Quaint ramblings and occasional reflections of a journeying Aussie musician...

17 February 2006

Mike's Top Ten Albums - next five(ish)...

Cheers to all those who enjoyed the first five and let me know about it....and so, here's the next five, once again, in no particular order:

Wanderlust - Wanderlust

Initial release from amazing Australian 'world-jazz' group (I guess you gotta call it something). I read a blurb once that described the band's outlook as something along the lines of embracing the many musical cultures and traditions of the world in order to produce a uniquely Australian musical outlook. And for me it couldn't be more like that - there is one track in particular, 'Dakar', obviously entitled after the African city, but whenever I hear it, I am strangely always reminded of an infinite memory of evenings in the Australian summer - baking hot, rapid dusk, cicadas, crashing waves on the beach in the distance somewhere...ah, the homeland! In the long journey to discover one's own musical and cultural identity, such an outstanding release from an accomplished band with such a strong, forward-moving concept continues to be an source of inspiration. One of the best gigs I ever saw was these guys at the now live-musicless Tilley's, Lyneham, Canberra - the live group interaction was extraordinary, and that wasn't even with the original bass player! Without a doubt, one of the best gigs I've ever seen. M, the band's 'leader', is one of my musical gurus, and also happens to be a good friend of mine. Their first release was one of four so far, all well worth a listen.

Peruchin - Piano con Mona

Ruben Gonzalez describes in his liner notes to 'Introducing...' about the emergence of Cuban piano soloists in the 30s and 40s and mentions beside himself two other names, Lili Martinez and this guy. But unlike 'Introducing...', which captures a handful of the classics in a throw-together session (also taking into account Gonzalez's arthritis, old age, and no piano at home for ten years!), 'Piano con Mona' features a founder of the tradition this incredible album is from the same vein but of a player at the height of his powers, supported by a killer band! The overflowing list of tracks seems to be handpicked from what must have been an enormous band repertoire, and the turbo-charged band energy suggests a seasoned, well-experienced unit with a long history of playing together. Israel 'Cachao' Lopez talks about recording his famous Descarga sessions at 3 o'clock in the morning, that is, directly after everyone's gigs were finished for the night! Listening to this album, I wouldn't be surprised if these guys did the same. The other thing about this album is that whenever I've played it, whoever I've played it to, it always instantly captures people's attention, uncannily, unlike any other album I own.....freaky!

Marvin Gaye - What's Goin' On

Motown with a social and political conscience...originally rejected by the management, Marvin Gaye's release of the title track brought them around, after which he recorded the rest of the album. Over the new year, I went through a two week period of listening to this album non-stop everyday, with my first thought each morning being that I was thankful to be alive simply for the reason of being able to listen to this music.

Herbie Hancock - Maiden Voyage, Headhunters and others...

Where do I start!? The original multi-guy piano-keyboard player - no, simply 'player' is too weak a word to describe this musical giant. The 50s and 60s Blue Note catalogue has always held an almost mystical element for me, and 'Maiden Voyage' ascends even that: it becomes one of those albums that cannot be described as Jazz or modern or post-bop or any other similarly useless terms. It is simply itself, it is simply....music. And Headhunters? How can an album be such a breakthrough, such a statement of the times, and never sound dated (even with all those 70s synth sounds)?

Stevie Wonder - Inner Visions

All about faces on the scene, plus some love songs, plus some socio-political commentary, all with those pumping keyboard basslines, incredible arrangements, advanced 'pop' harmony, and indestructible grooves that only someone like Stevie can do. This was one of a whole bunch of absolute gold cuts he did in the 70s..."couldn't put a foot wrong," I read the period described as once. Apparently most of the instruments on most of the tracks he recorded himself, making him (as far as I know) probably one of the first people ever to do something like that (with Prince and D'Angelo coming to mind). Being a working musician, I could readily associate with some of the characters in the songs, i.e, the girl in 'Too High', and I used to work for a guy who could only be best described as 'Misstra Know-It-All', about whom I'll be writing a little further on down the track...

Radiohead - OK Computer

Introduced to this band through a former girlfriend, definitely that melancholia thing resonated...I started listening with 'The Bends', where they totally had their thing together but the weirdo electronica stuff was already starting to come in. And then, through best mate Z back in Canberra, I was introduced to this...the program of tracks is incredible (even the computer voice one), and the incorporation of electronics in with rockin indie guitar and Thom Yorke's ghostly vocals gets me going whenever I hear it. 'Kid A' and 'Amnesiac' took it somewhere else with a painful beauty equally as engaging, but this was the first one, the original, the leap-taker. Cheers Z!

Believe it or not, there's more to come on this subject, so stay tuned!...

No comments: