Continuing a half-assed tradition, these are albums I liked that were new-to-me in 2019, and some honorable mentions. Many from used stores, not all. In no particular order, just as I am scrolling through my 2019 Albums iTunes playlist, and queuing ‘em up…
Bob Dylan – Travelin’ Through, The Bootleg Series, Vol 15, 1967-1969
Dr. John (RIP) – Desitively Bonnaroo (meh)
Dr. John – In The Right Place (thumbs up)
Dr. John – Remedies(includes the nearly 18 minute song, “Angola Anthem”)
Janelle Monáe – Dirty Computer (thumbs up)
Albert Collins – Don’t Lose Your Cool(thumbs up)
The Long Ryders – Final Wild Songs (compilation of their 1980s albums, a couple I heard on vinyl back in the stone ages)
Jenny Lewis – Acid Tongue (thumbs up)
All The Young Droogs (box set of glam-rock singles from obscure UK bands from the mid-70s, thumbs up)
Billy Gibbons – The Big Bad Blues (thumbs up)
Otis Rush – Cold Day in Hell (replacement of a well-worn vinyl record purchased from Antone’s Records vinyl record adjunct on Guadalupe, is that even still in existence? Doubtful)
Neil Young & Crazy Horse – Colorado (thumbs up)
Neil Young & The Stray Gators – Tuscaloosa (1973 recording, released this year)
Bob Dylan – The Rolling Thunder Revue – 1975 recordings (another box set from Bob’s deep library of unreleased material)
Tangerine Dream – Zeit (Spooky)
Jenny Lewis – On The Line (I decided I enjoy the lyrics written by Jenny Lewis, and bought three of her solo albums)
Mulatu Astatqé – New York – Addis – London: The Story of Ethio Jazz 1965-1975 (Enthusiastic thumbs up, discovered via this Joe Tangari, Pitchfork review, “boogaloo, Latin jazz, and other Americo-Caribbean forms” mixed in with pentatonic Ethiopian melodies)
Beatles – The White Album box set (including the legendary Esher Demos)
Albert Collins – Frostbite (another replacement of something I wore out the vinyl version of)
Hindu Love Gods – Warren Zevon, with R.E.M. as his backing band, performing covers of songs like Travelin’ Riverside Blues, Raspberry Beret, Vigilante Man, etc. Fun, sloppy, which is part of the fun…
Jenny Lewis – The Voyager (thumbs up)
Gene Clark – No Other (deluxe edition, including demos, replacing an older CD I still own)
Plugged headphone into iPod containing 27,773 songs1, hit shuffle, and here’s what emerged. Added a two mile run on the treadmill to the beginning of this mediation, which did require me to skip an 8 minute cello piece; cannot keep a steady pace unless the music is moving too.
The vocals aren’t quite as tightly wound, and there is a flub in the last minute or two2, otherwise this could have been the final version. Thinner sound, perhaps, were there over-dubs on the final release?
is this about a prototype of Viagra? 1979 seems a little early to be singing about a brand new pill that Grandpa takes that causes him to regain his, umm, energy for lovin’. Filled with tasty Ry Cooder guitar licks, of course.
A favorite concert of recent vintage was in Manhattan a few years ago, at some benefit hosted by Bonnie Raitt. For me, the highlight was Thomas Mapfumo. Such a voice, full of expressive power with a hint of melancholy. A musical hero of mine.
Buoyant pop tune, you’d never know that John Cale was the glowering rocker clad in black on the Velvet Underground’s first two albums just a few years prior to this album’s release in 1973. Some of the lyrics are obscure to me, but the melody compensates. Also, I’ll have to check, but that sure as hell sounds like Ry Cooder playing some slide guitar. You should probably own this album if you don’t, highly rewarding.3
Led Zeppelin– The Song Remains The Same
Conspiracy Theory Bootleg recording from 1975, to my ears, not recorded from the soundboard, despite. Still pretty good quality, so maybe it is from a soundboard. Not Jimmy Page’s finest guitar solo – it is kind of formless, and John Paul Jones is mostly buried in the mix, but John Bonham sounds fucking loud, possessed, and Robert Plant assures you everything small will grow. If you like Zepp, you should have this.
Fred McDowell’s voice and his guitar perfectly in tune, limited range, but extremely powerful. In the days before Yelp!, one had record one’s complaints in song form, and hope for compensation. Whatever that Red Cross Store did to Mr. McDowell, they should be sorry. Damn. Probably racial, at least in part, but who knows. All we know is that he’s not going to that store any more.
Probably my favorite box set of 2009 was the Big Star collection. Remastered, and filled with transcendent moments, including songs like this one. Love the backing vocals going “whoo-oooh”, among other subtle touches.
Damned, The– Noise, Noise, Noise
Machine Gun Etiquette
I know The Damned are punk-rock legends, but this song doesn’t do much for me. Not that it sucks, but I’m not picking the needle up to play the tune again
In Grand Theft Auto, music plays on the radio in any car you steal. As the GTA franchise has gotten older, the soundtrack has gotten more expansive. This box set is actually pretty good, even though this heavy rock song is on it, not my typical listening.
such an unusual loping vamp in A and E5. R.E.M. covered the song , but the original is better. Love this song, love this album.
Part of the fun for me of this project is stretching my memory: can I remember what my impressions about a song are later when I am in front of a computer? Listening to music is, and has been, my most favored hobby for nearly my entire life, but I would not assert that I am an astute critic of what I hear. I’ll never get better explaining what I like and don’t like unless I try. Odds are, I’ll tire of it soon enough, and go back to mostly blogging about politics and corporate corruption.
Delightful West African release of Afro-funk etc. If The Talking Heads were not listening to artists covered on this album, I would be very surprised. Chiming arpeggio guitars, funk drums, driving bass lines, infectious poly-rhythms, great fun.
A near-Desert Island disc. Still debating whether to splurge on the BluRay Neil Young archive Vol 1 or not. If it doesn’t include regular audio files that can be converted to MP3 and played on an iPod, will hardly ever listen to it. This lovely song is acoustic guitar, with backing vocals by what sounds like Stephen Stills and maybe even David Crosby.
I lean towards political reggae more than “sweet” reggae, but this is a decent enough “sweet” reggae tune. Can’t always listen to songs of institutional oppression, right? This is a good album to own if you want to branch out beyond Bob Marley, especially since Joe Higgs was extremely influential on creating the classic Wailers sound, mentoring Marley and Tosh in the early 1970s.
Before George Clinton decided if Parliament-Funkadelic was a rock band or a funk band, they recorded this album. Other than a somewhat annoying organ solo, a great tune. A template for all the Red Hot Chile Peppers and like-minded bands to follow; reverbed-like-crazy rock guitar, coupled with driving New Orleans style funk drums. Still remember purchasing this album from the now defunct Sound Exchange next to Mad Dogs and Beans and Les Amis. Ahh, youth.
Johann Sebastian Bach – Bach: The Well-Tempered Clavier [Disc 1]
Bach: Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1 – Prelude #12 In F Minor, BWV 857- Leon Berben
Reign– Padre Nuestro
Silencio= Muerte: Red Hot + Latin Redux
am a sucker for the Red Hot + comps. This a latin dance-club tune, or what I would call so anyway. Good in small doses
I don’t know this for a fact, but strongly suspect Jerry Garcia was in the depths of his heroin addiction when this dirge was recorded. Waltz-time, but slower. Though, to be fair, it is a funeral song, and has some fine mandolin bits, and bit of the High, Lonesome wild mercury sound that Bob Dylan is always muttering about. Not a shite song, just wouldn’t be good to listen while biking the lakefront, your bike might keel over.
Dylan, Bob– You Ain’t Going Nowhere
Genuine Basement Tapes
I wish these delightfully fun tracks would get a proper release. They float around on the internet, but the bit rate is often low. Bob Dylan and The Band hanging out in Woodstock, having a probably illegal amount of fun. Lots of silliness, like in this track, probably one of the ones where the lyrics were written randomly1 by committee2; Richard Manuel backing vocals, and some classic Robbie Robertson guitar work. Wonder if Robbie Robertson’s copyright theft from the rest of The Band is part of the reason these songs have never been given a proper release?
The Mamas & The Papas– California Dreamin’
All Time Greatest Hits
I first heard this band only a couple of years ago, before the whole incestual/attention grabbing news about John Phillips and his daughter, but the song is a classic slice of Americana, evocative of the time in which it was created. Undercurrents of foreboding, minor keys, but so damn catchy.
just pick up that oilcloth/cram it in the corner/I don’t care if your name is Michael/you’re gonna need some boards/get your lunch/you foreign bib/you ain’t goin’ nowhere [↩]
this particular Basement track was polished up, all that remains on the Genuine Basement Tape version is the chorus [↩]
other than the nice Carter Family-esque guitar playing1, not a favorite. They have much better songs in their oeuvre, some of which are even on this album, like My Old Drunk Friend which is a classic.
Swanksalot Orchestra, The– Dancing Bull
Swanky Headroom III
a tune composed, mostly in GarageBand, and not one of my most successful, I’m afraid. Thought it would be fun to record a bunch of guitar riffs and merge them, but it didn’t turn out that well. Oh well, still fun to hear fruit of my labor from 4 years ago. Hadn’t listened to it in a while.
I like the idea of Pearl Jam: earnest, Pacific-Northwesterners, with political views close to mine, but truth be told, have never really have enjoyed listening to their music. Boring to me, this song included.
classic reggae tune from The Harder They Come soundtrack, a Jamaican blaxsploitation film that is worth Netflixing if you haven’t ever seen it. The Melodians biggest hit was Rivers of Babylon, Sweet Sensation is solid, just not as good.
fun, bouncy track, a homage to early 70s funky-soul, or whatever the hell it called, complete with slightly risqué lyrics.
ChickenFat Klezmer Orchestra– Ot Azoy
Surprisingly good stuff from a local band; need to go see them perform live one of these days. They have several MP3s available at their website, check it out.
Today’s play list had a few duds on it, guess that’s part of the randomizer fun. Better luck next time…
bass strings of the guitar playing a melody, in other words [↩]
Like this pulsing bass line a lot, and actually this song is really growing on me. The band has a new album coming out early next year, I’ll probably pick up a copy.
Destroyer– European Oils
2006 Pitchfork Music Festival Sampler
I went to the Pitchfork Music fest this year2, I think, but I don’t remember seeing Destroyer. Probably would have been fun, as I like the album this song is taken from.
Louis Jordan & His Tympany Five– You Will Always Have A Friend
Disc E: 1949-1950 you will always have a friend, as long as you have money to spend. True, cynical, but true. Recently picked up a 5 disc box set of Louis Jordan: a slightly forgotten, R&B jump blues jokester from the 1940s and 1950s. Highly enjoyable. This is a danceable calypso-esque song, with horns, drums, piano and percussion.
With Q-Tip providing additional vocal contributions, one of the better tracks on Ill Communication, the last great album the Beastie Boys released, so far anyway. Ma Bell got the Ill Communication. Indeed.
speaking of ululation, this track from one of my Desert Island discs3 has some funky background vocal effects. I suspect Peter Tosh is making sounds with his mouth emulating a cat purring, but who knows. Lovely track, not my favorite on this album, but every song by the classic edition of the Wailers4 is excellent in my estimation.
O’connor, Sinead– All Apologies
and speaking of trills and spills, love how O’Connor’s Irish brogue is noticeable on words like marriage, buried. Also imagine she sings in the son I feel as one, instead of the Kurt Cobainin the sun I feel as one, but I could be wrong.
Bill Callahan’s5 decent, observational song about a girl who danced by herself so hard she became a diamond, gave the world her light. His baritone is so emotionless, he probably irritates you or enthralls you, depending upon your mood.
Modern garage rock, slightly derivative6 but still quite fun. One could compile an eclectic mix of Stagger Lee songs, ranging from the original recorded versions of bluesmen from the 1920s and 1930s, to the R&B versions in the 1950s to the 1960s British blues-rockers to The Clash to Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds to The Black Keys. That Stagger Lee is a bad motherfucker.
Another edition of Songs That Randomly1 Played While I Was In My Meditation Pod. I’m not good with “Best Of” lists, as my taste are too mercurial to lock down, so these meditations will have to suffice…
One of my favorite new(ish) discoveries, and not just because Calexico were chosen to be the house band for the Bob Dylan soundtrack album, I’m Not Here. This is a cover of a great Minutemen song, from their best album,
and just not any cover, but a conjunto-esque mariachi version with fiddle, horns, etc. that swings. Highly enjoyable.
The Dillards– Lemon Chimes Where The Action Is!: Los Angeles Nuggets 1965-1968
I love garage rock, love these Rhino compilations, though this song has more of a bluegrass vibe. Written by Dewey Martin, later of Buffalo Springfield. 2:37 seconds only – must have been released as a 45 single.
Johann Sebastian Bach – Bach Edition, Vol. 4 – Cantatas, Vol. 1 [Disc 3]
Bach: Cantata #72, BWV 72, “Alles Nur Nach Gottes Willen” – Alles Nur Nach Gottes Willen- Ruth Holton, Sytse Buwalda, Etc.; Piet Jan Leusink: Netherlands Bach Collegium, Holland Boys Choir
I bought a lot of new-to-me classical music last year, not least of which was the set this piece came from, The Complete Bach2- 155 CDs worth. Still haven’t finished playing the entire thing, much less converting all the discs to MP3.
Green Day– Last Of The American Girls
21st Century Breakdown
Don’t understand why this band is so celebrated. Singer’s voice is irritatingly thin3, and the music seems very paint-by-numbers. Boring, in other words.
One of my favorite purchases in 2009 is this Willie Nelson album. Naked is not quite accurate description, Willie Nelson and long-time harmonica player Mickey Raphael just removed the schmaltzy strings and slick backup vocalists, and left vocal, bass, drum, and slinky jazzy guitar, remixing from the original multitrack tapes. Awesome in fact. Get a copy if you don’t have one.
John Barry– Boom Boom! Soundtrack
As much as I love Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, haven’t yet managed to sit through this film.
Jerry Jeff Walker– North Cumberland Blues
Vanguard Visionaries – Jerry Jeff Walker
Surprisingly good, funky blues-rock with a nicely insistent bass line. Let’s have another round…
Terry Hall & Mushtaq– Ten Eleven
Music is your Radar
part of an Uncut Magazine sampler put together by Damon Albarn celebrating Honest Jon’s Records. Terry Hall4 sings the chorus in English, Mushtaq5 sings the verse in Arabic6. Quite good in any case. I just ordered a copy of the album it came from, The Hour of Two Lights.
Johann Sebastian Bach – Toccata and Fugue in D Minor for Organ, BWV 565- Klemens Scnorr
The 99 Most Essential Pieces of Classical Music
thought this was the Ozzy Osbourne song, Mr. Crowley7at first, probably because I think it is nearly the same opening riff, plus lots of trills / triplets / whatever-they-are-called.
13th Floor Elevators– The Kingdom Of Heaven (Is Within You) (stereo edition)
My birthday splurge was the limited edition remastered version of all extant 13th Floor Elevators songs in a beautiful box set. Austin garage rock legends,8 this song has, as most do, some weird stuff going on in the background, and ends with a patented Roky Erickson scream.
one of the weaker tracks on a pretty good album (blogged about here). Something about being broke, and getting money from Western Union, 15 minutes away. I prefer the more political-oriented songs, this song sounds like filler.
again using the iTunes smartplaylist, This Years Models; criteria – added to library this year, more than 4 plays, not played in last 19 days [↩]
I think: album blurb says: In 2003, Hall collaborated with Mushtaq of Fun-Da-Mental on the album The Hour of Two Lights which contains contributions from a twelve-year-old Lebanese girl singer, a blind Algerian rapper, a Syrian flautist, Hebrew vocalists, a group of Polish gypsies and Damon Albarn. [↩]
are they really brothers? More alt-country, but this album and band has really grown on me.
Joni Mitchell– Coin In The PocketMingus
Charles Mingus talking about always having a little coin in his pocket. Not rich, but enough.
Psycho Acoustic Sounds– Covered Wagon
Godzilla vs. Ralph Records
just like it says. Quick, full of energy, fun, but not music to play during family dinners.
Ludwig van Beethoven – Symphony No. 4 in B-Flat Major, Op. 60: II. Adagio- London Symphony Orchestra
I don’t know all that much about classical music, still, even after listening to it for more than half my life, but love this symphony. Also, in part because of my lack of musical training, I often visualize playing electric guitar in accompaniment – mostly on the sustained notes – whatever they are, oboe? French horn?
a very jazzy number, with fretless bass, slightly amorphous melody, some scat-singing by Joni Mitchell, an organ or vibes player that I could do without. All in all, an interesting song, but not a toe-tapper.
Non-Sequitur alert: a random playlist, as generated tonight during my meditation1. Ignore the goofy formatting and crazy number scheme, I made a typo in the HTML, and didn’t want to go back and redo all the code.
There are white folks, and then there are ignorant motherfuckers like you…
Micachu– Eat Your Heart
meh, some free track from Amazon.com
Johann Sebastian Bach – Bach Edition, Vol. 5 – Cantatas, Vol. 2 [Disc 4]
Bach: Cantata #98, BWV 98, “Was Gott Tut, Das Ist Wohlgetan” – Was Gott Tut, Das Ist Wohlgetan- Ruth Holton, Sytse Buwalda, Etc.; Piet Jan Leusink: Netherlands Bach Collegium, Holland Boys Choir
Louvin Brothers, The– There’s A Higher Power
Satan Is Real
Check the album cover. Nuff said. Actually a great LP.
I’m lucky that I didn’t have a copy of this Nico rarity2 during my drug-addled youth, such a perfect song to listen to after being up for a few days straight on whatever. Not that I’d know about being up for days on end. That must have been someone else. Sounds like Nico singing, John Cale on squeaky viola, and Lou Reed on electric guitar, as far as I can tell.
Iggy sounds like a thug here on the title track to the Repo Man soundtrack, love it. Bought a copy of this CD, used, this year, replacing my original vinyl version. Such memories invoked, of being a angsty-teen, of wondering what life would be like as a punk-rocker, etc. etc. I’m looking for the joke with a microscope!
No idea where this song came from, but it isn’t bad. The singer has a slight lisp, but the acoustic guitar work is nice, and the lyrics are poignant and pointed enough to notice, about world unity. I’ll have to look for more music by this guy.
Dubliners, The– Molly Malone
Seven Drunken Nights
This even goes further back: I remember learning this song in Mrs. Sullivans’ Fifth Grade class, South River, Ontario. I recall singing enthusiastically, in our children’s tenor voices.