Sunday, February 9, 2014

Eight Further Favorite Albums

The Beatles - Rubber Soul

Cyberfriend Wim Oudijk's post and subsequent thread on Facebook ⒜ inspired me to compose a new "eight favorite albums" list after nearly two years, and ⒝ let me know that I had yet to include anything by the fabs. I think this last is because I was trying more to showcase my writing and display my eerily balanced love of musics mainstream and lesser known. I figured within the depths of my conscience that no one really needs to read anything more about the Beatles; they've heard and read it all. But, I think of the younger generation and wonder what they know about the fabs, even as a "Grammy Salute" airs on the network television in the next room. So, I pick a Beatles album to submit for this list, and it's a toss-up between this solid, varied songwriting showcase and the one that followed, Revolver.

"It's so fine; it's sunshine..."

Perry Leopold - Christian Lucifer

Acid folk at its finest. Of course, I'm a sucker for themes of subverting religion. Combine that with extensive lyricism (the lyrics are included in the liner notes and MUST be read) and drench it in lysergia, and we have a true, captivating listening "Journey".

"Eye am free
From the bondage
Eye am one
Within my kingdom..."

The Association - Birthday

Ever slightly psych-tinged harmony pop, and such fine harmony pop it is. Great, heavenly songs and sounds.

"I took off my watch and found I have all the time in the world..."

Ivy - Long Distance

Something a little newer here. This is pretty much pure pop music and production from 2001, with tinges of a vintage hip-hop sound and such wonderful dreamy French vocals. Looking at AMG to verify the year this came out, I have to disagree with the review, which dismisses this as "trendy". Some of the songwriting may be a little iffy, sure ("While We're in Love" comes to mind), but this is just so well produced — dreamy, melodic, poppy without being a clone of everything pop in the third millennium — everything I dig in an audio experience. The trumpet on some songs is a nice touch.

"At the edge of the ocean, we can start over again..."

The Firesign Theatre - I Think We're All Bozos on This Bus

Spoken word/counter-culture comedy, anyone? This trip to the Future from 1971 is unique. I suspect most people lack the facility to appreciate a work of art like this, but within the particular realm of spoken word that only Firesign Theatre occupy, they were at the top of their game here.

"We're glad you made it! Welcome to the Future!"

Kaleidoscope - Tangerine Dream

An inexplicable omission from my previous lists, and a staple of classic British pop-psychedelia. There's kind of a childlike storytelling to some of these songs, even when the subject turns to plane crashes or murder.

"And the king lived on his dreams — and died on them"

Gjallarhorn - Sjofn

Finnish folk music. Released in 2007. Heavenly vocals. So well done, and so good.

[This is where I usually include a quote from the album; sadly, I don't know the Finnish language enough to do so here.]

The Grateful Dead - American Beauty

Finally, for this "favorite albums" installment, I bring that truckin' home to the first album I ever knew by anybody, and an American beauty it is. Though best known for their decidedly self-indulgent live shows — legends in their own right — the Dead largely dispensed with jams for this album and concentrated on songwriting and great harmonies. They had taken a similar approach in their previous studio outing, "Workingman's Dead", which was a little folkier and maybe slightly country-tinged. As fine a collection of songs as that was, this 1970 release is as focused and "tight" as they got, and it is great. Anyone who would dismiss this album before they heard it, just because the Grateful Dead's name are on it, is a bloody fool and missing out on great stuff.

"When there was no dream of mine, you dreamed of me."

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