Posts Tagged ‘Marvin Gaye’

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The Ten Greatest Albums I’ve Ever Heard

March 23, 2011

Although in my “Coming Up…” post, I mentioned that I would be doing a 2nd quarter preview and a producers vs. musicians editorial, I’ve decided to hold off on those for a few days because I’ve been itching to post a list. Creating lists of the greatest movies, athletes, albums, songs, etc. has been one of my favorite pastimes for years. This specific list was created after years of carefully listening to a wide variety of albums. I added “I’ve Ever Heard” because I am sure that there are albums out there that I might consider to be better than the ten I have selected if I were to hear them. This is a greatest list, meaning that these are not my ten favorite albums, but the ones that I believe to be the best I’ve ever heard. Read on as I count down the greatest albums I’ve ever heard.

*All images were acquired from Google Images

10. Straight Outta Compton by N.W.A.- 1988

This album changed music forever. Never before had violence, sex, and drugs been so graphically portrayed on an album. Suburban moms hit the roof. Law enforcement officials went nuts. N.W.A. even got a letter from the F.B.I. Still, the album that went platinum without a single or any hype remains to this day one of the grimiest works of art of the 20th century.

9. Thriller by Michael Jackson- 1982

It’s easy for me to roll my eyes at the mere mention of this album, due to the constant references of it from other artists in music and the hero-worship of Jackson since his passing. Still, the album itself is an undeniable masterpiece. Paul McCartney, Quincy Jones, and Eddie Van Halen all chipped in to help the King of Pop create his magnum opus.

8. Abbey Road by The Beatles- 1969

Although I still hold in contention that many music fans tend to have a romanticized view of everything The Beatles ever recorded, I cannot deny that Abbey Road is remarkably creative. Every member of the band simultaneously shines individually while also working together to make sure that the album is greater than the sum of its parts. The medley on the second half of the album is nothing short of epic.

7. Illmatic by NaS- 1994

This album, recorded when NaS was just 19 years old, remains the greatest hip-hop album ever released. Backed by masterful production from the likes of DJ Premier, Pete Rock, Large Professor, and Q-Tip, NaS uses detailed imagery and excellent rhyming skills to portray life in the Queensbridge projects in a brilliantly crafted masterpiece. And he did it all with only one guest appearance (a young, focused AZ on “Life’s a Bitch).

6. Live at the Harlem Square Club, 1963 by Sam Cooke- 1985

While most casual listeners will remember Sam Cooke as the man behind the legendary “A Change is Gonna Come,” the man with the golden voice secretly longed to sing soul music the way it was meant to be. He got his chance in this Florida nightclub, where he was free from the reigns of having to croon for a white audience. As a result, his voice is raspy and soulful, and he works the crowd beautifully. The band backing him does in excellent job in helping create a raucous, soulful environment. Although it was recorded in ’63, it wasn’t released until 1985, 21 years after his death.

5. Blood on the Tracks by Bob Dylan- 1975

Dylan was a poet. He was an excellent musician. His voice, though polarizing, sounding like nothing else in music. Never did all these amazing elements of his mesh into anything as great this album, which showcased Dylan at his best both musically and lyrically. Although most people remember “Tangled Up in Blue” from this album, hidden gems include “You’re a Big Girl Now” and “Idiot Wind.”

4. At San Quentin by Johnny Cash- 1969

Most people remember At Folsom Prison as Cash’s greatest live album, mostly because Folsom Prison itself was the source of inspiration for Cash’s hit, “Folsom Prison Blues.” At San Quentin, however, is just as energetic and just as powerful, but with an added treat: Cash performed, for the first time ever, the Shel Silverstein-penned “A Boy Named Sue” for the San Quentin inmates.

3. Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen- 1975

The Boss and co. worked their tails off, trying so hard to create a timeless record. Tales of last chances, broken dreams and Jersey girls added nostalgia and heart into an album that Springsteen clearly poured his blood, sweat, and tears into. The result is just want he and his E-street band so badly wanted: a classic for the ages.

2. Exodus by Bob Marley and the Wailers- 1977

Although presumably titled after one of the songs on the album, the name Exodus probably has double meaning, as it was recorded during Marley’s self-imposed exile from Jamaica to London after an attempt on his life left himself, his wife, and his manager wounded. The result is a brilliant album that is stylistically reggae but contains universally themes of love, peace, and awareness. It is an undisputable classic.

1. What’s Going On by Marvin Gaye, 1971

After much thought and consideration, I decided that I have never heard an album greater than Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On. This album is perfect: it is at once soulful, enjoyable, meaningful, emotional, lyrical, melodic, and intelligent, all in just eight songs. The brevity of this album leaves little room for error, which Gaye fortunately must have realized. It is a flawless work of art that, much like Marley’s Exodus, contains universally themes of love, peace, and awareness, though it also contains turmoil, sadness, and optimism. It is musically brilliant, and Marvin Gaye has never sounded better. Recorded at a very difficult time in his life, one can tell just by listening that he put all he had into this record. Can you believe he had to battle with Motown’s Berry Gordy just to get this album out?

Well, that’s the list. Feel free to tell me where I went wrong or what you liked about it. Peace.

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Music Predictions

March 23, 2011

Being that it has been a week since my last post, I have decided to give everyone three posts over the next three days. This first one consists of ten predictions of what will happen in the music industry in the next ten-12 years. Some are blatantly obvious, while others may be seen as outrageous. Either way, this is my honest assessment of the future of music.

CDs Will Go the Way of Records

CDs have already lost a great deal of importance to those who download torrents or buy music from the iTunes store. Stores such as Best Buy and Target have already greatly reduced their CD selection. Still, stores such as FYE, Exchange, and locally owned music stores carry a wide variety of CDs. For people like me, these stores are a safe haven for those who still love the liner notes and album artwork that go along with the music. However, I believe this will change. As music becomes increasingly digital (some newer artists don’t even bother to put CDs out anymore, opting for exclusively digital releases), CDs will all but fade away. Like 45 records, I predict that CDs will be reduced to sites like Amazon and locally owned music stores in big cities.

“Rap” Will Be Unseated

Ask anyone who tunes in daily to listen to new Top 40 hits on the radio, and they will most likely tell you that rap is one of their favorite genres. However, what they consider to be “rap” is actually more techno-inspired, mainstream pop music (look back at even a mainstream hit like “California Love” and compare it to Wiz Khalifa’s “Roll Up,” and you’ll know what I mean). If one were to look at music trends, they would see that in the ’80s, rock took a turn towards the mainstream pop sound with the glam-rock bands taking over the scene. What happened? A bunch of lower-class artists stepped up with a seemingly obscure genre called “hip-hop.” Three decades prior, rock ‘n roll did the same thing to jazz. Something, and I don’t know what, will take over the airwaves to become the new “in” sound in the next dozen years.

It Better Be Live

As music piracy continues and the younger generation neglects purchasing music, concerts and shows will increasingly become the bread-and-butter of musical acts. Groups like The Dave Matthews Band and The Roots will continue to make a killing off their stellar concerts, while those who rely on the studio-sound will suffer great financial decline in the future.

Smaller Record Labels Will Die Out

Once again, music piracy will continue to have an increasing impact on the industry. Right now, independent labels can survive because people will buy the music. However, as less and less people become consumers, labels will fold, leaving the larger, more corporate-based labels to have a monopoly on the music industry, meaning less creativity, more formulaic, radio-ready music.

Someone Will Break the Mold

It has happened before and it will happen again. Someone will have the balls to go against the larger record labels. It will be very difficult and there will be many obstacles for said person. Still, who can forget when Marvin Gaye broke out of Berry Gordy’s Motown formula to create one of the greatest soul albums of all time? Or what about when Dr. Dre took a chance on some white nobody from Detroit who turned out to be one of the biggest artists of all time? In the end, someone will restore my faith in the music industry.

Pop Music Will Still Dominate

I know, this sounds like a contradiction of my last prediction, but when someone breaks the mold, it is remembered mostly because it is an exception to the cookie-cutter music that dominates the airwaves. Pop music, whether it be pop-rock, pop-country, pop-rap, or any other kind of pop, will continue to be successful.

Economic Issues Will Affect American Artists’ Global Reach

This sounds outrageous, right? America is one of the biggest and most powerful countries in the world, right? Things change, and that change affects everything in some way, shape, or form. Right now, America is trillions of dollars in debt, with interest growing every day. I’m not saying America will be overthrown or that we will lose all clout in the global economy, but as other countries in the world progress, I predict American artists won’t be as popular around the rest of the world, simply because America won’t be as popular, either.

Certain People Will Stick

Certain people will be in the music business forever. They are smart, experienced, and just have a great ear for music. For instance, while Dr. Dre might bow out following Detox, he will be around as a producer/executive forever. Any doubters of this prediction need to look no further than 84-year-old Tony Bennett’s stunning rendition of “I Left My Heart in San Fransisco” last fall before a World Series game.

Early Exit

This one is pretty obvious. Drug overdoses, shootings, suicides, and plane/automobile accidents have been a staple of deaths in the music industry. People in the business die of unnatural causes all the time. Sooner than one may think, someone huge will pass on. Who it will be, of course, will remain a mystery.

Music Will Still Be Music

People will argue, debate, listen, not listen, half-listen, go to concerts, reminisce, love, hate, cry, and scream all in the name of music. But it will still be music. And some of it will still be great.