For much of my life I have had a hatred for “boomer nostalgia” – movies and music that lionize growing up in the 50s and 60s as if it was just the bees knees. I am getting to an age where I am finally able to better understand the appeal of such nostalgia – I’m likely a sucker for some nostalgia for growing up in the 80s and the 90s – but I still think that art that relies on a such a strong emotional pull to a particular generation probably can never be truly great art. Truly great art Read More
Despite deciding I was going to get into ELO when I was 16 or 17, I never actually did. So I have no idea how this to compares to any of their other records.I believe this is supposed to be their best, or at least their most popular. Anyway… Read More
I think I missed my chance with Funkadelic. I generally like the music but I generally hate the lyrics. Had I discovered Funkadelic between the ages of 17 and 23 I would have absolutely loved that band. Unfortunately, many of the musical things I like Funkadelic’s music significantly more than Parliament’s but there are still these inane, goofy lyrics that do not ingratiate themselves. I get that this is dance music, but listening to it the way I am is not conducive to ignoring the lyrics. This is all very well done, but it is not for me. I like Read More
1971, 1973, 1976, Garage Rock, Music, Proto Punk, Punk, and Punk Rock.
This sort of compilation of “demos” is an early punk classic that lets the rest of the world know what probably only a few people in Boston and the music industry knew. The mix of straight ahead rock music and the laconic delivery is not quite bratty enough for punk but way more in line with punk than most of the other rock music being made when it was recorded. Listening to it should prompt serious arguments among you and your friends about which punk band was the first punk band. Also, the songs are good and some are classics. Read More
It is incredible to me the amount of time and energy that has been devoted to the foundational myth of this very boring, very average American arena rock band. To read wikipedia, or to listen to any classic rock radio station in the ’90s, you’d think this record was some kind of miracle of musical creativity or genius the way people feel they need to repeat the story of Scholz and these songs.(And, of course, the supposedly really great guitar sound.) It’s bizarre. And, after you’ve heard it more than once, the story is as boring and generic as their Read More
1969, 1972, 1976, 1982, 1984, 2003, Avant Garde, Chamber Music, Film Music, Impressionism, Modern Classical, Modernism, Music, New Music, and Piano music.
This collection is a little confusing in part because of the confusing nature of Rrrrrrr…, which can apparently be performed independently. The disc appears to be a compilation of his piano-based music. Calling “piano music” would be a misnomer, as there are lots of other instruments on a number of the pieces. The pieces from Rrrrrrr… are all over the place in terms of style, starting with ragtime and running the gamut of styles, through pretty traditional to really avant garde stuff (a prepared piano, a “raga”). I like how Kagel turns music on its here but here I have Read More
I understand why this is an important record to a lot of people: it’s an all-woman rock band, with a bit of a punky attitude and very much behaving like men (or, at least, not like women were supposed to behave). And I’m sure it’s been hugely influential. But the music isn’t all that great: it’s pretty generic hard rock for its day, with a bit of a punky attitude but which isn’t really matched by the music, and a little too much camp, of the not self-aware variety, for me (particularly in the final track, which basically turns into Read More
My first Steely Dan record doesn’t really endear me to them. (Nor does reading that Aja is mellower…) I love jazz, but I can’t say I love R and B with a jazz influence, which is what this sounds like to me. Too much R and B, not enough jazz, for my tastes. I like some of Fagen’s lyrics – a lot of them – and I think I would like this band if they were a little more into jazz rather than “jazzy.” But this is just not my thing. It’s well done, it has surprisingly decent lyrics, but Read More
Try as I might, I just can’t get into Warren Zevon. I don’t find him nearly half as clever as he was made out to be by some fawning appraisal I read of him years ago (which has, unfortunately, coloured everything I’ve heard of his since). Some of his lines are indeed incisive and/or funny, but not that many. And a lot of time he just seems to be to be deliberately contrarian, such as with the song that opens this album. I don’t love his music (though I’d rather listen to this record than some of the records he Read More
For some reason, when I first listened to this record, I felt like the keyboards completely dominated it and Blackmore was reduced to a sideman. That’s not true at all, and I have no idea why I had just a hard time hearing Blackmore’s solos when I was casually listening, as they are as great as ever. The music is actually pretty good for this kind of metal too, and maybe Dio’s lyrics are better this time out. But, for whatever reason,, I still prefer the debut. 7/10 Read More
This is my first Steve Miller record, and I don’t get it. It makes sense that it’s his most popular, as there are 3 radio hits here. But it’s oddly constructed. It’s book-ended by tracks that try to sound futuristic (a ’70s attempt at it), with lots of ARP. As if Miller had just found out about this instrument the Who and the Floyd were fooling around with in 1970. But in the middle is straight ahead roots rock and roots pop, some okay covers and some completely unnecessary ones. But at least they don’t date themselves like his ARP Read More
This is my first exposure to BOC. They’re a weird band. They try to walk a line between almost an Alice Cooper Light kind of ghoulish arena rock and a more serious hard rock band. They’re impressive musicians (I like the lead guitarist particularly, who sometimes sounds like he should be another band) but honestly I cannot tell whether they are a purposively dumb hard rock band, a serious hard rock band, or something else (certainly some of their songs are light and poppy enough that it sounds like they had dreams more of radio play). I think there’s a Read More
The first time through this, I didn’t like it as much as Toys in the Attic. Aside from the opening track, there are fewer hits and the songs sounded weaker on the whole. But this is a dirty, perhaps deliberately poorly sounding record. (Listen to the piano on the last track – that piano sounds terrible). At a time when most rock bands were still trying to sound as perfect as possible in studio, and over-rehearsing the shit out of everything, here is a band that sounds messy, unpolished and raw, despite the commercial success of the last record. It’s Read More
AC/DC’s first international release is actually a compilation of music from their first two records, released only in Australia. (Oh, the days when music was that regionalized…) I haven’t heard either of those records, so I don’t know if they did a good job of compiling this, but my guess is they did. This record establishes exactly what has been since: big, simple, sleazy rock music. And, for some reason, I don’t mind the misogyny as much from Bon Scott, perhaps because I think he didn’t know any better, perhaps because this is very much the template for all future Read More
Note: I have never listened to the original Colosseum… “Dark Side of the Moog” gets things off to a great start, despite its title, with some typically bonkers (“mathy” is probably the word we would use now) European jazz rock. I used to eat this stuff up when I was younger, and still have a deep appreciation for people who can play like this. But things take a turn – quite a turn – when that damn vocalist starts singing. I mean…where did they find this guy? It’s like the band decided that this crazy jazz rock stuff was just Read More
The idea that this is the first weak Gentle Giant album just doesn’t match what I’m hearing. Yes, I’m not sure the concept holds up all that well (this is a musical “interview” or something…), but the band is still quite capable of making their nutty, extremely inaccessible prog. The songs feel like maybe their lacking strong enough melodies. And it sure is short. But I can’t say I dislike it anyway, as it’s still very much GG doing their thing, something I think I’ll always appreciate. 7/10 Read More
1901, 1902, 1910, 1911, 1916, 1919, 1929, 1973, 1976, 1994, 1995, 2000, Modernism, Music, Orchestral Music, Post Modernism, and Symphony.
This is one of those Decca compilations that takes recordings from all over its catalogue (in this case from the mid ’70s and the mid ’90s) to create an ostensibly “complete” collection of a composer’s works in a given field, in this case Ives’ work for large orchestra. Of course it’s not complete, as it’s only the first four symphonies (Ives wrote 5 plus an unfinished one) and only two of the three” orchestral sets” (sort of American tone poems, though that description isn’t entirely accurate…). And, to fit on the disks, the sequencing is totally out of whack as Read More
I think you can regard Bob Ezrin as the “Phil Spector of the ’70s”; a man who focused on creating a dense wall of sound. And, though I don’t like this production style, I think it suits certain things. When Ezrin’s style matches the artist’s material, it works wonders (see, for instance, Berlin or The Wall). But when it doesn’t match the material, well…we get something like this. I don’t know what anyone involved was thinking here. I don’t know KISS beyond the singles (this is the first album of theirs I’ve heard) but, beyond Ezrin’s work with Alice Cooper Read More
So much of what I’ve read about this band focuses on their Grammy-winning North American breakthrough, as if the first time North Americans heard this music was the first time it was really vital and worth listening to. And I do understand that distribution was a different beast in the ’70s, but still, it’s a little rich to tell everyone that the first album Columbia released by this band is their “best.” Anyway, I bring this up because, in searching for their North American debut, I found, instead, this gem, their second release. (Their North American debut was either their Read More
The Planets (1976) by Gustav Holst, performed by The Philadelphia Orchestra, The Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia conducted by Eugene Ormandy
Holst’s most famous work has become one of the most famous pieces of music of the 20th century. And though it has been featured in endless film and TV projects, and I am mostly just familiar with “Mars,” because of its cover by King Crimson (under the title “The Devil’s Triangle” for copyright reasons). “Mars” is an absolute classic. Of that, there is no doubt. But the rest of the suite makes less of an impression on me. I often find the most famous of “classical” music pieces (especially modern ones), to be the least interesting. They’re famous for a Read More
This an attempt to show the toll of mental illness at a time when such things were relatively rare. It uses some conventions of a horror movie, which is a neat trick. The film has dated somewhat, I feel like, but it’s still more successful than something such as the equally acclaimed Cassavetes film “A Woman Under the Influence.” And though I think we’ve gotten a lot better at depicting mental illness on screen, this was a daring, provocative film at the time, that features one of Liv Ullman’s greatest performances. 9/10 Read More
Jim Hall is an excellent guitarist. I had never heard him before, but he’s fantastic. And, on this date, he’s backed by a great band, again made up of two guys I don’t know. And they are excellent as well. And the whole thing is fantastic. But I can’t shake one feeling, and that is that this record was made in 1975 and this is absolutely, totally bop. (Well, if I’m being honest, I guess it’s post bop, but you get my meaning.) And it’s the mid seventies. And he’s doing his thing, and his thing is great, but it’s Read More
Peer Gynt Suites; Karelia Suite; The Swan of Tuonela (1965, 1976, 198?) by Radio-Symphonie-Orchester Helsinki conducted by Okko Kamu
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
This is the cleanest produced VDGG album I’ve heard so far (it’s the fourth I’ve heard), and that’s both a good thing and a bad thing. On the positive, Hammill’s voice has never been so front and centre, and you can really hear how incredible a singer he is – if an album like this doesn’t convince you he was one of the best male rock singers of the ’70s, there’s no saving you. On the other hand, the appealing murk of earlier albums – ‘is that an organ, a guitar or an electric saxophone I am hearing right now?’ Read More
Symphony No. 3 (1992) by Henryk Gorecki, performed by Dawn Upshaw, London Sinfonietta conducted by David Zinman
I think this is the ‘Adagio for Strings’ of the Polish avant garde / Holy minimalist schools, which is both a good thing and a bad thing. It’s obvious why its popular (well, if you put aside its length) and its also obvious why so many music nerds hate its popularity or even hate it: it’s too easy to love for something written by a guy who’s supposed to be “avant”. I really like it, but I understand why it isn’t exactly forward-thinking. As someone else commented, ‘sometimes beauty transcends reason.’ Couldn’t say it better myself. 8/10 Read More
I am a very big fan of John Adams’ Nixon in China from pretty much the moment I heard it. It seemed impossible to me that two seemingly diametrically opposed styles of music could be merged s seamlessly. It’s safe to say it changed my (musical) life. That experience is always shocking (in a wonderful way) to me, especially as I get older. I have been going out of my way to find supposed major events and touchstones in music history for about 15 years now, and every so often – sometimes every few months, sometimes less than once a Read More
1893, 1903, 1976, 2001, Impressionism, Modern creative, Music, and String Quartet.
This is a collection of three string quartets by three different composers, written nearly a century apart. Read More
The Ramones’ debut album begs the question: can we determine greatness without looking at influence? If the Ramones released this album, and it didn’t influence half the rock musicians alive today (maybe a slight exaggeration) would we still consider it great? However, that is a stupid question. Albums are indeed released publicly and I personally wholly reject the idea that the most perfect music (art, literature, etc) is the music that is never heard by anyone but the creator (that is so retarded). Music (and all art) is social. So we have to look at importance and influence when considering Read More
1956, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1976, 1979, 1988, 2003, Compilation, Funk, Music, R and B, and Soul.
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