Monday, September 28, 2009

Elliott Smith - "XO" (1998)

The mark of a artist is when, instead of trying to reproduce an emotion, they completely display the feeling in its present form. It's not just a memory, it's happening this very moment. That ability to immediately sway the listener's state is displayed by Elliott Smith with raw truth and uncompromising honesty. As meek and battered as he appeared, he mastered a portrayal of sadness that crisscrossed sorrow and anguish with acceptance and defiance. And while his music may be understated, his death certainly wasn't. Still not officially ruled a suicide, Smith most likely took his own life in 2003 with two stab wounds to his chest. -- Chris Baginski

1. "Sweet Adeline" (3:15)
2. "Tomorrow Tomorrow" (3:07)
3. "Waltz #2 (XO)" (4:40)
4. "Baby Britain" (3:13)
5. "Pitseleh" (3:22)
6. "Independence Day" (3:04)
7. "Bled White" (3:22)
8. "Waltz #1" (3:22)
9. "Amity" (2:20)
10. "Oh Well, Okay" (2:33)
11. "Bottle Up and Explode!" (2:58)
12. "A Question Mark" (2:41)
13. "Everybody Cares, Everybody Understands" (4:25)
14. "I Didn't Understand" (2:17)

Thirteen (Video)

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Sam Cooke - "Portrait of a Legend 1951-1964" (2003)

This collection of music is so appropriately named Portrait of a Legend in that Sam Cooke completely deserves that title. Not only is he one of the most influential Soul singers, he's one of the founders and pioneers of the genre. And like so many other legends, his life was brief, surviving only to the age of 33 after being shot in a Los Angeles hotel in 1964. But his heavenly voice lives well beyond that day and pure emotion remains wrapped in every note he sang . -- Chris Baginski

1. "Touch the Hem of His Garment"
2. "Lovable"
3. "You Send Me"
4. "Only Sixteen"
5. "(I Love You) For Sentimental Reasons"
6. "Just for You"
7. "Win Your Love (For Me)"
8. "Everybody Loves to Cha Cha Cha"
9. "I'll Come Running Back to You"
10. "You Were Made for Me"
11. "Sad Mood"
12. "Cupid"
13. "Wonderful World"
14. "Chain Gang"
15. "Summertime"
16. "Little Red Rooster"
17. "Bring It on Home to Me" *
18. "Nothing Can Change This Love"
19. "Sugar Dumpling"
20. "(Ain't That) Good News"
21. "Meet Me at Mary's Place"
22. "Twistin' the Night Away"
23. "Shake"
24. "Tennessee Waltz"
25. "Another Saturday Night"
26. "Good Times"
27. "Having a Party"
28. "That's Where It's At"
29. "A Change Is Gonna Come"
30. "Jesus Gave Me Water"

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Belle & Sebastian - "Dear Castastrophe Waitress" (2003)

Scottish Indie Poppers Belle & Sebastian took their name from a children's book which was later turned into a 1980's Nickelodeon cartoon and when you hear their music, you'll see the Saturday morning connection. There's an innocence to Dear Catastrophe Waitress that's pretty bubblegum and the seven members of Belle & Sebastian have no problem embracing that. The music has an airy quality to it that's delicate and breezy and comes from the band in soft effortless breathes. Makes for a nice audio addition to your coffee and paper on a weekend morning. -- Chris Baginski

1. "Step into My Office, Baby" (4:12)
2. "Dear Catastrophe Waitress" (2:22)
3. "If She Wants Me" (5:05)
4. "Piazza, New York Catcher" (3:03)
5. "Asleep on a Sunbeam" (3:22)
6. "I'm a Cuckoo" (5:26)
7. "You Don't Send Me" (3:08)
8. "Wrapped Up in Books" (3:34)
9. "Lord Anthony" (4:14)
10. "If You Find Yourself Caught in Love" (4:15)
11. "Roy Walker" (2:57)
12. "Stay Loose" (6:41)

Monday, September 7, 2009

Ween - "The Mollusk" (1997)

Ween's 1997 underwater odyssey brings you down into the abyss complete with sea monsters, pirates, barnacles and urchins. Written by the sandy shores of New Jersey's Long Beach Island, The Mollusk paints you into a waterworld of stormy oceans and gray-skied harbor towns. Sea captains singing shanties and an orchestra of nautical noise will have you swimming out in darkened waters with the flotsam and jetsam before you know it. -- Chris Baginski

1, "I'm Dancing in the Show Tonight" (1:55)
2. "The Mollusk" (2:36)
3. "Polka Dot Tail" (3:19)
4. "I'll Be Your Jonny On the Spot" (2:00)
5. "Mutilated Lips" (3:48)
6. "The Blarney Stone" (3:14)
7. "It's Gonna Be (Alright)" (3:18)
8. "The Golden Eel" (4:03)
9. "Cold Blows the Wind" (4:27)
10. "Pink Eye (On My Leg)" (3:12)
11. "Waving My Dick in the Wind" (2:11)
12. "Buckingham Green" (3:18)
13. "Ocean Man" (2:07)
14. "She Wanted to Leave (Reprise)" (4:25)

See Ween On Tour

Tito Puente - "Puente Goes Jazz" (1956)

Born in New York City's Spanish Harlem in 1923, Tito Peunte was impressing the neighborhood with his ferocious percussion skills by age 10. Recording over 100 albums in his career, Puente fused Afro-Cuban beats with everything from Big Band compositions and Mambos, to Bossa Nova and Jazz. Here on Puente Goes Jazz, every listener is transformed by the swinging rhythms into a sharp dressed cat from the 1950's. -- Chris Baginski

1. "What Is This Thing Called Love" (3:22)
2. "Tiny-Not Ghengis" (2:49)
3. "What Are You Doin' Honey" (2:45)
4. "Lotus Land" (4:52)
5. "Lucky Dog" (3:21)
6. "Birdland After Dark" (4:36)
7. "That's A Puente" (2:32)
8. "Yesterdays" (4:35)
9. "Terry Cloth" (4:56)
10. "Tito 'In" (2:56)

Tito Puente on Sesame Street

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Ray Charles - "Modern Sounds In Country and Western Music" (1962)

This seminal album in American music history blended soul with country & western music at a time when racial tension was swelling. Studio execs thought it was a mistake when Ray Charles decided to cover country and folk standards for his upcoming album, but it became a critical and commercial success that some consider his finest studio outing. Just as he seamlessly combined Gospel and R&B to create Soul, he again shows here how interwoven American music is. Almost five decades later, the strings and backing vocals may sound a bit syrupy, but Brother Ray's voice is always there to save the day. It all combines to sit you down on a wrap around porch with lemonade and a rocking chair on a Southern summer afternoon. As lovelorn as the songs may be (these are country standards after all), I hope I'm dancing with my wife to this record when we're 80. -- Chris Baginski

1. "Bye Bye Love" 2:12
2. "You Don't Know Me" 3:16
3. "Half as Much" 3:28
4. "I Love You So Much It Hurts" 3:35
5. "Just a Little Lovin' (Will Go a Long Way)" 3:29
6. "Born to Lose" 3:18
7. "Worried Mind" 2:57
8. "It Makes No Difference Now" 3:36
9. "You Win Again" 3:31
10. "Careless Love" 4:01
11. "I Can't Stop Loving You" 4:14
12. "Hey, Good Lookin'" 2:14
13. "You Are My Sunshine" 3:01
14. "Here We Go Again" 3:18
15. "That Lucky Old Sun" 4:21

Friday, September 4, 2009

Miles Davis - "In A Silent Way" (1969)

In A Silent Way is an epic journey through seemingly disconnected music that pulls you in immediately and gradually reveals a hidden story and cohesion. In the late 1960's Jazz and Rock began inching their paths towards each other to create Jazz Fusion. Miles Davis, who helped develop the genre on two previous albums, released the masterpiece In A Silent Way as his first full on Jazz Fusion record. As Thom Jurek put it, "There is no melody, not even a melodic frame. There are only vamps and solos, grooves layered on top of other grooves spiraling toward space but ending in silence." I first listened to this album lying in bed one night with the sounds of a rainstorm outside my window. I suggest you do the same! -- Chris Baginski

1. "Shhh/Peaceful" - 18:16

2. "In a Silent Way/It's About That Time" - 19:52

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Dire Straits - "Dire Straits" (1978)

British pub rockers Dire Straits, named for the poor financial status the band was in when they formed in 1977, would find themselves with a hit record and opening for the Talking Heads just one year later. Their debut album, Dire Straits, showcases how locked in the band was from the get-go as well as the talents of lead singer and guitarist Mark Knopfler. His bluesy guitar playing is smooth, quick and precise without being rushed and cluttered. This laid back, clean tone hints at jazz and world music that when matched with the image driven pop lyrics of Knopfler make Dire Straits a must have. -- Chris Baginski

1. "Down to the Waterline" (3:55)
2. "Water of Love" (5:23)
3. "Setting Me Up" (3:18)
4. "Six Blade Knife" (4:10)
5. "Southbound Again" (2:58)
6. "Sultans of Swing" (5:47)
7. "In the Gallery" 6:16)
8. "Wild West End" (4:42)
9. "Lions" (5:05)

See Mark Knopfler On Tour