Sunday, January 27, 2013

The First 100 Albums That Occurred To Me, Roughly In The Order In Which They Occurred To Me

When I got out several pieces of paper and a pen to write down the 100 greatest albums of all time, these were the first 100 to occur to me.

The Beatles, Abbey Road
The Beatles, The Beatles (The White Album)
The Moody Blues, Seventh Sojourn
They Might Be Giants, Flood
They Might Be Giants, They Might Be Giants
Kirsty MacColl, Kite
The Beatles, Let It Be
The Beatles, Revolver
Scot Ninnemann, Moon June Spoon
Scot Ninnemann, Slight Change of Plans
Flip Nasty, Guitool
UFO Catcher, The Tale of a Sad And Lonely Boy Who Dreamed of Love
Kaptain Karl, Art Is A Lie, Baby
Kaptain Karl, The Chicago Tapes
Kaptain Karl, The Kepler Agenda
Jubilant Dogs, Abby
Prince, Purple Rain
Prince, Dirty Mind
Simon and Garfunkel, Bookends
Simon and Garfunkel, Bridge Over Troubled Water
Ben Folds Five, Ben Folds Five
Ben Folds, Rocking the Suburbs
Bob Dylan, Highway 61 Revisited
Bob Dylan, Blonde on Blonde
Bob Dylan, Blood on the Tracks
Bob Dylan, Oh Mercy
Bob Dylan, Time Out Of Mind
Bob Dylan, The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan, Bringing it All Back Home
Bob Dylan, Desire
Bob Dylan, "Love And Theft"
Bob Dylan, Live 1966
Lou Reed, Transformer
Lou Reed, Set the Twilight Reeling
The Velvet Underground, The Velvet Underground and Nico
The Velvet Underground, The Velvet Underground
The Velvet Underground, Loaded
Liz Phair, Exile in Guyville
Trip Shakespeare, Across the Universe
Trip Shakespeare, Lulu
Matt Wilson, Burnt White and Blue
The Beatles, Rubber Soul
Billy Bragg, Worker's Playtime
Billy Bragg, Don't Try This At Home
Joni Mitchell, Hejira
Joni Mitchell, Blue
Joni Mitchell, The Hissing of Summer Lawns
Joni Mitchell, Court and Spark
Paul Simon, There Goes Rhymin' Simon
Paul Simon, Graceland
Paul Simon, Paul Simon's Concert in Central Park
Joni Mitchell, Ladies of the Canyon
Paul SImon, Hearts and Bones
John Coltrane, Giant Steps
John Coltrane, Africa/Brass
John Coltrane, Live at the Village Vanguard
Charles Mingus, Mingus Ah Um
Sarah McLachlan, Fumbling Towards Ecstasy
Sarah McLachlan, Surfacing
Enya, Paint the Sky With Stars
Steve Miller Band, Greatest Hits 1974-1978
James Taylor, Greatest Hits
Gram Parsons, GP
Gram Parsons, Return of the Grevious Angel
The Minnesota Orchestra, The Complete Beethoven Symphonies
Les Miserables, Original Cast Recording
The Byrds, Mr. Tambourine Man
The Byrds, Sweetheart of the Rodeo
The Band, Music From Big Pink
The Band, The Band (The Brown Album)
Bob Dylan & The Band, The Basement Tapes
Paul McCartney (or whatever), Band on the Run
Billy Joel, The Stranger
Billy Joel, Turnstyles
Billy Joel, Cold Spring Harbor
Paul McCartney, Tug of War
Paul McCartney, Venus and Mars
Paul McCartney, Flowers in the Dirt
Jimi Hendrix, Are You Experienced?
Jimi Hendrix, Axis: Bold As Love
Cocteau Twins, Heaven or Las Vegas
Elvis Presley, The King of Rock and Roll: The Complete '50s Masters
Elvis Presley, From Nashville To Memphis: The Essential '60s Masters I
Elvis Presley, Promised Land
Elvis Presley, From Elvis Presley Boulevard in Memphis, Tennessee
Elvis Presley, Memories: The 1968 Comeback Special
Elvis Presley, Elvis Country
Elvis Presley, Moody Blue
Elvis Presley, That's The Way It Is
Bruce Springsteen, Born To Run
Bruce Springsteen, Darkness on the Edge of Town
The Kinks, The Kinks are The Village Green Preservation Society
John Lennon, Imagine
John Lennon & Yoko Ono, Double Fantasy
George Harrison, Brainwashed
George Harrison, All Things Must Pass
George Harrison, George Harrison
George Harrison, Could Nine
The Moody Blues, The Other Side of Life
"Weird Al" Yankovic, Dare To Be Stupid
"Weird Al" Yankovic, Alpocalypse
Lady Gaga, The Fame Monster
David Bowie, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders From Mars
David Bowie, Hunky Dory
David Bowie, Low
David Bowie, Heathen
David Bowie, Reality
David Bowie, Station To Station
The Kinks, Muswell Hillbillies
Falco, Falco3

And I think that was 100.

Next time I sat down/stuff I thought of immediately afterwards:

John Hartford, Areo-Plane
Guster, Keep It Together
Guns -N- Roses, Appettite For Destruction
The Carpenters, 1969-1973
Big Star, #1 Record/Radio City
Big Star, Third/Sister Lovers
Evan Johnson, How Could I Know
Colin Spring, How I Came To Cry These Tears of Cool
Trip Shakespeare, Volt
Semisonic, Feeling Strangely Fine
Ted Hawkins, The Final Tour

I thought about looking over my CD collection and adding anything I forgot, then cutting up the pieces of paper and physically assembling the absolutely definitive list, in order. But I'm 41 not 14.

Friday, January 04, 2013

Top Ten Most Inspiring Keyboard Moments

Number. Title - Artist - Keyboard Player - Album - Year

10. One Angry Dwarf and 200 Solemn Faces - Ben Folds Five - Whatever And Ever Amen - 1997
My reaction upon hearing this in 1997 was, "Hey! Someone is making great piano music in a way that no one else has since Billy Joel and Elton John started dramatically overproducing their records in the 1980s! Hallelujah! Must acquire everything by him."

9. Let It Be - The Beatles - Paul McCartney - Let It Be - 1970
I have basically fetishized every aspect of this entire performance. The way the left hand octaves interact rhythmically with the right hand block chords. The way the F chord has an e in it which goes down to a d that sounds like a mistake at first. The actual mistake on "Mother Mary" during verse three. The way the gospel riff happens exactly one and a half times total. This song provides the crossover with my top ten guitar solos list. Fascinating alternate version from the movie.

Shoot, I could make this whole list Beatles songs. I could ALMOST make the whole list from Let It Be. So let's give honorable mentions to Billy Preston, electric piano on One After 909 and Get Back and Paul again for The Long And Winding Road. Don't know who did the Moog solo on Because from Abbey Road. George Martin's double speed classical solo on In My Life, which was copied by me on Jubilant Dogs' Stratosphere.

8. Green-Eyed Lady - Sugarloaf - Jerry Corbetta - Sugarloaf - 1970
I love the snaky riff, but what grabbed me the most was the punchy, breathy SOUND of this thing. I'd never heard anything quite like it and I still haven't.

7. Hungry Heart - Bruce Springsteen - Danny Federici - The River - 1980
The solo, (1:39) in a different key from the whole rest of the song. Little grace notes sliding up to the main notes. Like the previous entry, the sound of this solo is awesome - part ice rink, part silent movie, all rock and roll. Listen on headphones. It's panned all the way across the stereo picture but isn't monolithic. The Phantom never sounded sweeter.

I can't believe I didn't put any Roy Bittan on the list. Let's just give honorable mention to his work with Springsteen (duh) but also Meatloaf's Bat Out Of Hell and Bob Seger. While I love his playing, I can't honestly say he's literally inspiring to me because, like Eddie Van Halen on guitar, his playing seems impossibly out of my reach.

6. Scenes From An Italian Restaurant - Billy Joel - Billy Joel - The Stranger - 1977
Mainly the part (2:48) where everything drops out except the rolling octave bass in the piano (I think, like me, Billy Joel listened to Let It Be a few dozen times or more) and then the right hand comes in, tumbling down the stairs a couple times but landing on its feet.

See also the fast piano intro and outro of Miami 2017. I have played them many, many times and never quite perfectly.

5. James - Billy Joel - Billy Joel - Turnstyles - 1976
The always groovy Fender Rhodes. The melodic and harmonic shifts you didn't expect but recognize as perfect. The little scales. I have played the intro approximately 95 percent of the times I have sat down at an electric piano.

I could make the whole list Billy Joel, too, of course. The gorgeous flow of "Summer, Highland Falls", the simply perfect intro triads of "She's Got A Way", the guitar-doubled arpeggios of "She's Always A Woman", and even the funky, electric live version of "Los Angelenos" from Songs In The Attic.

4. Philosophy - Ben Folds Five - Ben Folds - Ben Folds Five - 1995
So many little grace notes ripping up to the main melody notes. It's like Floyd Cramer times a thousand and speeded way up. It displays such a huge range of feelings, the piano basically sings this song and everything else is background.

3. Bennie & The Jets - Elton John - Elton John - Goodbye Yellow Brick Road - 1973
The solo! The solo! (2:22) This also has a whole lot of little grace notes ripping up to the main notes, which I seem to love. Huh! Never thought about that quite so overtly before. Love the way it starts folky then builds to a honky tonk scream.

2. Streetlife Serenader - Billy Joel - Billy Joel - Streetlife Serenade - 1974
It's the long bridge passage in the middle (2:24) with just piano where a mournful, graceful melody plays then gives way to a cascading fountain of notes before the singer comes back in. I explicitly copied this idea on my song "Eddie Gee". Now that I think about it there are two such passages in just this one song! This is my favorite Billy Joel piano moment of all.

1. Still Crazy After All These Years - Paul Simon - Barry Beckett/Richard Tee - Still Crazy After All These Years/Simon & Garfunkel The Concert in Central Park/Paul Simon Concert in the Park - 1975/1981/1991
Not many people who study twelve-tone serialism come up with an evergreen top forty hit. Even fewer have it played on a silky, liquid Fender Rhodes electric piano. The 1991 live (skip to about 49:50) version has Richard Tee and Michael Brecker (both now jamming in another world) taking the song to the next level.