Welcome to Raja's Pretension Palace... for those in relentless pursuit of eternal damnation

To seek asylum here, thy shall embrace HIS MAJESTY's opinions as laws and thy shall never commit those sins that HIS MAJESTY forbids!!!

"And if you listen very hard the tune will come to you at last" - Stairway To Heaven

If I were to know that I would soon be stranded on a beautiful remote island with lots of booze and food, what music albums would I pack? You know the kind that would keep me warm company while I construct that elusive escape boat with turtle skeleton, shark skin, whale bones and coconut shells.

This "desert island collection" idea led me down an inspirational path of discovering obscure gems. When I started on this venture a decade ago, I wouldn't have guessed that I would come up with something this massive. It was initially a top 100 until I realized that it was mostly showcasing the few rock acts I love. I could have stopped then and obnoxiously declared those were the best ever; thus, unintentionally showing the world how narrow my tastes were. But somewhere down the line, I chose not to be a juvenile prick; decided to listen to different styles - even the ones I didn't like. I raised it to 333 and was settled with this idea for about three years. But then one day I decided - enough is enough - 333 is not enough! I realized that all that pruning was arbitrary and a vain attempt to keep it manageable. I decided to go all out. Why 333? Because I like the number 3? I like the number 7 even more. Why not 777? It is the jackpot number and means something (chmod 777) in my world. It is considered as a perfection of trinity. I was born in '77. It all made perfect sense!

Every continent has been explored - even Antartica; even lands that are not sovereign countries - 100 countries spanning a 100-year period - quite the coverage, isn't it? I challenge you to find a broader list. I ran into a problem, though. At what point do I decide I have heard enough? It was quite the conundrum; so, I set a deadline. And that deadline was today - Jan 20th, 2020.

Before you read further, there are few things for you to keep in mind. I will list them in bullet points to help those suffering from attention deficiency disorder.
* I do not claim universal music knowledge. It's impossible to listen to every album ever made.
* This is not a music history lesson. This is not a greatest artist list and am not comparing artists.
* Don't scroll down! Would you read the end of a whodunnit, first? Consider this as a book!

What is a masterpiece?

A masterpiece achieves all the artistic goals it sought. It need not be an epic, make a statement or be influential. If an album spawned a host of imitators, it might have been trivial to begin with! To make it broad, I decided that only artists who made significantly different sounding masterpieces are eligible for multiple entries. This resulted in only 12 artists having such distinction.

(1.000) (0.777) (0.333)

#777
CLANNAD
Dúlamán (1976)
1 Dúlamán (4:34) ♕♕
2 Cumha Eoghain Rua Uí Néill (4:09) ♕♕
3 Two Sisters (4:13)♕♕
4 Éirigh Suas a Stóirín (5:14) ♕♕
5 The Galtee Hunt (3:09) ♕♕
6 Éirigh Is Cuir Ort Do Chuid Éadaigh (4:12) ♕♕
7 Siúil A Rúin (5:50) ♕♕
8 Mo Mháire (2:43) ♕♕
9 dTigeas a Damhsa (1:26) ♕♕
10 Cucanandy/The Jug of Brown Ale (3:13) ♕♕
REVIEW DATE - Jan 20th, 2020

SYNOPSIS...
Clannad at #777? Precursors to Enya? - the new age artist whose only track you probably know is the remix version of Only Time that was played non-stop on radio post 9/11, to annoying effect. Well, this album sounds nothing like that. Though you may feel suckered after seeing Satan air-guitar (with his trident) on my home page, I feel this album is the ideal candidate to start the countdown. I wanted to begin with a beautiful delicate album and end with a beautiful powerful album. This album takes influences from folk rock, pop and progressive rock, though sounding entirely different to those genres. This is among the first albums to explore the heavenly beauty of Celtic music (flute, mandolin, and harp are used to ethereal effect). You may consider this as early new-age but it still maintains its roots without degenerating to radio-friendly schmaltz. I should feel guilty for starting the countdown on such a tender note, and I do. But do I and should I care?

Addendum...
#776
CARLY RAE JEPSEN   
E*MO*TION (2015)
1 Run Away With Me (4:11) ♕♕♕♕♕
2 Emotion (3:17) ♕♕
3 I Really Like You (3:24)♕♕♕♕♕
4 Gimmie Love (3:22) ♕♕♕♕♕
5 All That (4:28) ♕♕
6 Boy Problems (3:42)
7 Making The Most Of The Night (3:58) ♕♕♕♕♕
8 Your Type (3:19) ♕♕♕♕♕
9 Let's Get Lost (3:13) ♕♕
10 LA Hallucinations (3:04) ♕♕♕♕♕
11 Warm Blood (4:13) ♕♕♕♕♕
12 When I Needed You (3:41) ♕♕
REVIEW DATE - Mar 13th, 2020

SYNOPSIS...
If you were thinking I will quickly restore parity (after starting with those softies - Clannad), with some heavy-hitting hard rock or heavy metal to prove I haven't lost my marbles yet, you are in for a rude shock. This is teenage girl pop... and that too recorded in 2015. Blasphemy! There goes my credibility with classic rock fans. Never mind the singer was in her thirties, she sounds like she has just hit puberty. That sounds bad, but it simply isn't. The production on this is excellent and Carly hooked with some big-shot producers and writers to make a completely retro-sounding album with elements of late 70s disco and funk, 80s and 90s synthpop and even some late 70's-mid 80's horror synth. The material is all about love, betrayal, losing control and all that blah teenage issues. But it is so danceable, memorable and arranged impeccably, that you can ignore the juvenile lyrics and run away with Carly to the clouds and dance silly donning a beret and rocking that white fluffy shirt and shiny bell-bottom pants. You have to credit the nu-disco movement of the 2000's for providing influence to this album. Funny fact: I was feeling way too cool for having discovered a teenage album that Neanderthals like you and me would fret; thus, superior to the other disconnected and out-of-touch rock zombies in their 40s. All that came crashing down when I read that one line in Wikipedia "Emotion reinvigorated Jepsen's career as an "indie darling" for older audiences, garnering her a cult following"; It felt like someone threw cold freezing water on my proudly risen (dick) head; proving - I will forever be a pathetic unhip old loser.

Addendum...
#775
THE MELANESIAN BROTHERHOOD featuring THE CHOIR OF ALL SAINTS
CHANTS FROM THE THIN RED LINE (1997)
1 Jisas Yu Holem Hand Blong Mi (1:21)
2 Soon My Lord (1:16)
3 God Yu Tekkem Laef Blong Mi (2:17)
4 Early Morning At Tabalia (0:29)
5 Procession Chant 1 (1:27)
6 Procession Chant 2 (0:55)
7 Holly (1:40)
8 Procession Chant 3 (1:03)
9 We Love To Sing (3:39)
10 Mi Go Longway (2:51)
11 Jisas, Masta Mi Save (2:57)
12 Procession Chant 4 (0:36)
13 Together Be (2:26)
14 Sunday Service Hymn (1:43)
15 Halleluia!, Sing To Jesus (1:30)
16 Jesus, You Are Here (2:15)
17 Bybye (2:23)
18 We Are One Big Happy Family (2:29)
19 Traditional Lullaby (2:16)
20 Cho Cho Vancho (1:24)
21 Remember (0:54)
22 Jisas Yu Holem Hand Blong Mi (1:53)
23 Pray For Us (2:43)
24 God All Mighty (2:09)
25 Procession Chorus (3:16)
26 Kyrie (3:02)
REVIEW DATE - Mar 14th, 2020

SYNOPSIS...
How much should I bet that you don't recognize the flag above? There are no musical instruments on this album - another curveball, huh? This is one of the best choral albums I have ever heard. This music was recorded for the movie The Thin Red Line which I haven't seen yet. The movie is apparently one of the greatest war movies ever made. This album makes me wanna watch the movie soon. The official soundtrack featured instruments and was composed by famed German film score composer Hans Zimmer who has also composed for movies like Rain Man, The Lion King, Gladiator, Interstellar etc. This album has nothing to do with him though. The official soundtrack of the movie featured his compositions alone, except for track 3 from this album. These chants were performed by two choir groups from the Solomon Islands (a small sovereign country in Oceania not far away from Australia). There isn't much detail available online except that The Melanesian Brotherhood performs most of the songs with only 9 of the 26 songs credited to the The Choir Of All Saints. Most of the songs are dominated by female vocals but male bass vocals are present in every song and are equally as endearing. I could have put this album higher up in the list but you need to be in a certain mood to listen to this album in its entirety. It's an excellent headphone album and I would advise you to listen to this in the dark with eyes closed!

#774
JOHN CARPENTER
HALLOWEEN (1978)
1 Halloween Theme - Main Title (2:56)
2 Laurie's Theme (2:06)
3 Shape Escapes (1:43)
4 Meyer's House (5:38)
5 Michael Kills Judith (3:11)
6 Loomis And Shape's Car (3:32)
7 The Haunted House (3:28)
8 The Shape Lurks (1:36)
9 Laurie Knows (3:05)
10 Better Check The Kids (3:27)
11 The Shape Stalks (3:07)
REVIEW DATE - December 30th, 2020

SYNOPSIS...
This was going to be my #739. But I did a swap with what was my #774. Yep, I am crazy. There is another sort of "horror synth" movie soundtrack coming up in the countdown whose soundtrack I like better. So, I decided to pull the coup on this poor album. Anyway, speaking of this album, in my honest opinion, this soundtrack is better than the movie. Though Halloween appears at the top of almost all the slasher horror movies lists, I am more or less okay with the movie. But the soundtrack is on a whole different level. Minimalistic and mostly featuring minimalistic piano and scary synthesizer with thick synth basslines, this soundtrack topples the similar yet more prog rock soundtrack of the horror classic Suspiria made by the Italian prog rock band Goblin, a year before. It also topples the other pure synth horror soundtracks made by John Carpenter like Assault On Precinct 13 (1976), The Fog (1980), Escape From New York (1981), and Halloween III (1982).

So, what is synth horror? It is scary music created with analog synthesizers with few other instruments who serve second fiddle to the synth. It technically began in the mid '70s and lasted until the end of the '80s. Eventually, horror movies started using digital music and other sorts or modern sounding studio tricks to make the sound scary. The music on Halloween is archaic electronic when compared to the electronic music of the '90s and beyond. And it does not even remotely sound like what the German electronic acts like Tangerine Dream, Cluster and Kraftwerk were up to. Whatever Carpenter did here was pretty much ground-breaking. Although Carpenter himself, did similar music with Assault On Precinct 13 a couple of years earlier, this takes the whole concept to the next level, simply by being singular-minded on the creepiness. Although, I really need to be in a mood to listen to this album, I consider it a great listen in a small room if you are willing to spook your kids on Halloween.

#773
WITHOUT ARTISTS
CIRCUS IS COMING (1990)
1 Medley: Dixie/Yankie Doodle/Oh! Sussana/Old South Cake (2:53)
2 Ragtime Cowboy Joe (1:41)
3 The Prisoner's Song (2:08)
4 Nola (2:10)
5 Under The Double Eagle March (1:18)
6 The Twelfth Street Rag (1:23)
7 Smiles (2:00)
8 My Blue Heaven (1:41)
9 Oh Dem Golden Slippers (1:40)
10 Hinky Dinky Parlez Voo (1:50)
11 In The Good Old Summer Time (1:57)
12 Spirit of St. Louis March (2:40)
13 The Eagle March (1:57)
14 Hello Lindy (2:07)
15 We Did It Again (1:58)
16 Lucky Lindy (1:53)
17 You Flew Over (1:49)
18 Barnum and Bailey's Favorite March (2:43)
19 The Billboard March (3:10)
20 Bombasto March (2:39)
21 Rensaz Race March (2:42)
22 Chariot Race March (3:20)
23 The Roxy March (2:35)
24 The Stars And Stripes Forever (2:00)
25 El Caption March (1:50)
26 Free Lance March (1:55)
27 God Bless America (3:12)
28 Washington Post March (2:35)
29 Hand Across The Sea (2:35)
30 Field Artillery March (2:16)
REVIEW DATE - Jan 3rd, 2021

SYNOPSIS...
This used to be my #730. It got downgraded, but that doesn't mean I hate it. The only albums I hate are the ones whom I would never consider for this countdown, for a split second. I have credited the album to unknown/various/without artists. I have a dozen such albums. This is a without artist album. Yes, this album features no one and is played on a strange instrument you probably have never heard of; its called the calliope? Calliope also called as steam organ or steam piano works works by sending gas to various locomotive whistles. It is typically very loud and played in carnivals, circus and riverboats. The last time I made a trip to Netherlands, I went with my wife and her cousin and his wife over to Kuekenhof gardens (the Garden of Europe featuring millions of flowers mostly tulips). And there was a calliope playing there. My memory is not that great so I don't remember whether there was a calliope player there or it was being mechanically played. It was musical and we loved listening to the calliope, so much so that we spent quite a bit of time until our wives dragged us over to see what we actually came for.

This collection of old-time, classical and ragtime numbers, is essentially an auto-play recording on the 1912 National Calliope. It is very much "circussy", the kind of music John Lennon was hoping for when he recorded For The Benefit of Mr. Kite on the Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album. Unfortunately for him George Martin could not find an actual calliope so they end up using tapes featuring calliope music. Though frequently slammed by Beatles fans as the worst track on the album, I love that track and it may be in fact, my favorite. The experimental American band The United States of America also used it on their classic psychedelic self-titled debut. Jack Bruce used it on the song Passing The Time for Cream's double album Wheels Of Fire. And most importantly it was also used at the end in the title track (last two minutes) of the monumental album In The Court of The Crimson King. I wish some of my favorite bands also used it (and used it more regularly). Could it have fit into albums like Led Zeppelin IV, Close To The Edge, The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn? I very much think so! When Rick Wakeman could play electric harpsichord on Siberian Khatru, he could play the calliope too? And Pink Floyd used windup toys on their debut album with every member of them "playing" it on Flaming. I can imagine Rick Wright playing the calliope. And John Paul Jones playing calliope on Stairway to Heaven or Misty Mountain Hop would have been a sight to behold.

So can "circussy" music qualify for a masterpiece. Yes, they would if it is this album and contain such fun tunes.

#772
JATARI
JATARI (1973)
1 Run Away With Me (4:11) ♕♕♕♕♕
2 Emotion (3:17) ♕♕
3 I Really Like You (3:24)♕♕♕♕♕
4 Gimmie Love (3:22) ♕♕♕♕♕
5 All That (4:28) ♕♕
6 Boy Problems (3:42)
7 Making The Most Of The Night (3:58) ♕♕♕♕♕
8 Your Type (3:19) ♕♕♕♕♕
9 Let's Get Lost (3:13) ♕♕
10 LA Hallucinations (3:04) ♕♕♕♕♕
11 Warm Blood (4:13) ♕♕♕♕♕
12 When I Needed You (3:41) ♕♕
REVIEW DATE - Mar 20th, 2020

SYNOPSIS...
Yep, you guessed it wrong... dumbarse... it's not the flag of Colombia up there, its Ecuador's... as if you were confident in any way! It would have been still a major achievement for an ignoramus fool like you to guess Colombia. When one thinks of South America, they are not usually thinking Ecuador, are they? Countries like Brazil (for being the only South American nation to speak Portuguese, bossa nova, samba), Argentina (football, enemies of the English), Chile (for reminding us of hot chilis and that unhealthy chili dish) and Colombia (for the mafia) seem to always grab the limelight. Others like Venezuela (constant beauty pageant winners, stinking at football in a grotesque and embarrassing fashion) and Peru (Machu Pichu) get recollected once in a while. And if you know any football at all, you would know of Uruguay. The three others - Paraguay, Bolivia and especially Ecuador seem to get the short end of the stick when it comes to remembering this part of the world. This album is not an attempt to make up the numbers and cover Ecuador. That would be shallow and uncouth of me. This album deserves its spot simply because it's a perfect little undertaking from the '70s that captures the spirit of the tranquil and pastoral beauty of the Andes. If you have any idea about Andean folk, you would expect pan flutes and you do get that here, but then, there's more. Also, this is not a so-called "world" project done in a new age fashion; rather, it's an understated (and beautiful) folk album that is mostly made up of traditionals arranged and played in with a modern outlook, while being delightfully virtuosic and earnestly sincere.

Addendum...
#771
KHALED ARMAN and SIAR HASHMI
SÂZENDA (2005)
1 Raga Khamaj: Peshnawazi (2:03) ♕♕
2 Yakdjânwâzi en dix temps (12:50) ♕♕♕♕
3 Rawân en 16 temps (14:28) ♕♕♕♕
4 Solo de Tabla (10:53) ♕♕
5 Yabouli Bhairavi (12:50)♕♕♕♕
6 Gol-afshân (3:47) ♕♕♕♕
7 Zar-afshan (3:44) ♕♕
8 Delkash (3:24) ♕♕
9 Solo de zerbaghali (5:55) ♕♕
REVIEW DATE - Apr 1st, 2020

SYNOPSIS...
I should be obliged to play a prank or crack a joke on April 1st, but with coronavirus in full swing and 47k of my brothers and sisters dead as of now, I am not in a jovial mood as such. If my fellow Americans who are reading this have been interested in politics of any time, they might recognize the flag up there... although I wouldn't bet my life on it. Americans are generally ignorant of the countries they like to bomb... haha. Politics mean nothing to me as most of it is religion based and I am a devout Atheist (though born Hindu). I consider myself a world citizen and I don't think highly of national pride - I am pretty much like George Carlin when it comes to patriotism. Well if you still haven't figured it out, that flag is the Afghanistani flag. And the fact that USA and Afghanistan are a perpetual war shouldn't cloud your judgement of music coming out of that region. Music knows no religion, after all. When I began exploring music from all parts of the world, little did I know that Afghan classical has close ties with Indian classical music. This is however not a slow-burning raga Ravi Shankar like. Nor does it feature any sitar at all. The lead instruments are Afghani rubab and tabla. The tabla makes it sound Indian-like but this music is so rhythmic and Middle-Eastern melody based that only an ignorant nincompoop will consider this Indian classical or raga music. The album being recorded in 2005 has crystal clear sound and the dynamics between musicians is so well-captured that the production on this sounds like you would find on a top-notch ECM jazz album. Even if you cannot get this music, you got to hear this for the excellent production.

Addendum...
#770
VARIOUS ARTISTS
BEAVIS BUTT-HEAD DO EIGHT'S & Σ 9T's (1999)
1 Hells Bells - AC/DC (5:12)
2 Raining Blood - Slayer (4:14)
3 Love With Tears Us Apart - Joy Division (3:18)
4 We're Not Gonna Take It - Twisted Sister (3:38)
5 Kill The Poor - Dead Kennedys (3:02)
6 Sweet Child O Mine - Guns 'n Roses (5:55)
7 Tom Sawyer - Rush (4:33)
8 Owner Of A Lonely Heart - Yes (4:27)
9 Switch 625 - Def Leppard (3:03)
10 Sanctuary - Iron Maiden (3:12)
11 Jesus Christ Pose - Soundgarden (5:50)
12 Give It Away - Red Hot Chilli Peppers (4:43)
13 Rooster - Alice In Chains (6:15)
14 Epic - Faith No More (4:53)
15 Silver Rocket - Sonic Youth (3:47)
16 Still Of The Night - Whitesnake (6:41)
17 Rock You Like A Hurricane - Scorpions (4:11)
18 Hangar 18 - Megadeth (5:14)
19 Alive - Pearl Jam (5:41)
20 Ace Of Spades - Motorhead (2:48)
21 Debaser - Pixies (2:52)
22 Once In A Lifetime - Talking Heads (4:19)
23 Under Pressure - Queen (4:08)
24 She Sells Sanctuary - The Cult (4:23)
25 Plush - Stone Temple Pilots (5:14)
26 This Is Music - The Verve (3:34)
27 High And Dry - Radiohead (4:17)
28 Semi-Charmed Life - Third Eye Blind (4:29)
29 Slide - The Goo Goo Dolls (3:34)
30 All Star - Smash Mouth (3:21)
31 The Man Who Sold The World - Nirvana (4:20)
32 Du Hast - Rammstein (3:55)
33 Orion - Metallica (8:27)
REVIEW DATE - Apr 20th, 2020

SYNOPSIS...
This is not a real album. If it were real, it would have been one heck of an album. If you were being a smartass, you would have guessed that this album to be a soundtrack to some Beavis and Butt-Head movie, you haven't seen (shame on you!). Sorry, clown, you got suckered by my brilliant crude paint job on (a real) movie poster. Why fake albums, you ask? Because bitch, it's my friggin' countdown - me decides! This imaginary countdown episode was aired celebrating the millenium on December 31st 1999, three years after the Beavis Butthead Do America movie, whose poster I have so blatantly and callously defaced here. Our favorite knuckleheaded headbangers were summoned to sum up the '80s and '90s, on millenium eve, and they gladly lent their wisdom to the project.

This countdown is littered with 80's stuff (20 of the 33 songs are from the 80's). Beavis and Butthead might have been kids of the '90s but their hearts scream '80s (and so do their collective IQs). The song on this album which features mostly American and British bands, are not all metal or hard rock. They do, however, have a certain rocking intensity that makes them blend in. I made it a point to not include outwardly pop or dance songs that would "sugar" the album and confuse Beavis to make him go all "Cornholio" over us. Though brimming with testesterone, this is not all sausage - three of the songs feature female bassists - don't know which are those? Go educate yourself, fool! It's not all 80's and beyond artists represented herethere - there are some 70's leftovers in the form of Yes, Rush, AC/DC, Scorpions, Judas Priest and Joy Division if you want to get really anal. And let's not forget Motorhead! This album would have been empty without God himself... check Airheads. And in poetic justice, the two dimwit losers start their countdown with AC/DC and end with Metallica - two bands that are permanently emblazoned on their pre-pubic chests.

#769
PAPUA NEW GUINEA STRINGBANDS WITH BOB BROZMAN
SONGS OF THE VOLCANO (2005)
1 Alir Pukai (4:05)
2 Watikai Lau Nuk Pau Atalaigu (3:27)
3 Tarurvur (7:09)
4 Rabaul Taun (11:23)
5 Beautiful Rabaul (5:15)
6 Uma Lari (4:29)
7 Tomaimo (3:53)
8 Sori Boko Na Ra Club (4:04)
9 Youth Development Song (4:29)
10 Town Kavieng (3:41)
11 Lau Ga Ki Tara Papara Ta (3:31)
12 Karanas Leva (6:02)
13 Valvalian (4:27)
14 Gossip (3:59)
15 Tou Ra Vui (3:52)
16 Ram Kuk (3:50)
REVIEW DATE - Jun 6th, 2020

SYNOPSIS...
Bonus points for guessing the first flag above. Zero points for guessing the second flag above. Answer quick, before you google! If you are even half-way on the road to Smartania, you would have guessed that this flag belongs to some tropical island country. And that would be - Papua New Guinea, a country that no one seems to know much about at all - in spite of the fact that it is part of the largest island (Papua) after Greenland - that not-so-tropical island. So how does the music sound here? No, it doesn't sound like Hawaiian, Fijian or Tahitian - though it may have infuences from all three. The overall feel of each of the sixteen songs on the album is "outdoorsy" and very much "sunshine folk" but the songs sound very much reflective in nature, with a hint of melancholy. They are all sung in one or more of the 832 Papuan languages with each song having choir-like vocals with plenty of slide guitar (probably played by that lone American - more about him later), some ukulele and acoustic "slack-key guitar" - a style popular in Hawaii.

What has Bob Brozman and America got to do this album? Precious little - though Bob throws in some nice Blues+American Primitivism-inspired bottleneck guitar. Thankfully, he doesn't lend his horrendous voice! Ever since fellow blues and slide guitarist Ry Cooder collaborated with Indian slide guitarist Vishwa Mohan Bhatt (in 1993) and then later with Cuban musicians (in 1997) to great critical acclaim, there was this trend in mid 90s and early 2000s among older blues musicians to do collaborative projects. You could accuse Bob of hopping on the bandwagon but you wouldn't accuse him of lacking sincerity. It seems like Bob (who is also a musicologist) got with the locals (five different local string bands), understood their music and added his little input to it - without trying to make the music his own. In fact, one of the greatest assets of the album might be Bob's complete lack of ego - no modern touches whatsoever! If there is a flaw in the album - it is that most of the songs have the same feeling, even if they do not sound alike. I would recommend listening to this album - not on headphones, but on a surround system... or even better... outdoors near a steady stream of water.

PS: This album might be the answer to that million-dollar question - What would you get if Led Zeppelin (Led Zeppelin... again?) recorded an album full of songs sounding like a curious mix of Hats Off To Roy Harper and Going to California - but not in some "remote" cottage in Wales; but in some REMOTE island 9000 miles away, with local choir and string bands?

#768
THE WHO
WHO'S NE$T (1971)
1 I Can't Explain (2:04)
2 The Goods Gone (4:02)
3 My Generation (3:18)
4 A Legal Matter (2:48)
5 Substitute (3:47)
6 I'm A Boy (2:34)
7 Boris The Spider (2:29)
8 Armenia City In The Sky (3:48)
9 Mary Anne With The Shaky Hand (2:28)
10 Our Love Was (3:23)
11 I Can See For Miles (4:05)
12 Overture (3:50)
13 Pinball Wizard (3:01)
14 The Seeker (3:12)
15 Summertime Blues (3:33)
16 Baba O'Riley (5:08)
17 Bargain (5:34)
18 Love Ain't For Keeping (2:10)
19 My Wife (3:41)
20 Won't Get Fooled Again (8:32)
REVIEW DATE - Dec 19th, 2020

SYNOPSIS...
Let me start by proclaiming! I absolutely and utterly HATE The Who. The only thing I hate more than The Who is their fanbase, whom I loving call The Whotards. In fact, I hate them so much that I demoted this album 19 spots and swapped it with what was my original #768. Why the hate? Because, their fans are the biggest knob ends you will ever meet online. They have his nasty tendency to make the case for The Who being the greatest rock band ever, even when you aren't really into that topic. And Pete Townshend is a prick who has said he said Beatles were "lousy and extremely bad" vocalists and instrumentalists and not rock music at all. And he has said he doesn't like a single thing (a single thing? really Pete?) Led Zeppelin ever done! He also has made outrageous claims that The Jimi Hendrix Experience and Led Zeppelin stole their act and also made the absolutely bonkers statement that The Who invented heavy metal with Live At Leeds (I guess the first two Led Zeppelin albums, and Black Sabbath's self-titled debut weren't recorded and released before Live At Leeds in Pete's universe. Even the first couple of albums from Deep Purple and King Crimson's 21st Century Schizoid Man were heavier than The Who ever did).

But that is not the main reason for my annoyance with this band. The real reason I hate The Who is that I hate a lot of their music. They became too self-important, big soundy, operatic and "Jesus Christ Superstar"-ish (as independent rock music critic Mark Prindle says) once they hit mainstream. They also had this annoying habit of plagiarizing themselves. Most of the songs on their two rock epics Tommy and Quadrophenia sound alike with same chord sequences repeated in many songs. Though they started out as genuine and modest mod-rockers they soon started pretending something which they weren't delving into new fields such as psychedelic pop (The Who Sell Out), art rock/rock opera (Tommy), hard rock (Who's Next) and progressive rock/symphonic rock/rock opera (Quadrophenia). Unfortunately, they were at their most consistent during this self-important period. Their earlier mod/garage rock/power pop/freakbeat (all terms that can be applied to their style of music, in general) period between 1964-66, has some exciting material, but mostly embarrassing stuff that an average Whotard wouldn't tout anyways.

I am gonna have another paragraph of bile and hatred towards things related to The Who. The reason I called Who fans as knob ends is simple... they feel the need to pull other artists down a peg to make The Who look better. They fail to realize that it doesn't work that way. You need to make a case for your favorite artist, not shit on other "rivals". Music is not a cage fight - those artists weren't competing against each other; they did their own thing. Let me give some insight to how the mind of a typical simple-minded Whotard works - 1) Look up some greatest artists list out there, preferably one that seems bona fide. 2) Look at the spot The Who are on. 3) Get pissed (even though they realize The Who will never be #1 on any greatest artist list) and come up with a strategy to defend The Who. 4) Look at all the rock artists above them on the list. And finally, 5) Shit on those artists and pick fights with others who disagree by making some outrageous claims while also claiming that The Who were perennially underrated (so what is it? Are they well-recognized pioneers or forgotten obscurities?). Repeat steps 1-5 on some other forum if you are bored. So, essentially, The Whotards are nothing but Internet trolls.

So, if I hate this band, why do I have them on this countdown? Is it because they are an important rock band? Or is it because I wanted a nice opportunity for myself to take a dump on them? None of that! I have a love/hate relationship with them. I like (very much) half of their stuff and dislike (very much) the other half of their stuff. Much like how The Who were a schizoid band - sometimes hard-hitting with a rebellious attitude and at other times over-emoting with personal self-hating stuff, my schizoid approach to them is of both empathy and disdain. Just like what their fans say they were indeed revolutionary and adventurous in their approach. They were among the first to have a hard rocking rhythm section (John Entwistle easily a top 10 bassist. And though I do not like Keith Moon's one-dimensional and most of the times intrusive drumming, he was a talented drummer). They were among the first to bring synthesizers to rock courtesy Pete Townshend being inspired by the synth dominated Rainbow In Curved Air which was recorded in 1968 by American minimalist composer Terry Riley (and hence the title for their most popular and best song Baba O'Riley). They put on a good show - destroyed instruments and Townshend had that trademark windmill strum. They were culturally significant - they played at Monterey Pop Festival in 1967 and Woodstock in 1969 just like The Jimi Hendrix Experience (The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin - the other highly rated bands they are usually pitted against, in these "rock wars", did not). The fashionable and working-class mods loved them. The latter-era punk rock rebels owe a huge debt to their earlier garage rock style. And they are certainly among the most important rock bands ever. But did they ever make a flawless album - a masterpiece?

The short answer is... No! Now, if you looked at the cover and the title, and weren't playing close attention, you might have been fooled into thinking that I am talking about their best album Who's Next here. Look at the dollar symbol, dummy! Who's Next is very good, but falls short. Part of the reason, The Who never made a masterpiece, is because they not only had to rely on a sole songwriter, but also had a limited vocabulary - unlike their British Invasion peers like Beatles, Rolling Stones, Yardbirds etc., and also lacked the compositional genius (and again wide vocabulary) of progressive-minded second-generation Brit bands like Pink Floyd, Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, Yes, Black Sabbath etc. They weren't a blues-based band (Townshend could barely play blues, let alone play leads), they weren't much into British folk or American folk, and though they were promoted as Maximum R&B, their earlier R&B covers are laughable (compare that to what The Animals or The Rolling Stones did). They had little to no understanding of Indian classical or psychedelia and didn't have a Jeff Beck, George Harrison, Jimmy Page or Brian Jones in the band to emulate or play the sitar. They didn't have a multi-instrumentalist in the band either. Yes, Entwistle could play horns and Townshend played synthesizers but there wasn't diversity in their music when it came to musical instruments. They weren't particularly experimental in the studio to be psychedelic either (their only experimental studio efforts are probably the droney and backward guitar-oriented Armenia City In The Sky, and the overdubbed I Can't See For Miles). Their latter symphonic/progressive efforts were too simplistic with repetitive overblown music featuring synthesizers, piano and horns that merely added up as adornments rather than show any of the complexity or nuance of something like Western classical. And none of the Who members had a Motown or jazz inclination or background. They were a power pop band who wanted to rock hard and also sound important and big at the same time and show tons of attitude (they needed that considering they were all blessed with faces only their moms could love). And attitude is all you get from them throughout their career. I feel it is kinda ironic that Pete dissed on The Beatles when all he did was write simple pop stuff and have Entwistle and Moon shred on top of that. Speaking of comparing the Who with other bands, I think the Who should not be compared to Beatles, Stones, Pink Floyd or Zeppelin, they should be compared to similar-minded bands like The Kinks, The Small Faces, and The Pretty Things who were all essentially making hard-driven pop (or power pop). And in that group, it's not the The Who, it's the Kinks, who I think were the best.

For this compilation, I have included both non-album singles and songs from studio albums. I have chosen only select singles (most of their singles like Pictures of Lily and Magic Bus sound ridiculous to my ears). My personal favorite is their debut single I Can't Explain on which Jimmy Page apparently played lead guitar (Roger Daltrey says so, Pete Townshend obviously not... and Page himself can't remember) as a session musician. My next favorite is the Led Zeppelin-styled The Seeker. And although musically nothing special, I find the lyrics to Substitute and I'm A Boy hilarious, and have included them.

Among albums (if I were forced to sit through them at gunpoint), I would most likely find their only psychedelic-sounding album The Who Sell Out as their best effort. I immensely like half of Who's Next - 1973, (usually rated their best) and immensely hate the other half (and that includes the self-hating Behind Blue Eyes which is ruined by Roger Daltrey's inexplicably exaggerated and angry vocals in the middle section). My distant third favorite is the debut album The Who Sings My Generation from which I have three songs the anthemic (and honestly overrated) My Generation, the hilarious and nasty A Legal Matter and what looks like The Rolling Stones-rip off, the only R&B number on this compilation The Goods Gone. The sophomore effort is indeed a sophomore jinx, with a baffling decision to have Moon and Daltrey write songs. I found even the Townshend songs on the album rotten with the Entwistle dark comedy Boris The Spider, the only saving grace. I mostly despise both the rock operas especially the over-produced Quadrophenia (1973) which paradoxically features their best and worst music courtesy exceptional bass guitar work by Entwistle and courtesy exceptionally predictable drum work by Moon. I have included three songs from Tommy and I have excluded Quadrophenia entirely. I do love the song The Real Me from Quadrophenia which has some exceptional bass work. I promise I will find place for it elsewhere. I haven't included a single original song (I have included their cover of the Eddie Cochran classic Summertime Blues) from their live album Live At Leeds. Many Who fans swear on their dead or alive grandma's grave that this album was their best effort and also the best thing since sliced bread (speaking of which what is so great about sliced bread? I personally prefer baguette). But I have never bought the idea of stretching 3-minute pop songs like My Generation into 14-minute noise-fests or pretending that something titled Magic Bus is hard rock.

#767
JETHRO TULL
STAND UP (1969)
1 A New Day Yesterday (4:10) ♕♕♕♕
2 Jeffrey Goes to Leicester Square (2:12) ♕♕♕♕
3 Bourée (3:47) ♕♕♕♕
4 Back To The Family (3:53) ♕♕
5 Look Into The Sun (4:23)♕♕
6 Nothing Is Easy (4:26) ♕♕♕♕
7 Fat Man (2:52) ♕♕♕♕
8 We Used To Know (4:03) ♕♕
9 Reasons For Waiting (4:07)♕♕
10 For A Thousand Mothers (4:21)♕♕
REVIEW DATE - Apr 3rd, 2020

SYNOPSIS...
If you have been paying attention to my reviews you would have noticed that I have called Ian Anderson (the lead singer, songwriter, flautist, acoustic guitarist and leader of this band) a tool. Yet, his band and album make the list. That’s how I roll - spiteful comments follow ardent praise. True that, Anderson got too clever for his own good when his band hobbled into progressive rock in the '70s. This isn’t prog rock, though. If this is prog rock this has to be the least pretentious, pompous and plethoric a.k.a. excesssive (the three P adjectives which rock critics often to describe and disparage the whole prog rock movement) progressive rock albums of all time. On the other hand, if this is pure rock, this is indeed the most pretentious, pompous and plethoric rock albums of all time. This might be one of the very few albums which "pure rock" fans and critics disdain as "too confusing to be rock" and which "prog rock" fans disown as "way too simple to be prog".

Being the huge pathetic loser that I am, I wanted my first non-compilation (and hence, real) rock album on the countdown to be a pretentious (this is Pretension Palace after all) prog rock album (that rock critics would absolutely hate... thus earning me some much-needed cool points). However, I miserably failed to find a single prog album that could fit this slot. So, I settled for a pretentious rock album instead. What a disgrace! Don't let the word "pretension" fool you - this album is a charming and versatile gem. What kind of music is this? Were they trying to play blues rock? folk rock? jazz rock? classical rock? How about all? Most of the times such ambition falls flat on its face, but here it succeeds because the focus is not on showing off but tasteful songwriting. This is Ian Anderson's strongest work and features his strongest rhythm section. God knows how and why he managed to lose his amazingly talented bass guitarist and exceptional feel-oriented drummer in the 70s With this rhythm section future big sellers Aqualung and Thick As A Brick would have live up to their hype! To love this album, you have to get past Ian Anderson's hobo voice. It's very much bearable here, though. And he doesn't even abuse that favorite flute of him. Interesting fact: this sophomore album has a new guitarist - some comedian called Lancelot Barre who probably absconded The Monty Python Flying Circus at some point in his life. That slot could have easily gone to one great Tony Iommi of Black Sabbath, had he not fled on his horse, disguised in a black cape in the middle of night, while begging Satan for mercy, after meeting these weirdos.

Addendum...
#766
LONDON MOZART PLAYERS/MATTHIAS BAMERT (Composer: William Herschel)
SYMPHONIES (2002)
1 Symphony No. 14 (11:20)
2 Symphony No. 8 (11:41)
3 Symphony No. 2 (9:33)
4 Symphony No. 12 (11:23)
5 Symphony No. 17 (11:49)
6 Symphony No. 13 (12:05)
REVIEW DATE - May 31st, 2020

SYNOPSIS...
Well, this is my first (Western) classical album in the countdown, and I am a street bum when it comes to classical music - the other genres that I love like rock, electronic and folk music are closer to my base than classical ever was. I enjoy classical very much in spite of not having the slightest comprehension or the knowledge of its high art, complexity, nuance and sophistication. My favorite eras are Baroque and Classical. I love the other periods too - the only era I haven't been able to sink my teeth into is Modern. For some reason, in spite of its great diversity, Modern classical has not been palatable to my taste buds. Maybe I am just an old-fashioned 1700s-era kook with a narrow mind born in the wrong century?

The composer of this album - William Herschel, though not very well-known as a composer, was actually, one of the greatest astronomers of all time. He not only constructed the renowned Herschel telescopes, but also discovered the highly controversial, the full-of-shit planet - Uranus. He also discovered infrared radiation, determined the rotation period of Mars, discovered Titania and Oberon (two moons of Uranus alluded to, in the Pink Floyd classic Astronomy Domine) and the enigmatic Enceladus and that worthless piece of shit - Mimus (two moons of Saturn). And he did all of this, after having already composed 24 symphonies! What a genius, this guy was! I wonder if there were any other great astronomer-composers in history. He had someone in his own family - his younger sister (Caroline) who gave him ample company in his dual pursuits. She discovered comets and has one even named after her, and also sang in oratorios (Handel's Messiah being one of them) that William conducted. She was not a composer though! So, the search for the holy grail of astronomer-composer continues... Regardless, isn't it awe-inspiring to see musician-astronomer siblings? Genius runs in the blood they say, and they are all bloodsuckers... so they know!

I don't remember how I ran into Herschel's music, but I am kind of proud to have discovered him - and you would be too when you listen to this album {Don't get a big head just get a-head}. Six of his symphonies are presented here by the London Mozart Players with Swiss conductor Matthias Bamert in tow - in a bright, vibrant and elegant fashion. They are delectable, joyful and dreamy - and have this remarkable ability to transport you back to the stately and serene beauty of the 1760s (William composed 24 symphonies at a whirlwind speed between 1760-64 - someone told him music wasn't his full-time role!).  I recommend listening to this on vinyl (if available) while sitting in a dark room lying down on a comfy couch with some fine red-wine in hand. This will sound magical and ...English! Though Herschel was German, he had settled in London since the age of 19, and is for all his intents and purposes, an Englishman. These symphonies have a Handel-esque feel to them (who coincidentally was another German composer who was quintessentially English). Never mind the Nazis, in a moment of rare solidarity, ignoring all the bitterness between the two nations, Herschel and Handel brought the Brit and them German brothers together. I wish these two had been born a tad earlier - we could have easily avoided those two pesky, grotesque and rather long-winded world wars!!!

PS: This used to be my album #767. I have now slightly downgraded it and have done a even swap with my album #769. There is a reason behind it. You will know when you read the next review. You will observe more such swappings. Why? Because I am an eccentric perfectionist, who doesn't trust his own judgement and who frequently likes to "revist" things. The only day this countdown will be set in stone is when the book comes out. And that is a long, long way to go! Hopefully, I make it until then!

#765
M. S. SUBBULAKSHMI
SRI VENKETESHA SUPRABHATAM (1963)
1 Sri Venketesa Suprabhatam (20:30)
2 Bhavayami (13:31)
3 Shri Vangapura Vihara (6:04)
   
 

REVIEW DATE - Ju1 18th, 2020

SYNOPSIS...
This whole page is going to be loaded with curveballs - this in particular, would make the heads of even my closest friends, spin! I, myself would haven't guessed that my first Indian entry in the countdown would be a Carnatic classical vocal album. I have always been more of a "music" sort of person - who still maintains the position of vocals being ornamental and secondary to the instruments. And my attraction to Indian classical (which has been only lately in the past 10 years or so) has always been aligned towards the hypnotic marvel of the slow-burn instrumental ragas which revolves around the virtuoso skills of the various Indian maestros (Pandits, Vidwans and Ustads). Granted, vocals are important more so in Carnatic classical than Hindustani classical and many classical vocalists had successful careers of their own, but it is the Ravi Shankars and Ali Akbar Khans who are more well-known outside of India.

M. S. Subbulakshmi, though mostly known in South India is still regarded in the same level as Ravi Shankar and Ali Akbar Khan. She was India's most treasured classical singers who not only was bestowed with Bharath Ratna - India's highest civilian award (which has been awarded only to a select few), but also was honored with the Asia Nobel prize -Ramon Magsaysay Award. Carnatic classical musicians tend to be even more elusive than their Hindustani counterparts and hardly ever record LPs. Though Subbulakshmi has performed in America, Europe and all over the world, she had recorded precious few albums as such. The Carnatic school music is deeply associated with the Hindu (South India - especially Tamil) Gods and hence more spiritual than its Hindustani rival. This album is particular is deeply spiritual. Though Subbulakshmi is Tamilian the album is sung in Sanskrit - an ancient language which is hardly spoken these days (PS: Tamil is supposed to be even older than Sanskrit. But the modern version of Tamil is well... modern).

The 20-minute title song which is merely a vocal chant of hymns to awaken the deity was written around 600 years ago in 1430 A.D. by Prathivadhi Bhayankaram Aṇṇan who was a prominent scholar of his time. The instrumentation on it is sparse and it would resemble vedic chants to the Western audience. It is however not as old (Vedic chants were written 3500 years ago) and is merely a hymn which is played or sung early morning - in fact in rural Southern India (Tamil Nadu and Kerala in particular) it is still played in many houses and temples on a daily basis. All the version that is played is the version on this album! This tune could possibly lay claim to be played more than any other song - even Stairway To Heaven! The other two tracks feature instruments like tamboura (Subbulakshmi), mridangam (T.K. Murthy) and violin (R.S. Gopalakrishnan). I like the second track the best in which the mridangam and vocals seem to possess a sort of spiritual cohesion which can be only experienced by listening. The third track is good as well but, in my opinion, it gets a bit dwarfed by the majestic beautify of the first two songs. PS: It is highly possible that Subbulakshmi's step daughter Radha Vishwanathan is providing harmony vocals in this album, but credits for this album are as elusive as this album itself. So, I can't vouch for her presence!

#764
PHILIP COHRAN AND THE ARTISTIC HERITAGE ENSEMBLE
ON THE BEACH (1967)
1 The Minstrel (9:37)
2 Unity (8:08)
3 On The Beach (17:26)
4 Motherhood (4:26)
 

REVIEW DATE - Oct 25th, 2020

SYNOPSIS...
I begin my long and treacherous journey into jazz with an atypical album which apart from being highly unusual, has little to do with American jazz, even though it done by American musicians. I must tell you I am not a big fan of the highly respected jazz genres (bebop, hard bop, post bop, cool jazz, modal jazz, free jazz, avantgarde jazz) of the 1950s and 1960s. I never understood the charm of each member taking turns to do unaccompanied solos on brass and double-bass. As they say... "Don't give a damn about any trumpet playing band; it ain't what they call Rock and Roll".

Now that I have turned off all jazz enthusiasts, let’s talk the language, peasants like you and me understand. Why do I like this album? This is not the late 60s jazz-fusion or jazz-funk music which are pills a rock fan like me can easily swallow. This is pretty much in line with the 50s and 60s jazz that I ranted about, especially in terms of structure. However, in terms of spirit, this is well... different. The group leader Philip Cohran wasn't looking at his predecessors for inspiration; he was looking forward into lands from far beyond like Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Egypt, India and (maybe) China. Another thing I love about this album are the songs are structured around a strange and sweet instrument - the electric kalimba (aka Frankophone). So, in spite of having a 1940's big band-styled line up, featuring thirteen musicians, with many of them playing standard brass like saxophone, trumpet, trombone and tuba, the music here is distinctly non-Western.

The band features members Master Henry Gibson (who will go on to play with funk legend Herbie Hancock and soul singer Donny Hathaway), blues and jazz guitarist Pete Cosey who will play with Miles Davis in the '70s, and also features what would later become the horn sections of legendary soul/disco/funk band Earth Wind and Fire - the saxophonist Don Myrick and bassist/trombonist Louis Satterfield. So, you get the picture - this was a revolutionary outfit playing some extra-ordinary music which influenced a lot of African-American music of the next decade.

As for the songs themselves, the first two songs have a strong sense of American soul mixed with African groove, foreshadowing the music, Herbie Hancock and Fela Kuti made in the '70s. The opening song The Minstrel starts with typical soul singing by the two female members but soon progresses into virtuoso Frankophone soloing with African rhythms and brass soloing in a vein of Sun Ra Arkestra (Philip Cohran played cornet for Sun Ra' in late '50s). The exotic Unity is the best song on the album. This song features two other instruments - the violin-uke and the Chinese musette, which seem to be played in a style similar to Indian Carnatic violin and nadaswaram. The rhythm provided by Master Henry Gibson on the conga and timbales is West African. The second half is not as immediately captivating but ultimately rewarding if have the patience to sit through especially the slow burning title track which is almost raga-like. The final track Motherhood which is entirely different in mood, is a short lounge track which features some incredible vocals by one of the singers. Though not as remarkable as the rest, it is effective and closes the album on a serene note.

#763
THE JIMI HENDRIX EXPERIENCE
ARE YOU EXPERIENCED (1967)
1 Foxy Lady (3:10)
2 Manic Depression (3:31)
3 Red House (3:45)
4 Can You See Me (2:35)
5 Love Or Confusion (3:05)
6 I Don't Live Today (3:48)
7 May Be This Love (2:55)
8 Fire (2:30)
9 3rd Stone From The Sun (6:30)
10 Remember (2:43)
11 Are You Experienced (4:02)
12 Hey Joe (3:30)
13 Stone Free (3:36)
14 Purple Haze (2:51)
15 51st Anniversary (3:15)
16 The Wind Cries Mary (3:20)
17 Highway Chile (3:32)
REVIEW DATE - Oct 31st, 2020

SYNOPSIS...
I must say that I am cheating here. This is technically not the real Are You Experienced album. I will explain. Jimi Hendrix Experience were a British band backing an American guitarist who was plucked out of thin air and shipped promptly to England by ex-Animals bassist/producer Chas Chandler. Since they were British, only the UK version of the album should count. If you are an ignorant fool who knows nothing about rock music in the '60s, back in the '60s, the Brits released albums separately in the UK and the US, and with different songs. The reason being - the US versions included already released hit singles in the UK and excluded the weakest studio album songs, thus delegitimizing them (no one considers the Beatles or Rolling Stones US albums as real albums, for example). The Experience already had 3 hit singles in the UK by the release of the British version of this album. And in this compilation, you get to listen to them and their B-sides.

Why did I not just include the original Are You Experienced album? Because I don't think the British version of this album is particularly strong (mostly marred by poor production on few songs with bass guitar barely audible and drums sounding like tin cans. There were three engineers involved... God knows why!). Perhaps, it was intentional sabotage by Chas Chandler who marketed the band as Jimi's backing band - did they turn the bass amplifier off? I smell conspiracy, because Redding's bass is clearly prominent on the singles but relegated to the background on all the 11 album tracks. Also, Jimi Hendrix, though a pioneering and visionary guitarist, was a patchy songwriter. The three singles (Hey Joe, Purple Haze, The Wind Cries Mary) on this compilation are the best songs Jimi Hendrix ever recorded, apart from that legendary Bob Dylan cover (All Along the Watchtower) that he recorded for the third album. Those singles (and their B-sides Stone Free, 51st Anniversary and Highway Chile) tower over anything on the album (except Foxy Lady, Manic Depression, Love or Confusion, and Fire). As for the rest of the songs the blues-rock Red House is a best song here. The long 3rd Stone from The Sun is an interesting jam which points forward to Santana, whom I think were better at this kind of music, courtesy the exotic Latin percussion. The other five are blah. The title track is among the worst songs and could have had the dubious honor of being one of the few title songs to be the worst song on the album, if not for the even worse Remember. So, this leaves the album with 12 highlights out of 17. Not the best strike rate - but those highlights are pretty... high, especially, the hypnotic, The Wind Cries Mary.

Many of the Hendrix fans may be offended to see him so low on the list. He and his band were revolutionaries who set the template for future hard rock, heavy psych and prog rock of the late '60s and beyond. Jimi Hendrix is ranked #3 in both VH1's Top 100 Greatest Artist of Rock 'n Roll and Top 100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock. But greatness does not improve album quality. Regarding those lists, they always only mention Jimi Hendrix and not the Jimi Hendrix Experience. Jimi hardly did anything solo and his boring blues jam album Band of Gypsys released as a solo album with another lineup, does not define his legacy. True, they were conceived as a backing band for Jimi, but both Noel Redding and Mitch Mitchell contributed significantly, to the sound. They were a power trio but other power trios like Cream, ELP and Rush were more skilled and virtuosic (if not better) ensembles. This is partly because Noel got few chances to shine and Mitch, though he had a prominent drumming style, was ultimately predictable. Perhaps, if the whole focus was not on Jimi, they would have functioned more as a unit? However, as Kirk Lazarus once gloriously said... "Suck My Unit". In spite of all the shortcomings, when they were good, they were good together! And that matters! So, whoever says Hendrix was a solo artist can... suck my unit.

There is this story that weeks before his death Jimi was contemplating a band with Mitchell and Keith Emerson/Greg Lake called HELM. That never happened because Emerson and Lake found insanely talented drummer Carl Palmer. And then, there was this thought of HELP. Hendrix with ELP? Wankalicious! God had other plans for Jimi, however, and spared us that monstrosity!

#762
TECHNICAL SPACE COMPOSER'S CREW (HOLGER CZUKAY AND ROLF DAMMERS)
CANAXIS 5 (1968)
1 Boat Woman Song (17:31)
2 Canaxis (20:19)
   
   
   
REVIEW DATE - Oct 31st, 2020

SYNOPSIS...
No, there were no four albums titled Canaxis 1, 2, 3 and 4 before this album (Canaxis 5 is name of a satellite of a distant star). And no, Rolf Dammers was not a musician on this album. He merely co-produced the album. And no, no Vietnamese musicians were involved in the making of this album either, even though I have credited Vietnam for this album. This piece of musical insanity was the brainchild of (legendary krautrock band) Can's bass guitarist Holger Czukay. He produced this album while Can were recording their debut album Monster Movie. This album has nothing at all to do with Can's music. There is no rock here, and there is not much electronic, jazz, avantgarde or funk here, the unique amalgamation of which is what Can were all about. This is purely an experimental exercise by Holger where he took around thousands of snippets from short-wave radio broadcasts and looped them while adding little electronic effects and bass to make it sound like a drone album. This is the earliest example of electronic sampling, sound collage, musique concrete and tape music recorded on to an album.

Holger was then a disciple of avantgarde composer Karlheinz Stockhausen and his influence is felt here. Coincidentally, Karheinz was working on his most popular work Hymnen around the same time. This is a piece of musical genius - who would have thought that mixing tapes of male Western classical choir with female Vietnamese a capella folk singing, with nary a lead musical instrument except minimalistic bass (there is a short section in the second piece where you could hear a koto-like instrument) would yield such hypnotic and spell-binding effect on your soul. The Vietnamese vocals are lifted from 1965 Folkways label record featuring the Cham people and the Western male vocals are a rendition of a 13th century polyphonic rondeau by troubadour Adam de la Halle. Holger, whose main motive was seeing if the two worlds can collide and produce something new, insists that this whole album was recorded in under 4 hours and should be considered live.

You have to listen to this album to believe it; it's so musical in spite of its experimental nature. I highly recommend this one-of-a-kind adventure (only 1000 copies of this were made when it was released). This will suck you in, if you listen to it on headphones. I would have loved for this to be a double album. In spite of having two long pieces, this, at 37 minutes feels too short!

#761
SHIV-HARI
SILSILA (1981)
1 Silsila Theme, Part 1 (2:12)
2 Silsila Theme, Part 2 (3:40)
3 Silsila Theme, Part 3 (3:31)
4 Neela Aasman - male (4:34)
5 Dekha Ek Khwab - dialogues (5:55)
6 Yeh Kahan Aa Gaye Hum (7:39)
7 Ladki Hain Ya Shola (3:58)
8 Neela Aasman - female (5:28)
9 Dekha Ek Khwab, Part 1 (1:26)
10 Yeh Kahan Aa Gaye Hum (7:54)
11 Rang Barse Bheege Chunarwali (6:06)
12 Dekha Ek Khwab, Part 2 (5:20)
13 Sar Se Sarke (5:41)
14 Jo Jum Thodo Piya (3:35)
15 Khud Se Joh Waada Kiya (4:06)
16 Bahan Jinah Di Pakdiye (4:06)
REVIEW DATE - Nov 6th, 2020

SYNOPSIS...
This is a soundtrack to a Bollywood movie which bombed in spite of being an all-star cast, rather unjustly (more about that later). For a non-Indian, let me educate a bit about Indian movies. Not all Indian movies are Bollywood movies. Bollywood is merely a film industry centered in the city of Bombay (now called Mumbai). It is used to refer to movies made in the Hindi language. Almost every state in India has its own language(s) (with several dialects). In fact, Bombay is in the state of Maharashtra whose local language is Marathi - not Hindi. But Bombay being the most metropolitan of the four major cities in India, is a city of immigrants and Hindi (apart from English) functions as a major language there. I grew up in Bombay! There is a Marathi film industry as well. But it gets overshadowed. The second biggest film industry is located in Chennai (used to be Madras), Tamil Nadu and called Kollywood. There are several other film industries including an art-movie industry called parallel cinema, which featured serious movies dealing with social issues (and does not feature songs). This movie however, is strictly commercial.

Okay, now that I have got that boring geographic intro out of the way, lets focus on the album. Indian soundtracks are unlike most Hollywood soundtracks and feature songs written by the composers but sung by hired-hand playbook singers featuring lyrics by hired-hand lyricists. The composers for this movie soundtrack are not typical Indian film music directors, but well-accomplished Hindustani classical maestros Pandit Shivkumar Sharma (santoor - a form of Indian hammered dulcimer), and Pandit Hariprasad (bansuri - Indian bamboo flute), who were popular all over the world as early as 1967 when they recorded the highest selling Indian classical album, Call Of The Valley, with another musician, guitarist Pandit Brijbushan Kabra (slide guitar). You ask, why all these musicians have same first names? Pandit merely means maestro and it is not part of their name... hehe.

This soundtrack does not feature Kabra and is a first film collaboration between Sharma and Chaurasia (who recorded many other serious classical albums). Though they composed few other soundtracks too, mostly for director Yash Chopra's movies, this debut attempt is their finest. Most of the songs are dominated by santoor and bansuri, as you would expect. Ironically, my favorite song on the album (the underrated Sar Se Sarke) does not feature much santoor or bansuri and is driven by groovy tabla and other percussion. The other highlights are the soaring Dekha Ek Khwab (Part 2), the poetic and almost spoken-word Neela Aasman (female), the dreamy Yeh Kahan Aa Gaye Hum and the folksy Rang Barse. The last three songs on the soundtrack are not memorable but good musically. The weak track on the album is Ladki Hain Ya Shola. The movie star (all-time superstar) Amitabh Bachchan sings couple of songs. He does not have a singing voice, and although he doesn't ruin it (unlike what actress Sridevi would do in the 1989 movie Chandni, also composed by Shiv-Hari), I think asking him to sing, was a misstep considering the playback singer on the other songs, the legendary Kishore Kumar, has an excellent voice and had sung numerous songs picturized on Amitabh, already.

Why did this movie bomb? Well, because the audience couldn't accept it. The plot revolves around the theme of adultery which was taboo in India around 1981 (especially in a mainstream Bollywood hoopla). Legend is that audiences walked out of some theatres midway through the movie, even though the ending would have been palatable for Indian audiences who regarded marriage as a sacred institution, back then. I think the doctored and forced ending having the adulterers abandon the extra-marital affair, ruined the movie. The interesting thing is that the adultery happening on screen was also happening in real-life too between the same couple (Amitabh Bachchan and Rekha), and the real-life wife (Jaya Bachchan) plays the reel-life wife getting cheated upon (rumor is that that it was Jaya, who forced the director to change the ending, probably claiming some sort of mental victory over Rekha). When the affair became public through tabloids, it created a major furor and brought shame to real life married couple (Amitabh and Jaya Bachchan). The acting is genuine and superb because the actors were acting the real-life events on camera, while being completely miserable; thus, pouring that misery onto the camera! And Jaya was brought back from her post-marriage retirement and promptly retired again, after this movie. What a casting coup by the director! Well, turns out Yash Chopra's choices for the two lead actresses were different and it was Amitabh who replaced those actresses with his muse and his wife. Why, oh why, Amitabh, did you do this to yourself? And after this movie, Amitabh and Rekha stopped acting together (because of Jaya) and Rekha married only once (for a mere seven months in 1990, before her husband who was in depression hung himself with her own dupatta, earning her a reputation of being a witch). And just to make things even more creepy, the other male lead Sanjeev Kumar, who plays Rekha's husband in the movie, was secretly in love with Amitabh's wife in the mid '70s.

The other star in movie who appears as a guest actor, is handsome actor Shashi Kapoor who plays Amitabh's elder brother who is also Jaya's character's boyfriend, until he gets bumped off (this was probably a bad omen for the movie's fortunes as it is Amitabh, who typically died in his successful movies, and not his frequent partner Shashi). If only they had switched the roles? But then the reel-real crisscross wouldn't have happened, as Shashi Kapoor was happily married to his white lady and not involved in this reel-real adulterous mire. But Shashi's character does manage to get Jaya's character pregnant in the beginning. And Amitabh's character achieves the same feat with Jaya's character, in the end... even though they are not in love! Confused about the storyline, yet? That's Indian cinema for you! Though impeccably acted and director, because of the somewhat improbable storyline and soft ending, the movie falls short of being a masterpiece... but the soundtrack... doesn't!

#760
THE DOORS
THE DOORS (1966)
1 Break On Through To The Other Side (2:25) ♕♕♕♕
2 Soul Kitchen (3:30) ♕♕
3 The Crystal Ship (2:30) ♕♕
4 Twentieth Century Fox (2:30) ♕♕
5 Alabama Song (3:15) ♕♕
6 Light My Fire (6:50) ♕♕
7 Backdoor Man (3:30) ♕♕
8 I Looked At You (2:18) ♕♕
9 End Of The Night (2:49) ♕♕
10 Take It As It Comes (2:13) ♕♕
11 The End (11:35) ♕♕♕♕♕
REVIEW DATE - Nov 7th, 2020

SYNOPSIS...
The two "bird groups", The Yardbirds and The Byrds, were among the first bands who experimented to create a new kind of underground psychedelic rock music - a kind of music which emulated the experience of psychedelic drugs like LSD, by using feedback on electric guitar and/or electric organ to create a distorted effect. Psychedelic rock tended to have the hypnotic effect of Indian raga or space music or blues or in some cases all three of them together. The British band Yardbirds were literally the first to did it - on their explicitly psychedelic single Heart Full of Soul (recorded as early as January 1966) on which the guitarist Jeff Beck played like guitar like a sitar. Around the same time, across the pond, The Byrds recorded their raga inspired Eight Miles High which was literally about drugs. Even the earlier era pop-oriented acts like The Beatles themselves went semi-psychedelic on their records from 1965 (the jangle pop Ticket to Ride and sitar-led raga-pop Norwegian Wood). The Beach Boys (That's Not Me - rec. March 1966) lay claim too. These were all mainstream bands who only dabbled in this kind of music with a pop angle. There was plenty of serious activity, however, in the underground. And The Doors were leaders of this movement. This album recorded between August and September 1966, is one of the earliest full-fledged psychedelic albums (and may quite be the earliest, in fact). This album predates the summer of love and earliest psychedelic singles by premier psychedelic acts like The Jimi Hendrix Experience (Hey Joe - rec. Dec 1966), Jefferson Airplane (White Rabbit - rec. Nov 1966) and Pink Floyd (Arnold Layne - rec. Jan 1967). Without the advent of psychedelic rock, there would be no hard rock, heavy psych and progressive rock. So, you get the picture - this is one massively influential album! The three best tracks on the album Break on Through, Light My Fire and The End are landmark songs, which heralded the arrival of a new era of experimentation, self-indulgence and decadence, rendering the earlier era of simple 3-minute lovey-dovey pop irrelevant, and kicking it to never-neverland. Quality-wise, this album suffers from similar pitfalls as the Hendrix debut Are You Experienced. But the highlights of the album generate enough impact to make it a (better) masterpiece and this album would have been higher if not for the carnivalesque keyboards (which actually works on many tracks)

Addendum...
#759
ESTAS TONNE
INTERNAL FLIGHT (2013)
1 Internal Flight (60:34)
   
   
REVIEW DATE - Nov 21st, 2020

SYNOPSIS...
I wish all my albums were single track albums - I could finish the countdown a lot quicker! Estas Tonne, who considers himself a modern-day troubadour, was born in Ukraine but really didn't stick around there for long, or for that matter, anywhere else. He has travelled all over the world assimilating music and ideas from all parts of the world. Though he played guitar as a child, he stopped playing for 11 years until the year 2001 when he moved to New York and started playing with a street musician, the violinist Michael Schulman, after listening to gypsy jazz legend Django Reinhardt's recordings with violinist Stephane Grappelli. He then, went on solo gigs all over the world while also recording albums. Though most of his albums are unknown, this one got strong reviews and spread through word of mouth (it ranks at #2560 as of the day of this writing). So, what kind of music does this album have? Is it all gypsy jazz? Does it sound like Django?

No, this is not gypsy jazz. And though it may be Django-inspired it sounds nothing like him. Estas' guitar technique may borrow some of Django's Romani traits, but he plays his guitar in a style which is a cross of flamenco and classical music, blurring the lines so much, that it is difficult to determine if this was recorded on nylon-string flamenco guitar or steel-string classical guitar. We also get faint vibes of Hindustani classical in Estas' playing which seems like a spiritual raga journey to beautiful world's unknown. The production on this album is very much electronic (the drone in the background could be synth but also could be studio feedback on the guitar). And because of its relaxed meditational style, you could also consider this new age. Wikipedia lists him under classical guitar, Romani music and fingerstyle guitar. And rateyourmusic.com has tagged this album as new age, flamenco nuevo, post-minimalism, and progressive folk. All those descriptions apply, making this album, truly one-of-a-kind, that would sounds ambient electronic to you, if you are focusing on the various sound effects and looking at the production, a virtuosic classical finger-styled guitar album if you are focusing on the intensity with which Estas plays during various sections of the album, a progressive folk album if you are looking at the various transitions and changes in intensity throughout the track, and a new age album if you are listening to this in a dark album and using it for relaxation. This record would have been flawless if not for its length. Perhaps, Estas was trying to make it CD length; if he had cut it 20 minutes shorter, it would have made a perfect LP. Regardless, this is an undeniable mysterious masterpiece from an even more elusive artist.

#758
BRAD FIEDEL
THE TERMINATOR (1984)
1 Main Title - The Terminator (2:41)
2 Terminator Arrival/Reese Chased/Sarah On Motorbike (7:09)
3 Terminator Gets Guns/Search For Sarah (1:14)
4 Reese Dreams Of Future War (1:51)
5 Sarah Watches News/Enter Tech Noir (1:24)
6 Matt & Ginger Killed/Sarah Calls Detectives (7:55)
7 Reese & Sarah In Garage (4:35)
8 Arm & Eye Surgery (3:46)
9 I'll Be Back/Police Station & Escape (4:35)
10 Future Flashback (3:48)
11 Fuck You Asshole (1:09)
12 Love Scene (2:30)
13 Tunnel Chase (5:14)
14 Death By Fire/Terminator Gets Up (2:37)
15 Factory Chase (3:58)
16 End Credits: Final Suite - The Terminator (10:33)
17 Reese & Sarah In Garage (4:21)
REVIEW DATE - November 28th, 2020

SYNOPSIS...
This is my third review for the day (this album went through a sort of a complex double swap. It's original spot was #753). If I keep up this pace, I could actually finish this undertaking one day! This is the re-release of the soundtrack to perhaps by favorite (or at least second favorite) sci-fi movies of all time. And I haven't sneaked in this album, just because I love the movie. The original release of the album had 5 songs with vocals not composed by Brad Fiedel and also did not include the complete music composed by him. This album is all instrumental and all Brad Fiedel. This version works better as it is more singularly focused. In my opinion, this album is a landmark in synth-dominated music. This kind of music falls under the Horror Synth sub-genre which began in 1977 with John Carpenter's Halloween soundtrack and Italian progressive rock band Goblin's Suspiria soundtrack. This, however, sounds nothing like either of them. This movie is not about serial killers or the supernatural, this is about a cyborg sent back from the future with an intent to kill someone. The sound on this album has traces of early 80's industrial music, along with the some good ol' Berlin school sound, especially some of Tangerine Dream's 80's works (especially The Thief soundtrack). This is a lot darker than The Thief. Brad Fiedel's synthesizers don't have anything slick, sophisticated or modern about them... they sound very metallic and resemble the plastic factory where the film's climax takes place. Don't worry, I will not spoil the movie for you. You have to watch the movie first to appreciate this soundtrack. Unlike most soundtracks, this stands on its own, primarily, because of its unrelentless nature in terms of being spooky and melancholic, at the same time.

#757
GUNS N' ROSES
APPETITE FOR DESTRUCTION (1987)
1 Welcome To The Jungle (4:31) ♕♕
2 It's So Easy (3:21) ♕♕
3 Nightrain (4:26) ♕♕
4 Out Ta Get Me (4:20) ♕♕
5 Mr. Brownstone (3:46)♕♕
6 Paradise City (6:46) ♕♕♕♕
7 My Michelle (3:39) ♕♕
8 Think About You (3:50)
9 Sweet Child O' Mine (5:55) ♕♕♕♕
10 You're Crazy (3:16) ♕♕
11 Anything Goes (3:25)
12 Rocket Queen (6:13) ♕♕
REVIEW DATE - Nov 25th, 2020

SYNOPSIS...
So far, I have gone all intellectual on you, in this countdown. Time to shake things up! Here's your balls-to-the wall, in-your-face hard rock. For someone who is so high on the purity of instrumental virtuosity and musical beauty, the inclusion of this dirty little foul-mouthed juvenile cock-rock album is a bit shocking, isn't it? Like a sharp 180-degree turn? Usually, such albums are all about partying, getting drunk, chicks, bar fights, and tongue-in-cheek double entendre (think AC/DC), but this is none of that. This is a serious and vicious hard rock album, borne out of the mean streets of L.A. Right from the album title to the lyrics - "Ohhh ah, I wanna watch you bleed", "Turn around, bitch, I got a use for you", "I've got a tongue like a razor, a sweet switchblade knife", this album is mean to the core. This might also be one of the few straight-forward non-evil hard rock albums to carry "Explicit" warning. In spite of its overall nastiness, the album's most well-known song is a sentimental love song. Hehe, serves them right!

PS: I see this album labeled as hair metal. Nothing about this album is hair metal except it being recorded in 1987 by long-haired junkies. This is plain old hard rock with some punk rock influences. The band leader, the eternal douchebag Axl Rose, has said he was influenced by Queen, AC/DC, Rolling Stones, Aerosmith and Rose Tattoo. The band also liked T. Rex (and hence the dirtiness) and Sex Pistols (and hence the nastiness). Though not hair metal and pretty much retro (musically this could have easily belonged to the late 70's) the culture and essence of this album screams 80's - so much so, that I always reminds me of the Corey Feldman character Rick Butler from the hilarious movie The 'Burbs (1989).

Addendum...
#756
GAVIN BRYARS
THE SINKING OF THE TITANIC (1975)
1 The Sinking Of The Titanic (24:40)
2 Jesus' Blood Never Failed Me Yet (25:57)
   
   
   
REVIEW DATE - November 26th, 2020

SYNOPSIS...
Happy Thanksgiving! And in this festive day, I bring you the most maudlin album ever made. Brainchild of British minimalist composer Gavin Bryars, this work was an unknown obscurity until plucked out of thin air by ambient pioneer Brian Eno. Gavin had composed these classical chamber pieces between 1969-1972. Though both the pieces were performed live since 1972, they weren't recorded until Brian Eno approached Gavin and ask him to record it for his Obscure Records label. Produced by Eno and conducted by Bryars, these two minimalistic pieces are repetitive yet so mournful and reflective that they transport you to the places they allude to and put you right in the centre. The Sinking of The Titanic is of course about the disastrous sinking of the Titanic in 1912; the other piece features a tape loop of a hobo singing about God with chamber accompaniment. Gavin came up with this idea when he read a report by wireless operator Harold Bride about how the band on the Titanic kept playing the classical piece Songe d'Automne even as the ship was sinking, with the music still reverberating as the ship sank. It is a sorrowful piece which, though, minimal and repetitive, will suck you in and bring you on board the ship.

The other piece is also very sad. It features a live recorded snippet of a homeless man singing when Bryars was recording a film with a friend about homeless people near Waterloo station. Apparently, some of the hobos broke into a drunken song. Eventually, one of them who was sober sang a religious song about Jesus. None of this made to the film, but Gavin was given pieces of unused sections of the tape. He made the most of it when he discovered that the singing was in tune with his piano. He noticed that the first part of the song was effectively a loop and made a tape loop out of it. The story goes that Gavin took the tape loop to Fine Art Department at Leicester and copied the loop onto a continuous reel of tape. As the loop was getting copied, it was also getting played and when Gavin came back after fetching coffee, he found the people in the room were unnaturally subdued and some of them were weeping!

Well, if you wanna weep, go for this album. Maybe you should put this on, if your Thanksgiving dinner is awful or you are stuck with folks you didn't wannabe. Whether you weep or not, this is a timeless masterpiece.

#755
SAM COOKE
LIVE AT THE HARLEM SQUARE CLUB (1963)
1 Feel It (3:46)
2 Chain Gang (3:11)
3 Cupid (2:46)
4 Medley: It's All Right/For Sentimental Reasons (5:11)
5 Twisting The Night Away (4:19)
6 Somebody Have Mercy (4:45)
7 Bring It On Home To Me (5:37)
8 Nothing Can Change This Love (3:45)
9 Having A Party (4:09)
REVIEW DATE - December 27th, 2020

SYNOPSIS...
This is one of the early live albums from the world of rock n' roll. And it is great. Put this on and groove it to it if you are having a retro-themed rock n' roll dance party at home. It's called soul, but to my ears it is too brash and raw to be soul. And unlike most soul singers like Curtis Mayfield, Marvin Gaye, Otis Redding etc., Sam Cooke's vocals are not smooth, they are quite raspy in fact. I have heard his studio albums and they do sound like early R&B based soul, but on this live album he and his band sound quite different. And I like this version of Sam Cooke the best. This album is rightly considered one of the greatest live albums ever made. For 1963, the quality of the recording is quite good, if not optimal. As for the songs, most of the songs have a similar feel, passionate gospel-tinged vocals delivered with wild abandon while the rest of the band is grooving along in a rock n' roll fashion that is wild enough to maintain the energy produced by the singer but not overpowering to drown the vocals. There are couple of saxophonists (most notably King Curtis) and a pianist in the lineup but there is nothing smooth or pop about this record; it is a fireball of raw rock n' roll energy. I feel the first half of the album is more memorable and it kinda gets old towards the end; the performances are consistently great though. If not for the lack of variety, this album would have been higher on the list.

Too bad, the very next year, an unarmed Sam Cooke would get shot down by a motel manager (who had a criminal record herself) under mysterious circumstances. Sam had apparently barged into her apartment-office, naked, and attacked her while asking about a girl (later revealed to be a prostitute who would end up murdering her boyfriend later) who had accompanied him to his motel room. The female friend would later accuse Sam of attempted rape. Whether he was a decent man is debatable, he was one spirited live performer. The world missed a great musician (and not for the last time) courtesy the nutty American gun culture. Yeah, you crazy gun lovers! "Guns don't kill; people kill". Except that, if Sam Cooke had done the same in a motel in any of the 249 other countries, the motel manager might have ended up with a few bruises and then called the cops later and have him arrested; not shot him thrice without warning and then walked scot-free.

#754
METALLICA
NO LIFE 'TIL LEATHER (1982)
1 Hit The Lights (4:22)
2 The Mechanics (4:29)
3 Motorhead (4:27)
4 Seek & Destroy (4:59)
5 Metal Militia (5:19)
6 Jump In The Fire (3:52)
7 Phantom Lord (3:35)
REVIEW DATE - November 28th, 2020

SYNOPSIS...
This is a very much lo-fi demo which was recorded in 1982 by Metallica back when they were trash metal to the core and back when they had none other than Dave Mustaine (later of Megadeth's notoriety) and also featured a bassist who was not the legendary Cliff Burton. This is not an official release. It was finally released much later as a limited edition, only in cassette format (appropriately, I guess) in 2015. The existence of this album is not even known much among Metallica fans. Their three proper albums with bass hero Cliff Burton who tragically died in the band bus accident at a young age (Kill 'em All which features many of the songs over here rerecorded with the new bassist and lead guitarist, Ride the Lighting and Master of Puppets) are much better rated than this one. This does not feature Metallica lead guitarist Kirk Hammett either. And the bassist on this lineup is one Ron McGovney, who is decent, but no Cliff Burton.

So, are Metallica one of the 10 artists who will have multiple albums on this countdown? Nope. I have chosen this as their best - the blasphemy! Why? Because this works for me? I am in obvious minority here. I will try to explain my position in a few bullet points - 1) I prefer Dave Mustaine over Kirk Hammett, he is a lot more manic and technically gifted in my opinion. His riffs just seem natural. 2) Cliff Burton is obviously better than Ron McGovney but Metallica never had a production on their albums that emphasized the bass... the only songs where you really hear Cliff's greatness, are the ones which had jaw-dropping solos like (Anesthesia) Pulling Teeth and Orion. 3) Lars Ulrich, the lone Dane in an American band, though a great songwriter, was never my favorite metal drummer. In this rough demo, he somehow sounds more aggressive, mean and wild - and hence better. 4) I never dug James Hetfield's later "Are you threatening me?" vocals. In this demo, he sounds like he hasn't hit puberty yet - he is in Dave Mustaine territory of sounding like a rat who has been accidently stepped upon. And I being a weirdo, like that kind of vocals! 4) And finally, this album does not feature Metallica trying to do complex and structured progressive metal. The songs are basic and very much influenced by speed metal, punk rock and hardcore punk. I always found Metallica's progressiveness boring. Their longer songs especially from their second and third efforts, save a few of them like For Whom the Bell Tolls, Fade to Black, Master of Puppets and Orion sound like few ideas and riffs repeated and stretched across to make the sound larger than what it is. I think their rivals like "M" rivals like Megadeth, Mercyful Fate, and Metal Church were better at being progressive.

What about the album? Most of the songs sound alike. But they are so brutal and short (the whole demo clocks in under 30 minutes) and aggressive. It is fun, if you are in a destructive mood. Unlike the album preceding this, I recommend listening to this album on good headphones. You would not be able to hear the bass and drums well, even with good speakers. Maybe you can put on the album on wireless speakers and kick things around the room, punch a hole in the wall and throw things out of the window? I could have done an addendum and rated individual songs, but I don't see the point. This is not a versatile album. Like a good thrash album, this album is a steamroller. None of the songs would cross 5 points on my scale, but they are all pretty damn close to 5 which makes this album a masterpiece (unlike any of the other Metallica albums), worth the journey to that remote island. Maybe you have wrecked that escape boat inadvertently, and are really pissed and would like to let off some steam!

#753
VIJU SHAH & KALYANJI-ANANDJI
TRIDEV (1989)
1 Tridev Part 1 (3:02)
2 Tirchi Topiwale Part I (6:32)
3 Raat Bhar Jaam Se (4:27)
4 Main Teri Mohabbat Mein Part I (4:53)
5 Main Teri Mohabbat Mein Part II (1:41)
6 Gazar Ne Kiya Ishara (6:39)
7 Gali Gali Mein Phirta Hain (4:50)
8 Tridev Part 2 (3:50)
9 Oaa Oaa (0:59)
REVIEW DATE - Dec 31st, 2020

SYNOPSIS...
So, a year comes to an end - the one which will not go down in history well, courtesy President Donald Dump's antics and the coronavirus. And I end this year with a soundtrack to a fast-paced 1989 Bollywood masala action-thriller, whose plots is loaded with head spinning twists and turns, featuring uncountable number of characters. Multi-starrer, featuring three leading actors, two of them are from the mainstream industry (Sunny Doel and Jackie Shroff) and one from the non-commercial art film industry (Nazeeruddin Shah), this movie was major hit with almost all of its songs popular and played extensively on radio. Ironically, Nazeeruddin is the one who is given a flamboyant character here and chews up the screen making the other two heroes seem second and third fiddle. I am not gonna reveal the plot, but I will tell you one thing - Tridev means Three Gods or Holy Trinity! And my countdown and the site revolves around the concept of holy trinities. So, I was bound to have this album on the countdown. I don't know about other religions, but the concept of Holy Trinity in Hinduism is essentially meant to describe the three main Hindu Gods (Shiva - the destroyer who destroys the world for recreation, Brahma - the creator of the world, and Vishnu - the keeper who maintains the world). Brahma is least worshipped or not worshipped at all for various reasons one of which is a sin he commits, but probably the most important since he is the creator. And according to my analysis, Nazeeruddin and his character, who is a criminal in this movie, is Brahma. And Sunny who is a police officer who is wrongfully accused and, on the run, and who decides to destroy the bad guys, is Shiva. And Jackie Shroff's character who becomes a criminal to mix in with the bad guys, is Vishnu (and his many Earthly avatars like Parashurama, Rama, Krishna and Buddha). I went there deep, didn't I? I am an Atheist who was born Hindu and who finds Hindu mythology fascinating. That's possible, right? What are the rules for Atheism? Am I crossing the line here?

This album was sort of revolutionary because of it being entirely synth-dominated. There were disco-oriented albums before many of which involved Viju Shah as an assistant arranger, but this was hist first hand at composing and this far more electronic dance than any Bollywood soundtracks before. Mind you, this is not electronic music - aspects of Bollywood-styled cinematic classical is mixed with synthesizer riffs, synth percussion and synth bass rhythms. Electronic music lovers (especially fans of '80 house music) should give this a listen. If I were to pigeon hole this kind of music to a particular style (no other Bollywood soundtrack really sounds like this. Not even Viju Shah's latter efforts), I would say it is electronic house music mixed with '60s-styled spy thriller music. Another soundtrack by Viju which is revolutionary is Gupt (1997) which had aspects for '90s breakbeat music and trance in it, but this in my honest opinion has the better songs and the better playback singers too. This at least does not feature the nasal and annoying 90's popular singer Kumar Sanu whom I hate! Viju had a sort of a Ennio Morricone-Sergio Leonne association with director Rajiv Rai, a maestro of multi-starrer action thrillers. Rajiv made very few movies (only 7 in fact, 3 of which were hits - Tridev (1989), Mohra (1994) and Gupt (1997)) and Viju provided the soundtracks on all of them.

The movie is trashy (and at places unintentionally hilarious - especially the climactic action sequences) and pure popcorn stuff with a whole lot of sleazy cardboard character villains, three testosterone-filled heroes and three sexy scantily dressed heroines (one of whom - Sonam, the one in the center of the cover above, going on to marry the director), but whole lotta fun and pure brainless B-grade entertainment. Most of the villains, even the lead villain (Bollywood's greatest villain Amrish Puri) who lives in a cheesy looking den with waterfalls and bridges, are sleazy, over the top, mentally-incapiticated with hair-brained plans, unintentionally hilarious, and most importantly pure human trash. And the songs, all of which are memorable, follow the same trashy pattern. I would recommend you watch the video to the song Raat Bhar Jaam Se and Gali Gali Mein Phirta Hain to see the "pure gold" facial expressions of lecherous villains who are collectively ogling at the dancing heroine Sangeeta Bijlani (the one to the right on the cover), who was Miss India 1990 and in my opinion far better looking (but less talented) than the other two. In fact, the most talented and 90's icon Madhuri Dixit is the least sexy and least good looking of the three in my opinion, though she is renowned as a beauty. I am not too fond of her over-acting either, even though she is revered as a Goddess in Bollywood, even now.

Viju Shah, who is the son of Kalyanji Shah of the legendary Kalyanji-Anandji brother duo, was responsible for the songs and arrangements. For contractual purposes, Kalyanji-Anandji are credited, but it is mostly Viju the self-proclaimed "The King of Synth Sounds" who is calling the shots here. I have decided to stay non-controversial and keep Kalyanji-Anandji in my credits.

#752
KANDA BONGO MAN
ZING ZONG (1991)
1 Zing Zong (4:55)
2 Isambe (5:52)
3 Mosali (4:52)
4 Wallow (5:01)
5 Monie (4:48)
6 Yonde Love Me (4:45)
7 Yesu Christu (5:14)
8 Freres Soki (4:50)
9 Kadhi (5:17)
REVIEW DATE - Nov 29th, 2020

SYNOPSIS...
I must admit I am a closet racist. I will never admit to you that I am a racist. How would I explain that the only African album so far is from Madagascar, which is an island nation to the south of the African continent and whose people don't even look or talk that in a way that would satisfy your stereotype of Africans (you racist!)? And I did not even mention once, that Jimi Hendrix was a black man in my review of Are You Experienced. What am I... color-blind? But mostly why did it take so long for me to pop-up a proper African album? Never mind the fact that in a countdown the later you appear, the better it is for you.

It would be even more racist of me if I don't talk about this album and keep talk about myself being a racist. I despise such people. Anyways, Kanda Bongo Man (what a funny name) was a pioneer of the Kwasa Kwasa style of music and dancing which is a slight variation of the soukous music from the Congo basin and East Africa. Soukous and Kwasa Kwasa gained popularity in France (why? because many Northwest, West Central African nations and all those island nations to the South speak French). The slight variation made for a far more danceable music because it features a guitar solo at the end of each verse instead of the ending of the song. This album sounds more modern than most soukous-related albums, perhaps because it was made in the 90's whereas soukous has been around since the late-60s. This album is predictably recorded in France but with Congo Democratic Republic musicians. This album is a lot of fun - many songs sound alike but you wouldn't mind since you would be dancing. And if you wouldn't be, then please consult your doctor - you have some kind of genetic defect in you.

#751
TITI WINTERSTEIN QUINTETT
DJINEE TU KOWA ZIRO (1985)
1 Noto-Swing (2:47)
2 Amoureux (2:35)
3 Ungarisch I (4:13)
4 Milko (4:00)
5 Sinto-Nova (3:33)
6 Swing '85 (5:34)
7 Djinee Tu Kowa Ziro (4:48)
8 For Babs (2:58)
9 Ich Liebe Die Sonne, Den Mond Und Die Sterne (4:27)
10 Lulu-Valse (1:48)
11 Hunn, O Pani Naschella (5:10)
12 Unagarisch II (4:43)
REVIEW DATE - December 22nd, 2020

SYNOPSIS...
This is my second jazz album in the countdown. Didn't I say I do not like jazz that much? Well, this is not the type of jazz one typically thinks of when thinking of jazz. It is gypsy jazz (the right term being jazz manouche) which was brought into world-wide recognition by Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli back in the 1930's with their Quintette du Hot Club de France band which featured Django on lead guitar and his brother Joseph and Roger Chaput on rhythm guitar, with Grappelli on lead violin and Roger Chaput on double bass. This lineup led by German violinist (and vocalist on just the title song) Titti Winterstein follows a similar lineup with French guitarist Lulu Reinhardt (unrelated to Django) and his younger brother Giesela on guitars with Titi's cousin Ziroli also on guitar (thus having a three-guitarist lineup much like Django's ensemble) and Peter Gropp on double bass. Ziroli's brother also guests on one of the songs on guitar thus making this an affair or two families (just like the jazzy rock band Caravan with the Sinclair cousins and Hastings brothers) except for the bassist and the accordionist. Yes, this band has an accordionist Klaus Bruder who solos in tandem with Titi and the guitarists on almost all the songs, thus adding a folk element to the gypsy jazz sound and hence sounding different to Django's music. The musicians are all virtuosos and play most songs with the intensity of a steam train in full motion.

The tunes are folkish tunes and highly memorable but it is the performances that blow your mind. Had the album had more adventurous tunes, I would have ranked this album higher. Nevertheless, this is thoroughly enjoyable gypsy music with equal footing in both jazz and folk, which can make for good background music to liven up the mood as you are working on some assignment. I find that gypsy jazz and Western classical music are the best to improve your focus, perhaps due to their accademic natures . Heck, they could be the best when you are writing an album review. Usually, the violin is usually my least favorite string instrument but in the gypsy jazz (and Carnatic classical) setting, I have always loved it. Besides, on this album the violin does not hog the limelight even though the group leader is a violinist. The lead guitar is also pretty sparse and picks its moments. Just like most jazz, every instrument takes it turns (except the omnipresent double bass) to solo. Though that approach does not work for me when there is brass involved. But no brass here, thankfully. The accordion might be in fact the most important instrument here. And I just love the sound of gypsy guitar (perhaps there is some deep-rooted connection there, since gypsies a.k.a. Romani people were Indians who migrated to Europe about 1400 years ago... perhaps they carried an essence of Indian classical with them as they crossed the Middle-Eastern deserts into Europe).

#750
RUSH
THE GOLD RUSH (1980)
1 Anthem (4:26)
2 Fly By Night (3:20)
3 Bastille Day (4:39)
4 Lakeside Park (3:42)
5 2112: Overture (4:31)
6 Xanadu (11:05)
7 Closer To The Heart (2:54)
8 La Villa Strangiato: Buenos Nochas, Mein Froinds!/To Sleep, Perchance to Dream.../Strangiato Theme (3:16)
9 Freewill (5:24)
10 Tom Sawyer (4:34)
11 Red Barchetta (6:10)
12 Limelight (4:20)
REVIEW DATE - November 29th, 2020

SYNOPSIS...
Rush used to be my 3rd favorite band around the year 2000. That was when I used to listen to compilations instead of actual albums. Once I started listening to their studio efforts, I was disappointed. There were few if any which even approached the word "flawless". Rush are frequently tagged as progressive rock the way their predecessors like King Crimson, Yes, Genesis and ELP (frequently considered the big 4 of prog) were. Speaking of big fours (British Invasion, psychedelic rock, prog rock, hard rock, punk rock, thrash metal... you could do more big fours if you like), the fourth band in these so-called big four is always a league below. Why is that? Rush never belonged to any big four because they were neither proper hard rock, nor proper prog rock and they came much later by the time, the big four of hard rock (The Who, Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, and Black Sabbath) and prog rock had already faded. They seemed to embody both the best and worst aspects of hard rock like Led Zeppelin and prog rock like Yes. Though I do not love their albums to death, I still like this band very much and saw them about 5 years ago live in Houston, back when their drummer Neil Peart, was alive. I also highly respect them for introducing Yes during Rock 'N Roll induction in 2017. My favorite albums of theirs are their first effort with Neil Peart, Fly by Night (rec. 1974) and their final "prog" effort Moving Pictures (rec. 1980). This fake album covers those two albums and the albums between them.

As with my other fake album at #770, I took the liberty of taking an actual Rush album cover (my least favorite album covered here - Permanent Waves) and crudely pasting a fake album title from the classic Charlie Chaplin movie The Gold Rush, literally, by cropping the title from the movie poster. Great job - I gave myself a 0 out of 10. The best songs on this "album" are Anthem which is their best hard rock effort, Xanadu which is their best prog rock effort and Red Barchetta which is their best synth rock effort; which also represeent their three distinct eras at peak - Led Zeppelin rip-off era (their first two albums Rush and Fly by Night), the Yes and Led Zeppelin mix era (the albums A Caress of Steel, 2112, A Farewell to Kings) and original concise radio-friendly synth-dominated era (Permanent Waves and Moving Pictures).

Rush were always a tight ensemble - Neil Peart is easily among the top 5 rock drummers of all time. I am not a fan of his lyrics, however. Geddy Lee is easily in the top 10 rock bassists ever. I am not a big fan of his vocals or his synth playing, however. And Alex Lifeson is an excellent guitarist, though not the most revolutionary. He should still make top 100 in my opinion. I consider Rush to a better hard rock band than a progressive rock band (the only prog songs on this compilation are 2112, Xanadu, and La Villa Strangiato and I am including only the intro from two of those songs). Their epic songs were not always among the best, but Xanadu is an exception and easily among the top 10 prog epics ever.

PS: I could have made this a long double album. But I decided to keep it concise (unlike my long rambling review) and kept it under 60 minutes. There are few other songs from this period which could have made the cut - but I choose quality over quantity.

#749
CHARLIE POOLE WIH THE NORTH CAROLINA RAMBLERS
YOU AIN'T TALKIN' TO ME (1930)
1 Shootin' Creek (3:24)
2 Baltimore Fire (3:12)
3 Leaving Home (3:09)
4 There'll Come A Time (3:29)
5 White House Blues (3:29)
6 The Highwayman (3:18)
7 Hungry Hash House (3:23)
8 The Letter That Never Came (2:49)
9 Take A Drink On Me (3:15)
10 Husband And Wife Were Angry One Night (2:51)
11 Ramblin' Blues (3:06)
12 Took My Gal A-Walkin' (2:51)
13 Old And Only In The Way (3:28)
14 Don't Let Your Deal Go Down Blues (2:53)
15 Bill Mason (3:00)
16 Sweet Sixteen (2:54)
17 Write A Letter To My Mother (3:01)
18 If The River Were Whiskey (3:09)
19 Mother's Last Farewell Kiss (3:04)
20 Milwaukee Blues (3:17)
21 Where The Whippoowill Is Whispering Good-Night (3:09)
22 The Girl I Left In Sunny Tennessee (3:20)
23 It's Movin' Day (3:27)
24 I'm The Man That Rode The Mule 'Round The World (3:03)
25 Monkey On A String (3:07)
26 Can I Sleep In Your Barn Tonight, Mister (3:12)
27 Sunset March (2:39)
28 Good-Bye Sweet Liza Jane (3:04)
29 Good-Bye Booze (3:15)
30 You Ain't Talking To Me (2:57)
31 If I Lose, I Don't Care (3:07)
32 Budded Rose (3:03)
33 I Once Loved A Sailor (3:06)
34 My Wife Went Away And Left Me (2:55)
35 Just Keep Waiting Till The Good Time Comes (3:26)
36 Coon From Tennessee (3:11)
37 Southern Medley (3:05)
38 Sweet Sunny South (2:54)
39 He Rambled (3:01)
REVIEW DATE - Apr 26th, 2020

SYNOPSIS...
How often has an injury to the hand in early years of one's life resulted in the guitarist discovering a way of playing the stringed instrument and discovering and pioneering a signature style that influenced generations of musicians? Think... Django Reinhardt (fire), Tony Iommi (factory accident), Jerry Garcia (wood splitting accident). Well you can add Charlie Poole to that list... granted he played the banjo and died about 2 decades before the rock n' roll era.... still he developed a novel finger-picking style of banjo playing courtesy a permanent arch in his right hand caused by him stupidly losing his thumb to a bet that he could catch baseball without a glove. This kind of music is called old-time - a term invented to basically describe the oldest form of American music apart from Native American music. Sound-wise, old-time is a precursor to country and to my novice ears sounds a little more upbeat and folskier compared to the slower country and the more virtuosic bluegrass. It also uses the downstroke clawhammer style of banjo playing unlike country and bluegrass.

You would think early music would sound pretty muddy, crackling and lo-fi, but this album is an exception. The album collects most of music recorded by Mr. Poole (recorded between 1925-30). Charlie died in on May 21st 1931 (my dad's birthday... me, my dad, my son, brother-in-law and sister-in-law are all born in May) and he also died in May at a tender age of 39... a sad and a great loss. Most of the songs on the albums are covers - Charlie hardly wrote his own songs - but the songs have a modern "revivalist" take (old-time was already old back then!) and are expertly arranged with ample backup from acoustic guitar and fiddle. I am considering the songs which are recorded by his band North Carolina Ramblers for this review - ignoring the stuff with other musicians. This compilation was released in 2005 and nominated for three academy records. Of the whopping 39 songs here, the highlights are the memorable and poetically melodic (If The River Was Whiskey, Sweet Sunny South), bouncy (Shooting Creek, White House Blues, Take A Drink On Me), strangely rocking (Don't Let You Deal Go Down), virtuosic (Hungry Hash House), slow-bluesy (Baltimore Fire), fast-bluesgrassy (I'm The Man With Who Rode the Mule) and country-esque (Leaving Home). That was incredibly lame and shallow of me to neatly categorize the best songs on the album... but I am not gonna get into a song-song review of such a large compilation. And there would be no addendum either, for compilations, as a rule! I would have rated this album higher up on the list if not for it being so massive.

#748
ENNIO MORRICONE
VERGOGNA SCHIFOSI (1989)
1 Matto, Caldo, Soldi & Girotondo (3:22)
2 Guardame Negli Occhi (2:12)
3 Ninna Nanna Per Adulti (2:42)
4 Una Spiaggia A Mezzogiorno (3:40)
5 Un Altro Mare (6:35)
6 Matto, Caldo, Soldi & Girotondo (4:44)
REVIEW DATE - Dec 20th, 2020

SYNOPSIS...
Legendary Italian film music composer Ennio Morricone is one of most revered music directors of all time. His score to the all-time classic spaghetti western The Good, The Bad And The Ugly is one of the most well-respected soundtracks of all time. And there are several other great soundtracks he is well-known for, including the other two movies (A Fisftul Of Dollars, For a Few Dollars More) from the director Sergio Leones Dollars trilogy to which The Good, The Bad and The Ugly belongs to. When I looked up the rateyourmusic.com website as of today, I saw that all those three aforementioned movies, plus Ennio soundtracks from the other great Sergio Leone classic Once Upon a Time trilogy (Once Upon A Time In The West, Once Upon a Time... The Revolution and Once Upon a Time in America), Giuseppe Tornatore's Italian drama Nuovo Cinema Paradiso, and Roland Joffe's The Mission are all rated higher than this soundtrack. Another Ennio soundtrack for John Carpenter sci-fi classic The Thing is rated high but lower than this album.

This soundtrack is not as well-known as the others I have mentioned above. This obscure thriller by Mauro Severino inspired by anti-establishment and anti-bureaucracy protests of 1968 in Europe, apparently tanked at the box office and is not that well-regarded. Ironically, this obscurity is Ennio's best and most consistently enjoyable effort. It sounds nothing like those Spaghetti Westerns or the New agey (and honestly, not so great) soundtrack to Nuovo Cinema Paradiso and the The Mission, or the horror-synth (and honestly, great) soundtrack to The Thing. The music here is lounge jazz and Brazilian bosa nova mixed with baroque pop with light orchestration. It is so serene that it seems totally out of this world. Almost all the songs sound alike, but it works because it puts you in such a good mood. It is pure headphone-candy! The soundtrack was composed with the help of multi-instrumentalist composer Alessandro Alessandroni and features soothing (and child-like, sexy or scary, depending upon which way you look at it) singing by female Italian singer Edda Dell’Orso. There are a variety of non-standard Cinematic Classical instruments including wordless vocals, celeste, acoustic guitar, harpsichord, chimes and organ. They are all woven together to sound alike and complementary to each other thus creating a beautiful and dreamy psychedelic world around the listener.

#747
BERLINER PHILHARMONIKER/HERBERT VON KARAJAN (Composer: Gustav Mahler)
SYMPHONIE No. 9 (1982)
1 I Satz (28:10)
2 II Satz (16:38)
3 III Satz (12:45)
4 IV Satz (26:49)
   
REVIEW DATE - Jan 1st, 2021

SYNOPSIS...
Ah! The curse of the ninth! 9 is indeed the worst number! It has claimed 5 great composers (Beethoven, Schubert, Bruckner, Dvorak and Mahler). Mahler was in fact, so scared of the curse of the 9th, that he decided to not number or call as a symphony what was really his ninth symphony Das Lied Von Der Erde. He did finish his 10th symphony and called it his second ninth symphony. When he didn't die after his 10th symphonic work, he thought he had evaded the fate that befell on other greats before him, and began work on the 11th symphony but couldn't complete it and died on 18th May, 1911 (my birthday is May 18th too) at the age of 50 because of blood infection (he had a heart disease). Since his 9th symphonic work is a six-song composition for two singers and is not labelled as 9th and the 11th work is incomplete and not regularly performed, he got with finishing his 9th and then dying; thus, being unable to avoid the curse.

This album is a recording of Mahler's official 9th symphony. This live recording was done by Austrian conductor Herbert Von Karajan in 1982 with the Berliner Philharmoniker. Having being dissatisfied with the studio version, he recorded with the Berlin Philharmoniker in 1981, he decided to give another go. But this time it was a live recording of the performance at the Berlin Festival. Most classical music fans Karajan to be at his best when he conducted live. Karajan himself was in disbelief after his own performance. Just like how Mahler was suffering from illness which would ultimately prove fatal when he wrote this piece, Herbert was suffering from Lyme disease in 1982 when this recording was made. Perhaps his own impending demise drew Karajan to greater heights. Mahler's 9th has been described by experts as a farewell to beauty of the romantic era and the welcoming of modern classical atonality. To me it seems like both hopeless and hopeful. It has a sense of impending doom followed by celestial bliss. Perhaps Mahler was looking forward to death at this point, but still also trying to figure out a way to cheat it and delay the inevitable.

#746
FANIA ALL STARS
LIVE AT THE RED GARTER VOL.1 (1968)
1 Introduction Theme (2:44)
2 Sabor Sabor (5:20)
3 Guatacando (12:49)
4 Country Girl, City Man (2:15)
5 Mi Gusta El Son (8:17)
6 Exit Theme (5:58)
REVIEW DATE - Dec 24th, 2020

SYNOPSIS...
Finally I have got some Latino music in my countdown. This is a live jazzy salsa album featuring all the Latin American stars you could find on the planet in 1968. Though mambo, plena, Afro-Cuban jazz and other forms of latin music had entered the American consciousness as early as the early '50s, you would credit this dream line-up for fully making the various Latin dance musics, mainstream. The idea of a project featuring the top Latin musicians was conceived by Italian-American lawyer Jerry Masucci and music promoter and flautist, percussionist and bandleader Johnny Pacheco born in the Dominican Republic (who wrote most of the songs here) in 1964. This is the first live album by the Fania All Stars group. They would go to make many more successful live albums in the future and also some studio albums, but this was them at the most fiery, in my opinion. Jerry was not a musician and does not feature in this album, but Johnny plays flute here and is the band leader and composer of all the songs except the 4th song which is a short vocal song feature female singer La La (real name LaForrest Cope). There are a host of other stars many of whom had been already established as solo acts.

In all, there are a whopping 21 musicians four of them being guests. Many of them are Americans (pianists Larry Harlow and Pete Rodriguez, , trombonist Barry Rogers, trumpet players Ralph Robles and Ray Maldanado, flautist/saxophonist Bobby Rodriguez, vibraphonist and percussionist Louie Ramirez, songwriter/trombone/trumpet player Willie Colon conga player and bandleader Ray Barretto who made quite a name for himself, and vocalists Joe Bataan and LaForrest Cope). There are also many Puerto Ricans (trumpet player Bobby Valentin, trumpet and trombone player Jose Rodriguez, Ralph Marzant and vocalists Adalberto Santiago, Hector Lavoe, Ismael Miranda), with Johnny and trumpet player Bobby Quesada being the sole Dominicans and singer Monguito and percussionist/bandleader Mongo Santamaria, and percussionist Orestes Vilato (who has worked with Santana) being the lone Cubans. The guest musicians are all American - pianists Ricardo Ray and Eddie Palmieri, percussionist Jimmy Sabater and multi-instrumentalist and pioneer Tito Puente who was already a Latin legend by then.

As for the music, it is quite progressive for a record which is meant for dancing. I think salsa music works best when played live and this record proves it. The best song on the album is in fact the lengthiest song Guatacando which is lead by vibes played by Louie Ramirez. The rest of the songs hold your attention as well with the Cuban sounding jazz number Mi Gusta El Son which has some exquisite piano beinf the second best and the groovy flute-dominated Sabor Sabor being the third best song on the album. The song titled Introduction Theme is just the band tuning up and not a song and the Exit Theme is okay-ish bye-bye tune. The short song Country Girl, City Man is a hilarious pop tune with some soaring trumpets and trombone, proving the band was having some fun on stage.

#745
DAVE VON RONK AND THE RAGTIME JUG STOMPERS
RAGTIME JUG STOMPERS (1960)
1 Everybody Loves My Baby (2:53)
2 Stealin' (3:13)
3 Saint Louis Tickle (3:33)
4 Sister Kate (2:17)
5 Take It Slow And Easy (2:25)
6 Mack The Knife (2:35)
7 Diggin' My Potatoes (2:43)
8 Temptation Rag (3:09)
9 Shake That Thing (2:50)
10 K.C. Moan (3:36)
11 Georgia Camp Meeting (2:45)
12 You's A Viper (2:32)
REVIEW DATE - Dec 24th, 2020

SYNOPSIS...
Heh! this is one fun album. Light-hearted to the core - this is one album which is a masterpiece that never set out to be a masterpiece. A one-time skiffle/jug band project of folk singer/acoustic guitarist Dave Von Ronk who was very much well-respected in folk circles (especially the likes of Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell), this album does not feature a single track written by the band! This is the first all-cover album of the countdown and might quite well be the last. Though it may seem a joke, Dave says he was dead serious when he recorded it. He did surround himself with professionals who were more than competent in arranging old ragtime and blues numbers using home-made skiffle and jug band instruments like jug, washtub bass, washboard, and kazoo. The music however is not all jug band-like - there are several standard professional instruments like acoustic guitar, mandolin, banjo and resonator guitar (dobro) used here. And the arrangement themselves are intricate and well thought of... this is not the case of a band sitting near a camp-fire and strumming along.

The main musician apart from Dave on vocals and guitar, is his friend Samuel Charters, on the jug band instruments, acoustic guitar and backing vocals. Others are Danny Kalb on guitar, Barry Kornfield on banjo and guitar and Artie Rose on mandolin and dobro. The instrumental ragtime numbers (St. Louis Tickle, Temptation Rag, Georgia Camp Meeting) fare the best in my opinion, although I have no objections to Dave's hilarious old black guy-like vocals (all the band members are white) in the other blues and trad jazz songs. The covers of the originals from the 1920's and 1930's on the album are very much memorable - showing us how great the acoustic blues of the early recording era were. Not all the songs on the album sound hilarious, some of it like K.C. Moan very much sounding like standard blues rooted in musings on acoustic guitar and harmonica, but the arrangement on these songs with backing from non-blues instruments like banjo and mandolin, give them new life. The album closer You's A Wiper is a mostly a spoken-word joke song that should be disregarded as comic relief, but the I love the rest of the album - with me finding every song memorable and fun. If I were to pick favorites I would go with the album opener Everybody Loves My Baby which has a hilarious jug-led intro followed by virtuosic guitar and mandolin solos, the ragtime number Saint Louis Tickle on which the combination of guitar and mandolin make them sound like harpsichord, the almost classical sounding ragtime number Temptation Rag, the energetic and passionate Shake That Thing which should have been covered by rock bands, and finally the ragtime number Georgia Camp Meeting which sounds more bluegrass than ragtime in this setting.

#744
DOUSK
D.I.Y. (2005)
1 All About You (5:29)
2 Anagram (4:44)
3 Robot (6:18)
4 As If (5:03)
5 Florence (7:11)
6 Espero Sun (7:45)
7 Chrysalis (6:07)
8 Busmekanik (5:42)
9 Feign (2:25)
10 Sidewalk Lovin (6:38)
11 Bubbles (7:47)
12 Page Up (5:43)
13 Dongle (4:11)
14 Falling People (4:13)
REVIEW DATE - Nov 24th, 2020

SYNOPSIS...
This album got a nice bump through my swapping mania! It was originally #758. I was initially going to do an addendum for this album since this is an electronic dance album and most electronic dance albums play and sound like rock albums courtesy the consistent backbeat rhythms both genres have in common. Midway through my original review, I realized that, that approach would have been futile for this album. Though there are distinct songs on the album, they all mesh into each other as if this were a DJ mix, making the album sounding like one continuous track. Some of the hardcore electronic buffs might be annoyed by my usage of the catch-all term "electronic dance". I am merely using the term electronic dance to separate it from beatless electronic music like ambient, drone, space music and other experimental electronic music like electroacoustic, avantgarde, musique concrete, tape music etc. For those completely unaware of electronic music in general, check out this nice timeline in Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_electronic_music_genres. There are so many electronic music sub-genres out there (and they are all vastly different than each other) that it would be impossible for me to explain them all without making this review, a boring electronic music lecture.

So, what electronic dance subgenre does this album encompass? How about a bit of everything that preceded it? This is a fairly retro-styled and 90s sounding electronic dance album (hard to believe this was made in 2005) which seems to sound like a logical summary of the electronic music craze of the 1990s. Dousk, whose real name is Ioannis Douskos, is a Greek musician who is supposedly influenced by styles as diverse as psychedelia, progressive rock, disco, avant-garde and techno (progressive rock and disco? I am not selling you this album, am I?). He is most likely a nerd who holds a massive collection of record LPs from all eras and has professionally built an audiophile sound-proofed home-studio (somewhat like me, he he). Regardless, his music sounds like having aspects of all mainstream 90's electronic dance genres - trance (meant for floating in the skies), house (meant for dancing), and techno (meant for being an incorrigible "intellectual" snobby hipster).

This album might have a lot of borrowed ideas, but it a features highly original venture in mixing various disparate sounds and styles, making the whole work sound hypnotic and transcendental, rather than stolen. You need to listen to this album from beginning to end to really appreciate the sublime production on this album. Unlike many other electronic dance albums, this album is not made for all one mood, as such. Even though the songs flow into each other, they convey different moods - there are multiple styles of electronic music often, within the same song. One needs to just listen to the first song All About You to get what the album is all about. The intro of the song sounds like a leftover piece from the bleak and rainy, yet strangely enchanting Vangelis' Blade Runner soundtrack. Then, once the beats start, it gets all disco-ey like Giorgio Moroder before transitioning into combination of spacey sounds of The Orb and chill out sounds of Chicane and Paul Van Dyk. The whole song is a fascinating journey of intertwining yet distinct melodies which seem to converge together, in similar ways to how (the best of) 70's progressive rock music did. The rest of the songs have similar sky-high ambitions behind them, primarily, because Dousk seems to have composed his songs with an intention to having them being comprised of the best from all worlds. On paper, such trickery should have made the album sound contrived, but it does not, and that is the magic of this album.

#743
MARIMBA LA VOS DE LOS ALTOS
CONCIERTO DE MARIMBA (1970)
1 Ave Lira
2 Obertura No. 3
3 Scherzo
4 Fiesta Maya
5 Fiesta De Pajaros
6 Czardas
7 Tecun Uman
REVIEW DATE - December 27th, 2020
SYNOPSIS...
Not sure how I ran into this, but nevertheless this is another obscurity I am proud of. This is not lo-fi like the Burmese album above, but it sounds as pleasant as that album and may even surpass that album in terms of the overall sweetness. As you might have guessed from the title, this is an album featuring marimbas. Though it may be an African instrument that was brought into Guatemala by the slaves in the 16th century, it went through several changes and does not resemble the African marimba. By the 20th century, the Guatemalan marimba did not have any gourd resonators, having been replaced by wooden resonators. The music being played here is not African either. The sound here seems like a mix of Western classical and East Asian classical with Guatemalan folk elements. This kind of music is known as "Marimba concert" and typically involves three musicians or more playing other instruments like string bass, drums and other percussion. The percussion on this album is light and only appears at times adding a procession like beat that merely accentuates the effect of the marimba. The music here is meant for dancing. I would assume this is meant for slow dancing. It does have a certain groove for it. I love listening to this album on headphones - loud.
#742
PAUL OAKENFOLD
GOA MIX (1994)
1 Give Me Life (1:38)
2 Skin On Skin (6:16)
3 Point Zero (5:37)
4 De Niro (2:01)
5 The V.S. (4:40)
6 Tears In Rain (2:14)
7 Eugina (1:25)
8 LSD (5:52)
9 Only Love Can Break Your Heart (0:18)
10 Vampire Hunters (1:00)
11 Alcatraz (6:46)
12 Bladerunner Main Titles (1:30)
13 Floor Essence (5:49)
14 Dubcatcher (3:10)
15 Evolution (5:36)
16 Inner City Life (1:36)
17 Love Remembered (1:41)
18 Co-Incidence (2:40)
19 Stimuli (5:03)
20 Wake Up! (3:03)
21 Heretic Voices (2:09)
22 Schoneberg (7:59)
23 Hierophone (1:32)
24 Rachel's Song (1:39)
25 Sun (8:07)
26 Deliverance (7:13)
27 Reach Up! (5:29)
28 Song Of Liberation (5:25)
29 Sanvean (3:33)
30 Eternal Spirit (3:45)
31 Sugar Rush (3:42)
REVIEW DATE - December 28th, 2020

SYNOPSIS...
Before British DJ, Paul Oakenfold went mainstream in the 2000s with the hip-hop oriented pop trance and dance pop album Bunkka in 2002, he was actually a pioneering trance DJ who made some great non-commercial stuff in the '90s. Goa Mix is his earliest DJ Mix. It was made specifically for a radio program and first broadcast live and gained a cult following. Paul eventually cashed in and made few other DJ mix classics A Voyage Into Trance, Global Underground: Live in Oslo, Global Underground 007: Live in New York, and Tranceport. If you need to carry DJ Mix from to your desert island, this is all you need. Note that this is not an album featuring original material like on Bunkka; this is a DJ Mix. A DJ Mix is not a real album and essentially a collection of songs made mostly by other artists which are mixed together using a DJ Mixer and other sources like turntables, CD players etc., to make them appear as one continuous track. A DJ Mix is usually performed live but could also be recorded in studio.

This DJ Mix is unlike Oakenfold's latter efforts. From the name itself you would know it is Goa Trance. Goa Trance is a trance music subgenre which began in the beaches of Goa, India in the early '90s. Goa Trance is a more psychedelic, groovy and more dance-oriented form of trance with higher BPM (beats per minute) than any other trance subgenre or other dance music genre like house or techno. It tends to have less tempo changes than regular trance or progressive chances, thus being less complicated but more trippier and more danceable. I don't know whether I have done a good job describing it; you really have to listen to a lot of different styles of trance and electronic dance music in general, to understand how different and archaic Goa Trance is to the rest of the other styles. And this DJ Mix is one of the most unique examples of Goa Trance since it uses a variety of sample sources including three of the most well-regarded tracks from progressive electronic pioneer Vangelis' Blade Runner soundtrack (Tears In Rain, Bladerunner Main Titles, Rachel's Song), Hallucinogen's Goa trance classic LSD, two tracks (Vampire Hunters, Love Remembered) Polish cinematic classical composers Wojciech Kilar's Bram Stoker's Dracula movie, his own composition with his band Grace (Skin On Skin), his own solo composition Reach Up! rock band Scorpio Rising's Dubcatcher and darkwave band Dead Can Dance's Sanvean.

This two-hour nonstop dance compilation is quite a trip and sounds best on headphones or in a small room with surround sound. It has enough variety for a Goa trance album and will keep you guessing what is next - that is quite the rarity for trance albums.

#741
OSSIAN
KSIEGA CHMUR (1979)
1 Rozdzial I (10:00)
2 Rozdzial II (9:30)
3 Rozdzial III (5:37)
4 Rozdzial IV (2:01)
5 Rozdzial V (4:40)
   
REVIEW DATE - December 28th, 2020

SYNOPSIS...
Whoa! This from communist Poland in 1979? What do I make of this? This album is labeled called Avant-folk and progressive folk. And I have heard many Avant-folk (Comus being a fine example) and progressive folk (Roy Harper being a fine example) acts. This ain't either of them. Yes, it is primarily played with acoustic instruments and sounds unusual and at time structureless. And yes, this album is technically a single song split into five parts and played with a great deal of expertise. But none of those tags feel right. First, they seem to be partly inspired by music coming from countries as different as West Germany (Krautrock and Avantgarde), Zimbabwe (Shona mbira music) and India (Hindustani classical). Second, the album gives us the vibe of street music played by performers who are in their own world in a busy street (there is a lot of inaudible fake crowd talk and crowd chant on the album). And third, the instruments... they are just a tad unusual. There is the Korean gayageum (plucked zither) which is heavily used here. And the music is dominated by unusual percussions that at times sound like household utensils. The other instruments are also not the most normal ones - bongos, Indian instruments (tanpura, sitar and tabla), violin, mbira (African thumb piano), xylophone, flute, double bass, tuned pots from Olkusz in Poland, and bass guitar.

The members of Ossian were a backing band to Polish songwriter Marek Grechuta who was well-respected in Poland in the early '70s. Ossian consciously set out to make music inspired by other parts of the world without ever having the intentional of play sort of Western rock n' roll, blues or jazz. Group leader Jacek Ostaszewski who plays a plethora of instruments here, wanted to music which did not fall in any category as such. And he very much succeeds here. Ossian were in a world of their own. If you strongly have the urge to club them with the others, the only two acts who could be even in the same plane would be Codona and Oregon. But those two were made of jazz musicians and there are no jazz musicians here. The seven musicians here are all Poles, with one of them being a Pole of Greek origin. It seems like the band heard music from all over the world (Latin America, Southern Africa, East Asia, India) and decided to put their own spin on it. Ossian's music is thus highly original and does not seem to have direct inspiration.

This album is worth checking out for the rhythms alone. Yes, it has shades of Avantgarde but it is not at all inaccessible. It is not free-form, yet so loose. It also has a strange hypnotic quality without being explicitly psychedelic. Whenever I hear this album, I feel like these musicians were sitting in a corner of a street and improvising but keeping the whole act musical - their intention being not to scare but to leave the pedestrians spellbound. A truly remarkable album in my opinion and I honestly feel guilty putting it this low. But then, this is a masterpiece list and even the lowest of the albums are among the best you will ever listen to.

#740
LEAD BELLY
NEGRO SINFUL SONGS (1939)
1 Frankie And Albert, Part 1 (2:55)
2 Frankie And Albert, Part 2 (3:12)
3 Looky, Looky, Yonder / Black Betty / Yallow Women's Door Bells (3:06)
4 Ain't Goin' Down to the Well no Mo' / Go Down Old Hannah (3:19)
5 Poor Howard / Green Corn (3:23)
6 Fannin Street (2:49)
7 The Boll Weevil (3:09)
8 De Kalb Blues (3:05)
9 The Gallis Pole (3:09)
10 The Bourgeois Blues (3:22)
REVIEW DATE - December 29th, 2020

SYNOPSIS...
Me no like no Lead Belly with no forkin' piana. Some of the 40's recordings of the American acoustic blues legend Lead Belly feature pianos and other accompaniments provided by sideman. I don't care for any of that. Though he went on to make many other and more popular classics in the 40's, I like this simpler album from 1939 the best. It's mostly him singing with no instrumental backing at all or him on his huge 12-string guitar. And it works! Mostly because of his powerful voice. And also because of the songs! It's got The Gallis Pole which was later covered as Gallows Pole by Led Zeppelin which I think is easily among the 10 best songs Led Zeppelin ever recorded. And it also got Black Betty which was covered by some (probably) redneck band called Ram Jam which is easily among the top 10 worst covers I have ever heard. I also like The Bourgeois Blues and several of the other songs like Poor Howard, Looky Looky Yonder very much.

This album is worth checking out merely for listening to Lead Belly's incredibly powerful vocals (which were no doubt an influence to one young Mr. Robert Plant) and his mastery for the 12-string guitar. This album was recorded in a single day (April Fool's day, 1939) and that would explain how natural and live it sounds. It's quite possible that Lead Belly who was a naturally talented songwriter (and who probably had many songs at his disposal at any given time) worked out the arrangements to these songs the same day while picking this setlist out of a hat. Many of Lead Belly's songs have been covered by rock artists and folk artists and Lead Belly is a source of inspiration for Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Bob Dylan, Kurt Cobain (Nirvana) etc. There is a Wikipedia page dedicated to songs and artists who have covered his songs, in fact! And that list includes artists as diverse as Frank Sinatra, ABBA, Grateful Dead, Elvis Presley, CCR, Beach Boys and Van Morrison. I, in fact, think the naming of Led Zeppelin might have something to do (subconsciously) with Lead Belly. I wonder what made them think that "thick" Americans would pronounce a name such as Lead Zeppelin as "Leed Zeppelin" thus getting them to drop an "e" from "Lead", when Lead Belly was most likely not pronounced as "Leed Belly". Anyway, I see a lot of shades of Lead Belly in Led Zeppelin, and that is not just because they covered one of his songs.

#739
TARIKA
BIBIANGO (1994)
1 La Venada (1:48) ♕♕♕♕
2 Boquita De Cereza (2:37) ♕♕♕♕♕
3 El Pájaro Madrugador (2:43)♕♕♕♕♕
4 El Canto del Agua (3:38) ♕♕♕♕♕
5 Ananay (2:52) ♕♕♕♕♕
6 El Quebrachal (3:43)
7 Aires Del Altiplano (3:53)
8 Malkischay (2:30)♕♕♕♕♕
9 La Mariposa (2:07) ♕♕
10 Nieves Eternas (1:58) ♕♕
11 Nuca Llama (1:53) ♕♕♕♕
12 La Pastora (3:12) ♕♕♕♕♕
REVIEW DATE - Mar 18th, 2020

SYNOPSIS...
If you have heard what you think as African music and came here thinking you would hear African polyrhythmic djembe percussions and funky guitars, primarily meant for dancing, you thought wrong and you are in for a surprise. Madagascar, though in close proximity to the continent of Africa is actually an Austronesian (I bet most of you don't know such a region exists!) island nation and sounds closer to the stuff you would heard out of Hawaii, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, Tonga, Fiji, Tahiti (French Polynesia) etc. than Central or Southern Africa. There are definite African influences though making this music sounding like a fusion of African and Austronesia. Also, this band is not a folk band or a virtuoso classical band focused on one lead instrument either... they are an eclectic pop band who play a variety of instruments. In fact, their national instrument valiha (though one of the main instruments, here) is just one of many instruments. This album I feels resembles Led Zeppelin III more than anything with its focus on folk, blues and some rocking - though it is not as hard or heavy, it has the groove of Led Zeppelin II but the heart of Led Zeppelin III. This album also has the island feel which Led Zeppelin never explored (Jimmy Page or John Paul Jones never played ukulele or valiha in their Led Zeppelin recordings. It would have been interesting to hear Zeppelin at their prime try that... what if they were to vacation in Madagascar in the early 70s? If they could make it to India, they could definitely make it Madagascar!). Speaking of which, why am I making this about Led Zeppelin?

Addendum...
#738
NAANG NAANG
LE' YWEI SIN TEI MYA (1978)
1 Aue Tueng Pi Aay Mi Yu Laue (3:36)
2 Nam Khong Ue Man Mi Laue (3:37)
3 Pi Aay Nong Te Kwaa Yaw (4:27)
4 Kon Aue Nam (3:19)
5 Seng Nok Tong Lo (3:11)
6 Hu Tueng Se Pok Maa Laa (3:44)
7 Aue Pew Moe Khaaw Mayt (3:27)
8 Unknown Title (3:25)
9 Seng Taang Maue (4:24)
10 Kaang Aue Ko Sum Taang Hak (4:04)
11 Mok Hong Aw (2:04)
12 Kho Kwaam Yuen Thueng Aay Ko Haan (4:20)
13 Te Moe Nay Ko Moe Loy Loy (3:55)
14 Ngaw Loen Ngaw Laaw (3:14)
15 Yaa Aue Lek Naa Aay (2:30)
16 Unknown Title (2:37)
REVIEW DATE - November 28th, 2020

SYNOPSIS...
Originally at #755, this one has got bumped up twice now. I found this album on YouTube. This is the kind of album; us obscure-music hunters are usually proud of discovering. This is a psychedelic pop gem recorded in low-fi with so much reverberation that not just the vocals, but even the instruments sound like they were recorded underwater. This may or may not be a compilation from a female Burmese (or shall I say Myanmarese?) singer with her backing band. Little is known about her - I could barely find a picture. This sub-genre of music called Stereo, was developed in Myanmar around 1971, apparently when certain Burmese acts started covering Anglo-American pop hits in Burmese language. They eventually started writing their own songs. This album is very much Western but with an East Asian psychedelic bent, making it sound like that it was recorded straight off of an old AM radio broadcast.

You can imagine this album to be a soundtrack to that Bill Murray cult-favorite flop The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, which was set mostly in the sea. This would certainly work if that movie was set in Myanmar, instead of Italy. All of the sixteen songs have the same formula with echoey slide guitar, floating bass guitar and light drums (with some songs featuring piano). This kind of uniformity should make this album a boring chore to sit through, but somehow it doesn't. The songs are all different if you are paying attention but this is a kind of album you don't need to pay much attention to - all you would end up doing is bobbing your head to the simplistic slow grooves, like a bobble-head doll. What makes this album an uncanny masterpiece is the fact that it keeps you hooked in for an entire hour despite its "at sea" sound. You will need to get past the East Asian style of high-pitched singing, but since this is cassette-quality, the vocals shouldn't bother you. This would have been a greater masterpiece if it was recorded a decade earlier. I guess psychedelic rock reached Myanmar, a tad later. I would suggest you to treat this as a background album to listen on cheap and tiny computer speakers (with the subwoofer, obviously, turned off), while you are working on your computer on some serious assignment like - writing an album review!

#737
UNKNOWN ARTIST(S)
GOLDEN RAIN (1966)
1 Golden Rain - Gde Purana (5:50)
2 Bumblebee - I Mario (9:50)
3 The Ramayana Monkey Chant - Unknown Artist (22:08)
   
REVIEW DATE - Jan 1st, 2021

SYNOPSIS...
No, that's not the flag of Poland, who has already had an entry in the countdown. It's the flag of Indonesia (with the red and white colors flipped). To make matters worse, there is another arsehole country called Monaco which has an identical flag to Indonesia (the only difference being Indonesian flag is longer in length. Fuck me!). Indonesia, a country with a name which sounds similar to India, has music which is pretty much unrelated to Indian classical, but still might have slight resembling. Hinduism does exist in Indonesia (the island of Bali is 85% Hindu and Indonesia has about 4 million Hindus and only India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan and USA have more Hindus). This music is indeed from the island of Bali and called gamelan music. There are two other types of gamelan music (Sundanese and Javan) from Java - another island of Indonesia (the country of 17,508 islands). I wouldn't be able to tell you the difference although I will tell you that Java is a Muslim dominated island with only a few Hindus. So there has to be some differences!

Gamelan music is ceremonial music mostly percussion-based with golden-colored and decorated metallophones, drums, gongs, kettle gongs, bamboo flutes, xylophone and accompanied by chants. What separates this album from other gamelan albums is its intensity which slowly builds up until it reaches a crescendo. And that crescendo is quite powerful... putting most of heavy metal to shame. When I started this countdown, I did not know I will be reviewing this album at the beginning of the year. But I have and now I feel powerful! You have to listen to this album at least a couple of times to get the intensity and the spiritual power behind it. It is not the most accessible but it is not inaccessible either and is strangely musical in fact. It is supposed to be spiritual musical... so can't be that easy!

PS: Though there are three tracks, with two of them being credited to identified artists, this is essentially a field recording by British music collector, David Lewiston. So, I have credited this album to Unknown Artists while also crediting the album to the UK. I am going to have three categories of non-standard album artists (Unknown, Without and Various). U, V, W - now you know what a nerd I am.

#736
SUICIDE
SUICIDE (1977)
1 Ghost Rider (2:34)
2 Rocket U.S.A. (4:16)
3 Cheree (3:42)
4 Johnny (2:11)
5 Girl (4:05)
6 Frankie Teardrop (10:26)
7 Che (4:53)
REVIEW DATE - Jan 3rd, 2021

SYNOPSIS...
So, I had this idea of having this album at #732, after I had made some cruel jokes about punk rock fans at #733. And I did finish #733 before writing this album. But then as usual, I had a change of mind. It would have been a bit cheesy anway, to have a punk-oriented album right after shitting on the genre in general. So a three way swap happened. #731 is #732, #736 is #732 and this album gets bumped down from #772 to #776. This is no demotion, this is just me being flaky. I do things because I feel like it. And besides #732 and #736 are not that fair apart. There I go again, yapping on about something unrelated to the music - the whole freaking paragraph!

This album is categorized as synth-punk, though there are no real synthesizers involved in the album and this is definitely not punk rock. Punk rock was too new a genre then for these guys (The Ramones self-titled debut, mostly considered as the first punk album, came out in April 1976 and this one came out in December 1977) to be inspired by punk and then record this deviation from punk. And both the band members had already written and performed these songs for five years preceding the release of this album. And honestly I don't hear any The Ramones, The Sex Pistols or The Clash in this album. The only things this album shares in common with punk are repetition and aggression. Unlike punk the songs are not short, and in terms of format this could very well be a Led Zeppelin or a Yes album. Yes' Fragile and Led Zeppelin's Led Zeppelin IV have 9 and 8 songs on them and this only has 7. And one of them goes past 10 minutes.

If forced to categorize, I would call it an electro variant of proto-punk style pioneered by the likes The Monks, The Velvet Underground and The Stooges. But they all happened in the '60s as a reaction to psychedelic and art music. And they were all arty themselves in their own twisted and retro way. Suicide, however, may be the most twisted and most retro of them all. Except that they happened a decade later and they were doing something very unique. They were more arty their the Velvets and they were not using rock instruments. They were sort of like Krautrock but instead of using synthesizers and modern sounding instruments were using processed organs, a very much muted drum machine and synth bass that sounds nothing like what Blue Weaver did for Bee Gees. Like Krautrock they sounded dreamy but not in a spaced out way, but rather in a more fucked up nightmarish way. This is not horror synth or horror punk - two very much different genres and styles; this sounds like a soundtrack to a psychological thriller movie with some serial killer involved. It would have made a great soundtrack to the movie Taxi Driver (1976), if Travis Bickle lived in a basement with dim neon-lights, watched psychotic torture porn, masturbated incessantly to newspaper clippings of mutilated corpses, and visited seedy dance clubs and lounges, and killed a lot more people gruesomely than what the real Travis Bickle did, before of course, committing SUICIDE!

There are only two members in this band both of whom wrote the songs but one of them Alan Vega just sings. So all the sound is done is Martin Rev who primarily is using keyboards and drum machines in a harsh, primitive and minimalistic fashion. This album sounds nothing like the massively influencial proto-punk album The Velvet Underground and Nico, even though it has similar aspirations. And it sounds nothing like the art punk scene that came after (Pere Ubu, Television, Joy Division, Bauhaus etc.). This may be the least influenced and least influencial albums in the history of rock n' roll; and it may not even be rock music. It's possible that Martiv Rev and Alex Rev were like my version of Travis Bickle who lived in a basement and ventured out only at night. They might have been demented, they just did not commit those murders. In spite of its brutality, the sound on the album seems tongue n' cheek in intention, if you look at it the other way, and is also enjoyable, if you are in that mood.

#735
HERBERT DISTEL
LA STAZIONE (1987)
1 Act One (26:31)
2 Act Two (19:24)
   
REVIEW DATE - Jan 1st, 2021

SYNOPSIS...
This musique concrete (meaning manipulation of already recorded sounds to form a montage) recording is a collection of sounds collected at Milan Central railway station in Italy, layered on top of each other. This could be considered a field recording as majority of the sound was recorded in the field, but this is also a heavily manipulated experimental piece. Conceived by Swiss composer Herbert Distel who is also a painter, sculptor, photographer and filmmaker (talk about talent!), this album is apparently to homage to Italian way of life. Some of the sounds on the album are of trains slowly stopping arrival, car doors being shut, announcements at the station, whistles and people running to get their train. The sound processing has been done in such a way that the music seems continuous...almost like a drone piece... even though it is an assembled piece of work featuring disparate sounds. Some of the techniques apparently used were drastically slowing down the speed, multi-layering, echoing, reverberation and pitch modification. This is a genius of musique concrete worth checking out. And it is not unlistenable or scary like you would expect from musique concrete.

#734
PARSON SOUND
PARSON SOUND (1968)
1 Intro (0:53)
2 Tio Minuter (10:29)
3 From Tuis to Indian in Fullmoon on Testosterone (20:29)
4 India Slight Return (13:06)
5 A Glimpse Inside The Glyptotec -66 (6:01)
6 One Quiet Afternoon In The King's Garden (10:32)
7 Soc Gott Rose-Marie (13:18)
8 Skrubba (28:56)
9 Milano (7:57)
10 On How To Live (7:26)
11 Blaslaten (5:41)
REVIEW DATE - Jan 2nd, 2021

SYNOPSIS...
If there is any reason for jam band music to exist, it is this really really really obscure album from this unknown Swedish entity called Parson Sound. Their only album recorded between 1967 and 1968 was not released until 2001, long after the band ceased to exist. Rateyourmusic.com lists this album as belonging to the following styles - psychedelic rock, experimental rock, drone, heavy psych, noise rock, jam band, krautrock, raga rock, minimalism and dark ambient. This is an absolute freak out and a trip to sit through. Their style was unrelenting and they were surely on drugs. But what a trip it is! The band consisting of 7 musicians (and 3 guest musicians who play on a few tracks here) play a variety of instruments (guitar, organ, piano, flute, drums, sax, flute, cowbell, bass guitar, electric cello, drums, double bass, and electric violin), all of them to a raga-like droning effect. There is also a heavy usage of tape manipulation. The intention here seems to be to put the listener into a state of post-apocalyptic trance as opposed to Hindustani classical spiritual trance. Casual listeners will have to get past the noise to get the beauty of this band's work. Fans of early Velvet Underground, Daydream-era Sonic Youth and My Bloody Valentine might be able to digest this music better. This is a lot more extreme than those three in my opinion. They were definitely not trying to make pop music here. And in making sure that they do not fall into the clutches of the pop-swamp, they have ascended themselves to the highest thrones of cultdom adulation.

This is another of those "you have to listen to it to experience it" sort of albums. Words can't describe the insanity here Just look at the cover, that alone should describe you this 2-hour monstrosity.

#733
VARIOUS ARTISTS
AFTER THE DINOSAURS (1979)
1 20th Century Boy - T.Rex (3:39)
2 Sweet Home Alabama - Lynyrd Skynyrd (4:43)
3 Can't Get It Out Of My Head - Electric Light Orchestra (4:21)
4 I am Not In Love - 10cc (6:04)
5 It's A Long Way To The Top - AC/DC (5:01)
6 That's The Way I Like It - KC And The Sunshine Band (5:07)
7 Magic Man - Heart (5:27)
8 Bohemain Rhapsody - Queen (5:57)
9 December 1963 - Four Seasons (3:36)
10 Show Me The Way - Peter Frampton (4:42)
11 Blitzkreig Bop - Ramones (2:12)
12 Daddy Cool - Boney M (3:29)
13 More Than A Feeling - Boston (4:45)
14 You Should Be Dancing - Bee Gees (4:16)
15 Second Hand News - Fleetwood Mac (2:43)
16 White Riot - The Clash (1:58)
17 Eagle - ABBA (5:51)
18 Turn Of The Century - Yes (7:58)
19 Baby Hold On - Eddy Money (3:30
20 Neon Lights - Kraftwerk (9:03)
21 Sultans Of Swing - Dire Straits (5:47)
22 Fool In the Rain - Led Zeppelin (6:08)
23 Goodbye Stranger - Supertramp (5:50)
24 Victim Of Changes - Judas Priest (7:12)
25 Message In A Bottle - The Police (4:51)
26 She's So Cold - The Rolling Stones (4:12)
27 Bat Out Of Hell - Meat Loaf (9:52)
28 Don't Stop Till You Get Enough - Michael Jackson (6:02)
29 Let's Go - The Cars (3:33)
30 Call Me - Blondie (3:32)
31 What I like About You - The Romantics (8:27)
32 Funkytown - Lipps Inc. (7:50)
33 Another Brick In The Wall Part 2 - Pink Floyd (3:59)
REVIEW DATE - Jan 2nd, 2021

SYNOPSIS...
This fake quadruple LP compilation mostly covers the years 1975-79 (I have two songs each from 1973 and 1974) - an era hated by many cunty snobs as the worst aspects of the '70s. This is the era which had remnants of blues-based hard rock, heavy psych/early metal, psychedelic rock, progressive rock (aka prog), funk rock and glam rock, the beginning of synth pop, new wave, new wave of British heavy metal, and the beginning and end of punk and pub rock. And then there were these far more commercial successful styles like soft rock, arena rock, AOR, progressive pop, power pop and disco which everyone these days pretends to forget, but secretly loves on some level or the another. I have disregarded some of the remnant ambitious art of this period and specifically chosen songs with a pop-bent, from different angles, to illustrate the versatility of the period. I personally prefer the earlier artistic era from 1967-74, but one cannot deny the importance of this diverse pop-oriented era.

Before I go on to a detailed, in-depth and highly insightful review, here are some classy jokes about fans of the three big rock genres of this period.

Q: What's the difference between metal fans and punk fans?
A: Metal fans are jesting dickheads; punk fans are just dicks.

Q: What's the difference between Indian metal fans and Indian punk fans?
A: Indian metal fans worship Lord Shiva - the destroyer; Indian punk fans *were* destroyed by Lord Shiva... and hence don't exist anymore.

Q: What's the difference between prog fans and punk fans?
A: Prog fans get off on musical masturbation; punk fans haven't grown up yet...to figure out masturbation.

Q: What's the difference between Indian prog fans and Indian punk fans?
A: Indian prog fans think complex compositions lead to Nirvana - the concept; Indian punk fans start with Nirvana - the band, and end right there.

Q: What's the difference between metal fans and prog fans?
A: Prog fans think listening to a short song once, can cause permanent brain damage; Metal fans got short-circuited once, and now have permanent brain damage.

Q: What's the difference between Indian metal fans and Indian prog fans?
A: Indian metal fans think the balloon-holding clown from IT was funny; Indian prog fans think the balloon-knot metal-loving clowns from IIT are funny.

I can't possibly top that... That's it. I am done folks. Screw the review!

#732
JERRY GOLDSMITH/NATIONAL PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA/LIONEL NEWMAN
ALIEN (1979)
1 Main Title (3:30)
2 The Face Hugger (2:22)
3 Breakaway (7:34)
4 Acid Test (4:35)
5 The Landing (4:29)
6 The Droid (4:40)
7 The Recovery (2:44)
8 The Alien Planet (2:28)
9 The Shaft (3:57)
10 End Title (3:02)
REVIEW DATE - Jan 3rd, 2021

SYNOPSIS...
The original Alien movie from 1979 is probably my favorite sci-fi/horror movie of all time. Its sequel Aliens is also a masterpiece but of a very different kind. And it does feature music as good as this or as creepy as this. Written by American cinematic classical composer Jerry Goldsmith, and performed by the British National Philmarmonic (conductor being Lionel Newman), this is a pretty much revolutionary soundtrack. There hadn't been many avantgarde-based soundtracks before. The music on this soundtrack hardly has any romantic cues found in cinematic classical scores by major film composers of the calibre of Jerry Goldsmith.

So, this album sounds anything but "soundtracky". In fact I would not consider it the typical orchestral Hollywood fare at all. Goldsmith used an array of strange instruments like Indian conch shell, the strange wind instrument serpent which resembles a snake, and the Australian indigenous instrument didgeridoo. Some of the other instruments apart from the violins being used are flute, oboe, trumpet, xylophone, steel drums, wind machine, cricket clicker, Japanese gong and cor anglais. There are some other innovation like the Aline rattle sound most probably produced with processed didgeridoo, echoplex delay, processed harp and violins, and making hissing noise with violins by playing random high notes. It is atmospheric but also highly unsettling. And I think it made the movie better. cannot imagine watching the movie without the score. It just won't be the same. I can think of only two other movies which will not have worked without the unsettling music - the Bernard Hermann scored Alfred Hitchcock's psychological horror Psycho (1960) and the John Williams scored Steven Spielberg adventure horror Jaws (1975).

The music builds the tension throughout in this slow moving thriller. Is it listenable? Is it enjoyable? Listenable, yes? Enjoyable? It is quite dissonant, I warn you. To truly enjoy it, I would recommend listening to it in surround sound while watching some of the classic scenes in mute. It clocks in only 32 minutes, so you could condense the movie to 32 minutes and listen and watch the same time. Sounds like a lot of work but if you are a fan of the movie and the music behind it, it will be worth the effort.

#731
HALLUCINOGEN
TWISTED (1995)
1 LSD (6:45)
2 Orphic Thrench (7:25)
3 Alpha Centauri (10:16)
4 Dark Magus (7:31)
5 Shamanix (10:00)
6 Snarling Black Mabel (7:45)
7 Fluoro Neuro Sponge (6:41)
8 Solstice (17:41)
REVIEW DATE - Jan 23rd, 2021

SYNOPSIS...
English electronic musician, Simon Posford, who was recorded under a wide variety is mostly popular for his solo project Hallucinogen and group project Sphongle. This is his debut effort. And its his best as a solo act. Though the album is called Twisted, there is nothing twisted about this effort. This is pure dance music meant for dancing under the influence of drugs. It is even categorized as psychedelic trance. This is a groovy and hard form of psychedelic trance, which is dreamy and spacy melodies that takes you places. I recommend listening to this late evening on a good CD player connected to an audiophile-quality amplifier (and of course on high-end tower speakers), in a dimly lit sound-proof room with few friends who like to dance at the drop of a hat. And I would say psychedelic drugs will help you enhance the experience, if I have ever taken them. I still enjoy it very much when I am in the mood. The opening track is a classic and is featured on the Paul Oakenfold Goa Mix album which has already made an entty. This is a not a mix album and features all original material and is superior and vastly different to the Paul Oakenfold effort.

#730
VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR
77:33 (1976)
1 Afterwards (4:55)
2 White Hammer (8:15)
3 Killer (8:24)
4 House With No Door (6:17)
5 Man-Erg (10:19)
6 A Plague Of Lighthouse Keepers: Eyewitness (2:25)
7 Theme One - Live (4:02)
8 The Liquidator (5:24)
9 Tarzan (2:09)
10 The Undercover Man (7:32)
11 Arrow (9:48)
12 My Room (8:03)
REVIEW DATE - Jan 10th, 2021

SYNOPSIS...
Back in the days of my listening to greatest hits compilations (around the year 2002?), and back when Rush were my 3rd favorite band, Van Der Graaf Generator were in my top 10 and possibly even 4th. I was in a phase of discovering the progressive rock movement. Those days, VDGG were to me, an extreme version of Pink Floyd, and hence the weirdest and hence hippest band for boasting to my friends. I downloaded all the albums and liked pretty much everything from their debut Aerosol Grey Machine (1969) to Still Life (1976). But back then, I didn't know any better. And I wasn't judging albums on a masterpiece scale. And back then, I wasn't a douchy high and mighty selective critic with extremely high standards. I would have never imagined back in 2002 that I would have not a single VDGG album in my countdown. But now I don't and all I have got for them is a fake compilation.

I have heard a lot more music since 2002 for me to consider VDGG weird or hip. I don't even consider them progressive rock. If they were progressive rock, they were awful. Their talent and skill level were garage rock-level and they might be even less skilled than Pink Floyd whose "prog status" has always been in doubt. Unlike progressive rock's complex and layered arrangements, umpteen and at times baffling time signature changes, inherently complex nature with numerous phases and transitions, VDGG epics don't sound mind-blowing, sophisticated and awe-inspiring. Their instrumental passages are just mere moody accompaniments to their theatrical and operatic singer - Peter Hammill's ramblings. Most of their songs are Earthly (not abstract or philosophical like most prog rock) and their music sounds more like "dungeon-esque wailings" of someone who hasn't shaved or seen the sun in ages... and who really thinks the world is really a horrible place and takes pleasure in the state of perpetual sorrow.

In spite of the pessimistic nature of their music, the band actually was a cheerful unit and you could see them smiling at each other in the few videos of their live performances that you can find online. VDGG's music is characterized by those Hammill vocals which range from despair and exasperation to anger and disgust, the gothic medieval organs (of Hugh Banton) which sounds like a soundtrack to medieval torture and the blaring and simultaneously cacophonous and melodic saxophone and flute of David Jackson. And last but not least - the nimble drums of jazz-influenced Guy Evans, who mostly stayed in the background but could erupt like a volcano, when called for.

Another interesting aspect of this band is that they didn't have an electric guitar (the great Robert Fripp of King Crimson fame guests on Man-Erg, but I will be damned if I can claim to be able to point to where his contributions were, courtesy the blaring double saxophone riffs which sound louder than most electric guitars do) or bass guitar for most of their prime, so the only lead instruments are the organ and sax. This made for an interesting and unique sound. There were couple of bass guitarists (Keith Ellis on the first album and on the first song here) and Nic Potter (on the second and third albums. He quit mid-way to the third and is featured here on songs 2-4). Some of the songs do feature Hammill doing bits and pieces on acoustic guitar (and also piano), but he was no virtuoso and his guitar contributions are massively overshadowed by his highly impressive wide-ranged emotional singing that was apparently a big influence on Iron Maiden's operatic singer Bruce Dickinson and also a rather different sort of influence on Johnny Rotten of The Sex Pistols. So, if you want to overstate his influence, you could say Hammill invented metal and punk rock.

Back when I was a single and a student holding a whole lot of debts and had no idea of where I was heading in life, I felt lone, depressed, and suicidal and VDGG's music gave me warm company. And I would credit them with keeping me motivated. My twisted thinking probably saved me - if these smiling guys could write such pessimistic music, then a pessimistic guy like me could smile once in a while? Those were the days! These days, I find some of their stuff hilarious, over the top and melodramatic. Most of their songs which attempt "complexity of composition" fall flat on their faces, and this band attempted complexity one too many times often. So, I still enjoy them, but I can never sit through entire albums of theirs. So, I don't want to put you in the same situation. To make your life easier, I have chosen what I consider their best songs. I made it a point that I dig deep for this compilation. Two of the songs The Liquidator and Tarzan (from the compilation Time Vaults) were recorded in 1973 and 1974 when the band was effectively disbanded in the public eye (but working on Peter Hammill's solo albums together). I have also included an incredibly good live performance of their song Theme One from 1972 in Belgium. Those three songs constitute the surprise portion of this compilation. The rest of the songs are very strong and pick themselves. Their best three albums are H To He Who Am The Only One (1970), Pawn Hearts (1971) and Godbluff (1975). I have picked two songs each from those three albums. I was really, really, tempted to put the whole of their adventurous dark and brooding epic A Plague Of Lighthouse Keepers. But... I don't think it is up to my epic standards for epics. VDGG fans will really hate me for that. But that song was cobbled-up by assembling various pieces of music and unfortunately sounds like that. You see, VDGG were an incredible psychedelic goth rock band... but don't expect them to wow with epic transitions and segues to various movements of the songs like most of the premiere prog bands did. I like it when they keep it real and a bit shorter. Ambition in certain cases can be just over-ambition, especially when you are blessed with VDGG-level "dexterity". But regardless of whether they were psychedelic goth or progressive goth or progressive rock (whatever you wanna call them), they made some of the best songs you will hear from the arty '70s. And for that, they deserve a fake album very much!

And they deserve the album just for that insane scream in the song Arrow when Hammill goes "How long the time seems, how dark the shadow, How straight the eagle flies, how straight towards his arrow, How long the night is - why is this passage so narrow?, How strange my body feels, impaled upon the arrow"... stretching the word "Arrow" ("arrooooooooooooooow") to hilariously deranged effect that could easily remind one of Jeffrey Comb's Herbert West character from Re-Animator. And let's not pretend that without songs like White Hammer (just look up the lyrics) there would be Iron Maiden or any of the mythological metal bands from the '80s (some would say that is a good thing... but then again, some are assholes).

And why did I title this fake album 77:33? Add up the song lengths and see for yourself! Surprisingly, they add up to... wait hold on to your collective breaths... drum roll... 77:33 minutes. If you are not a fan, you wouldn't have noticed that I have airbrushed the album title "Godbluff" (which I used to hilariously call as "Goldbluff" for many years... talk about dedication to one of my favorite bands!) and put "77:33" instead. Welcome to the Cheesy Slacker's club! To ramp up the cheese factor, I have also placed 77:33 at #730.

#729
DIRE STRAITS
ROTTERDAM 1978 (1978)
1 Down To The Waterline (3:52)
2 Six Blade Knife (4:00)
3 Once Upon A Time In The West (5:00)
4 Lady Writer (3:21)
5 Water Of Love (5:20)
6 In The Gallery (5:27)
7 What's The Matter With You Baby (5:55)
8 Lions (5:55)
9 Sultans Of Swing (5:47)
10 Eastbound Train (5:07)
REVIEW DATE - Jan 6th, 2021

SYNOPSIS...
Dire Straits are one group who evoke polarized reactions from rock fans - they are either a genius band led by a brilliant guitarist or they are boring dad rock band with arrangements veering dangerously close to polished soft rock. And both groups are right. At their worst, Dire Straits made music which was neither edgy nor rocking, fairly on the safe side and too laid back to make an impact. And a majority of their efforts especially from the '80s are indeed boring. Honestly, their best-selling album Brothers In Arms is soft rock immersed in new-age pap topped with a thin layer of '80s keyboard cheese. Their '80s stuff is marred by '80s production (read: loud and booming yet non-intense drums sounding like a sledgehammer hitting sheet metal sitting on top of a rubber mat, non-descript bass guitar that play few notes and yawn-inducing chord-heavy synths playing simplistic string music). Heck, even their sophomore effort is boring. The only album which hits the spot for me is their self-titled debut. But I wouldn't call it a masterpiece of any sort.

As for the positives, Mark Knopfler is one of the most tasteful virtuoso rock guitarists, you will ever be listening to. His guitar tone is country music-influenced so much so that it sounds like he is playing the dobro (resonator guitar) even though he mostly used a Fender Stratocaster (famously used by Syd Barrett and Jimmy Page respectively used on Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin's debut albums). The rest of the band served mostly functioned as a backing band for his guitar playing, singing and songwriting. I have always liked their first incarnation on their first two albums better than their latter incarnations. The pick of this lineup apart from Mark, of course, is the swing jazz influenced drummer Pick Withers, who played with restrain and knew when to pick his spots. He did change his style to be more in the mix in the '80s - something which I did not like. The other two were good too but if not for those swinging drums and classy and clean guitar leads, Dire Straits would never have had any hits in the '70s and would have forever been in... dire straits!

This live performance (an FM recording of their concert in Rotterdam, Netherlands from October 1978) has excellent quality and finds the band at their most energetic. And it has most of the best tracks on the debut album and all their best tracks from their dull sophomore album. There are several soundboards of their shows from 1978 and 1979. They sound a lot more professional here than in their earlier performances from the same year. I felt Mark Knopfler sounded sleepy (on vocals) in the earlier soundboards. Maybe he was not confident of his voice? Here, he is completely awake and seems supremely confident too. You also get to hear his brother's contributions on rhythm guitar a lot better than you do on the studio albums. Though David is not a virtuoso, he complements Mark's virtuoso playing well, with his sparse strums, making his rhythm guitar sound like another bass guitar, instead of providing harmonies or dual leads. When he left in 1980, before completion of their third album, due to creative differences, I think they not only lost that chemistry, but also moved to a different bigger, complex and airy direction - a direction which brought them commercial success, but also led to accusations of them selling out. As part of the "bigger is better" approach, they even ventured into bloody progressive rock (a style opposite to Dire Straits humble pub rock roots) with their Love Over Gold album. Even though I like several songs of theirs from the '80s, even some from that ill-advised progressive rock album, I would take this version of Dire Straits any day. In that respect, Dire Straits are like Jethro Tull. I liked both of them when they played music closer to their hearts, before they went all artistic and struck gold.

For those who find the studio albums of Dire Straits tiresome or lifeless, they should give them a second chance and check this live performance out. You may still hate them, but may be a little lesser? This is not intellectually challenging music. This is simple music for pub music-loving simpletons. The major reason this works me is because the band seems to be having fun. The rhythm section of John Illsley and Pick Withers seem more involved in the jams than they did with the later shows in the '80s, when the band became more of a Mark Knopfler show. It is always a plus when your rhythm section acts like part of the band and not paid session musicians, while playing live. Dire Straits are categorized as roots rock, blues rock and pub rock. They were never pure blues or pure rootsy...there were far better and more authentic blues and roots rock acts that came before. I agree with the pub rock label. They sound like a chilled pub rock band playing to a small crowd, in a smoky bar with a smell of booze in the air, and smiling at each other. That's the Dire Straits I like.

#728
OUTBACK
DANCE THE DEVIL AWAY (1991)
1 Cuban Connections (4:18)
2 Aziz Aziz (5:02)
3 Two In The Bush (5:11)
4 Desert Rain (5:20)
5 What Can I Say (8:07)
6 Medina (6:26)
7 Dance The Devil Away (7:19)
8 Animal Life (6:11)
REVIEW DATE - Jan 9th, 2021

SYNOPSIS...
Oh! you knew. After seeing the albums so far, you would have guessed that there would be an album featuring the didgeridoo. With a cheesy name like Outback and an album called Dance The Devil Away, and that album cover you would possibly expect this to be a novelty record with some hilarious didgeridoo sounds mixed with some other non-descript and cringe-worthy modern instrumentation. But truth be told, this album is fairly democratic - all instruments are equally heavy in the mix. And the didgeridoo here, is honestly upstaged by the melody of the steel-string guitar. And there is a lot of gypsy jazz violin even though that instrument is curiously missing from the album cover.

Outback were formed by American Graham didgeridoo and melodica player Graham Wiggins and British steel-string guitar and mandolin player Martin Cradick. They were inspired by Australian aboriginal music, but also a host of other music from other parts of the world including Middle-East, India, Far East, Africa, France, Spanish, and Latin American, and possibly also American bluegrass. One would expect such a "world music" influenced album to be either serious virtuoso classical or commericial new age nonsense. But this neither of that. This is very much a unexpectably groovy, memorable and danceable album and even the folk here, is not the serious kind. Imagine using Led Zeppelin's groovy number Bron-Yr-Aur Stomp as a basis and constructing a whole album around it. If you have heard that song, you would have danced to it and wondered how Led Zeppelin were capable of that. And if you hear this album, you would dance to it and wonder who the hell are these guys. In spite of all that, all the members are virtuosic. Martin Cradick's guitar and mandolin contributions are technically so strong that it reminds me of John McLaughin's insanely complex yet musical acoustic guitar work with the Anglo-Indian group Shakti. The two other musicians on this album are Senegalese percussionist Sagar N'Gom who plays djembe, kalimba and talking drum (tama) and French fiddler Paddy LeMercier who brings in some Stephane Grappelli influences. There are some other percussion instruments like darkbuka and bendir played by Cradick. And both Wiggins and Cradick use a sampler sampling balafon, didgeridoo and a host of other percussion instruments. The Morrocan lotar and the Chinese guzheng are also most likely used here - though not in the credits.

Outback recorded couple of albums before this final effort from them. Both of those albums feature only the founders, and are minimalistic. They are good, but this is at a whole different masterpiece level and progressive with so many different influences added to the mix. I struggle to classify this album. Shall I call make up a new genre and call it dance-folk? Whatever you may call it, this is a fun album which shows the didgeridoo can rock and need not be played by an Australian. A didgeridoo-based album played by an American, with not a single Australian or Oceanian to be found? Sounds abnormal, right... everything about this album is not normal. And that's part of the charm!

#727
LAWRENCE ENGLISH
VIENTO (2010)
1 Patagonia (19:15)
2 Antartica (16:08)
   
   
REVIEW DATE - Mar 30th, 2020

SYNOPSIS...
If you have looked at the track listing you might be wondering what or where the heck is Patagonia? No, it is not that major outdoor clothing brand - it's a sparsely occupied southern region shared by Chile and Argentina which spans a million square kilometres and as of today has a population of just under couple million giving it a density of a whopping 1.9 person per square kilometre! The Australian composer and curator Lawrence English recorded this album while he was on an expedition to Antartica. On the way, he was stuck in the Argentine Patagonia due to a wind storm. Instead of being miserable, Lawrence decided to take his recording equipment and make the best of the situation. This will be the first (and probably most) difficult listening album of the countdown for you. Although it would still not pass as easy listening, the second track is the more palpable and the more palatable of the two. You may not consider this music at all - and you will be right! What makes this field recording work is the enthralling authenticity of the effort; the sounds on the album are as bone-chilling as the conditions under which they were recorded. To enjoy this album, you have to experience it - close your eyes in a dark room and transport yourself to sterile frozen lands ravaged by blizzards at -40 Fahrenheit/Celsius (yes at -40 they are equal. Look it up!) knowing that the wind chill will probably kill you if you don't have appropriate clothing - yet the hauntingly beautiful polar landscape incites you to risk it anyway. Get a good pair of headphones for this - my Sennheiser HD 600 does an adequate job.

Note: This used to be my album #773 back in March of 2020. Lately, I have had some other thoughts...

#726
SELIOS FOUSTALIERIS
STELIOS FOUSTALIERIS 1935-1955 (1955)
1 Oso Varoun Ta Sidera (11:36)
2 Ponemeni Kardia (3:15)
3 Syrto Tis Nihtas (3:23)
4 To Meraklidiko Pouli (3:27)
5 Syrtos Protos (3:24)
6 San Deis Agapis Dakria (3:19)
7 Ta Vasana Mou Herome (3:25)
8 Kontylies Milopotamitikes (3:37)
9 Vafionos Syrtos (3:27)
10 Oso Simonei O Kairos (3:22)
11 St'arahniasmeno Mnima Mou (3:14)
12 Irakleiotikos Pentozalis (3:27)
REVIEW DATE - Jan 11th, 2021

SYNOPSIS...
Stelios Foustalieris was a cretan folk musician who played the rare Turkish instrument bulgari (which has no relation to the luxury brand Bulgari stylized as Bvglari. I had one of their colognes. It smelled nice), which was also native to Crete island which is a Greek territory, far from the Greece mainland and located in the Mediterranean sea. Bulgari - a bouzouki-like instrument, also called as boulgari is closely related to the Turkish baglama or saz which is a much more popular instrument. Even the style of music Stelios practiced is pretty rare. It is called Tabachaniotika, which is song oriented and not meant for dancing. Stelios made some adjustments to the instrument and made it sound more melodic, and used it for solo performances.

This is a compilation of his work. There is not much information in the credit except that there are three other musicians on the album on vocals (Giannis Bernidakis, Giorgis Tzimakis, and Lavrentia Bernidaki). Lavrentia is female and the other two are male. Stelios composed all the songs and played the bulgari. I can hear acoustic guitar on the album. While Lavrentia only sang, the other two played instruments like bulgari, Cretan lyre and mandolin. So it is highly possible they gave some kind of instrumental output on this album. As for the music, it sounds wonderfully nostalgic. I get the feeling of listening to AM radio in All India Radio back when I was a kid. Of course, I was listening to Indian music and not Greek music. But the audio quality of this album is very much All India Radio-esque. And Stelios is one helluva player. All the songs have vocals except the album closer. I like the vocals too. Highly recommended!

#725
CLUSTER
CLUSTER (1971)
1 15:33 (15:33)
2 7:38 (7:38)
3 21:17 (21:17)
   
   
   
REVIEW DATE - Jan 23rd, 2021

SYNOPSIS...
The music on this album is not for the faint-hearted. One of the earliest experimental electronic albums, this album actually does not feature any synthesizers. Done mostly with audio generators, processed organ, cello, Hawaiian guitar, there is hardly any melody or beat here. This recording is comparable to Tangerine Dream's earliest efforts, although the music is not alike - whereas the folks from Tangerine Dream aimed for traversing through dark space while gazing at the universe, the Cluster-men seemed to be intent on taking you on a ride to an alien ship similar to the one on the 1979 space-horror classic Alien. This is not neither the most pleasant nor the most easy to sit through. Though it has various textures subtly added on top of the electronic drones, thus preventing it from being a proper drone album, you would need to approach this album with a drone angle to make any sense of it. And you would also need to be prepared for the overt dissonance of industrial sounds and uncover the beauty behind it. This kind of music is only rewarding if you have the patience. And you would need that in abundance. Regardless of whether this one gels with you, you will marvel at the fact that these guys are able to paint eerie soundscapes of a distant disturbing world with such primitive electronics.

Cluster would record one more album like this but pass over from the Berlin school of drone-oriented music to Dusseldorf school of rhythm-oriented music once they encountered the Neu! guitarist Michael Rother. And they would be more successful in terms of gaining recognition with those albums - Zuckerzeit (1974) and Sowiesoso (1976). This album however is obscure even to many Cluster fans and fans of the so called krautrock music - an experimental form of electronic rock made in Germany during the top half of the 70's. Cluster were never rock to begin with, even in their latter pop-sounding phase. And their electronics here is not the sophisticated kind like how Kraftwerk, Can and they themselves were, in the mid 70's. So, krautrock is a mislabel in my opinion. But there is no other appropriate label either for this kind of music. The music here is monolithic and stands alone. I don't think this Dieter Mobieus, Hans-Joachim Rodelius and Conrad Plank wanted to make music for humans to listen to. Perhaps "The Thing" from the 1982 movie The Thing grooved to it and found it liberating.

The movie Eraserhead is a masterpiece in spite of it being such a tough swallow. This is Eraserhead cast on to vinyl. Some masterpieces are meant to be enjoyed.

#724
GNIDROLOG
LADY LAKE (1972)
1 I Could Never Be A Soldier (11:36) ♕♕♕♕
2 Ship (6:44) ♕♕♕♕♕
3 A Dog With No Collar (2:09) ♕♕
4 Lady Lake (8:43) ♕♕♕♕
5 Same Dreams (2:49) ♕♕♕♕
6 Social Embarasssment (6:30)
REVIEW DATE - Nov 29th, 2020

SYNOPSIS...
What was more outrageous in rock music history? A psychedelic rock band without a bass guitarist (Doors), or a progressive rock band without a guitarist (ELP) or a psych-prog band without a bassist or a guitarist (Van Der Graaf Generator)? How about a progressive rock band without a keyboardist!!! That is like hard rock with no guitar! The audacity! That's Gnidrolog for ya. Yep, this is fabulous prog rock music which sounds more epic and even symphonic (at times) than most prog bands and features no organ, mellotron, or synthesizers.

This is my first real progressive rock album in the countdown. This was originally at #750, then #747 and now 20 places higher! I have pussy-footed around this (one of my favorite) sub-genre a lot (I have included Jethro Tull before they were prog and I have included only few Rush songs that could be considered prog in the fake Rush compilation. And with all the reordering, now I do have the fake compilation of Van Der Graaf Generator below this album. But I have never considered that band as a proper progressive rock band. They are more of a goth-psychedelic band with tendency to have long songs.). Now, I am going all in. Before I start, a word or 2000 about prog (aka progressive rock). What is progressive rock? And more importantly, which acts fall under prog? This has always been a million-dollar question. There is no consensus as to what constitutes prog. And even less of a consensus of which artists are progressive. I will give my definition. Progressive rock arose from the ashes of the experimental and jam-oriented psychedelic rock around the late 60s (specifically the 1966-69 period). Rock acts like Beach Boys (Pet Sounds), Beatles (Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band) and Moody Blues (Days of Future Passed) became even more adventurous and started incorporating jazz, baroque/classical/romantic period classical music, avantgarde, both Eastern and Western folk and Eastern classical into rock. The new generation acts like Pink Floyd, Jethro Tull, Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, Yes, King Crimson, and Black Sabbath, also starting heavier, more layered and more complex music. A lot of so-called hard rock or heavy metal acts from the late 60's and early 70's can and should be considered prog. There was a huge backlash around 1976 against prog rock and older hard rock, in general as faster and shorter punk rock, danceable disco, and polished and radio-friendly arena and soft rock, arose around that time, casting away the excesses of the earlier bands. Prog became a dirty word as John Paul Jones would say himself, "We always used to think that Zeppelin was a progressive rock band until it became a slightly dirty word". I define a song as progressive if it has distinct sections with various tempos and changing time signatures while also sounding as a composition and not as a wild improvisation or a straightforward jam. The sections may seque into each other smoothy or abruptly - the smoother the better, in my opinion. A progressive song need not be long. You could pack in plenty more in a 3-minute song than you could in a side-long epic.

So, who are Gnidrolog? God, what a shitty name! (I love the album cover though). It is apparently the last name of the band leaders (the brothers: Stewart Goldring - lead guitar, and Colin Goldring - vocals, rhythm guitar, brass and woodwinds) jumbled up with an extra 'o'. They could have done better! This pre-dominantly Welsh band featuring an Irishman and an Englishman remains unknown to be even the most hardcore of the prog-nerds in spite of the fact that Colin Goldring played recorders on Yes' I've Seen All Good People, which is probably the most popular prog song ever recorded. So, what type of music is this? The lead instruments are guitars, and the various brass instruments (horn, sax) and woodwinds (recorder, flute, oboe). The singer sings pretty high almost like Geddy Lee of Rush but has a better singing voice. He sounds nearly identical to Roy Hodgson of Supertramp at times. The music sounds anthemic (almost Queen-like) and the brass and horn embellishments make the instrumental sections sweet to relish. Because the songs lack keyboards and feature many recorder-led acoustic instrumental sections, which also have riffs using guitar or brass, the sound is unique which seems to draw from hard-folk (Led Zeppelin III), prog-folk (Aqualung), and prog rock (The Yes Album) without sounding like any of them. A joy to behold and I would have rated this higher if it was recorded a year earlier and also not featured that god-awful album closer. I wouldn't call it derivative though, just because it came out a tad late. Also, did I mention this is probably the brightest psychedelic-oriented albums ever recorded? Must be those recorders! How I love them! They were great on Stairway to Heaven and I've Seen All Good People too. More recorders please!

Addendum...
#723
ENERGY FIELD
REFLECTIONS OF THE FUTURE (1972)
1 At My Home (5:02)

2 Autumn (9:06)
3 Butterking (7:20)
4 Reflections Of The Future (15:47)
5 How Would You Feel (3:22)
   
REVIEW DATE - Jan 23rd, 2021

SYNOPSIS...
There were three major movements of art rock in the late '60s and early to mid '70s - progressive rock emanating mostly from the UK (and also Italy), krautrock emerging from Germany and another rather osbcure and still unknown to most of the world style called heavy psych. While the premier progressive rock get most of the attention and all the hate and the krautrock acts get all the cool points (and are darlings of hipsters) and also get all the weirdo points, the poor heavy psycher's get no recognition at all. In fact the style heavy psych is not even actually a formally recognized sub-genre. progarchives.com calls it heavy prog and wikipedia and allmusic.com call it as psychedelic rock. You would find this label only on rateyourmusic.com and boy did they get it right. Heavy psych stand for heavy psychedelia and could be leaning towards hard rock, prog rock or even the experimental krautrock. But the bottom line is heavy psych is guitar dominated based and mostly guitar dominated unlike most prog rock which is keyboard/flute/saxophone/<insert any other non-guitar instrument here>-dominated and krautrock is organ or synth-dominated. I would in fact say the three most important British band of the '70s were the progenitors of these three movements - Yes led prog rock, Pink Floyd led krautrock even though they were not even German and none other than fucking Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath lead this obscure heavy pysch style. Unfortunately, no one labels Led Zeppelin or Black Sabbath as heavy psych. This label seems to be mostly reserved for entirely unknown bands (and there were many of them) who made (in most cases) just a single album and then disappeared to oblivion. It is a great travesty that this style is still overlooked. And I am here to make things right! Like fucking hell!

So, after all that ranting you might have guessed it right. This is heavy psych. Is it your typical heavy psych? No! In fact, if you have noticed this is my third rock-oriented album in a row (which will be a rarity) and the two albums preceding this represent krautrock (Cluster) and prog rock (Gnidrolog). I purposely did that, for narrative purposes. But, all these three albums are not typical represention of the said sub-genre. Cluster's self-titled debut is not typical krautrock (no synthesizers of any kind!), Gnidrolog's Lady Lake is not typical prog rock (no fucking keyboards!) and this is not your typical heavy psych. This has a lot of heavy guitars but it has a whole lot of organs. In fact there are two organ players in the band and they constantly play together, thus making it an extremely weird organ and keyboards dominate heavy psych album. And to get you more confused some people label it as krautrock and prog rock too. I think the krautrock label is only there because these guys are Germans - it simply does not apply. The prog rock label may apply... but the music is not overly complex. And making thought-provoking artistic music doesn't seem to be their goal, anyways. They seem to just having some fun, while being semi-ambitious.

So, this is not art rock. This is a proper rock album. And an extremely creative one at that! The long songs don't feel really long and don't feel convoluted either. It is not jam band music either. It is pretty unique. I wouldn't call it instantly catchy but all songs are memorable and extremely well-created for a so-called obscure band. And in typical heavy pysch faction, this is the only album this band released when they were together, making it a collector's item. I must warn you need to get used to the vocals provided by the only non-German member in the band - the English vocalist Geoff Harrison. He sounds as if he had been chewing tobacco the whole time in the studio. Ironic, isn't it? One would have guessed a German band fronted by an Englishman would be a genius movie to make the music more palpable! If you can get past the vocals, you would love the instrumentation, especially if you are a fan of early Deep Purple or Iron Butterfly or may be even Led Zeppelin.

PS: There are various versions of this album out there. Make sure you pick the remastered one - that is the only version which is good quality.

#722
JANA WINDEREN
ENERGY FIELD (2010)
1 Aquaculture (18:00)

2 Isolation/Measurement (12:11)
3 Sense Of Latent Power (20:04)
   
   
   
REVIEW DATE - Feb 10th, 2021

SYNOPSIS...
Greenland and Norway have two of the prettiest flags in my subjective opinion. I have a separate page on flags where I talk about my top favorite 100 flags and both of them make the top 5. And I have been to Norway twice on two different trips to Europe. I love the terrain very much. Of the 13 countries I have visited so far (India, USA, Canada, UK, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Norway, Netherlands, France, Belgium, Denmark, Iceland) is my favorite in terms of natural beauty followed by Switzerland. I highly recommend a visit to Bergen (summer), Aalesund (summer) and Tromso (in winter). And I haven't even seen many of the other cool places in Norway yet. I would love to make another trip. And Greenland is probably the next country I would like to visit.

I think we all have had enough of my tourist history. Speaking of the album, this is similar in pursuit to the Lawrence English album at #722, but different in sound and approach. Lawrence English album is a pure field recording, this has sounds layered on top of each other making it an experimental recording featuring field recordings. Norwegian artist Jana Winderen is an expert in recording sounds which are typically inaudible to human ear. She uses hydrophones to record voices from the environment and animals from under water and inside glacial ice. She also performs live concerts using these sounds. She has released many albums with two others being notable The Noisiest Guys On the Planet featuring sounds made by shrimps and The Wanderer featuring sounds made by planktons, those things the blue whales seem to love. This recording features some animal noises too - from a variety of crustaceans, fish such as cod, haddock, herring and pollock, ravens and dogs. But this also features other sounds from water and the northern winds. This is primarily recorded in Greenland, but also Norway and the Barents Sea which are territorial waters of both Norway and Russia - and hence the Russian flag above.

How does this compare to the Lawrence English album, in the countdown? Apart from sounding drastically different, this album works more of an ambient recording as the sound changes gradually in the three songs. It is overall more palatable compared to the uncompromising montonous wind sounds of the Lawrence English's Viento. In short, if I were to over-generalize and put in crude layman terms, Lawrence English effort falls more on the drone side and this effort falls more on the ambient side. But make no mistake, this album is no ambient album. This is a field recording effort with no music added... it just the variation and the layering makes this an impure field recording... not that there is anything wrong with that.

#721
BLUMCHEN
HERZFREQUENZ (1996)
1 Intro (4:55)

2 Herz An Herz (3:46)
3 Rosa Wolke (5:33)
4 Komm Auf Meinen Stern (4:58)
5 Kleiner Satellit (5:18)
6 Liebe Liebe (5:04)
7 Herzen Abel Flugel (6:28)
8 Du Und Ich (5:10)
9 Odyssee In 3-D (4:52)
10 Boomerang (5:05)
11 Outro (1:58)
REVIEW DATE - Feb 17th, 2021

SYNOPSIS...
Pure good-a cheese from Germany. Just when you thought I have redeemed myself with a series of well and wisely-chosen intelligent albums, especially, after that dreadful girly-pop selection, Carly Rae Jepsen's E*MO*TION at #776, I bafflingly, come up with this Euro-dance trash. That album had at least some redeeming qualities and appealed to old folks who thought they were being hip. But what is this junk? This is straight-up ridiculous brainless dance music with a heavy Euro-centric bent which sums up what was all wrong with that electronic music in the '90s. And no one outside of Germany has heard this album. And the grown-up German men who did listen to this album, swallowed that pill of cyanide (finally!) that they had been holding in their mouth since the then 50 years of betrayal.

No, I was jesting, you, doofus. I love this album. And Electronic music was the best part of the 1990s and it was highly diverse from being experimental, inaccessible and thought-provoking to being just music meant for dancing. And this is on the other lowly rated end of the spectrum... a dance album recorded by a German girl, then only 16 - Jasmine Wagner who calls herself Blumchen for some weird reason. Is this highly rated? No. Nothing from the Eurodance genre is highly rated. In fact, everything from that realm is instantly laughed at and looked down upon. I get 0 brownie points for this. Is this thought-provoking or at least artistic like that Jepsen album? Nope. So, then what it is?

It is an insanely hardcore beats album which sounds aggressive in spite of a teenage girl singing in a silly teenage voice about silly teenage things that you and I would not spend one second caring about. And when I mean hardcore beats... it is HARDCORE. Honestly, some of the beats in here put most '80s and '90s metal acts to shame. This is Rammstein on steroids and with better electronics. The genre here is not exactly Eurodance or dance pop. They call it Happy Hardcore. So yeah, it mostly happy (and hence the flowers on the album cover) and yeah it is hardcore too with its insane 200 beats per minute rhythms which make the fastest Goa Trance anthems sound like Pink Floyd epics from the 70s. Is it memorable? Yep, but not in a hummable pop kinda way. This is not really pop music. It is sung in German, so I don't know what she is singing about (I can guess - boys, love, heartbreak, flowers, marshmallows, brutal chainsaw massacre, excessive masturbation and other standard teenage angst crap). In fact, it is good that it is in a language that I do not know - that way the lameness of it is not that apparent to me. It is not the most hummable, and not the most memorable either. This is meant for one thing... taking an Ecstasy pill and dancing maniacally like an idiot on the dancefloor and feeling really stupid about it, a day or two later.

But there are so many such proper rave albums? Why did I pick this? It's simple - this album works! The production is great with this chilled and simple approach. And the songs flow into each other and make it oddly sound like a concept dance album... concept album? bwahahahaha! Why did I need this in my collection? Especially at an age of 43, why do I listen to this stuff? Because you know, sometimes when I am not very suicidal, I am in that mood...the really bizarre and unnatural happy mood. And then I also want to say FUCK YOU to prejudiced CUNTS who think they are mature and think listening to Igor Stravinsky, Tom Waits, Iggy Popp, John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Beatles, Brian Eno, Bob Dylan and William Shatner's albums and raving about them constantly proves their fine taste in music.

#720
JAN GARBAREK-BOBO STENSEN QUARTET
WITCHI-TAI-TO (1973)
1 A.I.R (8:15)

2 Kukka (4:32)
3 Hasta Siempre (8:10)
4 Witchi-Tai-To (4:24)
5 Desireless (20:25)
   
REVIEW DATE - Feb 17th, 2021

SYNOPSIS...
Didn't I just rail about elitists in my previous review? And now I am talking elitist jazz music? And what's with another Norwegian album? I just had one at #722? Fuck you! I do what I like. I like Norway and I like both elitist music like this that revolves around improvisation and nonsensical electronic dance music like Blumchen that revolves around "who can shake their booty faster". In fact, just to piss you off, I am gonna have a lot of Norwegian albums and dance albums in this countdown. In fact, to make matters even more cringe-worthy, I am going to have a "Norwegian electronic dance" album, shortly.

Truth be told, this album by Jan Garbarek has nothing to do with the Jana Winderen album at #722, even though they share the same first name, in spite of not sharing the same sex or the same sexual preference. And though this falls under jazz, this is a uniquely accessible and for once, is likeable jazz that does not noodle for the sake of noodling. This is called ECM style jazz which was pioneered by German producer Mannfred Eicher on his ECM label. Almost all the albums that were released under the ECM label have this airy, deliberate and chilled production with band member leaving space for each other even in their most intense movements with so much clarity, that you can hear the reverberation off the wall. If you are a rock fan, ECM music is to jazz music what the song No Quarter by Led Zeppelin is to rock music. This is still intense jazz, but without an intention to mesmerize at every opportunity, just like how No Quarter is still intense rock, but without the intention to hit you over the head with its rockingness. Also, ECM style jazz is ear-candy to those who appreciate clarity. This style of music is also Western classical music-inspired and many times bridges the gap without ever sounding symphonic. It has that dual combination of romance and beauty, which can be only found in classical music. And in this case, we have Jan Garbarek's saxophone which seems to have an unintentional connection to Indian Carnatic classical music almost sounding like a Carnatic violin. It's just the way he plays it, it is so clean! And so not Coltrane! And many "pure" jazz fans hate him for the lack of cacophony on his records.

This album is mostly a covers album (perhaps that's the reason it doesn't suck? Can you remember a Garbarek album that doesn't? I am drawing a blank), but none of the covers sound like the original. Being jazz, it is improvised, but all the musicians keep it pretty... not in a girly Kenny G sort of way, and not in a lounge-jazz or smooth-jazz way either, but in a sort of "we are just warming up". Thankfully they never finish warming up and become all that jazz. I am not a big fan of brass abrasiveness, anyways. Most brass instruments are meant for Triumph - The insult dog, to poop upon, anyways. And there is only one brass instrument here and it is played by the same bloke who would go to make a fortune, making new-agey crap for slow-brained idiots, later. But then he would also collaborate with Indian and other non-Western classical musicians in the 90s; so, I am not going to shit all over the guy. I just don't think any of his latter efforts come close to the goodness of this, though. And mind you this is not all Jan Garbarek. He is joint leader with pianist Swede Bobo (what a lousy first name!) Stenson and they both bring one of their countrymen each - I forget their names - I think one of the guy's names start with "Palle Dannielson" and the other guy's name starts with "John Christienson". I can't remember how their names end. These Scandinavians have such long names. Regardless, they are all very talented. And what good is jazz without talent, anyways?

#719
EXUMA
EXUMA (1970)
1 Exuma - The Obeah Man (6:16)

2 Dambala (5:34)
3 Mama Loi Papa Loi (4:32)
4 Junkanoo (3:24)
5 Seance In The Sixth Fret (7:14)
6 You Don't Know What's Going On (3:27)
7 The Vision (8:14)
REVIEW DATE - Feb 17th, 2021

SYNOPSIS...
What kind of douchy country calls itself THE Bahamas? The fuck! Any country which calls itself "The something" should be shot. The India, The USA... how silly that sounds! Actually, "The United States" is a common way of addressing America. So, I take that back. I have been to The Bahamas; so, that makes my earlier assertion that I visited 13 countries a lie. How could I forget my cruise to The Bahamas! That's because that has been the only time I have been on a cruise and boy, it sucked. What kind of losers are on a cruise? Stuck in a boat for multiple days with POS food with fat out of shape losers in their speedos... and with family! Fuck that! I am not doing a cruise ever again. And Bahamas sucked. Well, not really. But the whole trip was so exhausting that I didn't enjoy my trip to the island nation. The only fun thing I had at The Bahamas was witnessing a junkanoo dance at the end of my trip.

And this album is as freaky as a junkanoo dance. It even has a track called Junkanoo. If you can get past the fact that the singer and songwriter sounds like he has his throat slit across internally by a Junkanoo horn, you will enjoy it. The songwriting is awesome and the freakiness of the arrangement with the strange tribal percussion and raw production will keep you at the edge of the seat. This album is highly rated on rateyourmusic.com and that's not the reason, I have it on this countdown. That's the reason, I have heard this album. This is one album which would have been forever lost in the Bahamian woods if not for the Internet.

#718
SPHONGLE
TALES OF THE INEXPRESSIBLE (2001)
1 Dorset Perception (8:12)

2 Star Sphongled Banner (8:23)
3 A New Way To Say Hooray! (8:32)
4 Room 23 (5:05)
5 My Head Feels Like A Frisbee (8:53)
6 Sphongleyes (8:56)
7 Once Upon A Sea Of Blissful Awareness (7:31)
8 Flute Fruit (2:09)
REVIEW DATE - Feb 17th, 2021

SYNOPSIS...
This is my second Simon Posford album. The other entry was his Twisted album he recorded as Hallucinogen. This is not a solo project though. This is with his Sphongle band where he shared songwriting duties with Aussie weirdo Raja Ram (that's an Indian name and he is no Indian, in fact he is not even brown... the fucker!) who plays a silver flute and is obviously influenced by Indian music. And since Simon Posford is one of the Goa Trance pioneers, this has a strange Indian connection even though is only peripherally Indian. Interestingly both the guys are 21 years apart - Raja Ram being born in 1940 and Simon Posford being born in 1971, a couple year later to the album In Blissful Company, the debut of Raja Ram's English psychedelic rag rock band Quintessence. A strange duo. But they seem to have found musical harmony in each other.

The music in here is neither fast Goa Trance of Hallucinogen, nor the experimental psychedelic raga rock of Quintessence. This is called as psybient which is I guess a short form for psychedelic ambient. This is not dance music, this is sort of pseudo-spiritual music made for being in the heavens while smoking some ganja. Though electronic, it was enough organic instrumentation with acoustic guitar, cello, acoustic bass, flute and electric guitar. This music may appeal to rock fans, if they can get past the electronic music ideals of repetitional transcendence.

#717
VARIOUS ARTISTS
HITS OF AMALA (1990)
1 Vaa Vennila (3:20)

2 Vaa Vaa Vaa Kanna Vaa (5:53)
3 Kannukul Nooru Nilavu (5:14)
4 Putham Pudhu Olai Varum (4:55)
5 Ninnukori Varnam (4:37)
6 Roja Poo Aadivanthathu (4:27)
7 Thoongatha Vizhighal Rendu (4:41)
8 Valiosai (4:33)
9 Oh Kadhal Ennai (4:12)
10 Selai Kattum (4:36)
11 Maanin Iru Kangal (4:27)
12 Suriya Thagangal (4:15)
13 Poongatru On Per Sollu (4:35)
14 Kalyana Then Nila (4:38)
15 Oru Raja Vanthanam (4:31)
REVIEW DATE - Feb 17th, 2021

SYNOPSIS...
Fake album #74928617. Who's that girl on that cover? Who is Amala? And why do I have to do this? I don't need to do this except that she is my crush #2566543. She is not a singer. She is a Tamil (though not a Tamilian) actress and she retired from the film industry after marrying, in 1992, when she was just 25. In fact, she barely acted in the 1990s, so you could say she was more or less done by 1989. Was she a good actress? Yes and no. She acted in few films some of it were major hits and she did get Filmfare Award for Best actress for a Malayalam movie Ulladakam in 1991 in which she played a mentally-disturbed patient who causes grave damage to the hero. She acted very well in it, of course, but that was her only real challenging role. She was too much of a pretty doll to get challenging roles, though she had potential. Though she got the award for that movie, she has acted in better movies, in fact, and gave commanding performances in less challenging roles. Two of her movies Pusphaka Vimana (a silent movie made by a Kannadiga director and released as a Kannada, Telugu. Tamil, Malayalam and Hindi movie with different titles) and legendary director Bharathiraja's Tamil movie Vedham Puditthu are two of the best movies made in India and would feature in my top 100 Indian movies of all-time list for sure. She also acted in a Telugu movie Siva remade in Hindi as Shiva (with her future husband Nagarjuna) which has gone on to gain cult status. And since she was a top heroine, she acted with all the top stars, directors and most importantly was picturized in songs made by the best music directors.

This compilation features music made by legendary Illayaraja, and other music directors like Devendran, Hamsalekha, and Sankar Ganesh. I haven't included songs from any of the few Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam and Hindi movies she has acted in - thus making this compilation exclusively, Tamil. And since Amala acted in very few Tamil movies (less than 30, which may not be a bad count considering she acted in Tamil movies only from 1986-1991), this compilation features multiple songs from some movies. Oddly, in spite of her being in the industry for such a short time, a great number of memorable classic songs were filmed with her. That may be because Illayaraja was in his prime in the mid to late 80s. In fact, all but five of the songs of this compilation belong to him. So, in a way, I sneakily sneaked another Illayaraja album in. We are bound to have another proper Illayaraja movie soundtrack here for sure.

PS: Not many fans are even aware that Amala is Anglo-Indian. What is Anglo-Indian? She is half-Indian. Her mom is from Ireland and is predictably white. And her dad is a Bengali Naval officer. Not much is known about him at all. Though essentially Bengali, she doesn't know Bengali that well. She grew up with her mom in Chennai, essentially as a Tamilian and studied Bachelor of Fine Arts in Kalakshetra, Chennai learning the Indian classical dance - Bharath Natyam. She has given several dance performances world-wide. She got pulled into acting, at the age of 18, when a well-known director approached her mother and told her that she will be acting in a movie which requires a lot of Bharath Natyam dancing. It was supposed to be a one-off project for her, since she was just a kid... but then it became a hit, making her an overnight star. And the rest is history. I actually hardly watched Tamil movies growing up and she is not well-known in Bollywood at all. And only recently like few years ago, I started watching her movies. I saw her with superstar Kamal Hasan in Pushpaka Vimana about 3 years ago, and was mesmerized. In fact, I hadn't even heard of her until I moved to the US. I only came to know about her after hanging out with my Tamil student gang in the US, in the early 2000s - a time when she was long gone from the film industry and forgotten.

#716
AKTUALA
LA TERRA (1974)
1 Mina (7:54)

2 Mud (7:38)
3 Sar (6:16)
4 La Terra (10:33)
   
   
REVIEW DATE - Feb 19th, 2021

SYNOPSIS...
Progarchives lists this as prog folk. Allmusic describes this as world music. Discogs calls it jazz, folk rock, fusion. Rateyourmusic calls it prog folk and avant-folk. Wikipedia says it could be any one of world music, progressive rock, psychedelia or avantgarde. So which one is it? Progressive rock? WTF! There is no rock here, let alone the music being complex prog. This is not jazz or folk either. They are all wrong! This is prehistoric music as conceived by the brains of Italian multi-instrumentalist, researcher and paleorganologist (according to wiki), Walter Maioli. Whats a paleorganologist? Gimme a minute! Let me google. No, he did not have pale organs... I thought he was white! Fucking wikipedia made up that word. There is no such word. From my educated guess, it is somebody who studies ancient instruments. And that is what Walter Maoli did with this band and his later career. Look at the number of instruments used here... I will list... hold my coffee... Spanish Guitar, Balalaika, Harp, Tambora, Bells. Arabic Oboe, Ney, Harmonica, Bass Harmonica, Jew's Harp, Flute, Wooden Flute, Bass Flute, Reeds, Whistles, Soprano Sax, Tabla, Snake Drums, Moroccan Bongos, Xylophone, Cowbells, Bass Harmonica, Gong, Whistles, Musical Bow and Tamboura.

How do I describe the music here? The key is the word "prehistoric" here. Considering that prehistoric music was not written on paper by the prehistorians, it is quite an achievement to guess what music they would have made. But Walter Maioli is a genius. Only he and his friends could do it. To paint a picture of this, imagine yourself sitting on a hill and gazing at the sun setting far in the horizon under the mountains, and imagine yourself with few bearded friends wearing cardigans and torn jeans, with no belts of course, exposing a great deal of chest hair and smoking ganja and other assortments around a camp fire. And they brought a plethora of instruments they have hunted/dug out from various parts of the world... and they decide to jam... but of course we are all doing the same drugs... so we are all perfectly in sync... this is no wild avantgarde jamming, my boy... this is musical harmony! And we all speak the same Italian language except the Dutch harpist (Marjon Klok) and the Indian percussionist (Trilok Gurthu) who would soon have to leave because he overstayed his visa. But we don't really speak, do we? We communicate through eye guestures and smiles... the world is revolving around us and we are the world... Well... that was enough :)

#715
MADALISTO BAND
WASALALA (2019)
1 Vina Vina Malawi (4:22)

2 Naphiri (5:39)
3 Mita (5:52)
4 Chikondi Cholawa (5:09)
5 Nambewe (4:48)
6 Wasalala (5:32)
7 Moyo Wa Lelo (5:13)
8 Chiankulaka (5:11)
REVIEW DATE - Feb 19th, 2021

SYNOPSIS...
One of the good things I did was delay doing this countdown. This album is from 2019. And I would have surely missed this great find, if I had did this a few years earlier. This is a nice groovy little effort from a amateurish Malawian duo. Malawi... did you even know such a country exists? Its a small little landlocked country in southeastern Africa. And is one of the least developed and poorest countries on Earth. Does that mean the people there are not happy? If you listen to this album you wouldn't have guess this was made by men who have led such difficult lives. What a joy this album is!

This is a stripped-down album with just three instruments and vocals. The duo of Yogu Maligwa and Yosefe Kalikeni couldn't really afford to buy instruments; so, they made their own. Yobu made a one-string slide bass and called it Babatoni and Yosefe made a cowskin drum and a 4 string guitar for himself. And they didn't have to make those divine voices that have the ability to harmonies prettier than those of The Everly Brothers. The mood here could be described as an acoustic duo sitting on a stool and playing in some shithole cafe like Potbelly Sandwich with few onlookers. But make no mistake, this is not American folk. This being African, you cannot just sit there and have your sandwich and soup. You will be compelled to dance a jig. And this is of course sung in whichever of the 100 Malawian languages that is not English.

What really makes the songs work, apart from them being memorable, and featuring some neat solos, are the vocals and that insane bass which has an oriental, almost Indian tamboura like echoey and symphatetic multi-string drone even though the bass here is just a single-string washtub bass. I wish I could get hold of those loely instruments. I can't play any instrument for shit (my struggles with simple songs on piano are legendary) though. I better just listen and shut up!

PS: These guys have created quite a ruckus in Europe and are popular these days. So no longer amateur, I guess.

#714
THE BEATLES
ALL YOU NEED IS FAB (1969)
1 Love Me Do (2:22)
2 Please Please Me (2:00)
3 Anna (2:54)
4 Twist And Shout (2:32)
5 I Saw Her Standing There (2:55)
6 Misery (1:47)
7 From Me To You (1:56)
8 She Loves You (2:18)
9 Don't Bother Me (2:29)
10 I Want To Hold Your Hand (2:24)
11 Can't Buy Me Love (2:11)
12 And I Love Her (2:32)
13 A Hard Day's Night (2:32)
14 Words Of Love (2:02)
15 I Feel Fine (2:25)
16 Ticket To Ride (3:09)
17 The Night Before (2:33)
18 You Got To Hide Your Love Away (2:11)
19 Help! (2:18)
20 I've Just Seen A Face (2:07)
21 I'm Down (2:33)
22 Yesterday (2:03)
23 Day Tripper (2:50)
24 Norwegian Wood (2:44)
25 Nowhere Man (2:44)
26 In My Life (2:28)
27 We Can Work It Out (2:50)
28 Michelle (2:40)
29 I'm Looking Through You (2:27)
30 Paperback Writer (2:18)
31 Got To Get You Into My Life (2:35)
32 Dr. Robert (2:15)
33 Yellow Submarine (2:39)
34 Eleanor Rigby (2:08)
35 For No One (2:03)
36 When I'm Sixty-Four (2:37)
37 Strawberry Field Forever (4:07)
38 Penny Lane (3:03)
39 Fixing A Hole (2:36)
40 A Day In The Life (5:35)
41 Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds (3:28)
42 Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1:59)
43 She's Leaving Home (3:46)
44 Lovely Rita (2:42)
46 With A Little Help From My Friends (2:46)
46 Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite (2:37)
47 Baby, You Are A Rich Man (3:03)
48 All You Need Is Love (3:57)
49 I Am A Walrus (4:33)
50 Hello Goodbye (3:27)
51 Magical Mystery Tour (2:51)
52 Lady Madonna (2:16)
53 The Inner Light (2:38)
54 Hey Bulldog (3:09)
55 Black Bird (2:19)
56 Revolution (3:21)
57 Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da (3:07)
58 Don't Pass Me By (3:51)
59 Good Night (3:11)
60 Hey Jude (7:11)
61 Dear Prudence (3:56)
62 While My Guitar Gently Weeps (4:46)
63 The Continuing Story Of Bungalow Bill (3:18)
64 Get Back (3:14)
65 Octopus's Garden (2:48)
66 Come Together (4:19)
67 I Want You, She's So Heavy (7:47)
68 Something (2:59)
69 Golden Slumbers (1:31)
70 Carry That Weight (1:36)
71 The End (2:20)
72 Here Comes The Sun (3:06)
73 Across The Universe (2:39)
REVIEW DATE - Feb 21st, 2021

SYNOPSIS...
This is gonna be a long honest review to a completely fake album. So, I am going to format this in a series of FAQs (or as I call/pronounce it "a series of fucks").

Could you please explain the band, Sire?
Collectively known as the Fab Four (or hilariously called the Fag Four, especially by fat unshaven, never-showered death metal fans), The Beatles were the greatest rock band ever... and that is not even for dispute. They sold a shit ton, even more than Elvis, and are the bestselling and most popular rock 'n roll artists ever. Pardon me for that cruel insult; no one ever called them The Fag Four, I made up that shit on my own.... but now that I have said it, I can imagine some Beatle-hater misappropriating that from me. The Beatles didn't last long compared to a lot of other great bands; yet were highly prolific and recorded many songs... in fact 227 of them recorded over a 7 years period between 1963-69. I would not count 1962 (just two singles and their B-sides) and 1970 (they had effectively broken up on 18th August 1969 while fittingly recording The End). 227 songs over a 7-year period? wow! And I counted them all... one by one! No, I didn't - I googled it.

The Beatles weren't always the fab four. They had two band members prior to being the fab four, and were a fab five with original drummer Pete Best who was chucked out of the band and replaced by Ringo Pornstarr, for being the best-looking (lame pun intended), refusing to wear that silly mop-top, getting the most girls, and also having the largest wang (yes, their wang sizes are well-documented just like how everything about them is), and original bassist Stu Sutcliffe, who couldn't play bass for shit, but was a helluva good painter and was also, unfortunately, the first of the three Beatle members to be effectively murdered (later they "offed" guitarist-turned-bassist Paul McCartney and replaced him with an evil impostor who liked to wear funny shiny suits and compel others to do so, and who could actually play the bass very well and also write better songs than the real Paul, and further later, John Lennon was gunned down by that dick-ish loony cunt, in front of his own family. I won't even mention the killer's name. Did I mention what a cunt he was? It's amazing he never got the chair while many of us black folks get the chair for smoking weed.

All the four of the Fab four could write and sing (my favorite singer being deadpan Ringo and least favorite being constipated Georgie boy), but it was John Lennon and Paul McCartney who wrote and also sung the most songs. I am not a big fan of Lennon's voice and neither was he, but McCartney had a nice voice... but none of them could hit the octaves like Freddie Mercury and none of them could sing high like Robert Plant or Jon Anderson or sing that cool falsetto (*wink wink*) like Barry Gibb either. And none of them were great instrumentalists either (especially George Harrison who was supposedly, a nice guy but definitely no guitar virtuoso), except imposter Paul who played some mean bass on the Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album and also later.

Could you please describe their songwriting, Sire?
Let's play a game. I will blindfold you. And you get to feed by picking from two different piles of goodies from your left hand and right hand - and you are free to eat in which ever order you like - the only condition being you need to make a small fist in one hand thus grabbing few of the items from one group, and a larger fist on the other hand. And I will not give you any hints.

For McCartney, I am lining up an assortment of flavored gummies. One pile has sweet sugary worthless shit and the other pile has medicinal gummies with Zinc, Vitamins, Proteins etc., that are good for you. The medicinal ones are still sweet, but may leave an after-taste that you may not like. For Lennon, I am lining up chewable tablets that you may swallow as they don't taste good. One pile will have cod-liver oil tablets, vitamin-D tablets and other supplements and the other pile has a bunch of contradictory medication that may not kill you but will give some physical trouble - antacids, stool softeners, laxatives, cough drops, Ambien etc. For Harrison, I give you candies. The first pile has premium Swiss, Belgium and other European candies and they came in extra dark, dark, milk and white, and the other pile is low-quality and honestly shit-tasting American garbage like Snickers, Reese's, Peanut Butter, Mars Bar etc. For Starr, there is just one pile and it is all marshmallows. You can't eat much of that, unless you are a kid (speaking of which, why do grown-ups eat that?). Choose and pick at your own risk.

Could you please describe their sound, Sire?
Though they lasted only seven proper years, there was a sea of change in that period and they went through a variety of styles - in fact they might be the most diverse and eclectic band ever (and often to their own detriment). They were initially a beat group until 1964, then they got involved with Dylan style country and folk, and jangle pop around 1964-65, then they got involved a bit into Ravi Shankar-styled Indian classical, chamber pop and other psychedelic experimentation between 1965-67, and then later decided in 1968-69 to cut down on the psychedelic histrionics a bit, and just throw everything but the kitchen sink, while essentially recording solo songs as Beatles (and that's because they really started really hating each other at this point). Though not progressive rock, they were the group who progressed the most in their career. Credit to them for constantly mutating into something new and pioneering a host of styles.

Could you please explain why you did this fake compilation, Sire?
Though I have a whopping 73 songs on this compilation clocking in exactly 3:33:33 hours (see, what a nerd I am?), effectively making it a quintuple LP, count me as "not a fan". I am a fan enough to like 73 of their songs, but not fan enough to worship them. And I could not find a single album that I like from beginning to end. The one which in my humble opinion comes close to being a masterpiece is Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, from which I have included 9 of the 13 songs. I find it hilarious that AllMusic gives everyone of their proper UK studio albums five stars. I am not going to get into album-by-album analysis as that would make the review even longer... and boring... and who the hell am I to rate their albums? But to give you a little bit more idea, this is how I categorize them.

Best - Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, Abbey Road
Bit underrated - Please Please Me
Bit more underrated - Help!
Bit overrated - Rubber Soul, Revolver
Bit more overrated - A Hard Day's Night, The White Album
Not real albums at all - Magical Mystery Tour, Yellow Submarine
Worst - With The Beatles, Beatles For Sale, Let It Be

Could you please explain which songs you like the most, Sire?
If I am forced to pick 10 songs out of the 73 here, I would choose these songs recorded between 1965-69 (their mature period) - You Got To Hide Your Love Away, Ticket To Ride, I'm Down, Norwegian Wood, In My Life, Paperback Writer, A Day In The Life, All You Need Is Love, Get Back and Come Together.

Could you please explain why this album is so low, Sire?
Let me weasel my way out of this. I never intended this countdown to determine the greatest or best music artists. Nor is this a rock countdown discussing rock music history! And besides numbers are numbers... what is the difference between 714th and 1st anyway? Also, I have an explanation for putting this at 714 - the number 7 represents the Beatles being holy (everything about them was noble, All You Need is Love et al), 1 is the Beatles being always numero uno, and 4 because they are Fab 4, get it? Now, scoot!

Could you please reveal that if The Beatles are not one of your 12 artists to have multiple albums on this countdown, then who are, Sire?
*blank evil stare*

Could you please us why you HATE the Beatles so much, Sire?
Troll alert! Fuck off now, please! Fuck off!

#713
VARIOUS ARTISTS
KRAUT PSYCHLES (1973)
1 Light: Look At Your Son - Ash Ra Tempel (6:20)

2 I'm So Green - Can (3:06)
3 Plas - Cluster (6:00)
4 Giggy Smile - Faust (7:45)
5 Kling Klang - Kraftwerk (17:36)
6 Hallogallo - Neu! (10:07)
7 Vuh - Popol Vuh (19:51)
8 Atem - Tangerine Dream (20:27)
REVIEW DATE - Feb 21st, 2021

SYNOPSIS...
My second review of the day... and also my second fake album. Don't worry, we are still in the 700s, there won't be too many of these. I have compiled songs from what I consider as the eight most essential krautrock bands. What is krautrock? It's an experimental rock movement which was developed in Germany around 1968 with an idea which was in opposition to the Anglo-Saxon ideas of improvisation and complexity. In a way, krautrock is a reaction to progressive rock, and opposes it maximalism ideas, even though they were both children of '60s psychedelic rock. One could even say progressive rock and krautrock are polar opposites though many consider krautrock as a subgenre of prog rock. And krautrock is the only kind of prog rock, hipster elitist can handle. There is also this laughable urge among hipsters and prog rock hating professional "knobby" critics to club krautrock with protopunk. Of the eight acts here, only Neu! has any relation to punk rock and that is because of Side 2 of their third and final album alone.

Krautrockers had minimalism in mind like the protopunkers. But they were a different beast. They weren't following garage rock ideals and inserting experimentation to it. They were essentially taking minimalism, hypnosis, repetition, psychedelia and avantgarde, and layering electronics on top of it making something very unique and were also blatantly opposed to rock and pop ideals of the American and British scene. They were deconstructing rock... that is not what punk is about... punk is about looking back to rock n roll basics. Krautrock was uniquely a German phenomenon, and hence the silly krautrock label. Although there were certain acts in the UK like early Pink Floyd and early Hawkwind who could be considered to be loosely associated with the genre, and if you would like to stretch your imagination you could include the American act, Velvet Underground for their debut as early associates, this was totally a German thing. Krautrock or Experimental electronic rock as I would call, cannot be really described; and only experienced. You can get a nice introduction to krautrock from progarchives if you click on this link. I nicked the image from the same web page and made it my album cover. This time I didn't even bother tinkering with it... and adding at least the album title... lazy me!

The most well-recognized bands of the eight chosen ones here are Can, Neu!, Faust, Tangerine Dream and Kraftwerk. Kraftwerk went on to a successful electro-pop act by the mid-70s and are probably the only krautrock-associated band with any kind of commercial success. The chosen epic for Kraftwerk is from their second album, which was a commercial dud and they would get success until their fourth album. I consider Kraftwerk to be the worst of the seven acts here. Popol Vuh were also decently popular but for very different reasons and really got attention only when they changed course into acoustic new age by their third album. The chosen song here is from their second album. And Popol Vuh is the second worst krautrock act here... haha. And Cluster also changed course with their third album in 1974 moving more into electronic ambient pop territory, though they were not as successful as Kraftwerk and Popol Vuh. Ditto with Tangerine Dream, they went more electronic with Phaedra in 1974 and that found them more success. None of Kraftwerk, Tangerine Dream, Cluster and Popol Vuh were pure krautrock to begin with anyway. So, if you are looking for bona-fide "krautrock undergroundness", then Ash Ra Tempel, Can, Faust and Neu! are your best bets. Basically, the heydays for krautrock were between 1971 and 1973. From 1974 onwards, these acts either declined or chose a new path to keep themselves in the reckoning.

PS: There were many other great German acts in the early 70s who were heavy psych, psychedelic rock, jazz-rock and progressive folk. They are frequently mis-labeled as krautrock; a fact which annoys me to no end. These people got to do some research before pulling everyone into the same umbrella! I also left out Amon Duul II. They are considered a major act but they are in my opinion closer to heavy psych and psychedelic rock than krautrock, and the most British/American sounding of the lot. Besides, I wanted to keep this album short - this compilation clocks in around 90 minutes and makes a fine double LP and that is about the amount of krautrock you can take in one sitting.

#712
THE BEIJING INSTRUMENTAL ENSEMBLE
ANCIENT MUSIC FROM THE CHINESE DYNASTIES (2001)
1 Moonlight Dancing Song (8:17)

2 The Moon Over Wall Gate (6:33)
3 The Moon In The Heavens (12:16)
4 Parting At Yang Guan (5:31)
5 Flowers Over The Spring Moonlight River (9:54)
6 At Dusk With The Night Fishermen (7:55)
7 The Butterfly Lovers (13:56)
8 Atem - Tangerine Dream (20:27)
REVIEW DATE - Feb 22nd, 2021

SYNOPSIS...
Grade A courtesan music. Grade A massage parlour music. Sorry, I don't mean to insult the Chinese. This is so soothing and beautiful in spite of a high degree of virtuosity of the performances - the primary reason being heavy use of yangqin (Chinese dulcimer) and zheng (Chinese zither). There is also presence of erhu (a two-stringed fiddle) and pipa (a pear-shaped lute). And there is some percussion too (chimes, gongs) and drums (most likely the dagu which is played with two sticks). This is supposed to music from ancient China... the good ol' days. I guess the ancient Chinese were scholarly and gentle folks who loved to compose music which were designed to the sooth the senses and awaken their inner spirits, while they were not brutally murdering each other, in battle. Besides, the Chinese countryside is beautiful and this music captures the aesthetic aspects of it. This music would have made a great soundtrack to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, the only real reference most Westerners have, when it comes to the traditions and cultures of ancient China.

It's amazing that China is a neighbor of India and both have a great history of civilization, but Chinese classical has little in common with Indian classical, though they are both highly spiritual. In crude superficial terms, I would say Chinese Classical is about creating an atmosphere which is meant to be enjoyed by a large audience in complete silence, whereas Indian classical is about the performer creating something powerful and spiritual for themselves. When you perform a raga, you are performing it for your own spiritual awakening, it is almost meditational in nature; whereas when you are performing Chinese Classical, your intention is to awaken the spirits of the audience.

#711
JOHN FAHEY
FARE FORWARD VOYAGERS (1973)
1 Where The Fire And Rose Are One (13:55)
2 Thus Krishna On The Battlefield (6:36)
3 Fare Forward Voyagers (23:42)
   
 

REVIEW DATE - Feb 22nd, 2021

SYNOPSIS...
This kind of music is called American Primitivism... cool name... guess who came up with the name? John Fahey, the artist himself! So, what is American Primitivism? Fahey took traditional country-blues fingerpicking-styled guitar and modified it to incorporate aspects of 20th century classical minimalism and Hindustani classical music. This is his most raga-esque effort. It does not sound anything like Hindustani classical though. Nor does it follow the slow burning style of Indian raga. It is simply too busy to be raga and varies more frequently; but it does borrow some of the harmonic concepts of raga. And that's why this album sounds much different than any folk or country-blues solo guitar album you may hear.

John Fahey apparently recorded this to impress his guru Swami Satchidananda's secretary Shanti Norris, whom he was in love with. And we can hear the love pouring into this effort. The production is stellar and the guitar sounds vibrant, especially with the bass strings having such a rich sound. It is still 44 minutes of instrumental guitar with no other instrumental backing. So, it will test your patience a bit, but I recommend multiple listens to get the beauty of this album. Fahey inspired many other American guitarists like Leo Kotke, Robbie Basho, Sandy Bull to follow his ideas, thus creating a new genre all by himself.

#710
VARIOUS ARTISTS
DISCO BALLYWOOD (1982)
1 Om Shanti Om - Laxmikant/Pyarelal (8:50)

2 Dard E Dil - Laxmikant/Pyarelal (6:57)
3 Ek Hasina Thi - Laxmikant/Pyarelal (7:52)
4 Hari Om Hari - Bappi Lahiri (6:38)
5 Aap Jaisa Koi - Biddu (4:06)
6 Hum Tumhain Chahte Hain - Kalyanji/Anandji (7:17)
7 Laila O Laila - Kalyanji Anandji (4:31)
8 Rambha Ho - Bappi Lahiri (6:00)
9 Jahan Teri Yeh Nazar Hain - Rahul Dev Burman (5:27)
10 Apni Toh Jaise Taise - Kalyanji Anandji (5:09)
11 Aa Dekhe Zara - Rahul Dev Burman (8:31)
12 Saara Zamana - Rajesh Roshan (4:26)
13 Krishna Dharthi Pe Aaja - Bappi Lahiri (5:25)
14 Kohi Yaha Aha Nache Nache - Bappi Lahiri (5:28)
15 Yaad Aa Raha Hain - Bappi Lahiri (6:22)
16 I Am A Disco Dancer - Bappi Lahiri (7:49)
17 Jimmy Jimmy Jimmy Aaja - Bappi Lahiri (3:04)
18 Disco Station - Bappi Lahiri (6:53)
19 Jawani Janneman - Bappi Lahiri (7:31)
20 Raat Baaki Baat Baaki - Bappi Lahiri (5:55)
21 Pag Ghungru Baandh - Bappi Lahiri (11:37)
22 Jane Jaan O Meri Jaane Jaan - Rahul Dev Burman (6:45)
23 Jana O Meri Jana - Bappi Lahiri (5:45)
24 Boom Boom - Biddu (5:18)
25 Udi Baba - Kalyanji/Anandji (6:19)
REVIEW DATE - Feb 23rd, 2021

SYNOPSIS...
Disco - the scourge of a nation, the plague that destroyed a million lives, the ultimate catastrophe that could have decimated this world... but we fought back! We stood tall; we set some disco LPs on fire in a stadium, and vanquished our roller-skating, sparkly clothes-wearing, dancing brethren into oblivion. And since then, the world has been a much better place to live in.

I never understood the hate for disco. And a coup on it in 1979 which put leading disco acts like Bee Gees, KC and the Sunshine Band, Kool and the Gang, Donna Summer, Chic, Sister Sledge etc., out of business. Yeah, it was getting tiring, but disco really hit mainstream only around 1976. I think it deserved a chance to progress... it did... outside the States and eventually morphed into electro-disco, Italo-disco, house and dance-pop. And many may not know it... but disco became huge in India around 1980, just around the time it had disappeared from the American and British charts. The Indian disco movement was mostly film-based. And it was never a coordinated movement, just a trend. It was started with Laxmikant-Pyarelal in the 1980 movie Karz, which had three great songs (the first three songs on this fake album), which set the course for synthesizers into Indian film music. Soon, Bappi Lahiri capitalized on it and declared himself the disco king. He is heavily featured here - 12 of the 25 songs belong to him. The movie Disco Dancer, even though complete and utter garbage, was a huge hit and featured some of the biggest Bappi hits. Soon, everyone jumped into the bandwagon, even legendary music director - R.D. Burman and Kalyanji-Anandji! Even movies featuring superstar Amitabh Bachchan had disco songs in it, the most notable being Namak Halaal which has probably the longest song (Pag Ghungru Baandh) made in Bollywood history clocking in around 11 minutes. Another key song which defined the disco movement was the song Aap Jaisa Koi which was composed by British-Indian producer and writer Biddu (and sung by Pakistani teenager Nazia Hussain), for the 1980 movie Qurbani. Biddu was already a disco legend by then with huge hits like Kung Fu Fighting. And this song just changed the course of Bollywood. It was all the craze for few years but just like the Western disco the craze had kinda died down by 1982. They were few hits beyond 1982, but it was all scattered and I am not featuring any of the songs beyond 1982, here.

The Bollywood version of disco is not all synthesized disco. It is essentially typical orchestral Bollywood pop with elements of Indian classical and pop mixed with disco beats and funky bass grooves. One notable thing about these disco songs was that they were some of the longest, funkiest and adventurous songs ever recorded in Bollywood. In fact, I wouldn't call it disco, as it would be misleading; I would call the whole genre - Cinematic Progressive Disco! It was truly unique and exclusive to Bollywood. None of the other non-Hindi (the Tamilian Kollywood, Malayali Mollywood and Telugu Tollywood) film industries ever got the disco fever this bad. Some may say that's a good thing... but then those "some" are missing out on some good stuff.