Monday, December 24, 2012

John Lennon - "Imagine"

I had originally wrote about John Lennon's "Plastic Ono Band" album for what would have been his 70th birthday in 2010 here is a link to that post

Lennon's second solo album "Imagine" was released in 1971 and became a number one hit. Again produced by Phil Spector who is able to incorporate more of his Wall of Sound techniques than he was on the previous "Plastic Ono Band" album.

"Imagine" finds Lennon moving toward the political activism that would comprise his next album "Sometimes in New York City" and his public life for much of the early 1970s.

The title track has become his signature tune and will always be a spectacular plea for peace and understanding that, for me, never gets old. It is Lennon being the master musician but also pushing a slightly political agenda. On my car I have a bumper sticker that reads "You may say I'm a dreamer but I'm not the only one."

"I don't Wanna be a Soldier" and "Gimme Some Truth" are straight forward political songs obviously protesting the Vietnam War and the latter calling out politicians. Despite the ranting lyrics (particularly on the latter track), Lennon is such a strong musician he makes them catchy.

The rest of the album focuses on confessional songs similar in content to "Plastic Ono Band." Yet where that album was raw and bare, the songs here are given smooth sweeping arrangements that slightly mask their raw emotions. "Crippled Inside" is a mix of two faced politicians and Lennon's own pain with his winking off-center humor. "Jealous Guy" is a beautiful apology (possibly to Yoko Ono) set to sweeping strings. "How Do you Sleep" is a snarling through gritted teeth confrontation with Paul McCartney (but Lennon later said the song was a way to separate himself from the Beatles). "It's So Hard," "How?" and "Oh My Love" are simple quiet emotions and would have fit well on his previous album.

This is a great album, especially for Lennon fans. The version I have has a lot of photographs and lyrics in the CD booklet. Thank you John for another gift of music

For Christmas 2012 lets imagine all the people living life in peace and the world as one. Merry Christmas Everyone.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Led Zeppelin - "The Best of"

"Been a Long time since a Rock and Roll" post.
After a long unintentional absence The Music Man has returned. Nice to see you all again.

Picking up where my alphabetical listings stopped about a month ago. (Last post was Carole King, check it out). Coincidentally my next album is Led Zeppelin who received a Kennedy Center honor this year.

My Led Zeppelin "Best of" collection was made for me by a gorgeous ballet dancer that was very special to me for a time, but I sadly have not seen her in many years. Anyway she and I used to trade music and she made me what she claimed was the perfect Led Zeppelin collection and I am inclined to agree. At the time the group had only released an expensive Box Set and "Early/Later Days" (the later of which was an affordable two disc set but poorly selected, no "Ramble On" what the hell?). So she made a wonderful two disc collection for me. She picked it pretty well because a few years later Zeppelin came out with "Mothership" an excellent greatest hits collection that is basically identical to the one my ballerina friend made me.

First off I want to say I enjoy a number of Zeppelin songs, "Over the Hills and Far Away" is my favorite, and the albums "Led Zeppelin II," "Led Zeppelin IV," and "Houses of the Holy" are very good. I am not a Zeppelin obsessive that thinks they are the greatest band ever, I think they are very good though.

Zeppelin make great guitar riffs, Robert Plant's vocals, and John Paul Jones is one of the best bass players out there. There is not much I can say about Zeppelin that has not been said already if you enjoy 1970s rock and have not checked them out you probably should. Pick up the compilation "Mothership" or the three album I mentioned in the paragraph above. If you are looking for they live performance (with excess jams that last 30 minutes!) check out "How the West Was Won" triple CD live album.

Well hope all is well and next time we will talk about John Lennon's "Imagine" see you then.