1001 Albums 0053-0054

Published May 15, 2014

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

0053: John Coltrane: A Love Supreme (1965)

This is one of those classic jazz albums that I’ve seen name-checked innumerable times over the years, yet never actually listened to.

I do understand why this album is held in such high regard. The progress made by rock and pop bands around the time this was recorded seems kind of modest in comparison to what these guys were doing. But musical progression doesn’t necessary equal emotional connection, and in this case there are only glimpses of a connection for me.

So, to sum up: like so many other jazz albums, I can hear that this is great music, and - except for a loooong drum solo and a looooong bass solo - it doesn’t annoy me, but emotionally it just doesn’t grab me.

Verdict: Objectively speaking: a great album. But not for me.

Listen on Spotify


0054: B.B. King: Live At The Regal (1965)

And here we have B.B. King doing what he does best, which is to play the blues. The only problem for me is that I'm not particularly fond of the blues. I'm aware that it's the foundation for rock'n'roll and all that, but more often than not I lose patience with it very quickly. The enthusiasm and shouted “comments” from the audience is the most interesting part of the recording for me. A glimpse into some kind of reality five decades ago.

Verdict: I'm unable to share the enthusiasm of the audience.

Listen on Spotify

1001 Albums 0051-0052

Published May 02, 2013

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

0051: Otis Redding: Otis Blue: Otis Redding Sings Soul (1965)

I love Sixties soul music. Most of the time I can't get enough of it. And I also love Otis Redding. Or at least I thought I did until I heard this album. Maybe I wasn't in the mood for it, or perhaps it's that I've heard so many of these Sixties recordings from the Stax and Atlantic labels - not only Redding's - so many times that their sound has become over-familiar.

Probably, though, the main problem was that I just don't enjoy listening to an album's worth of Otis Redding in one go. The vocal acrobatics become a little tiresome, quite frankly, much as I appreciate his talents. Some of the material also left me a bit indifferent. He does no less than three Sam Cooke songs on this album, but none rival the original versions and all of them sound a little pointless to me.

So, in conclusion, I guess the right way for me to listen to Otis Redding is as part of a Various Artists compilation or something. Fancy that. I guess you learn something every day.

Verdict: I really expected to love this, but to my surprise I didn't.


0052: The Beach Boys: The Beach Boys Today! (1965)
An album I've already heard.

No reservations here, or at least very few: I love The Beach Boys and this is one of their very best albums. What's not to like? 'Don't Hurt My Little Sister' sounds a little forced, perhaps. And the inclusion of the concluding spoken-word track 'Bull Session With "Big Daddy"' is inexplicable. But the rest is pure magic: fantastic songs, amazing arrangements (although the single version of 'Help Me Rhonda' is better than this first album attempt), gorgeous harmonies, uplifting joie de vivre on one track, devastating melancholy on the next - I don't ask for much more from an album.

ABBA fans: The opening track, 'Do You Wanna Dance?, is the one cited by Benny Andersson in the 1999 documentary The Winner Takes It All as an example of a record that sounds great, something that he wanted to emulate when he first started out.


1001 Albums 0049-0050

Published April 15, 2013

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

0049: The Sonics: Here Are The Sonics (1965)

This is a fascinating albums. Sonically (no pun intended) it sounds old and new at the same time: there were limitations in recording technology in the Sixties, but those limitations weren't so big that the recordings had to sound this "dirty". After all, most engineers would try to record everything to the best of their abilities, and any dirtiness would usually have to come from the bands' performances. And yet that dirtiness, that distorted sound, was there on this 1965 recordings, somehow making it sound like it was recorded at least 10 years later, at the height of punk, when many voluntarily chose a more raw and aggressive approach over a clean hi-fi-sound.

For me personally, this is one of those albums that I really think are great - there are quite a few  tracks here that would grace any Sixties compilation, such as the magnificent 'Have Love, Will Travel' - but because the energy level is more or less the same throghout the entire album, gets to be a little samey. I think I would have enjoyed the album more if they'd aspired for a bit more variation. But then that wasn't really what The Sonics were about, was it?

Verdict: Great, but an entire album's worth is too much of a good thing.

Listen on Youtube.

0050: Bob Dylan: Bringing It All Back Home (1965)

This album is famous as the one where Dylan "went electric" - at least on Side One, side two was mainly in his old acoustic style. It also features some of his most famous songs, although, as is often the case for me, I usually prefer other artists' versions of his tunes: better singing and no excessive use of harmonica. The nice surprise here, though, was Dylan's recording of 'She Belongs To Me', which I'd only heard in Rick Nelson's version before. So although I realize that this album is extremely important in rock history and influenced everybody and his mother, that tender and low-key recording of a really nice song is what I'll take with me from this listening experience.

Verdict: Many great songs, but the performances get in the way for me.

Listen on Spotify.


1001 Albums 0047-0048

Published April 06, 2013

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

0047: Buck Owens And His Buckaroos: I’ve Got A Tiger By The Tail (1965)

Like many of the other country albums featured in this blog so far, this is a very appealing collection of songs. And like those other acts, I've been aware of Buck Owens' existence, but never delved much into his recordings - for me he's mainly familiar as the originator of 'Act Naturally', as covered by The Beatles on their Help! album. And, of course, he was featured in my Advent Calendar last year with the fab 'Santa Looked A Lot Like Daddy'.

Everything on the I've Got A Tiger By The Tail album is expertly played, performed and produced, as you'd expect from a country album from this era. Also, similar to much of the best country music, many of the songs here deal with heartbreak, but Owens sounds equally happy and energetic on virtually all of the tracks, no matter what their themes might be. It's almost as if his attitude is, "Well, it's a drag when things turn out like that, but, hey, there's not much you can do about it: onwards and forwards!" Somehow he makes it work.

Verdict: An excellent album which I'm very glad that I got to hear.


0048: Jerry Lee Lewis: Live At The Star Club, Hamburg (1965)

Gosh, they really like live albums in the 1001 Albums book. Jerry Lee Lewis is of course one of the great rock'n'roll performers, and there's no faulting the performances and the energy levels on this particular album. But at the same time my usual reservations toward live recordings applies here: it feels more like a document of that night than an interesting musical experience, as if you're eavesdropping on a lot of people having fun but you're not allowed to join them.

Verdict: Not a bad album by any means, but nothing I feel like hearing again.


1001 Albums 0045-0046

Published March 23, 2013

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

0045: Dusty Springfield: A Girl Called Dusty (1964)
An album I've already heard.

This album has a great title and a great sleeve image. And the music on it? Well, I'm a huge fan of Dusty Springfield, but I don't think her début album is her very best moment. Mainly consisting of a lot of cover versions, Dusty's recordings are fine but seldom equal or better the originals, although her versions of 'My Colouring Book' and 'Wishin' And Hopin'' are excellent. With age I've found myself moving away from Dusty's sometimes "yell-y" (if that's a word) singing style on her early recordings, and preferring her recorded output from the late Sixties and early Seventies. So, A Girl Called Dusty is not my favourite album - but the title and the sleeve are absolutely fantastic.

Listen on Spotify.

0046: The Rolling Stones: The Rolling Stones (1964)

I'm not a super-huge fan of The Rolling Stones, although I love much of what they did during the Sixties and Seventies. I've heard most of their Sixties albums, except for this, their début, which I've never seen reason to seek out. Most of the British bands of the early Sixties relied far too heavily on blues and r&b covers, and that doesn't interest me so much.

Having said that, I enjoyed this album more than I expected. I believe I had only heard 'Tell Me' and their version of Chuck Berry's 'Carol' before, so the rest of the album was completely new to me. What I'm hearing is "wow, it's such a lot of fun to play this music and we've even written a couple of songs ourselves!" That enthusiasm is quite contagious, and the album proves that Mick Jagger was always a great singer, although it has to be said the playing is a little shaky and out-of-tune here and there (particularly on 'Honest I Do').

At the end of the day, as far as albums are concerned, I agree with most critics in saying that the Stones' output from 1968 to 1972 is their best. However, I also like the "pop" Stones of the mid-Sixties, when they released magnificent single after magnificent single. But this album: I'll probably give it a pass in the future.

Verdict: You can't fault it for enthusiasm, but it's hardly essential listening.

This album is not available on Spotify, but I've put together a Youtube playlist of the individual tracks.