Full disclosure: I did not want to listen to this. I don’t love The Beach Boys and have generally been annoyed by the Brian Wilson-worship that has bubbled to the surface over the last few decades. Of all the likely listeners of this record, one would expect me to be among the least fair. Read More
1972, Blue-Eyed Soul, Chamber Folk, Folk Jazz, Folk Rock, Jazz Folk, Music, and Singer Songwriter.
When Morrison is on he is like few other performers and songwriters – he creates this seemingly effortless blend of so many things that we never would have expected would go together and he makes it all sound organic, as if his genre-blending was the most normal (and obvious) thing in the world. Read More
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
Before I heard Astral Weeks, I had an idea of Van Morrison and what he sounded like (without listening to him). And this album is what I was thinking of. I’d never heard it, but it’s pretty much what I expected from Astral Weeks. I guess that’s why this one is disappointing. “Pleasant” gets thrown around a lot with this record and that’s what I think of while I listen to this. It sounds like someone who is pretty happy and that’s fine, but his earlier records are so cool that this feels like someone resting on their laurels – Read More
Al Kooper fascinates me. He had a bizarre career: writing a hit pop song, becoming Dylan’s keyboardist, turning into a jazz rock pioneer and then having a career as a record producer. But despite my fascination, this is the first proper solo album of his I’ve heard. Maybe I’m disappointed because I was expecting something very different. Maybe I’m disappointed because, much like Kooper does here, I have mythologized his life a little too much. I don’t know. Reviews I have read compare this to Elton John around the same period. I have no idea if that’s apt or not Read More
The Jam go from ripping off post punk (particularly PIL and Gang of Four) and David Bowie (and the Beatles!) to ripping off soul. I don’t know Northern Soul, so I don’t know if this is derivative of that, but you can hear echoes of southern (American) soul as well as the usual Jam influences. Because this is the Jam, there are plenty of good songs. But this feels like a new set of clothes after they got tired of the previous set they donned for Sound Affects. I could take this or leave it. 6/10 Read More
I haven’t heard her debut, and it’s been ages since I listened to Big Brother and the Holding Company, so I honestly don’t know how this compares to her previous work. It definitely has the reputation it has in part because it’s a (good) posthumous record. But, to my knowledge, this is as good a showcase of perhaps the greatest female rock singer ever as I’ve heard. The covers are solid choices – and her “Me and Bobby McGee” is obviously the definitive version – and her own contributions are strong (“Mercedes Benz” is a highlight). There’s just one thing Read More