Wednesday, March 23, 2011

15 Recordings

Since I'm a lazy sot with no new thoughts, here's a re-run. The reason you might be interested in reading it again are two-fold.

1 - Since it was last published, many of you have come to know the author on a more intimate basis. This installment was written by Cricket. When it was first here, he didn't have his own blog and he was allowing me to occasionally publish his writings under a different pseudonym - Donatello. If you've now been reading his stuff on a regular basis, you might enjoy hearing his thoughts on music.

2 - Having collaborated with Cricket and others on HOWL, you might be interested in knowing what sorts of musical background made that song come about (either because you consider it a work of stunning genius or you consider it a perfect reason to put me in a rubber room, but either way our backgrounds might prove instructive.)

3 - Hah! There's a third reason! Bet you didn't expect that when I said "two-fold". Anyway, some of you did posts on the same subject matter, following the original publication of our posts concerning it, and this will give you a reason to be lazy (like me) and do a re-run of your own. Or, if this is entirely new to you, I'm giving you an idea for a post and you're welcome.

4 - And I promise there won't be a 5. It gives me the opportunity to re-publish my own piece about 15 recordings, for all of the same reasons given above, and I'll do so tomorrow.

So, without further ado (since the above should be enough ado to last you until the Pittsburgh Pirates win the World Series), here you go.


OK. Last week, I promised you a different take on the "15 Books" postings that Donatello and I did. Here it is.

15 Recordings.

Now, I suppose if you're of a bizarre twist of mind, it could be 15 recordings of wild birds, washing machines, and dogs barking. Or, if you're with the FBI, maybe your 15 favorite wire-tapped telephone conversations. What Donatello has in mind, however (and it is his brainchild) are 15 recordings that... well, I'll just shut up now and let his own words give you the gist of it.

I'll be back tomorrow with my 15 recordings, but right now... Heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeere's Donatello!


Don't neglect your musical roots. - Mick Goodrick

Hey Jim -

Along the lines of 15 Books, I present you with these 15 albums. Your mission, should you choose to accept it: complete your own list.

When I started making my list of 15 books, I found it surprisingly difficult. It's hard to get down to 15. Even so, I had to add a bunch of honorable mentions. It was a worthwhile exercise, though. I'm pretty sure I learned something, though I'm not entirely sure what the lesson is yet. Coming up with 15 albums was similarly revealing. I guess the lesson might have something to do with clarifying what is really important to me, but that's the best I can do right now.

Now these albums are emphatically not the 15 greatest albums of all time. While that's also an interesting question, that's not what I had in mind. These are more like the 15 albums I'd have to take to a desert island with me... the ones I don't think I could go without. Maybe, my 15 favorites of all my favorites.

Some things I learned compiling this list: 1978 seems to be a very important year in my musical development. Lots of my favorite albums were released right around then. Also, I think music is like smell, just hearing a certain song can conjure all sorts of unexpected memories: who I was with, what I was doing, how I felt about my life at a given time. You don't even realize the things you remember 'til something brings them back.

I guess I also learned that the sound of a distorted guitar is very close to the core of my being. It resonates in my soul. I like all kinds of music and my life would be diminished if I could never again hear John Coltrane, or Sonny Rollins, or Earl Scruggs, or Bach, or any number of musicians I love. Still, in getting down to 15... well, I don't know. Something's got to give.

The albums I chose are the ones that still make me smile as much today as when I first heard them. Ones that make me want to turn up the stereo to full volume and run around the house playing air guitar, despite all my years at NEC. I guess I still love the anti-intellectual experience of music. I just like how it makes me feel when I hear that noise. I'm sure you can relate. Well, anyway, THE LIST:

Abbey Road, The Beatles

Probably my favorite band. Also, not only is this my favorite Beatle album, I think it's arguably both their best and the greatest rock recording ever. It's like a diamond that still reveals new aspects of itself from different angles and under different conditions. While a lot can be said for Sgt. Pepper, or Revolver, I think this one album distills the essence of the Beatles into a thirty-five minute package. They have lots of great recordings, but I would say this is the only one you need.

KISS Alive! and KISS Alive II, KISS

These shouldn't surprise you. Again, I think these are the only KISS albums anyone needs. Everything you need to know about KISS is right here. While I think Alive! is the better album, Alive II will always have a special place in my heart. Some critics complain that these albums were heavily overdubbed in the studio, to which I reply: so what? Whoever said a live album must be a faithful record of a given concert? The idea is often to create the experience of a perfect concert. I've seen these guys several times and it was always a great show.

Ace Frehley

The first solo album from 1978. One of the first CDs I bought when I finally made the switch from vinyl. I still remember shoplifting my original copy, on 8-track for Lord's sake, when it came out. I still have it. Ace would be proud, I'm sure. Rip It Out is one of the hardest rocking songs ever.

Never Mind The Bollocks, Here's The Sex Pistols, The Sex Pistols

I can still remember the look on my parents' and grandparents' faces when the local news did a spot on these guys, again, in 1978. As their jaws hit the floor I thought: Yep, this sounds like something for me. Where can I get this? The album didn't disappoint. Critics say they were produced like The Monkees and that punk started before them. This may be somewhat true, but again: so? Punk started for me with The Sex Pistols. I love The Ramones, but there's something about the angry snarl of Johnny Rotten. Was it all a put-on? Who cares. It wasn't a put-on for us. The Pistols gave a generation of city punks music to go out and vandalize by, for which I'm grateful.

George Harrison

His self-titled release from 1979. In a way, the polar opposite of Bollocks, music to be happy and relax to, for when you want to feel that all's right with the world. Although, with a nod to punk, I stole my first copy of this as well. Hey, money was tight, you know? Of course, I later paid $40 for a CD copy when it was out of print. I like it that much.

We Want Miles, Miles Davis

There's no way I could live without the sound of Miles' horn. Nope. This is my personal favorite album. Not his best, mind, but my favorite. I remember riding my bike across town, with money this time, to buy a copy of this. Amazing ensemble work with a loose, funky, stripped-down sound. For me, this one is indispensable.

Joe's Garage, Frank Zappa

A classic. If you think it's cheating to pick a triple-record set, Act 1 would do. This one's got everything you expect from Frank: humor, satire, and amazing musicianship. I can't describe it. It has to be heard. Apostrophe is my runner-up.

Infidels, Bob Dylan

Again, not his best, but my favorite. Mark Knopfler on guitar, Sly and Robbie on drums and bass. Classic Bob with a great backing band. Sweetheart Like You alone is worth the price of admission. Runner-up, the much-maligned Slow Train Coming. Disagree? Too bad, this is my list.

Wired, Jeff Beck

OK, Blow By Blow is arguably the better album, but this one has, for me, the air-guitar-in-your-underwear factor going for it. My Jr. High music director used to keep hundreds of albums in his office and would let me come down and listen during study halls. I saw this one, and I asked him if it was good. His response: Take that one home. Keep it. You need that album. He was right.

Elegant Gypsy, Al DiMeola

I got this for Christmas, maybe around 1980. I had asked for, I think, George Benson's Take Five. Apparently someone had placed a copy of this in the George Benson bin, which my sweet, well-intentioned mother purchased, oblivious to the photo of the obviously white guy on the cover. I think she was distracted by a big sticker that said: Guitar Player Magazine Album Of The Year Award, 1977! She figured, he likes guitar, this must be it. So anyway, I was, um, surprised to open it Christmas morning. After my initial "what the hell?", I was distracted by the sticker too. She offered to exchange it but there was no way I could let this out of the house without a listen. 35 minutes later I was sitting with my mouth wide open and the realization that I needed to go practice immediately.

Van Halen

The first release. Still holds up after all these years. Eddie gets a lot of notice for the tapping-thing, but he's really an amazing player all around. Runner-up: Fair Warning. Still love that one too. This is home, this is Mean Street.

Get Yer Ya-Yas Out, The Rolling Stones

No better introduction to the Stones. Loud, crunchy, mistakes-and-all performance. No more of the imitation Sgt. Pepper psychedelia, just flat out rock. Forget that We Love You crap, here's a punch in the nose. Ahhh, that's better.

Three Of A Perfect Pair, King Crimson

My favorite inversion of the band: Robert Fripp, Adrian Belew, Tony Levin, and Bill Bruford. An 80s release that doesn't sound it, which says a lot. Discipline gets the better reviews, but I like this one best. The three releases by this group, Discipline, Beat, and Perfect Pair, make a nice trilogy.

Back In Black, AC/DC

Though I wish Bon Scott had lived to make this album, I still think it's their best. Not only that, it's really pretty amazing that they managed to both replace their front-man and come out kicking ass on this. Runners-up: Let There Be Rock and Highway To Hell.

20 Honorable Mentions:

A Night At The Opera, Queen
Moving Pictures, Rush
Suzanne Vega
Lawn Boy, Phish
Toys In The Attic, Aerosmith
Dark Side Of The Moon, Pink Floyd
Agharta, Miles Davis
On The Corner, Miles Davis
The Bridge, Sonny Rollins
Deliverance, Eric Weissberg
Bach: Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin, Itzhak Perlman
Dire Straits
A Love Supreme, John Coltrane
Birds Of Fire, Mahavishnu Orchestra
Cats Under The Stars, Jerry Garcia
Don Juan's Reckless Daughter, Joni Mitchell
Live Rust, Neil Young
Layla, Derek And The Dominoes
Axis: Bold As Love, Jimi Hendrix

I could go on forever, so I'll just stop there. Obviously, I'm leaving out so much, but there it is. All right, gotta go. More later.

Your swell pal,

Donatello (that is, Cricket)


He is, indeed, my swell pal, and this idea is quite swell in and of itself. I'll give you my version tomorrow. See you then.


IT (aka Ivan Toblog) said...

Looking at the list(s) reminded me that I still have an album called Mrs Miller's Greatest Hits. There are even some tracks on Youtube... and even appears that copies are still available.

Suldog said...

IT - Mrs. Miller put out a record? I knew she had some small amount of fame, from being an audience member of (I believe) Steve Allen, but a recording contract? That's pretty cool. Does she actually sing?

Gaston Studio said...

I vote for Abbey Road as the very bestest!

IT (aka Ivan Toblog) said...

Yes, she actually sings. It's a full blown LP. You may have Mrs. Miller confused with Ms. Miller. Ms. Miller was older by about ten years.

Daryl said...

Mrs Miller was Jack Paar's groupie. Yes, I am that old. And I dont have any albums but Toonman does oh my does he ever and he's even older!

Michelle H. said...

Ah, a grand repost! I'll forego the usually gratification over such a writing and leave you... hehe... with a little ditty from an song from an artist that I know you would love waaaaayyy better than Deep Purple and Alice Cooper if they had gotten together and had a love child named Purple Alice.

Roxanne, you don't have to put on the red light
Those days are over
You don't have to sell your body to the night

Roxanne, you don't have to wear that dress tonight
Walk the streets for money
You don't care if it's wrong or if it's right

Roxanne, you don't have to put on the red light
Roxanne, you don't have to put on the red light
Put on the red light, put on the red light
Put on the red light, put on the red light
Put on the red light, oh

I loved you since I knew ya
I wouldn't talk down to ya
I have to tell you just how I feel
I won't share you with another boy
I know my mind is made up
So put away your make up
Told you once I won't tell you again it's a bad way

Roxanne, you don't have to put on the red light
Roxanne, you don't have to put on the red light
You don't have to put on the red light
Put on the red light, put on the red light

Craig said...

I should probably wait until your list is up, but I suspect that I share a bit more common ground with Cricket.

My music collection is nowhere near as large or as varied as either of yours; I would have the opposite problem - putting together a list as LONG as 15 that isn't just 'Everything the Beatles Ever Did' (and that doesn't get you to 15 by itself, anyway).

So I'll do what I always do, and just give a kind of impressionistic hodge-podge of some of my favorite stuff, and see how it slides down the wall. . . (in no particular order)

Abbey Road is, of course, a given. And can I chuckle a bit that your other two Beatles mentions would also be mine?

Band On the Run; is it OK for me to put a McCartney album on the same list as The Beatles? Honestly, I think this is a great album - not a single weak track on it. (I'd like to give a mention to Sir Paul's Ram, as well; I think it's a much better album than it gets credit for. . .)

Best of Dark Horse, George Harrison; are you picking up a trend here? I'd generally resist including a 'best-of' compilation in a list like this, but I found this one in a used-CD shop, and just found it irresistible.

And just a quick mention for John Lennon's Plastic Ono Band; love how simple and raw it is. . .

OK, I won't try your patience with any more Beatle or ex-Beatle stuff.

I love fingerstyle acoustic guitar music; three of my favorites -

Only, Tommy Emmanuel
LJ, Laurence Juber
Beyond Nature, Phil Keaggy

And some smooth jazz -

One on One, Bob James and Earl Klugh
Good King Bad, George Benson

And just a few more to round out the list with a few of my favorite groups -

Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme, Simon & Garfunkel
Cosmo's Factory, Creedence Clearwater Revival - just plain fun
Brain Salad Surgery, Emerson, Lake and Palmer - I love ELP's rock/classical synthesis

Sorry; I should probably have just done a post of my own. . . ;)

lime said...

it's always fun to read the lists other people generate. mine would be decidedly diffeent and part of me feels the need to do a different list for different decades. yeah, i'm weird that way. it's because i like a lot of stuff from the 60's but i am also a child of the 80's.

Clare Dunn said...

Good list.
Abbey road is a Given.
Add anything by Crosby, Stills, Nash and/or Young, and I'm there.

xoxoxo, cd

Chris@Knucklehead! said...

Outstanding list, and it's amazing to find another person (in addition to me) that enjoys both KISS and Miles Davis.

To Cricket-Donatello...

If you're a trumpet aficionado, might I also recommend Blue Mitchell's "Blue's Moods," Freddie Hubbard's "Red Clay," and anything by the Clifford Brown-Max Roach Quintet.


Hilary said...

A great list, Cricket. No wonder you keep coming up with great theme songs for my posts. ;)

Thanks for the repost, Suldog.

Moannie said...

I wuz here, ok? But no-one under forty would be interested in my top list.

Sadly, apart from Miles and the Beatles I know none of these.

But respect to you Cricket, any pal of Jim has to be okay.

Buck said...

Hah! There's a third reason! Bet you didn't expect that when I said "two-fold".

I just looked at this as a bonus, me bein' the incurable optimist and all. About which: bein' optimistic helps a lot in this corner o' the blogosphere.

I played along in the (near?) way-back but am too lazy to go lookin' for a link. Not that THAT would matter, anyhoo.

Barbara Shallue said...

Such diversity! I love it! Some of my favorites on here, but there's no way I could try to pick my favorites. Fun reading Cricket's though. Thanks for reposting!

I'm Jane said...

Where's the New Kids on the Block????

Cricket said...

This is hilarious. I was just thinking of this list yesterday as I transferred Three Of A Perfect Pair to my mp3. Lots of stuff from here already on it. I stand by my choices.

Knucklehead: Amen to Clifford Brown/Max Roach... the most absolutely smokin' version of What Is This Thing Called Love ever.

In a more recent vein, I think Terence Blanchard's Flow has a lot to offer.

Craig: My favorite solo picks other than GH

Lennon: Walls & Bridges
McCartney: Wings Over America
Ringo: Ringo