NEW MUSIC TUESDAY!!!
Three days in a row, and three days without something on Spotify. Ugh. Maybe need to start buying a few more things here and there.
Melody Gardot sings the song "Baby I'm A Fool," and it's one of the deepest, most romantic songs I've ever heard. That song alone makes me really excited to hear this latest album from a fellow Jersey-girl.
"Mira" has this really interesting Spanish love rhythm to it, definitely calling for a Calipso dance along. Her deep voice is not pushed, just hanging on the air in this perfect way, enjoying singing along ever so lightly. Even with the fast-pace of the song, she remains entirely easy to listen to.
A little less Spanish, a little more pop, for "Amalia." Vocals are still the same, maybe even with a little more soul pumped it, might I say. There's still a non-American flavor to the song, which I'm starting to believe may be an album theme. This is something that transports to Europe for sure, just to place you in a different, more elegant world.
"So Long" has remnants of Judy Garland unlike I've heard since Judy Garland. This is a person Melody lists as one of her main influences, so it makes sense, but I can't get over the resemblance. It's obvious in the singing of course, but also even in the recording method used, with having the vocals so much higher than the remaining instruments on the track. I just provides this all-around different sound that takes you back just a bit.
I was not looking forward to "So We Meet Again My Heartache" simply due to the sadness of the title. I have to give credit where credit it due though - the lyrical treatment of this is gorgeous. Sure, it's one to hear only in total tears, but the metaphors combined with sweet Spanish guitar are truly worth hearing.
There has to be a European/Spanish theme to this, or maybe even the artist as a whole that I don't know about. "Lisboa" has that same style we've been hearing, intertwined with... French, I think. The album, even in its saddest moments, has maintained this romantic air about it, which i believe is due to the musical treatment from overseas influence.
"Impossible Love" is downright sexy. I want to leave it at that, but I suppose I should elaborate, so I'll do it simply: french, strings, and a Spanish drag to them almost singing of a Tango.
Cute little horn lines throughout "If I Tell You I Love You." This one's cool because it's got these twists and turns musically, and a sounds of cute mystery. She's playing a game here with him, because the line after the title is said is "I'm lying." Sure, we don't condone the behavior, but given the nature of the song, I mean hell, everyone deserves to have a little fun once in a while.
"Goodbye" keeps up using the horns section in an interesting way, alongside the piano. These couple of songs sound like something straight out of a 20's/30's burlesque house. This style is unheard of these days, so it provides the nostalgic and novel all at once.
I think there's a male voice in here too, for "Se Voce Me Ama," but there's no credit given. Yup, they're singing together. It's a very slow, moving song, with a quiet sweetness about it. Again, voices hang on the breeze, un-pushed, and just playing out.
"My Heart Won't Have It Any Other Way" is so reminiscent of Ol' Blue Eyes. It sounds like there is a full orchestra behind her on a star-lit night. This, therefore, becomes a very sweet, classic sound of "I Love You" in a way we would rarely hear it on a new album today. This could easily become a new classic at weddings or dances (the ones put on by churches, not high schools).
Final song on the regular version (iTunes gives a few extras). "Iemanja" closes things out with the same opening Spanish rhythms, bringing the whole album full circle in a cool, different way. It sounds like the whole band is together in a circle, letting loose for this final time. There's sort of a bittersweet sound to the song, as it's a closing number, but happiness is strewn through there too. Not sure if anyone else gets these impressions from songs, but I like the images my own head decides upon.
Added To My Playlist (Yah know, if I could..):
- "So We Meet Again My Heartache"
- "If I Tell You I Love You"
- "My Heart Won't Have It Any Other Way"
So hey, that was an experience! For a new album, the sound was completely different, and that's a really good thing. Hearing someone go about music in an old style, despite the odd demands of the current industry, is just a really cool thing to hear. I have a lot of respect for this lady in that she sounds like she's enjoying what she's doing and how she alone is doing it.
This was taken from my on-going Grammys list, having been nominated for Best Surround Sound Album. Yup, that's a category! It was the winner, though sadly I'm listening on my computer, so I think I'll probably loose out on some of the reasoning. Nonetheless, let's take a listen!
BTW - no Spotify link because there isn't one. Going to try to listen as well as I can off online samples!
This was an album released in 1970. It's the only studio album ever released by this blues rock back, and often thought of as Eric Clapton's greatest work. The album itself has been inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame, so it's no wonder it picked up another one for this particular version. It's on many of the 'Greatest Album of All Time' charts, including ones for Rolling Stone and VH1.
This is the 6th release of the album, done in 2011 by UMC as a 40th Anniversary Remater. Originally on vinyl, this was 2 records, with 4 or so songs on each side.
This one's post Cream, and the songs are rooted in the Patti Boyd/George Harrison sadness on Eric' heart.
So, there we go - lots of history and accolades to take in. Let's get down to it now!
"I Looked Away" is the kick-off track. God I hate dealing with iTunes snippets. They never time them to the best parts of the song, and always snap out too soon. Here, at least, we're greeted immediately with a very familiar voice and sweet pop blues sound. No telling how this is as an opener, since I didn't hear the opening notes. Lyrically, clearly a blues song, with some heart hurting straight off the bat, even with that happy sounding drum set and guitar playing on.
So we know, it's in the title this time: "Bell Bottom Blues." I think I remember my mom singing this to me when I wore bell bottoms as they came back into style in the late 90's. Oh the good times of 6th Grade!! The songs slightly slower, and somehow maintains the old studio sound, even after the remaster attempt. It's just interesting in consideration.
"Keep On Growing" is an awesome summer day, even street fair song. I don't really know what makes me say that, but that's the immediate feel. If I'm hearing the word right, there's actually optimism here. Something's just slightly different here, as we get a more classic rock sound that lets you know what your listening to is from a different, even better, time.
The opening riff of "Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out," or at least what this snippet lead off with, sounds just like "Oh Darlin'" from The Beatles. Wacky. The song itself, of course, has its very own sound that will tug on you big time if you're in a bad place. Man, this is blue unlike anything I've ever really experienced. It's like this excellent combo of BB King and The Beatles all at once.
"I Am Yours" takes just a slight little island sound with the bongos and high guitar picks here and there. The rest of the music remains rooted in the original genre, but the added elements do make it just a little different. Combined, it's a slightly romantic, in a sad way, song going out from the heart.
I think it's the recording style (as in, not mixed in a typical way) for "Anyday" that turns me off on it. Things are jumbled, as though nothing is on its own track (which is how we're used to hearing things). This works, sometimes, but for some reason it's not sitting right this time around. Dear lord, please don't let me ears be going new-age jaded, please!
"Key to the Highway" is a good classic one. Roll down the windows, crank it up loud, and drive - from the sounds of what I've got, this is just a lot of awesome guitar playing over a great beat for about 10 minutes. It tells its own story with every mile. Ah, there's the lyrics. Oh whatever, I said what I said and I'm not taking it back.
A cool twist in blues is when a singer can turn on the raspy voice and add some grit and real feelings to a song, even when that song's far more upbeat. This is what I'm hearing during "Tell The Truth." It's more of a jam song than a work of art, but damn are they into it.
"Why Does Love Got to Be So Sad?" I mean, fantastic question, not to mention an honest as hell title. The sound of the song has the heart beating fast though - not nearly as slowly as I assumed it would be. It's almost like they're happy about asking it? The BPM here is off the charts compared to the rest of the album. My mind is all sorts of screwy with this one belting such a slick fast tune.
In a smokier blues number, we get "Have You Ever Loved A Woman?" Now, I've never seen a guy actually show this much emotion outside of a song itself, but if someone ever did feel this towards me, I'd be beyond honored. How would you ever turn someone down with this much emotion? The song's based in a blues piano line, and a singing guitar that has its very own part describing the underlying pain to the words.
"Little Wing" sort of sped by me, to be honest. I don't know where my attention went, but the sound was a little too familiar and a little too comfortable to make an impact. I suppose that can be a good thing though.
Next up is "It's Too Late." It's a steady rock-blues song about simply loosing the girl. The lines "She's Gone/Oh she's gone" overlap for about 5-7 repeats, making it very clear where the pain of the song stems from. This is a really simple, straight-forward blues song, and there's not much more you can ask for from it. Here's a performance of the song as done on the "Johnny Cash Show."
"Layla" is the title, and most well-known, track from this album. What's annoying to me personally is I have known this song most of my life and never realized they were saying "Layla." I thought it was "Lay Low." Love the song, nonetheless, even more now that I'm just a little more educated on the matter. See, there's always something good that can come out of these sessions!
The final song is "Thorn Tree In The Garden," and compared to the rest, it's almost completely out of place on the album. The high energy, despite the blues songs, has been infectious and has created an album with a sound all its own. The slower ending is just a downer.
Added To My Playlist (or would be if Spotify had clearance for this):
So, we're through one of the best albums of all time. Do I agree with the ranking lists? I mean, they've got a point - this is a fantastic piece of work. Is it going to be on my top of all time list? Eh, maybe not. But respect is given for sure when it's due, and it is certainly due in this instance. This is a masterful recording of songs with unexpected results to the ears.
NEW MUSIC TUESDAY!!!
Remember the lady who gave us "One Of Us?" Sheeeeeee's back! ThiS NMT focuses on Joan Osborne's newest album, Bring It On Home.
This album is actually a covers collection. She focused in on vintage blues and soul songs throughout. I can't get a good line-up anywhere of original artists, so for today, let's just focus on Joan's singing and arrangements of these great tunes.
Check it out over on Spotify!
The first song is "I Don't Need No Doctor."She's got some great funk and soul going on, giving me, at least, something I don't think I entirely expected. Don't hate me, but that one big song was the only thing I came into this familiar with, so this is a surprise. We've basically got The Roots backing her up, complete with horns and some sweet little tamborine noise that, oddly enough, brings the whole damn thing together.
"Bring It On Home" gives the title track for the album. It's a smokey little seductive song that lets Joan wale out some of those notes total un-inhibited. It's pretty damn impressive vocally, though not the best thing to ever be heard musically. Not that bad though, don't get me wrong.
Third up is "Roll Like a Big Wheel." Here's one with that rock harmonica you one hear from time to time in old Blues Brothers tracks. There's edge and grit to it, and seriously deserves to be on the long train ride across the US. If I could put this into a movie, one of an epic journey through the west would fit best - of course, that's if we were looking at a modern adaptation of an old story.
"Game of Love" has still got me astounded. This is a singer that could be mistaken by a big black woman instead of a little white girl. She's got a great and interesting set of pipes and is in it for the girl power we can get here and there. That little use of synth provides a whole other level and time of sound. Think Aretha's power songs in a more modern recording studio. Really, damn impressive.
The next one starts off almost with that old church sound. "Broken Wings" is a connection song, letting you feel the hurt but knowing there's someone who gets it. Think a sad night when you wander into a bar and just hear a singer who speaks to your soul. Okay, maybe you've never had that experience, but it can be the most depressing but satisfying thing ever. Music gets it. And I'm rambling a little, but that's about the only right feel I can get out of this as I let it play on.
But then we get a fun one with made up words! "Shoorah! Shoorah!" just lets her play on stage and enjoy the moment cute little old-bar piano going on. It's just a nice little number, even if the lyrics are maybe kind of mad at the dude causing the writing. She's free in this though, moving on with life and happy for it. Keep it going girl, good for you.
Another slightly sultry one, with that harmonica again. "I Want To Be Loved" is pretty damn understandable. I mean, who doesn't, yah know? At least she's being honest about it. The song has a very steady pacing throughout, keeping an excellent jazz club beat with light background singers giving a perfect compliment to her lower register of voice.
"That Same Love That Made Me Laugh" has this interesting little Woodstock feel to it, especially given the instrumentation. The guitar does me in - it's so interesting and silky, with this sweet effect that makes it sing its own line. There's just an awesome feel throughout the solo that makes it the high point of the song, when the rest is just sort of hanging there.
Oh we're back on that train, this time with a fun little dance added - "Shake Your Hips." No really, don't move anything else, just shake it! That's all she's asking for. I think it's been a little while since we've had an oddly folk dance instruction song, so good for you Joan. This one's fun and even breaks for an instrumental part that you can use the instructions for. I love the country essence of this song, because she takes it to the rock side of things. Just a fun, gritty little song.
"I'm Qualified" is really cute. It invites the guy to come and take a chance on her for love. What I think I like best about this one is the focus on the backup singers that's provided. They really get a chance to shine the way they appropriately should, while Joan lets go vocally with improve lines.
We slow things back down and break it more into the guitar feel of old with "Champagne and Wine." It's a tale of old lost love between two people and the memories they created. It's not a terribly in-depth song, relying heavily on repeating lines. It remains a nice memory though, allowing that and just that throughout.
"Rhymes" is the final number, and it's just a good uplifting message, where she takes the heartbreak we've been hearing about and turns it all around to be better. You're just left saying "yeah! Right on!" and wanting the best for her afterwords.
Added to My Playlist:
Man, it's rare to find a female voice with such a low, funky register that sings out in a cool sweet way. Hope y'all enjoyed this one as much as I did. While it's not going to jump to the top of my favorites any time soon, it is an impressive little gem amongst the rocks that deserves some recognition and good-time listening attention.
- "Game of Love"
- "Shoorah! Shoorah!"
- "I Want to Be Loved"
- "Shake Your Hips"
By request of one of the people I respect more than almost anyone else in the world, my high school drama teacher. And yes, I'm being completely serious.
So we know Mr. Hugh Laurie from his hit role as Dr. House on... "House." The guy who still amazes me in that he can go from British (his native accent) to American in no time. I know it's very ethnocentric of me to think that way, but it's really a cool skill! Of course, the man does it all - even performs the blues. There are collaborations here, as well as Laurie talking on the piano and guitar. It topped the blues charts here in the US, and peaked at #16 on Billbooard's 200. We were actually the last to get it - the album was released in France, Germany, and the UK a good 5 months before here!
Follow along on your own copy or Spotify with me and let's see what all the talk is about.
The immediate start off is Hugh's hands across the piano - and damn, he's been hiding this talent. "St. James Infirmary" isn't like the blues and jazz we've been hearing from these instrumental groups of late. It's is smoky and passion filled in a way only musicians can give justice to. It's not until the vocals kick in that the entire song takes a turn, and we're introduced to Mr. Laurie's crying voice, much like a muted trumpet. Again, this is something unexpected for someone who's only heard him on house, yet welcomed for its difference.
"You Don't Know My Mind" just seems so damn appropriate to this guy, for some odd reason. And looky there, he's got BGVs too. The beat's kind of great, and this time we've moved into more prominent use of guitar than the piano that we hear before. It's less elegant, but honest just as much in a different way.
Whoa, and all right, we take a very dark, deep turn for "Six Cold Feet." Good god. These kind of blues songs are tough - they are classic beyond all else, but give this incredible dragging feeling that can only be truly enjoyed in a live settings. It's just tough otherwise, as the whole thing just makes you need to put your head down and drown for a moment.
You get more of the same with even more horns for "Buddy Bolden's Blues." It's another dragging number that's getting harder to hear on a regular basis, but I do have a growing love for this man's voice. It's just got this rawness throughout the songs that is shockingly appealing.
"Battle of Jericho" re-defines what we've considered classic in this blog since our December start. This is a song we used to sing in Sunday School way back in the day, and many had before us. This is a real old Negro spiritual, and is based out of the Bible. Want to get more classic than that? Yeah, I think until I hit some of the old Gregorian chants on my Ancient World albums, we've about reached the pinnacle.
We're back to the blues and done with the spirituals for a few moments, with "After You've Gone." It's a pretty simple piano and bass song, and Dr. John is featured, with Hugh just letting it all go I suppose. It's a song of making them realize what they had when it's over, with an entirely classic sound.
Where he really lets go? "Swanee River." Just when you think it's going to be more of the same, the back picks up and we're thrown into an instrumental party of good times with all. They let loose and jam up until the end where it seems Hugh remembers he actually had a vocal part to this songs, sings it once more, and closes things out. You rock brother.
"The Whale Has Swallowed Me" has inklings of Jonah and the Whale all over it, as though this is his song from within, waiting for when the whale gets sick and lets him go. I may be saying that simply from the biblical allusions from earlier, and this could totally be about something else - like escape from hard times. But he, to each their own, right?
That glorious piano is back for "John Henry," which also features Irma Thomas. As harsh as some of the lyrics are (death, hammers, etc. - eh, it makes sense if you listen) - the voices are divine together. They flow brilliantly and make for a fantastic listen to a smoke little old folk song.
"Police Dog Blues" is simple - a man and his guitar singing of his nomadic life. The guitar plays its own part as his companion throughout, almost like a dog being our best friend as you go. Perfect campfire chill song, kind of lousy studio song late at night when you're laying around trying to find interesting things to say about an album. It's an easy one though - nice and easy.
The same can't totally be said for "Tipitina," a song that does bring, seemingly, the whole band on for the jam. Oh, and there he in on piano again. This is actually a cover from the 70s, hence the bit of funk involvement throughout the song. I could probably ignore every single vocal line in here (sorry Hugh) and be completely satisfied with this song on an instrumental leve alone. The horns provide this awesome time travel technique that just makes the entire thing whole. Here's a little background on the number:
"Winin' Boy Blues" takes on a little more light-hearted feel, if that's possible with blues songs. Don't deny him his chance to bitch about things going on, because that's who he is - there you go, message in one neat little package.
Seriously, the tone here does not mesh with any other time I've heard this guy's voice. It's driving me a little crazy, but I don't know if it's for the good or bad side of crazy. The song's only about a minute long, and based off of the old charleston chord progressions. It's a cute little filler number overall, right before we launch into the final few songs!
Duddeeeee Tom Jones. And Irma is back! This track's like a little gathering of the greats from this album and, obviously, a special guest, just to show off a bit. "Baby Please Make A Change" is not as upbeat as one (like me) might hope from such a compilation song, but it's a good and different one, utilizing strings and certainly giving Mr. Jones a whole new sound unlike anything I've ever heard before.
We end things out with the title track, "Let Them Talk." It's just this sweet lovely piano-based song, with the guitar taking care of the blues element so it's in line with the album's genre. It's beautiful and complete, and a prefect ending to this album. Excuse me while I drift off to love for a minute or so.Added To My Playlist:
Not the best cross-over into music I've heard from an actor, but really not a bad album at all. There's heart to the blue that's hard to always hit right, but he did a nice job of putting it into this one. It's just a lovely album as a whole, and a great venture into the blues.
- "You Don't Know My Mind"
- "John Henry"
- "Let Them Talk"
All right y'all, now that we're caught up on dates, we can start knocking a few of these out more of these nominees. Countdown to Grammys: 17 days!
This one is another nominated for Best Album Notes as well as Best Historical Album. And, oh boy, it's 5 CDs long. But it's only in a range from July 1927 through August 1928. For a little over a year, and at 20+ songs per album, that's at least 2-3 songs a week - impressive at the time for so much to get done so quickly, and by a variety of artists. That's dedication.
Not sure who's going to be dedicated and stick with me for the whole thing, but we'll keep it as condensed yet interesting as possible, promise.
I wasn't able to find these notes online to copy and paste into here for y'all. Some info though, that will at least let us know if it's something worth reading:
These were written by Ted Olson (an ETSU professor) and Tony Russell. While some call the notes to have a lingering sound of academia, they are still deemed very impressive. The two essentially wrote a short book on the sessions and background of the musicians and engineers involved. As far as the recordings themselves go, “Johnny Cash once said that the Bristol Sessions are the single most important event in the history of country music,” said BCMA Board President John Rainero. “It’s amazing that those recordings are still having an impact, even today.”
You'll remember some of these artists, and you'll never have heard of some of the others. Jimmie Rogers and The Carter Family are the two biggest names known when talking abou these sessions, but there are many, many more to hear from tonight.
Ever been to Bristol? I have. It's both in Tennessee and Virginia, and I confused the hell out of my GPS driving around looking for a GPA, because I went between the states about 5 times. It's actually a pretty cute little town - definitely more modern now, but one that always is my welcoming point back home to Tennessee.
Let's get on into it, as this is probably going to be one of those all-day projects. Let's hope Mr. Cash doesn't disappoint with his opinions. :)
Brewer, Mooney, and Stoneman bring us the first two tracks to get going. "The Dying Girl's Farewell" is a very raw recording, I believe telling of the times we're about to listen to. It's harmonized though, with very simple musical accompaniment. The do add a few more instruments to "Tell Mother I Will Meet Her," and we're still welcomed with the boys singing all together. The harmonies aren't polished, but I think that only adds to the down-home feel.
"The Mountaineer's Courtship" is the next one up, with Dunford and Stoneman. I've been trying to figure out if these were songwriters or the artists, but the site swears they're the performers - probably both though. Anywhos, eastern TN is actually pretty mountainy (my aunt was amazed by this the first time we drove through when I started college). The song is a cute back and forth on courtship and love. It's quite adorable really.
Stoneman takes on the next 9 songs, two of which are two separate takes of the same thing. He starts with "Midnight on the Stormy Deep" maintaining that same mountain feel. I think a lot of banjo is what we're dealing with here. "Sweeping Through The Gates" seems to be in the same vein, but with more singers accompanying him, and definitely more strings. The words are a little harder to decipher with so many involved though. The same goes for "I Know My Name Is There," a religious ditty, but this time with an echo of the choir. You can tell we're in the bible belt though, again, with another Jesus song next in "Are You Washed In The Blood?" Not complaining - these are the things that were the basis of so much of today.
"No More Good-Byes" is actually much more upbeat than I expected, but if I hear this out-of-tune choir one more time, I may scream. ...and I'm screaming. "The Resurrection [Take 1]" is just very hard to listen to, along with "The Resurrection [Take 2]" which sounds nearly identical. Just trying to remember that these were people with a passion for music who just wanted to sing. The continue to do so for "I Am Resolved [Take 1]" where there is definitely some kind of leader to the group, but he gets lost. It keeps happening in "I Am Resolved [Take 2]" and my final note is that, while my heart appreciates the past, my ears love technological innovations.
Taking over for the next 6 tracks is Phipps. We're in for more bible belt music, but sometimes there can be the best early-music gems among these. "I Want To Go Where Jesus Is" finally gives us a little different sound, and the mixing is a lot more polished. It was probably the arrangement in the room at this point in the history of recording - singers are arranged for a better balance of leads and backgrounds, since individually recorded tracks weren't happening yet. A familiar old gospel song "Do, Lord, Remember Me" shows it with some really great trade offs of solo lines and BGVs coming in for support. "Old Ship of Zion" brings the same thing in, allowing a lead without loosing him. "Jesus Getting Us Ready for That Great Day" sounds almost exactly the same melodically, but... sure, it's a different song!
In a funny little twist, we get a praise song in "Happy In Prison." I can only access clips of this album, so I don't know what the whole song is about, but it is oddly optimistic. I guess when your faith's that strong, you can find happiness anywhere. Phipps closes out his portion with "Don't Grieve After Me." I can't believe how similar a lot of these songs are. But I guess that's the reasoning for calling it sessions and not an album - this was a lot of experimenting and getting the sounds they liked.
Dunford and Stoneman hang out again for "What Will I Do, For My Money's All Gone," one of the first truly solo voices on a verse we've heard yet. It's kind of cool to be able to hear the record hiss as well throughout this. Oddly, like most people will probably tell you when they give it some thought, this is a comforting sound.
Dunford's alone for the next two, starting with another upbeat, strangely familiar sounding "The Whip-Poor-Will's Song." Someone's singing with him (the response if you hear it). He follows that up with something I never thought I'd hear recorded, "Skip To Ma Lou, My Darling." Whoa! Hahaha, I just love that this is coming from my speakers right now.
Again we get Dunford and Stoneman for "Barney McCoy." Same general sound, right? Don't tell me that music's different, because I hate lieers. It fits, for sure, but everything's been doing that.
Blue Ridge Corn Shuckers close us out with the last two songs, "Old Time Corn Shuckin', Pt. 1" and "Old Time Corn Shuckin', Pt. 2." The first finally brings a little different sound, as we are introduced to the band and what we're about to hear. The fiddle starts in on this awesome solo spot. Into part two, we've got more instruments going, and little to no vocals throughout either. It's a great old time jam session.
The Johnson Brothers kick off this next portion with four songs, the first of which are "The Jealous Sweetheart [Take 1]" and "The Jealous Sweetheart [Take 2]." We actually kind of slow things down a little bit! There's not much of a different between the two takes, to my ears, other than maybe a little more drag in the second one. "A Passing Policeman," I'm almost willing to bet, is a continuation of one of these takes. It sounds like another verse to the same story just based on melody alone. We only slightly depart from the same sounds for "Just A Message From Carolina" by a few little strums.
Reed takes on the next 6 songs. "The Wreck of the Virginian [Take 1]" and "The Wreck of the Virginian [Take 2]" are pretty simply done songs with a violin as the main, and seemingly only, instrument, completely following the singer as he sings along. "I Mean to Live for Jesus" is just a simple man's song of praise through everything, no matter what temptations are abound. It must have been so interesting to be a person of faith in the 20's.
"You Must Unload" continues to be string dominant, which I'll go ahead and say is Reed's typical sound. He also keeps up these early gospel/hymn songs as we move along. "Walking in the Way with Jesus [Take 1]" and "Walking in the Way with Jesus [Take 2]" keep that sentiment up. Ah, simpler times and simpler music.
We reunite with the Johnson Brothers for the next three tracks, starting with "Two Brothers Are We" (awwww). But holy cow, I am not a fan of that hallow, whine of a voice. "The Soldier's Poor Little Boy" continues the voice and the banjo dominance (which is easier to handle than the voice). But then, it all makes sense with "I Want to See My Mother (Ten Thousand Miles Away)." Honestly, they sound very much like Civil War songs, but who knows.
Watson does the next two. Looks like we're heading into blues territory, give the next three have it in the title. "Pot Licker Blues" makes me giggle a little every time I say it. Seriously, say it out loud and tell me you don't laugh a little. No? This is totally one of those few times I'm okay that no one actually reads this (though I'd love you to prove me wrong on that by commenting!). The song's not nearly as funny. Neither is "Narrow Gauge Blues" though there's a sweet harmonica part in it that I haven't heard yet in this collection.
Shelton starts us off in their 4 song set with "Cold Penitentiary Blues." There's lyrics to this one this time, yet the music sounds familiar of everything else we've been hearing. The voice sings of the blues aspect though. "Oh Molly Dear" picks it up with the banjo with this incredibly familiar style of old folk music that you can tell has to have been an influence on later artists. "Pretty Polly" sort of has the same feel for me actually. I'd be interested to see how many folk artists name Shelton as an influence, though they're more likely to say the Sessions in general. Shelton closes out with "Darlin Cobra," another pretty classic folk sounding number.
Karnes has the next 5 songs. He brings in this much deeper voice with more power behind it, and a clearer sound, right off the bat with his first one, "Called to the Foreign Field." This is much more of a soul turn than the rest so far. It continues into "I Am Bound for the Promised Land," which includes banjos. Normally, something like that sound, along with the next one, "Where We'll Never Grow Old," which is this sweet song, and would be even more so if it weren't religious (nothing against it, I just wanted a romantic one for a sec). His voice works for these themes though, and continues to do so with "When They Ring the Golden Bells." His voice goes a little funky as he tries to hit the higher notes, but I'll deal. We close out our time with Karnes on "To the Work," and thus ends our clear voice of song.
Nester joins in for the next two songs, starting with "Train on the Island." Not loving this... at all. Not the vocals at least. The fiddle work is really great though. "Black-Eyed Susie" kind of rolls on in the same manner, which is respectable from one perspective, and terribly annoying from another.
We end this CD with Moonshiners and "Johnny Goodwin." It's a much lighter fiddle backing and the voices are clearer. Sounds like a cleaned up version of a lot of the harder-to-listen-to music from earlier. Overall, a nice way to end this part out with a single artist.
If you're still with me, you're awesome. I may fall in love with you by CD 5 if you remain through the whole way. We've reached the point of the Carter Family for the next 6 track, beginning with "Bury Me Under the Weeping Willow." It's definitely a much more light-hearted theme than I expected, given the title. "Little Log Cabin by the Sea" sounds slightly almost exactly the same as the first song, but I guess when you get on a kick that works, you stick with it, if these albums have been an evidence. Even "The Poor Orphan Child" has a similar sound. It is interesting to hear female and male mixes again though, as we haven't heard it in some time. "The Storms Are on the Ocean" allows the girl to sing a little more out instead of as a backup to the male. They keep up cute songs with "Single Girl, Married Girl," but at least change the pacing a little and allow soloists to make a sound. It's the most different so far. We end out set with the Carter Family with "The Wandering Boy," another roughly similar sounding song as the others, but I'm still happy to hear a female taking center stage.
The Alcoa Quartet comes in for the next two songs. "Remember Me, O Mighty One" gives this pretty great blend of voices together, a cappella. It's not polished, but not awful. Same goes, in a different way, for "I'm Redeemed." Singers step out for small solo lines throughout, and the dynamic variances here make it a great piece overall.
"Henry Whitter's Fox Chase" is the start of Whitter's two songs, and it's got to be the most intriguing song yet in this set. There's a harmonica, and then there some other noises in there providing the beat of sorts. The harmonica in this, "Rain Crow Bill" is the song, and I believe there's more than one at place. Pretty interesting piece as a whole.
The Shelor Family takes on the next 5 songs, beginning with "Big Bend Gal." It's actually an interesting recording use of reverb and ambiance. It's only slight, and probably has to do with the actual recording set up more than anything, but I totally get the feel of a barn dance. That feeling continues into "Suzanna Gal." I don't mean it in any negative way at all - the instrumentation is very impressive - it's just the sounds and how they're hitting that makes me thing that. "Sandy River Belle [Take 1]" and "Sandy River Belle [Take 2]" have the same sort of party quality to them as well. Almost like we're live. They're final number, "Billy Grimes, the Rover" keeps it up, even with a simpler sound, like it's toward the end of the dance.
Mr. & Mrs. J. W. Baker (which I think is adorable to name your act as) bring us "The Newmarket Wreck." Not completely sure what to make of these two in the small snippet I got, but they're telling a story. "On the Banks of the Sunny Tennessee" sounds very similar, but you can tell there's another story being told here as well. This is definitely part of the roots of country music.
Rodgers does the next two songs, starting with "The Soldier's Sweetheart." Very simple with a guitar and a man, very reminiscent of early, easy-going country. "Sleep Baby Sleep" is the same way (actually incredibly similar). He lets his voice float a little that provides comfort.
The Tenneva Ramblers have the next three songs. "The Longest Train I Ever Saw" makes me remember why I hate vibrato. Okay, not totally, but the way peoples' voices shake sometimes is just hard to deal with. This is true when any note gets held out and played with too much. Anywhos, it's like a funny band on the porch for "Sweet Heaven When Die," and yes, I'm totally thinking of that scene from Family Guy. Then, to end, there's this just really funny sounding song, "Miss 'Liza, Poor Gal." Seriously, there's just something a little hilarious about it.
"Greasy String" is the first of the West Virginia Coonhunters' 2-song set. And now that I'm thinking about it, I can't get it out of my head - the violins in this completely sound like what a greasy string would probably sound like. Their second song, "Your Blue Eyes Run Me Crazy" is really just a funny little story about a southern girl. It's cute.
The Tennessee Mountaineers polish off this disc with two last songs. "Standing on the Promises" is first, and it's a choir basically, only slightly better than the early ones we heard. It's an old spiritual/gospel-ish song of sorts, almost in a march formation. Their song "At the River" is much of the same, and that's how we end out disc 3.
We've passed the halfway point! The Smyth County Ramblers kick off this set with two songs. Now, with a song name like "My Name Is Ticklish Reuben," I'm not sure what to expect. But, it sounds like your pretty classic fun fiddlin' song. "Way Down in Alabama" is much of the same. The voices here are quite good and blend well.
"Do Not Wait 'Till I'm Laid 'Neath the Clay" is the first of three songs from Karnes. His voice has much more of that down home quality to it, and his guitar is much clearer than previous ones we've been hearing. This continues into "The Days of My Childhood Plays," a reminiscent songs of days gone with good times and pleasant thoughts. Finally, he does "We Shall All Be Reunited" which keeps up an upbeat feel, yet his voice does give the sadness and hope that are needed for a song titled as such.
Phipps has the next 6 songs, beginning with clapping for the beat in "If the Light Has Gone Out in Your Soul." I mean, there's a banjo, but the people are into it as well. "Went Up in the Clouds of Heaven" has those same slaps in it, from here to there. It's going to bug me that I don't remember the term for that sound, especially when "I Know That Jesus Set Me Free" uses it in a different way (not just 1-2, 1-2, 1-2; there's rhythm here!). "Shine on Me" is a much slower song, and I have to say, the voices are not all that great. It's tough. We're back with "Bright Tomorrow" though, singing our little hearts out in a seemingly party in the studio. We end with the girl's taking over a lot of the prominent vocals for "A Little Talk with Jesus."
"I Cannot Be Your Sweetheart" is the first one from Howard & Peak, and it's just so sad and heartbreaking. Poor guy. Now, musically, it's pretty happy, but the story is a sad one. The same kind of sadness is actually very evident in "Three Black Sheep." The voices tell it this time, instead of the lyrics.
Greene's got the next two, starting with "Good-Night Darling." Just a sweet little goodnight song, almost like a cowboy's song before he leaves on his adventure. Oh damn it, now I'm just going to think of Westerns the rest of this time. "Little Bunch of Roses" is like his song around the campfire that night when they've parted and he's on his own.
The Stoneman Family's next on is "The Broken-Hearted Lover." This one doesn't come across as sad at all musically, but then again, the emotions of these are not screamed through their music, or lyrics, or sometimes even titles.
Dunford does the next two songs. "Angeline, The Baker" has a similar sound of what we've been hearing musically with harmonicas, but he voice is much older and worn, which makes it a much more interesting listen. He has the same manner in "Old Shoes and Leggins," using a very old familiar melody, and it's a nice little song altogether.
The Stoneman Family is next with "We Parted by the River Side." It's actually interesting to hear more than one instrument for a minute here, with guitar and harmonic, and maybe some fiddle. The voice is clear, and the use of mics is getting better.
Stoneman looses the family for the next two. (No one laughed at that joke other than me, I'm guessing.) "Down to Jordan and Be Saved" doesn't have quite the clear voice anymore. It's almost that sound of someone having cotton in their mouths. "There's a Light Lit Up in Galilee" is better though, with that clear familiar voice again, until the chorus comes in, and I have a feeling the family is back.
Oh, yes, they are, for the last four songs on the album. "Going Up the Mountain After Liquor, Pt. 1" brings on this little story, I think. It's kind of hard to understand. "Going Up the Mountain After Liquor, Pt 2" seems to continue it, though I'm still sort of confused as to what the hell is going on. We move on to "The Spanish Merchant's Daughter" in a totally different tone, and an interesting take on a Spanish girl. We finish out the disc with "Too Late," a song about being over it, from the sound. Nicely done.
Anyone out there still with me? This is the home stretch! The first six songs on this one are done by the Stamps Quartet, beginning with "I'll Be Happy." Pretty standard to what we've been hearing, but quartet implies harmonies throughout voices. The do so with "Like The Rainbow," giving the bass (extreme bass, by the way) a chance to shine in this main solo. I was waiting for a female voice (dumb, it's a male quartet) in "Because I Love Him" but it's a song for Jesus, not an earthly man. They continue with praises together for "Come to the Savior." "Do Your Best, Then Wear a Smile" is probably my favorite title of the entire set honestly. It's also got this Charlie Chaplin sound to it that is cool to hear. We end our time with the Quartet on "We Shall Reach Home." It's got a piano backing (I didn't even notice that with the rest of the songs - so awesome to finally hear piano going on) and is a much more slowed down, solemn number.
The Smith Brothers do the next two songs. "My Mother Is Waiting for Me in Heaven Above" does keep up the tone you'd expect, as hard as it is to hear these voices. It's at least got that's right. Their second and final number is "She Has Climbed the Golden Stair," and it's a lot more of the same from the sound of it.
Moving on to the Palmer Sisters, who give us the next four songs, starting with "We'll Sing on That Shore." These ladies have a great sound altogether. It's not quite beautiful, but they're solid, and continue that into "Singing the Story of Grace." "Help Me to Find the Way" keeps it simple. They only really use one small stringed instrument to accompany their otherwise a cappella harmonies. "He'll Be With Me" is their final song, and the lower harmonies help bring a richer sound to their close out number.
Tarter & Gray sing the blues, starting with "Brownie Blues" (which reminds me how much I need to finish this and eat lunch). It's most definitely got that nice folk blues feel to it; the guitar is fantastic. "Unknown Blues" has nearly the exact same sound, but there's different lyrics and just works as a general 'I've got the blues' song, even without good reason.
Carolina Twins take on the next 6 songs. "Where Is My Mamma?" still has the blues sound we've been experiencing, though this one sounds like it's from a couple of kids' perspectives. Frogie doesn't go this time, but "When You Go a' Courtin'" has a little harmonica lead in and instructions for what you're to do without him there. "I Sat Upon the River Bank" sounds almost exactly the same, no lie. I think I'm too used to variety to properly appreciate this. However, the Twins give a yodel and change it up a bit with "New Orleans Is the Town I Like Best." "She Tells Me That I Am Sweet" and "Mr. Brown, Here I Come" really do maintain the same sound, complete with yodeling, and close out this set.
We are on our final two songs! Shortbuckle Roark & Family are here to close us out, starting with "I Truly Understand, You Love Another Man." It's a mountain folk song, and, well, works for the title. It's understanding and not sad in the least bit. Just ready yo move on. And the final song for this 5-disc box set is... "My Mother's Hands" to close us out with the down home feeling.
Whew. We made it. Maybe - anyone still there?
Yes, this is clearly an academically compiled set, meant to teach of the times and the people who made it. These were the roots of so much folk and country that we've heard ever since, and it's a great set of music of the times.
Sorry for the mini-break! But we're back and ready to catch up and get going on these album reviews leading us toward the Grammys in February!
To start off on this review, we'll take a look at the solo album of Warren Haynes, which is nominated for Best Blues Album. If you don't realize who he is right off the bat, a quick overview: this is the kickin' guitar player we've seen with The Allman Brothers Band, The Dead, and Gov't Mule. He's always been known for his powerful guitar skills, and this album is bringing his strong vocal abilities to light for our enjoyment.
I'm just listening to the EPK from his YouTube account, and I'm already loving some of the clips we're getting exposed to. Yeah, it's, I guess, technically a blues album, but there is so much funk and soul from this guy too.
This is about to be an incredible learning experience and good time for all involved. I couldn't put it better than his site does: "For Man In Motion, Haynes draws on his dynamic gravel-and-honey voice and stunning six-string syntax to create melodies that frame the past with the present, fusing enduring themes of love, desire and loss with bristling undeniably contemporary energy."
Let's get down to it, shall we?
The title track, "Man In Motion" starts off and this is exactly what I mean about this no being able to be placed into the box of a strictly blues album. The vocals are strong and soulful like Michael McDonald, and the music has this fantastic beat that keeps you wanting more. Immediately, I want to hear this live too - there's that feeling it could be just as awesome, if not more. The music goes on for a while (it's a little over 7 minute long track), but it's the best jam music I've ever let play that long.
Warren's killing me with this album being unavailable on Spotify, and I'm having to revert to YouTube videos of performances because no one's uploaded the tracks like I've been able to find on other CDs. Good thing is that I'm able to share some sweet performances with you guys, like this one for the next track "River's Gonna Rise."
Definitely not who I would've expected to see behind that microphone, but man is it still good. This has that power song feel to it, like an anthem for today's age and a readiness for movement. I feel like I've either heard this or felt it before.
"Everyday Will Be Like A Holiday" most definitely has the blues theme to it musically, but is possibly the happiest blues song I've heard. He's excited to have her home, but the guitar isn't celebrating with him. Don't get me wrong - I love to feel to it, and enjoyed it overall - I'm just reading into in a little bit and that takes some getting used to.
And now "Sick Of My Shadow" is kind of doing the opposite. The title suggests a really sad, bluesy song, but the beat is up and the chords are major. The voice, at least, is a little more down. I think this is the kind of song that speaks of him as a blues artist and what drove the Grammy nomination.
"Your Wildest Dreams" punches with soul in a slow manner that just makes you want to close your eyes and sway along. It's a cry out to someone that you're done and it's up to them to do something about it. Musically, the saxophone has this fast instrumental break that sounds like a mini freak-out and panic attack. I like this one for the power inherent within, but it doesn't work entirely as a number I'd need to hear again.
We move into funk with "On A Real Lonely Night," and it's downright groovy from the get-go. The blues aspect comes in for sure with the lyrics, if that title doesn't make it obvious. Not really too much to say here; just kind of want to kick back and enjoy a bit.
"Hattiesburg Hustle" takes that beat to a way slower smokey-room, almost in a dark way. There's this awesome moment about a minute and a half in where the clean mic sound is completely stripped away, and it sounds like we're hearing him in a sort of bathroom-echo way, giving that ghost voice talking a bit. This is kind of why I love discussing music like this - there's so much more to it.
The saxophone takes back over with a vengeance at the beginning of "A Friend To You," but it turns to a completely different sound and song shortly after. I became less interested when a more regular rhythm started. It's a sweet song lyrically, trying to be kind of offering everything to someone. It's not there musically though - this is by far one of the more boring experiences on the album.
"Take a Bullet" was one I couldn't find an audio recording of, so I'm using live footage. Apparently he used this as an opener at a big show at the Paramount in New York. Lots of drums get it going, trying to amp the audience up (achieved, by the way). I think I've figured out the downside to Warren though - he doesn't show much energy in his concerts. Everything I've heard is an awesome aural experience, but not as great when I watch him live. It's all about the sound.
The final song on the album is "Save Me" and it appropriately ends the album in a much more solemn way, being a cry out instead of a party like the other ones. It's blues in a pop manner, instead of using the guitar we've sort of gotten used to being the backbone. It's a reflection of that power voice we talked about at the beginning, and it a great way to round out this award nominee.
Stuff I wouldn't mind hearing again:
This was really truly a good album though. I loved so much of what was brought to the table musically, and probably could go for jamming out to this endlessly on a night in or at a live show. It's really impressive the quality of musicality give on just ten tracks, and the combinations of styles was beautiful. It's a style of music I think everyone "likes" but no one truly listens to on a regular basis. This is a convincing argument for giving more a try for sure.
Bah. I'm so sick today. Barely have a speaking voice at this point, so I'll have to let the typing work. Luckily, today's suggested listening only has 8 tracks, so we'll be efficient with time!
Van Morrison is, yet again, a prime example of why I wanted to write this blog. This is music that I may have heard along the way, but have never given a proper full listen to. I'm excited to make this a part of my catalog of written-on albums.
This was released on Warner Brothers in 1968 (make it my earliest-recorded album to write-up on to date - hence, no videos today), as the second solo release of Northern Irish singer-songwriter Van Morrison. Some of my favorite type of people! Brown Eyed Girl was the previous hit, and this is described as a complete departure from it. Yet again, we have an album on our hands that's described as one of the best ever, being #19 on Rolling Stone's Top 500 Ever list (yes!), despite having not received gold status until 2001, over 30 years after its initial release. See people, numbers aren't everything.
There was a lot of record label drama occurring before this release. Bang Records, on which his previous album had been released, lost its founder (death), and a week later Van Morrison asked to be released. There was a whole slew of legal issues, and if you have the time, I strongly recommend reading the Wikipedia article on it. Some really interesting background for you music nerds like me, but not enough time or will to keep my eyes open tonight to go into it.
I'm going to stop reading Wiki info right about now, because they're providing a track-by-track analysis, and I really just want to go ahead and listen for myself. :)
"Astral Weeks" starts things off with a very folk sound that I, despite all descriptions read beforehand, had not expected. This is possibly one of the most delightfully relaxing and renewing songs I have heard in quite some time. It's a song in 3/4 with two chords than never truly resolve (even at the end) as a base, which keeps the song from dragging. The overlaying instruments are such a brilliant compliment that capture the spirit of the time. Why have I not heard this around a gypsy-hippy campfire before??
I have to admit, I took a glance at a few wiki descriptions during listenings of some of these songs. The one for the second track, "Beside You," reads "expressionistic poetry and a scattershot collection of images and scenarios... it's a song about being spiritually beside someone..." and I may already love it. Then, the song actually starts playing. If there is a strictly instrumental version with that classical guitar line playing for a few minutes, I may have just found heaven. "To never, never, never, never wonder why it's got to be..." whew. Wow. <3 How whimsical and freaking honest and deep in love is this song?
"Sweet Thing"... haha, someone please go listen to Keith Urban's "Sweet Thing" and see the likeness between the way they each say the words of the title (but Keith's is not a cover). It's adorable actually. AllMusic says that this is the only song that looks forward instead of back, but I have to say that I feel like a lot of these are actually taking place in the midst of love itself. Why not be in the moment for it after all?
"Cyprus Avenue" starts off on a music lighter note than the previous numbers, and seems to want to tell a story more than praise for someone else. It's somewhere he's been before, and he's taking this time to contemplate things in his life and that moment and what he wants to be doing with it. It's a reflective song, and there's a much more blues-based feel to this one. There's also a violin in the background that gives a much different, unexpected sound to the album as a whole. The instrumentation on this album is blowing me away. And as the lyrics go on here, there's definitely a bigger picture: "I'm caught one more time up on Cyprus Avenue." Ah, haunting metaphors.
"The Way Young Lovers Do" has a much more summer-of-love feel to it, and it a brilliant contract to a lot of the album's overall feel. It's got a jazz movement to it that you could actually hear in multiple types of settings happily. There's slight scat in it too. While it may not "fit" with the rest of the album as naturally as I may like, it can stand alone very nicely.
"Madame George" takes us back to that simple guitar, away from the brass we just finished hearing. It's more mellow, telling more about Cyprus Avenue, but this time on a character there. This one is very wistful and calm, and sets a scene completely beautifully. There's the violin (or harpsichord, since no violin is credited?) again, along with a light flute. This is just enchanting really. I just need to lay my head back and hear this a little while. Mhmm... it's time to move on... "Dry your eyes... say goodbye..." Then there's a pick up at the end. *sigh* This is too good.
My apologies. I needed to get a little lost in that one. "Ballerina" is up next. Lyrically, this is kind of sounding like prose, which sounds like nothing else in the world when set to music. It's fantastically interesting to listen to. Have courage, go for it, kind of message. I like that there's a bass beat behind it without there being a bass. Seriously - listen beyond the lyrics a little and hear that guitar arrangement. This is absolutely something you could hear an ensemble perform beautifully.
"Slim Slow Slider" is the final song on the album. It's supposed to be a song about a girl who's caught in something - a city, drugs, I'm not totally sure. It's intense without being too much. There's a different beauty to the instrumentation this time, with a soprano saxophone in the back that most definitely brings home the jazz/blues feel to the album. While I'm not sure this is a great ending to an album, it is a great sad song for everything it has. It even kind of falls apart at the end, so yeah, maybe it does work for its placement.
Stuff I Wouldn't Mind Hearing Again:8/8. This is a first! I think I knew this was going to happen about mid-way through the album though. I was completely entrenched in the music and lost in everything that was happening the whole way through. I don't normally get this into an album, but this was so unique and incredibly innovative that I couldn't help it.
The songs on here are incredibly long, but I didn't really realize it until I was close to the end of each and realizing how much I'd written with so much of the track left to hear. I didn't grow tired of any of the tracks. Like I said a few times - the instrumentation alone had me for the duration. There is such a fusion of jazz, blues, and folk that I have never heard before. The fact that his voice actually wasn't entirely pleasant didn't bother me at all, because everything else was so wonderful. I get the big deal here - this was truly a great album.
What are your thoughts on this one? Did you take a listen to it? Share!!
I was, admittedly, a big Kid Rock fan back in the day. In fact, I can't think of his name without hearing it the way they yell its in "Cowboy."
I knew dude was taking a turn in the last few years with the songs he's done with Uncle Kracker and Sheryl Crow, and I mean, good for him - he's trying out different things, maybe even growing up a little. He is 40 years old after all... But I may need to listen to "American Badass" to remember why I loved this guy years ago.
This is his 8th album and the very first to not bear a "Parental Advisory" sticker on the front. There is absolutely no need.
You'll see what I mean as we go through the track-by-track:
"Born Free," the title track, kicks things off. And immediately, you hear that this is going to be much more southern-American-rock than what we're used to from this guy. The lyrics speak of the big ticket items we think of in the USA, and the guitar screams Fourth of July. Woo. You embrace those roots buddy. All the way from Detroit. Here's the video:
We continue on this southern piano rock ride with "Slow My Roll." The only thing classic Kid about this is the voice itself, with it's really scratchy strained nature that makes him him. This is a sweet song, but I think it may be his explanation for the different sound in this album than the previous ones. He's definitely slowing things down for a different kind fo audience now, in a different kind of mindset.
I've heard this before somewhere, and really like it: "Care (feat. Martina McBride & T.I.)." There's a few things I love here: the gentle nature of the song lends itself to all settings, even a slower moment in one of his older concerts; Martina is a powerhouse and wonderful and I would have never seen this duet coming, let alone a trio with T.I.; lyrically, this is so good for today. You want to make a difference? Start by making this your theme. "Well I can't change the world and make things fair; the least that I can do is care." Here's a music video that was release for it, but doesn't include Martina... -_-
Bah. "Purple Sky," you fail to entertain me at all. It's a very highway-rock song, which is cool, but it doesn't have the flair that the greats have. I'm already getting bored with the sound of every song being far too similar here. I know this guy is better than this.
"When It Rains" is a very sad song, using the classic cliche, "when it rains it pours." While it's not one I want to hear regularly, this is one has been added to my new "Hard Times" playlist of music I need for depressing times. Yeah, I know, boo emo kid. But who doesn't need something like this?
"God Bless Saturday" is probably my favorite song on this album. It's the perfect blend of what we loved about this guy back in the early 2000s, and his new attempt at a different sound. And it's a good party song without those damn dance beats from a computer that drive me so crazy. I promise this will be playing next time I'm getting ready to go out on a weekend.
From the best to the worst, next up we have "Collide (feat. Sheryl Crow & Bob Seger [on piano])." I should probably mention that I despise Sheryl Crow for reasons I don't know how to explain. I like a lot of her songs - when they're done by other people. I don't like hearing her though (even though she has a decent voice), and I didn't want to hear her on this album. Regardless, I'll include their official video released for it:
Plus, the song is boring and whiny and I'm over it about 30 seconds in.
"Flyin' High (feat. Zac Brown)" is next. I really like Zac Brown Band on a casual listening basis, and it was nice to hear this familiar voice again. This is kind of an homage to home I guess, and it's a nice laid-back number. Really nicely done and a sweet collaboration.
"Times Like These" is another all-American song, but I like this one better than the others that have been coming up. It's more about working through things and enjoying them for what they are. You've got to embrace what you've got, kind of attitude. "It makes us who we are." Just a generally good message anytime in life.
I was expecting "Rock On" to be pretty old school and get us up and moving and enjoying it all. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. It's the slowest damn song on the album. Please put me to sleep now. Seriously, I just went through and deleted about 20 emails and it's still not over...
"Rock Bottom Blues" is a nice one. I know Rock had been embracing his Southern side in the past couple years, and this is a good display and thank you to all he's learned. It's got a great beat and that old muddy water background group keeping it going. Harmonicas abound. Good times.
Wait, where did this voice come from in "For the First Time [In A Long Time]"? It's way too high pitched, and yet I know it's still Kid singing. I would adore this song if it weren't for the voice range on it. Take it down like 2 octaves and I'd be more comfortable. There's just no reason for it, so I'm confused and unhappy.
"Care (Demo Version)" ends out the album, which I enjoy equally as much as the one with Martina. There's another singer there who has such soul, and gives it a completely different but equally wonderful feel. It's just great all around, again.
Stuff I Wouldn't Mind Hearing Again: (and can actually put on my playlist since this album's on Spotify!)
4/13. Okay, numerically, I didn't enjoy this album much. Hell, altogether I didn't enjoy it all that much. But there are a few gems that I'm really happy I pulled out of the dirt here.
Look, it's not that Kid Rock did anything wrong on this album or by taking a new route. I like a lot of what he attempted here, but a lot of it sounds all the same. I'm just bored by the same sounds over and over, and without lyrics that vary either, you're creating a boring atmosphere for the listener. They need more to grab on to for different states of mind.
And for the love of God Rock, if you're going to take a new musical turn, please wash your hair - it's the one really non-fitting personal trait about this whole venture.
Before you head out for the night, share your thoughts!!!
Damn it Spotify. I thought were agreed we wouldn't do this again. *sigh* Listening on YouTube again today.
I like a lot of The White Stripes' music, but I've honestly never listened to an album from start to finish. I figured starting with the big hit would be a smart way to go. Thanks to my cousin Christine for suggesting to do a write up on this pair, considering she's minorly obsessed with Jack.
Wikipedia cracks me up sometimes. I actually really love a lot of what's up there, because the information's not exactly horrible. But the descriptions are just funny sometimes. The White Stripes have been together since 1997, but "rose to prominence in 2002, as part of the garage rock revival scene." *giggle* Seriously though, if it's not obvious in general: this band works incredibly hard. Er, worked. They 'professionally split' in February of this year, after 6 studio albums, 1 live album, 2 EPs, 1 concert film, 1 tour doc, 26 singles, and 14 music videos. Oh, and their last 3 albums won the Grammy for Best Alternative Music Album.
They went pretty old school for the recording of this album, using an 8-track tape machine and gear that dated back form before the 1960s. No computers used. *glorious heaven light shines down* It's loosely a concept album based on "dealing with the death of a sweetheart," with only 1 song on the US released not written by Jack. I'm super stoked to get into this one as a whole now, so let's get to it.
Let's go ahead and kick things off with the video I know introduced me to this band, the video for "Seven Nation Army":
The red, white, and black theme was something embraced by the band during this album. It definitely became their thing. This song really doesn't hit me for any reason other than that riff. You know exactly what I'm talking about, don't you? It's super catchy. Yeah, it's stuck in your head now, isn't it? I've actually always found the video pretty annoying to watch more than once, though it does a really nice job of introducing the band.
"Black Math" is the second track. Ok, I get the garage rock comment a little better now, because that's what this one is bringing. It's a little difficult from listening, but the lyrics are pretty sweet and independent: "maybe I'll put my love on ice and teach myself, maybe that'll be nice."
"There's No Home For You Here" was the last single released from this album, but there's no chart positioning reported for it. It's very different and I can't hear it being a radio hit, even on the most alternative stations. It moves in rhythms and is jarring to the normal ear. This is the first one I can really tell there's an unpolished nature to the album in general. I'm conflicted on this one - I like about half of it - that's how broken up the music is.
Something I didn't expect to hear on this one was a cover, but we get a Burt Bacharach/Hal David song, "I Just Don't Know What to Do With Myself," along with a music video of a pole dancing Kate Moss (you've been warned):
It's not a bad song at all, but it is one I would probably listen to in a mood of total boredom. The video was directed by Sofia Coppola though, which is pretty awesome.
Meg takes lead on her one and only song on the album, "In The Cold, Cold Night." And so far, it's probably my favorite song so far. It's extremely simple and this is where that blues sort of feel takes center stage for their sound. There's still something about the guitar that's very clearly White Stripes still though.
"I Want To Be The Boy To Warm Your Mother's Heart" is the next track up, and has more piano than I would have expected. It's an incredibly honest song, and I'm not sure I've ever heard one on this subject before. It's exactly about what the title implies. He's trying here, he's really trying.
Dude, the first track in 3 that doesn't start with "I." Sorry, these are things you notice when you have to type every song title into the search bar on YouTube just to listen. Anywhos, "You've Got Her In Your Packet" continues this stripped down, gentler portion of the album. I'm going to make a statement here that may not jive for some people: this sounds like a much more mature lyrically, but musically similar, version of a Beatles song. It's actually a pretty interesting story - it moves; there isn't just one idea, it evolves slightly in what it's talking about.
"Ball and Biscuit"...? Okay, let's do this. Picking up the pace a little with that guitar (*swoon* by the way, there's a rock/blues feel). The whole song has an old blues feel to it, if for nothing more than his way of speaking lyrics against such a musically interesting background.
"The Hardest Button to Button" is the next track, as well as another single, complete with this video:
Um, wow, that was simple and simply incredible. I don't like the song, honestly. But the video is intriguing and so... ah, everything's to the beat. It's a pixilation animation effect. 32 drum kits, 32 amps, and 16 mics were used for the filming, and they were all donated to a school district afterwards. Again, I don't like the song, but this video may be on my list of favorites ever. Oh, and it was used in "The Simpsons":
"Little Acorns" starts with an intro voice (book voice from H2$ anyone?), giving us a story of hope. Then it gets into the more rockin' part of the song, and lyrically it's actually still pretty much about making more out of your life: "be like the squirrel" after all. (See, you have to listen to the song now to figure out what the hell I'm talking about.)
There are a lot of super trippy videos on YouTube for the next song, "Hypnotize." It's very much like the first couple of songs on the album, and lends itself to images fitting of the title. We're back to purely rocking out here.
"The Air Near My Fingers" doesn't stray too far from that same feeling. Apparently the middle of the album was our slow-down portion, and this is they're way of finishing strong? Maybe, we'll see how the other tracks play out. There's a cool kind of beat to this I guess, it's just lacking much of anything grabbing enough.
"Girl, You Have No Faith In Medicine" takes that rock amp up even higher. Jack's back to yelling more than talking or singing. I have to say, this makes me want to rewind about 5 tracks or so back. I get their sound, and I appreciate what he's doing with that guitar, but that solo is about all that's keeping me holding on to this one right now.
We finish up this album with "It's True That We Love One Another." This si the only song that wasn't recorded with the rest in a two-week period in April 2002 at BBC. It was instead done in November of that year at Toe Rag Studio. And it's totally different from the rest of the album. Bringing Holly Golightly in as an additional voice to tell the story is really crazy interesting. She's got quite a background herself in music, dating from the late 60's on in the UK. It's just an adorably put together song to end things out on a light note.
Stuff I wouldn't mind hearing again:
- "Seven Nation Army" - YouTube
- "In The Cold, Cold Night" - YouTube
- "I Want To Be The Boy To Warm Your Mother's Hear" - YouTube
- "You've Got Her In You're Pocket" - YouTube
- "Little Acorns" - YouTube
So 5/14 makes it seem like very few, but I enjoyed the overall sound of the band. I don't think they're a group that you can listen to a single track casually as part of a playlist. I think they need to be listened to all on their own without interruption by other band's sound. The White Stripes has to be its own experience. And it's a great one at that.
Take the songs picked rating with a grain of salt; there are some things that just need their own separate listen, and this is one of them. Elephant is a really great album all on its own, and this band does things you don't hear normally. It's fascinating.What're you thinking? Care and share!!