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Vinyl Finds: Episode 5

The Last WaltzHey all! So lately I’ve been neglecting this little “vinyl finds” section. It’s just that I’ve been so busy with exams, moving back home for the summer, and then work. Since my last post I’ve stumbled across a bevy of fantastic albums and I honestly am not sure where to start. I think however, that I will start with one of my favourites from the lot, a limited printing of The Band’s final concert titled “The Last Waltz”. There were only 5000 of these printed for Record Store Day and somehow I was able to come across one of them. Now I’m sure a large percentage of the lucky 5000 people who picked this up are planning to just leave the thing sealed in shrink wrap and perhaps tuck it away somewhere for 35 years… Not me, I’m planning on playing it, a lot. So today, on this dull and grey Sunday afternoon I pulled it off of my shelf and put it gently on the turntable. Jesus is it ever good. For anyone who hasn’t seen the movie “The Last Waltz”, you would be silly not to go and rent, buy, or illegally download it right now. Having said this, there is something about just listening to a live concert on vinyl which I prefer. I find it to be a richer experience than watching it, but then again that’s just me. Either way, “The Last Waltz”, whether it be in video or vinyl format, is a truly fantastic musical journey especially for fans of The Band.

The list of musical guests on this album is impressive to say the least. Neil Young, Neil Diamond, Eric Clapton, Van Morrison, Muddythe-band-last-waltz Waters, Joni Mitchell, Ringo Star, Bob Dylan and many more all appear on the album and play some fantastic songs alongside The Band. Of course The Band also plays some of their hits. Songs like “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down”, “Up On Cripple Creek”, and the “The Weight” are all played to the sound of a joyous crowd. Although some member of The Band had already begun to lose the full range of their voice the concert is still a fantastic listen and beats any modern pop song by a mile. Go out and listen to this one. I’ll be back soon with some more of my RSD finds. Until then, cheers and happy hunting.

A Devilish Elixir

It turns the mood in the air;

that devilish elixir,

that so often transforms a beautiful night

into a brutish and unforgiving warmonger.

 

And like a sleeping volcano

eruption is imminent.

Innocence is lost

in the blink of an eye.

 

Like a flash the mood will turn

and war will break

(a trait of mortal man)

Emotions boil, blood will spill,

 

And it happens in an instant, like a flooding river

All because of that horrid drink; a devilish elixir.

Vinyl Finds: Episode 4

The Band 2“It’s what you get when you blend all of these sound together…the Blues, country, R&B…it’s called Rock N’ Roll…”  – Robbie Robertson

The Band is one of my absolute favourite groups of all time so, naturally, when I came upon their eponymous album in an old record shop for 6 dollars I was ecstatic! The Band’s The Band is the second album in their collection and quite possibly the brightest of the bunch. For an album that was released back in 1969 it was incredibly well engineered and put together. The sound that this group of six people or so was capable of making without the use of computers or any of the bullshit many of the artists use today is a feat all in its own. To have a bunch of guys so incredibly in tune musically, so unbelievably talented in multiple areas is astonishing to me. How is it even possible that they came together the way they did? It baffles the mind to think about. Honestly, the sheer ability of each person in The Band is beyond anything that I’ve seen or heard since, and I’m certain that it will be years from now until we see a group even come close to them in terms of ability. To give you an idea of their talent…on their self-titled album, Garth Hudson plays 8 instruments (and quite beautifully I might add), Richard Manuel plays 4 plus vocals, Levon Helm (who by the way has one of the most captivating voices I’ve ever heard) plays 3 instruments and vocals on most songs, Rich Danko also plays 3 instruments and sings, Robbie Robertson plays guitar and vocals, and finally John Simon plays a total of 4 instruments. Unbelievable.

The album itself is a fantastic trip. Listen through in its entirety through a good set of speakers and you’ll hear why this group amazesthe band me the way they do. For a piece created in the late 60’s it has virtually no aspects of the popular psychedelia movement, but instead has a more grassroots, bare-boned rock and roll feel. The opening song Across the Great Divide (a recount of their movement from Canada to the States) is unbelievably full of sound; it grabs you and instantly lifts your spirits. Some of the standouts on the album (although they are all really good) would have to be The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down and Up On Cripple Creek. The former, a haunting and captivating song full of emotion and the latter, a fun and playful tune equally as captivating however less intimidating. Both showcase the incredible talents of The Band perfectly.

This album is a true gem; a piece of musical history and a major influence on popular music since its release. To be honest words will not do this group (or this album) justice. You will simply have to listen to them and find out for yourself. Musical legends like Bob Dylan, Neil Young, and Van Morrison all look up to this group and attribute much of what they were doing to them. Crisp, captivating, and inspiring lyrics; instrumentals unlike any other group I’ve heard since, and an ability to convey an emotion in a way that few musical acts can achieve. The Band is legendary and its time you hear for yourself.

Vinyl Finds: Episode 3

dark side of the moon Possibly the most widely known rock band to come out of 1970’s Britain, Pink Floyd has released master-piece upon master-piece in their illustrious career. Certainly my musical taste has been furthered from listening to them both as a kid and now as an adult, and it was to my utmost joy when I happened upon Dark Side of the Moon in a dingy box in the basement of my house.

Haunting, melodic, and experiential are the words I would use to describe this wonderful album. It has the ability to carry you through emotions when listened to straight through. In fact, that is what I am amazed most by when I listen to this album. Not its absolute musical genius, or even its influence on pop culture 40 years after its release! No, what I am most amazed by is the fact that it can do what no other album has done for me in my lifetime, and that is to completely and utterly enthrall me in the moment, bring me up and then down and then up again with seemingly no effort at all. It’s more than just an emotional journey when I listen to it; there’s something spiritual about it too. I’ll never forget a certain night when I listened to this. It was possibly one of the most peaceful moments I’ve had in my 18 years and over the course of the album I thought about life, my future, my past, and I remember being in the most surreal state after the album had ended. The needle was spinning mindlessly in its groove, and even the incessant crackles and pops (which had become magnified after the music had ended) sounded like they were put there for a reason. I was in somewhat of a trance and Ipink floyd felt wonderful. This album has a way of doing that to me, and for that I am extremely grateful.

Musically this album seems to offer a little bit of everything; magnificent and thought-provoking lyrics, fantastic vocals, an array of sounds and rhythms. It’s an album built on solos, and maybe some of the best solos ever recorded. From percussion and synthesizer to captivating guitar solos to the absolutely spectacular vocal solo on “The Great Gig In the Sky” and nearly everything in between, this album has something for almost everyone. You can find a way to connect to this, and that’s the best kind of music, when each listener is able to take something away, something that has meaning to them. I for one have certainly taken a whole lot away from this album and I’m sure you will too. Go out, search for this thing on vinyl and dedicate an hour to listening to it, free from distraction and the burdens of everyday life. You will be thankful you did. Until next week, cheers and happy hunting.

The Robin’s Song

When I hear the Robin’s song

Well then I know it won’t be long,

Til Spring is here to stay

And melt the landscape day by day by day.

 

Yes, when I hear that Robin’s tune

I know it must be soon.

Time for this place to awaken

And feel the warmth that Winter had taken.

 

Oh, when I hear that Robin’s call,

It’s a sign for one and all

To come outdoors and sit awhile

And enjoy the beauty of nature’s smile.

 

For life has returned once more

To exact revenge on an icy whore.

And its signal is that sweet, sweet song

And I think its time to sing along.

 

The Man In Your Head

When did he come into your world?

The man in your head that is.

I can’t be sure but I think I know.

It was long ago,

A decade or so

And you’d been through so much,

so much,

so much…

 

You had love one day and the next it was gone,

As if the light had burned out.

And yet you knew that would happen

So you put the pain deep inside

And it created something, someone

And he grew,

and grew,

and grew…

 

And although I can’t be sure

I think he got to you

(more than even you anticipated)

And you couldn’t take it,

But we never knew,

We never knew.

How could we have??

 

And you left three jewels behind.

Did you think about them

And how they would feel,

Now that you’ve been asleep for 47 days,

47 days,

47 days…

 

You were stronger than that, stronger than him…

Or at least I thought.

And now we’ll never be certain

Why you left us, left them.

But we think we know,

We ought to know,

we should’ve known…

 

There was someone in your head,

But only you knew him

And he put you to bed,

he put you to bed;

47 days and counting…

Vinyl Finds: Episode 2

neil_young_after_the_gold_rush_vinyl_lp2 Hey all and welcome to the second ever vinyl finds post. This week I’ll be focusing on one of my most cherished and prized records in my personal collection. I found this one while rooting through my Dad’s old collection and have played it through at least 2 dozen times since. This is one of my favourite albums of all time and in my opinion the defining album for the artist. This album combines folk and rock with meaningful lyrics and a truly unique voice. I’m talking about none other than Neil Young’s “After the Gold Rush” released back in 1970 on the Reprise label.

Neil has been one of my favourite artists for about 3 or 4 years now however I hadn’t really stuck my nose deep into his musical catalogue. Instead I had only ever really listened to his Greatest Hits album which was great at first until I discovered the depth of his music. “After the Gold Rush” on vinyl was the album that catalyzed my obsession with Neil. My opinion on his talent and ability in music went from, “Wow” before I listened through the album to, “Holy shit, this guy’s fucking incredible” after. The reason for this being that “After the Gold Rush” is arguably the greatest folk-rock album ever made. It’s an incredible achievement and has influenced a vast amount of artists since its release. The opening song “Tell Me Why” has a way of grabbing you and throwing you into the song. You’ll find yourself being drawn into the music, into every strum of the guitar and out of tune wail of Neil’s voice. It’s a magical song and sets the stage for the rest of the record. after the gold rush

What I am always amazed at is the realism of Neil’s voice on this record. To me Neil feels especially true to life here. If you close your eyes it’s not hard to imagine him playing only a few feet away from you! Perhaps this is due to the location where the album was recorded (i.e. the famous Sound City) or maybe it’s just that Neil was in particular good form when he made these. Whatever the case may be I personally believe that this record was and is his crowning achievement and should adorn him with legendary status on the sole basis of its genius. Each and every song has its purpose on the record; there is no filler here, only beautifully written and performed songs which meld and float effortlessly into the next and the next and the next and before you know it you’re on side B listening to the wonderful “Cripple Creek Fairy” wondering why this album has to end. I fully and completely believe this to be one of the greatest if not the best album in folk-rock history so, if you haven’t had the pleasure of listening to this, please do. If you’re new to Young’s music or an experienced listener you’ll still find something to love in this album, and that stays true whether you’re listening through it for the first time or the thousandth time. Until next week, goodbye and happy hunting.

By the way… If any of you have any great vinyl finds please feel free to share them in the comments. I’m always looking for new sounds. Cheers.

Vinyl Finds: Episode 1

Vinyl FindsAhhhh… There isn’t much that can rival the moment I’m having right now. Relaxing after a long day, Dean Martin on the turntable, cold beer in hand… What gets better than this? It was this moment actually which inspired the upcoming post. As I was sitting here in complete ecstasy I thought to myself how quickly my new hobby has enraptured and coalesced every fibre of my being. Collecting and listening to vinyl has quickly become one of my favourite things in life and I realized it was selfish not to share the experiences I’ve had with music fans around the world. With this in mind I’ve decided to create a category called “Vinyl Finds” where I talk about particularly fantastic records I’ve come across and hopefully convince some of you to expand your musical taste and delve into some fantastic sounds. So, without further ado, Episode One of Vinyl Finds…

My interest in records began only a few short months ago when I happened upon my Dad’s vinyl collection packed away in dusty old boxes in a corner of the back room in my basement. Naturally my curiosity took over and I took out each and every box and searched through, looking for artists I knew. After uncovering some old Neil Young, Rolling Stones, and Beatles albums my focus shifted to getting the turntable up and running. To make a long story short, I hooked up the table to our sound system upstairs (after a long battle trying to get it running again) and spent my Christmas break listening to every album I could. One album in particular stood outThe Yes Album for me… A band called Yes and their famed “The Yes Album” from 1971. Now I had heard of Yes before but I never payed any attention to them whatsoever, which I see now was incredibly stupid on my part. The Yes Album blew me away. As soon as I dropped the needle and listened to the opening 10 seconds of “Yours Is No Disgrace” I knew that I had stumbled upon something truly special. What a gem! This album has probably become one of my favourites of all time and for good reason. The musicianship is astounding and the whole album rolls together with a level of fluidity rarely seen in the world of music.

In general, prog-rock albums don’t usually get the attention they deserve. This band was experimenting with sounds and stretching the boundaries of what an album could be. In music, especially rock music, it was a huge moment. The album has a certain magic about it. Whether it be the unbelievable instrumentals, the fantastic and unique vocals, or the overall smoothness as one track melts into the next. This is an album that you MUST listen to at least once in your lifetime. In fact, you would be doing yourself a disservice not to set aside 45 minutes and listen to this through a decent set of speakers and if possible, on vinyl. Please, listen to this masterpiece. If you’re a true fan of music then I’m sure you’ll see what I see in it…or rather hear what I hear! Until next week, goodbye and happy hunting.

The Doors of Perception

As we stand in a ceramic room,

Smoke and beams of light distort the senses.

Time slows down, down, down,

And soon we break through to the other side;

Through the Doors of perception.

 

Sounds turn into virtual fantasies.

As we float down the river,

We sit in utter bliss

And we speak with Lucy

And gawk at cellophane flowers.

 

And after what feels like hours,

We lift the arm and drop the needle

On new experiences and realities.

And mystic rhythms that dazzle the mind

Transport us to places we’ve never been.

 

The temples of Syrinx dissolve into a dream

as we reach the grand finale.

And masses of colour and cloud forms

(That had been so prominent before)

Slowly die off as we float back through

The doors of perception…

 

 

 

If It’s Not to Be…

Through the window she couldn’t see

As I walked past under the cover of night.

I marveled at her beauty and stopped for a second

But continued walking as not to give her a fright.

 

Her silhouette cast out over the darkening asphalt

And I thought of knocking on her door.

But I decided very quickly not to

As a second shadow emerged, and the two of them dropped to the floor.

 

Why, Oh why is it always like this?

Oh how I desperately want to give her a kiss.

But if it’s not to be, it’s not to be

So i’ll keep on walking by myself…just me…

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