I went snowboarding this weekend--for the first time in over a decade.  We went to Hunter Mountain, just outside of Woodstock, NY.  Let's just say that I'm grunting each time I stand up now--and am lucky that I didn't seriously hurt anything...With two weeks left until my medical insurance kicks in, perhaps snowboarding wasn't the smartest move. We got back last night, returning to a familiar altitude.  I mentioned last week that I'm done with Winter, and am anxiously awaiting Spring.  Wouldn't you know it, a single tree blooms in Van Vorst Park here in Jersey City, and already my Spring allergies are kicking in.  Such is life--there's always something to complain about, and about a million other things to be grateful for that go unmentioned.

Speaking of things I'm grateful for, my new album Held Momentarily (coming sometime this Summer or early Fall) is really starting to take shape. I have finished recording several songs, and have hired someone to start mixing. Early mixes of Homesick are sounding so good. I can't wait to share it with you all. I will be starting a Pledge Music campaign (as soon as I force myself to record the requisite video intro).

A quick aside--while in Hunter, NY, we are breakfast at a place in Tannersville (just outside of Hunter) called Maggie's Krooked Cafe.  There were postings citing the place as having one of the top 10 pancakes in the whole US.  They have oats, sunflower seeds, and flax seeds.  This didn't immediately sound all that noteworthy--but I figured I should see what makes a pancake so heralded.

It was seriously the best pancake I've ever eaten--and Maggie was a truly kind owner and cook.  If you're ever in the area, look her up.  It might be a little pricey a breakfast (comparatively)...but it's worth every penny.

Neil Young Harvest

82: Neil Young -- Harvest (1972)

I have listened to Neil Young's "After The Gold Rush" but never this record.

I had heard two songs from this collection before, Old Man and Heart Of Gold.  After several more listens this week, I would say those are two of the best songs ever written.  The production is clean and timeless.

That high-hat line in Heart Of Gold, during the verses, is proof of what a little ingenuity in technique can do to take a song to an entirely different place.  It's not a difficult rhythm at all--it's simple, but unexpected and perfect.

I read the 33 1/3 volume for this album last week as well, written by Sam Inglis.  From a series that I love quite a bit, this is one I've enjoyed most so far.  It's just a perfect amount of interesting back story to the making of this record, and Neil Young's meandering career via hindsight.

One theme that really captured my imagination was Neil Young's approach to recording.  Early in his career, he was meticulous about recording every song perfectly--this was taken to extremes by Stephen Stills during his time with CSN&Y.  With this, and Neil's trouble with his backing band getting into drugs, he started wanting to capture the urgency of a song as it is just born, even if the result was something less "perfect".

At that time, many Rock & Roll acts (including Bob Dylan for Blonde On Blonde) were taking advantage of the session musicians in Nashville.  Nashville session players were known for their ability to read a song's chart a few times through and nail a pitch perfect recording.  So this approach lent itself beautifully to his new recording goals.

Overall, I enjoyed the album very much.  I don't love the orchestrated songs as much (A Man Needs A Maid or There's A World).  They don't seem to match with the approach described above.  But the live recording of The Needle And The Damage Done is so, so good.  Tragic, but so good.

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The Clash

81: The Clash -- The Clash (1977)

Where do I begin with this one?  Some of the things I love most about music--intricate melodies, lush chord changes, beautiful singing--are all decidedly not present here.

I don't like Punk music.  I'm pretty sure Punk music doesn't like me either.  I'm OK--you're OK.

But, I listened my avowed three times.

It was clear pretty early on that The Clash is leagues above any Punk I'd heard before.  The guitar tone is so cool, fun and inviting.  The drums vacillate between sneering attacks and surprising grooves.

In spite of myself, I found myself singing along to Police and Thieves as I vacuumed my apartment.  That "Oh Yeah" refrain is beyond addictive.  I also liked Garageland, especially the verse:

I don't wanna hear about what the rich are doing? I don't wanna go to where, where the rich are going? They think they're so clever, they think they're so right But the truth is only known by Wesley Snipes (okay, he says guttersnipes)

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Verdict

Again, I'm glad I listened to both of these records.  I was surprised to find that I didn't hate The Clash as much as I thought I did--even though I'd never really given them a serious listen before.

Conversely, I really thought I would be blown away by Harvest.  While I really loved a few of the tracks, the rest of the album left me cold and wanting more.

Up Next

80: John Lennon -- Imagine (1971)

79: Led Zeppelin -- II (1969)

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