My Music Listening Journal 2021: Day 1: Friday January 1, 2021. I have found that I listen to more music when I keep this blog post on a daily basis. Last year I abandoned it- now dusting off an old fixture- it’s back for good or ill.
- FONTAINES D.C. : DOGREL: 2019. 4 1/2 STARS: CD: POST-PUNK: I was introduced to this group while listening to Celtic Crush on Sirius/XM – nearly two years ago. They immediately got my attention-their sound is right up my alley. I was first confused by the D.C. at the end of their name- they sure didn’t sound like they’d have any connection to Washington, D.C.- and they don’t- the D.C. stands for Dublin City. These guys are young and ambitious- their sophomore album came out in the summer of 2020 and from what I was reading on them it sounds like it won’t be too long of a wait until they have another one out. I wanted to start the year with something fresh and new- both of their albums are outstanding. My Mount Rushmore from this album- “Boys In The Better Land”, “Liberty Belle”, “Hurricane Laughter” and “Big”- although there isn’t a loser on the album.
- FIONA APPLE: FETCH THE BOLT CUTTERS:2020: 5 STARS: APPLE ITUNES: ALTERNATIVE: This album has been near or at the top of most of the Best Of 2020 Albums lists I have seen in the past few weeks. While I have been a fan of Fiona Apple’s in the past- sad to say this is my first listen to the album, I think it will be something I will be playing a lot in the near future. My only problem with her has been- how slow she works, this is her 5th album in 25 years and her first since 2012- but I guess if she keeps putting out great albums how can you complain. What got my attention on this is a review which compared it to John Lennon’s Plastic Ono Band. The album is driven by piano and percussion. While there is a anger in this album there is also a lot of humor. Mount Rushmore- “Shameika” is by far my favorite- others-“I Want You To Love Me’, “Under The Table” and “Cosmonauts” strike me at first listen.
- MARVIN GAYE: WHAT’S GOING ON: 1971: 5 + STARS: APPLE ITUNES: SOUL: Recently Rolling Stone magazine updated this Greatest Album’s Ever list- and the new vote had this album as the greatest album of all time. This is a great album- but I would differ with the greatest album ever- Top 20 I would agree but this #1 greatest ever seems more like trying to stay with the times. That being said it was ranked at #6 way back in 2003 in their poll. This was a big change for Motown and Gaye- 60’s Motown while they produced outstanding singles were not as concerned with albums or with social issues- it was about writing and producing great sounding songs. What’s Going On is a concept album dealing with the issues of that day- Vietnam, poverty, racism. drug abuse. This was the first album that Marvin produced on his own but he was still backed by the Funk Brothers! This is one of the first albums which paved the way for some of the greatest albums of the 70’s- Motown giving Marvin freedom- under the old rules would we have ever had any of those great Stevie Wonder albums that were to come? The Mount Rushmore would be the four singles released on this album- “What’s Going On” a song certainly on the short list of greatest songs ever- “Mercy, Mercy Me”, “Inner City Blues [Makes Me Wanna Holler}”, “Save The Children.” Marvin may be my all time favorite artist. I have borrowed my brother’s box sets which contain all of his albums. Note- In 2019 I listened to dozens of albums from 1969- last year I didn’t do 1970 justice a listening goal here in 2021 is to listen to all the important -and acclaimed albums as I can from 1971.
- JOHN LENNON: IMAGINE: 1971: 5 STARS OUT OF 5 STARS: APPLE ITUNES: ROCK: While I would rank 1970’s Plastic Ono Band as John’s greatest album- it is not an easy listen. Imagine I have found a much easier listen. Mount Rushmore: “Imagine”, “Gimme Some Truth”, “Jealous Guy” and “Crippled Inside.” While it is undeniably a great song- “How Do You Sleep?” an attack on Paul McCartney has always given me mixed emotions. Hated to see Beatles fighting.
- VAN MORRISON: TUPELO HONEY: 1971: 5 STARS OUT OF 5 STARS: IPOD: FOLK ROCK: Van’s 5th album. Van The Man sounds very happy on this album which celebrates his family life and the rural living he was doing at the time in Woodstock, New York. There is a mixture of music genres on the album. The Mount Rushmore- the title track and “Wild Night” are classics- to pick a couple more how about “When The Evening Sun Goes Down” and “Moonshine Whiskey.”
- STEVE EARLE: GUITAR TOWN: 1986: 5 STARS OUT OF 5 STARS: IPOD: COUNTRY. Steve Earle is one of my Mount Rushmore of music artists- along with The Beatles, Bob Dylan and The King- Elvis Costello. His debut album still ranks as one of his finest. A country album- he was one of the bright shining new country artists to come out during that period- along with the likes of Dwight Yoakam, Lyle Lovett and Randy Travis. Steve wisely veered off the country path and into what would now be Americana. His first album features what is his strong point- excellent songwriting. I can still recall where I was when I first heard “Guitar Town” on the radio- I was a fan for life on first listen. Mount Rushmore- the title track, “My Old Friend The Blues”, “Someday”, “Goodbye’s All We’ve Left To Say.” “Little Rock n’ Roller” which was written about his young son Justin Townes takes on a new poignancy with the death of Justin Townes Earle this past summer.
- BADFINGER: STRAIGHT UP: 1971: 4 1/2 STARS OUT OF 5 STARS: APPLE ITUNES: POWER POP: The 4th album by the power pop gods- Badfinger was released in the US in December 1971. The album was produced by Beatle George and Todd Rundgren- Badfinger was still with The Beatles Apple Records at the time. This album which featured the hit singles “Baby Blue” and “Day After Day”- was Badfinger at the peak of their powers. A very polished album- in addition to the two great singles joining them on the Mount Rushmore of the album- “Name Of The Game” and “It’s Over.” When I think of Badfinger three things come to mind- their tragic history- Pete Ham and Tom Evans both hanged themselves, my friend Max’s love for the band and the ending of the great Breaking Bad series to the song “Baby Blue.”
- THE BEATLES: PLEASE PLEASE ME: 1963: 5 STARS OUT OF 5 STARS: IPOD: ROCK AND ROLL: Couldn’t start the year without listening to any Beatles. The two most similar albums are the first two-then they were constantly growing/ changing– those first two albums were great though. Full of enthusiasm. Mount Rushmore- “I Saw Her Standing There”/ “Please Please Me”, “Twist And Shout” and “Love Me Do.”