Archive for the ‘ Concept Albums ’ Category

Lou Reed “Berlin”

Berlin

This album came out after the smashing Transformer. Berlin doesn’t rock and thrash in a perfectly sensible way like T-former, but it is understated and melodically enchanting, and you can grow with it in an unholy, or perhaps sacred way.

It plays like a miniature opera, with eerie sound montage and smoky piano interludes. Don’t expect the stabby guitar glam punk of this album’s predecessor; Berlin is sleepy and sad, beautifully orchestrated and a moody concept album. A few upbeat numbers will keep you coming back for more. It’s hard to remember exactly why you like this album when you replay it for the third time, but you’ll find yourself saying.. “oh yeah, oh yeah this one too!”

How Do You Think It Feels is a great laid back driver, with some Kicks style Lou vox going on. Caroline Says I is a pretty raucous, loosely based version of VU song Stephanie Says, which receives its full tribute in Caroline Says II. Men of Good Fortune is another Reedy classic receiving the Berlinesque operatic treatment. All together it’s one weird record, but a perfect Lou Reed experience, it’s really what he should have been up to all along. Transformer for the pizza party, Berlin for the doped up after-hours party.

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mp3: Sad Song

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The Everly Brothers “Roots”

Roots

Back in 1968, if you were an Everly fan, you probably would have thought the Brothers had ‘sold out’ when Roots was released. Though they recorded plenty a pop wonder, this return to the music of their childhood and new sway into contemporary sounds at once was a bold move. Today, it serves as an easy introduction for fans less tuned to the early 60’s Ev’s, and it will always stand as one of the most important country rock records ever.

It opens with a delightful introduction from Ma and Pa Everly, explaining just how young their talented youngsters really are: “and we gonna play and sing you some songs, neighbors… family style, also country style.” By the time Mama Tried jolts in you’ll understand this record. The playing is clean, smooth, and country. There are hints of experimentation and collage throughout the record and the arrangements both pay tribute and give new life to these songs.

Fair tribute to the similar sounding late Beau Brummels is paid, the Everlys covering Ron Elliot’s Turn Around from Bradley’s Barn and the relaxed Ventura Boulevard. Also of note is that Ron Elliott was in the studio, overseeing production of Roots, which also accounts for the similarity in sound. On Roots, the Everly Brothers managed to put an entirely new sound on Shady Grove and T For Texas while at the same time doing their damndest to establish modern songwriters with the new country-rock standards they had written. As always, their harmonies are great.

There’s a non-country gem on this record that stands out a bit, it’s an early Randy Newman tune entitled Illinois that anyone lucky enough to be living in that fine City of Chicago needs to have on hand. (Looks like this site has it).

The Everly’s had always been combining country music and pop. With Roots, maybe they didn’t invent country-rock, but they cut their definitive statement on it, and from all the groups who were experimenting with this new sound and style, they were probably the most qualified.

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“Turn Around”

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Big Boy Pete “World War IV”

World War IV

Big Boy Pete is your quintessential slice of lost psych. Or is he? Re-releasing a string of solid material from the 60s in the late 90s and 2000s, “Big Boy” Pete Miller’s prolific and good quality works have caused some archivists to wonder. Yes, I have heard some people claim that Pete Miller’s stuff is fake.

But regardless of whether Big Boy Pete’s music was recorded back in the day, or in a home studio by a modern-day-super-psych-fan, his works have been accepted as psychedelic standards. World War IV, recorded in the late 60s and released in 2000, is a strange and interesting album. Most of the other Pete Miller works, found on the Catatonia collections and Summerland have a breezier, poppier thing going on. WWIV is a whole ‘nother story. Well, it’s certainly meant as a story, but I have never been able to follow it. A “Symphonic Poem” indeed.

But the sounds here are nice. Pete loves his guitars (definitely check out his home on the web here!) and there are some great fuzz rhythms and bass lines throughout. Some catchy moments but definitely not enough to DJ a party. Well, I guess that depends on how you like to party. Overall, I just have to mention that this is pure, pure psychedelia. Give it a run when you are in the mood for that.

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“Movement 4 (Echelon)”

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Frank Zappa “We’re Only In It For The Money”

We’re Only In It For The Money

Not everybody has the time and/or interest to invest in collecting the entire Frank Zappa discography, but if you are interested in rock music enough to be here, reading this, you need to at least acquaint yourself with this album.

The original album cover shown above really says it all. For The Money is Zappa’s thesis statement on the music culture surrounding him during the summer of love. It goes something like this: “every town must have a place where phony hippies meet, psychedelic dungeons popping up on every street.”

Yet, when I listen to this album, I don’t hear biting, social satire, as so many reviewers will mention. Yes it’s there, but how can I concentrate on the lyrics when there is a such an astounding musical arrangement. Zappa’s mastery of the studio is evident in every millisecond of sound; drum toms, orchestral instrumentation, clean treble guitar chords and melodies, sped up vocals, saxophone fills, and affected tape samples combine to create an unimaginable, indescribable sound.

The record is a fantastic journey and I never get tired of taking it. It’s funny too, after a few listens, once you start to get used to FZ’s humor. It is important to remember that Frank Zappa was a classical composer that merely used the pop music of the day to paint his own picture. He was an accomplished genius whose hardest drug was a cigarette. All of his work is superb, though the early Mothers stuff is the best, and this one is cream of the crop, unlike any other.

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“Who Needs The Peace Corps”

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The Bonzo Dog Band “Cornology”

Cornology

If you are a fan of British humor, Monty Python, John Cleese & Fawlty Towers and all that stuff, than I highly highly highly highly highly highly highly highly HIGHLY highly highly highly highly recommend recommend. I’ll repeat that, highly recommend that you check out THE BONZO DOG BAND.

It’s the subtlety, I think, that makes these bits of dialogue, silly orchestrations, and bizarre lyrics and song topics so growingly hilarious. It’s better with each listen, and I can’t recommend recommend enough that you try this one out on a road trip (where more than one person is actually listening intently to an album, for once). For, although the Bonzo music is incredibly rockingly satisfying, to fully appreciate the experience their discography requires your complete, complying, curfew-denying, centered and well-mentored concentric concentration.

Ok, well that’s enough of that. My attempt at wit just doesn’t find par with these vaudevillian joke meisters. But my point is, we don’t just have humor here. The Monty Python albums, uproarious as they are, don’t suit casual, real-life listening. The Bonzo albums on the other hand, hilarious as they can indeed be, will fail to spoil the delicate hipness of your careful being. Though the mp3 below is a classic, it was hard to choose one, as these tunes vary between brilliantly witty, insanely catchy, and psychedelically rocking.

If you have read this far, then I recommend you just dive in deep and purchase the 3-CD boxset, Cornology. You’ll get everything you need from the band who so luckily pulled off a guest spot in The Beatles’ Magical Mystery Tour movie performing a song that modern wonder group Death Cab For Cutie payed tribute to, borrowing its title for their bandname.

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“My Pink Half Of The Drainpipe”

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The Who “Sell Out”

Sell Out

I often wish I had a chance to go back and rediscover the discographies from some of the classic groups, namely The Kinks, The Boys and The Who! Discovering Who Sell Out for the first time is a dearly missed experience.

If you are one of the lucky ones without any early Who albums, you are going to have a magnificent time checking out My Generation and A Quick One, but you will probably have the most fun with Sell Out.

The tunes on this concept album are linked with wonderful PAMS Radio London jingles and ad spoofs that are just as memorable as the tunes themselves. Although, it’s hard to compete with the scorching I Can See For Miles. Something about the way this song is framed here really makes it cook compared to hearing it on the radio or a Who’s best of.

Other fun bits include scattered musical hints of the masterpiece rock opera to be, Tommy, a Townshend-led version of Hall Of The Mountain King, and a good bunch of songs that make a perfect full-listen when you’ve got the time.

It’s available at a stunningly low price at the link below and comes in a nicely remastered package. Buy what The Who sells! You won’t regret it.

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“Odorono”

It’s Smooth Sailing With The Highly Successful Sound Of Wonderful Radio London

The Who - The Who Sell Out

The Beach Boys “Pet Sounds”

Pet Sounds

I’ll be honest with you here. Nobody is reading this web-log today. It doesn’t even really exist. I’m the only one who knows about it and I’m just, sort-of, trying it on. The only reason I’m presenting this, the most classic and essential of all great rock albums, is to test out the site and make it look like there’s something here.

The Beach Boys - Pet Sounds

Please Buy Pet Sounds If You Don’t Already Have It

The Pretty Things “S.F. Sorrow”

SF Sorrow

“She Says Good Morning”

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The Pretty Things - S.F. Sorrow

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THIS IS THE FIRST POST.