Friday, 11 April 2014

1001 Albums Update: 682 and counting

OK, I'm starting to fall a little behind, so I might need to make this quick. I listened to all of these between New Year and when I went to Australia - which was incredible by the way. So massive. Amongst my highlights were getting to meet my Dad's cousin for the first time, doing the walk from Bondi to Coogee beach and taking the ferry to Manly, Darling Harbour and Taronga Zoo. Which was where I snapped this beautiful pelican mid-snack;

On another note, I was saddened to hear that The Fly had closed its doors in March. Ever since I moved to Manchester and especially the past couple of years I've been on my PhD that magazine has been responsible for so many great albums making their way into my collection. I doubt I would have given bands and artists like Smith Westerns, California X, Follakzoid, Cheatahs, Lee Ranaldo and Sharon Van Etten the attention they deserve with glowing reviews from The Fly.
And so much as I was when Planet Sound on Teletext closed, I'm now without my most trustworthy source for finding quality new music. If anyone has any suggestions for alternatives that can fill this void in my musical life, I'm all ears.

Anyway, moving swiftly on...
  • Simon & Garfunkel - Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme: 
 I don't think this record has dated quite as well as some of their others, with the chirpy "The 59th Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy)" being particularly of its time. That's not to say there aren't some find songs here, "Homeward Bound" and "For Emily, Wherever I May Find Her" are beauties, the latter being a good example of how influential Simon & Garfunkel were for acoustic music.

  • The Monks - Black Monk Time: I was expecting a sedate affair from a band with such a bland name, but instead I found what may have been the earliest ancestor of punk. Excellent.
  • The Mothers Of Invention - Freak Out!: The prospect of listening to yet another Zappa record wasn't exactly an enticing one for me. This did turn out to be surprisingly decent, although I couldn't tell if it was meant to be a pastiche.
  • Sister Sledge - We Are Family: More Nile Rodgers penned goodness here with funky basslines galore and in the title track and the opening one-two punch of "He's The Greatest Dancer" and "Lost In Music" contains three stone cold disco classics. 
  • Dolly Parton - Coat Of Many Colors
Dolly is an institution in country music and in my book this album is a big reason why. Her charisma and powerful voice are matched by some excellent material including the title track and "Early Morning Breeze". The outstanding moment of the album for me though, is "Travelling Man". To my ears there's more than a hint of Johnny Cash in Dolly's delivery as she talks of meeting a man her mother doesn't approve of only to then have her steal him from her! Definitely Dolly's "A Boy Name Sue" moment.

  • Jerry Lee Lewis - Live At The Star Club Hamburg/BB King - Live At The Regal
Both of these live albums came out in 1964 and both showcase two of the best live performers to ever grace a stage. I think Jerry Lee had the edge over BB slightly, as his set featured material I was much more familiar with like "Good Golly Miss Molly" and "High School Confidential". But both are incredibly energetic and potent snapshots of two great artists.
  • The Pretty Things - SF Sorrow: Nice bit of guitar music here when things didn't get too trippy, kind of felt like a halfway house between The Byrds and The Yardbirds/Derek and the Dominos/anything Eric Clapton touched in the 60s.
  • Small Faces - Ogden's Nut Gone Flake: I've been spotting the artwork for this album for ages now, it always catches my eye when I'm looking at CDs. Thankfully the album itself is as fun as its artwork. Check out "Afterglow (Of Your Love)" and "Song Of A Baker".

  • Isaac Hayes - Hot Buttered Soul
Something else that's occupied my time recently is the excellent new South Park game, The Stick Of Truth, and lots of the music that plays when you're in places like the Post Office involves Isaac Hayes' character Chef and the songs he used to sing about making love and etcetera. It made me realise how much I miss hearing Isaac's voice. Anyway, in real life his music was much more adventurous than the pastiches he'd record for South Park, and this album is very expansive and (as you'd expect) smooth.

Oh, and if you even remotely love South Park then The Stick Of Truth is a must buy, it's a great game and not to mention full of fan service.

  • The Carpenters - Close To You: "Why do birds, suddenly appear..." Although things could get awful sickly at times, Karen Carpenter's voice is the best part of this record, especially when it's as rich and tender as on the title track.
  • Ananda Shanker - Ananda Shanker: If you want to make an album to introduce sitar music to a western audience, you could do a lot worse than the ace versions of "Jumpin' Jack Flash" and "Light My Fire" on here.
  • The Bee Gees - Trafalgar: Both Bee Gees albums on this list are from their pre-disco days, and I have to say neither have really clicked with me. I much prefer The Barry Gibb Talk Show for my fix of Bee Gees action.

  • The Incredible Bongo Band - Bongo Rock: Nothing featuring bongos can fail to be fun! Also features the most sampled song in history in "Apache".
  • Roxy Music - Roxy Music: It's disappointing to find an album featuring a belter like "Virginia Plain"" to be so underwhelming.
  • Serge Gainsbourg - Histore De Melody Nelson: 
Very strange record. Gainsbourg seems to be revered as some sort of master of... something or other. Sexy mood music I think, judging on what this album appears to aim for, but all that seems to involve is Gainsbourg mumbling something or other in his native tongue (because French is automatically sexy according to stereotypes) over some insubstantial bass while his then girlfriend Jane Berkin says "Melody... Nelson" in hushed tones. Not to my liking.

Also not to my liking were
  • Emerson Lake & Palmer - Pictures At An Exhibition
  • The Flamin' Groovies - Teenage Head
  • Milton Nascimento & Lo Borges - Clube Da Esquina
  • Hawkwind - Space Ritual
  • Caetano Veloso - Caetano Veloso
Whereas on the other hand, the following were perfectly enjoyable

  • Elton John - Madman Across The Water ("Hold me close now tiny danceeeeeeer!")
  • Rod Stewart - Gasoline Alley
  • Buck Owens & His Buckaroos - I've Got A Tiger By The Tail
  • Super Furry Animals - Fuzzy Logic

On that note, I'll bid you adieu.