Is there a quantifiable distinction, from piece to piece, that marks an album as worthy of being called a masterpiece? Is it the melody? The rhythm and groove? Or is it the statement buried within the lyrical subtext? Beyond that, is a masterwork simply a product of its time? A necessary snapshot of an instant, written in both sound and stone, or in this case, vinyl.
In his album Good Old Boys, Randy Newman does a masterful job describing the culture in the South during the 1970s. The 1974 recording satirically addresses issues of deep-seeded racism, xenophobia, middle-class lifestyles and stubbornness of people to make social change. Continue reading “Randy Newman – Good Old Boys”
Joan Baez’ 10th album, Any Day Now was released in 1968 and marked her return to the folk genre she had put aside for the two preceding albums. Baptism– which came out earlier that same year – was an album of both sung and spoken poetry, and 1967’s Joan contained folk renditions of pop and rock n’ roll songs by artists like John Lennon and Paul McCartney and Paul Simon. Continue reading “Joan Baez – Any Day Now”
In October 1974, Irish singer / songwriter Van Morrison released his 8th album, Veedon Fleece. This album came after “Morrison’s personal life took a turn in 1973 when he divorced his wife […] He spent months in Ireland reflecting on his life and expressing it by writing new material” (“Van Morrison.” Contemporary Musicians. Vol. 24. Detroit: Gale, 1999. Biography in Context. Web. 23 Oct. 2016.). The album consisted of a total of 10 songs. Continue reading “Van Morrison – Veedon Fleece”
It takes a great album to speak to the events of the time without using any lyrics while still being revered over five decaqdes after the initial release date. Herbie Hancock’s 1965 album Maiden Voyage does just that. In a time ravaged by racial and political tension, Hancock is able to parlay his skill in modal jazz into an album that is just as erratic as the time when it was released. Continue reading “Herbie Hancock – Maiden Voyage”
George Harrison refuted his status as “the quiet one” in his former band, The Beatles, once he introduced Living In The Material World. It was released in the United States on May 30, 1973, and a month later, on June 22, in the UK. The album was Harrison’s statement about the modern world. Continue reading “George Harrison – Living in the Material World”
There are few artists whose careers are so transcendent of stardom that they become a new thing entirely. Their work is immortalized and held to another worldly standard. Typically prolific in their songwriting, a Superstar can churn out album after album – each magnificent in its construction – to sate the incredibly popular demand for their music. Elton John is one such Superstar. Continue reading “Elton John – Honky Chateau”
In February 1957, the world of country music was forever altered. Capitol Records signed “singer, songwriter, and guitarist” Buck Owens and his newly formed band, the Buckaroos. The band consisted of four other members— guitarist and fiddler Don Rich, bass guitarist Doyle Holly, steel guitarist Tom Brumley and drummer Willie Cantu. On July 26, 1965, the band released a double-sided LP album titled Before You Go that consisted of a total of 12 songs. (“Buck Owens.” Newsmakers. Vol. 2. Detroit: Gale, 2007. Biography in Context. Web. 23 Oct. 2016.) Continue reading “Buck Owens – Before You Go”