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Happy 2013, folks!

In musings on January 17, 2013 at 1:19 am

Hello music fans. 

Long-time no see. Life has gotten in the way of my latest musical adventures, and as such, I’ve been MIA for sometime. But I need to share some great successes with you that I am so excited about. 

Last year was fantastic for earphone adventures! Year-over-year, the number of views on EA grew by almost 500% (yes, that’s right).

 

Average Unique Views per month: 1200

Posts Written in 2012: 67

Number of Visiting Countries: 119

 

Next up on the list of albums….Frank Sinatra’s In The Wee Small Hours Of The Morning, followed by a smattering of others. In the meantime, have you been following the success of  the HAIM ladies? Check out our post about them from March last year!

Many thanks for your support in the last year, and here’s to the future.

Best wishes to you and yours for 2013.

Cheers,

Brady

#138 – Rejuvenation (The Meters)

In 150-125, Top 150 on May 21, 2011 at 12:00 pm

Oh yeah, this groovy album by The Meters makes me feel gooood. I’m just saying!

I thought I knew The Meters from somewhere, but had no idea where. When I got their album into my iTunes I realized that one of their tunes, ‘Liver Splash’, was on Jack Johnson’s Thicker Than Water soundtrack, and so I already knew The Meters! Incroiable!

So damn, this album has got some groovy tunes on it.

Rejuvenation Album Art (July 1974)

Track Listing

  1. People Say
  2. Love Is for Me
  3. Just Kissed My Baby
  4. What’cha Say
  5. Jungle Man
  6. Hey Pocky A-Way
  7. It Ain’t No Use
  8. Loving You Is on My Mind
  9. Africa

The Meters have some serious funk happening on this album. It reminds me of the movie Anchorman, to be honest. Which is hilarious, but a true fact. It’s got some guitar-riffs and heavy, driving riffs on the keys that are typical to a lot of music in the 70s! It screams Ron Burgandy!

The Meters are based in New Orleans, Louisiana, as I’ve read, which explains why there’s also a Nola flair to the syncopated rhythms and subtle, sexy bass guitar. It’s a great combo! And it’s a great album to listen to on a Summer day or when you’re feeling a bit wild and ready for a little bit of lovin’.

The album starts off with a quiet and funky electric guitar before some drums and equally funky bass guitar and keys are added in, building into a layered, driving, funk-combination. There’s also a heavy use of horns on this album, which adds a bit of sass into the entire sound (and again, reminds me of New Orleans). I actually also read that The Meters played some backing for other New Orleans artists, such as Dr. John the Night Tripper. And that makes perfect sense because Dr. John also played with another of artists. Ah, the connections between all this music are starting to make sense, aren’t they? Very cool!

Anyway, this is a fun album and unique to anything I’ve listened to on the list so far. Again, its so wild, because I went from Phil Spector’s Christmas album, to U2′s attempt at re-establishing their musical Greatness, to this radically free-spirited, but musically tight album by The Meters. I love the diversity on this list.

Give The Meters a listen. What do they make you think of?

#139 – All That You Can’t Leave Behind (U2)

In 150-125, Top 150 on May 19, 2011 at 12:00 pm

It’s a Beautiful Day! (I’m hilarious, and if you don’t know why yet, maybe you’ll know by the end of this post) I’ve made it past the first 10 albums! It’s insane to think that I’m only at 139, because I have been writing about an album every week for a while now. But I guess that’s 10 weeks, isn’t it? (Yes, it is). Okay then.

This next album is very familiar to me. U2′s All That You Can’t Leave Behind is an album that distinctly reminds me of September 11, 2001, and I think it always will. The album was released in its entirety on October 30, 2000 and several singles were released (and re-released) during the following year. I remember especially that ‘Stuck In A Moment You Can’t Get Out Of’ was re-released with overlays of emergency tapes and news reports after the attacks on the Twin Towers. That’s the first thing I think of when I hear that song.  And the entire CD just sounds familiar since they were only released ten years ago.

All That You Can't Leave Behind (October 30, 2000)

Track Listing

  1. Beautiful Day
  2. Stuck In A Moment You Can’t Get Out of
  3. Elevation
  4. Walk On
  5. Kite
  6. In A Little While
  7. Wild Honey
  8. Peace On Earth
  9. When I Look At The World
  10. New York
  11. Grace
From my own research, its been widely quoted that U2 publicly said the release of this album was them re-applying for the job of best band in the world. This album has got powerful lyrics mixed into well-coordinated rock album. I haven’t heard much U2 from the 90′s, but apparently All That You Can’t Leave Behind was preceded by a lot of experimental albums, including some dance tracks.  This album has a mix of elements from the bands past including an electric drum track on ‘Beautiful Day’ and also heavy use of synths as well (that are seamlessly integrated with the typical resonating, echoing, atmospheric U2-sounding guitars). I love the diversity of this album as well. I mean, I have to say that U2 has a very distinct sound – Bono’s vocal style is practically recognizable if you haven’t even heard U2. I know, impossible, but you get the idea. But overall, there is a great change of pace and stylistic elements from ‘Beautiful Day’, to ‘Elevation’ to ‘In A Little While’. It’s refreshing and keeps you engaged as you continue to listen to the album. Of course, we all know Bono now as one of the most publicized celebrity-philanthropists and political activists. Some of those themes can be seen on this album (‘Walk On’ and ‘Peace on Earth’ are great examples of this).
I love the feeling of nostalgia when I listen to this album. What about you? Does this bring back memories for you?

#141 – Live At The Regal (B.B. King)

In 150-125, Top 150 on May 16, 2011 at 11:29 am

‘Live At The Regal’ is widely considered to be one of the best blues recordings of all-time, and you can understand why when you listen to B.B. King’s live performance at the Regal Theatre in Chicago. It was recorded on November 21, 1964 and released in 1965.

Album Art

Track Listing

  1. Everyday I Have The Blues
  2. Sweet Little Angel
  3. It’s My Own Fault
  4. How Blue Can You Get
  5. Please Love Me
  6. You Upset Me Baby
  7. Worry, Worry
  8. Woke Up This Mornin’
  9. You Done Lost Your Good Thing Now
  10. Help The Poor
The album flows seamlessly from track to track as the audience roars and B.B. ad-libs and his band vamps a few bars in transition. The album oozes with soul and passion, and the recording beautifully captures the feeling of the concert. Or at least, I think it does. I don’t really know. But it’s playful, interactive, and exciting to listen to. According to a few sources online, B.B. doesn’t think this is his best recording, despite all the accolades received, including the #141 spot on the Top 500 Albums of All Time by Rolling Stone. 
Comparing this album to others I’ve heard so far from the mid-60s, what’s interesting are the subtleties in B.B.’s guitar playing – the vibrato, the slides on the guitar. B.B. gives his guitar a full voice, as though its a singer in his band. And now, comparing it to current guitarists, I notice similarities between the sound of John Mayer and B.B. King. I’m not a guitar expert, but that’s who I immediately think of. They both play their guitars as though they are a countering vocalist, playing off each other’s silences. 
What do you think about this recording? Is it the best Blues recording of all time? If not, what album do you think is?
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#148 – Deja Vu (Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young)

In 150-125, Top 150 on March 21, 2011 at 2:58 pm
Cover of "Deja Vu"

Cover of Deja Vu

So here’s the interesting thing about this project for me so far, aside from listening to all this great music, clearly.

First off, I’m moving through the albums much slower than I anticipated. I’m only on 147! What the deuce!? But to be honest, I’m okay with that. Although right now I’ve listened to one album and written something about once per month. At that rate, it will take me 12 years and 2 months to finish this project. I should probably pick up the pace, eh? Alas. I will go as I please and enjoy.

So number 147…here we are!

Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. I am loving this project already so much because I am making a ton of connections with different bands and understanding so much about the development and restructuring of different artists and groups, and how it leads to other groups and legendary records. Very cool. For one (and I feel ridiculous saying this), I had no CLUE that “Young” in Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young is Neil Young. What the hell!? How did I miss that! Wild. Anyway, now I do. So long story short, The four members of this group decided to use their last names to identify their group for a few reasons. One, to keep identification with their own individuality, and make sure that people knew them as their own artist as well. And the second (which is partially what caused the first reason) is that two members of the band were part of The Byrds and The Hollies, and when they left their respective groups, the bands continued performing without them. So to use CSNY to identify themselves meant that if one of them left (which, of course, did happen later on down the road) then they were still always known by the names of the musicians in the band. Makes sense to me!

My immediate thought when I put on this album is Flower Power! This has got such a 60s-70s rock sound to it, whatever that means. I guess lots of raging, experimental, sometimes ethereal rock-guitar riffs mixed with exasperated vocals. And that early classic-rock effect on the guitar. I have no clue what it is, but its so distinct.

The vocal harmonies on this album definitely stick out as well. But how could they not, I guess. Especially after listening to the Springsteen album (OH GOD, here he goes again, talking about how much he hates The Boss).

Side note: I was running yesterday and a Springsteen song came on my iPod, and I actually thought to myself, “You know, this Bruce Springsteen guy is growing on me”. So there.

Here’s the track listing for this radical album called Deja Vu, released in March 1970 (after their second-ever live performance at the infamous Woodstock festival).

Side One

  1. Carry On
  2. Teach Your Children
  3. Almost Cut My Hair
  4. Helpless
  5. Woodstock

Side Two

  1. Deja Vu
  2. Our House
  3. 4+20
  4. Country Girl: Whiskey Boot Hill, Down, Down, Down, Country Girl (I Think You’re Pretty)
  5. Everybody I Love

When I first listened to this album, I remember a friend here on Jeju wrote me a message on Facebook and said something along the lines of “This is my favourite album!” and I was, admittedly, a bit shocked. I didn’t appreciate this album nearly enough. The more I’ve listened to this disc, the more I appreciate CSNY.

Favourite tracks? Carry On, Teach Your Children, Woodstock, Our House, Everybody I Love You. I don’t know why, to be honest. But they’re great.

Track One, Carry On. There’s a great intro to this album at the beginning of this track. The guitar sets a driving beat and adds momentum to the track, and then 10 seconds in, the great vocals start. The recording sounds really controlled and precise, which I love about it as well. I don’t want to say constrained, because I don’t think it is, but its almost as if the first track is a teaser for something bigger and better to come.  And I would say that the first side of the album ends a bit grittier, a bit more relaxed, and more wild with “Woodstock” (Track 5).

So overall: new appreciation for Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, definitely. And its awesome! I’m loving all these connections I’m making while I listen to these albums. This is exactly what I wanted to get out of this experience, so I’m pretty pleased.

Onwards to the next album!!


Darkness on the Edge of Town (Bruce Springsteen)

In albums on December 20, 2010 at 2:11 pm

1973 Album Cover, shot by Frank Stefanko.

What is it about The Boss? Seriously. I’m not bashing him, but the truth of the matter is I’ve never really found myself moved in any way by his music. And I don’t mean to say that I expect some deep spiritual awakening from The Boss’ full, whaling rock anthems. I guess  his music just doesn’t resonate with me.

Number 150 on the list is Bruce Springsteen’s fourth studio album, Darkness on the Edge of Town, which was released in Spring of 1973. I did a bit of digging to get a bit of context. I didn’t find much except that this album marked the end of a battle with Springsteen’s former manager, which lasted about three years.

In its original release, Darkness was a two-sided LP.

Side One

  1. Badlands
  2. Adam Raised a Cain
  3. Something in the Night
  4. Candy’s Room
  5. Racing in the Streets

Side Two

  1. The Promised Land
  2. Factory
  3. Streets of Fire
  4. Prove It All Night
  5. Darkness on the Edge of Town

I listened to the entire album,  both sides included, several times. Then, I listened to it in two parts (side one and side two). I noticed that there are two major stories on this album. One, of working hard and getting nowhere, and the other, of feeling free and feeling like there’s a clear road ahead of you. I’m guessing this has to do with the legal battles with their previous manager.

I’ve actually been resisting writing this blog entry (and its the first one!!!) because I don’t really know what to say about the album. What I noticed is that its raw. My gut reaction was “this sounds like Meatloaf”…but less refined and with less pow. The album feels a bit sluggish too, and I’m not sure whether that’s because of Springsteen’s distinctly full, chest-sound or the tempo, or maybe just a combination of both.

So, what did I like about the album? The intro to ‘Badlands’, for one. Its got a great classic sound with a piano and guitar intro that starts the next 40 minutes with a bit of a fanfare. Kind of cool. With the next track, ‘Adam Raised a Cain’, I became really resistant to the music. I don’t like the sound, I don’t like the feeling, and I don’t think its exciting or interesting. Harsh? I don’t know. Its just my gut reaction. But I guess it’s supposed to have that sound, so maybe that’s what the band wanted.

Oh, also. Bruce likes to sing about cars. Six of the ten tracks contain a reference to owning a car, racing a car, or being in a car.

Here’s what I think is interesting. After saying all of this, I get why its an important album in music history. This album was on the charts for 97 weeks but had no number one singles, or even high-charting singles, for that matter. And still, its got a really great classic rock sound. So maybe the class rock-piano riffs, combined with a simple harmonica and the legendary voice of Bruce Springsteen is great just because the music (although not especially “pretty” or “great” sounding, in my opinon) is something that people can relate to? Stories of hard work and not feeling the reward, and stories of late nights and your parents car, et cetera et cetera.

Whether I like Bruce or not, the fact of the matter is, this is a top album in music history (according to Rolling Stone, and VH1 as well). And although I don’t necessarily like this album (and I don’t want to listen to it again), I can hear in the music why its a big record. Its raw, its got a very “stripped” feeling to it, and so I think people can relate to it.

Thoughts? I’m open for discussion about this album…and I’d love to hear why people love it. Please share.

Oh and also, Bruce Springsteen just released a reissue box set including some DVDs and unreleased material from this album. Its called The Promise and was released on November 16, 2010.

Beginning

In musings on December 2, 2010 at 1:52 am
Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Tim...

Image via Wikipedia

In the past, I’ve been amazed at some of my friends’ knowledge about music. I am a passionate listener, but I couldn’t tell you much about records before the 90s. I don’t know much about the Stones, or Led Zeppelin, or Santana, or Otis Redding, or any of the great musicians from the past 60 years.

Yesterday, I was listening to my iPod and walking to the bus stop, on my way to work, and had an idea. In order to satisfy my own cravings to discover more about the evolution of music from the 50s onwards, I need to listen to the greatest albums of all time, sit with them, enjoy them, whatever…and then record my observations, whatever they end up being. My immediate response was excitement. The inspiration actually came from a few sources.

As many people know, and many people don’t, iTunes does not allow artists to request full album only sales of their music. In other words, they can’t restrict people from buying single tracks. Some musicians boycott iTunes for this reason, saying that their music is created as an album and not as singles. Two days ago, I listened to the new Arcade Fire album (The Suburbs) and was inspired. It struck me that their album had a sound that didn’t seem to sit quite right unless you listened to the record from start to finish. I don’t know what their intentions were, but that’s the way the record came across to me. So between The Suburbs, and being reminded about the idea of a complete album, I decided that for me to get a better understanding of music, I need to listen to as many ‘essential’ albums as possible from start to finish.

I checked online to find that Rolling Stone magazine has a list of the top 500 Greatest Albums of All Time posted on their website. Now, 500 seems insanely daunting. Especially if I want to be able to do a bit of research and have time to sit with each album, if I need, to let it digest. So I’ve decided that I will start at 150 and work my way down to the number 1 greatest album of all time.

I’m excited for this project and don’t want to shape it too much ahead of time. Instead, I want to get started and clarify the process as it happens, answering any questions from myself or others along the way. One of my questions right now is how Rolling Stone came up with this list, so I’ll work on figuring that out.

In the meantime, the first album I’m going to listen to is Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Darkness on the Edge of Town’, released in 1978 and also number 150 on the list of  Greatest Albums of All Time.

Here we go.

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