Monday, December 31, 2012

New Year's Musings On Music I Found In 2012

Personally, 2012 was an OK year. I don't keep up with "time" very well and one year seems to slip into the next for me and then I don't remember exactly when something happened. Anyone else let time slip away like that? I suppose it's just natural as you get older, to lose track of when certain events happen. I need a better filing system in my programming. Freddy 6.0? 

I had some great times with family and friends last year and just keep plowing ahead towards the final destination. I have to say though, that there are a few things that were not of 2012 that I'm glad I found for the first time during this year. While others are listing their favorite "this" and "thats" from 2012, I'm going to list a few albums that I experienced for the first time in 2012, but were around way before this year.

Pieces Of A Man: Gil Scott-Heron (1971)

A wonderful find for me. I heard Gil Scott-Herson's name on a superb documentary about Bill Withers called "Still Bill" (which I highly recommend to music lovers and you can find it on Netflix, or watch on You Tube by clicking the link) and decided to find out why Withers and his wife were so keen on him. I listened to several songs on You Tube and was sold. This will be painful and hard for some to take, but I believe this album is better than Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On" and makes at least as good a statement on the plight of those on the bottom rung of socio-economic status in our country. There are five or six standouts on the record and "Home Is Where The Hatred Is" is among those, along with "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised" and "Lady Day & John Coltrane". If you like soul or R&B, I'd be hard pressed to recommend any album in that line of genres to you ahead of this one. 

Seed Of Memory: Terry Reid (1976)

This is a fantastic album and honestly, my music loving life would be worse off having not heard it. Terry Reid is the guy who turned down Jimmy Page to be the lead singer of Led Zeppelin. One of rocks great blunders, but it gave way to this hidden gem, called "Seed Of Memory". The sound is definitively "70's", but as much as you can hear the well that Reid draws from (Neil Young, Byrds, etc), you can really hear where he was influential to those who came after him. His voice is so good and with the songwriting on this album, it bears repeated listening. 


The Band: The Band (1969)

It depends on when you catch me, but this may be the best album I have ever heard. Over the years, I had heard several songs off the album, but never took it in as a whole until this past year. Lyrically and musically it just delivers with an eclectic batch of tunes that weave into one another seamlessly. The voices of Danko, Manuel, and Helm are earthy, real, and at times, beautiful. It's hard not to love an album with "Up On Cripple Creek", "The Night They Drove Ol' Dixie Down", "Whispering Pines", and "King Harvest" on it. George Harrison once called them the best band in the universe and after hearing this album I can see why he thought so. 


Pacific Ocean Blue: Dennis Wilson (1977)

An unheralded classic that is getting its due now more than it do when it was released. Most of the record is a departure from the Beach Boys sound that he helped create, though you will find some moments here and there that recall the Beach Boys at their best. I think this album has some great songs and it's a shame that it didn't receive more acclaim at the time. Perhaps the momentum from a hit album could have saved Wilson from his downward spiral. There are some beautiful songs on this one, including "Thoughts Of You" and "River Song" (co-written by Carl Wilson with a bit of a Beach Boys feel), but my favorite is probably "Dreamer". 

I hope everyone has a wonderful 2013. I'm sure, like any other year, it will have its ups and downs, but try to take it all in stride. It's just life we are living and I believe we only get one shot at it. With that, I'll say enjoy your family and friends, don't sweat the small stuff (and really, it's ALL small stuff), and find some good music to soothe your heart, mind, and soul whenever possible. 

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