Archive for the ‘Lists’ Category

My Faves From ’71

Friday, October 15th, 2021

I saw a squib the other day on Facebook for a book titled Never a Dull Moment: 1971, The Year That Rock Exploded by writer and broadcaster David Hepworth, a book I plan to read as soon as the local library sends it my way. The squib was followed by a challenge to list the twenty best albums from that admittedly very rich year, now fifty years in the past.

Well, I love lists, as anyone who comes past here knows. I usually do lists of single tracks, although I recall listing my thirteen favorite albums in a very early post here (the post is here, but I’ll warn you, it wanders around for a while before getting to the list). I revised that list a little later, and I imagine if I took on the topic again, my list would look at least a little different than it did fourteen years ago.

So, I’ve put together – in no particular order – a  list of my twenty favorite albums from 1971, which was, in fact, a great year for music. The greatest? Impossible to say, except to note that it lies right in the middle of my sweet spot. The years of high school and early college – 1968 through 1974 – were the best years for music for me.

I should note that one album that I wrestled with was The Concert For Bangla Desh, but I decided that all-star live albums have an unfair advantage. I’ll just note that Leon Russell’s “Jumpin’ Jack Flash/Youngblood” medley at that concert might be the single best thing released in 1971.

Here are my twenty:

Tapestry by Carole King
Sticky Fingers by the Rolling Stones
It Ain’t Easy by Long John Baldry
Naturally by J.J. Cale
The North Star Grassman and the Ravens by Sandy Denny
Madman Across The Water by Elton John
Pearl by Janis Joplin
Ram by Paul & Linda McCartney
Mudlark by Leo Kottke
Every Good Boy Deserves Favour by the Moody Blues
Stargazer by Shelagh McDonald
Leon Russell & The Shelter People
Stoney End by Barbra Streisand
Teaser & The Firecat by Cat Stevens
Every Picture Tells A Story by Rod Stewart
The Low Spark Of High Heeled Boys by Traffic
Just An Old Fashioned Love Song by Paul Williams
2 Years On by the Bee Gees
Chase (Self-Titled)
Closer To The Ground by Joy Of Cooking

This was not a deeply researched list. I simply sorted the mp3s in the RealPlayer for 1971 and then sifted through the 300 or so albums that showed up, so I imagine I might have missed one or two that I’ll think about later.

And again, without thinking too hard about it, I’ll choose a track to share here today. It’s the title track to Shelagh McDonald’s Stargazer. Her story, as I’ve said here before, is quite strange; here’s a link to her tale at Wikipedia. And here’s “Stargazer.”

‘Battle Come Down . . .’

Friday, June 25th, 2021

It was one of those Facebook things, posted by a member of a Seventies group I follow: List five records that sum up the Seventies.

I opened Word and started a list, taking my time over it. I posted my five and then wandered through the twenty or so responses that had accrued by that time. I saw a lot of predictables: “Stairway To Heaven,” “Paranoid,” “Maggie May,” “Free Bird,” “Rhiannon,” “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “Imagine,” and so on.

I also saw a few surprises: “Close To You,” “I Think I Love You,” “Carefree Highway,” “Summer Breeze,” “Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes),” and a few more.

I was surprised there were very few offerings that missed the decade. (Not everyone checks the year, which sometimes annoys me; this time, it didn’t.) There was one entry for “Suspicious Minds” and one for The Band’s version of “The Weight.”

And then there was my entry. Four of the five were echoed in other posts:

“Layla” by Derek & The Dominos (1970)
“Fire & Rain” by James Taylor (1970)
“Born To Run” by Bruce Springsteen (1975)
“Stayin’ Alive” by the Bee Gees (1977)
“London Calling” by the Clash (1979)

The only one of my five not echoed in the twenty or so responses at the time was the record by the Clash. I don’t particularly enjoy the record. (I don’t detest it, either.) But the assignment, as it were, was to sum up the Seventies. And I think the anger of “London Calling” ends the decade well.

By this morning, the post had grown to more than eighty responses, and I’m not going to wade through the new stuff. And I think my five are a decent effort at the impossible task of summing up a sprawling decade. If I had to do it over again, I’d probably drop “Fire & Rain” and put Joni Mitchell’s “Help Me” (1974) in the list.

As to “London Calling,” it (or the album of the same title) has been mentioned here five times over the course of more than fourteen years and nearly 3,000 posts, but it’s never been shared. It’s time.

Lists, Again

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2020

I’m working on a couple of music lists these days. One is on Facebook, where a friend tagged me in one of those things that come around every once in a while.

The idea is to post, without comment, covers of albums that have influenced you – twenty of ’em in twenty days. I’m not planning ahead on this one, just winging it, and I’m five days in. I’ve done ten in ten days before, so I can likely predict what the next five will be, but after that, it could be interesting.

Here are the first five, and I doubt whether they’ll surprise anyone who’s read this blog for any length of time:

Honey In The Horn by Al Hirt
Goldfinger soundtrack by John Barry
Abbey Road by the Beatles
Den Store Flugt by Sebastian
The Band

(A recap: Sebastian is a Danish singer/songwriter who, I think it’s safe to say, has become over the years a Danish national treasure. Den Store Flugt is his second album, released in 1972, and it’s the one that my Danish host brother encouraged me to buy and bring back to the States as my time in Denmark was drawing to a close in the spring of 1974.)

At the same time, I’m working on a list of about twenty-five tracks for the guest DJ program at WXYG-FM, the album rock station based in Sauk Rapids, just northeast of St. Cloud. I sent an early version of the list to the station’s “do everything” guy, Al Neff, and we’re negotiating.

I knew Al a little bit many years ago when I was teaching at St. Cloud State as an adjunct faculty member. My office was adjacent to the offices of KVSC-FM, the university’s student-run station, where Al was either music director or program director. On occasion, as I worked on lectures or grading in my office, I got called into discussions in the radio station office. Al and I reconnected a couple of years ago when I noticed he was affiliated with WXYG, and since then, we’ve spent some pleasant hours talking over beer and deep-fried pickles.

Al’s first response to my list noted that he’d allow me three artists who aren’t normally played on the station, probably a reaction to my listing tracks from the first two albums in the list above. And he said he had to pass on tracks by Bobbie Gentry and Marlena Shaw. (He actually added a third pass on a group he called too obscure, but I sent him a note saying that was a hard cut, even as I yielded on Bobbie and Marlena. He said I could keep the third track.)

I won’t reveal what’s on the list for the WXYG program. Again, long-time readers could likely guess at least ten of the twenty-one tracks that currently remain on the working list. I’m going to make an adjustment or two and then ship the second version of the list back to Al.

And here’s the Marlena Shaw track I’ve pulled from contention for the WXYG program. It’s been here before as part of my long-ago Ultimate Jukebox, but that was about ten years ago, which is eons in blogtime. It’s “California Soul” from Shaw’s 1969 album, The Spice Of Life.