1001 Other Albums – 12 -John Coltrane – Blue Train

Blue Train was John Coltrane’s only recording for Blue Note. It was the first album where he chosef the musicians he wanted to record with and it is the album in which he gets closest to hard bop, whicvh is a category that I don’t really understand. There are sub-categories in Jazz and if you asked me to listen and then tell you which category an album falls into I wouldn’t really know.

It has been said that “Blue Train” is uncharacteristic of Coltrane’s music and that it makes too many concessions to the Blue Note ‘sound’. Again, I really wouldn’t know, I just like it. I can certainly see the difference between this and the magnificent ‘Giant Steps’ but I can also see the difference between ‘Hard Days Night’ and ‘Let it Be’, and if there were no real difference then that would be a dissapointment.

At the time of recording, Coltrane had recently beaten his addiction to heroin that had been ongoing since 1953 and which had been overlaid on an earlier acquired addiction to alcohol and cigarettes, and much of the music on ‘Blue Train’ seems quite upbeat and, to me at least, has a sense of joy to it, a sense of release.

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1001 Other Albums – 11 – Billie Holiday – Lady Sings The Blues

Here we are with an album I actually own, although my copy is a nice re-issue, with a different cover, that I bought in Portugal while I was on holiday a few years ago. By the time of this release in 1956 Holiday’s voice had noticeably deteriorated from her earlier recordings but it didn’t really matter, the imperfections are quite appropriate for the mood of the songs. Holiday’s autobiography was released the same year, with the same title, and the album is a companion for the book, possibly purposfully, possibly not.

Holiday and the song ‘Strange Fruit’ will be eternally linked and in her autobiography she suggested that she, together with her musical collaborators, set the poem to music. The writers David Margolick and Hilton Als dismissed that claim in their work ‘Strange Fruit: The Biography of a Song’, writing that hers was “an account that may set a record for most misinformation per column inch”. When challenged, Holiday—whose autobiography had been ghostwritten by William Dufty—claimed, “I ain’t never read that book.”

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1001 Other Albums – 10 – Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong – Ella & Louis

Ella and Louis were accompanied by the Oscar Peterson Quartet for this 1956 release and it is primarily a vocal album, and a charming one. Having previously collaborated in the late 1940s for the Decca label, this was the first of three albums that Fitzgerald and Armstrong were to record together for Verve Records, later followed by 1957’s Ella and Louis Again and 1959’s Porgy and Bess.

Norman Granz, the founder of the Verve label, selected eleven ballads for Fitzgerald and Armstrong, all in a slow or moderate tempo, which gives this album an overall laid back feel and even though their voices are poles apart, they really do seem to work together quite beautifully.

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1001 Other Albums – 9 – The Charlie Mingus Jazz Workshop ‎– Pithecanthropus Erectus

This early Atlantic session in 1955 was one of the first of the bassist-composer’s workshop styled programmes. He felt that written music could not convey the true music of the composer as musicians would put their own invention on it. His method was to play each individual part to each musician on piano so that they fully understood the composer’s intention and would play it the way he “heard” it.

The title song was described by Mingus as a ten-minute tone poem, depicting the rise of man from his hominid roots (Pithecanthropus erectus) to an eventual downfall. A section of the piece was free improvisation, free of structure or theme.

I know that to many, Jazz is sometimes just noise but these recordings bridge the gap in some ways. There are random noises within the compositions but there is always a melody and Mingus tends to stick to chord structures.

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1001 Other Albums – 8 – Otto Luening / Vladimir Ussachevsky – Tape Recorder Music

I only discovered this album recently and I am simply astounded that it was recorded as far back as 1955. I love strange cut ups such as those one might hear from Prefuse 73 and all sorts of strnage ambient music appeals to me so to discover that these two people who I have never heard of were basically doing the same thing on what can be considered to be primative equipment 65 years ago is fantastic, and it reminds me just how much music there is still out there just waiting to be discovered.

I haven’t been able to find much information in relation to this project but what I do know is that American composer, conductor, composition teacher, and flutist Otto Luening and fellow composer Vladimir Ussachevsky helped to establish the Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center in the 1950’s where they created on a landmark series of collaborative compositions for magnetic tape and synthesizer, as well as works for acoustic instruments in combination with electronic sounds. 

The music they created, “tape music,” was a uniquely American synthesis of the French musique concrète and the German pure electronic schools.It is a revelation to me.

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1001 Other Albums – 7 – Bill Haley & His Comets – Rock Around The Clock

I had originally discounted this album as I wrongly assumed it was included in the 1001 Albums To Hear Before You Die book. I’ve no idea why it wasn’t really, although the 50’s isn’t well represented and I can think of 30 albums that should be in there off the top of my head. Even the wikipedia page for this album is pretty short which I find suprising.

It has had various covers over the years and the one i’ve included is the one I remember seeing in family homes in the UK when I was a small boy. I’m pretty sure I played it at somebodys house back in the early 70’s and the whole thing was an energetic delight. There is more to this album than the two openers, and for many in the UK back in 1956 it was their first proper introduction to Rock and Roll. This is why I feel it is important but alos because it’s a really fun listen.

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Return to work

After 4 months working from home I returned to work for a day on Thursday for the first time. My office was empty and it was a peaceful and productive work day. While there I collected the four albums that had arrived from Rough Trade while I had been away. The album selections are unknown to me so I find out what they are as I open them. As things stand I’ve had a quick listen to all of them and I would say at this point that I really like one of them, the other three I’m not sure about at all, I know I wouldn’t have bought them if I was browsing at a store or online, but this is the music discovery aspect of the monthly subscription to Rough Trade.

Briefly, these are the 4 albums I received.

Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs – Viscerals

Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever – Sideways To New Italy

Dream Wife – So When You Gonna…

Ben Lukas Boysen – Mirage

This was the one I liked, the others may well grow on me, we’ll see.

1001 Other Albums – 6 – Sarah Vaughan – Sara Vaughan

This album from Sarah Vaughan is one of those albums where everything is just right, nothing seems out of place and it feels effortlessly crafted. Enhanced by the excellent trumpet playing of Clifford Brown each song follows into the next to create a wonderful atmosphere of late night jazz clubs.

Though it was not entirely without criticism on its release I really can’t see that any of the criticism was really deserved and it’s critical reception upon release was overwhelmingly poitive. A contemporaneous review in the music magazine Metronome lamented that “Sarah sounds like an imitation of herself, sloppy, affected and so concerned with sound that she forgets that she is a singer, forgets the lyric of the song itself to indulge in sounds that are meaningless.” To which I say, that’s bollocks.

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1001 Other Songs – 5 -Moondog – MoonDog And His Friends

Welcome to the oddness of Alt-folk and the world of Moondog. Louis Thomas Hardin, also known as Moondog, was an American musician, composer, theoretician, poet and inventor of several musical instruments. He was blind from the age of 16.

Hardin lived in New York City from the late 1940s until 1972, and during this time he could often be found on 6th Avenue, between 52nd and 55th Streets, wearing a cloak and a horned helmet sometimes busking or selling music, but often just standing silently on the sidewalk. He was widely recognized as “the Viking of 6th Avenue” by thousands of passersby and residents who were not aware of his musical career.

Moondog’s music from the 1940s and 1950s is said to have been a strong influence on many early minimalist composers. Philip Glass has written that he and Steve Reich took Moondog’s work “very seriously and understood and appreciated it much more than what we were exposed to at Juilliard”

When listening to this album today, it does not feel the weight of its almost 70 years at all and it doesn’t seem to me to fit in the decade at all. It still seems a little out there so in the 50’s it must have been almost copmpletly alien to most. It is a very short album at 28 minutes but this may have been as it was originally released as a 10“ rather than an LP (I haven’t checked this but it makes sense) and of the tracks on it, I would highly reccomend The whole of Suite No.1 and Suite No.2

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1001 Other Albums – 4 – Peggy Lee – Black Coffee

It may seem odd to say it, but Black Coffee by Peggy Lee is a collection of songs that sound exactly as you would expect them to sound, which is exactly as they should sound. The mid fifties are preserved in amber in these songs that seem to contain the wholesome ideolised american dream and a hint of the reality of the seediness that existed but was hidden beneath the shimmering sheen presented to the world. America in the fifties was not the wholesome soda fountain world it now seems to be fondly remembered as the problems that still exist today where even deeper seated then and not even seen as being a problem.

I have always thought of Peggy Lee as being old but she was 33 at the time of recording this album, 20 years younger than I am today and when I clear my own misguided pre-conceptions and listen to the songs as though it were a woman in her thirties singing them it all makes much more sense to me. This was her first album, having previously been part of the Benny Goodman Orchestr since 1941 and, as was the standard practice at the time, the songs are all written by somebody else, often having already been performed on record by many other artist with the Cole Porter song ‘I’ve Got You Under My Skin’ being a good example.

interestingly, to me at least, Joni Mitchell declared the album one of her favorites, leading off her torch song album of 2000, Both Sides Now, with her version of Black Coffee.

What is certaibnly true is that there is much more to Lee than just the song Fever!

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1001 Other Albums – 3 – Various Artists – Anthology Of American Folk Music

The Anthology of American Folk Music is a six-album compilation released in 1952 by Folkways Records comprising eighty-four American folk, blues and country music recordings that were originally issued from 1926 to 1933. Experimental film maker Harry Smith compiled the music from his personal collection of 78 rpm records. He had begun collecting these records around 1940 when many Americans considered 78’s almost disposable and his collection grew to around 7000 recordings which he felt should be preserved and curated.

As the rights to the recordings were held by many different record labels, many of whom were still in existence, the 1952 release was, technically, a bootleg and it was not until a re-issue in 1977 that all the rights were obtained by Folkways.

The music on the compilation is generally thought to have been enormously influential on the folk & blues revival of the 1950s and 1960s, and brought the works of Blind Lemon Jefferson, Mississippi John Hurt, Dick Justice and many others to the attention of musicians such as Bob Dylan and Joan Baez. The “Harry Smith Anthology,” as some call it, was the bible of folk music during the late 1950s and early 1960s Greenwich Village folk scene.

Moving forward from there, all the artists influenced by Dylan etc. and the artists they subsequently influenced can be traced back to some of the songs in this collection, which is one of the reasons they are so important. They are also offer an alternative snapshot of a place and time where history was usually written from a white perspective.

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1001 OTHER ALBUMS – 2 – Les Baxter – Ritual Of The Savage

Ritual of the Savage is an album by American composer Les Baxter, released in 1951 often cited as one of the most important exotica albums. The album features lush orchestral arrangements along with tribal rhythms and offered such classics as “Quiet Village”, “Jungle River Boat”, “Love Dance”, and “Stone God.”

Nowadays there may be some who would have issues with the general concept, which is understandable, the world has in many ways changed since 1951, and, unfortunatly in many ways hasn’t

Baxter described the album as a “tone poem of the sound and the struggle of the jungle.”The album’s liner notes requested the listener to imagine themselves transported to a tropical land. “Do the mysteries of native rituals intrigue you…does the haunting beat of savage drums fascinate you? Are you captivated by the forbidden ceremonies of primitive peoples in far-off Africa or deep in the interior of the Belgian Congo?”

One thing you may or may not have noticed relates to 1001 Other Albums – 1 – Yma Sumac – Voice of the Xtabay as Baxter is listed as the composer for Sumac’s album. I didn’t actually notice this myself until 5 minutes ago.

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1001 Other Albums – 1 – Yma Sumac – Voice of the Xtabay

So this is probabaly a rather leftfield choice and a difficult album to kick proceedings off with as parts of it sound rather odd 70 years after it’s release, but odd in a rather brilliant way. Voice of the Xtabay is the first studio album by Peruvian soprano Yma Sumac, released in 1950 by Capitol Records and produced and composed by Les Baxter, along with Moisés Vivanco (whom she later married I believe, then divorced when he sired twins with another partner then remarried and subsequently divorced) and John Rose. Sumac sings magnificently on the album, accompanied by ethnic percussion and musical variations influenced by the music of Peru.

Sumac’s vocal range of 5 octaves (some say 4 1/2) is quite startling at times, particularly when in the high register, the control she has over that voice is amazing as she moves from baritone to whistle register.

The more I listen th this album, and others of hers, the more I like them. I’ve only very recently discovered her work and amd very pleased that I did so.

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Black Pumas – Black Pumas

Over a whatsapp video call, David showed me a new CD he had bought, I nodded politely as though I recognised the band and knew all about them and we moved on to the next one of three. The album was Black Pumas by Black Pumas and I thought little more of it until the very next day I somehow found myself in a record store for the first time in months since the lockdown started. I didn’t really have anything in mind to buy and was browsing around when I stumbled upon a vinyl copy of the album. I bought it, unheard, on a sort of recommendation by David. I think if I had gone to the store with a purpose, looking for something specific, I probably wouldn’t have, but apart from the recommendation it was on a nice splatter vinyl and came with a bonus CD, also it wasn’t particularly expensive.

I’ve played it several times since then and really do rather like it. If you haven’t heard them yet here is their track ‘Colours’ (which I’ve spelt correctly) for you to have a listen to before I go on:

So who are they? They are singer Eric Burton and guitarist/producer Adrian Quesada who got together in 2017 and released their debut album, Black Pumas, on June 21, 2019. They performed at South by Southwest in 2019 and won a best new band trophy at the 2019 Austin Music Awards. On November 20, 2019, they were nominated for a Grammy Award for Best New Artist. That’s quite a start.

Black Pumas performed “Colors” on Jimmy Kimmel Live! following their network TV debut on CBS This Morning along with a taping on season 45 of Austin City Limits. The band’s single “Colors” later reached number one on AAA radio. The single has been streamed over 60 million times across all platforms. Meanwhile, the official live video of “Colors” has been viewed over 25 million times on YouTube. Despite all this, nobody has pointed out that Colours has a U in it.

In their hometown of Austin, Texas, Black Pumas became the first band to sell out four consecutive shows at Stubbs, one of the city’s live venues, and on May 7, 2020, mayor Steve Adler proclaimed the date as Black Pumas Day.

The whole album is consistently good and doesn’t step outside it’s aesthtic with the production staying true troughout to a sort of modern 70’s feel that has been quite popular of late.

This is roughly what the vinyl looks like, not my picture but my copy is pretty similar:

Tracklist

A1Black Moon Rising
A2Colors
A3Know You Better
A4Fire
A5OCT 33
B1Stay Gold
B2Old Man
B3Confines
B4Touch The Sky
B5Sweet Conversations
Bonus CD
CD-1Black Moon Rising
CD-2Colors
CD-3Fire
CD-4Eleanor Rigby

I’ve yet to listen to the bonus CD, I’m not sure if they are demos or live or something else. I just checked, it’s a live session. SO that’s something to look forward to.

33 1/3 Radio – Show 12 – Funk and Soul

At last, what nobody has been waiting for! A new radio show episode!

Manuel Göttsching ‎– Inventions For Electric Guitar

Shortly before Lockdown I saw a copy of ‘Inventions For Electric Guitar’ in my local record store and completely ignored it as, based on the cover, it was probabaly not my thing at all, soI flicked past it and pretty much forgot about it. Then, about a month ago I was reading an article on Krautrock and I realised that he was from Ash Ra Temple, which made me listen to them and then try and find this album on spotify and, to my suprise, it wasn’t there. I did find it on youtube and have put it down below if you would like a listen.

1.“Echo Waves”17:45
2.“Quasarsphere”6:34
3.“Pluralis”21:36

Although it is a solo album and all the instruments (Guitar) are played by Göttsching it was originally subtittled Ash Ra Tempel VI, technically making it the sixth and final album under the Ash Ra Tempel name.

Göttsching started his career in music at a young age, with various Berlin pop and blues bands in the late-1960’s, including the Steeple Chase Bluesband. He was the mainstay of Ash Ra Tempel and Ashra, and also worked with The Cosmic Jokers, and other Kosmische Kuriere projects. Later he established a project together with Michael Hoenig, and on numerous occasions he also played as a guest/collaborator along with Klaus Schulze.

I like repetitive music that I can get lost in, I also like complex music, this album is both, and at times it can get pretty heavy. I can identify with it too as I released a couple of albums of my own that utilised only one guitar and it is difficult to differentiate the tones and sounds when you have only a single instrument. While Manuel was decades before me and is much better at it than I could ever be, I’m going to put a track called ‘Firefly Dance’ from the album ‘Massive’ that was recorded using only one guitar and nothing else.

Verian Thomas – Firefly Dance – From the album ‘Massive’

I get a lot of inspiration from artists like Göttsching and whenever I listen back to tracks I’ve done in the past I get the urge to set all the gear up again and have another go, then something mundane happens, like needing to take the recycling out, and that urge fades as quickly as it arrived, but maybe, one of these days, I will inflict further noise pollution on a world that really already has enough, the only thing I really need, is time.

Nashville Skyline Contemporaries

I played my copy of Nashville Skyline by Bob Dylan at the weekend and it had one of those inner sleeves that advertises other albums, that I like. I knew most of the artists on it, although there were a couple I didn’t know and some I don’t remember listening to ever, even though I knew of them.

Here are the inner sleeves:

I find these really interesting and I do wish that it was still a thing, or more of a thing as it does happen occasionally. It’s a good way to find other music that one might normally overlook. For my own listening pleasure I made a playlist of the artists on the inner sleeve, which you can listen to if you wish, although it is ‘Old Timey’ music.

I would also like to point out how far ahead of his time Dylan was. As far back as 1969 he included a youtube play button on the album cover which is extraordinary foresight.

Record Store Day Picks – 1

Due to the global pandemic RSD 2020 was put on hold and re-designed so that instead of a single day there will be three ‘Drops’ over a period of three months begining in August. From a budgeting perspective this is actually rather advantageous and probabaly good for the stores as well, however, the majority of items will be on the first drop with the next two being mini drops really.

A full list of what is being released is available HERE but I am just going to talk about the records I’m interested in picking up. So, starting with August:

The Amorphous Androgynous – A Monstrous Psychedelic Bubble

This is a project involving The Future Sound of London, who seem to always have something out for RSD recenty, and appear futher down. Not 100% on this one, it depends very much on the price.

Asha Puthli – Asha Puthli

I’ve been listening to this on Spotify and I really liked it so if I see a copy I will give serious consideration to picking it up.

The Cure – Bloodflowers

One to add to my very slowly expanding Cure collection. I think Disintergration was around where I stopped listening to new cure releases as much so anything after that is sort of new to me, which is nice.

Future Sound Of London – Cascade 2020

I already have the original 1993 release but this is a 2020 update, much as they previously did with Yage and My Kingdom.

Gary Numan with The Skaparis Orchestra – When the Sky Came Down (Live at The Bridgewater Hall, Manchester)

I like GN and this seemed interesting, again, price will be the decider.

Gorillaz – D-Sides & G-Sides

So this is 2 albums and I’m on the fence, I suspect they will be £50 for the two, which is probabaly more than I want to pay.

Holger Czukay, Jaki Liebezeit, Jah Wobble – A Full Circle

If I see it and I have money left to spend then I’ll get it.

Ennio Morricone – Peur Sur La Ville OST

RSD Morricone releases have been very overpriced in my view, single albums being in the £38 range ( and then often discounted months later into the mid twenties, where thwy should have been in the first place).

The Turing Test (Soundtrack to an Imaginary Film)

Another movie in my head that now has it’s own soundtrack.

Off Earth (Soundtrack To An Imaginary Film)

I have had an entire movie going around and around in my head today, which is where it should stay as in there it is epic but if I wrote it down it would probably not be. One thing I did do was include, in my head, various bits of soundtrack, snippets from longer songs to help create atmosphere for the scenes appearing in my head. Then I made a playlist of them, which is below.

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