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1001 Albums: Buffalo Springfield Again

#80

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Artist: Buffalo Springfield

Album: Buffalo Springfield Again

Year: 1967

Length: 34:07

Genre: Folk Rock/Bues Rock

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

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

So without delay, Buffalo Springfield…

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

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

 

There. Happy? now we can move on.

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

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

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

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

Song of Choice: Hung Upside Down

-Bosco

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1001 Albums: Electric Music For The Mind And Body

#79

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Artist: Country Joe and the Fish

Album: Electric Music for the Mind and Body

Year: 1967

Length: 43: 30

Genre: Acid Rock/Blues Rock

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

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

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

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

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

For you’re listening pleasure, here it is:

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

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

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

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

Song of Choice: Section 43

-Bosco

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

 

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

#78

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Artist: The Beatles

Album: Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

Year: 1967

Length: 39:52

Genre: Pop Rock / Psychedelia

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So what’s the problem?

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

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

Here is my good friend, Luis:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Song of Choice: Fixing A Hole

-Bosco

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

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1001 Albums: Chelsea Girl

#77

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Artist: Nico

Album: Chelsea Girl

Year: 1967

Length: 45:04

Genre: Folk-Pop/Chamber-Folk

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Song of Choice: Eulogy to Lenny Bruce

-Bosco

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1001 Albums: Beach Samba

#76

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Artist: Astrud Gilberto

Album: Beach Samba

Year: 1967

Length: 27:38

Genre: Bossa Nova

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

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

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

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

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

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

Song of Choice: Oba, Oba

-Bosco

 

 

 

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1001 Albums: Wild is the Wind

#75

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Artist: Nina Simone

Album: Wild is the Wind

Year: 1966

Length: 39:08

Genre: Jazz/RnB

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

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

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

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

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

Song of Choice: Four Women

-Bosco

 

 

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1001 Albums: Roger The Engineer

#74

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Artist: The Yardbirds

Album: Roger the Engineer

Year: 1966

Length: 35:52

Genre: Blues Rock

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Song of Choice: What Do You Want

-Bosco

 

 

 

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1001 Albums: Blues Breakers With Eric Clapton

#73

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Artist: John Mayall and the Blues Breakers

Album: Blues Breakers with Eric Clapton

Year: 1966

Length: 37:39

Genre: Blues Rock

“You’ve been mistreated, little girl,
But I swear, I swear it’ll be outgrown.
You’ve been mistreated, little girl,
But I swear, I swear it’ll be outgrown.
I’m gonna give you a love, child,
Something you’ve never known.”

So, I’m basically 95% done with this semester. Have all my exams written and just have to complete one final assignment. Decided to kick it old school and do one of my Green Screen videos again. Haven’t done one in awhile but have been wanting to, so took advantage of this assignment to finally do another. With all that mostly done and new free-time being presented to me, I hope to go back to how I was and try cranking out one post at least every two days. I think it’s fairly do-able at the moment, at least until I hit mid-terms and finals of the next semester.

So… John Mayall and the Blues Breakers. They’re not kidding when they call themselves the Blues Breakers. This is one fine blues rock album. From the very first guitar riff to the final notes, I found myself snapping my fingers and tapping my toes to some upbeat and hard rocking blues music. I am actually willing to debate that the opening notes of the opening track, “All Your Love”, is some of the most iconic and memorable openings of any song (Not the most, that award goes to Van Halen’s “Jump”, but definitely up there). Since I first heard it up to this moment that I am writing about it, it still plays clearly in my head on a constant loop. Anybody familiar with it would recognize that song instantly just from the opening riff. There’s really no low points on this album and it succeeds in keeping you engaged the whole way through. However, I should note that this is mostly thanks to Eric Clapton’s guitar playing and the actual Blues breakers themselves (but to be fair to them, they are very talented and bust their ass to give you some rocking blues).

I can back up what I said. You see, before this album was created it was originally intended to be a Live Album. John Mayall wanted to show off the energy the Blues Breakers had on stage, but specifically, he also wanted to show Eric Clapton’s skills. After a botched recording of their live show, they decided to go into the studio to record an album with the sole purpose of recreating their high energy performances but once again, focusing on Eric Clapton’s guitar playing. Why else do you think Eric Clapton gets special mention in the title of the album? This is more his album than the rest of the band’s and boy does it show. His guitar work is at the forefront of every song and he doesn’t disappoint. If their goal was to show off their energy and his talent, they succeeded tremendously. A particular high is the instrumental track “Hideaway” that just lets Clapton go all out on his own, riffing and playing to his heart’s content. This album would become highly influential mostly due to Eric Clapton’s playing, which would set a standard for the development of rock guitar playing (although we really should credit Chuck Berry for revolutionizing the rock guitar, but he’s not on this list because he was more of a singles guy, so Clapton will take the honor for it for now) and he would become one of rock history’s first Guitar Heroes (around this time graffiti was appearing everywhere on the streets calling Clapton a god).

I have quite a number of friends who actually aren’t crazy about Eric Clapton and think he’s a highly overrated guitar player. I guess I can see why. Listening to it now, he might seem a little dated and in comparison to other guitar legends who would appear on the scene after him, he does sort of pale in comparison. So, I can understand where they’re coming from. Unfortunately for them I think differently and still believe Eric Clapton can hold his own weight in guitar playing even to today’s standards.

As a whole, there are some forgettable (yet really good) songs on the album and I wouldn’t say the album itself is really top 10 material. I mean, without Clapton this album would have probably fallen into obscurity as just another ok blues rock album. (In all fairness I should be giving credit to John Mayall as well for doing solid work). Before coming into this band, Clapton was part of the Yardbirds but had to leave due to creative differences. He felt they were too pop for his tastes and wanted to tackle more blues-inspired music with a mix of hard rock. The meeting of John Mayall and Eric Clapton was a stroke of luck for the two men, who thought identically about what they wanted to do. If it weren’t for that I don’t think this album would even exist as it does. Even though the rest of the band is talented, I feel a lot of it’s success did fall on the shoulders of Eric Clapton who gave it it’s blues-inspired energy and rock infused riffs.

Ok, ok, I’ll stop mentioning that. I realise I’m repeating myself about Clapton and the band, but that’s honestly what I feel about it. So instead of repeating myself once again I’ll leave you with some of my own blues-inspired lyrics:

I got out of bed
had me some lunch
It tasted real bad
So I took a cat nap
lasted three hours
Oh, little girl
I’m sorry I missed your show
But the fact of the matter is
I never wanted to go

*Harmonica blairs, guitar explodes, everyone cries*

Song of Choice: Hideaway

-Bosco

 

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1001 Albums: The Psychedelic Sounds of the 13th Floor Elevators

#72

Album_72_Original

Artist: The 13th Floor Elevators

Album: The Psychedelic Sounds of the 13th Floor Elevators

Year: 1966

Length: 34:31

Genre: Psychedelic Rock / Garage Rock

“Oh yeah!
Ahh!
You’re gonna wake up one morning as the sun greets the dawn.
You’re gonna wake up one morning as the sun greets the dawn.
You’re gonna look around in your mind, girl, you’re gonna find that
I’m gone.”

Woo-hee, what a week I’m experiencing. Nothing really out of the ordinary. I’ve hit the end of my semester at school so all my assignments are due and I have about five exams to study for. On top of all that, I was at a shoot all weekend and am trying to make a demo reel (2 actually) for another class. It’s nothing crazy, but oh boy is is overwhelming when all piled on at the same time. Especially the demo reel. I don’t know why but I can’t seem to wrap my head around it, like my brain goes into overload when thinking of how to go about making one. I need one, it’s important. Every job I apply for asks me to submit one, so it’s absolutely necessary that I have one. But man… am I having difficulty doing it. How do you show off your best work in 60 seconds or less? I don’t know… I don’t know!!!!

Either way, I got to lose myself in the crazy psychedelia that is known as the 13th Floor Elevators. A garage band that delved into psychedelic music, they managed to take the best of both worlds and blend the two styles quite seamlessly creating a sound that can only be characterized as their own. I remember hearing their biggest hit “You’re Gonna Miss Me” in a psychedelic rock class I took back in University. From the second Roky Erickson blares his voice in that raspy, aggressive way, wailing and screaming with all the angst of a 19 year old, I knew I was in for something special. But it didn’t end there. Backing him up is some dirty, raw sounding guitars, heavy drum beats and some rave-up instrumentals enough to send you on one hell of an acid trip. If that wasn’t enough, accompanying these instrumental is a strangely, odd bubbling and gurgling sound, an instrument not easily recognizable. What could this mystery instrument be?

Obviously it’s the electric jug.

41X1F0KEBWL

wait… what? A Cuisinart?

Ok, so it’s obviously not that type of electric jug, but this seems to be an instrument so obscure I couldn’t even find a picture of it on Google. So please if you do, do share it because that’s something I’d love to see.

In all seriousness though, the band was actually using an electric jug. How they made the jug electric in the first place is beyond my understanding and falls in the realms of when we all make the joke that we’ll join a band and play the electric triangle. Everyone who finds this out is always beyond astonished, but in the best way possible. The fact that they incorporated such a ludicrous instrument just adds to how awesome they really are.

When listening to the album part of me was a little sad that Count Five’s Psychotic Reaction wasn’t included on this list. But, in hindsight, I can see why. Psychotic Reaction is another great example of a garage band that blends psychedelia with it’s style very well and has some amazing rave-ups in their songs. But, they don’t really do anything different from the 13th Floor Elevators and I guess if you had to choose one or the other the 13th Floor Elevators is the obvious choice. But if you like this, check out Psychotic Reaction, you won’t be disappointed.

What makes this album so great is its aggressive nature that overlaps and mixes into mind-bending psychedelia. Just listen to a song like “Roller Coaster”. With the guitars twanging away angrily, the electric jug player bubbling the jug like a fucking madman and the build-up to an insane mind trip into the warped minds of a group of teenagers grasping desperately to hold on to the little they have left of reality. It’s kind of weird for me to say that especially knowing the singer, Roky Erickson, would later be convicted into a mental institution after being diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. Knowing this adds a much darker undertone to the whole album, especially since Roky screams and wails like he’s trying to expel a demon from his very core.

believe it or not, the band was also known for doing live shows and recording their albums while under the influence of LSD, which in a lot of ways makes a lot of sense. Everything from their lyrics to their acid-drenched guitar work, where Stacy Sutherland would revolutionize the use of reverb and echo to create their unique sound. They really wanted to keep the drug-fuelled lifestyle and experience alive and they made sure the listener experienced it with them (which would become a staple of Psychedelic music).

This definitely set a lot of groundwork and would be an important album for Psychedelic Rock, often being credited as the first psychedelic band and have gone on to influence bands such as ZZ Top, Big Brother and the Holding Company, Primal Scream, the Butthole Surfers and REM. Words can’t really properly explain what this album does and it can only really be experienced as a lens into the mind of a drug addled angsty teen with a severe mental disorder. There’s really nothing else quite like it and it manages to really stand out as it’s own thing at the time it came out, leaving it’s mark in Psychedelic history.

Song of Choice: Roller Coaster

-Bosco

Note: Schizophrenia is an incredibly debilitating mental disorder that can deeply affect those who have it and their loved ones. It should never be romanticised or taken lightly. (Having personally known people affected by it).

Edit: Found out the secret to the Jug. Seems they just held a microphone up to the jug… a little anti-climactic.

 

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1001 Albums: Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme

#71

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Artist: Simon and Garfunkel

Album: Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme

Year: 1966

Length: 29:14

Genre: Folk Rock

“In the early evening gloom
Impaled on my wall
My eyes can dimly see
The pattern of my life
And the puzzle that is me”

Isn’t it great when you discover something you didn’t think you’d enjoy but found yourself loving it very much? I find myself doing that a lot these days. I think it’s great. It’s not only giving me the opportunity to find and enjoy new things but also allowing me to expand my knowledge on things I love (Mainly movies and music). In the past week I got to watch the Italian Neo-realist film, Bicycle Thieves and despite the lackluster response from the class, it really grabbed my attention. So much that I watched it a second time to see it again. I never knew much about the neo-realist movement in Italy but that film alone made me want to explore the movement and in the span of the next month I will probably be checking out more films.

This album did the same thing. I was never really crazy about Simon and Garfunkel. I kind of entered this album indifferently, no high or low expectations, just another album on the list to listen to. Little did I know I would be surprised by the fact that I would actually love it. I’ve said it before and probably won’t be the last time I’ll say it, but I’ve never really been crazy about folk music. I’m happy to say since I’ve started this list my opinions on folk has changed and I find myself slowly starting to enjoy it more than I used to. I guess I always misjudged it and this album is a perfect example of that.

I wish I hadn’t made some preconceived notions of what I felt Simon and Garfunkel to be. The little I heard of them I honestly found them boring, but as my musical tastes have been expanding and I’ve had more of an open-mind towards all genre, I now realise this duo were much more than I thought they were. What I used to brush off as slow and uninteresting acoustic music was actually emotional and kinda beautiful. These two have managed to create music that connects with you, with underlying themes of alienation, loneliness and melancholia with songs that ask questions about life and meaning. When they’re not taking a more straight-forward approach, singing with haunting vocals and sorrowful guitar accompaniment, they’re taking a page from Bob Dylan and adding that bitter-sweet flavour, upbeat music with sad themes. There’s no denying the duo has considerable talent and this album is a great showcase of what they can do.

Right from the beginning, the listener is met with the incredibly haunting “Scarborough Fair/ Canticle”. The duo sings in the most eerie sounding harmonies, that overlap and come together to make a chilling and beautiful song. From there, the first half of this album did something I really liked, created an amazing progression of musical styles. From “Scarborough Fair/ Canticle” to “The Big Bright Green Pleasure Machine”, it slowly grows more and more upbeat instrumentally. It’s a nice steady progression as it builds up becoming more and more exciting as every song goes by. The build-up is done so masterfully and cleverly that it makes the first half one of the most cohesive side a’s I’ve ever heard.

When side B comes along, it’s a little more all over the place, taking elements from all the songs in side A but mixing them up in a different order so it doesn’t flow as well, but still provides some really strong material. One song in particular, “A Simple Desultory Philippic” stands out a bit for being different than the rest. Here, Paul Simon does his best to sound like Bob Dylan and openly satirises pop culture phenomenon that has been happening at the time. Whether he’s openly mocking Dylan or praising him is hard to tell and while the ranting can be humorous at times, you don’t know if he’s against it or just poking fun at it. The side eventually ends with “7 O’Clock News/Silent Night” which mirrors the eeriness of the opening, but this time through collage and juxtaposition rather than haunting harmonies. Mixed in with their pretty vocals of “Silent Night” is news coverage from big events that were occurring at the time (Like the Vietnam War). The contrast of happy Christmas sentiments with the sad news makes for a chilling song, especially as the news reports slowly get louder and the vocals get quieter as the song progresses.

This marked an interesting time for the duo. Their last album was incredibly underwhelming causing the duo to take full control of their music for this one. Unsure of where to go with their music, they decided to take a step back into what they felt was familiar territory and took some of Paul Simon’s old arrangements from a solo project he had years back. Honestly, that was a smart move on their part because the end result was an album that widely connected with the youth, having themes that they could easily relate to and they managed to create an album that is timeless. Although some songs do date them, with references of being super groovy and as a piece of the 60s flower power movement, their few and far between and don’t take away from the rest of the album.

This has been a happy discovery and like Dylan before them, I’m actually excited to see what they’ll have next in store for me (They appear a few more times on this list).

Song of Choice: The Big Bright Green Pleasure Machine

-Bosco

 

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1001 Albums: Aftermath

#70

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Artist: The Rolling Stones

Album: Aftermath

Year: 1966

Length: 53:20

Genre: Rock, Pop

“Spendin’ too much time away
I can’t stand another day
Maybe you think I’ve seen the world
But I’d rather see my girl”

I’m glad I’m slowly getting back into the routine of writing these posts. When I listened to Freak Out I had also listened to both Aftermath and half of Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme. I realised my intentions to get through the list more efficiently also put me way behind in cranking out these posts, especially since it took me almost two full weeks before I would actually write them. Like I said, a lot of things sort of happened at once, end of semester at school is hitting, so all my assignments are piling up, personal issues (something really big happened that really affected me), and just general occurrences (travelling back to Montreal, to Ottawa and visiting friends and family) have all taken up a lot of my time and these posts were put to the side.

I couldn’t leave it that way. I said I’d do this and I will. Even if it is just a personal project, it’s the principle of finishing what you started. And even though I’m only 70 albums in, which is only 7 % of the list (…jesus), I will not give up. That’s a promise.

This particular post might feel incredibly underwhelming compared to my last one. As much as I love The Rolling Stones and they’ve definitely left an impact on musical history, Aftermath just doesn’t really leave much to be talked about. I hate to say this but I can see why The Beatles were much bigger than The Rolling Stones. I didn’t want to believe it, I always felt The Rolling Stones were a much stronger band. But, seeing the timeline clearly now, The Beatles at this point had made efforts to evolve their sound, push boundaries and do something new with every album. At this point I feel The Stones should have been doing the same, but they sound almost the same as they did in their first album. I mean sure they’re getting better at songwriting and playing, but aren’t really breaking barriers here.

When it first came out this album was seen as a big deal. This was the first time The Rolling Stones produced an album that was pure Stones. Every other album featured a cover or two on it, but here it was 100% original material from the minds of Richards and Jagger. By now, The Stones had already made Satisfaction and were a hot item, so to hear that they were releasing an album of just original songs was definitely an exciting thing… at the time. In retrospect… I actually find myself a little disappointed. I think that’s due in part to the fact I’ve been listening to this list and seeing what was being released around the same time which does make this album slightly underwhelming. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a solid album that still holds their blues-based influences and there’s no denying they’re still as cool as they were. Anyone could put this album on and enjoy it the whole way through.

But looking back, it seems the only reason this album was included on this list was because it was The Stones first album of only original material. OK? I hardly see why that should be criteria for it appearing on the list. Is it because The Stones were just that big, so an album like this was an important milestone that needs to be shared with everyone. I mean, it’s also one of the first pop rock albums to reach the 50 minute mark and they were one of the first rock bands to create a rock song that was longer than 10 minutes. Brian Jones would also experiment with new instruments like the sitar, Appalachian dulcimer, marimbas and Japanese koto.  That’s pretty cool that the Stones were trying new things but… it kind of had been done before and The Stones weren’t really doing anything special with this. Goin’ Home was hailed as a feat in rock music, but looking back at it, it seems this is purely to it’s length, since it’s lyrics and instrumentation are pretty straight-forward. It seems my general conclusion is that… it’s an ok album.

I did something a little different this time around with the albums. The Rolling Stones have a very confusing discography between 1964 and 1967. At the time they were releasing their albums in the UK first and in the US a little later. This caused the albums to either have a different title, different album cover and even a different set list. The US would even release an album that wasn’t connected to a UK one that was basically a compilation of songs from their UK albums that didn’t make it onto their US versions… jesus. So, in honour of this confusion, I listened to both the UK and US version of Aftermath.

You would hope there wouldn’t be major changes between each, but it’s almost like fraternal twins. Kinda the same but not really. The US version clocks in at 42:31, which is almost ten minutes shorter than the UK version. Songs like “Out of Time”, “Take it or Leave it”, “What to Do” and “Mother’s Little Helper” were removed, with the last one being replaced with their single “Paint it Black”. That’s right, “Paint it Black” was not on the UK release, only the US. Honestly, this is the first time I’ve said this, but I actually liked the US version better. It feels like they made more efforts to have an album that flows very nicely, opening with “Paint it Black”, which is an amazing way to open an album, and having it all culminate to “Goin’ Home”, which was found smack-dab in the middle of the UK version, which I thought was a really odd choice for the ten minute song. And maybe you’re asking, maybe the list meant to have the US version and it isn’t the UK one. Well, I finally bought the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die and it is indeed the UK version that is on the list and not the US, which I find really odd as you would think they would include the version that has “Paint It Black”, the first rock song to hit number that had the Sitar. It would have made more sense, not only because “Paint it Black” is just an amazing song, but it actually did something pretty impactful.

But nope. They went for the slightly weaker UK version, which is a shame because I do find the revamped US version to be the stronger one. If you had to pick one of the two to listen to, I would say pick the US one. You won’t regret it.

Song of Choice: Mother’s Little Helper (UK), Paint it Black (US)

-Bosco

 

 

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1001 Albums: Freak Out!

#69

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Artist: Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention

Album: Freak Out!

Year: 1966

Length: 60:55

Genre: Experimental Rock

“Mr. America, walk on by your schools that do not teach
Mr. America, walk on by the minds that won’t be reached
Mr. america try to hide the emptiness that’s you inside
But once you find that the way you lied
And all the corny tricks you tried
Will not forestall the rising tide of hungry freaks daddy”

After a long delay, I finally decided to crank this one out. I had been pushing it for far too long and figured it’s better late than never. There’s quite a few reasons why but the main one was I really wanted to do this album justice. You see, I really love Frank Zappa, he’s one of my all-time favourite musicians. His album Sheik Yerbouti is in my top 5 and his vast and extensive catalogue remains one I am constantly visiting to discover and re-discover and re-re-discover (because it’s really difficult to remember everything he’s done, the man has like 80 albums spanning the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s and even post-humously). There’s a lot I’d love to say about Zappa and honestly you could write full books on every single one of his albums. There’s a whole lot to say and I was really nervous about sitting down and writing it out. In the end, I decided I’ll try to be as concise as possible and just stick to what I feel. If I forget anything, well, there’s still two other Zappa albums to talk about on this list and make sure to mention it there.

So here goes.

Frank Zappa is one of my all-time favourites. Not just one of my favourite musicians but one of my favourite people. He is everything I aspire and hope to be one day and is one of the people I look up to in terms of ideology, attitude, philosophy and politics. He was able to speak his mind and opinions in a cool-mannered and intelligent way, deflecting criticism and rebuttals with wit and a calm demeanour. Nothing phased him as he had the confidence to defend every single one of his controversial opinions, taking down both the right and the left politically. It’s funny how he had an incredibly liberal-minded attitude but still considered himself a conservative. Socially Liberal, but Fiscally Conservative. Believed the country should have social programs if people were willing to pay for them. Would tear down the conservative, traditional attitudes related to religion, misogyny, racism and sticking it to the man, while simultaneously distancing himself from hippies and leftists (who saw him as their revolutionary hero) calling them fascists and being against protests and censorship. If you don’t believe me, he says it himself in the documentary Eat That Question: Frank Zappa in his Own Words, a documentary purely centered around Zappa interviews and live performances. Everything said in that film comes from his own mouth and there’s nothing more satisfying than when he explains how there’s no such things as dirty words. “If you want to tell someone to ‘get fucked’ than ‘get fucked’ are the best words to use”. I always identified with him, but he was a much more confident, intelligent and articulate person, more than I’ll ever be, but I will always look to him as a spiritual mentor of sorts.

He was incredibly perceptive when it came to social observations. He seemed to understand society and people better than anyone else and was able to predict where they were headed as well. Lyrically and musically he was way ahead of his time, with most of his music being incredibly relevant and possibly even more poignant today than it was back in the 60s and 70s and even 80s. Calling Zappa a mad genius is a bit of an understatement and he comes across as your third party philosopher, watching things as they unfold and criticizing what’s going wrong. One could call him the perfect stoner if it weren’t for the fact that he was highly against drug use of any kind (A fact that is shocking to many people, especially if you’ve listened to his music). He would ban his band from doing drugs during tours and practice and thought it was a stupid idea to partake in drugs for artistic enlightenment. If anything Zappa proves that you don’t need to do drugs to reach that level of artistic integrity, just confidence and a slightly warped view on things.

Freak Out, Zappa’s debut, is the perfect introduction to his world. It holds the achievement of being one of the first double-lps and the first debut double lp. It was hugely influential in creating both the Prog Rock genre and Art Rock genre and would be looked to as a source of inspiration for some of the biggest artist’s of the time. The Beatles cite this album as their inspiration for Sargeant Pepper, stating it was their Freak Out. Zappa would call them copy cats and criticise them as “Only being in it for the money”, which would become a title for one of his next albums and a jab at The Beatles. Zappa took extra care with every single one of his songs on every album. He hated the idea of filler and made sure every single song had a point to it. He even cites this album as having a wide demographic, something for everyone between the ages of 6 and 80.  He didn’t take the pressure of producing a hit single and being forced to create an album around it, he made sure every song had something to say and usually had a satirical element to it, making this album one of the first concept albums as well. The themes either centred around social commentary, satirical jabs at puppy love and pop rock or a deconstruction of traditional music (or anti-music if you’d like).

Because of this, I decided to do a track-by-track review (My very first and not my last) of this album. I will try to keep it brief for each song so as not to ramble on, but I am not making any promises.

Here goes:

“Hungry Freaks, Daddy”

I have to say this is not only a great opener on this album but possibly the perfect song to open all of Zappa’s extensive catalogue and musical career. It’s the perfect blend of everything Zappa, from odd, satirical lyrics to unusual sounds. It perfectly mixes his accessible music with his stylistic tunes creating a song that sets the tone for everything that is to come. A Zappa lover will recognize his eccentricities but a newcomer will be intrigued enough by it to keep on listening. Even lyrically it encompasses everything Zappa, with a general satirical look at American society. He doesn’t latch on to anything specific but rather questions how ideal American society really is, mentioning the school system, government and consumerist culture. Who are the Hungry Freaks? Probably Zappa and his band (and like-minded people). The freaks willing to question society and are hungry for the truth. A classic and a good place to start.

“I Ain’t Got No Heart”

The first of Zappa’s anti-love songs. Poking fun at the puppy love themes of most pop rock music that was coming out at the time, this turned it on it’s head. A person questioning fools in love and exclaiming they don’t have a heart to give to a girl who’s pining for their love. It’s interesting to see the other side of this conversation, where most songs talk about the person they want who gave them that feeling of pure love only to have their hearts broken. Zappa deconstructs this idea from the other point-of-view, making claims against their ego (“Why do you think you’re so fine?”) and about their confusion between lust and love. Infatuation can often be confused for love and with this song he laughs at those who proclaim their love from brief moments of ecstasy ( “Why should an embrace or two, Make me such a part of you?”). A cynical look at love from a narrator who was just in it for a quick fling makes for a decent Zappa song.

“Who Are The Brain Police”

Zappa’s art rock sensibilities are starting to shine through with this song. An absurd art piece that rattles the brain (ha!) and mesmerizes you, keeping you in a trance the whole way through. I had difficulty with this song at first, but upon relistening to it a couple of times you start to notice the genius of it all. Lyrically it’s quite a poignant song, asking the question Who are the brain police still sounds incredibly relevant today. With everything happening today with the regressive left and the so-called Social Justice Warriors (a term I hate to use but am using for lack of a better way to talk about it) it isn’t crazy to feel like they’re trying to police our thoughts. It’s taking a page out of George Orwell’s 1984, where people can be imprisoned based on Thoughtcrimes. Zappa was highly against censorship and felt every opinion and thought should be expressed freely and when it comes to the point that we’re being scolded just for our thoughts, it’s practically a dystopian time. Mentions of plastic and chrome in the song refer to the fake fronts everyone puts when out in society, putting on a plastic face as to not offend or keep things in line. But what happens when you go home and the plastic and chrome melts away and you’re back to you’re normal self and thoughts? Who will stop you then? Who are the brain police coming to get you for what you think? What would the brain police think if they only knew what you actually thought? Zappa asks some poignant questions with this one and it’s a question that has yet to be answered.

“Go Cry On Somebody Else’s Shoulder”

Another one of his anti-love songs and this time it’s in the style of doo-wop (a genre he would later explore in more depth in his album Reuben and the Jets). Once again it’s a cynical look at the puppy love he clearly hated with the narrator basically telling an ex to fuck off. His wishes for her to “Go cry on somebody else’s shoulder” reveals the true feelings of someone who just doesn’t give a shit after a relationship turned sour. He’s dealing with none of her bullshit to try and get back together and gets right to the point without beating around the bush. There’s even a nice jab at the shallowness of it all by the end of it, where the person can’t understand why they don’t want to be with them after they’ve revamped their look with consumer products to seem more attractive. the narrator isn’t having any of it and it’s a refreshing look at those typical break-up songs.

“Motherly Love”

It’s about fucking groupies. It’s as simple as that. Through clever wordplay and euphemisms the band tricks the listener into thinking this is just another sweet, love song until you realise the Mother in Motherly Love actually refers to the band (The Mother of Invention). Zappa has said he finds groupies to have sold their souls, but at the same time is totally OK with what they’re doing. As this song says: “Nature’s been good, To this here band”. Once you know the double meaning, the song is pretty straightforward with Zappa calling out for groupies to come get their sweet motherly love.

“How Could I Be Such A Fool”

Another song satirizing the idea of teenage puppy love. In this case, the narrator takes on the position of the one who is heart-broken and questions how could he be so stupid as to be so madly in love when he knew it wasn’t going to last. Zappa criticises young couples and the over the top infatuation they have for each other, giving them the blind belief that they’ll last forever when it rarely ever does (it does, but those are exceptions to the rules). Young love should never be taken seriously and only a fool would be gullible enough to have not seen the end of it coming.

“Wowie Zowie”

Sometimes in order to make fun of something you have to become what it is. Embrace the stupidity in order to reveal it’s truth. Exaggerate certain elements to show it for what it really is. This is the perfect example of this. What Zappa claims to be the song he made for children, Wowie Zowie takes on pop sensibilities and exaggerates it to a annoyingly stupid level with the narrator claiming Wowie Zowie due to their newfound puppy love (There’s that puppy love again that Zappa clearly hated). he openly mocks pop rock by being a corny piece of pop rock. It’s mushy, it’s cringe-worthy, it’s cheesy and gooey and in the hands of Zappa it’s fucking hilarious. Whether you like it because you’re into that mush or love it because you get the joke, it’s one that can be enjoyed by everyone.

“You Didn’t Try To Call Me”

Zappa continues what he did with Wowie Zowie and mocks the love ballads of narrator’s yearning for a lost love and mending a broken heart. What he does so well here is by taking on the role of the broken-hearted he reveals the creepy stalkerish vibe that a lot of these songs tend to have and the whole thing reaks of desperation and is seething in teenage loneliness and horniness. He shows off how pathetic a lot of these musicians sound with their exclamations of how lonely they are without them and how badly they need them, not realising how creepy it actually all sounds. Another gem from this album that continues the satirical look of teenage love pop songs.

“Any Way The Wind Blows”

One of Zappa’s most straight-forward songs and even a little autobiographical. At the time he made this song he was divcorcing his wife and attempting to start a new relationship. That’s essentially what the song is about, ending one relationship to start another. When things turn to shit sometimes the best thing to do is go your own way rather than stay in it. Toxicity is never good and when you can’t fix what’s toxic it’s best to be rid of it. In some ways it’s a rather weak Zappa song, a little void of satire and too straightforward. Zappa even says if he “wasn’t getting divorced, this piece of trivial nonsense would have never been made”. Zappa may hate it but it still stands as a pretty solid piece and making it personal added a personal layer that would not be seen again in his music, which was often more alienating and disconnected from society, while this one connects a little deeper.

“I’m Not Satisfied”

Another brilliant piece of satire, this time from the point of view of an apathetic man. When you’ve come to the point that nothing is satisfying and you just don’t care anymore all you can do is wallow in you’re own misery and pity. The song’s narrator is an incredibly sad person who feels unwanted and alone, but what Zappa does cleverly here is he mocks this person’s attitude of giving up and not trying to make things better without putting down his actual problems. Things get hard, but wallowing in your tub of self-pity is not the way to do it. By taking on the point-of-view of this person, he reveals how self-deprecating it is and how unhelpful it is for someone to constantly put themselves into that vicious cycle. It is tough to see if it’s a genuinely sincere lament of one’s personal and social downfall or a mocking piece of satire. Knowing Zappa it’s probably the latter. He was good at understanding the human condition and revealing the ugly truth found in each and everyone of us. This is probably no exception.

“You’re Probably Wondering Why I’m Here”

Zappa’s battle cry to society. You’re probably wondering why I’m here was probably a common phrase running through Zappa’s mind as he made his way through live shows, baffling and mesmerizing those who just didn’t get what he was doing. He openly mocks the audience’s need to abide by social norms and only enjoy that which is familiar and safe. The minute something new comes along that challenges the norm, it’s always met with confusion and resentment. Remember, Freak Out didn’t achieve commercial or critical success when it came out, mostly due to how strange and absurd the album was. People didn’t get it and didn’t really want to get it and the inclusion of this song basically answers what was going through the audience’s head: If you don’t want to make normal music, why the hell are you here? People don’t like things that are different, especially if they’re having their ideas challenged. This song is basically the band’s reaction to people’s reactions, questioning their beliefs and staring at them with the same confusion they’re receiving, not understanding how they could be so plain and boring, abiding by the social norms.

“Trouble Every Day”

This is the song that got Zappa and his band a record deal. One that was loved so much that they were given carte blanche to produce their album, having unlimited funds (a decision that the label both regrets and doesn’t). They were brought into the studio with the belief that they were another talented blues-based band, not knowing what Zappa was about to unleash on them. This is definitely a stand-out song on the album, not only because it’s a damn good blues-based song but because it hits hard with the social commentary. What’s interesting about this one is Zappa doesn’t rely on satire and humour to get his point across, he says it as it is, directly and honestly. In pure blues fashion it makes for quite a depressing song, not because it’s emotional but because it reveals sad truths of society. The narrator sits and watches the news hoping for something good to happen, but is only met with horrifying story after horrifying story. Society is a bleak place where bad things happen all the time. When he says there’s trouble every day, he doesn’t say it as a way to make a jab at society, but rather believes what he says. It isn’t sarcastic but honest. In his words: “There ain’t no Great Society as it applies to you and me. Our country isn’t free and the law refuses to see, if all that you can ever be is just a lousy janitor, unless your uncle owns a store. You know that five in every four just won’t amount to nothin’ more. Gonna watch the rats go across the floor
and make up songs about being poor” pretty much sums up the feelings of the song and the sad truth that has dawned on the narrator about what society really is.

“Help, I’m A Rock”

This is one hell of a song. A predecessor to what would eventually become prog rock, this song is essentially three different songs melded together to form one long one and it’s a brain teaser. What it means and what it’s about is really up to interpretation, especially since a majority of it is drowned in experimentation and almost non-sensical lyrics that don’t really seem to mean anything. But his exclamations of “Help, I’m a rock” and the lyrics of the final part seem to all add up. It’s the desperate cries of a person who hasn’t made it anywhere. The heavily experimental parts create the atmosphere and mind-set of this person, slightly going crazy and racking their brains over what-ifs and what could have beens if only. A person undecided of what they’d like to be eventually finding themselves being a nothing, another rock lost in the sea of pebbles on the ground, unnoticed and uninteresting. To this person anything would have been great and now they let out their cries of help, anything they can do, just to become a someone or something, just to have someone acknowledge them. No one wants to become a rock. It’s a constant fight for individualism and creating an identity that your worst fear is to become another face in the crowd. Once you realise you are, all you can really exclaim is “Help, I’m a rock!”

“The Return of the Son of Monster Magnet”

If you can survive through the entirety of this song without losing your mind than you’re a strong, strong person. This is the most absurd, highly experimental, brain melting, incredibly artistic piece of art rock anti-music. With a mix of spoken word, weird noises, hypnotic beats, backwards and sped up audio and sound collage with music concrete, this becomes an incredibly difficult piece of music to listen to that can easily alienate anyone who had been enjoying the rest of the album. Believe it or not this is actually an incomplete piece, Zappa wanted to add more to it to make it full but the producer said no. Apparently he was incredibly high on LSD while listening to it, an image that makes Zappa laugh as he could only imagine what the producer was experiencing with this one. In some way sit’s an ode of being yourself and not being afraid to create the art you want and being considered really weird, perfectly done by itself being an incredibly weird piece of music that Zappa knew wouldn’t be enjoyed at all. In some ways it could also be seen as a drugged up experience, not seen through the user but seen through the outsider. As I said before Zappa was against drug use and this seemingly incoherent piece of music could be how he saw people on drugs, yammering on incomprehensibly, repeating the words cream cheese over and over due to some fascination with it or the way they sound. To him, who knows what was going through their minds while under substances, but boy do they sure look stupid. Now, this is purely left to interpretation and with Zappa having passed we may never know what this piece of pure absurdity was really all about, but boy can we enjoy it (or not) for what it is.

There you have it. The king of the counter-counter-culture and his debut album that would go on in history as an exemplary piece of satire and art rock in music. This is a rare treat as Zappa would soon start to experiment with his albums, mixing live performances with redubs over them to polish them up. This is rather unique in his catalogue as it was purely in-studio recordings and was before he would have full control over every aspect of his albums. I don’t think anyone could predict where Zappa would go from here, but being a lover of music with his own unique vision, he would go on to produce some of the most absurd yet amazing pieces of work out there. He’s not for everyone and you either love him or hate him, but there’s no denying, he was one mad genius.

Song of Choice: Hungry Freaks, Daddy

-Bosco

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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

Album_66_Original

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

Album_65_Original

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

Album_64_Original

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

Album_47_Original

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

Album_46_Original

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

Album_43_Original

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.

Ham-cheese-ftr.jpg

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

Album_37_Original

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.

spector.jpg

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

album_36_original

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.

LineDancing-2016-09-24-17-03-10.jpg

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

album_33_original

 

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