After spending the last 2 weeks feeling like I was always on an airplane, I finally had a chance to sit down and listen through some more vinyl as I was cataloging the rest of the albums I purchased in early April. The collection is approaching 900 albums. One box had a bunch of dance and rap 12″ singles – the guy had an eclectic collection – so eventually I’ll listen through them but they’re not on “the list”. Here’s the listening experiences from the last 2 days:
Johnny Cash: At Folsom Prison
I’d say this is probably a classic tat resides on many “must have” lists, but I’ve never heard it until now. Of course, since I’ve seen the movie “Walk the Line” much of it sounded familiar, but it is still a great album to experience first hand. Since it was recorded live, you get a few unexpected moments, and even Mr. Cash laughing a bit during one of the songs, which for me just puts into perspective the joy he probably felt when singing.
Kiss: Love Gun
OK – this album came out when Kiss was supposedly the most popular band in the USA – which was in my opinion right after most of the great rock of the 60’s-70’s and before disco. So perhaps it isn’t a surprise that I really didn’t care for this album. It’s just seems unremarkable. Of course I’m probably in a minority since it went platinum.
The Rolling Stones: Out of Our Heads
This is the mono version, but I honestly have never heard “Satisfaction” sound so good.The Last Time is probably the only other big hit on this album, but I found I liked the four songs written by Keith and Mick to the rest of the album. The end of Side 2 has Spider and the Fly and One More Try, both of which are very good.
Neil Young: After the Gold Rush
I think this album is a little worn because the sound on side 1 is a little distorted. It’s still a good album, and in fact Southern Man caused me to stop what I was doing and just listen. Which makes me rethink the sound quality, because the guitar solo was very clean and cutting, so maybe the overdriven distorted sounds – even on vocals – are intentional. Side 2 was a bit cleaner. Not my favorite Neil Young album.
Chuck Mangione: Fun and Games
Another artist I’ve never knowingly heard, but I think it’s nearly impossible i haven’t heard one of his songs at some time. The music is jazz-based, but he has some fun with it as well. It’s great dinner-party music; adult party music where conversation is the key. Even though there’s only six tracks in total, it’s nice that there’s a lot of variety in the music, and I look forward to listening to this and more of Chuck Mangione.
Television’s Greatest Hits
If you grew up in the 1950’s or 60’s, or just grew up watching re-runs of old TV shows, this 2-album set will bring back some memories! Included are familiar tunes from shows like Buggs Bunny, Captain Kangaroo, Bonanza, The Jetsons, Get Smart, etc. And they’re not just instrumental remakes – they’re the full theme songs. Some have both the instrumental and the vocal version, such as Popeye the Sailor Man. With 65 theme songs, I couldn’t think of anything I grew up on that wasn’t here, but of course half of them I had completely forgotten or never seen – like Mannix or The Man from U.N.C.L.E.
Elton John: Here and There
This is sort of a cool twist on an album; side one is Live from London, side two is Live from New York. Border Song is amazing on the London side, and the extended Honky Cat has some great drum sections. The New York side is also very good. Probably an album my wife will enjoy.
Here’s another album that would fuel the fire of the “vinyl sounds better” discussion. A Horse with No Name sounds absolutely amazing on this disc, and then it fades directly into I Need You. The open and airiness of the vocals continues on Sandman, but the bass really hits on that track as well. Then it fades out as Ventura Highway starts. I found it hard to work with this album playing because it just kept drawing my attention. Tin Man was great, and the drums on Sister Golden Hair were amazing. At some point I’ll have to A/B it with The Definitive Collection CD I have, but for now this is at the top of my favorite vinyl discoveries – which is weird because it’s a group I love. George Martin mixed this album, and it sort of makes me appreciate his talent as well.
Kenny Rogers: Greatest Hits
I remember having three LP’s as a young child: Michael Jackson’s Thriller, Barry Manilow’s One Voice, and this. Most of my listening was cassette tapes, but that is still sad commentary. This disc has some scuffing and scratches, and it occurs to me I probably didn’t listen to this album much because every song sounds familiar but different. Compare that to a Carpenter’s album which my mother must have had; almost every song sounded very familiar, no surprises. I think I have two copies of this album somewhere in the collection. Hopefully soon I’ll e ready to start organizing better….
OK – the name sounded familiar, but when I heard track 1 Fantasy I was immediately transported back to the early 80’s. As much as I enjoyed that first track, the rest of side 1 was early hair-band stuff. Under the Gun on side 2 was pretty enjoyable. Next!
John Cougar Mellencamp: Uh-huh
I’m not sure if I like when albums start with a great song, or whether I’d rather the album build up from some of the weaker songs and finish great. I’m sure there’s some marketing to it somewhere. Uh-huh definitely starts strong with Crumblin’ Down. The vocals and drums are extremely crisp. Then it rolls into Pink Houses, with amazing guitar sounds on the intro that builds nicely after the first chorus. Amazing dynamics and imaging on this album. Serious Business was a new-to-me song that I really enjoyed. This album is a little thicker than many, too.
Styx: Paradise Theater
Is there a bad Styx album? This is another amazing sonic journey. Too Much Time on My Hands pulled me over to my prime listening spot – just amazing. The chords just seem to ring forever – and I never remember hearing that on the CD. Seriously, vinyl engages me in the listening experience more than CD ever has. It’s in my top 10 list right now – set aside for another spin soon. This album also surprised me with a cool holographic-looking image on side 2. Not a picture disc, not colored vinyl, but it’s my first visually “augmented” disc.
Bad Company: Desolation Angels
Here’s another album that starts off strong with a big hit song, in this case Rock ‘n’ Roll Fantasy. Having never listened to Bad Company, I expected this to be a heavier rock album, but it’s got some decent variety of rock. Early in the Morning is a great ending to side one, and side two starts of strong with Lonely for Your Love. I’m wondering why this song wasn’t a bigger hit, because it’s pretty awesome.
If you have any requests, I’ll see what I can do. I’m working on building some furniture-grade (a least I’m trying to end up with furniture grade) shelving to house the growing collection, so hopefully in the coming weeks I can get it out of boxes and crates and onto shelves in alphabetical order. Until then, I probably need to stop buying. But man, it’s hard to pass up some of the deals, knowing that with each lot of albums there’s a potential new musical experience just waiting for me to discover.