Author Archives: keepsmealive
I’ve had this book sitting here for ages, unread. Since it sits close in the loose alphabetization of this band series, I figured now was as good a time as any to finally get to it.
I generally like these 33 1/3 series of books (the very few that I’ve read, anyway). They’re written by fans, about albums that matter in the general fabric of music. They’re kind of like condensed opinion piece Masters theses that would otherwise never have been written (without, sometimes, all the academic fluffery that go with it).
However, this book is a little different, in that more than half of it isn’t even about this album or its songs. Oh, it’s about Belle And Sebastian, alright, but the author spends a lot of time talking about the (personal) struggles of being a fan of a band that went out of its way to avoid press and promotion, and how it was to be a member of a fledgling message board about the band in the early days of the internet at large. Also, collecting MP3s is hollow compared to collecting albums, apparently. It’s an overall look, sure, and probably meant to give a sense of the times, but I kept thinking ‘when are you going to talk more about the album at hand?’
The first half of the book also talks almost exclusively about the previous album, Tigermilk, so much so that I’d wager that there doesn’t need to be a book about it in the 33 1/3 series. The author sees the two albums as inextricably linked, that IYFS wouldn’t have happened without Tigermilk, integral to the beginnings of the band and this scene. Sure that’s probably true, but at only 105 pages, you might talk more about the album in question.
There’s also some about how the early 90s was dominated by loud and aggressive music, which is true for many, and how that affected folks who are of a more gentle mindset. Twee versus grunge, I guess, stereotyping most ‘rockers’ as unable to empathize with women and have a softer side. It even references a passing scene in the film High Fidelity when Jack Black hears them playing Belle And Sebastian in the store, says it sucks, and shuts the record off (an opinion, the author feels, that stuck for many people). As a listener who likes both styles of music, I think it’s interesting and somewhat sad that the best argument against those who dislike it is to basically revert to the childish “I know you are, but what am I?” argument. Indie-er than thou, much?
It does do a good job of curating the impression that there is a real intelligence, reason and meaning behind the lyrics and the music of this band, and it does humanize something most people probably assume is corporate music. It gives us a bit of the band’s history I hadn’t otherwise known (read: sought out), but it sometimes comes across somewhat as well-worded, persuasive hurt feelings, that the band should have been more popular than they were/are, more communicative than they were, and that the big mean old world just doesn’t understand empathetic people, that we’re special for liking them and you’ll just never understand us.
That’s just my impression. Your mileage may vary. Me, I’d say you’d be better off listening to the (excellent) album yourself and forming your own opinions – or not, maybe you just want to listen and enjoy without attaching all the baggage.
Today marks 300 days in a row of posting to these pages.
This album is the last in my Bentall collection here, at the moment. He has several (later) solo albums for which I will have my eyes peeled!
A cursory glance at the usual places shows not a whole lot out there on this album. It needs more love. You knew I’d say that.
Yes, it’s more awesome pop rock Legendary Hearts greatness but, as ever, there’s something in the songwriting, something in the presentation that lifts it well above dismissable fare. It feels like home. There is greatness in the work here, and I just think everyone should know about it.
Try it and then buy it!!
A lifetime of commitment to craft, not just to listening to drum parts but to music in general, with clarity and understanding. Larnell Lewis (of Snarky Puppy, etc) is really quite incredible (and he’s Canadian!). The way he figures it out with precision, then plays with such dynamics and feel…
Here he learns Matthieu Fiset’s Chick’s Pain, and Metallica’s Enter Sandman.
Today, the YouTube recommendation algorithm did a good job.
The name Gin Palace evokes history, a place to go where everybody, er, knows your name, perhaps? And what happens there? Often, the bands crank up the rock.
This 1995 album comes to us under the name Barney Bentall (no Legendary Hearts), yet most of the main band here are Legendary Hearts. Only Mike Crozier is different, so I suppose that is why they left off the name.
Of course I’m gonna say this is awesome (because it is), and you should definitely hear it and buy it (because you should). A lot of the songs here have a harder, rockier edge. There’s just something about these songs, a feel, a feel like home and that somehow these guys just get it and everything is going to be OK. Even when the song subject isn’t the nicest, it still will.
Bruce Cockburn co-wrote Atikokan Annie. Honourary Legendary Hearts listed include Cockburn, Paul Coffey and Darren McCarty. Let’s go!
Covid has fucked up a lot. We all know this, and we’re all dealing with it as best we can.
One way in which our lives around here got messed up by travel and gathering restrictions was that we could not have Christmas with my inlaws. First time ever we’ve missed being there, even when we lived halfway across the country we made it home. We hadn’t seen them since Thanksgiving! So, Christmas came and went, January came and went, and most of February too. But this week, our area relaxed a bit to gatherings of 10 (we were 6) so we went while the going was good. We were supposed to go Saturday, but while it was sunny here, they had a big snow storm there, so we waited another day and went yesterday. And even then, once we got there, we kept distance pretty well. But, especially for the kids yet for all of us: we got to visit home, and we got to have Christmas. It was so good to see them. Talk about making memories.
But you’re here for the musics – of course I got prezzies. Reviews will come in due time, so this is just a run-through, and what an incredible day it was (this is understatement).
You understand my excitement. My shock at this amount of goodness, especially for a guy who has been holding back on buying much new stuff for the better part of a year. I am going to savour all of this.
This two-track single is intriguing. Musically, it’s just the title track as a radio version (4:15) and the album version (5:03). Typical stuff. It’s a great track, though.
But the intriguing part comes with the fact that Discogs doesn’t list it at all, and neither does anywhere I else I quickly tried to find it. Yet it is a Sony Music/Epic release CDNK 711. I looked that up on Discogs, and it coughed up precisely one hit: a 2CD bonus edition of Living Colour’s 1992 album called Stain. Which is interesting because Discogs lists a bunch of other Sony/Epic numbers for that release, but not once does that page mention this number I have here. Hm. Discogs listing error, probably.
Anyway, this single has proper band photo artwork in a full jewel case with insert card (with printed lyrics of the track) and artwork on the tray liner. Nowhere on this thing does it mention it’s a promo (which it clearly is) except in the very small print on the right hand side of the CD itself where it says, once and with no fanfare amongst the rest of the legalese and such, “Not For Sale.” The rest of it looks like an official single release, nothing promo about the item number or paperwork at all.
Ain’t life strange… oh, wait a minute, that was the excellent album I covered yesterday…
Whatever this single is, this is a great track. Here are the radio and album versions (respectively). Enjoy!
The third album from this excellent band is filled with (gasp!) more excellent songs. Imagine that!
You know, I read on Allmusic that they found half of the tracks here to be throw-away filler, that it needed outside help with song selection. Haha go home, Allmusic, you’re drunk. To each their own, I know, so they can ignore it while I listen and enjoy the excellent songwriting and execution on these tracks. That awesome feel is still here, in full.
A couple tunes that you might know already would be Livin’ In The 90s, and probably Doin’ Fine, too. And hey, Bruce “Distortion Is My Friend” (it’s how he’s listed in the liner notes, folks) Cockburn played the guitar solo on Doin’ Fine, and Jim Cuddy sang background vocals on You Can’t Fix (What Ain’t Broken), as if you needed more enticement to try this out!
I had a bit more of a time finding songs from this album on the Tubes Of You, a couple of videos are homemade jobs, but hey. Try it! Then go buy it!
On top of everything else, I’ve been playing catch-up on albums I got (or meant to get) in 2020. Most of them made it onto my Best Of The Year post at the end of December. This blurb is to acknowledge that I still haven’t covered them here in these pages and I know I need to! So this isn’t really a series, just me trying to get caught up on stuff I meant to do. Give ‘er!
Side A has Johnston’s fast-strummy title track of I Want To Drink In A Bar Filled With Aliens, which is super-cool, with E.T. and Chewbacca and an imagined adventure buying rounds for all sorts of aliens. We go next to the 80s plinky electronic of Supreme Self-Quarantine. It’s hilarious but also hits so close to home it’s scary. We’re all living with this quarantine thing in our own ways, at least he has some humour about it.
Side B is the Burning Hell’s look at the same track title, I Want To Drink In A Bar. This one brings a slowed-down Cake-like feel to it as it dreams about being able to go out in public (safely) again. It even has an on-the-nose pull-quote from Cheers, and references Tolkien. What’s not to love? Exactly.
In Sum: It’s a short three tracks but all of them are perfect commentary on our current lives. The struggle is real.
THANK YOU JAMES!!
Could they do it again? Could they repeat the success of their debut? Me, I say yes. 1990 saw the band release their second album, and it’s just more proof that there is something special about this band. The sound is here, the strong songwriting is fully intact, and that feel carries over. You know the feel, the one that takes you home.
There were two singles from this one, Crime Against Love (which you’ll know well – to me it reminds of The Police, in a good way), and the excellent Life Could Be Worse. Of course, there are a whole bunch of other great tracks too, I’ve posted a few more so you can hear them.
Try them! Then buy it!
On top of everything else, I’ve been playing catch-up on albums I got (or meant to get) in 2020. Most of them made it onto my Best Of The Year post at the end of December. This blurb is to acknowledge that I still haven’t covered them here in these pages and I know I need to! So this isn’t really a series, just me trying to get caught up on stuff I meant to do. Give ‘er!
I’ve been listening to this while I do my heavy bag workout every day, and it’s brilliant. Of course it is, it’s Mastodon! It’s a compilation of rare stuff, covers, instrumentals (of older tunes), and live recordings. However, interestingly, this band is so consistent(-ly awesome) in their sound, one could pretty much be forgiven for thinking it was an album proper, not a compliation.
There’s one new (previously unreleased) song, which I’ve already covered in these pages, Fallen Torches. It’s so goddamn good. There are covers of Feist, Flaming Lips, and Metallica, and even Gibby Haynes makes an appearance. It’s also cool to have the White Walker track from Game Of Thrones on CD (I have the RSD picture disc LP).
It is missing The Bit (from the Melvins tribute), Deathbound (from Adult Swim Singles Program 2011), and their cover of Thin Lizzy’s Emerald. Also missing is a bonus track from The Hunter called The Ruiner, and surely a bunch of other stuff besides. Can we get a Medium Rarities: Volume 2? Please, Mastodon?
Here are the tracks:
01 Fallen Torches – previously unreleased
02 A Commotion – Feist cover (from Feistodon RSD single)
03 Asleep In The Deep – instrumental (b-side from Asleep in The Deep single)
04 Capillarian Crest – live
05 A Spoonful Weighs A Ton – Flaming Lips cover
06 Toe To Toes – instrumental
07 Circle Of Cysquatch – live
08 Atlanta (f. Gibby Haynes) – from Adult Swim singles collection
09 Jaguar God – instrumental
10 Cut You Up With A Linoleum Knife – original song from Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film For Theaters soundtrack
11 Blood & Thunder – live
12 White Walker – original song from Game of Thrones
13 Halloween – instrumental
14 Crystal Skull – live
15 Orion – Metallica cover
16 Iron Tusk – live
Point Of Order: A little while ago, I covered the Greatest Hits set by this band (it’s amazing and you should own it). Now, I’d thought, when I went into the stacks here, that I also had a few of Bentall’s albums proper. I did not. Kevin awesomely offered to keep his eyes peeled for me, if/when the world ever returns to some version of normal. Out of curiosity, minimal digging online also revealed that Mike’s old store had them for $5 each, so I simply corrected my collection’s oversiiiiight p.d.q. Thanks for the offer, Kevin!
So, yes, this is a bit out of alphabetical order now (hell, so was George Benson yesterday, after Geoff Berner, but no one seemed to mind), but no matter. I get to listen to a whole bunch of Barney Bentall And The Legendary Hearts over the next few days, and that is mighty fine by me.
I know this debut record inside and out, and it’s the one most folks who know him will know. It has the big single, Something To Live For, and for those following along at home, House Of Love (is Haunted), and Come Back To Me also charted in Canada.
There’s more about it HERE. You can probably hear fair comparisons to other artists (John Mellencamp, Tom Cochrane, etc) when you hear them, but all I hear is the radio at home when I was a teenager, and it’s awesome. All you need to do is get these powerfully simple and clear songs into your ears. It just feels real and strong and right.
“The album marked the beginning of Benson’s most successful period commercially. Breezin’ topped the Pop, Jazz and R&B album charts in Billboard. It spun off two hit singles, the title song (which has become a fusion jazz standard) and “This Masquerade,” which was a top ten pop and R&B hit. The album itself was certified triple Platinum by the RIAA.” (Wiki)
My old LP of this is in great shape, and always treats me well. Drop the needle and let that bass line groove grab you while the guitar takes you away… One of the best-selling (and multiple Grammy-winning) jazz albums of all time is groovy, George, groovy…
Point Of Order: This is the last Geoff Berner in my collection here, at the moment. He does have a newer one yet, Grand Hotel Cosmopolis, which is on my To Get list, top priority!
“His newest album Canadiana Grotesquica pokes gentle fun at society by featuring topics such as a Vancouver Canucks’ enforcer and singers who fake southern accents. Despite the fun, there is a deeper message to his work, he told CBC host of North by Northwest Sheryl MacKay. “It’s a silly title but there is a point to it,” Berner said. “The grotesque, I’m told, means something that has been yanked up from the grotto, it’s a word from early archeology.” He said it was a fitting name because a lot of the songs on the album had been “hauled up” from the past. “These are songs that kind of popped out of me when I was doing my … punk records,” Berner said. “Every once in awhile, something would just happen and I would write a song and it would not work in that context.”” (CBC)
I, for one, am very happy that Geoff collected these songs and put them onto an album. That some of them might have a bit more of a country feel – let’s be real, here, it still sounds like Geoff – is a bonus, a sign of growth, exploration, and change. His humour and incisive commentary are fully intact, as well.
So many great musicians on here, and excellent vocal appearances too. I mean, Wayne Adams and Diona Davies are stalwarts, at this point, but adding Frazey Ford (Be Good Tanyas), Ford Pier and (my fave) Carolyn Mark? Hot damn. What’s more, My Heart Is A Piece Of Garbage… is a Rae Spoon song, as well… I could play this album any time, anywhere. Awesome stuff.
Artists Involved: Wayne Adams, Diona Davies, Frazey Ford*, Carolyn Mark**, Ford Pier, Paul Rigby, Keith Rose.
Tracks: The Ghost Of Terry Fox (Is Looking Down On Me Tonite) / Hustle Advisory* / Super Subtle Folk Song / Prairie Wind / Phoney Drawl / Trick You / Don’t Play Cards For Money With Corby Lund / Gino Odjick / My Heart Is A Piece Of Garbage, Fight Seagulls! Fight! / Rule Of The Road (With Apologies To Country Dick Montana)**
Check out the album here, then go buy it!
“We are on our way to Bremen
That’s where we’re going to be musicians.
People say we’re too used up to be allowed to live,
But we’ve still got a caravan of fucks to give.
And so we’re on our way
We’ll speak of Death another day,
Let’s have a sacred feast
With what we’ve stolen from the thieves.“
The brilliance continues on this beautiful, well-crafted, engaging album. We get another song title I love, “Don’t Feel So Mad At God When I See You In Your Summer Dress.” Other favourite tunes include Swing A Chicken Three Times Over Your Head, When DD GEts Her Donkey Everything Will Be Alright (I might have a 7″ of this one…), and Condos, among all the other greatness. And we even get a guest appearance by Joe Keithly on Condos, too.
Here, some kind soul posted the whole album! Try it, then go buy it!
I have already covered this combination of items, in 2015, HERE. There are pictures and you get the full story. Go now, I’ll wait!
James is awesome.
My limited-run LP copy is signed by Geoff Berner.
The novel is also awesome.
I’d need to re-read the novel again before covering it here (I’ll do that, for you, Dear KMA Reader).
The LP contains brilliant covers of Berner’s songs, as played by a long list of genuine Canadian artists:
Kaizers Orchestra – Whiskey Rabbi
e.s.l. – Liar’s Bridge
Corb Lund and the Hurtin’ Albertans – That’s What Keeps The Rent Down
Carolyn Mark and her New Best Friends – Prairie Wind
Orchid Ensemble – Victory Party Variations
Rot Front – This Authentic Klezmer Wedding Band Is For Hire
Dave Lang – Phoney Drawl
Kris Demeanor and Cutest Kitten Ever – The Rich Will Move To The High Ground
Rae Spoon – Unlistenable Song
Real Ones – Light Enough To Travel
Check some of it out here!
The klezmer punk folk tradition-meets-the future sound continues on Berner’s sixth album. If you’ve been following along with this series of his albums, at this point you’ll be unsurprised by the charisma, the wit, the care, and the talent that has gone into all of these songs.
I must give it up, though, for probably one of my favourite song titles ever: “I Kind Of Hate Songs With Amibiguous Lyrics.” Awesome. It also helps that it’s a fast-paced punk swirl of brilliance. Oh, and it’s here that Rabbi Berner Finally Reveals His True Religious Agenda, too.
Play these (and more)! Then buy his records!
It seems I am always learning new things. For this post, I learned that this album is the third in a planned klezmer trilogy (along with Whiskey Rabbi and The Wedding Dance Of The Widow Bride).
It’s no surprise that this album (with Wayne Adams and Diona Davies) continues Berner’s incisive, dark (but with a grin) discography of tunes, klezmer filtered through punk, folk, culture and tradition that yet looks forward. He writes about loneliness, drinking, and political issues. His cover of Kris Demeanor’s One Shoe talks about the Saskatoon police department’s abuse of aboriginals, and so on.
In the same year as this album’s release, Berner and Bob Wiseman were given the key to the city of Bruno, Saskatchewan.
Tracks: Shut In / Luck In Exile / The Whiskey / Half German Girlfriend / King Of The Gangsters / No Tobacco / Play, Gypsy, Play / Authentic Klezmer Wedding Band / One Shoe / High Ground / Fukher
Here, Geoff goes full-on even more awesome on this record (with Wayne Adams and Diona Davies), all regalia and sadness, colourful poetry and shouted desires, sweeping emotion and caution to the wind.
Weep, Bride, Weep, Widow Bride, Traitor Bride might suggest a fixation. Yet the crazy swirl of The Fiddler Is A Good Woman, Would It Kill You?, and Song To Reconcile tie it all together. And I love the Tom Waits clank and pomp of Queen Victoria (“I want ornaments on everything!”). Really, the whole record is amazing.
I love this.
While digging around online, I discovered that Geoff recently recorded a pandemic song.
Point Of Order: I do not own Live In Oslo, the album that came before this next one. I wish I did. I checked Discogs and it isn’t even available. It’s a Grail List item for me. Man, I’d love to have one!
Make way for the Whiskey Rabbi, the next album of brilliance from Geoff Berner. Joined this time (in by-line too) by the equally talented Wayne Adams (percussion, vocals) and Diona Davies (violin, vocals), these are ten more songs you straight up need to hear.
The title track, Lucky God Damn Jew, Song Written In A Romanian Hospital, Drunk All Day, Unlistenable Song, The True Enemy, And Promises To Break Before I Sleep, The Traveller’s Curse, The Violins – Al Kmanjaat, and there’s even a welcome return of the Volcano God.
I met Geoff and Diona one time (and Carolyn Mark), at a Geoff Berner/Carolyn Mark show in 2007. That was an incredible night. You should READ ABOUT IT HERE.
Anyway, Whiskey Rabbi. Get it in yer ears.
Sometimes YouTube recommendations are exactly what I need that day.
This. Is. Incredible.
Watch all the way through, he makes it elegant, effortless. And that solo/breakout bit…
Here we have Berner’s first album proper, and it’s chock full of greatness as it hails apocalyptic thinking. Check out the storytelling and beautiful duet of Clown & Bard, or the history lesson and incisive humour of Maginot Line. Every song here, including the traditional (with Geoff’s lyrics) Volcano God, We All Gotta Be A Prostitute Sometimes, and The Way That Girl Drinks Beer, A Settling Of Accounts… they’re all brilliant. Even better, much as I love when it’s just him and his accordion, these songs really benefit from more instrumentation too.
However, on this run-through of the album, the one song I was curious to revisit was Geoff’s rendition of Carmaig de Forest’s In The Year 2020 (who also appears on this track here). We all know what 2020 was really like and, from 2003, the song pretty much nails it, more or less. Holy hell.
Of course I’m gonna recommend this. We love Geoff Berner here at the KMA.
If you only click on one video, make it this one:
And now we enter the world of Canadian musician/novelist Geoff Berner, an accordion-playing, political, brilliant punk folk artist.
First up is this amazing six-song EP from 2000. The title track (which I just now discovered has been covered by the Be Good Tanyas) is achingly real and beautiful. Ramble through these songs (even the hidden track!) and you’ll quickly realize you’re listening to well-crafted, intelligent and often humourous poetic true-to-life missives from a man who definitely deserves your attention.
Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique; Dukas: The Sorcerer’s Apprentice; Mussorgsky: Night On Bald Mountain; Eugene Ormandy
This disc contains works by three composers: Hector Berlioz, Paul Dukas, and Modest Mussorgsky, all as conducted by Eugene Ormandy and played by the Philadelphia Orchestra.
It’s is one of those classical discs you’d find in a $5 bin in the 90s (this was released in 1990), on Sony Classical under a series called Essential Classics. You can still get copies on Discogs for $3.
But don’t be thrown by low price or, perhaps even, names you haven’t heard. This is some heady stuff, and there’s a thread through them all. See if you can spot it:
Berlioz is known for his Symphonie Fantastique: “Leonard Bernstein described the symphony as the first musical expedition into psychedelia because of its hallucinatory and dream-like nature, and because history suggests Berlioz composed at least a portion of it under the influence of opium. According to Bernstein, “Berlioz tells it like it is. You take a trip, you wind up screaming at your own funeral.” (Wiki)
Meanwhile, Dukas’ The Sorcerer’s Apprentice “is a symphonic poem by the French composer Paul Dukas, completed in 1897. Subtitled “Scherzo after a ballad by Goethe”, the piece was based on Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s 1797 poem of the same name. By far the most performed and recorded of Dukas’s works, its notable appearance in the Walt Disney 1940 animated film Fantasia has led to the piece becoming widely known to audiences outside the classical concert hall.” (Wiki)
And finally, but not least, is Mussorgsky’s Night On Bald Mountain, is “also known as Night on the Bare Mountain, is a series of compositions by Modest Mussorgsky (1839–1881). Inspired by Russian literary works and legend, Mussorgsky composed a “musical picture”, St. John’s Eve on Bald Mountain… on the theme of a Witches’ Sabbath occurring on St. John’s Eve, which he completed on that very night, 23 June 1867. Together with Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s Sadko (1867), it is one of the first tone poems by a Russian composer.” (Wiki)
So, did you guess the common thread? That’s right, the theme of these Romantic orchestral works is “…the ironically exaggerated, the macabre, the grotesque and ghostly.” (from the liner notes). Magic, emotion, and the supernatural run through these pieces, and listening to this disc top to bottom is one hell of a ride.
Next time you’re digging through the discount bins, you’d do well to not skip this one!
I love this music. I thought I had all the albums, but it turns out all that’s here is this hits set. Oversiiiight! I’ll have my eyes peeled if I can ever get back into the world…
Real CanCon here, folks, tracks from the soundtrack to our youth on the radio, from the tradition of Mellencamp, Springsteen and Young, but with their own twists to it too. Something about their sound just feels like home.
So many strong original songs on this hits collection, full-stop, and there are even covers of the Stones’ Dead Flowers (straight up) and AC/DC’s U Shook Me All Night Long (sic) (as a slow acoustic ballad!) tacked on at the end.
Something to live for, indeed!
And now we come to the 1963 motherload. All 9 symphonies. Deutsche Grammophon. Herbert Von Karajan. The Berliner Philharmoniker. Oh yes.
Sure, it’s the second time this cycle was recorded, and not the last, but it’s the one I choose for play every time. Read about it all HERE.
I own the 8LP boxed set.
My lovely wife owns the 5CD boxed set.
This collection contains whole worlds of music: powerful, confident, and beautiful unto themselves. You don’t need me to tell you about how any of it sounds, it’s all in the first lines of this post, and you know all this music anyway.
Did I listen to all 9 symphonies for this series? Hell yes I did. Do I play this often? Hell yes I do. Should you have this in your collection? Hell yes you should.
YouTube provides a true public service by offering the whole set, in 38 videos, here:
New GBV in the mail today, and my first New Release of 2021!
It’s a 13 minute, 6 song EP. These songs are epic, veering from punk edge to a proggy thread here and there, then on to a classic rock tinged with the Nuggets boxed set on others. In other words, yet another great release from Pollard et al., may they continue to prolifically make records forever.
What a beautiful day.
Tracks: Hobson’s Beef / Gear Ballon Mousetrap / Moon Camera / School School / Funnel Cake Museum / Heaven Beats Iowa
Here, try a couple out:
Hey, here’s one that isn’t Von Karajan! This LP was still sealed when I got it at the thrift shoppe. Imagine never opening this. Their loss and my gain.
Epic, engaging, intricate, beautiful. Pick your adjectives (you’ll need many)! Sometimes, classical music (particularly if it’s not well done), can just sort of become a wash, notes crashing into your ear without purpose or, worse, becoming background noise. This LP, though, holds your attention with clear, distinct passages held together by strong themes. Gorgeous!
Pollini recorded this twice for Deutsche Grammophone, this being the first:
“The Piano Concerto No. 5 in E♭ major, Op. 73, by Ludwig van Beethoven, popularly known as the Emperor Concerto, was his last completed piano concerto. It was written between 1809 and 1811 in Vienna, and was dedicated to Archduke Rudolf, Beethoven’s patron and pupil. The first performance took place on 13 January 1811 at the Palace of Prince Joseph Lobkowitz in Vienna, with Archduke Rudolf as the soloist, followed by a public concert on 28 November 1811 at the Gewandhaus in Leipzig under conductor Johann Philipp Christian Schulz, the soloist being Friedrich Schneider. On 12 February 1812, Carl Czerny, another student of Beethoven’s, gave the Vienna debut of this work.
The epithet of Emperor for this concerto was not Beethoven’s own but was coined by Johann Baptist Cramer, the English publisher of the concerto.”
“Maurizio Pollini recorded the five piano concertos twice for Deutsche Grammophon. First with Karl Böhm and Eugen Jochum (in the first two concertos) and the Vienna Philharmonic and later with Claudio Abbado and the Berlin Philharmonic.”
Once again, Beethoven on Deutsche Grammophon, #138 805, and the Berliner Philharmoniker conducted by Herbert Von Karajan.
I often enough have bits of this symphony in my head, as I rattle around my days, and it never fails to uplift me.
So, here we have Beethoven’s 6th Symphony in F major, which you’ve heard in Disney’s Fantasia, the Simpsons, and Spongebob.
The Pastoral Symphony has 5 movements (rather than the typical 4):
1. Allegro ma non troppo (Awakening of cheerful feelings on arrival in the countryside) [F major]
2. Andante molto mosso (Scene by the brook) [Bb major]
3. Allegro (Merry gathering of country folk) [F major]
4. Thunder, Storm [F major]
5. Shepherd’s song. Cheerful and thankful feelings after the storm [F major]
“Beethoven was a lover of nature who spent a great deal of his time on walks in the country. He frequently left Vienna to work in rural locations. The composer said that the Sixth Symphony is “more the expression of feeling than painting”, a point underlined by the title of the first movement.
The first sketches of the Pastoral Symphony appeared in 1802. It was composed simultaneously with Beethoven’s more famous—and fierier—Fifth Symphony. Both symphonies were premiered in a long and under-rehearsed concert in the Theater an der Wien in Vienna on 22 December 1808.
Frank A. D’Accone suggested that Beethoven borrowed the programmatic ideas (a shepherd’s pipe, birds singing, streams flowing, and a thunderstorm) for his five-movement narrative layout from Le Portrait musical de la Nature ou Grande Symphonie, which was composed by Justin Heinrich Knecht (1752–1817) in 1784.” (Wiki)
Brilliant, beautiful. You can’t help but feel happy listening to this.
I don’t usually cover classical music, even though I do listen to it often enough. Generally speaking, I just know what I like when I hear it, but I couldn’t give you conductor/symphonic reasons as to why. It’s just pure visceral response, for me. That said, over time I have come to generally trust Deutsche Grammophon’s releases, and Herbert Von Karajan’s treatments at the helm of the Berliner Philharmoniker.
You probably flip past these records in your local thrift store bins, but I say don’t be so quick to dismiss them. There’s pure gold in these grooves.
So here we have an LP of Symphony Nr. 3 E flat Major, op.55 (Eroica), on Deutsche Grammophon 138 802, with the Berliner Philharmoniker conducted by Herbet Von Karajan.
Side A: 1. Allegro con brio 2. Marcia funebre: Adagio assai
Side B: 3. Allegro Vivace 4. Finale: Allegro molto – Poco Andante – Presto
There’s a ton of interesting reading on the history HERE. Did you know Beethoven originally dedicated this symphony to Napoleon Bonaparte, but withdrew that dedication as it might affect his composer’s fee?
And here’s some smarter writing than I could ever manage:
“The work is a milestone work in classical music; it is twice as long as the symphonies of Joseph Haydn and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – the first movement is almost as long as a Classical symphony (with repetition of the exposition). Thematically, it covers more emotional ground than Beethoven’s earlier symphonies, and thus marks a key milestone in the transition between Classicism and Romanticism that would define Western art music in the early decades of the nineteenth century.
The second movement especially displays a great emotional range, from the misery of the funeral march theme, to the relative solace of happier, major-key episodes. The finale displays a similar emotional range, and is given a thematic importance then unheard of. In earlier symphonies, the finale was a quick and breezy conclusion; here, the finale is a lengthy set of variations and a fugue.” (Wiki)
Anyway, I loved it. I can put these works on and just let them play. Invariably, my mind is swept off into the music and held there, happily.
You’ll know it when you hear it:
Since this was my Best Album Of 2020, it makes sense I ought to review it here, eh?
I love Pearl Jam, and any new studio record (this is their 11th) is an instant purchase for me. I haven’t kept up with all the live stuff (who could?) but an album of new songs, seven years after the last record? Hell yeah.
Sure, it ‘sounds like Pearl Jam,’ so if you’re dismissive of them at all, or not a fan, nothing here will excite you (probably), but if you’ve read this far into this post you’re not that silly person anyway. You’re here for the meat on the bone, and there’s a (giga)ton of it on this record.
Experience has made them masters of their sound, and Pearl Jam craft yet another vital record of hard-hitting, thoughtful, excellent songs. Better, they’re growing, changing, becoming… something their detractors won’t take the time to recognize. New sounds, instruments, different looks meld well with their template. Nothing stale here, and all three of their main song styles are here – hard rockers that edge towards punk, mid-tempo rockers that radio should never stop playing, and sweet slower tracks that pull you in and hold you close. There are moments that make you want to break stuff as you thrash around, others that’ll unite the crowd (if concerts can ever happen again), and there are times when it feels like they’re playing just for you, and you want to protect that precious moment at all costs.
Of course, Eddie’s lyrics are contemporary, taking on the recently-former President of the US and other issues, but there’s something else here too… of course, it’s an honest, overall sense and reflection of our society’s general unrest/malaise/simmering violence/fear stew. With a finger on the pulse, Pearl Jam sends us a wake-up call. Again.
Turns out, this was the album we all needed in one hell of a shitty year.
I only own this one Captain Beefheart LP. I know, I know. Where’s my copy of Trout Mask Replica (this album’s predecessor)? Etc. I’ll get there. Still, though, this record is amazing. There’s nothing quite like Captain Beefheart (Don Van Vliet). If you’ve heard him, you know exactly what I mean.
His sound experiment/songs are made up of brilliant ideas, woven into textures of creativity and good humour with pointed intelligence and awareness acting as the glue, a nudge and a wink. It’s bluesy, it’s deceptively amateurish-sounding, as though the wheels are gonna fall off any moment, and his lyrics/poetry are delivered through the filter of a mashup of Tom Waits and Frank Zappa.
“The follow-up to Trout Mask Replica (1969), it is regarded by some critics and listeners as superior, and was Van Vliet’s favorite. Van Vliet said that the title was an encouragement to “get rid of the labels”, and to evaluate things according to their merits rather than according to superficial labels (or “decals”).” (Wiki)
Either you know him or you don’t. If not, you should.
Hear the whole record here:
I don’t envy anyone the task of compiling a Hits of any great artist. Especially with this man, who is so hard to pin down into one style or direction. This set could easily be four discs, so this single disc is what it is – a good primer for those interested in getting just a taste of Beck’s excellence. It’s also fantastic, of course.
These 14 songs span Beck’s career, from the Yardbirds through his stuff with Ronnie Wood and Rod Stewart, and on into his long, illustrious solo career. Vernon Reid write the liner notes, too.
Tracks: The Pump / People Get Ready (w. Rod Stewart) / Freeway Jam / Shapes Of Things / Where Were You (w. Terry Bozzio & Tony Hymas) / Beck’s Bolero / Going Down / Jailhouse Rock / Goodbye Pork Pie Hat / Blue Wind / Plynth (Water Down The Drain) / Two Rivers (w. Terry Bozzio & Tony Hymas) / Scatterbrain / She’s A Woman
Hear it here:
My next Jeff Beck LP comes from 1985. It’s awesome (imagine that), and alot of it is definitely of its time, sound-wise. Ah, the 80s. He’s so inventive on the guitar, though, so expressive.
Info for those who wanna know: “Two singles also charted, the first being a reunion with singer Rod Stewart (from the Jeff Beck Group) for a cover of “People Get Ready” by Curtis Mayfield/The Impressions, which reached No. 5 on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock and No. 48 on the Hot 100, as well as the top 40 in four other countries. The second single, “Gets Us All in the End”, reached No. 20 on Mainstream Rock. The instrumental “Escape” went on to win the award for Best Rock Instrumental Performance at the 1986 Grammys, which was to be Beck’s first of many such awards.”
The album is unique for Beck in that it is composed mainly of songs with vocals, save for two instrumentals in the form of “Escape” and “You Know, We Know”, written by his longtime collaborators Jan Hammer and Tony Hymas respectively. Designed to be a foray into pop music in order to capitalise on that sound at the time, Flash was produced by Nile Rodgers for that reason. Such was the desire by the record company to score a hit album, Beck uncharacteristically found himself singing on “Get Workin'” and “Night After Night”, at the insistence of Rodgers. “Ambitious” and “People Get Ready” feature a rare instance of Beck playing a Jackson Soloist rather than his usual Fender Stratocaster. Despite its success, he has since expressed his disdain for the album, calling it a “record company goof” and “a very sad sort of time” for him.”
Hear the whole album:
Now we jump to 1980 for another great record. My LP copy is wonderful! Tired of Jeff Beck yet? I’m not! This one goes out to the edges to see what’s there, and it’s fascinating. Check out the blistering Space Boogie! Wow!
“The album showcases Beck’s stylistic shift towards instrumental rock whilst largely retaining the jazz fusion elements of his two previous releases, Blow by Blow (1975) and Wired (1976). “Star Cycle” was used for a number of years as the theme song for both Mid-South Wrestling in the United States and the British music programme The Tube; “The Pump” was featured in the 1983 film Risky Business; “Too Much to Lose” is an instrumental cover of a song composed by keyboardist Jan Hammer that was originally featured on the Jan Hammer Group’s 1977 album Melodies.” (Wiki)
Hear the whole record here:
Here’s another Beck masterpiece, this time with the Jan Hammer Group, live on stage. What a ride! Sure, some of it is a quite bit out there, and some of it doesn’t quite work, and a bit of the vocals may not be perfect but, you know what? They were fully invested, and operating and communicating on a level most of us can’t even comprehend, and there’s so much here to love. It is a masterpiece in its own right!
“No precise dates and locations are given for the live recordings. The tour began in June 1976 and ended in February 1977, with 117 shows performed. A&R man Tom Werman suggested that the date at the Astor Theater in Reading, PA (31 August 1976) yielded the best performances, and was going to provide the bulk of the album at the time of his involvement in the project. Beck mixed this along with other recordings at Allen Toussaint’s studio in New Orleans. Then Jan Hammer decided to mix the album himself, and did so with Dennis Weinreich at Scorpio Sound Studios in London, England. The stereo spectrum of this album duplicates the stage set-up with guitar positioned center right, keyboards center left, violin right and drums and bass center.” (Wiki)
- Jeff Beck – guitar, bass guitar, special effects
The Jan Hammer Group
- Jan Hammer – Moog, Oberheim and Freeman string symphonizer synthesizers, electric piano, timbales; lead vocal on “Earth (Still Our Only Home)”
- Tony “Thunder” Smith – drums; lead vocal on “Full Moon Boogie”
- Fernando Saunders – bass, harmony vocals; rhythm guitar on “She’s A Woman”
- Steve Kindler – violin; string synthesizer on “Darkness”; rhythm guitar on “Blue Wind”
Here’s an all-timer for me. I own two LP copies and a CD.
So much to love here, I can hear the whole record in my head. It sounds so lovely and warm on LP. Paired with Blow By Blow, these are a one-two instrumental punch that any musician would find tough to beat. The playing is thoughtful, tasteful, and groove-ful. And that guitar tone. OMG.
“Of the album tracks, four are originals by Narada Michael Walden and one by Jan Hammer. Max Middleton contributed the homage to Led Zeppelin, “Led Boots”, and Beck chose to interpret the Charles Mingus ode to saxophonist Lester Young, “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat”, from the classic 1959 jazz album Mingus Ah Um. These last two tracks have been long-time staples of Beck’s performance repertoire.” (Wiki)
I know you have this one. If you haven’t, well, you should!
Check out the whole thing here:
Of course, the Hall Of Fame title track is an old Yardbirds song, which some call the first-ever psychedelic rock song (discuss). Beck re-did it for his Truth album (not covered here because I don’t have it at the moment, oversiiiiight).
This 1975 compilation LP is cheap online (it was also availble on 8-track!), but worth way more in content. It’s a great listen. Shame my copy here has a tatty cover (the LP is fine).
Side A: Shapes Of Things / What Do You Want? (Inst.) / New York City Blues / Someone To Love / For R.S.G.
Side B: Mr. You’re A Better Man Than I / Someone To Love (Inst.) / I Ain’t Got You / I Ain’t Done Wrong
I love my old lovely copy of this 1975 LP.
This is a big quote but it saves me re-writing it to try to sound like I knew all of this:
“After the dissolution of the power trio Beck, Bogert & Appice (BBA) in spring 1974, Beck took time for session work with other groups. In December, a half-hearted “audition” for The Rolling Stones took place, Beck jamming blues with the band for one day, before realising their musical styles were not compatible.
During this period, Beck decided to record an all-instrumental album, bringing back keyboardist Max Middleton from the second Jeff Beck Group. He hired George Martin to produce after hearing his work with the Mahavishnu Orchestra’s 1974 album Apocalypse. According to Carmine Appice, who played with Beck in BBA, he was involved in the writing and recording process of Blow by Blow but his parts were edited out after a dispute with Beck’s management. The fourth key contributor to Blow by Blow after Beck, Middleton, and Martin was Stevie Wonder, who gave Beck his songs “Cause We’ve Ended as Lovers” and “Thelonius”, with Wonder playing clavinet on the latter uncredited. The former song appeared on Wonder’s 1974 album Stevie Wonder Presents: Syreeta, made with then-wife Syreeta Wright, while Wonder never recorded “Thelonius” himself. A cover of the Beatles song “She’s a Woman” was selected, as well as the composition “Diamond Dust” by Bernie Holland of the group Hummingbird consisting of musicians from the second Beck Group. The other five tracks were band originals with Beck and Middleton the main writers, and the last track on each side featured string arrangements by Martin. Beck dedicated “Cause We’ve Ended as Lovers” to fellow guitarist Roy Buchanan, with an acknowledgement to Wonder.” (Wiki)
For me, this is an excellent record, one where you can just immerse yourself in the music. It is still his highest-charting album, for all the good reasons!
Hear the whole thing for yourself!
And now it’s time for this UK/US supergroup’s 1973 LP called Beck, Bogert & Appice. Jeff Beck is joined by Tim Bogert and Carmine Appice (both previously in Vanilla Fudge and Cactus). This power trio made one hell of a great-listening, bluesy rockin’ record (with lovely balladry too). Their cover of Stevie Wonder’s Supersition and Curtis Mayfield’s I’m So Proud are great too.
I could go through track by track, but instead… yeah, you just need to own this one. Brilliant!
“Jeff Beck Group is the fourth and final studio album by the Jeff Beck Group and the second album with the line up of Jeff Beck, Bobby Tench, Clive Chaman, Max Middleton and Cozy Powell. The album was produced by Steve Cropper and often referred to as the Orange Album, because of the orange which appears prominently at the top of the front cover… they also recorded five cover songs for this album, including a new version of Ashford & Simpson’s “I Can’t Give Back the Love I Feel for You” and Carl Perkins’s Sun Records release, “Glad All Over” (1957). The Cropper and Beck collaboration “Sugar Cane” was one of several songs written whilst in the studio.” (Wiki)
Like the last record, it met with mixed reviews, mostly negative, but once again I liked it a bunch. I always try to appreciate the time and care put into a record, imagine the band in the studio getting it how they wanted it. And this didn’t miss for me, not at all!
Once again on original LP, my copy here is awesome. Check it out: “Rough and Ready is the third studio album by the Jeff Beck Group and the first of two by the second Jeff Beck Group. Released in 1971 by Epic Records, it featured more of a jazz, soul and R&B edge to counter Beck’s lead guitar. As a songwriter, Beck contributed more pieces to Rough and Ready than he had before, or ever would again. Beck enlisted Bobby Tench as vocalist and it is also the first time keyboardist Max Middleton is heard. Other members of this line up are drummer Cozy Powell and bassist Clive Chaman.”
Some folks thought it was indulgent twaddle, with his playing far superior to the songs supporting it, but I think it’s solid stuff. To each their own, I guess, but it’s more than alright by me, Jeff!
And now we switch to the gorgeous guitar wizardry of Jeff Beck. There’s something about these great guitar players… If you’ve ever picked up the instrument and tried to play, you know they are on a level you can’t even imagine, so much feel and expression. Jeff Beck is one of those players.
I don’t have anywhere near all of his albums, but Truth, the first solo album (prior to Beck-Ola) is one I know I need to get! I did have a used copy here, on LP, but it was not playable. Gah.
What can I say about this record other than it’s a pure classic? My old LP copy sounds just right, warm and perfect. Even the title is a play on the Rock-Ola jukebox name, the same kind my Mom had when we were kids. The music is as classic blues rock as you can get. And the players here! Not only do you get Jeff Beck, but Rod Stewart on vocals, Nicky Hopkins and Ronnie Wood (heard of the Stones?) on keys and bass guitar (!), respectively, and Tony Newman (played with a ton, including Bowie, Harrison, Clapton, on many others) on drums. Talk about an all-star cast. Man, Ronnie on that bass, stellar.
You really need to read THIS for a short history – imagine them at Woodstock! – but the Faces are an acceptable alternative by every measure, eh?
To say I love this good rockin’, good lovin’ album is an understatement. They get more done in this half hour play-length than some bands accomplish their whole career.
Here’s where Beck’s mash-up of styles and sounds took the success of Loser and won him widespread acceptance and . I mean, I heard Devil’s Haircut over the tinny speakers at my work. Hilarious to watch the customers wonder at the screaming in the ending part… anyway. Add in Where It’s At, The New Pollution, Sissyneck, and Jack-Ass (as singles) and it’s all there. Probably my favourite is Lord Only Knows, though. Novacane got a lot of play in my time, it was on a compilation CD I got at Edenfest in the 90s even though he didn’t perform at that festival. But the whole album hangs together well, and it’s probably his most popular record. It makes all kinds of Best Albums lists, not just of the 90s.
And that’s the end of the Beck, for me. I know he’s grown, changed, become more… I’ve owned others of his albums – I remember liking Sea Change well enough, and Midnight Vultures had some fun tracks. But for some reason, they don’t tend to stick around as long. And so it goes.
Beck’s third album of 1994, and fifth release overall. While I’d say I like a collection of tracks from all three 1994 albums (I could make one kick-ass record from them), this is probably my favourite full-album listen of the three.
Info, for those who wanna know: “It was recorded prior to the release of Mellow Gold, but was not released until after that album had met critical and commercial success. One Foot in the Grave shows a strong lo-fi and folk influence, and features several songs that are interpolations or covers of songs popularized by artists like Skip James and The Carter Family.
One Foot in the Grave features production, songwriting, and backing vocal assistance by Calvin Johnson, founder of K Records and Beat Happening. It also features performances by Built to Spill members James Bertram and Scott Plouf, Love as Laughter’s Sam Jayne, as well as The Presidents of the United States of America frontman Chris Ballew.” (Wiki)
Do you ever drive yourself crazy? Well, I drive myself crazy a lot.
I was jonesing for some John Mayall & The Blues Breakers with Eric Clapton (as you do). You know, the Beano album. I needed that guitar sound in my ears (as you do).
But I checked my MP3 folder, and I didn’t have it. Huh. So, I checked my .txt list and I didn’t have it, which was odd to me. I was sure I did have it here. So, knowing I wanted an actual copy, I ordered it from Mike’s old store for $5.99, because that’s a bloody great deal. I also played it, intermittently, on YouTube while I waited for it to arrive.
It arrived. I ripped it to MP3 for the collection, then I stuck the CD in the player and heard those sweet, sweet sounds again, and my craving was fully sated.
Then I went to put the CD in the shelves… and there sat a copy of the album already.
One good thing about my going through everything here, I suppose, is that I can update my list, in real time, as I go. But it’ll be years (at my current rate) before I get to ‘M,’ so all this experience does is point out that my system is fallible. Whenever it arrived here, I didn’t add it to my .txt list, and I didn’t rip it to MP3.
I also never got off my ass and checked the shelves for the disc, despite being sure I had it. As you’d imagine a person would do.
I guess now I have a copy for the house and a copy for the car, so that’s a win!
Point Of Order: This should have come before Mellow Gold (yesterday), even though they were released in the same year.
1994 was a busy year for Beck, seeing the release of three albums. Don’t be thrown by the title of this one, it’s a great record.
I was trying to think of how best to describe it, when Wiki had me covered: “Stereopathetic Soulmanure is the second studio album by American musician Beck. It was released on February 22, 1994, by Flipside. The album shows a strong folk influence, consisting of home recordings, studio recordings, live performances, field recordings, sound collages, and abstract noise experiments.
A lo-fi recording of largely anti-commercial nature, Stereopathetic Soulmanure is Beck’s third official recording, the first two being Golden Feelings and A Western Harvest Field by Moonlight.”
Precisely! I love this album, moreso than Mellow Gold. I always felt Beck was at his best being his weird self but more stripped down, bluesy acoustic tracks etc. Also, any album with a track called Rollins Power Sauce, no matter how it sounds, is alright in my books! Recommended!
Thanks to some thoughtful posts from Kevin, I realized I could probably make a bit more time to watch and read than I have been, on top of everything else in my day. So, under the Aaron tab at the top of the page, I’m simply going to list things to see how it goes.
You’ll find two drop down menus for this tab, Movies/TV, and Books.
Movies/TV: At this point, any movies I watch take me days, since I only watch while I’m riding the stationary bike for 30 minutes each morning. TV shows are typically one episode per night, as that’s about as long as my lovely wife and I can remain awake after the kids have gone to bed and before we, too, must rest.
Books: I usually have a book on the go, so whenever I finish one, I’ll drop it here on the list.
For both lists, the latest item will always be at the top of the list, to save scrolling, so under each year, items will appear in reverse chronological order.
I also created a tab for James (called JAMES, natch), in case he wants to add any other pages under his own name in the future!
There was also a bit of clean-up that was needed in our header bar, so I went ahead and did that. I placed James’ “bands james has seen” list under JAMES, and generally tidied up the rest. The MASTER GRAIL LIST remains an important part of this complete KMA breakfast, and is ready to be updated should any of you require it.
Now, this takes me back to first year of university. Loser was everywhere, a drinking song for the girls on my sister floor in residence. Of course, it was gibberish but it was catchy and, when you’re drinking, catchy gibberish is fun. The whole album is kind of like that. It can not hit you at all, or not leave your brain for days.
Beck himself, in a 1994 interview with Rolling Stone magazine, said: “The whole concept of Mellow Gold is that it’s like a satanic K-tel record that’s been found in a trash dumpster, quite matter-of-factly. A few people have molested it and slept with it and half-swallowed it before spitting it out. Someone played poker with it, someone tried to smoke it. Then the record was taken to Morocco and covered with hummus and tabouli. Then it was flown back to a convention of water-skiers, who skied on it and played Frisbee with it. Then the record was put on the turntable, and the original K-Tel album had reached a whole new level. I was just taking that whole Freedom Rock feeling, you understand.”
So is it just crap that got lucky? Or is it self-aware, targeted musical skill with an agenda, only masquerading as nonsense? Am I fond of this record simply because of the formative time and place in which I first heard it? Pretty much yes, to all three.