The Year In Music 2019: Legacy Albums

Høydepunkter fra den store mengden historiske plateutgivelser i 2019, i alfabetisk, ikke rangert rekkefølge:

Arthur Russell – Iowa Dream (Audika)

The Beatles – Abbey Road (Apple)

Creedence Clearwater Revival – Live at Woodstock (Fantasy)

Ernest Hood – Neighborhood (Thistlefield)

Gene Clark – No Other (4AD)

John Coltrane – Blue World (Impulse!)

Neil Young – Tuscaloosa (Reprise)

The Replacements – Dead Man’s Pop (Rhino)

Terry Allen & The Panhandle Mystery Band ‎– Pedal Steal + Four Corners (Paradise of Bachelors)

Various Artists – Kankyō Ongaku (Japanese Ambient, Environmental & New Age Music 1980 – 1990) (Light in the Attic)

Unsung Heroes: Buffalo Tom

Boston was a pivotal nerve center for Eastern seaboard punk and hardcore in the early 1980s. A tight-knit musical community of often politically charged bands on either side of hard drinking or straight edge, commonly bonded by intensity and violence, Boston hardcore breathed through the city’s various college radio stations, Newbury Comics and the whole fanzine culture.

The scene also enjoyed the luxury of dedicated local record labels, in particular Taang!, that paved way for the alternative music boom to come. The hardcore scene waned within a few years, but the cultural impact it made is far more everlasting, and Boston had by then established a well-oiled infrastructure for fostering underground music. Taang! also gradually evolved beyond its hardcore roots, releasing hometown alternative pioneers like The Lemonheads, Moving Targets and Swirlies.

Another crucial point of interest in the growth of New England’s alternative sound was Boston recording studio Fort Apache, which housed seminal bands like Pixies, Throwing Muses, Belly, Dinosaur Jr., Bullet LaVolta, Sebadoh, Blake Babies and literal thousands more over the years. This further fortified Boston as one of the major ports of emerging indie rock of the 1980s and 1990s, continuously being fed each year by new hordes of students and local kids, including Bill Janovitz.

In 1982, at the age of 16, Bill and his family relocated from Long Island to Massachusetts. The move brought the aspiring musician straight into a honey bucket of independent creativity and vibrant teen spirit. Janovitz soon discovered usual suspects like Black Flag and the Replacements, who roamed across America and played every town and every club at the time. Attending the post-punk breeding ground of UMass Amherst, he met up with soon to be bandmates Chris Colbourn (bass) and drummer Tom Maginnis, and also befriended J Mascis of Dinosaur Jr., who later became an important patron of the band soon to be baptized Buffalo Tom.

Their eponymous 1989 debut album, Buffalo Tom, recorded by Mascis at Fort Apache, introduced us to a band peppered with teen angst and a knack for loud, distorted walls of guitars that couldn’t quite hide an obvious flair for pop hooks underneath it all. Propelled by the lead single “Sunflower Suit,” a regular at MTV’s 120 Minutes back in the days, the debut established the band as immediate indie darlings.

But Buffalo Tom soon replaced the charming ramshackle noisefest in favor for a more coherent slacker sound on their 1990 sophomore effort, Birdbrain, gradually leading up to the power trio’s classic mid period, defined by the critically acclaimed albums Let Me Come Over (1992), Big Red Letter Day (1993) and Sleepy Eyed (1995).

The remarkably steady line-up has continued to release quality albums up to the present, albeit at a slower pace than the years of their youth. Without ever losing their initial spirit, later albums like Three Easy Pieces (2007) and Skins (2011) are characterized by as always-intelligent songwriting, thoughtful and mature without ever losing their biting edge. Buffalo Tom has always balanced on this thin line, between gorgeous melancholy, in-your-face quiet-loud dynamics, jangly post-punk and arena sized anthems.

Of all the albums in their consistently strong catalog, Let Me Come Over holds a special place amongst many of their fans. Celebrating the record’s 25th anniversary this year, it is a flawless tour de force of poignant songwriting, packed with hook-laden, angst-ridden anthems like “Taillights Fade,” “Velvet Roof,” “Porchlight” and “Mineral.” In a fair world, Let Me Come Over would have secured Buffalo Tom among the stars.

And of course, they lived through an exciting time of alternative American guitar rock, witnessing firsthand the insanity of the Nevermind-fueled craze of major label deals, radio airplay and TV-appearances. Buffalo Tom surely benefited from this boom, but they never received their deserved mainstream recognition.

In a recent interview with Stereogum, Bill Janovitz wisely reflects on their lack of commercial success: “I can give you theories why I think we weren’t bigger. I think our lyrics are opaque, but we’re not like Pavement with opaque music. A lot of our music was very emotional, but it wasn’t really direct songwriting. There really wasn’t a compelling frontman. It was faceless and nerdy, but not ‘nerdy cool,’ like Weezer. It was a bunch of things that were never quite right. I wish I could blame a press agent or a manager or a label. But I think we were given an ample shot.”

But time might still be on their side. While a huge lump of their peers has fallen back to obscurity, Buffalo Tom still shines as a beacon of guitar rock. Their timelessly crafted songs have never been in style – and they’ve never gone out of style. BBC praised its songs as “a deeper take on the usual indie fare – slightly more intense than your Lemonheads, not as drunk on soul as Afghan Whigs, but not quite the self-loathing of Nirvana,” while Magnet magazine defined it “by the contradictions between Buffalo Tom’s rock-star aspirations and its inability to stomach the posturing that comes along with it, choosing instead to lay waste to its imperfections with some of the most devastatingly beautiful guitar rock of the ’90s.”

As a songwriter that has influenced generations to come we talked to Bill Janovitz about 5 albums that changed his life, in commemoration of the 25th anniversary of Let Me Come Over and their ongoing anniversary tour.

* * *

Bob Dylan: Highway 61 Revisited
The Rolling Stones: Out of Our Heads

I received these two LPs on the same day from the next-door neighbors of my grandparents when I was about 8 years old, in 1973-74. I had no older siblings, so the only records I had around the house were from my parents’ and they were not real rock and rollers or record buyers, so there was a scarce collection of Elvis Presley, the Mills Brothers, the Ink Spots, Bossa Nova stuff, etc. But I was obsessed with AM radio and carried around a yellow Panasonic transistor radio wherever I went. But mostly spent hours in my bedroom listening to it.

Receiving these two mono LPs as a hand-me-down, though, was a huge revelation. I knew almost nothing about Dylan and had only heard a relative few Stones songs by that point. These two albums, both released in 1965, were truly life changing. This is not an overstatement; they were so mysterious and dark, and made me want to know more about the artists, depicted so enigmatically lackadaisical or aloof on their respective covers. Both records are steeped in the blues and filled with arcane references. In Bob’s case, there is the surrealist symbolism and amphetamine-driven stream of consciousness, Biblical, Shakespearean, Americana, and other obscure allusions. With the Stones, they are variously lampooning an “Under Assistant West Coast Promo Man” or dropping London references, like “an heiress” who “owns a block in St. John’s Wood.” And the Stones had all these covers of classic soul and blues songs making up half the album. So I eventually went on to find the originals.

It took me years to figure out what the hell all of this was about. And in Dylan’s case, I am still not sure. But it was all driving, compelling, and sexy music and I became hooked to smart rock and roll from that point.

The Beatles: The Beatles (The White Album)

I had bought Sgt. Peppers when I was 12, though the first LP I recall buying was Stevie Wonder’s Songs in the Key of Life. Both were hugely important in my life, but as I picked up the guitar to learn at age 12, they were both distant from what I felt I could even possibly learn how to play. Meanwhile, the White Album was far more approachable, with the exception of some of the darker experimental corners. One of the first songs I learned how to play was “Rocky Raccoon.” It might still hold number one Beatles record in my heart.

Talking Heads: Remain in Light

My “cool uncle” from NYC bought me three records (I later discovered it was his younger and hipper boyfriend who picked them out) for my 14th birthday, clearly intended to open my mind, which was begging to be opened, having grown up in the decidedly more conservative suburb of Huntington, Long Island, where ’60s and ’70s mainstream rock was holding strong in 1980. They gave me a Nina Hagen EP, the first U2 record, Boy, and Talking Heads’ Remain in Light. The Hagen record was a hoot and a mild shock. My buds and I knew about punk rock but I could not yet figure out that Nina was a poseur/train jumper. No one had heard of U2 yet, and that sounded so new and fresh, yet accessible. I am not sure if I knew they would become so huge so fast, but neither was I surprised when they did.

But it was Remain in Light that drew me in immediately and I keep listening to though all my years. The Eno-driven production; the loops; the Fela Kuti and African rhythms; the off-kilter paranoid and funny poetry of David Byrne’s lyrics; but most of all, the still-insane-sounding guitar work by Adrian Belew, who I think was the most innovative guitar player since Jimi Hendrix — all of it blew my mind and made me ambitious to be an artist, to make music that was new and at least attempted to be innovative. I had known the Heads for a few years, “Psycho Killer,” “Take Me to the River,” “Cities,” and “Life During Wartime,” were all getting lots of airplay in NY. But this record was revolutionary for me and I became a huge fan, going to see them in Providence on the tour that was filmed for the Jonathan Demme (RIP) movie, Stop Making Sense.

R.E.M.: Murmur

My trajectory of seeking out new music continued, and became especially easier when I turned 16 and my family relocated to the suburbs of Boston in 1982. College radio was and continues to be a strong presence around here. I finished my last two years of high school in a tiny conservative town, with a graduating class of 180 (compared to around 800 at my New York school). But lots of the kids in my class were into new wave, punk rock, etc. The Clash were huge and kids were buying the Violent Femmes first record, the Specials, Police, plus the more adventurous of us were going into Boston to Newbury Comics record store (there was only one at the time) and buying New Order, Mission of Burma, the dBs, Echo and the Bunnymen, and that sort of thing. It was just an exciting time. So much seemed to be changing rapidly from 1980 to 1984. One of the bands that everyone loved was the English Beat, who played the Walter Brown hockey arena at Boston University in the spring of 1983. A bunch of us loaded into a few cars and went to skank our skinny asses off.

But the opening band, R.E.M., stopped me in my tracks. No one had heard of them. Instead of the light and bright ska-pop of the Beat, R.E.M. was this murky, yes, jangly group that looked like artsy hippies in flannel shirts, long hair, white shirts with vests, Rickenbacker guitars, in blue lights and shadows. Occasional lyrics floated to the surface of this mysterious, dreamlike music. Just as with the Stones and Dylan records, they were the proverbial portals and I wanted to dive in and learn more, and just as with those artists, I became a lifelong fan of R.E.M. I felt like they were my discovery. It was not hand-me-down music. It was an unparalleled thrill when Buffalo Tom was invited to stay at Peter Buck’s house in Athens on one of our first tours. He was an exceedingly gracious host who kept us up until dawn playing records and talking about music.

If I were to go past five of these, I would add Let It Be by the Replacements and Zen Arcade by Hüsker Dü, both of which directly changed my pathway and helped lead Chris, Tom, and I into forming Buffalo Tom. But that’s for another day.

Bjørn Hammershaug

1960-tallet: 100 Favorittalbum

En høyst dynamisk liste over mine 100 favorittskiver fra 1960-tallet – og en høyst personlig rangering, skjønt da den var ferdig ble den til forveksling identisk med den etablerte 60-tallskanoen, med mange av de største tungvekterne trygt på plass. Det ble derfor ikke en så original liste som jeg hadde trodd og håpet, men den er til gjengjeld veldig sterk, og understerker periodens posisjon som da alt kunne skje – og der alt skjedde, ikke minst innen musikken. Det er tre små år mellom “Please Please Me” og “Tomorrow Never Knows”. 1960-tallet var tiåret da musikken tok steget fra singleformat og låtfokus til albumformat og konseptkunst. Det er tiåret da tenåringene  ikke bare fikk frihet fra voksengenerasjonen, men grep mulighetene som bød seg og skapte sin egen identitet. I USA dannet Vietnam-krigen lange skygger over samfunnet, og sammen med økt bevisstgjøring, et skarpere politisk klima, urban uro og ikke minst sosialt og kulturelt engasjement, skaptes en motkulturell bevegelse som strømmet fritt gjennom til musikken. 1960-tallet ga oss Newport og Antibes, men også Woodstock og Altamont. Det var ‘A time for greatness’ og det var ‘the summer of love’, og det var den tunge nedturen som fulgte i dens kjølevann.

Det er ikke mangel på gode plater som er den største utfordringen når 100 favorittalbum skal plukkes fra dette grensesprengende tiåret, utfordringen ligger mest i begrensningens noble art. For å hjelpe litt til, så er utvalget avgrenset ned til to plater pr. artist, ellers ville nok f.eks. The Beatles, John Coltrane eller Miles Davis vært tyngre representert. Rekkefølgen er noenlunde korrekt organisert.

For 60-tallets beste låter: People in the Sun: 100 Favorittlåter fra 1960-tallet


The Velvet Underground & Nico: s/t
(Verve, 1967)

John Coltrane: A Love Supreme
(Impulse!, 1965)

The Beatles: Rubber Soul
(Parlophone, 1965)

Nick Drake: Five Leaves Left
(Island, 1969)

Neil Young & Crazy Horse: Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere
(Reprise, 1969)

Miles Davis: In a Silent Way
(Columbia, 1969)

Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band: Safe as Milk
(Buddah, 1967)

The Stooges: s/t
(Elektra, 1969)

Frank Zappa: Hot Rats
(Bizarre, 1969)

The Jimi Hendrix Experience: Electric Ladyland
(Reprise, 1968)

….and the rest of the best….:

The Velvet Underground: White Light/White Heat (1968)
Can: Monster Movie (1969)
The Byrds: Younger Than Yesterday (1967)
Love: Forever Changes (1967)
Dr. John: Gris-Gris (1968)
Creedence Clearwater Revival: Green River (1969)
Bob Dylan: Blonde on Blonde (1966)
Aretha Franklin: I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You (1967)
The Jimi Hendrix Experience: Are You Experienced (1967)
Thelonious Monk: Straight, No Chaser (1966)

John Coltrane: Live at Birdland (1964)
Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band: Trout Mask Replica (1969)
The Beatles: Revolver (1966)
Bill Evans: Sunday at the Village Vanguard (1961)
Otis Redding: Otis Blue/Otis Redding Sings Soul (1965)
Leonard Cohen: The Songs of Leonard Cohen (1967)
John Fahey: Dance of Death & Other Plantation Favorites (1965)
Ornette Coleman: Free Jazz (1960)
Pink Floyd: The Piper at the Gates of Dawn (1967)
Miles Davis: Miles Smiles (1967)

The Byrds: The Notorious Byrd Brothers (1968)
Crosby, Stills & Nash: s/t (1969)
Van Morrison: Astral Weeks (1968)
Bob Dylan: Bringing It All Back Home (1965)
James Brown: Live at the Apollo (1963)
Caetano Veloso: Tropicalia (1968)
The Band: Music from Big Pink (1968)
Townes Van Zandt: Our Mother the Mountain (1967)
Johnny Cash: At Folsom Prison (1968)
Pharoah Sanders: Karma (1969)


The Soft Machine: s/t (1968)
13th Floor Elevators: The Psychedelic Sounds Of The 13th Floor Elevators (1966)
The Flying Burrito Brothers: The Gilded Palace Of Sin (1969)
The Kinks: The Village Green Preservation Society (1968)
Alice Coltrane: A Monastic Trio (1968)
Townes Van Zandt: For the Sake of the Song (1968)
Van Dyke Parks: Song Cycle (1968)
Os Mutantes: s/t (1968)
Terry Riley: A Rainbow in Curved Air (1969)
Raymond Scott: Soothing Sounds For Baby Volume 1 (1962)

Charles Mingus: The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady (1963)
Fairport Convention: Unhalfbricking (1969)
The Jimi Hendrix Experience: Axis: Bold as Love (1967)
The Seeds: s/t (1966)
Blue Cheer: Vincebus Eruptum (1968)
Tim Buckley: Goodbye and Hello (1967)
The Doors: s/t (1967)
Sonny Sharrock: Black Woman (1969)
Archie Shepp: Mama Too Tight (1967)
The Rolling Stones: Beggars Banquet (1968)

MC5: Kick Out the Jams (1969)
Bob Dylan: Highway 61 Revisited (1965)
The Zombies: Odessey & Oracle (1968)
The Beach Boys: Pet Sounds (1966)
Silver Apples: s/t (1968)
The Sonics: Here Are the Sonics (1965)
John Fahey: The Transfiguration Of Blind Joe Death (1965)
Eric Dolphy: Out to Lunch (1964)
The United States of America: The United States of America (1968)
Yusef Lateef: The Blue Yusef Lateef (1969)

King Crimson: In the Court of the Crimson King (1969)
Led Zeppelin: II (1969)
Dusty Springfield: Dusty in Memphis (1969)
The Zombies: Odessey and Oracle (1968)
Jim Ford: Harlan County (1969)
Shirley Collins & Davy Graham: Folk Roots, New Routes (1964)
Etta James: At Last! (1961)
Tony Joe White: Black & White (1968)
Bill Evans: Waltz For Debby (1962)
Thelonious Monk: With John Coltrane (1961)

Monks: Black Monk Time (1966)
Tim Hardin: 2 (1967)
Isaac Hayes: Hot Buttered Soul (1969)
Buffalo Springfield: Buffalo Springfield Again (1967)
Jan Johansson: Jazz på Svenska (1964)
Nico: Chelsea Girl (1967)
Scott Walker: Scott 2 (1968)
Various Artists: A Christmas Gift to You From Phil Spector (1963)
Roland Kirk: I Talk With the Spirits (1964)
The Shaggs: Philosophy of the World (1969)

Karlheinz Stockhausen: Kontakte (1964)
The Red Crayola: Parable of Arable Land (1967)
Sandy Bull: Inventions for Guitar & Banjo (1965)
Howlin’ Wolf: s/t (1962)
David Axelrod: Songs of Innocence (1968)
Robbie Basho: Venus in Cancer (1969)
Alexander Skip Spence: Oar (1969)
Amon Düül II: Phallus Dei (1969)
AMM: AMMMusic (1966)
Pierre Henry: Messe Pour Le Temps Présent (1967)
The Holy Modal Rounders: The Moray Eels Eat the Holy Modal Rounders (1968)

Messing With Classics

mclemore_1200_720

Reinventing the wheel is dangerous business.

Having remade Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side Of The Moon in 2009 as well as releasing a very rare take of The Stone Roses’ self titled debut in 2013, The Flaming Lips have made a name for themselves as a band unafraid to tackle classic material on their own terms. They continue in that same vein with their new rendition of The Beatles’ 1967 Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

Says Lips’ Wayne Coyne: ‘Mostly we do it because it’s fun… I don’t think we have any agenda. I mean we make so, so much music that it can be a relief not to be working on your own songs…everyone who makes their own music has this secret joy of playing songs that aren’t theirs.’

Coyne goes on to suggest that these albums we call ‘classics’ aren’t as sacred as we hold them to be, their resonance in people being, to an extent, ‘dumb luck.’ While there may be some truth to this statement, any artist so bold as to take on one of these works ought to anticipate the expectations they are setting up for themselves.

An act far beyond covering a single track, and far more rare, remaking a full album is a risky business, especially when it comes to legends as the Pink Floyd or The Beatles. The Flaming Lips do it their own way and for their own reasons, but they’re not the only ones stepping into thin air. Here are 10 other interesting attempts at full album covers.

Easy All-Stars:
Dub Side Of The Moon
(Easy Star, 2003)

dark_sideThe original:
Pink Floyd:
The Dark Side Of The Moon
(Harvest, 1973)
The Dark Side Of The Moon is quite simply one of the most iconic, best known and best-selling albums of all time, remaining on the Billboard charts for a stunning 741 weeks in a row. That’s 14 years, folks! Using some of the most advanced studio techniques, such as multi track recording and tape loops, this was state-of-the-art at the time – but its the human quality of the songs and the artistry of entire album that make it simply timeless.

dubside_240What is this about?
This is the debut album by the New York-based reggae collective Easy Star All-Stars, and one that gave them instant stardom. Just as the original album has been a regular on the world’s sales charts since the release, Dub Side of the Moon has steadily remained on the Reggae charts all the way since 2003. The band followed up their success with Radiodread (2006) and Easy Star’s Lonely Hearts Dub Band (2009), and of course, Dubber Side of the Moon in 2010.

Why should I listen to it?
Does a dub-reggae interpretation of The Dark Side of the Moon sound a good idea? Well, not really, but this actually works out amazingly well. This is a complete makeover, though with the actual song structures kept fairly intact, even sticking to the same time-pace as Pink Floyd, which many have said synchs perfectly with the first hour of The Wizard of Oz. Try to leave your stoner jokes at the door, but it’s hard not to giggle when the chiming of clocks on “Time” is replaced with the bubbling of a bong, followed by a smokey cough. Bringing their own kind of psychedelic haze into the magical mystery tour of the original songs, including roots reggae, jungle and dancehall, Dub Side of the Moon is heading for the same directions, but on a different space shuttle.

The Dirty Projectors:
Rise Above
(Dead Oceans, 2007)

black_damagedThe Original:
Black Flag:
Damaged
(SST, 1981)
A true hardcore cornerstone; Damaged is one of the most influential punk albums of all time. Black Flag defined the entire L.A punk scene and paved way for American underground rock with ferocious anger and rambling anthems like “Gimmie Gimmie Gimmie,” “T.V. Party,” and “Police Story.”

dirty_riseWhat is this about?
Dirty Projector mastermind Dave Longstreth hadn’t heard Damaged in 15 years when he decided to remake it basically from how he remembered it in his youth. Longstreth, being a complete opposite of Henry Rollins in every way, turns angry riffs into lush orchestration, and angry yelling into sweet harmonies.

Why should I listen to it?
This is something completely different, that’s for sure, and not an album aimed at the typical Black Flag-fan – or hardcore enthusiast at all. Longstreth and his Dirty Projectors reache far beyond such categorization, and this is probably a love-hate kind of work. The critic’s stayed mainly positive, ‘That the album has a concept – a song-by-song ‘reimagining’ of Black Flag’s Damaged – scarcely matters to the listener, although it seems good for Longstreth: It gives the illusion of an anchor,’ wrote Pitchfork (8.1/10), while in a more lukewarm response, Paste Magazine stated, ‘This is either one of 2007’s most refreshing or most grating albums, and there’s a hair’s breadth in between.’

Laibach:
Let It Be
(Mute, 1988)

beatles_beThe Original:
The Beatles:
Let It Be
(Apple, 1970)
The final studio album released by The Beatles, even though it was mostly recorded prior to Abbey Road in the early months of 1969. The quartet was already in steaming ruins at the time of its release in May 1970, but the grandiose, orchestral production of Phil Spector manages to even out the frictions within the band. A second proper version of the album was released in 2003 without his heavy-handed touch, as Let It Be… Naked.

laiback_beWhat is this about?
In the history of odd combinations, this one really stands out. The industrial/neo-classical Slovenian outfit Laibach doesn’t compromise their strict, military sound and guttural singing when turning towards the gentle pop of The Beatles. Their beautiful version of “Across The Universe” aside, this shows another side of The Beatles. Laibach decided to drop the title track on their version, and replaced “Maggie Mae” with a German folk tune.

 

Why should I listen to it?
For Beatles-lovers, mainly because you’ve never heard The Beatles like this before. As All Music Guide puts it, ‘In some respects, Let It Be wasn’t that hard of an effort – songs like “Get Back”, “I Me Mine,” and “One After 909” simply had to have the Laibach elements applied (growled vocals, martial drums, chanting choirs, overpowering orchestrations, insanely over-the-top guitar solos) to be turned into bizarre doppelgängers. The sheer creepiness of hearing such well-known songs transformed, though, is more than enough reason to listen in.” But this is also a political statement. Made at the dawn of the Slovenian independence movement, it evokes living behind the Iron Curtain at a time when the people no longer would ‘let it be.’

Booker T. & M.G.’s:
McLemore Avenue
(Stax, 1970)

abbey_beatlesThe Original:
The Beatles:
Abbey Road
(Apple, 1969)
The real swan song by The Beatles, and the last sessions where they all participated, is nothing short of a masterpiece, bringing them into brave new musical directions (again and for the last time), completed with standout tracks like “Something,” “Sun King,” and “Come Together” – and of course the iconic cover art. Fun fact: a 19-year-old Alan Parsons worked as an assistant engineer in the studio. Known not only for his own subsequent artistic career, he also did the engineering on the aforementioned The Dark Side of the Moon.

booker_mclemoreWhat is this about?
Booker T. Jones was so awestruck when he heard Abbey Road, he just had to pay immediate homage to it, and together with Donald “Duck” Dunn, drummer Al Jackson and the rest of the M.G’s, he made McLemore Avenue just a couple of weeks after its release. The album cover is even a remake of the original, McLemore Avenue being the street passing Stax studios in Memphis. You can even spot the famous “Hitsville USA” sign back there.

Why should I listen to it?
This is a soulful, instrumental and quite improvisational interpretation, where the single tracks are bundled into three lengthy medleys – except for “Something”, the only standalone track – securing a sweet Southern flow that suits the songs surprisingly well.

Petra Haden:
Petra Haden Sings the Who Sell Out
(Bar/None, 2005)

who_selloutThe original:
The Who:
The Who Sell Out
(Decca, 1967)
A concept based tribute album to pirate radio, complete with fake commercials and jingles in-between the songs. A milestone in their catalog, The Who Sell Out is far from a sell-out. This masterpiece is a perfect blend of mod pop and hard rock, wonderful vocal harmonies and with some of the bands finest songs, including “I Can See For Miles.”

haden_selloutWhat is this about?
This daring project came to life when Mike Watt (of Minutemen fame) handed his friend, singer-violinist Petra Haden (that dog, The Decemberists, many others), an 8-track cassette tape with the original Who album recorded onto one track and the other seven empty, for her to fill with intricate vocal harmonies. Haden decided to remake the classic by herself, and only herself. This a cappella version features just her, singing all the voices, all the instruments and yeah, even the jingles and the mock radio commercials.

Why should I listen to it?
This could’ve ended up a total train wreck in the hands of others, but Petra Haden has the vocal capability and keen musical understanding to transform one masterpiece into another. And Pete Townsend himself approved of it, speaking with Entertainment Weekly in 2005, ‘”I heard the music as if for the first time. I listened all the way through in one sitting and was struck by how beautiful a lot of the music was. Petra’s approach is so tender and generous. I adore it.”

Camper Van Beethoven:
Tusk
(Pitch-A-Tent, 2003)

fleetwood_tuskThe original:
Fleetwood Mac:
Tusk
(Warner, 1979)
Actually the most expensive album made at that time, with a stunning $1 million price tag. According to author Rob Trucks’ in his 33 1/3 book Fleetwood Mac’s Tusk, the group started their recording session with a cocaine fueled celebration of Mick Fleetwood’s new $70,000 sports car, before he got a phone call saying that the uninsured car was broadsided and demolished while being towed to his home. The album itself also became a commercial car crash, selling ‘only’ four million copies – something like 20 millions less than Rumours. It is now generally hailed as a keystone album within the AOR segment.

camper_tuskWhat is this about?
This is nothing less than a re-recording of a re-recording. First done by Camper Van Beethoven in 1987 around spare time of making their delightful Our Beloved Revolutionary Sweetheart. This song-for-song remake didn’t get a proper release until 2003 when they returned from a 12-year long hiatus. They dug up these old demo tapes, and decided to give it another shot, more or less as an experiment to see if they still could play together and work as a group.

Why should I listen to it?
And they sure could. Camper Van Beethoven gained popularity as one the most beloved alternative rock bands in the mid ‘80s; combining garage/punk roots with jangle pop, ska and country-folk. All elements are present here, on a collection where the song material of course is excellent – the performance loose and joyous. Even if it’s not up there with Camper’s best albums, it’s still a treat.

Macy Gray:
Talking Book
(429/Savoy, 2012)

wonder_talkingThe original:
Stevie Wonder:
Talking Book
(Tamla, 1972)
An undisputed classic from the glorious creative highpoint of Stevie Wonder; Talking Book secured him multi-platinum sales, several hit songs (“Superstition”, “You Are The Sunshine Of My Life”) and a swath of Grammys.

 

macy_talkingWhat is this about?
Not promoted as a covers album, but rather labeled a ‘love letter’ to Stevie Wonder on the occasion of the original’s 40th anniversary, Macy Gray did her tribute in a pretty straightforward way, leaning on her raspy voice and keeping the funky edge more or less intact.

Why should I listen to it?
This album received various critics. Popmatters.com stated that ‘some of these versions just seem unnecessary, more a product of the let’s-cover-the-whole-album concept rather than songs that anyone was dying to re-record;’ while The New Yorker wrote in a much more positive review, ‘Gray hits all the right notes, both as a singer and an interpreter: it’s a marvelous, expansive, eccentric performance that lifts off into gospel toward the end. The original version was about romantic love. This one may be about matters more divine (there’s one explicit mention of prayer), unless it’s just Gray’s way of reiterating her devotion for Talking Book itself. Either way, it’s a stirring closer, and a reminder that the most important thing about a love letter is how it ends,’ referencing the closer, “I Believe (When I Fall In Love It Will Be Forever).”

The Walkmen:
Pussy Cats
(Record Collection, 2006)

harry_catsThe original:
Harry Nilsson:
Pussy Cats
(RCA, 1974)
In 1974 John Lennon temporarily separated from Yoko Ono and left New York for a period, settling in Los Angeles and rambling around with Harry Nilsson in what is commonly known as the “Lost Weekend.” Fueled by large amounts of booze, the pair entered the studio together and recorded Pussy Cats, with a worn-out Harry Nilsson at the microphone and Lennon filling in as producer. The album is guested by, amongst others, Ringo Starr, Jim Keltner and Keith Moon. It must have been a hell of a party.

walkmen_catsWhat is this about?
It started out as a joke, but ended up as a full album. Indie/post-punk outfit The Walkmen did a track-by-track, note-by-note remake of one their favorite albums, recorded in the last days of their Marcata studio in New York City. Together with a bunch of friends they created their own Lost Weekend while the studio fell apart around them. Oddly enough, we get a couple of covers of covers here as well, since Nilsson/Lennon themselves versions of “Many Rivers To Cross” and Dylan’s “Subterranean Homesick Blues.”

Why should I listen to it?
It’s kind of hard to revitalize the ramblings of the drinking buddies, and wisely enough, singer Hamilton Leithauser does not try to impersonate Nilsson growls. As the little sister to the band’s main album of that year, A Hundred Miles Off, this one might be considered a parenthesis in their own catalog; but it’s in some ways just as good. The band catches the vibe while creating their own mood into it. And hopefully it helped gain more attention to an often-overlooked gem from the mid-‘70s.

Carla Bozulich:
Red Headed Stranger
(DiCristina Stairbuilders, 2003)

willie_strangerThe original:
Willie Nelson:
Red Headed Stranger
(Columbia, 1975)
Being dissatisfied with is relations with Atlantic Records, outlaw cowboy Willie Nelson turned to Columbia in 1975 for more artistic freedom. His first statement was Red Headed Stranger, a concept album about a fugitive on the run from the law after killing his wife and her lover. With a production so sparse even Columbia thought it was just demo tapes, but they kept their promise of artistic liberty and hesitantly released Stranger – to wide acclaim from the public and critics alike. It was Nelson’s big breakthrough, sold multi-platinum and is generally ranked among his finest works to date.

carla_strangerWhat is this about?
Singer/songwriter Carla Bozulich first gained attention as the singer in Ethyl Meatplow and country-based post-punk band The Geraldine Fibbers, later performing as Evangelista. Red Headed Stranger is her first solo album, and an escape from the pressure of writing new songs. She turned to this classic, aided by, amongst others, longtime partner Nels Cline, Alan Sparhawk of Low – and hey, Willie Nelson himself.

Why should I listen to it?
The result is nothing short of gorgeous. Adding instruments like Autoharp, electric mbira and tamboura into the mix, Bozulich does more than a remake, this is a true rediscovery with new soundscapes within a whole different aural texture. As All Music sums it up in their rave review, ‘As downtrodden and spiritually haunting as its predecessor, this new Red Headed Stranger is vital and necessary, a work of new Americana — not the radio format, but the mythos itself.’

Dave Depper:
The RAM Project
(Jackpot/City Slang)

macca_ramThe original:
Paul McCartney:
Ram
(Apple, 1971)
The second solo album from Macca, made in the shadows of breaking up The Beatles and darkened by his sour relationship with John Lennon. Ram was not received favorably in its time (nothing less than “monumentally irrelevant” according to Rolling Stone’s Jon Landau), but its reputation has grown steadily throughout the years, and it is now considered as on his best solo albums. Same Rolling Stone, different writer, called it, in-retrospect, a ‘daffy masterpiece.’

01, 12/7/10, 3:42 PM, 8C, 4920x4936 (528+1736), 100%, Custom, 1/60 s, R46.0, G28.0, B51.0

01, 12/7/10, 3:42 PM, 8C, 4920×4936 (528+1736), 100%, Custom, 1/60 s, R46.0, G28.0, B51.0

What is this about?
In 2010 Dave Depper decided to re-do Paul McCartney’s Ram completely by himself in is own bedroom. For one month he carefully recorded every single instrument, with just a little aid from Joan Hiller in the role of Linda McCartney. What started as a bedroom project turned out to be a proper release, and one that has continued to live on for Depper, being something much bigger than he initially intended.

Why should I listen to it?
This is a pretty impressive piece of work, clearly done with lots of passion and love. More a re-built creation than anything else, an exercise in imitation. As with the approach of the Flaming Lips, sometimes music is just about having a good time, and stumble upon brilliance now and then, even if that brilliance belongs to other people.

Bjørn Hammershaug

People in the Sun: 1960-tallet – 100 Favorittlåter

60-tallet var et tiår med enorme omveltninger, sosialt, kulturelt og musikalsk. Denne lista gjenspeiler noe av dette, dog med hovedvekt på siste halvdel av tiåret. Aldri har vel popmusikken sett så gjennomgripende endringer som i de turbulente årene fra 1966 og i noen år framover, der nye studiomuligheter, psykedelisk dop og politiske spenninger ble gjenspeilet i musikk som ikke bare utfordret eksisterende rammer, men sprengte nye grenser med drønn som fremdeles vibrerer fram til vår tid.

Dette er mine favorittlåter fra tiåret, begrenset ned til én låt pr. artist. Bare The Beatles alene kunne jo lett fylt opp en slik Topp 100-liste. De aller fleste tilhører den angloamerikanske tradisjonen, men her både norsk jazz, sør-amerikansk tropicalia, tysk kraut og etiopiske grooves blant opplagte valg som The Velvet Underground, Neil Young og The Byrds. De kommer høyt opp på en liste som toppes av britisk høststemning på sitt aller fineste.

nick_drake_1200

Nick Drake: River Man (1969)
The Beatles: Something (1969)
Nina Simone: Sinnerman (1965)
Neil Young: Down By the River (1969)
Velvet Underground: Sister Ray (1967)
Mulatu Astatke: Yekermo Yew (1969)
Dr. John: I Walk on Guilded Splinters (1968)
John Coltrane : Mr. P.C. (1963)
Fairport Convention: Autopsy (1969)
Captain Beefheart: Electricity (1967)

roy_orbison_1200

Roy Orbison: In Dreams (1963)
Frank Zappa: Willie the Pimp (1969)
Creedence Clearwater Revival: Walk on the Water (1968)
Grant Green: Idle Moments (1963)
The 13th Floor Elevators: Reveberation (1966)
The Byrds: Goin’ Back (1967)
Roberta Flack: The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face (1969)
Isaac Hayes: Walk on By (1969)
Ennio Morricone: Il Buono, Il Cattivo, Il Brutto (1966)
Pink Floyd: Set the Controls For the Heart of the Sun (1968)

flying_burrito_1200

Can: Father Cannot Yell (1969)
Bob Dylan: Masters of War (1963)
Miles Davis: Shhh/Peaceful (1969)
The Flying Burrito Brothers: Hot Burrito #1 (1969)
The First Edition: Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In) (1968)
Buffalo Springfield: Broken Arrow (1967)
Johnny Cash: Folsom Prison Blues (1968)
MC5: Kick Out the Jams (1969)
Son House: John the Revelator (1965)
Tony Joe White: Don’t Steal My Love (1968)

santana_1200

Townes Van Zandt: Tecumseh Valley (1969)
Santana: Soul Sacrifice (1969)
Jan Johansson: Visa Från Utanmyra (1964)
The Band: The Weight (1968)
Skeeter Davis : The End of the World (1963)
Elvis Presley: Suspicious Minds (1969)
Jimi Hendrix: All Along the Watchtower (1968)
Nancy Sinatra & Lee Hazlewood: Some Velvet Morning (1967)
James Carr: The Dark End of the Street (1967)
Love: This House Is Not a Motel (1967)

otis_redding

Sam Cooke: A Change Is Gonna Come (1964)
Simon & Garfunkel: The Sounds of Silence (1964)
Otis Redding: I’ve Been Loving You Too Long (1965)
Leonard Cohen: Suzanne (1968)
Booker T. & Thee M.G’s: Green Onions (1962)
Caetano Veloso: Tropcália (1967)
Dionne Warwick: Walk On By (1964)
The Rolling Stones: Sympathy For the Devil (1968)
James Brown: Think (Live, 1962) (1963)
The Ronettes: Be My Baby (1969)

os_mutantes

Testa-maryam Kidane: Heywete (196?)
The Mamas & the Papas: Twelve Thirty (Young Girls Are Coming to the Canyon) (1967)
Donovan: Hurdy Gurdy Man (1968)
Sun Ra and His Myth-Science Arkestra: Angels and Demons at Play (1967)
Os Mutantes: A Minha Menina (1968)
Jefferson Airplane: Comin’ Back to Me 1967
Van Morrison: The Way Young Lovers Do (1968)
The Sonics: Strychnine (1965)
Buffy Sainte-Marie: God Is Alive Magic Is Afoot (1969)
Julie Driscoll & Brian Auger: Indian Rope Man (1969)

monks_1200

Laura Nyro: New York Tendaberry (1969)
Bobby Fuller Four: I Fought the Law (1966)
The Monks: Black Monk Time (1966)
The Kinks: Waterloo Sunset (1967)
Arlo Guthrie: Coming Into Los Angeles (1969)
Bobby Vinton: Blue Velvet (1963)
The Kinks: Waterloo Sunset (1967)
The Electric Prunes: I Had Too Much to Dream (Last Night) (1966)
Glen Campbell: By the Time I Get to Phoenix (1967)
Pete Drake: Forever (1964)

Print

Terje Rypdal: Dead Man’s Tale (1968)
The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band: Shifting Sands (1967)
Wendy & Bonnie: Let Yourself Go Another Time (1969)
John Fahey: Wine & Roses (1965)
Martha & the Vandellas: Heat Wave (1963)
Yusef Lateef: Juba Juba (1968)
Led Zeppelin: Dazed & Confused (1969)
Erik Andersen Quartet: Cordon Bleu (1969)
The Shangri-Las: Out in the Streets (1965)
The Seeds: Pushin’ Too Hard (1965)

silver_apples

Karin Krog: Mr. Joy (1968)
Henry Flynt & The Insurrections: Uncle Sam Do (1966)
The Supremes: Baby Love (1964)
Sandy Bull: Carmina Burana Fantasy (1963)
Oliver Nelson: Stolen Moments (1961)
Desmond Dekker & The Aces: Israelites (1968)
Count Five: Psychotic Reaction (1965)
The Zombies: Time of the Season (1968)
Blue Cheer: Parchment Farm (1968)
Silver Apples: Oscillations (1968)

joe_meek

Frank Sinatra: It Was a Very Good Year (1965)
The Crystals: Then He Kissed Me (1963)
Terry Callier: Golden Apples of the Sun (1968)
Muddy Waters: I’ve Got My Mojo Working (Live, Newport) (1960)
Blood, Sweat & Tears: I Love You More Than You’ll Ever Know (1968)
The Stooges: 1969 (1969)
John Jacob Niles: Hangman (1961)
Joe Meek: I Hear A New World (1960)
Scott Walker: Winter Night (1969)
The Doors: The End (1967)

Bjørn Hammershaug