Since September 2010, this blog has recorded the journey of this middle-aged man as I attempt to listen to all the music in my CD collection. CDs revisited in their entirety from start to finish - no skipping tracks, no shuffle. CDs only - no vinyl, no tapes, no downloads. And just as CD technology (and the album format itself) becomes obsolete. I'm no music critic, just a music junkie with too much time on my hands.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Earl Klugh - Move (1994)

Klugh's 17th(!) studio album finds his acoustic guitar stylings once again bringing pleasure to these ears of mine. There's some odd production and arrangement choices that somewhat date the tunes here. And who put vocals on a Klugh album?? That's out of character for Klugh, but that doesn't mean that's it's a bad album, just different.  It all makes for an album that doesn't get heard from top-to-bottom very often, but fits in nicely in Klugh tune shuffles, which soundtrack my mornings more often than I'll admit.

Peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart: Did not chart
Peak on Billboard's Jazz LPs chart: #6

Tracks: My favorites are the Far From Home, The Highway Song, Winter Rain, and the funk-lite of Nightwalk. A few of the tunes have a pseudo-African 'Lion King' vibe to them, i.e. Across The Sand (pts 1 & 2), Tiptoein'.

Personal Memory Associated with this CD: None

Previously revisited for the blog:
Midnight in San Juan (1991)
The Best of Earl Klugh (1991)
Volume One (1991)
Collaboration (1987)
Soda Fountain Shuffle (1985)
Two of a Kind (1982)
Late Night Guitar (1980)
Finger Paintings (1977)/Heart String (1979)/Wishful Thinking (1984)

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Norman Brown - After The Storm (1994)

An hour of vintage '90s smooth jazz that sounds as good today as it did 23 years ago. (To be honest, the genre hasn't changed much in a long while, a fact that doesn't bother me much.) Brown is an excellent writer and guitarist and his skills are showcased well in these 12 tracks. If the local radio station isn't playing any Norman Brown during its Sunday morning "Jazz Brunch" broadcast, find a new station.

Cash Box, June 18, 1994, p. 13

Peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart: #140
Peak on Billboard's R&B albums chart: #21
Peak on the US Billboard Top Contemporary Jazz Albums chart: #2

Tracks: A good album from top to bottom - don't miss any tracks, even the track where Brown sings (It Costs To Love) ain't bad. The most recognizable cut to my ears is the cover of the Isley Brothers' For The Love Of You; there's also nice covers of Luther Vandross' Any Love and Janet Jackson's That's The Way Love Goes; the latter was released as a single. My other picks today are Take Me There, Let's Come Together, and El Dulce Sol.

Personal Memory Associated with this CD: None

Previously revisited for the blog:
West Coast Coolin' (2004)
Groovin' (2002) (with BWB)
Celebration (1999)

Friday, April 21, 2017

Genesis - Invisible Touch (1986)

Note: this release was originally purchased as a cassette tape, later replaced by a CD

A hugely popular album in which 5 of its 8 tracks were top 5 pop hits, including the group's only US #1 hit, the title track. I played the heck outta my cassette in '86, so when I recently saw this CD in a used bin, I thought I'd pick it up to remind myself of the other three tracks. Plus, it's a great road trip album and I've been on the road a bit more than usual of late.

Robert Christgau gave it a C+, but Patrick Bateman calls the album the group's "undisputed masterpiece." (NSFW)

On a side note, that's one of the worst album cover designs ever put out by Assorted iMaGes. And it got worse...

Billboard, June 6, 1987
click to enlarge

Peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart: #3

SongHot 100AC Rock
Invisible Touch131
Throwing It All Away 411
Land of Confusion     4
Tonight, Tonight, Tonight 389
In Too Deep     3134

While the singles are more like Phil Collins' solo stuff (particularly In Too Deep), there are a few times when the group's prog-rock beginnings* are allowed to peep through on songs like Domino. Also, I had forgotten than Tonight, Tonight, Tonight was actually a 9 minute cut with an extended middle section edited out of the single version. I also forgot how much I liked the album closer, an Miami Vice soundtrackish instrumental titled The Brazilian.

Personal Memory Associated with this CD: see this previous post. I suppose I found much refuge in the music of 1986 because my job was so terrible. Still, I wouldn't trade that summer for anything.

Previously revisited for the blog:
Turn It On Again: The Hits - The Tour Edition (2007)
Duke (1980)

*I want credit for not using the phrase "the group's prog-rock genesis"

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Chuck Mangione - Classics, Volume 6 (1987)

A "best of" compilation, covering the flugelhornist's years on the A&M label (1975-82). These were his most commercially successful years; I myself became a fan in '78 as I was just learning to play trumpet while Chuck was hitting #4 on the pop chart with "Feel So Good." Bonus points for using the longer cuts rather than the single edits.

Peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart: Did not chart

Tracks: I dig 'em all and have for years. The Grammy voters seemed to like his stuff, too.
  1. Feels So Good (#4 pop, #1 AC) - from the Feels So Good album (1977). Mangione's signature tune, it was nominated for a Grammy Award for Record of the Year, losing out to Billy Joel's Just the Way You Are.
  2. Hill Where The Lord Hides (original version #76 pop, #32 AC) - from the live album Tarentella (1981). Original version appears on Friends & Love...A Chuck Mangione Concert, which was nominated for a Grammy Award in 1971.
  3. Bellavia (#49 AC) - title track from the Bellavia album (1975). Grammy winner for Best Instrumental Composition.
  4. Fun And Games (#49 AC) - title track from the Fun And Games album (1980), which was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Jazz Fusion Performance, losing out to Birdland by The Manhattan Transfer.
  5. Children of Sanchez Theme (#44 AC) - title track from the soundtrack album for Children of Sanchez (1978). The tune won the Grammy Award for Best Pop Instrumental Performance. 
  6. Land Of Make Believe (#86 pop, #44 AC) - from the live album An Evening of Magic: Live at The Hollywood Bowl (1979) - my personal favorite album of Mangione. The tune was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Pop Instrumental Performance.
  7. Give It All You Got (#18 pop, #1 AC) - from the Fun And Games album (1980). ABC commissioned this tune to be used as the official theme of the 1980 Winter Olympics, held in Lake Placid, New York. The song was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Composition, losing out to composer John Williams and his score to the film The Empire Strikes Back.
  8. Chase The Clouds Away - title track from the Chase The Clouds Away album (1975). The tune was nominated for two Grammy Awards: Best Instrumental Composition and Best Pop Instrumental Performance, losing to Michel Legrand's Images and Van McCoy's The Hustle, respectively.
  9. Cannonball Run Theme - taken from the movie soundtrack of The Cannonball Run (1981). The track later appeared on his 1982 album 70 Miles Young.
  10. Doin' Everything With You - taken from the Main Squeeze album (1976).

Personal Memory Associated with this CD: None. Just purchased the disc for the (admittedly bland) Cannonball Run Theme. If I've seen that movie in its entirety, I don't remember it. Never seen the Children of Sanchez movie, either.

Land Of Make Believe has been a staple of marching band shows for almost 40 years. I've personally taught marching drill to that song twice myself.

Previously revisited for the blog:
Everything For Love (2000)
An Evening of Magic: Live at The Hollywood Bowl (1979)
Feels So Good (1977)
Land Of Make Believe (1973)

Saturday, April 15, 2017

George Benson - Big Boss Band feat. The Count Basie Orchestra (1990)

In the words of George Benson (From the liner notes): "In 1983, I made a promise to the late Count Basie to record with his band an album such as this." Benson assumes the role of both singer and guitarist with the Basie band, everybody brings their A game, and this listener is happy.

Billboard, Sept. 22, 1990, p. 74

Also notable as Benson's debut as sole producer of an album.

Peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart: Did not chart
Peak on Billboard's Top Jazz Albums chart: #3

Tracks: I prefer the tracks that feature Benson's fretwork, such as Ready Now That You Are, On Green Dolphin Street, and Basie's Bag, the latter of which won the Grammy award for Best Jazz Instrumental Performance, Big Band. Also noteworthy are Skylark and Walkin' My Baby Back Home.  I can't figure out the inclusion of Baby Workout unless they wanted a marketable crossover single. That song doesn't even include the Basie band. I dig the tune (especially Benson's solo), it just doesn't seem to fit the album.

Personal Memory Associated with this CD: None - this was a recent pickup from a used bin.

Previously revisited for the blog:
Givin' It Up (2006) (w/Al Jarreau)
Best Of: The Instrumentals (1997)
Collaboration (1987) (w/Earl Klugh)
20/20 (1985)
The George Benson Collection (1981) 
Give Me The Night (1980)
Breezin' (1976)
The Other Side of Abbey Road (1970)

Friday, April 14, 2017

The Manhattan Transfer - Tonin' (1994)

An uncontentious covers album.  From Allmusic:
The idea on Tonin' was to turn the Manhattan Transfer loose on a baker's dozen* of good old 1960s pop and R&B hits in league either with the original artists or prominent guests from that period and beyond. And yes, it's a stellar list, guaranteed to stir warm and fuzzy memories, and the tunes echo the old lament of an earlier age, "They don't write songs like they used to."
*[sic] the CD contains 12, not 13 tracks.

So there's no complaint about the material, but I will complain about some questionable arranging choices. The dated arranging and production leave no doubt about the fact this was a mid-'90s release. It's not exactly a waste of the group's vocal talents, but it ain't no showcase, neither. Makes me long for the scattershot variety of the group's early albums. And, like most covers albums, this CD leaves you wanting to hear the original tunes.

Peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart: #123

Tracks: The better cuts are Groovin' with Felix Cavaliere, La-La Means I Love You with Laura Nyro, and an a capella version of God Only Knows. You'll want to skip I Second That Emotion with Smokey Robinson, Save The Last Dance For Me with Ben E. King, and the cover of The Association's Along Comes Mary. The other tracks contain strong contributions from the likes of B.B. King and Chaka Khan, but their efforts are sadly wasted.

Personal Memory Associated with this CD: Bought it. Sold it. Then it returned again in a lot of used CDs. Guess I'm stuck with it now.

Previously revisited for the blog:
Man-Tora! Live In Tokyo (1996)
The Christmas Album (1992)
The Offbeat of Avenues (1991)
Brasil (1987)
Vocalese (1985)
Bodies and Souls (1983)
Mecca For Moderns (1981)
Extensions (1979)

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Various Artists - California Soul: Funk & Soul From The Golden State 1967-1976 (2016)

UK Import

A fine compilation of soul tunes, many never before released in any format. Excellent liner notes from Dean Rudland, who also compiled the disc. I couldn't find much information on many of these acts, sadly.

Unfortunately for my retirement accounts, this is the sort of disc that gets me scrambling for others like it.

Peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart: Did not chart

Tracks: All tracks were new to me (and delightfully so), but I've marked a few favorites with a ✔.
(22 tracks, 67 minutes)

Choice Of  ColorsIf She Wants To Go1974
The Entertainers IV Just Ain't My Day1968
Brenda George What You See Is What You're Gonna Get1971
Union Strike1970
Z.Z. Hill Think People1971
Little Johnny Hamilton & The Soul Pack The Git Down (Part 1)1967
Little Johnny Hamilton & The Soul Pack The Git Down (Part 2)1967
Calif. Soul Explosion The Feeling1973
Jesse & Anita The Man (Y'all Keep On Watching You)1973
Chucky Thurmon Thank You For The Party1976
The Soul Sensations When I Had You, Baby1973
The Ballads Butterfly1975
The Natural Resources Unpolluted Funky With My Stuff1971
Eddie Horan I'm Gonna Speak Out1973
Little Denise Check Me Out1975
Warm Excursion (Terrible Three) Hang Up (Part 1)1970
Johnny Talbot & De-Thangs Pickin' Cotton1970
Alvin Robinson Tuned In, Turned On1969
Eleanor Rigby Is It Worth It All1975
The Douzer The Sneak1970
Vernon Green & The Medallions You Don't Know (The Damage You've Done)1973
Rulie Garcia Earthquake1971

All this for $10.99? Such a deal.

Personal Memory Associated with this CD: I saw this ad on the television:

I was in the middle of a Northern Soul phase and was immediately captivated by the bassline and sparse but funky chorus. I spent hours online trying to figure out what the song was because my phone apps weren't recognizing it. Once I discovered it was "Check Me Out" by Little Denise (Stevenson), found it on this disc and immediately ordered it.