Sunday, 8 November 2015
You're likely to recognise Nico from the Velvet Underground's debut album (more on them later) and if you don't know the name, you'll know the voice. This is the second album in a row in which the lyrics have been sung in the singer's second language (Nico is of German orgin) and this is the poorer of the two albums because it doesn't go anywhere lyrically or musically (the title track is the best example of this). It sounds like Nico has a vocal range of three semitones, her performance is that flat and monotonous.
Astrud Gilberto first appeared on this blog lending her vocals to 'The Girl From Ipanema' which is on her husband's collaboration with Stan Getz (Getz/Gilberto).
A bizarre choice for this book simply because this album isn't a proper album as such, but a collection of discarded tracks from previous sessions.Having said that, apart from the live tracks in the middle, you could be forgiven for not realising this, Some songs will be recognisable to the listener from later cover versions (Lilac Wine and the be gorgeous Wild is the Wind) but the great song on the album is 'Four Women', whose downcast melody and passionate vocal comes straight after the upbeat opener.
Due to sound limitations I could only listen to one channel of this album, and most of the vocals are on the 'deaf' channel so I've given up after three songs. The 'instrumentals' were pretty good though, so I'll go back to this.
Label: International Artists
After a brief break in proceedings cause by a technical error to my headphones, I have come back to cast opion over the music of the mid 60s. This is the point where the summer of love was just around the corner, LSD was the hippest drug around and kids where grooving to 24 hour light-shows in the heart of London. The 13th Floor Elevators are very much of their time, and it's difficult to imagine them being able to get a record deal in any other era. Yes, the album is ok, but it's not something I'd choose to listen too to many times
Favourite Track: You're Gonna Miss Me
Saturday, 31 October 2015
I listened to this album not knowing what to expect, except thinking it would probably be a bit like Nick Drake. Of course, whilst that is true to some extent, it does Jansch a disservice to suggest he's just a watered-down comparison to Drake. Vocally, Jansch is far from perfect and the lyrics aren't much to shout about, but his guitar playing (all acoustic) and instrumentals are lovely. Unforunately whilst I can hear the merits of the album, the songs generally did nothing for me.
Favourite Track: Angie
The start of the Beatles holy trinity, this album goes a long way to showing why The Beatles are loved, not only by their fans, but by music critics and all. Imagine a band like McFly suddenly producing something that Radiohead were capable of, and you'll understand how innovative the Beatles were at their peak. The album is packed full of brilliant tracks, and musical perfection.
Favourite Track: In My Life
B.B. (Bluesy Bluesy) King has long been one of those artists who I've heard lots about, but if you asked me to I couldn't name his 'signature' song, or even any of his songs. For all I know this album doesn't contain his best tracks, but it's a good album nonetheless. B.B. King has a good rapport with the audience, which goes a long way to giving live albums extra points. He teases and caresses Lucille as though she were his wife, and the music is beautiful.
Rating: 7 stars
Favourite Track: Please Love Me
As far as jazz albums go, this is one of the most beautiful I've ever heard. I can't remember what influenced me to buy the album whilst I was at university, but I'm extremely glad I did. The album is experimental, like all good jazz albums should be, but it's also very accessible.
Favourite Track: Psalm
Not The Beach Boys debut, but the first album deemed important enough for this list. This record marks the point where Brian Wilson begins to take the band from California Surf Rock, to something more sophisticated. I liked the album, it shows that the Beach Boys are keeping pace with their rivals, and occasionally outshining them. Sadly the album is let down by the final track, which is just pointless.
Rating: 7 stars
Favourite Track: When I Grow Up (To Be A Man)
Friday, 30 October 2015
Otis Redding had one of the coolest voices in soul. He's up there with Marvin Gaye when it comes to pure vocal talent, and it would be interesting to hypothesise on how his career would've developed had he not Buddy Holly'd it back in 1967 (days after he'd finished recording his signature song (Sitting On) The Dock of The Bay. There is nothing speciail about the music on this album, but there doesn't need to be.
Favourite Track: A Change is Gonna Come
At his peak Bob Dylan was a fucking genius. In 2002 I bought a Greatest Hits compilation and it took me ten seconds of Subterannean Homesick Blues to realise that. Everything about this album is worth discussing - the electric/acoustic split, his voice, the fact that the lyrics piss over anything John Lennon or Paul McCartney could ever dream of writing. This album is the sound of Bob Dylan climbing to the top of the mountain, and he hasn't yet reached the peak.
Favourite Track: Love Minus Zero/No Limit
Arguably the root of punk and garage rock, this album is important just for those reasons alone. After years of perfectly clean performances, the Sonics were arguably a breath of fresh (dirty!) air. The record isn't brilliant, but it's great to listen to.
Favourite Track: Psycho
I've never been a huge fan of live albums, despite there being some crackers on here so far. I always feel as though the energy is let down by the recording. Give me a studio version of a song anyday! Sadly this album is no exception. It didn't help that half the songs were missing, and the ones that were there were titled incorrectly but I don't think I'd have enjoyed it even if it was all correct. There were some good songs, but sadly the rest did nothing for me.
Favourite Track: Great Balls of Fire
Thursday, 29 October 2015
Titled 'England's Newest Hitmakers' in the USA, this is The Rolling Stones debut album and was recorded a year after The Beatles entered the Abbey Road studios to record the remaining tracks for their debut LP. Unfortunately, a year is a long time in pop and by the time the Stones released this, the Beatles were already re-inventing the wheel. Having said that, despite it's flaws, the album goes along way to showing why the Stones were the 2nd biggest band of the decade. What they lack in originality, they make up for in passion and energy. Fun fact: This album peaked at number one in the UK charts, being bookended by 'With the Beatles' and 'A Hard Day's Night'.
Favourite Track: Can I Get A Witness
Dustine Springfield puts me in a good mood, but she is incredibly uncool in certain circles. This just makes her even cooler in my eyes. This album is the only one if hers in the list, which makes you wonder why they didn't include 'Dusty in Memphis' instead? Having said that, as an introduction to Dusty this is a very good album. 'Anyone Who Had a Heart' even had my teary-eyed.
Favourite Track: Anyone Who Had A Heart
According to Wikipedia, Solomon Burke fathered 14 children, and by the time he died he had (in addition to the 14 children), 7 step-children, 90 grand-children and 19 great-grand children. Christmas was obviously expensive. This albums starts of very well, but immediately starts to meander and I felt like it was struggling to keep my attention. When it's good, it's very good, but there's just not enough of the good. There's a possibility that it could grow on me, but based on the first listen it wasnt something I'd actively look out for again.
Favourite Track: Cry To Me
Despite it being my least favourite subject (P.E. doesn't count!), I managed to get an A in GCSE French, which either suggests I am a natural francophile, or the exams were very easy. Unfortunately I've forgotten most of said language, even though my girlfriend is fluent in it, and I have family living over there now. Looking like his either just been dumped, or his plane is late, Jacques Brel perfects the look of 'bored young man' on the front cover of this album, and even though I couldn't make head nor tail of the lyrics, I really enjoyed the way it just screamed cigar smoke and continental Europe at you. The only negatives? The language barrier. which is my fault and I don't think Spotify had the tracks in the correct order.
Favourite Track: Amsterdam
Wednesday, 28 October 2015
Chaaaaaaaaaaang!!!!! Whenever nobody asks me to choose my favourite Beatles album from their early days (i.e. the days where moptops overruled the moustaches) I always pick 'A Hard Day's Night'. It's their first made up entirely of originals, and if anything it proves how much better they were at songwriting than any of their contemporaries. Every song on here packs at punch, with the first knock-out blow of the title tracks opening chord (probably the most discussed chord in popular music!) to the resigned farewell of 'I'll Be Back', this album has me falling in love with The Beatles again and again.
Favourite Track: I'll Be Back
The second album from Stan Getz, and this time he's with Joao Gilberto. I enjoyed the first offering and this was even better, because there were vocals (even if they were in Portugese). There's not much to say about the album other than the fact it was a welcome relief after the dross that was James Brown.
Favourite Track: So Danco Samba
Yet another live album for me to sink my ears into, and one I'd actually heard of after years of noticing it whilst working at HMV. Unfortunately, it's the worst of the ones I've heard so far even though it has the highest reputation. I didn't like it, and felt no connection. Sorry James.
Favourite Track: Night Train
The more I listen to jazz, the more I begin to love it. Of course, there are some albums that I just don't 'get' (I'm thinking of 'A Kind of Blue here'), but there are others (Time Out and the current one being reviewed) which make sense straight away. What stands The Black Saint apart from the ones I've listened to thus far is the sheer variety of the pieces, and the way Mingus manages to pull them all together. Want a section that sounds like it was written for a film noir score? Yep! Want some dude going crazy with a trumpet whilst the drummer ramps up the beat? Of course! Feel like a little spanish guitar just for kicks? You betcha! Whilst some jazz albums can feel a little predictable (ironically), this had me on the edge of my eardrums.
Favourite Track: Track B - Duet Solo Dancers
For years I'd been wanting to buy a Sam Cooke compilation with all his hits on, but none of the ones I saw ever drew me in. I knew next to nothing about the man but for some reason what I'd heard made me want to investigate him more. Eventually I managed to track something down and it regular gets a spin on my CD player. It is, however, nowhere near as good as this. It's sad to remember that a man with such talent and ability to captivate an audience was only two years away from his death because this collection of tracks proves what a fantastic artist he was.
It's very difficult to judge this album without judging Phil Spector himself, but it's something that I've chosen to do. Whatever your subsequent opion of Spector, there is no denying the fact that he was one of the greatest producers of the 20th century. To many 'hip and trendy' music fans, this is their favourite Christmas record, and whilst it is good, you'll be better of with the usual compilations of Wham, Band Aid and Wizzard if you really want to get into the festive spirit. Have this as a back-up, but don't expect it to be the go to album when the family are round for the holidays.
Bob Dylan is (along with The Beatles) my favourite artist of th 1960s. I think you either love him, or you can't stand him and I'm firmly in the former camp. Everything about this album is iconic. It's not the first Dylan album, but it's the first classic and the is the one that propelled him to stardom (mainly because of 'Blowin in the Wind'). I first heard the album about fifteen years ago during my initial Dylan discovery and I've loved it ever since. It's the album that every other folk artist afterwards tried to make.
Favourite Track: Masters of War
Tuesday, 27 October 2015
The first album on the list that I've actually owned prior to beginning this project, and one I'm rather familiar with. Therefore I see no point in listening to it again just to review it. Out of the 'early' Beatles albums (say everything up to Help) this sits comfortably in the middle. There are some great tracks on this album - 'All My Loving', 'You Really Got a Hold On Me', 'All I've Gotta Do', but also a couple of duds. So great, but not perfect.
Favourite Track: You Really Got A Hold On Me
I had another pleasant surprise with this album, and it was party from start to finish. I have no idea who Stan Getz is, but feel as though I've heard of Charlie Byrd before, though I can't think why. The title of the album is actually misleading, the songs are neither jazz nor samba, but instead Bossa Nova.
Favourite Track: Samba de Uma Nota So
Most people are aware of Booker T & The MGs because of the title-track on this album, me included. And that is a bad thing because it means they're probably not familiar with the rest of the tracks on here (unless they've heard the original/cover versions with vocals. Out of the current crop of instrumental albums that I'm working my way through, this is by far my favourite. At under 3 minutes, none of the songs outstay their welcome and some of them even sound like they belong to the fairground.
Favourite Track: One Who Really Loves You
According to the information contained in the book, this album is 68 minutes long, however, because most of the tracks repeat themselves I decided to skip half the album. My research of Bill Evans led me to discover that he was the pianist on 'A Kind of Blue', which made me concerned I'd not like the album. However, I actually enjoyed this album. It's considered a jazz classic and I can understand why, it also allowed me to 'nearly' finish 'The Pickwick Papers'
Favourite Track: Gloria's Step
Favourite Track: I Got My Mojo Working
Next Album: Bill Evans - Sunday At The Village Vanguard
Label: Blue Note
The front cover is terrible, and sadly the dog is long dead. Going into this I'd never heard of Jimmy Smith, and the album art does nothing to suggest what kind of music he might perform. To put it simply, the album was smooth. It mainly consisted of lots and lots of Hammond Organ, hi-hats and bass scales. That's not to say I didn't like it, in fact I rather enjoyed it. I just think it was a little linear for my taste.
Favourite Track: When I Grow Too Old To Dream
Next Album: Muddy Waters - Muddy Waters At Newport