Monday, August 29, 2011

Really ... the year has plenty to "SMiLE" about

The best music news I've gotten since confirmation I was going to see Brian Wilson in Clear Lake, IA, comes in the form of one of the most famous unfinished albums in pop/rock history: "SMiLE." Or, to be more accurate, "The SMiLE Sessions."

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Wish this album would surface in more collections

For a group that was one of the UKs top band for a year or so, and that had such huge media exposure (not the least of which came from Bob Geldof's Live Aid shows), it's amazing to me that the Boomtown Rats' catalog is dramatically, and unfairly, ignored or unknown.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

"Bad" is so good

Before I give my review, I need to say this: For many years, I wasn't a fan of Michael Jackson. And I'm STILL not a huge fan. But I try to approach music with a relatively open mind, and you'll find a lot of head scratchers in my album collection (I do own a Vanilla Ice CD, after all).

I don't like that Michael Jackson owned the Beatles catalogue. I didn't like the controversy around him, the plastic surgeries, the odd behaviors. Until about three years ago, with the exception of one song (which I'll get to below), I didn't bother to understand him, much less listen to him.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

White Stripes get me behind them

Everyone I know likes The White Stripes, but it took me a long, long time to jump on that bandwagon.

The songs I'd heard, from movies (Napoleon Dynamite) to online radio stations, sounded great. But I was hesitant to delve into the catalog ... I've been burned before with songs that sounded great, then finding out that whole albums by those artists just didn't cut it. Sure, "Seven Nation Army" was awesome ... but could that kind of sound be sustained across whole albums? I just wasn't sure.

A friend of mine loaned me "Get Behind Me Satan" and said it was his choice for best album of the 2000s. High praise ... but I was skeptical.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Album makes my final cut

Though not a popular pick, "The Final Cut" is one of my absolute favorite Pink Floyd albums. While understandably criticized for its negativity, its one-dimensional anti-war stance, and being a Pink Floyd album in name only (it was really more of a Roger Waters solo album), nothing can detract from the sonic quality, the passion and the brilliant musicality.

"The Wall" usually gets more credit for its thematic approach (as do "Dark Side of the Moon," "Wish You Were Here" and "Animals"), but "The Final Cut" is almost a suite: each song being a facet of the same story (a la "The Wall"), with many of the songs seguing into each other.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

"Exile" opens mind, kicks butt


That was my reaction to my first listen to this album. I've always been more of a hits collection fan of the Rolling Stones (I think the band is worthy of respect, I think they've got some truly amazing material ... but I've never needed more than 20 of their songs).

I don't feel that way anymore. In fact, since getting this album, I've added at least 6 or 7 of their discs to my collection (and that doesn't count greatest hits compilations). This album was the ice breaker for me.

Can't knock those "Walls and Bridges"

"Walls and Bridges" may not be the artiest album in the world, but it's my second-favorite John Lennon solo album.

It's almost as honest as "Plastic Ono Band," almost as orchestrated as "Imagine" and almost as much a "diary" album as "Some Time in New York City." And hey, it even has the only Lennon single to go No. 1 in his lifetime. The album itself also rose to No. 1 on the American Billboard charts, taking Lennon to the top before his 5-year hiatus.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Head and The Heart ... and the ears!

We've all had friends, co-workers and store employees who give us recommendations. Doesn't matter if it's music, movies or appliances, we're sometimes pointed in the direction of something we've never heard of.

It was my good fortune to be pointed in the direction of the band The Head and The Heart. One of the fine gentlemen at my local independent music store has been piecing together my tastes and suggested I give this band a try (he'd noticed my love of The Fleet Foxes and The Beach Boys, so he knew I liked great vocals and cool music arrangements).

I'm always on the lookout for a good musician or group to add to my palette, so I was interested to see what this group had to offer. I bought a copy of the album, headed home, popped it into the player and settled down next to my fiancee for a listen.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Nothing is real ... and nothing to get hung about

The Beatles crafted so many classic songs that it is difficult (or, in my case, impossible) to pick a favorite.

But one track that I never grow tired of is "Strawberry Fields Forever," the 1967 classic that helped bridge the "Revolver" era and the "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" era. It's surreal, psychedelic, artistic and cool. It's also a miracle of production work, with producer George Martin and engineer Geoff Emerick pulling off enough tricks to blend two different takes/versions together into one potent song.

The track is such an interesting song, and the production and songwriting are so interesting, that I'm gonna go into some depth on this sucker. Buckle up, it's gonna be a ride!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Nothing like a little "Bleach" to tidy up

 Is there another reason for your stain?
Could you believe who we knew stress or strain?
Here is another word that rhymes with shame ...

"Bleach," the first album by Nirvana, may not have had the commercial clout or immediate impact of sophomore effort "Nevermind," but it remains an important, interesting and just-plain-energetic collection of songs that set the tone for what was to come in the 1990s. The roots for "Smells Like Teen Spirit" are here, as are the already perfected shrieks and howls that became a Kurt Cobain signature.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

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