Posts Tagged ‘the beatles’

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George Harrison – All Things Must Pass

February 25, 2007

As I write this, it is very late on the birthday of one of my musical idols, former Beatles member and eternal angel George Harrison. The post may not say as much though, the clock is pretty screwed up. In any case, George has always been a very special person to me. Without a doubt, he is my favorite Beatle, and he has always been a source of spiritual and emotional inspiration. George died over five years ago and I miss him every day. He is truly a wonderful human being and worthy of more praise than can ever be given. I would just like to wish him a very happy birthday and a peaceful rest forever. I am sure he has found peace. His music lives on forever as priceless art and will forever be treasured.

I would like to take this very special day to aknowledge George’s first solo album, All Things Must Pass. I gave this album a very special listen today to commemorate him and it struck me more today than ever… This is one of the greatest albums ever made. Period. I don’t want to be too longwinded here because this album really doesn’t need anyone elses words to accompany it. I would say that this is by far the best double album ever, but it is in fact a triple album, and only double-CD. Every song is a handpicked work of art, and a perfect vessel for this mans brilliant talent. The general style is that of folk-rock, but there is a very big production here, all rooting back to the great slide guitar and wonderful wall of sound effect that is employed here, with myriads of shining acoustic guitars and strings. Without a doubt, this album has fantastic production. But production is almost negligible when you have already constructed a perfect album. Every song on this album shines with love honest feeling.

It is very rare that I ever talk about one of my absolute favorite records ever, but I guess today just felt like the right day to give this the attention it deserves. Get ready, because you’re about to see me in a vulnerable state. This album moves me on a wonderful emotional level. But the coherency of the album is one thing… The very tail end of the album consists of original jams, and while they aren’t really priceless songs, they are still nice. In any case, the album isn’t without it’s few weak tracks. It’s truly shocking how consistant All Things Must Pass is… When you listen to this, it’s not until you get to I Dig Love when you think, “oh man, finally, a track that might be weak. I was beginning to think this was the best damn thing I’ve ever heard!” Well shit, I Dig Love is fifteen tracks in, and when a great little pop gem is comparatively weak, you know you have something great on your hands.

To talk about standout tracks is absolutely ridiculous. Honestly. Almost every track here is freaking gorgeous, from the opening smooth folk love swirl of I’d Have You Anytime to the tough blues rock of Art of Dying and the wonderful pop stomp of Wah-Wah, a statement on the Beatles. Theres really no explaining it… On a twenty three track album, only five songs are really disposable, and they are those latter ones I mentioned. Chances are everyone has heard My Sweet Lord and If Not For You at some time in their lives, but just hasn’t known who it was. Listening to this album is like meeting an old friend for the first time in many years with just as much joy as when you really got to know them. A personal favorite song is Apple Scruffs, a guitar and harmonica duet with an absolutely heart melting hook.

George Harrison and also All Things Must Pass have always held very special places in my heart. This is without a doubt one of my absolute favorites and a true essential to absolutely everyone. The album is filled to brim with priceless melodies, every song as moving as the last. There is no doubt in my mind that All Things Must Pass is better than any other solo album of a Beatles member. In fact, when I think about it, it’s better than any Beatles album, and I say that with complete honesty. Happy Birthday George; we all love you and miss you very much.

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The Beatles – Magical Mystery Tour

December 27, 2006


For how much material The Beatles put out and how much of it was fantastic, it is strangely easy for me to get bored with them. Maybe it’s because the only thing I would listen to for the first seven years of my life was The Beatles. So I got sick of Sgt. Pepper really quickly and I pretty much refuse to listen to that anymore. And I get wrapped up in the various imperfections in the white album and Rubber Soul as much as I like them. It is very hard to ask a Beatles fan what their favorite song is, because they are all so beyond comparisson and so all around great, but if you ask a fan what their favorite album is, well then you might get a straight answer. For me, the two Beatles albums that I can come back to after years and years are Hard Days Night and Magical Mystery Tour, the latter of which is probably the most comforting to me after repeated listens. Magical Mystery Tour is essentially the album of my childhood and it never gets old when I listen to it. In so many words, it is like an old friend who understands you. While Hard Days Night and Sgt. Pepper may speak of more vital and timeless issues like dumbfounded love and everyday life in this world, they hardly speak to issues that the listener can completely relate to. Abbey Road, Rubber Soul, and Magical Mystery Tour can truly do this job, and it just so happens that Magical Mystery Tour is the best of these albums.

Even my favorite Beatles albums have clunkers that end up haunting the overall picture. Abbey Road has Because and Golden Slumbers and Rubber Soul has The Word and Girl. For that reason, those albums, as great as they are, just don’t feel priceless. Magical Mystery Tour, however, has no weak songs. A few that some people may not like, yes, but listeners with open minds will have all eleven songs blow them away. The mood is actually very close to Rubber Soul, in how comforting the songs are and how they relate to peoples everyday lives. Which is odd, because the album cover would suggest exactly the opposite. The album was made as a soundtrack to the bands horrid TV special that no one seems able to remember, so the band obviously got a little silly with this. They dressed up as animals for the colorful cover art, and the drug influence shows here better than ever before, probably the most prominent in the bands entire discography. For that reason a good chunk of the album is surreal and druggy, but there are still wonderful melodies to be heard.

As I said before, I feel that I can truly relate to this album, or maybe it truly relates to me, or something. In many ways, this is the Beatles album for the run-of-the-mill working man, with some problems and some issues. The environment is never obtrusive but on more than one occasion a feeling of angst or depression is let out, and it actually feels great. Mostly because the majority of Beatles songs before this album were so damn poppy. You got the feeling that although songs like Yesterday and I’m A Loser were great and easy to relate to, they were also unrealistic in their poppiness and even a bit annoying in that respect when you are actually going through I hard time. Everyone goes through hard times. I went through hard times. My parents got divorced and I was having a hard time in school. Everyone can relate to this record in some way, I think.

But that doesn’t make the band any less prone to using hilarious irony. For how bleak or mellow some parts of this record are, the starting track is almost a joke or sorts, a call out to customers to “roll up” to a circus that is the bizaare and unexplainable everyday life. This is a sign that the album contains a lot of everything that happens in life. This song is not the only oddity though; there are others, and they are all just as delicious. The peculiar instrumental Flying is the most relaxing thing the band ever did, and you can hear the drugs just spewing from this one. But the song most obviously influenced by psychedelia and maybe even a bit of the far east is Blue Jay Way, the albums Harrison original. My dad always told me that George Harrison wrote the bands absolute best and absolute worst. Best being maybe Here Comes The Sun and worst being something like this. However, I find that this song is, although extremely weird and unaccessible, somewhat fun if you don’t take it too serioulsy. God knows George was my favorite Beatle and I SO wish that he could have produced more work in the context of the band. This is not one of his best, but it is interesting and druggy.

Speaking of druggy, this review can’t ever comfortably come to a close unless I Am The Walrus is given a proper explanation. Although really, the explanation for this is quite simple. DRUGS DRUGS DRUGS. Listening to this one at full blast makes Flying or Blue Jay Way sound tame and almost playful. In no other place does the drug culture and the full realization of the flaws of both liberal and conservative America come into full swing in the Beatles repetoire. And yet, it still makes no fucking sense at all. The hook is fun if not a bit bleak. The lyrics are…uninteligible. Well, you can hear them, but they might as well not even be lyrics because there is close to no obvious construction to them. Everyone has heard it, Paul McCartney screaming that he is not only “The Eggman,” but also “The Walrus.” These whimsical words combined with a meticulously planned instrumentation and a lions share of well placed samples make for the most interesting and interpretable Beatles song ever. Perhaps this was the bands way of saying “fuck off,” because there is no way in hell that the radio took well to this. And yet it’s a great song, but so sorely misunderstood for being a druggy hippie daze when in fact that was clearly the intention and maybe the subject of the songs mockery and shenanigans. Also interesting, people seemed to think that Paul McCartney was dead judging by some of the extremely quiet samples later in the song. Paul is dead? I’m not sure that I have heard weirder.

Although the album, like life, sometimes meanders on the strange stuff, there is a fair share of great accessible pop that marks every Beatles album. The second song The Fool On The Hill is quite a contemplative tune, giving a philisophical edge to the album. People like this exist, and that will come as very obvious after giving the song a good listen. Hello Goodbye is one of the bands best songs ever, and the explosion of an outro is breathtaking, one of the best moments the band has ever had. Two very underrated songs are Baby You’re A Rich Man and You’re Mother Should Know, and they are both very simple tunes for how effective they are. Two other killer tunes are both glances into the past of the members of The Beatles, Strawberry Fields Forever and Penny Lane. They both teeter on the same issues, fond memories of their childhood homes or neighborhoods, but Strawberry Fields is a little more psychedelic while Penny Lane is more reminiscent of the Rubber Soul era.

And the album ends with the Beatles most open and important message yet with “All You Need Is Love.” The title speaks for itself, and the melody is enough to melt your heart. For whatever reason, I find that this Beatles album may damn well be my favorite. This is both a snap into reality and the unreal, with it’s frank commentary on how tough and stressful life can be and also with it’s clear drug influence. This may be the only Beatles album that manages to be dreary while also being abrasive as always. Like all Beatles albums, this is best complemented by more happy albums like Revolver or Rubber Soul, but if you ever feel the need to listen to a Beatles album that gives a bit more of a realistic view on life and isn’t afraid to say some things that can’t be said in the radio friendly pop world, this classic is well worth checking out. It is an album that I love from my childhood and it stands tall alongside other great Beatles classics.

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Shuffle Time

August 28, 2006

I saw a guys site (that is now linked from here) where he shuffled his mp3 player and talked about each song. I guess I’ll do that every once and a while. If I’ve already covered the album that the song is on, I will most likely skip it. But I don’t like making rules, because I break them all the fricking time. Anyway, I almost never seem to keep on topic for too long on this thing anyway, so I guess when I’ll talk about a song, what I know behind it, if it’s good or not, whatever else is on my mind.

Pixies – Gouge Away

I’ve really started to like Pixies lately. It seems like I have the fortune of getting interested in bands right after I could have seen them live. Yes, Pixies reunited last year for a tour and it was supposed to be awesome. I feel bad that I couldn’t go. This one is off of Doolittle, a great album, and it is one of the stand out tracks. The band has an uncanny knack for writing great, catchy songs, this being one of their better works.

The debate always rages on; which is better, Doolittle or Surfer Rosa? If you want my say in it I’m going to have to go with Surfer Rosa. But Doolittle is a great album too. It just has a lot of clunkers, some stuff that just doesn’t fit in that well. I’d say Surfer Rosa stays consistant all the way through, but if they could have delivered with stuff like Gouge Away, Here Comes Your Man, and Monkey Gone To Heaven all the way through, it would easily be better.


The Beatles – Blackbird

By the time the white album came out, The Beatles were already one of the most influential bands ever. They could write whatever they wanted and it still would have been well recieved, and they still had money coming out of their noses, so they could do anything. For that reason, much of the white album was spent in a drunken stupor. An interesting drunken stupor yes, but be it through great singalong pop like Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da and weird stuff like Why Don’t We Do It In The Road, the album is just really solid. This song is a break from all the weirdness and such for a few minutes of a tender melody. And that actually happens a lot in this album. The best songs are the ones that stray away from the strangeness and pop to say something straightforward and cool. It’s just a really good song with great words.

The Clash – The Guns of Brixton

When people think punk in the seventies, they almost always think of three bands. The Ramones, The Sex Pistols, and The Clash. The Ramones invented punk. The Sex Pistols refined it. And most people will tell you that The Clash perfected it. Whatever you say about that statement, The Clash were a great band with a lot of great songs, and they combined straight up angry punk with good hooks. The Guns of Brixton is one that leans a little more towards the anger and the thrashing, but it still has a bouncy thing going on. It’s like you are being told a story by an old crusty rock veteran sailor dude or something. I guess I’m more partial to The Sex Pistols as far as classic punk goes, but this is a great song.

Robert Plant & The Strange Sensation – Tin Pan Valley

Led Zeppelins main man had a solo career with it’s ups and downs, and say what you will about the quality of his music compared to Led Zeppelin stuff, he still sold a lot of records. He came out with Mighty Rearranger, what, was it last year or the year before? Whatever, I saw him and his band in the Auditorium Theater downtown last summer and it was a great show. Granted, he’s old and fat and he can’t hit the high notes very well, but his backup band kicks ass and he can still move around on stage. And he actually played a lot of Led Zeppelin. It’s weird because a lot of times artists that go solo after their initial fame refuse to play their older material from their last band, but I guess Robert Plant just isn’t going to pretend or anything. They played a really funky version of Whole Lotta Love that was very cool, during which he hit an extremely high note. There was some echo on it yes, but it was still an impressive feat for what condition his voice was in. The crowd was actually very cool for what kind of area we were in. It was mostly just cool older dudes, not too many rowdy people. This is the one that got the most radio play I think. It’s okay, it sort of has this mysterious creepy thing going on at first and then it sort of crescendos into this big burly tough rock thing. And he’s screaming his lungs out and his voice sounds shitty. Yeah, his voice is bad but what are you going to do. Cool song.


Santana – Samba Pa’ Ti

I’m a big Santana fan and this is one of my favorites. I actually saw him in concert too, but I was really little. You know, before he sucked. It was on the Supernatural tour, we were out in the grass where all these hippies were smoking weed and stuff, probably not a good show to bring your kid to but whatever, I thought it was great. I doubt he played this. Pretty much the entire song is him doing some great beautiful soloing on a cool relaxing backdrop of beat. That guy can really play guitar, this is one of the best and longest solos I’ve ever heard if I would in fact call it a solo, it’s more just him singing with his guitar.
Nirvana – Ain’t It A Shame

Get ready, because you are about to hear a Nirvana fan go on with a lengthy discussion.

I got the box set, what now… Over a year and a half ago? And out of the four disks that With The Lights Out contains (one of which is a DVD), the first is easily the most strong. What most casual fans or listeners have never heard is Nirvana in it’s earlier developmental stages, which is unfortunate, because I really believe that if you have never heard Bleach or maybe the material from this first disk, you really don’t quite understand Nirvana completely. Yes, Nirvanamania came around just when Nevermind was released and the band did the interview blitzes all over hell and gone and it left Bleach and a lot of the earlier demos and EPs in the dust. Yeah, it was with good reason because Nevermind was just flat out one hundred times better than Bleach, but it wasn’t really all that… Grungy, so much as great run of the mill alternative hard rock. Don’t quote me on that, because yes it was grungy, but theres two kinds of grunge. Earlier grunge and later grunge. Bleach is a classic album of early grunge. Nevermind is a classic of the latter period.

Whatever, anyway, try to acquire this first disk if you can. If you thought Ultramega OK or Facelift were heavy, well shit, this trumps those in the respects of heaviness that they attempt to achieve. Kurt had a thing for Leadbelly, and he did, I think a total of four Leadbelly covers that were recorded, unless I’m mistaken. There seems to be confusion as to whether one of them was actually Leadbelly… But as far as my knowledge takes me, the covers were Grey Goose, Where Did You Sleep Last Night (of course), They Hung Him On A Cross, and Ain’t It A Shame. Ain’t It A Shame was easily the best, it’s just flat out fast hard rock blues, and Kurts little sense of humor was probably satisfied when he got to sing “ain’t it a shame to beat your wife on a sunday/aint it a shame.” One of my favorite unreleased recordings from Nirvana, even if it was a cover.

Rage Against The Machine – Bullet In The Head

Good song with a kicking bassline. I take Orchestra during the school year and I remember my orchestra teacher talking about how people used to think that the fiddle was the devils instrument hundreds of years ago. And there was also some superstition about the devils increment or something, I don’t know, Christian people were weird back then. It’s two notes that have five half steps between them. In this song it just happens to be used. In the conext of the song it’s a straight groove, but play the two notes next to each other and it does sound kind of creepy, like something you would hear in a horror movie. G sharp D. That’s the pattern in this movie, but both notes are played at the same time and in conjunction with the two Es on different octaves it sounds cool for the main bass riff. Not very evil.

This song is just vintage Rage. It’s just good stuff. A lot of what was on s/t was more long and progressive type stuff, and then as their career went on the band started to drift more towards shorter more energetic music with The Battle of Los Angeles. Evil Empire was sort of the in between, it had some really short rockers and a few longer ones. The stuff on s/t just seemed like it meant more for some reason though, even if I like The Battle of LA a lot more. It seemed like each song was more of a thrash symphony for some reason.


Rammstein – Los

For an almost gothic heavy metal band, Rammstein is actually pretty consistant. Usually that genre is just crap, but it’s hard to get better than Rammstein in not just industrial rock but flat out raging metal too. But this one isn’t so angry. It’s off of Reise, Reise which I believe came out in 2004. It’s about the most nonthreatening thing the band has ever written. It’s just a nice little groove really. I mean, I’m sure even they grinned later on when the cool funky little guitar solo comes on. It wasn’t until one of my friends started getting into Rammstein that I actually started listening. Most Rammstein is good stuff to listen to when you are pissed off, but this is just a good tune to flip on when you want to chill, maybe it’s late at night or something. Really, it keeps the Rammstein vibe without really getting angry. Very few other Rammstein songs, if any, can do that.


Dada – Mary Sunshine Rain

It’s kind of hard to explain what kind of band Dada was. They weren’t quite a one hit wonder I don’t think, because they had maybe two or three. And they generally made really good music, if only for three albums. Everyone has heard their biggest hit. It’s the one where the guy goes “I’m going to Disneylaaaand.” It’s good pop, and this is one of the lesser known tracks off of that same album, but at the same time one of the better. I really like what they have going with the guitar here, it’s sort of a twangy subdivided thing. Very overlooked pop, but they weren’t a band that would have had a vastly successful career or anything. But it’s a good song.


Little Hat Jones/J. T. Smith – Bye Bye Baby Blues

There was a movie released in 2001 that was pretty low key. It featured Steve Buscemi among other people and was based on an obscure comic book about two girls who lived in a town full of really droll people living really droll lives and how they dealt with it. Well, this movie was based on that comic book, and while it was a great movie, it was a tad depressing. The soundtrack really struck me. While it also included the movies more comedic tracks too, nine tenths of it was really old blues and swing from the twenties. Steve Buscemi’s character collected old vinyl, so you heard a lot of really great old blues. Bye Bye Baby Blues is one of the more standout tracks, a mellow guitar blues number featuring only the guitar and the voice.