Not really a blog, but:
15 Albums -- a nearly impossible exercise
by Larry Evans on Sunday, August 29, 2010 at 3:51pm ·
The rules: Don't take too long to think about it. Fifteen albums you've heard that will always stick with you. List the first fifteen you can recall in no more than fifteen minutes. Tag fifteen friends, including me, because I'm interested in seeing what albums my friends choose.
15 albums off the top of your head Fast that mean a lot to you...
Do it and send to 15 people including me...
I came up with a list of more than 30 in about 8 minutes, and more than 50 others continued to occur to me as I attempted to pare the list back to 15 during the next 7 minutes. As a hardcore fan of both popular and art music (i.e., orchestral, chamber, etc.) as well as a music professional, I wasn't sure where to start . . . most influential on me? favorite compositional moments? favorite lyrics? Jesus tits, this is too much! Well, I am going to take the liberty -- and the time -- to write some commentary about the albums that appear on my list to give my friends some insight about what makes my metronome tick.
1. "Le Sacre du Printemps (The Rite of Spring)" by Igor Stravinsky, New York Philharmonic -- Leonard Bernstein, Conductor (Columbia Masterworks, 1958)
Larry's number one album is frickin' BALLET MUSIC?!?!?! What kind of snob is he?!? (This is not just any ballet music, mind you -- the Rite of Spring caused a riot at its 1913 premiere performance in Paris.) When I was 2-3 years old, my Mom sat me down in front of the record player (pre-stereo) and played music while she cleaned house. She really liked The Rite of Spring, probably due to its rhythmic intensity -- conductor Bernstein said of one passage "That page is sixty years old, but it's never been topped for sophisticated handling of primitive rhythms..."" Looking back as an adult, I'm reasonably certain that my youthful exposure to this album is the first and primary of the four proximate causes of this chronic disease that afflicts me -- I'm a music maniac.
2. "Live at the Apollo," James Brown & His Famous Flames (Polydor, 1963)
My mom gave birth to four boys over a period of ten years. I am the youngest, born in the last few hours of the year 1958. Mom employed a very kind lady who came in a few days per week to assist mom with taking care of us; in 1963 we ranged in age from 4 to 14. Her name was Mary, and she happened to be black. Mary liked to listen to a black-oriented radio station in Philadelphia, so I was exposed to a number of black artists (including the Motown sound) when they first happened. I particularly remember this one artist who screamed like a banshee over smokin' hot horn and rhythm sections -- James Brown. That was the second -- nearly fatal -- stroke against me.
3. "Peter, Paul and Mary" Peter, Paul & Mary (Warner Bros., 1962)
4. "Revolver," The Beatles (Capitol, 1966)
Albums 3 and 4 are representative of numerous albums by each artist. My oldest brother, Bob, went nuts over music as a teenager and started playing the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and many other 1960s artists over and over and over to me, also at the time they were happening. Before the Beatles broke in 1964, Bob would play his Peter, Paul and Mary albums for me -- which exposed me to masterful songwriting (e.g., Pete Seeger's "Where Have All the Flowers Gone?") and incredible vocal harmonies as a four year-old. A little later, I was singing along to "I wanna hold your hand" and "She loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah!" I always wondered why I knew almost all of the lyrics to Beatle songs despite not owning a single Beatles album until THIS YEAR!!! Bob, who passed away in 1997, grew up to be an arena sound engineer, and I grew up to be a music publisher and artist manager.
5." Quadrophenia," The Who (Track Records/MCA, 1973)
Quadrophenia was the first album I bought to start my personal vinyl album collection in 1973. Composition, composition and rocks like nobody's business.
6. "Tapestry," Carole King (Ode, 1971)
Songwriting that makes the earth move under your feet.
7. " Live from Deep in the Heart of Texas," Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen (MCA, 1974)
This album was recorded live at the Armadillo World Headquarters in 1973. Although I was not at this concert, I saw Commander Cody at the 'Dillo for the first time in 1974. Asleep at the Wheel was the opening act. This is the Austin -- then a sleepy college town of about 200,000 people -- that I remember! But they never threw me in jail for having too much fun, although maybe they should have. Pssst -- pass the dynamite, 'cause the fuse is lit!
8. "Water Bearer," Sally Oldfield (Bronze [U.K.], 1978)
Extraordinary percussion and vocals -- I love this woman's voice. This is one of my absolute favorite albums.
9. "Minstrel in the Gallery," Jethro Tull (Chrysalis, 1975)
One duck on my wall = nothing at all . . . This was the first of many Tull albums that came to mind; I was seriously into this band. I had a hard time deciding whether to include "Aqualung" (1971) or "Thick as a Brick" (1972), but Minstrel is the one that popped into my mind first.
10." Nocturnes," Frederic Chopin, performed by Claudio Arrau, piano (Philips, 1978)
These are tonal paintings for piano performed by Chilean concert pianist Arrau. If I have a favorite period in art and music, it would have to include the late Romance period transitioning through impressionism into modern classical -- musical composers Chopin, Claude Debussy, Gustav Mahler, Richard Strauss, Maurice Ravel, and Igor Stravinsky.
11. " Turn of the Cards," Renaissance (Sire, 1974)
I will always and forever be in love with the sound of Annie Haslam's voice, particularly on the track "Things I Don't Understand," which has a vocal riff in the middle that I still can't get out of my mind even though I haven't listened to this record in 20 years or more. This melding of art music and progressive rock some look at as being quite pretentious, and it may very well have contributed to spawning the reactionary punk rock scene that followed. Still, I admit to really liiking this album -- and punk rock, too. Hell, I even grew to like the trash disco music that sprung up around the same time once I learned to appreciate real musicianship over drum machines and computers.
12. "The Man Who Sold the World" David Bowie (RCA, 1970)
Rocks your ass off. I first saw Bowie on TV on the Midnight Special around 1973 in his Ziggy Stardust persona. There are so many Bowie albums I really, really like.
13. "Zero Time," Tonto's Expanding Headband (Atlantic, 1971)
Smoke 'til you can no longer function -- or drop a heroic dose of psychedelics -- and put on your headphones. This is one of the first -- and one of the best -- electronic synthesizer albums.
14. Talking Heads '77 (Sire, 1977)
Qu'est-ce que c'est ? This was the killer debut album by the Talking Heads -- it was hard to choose between this one and my other favorite Heads album, "Remain in Light."
15. "Boy," U2 (Island, 1980)
What the fuck was that? U2's debut album was completely different from anything else, and it has one of my favorite compositional passages in rock -- the Edge's spectacular ringing harmonic guitar work in the transition from the song "Anh Cat Dub" into the song "Into the Heart." Although U2's album "War" is probably my favorite, this is the album that launched U2.
O.K., there's my 15 and I haven't even gotten to the 1980s yet, nor have I scratched the surface of my rather weird collection of vinyl imports. Damn -- I even wanted to include (of all artists!) Cindy Lauper's "She's So Unusual" (Portrait, 1984) because of her vocal hook at the end of the song "All Through the Night," which is also one of my favorite musical moments of all time.
There are hundreds -- no, make that thousands -- more that could have been on my list all the way up to the present day.
So, good luck with this <grins maniacly=""></grins>
The first afflicting album -- look at the cover! No wonder that I'm as disturbed as I am.
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Shari O'Donnell Bowman Your summaries of the albums are as great as the choices themselves, old pal!
August 29, 2010 at 8:30pm · Like
Dana Jepson damn. you're good.
August 30, 2010 at 1:13pm · Like
Larry Evans Thanks for the compliments! There are so many artists I had wished I could include from so many eras, cultures and genres -- that's what made this list so difficult to compile -- and if I did it over, I'd probably have an almost completely different list!
August 30, 2010 at 5:58pm · Like
John Viehweg I've been trying to get down to even close to 15 a couple days already... I know, I am cheating :)
August 30, 2010 at 11:58pm · Like
Dana Jepson I"ve already made 4 more lists of 15 albums. I agree, it's totally unfair to limit it to 15, but it really makes you think doesn't it? And the fact that it's so hard says something about how much we know about music and how diverse our tastes are.
August 31, 2010 at 8:02am · Like
Timothy Abbott geez,Lars, you wrote a thesis here... !
October 6, 2010 at 12:40am · Like
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