Sunday, March 30, 2014

19. Marian Anderson - Spirituals

When the first notes of this album began to play, a sense of dread filled me.  Of all the musical styles I love... opera isn't on it.  Having seen the song list, I was looking forward to hearing this.  Many of the songs I knew from versions done by some of my favorite artists, including Jerry Garcia, Pete Seeger, The Wayfaring Strangers and others.

But this was opera - and there were 30 songs on the album!

I gave it a chance, and within a few songs, I was really into it.  Her voice is rich and smokey, like a good porter, and works perfectly with with the subject matter - songs of religion and the pain of slavery.

I'm not sure this is something I'd listen to all the time, but I'm really glad I stuck with it.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

18. Albert Ammons and Meade "Lux" Lewis - The First Day

When I first got into jazz via the Columbia Jazz Club (I may not have the name exactly right, but they would send you several jazz CDs each month), one of my favorites was Erroll Garner's "Concert by the Sea."  The boogie-woogie in this 1939 album reminded me a lot of that.

Fun fact I learned from the 1000 Recordings book - this was the first album released on the amazing Blue Note label.  Great rollicking energy in this album...

17. Los Amigos Invisibles - Arepa 3000: A Venezuelan Journey into Space

This album is an absolute blast!  Latin grooves mix with classic disco sounds for one big dance party.  Spacey, weird, funky songs blend together (I'm always a huge fan of songs segueing into each other)

My only quibble with this album?  Too damn long.  There's almost no way to sustain this type of fun for 66 minutes, so by the end, you're feeling "OK, I got it!"

Party on!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

16. Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass - Whipped Cream & Other Delights

Shagadelic, baby!

Of course, I knew this album from its so-famous cover (and various cover knock-offs, one of which I've included below).

Perhaps it was revolutionary in its time, but it didn't really age well in my opinion.  It sounds like one big episode of The Dating Game.  Perhaps the most interesting thing is A Taste of Honey, which makes me want to hear the Beatles version.

Friday, November 15, 2013

15. The Almanac Singers - State of Arkansas

Years ago, when I lived in Cincinnati, I was doing some volunteer writing for a Holocaust organization.  The head of the group introduced me to the political cartoons of Theodor Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss.

It was a really eye-opener for me.  Courtesy of the wars of my lifetime, I had always been led to believe that the right was pro-war and the left was anti-war.  But these cartoons educated me to the fact that it was the LEFT that really wanted the U.S. to get involved in WWII, and the right wanted to stay out of it.

I was reminded of this when listening to the Almanac Singers 1941 recordings.  Admittedly, I had never heard of the Almanac Singers before this, but any group that includes Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger is worth checking out.

Most of the stuff on here is typical early folk music, with themes I was very familiar with from previous listening to Pete Seeger - unions good - bossman bad, etc.

But the mind-blowing song on here is Round and Around Hitler's Grave.  Over the music of a lilting children's nursery rhyme, the song hits the same themes as those Dr. Seuss cartoons I'd seen years earlier.  Definitely put a new perspective on early folk for me.

Monday, February 11, 2013

14. The Allman Brothers Band - At Fillmore East


This was the first album in the 1000 Listens journey which really turned me around. First, let me explain that I did my "listen" to this many many months ago, before I took my hiatus from writing this blog.

The Allman Brothers Band were a group that I knew I should listen to, but never really got around to.  I guess I just put them in the blanket category of Southern Rock - and I knew a lot of the songs from the radio, but was never all that impressed.

When I began listening to Fillmore East for the first time, my opinion didn't change.  I even equated them in my head with - gasp! - .38 Special. (side note - I just Googled .38 Special to make sure I wrote their name correctly.  Did you know the band began in 1974?  I sure didn't).

But then I heard You Don't Love Me/Soul Serenade.


My mind was completely blow - and the Mountain Jam a few songs later further splattered my brains all over 34th Street.  Suddenly I went back and listened to everything else on the album and GOT it.

A few months later, I got to see the ABB on a double-bill with Santana. Although the 90 minutes they played wasn't nearly long enough, Warren Haynes and Derek Trucks did the legacy of Duane Allman proud.

Down to the Whipping Post indeed.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

13. Mose Allison - The Collection

Before listening to this album, I knew only two things about Mose Allison:
  1. The Pixies song "Allison" is about him
  2. He wrote two one of The Who's most kick-ass live songs - "Young Man Blues" and Tommy's "Eyesight to the Blind"
Now I know that he has an incredible jazz singing voice - he's like Nat 'King' Cole if Nat wrote about drinking and gambling.  Helluva piano player too.  The second half of this long collection is mostly instrumentals, and I found myself yearning for his voice again.  Don't know how I missed him during my jazz years, but he's someone I'm going to check out more.

I'll leave you with this gem: