1001 Albums 0061-0062

Published May 30, 2014


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


0061: The Beach Boys: Pet Sounds (1966)
An album I've already heard.

Oh my. So much has already been written and said about this album that I'm not sure I have anything significant to add, except that I admire it deeply. Everything here is just wonderful: the tunes, the production, the singing. As an album it truly is the gift that keeps on giving, with new aspects of the songs revealing themselves with every listen. And my favourite tracks keep changing depending on my mood or the time of year. In recent years, though, the one I keep coming back to is 'Don't Talk (Put Your Head On My Shoulder)' - so beautiful that it almost hurts.

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0062: Fred Neil: Fred Neil (1966)

Like most people, my knowledge about the songs of Fred Neil is "second-hand", through Harry Nilsson's hit cover of 'Everybody's Talkin''. That's basically where it stopped until I listened to this album. According to the 1001 Albums book, Fred Neil "was a key figure in the transition of folk to folk-rock," and having listened to this LP I'd say that's about right. It's hard to compare his music to other artists, though, although his singing style at times sounds like it may have inspired The Doors' Jim Morrison a bit.

I don't like everything on this album - I don't think I will ever need to hear the closing track, 'Cynicrustpetefredjohn Raga', again - but there are a few songs that really grabbed me, such as 'The Dolphins' and the hauntingly beautiful 'Faretheewell (Fred's Tune)'.

Verdict: Not entirely the bag I'm in, to paraphrase one of the song titles on the album, but some of the songs captivated me.

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1001 Albums 0059-0060

Published May 27, 2014


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


0059: The Who: My Generation (1965)

Much as I love British Sixties pop music, I have a tendency to avoid the earliest albums by classic bands such as The Rolling Stones, The Kinks and The Who: too many American R&B covers and underdeveloped original tunes performed by adenoidal vocalists, plus the production is usually not very interesting. So apart from the title track, I'd never actually heard The Who's debut album before. 

To some extent it did confirm my prejudices: despite the rush of energy that inhabits each and every track, there's very little here that truly interests me. Two exceptions: 'The Kids Are Alright' (I was surprised to realise that I don't recall hearing one of The Who's most famous songs in full before, but it's up there with their best singles), and the closing instrumental, the chaotic 'The Ox', which must have been a physical tour-de-force on the part of drummer Keith Moon.

Verdict: I'm glad I've heard this album and I even discovered a couple of new Who favourites.

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0060: The Beatles: Revolver (1966)
An album I've already heard.

When people ask me which is my favourite Beatles album, I usually answer Revolver. The musical development of The Beatles never ceases to amaze me. In March 1963, the band recorded the catchy Merseybeat ditty 'From Me To You' - a little over three years later, in April 1966, they began the Revolver sessions by recording the psychedelic one-chord drone of 'Tomorrow Never Knows'. Three years! Is it even possible to achieve that kind of development in three years today? Is there a major difference between records made in 2011 and those made in 2014? Probably not.

Anyway, Revolver has everything you could ask for from a Beatles album: happy songs, sad songs, introspective songs, soulful songs, satirical songs - there truly are no weak tunes here. Amazing.

 

1001 Albums 0057-0058

Published May 22, 2014


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


0057: The Byrds: Mr. Tambourine Man (1965)
An album I've already heard.

This is the debut album of California's own The Byrds. It starts off extremely promising with the title track - written by Bob Dylan - and then band member Gene Clark's magnificent 'I'll Feel A Whole Lot Better'. I'm not sure that the entire album lives up to that promise - I don't understand why they decided to finish the album with a pointless version of Vera Lynn's 'We'll Meet Again', for instance - although there is certainly much here to enjoy. All in all: highly recommended, but perhaps you will end up using the skip button from time to time.

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0058: Bob Dylan: Highway 61 Revisited (1965)
An album I've already heard.

From a pop/rock music history perspective, I completely understand the importance of this album: the subject matter of the lyrics, the length of the songs, and so on, were groundbreaking, inspiring so many other artists and showing what could be possible within the format of an LP. And if someone else was singing this - and if Mr Dylan had refrained completely from playing the harmonica - I'm sure I'd love this album. As it is, I end up simply admiring the songs, the arrangements and the production, without ever feeling an inclination to actually listen to the album.

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1001 Albums 0055-0056

Published May 21, 2014


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


0055: The Beatles: Rubber Soul (1965)
An album I've already heard.

I guess it's a sign of a true fanatic when you remember exactly where and when you bought a certain record. I bought (well, my mother bought it for me) the Rubber Soul album in a record shop in the town of Linköping, where my grandmother lived, in 1974. So I've been living with the music on this album for 40 years.

For people who are less fanatical about the Beatles than I am, Rubber Soul is usually the earliest album in the Beatles' discography that they can get into. It certainly is one of their very best. Apart from the well-known tracks such as 'Norwegian Wood' and 'Michelle', there is so much more to discover: 'Drive My Car', 'Nowhere Man', 'You Won't See Me' - actually, I can't think of any truly weak tracks on this album.

 

0056: Bert Jansch: Bert Jansch (1965)

The late guitarist Bert Jansch was a highly influential musician, name-checked by many artists who received much greater commercial success than he ever did. This folky album, which features Jansch and his acoustic guitar - some tracks with vocals, some not - was more enjoyable than I'd expected. Both the singing and the guitar-playing is great, and I can certainly understand why Jansch is held in such high regard.

But being raised in the versatility-and-variation school of pop and rock music, a whole album's worth of someone playing the acoustic guitar and singing becomes a little too one-dimensional for me. However, I can see myself putting several of these tracks on a compilation with other folk music artists. Might just do that.

Verdict: I'm glad I've heard this album and I'd like to hear some of the tracks again.

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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.

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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.

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