So, with the new iPod, I've been re-listening to a lot of old stuff from my collection during work. Nothing livens up examining bank reconciliations or cancelled checks like listening to William S. Burroughs read from Naked Lunch, the Birthday Party or Albert Ayler. Here's a few random observations on stuff that I've taken another listen-to via the iPod. (I realize most of these topics have been beaten to death by the music criticerati, but what do you want for free?)
- I like the Jefferson Airplane (not a popular opinion in many circles, admittedly), but man, is their recorded output ever divided equally between brilliant songs that still hold up and dated, stupid stoned crap. I still love "Comin' Back to Me," "Wild Tyme," "3/5 of a Mile in 10 Seconds" and the like. But "Lather?" "Have You Seen the Saucers?" I guess that's better than fucking we built this fucking city, but still.
- Spirit, on the other hand, holds up as well or better than any band of that era except for the dumb lyrics here and there. Consistently great songwriting by a tight band that judiciously used their instrumental breaks to build fully developed pieces instead of the pointless noodling that mars so much late 60's rock.
- My review of Pop Group's Y from a few month's back wasn't sufficiently laudatory. It's a great, classic album, and "We Are Time" is one of the five best songs ever by anybody.
- Love's Four Sail is an underrated classic, and almost but not quite as good as Forever Changes or Da Capo. The absence of Bryan MacLean hurts, but the songwriting is as consistently excellent as the more famous prior albums (although lacking a standout like "7 and 7 Is" or "Alone Again Or"). Check out "Robert Montgomery," one of the best hippie-bashing-squares songs ever.
- I still love Zen Arcade, but damn, is it ever emo. Now that I'm a quasi-adult without the aimless adolescent rage or all-encompassing self-pity and moodiness, it seems kind of over the top. We were really that angry and/or sad once?
- I think I've finally settled the debate that has torn families and friendships asunder, pitted brother against brother, and contributed to the breakdown of polite society. Neu! is slightly better than Neu 75, and Tago Mago is better than Ege Bamyasi. There, it's settled. Now let us never speak of it again.