Since September 2010, this blog has recorded the journey of this middle-aged man as I attempt to listen to all the music in my 1300+ CD collection. CDs revisited in their entirety from start to finish - no skipping tracks, no shuffle. CDs only - no vinyl, no tapes, no downloads. And just as CD technology (and the album format itself) becomes obsolete. I'm no music critic, just a music junkie with too much time on my hands.

You might have noticed things slowing down around here. I'm running low on CDs, so I'll probably be posting only occasionally from this point on. Feel free to browse the archives or go over to 1976-1985: My Favorite Decade, another music blog written by the same guy on the same computer.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Various Artists - Northern Soul: The Soundtrack (2014)

Two weeks ago the DVD for the 2014 movie Northern Soul appeared in my mailbox and sent me spiraling down a rabbit hole that included the purchase of this soundtrack set as well as locating several books on the subject.

First, the movie: Meh. Not much of plot, poorly written dialogue, and no character development. But the dance scenes are entertaining and the soundtrack is so good that it prompts people like myself to buy soundtrack CDs. All of these songs didn't appear in the movie, but that's of little consequence to me.

The book I picked up was Soul Survivors: The Wigan Casino Story. Again, meh. A bit wordy with many editing errors. Admittedly, it must be tough to stretch out what would be a Wikipedia post into a full book. And an index would have been useful. Heck, this CD set's liner notes were as helpful as the book. However, the book does contain several song lists/DJ set lists that I found useful. But there are plenty of Northern Soul books so I can keep looking and reading.

For a brief description/definition of the Northern Soul movement/music, click here.

Finally, this CD is a great primer for Northern Soul rookies such as myself. I've been a dancing fool since these discs arrived. Considering all these tracks weren't hits or b-sides, the music is exceptionally good, which speaks more to the racism of the '60s than to the quality of the music.

Peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart: did not chart

Tracks:  95% of these tracks were new to me and they're all representative Northern Soul. Don't skip any (and bust out your dancin' shoes), but the ones I've marked with a ✔ are tracks I find to be a cut above.

CD1 (27 tracks, 74:07):
Billy ButlerRight Track1966
Edwin Starr Back Street1966
Shirley Ellis Soul Time1966
The Vel-Vets I Gotta Find Me Somebody1967
The Precisions If This Is Love (I'd Rather Be Lonely)1967
James Fountain Seven Day Lover1970
Towanda Jones You Don't Mean It1969
Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons The Night1972
Lou Pride I'm Com'un Home in the Morn'un1965
Gwen Owens (Just Say) You're Wanted and Needed1966
Freddy Chavez They'll Never Know Why1968
Don Varner Tear Stained Face1967
Duke Browner Crying Over You1966
The Luther Ingram Orchestra Exus Trek1966
Larry Williams & Johnny Watson Too Late1967
The Crow Your Autumn of Tomorrow1970
Eddie Parker I'm Gone1968
The Tomangoes I Really Love You1967
Marvin Gaye This Love Starved Heart of Mine (It's Killing Me)196?
The Salvadors Stick By Me Baby1967
Edwin Starr Time1970
Don Thomas Come On Train1973
Sam Dees Lonely For You Baby1968
Rita & The Tiaras Gone With the Wind Is My Love1967
The Originals Suspicion1966
The MVP's Turning My Heartbeat Up1972
Tobi Legend Time Will Pass You By1968

CD2 (27 tracks, 72:50):
Mel BrittShe'll Come Running Back1969
Patrinell Staten Little Love Affair1969
Epitome of Sound You Don't Love Me1968
Linda Jones I Just Can't Live My Life (Without You Babe)1969
Darrow Fletcher What Good Am I Without You1967
Eddie Holman I Surrender1969
The Group feat Cecil Washington I Don't Like To Lose1967
Tony Galla In Love1967
Herbert Hunter I Was Born to Love You1966
Jimmy Burns I Really Love You1965
Bob Relf Blowing My Mind to Pieces1968
The Ivories Please Stay1967
Johnny Howard The Chase is On1969
The Admirations You Left Me1966
The Royal Esquires Ain't Gonna Run1969
The Antellects Love Slave1967
Ronnie & Robyn As Long as You Love Me (I'll Stay)1968
Milton James My Lonely Feeling1966
Charlene & The Soul Serenaders Can You Win1970
Lester Tipton This Won't Change1966
Eloise Laws Love Factory1973
Joe Tex Under Your Powerful Love1973
The Carstairs It Really Hurts Me Girl1973
The Montclairs Hung Up On Your Love1973
Edward Hamilton & The Arabians Baby Don't You Weep1967
Melba Moore The Magic Touch1967
Dena Barnes If You Ever Walked Out of My Life1967

Also included in this set was a brief DVD with only two features:

  1.  a 19 minute interview with the film's director. Nothing to see here, move along.
  2.  a 24 minute audio interview (with cheesy sound effects overdubs) with DJ Richard Searling under a slide show of his memorabilia from the 70s. Worth a listen.

Personal Memory Associated with this CD: see above

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Chicago Transit Authority (1969)

Note: the CD I listened to was the 2002 reissue.

So I've conditioned myself to pick up anything released by Rhino that I see in the used bins. So while I've got the hits from this CD on compilations, I couldn't resist this for $3:

Prog rock with horns, it's a good album, especially for a debut (it really takes some balls to put out a double LP debut). Still, like most double album sets, this would have made a spectacular single disc by getting rid of the "jam band" and vanity cuts:
Side One (approximately 22.5 minutes):
  1. Introduction
  2. Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?
  3. Beginnings
  4. Listen
Side Two (approximately 19.5 minutes):
  1. Questions 67 And 68
  2. South California Purples
  3. I'm a Man
But nobody asked me, probably because I was two years old when this thing was released (although there might have been other reasons I wasn't consulted). Still, I'm glad I picked it up to find a few album cuts with which I was previously unfamiliar: Introduction, Listen, and the bluesy South California Purples. I'm not wild about Poem 58 and Free Form Guitar.

Released in April, this is definitely a summer album.

Billboard, May 19, 1969

Peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart: #17

Tracks: see above

Personal Memory Associated with this CD: The song Beginnings reminds me of a couples trip to Matagorda Beach during the Lost Summer of Mark. I took along my cassette copy of Chicago IX; Beginnings and the Steve Winwood hit Roll With It led to some sort of disagreement/fight with my companion.  But I suppose that bad memory isn't really associated with this CD so nevermind.

Previously revisited for the blog:
Only The Beginning: The Very Best Of Chicago (2002)
Greatest Hits 1982-1989 (1989)
Chicago 17 (1984)
Chicago 16 (1982)

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Keb' Mo' - Live: That Hot Pink Blues Album (2016)

Is there such a thing as "feel good blues"? (The question is rhetorical - the answer is yes and the supporting evidence is right here.)

Most live albums seem like a shameless money grabs or concert souvenirs, but this double disc set simply makes the argument that all Keb' Mo' should be live albums. 16 songs from nine stops on his 2015 nationwide tour. Blues, roots, folk, pop, whatever you wanna call it, it's day-umm good. My only complaint would be the oversight of omitting the song Am I Right from the setlist.

I'm left with this question: how much would I have to pay Keb' Mo' to come sit on my porch and sing blues songs with me? 

Peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart: Did not chart
Peak on the US Billboard Blues Albums chart: #3
Peak on the US Billboard Folk Albums chart: #12
Peak on the US Billboard Independent Albums chart: #33

Tracks: From Disc One, my favorites are Tell Everybody I Know, Somebody Hurt You, The Worst Is Yet To Come, and the funk of Government Cheese. On Disc Two, my picks are More Than One Way Home, The Old Me Better, and Rita.

Favorite bit of patter: when one fan yells out "Freebird!" Keb' Mo' stops what he's doing, laughs along with the audience, then replies, "Ima learn that song to shut y'all up."

DownBeat, August 2016, p. 73
For the record, that 3 star rating is low, especially when you consider DownBeat has a reputation for handing out 4 stars like candy.

Personal Memory Associated with this CD: None

Previously revisited for the blog:
Live And Mo' (2009)
Suitcase (2006)
Peace...Back by Popular Demand (2004)
Keep It Simple (2004)
Just Like You (1996)
Keb' Mo' (1994)

Monday, September 12, 2016

Bernard Purdie - Soul To Jazz (1996)

Note: that's not Bernard Purdie on the album cover.

I picked this CD up on the (very) cheap based on Purdie's reputation as a groove/funk drummer who claims to be the "world's most recorded drummer" and inventor of a signature groove called the "Purdie Shuffle."

However, I didn't even glance at the liner notes so I wasn't expecting a big band album - that's on me. Purdie brings his A-game, as always, but most of these covers don't really work as big band charts. But I will admit that this is one of those albums that improves with each listening so I'm not giving up on it just yet.

Peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart: Did not chart


The tunes that do work are Iko Iko (saved by a sweet Dean Brown guitar solo), Sidewinder, and Work Song. Tunes that don't work so well: When A Man Loves A Woman, Freedom Jazz Dance, and Gimme Some Lovin'. The cover of Land Of 1,000 Dancers [sic] isn't a great arrangement, but may contain some of the best work by Purdie on the album. Dude is absolutely crushin' it.

Personal Memory Associated with this CD: none

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Leo Kottke - Guitar Music (1981)

Note: this release was originally purchased as an LP, later replaced by a CD.

I originally found this album by happy accident when the vinyl was calling out to me from the $1 vinyl bin. I was completely unfamiliar with Kottke and his work so this was one of those chances that ultimately pays off. Got this CD in hopes the sound would be better that a scratchy record and I was right. This is the most fascinating album I've heard since I came across John Surman's work (note: I'm not comparing Surman to Kottke other than the fact that both musicians produce works like I've never heard before). The twelve brief instrumental pieces here, performed by Kottke on Gibson J-45 and Lundberg-Martin 12 string guitars, can be described as a melodic fusion of folk, blues, jazz, and New Age music or, as I would have called it 30 years ago, "NPR music." The playing is crisp and technically spectacular. Great for porch sittin' on a hot afternoon. My only complaint is the 35 minute playing time.

Peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart: Did not chart

Tracks: I don't skip any, but I'm partial to Part Two, Perforated Sleep, Little Shoes, Agile N., and the two covers that end the album, All I Have To Do Is Dream and Sleep Walk, the latter with some fantastic chord substitutions..

Personal Memory Associated with this CD: None

Monday, August 29, 2016

The B-52's - Good Stuff (1992)

Note: this release was originally purchased as a cassette tape, later replaced by a CD.

As the follow-up to Cosmic Thing, I had high hopes for this album, and while there are some classic B-52's songs to be found here, it doesn't quite measure up to its predecessor (granted, that's asking a lot of the group). For reasons I won't go into here, the former quintet had become a trio, but it still sounds like pretty much any other B-52's album (except Bouncing Off the Satellites).  It's party rock and that's what I'm looking for - ballads need not apply.

Peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart: #16

Rolling Stone, July 9, 1992, p. 101

Tracks: The production duties were evenly split among Nile Rodgers and Don Was; long-time readers of the blog would expect me to prefer the Rodgers tracks, and even I'm surprised that's not true. My top tracks are Tell It Like It T-I-Is, Revolution Earth (Rodgers), Hot Pants Explosion, Good Stuff, and Is That You Mo-Dean (Was). Fred shoulda left all the singing to Kate on Dreamland. I'm guessing I listened to side A of my cassette more than side B, probably because the album falls apart near the end - no particularly bad tracks, but nothing you'll be humming later in the day.

Personal Memory Associated with this CD: I remember getting rid my cassette during an ill-advised vinyl and tape purge in 1994. In my defense, I was starting...nah, nevermind. I gots nothin'. No excuse for that purge. None.

I often use the phrase "Tell It Like It T-I-Is" much to the chagrin and/or embarrassment of my family. Deal with it.

Previously revisited for the blog:
Funplex (2008)
Time Capsule: Songs For A Future Generation (1998)
Love Shack (1989)
Bouncing Off the Satellites (1986)
Whammy! (1983)
Party Mix/Mesopotamia (1981/1982)

CD Longbox, notable for the following
message from the band printed on the back:

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Grover Washington, Jr. - The Best Is Yet To Come (1982)

Note: this release was originally purchased as a LP, later replaced by a "Target" CD.

Not the best GWJr album, but with one of the originators of the smooth jazz/instrumental R&B genre, you know what you're getting into when you buy the thing. It's predictable, formulaic, and even a little dated, but none of that matters because it's perfect music for relaxation, decompressing, and de-stressing. Grover is joined by some of my favorite studio jazzers of the time: Ralph MacDonald (percussion), Marcus Miller (bass), Eric Gale (guitar), and Richard Tee (electric piano).

The title track feature vocals by Patti LaBelle and I'm guessing it was an attempt to repeat the success of Just The Two Of Us from 1980. The single didn't make the Billboard Hot 100, bubbling under at 104, but it did peak at #14 on the R&B singles chart. It was also nominated for the Best Female R&B Vocal Performance category at the Grammy Awards losing to Chaka Khan's eponymous fourth solo album.

Peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart: #50
Peak on Billboard's Jazz LPs chart: #1
Peak on Billboard's R&B albums chart: #8
Peak on Cash Box album chart: #45

Tracks: The better tracks are Can You Dig It, the title track, and the cleverly titled Mixty Motions. Skip track 4, Things Are Getting Better, with vocals and scat solo by Bobby McFerrin and track 7, I'll Be With You, with vocals from Pieces Of A Dream bassist Cedric Napoleon.

The final track is bland theme music for the short-lived TV series Cassie & Co. I have no memory of that show, but I'm guessing they wanted a film noir kind of theme, maybe? Even an appearance from guitarist Lee Ritenour can't save it, though.

Personal Memory Associated with this CD: None

Previously revisited for the blog:
Prime Cuts: The Columbia Years 1987-1999 (1999)
All My Tomorrows (1994)
Time Out of Mind (1989)
Anthology of Grover Washington, Jr. (1985)
Skylarkin' (1980)
Mister Magic (1975)