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:
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.
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.
From a double album that I should give another try one day. Later, maybe.
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.
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.
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.
Fats Domino then! Gotta love an occasional shuffle.
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.
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.
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…
Genre: Rock, Alternative Country
Preceded by: At Dawn (2001)
Followed by: Z (2005)
Related to: not available yet
It was a couple of years ago when a friend of mine recommended me this album. I was in the middle of exploring all the music out there that was made in the sixties and seventies and I was a little sceptic about music from a more recent age. But this strange band name kept fascinating me in some way and when I saw the album cover with this giant stuffed bear combined with the album title It Still Moves, I decided that this record deserved to be listened to at least one time. Seventy minutes later, this album had proved that solid rock ‘n roll and beautiful melodies did survive through all those years, I just didn’t search well enough.
It was singer-songwriter and guitarist Jim James who formed this American band in Louisville in 1998. He recruited the rest of the band out of the emo-punk band Winter Death Club, where his cousin Johnny Quaid played guitar, Tom Blankenship was the bass player and J. Glenn was on drums. During those early days, My Morning Jacket principally was an alternative country band. This genre came into existence during the nineties, parallel with the upcoming success of alternative rock. It contained a range of musicians that were playing beyond the borders of traditional country. As such, they drew inspiration from country rock (fusing country with rock ‘n roll) pioneers like Gram Parsons and Steve Earle, with themselves opting for a more lo-fi sound.
As this new alternative country, lo-fi band, My Morning Jacket debuted in 1999 with The Tennessee Fire, which became a hit in Europe. But it was only with their second album, At Dawn, that their popularity started to grow at home. Just like It Still Moves that would follow later on, this album started to show more classic rock influences, featuring more electric guitar sounds than on the previous album. This makes that the sound of the band on It Still Moves always reminds me of Neil Young and Crazy Horse, with its typical screaming classic rock guitars. Another thing that is very characteristic for the album is the use of reverb, continuously producing a lot of echoes throughout the songs.
So there we are, comfortably lying in our couch, headphones on our heads and the album in our hands, counting twelve songs. Seventy minutes you said? Yes, the band takes its time to tell their story, but don’t worry, it’s constructed in a genius order. It all starts with ‘Mahgeetah’, a fantastic opening track, which immediately became my early favorite. Why wait with long, drawn-out vocals and powerful guitar riffs in reverb when you can throw them in right from the start while singing about the love for ‘my guitar’, that’s what Jim James must have thought.
During the next two songs, James takes us on tour with the band and that guitar. First we hike across nightjails and poolhalls on ‘Dancefloors’, escorted by a sweet guitar riff which is towards the end suddenly supported by a great horn section. But all the touring and dancefloors exhausts us and besides, we are starting to miss the things we left behind. So James makes us a campfire, pulls out his acoustic guitar and lets us dream about golden shores. On ‘Golden’, the band returns to the alt-country from the earlier albums for a moment, adopting the style of The Band.
We travel further and we end up at the, as the title already presumes, masterpiece of the album: ‘Master Plan’. It seems like Neil Young and his Crazy Horse have hit the empty highway again, surrounded by tumbleweeds and a haunting sunset. James’ voice is the most important instrument here, telling us the best plans end up really sweet, even if it looks like a routine. The classic rock party continues with ‘One Big Holiday’, the band’s greatest hit and traditional encore of every live show. This song is entirely built around its catchy guitar riff, which almost automatically makes you pick up your air guitar.
Put away this guitar again and drop into your couch again for ‘I Will Sing You Songs’. On ‘Master Plan’, James sings ‘Just cause it starts off slow babe, doesn’t mean it don’t have a heart’. This really applies to this song, with a long instrumental intro and outro. Beautiful fragile song with a riff that somehow always reminds me of Pink Floyd‘s ‘Us and Them’. After this moment of rest, we salute the ‘Easy Morning Rebel’, with again a very ‘Crazy Horsesk’ jam in the end. We ‘Run Thru’, one of Rolling Stone’s 100 Greatest Guitar Songs, not to mention the fantastic drumsolo in the middle of the song which lets the song explode right again when you think it’s over.
Personally, I think the following two songs, ‘Rollin’ Back’ and ‘Just One Thing’, are the least of all. But the album has another peak towards the end, with ‘Steam Engine’ and ‘One In The Same’. The first one, just like ‘I Will Sing You Songs’, mainly is about James’ voice and a basic drum beat, this time accompanied by a softly whimpering guitar and fantastic drawn-out vocals in the end. The final track of the album is another personal favorite. The band is gone, and only Jim James and his acoustic guitar remain in the empty hall, trying to fit the pieces of his mind together again. It’s hard to think of a more beautiful way to end an album as with the line “It wasn’t till I woke up that I could hold down a joke or a job or a dream. But then all three are one in the same”.
My Morning Jacket continued to make music after this album, widening their sound with all kind of other influences, ranging from funk through reggae. Some members were replaced by others because they couldn’t endure the heavy touring anymore, but don’t hesitate if you ever get the chance to see them live, as their performances are still breathtaking. But start with this album first.