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Administrator 12/02--7/07
36,839 Posts
Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Bob Mould -- Workbook

The first solo album of the former indie God/post-punk icon (as co-leader of the seminal Minneapolis punk band Husker Du) is a tasty effort front to back.

After their somewhat immature beginnings as a speed-metal/thrash punk outfit, Husker Du quickly evolved into a versatile band, whose hallmark was strong melody, without compromise of attitude or edge. From their first really significant album, Zen Arcade, through the bitter end, the band was never afraid to go acoustic. For a punk band, that is quite a commitment.

With Workbook, Mould plunges headfirst into an all-acoustic outing and does not disappoint.

A newly sober Mould looks back on the glorious career of one of the most heralded post-punk bands, who were destined to be The Next Big Thing, but imploded when they reached the brink. Mould gathers his cardigan sweater and acoustic guitar and reflects.

"See a Little Light" is ear candy with a punk edge. You will be humming it for days. Mould always wrote songs with a great hook -- See Makes No Sense at All. This is Bob at his best. All pop, without sell-out.

I see a little light, I know you will
I can see it in your eyes, I know you still care
But if you want me to go
You should just say so

Wishing Well is another pop-tinted tune that, through the drawl/growl of Mould's impassioned vocal performance, retains credibility. Heartbreak a Stranger is a great ballad, with a catchy guitar riff for a hook.

Less pop friendly offerings such as Brasilia Crossed with Trenton prove that Mould is still willing to play to the droning sounds and overtones that were the hallmark of Husker Du's finest arrangements.

Poison Years is a biting reflection on the behind the scenes bitterness and anger that led to the destruction of Husker Du. Mould plays the role of "angry man with acoustic guitar" to a tee. The song is probably directed to drummer Grant Hart, with whom Mould had been romantically entwined. Best band break-up song since Lennon's How Do You Sleep.

Poison thoughts in my mind
Got to free myself from this bind
I know I'm a reasoning guy

In an act like Jesus Christ
Stare into the sun
You don't see eye to eye with anyone

I throw it all away (Don't talk to me no more)
The more I think, the less I've got to say (I don't remember you no more)
About these poison years: it's just a memory

And every time you knock me down
It's all that I can do to get up off the ground
Pull myself apart again

At the end of this rope
Rope at the end of the line
I see you swing by your neck on a vine

A true 5-star classic. Check it out.

Administrator 12/02--7/07
36,839 Posts
Discussion Starter #2 (Edited)
Miles Davis -- Kind of Blue

As far as I can tell, there aren't many people on the boards who listen to any jazz (Sean does...can't think of any others off hand).

Edit: Whoops! Forgot about Darius Miles Davis!!!

But jazz is some damn good music, if you give it a chance. Even the "out there" stuff, that sounds harsh and weird, at first, can be mind-blowing and incredible, if you take some time and develop an ear for it. (I plan a future essay about listening to various types of music with the right "ear" -- but I digress...)

This album is jazz that is not "out there." It is music that is accessible. It is haunting. It is soothing. You can put it on in the background and just enjoy it that way. You can put on headphones, cue it up and just melt in its brilliance.

If you were to own just one jazz album, Miles' Kind of Blue would be an excellent choice.

This is one of the finest lineups ever assembled. Trumpeteer and band leader Miles Davis, The God of saxophone, John Coltrane, Cannonball Adderley, another sax legend, painist Bill Evans, and so on. Each manages to be brilliant, without crowding or stepping on the toes of his fellow geniuses.

So What is now considered a jazz standard. It is mellow and laid back, but is so utterly original and creative that it sounds as fresh today as it did in 1959. Freddy Freeloader follows and it is an equally impressive jam. Not a weak monent on the album.

And jam is the key here. This is really the origin of the concept of playing a "jam." It is modal jazz. Simple chord arrangements create a "home base" and the players improvise from there, free of traditional harmonic structure. Set free, these musicians wail -- not in a noisy way, and not in a busy way -- but in an outburst of freeing pent-up creative expression you simply cannot find elsewhere.

If you can't bring someone home late, put on Kind of Blue, mix up a nightcap and parlay that into some serious nookey, you are a lost cause.

This should be your first jazz CD. As you follow this thread, you will find out it should not be your last.

Administrator 12/02--7/07
36,839 Posts
Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
Get Your Ya-Ya's Out: The Rolling Stones in Concert

Some people simply don't like live albums. I'm not one of those people. A great live album really gets me off.

This is a great live album. In fact, it is one of the greatest live albums of all time.

This album was recorded in Madison Square Garden during the Stones 1969 US tour. They came to America with something to prove. The last time they toured the States was at the tail end of the British Invasion. Since then, rock music had become bigger, badder, and louder. Jefferson Airplane. Hendrix. Clapton. They were also breaking in a new guitarist, Mick Taylor, formerly of Jahn Mayall's Bluesbreakers (Taylor had replaced Clapton in The Bluesbreakers, when Clapton left to form Cream).

The Rolling Stones wanted to prove they were indeed "The Greatest Rock and Roll Band in the World" (as they are announced at the beginning of the album, with two different announcers from two different shows speaking at the same time).

And they were scary good. This tour ended in tragedy, at the Altamont festival. But before that, this was the Stones at their mightiest. some criticize these tracks, recorded at teh beginning of the tour, as "sloppy." However, what they lack in "precision" they more than make up for in a display of manic energy you won't hear anywhere else in the Stones catalog. These are not faithful reprodctions from the studio, and to me that is not a bad thing. I can enjoy both versions of these songs equally, and in some cases, (Stray Cat, Midnight Rambler) the live versions are improvements. To my ears, the closing Street Fighting Man is the only song that suffers at all in transformation, and that is mostly because I miss the ringing acoustic guitars that drive the studio version.

The recently remastered CD (no bonus tracks, unfortunately) sounds terrific.

After the aforementioned introfuction, the Stones launch into a snarling version of Jumping Jack Flash. If anyone has ever wondered how a slightly geeky looking fellow like drummer Charlie Watts ever became a rock legend, this track should answer any questions. The cymbals positively sizzle throughout this track, and if you fall into the beat, you almost can't help dancing one of Mick Jaggar's jerking, chicken-struts across the room.

After a Chuck Berry break (Carol) we get to the real meat of the album.

Stray Cat was a nasty rocker, a deep cut on Beggar's Banquet. Here it is slowed down to a smokey, brooding, blues, and is aptly renamed "Stray Cat Blues." This is the Stones at their cruelest, and most mysoginistic, as Mick seduces lonely young runaways. ("I can see that you're just 13 years old, but I don't want your ID" or "You've got a friend you say she's wilder than you, Why don't you bring her upstairs. If she's so wild she can join in too...Its no hanging matter; Its no capital crime"). Creepy, but brilliant.

Next Mick Taylor gets his showcase, as the Stones do a respectible reading of Robert Johnson's Love in Vain. Taylor's tasty slide playing made this era one of the Stones' finest. Love in Vain is a train song. Be sure to check Taylor's train whistle guitar slides as Jaggar sings about the train pulling out of the station.

Everyone is certainly familiar with the version of Midnight Rambler that appears on this album. It is the version collected on Hot Rocks and is usually the only version you will hear on the radio. This version blows the studio version out of the water. Some extra hot harminica courtesy of Mick J.

Sympathy for the Devil is easily one of the highlights of the album. Mor uptempo than the studio version, the Stones also abandon the samba groove and transform the song into a chugging rocker. More guitar, less "whoo-whoo." And Mick manages to sound appropriately menacing without the over-the-top hamminess that he is sometimes prone to.

Live with Me, from the as of then unreleased Let it Bleed, followed by another chick Berry romp, with Little Queenie ("meanwhile, I'm stiiiiil thinking...") and the album closes out with a fine Honky Tonk Woman and Street Fighting Man.

The Stones Wanted to prove they were the Greatest Rock and Roll Band of All Time. This snapshot of a point in time, shows that in 1969, they make a strong case for the title.

Administrator 12/02--7/07
36,839 Posts
Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
Lou Reed -- Rock and Roll Animal

OK. Its pretty tough to argue the merits of the first three installments of my series. Those are some universally acclaimed albums.

Here's one where the jury is split. I, for one, am a big fan of Rock and Roll Animal. Not everyone shares my enthusiasm.

This is another live piece. What does it sound like? The Velvet Underground meet Led Zeppelin.

Therein lies the problem. Fans of the Velvets complain about the bombast, and the transference of the solipsistic, navel gazing of Andy Warhol's art-rockers into Arena Rock.

To me, it works. You will never find Lou performing with this kind of energy anywhere else.

There are takes on some of the VU classics here. Intro/Sweet Jane starts with an extended guitar workout from Stephen Hunter and Dick Wagner that is soaring and majestic. The twin leads intertwine for several minutes before seemlessly descending into the power chord crunch that is the opening riff of Sweet Jane. Lou takes the audience on a 13 minute trip with Heroin, which speeds up and slows down to similate the effects of a shot of smack.

The Velvets' Rock and Roll and White Light/White Heat are also performed with high energy. Reed's Lady Day (a tribute to Billie Holiday) gets a suitably respectable treatment.

I recently bought the remastered CD, which adds two bonus tracks. The bonus tracks don't really add much.

All in all, I can say that this is one of the albums that defined the development of my fascination with music, back when I first bought this in high school. Intro/Sweet Jane remains one of my all-time favorite tracks, showing up as the opener of many a mix-tape over the years.

Administrator 12/02--7/07
36,839 Posts
Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
Pretenders -- Pretenders

One of the great debut albums of all time. If you only know the Pretenders from Hits albums or radio play, you may not realize how hard Chrissie's first version of her band could rock.

Yes, Hynde could put out plenty of adult, sophisticated, melodic stuff. Kid, Brass in Pocket and Mystery Achievement are surprisingly mature songs for a young performer making her debut. A cover of the Kinks' Stop Your Sobbing is well done, if a bit middle of the road, but is an appropriate inclusion, since she was dating Ray Davies, and eventually had a child with him.

But Chrissie can snarl, moan and wail through rockers like nobody else. Sexy and tough. When I was in high school, listening to Hynde's breathless panting in the middle of "The Wait" used to give me that funny feeling "down there..."

Precious kicks the album off -- a 110 octane rocker, with sassy, nasty, lyrics "But not me baby I'm too special...**** off!" Any moms buying this album solely on the strength of Brass in Pocket's radioplay was in for a surprise.

But if they read the back of the album and saw that Tatooed Love Boys was one of the songs, they couldn't have been too surprised.

James Honeyman Scott was one of the brightest points in the punk/new wave school of guitar playing. Completely original. Even on the very first album here, he already has a style all his own. Its one of the great tragedies of rock that he slipped into addiction and OD'd shortly after Pretenders II.

And while the Pretenders would reform (and reform) and continue to put out quality music, such as the Learning to Crawl album, they would never rock like this after Scott's death.

Final note: Chrissie looks hot on the cover, pouting in her red leather and lacy gloves

Administrator 12/02--7/07
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Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)
Al DiMeala, John McLaughlin and Paco DeLucia -- Friday Night in San Francisco

Yes, another (mostly) live album.

This is an amazing collaboration. When you think shredding, blazingly fast, technically amazing guitar playing, a lot of people immediately think of speed metal, Pantera or such, or Bach-Rock guys like Yngwie.

But I think of this album. And it is all acoustic.

Al DiMeola is one of the most successful jazz guitarists of all time. He got started in Chick Corea's Return to Forever and is certainly the most well known fusion guitarist there is. He is known for incredible speed, but is sometimes criticized for being more concerned with technique than emotion. Not here. He remains fast, but is expressive, and seems to be having more fun than he ever has had before of since.

John McLaughlin was the guitarist during Miles Davis' fusion period, playing on the famous *****'s Brew album (um, thanks editing software -- think Beeatch), as well as the Jack Johnson sessions. He then formed the highly influential Mahavishnu Orchestra. John is another speedster, and is known for his angular playing, odd scales and eastern influence. In terms of influence (but not really style or sound) McLaughlin is the Jimi Hendrix of jazz.

Paco DeLucia is a flemenco guitarist. He already had international fame in 1980 when Friday Night was released, but was virtually unknown in the U.S. This album put him on the map. Paco has his time in the limelight here, but it is clear there is a certain amount of deference paid to the two legends he accompanies.

The opening cut is also the highlight of the disk: Mediterrenean Sundance>Rio Ancho. Sundance is one of Al's signature pieces, and like the studio version, it is a duet between DiMeola and DeLucia. Incredibly fast runs. Acoustic fireworks. No guitarist should be able to play this to open a set. It has to be exhausting. The second half of the medley is a DeLucia penned piece. The flamenco playing compliments the DiMeola portion of the performance perfectly.

McLaughlin then joins DiMeola for a stretched out composition called Short Tales of the Black Forest. The song has many moods, starting melodic and descending into atonal, John Cage minimilism. As the song gets looser and looser, the guitarists get more playful, drawing laughs from the audience by quoting the pink Panther theme.

The CD is rather short. There are two more songs, featuring all three guitarists together, which showcase the remarkable skills of each man. The close of the live performance, Fantasia Suite, is especially remarkable.

The CD closes with Guardian Angel, a McLAughlin studio track, featuring Al and Paco.

If you thought Van Halen's Spanish Fly was the high point of acoustic guitar playing, you have to hear this album. Any fan of guitar music will have their jaws hanging slack the first time they hear it.

Administrator 12/02--7/07
36,839 Posts
Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
Morphine -- Cure for Pain

If a cult band can have a "breakthrough" album, this sophomore effort was it for Morphine.

Morphine was led by the late bassist/singer Mark Sandman, who tragically dropped dead of a heart attack on stage.

His baritone voice and acoustic bass made this band unique. Most songs feature voice, bass, saxophone and drums only. The acoustic bass and crisp drumming are reminiscent of Violent Femmes, if you could imagine the Femmes with no guitar, a sax player and a singer with a deep voice. And not so much punk.

OK forget that comparison,

But as strange as the concept may sound, Morphine works.

The opening track Dawna>Buena is a mid-tempo rocker, but the silky smooth baritone sax combined with Sandman's voice give it a smoky, jazzy feel. Its like Frank Sinatra with tatoos.

There is not a weak track on the CD. The uptempo songs have that same cool overtones and the slower songs are mellow, but with a greasy groove that keeps them driving.

Candy, In Spite of Me and the title track are other standouts.

Administrator 12/02--7/07
36,839 Posts
Discussion Starter #8 (Edited)
The Kinks -- Lola Versus Powerman & the Money-Go-Round, Part 1

I am a bit short on time to compose a review today, and the review of this album that appears on really says it as well or better than I could. Some would say that Something else is Ray Davies' masterwork. I would say this one is.

Lola" gave the Kinks an unexpected hit and its crisp, muscular sound, pitched halfway between acoustic folk and hard rock, provided a new style for the band. However, the song only hinted at what its accompanying album Lola vs. the Powerman & the Moneygoround, Pt. 1 was all about. It didn't matter that Davies just had his first hit in years — he had suffered greatly at the hands of the music industry and he wanted to tell the story in song. Hence, Lola — a loose concept album about Ray Davies' own psychosis and bitter feelings toward the music industry. Davies never really delivers a cohesive story, but the record holds together because it's one of his strongest set of songs. Dave contributes the lovely "Strangers" and the appropriately paranoid "Rats," but this is truly Ray's show, as he lashes out at ex-managers (the boisterous vaudevillian "The Moneygoround"), publishers ("Denmark Street"), TV and music journalists (the hard-hitting "Top of the Pops"), label executives ("Powerman"), and, hell, just society in general ("Apeman," "Got to Be Free"). If his wit wasn't sharp, the entire project would be insufferable, but the album is as funny as it is angry. Furthermore, he balances his bile with three of his best melancholy ballads: "This Time Tomorrow," "A Long Way From Home," and the anti-welfare and union "Get Back in Line," which captures working-class angst better than any other rock song. These songs provide the spine for a wildly unfocused but nonetheless dazzling tour de force that reveals Davies' artistic strengths and endearing character flaws in equal measure.
I would add that Apeman is just a freaking hilarous tune and A Long Way From Home is a terrific ballad. Waterloo Sunset remains Ray's greatest ballad (of his later work, I'm also partial to Misfits), but Long Way is right up there.

Administrator 12/02--7/07
36,839 Posts
Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
Grateful Dead -- Workingman's Dead and American Beauty

I didn't get around to posting a review yesterday, so a twofer today.

Workingman's Dead and American Beauty, both released in 1970, can be viewed as companion pieces, in sound and style. It doesn't make sense to review one without referencing the other.

Before 1970, the Dead's studio recordings were, well, less than well received. But in 1969, they released Live Dead, which captured the Dead in all their physchedelic jamming glory. 23 minutes of Dark Star melts into St. Stephen into The Eleven (which is a song with 11 beats per measure -- pretty unusual for rock) into Pigpen's rave up on the Boby "Blue" Bland classic Turn on your Lovelight.

In typical GD fashion, the band followed up on that breakthrough success by completely abandoning loud, psychedelic music and going country rock.

Jerry Garcia had an impressive pedigree as a folk and bluegrass player before forming the Dead, especially as a banjo player, so the musical direction was not altogether out of the blue. The Dead were also friends with Crosby, Stills & Nash and artists like Kris Kristofferson (who taught both Janis Joplin and the Dead his song Me & Bobbi McGee on a train trip across Canada. The Dead performed it from that time forward, but of course Janis released it and had the hit).

What really fuels the change from loud, blues-jamming rocker to the tight, melodic songs on these two albums is the need to provide a vehicle for the emergence of Robert Hunter, the longtime lyricist for the band (and particularly for Garcia). Hunter had written a few lyrics for the band already -- the aforementioned Dark Star and St. Stephen, Alligator, etc., but it is with these two albums that he really cements his place in the band.

The pretty Uncle John's Band opens Workingman's Dead. The harmonies are clearly influenced by CSN, and to a lesser extent, The Band. The lyric "Whoa-oh, what I want to know is Are you Kind?" became a sort of Deadhead motto. Jerry's trademark use of modes rather than scales gives the otherwise countryish song a bit of an exotic feel.

Goddamn, well I declare
Have you seen the like?
Their walls are built of cannonballs,
their motto is Don't Tread on Me
Come hear Uncle John's Band
by the riverside
Got some things to talk about
here beside the rising tide

The next song, High Time, boast even more impressive harmonies. When bassist Phil Lesh's voice gave out in the early 70's, many of the songs with the more complicated harmonies had to be dropped from the repetoire.

Dire Wolf follows. Classic Hunter lyrics. Hunter is fascinated with gamblers and highwaymen. Themes of rogues, cowboys, poker and flowers resurface time and again in the Dead catalog.

The wolf came in I got my cards
we sat down for a game
I cut my deck to the Queen of Spades,
but the cards were all the same
Don't murder me
I beg of you don't murder me
Please don't murder me

Dire Wolf also features Garcia on pedel steel guitar, an instrument he picked up rather quickly and showed great promise, often sitting in with their frequent opening act New Riders of the Purple Sage. He began to get a bit of a good reputation, and again, in typical fashion, promptly abandoned the instrument. Other examples of his pedal steel work are The Wheel, from Garcia's debut solo album and Teach Your Children, by CSN.

New Speedway Boogie is a nasty little rocker. The fact that it documents the band's frustration with their involvement at Altamont and the BS aftermath makes the song interesting.

Spent a little time on the mountain
Spent a little time on the hill
Things went down we don't understand
but I think in time we will

Now I don't know but I been told
in the heat of the sun a man died of cold
Do we keep on coming or stand and wait
with the sun so dark and the hour so late

Cumberland Blues has an interesting bluegrass feel to it and was a mainstay of live shows. How many rock bands have a bluegrass influenced song as a mainstay of their concerts?

Black Peter is a depressing ballad about a poor old man, dying alone. I find it haunting, and it is one of my favorite tracks.

Fever roll up to a hundred and five
Roll on up
gonna roll back down
One more day
I find myself alive
maybe go
beneath the ground

Easy Wind is a gritty Pigpen contribution. People underestimate his importance to the early band. He was the only charismatic performer they had. He could step out and get the crowd rocking. His dad was a dj, and he had an encyclopedic knowledge of blues and R&B. His hard drinking killed him in the early 70's.

The album closes with an FM radio staple: Casey Jones. "Riding that train, High on cocaine." Like the above mentioned highwaymen and gambling songs, trains are a frequent theme with the Dead. Strong album, front to back.

American Beauty is even better. The album starts with a Phil Lesh tune he wrote for his dying father, with incredible Hunter Lyrics. My then girlfriend, now wife, insisted that she did not like the Dead when we first started dating. I put on Box of Rain and her jaw dropped. She quickly converted to an all-out Deadhead.

Look out of any window
any morning, any evening, any day
Maybe the sun is shining
birds are winging or
rain is falling from a heavy sky -
What do you want me to do,
to do for you to see you through?
this is all a dream we dreamed
one afternoon long ago

Walk out of any doorway
feel your way, feel your way
like the day before
Maybe you'll find direction
around some corner
where it's been waiting to meet you -
What do you want me to do,
to watch for you while you're sleeping?
Well please don't be surprised
when you find me dreaming too

This is followed by another Hunter tale of a rogue: Friend of the Devil.

I lit out from Reno
I was trailed by twenty hounds
Didn't get to sleep that night
Till the morning came around
Set out running but I take my time
A friend of the devil is a friend of mine
If I get home before daylight
I just might get some sleep tonight

Bob Weir steps out on this album and Sugar Magnolia is a great place to start. In concert, the Dead often would make sugar Magnolia the starting point for a medley, eventually wrapping the medley by coming back to the Sunshine Daydream coda.

Sunshine Daydream
Walk you in the tall trees
Going where the wind goes
Blooming like a red rose
Breathing more freely
Light out singing
I'll walk you in the morning sunshine
Sunshine daydream
Walk you in the sunshine

Operator is another Pigpen blues tune. Very obviously influenced by Chuck Berry's Memphis.

Candyman is another Dead country ballad with the nice harmonies first explored on Workingman's Dead. Once again: a song about a gambling rogue.

Come on all you pretty women, with your hair a hanging down,
Open up your windows cuz the candyman’s in town.
Come on boys and gamble, roll those laughing bones,
Seven come eleven, boys I’ll take your money home.

Look out, look out the candyman,
Here he comes and he’s gone again.
Pretty lady ain’t got no friend ,
Till the candyman comes around again.

Ripple is a gorgeous tune. The mandolin added by longtime Garcia collaborator David Grisman is a tasty touch, complimenting some of Hunter's finest lyrics

If my words did glow with the gold of sunshine
And my tunes were played on the harp unstrung,
Would you hear my voice come thru the music,
Would you hold it near as it were your own?

It’s a hand-me-down, the thoughts are broken,
Perhaps they’re better left unsung.
I don’t know, don’t really care
Let there be songs to fill the air.

Ripple in still water,
When there is no pebble tossed,
Nor wind to blow

The terrific harmonies of Brokedown Palace and Attics of my Life are interupted by the relatively weak 'Till the morning Comes, a pop piece that sounds dated and out of place.

The album closes with the Dead's first Big Hit: Truckin'. A Weir rocker (and singing the damn song for twenty-five years plus, he still fouled up the lyrics more often than not) the road song chronicles a band drug arrest in New Orleans.

Sittin’ and starin’ out of the hotel window.
Got a tip they’re gonna kick the door in again
I’d like to get some sleep before I travel,
But if you got a warrant, I guess you’re gonna come in.

Busted, down on Bourbon Street
set up, like a bowlin’ pin.
Knocked down, get’s to wearin’ thin.
they just won’t let you be

Fully half of these songs became staples of the Dead's live shows. Definitely worth checking out.

By the way, the Long Strange Trip that is a cliche used in every story ever written about the Dead comes from lyrics in Truckin'

Sometimes the light’s all shinin’ on me;
Other times I can barely see.
Lately it occurs to me what a long, strange trip it’s been.

Administrator 12/02--7/07
36,839 Posts
Discussion Starter #10 (Edited)
Jimmy Cliff/Various Artists -- The Harder They Come (soundtrack)

Desmond Dekker and the Aces had some chart success in the late 60's with The Isrealites. But that was considered a novelty hit. Johnny Nash was technically the first reggae artist to break through in the U.S. with "I Can See Clearly Now." but that was lightweight fare, unlikely to have a lasting impact on the rock crowd.

It is Jimmy Cliff, with this album (and movie, which I recommend as well), that really established reggae as an international phenomenon.

Cliff starred in the movie and contributed four songs to the soundtrack, each of which is legendary and essential reggae listening. Through his career, Jimmy Cliff has fluctuated beteen bitter, political songs and more commercial, lightweight stuff. (His movie career has fluctuated similarly -- compare the gritty story of a young Jamaican struggling against the corrupt Kingston gangster record execs in this movie to the throwaway Club Paradise, with Robin Williams).

Cliff's songs here perfectly balance his tendencies. The political material is not overbearing (compare with his Viet Nam). The softer material is uplifting and positive, without being cloying or sentimental.

You Can Get It If You Really Want It opens the soundtrack and is the most frequently recurring song in the movie. It is an upbeat, rocking reggae song, with a positive message.

You can get it if you really want
You can get it if you really want
You can get it if you really want
But you must try, try and try
Try and try, you'll succeed at last

Persecution you must bear
Win or lose you've got to get your share
Got your mind set on a dream
You can get it, though harder them seem

The "try and try's" soar, and you will hum the tune long after its over.

The other rocker Cliff contributes is the anti-organized religion title track, which rivals the Marley-Tosh "Get Up Stand UP" for venting the anger of Jamaicans at the white colonial missionaries -- more concerned with maintaining the power structure than saving souls.

Well they tell me of a pie up in the sky
Waiting for me when I die
But between the day you're born and when you die
They never seem to hear even your cry

So as sure as the sun will shine
I'm gonna get my share now of what's mine
And then the harder they come the harder they'll fall, one and all

The ballads Many Rivers to Cross and Sitting in Limbo are delightfully spiritual.

There's so many rivers to cross
and I can't seem to find my way home.
Wandering, I'm lost
as I travel as I travel along, the White Cliffs of Dover


I don't know where life will lead me
But I know where I've been
I can't say what life will show me
But I know what I've seen
Tried my hand at love and friendship
But all that is passed and gone
This little boy is moving on

Sitting here in limbo waiting for the tide to flow
Sitting here in limbo knowing that I have to go
Well they're putting up resistance
But I know that my faith will lead me on

These songs are almost reggae gospel music.

If Cliff's work was the only thing to recommend the album, that would be enough. But it is an essential collection of early reggae. The Rude Boy style is represented by the Slickers' Johnny Too Bad and the aforementioned Desmond Dekker's Shanty Town. The Maytalls (later known as Toots and the Maytalls, when it became clear that Toots Hibbard had star power) contribute two fine tracks: Sweet & Dandy and the often-covered Pressure Drop (see The Clash and Robert Palmer for examples).

Everyone on the planet should own at least one, or even better two Bob Marley albums (Legend and its sequel Natural Mystic would be solid choices). This CD compliments those albums nicely for a "mini reggae collection."

Administrator 12/02--7/07
36,839 Posts
Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
Sonic Youth -- Daydream Nation

The last of Sonic Youth's indie releases, Daydream Nation is also their magnum opus. Sister and Evol may come close, but this is the pinnacle. The perfect balance of artsy pretension and actual listenability.

Kim Gordon's driving bass anhors the manic, experimental guitar playing of Thurston Moore and Lee Renaldo -- the masters of atonal, unheard of tunings.

The album opens with the definitive Sonic Youth: Teenage Riot

The song begins softly, with Kim whispering Sweet Nothings (you're it, no You'r it, Spirit Desires, We will fall) to a pulsing rhythm. Then the guitars kick in -- a chugging riff that is noisy and disorienting, but still friendly to the ear. Thurston actually puts some emotion into singing the lyrics. 7 minutes of delicious pop noise.

Everybody's coming from the winter vacation
Taking in the sun in a exaltation to you
You come running in on platform shoes
With Marshall stacks
To at least just give us a clue
Ah, here it comes
I know it's someone I knew

Teenage riot in a public station
Gonna fight and tear it up in a hypernation for you

Now I see it
I think I'll leave it out of the way
Now I come near you
And it's not clear why you fade away

The album goes on for 70 minutes, with some of the most creative noise you have ever heard. It gets retty wierd with songs like Providence (Moore on a piano, an amp frying out and telephone messages from Mike Watt). the closing Trilogy perhaps could have stood some editing.

Eric's Trip is a guitar tor-de-force over a hypnotic steady beat.

Songs like Candle and Total Trash maintain actual song form, but mostly the songs melt into each other, one layer of noise after another. After Teenage Riot, which was intended to be and was released as a single, it almost doesn't make sense to talk about the individual songs on Daydream Nation. The album is intended to be, and should be heard as a whole. Preferably with headphones.

If you are ready for Daydream Nation, you are ready to check out some more "out there" jazz -- Sun Ra, Rasshaan Roland Kirk, Ornette Coleman and modern composers like John Cage, Phillip Glass or Karl Stockhousan.

Administrator 12/02--7/07
36,839 Posts
Discussion Starter #12
Jeff Beck -- Blow by Blow

Anyone who has followed the music threads on this board probably already knows this is one of my alltime favorite albums.

Beck is one of the most creative guitarists to have come out of the 60's and is vastly underappreciated, because from a style standpoint, his career has been all over the map. It probably hurts him that he is notoriously difficult to work with and has a habit of walking out on tours and bands when he is not pleased.

But this is one of the left turns of his career that worked. He left behind the blues-rock of the first two Jeff Beck Groups and formed a jazz-rock fusion band. In 1975, a guitar-led instrumental album by a rock artist was a rarity, and its release was quite a risk. But the album is brilliant and was actually a fairly big hit. Certainly the biggest of Jeff's career.

Jeff extends into jazz chords and jazz arrangements, with a rock edge, but manages to stay tasteful and melodic. Fusion often tended to get a little too busy and stressed bombast over feeling. Jeff fell victim somewhat to that tendency on the (still terrific) follow up, Wired. But here, its all about the music. I credit producer George Martin with keeping egos and arrangements relatively grounded.

The opener, You Know What I Mean, has a funky, almost danceable groove. If there were horns, it could almost be a JB's composition. Jeff wails over the groove.

She's a Woman, the Beatles tune, comes up next, again, tweaked with a funky edge. Jeff's use of a talk box works here, and avoids the Peter Frampton talk box cheese.

Airblower boasts a sophisticated arrangement with multitracked guitars playing well off each other.

Scatterbrain is a band showpiece, and Jeff trades some fancy licks with keyboardist Max Middleton.

Stevie Wonder contributes not one, but two original songs for the album. 'Cause We Ended as Lovers is one of the best songs on the album. Slow and haunting. As Nigel Tufnel would surely comment: "just listen to the sustain..."

The second Wonder track immediately follows: Thelonius is a thoroug funk workout.

Freeway Jam is the center piece of the album and is the most rocking song on the album. True to its title, it makes for great driving music.

The album closes with Diamond Dust, an 8 minute suite that is surely George Martin influenced, with its heavy orchestration and strings. It is a ballad that is just the cooldown needed after the adrenalin rush of the songs that preceed it.

Without the success of Blow by Blow, there would be no Steve Vai, Eric Johnson or Joe Satriani. You simply cannot overstate the importance of this album on the world of rock guitar.

Administrator 12/02--7/07
36,839 Posts
Discussion Starter #13
The Orb -- Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld

An album that virtually singlehandedly created a new musical genre definitely deserves mention as a "Recommendation of the Day."

Ultraworld is the first album of Ambiant House. Dr. Alex Paterson's unique DJ stylings in "chill out" rooms of techno/rave clubs in England, inspired by Tangerine Dream and Brian Eno, mixed dance beats and basslines (at much much lower bpm's than techno), found sounds (NASA, spoken word, nature sounds), Chicago House samples and singing divas into a delicious mish-mosh. Ultraworld is nearly a two hour trip.

The album starts out with the hit Little Fluffy Clouds. Now, I have to admit, The Orb definitely lose some points for allowing this gem to be used in a VW commercial. Still, it is an ambient music classic. Driving dance beats back a sample of Ricki Lee Jones interviewed by LeVarr Burton on "Reading Rainbow," discussing the clouds in the sky when she was growing up. A truly stoned dance classic.

Earth (Gaia) is very much inspired by Hawkwind and Pink Floyd. Deeeeeeep space music, with a beat.

Spanish Castles in the Sky eliminates the beats, and is a wash of synth and bass.

The reggae tinged Perpetual Dawn is one of the highlights of the album.

The centerpiece of the double album is the 22 minutes of the closing "A Huge Ever Pulsating Brain that Rules From the Center of the Ultraworld (Loving You). Numbing and intense, but not without humor (note the oddly placed crowing rooster in the middle).

Much of what is known as ambient music is suitable for nothing but background noise. But Ultraworld is ambient music you can listen to. The throbbing bass and pulsing rhythms give the music a shamanistic, tribal quality. Although thoroughly modern, with synths and samples, Ultraworld seems to tap into something very ancient at the back of your brain.

Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld. Chill, my children. Chill.

Administrator 12/02--7/07
36,839 Posts
Discussion Starter #14 (Edited)
The Cars -- The Cars

When every song on your debut album still gets airplay on classic rock radio more than 25 years after its release, you did something right.

And so it is with The Cars. The Cars managed to be New Wave without getting mired down in herky jerky rhythms or overenamoured with synthesizers. Their tunes were pop tight, radio friendly, and catchy, but still fresh and original. Ric Ocasek's voice is immediately recognizable. Ben Orr's bass is steady and Eliot Easton was easily the cream of the crop of the New Wave guitarists. the debut was also the highlight of the band's career. Candy-O, the follow up, was pretty good, if a bit more "typical" new wave. By the time they released Heartbreak City, loaded with MTV schlock, they were hardly recognizable as the same band.

The track list speaks for itself:

Let the Good Times Roll
My Best Friend's Girl
Just What I needed
I'm in Touch with your World
Don't Cha Stop
You're All I've Got Tonight
Bye Bye Love
Moving in Stereo
All Mixed Up

And who can hear Moving in Stereo without having a flashback to Judge Reinhold bopping his bologna to a Phoebe Cates fantasy in Fast Times at Ridgemont High?

This is a short review, but what can you say? Everyone knows these songs. The fact that they all appeared on a single, debut release, makes this a worthy recommendation of the Day.

Administrator 12/02--7/07
36,839 Posts
Discussion Starter #15 (Edited)
Van Mossison -- Astral Weeks and Moondance

O.K. With the holiday weekend and some computer downtime, when my DSL went out in the severe storms through the midwest, I'm a bit behind again.

So I start getting caught up with another Twofer.

Van Morrison's solo debut, Astral Weeks, is regarded as one of the most important albums of the rock canon. Its mixture of jazz, blues, folk, abstract poetry and Van the Man's remarkable voice combine for a masterpiece that sounds like nothing else you've ever heard.

The song stylings of Them (Gloria, and a cover of Baby, Please Don't Go, for instance) and the late 60's hit in Brown Eyed Girl certainly did not prepare anyone for this outpouring of pure artistry, but the foundation was already there. Van did not want to sing anything as pop and predictible as Brown Eyed Girl, and the compromise with his producers was the agrement to supply the studio time and musicians for the haunting extended poetic ravings of T.B. Sheets, a moody piece about an awkward, nervous friend visiting a dying turburculosis patient.

Ha, so open up the window and let me breathe.
I said open up the window, shh shh shh shh shh and let me breathe.
I'm looking down to the street below, Lord, I cried for you,
Ha ha, I cried, I cried for you, ha ha. Oh, Lord.

The cool room, Lord is a fool's room.
The cool room, Lord is a fool's room.
And I can almost smell your T.B. sheets
And I can almost smell your T.B. sheets
On your sick bed.

I gotta go, I gotta go
And you said, "Please stay, I wanna, I wanna,
I want a drink of water, I want a drink of water,
Go in the kitchen get me a drink of water."
I said, "I gotta go, I gotta go, baby."
I said, "I'll send, I'll send somebody around here later.
You know we got John comin' around here later
With a bottle of wine for you, baby - but I gotta go

But, as often as its been repackages, T.B. Sheets did not get the exposure it deserved. So Astral Weeks came out of left field.

The opening title track, rife with flute and violin, sets the mood, as does Beside You and Sweet Thing. Van belting his Belfast Soul over jazzy, meditative hymns.

Cyprus Avenue is one of the centerpeces of the album, a tribute to the power of rock music. Building from a meditative beginning, it stops and starts and builds into intensity.

And all the little girls rhyme something
On the way back home from school
And all the little girls rhyme something
On the way back home from school
And the leaves fall one by one by one by one
Call the autumn time a fool
Yeah baby my tongue gets tied
Every every every time I try to speak
My tongue gets tied
Every time I try to speak
And my inside shakes just like a leaf on a tree
I think I'll go on by the river with my cherry cherry wine
I believe I'll go walking by the railroad with my cherry cherry wine

As Van would famously sing..."Its Too Late To Stop Now!!!"

The Way Young Lovers Do is Van at his most passionate. As a sidenote, Jeff Buckley made this song a peak point of his concerts, with over-the-top vocals highlighting the tortured angst of the original.

We strolled through fields all wet with rain
And back along the lane again
There in the sunshine
In the sweet summertime
The way that young lovers do

Madame George, with its gender-bending ambiguous lyrics is one of the best known tracks and perhaps Morrison's finest point in writing.

On that train from Dublin up to Sandy Row
Throwing pennies at the bridges down below
And the rain, hail, sleet, and snow
Say goodbye to Madame George
Dry your eye for Madame George
Wonder why for Madame George
And as you leave, the room is filled with music, laughing, music,
dancing, music all around the room
And all the little boys come around, walking away from it all
So cold
And as you're about to leave
She jumps up and says Hey love, you forgot your gloves
And the gloves to love to love the gloves...
To say goodbye to Madame George
Dry your eye for Madame George
Wonder why for Madame George
Dry your eyes for Madame George
Say goodbye in the wind and the rain on the back street
In the backstreet, in the back street
Say goodbye to Madame George
In the backstreet, in the back street, in the back street
Down home, down home in the back street
Gotta go
Say goodbye, goodbye, goodbye

Ballerina is a beautiful meditative study, with the gorgeous spaces framed by tasty xylophone fills.

Spread your wings
Come on fly awhile
Straight to my arms
Little angel child
You know you only
Lonely twenty-two story block
And if somebody, not just anybody
Wanted to get close to you
For instance, me, baby
All you gotta do
Is ring a bell
Step right up, step right up
And step right up
Crowd will catch you
Fly it, sigh it, try it
Well, I may be wrong
But something deep in my heart tells me I’m right and I don’t think so

By the last notes of Slim Slow Rider, you are at the end of an exhausted, emotional statement of purpose. Van was here and was ready to be dealt with on his own, peculiar terms.

Moondance is the flipside of Van Morisson's personality. On this album, Van seems to embrace the radio friendly pop he fought so hard against when recording for Bang records (Brown Eyed Girl, Spanish Rose, Ro Ro Rosie, etc)

But it is pop on Van's terms -- full of spirituality and embracing the beauty of nature. The jazz is minimalized, but the arrangements are still fresh and beautifully crafted. This is folk, brought uptown.

And it Stoned Me opens the album. One of Van's greatest songs, musing on the simplicity of a childhood summer day. There is a clarity of vision that calls to mind the works of James Joyce.

Half a mile from the county fair
And the rain keep pourin' down
Me and Billy standin' there
With a silver half a crown
Hands are full of a fishin' rod
And the tackle on our backs
We just stood there gettin' wet
With our backs against the fence

Oh, the water
Oh, the water
Oh, the water
Hope it don't rain all day

And it stoned me to my soul
Stoned me just like Jelly Roll
And it stoned me
And it stoned me to my soul
Stoned me just like goin' home
And it stoned me

Moondance follows -- a terrific one-two punch. Jazzy chords and Van's blues wail, this is, besides Brown Eyed Girl, probably Van's best known work.

Crazy Love is a short pop song, but in spirit, it connects the listener to the meat of the album -- the parts that most reflect the glorious statement that was Astral Weeks.

Caravan brings us to that place. "Turn it up..little bit higher."' This is where the vocal ticks and mannerisms that became Morrison's vocal trademarks began to come into focus.

Turn up your radio and let me hear the song
Switch on your electric light
Then we can get down to what is really wrong
I long to hold you tight so I can feel you
Sweet lady of the night I shall reveal you
Turn it up, turn it up, little bit higher, radio
Turn it up, that's enough, so you know it's got soul
Radio, radio turn it up, hum
Laaaa Laa La La...LaLa Laaaa

Into the Mystic is probably the song that defines Van Morrison as a performer more than any other single piece of music. Bulding off the artistic and emotional growth of T.B. Sheets, Cyprus Avenus and Into the Mystic, Van Rocks his Gypsy Soul. And he means it.

And when that fog horn blows I will be coming home
And when that fog horn blows I want to hear it
I don’t have to fear it
I want to rock your gypsy soul
Just like way back in the days of old
Then magnificently we will float into the mystic

the second half is more of the same pop bliss with a purpose. Come Running, These Dreams of You, Brand New Day, Everyone, Glad Tidings -- concert staples for Van the Man.

It was a slogan for Superman: The Movie, but it applies to this album: You will believe a man can fly.

Administrator 12/02--7/07
36,839 Posts
Discussion Starter #16

I'm still a bit behind and determined to catch up.

However, as I reflect on my choices of reviews, I have mixed feelings. I see the reviews posted on the thread in which I've invited posters to review, and the selections are much less obvious and therefore, more interesting -- to me.

However, part of what I'm doing here is laying a foundation for music discussion later, and I want people on the same page. I want to make sure we're familiar with what I consider to be albums of some musical importance. On the other hand, I don't want to review something so obvious as, say Led Zeppelin Iv (or Untitled or Zoso or however you want to refer to it).

The question is -- am I going over material that is too familiar? Or am I on the right track? I invite you to go to the discussion thread and share your input.

Administrator 12/02--7/07
36,839 Posts
Discussion Starter #17 (Edited)
The Clash -- The Clash and London Calling

Another twofer.

Punk was not necessarily "new" when The Clash released their first singles, which were later compiled onto their first album (which was further supplemented for the later US release, which is the reference point for this review). American proto punk bands like the MC5 and New York Dolls had already come and gone. The Ramones were doing their thing in the Bowery in New York. Whether the Sex Pistols were legitimate artists or the punk version of The Monkees (depends on who you ask --either way, the music on Never Mind the Bullocks is brilliant), they had already had their breakthrough when The Clash got their start.

Nonetheless, it is The Clash who are the standardbearers of all that is glorious about punk. Their playing was simple and passionate, but not amateurish. They mixed anger, humor and politics in their music and their lyrics. Sort of like a punk Bob Dylan, Joe Strummer's drunken slurred bellow wasn't techically pretty, but the voice fit the song, and the passion and sincerity rang through. For songs with more comprehensible lyrics, Mick Jones did the trick.

Jones and Strummer were a pair destined to implode, but the manner in which they played their strengths off each other is what made the band truly special. Strummer's raw intensity gave The Clash pure punk credibility. A generation of London punks hocked gobs of approval onstage to validate the message. Jones' musical curiosity -- interest in world music, reggae, blues, jazz, dance music, experimental music -- kept the band growing in ways other two chord wonders of the period never could.

The Clash starts out with one of my favorite Clash tracks ever -- Clash City Rockers. The guitar riff is clearly nicked from The Who's I Can't Explain (with a couple of extra chords kicked in). Strummer's nearly unintellgible vocals make it nearly impossible not to pogo dance.

The album continues on -- spewing anger and angst, and perfectly capturing the discontent of a depressed, unemployed and hopeless generation of English working class youth:

I'm So Bored With the U.S.A.
Remote Control
Complete Control
White Riot
White Man in Hammersmith Palias
London Burning

I Fought the Law is a burnign cover of the 60's Bobby Fuller 4 hit (its one of the additions to the US version).

Police & Thieves is a cover of a reggae standard by Junior Martin. It forshadows the World sound of latter day, Jones dominated Clash (and even more so, Jones' Big Audio Dynamite).

For the sake of space, I'll just say that every one of the albums 15 tracks jumps out of the stereo at you. A remarkable debut indeed.

The follow-up, Give 'Em Enough Rope, is appropriately titled. (Line adapted from the famous review of Led Zeppelin's Song Remains the Same..."The most aptly named album since Emerson, Lake and Palmer's Welcme Back my Friends to the Show that Never Ends").

But then magic happened. All the diversity and passion and talent that encompassed The Clash came together in an album that shook the world.

London Calling.

Starting with its wonderful cover, with a black and white photo of Paul Simonen destroying his bass, and Elvis Presly inspired album graphics, London Calling is a remarkable record.

some highlights:

The title track opens the album. Political. Apocolyptic. Essential.

Brand New Cadillac. The Clash's later Rock the Casbah perhaps finds its roots here -- without the dancebeats. (Rock the Casbah lyrics -- The sheik he drove his Cadillac, He went a' cruisnin' down the ville, The muezzin was a' standing On the radiator griii-ii-ii-ii-iille)

Believe it or not, Brand New Cadillac has its roots in classic blues.

Jimmy Jazz. Very much not punk. But an incredible piece of music, with a wonderful sense of humor.

Rudie Can't Fail. One of my favorite tracks. Brew for breakfast. An anthem.

Spanish Bombs. Often cited as one of the album's highlights. Punk, political, sloppy, yet tuneful. A perfect blend of what The Clash is all about.

You can't talk about this album without mentioning The Right Profile. What punk band writes a song about dead, gay English film leading men like Montgomery Clift?

Lost in the Supermarket is a wonderful song, but an enigma. It is punk, yet laid back. Radio friendly, but strange. Again -- what The Clash are all about.

Clampdown. Pure Punk. Slashing power chords. Close to the mike snarling. What are the words? Who #$%#&& cares? Its The Clash.

Train in Vain. Huge song. The Clash didn't even list it as a track on the album cover. "You didn't stand by me...No not at all...Didn't stand by me...No Way"

like the first album, there is hardly a weak song on what was originally a double album. Leaving off comentary on Guns of Brixton, Wrong 'Em Boyo, Koka Kola, Revolution Rock, and the rest is not to suggest they are any less essential.

London Calling is always at or near the top of every "Top Rock Album" list ever compiled. And for good reason. If I had to pick a single release to define to a stranger to this planet what Rock is all about, and especially Punk Rock, in its finest hour, London Calling would be a strong choice.

Administrator 12/02--7/07
36,839 Posts
Discussion Starter #18
Uncut presents "The Devil's Music"

OK. A bit obscure and now probably hard to find. but WHAT a CD!!!

An issue of the UK's music magazine Uncut included a bonus CD of music handpicked by The Human Riff himself -- Keith Richards. Songs that influenced him. As the CD cover exclaims "Keith Richard's Personal Compilation of Blues, Soul and R&B Classics). The issue was...oh, about early '03.

[Sidenote] One of the musical highlights of my life was going to one of the first Chicago Blues Fests on a night Chuck Berry was the headliner. We got there early to get pavillion seats. Keith Richards had just produced a documentary about Berry, and sure enough, 3/4 of the way through the set, who walks out on stage but the darker half of The Glimmer Twins himself. A 20 Minute Johnny B. Goode followed, with Keef taking some insanely funky solos. [/sidenote]

The material speaks for itself. It is one of the best compilations I have ever come across (at least as to the genres covered here). A terrific sampling of roots blues, modern blues, trad country, R&B, reggae, New Orleans soul, jazz. Actually, a (pleasantly)unexpected emphasis on Louisiana. Good God. I will simply list the tracks. If you can't find the CD, perhaps you could assemble the tracks online. I can't recommend these songs enough, and as diverse as they are, they work great together.

Amos Milburn -- Down the Road Apiece
Jackie Brenston -- Rocket 88
Robert Johnson -- Preachin' Blues (Up Jumped the Devil)
Muddy Waters -- Rolling Stone
Jimmy Rogers -- Goin' Away Baby
Leadbelly -- The Midnight Special
Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown -- Okie Dokie Swamp
Clifton Chenier -- Ay-TeTe Fee
Professor Longhair -- Mardi Gras in New Orleans
Little Richard -- Good Golly Miss Molly
Billie Holiday -- He's Funny That Way
John Lee Hooker -- I'm in the Mood
Bob Marley & The Wailers -- Jah is Mighty
Hank Williams -- You Win Again
Ike & Tina Turner -- I Can't Believe What You Say
BB King -- Every Day I have the Blues
T-Bone Walker -- Stormy Monday
Howlin' Wolf -- Moanin' at Midnight
Blind Willie McTell -- Talkin' to your Mama
Clarence "Bon Ton" Garlow -- Bon Ton Roulet
Aaron Neville -- Tell it Like it Is
Albert King -- That's What the Blues is All about
Irma Thomas -- Ruler of My Heart
Otis Redding -- Pain in my Heart
Booker T & The MG's -- Baby, Scratch My Back
Al Green -- Take Me To the River

AAAAAHHHH....Isn't that better?

Administrator 12/02--7/07
36,839 Posts
Discussion Starter #19 (Edited)
Pink Floyd -- Meddle

Piper at the Gates of Dawn deserves praise as the First Great Pink Floyd Album. However, it is the album that Syd Barrett led and dominated. As such, while it stands out as one of the truly remarkable albums of the psychedelic late 60's -- and THE definitive album of Swinging London (BTW, I would nominate Love's two classics -- Da Capo and Forever Changes as the definitive American psychedelic albums).

As a Syd dominated album, it is an anomoly in the Floyd catalog, and really stands apart from the rest of the band's output. After the debut, the rest of the band's career would encompass the intertwining of David Gilmour's tasteful guitar (and although Roger Waters was officially the bass player, it was often Gilmour who played bass on the records as well) and Rick Wright's prog rock keyboards with Roger's tortured vocals and vision as a lyrical storyteller.

Meddle is the point at which all the parts first came together.

Echoes, the closing track, is the albums centerpiece and highlight. 23 minutes of brooding instrumental. All Pink Floyd that follows has Echoes as its skelatal blueprint. For those too stoned to remember the viewing, Echoes is also a highlight of the movie Pink Floyd at Pompeii.

The album starts with one of my Floyd favorites: One of These Days, another (mostly) instrumental piece. The driving, slap echoed bass anchors the spooky keys and whining, divebombing guitars. The track is split by the strangled cry "One of The Days I'm Going to Cut You Into Tiny Pieces..." before the track erupts into even more frenetic energy, before segueing into an early synth experiment, all jerking and pulsing analog synth electronica.

Also of note is the folk side of Floyd, which is sadly overlooked. On Meddle, this side of the band is best represented by the wonderful track Fearless. Gilmour's ascending riff on an alternately tuned acoustic guitar is standout, as are his always pleasing, breathy vocals.

Fearlessly, the idiot faced the crowd
Merciless, the magistrate turns 'round
And who's the fool who wears the crown?
And go down in your own way
And every day is the right day
And as you rise above the fear-lines in his brow
You look down
Hear the sound of the faces in the crowd

The soccer chants on Fearless forshadow the pioneering Found Sounds work that was integral to the Pink Floyd Experience.

Perhaps the best part of Meddle is that it is equally good as anything in the Floyd canon, but the songs get virtually no airplay, so they are not overplayed and overly familiar. Get your dose of Fresh Floyd. Put Meddle on the headphones, settle back inthe bean bag chair and prepare to mellow.

Administrator 12/02--7/07
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Discussion Starter #20 (Edited)
Rush -- 2112

After Rush got the Led Zep thing out of their system with their first few albums, the band's essence congealed into the progressive metal force that was its essence, starting with 2112.

The original vinyl had the 2112 piece comprising the entire first side, and it is an impressive piece of work that stands up to their best work...especially with the first 10 minutes or so that is the opening 2112: Overture/Temples of Sphyrynx.

The Overture is a showcase for guitarist Alex Lifeson. Alex's trademark compound chords get a workout, and the slap echoes from his effects rack are used to great...well, effect.

The instrumental is in constant overdrive until the final moments, where the music slows and breathes, while bassist/vocalist Geddy Lee croons "...And the meek shall inherit the Earth..."

Before the metal fury kicks up a notch and Geddy slips into full Banshee wail in the person of the priests of The Temple of Syrynx.

Lyricist/drummer Neal Peart created a science fiction masterpiece with 2112, envisioning a world run by computers, and where freedom and creativity are forbidden. To sustain order, music is outlawed.

The remaining sections of the piece tell the story of a man who finds a guitar, left from days of old, and teaches himself to play it. He brings it to the priests to show them the thing of beauty he has discovered and is oppressed. Finally, the space "calvery" comes to the rescue to overthrow the priests.

Attention all Planets of the Solar Federation
We have assumed control.
We have assumed control.

The second half of the album is shorter songs. There are some gems among them.

A Passage to Bangkok has a typically brilliant Lifeson chord progression and is a break from the somewhat somber and artsy pretensions of Rush, since it is basically an around the world ode to pot.

Our first stop is in Bogota
To check Colombian fields
The natives smile and pass along
A sample of their yield
Sweet Jamaican pipe dreams
Golden Acapulco nights
Then Morocco, and the East,
Fly by morning light

We're on the train to Bangkok
Aboard the Thailand Express
We'll hit the stops along the way
We only stop for the best

Twilight Zone is an appropriately morose and spooky ballad.

You have entered the twilight zone
Beyond this world strange things are known
Use the key, unlock the door
See what your fate might have in store
Come explore your dreams’ creation
Enter this world of imagination

The closing Something for Nothing is perhaps one of Rush's best full on metal anthems.

You don't get something for nothing
You can't have freedom for free
You won't get wise
With the sleep still in your eyes
No matter what your dreams might be

What you own is your own kingdom
What you do is your own glory
What you love is your own power
What you live is your own story
In your head is the answer
Let it guide you along
Let your heart be the anchor
And the beat of your own song

Clearly, the band in its writing and musicianship had not fully realized its potential. That wouldn't happen until the Holy Trinity of Rush albums" Permanent Waves, Moving Pictures and Signals. But this is the first great Rush album and it is fully worth the time for a listen.

And check out the ridiculous foofy white outfits the band donned for the inside cover...LOL!

nice hair, guys.
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