The Soundtrack of My Youth

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Bruford - Forever Until Sunday (live)

Manfred Mann EB - Spirits in the Night

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Wes Montgomery - Yesterdays (1965)

Monday, March 09, 2009

Chase - Close Up Tight (Live, 1974)

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Johnny Otis, Roy Buchanan & Shuggie Otis

As a teenager fixated on the blues, I dug Shuggie Otis's playing the moment I heard him on Al Kooper's 'Kooper Session' and his own solo LP 'Freedom Flight'. Man, this kid could really shred the blues! This rare video footage has Shuggie playing with his dad Johnny and special guest Roy Buchanan who's kinda loud and over-the-top.

Allman Brothers - In Memory of Elizabeth Reed

Monday, April 24, 2006

New home! Blogger's gone bonkers!!

Please reset your dial to this new location for the latest posts: Cheers!

Steely Dan - Gaucho (1980)

One of the LPs in my collection that seemed just right for setting the mood on a Saturday morning. The music may have more to do with jazz sophistication than rock sensibility, but it's still a thrilling ride. It had to be, considering that Donald Fagen and Walter Becker are bona-fide musical geniuses and unyielding sticklers for perfection (the album was recorded in more than half a dozen studios over a three-year period!).

Though their beatnik whimsy and smarter-than-thou asides on songs like 'Babylon Sisters', 'Glamour Profession' and 'My Rival' tend to be tiresome at times, Fagen and Becker know how to hook you with their sinuous melodies, which are brilliantly burnished by the state-of-the-art production. And the long A-list musician lineup — Larry Carlton, Steve Khan, Mark Knopfler, Hiram Bullock, Rick Derringer, Michael and Randy Brecker, Steve Gadd, Joe Sample... — ensures consistency of performance throughout. Fans had to wait a decade after this to hear another new Steely Dan album... Just imagine that!

Frank Sinatra - In the Wee Small Hours (1955)

I've been a Sinatra fan since my early teens, and this album of ballads, one of the crowning achievements of his early career, has been a long-time favourite. The man sure knew how to get into a song; he makes exquisite art of all the 16 numbers here, including ultimate torch pieces like 'What is This Thing Called Love', 'When Your Lover Has Gone', 'I'll Never Be the Same' and 'It Never Entered My Mind'.

Perfect for late-night or "wee hours" listening, the set offers compelling testimony not only to Sinatra's standing as one of the greatest and most rivetingly emotive singers of all time, but also to his stature as a formidable interpretive master in the front rank of American popular music's pantheon of torch-bearers.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Isley Brothers - 3 + 3 (1973)

The local Columbia distributor used to run a record store on Penang island in the '70s that I used to hang out in almost every Saturday. I would walk in with ecstatic anticipation and scour the shelves like a ravenous groove rat for new releases I had heard on the John Peel Show or read about in NME. On one occasion, I remember hearing 'That Lady' and 'Summer Breeze' (the Seals and Crofts song) from this LP at the shop and deciding to buy it on the strength of just those two tunes. Only problem was, I could afford only one LP from my school pocket money, and I had already chosen Argent's 'In Deep'. Imagine my disappointment!

Anyway, I managed to borrow a copy of the album and was quite thrilled to discover neat soul-inflected versions of James Taylor's 'Don't Le Me Be Lonely Tonight' and the Doobie Brothers's 'Listen to the Music'. After all these years, the music still sounds fresh and stimulating.

The Moody Blues - Days of Future Passed (1967)

Despite being generally lumped in the prog-rock bag together with other groups from that era (Renaissance, Nice, even Deep Purple) which often used a full orchestra in their recordings, the Moody Blues always seemed pretty pop-centred and lightweight to me. That didn't mean I disliked the band. On the contrary, I loved their early works, especially this enduring symphonic-pop showcase which was conceptually way ahead of its time.

There may be a touch of pomposity about the proceedings, but it all seems of a piece with the spirit of the music, which is more about style than substance. In any case, 'Nights in White Satin' is still a magical song to me, even though it was somewhat inescapable on my favourite radio station, Radio RAAF Butterworth, during much of the '70s.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Thin Lizzy - Johnny the Fox (1976)

Another Thin Lizzy album I first heard on John Peel's show (there was a weekly BBC World Service shortwave broadcast in the '70s). I actually liked this better than its predecessor, Jailbreak, mainly because the songs rocked harder and the band's trademark double-guitar attack was tighter.

The poor CD transfer makes the album a tough listen now, but the songs still have plenty of appeal, especially 'Massacre' (apparently about the charge of the Light Brigade during the Crimean War) which was covered by Iron Maiden.

Rick Wakeman - The Myths and Legends of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table (1975)

This was one of the few LPs in my collection that friends of mine who weren't mad about music (never figured out what was wrong with them!) could sit through without whining and groaning. As a concept album centred on the Arthurian legend, it's somewhat overscored — Wakeman throws in everything from rock and ragtime to jazz and dance hall into the mix, sometimes within the same tune! It's also somewhat overdressed (rock band, orchestra and choir all going at once!), with vocals parts that at times overwhelm the music and rhythms that just never seem fluid.

But cluttered and clunky as the proceedings were, they had a strange appeal that kept use going back to the record every few months. The CD transfer underscores the inadequacies of the recording, but though it doesn't seem to have aged well, the album is still worth hearing, if only for Wakeman's Moog solo on the largely instrumental 'Merlin the Magician' and to get an idea of the splashiness of the concept-album trend that was prevalent in '70s prog-rock.