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tracks to listen to – Youth (Daughter)

In current listenings, tracks to listen to on January 20, 2012 at 2:54 pm

Today on Jeju-do, it is a very grey, rainy Winter day, and I thought the beautiful guitar in this song, “Youth”, has a sweet, smooth, atmospheric sound that reminds me of the clouds. I thought you might enjoy this track on a rainy day. I wouldn’t say this is the usual upbeat kind of tune I love to post. This is a little more sullen and if you listen to the lyrics, you will notice that there is a pain-filled fire that fuels and contrasts the creamy guitar licks.

While you listen to this beautiful song by Daughter, indulge in the emotions that arise as you listen to music like this. Embrace it, experience it, and appreciate it. It makes you feel alive.

Stay tuned on Monday for the next album off the RS150, by Cream! Enjoy, and for those of you who follow the Lunar calendar, best wishes for the new year!

youth daughter

#116 – At Last! (Etta James)

In 124-100, Top 150 on October 12, 2011 at 11:16 am

At Last!

1961

 

After a one month hiatus from posting on this blog, I am happy (oh so happy) to return to this project with Etta James as the first album to listen to. At Last! is Jamesetta Hawkins’, aka Etta James’, debut solo studio album, originally released in 1961 as a 12-inch LP with ten tracks.

Track Listing

Side One

  1. Anything To Say You’re Mine
  2. My Dearest Darling
  3. Trust In Me
  4. A Sunday Kind Of Love
  5. Tough Mary
Side Two
  1. I Just Want To Make Love To You
  2. At Last
  3. All I Could Do Is Cry
  4. Stormy Weather
  5. Girl Of My Dreams
At Last! is named after one of Etta James’ most famous songs, which is also a hit in most singing competitions and talent shows, although it usually doesn’t get the justice it deserves. The entire album is relaxing to listen to, with Etta’s beautifully supported voice which is motivated by a broad range of emotions. As a result, many of the tracks sound deep and vulnerable, including “A Sunday Kind Of Love”.

The album includes some R&B, Blues, Jazz, and a bit of a rock and roll influence. It has a classic sound, incorporating orchestral arrangements, with other tracks (like “Tough Mary”) that have more of a pop sound.

And of course, the beautiful track “At Last”, which has been featured in countless movies, commercials, karaoke bars, and weddings a like. I’m going to go ahead and say that if you haven’t heard this track, you must’ve made an effort to avoid it. But there’s a reason its so well known. It has perfect pace, and sexy, slinky strings that support Etta’s timeless emotional expression. Its short – only 3 minutes long), and perfectly captures that beautiful satisfaction of feeling completely content with a partner. And that’s a great feeling. This track is seriously timeless, and I’m sure it always will be.

If you haven’t listen to this album before, then check it out. This is definitely one of the pinnacle albums in the last 60 years. And its just got that awesome, awesome American blues sound that everyone loves. It just makes you feel good.

Enjoy!

#117 – Sweetheart of the Rodeo (The Byrds)

In 124-100, Top 150 on September 6, 2011 at 2:20 pm

August 30, 1968 - Sweetheart of the Rodeo

As the sixth studio album from The Byrds, Sweetheart of the Rodeo has beautiful sound with a clear country (or should I say, Rodeo?) sound to it. In fact, I think the reason its on this list is mainly because when this album was released, in the Summer of 1968, most of the mainstream music was psychadelic rock. And so was much of the music previously released by The Byrds, although they did experiment with some country-influenced tracks on past albums. But this album has a different core to it, which comes partially from the addition of Gram Parsons. Gram joined the band before they recorded Sweetheart of the Rodeo, and as the result of tensions between him and the rest of the band members, ended up leaving the band around the time that the album was released on August 30th. The country influence came mainly from Parsons, although the album initially started as a concept album to outline American music history, with different styles including jazz and blues. Clearly, that idea was scrapped.

The album that remains is beautifully defined and is really relaxing to listen to! In fact, it actually reminds me a bit of the Avett Brothers debut release – the slow banjo and slightly wavered vocal lines have this unsettled sound that instantly brought the Avett Brothers to mind. Very cool.

This album was an attempt to bring country music into the mainstream, but it ended up alienating many of The Byrds previous fans due to the sudden change of their style (which, at the time, was psychadelic rock…and it was popular).

I’ll keep this short, since the album is pretty self-explanatory when you listen to it. Its definitely a great, enjoyable one to listen to though, and I think you’ll like it.

Track Listing

Side One

  1. You Ain’t Going Nowhere
  2. I Am A Pilgrim
  3. Christian Life
  4. You Don’t Miss Your Water
  5. You’re Still On My Mind
  6. Pretty Boy Floyd
Side Two
  1. Hickory Wind
  2. One Hundred Years From Now
  3. Blue Canadian Rockies
  4. Life In prison
  5. Nothing Was Delivered

#122 – Pearl (Janis Joplin)

In 124-100, Top 150 on July 13, 2011 at 11:39 am
Pearl (album)

Janis Joplin's album art for 'Pearl' (released January 11, 1971)

Janis Joplin’s posthumous album, entitled ‘Pearl’ was actually not completed because of her unexpected death, which is supposedly from heroin overdose when she was only 27 years old. In fact one track, “Buried Alive in the Blues” is instrumental because Joplin passed away before she could record the vocals.

In all honesty, I appreciate the significance of Janis Joplin in music history, but I’m not really drawn to her music overall. There are songs here and there that I like, but its not the kind of music that I can consistently listen to and say “Yep, I like that…and that track too, and also that…and that…and that…” et cetera, et cetera. That said, Joplin has an incredibly unique, raspy, vulnerable voice and she has this fantastic mix of Texan-country twang with a beautifully deep and soulful sound. It’s interesting to listen to her sing because she has such conviction – you can feel how passionate she is about her music as she sings…and as many of you probably know, she really wails!

Track Listing

Side One

  1. Move Over
  2. Cry Baby
  3. A Woman Left Lonely
  4. Half Moon
  5. Buried Alive in the Blues
Side Two
  1. My Baby
  2. Me and Bobby McGee
  3. Mercedes Benz
  4. Trust Me
  5. Get It While You Can
Joplin rose to success in just 5 years, between 1965 and 1970 and was in her 20s for the height of her career. She managed to break into the blues-jazz-psychedelic-rock scene when it was mostly dominated by male vocalists. Tracks like “My Baby” demonstrate her blues-rock talents and secure her in the list of top rock acts of her time.
Like I said before, I dig the album because of Joplin’s unique voice which is a major hybrid of so many genres. Ultimately though, the honesty and soul in Joplin’s music is what makes her interesting to listen to. In particular, “Pearl” was a huge success, and I’m sure part of that is due to her death before its completion.  Even though it was so popular, most of the tracks on this album I didn’t recognize before, although I do know “Me and Bobby McGee”. Then there’s this great social commentary on the track “Mercedes Benz”. At the beginning of the track, Janis says she’s going to do a song of “great social and political import”, which speaks well to Joplin’s involvement in the “hippie movement”, as her sister and parents called it.
I’m glad to have listened to “Pearl”. Again, I knew nothing about Janis Joplin or what music she sang, so itwas a great album to listen to on the Rolling Stone Top 150.

#124 – Younger Than Yesterday (The Byrds)

In 124-100, Top 150 on July 6, 2011 at 10:50 am

Younger Than Yesterday, the fourth album from The Byrds (released February 6, 1967)

“So You Want To Be A Rock ‘N’ Roll Star”, the opening track on the album, sounds to me like a mock or a comment on the rising number of commercialized, “money-maker” bands that are mechanical as opposed to artistic. Its an interesting comment to open the album with, but it sets the musical tone of the album nicely. Younger Than Yesterday  has a simple, cheerful, and upbeat sound to the entire album. It runs just under 30 minutes and is a nice breath of fresh air. They’ve added some psychadelic rock elements to this album – you can hear it as guitar fill in several tracks on the album (including “Have You Seen Her Face”), but its a nice mix that gives the music just a bit of a grunge and experimental sound. I think it keeps their sound really interesting.

What’s really cool about this album is the diversity from track to track. As I said, “Have You Seen Her Face” has a bit of extra noise happening in the background with some experimental guitar, and then the next track, “C.T.A.-102″ has a bunch of electronic and robot-like noises in the background. There’s also some slower, quieter tunes with a more folky sound. The Byrds manage to maintain their sweet, 60s sound but also experiment over a large canvas of genres which creates interest and unique mixes on this album. I also just love the energy of this album. Its filled with positive energy and this really cool warmth and clarity to the recording. The recordings are in this beautiful sweet spot that kind of warms you up on the inside – a good example of this is the Country-inspired track, “Time Between”, and also “The Girl With No Name”.

Track Listing

Side One

  1. So You Want To Be A Rock ‘N’ Roll Star
  2. Have You Seen Her Face
  3. C.T.A.-102
  4. Renaissance Fair
  5. Time Between
  6. Everybody’s Been Burned
Side Two
  1. Thoughts and Words
  2. Mind Gardens
  3. My Back Pages (Bob Dylan cover)
  4. The Girl With No Name
  5. Why
If you haven’t heard this album yet, you’ll probably enjoy it. It’s nothing radical and way, far-out, but it combines a more classic, fun, lovable 60s sound with some extra elements (like robot noises). It creates a classic and timeless sound that really feels sweet to listen to. Oh, and it also includes a cool cover of Bob Dylan’s “My Back Pages”.

#125 – Raw Power (Iggy & The Stooges)

In 150-125, Top 150 on July 1, 2011 at 10:00 am

Raw Power (May 1973)

Geez, I really don’t know what to make of this album. I did a lot of research on this album and the fact that’s its been recently remixed, and also that Iggy Pop didn’t really like the sound of the original album. But I don’t know. There’s definitely a raw edge to this album that is unheard of so far in the list of albums I’ve written about, but I don’t know if I like it or not. By raw energy, I mean there is a really unpolished, spontaneity to the recording that is really cool. It has a lot of energy behind the music.

Track Listing

Side One

  1. Search and Destroy
  2. Gimme Danger
  3. Your Pretty Face Is Going to Hell
  4. Penetratio
Side Two
  1. Raw Power
  2. I Need Somebody
  3. Shake Appeal
  4. Death Trip
This album is also known to be a precursor to punk, like many of the albums on the RS150. I can hear the musical influence in several tracks, but not all of them. I guess what I love about music are the tracks that somehow strike this chord within you – they resonate with you on a deep level, either lyrically, and/or musically. BUT this album doesn’t really do that for me. The two tracks that do are “Raw Power” and “Shake Appeal”, but other than that, it just seems like a genre of music that I don’t love, regardless of whether or not its significant in musical history.
Truthfully, the past week I’ve been writing about other music (mostly current) because I’ve been avoiding writing about this album. I listened to it once last week and didn’t really like it, so I hadn’t done much with it again yet. Now I’m listening to it again and feeling a bit of the same as before, although this time I do like it a bit more. I can appreciate the significance, but as of right now, I don’t see Raw Power being an album that I listen to over and over. I don’t know.
What do you think?

#133 – Ready to Die (Notorious B.I.G.)

In 150-125, Top 150 on June 2, 2011 at 2:00 pm

Ready to Die (Notorious B.I.G., released September 13, 1994)

When I listened to this album for the first time, I knew right away that I had to do more research. There is no way I can write about an album by Notorious B.I.G. and not know more about the supposed East-West rivalry, Tupac, and how they all connect. All of that information could easily influence the lyrics on this album, and why this album is listed as one of the most significant albums of all time. Coincidentally, I downloaded a documentary a few weeks ago called “Biggie and Tupac”, which was about their deaths and whether or not they are related. So it was great education for me to watch in the midst of listening to this album.

Ready to Die was released on September 13, 1994 under the Bad Boy Records label, owned by Sean Combs (aka Puff Daddy, Diddy, P. Diddy…whatever). I had no idea that Biggie and Combs were connected at all. That shows my lack of information, clearly!

Track Listing

  1. Intro
  2. Things Done Changed
  3. Gimme the Loot
  4. Machine Gun Funk
  5. Warning
  6. Ready To Die
  7. One More Chance
  8. #!*@ Me (Interlude)
  9. The What (feat. Method Man)
  10. Juicy
  11. Everyday Struggle
  12. Me & My Bitch
  13. Big Poppa
  14. Respect
  15. Friend of Mine
  16. Unbelievable
  17. Suicidal Thoughts
This album is filled with street life references. Biggie (born Christopher Wallace)’s mom was interview in the documentary I watched, and she said he wrote about what he saw. He wrote about street life, because that’s what he knew. And that’s what I hear in the album too. Again, there’s a lot of gun talk, swearing and anything but positive language. (I sound like a prude when I say it like that) But this album has got a smoothly agressive sound. The samples and beats in the background of Wallace’s lyrics provide a funky backing that make you want to walk with a swagger. Seriously. And the lyrics flow off Wallace’s tongue with ease. They are matter of fact, a bit confrontational in sound, but exude confidence and connection with the beat.
There are also references to death on this album (aside from just the album title, Ready to Die). On ‘Warning’, Biggie raps about someone from the barbershop paging him early in the morning to warn him, someone wants to “stick the knife/ through your windpipe slow”. The title track, ‘Ready to Die’, is a mix of Biggie talking about being ready to die, and also holding a gun to someone’s head. Not really my scene (actually, not at all). But judgement aside, this album is iconic in the sense that it brought attention back to the New York, East-coast hip-hop scene and also is a strange precursor to Biggie’s 1997 death. The track that stuck out to me the most was ‘Suicidal Thoughts’, the last track on the disc. It’s exact;y what the title suggests, and is made out to sound like a phone call from Biggie to someone else (I’m not sure who, just from listening), spewing a suicidal rant. And then the album ends with Wallace saying “I’m sick of talkin” followed by a gunshot, and the man on the other end of the phone yelling at him to get his attention. Then, a pulsing heartbeat slows and the album finishes. These kind of tracks always make me wonder to what extent the artist is expressing themself honestly and to what extent its part of the “show”. Was Wallace actually feeling this way at this time, or are the lyrics exaggerated? I’m not sure, but it its a poignant way to end a track, let alone an album.
Oh, and on a side note, the album also features a few great singles which most of us will know well, like ‘One More Chance’, ‘Juicy’ and ‘Big Poppa’. And just like The Chronic, it features a track of just sex sounds. What’s the deal with these!? Anyone? Can anyone fill me in here on what I’m missing? Anyway…
Definitely worth a listen if you haven’t heard this album before. And if you aren’t a hip hop fan, I challenge you to listen to this album without judgement and take what you will. There’s a very liquid-like element to Notorious B.I.G.’s rapping that is unique and also contributes to him being such an iconic artist in the hip-hop music scene.

#135 – Greatest Hits (Elton John)

In 150-125, Top 150 on May 30, 2011 at 10:00 am

Greatest Hits, Elton John (November 8, 1974)

Let’s get real, this album kicks ass…if you are an Elton John fan. Or if you are just ready for a little nostalgia. This album is packed with some of Elton John’s top ten hits and I recognized all of them except one two…”Border Song” and “Honky Cat”.

Track Listing

Side One

  1. Your Song
  2. Daniel
  3. Honky Cat
  4. Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
  5. Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting
Side Two
  1. Rocket Man (I Think It’s Going To Be A Long Long Time)
  2. Candle in the Wind
  3. Bennie and the Jets
  4. Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me
  5. Border Song
  6. Crocodile Rock
All of the tracks on this album were top tens on the charts, with the exception of “Border Song”, but so I’ve found, it was the first single of Elton’s that made it to the chart, and as such, is speculated as the reason for inclusion.
The album is fun, and it really showed me that Elton John has a broader range than I knew. Look, I’m not a huge Elton John fan (it just reminds me of when I was young, and on Saturdays and Sundays driving around looking at open houses with my family…which I really did love, but I don’t know…he’s just not my thing).
This album gives you a wicked taste of the diversity and power with which Elton John performs. Live, I’m sure he’s great. He rocks out – he belts his tunes, he pounds the keys, and he’s created unique songs with catchy choruses, bridges, and some sections you just can’t help but dance to or sing to. Also, I have to say I didn’t know that “Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting” was Elton John. What the hell!? How did I not know this? It’s a great tune, and that can’t be denied. This song is kick ass, and I love it. It makes me want to let loose. Its a good road trip song, and a great song to sing at the top of your lungs with friends.
So this album is about 45 minutes long, and its just good, simple, classic pop-rock fun with Elton and friends (ha). You can’t help but enjoy it.  What does each song make you think of? Any memories associated with it?
“Benny and the Jets” makes me think of vacuuming my house on Saturday afternoons (a weekly chore in the Paron household when I was young), with Easy Rock Q97.5 playing, and this tune blaring out of the speakers, and me dancing like a fool…I guess more swaying back and forth with oompf…as chorus comes in: “B-b-b-b-benny and the Jetsssssssssss” and then that great piano riff after. Rad!
So enjoy this album – it might not be your favourite album in the world, but no doubt, Elton John is mega-influential musician, songwriter and artistic personality in pop culture and rock and roll music.
Enjoy!

#136 – Tim (The Replacements)

In 150-125, Top 150 on May 27, 2011 at 10:00 am

Tim (The Replacements, October 1985)

This album was released two years before I was released, yet somehow makes me feel like I’m in high school rebelling against my parents and having a blast while doing it. The beginning of this album draws me in though, and I’m not sure why. I picture myself hitting the road (somewhere in Arizona or Nevada, clearly). And driving fast. In a comfortable. And possibly myself, or someone else standing up screaming at the top of my lungs. There’s definitely this sense of doing whatever you want, right at the start of the album with the opening track, “Hold My Life”, letting lyrics like “If I want, I could dye…my hair” establish to mood. But there also seems to be this fine line between losing control, and getting control (“Hold my life/because I just might lose it”).

Track Listing

  1. Hold My Life
  2. I’ll Buy
  3. Kiss Me On The Bus
  4. Dose Of Thunder
  5. Waitress In The Sky
  6. Swinging Party
  7. Bastards Of Young
  8. Lay It Down Clown
  9. Left Of The Dial
  10. Little Mascara
  11. Here Comes A Regular
Track 2, “I’ll Buy” jumps in with a more punk/alternative-rock element to it, but again its got this theme of free-spiritedness and being being able to do anything you want – travelling, buying nice things. It also has this really classic sound to it, and the chorus makes you want to sing along.
There’s a familiarity to this album that I’m not sure if I can place. I guess it reminds me of a mix between R.E.M.’s alternative guitar with some of Elton John’s percussion and that kind of classic rock sound. It’s fun though. This album just continues to encourage screaming at the top of your lungs in wide-open spaces. In other words, its fun, its a bit rebellious, its playful and its classic. Tracks like “Bastards Of Young” and “Dose of Thunder” remind me of bands like The Rolling Stones and Starship, respectively (“We built this city on rock and roll…”)…and that’s cool!
Then there’s “Waitress In The Sky” which has the Summer feeling of The Beach Boys, combined with a guitar-drum lead-in that makes me think that Meatloaf might start singing “Paradise by the Dashboard Light”…but doesn’t.
“Left Of The Dial” is a clear throwback to small-town bands playing small-town concerts. I also read that it pays homage to the fact that college radio stations typically are on the left side of the radio dial, and so this is actually considered to be somewhat of an anthem to college radio stations. Again, cool!
I hadn’t heard of The Replacements before a week ago. Had you? I wasn’t really looking forward to hearing this album, but I was pleasantly surprised. The album bursts with rebellious, youthful accounts of various experiences like convincing a young lady to let you steal a kiss from her, and the attraction and flirtatiousness of airline flight attendants, but it also has an element of determination and strength that pierces through the rest of the fun and party-life themes.
Check this album out. If you don’t know The Replacements, you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

#137 – The Chronic (Dr. Dre)

In 150-125, Top 150 on May 24, 2011 at 12:00 pm

The Chronic (Dr. Dre, December 15, 1992)

The Chronic, number 137 on the RS150, is Dr. Dre’s debut solo album after leaving N.W.A. and Eazy-E’s ‘Ruthless Records’ due to financial disputes.

Released in December of 1992, The Chronic was met with (mostly) critical-acclaim and is often hailed as one of the best hip-hop recordings of all time. Dre and Snoop Doggy Dog teamed up on this album – Snoop Dogg makes appearances on most of the tracks, if not all.

Track Listing

  1. The Chronic (Intro)
  2. Fuck Wit Dre Day (And Everybody’s Chelebratin’)
  3. Let Me Ride
  4. The Day the Niggaz Took Over
  5. Nuthin’ but a “G” Thang
  6. Deeez Nuuuts
  7. Lil’ Ghetto Boy
  8. A Nigga Witta Gun
  9. Rat-Tat-Tat-Tat
  10. The $20 Sack Pyramid
  11. Lyrical Gangbang
  12. High Powered
  13. The Doctor’s Office
  14. Stranded on Death Row
  15. The Roach [The Chronic Outro]
  16. Bitches Ain’t Shit
First off, if you didn’t know, ‘chronic’ is a name for high-quality marijuana, which the album clearly salutes with the name, and also the album art (which is based on the Zig-Zag rolling papers packaging – thanks Wikipedia). The entire album is laced with insults to Eazy-E, Ruthless Records, and a positive outlook for Dre and his new record label – and of course, a lot of sex and guns too.
The first track, ‘The Chronic (Intro)’ introduces Dre’s Death Row Records label  and also slams Eazy-E and his label (“P.S. Fuck Mr. Warkentatoo/a.k.a. Jerry and Eazy”) makes a clear point of dissociating from them. And off and on that continues throughout the entire album.
This album has a really distinct sound to it, which is what stands out the most. There are funky, synth bass lines mixed with guitar riffs or simple synth chords on the high end that drone a melody over Dre and Snoop’s lyrics. And apparently, this combination of the funky bass line and the high-end synths are known as G-Funk, which is a break out from gangsta rap. This album definitely has a different funky element to it than N.W.A. had on Straight Outta Compton, and its cool to hear such a difference.
Then there’s a track like “The Doctor’s Office”, which is literally one minute long and its just the audio track of Dre and another woman going at it in the doctor’s office. It’s not actually a song, but its just kind of hilarious to me that this kind of stuff makes it onto albums. But I guess not, considering that gangsta rap and the subsequent G-Funk is heavily influenced by street life, which includes sex and guns.
At the end of the day, the beats that Dre created for this album are good. Really good. They are funky, crisp, and balanced with Snoop Dogg’s laid back delivery of the sometimes-violent lyrics.
Funny, I don’t really know what else to say about this album. I’m not great at analyzing albums like this, so its hard to say much more. I’d love to hear your thoughts if you give this a listen though! Its definitely got a clear and distinctly different, advanced sound from Dre’s last projects with N.W.A. Check it out!
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