11 thoughts on “music mmxxi

  1. I’ve been thinking a little more about the essence of rock n’ roll and how I distinguish this from rock. For rock n’ roll, three things came to mind:

    1. Crunchy electric guitars (or at least something that approximates that sound), but not too hard. This, as well as some of the other qualities (thumping drums), give the music an aggressive flavor, but not too aggressive.
    2. Strong ties to the blues.
    3. Accessible to a wide audience–e.g., catchy melodies, riffs, rhythms. Little or no characteristics that would alienate a mainstream listener.

    I think, for me, rock doesn’t necessarily need #1 and/or #2–maybe especially #2. Maybe rock can be thought of as rock-like music that move further and further away from the original forms of rock n’ roll?

    Pop would differ in that the aggressive sound might be even less. The music wouldn’t have much of a connection to the blues, I think. There would be a great emphasis on #3.

    Hard rock would be more aggressive. It may not be tied closely to the blues. Metal would be harder, and rhythmically and vocally it would be departing from rock n’ roll to a greater degree.

    Something like punk is a a more raw, unrefined rock n’ roll?

    OK, I’m just throwing things out there, now.

  2. I’m in a John Scofield mood now. “Sco” is a jazz guitarist. If someone asked me 80’s jazz musicians with most identifiable, original sounds, I think Sco would make the list. At the time I first encountered his playing, I was searching for jazz guitarists who incorporated Hendrix’s contributions. I also wanted to hear expansion of 70’s jazz, funk, and R&B. Scofield’s music incorporated all these element, but he did so in a more laid back, subtle way. So while I appreciated his singular voice, his music wasn’t one of my favorites, but when I’m in the mood for a more slow burn groove with improvisation, Scofield music does the trick.

    Here’s a sample. (I wasn’t listening to this clip, but after hearing a little I’m going to now–it sound really good.)

  3. I once heard a Fresh Air interview with Willie Nelson where Nelson sang some songs, accompanied by his guitar. I really liked his singing and playing, and I’ve been looking for recordings with just him and his guitar. Mitchell, do you know if he has any albums like that?

    1. No, but I agree that’s when he sounds the best, especially in his later years. Have you heard his 2020 album, That’s Life? Not solo acoustic guitar but pretty.

    2. I’m disappointed to hear that he doesn’t have such an album. I was hoping one existed, but just wasn’t on Apple music or youtube.

      I haven’t heard the 2020 album. Is there a lot of instrumentation. If he were playing in a small band, that might appeal to me.

      1. I got it wrong. “That’s Life” is his 2021 single. His 2020 album is First Rose of Spring and it’s at times spare and at times more orchestrated. And I’m not saying he doesn’t have a solo acoustic guitar album; I’m saying no I don’t know if he does.

  4. I was in a EWF mood, specifically, and a funk mood more broadly. I don’t think I’ve listened to entire albums of the former, not in one sitting, so I tried to do that today. Some general observations:

    • I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the songs that didn’t receive much air play. One big factor is the richness of the music. The horns are a big part of this, but the rhythm section, especially the bass, is really good. And then you have Maurice White’s voice, which is one of my favorites. Phillip Bailey then adds a nice contrast. For a R&B-pop group, there’s a lot going on musically and I love that.
    • The musical richness is where listening on good pair of headphones (or good sound system) can make a huge difference. On the former, the instruments are more separated and clear. Listening on a good system/headphones makes such a huge difference for music like this.
    1. All ‘n All (1977)

      Notes:

      • I really like this album, and I kinda like it as an album, not just the individual songs. I mostly listening to EWF stuff from a greatest hits box set, but I think they enjoy them more by listening to their albums. (I also listened to two others recently.)
      • Verdine White, the bassist and Maurice White’s brother, really stands out to me. At times he steals the show for me.
      • The musicianship and arrangements are also highlights.
      • Of course, Maurice White’s singing.
      • “Runnin'” is a solid (mostly) instrumental.
  5. The mood for R&B/funk continued so I listened to George Clinton’s Computer Games (1982). I listened to Clinton’s music many years ago, and it didn’t really grab me. This time around I liked what I heard, especially rhythm section and horns. I don’t know if he influenced Prince, or Prince influenced him, but there’s a Prince vibe on some of these tracks (including the use of timbales). His lyrics are kinda weird, which I guess is part of P-funk. (Parliament and Funkadelic were too groups that never really grabbed me, too.)

    1. Yeah isn’t it weird how a guy whose work is sampled by so many artists has never really put together a great, memorable playlist? That’s my take, anyway. The sampled bits are amazing in the contexts of their new songs. The sources not so much.

    2. I vaguely knew Clinton was sampled and popular among some musicians–this prompted me to check out his music initially. I wouldn’t go so far as saying the songs are great, but they’re not bad…Actually, it’s not so much the songs so much as the music and performance on the songs, if that makes sense.

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