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Old 12-14-2014, 07:18 PM   #2601 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Urban Hat€monger ? View Post
We all know you're going to finish yours first.
Maybe I'll die first ... Are these ranked? I was planning to go from number 1001 backwards, but it looks like you started at number one. I bet you wear your shoes on your feet, too!
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Yeah, I mean, why would a prog fan like instrumental music? Seriously.
I said post-rock: though I can definitely stand a lot of instrumental music, it has to speak to me and some of it doesn't. That said, I did enjoy both those albums but I didn't see anything special about them that I would shout about.

Anyway, what I really wanted to say was this:

Also coming in 2015!


(More soon...)
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Old 12-14-2014, 07:27 PM   #2602 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Trollheart View Post
Maybe I'll die first ... Are these ranked? I was planning to go from number 1001 backwards, but it looks like you started at number one. I bet you wear your shoes on your feet, too!
They're listed by release date order, so not ranked.
One advantage I do have over you is I've already heard roughly around a half to 2 thirds of the albums listed before so it's easier for me to write about them and in a lot of cases not even have to listen to them again. Judging by your tastes I would think that number is significantly lower.

Oh and just to give you prior warning...
The 19th album listed is Ella Fitzgerald Sings The Gershwin Song Book.

It's around 3 and a half hours long

Edit: I have a PDF of the 2008 edition, I'll upload it if anyone wants it.
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Old 12-14-2014, 08:10 PM   #2603 (permalink)
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I'd like to see it, if only for ideas when I need something to listen to.
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Old 12-15-2014, 05:26 AM   #2604 (permalink)
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Yeah, I'll need to see it. Whenever you have the time. Thanks.
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Old 12-15-2014, 09:52 AM   #2605 (permalink)
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Dear Christian,
Thanks for the gift of “Illmatic” by Nas. Don't wish to sound ungrateful, but why do people think giving the gift of an album firmly rooted in a genre I don't like is a good idea? Although I did not like the Eminem album Justin gave me, at least I could laugh at the often hilariously over the top racist, sexist and violent imagery in the lyrics, and there were the odd decent melody. This, on the other hand, was like reading pages and pages of blank paper. Dull, uninteresting, flat, boring. It literally made no impression on me, and I remember none of it, even now while it's still playing.

Thanks but no thanks. Not my thing. Nevertheless, it's the thought that counts, so have a great Christmas.
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Old 12-15-2014, 09:56 AM   #2606 (permalink)
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I hadn't realised you'd listened to Gram Parsons & Kevin Ayers, you did it when I wasn't around.
Glad you liked both of them, great write up of Grievous Angel. I'd highly recommend you listen to The Flying Burrito Brothers album The Gilded Palace Of Sin. It's a bit more rock and a little less country.
I would have thought Soft Machine would be a bit too jazz influenced for your tastes and Kevin Ayers only played on their first album. I'd be interested to see what your take is on some of Robert Wyatt's stuff. You should give Rock Bottom a spin and see what you think of that.
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Old 12-15-2014, 02:55 PM   #2607 (permalink)
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Oh come all ye faithful and rejoice, for the backs of Nickel have released a new album for ye to worship. All praise the Chad! Album of the year 2014 AND 2015, without doubt surely? But seriously, what's it like? Is it really that bad? Can I find anything decent on it? Let's see.


No fixed address --- Nickelback --- 2014 (Republic)

We open with a low mutter and voices rising (people who have been captured by Nickelback and forced to listen to the album?) then the sound of a train rattling towards us (oh how original) followed by a vocal from Chad that is kind of echoey but nothing new --- Saxon were doing this thirty years ago. The song's okay, nothing terribly great and the next one up just sounds like a mix of “Rock star” (I'm not that familiar with these guys, despite that I slag them off) and a sub-Daughtry kind of song, with The Chad attempting a kind of rap vocal, and failing miserably. He does sound hard though. Hard to believe he thinks he's a singer. Anyway, that's “Edge of a revolution”, with a half-decent guitar solo to be fair, then oh Lord almighty! A rousing metal chant/chorus --- “Hi! Hi! Hi! What do we want? We want change!” Yeah, like change from what I paid for this album --- oh wait, I didn't pay anything. Well I'll still take my money back. Should be paying me to listen to this!

Not a great start guys, and we stumble on with “What are you waiting for?” Oh yeah, hit the STOP button. Well I nearly did. It's a heavily-autotuned boyband ballad, so much so that had I been listening to samples before spinning this I might have thought they had mixed up the tracks and given me something by The Script or One Direction, but no such luck. It's the boys, and they're making inroads into the lucrative teen heartthrob market. Well, they'll never make it as a rock band, so why not? God this is AWFUL! Even for Knickersback. Really. It's just painful. Oh mercy. “She keeps me up” then plunders the opening bassline from Queen's “Another one bites the dust” and goes on to devolve into a sort of semi-funk/pop/god-knows-what-the-fuck-this-is. Remember The Script? Yeah, even they would blush at singing this, never mind actually writing it. Jesus.

I would say that was the worst track on the album, but I confidently expect there will be more contenders for that title before we're through here. “Make me believe again” rips off Bon Jovi, very badly, but stops short of stepping over into real rock territory. Kind of rehashes “How you remind me” to be honest. When Chad sings ”You can take the time/ And wash it all away” how I wish he was right, but it's in there now and there's no getting away from it. Not sure what the deal is on the backing vocals, but someone definitely sounds like a girl. I don't see any female backing vocalists, so, who knows? Or, indeed, cares? “Satellite” sounds like the obligatory acoustic ballad, and it's of course countrified up (or should that read cuntrified?), a total cliche, not that I was expecting anything original but you know, you hope. Why, I don't know. Again, Chad unintentionally hits the nail on the head when he croaks ”Now I know what bad means.” You and me both, Your Chadness!

Ah, this isn't going to get any better is it? And you would think there's plenty of scope for it to, with the dross on display so far, but we're halfway through (God! Another five tracks to go! Need more beer!) Bit of a dirty guitar kicking off “Get 'em up” (get what up, Chad? My feet? You doing the hoovering?) Oh saints preserve us! It's a song about desperadoes planning a heist. In case you weren't sure, Chad sneers ”This is a robbery! Get down on the floor!” If only he'd rob every copy of this album and destroy them, the world would be a better place. Sigh. Oh look! Chad's mimicking singing through a bullhorn! How innovative! Now he's being Jon Bon Jovi again. Yeah okay, the guitar riff is not bad, and Ryan Peake attempts a solo but it kind of dies on its feet.

Nice little piano line opening “The hammer's coming down” and to be fair a decent orchestral keyboard which sounds quite dramatic and epic. Sounds like this is already being prepared as the soundtrack to a disaster movie --- hah! Disaster album for disaster movie! ---- to be honest it's not awful and if I heard it in the background as Bruce Willis or Vin Diesel (hey gimme a break! I don't get to many movies, ok?) faced nature at her worst, rippling muscles refusing to quit, a cigar hanging from his mouth and a steely gleam in his eyes --- “It's you or me, Mother Fucking Nature! And it ain't gonna be me!” --- I'd probably say it sounded ok but I would not go searching it out on Music Banter. “Heard this AWESOME song on “2016: No, the Mayans really mean it this time!” last week: HAVE to know what it is! Please help!” Um, no. Not gonna happen.

The next track is called “Miss you”, but you might just be surprised what a good shot I am, Chad! It's another foray into the world of bland pop, and it sounds just as you would expect it to. The little girls will no doubt wet their knickers and scream how great it is, but my knickers are bone dry. There's actually nothing good I can say about this. It's so formulaic and generic it could be any pop band playing it. If you heard it on the radio you would not even realise, or care, that it was Chad and the boys. The only good thing about it is that it moves us two songs closer to the end, but it's about four minutes two seconds too long with a running time of four minutes two seconds. Oh, it has some really annoying whistling on it too. Yeah. Whistling. I know.

Some hip-hop supposed star called Flo Rida (you know him, do you? Good for you. Means nothing to me) helps out on “Got me runnin' around”, where they try, and fail, to rock it up again --- we're not a pop band! No really! Look at this! We're so tough and hard! Hell, we're METAL! --- yeah, the only metal you're likely to be compared to is Metal Mickey (very old TV joke, you probably won't get it kids, but take it from me, it's one of the cruellest and wittiest put-downs ever. If I had said this in the eighties there'd be people rolling in the aisles. Really, there would. Okay, have it your own way). Now of course we get a rap, and I'm sure it's good but it only makes me hate these guys more.

Thankfully we're onto the final track, “Sister sin” (ooh! How hard, Your Chadship!) and I have to admit I don't know what the hell this is supposed to be. It's like part folk, part blues, part country, part god-knows-what! Whatever it is, or it's meant to be, it doesn't work, and it closes the album as I expected it would, as it began, badly. What a relief though to be finished.

TRACKLISTING

1. Million miles an hour
2. Edge of a revolution
3. What are you waiting for?
4. She keeps me up
5. Make me believe again
6. Satellite
7. Get 'em up
8. The hammer's coming down
9. Miss you
10. Got me runnin' round
11. Sister sin

Yeah, this is rubbish. Even going in with an open mind like mine there's little if anything to take back from this. I'm not happy to be trashing a band, but considering the adoration these guys get, like they're the saviours of rock or something, it really is merited. If this album proves anything, it's that Nickelback are getting even staler and less able to write songs, and are on the verge of abandoning their loyal fanbase in pursuit of the almighty dollar. Sure, they'll make new ones --- you can't move in this world without bumping into a sucker --- but is it worth it to lose the people who put them where they are today? What about loyalty? What about artistic integrity? What about pure, simple pride in their music?

Sorry, sorry! Forgot who I was talking about there for a moment! Jesus! How have these guys shifted 23 million albums over their career? Guess it's true what they say: you'll never go broke appealing to the lowest common denominator. And in the world of rock, Nickelback are about as low as you can go. Look, to be fair, there are about maybe three half-decent songs on the album, and that's more than I expected, but even then that's being a little overgenerous in the spirit of the season.

The album is called “No fixed address”, but you know, they do have an address: it's Banalville, just outside of Rip-Off Town and on the way into Cash-in City. Take my advice: don't bother listening to this. Once you've heard it, you can't un-hear it... brrrr! Like a bad Mexican meal, those bouncy rhythms and empty lyrics are going to be repeating on me for some days to come!

Where's that Death Metal Christmas album again?
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Old 12-15-2014, 05:36 PM   #2608 (permalink)
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From time to time I like to keep my hand in by compiling the odd review of a classical record. For someone who is not a musician, knows little of the orchestra and find reviewing instrumental albums tricky at best, this is quite a challenge and I like to set it for myself now and again, not only to open up the genres explored here in the Playlist, and to remind myself of music I listen to for pleasure but don't often review, but also as a test of sorts for myself. I've been getting --- thank you all --- some high praise for my recent review of “Born to run”, and while it's very welcome, the review of any album is not a huge matter: you listen to the lyrics, you describe the music, you strive to see the picture or the story the songwriter is trying to create and you interpret and explain that as best you can, trying to build up a picture of what you think the album means.

As those not-quite-so-cute-as-they-should-be meerkats say, simples.

But when it comes to a classical album, throw those fish out of that particular kettle and fetch a new one, because it's a new game altogether. Unless you're talking about opera, or the very odd vocal/choral work, classical music as a genre is by its very nature instrumental. It's written in movements, sinatras --- sorry, sonatas! --- concertos and symphonies, and there are no words. It's something of a challenge then, I feel, to get across the emotions and ideas this music stirs up in you, and to try to figure out what the composer was trying to do, trying to say, when he wrote it. It's music that is literally timeless, and echoes back across the gulf of centuries, yet never sounds old or dated, and much of it continues to crop up in incidental music, film scores and the ubiquitous advertisements and commercials.

And it's precisely because it has lasted so long that I feel I personally owe it to my favourite composers to pay attention to, and perhaps bring the attention of others to their work. But it's quite an undertaking. I think I've reviewed three classical albums here --- three, in over four years --- and each one of them has been something of a struggle to me. But none, I fear, so much as this one promises to be.

I was reminded of one of the pieces when Rexx Shredd suggested Electric Light Orchestra's “On the third day” for my Christmas list, and I remembered that it was ELO's version on that album of “In the hall of the Mountain King” that first got me interested in Grieg. I say interested, but in truth I never got that much into the rest of his work, though I of course got to know “Morning”, as just about everyone does. But it gave me the idea to seek out the full composition, and this is what I now intend to attempt to review.

Note: As I have pointed out before, I am not very familiar with orchestras, and though I could tell a violin from a cello, I could not distinguish between a violin and a viola, or a trumpet and trombone. So I will be guessing at what instrument is playing at any given point. Sometimes I may get it right, but most times I will probably just make a mess of it. Bear with me and don't judge me: I'm doing my best.


Peer Gynt --- Edvard Grieg --- 1876

The thing about Peer Gynt is that most recordings of it are an abridged version --- the two suites only --- and I wanted to (God knows why!) look into the whole thing. It is, in case you don't (and you may not) know, the score to a play by Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen, which premiered in Oslo (then called Christiania) in 1876. The play itself is a little odd, and can probably be open to various interpretations, but generally seems to follow the adventures of a young boy, the title character, who is left with his mother destitute after the death of their father. Peer has several chances to make his life better but seems to avoid responsibility, and in the end, as he lies dying, well I don't really know how it ends. It all seems a bit vague, as these things often are.

But the important part of course is the music, and that was all written by Edvard Grieg (1843-1907), who later as I say extracted four movements from it. As I mentioned, I originally wanted to do the whole thing – all fifty-one tracks! --- but I found out fairly quickly that much of those are merely spoken word parts of the play, and as this is in Norwegian there is little point in my trying to review them, so somewhat reluctantly I've fallen back on plan “B”, which is to review the two suites on their own.

The first suite opens with a piece most of us are familiar with, one of Grieg's most famous, best-loved and well known compositions, as “Morning Mood”, usually shortened to just “Morning”, flows out of the speakers like a calm, soft river or indeed the sun itself rising, flute taking the main melody as it winds along like a snake or a swirl of smoke, violins softly adding their voices until the whole thing swells on rolling percussion and the phrase repeats again, slightly altered with the addition of a few chords but essentially the same melody. It climbs until it reaches a crescendo and then descends on soft oboe with the violins and cellos still in attendance, and getting stronger as the piece continues. Now the oboe takes the melody solo for a short moment, before swirling violins slide downwards and the oboe drops an octave, allowing the violins then to take the tune before flute comes chirruping back in, the whole thing then building again as the flute and oboe trade licks. Flute then takes the tune, then oboe, both playing the same melody, until the cellos finish the piece with a flourish.

Things are much darker and more dour then for “Death of Åse”, as Peer Gynt's mother lies on her deathbed, dolorous cello and violin calling the tune, a slow, stately, dramatic rhythm. The intensity increases then, with what could be choral voices very low (or may not be), no percussion yet, the cellos creating their own, the whole thing very stark and powerful. A lighter violin takes the melody solo for a moment, descending as if in deference to the dying woman, almost fading out completely, again perhaps representing the dying breath of Peer Gynt's mother. Very slowly now, dropping in volume more as the end approaches, the piece fades away like a whisper or a final breath.

“Anitra's dance” is a much more uptempo arrangement, and again may be familiar to casual listeners. I've definitely heard it before but did not know it was Grieg. With pizzicato violin and then a waltyz stronger violin and cello it swirls about, tip-tapping here and there before it takes on a proper shape for the melody, then coming up strongly as the dance reaches its climax with a lovely lilting, swaying, flowing melody carried by the violins, violas and cellos.

The ELO-covered piece then is next, and “In the hall of the Mountain King” starts off with sort of slow marching trumpet, deep bassoon and picked violin. It's one of those pieces that builds up to a furious climax as it goes, getting faster and more insistent as it moves along. Flute gets more peppy, more involved, pizzicato violin comes in and suddenly an army of cellos and violins, backed by thunderous drumming, is running at top speed through the tune, with some heavy drumbeats, screeching violins and a final rolled drumbeat, it's out and over. And so is suite one.

Suite two begins with “The abduction of the bride: Ingrid's lament”, and it's a fast, uptempo opening on sprightly violin and percussion but then settles down into a slower groove, as you would expect from something bearing the title of lament, as cellos and violins slowly draw the melody across the listener's ear. Oboes and clarinets now join in, raising the pitch of the music and giving it an extra dramatic flair. Big, rolling, thundering percussion trundles across the tune and the violins swell to meet it, then everything drops back almost to silence before the crashing roll of drums brings back the opening sequence, which repeats and then fades out, taking us into “Arabian dance”, with a high, cheery flute then crashing cymbals and woodwinds joined by bassoon and French Horn that successfully paint a scene out of the east.

A triumphant, marching rhythm takes the tune, then drops back to a stately, grand waltz before picking up again with a bouncing rhythm, the flutes coming back in and joined by the cellos, then the powerful drums and trombones and trumpets take it towards its conclusion, and into “Peer Gynt's Homecoming (Stormy evening on the sea)” with a punchy violin and flute introduction, oboe adding to the tune as rolling percussion crashes. Rising and descending flute and violin accompanied by echoing drumwork mimics the stormy sea as Peer Gynt tries to make his way home, a slow, doleful flute ending the piece and ushering in the finale, “Solveig's song”.

Gently rolling violin gives way to what may be an acoustic guitar, or may not, and the final piece is a slow, soft, lush little piece which, while not in the same league as “Morning”, is nevertheless a compelling melody and indeed, the longest of the two suites, at just under six minutes. There's certainly a note of tragedy and drama in the music, but a lot of tenderness too, as Solveig pleads on behalf of her husband, who lies dying. The music swells, falls back, swells, falls back, like the very sea itself, or perhaps the ebb and flow of life. It's tinged with sadness of course, as Solveig holds her dying love, realising he has never managed to justify himself to the world, or to himself, and that it is now too late. As you might expect, the piece fades down slowly until it just dies away.

TRACKLISTING

SUITE I
1. Morning mood
2. Death of Åse
3. Anrita's dance
4. In the hall of the Mountain King

SUITE II
1. The abduction of the bride: Ingrid's lament
2. Arabian dance
3. Peer Gynt's homecoming (Stormy evening at sea)
4. Solveig's song

Too often, classical music is derided and dismissed as “boring” by people who should really know better. Most of our rock, pop, and other music is after all based on this genre, and if you watch the television or go to movies the chances are that you've heard at least one piece of classical music in your life. True, not all of it is to everyone's taste --- chamber music can be very hard to listen to, and I don't like opera at all --- but much of it is very listenable and, if you give it a chance, you can discover some amazing music that's only been out there waiting for you for the last three or four hundred years.

I don't believe I would be interested in Peer Gynt the play: it seems very confused, with mixed messages and an ambiguous and ultimately unsatisfying ending. But there's no doubt that the music from it is definitely worth listening to. It may not evoke the same images for you as it does me, in some cases not even the correct ones --- “Morning mood” was apparently written to convey the situation of Peer Gynt up a tree in a desert, but we all associate it now with sunrise, flower petals opening, birds flying across the sky --- but I would be mightily surprised if listening to it did not make some sort of impression on you.

Even if it was only to try listening to that ELO album again...
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Old 12-16-2014, 05:32 AM   #2609 (permalink)
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Dear YorkeDaddy

Thank you for the gift of “Modal soul” by Nujabes. It started off well but by the third track in I was stultifyingly bored. I bloody hate jazz and this just left me totally cold. I'm sorry to say I stopped listening as it did not appeal to me in the slightest. I don't see the beauty you seem to see, sorry. For me it was not quite torture, but not far from it.

Thanks anyway. Have a great Christmas.
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Old 12-16-2014, 12:10 PM   #2610 (permalink)
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I actually thought the third track was when you'd start to like it ;_;

You really hated this one?



Talk about a strikeout :P But yeah the album changes a lot, track 2 is very jazzy but that's one of the few that are notably like that. I knew it was a shot in the dark though, I just decided to take the chance because I don't think you'd try an album like that in any other context
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On this one your voice is kind of weird but really intense and awesome

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