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Month: May 2020

Album #10 of 10 albums which marked my life

Album #10: Ivo Papasov and Yuri Yunakov Together Again

I was introduced to Bulgarian Wedding music by Eddie Current through an article in Bass Player magazine when I was in my late 20s. The fusion between jazz and folk and progressive rock was bewildering and enticing at the same time. Even Frank Zappa thought the sound was ‘way out there.’ The musicianship is phenomenal. Radomirska Kopanica will forever be the song that I’m unable to clap to for the life of me. It switches time signatures routinely within the same bar: 

I was lucky to see Yuri Yunakov perform at the Balkan community center in San Francisco in like 1999 and I can attest there were no tricks or effects used. He really does play that fast and energetically… for hours nonstop.

There you have it, this was my list, and this is my life so far. I hope to discover many more gems that I will cherish as new moments, introduced by good friends.

This was in response to a challenge from Alain Cournoyer of the Homebuddies to post 10 albums which marked my life in ten days. 

I can’t wait to see and hear the list from Dan Vuletich. And Eddie Current, if you’re game, I’d like to have my ears tickled by your tunes as well.

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Album #9 of 10 albums which marked my life

Album #9: Joni Mitchell Blue 1971

What? A GIRL on this list? I was surprised as well, in my mid-20s, when a male friend turned me on to her. He said her early albums were the equal of her all-male counterparts. I was incredulous. How could that be? But as I listened, I agreed with him. I couldn’t believe my ears. Here was musicianship, and songwriting, and complex melodies that were rich and intelligent and generous. And she sang with such feeling, and soul, in a way I’d never heard before. Blue is simply a masterpiece, and was my introduction to Joni Mitchell. California is an anthem for all those who come from there, and those lost souls who find a home there, like this Canadian singer/songwriter/musician. See, Alain Cournoyer, I managed to get two Canadian groups on my list!

This is in response to a challenge from Alain Cournoyer of the Homebuddies to post 10 albums which marked my life in ten days. 

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Album #8 of 10 albums which marked my life

This is in response to a challenge from Alain Cournoyer of the Homebuddies to post 10 albums which marked my life in ten days. 

I challenge Dan Vuletich, not only because he has a vast knowledge of music, and a degree to prove it, but today’s his birthday. Also, it was his brother, Tom, who introduced me to jazz, pointing me to the all-time great recordings.

Album #8: Dave Brubeck Quartet Time Out 1959

I grew up thinking nothing good ever came out of my hometown. It was a sprawling suburb bereft of charm.

In my early 20s I was introduced to jazz and instantly fell in love with this album. I’d never heard rhythms like that before. It was like a five Legged horse going by and I could actually get on top and ride this complicated beast. And Paul Desmond‘s sweet saxophone making the whole thing melodic and magical. It was something like a decade later before I found out the Dave Brubeck grew up in Concord California just like me.

The damn town should have made a statue of the man, named streets after him, or the Concord Pavillion the ‘Brubeck Pavillion.’ Ungrateful bastards!

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Album #7 of 10 albums which marked my life

Album #7: Rush Moving Pictures 1981

Neil Peart was everyone’s favorite drummer, so he couldn’t be mine. But boy did I admire that guy. He could hit it as hard and fast as anyone. But what set him apart was how crisp his fills were. Here was a perfectionist who practiced endlessly to get it just right. He put so much emphasis on sound, from his set, to tuning, to mic’ing, to selecting which drum or cymbal he’d hit at a given moment. His set was so big, not to show off, but to accommodate all those sounds. He also made room for his band mates, only going off when there was space for it, or when the song called for it. 

I tried to emulate him, and could even play along passably to all songs on his album. But I never had his rigor, his desire to improve his technique. Few did. Now that he’s passed, in January of this year, I’m so thankful for all the effort he put into his recordings, that are pure perfection for all time.

This is in response to a challenge from Alain Cournoyer of the Homebuddies to post 10 albums which marked my life in ten days.

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Album #6 of 10 albums which marked my life

Album #6: The Clash, Sandinista 1980

I was late to the punk scene. Most likely because I was too young, and a freckle-faced kid who believed in the inherent goodness of the world. Why spoil it with a bunch of self-absorbed whining and screaming and lack of musical talent? (insert picture of Sex Pistols here)

Then came the Clash. They were some guys who could really play with fantastic thoughtful lyrics, and melodies in tune. They definitely had something to say, and an original way of getting it across. And how generous with their fans- a TRIPLE album for the regular price! Sandinista wasn’t their album I preferred, nor very punk, as they added a lot of electronic sounds. But I was blown away by the sheer volume of work they put into it. In five years of existence, they produced so much that was so good, and still sounds modern and full of life to me today. Like the Clash, I’m going to go overtime with this entry…

I only started getting into The Clash when I entered high school in 1983, just after they had broken up. I thought, High School!, finally, I’m with the big boys, and I’m going to drive to concerts, and have wild experiences with girls and drugs and be a part of the rock scene I’d heard so much about. Little did I know that 1983 was rock’s last gasp.

By the time I got to high school, rock’n’roll was dead. All the super-groups were gone. Led Zeppelin had broken up in 1980. The Who announced their ‘last’ tour in 1982. The Rolling Stones did their ‘farewell’ tour the same year. The Police broke up after their 1983 platinum album ’Synchronicity.’ There were no more ‘Days on the Green’ with multiple fantastic groups playing in a stadium.

Who replaced the rock legends? Haircut groups from LA, like RATT. Synthesizer duos like the Eurythmics. Bubble-gum pop like Huey Lewis and the News. The party was over by the time I got there. I could still smell the smoke and stale beer and the sweat of the artists, but that scene was gone.

What replaced the societal and cultural phenomenon of shared feeling, collective experience with throngs of people listening, dancing and rubbing up against one another? MTV. We WATCHED music. Alone. Music must be pretty. Nearly all the rock greats got into music because they were UGLY, and that was their only way to score. If you were already attractive, what did you need rock’n’roll for?

Think about it, did anybody from rock’s glory days put out a good, original rock album after 1983? Elvis Costello? No. Eric Clapton? No. Yes? My first concert was on their 90125 tour, (which came out when? you guessed it, 1983) and however much I adore the group, they really should have broken up before. Pink Floyd? Nope. Neil Young? You could argue that Ragged Glory and Freedom DO rock, but they’re just derivative of his earlier stuff, and trying too much to cater to the grunge fad. U2? You may have me there, as their output from ’87 to ’91 was quite good, but I could also argue that they no longer rocked, but did pop ballads, kind of like Chicago after Terry Kath died.

I call the good songs which came after 1983 ‘Zombie Rock.’ It can still do some damage, but it’s no longer alive. Examples are fleeting and far-between: The Pixies, Nirvana, Lenny Kravitz, White Stripes, The Breeders, Cranberries, Arctic Monkeys, Green Day, Offspring, Red Hot Chili Peppers. All good for a very, very short while. None capable of flag-bearing and inspiring a movement, or even getting a crowd going. Have you or anyone you know seen any of these groups in concert? 

You could literally take all the supposed ‘good’ rock songs from 1984 until now, and you still wouldn’t have as many as the absolute classics which were produced in 1966 alone. Today, we can enjoy rock, or play it, or even emulate it, but like classical, and jazz and blues before it, rock is no longer a living art form. And sadly, gut-wrenchingly, NOTHING has taken its place.

This was in response to a challenge from Alain Cournoyer of the Homebuddies to post 10 albums which marked my life in ten days. 

Rather than a greatest hits list, I chose to make this list personal. There are even albums here that I HATE. But they contributed to making me who I am. So, here goes…

I challenge Dan Vuletich

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Album #5 of 10 albums which marked my life

Album #5: Jethro Tull living in the past 1972

Still my favorite band, and Clive Bunker my favorite drummer. Listen to him go wild on Dharma for one. It always seems like he’s about to go off the rails. Despite missing the skins on some hits, he stays on track, and keeps rising throughout his solo. What energy! My kinda guy. 

Discovered the group in high school, and this album about a dozen years after it came out. Since it’s a mix of a ‘greatest hits’ plus live album, plus a couple originals, it was a fantastic primer for me to acquire a taste for the group. I went on to buy 15 of their albums, 10 of which I really liked, and continue to listen to to this day.

This is in response to a challenge from Alain Cournoyer of the Homebuddies to post 10 albums which marked my life in ten days. 

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Album #4 of 10 albums which marked my life

Album #4: Foreigner 4, 1981

The drumbeat on Urgent was so simple I thought I might be able to play it.

So my 12-year-old self got my dusty drum set out of the closet, where it had been put away since the Christmas I turned seven years old. I could always control my hands on the sticks pretty well and every once in a while keep the beat one with my right foot at the appropriate moment. But I could never get the hang of the left foot high hat while the three other limbs were doing their thing. I ran the cassette of Urgent over and over again while I played along.

After what seemed like an hour it all clicked, I was finally a drummer who could play with four limbs at once! 

I took out the cassette and smashed it with my foot. I always hated Foreigner.

This is in response to a challenge from Alain Cournoyer of the Homebuddies to post 10 albums which marked my life in ten days.

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Album #3 of 10 which marked my life

Album #3: The Police Zenyatta Mondatta 1980

This was blasted into my ears from the right rear speaker of my Mom’s cherry red BMW 320i on countless drives down highway 5 on family trips from SF to LA. Never grows old. Stewart Copeland was always one of my favorites, and I’m continually surprised at the lack of recognition for his playing. His ultra-tightened snare drum sound on this album is simply the best.

This is in response to a challenge from Alain Cournoyer of the Homebuddies to post 10 albums which marked my life in ten days. 

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Album #2 of 10 which marked my life

Album #2: The Vapors Turning Japanese, 1980

The first album I ever owned which I played loudly on my new set from RadioShack. Although I was not a big fan of New Wave music, at least these guys played real instruments and chose a unique theme that was fun to go crazy on. Everybody at the time thought Japan was going to take over the world with their fuel-efficient cars and small electronics. Today everybody thinks China is going to take over. Why hasn’t anyone made a hit song about that? I persist in believing that the world will continue to find value in creativity, however silly.

This is in response to a challenge from Alain Cournoyer of the Homebuddies to post 10 albums which marked my life in ten days.

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Album #1 of 10 which marked my life

I received a challenge from Alain Cournoyer of the Homebuddies to post 10 albums which marked my life in ten days. 

Rather than a greatest hits list, I chose to make this list personal. There are even albums here that I HATE. But they contributed to making me who I am. So, here goes…

Album #1: Supertramp Even In The Quietest Moments 1977

I grew up listening to my parents’ music, which I really liked, and the group I liked the best in my formative years was Supertramp. When Roger Hodgson sang, it seemed as if the words were coming out from my own lungs. It helped that we sang in the same high pitch at the time. Their songs of yearning, coming of age, questioning, and unashamed positivity really captured my pre-teen mood. They are still my feel-good treat today.

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