Lovely Recordings: Hosted By Gary D'Amato

My musical tastes changed drastically on August 12, 1972 while at Madison Square Garden for Jethro Tull: we were sitting way down front, center stage, maybe 15 rows back in great seats salivating for Tull. The opening act was a band I had never heard, nor heard of, ROXY MUSIC. Long story short, a friend looked over at me after they did a short 30 minute show, and said, "Fuck Tull".

Japan: Tin Drum (Virgin Records, 1981)
The band was accused, early in their career, of being wannabe Duran Durans, but they quietly and rather quickly evolved into one of the most innovative and experimental groups of the 80's. This is their swansong and I click on it every now and then to enjoy the music and the recording. Mick Karn, who died too young, had become a remarkable figure playing fretless bass, and it shows here. The surviving members went on their paths, David Sylvian following the experimental muse, Richard Barbieri and Steven Jansen joining Steven Wilson for Porcupine Tree.

Available from PonoMuusic.

Cat Stevens: Tea for The Tillerman (A&M, 1970)
As a 192-24 download this masterpiece has been elevated to a new aural and emotional high. What more can possibly be said of this? I just get lost in this one.

Available from HDTracks.

Brian Eno: Another Green World (Island, 1975)
Eno-any of the first four albums of his vocal phase, but I will concentrate on my favorite and one considered his masterpiece by critics, in later years, Another Green World. This has been at the top of my Desert Island Disc List since I first put it on a TT as an import from Jem (remember them) in 1975. The drums and bass of the opener "Sky Saw" still send a chill though me. Robert Fripp soars on one of the great rock guitar solos on "St Elmo's Fire". Phil Collins is lockstep on drums, not a wasted note on the entire record. Perfect example of how Eno played the studio as his instrument, a non-musician, but it was his instrument. The record that lead me to so many new musical pathways. Hard to believe it sold a mere 5,000 copies in it's first year.

Available from PonoMusic.

10cc: The Original Soundtrack (Mercury, 1975)
The peak of their output, and another great record from 1975. Side one is nearly flawless, with great songwriting, playing and, of course, production. I still think 10cc released some of the best produced and engineered records of the '70's. If I can recall, through the hazy past, I remember reading this was recorded on an 8 track machine. Records like this still prove you do not need 32 tracks or 880 tracks to make a killer recording. Each member was a formidable songwriter, musician, producer and engineer. Talk about keeping it in-house. As cinematic as it is musical.

Available from PonoMusic.

Joanna Newsom: Ys (Drag City, 2006)
When I first listened to this, I froze in my tracks, started it over and proceeded to listen to it 3 times start to finish. People this young are not supposed to produce works of such magnitude. I made it my mission to introduce as many of my friends and acquaintances to her music as I could. My kids couldn't get past her voice and the youngest nicknamed her Rat Lady. Fast forward and today she adores her. I gave my vinyl copy (and I no longer had a table mind you) to a friend who was going to be demoing speakers at CES and I remember reading Stephan Mejias blurb about following the sound down the halls to the Audes room.

Her latest is nearly as impressive, but she is getting a little repetitive, how many near masterpieces must we put up with? The new one features a collaboration with a young composer my GF and I adore, Nico Muhly. Check out his 2006 debut, Speaks Volumes. I got to see this at one of the first Wordless Music shows and have followed him since.

Available from Drag City.

Robert Plant & Allsion Krauss: Raising Sand (Rounder, 2007)
This record left me speechless when I first listened to it. We all know of Plant's legacy and I have seen Allison Krauss and Union Station a few times and think she is one of the greatest singers this country has to offer and then she picks up her violin. It all came together on this record. Glad it was a one off as it makes it that much more special. The drum sound that Burnett got out of the vintage kit played by Jay Bellerose is haunting and they got the same sound live when I saw the revue in NYC. All the instruments sound so amazing that you cannot help but putting this record on again and again. The 96-24 download is clean and tight.

Available from HDtracks.

801: 801 Live (Expression, 1976)
A side project of Roxy Music guitar god, Phil Manzanera, this was the outcome of three days of shows for a benefit. With co-horts like Eno and drummer Simon Phillips, this turned out to be one of the great live records in memory (up there with Waiting For Columbus, and even besting it, imo). The selection of originals and cover tunes was a stroke of brilliance. Eno's live versions of "Baby's On Fire" and "Miss Shapiro" are still as fresh sounding now as they were on his first solo record (he sounds like he is having fun), and the closer of The Kinks, "You Really Got Me", is way out of left field. The entire band sounds like they were having a blast that night and the recording, courtesy of the Stones' Mobile, is crisp and open. Listen to the triplets of Simon Phillips kick drum on the closer, so fast the squeak of the pedal is heard. Love this disc.

Available from PonoMusic.

Elvis Costello and The Attractions: Armed Forces (Radar, 1979)
In any era, an artist or band that drops 4, 5, or 6, 5 star records from the go is OK in my book, and Costello was/is that kind of artist and The Attractions were one of the best backing bands I have ever heard or seen over and over. I was lucky to be at his first NYC gig in The Bottom Line and we sat there with our jaws on the table and since have seen him more than any other artist. Lyrically he was untouchable now, spewing vitriol and paranoia with glee and spitting one liners that would stop you in your tracks. Producer Nick Lowe captured the sound of a band live and, being a bass player, made the notes of Bruce Thomas heard as they need to be. Thomas' bass lines were a signature of the Attractions sound and his upper fret work is stupefying. This was more of a group record than the first two and Steve Neive' painted pictures with his keyboard work. Listen to this one all the way through. I could go on and on about this record and the songwriting, but just listen to it. May be the closest thing that generation had to Dylan.

Available from PonoMusic.

Philip Glass: Koyaanisqatsi (Original Soundtrack) (Antilles/Island, 1983)
This combines great composing, recording, musicianship and spirituality. One of those records you remember where you were when you first watched the film from start to finish. I ran out to buy the soundtrack the day after seeing this in a theater. I take it out at least once a year to admire the beauty of it all. I had the honor to hear this as a work in progress at Franklin Furnace in Tribeca. The Philip Glass Ensemble use to go there to work on new pieces, and one could sit on the floor for free to watch and listen.. I loved that place in Tribeca, now long gone. The ensemble had a reunion a couple of years back to perform this piece live as the film played on the big screen in Prospect Park. If you can find the film watch it, but the soundtrack more than stands on it's own.

Available from PonoMusic.

A native New Yorker, 60 years on, still with an open ear to music. Surveyor for communication systems and fiber runs by day, music lover by night (and anytime I can fit it in). I was weaned on classic rock like Zep, The Who, Jethro Tull, and the other usual suspects. My older sister gave me the backgorund in doo wop, acapella, and Motown, while my folks played Dorsey, James, Sinatra, Dinah Washington et al.

Since that day in 1972 at MSG, I followed Roxy Music and it's members, especially Eno, and found all sorts of new things and composers and players along the way. I may not have listened to Philip Glass if not the for this experience, and from him I learned of his arranger, Nico Muhly. The most important bands of the last 25 years, and this is only my opinion: Wilco and Radiohead.

As I tell my kids, 95% of pop, rock and rap suck, but you need to keep an open mind to find that other 5% that can be intoxicating and influential. My favorite new recent artists include Kendrick Lamar, Flying Lotus, Kamasi Washington, and Joanna Newsom, though you can still hear AC-DC or the Pistols blasting from my windows now and then. Oh yeah, I have a very entry level system: Saxon Electronics A-700 intergrated, Schitt Bifrost and Audes Blues.

Share your Lovely Recordings with us!

dbtom2's picture

Just a shout to confirm a outstanding selection. (I will have to give a first listen to 801 Live.) Loved the stories.

jrhud's picture

Familiar with all but Japan and 801, will check them out.

jky999's picture

Excellent selections! Many Thanks. If you like Wilco, why no love for Uncle Tupelo? Still Feel Gone has to be one of the better albums of addiction ever.

mskaye's picture

how can anyone argue with the inclusion of ANOTHER GREEN WORLD? it's an LP that transcends time and genres and gets better every time you hear it.

Johnny2Bad's picture

Your Spill Chucker did you a dis-service; "now" is of course spelled correctly; too bad it's the wrong "now".

" ... Robert Plant & Allsion Krauss: Raising Sand (Rounder, 2007)
This record left me speechless when I first listened to it. We all now of Plant's legacy and I have seen Allison Krauss and Union Station a few times and think she is one of the greatest singers ..."

Aaah, the awesome 801 Live. Truly one of the greatest albums of the 70's, nobody bought it, extremely rare to find an original vinyl. I'm impressed to find someone else even knows of it.