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Nico – Chelsea Girl

4 06 2010

Listened: Thursday June 3

Nico is an acquired taste. Someone I was sharing The Velvet Underground and Nico with said he was bothered by her voice too much to appreciate the album – he said it reminded him of a drag queen singing(!!). I was bummed out that someone didn’t like an album I happen to love, but I had to laugh.

Chelsea Girl is her first release, which heavily involved members of the Velvet Underground both lyrically and musically. Jackson Browne also wrote several songs on this album and participated musically as well. I love her version of Bob Dylan’s I’ll Keep It With Mine – a song he gave to her and never officially released himself.

It’s kind of a bizarro-world folk album. Which works with the Velvet Underground connection, since they were the bizarro-world rock band of their time.

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Ravi Shankar – Chants of India

4 06 2010

Listened: Thursday June 3

I have no idea why I decided to include Chants of India in the project – it is a beautiful album, but it’s the antithesis of work music. My mind and body wanted to be doing yoga instead of working.





Bob Marley – Catch a Fire

4 06 2010

Listened: Wednesday June 2

Until I bought Catch A Fire, similar to Pink Floyd, I dismissed Bob Marley as music for stoners. Which, like Pink Floyd, is not entirely inaccurate. All the songs they used to play on Live 105 when I was in high school were the feel-good stoner party anthems you find on the “best of”.

This album totally turned me around. I bought it used, quite cheaply, because I remembered hearing tape of vintage Paul and Linda McCartney saying that they loved it, and though I assume they were probably also stoned at the time, I respect their musical taste. The deluxe version includes 2 versions of the album – the longer, less produced, unreleased Jamaican version and the commercially released version. Both have their merits.

Critically, it showed me the best Marley songs are the challenging unpleasant songs about struggle and the travesties of history. Concrete Jungle is my favorite Marley song – a gripping picture of someone living in gritty circumstances but striving and knowing there is something better out there for him. The driving bass and guitar work only increases the appeal. Oh, the love and party songs are here – Baby We’ve Got a Date, Stir it Up, Kinky Reggae – which are catchy and fun, but then I’ll get pulled into the absolute spookiness of a song like Midnight Ravers (“I see 10,000 chariots, and they’re coming without horses. The riders they cover their face, so you could not make them out in smokey place”). Is this fantasy? History? The present? I don’t know, but it conjures up a great image.

I’ve gone on to collect other Bob albums as they’ve been remastered in deluxe versions, and they’ve only deepened my opinion that the stoner fetishism image really doesn’t give Bob the credit he’s due musically and especially lyrically.





Cat Stevens – Cat Stevens

4 06 2010

Listened: Wednesday June 2

OK, this is where I start cheating. I don’t actually have a real Cat Stevens best-of album. I’ve made my own out of songs I downloaded over the years. It includes: The Wind, Trouble, If You Want To Sing Out, Don’t Be Shy, Peace Train, Another Saturday Night, I Think I See The Light, I Wish, The First Cut Is The Deepest, Here Comes My Baby, Where Do The Children Play, Wild World, Miles From Nowhere, Tea For The Tillerman, and Morning Has Broken.

My love affair with Cat Stevens’ music began in high school when we watched Harold and Maude in AS English class. There are 7 or 8 of his songs in that movie and it just wouldn’t be the same without them (though it’s also a great movie on its own merits). The songs are so important, Cat is almost a character in the movie.

I think he’s one of the most underrated pop songwriters ever. No one realizes  he’s the one who wrote First Cut or Wild World! I haven’t heard any of his new music since he’s come back to releasing albums again, as Yusuf Islam. I should check them out and see if he’s still got it.





Carbon/Silicon – The Carbon Bubble

4 06 2010

Listened: Wednesday June 2

The Carbon Bubble was a free download. If you aren’t familiar, Carbon/Silicon is Mick Jones and Tony James, two grizzled, seasoned punk rockers. The music is old school punk in tone. The lyrics are extremely liberal and political, which can sometimes be amusing (Don’t Taser Me Bro), but I think in 10 years people won’t get many of the references.