FILLING THE SAILS

Let’s not beat about the bush. Having a paying gig writing about music is wonderful. I respect Discrepancy Records for what they are aiming to be (a first class on-line record store) and love the way it has provided opportunities to explore different types of music writing. It’s great that even within the frantic world of on-line retail, Paul (the owner) is open to ideas and innovations I come up with and never interferes with the articles I provide. It is, in short, a great gig I appreciate and enjoy.

Yet it has meant that my listening and resultant music writing has necessarily changed. Although I have pretty solid coverage of the 1960s, 70s and 80s (and increasingly, thanks to the 33 ⅓ book group, the 90s) my knowledge is far from complete. I’ve always been a bit weak on soul, for example. So writing about Donny Hathaway’s 1972 live album had me on my toes. How delightful, then, to find an absolutely marvellous record that has already become a favourite. (You can read the review here, if you are curious). 

On the other hand, sometimes honesty precludes complete endorsement of the album under the microscope. A recent example was Suzi Quatro’s Live and Kickin’ from 1977. It sharpened my appreciation of a balancing act of commercial writing: the moral tension between truthfulness (as experienced by the listener) and the writer’s role in supporting the business. It really got me thinking, and I hope I managed to keep my balance. (If you’d like to offer feedback, the Suzi Q piece is here).

Where is this rumination headed? I guess it is really about time. I know I have spent less time reading and commenting on others’ blogs than in the past, and I regret that. The rolling demands of other projects often mean that resolutions to dig out an album featured here or lauded there may not come to fruition. It seems there is too much fruit on the music vine, and more appears each day.

So what follows in this post is a selection of albums I’ve pulled out as a direct result of blogging. A couple are straight-line direct, a couple a bit tangential. But all are about acknowledging the community of music writers on wordpress and saying ‘Thanks’ for the nudges to delve a little deeper into the Vinyl Connection collection.

First off, a shoutout to longtime blogging amigo Joe at 1537, whose unflagging enthusiasm is wondrous to behold. His recent Ramones post reminded me that dumb fun is as valid as charming complexity. Go Dee Dee and the lads! go Legoman!

Some years ago I sprang for a lavish set of all Robert Plant’s solo albums (to that point in time). It is a very nice object, as you can see, but I have not spent anywhere near the time with it that it deserves. Sometimes such sets are overwhelming, especially when each album includes bonus tracks (as these do). 

The doughty deKE at Thunder Bay Arena Rock is working through Mr Plant’s albums and that was enough to have me dig out my stuff. There was less on vinyl than expected, but I chose Now and Zen, mainly because I have a huge soft spot for the polished swagger and tongue-in-cheek bravado of “Tall Cool One”. “Heaven Knows” is good too, as is the ballad “Ship of Fools”. Looking forward to reading what deKE says about this one.

Hotfox posted on Bayou Country, the second Creedence Clearwater Revival LP and the first of an astounding three albums released in 1969. I haven’t yet acquired a copy on vinyl but the CD more than adequately reminded me how much I love their rootsy, direct music. Good stuff on a grey day.

It wouldn’t be a Vinyl Connection playlist without some progressive rock somewhere in the mix. The blogger who goes by the moniker 365musicmusings has shared several interesting Camel recordings, prompting me to play their 1977 LP Raindances as a tribute. It is a melodic and pleasing record with good songs and great playing, particularly from reedman-to-the-stars Mel Collins (everyone from King Crimson to Tina Turner).

This playlist could, of course, go on and on. But I’ll finish with just one more record. This one came directly from a comment by DD, referencing a line in Paul Simon’s “Crazy Love”. Many will know the song appears on Simon’s monster LP Graceland, released in 1986. Yes, there was a degree of controversy at the time, but all these years later what remains is a sparkling album of fabulous songs decked out in vibrant colours provided by African (and other) musicians. If you are ever having a grey day, this is one to kick out the jams.

The cure for anything is saltwater – sweat, tears, or the sea

[Isak Dinesen]

21 comments

  1. What a smorgasbord. Where to start?
    The sight of the Bayou Country cover made me swirl with the kind of vertigo that hit me the first time that I heard that LP, which was under hazy circumstances. Overexposure to CCR albums at every party during that era put me off and I’ve not been back. It is time to return.

    Thanks for the nod to Fat Charlie too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It was a smoke on the water era, DD. Sounds pretty damn good sans green too.

      Like

      1. Keep on Chooglin’ was the highlight for me on this , possibility diamond anniversary re-listen!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for the shout out Sir. That Plant box set looks stellar. I have only seen it on iTunes etc but not an actual physical format.
    I did review Now and Zen about a year or so ago so my Plant vinyl collection us up to four now. (all of his ’80s output). Would love to get Manic Nirvana and Fate of Nations on vinyl if they ever came across my path on the cheap. (doubt it though)
    Cheers!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. A pleasure deKE. I always enjoy the overlap zones between music lovers.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. A gray day, or a car trip, or sorting laundry, the tunes on “Graceland” are great companions. It’s like being in college, and hanging out with a group of students from around the world, having a lively conversation. The gang’s energizing synthesis and great rhythms are so fun that you don’t even mind hanging out with that one annoying guy in the group, you know, the pretentious one with the giant inflated ego and thin voice – all that rollicking synergy overwhelms him. I never get tired of that album. And yeah, the punks from Queens are another great laundry day band, The Ramones just make me smile and hop around.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nicely put, Robert. I resisted Graceland’s charms for a while, partially the smugness, partially the hype. But I was a joyful surrender eventually. Hard to top lyrics like this:
      He’s a poor boy
      Empty as a pocket
      Empty as a pocket with nothing to lose

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yep, despite his flaws, the man is a real poet, shining like a National guitar.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Suzi Quatro is a big hole in my musical knowledge. In 77 I was still all about the Beatles. Leave Home, however, my favorite Ramones album, became the soundtrack to my life a couple of years later. That might say something about my depth as a person.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. And about your sense of rocking good fun, Jeff!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Congrats on your side gig, which sounds wonderful. Love the links to other bloggers here too. Like Jeff, I also never really gave Suzi Q much of a chance back in those years — too many other musical distractions at that time, which for me was CSN and all of its various permutations. But I should give her that belated chance now. – Marty

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Marty. The Quatro story in the US is a bit different. What fame she accrued was largely not about ‘Can the Can’ or her music generally, but from her appearances in ‘Happy Days’ as Leather Tuscadero!
      Unless you are a fan of glam (which was not such a big thing in the US, despite being seeded by the New York Dolls) I’d probably opine that sticking with CSN & Y is a solid choice. 😅

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Writing about music? For money? In 2021? You are living the life!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. “Fruit on the music vine. I like that Bruce. Those folks you mentioned always throw good fruit off the vine at me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Fresh fruit is good for us, CB. It’s proven.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Yeah – that sounds like my kinda gig! Good for you.
    Soon as i saw the Ramones album, I was in!
    For many years my Loud Horizon blog reviewed new music. Much of what I was sent was of the genres I liked,so it was all good. But I then became inundated with submissions from folks who obviously hadn’t looked at the blog … and reviewing music you’re not really into can be an arduous task!

    (I’ve just re-launched, focusing on more obscure / lesser acknowledged bands of the 60s and 70s, so will check out some of these other bloggers you mention in your post – I need all the connections and help I can get! 😉 )

    Cheers!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey LH, thanks for sharing a bit of your journey. Will certainly keep an eye on the blog.

      Like

  9. Any post that mentions me is a winner – thanks Bruce. But sod the Ramones, I love Plant’s ‘Tall Cool one’ too, great LP that one too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yep. I bit more rock and a little less studio sheen. (The album I mean, not your good self).

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m very jealous of the Plant box set, I’ve looked at it a couple of times myself. My fave solo Plant is The Mighty Rearranger, I would sacrilegiously argue it’s better than a lot of Zep stuff.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Yes! That one stood out for me too. So much so that I have retained the digipak CD despite the album being in the Nine Lives box.

          Liked by 1 person

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