Howe Gelb with the Voices of Praise gospel choir.
Photo by Will Desjardins.
Howe Gelb with the Voices of Praise gospel choir.
Photo by Will Desjardins.
I hate to ever have to make any kind of list, but especially a list of favorite records. It makes no sense to me. The end.
This was the soundtrack when I was 14 years old and playing pin ball in the back room of a local pizza joint, this record solidly delivered us to the age of 15.
When I could finally figure what I liked about the sound of my favorite records, this one has stood up through out the test of time.
Fresh from the ratty wonderment of â€˜exile on main streetâ€™ and blessed with the cranky precision of a tight tape cutting scenario by producer jimmy miller, which apparently pissed off keef somewhat. But how else could those pulsing horns be added to such severely yippity jams ?
Other luminous textures:
The tucking mix of low volume lead vocals to keep you leaning in for the lyrics that seldom reveal themselves. The understated drum mix that magically delivers the foot stomp in melding distorted guitar strum.
2 more things:
Working with jim dickinson in 1998, he explained how he was put in the hot seat to play the piano on â€˜wild horsesâ€™ because gram parsons was a no-show and ian stewartâ€™s refusal to never play any song in a minor key. Jim explained that he had to tack up the few notes that were in tune with the guitars in play and resorted in only being able to play along with such minimal chordings.
And an odd evening with marriane faithful at a small gather in her new york digs whilst she be wearing an â€œI fucked mick jaggerâ€ t-shirt, mentioning her unnoted writing credit to â€˜sister morphineâ€™.
Sheer dazzle and glee with every listen to this day since its release in 1971. It had held me there then and still has me held here now, way up in the future.
Then a big flood came and smashed that pizza parlor juke box in 1972.
The end again.
- - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - –
2 albums for
THE THELONIOUS MONK ORCHESTRA
- LIVE AT TOWN HALL
Record (a), released in 1959, is the fodder that should fill the funeral proceedings whence I be laid to rest,
â€¦please and thank you.
There is such a vital warmth to this recording.
Like the humidity in the room then seeps out from the speakers now when you spin it.
It has the lush sound of a band that had been touring together for some time, as well as introducing charlie rouse to top off the chemistry in full flow.
The most curious element is the mysteriously edited version of â€œtheloniousâ€, a teaser that clocks in at about a minute.
Which brings us to record (b), released in 1983, is a collection of unissued material that includes the full version of â€œtheloniousâ€ from that night in town hall, complete with some clues in the liner notes as to why it was originally shortened. Apparently there was something in the piano solo that bothered monk.
But listening to it now, after being found and rescued from the vaults, grants a very interesting look into the mind of the man. You sit there listening for clues to what might have disturbed him about the track, and you become filled with delight in playing that game.
- – - – - – -
NEIL YOUNG AND CRAZY HORSE
- EVERYBODY KNOWS THIS IS NOWHERE
Itâ€™s not the songs so much, just the sound of the record that has stuck with me. His guitar was the guitar that inoculated me to ever play guitar. I originally thought it was the filtertron pick-ups in his gretsch guitar. But then it seems he played an old black les paul with an added gretsch pick-up in it that was not a filtertron. So I donâ€™t know. But there is that style of playing that stuck to me. Even his acoustic guitar has a signature thump to his thud of strum. And that voice. It all sounds like a man who will not be denied. Ok then. Released in 1969, but didnâ€™t find me till 1971, right there along with the stones.
Many years later when I heard Xâ€™s billy zoom play live with his gretsch, I was then hooked forever. That gretsch sound still delivers me the same zoom and young feeling. The end.
- - – - – - – -
- ASCENSEUR POUR Lâ€™ECHAFAUD
In my opinion, this record is the true sound of the desert. This record got played over and over when I lived in the middle of nowhere. The sound of it would float the day away out there in joshua tree land.
It has one song on it that gets reworked and revamped, and just played over and over again. It makes so much sense. It is an extreme source of comfort whenever I hear it. I would even take it with me on tour alone and shove into one of the songs I would be playing live on stage. I would invite it into the set by hooking up my cd player on stage with me. Released in 1958, but has never yet released me.
- - – - – - – - –
- ALPACA LIPS
Rainer and I seperately moved to tucson in 1972. We found each other there in 1976. He died in 1997.
After he was gone we stumbled upon this record he made. It was completely finished and sequenced, but he never got around to releasing it then because of a sudden seizure that revealed a cancerous brain tumor.
In the 20 months between his first and last seizure, he was not his old self. He had to learn to play guitar all over again. Many new and great songs got written up during this time, but he must have completely forgot about this record through it all. When we found it we were astonished. It is such a perfect record. Like most of his recordings, it sounds impressively better with every year that passes.
It also has one of the most exceptional songs ever written: â€˜story tellerâ€™. It tells the tale of boy who finds some hidden letters to his father, and as you follow the story line, the narration then flips around on the last verse to reveal a sudden twist. It is stunning.
Rainer had perfected a unique recording style with a single stereo mic that could capture his voice and his singular performing style, playing his 1934 national guitar off of a primitive digital effects pedal he would set up to impossibly captured rhythms of himself he instantly looped.
The last track on the album was the only time he ever recorded one of my songs. I had no idea. I crumbled.
This record is a monument to the manâ€™s momentum.
Released in 1998, itâ€™s the living end.
- – – - –
Itâ€™s very important to know a man can come up with his best work in his 60s, regardless of how outstanding his output was when he was a young man in the 60s. He has finally found the sonic trust to record with his touring band. His offhanded lyrical delivery is as deeply effective as ever, and his sense of rhythm is a mesh of the borrowed and a sheen of the evolved. It is infinitely freshly mesmerizing upon every listen, like a master craftsman we needed him to be, made all the more emblazoned by his credo of never listening to his own records. Released in 2006.
I came face to face with him twice so far, and could not ask him for absolutely anything more then that.
Not even a hello.
- – — -
- â€˜SNO ANGEL LIKE YOU
What the hell.
This is a favorite record of mine for the sheer audacity of it. At least for the celebration of happenstance within the whispering voice that manages to disallow it never not to happen. And also because I do not want to call the people that love this record a bunch of liars. Whatever. I am not dylan, so I can listen to my own recordings, and I can tell you I am never sure how they ever really came about. But now on the back end of this one, I am happy with its impossible yip and could not have figured it out prior to the stumble of its existence. Just drag me along for the ride.
Released in 2006, I think.
- - – - – - – - –
-LET IT DIE
I first met leslie at a festival in spain with her partner gonzales years ago. It was apparent then there was something smoldering in her, a smoke from a future fire. He was a brilliant pianist and she was a startling singer with an endearing marching dance on stage.
This record now gets played every available moment in our house for its sheer exuberance. Released in 2006 â€¦or 2005. I canâ€™t remember. But it shrewdly harkens back to captain and Tennille and some original elements of disco. Maybe a bit of leo sayer too. The production is what we used to call â€œtastyâ€, and leslieâ€™s voice is something to finally fall for.
Long live feistâ€¦
and her producer too.
- - – - – - –
This record should have been put way up on the list, but since I hate doing lists, it is number 9 by contrasting incident. And I think he would have wanted feist to go first anyway, ever the gentleman. Canâ€™t explain # 7 however.
Anyhow, this record stands up the way the dylan record does, only different. The best is yet to keep coming.
I been listening to the man since his first one back in 76.
This one being released in 2006 makes it 30 years put in.
Not bad. He finally is as old as he always wanted to sound.
Regardless of the bulk of material, this record is stuck on this list for just the delivery of a song like â€œroad to peaceâ€.
-THE RISE AND FALL OF ZIGGY STARDUST AND THE SPIDERS FROM MARS
This record can not be celebrated enough. It came out when I was about 15, in 1972, just as the flood waters were about to hit. These songs sounded impossible to me then and still do now. The chords in â€œrock and roll suicideâ€ is the stuff of dreams. The sax playing is way way underated. But the most impressive point is the overall sound and mix. No one has ever made a record this good. I heard a rumor one time that bowie left the studio, and engineer ken scott mixed it all. kind of hard to believe, but he has never sounded like that in the studio before or since. A fantastic magical moment of american music that was made in England. Best not to forget that hank williams, the true father of glam rock, was the first david bowie.
This record needs to be moved up to the number one position now, and let the stones deal with it.
-ANYTHING HE HAS EVER DONE
AND ALL THAT HE HAS YET TO DO.
I am just discovering the music of tom ze, and I can not get enough. Whatever I hear of the man sounds fresh and great no matter how old it is. It is laced with brazilian rhythms and fantastic contrasting horn blasts and sounds that emerge and disembark and diverge and disembowel.
It is very impressive music. And very fun.
The end can be fun too.