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Top 5 40-year old tunes

If you’re celebrating your 40th wedding anniversary this year, congrats!

To mark the occasion, according to wikipedia, this is your ruby anniversary.  A gladiolus would be the appropriate flower to give your spouse or considering you’re acknowledging 4 decades of marriage, I’d suggest splurging and making it gladioli.

Here are 5 of my favourite tunes that also happen to be celebrating their ruby anniversary:

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5. Uncle Salty, Aerosmith
Now I wouldn’t necessarily suggest putting this on an anniversary mixtape.  Though many wince at the thought of Aerosmith’s mixtape-bound ballads of the 90s, few complain (and nor should they) about Toys in the Attic.  It Rocks.

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4. Born to Run, Bruce Springsteen
Born to Run‘s title track is delightfully over the top.  This cover with 2 Springsteens might be even better.

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3. Tangled Up In Blue, Bob Dylan
A friend of mine once said this would be his answer if someone put a gun to his head, demanding to know his favourite song.  Should I find myself in a similar situation with an inquisitive gunman, I don’t know if I’d be able to answer coherently, but hopefully saying the Blood on the Tracks opener would prevent the spilling of, well, the album name.

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2. Kashmir, Led Zeppelin
When I polled the blogging world last year, Houses of the Holy was declared the finest LZ album (though curiously absent from the 1001 list).  Physical Graffiti ended up in the bronze medal position but its strongest track gets the upgrade to silver here.

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1. ’39, Queen
Favourite track, from my favourite Queen record, named after one of my favourite movies.  And I’m working on a punchline about ’39 turning 40 this year, still a work in progress at time of clicking publish.

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Inspired by the recent Internationally Significant, Semi-synchronized posts by Vinyl Connection & 1537, I’ve decided to venture back to ’75 as well.

David Bowie & Neil Young will make appearances over the next few days, enjoy!

ABC – The Lexicon of Love (1982)

[Album 372/1001]ABC-Lexicon

I’m always on the lookout for music references that I can bring into my high school classes.

For example, the standard form of a line is written in the form Ax+By+C=0.

Can you guess which Jackson 5 song I play to introduce this format (though at least one student inevitably guesses I Want You Back)?

Now I haven’t tried it (yet), but I’d anticipate hearing the sound of crickets if I said, “OK, this time let’s write the equation using a format not unlike the group who recorded the 1982 album, The Lexicon of Love, which of course is…*tumbleweed rolling*”

Which of course is a shame as this ABC record is an ambitious, impressive debut.

I try to use the song of the day at the beginning of each class as an initial hook; if my lesson intro gets a student’s attention, they’re more likely to stay tuned.

The intro to Show Me certainly reeled me in with the glossy strings, the bold horns, and the delicious bass pattern.  Consequently, my attention was easily maintained for the remainder of the record.

Although listening to the LP was fun, it would have been even better to see them perform the entire record alongside a live orchestra, as they did in 2009.

The production is slick, yet satisfying.  I’ve since learned the producer Trevor Horn has been credited with “inventing the 80s.”  Although some might consider that to be a blemish on a CV, I’d say it’s quite a compliment!

As the 80s can have that polarizing effect, I’d imagine listener reaction to The Lexicon of Love is probably divided based on genre preferences.

If the term ‘new wave’ is considered a bad word in your musical vocabulary (or lexicon if you will), I doubt this album will single-handedly convert any non-believers.

However, if ‘new wave’ is loved within your musical lexicon (whaddya mean it’s a wordplay stretch), ABC goes down easy as 1-2-3.

Haircut One Hundred – Pelican West (1982)

[Album 371/1001]220px-Pelican_West

Word association time.

I say Preppy, you think ___________.

Did you say Zack Morris?  If so, chances are we already get along just fine.*

I try to avoid judging books by covers but considering the band name and youthful, often sweater-clad band members, it seemed like the style was an important part of the Pelican West package.

On the front cover at least, none of the six members opted for the sweater tied-around-the-shoulders-look.  Regardless, if I’m not mistaken, the term ‘preppy’ was and would continue to be an appropriate style description of the lads in Haircut One Hundred (H100).  Without meaning to be overly insulting or complimentary, the gentleman on the top left looks like he could have been Zack’s cool, older British cousin on a bottle episode of Saved By The Bell (SBTB).

Pelican West actually reminded me a bit of the appeal of SBTB: it was instantly accessible, feel-good fun.  Just like I prefer SBTB in self-contained episodes, H100 is effective in half-hour-ish installments like this one.  Those who grew up with H100 were probably quite pleased when the group recently reunited, much like the buzz that inevitably accompanies SBTB retrospectives.

Finally, Pelican West sounds & looks like the 80s, but holds up well.

Much like Zack Morris in this video from 2009 – still, remarkably I might add, looking & sounding exactly like he did decades ago!

http://www.wimp.com/zackmorris/

(YouTube alas did not deliver a decent quality video, apparently wimp.com is now the destination for hidden world wide web gems)

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* I briefly contemplated a follow-up association, I say AC, you say _____.  Although I immediately jumped to ‘Slater,’ I realized I overlooked AC (lightning bolt) DC, Air Conditioning, and Alternating Current among other logical options…I began to question my life choices that led to Mario Lopez’s acid-washed jeans reaching top-of-the-mind-awareness and decided to relegate the 2nd word association game to this long-winded footnote.

Kate Bush – The Dreaming (1982)

[Album 370/1001]Kate_Bush_The_Dreaming_Cover

True/False: Girls Rule, Boys Drool.

Answer: Partially true.

I can neither confirm nor deny the latter but, as I’ve learned over the last few years, the former is most definitely true.

In November 2011, my music collection could be described as, to borrow a Conan O’Brien boy band skit, Dudez-a-Plenti.

I might have had the odd Diana Krall or Tori Amos CD but the gender inequality gap was enormous.

Since then, my music collection male/female ratio has improved considerably & I couldn’t be more pleased with many of the recent additions.

To list but a few:

There are of course, the formidable front-women from The Pretenders, Blondie, and Fairport Convention.

Throw in spectacular solo artists like k.d. lang, Missy Elliott, Gillian Welch, and Norah Jones.  Even with just that septet, it’s hard to say that girls do anything less than rule.

Finally, perhaps my favourite female of them all, Kate Bush.

I can see why people aren’t fans.  The Dreaming is undeniably out there.

I’d argue she’s like Bowie in that I’d call her a ‘niche’ artist: much like Ziggy, I adore her stuff but I don’t think I’d want to listen to anyone else attempting something comparable.

There’s a great line from Seinfeld where Kramer exclaims, “I’m out there Jerry and I’m loving every minute of it.”

Now, the context here could not be more different!

But a slight paraphrasing of the quote sums up my feelings nicely:  The Dreaming is out there and I’m loving every minute of it.

(My) Top 5 LPs of ’82

Considering I was less than a year old for much of the year, I don’t have an overwhelming amount of new music memories from 1982.

Since then, however, I’ve quite enjoyed collecting LPs from my first complete calendar year on Earth.

With a few reviews of 1982 records on tap for the week ahead, for now, here are 5 faves from my personal collection:

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5. ABC, The Lexicon of Love
I should note these aren’t necessarily the 5 best albums as I haven’t even listened to this one in its entirety yet!  It was a recent find, a 1001 list item, and if one can judge a book by its cover & first few tracks, I’m intrigued by the rest of this one.

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4. Haircut One Hundred, Pelican West
Much like the Zutons & the Boss, any band with a full time sax player has my stamp of approval.

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3. Kate Bush, The Dreaming
Maybe not as strong as Hounds of Love or The Sensual World but of the ones I own, she’s 3 for 3 so far.

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And no #2 this time…as there is an unprecedented tie for #1!

Here’s why.

Every 16 years, the world gets caught up in some sort of craze.

Last year, in 2014, we all (myself included) suddenly felt compelled to dump buckets of ice on ourselves.

In 1998, swing dance music momentarily stormed (or perhaps jived) its way back to the mainstream.

What eccentricities did we embrace in 1982?

Did you say male pop stars posing seductively in their LP centerfolds?!

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To properly acknowledge the recurring 16-year pattern of curious crazes, #1a and #1b on the list could only go to Michael Jackson’s Thriller and Lionel Richie’s Lionel Richie respectively.

How does one choose a victor?  Bonus marks for the moustache?  Tie goes to the baby tiger?  Blogging friends, I’ll leave it in your capable hands!

The Who – My Generation (1965)

[Album 369/1001]220px-My-Generation--1965

“Why don’t you all just fade away”
– The aging ladies man, Rex Manning, from Empire Records

At the time, this struck me as an odd exit line.  Initially, being a 90s movie about a fictitious music store, I thought it was a nod to Kurt Cobain (whose non-fiction exit line I later learned was a Neil Young reference).

I wouldn’t be surprised if Rex’s line was intended as a tip of the hat to the title track heard here.  In The Who’s case, it makes for a terrific verse-opening lyric, especially with the drawn out fff-fade.

The more I think about it, the more I like the line.  It starts off so aggressively, “why don’t you just,” it feels like it would escalate into something violent.  But then, encouraging the recipient to, “just fade away,” is a brilliant anti-climatic curve; in a confrontation, there’s no comeback for that!

In the spirit of the current movie awards season, a 1001-project ‘Most Improved’ award.

My nominee for (the chattily titled) “artist that’s grown on me the most since the start of the 1001 project” is…well, I’d gone off Nirvana but their 3 listed entries won me back.  Neil Young would also be a contender, as I’ve come close to a full 180 degrees there.

Both, however, have temporarily been leapfrogged by The Who.

In 2011, I didn’t really get their appeal; I wasn’t offended, but I wasn’t a fan.

After Live at Leeds, I started to change my tune.  Following The Who Sell Out, I joined the fan club.

I liked Who’s Next but it didn’t speak to me in the same way.

My Generation however, that’s what I’m talkin’ ’bout!

It appears I prefer the less grandiose version of The Who.  It’s difficult to pinpoint but there’s something very appealing about their mid-60s sound.

Though this album shouldn’t be confused with being just another British Invasion record.  In fact, the lyrics to A Legal Matter, “And not work all day in an office just to bring my money back to you, Sorry, baby,” sound more like a group that’s determined to distance themselves from A Hard Day’s Night.

So instead of Beatle parallels, with The Who I have perhaps, perpendicular(?), opinions about their chronology.

Whereas I live for late-career Beatle records, early Who albums, like My Generation, are the ones for me.

Good Idea Borrowing & Review Sharing

Mike & Aaron had fun posts today about cassette singles (conveniently condensed to cassingles) and they inspired me to dig through my collection.

I use the term dig loosely; cassettes are still lovingly played ’round here.

Though the singles much less so.  Here’s what I could find on my search.*

Nothing like a romantic evening by the fire with 15 cassingles.  Considering cassette singles are being employed to set the mood, perhaps this will be nothing like a romantic evening!

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I’ve probably mentioned this in the comments section before but it’s worth repeating in post form:

If you’ve already written about any of the albums I review, I practically insist you post a link to your review in the comments section.  It’s neat to hear different takes on the same record and it’s fun (for me at least) to compare & contrast my thoughts with what other music fans have experienced.

With only 633 albums remaining, I thought I ought to formally extend the invite again before we run out of chances. :D

So get those links to The Who’s My Generation ready, it’s up next!

* The cassingle collection includes:

Bryan Adams – (Everything I Do) I Do it For You, in the obligatory Robin Hood case
The Cure – A Letter to Elise, Never Enough, High
The Cranberries – Dreams
Unopened singles from Five Easy Pieces & INXS
Corey Hart – Baby When I Call Your Name
R.E.M. – Drive, Man on the Moon
U2 – The Fly, Disappear
Treble Charger – Maybe it’s Me sampler
Shakespear’s Sister – Stay, so pleased to find this
And the only overlap with Aaron &/or Mike?  Aaron and I are both proud owners of Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation!

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