Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Playlist for 11/24

Adele - 30
Adele- One Night Only (TV Special)
Courtney Barnett - Things Take Time, Take Time
Robert Plant & Alison Krauss - Raise the Roof
Commander Cody - Hot Licks, Cold Steel  & Trucker Favorites
Commander Cody - Live From Deep In The Heart of Texas
American Music Club - Everclear
Billy Strings - Renewal
Gary Stewart - Live 1975
Donald Fagen- Nightfly: Live
Steely Dan - Northeast Corridor
Curtis Mayfield Songbook - Various (Ace)
Velvet Underground (2021 Documentary)
2021 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Ceremony (HBO)

Monday, November 22, 2021

An Album/Song A Week: Michael Jackson - Thriller

 One could always make the case that Off The Wall is the best Michael Jackson album.  And I could agree.  But Thriller was the one for a reason. It was a bid for even bigger crossover success.  And at a compact 9 tracks, it did just that.  The amazing thing about Thriller, is that the Jackson-penned first single, "The Girl Is Mine", a duet with Paul McCartney, was supposed to be a massive single along the lines of "Ebony & Ivory". But that's not what happened. Surprisingly, the song peaked at #2 (#1 R&B), and is generally considered the weakest song on the album.  Luckily for Jackson's label, "Billie Jean" would quickly follow it up and once the video for it got on MTV, Thriller was off and running. 

  Among the 9 tracks, four were written by Jackson, 3 by the Quincy Jones fave Rod Temperton, one co-written by James Ingram and "Human Nature" co-written by members of Toto.  All but two, "Baby Be Mine" and the Quiet Storm classic, "Lady In My Life", were Top 10 singles.  

  Jackson's bid for mega-stardom paid off.  Thriller is the biggest selling studio album ever. And it deserves its spot.  Quincy Jones' production reaches a peak here and Jackson is game for whatever is thrown at him.

  Michael Jackson's follow up albums all had their great moments, but Thriller came along at the right moment in 1982.  Perfect for the new MTV era of music consumption ("Thriller" video) and released at a time when the Music Industry was waiting for a massive seller.  Thriller achieved all that and more.

Saturday, November 20, 2021

An Album/Song A Week: "Sara Smile" - Daryl Hall & John Oates

It wasn't "She's Gone" that broke Daryl Hall & John Oates, it was 1976's "Sara Smile".  By then Hall & Oates had left Atlantic, where "She's Gone" was first released in 1973 and signed with RCA.  Daryl Hall hates the term "Blue-eyed Soul", but that's what "Sara Smile", and many of their other hits were labeled.  It's also a nod to their Philly Soul roots, even though it wasn't recorded in Philadelphia.  It should be on any Philly sound collection.  In addition to peaking at #4 on the Pop charts, it got to #23 on the R&B one. 

This is as smooth as a Hall & Oates hit would ever get.  "One on One" comes close, but this is my go-to Hall & Oates song whenever I want to show people how R&B their sound could get.   Soon after "Sara Smile" broke, Atlantic re-released "She's Gone",  and it too went Top 10. An argument can be made that both of those songs are their best singles.  I'd add "Out of Touch", "Kiss On My List", "One on One", "Maneater", "Say It Isn't So", "It's A Laugh", "You Make My Dreams", "I Can't Go For That" to the mix, but you get the point.  They had a lot of great songs.  But "Sara Smile" sets the stage. 

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Playlist for 11/16

Jason Isbell - Georgia Blue
Brandi Carlile - In These Silent Day
Natalie Hemby - Pins and Needles
Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga - Love For Sale
Coldplay - Music of the Spheres
Elton John - Lockdown Sessions
Paul Carrack - One on One
War On Drugs - I Don't Live Here Anymore
Felice Brothers - From Dreams to Dust
Asleep At The Wheel - Half A Hundred Years
Songs of John Prine Vol. 2 - Various
Record Company - Play Loud
2021 CMA Awards 

Friday, November 12, 2021

An Album/Song A Week: Miles Davis - Bitches Brew

 Bitches Brew is not my favorite Miles Davis album.  I'd rank it behind Kind of Blue and In A Silent Way, but just ahead of Jack Johnson. Hell, it's not even my all-time fave Jazz album.  That would be Giant Steps by John Coltrane. But it is the album that turned me on to Jazz.  It's not that I didn't know the big names or even the big Jazz albums.  In my teens Jazz was the smooth Jazz I heard on Top 40 radio: Chuck Mangione, George Benson.  It was not Miles, Coltrane, Ornette, Sonny Rollins.  The Jazz vocalists were in a different listening category for me.  I seemed to have heard more Ella, Billie Holiday, etc., than I did instrumentalists.  

  There's no denying that Bitches Brew was a game-changer.  Miles going even more electric than he did on In A Silent Way.  Jazz-Fusion was now in his wheelhouse.  Critics be damned.  And some purists weren't happy. But thanks to an all-star cast, Miles pulls it off. Improvised sounds collide, but they never go fully off the rails.  Credit the electric guitar of John McLaughlin for most of this.  McLaughlin had been doing fusion before joining Miles's band and after he left formed the Mahavishnu Orchestra which released their own acclaimed fusion albums. 

  It took me many years, mostly as I got older to catch up to all the Jazz that was missing in my life.  And I still don't feel like I've totally caught up to all of it.  It will never be my specialty, but I'm more comfortable talking about it now than ever before.  So, start with Bitches Brew.  Then work your way back or forward. 

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Best of ZZ Top (Poll)

As a tribute to Dusty Hill, I participated in a Best of ZZ Top poll back in September.  Top 20 tracks, plus top 5 albums.

1. La Grange
2. Gimme All Your Lovin'
3. Tush
4. Sharp Dressed Man
5. I Thank You
6. Legs
7. Cheap Sunglasses
8. Sleeping Bag
9. Waitin' for the Bus/Jesus Just Left Chicago
10. Rough Boy
11. Heard It On The X
12. Pearl Necklace
13. Got Me Under Pressure
14. I'm Bad, I'm Nationwide
15. I Got The Six
16. Viva Las Vegas
17. Stages
18. Tube Snake Boogie
19. My Head's In Mississippi
20. Leila

1. Eliminator
2. Rancho Texicano: Very Best of
3. Deguello
4. Fandango
5. Tres Hombres

Tuesday, November 09, 2021

Playlist for 11/9

Lindsey Buckingham - s/t 
Bob Dylan - Bootleg Series Vol. 16
Lil Nas X - Montero 
Yebba - Dawn
Anthony Hamilton - Love Is The New Black
Bela Fleck - My Bluegrass Heart
Saint Etienne - I've Been Trying To Tell You
Charley Crockett - Music City USA
Adia Victoria - A Southern Gothic
Miko Marks - Race Records
Carly Pearce - 29
Family - Bandstand
Family - It's Only A Movie
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