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, December 8, 2018

Seal - Crazy (1990)

CD Single

7 versions of Seal's first US hit and a b-side (Sparkle), all clocking in at 43:53. While I've long liked the song (and the album on which it appears), that's a lot of craziness. Nonetheless, there's some good stuff here.

Billboard, June 15, 1991, p. 65

Peak on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart: #7


My recommendations are tracks 1, 3, 5, and 8. For what it's worth, track 4 is not a cappella.

Listened on headphones today which brought out all the beauty of Trevor Horn's genius.

Personal Memory Associated with this CD: I saw this thing in a used bin for a buck and how dumb do you think I am?

Previously revisited for the blog:
7 (2015)
Best 1991-2004 (2004)
IV (2003)
Human Being (1998)
Seal (1994)
Seal (1991)

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Bob James - Playin' Hooky (1997)

In which Mr. James gets together with some great guests and produces something a little different than his usual solo stuff. To my ears, the guests seem to push James a little and I'm digging the results. The collaborations hearken back to his '70s works while still sounding contemporary in the '90s (if that makes any sense). But it's all smooth and works great after a long day in the cubicle farm.

Notable names include: Steve Gadd, Fareed Haque, Dave Samuels, Boney James, Paul Brown, Chuck Loeb, Nathan East, and Rick Braun.

I don't understand the album title, though. Playin' hooky from where? Fourplay?

Peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart: Did not chart.
Peak on the US Billboard Top Contemporary Jazz Albums chart: #4

Tracks: My top picks are Playing With Fire, Mind Games, and Hook Line & Sinker. The only track I'll skip is the awkward take on Gershwin's 1922 tune, Do It Again.

Personal Memory Associated with this CD: None

Previously revisited for the blog:
Rameau (1984)
Two of a Kind (1982)

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Booker T. & The MGs - In the Christmas Spirit (1966)

We wish you a groovy Christmas! Booker T. & The MGs record Christmas tunes in the classic STAX style. Probably one take, direct to tape. Recorded in October, released in November. Amazing. New to me, this one will get quite a few spins around this house this season and will be added to the usual Xmas CD rotation.

Peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart: Did not chart, but regularly placed on the Christmas album chart for the remainder of the decade.

Tracks: 12 tracks in 34 minutes. They're all good - a big batch of holiday fun. STAX even released Jingle Bells as a single. It's also nice to get a gentle take on Sweet Little Jesus Boy since I don't hear that one much.

Personal Memory Associated with this CD: None. Don't know what took me so long to find this one.

Previously revisited for the blog:
The Road From Memphis (2011)
Potato Hole (2009)
McLemore Avenue (1970)
Green Onions (1962)

Saturday, November 24, 2018

General Public - All The Rage (1984)

A number of years back, I wrote "I should like General Public because of their connection with The English Beat, The Specials, and The Clash, but I think, at the time, I was so upset the The English Beat had split, I never gave the supergroup a chance. Maybe I should rethink that now. I'm sure I can find All The Rage on the cheap at eBay." It didn't help that the group split following their best album, Special Beat Service (one of my favorite albums of 1982). Nonetheless, someone in my college dorm bought this General Public album and I dubbed a copy to a C-90 tape and listened to it enough that I should rethink the statement that "I never gave the supergroup a chance." (If I recall correctly, I had David Bowie's underrated Tonight album on the other side of that cassette.)

Now that I attempt to listen to this album with an open mind, a few of the songs would have fit right in on Special Beat Service. Others suffer from too much synth/LinnDrum and not enough of Dave Wakeling's guitar. But that was the popular production sound of the time so whatcha gonna do? [shrug] I'm mostly in agreement with the review from Smash Hits (below), but it's enjoyable enough that I'll give it more listens.

Smash Hits, October 11, 1984, p. 25

Peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart: #26
Peak on Cash Box album chart: #33

Tracks: Top tracks are Hot You're Cool (which lifts its intro from Thompson Twins' Lies but then I hear the familiar tone of Saxa and all is forgiven), Tenderness, Burning Bright, and Never You Done That. How that last tune wasn't a top forty hit is a mind-boggler. I don't care much for As A Matter Of Fact, Anxious, and General Public.

Houston concert date. Coulda woulda shoulda.

Personal Memory Associated with this CD: I'm thinking that the person I who bought this album was named Tom and lived in the dorm room next to mine. He was from Buffalo NY and on the golf team, but we had similar tastes in music. We had two residents named Tom on the hall, so to differentiate, I started using the name "Buffalo Tom" for the guy next door, predating the naming of the alt rock band. This quickly became a popular nickname but was eventually shortened to "Buffy" and if I saw him today, that's what I'd call him.

Friday, November 23, 2018

Earl Klugh - Dream Come True (1980)/Crazy For You (1981)/Low Ride (1983)

UK Import

Three albums on 2 CDs from the master of nylon string guitar smooth jazz. Thanks, BGO. Almost 35 years ago, I discovered Klugh while a freshman in college and I've been a fan ever since. I find it impossible to stay in a bad mood while listening to Klugh play guitar. Sure, the music can be lightweight at times, but sometimes that's just what you need.

Excellent remastering job. Well done.

8 tracks, 36 minutes

Peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart: #42
Peak on Billboard's Jazz LPs chart: #4
Peak on Billboard's R&B albums chart: #22
Peak on Cash Box album chart: #58
Peak on Cash Box Jazz chart: #2

Cash Box, April 5, 1980, p. 11

Tracks: Nothing worth skipping, but my top picks are If It's In Your Heart (It's In Your Smile), Amazon, Spellbound (a great uptempo track nicely hijacked by a Greg Phillinganes solo), and the relaxing title track.

8 tracks, 38 minutes

Peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart: #53
Peak on Billboard's Jazz LPs chart: #2
Peak on Billboard's R&B albums chart: #14
Peak on Cash Box album chart: #59
Peak on Cash Box Jazz chart: #3

Billboard, November 7, 1981, p. 78

Tracks: So many good tracks here, all written by Klugh himself, nice verity of styles. I wouldn't skip any but will single out the lead track, I'm Ready For Your Love as well as Twinkle (with a great bass solo from Louis Johnson of the Brothers Johnson).

LOW RIDE (1983)
8 tracks, 37 minutes

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

Peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart: #38
Peak on Billboard's Jazz LPs chart: #2
Peak on Billboard's R&B albums chart: #27
Peak on Cash Box album chart: #40
Peak on Cash Box Jazz chart: #1

Cash Box, May 21, 1983, p. 12

Tracks: This album leans a little more R&B than smooth jazz, but when the lead instrument is acoustic guitar it never really crosses the line. Again, don't skip any tracks. I like the funky (If You Want To) Be My Love, the title track, and the beautiful ballad Christina.

Previously revisited for the blog:
Move (1994)
Midnight in San Juan (1991)
The Best of Earl Klugh (1991)
Volume One (1991)
Collaboration (1987)
Soda Fountain Shuffle (1985)
Two of a Kind (1982)
Late Night Guitar (1980)
Finger Paintings (1977)/Heart String (1979)/Wishful Thinking (1984)

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Talking Heads - Fear Of Music (1979)

Before we get started, I feel the need to mention that the title and Jerry Harrison's embossed, industrial cover design are some of my all-time favorites.

I'd love to tell you the story about a hip 13 year-old living on the rural Texas coast, compulsively listening to Fear Of Music amid the rice farms while his polyester-wearing friends were listening to disco records. Alas, that wasn't to be. Like many kids my age, I discovered Talking Heads when I saw the video for Once In A Lifetime on MTV in the early '80s. I'd guess I didn't hear this album until 5 years after its release.

I love this thing - the quirkiness, Eno's production, the grittiness, the white-boy funk, the cautionary realism, the music-noir. I recently picked up a used copy of The Virgin Encyclopedia of Indie & New Wave (from the Chicago Public Library discard heap - eBay can be a wonderful thing sometimes), let's see what it says about this album. Welp, it only receives 3 of 5 stars and earns but one sentence in the band's section: "Eno's services were retained for the opaque Fear of Music, which included the popular Life During Wartime." Uh, ok then. Personally, I'm at around 4.5 of 5 stars and the following blurb quote: "The band's most consistently satisfying album to date." Let's check out some other review quotes, offered up like a lazy TV ad:
  • "...its better songs are as good as any Talking Heads ever did."
  • "Paranoid delusions of a rock band"
  • "wildly and wonderfully varied"
  • "There are no bad tracks or bad ideas present, only unique and thrilling post punk that helped define the upcoming decade of music."
  • "David Byrne's celebration of paranoia is a little obsessive, but like they say, that doesn't mean somebody isn't trying to get him."
And for what it's worth, I'm enjoying this album more today than I ever have before and just listened to it complete twice through.

Peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart: #21
Peak on Cash Box album chart: #30

Tracks: My favorites are I Zimbra, Mind, Cities, Life During Wartime (the most successful single on the album, peaking at #80), Memories Can't Wait, Animals, and Drugs. While Heaven is a good tune and fits in perfectly in the album's sequence, I've never much cared for it nor Electric Guitar.

Personal Memory Associated with this CD: I recently read the following book:

Like most books in this series, the author goes to great lengths to point out that the book isn't about the album itself, but rather his experience of the album. Yawn. Thanks for spending 4 pages stating the obvious, guys. While I can't recommend this volume in the series, it does give us this great line: " identification was so complete that I might have wished to wear the album Fear of Music in place of my head so as to be more clearly seen by those around me." (p. x)  Well put. I think we've all had albums like that at one time or another.

CD Longbox

Previously revisited for the blog:
The Best Of (2004)
Stop Making Sense (1984)
The Name Of This Band Is Talking Heads (1982) 

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Michael Jackson - Dangerous (1991)

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

To be honest, I gave up on Michael after Bad for no other reason than he gave up on Quincy Jones and Rod Temperton in order to chase a younger audience. So I've never heard this album before, only the singles (and I don't even remember many of those). Here we go...

Billboard, November 30, 1991, p. 51

Peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart: #1 (Four consecutive weeks, December 14, 1991 - January 4, 1992)

Tracks: I'm not much for New Jack Swing (I usually make exceptions for Jimmy Jam/Terry Lewis), so my picks are Remember The Time and Keep The Faith. While I've never cared for Black Or White, it turns out to be one of the better songs on the album.

Black or White13223
Remember the Time31215
In the Closet611-
Heal the World2762-9
Who Is It1461-
Will You Be There753-5

On first listen, it seems that Michael tried to copy to sound/success of sister Janet's Rhythm Nation album then tacked on a few leftover tunes from Bad. Well, at least we've still got Off The Wall and Thriller.

Personal Memory Associated with this CD: While I don't remember the many of the singles, I do remember the hype of the release of the video for Black and White. Seems like we all rushed home to see the premiere - must see TV! I was more impressed with the morphing in the video than the music. Plus, the wind machine budget was probably more than my current salary. The Internets tell me it was Thursday, November 14, 1991 and since I can't remember let's go with that.

CD Longbox

Previously revisited for the blog:
The Jacksons - Story: Number 1's (2007)
Bad (1987)
Thriller (1982)
Off the Wall (1979)