Live at the Regal (1965) by BB King

Categories: 1965 and Music.

This record is often thought of as the pinnacle of BB King live records, as far as I know, the record that influenced an absolute ton of guitar players and cemented his reputation as sort of the ambassador for the blues. It’s a little too polished and urbane for me, frankly. I prefer a rougher-edged version of the blues, especially live. And though I understand the appeal (especially the crossover appeal) of something like this, I’m kind of surprised of how…well, what the opposite of gritty, it is. King is a phenomenal player, and obviously hugely influential, not just on Read More

Ives: Symphonies Nos 2 and 3; The Unanswered Question (1966) by the New York Philharmonic conducted by Leonard Berstein

Categories: 1901, 1902, 1910, 1911, 1935, 1958, 1960, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1987, and Music.

This is a compilation of the New York Philharmonic and Leonard Berstein’s performances of the middle symphonies and The Unanswered Question, originally a piece paired with another but one that has found a lot of attention as a standalone. Bernstein was one of the great champions of Ives once he was “discovered,” but these performances are actually significantly later than the premieres, which were handled by other conductors in the ’40s. Apparently Bernstein made some somewhat radical changes to some of the tempi and these changes have entered the repertoire. That’s not something that necessarily bothers me, though I understand Read More

The Kink Kontroversy (1965) by The Kinks

Categories: 1965 and Music.

The Kinks’ first few albums are apparently not worth listening to. I certainly haven’t. But what I hear about them is that they were very much a singles band and that their album tracks were really weak. This record is supposed to be where that changed. But it’s kind of hard to hear it. Davies is one of England’s great popular songwriters, but he sure wasn’t there yet in 1965. These songs are all fine, but they’re hardly stellar. There’s only a few that really resonate with me, and only because I’m consciously looking for proof of Davies’ talent. It’s Read More

Point of Departure (1965) by Andrew Hill

Categories: 1965 and Music.

This is an aggressively “avant” post bop / hard bop (and modal!) album that skirts the edges of bop so much that you could almost mistake it for free (even though it is decidedly not). The compositions are ambitious, as is the band itself (substituting flute and bass clarinet for sax at types). And the solos are as out there as possible without going quite so far as to be completely free. It’s great stuff. It’s certainly dense stuff too, and it might take me a few more listens to fully decide what I think about it. But it’s hard Read More

Peer Gynt Suites; Karelia Suite; The Swan of Tuonela (1965, 1976, 198?) by Radio-Symphonie-Orchester Helsinki conducted by Okko Kamu

Categories: 1976 and Music.

This is a compilation of two major romantic orchestral suites – one by Sibelius and one by Grieg – buttressed by an excerpt from another of Sibelius’ suites. Unfortunately this isn’t the complete Peer Gynt as this was recorded prior to the discovery of the complete score in the 1980s but this still contains all the “big tunes” that we are familiar with. It’s hard for me to try to objectively judge something so famous,. The music is classic, most of it has become so popular that it is etched indelibly on our minds. It’s hard to really know what Read More

Morawetz / Ginastera: Harp Concertos (1989) by Gianetta Baril, Edmonton Symphony Orchestra conducted by Uri Mayer

Categories: 1989 and Music.

I have long loved the harp. Ever since I first heard “She’s Leaving Home” sometime in my tweens I was enchanted. And yet I have done a piss poor job of ever seeking out harp music. I can’t really say why exactly, I guess I was just too busy looking for other sounds (that of the cello, for example). Ginastera’s Harp Concerto is flat out awesome. A work that manages to combine bot the late Romantic obsession with local folk music with developments that had occurred since the so-called “Crisis of Tonality”, the concerto is everything I hoped it would Read More

Out Front! (1965, 1994) by Jaki Byard

Categories: 1965 and Music.

I must say I was at least a little interested to see what Byard would do on his own as I am a big fan of his work with Mingus. And so far I can’t say I’m all that impressed. This is, for the most part, very traditional stuff for 1965. The covers are pretty standard and most of the originals are attempts at reviving past jazz genres. There is a variety of those genres, which keeps things from getting boring, but it is still safe stuff. And the fact that he plays with different combinations – and even includes Read More

Dvorak: Symphony No. 8 / Brahms: Symphony No. 3 (1988) by Wiener Philharmoniker, Herbert von Karajan

Categories: 1988 and Music.

At first this seemed to me like an arbitrary combination (something which I generally dislike) but for some reason the two works seem to mesh well together, and it’s not just because they were written within five years of each other. They seem (at least on my first listens) to strike similar tones and so the combination doesn’t appear so odd. 7/10 Read More

Bert Jansch (1965)

Categories: 1965 and Music.

Jansch’s debut is hard to place in context if only because this particularly thing has been done so many times since, and better. But in 1965 in Britain there were few British inger-songwriters this good, especially this good at guitar. And that’s the real value of the album: the guitar playing (Jansch is the British John Fahey only he sings…). Jansch was a huge influence on, among others Jimmy Page – who I believe stole from Jansch as he stole from everyone he admired – and Neil Young. Jansch’s lyrics are a little less strong: they range from pretty great Read More

The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea (1965) by Yukio Mishima

Categories: 1965, Books, and Fiction.

At some level I think that this is about the potential problems inherent in a society accepting the truth of our objective reality, and embracing the philosophy of existentialism (at least in its least systematized forms). The novel is considered an allegory for the problems facing Japan after its defeat in World War II, so I might not be too far off in this assessment. Mishima seems to be suggesting that not only will children be unable to grow up properly – or morally – in a world free of the goals and rules of tradition, but he seems to Read More

My Favourite Music Scene

Categories: Music.

Throughout the years, New York has been a hot bed of the avant garde, the new, and the different. And London has also been a real centre of forward thinking music. (Though with London – even more so than NY – many of the bands that were doing the forward thinking originated in other communities before moving to London.) But for me, the one scene that consistently excites me – when I go back to it, when I encounter new bands from it, and when I think about the overall creativity of a given time and place – actually was Read More

Mr. Tambourine Man by the Byrds (Columbia, 1965)

Categories: 1965 and Music.

Mr. Tambourine man isn’t really the first folk rock album ever – as the Beatles had been dabbling in somewhat similar sounds on their past two albums and Dylan had done the same on his last – and it’s not the greatest ever – that could go to other Byrds albums or some Fairport Convention records – but it is the most important, and as such, it is great in its influence, if not quite in its actual content. The term was coined for this album (even if the style of music already existed). The album launched the brief folk Read More

The 50th Anniversary Collection by James Brown (Polydor 2003)

Categories: 1956, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1976, 1979, 1988, 2003, and Music.

James Brown’s importance can not be understated. He is on The List of the most important musical figures of the twentieth century (along with Louis Armstrong, the Beatles, Miles Davis, Dylan, Duke Ellington, Schoenberg, Stockhausen, Frank Zappa and maybe a few others). This compilation of his hit singles gives a very good idea of his progression and how he turned gritty soul and R and B into funk and thus got sampled more than any other band leader ever. The one downside is that this compilation of his hit singles is missing one of his biggest hits. Hard to understand that Read More