My New Critic's Picks on HDtracks
Lisa Hershfield of HDtracks asked for a new list of 10 Picks from the ever-expanding HDtracks catalog. I happily obliged and you can see them here.
My old list, which was replaced by my new list is still near and dear to me so I've reproduced it here for posterity. You'll notice that this list puts sound quality after music quality.
The Animals, The Animals Retrospective (ABKCO Records)
Eric Burden and the Animals and later Eric Burden and War laid down some serious American-infused blues-tinged hard rockin R&B with as much Brit and grit as the next best guys. This "Retrospective" delivers a sizable chunk of goodness.
The Birthday Party, Hits (4AD)
I'm not typically a fan of "Hits" records but I'll make an exception for this collection from The Birthday Party. Seeds of Nick Cave's later efforts are scattered around these songs in broken, shattered shards showing signs of influence ranging from Franz Kafka to Iggy and the Stooges and everything in between.
Eric Dolphy, Out There (Prestige Records)
Eric Dolphy (flute, bass clarinet, alto saxophone, soprano clarinet), Ron Carter (bass, cello), George Duvivier (bass), and Roy Haynes (drums) from 1960 and Dolphy's 2nd album as leader. About as out there as anything you're likely to hear if you listen in.
Lou Harrison, Chamber & Gamelan Works (New World Records)
Worldly music with a backbone, Lou Harrison's chamber and gamelan works collected here were written over 3 decades (1942 - 1979) and include many cultural influences yet ring out with a clear, unified and beautifully timeless voice.
Isaac Hayes, Hot Buttered Soul (Stax Records)
Do I really need to say much more? Maybe these track lengths seem a bit long coming in on average around 12 minutes, and they may even seem a bit drawn out at times but I think the idea is you'll find something else to occupy your time at the same time. Hot, buttered soul from 1969.
John Lee Hooker, It Serves You Right To Suffer (MCA Special Products)
John Lee Hooker recorded about a million albums or so and every one is worth your time. Part of "The new wave of folk is on Impulse!" series, jazz producer extraordinaire Bob Thiele backs up John Lee Hooker with some serious jazz session musicians (Barry Galbraith - guitar, Milt Hinton - bass, Panama Francis - drums, William Wells - trombone on "Money", and Billy Preston - piano on "It Serves You Right to Suffer") and they cook up something slow and steady to satisfy your (suffering) soul.
Mississippi Fred McDowell, Mississippi Fred McDowell (Rounder Records)
American roots music at its roots. Fred McDowell could shake and slide around six strings like nobody's business and even though he rocked and rolled, McDowell was clear that he didn't play no rock and roll. These songs were captured by Dick Spottswood at McDowell's home in 1962 and they sound meaner, leaner, and fresher than a rolling stone.
Jimmy Scott, All The Way (Rhino/Warner Bros.)
The great lost and found of great musicians sure re-found a great one when Jimmy Scott sang at Doc Pomus' funeral in 1991. Listen to his version of Cole Porter's "Ev'ry Time We Say Goodbye" and you'll hear much more than a song.
Sun Ra, Super-Sonic Jazz (Evidence Records)
Recorded in 1956 at RCA Studios, Chicago, Sun Ra and his Arkestra offer up a delectable feast for all six of your senses blasting swing jazz and hard bop into space (which is the place).
Various Artists, Raw Pre-war Gospel (1926-36): American Primitive, Volume 1 (Revenant Records)
If you want to learn about music's power to transcend, start here. John Fahey and Dean Blackwood's Revenant Records Raw Pre-war Gospel (1926-36) features Blind Mamie Forehand, Bo Weavil Jackson, Blind Willie Davis and many more from the age of the 78 and still more than capable of stirring up the power and the glory.