Monday, 22 September 2008

"Cold fact" revisited

I'm so glad that Cold fact has been re-released. I truly envy those people who are about to hear this album for the first time. My personal experience with discovering this album (through my brother Danny) was one of enlightenment. Where had this album been all my life? How come this guy wasn't as big as the Beatles?

I just hope that the engineers who worked on the remastering have some respect for this music, and don't butcher the remastering job. I love my original CD; the pops and crackles that make it sound like it was burnt straight from vinyl only add to its considerable charms.

My original CD also ends with Like Janis instead of Jane S. Piddy; there is a lot of confusion about these two tracks, and which is meant to be last. On the 2008 re-issue, Jane S. Piddy is now last; I guess this admits that there was a mistake in the original track order. I won't be reprogramming the order on my iPod - it just wouldn't feel right continuing after Like Janis for me. It just works so perfectly as a closing track. Anyway, here is more detail about this track order confusion.

Anyway, I don't need to review this album again. I have mentioned it countless times on this blog, so you can read my previous posts for yourself:

2004: A year in music - when I first discovered it
Cold fact - my original review
Musical memories and discoveries - a Rodriguez-esque stream-of-consciousness
Top 10 albums that have "the vibe" - guess which album makes the cut?
Rodriguez gig review - even includes a photo of me with the man himself

But, seriously.
Get this album.
You will not regret it*.
Lost classic.
Hidden gem.
Yadda yadda yadda.
You get the drift.

MP3: Rodriguez - Rich folks hoax [Link removed]

*If you don't believe me, here are some other reviews from more reputable publications:


The Observer
Pitchfork Media
Tiny Mix Tapes
The Age (article)

Update: Song links removed.

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

RIP: Rick Wright 1943-2008

Rick Wright, founding member and keyboardist from progressive rockers Pink Floyd, has sadly passed away at the age of 65 after a battle with cancer.

Dark side of the moon is one of the most popular albums of all time, and for good reason. It was voted the best album of all time in a recent Australian television show. Not just a critic's darling, it truly is a masterpiece. Even if it isn't a secret soundtrack to The wizard of oz, as the conspiracy theorists would lead you to believe.

As good as DSOTM is, you can't forget other excellent PF albums like Meddle and Animals. At their peak, they were a band who were truly ahead of their time.

I'm sure Rick is playing with Syd at the great gig in the sky(TM).

MP3: Pink Floyd - The great gig in the sky [Link removed]

This song was composed by Rick Wright, and is one of my favourite Pink Floyd songs. Truly stunning.

Update: Song links removed.

Thursday, 11 September 2008

Hidden gems #1: Songs in the attic

This is the first (and keeping in mind my recent prolificacy, probably last) blog post in a new series which aims to raise awareness of hidden musical gems from musical history. This series will cover albums that most have probably never heard, but should.

I can understand how those who only know Billy Joel from his over-played radio hits probably regard him as a schmaltzy MOR singer-songwriter, an artifact from the 70s best left there. I agree that some of his songs have been played beyond death; I don't think I will ever feel the need to hear Just the way you are or Uptown girl again (unless it's Homer Simpson singing the latter).

The Billy Joel of the 70s was a different beast entirely. Not to say that he squandered his talent quite like Rod Stewart did (who too had a very promising career in the 70s before he lost all respect), but the early Billy Joel had something that the more popular Billy Joel never quite matched.

The live album Songs in the attic was released in 1981. Billy became a lot more popular after his breakthrough 1977 album The stranger, and this live album was intended as a vehicle to raise awareness of his earlier songs. To this end, it achieves its goal flawlessly. I'm normally not a fan of live albums, and with only a few exceptions, I have almost always regretted purchasing them. Mainly because they don't improve on the studio versions, and also because they tend to consist mainly of the overplayed hits.

But this live album is an exception in many respects. Firstly, it only includes obscure (to radio listeners anyway) songs from his first four albums. It doesn't even include his signature song Piano man, the title track from his second album! Secondly, all of the live versions on this album rock a lot harder than any of the original studio versions. It's not uncommon for production values and songwriting quality be at odds with each other, and Billy Joel's early albums are a great example of this. But the versions on Songs in the attic sound awesome - even on my original, non-mastered CD pressing.

If you've only heard Billy Joel's radio hits, I highly recommend getting this album. It's one of the first albums that truly blew me away. It's simply fantastic music, and the fact that it is live doesn't even matter when you are listening to it. The bits on opening track Miami 2017 where the NY audience cheer when the Yankees, Brooklyn, The Bronx and other NY icons are mentioned still gives me goosebumps to this day.

You can pick this album up dirt-cheap thesedays - I have seen it for $5.00 on many occasions.

Buy it, turn it up, and rock on.

MP3: Billy Joel - Miami 2017 [Link removed]

Update: Song links removed.