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

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.

 

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.

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

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

1001 Albums: Roger The Engineer

#74

Album_74_Original

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