- PAUL SIMON: HEARTS AND BONES: 1983: 5 STARS OUT OF 5 STARS: Certainly not Paul Simon’s best album but my favorite. Originally it was going to be a Simon and Garfunkel album but Paul wisely had second thoughts- erased Artie’s vocals and made it another solo album. It wasn’t well received at the time by the critics or the public- no hits here. A very personal album- I couldn’t imagine Artie singing on these songs. Favorite songs- The Late Great Johnny Ace, Hearts and Bones, Think Too Much, Rene And Georgette Magritte And Their Dog After The War, Train In The Distance.
- FRANK SINATRA: SINATRA’S SWINGIN’ SESSION: 1961: 5 STARS OUT OF 5 STARS: Frank re-recorded most of these songs- from his earlier days at Columbia- six of the eight songs were originally on his Sing and Dance With Frank Sinatra. Nelson Riddle arranging. Frank swings hard on this album.
- BEE GEES BEST OF BEE GEES: 1969: 4 1/2 STARS OUT OF 5 STARS: The 1960’s Bee Gees get the short shaft now in favor of their huge mid to late 60’s work but this early collection of 12 songs represent their early work well. No disco in sight.
- PAUL SIMON: GRACELAND: 1986: 5 STARS OUT OF 5 STARS: Paul Simon’s most celebrated album- and his big commercial comeback. Won the Grammy for Best Album . The hit single on the album “You Can Call Me Al” is actually one of the weaker songs on the album- which isn’t to say its not a good single. His use of South African musicians got a lot of criticism- this was the apartheid days but he did draw a lot of attention to their great music. A universally loved album. A career highlight.
- THE DECEMBERISTS: THE CRANE WIFE: 2006: 4 STARS OUT OF 5 STARS: This was the album that brought The Decemberists to my attention and it was also their commercial breakthrough going to #35 on the album chart.The album was inspired by a Japanese folk tale and centers on two song cycles. As I mentioned before The Decemberists song material is far from the norm and the instruments they employ are also- part of their appeal to me.
- WINGS: VENUS AND MARS: 1975: 4 STARS OUT OF 5 STARS: The follow up to Band On The Run- isn’t nearly as strong and it received very mixed reviews but I’ve always liked it. The single Listen To What The Man Said- went to #1, this album seemed more like a band effort with Denny Laine and Jimmy McCulloch also getting songs on it.