Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Rationales Album Lists: GREG

Here is what the esteemed Mr. Greg Gagnon had to say on the matter of favorite records:::

I'm not going to name a Dylan or a Beatles album. I have favorites, but it's too hard. Also, I could cherry-pick a dozen singles from each of the first three on this list. It was really about 78s or 45s then, not LPs.

1) Robert Johnson - The Complete Recordings (1936-37)
The man who sold his soul to the devil at the crossroads. These are the recordings that influenced Clapton, The Stones, everybody who plays blues, rock, folk, whatever. Heavy stuff. Key track: "Me and the Devil Blues."

2) Patsy Cline - 12 Greatest Hits (1961-63)
This is the (relatively) later Patsy stuff, the crossover stuff, when she signed with Decca. The Nashville Sound. Lush Strings. Tic-Tac Bass. The Jordainaires. The whole bit. Key track obviously being the Willie Nelson-penned "Crazy."

3) Hank Williams - 40 Greatest Hits (1946-52)
The clever, concise country songwriting, the croon, the console steel guitar of Don Helms, the Nudie suits, the drug overdose in the back of a Cadillac on New Year's Day. Country music starts and ends with Hank. Key track: "Your Cheatin' Heart."

4) Nick Drake - Pink Moon (1972)
One guitar. One voice. One piano overdub on the title track. Really dark in the same way that the Robert Johnson stuff is. Quintessentially British. Brilliant fingerstyle playing. Weird tunings. I heard this album before I heard his first two albums with Robert Kirby's string arrangements. Those albums are great, too.

5) Willie Nelson - Red Headed Stranger (1975)
Willie's concept album, about a preacher who's wife leaves him for another man. Naturally he shoots dead his wife and her lover. I dig how sparse and yet varied the textures on this album are. Squeezebox accordian, sleazy barroom piano, etc. Key lyric: "...and they died with their smiles on their faces."

6) Van Morrison - Moondance (1970)
Blue-eyed soul at its finest. Jazz-inflected piano, simple, well crafted alto/tenor sax parts. Big fat singing black women on "Crazy Love."

7) Joni Mitchell - Blue (1971)
Joni's music is songwriting masquerading as poetry masquerading as songwriting. This album is about Graham Nash and late 1960s California. I not so secretly desire to be Graham Nash in late 1960s California.

8) Graham Nash - Songs for Beginners (1971)
This album is about breaking up with Joni Mitchell. If that's not something to write about, I don't know what is. The third verse of "Wounded Bird" is sublime, especially listening with headphones. Nash really got the folk/country/rock/pop balance right on this album.

9) Stan Getz and Joao Gilberto - Getz/Gilberto (1964)
Jobim plays piano, contributes several tunes. Astrud Gilberto's first album. Getz is at his height. This is THE Bossa Nova album. Milton Banana's drumming (yes, that's his name) is a study in how to play a trap kit sensitively/sparsely/quitely. Also, this album makes you want to have sex with Brazilian women.

10) Chet Baker - The Best of Chet Baker Sings (1953-1956)
Chet sings, Chet plays trumpet, Chet does alot of heroin. 1950s androgynous West Coast jazz cool. His vocal delivery, like his trumpeting, is unemotional, detached. Icy. This album also makes you want to have sex.

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