Amy Winehouse’s music is sort of like a red wine: It’s strong at first, but you start to gain appreciation for the music by the middle of the album.
OK, I am finished with the wine metaphor.
I recently borrowed “Back to Black” with a group of records from a co-worker. Winehouse has a smoky voice, which lends well to her jazz-influenced music. It reminds me of Adele, who has a lot of popular songs right now.
Winehouse died at age 27 in 2011, so she didn’t have very long to develop. She suffered with addiction, which can be inferred by some the lyrics she sang.
In the short time she performed, Winehouse was able reach international fame. It would have been interesting to see how her career would have developed had she lived.
(Strange note: Many famous musicians, like Winehouse, died at age 27. These include Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain, Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin — to name a few.)
The Kinks were masters of simple and fast songs.
“All Day and All of the Night” and “You Really Got Me” used single riffs to make Billboard hits.
I recently gave the former song a spin. It was a 2-minute-and-20 second trip to 1964, a great time for vinyl.
My 45 has survived decades — through disco, synth, grunge and whatever today’s music is classified as.
A few riffs are all The Kinks needed. More than 50 years later it’s still good enough.
(An alliterative-based recommendation on bands you should listen to: The Kinks, The Knack, The Killers and The Klocks. Well, maybe not The Klocks.)
I have been on a kick lately of listening to greatest hits compilations.
One of my favorites is a selection of songs from the 1960s. Several songs from the record have been featured here. But right now I am stuck on The Police’s 1986 collection of singles. Not long ago I wrote about the ballad of creepers: “Every Breath You Take.” That song is on this album — and so are many other great tunes.
My personal favorite is “Walking on the Moon.” I never started listening to The Police until a few years ago. I have always considered the 1980s to be a wasteland of synth and strangeness. For the most part I still believe that to be true.
The Police are a great exception.
(1980s-ish band names, from the mundane to the unusual: The Cars, The Police, Soft Cell and Dexys Midnight Runners.)
Steppenwolf’s hits are ingrained in popular culture, none more so than “Born to be Wild.”
The more I listen to this band, the more I like their lesser-known music. But the other night I pulled one of their classics out: “Magic Carpet Ride.”
I forgot how good it is.
I guess when you listen to a certain band a lot, the most popular songs lose some of their intrigue simply because they are overly played. A band’s true fans can name the B-sides and rare productions.
The moral of this review is for diehard fans to take some time to listen to their favorite band’s most widely played songs. Chances are you haven’t listened to them in a while — even if everyone else has.
You’ll probably remember why you liked the band in the first place.
(Note: The above advice is not appropriate for fans of Sugar Ray.)
The bass track in songs on this album would have been good enough.
Flea (aka Michael Peter Balzary) is one of the best bassists in rock, so this could perhaps be said for most of the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ work. “Out in L.A.,” a 1994 compilation of the group’s rare songs, doesn’t have the same feel as their hits. This is one band whose hits I prefer over the more rare stuff.
Vinyl is a good medium for bass, for all the reasons records make music better, including the snaps, crackles and pops. The good bass lines on this album are hidden in a soup of profanity and other strange lyrics. Some songs last 7 minutes while others only run 13 seconds.
Peppers fans will likely ridicule this review as a mainstream take on one of the most unique bands ever. But I will take the bass — and skip the rest on this one.
(An unasked for and oft-repeated endorsement, but I’ll say it again: The best compilation of rare songs by a group
is The Doors’ “Essential Rarities.”)
I may have never met a true California girl.
Blond, tan, athletic surfers are traits that I would peg as crucial to the mold. The Beach Boys want the world to be full of them.
I found a “California Girls” single in my stack of 45s the other night and was reminded about how good the Beach Boys were. The 1965 hit about their ideal type of girl is only one of many great songs by the group.
In high school I had a friend who listened to “Pet Sounds” regularly for a while. I didn’t give it much thought at the time. The sound was far different form the 1990s grunge I preferred.
A quick vinyl shot of the Beach Boys has me looking for more of their work on plastic. I wish I would have taken my friend’s advice sooner.
(A great blunder in music judgement: At one point in time I would have chosen the Beastie Boys to the Beach Boys. Boy, was I mistaken.)
“California Dreamin’” was released 50 years ago.
That’s right, that’s how long ago 1965 is.
It’s the perfect song for the season — unless you like freezing temperatures and snow.
I first started listening to this song on the “Forrest Gump” sound track. If you like oldies, it might be one of the best collections compiled. I also have this The Mamas & The Papas hit on a 1960s collection of songs on vinyl, which of course is the best way to listen to it.
(Some more winter-related songs that you might consider: “Wintertime Love” by The Doors, and “Heaven Beside You” by Alice in Chains.)
The only piece of David Bowie’s long and crazy career that has found its way into my vinyl collection is a single of “Day-In Day-Out.”
The cover photo perhaps best signifies the artist’s mind: There is a lot going on and none of it makes particular sense. That being said, the man has made some good music during the decades.
This 1987 single, and the B-side “Julie,” are not on the top of my list. It might be because they sound like normal songs. They aren’t particularly weird — and Bowie’s best work is strange.
These songs certainly don’t have the epic feel of “Space Oddity” — the Bowie song that I hope to someday add to my record collection.
(Note: Ziggy Stardust and professional wrestler Goldust, while both dusts, are not the same.)
It’s obvious that a lot of the 45s I have in my collection came from old jukeboxes.
Some of them, like my lone Everclear record, has “For Jukebox Use Only” on the label.
Sometimes it feels good to break the rules.
The other night I listened to one of these rogue records, by Everclear. The single “Heartspark Dollarsign” is on the A-side. But I like the B-side, “Queen of the Air.”
It has a good bass riff at the end, which goes a long way for someone who used to play.
The copy I have is in pristine condition — so I guess its number didn’t get called a whole lot when someone dropped a quarter.
(Note: If you Google “Everclear” the No. 1 result is the 151-proof liquor. The band is the No. 2 result. Draw your own conclusions.)
“Every Breath You Take” is a ballad for creepers.
It is a great song by a great band. The Police have a lot
But a song that details intent to follow someone’s actions — down to the breath — is creepy. It leads side 2 of the band’s 1983 album “Synchronicity.”
My copy happens to be extremely warped, so I didn’t get a good listen to the songs on the first half of side 1. Side 2, including “Every Breath You Take” and “King of Pain” make the album worth the buy, bent plastic and all.
(Likely outcomes of “Every Breath You Take”: being slapped in the face; being chased down by a dog and then slapped in the face; being jailed for stalking — and then slapped in the face.)