Friday, November 20, 2020

Melancholia Vol 10

I have had some fun compiling the many themed Melancholia editions but the original concept for the series was to bring many of my favorite songs together in one collection regardless of genre. The focus is more on a certain vibe and pace which has carried on through the series which means even the special themed editions have this vibe that I chase.

The first five volumes and a few of the themed editions were compiled before I started purchasing CDs. Those and a few others were put together before computer power and storage space were sufficient enough for the existence of a local digital library. With the advent of recordable CDs, the CDR became the new cassette. Nowadays, with so much music just a few taps or clicks away, the playlist has became the new CDR. Which means that later editions evolved more than being put together with what I had on hand in a single sitting. If I didn't like how a song felt in the mix, it was easy to swap it our for another song.

This is most true for these last two editions. They have changed and morphed over the years due to some songs being moved to later themed editions or replaced by songs that were a better fit. Volume seven is still being tweaked but I think I can call this volume done. You could almost call this a themed edition. It does have a slight heavier feel than other editions but there are a few surprises and that vibe is still there. Enjoy.

 01 Velvet Revolver - Fall To Pieces
 02 Deep Purple - Don't Hold Your Breath
 03 Collective Soul - Shine
 04 The Verve Pipe - Colorful
 05 Smashing Pumpkins - Suffer
 06 Thin Lizzy - Showdown
 07 Black Crowes - Soul Singing
 08 Blackberry Smoke - No Way Back To Eden
 09 Kelly Clarkson - Breakaway
 10 Brother Cane - And Fools Shine On
 11 Cheap Trick - Downed
 12 Jane Wiedlin - Our Lips Are Sealed
 13 Francis Dunnery - Too Much Saturn
 14 Queen - Drowse
 15 The Verve - Bitter Sweet Symphony
 16 Steel Dragon - We All Die Young
 17 Journey - Daydream
 18 Willy Porter - Flying
 

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Bob Weir - Chillin' With Bobby

Bob Weir is by far the most visible band member to carry on the torch that the Grateful Dead held high for so many years. Aside from the many post-Dead offshoots such as Dead & Co., The Dead and the Further Festivals and his many solo fronted bands like Ratdog, Bobby has hosted many artists in the extended Grateful Dead family and friends at Tri Studios (Tamalpais Research Institute).
 
Tri Studios is a state of the art performance venue. It also seems to be Bob Weir's home away from home when not on the road. Over the years of its existence Bobby has performed many times as a solo act, in special, one-off configurations with others or just sitting in with the band of the night. A nice handful of these performances are available on YouTube, most from 2013. I've gone through those shows and extracted Bobby's solo and small group performances with a focus on minimal, acoustic based tunes and gathered them into a two CD set that mimics a Grateful Dead show.
 
Tracklist
 
Disc One
01 Cassidy
02 Hell In A Bucket
03 Maggie's Farm
04 Stealin'>Deal
05 Most of the Time
06 Peggy-O
07 China Cat>I Know You Rider>Shakey Ground
08 Good Morning Little Schoolgirl
09 Loose Lucy

Disc Two
01 Sugar Magnolia
02 Cosmic Charlie
03 US Blues
04 Looks Like Rain
05 West L.A. Fadeaway
06 Easy To Slip
07 Black Throated Wind
08 Dark Star
09 El Paso
 
Bonus Tracks
Catfish John
When I Paint My Masterpiece

Reality Notes

My goal here was simply to collect relaxed, acoustic based performances where Bob is either the lead vocalist or at least a co-vocalist. There are a few duets here but mostly it's just Bob singing. Instrumentation is sparse if not solo. No more than a few other musicians on a song. The musician line-up is different from song to song. I refrained from listing the other players but you can get an idea of who's there by checking out the sorce list below.
 
I tried to keep the song choice interesting with some songs rarely played and maybe a few first timers. The classic/obvious choices are all unique due the the laid back, stripped down feel. Even songs like Dark Star or China Cat>I Know You Rider feel fresh and new. And the sound quality is incredible.
 
Cassidy was the driving force behind the compilation. It is one of my favorite Dead tunes and at the top of my list of Bobby songs but live renditions rarely match the feel and power of the studio version. This rendition not only matches the original for me but in some ways surpasses it. I've been looking for a vehicle for the track since I first heard it.

If you plan on burning this to CDs each set will fit on a disc. The bonus tracks will not. They were good enough to keep but not quite enough to be slipped into the main sets. If you play this from your computer or other device it makes a nice faux concert with each disc a set and the bonus tracks as the encore. I kept the bonus tracks because they were both nice renditions and Catfish John was seldom heard in my listening of Dead shows. Both not finding a spot in the main sets due to time constraints but too good to throw away.

For the cover I manipulated slightly a nice recent photo of Bob and added the text and logos. For the sources below I linked to the original videos. There is a lot of good music there. This could have been a three disc set but not everything would have been as revealing as the final set list. Enjoy.

Sources

Friday, September 25, 2020

Kent Nishimura - Arranged By...

There are a lot of good and great guitarists on YouTube and beyond. Some are technically great, some seem overflowing with feeling and soul in spite of technical limitations. But the really great are those that seem to transcend the instrument to the point where flesh, wood and steel become one. Even rarer are those that achieve that oneness at an early age. Kent Nishimura is one of those rare types.

What struck me most about Kent was not his age but the completeness of his arrangements. Everything you expect to hear is there. Melodies, solos, bass lines and percussion. His dexterity and feel for a song is mesmerizing.

I really don't know much more about Kent. His videos have been popping up on my feed for a while but I only recently gave him a listen so he's still very new to me. All I know is what is on his website. He started playing when he received his first guitar at five years old, He released his first album at 12 years old and has released two more since. He is primarily focused on covers but has composed a few originals. This comp collects 24 tracks from his YouTube channel that I found most satisfying. There's a lot more on his channel so check him out. Enjoy.

Tracklist

01 Smooth Jazz Chillout Solo Acoustic Guitar #1 (Short Version)
02 It's Too Late - Carole King
03 Purple Rain - Prince
04 Don't Know Why - Norah Jones
05 Higher Ground - Stevie Wonder
06 Africa - Toto
07 Ain't No Sunshine - Bill Withers
08 Rylynn - Andy Mckee
09 Everybody Wants To Rule The World - Tears For Fears
10 Careless Whisper - George Michael
11 Hit The Road Jack - Ray Charles
12 Living Inside Your Love - Earl Klugh
13 Human Nature - Michael Jackson
14 Another Brick In The Wall - Pink Floyd
15 Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head - B.J. Thomas
16 Lean On Me - Bill Withers
17 What a Wonderful World - Louis Armstrong
18 The Hustle -  Van McCoy
19 You Are The Sunshine Of My Life - Stevie Wonder
20 We Are The Champions - Queen
21 Sweet Love - Anita Baker
22 Lupin III [Jazz] - Yuji Ohno
23 Drive My Car - The Beatles
24 Thriller (Ending) - Michael Jackson

Reality Notes
 
To be totally upfront and honest I am not a big fan of instrumental music and instrumental covers of popular music is more often a miss than a hit for me. As I may have mentioned in other posts, I prefer songs. I need voices and words. The exceptions are often those that can transcend mere music making and transport you somewhere else. I'm a fan of fingerstyle guitar in general and like Michael Hedges and Leo Kottke in particular but they occasionally sing which helps to move things along. I also enjoy some classical things, big fan of Bach, not so much Mozart or Beethoven. I love Ravi Shankar and can get lost in traditional Japanese koto music. But for the most part instrumental music is a background filler for me. In spite of that, this will not be my last instrumental post. I am enthusiastically adding Kent to that short list of instrumentalists I enjoy but I'm not expecting this to be in regular listening rotation. But if you are a fan of this style of music you will love this.

With the exception of track one these are all covers. Kent has a few originals but mostly interprets songs from other artists. Drive My Car is from Kent's first video he posted and is quite young at the time of recording but his skills even then are impressive. Kent covers a lot of genres so in choosing the tracklist I went with my own tastes. I highly recommend going to his channel to watch him play Purple Rain and Brick In The Wall. Both renditions are amazingly complete and must be seen to be believed. There is little to no overlap between the songs on his channel and his official albums so if you are a fan this will sit right alongside those.

I wanted to set a mood with the cover so I avoided using a picture of the artist and instead went with a landscape of meadows and trees. Enjoy.

Friday, September 11, 2020

Allison Young - Pillow Talk

2020's YouTube month continues with the enchanting Allison Young.

Allison is a singer/songwriter from Nashville, the country music capitol of the world and though she touches on country she covers a lot more ground. She's a fine multi-instrumentalist but first and foremost she has one of the most beautiful, natural voices I've heard in a long while.

Allison naturally cultivates the vintage look to great effect which fits her musical style perfectly. She covers a wide range of genres with the bulk of them old standards but most songs seem to come out soft and a bit sultry. I've gone through as much as I could find from her and gathered a CD's worth of covers for you to enjoy.

Tracklist

01 I Wanna Be Loved By You
02 Everyday
03 I Fall To Pieces
04 Autumn in New York   Feat. Josh Turner
05 Pillowtalk
06 I Don’t Want To Set The World On Fire   Feat. Post Modern Jukeboxs
07 We’ll Meet Again
08 Un F The World
09 Sh-Boom (Life Could Be A Dream)
10 I Can’t Help Falling In Love
11 In Spite of Ourselves   Feat. John Paterini
12 Be My Baby
13 If I Didn't Care
14 I'll Be Here In The Morning
15 You Really Got A Hold On Me
16 Creep
17 Mr. Blue Sky   Feat. Post Modern Jukebox
18 Hidden In The Sand
19 Black Coffee
20 The Bug Collector
21 Romulus
22 Gonna Hurry
23 Our Love Is Here To Stay
24 Smile
25 Fever   Feat. Josh Turner

Reality Notes

The bulk of the songs are solo performances with some of those featuring Allison performing all of the instruments and vocals. Three tracks are duets, one with friend John Paterini and two with Josh Turner. Two songs features Allison with Postmodern Jukebox, a group that specializes in doing modern songs in a "loungey"/jazzy style often with guest vocalists like Allison.

Allison has some original music as well. She performs a few of her own songs on her YouTube page. I was prepared to use them if I needed more material to flesh out the album but fortunately I found plenty of covers. Be sure to check out her videos. They are well produced and entertaining, always a pleasant viewing.

For the cover I utilized a pic from a photo session that produced the cover of her EP of originals that can be found on her Bandcamp page. Be sure to check that out.

Facebook
YouTube
Bandcamp

Josh Turner
Postmodern Jukebox

Friday, September 4, 2020

Jess Greenberg - YouTube

In 2018 I declared September YouTube month where each week I presented an artist that I discovered and/or follow primarily on YouTube. In 2019 I failed to follow up on that theme but in 2020 I have a couple more for you.

During YouTube month of 2018 I received a request for a Jess Greenberg comp. At the time I had about 50 of her videos downloaded but for some reason they resisted all attempts to extract the audio. I would try every now and then and finally I managed through VLC and after some time going through each track I have narrowed the list down to fit on one CD.

Jess posts in small bursts it seems. The most recent is three months old at the time of this post but the previous video is three years old. Her first video was posted nine years ago, as you watch them in chronological order you can watch her mature.

Tracklist

01 Beast of Burden - The Rolling Stones
02 Stop this train - John Mayer
03 Big Love - Fleetwood Mac
04 Crazy in Love - Beyonce Knowles
05 Little Wing - Jimi Hendrix
06 We Found Love - Rihanna
07 Fly me to the moon - Bart Howard
08 Dark Side - Kelly Clarkson
09 Kiss me - Sixpence None the Richer
10 Wanted dead or alive - Bon Jovi
11 Underdog - Kasabian
12 Why'd you only call me when you're high - Arctic Monkeys
13 Maybe I'm Amazed - Paul McCartney
14 Domino - Jessie J
15 Somebody Else's Guy - Jocelyn Brown
16 Everlong - Foo Fighters
17 Fever - Eddie Cooley & Otis Blackwell
18 You've got to show me love - Robin S
19 Get Lucky - Daft Punk
20 When you were young - The Killers
21 Gold on the Ceiling - The Black Keys
22 I don't trust myself (with loving you) - John Mayer
23 Heart-Shaped Box - Nirvana
24 Titanium - David Guetta
25 Wherever You Will Go - The Calling
26 I Got You (I Feel Good) vs Scuttle Buttin' - James Brown-Stevie Ray

Reality Notes

Jess has posted almost 80 videos over the years so if you like these check out her channel for more. As far as I can tell Jess has not posted any original music but is focused on covers. Jess has a wonderful voice and excellent guitar chops and is certainly impressive but overall her videos often didn't affect me in the same way Reina Del Cid or the artist that is featured in my next post. I would like to hear her in a more fully produced performance where her voice can shine a bit more and use her guitar skills in a more controlled environment.

The bulk of Jess' videos were recorded the same way. It looks like she used a laptop or PC webcam using the built in mic in her bedroom. So, while the sound is not perfect, it is clear and consistent which gives the comp a cohesive feel to it. She covers a wide range of styles and genres, some worked for me more than others but everyone's taste is different so again, if you like these you might like the rest so check them out.

Now, about that cover. Sometime during her second year of posting she started wearing the low-cut tops. I'm sure that had something to do with the increase in play counts her videos receive but be sure that the music is the main focus. In fact, one of the reasons for doing this comp was so I could enjoy the performance without the distraction of the wardrobe. The cover here is a cropped screenshot of one of her videos (I believe from the Beast of Burden video, I can tell by the chord she's playing) to which I added the text.

Website
YouTube
Facebook

Friday, May 29, 2020

Syd Barrett and the Pink Floyd Sound - 1967

I've been distracted with other things in these crazy times we're in so I have been leaning on others in the community for ideas. This one came from a fellow member of an private alt-music history forum who simply asked me to do "something with Syd Barrett".

1967 saw the debut album by Syd Barrett. Supported by his backing band of Nick Mason, Richard Wright and Roger Waters, known as The Pink Floyd Sound, it contained 13 songs that could only have come from the mind of Syd.

This would be Syd's only album for three years though his backing band would push on releasing a three song EP recorded during the same sessions with Syd contributing guitar and a full LP the following year kicking off a career that would span several decades.

Syd's mental state would quickly deteriorate most likely due to his heavy consumption of psychedelics. The two parties split amicably in 1968 during the recording of the band's first full length album (now known simply as Pink Floyd). Syd did his best at helping his friends out appearing on several tracks but in the end they recruited an old classmate of Syd's, David Gilmour, to take over the guitar chores. That line up would last for most of that band's history.

Syd's relationship with his backing band was a strained affair to begin with. Even though they shared a flat and behaved as a single unit, it was always clear that Syd was the star and the others were support. When they split Syd was left without a band. It took the Floyd a few albums to find their own voice but when they finally broke through they became a mainstay of rock radio and the touring circuit for the remainder of their career.

Syd took a couple years off to rest and recover before returning to the studio releasing two albums in 1970 but the drugs again took their toll and Syd once more faded into the background preferring to hang out with fellow underground musicians Pretty Things drummer Twink, Deviants frontman Mick Farren and Steve Took from Tyrannosaurus Rex. His brief career left a lasting impression and influenced many younger artists.

Tracklist

Side One
01 Astronomy Domine
02 Lucifer Sam
03 Apples And Oranges
04 The Gnome
05 Flaming
06 Scarecrow
07 See Emily Play

Side Two
01 Scream Thy Last Scream
02 Chapter 24
03 Bike
04 Matilda Mother
05 Vegetable Man
06 Jugband Blues

Bonus Non-LP Single
Arnold Layne
Candy And A Currant Bun

Reality Notes

There are plenty of alternate Pink Floyd histories and discographies floating around the internet. Most follow the premise of Syd staying with the band for a few more albums. While I always find them a good read, the compilations never really satisfy me. I love Syd and went through a heavy obsession for a brief time but always saw Syd and Floyd as separate entities despite their entwined history together. This comp is my way of further defining that separation.

For this album I took the first Floyd album and removed the two band written instrumentals Pow R. Toc H. and Intersteller Overdrive and the Waters penned Take Up Thy Stethoscope and Walk and replaced them with outtakes and singles. The three songs I removed become the EP released by Floyd at around the same time as this album. Yea, this is still Pink Floyd but it is a much different Floyd than that which they would evolve into once Syd was out and Gilmour was in. The "Floyd as backing band" makes much more sense to me.

I used all mono sources and included the Arnold Layne single and B side as bonus tracks. There are a couple of songs here where Syd is not the lead singer or he is the co-lead singer (Matilda Mother, Scream Thy Last Scream). I kept those anyway because he wrote them. Let's just say he is using artistic expression by having someone else sing to achieve a different sound than what he would have done or think of it as giving his backing band a chance to shine a bit.

For the cover I took a black and white photo of Syd and added liquid projection art over the top and added the text. I kept the original title. Most debut albums are self titled but Syd must have been attached to that phrase to name the album that. The title comes from chapter seven of Kenneth Grahame's The Wind in the Willows.

Friday, May 1, 2020

Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young - 4 Way Street 1971

I've been using this down time to work on other projects around the house and in the studio so I haven't had much time to give to this blog. A while back AEC over at Albums Back from the Dead posted a CSNY album that imagined what a follow up to DeJa Vu might have sounded like using tracks from the solo albums released at the time. I chimed in with my take but had no plans of posting it here but with the lack of projects in my vault and to keep you guys busy while in quarantine and because it turned out so nice, I thought, why not?

After the release of Deja Vu in 1970 Crosby, Stills Nash and Young went on tour. Some of the shows were recorded and in April, 1971 they released a live album titled 4 Way Street. After the tour the band fell apart and all members commenced recording solo records. Those albums were released between September 1970 and May 1971.

In spite of the supposed bad blood that broke the band apart there was still some interplay between the members. Stephen provided some vocals on Neil's album. Neil played on David's and Graham's and Crosby-Nash laid down backing vocals on Stephen's and each others albums. So what if they came together and recorded another CSNY album proper? Enjoy.

Tracklist

Side 1
01 Love the One You're With
02 Better Days
03 Laughing
04 After The Goldrush
05 We Are Not Helpless

Side 2

01 Music is Love
02 Do for the Others
03 Military Madness
04 Southern Man

Side 3
01 Chicago (We Can Change The World)
02 Sit Yourself Down
03 Don't Let It Bring You Down
04 Traction in the Rain
05 Simple Man
06 Orleans

Side 4
01 Only Love Can Break Your Heart
02 Church (Part of Someone)
03 I Used to Be a King
04 Cowboy Movie

Running time: 79:44

Reality Notes

In the comments of AEC's post, myself and The_Reconstructor chimed in with our opinions. I took clues from each of them and ran with it. I loosened my criteria a bit and used the previous album for precedence. With a few exceptions, that album was largely recorded separately, coming together mostly to do harmonies.

While songs that included two or more members were given priority, some of David's tracks were cut due to not actually having lyrics. Lots of vocals but the voices were used as instruments rather than tell a story. We still have an example of that style here in the track Orleans but at least he's singing words even if they are in another language. I used the tracklist from the live album for more clues, any song on there that had not appeared on a previous album was in the running. I also chose to allow solo acoustic numbers. Stephen setting the precedent with 4+20 on Deja Vu.

I ended up with 19 songs that fit on a single CD. On vinyl that would make a double album. I sequenced the tracks to split nicely onto four sides but also flow between them. Everyone gets at least one song per side and never two in a row.

I used the tracks as they are with the exception of three. Two Neil songs come from the 4 Way Street live album. I removed the audience before and after each of those as well as Neil's rap before Don't Let It Bring You Down. The live version of Southern Man was an obvious choice over the studio version. Not only is it the only track here to feature all four members, it's a full eight minutes longer with some great guitar interplay between Stephen and Neil making it a perfect side closer.

The last edit I made was to join Graham's Chicago with the reprise We Can Change The World to create a single track. I did this by ducking the opening chatter of the reprise under the last chords of Chicago to form a natural transition between them. Turned out nice.

The results fit in nicely within the overall discography and replaces the live album. Each member was prolific enough that the solo albums could still happen. Though arguably we took the cream of the crop from each. Originally I had sides one and two flipped. I thought that it would be clever to have each member open a side in the order of their names but the flow didn't feel right and Love The One You're With is an obvious album opener.

For the cover, I simplified the original.

Sources

David Crosby - If Only I Could Remember My Name
Stephen Stills - Stephen Stills
Graham Nash - Songs For Beginers
Neil Young - After The Gold Rush
CSN&Y - 4 Way Street