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