Sunday, March 12, 2017

GREAT MUSIC-INSTALLATION ONE

I have been wanting to do something along these lines for a long time now.  I wanted to make a list of songs or albums, but only the very best.  Have you ever tried to make a list of what you consider the top ten albums of all time?  Can't do it.  Everytime I try, I think of music that deserves to be on the list but there isn't room, so I add an honorable mention section, which is usually far larger number than the original ten.  I have tried to pick best twenty five albums.  I get the same result.  The magazine Rolling Stone has managed to do this but when I go over their list of albums or songs, musicians, songwriters, whatever area of music they happen to be listing at the time and I always, without a doubt find an amazing number of songs or albums that should make the list but didn't.  Of course this is according to my own musical tastes, but I am almost positive that if you try to do the same excersize, you will end up with the same feelings that I do.

So I have decided to do my lists in installations so that I can go back and include albums that I left out in earlier installations.  This is the first installation.  Now keep in mind, my mood effects what albums I think are great and it changes from day to day.  This is going to be a list of albums that, as of today, I feel are the greatest ever.  Next month this list will be completely different.   One problem is that the wider your taste in music is, the larger number of items you have to choose from.  I love music.  I love music of almost any kind.  Haven't been able to recognize hip hop or rap as music but that is a problem within my own mind.  I love jazz, pop, classic rock, blues, country, rock-a-billy, blue grass, classical, opera, folk.. almost any kind of music genre is in my mental collection of great music.

So let's start.  I am not even going to attempt to rank these albums because of my thinking I described above.  This is just a list of what I think are great albums.  Today, greatest hits or best of albums are not allowed.  Just studio or maybe live albums.  The main thing is that all of these albums mentioned today or possibly in the future have had an impact on my life in one way or another.

So let's get started:

CAROLE KING "TAPESTRY"
This album is by far considered Carole King's masterpiece and for good reason.  Every song on this album can stand alone by itself.  This thing is so loaded that when King released a two CD set of her career, this whole album was included.  This is the recording that brought us "You've Got A Friend", "It's Too Late", "You Make Me Feel (Like a Natural Woman)", "So Far Away" and "Will You Love Me Tomorrow" plus many others.  Easily one of the best recordings ever.

 CHICAGO "CHICAGO V"
This was Chicago's fifth album and the first single disc album.  Their first three albums were double discs and the fourth was a four disc live album.  The thing about this album is that Chicago did not have to stretch things out over two disc as they did previously and so there is not much jazz type filler music on this record like there were on the earlier albums making it more of a rock album then the others.  This was also Terry Kath's last album with the band before dying from a self inflicted gunshot.  Terry Kath was the heart and soul of the band.  Without Terry Kath Chicago was not quite the same.  This album, in my opinion, was Chicago reaching their peak.  Loaded with songs that defines early Chicago.  "Saturday In The Park", "Dialogue Part 1 and Part 2", "A Hit By Varese", "All Is Well" and "Since You've Been Gone" make this album a stand out recording.

BEATLES "ABBEY ROAD"
With the exception of "Yellow Submarine", every Beatles album can be seen as a greatest hits or best of album.  This was the Beatles farewell recording.  At this time John and Paul were writing and working more independently of each other than all the previous years and so we get a good taste of what was to come after the Beatles.  There is Paul mainly writing pop songs and John's style going to the harder and darker side.  John Lennon's major contribution was "Come Together" while Paul gave us "Oh! Darling".  The big surprise here though is George Harrison's contributions.  Two of Harrison's better known songs that are considered legitimate Beatles Classics appear on this record.  I see it as George's coming out party with "Something" and Here Comes The Sun" overshadowing Lennon and McCartney's writing for the first time on a Beatles release.  The album ends with "The End" and rightly so.  For me, this album lets the Beatles go out at their peak as I see as a notch above "Sgt. Pepper's".

NICKY HOPKINS "THE TIN MAN WAS A DREAMER"
Hopkins was a studio musician who you can find credit for on literally hundreds of albums.  One of the most sought after keyboard players Columbia decided to give him a solo shot.  He only did a few albums but this one stands out, not only for Hopkins, but for popular music as well.  Backed by his fellow studio musician peers, this album covers a wide range of styles.  There is the rocker "Banana Anna" to the soft ballad "The Dreamer".  There is the piano instrumental of "Sundown In Mexico" to the rollicking "Pig's Boogie".  While not a very well known album, I wager that anyone who is willing to give it a listen will immediately wish that Hopkins had done more solo recording than his short life allowed him to do.  It is indeed a classic and one that any rock fan should try to hear somewhere.  This album is one of my personal treasures.


MILES DAVIS "KIND OF BLUE"
For many jazz fans, when this album was released it was the album that jazz had been waiting for.  While there are many great jazz albums, none quite reach the level of this one.  With a career full of jazz standards, Miles Davis was able to top them all with this recording.  Davis reached his peak with this one giving us the magnificent "So What".  Davis stretched his style and the direction of jazz with Kind of Blue and the album still stands today as one of the greatest jazz albums of all time.

ALLMAN BROTHERS BAND "BROTHERS AND SISTERS"
After the death of Duane Allman the band released an album with unreleased recordings of Duane with the band.  "Eat A Peach" had one fourth of the album consisting of new recordings of the band without Duane.  "Brothers And Sisters" was the first complete album by the Allman Brothers Band without Duane.  It was a chance for Dickey Betts to let loose and spread his wings on his guitar without competing with Duane and he truly shows what a gifted guitarist and songwriter he is.  While the early Allman Brothers albums saw Gregg Allman as the principle singer with his own style, "Brothers and Sisters" was different.  Gregg and Dickey divide the album in half, each having a fair share of song writing and singing.  This was Dickey Betts being discovered as his songs "Ramblin' Man", "Jessica" and "Pony Boy" stood side by side to Gregg's "Wasted Words" and "Southbound".  This album marked a new direction for the Allman Brothers Band and the Betts/Allman formula worked great carrying the band to prominence as well as being the face of a new genre of music called southern rock.

SIMON AND GARFUNKEL "BRIDGE OVER TROUBLED WATER
Simon and Garfunkel walked that fine line between folk/pop/ and rock over the course of several albums and did it well.  Every album brought forth hits while leaving some songs out of the spotlight.  They couldn't have left any of the songs on this album out of the spotlight as hard as they tried.  Besides the iconic title song, this album almost seemed like Paul Simon was holding back songs for this, the duos last album together.  This is another of those albums that could be a greatest hits album on it's own.  "Cecelia", "The Boxer", "So Long Frank Lloyd Wright", "The Only Living Boy In New York",  "El Condor Pasa", "Baby Driver" ... this album is basically a masterpiece of masterpieces.  Both would go on to solo careers, but neither would be able to match the greatness of this, their last studio album.

WILLIE NELSON "RED HEADED STRANGER"
While concept albums were fairly familiar to jazz, classical and even rock fans, the country music world had not had very many attempts at the format.  With this album, Willie Nelson brought a country concept album to the top of the charts.  While there is one song that stands out in the set "Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain" the album tells the story of a man who loses his wife to the boredom of the west.  The majority of the songs are soft, slow, acoustic numbers that flow well from one to the other.  As far as concept albums go, it stands with the best of them, and as a country concept album, stands alone by itself.

BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN "BORN TO RUN"
This was the album when Springsteen put it all together in one album finally.  Previous albums were good, but had holes in them musically and had failed to get the attention nation wide.  This was the album that brought the Boss out of New Jersey and into the whole of the country.  While not getting to number one, the title song would light the imagination of a whole generation and bring to Springsteen a following that would stay steady and grow as his talent did on albums to follow.  All the songs on this album stand alone and are in their own right a hit.  The album that made Springsteen a national treasure is still if not his best, in the top two or three.

UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI "MARCHING MIZZOU"
Do I even have to explain this one??

Well, it took me three days on and off to compile these albums.  That is how hard it is to actually pick an album as better than another.  Bottom line is that there is a lot of great music out there to be explored.  I am going to revisit this and put out there some more music that is just so good as to not to be ignored.

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