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 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.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Burt Bacharach - One Amazing Night (1998)

Recorded at a tribute concert at the height of the late '90s Bacharach revival. And, as expected at such events, this thing is hit-or-miss. Recorded live at the Hammerstein Ballroom, New York City with Bacharach himself conducting the orchestra and playing the piano, there's lots of good guest artists while others leave you scratching your head. The orchestra is fantastic throughout, but can't say the same for the vocals and the arrangements that often needlessly change the time signature. Thankfully, there's no between song patter. Also available on VHS.

"Good intentions don't necessarily make for good music, however, and One Amazing Night, the aural document of the concert, is proof that. Like any tribute album, it's quite uneven, ranging from the sublime to the irritating in the switch of a track. There's little question that all the artists involved have genuine affection for Bacharach, but many of the featured musicians simply don't have the technique to pull off these songs, which are often much more difficult than they appear. doesn't quite hold up to repeated listens." --Allmusic

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

Tracks: My picks would be God Give Me Strength with Elvis Costello, Wives And Lovers with David Sanborn and George Duke, and the medley with Dionne Warwick (who else?). Definitely skip Mike Myers' attempt at What's New Pussycat? and the dreadfully slow rendition of Anyone Who Had A Heart with Wynonna.

Personal Memory Associated with this CD: None

Previously revisited for the blog:
The Very Best Of Burt Bacharach (2001)
Blue Bacharach: A Cooler Shaker (1999)
Best of (1999)
Painted From Memory (1998)
What The World Needs Now: Big Deal Recording Artists Perform the Songs of Burt Bacharach (1998)

Heart - Dreamboat Annie (1976)

The debut album from the Wilson sisters. There's rock tunes here, but also more folky Joni Mitchell-esque tunes as well - a nice mix. Overall, a fair-to-middlin' album, but definitely better than their later arena rock stuff. Wish we heard more deep cuts from this one on the classic rock radio format.

Rolling Stone, October 21, 1976, p. 109

Peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart: #7

Tracks: And right out of the gate, we're hit with Magic Man - what a great single (#9 pop) and I loved it as a ten year old kid because it got all kinds of airplay in west Texas. The other single, which I prefer, is Crazy On You. Those are the two best tunes here, but I also dig White Lightning & Wine. I don't seek out the other tunes but I don't mind if they shuffle around every now and then.

Personal Memory Associated with this CD: As with much music of this time, I'm reminded of hanging out in the hot west Texas desert with my friends, listening to AM radio, catching horny toads in the alleys.

Previously revisited for the blog:
Greatest Hits 1985-1995 (2000)

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Norah Jones - Not Too Late (2007)

We love us some Norah Jones round here but this album is hovering around the middle of her œuvre. Overall, very quiet and melancholy, it's her first album to feature all original compositions. Stretching out like an artist should without totally alienating her audience - that's a tough fence to straddle and Jones has done a fine job of it here. There isn't much variety and there are a few bland tunes that sound like they weren't ever fleshed out, but the high points are good enough that I can overlook those bland tunes.

Metacritic has this album rated at 68/100, which is a little low for me but not by much. In a review that gives the album 3 out of 4 stars, the Boston Phoenix offered: "Too good to hate, not exciting enough to love, she still makes most of what’s out there sound like phony baloney." Perfect.

Peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart: #1 (3 non-consecutive weeks)

Tracks:  The lead track, Wish I Could, is absolutely gorgeous and when the cello and overdubbed vocals come in it just gets better. Also good are Until The End, Thinking About You, Wake Me Up, Be My Somebody, and the title track. I don't care for Sinkin' Soon and Little Room. The rest fit in the bland tune category I mentioned earlier.

Personal Memory Associated with this CD: Unfortunately for the general public, I think my voice fits comfortably an octave below Norah's so I often sing loudly along with this CD in my truck. Maybe they'd prefer I belt out some gospel tunes?

Previously revisited for the blog:
Day Breaks (2016)
...Little Broken Hearts (2012)
The Fall (2009)
Feels Like Home (2004)
Come Away With Me (2002)

Fourplay - Between The Sheets (1993)

"...rather predictable background music, easy-listening crossover with touches of jazz heard in the melodic solos along with poppish R&B rhythms." --Allmusic

This smooth jazz supergroup (Bob James: keyboards, Lee Ritenour: guitars, Nathan East: bass, Harvey Mason: drums) isn't anywhere near the sum of its parts. Pity. Maybe they save their good material for their solo albums?

Peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart: #70
Peak on Billboard's Top Contemporary Jazz Albums chart: #1 (10 consecutive weeks)
Peak on Billboard's R&B albums chart: #15

Tracks: It's all fairly innocuous - nothing to love, nothing to hate - but the tracks that caught my ear this time around were Monterey, Li'l Darlin', and A Summer Child. The title track, an Isley Brothers cover with vocals by Chaka Khan, travels into quiet storm territory and was released as a single (#72 R&B).

Personal Memory Associated with this CD: None, but this is perfect "musical wallpaper" for my office.

Previously revisited for the blog:
Fourplay (1991)

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Grateful Dead - Skeletons From The Closet (1974)

By request!  (In this particular case, "by request" means that a reader actually sent me a CD. Sorry if I let you down with this one, buddy.)

Because they have a huge following, I feel I should appreciate this group, but I just don't get it. This album has been certified triple platinum so more power to them.

Billboard, March 9, 1974, p. 58

Peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart: #75

Tracks: I recognize Truckin'.

Personal Memory Associated with this CD: None.

Herb Alpert - Passion Dance (1997)

I gave up on Alpert after Beyond, so this is "comeback album" of sorts for me. And I love it: high -energy and Latin-flavored (thanks to the collaboration of bassist/keyboardist/producer Oskar Cartaya). It took me a while to figure out why I like it so much and then it hit me: the flavor/groove of this album reminds me of Spyro Gyra.  This ain't TJB or Rise or ill-advised dance tunes with Janet Jackson, Alpert was moving on and he scored a (lonely) bullseye here. ;-)

Peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart: Did not chart
Peak on the US Billboard Contemporary Jazz Albums chart: #7

Tracks: I dig the first nine tracks, especially TKO, Slinky, the cover of Stevie Wonder's Creepin, ¿Qué Pasa Mr. Jones?, and Baila Conmigo (Dance With Me). The final track is an odd updating of Alpert's 1982 Top 40 instrumental, Route 101 and they shoulda left that one alone. It's not terrible, but what's the point?

Personal Memory Associated with this CD: None

Previously revisited for the blog:
Classics, Volume 1 (1987)
Beyond (1980)
Rise (1979)
What Now My Love (1966)

Incognito - Positivity (1993)

The fourth album from Bluey and the gang. This one features lots of danceable acid jazz/Brit-soul and sweet vocals from Maysa Leak. And not a drum machine or synth horn to be found. We cognoscenti enjoy it, but let's check out what the rabble at Amazon has to say about this album:
  • "This is a great CD to give as a gift, because it's very 'likeable' without being too generic."
  • "...schmaltzy light jazz reminiscent of your local waiting room"
  • "It's great to listen to while doing housework and even at work!" [note: I hope by "housework" they don't mean vacuuming]
  • "This is my favorite Incognito album featuring excellent music production, the British acid-jazz sound and with more than a few stellar lead vocal performances by Maysa Leak."
  • "Hey i'm a musician snd songwriter" [sic]
  • "I found myself not listening to the CD from song one to song thirteen because certain songs had a distracting horn section."
  • "Maysa's voice, is the cherry on top!" [sic]
  • "I received my product in a timely manner and it was in great condition. I would definitely buy from this seller again" [note: there's one in every crowd]
The album is currently rated at 4.6/5, so the above comments aren't necessarily representative of all reviews and are offered up in the interest of (possible) entertainment.

Peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart: Did not chart
Peak on the US Billboard Contemporary Jazz album chart: #3
Peak on the US Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop album chart: #54

Tracks: All originals. Nothing to skip, but my top picks are Still A Friend Of Mine, Where Do We Go From Here, Positivity, Talkin' Loud, Deep Waters, and Pieces Of A Dream.

Personal Memory Associated with this CD: I've always been captivated by the cover design (I couldn't tell ya why), but I held off on buying this one. That was a mistake.

I forget how much I enjoy listening to this kind of music. Dummy [facepalm]. I'm declaring this afternoon "Acid Jazz Shuffle" day here at blog headquarters and this music will soundtrack my life as I clean leaves from my pool and pour costly chemicals into the water. Anyone want an in-ground pool? Free! (Delivery not included.)

Previously revisited for the blog:
Eleven (2005)
Adventures In Black Sunshine (2004)
The Best of Incognito (2000)