Wednesday, 23 October 2013

1001 Albums Update: 622 and Counting

Right, time to finally knock this one out so I can start making some more progress getting through this list.

  • Paul Simon - Paul Simon:  More good stuff from Simon, "Me And Julio Down By The Schoolyard" in particular is irresistible. Plus it's even got a song called "Duncan" on! Can't tell you how thrilled I am to share my name with a song by one of America's greatest songwriters.

  • Stan Getz & Joao Gilberto - Getz Gilberto: I'm surprisingly finding myself to be pretty blasé about these samba style jazz albums, perhaps they're a bit too laid back for my tastes. I found it hard to pay attention to this album I'm afraid.

  • Dusty Springfield - A Girl Called Dusty: Here marked the arrival of one of the best voices of the sixties, as the likes of "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?" and the Burt Bacharach penned "Anyone Who Had A Heart" and "Wishin' And Hopin' " strode the perfect balance between the Motown soul sound and perfect pop.

  • Eagles - Eagles: Lots of great West Coast-style rock on offer here, "Take It Easy" and "Witchy Women" helping define the band's sound that would later really take off commercially with Hotel California.

  • Tim Buckley - Greetings From LA, Happy Sad: These two albums seemed to showcase a different, brassier aspect of Buckley's voice than Goodbye And Hello. While Happy Sad was very melodic and romantic, I was very surprised to find Greetings From LA to be so full of funk and R&B influence. I never expected Tim had the likes of "Get On Top" in him.

  • The Temptations - All Directions, Cloud Nine:  Two all-out classics here, as The Temptations started to experiment beyond the traditional three minute Motown single formula. All Directions in particular is a triumph, and features probably one of the greatest songs ever recorded in "Papa Was A Rolling Stone".

  • Stevie Wonder - Fulfillingness' First Finale, Songs In The Key Of Life, Talking Book
Lots of classic stuff from Stevie here. Hands down the best of the lot here is Songs In The Key Of Life, a brilliant double album that's just a joy to listen to with the likes of the big-band jazz of "Sir Duke". Its influence is such that many have liberally lifted and sampled from songs featured here: "I Wish" was butchered into "Wild Wild West" by Will Smith, while the likes of "As" and "Pastime Paradise" were more successfully used by R Kelly and Coolio respectively.

  • The Smiths - The Queen Is Dead, Strangeways Here We Come
It's been hard to avoid noticing Morrissey's autobiography came out last week. Personally I think the best thing that's come out of it so far is Peter Serafinowitz singing the opening page to the tune of "William, It Was Really Nothing"

The other thing I found interesting was apparently the part of the book covering the court case where Smiths drummer Mike Joyce (ace name) won a quarter of the group's earnings is about four times as long as the part covering Moz's time actually in The Smiths. If true, that's a real shame - it's as if he's letting the bitterness of the dispute over his work in the band overshadow what he achieved as a part of that band. Between the two of them, The Queen Is Dead (incidentally named the best album of all time by the NME this week) and Strangeways... had songs that would establish Morrissey as one of the best wordsmiths of his time (and anytime). "The Boy With The Thorn In His Side", "There Is A Light That Never Goes Out" and "Girlfriend In A Coma" are all songs that thankfully will outlive any bitterness Moz has in his life.
  • Penguin Orchestra Café - Music From The Penguin Orchestra Café: This I more like the kind of instrumental music that can hold my attention, as unique a listen as you'd hope for given a title like that.

  • Curtis Mayfield - There's No Place Like America: Similar to Superfly in its bleak subject matter, yet lacking some of that record's polish as Mayfield attempted to avoid the influence of disco music. I much prefer something like What's Going On? personally.

  • Fatboy Slim - You've Come A Long Way, Baby: Oh boy does this contain lots of childhood memories - "Right Here, Right Now", "The Rockerfeller Skank", "Gangster Tripping" and the incomparable "Praise You" are all present and correct and all are essential listening.

  • Primal Scream - Screamadelica
 Primal Scream have always been a hard group to pin down stylistically. On this, their most celebrated album, they not only ride the "Madchester" wave of the time with the likes of "Higher Than The Sun" but go through psychedelia (appropriately) with "Come Together" and the simply glorious, gospel tinged trippy dream of "Movin' On Up". It's vibrant sleeve is also a great, juvenile icon of the time.

  • Mott The Hoople - Mott
One could be harsh and say Mott The Hoople were more famous for who they knew rather than what they did in music - David Bowie famously lent them their biggest hit "All The Young Dudes" (interestingly they could have had "Suffragette City" if they wished). But this album shows they could stand out of the shadow of their famous friends. "All The Way To Memphis" and "Honaloochie Boogie" in particular are great slices of post T Rex rock.

  • John Martyn - Solid Air, One World: Listening to Guy Garvey's radio show for several years has helped me appreciate the work of John Martyn a lot more. Right up there with friend & contemporary Nick Drake as one of the standouts of British folk, I love his "after hours" voice.

  • Nick Drake - Bryter Layter: Speaking of Drake, here he is with a record that almost matches his excellent Five Leaves Left LP, "Northern Sky" being the standout.

  • Tears For Fears - Songs From The Big Chair: Bit overly long for my liking, despite featuring the great "Shout" and "Everybody Wants To Rule The World".

  • The Rolling Stones - Beggars Banquet
This album kicked off a real golden period for the Stones musically. Despite featuring well known classics "Sympathy For The Devil" and "Street Fighting Man", the highlight for me was "No Expectations", featuring some brilliant guitar play from Brian Jones, who would sadly pass away the next year after drowning in his pool a mere month after being let go by the band due to his drug issues.

  • Todd Rundgren - A Wizard, A True Star: I think Something/Anything raised my expectations of what Rundgren is capable of a bit too much, as I didn't find this album delivered everything it promised.

  • Tom Waits - Swordfishtrombones: I could do without the call backs to Captain Beefheart, but once again I'm unexpectedly enjoying Waits' work, his voice captivating me much more than I thought it would.

  • Santana - Abraxas: Black Magic Woman ooh yeeeah.

  • The Jesus And Mary Chain - Psychocandy: Sad to say after Darklands left me pleasantly surprised, Psychocandy was more like what I expected out of a J&MC album. My ears hurt.
Also impressing me this time around were;
  • Bert Jansch - Bert Jansch
  • Nitty Gritty Dirt Band - Will The Circle Be Unbroken
  • Stephen Stills - Manassas
  • Alice Cooper - School's Out
  • Traffic - Traffic
  • Joni Mitchell - Hejira, The Hissing Of Summer Lawns
  • Roxy Music - For Your Pleasure
  • T-Rex - Electric Warrior
  • Pixies - Bossanova
  • Sonic Youth - Evol, Dirty
While I was slightly disappointed by;

  • New York Dolls - New York Dolls
  • Air - The Virgin Suicides OST
  • Kraftwerk - Trans Europe Express