Prince – Piano & A Microphone 1983

★★★★★ = Classic, essential listening

Sounds like?

Prince singing while playing the piano

Moods

An intimate session with the purple one

Thoughts

An interesting artifact that I think all Prince fans should hear once. Here we have a sketchbook like view of Prince's songwriting process (Purple rain, for instance, is just a brief thought in this session. It would be fleshed out months later). Intimacy is immediately established given the stripped down nature of this recording: gone are the sequenced to perfection drum machines and synths that would obscure him at times. It's as if you're hearing him with his guard is down and the beauty of his songwriting takes center stage.

While Prince's multi instrumentation ability is common knowledge here we learn he's a fantastic piano player, effortlessly toying with melody.

I see, feel and understand his soulful approach to music better after listening to this. Not because of the final product but the heart that goes into it.

Essential listening and gem in his esteemed catalog.

More Info

https://www.discogs.com/Prince-Piano-A-Microphone-1983/release/12548164

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e5-HEBGPzFM

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Prince – Piano & A Microphone 1983

Description: Album Review of Prince – Piano & A Microphone 1983


Rating: 5 out of 5

 

Johann Sebastian Bach,Glenn Gould – The Goldberg Variations

★★★★★ = Classic, essential listening

Sounds like?

Solo piano sonatas

Moods

Perfect

Thoughts

I won't try and review this, there's enough written about it. However I will say per Mark Richardson's suggestion: the Bach Glenn Gould variations are two albums that must be heard in any piano lovers life.

More Info

https://www.discogs.com/Bach-Glenn-Gould-The-Goldberg-Variations/release/8788672

Listen!

Youtube

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zpsfhTxo5yw

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N2YMSt3yfko

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Johann Sebastian Bach,Glenn Gould – The Goldberg Variations

Description: Album Review of Johann Sebastian Bach,Glenn Gould – The Goldberg Variations


Rating: 5 out of 5

 

Miles Davis – A Tribute To Jack Johnson

★★★★★ = Classic, essential listening

Sounds like?

Rock and Jazz fusion

Moods

Groovin – the perfect miles record for rock fans

Thoughts

Perhaps the most 'rock’ record in the miles discography. Purists might disagree but I think this is an exemplar of rock and jazz fusion due to it's heavy rock lean and accessibility. The mixing is weird: no single tracks but rather two lengthy sides where thing's fade into the other, often forcing unfinished ideas to come together abruptly; almost like an impatient DJ. Anyhow the music:

Side 1 is the better example of the miles 'rock’ thing with a driving bass line and angular guitars propelling things forward. It’s an extended classic  70s rock jam with a groove.

Side 2 is where thing's get a bit more chilled out and experimental. The music wanders and isn't as focused. Still.. things are being worked out and it's fantastic music by any means. A highlight is the moment ‘in a silent way’ breaks through. Glorious!

I consider miles electric period one of the pinnacles of music and this is one of the best intros, especially for non-jazz fans.

Essential music.

More Info

https://www.discogs.com/Miles-Davis-A-Tribute-To-Jack-Johnson/release/1941575

Listen!

Youtube

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-8TdZFVj6tA

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uoH6kFbuYRQ

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WfLvNwxnj6g

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Miles Davis – A Tribute To Jack Johnson

Description: Album Review of Miles Davis – A Tribute To Jack Johnson


Rating: 5 out of 5

 

James Brown – In The Jungle Groove (Expanded Edition)

★★★★★ = Classic, essential listening

Sounds like?
James Brown’s soulful funk

Moods
Having a good time with people that love good music

Thoughts
This is the good stuff: tight extended funk jams, some of my favorite James Brown songs are here. A fantastic record and must hear for any funk fan.

Fun fact: Bootsy is playing bass on a few of the tracks.

More Info

https://www.discogs.com/James-Brown-In-The-Jungle-Groove-Expanded-Edition/release/576416

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James Brown – In The Jungle Groove (Expanded Edition)

Description: Album Review of James Brown – In The Jungle Groove (Expanded Edition)


Rating: 5 out of 5

 

Steely Dan – Aja

★★★★★ = Classic, essential listening

What’s it sound like?
Intellectual light radio rock

Thoughts
I’ve begun to appreciate Steely Dan more as I grow older. Their brand of breezy light rock with this lingering darkness appeals to me. They capture life’s disappointments in a distinct way, as if they’re always sitting on the border of being cheesy; like an inside joke at times. Is this Satire?

Humor aside, this is really catchy pop rock with articulate and relatable lyrics. A classic rock staple.

More Info

https://www.discogs.com/Steely-Dan-Aja/release/3366636

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Steely Dan – Aja

Description: Album Review of Steely Dan – Aja


Rating: 5 out of 5

 

MF Doom – Operation: Doomsday

★★★★★ = Classic, essential listening

What’s it sound like?

MF Doom’s distinct style over production that samples a variety of soul and jazz; kinda like a choppy J Dilla. Allmusic has more:

Doom was at his rawest and, lyrically, most dexterous. The out-of-left-field edge of Doom’s production — which features ’80s soul and smooth jazz mixed with classic drum breaks — is indeed abstract at times, but his off-kilter rhymes are palatable and absent any pretentiousness. In fact, the album arguably contains some of the freshest rhymes one might have heard around the time of its release.

Thoughts
Doom’s style certainly isn’t for everyone but the more I see rap evolve the more I realize just how remarkable his distinct style is.

Not much to add to the allmusic review. This album is raw – both lyrically and production wise. His raps are dense, he’s clearly an intelligent guy, switching topics quickly; a tactic which rewards repeat listens. Something about his delivery reminds me of Wutang, a rare quality. The production works well and I’m not mad at the super-hero interludes.

A true classic.

More Info

https://www.discogs.com/MF-Doom-Operation-Doomsday/release/213193

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MF Doom – Operation: Doomsday

Description: Album Review of MF Doom – Operation: Doomsday


Rating: 5 out of 5

 

Ryo Fukui – Scenery

★★★★★ = Classic, essential listening

What’s it sound like?
Proper Jazz piano trio

Thoughts
Solid and highly accessible jazz album. A mix of originals and standards, each feels perfect. Lyrical playing and agile without feeling over the top. Recommended.

More Info
https://www.discogs.com/Ryo-Fukui-Scenery2/release/7296774

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Ryo Fukui – Scenery

Description: Album Review of Ryo Fukui – Scenery


Rating: 5 out of 5

 

Alanis Morissette – Jagged Little Pill

★★★★★ = Classic, essential listening

What’s it sound like?
The best of 90s radio alt rock.

Thoughts
A very important record to me, I could not stop listening to this when it came out in the summer of 1995. I know I wasn’t alone cause it was played constantly on the radio. It’s an important part of the development of my musical taste.

However even without that attachment the record has some all-out classics and otherwise great songs. Her lyrics are as the title would suggest, jagged. She’s observant and articulate which is why I think this has such universal love. The lyrics are highly memorable. Her songs often employ a juxtaposed approach: aggressive and then a quiet ‘innocent’ moment. It creates a dynamic aspect to her tracks

Instrumentation- love the textures, where was that bassline in the original master of you oughta know? There’s an interesting drum-loop like thing happening there. It appears again on you learn, giving a slight hip hop like bounce. Overall a perfect balance of alt and grunge textures in the singer-songwriter space. Her vocal range is impressive and perhaps best on display on forgiven. Perfect is over the top in it’s forced emotion around bad parenting.

An enjoyable trip down memory lane that stands the test of time.
More Info

https://www.discogs.com/Alanis-Morissette-Jagged-Little-Pill/release/1358782

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Alanis Morissette – Jagged Little Pill

Description: Album Review of Alanis Morissette – Jagged Little Pill


Rating: 5 out of 5

 

Harmonia – Musik Von Harmonia

★★★★★ = Classic, essential listening

What’s it sound like?

Krautrock with synths: styles ranges from ambient to bouncy.

Thoughts

Great album, these tracks have a nice flow due to the repetitive expansiveness the jammy krautrock allows. A range of styles are on display which makes this an engaging listen: from the fun bouncy dino, semi ambient on sehr komisch.

Watussi got heavy play on WFMU.

Chilled out guitar on ahoi, hasn’t aged a bit and would sound just as good on a recent release.

Veterano is jammy excellence.

All around krautrock classic.

More Info

https://www.discogs.com/Harmonia-Musik-Von-Harmonia/release/884704

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Harmonia – Musik Von Harmonia

Description: Album Review of Harmonia – Musik Von Harmonia


Rating: 5 out of 5

 

Pinegrove – Everything So Far

★★★★★ = Classic, essential listening

What’s it sound like?
Alt rock, has a 90s vibe to it.

Thoughts
Personal favorite band of mine. The songwriting can get repetitive but there’s a heartfelt sincerity that’s created in their music. The lyrics are key to this feeling, he sings with an uncertainty that illustrates a mature approach to life. I hear someone taking experiences as they come, learning and sharing them.

On this collection you hear the band evolving over a couple of albums. The earlier stuff, featured on the later half, is maybe a bit more drawn out, lyrics expanded and unrefined. It’s as if an epiphany is explored musically. I find the newer material is a bit more polished and crafted into some very memorable songs. If you like the band then this is a must have.

More Info

https://www.discogs.com/Pinegrove-Everything-So-Far-/release/10175309

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Pinegrove – Everything So Far

Description: Album Review of Pinegrove – Everything So Far


Rating: 5 out of 5