1001 Albums: The Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter

#109

Album_109_Original

Artist: The Incredible String Band

Album: The Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter

Year: 1968

Length: 49:51

Genre: Psychedelic Folk

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

Why did I listen to this?

What was this?

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

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

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

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

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

Song of Choice: The Minotaur’s Song

-Bosco

 

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1001 Albums: Traffic

#108

Album_108_Original

Artist: Traffic

Album: Traffic

Year: 1968

Length: 40:24

Genre: Blues Rock / Folk Rock

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

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

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

Steve Winwood is my firetruck.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Song of Choice: Feelin’ Alright?

-Bosco

 

 

 

1001 Albums: Beggars Banquet

#107

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Artist: The Rolling Stones

Album: Beggars Banquet

Year: 1968

Length: 39:44

Genre: Roots Rock / Country Blues

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Song of Choice: Street Fighting Man

-Bosco

 

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

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

#106

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Artist: Aretha Franklin

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

Year: 1967

Length: 32:51

Genre: Southern Soul / RnB

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

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

Sigh…

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

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

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

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

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

I know what I’m doing tomorrow.

Song of Choice: Save Me

-Bosco

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

 

1001 Albums: Axis: Bold As Love

#105

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Artist: The Jimi Hendrix Experience

Album: Axis: Bold as Love

Year: 1967

Length: 39:21

Genre: Psychedelic Rock

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I really can’t explain it.

Song of Choice: Bold as Love

-Bosco

 

1001 Albums: White Light/White Heat

#104

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Artist: Velvet Underground

Album: White Light/White Heat

Year: 1968

Length: 40:13

Genre: Experimental Rock / Noise Rock / Proto-Punk

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Song of Choice: Sister Ray

-Bosco

 

1001 Albums: Call of the Valley

#103

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Artist: Shivkumar Sharma / Brij Bushan Kabra / Hariprasad Chaurasia

Album: Call of the Valley

Year: 1967

Length: 1:10:55

Genre: Hindustani Classical Music

“Twanging Sitar Sounds Cascading Into Your Ears”

Now for something completely different.

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

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

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

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

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

Song of Choice: Dhun-Mishra Kirwani

-Bosco