Nilsson Schmilsson was released in November of 1971. So, what better way to close out month 11 and my 335th post.
To me this record sounds like what would happen if you could plug your headphones directly into brilliance! It feels like watching a gifted mathematician prove some difficult equation on a chalkboard. Some of the songs are so off kilter that it keeps you guessing around every turn… you keep questioning the tone or the tempo over and over, always being set straight by Professor Nilsson.
The well known song Coconuthas been with me as long as I can remember. As a kid I didn’t know Harry Nilsson wrote the song but, even today, every time I see a coconut I start singing.
But the real heart and soul of this record is the song Jump Into The Fire. This song is unadulterated bombast and fun, from the manic singing to the oddly detuned bass part, it is one of my favorite songs of all time:
The credit for my first taste of the Rush album 2112 goes to a friend of a friend named Buck.
I was a Moving Pictures fan and he said something along the lines of “well if you think Moving Pictures is good you’re going to love 2112!”
He was right!
Side one of the record is the title track broken into 7 distinct passages.
Passage one, Overture, is an obvious reference to Tchaikovsky’s1812 Overture although I’m not sure what the connection actually is. 1812 is a triumphant celebration where 2112 is the moment when all galaxies come under the control of the red star…
Here, check it:
Anyway, the bit in the middle, passage III or IV, where the guy finds the guitar and teaches himself how to play and then is slapped down by the Priests Of The Temples Of Syrinx somehow hit a home for this teenage kid.
I was also confused by the shout out to Ayn Rand in the liner notes, even after reading her bullshit.
As mindblowing as side A of 2112 is, my favorite song from the album is Lessons on the B side:
My scratched up and barely playable copy still exists and, given enough Bloody Marys, actually sounds pretty good on a Sunday morning!
This is the 1980 German reissue on Polydor of their 11 Jimi Hendrix albums plus a bonus 12 inch single of Hey Joe that was apparently never released in Germany.
This was another record store trade in success story. The box came in to the record store and seemed like the records had barely if ever been played. I was able to trade half a dozen yard sale finds and some record store credit for the set.
The first four I already owned, but the used copies I have are a little rough for playing. The remainder of the posthumous releases send me a mix of studio outtakes and live recordings.
There are some real gems in here and surprisingly some things I never heard before that would sound up to date on any Pearl Jam or Black Crows record.
George Harrison’s first real solo album the three record All Things Must Pass turns 45 years old today:
The release laid to rest any idea that Harrison was not a fantastic artist in his own right.
The album consisted of mostly backlogged Harrison compositions that were rejected by Lennon and McCartney for Beatles records. And also had a couple of Dylan influenced songs in one Dylan composition If Not For You.
The musicians cast characters was legion with the main rhythm section consisting of the Friends band, Bobby Whitlock, Carl Riddle, Bobby Keys, Jim Price and Dave Mason. Of course Eric Clapton was there as was Ringo Starr, Billy Preston and Klaus Voorman.
This is my favorite post Beatles Beatle record. I even love the third record of throw-aways titled Apple Jam.
If I have one criticism of this record it with the Phil Spector “wall of sound” production. I’ve never been a fan of Spector and feel that a lot of the emotion gets washed away with his fire hose approach.
So happy 45th birthday All Things Must Pass. PS… George I miss you!
The obvious go to album for the American celebration of Thanksgiving is Alice’s Restaurant by Arlo Guthrie:
I had the pleasure to meet Arlo back in 1997. He was performing a concert at the Great Falls Montana Civic Center and the promoter, a friend of mine, called in a favor.
“I need you to go down to the hotel and drive Arlo Guthrie to a photographer’s studio so he can get a passport photo…”
Course these were the days before everybody had a high-definition camera attached to the computer phone in their pocket… If you needed a passport photo you had to have a film camera that would take the proper size and resolution to meet the needs of the federal government!
At the appointed time I drove my beat up Jeep Cherokee to the hotel and walked into the lobby and, lo and behold, sitting there reading a newspaper was Arlo Guthrie himself
I introduced myself and he followed me out to my car for the ride to the photographer studio. It was only about a 10 minute drive and, once delivered, the process of taking the photo and doing whatever paperwork needed to be done was 15 minutes at best.
“Do you have any plans for the rest of the morning?”Arlo asked. “None at all!” I replied… “what would you like to do?”
“I just like to see the makeup of places…” he responded, “can we just drive around and look at the town, the buildings and whatnot?”
“Sure!”, I said
For the next couple of hours we toured around Great Falls. He was especially interested in the buildings that were erected by the Works Progress Administration, the New Deal agency that employed millions of unskilled laborers to build public works projects including libraries and courthouses and the like.
Around noon we went to my favorite restaurant… where the burgers were good and they had Guinness on tap.
Afterwards I took him back to his hotel where he could get himself ready for the concert at night. I sheepishly pulled my copy of Alice’s Restaurant out of the back seat and asked for an autograph . He smiled and obliged, then headed up to his room.
I worked as an usher at the theater that night and had a great view of the whole show.
Apparently he had not done the Alice’s Restaurant song in concert for some time but head recently bowed to fan pressure and started performing in again before its 30th anniversary.
“So we took the half-a-ton of garbage, put it in the back of a red VW Microbus, took shovels and rakes and implements of destruction, and headed On toward the city dump. Well, we got there and there was a big sign and a Chain across the dump sayin’, “This dump is closed on Thanksgiving,”… and the rest is history.
“It has been a wonderful evening and what I needed now to give it the perfect ending was a bit of the old Ludwig van.”
That, my little droogies, was my introduction to classical music.
The 1971 film A Clockwork Orange broadcast to a teen me on HBO.
Ultra-violence aside, the electronic interpretation of classical pieces by Wendy Carlos, and Alex’s awesome stereo setup in his Clockwork bedroom left me envious:
The next time I heard Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony was in the wilderness. Riding in the back of a friend’s pickup truck, his cassette blaring in stereo, numerous teenagers conducting as one.
At a thrift store some years later I found a seven album box set of Beethoven The Nine Symphoniesconducted by Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra on the Columbia Masterworks label:
This 1966 release, although sullied and stained on the exterior, remained nearly pristine where it matters… seven well preserved vinyl discs.
“Oh bliss! Bliss and heaven! Oh it was gorgeousness and gorgeousity made flesh. It was like a bird of rarest spun heaven metal or like a silvery wine flowing in a spaceship, gravity all nonsense now. As I slooshied, I knew such a lovely pictures!”
I guess it’s really no surprise that The Collection of easy listening records has grown exponentially… In 1986 I was probably the only person in my 18 – 24 year old male demographic to buy the Linda Ronstadt and Nelson Riddle compilation of three American Songbook big band records in a box set, called Round Midnight:
I must have seen a TV special about the recording and release of these records and something lit a spark.
The week this box set was released I made a special trip from McChord Air Force Base, south of Tacoma Washington, up to record store in a mall in Bellevue just to get a copy of this on release day.
The records saw significant headphone time because I definitely took flack for playing it in the dormitories!
No matter, I’m sure I turned some of my friends over to the softer side by playing this beautifully recorded and wonderful sounding compilation.
it’s been nearly 30 years since I’ve listened to this record and I can report that it still sounds fantastic!
There are a couple of areas in The Collection that have grown exponentially. Mostly by accident, I have begun collecting pop and easy listening records from the late fifties and early sixties. A great example of this is 1963 number one record Blame It On The Bossa Nova by Eydie Gorme:
Many of the releases in this genre and from this area, at least the ones I’ve heard on reputable record labels like Columbia or RCA, sound fantastic and are a blast to listen to.
Here Gorme, a top-notch vocalist, puts her Latin specialty spin on many of the Bossa Nova craze hits of the day including Desafinado and the belle of the ball… One Note Samba:
Also included are Latin-ish takes on popular Broadway tunes written by Lerner and Loeweand Richard Rodgers.
The best thing about collecting these used vinyl is they’re relatively plentiful and cheap! I scored this nearly mint copy for a dime.
This is great cocktail party music, the familiar tunes are easy to hum along with… even if you don’t know that you’ve heard it before.
You can’t judge a book by its cover. Nor should you try to judge an album by its cover art. But occasionally there’s a great album within a great cover.
When discussing vinyl records with friends and family the conversation always turns to the tactile; the act of removing the record from the sleeve, properly cleaning and setting it on the turntable, queuing up the music and sitting down to actively listen. And that is the time to turn your attention to the album cover.
When I discuss great album art with people the one album I always have in mind is Santana’s second album, 1970’s Abraxas:
Not only is this album a fantastic listen, with some of Santana’s most notable songs, but the album cover is beautifully mesmerizing and so full of detail that I seem to find something new in it every time I pick it up.
The artwork is from a 1961 painting by the artist Mati Klarwein and is entitled Annunciation:
Klarwein’s art was used by several other musicians after Santana including Miles Davis (Bitches Brew) Buddy Miles and Gregg Allman.
Here is the angel Gabriel’s Annunciation to a very laid back and fertile Mary while the artist himself feasts on the back cover.
As for Santana, this album includes the Tito Puente Latin slow burner Oye Como Va and Peter Green’s (yup, from Fleetwood Mac) Black Magic Woman as well as some fantastic instrumental Latin jazz blues rock numbers. It’s a beautifully recorded album and sounds of fantastic on a vintage Hi-Fi.
Yesterday was also the birthday of Joseph Fiddler “Joe” Walsh, one of my favorite characters from rock and roll and one of my favorite guitar players.
Looking back at this blog I’ve noticed that there are some deficiencies, some gaps where The Collection is rich but the blog is poor. One of these gaps is the Eagles.
I am an Eagles Greatest Hits fan! I never did buy many of their records but their sound and style defined much of the area where they were dominant.
The exception to the greatest hits rule was the album Hotel California:
On a visit to my aunts house in Oregon, on a trip to a local music store, my cousin picked out the recently released album Hotel California. My aunt was a big fan of the earlier Eagles stuff and wholeheartedly agreed to purchase this record for my cousin.
I can still remember that first spin! The Hotel California song was long for AM radio standards, and had an extended guitar solo that I can still hum every note of.
I saw the Eagles several years ago in Moncton New Brunswick at an outdoor concert venue called Magnetic Hill:
Four of us went for a Golf and concert extravaganza and dealt with torrential rain prior to the show.
Luckily our assigned seats were in a grandstand stage right. But when it became obvious that Hotel California was queued up, I walked my way through ankle deep mud up towards the front of the stage just so I could hear Don and Joe’s guitar interplay of one of my favorite guitar riffs
Most recently I’ve been impressed by Walsh with his appearance on the Foo Fighters HBO series Sonic Highways.
If you haven’t had a chance to check out this series, you should! It is really fantastic!
Dave Grohl really coaxes the best out of his band and his guests and captures the soul of region he is exploring.
The Sonic Highways contribution that Joe Walsh made was for the Los Angeles region. The song the Foo Fighters wrote was called Outside and, if you watch this video, you can conceive the brilliance of Joe Walsh:
Joe’s part starts just after the 5:45 mark… but it is really interesting to compare Walsh’s sparse and subdued style with the forensics of the Foo Fighters. And don’t take my word for it just look at the reaction that the rest of the band gets when Walsh plays his part!