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.

 

bridge

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.

 

quadrophenia

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.

 

outlandos

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.

 

parachutes

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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So Much Good Music In My World

But Some Of It Is Just That Little Bit More Special To Me.

Recently, I found a blog post from days gone by when one chiseled the words onto a stone tablet and downloaded it off of a rubbing that one made: you know, the days of yore (or as we know it, 2006). It seemed like a good idea to revisit and see what has changed.  And, fuck me; most of the list did not change. This does not mean that great music has not happened in the past 7 ½ years, because it has. Adele and Joe Bonamassa are both close to being in this list. Joe Strummer and his brilliant band, The Mescaleros, did make the list.

But at its core, the songs remained the same, so to speak. The only changes to my top ten were “Global A-Gogo” and “Fascination Street”. The metrics for creating the list were quite simple: what do I like the most and what do I find myself wanting to listen to at times of intense emotional need. What these songs have in common is intense emotional arousal in me – whether it is sadness, anger or whatever.  And, with the exception of Bob Marley and Jeff Buckley, I have had the pleasure of seeing these acts live:  some of them many times.
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1 “Gimme Shelter” by The Rolling Stones.

To me this is everything that makes great rock and roll. You have the greatest, baddest band of all time at the peak of their powers talking about the Altamont and one of the low points of their career. It is a great guitar riff, with great vocals and an incredible counterpoint joined together in rock music perfection. Not only is this my favourite rock song of all, but I consider it the greatest rock song of all time .  And it’s Mick ‘n’ Keef …

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2 “Love Reign O’er Me” by The Who.

I love the discordant piano into to this song. I love the Quadrophenia story. I love the back story of Pete having a breakdown writing the music for Quadrophenia . But Roger Daltry gives his greatest performance as a member of The Who on this song and it transcends everything else in this and takes a great piece of music and propels it into the realm of true genius.

3 the clash
3 “London Calling” by The Clash.

This was the only band that matters: and I think, for my generation, it may still be true. I consider myself to be a North London punk, I am from the real punk rock generation, and this is my band. And this is my song by my band. This is the time and place where my politics became firmly entrenched in the left. The Clash were brilliant, militant musicians and revolutionaries: and I was just a rat following the pied piper of punk – Joe Strummer.

4 kinks
4 “Celluloid Heroes” by The Kinks

Ray Davies writes great songs. Dave Davies is a great guitarist. Together they were nitroglycerine of such instability that the Gallagher brother can only be seen as pale imitations. Over the years, the Kinks set themselves as true forerunners of punk. But this wonderful, poignant piece is so sad and so beautiful that it still moves me forty years after it was written.

5 joe strummer
5 “Global A-Go-Go” by Joe Strummer and The Mescaleros

There is so much joy and such sadness when I think about Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros. Joe was having an amazing renaissance and producing music that featured amazing world beats fused with politics and tempered by age and experience. It was, in many ways, the equal to his original burst of work with The Clash and I can only begin to imagine what he would have done if that generous, wonderful heart had not given out. To this day, I miss Joe Strummer more than any musician who has passed on but I have this song that I consider his personal gift to me…


6 “No Woman, No Cry” by Bob Marley & The Wailers

Bob Marley would be one of the four faces on my musical Mount Rushmore (Joe Strummer would be there too). I learned about him and Peter Tosh and Eek-A-Mouse from my dad’s West Indian cricketing buddies during the hot summer of 1976. To this day I listen to lots of reggae and ska and I still love Bob Marley and The Wailers. I love “Exodus” and “Three Little Birds” and all of his great music, but “No Woman, No Cry” is my favourite live track of all time. The organ is so cool and when you see film of The Wailers performing it live and moving in unison as they play. … wow!

7 metallica
7 “One” by Metallica

Let’s face it, even crap Metallica (Load and Re-Load, perhaps) are miles better than most bands best. But “One” is them at their very best on their best album ….And Justice For All. It uses one of their traditional formats with a long bridge complete with tempo change (that double kick bass is intense, why doesn’t Lars collapse in a cramping heap?) and Johnny Got His Gun is also one of my favourite novels of all time so when a great band makes a great song about it …

8 the cure
8 “Fascination Street” by The Cure

It’s all about the bass on this Cure song. I am assured of this by the bass playing number two daughter whose learning the bass line for this song is ranked ahead of graduating from high school in terms of her achievements (and I still cannot figure out how she managed to graduate).

9 elton
9 “Madman Across The Water” by Elton John

While drug addiction, self loathing and questioning one’s sexual identity are terrible things for a person to endure, it definitely fueled a creative frenzy in Elton John. And while many people point to Goodbye Yellow Brick Road as his greatest album of the ‘70s, I personally prefer Madman Across The Water and the revised version of the title track is my favourite song on the album. To this day, I can put this album on and instantly I am in a reflective mood and harkening back to the glory days of Watford Town FC as a force in football and I was a kid on the terraces watching.

10 jeff buckley
10 “Lover, You Should’ve Come Over” by Jeff Buckley

You can feel the pain on this: so much heartbreak, so much need; so much love. The Grace album is the only album made before his untimely death; but it is one of the truly epic American masterpieces. In my opinion, this song is the best song on an album where every song is great.

The almost made it list:

11 “Alone, Again Or” by The Damned (That dynamic flamenco riff slays me)
12 “Down Around My Place” by John Hiatt (Brilliant)
13 “Hurt” by Johnny Cash (The greatest cover of all time)
14 “Little Wing” by Stevie Ray Vaughan (Guitar virtuosity that is incomplete)
15 “Shadowplay” by Joy Division (RIP Ian Curtis – you are still one of my heroes)
16 “Adam Raised A Cain” by Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band (Power and pain)
17 “Working Class Hero” by John Lennon & The Plastic Ono Band (Better than any Beatles stuff)
18 “Run Like Hell” by Pink Floyd (Brilliant music for when I am angry and want to take it up a notch)
19 “Cradle Rock” by Rory Gallagher (Another of my guitar heroes – this is his best)
20 “Blue Jean Blues” by ZZ Top (Texas blues at its best)
21 “Ballad Of John Henry” by Joe Bonamassa (Check out the live BCC version sometime)
22 “Rolling In The Deep” by Adele (Overplay could not kill this song – she is phenomenal)
23 “It’s a Beautiful Day” by U2 (This never fails to cheer me up)
24 “Let It Be” by The Beatles (The greatest goodbye of all time)
25 “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic” by The Police (always makes me dance around the house)

Music That Existed On An 8-Track In A Pinto … Once Upon A Time

So I have been gone a while; having been just too busy working in the real world to play in my cyber wonderland.  I get up at 4am and hit my pathetic little cubby by 4:30- 5am in order to spin plastic into gold for “the Man”.  Although in all fairness, “the Man” at my work place is a rather cool dude and treats everyone very well.  And then I get home and work some more in order to keep things flowing smoooooooothly.

But we are busy, which is a big deal, and getting busier and busier.  And since as a production planner (what is that I hear some twat in the back ask “what does a production planner do?” – I plan production, arsehole) I am surfing a monster wave of demand on a little tiny surfboard of staff, which means that I am juggling many balls all at once.  Or to put it much more succinctly, I am trying to crap a twenty pound turd through a two pound arsehole.

But hopefully one and all get the gist of things:  I have been very busy.  And since I have been very busy, I have not really done anything exciting with the Warhammer 40K or going to movies or such; but I have listened to tons of great music as I work.  And what have I been listening to a lot lately?  I have really gone back and listened to music from that most maligned of musical decades:  the ‘70s.

Now the ‘70s is a decade that really needs to get itself a much better publicist.  Because, although it was the decade that gave us The Carpenters, Captain &Tenille and disco, it was also the decade that marked the end of The Beatles; the peak of The Rolling Stones and the Kinks and the Who; the absolute brilliance of Stevie Wonder and Bob Marley; the rise of punk and new wave and metal.

The Beatles – Let It Be (1970)

Let It Be

Probably the reason that the ‘70s is so maligned for its music is probably the fact that it didn’t have the Beatles.  There is an all pervasive odour that there was no music before John, Paul, George and Ringo; and little of any substance afterwards.  How wrong is that notion?

Let It Be was made in 1969 then held back until after Abbey Road was recorded and released as the band was not happy with it.  And it is not as good as Abbey Road but it was their swansong and left a gaping void that glam rushed to fill.

David Bowie – Hunky Dory (1971)

hunky dory

I have been a massive fan of David Bowie since I first saw him doing “Space Oddity” on Top Of The Pops.  I listened to David Bowie songs at the Youff Club (Youth Club to those who do not speak Norf London (sort of a juvenile delinquent training center with snooker tables)) and I still go back and listen to all of the Bowie albums.

My favourite period of Bowie is his period working with Mick Ronson on guitar and Hunky Dory is the best of those albums:  even better than The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars.  The best track on the album is “Life On Mars”.

Elton John – Honky Chateau (1972)

honky chateau

It is amazing the effect that cocaine, alcohol and sexual confusion can have on the creative process.  And in a period when Elton was releasing an album about every 8 months each filled with great music, it is this album that is my favourite.   (At this time I was seeing Elton John regularly at Watford Town football matches as I went to just about every home game – even football hooligans have to start out in the lower divisions.)

While “Rocket Man” is the most famous song on this album and it is the song that cemented Elton John as a mega-star, it is “Mona Lisas And Mad Hatters” that steals the record.  To this day, the 1971 – 1976 Elton still stands up as some of the best music ever recorded.

Stevie Wonder – Innervisions (1973)

innervisions

1973 was a wondrous year for music.  This was also the year that Iggy and the Stooges unleashed Raw Power on the world and helped kick start punk.  But my mum brought me up on Stevie Wonder music and I love Innervisions and also 1976’s Songs In The Key Of Life.

Innervisions had “Higher Ground” with its wicked synth groove and “Living In The City” and “Golden Lady”. Thinking about things, it is fascinating that someone as conservative as my mother would love Motown and Memphis soul and the Philly Sound as much as she did (and still does).

Rory Gallagher – Irish Tour ’74 (1974 (duh))

rory gallagher

I am still amazed by the number of music “aficionados” who have never heard any of this guitar genius’ work and who worship at the Temple of Eric.  I love Eric Clapton music too, but he is not even the best guitarist from the Yardbirds let alone the best guitarist ever:  but Rory Gallagher just might be!

“Cradle Rock” is just one of the greatest guitar jams of all time:  and it really cooks live.  And if you want a real treat, then check out some of the YouTube videos of the late, great Irish guitar genius playing live and doing things attributed to later guitar legends (ten finger tapping anyone?).

Led Zeppelin – Physical Graffiti (1975)

Physical Graffiti

I am not a Zep Head but I love this album.  Especially, I love the song “Kashmir” with its amazing drum track and the stunning violin bow over Les Paul guitar work.  Rumour has it that John Bonham hit the drums so hard that you can hear the drum sticks cutting through the air on this track.

This was one of the last hurrahs for rock as it existed at this time.  Iggy Pop and the Ramones were plotting the decline of moral decency and over in my part of the world, things were beginning to come together along the King’s Road as the country bordered on anarchy, chaos and revolution.

Rush – 2112 (1976)

2112

I cannot put into words how happy it makes me that Rush will (finally) be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame next spring.  They were the first concert that I went to in America and I saw them on the 2112 tour in Portland’s Memorial Coliseum.  That was the first of many Rush shows.

Last year, I had the pleasure of watching them again on their Time Machine tour and I got to take my youngest daughter; who had a blast.  In fact there were many families at the show all singing along to Tom Sawyer et al:  kids, parents and grandparents.

The Clash – The Clash (1977)

The Clash

Even though I grew up in North London, the epicenter of punk rock country, I was not really interested by punk until I heard the Clash and later that year Television.  And while I love Televison’s Marquee Moon and have been rocking out to it on vinyl, cassette and cd for 35 years, the Clash truly is “the only band that matters” and somehow, over the years they have not only lived up to the hype, they have transcended it.

Their first album is just a taste of what was to come and so, to me, is just that more important than London Calling or Sandinista:  even though it is nowhere near as musically complex.  And the politics on the album allowed my father and I to bond as, in the eyes of my mother, I turned to socialism, trade unionism and left wing politics.  And Joe: to my generation, you are immortal and your words and ideas will live forever.

Dire Straits – Dire Straits (1978)

Dire Straits

1978 produced two of the greatest guitar songs of all time:  Adam Raised A Cain off of Springsteen’s brilliant Darkness On The Edge Of Town and Sultans Of Swing off of the first Dire Straits album.  For me though, it is the Dire Straits album that is my favourite.

Now this is not because of the music, but because Dire Straits was a band that my dad snuck me into a pub in London to see play long before this album hit the charts.  It was evident then that Mark Knopfler was a brilliant guitarist and his finger picking style remains highly individual.  “Sultans Of Swing” is a song that has to be witnessed live to really appreciate that finger picking style.

Joy Division – Unknown Pleasures (1979)

Joy Division

It is quite possible that 1979 is the greatest musical year ever.  The Clash released London Calling, Michael Jackson dropped Off The Wall, Pink Floyd built The Wall and brilliant new bands like The Police, Elvis Costello and the Attractions, Graham Parker and the Rumour, Blondie and the B-52s were creating amazing music.  Even mainstream acts like AC/DC and Fleetwood Mac had brilliant albums.

But it was Joy Division who seemed to have the brightest future.  They were one of those bands that just seemed destined for global domination and yet a year after this album came out, Ian Curtis had taken his own life and Joy Division was morphing into New Order.  The album itself is raw and emotional and needs to be looked at from more than an esthetic sense.  It is like listening to the first couple of U2 albums or the first couple of Police albums:  you just knew that there was something massive to come.  The death of Ian Curtis showed just how tantalizing and fickle “potential” can turn out to be.

Donna Summer

And on another special ‘70s note – I have to just say “Shame on you Rock and Roll Hall of Fame voters.  Do you feel that electing Donna Summer posthumously this year in any way makes up for not allowing the world to see her perform one last time when she should have been elected years ago.  Shame on all of you.”

“This Rock And Roll Stuff Will Never Last”

Mitch Miller (famously uncool band leader and vocalist and star of “Sing Along With Mitch”)

Recently I shared what new music (and some Miles Davis) I have been listening too of late.  But I also get into the “way back” machine and go and listen to some of the older, but brilliant, albums in my collection at every opportunity.

In addition to artistic brilliance, each of these albums has a special place in my heart.  I do not claim that these are the best albums ever made, or even the best albums in my collection.  They are simply my favourites after a prolonged period of listening.

Peter Frampton

Frampton Comes Alive! (1976)

Somehow 15,000,000 people seemingly now deny that they once owned this double LP.  (That’s Long Playing for those who have only existed in the digital age.)  But ‘old on a mo:  change that number to 14,999,999 as I am going to stand up and proclaim from the rooftops that not only did I own that album in the mid-70’s but I still own it.

Not only that, I still listen to this record and I love it.  My favourite track is “Do You Feel Like We Do” which is the star track and an FM classic rock staple.  But the song is so good and the electric piano in the middle just kicks arse.  It even survived my descent into punk rock and anarchy once the Pistols arrived to horrify mothers all over the UK

Radiohead

Kid A (2000)

Naming your favourite Radiohead album is a one of those things that is a bit of a “Sophie’s Choice”.  Is it the original piece of brilliance Pablo Honey or is it The Bends with my all time favourite Radiohead track “Fake Plastic Trees” or is it their masterpiece In Rainbows or the technically brilliant and profound OK Computer (ranked alongside Dark Side Of The Moon as one of the great British rock albums) or is it my personal favourite, the hypnotic and minimalistic Kid A …. you decide!

The dark and stark “Everything In Its Right Place” is provocative and moody on the album and is amazing to see performed live as it is like nothing seen before with most of the band performing around Thom Yorke and his electric piano.

Pink Floyd

Dark Side Of The Moon (1973)

This is the greatest musical achievement of the last 50 years.  It sounds better today than it did when it was released as its story of alienation through technology has now been realized.  We live in an age where being “friended” is far more personally relevant than having friends.

The documentary on the making of this album reveals not so much the secrets of the musicians and producers as much as it just adds to the mystique that is the Dark Side Of The Moon.  And even the album cover has become iconic.

Dire Straits

Making Movies (1980)

Dire Straits was one of my dad’s favourite bands – and that was before they ever released an album.  He was trekking around London to catch them in bars and clubs long before their eponymous debut came out.  Making Movies was their third album and I have owned it in LP, cassette and CD (and it is equally brilliant in all of those formats).

“Romeo and Juliet” is one of the all time great recorded love songs and in the live performances of this song. it was an absolute show stopper.  This album came out my senior year in high school and I was working at Anderson’s Delicatessen making $3.35 an hour.

The Clash

London Calling (1979)

The “only band that matters” made one of the few albums that truly mattered in a time that music was all Captain and Tennile and ELO and The Eagles. There is no “Muskrat Love” or “Mr. Blue Sky” here:  just great punk and reggae and ska with lyrics that are politically charged and dangerous.

The Clash was where punk musicians became great musicians. Joe Strummer was the voice of a generation and one of my musical and political heroes.  And the title track is just fuckin’ brilliant and always will be brilliant.  But there is more to this album than that:  “Lost In The Supermarket”, “Train In Vain”, “Wrong ‘Em Boyo”, “Spanish Bombs”, “Rudie Can’t Fail”.  It’s all genius, pure fuckin’ unapologetic genius.

U2

The Unforgettable Fire (1984)

More so than Joshua Tree, this is the album that defined U2 for the middle period of their career.  It is on this album that they became great musicians and were teamed with a great production team to create fantastic music that was years ahead of its time.

It is the non-singles on this album that I always go for.  “Bad” and “A Sort Of Homecoming” have always been amongst my favourite U2 songs – and as a fan since they released Boy in 1980, I have played their music over and over; and these two songs are still stand at the top of the pyramid.

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band

Darkness On The Edge Of Town (1978)

I came very late in life to worship at the temple of “The Boss”.  I had arrived in America in time to listen to albums such as The River and Born In The USA so I had missed out on what really made him great.  Then, several years ago, I saw one of his songs listed on Rolling Stone’s list of greatest guitar songs of all time and thought that I should check it out.

“Adam Raised A Cain” is now one of my favourite songs to just rock out to and it turned me on to all of the early Bruce catalogue.  I still don’t care for his “middle” period:  but the early stuff and the newest material more than make up for it.

Some Jazz, Some Soul And A Bit O’ Rock ‘N’ Roll

Music is a massive part of the background of my life.  There is no white noise or test pattern in my head:  just lots of math and lots of music. So what am I listening to these days

John Hiatt – Dirty Jeans And Mudslide Hymns

I discovered John Hiatt listening to Joe Bonamassa (the same way I discovered Beth Hart) and then I saw him perform live with Joe Bonamassa and I knew that I had to get this timeless album.   Every now and then an artist creates music that celebrates aging:  Johnny Cash released his amazing American albums, Leonard Cohen released Old Ideas earlier this year (but then again Sting released a collection of Elizabethan lute songs and Rod Stewart went Holiday Inn Shag Lounge and released album after album of “standards”).

This album is much closer to the brilliance that is Cohen and Cash.  For a real treat check out his live performance of “Down Around My Place” with Joe Bonamassa (and watch the bass player and how awed he is to be on stage with John Hiatt).

Adele – Live At The Royal Albert Hall

The buzz really started about six weeks before 21 dropped in early 2011.  There was something really incredible coming down the road from North London and everyone was going to be in for a treat.  And I love 21:  but even better than that album is Adele’s Live At The Royal Albert Hall.

It is one thing to do it perfectly in the studio after a myriad of takes:  it is something much more magical to turn around and give the performance of your life at the most amazing venue in the UK.  By the way, the DVD is also pretty amazing and has left “Hometown Glory” as one of my all time favourite songs.  This album, more than 21, is the defining moment of the Year of Adele and it is already a classic.

Noel Gallager’s High Flying Birds

This is actually better than most Oasis albums and, given how mediocre Beady Eye (Liam’s new band) is, puts to rest any lingering doubts as to which is the talented Gallagher brother.  “What A Life” is easily my favourite track on the album and the fact that it is piano driven gives an idea just how much of a departure from the Oasis sound this is for Noel Gallagher.

The video for “What A Life” is also pretty awesome as it features Russell Brand as the devil.  Or is that Lucifer as Russell Brand?  And what is my favourite Oasis song of all time (just in case you are wondering)?  It is “Acquiesce”.

Thievery Corporation – Culture Of Fear

The second best band out of Virginia these days (nobody can really argue with Foo Fighters being the number one band) this band has a modern day take on the Birmingham’s Two-Tone sound.  In fact it would not be wrong to say that they sound much more English than American.

They mix dub and ska and hip-hop into something really amazing.  The only band that I have heard skank it up better than them lately is Faithless (now sadly defunct).  There are so many great tracks on this album that it is hard to pick a favourite – but it is “False Flag Dub”:  no hesitation, no thinking, it is “False Flag Dub”.

Kasabian – West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum

This band has not yet really broken big in the US but it is a big deal in the UK.  The album I am listening to is the 2009 release and I have not yet obtained a copy of Velociraptor, their 2011 release.  Kasabian is the latest branch in the musical tree that is “the Manchester Sound”.

This of course traces its lineage back to seminal band Joy Division (avert your eyes here as no-one is worthy to gaze upon Ian Curtis; even in reverential awe).  I love the track “Fire” with its multiple time changes and, from what I have seen on television, it is the heart of their live act.

Of Monsters And Men – My Head Is An Animal

They sound like Sonny and Cher and look absolutely nothing like they sound – they are Iceland’s finest as of right now.  And while everyone laughs about the rock ‘n’ roll powerhouse that is Iceland, remember that it is dark and cold there a large chunk of the year and they have to do something besides drinking and having sex so music must fit in there somewhere.

I cannot wait for this band to hit Portland and play one of the smaller venues around town.  KNRK, my favourite radio station will obviously make a big deal of it when they do hit town so I will be in the know and have time to get the Glimmer Twins tickets for the show.

Miles Davis – Bitches Brew Live

I love Miles Davis.  I love his music.  I love his sound.  I love the various incarnations of his band.  I love the musicians, such as Herbie Hancock, who have been in the band and become legends in their own right.  The great musicians attract other great musicians and the greatest musicians of all elevate above their compatriots.

And the great thing about his live albums is that because this is jazz, the same song goes off in all sorts of different musical directions on all different live albums.  It’s kind of like the Grateful Dead only Miles Davis sounds good even if you are not high.  I also love the music of Dave Brubeck and John Coltrane

Florence + The Machine – Ceremonials

And featuring on lead harp ……Florence Welch:  and just when I was getting used to the cello being the new “it” instrument in rock bands, along come Florence and her harp.  The track “No Light, No Light” really shows off the mad harp skills; as well as being the best Florence song yet.

Ceremonials really builds on her first album, Lungs, and has great songs throughout and I am going to beg, steal or borrow a ticket for the August show at Edgefield since this is the one show I really wanted to attend this summer season.  Of course, Florence Welch and her long red hair really reminds me of Glimmer Twin Number 2 even down to the amazing singing voice and spaced out personality.