Posts Tagged ‘Coltrane’

“East-West” by the Butterfield Blues Band (1966)

David Crosby’s ramblings between songs during the Byrds’ set at the Monterey Pop Festival on June 17, 1967, have become the stuff of legend.

As bandmates Roger McGuinn, Chris Hillman and Michael Clarke listened very bemusedly, Crosby talked into the microphone at length about such topics as sanctioned drug use and the John F. Kennedy assassination. Probably not coincidentally, Crosby was an ex-Byrd a couple of months later.

One of his statements, though, resonated with many of those in attendance at the festival:

Man, if you didn’t hear Mike Bloomfield’s group, man, you are out of it, so far out of it.

The group in question, the Electric Flag, had performed earlier in the day, making its live debut, in fact. And much of the attention at Monterey was focused on Bloomfield, whose instrumental prowess had won him acclaim as perhaps the most highly regarded guitarist in rock music at the time.

Perhaps the performances of the likes of Jimi Hendrix and Pete Townshend (and to some degree, Jerry Garcia) the following night opened some eyes to the next wave of guitar stars. But as of Crosby’s proclamation, Michael Bloomfield was at the top of the pyramid.

He continues to be widely respected decades after his death on Feb. 15, 1981. Rolling Stone has ranked him as high as No. 22 on its periodic, and extremely fluid, lists of all-time greatest guitarists.

But his impact in the pre-Hendrix days seems to be little remembered.

As a teenager, Bloomfield already showed enough talent – and balls! – to walk onstage and play with many of Chicago’s top blues acts. After recording some sessions for Columbia Records in 1964, he joined the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, which was among the first American groups to combine the blues with the harder edge of rock. Butterfield and company, including second guitarist Elvin Bishop, quickly became a top national draw with its exhilarating live performances, and the band’s first album, “The Paul Butterfield Blues Band,” released in 1965, is considered a cornerstone of blues-rock.

Bloomfield, who’d grown up as a blues player, meanwhile was exploring other influences, including jazz and especially Eastern modal music. The latter – along with a dose of LSD, according to music critic and author Dave Marsh – inspired Bloomfield to compose what became the title track of the Butterfield Blues Band’s second album.

“East-West” is one of two instrumentals that take up roughly half the album’s playing time and went a long way toward establishing Butterfield and company as pioneers in exploring the possibilities of rock music. The rhythm section of bass player Jerome Arnold and Billy Davenport, the supporting instrumentation of keyboard player Mark Naftalin and guitarist Elvin Bishop, and Butterfield’s powerful, foghorn-like harmonica all build a solid foundation for extensive jamming. Then there’s Bloomfield’s guitar, which really carries the proceedings into previously uncharted territory.

The band’s cover of cornetist Nat Adderley’s “Work Song,” which wraps up Side One of the LP, represents an early foray into jazz-rock, for the most part following the standard hard-bop version until Bloomfield begins his solo, building the intensity as he shows off his fluid playing, transforming the easy-paced tune into a virtuoso guitar showcase.

Prior to the release of “East-West” in August 1966, few rock songs had ventured past the four-minute mark by anyone who was not Bob Dylan, Frank Zappa or the Rolling Stones. And none of their material sounded anything like “East-West,” the composition: 13 minutes of mind-melting intensity, courtesy of Mr. Bloomfield’s guitar. He set the stage for extended rock instrumentals, but few, if any, ever matched what he and the Butterfield band put on record.

“East-West” is built on a modal format, eschewing chord changes to give the soloists a platform for jamming, as grandly exhibited with Miles Davis’ landmark “Kind of Blue” and subsequent work by Davis’ tenor sax player at the time, John Coltrane. The theme is introduced by the band, with Bishop contributing a spirited guitar line to start proceedings, demonstrating him to be quite a capable instrumentalist, even as a bandmate of Bloomfield.

After about a minute and a half, Butterfield joins in on harmonica, doing a creditable job with his lung power of making his instrument the aural equivalent of an amplified electric guitar. The band chugs along behind him, bringing proceedings to a an early climax shortly before the 3-minute mark.

Then it’s Bloomfield’s turn. The title of “East-West” comes from his combining musical styles from different sides of the globe, and his “East” portion features a minor-scale counterpoint to the modal D, with Bishop eventually joining him as Butterfield and Naftalin help create a wall of sound leading up to an abrupt change in the action.

Nearing 7 minutes into the song, Bloomfield breaks into the melodic, relatively easygoing “West” section, switching to a more-recognizable major scale for his solo. Then, as David Dann writes in his essay “Beyond the Blues: A Critical Look at ‘East-West'”:

At 08:32 Bloomfield introduces the now-familiar Motive A, a four-note scaler run consisting of D-E-F-F#, and creates from it a marvelous compound phrase that twists and turns for a full 60 seconds, only resolving back to D some 40 bars later at 09:38. It’s no overstatement to assert that the coherence, clarity and Bach-like motion of this passage, “the 40-bar phrase,” establish Michael Bloomfield as one of rock’s greatest soloists. Certainly no one else before him had exhibited such musical virtuosity.

Bishop again helps provide a stunning dual-guitar attack as the song reaches its conclusion, the band breaking into a punctuated, bluesy rhythm that wraps up with an extended final note, with a quick Butterfield harp flourish serving as the final note.

Unfortunately, that also served as Bloomfield’s finale with Butterfield as far as studio recordings. He left the band the following spring to embark on the Electric Flag project, and later he worked on the well-regarded “Super Session” album.

After a so-so venture as one of Columbia Records’ featured solo artist and a brief Electric Flag reunion, Bloomfield released a number of uneven albums, the last being “Crusin’ For A Brusin’,” which came out on John Fahey’s Takoma label shortly before Bloomfield was found dead in his car in San Francisco.

Photographer-filmmaker Deborah Chesher recently compiled her work of deceased musicians into a fascinating volume called “Everybody I Shot Is Dead.” The first chapter is on Michael Bloomfield, whose death probably touched her the most among the dozens of subjects in the book. She wraps up the chapter with:

If you’ve never heard him play, find his CDs and listen. Michael Bloomfield was an exceptional musician. He was also intelligent, mischievous, curious, crazy and a whole lot of sweetness. I was lucky to know him.

The other half of the “East-West” album contains more stellar examples of the Butterfield band’s groundbreaking forays into blues-rock, including a definitive reading of Robert Johnson’s “Walkin’ Blues” and a cover of Michael Nesmith’s “Mary Mary,” before he did his own version with the Monkees. Also featured is Allen Toussaint’s “Get Out of My Life Woman,” which the band had issued as its debut single the previous year.

The songs with vocals make for good listening, certainly. But if you enjoy rock instrumentals, “East-West” is a must.

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“At Fillmore East” by the Allman Brothers Band (1971)

The first two albums by the Allman Brothers Band drew plenty of critical acclaim, and the latter, “Idlewild South,” rose to No. 38 on Billboard. But the main knock on those efforts was that, as good as they were, they hardly captured the concert experience.

Perhaps taking a cue from other bands in similar situations – the Grateful Dead and Quicksilver Messenger Service come to mind – the Allmans opted to record live for their third album. On March 12 and 13, 1971, the tape rolled at New York’s Fillmore East, capturing a couple of performances. The reels went to producer Tom Dowd, who did some tweaking to come up with two LPs’ worth of material.

The results were better than anyone could have anticipated, given the Allmans’ propensity to stretch out songs and the relatively primitive recording technology available. “At Fillmore East” captures what may have been the most dynamic rock band of the time, and that certainly was when giants roamed the earth.

The Allmans and Dowd divided the LPs thematically: The first consisted of blues covers, the second of originals. In this band’s case, the term “cover” is used loosely; each of the first four tracks is given a treatment that defines it as an Allman Brothers standard.

The album kicks off with its most radio-friendly song to this day, Blind Willie McTell’s “Statesboro Blues.” Willie never would have envisioned the power of Duane Allman’s opening slide guitar licks, punctuated by the rest of the band playing the main riff, launching into an eminently memorable blues-rock groove. Gregg Allman, though just 23 at the time, nails the half-boasting, half-pleading attitude of the tune’s narrator.

“Done Somebody Wrong” – credited to Elmore James, Clarence Lewis and Bobby Robinson – follows in a similar vein, with the Allmans giving the song a much grittier reading than the version did as “I Ain’t Done Wrong” several years earlier. Guest Thom Doucette complements the performance on some well-played harmonica.

Duane introduces “Stormy Monday” as a Bobby “Blue” Bland song before correcting himself to credit composer T-Bone walker, who called it “Call It Stormy Monday (But Tuesday Is Just As Bad).” Some notable rock versions included those by early hard-rockers Cream and Mountain, but the Allmans ended up with the definitive version, a slow blues that allows Duane and fellow guitarist Dickey Betts to show off their chops. Dowd cut about three minutes off the song for the LP; the full version later was released on the compilation called “The Fillmore Concerts.”

“You Don’t Love Me” is another popular blues-rock numbers of the ’60s, recorded by the likes of Kaleidoscope, John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers and the Al Kooper-Stephen Stills “Super Session” project. Those versions of the Willie Cobbs song are minor efforts compared with the Allmans’ behemoth: 19 minutes of guitar virtuosity, the likes of which hadn’t been heard on vinyl to that point, especially Duane’s lengthy unaccompanied turn. No wonder he was one of the most-demanded session guitarists of the era, in addition to his regular gig.

A relatively compact instrumental, “Hot ‘Lanta,” follows, a group composition that shows the Allmans’ collective knack for adapting melodic hooks to more complex arrangements, this time by way of bass player Berry Oakley. The outro seems to go on just a bit long, but it does give percussionist Butch Trucks an opportunity to display his skills on timpani.

Betts’ “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed,” which appears on “Idlewild South” as the band’s first original instrumental, doubles its length for the live version. The song demonstrates the band’s ability to seamlessly incorporate jazz elements into its repertoire, to a point that the musicians have drawn favorable comparisons to the work of John Coltrane and Miles Davis, which in as of itself is quite a feat. Trucks and fellow drummer Jai Johanny Johanson team up for an extended percussion duet, one that would grow in length in concerts over the decades.

The LP’s four side starts with one of rock’s classic artist-audience discourses.

Duane: “Berry starts her off.”

Fan: “‘Whipping Post’!”

Duane: “You guessed it.”

Oakley’s thundering bass in 11/4 time opens the epic, with the other instruments reaching a crescendo before Gregg begins wailing his tale of woe: “I’ve been run down, I’ve been lied to, and I don’t know why I let that girl make me out a fool/Took all my money, wrecked my new car, now she’s with one of my good-time buddies, they’re drinking in some cross-town bar.”

After the chorus, Duane takes an extended solo prior to the second verse: “My friends tell me I’ve been such a fool, and I had to stand back and take it, baby, all for loving you/I drown myself in sorrow as I look at what you’ve done/Nothing seems to change, the bad times stay the same, and I can’t run.”

Betts then solos before he and Duane take the song up the scale to its climax, where listeners to the debut album, “The Allman Brothers Band,” would expect the song’s finale. Instead, the band immerses itself into improvisational mode, seemingly drawing from the New Thing school of jazz before Betts comes up with a tidy guitar lead against well-assembled backing. Finally, Gregg’s vocal closes the proceedings …

… but not so fast. The group experiments again, with Duane throwing in a bit of the familiar “Frere Jacque,” for several more minutes before Gregg groans the actual finale, “Lord don’t you know, that I feel, like I’m dying.” The band wraps it up before Trucks starts rolling on the tympani to signal the start to another song.

Those present at the concert, itself, knew what followed. But it wasn’t until the release of “Eat a Peach” the following year that album listeners learned that the 22-plus minutes of “Whipping Post” segued into 33-plus minutes of “Mountain Jam.” The two later were linked in that manner on “The Fillmore Concerts,” after CD technology made such a pairing possible.

“At Fillmore East” spreads nearly 80 minutes of music over only seven tracks, but even critics who usually complain about extended compositions seem to agree that the Allmans provide one of the few examples in which more actually is more.

The record-buying public agreed, sending the album to No. 13 and establishing the Allman Brothers Band as one of the hottest acts going.

On Oct. 29, 1971, Duane Allman was riding his motorcycle in his hometown of Macon, Ga., when he struck the back of a flatbed truck that had stopped suddenly in the middle of an intersection. He died a few hours later, just 24 years old.

The Allman Brothers Band not only managed to soldier on but still is a top concert draw more than 40 years later, with Gregg, Butch and Jaimoe around from the Fillmore East days. The group has continued to produce quality music, but its third album always will stand as its high-water mark.

“Blue Train” by John Coltrane (1957)

In the pantheon of jazz, John Coltrane generally is recognized as the Last Giant; in fact, that’s the title of a somewhat unrepresentative anthology of his work. Among jazz aficionados, Coltrane’s death in 1967 at age 40 left a void that has yet to be filled. And probably never will.

Coltrane was about a week short of his 30th birthday when he entered Rudy Van Gelder’s studio in Hackensack, N.J., to record a one-off album for Blue Note Records. At the time, Coltrane was hardly a “giant.” His best-known work was as tenor sax player in Miles Davis’ band, but he lost that gig because of drug problems just as Miles hit the big time by signing with Columbia Records.

Subsequently, Coltrane found himself recording with a variety of artists for Prestige Records, the results of which since have been encapsulated in a 16-CD set. Yes, I did spend a couple of hundred bucks for it …

In the meantime, Blue Note founder Alfred Lion signed Coltrane for a one-record deal, and he recorded it on Sept. 15, 1957, with a lineup drawn partially from Davis’ band: Paul “Mr. PC” Chambers on bass and the inimitable “Philly” Jo Jones on drums. Rounding out the lineup were Kenny Drew on piano, Lee Morgan on trumpet and Curtis Fuller on trombone, an instrumental rarely employed in Coltrane recordings.

The day’s work yielded a record that established Coltrane at once as a major songwriting talent and a practically unbelievable wielder of the tenor saxophone. Each of the album’s five songs serves as a showcase for his playing within the friendly confines of eminently listenable tunes.

The title track is the most well-known on the album, and perhaps within Coltrane’s immense catalog. The beginning call and response sets the tone for a pice that, throughout its 10 minutes, treats the listener to constant inventiveness among the musicians.

“Moment’s Notice” serves as a showcase for each band member showing off his chops, with Drew contributing a particularly melodic piano run before the whole ensemble reprises the upbeat melody.

“Locomotion” is the fastest-paced song on the album, which the instrumentalists playing to a theme that might emulate a train ride. “I’m Old Fashioned,” the standard written by Jerome Kern and Johnny Mercer, slows down the pace considerably, allowing Coltrane to demonstrate he could do more than play lightning-fast runs on his horn.

The proceedings wrap up with “Lazy Bird,” which despite the title picks the pace right back up. Morgan takes the first solo, and it’s a memorable one, showing the speed and complexity that a brass player can conjure. Fuller’s spot is a bit disappointing by contrast, especially when Coltrane follows with his pristine chops.

According to Michael Cuscuna’s liner notes in the 1996 CD reissue of “Blue Train,” Coltrane called it his favorite album of his own work. It certainly put him on the map as far as the jazz world was concerned, and it remains probably the most listenable of the many recordings he produced during his relatively short career.

One of my favorite online resources is AllMusic.

The database, if it doesn’t literally contain all music, comes pretty darned close. It certainly is a great resource for learning about worthwhile listens.

The guide rates recordings, from 1 to 5 stars. Following is a list of the 5-star albums in my collection. Well, most of them. I didn’t delve into “various artists” collections, and there may be some single-artists compilations that I missed. But this might give you an idea of what to check out on Spotify, or if you want to actually spend money and support the various artists.

  • AC/DC: “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap”
  • Allman Brothers Band: “Idlewild South,” “At Fillmore East,” “Eat a Peach”
  • Gene Ammons: “The Happy Blues”
  • Louis Armstong: “Louis Armstrong Plays W.C. Handy”
  • Albert Ayler: “Live in Greenwich Village: The Complete Impulse Sessions”
  • The Band: “Music from Big Pink,” “The Band”
  • The Beatles: “Please Please Me,” “With the Beatles,” “A Hard Day’s Night,” “Beatles for Sale,” “Help!,” “Rubber Soul,” “Revolver,” “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” “Magical Mystery Tour,” “The Beatles,” “Abbey Road”
  • Jeff Beck: “Truth”
  • Chuck Berry: “St. Louis to Liverpool”
  • Big Brother & the Holding Company: “Cheap Thrills”
  • Big Star: “#1 Record,” “Third/Sister Lovers”
  • Black Sabbath: “Paranoid,” “Master of Reality,” “Volume 4”
  • Blur: “Parklife”
  • David Bowie: “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars,” “Low,” “Heroes”
  • Brinsley Schwarz: “Nervous On the Road”
  • Dave Brubeck Quartet: “Time Out”
  • Jeff Buckley: “Grace”
  • Butterfield Blues Band: “Paul Butterfield Blues Band,” “East-West”
  • The Byrds: “Sweetheart of the Rodeo”
  • Can: “Tago Mago”
  • Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band: “Safe As Milk,” “Trout Mask Replica”
  • Johnny Cash: “Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison”
  • Ray Charles: “Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music”
  • Charlie Christian: “The Genius of the Electric Guitar”
  • Eric Clapton: “Crossroads”
  • Sonny Clark: “Cool Struttin'”
  • The Clash: “The Clash,” “London Calling”
  • John Coltrane: “Blue Train,” “Bags & Trane,” “My Favorite Things,” “Duke Ellington and John Coltrane,” “John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman,” “A Love Supreme”
  • Chick Corea: “Return to Forever”
  • Elvis Costello: “My Aim Is True,” “This Year’s Model,” “Get Happy!!”
  • Creedence Clearwater Revival: “Green River,” “Willy & the Poor Boys,” “Cosmos Factory”
  • Crosby, Stills & Nash: “Crosby, Stills & Nash”
  • Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young: “Deja Vu”
  • Miles Davis: “Birth of the Cool,” “‘Round About Midnight,” “Relaxin’,” “Porgy and Bess,” “Kind of Blue,” “Sketches of Spain,” “Workin’,” “Steamin’,” “Miles Smiles,” “In a Silent Way,” “Bitches Brew,” “A Tribute to Jack Johnson,” “On the Corner”
  • Deep Purple: “Machine Head”
  • Derek & the Dominos: “Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs”
  • Dillard & Clark: “The Fantastic Expedition of Dillard & Clark”
  • Willie Dixon: “The Chess Box”
  • Eric Dolphy: “Out There,” “Out to Lunch”
  • The Doors: “The Doors”
  • Bob Dylan: “Highway 61 Revisited,” “Blonde On Blonde,” “Blood On the Tracks”
  • Bob Dylan & the Band: “The Basement Tapes”
  • Duke Ellington: “Ellington at Newport,” “… and His Mother Called Him Bill”
  • Brian Eno: “Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy),” “Another Green World”
  • Faces: “Five Guys Walk into a Bar …”
  • The Firesign Theatre: “How Can You Be in Two Places at Once When You’re Not Anywhere at All,” “Don’t Crush That Dwarf, Hand Me the Pliers”
  • The Flaming Lips: “The Soft Bulletin”
  • The Flying Burrito Brothers: “The Gilded Palace of Sin”
  • Funkdadelic: “Maggot Brain”
  • Gang of Four: “Entertainment!”
  • Erroll Garner: “Concert By the Sea”
  • Marvin Gaye: “What’s Going On”
  • Genesis: “Foxtrot”
  • Grateful Dead: “Workingman’s Dead,” “American Beauty,” “Dick’s Picks, Vol. 4”
  • Green Day: “American Idiot”
  • Herbie Hancock: “Maiden Voyage,” “Head Hunters”
  • George Harrison: “All Things Must Pass”
  • Jimi Hendrix Experience: “Are You Experienced?,” “Axis: Bold As Love,” “Electric Ladyland”
  • Howlin’ Wolf: “Howlin’ Wolf/Moanin’ in the Moonlight,” “The Chess Box”
  • Husker Du: “Zen Arcade”
  • Incredible String Band: “The Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter”
  • Etta James: “At Last!”
  • Keith Jarrett: “The Koln Concert”
  • Jefferson Airplane: “Surrealistic Pillow”
  • Lonnie Johnson: “Steppin’ on the Blues”
  • Robert Johnson: “The Complete Recordings”
  • Janis Joplin: “Pearl”
  • King Crimson: “In the Court of the Crimson King”
  • Albert King: “Born Under a Bad Sign”
  • The Kinks: “Face to Face,” “Something Else by the Kinks,” “The Village Green Preservation Society”
  • Kraftwerk: “Autobahn,” “Trans-Europe Express”
  • Led Zeppelin: “Led Zeppelin,” “Led Zeppelin II,” “Led Zeppelin III,” “Physical Graffiti”
  • John Lennon: “John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band,” “Imagine”
  • Little Feat: “Little Feat”
  • Love: “Da Capo,” “Forever Changes”
  • Nick Lowe: “Jesus of Cool”
  • Magic Sam: “West Side Soul”
  • Mahavishnu Orchestra: “The Inner Mounting Flame,” “Birds of Fire”
  • Bob Marley & the Wailers: “Catch a Fire”
  • John Mayall: “Blues Breakers With Eric Clapton”
  • The MC5: “Kick Out the Jams”
  • Metallica: “Master of Puppets”
  • Pat Metheny Group: “Pat Methenhy Group”
  • Charles Mingues: “Mingus Ah Um,” “Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus”
  • The Minutemen: “Double Nickels on the Dime”
  • Moby Grape: “Moby Grape”
  • Modern Jazz Quartet: “The Complete Last Concert”
  • Wes Montgomery: “Full House”
  • Van Morrison: “Astral Weeks,” “Moondance”
  • Mothers of Invention: “Freak Out!,” “We’re Only In It for the Money”
  • Mott the Hoople: “All the Young Dudes,” “Mott”
  • The Move: “Shazam”
  • My Bloody Valentine: “Loveless”
  • Randy Newman: “12 Songs,” “Sail Away”
  • Parliament: “Mothership Connection”
  • Gram Parsons: “G.P.”
  • Joe Pass: “Virtuoso”
  • Jaco Pastorius: “Jaco Pastorius”
  • Pavement: “Slanted & Enchanted,” “Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain”
  • Pearl Jam: “Ten”
  • Pere Ubu: “Terminal Tower”
  • Pink Floyd: “The Piper at the Gates of Dawn,” “The Dark Side of the Moon,” “Wish You Were Here”
  • Iggy Pop: “The Idiot,” “Lust for Life”
  • The Quintet: “Jazz at Massey Hall”
  • The Replacements: “Let It Be”
  • The Rolling Stones: “Between the Buttons,” “Beggars Banquet,” “Let It Bleed, “Sticky Fingers,” “Exile on Main St.,” “Some Girls,” “Singles Collection: The London Years,” “Forty Licks”
  • Sonny Rollins: “Sonny Rollins Plus 4,” “Saxophone Colossus,” “Way Out West”
  • Todd Rundgren: “Something/Anything?”
  • Pharoah Sanders: “Karma”
  • Santana: “Abraxas”
  • Klaus Schulze: “Moondawn”
  • Gil Scott-Heron: “Small Talk at 125th and Lenox”
  • The Sex Pistols: “Never Mind the Bollocks”
  • Sonny Sharrock: “Ask the Ages”
  • Wayne Shorter: “Speak No Evil”
  • Horace Silver: “Song for My Father”
  • Paul Simon: “Paul Simon,” “There Goes Rhymin’ Simon”
  • Skin Alley: “To Pagham & Beyond”
  • Sly & the Family Stone: “Stand!,” “There’s a Riot Goin’ On”
  • Small Faces: “The Darlings of Wapping Wharf Launderette”
  • Patti Smith: “Horses”
  • The Soft Boys: “Underwater Moonlight”
  • Sonic Youth: “Sister,” “Daydream Nation”
  • The Stooges: “Fun House,” “Raw Power”
  • Sun Ra: “Atlantis,” “Space Is the Place”
  • Talking Heads: “Talking Heads 77,” “More Songs About Buildings and Food,” “Remain In Light”
  • Hound Dog Taylor: “Hound Dog Taylor & the Houserockers”
  • Television: “Marquee Moon”
  • Thin Lizzy: “Jailbreak”
  • Richard & Linda Thompson: “Shoot Out the Lights”
  • Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble: “Texas Flood”
  • Velvet Underground: “The Velvet Underground & Nico,” “White Light/White Heat,” “The Velvet Underground,” “Loaded”
  • The Wailers: “Burnin'”
  • T-Bone Walker: “The Complete Imperial Recordings: 1950-1954”
  • Muddy Waters: “At Newport,” “The Chess Box”
  • Weather Report: “Heavy Weather”
  • The White Stripes: “Elephant”
  • The Who: “The Who Sings My Generation,” “The Who Sell Out,” “Live at Leeds,” “Who’s Next”
  • Tony Williams’ Lifetime: “Emergency!”
  • Wire: “Pink Flag,” “Chairs Missing”
  • Stevie Wonder: “Talking Book,” “Innervisions,” “Songs in the Key of Life”
  • Link Wray: “Rumble!”
  • X: “Los Angeles,” “Under the Big Black Sun”
  • Yes: “Fragile,” “Close to the Edge”
  • Neil Young: “On the Beach,” “Rust Never Sleeps”

By the way, I’ve been working on this list for a couple of weeks during some “down time.” And it’s been a lot of fun! Gotta listen to some of these albums again in the near future.

The last list of this sort got a decent response, so I’m going to do it again. These aren’t necessarily the best albums of the year, nor my favorites. I’m just kind of putting ’em out there at random … in most cases. Whatever, if you come across any of them, give ’em a listen!

  • 2011: “Demolished Thoughts” by Thurston Moore
  • 2010: “Midnight Souvenirs” by Peter Wolf
  • 2009: “Rough & Tough” by John Hammond
  • 2008: “Amen Corner” by Railroad Earth
  • 2007: “The Weirdness” by the Stooges
  • 2006: “Risin’ With the Blues” by Ike Turner
  • 2005: “In Space” by Big Star
  • 2004: “Deja Voodoo” by Gov’t Mule
  • 2003: “The Power to Believe” by King Crimson
  • 2002: “Live at the Wetlands” by Robert Randolph
  • 2001: “Artifact” by the Electric Prunes
  • 2000: “Chasin’ the Gypsy” by James Carter
  • 1999: “Bad Love” by Randy Newman
  • 1998: “Acme” by Jon Spencer Blues Explosion
  • 1997: “Toscco” by Happy Family
  • 1996: “Gone Again” by Patti Smith
  • 1995: “Infinity” by McCoy Tyner
  • 1994: “Grace” by Jeff Buckley
  • 1993: “Mirrors of Embarrassment” by Col. Bruce Hampton & Aquarium Rescue Unit
  • 1992: “Dirty” by Sonic Youth
  • 1991: “Damn Right, I’ve Got the Blues” by Buddy Guy
  • 1990: “The Harem” by Milt Jackson
  • 1989: “Freedom” by Neil Young
  • 1988: “Broadway the Hard Way” by Frank Zappa
  • 1987: “Blues for Salvador” by Carlos Santana
  • 1986: “Daring Adventures” by Richard Thompson
  • 1985: “Song X” by Pat Metheny
  • 1984: “Double Nickels on the Dime” by the Minutemen
  • 1983: “Texas Flood” by Stevie Ray Vaughan
  • 1982: “Love Over Gold” by Dire Straits
  • 1981: “The Electric Spanking of War Babies” by Funkadelic
  • 1980: “Underwater Moonlight” by the Soft Boys
  • 1979: “Fear of Music” by Talking Heads
  • 1978: “Chairs Missing” by Wire
  • 1977: “Seconds Out” by Genesis
  • 1976: “Hoppkorv” by Hot Tuna
  • 1975: “Rhinos, Winos and Lunatics” by Man
  • 1974: “Inspiration Information” by Shuggie Otis
  • 1973: “Still Alive and Well” by Johnny Winter
  • 1972: “Argus” by Wishbone Ash
  • 1971: “Tago Mago” by Can
  • 1970: “Workingman’s Dead” by the Grateful Dead
  • 1969: “Happy Trails” by Quicksilver Messenger Service
  • 1968: “Electric Ladyland” by the Jimi Hendrix Experience
  • 1967: “The Piper at the Gates of Dawn” by Pink Floyd
  • 1966: “Roger the Engineer” by the Yardbirds
  • 1965: “Highway 61 Revisited” by Bob Dylan
  • 1964: “Out to Lunch” by Eric Dolphy
  • 1963: “Please Please Me” by the Beatles
  • 1962: “Money Jungle” by Duke Ellington
  • 1961: “Africa/Brass” by John Coltrane
  • 1960: “Pyramid” by Modern Jazz Quartet
  • 1959: “Kind of Blue” by Miles Davis

I’ve been collecting music for nearly 40 years. I’ll admit to having more music on various media than I’d ever be able to listen to the rest of my life. But I’m trying …

Following are some titles from the past half century, presented reverse chronologically and kind of at random, that I’d recommend as decent listens. That’s assuming, of course, that I’ve actually listened to them!