Tag: Baroque Pop

1970, Music

Close to You (1970) by Carpenters

I know the Carpenters by reputation and a few of their hits, only. The title track and a few other songs of theirs were big enough to find their way into pop culture. (For example, the title track has been used on The Simpsons.) Rockist orthodoxy has it that they are not very good – …

1995, Music

Tilt (1995) by Scott Walker

Scott Walker had one of the most incredible second acts in popular music, utterly transforming his sound at a point at which most people could be forgiven for having forgotten about him (if they knew about him at all). His late career albums are some of the most vital, original singer-songwriter albums you’ll ever hear. …

1990, Music

Songs for Drella (1990) by Lou Reed and John Cale

I’m not sure why but I find Lou Reed’s memorial lyrics way too explicit for my tastes. He’s so specific that it removes the universal appeal. I don’t normally have a problem with specificity in and of itself, and with Reed’s other lyrics but, for some reason, when it comes to death, that’s how I …

1970, Music

Elton John (1970)

Elton Johns self-titled second album

Elton John’s second album is an interesting combination of contrasting styles, with some of it sounding like classic Elton John and some of it sounding like he really doesn’t know what he wants to sound like. It sounds a lot like a debut to me in that it feels like he hasn’t quite found his …

1975, Music

Between the Lines (1975) by Janis Ian

It sure feels like Janis Ian has been mostly forgotten all these years later. She was basically never mentioned in the various music things I consumed as a teen and my first exposure to her was the use of”At Seventeen” in an episode of The Simpsons. I don’t think I heard much about her again …

1965, Music

The Beach Boys Today! (1965)

Well this is the moment when the Brian Wilson who has been endlessly celebrated by the music press truly emerges, at least in album form. Though the lyrical sophistication of these songs has been greatly exaggerated (to a degree I don’t think I can stress enough) the musical sophistication is leaps and bounds beyond most …

1969, Music

Scott 4 (1969) by Scott Engel

I think I just have to face it: the Scott Walker I like is the one who completely reinvented himself later in his life, demolishing his earlier image and creating some of the weirdness, most unique singer-songwriter albums I’ve ever heard. Try as I might, I don’t like the original version of him. This is …

1974, Music

Good Old Boys (1974) by Randy Newman

I have long struggled to “get” Randy Newman, often finding the contrasts in tone within a single record, and the excessive arrangements, to be far more of a problem than his voice. (I assume his voice is the thing that keeps most people from enjoying him.) But I was listening to an episode of the …

1974, Music

The Psychomodo (1974) by Cockney Rebel

I think I got this band confused with a pub rock band. I don’t really know how I did that, but I did. So, as you might imagine, I was in for a surprise.This is extra arty glam rock (or perhaps super glammy art rock, if you prefer) with a fair amount of quirk courtesy …

1999, Music

Snuffbox Immanence (1999) by Ghost

I got made fun of so much for liking prog rock when I was in my late teens and early 20s, in part because, for the people I knew, prog rock was horribly old and uncool and, moreover, my friends didn’t actually know what they were talking about usually, mistaking “prog rock” for Styx and …

1969, Music

On the Threshold of a Dream (1969) by The Moody Blues

Many people, or at least many rock critics, consider the Moodies to be the first ever progressive rock band or, at the very least, creators of the first ever progressive rock album. Now, I haven’t heard the previous album, but I have heard their album which supposedly invented the genre (Days of Future Passed) and …

1968, Music

Bradley’s Barn (1968) by The Beau Brummels

The usual history of country rock goes something like this: The Byrds invented it with Sweetheart of the Radio. A more sophisticated version of that story is that the International Submarine Band invented country rock, but nobody heard their record, so the Byrds popularized the genre when they hired ISB singer-songwriter Gram Parsons and he …

1968, Music

The Hurdy Gurdy Man (1968) by Donovan

Donovan put out so many damn albums in the late ’60s that I have a hard time believing it sometimes. So I stupidly assumed Mellow Yellow was the last one and was going to compare this to it. But no, there was a double album in between – which was confusingly released as two albums …

1968, Music

The Cheerful Insanity of Giles, Giles and Fripp (1968)

This bonkers album is probably only known because Michael Giles and Robert Fripp went on to form King Crimson. Without Crimson, I cannot imagine too many people would be aware of this record.

1963, Music

In Dreams (1963) by Roy Orbison

If there was one artist I grew up with from the ’50s and early ’60s, it was Johnny Rivers. But if there were two artists I grew up from the ’50s and early ’60s it was Roy Orbison. You see, we listened to oldies radio. But when we didn’t listen to oldies stations, we either …

1968, Music

Randy Newman Creates Something New (1968)

For someone with my oft-stated supposed ability to tolerate weird, unconventional voices, I sure seem to struggle with them lately. On first listen to this record, I thought about dropping it, as I wasn’t sure I could deal with the 1968 iteration of Randy Newman’s legendarily unconventional voice.

1978, Music

The Kick Inside (1978) by Kate Bush

The problem with starting mid-career with an artist is that you kind of assume what they sound like in their maturity or prime is how they’ve always sounded. I started with The Dreaming, a record that knocked me out. It was pretty damn unlikely that Bush’s debut would stand up to it. And I certainly …

1967, Music

Pandemonium Shadow Show (1967) by Nilsson

I have been avoiding (Harry) Nilsson since I became aware of him through the Beatles (Lennon and McCartney were big fans). I guess I avoided him because of previous experiences of music the Beatles were fans of. And, well, I knew he was poppy, and for most of my life I have not been into …

1967, Music

Wild Honey (1967) by The Beach Boys

I am not sure anything could have prepared me for this record, a bizarre left turn from Pet Sounds and Smiley Smile (and Smile presumably) in terms of ambition and overall sound, but also in some ways a logical follow up to Smiley Smile‘s bizarre lo-fi aesthetic. The first record the rest of the band …

1967, Music

Mr. Fantasy (1967) by Traffic

Traffic is one of those bands I’ve come at bass-ackwards, being way too familiar with their jazz rock reunion iteration and not very familiar with the original psychedelic rock band. It’s a stupid way of approaching any band, but particularly one that changed its identity as much as as Traffic did.

1967, Music

Pleasures of the Harbor (1967) by Phil Ochs

I have a heard a lot about Phil Ochs as a songwriter and he has been recommended to me both by the critics I used to read and by friends of mine. Yet I have still managed to barely hear any of his songs, and usually only covers. Like so many other artists, his music …

1967, Music

Smiley Smile (1967) by The Beach Boys

If you read a lot of music criticism about the ’60s, like I used to, you have heard about Smile ad nauseum. If you read a lot of independent music criticism at the turn of the century, like I used to, you have also heard about Smile ad nauseum. You’ve heard about Smile to the …

1971, Music

New York City You’re a Woman (1971) by Al Kooper

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 …