Tuesday, May 26, 2009

OPINION: The Old Hippies Music Review

B.B. King B.B. King via last.fm

The Old Hippies Music Review by Jim William

Well of course I mustn't tell the little lady's age, but we've been married almost 40 years. Some subtraction reveals the musical era that she and I grew up in. We didn't make it to Woodstock but did get to go to a 3 day music festival at Goose Lake, Michigan in the summer of 1970.

Details are a little foggy, because the promoters announced "Do Not Take The Brown Mescaline!" a few minutes too late for me. One of the biggest disappointments, other than the bad psychedelics, was that one of the best English blues groups, Savoy Brown, was a no-show.

The good news was Ten Years After, The James Gang and Jethro Tull were there, and dozens of other super, famous groups. The wife and I were music buffs then and now. In the summer of '66, when I woke up in the hospital with nothing much to do (except to eat Seconal for pain), I teethed on "The Pied Piper", "Sweet Pea", "Summer In The City", "I Saw Her Again Last Night".

I think I also fell in love there for the first time but I never saw that princess again - well maybe once. My future wife knew her first love about the same time and she also had a second love, the Beatles. She got to go to their concerts in 1968 and 1969. She probably couldn't hear the singing for the screaming but it had a lifelong effect on her nonetheless. So I'd say 1966 was about the beginning of our musical travels.

Over the years our eventual accrual of LPs, CDs and tapes has reached over 600 collectibles. Unfortunately (or fortunately from my point of view) my family's music taste got stuck in the 1960's and 1970's. I tell myself that this is not unnatural. We have advanced just a little bit into the following three decades. The following are the best plays in the collection and consciousness of an opinionated couple.

Hopefully every musical taste is present:

Judy Collins - Recollections (Elektra, 1969)
Bob Dylan - Blood On The Tracks (Columbia, 1975)
Beatles - White Album (Apple, 1968)
Grateful Dead - American Beauty (Warner Bros, 1970)
Rolling Stones - Let It Bleed (London, 1969)
Janis Joplin - Pearl (Columbia, 1971)
Spirit - The 12 Dreams Of Dr. Sardonicus (Epic, 1970)
Rod Stewart - Every Picture Tells A Story (Mercury, 1971)
Bob Marley and The Wailers - Legend (Island, 1984)
Pink Floyd - The Wall (Columbia, 1979)
Paul Simon - Graceland (Warner Bros., 1986)
Patsy Cline - 12 Greatest Hits (MCA, 2003)
Johnny Cash - American IV/The Man Comes Around (American, 2003)
Stevie Ray Vaughn & Double Trouble - The Real Deal: Greatest Hits Vol. 2 (Epic, 1999)
Abigail Washburn - Song Of The Traveling Daughter (Nettwerk, 2005).

Out of so many decisions the girl and I only agree on fifteen. So she is half wrong on the next seven. She likes "Are You Experienced?" by The Jimi Hendrix Experience but I prefer "Axis, Bold As Love".

I love Leo Kottke's "6 & 12 String Guitar" but she prefers "Greenhouse".
She loves the great Tom Waits extravaganza "Orphans", but "Rain Dogs" is a little better for me.
She likes The Traveling Wilburys' Vol 3, I prefer Vol. 1.
As for Bruce Springsteen, she likes "Born In The U.S.A." and I like "The Rising" better.
Her favorite Led Zeppelin album is the first, I prefer the varied compilation "Early Days & Later Days".
Of course her Fleetwood Mac pick "Rumours" is not close to "Then Play On", even though the group is the same on these two selections in name only.

Now female and male opinions diverge completely. The rest of HER picks are (PFFFFFT):

The Concert For Bangladesh, Blessed Are... by Joan Baez
Quarter Moon In A Ten Cent Town by Emmy Lou Harris
Against The Wind by Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band
Bridge Over Troubled Water by Simon & Garfunkel
Moondance by Van Morrison
Belladonna by Stevie Nicks
Angel Band by (OH NO NOT) Emmy Lou Harris again
Brave & Crazy by Melissa Etheridge
The Principle Of Moments by Robert Plant
Running On Empty by Jackson Browne

The rest of my picks are:

Disraeli Gears by Cream
The Doors' first album
Rides Again by The James Gang
Lola Versus Powerman And The Moneygoround by The Kinks
Waiting For Columbus by Little Feat
The Inner Mounting Flame by The Mahavishnu Orchestra
Uncle Meat by The Mothers of Invention
Shine On Brightly by Procol Harum
The Joshua Tree by U2
Recycling The Blues & Other Related Stuff by Taj Mahal
Shady Grove by Jerry Garcia & David Grisman
The Eminem Show by Eminem
and any "Best of" Beethoven

My copy happens to be put out on the Metacom label.


"Idiot Wind" - Bob Dylan
"Piece Of My Heart" - Big Brother & The Holding Company
"Mother" - Pink Floyd
"No Woman No Cry" - Bob Marley
"Closer To Fine" - Indigo Girls
"Hard Rain" - Bob Dylan
"Willow" - Joan Armatrading
"Talkin' About A Revolution" - Tracy Chapman
"Sugaree" - Jerry Garcia
"River" - Joni Mitchell
"Boulder To Birmingham" - Emmy Lou Harris
"Hello In There" - John Prine
"Anchorage" - Michelle Shocked
"Bridge Over Troubled Water" - Simon & Garfunkel
"Red, Red Wine" - UB40
"Shine A Light" - Rolling Stones
"Too Far From Texas" - Stevie Nicks
"Strong Enough" - Sheryl Crow
"Who Will Save Your Soul?" - Jewel
"Into The Fire" - Bruce Springsteen
"Let It Slip Away" - John Hiatt
"Tears In Heaven" - Eric Clapton
"Trouble Me" - 10,000 Maniacs
"She's A Mystery" - Roy Orbison
"Oh Happy Day" by The Edwin Hawkins Singers

Some of those singles I can see are not too bad, but I can do better. My taste in music is so ancient that not all of the recording labels mentioned are still in existence. Elektra is a now dormant subsidiary of Warner Bros. which itself is now a subsidiary of Sony. The Rolling Stones' London label is now managed by Polydor. MCA has been absorbed by Geffen Records.

I have to mention the sound reproduction equipment I used in researching the survey. My primary speakers are as old as my marriage. They are Realistic Mach 1s (the good screw terminal #4024) and sound as good as the day they were born. I would be interested to know if many people still use these. They are unbelievable.

My secondaries are little Optimus 7 1/4 x 4 1/2 speaker enclosures with big sound. I use a Yamaha turntable with Audio-technica cartridge. My CD changer is Optimus. My digital synthesized receiver is also an Optimus which is a Radio Shack brand. Realistic was the ancient Radio Shack brand. I can see people snickering but it is good stuff at a good price for the most part, although I am not enamored of the cd changer. The double cassette deck I use is a Teac.

Picks for the best guitarists, lyricists, & vocalists (as these categories define rock) are.........


HERS: Leo Kottke, Jimi Hendrix (this amazing talent could play his instrument with his teeth), Jerry Garcia, Alvin Lee, Stevie Ray Vaughn
HIS: Same except Frank Zappa instead of Garcia


HERS: Lennon & McCartney, Bob Dylan (nee Zimmerman, who will be recorded in history as one of the 20th century's great poet's), Bruce Springsteen, Janis Joplin, Eric Clapton
HIS: Tom Waits, Keith Reid (wrote for Procol Harem), Marshall Mathers (aka Eminem), Dylan & Springsteen


HERS: Janis Joplin, Mick Jagger, Emmy Lou Harris, John Lennon, Bruce Springsteen
HIS: Jagger, Johnny Cash, Jerry Garcia, Tom Waits, Alan (Blind Owl) Wilson. Blind Owl's voice is the antithesis of Tom Waits's. Even though Bob (The Bear) Hite was technically Canned Heat's lead singer, Al sang their most famous song.

That's a good lead in for THE ACTUAL 25 BEST SONGS OF ALL TIME (in my opinion), as "On The Road Again" is one of 'em. Then there's:

"Rattlesnake Shake" - (original) Fleetwood Mac
"Trouble Comin' Every Day" - Mothers of invention
"Alcohol" - Kinks
"The Thrill Is Gone" - B B King
"Louis Collins" - Garcia/Grisman
"Lose Yourself" - Eminem
"Wang Dang Doodle" - Koko Taylor
"Graceland" - Paul Simon
"Well Intentioned Blues" - Guest/Horowitz (National Lampoon)
"Darlin' If" - Spirit
"Tusk" - Fleetwood Mac
"Yellow Moon" - Neville Bros
"Tango Till They're Sore" - Tom Waits
"Voodoo Child" - Stevie Ray Vaughn
"Star Spangled Banner" - Jimi Hendrix
"Hurt" - Johnny Cash
"Strawberry Fields Forever" - Beatles
"Cry Baby" - Janis Joplin
"Love In Vain" - Rolling Stones
"Unsquare Dance" - Dave Brubeck
"Visions Of Johanna" - Bob Dylan
"Nebraska" - Bruce Springsteen

and I agree with the lady on "Oh Happy Day" & "Willow".

Sadly many of the great stars mentioned have passed on. Janis Joplin, who I think is the greatest female blues vocalist of all time, died from too much Southern Comfort and heroin at the age of 27. That is one of music's great tragedies. Likewise the booze and drugs did in Jim Morrison of The Doors before he reached the age of 30. Frank Zappa died from prostate cancer. He was an absolute genius. Jerry Garcia & Roy Orbison had heart attacks. The great blues artists BB King & Koko Taylor are gone. Bob Marley died from brain cancer. The great country singer Patsy Cline died too young (30) in a plane crash and another country icon, Johnny Cash had diabetes finish him. Stevie Ray Vaughn died in a helicopter disaster.

I don't think Ludwig Von is with us anymore. John Lennon was murdered by a crazy fan. Another Beatle and also a member of The Traveling Wilburys, George Harrison, died of cancer. The two lead singers for Canned Heat, Blind Owl & The Bear died young, both in 1970, Alan Wilson committing suicide. All 3 members of The Jimi Hendrix Experience are gone now, drummer "Mitch" Mitchell succumbing in late 2008. 3/5 of Spirit are dead (Ed Cassidy, Randy California, & keyboardist John Locke). John Bonham of Led Zeppelin choked on his vomit in 1980.

Fortunately many of the rest are still with us, making great tunes. How does Keith Richards keep going? I would have picked him to go 1st, not his bandmate Brian Jones (drowned). Thanks for listening to good music.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Jim_William


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