Tuesday, September 15, 2009

My Favorite 10 - Music Albums


As the title suggests, this is the start of a new series called 'My Favorite 10' where in I shall be picking up 10 favorites from the various fields of art. The idea is to share my tastes with my readers and perhaps learn about their tastes. In this process, I may discover things that I have been missing so far.

Limiting it to a 10 isn’t easy by any standards, and this is where the task becomes challenging and exciting.

The first topic has to be about Music, more specifically Music Albums. And my parameters are quite simple:

a) The Effect it had on me: From shaping my musical tastes to the number of days the tape/CD was stuck inside my music system.
b) Longevity: Do I see myself enjoying them, 15 years from now?

*The list is in the chronological order of appearance in my life.
**This list might change in 10 years time.

1. Hum Dono – Jaidev, 1961
This one was a part of my growing up process in the form of a good old magnetic tape, played regularly by my music loving father on our mono National Panasonic cassette player. The classic duet, ‘Abhi Na Jaao Chod Kar’ (Don’t Leave Me Now) still remains an all time favorite and so does the best Bhajan (A Devotional Song) ever made in a Hindi movie, ‘Allah Tero Naam, Ishwar tero Naam’ (You are Allah & You are Jesus Too). This Jaidev masterpiece is an evergreen gem.

Give it to me anytime and it will spread a smile over my face.

2. Famous Waltzes - Johann Strauss, Jr., Composed between 1845 and 1899, Performed by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
This one too, was in the form of a magnetic tape in my house and would always make me happy whenever it was played by my father. Even in that Mono player, its rhythmic nature and multiple small little melodies in one composition would bowl me over. Compositions like ‘The Blue Danube’ and ‘Tales from the Vienna Woods’ have become legendary now, used (and abused) for many narrative purposes, from Movie Soundtracks to TV Commercials.

Today I have the same album in the form of a CD which often gives me a good company on the car journeys.

3. Raga Yaman Kalyan (Ae Ri Aaj Piya Bin) / Raga Darbari (Jhanak Jhanak) – Pt. Bhimsen Joshi, Recorded in early 1980s
One takes you into an evening of pleasure; the other takes you into the depths of night. I am referring to the two Ragas mentioned above.

If I discount my father’s violin sessions, this was perhaps one of the first piece of Indian Classical music that fell into my young ears. Instantly, I became a fan of the man’s voice and singing. I still am.

4. The Dark Side Of The Moon – Pink Floyd, 1973
My first exposure to both psychedelic rock and Pink Floyd (no it wasn’t ‘The Wall’). Right from the beginning sounds of heartbeat, the album gripped me completely. I had never heard anything like that before. I still feel that nothing can begin in a grander fashion than this album With the sounds of the many alarm clocks going off at one time to the almost orgasmic singing of ‘The Great Gig In the Sky’, to the cash registers ringing, everything about was disruptive to my young ears. I must’ve been 14 or 15, then.

Later, when I got down to the lyrics, I was once again enraptured in the similar manner by this great work of art. Definitely worth many visits.
*Much later, I was lucky enough to watch the entire album being performed by Mr. Roger Waters himself.

5. The White Album – The Beatles, 1968
It covers all possible genres. It taps the potential of the three songwriters in the band to the highest extent. And one Disc wasn’t enough to fit in the amount of creativity they produced.

From the whispering ‘Julia’ to the screaming ‘Helter Skelter’ to the wailing ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’, it has everything in it. The Beatles were breaking up but their music had reached newer heights at the foothills of Himalayas, where they were composed most of the tracks.

And, it can always make me that Himalayan high.

6. Blood On The Tracks – Bob Dylan, 1975
This came to me at a phase when I was going through a personal crisis of the ‘heart’ type. The most personal album of Dylan had my sentiments in it. It was as if, the man was singing my songs. It had me captivated for months
*This blog gets its name from one of the tracks in the album.

7. Sticky Fingers – The Rolling Stones, 1971
Well, this is a drug-laden album and I was into it then. It has country, it has blues, it has yearning, it has overdose and it has the essential Stones punch. The sad, drugged, stringy and extremely melodious ‘Moonlight Mile’ is the perfect way to end.

The fact that the Andy Warhol designed cover was one of the most controversial one just adds to the entire charm.

8. Rumors – Fleetwood Mac, 1977
This everlasting magic came to me through a windfall from someone who wanted to get rid of all his magnetic tapes as he had moved into the digital zone. (And, I’m glad he did so)

I had heard a few of the popular FM track before, but this album was a revelation, a sort of magic. The sophisticated compositions, the depth of the lyrics, the mix of the vocals, drums & the guitar, everything is perfect. Not a single track can be forwarded.

This essential 70s album will always work for me.

9. Astral Weeks – Van Morrison, 1968
I’ve been meaning to write about this one for a long time now, but I’ve always been successful. I am at loss of words when it comes to appreciating this surreal, seamless confluence of poetry, music and singing woven together. And Mr. Morrison was all of 23 when he created it! I will die peacefully if this is playing on my death-bed.

For a beautiful write-up on the album by Mr. Lester Bangs, the music journalist you can go
here.

On a personal note, I found a precious friend while absorbing this album along with whiskey.

10. Kind of Blue – Miles Davis, 1959
Its slow, its gentle, its luxurious, it’s a lazy afternoon, it’s Kind of Blue. The finest Jazz album ever, by the genius who shaped the genre. And, the band helping him had stalwarts like Coltrane, Bill Evans, Paul Chambers, Jimmy Cobb and Cannonball Adderley. Out of this world!

One can just keep on listening to this one, day after day, year after year, life after life.

That sums up the first edition My Favorite 10. It’s rather long and I had a very tough time selecting them (leaving out one to include another). But I also enjoyed doing it and I hope you will enjoy reading it. And, do mention your favorite Albums.

30 comments:

Naked Cricket said...

M, Let it be known that I did not commission this piece.

I’m with you on Rumours, Astral weeks, Blood on the tracks, Sticky Fingers, Dark side, White album, Kind of Blue.

I’m with myself on Dave Mathews Band’s Whiskey and the Groogrux King these days.

These are Days by 10,000 Maniacs.

Led Zep 1, Paul Simon's Graceland, Robbie Robertson's Storyville, John Fogarty's Centerfield, Million Dollar Hotel OST, Talented Mr Ripley OST...ostop

Spiff said...

No S&G? :>

Bhaskar Khaund said...

Gosh , this is a brave exercise 's all i can say....have asked myself the same questn many times but have never had the guts or the discipline to needle it down to 10 or even 20 ! I like the way u laid down the criteria , solid ..

meraj said...

Naked Cricket,
i like your list...thanks fro sharing!

Spiff,
it was a difficult call but had to omit S&G from the Top 10

Bhaskar,
thanks for the appreciation! it took me 4 days (an hour a day) of hard work to sort this out :)

and you know what, i also want to put up the other 10 in the form of comments, else it feels as if im being mean to them :)

Sriram said...

Good one Meraj, enjoyed reading.. Whats next? Movies? :)

For me it has always been songs, not albums probably because of the digital medium.. So 10 will be hard for me.. May be 4 - Rumours, Led zep IV and two early albums of Shakti (Natural elements and Handful of beauty)

And yes.. I got my passport!

meraj said...

thats splendid man! now pack your bags and land up(and pull Fuzz/Shamik/Ghaza along with you)

also, thanks for reminding me of Natural Elements...its been such a while. shall covet today.

Rahul Jauhari said...

Ah. Nos 1 & 3 stirred up a lot of memories....

alien said...

i remember your face and appy while singing "BRAIN DAMAGE"..cheers baba!!!!

meraj said...

Mr Jauhari,
that 'Ah' says good memories, so am glad :)

alien,
and because of certain circumstances during those my memory is liiitttle hazy, but i clearly remember the ímportance of 'appy' in thaat phase :)

bluesin said...

Sorry Meraj, couldn't limit the limit the list to 10. So my current top 15 are below. Important to mention 'current' Vs 'all-time'... for me, several of these will feature in the latter category as well.

Blues:

1. Lightnin - Lightnin Hopkins
2. The Complete Recordings - Robert Johnson
3. Texas Flood - SRV
4. Worried Blues - Mississippi John Hurt
5. Comin' Alive - Willie Kent (the guitar player on this, Guy King, absolutely smokes this album)

Jazz:

6. Kind of Blue - Miles Davis
7. My favorite things; and Stockholm 1963 - John Coltrane
8. Moonlight Serenade (this has a jazz version of Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata) - L. Almeida (on a nyon string guitar)/Ray Brown (upright bass) - you do need a pretty good music system to hear some of the lower notes that Brown hits. Else, only your stomach hears them :-) Seriously!
9. Cannonball Adderley Quintet in Chicago - Cannonball Adderley
10. Lady Sings the Blues - Billie Holliday
11. Pres in Europe - Lester Young

Classical:
12. Bach's Cello Suites - Jonas Starker

Folk:
13. Pink Moon - Nick Drake
14. End of History - Fionn Reagan
15. Pretty much everything by Pentangle

Keith said...

That's a great list Meraj. Let me try fav albums by top 20 artists ( not in order ):

1. Dylan : Blood on the tracks ; New Morning ; Desire ; Planet Waves ; Blonde on Blonde

2. Fleetwood Mac : Rumours ; Tusk ; Tango in the Night

3. Paul Simon : Graceland ; Rhythm of the Saints

4. Van Morrison : Astral Weeks ; Into the Music ; Moondance

5. The Beatles : The white
album ; Revolver

6. Supertramp : Breakfast in America

7. Leonard Cohen : The Songs of Leonard Cohen ; Songs from a room

8.Cat Stevens : Catch Bull at four

9. Jefferson Airplane : Surrealistic Pillow

10. Tom Petty : Full Moon Fever ; Into the great wide open

11. Traveling Wilbury's : Vol 1.

12. Neil Young : Harvest Moon ; Harvest

13. Abba : Voulez Vous ; Super Trouper

14. CSNY : Deja Vu ; 4 way street

15. George Harrison : All Things must pass ; Thirty three and a third

16.Billy Joel : Piano Man ; The Stranger

17.John Lennon : Imagine ; Double Fantasy

18.Tracy Chapman : Self titled

19.Robbie Roberston ; Storyville

20. Simon & Garfunkel : Bridge over troubled Water ; Concert in Central Park

meraj said...

bluesin,
thanks for taking the effort and sharing that interesting list. i also plan to do a genre-wise list, sometime later.

Keith,
thanks for the effort and the resulting list and am not surprised at the duplication...in fact some from here will apeear in 'also rans' list.

cheers, guys!

meraj said...

those who couldnt make it to Top 10 but were under consideration.

- OST of In The Mood For Love: Various
- Led Zeppelin IV: Led Zeppelin
- Live at Filmore / Eat a Peach: The Allman Bros Band
- Giant Steps: John Coltrane
- Head Hunters: Herbie Hancock
- OST of Sadma: Illayaraja
- Roja: A R Rahman
- Anand: Salil Chowdhury
- Manzil / Teen Deviyan / Tere Ghar Ke Saamne / Munimji: SD Burman
- Baiju Baawra / Andaz: Naushad
- Masoom / Ghar / Libaas - RD Burman
- The Finest Ghazals of Mehdi Hassan
- Golden Milestones: Bade Ghulam Ali Khan
- 78 rpm Recordings: D V Paluskar
- Live at BBC - Dire Straits
- Moondance / Veedon Fleece: Van Morrison
- Concertos: Mozart
- 5th Symphony / 9th Symphony: Beethoven
- Rhapsody in Blue: Gershwin
- Take Five: Dave Bruebeck
- Modern Sounds in Country & Western Music: Ray Charles
- Hotel California: Eagles
- Otis Blue: Otis Redding Sings Soul
- Pet Sounds: The Beach Boys
- Sketches in Spain: Miles Davis
- Greatest Hits: Neil Diamond
- Revolver / Rubber Soul / Abbey Road: The Beatles
- Blonde on Blonde / Highway 61 Revisited: Bob Dylan
- Whats Goin On: Marvin Gaye
- Are You Experienced / Electric Ladyland: Jimi Hendrix
- Let It Bleed / Beggars Banquet: The Rolling Stones
- Pink Moon / Five Leaves Left: Nick Drake
- Blue: Joni Mitchell
- Deja Vu: CSNY
- After The Gold Rush: Neil Young
- Song From A Room: Leonard Cohen
- American Beauty / Live Dead: Grateful Dead
- Who's Next / Live at Leeds: The Who
- Ziggy Stardust: David Bowie
- What We Did on Our Holidays: Fairport Convention
- Surrealistic Pillow: Jefferson Airplane
- The Soul Cages / Greatest Hits: Sting/Polices
- Concert In Central Park: Simon & Garfunkel

ilegirl said...

Sticky Fingers - I think it's the best Stones album of all time.

ilegirl said...

Ah, and I see two more of my own favorites - Joni and Bowie - on your list of candidates. :)

meraj said...

ilegirl,

our musical perefrences are similar...i remember commenting on some post of yours which was on music.

cheers!
m

Smiling Dolphin said...

Kishore Kumar? Too pleb?

meraj said...

well, KK lasted for a very short time during my school days when I would easily emulate his songs on the stage and get prizes. i liked him then. but, thanks to my musically trained father, i realized that he was too much of a college singer, untrained and able to sing simple tunes, largely (which is why it was easier to emulate him).

having said that, there are some real gems from the man. perhaps i should amke another list of my faourite 10 KK songs :)

junk said...

i've restricted myself to angrezi albums, tough to limit the number to ten if i inculded indian

meraj said...

junk,
where is the list?

mr bojangles said...

after you'd mentioned, i saved mine as a text msg on my phone. i thought i'd write them up later, somewhat like you have. now, i think i better list them as a comment on your post. it was fun thinking them up - brought back happy memories.

1. Denver - Best of, Vol I & II
2. S & G - Sounds of Silence/Bridge over troubled water
3. Beatles - Abbey Road
4. Dean Martin - (not sure of the name. dad's old cassette.)
5. Four Seasons - Vivaldi Concertos (not sure of the arranger, etc)
6. Dead - Reckoning
7. Joni - Blue
8. Cohen - The Essential Leonard Cohen
9. Norah Jones - Come away with me
10. Drake - Love all the albums. If I'd to pick one, I'd pick Five Leaves Left.

thanks & much love, fuzz.

meraj said...

mr bojangles,
thanks for the list...some surprises there. no Dylan, no Van Morrison?
and am glad you enjoyed making this list.
m

mr bojangles said...

holy cow! Dylan ko kaise bhool gaya!! Dylan ke liye Denver bhai ko toh nikalna padega. agar Morrison dalu, toh phir Norah ben ko bhi nikalna padega. but i think leave Norah in. that album is like a cool soft pillow, my car had broken down and i had a long and tiring day.

also i should've put Angel Romero's Bella instead of the Vivaldi Concertos. afterall, classical guitar ka kuch bhi nahi hai.

meraj said...

mr bojangles,
you describe the Norah Jones album so well :)

Smiling Dolphin said...

glad to see sting made it into the second list. love this new template etc, monty python!

meraj said...

hi Dolphin,
am glad you noticed the subtle change :)

junk said...

whats your take on my latest list? any additions or deletions?

junk said...

my ten, as i mentioned, only english:
Simon and Garfunkel: The concert in central park (1982)
The best of the doors (1985)
Dark side of the moon (1973)
A momentary lapse of reason (1987)
Pulse (1995)
The Wall (1979)
The very best of jethro tull (2001)
Nirvana Never Mind (1991)
The Beatles 1 (2000)
The best of Bob Dylan (2005)

I usually go for the convenient best of albums

junk said...

i somehow forgot led zepellin 4

junk said...

i'd remove pulse and put in led zepellin 4 there
Simon and Garfunkel: The concert in central park (1982)
The best of the doors (1985)
Dark side of the moon (1973)
A momentary lapse of reason (1987)
Led Zepellin 4 (1971)
The Wall (1979)
The very best of jethro tull (2001)
Nirvana Never Mind (1991)
The Beatles 1 (2000)
The best of Bob Dylan (2005)