Friday, August 28, 2009

The Great Albums Project

This whole thing started with Eric Clapton. I was looking on Wikipedia for information about Jimi Hendrix’s album Electric Ladyland. I had never really listened to Hendrix before and since Clapton and Steve Winwood played a killer version of Hendrix’s “Voodoo Chile” on their live album and tour when I saw them in Chicago this summer I thought it wise to check out the album that it came from. So I went to the library and I had Electric Ladyland reserved for me – actually they shipped it from another local library. While I was looking they had Hendrix’s Axis: Bold As Love actually in the rack so I took that home first. I listened to it and I liked it. While I was doing some reading about the album’s background I stumbled across the Rolling Stone list of greatest 500 albums, which had Electric Ladyland listed at #54. Hey, I thought, this is a cool list. Any list that has three Beatles albums in the top 5 has to be good. Then I noticed that while I had a fair number of these albums or at least I was pretty familiar with some there were others that I frankly hadn’t ever listened to. So I decided to spend part of the summer using the library to get and listen to some of these albums so I could see what I was missing.

Here is a preliminary report.
4. Highway 61 Revisited, Bob Dylan – the jury is still out on this one. I already knew most of the songs so it wasn’t like I was completely unfamiliar with it. It’s classic Dylan and you either love it or you don’t – I am a moderate Dylan fan so I get why it’s cool I just don’t know how often I’d want to listen to it.

6. What's Going On, Marvin Gaye – this is one of the first albums I tried that I did not already know and love. I really like the title track and though I’d like the whole album a lot more but I found that it all sounded too much the same for me. I, frankly, don’t see how it got so high on the list.

7. Exile on Main Street, The Rolling Stones – I’ve heard about this album for years, of course but I have never been as much a fan of the stones as I think I ought to be. While I like listening to them on occasion I usually don’t last for a whole album.

11. The Sun Sessions, Elvis Presley – this one struck me as being only of historical interest. I frankly didn’t even get all the way through it.

15. Are You Experienced?, The Jimi Hendrix Experience – Great stuff. Although I think I like Electric Ladyland better.

19. Astral Weeks, Van Morrison – very nice – I’ve only listened once so far but I’m looking forward to exploring this a bit more.

30. Blue, Joni Mitchell – another nice album that I’ve only heard once – but I like it a lot – this and the Van Morrison feel similar to me. Both delicate, recorded with limited instruments and very personal. I’m going to enjoy hearing this a few more times.

So that’s it so far – what a great summer of exploring old music!