I used to think that there was nothing to be gained by looking back at older records. I thought that everything to learn was happening now, in the records coming out this Tuesday, or next Tuesday...I am definitely seeing the hubris and error in that line of thought.
72: Curtis Mayfield -- Super Fly (1972)
I had never heard this record before this week. I remember buying Curtis Mayfield's "New World Order" when it came out in 1996--and not really digging it. So, I left my exploration there--sadly. Why anyone would start with an icon's later work and not at all look at the height of their achievements, I can't explain.
I'm figuring this out as I go, I guess.
This is a perfect example of what a great record is. It reminds me of last week's After The Gold Rush--not at all sonically--but more so because the sum of its parts is greater than any individual track. I wouldn't really cite any specific track as THE track to pull out and throw on repeat. Here, it's more about that inimitable vibe and highly orchestrated groove. And it's consistently great throughout. I know I've called out other records for their instrumentals, but here they work and compliment.
Unlike most records on this list, I liked this album right off. That voice--how could you resist that smoothness?
While I listened to it more than the requisite three times through, I still feel like there is so much more to explore--but the week is up and there are more great records to move on to.
I'll be back. Often, I presume.
71: Paul Simon -- Graceland (1986)
I loved Bridge Over Troubled Water for a time during college. It was on repeat for weeks. I mean, the guys who gave us "Mrs. Robinson". Yeah, I'm in.
However, while other singer-songwriters hold Paul Simon as one of their legends, I never went any deeper with him. I didn't follow his thread into his solo work.
So, as I'm wont to do, I decided to watch the "Classic Album" episode of the making of Graceland, in an effort to get up to speed. The series is great--and this particular one is a stand-out of those I've seen so far. Mostly because it delves into his creative process for making this record.
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Paul received a tape from a colleague, of south African music that inspired him to travel there to jam with several different musicians. He took the recordings home and wrote songs based on those sessions. He then brought the musicians back once the songs were in place to record, and collaborate further on the finished record.
In all...I enjoy the record very much, am very impressed by the writing especially. Graceland is a track that stands out for me. Diamonds On The Soles Of Her Shoes is a classic (awa-awa). You Can Call Me Al is OK, I guess. A lot of fun, and incredibly dated.
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I enjoyed both records this week. I definitely will come back to Super Fly when I can. I'm glad I dove into Graceland, and from that may explore more of Paul Simon's solo work. Any suggestions on where to go from here?
70: Billy Joel -- The Stranger (1977) 69: Led Zeppelin -- Led Zeppelin IV (1971)