The Rewind Button: Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue

(The Rewind Button is a group blogging project.  Every Thursday, we review an album from Rolling Stone’s Greatest Albums list.) 

Mile Davis - Kind of Blue

I suffered from the oft-heard complaint that jazz just sounds the same when I listened to Miles Davis’ album, Kind of Blue. [Read more...]

The Rewind Button: The Beatles or The White Album

(The Rewind Button is a group blogging project.  Every Thursday, we review an album from Rolling Stone’s Greatest Albums list.) 

The Beatles or The White Album

It’s not actually called the White album. It’s called The Beatles but because it’s white, well, there you go. [Read more...]

The Rewind Button: Blonde On Blonde by Bob Dylan

(The Rewind Button is a group blogging project.  Every Thursday, we review an album from Rolling Stone’s Greatest Albums list.) 

Blonde on Blonde

Bob Dylan, man, Bob Dylan.

Leonard Cohen once said, “Only in Canada could somebody with a voice like mine win ‘Vocalist of the Year.'”

Despite what Cohen says, he’s not the only one to have made a career on an atypical singing voice. How Bob Dylan became an icon often confuses me because his voice DRIVES ME CRAZY. Seriously, it’s nasal, it’s grating and he sings-speaks his lyrics.

The only reason I continue to listen to him (apart from doing this blog project) is because the man has a knack for music and is a poet when it comes to lyrics.

So, Blonde on Blonde. It’s a little bit country, a little bit honky-tonk and a whole lotta harmonica. It’s like he took Highway 61 and ended up in Nashville where he decided to stay for a while.

Of course, just because you’re visiting doesn’t mean you have to adapt entirely to the culture. Dylan keeps his strong bluesy influence and just incorporates new sounds.

It keeps it fresh. If Highway 61 Revisited is the dry, lonely drive, then Blonde on Blonde is sitting in a dark bar, listening to the house band while the blonde groupie of an indeterminate age sits smoking by the bar.

Who Else Pressed the Rewind Button

http://bettylivin.com/2012/05/10/rewind-button-bob-dylan-blonde-on-blonde/

http://www.pimplomat.com/2012/05/10/the-rewind-button-blonde-on-blonde/

http://musicqwest.com/?p=1112

 

The Rewind Button: London Calling by The Clash

(The Rewind Button is a group blogging project.  Every Thursday, we review an album from Rolling Stone’s Greatest Albums list.) 

London Calling by The Clash

Before I talk about the music, let’s take a moment to admire the cover. That’s Paul Gustave Simonon, the bass guitarist for the band. It was 1979 and he was caught smashing his instrument by Pennie Smith. [Read more...]

The Rewind Button: Marvin Gaye: What’s Going On

(The Rewind Button is a group blogging project.  Every Thursday, we review an album from Rolling Stone’s Greatest Albums list.) 

Marvin Gaye - What's Going On

What’s Going On by Marvin Gaye is the sixth album on Rolling Stone’s list and I really enjoyed listening to it. It’s deeply soulful, no pun intended. I listened to it on a lazy night, just enjoying the music and listening to the lyrics. Unlike the other five albums, the  songs on this album are linked to each other.

Ok, you can argue that Highway 61‘s songs are linked but What’s Going On is linked not only by theme but by melody. The songs often run into each other, the note of the last song becoming the note of the next song. It’s a bit like a song cycle, which I think is mostly used in opera. The method suits the album because it’s a reflection of a man back from war and looking at what he left behind and fought for. It turns out it’s not all that great. The environment isn’t that great (Mercy, Mercy Me) Vietnam is happening (What’s Going On and What’s Happening Brother) and the social structure isn’t looking great (Right On).

The mood of the album, I think, conveys the daze of the protagonist. Yes, I’m exercising my literary degree on you. The protagonist is back from Vietnam. He’s walking what was once familiar ground but is realizing that it’s no longer familiar. Things have changed and he’s working on accepting change. When I first listened to the album I thought he was just a mellow guy then I thought, he’s not mellow, he’s trying to cope with life after the Vietnam war. It’s a mediation, that’s what this album is.  The protagonist’s love of children and God could be a way to reconnect with his surroundings with the innocence of children and the comfort of his God.

I could be overthinking this but this album, the seventh studio album from Gaye and the first time he used personal stories to create, is definitely my favourite for now.

Who Else Pressed the Rewind Button:

(Updated on an ongoing basis)

Betty Livin’

Musicqwest

Pimplomat

Reb Stevenson

 Zachary Stevenson

The Rewind Button: Rubber Soul by the Beatles

(The Rewind Button is a group blogging project.  Every Thursday, we review an album from Rolling Stone’s Greatest Albums list.) 

Look people, I think after listening to three Beatles album in five weeks, I am entitled to a relatively educated opinion. Yes? Agreed. Carried all round.

I don’t like the Beatles. Breathe, you will get over it. Look, I understand that they were ground-breaking for their time but when I listen to them all I think of is Wings by Paul McCartney (yes, thank you for that, Paul) and their later works, which, quite frankly, ruins their earlier works.

For example, I listened  to Drive My Car and all I could think of is, “Hey, this has elements of 1970’s arena rock.” Which, when I looked up the history of Rubber Soul, completely makes sense. There’s a lot of soul influence in this album, which was new for the Beatles. Not new for music (hello, Elvis, Sammy Davis, plenty people before the Beatles, etc.).

Rubber Soul is very catchy, absolutley, but not one of my favourites. There’s progression and I’d listen to it again but honestly, it had me wanting Freddie Mercury, it had me wanting Mick Jagger. Lennon and McCartney have  voices and harmonize beautifully, but I wanted the full-throated “fuck you all, I’m singing this shit” from Queen and the Rolling Stones. I wanted the dirtiness of The Who. Come on guys, hit me in the amygdala.

Now that’s music I can get behind despite me thinking that I apparently like music that comes from the crotch.

Sorry Fab Four.

(This is why I’m not a music journalist.)

Who Else Has Pressed the Rewind Button

Betty Livin’

MusicQwest

Pimplomat

1throne

Love as a Verb

 

The Rewind Button: Highway 61 Revisited

(The Rewind Button is a group blogging project.  Every Thursday, we review an album from Rolling Stone’s Greatest Albums list.) 

I saw I’m Not There at the 2007 Toronto International Film Festival. It was a look at Bob Dylan’s life although his name is never mentioned. Six actors each played a facet of Dylan.

Highway 61 Revisited

I didn’t get it. It was a brilliant film but I wasn’t a fan of Dylan so the film went completely over my head. Listening to Highway 61 Revisited helped me understand the movie.

While Dylan’s voice isn’t great and his singing can best be described as spoken voice, the lyrics on the album are amazing.

Highway 61 Revisited is like a road trip taking a road trip. Not a road trip where you’re in a nice car or SUV and you stay at nice hotels. No, Highway 61 is the road trip where it’s you, a battered car that might be leaking oil and a dry stretch of extremely flat road, maybe with a tumble weed or two. Possibly a scorpion. It’s not comfortable but once you’re settled in, it’s a great ride with a few stops so you can write down your experiences in a battered notebook.

The guitar gets you on the road and the bluesy tone keeps you moving. There’s bad coffee and even worse food but you know the views on the trip are more than worth it.

That’s Highway 61 Revisited.

Who Else is Pressing the Rewind Button:

http://zacharystevenson.com/?p=345

http://musicqwest.com/?p=862

http://1throne.com/rb/dylan61.html

http://www.pimplomat.com/2012/04/05/the-rewind-button-highway-61-revisited/

The Rewind Button: The Beatles’ Revolver

Revolver (1966)

It’s week three of the Rewind Button and this week it’s Revolver by the Beatles. Released in 1966, this album has quite a few of the classics – extra classic classics, if you will – from the foursome. There’s Eleanor Rigby and Yellow Submarine.

I remember hearing Eleanor Rigby on television when I was very young and it was so depressing. There’s this poor woman who is all alone and she dies alone. Father McKenzie didn’t bother me too much. He was a priest and priests’ work tends to be solitary in nature when not tending to their congregation.

But back to Eleanor Rigby. The name was made up by the band but it turns out that there is a woman named Eleanor Rigby who is buried in Liverpool in the Woolton cemetary.

I listened to the album on my way to work today. The songs themselves are compact – short but packed with a lot of imagery in the lyrics, enough to justify an English course analysing the lyrics of the Beatles. I’m not going to comment on the music itself as I’m not a music expert but I noticed the use of a sitar in Love You To, heralding the band’s move into psychedelia.

How did I feel about listening to this album? Kind of meh, I have to admit. I’ve heard some of the tunes so many times before I didn’t feel like I was exploring or listening to anything new.

 

 

 

The Rewind Button: Pet Sounds by the Beach Boys

It’s the second week of our listening to some of the best albums ever as decided by Rolling Stone magazine. Last week was the Beatles and this week it’s the Beach Boys with Pet Sounds.

Quick aside, I’ve had to retype “Beach Boys” way too often. The problem with having “Beach Boys,” “Pet Sounds” and being an eighties child is that I keep typing “Pet Shop Boys.”

Right.

So this week I didn’t cook to the album. That’s because it was too nice outside and I was outside on a patio. Which is appropriate when you think about the Beach Boys. After all, when you think of them, you think of this:

Which is true for songs like “God Only Knows” and “Would it Be Nice?” They just call for a beer:

Perky, bubbly stuff, right?

Not always. If you know the history of the Beach Boys, specifically Brian Wilson who wrote this album, then you know it wasn’t just beer, hot sun, surf and girls. There was a darker side to the Boys and I think it shows up in the instrumentals such as Sloop John B and Pet Sounds which is deeply, deeply random when you first hear it but then you read up on the band and then you go, “That makes sense.”  “I Guess I Just Wasn’t Made for These Times” is backed with cheerful music but listening to the lyrics you hear hopelessness. Pet Sounds was released in the sixties but it wasn’t all fun, it was the decade that slowly lead to the Vietnam War and delusion.

So maybe not beer. Perhaps this:

A moody red wine.

Pet Sounds has been called one of the most influential albums of all time.  I think it’s very nasal. I also think ending with some BareNaked Ladies works:

 

Who else is Rewinding:

Betty Livin: http://bettylivin.com/2012/03/22/the-rewind-button-beach-boys/

1throne: http://1throne.com/

Zachary Stevenson: http://zacharystevenson.com/2012/03/the-rewind-button-pet-sounds/

Musicqwest: http://musicqwest.com/?p=738

Sara Bynoe: http://sarabynoe.com/2012/03/22/rewind-button-beach-boys/

Love As a Verb: http://love-as-a-verb.blogspot.ca/2012/03/you-cant-get-more-innocent-then-beach.html

Life Doesn’t Have to Suck: http://rebstevenson.com/2012/03/the-rewind-button-pet-sounds/

Pimplomat: http://rebstevenson.com/2012/03/the-rewind-button-pet-sounds/