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.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Various Artists - GRP & WNUA 95.5 Present Smooth Sounds, Volume IV (1991)

GRP brilliantly marketed its sampler CDs in conjunction with smooth jazz radio stations, often for charity (in this particular case, Ronald McDonald Children's Charities).

Billboard, October 17, 1992, pp. G-22, G-26.

For this compilation the radio station partner is WNUA, formerly a smooth jazz station in Chicago (1987-2009). There's a little overlap with other 1991 CDs from other stations, but since the releases were directed at different markets, no harm done. Good music from GRP artists. Pick up a GRP sampler if you see one at the used CD store or a garage sale.

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

  1. North Star by The Rippingtons, from the album Curves Ahead 
  2. Our Love is Here to Stay by Dave Grusin, from the album The Gershwin Connection
  3. You Mean Everything (To Me) by Tom Scott, from the album Keep This Love Alive
  4. Nobody Does Me by Diane Schuur, from the album Pure Schuur
  5. Jamaica Heartbeart by Acoustic Alchemy, from the album Back on the Case 
  6. Cool Nights by Gary Burton, from the album Cool Nights  
  7. Turn Out the Light by Eric Marienthal, from the album Oasis 
  8. Tomorrow (Better You, Better Me) by Nelson Rangell, from the album Nelson Rangell 
  9. Quiet Beauty by Special EFX, from the album Peace of the World
  10. What Exit? by Spyro Gyra, from the album Collection 
  11. Shadows by David Benoit, from the album Shadows
  12. That's the Way of the World by New York Voices, from the album Hearts of Fire 
  13. Natural Selection by Dave Samuels, from the album Natural Selection
  14. One of Us is Over 40 by The Chick Corea Elektric Band, from the album Beneath the Mask
At the time, the GRP roster included The Crusaders, Yellowjackets, and George Howard. I would have enjoyed a cut from those guys, too, but no one asked me to put together a compilation. I know, it's a mystery to me as well.

Personal Memory Associated with this CD: None, picked up for $2.99 out of a used bin this past week.

On a side note, this is the first blog post to come to you from the newest CDP blog headquarters. If all goes according to plan, this should be the last relocation for a good long while. 🤞

Previously revisited for the blog:
GRP Presents The Cool Sound of CD 101.9, Volume IV (1991)
GRP and The Oasis 106.1 FM present Oasismusic 1 (1990)

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Various Artists - MTV Buzz Bin, Vol. 1 (1996)

This CD was in a lot of random discs that recently arrived here at blog headquarters. Admittedly, I was not watching MTV in 1996 (I'm not sure if it was even in our cable package then, tbh), so let's see if I know any of the tunes.

Peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart: #75

  1. Plush by Stone Temple Pilots. (#1 rock, #9 modern rock) Know it? I love it! Previously appeared on this blog on Thank You.
  2. What Would You Say by Dave Matthews Band. (#5 rock, #11 modern rock)  Know it? It introduced me to DMB. Previously appeared on this blog on 104 KRBE New Music Sampler and Under the Table and Dreaming.
  3. More Human Than Human by White Zombie. (#10 rock, #7 modern rock) I recognize the opening guitar riff but never knew the name of the song or who recorded it. Not much going for it other than said riff.
  4. Zombie by The Cranberries. (#32 rock, #1 modern rock) Of course I remember this protest tune and I appreciate when they're doing, it's just not my thing - I'm more of a Linger guy.
  5. Hey Jealousy - Gin Blossoms. (#4 rock) So now I'm thinking I was listening to more radio at the time than I remember. I always liked this one when it played on whatever station I was listening to back then - the aforementioned KRBE or maybe KHMX.
  6. Everything Zen by Bush. (#5 rock, #2 modern rock) No memory of this one and its not doing much for me today.
  7. No Rain by Blind Melon. (#1 rock, #1 modern rock) Great tune and I'm surprising myself by knowing all the lyrics as I happily sing along.
  8. Low by Cracker. (#5 rock, #3 modern rock) Didn't recognize the song from the title or artist, but I immediately recognized it when it started up. Previously appeared on this blog on Do Something.
  9. Creep by Radiohead. (#20 rock, #2 modern rock) While my favorite Radiohead tune is Everything In Its Right Place, this tune might be in my top 5 tunes by the band, even though they copped part of the thing from The Hollies. I recently saw Bebel Gilberto do a show where she covered this tune and the whole experience was sublime.
  10. Cantaloop by US3. (#29 modern rock) Best song on the disc. Previously appeared on this blog on The Best Blue Note Album in the World...Ever!  (original version, Cantaloupe Island, appears on The Best of Herbie Hancock: The Blue Note Years.) I'd like to call it a day here, but we've got two more tracks to go.
  11. Hey Man, Nice Shot by Filter. (#19 rock, #10 modern rock) Man-oh-man that is some poor sequencing. I don't remember this one but it's definitely not my thing. 
  12. Mother by Danzig. (#17 rock) Another pass.
Not a bad compilation at all, but I'll be stopping after 10 tracks from now on.

Personal Memory Associated with this CD: Taking me back to 1993, the year my oldest son was born. I was 27 and still felt too young to have children. I was a young teacher, new father, trying to figure out this adult thing.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Linda Ronstadt - Cry Like a Rainstorm, Howl Like the Wind (1989)

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

A few months back, I wrote that I was picking up this CD because the wife and I listened to it often when it was first released. I probably haven't heard it complete in over 25 years, so I'm looking forward to hearing it today.

Wow, what a voice! And just look at that list of songwriters: Jimmy Webb, Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil, Nick Lowe, Isaac Hayes, and so on. I'll wager the studio musicians are just as recognizable, let me grab the booklet (and magnifying glass) and check: David Hungate, Andrew Gold, Tower of Power, Marty Paich, and Brian Wilson. Yeah, I'm good with all that. I'm not a huge fan of Aaron Neville's wild vibrato, but somehow producer Peter Asher got him to tone it down a little and, to be honest, if he's good enough for Linda, I should just accept it and shut up about it.

Billboard, October 14, 1989, p. 82

I'm liking this more today than I remember liking it in 1990, likely because my appreciation for Jimmy Webb's songwriting talents have grown considerably since then.

Peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart: #7

Tracks: Didn't remember the first track, but already had goosebumps by the end of the second. Of course, the singles are fantastic and were smash Adult Contemporary hits. It's definitely an AC album. And I had completely forgotten that Ronstadt picked not one but two tracks from Paul Carrack's Suburban Voodoo album and they're as good here as they were on Carrack's album. And with Brian Wilson's backing vocals on a Jimmy Webb tune, how could Adios possibly miss? I'd love to hear an a capella version with just Wilson and Ronstadt's voices overdubbed into a massive choir. The only track I'm tempted to skip is the cover of When Something Is Wrong With My Baby and that's just because the Sam & Dave original can't be improved upon.

Personal Memory Associated with this CD: When this album was released, my wife and I were newlywed, DINK, and would tool around Texas most weekends, visiting family members on a regular basis. And that's why this album was originally purchased on cassette - that's what could be played in the car.

Previously revisited for the blog:
Original Album Series (2012)
Required Ronstadt (1998)
'Round Midnight (1986)

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Pat Metheny - Watercolors (1977)

If I see a CD on the ECM label in the used bin, I'll pick it up without question, such is my respect for the label and its artists. So I didn't hesitate to plop down $4.99 for this Pat Metheny album.

Metheny was 23 years old when this was recorded and it sounds like he's still trying to find his sound (spoiler alert: he found it a year later with the excellent 1978 self-titled release, Pat Metheny Group). It was Metheny's first record with keyboardist Lyle Mays, and Mays steals the show on several tracks with his fluid solos.  For the most part, the melodies just aren't here - the goal of the writing is simply to supply chords over which to solo, creating soundscapes more so than hummable tunes. Metheny himself is quoted as saying the Watercolors "didn't turn out to be such a great record, because I really didn't think that album through." But so what if it's a bit uneven, it's still dang good. Enjoyable and relaxing.

Peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart: Did not chart
Peak on the Billboard Jazz chart: #28
Peak on Cash Box Jazz Albums chart: #20

Tracks: My top picks are the title track, Lakes, Sea Song, and the most accessible track, River Quay.  The second track, Icefire, is a solo country/new age blend which is pretty, I just don't like the synth sound Metheny chose for his 12-string. Nonetheless, you play this one from the top and don't skip.

Personal Memory Associated with this CD: Me and my buds listened to a lot of Metheny in college and while I don't specifically remember spinning this album during that time, it is more than likely we did.

Previously revisited for the blog:

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Paul McCartney - Egypt Station (2018)

By request!  (In this particular case, "by request" means that a reader actually bought this CD for me as a gift. Thanks!)

I know next to nothing about this album except that Sir Paul has been promoting the crap out of the thing with talk-show bits, pop-up concerts, carpool karaoke, etc. Plus, I'm a huge fan and McCartney is our greatest living songwriter (who else would be in the running? Stevie Wonder, maybe?). I notice it's on Capitol, which is the first McCartney album on that label in a while. The packaging is unique - a 6 panel accordion-type case with graphics on one side, lyrics/credits on the other.

When folded up, the whole thing is held together with a green piece of elastic.

Note: the cover art and album title are both taken from an art piece Sir Paul created years ago.

It worked out where I was able to get this at Target because their version included two bonus tracks.

Enough rambling - let's slip this thing into the tray and listen.

Peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart: To be determined

Tracks:  (keep in mind these are first impressions, admittedly not the best way to write about an album)
  1. Opening Station: synth pads and train station noise; serves as an intro into...
  2. I Don't Know: a melancholy piano-based ballad. And I wasn't caring much for it until the chord progression hit me at the 56 second mark. And a great bridge. Classic McCartney. ✔
  3. Come On To Me: great guitar riff, then the backbeat kicks in. And Muscle Shoals horns fill out this grinding stomp. ✔
  4. Happy With You: acoustic ballad/love song in the vein of Blackbird (it's no Blackbird, but what is?), complete with a lilting flute line over the chorus. Not a fan of the drums, which are 1) unnecessary, and 2) up way too much in the mix. What could have been with good production. Shame.
  5. Who Cares: This guitar rocker is the first filler track of the album. Decent riff and a chorus custom made for audience participation, but not much to talk about beyond that.
  6. Fuh You: In which Paul wants to sound like Imagine Dragons. The current single, getting more attention for the allegedly raunchy lyrics, but I don't care much about that. I like how the string part pushes things forward. Not very McCartneyish, but I like it anyway. ✔
  7. Confidante: I thought this simple guitar folk tune was more filler, but the more it went on, the more I enjoyed it. This time the producer was smart enough to get out of the way. ✔
  8. People Want Peace: More about the message than the music. McCartney's homage to Lennon's Peace A Chance?
  9. Hand in Hand: Another ballad. Good, not great, but I dig the chorus good enough. ✔
  10. Dominoes: the first song I've heard on this disc that could have been on a '70s album from Wings. And that's a good thing. This will probably be the song that's stuck in my head when I'm done. ✔
  11. Back In Brazil: Fender Rhodes intro gives way to an odd '80s-synth/LinnDrum Latinish pastiche that I just can't seem to groove to. ✘
  12. Do It Now: Another piano ballad; I like how they double the piano on harpsichord. Nice vocal harmonies and there's a lot going on in the production/arrangement. I'm pretty sure I like it, but it's gonna take a few more listens before I can render a verdict.
  13. Caesar Rock: This doesn't seem to know what it wants to be, but McCartney has had lots of "patchwork" hits (Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey, Jet, etc) and I like this so that's all that matters. ✔
  14. Despite Repeated Warnings: The fourth or fifth piano ballad - so that's what this album is about. And Sir Paul is getting preachy and political when all I really want is silly love songs. But wait, this thing just switched gears (see "patchwork" reference above). We're faster and more upbeat. Now I'm waiting for it to go to the next section. And there it is - a Live And Let Die tribute! One more switch - the coda brings it full circle back to the beginning ballad. That was a manic trip. Another song I'll need to hear a few more times.
  15. Station II: a reprise of the first track
  16. Hunt You Down/Naked/C-Link: Predicting a 3-parter here. Digging the syncopated groove of the Hunt You Down Section (more cowbell!), not digging the odd meter of Naked, and digging the slow bluesy, modal guitar solo of C-Link. 
  17. Get Started (bonus track): Now here's a happy little tune in classic McCartney style with a great send-off coda. The silly love song I've been waiting for. Worth going to Target just for this one tune. ✔
  18. Nothing For Free (bonus track): Two good bonus tracks? There's something you don't hear every day. Not as good as Get Started, but this one's got a catchy bass line and some fun production effects. ✔
Now that I've heard the album, I'll take a peek over at Metacritic and see their rating.  76.  In the same neighborhood as relatively recent releases New (77) and Chaos And Creation (78). 76 seems a little high right now, but maybe some of these tracks will grow on me with repeated listenings.

Personal Memory Associated with this CD: Here's how I got the CD yesterday (file under: it's a great time to be alive): I was sitting in the waiting room of a doctor's office, passing the time by texting friends. One friend asked me if I was going to pick up this new CD while I was out and about. I explained that I'm currently in the process of purchasing a house/new blog headquarters and all discretionary spending has been suspended, meaning there would be no CD purchases for a few months. This friend bluntly stated, "I will not read a single review until CDP comes through." (Stop it, you're making me blush.)

Said friend then ordered the CD online and told me to stop by the local Target on my way home. I did and here we are. Less than an hour from idea to holding the disc in my hand. Amazing and thank you. I've said it before, this silly self-indulgent blog has allowed me to meet some wonderful "online friends" and that's been the best part of continuing CDP.

Previously revisited for the blog:
New (2013)
Memory Almost Full (2007)
Chaos And Creation In The Backyard (2005)
Wingspan: Hits and History (2001)
Flaming Pie (1997)
Unplugged: The Official Bootleg (1991)
All The Best! (1987)
Pipes of Peace (1983)
Tug of War (1982)
Wings at the Speed of Sound (1976)
Band On The Run (1973)

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Steely Dan - Can't Buy A Thrill (1972)

Debut studio album from Steely Dan, released while they were still in their full band rock phase, before narrowing down to a duo for more sophisticated fare. I prefer the latter, but that doesn't mean I don't like this stuff, too. I wasn't listening to this album when it was released (I was 6 years old and the parents probably would have frowned on an album cover that featured sex workers), but I can't remember a time when Do It Again and Reelin' In The Years weren't on the radio. And after all these years, I'm still not tired of either tune.

Like most Steely Dan releases, this album was out of time/ahead of its time and makes it on strong songwriting, impeccable musical technique, and signature Gary Katz production. It even sounds good when they don't seem to know what they're doing (Fire In The Hole). Kudos all around. This thing will put me in a '70s flashback daze faster than a trip to Putt-Putt.

Your humble blogger at the Odessa (TX) Putt-Putt
May 30, 1974.

Christgau gave this album a rare "A" while Cash Box states "Their future: about as bright as that of any of the year's new groups as this one is both musically refreshing and blatantly original." I'll second that.

Peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart: #17
Peak on Cash Box album chart: #11

Tracks: In addition to the two aforementioned Top 40 singles, I also dig the FM staple Dirty Work, and Midnite Cruiser. The relatively weakest track is Change Of The Guard, but there's really nothing here to skip because they're all in the same groove. 10 songs, 41 minutes - perfect length.

Personal Memory Associated with this CD: None, but I'm reminded what a great year 1972 was for pop/rock music: this album, No. 1 Record, Superfly, Something/Anything?, Talking Book, Pink Moon, Roxy Music, Ziggy Stardust, Let's Stay Together, Exile On Main St. to name a few.

There's not any CD liner notes to speak of, but I did get a kick out of this MCA ad on the back of the booklet because the whole art design screams 1980s, when I'm guessing this CD was issued:

Previously revisited for the blog:
Everything Must Go (2003)
Two Against Nature (2000)
Alive In America (1995)
A Decade of Steely Dan (1985)
Gaucho (1980)
Aja (1977)
Katy Lied (1975)
Pretzel Logic (1974)

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Down to the Bone - From Manhattan to Staten (1997)

Been a while since a DTTB acid jazz CD appeared on this blog, but I saw this disc sitting needlessly in the used CD bin recently and I rescued it without a second thought. The group's debut disc, it isn't quite as frenetic as their later releases, but it's still an pleasurable mix of instrumental funk and jazz. I dig.

It's strange album title for a British group, no?

I can't think of anything new to write about the group that I haven't already written, so let's see if I can find anything amusing in the reviews over on Amazon (where this disc is currently available for a penny):
  • Hot tunes for the dance floor and a non stop rhythem. Cruising on an interstate with this CD can be a joy as the music flows and flows. I first heard this song on, of all places, the Weather Channel. Those are my thoughts and thanks for reading.
  • this CD is "Off Da' Chain"...!!! 
  • I got this for my brother. He loves it.
  • What can I say.
  • Where ever you are you can just stop and get out the car and dance. Some people will laugh, some will point, & some will stop by and join in with you. That's how good Manhattan to Staten CD is good.
  • easy to dance to on roller skates. 
  • I could easily envision one of these songs on some soundtrack or on a car commercial.
  • like Dali in Soundscape.
  • Wish I had a longer drive to work!
Just noticed the back cover image is of the Staten Island Ferry in front of the World Trade Center towers. That was a gut punch. Damn.

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

Tracks: Like all DTTB releases, they're all heavily grooved, they're all enjoyable, they're all danceable, and they all run together after a while. One of those groups where you can't name any of their tracks and you're lucky to remember an album title, but you enjoy the crap out of the music just the same. From what I can tell, the singles were the first two tracks, Staten Island Groove and Brooklyn Heights.

Personal Memory Associated with this CD: None

Previously revisited for the blog:
Future Boogie (2009)
Supercharged (2007)
Cellar Funk (2004)
Crazy Vibes and Things (2002)
The Urban Grooves (1999)