Thursday, December 30, 2004

Musical Ditties for December

As I set forth on my quest to create a legal digital music library at a reasonable cost and prove to my kids they don't need Kazaa here is the story of my monthly haul.

Let's start with the creme of the crop. As you know I have a particular fondness for the eMusic service. Read my article here. eMusic has several signature tracks that buyers scarf-up right away. The most prominent and downloaded is Jamaican singer Arthur Lewis's reggae rendition of "Knockin' on Heaven Door" recorded with Eric Clapton. It's a sweet and mellow masterpiece without the monotonous reggae bump to it.

Another gem is Green Day's hit "Welcome to Paradise". This is an earlier version when they were just a Califunny garage band on the indie label Lookout Records.

There are five tracks from Bush that are a must have. The entire album "Sixteen" is available which includes the hits "Stone", "Machinehead", "Comedown", "Everything Zen", and "Glycerine."

Now for the fun part of uncovering past masterpieces and future gems from eMusic's and other online catalogs.

Booker T. and MG's/Melting Pot. If you loved the music from the Blues Brothers this is band that played it in the movie. Booker T. was the leader with Donald "Duck" Dunn and Steve Cropper. I found these three signature tunes "Kinda Easy Like," "Slum Baby," and "Melting Pot."

You won't find Jethro Tull on iTunes (at least not yet) but some of Ian Anderson's solo work and a new recording by Jethro Tull are available. The ditties I liked were "Bends Like a Willow", "", "Boris Dancing" and "Habenero Reel". I saw Jethro Tull play at Chautauqua Instititute a couple of years ago and Ian was as entertaining and quirky as ever.

I never understood why Gong, led by Daevid Allen, lent the band's name to percussionist Pierre Moerlin. They are two different sounds. The former was full of drug-crazed poetry with Steve Hillage's incredible guitar solos. The latter is one of the best jazz-fusion bands around. My favorites are the tracks "Soli" and "Second Wind" from the "Full Circle Live" album.

I love the blues and eMusic has plenty for me to dig through. If you love the Allman Brothers Band then you'll find many of the artists, like T-Bone Walker and Muddy Waters, and their original recordings that influenced them. T-Bone's "Goin to Chicago Blues" and two tracks by Muddy Waters, "Gypsy Woman" and "Trouble No More," are two great examples.

Isaac Hayes: Themes from "Shaft" and "The Man". Before he become the voice of the school chef on "South Park" Isaac was The Man when it came to 70's black soul. These are two of his signature tracks from that period. The guitar line on "Shaft" is now a caricature of the 70's hip "cop-movie" sound.

Switching over to iTunes is "Reaching the Cold 100" by the Peter Green Splinter Band. After leaving Fleetwood Mac ages ago he set off on a solo career that never succeeded. But today this guy never sounded better. His voice has almost the perfect blues sound to it, deeper and raspier than the 70's. His acoustic version of "Albatross", a favorite from his Fleetwood Mac days, sounds like your ears are right on his guitar and the booming bass line will blow your speakers.

Best of the rest:

Steeleye Span: "Hard Times of Old England." Lots of mandolins here played by ex-Fairport Convention folks

The Kinks: "Come Dancing".

Man: "Spunk Rock" and "Angel Easy" from this legendary Welsh jam band.

Deke Leonard: "Someone is Calling". Lots of "twang" from ex-Man singer, guitarist and songwriter.

Credence Clearwater Revival: Their entire catalog is online. My favorites are "Bad Moon Rising" and "Who'll Stop the Rain."

Albert King with Stevie Ray Vaughan: "Pride and Joy", "Don't Lie to Me" and "Matchbox Blues".

Synergy: "Classical Gas" and "Relay Breakdown." Larry Fast was an early innovator of the synthesizer and later played with Peter Gabriel in the late 70's.

Michael Stanley: "Rosewood Bitters" with Todd Rundgren, "My Town", "Midwest Midnight" and other hits.

Canned Heat: "On the Road Again."

Not a bad catch for the month while proving once again you can build a legal digital musical library at a reasonable cost.

Copyright © 2004 James D. Fisher
All rights reserved.


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