Thursday, July 25, 2013

LIST: Uncle Rob's 'Top 10 Dylan'

My good pal Uncle Rob knew of my family emergency and offered some blog posts to keep Maritime Vinyl fresh. A big thanks to U-R for helping out! Take it away!


So if you don't mind obliging's my Dylan Top 10. I'll admit, shaving it down to 10 was hard, and from reading this, you'll no doubt realize that I'm a pretty big fan of Bringing It All Back Home and Highway 61 Revisited, which as far as back-to-back albums go is a pretty unbeatable one-two punch., what a year. I wish I could've been there.

#10 The Times They Are A-Changin (The Times They Are A-Changin, 1964) I think it's the most poetic of what would be considered his protest songs (although a strong case could be made for Blowin' In The Wind as well). It's about life, and decisions and figuring out not only who you are, but who you will become. Blowin’ In The Wind did ask some serious questions as well, but 'The Times' called for action, as the old guard was about to change and Dylan was rallying the troops.

#9 Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again (Blonde On Blonde, 1966)
This song ushered in Dylan's next direction after becoming one of the world's biggest pop stars. His focus would shift to the conversation between the hard times of the blues and the honesty of early country.

#8 Bob Dylan's 115th Dream (Bringing It All Back Home, 1965)
Was it the discovery of America, or a drunken shore-leave for Christopher Columbus...or both. Here Dylan is drawing from the storytelling style he picked up in coffeehouses, and hootenannies staged throughout "The Village in the early 60's and churning out a tonal poem of epic proportions. This could be considered the electric campanion piece to Motorpsycho Nightmare, which came out on Another SIde Of Bob Dylan in 1964.
The false start followed by an outburst of laughter at the beginning, makes me think that it would have been a blast to be in the studio when making this album

#7 Knockin On Heavens Door (Pat Garrett & Billy The Kid, 1973)Proving that, yes, Dylan COULD sing.

#6 Jokerman (Infidels, 1983)
I sure there are fans who will call for my head on a stick after saying this, but I honestly think it’s his last GREAT song.

#5 Tombstone Blues (Highway 61 Revisited, 1965)

#4 Subterranean Homesick Blues (Bringing It All Back Home, 1965)
This song has informed so much of what we listen to today. The machine gun lyrical delivery, could easily be a precursor to rap, with language propelling the rhythm. The mad scramble provided by the band easily could've signaled punk. If this song came out today, it would be huge. 46 years later, it hasn't aged a day.

#3 Desolation Row (Highway 61 Revisited, 1965)
The shortest 11 minute song you'll ever hear. I could listen to him sing about these poor creatures all day long.

#2 Like A Rolling Sone (Highway 61 Revisited, 1965)
One of those rare moments when a song becomes a historic moment.
For the ten years prior, Rock N Roll was just learning to walk on it's own, by the time of Like A Rolling Stone it was ready to leave home for good. Within a couple of years we went from Da Do Ron Ron, to words that had many meanings and interpretations.
A 6 minute #1 song in 1965 was enough of a rule breaker, but separate the channels and you'll hear some of the most ham fisted playing by musicians to ever reach the top slot. That alone makes it a landmark achievement. Like A Rolling Stone carried the responsibility of teaching us to think on our own, which was considered dangerous ground by many at the time. A new era, a new tomorrow and a new hope (as disillusioned as it could sometimes be) had officially arrived.

#1 It's All Over Now Baby Blue (Bringing It All Back Home, 1965)
When Dylan played the Newport Folk Festival the first two times, he and Baez were being groomed to carry the torch for the aging folk movement, but by his third appearance in 1965, he had already moved on and was ready to tackle new terrain. This time he brought electricity and threw the switch. History tells us that he was booed off the stage after a very short set. After being begged to come back to give the people what they wanted, Dylan chose this beauty. If it was one more song that they wanted, then it was going to say 'goodbye' with it. To the people who brought him to the party, he was no longer theirs, or anybodys for that matter, ever again. A 'kiss-off' has never sounded so bittersweet. Hands down, my favorite Dylan song.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

A place for digital music.

Ill be the first and last to defend vinyl record as the superior music medium. Those who know me see how much vinyl plays a huge part in my life. My home is organized around them, my weekly schedule is full of album reviews, research, sales and listening. I am lucky to have a family that supports a hobby I have so much passion for. 

Today; however,  I finally found a use for digital music. A long story short is that my father recently travelled to Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories for work. He is one of many Maritimers who struggle to find work locally and have to move away temporarily to make ends meet. 

I was happy to hear that he is coming home permanently at the end of August, just in time for my second daughter to be born. However, things may have changed. He fell down a steep slope while working and really busted himself up badly. So bad that he is in the hospital and can't even lay down as the fear it will cause more damage. So 12 hours after hearing the news I now find myself in a plane somewhere above Saskatchewan, on my way to be with my Dad. 

In my rush to get out the door I grabbed a handful of CD's for my travel (all Neil Young for some reason). However on my way to the airport it dawned on me that its not 1999 anymore and I won't be able to listen to these. 

My wife had recently purchased a $15 iTunes card so that she could  buy a 99 cent game. I remembered this at the airport and found the remaining $14 on my iTunes balance through my iPhone. 

What a flashback! Enough room for 11 songs and no more. Just like making a mixed tape as a teenager. This is all I will have to listen to for weeks so I wanted to make it count. A lot of thought went into 11 songs that will sooth my mood and comfort me through a difficult time. 

Here is my playlist: 
1- closing time - Leonard Cohen
2- hard sun - Eddie Vedder
3- I won't back down - Johnny Cash
4- Keep me in your heart - Warren Zevon
5- London's burning - the Clash
6- pretty vacant (live) - the Sex Pistols
7- rock and roll - Jerry lee Lewis feat. Jimmy Page
8- Roland the headless Thompson gunner - Warren Zevon
9- Space Oddity - David Bowie
10- sugar man - Rodriguez 
11- what kind of man are you - Ray Charles

The text will probably look weird and I'm sure there are lot of spelling errors and such. I'm typing this on notepad using my iPhone. 


Monday, July 15, 2013

Dawn and Marra - Teaspoons and Tablespoons - Review!

Who the hell are Dawn and Marra and when did they become the best damn musical duo in Canada? OK, that’s obviously personal opinion but their new album Teaspoons and Tablespoons has been on heavy rotation in my household for over a week and I’m still excited! Filled with eight powerful songs, strong vocals and unique musical arrangements, this album is a refreshing independent release with a unique sound.

Produced by Howard Redekopp (The New Pornographers, Tegan and Sara) this album sounds great. It was recorded nice and low leaving lots of room for sound dynamics which they use nicely. The opening track Wicked Little Girl is a great example of this, making great use of studio techniques. They use a loop filled with finger snaps and hand claps to get a truly original rhythm track. This builds up a solid base to the song, soon to be joined by chanting type lyrics and rumbling drums, all leading up to the heart of the song. It gives me chills when I hear it.

Another of my favorite songs would be Animal. Leaning more to a traditional folk song filled with powerful lyrics and vocals. I especially love when they break it down to just hand clapping and singing towards the end, building up to a strong finish of them singing “I am an Animal” loudly with the drums kicking in behind them. It’s one of those songs that leave a lasting impression.   

All this talent and originality, these girls must have been at this for decade’s right? Nope! Dawn is only 20 and Marra 18, proving that experience is not always necessary for a great album. Sometimes people just figure out how to do it right the first time (luck? Time will tell). Dawn and Marra are from Hamilton Ontario and have been writing and performing for a few short years. They perform new songs almost weekly, always leaving their fans anticipating the next gig. Dawn handles the majority of the song writing with Marra pitching in with great harmonies and backing vocals.

Labelled as their debut album, but I know they had another CD released a few years prior. Perhaps they consider that album a demo now, who knows. Call it what you will, Teaspoons and Tablespoons has tremendous strength and is an absolutely incredible release for these two young girls. To think that this is just them starting out, I can’t wait to hear more.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Rehan Dalal - Got To Feel It - review!

Ray Charles, Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder fill a large portion of my vinyl collection so when I read that up and coming soul singer Rehan Dalal had listed them as influences, he quickly gained my attention. Rehan was born in Bombay, India, but has migrated to Toronto, Ontario. Upon arriving in Canada, he learned to play guitar and began singing. With this new found passion for music and his natural talent, he just released his debut album Got To Feel It.  

Rehan’s back-up band gives the album a ‘big band’ feel, showcasing some absolutely incredible musicians on horns, strings, and funky guitars with complex drumming. My only quirk is that the back-up band is almost too good. The music is very polished, sounding as if these band members were just studio musicians. Money can buy anybody an incredible backup band which sometimes can mask any flaws that the primary artists have in their own abilities. Fortunately, this doesn’t seem to be the case on Got To Feel It; Rehan can stand his own ground, a fabulous singer with undeniable talent.  If my only negativity on this album is that it sounds too good, I think Rehan and his band must be doing something right.

Got To Feel It was released digitally June 25th (You can find it on iTunes). Ok, I can understand that digital is the audio medium world that we are living in, but where do you find the liner notes? Who wrote these songs? Who are the musicians? Perhaps I’m just an analog guy stuck in the middle of a digital world so this information may be readily available, but I could not easily find it.

Overall, I am very pleased with this album. It has ten great songs filled with incredible musicians and soul singing. If you’re a fan of the older Motown artists, this new album should be a welcome addition to your collection. Canadian soul music is definitely not mainstream, so it’s a refreshing change to see some new faces. Rehan came out full force with Got To Feel It and deserves credit for a great debut album.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Barenaked Ladies - Grinning Streak - Review!

Just in time for your shorts, t-shirts and sneakers, the Barenaked Ladies are back with Grinning Streak, their eleventh studio album and second as a four piece band. The band has had their share of turmoil in recent years including record label shuffles, a poorly-timed children’s album as well as the departure of co-lead vocalist Steven Page, but they were able to leave all of this behind and hammer out another great sounding album.     

Branded as jokesters by most, Grinning Streak carries a more serious tone than their prior releases. Ed Robertson’s voice sounds stronger than ever, almost as if he upped the ante to fulfill the sole lead singing duties. Keyboardist Kevin Hearne, drummer Tyler Stewart and bassist Jim Creeggan sound as tight as ever with what seems like minimal effort. This album has the typical BNL sound with acoustic guitars, harmonies and tastefully used sound effects. A couple of my personal favorite songs are Boomerang and Best Damn Friend. Full of mildly seriously lyrics, a catchy beat and well-crafted choruses, these songs stick in my head for hours after every listen.

I know many fans are hesitant to pick up any Steven Page-less Ladies album thinking that it’s impossible for it to work, but you may be surprised. Sure five Barenaked Ladies are gorgeous, but four are pretty damn hot too. As a fan myself, they will always be incomplete without Page in my eyes too. Regardless, the remaining Ladies still have some solid material up their sleeves and Grinning Streak is a true testament of this. I’m still holding my breath that the differences, addictions, or whatever the hell happened between Steven Page and the band can eventually be ironed out so we can get back to the true full Barenaked Ladies sound that I miss so much. In the meantime, Grinning Streak is the next best thing.