1001 Albums 0039-0040

Published March 12, 2013

My continued journey through the albums featured in the book
1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.

0039: Charles Mingus: The Black Saint And The Sinner Lady (1963)

As I gave this album its first spin I had just listened to Agnetha Fältskog's new single 'When You Really Loved Someone', which couldn't have been more radio-friendly if it had put its arm around Mr. Megaherz and offered him a friendship ring. It was quite a aural shock, then, to move on to a Charles Mingus jazz album that could very well be described as the complete opposite of radio-friendly. What struck me is how progressive, modern and forward-looking this music sounds, 50 years after it was first released, perhaps suggesting that the limit for what we will accept as listenable music was defined several decades ago.

For me, personally, I don't get so much out of this music, at least not as a complete listening experience. It is an album of contrasts: some sections are very beautiful and seductive, while others are more unstructured and atonal, and, therefore, less than easy on the ear. So although I was glad I listened to it, enabling me to acquaint myself a bit with one of the jazz greats, I found myself longing for something more radio-friendly.

Verdict: Interesting to hear – and I really mean that – but not an album I truly enjoy.

Listen on Spotify.

0040: James Brown: Live At The Apollo (1963)

Here's one of those artists who are regarded as one of the most ground-breaking and trend-setting performers in the history of popular music, yet who has never captured me completely. I love many of his hits, and I do recognise his importance in the development of soul and funk music, but listening to his music at length I often end up feeling "pestered", for want of a better word, by someone who keeps nagging at me and just won't go away.

Like the Sam Cooke album I listened to a few days ago, this album, which I've been aware for many years is regarded as a super-classic, is certainly extremely lively, expertly performed and so on, and enjoyable on its own terms, but I wasn't blown away by it.

Verdict: Lots of energy and great singing, but surely, the studio-recorded versions of most of these songs must be better?

Listen on Spotify.


Charles Mingus: The Black Saint And The Sinner Lady.


James Brown: Live At The Apollo.