50 classic albums to listen to before you die (4/5)

By Daniel Margrain

Neu 2 (1973) Neu
Neu’s intuitive and innovative ‘motorik’ beat of surging rhythmic impulses, obsessive repetition and cosmic futuristic soundscapes, predicted the neurosis of the post-industrial era as exemplified in the work of artists like Pere Ubu, Joy Division and Public Image Limited. The repetitive tribal beats, particularly the melodic element of the music, also anticipated the post-rock of the early 1990s most notably in the work of Stereolab.

 

Naturally (1971) J.J Cale
J.J Cale’s melancholy ‘laid-back’ blues-rock style has become the template for this kind of musical genre.Highly influential and respected among a dedicated following of fans and fellow musicians alike, the independent Cale seemed to be more comfortable writing for other musicians than performing. Dire Straits were to become Cale’s biggest imitators.

 

Disappeared (2000) Spring Heel Jack
The first track on this thrilling ride of a recording, Rachel Point, sets the scene for what is to come. Pounding drums, Miles Davis-style trumpet licks and looping keyboard wails are only the starting point for the mind-blowing Galina, a piece characterized by tribal pow-pow beats, heavy bass lines, organ drones and minimalist piano patterns set against a symphonic backdrop. This is contrasted with the epic trumpet crescendo of Trouble And Luck and the Bacharach-tinged orchestral aria of the dub tinged To Die A Little..

 

Don Juan’s Reckless Daughter (1977) Joni Mitchell
Don Juan’s Reckless Daughter is an album that works on every emotional and intellectual level. The synergy between music and poetry is virtually unsurpassed. The strident symphonic overtones that embellish Paprika Plains is a work of eloquence and restraint – a majestic piece that evokes a place lost in the mists of time. Dream-like abstractions and mysticism is a running theme throughout the album. The Tenth World and Dreamland predicted the ‘world music’ coined by Paul Simon’s Graceland by a decade.

 


The Days of Wine And Roses (1982) The Dream Syndicate
This album is an exceptionally played slice of neurotic postmodern psychedelic rock – a kind of bridge between Television and The Gun Club. The Dream Syndicate were among the most accomplished of the Paisley Underground bands of the early 1980s.

 

Da Capo (1966)  Love
I last saw Love play live at the Benicassim Festival in Spain shortly before the creative force of the band, Arthur Lee, died. It’s now 10 years to the week that the music world suffered one of its greatest losses. The music of Love embraced psychedelic pop melody with baroque arrangements. Da Capo was the album that best showcased one of the most eccentric styles of music from the mid-to-late 1960s which alternated between manic epileptic assaults of garage-rock and soft and melodic songs with flutes and harpsichord. The epic Revelation showcased Arthur Lee’s powerful vocals and brilliant guitar playing that is similar in style to early Neil Young.

 

Carrion Crawler/The Dream (2011)  Thee Oh Sees
This album is a refreshing and vibrant contemporary take on the psyche-garage traditions of the 1960s. The band effortlessly merge a multitude of reference points from the past without sounding derivative. Songs reminiscent of Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd combine with 70s new wave, jazz, soul rockabilly and punk. In the age of cynicism, austerity and conformity, this recording sounds like a breath of fresh air.

 

Gris-Gris (1968) Dr. John
What defines the work of Dr John, is the eclecticism of his Jazz and rhythm and blues-based music. Heir to the New Orleans tradition, Dr John’s unique interpretation of the exuberance of Creole folklore that characterizes his work, was formally embraced by the hippie counter-cultural and freak movement of the 1960s. The combination of funky tribal Middle Eastern and African jams, swamp voodoo blues and Mardi Gras-style fanfares, gave a new expression to the soul-funk-rock of the period.

 

Miss America (1988) Mary Margaret O’Hara
Mary Margaret O’Hara is one of the most original and creative artists of all-time. Her quirky voice is an instrument in itself, a super-human fusion of avant garde techniques and gospel/soul styling. Coupled with her sophisticated blues and jazz arrangements, the atmosphere of Miss America is memorably intense. As a performer, O’Hara is like a force of nature.

 


Double Time (1977) Leon Rathbone
Leon Redbone’s eclectic and original take on the ragtime traditions of the past have a kind of postmodern resonance. The trick to Redbone’s art is the brilliant way he injects a satirical freshness into the blues, jazz, folk and vaudeville traditions by the use of a baritone yodeling croon and his use of nostalgic orchestral arrangements. Redbone’s skill is his knack of revealing the precious underbelly of a lost old-style genre and then updating it to a contemporary audience.

2 thoughts on “50 classic albums to listen to before you die (4/5)

  1. ‘ Gris Gris ‘ … my ageing Hippy Aunt and Uncle had this in their record collection , fairly cool but would urge people to check out ‘ City Lights ‘ by Dr John from 1978 …less ‘ grungy ‘ , more ‘ crafted ‘ and possibly a record you might find you want to stay on your turntable a bit longer . Recall Mary Margaret O Hara from Bob Harris’s late 80’s nighttime Show on Radio One – must get this one . Good to see you’re saving ‘ Get Happy ‘ by Elvis Costello and the Attractions for your final 10

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Can’t get to grips with Costello I’m afraid. I saw O’Hara in concert. It was short but extremely sweet. I hope she tours again soon.

      Like

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