The Kinks

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If I’m writing about all the mid-60s music and bands that I love, I should probably start with the Zombies; after all, it was their song Brief Candles that inspired the title of my blog.  However, I have a greater love for The Kinks, and, having just experienced listening to a fun Apple Music playlist called Character Songs, I suppose the Kinks are as good a place as any to start.

The first rock band I became enamored with was actually The Beatles, thanks to a huge stack of original classic rock records from the 60s and 70s that my 7 older brothers and sisters left behind at our parents’ house.  I probably discovered it at about age 7 or 8, and this vinyl treasure trove contained, among other things, almost all of the Beatles’ LP catalog.  It’s surprising to me now to reflect that it contained no Kinks records.  Maybe my siblings decided to take their Kinks albums with them when they moved out of the house.  So anyway, the point is, while I became a Beatles fan very early in my life, I didn’t discover the Kinks until much later – in my 20s and 30s.

Getting back to this Character Songs playlist, I was delighted to have it show up in my “For You” feed because it does a nice job of encapsulating a major aspect of the Kinks, and one that helped hook me as a fan, which is that they write really excellent story songs.  This playlist focuses on stories of individual characters such as Lola, David Watts, and the Dedicated Follower of Fashion.  You really get a sense of the place and time with the latter two, and the subject of Lola is probably one for the ages. 🙂

Although I’m still not familiar with their whole discography (so much more to discover!), I think so far my favorite albums by the Kinks are as follows:

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Face to Face

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Something Else

and

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The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society

Of course now you can see it makes perfect sense that I would dig the Character Songs playlist since it is comprised of songs from mostly these albums!

So in closing I’ll leave you with this: f you like your music to transport you the way a good short story does, check these guys out.

 

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Christmas Jazz

I thought I should get a post in for December so that I have one per month since I started this blog.

One of my favorite personal Christmas traditions is to listen to my collection of jazz renditions of Christmas tunes. I have a few actual albums (LPs and CDs), but now that Apple Music is in my life, there are oh so many more digital versions to explore.

For now, here is my small real-world collection. I’ll start with my two most cherished, and hopefully complete this post tomorrow (the last day of December).

God Rest Ye Merry Jazzmen
 

Jingle Bell Jazz 

I originally discovered these two albums on cassette tape. (Cassettes!)  I’ve since replaced them with vinyl versions. Good thing I did, especially for Jingle Bell Jazz.  If you click the link I posted for it above, it will take you to a nice little history of this album, which will actually explain why it’s so great I have both of these on original vinyl. 🙂

More to come…

Elliott Smith favorites

I don’t listen to Elliott Smith that often, because his music is associated with melancholy moods.  But when I do, I continually re-discover the beauty of his singing, playing, and songwriting (both lyrics and melodies).  I’ll probably add to this post periodically (so that it’s a living, breathing thing – rawwr!), but here’s the first in what will be a chronological listing of my Elliott Smith favorites.

Heatmiser – Mic City Sons

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I really love all of the Elliott Smith-penned songs on this album from Heatmiser, the band Elliott Smith was in before going solo. My absolute favorites on the album are “Plainclothes Man,” “The Fix Is In,” “See You Later,” and “Half Right.” The lyrics aren’t quite as fully-formed as those in his solo efforts, but the plaintive and wistful melodies are right there, and you can see how they are the jumping-off point into his first solo album. This album as a whole is definitely more “rockin'” than his solo efforts, which I actually enjoy as a bit of a change from the Elliott Smith most of us know and love.

From Wikipedia comes this quote: “Smith also bemoaned that being in Heatmiser changed the songs he was writing at the time into “loud rock songs with no dynamic.”[1]     So I guess that’s how he felt, and he was probably right, especially for the earlier two albums (which I hated), but I really think his songs do work on this album. Maybe it’s because by the time the band reached this point (their third and final album together), Elliott was able to push harder for his songs to sound (at least closer to) what he wanted. I guess I can do more research on it to prove my “theory,” but for now, this is enough for me, the average fan.  (I’d like to call myself a super fan, but I think I would have to do more to earn that title.)

Preview the songs on Amazon.com if you like.