October 1969: The Beatles’ Abbey Road Hits #1 on the UK Chart

41 Years ago this week, Abbey Road hit number 1 on the UK charts, and although released prior to the Let it Be album, it would be, technically, the Beatles last studio recordings released.  What is really amazing about the album is that, though the band wasn’t really functioning as a band at that point, they put many of their differences behind them, and in a number of ways, used to the album to make light of those differences. 

The album cover itself fueled speculation that there was truth to the “Paul is dead” rumor that gained some traction around the time the album was released.  Perhaps this is a topic for another post, but briefly, John Lennon’s white suit was said to symbolize a clergyman; Ringo Starr’s black suit, an undertaker; George Harrison’s blue jeans and denim shirt, a grave-digger; and the fact that Paul McCartney is walking out of step with the band and has no shoes all ‘proved’ the rumor to be true.  However you take the album cover, it is an iconic image in the world of pop and rock music.

In the UK, the album debuted at number 1 and spent 11 consecutive weeks there, and then was bumped for 1 week by The Rolling Stones’ Let it Bleed album before returning to number 1 for 6 more weeks.  In all it spent nearly 2 years in the UK top 75 and then reached number 30 when the album was released on CD in 1987.

The album is essentially divided into 2 sections–side A being a selection of singles, and side B being comprised of shorter incomplete compositions woven together into a longer musical suite.  Although most of the album was recorded in only about a month’s worth of time, it remains timeless in its appeal.

Various publications throughout the years have placed it on their ‘top’ lists in various slots, it is generally viewed as one of the top 20 albums of all time (I would put it in the top 10).  Like many albums or concerts I’ve recomended to folks over the years, this is one of those pieces of music that deserves your time, and deserves to be listened to in one sitting.  If you don’t own the album, get it–it’s one of those albums that is extremely approachable for those of you who might be less familiar with The Beatles–it is most definitely an album you’ll cherish.

Proving once again that we do more than just show you the best deals in the Phoenix real estate market; we show you how to get the most out of living in Arizona, and try to help you get the most out of what you are listening to.

Advertisements

15 Concerts in 15 Minutes (well, not exactly)

Recently, I was tagged on Facebook in a note that asked me to come up with 15 albums in 15 minutes – albums that were basically influential enough on me to make me change the way I looked at (or listened to) the world.  I think this is a great exercise, because if you are like me, you find that 15 albums is such a small allotment that it forces you to throw out a number of good albums in order to create a pretty concentrated list.  Rather than using this space for that list, you can see it here on our website.

 My cousin liked the Dead-leaning list and suggested that someone put a list together of Dead tunes along with a date for a favorite performance of that song.  I love the idea, so I will be working in collaboration here with him – he’s supplied the list of tunes, and I will now supply the dates.  I hope you enjoy (and I hope you know that I didn’t put this together in 15 minutes): 

  • Morning Dew – 08/06/71 – This is the way this song should sound.  This is not quite primal Dead – they’re starting to come into their own – but they really know how to build this one up.  Bravo.  LISTEN
  • Scarlet Begonias>Fire on the Mountain – 09/15/85 – This one was easy for me because this performance always blows me away.  The entire second set is a must have, but especially the Scarlet>Fire opener.  This one is silky smooth.  LISTEN
  • Peggy-O – 10/30/77 – This one was pretty easy too.  I’ve long loved this version first because it has some sentimental value based on where it was performed, my alma mater, but beyond that, it is the right arrangement of verses and instrumental breaks that gives this one a certain gravity that really conveys the message and meaning of this song.  Also a very good show.  LISTEN
  • They Love Each Other – 09/10/93 – This one was easy as well.  Two college roommates of mine were at this one and I have just always loved this version – Jerry really gets funky on this one.  If you are a Jackstraw fan, as I am, you cannot go without this show.  LISTEN
  • Althea – 07/19/90 – This is one of my favorite shows-perhaps because I’m a bit partial to the home turf, but both sets are just so solid.  Althea can be a snoozer for me, but this one is really well-played, and upbeat.  Please listen to this whole show though, and let me know what you think.  LISTEN
  • Row Jimmy – 06/10/90 – I really had to think about this one.  I’m not a huge fan of this song because it tends to drag for me, but this particular one’s got a bit of a bounce to it that moves it along quite nicely, and the interplay between Jerry and Brent at the end is very nice too.  LISTEN
  • Wharf Rat – 07/27/73 – I couldn’t resist this one.  The Wharf Rat is kind of the dessert to the famous Watkins Glen Soundcheck Jam.  If that doesn’t mean anything to you, lots of luck.  This Jam>>>Wharf Rat combination is otherworldly; that’s all I can say about it.  LISTEN
  • Help on the Way>Slipnot>Franklin’s Tower – 10/31/91 – This wasn’t my first choice which would have been the 08/13/75 version released as One from the Vault, but that would have been too easy.  This one has a certain intensity to it; in fact the whole show does, and I would definitely recommend sticking around and listening to the entire show.  LISTEN
  • Terrapin Station – 06/15/85 – I’ve always liked this one.  I thought about selecting another date, but the interplay between Jerry and Brent during the solo is ethereal, and despite his strung-out sound during that period, he manages to hit this one out of the park.  The outro from this one is very nice too.  LISTEN
  • Bertha – 07/08/78 – This one for me is so good because the band utilizes all of the different rhythmic qualities of the verse AND chorus, and they don’t just play it straight…Does that make sense?  Listen especially about half-way through Jerry’s solo.  This is a stellar version from a really stellar couple of shows that summer from Red Rocks.  LISTEN
  • Loser – 05/08/77 – Tough one.  Loser isn’t a song I’m typically looking for in a set, although it is one that is fun to play on the guitar, so I know why Jerry played it.  I have to admit that this one I didn’t choose so much for the performance of the song, but for the show itself.  If you follow the music, then you know this date pretty well, and this version just happens to be very tight and powerful.  LISTEN
  • Candyman – 10/14/80 – This too is a tough one.  Candyman is not the first song that comes to mind, but I do know that I like those early Brent versions of the song because of his ability to carry the harmony.  This is a nice quiet version of the song with a very laid-back pace to it.  LISTEN
  • Stella Blue – 10/14/83 – This is the last easy one on the list.  You’re either a Stella Blue fan or you aren’t, and I happen to be one, and I can say that I don’t know of a single other performance of this one that combines the loneliness and eeriness of the front end of this song with such a warm and redemptive ending.  Unfortunately, the AUD does not capture it like the SBD.  Update:  Well, it looks like you get the AUD you wanted; the concert has been released as a Dick’s Picks edition.  LISTEN
  • Goin’ Down the Road Feelin’ Bad – 02/20/71 – First of all, I love this one because it is the meat in a Not Fade Away sandwich, but the thing that makes this one smoke is how they work it out after the And We Bid You Goodnight instrumental part.  Truly a one-of-a-kind version as far as I’m concerned.  The Lovelight screams too.  LISTEN
  • Throwing Stones – 10/09/89 – This one’s a bit tough for me because I think of it more as a setup tune than anything else-a kind of appetizer to the main course.  Having said that though, I’ve always liked this one mainly because it carries the mood of this show into the final number.  It also happens to be one of my absolute favorite shows ever.  Talk about intensity.  That Dark Star is a monster.  LISTEN 

I loved doing this, but I’ve got songs that I’m curious to know what you think about.  If you are reading, please try and come up with some dates to put next to the following songs: 

  • Cumberland Blues
  • Dark Star
  • Let it Grow
  • Shakedown Street
  • Jack Straw
  • Black Peter
  • China>>>Rider
  • Cassidy
  • Sugaree
  • Viola Lee Blues
  • Uncle John’s Band

 Proving once again that we do more than just show you the best deals in the Phoenix real estate market; we show you how to get the most out of living in Arizona, and try to help you get the most out of what you are listening to.

Album Spotlight of the Week: The Steps

 The Steps

I’ve been listening to this album now for about the last 2 months and simply haven’t had an opportunity to review it, so here goes…finally.

We were asked to take a listen to this one by Ryan Cano, owner of The Loyalty Firm, and since it’s hard for us to turn down free music, how could we resist? …especially when he keeps sending us music like this (thanks Ryan, and keep it coming).

The Steps self-titled debut album sounds like less of a debut and more of an encore.  The songs definitely have a pop-friendly sound without sacrificing either substance or form.  They seem to work from a fairly standard song structure, but overlay some interesting chord changes and progressions that help twist this structure into something that makes them difficult to classify.  There is an edge to their music that is genuine rather than manufactured, and in an age where it has become increasingly difficult to tell whether a band REALLY looks or sounds the way they do, or if they’ve been told they should look and sound that way by some focus group, it is nice to see and hear the real thing.

Rather than just run through the album song by song, I’ll just say that there is plenty here for everyone.  There are lots of different sounds and influences that have been twisted and turned into something that is both current and relevant, and ultimately, something that I would recommend listening to.  It is easy to tell that their touring in Japan and the U.K. have helped to hone them into a very tight bunch in the studio, and that’s important to me –  anyone can sound great in the studio, but if you haven’t been tested on the road, you are just a one-dimensional studio band.  The recording quality, something I’m especially critical of, is also crisp and well-produced with plenty of punch, and it sounds great in the car. 

Enough talk, if you are interested in listening to the album go to The Steps MySpace page, or you can buy it on iTunes.  Give ’em a listen, or go check them out live – when you are on their page, check out their tour schedule.  They sound great in the studio, but I can tell you that I for one will go see them live the next time they’re in town.

Proving once again that we are the guys who talk about more than just Phoenix real estate; we talk about the things we enjoy and the things we have a passion for, and we hope that, at the very least, you can see that.  We invite you to comment or to suggest other topics about which we have perhaps not yet spoken.  Thanks again for listening

Album Spotlight of the week: The Police “Zenyatta Mondatta”

 

zenyatta-mondatta1

 

The Police’s 1980 release “Zenyatta Mondatta“, thier third studio album, is when the band really hit their stride.  On this album they broke from what remained of their punk influences and incorporated more world beats and sounds as in songs like “Behind My Camel” and “Bombs Away”.

Although the album was rushed due to tour time constraints The Police exhibit their musical prowess and songwriting skills more so on this album than their previous two releases.  The singles “Don’t Stand So Close to Me” and “De Doo Doo Doo De Da Da Da” were the standout songs on the album, but like any classic album it’s the deep track songs that really make it a standout.  “Driven to Tears”, “When the World is Running Down” and “Man in a Suitcase” are some of The Police’s finest tunes and stand up to any preceding or succeeding tracks from their other albums.

Every band hits a point in their careers where everything starts to click.  For some it’s short lived.  Zennatta Mondatta marked the beginning of a fabulous run of three incredible albums for The Police.