Monday, June 29, 2009

Ticking Away the Moments

#16 Dark Side of the Moon: Pink Floyd. When I was a kid, I used to be really into numbers and charts. I loved reading the Billboard Top 20 in the paper, and would go to the library every week to look at Billboard and read the Top 200. I didnt know much about Pink Floyd, but every week, in the top 200 was this album, Dark Side of the Moon. Every other album would have their run and the best would chart for about 20 weeks or so. But DSOTM was there every week, 400, 500, 600 consecutive weeks on the chart. I had no idea what it was all about until high school and college, when I got to experience the music more, um, viscerally. But, you dont have to be altered to appreciate it. It really is a great listen. The songs are each about fundamental human issues: Time, Money, Breath, Death, War, Disease. It is a Big Concept Album. But it is beautiful in its pretension, and remains the best CD ever to listen to with a big-ass pair of comfy headphones that block out the rest of the world for 45 minutes.

So What

#17 Kind of Blue: Miles Davis. This is the best selling jazz album of all time, and for good reason. You dont need to be a jazz fan to appreciate it. Only 5 songs, but each one a timeless classic, with melodies that stick in your head, and improvs that demand attention. These songs define what good bebop jazz was all about. A backbone with a great melody, morphing into virtuoso, but restrained solos which work off that melody. Jazz can often be a tedious listen, with talented musicains going overboard with solo sthat show off how many notes they can fit in a bar of music. The best thing about Kind of Blue is that it is restrained...notes are held and allowed to linger, to sigh, to sing. Davis' trumpet style is all about restraint - Coltrane's sax is a bit more exploratory and they play off of each other fabulously. The piano holds it all together. Brilliant.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

I'm a Lonely Stranger Here

#18 Unplugged: Eric Clapton. I remember going to see Eric Clapton at Giants Stadium back around 1990. I knew all of his classics and knew all the famous guitar solos and the history of British youths declaring Clapton is God. But I thought "how good can a guitarist really be?" I figured I would enjoy the concert, rock out a bit, and go home. But he really amazed me. He really is *that* awesome. In a way that cannot easily be explained, the man makes a guitar sing. His albums don't really capture it. But he won me over in concert. Amazingly, this acoustic CD captures his virtuosity better than any of his studio records. A great collection of songs incl. a brilliant twist on Layla, the heartbreaking Tears in Heaven and Lonely Stranger, props to the blues with Nobody Knows You and Walkin Blues. Plus the best kazoo solo you will ever hear during San Francisco Bay Blues. Listen to the opening Signe and you will be hooked with one great song after another. This was a staple in my first CD player for many years, and it still is an awesome listen.