Listening post

Yesterday morning I walked into the studio at work, and sat down at my desk like I always do.  Current studio music makes me feel like I work in a small. seriously, flashback to the time when I worked at a nail salon when I was 16 and the perma-tanned owner played Norah Jones constantly. She thought it was soothing. Meanwhile, I developed an eye tick, and still cringe every time I hear the opening bars of Come Away With Me.

Using Rolling Stone’s top 500 albums of all time (compiled in 2009), I’ve decided to spend the rest of the year getting a musical education, and hopefully improve the quality of my working day. I’m going to listen to every album in order, with no skipping or jumping about. To help me, I’ve finally downloaded Spotify, which I had been oddly resistant to using, but really, it’s MAGIC. (You know what else is magic? Noise-cancelling headphones – a brilliant tip I gleaned from Introverts in ad agencies: a helpful guide.)

So, counting down from 500, here are the first three.

500. OutKast, ‘Aquemini’

OutKast, 'Aquemini

My challenge got off to a strong start with OutKast’s third studio album, Aquemini. I really enjoyed this record. My top picks are the eponymous track, Synthesizer ft. George Clinton, and the hit single Rosa Parks. Hard to believe this came out in 1998! It feels so fresh, but I guess that’s OutKast for you – always riding their own wave.

499. B.B. King, ‘Live in Cook County Jail’

B.B. King - Live in Cook County Jail

1971 saw B.B. King and his guitar Lucille light up Cook County Jail (which is in Chicago as it turns out). The album is crisply recorded, and crackles with life – I love the cat calls of the prisoners. Can’t wait to give this one another whirl again soon…

498. The Stone Roses, ‘The Stone Roses’

The Stone Roses, The Stone Roses

You know what, I didn’t really care for this album at all, aside from ‘Fool’s Gold‘, but who doesn’t like that song? I’m having flashbacks to Pop Up Video and its One Hit Wonders episode.

That said, the John Squires designed cover is great! The painting is a reference to the May 1968 riots in Paris. Stone Roses lead singer Ian Brown met a Frenchman while hitchhiking. This gentleman had been in the riots, and told Ian that lemons were used as an antidote to tear gas.

Isoceles flavour

I was cruising new album release lists, hoping to spend imaginary money/get some inspiration from album art. In doing so, I noticed a rather common theme…

CSS - Donkey
CSS – Donkey
Keane - Perfect Symmetry
Keane – Perfect Symmetry
Armin Van Buuren - A State of Trance 2008
Armin Van Buuren – A State of Trance 2008

Of course, there are some classic covers too!

Pink Floyd - The Dark Side of The Moon
Pink Floyd – The Dark Side of The Moon
Tomita - Bermuda Triangle
Tomita – Bermuda Triangle

YACHT, the muso, has a fine collection of mystery triangles… check out the jumper especially! I declare 2008 year of the Triangle. It’s more ‘alt’ than squares, harder and more aesthetically lined with the sounds we’re hearing.

The archives: Lee Hazlewood

I first heard the crooning of Lee Hazlewood while ensconced in the changing road of a K-Road boutique. However, at the time I was too wrapped up in trying on a complicated dress than to ask the shopkeeper who was currently riding the record player. Later that afternoon, a quick Google search for snow and buffaloes provided the goods.

After delving into his archives and checking out his musical history (why hadn’t I heard of him earlier?!), what struck me the most was Hazlewood’s sensational sense of style.

Hey there Lee Hazlewood

Here’s Lee and Nancy Sinatra performing ‘Some Velvet Morning’, for NBC’s television special “Movin’ With Nancy” in 1967.

Lee & Nancy

A man not afraid to accessorize (neither was Nancy!), Lee successfully modeled the Cyclops glasses, ruffles, the fleecy jacket, the handlebar moustache, aviators and cowboy chaps. A man of all trends, here’s to you, Lee!