Saturday, February 13, 2010

Top Ten Part II

Finally, I got this done. Only took almost a year. And if you ask me to do this again tomorrow, it may take me another year to complete and I can't guarantee that you will get the same Ten Entries. Share any albums you would add and why.

Top Ten (Part Two)…

Jimi Hendrix- Axis:Bold as Love
My sophomore year in college a good friend of mine lived in the room next to me in our dorm. He was subject to much of the noise I created, both with listening to music and of the more human variety. One afternoon, he pulls me into his room and says, in some fashion, “if you are gonna play loud music all the damn time, at least occasionally play something good.” Then he played Castles Made of Sand for me. Instant classic in my book. Dark, but with a hint of optimism. The rest of the album is solid and I did go on to gather other Jimi albums and enjoyed many of them. But I think the goal that this friend was aiming for wasn’t achieved. Instead of becoming a Rock purist like him (Phish and Tool and such), I found more enjoyment in some of the more pop rock stuff- Nirvana, Bush, Rage Against the Machine, Foo Fighters. Now I listen to these just as loud, much to the continuous chagrin of my non-appreciative neighbors.

De La Soul- Three Feet High and Rising
Growing up in the 80’s, I was around as Hip-Hop (nee Rap) grew and evolved. And one thing that kept me from really becoming a fan, besides the love of soul music and Chicago house music, was the fact that rap didn’t really reflect me. It was edgy, often upset, self-conscious hoping to talk itself into a firmer existence. Eventually it did. And I enjoyed it. BDP, Eric B & Rakim, Run DMC, LL Cool J… But it wasn’t me. When DeLa dropped 3ft High, Rap clicked for me. They were satirist and social criticizers all done with self deprecation and humor. Beyond the lyrical wisdom and fun, they didn’t look like leather or jogging suit clad, gold chain dangling B-Boy icons. They looked like me, too.

Sergio Mendez- Brazil ‘77
Yes, this album is whimsical. Yes, this album has songs written by Stevie Wonder. Yes, this song is a hybrid of soul, jazz and mellowed out disco. Yes, this album contains a very popular cut made famous in the guts of the Warehouse as I knew it. But what makes this album influential is that it is the first album that I sought out and purchased with long protracted effort, looking for an original album in excellent condition. It’s the album that really got me trolling in used record stores around the city hoping to turn up gems. And it is the first album that I purchased off the wall from behind the counter and off the wall. And for anyone who has done that, you know it is then the first album that I happily paid too much (and of course it would be the first album that, after paying too much, I saw at half the price weeks later). But I haven’t stopped trolling for records, though technology makes the hunt a bit lazier.

Jamiroquai- The Return of the Space Cowboy
High school and college was a constant battle what ruled the party, house or hip-hop. It was a tired debate. Then I was invited to a club called B-Side. There I discovered that you can dance to something that didn’t fit either mold. That was a monumental moment for me, a house music purist. So in that learning environment, the DJ played Space Cowboy. I had to know that record. I don’t know if I asked or had my most spectacular dance partner (Fish!) ask, I just know I got the name of the record, had the CD the next day and was bumping it immediately. It was one of my earliest CD purchases. Jamiroquai opened me up to another category/genre of music that I still find refreshing when done well. I still go to random clubs listening to unknown DJs looking for gems of music.

Michael Jackson- Off the Wall
I have a picture that was taken around winter, 1979. I don’t know the occasion. I was seven. It was in the basement of my father’s aunt two-flat on the south side of Chicago. It was a shot of my sister, my cousin Tish, and me. We were all dressed in the appropriately dated late seventies attire with odd color blends, materials, and patterns. My sister was one of my best friends, and a few years older than both of us, we both adored my cousin Tish. Smart, beautiful, funny, big-laughing, loud talking extrovert, Tish showed us both so much Love. In the background of this photo is a blue fold out record player. And playing on that record player was the Off the Wall album. How do I know this, now some thirty years later when the label of the record isn’t visible? I know because we listened to that record non-stop the entire time we were in the basement. We sang, we danced, we laughed until we had to go. There aren’t too many occasions where I can say I remember the time, place and company where I played a record over and over AND it was done out of pure joy.

Honorable Mention:
Charles Mingus- The Clown
Ben Folds Five- Forever and Ever Amen
Michael Franks- Art of Tea
The Foreign Exchange- Leave it all Behind
Jill Scott- Who is Jill Scott? Words and Sounds Vol.1
Ten City- Foundation