365 Days of Album Recommendations – Nov 29

Alejandro Escovedo – A Man Under The Influence

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I first picked up this record because I was on a serious Townes Van Zandt kick, and everywhere I read about Townes, someone would mention Escovedo. So I picked this one up, and immediately realized 3 things: 1) comparing Escovedo and Van Zandt is like comparing Snickers and Payday; they both have peanuts, and they’re both delicious, but the comparisons end there, 2) this shit was great!, and 3) I lucked out, because it turned out this was also the best thing he’d ever done, so I started in a good place.

What else did I learn? That Robert Christgau definitively is a tin-eared luddite when it comes to understanding music. That he highlighted “Castanets”—which is the only piece of shit song on what is otherwise a masterpiece collection—as essentially the only song of merit here, makes clear how woeful his taste really is. For the record, George W. Bush kept “Castanets” on his personal iPod. Which led Escovedo to stop playing the song. So for that, I’ll thank W. And as to Christgau … whatever.


365 Days of Album Recommendations – Nov 28

ZZ Top – Tres Hombres

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I knew I wasn’t going to finish this list without putting ZZ Top on somewhere. The question was, which album do I begin with?

I knew it had to be pre-Eliminator, as, while there are things about that album I really like, it’s not the sound that hooked me on the Top in the first place.

And if that’s the true impetus—identifying the thing that hooked me first—then it had the be the album that contained within its grooves the move from Waiting for the Bus to Jesus Just Left Chicago. Cuz that shit is incredible …

And yeah, La Grange is on here too, so that’s a pretty significant cut in the whole Top canon …

But honestly, the whole thing just has boot heel stink written all over it, and that’s just all right with me …


365 Days of Album Recommendations – Nov 27

Sonny Rollins – The Bridge

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There are so, so, so many reasons to love this album.

#1 Sonny Rollins

#2 Jim Hall

#3 Sonny Rollins & Jim Hall together

Them’s is reason enough.

But how about a narrative backstory so compelling that there is a movement afoot to have the Williamsburg Bridge renamed after Sonny Rollins?

Legislation to rename Williamsburg Bridge after musician Sonny Rollins introduced

 

 


365 Days of Album Recommendations – Nov 26

Coleman Hawkins – Body & Soul

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Well, I’d be bloody remiss not to include this album!

Coleman Hawkins is at least 50% of the canonical tenor tone, with Prez bein’ the other half.

For the vast majority of the saxophone world, that’s the alpha and omega. Either you purr like Lester or you buzz like Hawk.

 


365 Days of Album Recommendations – Nov 25

Lee Morgan – The Sidewinder

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This album was SUCH a big deal for Blue Note Records. This was a straight up HIT … not something Blue Note was all that familiar with at that point.

Retroactively, some folks have filed this as seminal soul jazz, while others have locked it into the hard bop canon, and still others simply call it critical listening.

Me, I’m in the latter camp. If you dig jazz, you listen to this. Simple.

 

 


365 Days of Album Recommendations – Nov 24

Seasick Steve – Dog House Music

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I’ve heard it said about Seasick Steve that his good fortune has outpaced his contributions by a fair shot. That may or may not be the case, but honestly, it doesn’t really matter. At the end of the day, I’m bloody thrilled he exists. The world needs more people who either know how to do this, or who know how to listen to someone who knows how to do this.

Someday, when someone drives a dump truck full of money up to my house, I’m gon’ put on a hell of a fuckin’ concert. There’s gon’ be Will Scott, and Dege Legg, and Johnny Azari, and Half Deaf Clatch, and Alvin Youngblood Hart, and Kelly Joe Phelps, and Dave Arcari, and Corey Harris, and yer damn right I’m gon’ play too, and so is Seasick Steve.

Someday, baby.


365 Days of Album Recommendations – Nov 23

The Pogues – Red Roses For Me

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I’ve named The Pogues as one of my favorite bands of all time. I’ve named Shane MacGowan as one of my favorite songwriters of all time. Now, I’ll name The Pogues to the list of Staggeringly Great Debuts. Because that’s what Red Roses For Me is. It’s another one of those debut releases that just staggers you when you realize how fully formed the band was upon emergence.

And as to Shane MacGowan the songwriter, if you don’t think these lyrics (from The Boys From The County Hell) are pure fuckin’ genius, then I can’t do a thing with you.

On the first day of March it was raining
It was raining worse than anything that I have ever seen
I drank ten pints of beer and I cursed all the people there
And I wish that all this raining would stop falling down on me

And it’s lend me ten pounds, I’ll buy you a drink
And mother wake me early in the morning

At the time I was working for a landlord
And he was the meanest bastard that you have ever seen
And to lose a single penny would grieve him awful sore
And he was a miserable bollocks and a bitch’s bastard’s whore

And it’s lend me ten pounds, I’ll buy you a drink
And mother wake me early in the morning

I recall we took care of him one Sunday
We got him out the back and we broke his fucking balls
And maybe that was dreaming and maybe that was real
But all I know is I left that place without a penny or fuck all

And it’s lend me ten pounds, I’ll buy you a drink
And mother wake me early in the morning

But now I’ve the most charming of verandahs
I sit and watch the junkies, the drunks, the pimps, the whores
Five green bottles sitting on the floor
I wish to Christ, I wish to Christ
That I had fifteen more

And it’s lend me ten pounds, I’ll buy you a drink
And mother wake me early in the morning

And it’s lend me ten pounds, I’ll buy you a drink
And mother wake me early in the morning

The boys and me are drunk and looking for you
We’ll eat your frigging entrails and we won’t give a damn
Me daddy was a blue shirt and my mother a madam
And my brother earned his medals at Mai Lei in Vietnam

And it’s lend me ten pounds and I’ll buy you a drink
And mother wake me early in the morning

On the first day of March it was raining
It was raining worse than anything that I have ever seen
Stay on the other side of the road
‘Cause you can never tell
We’ve a thirst like a gang of devils
We’re the boys of the county hell

And it’s lend me ten pounds and I’ll buy you a drink
And mother wake me early in the morning

And it’s lend me ten pounds and I’ll buy you a drink
And mother wake me early in the morning


365 Days of Album Recommendations – Nov 22

Neil Young – Harvest

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You have to give credit to Neil Young for just goin’ for it at all times. There’s something very pure about that. He sort of epitomizes that “there is no greatness without great risk” ethos. The plus of that approach is that when you nail it, it’s beyond incredible. The down is, of course, that when you miss, you suck.

Neil Young has taken a great many risks over his many-decade career, and man, when he sucks, he SUCKS.

But when he nails it, it’s fucking incredible.

I’ve been trying to write and record Harvest pretty much my whole life. I don’t think I’ve ever made an album where I wasn’t thinking about—and listening to, and evangelizing on behalf of—Harvest at some point. I’ve A-B’d this album against so many mixes in my life, it’s a wonder I actually still have to carry it with me. But carry it I do.

Out on the Weekend. Harvest. Heart of Gold. Old Man. The Needle and the Damage Done. Alabama. A Man Needs a Maid.

That’s a lot of risk, and a lot of song.

 


365 Days of Album Recommendations – Nov 21

Albert King – Born Under A Bad Sign

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Funky, soulful, stinging. Stax, jack.


365 Days of Album Recommendations – Nov 20

Burning Spear – Marcus Garvey

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Don’t ya just look around sometimes, and think to yourself, “Sigh, I miss revolutionary music.”

I mean, fucking seriously! I don’t mean to be the old man condemning the younger generations, but Jesus H. Chris on a rubber crutch, what happened???

The Clash. Public Enemy. Phil Ochs. John Coltrane. Ministry. Marvin Gaye. Bob Dylan. Miles Davis. Nina Simone. Gil Scott-Heron. Woody Guthrie. Patti Smith. The MC5. This music sparked fucking righteousness and riots!

Spiritual power. Political power. Musical power. You don’t discover these together very often. When you do, this discovery will never leave you.

From the moment I first heard this album, it has never left me. I don’t listen to a great deal of reggae music. The artists that I love, I love, but I don’t love them for being reggae, I love them for their music. I love this album for its music.

I love it for its revolution.


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