Archive for May, 2014


Moondance

 

I picked this up at the Half-Price Books in Westerville for $5.99 (minus my 10% teacher discount), and I was excited when I saw it because there is a song named “Caravan” on it, and I wondered if it was a song that we played in marching band my freshman year of high school.  See, after my experience as an 8th grade band helper (all the coolest kids are band helpers at some point in their lives), I was excited to finally be a part of the real deal as a full-fledged saxophonist in the marching band.  And our very first show ever was a show of classic rock tunes, including a Beatles medley, Alice Cooper’s “School’s Out”, and a tune I didn’t know called “Caravan”, which featured an alto saxophone solo played by the section leader.  I hadn’t thought about that song in a long time, but I remember wanting to be section leader when I got older (it happened for me my senior year) so I could play solos like the one in that song (I think I had some solos in jazz band, but I never got one in marching band).  Those were good times that year…but actually Van Morrison’s “Caravan” is not the song we played back in the day.  After some research on the world wide inter-web, I discovered that it’s actually a Duke Ellington song.  But no matter…both songs are cool and it got me thinking and reminiscing, so it’s all good.

This album is way more accessible than “Astral Weeks” (which is probably why the fans like it more and the critics like it less).  When I first listened to it and I heard the song “Moondance”, I realized that I had heard it a million times before and that it has really become a sort of jazz standard over the years.  Most of these songs have a similar mixture of jazz and R&B wrapped up in a pop sensibility that just wasn’t there on “Astral Weeks”.  At times the horn lines and Morrison’s soulful singing remind me quite a bit of Otis Redding, while at other times the acoustic instruments and pop structures make me think of Jim Croce.  This is good hanging outside in the summer music, and it also reminds me quite a bit of summers relaxing up north on the shores of Lake Erie.  Good stuff.

Other lists: The song “Moondance” is #231 and “Into the Mystic” is #474 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All-Time.

Ch-ch-changes: This album dropped one spot from its place on the original list due to the inclusion of CCR’s “Chronicle”.

My favourite track: “Moondance”

Honourable mention: “These Dreams of You”

A word from the Princess: “I always thought Van Morrison was some heavy metal dude”

Quote: “I’ve been used, abused, and so confused, and I had nowhere to run.  But I stood and looked, and my eyes got hooked on that beautiful morning sun.”

Back to MonoPhil Spector Christmas

“He’s the one who likes all the pretty songs…and he likes to shoot his gun.” — Kurdt Kobain

“I am a big man (yes I am) and I have a big gun.” — Trent Reznor

So this is a box set.  Actually the biggest box set on the list so far.  It’s four discs, including three discs of Phil Spector “classics” and the Phil Spector Christmas album (the Christmas album actually shows up later on the list at #142, which is surprising since they consolidated so many other albums into box sets and greatest hits packages…maybe someone at RS missed the memo that this was included here…or maybe it’s just that good).  Anyhow, I purchased this on eBay for $36.00 after being outbid several times (I refused to go over $40 for this set).  Prior to owning this, my only experience with Phil Spector was his work with the Beatles on the “Let It Be” album and his work with John Lennon on the “Plastic Ono Band”, “Imagine” and “Rock ‘n’ Roll” albums.  Actually, there is a great story about how Apple Records hired Spector to remix “Let It Be” without Paul McCartney’s consent (and Paul was pretty much running Apple at that point), and when he heard the “Spectorized” version of “The Long and Winding Road”, he demanded it be changed back to its original form…which the label declined to do (leading eventually to the “Let It Be…Naked” release 33 years later).  George Martin was also upset because Phil Spector got the producer credit on that album when Martin had essentially done all of the work in the studio.  And apparently Spector and John Lennon had it out several times and weren’t speaking to each other by the end of the “Rock ‘n’ Roll” sessions.

But at any rate, this box set is pretty much all of the songs that Spector wrote and produced during the prime of his career.  Of course, he really doesn’t perform on any of them (maybe a guitar lick or piano part here or there), but he produced and recorded most of these tracks using his “Wall of Sound” method (from what I’ve read, he set up mics in a room and recorded ensembles instead of individual instruments).  And from a nostalgia standpoint, this box set is fun.  It takes you back to the glory days of sock hops and drive-ins and car-hops and Happy Days and all the stuff I totally missed out on as a child of the 70s.  It’s a little heavy on the girl groups, with most of the songs coming from the Crystals, the Ronettes, and Darlene Love, but there are a few mega-hits from the Righteous Brothers and a Ben E. King song too.  Ike and Tina Turner even show up towards the end.  Disc 1 is the most fun and Disc 3 has the most famous songs.  Disc 2 kind of drags, and well, the Christmas album is just very Christmassy.  I think my show choir has performed pretty much every song on that record.  But even as much fun as this set is, I just can’t get over the fact that Spector is currently serving 19 years to life for murder.  And the woman he murdered was actress Lana Clarkson of “Amazon Women on the Moon” fame (I remember watching that movie countless times with Satan, the Elusive One, and the Artistic One while we played poker in Mr. U’s basement).  Apparently he picked her up at a bar, took her home, and shot her accidentally while waving a gun in her face.  Not cool dude.  Just not cool.

Back to Mono Box Set

Other lists: “Be My Baby” is #22, “River Deep – Mountain High” is #33, “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin'” is #34,  “He’s a Rebel” is #267, “Walking in the Rain” is #269, “Spanish Harlem” is #358, and “Unchained Melody” is #374 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.  Tina Turner is #63 and Phil Spector is #64 on the list of the 100 Greatest Artists.  Tina Turner is also #17, Ronnie Spector is #69, and Darlene Love is #84 on the list of the 100 Greatest Singers.

Ch-ch-changes: This set dropped one spot from its original position due to the inclusion of CCR’s “Chronicle”.

My favorite track: “Unchained Melody”

Honorable mention: “River Deep – Mountain High”

Quote: “Downtown he’s just one of a million guys.  He don’t get no breaks and he takes all they got to give, ’cause he’s got to live.”

Sticky Fingers

My connection to this album really begins with my love of the Guns.  I am sure I had heard the song “Wild Horses” several times, but the first time I really noticed it was when I saw Axl and Duff sing it with Gilby and Slash trading leads towards the end of the Use Your Illusion I tour video (on VHS baby!) back around 1992 or 1993.  About the same time, I remember buying a G n’ R import (read: bootleg) at the Record Den called “Guns N’ Roses Unplugged” that opens with a cover of “Dead Flowers” with Axl rocking out the vocals.  Then a year later Gilby put a cover of “Dead Flowers” on his solo record, “Pawn Shop Guitars” (it’s not quite as cool as the G n’ R version…Axl helps out, but he only sings on the chorus).  My freshman year of college I remember seeing Gilby on his solo tour and he played “Dead Flowers”.  It was at the Newport Music Hall, and he played in front of about 5 people, one of which was me and another of which was the Elusive One who had biked (read: bicycle biked) all the way from Denison University in Granville, Ohio to Columbus for the show.  Hardcore.  Slash played on that tour too, and I remember he had his trademark top hat on and he was wearing a shirt that said “Dopey says legalize it”.  Good times.

So I picked up this album back in December at the Half-Price books out on Brice Road (the east side where all the bad boys ((read: gang bangers)) hang out?) for $5.99 (minus my 10% teacher discount).  I was trying to kill time in between work and a late holiday cantata church choir rehearsal.  After leaving HPB, I remember stopping by the Evil Empire to grab a cup of coffee and seeing a pack of Newport cancer sticks laying on the prep counter…Old Man McConnell would have had us cleaning the lobby for weeks for something like that.  Actually we would have been fired.  Anyway, I don’t much like “the package”, but the album itself is really good.  Classic Stones at the high point of their career.

Other lists:  “Wild Horses” is #343 and “Brown Sugar” is #495 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All-Time.

Ch-ch-changes: This album dropped one spot from the original list due to the addition of CCR’s “Chronicle”.

My favourite track: “Dead Flowers”

Honourable mention: “Brown Sugar”

Quote: “And you can send me dead flowers [every morning/by the mail/to my wedding], and I won’t forget to put roses on your grave.”