Vinyl, Cassettes & CDs: But No 8 Tracks (Yet)

Once again, I have been listening to a lot of music lately: especially in album form rather than a mish-mash of individual songs. Some music is just meant to be experienced that way.


abbey road

The Beatles – Abbey Road

This is worth listening to just for the medley of songs on “side 2” (yes folks, us olde time type folks used to have turn the album over to play half of the music) and has some great Beatles songs like “Golden Slumbers”, “Polythene Pam” and “The End”. Side 2 also featured George Harrison’s beautiful “Here Comes The Sun” as the first track.

Not to be outdone, Side 1 closes with “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” with its multiple sections using different time structures and even featuring a bossanova style guitar riff. Featuring Ringo’s “Octopus’s Garden” and McCartney’s “Oh Darling” as well, the album really hinted at where the four musicians were going musically in the time now known as “Post Beatles”.


blind faith

Blind Faith – Blind Faith

My parents were at the famed 1969 free concert in Hyde Park since my dad was a huge fan of Ginger Baker and he was the drummer for Blind Faith. Toss in Steve Winwood (seemingly just after he hit puberty) and Eric Clapton when he was at his creative peak and this was the greatest one shot band of all time. “Presence of the Lord” and “Can’t Find My Way Home” are classic FM radio staples for the simple reason that they are great pieces of music.


mer de noms

A Perfect Circle – Mer De Noms

First of all, let me say that I am in the clique that thinks that Maynard is a genius, throw in the fact that I love Paz Lenchantin and Billy Howerdel and it is a given that I would love this. As much as I love Tool (again go back to Maynard is a genius) and Puscifer (ditto) I love A Perfect Circle just a little more due the accessibility of the band and its music.

“Judith” is a piece of guitar heaven with its soaring slide work and staccato vocals laid over a percussive bass line. It is brilliant stuff.


the wall

Pink Floyd – The Wall

I have been hearing this a lot on KGON lately and I have also been listening to the album a lot at home. It is just a brilliant trip through the mind of Roger Waters. It also has some of the most brilliantly conceived (and megalomaniacal) music ever laid down on tape. Although this is Roger Waters’ masterpiece, his estrangement of the rest of the band led, I believe, to David Gilmour playing the best guitar of his career as he worked to steal the album from under the nose of Roger Waters: creative tension indeed.

To this day “Run Like Hell” is the most awe-inspiring, and frightening, live song I have ever seen performed as Roger Waters got the entire crowd to march in place and perform the crossed fore-arm / clenched fist fascistic salute that was in the movie… This has to be listened to from start to finish to get the complete impact of what is going on in this album.



Simon And Garfunkle – Bridge Over Troubled Water

The title track was to my youth what “Wind Beneath My Wings” is to my daughters’ youth: a cringe worthy staple for any sad event that needed to be celebrated at a school assembly. I believe that the version played by the school recorder band was the worst cover I ever heard, but there were others, I was so traumatized by this that it was years before I went back and listed to the album and now I listen to it all of the time: even the title track.


turn blue

The Black Keys – Turn Blue

This is one of the few real gems that has been released in 2014 (a year to henceforth be known as the year without music). It took me a week to go beyond listening to just the opening track, “Weight Of Love”, as I was so starved of musical nutrition). This is an album of good garage band psychedelic music that would not be on this list if there had been better output from other bands and artists this year.



The Who – Quadrophenia

I have stated before that “Love Reign O’er Me” is one of the greatest rock songs of all time. But Quadrophenia also has amazing pieces of music like “5:15” with its swinging brass section and “The Real Me”. But really, like The Wall, it has to be listened to from start to finish to appreciate what Pete Townshend really accomplished. To understand the what and the why of Pete Townsend’s creation is probably beyond the ken of us mere mortals.



The Police – Outlandos D’Amour

In the late ‘70s, my granddad used to send me “care packages” when I first came to America of “Shoot” magazine and whatever singles were at the top of the British charts. One of the first 45s that I got was from some new band called the Police and it was “Can’t Stand Losing You”. I was hooked the moment I heard it and it really changed how I viewed and played the guitar.

And of course, this is the album with “Roxanne” on it. Bass, drums and a guitar never worked so well together as when the three virtuoso who hated each other played together. This album was released a year before The Wall was released by Pink Floyd: such amazingly diverse music from an indifferent time.



Coldplay – Parachutes

I have been listening to this just because I have been so underwhelmed by Coldplay’s latest offerings. It seems strange to now reflect on just how much I love this album as well as A Rush Of Blood To The Head and X & Y. Once upon a time they were a great band. Then it all went wrong when they became pop stars.

“Yellow” has always been a staple of their live set list and is a great song highlighting what the band could do. But it was the first three tracks on the album that really turned me on to Coldplay and “Spies” is one of my absolute favourite songs of all time.


fair warning

Van Halen – Fair Warning

For some reason this album got stuck into regular rotation the other weekend at KGON and I was in the truck listening to such Van Halen classics as “Mean Street”, “Unchained” and “So This Is Love?” Combine the rampant ego of David Lee Roth and the over the top guitar work of Eddie and you get this.

The back story on the album is that this was the beginning of the end for Van Halen with DLR as he wanted to go more pop and Eddie wanted to go heavier – Eddie won on Fair Warning.


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