Saturday, December 3, 2016

4 Down....

Well I've been on this new musical adventure for about 5 days now, and I'm 4 albums in. In my quest to listen to all 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die, there have been very few surprises so far. I already spoke at length about Sinatra's In The Wee Small Hours in my last blog, so we will move on from there.
Elvis Presley- Elvis Presley 1956, RCA Records
It is fun to listen to both a legend and a whole new genre of music in their infancy together. I've never been a gigantic Elvis fan. I enjoy his music once in a while, especially the music he recorded pre-1956 for Sam Phillips and Sun Records, but I would consider myself a casual fan at best. Now, that's not to take anything away from the impact Elvis had on popular music. John Lennon said, "Before Elvis, there was nothing.", and I get it. There are some standout performances on this album, and they laid the groundwork for popular music for decades to come. His back up band is simple, straddling that line between country and rhythm and blues. Elvis voice is in fine fashion. My favorite track on the album is his version of "Blue Moon", written twenty years before by the great Richard Rogers. Elvis delivers this better than anyone I have ever heard before. It is haunting and beautiful all at the same time. Sounds like it should be playing on the Juke Box At the RR Diner in Twin Peaks.

 The Louvin Brothers- Tragic Songs of Love 1956 Capitol Records
Not sure what to expect when I downloaded this album from Amazon. Winds up it's a nice blend of the Everly Brothers vocal harmonies and songs with lyrics you would expect coming from Hank Williams. It's country music before Achy Breaky Heart ruined the genre forever. The songs tell stories with a read Americana feeling to them. It's like the folklore of our nation put into song. I really enjoyed it, and I will be returning to it again.

Louis Prima- The Wildest 1956 Capitol Records
This was a no brainer for me. I have loved Louis Prima and Keely Smith since I was a teenager. The comedic play between the two, the great swing arrangements, Louis' trumpet, and add in a wild sax by mister Sam Butera, and you've got something baby. Close your eyes and you are back at the Sierra in Las Vegas, 1956. It's fun, irreverent, and boy does it swing. Classic tracks like Just a Gigolo and Jump Jive and Wail are only the beginning of the fun.

More later......

Monday, November 28, 2016

A Musical Adventure

Today more than ever our musical choices are endless. Almost every recording known to man is available, in one format or another, at our fingertips. With this surfeit of material vying for our attention it is hard for this music geek to decide what to listen to on a daily basis. I just finished going through my massive CD collection in alphabetical order, a process that took well over two years, and I've been thinking about where to go next. Do I stick with what I know and continue to play my favorites over and over again, or do I go exploring, looking for new treasures yet to be discovered?
Last night I decided to go exploring, but where do I begin? There is so much out there I guy could get lost, unless he has a map to guide him. I found a map and it has sent me on a journey, a musical adventure you might say.
The map is a list compiled by music journalist Robert Dimery. He calls it 1001 albums you must hear before you die. It is a very eclectic list with everything from jazz and blues to hip hop, rap, and everything in between. The list is not in order from worst to greatest (according to Mr. Dimery they are all great), it's not alphabetical or even my genre, it is chronological. The list starts in 1955 and continues on until 2007, the year it was compiled. I have decided to start at the beginning and follow this map, one album at a time. It may take years, but I am excited to discover where it will take me.
So, today, during my commute to and from work, I listened to the 1955 album "In The Wee Small Hours", by Mr. Frank Sinatra. This is an early concept album. Every song is about lost love, unrequited love, loneliness, and depression. The album creates a setting in the listeners mind of a small bar or lounge at 2:30 in the morning. The only people left are the singer, and the bartender. The orchestration is beautiful by Mr. Nelson Riddle and the chairman's voice never sounded better. The only problem with this album is it should come with a prescription for Prozac. By the time the 50 minutes and change are up the listener has lived through 16 songs filled with tears as they fall into Sinatra's martini. It is not an album I would throw on at a party or even listen to while driving to work again. If I ever listen to this album again, which I may, it will be with the lights low, a Jack and Coke in my right hand, and my wife nearby so I don't fall into Mr. Sinatra's pit of despair.

Next album.....Elvis Presley's 1955 debut on RCA records. See you then.