Nearly favorites: Jethro Tull

Songs from the Wood

Jethro TullOne more interruption of my favorite songs by favorite artists assignment. This to laud J. Eric Smith’s choice of Jethro Tull for 1978-1982. Probably another Top 10 group of mine in the 1970s.

As best I recall, I have four Tull LPs, plus the greatest hits CD. Benefit, Aqualung, and Thick as a Brick came out each year from 1970 to 1972. Then Songs from the Wood, from 1977 that I certainly bought in the cutout bin. So the earlier music was from my college years. Songs from the Wood, which was a surprising success, reflected what felt like a very different time in my life.

I’m going to paraphrase one of Eric’s paragraphs. “There’s also a complicating factor with Thick As A Brick… originally being released as a single 45-minute long song split over two sides of a vinyl platter. While subsequent compilations and reissues have broken those big song cycles down into smaller bits, the chunking and labeling have been inconsistent over the years, so it’s hard to meaningfully cull cuts from the great disc, and [he and I] have chosen not to do so in creating my Top Ten.”

But if I were, it’d probably be this.

Songs, roughly 10-1

Aqualung. Eric left this off his Jethro Tull list. I could not if only for my recollection of a late sometimes-friend and I air-guitaring this all over his living room.
Locomotive Breath, #62 when rereleased in 1976.- I love the chugging sound that replicates a train.
The Whistler, #59 in 1977
Hymn 43, #91 in 1971. “Songwriter Ian Anderson described the song as ‘a blues for Jesus, about the gory, glory seekers who use his name as an excuse for a lot of unsavoury things.'”
Mother Goose

Velvet Green. Do I like this because it has “Green” in the title? Of COURSE not.
Bourée. Hey, I’m a sucker for Bach.
Songs from the Wood
Living in the Past, #11 in 1973. I’m also a sucker for 5/4 meter.
Skating Away on the Thin Ice of a New Day – I used to say, WAY too often, the title of this song. Because it feels true, still.

References to Billboard pop charts.

King Crimson, for Dustbury (Cat Food)

chit-chat, chit-chat, chit-chat

King Crimson.1982
King Crimson.1982
In doing those Favorite Songs by Favorite Bands posts, J. Eric Smith picked King Crimson as his current favorite. The band didn’t make my list, because I don’t have enough of their albums. I do enjoy their music, in their various incarnations.

Meanwhile, this week is the first anniversary of the death of the legendary blogger Dustbury, a/k/a Charles G. Hill. I wrote about him here. “Charles was the person most likely to comment on a piece I wrote about music. He would add an anecdote or an obscure detail. Or write about it himself.”

I made some passing reference to the song Cat Food by King Crimson as one of my favorites. It’s on Eric’s list too, BTW. Chaz electronically chuckled at that obscure reference.

Unfortunately, the links I made to his blog don’t work anymore as his blog has closed. FORTUNATELY, it still lives on via the Wayback Machine.

Some King Crimson

Epitath. “Confusion will be my epitath.”
Red
In The Wake Of Poseidon
Frame By Frame

Pictures Of A City
The Court of the Crimson King
Cat Food

Indiscipline. I had a boss who would look at the business he built. He’d say some of these lyrics:
I repeat myself when under stress
I repeat myself when under stress
I repeat myself when under stress
I repeat myself when under stress
I repeat-

(Actually, we ALL said THAT…)

The more I look at it
The more I like it
Heh, I do think it’s good
The fact is…
No matter how closely I study it
No matter how I take it apart
No matter how I’ll break it down
It remains consistent
I wish you were here to see it!

21st Century Schizoid Man

I’ve probably quoted part of this song on this blog more than any other

For instance, back in 2006. Elephant Talk – I own, and prefer the dance remix.

Talk, it’s only talk
Arguments, agreements
Advice, answers
Articulate announcements

Babble, burble, banter
Bicker, bicker, bicker
Brouhaha, balderdash, ballyhoo
Back talk

Comments, cliches, commentary, controversy
Chatter, chit-chat, chit-chat, chit-chat
Conversation, contradiction, criticism
Cheap talk

Debates, discussions
Dialog, duologue, diatribe
Dissention, declamation
Double talk, double talk

Expressions, editorials
Explanations, exclamations, exaggerations
It’s all talk
Elephant talk

Favorites: Johnny Cash (1996-2004)

Unearthed

Johnny Cash.AmericanRecordsHere is another edition of J. Eric Smith’s game show, Favorite Songs by Favorite Bands. Once again, I pulled a solo artist. If I HAD picked a band for this time period, it’d likely be The Beatles again, who had started putting out the Anthology albums.

Over a half-century, I kept discovering and rediscovering Johnny Cash. From his early hits, I knew who he was. He sang the theme for The Rebel (1959-1962) TV show. The prison albums catapulted him to new fame. I watched his great TV show (1969-1972) which had a lot of rock, pop and soul singers as well as country stars; I just discovered it’s being rerun in my area.

But by the early 1980s, I’d largely lost track of him, except for his appearances with the Highwaymen. Well, he had a good quarter-century run. But then he guests on a U2 album, singing The Wanderer!

Shortly thereafter, he did that first American Recording, produced by Rick Rubin, that came out in 1994. And I’m a John R. Cash fan once again. The second disc, with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers as his backup band, was also quite appealing. So I had to buy some old Johnny Cash, a greatest hits CD plus Folsom Prison and San Quentin.

The third album was released in 2000, and the fourth in 2002. Right after he died in 2003, Unearthed was released. It contained outtakes and alternate versions of songs recorded for those four American Recordings. It also contained My Mother’s Hymn Book, gospel songs Cash first learned as a child. The final disc is the best of collection from those four albums.

Songs

My favorite Johnny Cash songs lean heavily on his latter period. And I’m limiting it to 10 because otherwise, it’d be 50. Only the top 2 are for sure in those positions.

kappa. Redemption Song, with the late Joe Strummer, written by the late Bob Marley, from Unearthed. There are lots of gems there.
iota. God’s Gonna Cut You Down from the posthumous fifth American Recording, the history of the song appears HERE.
theta. Ring Of Fire. Hey, I’m a sucker for the horns, for the Carters’ harmonies…
eta. We’ll Meet Again – the last song on the last album he released before he died. Incidentally, Vera Lynn, most associated with the song, died this year.
zeta. Personal Jesus. Originally performed by Depeche Mode. 4th American album.

epsilon. I Walk the Line – this song defined JRC for me when I was growing up
delta. I Hung My Head from the 4th American album. I owned the Sting original version first and still recognized that Johnny had usurped it from the composer.
gamma. Rusty Cage from the 2nd American album. Written by the late Chris Cornell of Soundgarden
beta. Hurt from the 4th American album. Written by Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails. The song was nominated for best male video at the MTV VMAs but lost to Justin Timberlake. Timberlake said in his acceptance speech “This is a travesty! I demand a recount. My grandfather raised me on Johnny Cash.”
alpha. The Mercy Seat from the 3rd American Recording. A cover of a Nick Cave song.

Next time period

Beach Boys (2005-2008). My friend Donna George died back in 2002. I had given her a box set of the Beach Boys, and I took it back, with her blessing the month before she died. After the baby was born, I needed musical comfort food and they were the choice.

Favorites: Talking Heads (1984-1987)

1983, SPAC

talking-heads
Frantz, Weymouth, Harrison, Byrne
More of my J. Eric Smith-inspired Favorite Songs by Favorite Bands, an impossible task I’m doing anyway.

I saw Talking Heads on their stop at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, north of Albany, NY in 1983. It was of the two or three best concerts I’ve seen in my lifetime. Oddly, I have never seen, in its entirety, the well-regarded Stop Making Sense movie made from that tour.

The then-current album in 1983 was Speaking in Tongues. It’s the only album of theirs I have on both vinyl and compact disc. Interestingly, the tracks have different running times, with the cuts on the CD going longer. It was one of those gimmicks that record companies were using at the time to get people to buy into the new CD technology. It remains my favorite album by the group.

Eventually, I acquired all of the studio albums on vinyl. My only CD, besides SiT, is the 1992 compilation Sand in the Vaseline. Here’s a quiz I did some years ago, based on their songs.

Tunes

Mu: Wild Wild Life.
Lambda: Slippery People. “How do you do?”
Kappa: City of Dreams.
Iota: Blind.
Theta: This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody). “I guess I must be having fun.” This is a song that takes me back to a specific time and place in upstate New York.
Eta: Psycho Killer Qu’est-ce que c’est

Zeta: Take Me to the River . If I were ever to sing Karaoke, it might be this version of the Al Green classic.
Epsilon: Crosseyed and Painless. The album Remain in Light is an aural canvas, and picking a “favorite song” is difficult.
Delta: Making Flippy Floppy. “Nothing is complete.” I love saying the repeated FL sound.
Gamma: Burning Down the House . “I’m…an…or..din.ar..y..guy.” Yeah, right. The first single from SiT.
Beta: Road to Nowhere. ‘Give us time to work it out.” “I wanted to write a song that presented a resigned, even joyful look at doom,” recalls David Byrne.
Alpha: Once in a Lifetime. “My God, what have I done?!” The lead single from Talking Heads’ fourth studio album, Remain in Light. The inspiration from Afrobeat is apparent.

Favorites: Harry Belafonte (1961-1964)

The listener actively looks forward to listening to the favorite band’s music more than any other music

J. Eric Smith, a blogger of my acquaintance, tried to answer the question, “So, who’s your favorite band?” Now I could answer The Beatles and be done with it. But like Eric, “I am so musically omnivorous.”

Moreover, there were periods when I was listening to TONS of compilation albums. The Warner Brothers Loss Leaders. A series of Atlantic Records collection of R&B, jazz, and blues. Actually several collections of blues (Chess, Alligator) and rock, pop, jazz, and country.

But I’m up for the challenge anyway. Eric’s rubric:

The listener actively looks forward to listening to the favorite band’s music more than any other music, and does so weekly, if not daily;
The listener seeks to have a complete collection of the favorite band’s work, and is willing to spend a little bit more money than usual to acquire it, with special attention paid to albums or singles that less-enthusiastic fans might never find or hear;
The listener never grows tired of the favorite band and its works, and anytime they come on the stereo or radio, no matter what the song, it is greeted with volume rising and singing along;
The listener seeks to learn more about the favorite band, and will often buy books or magazines or watch television or internet shows related to its members and their music;
The listener makes an effort to see the favorite band in a live setting as often as practically possible.

I’ll start at the very beginning. But 1) I’m not going to create links UNLESS I’ve not done it before, 2) I’m not going to limit it to bands.

The Everly Brothers (- 1960). My father had a bunch of singles. at least a couple of them were the Everly Brothers. So I began to recognize them on the radio.

Harry Belafonte (1961-1964). Most of these are from the My Lord What A Mornin’ album, which I finally bought on CD in the 2010s. From #10-#1:

Mama Look A Boo Boo
Matilda
Jamaica Farewell
March Down to Jordan
Mary’s Boy Child

Jump in the Line (Shake, Senora)
Wake Up, Jacob
My Lord What A Mornin’
Banana Boat Song
‘Buked and Scorned

I should make a special note of There’s A Hole in My Bucket, which he performed with the late, great Odetta. I don’t recall hearing it at the time, but it was a song my father used to sing before my sister Leslie and I stole it from him.

BTW, if I had to pick a GROUP for the early 1960s, I’d be hard-pressed. Maybe The Drifters, based entirely on hearing them on the radio.