
A philharmonic orchestra,
Everything comes the same to him.
He is a session man,
A chord progression,
A top musician.”

I’m tired. Not in a bad way. I’m just really tired. Normal, everyday tired. Not enough sleep and an early morning and you have one tired individual who’s wondering how he’ll make it though his incredibly long day ahead of him. When you have class non-stop from 9 am to 6 pm plus errands to run involving getting a new student ID for a bus pass that’s at a specific subway station fr away and are moving to a new apartment soon but the details haven’t been fleshed out yet and it’s the beginning of the month tomorrow and you also have the crushing weight of life and money (especially since I don’t have a job yet) pushing down on your shoulders, it makes for a tiring day. Ok, so maybe there’s more at play than just being tired but… shush, I’m just going to feel tired and leave it at that.

I’m probably going to keep this brief, mainly because I’m writing this while we watch King Kong in class, but also because I don’t really have much to say about this album. When I saw The Kinks were next on the list a part of me was happy. The little I’ve heard of them I’ve really enjoyed, they had a raunchy sound to them and almost had a bit of a hard rock feel (for the 60s). This was not what I was hoping for. I really shouldn’t jump into these albums with expectations any more. I mean, it’s difficult when it’s a band that has a reputation for being a certain way or just one that is hugely popular in general. Hard to shake that off when you already have a preconceived notion of what a certain band is supposed to be like.

So to my surprise this wasn’t The Kinks I knew but a different era of Kinks when they gave up their raunchy sound and instead changed to a more pop-oriented sound (I feel a lot of these albums are only on this list because it represented a band’s change in musical style (Like The Beach Boy’s Today! for example)). Of course I didn’t know this going into it and felt like I was listening to an early era Beatles rip-off rather than The Kinks. I guess The Beatles had gone on to a new sound so someone had to fill the void that was their old sound. The Kinks jumped into it at the right moment.

About five songs in I stopped myself. I stopped the album and stopped listening for a bit. This wasn’t fair for The Kinks. Based on some unnecessary judgement I seemed to have already made an opinion of the album before I even listened to it. One song in shouldn’t have set how I felt about it immediately (Although arguably the first song on the album is supposed to set the mood of the entire album and is incredibly important, but in this particular case it was based on my expectations rather than what it was). I took a few hours to rethink it and decided to give the album a second chance with an open-mind.

As much as the opening song still feels like an early era Beatles ripoff, the rest of the album is actually not that bad (and I’ll even admit the opening song is actually kind of fun). As it progresses you really hear The Kinks falling into their own pop sound and it’s an interesting evolution to listen to as it slowly progresses from song to song. What I particularly liked was the muffled effects on the vocals and the keyboard sound that gave the feel of a twangy medieval sound (which I always enjoyed myself). These were nice little touches that really gave them their own feel and kind of set them apart from just a typical Pop Rock sound.

I read somewhere that this was one of Rock’s first concept albums and even though we’ve already seen a few, this one feels like the least… concepty compared to previous ones we’ve heard (Frank Sinatra’s In The Wee Small Hours comes to mind). I mean, I’ll trust the critics when they say it’s a concept album but… I had a hard time deciphering what the concept was exactly. At first it almost sounded like it was going to be a lens into youth culture. Giving us an image of each faction, from partying, staying out late, sleeping around and worrying parents. But by the fifth song it confused me since it felt like it didn’t relate to the ideas of the first and as it progressed it lost me even more. Maybe I wasn’t listening hard enough and it really all did relate to commentary on youth culture, but I find it hard to believe that a song like Session Man or Sunny Afternoon has anything to do with the youth. I tried to figure it out and the best I could find is that the concept was Observations. Yeah… observations on… I guess society at the time, which I can stand by and seems to fit the mold of the album perfectly. But… observations is a really vague concept to the point that can we really consider it a concept? It’s almost like saying an album is a concept album with the theme of storytelling because every song tells a story, in that case almost every album is a concept album. I’m not denying or saying this wasn’t in fact a concept album, I’m just questioning it. With a concept that vague it’s hard to really go against.

So who knows, maybe circa 1966 the idea of even a remotely vague thread throughout was considered a concept and in that respect I’ll go “Sure, I see it”. As a whole the album is pretty solid and The Kinks show off some decent songwriting that is relatively accessible for any listener to enjoy. It apparently didn’t sell very well when it first came out and actually went out of print for awhile, which is a shame, really.

I’m glad I decided to give it a second chance because overall I did enjoy it. Not my favourite and I felt it loses steam by the three quarter mark, but there’s some great tunes on here that is enough to keep you listening.

Song of Choice: Dandy

-Bosco

 

 

 

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1001 Albums: Black Monk Time

#65

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Artist: The Monks

Album: Black Monk Time

Year: 1966

Length: 29:48

Genre: Garage Rock/Proto-Punk

“Alright, my name’s Gary
Let’s go, it’s beat time, it’s hop time, it’s monk time now!
You know we don’t like the army
What army?
Who cares what army?
Why do you kill all those kids over there in Vietnam?
Mad Viet Cong
My brother died in Vietnam!
James Bond, who was he?
Stop it, stop it, I don’t like it!
It’s too loud for my ears
Pussy galore’s comin’ down and we like it
We don’t like the atomic bomb
Stop it, stop it, I don’t like it . . . stop it!”

I’m a negative person. I think that’s been pretty apparent. It’s just kind of who I am. I’ve always been relatively negative, but as the years go by I find my negativity slowly growing and growing. I’m not really a pessimist. More of a realist. Depending on the context I could either be an optimistic-realist or a pessimistic-realist. If you ask me if the glass is half full or half empty, my response would be it depends, was the glass emptied or filled? If someone poured water into it, it’s half-full, but if water had been removed, it’s half-empty. That’s usually how I see it. I’m optimistic or pessimistic based on the context of the situation and the possible outcome.

That being said, I’m still negative even when I’m feeling optimistic. My go-to emotions usually tend to be sadness, anger or envy, which anyone can tell you are terribly negative emotions to have. I don’t do it on purpose, it just seems to be the initial response to most situations… unfortunately. It’s not great, but every day I fight those negative feelings and try to overcome them and am taking baby steps to pick up my positivity. It helps to that it’s all balanced out by Sandra, who’s a super positive and bubbly person. If it weren’t for her balancing out my negativity, I don’t know how bad I’d be right now. Probably really bad… scares me to even think about it.

So, when I am met with great moments of positivity, I usually tend to bask in it and enjoy it while it lasts. These days it’s been few and far between, so it’s really a treat when it occurs. One thing that creates this effect is discovering new music I love. This is exactly what happened when Black Monk Time started to play on my Ipod. We all know that feeling when we discover something new that just connects with us. The initial “What’s this?”, the growing excitement, the pure pleasure of it all and the final satisfaction of happiness that was this new discovery. That is what happened with this album.

I had never heard of The Monks before and the very simple album cover left much to the imagination. Who is this band? What style are they? What would the music be like? I could only imagine the endless possibilities of what I might experience and all my expectations were exceeded. It helps that this was Proto-Punk too. Being such a huge fan of Punk, New Wave and Post-Punk, this was sort of the missing link of those styles that I’ve been waiting for my whole life (or since I was 18 at least).

What happens when an american rock band goes to Germany to record? You get this album. Without the american companies controlling the music they create and shaping them to be marketable and accessible to the masses for profit, The Monks were able to let loose with their music and create exactly what they wanted with no one breathing down their necks. If you take time to listen to their lyrics, there’s no way any american producer would have let them keep that (for the 60s that is). This album would become heavily influential to the Punk genre, with it’s simple yet aggressive musical arrangements, it’s angry “Fuck you” lyrical content and it’s devil-may-care attitude. I wouldn’t be surprised many Punk bands were heavily influenced either directly or indirectly by this album. I definitely hear a little bit of Stiff Little Fingers and Pylon in this. Thanks to it’s production in Germany it would also open the door to Kraut-Rock (a genre I haven’t heard much of, but the little I have heard I have enjoyed immensely).

Upon it’s release it was not a commercial success, only getting attention later on once people started to realise it’s influence. That makes sense since none of the songs found on this album adhere to the pop formula. I can see listeners tuning in to the record and being turned off by what they heard back when it came out. Even though some garage bands managed to make some mainstream notice, what separates The Monks from… say… The Sonics, is that they really did their own thing and managed to create something completely different. The Sonics may have sounded dirtier and raw, but they still had covers of popular tunes in their repertoire, The Monks were 100% original.

What’s interesting about this album is that it’s a perfect example of repetition being used masterfully. The music gets incredibly repetitive with the same riff being used throughout, with slight variations to make it seem different. For the most part it feels like the same beat and tune being played, with some fills and additional changes thrown in for spice and flavour. But where repetition can be incredibly annoying, here it’s completely infectious. You find the beat sticking with you, invading your core and making you feel the music, dancing and tapping away. As it goes on it grows on you and overtakes you rather than pushes you away.

I’ve lost track of what my current favourite album on the list is. I sort of stopped mentioning which one it was but my best bet was Jerry Lee Lewis – Live at the Star Club, Hamburg, (Which Sandra got for me on vinyl for my birthday, imported from Europe!!!!) but it’s safe to say, this one has overtaken it and is now my current favourite. I had listened to this twice already in a short amount of time and am already ready to listen to it a third time, I loved it that much.

Nothing better than new discoveries and I hope there are many more to come. (Probably are).

 

Song of Choice: I Hate You

-Bosco

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1001 Albums: Blonde on Blonde

#64

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Artist: Bob Dylan

Album: Blonde on Blonde

Year: 1966

Length: 72:57

Genre: Folk Rock

“Well, Shakespeare, he’s in the alley
With his pointed shoes and his bells
Speaking to some French girl
Who says she knows me well
And I would send a message
To find out if she’s talked
But the post office has been stolen
And the mailbox is locked
Oh, Mama, can this really be the end
To be stuck inside of Mobile
With the Memphis blues again”

Remember in my last post how I talked about my Birthday always being disappointing? I honestly went into it this year with zero expectations. Removed any sign it was my birthday so I didn’t have to worry about people wishing me a Happy Birthday and just had the attitude that it was just another regular, average day. Somehow it still managed to disappoint me. All I wanted to do that night was sit back and watch a movie. That’s it. But of course, there had to be something.

The most insane thing happened right that evening. I had sat down to play with my keyboard. Right when I hit the opening chord of The Final Countdown, the power went out. Ok, I thought, no big deal, it’ll probably be back on soon. I go upstairs and find my cousins in a panic and looking outside. I go to see what’s up.

It seems there was a power surge in the power lines that made it’s way to the transformer. It wasn’t able to handle it so it blew up, cracked the pole in half and plummeted to the ground, fire burning on both ends of the cracked pole. Fire truck pulled up, police blocked the street, Hydro came to check it out. Wouldn’t be fixed until the next morning. That was it. All I wanted was to do the simplest task of watching one god damn movie and I couldn’t even been given that for my Birthday. Since I turned 19 the world was out to make sure I was disappointed on my Birthday (with the exception of my 21st Birthday which was arguably my best). I had zero expectations and I still managed to receive a surprise that would just bring that down. On top of all that, because there was no power, I managed to have some of the worst sleep ever. Already I found myself in bed at 10 pm, which is early for me and was met with non-stop waking up, tossing and turning and not one, not two, but three solid nightmares just to add the icing on the cake of what was otherwise a really lackluster Birthday.

I know in the grand scheme of things, this really isn’t a big deal. But when all you want for your Birthday is to have a good day and you can’y even get that, for just one freaking day, it really gets to you. It’s an accumulation of small annoying things that usually hit you harder than one big thing and when all you want to do is just watch a movie and can’t even be given the joy of doing that one simple thing… it’s not fun.

On a happier note, I spent the weekend on a film set, which was glorious for me. I haven’t been on one in a long time and it felt great to finally do it again. When it cam to film I had lost my confidence after a good friend of mine basically turned his back on me and made me feel like I was worthless and useless. It’s taken a lot for me to climb over that wall and move on from those negative feelings. I don’t think being on this set necessarily cured that, but it’s definitely the baby steps I need to regain that confidence back and as the weekend came to an end, I felt slightly better over all. thankfully there are many, many other shoot dates to get through, so by the end of it, I will hopefully be back to my old self.

Ok, enough about me. Let’s talk about my best friend in the whole world, Bob Dylan. I’ve really been on a good Dylan streak here, discovering the beauty and joy of his music with each of his albums I’ve stumbled upon on this list. I’ve said it before where I used to avoid his music almost like the Plague, but upon actually listening to it I realised I was so, so wrong all those years. I wish I had taken the chance on him sooner, but it’s never too late to get into it and there’s nothing wrong with having your opinions change over time, we’re only human afterall.

I was beyond excited to hear what Bob had ins tore for us this time around. What leaps and bounds had he made from his last effort? How has he evolved since Highway 61? What new things was he trying? What growth had he made?

The answer is… well, not really that much.

What? This… this was what he had for us? After the greatness that was Highway 61, I really wanted to see how he could possibly go even higher and… he didn’t really. He sort of made the same thing. Stylistically it’s really not far off from Highway 61, which was the first disappointment of the album I got. This doesn’t mean it’s bad at all, it’s still a fantastic album, just… when you’re building us up to something that should have been a major explosion and then are met with the same fireworks display you’ve already seen… it kind of feels anti-climactic. I went in expecting a piece of work that would possibly blow my mind and was met with an extension of his last album. Nothing really different. Sure, he added a few little new things here and there and his hardwork was still shining through, but… this is not what I expected from Bobby Dylan himself. But I guess that happens when you throw in too high of an expectation, you only leave room for disappointment.

There’s seems to be a pattern with me. Something I’m noticing as I go through these albums. It seems that every time I’m met with an album that’s considered the greatest of all time, I never seem to really be that into it or engaged. That was my second disappointment with this album, I wasn’t engaged at all. Except for maybe a handful of songs, I didn’t find myself really into it as much as his previous efforts. I can’t really explain why, it just didn’t really do anything for me that his last album didn’t already do. Critics have hailed this album as one of the greatest of all time and just like Revolver I find myself questioning that. Why is this one his greatest? What exactly is the criteria for deciding what makes a “One of the greatest albums of all time”?

This is the tough part. I thought the more music I listened to and the more I began to learn about it, it would become easier to understand it. If anything, the more I go into it the harder it’s becoming to understand what really makes something great. Music is heavily subjective, everyone gets engaged with different things. There’s so many different genres out there with different styles and different rules and different formulas that it makes it impossible to say what really makes great music great music. I mean, you really have to look at the music within it’s genre, kind of like movies. You can’t critique a horror film the same way you do a Drama. They’re vastly different genres with their own tropes that you can’t compare the two (which is primarily why Horror films usually get the short end of the stick because people look at them compared to Citizen Cane rather than their respective genre). Now for sure there’s a lot that goes into deciphering what makes an album great: The Musicianship, the performance, the emotion, the lyrical content, the arrangements (just to name a few). But even then you always meet exceptions that are praised for breaking the rules, for simplicity, for trying new weird things never seen before. Take all this into consideration, how do we know what truly is great? How do we tell when a critic is being genuine, pretentious, against the grain or just full of shit? When you see an album getting praised by one critic but despised by another… who is right?

See what I mean by this is getting way more complicated than it should be? I guess at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter whether you thought something was good or bad, what truly matters is why. The why is the most important. It’s so easy to go “I didn’t like it” but if you don’t give any reasons other than “I just didn’t like it so it must be bad” there’s really no weight to what you’re saying. The why is what draws the line between good criticism and bad criticism. Two people might disagree with each other but if they both have reasons they can explain than neither of them are wrong. Someone might like the an album for the exact same reasons that someone else didn’t like it. Who is wrong? Well, no one, because it honestly always comes down to opinion. The only factor here is can you back up your opinion and explain it?

That’s not always easy to do. Sometimes you just plain don’t like something and can’t put your finger on why. You struggle to find words to express you’re dislike and can’t seem to do it, which is beyond frustrating, especially when everyone else thinks it’s great.

So, here’s where I stand with Blonde on Blonde. I think it’s a damn good album, but I do think Highway 61 should have gotten the praise this one was getting instead. I didn’t really feel like Bob Dylan was making any jumps forward with this album and was just continuing what he started on his previous one. I mean, there’s definitely some cool things he was trying out here. Blonde on Blonde is one of the first double LP’s, which in itself is a feat, and he incorporated some carnivalesque, marching band stylings in some songs, which was definitely new for him (whether you liked it or not). He left New York and went down to Nashville to record, putting himself in a fish out of water circumstance. And whether it has any worth or not, this was Dylan’s perfect vision. This was exactly the album Dylan had wanted to make forever and it came out exactly how it was in his head. This, in some ways, can be considered THE Dylan album since it’s the music that has been playing in his head that he’s been trying to recreate forever.

However, just because it’s your perfect album as an artist, doesn’t mean you made a perfect album for the consumer. His vision was finally out there and to him, on a personal level, it will always be the perfect album.

If you’re not Dylan however, the opening song could be a huge turn-off. it does absolutely nothing to set the tone of the album and it feels almost as if it’s a false start or a cold open. Unrelated but still part of it. Once you get past the carnival music that is that song (Unless you like it and that’s your thing), you can finally understand the mood of the album hitting the next one. The first half of this album is truly the remarkable part. Here we’re met with the strongest songs on the album and the ones that will hit you emotionally in the strongest way. With One of Us Must Know, the upbeat yet sad I Want You (Classic Dylan), the angsty yet beautifully done Stuck Inside a Mobile With the Memphis Blues Again (Easily one of his strongest songs, ever), and even the satirical and humourous Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat, which isn’t his strongest but is definitely a ton of fun and comical enough to get you laughing. Critics praise Visions of Johanna as being his masterpiece to which I say, ” Sure, Ok. If you say so.” I have nothing to say or add about that one, so I’ll just go with it.

What really lost me was the second half, for the most part it felt like Dylan just going through the motions, doing what he does best and ultimately being relatively forgettable in the grand scheme of things. Especially when you have the rest of his catalogue running through your head. The final song on the album Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands, comes across as an impressive feat. Dylan created a song for his wedding and this was the result, 11 minutes of just pure feeling and beauty. Unfortunately, this would have hit a higher note for me if it didn’t come across as Dylan trying to create another Desolation Row. As much as this song can stand on it’s own as a great piece of work, it just feels too similar to Desolation Row. As it was playing, I kept thinking to myself that I should just put on Desolation Row instead if I wanted to listen to 11 minutes of Dylan just rambling on. He seemingly was just trying to rehash what made Highway 61 so great and even though this struck a chord with so many people, this is ultimately why it disappointed me.

So, is it his greatest? Not to me, but it definitely ranks up there as some of his best. Definitely a little overrated, but still deserves the praise it gets for being a good album. It was a solid end to a trilogy of Folk Rock that Dylan set out to make and concludes it all nicely. The three albums really do work as a whole and when put together I’m sure make for one hell of a journey. I shouldn’t have gone in with such high expectations, but then again, it is Bob Dylan, we shouldn’t expect any less from him.

Song of Choice: I Want You

-Bosco

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1001 Albums: Fifth Dimension

# 63

Album_63_Original.jpg

Artist: The Byrds

Album: Fifth Dimension

Year: 1966

Length: 29:59

Genre: Folk Rock /Psychedelic Rock

“I don’t know who you think you are
I don’t know what you’re doing here

I don’t know what’s going on here
I don’t know how it’s supposed to be

I, I don’t have the vaguest notion
Whose it is or what it’s all for”

I actually listened to this album about a week ago. It’s taken myself a little time to sit and write it. It happens. Things happen. Felt like it was one thing after another just hitting me, one big thing falling on my shoulders at a time, bringing me down and beating me deeper to the ground. It’s hard to pick yourself up sometimes, but it’s doable and here I am, finally getting this post written.

Today is my Birthday. To most that sounds exciting and like a reason to celebrate. Not to me. In recent years I started detesting my Birthday. Dreading for this day to come around. I remember when I was young, when Birthday’s actually felt special. You’d wake up feeling like the king of the castle and parading around going “WOW I’M SEVEN!”. Nowadays it’s become a reminder that I’m getting older and instead of embracing it I find myself thinking “What have I done thus far in my life?” It’s a scary transition from youngling to adult and as the years slowly go by I find my Birthday slowly becoming more and more depressing. I’m not even old, I’m only 25.

25… the milestone birthday. I am now officially a quarter of a century. I still have no idea what I’m going to be doing a year from now and I feel like I don’t really have much to show for myself. But I’m guessing that’s normal. It’s also my champagne birthday. I’m 25 on the 25th. Will i celebrate in a big way for this milestone of milestones? Probably not. I’ll leave school, go home, do some stuff and then go to sleep. That’s how exciting Birthdays have become for me. I’ve quickly become disillusioned about it as I tried to keep that string of feeling special alive. But disappointing birthday after disappointing birthday just cut that string and made me realise, it’s just a day. Just a day like any other. It comes, it passes and then will be done. Nothing different. It’s just how it is I guess.

I barely got any birthday wishes either. Just parents, Sandra and some cousins. Big reason for that is because I removed it from Facebook. I’m not complaining. Part of the reason was I was fed up of receiving all these hollow, shallow birthday wishes from people I never talk to and barely know. It means nothing. It’s just people who got a ding on their facebook telling them some obscure friend they have has a birthday and in almost auto-pilot mode writes a quick message. The intentions are good and its nice… but it’s also completely meaningless. That’s what it’s become. So, I removed it and I actually feel better. The weight of the illusion of feeling special lifted from my shoulders and I can go about my day with no expectations whatsoever.

So, here I am, sitting in one of my classes, no one knows what today is and I’m writing this post. I wish I could say this album really shook my world and changed everything. I really wish I could say this album blew my mind and turned everything upside down. I only wish I could say that so I’d have way more to talk about. But it didn’t. If anything, it was just a really enjoyable album that I was able to listen to while cleaning and organising my room.

The Byrds seem to have grown quite a bit from their first album and are slowly transforming their sound from Folk Rock to Psychedelic Rock. A lot of this is due to the departure of Gene Clark, who was their main songwriter, and their lack of Bob Dylan covers, which is a surprising zero on this album. That being said, you can still hear the Dylan influence, especially on their first song, 5D, where the singer still sounds like he’s trying to do his best Dylan impression. But here they really sound like they’re falling into their own sound and even when the experimenting isn’t the greatest, there are moments of greatness on this album.

Eight Miles High was a huge hit for them, which s funny because it actually got banned from radio stations for it’s apparent references to drug use. What’s funnier is that it was actually just about aviation and flying a plane, absolutely nothing to do with drug use at all. But I guess they heard the word High and jumped to conclusions. 5D would also suffer the same fate, but where 5D was just a solid tune, Eight Miles High would become an important part of music history, being heavily influential in creating not only the sound of Psychedelic Rock and pioneering it but also opening the doors to the themes of drug use and acid trips that the genre was so famous for (even if that’s not what the song was about, future bands of the same genre would also find their songs getting banned from assumed drug references). Hiding the real theme of the song behind metaphors that evoke references of drugs would become a staple of a lot of psychedelic bands and where some were actually making direct references to it, others would just do it to fuck with the radio stations.

For the most part some of it is mostly forgettable and the rest is pretty good. The final song of the album was easily the most interesting, with it’s aviation theme and incorporating sounds of jet engines and wind to recreate the feel of being part of a jet flight (done as an ode to their good friend who made jets). It’s really a nice little lens into what bands were doing musically at the time. Experimenting with various sounds, reinventing genres (Folk Rock was used as a foundation and The Byrds were building up on it, mixing in Raga Rock and Indian influences to create the sound of Psychedelic Rock) and incorporating sound effects, which was still very new for mainstream music at the time.

Solid album, not my favourite. They were trying new things and this album really reflects the construction of a genre and the build-up to the phenomenon. Other bands would do it better, but The Byrds made solid contributions to pioneering the genre.

 

Song of Choice: Hey Joe (Where You Gonna Go)

-Bosco

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1001 Albums: Fred Neil

#62

Album_62_Original

Artist: Fred Neil

Album: Fred Neil

Year: 1967

Length: 39:09

Genre: Folk Rock

“Everybody’s talkin’ at me
I don’t hear a word they’re sayin’
Only the echoes of my mind

People stoppin’, starin’
I can’t see the faces
Only the shadows of their eyes”

 

From two giants of music to… this… guy. Fred Neil. Fred Neil, man. It’s Fred Neil guys. Fred Fucking Neil. Oh man, It’s Fred Neil. Everybody! Fred Neil! Give it up for Fred Neil everyone. Fred Neil!

Ok, so clearly I have no idea who Fred Neil is. Not my fault, I’m not into folk music, so I’m not aware of the icons of folk or anything. Wait… was this guy even a folk icon at all? I mean… did he even leave an impact in music? My research brings up almost nothing about him. Hell, he went practically unnoticed and wasn’t even a commercial success. His claim to fame is that other, more famous folk musicians covered some of his songs. He barely even toured. I’m so at a loss of what to say here. I might need a little help…

I asked a bunch of my friends what they could tell me about Fred Neil and this is the responses I got:

“Unfortunately not much… American Folk Singer born in 1936… I’m shocked I know that too… I absolutely did wikipedia that information, I honestly know nothing about him”

-Marc

 

“Never heard of him. I just had to Google him to even know who he was”

-Stephy

 

“Fred Neil? I have no clue. Never heard of him before”

-Vishesh

 

“Uhh never heard the name… He is a musician”

-Sandra

 

“Who?”

-Henry

 

“Nada”

-Sean

 

“Personally nothing. I don’t know him… Google him. I have no clue who he is… Tell you what?… I told you I don’t know him… He is old… Are you being silly? I told you I have no clue who he is”

-Mom

 

“Poop Emoji”

-Dad

 

“The one and only!… JK. I have no clue who the fuck that is”

-Graham

 

Fantastic… I received zero help from any of my friends, even the ones who have a vast knowledge of music. It seems like no one has heard of this guy. But he’s on the list… so someone must have heard of him… right? I mean, he must be good otherwise they wouldn’t have included him here, right? RIGHT?!

I’ll be honest, the reason I’m having such difficulty coming up with things to say about him is because this whole review can basically be summed up in three words:

“It’s Folk Rock”

That’s it. That basically sums up the entirety of the album. Whatever you’re thinking folk rock is, this is exactly what it is. Nothing more and nothing less. Just straightforward folk rock. If Bob Dylan was the spirit of Folk Rock than this album is the essence of it. It blends electric with acoustic seamlessly and he sings with a nice, deep voice to keep you listening tot he stories he’s telling. There’s some great harmonica in there and he even whistles rather nicely at one point. But… that’s it. That’s really all there is. He hits every point on the Folk Rock checklist and does it well. There you go. You know the album now. Whatever you’r picturing in your head is probably right on the mark (Unless you’re way off than don’t trust what you’re thinking).

I mean, I could try talking about each individual song, but what is there to really say? The opening song is called The Dolphins because… he fucking loves dolphins. No joke, he spent the later years of his life assisting the preservation of dolphins (Woah! Hey! An actual fun fact!). He just really loves dolphins. I could go on, but seriously, every song just went straight through my ears and I could barely even force myself to form any opinion on it.

But… if I really had to try, I guess I could muster one or two things. Here’s some fun trivia: Remember that song that played constantly throughout the movie Midnight Cowboy? Everybody’s Talkin’? Yeah? No, he didn’t play that version of it, Harry Nilsson did. But Fred was the original songwriter. I knew I recognised that song. The minute it played I had a feeling I had heard it somewhere and the first thing that popped into my head was visions of Dustin Hoffman and Jon Voight. But… it didn’t sound the same, so it couldn’t be that. But my instincts were right and… that’s pretty cool, I guess.

Now, if I were to speak of one song, and that’s a big if, I would talk about the last song on the album. Don’t ask me to tell you the name from memory because it’s a beast of a fucking name. A name so absurd that I couldn’t even spell it out, I had to copy paste it. The song is very simply called: Cynicrustpetefredjohn Raga. Dear fucking lord, what kind of a title is that? Why would you ever name you’re song like that? What is this bat shit insanity of a title name? Is it even relevant to the song? NO! It’s not. It’s 8 minutes of pure folk rock instrumental. That’s what it is. And by god it’s one hell of a tune. It’s like Fred decided to just take a 180 with the end of the album and finish it off with a grand finale. Almost like the folk-rock version of a free-form jazz tune. It takes you on a journey that you don’t even expect, with twists and turns around every bend. You end in a place that you didn’t even start in. This song is a big surprise at the end of this album and catches you completely off guard. I am happy for this.

So that was Fred Neil. I hope you learned something today… even if it is wildly underwhelming.

God…

 

Song of Choice: Cynicrustpetefredjohn Raga

-Bosco

 

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1001 Albums: Pet Sounds

#61

Album_61_Original

Artist: The Beach Boys

Album: Pet Sounds

Year: 1966

Length: 35:57

Genre: Pop Rock/Progressive Pop/Psychedelic

“Maybe if we think and wish and hope and pray it might come true
Baby then there wouldn’t be a single thing we couldn’t do
We could be married
And then we’d be happy

Wouldn’t it be nice

You know it seems the more we talk about it
It only makes it worse to live without it
But lets talk about it
Wouldn’t it be nice”

 

From one giant album to another. How perfectly timed that Pet Sounds was placed directly after Revolver on this list. Was it pure coincidence or strategically placed by some madman? We will never know. I’ll let the conspiracy theorists figure that one out.

I was happy that this one followed The Beatles because I was looking to hear something that actually deserved all or most of the praise it got. It’s funny, fans seem to really be butting heads over which was the best. Was it The Beatles’ Revolver or The Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds? No one can seem to agree and it’s the never ending battle between Beach Boys and Beatles. It doesn’t help that the two were constantly trying to one up each other, producing albums that were better and better, blurring the lines of who was actually better in the end. Historically we all know The Beatles were able to handle the pressure much better than Brian Wilson could. They did have their internal conflict and eventual break-up, but that’s no where near the sheer insanity that became of Brian Wilson, who suffered his incredibly famous meltdown during the Smiley Smile sessions. He was one hell of a madman whose pursuit of musical integrity caused him to go clinically insane. Poor guy.

But before getting to that point, Brian Wilson produced what is also considered one of the greatest rock albums of all time: Pet Sounds. You may have noticed that I stopped referring to them as The Beach Boys and am only mentioning Brian Wilson. Simple reason. After getting his first of many nervous breakdowns, Brian Wilson took on the role as leader and primary songwriter and started creating the albums practically by himself, with the rest of the band just being guided to follow his vision. Here he took on more of a dictatorial role, making sure his vision and only his vision were followed. Although Smiley Smile is the clear work of someone whose gone completely insane, Pet Sounds seems to be where his insanity matched his artistic integrity.

It’s worth noting that if you’re a big fan of their earlier work then you are going to be in for one hell of a shock with this album. It’s completely unlike any of their other work. Continuing the path they started with The Beach Boys Today! Brian Wilson distanced himself even further from the surf rock, beach themed music that originally made them famous and decided to delve deeper into an art rock sound, practically setting a standard (Alongside The Beatles) in the music industry and even grabbing a little taste of Psychedelia mixed into it. He definitely went all out with this album, including odd arrangements that had never been heard before and a whole array of instruments including flutes, harpsichords, organs and some unusual choices of dog barks, Coca-cola cans and Bicycle bells. This is also the first instance of the electro-theremin being included on a rock album, an instrument he would perfect in subsequent releases.

Brian Wilson took a page out of the Phil Spector handbook and used the Wall Of Sound technique here. I’m proud to say I recognised it almost immediately and got really excited about it. I won’t go on to explain what it is because I already did a good job at doing it in my Phil Spector review (which did you know that Christmas album was Brian Wilson’s favourite?). So I won’t bore you with the details, unless of course you really want to know, then just go check out The Christmas Album. I’m not giving you the link, don’t be lazy. Brian Wilson really seemed to master the technique in this album, with every instrument blending together seamlessly to the point that it just creates a sound that you can lose yourself into without being distracted.

Ok, Ok, I understand, I’m kind of just listing a sort of generic check-list of what makes the album so great. Everything I’ve said has already been said to death by hundreds of people already. Absolutely nothing new that you probably haven’t heard already. That was one of the things I struggled with when writing this post. I didn’t really know what to say that hadn’t already been said before. I mean, it’s one of the most talked about albums out there. It’s almost impossible to really give a fresh perspective on it all when everything that can be said about it has already been said. Almost makes it useless to even attempt writing about it to begin with. Knowing this it makes it kind of surprising that it almost fell into the cracks of musical history as it was practically overshadowed by the release of Revolver. I’m glad people took a second look at it before discarding it.

Ok, so what do I really think about Pet Sounds? My Revolver post kind of went on trying to understanding why it was considered the greatest album of all time it only makes sense that I’d start questioning this one too right? RIGHT?!

Well, yes and no. No because I didn’t want to make a repeat of my last post and yes because it makes for an interesting viewpoint. So what did I take away from this grand spectacle?

Well, Brian Wilson created this as a response to Rubber Soul, trying to top it. On that account I say he succeeded with flying colours. I would even go as far to say he created an album that’s tremendously better than Revolver. But I may be a little biased on that point since I do like The Beach Boys way more than The Beatles. I remember the first time I listened to this album, I was completely blown away by its production and left feeling incredibly satisfied musically. This being my third time listening to it, I did feel the magic wore off a bit. I do miss the days of faster Beach Boys music as this does feel like it can drag on a little a times. But when it hits, it hits hard. Right from the beginning when you hear the classic notes of Wouldn’t It Be Nice, you;re set into the right mood and ready for the experience. Also, I just really love that song. It has been perpetually stuck in my head since I first heard it at the age of 12. I don’t think I will ever not love that song and the day I don’t will be a very sad day. Throw in a classic like Sloop John B and you know you’re in for something great.

Brian Wilson also seems to have done something truly spectacular with the harmonies here. They have already proven on previous records that they’re masters of the harmony, but here he manages to create something that is truly chilling and haunting. Accompanied with the music, the blend of vocals creates an atmospheric harmony that transcends your ears into levels I didn’t even know existed. I couldn’t believe what i was listening but it truly was something magical.

Ok, so I know the album itself can feel a little repetitive musically. The whole album does have a very uniform sound to it and it all feels like each individual song is really part of a whole in the grander scheme of it all. That’s because this was a concept album, not lyrically or thematically (Although themes do recur throughout) but musically. Brian Wilson set out to create an album that had no filler songs. An album where each song could stand on their own yet come together to create a full entity. That’s really what Pet Sounds is all about at the end of the day. Songs that work like puzzle pieces to create a full image. You can’t have the whole if you’re missing just one and I feel that none of these songs can really be removed from the album. It’s as cohesive as it can get and I think Brian Wilson succeeded in reaching his goal.

The album is definitely not for everyone, especially if you’re going in expecting classic Beach Boys. I know for myself, I did find myself not really getting into some of the slower songs but they never really hit a low point for me. The highs are super high and the lows are still pretty high, which is as good as any album can get really. It’s really an album I’d put on if I was in the mood to just get lost to the music. it’s an experience all right and it’s one that’s definitely worth the ride, even if you’re not into that sort of the thing.

 

Song of Choice: Wouldn’t It Be Nice

-Bosco

 

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1001 Albums: Revolver

#60

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Artist: The Beatles

Album: Revolver

Year: 1966

Length: 34:43

Genre: Pop Rock/Psychedelic Rock

“We all live in a yellow submarine
Yellow submarine, yellow submarine
We all live in a yellow submarine
Yellow submarine, yellow submarine
We all live in a yellow submarine
Yellow submarine, yellow submarine
We all live in a yellow submarine
Yellow submarine, yellow submarine
We all live in a yellow submarine
Yellow submarine, yellow submarine
We all live in a yellow submarine
Yellow submarine, yellow submarine
We all live in a yellow submarine
Yellow submarine, yellow submarine
We all live in a yellow submarine
Yellow submarine, yellow submarine”

Oh Boy!… The Beatles… Again… I’m so excited…

As you can tell from my blatant sarcasm, I’m still not sold on The Beatles. As usual, I don’t hate them, I don’t even dislike them, I actually do enjoy them, I’m just not crazy about them. I guess you can say the ever popular comeback to this, I just don’t get it. It’s true. I don’t. I thought I was starting to get it when Rubber Soul went by, but then Revolver hit and I have no idea what to think any more.

I can already hear you saying: “But Revolver is the greatest Beatles album, even the greatest album of all time period. How did this one not turn you? HOW COULD YOU LIKE MUSIC IF YOU CAN’T EVEN SAY THE BEATLES ARE YOUR FAVOURITE BAND?”

You think I’m exaggerating, but someone actually told me that last one and yes, they even yelled it rather angrily at me.

I guess they bring up a fair point. The Beatles and especially this album, are widely considered to be the greatest music of all time. It’s become almost common sense at this point. There’s absolutely no way I can listen to Revolver and say that it’s bad because it’s been called the greatest album of all time by literally almost everyone.

So what does that say about me?

Well, a lot of factors go into how I felt about this album. It was over-sold being the main one. Everyone’s been in that position where someone praised something to the high heavens to them and told them they must enjoy and love it now like everyone else because it’s sooooooo amazingly amazingly amazing, only to finally experience it and go… that was it? That was the amazingly amazingly amazing thing I was supposed to find so amazingly amazingly amazing?

Don’t get me wrong, like I said above, I do enjoy a good Beatles tune. I liked Rubber Soul and was ready to be wowed by this one. But instead I found myself with mixed feelings. I din’t really know how to feel about it. If anything the whole thing left me more confused than anything. I couldn’t wrap my head around it. I didn’t get it. Who knows, maybe one day It’ll finally hit me and I will have the revelation of a lifetime and I’ll finally understand it all. A Beatles tune will pop up on the radio and in that moment it will all come rushing into me and I’ll snap fingers and go EUREKA! But until then, I’ll still be confused.

I actually wonder what it is that people who love The Beatles think. So far, in my search of understanding, I’ve come across two types of answers to my question of why are The Beatles the best?

The first is the ever useful: ” Because it’s The Beatles duuuuuh”. Unfortunately, that’s doesn’t give me much insight into… well, anything. Other than being completely useless as a statement it also proves that this particular person is probably just jumping on The Beatles bandwagon and doesn’t want to be judged for saying anything other than their the best.

The second, much better, response I usually get is usually a in-depth look at their collection of greatest hits. This makes more sense and I definitely get some good insight into how The Beatles were incredibly influential and the impact they made on rock, pop, psychedelic and just music in general. When I have this kind of in-depth conversation with someone, I usually tend to agree with them. But it’s easy to when all your examples are some of their greatest songs. Like any fanbase, it’s easy to show off their strengths when you pick and choose which songs to talk about. You’ll obviously pick the best of the bunch and leave the weaker ones to rot in the basket. It makes sense, you want people to be on your side, not convince them you’re wrong. That being said, I will say it is hard to find a really shitty and awful Beatles song because they were very talented blokes and actually made the effort to write decent music.

So what do I think of Revolver?

Well, it’s ok in my opinion. There’s a lot that’s there to really strengthen the idea that The Beatles are the best, but for the most part the album ranges from Spectacualrly Good to Mildly Mediocre. That’s still very good for an album to achieve especially since every album always has that one song that it could have done without (this one included) but in their case they managed to never go under the belt and write something awful, which that deserves mad respect.

The Beatles were definitely evolving and trying out new things with this one. Things that were unheard of in rock… ever. From playing tracks backwards, to incorporating an octet of strings, to using sound effects, perfecting their harmonies, creating memorable melodies and just all-around creating both a rocking  and mellow vibe at the same time. This marked the beginning of Psychedelic Music in popular culture and opened the door for bands of the genre to really go all out. Only The Beatles could have paved the way for such a mind-bending genre and if it weren’t for them opening the door to the mainstream, Psychedelic Rock might have easily stayed in the counter-culture. But that’s pure speculation.

I know it sounds like I contradicted myself there, but where I got confused wasn’t the musical expertise on the album, but was the songs themselves. It’s hard not to listen to the beautiful strings of Eleanor Rigby, that support the themes of loneliness, and not react emotionally in some way. It’s a really sad song that gets to your heart strings and really tugs at them as if they were being played by the violinist instead. George Harrison’s Sitar work was incredible on Love You To and it’s nice to see them incorporating their hindi influences from their escapades in India. Even songs like I’m Only Sleeping (despite it’s almost grating vocals), Here, There and Everywhere and For No One manage to evoke some decent feelings (whether it’s eerie, mellow, transcendental or even cheery) and shows of their musical expertise. I even found myself really enjoying She Said She Said, which despite the dark lyrics almost felt like an ode to their older pop style. Funny coming from me after disliking that pop sound so much, maybe it was due to the mix of the lyrics or maybe I’m just full of shit (Hey, I’m only human, we’re all full of shit at some point).

But then, there’s the other songs. The album opens with Taxman, which to this day I still have no idea whether to call this a great Beatles song or an odd miss on their part. It was an odd way to start the album (except maybe the obvious countdown at the beginning) and almost felt like it should belong on another one of their albums. And then there’s the lyrically lame Good Day Sunshine and the rather mediocre Doctor Robert, which I feel both do nothing to really show off the progress they’ve made as musicians. Almost like music they could do in their sleep, as if they were on auto-pilot when writing it. Even Got To Get You Into My Life feels a little forgettable as far as The Beatles go. And then, close to halfway through the album we’re met with Yellow Submarine.

I want someone to tell me with a straight face that this song is the epitomy of amazingness. I want someone to seriously tell me this is a fantastically great song. This song is awful. Let me rephrase that. This song would be great, if this was a an album for children. It’s not. It’s an album with adult themes and dark, melancholic vibes. This song does not fit at all. Other than the fact that it just sounds incredibly stupid, especially when compared to the rest of the songs on the album, it’s also laughably dull. Even the vocals sound completely bored of the song, as if the spirit of Ben Stein overtook them when recording it. Everytime the chorus hits they sound so enthused to be singing it that the monotone delivery really packs a punch. This is a song that we used to sing all the time as kids and when we did it was always to mockingly imitate that damn chorus line. At least it managed to make us laugh. But of all The Beatles albums it could have been on, it was on this one to my astonishing surprise. Did they put this on as a joke? Or were they just incredibly high when making this album.

I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if they were. They became notorious for their LSD taking and were definitely on some sort of substance while recording in the studio. That’s what this album feels like most of the time, some weird LSD trip, as if they were able to capture what they saw into their music (which that in itself is an amazing feat). And this all culminates into the final song of the album: Tomorrow Never Knows. A song so absurd, so trippy, so deep into psychedelia that I honestly can’t tell if they just lost their minds and created noise or this is a fucking masterpiece. It’s so easy to get lost into the song and depending on your mood it’ll either be in a good way or bad way. Either way, it’s one hell of a song to end the album with.

So, what can I conclude from all this? Is this really the greatest album of all time? Maybe… who am I or anyone to say, really? Objectively they were doing a lot of new and interesting things musically that really set a whole new standard of what rock and pop should be. It impacted the musical world so hard that most artists look back to this as the one that really started it all for them. But then again, considering something great is a very subjective thing. What a lot of people might have loved about this album, I might have disliked and vice verse (me liking, you disliking). I really feel The Beatles were a product of their time. A vessel into music history. A portrait of what it was like for music in the 60s. I don’t think it stands the test of time as well as some say, but it definitely gives good insight as to what was going on at the time. There’s no doubt that they were trailblazers, setting stones, paving ground, opening doors for everyone to come and that in itself deserves all the respect that it gets. But is that factor alone enough to call something the greatest? Chuck Berry redefined guitar playing in rock n’ roll (The Beatles and The Stones were both heavily influenced by him), but people rarely cite his work as the best. Heck, classical composers like Mozart and Beethoven really set a standard for music and melodies, but people more readily talk about modern musicians than the classical ones.

But who am I to judge, I’m only one person with one set of opinions. I can only add to the conversation, not sway it.

 

Song of Choice: Eleanor Rigby

-Bosco

 

 

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1001 Albums: My Generation

#59

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Artist: The Who

Album: My Generation

Year: 1966

Length: 36:13

Genre: Rock

“Well, people try to put us down.
Talkin’ bout my generation.
Just because we get around.
Talkin’ bout my generation.
The things they do look awful cold.
Talkin’ bout my generation.
I hope I die before I get old.
Talkin’ bout my generation.”

MOTHER’S DAY EDITION

Today is the day. The wonderful day where we celebrate the women in our lives who raised us and took care of us and shaped us into the whiny, ungrateful and unappreciative people we all are. Today we give thanks to those women who never get enough praise for putting up with all our crap and who never get the attention they deserve after having carried us around for nine months and then shooting our big, fat heads out of their vaginas. Take a moment to call your mom and tell her you love her. Do it quickly, we only have one day of the year to do it because why would any of us do it any of the other 364 days (265 on a leap year) in the year? Crazy talk.

Despite now living six hours away, i was still able to surprise my mom with a special delivery to the house. It was a weird Mother’s day since this was the first Mother’s day that I wasn’t home. Was weird for both of us, so I did the best I could and managed to make her feel special better than any other year. It took me moving away to finally do it it seems. Love you Mom, have a great day. Don’t let dad pester you too much.

On that note, what a perfect day to talk about what I like to call “The Sons of the British Invasion”. If the British Invasion was a mother than the bands within it were her children. It’s an odd comparison to make, but believe me it makes sense in my head and that’s all that matters, right? RIGHT?!

A few posts back I talked about how The Beatles and Rolling Stones were kind of like brothers under the umbrella of the British Invasion. If The Beatles were the cute, younger sibling and The Rolling Stones were the sexy, older brother than that would put The Who as the rebellious, teenage, middle child. If you really think about it, it’s exactly what they would have been. Not as popular as the other two, they had to be loud and crazy in order to get noticed by their ever-loving mother. While The Beatles were going on dates and The Stones were getting laid, The Who were out in the streets causing vandalism and trouble and being brought home by the cops to get a scolding from their mother. They truly were the unruly middle child.

I realise the way I described them sort of sounds like I’m saying they weren’t popular. That’s absolutely false. They were big, people loved The Who and they did receive the praise and attention they deserved. But in comparisons to the other bands coming out during The British Invasion it’s easy to see they may have gotten a little overshadowed in terms of being noticed. But that didn’t stop them. They rocked and they rocked hard. At this point in time nobody rocked as hard as The Who rocked. They were a band you had to see live because they put on such a spectacle. Every night they’d end by destroying their equipment. Keith Moon would pound away at his drum until it was beat dead and Pete Townshend would smash his guitar into the amps. There’s a famous live performance of My Generation on the Ed Sullivan show which ends with Keith Moon’s drums exploding into Pete’s ears, causing him some permanent hearing damage. If this isn’t the essence of what it is to be a crazy rocker, I don’t know what is. Keith Moon was so notorious for his hotel shenanigans he actually got banned from so many of them that I’m surprised it’s not in the Guinness Book of World Records (or maybe it is, I’m too lazy to check). This is a guy who made a taxi turn around and return to the Hotel because he forgot to throw a piece of furniture out of the window. This is a guy who puts a whole new definition on destroying a toilet. Keith Moon is one bad ass fucking drummer and will forever live in the hearts and souls of every punk out there.

That’s really he thing, at this point in their careers, The Who were an amazing live band and I feel the album itself doesn’t give them enough justice in how hard they actually rock. It almost feels sterilized or tamed down compared to some of the footage of them performing live. There are definitely some shining moments where Keith Moon bangs away at his drum with some hard drum fills and Pete clangs away at his guitar almost as if he’s trying to break the strings as he plays, but it sort of pales in comparison to how they were up on the stage. The band claims they felt rushed when creating this album and I guess I can sort of see it. That being said, rushed or not, they still managed to make one hell of a solid rock album that would go on to be heavily influential for garage, punk and hard rock bands of music’s future.

It doesn’t stop there. Amidst the music with sexual themes and fuck you’s to older generations, they have one song that’s more pop-oriented that shows off their musical abilities. The Kids Are Alright stands out as being almost apart from this album, yet still manages to blend itself nicely within. We see The Who taming themselves for one song and just playing the music in a calm and dignified way. It was their way of showing that they weren’t just a bunch of hoodlums but they had some class to when they wanted it.

The Who really set the standard for what it meant to rock out that many bands would not only try to catch up to their ways of performing but even try to emulate them. Pete Townshend’s unique guitar playing style will forever be emulated by every young musician who’s trying to show off how rock n’ roll they are. Even the idea of destroying their equipment had never been seen before (it was also highly advised against because of the cost of replacing all that equipment). The Who showed that they just didn’t give a shit about what you thought and did whatever the fuck they wanted and the result was nothing short of spectacular.

 

Song of Choice: A Legal Matter

-Bosco

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1001 Albums: Highway 61 Revisited

#58

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Artist: Bob Dylan

Album: Highway 61 Revisited

Year: 1965

Length: 51:26

Genre: Rock and Roll/Folk Rock

“How does it feel, how does it feel?
To have on your own, with no direction home
Like a complete unknown, like a rolling stone”

Driving down the highway.

Traffic stops to a crawl.

25 minute drive is now almost an hour long.

No sight of change in the conditions.

Google maps doesn’t have a quicker route.

It’s getting hot in the car.

Air conditioning blasting.

Was a looooong day, fatigue kicking in hard.

Want to get home and lie down now.

Only solace in this time of need: Bobby Dylan.

That’s right, as I was stuck in traffic after driving Sandra to the bus station, the only thing keeping me awake and sane was this album. Originally I just thought it’d be a great opportunity to continue listening to the albums on the list, for once I might actually get to sit through one in one sitting rather than multiple listens. So far, I’ve really liked Bob Dylan and have been pleasantly surprised with every album that has been thrown my way by him. Each one getting better and better. And when I thought “There’s no way he can top Bringin’ It All Back Home, along comes this one.

Is it safe to call Bob Dylan a musical genius at this point? I never use this term ever, and there was a point in my life where I avoided Bob Dylan because I thought I’d hate it so much. But I was wrong, very wrong indeed. He only seems to get better and better with time, which is an incredible feat considering he started with a high. How does he keep doing it?

One word: Evolution.

Bob Dylan doesn’t stay the same. He evolves drastically with every album, trying new things but still keeping his Bobby Dylan flair. This time he decided to take even more steps to distance himself from his folk sounding roots that made him famous and went with a full studio band to record this album. This, obviously, didn’t go well with his big fans. He was even famously booed at The Newport Folk Festival just for even daring to do something different and evolve his musical stylings. Fucking shocking, I know. I mean, how dare he try and become a better musician and do new and exciting things? He should just be stuck in one place and create the same album over and over again to please the crazy fans. I can’t imagine what would have happened to Bob Dylan if he kept producing folk albums with just him and an acoustic guitar, I feel it just wouldn’t have had the same impact. I’m sure it would have been great, but seeing how Bob Dylan was getting bored with himself, I doubt he would have gone any further if he was stuck in the same place.

Did you know that? He was actually getting fed up with himself. He was doing so many shows that he couldn’t stand listening to himself sing. He felt like he was in a sort of rut and was losing his passion for the music. Because of this he puked out a super long poem of sorts that just spewed all his feelings into words. Apparently this was enough to get him back to enjoying his music once again. He would reduce this vomit into a smaller form and it would become the first song on the album: Like a Rolling Stone. I knew I felt a sense of deeper sadness within the song that was hard to point out. At first I couldn’t tell if he was being sincere or mocking people who are feeling lost. But it seems sincere was the right mood (but I wouldn’t put it by him to make fun of himself while he’s at it).

 

It seems too that Dylan had a double meaning when he came up with the title for the album. It wasn’t just his own revisiting of the famous Highway that got him back in the mood to make music but was also his way of creating a throwback to the classic Blues musicians of older days. You see, Highway 61 actually passed by the birthplaces of many famous and influential musicians including Muddy Waters, Son House, Elvis Presley and Charley Patton. It was also, famously, where Bessie Smith died in a car crash and where Robert Johnson was believed to selling his soul to the devil at the crossroads of route 49 and Highway 61. To Dylan, this was more than just revisiting a place that he felt one with and that he described as being a part of him and running through his veins, this was an ode to those musicians and their music.

That’s what he does best on this album, he blends good old blues styling with his poetic nuances and lyrical cynicism of the modern day america. This is really what sets this album apart from his previous efforts. He’s continuously trying to distance himself form his folk roots, which has alienated his fan base increasingly. But what’s great about him is he doesn’t care. He’s in it for the love of the music and doesn’t cater to what the fans want but what he feels will make him happiest. That being said, he still retains his dark sense of humour and cynical look of America as he continues to speak as the voice of the troubled youth (even if at this point he’ll never admit that’s what he’s doing). The themes of fear and anxiety of society are even grander in this album and he even gets a little more personal with it. Songs like Like A Rolling Stone, which captured his feelings of being lost at that point in time musically, and Ballad of a Thin Man, which was his response to the media’s expectations of him and not understanding who he was and what he was doing musically. Whereas before he would capture a moment in America and ramble on about the issues at hand, here we see him mixing in personal conflict in a more direct way, which not only adds an extra layer to his lyrics but also creates a sense that he is being more vulnerable than before and opening up in a bigger way. This creates music that is still protesting but a much more pure and innocent type of protest compared to his more punk attitude of earlier works.

We also find Dylan at his most incomprehensible so far. Here is the voice I knew him to have. The typical Dylan drawl that doesn’t sing but just sort of speaks with weird intonations and with a slur that makes it hard to actually understand what he’s saying half the time. The biggest show of this Dylan characteristic was most definitely his final song on the album, Desolation Row. 11 minutes of pure Bob Dylan rambling, where he stripped away the rest of the band and went for his old school-sound of pure folk. Just him and his guitar, riffing away and rambling on and on, creating a portrait of 1960’s america. Upon first listen this sounds like the most incomprehensible and non-nonsensical song ever. It’s constant references to famous figures, political and pop culture, and strung together with non-linear storytelling and often times pure non-sequiters. In the hands of anyone else this would have been terrible, random for the sake of being random, but in Bob Dylan’s hands he creates a somewhat non-sequiter masterpiece that definitely requires multiple listenings before you can even grasp what he’s getting at with it. I’m sure if I took the time to sit and really look at the lyrics, I mean take a long, hard look at them, I can take something away from it.

That’s really what’s remarkable about this album. It’s not a one-time listening album. It’s one you have to listen to multiple times to truly enjoy and get the most out of it. That’s always the sign of a great piece of art, one that gets better the more you experience it. It’s fine if you didn’t get something the first time around, you might notice something new the next time and the next and the next and hey maybe even the 20th time! That’s always a fun experience, when there’s something you’ve experienced so many damn times and you’re still experiencing new things, it’s really a magical sort of feeling. We all like that feeling of discovery, and I’m sure the next time I listen to this album (If I ever do… probably… maybe) I’m sure I’ll experience that as well.

 

Song of Choice: Tombstone Blues

-Bosco

 

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1001 Albums: Mr. Tambourine Man

#57

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Artist: The Byrds

Album: Mr. Tambourine Man

Year: 1965

Length: 31:35

Genre: Folk Rock

 

“Words in my head keep repeating
Things that you said when I was with you
And I wonder is it true
Do you feel the same way too
It’s so hard bein’ here without you,
Bein’ here without you”

 

What better way to say “Welcome To Toronto” than getting into a nice collision on the street. Oh boy was that something I really needed. Especially since I was on my way to visit apartments, guess I wasn’t doing that anymore that day. I knew from all the troubles I was having, the difficulty settling in and dealing with being alone, I really needed to get into a collision on top of it all. That’s exactly the thing I was missing in my current life to set things right. The perfect moment for the perfect week.

On a more positive note, Sandra came up to visit me the same day the collision happened and stayed for a few days. So that easily got my mind off it all. You always hear people saying that long-distance relationships won’t work and it’s so difficult. To be honest, I don’t understand where these people are coming from who feel this way. It’s been way easier than I expected it to be. Sure, I miss the actual intimacy and having her physically there in front of me, but we talk regularly everyday, have Skype conversations and are always on the phone. It’s not like we’ve suddenly disappeared from each other’s lives. I guess for those who it didn’t work out it’s because the relationship just wasn’t meant to be to begin with.

“But won’t you be tempted by other girls and her by other boys and it’ll be difficult because they’re not there?”

No. Not at all. That’s stupid, there’s no other girls that would tempt me because there’s no other girls who are Sandra and also I’m not a cheater. I’ll never understand the concept of cheating on someone. If it’s gotten that bad that you need to cheat, dump them first, that simple. The long distance is definitely a new challenge, but totally an easy one. No worries there.

It took me about three times to get through this album with everything going on. I wanted to make sure I really listened to it from start to finish (and even then I couldn’t successfully do that in one sitting). I have to say, this was everything I expected and not what I expected all thrown into one album. The only exposure I have had to this album was Mr. Tambourine Man, which would play continuously in the house on one of my dad’s 60s compilation CDS. I knew this song very well and that’s part of what made me a little hesitant about this album. It’s not a bad song in any way, but it had been ingrained in my head and became part of my musical nightmares. If I had to suffer through an entire album of songs like that, I’d shoot myself.

Surprisingly, I was both right and wrong with this. Let me explain this contradiction. I was right in the sense that, the music overall really has it’s style and sound that fills up the whole album and never really deviates from it. But wrong in the sense that I actually enjoyed what they did with it following the Title song. It seemed my pain was more to the specific song itself rather than what they did with it. Of course, when you’ve heard something on repeat one too many times, it can really get to anyone.

Mr. Tambourine Man itself is interesting. Originally a Bob Dylan song, the vibe changes considerably when put into the hands of The Byrds. Whereas Bob’s version feels like a typical Dylan song, filled with remorse, sadness and the deeper psychological thoughts of a lost bohemian wanderer trying to understand life, The Byrd’s version comes across as some hippie fun love song. I can just imagine a bunch of shirtless hippies dancing in a circle with their tambourines and flower power get-ups, shaking their heads to the love of the music. Same song, but totally different vibes.

Speaking of which, they seem to have quite a few Bob Dylan covers on this album, almost to the point that it seems they might be relying a little too much on Dylan to give them material. In future albums they would prove this to not be true, but I can imagine someone picking this up when it first came out and being like “These guys are a little bit of a Dylan knock-off, eh?”

They would be half true. The true spirit of this album is almost the perfect blend of both Bob Dylan and The Beatles. Remember that famous meeting they had together? Well, imagine if that meeting produced an offspring. That offspring would be The Byrds. They seem to mash the lyrical and philosophical content of the Folk genre with the beats, harmonies and instrumental work of the rock genre The Beatles made famous. At times it’s really hard to tell if The Byrds are trying to do their own thing or just emulating the two other bands. A song like You Won’t Have To Cry sounds more like an homage to The Beatles than their own piece and the singer even goes as far as to try and imitate Bob Dylan’s voice on Spanish Harlem Incident and Chimes of Freedom.

But when they do blend the two styles together perfectly and become their own thing it really shines through. The harmonies at times come together really nicely and add almost a haunting feel to the songs their in. When they’re not trying to emulate the harmonies of The Beatles, they really create their own atmosphere that is kind of chilling in a fun way. At times, the album does feel a little repetitive as they never deviate from the sound  they created, often re-using the same formulas from previous songs and just continuing what worked on the precedents, but its’ never enough to really take you out of it.

This albums can also be marked as the beginning of the Folk Rock movement. Although other artists had dabbled in mixing rock elements into folk and folk elements into rock, it’s really The Byrds that mashed them together perfectly in a way that pleased both rock lovers and folk aficionados. The musical work on this album would go on to define the sound of Folk Rock and even heavily influence other artists into incorporating the sound into their work (notably Simon and Garfunkel, Sonny and Cher and even REM). The Byrds may not have known it at the time but in trying to blend two of the biggest musicians into one, they single-handedly created a whole new style.

And to think the producer wanted session musicians to play because he didn’t feel confident in the band’s musical expertise. Would have probably been a whole different album.

 

Song of Choice: I’ll Feel a Whole Lot Better

-Bosco

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1001 Albums: Bert Jansch

#56

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Artist: Bert Jansch

Album: Bert Jansch

Year: 1965

Length: 39:19

Genre: Folk

“When sadness fills your heart
And sorrow hides the longing to be free
When things go wrong each day
You fix your mind to ‘scape your misery
Your troubled young life
Had made you turn
To a needle of death”

This wasn’t a good album for me at the moment. Not because the album was bad, more just the timing of it. If you’ve ever heard the album you would know it’s a pretty depressing and sad album. Sadness seems to pour through every moment and it really is a bit of a downer, especially if you’re not in the best mood.

I know a lot of people like to listen to sad music when they’re feeling down in the dumps. I never understood that. It makes no sense to me. Why would you want to listen to depressing shit when you’re already feeling really shitty? Wouldn’t you want to listen to something that makes you feel better? That pumps you up? That lifts you and brings your mood to lighter pastures? Maybe that’s just me. I know when I’m really stressed or down I like to listen to upbeat, fast-paced music that really gets me going. Usually punk or new wave from the late 70’s and early 80’s is always a good choice. It allows me to let out aggression, I find myself dancing, I find myself getting super pumped and by the end of it I feel ten times better. Isn’t that what anyone would want to do?

“But I relate to this. It’s sad like how I’m feeling and expressing feelings I am currently feeling”

OK, fair point. I guess it’s nice to know that you’re not alone in feeling the way you do and there’s a type of reassurance to that. As if it’s letting yourself know the feelings you’re feeling are perfectly normal and you’l get yourself through it. You’re not alone. I get it, but it still makes no sense to me personally.

Let me explain (I guess). I’ve finally made my move to Toronto and for the most part I’ve settled in quite nicely and am getting into the groove of things. But, at the same time it’s been getting really difficult. I’ve felt a lot of pressure on my shoulders, I’ve been scared of money (having no job to give you income will do that) and I slowly feel my confidence dropping and my loneliness increasing as I’m pretty much alone, with no friends. It’s been tough and my anxiety has been tested with visiting apartments (something I’m both new at and not very good at). Yesterday in particular wasn’t a good day that brought me down pretty badly and I’ms till trying to pick myself up from it. I figured continuing this list would make me feel better, that feeling of productivity always made me feel good. Unfortunately it was this album that just made me feel kind of down.

There’s nothing wrong with sad music, especially when it’s sincere and genuine and comes from a real place. I actually think music that hits you on a deeper emotional level can be really powerful and is difficult to accomplish without sounding sappy, self-indulgent or melodramatic. But in context of things that have been going on, it’s not what I needed. Already I wasn’t doing my best and I was met with songs that sang about a friend’s death, loneliness and relationship hardships (to name a few). Really uplifting subject matter. it doesn’t help that Bert’s guitar playing sells the sadness vibe and matched with his on the verge of crying vocals, it really puts a downer on the afternoon, which is never ideal.

That all being said, how was the album despite all this?

Not bad. It’s a fairly decent album. It doesn’t offer more than it really needs to and gives you exactly what you’d expect from a début folk album. I don’t think Bert set out to impress or prove anything, he just wanted to play some music and share some stories and he does that very well. It’s almost like listening to that one guy at a party who picks up the guitar and sings in the corner with a group of people around him, admiring him. He’s talented enough for you to stop and look but you’ll probably forget about him the next day. He’ll always be that one guy who played guitar at the party you were at this one time, never left a big impression, but enough that you’ll look back in a “Oh yeah that guy!” kind of way. There’s nothing truly impressive about it, but it’s not bad either, it’s exactly what it needs to be and nothing more. Bert sings every song with enough sincerity in his voice that you believe what he’s saying and lyrically it’s poetic enough to leave you satisfied. It’s an all around solid folk album.

Now if you don’t mind, I’m going to put on something a little more upbeat. I have some steam I need to blow off.

Song of Choice: Angie

-Bosco

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1001 Albums: Rubber Soul

#55

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Artist: The Beatles

Album: Rubber Soul

Year: 1965

Length: 35:50

Genre: Rock Pop/ Folk Rock

“He’s a real nowhere man
Sitting in his nowhere land
Making all his nowhere plans for nobody
Doesn’t have a point of view
Knows not where he’s going to
Isn’t he a bit like you and me?”

Big things are happening. Not only in this list but in life. Again it seems that the list is paralleling what’s going on in a wave of yet another strange coincidence. This time it’s not as specific and they are similar in much vaguer ways than with some of the past coincidences. But to put it briefly, Rubber Soul was a big milestone in rock history and this week I’ve reached a big milestone in my life.

Let me start with me (because I’m selfish like that). Remember how I was talking about getting ready to move to Toronto? Well, it finally happened. I’ve made the move. As I sit to write this, I am sitting in the basement of my cousin’s house in the big city of Toronto. With my new room, new bed, new city and new life, I begin a new chapter in my life. This is big for me. Mainly because A) It’s the first time I’m living on my own (only having moved out of my parent’s house now) and B) It’s in a completely different city. Cutting the chord, snippety-snip, in one swift motion and throwing myself out there. Jumping head first without a parachute. Monday I start back to school, which I haven’t done in almost two years… so that will be an interesting experience. With this is the added burden of a insurmountable amount of anxiety and pressure thrown onto my shoulders as I try to find a new apartment (so I don’t annoy the shit out of my cousins) and finding a job so I can have a steady flow of income entering instead of always exiting. It’s overwhelming, but I realise everyone goes through this and if everyone has been able to do it… well, I can too (I guess… we will see).

Now to the main attraction: Rubber Soul. The Quartet themselves. The Mother Fucking Beatles.

I know what you’re all thinking, so please… don’t kill me. Let me speak first!

I actually… kinda liked this one… yeah, I did. I’m not joking, not at all. Ok, I wasn’t crazy about it, it didn’t really engage me as much as I would have hoped but I have to say… they’re getting better and better. This was definitely a huge step up from their last album. As a whole they’re maturing and maturing fast. Lyrically they’re delving into much more personal and adult ideas, swinging away from the puppy love goop that I personally hate and tackling relationships with a more mature gaze. These aren’t the strapping young lads we knew before. No, now they’re men. They’ve grown up and it really shows.

It doesn’t stop there, musically they’ve matured quite a bit as well, incorporating much more complex melodies and even including a Sitar in their music (I believe Norwegian Wood was one of (if not the) first western rock song to include the instrument and this album can be hailed as the one to introduce the instrument to western audiences and the rock n roll genre). The sitar is a pretty fucking sweet instrument. Every time I hear it it really puts you in a this weird groove that you can’t help but feel calm. It’s an oddly soothing instrument and if I ever get the chance I’d love to learn it. But alas… I probably won’t… This was also right after the famous meeting with Bob Dylan, where they convinced him to go Electric and he advised them to try harder with their lyrics and write something more meaningful. They must have listened because this is that album.

So here’s where things get interesting. It’s time for me to separate subjectivity and objectivity and look at the album for what it was in history. If I’m going on my impression alone I find it’s really just OK. A solid album all around that has some really strong points (Norwegian Wood, Nowhere Man) and some weaker, but still worthwhile moments (Michelle). They’re really trying hard here to create something that will be remembered and they succeeded very well. Of what I understood it was the first album where they got full creative control and you can tell they’re going all out to do the music they really want to create. They’re playing has improved by 200 percent and their three-way harmonies are actually quite beautiful when they hit at the right moment. Here is an album that showed the true talent that they were missing from their previous ones.

Historically, this album seemed to leave a huge dent in rock n roll. It seems every big artist cites this album as a milestone of sorts, a highly influential album they all look back too as being what pushed them to up their games. Brian Wilson says that this album was so damn good to his ears that it influenced him to try and top them (creating the famous feud between The Beach Boys and The Beatles as they constantly tried to one-up each other). Brian Wilson would go on to create Pet Sounds thanks to this album (Which I do think is a much better album, but wouldn’t have existed without this one being made).

A lot of critics also cite this album as being the beginning of albums as a cohesive entity. Before this instance we have encountered a lot of albums that took extra care for each song and even some early examples of concept albums (Heck album #1 on this list was the very first concept album to be conceived). But I can see where these criticisms are coming from. The Beatles were big and everyone was listening to them, compared to some of the other albums which were more well known within the musical world but not to the general population as a whole. Most albums usually put focus on creating singles that would sell the album while the rest would be filled with filler to fluff up the album and make it full. This is (once again debatable but I can see why) the first instance where every song on the album was treated as if it were going to be a hit single. They didn’t care about selling specific songs but selling the album as a whole. There may have been other albums before them that did the same thing, but they were the ones that succeeded in getting everyone to think differently about albums. They were the ones that managed to get other artists to rethink how they create their albums. Others did it before but they were the ones that left a mark and that’s what truly counts here.

I find this album is a nice transitional album when it comes to their discography. It marks the departure from their pop songs and entrance to their more artistic side. This draws the line right in the centre and is a good bridge between both. The album wasn’t my thing, but I finally get it. I finally understand the phenomenon that is known as Beatlemania.

I finally do.

The Mother Fucking Beatles.

Song of Choice: Norwegian Wood

-Bosco

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1001 Albums: Live at the Regal

#54

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Artist: B.B. King

Album: Live at the Regal

Year: 1965

Length: 34: 46

Genre: Blues / Live

 

” So fellas…I SAID FELLAS! Fellas if you got a woman and the lady don’t do like
You think she should,
Don’t you be goin’ upside of her head now. You know what I’m talkin’ about, don’t you be
Beatin’ on her. The judgement’s much cheaper if you don’t beat her. And you see if you hurt
Her you only do one thing…I said if you hurt her you only do one thing! You make her a little
Smarter and she won’t let you catch her the next time. So the thing to do is THROW YOUR
ARMS around the pretty little thing! Now listen to me, listen to me…I don’t care if she
Weigh thirty-two and a half pounds wet or five hundred and fifty pounds on her feet. If she’s
Your lady and you dig her, than she’s your pretty little thing…AND THEN YOU TELL
HER! You say “Baby! Baby I don’t care what they say about you on the next block, your
My little lady and I dig you. Let em talk, let ’em say what they want to say””

 

Last night I saw Book of Mormon for the first time. It was one of the greatest shows I have ever seen in my life. Everything from the production to the musical numbers to the performances to the humour to the social commentary was banging on all cylinders. I was mesmerised the whole way through, on the edge of my seat, taking in every moment (which rarely happens to me, especially at shows). It really takes a lot for me to be invested in something this much, but Book of Mormon succeeded at a level I won’t even begin to try understanding.

What was truly amazing about the whole experience was the humour never distracted from the performances. It knew when to let the audience laugh and when to draw them in. Despite the content, the characters still had very real emotional moments. When Nicaragua/Neosporin/Nala, etc. has her Salt Lake City dream song moment, it is very much her strong emotional moment that she has to take the stage, and the performer did it outstandingly. Didn’t matter how dumb it was that her dream was to go to the paradise of Salt Lake City, she evoked every feeling of wanting and passion into that song that sold it the way it should have. Even Elder Price’s I Believe song, filled with tons of deliciously dumb lines that will make you laugh at this character’s blind faith, evokes that power of someone who truly believes what they’re saying, which is the perfect blend of comedy and emotional response.

Also, don’t get me going about the two best songs in the show “Hasa Diga Eebowai” and “Spooky Mormon Hell Dream”. Both songs are done to perfection and go over the top enough to make you laugh and snort but still manage to be amazing pieces of orchestrated music. These songs alone were enough to get me to buy the CD. You know…

What?

What do you mean?

Oh… I’m not here to talk about Book of Mormon? Then…

oh… right… I’m here to talk about Live at the Regal

Oh.

Oh…

I’d rather talk about Book of Mormon though…

Ok… Ok… I understand… Fine…

So… Live at the Regal. B.B. King’s live album where he performed at, you guessed it, the Regal. Another live album that I couldn’t quite comprehend why I was sitting through it. I’m sure B.B. King had an extensive enough catalogue that they could have chosen any one of his albums. Maybe his other works were more single based while this one was more cohesive as a whole. I could agree with that. The album had really good flow to it, going from one song to another almost seamlessly. And it’s not because it’s a live album and that’s how live shows sound in general but because he had a really good set.

I find that’s something that some people always manage to forget talking about when it comes to live shows. A good show relies on a good set and it’s easy to just pick a ton of songs that you know the audience will love, but even harder to find a good order to your set. It’s not as much the songs you’re playing but which songs are you playing when. A good order to your set is vital to the audience’s enjoyment. You can’t just throw any old song out there to perform, there has to be a balance of varying paces and styles, there has to be a flow that works when moving form one song to another, it has to tell a story with a beginning, middle and end (but never actually have to be a story in itself, just the illusion of one). When this is done to perfection you get one hell of a concert.

I think that’s where B.B. King really shines here. He perfected his set. Knew which songs to play when and how to create a start to finish that works with his music. For the most part he’s a damn good guitar player, he sings with the emotional requirements for good blues vocals, lyrically it fits well into the genre and his backing band (which he thanks on two separate occasion for doing some damn fine work) supports him well. It’s nothing truly spectacular (although this is considered one of the greatest blues recordings ever… which I find hard to believe. I mean, it’s good, I thoroughly enjoyed it… but best? I’m sure there’s way better out there. But you know, B.B. King was one of the last greats of the old school Blues genre to leave an impact, so I guess that was factored in as a possible Farewell to an era).

Also, I’m not sure, but it seemed like this was two different sets put together as one album. I only say that because halfway through the song fades out and then he gets introduced again, as if he’s just starting, and goes on to do another set. I mean, that’s totally cool, I’m just curious if this was all on the same night and there was an intermission between both sets or was this two shows recorded to make one album? Not unheard of at all, but it says this was recorded on November 21, 1964. Only one date is given for it’s recording… so is the intermission a possibility? I’m guessing it is.

Who knows.

Song of Choice: It’s My Own Fault

-Bosco

P.s. I realise I chose an incredibly long quote this time around… whatever, fuck it.

 

 

 

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1001 Albums: A Love Supreme

#53

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Artist: John Coltrane

Album: A Love Supreme

Year: 1965

Length: 33:02

Genre: Modal Jazz / Free Jazz / Hard Bop

 

“A Love Supreme
A Love Supreme
A Love Supreme”

 

Now comes the fun part of the end of a vacation: Unpacking. I had left my suitcase fully packed for a few days and figured I’d get around to doing it eventually. Needed my parents telling me to do it about fifty times before I actually did it. Not my fault (well yes it is) but I had made a long list of things to do for the weekend before I make my move to Toronto, so I was occupied with getting things done on it (plus some cool down from the 25 hour drive back from Florida).

Enough was enough I guess, so I made my way to my room and figured, Hey, I can listen to the next album on the list as I do that. I figured it’s another instrumental jazz album, perfect music to do chores to. Just put it on in the background and work away.

It took me about 6 minutes to unpack, which means I barely got through one song (remember too, these jazz albums have long, free-form songs that sometimes feels like ages to get through, so it’s not very surprising when you think about it). My attempts to listen to another album weren’t successful, but it didn’t matter, I would listen to it… eventually.

Wasting no time, I was getting some writing done this morning and decided to have it play as I wrote. I love listening to music as I write. I find it pumps me up and gets me focused on the page, cranking out words and pages as the music blares in my ears. It may seem odd, but it works. Music is the key to me being productive. I play it to get work done, to do chores, to basically make sure I’m focused on what I need to do. Maybe it’s because it blocks out every thing else around me and prevents me from getting easily distracted, but who knows. It’s a good assumption.

So here we are. John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme had blurted it’s way through my writing session and I found myself at a loss for words. Not because the album itself is breath-takingly amazing that it left me speechless (although according to all the reviews of this album it would say otherwise) but because I found myself, once again, struggling to talk about a Jazz album. As I have said many times before, I am not proficient in the stylings of Jazz. For the most part I have no idea what I’m talking about and usually try my best to vocalise the feelings the music created within me. Because I don’t understand what makes a good jazz album a good jazz album, it’s hard for me to really delve into the depths of the musical proficiency of any jazz album, but damn do I try my best. It’s really come to the point that I really don’t know what to say without repeating myself from previous posts and I think there was the benefit that I had to sit through albums of varying genres before arriving on another Jazz album (which was practically every single album right at the beginning of the list). I can probably name ten people I know who could do a better job at talking about this album, but you know what? I’m a person who loves music and has opinions too, so I think I am more than capable at doing this.

Let’s Go!

If I was going to speak based on what everyone else has said about this album I would probably say that this is one of the greatest jazz albums of all time, if not the best. It is one of the most critically acclaimed jazz albums of all times and widely considered to be Mr. Coltrane’s masterpiece. Created as a four-part suite, Coltrane went in trying to master a more spiritual album than any he had made before. According to him, this wasn’t him playing the saxophone but his saxophone taking control of him (widely paraphrased). I honestly won’t disagree with that. He plays his saxophone with so much glee and child-like enthusiasm it’s hard not to think he just lost himself into the music and did whatever came to his mind. He’s clearly having a lot of fun in the studio and comes across as if he was possessed by some sort of jazz playing ghost. He blurps and spurts his way through fast-playing notes and quick arrangements, mixed in with some complex saxophone burping and you got a one hell of a musical experience. If someone told me this was the spirit of jazz, I would accept it.

It doesn’t end there. The rest of the band joins Coltrane in this spiritual connection and play their instruments with almost as much (and at times maybe even more) glee as Coltrane. The drummer, Elvin Jones, smacks away at his kit like an infant who just discovered pots and pans make noise, although here he makes it sound good (unlike your 2-year old who has no skills in keeping the beat whatsoever, no matter what you tell yourself). The bassist, Jimmy Garrison, for the most part keeps it simple, forming the base (ha base) of the music, but doesn’t hold back when it’s his time to shine. He’s given quite the nice solo in Pursuance and doesn’t waste his moment. It wasn’t anything crazy but sometimes a more melodic approach is more effective than how many notes you can hit in a short amount of time.

This is where I wish I knew more about the music behind Jazz because for the most part… it just sounds like a jumble of notes to me. I mean, it is a very effective jumble of notes, but it’s really difficult for me to analyse why this particular jumble of notes is better than any other. I will say this though, John Coltrane went into this feeling at his most spiritual and being heavily influenced and driven by his religious beliefs that it adds a layer to the music that may have not been there before. If I hadn’t read about it, I may not have noticed, but it did give me a whole new perspective on the album and explained a lot of things I didn’t quite grasp from my first hearing. He does come across as one with his music and really let’s it all out with every feeling he’s got creating something deeper than he even expected to make I think. There is that subtext there, which might be difficult for the average listener to hear (such as myself), especially due to the absence of lyrics (other than his “A Love Supreme” mantra he chants briefly in the first song), but it’s definitely there and goes to prove that sometimes the music is enough to provoke. A sort of show don’t tell situation that works on it’s own accord.

Not my favourite, but can see why this touched the hearts of many jazz lovers.

Song of Choice: Pursuance

-Bosco

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1001 Albums: The Beach Boys Today!

#52

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Artists: The Beach Boys

Album: The Beach Boys Today!

Year: 1965

Length: 28:54

Genre: Orchestrated Rock

 

“When I grow up to be a man
Will I dig the same things that turn me on as a kid?
Will I look back and say that I wish I hadn’t done what I did?
Will I joke around and still dig those sounds
When I grow up to be a man?”

 

I’m back! After a good ten or eleven days down in Orlando, Florida, skipping and dancing in Disney World, I have returned to my little home in Montreal. Left the heat and back to the cold. Was a well-needed vacation that was long overdue. I feel relaxed and decompressed and ready to take my first steps into the scary unknown of what life has ready for me… to a certain extent.

For the most part the trip itself was great. Disney was a blast as usual and Universal Studios was way better than I remembered it (plus it was the first time I got to experience the Harry Potter world, which has a big fan, was one hell of an experience). There were downsides to the trip. I got sick and had indigestion and acid reflux for most of the week, which just made me feel uncomfortable. Thankfully I had half the days where I felt fine, but the other half of the time I was bloated or puking, which wasn’t fun. But a mix of the intense heat, huge crowds and fatty-fried foods definitely didn’t help at all. Seriously, what’s up with the Americans and having everything fried… anything I ate I felt like I gained ten pounds, plus don’t get me started on their huge portions. Usually I can eat a meal to myself, but these portions were so big my dad and I had to share almost every supper.

This was roughly the fifth time I went to Disney in my life and I learned quite a few things from this trip:

  1. I can drive for six hours straight without stopping (We drove from Montreal to Orlando, which for those wondering was a 25 hour drive. My dad and I took shifts and drove straight through).
  2. Kids don’t experience the magic as they used to. Every line I was in, most of the kids were glued to Ipads, playing games, instead of taking in the wonder of Disney and all the attention to detail in the decors. Was really sad.
  3. The Fast Pass system sucks major dick. It’s the worst. Every line-up was about three hours long because there were so many people using fast-passes. It made no sense. The system is fucking flawed and they need to fix it. Universal was just as crowded and the longest we waited for a ride was 60 minutes. The way it worked was, they’d let almost the entire fast-pass line in and then about 10 people in the regular line… no wonder the regular line was three hours long. Fast Pass should be a privilege not the norm and it really ruined the whole experience. Fuck the Fast pass.
  4. Some people really suck. From cutting in line to meet their family members at the front, to not having any control or discipline on their children who either are a) not paying attention to what’s around them (one kid sneezed all over my arm and as completely oblivious to it and didn’t apologize or anything and another kept climbing on top of the railings despite the workers constantly repeating not to climb on top of them. You think the parents care? of course not). Some just have no decency or respect. We did a ride that was incredibly intense. They warn you about fifty times before entering that you should keep your focus ahead of you otherwise you will get disoriented and the intense g-force can make you sick. DO people listen? Of course not. One person riding with us broke all the rules and got super sick on the ride. That’s fine, people get sick. What does he do? When the ride is done he just plants himself right in the exit, puking into a little bag. I understand your sick but you could have easily moved tot he side instead of blocking the exit, inconveniencing everyone with your sickness. It’s not like there wasn’t any room to move out of the way. There was all the room in the world.
  5. My dad and I love the Dinosaur ride a little too much. We did it about five times, three of those were straight in a row. We loved it so much we got really into it and over played our reactions, which made for one of my favourite ride photos I’ve ever done:

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Take a wild guess which ones we are.

I know it sounds like I have a lot of negative things to say about this trip, but believe me it was way more relaxing and fun than I’m making it seem. It’s just easier to talk about the bad.

I could go on about this trip for a long time, but I’m not here to talk about that. I’m here to talk about music and albums. Something I missed during my trip. Last time I wrote I mentioned the decision I was going to make concerning my blog during the trip. I decided not to work on it and just focus on my vacation. As we drove back down, I was looking forward to getting back to listening to the 1001 album list, especially since The Beach Boys was next on the list.

I love The Beach Boys. I really enjoy their music. I Get Around is my jam, to the point that I actually green screened myself into their music video. Don’t believe me, check it out for yourself:

 

I couldn’t wait.

Would you believe my disappointment when I heard this album, though? Yeah, I was disappointed. This wasn’t The Beach Boys I loved or enjoyed. Of all the Beach Boy albums to choose… this is the one that shows up on the list? They had such huge hits when they were a surf rock band, any of those albums would have been great. Actually, I find there’s a huge lack of Surf Rock on this list in general. What gives? Why no love for Surf Rock?

So yeah, I didn’t like this album. I found it relatively boring as far as The Beach Boys go and I could easily skip it for the most part. Side A was rather enjoyable and I found had the strongest material off the album, but side B… I just found myself tuning out. It didn’t help that the music itself started to blend together and I sometimes thought I was listening to the same song again.

But before I get sent to the guillotine for not liking this album I will talk about what is good about it. For this I’ll need to conduct a little history lesson. So, pull up your chairs kiddos, it’s time for Beach Boys Music History!!

YAYYYYYY!!!

This album marked a stylistic shift for The Beach Boys. They decided it was time to move on from their Beach Party Music and start maturing as artists both musically and lyrically. They went away from their usual songs about cars, girls and surfing and went into deeper topics of heart-break, relationships, adult-life and growing up. No longer were they the teenagers of the waves, now they were young adults and growing up fast. A lot of this was supported by Brian Wilson’s decision to retire from touring and focus purely on song writing and producing.

Brian Wilson was famously known for his breakdowns and his mental instability. This was probably the first instance of one of his famous nervous breakdowns. Having lost his mind from travelling way too much and being over stressed with touring, he had a massive panic attack and decided it would be best to focus purely on the music. It shows here because he definitely got more complex with his arrangements, incorporating way more instruments and using The Wall Of Sound technique that inspired him so much (remember when I talked about this in my post on Phil Spector’s Christmas album? No? Well, check it out for yourself: https://boscosmodernlife.wordpress.com/2017/03/07/1001-albums-a-christmas-gift-for-you/).

This also marks a more mature Beach Boys, who come across as much older than their previous albums talking about various topics like protecting their younger sisters (Don’t Hurt My Little Sister), contemplating their own ageing (When I Grow Up To Be A Man) and dealing with heart-break and relationships (Please Let Me Wonder, Kiss Me Baby, She Knows Me Too Well). They still manage to keep a flavour of their old style with song like Do You Wanna Dance and Dance, Dance, Dance but for the most part what really separates this album for their previous efforts is that this one comes across as more honest and sincere. Brian Wilson took most of the writing efforts and he really lets himself go, opening up his mind and spilling out what’s going on in his head, leaving himself in a slightly vulnerable state to the listener. It was a side of The Beach Boys nobody had seen before and people enjoyed being able to see this side of them. It really adds a layer to the songs that they didn’t quite have in their previous efforts and allows for a more engaging and meaningful experience as you listen and relate to The Beach Boys rather than bop to their music.

The album also ends in a rather peculiar way, not with a song but with a candid, informal interview. You get to hear them talk about the food they just ordered and laugh and chat about a show they just played. I was so confused I had to double check to make sure this was actually part of the album and not just some bonus track in a deluxe edition. To my surprise this interview is actually part of the album, which is rather odd as it really takes you out of it, not sounding or feeling like the rest of the album in any way… yet I somehow found it ended the album rather nicely, which just adds to it’s peculiarity.

That being said, I still didn’t enjoy it, but at least I can recognize the albums strengths. This was a mark in Beach Boys history and is a good look to what’s to come (Do I hear the sound of pets?).

Also, to answer your question… yes, I do want to dance. Thank you.

Song of Choice: When I Grow Up (To be a Man)

-Bosco

 

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1001 Albums: Otis Blue

#51

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Artist: Otis Redding

Album: Otis Blue/Otis Sings Soul

Year: 1965

Length: 32:22

Genre: Soul / RnB

 

“Do me wrong, honey, if you wanna to
You can do me wrong honey, while I’m gone
But all I’m asking
Is for a little respect when I come home, ooh, yeah now”

 

Exciting news. Today I’m leaving on vacation down to Florida for a good 10/11 days. It’s a much needed vacation I feel. I’ll finally get a week to just not think about anything and just enjoy myself. The de-stressing will do me good before I make my first steps into moving to a new city. I’ll be clear-minded and ready to go fresh and relaxed.

My dad and I have made the executive decision that we’ll drive straight through. For those who don’t know, Montreal to Florida is about a 23 hour drive. No stops, except to eat and pee, we’re determined to get there and get there ASAP. No time to waste. Don’t worry, we’ll be sharing the driving duties, wouldn’t be fair for one person to take it all, especially since we’ll be driving over night.

I’m debating whether I should just keep the albums playing as I drive down, It would be a perfect ooportunity to just listen to a whole bunch in a row and get through them quickly. The only problem is I won’t be able to take the time to write about them as I drive down, leaving me backed up with a ton of posts to crank out and no way of doing it. It’ll be hard to gather my thoughts for every single album if I’ve listened to a good chunk of them in a row, but at the same time, I really just want to listen to them. Who knows, we’ll see when I get there.

So, before leaving I decided to give a listen to the next album on the list: Otis Blue (Or how I learned to stop worrying and had Otis Redding sing some soul to me). I knew of Otis before, so had an idea of what I might possibly be getting into. I wasn’t the most excited and was preparing myself for something that might have been a little underwhelming or forgettable (Solomon Burke comes to mind). I was never crazy about Otis Redding, so this was just going to be one of those albums that I get through and it’s done. Nothing to really think about, which made me nervous because that meant it’d be really difficult writing a post about.

I am so happy that I was so wrong. I did not expect what I got out of this album at all. I loved it way more than I thought I would. I loved it so much I played it a second time so my dad could listen to it with me. That’s how much I loved it.

This album is a powerhouse of an album. The backing band is filled with so much talent. I mean look at this: Booker T. and the MG’s, Issac Hayes, The Mar-keys and The Memphis Horns. They weren’t fooling around when it came to recording this. Otis Redding knew what he was doing and he was ready to put his all into this one. He was creating a record that would stand the test of time and he wanted to make sure that he delivered a soulful and ear-melting record.

He succeeded beautifully. The album is so cohesive and strong that you can’t even tell where the Originals begin and where the covers end. They’re blended together so well that it flows from one song to the other without you questioning the change and pace. He sings with so much soul on every song that the pop songs he covered (Particularly My Girl and Wonderful World) are stripped of their original pretence and changed and moulded into something that comes across as way more genuine and real. When The Temptations sang their way through My Girl, it felt cheesy and poppy, but when Otis does it it drops it down to a more realistic vibe that you believe Mr. Otis when he talks about his girl. It’s not just some idealised look at it, it’s truthful and honest.

Speaking of how strong his covers are, it actually becomes incredibly difficult to tell if he even is singing a cover or it’s an original piece of his. Every song that passed by I recognized and knew (especially since a lot of their original counterparts were sued in a lot of movies that take place in the 60s) and found myself questioning if this was the original or not. I did a little research and was surprised to find that Otis Redding is the original writer of the song Respect, which was made famous by Aretha Franklin who took it as her own and turned it into a Woman’s Anthem. I had absolutley no idea he did it first and he did it damn well (although I’ll be honest Aretha’s packs more of a punch than his. It sounds way more powerful when the woman is asking the man for respect rather than the other way around).

The one that threw me off the most was Satisfaction. When it came on and the iconic riff started to blast through my speakers, I had to do a double-take. Wait a minute… Satisfaction? But… didn’t the Rolling Stones do Satisfaction originally? Wait… was it a cover? Is this an Otis Redding Original? Are they both covers? This can’t be right. What threw me off was the time frame of it all. This album came out in 1965… I wasn’t sure when the Rolling Stones came out with it. A little research showed me that although the Rolling Stones are the original writers of the song, both versions came out so close together that people were actually accusing The Rolling Stones of taking it from Otis Redding, when the truth is the opposite. I can see why though. This cover is definitely way better than the original. I was never a fan of the original. It’s definitely the most iconic version of it, but I always found Mick Jagger’s singing to be way to cool for the subject matter he’s singing. It never felt honest. I mean, think about it… The Rolling Stones singing about not getting satisfaction? Really… you guys didn’t get any Satisfaction? You couldn’t get girls? You were paranoid about the media even though you were dominating it and setting the trends? Yeah… right. When Otis sings it he adds a whole new layer to it. I can believe he is dissatisfied with what’s going on around him and he sings with much more of a punch that adds that needed texture to the song. This was my second favourite version of Satisfaction I have heard to date (Devo’s being number 1) and I have to say Otis has tremendous talent if he makes you doubt The Rolling Stones.

All in all, I have to say this was a happy surprise for me. There wasn’t one song that fell flat for me and you can tell the time and energy was put into every single one to make sure they delivered the whole way through, instead of relying on filler to fit around they’re few singles. Any one of these could have easily been sold as a single and would have done just as well as the rest. The more I get through this list, the more I find myself loving Soul. Something about the genre just feels so great. Every singer really sings from deep within to belt out honest performances and Otis is no exception here. He really brings every song to life and adds new layers to otherwise lackluster songs, bringing them up to high standards.

Well, it’s time for me to start getting ready to head out. I still haven’t made up my mind about what I’m going to do yet in terms of the albums but I guess I’ll just play it by ear (Get it? music… listening… ears…? huh?)

Song of Choice: Satisfaction

-Bosco

 

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1001 Albums: Bringing It All Back Home

#50

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Artist: Bob Dylan

Album: Bringing It All Back Home

Year: 1965

Length: 47:14

Genre: Folk Rock

 

“Oh, get born, keep warm
Short pants, romance
Learn to dance, get dressed, get blessed
Try to be a success
Please her, please him, buy gifts
Don’t steal, don’t lift
Twenty years of schoolin’
And they put you on the day shift
Look out kid
They keep it all hid”

 

Big changes are happening in my life. I’ve recently made some big decisions that will change everything as I know it. It was a long time coming, but it’s something I knew I had to do and am happy I decided to do. You see, for awhile I feel I’ve been stuck in some sort of rut. Things just haven’t been going well in general and I feel it’s for a variety of reasons. I just felt stuck. Stuck where I am, stuck in progress and stuck in motion. I feel difficulty moving forward where I’m at these days and it gets tougher and tougher as I feel I’m digging myself into a deeper hole I can’t get out of. I’ve been in Montreal all my life and have lived with my parents this whole time, so I kind of got stuck in this routine and never really noticed that transition from child to adult. And now that I’m really starting to feel it I realise how stuck I really am and the only way to move forward is by making big changes in my life. So here it is: I’ve left my job and am moving to Toronto.

Big change I know. I’m not just moving out, I’m moving to a completely different city. Quitting of the job was more a result of that choice and not the other way around, but was something I still felt I had to do. It was time to stop being unhappy and start pursing the things I really wanted out of life. No more time wasting, It’s time for me to go and grab life by the balls and tug as hard as possible (that’s how the expression works right?). I love Montreal, I love it with all my heart and it will always be my home, but things have become to toxic for me here. It’s time to move on with a fresh start, a clean state, a new me (but still keeping the good stuff of the old me) with a new attitude. That’s what I have to do.

Friday was officially my last day of work and I decided to end it in style. I arrived for my last day in full Liederhosen garb. If you don’t believe me, here’s a picture to prove it:

bosco liederhosen

Let’s just say nobody expected to see what they saw and it was a great icebreaker for employees I never had the chance to talk to (a little too late, but whatever). It was a hit and brought smiles to people’s faces, which is really all I could have hoped for. There’s a story behind my decision to wear this specific outfit, but that’s for another time. My day ended with lots of beer and tears but I know I’m making a step forward to my personal future and I feel I’ve made the right decision.

It was incredibly fitting that the next album I would listen to was Bobby Dylan’s Bringing It All Back Home. It’s funny how I have encountered quite a few albums that were incredibly fitting to what I was going through at the time of listening to it. But isn’t that was life is all about? Happy coincidences that we can’t explain? I’d like to think so, definitely makes things way more interesting.

How was this album fitting exactly? Well, just like I am currently going through major changes in my life, this was the album where Bob Dylan made some big musical changes in his career. This was around the time when he famously went electric, which was his way of distancing himself from his protest songs and folk acoustic roots, but also alienated him from his hardcore fans who saw this as Dylan selling out. Understandably so, it seems a major part of this decision came from when he famously met with The Beatles for the first time. They had a chat, smoked some weed and apparently influenced each other in many ways. The Beatles would go on to explore more surreal lyrics and introspection while Dylan would start incorporating rock n roll sensibilities into his music, hiring an electric band to back him on this album. The fans were justifiably angry. Rock was against the ideals they had and saw in Dylan and they felt betrayed.

But fuck them, Dylan was doing his own thing and he did it pretty damn well. What we have on this album is a way more polished Dylan, musically, and we see him taking those steps to distance himself from the folk music that started it all for him. Lyrically he is straying away from his straight-forward narratives and delves into more poetic verses, incorporating metaphors and symbolic imagery weaved seamlessly with his storytelling. He still manages to keep a lot of the stylings that made him famous from Freewheelin’, especially on the acoustic side of the album on songs such as, Mr. Tambourine Man and It’s Alright Ma (Im Only Bleeding), but it’s really the electric side that dominates the album as not only the strongest material on the album but also marks the moment that Dylan made it clear that he was making a change.

Songs like Maggie’s Farm and Outlaw Blues outline this change with clear lyrics signalling that he’s putting down the protest signs and moving more to a bohemian lifestyle. Bohemian themes really seems to dominate this album, from She Belongs to Me to On the Road Again, it’s clear he has some sort of fascination with it. Listening to it it’s hard to tell if he’s praising the lifestyle or openly mocking it. Knowing Dylan, he’s probably combined the two to create songs that exude introspective self-mocking. I don’t know if that’s the case but it’s definitely the vibe he gives off. He manages to capture that bitter-sweet feeling that he mastered in Freewheelin’ again here and it’s clear that Dylan is definitely the master of combining sadness and happiness to create a single cohesive feeling.

This is shown damn perfectly in the opening song (and the famous one too) Subterranean Homesick Blues. Keeping in tune of what he’s best at, it’s another rambling diatribe about the system and how society is affected by it. He may have made attempts to distance himself from the protesting lifestyle, but I think he will always be a punk at heart whether he likes it or not. The real difference here compared to his past efforts is that he sounds more apathetic. Whereas he expressed fear and anger and voiced what was going through everyone’s minds during times of cold war, here he sounds way more cynical about it all and says it how it is rather than tries to create a viewpoint. He’s not trying to express his feelings but rather just speaking the harsh reality of it all in an almost matter-of-fact way, which, if anything, is what makes the song and this album so damn good. The apathy only strengthens what he is trying to say and doesn’t alienate the listener in any way (Unless you were one of his hardcore fans who felt betrayed that he would dare not be protester, rabble rabble rabble). But to the average listener who is not a total nutcase, he comes across as more personable in a strange way and I personally found myself connecting with him way more here (But maybe it’s because I’m more of a cynic, I’m definitely not a protester).

I do have to talk about one song that stood out for me (there always seems to be one with Dylan): Bob Dylan’s 115th Dream. This song was everything I could hope for with Bobby Dylan and it’s what I had originally understood him to be when I first heard of him. The song starts with a false start. Dylan begins his acoustic play but immediately stops, laughs and breaking the fourth wall, decides to restart again, but this time with the electric band backing him up. It was so absurd and yet so beautiful. Here it was, his official fuck you to his old ways. No words needed, he just had to stop the song and replace the acoustic guitar with an electric one. Simple, yet effective. What follows is an almost non-sensical, surreal, non-linear, completely broken rambling retelling of the discovery of America. It’s almost as if it’s being told through the lens of a dream, with bizarre occurrences and events stringing us along as he mumbles his way through in the way only Dylan himself can mumble through a song. This was the Dylan voice I had heard of in many parodies and homages to the man. This was it, right here. I found it and now understood everything.

It was amazing… Please, never change.

Song of Choice: Bob Dylan’s 115th Dream

-Bosco

 

 

 

 

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1001 Albums: Here Are The Sonics!!!

#49

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Artist: The Sonics

Album: Here are The Sonics!!!

Year: 1965

Length: 28:48

Genre: Garage Rock

 

“Say there’s a girl
Who’s new in town
Well, you better watch out now
Or she’ll put you down
’cause she’s an evil chick
Say she’s the witch”

I’ll be honest, I found myself excited to listen to this album. No particular reason why. Did I know the band beforehand? Nope, not at all. Never heard of The Sonics until now. So what was it that got me so excited? I believe it was the album cover… it’s not a crazy album cover in any way but something about it told me I was going to experience something a little different than what I’ve been listening to up this point. Something a little harder maybe, a little rawer, a little more rock than pop.

I’m happy to say I was right because what I was met with was something dirty and nasty sounding. The Sonics seem to be an early incarnation of what would come to be known as Garage Rock and they show all the elements of it. The recording sounds awful, sounds almost like they actually did record it in their garage and submitted it as is. It sounds more like a compilation of basement tapes than an actual album.

“Should we maybe polish it up, make it sound halfway decent?”

“but… why?”

And why indeed. The nasty sound recording is what gives the album it’s edge and charm. So far we’ve only heard live albums that have had this level of recording and even then they were way better than what we had to listen here. Sometimes when all the band members start playing their instruments all at once, it explodes into the mic like a giant cacophony of noise. It’s beautiful on every level.

There’s not too much that can be said about this album. it does what it needs to do. Musically it’s dirty and raw and lyrically it talks about the teenage lifestyle of girls, cars and chilling out, which would become a staple of the garage rock genre (mixing it together with some good old teen angst). The singer growls and screams into the microphone aggressively, taking out his frustrations, especially in the three original songs found on the album (The Witch, Psycho, Strychnine). The covers for the most part are fairly decent and they’re dusty sounding playing really gives each pop song they covered a new texture to it unheard before. But it’s really in their original songs where the band shines the most. Also, to their credit, the songs never reach the 3-minute mark, yet all feel longer than 3 minutes, which was interesting. This is one of the shortest albums I had to listen to so far and yet still managed to last my entire bus ride home… I can’t explain that phenomenon. This isn’t a bad thing at all as I really enjoyed every song, I was just surprised to see that the songs were much shorter than they actually felt.

Listening to them you get a good sense of where this album is placed historically in music. If you’re looking far enough back, this would be a good place to look as the start of Punk Rock music. It shows all the early characteristics of what would become Punk Rock in the 1970’s. The D.I.Y. attitude of the band members, playing and recording themselves in their own way, the aggressiveness of the playing and singing, the the themes of teenage frustration, the dirty sounding guitars that clang away shamelessly and that “I don’t give a shit” attitude that is exuded throughout. They don’t care how they sound, they just playing the music the way they want to.

The Sonics were one of the first Garage bands to step foot onto the scene and thanks to them they opened the door for future garage bands to come and take their place as well. You think Nirvana would have been able to do what they did if not for The Sonics starting the journey? I don’t think so. Heck, Kurt Cobain has even cited The Sonics as being a big influence on him, which shows and makes sense. The Sonics weren’t the greatest, but they were the first (presumably) and it’s a real shame there isn’t more people talking about them. Really, I mean it. When it comes to Garage Rock, Punk and Grunge, (and any other genre similar to these) I have not once heard anything about this band. I even took a roots of rock n roll class that covered garage rock and didn’t even mention The Sonics. I don’t get it. This album is even cited as being incredibly influential on these genres… so why aren’t they being talked about more??

More people should be talking about them. I don’t think to the point of analyzing their work and writing lengthy essays, but they should be acknowledged and pointed to anytime history of garage and punk rock is mentioned.

And that’s all I have to say about that.

Thank you.

Song of Choice: Strychnine

-Bosco

 

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1001 Albums: Live at the Star Club, Hamburg

#48

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Artist: Jerry Lee Lewis

Album: Live at the Star Club, Hamburg

Year: 1964

Length: 37:03

Genre: Rock n Roll / Live

 

 

“You shake my nerves and you rattle my brain
Too much love drives a man insane
You broke my will, but what a thrill
Goodness, gracious, great balls of fire”

I had no idea what I was in for. No clue at all. I mean, I was given some slight warnings about this album way in advance. Graham had told me he wanted to guest write on this album’s post (He unfortunately wasn’t able to) long, long time ago. This should have given me a hint to what was to possibly come. As it grew closer and closer, it started to get hyped. I kept mentioning to Graham that it was coming near, around the corner, my next stop. He was telling me to be prepared, get myself ready, brace myself for what was to come.

Really? What was this album that I needed to hold myself down for? I did a little research before listening to it to get a good sense of what I was going into.

Here’s some select reviews:

Live At The Star Club, Hamburg is not an album, it’s a crime scene: Jerry Lee Lewis slaughters his rivals in a thirteen-song set that feels like one long convulsion. Recorded April 5th, 1964, this is the earliest and most feral of Lewis’ concert releases from his wilderness years …”

-Milo Milos, Rolling Stones

“Words cannot describe – cannot contain – the performance captured on Live at the Star Club, Hamburg, an album that contains the very essence of rock & roll…Live at the Star Club is extraordinary– the purest, hardest rock & roll ever committed to record…He sounds possessed, hitting the keys so hard it sounds like they’ll break, and rocking harder than anybody had before or since. Compared to this, thrash metal sounds tame, the Stooges sound constrained, hardcore punk seems neutered, and the Sex Pistols sound like wimps. Rock & roll is about the fire in the performance, and nothing sounds as fiery as this; nothing hits as hard or sounds as loud, either. It is no stretch to call this the greatest live album ever, nor is it a stretch to call it the greatest rock & roll album ever recorded. Even so, words can’t describe the music here — it truly has to be heard to be believed.”

-AllMusic

“[The piano] sounds like its breaking at times, like he is playing more with a tack hammer than flesh and blood” … “one of the grittiest, most spectacular pieces of recorded music ever made.”

-Rick Bragg, Jerry Lee Lewis: His Own Story

… what is this album…

These are quite the glowing reviews of Mr. Jerry Lee Lewis’ Live album and they don’t end there, with the average viewer basically saying the same thing in Youtube comments, All music user reviews, discogs reviews and anywhere I look. There isn’t one negative thing said about the power and energy of this album. I was about to have the musical experience of my life and I heard the warnings and braced myself for what was to come.

This album kicked my ass. It beat me to the ground and kept wailign away at me until I was mush. And once that happened, it kept going, mashing away at me. These reviews and warnings weren’t enough to prepare me for the powerhouse of a performance that was on this album. Jerry Lee Lewis is everything rock should be, it’s everything a punk perofromace should be, it’s everything anything even worth breathing the air of these genres should ever aspire or hope to be. Bands like Green Day wish they could rock hard like Jerry Lee lewis does. There’s no words or feelings that can properly describe what was going on, but I’ll do my damned best to express it.

He’s angry. He’s Raw. He’s vicious. He’s got a rage fuelling inside him and his only cure is pounding away at his piano. He beats the crap out of that piano. He thrashes and smashes those keys like no man’s business. He abuses the strings and produces deliciously loud and beautiful notes that scream forth from the piano’s voice box. There’s nothing quite like his piano-playing and I dare to find someone who manages to put pure force and energy into their piano-playing like Jerry Lee Lewis does. But it doesn’t end there, his performance exudes rock n roll. People weren’t lying when they said he’s portraying the essence of rock n’ roll in this album because he really is. His performance is unapolegetic by nature that is only supported by the terrible sound recording he was given. Honestly, it’s pretty bad, but the piano comes out right on top as the sonically best sounding instrument on the album and that’s really where he shines the most. Any other time I would have seen this as a negative but here it’s a big plus, it just adds to the nitty-gritty, dirty, raw power of what is Rock n’ Roll.

This doesn’t end there. This is one of the most fascinating albums I’ve ever discovered historically. There was so much shit going on n Jerry’s life around this time that the anger in his performance sounds perfectly justified. The context of it all is one hell of a story.

Jerry was at the lowest point of his career. He wasn’t producing any hits anymore, no one was interested in hearing a fading rock n roll artist anymore. Rock was also changing. With the British Invasion making it’s way all over, rock music just wasn’t the same as it used to be and Jerry wasn’t happy he wasn’t getting the full recognition he deserved as one of the greats of Rock N’Roll. Add to this that he just married his 13 year old cousin and was under a lot of controversy because of it, he wasn’t the most liked person at the time. He was also notorious for being a drunk and usually was found to be quite inebriated during his performances (which if you listen closely you might be able to hear it here too).

Whatever it was, something drove him to give the performance of a lifetime and I think it’s a mix of all these factors boiling inside him all at once and exploding in a frenzy of piano-playing, pure rock n’ roll madness. Added to this I’d like to think this particular performance was a big fuck you to the British Invasion from him. The Star Club had become a famous venue for bands to perform at, especially bands within the British Invasion (like The Beatles) that got it on the map and got asses in the seats. The British Invasion had strolled in and was taking the claim as being what Rock music was all about. Jerry was having none of that. Performing at The Star Club must have been the extra driving force he needed to really pump it all out as if saying “You want rock n’ roll? This is what Rock n’ Roll actually sounds like. Buckle up Mother Fuckers”.

Why he decided to record this particular performance of his tour may never be known, but thankfully it was because it has placed itself in history as the single, greatest rock n’ roll performance of all time. To have seen it must have been an incredibly surreal moment, but at least we can all get the chance to revisit whenever we want.

I would have never expected this, knowing the little I did about him, but I am more than happy I did. If you want the full experience, you can easily find the album on Youtube, Spotify has a condensed 8 song version of it for some reason instead (apparently Europeans are still the only ones who have the rights to the album… who knows).

Check it out, It’ll knock your socks off. It’s the auditory equivalent of  a mosh pit. It’ll bruise you up then kick you in the teeth and it’s completely unapologetic and unforgiving.

Song of Choice: Great Balls of Fire

-Bosco

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1001 Albums: I’ve Got a Tiger by the Tail

#47

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Artist: Buck Owens

Album: I’ve Got a Tiger by the Tail

Year: 1965

Length: 31:59

Genre: Country

 

 

“Trouble and me we’re old buddies you see
I’ve stuck by him and he’s a stickin’ by me
Well goodbye honey be thankful you’re free
And that you’re not stuck with ol’ trouble and me”

YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAWWWWWWW MOTHER FUCKERS!

Strap on your cowboy boots it’s time for some goooood ooooole Buck Owens. So get your ten gallon hat ready and saddle up them horsies, it’s time to show the floor what you’ve got.

So grab a partner and swing them ’round and dosey-do, it’s time for a good old-fashioned hoe down.

Here we go!

YEEEEEEEEEE

(Fiddles start fiddling, guitar starts twanging, everyone goes insane)

It’s mighty fine
It’s Buck Owens time
A country album from 1964 (It’s FIVE!)
Couldn’t believe my eyes
To my surprise
Was ready to throw my iPod out the door

(Fiddles fiddle away faster)

Yeehaw!

Country and me
Are quite the enemy
Always react negatively
To the squawking and crooning
of these hillbillies

It’s always formulaic
Making me go barbaric
Anger filling up my very mind
The guitar work repeats
And the lyrics aren’t real deep
It’s cheesy and corny and is a waste of my time

I cringed in fear
Anticipated, my dear
For another thirty minutes of ear bleeding noise
Put on my phones
Let out some groans
Then pressed play, prepared to brace myself, boys

(Music slows down with a more sustained feel to it)

Now, let’s slow it down a little boys.

Let me tell you a story of little Bucky here
The rootinest tootinest country music buccaneer
He came without fail
Caught that tiger by the tail (Whip Noise)
Had me feeling different than I had before

The country was the same
But the music wasn’t lame
Had my toes tapping right on the damned floor
His southern drawl was really smooth
His charisma shined almost right through
And even got me sold when his voice went deep
This hoe downing album won’t let me sleep

I couldn’t quite explain what was going on
The formula was there and lyrics didn’t go far
But I guess I’m a sucker for some good ole steel guitar

I didn’t want it to stop
So it kept on playing on

I guess it didn’t do me no harm
I kind of fell for Bucky’s charm
And When the album was finally done
I came to realize country music could be fun

YEEEEEEEEEEEEE

(Line dancers go crazy, shoot some guns at the ceiling. Band breaks instruments from intense playing, a riot ensues)

That was a goooood hoe down, boys.

Song of Choice: I’ve Got a Tiger by the Tail

-Bosco

 

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1001 Albums: The Rolling Stones

#46

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Artist: The Rolling Stones

Album: The Rolling Stones

Year: 1964

Length: 33:24

Genre: Rock n’ Roll / Rhythm and Blues

 

 

“I want you back again
I want your love again
I know you find it hard to reason with me
But this time it’s different, darling you’ll see”

For those who know me very well, I have a feeling I already know what you’re thinking. What am I going to say about the Rolling Stones that is absolutely crazy? I get it, I have a reputation amongst my loved ones and close friends as having a… different opinion of things. I get it, I tend to not like what’s popular and seem against the mainstream. I don’t like having an opinion that’s based on what everyone else is thinking and yes, I do give the impression that I like to go against the grain and dislike something just because it’s liked. After some of the things I said about The Beatles it must be inevitable. I will say share some unpopular opinion about The Rolling Stones. It must happen, that’s how I am, that’s my point of view. Right?

Well, in this case I’m happy to say you’re 100%, absolutely wrong. I love The Rolling Stones and, believe it or not, I really enjoyed this album. Hell, I loved this album. This has currently been the highlight of the 60s for me (well, this and Sam Cooke, can’t forget about Sam Cooke). It came super close to actually becoming my favorite album on the list so far (But Live at The Harlem Square Club is a tough one to beat). It was that good for me.

For a debut album it’s a pretty damn solid one. The Rolling Stones managed to not only show off their skills but their charisma as well, which is a feat every band tries to do with their debuts. A ton usually succeed, but others tend to fall into place a little later. Some do so well on their first album that they are unable to recreate that strength again in future albums. But we’re not talking about that here, we’re talking about The Rolling Freakin’ Stones, who managed to not only create a damn good debut album but were able to prove they could do it again and again and even grow as artists and musicians. There’s a good reason they’re as big as they are, they really are just that good and it’s a nice blend of Mick Jagger’s vocals and performance and Keith Richard’s Guitar work (blending their talent together in their tight song writing). They deserve all the praise they get.

They haven’t reached that level of songwriting quite yet at this point, seeing how this album has 11 covers out of 12 songs, with only one being an original. That being said it doesn’t take away from the album at all. To them this was a love letter to Rhythm and Blues, a genre they loved so much they had to make an album commemorating some of their favourite songs. They do this in a spectacular way, infusing Rock influences into their Rhythm and Blues songs, melding the two styles together to make something that is really their own. And they don’t shy away from taking risks with their music as well. A song like King Bee that incorporates a string of guitar notes that actually imitates the sound of a bee buzz is quite the artistic risk for a band on their first album in the early 60s. It’s like they knew their playing capabilities and wanted to take advantage of that in the recording studio. Good on them because it really shows.

Now, i’m going to go ahead and make a few comparisons to The Beatles. I feel that’s fair seeing as these two were the biggest bands part of the British Invasion (Don’t worry we’ll get around to The Who and Yardbirds soon, but let’s focus on these guys). I do believe that The Rolling Stones are way better than The Beatles. No competition for me. They’re just an all-around stronger band. Stronger musically, lyrically and performance wise. Sure, people can easily debate The Beatles strengths with their later albums, but remember at this time The Beatles were still doing their pop cheese. While the bowl cut boys were singing love lyrics to simple pop tunes, The Rolling Stones were swinging their way in with rock-infused Rhythm and Blues. The competition was high for the two and in the end they had to share the spotlight, which is fine. They both catered to very different needs.

I always found The Rolling Stones to be way more mature musically than The Beatles. Like they were the cool, older brother of The British Invasion. The Beatles were cute and had the girl’s screaming, but The Rolling Stones were the guys all the girls wanted to sleep with. There’s no denying they got laid way more than The Beatles did. It’s hard not to see that. When The Rolling Stones sang love songs, it came with the sincerity of an adult who had true feelings compared to the puppy love feeling The Beatles evoked in their music. The Rolling Stones sang about making love to you while The Beatles sang about holding your hand. That’s really it, they catered to different needs and wants in their music listening audience. Girls went to The Beatles to have a good, fun time while they went to the Rolling Stones to be swooned and possibly be fucked gently into the night. There is this sense of maturity that isn’t seen in current (early 60s) Beatles albums that the Rolling Stones seemed to have. They were cool, cocky and damn sexy and all that shines through their debut here.

That’s really what this album is: A cool, cocky, sexy album. They even manage to make the harmonica sound so damn cool as it blares through some of the songs in a subtle and warm way. For the most part the harmonica always comes in really damn loud and kind of obnoxiously, but here it seems to blend beautifully with the rest of the instruments, never upstaging them in any way. They seem to mix the rock sensibilities of Chuck Berry with the sexiness of Elvis Presley and the cool attitude of Sinatra himself. The cockiness is so high they even redubbed this album as England’s Newest Hit Makers when it was released in the US, as if they were so confident they would continue to be making hit after hit after hit (thankfully for them they did).

One song stood out to me though in a way that’s hard to describe. It was strange because as the album went on, musically it sounded pretty consistent. But then when Tell Me appeared, there was a quality to it that just sounded different as if it was apart from the rest. The band sounded at their tightest and strongest here and Jagger sounded like he was giving it his all in the vocals. I can’t quite put my finger on what exactly about it I liked so much, but musically it just seemed to deliver in a way that the other songs didn’t, and the other songs delivered, believe me they did. They had me dancing and toe-tapping like nobody’s business. Picture this: me standing at a crosswalk, waiting for the light to turn green for me to cross, my legs and feet dancing away, but my upper body staying perfectly still. Yeah. Probably not that weird for those who know me, but if an album manages to make me dance and feel the music like this did than that’s already a big plus. This one just managed to suck me in and have me feeling every second of it. When those drums hit and the stellar guitar playing of Richards sings, it just felt really good. Remember too, this isn’t the first time I’ve heard this album either. So to have this feeling on a multiple listen is truly a remarkable thing. But who knows why…

It also happens to, coincidentally, be the one song on the album that Jagger and Richards wrote… so maybe that’s why. It was a personal song for them and it reflected through their performances, which then caused it to stand out as being truly unique on the album.

That’s my guess at least and I feel it’s a logical one.

Song of Choice: Tell Me

-Bosco

 

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1001 Albums: A Girl Called Dusty

# 45

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Artist: Dusty Springfield

Album: A Girl Called Dusty

Year: 1964

Length: 32:54

Genre: Blue-Eyed Soul/ Pop

 

 

“If a sea of fire, it was surrounding you
Oh, don’t you know, don’t you know?
I would find a way to get through
Because nothing, nothing, nothing, I said no, not nothing
Nothing in the world’s gonna keep me away from you”

Oh Dusty. Dusty, Dusty, how I yearned to hear you sing. Really but not really at the same time. You see, I already knew of Dusty Springfield’s songs and have heard a few of them. She always came across as a 60s high school sweetheart and I found myself actually enjoying it when she came on the radio (60s on 6, Xm radio, you know it). Needless to say I had a bit of a crush on Dusty. Hard not to. She sings with such a great blend of innocence and sensuality that she’s practically every guy’s dream girl (theoretically of course). If she was much younger, Or I was the age I am now in 1964, I’d probably be in love with her. But I’m 24 in 2017 and she’s dead, so that doesn’t work at all (Unless you’re into that kind of thing… please no).

There was a part of me that was excited to get to this album, but this week another part of me just didn’t really want to do anything. I’ve slowed down a bit, with my blog, with other projects, with productivity in general. Why? Briefly, I’ve hit a down and it’s been hard getting over it. I’ve been having one of those weeks where you walk around like a zombie, doing your day-to-day routine at work, not really being happy but not sad either. You just are. Nothing to it. But as the end of the week was coming near I knew I had to push myself to be productive, even if it was only baby steps. I told myself, It doesn’t matter how I’m feeling, It doesn’t matter if I don’t feel like doing anything, the only way I can fight this is by doing anyway and proving it wrong. That’s what I did and I’m happy I did.

It’s as if Dusty Springfield came up at the perfect time in the context of my life. Right away the first song sang lyrics that said ” Mama Said There will always be days like this”. Wow… how relevant. Yeah, she’s right, I will always have days like this, no point fretting over it. Damn, thanks Dusty. And that song was immediately followed by what I’d like to call a Strong Woman’s Anthem, declaring to the men she’s seeing that she isn’t their object and she’s her own person, so don’t go treating her like she’s a trophy to display and tell her what to do. She ain’t taking shit from you. Damn Dusty, you’re starting this album off strong. I found that particular song to be quite poignant, especially considering the time it came out. In the 1960s the feminist movement was on the rise, woman getting together to fight for their rights and get the equality they both wanted and needed. If anything, Dusty would prove to be a great role model for these woman. Here was a genre of music that was mostly dominated by men and Dusty pushed her way through the crowd and would become one of the first Female rock icons at a time where it was probably laughed at or frowned upon. She didn’t care, she showed off that she could do it to and she tapped into a group of people that hadn’t been yet: the frustrated young adult women. Sure big pop icons like the Beatles and Elvis were being followed and loved by huge groups of women, but Dusty was different. Where they loved the men for being cute and sexy, they loved Dusty for being someone they can look to and say “Hey, that’s me, she gets me”. She wasn’t just Dusty Springfield, she was a representation of all the young adult women who just wanted to do their thing and have fun too. And that’s what Dusty did, as she sings through every song with beauty and a sort of hidden sensuality, she reminds the world of 1964 that women were just as capable as doing what the men were and “You Don’t Own Me” is proof of that. With that one song she was showing that women could stand their ground and be their own without men telling them otherwise. If she wasn’t a role model, she really should have been.

That being said, the power kind of ends there as the rest of the album is mostly just straight forward pop songs and some mo-town influenced music. For the most part, they’re enjoyable but not the most memorable, except possibly the hit Wishin’ and Hopin’, which god damn I can never get out of my head. This song has plagued me since my parents forced me to watch My Best Friend’s Wedding with them when I was a kid. But plagued in a good way, because there’s such an innocence to it that just makes you feel nice inside. But it was stills tuck in my head, which is never fun, no matter what the song.

This doesn’t make the album bad, a little dated maybe, but it seems that most pop albums from the 60s are pretty dated. That’s what I’m learning as I go through each one. But if you think about it, an album full of pop songs was exactly what she needed to do to get noticed. If she had an entire album in vain of “You Don’t Own Me” it probably wouldn’t have made such an impact as the male-dominated sector of music would have tried to hide it in fear of some revolution that needed to happen at the time. She needed the pop hits to get on the charts with everyone else and get noticed. It’s the idea of doing what you need to do to get your name and face out there and once you do, you hit hard with what you want. Classic in the art world. So, the album as a whole may not be the greatest, but it helped Dusty cement herself as a rock icon and showed that even the females could do what the men were doing in rock and pop, singing and dancing and dressing as they did and still being hits.

As a side note, I might have to revisit this album because I don’t know if I listened to the proper version of it. The songs were all the right songs, but as I was listening to it there seemed to be a stylistic change between some of the songs that sounded odd and one of them was in french… which is just wrong. I still got a good gist of the whole thing because it was still all the same songs, but a quick search told me that the remastered version of the album actually has different takes and sounds completely different than the original… well fantastic (Seriously, why do groups do this? It’s incredibly frustrating). So I think I got a blend of both and the french song came from her album of french recordings. Thankfully I understand french so I didn’t miss out on the experience of the song, but I would still like to revisit this album when I find all the songs in their original format to truly experience the whole album.

This doesn’t change anything I’e said though.

Song of Choice: You Don’t Own Me

-Bosco

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1001 Albums: Rock ‘n Soul

#44

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Artist: Solomon Burke

Album: Rock ‘n Soul

Year: 1964

Length: 34:06

Genre: Rhythm and Blues

 

 

“And it’s hard and it’s hard, ain’t it hard
To love one that never did love you?
And it’s hard and it’s hard, ain’t it hard, great God
To love one that never will be true?”

 

Solomon Burke is a guy who sings songs. That he is. He sings them very well too. Good singer. Lot’s of soul in his voice. Sings with conviction and feeling. Did you know he was also considered the King of rock and soul? Well, now you do. That’s actually where the title of this album comes from, his title as King of rock and soul. Even though he sings rhythm and blues, he wanted to separate himself as much as possible from it due to his clean lifestyle that he felt just didn’t fit the vibe of the rhythm and blues life. What a cool dude. Did you know this album had seven, that’s right SEVEN, top 100 hits? Oh yeah. Amazing. Solomon Burke is really a swell guy and a swell singer too. He really is. What a nice album. Very nice.

For the most observant of you it’s pretty clear I have absolutely no idea what I’m talking about. It took me about three days to get myself to write this post because I honestly couldn’t think of anything to really say. I was hoping something, anything would come to my mind, but day 3 hit and absolutely nothing hit me. What can I really say other than those few interesting facts up there? It’s a very straight-forward rhythm and blues album. That’s pretty much it. Heck, every single song is apparently a cover, so we’re not even dealing with any originals. He basically just picked a bunch of songs and entered the studio to record them on his day off or something and popped out this record. It’s not bad, but it’s pretty damn forgettable. I can’t remember one song off this entire album. I remember really enjoying one… but I remember that feeling rather than the actual song itself. What does that say about the record?

Heck, the album cover is damn forgettably boring. What was he thinking? Look at it. It looks like it’s straight from the 30s when all they did was say what songs are on the album. Seriously, and they’re all listed next to an incredibly unflattering picture of him. He looks like he had a stroke of some sort and became a simpleton because of it. Seriously, he looks damn slow on that picture and I have the assumption that he really isn’t. Based on his singing he sounds like he’s perfectly capable of stringing coherent sentences in a very well-spoken way. So why did he choose a picture of himself that makes it look like he wears a bib so he doesn’t drool all over himself. You’re better than this Solomon. I know it. You know it.

I’ll be honest, I was also incredibly inebriated when I listened to this album. That might have played a huge factor into this. What can I say? I went out to celebrate a co-workers last day of work and had a few drinks. I was excited about listening to more albums so I popped this record onto my ipod and gave it a listen and… that’s it. I remember listening to the songs, I remember them for the most part being well done and well sung. I remember a chorus of girls backing up his vocals in a non-distracting way that actually supported his singing. I remember lyrically for the most part it was all related to love and relationships (as usual). I remember feeling happy, but that could have been the booze too.

But that’s it. Maybe the alcohol played a role in making this album forgettable, but maybe it just was… forgettable. It almost felt like they added this album onto the list just because of those facts I mentioned above. & top 100 hits is quite an achievement and he is the king of rhythm and soul, I guess they had to put the king in there somewhere. But then again, Dick Dale is the king of the surf guitar and he’s nowhere in sight on this list. What gives? Give Dick Dale the spot he deserves! He made the most famous rendition of Miserlou for god’s sake. Give the King his rightful place on the surf rock throne!

Look at me, I’m talking about a completely different artist now. But it’s hard not to when this album didn’t really give me much to talk about. Today, I was working on set for a music video. Band’s first album, can’t really talk about it or say anything specific, but the music has been stuck in my head all day and will most probably be stuck for weeks to come. It was fun and engaging and had everyone loving it from start to finish. And no it wasn’t because I heard it play 100s of times throughout the day… although, that could be why… Either way, I feel like I could write an entire post about that one song more than I can about this entire album.

Solomon, I’m sorry. You seem like an amazing person. You seem like the sweetest, nicest guy ever. You really do. I would love to get to know you and have cake and punch with you and be your friend. We could have slumber parties and whisper secrets into each other’s ears, then laugh and giggle all through the night until sunrise. If this album did anything it was make me believe that about you because you do come across as all that from you’re singing. But, I hate to say it to you and break you’re big heart… it was just plain forgettable, simple as that.

But… I was drunk… so who’s really to blame here?

Song of Choice: You Can’t Love Them All

-Bosco

 

 

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1001 Albums: Olympia 64

# 43

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Artist: Jacques Brel

Album: Olympia 64

Year: 1964

Length: 28:19

Genre: Chanson / Live

 

 

 

 

“Est-ce d’avoir trop ri
Que leur voix se lézarde
Quand ils parlent d’hier?
Et d’avoir trop pleuré
Que des larmes encore
Leur perlent les paupières?”

Ah, la bonne musique française. C’est dur à croire que je me trouve aimer ce genre de musique, mais voilà. En p’tite dose, j’aime beaucoup ce style de chanson, mais je dois vraiment être dans le mood pour l’écouter. Heureusement pour moi, il a duré même pas 30 minutes. C’était un durer parfait pour mes oreilles parce que plus longtemps que ça, s’aurait été possible que ça commence à être ennuyante pour moi. Ce n’était pas le cas ici. J’ai jamais pensait que je dirais que j’ai beaucoup aimé se sorte de musique. Dans le passe j’avais des personnes qui ont essayé de me faire couter des raconteurs d’histoire comme Jacques Brel ici, mais ça jamais rester avec moi. J’ai honnêtement juste trouvé ça plate. Mais, Jacques Brel est un maitre a raconter des histoires et je suis assez heureux que je l’ai découvert. Ca ce voit de ou ca viens l’influence sur les chanteurs de ce style d’aujourd’hui et c’est claire ils vont jamais atteindre son niveaux.

Aussi, encore je me trouve en train d’écouter un album d’enregistrement public. Je commence à comprendre pourquoi certains ont été choisis mais dans ce cas-là je ne comprends pas vraiment. J’ai essayé de faire des recherches sur cet album, mais j’ai rien trouvé. Il n’a pas grands chose écrit dessus autre qu’il y avait deux versions, l’original de 1964 et un deuxième en 2008. Je me trouve en train de me demander la grosse question encore : Est-ce que j’ai écouté la bonne version?

Oui.

Assez facile cette fois-là.

Attends… qu’est-ce qui s’passe? Pourquoi je suis en train de parler français? Qu’est-ce qui arrive? Je suis content j’ai finalement rencontré un album d’une autre langue que je comprends, mais… pourquoi je suis en train de le parler? Il y a pas de sens, je suis anglophone… ce n’est pas comme je suis un expert sur la langue Française. Même pas proche, je suis en train de faire des grosses faute d’orthographe et grammaire. Je suis sur mes amis francophone qui vont lire ca vont avoir mal aux yeux à cause de mes fautes. C’est pas ma faute mon écriture français n’est pas bon. J’ai pratiquement coulé cette partie-là dans mes cours français. Heureusement pour moi j’ai massacré les présentations oral et les tests d’écoute.

Pendant cinq ans, j’ai travaillé dans un camp de jour français. Mes fautes étaient la grosse blague pour beaucoup de mes collègues.

« Hey! On sort DU piscine »

Ouais, osti que c’est drôle. J’ai dit sort du piscine. On rit.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.
En tout cas, je disais des drôles de chose parce que dans ma tête je traduisais les phrases anglaises directement en français. Je suis en train de le faire à ce moment. Comme tu peux voir… des fois ça ne fonctionne pas. Des fois ça fonctionne tellement mal que la phrase que j’ai dit à zéro sens de tout.

QUELQU’UN AIDE-MOI!!!

Je crois que c’est la faute à Jacques. Come on… cheque-le. Il est beau.

Jacques Brel

Ah, qu’il est beau.

Il a mis de la magie sur moi qui me prévente de parlait an Anglais. Peut-être c’est la charme de l’album ou peut-être la musique était tellement beau je pouvais pas m’arrêter.

Donne-moi deux secondes.

AHEM AHEM

Good? Great, sorry about that. I don’ know what came over me. Maybe it really is the magic of this album. Jacques Brel manages to tell stories with such emotional power that it’s hard not to get sucked in to every story he’s telling. He captivates the audience and keeps them in, everyone holding on to each and every word he says.

You might not understand french and you might not be a fan of this storytelling type music, but there’s no denying Jacques Brel does it damn fucking well. Having been exposed to this style quite a number of times, none of them have pulled me in like he does. He really does have a charm to him that I can’t quite put my finger on. It’s one of those odd moments that there’s just something magical to behold and you don’t really know what it is.

But that’s the beauty of magic, it doesn’t need to be explained, it’s just felt. And this performance is heavily one of feeling, as he bursts every one through his lyrics and singing. It takes you on a wild ride, that isn’t an incredibly thrilling one but definitely a very fascinating one. It’s not meant to get you energized and heated but rather meant to make you experience the feelings and emotions that come with it, which to many, is an incredibly exciting experience.

I wouldn’t listen to Jacques in heavy doses,but given the right circumstances, it’s definitely a journey.

Song of Choice: Amsterdam

-Bosco

 

 

 

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1001 Albums: A Hard Day’s Night

#42

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Artist: The Beatles

Album: A Hard Day’s Night

Year: 1964

Length: 30:13

Genre: Pop Rock

 

 

“If you’re feeling sorry and sad, I’d really sympathize.
Don’t you be sad, just call me tonight.”

Ah The Beatles, we meet again for the second but not the last time. I knew our second meeting might be an awkward one after the things I said about you last time. It was tough, you know? It wasn’t easy saying those words, I really wish I could have been a little nicer because I know how many people adore and love you. I’m sorry you couldn’t connect with me the way you did your millions of fans, but I promise I won’t say anything controversial or mean-spirited this time around, I’ll try to make peace with you guys.

What do you say?

Well, seeing how half of you are dead and the other two are god knows where at this moment and I’m basically talking to a computer screen (yes, I speak my words out loud when I type, got a problem?) I can’t really get an answer. So, to show you I’m trying this time, I want to share a song I wrote inspired by your albums… well, the early years.

It’s called Everything’s Just Right. I hope you like it.

Here goes:

When times get lonely
I just remember
All the times I’ve spent with you

Holding hands
As we walked
Felt that feeling that I feeeeeel

I’m not too hot or too cold
I’m not too timid or too bold
Nothing’s old or brand new
Because everything’s just right when I’m with you

You told me once
That you loved me
And I told you twice
That you’re my lovely

Holding hands
By the beach
Knowing these feelings that I feeeel

It wasn’t too light or too dark
It wasn’t too fuzzy or too stark
Nothing’s old or brand new
Because everything’s just right  when I’m with you

Yeah yeah yeah x7

Oh oh oh x4

When we were together
You told me
You’d always be by my siiiide

I believed you dear
And now I look back
At those feelings you had me feeeeeeel

I was never too dumb or too smart
It was never bad when I cracked a fart
Nothing’s old or brand new
Because everything’s just right when I’m with you

Yeah, because everything’s just right when I’m with you

I said everything was just right when I was with you

 

Well? What do you think Beatles members who will never read this? I mean, it’s definitely a work in progress and no where near your masterful musicianship, but I think I’ve got something pretty solid in the making here. Given the right instruments, backing band, practices, sound and time period for me to release this and I’m sure it could be a hit like you guys, right? If I travel back in time to 1964, I could probably tap into the same youthful love that all the younguns were connecting with in your music. That’s what this whole album was, I get it now. You guys didn’t hide behind pretense or poetry, you guys were just a fun band making head bopping music that sang about love and feelings that every young adult could relate to. I get it now, I really do and I see what you’ve done. I can’t believe I was so blind all this time, when it was so obvious. I mean, you’re The Beatles for christ’s sake! There’s absolutely no way in hell I could call myself a fan of music and not be fans of you! I was so stupid for thinking otherwise and having mediocre feelings towards you guys, I really was.

So what do you say? I’ve finally done it. I moved to your side of the pond and said things I thought I’d never say. I’m finally going to say: “I am a fan”. There, you happy? Now no one can jump at me or attack me any more for not being crazy about you guys. You’ve won.

So, how about that song?

Oh… I see. I get it. Right, right. I hear your criticism. But to be frank, around 1964 you weren’t really making anything that far off. I mean sure, this was a nice step forward for you guys from With The Beatles. You are really starting to make big steps towards your future. I always admired that about you. You were constantly trying to grow as a band, challenge yourself, take risks and keep getting tighter and stronger and better. And it really shows as you progress through your discography. But… let’s be honest, you’re not quite there yet. Lyrically, you’re still a little lame. You’re doing more things with your lyrics than in the last one and we can see a nice glimpse of where you guys are heading as song writers… you’re just not quite there yet in 1964. Even musically, you’re not really doing anything that complex or… interesting. I mean, I’ll give you credit where it’s due, you’ve definitely fallen into your instruments now and have really made your music you’re own. This is your first album with only original material, that’s a huge milestone. And that opening chord of A Hard Day’s Night? Brilliant, you know to this day people are still trying to figure out how to play it? I heard somewhere you did it by banging a hammer on the piano chords or something, is that true? Well, if it is, we definitely see you guys starting to experiment with your sound like you would do in our later albums. But for the most part, you’re still just catchy pop music and… it’s ok.

What? Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to drop some criticism on you. I know I said I wouldn’t… but I couldn’t help myself. I mean, you turned down my song… I felt a little angry… maybe even a little envious. I mean, you’re big and famous for singing love songs. How did you do it? It’s amazing. You really connected with a large audience in a way that I could never comprehend. Because I still don’t get it.

Oh… uh… haha… yeah, I guess the cat’s out of the bag… I still don’t get it. I mean, historically and within context of the 60s, I get it. You were new and fresh. The British Invasion was coming and you were right there in the front leading the way. People hadn’t seen bands the way you were a band. The whole get-up, Guitarist, bassist, singer, drummer. Man, what was that??? Everyone was in complete awe at what you were doing and what you created. But this was 1963, we’re 2017. I hate to break it to you, but this album sounds dated. It really is a product of it’s time because if you released something like this today it would be hated. Harsh words I know, but I really can’t understand why you’re early stuff is still held with such high regard. It’s honestly nothing that great and I know, I know, I’m in the huge minority here when I say this. People love you guys, they really do. They listen to all your music and buy all your records and can’t stop talking about you and how you’re the greatest band of all time.

I feel like I’m missing something, standing in the crowd confused as everyone happily runs by me singing your songs. You know what it’s like being the outsider in this situation? People judging you and putting you down. It’s not easy having the point of view from someone who isn’t part of the popular opinion and it’s even harder to defend my position. Honestly, I wish I liked you guys, I really do, at least it would make me blend in the crowd. And… don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate you, I actually do enjoy your music and think you’re all very talented (even you Ringo). I just… I just can’t get into you guys. I just can’t be a fan. I know it’s crazy, I know. But I can’t force myself to be a fan of something that I’m not crazy about. Who knows, maybe one day it’ll finally click. Maybe relistening to your discography will make me realise the challenges and steps you took to really become who you were and the journey will be enough for me to say “I’m a fan”. Maybe my eyes will open and my mind will expand and I’ll finally see what everyone else does. Maybe I will finally understand exactly why everyone to this day is still talkign about you and I will be there with them, saying all the same things they say. I really hope because I really do want to. Maybe it will all happen. Maybe…

But probably not.

Song of Choice: Hard Day’s Night

-Bosco

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1001 Albums: Live at the Apollo

# 40

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Artist: James Brown

Album: Live at the Apollo

Year: 1963

Length: 31:31

Genre: Soul/Live

 

 

“You’ve got to live for yourself
Yourself and nobody else
You’ve got to live for yourself
Yourself and nobody else”

Remember in the last post when I said I’d be able to crank out a ton of these in a short amount of time thanks to the lengthy trip to Toronto? I didn’t lie but right after that post I had things ocur that basically prevented me from being able to do it. It didn’t help that it was 3:30 in the morning and I was tired as all hell, but without knowing I would soon get incredibly emotionally drained.

Have you ever had a situation where you made a big mistake? It wasn’t purposeful, it was a very honest mistake on your part that anyone could make, but it’s still a mistake nonetheless? The kind of mistake that you can’t really fix instantly and that sits with you and eats you up inside? Yeah, I had one of those. I had made an honest mistake on my part and only realised it at 3:30 am when we stopped at a service station, something related to my work. I won’t go into details of what happened because it’s honestly none of your business, but know that I spent the rest of the car ride, most of Friday and this morning having it eat away inside of me.

I wanted to relax this weekend, get away from the stress and toxicity I was feeling in Toronto and of course something had to happen to make sure I didn’t. What makes it worse is that I have co-workers who like to hold your mistakes against you to really make you feel like shit. They get a sense of superiority over you from doing that and love to make themselves out as kings and saviours of the work force. I know they’re keeping that in as a way to throw back in my face and I will have none of it. But doesn’t change the fact that it makes me feel like ten tons of shit. I already felt like ten tons of shit the moment I realised I made the mistake because I’m a decent person who knows what’s wrong and right and understands the consequences that occur from certain actions and knows the error he has made. Some people don’t realise that others know this and like to make you feel worse for something you already feel shitty about… I’m bracing myself for that. It will happen, guaranteed.

But for now, I’m trying my best to enjoy my weekend and get it off my mind. They found a quick solution and I already talked with the boss, so everything is cleared of my honest to god mistake that got fixed and I honestly should have nothing to worry about (but I’m filled with bad anxiety that doesn’t allow me to relax and chill… so there’s that). So, best way for me to do that is distract myself and there’s no better way to do that than listening to music.

Music is my escape. Every time I get really anxious or down I put on some tunes. It never fails to bring up my mood and make me feel a hundred times better. Music is important to me, it’s very therapeutic and if anyone ever gets in between me and my music listening (especially when I’m doing it to feel better) you better believe I won’t be happy with you.

So, here I was, I made the decision to stop wallowing in my own fear and continue on with the challenge. (I was also writing something else at the same time, but that’s not important). What I got was… a decent album. Not what I was hoping would pump me up and make me feel better, but did enough to keep my mind off things.

Right off the bat, it was another Live album, a little too soon coming off the amazing Sam Cooke one, there was no way it could compare. I shouldn’t compare the two, but it’s more the phenomenon of a good album following an amazing one, making it feel not as great. The same phenomenon happened with Quentin Tarantino’s Jackie Brown, which followed immediately after Pulp Fiction. Jackie Brown suffered the fate of being a disappointment before it was even made just due to the impact Pulp Fiction had one the movie-going audience. That’s what I felt here.

I’m going to try my best to set that part of my thinking to the side and look at the album as it’s own thing, but it’ll be really hard. In terms of performance, James Brown doesn’t do anything really that exciting, he’s exactly what you’d expect when thinking of James Brown. He’s more of a visual performer, with his dance moves and swinging legs and hips, but it doesn’t translate that well to purely just audio. Rather than performing with high energy and spirits, he performs with an incredibly cool attitude, which gives off a different kind of performance.

You see, James Brown doesn’t need to fire up and rile up the crowd and get them heated tot he point of ecstasy. No, no, the audience walks in already feeling that way and you can tell just based on how all the women in the audience lose their minds when he starts singing Try Me. He hasn’t done anything except start singing and they they shriek and holler as if all their panties suddenly got soaked. Is it safe to say he was a bit like the Black Elvis Presley? Cool, sexy and had a funky hairstyle? I’d say it’s a safe assumption to make. He goes into his shows knowing the audience will love it from the start, so he doesn’t need to make that extra effort to pump them up (OK maybe a little for the sake of good entertainment).

And that’s really what this album is, enjoyable. It doesn’t do anything out of ordinary or more, it’s exactly what it needed to be for a James Brown live album. You go in expecting James Brown to do his James Brown thing and he delivers. Even the label felt that way, feeling it wouldn’t be a good idea to release a live album of old material that people already know and have heard a bunch of times. It seem that’s exactly what they needed to do because the album sold like crazy. It was selling faster than they could print it. The live album of old material is exactly what the people wanted, the songs they knew and loved that they could enjoy together, compiled on one album.

That’s really the reason why this album is on the list. The album itself is pretty straight-forward and is enjoyable as a whole. If you’re not really a James Brown fan, you can put this on and enjoy it, but it won’t really do much to persuade you into becoming a fan (it didn’t for me at least). But what it did was prove the star-power James Brown had. He wasn’t just a soul singer, he was a powerhouse of soul singing and record selling. He was able to get the crowd going on star-power alone and when the label doubted him he proved the people were there to back him up. He was loved no doubt about it and he knew that and had confidence in his fans that they would be there to prove the label wrong. It was so big that disc jockeys were actually playing the album in full on their stations, which is one hell of an achievement in terms of albums. Heck, it was so big that he would go on to record other Live at the Apollo albums just because of the success of this one.

I’m actually liking the discovery of albums that are on this list due to their historical importance. It’s fun actually researching about the time they came out to understand their context and why they were such a big deal, especially those that don’t really hold up today. It’s satisfying my curiosity and my semi-love of history and I honestly find it really fascinating and interesting. If I leave with one thing form doing this challenge it’ll be all the music history I am learning. Expanding the mind of  musical knowledge that I can drop on unsuspecting victims (in a nice and completely non-pretentious way that looks like I’m trying to prove something). And even if no one wants to listen, I’m happy having the knowledge for myself for my own personal satisfaction.

Didn’t expect myself to get to that, but that’s the joy of writing… you never know where it will take you. Especially if you’re a writer like me who starts with an idea of what he’s going to say and kind of goes with the flow, never knowing where I will end once I’ve started. It’s quite exciting, to be honest.

Song of Choice: Night Train

-Bosco

 

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1001 Albums: The Black Saint and The Sinner Lady

#39

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Artist: Charles Mingus

Album: The Black Saint and The Sinner Lady

Year: 1963

Length: 39: 25

Genre: Avant-Garde Jazz

 

 

“jazz instrumentation”

I realise I’ve been quite behind in writing these posts. I’ve had one of those weeks where you don’t even see it go. Kind of turn around and the week has already passed, done before you had a chance to see it. It’s not that I wasn’t paying attention to it, it was more just a really busy week. I’ve had a lot going on and had been preparing myself for a lot of things. So, my time was consumed and without realizing it I had been behind on my post.

No worries though. I am currently sitting in the back of a car, zooming on my way to Toronto for the weekend. It is almost 3 am in the morning, which I feel is the perfect time for me to catch up on these posts (because why would I sleep and rest?). The long trip also gives me the opportunity to get through quite a few albums at once and since I have my laptop with me, I can actually crank out the posts really easily and efficiently. No waiting until I get home from work, instant response.

Enough talk about that, let’s see what we have in store now.

Uh oh…

Oh no…

Just as I feared… jazz…

My relationship with Jazz has really taken a turn. Where I started to love it and even grew to be incredibly fond of it, I am now dreading and fearing it. This is one of the moments where I really wish I knew what I was talking about. I had a conversation with a friend of mine when it came to discussing the jazz albums on the list and he seemed to agree with me for the most part. Jazz is incredibly difficult to talk about, especially if you’re not trained in jazz musical theory. Even the critiques in the book for the most part say “This album is amazing, so good, wow amazing jazz.” If those guys couldn’t say anything coherently specific, how am I supposed to even talk about it?

I mentioned it in my Jazz Samba post that at this point I feel I don’t really know what else to say without repeating myself from previous posts. Heck, I just repeated that because I have no idea how to go about talking about this album.

For the most part, it’s one of those difficult jazz albums to listen to. It’s not to the level of Thelonious Monk, but it does come close. Whereas most Jazz I can easily get lost in, this one at times hurts my ears and even gave me a headache. It’s not the easiest jazz to listen to, but that being said I do recognize the incredibly complex arrangements that Mingus pulled off here, especially with his use of an 11-piece ensemble, which really brings out a rich texture of varying sounds that you might not get on other albums. It ranges from the odd to the melodic and can shift easily from hard-bop to swingin’ jazz. It really is a fascinating and remarkable album when you sit back and think about it and Mingus manages to make his album a little undefinable. With the mix of styles and vibes and feelings that flow from one to the other seamlessly, it’s hard to really say what he’s doing with the album, but he definitely takes you on a journey with your ears as you experience almost everything the jazz genre has to offer.

I read that this album was actually written as one long composition and as a ballet, separated into four songs and six divisions. If this was written as a ballet, I’d be curious to see it performed by an actual ballet. We have Les Grands Ballets right here, which is a damn prestigious ballet company, it’d be interesting to see them take this piece and turn it into a show. Knowing nothing about how ballet works in terms of choreography, I’d love to see what kind of dance moves they crack out to this. I haven’t seen very many ballets in my life (only one actually, The Nutcracker, which I found disappointing for the most part) but I would definitely pay to see the ballet of The Black Saint and The Sinner Lady purely out of curiosity.

Speaking of which, this is probably the first instance of a jazz album where I felt the names of the songs actually made sense. I remember the little piece I wrote in my Brilliant Corners post about trying to understand the naming of jazz songs and how they came up with them. To this day it’s still a fascinating topic and I would love to get some more insight on how they choose the names of their songs. But this one, I get it.  Solo Dancers, Duet Solo Dancers, Group Dancers, Trio and Group Dancers… it’s very straight-forward, if not a little uninspired. He took the naming quite literally here and didn’t really leave room for much to the imagination. But at least I know how many dancers he was aiming for each song and if I really wanted to (not really, but maybe) I could picture that while listening to the music. The Solo Dancers song could easily be each dancer one by one, showing what they’ve got, trying to out-do the previous one. Heck, the whole thing could be a non-stop competition between dancers, until the big finale where they all band together and have a dance-off of epic proportions.

This ballet practically writes itself, maybe I should do it….

HAHAHAHAHAHAHA… yeah right…

This album is considered to be one of Charles Mingus’ masterworks and one of the greatest achievements in jazz. I can’t disagree with that because even if I did I’d have no idea how to argue against it. I guess they’re right. But putting that aside, it really is a beast of an album and it doesn’t take a genius to see the amount of work and effort that went into it. Even if it’s not really my type of album, I still found myself impressed the whole way through, even though I have no idea why. Maybe I was able to see the complexity of it all and how the ensemble really blended together to create an atmosphere and vibe that Mingus was trying to capture. And maybe Mingus’ musical genius shown through in ways I can’t explain, but it still left an imprint on me as a listener. It’s funny how the more I think about it the more I seem to find it better and better. Everything from the horns to the piano to even the acoustic guitar were so masterfully arranged with such intricate detail and perfectionism that maybe, just maybe, it’s hard not to recognize the weight of this album, even if you have no idea what you’re talking about.

Despite all that, by the end of it all there is definitely one thing that I know for sure…

That’s a pretty sweet hat he’s wearing and I’d like to get one for myself. Just to wear, you know.

Song of Choice: Mode D – Trio and Group Dancers

-Bosco

 

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1001 Albums: Live at the Harlem Square Club, 1963

# 38

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Artist: Sam Cooke

Album: Live at the Harlem Square Club, 1963

Year: 1963

Length: 37:29

Genre: RnB Soul / Live

 

 

“Baby when the band is playin’
And that solid beat
Make you wanna move, make you wanna groove
Make you wanna pat your feet
Don’t fight it, don’t fight it, feel it.”

 

I was a little lonely for the past few days. Sandra had gone up to see her best friend in Toronto, leaving me alone with no one to annoy or bug. I mean sure I can annoy my parents, but it’s just not the same, you know? I figured I’d find ways to entertain myself while she was gone, write, read, maybe engage in conversation with other people. Lasted a day before I felt the need to bother her. With all the persistence I usually have, I downloaded about thirty pictures of Ham and Cheese sandwiches and posted every single one onto her timeline on Facebook.

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mmmm… delicious.

I just wanted to share these delicious sandwiches with her, but the results were exactly what you’d expect. She was both laughing and just in utter astonishment at the ridiculousness of it all. That seems to be the emotion she has the most with me. Shaking her head in disbelief at something I’ve done, yet still finding it funny. Laughing in disbelief is what I’m looking for here. I keep her on her toes, she never knows what I’m going to do next. I know one day I might take it too far, but until then I’m going to enjoy it as much as possible.

As fun as it was, I needed to find ways to keep myself occupied and what better way than to keep listening to these albums? I mean, it’s not like I wasn’t going to to begin with, but at least it would keep me busy so I wouldn’t do something stupid again. Possibly…

I’m happy I did because I got to experience what I now consider my favourite album off the list so far (yeah, was wondering when that would change. What was the last album I said that on? Kenya? Yikes…). No joke, I fucking loved this album, every second and minute of it I was hooked. This is not what I thought would happen before going into it. In all honesty, I thought this was another live jazz album (yeah, yeah, I know it isn’t jazz at all, excuse my ignorance) and was already preparing myself for what would be thirty minutes of trying to find something to say that at least made it look like I sort of knew what I was talking about (which, let’s face it, rarely happens).

This was not the case, the complete opposite actually. My expectations took a complete 180 and completely blew me away. This album was everything a live album should be. It was raw, energized and heated. Sam Cooke delivers one of the greatest performances I have ever heard in my life. He doesn’t stop for one moment, going from one song to the next, barely taking a moment to catch his breath in between them. He exudes so much infectious energy, you can actually hear the crowd getting riled up from his performance and they can barely contain themselves. You know they’re going crazy once he busts into his twisting song “Twistin’ the Night Away”, reaching a climax that was so amazingly built up from his slower love medley, “It’s All Right/ For Sentimental Reasons”, right before.

That’s the funny thing. Even when he slows it down, it still feels energized. I can’t explain it, but throughout his whole medley, I felt out of breath even though it wasn’t a fast song at all. Somehow it was pumping me up and I felt every fibre of my body feeling it and ready to explode. It’s a little hard to explain this type of energy, but I’ll do my best. When I say energized I don’t mean in the same way that, say, speed metal is energized, fast and hyper, but in the sense that he puts his all into his performance. He doesn’t waste an ounce of his own power and keeps the turbines running on high even on a soulful song. It’s a level of intensity that he reaches that doesn’t require speed, but emotion and feeling. The same thing occurs when you’re watching a play and both actors are doing a heavily tense, dramatic moment. Nothing can be happening, but you in the audience can feel it and feel tense with them. The actors could just be standing there and looking at each other, but if they’re giving all their energy to the moment then you feel it. A low energy actor can take away all that tension and this applies to live music shows as well. There’s nothing worse than watching a band perform and they’re performing with such low energy. You can feel it and it really brings you down and takes away from the performance and the experience of watching it. Obviously, there’s exceptions (Bob Dylan is able to just sit there, chilled and still keep you engaged), but they’re really exceptions to the rule and few and far between. Sam Cooke delivers on the energy levels. I wouldn’t be surprised if he just passed out, right off stage, after this performance.

This is one high quality album, and I don’t mean in sound recording, but in performance. This has been widely considered to be one of the best live albums ever, and upon listening to it I can definitely see why. Can you believe this was almost never released? Yeah, the record label was afraid this album would tarnish his reputation… somehow. He was making a transition from gospel and soul into pop, this was one of his last ventures of his soul days and was predominantly enjoyed by black people (which I guess the label had a problem with because… of course they did it was 1963, white people wouldn’t like them black people music). Honestly, if this was how it was, I would choose to hang with the black crowd any day of the week. You can hear it on this record, they know how to fucking party. They know how to just let loose and enjoy themselves. There’s really a special feeling you get when you hear the whole crowd singing along with Sam Cooke. There’s no worries or cares, just a ton of people having the time of their lives. That’s everything you want for a concert and how it should be.

I’ve been to quite a few concerts that have had this feeling. It feels amazing to let out some stress by dancing and singing and getting pummeled in a mosh pit. I love going to concerts for this particular reason, I find it very therapeutic and it allows me to blow off some of that unnecessary steam I’ve been holding in. I always get excited when I’m on my way to a concert because I know for about four hours I’m going to be able to not be worried, not let anxiety get the best of me. I don’t have to think about my responsibilities, worries and pressures. You can just check your brain at the door and go buck wild. This is your moment, yours to just live and enjoy, even if it’s for a limited time. I always feel amazing leaving concerts because I finally feel what it’s like to just be happy. Pure happiness in all it’s glory. It truly is an amazing feeling. And as much as I can get this from all the shows I see, I feel it will never compare to how Sam Cooke’s show was back in 1963. If this recording says anything is that, and remember this does come down to personal taste and you might disagree due to many factors, this is debateably one of the greatest live shows to ever occur. If you disagree with that, at least you can’t deny that this is definitely one of the greatest performances to ever occur.

Damn it, Sam Cooke, where have you been all my life?

Song of Choice: Feel It

-Bosco

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1001 Albums: A Christmas Gift For You

#37

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Artist: Phil Spector

Album: A Christmas Gift For You

Year: 1963

Length: 34: 12

Genre: Christmas

 

 

“The world is your snowball, see how it grows,
That’s how it goes, whenever it snows.
The world is your snowball just for a song,
Get out and roll it along!”

 
What? Fucking what? A Christmas Album? Why is there a Christmas Album? Why am I listening to a goddamn Christmas album in fucking March? As if I’m not already subjected to this nonsense way too damn early in freaking November, it has to come back to plague me nowhere near Christmas? Dear Lord, what is happening? Why is this here? CAN SOMEONE TELL ME WHY???

Christmas music… as if we couldn’t get enough of the same tunes being done over a thousand times by every artist, I now have to sit through 35 minutes of old school Christmas music. Don’t get me wrong (or do, I don’t care) I enjoy a good Christmas tune, especially when it’s around the holiday it’s meant to be part of. I don’t understand why malls and stores start playing this stuff right as Halloween ends. You don’t even get a chance to put away your costume and you’re already met with Christmas tunes blasting through the radio. I wouldn’t mind this, but my dad LOOOOOVES this stuff and can’t wait until the fire log channel appears and he keeps it on… alll dayyyyyy. Well, if I am going to endure it, I will do it with my best Christmas Spirit. Santa hat on head, red and green tights on legs, red converse on feet and ugly Christmas sweater on chest. I am good to go.

But wait… the hot chocolate… don’t forget the hot chocolate!!!!

Fuck off, I have my peppermint mocha latte ready…. it’s delicious… slurp.

Honestly, when the Holidays come around, this is the Christmas music I want to hear. It embodies the spirit and feeling of the holiday so damn well. It’s exactly what you want during Christmas: Cheery, Happy, Joyful, Fucking FUN!!! What the hell happened to all the damn Christmas music? When did it become so damn slow and depressing? I don’t think I’ve ever heard a rendition of White Christmas that actually felt energized.

Speaking of which, I never got that song… Maybe it’s because I live in a place where we experience a very snowy (very… snowy) Christmas, that the song never quite made sense to me. I mean, the blanket of snow outside is beautiful but it’s damn infuriating and cold. WHY WOULD ANYONE WANT SNOW!????? Did you ever have to clean your car out of a snowbank? I have, it’s the worst. THE WORST!!! You know how difficult it is to drive on snow? ON ICE?!?! VERY! Try walking through a snowstorm, you can’t see for shit with all the snow pellets blasting you in the face. You think we shut down after a snow storm? No, everything is still fucking open. Schools, jobs, offices, malls… everything stays open. Unless the snowstorm is big enough to create a major power outage you can guarantee you’re going to work (or school, mine was never closed). This idea of a snow day is literally that, a regular day… but with SNOW! and tons of it. Thankfully, these past few years the weather ha been crappy and we have been experiencing warm winters. Sure, I miss the look of the snow, especially around Christmas, but I definitely don’t miss the HELL!

Also, it’s cold… so damn cold. Bone-chilling cold. I would trade with Florida any day of the week (minus the mosquitos of course… please no).

Where was I? Oh yeah.

This is basically what Christmas music should be like. I’m getting really annoyed that when Christmas comes around I can’t have music that gets me in the mood. Instead I get these sad ballads of sad Christmases and slowed-down, mo-town covers of our favourite songs and the GODDAMN LITTLE DRUMMER BOY!!!!! Seriously, if I have to listen to another Christmas song about some mother with cancer who wants shoes or how I won’t be home for Christmas, boo-fucking-hoo or dreams of a good Christmas like I used to have but don’t now because I’m a raging alcoholic and life sucks sometimes, I’m gonna lose it. Why did these songs become so depressing all of a sudden? Did someone go, “Hey, you know what Christmas needs? Sadness and lots of it”. Jesus Christ (Happy Birthday by the way, dude).

You know what my favourite recent Christmas song is? You’ll be very surprised because it easily gets lost in the plethora of Michael Buble covers and tearjerking Christmas songs. It’s the fucking Spongebob Christmas Special song.

This one:

 

Yeah, Yeah, I know it’s stupid. But it does something most newer Christmas songs aren’t doing. It’s actually capturing the vibe and feel of what Christmas is. It goes through every cliche known to man and packs in a fun box topped with a cheerful bow. It may not be great but by God is it ever fucking fun. BRING THE FUN BACK IN CHRISTMAS MUSIC!

Maybe I’ve grown to be a little cynical when it comes to Christmas music. I mean, I am and adult now and I’ve realised the holiday season doesn’t really capture me like it used to. The magic is kind of gone for me. I remember being a kid and being surrounded by everything Christmas. Doing the Christmas play at school, singing all the carols in class, in the car, at home, consuming all the Christmas specials on tv, watching the house be decorated with a ton of Christmas decors. THE TREE! The village under the tree. My dad’s cookies, the fireplace, the stockings. THE FREAKING ITALIAN CHRISTMAS DINNER THAT MY MOM COOKS! NINE FREAKING COURSES FOR THREE PEOPLE! COME ON!

Things aren’t the same anymore. These years I barely even notice it’s the Holidays until it’s the actual day of Christmas. Then it zooms by so quickly I felt like I didn’t get to experience it at all. Other than the food and some decorations, things have changed. We don’t use a real tree anymore, the village is gone, it’s illegal to sue the fireplace. Working full time, I don’t have time to watch the specials and other than when I’m home or in the mall, I don’t get the music the way I’d like… Christmas is just not the same anymore, but I do get my family time in, which that’s all that matters to me.

Recent years I’ve been getting into Christmas Techno music to take me away from the rest. You’ll come to learn that I’m an energized guy who lvoes energized things that keep me dancing and moving. It’s fun, I like to be happy and have fun, sue me.

This is what I’m talking about:

Always manages to put a smile on my face. D-D-D-DROP THE BASS. Fucking ridiculous haha.

Speaking of ridiculous, I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus is one disturbing song. Here’s this kid, stumbling on his mom being a cheating whore, kissing some fat piece of shit in their living room, and he/she is giggling  heir ass off in their naive stupidity. How cute and innocent, eh? “What a laugh it would have been, if daddy had only seen”, Oh yeah nothing screams hilarious fun during the holidays like you’re dad catching your mom cheating and the ensuing divorce that will occur. Fantastic. Maybe this actually makes me love this song more.

I realise I’ve really tracked away from the album itself, but what can I really say about it? it’s a Christmas album… filled with Christmas music we’ve heard so many times. It makes sense I’d go off on a tangent because I can’t really talk about this album without mentioning any other Christmas music since it’s all part of one big mix. They’re practically interchangeable, same songs, different styles.

I guess this particular album really set the standard of what we know as Christmas music today. A lot of people cited this has very influential for the sound itself and even acknowledged Phil Spector on his technique known as The Wall of Sound. Basically he tried to create the perfect sound that would emit through radios and players and it required using a rather large orchestral ensemble to do that. The Wall of Sound would create  backdrop of music that all together would sound amazing, but you wouldn’t be able to hear the individual instruments playing. They would blend together seamlessly creating… a wall of sound. It’s true, other than a few moments of obvious sounds, it’s really hard to distinguish exactly what’s going on in the background of the Singer’s vocals. This technique would be praised by The Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson who would even call this album, yes this Christmas album, his favourite album of all time, just to add to the musical anomaly that is Brian Wilson.

Phil Spector really did something magical with this album and there’s a nice moment right at the end where he actually takes the time to thank you for letting him give this gift to you. Usually I don’t like that in albums, but here it seemed to fit the spirit of the holiday, the idea of giving thanks and showing appreciation. Especially since it was supported by Silent Night playing in the background. Unusual, yet nice way to end the album. There’s this nice, serene quality to his speech that makes you feel warm, almost like father Christmas himself tucking you to bed.

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Yes, definitely a man I want tucking me into bed… very grandfatherly… not a murderer at all. Nope… no murders here… He definitely didn’t murder any actresses or anything… he just made delightful Christmas music… right… right? Oh god….

Song of Choice: Parade of the Wooden Soldiers

-Bosco

P.s. That hair though, damn son.

P.P.S also, this was one of those weird times where Spotify had the album but for whatever reason didn’t have one song. Seriously, go check it out, the first song is grayed out… One of the few times I will have to go check out an album on youtube. Oh well.

 

 

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1001 Albums: The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan

# 36

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Artist: Bob Dylan

Album:The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan

Year: 1963

Length: 50:04

Genre: Folk

 

 

“Yes, how many times can a man turn his head
Pretending he just doesn’t see?
The answer my friend is blowin’ in the wind
The answer is blowin’ in the wind”

From one musical icon to the next. Although, this time around I have much nicer words to share about Mr. Bobby Dylan than I did with The Beatles. Don’t worry, I won’t be making any ridiculous comparisons this time and I’ll keep Mr. Bobbity Bobby Boo Dylan in tact. I actually had finished this album a few days ago, but took awhile to getting around to writing this post (for reasons I’ll get to soon). The main reason was the length of the album, which I was surprised to see was about 50 minutes long, sure as hell didn’t feel that way, felt like I zoomed through it (which is funny because it took me multiple listenings to finally get through it).

The first instance, which got me through about three songs, was followed up with some channel surfing. We stumbled upon Forrest Gump and it was the scene in the bar where Jenny sings Blowin’ in the Wind, basically naked, with only her guitar covering her. The coincidence of this was too much for me and I figured this was a sign. A sign for what? I’m really not sure, hard to tell exactly what the universe was trying to tell me. I kept talking about how naked she was and Sandra was having none of it.

“If you want to see her naked that bad, go on the Internet, I’m sure you can find her naked somewhere. Come on, Jonathan”

I’m a simple man, what can I say, but a greater power was not really telling me anything other than damn, what a coincidence. Maybe it was Bobbylini Dylan’s philosophical nature that rubbed off on me from that song and I was looking way too much into it all, but I can guarantee I immediately forgot about it after we stumbled upon Lumberjack Olympics (Basically muscly, sweaty men wielding axes and chopping wood in competitive style) and that just intrigued me way more than any coincidence could.

It’s funny, the opposite effect actually occured when entering this album than The Beatles one. For the most part, everyone knows my relationship with Folk music. I respect it, but I don’t like it, never did. I could never get into folk music and for the most part I always find myself bored listening to it. It’s purely a personal taste. I can definitely see why people love it and get into, I just, for whatever reason, never could.

I, obviously, knew of Bobby Booby Dylan and for the longest time always made an effort to sort of avoid him. I’ll be honest I was very judgemental when it came to it and I did have an ex who loved him a ton (which didn’t help since our musical preferences clashed horribly, so it made me associate Bobilobba Ding Dong Dylan with that). My initial feeling was, I was not going to enjoy it and went in with that.

I was wrong, so terribly and happily wrong. Whereas The Beatles I went in with the attitude that I’m listening to the greatest band in the world and being disappointed, this time I went in thinking I won’t enjoy it and found myself loving it. Yes, believe it or not, I loved a folk album. I was engaged and stuck the whole way through, Bobbity boopity boppity Dylan’s cynical lyrics and cheerful guitar playing resonating with me more than I expected to. I didn’t think I’d be immersed as much I was in a Bob Bob the Bob Dylan’s music, but I was, I really was. Shocking I know (for those who know me, for those who don’t… be shocked for the sake of it).

So, I’m going to have a moment of honesty and, I guess, Vulnerability right here. Remember when I said it took me awhile to get myself to write this post? Well, the main reason for that was because I was actually scared to write it. Yeah. Every other post I was always ready to jump in and get it going, even when I was saying things I knew people would disagree with in the last post. This one, I just couldn’t get myself to sit and write it. It was strange, but I understood why (having grown to understand my fears and feelings and be able to pinpoint the root cause of it all). The main reason was because I felt I wouldn’t be able to give this album justice. I can’t really talk about folk music, which after the very underwhelming and pretty lackluster post I wrote on Joan Baez, I knew I would have a difficult time writing about this one, which sort of created a wall for me. It was odd because for the most part I was always able to crank something out, especially when I had no idea what I was talking about (most of the jazz albums), but this… Mr. BOB DYLAN made me nervous. Maybe because he’s such a big icon, I don’t know.

But the writing must go on, not going to give up because things get tough. This is not only for my readers but mostly for me, gotta just sit down and do it. So, I’ll do my best. here goes nothing….

This is a damn good album. If I could summon the perfect words to talk about it, I would, but for now I’ll have to go with my limited vocabulary. All these years I didn’t give Bobby Robby Dylan a chance and I’ll admit it was unfair of me to think so negatively of him when I didn’t even know him. It’s hard to make an album that at once is incredibly sad but still feels happy, but by-god he managed to do that. That’s really the vibe of the entire album, it’s bittersweet from start to finish. The cheerful guitar playing never distracts from the sadder, philosophical, cynical and at times political lyrics, but rather supports it in an incredibly beautiful way.

From what I gathered, this was the album that showed the world that Bobbin’ Dylan was a poet and it cemented him as a songwriter who wrote lyrics with substance and depth. It blew him up from young folk singer to Folk Icon and he even became recognised as the spokesperson for all the disaffected youth in America (even though he would go on to hate this title and try to stray away from it).

Whether he liked it or not, there was no denying he tapped into the minds of the young adults of his generation. His first intention may have been to write music that showed his feelings and fears of the world around him, but without realising he was actually voicing what everyone was feeling. He may not have wanted the title but his material managed to resonate with everyone around him. He was the voice they needed, even if he didn’t want it. It doesn’t end there either. His writing style was vague enough that it made the songs incredibly timeless. A lot of the songs on this album are arguably more relevant and poignant today than they were back in 1963.

Oxford Town came to mind, telling the story of a brown-faced boy and the discrimination he was facing. The ambiguous ending of a fight and two dead leaves a lot to the imagination to the fate of our protagonist and oddly still fits here today in 2017. With everything happening in the world, a story of a brown-faced boy facing dangerous discrimination in small town USA seems to be appropriate as a modern day “protest song”. With fears of the other being strong in North America and my best friend being a brown man (who I can guarantee is definitely some delicious milk chocolate to me) it struck a slight chord with me. My best friend isn’t muslim but with the rampant fear that’s growing and growing, it can easily happen that someone could judge him too quickly and who knows what could happen. It’s a scary world we’ve come to and I hope it will be kind to him.

Although, is life really ever kind to anyone? Not really.

I really don’t want to get political with this (especially since in general, I’m not a political person. I usually keep those ideas to myself and never get involved). But it’s hard not to with Bobbin’ For Apples Dylan. He basically popularized the protest song and brought it to the mainstream. There was no other man who could sit down at a concert, with a devil-may-care attitude, and spout political lyrics to a mass audience. At least not in those days. I feel it’s a safe bet to say that Bobber Robber Dylan was amongst the first punks to hit the music scene. Yeah, Punk way before punk was even a thing yet. If you think about it, he basically was. It doesn’t sound like the Punk we’ve grown to accept as the punk genre, but the ideology and attitude of one was definitely there and if you don’t believe me, just listen to Master of War and you definitely feel that biting commentary punks would adapt in their lyrics.

There’s so many highs in this album, I actually feel like I could write an article for each one. But I won’t… at least not anytime soon. Who knows, I might revisit this album one day to give each song a proper look at, but for now, I’ll keep it brief because I still have about 964 albums to get through.

I had forgotten that he was the mastermind behind Blowin’ in the Wind. If you also didn’t know that, it’s totally ok, because Peter, Paul and Mary were the ones that had the hit on their hand with it and it’s most often associated with them. Having heard the two I can say, their version was definitely more accessible, but it doesn’t hit that level of cycnicism that Bob’s Burgers Dylan delivers. Theirs may have sounded pretty, but Bob’s delivery of the lyrics has a much more genuine feel to it as if you can hear him actually contemplating these questions with no answers and sighing at the misery of the world, fed up yet still going because there isn’t really much he can do. It’s more powerful than you’d expect.

It doesn’t end there (of course not). His song Talkin’ World War III Blues leaves quite an impact and has the same effect that Oxford Town had. It’s funny how this song from 1963 feels way more relevant today as we seemingly inch closer and closer to the possibility of World War III. When Bob wrote this, it was during the Cold War and fear of nuclear war was damn strong. Everyone felt like the world would just blow up at any second. It never happened, thankfully, but damn is that fear just getting stronger and stronger as every day goes by. We all feel it to some extent and at one point or another we have all wondered what would happen if it did. The song was a ramblin’ style song, that he improvised and just sort of ranted about his feelings of it all, but once again, he managed to speak what everyone was thinking and I don’t think he ever thought his words would feel relevant to a young 24 year old 54 years later. When he sings about imagining what the world would be like as the lone survivor and asking others that he’ll put them in his dream if they put him in theirs couldn’t have been more relateable to me, even if it tried. We are all the main characters in each of our stories, and when the world goes down, we would all like to think we’re the ones who would survive and come out alive and well. Unfortunately, we don’t know what will happen, so we only hope that we’re still a part of it in the grand scheme of things. I know I do.

As I said before, Bob Xavier Dylan managed to capture a bittersweet vibe throughout the entire album. Like the song before where he was rambling on about his fears of nuclear war, he still managed to make it feel more upbeat than it really was. For me, the standout song that beautifully captured this vibe to perfection was Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right. One of the few love songs on the album, it was everything every love song should aspire to be. Love songs are tricky to write, they can easily enter the “Lovey gooey cheesy” territory and the “I’m whiny and sad, break-up” territory. Bob 2 Casale Dylan draws the line in the middle somewhere and walks it masterfully. This is one of the best love songs I have ever experienced and what really sets it apart is both Dylan’s lyrics and his delivery and tone. Lyrically the whole song has the singer wallowing ins elf-pity about his break-up. It goes through the regular points you’d expect, some pointing and blaming, some sad revelations, the whole “I’m like this because of you, we could have had it all” type of stuff, but it’s completely turned on it’s head when he utters the title: “But don’t think twice, It’s all right”. Simple, but packs a punch. It doesn’t matter how angry, sad, upset he is about the break-up. It doesn’t matter if he growls, spits, yells, cries the lyrics. He’s having a hard time with it, but he’s also accepted it. Telling his love that she has made her decision and shouldn’t look back on it is one hell of a thing to admit and accept, especially in heartbreak. You’d never see Adele and Taylor Swift sing something like that (especially since they’re always so hung up about their exes). This is an incredibly mature and adult break-up. He reminds us that break-ups are two-sided and the singer is not the only person going through it. We often forget that the person doing the breaking is also someone who has feelings and made the decision for a reason, but it’s easy tog et lost in our own emotions feeling our sadness is above theirs for being on the receiving end of the break-up. He takes her decision into consideration and basically tells her not to change her mind just because he’s feeling a certain way. What really brings the song to perfection is the cheery guitar playing that counter-acts the sad acceptance in the lyrics, bringing that bittersweet feeling that supports the theme of the song. Without it it may have been another sad song, but being bittersweet is exactly what the song was going for and he did it incredibly well.

I never thought I’d be this into Bob Dylan but I’m happy I finally got around to listening to him. I can admit that I was wrong all these years and it’s one of the few moments that I am happy to be wrong.

Does this change my feelings toward folk music in general? Not really, I still find folk music hard to sit through, but at least I have a taste of it that I could hold on my tongue.

Or ears… music, you know?

Song of Choice: Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right

-Bosco

P.s. If you’re wondering, the Bob Dylan nicknames wasn’t intentional, I just started doing them and couldn’t stop. I have no reason or explanation for them, it just came to me in the moment and I went with it. So there.

 

 

 

 

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1001 Albums: With The Beatles

# 35

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Artist: The Beatles

Album: With The Beatles

Year: 1963

Length: 32:24

Genre: Rock Pop / British Invasion

 

 

“She’s got the devil in her heart
No she’s an angel sent to me”

Brace yourself, I’m about to say something completely controversial. I don’t think you the reader are ready for what I have to say. I mean, I’m terrified of saying it because we live in a time where having differing opinions is apparently a bad thing and you can easily get shit on for being in the minority of it. So make sure you’re in complete control here before I say it. are you good? You sure? Ok, here it goes…

I’m not a fan of The Beatles.

Yeah, I know. Horrible. How could I not be a fan of the greeeeeaaatest band to ever walk the earth? Do I not know music? Am I stupid or something? It’s the Beatles how can anyone not love The Beatles just because they’re the freaking Beatles?

It’s absolutely crazy I know, practically blasphemous that I would say such a thing. Me, not a fan of The Beatles. I can already picture people foaming at the mouth for having heard me say that (and believe me I’ve seen it happen to as if The Beatles are completely immune to criticism just because they are The Beatles, give me a break). So before you raise your torches and pitchforks, let me explain.

I am not a fan of The Beatles and it’s not for lack of trying. Believe me I’m very familiar with their music. I know their catalogue. My dad has this large compilation CD of The Beatles he used to play on repeat a lot when I was a kid, so trust me, I am not in the dark when it comes to their music. So you can’t tell me I haven;t given them a chance. Heck just last year I listened to their entire discography from their first album to their last, I’ve heard it all.

I am not a fan of The Beatles, but I don’t dislike them.

Wait, what?! You… but you just said… I… WHAT?!

Yeah, confused you there? That’s right, I don’t dislike them, I do think they’re a fun band and I do find myself singing along to their songs when they come on. I will never actively seek out their songs to listen to, but if they are playing I won’t mind and cans till enjoy them. I think they’re good, but are they best? Probably not. Who is? Well that’s an impossible question to answer, and who knows I might get a bunch of us together and try to answer it, but for now let’s talk Beatles.

Some people might be confused at this point. How is it that controversial that I like them but am not a fan? Big whoop I’m not a fan, right? At least I still respect them and can understand why people are fans. You would think it was that simple. But meet anyone who has jumped hardcore onto the Beatles bandwagon and you’ll see how quickly they get defensive and attack you for simply not being a fan. As if you have two choices, either be a hardcore fan because they can’t comprehend why people have their own tastes and opinions on things or you hate them and you’re an idiot who doesn’t know music. Now, I’d like to believe you reading this are not one of these people and you’re a rational human being who can understand that we may not all disagree on things and can respectively talk about why some of us may or may not like things. If you are, fantastic, I love you. But, these other people exist in the many… let’s hope I haven’t struck a nerve with them.

If ever there’s an album of theirs that pushes me away rather than pulls me closer, it would probably be this one. If it was great in the 60s, then I can safely say it has aged horribly. For people calling The Beatles the greatest band on Earth, I would not suggest showing non-fans this album as a starting point, because it’ll be a major disappointment.

“Really? This is it?”

This album doesn’t have much to offer both musically and lyrically. It’s pure pop rock music that is simple and accessible and for the most part, easy on the ears of the casual listener.

HERESY! I hear you say.

Well, don’t believe me just watch.

(I am not including a pic of Bruno Mars)

Here’s the lyrics to the song that opens the album:

“It won’t be long yeah, yeah, yeah
It won’t be long yeah, yeah, yeah
It won’t be long yeah, till I belong to you
Every night when everybody has fun
Here am I sitting all on my own
It won’t be long yeah, yeah, yeah
It won’t be long yeah, yeah, yeah
It won’t be long yeah, till I belong to you
Since you left me, I’m so alone
Now you’re coming, you’re coming on home
I’ll be good like I know I should
You’re coming home, you’re coming home
Every night the tears come down from my eyes
Every day I’ve done nothing but cry
It won’t be long yeah, yeah, yeah
It won’t be long yeah, yeah, yeah
It won’t be long yeah, till I belong to you
Since you left me, I’m so alone
Now you’re coming, you’re coming on home
I’ll be good like I know I should
You’re coming home, you’re coming home
So every day we’ll be happy I know
Now I know that you won’t leave me no more
It won’t be long yeah, yeah, yeah
It won’t be long yeah, yeah
It won’t be long yeah, till I belong to you, woo”

Brilliant. Truly the words of high-grade poets. I’ll give credit to them though, as their albums went on they definitely improved their song writing and wrote lyrics that actually had some effort put into them. Unfortunately, we’re not on those albums, we’re on this one.

Look at it. It’s incredibly repetitive (which I guess helped getting their songs stuck in people’s heads), way too simplistic (I’m alone because you’re not here… brilliant once again) and honestly, doesn’t really leave a lasting impression as a song. You would think this is an exception to the album, but it isn’t. This perfectly sets up what you’re in for the entire album as each song basically copies this pop lyrical formula of simple themes and repetitive words.

But you have to remember this, at this point The Beatles were still in their early stages, merely a pop sensation that was sweeping the nation. they hadn’t grown into their actual talent yet and were still just trying to make hits to get noticed and appease their large female fan base who probably just wanted to hear the cute boys sing about how much they loved them. It was capitalising on puppy love and I guess they did that very well. It wasn’t time for them to experiment just yet.

Actually, while I’m on the subject, why don’t I make another controversial statement, or in this case more of an observation. This one will probably get more people against me and start using them fighting words. This observation is what has made me understand why I can’t get into the Beatles as much as most people, especially when it comes to their early albums. Are you ready?

I believe that Justin Bieber is the modern day equivalent of The Beatles… to a certain extent.

There you go, I know I’m going to be tarred and feathered for that one. Time to get the mob out and lynch me. But give me a second here. I just made a bold statement here, I at least should be given the chance to explain it.  He is the modern equivalent to The Beatles… to a certain extent. Meaning, there are a lot of similarities between the two, but also few big differences, which I will get into. But first let’s look at the similarities.

-Both had music that hit the top of the charts.

-Both had a legion of screaming fan girls that were completely obsessed with them in a creepy way.

-Both could sell out big venues for their shows.

-Both had simple lyrics with simple ideas of love, girls, loving you, don’t leave me alone, holding hands and yeah, yeah, yeahs.

-Both had stupid haircuts.

-Both can play their own instruments (Justin Bieber can play the drums, piano, guitar and the fucking trumpet).

-Both needed producers to make them sound halfway decent (The Beatles had George Martin to thank, especially for their later sound that people love).

-Both redefined themselves as artists (The Beatles when they went to India and tripped acid and Bieber with his last album, where he tried to show off a more mature side to him. Which believe it or not people accepted as being pretty decent. People I know who hate Bieber actually found themselves saying “It’s not actually not that bad.”)

-Both were apparently nightmares behind the scenes to work with (Bieber goes without saying thanks to the media, but there’s tons of stories of The Beatles being childish and immature behind the scenes and just, overall, difficult people to work with).

So there’s no denying that the two had some pretty large similarities. You might find it hard to accept, but the similarities in a lot of ways are pretty striking. But now for the differences, and this is where I’ll win you back probably.

Other than the obvious one that The Beatles were a whole band that actually wrote their own music, there’s the one big difference that really separates them:

Historically The Beatles made an impact and Bieber didn’t. Years from now people will remember Bieber as this one off pop sensation that came and left and hey that was a thing, while The Beatles made a lasting impression to the point that people still talk about them today, still love them today, are still listening to all their songs and know them by heart.

If their early albums were just some simple pop rock, then why is it they made such an impact? Here’s what I think: They were a product of being in the right place at the right time. The Beatles were big not because they were a pop sensation (although that helped) but because they were also new and fresh. The idea of a boy band wasn’t really known and especially since rock n’ roll was still developing, The Beatles had a sound that sounded completely different than what the American Audiences were used to. Remember, The Beatles playing on the Ed Sullivan show was what opened the door to the British Invasion in the US. People tuned to their TV’s and saw these four cute boys, who were incredibly tight as a band (from already playing together for years) and were laying a style of rock they had never really heard before. People’s ears exploded with glee. Step aside Elvis, these were the guys we needed to hear. And although they weren’t the best (The Who, Rolling Stones, Yardbirds definitely had more artistic integrity than they did), they were the first to reach the American airwaves.

And that’s really what this album is, a product of it’s time, historically a milestone in American music. This was their first album released in the US and already sold over half a million copies before it was even released. Justin Bieber may have sold as much, but he will never go down in history like The Beatles did for the main reason that Bieber wasn’t anything new. The idea of the boy band and pop icon goes way, way back, and although some have managed to make an impact, like Michael Jackson, King of Pop, most have fallen through the cracks (Backstreet Boys and N’Sync, come to mind?). They weren’t really doing anything new, just copying what made their “ancestors” so great and that is why they didn’t leave a mark like The Beatles did.

So, I’ll give you this, you can have their later work as arguments to why they’re so great. You can have your Revolver, Sargeant Pepper, Abbey Road, White Album and Let it Be. But there’s no denying With The Beatles is pure pop rock that is truly a product of it’s time that hasn’t aged well at all. Heck, they’re best songs off this album are covers… so they can’t even be credited for writing those.

But I do have a lot of respect for them, they grew as musicians and artists, really got themselves to a high standard and kept pushing to be better and better, which is an admirable thing. A lot of artists kind of get stuck in the same loop of their own music, but The Beatles tried to do away with their old teeny bopper pop music and grow into more mature sounds and lyrics.

So I may not be a fan, but I can see why they’re as big as they are.

Except this album… god.

Song of Choice: Roll Over Beethoven

-Bosco

 

 

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1001 Albums: Night Life

#34

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Artist: Ray Price

Album: Night Life

Year: 1963

Length: 37:36

Genre: Country

 

 

“When the evening sun goes down you will find me hanging round
Oh the night life ain’t no good life but it’s my life”

I regret what I said in my last post. I realise now the error I have made. I know, I know, I’ll admit I said I wanted change in music. I did. I was growing tired of the same old jazz instrumentals. I wanted to hear something different, break the mold a bit. But when I said that, this is not what I wanted or hoped for. You’re treading dangerous territory here 1001 albums list, very dangerous territory with me. I was hoping for rock or ska or world music or freaking anything but this. But you heard my plea and delivered. Next time I should be more specific.

For those who don’t know, I hate country music. I really do. It’s the only genre of music I cannot stand at all. Even though I have experienced country songs that I did like and said “This is not as bad as I thought it would be”, as a whole I try to avoid it best I can. Heck, I can tolerate folk music more than country, and folk I find boring as all hell. (That being said, it’s purely a personal taste and does not take away from the actual merits of folk music because I still respect it and can see why it’s a great genre that people love). Country on the other hand… I just can’t see it. I don’t get it. It feels like the music of the country hicks who get a kick out of simplicity. That’s harsh I know, but I cannot repeat it enough that I just can’t stand country music. I came close to loving it with Marty Robbins, but the big difference was his added a cowboy, western twang to it that I quite enjoy. Not this… not this at all.

I want to make it very clear before I start that yes, I am incredibly biased when it comes to country music. I’m completely aware that there are people out there who love it and hold it dear to their hearts and can probably argue why it is great. I have not met these people yet. Not one person has sold me country music yet. You like it, even love it? Fantastic! Great! I fucking hate it with a burning passion.

I’ll admit, with enough booze in me I can enjoy the hell out of line dancing, but for a limited time only. What is it with line dancing, especially within the french canadian community, that is so popular? I don’t get it. Everytime I go to a Quebecer wedding, it’s plagued with non-stop country music and just people line dancing the ENTIRE. FUCKING. NIGHT. WHAT THE HELL?! How do they not get tired of repeating the same exact motion over and over again for five goddamn hours. I got to say I do admire the level of dedication that these country lovers have to pure torturous monotony. In all honesty, you should probably never compete in a dance marathon against them, they will never drop or stop as they line-dance to any song that fucking plays.

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Yee-haw, Mother fuckers.

Ok, Ok, enough Bosco. ENOUGH! We are nor here to shit on a perfectly fine, albeit annoying, genre. We are here to talk about Ray Price and his damn album, Night Life. Got it? Ok…

As a whole the album isn’t bad. Sure, I wasn’t crazy about it because I’m not a country lover, but for those who are this is definitely one for them. This came out at a time where Honky Tonk and Country were sort of being drowned out by the new-comers of British Invasion and were having a difficult time staying relevant. This album managed to hit the top of the billboards before there even was a Top Country Billboard (Which says a lot about the genre if they had to make their own damn Billboard chart). But I can see why.

This is a staple of Country music. Everything cliche and stereotype you can think of is in this album. For someone who never listens to country, this album is exactly what you would think country to be. It hits all the usual themes of romance, women, drinking, lonely nights, street corners and heartbreak. Musically it offers the same damn guitar chords over and over, with a corny-ass fiddle playing emotionally along, adding to that cheesy feel that most people dislike about country. Musically it’s so sappy, making you feel this level of melo-drama you see in shitty romance films. It’s not cringey, but you can’t help but want wine with that cheese. When he sings about leaving his lady but not really wanting to because it’s his lady, how can you not feel like telling him to shut up and make up his damn mind already. Heck, you already know what you’re getting into when he opens a song singing about getting loaded on a bottle of gin. fantastic, a drunk women-lover.

I’m doing it again. I said I’d do this with an open-mind, I really did. I gotta try again. Positive Country thoughts…. Ok. I got it.

When I was in University I had a class called Roots of Rock N Roll, which was a fantastic class that exposed me to so many genres and songs I hadn’t experienced before. it really expanded my mind and gave me a butt-load of knowledge about music history. As part of an assignment we had to go visit this country type club that had musicians go up and perform songs (one of whom was our teacher). Cool, he was always playing music in class, so we knew he was damn good. Would be fun.

For the write-up, we had to write about our experience and include the songs that were sung during the performances. Should be easy right? yeah, if we could understand a damn word they were saying.

Every performance basically went like this:

“Ok so now I’m gonna sing a song called I wahnergettbabhatning”

…what? What was the title? What the hell did they say? No worries, the title is always repeated in the chorus, we will be hearing it multiple times.

The singers would repeatedly sing the entire song perfectly clear, every word crisp as day, enunciated beautifully. But when that fucking chorus came along, suddenly they developed this heavy southern drawl that garbled up all the words together and became complete gibberish. Boy did we have a good laugh about that.

I will say this, Ray Price’s southern drawl, which isn’t that strong, actually adds a lot to the performance. It’s hard not to hear country music without it and it does add another layer to the proverbial onion that is country music. Especially when the album starts with him interrupting his song by talking over it and introducing the album to us. Thanks for that Ray, that’s what I was hoping for, three minutes of you telling us about the album and how you made it for us (us being his fans and clearly not me). Thank you for informing me about all the topics you’re going to sing about and thank you for telling me to enjoy it. Don’t patronize me, you bastard. It’s great that this is immediately followed by a repeat fo the song he was talking over, just to make sure we got to hear it in all it’s glory. The album starts with the same exact song played twice. Fucking twice.

Honestly… if I wasn’t paying attention I would have never noticed because stylistically it’s so damn repetitive. There’s absolutely not musical diversity to it, with each song sounding almost exactly alike, played in the exact same style, with some minor differences to make it a different song… I guess. Heck, the way he sings barely changes in tone form song to song and follows the same pattern. I think that’s one of the main reasons I dislike country. It’s heavily formulaic and doesn’t move away from this apparently winning formula. It almost always all sounds the same to me. I have a hard time differentiating between the songs because of how similar they all are. Imagine my excitement when the song “Bright Lights and Blonde-Haired Women” kicked in with something that was actually different. Then imagine my disappointment when it immediately devolved right back into this magic fucking formula it has to follow. Dear god… CHANGE! BE DIFFERENT FOR ONE SONG. It was so hard to choose a song of choice because all the damn songs sound the fucking same.

I’ve done it again. I can’t seem to help myself when it comes to Country… I’m sure there’s something I’m just not quite grasping or understanding or… getting. Maybe it’s just me, my ears aren’t in tune to country music and for all I know each song is it’s own unique specimen and I’m completely crazy that I just can’t hear it. Maybe Country music lovers are on a whole different level than us haters when it comes to listening. Ray Price is a completely charismatic dude and plays and sings damn well… so there must be something I just can’t hear… right?

Until then though my feelings won’t change. I still fucking hate country music.

Song of Choice: Night Life

-Bosco

p.s. In case you were wondering, the company I work for ended up winning that Oscar! Pretty awesome.

 

 

 

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1001 Albums: Jazz Samba

# 33

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Artist: Stan Getz and Charlie Byrd

Album: Jazz Samba

Year: 1962

Length: 33:12

Genre: Bossa Nova

 

 

“Instrumental jazz type music”

So, I have some interesting news. Ok, it’s not really news but it’s not really a story either… interesting tidbit? Well the interesting tidbit sets up a little story… if that helps. No? Oh…

Either way. This Sunday is the Oscars and excitingly enough, the company I work for is nominated for one! That’s not my point, but because of it this whole week has been dedicated to the Oscars with a big, fancy type party thrown this evening. Nothing new with that since there’s a festivity every last Friday of the month anyway, but this particular one had a little more worth to it. Anyway, the week has been full of Oscar related activities, from a pub quiz to an Oscar statue sculpting contest. Being the good organizers they are, they saved the best one for last: Celebrity look alike competition.

Being the ever participating… participant I am, I wanted to enter into it! One problem: I had no idea who my celebrity look alike was. That’s a bit of an issue, you kind of have to look like someone to be able to contend. This became more a search to find who I looked like rather than actually being in the competition. My curiosity grew as I tried to figure out who it was, and it wouldn’t be satisfied until I do. I had to, I just had to.

Luckily, Thursday night, literally hours before the next day would start, it happened. The Discovery. There was a collective agreement from my co-workers, friends, parents and Sandra: I looked exactly like the guy (with minor differences, but overall the resemblance was pretty striking).

I’ll stop teasing. My celebrity look a like was Bret Mckenzie:

968full-bret-mckenzie

Spitting image.

I donned a white shirt and tie (but still wore jeans and dirty converse. Stayed fancy yet casual at the same time) and got my hair it’s usual curly self. I slammed my best dead-pan face (Only way to imitate the Flight of the Conchords guitarist) and showed everyone a photo of him (Because a lot of people had no idea who he was. He’s won on Oscar for christ’s sakes!). The reaction was the same: Holy shit you look exactly like him. I had this in the bag for sure. I was going to win, no way I could lose. Random employees I’ve never talked to stopped me in the halls and told me they hope I win, I looked exactly like him. Today was my day.

I didn’t win. But to be fair the girl that won totally deserved it. Her resemblance to Nicky Nichols from Orange is the New Black was as striking, if not a little more, as my resemblance to Bret. It was tight competition.

I’m glad this happened today otherwise I wouldn’t have had much to say today. Even now as I start to write about the album I find myself struggling to know where to start or how to begin. It’s not that the album was bad, not at all. Actually, I wish it was bad, it would be so easy to write about. I’d be able to just vent how horrible it was and how much I hated it. But I didn’t. I quite liked it. It was a solid album from start to finish, with no low points or dips in quality. Stan Getz plays one mean Tenor Saxophone and holds the music together with his skills. It’s great to finally hear the sax take the front stage after hearing so much trumpet playing. It really has a distinctive sound to it that brings a whole new feel and quality to the music, that I would debate is better than the trumpet (and I really love the trumpet). I always found the saxophone to be like the trumpet’s mature cousin, it was sexier and had a more adult vibe to it, while the trumpet blurted and farted. Miles Davis was cool, but Stan Getz was pretty damn sexy. See the difference? No? Well it makes sense in my head, so tough shit.

I’ll be honest, the reason I’m having so much difficulty here is because it’s just another instrumental album… and it’s jazzy. The beginning of this list seems to have an over-abundance of instrumental jazz music, it’s a jazz aficionados wet dream. I’ve learned through this challenge that I love Jazz with all my heart, but dear lord I need to separate myself from it for some time. Every new jazz album that appeared got me excited, but now I’m sort of dreading it because I have no idea what to say without reiterating myself. It’s the usual list of things:

-It’s great to relax to.

-It’s a great album to just play and let your mind enjoy it subconsciously.

-You get lost in it.

-It’s structured in a non-structured way that won’t make any of the songs stick in your head in a catchy way, but you still get immersed into the music and just let it seep over you like a warm blanket.

Ok that last part I never said (so maybe I do have new things), but it’s really just saying the same thing in different words. And the fact that it’s another instrumental one makes it so much harder. I’m not a musical expert, never claimed to be. I don’t know anything about musical theory, especially not with jazz, so I can never analyse why the music is good on a technical level (except for when my base knowledge comes in handy for certain things). I am merely a person who loves music so much he’s read a shit ton about different genres, bands and styles and wants to expand his knowledge of what’s out there. That being said, it gets hard to talk about instrumental jazz, especially when it’s like the tenth one I hear. By now, it all kind of sounds the same to me, even though I’m aware that it’s not.

I found this album underwhelming as a whole. I went in expecting to hear something different and got exactly what I was told: Jazz Samba. I find it funny how literal the title is. It’s basically telling you exactly what you’re going to get. It’s like if Miles Davis called his album “Cool Jazz” or The Beatles called their album “British Invasion” or if Led Zeppelin called theirs “Hard Rock” (Although to be honest that would have been fine, since they were too lazy to even name their fucking albums (Seriously three Self-titled albums then an Untitled one? Too hard to come up with an album name? Please)). I guess I can’t complain, they tell you what you’re in for, what you see is what you’ll get kind of deal.

I realise it sounds like I’m being negative towards it, but I really did enjoy it. I still found myself tapping my foot, shaking my booty and losing myself to it as I always do. I just want something new for now. Something different.

I will tell you this, there’s a very good reason this appeared on the list. It was more of a historically important album than a quality one. In 1961, Charlie Byrd visited Brazil while on a tour and discovered the jazz scene there, which is also known as Bossa Nova Jazz. Loving it so much, he took the influence it had on him and brought it over to the US where he wrote music for Stan Getz to play. This album would cement itself in music history as it’s impact would be enough to get the Bossa Nova craze started in the US. Yes, it was this album that did that.

I think that’s pretty neat.

Song of Choice: Samba Dees Days

-Bosco

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1001 Albums: Green Onions

# 32

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Artist: Booker T. and the M.G.’s

Album: Green Onions

Year: 1962

Length: 34: 55

Genre: RnB Soul

 

“Funky Soul Organ Melodies”

I’m back! After almost two weeks of not writing any posts or listening to any of the albums, I have finally returned. For the five people who read my posts I apologize for the delay and my disappearance. Can’t promise it won’t happen again. Things happen, life happens and it causes you to have to put certain things on hold (Even things you love more than anything). In this case there was a little delay with my album covers (The photoshopped ones), my buddy who does them suddenly got immensely clogged up with midterms and school and just couldn’t get around to doing them (Understandably). This was neither the break I needed nor the break I deserved. So, I decided to relieve some of his stress and let him focus his 100% on his school work and decided to take the reigns as photoshop master. That means the next batch of album covers were actually done by yours truly, sorry. But now I am back and better than ever (because I’m developing my photoshop skills). But… before I move on, I would like to take this opportunity to talk about the unsung hero in my blog.

Julian.

This guy has been my buddy since we were twelve years old, met in first year of high school. Can you believe we’ve known each other for over ten years now? (Whoops my age is showing). When I first started this blog, literally right before I was going to start I had come up with the idea of photoshopping myself into every album. Great idea… but how the hell was I going to manage that when I work a full-time job? I had to do it, I couldn’t do the blog without it, I loved it too much.

In comes Julian. I knew he’d be able to do it, he had the skills and the capabilities. But would he? I pitched the idea to him, which he was reluctant to do, but we tested it out and he was in! Julian would be my photoshop master. And a master he was, cranking out every stupid, absurd idea I threw his way. He did it and delivered every single time with lightning speed and every time I was always so, so happy with the results.

If there’s ever someone I can call reliable, Julian would definitely be number 1 on my list. I mean there’s my parents too, but that just goes without saying. This dude is the most reliable and loyal person I have ever met in my life and I hope he sticks around until the end!

Thanks for all your hard work, dude!

Ok, now on to the album.

Green Onions. Fucking Green Onions, man. The name of the song is probably way more famous than the song itself (which I realise makes absolutely no sense, but let me explain). Everyone knows the name. You ask anyone if they know green onions and there’s a good chance they’ll say they do. Unless you ask my mom, then she’ll start talking about soup.

Green-Onion-Soup.jpg mmm… green onion soup.

But ask them to sing it and they might draw a blank, especially since the song doesn’t have any lyrics so that was a trick question and it was stupid of you to even ask it.

But seriously, most people I’ve talked to have all heard the song, but can’t seem to remember the melody at all. Everytime I go to sing it I struggle to remember how it goes, but I know it’s there, somewhere in the back of my head.

Ok… maybe it’s a problem I face, but my point stands. Everyone has heard about this song in some way for sure. It’s so much bigger than every song on this album that it eclipses the entire album. I didn’t even know it was part of an album and always thought it was just some stand alone single. If I had been told that I would have believed it. But nope, here it is in all it’s glory. Before starting it I was asked “How does the rest of the album stand in comparison to the title track?”. I Responded: “I don’t know, I haven’t listened to it yet.”

But now I have and can answer your question.

The album is pretty damn good. So good it came close to being my current favourite. Yeah, that hasn’t happened yet. Didn’t quite make it, but definitely in the current top 5. It’s a funky, soul-popping, dancy, cool freaking album. There’s never a low moment in it and manages to keep the listener engaged for the entire run.

What I liked, especially in comparison to the other instrumental albums I listened to, was how melodic it was. It was definitely the most out of all of them and had a catchy feel to it that can actually stick in your head. Compared to a lot of the free-form styles of previous instrumental albums, this one felt fresh. These were definitely some solid tracks that should get more recognition than they currently have, especially with the title track completely overshadowing them. Which is a real shame because they deliver on every aspect.

The tracks have a perfect blend of danceable beats (Twist and Shout), cool vibes (Green Onions) and funky chords (You can’t sit down). Just when you were relaxed, the album throws a jammin’ beat your way and you can’t help but get up and dance. You were right “You can’t sit down”, I couldn’t… mostly because I was waiting for the bus when you came on and there was nowhere to sit… but hey! I danced!

It’s really easy to see why this album was a big deal. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if this played a major influence in developing the funk genre and groups like Herbie Hancock or even Earth, Wind and Fire borrowed a page from Booker T and the MG’s to create their sound. You can already hear it on this album, it may not be funk but there’s definitely funk elements to it that pioneered the would-be genre. If it didn’t pioneer it, it defintiely left an impression on the people who did.

To call this album soul is a bit of an understatement. There’s so much soul pouring out every single song that you can feel the band really connecting with not only themselves but their instruments as well. From Steve Cropper plucking away at his guitar to Al Jackson beating the drum with tremendous glee, you can see they were truly feeling the music throughout.

The real hero of the album is, of course, the organ. That freaking organ, bubbling and gurgling away, really brings the whole album together. The rest of the band is strong but it just wouldn’t be what it is without Booker T’s organ playing selling it all. The melodies he creates throughout are enough to leave a lasting impression on you. Even when he’s busting out an instrumental version of the vocal tracks from Twist and Shout ( a Beatles cover that they manage to make even more fun and danceable than the original) it really adds another level to the music itself. There’s not much else to say but damn that organ is fucking sweet.

This whole album really had a summer music feel to it for me. It’s the kind of album you play during a summer’s day as it compliments the feel to it so well. From getting up and dancing to cruising in the car with your sunglasses on because you’re a cool cat like that, to even just strutting your stuff down the street (people do that right? No… of course they don’t, but we all do it in our heads). The point is there’s a lot of warmth to this album, which is surprising seeing how damn cool it is. It’s hard not to have a swagger in your step when listening to it and even if you’re not walking, it definitely manges to have you toe-tapping.

If I had one problem with this album it was that sometimes the songs fade out way too soon. This album as a whole felt way too short. I was surprised when I saw I was on the last song and thought to myself “That’s it?”. I wanted more, way more. Even with certain songs I felt like they weren’t given enough time to truly be enjoyed. Right when you were getting into it, OH! It fades out and it’s over… what? WHY?! NO SONG COME BACK! COME BAAAAAACCCCCCCKKK!!! Thankfully every song was just as great as the last, so the feeling was there for merely seconds, but it could have been a little longer.

Just scrolled back up and saw the picture of soup… shouldn’t have done that because now I’m hungry. Did you know there’s actually a way to tell the difference between green onions and scallions? Yeah, the things you learn when searching the word green onions. Although, hat being said, the song is actually more popular than the vegetable as it appears number one on google search. That’s right, green onions the song is bigger than green onions the vegetable. Let that little tidbit keep you smiling when you’re blue.

Song of Choice: Twist and Shout

-Bosco

P.s. Here’s the link to that scallion and green onion difference thing, for your curiosity:

http://www.thekitchn.com/whats-the-difference-between-spring-onions-scallions-and-green-onions-word-of-mouth-217111

 

 

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1001 Albums: Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music

#31

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Artist: Ray Charles

Album: Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music

Year: 1962

Length: 39:33

Genre: Rhythm and Blues/Country

 

 

“No you don’t know the one
Who dreams of you at night
And longs to kiss your lips
Longs to hold you tight
Oh I am just a friend
That’s all I’ve ever been
‘Cause you don’t know me”

It’s happened to me again. It seems the version of the album I put onto my spotify playlist had a ton of extra songs included with it. I knew something was off when I checked how many songs were coming up and noticed there was an absurd amount compared to every album around it. But then again, I thought it was a possibility, heck there’s an album on this list in 1999 that is 69 songs, wasn’t crazy to think that Ray Charles just made a large album, even if it was unusual for the time.

My questions were answered when I checked it’s length and noticed it was only about 40 minutes. There was no way this many songs was only 40 minutes. It seems Spotify decided to put both vol. 1 and 2 togetehr as one on their site and if you look quickly you wouldn’t notice it. Look, I’m sure volume 2 is worth the time to listen to, but I’m sorry you’re not volume 1 so your place on this list is a little unwarranted and frankly a little intruding. So, I’m sorry volume 2, I will skip over you. But who knows, maybe one day I will come back and see you again… maybe.

I almost didn’t listen to this album when I did, choosing to save it for another day. Not because I was skipping it, I don’t skip any songs, but more the context of what i was doing. I felt I was in a position that I wouldn’t be able to properly listen to it and give it the attention it possibly deserved. But then again, this isn’t about me reviewing the albums, but about me chronicling my journey of listening to them. Two every different things. So I said fuck it and plugged into my Ipod.

Ever have one of those nights that aren’t bad but aren’t good? Overall it’s not a shitty night but more of an annoying one, where a lot of little things happen just to frustrate you, but never really ruin it? That was my night. I still got home feeling good and happy, but the whole trek home was just filled with frustration and some unlucky events.

I had gone out to a bar with some friends after work. Originally I was set on going home and was on my way home, but wouldn’t you know it, I run into some friends entering the metro and they decided to drag me along with them. I do not regret this decision because I always enjoy their company and had a good time.

What I do regret is letting them convince me to stay a little longer and catch my last bus rather than the one before that, which caused me to actually miss the last metro run. As I arrived to catch it, the security was locking the doors. Fantastic. It was odd to me because I had given myself enough time to catch my bus at my metro stop, so why was this closing before giving any of us to catch our last buses? I don’t know, life’s little mysteries.

So, here I was stuck on St-Denis street at 1 in the morning. I had two options: Return to the bar or grab the night bus. My phone was at 10%, I figured I best grab the night bus otherwise my mom would have a stroke wondering if I died or not. Night bus is great because it comes every ten minutes roughly, which is very convenient. Unfortunately for me, this particular occasion the next bus was cancelled and the one after that never showed up, giving me lot’s of time to stand in the cold and wait.

To make matters worse, I had to piss really badly. Four glasses of beer will do that to you. You would think that maybe, just maybe, there’d be one place open that I could sue their bathroom. Nope. This forced me to do one of the things I hate doing most: Public Urination. Not only because it’s a crime but I just don’t feel comfortable doing it at all. I had no choice. When your faced with the option to piss your pants or break the law, I think the latter is the best option. No way I was making my journey home smelling like beer piss.

It was fine, perpendicular to the main street was a small side street with little to no human traffic and even less since it was 1 in the morning. Right next to one of the restaurants I enjoy dining at, there was a small alleyway where they dump their garbage. I figured this would be the best place to piss, the restaurants were long closed, so no employees would be walking out at all and who the fuck would just walk down this alleyway. Plus, I could hide behind the dumpster in case any passes the alley on the street. It was the perfect plan.

It wasn’t. Obviously, I mean Obviously, this alleyway was the perfect place for this random couple to just walk in as I was pissing. I mean, 1 am, no one in sight, dark alleyway behind dumpsters and restaurants, I should have expected there to be people walking by. It was perfectly logical. Whatever, they don’t know me and never will. Shake, zip up, wait for bus, forget experience (sort of)…

I’m sitting on the bus, for what I know will be a long ride. Some young, gay couple are sleepily sitting, looking at their phones. Some fat, black dude sits and happily enjoys his shwarma. A red head girl sits near me, glancing at me every so often. Sorry dude, I’m taken. Some guy walks in with a giant bag of onions… because. A group of guys wearing spring jackets and no hats walk in and make a lot of noise. No idea how they’re not frozen, but it doesn’t matter, I’m plugged into my Ipod, trying my best to understand this Ray Charles album.

I didn’t really get it. The whole bus ride I had the album playing and I just couldn’t figure it out. I was trying to formulate some thoughts on it, listen to it and figure out what made it worthy of being on this list and… I just couldn’t. It’s not a bad album. The music isn’t horrible or anything. But it just didn’t feel like anything that stood out for me.I heard this stuff before on albums in the 50s. A lot of it had a very Frank Sinatra vibe, musically and lyrically, that Sinatra just did better. Ray Charles is a talented guy. he can sing with emotion and can play the piano like no man’s business. But… it didn’t feel like he was really doing anything different here. His piano barely even appeared, which As I said on “Genius of Ray Charles” that’s when he really shined. When it was just him and his piano taking the stage. This was just an entire album of songs similar in style to the opening songs on his last album on the list, the ones I felt were the weakest of the album. You’re a blind pianist for chrissakes, you have the best gift you can ever have, why aren’t you using this to your advantage. The best parts for me were when the piano came in, nice and loud. Every time it did, my heart skipped a beat and my eyes lit up, it was beautiful.

I didn’t get it. Usually I would have done a little research on the album to get a little insight, but my phone was dead, so that was impossible to do.

Anyway, the bus finally arrives to the last stop (yeah, apparently I live far) and I get off to wait for my second night bus. Yes, a second bus, one that wouldn’t come for another 30 damn minutes. There I was waiting for the bus, trying to figure out Ray Charles, freezing in minus god knows what weather. It was cold. I am not exaggerating when I say it was completely fucking cold. Through the jacket and down to the bone. I tried so hard to seek warmth but everything around me was locked. I had to tough it up. It was horrendously cold. Probably the longest 30 minutes I ever had to experience in my life.

You have never seen anyone so happy to be getting onto a bus. I ran with glee onto that bus. I may have scared the bus driver, but I didn’t give a shit. I was warm again! Warmth, beautiful warmth, that last exactly fifteen minutes. And then I got off. This was it, the final stretch of my journey home. Walk ten blocks.

I ran. I ran so hard, almost tripping on the ice-covered sidewalks multiple times. I figured at least I have music playing… oh… battery in Ipod died… fucking great. I ran. I kept going, my goal in sight. It was almost 3 in the morning, I could do this. I will make it home.

Obviously I did, otherwise I wouldn’t be here writing this, but man did it remind me how much I hate staying out late at night and having to endure the inconvenience of making my way home. I’d like to say this won’t happen again, but chances are it will. It will always happen again.

Before my Ipod died, I was able to listen to the entirety of the album (an unawaringly to about five songs on volume 2). Head filled with questions, I needed to figure out this album.

This album has an entire section dedicated to it on it’s cultural impact. Yeah, imagine my surprise when I stumbled upon it. You see, this album did something I didn’t notice, not knowing every single thing about music ever. It was an experiment in genres and styles. Ray Charles did do something new I hadn’t noticed, he dabbled in Country music. Due to his musical style, I never noticed that he was actually reworking old country songs into a rhythm and blues format. This changes the album completely. Had I known that from the beginning, I probably would have thought of it differently, but hey we each have our own experiences. Apparently, this album single-handedly got country music back onto the radar of the masses and future country icons would even cite this album as being hugely influential to them. Yeah… this album made country music popular again… thanks Ray.

My hate for country music aside, he really did something remarkable here. he stripped away any semblance of the country style and completely remade each song into something widely different to it’s original counterparts. We have all heard covers before, but for the most part covers don’t stray to far away from the original. This is nothing like the originals and what covers should aspire to be. this is a cover done in the most original way. Ray Charles takes them as his own and makes them sound completely new. It all makes sense to me now.

Did you know this album would also cause Ray Charles to become one of the first Black musicians to have full independent control of the production of his music? Yeah, that’s pretty damn cool. he was opening doors for his brothers and equality, which is always a good thing.

The album is definitely a product of it’s time. Listening to it now, without context of music in 1962, it’s understandable why I dismissed it so easily my first time around. This probably won’t show up on any of my playlists in the future, but at least now it all makes sense to me, and to me, just knowing that is good enough.

Song of Choice: Hey, Good Lookin’

-Bosco

P.s. The title is quite literal knowing this now.

Photoshop Credit: Julian Branco

 

 

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1001 Albums: Sunday at the Village Vanguard

#30

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Artist: Bill Evans Trio

Album: Sunday at the Village Vanguard

Year: 1961

Length: 68:16 (???)

Genre: Jazz

 

 

“Slapping upward Bass”

I had one hell of a day at work today. Usually my days go by pretty smoothly and for the most part I don’t exert that much energy. But today they had me running around almost non-stop. it’s actually rare that I do that many runs in one single day.

For those wondering, I currently work as a runner at a film studio that specialises in post-production. The job itself isn’t anything crazy (doing dishes and running for lunch orders isn’t the most exciting) but it does expose me to the business and is giving me some valuable experience. So today, from the start of my shift at 1, I was on lunch runs, which usually calms down by 2. Not today, went on until 2:30. That’s not all. The runs usually are minimized to one location, going back and forth purchasing sandwiches. Today, I had to run to a restaurant five blocks away, pick up some sandwiches and a coffee at the regular place on the way back and then buy two soups in the building. Imagine me carrying all this stuff at once and trying to open doors. It was exactly as much fun as it was.

Did I get a break? for five minutes until at 3 I had to go pick up vases at the Dollar Store. No, not the one nearby. the one that required me to walk ten minutes to the metro, hop on, change metro lines and go a few stations. This culminated in me carrying ten glass vases all the way back, fear of them shattering on me lasting the entire way.

Get back and almost immediately they tell me I have another run to pick up breakfast items at The Metro nearby. After my scheduled one hour break of course. Metro run was uneventful except for a fun pee break where I had to use their bathroom, but it was one of those where you needed a key, but someone was already in there and then came back and when I grabbed the keys they were all wet. yeah…

The rest of the night would follow as thus:

-Huge confusion with one of the supper orders

-Special task of cleaning swiffer pads

-Special task of cleaning all the chairs in the kitchens

-ended that quickly to instead go dust the tops of every frame in the studio

Needless to say, I ended the night feeling physically exhausted for once instead of mentally exhausted. Believe it or not, it actually felt good and I found that really refreshing. Also, a plus side to the day was that it passed by super quickly and I never had a moment of long boredom, walking aimlessly around looking for something to do.

I think Bill Evans had perfect timing, appearing on the list at the exact right moment for me. There’s absolutely no better way to end the night, your entire body tired and mind calm, than listening to some good fucking Jazz. Everyone knows my story with Jazz already (and if you don’t, read my other posts), so I won’t go on again about the effect Jazz can have on me, but you can probably already imagine how rewarding it was to sit back in the metro on the way home and just get lost in the music.

Did you know this album is widely considered to be the greatest Jazz recording ever? I didn’t. I guess I can see why. Did you know this was a live album? Yup, I got to listen to two live albums in a row. However, I won’t delve into the idea of the live album like I usually do because this album is a live album in the same way Frank Zappa’s albums were live albums. Sure a lot of it was recorded as a “Live” performance but the goal wasn’t to make a live album but to make a coherent album. The only time you’re ever given the vibe that it’s a live album is the awkward clapping sounds (that honestly sound like bad foley work than actual clapping) that appear between songs. Also, it’s interesting to note how some of the song names actually include notes like Take 2 or Take 3 on them, implying they did more than one take of it at a live venue to make sure they got they were able to choose the one they wanted for the album. It’s as if they used the live venue as a studio rather than an actual live performance.

The music itself is pretty damn wonderful. Bill Evans just swims his fingers over that piano, giving us some beautiful melodies from classic jazz and sometimes smashes his hands against it reminiscent of some hard bop we’ve heard before (looking at you Brilliant Corners). He gives a little slice of every jazz styling while still being accessible to the average listener, which is nice of him.

For me, though, the real hero of the music was the bass. This is probably one of the best bassist’s I have ever heard. It’s rare that you get to put the bassist in high regard, who is often drowned out by the rest of the music or just there to play a simple melody throughout. But this bassist slaps away at his standing Bass with so much glee and energy that he brings the bass right there at the front and makes you notice him. The bass doesn’t just play simple melodies here, it goes complex, almost as if the bassist is shredding on the bass in the way Eddie Van Halen does with his guitar. If finger-picking was a technique for bassists, this guy would be the guy to invent it (even though he didn’t, but that’s definitely how it sounds). There’s nothing more awesome than the sound of the upright Bass. The noise of the strings still vibrating after being picked, the sound of them slapping against the backboard, the sound of the finger (sometimes asgressively in the most beautiful way possible)picking the string, it really gives for a whole different vibe. Honestly, if it weren’t for the bass in this album, I don’t think it would have stood out as much as it did.

What makes it more fascinating is that this group was just a trio. Just three dudes playing a piano, drum and bass together. For only three instruments they succeeded in feeling like a whole orchestra, the music feeling just as layered as the bigger ensembles feel. It’s more impressive hearing how tight they are together, blending their instruments together to form each song in a seamless way. I can see why critics have considered this a top-notch jazz album.

But cut out that damn clapping, honestly, it sounds awful.

Song of Choice: Solar

-Bosco

Photoshop Credit: Julian Branco

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1001 Albums: At Newport 1960

#29

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Artist: Muddy Waters

Album: At Newport 1960

Year: 1960

Length: 32:38

Genre: Chicago Blues/ Live

 

 

“Got my mojo working, but it just won’t work on you”

Once again the 1001 Album list throws a live album my way. I am still trying to figure out why they decided to include live albums and I swear I will figure it out… one day. For now it’s still speculation. Is it because they didn’t know which album to choose of that particular musician, so they chose a live album that just includes their best stuff? Is it because that particular performance was an incredible one that left a mark on music history? Was it a big moment in that musician’s career, thus being an important album for them?

… I think I may have answered my initial question because those all make sense. But why a live album over one of their studio albums? Why would this particular live album be more important to hear over any of his studio albums? I mean, if that’s the case, why didn’t they just choose the live albums of every band on this list?

Who knows… but until then I got to enjoy some Chicago Blues. I was wondering when I’d get some blues on this list, was a little disappointed with the lack of blues in the 50s, especially since both Blues and Jazz were the two big genres in the black community. But doesn’t matter because it finally arrived and what better way to experience the blues than through Muddy Waters himself. Muddy Waters a master of the blues guitar.

If you don’t believe me (I keep saying this) check it out. He plays that electric son of a bitch with so much soul that it’s as if the guitar itself is a member of the band. It’s hard to make a guitar sing, but Muddy sure knows how. I think that was part of the beauty of Blues, though. The musician didn’t just feel the emotion, he had it seep through the instrument itself. If a guitar could cry it would definitely be done in the blues. Songs usually have the power to make the listener feel emotions, but it’s not everyday that you hear the emotions being felt by the instrument itself. But when you do, it’s something quite special.

I haven’t listened to much Muddy Waters in my life, but if he’s half as good as his performance on this album than there’s no reason to not enjoy any of it. He comes across as energized and just having the time of his life (I can only speculate since it’s purely audio and I can’t actually see the performance). I would be surprised if I found out that the spectators weren’t dancing by the end of it. He starts off the set with some cooler playing but slowly builds up into a fun, upbeat performance that is hard not to get into. Although, why he did a part 1 and 2 of Got My Mojo Working is beyond me, especially since it just sounded like he played the exact same song, but a little shorter, a second time. The crowd was really loving it and he felt it would be best to play it again? I don’t know, but thankfully it kept the feeling going, so maybe Muddy knew exactly what he was doing.

I have to say, and this is an observation I’ve made, but there’s something about these black musicians. Every time I had an album by one, they always came off as really cool. The white musicians, for the most part, were great, but never cool like this. I had a conversation with a friend of mine about this and we both came to the conclusion that Black People are just inherently the coolest people ever. That seems like a bold statement, but really think about it. Think about every black person you’ve met. For the most part, they walk around with this confident swagger not seen in most people. Say what you will about their experiences with racism, but black people are amongst the most confident people I know, especially when it comes to music. Think about it, every white friend I have who does music, when asked about their projects always say “Well, I’m working on a few things at the moment. Got some ideas brewing around.” Ask your black friend and he’ll probably say “Already got me and my buddies in the studio and recorded the shit out of our newest album. check it out, here it is.” No joke. When I was in New York, strolling down the crowded streets in the main center of the city, who were the ones lining the sidewalks getting every passerby to grab their newest rap CD? That’s right, Black dudes. No white dude in sight, just a ton of black guys pushing and pushing to get everyone to grab their art. One even managed to get 50 bucks off of my friend just because he kept pushing.

I know it may seem negative, but what I’m saying is very positive. I admire that confidence and coolness they have. Heck, I wish I was that confident and cool. Who do you usually find complaining about their insecurities and being weak and fragile as people? White people. If you don’t believe me, compare a skinny white girl to a fat black chick. It makes a world of difference. I dare you to find me someone more confident than a fat, black chick, especially if she’s incredibly sassy. It’s almost impossible.

Musicians like Muddy Waters, Miles Davis and Duke Ellington are proof of that. Most musicians wish they could be as cool as they were. Heck, flash forward to 1989 and you’ll find yourself amidst Black Hip-hop groups standing together, speaking out and having their voices heard. Do you think punk groups like The Clash had the same amount of confidence that those groups had? Hell no. Took a lot of balls for NWA to start a riot about the police after strictly being told not too… by the police. All the white groups did was sort of go “Our government kind of sucks and society kind of sucks” (not giving the punk genre nearly enough credit here), doesn’t take much confidence to do that, I could do that.

Ok, so I don’t know if any of what I said really is true. But what I do know is that so far all my experiences with black people have been that they’re just really cool and confident people. This was definitely no exception to that feeling and I even found myself a little sad when the album ended, feeling it was much shorter than I expected. I found myself surprised when I realised I was on the last song, feeling like I had just zoomed right through the album. I was so immersed into the album that I was hoping there’d be way more than there was. That’s usually a good sign… time to listen to more Muddy Waters.

Song of Choice: Tiger in your Tank

-Bosco

Photoshop Credit: Julian Branco

 

 

 

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1001 Albums: Back at the Chicken Shack

#28

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Artist: Jimmy Smith

Album: Back at the Chicken Shack

Year: 1960 (1963)

Length: 37:50

Genre: Soul Jazz

 

 

“Smooth Organ playing”

Before I get started I feel it’s very important to set you, the reader, straight about something first. This might seem like a disappointment right off the bat, but believe me when I say it really isn’t. You’ll feel betrayed but the album will redeem itself, you’ll have to trust me on this one.

Are you ready? ok…

For an album called Back at the Chicken Shack there is a surprisingly huge lack of chickens in it. I know, I know… it’s appalling… awful… plain unforgiving.

Not even a cluck or a gobble? No, not even.

So to satisfy your poultry needs here’s a picture of a beautiful chicken wearing pants:

chicken-shorts-arizona

There, now we can all sleep happily.

I think Jimmy Smith saved my life. Ok, that might be a gross exaggeration. I was coming off the heels of the Everly Brother’s and there whiny voices, wondering if music could ever be good again and as Cathy’s Clown (expletive removed) faded to obscurity never to be heard again, this album started. This beautiful, beautiful album.

This album probably seemed way better than it really was only because it followed A Date with the Everly Brothers and my mind went from “God please end” to “Jazz, my old friend, never leave me again”. I think I’ve taken Jazz for granted all those times I wanted it to stop being clingy and it came back to save my life. I will never let you go Jazz, never again.

That being said, this album is pretty damn great. Jimmy Smith is one hell of an organ player and I honestly would sit through an entire album that consists only of him playing the organ layered on top of other organs. Just pure organ chaos. That’s an idea right there, someone should get on that.

As a whole, the jazz in the album doesn’t actually offer much. It’s no different than any of the jazz I heard on previous albums and for the most part, doesn’t stand out as it’s own. That is… except for one crucial element: The Organ (as mentioned above). The Organ is really what ties the album together and allows it to surpass expectations and go beyond what we know jazz to be. It’s also thanks to this album and Jimmy Smith’s playing that the organ itself started to find it’s way into jazz albums and mainstream music. if it weren’t for this, Soul Jazz probably wouldn’t have really been a thing, which is a shame because it’s quickly become one of my favourite stylings of Jazz.

And before you get a weird visual in your head, no it’s not a church organ I’m talking about. It’s that one special organ we’ve all come to love (at least those who have listened to it). It’s none other than the famous Hammond B3 Organ.

organmain

Pictured here so you can visualise it in all its glory.

It’s quite the amazing instrument and even though you might have no idea what I’m talking about (although some of you most probably do), you have most definitely heard this before. The gurgling and bubbling synthetic organ noises that sound as if they’re being played through an underwater speaker. The crisp sustain that wahs and the plucky fast notes that blurp and bloop. My onomatopeic descriptions are hardly doing it justice, but that gives you more reason to listen to this album to see for yourself.

Obviously, I can’t end this without mentioning the skills of the other band mates who hold up a majority of the songs with their own instruments. The sax playing is just beautifully done and I got excited every time I heard a sax solo. Although the organ is the true hero of the album, the rest of the band plays their part in bringing it together as a whole, which required a ton of skill and precision on their parts often seen in jazz but should still not go unnoticed. We see you back there, don’t worry.

This was also an instance where I listened to the extended CD version rather than the original LP. Thankfully, unlike the Marty Robbins album that added songs and completely rearranged them, this one only tacked on one song at the end and I didn’t mind at all. One more song meant more Jimmy Smith to enjoy and since it was just tacked on at the end it was like a little bonus to my listening experience.

Now if you don’t mind, I’m going to go find some chickens. Not for anything weird…  I just  like to watch them… they’re funny… right?

Song of Choice: Back at the Chicken Shack

-Bosco

Photoshop Credit: Julian Branco

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1001 Albums: A Date with the Everly Brothers

#27

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Artist: The Everly Brothers

Album: A Date with the Everly Brothers

Year: 1960

Length: 27:55

Genre: Pop Rock

 

 

“One day soon you’ll have a date & take her home at night
You’ll wonder as you look at her, would a kiss be right?
The more you look, the more you’ll find those doubts will fill your head”

These guys suck. I’m not kidding. Listening to this album was a very sedated form of torture. Like, I wasn’t actually being tortured but man was it grating to my ears. It’s not that this album was bad, it wasn’t that bad, it’s that the Everly Brothers themselves just plain fucking suck.

So that last sentence was probably confusing, so I’ll try to explain it best I can. Musically, this album was good but as a whole it doesn’t have much to offer both lyrically and vocally. Especially not fucking vocally, oh dear god not vocally. It’s not at these guys can’t sing, it’s that they have awful fucking voices that in no way should even be considered nice to listen to. It’s bad enough that lyrically we’re given a look into a teenage boys diary days, the kind of music that plays in teenage diner jukeboxes, being listened to by 50s cheerleaders and jocks sharing a milkshake with two straws, doing goo-goo eyes to each other. Real cheesy love shit that must have been a hit with prudish little teeny-boppers bopping away and doing the twist or some shit like that.

As if the lyrics weren’t grating enough their sung by the fucking Everly Brothers who nasally whine their way through every single song. It’s not so much singing but more obnoxious whining made with vaguely prepubescent voices. They sound as if someone took the chipmunks and lowered the pitch of their voices… badly. As my friend Graham said, “It’s like they were born conjoined by the testicles and were separated, each keeping one testicle”. It’s never high-pitched, but it’s not a normal pitch I’ve ever heard on a man or boy or even a girl. I don’t even know what’s going on with their voices, but half-way through the album, I just couldn’t take it anymore, I wanted it to stop. The fact I even survived by the end of it is a miracle in and of itself. At one point they sing: “They say that everyone loves someone. So how come, no-one, loves me?”. Maybe it’s because you guys sound like prepubescent farts.

Actually, that would have been a better album, just remove the vocals and replace them with farts. Just fucking farts trumpeting over the instrumental tracks. That would have been better. I would have actually enjoyed it.

It came to the point I wasn’t even listening to the vocals anymore and was just trying to enjoy the instruments, and wouldn’t you know it, I land on a song that starts to fade out in a way where I can only hear the vocals. The goddamn vocals. God, these fucking vocals.

You know what? They should just strip the vocals and make this purely an instrumental album. I’m serious because the only thing standing in the way of this being great is the singing because the instrumental tracks are actually pretty great and I whole-heartedly believe that they would work purely on their own. The opening song itself plays on a riff with a guitar sound reminiscent to surf rock, which I found myself dancing to because it was pretty damn cool. A few other songs adapt other various rock forms, from blues influenced  grooves to boogie-woogie bass lines and some fun jingle-jangle, hi-top cymbal smashing action. It’s nothing truly amazing, but it’s good enough for what it is.

That’s one of the albums biggest flaws and what also works for it, is that it doesn’t offer much and you have to take it for what it is, just a pop rock album. On the one hand it’s easy to see how an album like this was influential for bands that would soon come along like The Beatles (and that’s not saying much because I’m not really a fan of the Beatles), the playing style and even the cheesy lyrics, which The Beatles definitely did way better than these dudes. I’m guessing it’s an important album to listen to to get that idea of Teeny-bopper jukebox music that all the young kids were listening to at the time as it does have it’s place in History, and every teen movie set in the fifties (even though this album is from 1960, go figure), but the notion of just looking at something for what it is, is a dangerous idea to play. While for some bands (Like the Aquabats) it works in their favour, something like this makes it just an excuse to be bland, boring and uninspiring. It shouldn’t be an excuse and this album mostly comes across that way, just a ton of filler.

Filler until the last song hits. The last song on the album was their hit, one of their biggest hits. A song that I know to well. Already I was dealing with the nonsense filler that plagued the rest of this album, only to be met with the final song. Cathy’s Clown. Cathy’s Fucking Clown.

I like this song. It’s the only song on the whole album where I actually tolerated their vocals because their nasally whines actually suited the song. It also helps that it’s the only song that Lyrically actually offers a little more than just your base love song, but the needs of the song are actually accentuated by the crap of their voices (believe it or not). My dad used to have this compilation CD thing he got from Reader’s Digest when I was really young and he would play the music from it a lot. It exposed me to a ton of old 60s tunes and on it was this one. Cathy’s Clown was one of the songs and I heard it, I heard it a lot. So Imagine my shock when it came on and brought me back to hearing it all those years ago, which I’ll be honest was one of the songs I never really paid attention to, but somehow still knew the words. God bless you Cathy’s Clown, you son of a bitch.

I hope I never have to hear the Everly Brothers sing a-fucking-gain. Their voices will plague my nightmares for days to come. Already I find myself imitating that nasally whine and it keeps passing through my mind over and over again. If you ever want to clear a party, play a copy of this album with the instruments stripped and only the vocals blaring through the speakers. i can guarantee people will leave before their ears bleed, or they’ll stay and die… whichever works.

Song of Choice: Cathy’s Clown

-Bosco

P.s. Here she coooOOOooOoOOoOOomes that’s CAaaAAthy’s ClOOOooOoOooOown.

Photoshop Credit: Julian Branco

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1001 Albums: Miriam Makeba

#26

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Artist: Miriam Makeba

Album: Miriam Makeba

Year: 1960

Length: 34:42

Genre: African Music

 

 

” Igqira lendlela nguqo ngqothwane
Sebeqabele gqi thapha bathi nguqo ngqothwane”

The sixties are already meeting my expectations of diversity. So far I’ve listened to three albums and each has been wildly different than the last, and none have been JAZZ! Not that I don’t like jazz, I just needed a break from it. What I like about the 1001 Albums list is that they took the time to include some world music, in this case, straight out of Africa. That’s great because it’s exposing me to music I otherwise would never have heard ever.

I’ll be honest, I’ve had a little exposure to the arts in African culture. I worked at a day camp for five years and three of those years I was part of the artistic camp, where we would teach kids different art forms and each week was dedicated to a specific art (Theatre, Music, Dance, Painting, Rhythm, Cooking, etc.). Well, one summer, we did something interesting, each art would be joined with a country and our goal was to teach the art form from that country’s culture to the kids. In this particular instance, it was African Theatre.

I knew absolutely nothing about African Theatre, but that’s part of what was cool of the job, in order to teach the kids, I had to learn a lot on my own. It was definitely an enriching experience as I expanded my knowledge on arts and culture.

African Theatre was fascinating. We got to teach the kids all about how African Theatre was based on storytelling, masks were a big part of it and it was very corporal (meaning they used their bodies very heavily as part of their performance). Often told by a narrator and a group of actors performing what the narrator was telling. The fun part, especially for the kids, is that the characters were often times Animals. That’s what we did. We told the story of this humongous, selfish Hippo who would invade people’s homes and privacy and the other animals banded together to teach him a lesson. The kids loved it and were so into it, we had costumes and face paint (for both the animals and narrators) and every kid had a role. One kid volunteered to play the hippo’s butt, that’s how much they were into it.

Working with kids is a really rewarding experience, especially when they light up and get involved in the activities you do. Kids can be a hassle, but when they’re working together and having a great time, it’s totally worth having to deal with the negative moments.

Following year, during our Singing week, we had a music teacher come in and teach the kids various songs that we performed at the end of the week for the entire camp. She chose songs that were adapted to the different age groups, but one particular song was performed by the entire artistic camp: La Ren Soleil (not sure if that’s the correct spelling, but you get the gist). It was a traditional African song about planting… plants and cultivating them and hoping the rain will come down and make them grow. The kids loved it and the camp counsellors were equally into it because it came with hand gestures and little dance movements that we all got really into. There was an integration camp at the day camp and a boy with autism was put with us that week and it was his favourite song. To see him be able to perform a song with us was truly a touching moment.

My point is, I’ve been exposed to some African music (we also had some African guy come in and teach us about African rhythm and clapping your hands and the different style of African dancing and how its based on tasks and chores they did, but if I started talking details of everything we learned this post would be way too long). That song I mentioned above is exactly the type of music that was on this album. It’s the first thing I thought of when listening to this and it brought back memories of being with the kids and teaching them. I associated that with this album, which felt like it could have easily been part of a kid’s show. But learning that a lot of the songs (like The Click Song for example) were traditional songs from her home town of Johannesburg, it makes sense that I got that feeling from it.

I understood none of what she said but it didn’t matter because you can just feel the vibe of tradition and old times seeping through. There was something rather peaceful of the whole thing and I think that came from the simplicity of it all. There was nothing complex going on but it was part of it’s charm. It never tries to be what it’s not, but instead wants you to be aware of the traditions that it came from, which is very nice. Also, Miriam has a beautiful voice. She sings with power and ease in a calm, blissful tone that is often accompanied by male back-up, who never distract and only add to the experience of the songs. I wouldn’t be surprised if I found out Miriam was a kindergarten teacher, because that’s the vibe she gives off through the whole thing.

It was also interesting to see the influence that this type of music had on western culture.  want to make specific mention to her song Mbube. Obviously, you reading this, have no idea what the song is, but if you heard it you’d recognize it very easily. It’s heavily reminiscent of the popular song we all love to sing: The Lion Sleeps Tonight. The famous Owimowe and EEEEEEEEEEEEE, comes from this song. It’s not directly the same, but you can see the Tokens borrowed heavily from this, especially since the Lion Sleeps Tonight takes place in Africa. When the song started and the familiarity kicked in, I found myself enjoying the song way more than I expected.

Before I end this, I want to talk about a specific song that really stood out for me: One Last Dance. This is one of the few songs where she sung in English, so I understood everything she was singing, which was nice. But what really took my attention was her co-singer, Charles Coman. Throughout the song Miriam is singing about her sick and dying husband and this asshole is laughing the whole way through. No joke, he’s full on laughing and can barely keep it together when he sings that her husband is dead. There’s another line where he mentions his will will run red (or something along those lines) and he can’t even say the line because his laughter just bursts out in one long breathy gasp. What is going on?! This is one of the most absurd things ever. Why is this asshole laughing about her husband dying? Is it bad that I couldn’t stop laughing and found this to be incredibly funny (especially the parts where he’s having difficulty holding it in)? Was it supposed to be funny? I sure hope so… like what happened? Was Charles having a laughing fit in the sound booth while recording and couldn’t do another take for whatever reason? It’s so fascinating, I would love an explanation to this. Honestly, if you get the chance, check it out for yourself.

Miriam is a beautiful, beautiful soul and this is a beautiful, beautiful album. I never thought I’d be this into African Music, but it definitely convinced me it’s worth checking out.

Song of Choice: Mbube

-Bosco

Photoshop Credit: Julian Branco

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1001 Albums: Elvis is Back!

#25

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Artist: Elvis Presley

Albums: Elvis is Back!

Year: 1960

Length: 31:54

Genre: Rock/Rhythm and Blues

 

 

“The promise in your eyes
Will see me through
There’ll be brighter skies
When I come back to you”

Elvis is back! no joke, last time we saw him was in 1956 on this list and now he is back and I believe he’s better than ever. First, I’m happy to say I finally got to get some good old fashioned rock n roll after a long hiatus of it since we got to experience Buddy Holly and his Chirping Crickets, I hope I will get to experience more of this soon, but alas, there are tons and tons and tons of genres and styles that I will have to accept my fate and take what’s given to me. So, I’ll enjoy this one while it lasts.

This is Elvis at his most mature. Last time we saw him, he was a hip-swinging lover boy, who was flirting with all the girls and making them swoon and cream their panties from his boyish charisma and cool guy charm. He was out to have fun and get a little lucky. Now, he’s just come straight out of his time in the army (no joke he was drafted into the army for a period of time), wait… let’s stop here for a second.

Elvis was in the army. Not before his fame, but right at the peak of his fame. This guy was big at that time, selling records, making movies, having girls cream their panties and while he was on top, then he went into the army. that must have been either the worst experience ever or the best, and both because of how famous he was. How do you go from being one of the biggest music stars in the US to being in close proximity of a bunch of people who will more than easily recognize who you are. He was probably harassed non-stop by both people who admired him and were star-struck and people who, for whatever reason, detested him (I guess for making their girlfriends cream their panties). I can’t imagine what it would have been like. Can you picture Elvis trying to take a shower or something and he’s being serenaded by the other dudes with one of his own songs? I don’t know… Elvis seems like a good sport, probably would have laughed it off and then make all their girlfriends cream their panties with his massive rod (I’m sure).

There is something I do know, it seems that during his draft in the army, Elvis was constantly thinking about the music. What his next album was going to be. It seems he couldn’t wait to get back into the studio and record some more music, especially since he was told that entering the army was basically the end of his career, that’s enough motivation to prove someone wrong right there. So he kept planning and planning. Trying new things with his voice while he was there, figuring out ways that he could improve his songs and mature his music in general.

Well, that all paid off because all his hard work really shows in this album. Lyrically, he doesn’t offer anything new with the usual love and party songs, but musically he has given us, the listener, way more than we anticipated. He went from teenage party dude to classy singer, while still keeping his charisma and charm from his more youthful days (Though to be honest he’s still pretty damn youthful here and hasn’t transitioned to being the weird, creepy dude from Dazed and Confused (Matthew McConaughey) just yet… did he ever though?). It’s really interesting to see how Elvis has grown as a musician and it’s nice to see how seriously he took his music to continuously try to get to the next level. He always maintained his own style and groove, but his own voice has improved on itself and grown. It’s more of the same, but constantly maturing, which I find is rare for bands to do. Most often, they either experiment with new sounds or go in different directions to show they’re not just doing the same thing. Not Elvis, he just expanded on his own thing, creating a base and constantly building up to be the best Elvis he could be.

There is one thing though that hasn’t changed since the beginning: Making girls cream their panties.

Sexy devil.

Song of Choice: I Will Be Home Again

-Bosco

Photoshop Credit: Julian Branco

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1001 Albums:Joan Baez

#24

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Artist: Joan Baez

Album: Joan Baez

Year: 1960

Length: 46:02

Genre: Folk

 

“The river of Jordan is muddy and cold
Well it chills the body but not the soul
All my trials, Lord, soon be over”

So the first question that is going on through everyone’s heads (probably not) is: Was this a good album to kick-off the 60s? That really depends who you are. I know for some people this would have been the perfect album to start the 60s, for others… maybe not. I unfortunately fall into the latter category but before anyone says anything let me explain.

I’m not crazy about folk music. I know, hang me up, lynch and mob me. For whatever reason I could just never get into folk music. Now it’s nowhere near the hatred I have of country, not even close, it’s just one of those genres I can’t seem to be able to sit through. Personally, I just find it boring, repetitive and a little grating. It’s depressing both lyrically (not always) and musically and I often find myself getting easily distracted away from it.

Do understand this is purely a personal taste. But you can imagine my reaction going into this, super excited to start the sixties and met with lightly strummed acoustic guitar and folky tales. Not really how I had hoped the 60s to start (though to be fair I should have expected it).

So here I am struggling about this album because on the one hand, I just can’t get into folk, but on the other, this album is a damn good album. Heard that? I just did something beyond astonishing, despite not liking it, I still recognized it as good. Odd, isn’t it? How I was able to separate personal taste and objective critiquing? I know, it’s the classic attitude: Well, I like it so it must be good or, I didn’t like it so it must be bad. Nope, not how it works, personal taste and objective reviewing are two very different things, yet so many people fall into criticizing things based on their own personal preferences (which explain why these people aren’t critics). And you see it all the time, people wildly criticising each other for liking or disliking something and calling each other idiots who shouldn’t breed just because their own personal tastes don’t match. This is stupid. If you’re like that, you’re stupid. Everyone is allowed to like whatever they want, it’s all up to personal taste which is a very personal thing. Different for everyone. When it comes to critiquing, the point isn’t whether you liked it or not, but why. The why is so important when doing reviews and critiques. Saying you think something is bad just because you “didn’t like it” is not a good enough reason. If you were able to delve into why you didn’t/did like it and are able to explain what it was that did/didn’t work for you, then you’re off to a good start.

So here I am, I wasn’t crazy about this album but I do recognize it as being one hell of a good album. It’s funny because if this album was released today it would easily be dismissed as a “seen that a million times” type album. But, it wasn’t, it was released in 1960, which was exactly the perfect time for it to be. This was fresh in those days and this album is an important one when it comes to the folk revival genre. Joan Baez not only rejuvenates these classic folk songs but performs with so much sincerity in her voice, which I should add is one powerful voice, strong and forceful, but never in an intimidating way, that it doesn’t sound like folk was an old thing (remember this was the 60s and it was considered Revival, and remember this was the 60s and not today… 2017, contextually what she was doing was a new thing).

If you’re a folk fanatic then you have to check out this album, it was very influential at the time it came out and listening to it, it shows. I had to go see a folk musician last year at some festival and knowing nothing about folk I thought he was pretty good, doing some interesting things I hadn’t seen done with an acoustic guitar… until I heard this album and realised how old it was and he probably owed a lot to Joan Baez for getting this style out there.

It’s funny how that works, eh? You always think you’re experiencing something new only to find out somebody had already been doing it decades ago. What’s even funnier is how we can discover an album like this and almost immediately discard it because of that feeling of familiarity that we feel like we’ve seen it a thousand times and it doesn’t feel like anything inspiring.

Context. Context is so important. I’m probably going to have to do that a lot with these albums, especially entering the 60s that has a lot of bands that, although now, don’t sound like anything different, but did big-time when they came out. I’m just going to have to remember that…

Song of Choice: El Preso Numero Nueve

-Bosco

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12 bands that should have been included in 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die, but were overlooked.

This is very exciting, it’s the first editorial of the blog and it’s a great one. Not only do I get to talk how amazing some of my favourite bands are but I have not one, not two, but FOUR guest writers who have taken their time to write about their favourite bands as well. I felt it necessary to get a lot of people together to write this because I, myself, do not know every single genre and do not listen to every type of music and as anyone my knowledge is very limited to what I know (as it is). Getting different people with different tastes and different opinions really helped in diversifying this list musically and I think we have come up with a pretty decent list.

It’s really simple, before I get into it, the 1001 album list is a pretty exhaustive list that really tackles every genre best it could and goes all over the music map, including a lot of the best of the best (and at times the worst as well). But 1001, though is seemingly a big number, is actually very limiting in the music world that has a seemingly infinite amount of groups and albums, it’s only natural they couldn’t add everything and some bands were overlooked. We wanted to take the time to talk about some of these bands that we feel deserve to be on the 1001 album list. Keeping with the style of the 1001 album list, we have also chosen one album to represent each band and I will be posting them here chronologically, so there’s no confusion as to if I’m ranking them from best to worst or worst to best or just pure randomness. We also kept to anything 2008 and older, since the list I’m using is the 2008 edition.

No more diddle-dallying, let’s get into it:

12 bands that should be in 1001 Albums to Hear Before you Die, but were overlooked!

1. The Shaggs

philosophy-of-the-world

Artist: The Shaggs

Album: Philosophy of the World

Year: 1969

Length: 31:39

Genre: Garage Rock/Proto-punk/outsider/bat-shit insanity

 

“You can never please anybody in this world”

The Shaggs:

For those who know this band, your first thought is probably “What? Why?”, for those who have never heard of The Shaggs your about to find out why. You may have noticed that I put a bunch of different genres in the genre section of the band, that’s because… how the hell do you even define this album or band? It’s beyond anything anyone has ever heard ever, it’s pure insanity to the human ears and a complete miss-step in music. This band is often categorized as one of the worst bands in the history of music and for good reason, they’re terrible, actually terrible isn’t a good enough word, they’re disastrously bad.

The band is comprised of three sisters who have no idea how music works. No sense of rhythm, beat, completely tone deaf, heck they barely know how their instruments work. If you’re wondering how they even came to be, google it because it’s a fascinating story of a father who was told his future by a fortune teller and then went on to force his three daughters to make music even though they had zero interest in ever being musicians. When that happens, this band is produced. Nothing works, the guitarist clangs away so grotesquely on her guitar, you can just feel the strings about to break at any moment and the drummer… let’s just say it takes a lot of skill to stay off beat so well. So, why even mention them?

Because it’s beautiful and probably one of the greatest things I’ve ever heard. The music is so bad that it’s amazing. If you want a parallel, this is basically the equivalent to what Tommy Wiseau is to movies. Where the band is Wiseau and their album is The Room of music, an effort that misses the mark so much you can’t help but love every minute of it. It’s so strange what this band is that it’s hard to even comprehend what was going on when they were creating together. But they play with so much earnest that even though this is one big failure you can’t help but feel that they went in thinking this was going to be the biggest thing, and it was, just not in the way they had hoped. Enough about that, let’s talk the album.

The Album:

The one and only Philosophy of the World. There is no other album on earth that even comes close to being like this one. Frank Zappa has claimed this to be one of his favourite albums and it has been critiqued as being on the cutting edge of Dada art and the perfect deconstruction of music. If we knew these girls to be geniuses I would believe they created this as a complete deconstruction of what we know music to be, but I don’t think that’s the case at all, which makes the album so much better. There’s this child-like innocence and naivete that plagues the album, they try so hard but just can’t do it and it’s the single greatest musical effort. From their opening song, Philosophy of the World, where the drum beat and clanging of guitar don’t match each other at all and are so badly in sync, you already know what the album is going to be and we’re graced with one of the best opening drum solos ever with their song “My Pal Foot-Foot” (no clue who foot-foot is but who really cares?). Even if you tried you couldn’t achieve what they did here. This doesn’t happen on purpose but we’re all so happy it did happen. I can understand why they wouldn’t include this album on the list because why include what’s widely considered the worst album of all time. But if they’re willing to include Limp Bizkit on there (yeah, no joke… Limp Bizkit is there) then there’s no reason they shouldn’t include this one. It’s an album everyone should hear just for the sheer awfulness of it because there’s no other album that hits the level of surreal that this one does.

-Bosco

 

2. Yellow Magic Orchestra

ymo

Artist: Yellow Magic Orchestra

Album: Yellow Magic Orchestra

Year: 1978

Length: 37:35

Genre: Electronic

 

 

Yellow Magic Orchestra:

How is this band not on this list? Seriously, I don’t get how the list can completely look over Yellow Magic Orchestra, it makes absolutely no sense. It’s honestly hard to start talking about this band without it sounding like an exaggeration, but it’s a completely astonishment that the editors of the 1001 album list would completely miss this band (but then again there isn’t much from Japan included in the list, so there could be a factor of it there). Where do I begin? How about this, Yellow Magic Orchestra is one of the most influential Japanese bands ever. Yeah, ever, no joke. Yellow Magic Orchestra was creating electronic music in the 70s, when electronic music was barely even a thing yet. If you want a good analogy, they were basically the Japanese Kraftwerk. They were some of the early pioneers of synthpop music, experimenting with synthezisers and their sounds and even playing with sampling of computer game noises, which the idea of sampling itself was a new idea. It was one of the first albums to deal with computer themes, this was even before Kraftwerk’s ground-breaking Computer World, which came out in 1980, and set the pavework for video game music as a genre. They also contributed to the development of the sub-genres of Electro, techno, bleep techno and chiptune. If that’s not enough for you, they even had a huge impact on the hip hop community. Thanks to the new sounds they were creating with their albums, hip hop jumped on that and would go on to sample their songs, multiple times over multiple records. Their song FireCracker alone was sampled in at least five different songs by five different artists. Heck their freaking haircut was so popular it became a fad in the Japanese youth, how about that? There’s not much else I can really say that their career hasn’t said already.

Album:

So, fans will probably complain and say BGM should have been chosen, it’s often considered their best work. But their debut album is the one that should be mentioned and noticed because it is the one that started it all and created the impact it had, especially when it came to video games. It had it all, from experimentation with synths and sampling(Computer game, Acrobat) to instrumental beauty (Tong Poo) to even a song that comes close to being pop (La Femme Chinoise (My personal favourite of theirs)). Sitting through this album it’s hard denying the impact it made when it came out and the influence it had over all the genres mentioned above, and even if you feel that’s not true, at least you can say K-Pop came out of this in some way (I know…). You can easily see the parallels between this and Kraftwerk, as both bands tried new things with their synthesizers and dabbled and mixed and created sounds that would perfectly capture an essence of something, in this particular case the perfect blend of computer games and Japanese culture (because it’s very evident they were influenced themselves by the traditional music of their land). If I have to fight for at least one of these albums to get onto the 1001 albums list, it would be this one. It’s practically a crime to music history that it isn’t included.

-Bosco

 

3. Heart

heart

Artist: Heart

Album: Dog & Butterfly

Year: 1978

Length: 39:43

Genre: Rock/Folk

 

 

“Look inside I find your song flows around my mind, you are as real as I feel, you are the moon in my sun. Nada one Nada one”.

Heart:

In the words of Joan Jett: I love Rock n Roll.  I listen to many genres of music, but Rock is one of my favorites. It is loud, heavy and in your face.  An important factor that I look for in bands is a strong vocalist. My favorite rock n roll singer of all time is Freddie Mercury. But up on my top list (especially female vocalists) is definitely Ann Wilson.  Killer powerful vocals and balls to the walls amazing range.  She always manages to give me chills; especially during Live performances. I finally caught a live show of Heart in Montreal a few years back. So many chills, gah.

I have immense respect for the Wilson sisters.  Ann and Nancy paved the way for many female musicians and inspired so many girls to pick up their own guitars and start their own bands. You didn’t see many female fronted rock bands let alone two sisters in the same band. And it took them a long time to be taken seriously in a male dominated industry.  Pushing through boundaries and blockades and coming out on top; proving to the world that women can indeed rock just as hard as their male counterparts at the time. Success first in Canada, thanks to radio air play, and later in the United States. Fun Fact: One of Heart’s big breaks came when they were opening up for Rod Stewart in the Montreal Forum in 1976.  But Heart isn’t just about the Wilson sisters, the whole band is solid.

Album: Dog & Butterfly

Heart is known for incorporating different genres into their music. Their fourth album Dog & Butterfly showcases just that. The Dog side being the hard rock and the Butterfly more folk inspired tunes. Both styles of music I personally enjoy very much, so it is easy to say that I really like this album. Dog side starts off with “Cook with Fire” by kicking you in the face with awesome rock and it is glorious.  That side comes to a close with the well know “Straight On”. Flip the record over and you literally are flipping styles of music into the acoustic folk world and serenading vocals of Ann Wilson. The transition works due to “Straight On” being the last song and prepares you for the slower ballads coming up. Butterfly side is full of beautiful acoustic folk inspired songs.  Raw, real, and mesmerising.

Closing the album is the song “Mistral Wind”.  Inspired while in San Francisco; they crafted one of their most memorable and fan favorite Heart songs. The song is about how “Once you’ve tasted excellence, you can’t ever go back” (Nancy Wilson) More soothing vocals and acoustic guitar and then wham! Hard Rock explosion. Roger’s epic electric guitar riff kicks in and Ann joins him bringing it to the next level. This song is so powerful and has an awesome crescendo.  Excellent example of Heart blending various music styles together flawlessly.  Seriously epic and closes the album with a bang for sure.

-Sandra

 

4. Oingo Boingo

oingo-boingo

Artist: Oingo Boingo

Album: Nothing to Fear

Year: 1982

Length: 41:34

Genre: New Wave

 

 

“Everyone says we’ve come such a long, long way
We’re civilized, isn’t that nice?
We’ve gotten so smart
We know how to blow the whole world apart
But when it comes to the simple things
(like living together) . . . ha!”

Oingo Boingo:

Anyone who has ever spent a small amount of time in my car has probably had their ears blasted off by two bands: Devo and Oingo Boingo. There’s no denying Oingo Boingo is one of my all-time favorite bands (I own four of their albums on vinyl, which are incredibly hard to find), but for good reason, Oingo Boingo isn’t just a typical rock band, they managed to redefine the genres that influenced them and create a unique sound that can only be associated with them. No where else will you find a band successfully mix influences of Ska, rock, African percussions and world music into a coherent sound. Frontmanned by the famous Danny Elfman, who you might know as the man who scored every single Tim Burton film and did the songs for Nightmare Before Christmas, his nightmarish and halloweeny style was nothing new as it definitely played some role in creating the music for Oingo Boingo, although it wouldn’t play a prominent role until their album Dead Man’s Party, which delved into themes such as death, mortality and identity. With his complex arrangements, unique singing voice and writing style, mixed with a marimba he made himself while studying African percussion in Africa, he brought the band to a unique standing point that may not have gotten mainstream status, but definitely had a huge cult following, with a famous Halloween concert happening every year until their farewell tour. The fact that this band never gets any recognition for it’s work is a bit of a crime, especially when in the music world they are considered both influential and highly respected, heck they were even awarded a day dedicated to the band in LA.  As far as most bands go, they definitely make the list for criminally underrated bands, especially since most people brush them off because of their dumb-sounding name, which sued to be The Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo, which is way weirder. Lyrically, their songs are jam-packed full of biting social commentary that is still, if anything more, relevant today. Just check out their song Capitalism if you don’t believe me.

Album: Nothing to Fear

If any of their albums would be chosen to represent them it would have to be 1982’s Nothing To Fear. For most it seems the easy choice would have been either Only a Lad or Deadman’s Party, but where these albums miss, Nothing To Fear hits and it hits hard. It perfects the ideas and sounds that Only a Lad was working with and brings it to a whole new level, making this their most cohesive album with their strongest material. Deadman’s Party may have had more of an impact, but is often plagued with mediocre songs that, though are good, don’t really leave a lasting feeling for the listener. Nothing to Fear keeps you in from beginning to end with no bad track to be found. From the rocking social commentary of “Grey Matter” all the way to the absurd “Reptiles and Samurai”, there is never a dull moment. The band seemed to be at their best with this album producing some great songs including the chilling “Private Life”, the biting commentary of “Why’d We Come”, the beautifully simplistic “Running on a Treadmill” and the experimental “Islands”. Each song really comes out as its own yet still manages to capture the sound and vibe of the rest of the album. Never have I seen such a great use of a Marimba as in this album, which often gets its own solo parts. Plus, the album cover is one of the best album covers I’ve ever seen, definitely an eye-catcher.

-Bosco

 

5. Salt’N Pepa

salt-n-pepa

Artist: Salt’N Pepa

Album: Hot, Cool and Vicious

Year: 1986

Length: 41:36

Genre: Hip Hop

 

 

“C’mon girls, let’s go show the guys that we know
How to become number one in a hot party show”

Salt n Pepa:

I’ll start this by being honest, I was never a fan of hip hop or rap and don’t really know much about it. I know the basics, the big names, who started what, who was influential and I’ve dabbled a bit in it, but it was never a genre that I liked or that really appealed to me. That being said, you don’t need to know Hip Hop to know the impact Salt n Pepa had on the scene (Ok, maybe you need to know a bit). At a time when Hip Hop and rap was being criticized as misogynistic and a man’s game, Salt n Pepa entered the scene and transcended the ideas of sex and misogyny that was rampant in the rapping world. Instead of trying to tear down what it was, they came in head on showing they can be just as strong as the boys and they did it with full sexuality and intense attitude. These were girls you didn’t mess with. It’s important to note that they were one of the first all-female rap groups to appear and were definitely one of the biggest ones out there, not afraid to sing about topics of sex and femininity, turning the rap genre on its head, proving that the women can be just as fierce as the men. They were hot, sizzling and unafraid. They opened the door for women to stand up as their own in the hip-hop and RnB world. If a group like TLC can be included on the 1001 albums list, Salt n Pepa should be there to because TLC wouldn’t have been able to do what they did if Salt n Pepa hadn’t been there to break down the barriers and pave the way for more all-female rap, Hip Hop and RnB groups who weren’t afraid to talk about more taboo subjects.

The album:

Hot, Cool and Vicious was the debut album of Salt n Pepa and it’s the album that got them noticed. With their first big hit “Push It”, the album put them on the map and for the most part shocked people with how easily these three ladies talked about their sexuality. The music itself offers some danceable beats and dope samples, but what sells it is the confidence and enthusiasm the three rappers exude throughout. It’s hard to find another album as sassy as this one is and they maintain their assertive nature, never letting it pass or falter. These girls diss the men and stupid girls they don’t like with such viciousness in their songs, proving once again that they can stand their ground. But it’s never done in a truly malicious way that it’s annoying. Your right there with them, your respect for their attitude ever increasing as every song goes by. It’s hard to believe that the editor of the 1001 album list wouldn’t include them there with the impact this album had and the influence of the group. It’s one they should rethink about and look at again, because it played a huge role in the development and expansion of the hip hop genre.

-Bosco

 

6. They Might Be Giants

they might be giants.png

Artist: They Might Be Giants

Album: Apollo 18

Year: 1992

Length: 42:37

Genre: Alternative Rock

 

 

” Someday Mother will die and I’ll get the money
Mom leans down and says,
“My sentiments exactly
You son of a bitch” ”

They Might Be Giants:

This is probably one of the most eccentric bands to come out of the alternative scene in the late 80s. What started off as a duo, which comprised of John Linnel and John Flannsburgh, eventually grew into a full band. But at the heart of it will always remain the odd duo and their dry, absurd sense of humour and clever word play which always finds its way into their music. Although they would eventually break out onto the kid’s music scene with albums geared heavily towards children and learning, their earlier work contained more mature themes, even if their sound was just plain odd. They Might Be Giants mastered the art of shot eclectic songs, with their first album being a collection of small tunes that don’t sound anything like the other. This worked greatly in their favour, as if they knew when to end a song and if you didn’t like that one, it didn’t matter you had about 15 other songs you might enjoy, all with their own unique flavor to it. But the one constant was their attitude: Their sense of humour and rich vocabulary, that really made their music stand out as being their own (if the sound itself wasn’t enough). They were also one of the few bands to embrace the digital age and use of CD technology. When music on the internet became a thing, they were some of the first bands to get on that and use it to its full potential, often experimenting with the platform as well. It’ really a shame these two weirdos get over-looked a lot because they really have something special going on.

Album:

In general, it’s hard to pick a They Might Be Giants album that properly represents them because everything from their first album and on does a perfect job at that. I decided to go with Apollo 18 because it was the album that did what I mentioned above, embraced the digital and CD technology and experimented with it. As a whole the album is strong, with some of their darkest songs they’ve ever produced and as usual, their intelligence shines through in their lyrics. But they did something no other album had done before and that was seen with the inclusion of the Fingertips Suite. The Fingertips suite is a collection of short pop-styled snippets that range from 0:04 to 1:01 in length. They were created to give the impression of small pop samples in between the full length songs. You heard that correctly, they were meant to be dispersed between the songs, but then why is it they appear one after the other on the CD? This idea was supposed to compliment the shuffle mode that was now a feature on CD technology. That’s right, they created an album that was meant to be heard and experienced on shuffle mode. This was a completely new idea that was being played with at the time and They Might Be Giants were the band that took the risk and used the new technology as part of the album rather than as a means to play the album. They both went hand in hand with each other and it was a fun experimentation on their part, which meant every time you listened to the album you got a different experience and setlist with it. That was pretty bold of them and in my eyes it was a successful experiment on their part. They created something completely new and different that hadn’t really been seen before and managed to do it in an accessible way that can be enjoyed by everyone, that’s truly an amazing feat to pull off and they did.

-Bosco

 

7. The Aquabats

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Artist: The Aquabats

Album: Fury of the Aquabats

Year: 1997

Length: 51:16

Genre: Ska-Punk

 

 

“All systems go!
Soon the world will know
The fury of attack
Feel the wrath of
The super rad
The super rad”

The Aquabats:

This is a bit of a weird pick because the Aquabats aren’t the most influential band out there, they aren’t even the biggest ska-punk band (which I feel there’s a lack of representation of the genre in the list), but out of all the bands that came out of the orange county scene, the Aquabats managed to do something impressive: They appealed to both children and adults. Nowhere else will you go to a concert that has punks moshing in the pit and parents with their five year olds watching on the sides. It’s truly a spectacle to see when the MC Bat Commander grabs a kid from the audience and has him experience his very first crowd surf and to watch all the punks get really into making this kid’s experience be the best one ever. The best way to describe the band is with the words FUN in big capital letters. They captured a vibe that many bands just couldn’t and did it so well they eventually got their very own tv show, which again manages to appeal to both children and adults. They made the Ska scene accessible to everyone and did it with tons of charisma. A lot of critiques criticized the band for being too wacky and playful, especially in their lyrics, but that’s exactly what makes the band so great, they never take themselves seriously and come in with the sole purpose to have on giant good time with everyone. The best part of the band is that they have adapted superhero personas, each with their own name, matching uniforms and a long list of baddies that they fight at their live shows on stage. The current line-up sits with The MC Bat Commander, Ricky Fitness, Crash McLarson, Jimmy the Robot and Eaglebones Falconhawk, but included such characters as Catboy, Prince Adam, Chainsaw, Ultra Kyu and the Baron Von Tito (who is the famous Travis Barker, believe it or not). With their superhero personas they brought something completely new and unique to the scene that wasn’t seen before and played all their music following themes of childhood, fantastical narratives, their own superhero lore and comic-styled fun, which resonated with everybody. Nobody listens to the Aquabats for deep, emotional lyrics, they listen to them for upbeat, uplifting music and the reminiscence of childlike naivety and imagination that is so beautifully captured in all their albums. Their wackiness is what makes the band so great and their music never fails to put a smile on your face. If there’s ever perfect music for kid’s to listen to it’s definitely the Aquabats, with songs like Anti-Matter and I’m a Winner that have great messages to have you keeping your head up and moving forward, there’s never a doubt that it’ll make you feel better on a down day.

The album:

This was a tough pick because I was debating between Charge!!! And this one. Even though I feel Charge!!! Is their strongest album, I ultimately went with this one because it captures the vibe and feel of the band the best. The minute “Super Rad” kicks in right off the top, you know exactly what you’re in for. It’s energized (Super Rad), wacky (Captain Hampton and the Midget Pirates), fun (Martian Girl), absurd (Magic Chicken) and sometimes just plain weird (Lobster Bucket). They occasionally show off their musical skills (Powdered Milk Man) and other times show they can have some emotional depth to their writing (Story of Nothing). And just when you were fed up of Ska they give you an experimentation in tango (Attacked by snakes) and waltz (Phantasma del Mar!). It’s almost impossible not to want to get up and skank away when the album plays and it doesn’t matter how old you are because everyone can enjoy the child-like atmosphere they provide. They know what they’re doing and offer their hand to every adult and go “Just have fun with it” and guess what? You do, you really do.

-Bosco

 

8. Neutral Milk Hotel

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Artist: Neutral Milk Hotel

Album: In the Aeroplane Over the Sea

Year: 1998

Length: 39:55

Genre: Neo-Psychedelia/Indie Rock/Lo-Fi

 

 

“Soft silly music is meaningful, magical”

Whoa boy. For a number of reasons, I despise how 1001 Albums… excluded this record – the main reason being that it forces me to write about an album that carries with it one of the most complex and debated legacies in modern indie music. With that in mind, I’ll be as brief as possible though it is necessary to provide some background as to how this low-budget, initially underselling release jumped from obscurity into the realm of timelessness.

For the various boomers and Gen X’ers contributing to 1001 Albums…, it would be difficult to have even heard of either Neutral Milk Hotel or their sophomore (and thus-far final) album, In the Aeroplane Over the Sea. However, to those millennials who spent a disproportionate amount of their adolescence hiding on pop-cultural message boards in a pathetic attempt to blend in among the pioneering memesters and trolls of the day, Aeroplane is less of an album and more of an esoteric cross between a relic and a gag; an equally revered and mocked manifestation of the Great Hipster Circlejerk that manages to oscillate between the underrated and overrated statuses (depending on who and when you ask). Like a certain recent president, the album’s popularity among self-gratifying young males is as equally dependent on its inherit qualities as it is on the unfortunate existence of 4chan’s rabid and cryptically ironic message boards (where the presence of this album’s iconic cover art has been inescapable since perhaps the beginning of the site’s inception). This then begs the question: is Aeroplane’s reputation as one of hipsterdom’s best kept musical secrets deserved or is it a matter of years upon years of growing herd mentality?

Speaking for myself, there is reason to both sides of the argument. Nonetheless, for somebody who was once an unhappy adolescent in the aughts, Neutral Milk Hotel was one of only several satisfying escapes. While the peers surrounding me in the middle-class white-bread school were delving into either the dad-rock of their parents, the almost parodically angsty likes of screamo, or just the basics of mainstream radio, little contrasted better to the surrounding trends of my pubescence than In the Aeroplane Over the Sea.

The record, though not inherently geeky, was made by geeks for geeks. Its creators, Neutral Milk Hotel, were one of a handful of bands who were a part of the peculiar, Georgian-based musical collective known as the Elephant 6. These bands generally held the same interests: they came from rural, poor Southern states and shared an equal love for the psychedelic music of the 60s. At a time when the alternative rock boom was turning the sounds of the grunge underground into radio hits, the Elephant 6 decided to look back and not forwards; to idolize the Zombies instead of Sonic Youth, as well as to recognize the anti-genius of early lo-fi wonders such as Daniel Johnston or the Tall Dwarfs.

Neutral Milk Hotel’s frontman Jeff Mangum and Aeroplane’s producer Rob Schneider (no, not that Rob Schneider) grew up in the same small Louisianan town and both felt the need to break free from their agrarian shackles. In a ’97 interview, Mangum described his early life in unflattering terms, stating that “from an early age, all of us felt like we didn’t belong there. We all kind of saved ourselves from that place”.  Indeed, for whatever allusions there are to Mangum’s upbringing in Aeroplane, they are hardly the most pleasant (with lyrics like “Your father made fetuses with flesh licking ladies/While you and your mother were asleep in the trailer park”).

Aside from the occasional lyrical node, Aeroplane has much bigger ideas – both sonically and conceptually. Inspired in part by Mangum’s own reading of The Diary of Anne Frank, the songwriting of this album is an onslaught of surrealistic imagery with overarching themes about death, sexual discovery, violence, and hope for a peaceful afterlife. Although Mangum’s lyrics are almost perpetually melancholic, Schneider’s immaculate production and the energetic backing-band exude incredible colour, combining elements of psychedelia with folk and noise-rock to create a genre in and of itself. The album sounds like no other, though it could be described as Brian Wilson’s greatest fever dream: a loud, schizophrenic but nonetheless lush and alluring slice of American pop. Clocking in at 40 minutes, Aeroplane is devoid of filler; every song is memorable and purposeful; from the dreary acoustic bangers “Two-Headed Boy Parts I and II” to the celebratory rush of “Holland, 1945”, the album never loses your attention.

Evidently, there is reason as to how this obscure masterpiece finally found an audience among millennial listeners but it is not without its detractors. Aeroplane has the subtlety of a sledgehammer; the references to Anne Frank and her sad story seem sometimes ill-fitting or even distracting; and the aggressiveness of Mangum’s pitchy, almost faux-British vocals can be off-putting to more than a few listeners. But despite the possible annoyances, the album is played with so much passion that it never feels inauthentic. That’s Aeroplane’s greatest miracle: that even though its insincere reverence among armchair-hipsters may soon end, the album will be immune to the passage of time. Neutral Milk Hotel’s music transcends eras and genres and that is the hallmark of any classic, memesters be damned.

-Graham

 

9. The Barenaked Ladies

barenaked-ladies

Artist: Barenaked Ladies

Album: Stunt

Year: 1998

Length: 51:21

Genre: Alternative Rock

 

 

“If you will not have me as myself,
Perhaps as someone else
Perhaps as you I’ll be worth noticing”

Surprise a Canadian band! Shocking, I know. Now more than likely if you’ve heard of Barenaked Ladies it’s because you’ve heard the song “If I had $1,000,000.” It’s played constantly in all sorts of places, and don’t get me wrong it’s a great song, but it barely scratches the surface of how incredibly talented this band is. They are certainly known for their charming sense of humour and have many songs that show it off, “Another Postcard,” “Shopping,” and “Be my Yoko Ono,” are just a few examples. However they also are able to write songs that pull at your heart strings “Off the Hook”, that discuss very heavy topics “When I fall”, or sometimes they manage to pair dark subject matter with a deceivingly happy sounding tempo “Tonight is the night I fell asleep at the wheel”. I think that’s what makes them such a fun and interesting band to listen to, the fact that their albums just play with your emotions the whole way through, and you really never know what you’re getting yourself into. Choosing one album once again presented itself as a real challenge, but I decided to go with one that although is not my favorite album, it is however consider their breakthrough album. “One Week” the first single off the album was their breakthrough single into the U.S. So although “Everything to Everyone,” is my favorite album, and it contains my favorite song “War on Drugs,” (which if you ever need a good cry, listen to that song) the album that I think deserves to get the recognition is their fourth studio album Stunt.

The album starts off fast and funny with the single “One Week,” that gets funnier every time you listen to it, because although clever, the lyrics are sung/rapped very quickly and you won’t catch everything the on the first try. The album as a whole is a lot of fun, their are a few songs such as “Some Fantastic”and “It’s all been done” that just makes you want to sing along. You even want to sing along to “Alcohol,” which is literally a song about alcohol abuse, but with a sarcastic undertone. Things are lots of fun and then you hit a song like “I’ll be that girl,” that according to Steven Page, (one of the original members of the band, he left back in 2009) is about autoerotic asphyxiation, the song is a rather unexpected after the first two tracks, and it contains some very powerful lyrics, that might be some of my favorite on the album (see the quote at the top.) The range of subject matter that this band covers is always exciting and even it’s all been done before (that was a joke and it was funny…) ,they manage to put a fresh spin on it. So for anyone who only knows them as that band that sing that song about $1,000,000, check them out they are so much more than just that one song.

-Stephy

 

10. Great Big Sea

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Artist: Great Big Sea

Album: Courage & Patience & Grit (Live Album)

Year: 2006

Length: 70:47

Genre: Folk, Folk Rock,

 

 

“Wouldn’t it be great
If the band just never ended
We could stay out late
And we would never hear last call”

I’m just going to get this out of the way right off the top, I love canadian musicians. I’m very proud of being canadian, so I love supporting Canadian artists. Great Big Sea is a very canadian band, and although they did gain some popularity outside of Canada over the course of their career, they have always remained true to their roots. Every one of their albums has a combination of both folk rock style songs and traditional Newfoundland folk songs, and for anyone who was lucky enough to see them in concert (I was, more than once) they can tell you that their shows were basically one big kitchen party, and probably the most you’ll ever have in your life. (For anyone unfamiliar with the term “kitchen party,” it’s comes from the maritimes and is reference to, a party where everyone ends up in the kitchen singing along to someone more than likely playing traditional songs on a guitar. They are not necessarily playing them well and nobody really cares how well you’re singing them either. The point is everyone is having so much fun enjoying the company and has most definitely had a few drinks by this time in the party, so it’s just becomes one giant happy sing-along.) There music has the ability to get up you dancing one song and then have you weeping over some fictional story based on some maritime legend the next. Not only is the energy insane, and the storytelling within their lyrics mind blowingly good, but the quality of Alan Doyle’s voice makes you feel like it could surrounded you and give you the most comforting hug imaginable. It’s not that he has a particularly wide range and that’s what makes his singing so incredible, it’s simply the combination of his sweet newfoundland accent and hearty quality of his voice. They also manage to fit an impressive amount of expected instruments into their songs such as bouzouki, mandolin, bodhrán, tin whistle, bones, fiddle, accordion, concertina and bagpipes. All their songs are so full of humour, and emotion, and passion, that their entire discography is worth listening to but after a long debate I finally chose the best of their albums.

The album Courage & Patience & Grit, is a live album that is jam packed with everything I previously mentioned that makes Great Big Sea such a joy to listen to. It has both traditional songs and energetic folk rock songs. The second song begins with an intro where Alan refers to them as “Great Big Sea from the tropical island of Newfoundland” and then invites the audience to have the “biggest kitchen party anywhere in the the world” the song that follows “Jack Hinks” makes you want to grab a partner and dance across the room, as if you were in some fishing town pub along the east coast of Canada. It’s immediately followed by a beautiful ballad sung by the incredible Sean McCann, that makes you want to slow dance with your sweetheart held tightly in your arms. The album also includes some mostly instrumental songs that once again transport you to that comfortable little fishing town pub, it doesn’t matter where you are when listening to their music, their ability to tell stories through their music instantly draws you in. Or in some cases in really, really makes you want to dance and sing-along. They manage to make a song about some guys going to pull a dead horse out a pond exciting and danceable, and as any good canadians should they have a song about a hockey player, that has you chanting along during the chorus like you were actually at a game. As far as I’m concerned they never released a bad album, but for anyone who wants to listen to an album in which they are fully immersed and can simply forget all about life’s problem and have a good time, then this is the album for you.

-Stephy

 

11. Panda Bear

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Artist: Panda Bear

Album: Person Pitch

Year: 2007

Length: 45:36

Genre: Experimental pop/Chillwave/Hypnagogic pop

 

 

“I’m really kind of a weakling as far as intense images go. I’m definitely… the sugary side”

– Noah “Panda Bear Lennox, 2007

To upkeep the book’s timeliness, Universe Publishing found it necessary to have the 2008 expansion of 1001 Albums… include records made since 1001 Albums… initial 2005 release. In keeping with the project’s titular purpose, editors decided to remove and add albums to meet the ‘1001’ quota while also properly representing newer releases. This task would have been fairly easy to have performed for nearly any other three-year interval but Universe had the unfortunate burden of having to adequately represent one of the strongest, most diversified and most transformative years in music: 2007.

2007 is perhaps to hipster culture what 1967 is to hippie culture: a yearlong Bacchanalia of indie goodness where many of alternative music’s royalty unleashed some of their most inspired material (including marvelous work from LCD Soundsystem, Radiohead, M.I.A., and Animal Collective). This was also a time when a growing channel of blogs, forums and other online venues helped emblaze hype towards up-and-coming artists, rallying hordes of new eager listeners behind then-fresh names like Burial, Bon Iver, Battles, and the Field. Among those promising musicmakers was a gentleman named Noah “Panda Bear” Lennox (one of the principle songwriters of Animal Collective) who earned considerable and largely surprising attention that year with his third and best known album, Person Pitch.

Person Pitch is a humble effort in both conception and sound, being mainly comprised of previously released singles whose creation-processes were generally the same regiment: record a cheery melody of sunny vocal harmonies and set them to a backdrop consisting of looping samples and musique concrète. At face-value, this is nothing more profound than a pleasant and soothing homage to Lennox’s pop and electronic heroes. But in essence, Person Pitch is a groundbreaking masterpiece those influence on indie music’s following decade is almost immeasurable, providing an innovative fusion of hypnotic samples and baroque pop that would go on to foreshadow bedroom genres of 2010 like chillwave, vaporwave and most other lazy wave-oriented categorizations devised by the critical elite. Person Pitch, however, largely defies genre, whereby even its most blatant imitators have failed to emulate Panda Bear’s dreamy plunderphonics.

-Graham

 

12. Voltaire

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Artist: Aurelio Voltaire

Album: To The Bottom of the Sea

Year: 2008

Length: 50:11

Genre: Dark cabaret

 

 

 

“And I sang death, death, devil, devil, devil, devil, evil, evil, evil songs,
Hell, you know, that’s how I get along.
The world is full of tragedy,
So how can it be wrong,
Singing death, death, death, death, devil, devil, evil, evil songs?”

Aurelio Voltaire: Anyone who’s well acquainted with me knows that underneath my polite, unassuming exterior lies an acerbic and wary cynic, the kind of person for whom unfortunate events are nothing more than expected catastrophes (minor or major), and for whom happiness is an even sweeter surprise for how unexpected it is. Some might consider this mentality to be overly negative, but for me it amounts to taking the same preventative measures one takes when putting on a helmet before you ride a bike, or putting on your seatbelt when you get in a car. Because guess what? Accidents happen. At some point, you’re going to crash, you’re going to fall on your face, and you’re going to hurt yourself. It can happen to anyone, and it happens to everyone. And just as wearing a helmet or putting on your seatbelt can prevent a debilitating physical injury, arming yourself with a little bit of bracing cynicism can help you absorb the shocks and tremors of life by grounding your expectations in reality and giving you perspective so that failure and defeat do not completely overwhelm you (or at least not for very long).

It’s a given that artists who not only share our philosophies but can reflect them back to us in a way that is imaginative, honest, and beautiful, are the ones who will end up inspiring us to create our own. The ones who share the philosophy I’ve described above come from a long and time-honoured tradition of combining laughter with anger, and hurling both in the face of tragedy. The novels of Kurt Vonnegut, the plays of Edward Albee and Dario Fo, and the music of Aurelio Voltaire continue to lift me up. They remind me to keep going, even when dealing with people at their absolute worst, and that the world is never truly beyond hope.

But while most people know the first name I mentioned, and a handful of people know the second and third, they blank whenever I mention Aurelio Voltaire. Despite having a sizable fanbase online, few people in the general public seem to have heard of him or his musical output. And I’m here to change all that.

Who is Aurelio Voltaire? He’s a Cuban-American musician who writes songs that embrace the macabre and the morbid. Not just the conventional Halloween fare like zombies and vampires, but also such distressing topics, as war, poverty, bullying, mental illness, suicide, mortality, and death. Now why would anyone ever want to listen to that? It sounds brutally depressing, right?

Well…yes and no.

Though the subject matter of his songs can range from melancholy and brooding to downright gruesome and nightmarish, his tone and delivery is always bright and colorful, embracing the spirit of the carnivalesque in every composition. His warm voice belies the gravity of the horrors about which he sings. You can practically see his sly grin and wink as he strums his guitar, as if to say, “Yeah. Life can be pretty terrible sometimes, and people can really suck. I know. I’ve been there. I’m with you.” And the way in which he says it—or sings it—is sometimes hilarious, sometimes sad, and sometimes a mix of both. He is probably the only artist I’ve ever come across to truly embody the spirit of black humour and gallows humour in musical form, and his style, dark cabaret, is one which I’ve come to really embrace over the years. It talks about subjects that are normally too difficult or painful to talk about, and it talks about them in a way that is witty, provocative, and cathartic.

Album: Coming up with an album to represent Voltaire’s eclectic output was a tough choice. He’s experimented with a number of different musical styles over the years, from old-school country to Cab Calloway-style jazz/swing, and the results are all wonderfully unique. But I narrowed it down to one that I feel truly represents both the temperament and style of dark cabaret, and his talents not only as a musician, but as a storyteller. My recommendation is his 2008 album, To the Bottom of the Sea.

To the Bottom of the Sea can definitely be considered a concept album—in fact, even Voltaire himself has called it a “musical” a number of times—and this is really what allows him to shine here. I love musicians like Tom Waits who can not only compose a beautiful song, but who can tell an engaging story while doing it. I love musicians who can become different characters with a slight modulation of their voice, effortlessly transforming from a sleazy con-artist into a grizzled old pirate. I love musicians who have an innate sense of drama and theatricality…which is shocking, I know, considering I’m a playwright.

It’s clear that Voltaire has taken some cues on theatricality from Waits here, because he really reminds me of an old-style bard or troubadour in this album. He invites us to travel into the past with him as he weaves a tragicomic tale of woe. His soundscape is at its most immersive here, evoking such vivid scenes as a battlefield in wartime (in his truly heartbreaking cover of Julia Marcell’s ballad Accordion Player) or a raging storm at sea (in the album’s only instrumental track, Tempest). His lyrics can of course be gleefully ribald and shamelessly morbid, as in his raucous ode to mortality, Happy Birthday (My Olde Friend) — which is a birthday song I share only with those friends of mine who I know will appreciate my twisted sense of humor on their special day. But his lyrics can also be tender, they can also be elegiac, and they can also be heartfelt. This Sea, a duet he sings with the above-mentioned and equally talented Julia Marcell, is a mournful depiction of a man and a woman saying goodbye to each other before he heads out to sea, and likely to a watery grave (spoiler alert).

To the Bottom of the Sea will take you on a musical journey, the likes of which you’ve probably never been on before, and I cannot recommend it enough as an introduction to this man’s work. If you’re at all interested in checking out Aurelio Voltaire’s music, go to his YouTube channel The Lair of Voltaire, where you can sample some of his weird and wonderful songs. If you like what you hear, consider buying one his albums on iTunes and support one of many musicians which deserve more followers and more recognition for their incredible talents.

-Vishesh
Writer Credits:

Jonathan Bosco
Sandra Foisy
Graham Hebert
Stephy Murphy
Vishesh Abeyratne

 

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1001 Albums: Goodbye 50s, Hello 60s

So it was a fun bunch of weeks but now it is time for me to say goodbye to the 50s and hello to the 60s.

I have to say the fifties was everything I expected it to be and at the same time I was still pleasantly surprised. I have to say, I didn’t expect the amount of jazz that there was and thought there’d be way more rock n roll than was presented, but overall it was damn good selection of music that rarely ever failed.

I think they had nice variety going on, from fast-paced to slow-paced, that would please any music listener (unless you’re only into new shit than I’m sorry this music is just too good for you).

The fifties was a quick venture, with only 23 albums present in it’s time era, which I feel is relatively normal, the idea of an album as a cohesive product was very new, at the time most albums were just a collection of singles and there wasn’t much thought that went into the album as a whole, which listening to some of them, the concept of a collection of singles still seems to apply and for the most part a lot of the vocal jazz was covers of already written music rather than original work. So, it makes sense that the 50s wouldn’t have that much to offer in terms of albums you must hear before you die.

It is, However, a huge contrast to the 60s, going from 23 albums to 151 albums, which is a big jump and will probably take me at least two months to get through, which is a feat that will probably take way more patience and persistence than I am expecting.

As I enter the sixties, though, I’m glad I decided to take on this challenge. So far I have been introduced to many artists I either never heard of or knew about but never took the time to listen to and thanks to the challenge I discovered new music that I really enjoy. I also got to experience way more jazz than I expected, but that’s never a bad thing (possibly).

My expectations of the sixties: Hopefulyl way more diversity than the fifties had to offer, the sixties did have some interesting genres such as British invasion and psychedelic rock that took over the scene, which I’m excited to get to. A lot of the classics: Beatles, Rolling Stones and… sigh.. Led Zeppelin will be making an appearance for sure and at least two Zappa records, which is exciting. For the most part I think I will really enjoy it, but we will just have to wait and see until that happens.

Oh! and since it’s the end of the decade I will be doing something fun, an editorial. I didn’t say this before, but my goal is to end each decade with an editorial (about music obviously) which might be about the 1001 album list or about a specific genre, but will always be about music. The exciting part is that I have guest writers for each one, so more people sharing their music opinions. I’ll give a sneak peek for the first one:

Artists that should be on the 1001 list but aren’t.

Me and my guest writers write about some of our favourite artist or those we see in high respect that didn’t make it onto the list (even though five Led Zeppelin albums made it on… why?) and we will write small blurbs about each one, with an album of choice that should represent the artist on the list.

Look out for that one in the next few days!

-Bosco

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1001 Albums: Time Out

#23

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Artist: Dave Brubeck Quartet

Album: Time Out

Year: 1959

Length: 38:21

Genre: Cool Jazz

 

“More instrumental music to prevent me from getting a quote”

Jazz Jazz jazzy jazz jazz jazzity jazzy jazz. Jazz jazz jazz jazzjazz Jazz jazz jazzy jazz. JAZZ! Jazz jazz… jazz, jazz jazz jazz, jazz jazz jazz jazz jazz, jazz jazz jazz jazzy jazzy jazz. Jazz jazz jazz jazz, jazz jazz jazz jazz jazz jazz jazz jazz jazz jazz jazz, jazzy jazzy jazzy jazz, jazzity jazz jazz, jazz jazz jazz jazz…jazz jazz jazz jaz jazz jazzy hazzy jazzity jazz. Jazz jazz jazz jazz jazz jazz jazz jazz jazz jazz jazz jazzy jazzy jazzy jazz, jazz jazz jazz jazz ( Jazz jazz jazz jazz jazz jazz jazz jazz jazz). Jazzy jazzy jazzy jazz jazz jazz jazz jazz jazz jazz jazzity jazz jazz.

I feel like the jazz never ends, I’m in an endless cycle of just listening to a lot of jazz with occasional breaks of a possible country album and maybe, if I’m lucky, some good ole fashioned rock and or roll. But those feel like few and far between. Jazz is now consuming my life, it’s everywhere and it plays non-stop… I need help, someone take me away from here. Jazz I love you but you’re starting to get too clingy, you’re over-staying your welcome. PLEASE LEAVE ME ALONE!

I love Jazz, I really do, but sometimes you just want something different, something to break the old routine that you are stuck in. I honestly don’t think I’d be able to handle another jazz album for another while, i’s too much. It’s the old rule: Everything in moderation. I think a good 90% of the albums in the fifties were jazz and so many of them, way more than I expected, were instrumental jazz, which makes it very hard for me to critique or talk about.

Ask me to recreate one of the songs for you, go on ask me… see? I can’t do it. As much as the music is great and relaxing and just so beautiful, there’s one big problem, a lot of it is not memorable. Unless you study it quite extensively and are a huge jazz nut, chances are you forget the melody (or lack thereof) almost instantly once the next song plays. Heck, each song probably seems to blend one into the other and you have no idea where one starts and the other ends, other than the regular dip between each song which signifies a song change. Songs themselves go through so much change that the same song doesn’t even feel like it’s part of the same song.

The reality is Jazz is simply an experience, for the most part each song doesn’t really get stuck in your head the same way a pop song does, but what it does do is let you just enjoy the music for what it is (which at the end of the day I’d probably rather have an enjoyable experience rather than an earworm of a shitty pop song).

So, I’ll admit, every time I write about jazz I basically say the same thing, only in different words, and it is getting difficult finding new words to say the exact same thing. What I liked about this album is that as much as it’s instrumental cool jazz, which I’ve been getting a lot of, it’s very different than the other jazz albums I listened to, which was actually quite refreshing and even though gave me much of the same it at least gave me a different perspective of the same genre.

The Dave Brubeck Quartet was doing some interesting things with this album and the biggest was experimenting with time signatures. Throughout the album various time signatures are used, such as 9/8, 4/4, 3/4, 5/8, 5/4. Sometimes the time signature would even change within the song itself, which for anyone who listens to it, can sometimes fuck with your head (but in this case did so in a good way). Along with that they threw in a lot of turkish influences, which gave the sound a much different feel than, say, Miles Davis. Same genre but felt like two completely different things. I think that’s really what stood out for me, this album was doing something different with the cool jazz genre and the band took some mighty risks.

Did you know when it first came out it was met with mostly negative reviews? It wasn’t until years later did people stop and go, you know what? this shit is actually way better than we initially thought. That’s usually what happens when artists do something completely different and unique. People are used to cliches, routines and the familiar. Every time something completely new appears on the scene its either met with praise because it broke the traditional or is met with critcism because it’s “weird and different”. The weird and different work is usually what ends up standing the test of time. People don’t know what to make of it when it first appears so they automatically turn towards the negative.

You see this happen everywhere, heck when I was in film school this was basically the rule. The students who were making the same, old, tired films we have seen a thousand times were often getting the praise because it was the idea of “This is what makes a good movie”. The students who were trying new things, finding their voice and making films that were different were often met with indifference and “Well, I would have done it this way” type criticism. But if you look at any film maker who has made it big and respected and made memorable work, each of their stories always starts with something like “rejection from film school”, “told they would amount to nothing”, “People weren’t interested in my work” and the likes.

People are scared of the unfamiliar and breaking the rules, scared to be unique and different because, let’s face it, it’s not always good, sometimes doing something that’s different is a bad thing, but this is usually the case when you’re going against the grain simply for going against the grain.

Did you know that when The Shining originally came out it was nominated for razzie awards and got a ton of negative reviews? And now, people jump on the bandwagon of it being a masterpiece (It’s good, but not that great honestly). This kind of stuff happens all the time. Happened to Charlie Chaplin and it happened to Hitchcock. They broke the scene with risky choices and were only recognized for it years later, and that’s what the Dave Brubeck Quartet did here as well.

I’ll end this with some advice. If you’re an artist, don’t be afraid to be different. Don’t be afraid to have your own voice. The key to unique work isn’t coming up with some absurd story but it’s finding your voice and telling stories your way. Don’t succumb to cliches and and writing and forced drama because you feel “this is what makes a good movie” because you’re basically digging yourself into a hole with that attitude. Don’t be afraid to find your voice and just be yourself in your art. Dare to be different (But not different for the sake of being different). You’ll see it’ll make a world of difference for your art.

Song of Choice: Blue Rondo a la Turk

-Bosco

Photoshop Credit: Julian Branco

 

 

 

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1001 Albums:Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs

#22

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Artist: Marty Robbins

Album: Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs

Year: 1959

Length: 44:44

Genre: Outlaw Country

 

“I fell in with an outlaw band, their names were known quite well
How many times we robbed and plundered, I could never tell
This kind of sinful living leads only to a fall
I learned that much and more the night I heard my Master call.”

I’m a little frustrated about something. This is something infuriating that has been happening with music, particularly old music. This idea that old albums are seemingly not good enough to stand on their own so they need to be re-released in a new way. You know what I’m talking about. The new revamped version of your favourite old album, with additional songs, demo versions of the same songs that appear throughout. How about a completely reorganized version of the original album with songs in different places giving you a brand new sequence to listen to? Deluxe editions are pretty cool, don’t get me wrong, especially if you’re a fan, but they should not be the version of the album that is the most easily accessible to the listener and should be reserved as a fun little extra for people who are just dying to hear that live version of that one particular song.

I got tricked by this one. Although I encountered deluxe versions of some of the other albums, I was usually able to realise early enough that it was and be able to seek out the original version. In this case I was duped, believing the version I heard to be the original and only finding out afterwards that the version I heard was the 1999 CD release of the album and not the original LP. Why would they do this? Why would they not keep the original version in tact as it’s own thing? Why did they resequence it? Why??? And why didn’t spotify make it clear to me that this wasn’t the original LP?

Ok, so it wasn’t far off from the original. Sure the songs were in a different order and some of the added songs were very enjoyable and probably ended up being my favourites (so the additions were well worth it I guess). But it takes away from the experience of listening to the original LP. Especially since I was framing my criticism around how this particular one sounded, only to be told, whoops it’s not really how it should be. As much as it doesn’t change much, it changes everything. The book specifically mentions the 1959 version and there must be good reason. Who knows maybe my opinion of the album would be very different if I had the original instead of the re-issue. Who KNOWS?! Maybe I’m overreacting here because the songs aren’t stylistically drastically different from one another and follow a pretty solid formula the whole way through, having it rearranged probably won’t give much of a different experience… except for maybe the storytelling. You know what? I will save this one for a re-visit one day (I think I’m up to three revisits, jesus and I’m only in the fifties, oh well). But for now, here’s what I have from this version.

This is Country. For those who know me know I hate country. I don’t just hate it, I hate it with a burning passion. Country and I don’t sit well. I can’t sit through any country songs without getting angry, upset, annoyed and just completely infuriated. It’s cheesy, badly goofy and the vocals make me want to punch something. Especially modern day pop-country, Garth Brooks can honestly just  SHUT. UP. I am very happy there is no Garth Brooks on this list or any pop country (that I’m aware of) either, so I am spared the torture.

That being said, this album is Country that I love. This is exactly what I want from a country album. It’s not cheesy (well for the most part, especially compared to lovey-dovey gooey-pooey country) and stylistically feels like it’s straight out of a western, which was always the country music I loved to hear. Lyrically it talks cowboy outlaw stories and more often than not paints a well-detailed moving picture for the listener. Almost like telling the story of a famed outlaw and his many adventures, was pretty exciting, I’m not going to lie. However, this album was a little deceptive to me. Right at the start it brought me in and kept me hooked. I was skeptical at first (see my hate for country up there) but that all went away the minute the first song started. Yes it was going to be that type of Country music, now I’m excited. and then… for the next batch of songs, although they were good and each told it’s own story… it suddenly became repetitive musically. (Yeah I know, me criticising something for being repetitive… ha).

Each song really is it’s own, it’s true, but musically… there wasn’t much happening from song to song, which was really disappointing to me, especially after the first song hooked me instantly. I didn’t think it would be practically the same song on repeat after the second one (I mean it wasn’t, but not much was really being done with the guitar or beat to separate it from the last). This went on for quite a few songs. I knew I was listening to a different song, it was telling a whole new story that was fascinating in its own way… but it just sounded like it was sung in the same tune and played in the same way as the last. It wasn’t until the Hanging Tree started that I felt I was finally listening to something that was truly it’s own.

Hard to say if that makes the album bad or not, because for the most part, I really enjoyed it and sure sound-wise it was repetitive, but it seemed to follow a formula that just worked for what it was… I guess. I’m currently at odds with this one… part of me wants to love it while the other part of me feels like it was a let down…

Maybe that’s the true feeling of the outlaw cowboy though. Is your experience right or wrong? Can I run away from the things I love because I feel that it might be wrong? Is it wrong to love things you deem to not be right? What is right and wrong anyway for anything? Can I ride my horse into the sun set while shooting my gun into the air, yodelling all the way through? If I walk into a village unannounced in a cool way, will the villagers harass me or leave me alone? Can I even ride a horse?

Ok, it seems the nyquil I took about an hour ago is starting to dictate for me and I’m speaking gibberish nonsense and Gobble-dee gook. Not a great mix at the moment, but at least I haven’t gone completely loopy… that I’m aware of at least.

Oh no…

Song of Choice: Big Iron

-Bosco

Photoshop Credit: Julian Branco

 

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1001 Albums: Kind of Blue

#21

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Artist: Miles Davis

Album: Kind of Blue

Year: 1959

Length: 45:44

Genre: Cool Jazz

 

 

“Serene sounds of some cool ass jazz”

Miles Davis we meet again, you cool son of a bitch. Just when I thought I was rid of jazz, it pulls me back in. I mean sure the last few albums were heavily vocal jazz, but it doesn’t have the same vibe as the instrumental jazz I was experiencing. Look Jazz, I know we had a thing going on and it was great, you really wowed me with a bunch of albums and… yes I must admit this is probably the best you’ve given me. Maybe not my favourite but easily the best.

Ever have an album that you can just listen to? I don’t mean in the way you listen to your favourite song, I mean just put on and have it play and listen to it subconsciously. It’s playing even though you’re not paying attention, but little do you know you are responding to it. You may not be 100% attentive to what’s playing but it’s affecting you in some way without you realising. I’ve talked about Jazz a lot and the effects it can have on you, but this album transcends those heights to a whole new level of musical experience. It’s honestly really difficult to explain but I’ll try to put it in a way that makes sense.

I had a sinus infection for most of the week. In general, listening to music these days was just giving me a headache and making me feel nauseous (mostly due to the sinus infection). I was nervous to keep listening because I really wanted to make sure I give each album the listening and time it deserves. However, I also didn’t want to keep delaying my posts, especially since I’ve been slowing down extensively in the past two weeks. I figured, what the hell, it’s Miles Davis, some more instrumental jazz, I can put it on and just relax to it.

And it was just amazing. It managed to not only make me feel good, but it relaxed me and soothed me and just lay me down and tucked me in. This album is not just music, but an experience. And I’m not speaking horse shit when I say that, it really is. It’s rare that you encounter something that you don’t really need to listen to because it just takes over in it’s own magical way. Doesn’t matter what you’re doing, this album is perfect for any moment where you aren’t feeling good. A good friend of mine said it was perfect headache music and going into it with a sinus infection I can say he was definitely right. Actually, being as it is kind of hard for me to put it into words since Jazz is a hard genre to analyze to begin with, I can just let you guys know what he had to say about it.

I want you all to give a warm welcome to my very first guest writer on the blog and one hell of a funny dude, Graham. I’ll show you what he had to say because he puts it into words way better than I ever could:

The album had a very transcendent feel that was either rare or nonexistent before that point. Before KoB, Miles’s music was in the vein of some of the hard bop that you had heard previously on the list; here, the style has a lot of nuance and the atmosphere it evokes is very impressive for a mere quartet (or quintet or whatever they were at the time). Plus, despite it being a fairly laid back record, it has its share of memorable melodies, So What and Freddie the Freeloader in particular. And the production work is incredible. So spacey and warm.

I like that, spacey and warm, that’s probably the best way to describe the feel of the album. It’s like lying in a warm, comfy bed that you never want to get out of. That moment of sleep where you’re exactly at the right amount of comfort, where you feel like nothing can ever be better than this. That’s what this album feels like when listening to it.

If you’re ever not feeling well, put on this album an let it play for you, it’ll be worth it trust me.

Song of Choice: So What

-Bosco

P.s. I think this is the shortest post I’ve made, but whatever fuck it.

Guest Writer: Graham

Photoshop Credit: Julian Branco

 

 

Featured

1001 Albums: The Genius of Ray Charles

#20

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Artist: Ray Charles

Album: The Genius of Ray Charles

Year: 1959

Length: 37:58

Genre: Rhythm and Blues

 

“I don’t care if you’re young or old,
You oughtta get together and let the good times roll-a”

Yesterday afternoon my mom told me “You should just enjoy the moment”. I’ve had that told to me many times before but it never really meant anything. Everyone says that when someone is worrying too much about their future or things that could be, which if you know me you know I do that a lot. I’m very good at it actually. if there was an award for people who worry about their future and things that could happen, I don’t know if I’d win but I’d definitely be a good contender.

But when my mom told me it stuck with me. Mainly because my mom and I are very similar. We both worry a lot, get stressed about things, are perfectionists and can be hard on ourselves. My mom was always the mom telling me about the importance of preparing myself for my future and my career and making sure I’m ready, which more often than not actually puts more pressure on me than actual help, but it’s done with the best of intentions and I get were she’s coming from. So to hear her tell me to just enjoy the moment really felt like it came from left-field from her and if she was telling me that. it must have really meant something and come from somewhere.

Living and enjoying the moment is hard for me, especially these days. There is so much happening and equally not happening that when I have a moment to just relax and have fun, I feel like I’m missing out on doing something productive or I’m not taking necessery steps to do the things I need to do to help em advance in my life. Like if I take a moment to have fun it’s like I shouldn’t be, it’s strange how I’ve come to the point that in moments of fun and relaxation I get incredibly anxious and can’t enjoy myself because I feel like I’m wasting time… which isn’t a good thing. But hard to shake off when people in your life constantly make it out to seem like having fun is a waste of time and all I care about is having fun (which honestly the reason I emphasize that is because I rarely have fun ever to begin with and feel yes it is important for me to set my brain to the side for a little bit and just enjoy, I guess some people see it differently) and how my future and career and work and responsibility are the only things to think about an dhow work isn’t supposed to be fun and life is not about having fun and life isn’t fair and shouldn’t be good… yeah. Life isn’t fair is a harsh life lesson I learned in the past year and I still ask my self… well, why can’t it be? Life may not be fair but at least I can be a fair person.

I’ll give an example about me not being able to enjoy the moment. Yesterday I found out I was qualified for the PA Academy at work, which is basically a step closer to getting promoted. That should have made me feel great, especially since the build up to it almost killed me (I was the last person of the runner team to be told if I got a yes or no and spent the whole afternoon seeing everyone else leaving the room and hearing their answers… why would they do that to me?). I got a yes, and I should have been beyond happy. I was… but I wasn’t really… part of the reason is because my best friend at work was told no… which means he’ll be leaving and that made me sad because he’s one of the only people at work who makes me laugh and when I’m down he’s the only one who can bring me up (that’s what good friends are for, right?). So there was that. Also, fast-forward to the evening, we went out after work and even though I was there at the bar with a few of my co-workers who were laughing and joking and talking away… I still didn’t really feel happy. Two million things are usually going on in my mind at once which makes it hard for me to enjoy… but oddly, even though I was with people, I still felt lonely… I mean, I was out with friends and laughing… but still didn’t feel happy. Happiness is an emotion I haven’t really felt in awhile, even when I am feeling happy, it’s not really happy, almost like an illusion of happy… It’s hard to explain but the point is, I just couldn’t be there in the moment and enjoy.

I left and since I had a nice long ride home (I missed my bus which meant I had to wait forty minutes for the next one) it gave me enough time to listen to this album.

It managed to make me feel good in a way because it started energized and fun. A problem I’ve been having, despite that dancy feeling I love in music, is that the albums are starting to blend together for me. Because I am still in the fifties, most of the albums have very similar sounds and there’s not much variety to any of it. As the first few songs passed I felt like I had been listening to the same thing for the last bunch of albums, only with the singers changing.  I was really craving for something different and the funny thing is, this album was very deceptive but in a good way. Even though it started in a way that made it sound like most of what I’d already been listening to it gradually changed into something much different. The pace slowed down, the arrangements lost instruments to almost just the piano and the vibe was incredibly different. Almost like Ray Charles went, Ok we’ve danced for three songs, now let’s chill on my piano for the remainder of the time and be cool. Part of me was sad about this because I prefer upbeat music but part of me was happy because Ray Charles decided to take the album into his own hands and make it his own. It wasn’t like any of the other albums anymore, this was his, his own voice shining through creating his very own music and it was incredibly nice to hear.

Alot of people tend to forget that the key to art is your own voice. Doesn’t matter how unoriginal your art is, the minute it is told through your voice and your perspective and your point-of-view then it becomes original because no one else on this planet is like you, only you are and the way you see things and tell things is unique to only you. The moment you find what your voice is and figure out how to execute it in your own way… you’re pretty much set. May not be great, but at least it’s unique.

I think that’s part of the genius of Ray Charles here… what else could it be?

Oh right… he’s blind… and playing the piano, Blind piano playing man… that’s beyond impressive. I mean, how does he know which keys he’s pressing? It’s insane… that man truly is a genius in that right.

But seriously, he did something with this album and really made it his own. Because even though it wasn’t anything different than I had heard before, what made it different was him. Every song that went by felt like it was a piece of him and that’s really what stood out for me.

Someone told me that Ray Charles only really cared about singles and for the most part his albums were really just a collection of singles mashed together. I can see that (unlike Ray who can’t see at all). Surprisingly though, he still managed to make an incredibly cohesive album. Even if he went in with the intention of only making singles, he wondrously managed to make it work together very nicely. There’s never a moment during the listening of the album where I felt a song didn’t belong or was just useless filler (even though that could possibly be said about his other albums). Every song on this album works together and creates a nice flow that yo barely notice the sudden change in vibe as it goes on and you don’t even notice the album end. No joke, the album despite being almost forty minutes went by so fast for me. I was amazed by that. So say what you want about Ray making only singles but this album works very well as a cohesive piece of work.

I could also go on about his piano playing and his singing, which he does with a lot of heart throughout the album, but I feel that goes without saying… plus I’d just be repetitive… we wouldn’t want that now, would we?

Song of Choice: Alexander’s Ragtime Band

-Bosco

Photoshop Credit: Julian Branco