I started a new job this week, and ended the week with a nice head cold. But I have dedicated myself to this project for the year, and a deadline is a deadline. I've now made it five weeks in, that's 10 records down--90 to go. I can't help but feel like I should have done this year's ago, but it's never to late to fill in the blanks.
Buddy Holly -- Lives (20 Greatest Hits)
I watched a great documentary about the life of Buddy Holly that you can watch on youtube in 10 segments here. Apparently the movie The Buddy Holly Story, starring Gary Busey was full of inaccuracies, so Sir Paul McCartney decided to put this documentary together called The Real Buddy Holly Story. It is tragic learning that he died at 22, having only released 3 albums during his lifetime. Despite what was officially released during his lifetime, he recorded many songs during his young and prolific life.
I've realized something about myself during this process of listening through these great records, and it has happened again with this record. The first time I listened to it, I didn't get it at all. I found myself questioning why this was even on the list. The second time through, I was finding parts that I admired, but was still somewhat skeptical. The third listen changed it, and somehow I finally understood. Listening back a final time to pick out favorite tracks showed me that I loved something about almost every single song here.
If I had to pick an absolute favorite, it would be Everyday. It's so simple and modern--perfection. Next: that beat and those background vocals on Not Fade Away--not to mention Buddy's trademark hiccupy vocal delivery. Oh Boy! I love the background vocals in Maybe Baby, especially around 1:10 (dot-ditta-dot-ditta, etc.). After getting past the shocking contrast to the more sparse arrangements of most of the songs here, I really like the more orchestrated and fizzy arrangements on songs like It Doesn't Matter Any More , Raining In My Heart, or True Love Ways. Buddy didn't write all of his songs here (he co-wrote 8 of them, and is listed as sole writer for 2). He is credited as having been one of the first rock singer-songwriters.
Elton John -- Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
I also watched the Classic Album documentary for Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. I enjoy that series, and this particular episode helped give me some context.
I hate to admit it, but I'm not a huge fan of Elton John. To me, he's an odd bird. He's an example of an artist who becomes a caricature of themselves in their later career--which is the part of his career that I'm more familiar with. So, when I saw that this album was coming up this week, I wasn't stoked.
He and his band lived at a chateau in France as they recorded the 17 tracks of this double-album. The lyrics for this album were written in two and a half weeks, by Bernie Taupin. Elton wrote the music in roughly 3 days. That is amazing by any standard.
Everyone has heard Candle In The Wind, right? It's hard to listen to it with fresh ears, but it is a beautiful song (even if I would be fine to never hear it again). Bennie And The Jets is an epic groove--I especially love the overdubbed and elongated Ssssss of "Jets". Goodbye Yellow Brick Road is a wonderful track. I've Seen That Movie Too is probably my favorite off this record. I like Sweet Painted Lady, especially the accordions, the rolling waves, and the sea gulls. I love the groove of All The Girls Love Alice and the way the chorus breaks down, with those fuzzy synth lines, and that trippy vamp (maybe my second favorite song here).
I started the week with no awareness of Buddy Holly's music--and ended in love with many of his songs. I will definitely be listening again.
As for Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, the songwriting and musicianship is astounding. it's not that I'm calling into question his talent--it's just that I can't think of a mood that I would ever be in where I would think to myself, "You know what record would perfectly compliment this moment?? Goodbye Yellow Brick Road". Not for me. I really like a handful of the songs, but not the album as a whole. This record does prove Elton was a far more versatile artist than I ever thought he was, based on my exposure on to his later songs (i.e. Can You Feel The Love Tonight), so I'm glad I took the time to listen 3 times through.
Maybe I'm just feeling some fatigue from all of the double-albums already on this list so far...Thankfully, next week I get to listen to 2 shorter records--both of which I'm already familiar with (and [spoiler alert] a fan of).