Posts Tagged ‘ required listening ’

required listening: t. rex electric warrior


you know the song “bang a gong (get it on)?”  yeah, you do.  you’ve heard it every time there’s been a trailer for a movie about a 1970’s football or basketball team.  it would be hard not to put said song in said trailer because it sounds like the 70’s.  and if you knew nothing about t. rex and marc bolan, it would be easy to write off t. rex as some sort of gimmicky music from a forgotten era, but that’s not the case.

i bought electric warrior after hearing “jeepster” in tarantino’s movie death proof.  tarantino knows his music.  i figured if we was down with t. rex, then i should be too.  i had low expectations.  i’ve never liked the music of the 70’s or glam rock.  man was i wrong.

electric warrior gets better every time i throw it on the record player or in my car.  it’s full of catchy guitar hooks and trippy lyrics.  there’s a depth to this record – a feel to it – that’s hard to describe.  here’s a good analogy: have you ever had a sip of a stiegl beer on a spring day?  well, it sounds like that beer tastes (if that makes sense).  it’s party music for people that like to wear their sunglasses inside.  normally, i would call those folks assholes, but if t. rex was on, i would call them the coolest people in the room.

still not sold?  check out these jamz and get back to me: “mambo sun,” “cosmic dancer,” “jeepster,” “life’s a gas,” and “the motivator.”  if you don’t feel like you’re flying after listening to those songs, then i can’t help you.  electric warrior is this month’s required listening.  recommended on vinyl.  the ladies will love it.

required listening: the good, the bad and the ugly soundtrack


is there an album that makes you feel more like a badass than this album?  the answer is no.  i had surgery a month ago and was laid up for almost a week.  during my couch stint, i revisited the man with no name trilogy and it made me realize what an unbelievable composer ennio morricone is.

my first exposure to the good, the bad and the ugly was in 8th grade when one of our close family friends let me watch it with him.  he was a couple of years older than me and i thought he was the coolest dude ever i.e. whatever he liked i liked.  i asked for the soundtrack for my birthday and my parents delivered.

you don’t have to have to see the movie to appreciate the film score.  you’ve probably heard most of it in the hipster coffee shop you frequent on weekdays.  you know what i’m talking about.  it’s that music mixed with gunfire, whistling and yodeling that stops and makes you wish you were riding to work on a horse – guns at your side – instead of your toyota prius.  you can’t miss it.  it’s one of a kind and should be in your collection.


required listening

let me start this required listening post by saying i don’t know anything about jazz music.  with that said, there are a few jazz albums music fans must include in their collection like kind of blue, bitches brew, ellinton at newport, and the cover you see above getz / gilberto.  the album kicks off with the well known “girl from ipanema” and moves through 9 more jazz bossa nova tracks that are sure to cool you off during the long, hot days of summer.  when you listen to it for the first time, you’re sure you’ve heard the music before – it’s some of the most recognizable music ever created.  i got into a friend’s car last week and knew we were listening to getz / gilberto in about 5 seconds.  it was also the first jazz album to win the grammy for album of the year in 1965.  if you’re looking for a change of pace to all that indie rock you listen to on a regular basis, then go buy this album.  if you don’t like, i’ll consider reimbursing you for it.  

the team behind getz / gilberto.  stan getz is the first one on the left and joao gilberto is standing next to his wife astrud gilberto who sings vocals on “girl from ipanema.”


required listening

last night while my wife was at some women’s wine tasting event, i got the guitar out for the first time in months.  i found myself moving through most of the bob marley tunes i can play from memory – “no woman, no cry”, “trenchtown rock”, “i shot the sheriff”, and a few others.  it got me thinking about the way bob marley is viewed in popular music.  to a music snob like myself when i hear someone listening to legend i think what a tool.  terrible attitude to have, but i can’t help it.  greatest hits people kill me.  i like to hear the song how it was intended to sound in the place the producer put it on the album. 

natty dread is my favorite marley album.  it has the studio version of “no woman, no cry” as well as “them belly full”, “lively up yourself”, “bend down low”, and “talkin’ blues.”  it’s a significant album in marley’s discography because it’s the first one he released under “bob marley & the wailers” as opposed to “the wailers.”  if all you have in your collection is legend, spend the time and money on natty, catch a fire, burnin’, and kaya – you don’t have to be a huge marley fan to understand the genius in those albums.

required listening

i couldn’t live without astral weeks. it’s one of those albums you listen to and can’t explain what is it about it that grabs your attention.  is it the mood?  is it the songwriting?  is it the voice?  it’s slow and undefinable.  it’s vulnerable.  when it came out in 1968, the critics adored it, but the public ignored it.  40+ years later you can find it on the list of best albums ever made (it sits #19 on rolling stones list).  i find myself pulling it out at the beginning of spring and listening to it the whole way through several times.  “sweet thing” is and will always be my favorite van morrison song.  a close second is “cyprus avenue.”  if you’re looking for the perfect transition music from winter to spring, throw on astral weeks, fix yourself a nice drink, and get lost.

required listening

picking a rolling stones album for required listening isn’t too much of a challenge, but people don’t listen to albums any more.  it’s annoying.  you miss out on so much when you don’t hear the songs in their natural environment.  they were put on the album in an exact order for an exact reason.

let it bleed kicks off with what has to be martin scorcese’s favorite stones tune “gimme shelter” (it’s in almost all of his films or at least the trailers for those films).  richards says he began writing it on what was a stormy day, but the mood of the tune reflected what was happening in the world in 1969 i.e. the vietnam war.  the next track is a brilliant cover of robert johnson’s “love in vain.”  it’s one of my favorite blues songs of all time.  “well, it’s hard to tell, it’s hard to tell when all your love’s in vain.”  what a line.  the third song, “country honk,” is the country version of “honky tonk women.”  i actually prefer this version to any other versions.  it sounds like they recorded it in a bar after several drinks (and whatever else).  the bass line on the fourth track, “live with me,” is so tight it makes you want to get up and move.

i planned on going track by track, but as i read over what i’ve written i see some redundancies in naming the other 5 songs on let it bleed.  it’s worth nothing that the closer is one everyone knows: “you can’t always get what you want.”  ever since i’ve heard that song i’ve tried to apply it to all aspects of my life.  no one always gets what he or she wants, but “if you try sometimes, you get what you need.”  truer words were never spoken.

required listening

the strokes are releasing a new album on march 22.  i’m hoping it’s a return to form rather than building on the first impressions of earth album.  impressions had some decent material on it, but it was nothing like room on fire and is this it.  i remember first hearing about the strokes from a friend’s older brother.  he had heard some of the singles and had us believing we were in for something special.  the truth is we were. 

is this it was supposed to come out at the end of august in 2001, but was delayed a month because of the smell-the-glove-esque (spinal tap reference) cover above.  if i remember correctly, my friend erk’s older brother purchased the uk version and let erk burn it.  he offered to give me a copy, but i declined.  i didn’t want it to ruin the experience of purchasing the cd from the record store and popping it in my stereo.  back then i liked thumbing through the liner notes and reading the song titles on the back of the cd.  you can’t do that with a burned copy.

they ended up changing the release date to september 25, 2001.  i had it circled on my calendar.  i was going to go to borders on the 24th and buy it right at midnight.  the new ryan adams album gold was scheduled to come out on the same day.  when i showed up at borders and asked for both records, the guy behind the counter explained to me that they were instructed to return their shipment of is this it because of the song “new york city cops.”  this was two weeks after september 11 and the label was concerned about the negative backlash from a song trashing new york city cops.  the borders clerk also told me that he snagged a couple of albums from the shipment and sold them to 3 people before me.  thanks for letting me know, buddy.

is this it finally made it to my stereo on october 9, 2001 and hasn’t left since.  it paved the way for the “the” bands and return of 3 minute rock songs.  it was the first time in a while rock and roll had balls.  the album is so short and perfect, you want to listen to it again and again.  it made me want to get a pair of chuck taylors and a leather jacket and get trashed.  i listened to it on the way to work this morning and had those same feelings.  i might not head down to borders at midnight on march 22, but you can be damn sure i’ll be downloading it on my way to work that morning.

required listening

my dad grew up one street over from graceland in memphis, so when i was a kid i would hear all these unbelievable elvis stories.  my dad said he would try to play football with elvis and his buddies and they wouldn’t let him because he was younger and smaller.  he remembers when elvis came back from the war and drove his motorcycle up and down his street (usually with a babe on the back).  my grandmother was a dental hygienist for a couple of years and cleaned his teeth once or twice.  he would come in after hours and then invite everyone bowling.  she said he was extremely nice.  hearing all these stories peaked an early interest in elvis.  i can’t remember what album i started with but “heartbreak hotel” and “blue suede shoes” were the songs i knew the best.  as i grew older and began really paying attention to music, i discovered that elvis didn’t write any of his own material and it pissed me off.  how could you be the king of rock and roll and not write your own tunes?  i thought he was a scam.  it wasn’t until the remastered sun sessions came out that i gave elvis another shot.  i started there and moved to elvis presley elvis presley.  holy shit.  this is what i had been waiting for.  i read all these biographies on the beatles and the stones and they talk about how much of an influence elvis was for them.  i get it now.  elvis presley elvis presley is the first accessible rock and roll record.  until then rhythm and blues was housed on the other side of the tracks.  elvis brought it to the masses.  check out his version of “i got a woman”, “just because” and “blue moon.”  long live the king.

required listening

blood on the tracks is as close to perfect as you can get.  “you’re an idiot babe / it’s a wonder that you still know how to breath,” dylan sings on “idiot wind.”  it’s rumored dylan wrote these songs about his ex-wife.  jakob dylan went as far to say that blood was his parents talking to each other.   listening to the album you can tell dylan was pretty shaken up by his separation from sara.  some call blood on the tracks the quintessential “break-up” record.  i won’t disagree.  get it, listen to it, and repeat.

side note: i saw dylan do a version of “meet me in the morning” with jack white at the ryman a couple of years back.  it was amazing.  i took my father to the show.  definitely one of my favorite memories.

required listening

everyone has a favorite beatles album.  help is not mine.  picking a favorite would be like picking a favorite kid.  you can’t.  i had an extremely lucky thing happen to me in 8th grade.  my father had been to see a friend in the music business and he gave him a box of cds.  it just so happened the beatles black box was in there – which included all the beatles studio albums including past masters vol 1 and 2.  i was in heaven.  the only two albums i owned at this point were rubber soul and sgt. peppers.  i’ll admit it was a bit overwhelming at first.  i started listening to everything post rubber soul and familiarized myself with the trippy beatles.  i ignored the first 5 albums, because they seemed too safe.  later in high school, i got a copy of some acoustic guitar magazine that had the chords to “you’ve got to hide your love away” in it.  i pulled out help and listened to the song.  how had i not heard this before?  it didn’t sound like the early beatles.  it sounded like something dylan would write.  i explored the rest of the album.  you could tell they were maturing – reaching for something bigger than what they had done on previous records.  their early sound remained true on “ticket to ride”, “another girl” and the covers “dizzy miss lizzy” and ” act naturally,” but the songwriting was going elsewhere.  some might argue that “yesterday” is the best song the beatles ever wrote.  it’s definitely one of my favorites, but the two songs on help that define that record for me are “tell me what you see” and the mixed tape go-to “i’ve just seen a face.”  in my opinion no one has ever captured that love-at-first-sight moment better than “i’ve just seen a face” and no one ever will.  you just can’t compete with the beatles.