Ahh, the end of another week? This one snuck up on me. During the past weekend, I worked quite a bit on my new album Held Momentarily. I realized that I've completed all production for the remaining 5 tracks--leaving only vocals to be recorded and background vocals to be arranged and recorded. For the first time, I felt that completion was within sight. Then I sat down last night, and started working on a new version of "Now That The Curtain's Drawn"--a song that I hadn't planned on releasing. The track is coming along, and just might be on the album now...We'll see.
Also, I was asked to play a few songs at a benefit at Irvington Town Hall Theater on Saturday, November 1st. I will post more details as they become available. Please think about coming.
54: Ray Charles -- Birth Of Soul (The Complete Atlantic Rhythm & Blues Recordings 1952-1959) (1991)
What are two of my least favorite things I've experienced working my way down this list?
I'm glad you asked.
First, compilations (rather than proper albums).
Second, run-times in excess of two and a half hours. This entry is both.
I love Ray Charles' version of Georgia On My Mind, so I was hoping to fall in love with more of his work. There is some good stuff here but, to be fair, it is impossible (as I've noted before) to truly absorb an album so lengthy. While I played it more than 3 times through, I have to admit several times it faded into the background.
Some of the highlights for me were:
Losing Hand, I love the sound of the piano here and those quick guitar slides. I also love his bluesy piano playing and plaintive singing on Sinner's Prayer. I love Lonely Avenue--and especially the brassy female background singer's tone (couldn't find her name). You can hear her on I Want To Know too--such a unique timbre and energy.
I recently "discovered" Harry Nilsson, from the documentary available on Netflix called Who Is Harry Nilsson And Why Is Everyone Talkin' About Him? On his album, Nilsson Schmilsson (a new favorite) he does a cover of Early In The Morning. Well, Ray Charles does a great version of it too here.
53: The Beatles -- Meet The Beatles (1964)
This album is the latest on the list that is not available on Spotify. Sorry, no embedded playlist this time.
I can't believe it has taken this long on our list to get to a proper Beatles album (not counting John Lennon's Imagine). I have to say that I reached a point during this year's Grammy Awards, where I felt we as a music-loving community have been doting on The Beatles just about enough. Year after year, a new Beatles tribute.
But here's my dirty little secret--the only Beatles albums I had heard before this week were The White Album (which I love) and Abbey Road (which I enjoyed parts of, buying it only after seeing it featured during an, ahem, Grammy's tribute). I had never heard this record, yet still I preordained that I would hate it--because it represented their "boy band" period. It's funny how we adopt prejudices before even experiencing a thing for ourselves.
I could not have been more wrong.
This album is wonderful from front-to-back. I loved every song on this record--which may be the first time I can say that on this list. The songwriting is timeless and awe-inspiring in its simplicity. The energy of the recordings is palpable. I love how you can hear lyric flubs here and there. Capturing the energy was more important than perfection.
I had never heard This Boy. It is one of my favorite songs here.
[iframe width="420" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/GzZdi2z7lHM" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen]
Another song I loved was Til There Was You--the only cover on the record. This video cracks me up. What is Paul doing with his head??
[iframe width="420" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/jTGuP_hpvWo" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen]
I am glad I listened to the Ray Charles collection, though I don't know if anything really grabbed me in a way where I would seek it out again. I am anxiously awaiting the other Beatles albums on the list--especially the ones I haven't heard yet. I can't wait to see their artistic development over their short course together. Listening to Meet The Beatles, a spark came alight where once there was only darkness.
52: Al Green -- Greatest Hits (1975) 51: Simon & Garfunkel -- Bridge Over Troubled Water (1970)