10 albums in a meme

10 albums

At the end of April, I was drawn into a Facebook meme to post covers of 10 favorite album covers that are still on your playlist after years, one a day, no need for explanation. I’m a sucker for lists and, of course, I needed to explain.

I was surprised that the first one that sprang to mind was Judee Sill, but maybe not: Of all the albums I love that I wish other people loved, I think Judee’s may be the best, with Lazarus a close second, or at least the most deserving of attention.

Biggest surprise: That I could go through 10 favorite albums and not include Sgt. Pepper, which I have long considered The Best Album Ever. But everyone knows that album; I wanted the attention to go to music I would recommend to friends that maybe they’re not quite familiar with.

And so I posted, in no particular order: Continue reading


10 favorite songs on a given day

Good Vibrations label

Every year for a while now, I’ve participated in a poll at musicradio77.com to choose the top 77 songs of all time.

The site is devoted to the memory of ABC, the dominant Top 40 radio station in New York City at 770 AM while I was growing up in what is laughingly referred to as rural New Jersey. People vote on their favorite songs, which are posted the week after Christmas.

Some of my entries are always the same, while others change from year to year. I often do it off the top of my head, knowing I’ll remember one or more as soon as I irrevocably click “Submit.” This year I realized, too late, that I’d forgotten my favorite band, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, and that I had waxed poetically on several occasions recently about “Ripplin’ Waters.”

Whatever. Here is the list I submitted this year, a list of my favorite recordings on one snapshot of a day in late November 2017.

1. Good Vibrations – The Beach Boys

2. The Word – Sara Groves

3. Devil With A Blue Dress/Good Golly Miss Molly – Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels

4. Born On The Bayou – Creedence Clearwater Revival

5. While My Guitar Gently Weeps – The Beatles

6. (Just Like) Romeo and Juliet – The Reflections

7. Born To Run – Bruce Springsteen

8. Rockin’ Pneumonia and Boogie Woogie Flu – Johnny Rivers

9. I Think We’re Alone Now – Tommy James & The Shondells

10. You Just May Be The One – The Monkees

The one with the Beatles comparisons

uwabnrI gave a presentation about the Beatles to the Door County Historical Society on Monday night, and I had some technical difficulties when I tried to give a couple of examples of how the mono and stereo mixes of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club band were different. I said I’d post the old Uncle Warren’s Attic podcast when I made the same comparisons, and so here it is!

Click here to reach Uncle Warren’s Attic #8

The Sgt. Pepper stuff is in the first 8-9 minutes. Thanks for coming tonight!

Still Circlin’ Back with the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band

Circlin Back 2

Two years now, and the memory of that night still makes me smile.

I’ve had a handful of concert experiences that still leave me breathless remembering them – Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band back in 1984, the Brian Wilson band doing “Smile” – but the most exhilarating night of them all was Sept. 14, 2015, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and Friends at Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. The venue, the band, the performances, the crowd, all came together in the magical way that music can.

And how blessed we are to have a permanent video record – PBS turned it into an hourlong pledge drive feature with an extended DVD. Even though it’s not complete, the TV show captures the celebratory spirit of that night, when the band marked its 50th anniversary with some of the singers and songwriters they met on their journey. Continue reading

Hey, hey, we’re still listening

pleasant valley sunday

I flicked on the oldies station and there was Micky Dolenz singing “Pleasant Valley Sunday” same as he always did. It occurred to me, as stuff like this often does, that I was listening to what Micky and his colleagues did 50 years ago.

The Monkees were criticized, and often harshly, for not being authentic because they weren’t a “real” band – they were the Pre-Fab Four, a group of young men hired to portray the band in a TV show about a mythical band.

And yet, the music has endured for 50 years. The people who created The Monkees – and that includes the four musicians who were hired to be The Monkees – perceived one important fact: If you’re going to create a fantasy about a popular band, then the band’s music ought to be good enough to be popular. How often does the suspension of disbelief fail because the “popular band” in the story just isn’t that good?

Nope, The Monkees – especially those first four albums or so – made good music. Fifty-years-later-good music. Take that, non-believers.