Monthly Archives: May 2013

This is an ode to the shuffle. How better to get a good insight in your digitized album collection than by a classic shuffle? Finally discover the albums you never got into, finally throw the ones away you will never get into and worship those classics that never grow old again. The Shuffle of this week:

 1. White Stripes – I Just Don’t Know What to Do with Myself (Elephant, 2003) 

About time that I was going to put this album on again. Didn’t hear this for a long time although it was one of my favorites a few years ago. One of those albums from the past ten years that can easily be classified ‘classic album’ already. This is the only song from it that was not written by White himself, but by Burt Bacharach (with Hal David), who was recently honored with a lifetime achievement award for his tremendous contribution to pop music. Released earlier in 1964 by Dusty Springfield.

2.   Beach Boys – Sail On Sailor (The Beach Boys in Concert, 1973) 

Opening track of the Beach Boys’ second live album, which had just been released as a single at the time this concert was recorded. It originally appeared (or in fact it didn’t, as it was added after the official recordings due to the lack of a potential hit on the album) on their album Holland, as the group tried to find some inspiration there during the early seventies. Brian Wilson, who co-wrote the song, had (temporary) left the band during this tour.

3. Eels –Going Fetal (Blinking Lights and Other Revelation, 2005) 

From a double album that I should give another try one day. Later, maybe.

 

4. Beatles – Birthday (The Beatles (White Album), 1968) 

Talking about double albums, this one probably being the most famous one of them all. This song is of course the uptempo kick-off of side 3, with a great guitar/bass riff. Described by Lennon as a piece of garbage, but highly recommendable to those who like Macca best with an occasional scream.

5. Marvin Gaye – Wholy Holy (What’s Going On, 1971) 

A song about Jesus of one of music professor Hofmeijer’s all-time favorite albums.  However, when Marvin would have sung about a gnu in this song, many people would have believed him too. Great album.

6. Otis Redding – Mr. Pitiful (The Great Otis Redding Sings Soul Ballads, 1965) 

More soul this week with one of Otis’ best known songs, two and a half minutes of pure joy I have to admit. The song was written by Otis and his guitarist Steve Cropper (one of Booker T.’s M.G.’s), after a disc jockey had described Otis’ voice as sounding pitiful when singing his ballads.

7. Fats Domino – Honey Chile (This is Fats Domino, 1957) 

Fats Domino then! Gotta love an occasional shuffle.

 

8. Steve Earle – Down the Road (Guitar Town, 1986) 

Time for something completely different then. One of my favorite tracks from this country rock album, which was Earle’s debut as well as breakthrough album.

9. Mogwai – The Precipice   (The Hawk is Howling, 2008) 

Finally time to catch a breath then, after all those short songs after another. This track guarantees you seven minutes of dark, mystic atmosphere from the sixth album by Mogwai. Time to compare this one to Rock Action, released 7 years earlier, which I listened elaborately after a previous shuffle.

10. Creedence Clearwater Revival – I Heard It Trough the Grapevine (Cosmo’s Factory, 1970) 

And we’re also taking our time to fade out easily this week, after such a rush. And there’s Marvin Gaye again, as he gave this song its fame of course with his 1968 version (however, the song was written by Norman Whitfield and Barett Strong for Motown). It sounds kind of weird to say that those eleven CCR-minutes are pure nostalgia, when you were only born 15 years after the record came out. One of the first albums I met that contained music instead of sound…

This is an ode to the shuffle. How better to get a good insight in your digitized album collection than by a classic shuffle? Finally discover the albums you never got into, finally throw the ones away you will never get into and worship those classics that never grow old again. The Shuffle of this week:

1. Pink Floyd – On the Turning Away (A Momentary Lapse of Reason, 1987) 

Starting this week with one of Floyd’s latest great singles, a very nice power ballad dominated by Gilmour’s vocals and guitar playing. In this way a song (just like the album) with a lot of recognizability, but without the originality the band was famous for, as the sound resembles that of ‘Wish You Were Here’ while the lyrics seem to be borrowed from Dark Side of the Moon.

2. Killing Joke – Complications (Killing Joke, 1980)


Quite the anthithesis then with this song from Kiling Joke’s debut album. It’s completely driven by the fast guitar riff that reminds of the bands punk roots. A preview of what was released later by bands like Nine Inch Nails and Faith No More.

3. Echo & the Bunnymen – Thorn of Crowns (Ocean Rain, 1984)


The transition is completed by the post-punk of Echo & the Bunnymen (again!) from four years later. I’m going to explore this band further, as the shuffle is clear on this point.

4. Pearl Jam – Why Go (Ten, 1991)


Time for guitar licks from all different eras this week, as this juwel from one of rock history’s most amazing debut albums kicks in next. The music of this song was written by bass player Jeff Ament long before Eddie Vedder added the lyrics about a girl in a psychiatric hospital.

5. The Band – Rockin’ Chair (The Band, 1969)


Easy going song from the best album that I discovered in the past couple of years. This group and its sound are officially declared incredible. About time for an album review right here.

6. The Afghan Whigs – My Curse (Gentlemen, 1993)


I guess this is the moment to add this one to my mp3 player, as I have nothing to say about Greg Dulli’s curse yet. (update: after a long struggle that lasted a couple of years, this album has convinced me of being a modest classic)

7. Titus Andronicus – A Pot In Which To Piss (The Monitor, 2010)


An album I got passed by art spotter Levenskoenst. Kind of Guided By Voices meets Neutral Milk Hotel, with lyrics contributed by The Band.

8. The Books – All Our Base Are Belong to Them (Thought for Food, 2002)


Album I was never captivated by. This song doesn’t really change that. Or wait a minute… no.

 

9. Traffic – Forty Thousand Headman (Traffic, 1968)


Total highlight then with some great late sixties rock from this bands’ second album. The album offers a great variety of rock songs, in which you seem to recognize different rock bands from that era like Blind Faith (inevitably thanks to Steve Winwood’s presence), Fleetwood Mac (‘Don’t Be Sad’) and Jethro Tull (this song).

10. Johnny Cash – I Hung My Head (The Man Comes Around, 2002)


Can we close in a better way than by hanging our head together with mister Cash?

 

 

Year: 1974

Genre: Hard Rock, Glam Rock

Preceded by: Berlin (1973)

Followed by: Sally Can’t Dance (1974)

Related to: The Velvet Underground – The Velvet Underground

 

 

Not many albums out there that ravished me immediately from the start, but The Velvet Underground & Nico (1967) from the same band and singer was one of them. The droning guitars and the strange, fascinating lyrics made this album incomparable to any other album I knew at that moment. It didn’t take long before I started to explore all other works of the band, and I loved it without an exception. However, it somehow took me way more time to appreciate the solo work from one of its main members: Lou Reed.

Reed comes from Brooklyn, New York, where he met his Velvet partner John Cale (bass guitar and other instruments) in 1964. Cale liked Reed’s guitar playing, as he heard him playing ‘Heroin’,  one of the songs that would appear on the debut album (mentioned above) of the band those guys would soon form together with Sterling Morrison (guitar) and Maureen Tucker (drums). As a band they quickly drew the attention of pop art guru Andy Warhol, who added his protégé Nico (a German fashion model and singer) to the line-up. The resistance of Reed against this change resulted in the title of the debut album.

The Velvet Underground would continue to make albums with that revolutionary sound on it, as would Reed do as a solo artist. But in fact there’s no better way to run over these most successful years of this man than by listening to his magnificent live album from 1974: Rock ‘n’ Roll Animal. The original version of this album contains five songs stemming from different periods of his career, all performed in a blazin’ glam/hard rock set at Howard Stein’s Academy of Music (New York). Just like artists as David Bowie and Roxy Music, Reed was in the middle of his androgynous period back then, wearing leather clothes and nailed leashes and having his face greasepainted. But above all: Rock ‘n’ Roll Animal would become his best-selling album.

The album kicks off with a delicious, elaborate guitar intro. After only one minute you will already catch yourself playing the air guitar as if you were Reed himself. After a while you will recognize the tones of ‘Sweet Jane’, one  of the Velvet’s greatest hits, from the album Loaded (1970). Reed was the only songwriter on this album (Cale had already left the band) and would leave the band before the album was even released. The goal of this album was already to get some airplay on the radio, but it turned out to be even completely edited without the consent of Reed. Maybe this is the reason that Reed chose two songs from the album and played them in adjusted style, with ‘Sweet Jane’ being a real hard rocker here.

After this 8 minute opener Reed continues with a pumping glam rock version of ‘Heroin’, adding 6 minutes to the original 7 minutes track on The Velvet’s debut. As the title more or less predicts, this song is about the use and misuse of heroin. As Reed did on more songs on this album that handle with themes like drugs and sadomasochism, he gives an objective description without taking a moral position on the subject. The song is also live still characterized by its phenomenal (gradual) increase in tempo till it reaches a tearing crescendo.

On side B we proceed to the second Velvet album White Light/White Heat with the eponymous track. Nico is meanwhile exiled from the band and they continue to make ‘songs’ about controversial themes like travesty and trans sexuality. The band also keeps searching for ways to renew their sound, well portrayed for example by the song ‘The Gift’, which contains the recital of a short story told by John Cale on the left speaker channel while an instrumental rock song is played at the same time on the right channel. The song played here by Reed is the fast, aggressive opener of the album, about the sensations provided by the use of methamphetamine.

What follows is the only track from one of Reed’s solo albums: ‘Lady Day’, which is the second track from his third solo record Berlin. Reed had his break-through as a solo artist with his second album Transformer. A great role on this album was foreseen for Mick Ronson, the guitarist of David Bowie, as co-producer (next to Bowie himself) and session musician. It brought Reed lots of international success, but he wasn’t fulfilled with this. That’s why he declined to make another album with Bowie, followed by the release of Berlin as follow-up to Transformer. This album is a kind of concept album about a drug addicted couple from Berlin, characterized by its heavily orchestrated parts and contributions by top musicians like Jack Bruce (Cream) on bass and Steve Winwood (Traffic, Blind Faith) on organ and harmonium). ‘Lady Day’ is told from the prospective of Jim, one of the characters on the album. He tells us about his concern about the fact that he’s losing control over the life of his girlfriend Caroline, who’s going on a razzle in the obscure Berlin bars.

The final track is another extended (10 minutes) version from a former Velvet hit: ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll’. The song is also from the album Loaded and is a true ode to rock music. Reeds tells the story of a girl named Jenny whose life was saved by Rock and Roll, in a version full of improvisational guitar licks. During this track you really can’t keep sitting still and you absolutely have to grab your air guitar for the last time before throwing it in the delirious crowd.

Top Tracks:
1.    Intro/Sweet Jane
2.    Lady Day
3.    Rock ‘n’ Roll

Jukebox

DejaVu1970 applevenus1999 afterbathingatbaxters1967 darknessontheedgeoftown1978