Posted tagged ‘CD albums’

Rock Music I Listen To At 68 – Dec. 29, 2019

December 29, 2019

Now that I’m retired, I play more music and actually listen to it.

We have a 5-CD player that shuffles the CDs and the tracks. I dig through my collection and find five albums that I think I’ll want to hear for awhile.

Then I sit back and listen to the random gifts from the player, and ruminate on why I like them.

As a side note, I’m looking forward to the Linda Ronstadt documentary special scheduled for New Year’s Day on CNN.  Like many young men of my time, I had a long-distance crush on this beautiful, elfin, charismatic singer.  I still play her songs too.

This time we have:

1) “Garden Party” and “Windfall” by Rick Nelson & The Stone Canyon Band
2) “Ruins” by First Aid Kit
3) “Love is Here” by Starsailor
4) “Too Much Fun: The Best of Commander Cody & His Lost Planet Airmen”
5) “Twelve” by Patti Smith

1) Garden Party and Windfall

This is a double album compilation on BGO Records, an English label, on one CD.  The original albums were recorded in 1972 and 1974.

51cbSDNs0PLI can remember as a kid seeing Ricky Nelson as the all-American teenager on the old (really old) TV show The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet.  That slice of suburban Americana dates back to the 1950s, and I probably saw the black and white sitcom in re-runs.  It featured the real-life couple of Ozzie and Harriet Nelson, and their real-life sons, Ricky and David.

Ricky Nelson went on to stardom as a singing teenage heartthrob in the 1950s and 60s, in the style of Elvis Presley.  That phase of his musical career is of no interest to me.

But when his song Garden Party came out in 1972 on the radio, the rueful honesty of it made me listen.  By this time, he was performing as Rick Nelson and The Stone Canyon Band.  The song apparently chronicles a rock ‘n’ roll revival concert at Madison Square Garden in 1971 where he was booed after playing a country version of a Rolling Stones tune rather than another of his old pop songs.  (I imagined a smaller actual garden party when I first heard it, but the sentiment still came across.)

The song’s memorable lines he wrote are of course:

“But it’s all right now, I learned my lesson well
You see, you can’t please everyone, so you got to please yourself.”

The songs on these two albums could be best described as country rock, with often more rock than country.  They actually fit in well with Linda Ronstadt’s music, and bands like the Eagles.

On “Garden City”, both I’m Talking About You which even gets a little jazzy and A Flower Opens Gently By appeal to me a lot.  On “Windfall”, I like the rocking Someone to Love, Evil Woman Child, and Windfall.

Rick Nelson died in a plane crash on the very last day of 1985 along with many members of his band.  He had a rockabilly-tinged album almost finished, which has never been released.

2) Ruins

Speaking of female singers and crushes, the two Swedish sisters who lead First Aid Kit are the current apples of my eye… or I should say ear (and eye).   I found them on YouTube singing tributes to Emmylou Harris and doing Bob Dylan covers (and a daring, for a folk rock duo, version of the Black Sabbath song War Pigs).

71NvHs0u+5L._SL1200_“Ruins”, their most recent album from 2018, shows off their song-writing skills but I think I like their previous album “Stay Gold” a little better — more upbeat.  But this one has its moments, and their singing in harmony always verges on the moving.

Cuts I especially like from the album are Rebel Heart, It’s A Shame, and Distant Star, veering around folk rock, country rock, and that indeterminate category of singer-songwriter.

Performing and touring around the world has taken its toll, and they had to cancel their 2019 summer dates due to burnout.

3) Love Is Here

41BB01R7SZLStarsailor is an English band formed in 2000, about which I know little.  I’m not sure why this is in my CD collection — it must have been recommended somewhere — but I like it in limited doses.  This is the band’s first album, from 2001, which received a lot of critical acclaim.

What sort of music is it?  Wikipedia says Post-Britpop, which apparently is an “alternative rock subgenre,” following in the wake of Oasis and Blur with more American influences.

The lead singer, James Walsh, has this high, almost delicate voice, with a style, he has said, influenced by Jeff Buckley.

The song Alcoholic is strangely moving about an alcoholic father.  Good Souls is slightly more upbeat, about, well… good souls.

4) Too Much Fun

Alright, party time!

51JSPFWQXZLCommander Cody & His Lost Planet Airman came out of Michigan in 1967 but soon moved to San Francisco and got a record contract. They opened for Jefferson Airplane, the Grateful Dead and the Doors.

Their raw-edged sound of western swing, jump blues and general barroom mayhem is reflected in album titles like “Sleazy Roadside Stories,” “Hot Licks, Cold Steel and Truckers Favorites” and “Country Casanova.”

George Frayne IV founded the group, which became known for its marathon live shows, and took on the persona of Commander Cody.

This compilation is a lively record.  Of course it has Hot Rod Lincoln from 1971, originally a more traditional country song from the 1950s.  Beat Me Daddy Eight to the Bar is a boogie woogie number off that same first album, “Lost in the Ozone.”  And the compilation’s got Everybody’s Doing It, a bawdy song about singing “hi de ho” … or something like that.

5) Twelve

81GplvHXmQL._SL1500_The more I listen to Patti Smith, the more her voice moves me.  There’s such genuineness there.

Patti Smith of course was in the forefront of the punk rock movement in New York with her first album “Horses” in 1975.  I remember being in NYC on my own odd journey when the album came out.

This album from 2007 of twelve covers includes a variety of moods from White Rabbit to Smells Like Teen Spirit.

The songs aren’t necessarily the best productions or ultimate versions, but Smith’s voice rides with its authenticity over all.  I really like Gimme Shelter, Bob Dylan’s Changing of the Guards, and Paul Simon’s The Boy in the Bubble.  Stevie Wonder’s Pastime Paradise she sings with great tenderness:

“They’ve been spending most their lives
Living in a future paradise.”


Rock CDs (and a DVD) I Just Had to Buy

July 26, 2018

Now that I’m retired, music I love is taking up more of my time.  I’m trying to play more, and learn more, in my lower intermediate rock guitar student way.  I’m listening more, especially to bands I neglected in the past (or think the wider culture has neglected).

And I just finished reading This Is Your Brain on Music: The Science of A Human Obsession, by Daniel Levitin.  One of the saving graces of human beings as a species is music, in all its forms.  The book describes how humans are hard-wired for music.  We should be grateful for that.

I’ve got shelves of CDs already, and I really don’t need to add to them, but I couldn’t resist buying a few recently.

From Amazon, which has become a major resource, I picked up the first new CD in 20 years from the New Riders of the Purple Sage.  It has songs with lyrics by Robert Hunter, famous for his contributions to the Grateful Dead.  I’ve never had a CD of theirs or even listened (to my knowledge) to the New Riders, although I know they’ve been around for a long time, but the Robert Hunter connection made me want to check them out.

Another from Amazon is Janis Joplin Live at Winterland ’68 with Big Brother and the Holding Co.  This was fairly early in Joplin’s short career, and the band, Big Brother, also shows what it is capable of as one of the original psychedelic outfits.  I love Janis in live performance, the rawness and sheer over-the-top passion – I’m thinking now of the Festival Express DVD where she bowls everyone over with her astonishing performances.

And my third CD from the ubiquitous retailer is the Zombies’ Still Got That Hunger. The Zombies, an English band, are famous for their songs from the 60s like Time of the Season and She’s Not There.  Pretty long in the tooth, these guys, but I want to hear what they sound like now with new material in this CD from 2015.

The Disappearing CD

It’s harder and harder of course to find CDs at any local storefronts in the Greater Vancouver area.  And CDs themselves are apparently slowly on the way out, given the tendency to buy single tunes online or obtain through file-sharing.

But in the little fishing village becoming gentrified that is Steveston (a hamlet within Richmond, BC, home to the Vancouver Airport), there is a small bricks-and-mortar shop called Beatmerchant, where CDs are still sold.

The owner, Frankie Neilson, actually knows a lot about most of the music I love.   He worked in the music industry in the UK with Polydor in the 1970s.  He relocated to Vancouver in the 1990s after spending some time in Toronto.  He started his physical store in 2005.

Wishbone Ash Argus

So from Frankie this week I bought Argus by Wishbone Ash.  I have it on an LP but since I almost never get around to hand-cranking my old Kenwood turntable and listening to any of the old long-plays, I decided to get the CD.  (You probably don’t know about Kenwood’s series of hand-cranked turntables which required considerable strength just to get going, like a Model T….  OK, just kidding.)

Argus was Wishbone Ash’s biggest album and rose to #3 in Britain in 1972.  They were a band playing progressive rock I guess you could say, with folk and classical influences.

Also from Beatmerchant is the 2 CD compilation The Essential Paul Revere & The Raiders. You never hear them now even on so-called classic rock stations, but Paul Revere & The Raiders were big when I was growing up during high school and into the early 1970s.  My brothers and I listened to them a lot on our battery-powered Phillips phonograph (since we didn’t have electricity for many years – not kidding).

Some of their early hits include Kicks and Good Thing.   They were Columbia Records top-selling rock band of 1967.  Later, they shortened their name to The Raiders and had hits with Indian Reservation and Birds of a Feather.

They often liked to wear Revolutionary War costumes….

And finally, Beatmerchant had a DVD I didn’t know existed: Stephen Stills & Manassas – The Lost Broadcasts. Manassas was a band that Stephen Stills formed with some other heavy weights of the time such as Chris Hillman and Al Perkins.  Their primary release was a self-titled 2-disc LP in 1972 (mentioned in this post).  The group only lasted a couple of years, but I’ve been a fan ever since.

This DVD apparently shows the band performing a number of songs on German television.  The YouTube video of It Doesn’t Matter gives you an idea of the band.

So the next step is for me to listen to all this good stuff!