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Album Link Challenge

Album Link Challenge

This is an exercise designed to open musical knowledge, expand musical horizons, and check out something you may not have been exposed to before… Admittedly, it probably works especially well if you are a subscriber to a music service like Apple Music or Spotify, but there are other ways to do it….

First – Pick an Album

Pick an album by any artist at any time (the starting album is probably better as an older album…something from the 60’s or 70’s). Immerse yourself in that album for (at least) a week through listening and reading. At a bare minimum, listen to it once, uninterrupted, without distraction. Read through the liner notes and familiarize yourself with the personnel credited on the record. If you can put this week’s album on heavy rotation in time you listen to music. Check out things like: highest chart position, production notes, etc. Get to know it.

Second – Pick Someone Credited on that Album (Link-Person)

This person can be a musician, a producer, an engineer, a songwriter, cover artist…Anyone credited as contributing to that album (or you know contributed but was not credited)

Third – Pick a New Album

At the start of your new week, pick a new album with the following criteria:

  1. Has the Link-Person you picked from last week’s album credited on this new album
  2. May not be by an artist you have previously picked in the challenge
  3. May not be a Link-Person you have previously picked for this challenge

Example:

Week 1 Album: Led Zeppelin –  IV

Week 1 Link-Person: Sandy Denny (sings back up on Battle for Evermore)

Week 2 Album: Fairport Convention – Unhalfbricking

Week 2 Link-Person: Richard Thompson

Week 3 Album: Richard and Linda Thompson – I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight

Week 3 Link-Person: John Wood (Producer and Engineer of I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight) – Engineer on “Take me I’m Yours” (next week)

Week 4 Album: Squeeze – Squeeze

Week 4 Link-Person: Gilson Lavis (Drummer on Squeeze and Jools Holland Meets Rock ‘A’ Boogie Billy

Week 5 Album Jools Holland – Jools Holland Meets Rock ‘A’ Boogie Billy

Week 5 Link Person – Jools Holland

Week 6 Album Imelda May – Life.Love.Flesh.Blood

Week 6 Link-Person T-Bone Burnett

Etc…

Example explanation:

Unhalfbricking was a legal pick because:

  1. Sandy Denny appears on both Led Zeppelin – IV and  Fairport Convention – Unhalfbricking
  2. Fairport Convention has never previously been picked
  3. Sandy Denny has never previously  been picked

Album Link History

Challenge Guidelines

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Week 1 – January 19, 2018

Roberta Flack – Chapter Two (1970)

My first record is Roberta Flack’s Chapter Two I have picked Roberta Flack’s Chapter 2 for 2 reasons: 1. I have the vinyl and 2. it was released in the year of my birth.

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Hubert Laws played flute on Roberta Flack’s Chapter Two. His work caught my attention on the cut “Do What You Gotta Do”. After investigating a bit I found he has a number of jazz albums published under his name. Seems as though he was working quite a bit in the early 70’s. In any case, he was my choice and got me to the next record…

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Week 2

Hubert Laws also played flute on Aretha Franklin’s Young, Gifted and Black. On my first listen through this beautiful soul classic his work on the cut “Day Dreaming” the flute launched into my ears.

Aretha Franklin – Young, Gifted and Black (1972)

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As for my impressions of this record, well, wow. This is a masterpiece. I am so happy that I was finally able to experience this record. To hear many songs that I was never exposed to before was a real treat. Oddly, there are some songs on this record that I had been exposed to through Irma Thomas’ live record, Simply The Best, including “Oh Me Oh My” and “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long.” This record is an absolute treasure.

2/1 – One last, full immersion listen of this record. Holy Moses! What an album. Listening to Chuck Rainey and Bernard Purdy all week has been a real treat. I’m certain I’ll be hearing them again very soon on this journey … but not next week.

Link Person: My link-person from this record got me to an interesting character, Chuck Kirpatrick. He was the sound engineer on “Rock Steady”. At the time, he was a young man who called himself a vocalist and guitar player along with being an engineer. In this video, he chronicles his career and discusses how young he was when he was in the studio with Aretha.

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Week 3 – Oingo Boingo – Only a Lad (1981)

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Mr Kirpatrick has led me to a place I would never have gone to on my own; he was an Assistant Engineer on Oingo Boingo’s Just a Lad released in 1981. I chose this album in the spirit of stepping outside my comfort zone. Prior to listening to this album, I was not familiar with much material besides a couple of Oingo Boing singles and the obvious soundtrack work that Danny Elfman has done over the years, I thought it would be an interesting place to explore.

First Listen: My initial impressions are mixed. To me, it sounds very dated and very specific to a small window of time, musically. I need some time with the lyrics as this is apparently where this album may stand out…There are absolutely points on this record where you can hear what would eventually become the Elfman signature sound. Most of the final song on the record, “Nasty Habits”, makes me giggle with visions of the Tim Burton flicks yet to come.

Here is a transcript of an interview Danny Elfman did with Sean O’neil.  He discusses his thoughts when writing some of Only A Lad.

Next Link: Out of the gate, I feel like I have a few avenues to travel. I am intrigued by the Ray Davies 2017 album Americana. I can get there because Oingo Boingo covered You Really Got Me on Only A Lad. I’m also interested in Danny Elfman’s partner-in-crime, Steve Bartek, . Turns out Steve Bartak is quite the accomplished soundtrack composer and contributor in his own right. In fact, Elfman brought Bartek in on the Pee Wee’s Big Adventure soundtrack because of Bartek’s arranging education and chops.

 

2/9 Full Immersion: I gave Only A Lad a real good, full immersion listen tonight. I decided to read the lyrics at the same time. It is really odd listening to this record knowing Elfman not from this era (1981) but from his future work (Nightmare Before Christmas, Batman, etc.). It was actually a ton of fun hearing the motifs that he would be using later to make his millions. I was also trying to pay special attention to the arrangements. It was likely Steve Bartak who was responsible for these at the time, given his education and what we know about the Pee Wee’s Big Adventure story. From an arrangement perspective, I was particularly taken with the horns and bass on this record.

The lyrics, of course, really stand out. They seem to be coming from a place of political neutrality, if political at all. They range from creepy (Little Girls) to introspective honesty (On the Outside). Impostor is particularly cutting for this observer (hehe). The vocals are noteworthy, often delivered in a staccato, rap style that dates the record a bit. When Elfman lets his voice become a part of the melody, I found my interest piqued; hes voice left me yearning for more melodic vocalizations.

 

In the end, I really was smitten with Only A Lad. I look forward to the rediscovery phase.

 

Link Person: Ray Davies. Oingo Boingo covered You Really Got Me (with an eye on Devo’s Satisfaction) on Only A Lad. I am choosing Ray Davies because he released an album in 2017, Americana, that caught the critic’s attention and was found on many “Top X” lists for albums in 2017. In the spirit of reaching outside one’s comfort zone (which I really didn’t do in the first 3 weeks of this adventure), I choose this album because I have never had a great taste for The Kinks’ music. I wonder if this is a gateway drug into Ray Davies’ world?

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Week 4 Ray Davies – Americana (2017)

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2/10 Americana – Initial Impressions: Turns out the band on this record is pretty much The Jayhawks.

 

Initial Impressions: For my first few days with this record I have found myself wondering out of a Ray Davies record and into, at times a Billy Bragg record or a Randy Newman record. It’s a is pretty straight-ahead story-telling rock record. This record is the work of a troubadour/bard who knows that the best way to tell his stories in while music is accompanied. Feels like a “music-second” project to me. It is particularly strong when the shackles come off and the band is allowed to rock a little (A Place In Your Heart).

 

Holy crow…this is boring. I have to get myself as far away from this one as possible. The spoken word over the guitar is infinitely better than the songs. He should have done the whole thing this way.

 

I’m feeling like I am going to be listening to a Jayhawks record next, but we’ll see. I am looking at all the press and it looks like Hollywood Town Hall is the way to go.

 

Link Person: My link person is Gary Louris. I am linking from Ray Davies Americana. Much of The Jayhawks current line-up appears on Americana so I figured there is no better time than the present to figure out who The Jayhawks are. With some advice from ALC group member Kenneth Tretler, I decided to use The Jayhawks’ album Hollywood Town Hall.  Because I have a record in mind that I would eventually like to get to, I already have my link person in mind for next week. In the meantime, I can already tell that I am going to enjoy this one quite a bit. I’m ready for a harmtastic week.

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Week 5

The Jayhawks – Hollywood Town Hall (1992)

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I have been listening to this record all week. I have been waiting and waiting for it to break out and make me realize I like it. Sorry to say, it never really got there. That’s not to say this isn’t a good record, it is…I think it is probably just not my cup of tea.

2/22 Full Immersion: I finally got a full, unbroken listen to this record tonight and realized it is really a tale of 2 album sides. Despite the fact that the first side has the timeless classic, Waiting For The Sun, the first side just sort of plots along. I find it interesting that my next week’s link person, Nicky Hopkins, is the player of the first note you hear on the record (is that saying something or am I reading too much into that).

A little positive on side 1, I really love the organ on Crying In The Wings; its beautifully orchestrated with the piano. Hopkins has a quiet elegance on that cut too…very nice accents. Clouds is a bit of a filler song to me…not too much here, however interesting organ again. The rest of this side didn’t hold my attention.

For me, side two is much more interesting. Sister Cry hits it out of the park with a magnificent chorus; gets me toe-tapping and head bobbing for the first time. Settled Down Like Rain is when someone allowed drummer Ken Callahan to finally introduce himself. To this point in the record, his performance was decidedly underwhelming. The gloves have come off. Wichita has a great guitar outro. On Nevada, California, Gary Louris took a page of Lou Reed’s vocal styling to give a nice change of pace. One can’t help but sing the chorus along with the record on this cut.

Overall, good record. What I failed to mention earlier is how much I like the guitar work on this record. I was pleasantly surprised by that. I will likely live in side 2 for a while, and fully expect side 1 to slap me in the face one day …knock me down, pick me up and Set me in a Row.

Link Person: My link person is Nicky Hopkins. I am linking from The Jayhawks Hollywood Town Hall to Nicky Hopkins’ The Tin Man Was A Dreamer. 

There isn’t too much to say about this guy that hasn’t already been said…Heck, he’s got a full-fledged biography written about him. One could probably call him the Rock Piano Player’s rock piano player. The guy was a monster; played on a million records and recorded with all the greats.  The Stones, The Kinks, Airplane, NRPS, Jeff Beck, Steve Miller Band, and all of members of The Beatles are on his huge resume. Learning more about him has been a pleasure and a benefit of doing this project. Nicky Hopkins, for me, is a poster-child for the whole “link-person” concept to begin with. He is so prolific, he makes me want to challenge myself to just collect records with Nicky Hopkins in the credits.

Nicky Hopkins

Week 6

Nicky Hopkins – The Tin Man was a Dreamer (1973)

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Initial Impressions – of “Tin Man” – (Klaus Voormann sighting!) A timeless gift of great musicians making great music for some dope 45 years later to discover and enjoy. The obvious is true; Hopkins is a joy to listen to either as a front man or supporting player. George Harrison (credited as George O’Hara) pops off this record and sounds great. I chose this record because I wanted to hear Nicky Hopkins in his own element and there is a player on this record that is on the record I have been gunning for for a few weeks.

Kinda freaky album cover, though.

3/2 Full Immersion: 

Side 1.

Sundown in Mexico – A piano solo song that captured my attention. Allowed me to ease into the record. Reflective tune that makes me feel like I should be watching the sunset over the Pacific Ocean.

Waiting for the Band – Has a cool little groove that makes me interested in the drummer, Prairie Prince who is quite the prolific drummer. Slick George Harrison slide will put a smile on anyone’s face. This song is the prequel to Kiss’ Beth, I think.

Edward – Instrumental jam with a great groove. Super-smooth breakdown for with a sax solo, playing hide-and-seek with George. Hopkins showing organ chops on this one.

Dolly – Mick Taylor makes his first appearance and solos with the strings…Very pretty spot.

Speed On – Great end to the album side that makes me want to flip it over and listen to more. Also, my link person, Jim Horn, jumps into the fun. George Harrison, killing it again.

Side 2

The Dreamer – A personal, introspective number.  Starts side 2 the same way…reflective.

Banana Anna – TIME TO BOOGIE! The beast, Bobby Keys rocking.

Lawyer’s Lament – A hook-driven, poppy tune with a pretty melody. Great interplay between Hopkins and Mick Taylor.

Shout it Out – Another sweet groove-driven tune with a big anthem section of the chorus.

Pig’s Boogie – Like side one, this tune blasts off the record that makes me want to flip the record. Again, Bobby Keys with a prominent role.

This album has hip contributions by members of The Rolling Stones, Mick Taylor and Bobby Keys 😉 ) and The Beatles (George Harrison). The album was recorded at Apple Studios in London. I appreciate the how the album sounds more like a band then it does a solo guy with some hired guns. Overall, a wonderful addition to my listening experience. For a “weekend” side project, not to shabby.

Link Person: Jim Horn plays sax on one cut on Nicky Hopkins The Tin Man Was a Dreamer and plays on The Beach Boys Pet Sounds. Horn is a prolific worker whose credits begin in 1959 with Duane Eddy and has most recently appeared on Allison Kraus’ 2017 release, Windy City. Horn was party to the famous Wrecking Crew. He famously played the flute line on Going Up the Country by Canned Heat.

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Week 7

The Beach Boys – Pet Sounds (1966)

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I wanted to listen to The Beach Boys Pet Sounds for a couple reasons. 1) I wanted to see what all the fuss was about and 2) I impulsively bought the green and yellow vinyl a few weeks ago (so I’ve been driving to this record for a few weeks now). Without looking, I figured that I probably knew most of the songs on this record. Turns out that is not nearly the case, so it will be very new for me. I am really looking forward to this this week with this record.

Mid-Week Observations: Apple Music offers a version that has both Mono and Stereo versions. I have listened to both and I think I prefer the Stereo.

There are a million things to discover on this record; it’s going to take a lifetime for me to sift through all the layers and nuances. However, what is sticking out to me at the beginning of my exploration of this music (aside from the obvious CRAZY vocal performances and harms) is the percussion. There are percussive instruments being utilized in ways that have to be unique to this record in the rock genre (to the point of its release). Lovely timpani accents, like in Don’t Talk, are understated and delicate.

God Only Knows – According to Wikipedia – Paul McCartney has called it his favorite song of all time. In an interview with David Leaf in 1990 he stated, “I was asked recently to give my top 10 favorite songs for a Japanese radio station … I didn’t think long and hard on it but I popped that [God Only Knows] on the top of my list. It’s very deep. Very emotional, always a bit of a choker for me, that one.” Speaking again in 2007, McCartney said: “‘God Only Knows’ is one of the few songs that reduces me to tears every time I hear it. It’s really just a love song, but it’s brilliantly done. It shows the genius of Brian. I’ve actually performed it with him and I’m afraid to say that during the sound check I broke down. It was just too much to stand there singing this song that does my head in and to stand there singing it with Brian.” Brian responded apprehensively to McCartney’s admiration of the song in the 1970s: “Like, if ‘God Only Knows’ is the greatest song ever written, then I’ll never write anything as good again! And if I never write anything as good, then I’m finished.”

 

3/9 Full Immersion and other thoughts: Had a great week with this record. I fully immersed myself in in one time and listened to it all the way through about a dozen times. Unfortunately, the new vinyl that I bought is a bit warped, somewhat convex (or concave depending on which way you turn it). That makes side 1 a real problem. The retailer offered to take it back, but I decided to keep it. That, of course, means I will be an expert on Side 2 of Pet Sounds. The big, pleasant surprise for me with this record was the use of percussion. Throughout, it is fascinating to hear the various ways percussion is being used and experimented with. Listening to it with the knowledge of where Brian Wilson’s mental health was headed was a lot like having a spoiler into his world.

There is a lifetime of experiences that I will have with this one. I am happy I had the time with it and look forward to my future listening to Pet Sounds.

 

Link Person: Mike Deasy Mike Deasy played guitar on Pet Sounds and played guitar on Barbra Streisand’s – Barbra Joan Streisand. Deasy’s got some serious chops and a massive resume. According to his website, he started backing up national acts when he was still in high school. Being a “member” of the infamous Wrecking Crew, MD found himself on a ton of records in the 60’s and 70’s. As it turns out, he played on one of my favorite records from my youth More of the Monkees.

Mike Deasey

 

Week 8 Barbra Streisand – Barbra Joan Streisand (1971)

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This record is my choice for a few reasons. 1. I was intent on getting to a record that isn’t this one, but needed a link person to get there. This record provides that. 2. I know Babs’ work from later in the 70’s (Guilty) but have had little exposure to her other work. 3. Guilty pleasure.

This should prove to be a fun week. This album features none other then Donald Fagen and Billy Preston on organ, Bobby Keys on sax and features a song written by Fagen and Walter Becker, “I mean to Shine”.

Link Person – Walter Becker

He wrote the song “I Mean To Shine” (with Donald Fagen) that appears on the album Barbra Joan Streisand. He was a member of the band Steely Dan and I am linking to Steely Dan’s Katy Lied (1975).

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Week 9 Steely Dan – Katy Lied (1975)

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Initial (random) thoughts on this record.

  1. I heart Michel McDonald. Ole’ Potato Mouth is, in fact, the world’s best male backup singer.
  2. What’s up with the song-ending fadeout? Not sure why, but it hit me like a ton of bricks at the end of Black Friday. Got me curious what the history is of the fadeout and there is very little definitive information (that I could find) on the exact origin of the fadeout. There are a million reasons that producers/engineers use it, not the least of which is “we don’t have an ending.” Mainly, it’s been used to emphasize the hook, making it the last thing the audience hears to get them wanting for more. Hard to believe that either reason is the case for Black Friday.
  3. “Doctor Wu” is a masterpiece.
  4. Chuck Rainey is a monster (duh!)

End of Week Thoughs

This record my not be regarded Steely Dan’s best. Seems Aja has that spot sewn up. I have read that Becker and Fagen were disappointed with the sound mixing on the final results. Seems I have sorta hear that at times. What I didn’t research is if this record went through a remaster/reissue. I should probably investigate that.

I found myself completely smitten with “Dr Wu”. Until giving this album a try I had never really given it the time of day. It now may be my favorite SD song.

I still can’t get beyond the fadeouts. It feels like this record should be 6-7 minutes longer (it comes in under 40 minutes) based on the number of songs that just fadeout. There are so many opportunities to end these songs dramatically and musically. I guess it’s just one of those questions you want to ask the decision makers. How much of this was business decisions to keep the songs shorter and how much of it was the heroin leading the team to belive “ahh…good enough. Just fade it out.”

Loved this week with this record. Loved being able to listen with the perspective of the passing of Walter Becker. Loved listening to Jeff Porcaro all week. I am using monster-bass god, Chuck Rainey as my link person. Next week should be interesting.

Link Person: Chuck Rainey

My Link person is Chuck Rainey who played bass on Steely Dan’s Katy Lied and played bass on Dave Mason’s record Its Like You Never Left. CR started his career as a session bass player in the mid-60’s. He has played on countless records with countless artists. Perhaps his most recognizable groove in on Aretha Franklin’s “Rock Steady” (see Week 2 of this adventure). Peg is another of his beastly contributions to the fabric of our musical tapestry. Listening to to Peg as I am writing this and it sorta just makes me giggle. It is so fresh.

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Week 10: Dave Mason – It’s Like You Never Left (1973)

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Initial (random) thoughts on this record.

  1. Wacky lyrics at times. The second cut, Every Woman, is a real head-scratcher (and a little creepy) . “You are every woman in the world to me, especially when I make love to you.” I think most folks would rather be made love to without all the other folks of their gender getting the same lovin’. “You’re a child, a girl, a woman. You are everything I’d choose.” Creepy, Dave.
  2. The song If You’ve Got Love has some familiar sounding guitar work. Dave poaching George Harrison’s tone on this one. Sound great, but a poach.
  3. I’d say that side 2 is much stronger, overall. With Missty Morning Stranger, Side Tracked and The Lonely One all excellent listens, side 2 is the winner.
  4. Love the guitar work throughout the entire record. I like the space jam that is Side Tracked.
  5. Stevie Wonder, on The Lonely One, is so tasteful. Understatement of the year: He is such a great harmonica player.
  6. Bass by Steve Miller Band bassist, Lonnie Turner on Misty Morning Stranger is fresh. Great tone.

The Lonely One has really grabbed me. Stevie Wonder is playing harmonica on this one…really jams out.

Link Person: Stevie Wonder

My link person is Stevie Wonder who played on the track The Lonely One on Dave Mason’s It’s Like You Never Left. I am linking to Stevie Wonder’s Innervisions.1_Ng5KmtWZK0PX0-ok27bU6A.jpg

Week 11: Stevie Wonder Innervisions (1973)

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Stevie Wonder’s Innervisions is and American masterpiece and a national treasure. There is so much to say about this record, it’s tough to know where to start.  How about this…Stevie was 23 years old when he made this record. 23. Let that sink in a bit. I feel that fact is noteworthy because the voice is that of a seasoned, mature man. Yes, Stevie had years of experience in the recording industry to this point but the musical and lyrical voice sounds more like an ancient sage then a man of 23 years.

I almost fee honored to hear this record in the intentional ways that I have this week. Tonight (4/5/2018) I listened on a full immersive way. I would say I allowed myself to listen to it in a meditative state. It was beautiful; gorgeous. I have experienced the singles (Higher Ground, Living for the City, Don’t You Worry About A Thing) but had never listened to this album as a whole.

Technically it was really fun to hear the various element that were being presented. Stevie played the vast majority of the instruments himself so it was cool to visualize him playing the various parts in the studio. It seemed at times that the drums were set back in the mix, almost de-emphasized.

This week was great.

Link Person: Willie Weeks Willie Weeks was one of the few musicians not named Stevie Wonder allowed to grace the grooves of Innervisions (on He’s Misstra Know It All). He also played on Randy Newman’s Good Old Boys. Mr.Week’s huge resume is impressive having played on tour or in the studio with Clapton, Harrison, Bowie, and many more.

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Week 12: Randy Newman Good Old Boys (1974)

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This week didn’t start so promising but ended pretty well. I have had after my first listen-through, I was very concerned that I was going to have a tough time listening to this record this week. Fortunately for me, by the end, I found myself singing along with it. In fact, I found that I would be singing the tunes away from a listening to it. When singing lyrics from this record, use caution in public places. you may find yourself in some compromising situations.

In researching this record, I found that it is the focus a literary treatments,”He May Be a Fool But He’s Our Fool: Lester Maddox, Randy Newman, and the American Culture Wars,” around an incident with Lester Maddox on the Dick Cavett show. Essentially, Newman found the treatment of Maddox to be out of line, however disagreeable Maddox is to the progressive mind. Rednecks proves to be a wonderful expose of the hypocrisy of white northerners.

I feel like I have fallen victim to the Randy Newman trap. Love the writing; I have a tough time with the vocals. One thought that I have is that I would likely like Randy Newman songs as sung/interpreted by other artists. I would like to give a tribute album a try Sail Away: The Songs of Randy Newman.

Link Person: Al Perkins played pedal steel guitar on Randy Newman’s Good Old Boys and played pedal steel on Gram Parson’s Grievous Angel.  The Gibson guitar company called Perkins “the world’s most influential dobro player”. Perkins played with a number of acts in the early 70’s with the likes of Flying Burrito Brothers, The Rolling Stones (on Exile on Main St.), Steven Stills and others. He went on to become a producer as well as a Pedal  steel and dobro player.

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Week 13: Gram Parsons Grievous Angel (1973)

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The music of Gram Parson and The Byrds is important to family members of mine. I have admittedly never really explored his music. I think it’s about time.

Alternate (original) cover

The original cover for Gram's second album, now called Grievous Angel. Gretchen Parsons was responsible for changing the title, cover, and deleting many of Emmylou's contributions -- including her name. Source: http://www.earcandymag.com/rrcase-gramparsons.htm

This was an wonderful week. This album is an excellent listen. I listed to this record over and over. I fell in love with song after song. There is so much to say about this album; it’s magnificent musicians, strange story regarding the would-be cover, the strange decision regarding the “live” cuts to open Side 2, Gram’s struggles with addiction and his death post-production. All of that stuff is legendary.  It would all fall on deaf ears if the music wasn’t worth a damn. Well the legends were developed because the music is so good. It is worth a damn. This is a straight-up, damn good listen. Falling in love with Emmylou Harris is so easy to do. She was brilliant on this record.

Link person Gram Parsons

 

Week 14: The Byrds Sweetheart of the Rodeo (1968)

Here is the start of it all. Country Rock origins are in these grooves. Having listened to Grievous Angel last week this is an interesting place to see the origins of those eventual sessions.

I get it. I don’t entirely care for it. I found myself enjoying the cut “One Hundred Years from Now” which is noteworthy because I think it appealed to me from a “Byrds-esque” feel. Look…I get it. It’s important. It was integral to launching a genre. I guess the problem is that the genre is not one that is particularly appealing to me.

 

Link Person Bob Dylan – The Byrds covered “You Ain’t Going Nowhere” and “Nothing was Delivered”. Bryan Ferry covered “A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall,” on his first solo effort, These Foolish Things.

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Bryan Ferry is apparently a big Bob Dylan fan, having later cut the full LP tribute, Dylanesque. William Pankey wrote – “Ferry has had a long-extended dalliance with Bob Dylan throughout his career. Back in 2007, the singer released an album of Dylan covers, the safe and well-intentioned Dylanesque. To find Ferry’s first take on Dylan, you have to go back to Ferry’s debut solo album These Foolish Things. The album–which Ferry recorded with Roxy Music and that he released a couple of years after Roxy Music’s For Your Pleasure–starts off with “A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall,” Ferry’s best Dylan cover bar none. He turns Dylan’s scorched vocals into a theatrical, gospel-tinged, barrelhouse rocker that Ferry has had trouble topping.”

Week 15: Bryan Ferry These Foolish Things (1973)

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First Impressions: (Worst album cover in the history of record covers.) This record is a welcome retreat from the roots of Country Rock I found myself exploring over the last couple weeks. This album is a bit more in my wheelhouse. There is a lot of love for this record out there and for good reason. It is a beautiful temporal exploration of the pop tune. It seems “A Hard Rain is Gonna Come” is worth the price of admission alone.

A random note of coolness: The bass player on this record, John Porter, played bass on and produced The Smiths “How Soon is Now”.

I had a great week with this record. Be it the familiarity with the songs or what…I’m not too sure. Maybe 2 weeks of country-rock was two too many. In any case, these songs have been really fun. I have always loved Bryan Ferry’s voice yet have never really had too much exposure to him outside of radio exposure.

5/3 Full Immersion – I took a good listen tonight. I’m not super-impressed with the production value of this record. It wasn’t articulate to me. The songs are great; very good retrospective of pop music.

Week 16: Roxy Music –  Siren (1975)

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Initial Impressions: The End of the Line is one of the most hauntingly beautiful vocal performances I have ever heard. There are times on this journey when I say “Ah Ha! That’s the reason I’m doing this.” From the very first listen of that song, I knew it was special. I stopped what I was doing immediately and really listened to it. Today is Monday. Since I started this album on Saturday, I have probably listened to it 8 to 10 times. I have probably listened to The End of the Line 15 times. It is still giving me goosebumps.

 

Another thought is the vocal style on Whirlwind. It feels like a predecessor to Punk styling that I have heard. A bit jarring but very appealing.

This album has me hook, line and sinker. Probably my second favorite thus far (behind Young Gifted and Black).

It’s Thursday…I am discovering more and more every listen and there have been a ton of listens.

Link Person Ross Cullum – Ross Cullum was an engineer on Roxy Music’s Siren and was a producer on Paul McCartney’s Flowers in the Dirt. Specifically RC produced only one cut, Motor of Love on Flowers in the Dirt.

RC has over 300 credits to his name on Discogs. One that jumped out at me was producer on Tears for Fears “Change”. Sweet tune. Workd with a bunch of cool acts in the 80’s…Ric Ocasek, Howard Jones, Wang Chung, Enya, and Cindy Lauper.

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Week 17: Paul McCartney –  Flowers in the Dirt (1989)

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Link Person Paul McCartney – Paul McCartney played a large number of instruments and produced much of Flowers in the Dirt. PM wrote The Long and Winding Road and Nancy Wilson covered that song on her album Now I’m a Woman.rs-181606-102324460.jpg

Week 18: Nancy Wilson – Now I’m a Woman (1970)

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Writing a brief retro-write up. This album doesn’t really become that true Philly International-sound until about the last track. Enjoyable, nonetheless. A very easy listen.

 

 

Link Person – Leonard Pakula

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Week 19: The O’Jays – Back Stabbers (1972)

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Link Person – Earl Young – Drummer
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Week 20: Dusty Springfield – A Brand New Me (1970)

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Link Person – Roland Chambers

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Week 21 Teddy Pendergrass – TP (1980)

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Link Person –  Rob Mounsey

I first found RM in the 80s when he was a prominant player on some Denon Jazz labeled CDs that I was gifted. He was a good intro into

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Week 22 Spyro Gyra – Incognito (1982)

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Link Person – Marcus Miller

I first came upon Marcus Miller on a record he did with Bob James and David Sandborn called Double Vision. My first, true introduction to music outside the rock/pop world. Albeit mid-80’s schmaltz, I fell in love with that record, and moreover, in love with Marcus Miller. He has been a favorite of mine for a long time and listening to him play for 2 weeks on music that is new to me was a real treat. This is one of the reasons I do this project.

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Week 23 – Miles Davis – We Want Miles (1981)

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Retro’d Thoughts – Great week. I am monumentally guilty of the hipster-view of Miles. Listen to Kind of Blue or Birth of Cool and, bang…I’m good. This album helped guide my understanding of who this artist was, particularly as a band leader. Any fan of Jazz or of Miles, or of Prog-Rock should listen to this record. This is very young Marcus Miller holding down the back end with a funky elegance. This record is really a treasure. I am so happy to have it on my list.

Link Person – Mike Stern

Interesting player. Both of the Jazz guitarists in my life have had some educational encounter with him in their tutelage.

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Week 24 Mike Stern – Upside Downside (1986)

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First Impressions – Ugh! Mid-80’s fusion. Lots of schmaltz here. Also, I feel like the engineer is not a fan of bass players. The bass is not pronounced enough.

End of the Week – As can be seen with my  first listen, I thought this was going to be a very long, Miami Vicey week. I was sorta-wrong.  This guy is a top notch player with a top notch band had the unfortunate fact that he was making a record in 1986. There are elements of this record that scream 1986, and at other times it does become more timeless. At the end of the day, its a pretty good record.

I was super-happy to be listening to Bob Berg for the week. That was a bonus that I was a bit of a surprise to me. I suppose it could be a Jaco bias, but the one cut that he’s on, Mood Swings, is probably my favorite.

I must say that I am not super-impressed with the mix or levels. I find myself yearning for more emphasis on Dave Weckl, but am not getting it. Speaking of Dave Weckl, I asked a drummer acquaintance of mine what he thought of Dave Weckel. He went on to tell me how he is his drum hero and so much so, had set up his kit to emulate DW. Hmmm, we have a fan here…Anyway, this DW fan then offered that if I want a good example of DW’s work, I should check out Chick Corea’s Elektric Band – The Eye of the Beholder. I immediately downloaded it on my phone and, well, there is the text on how to make a fusion record in the 80’s. Dang, that is a good record.

Link Person – Jaco Pastorius

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Week 25 Weather Report – Heavy Weather (1977)91OiW6PgbTL._SL1500_.jpg

Pre-First Listen Thoughts – OK…I have been looking forward to spending a week with Jaco for a while now. This is our week together. I have said for years that Jaco and Joni are as beautiful a musical duo as one could find…if even for their brief time together. Now I’m ready to hear him a different element with different band mates. I expect this week to be excellent.

First Listen – Birdland leads us off. Ray Gual recently suggested that I be listening to this version of this song…So I am now.

7/13 – Last Day – This is my last day with this record. Spinning the vinyl. So nice to have had the experience of this record this week. It’s kinda neat to hear a record that embraces the slower tempo as well as the hot, grooving numbers.

Link Person – Wayne Shorter

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Week 26 Norah Jones …Featuring

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Link Person – Roy Orbison

Week 27 Roy Orbison Mystery Girl

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Link Person T-Bone Burnett

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Week 28 T-Bone Burnett The Talking Animals

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Link Person Tony Levin

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Week 29 Alice Cooper Welcome to My Nightmare

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