Exodus (1977) by Bob Marley and the Wailers

Categories: 1977 and Music.

Though this is something like the Wailers’ ninth record, it is apparently actually more like Marley’s first proper solo record, as the other songwriters and singers in the band had left, leaving him as the primary creative voice. This is my first Marley/Wailers album, so I have no idea if that means any kind of change in musical direction, or any increase or decrease in quality. Read More

I Robot (1977) by The Alan Parsons Project

Categories: 1977 and Music.

When I was young and obsessed with prog rock, people used to make fun of me. They would learn I loved prog and they would be bemused or even a little shocked/outraged. And I was confused because I really liked the stuff. Eventually, I realized that those who made fun of my tastes were often talking about different prog. One day my friend just started ripping on Supertramp and then apologized to me and I finally realized that what my friends thought was prog and what I was listening to were two different types of prog. Based on this record, Read More

Kooper Session (1970) by Al Kooper, Shuggie Otis

Categories: 1970 and Music.

Al Kooper tries to capture lightning in a bottle again, replicating the old Super Session format this time with Shuggie Otis and a complementary change in sound. Both halves have their hits and misses but, for me, there is enough here to enjoy, even if this isn’t anything revelatory. The two halves definitely appeal to different tastes too, so that’s something that might put some people off, though I find the gospel and R&B stuff a refreshing change of pace for Kooper. 7/10 Read More

Easy Does it (1970) by Al Kooper

Categories: 1970 and Music.

By the time Kooper released this double album in 1970 he had put out 6 albums (including this one) in something like 2 years. Yes, two of those were partially improvised, but Kooper was the prime creative force of all of them. So it should come as no surprise that this record feels like it doesn’t have enough content for its length. Some of the covers are good (and sometimes they are quite idiosyncratic) but Kooper’s songs themselves are not great. He’s pulled back on his artsiness on this record but he doesn’t have enough good songs and just seems Read More

The Live Adventures of Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper (1969)

Categories: 1968, 1969, and Music.

Much like Super Session (the studio version of this record), this album suffers a little from happenstance: Mike Bloomfield had a habit of wearing himself out and he’s not present on all tracks (much like on Super Session where he was replaced for half of it by Stephen Stills). But he’s present on most (and Carlos Santana is one of his replacements). Read More

I Stand Alone (1968) by Al Kooper

Categories: 1968 and Music.

When I was younger, I was utterly fascinated by Kooper’s career: how he went from a successful songwriter to a less successful session guitarist to one of the best rock keyboardists of his era (or, perhaps, ever) and the major creative force behind some interesting ventures in the late 60s. But, for whatever reason, it took me ages to get around to his solo stuff. Read More

Congotronics (2005) by Konono No. 1

Categories: 2005 and Music.

It’s easy to see why electronic music fans flocked to this record, as it has all the danceable repetition of dance music but also enough exoticism to appeal to people who don’t just want to listen to middle of the road, safe dance music. It almost feels like music has come full circle: electronic composers and musicians took inspiration from tribal rhythms from all around the world and now these guys have taken inspiration from electronic dance music. Read More

Roxy Music (1972)

Categories: 1972 and Music.

On their debut, Roxy Music appear to have stumbled upon a unique take on art rock: it’s borderline prog at times but Ferry’s songs and croon are just way too rooted in popular music conventions (whether they subtly overturn them or not) for this to be mistaken as King Crimson or some Canterbury scene band or what have you. Read More

There It Is (1972) by James Brown

Categories: 1972 and Music.

This is the first studio album of Brown’s that wasn’t a compilation that I’ve ever heard and I have no idea what to do with it. This is Brown’s 38th studio album, which is insane. Brown’s output is just insane which is why most of us are just better off with the boxed set of singles. How does one view this record without having listening to at least some of those 37 previous records? how does one view this without a deep knowledge of where funk was in June of 1972. I don’t have the knowledge of the genre (beyond Read More

After School Session (1957) by Chuck Berry

Categories: 1957 and Music.

Though it contains Berry’s patented guitar playing, which cemented the electric guitar in rock music for the rest of the century, and it contains a few of his early classics, it’s easy to view Berry’s debut as the least revolutionary of the debut albums from the first wave of rock and roll stars. Because, though there is plenty of rock and roll here, there’s also a lot of blues. In fact, Berry’s debut is far more rooted in the blues than the debuts of his contemporaries and this gives it a feel of being somewhat more conservative, 60 years later. Read More

Glee (1997) by Bran Van 3000

Categories: 1997 and Music.

I love genre-bending. A number of my most favourite bands are bands that can play a wide variety of genres well, and make these genres sound like their own (or, alternatively, convince you they are an entirely different band). So I should like this. I should like this even though it is based in music I don’t personally love (electronic, hip hop). Read More

Full Circle (1997) by Pennywise

Categories: 1997 and Music.

I don’t love 90s punk, I generally find it too polished and too formulaic for my tastes. I’m not sure what it adds to the legacy of hardcore and frankly it’s all too one note. You can get away with one-note when you’re doing something brand new, but when you are doing a slightly more polished version of something that is, at this point, nearly two decades old, it’s kind of tiresome (to me). Read More

Dig Me Out (1997) by Sleater-Kinney

Categories: 1997 and Music.

The songwriting has improved here – the arrangements feel tighter and the hooks are  arguably stronger. This is only the second record of theirs I’ve heard, so I’m not sure I can argue that it is their best (I believe it has that reputation) but if you are looking for 90s punk that still feels like punk (as opposed to some bleached, broish imitation of punk), this is where you should go looking for it. Good stuff. 8/10 Read More

Diva (1992) by Annie Lennox

Categories: 1992 and Music.

I am generally opposed to albums dominated by “modern” (read: contemporary) instrumentation. I hate bad 80s (and 90s!) synthesizers and generally do not like music that is made primarily by these instruments. Things that sound modern once do not normally sound modern later and that is a huge issue with so much of the pop music that was made between the late 70s and early 90s. Read More

Her Point of View (1997) by Olga Konkova

Categories: 1997 and Music.

Konkova takes aim at a number of jazz standards and reinvents them and makes them her own. She makes them sound of a piece with her own compositions. And this is what I like about jazz: fresh interpretations of old music so that it sounds more modern, with plenty of improvisation to go around. (As one critic noted, Konkova doesn’t introduce the melody and then improvise – she starts improvising on these standards from the get go.) Read More