Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014: Top 25 Albums

First posted 12/31/2014; updated 1/8/2021.

Dave’s Music Database:

Top Albums of 2014

Based on a combination of year-end lists (see resources at bottom of page) and overall status in Dave’s Music Database, these are the top 25 albums of 2014. Be sure to also check out the DMDB post of the top 50 songs of 2014.

  1. Taylor Swift 1989
  2. D’Angelo Black Messiah
  3. Ed Sheeran X (Multiply)
  4. Sam Smith In the Lonely Hour
  5. The War on Drugs Lost in the Dream
  6. U2 Songs of Innocence
  7. Beck Morning Phase
  8. St. Vincent St. Vincent
  9. Miranda Lambert Platinum
  10. Run the Jewels Run the Jewels 2

  11. FKA Twigs LP1
  12. Lana Del Rey Ultraviolence
  13. The Black Keys Turn Blue
  14. Aphex Twin Syro
  15. Sturgill Simpson Metamodern Sounds in Country Music
  16. Sam Hunt Montevallo
  17. Bruce Springsteen High Hopes
  18. Eric Church The Outsiders
  19. Jack White Lazaretto
  20. J. Cole 2014 Forest Hills Drive

  21. Pharrell Williams Girl
  22. Spoon They Want My Soul
  23. Nicki Minaj The Pinkprint
  24. Ariana Grande My Everything
  25. Maroon 5 V

Resources and Related Links:

The Top 50 Songs of 2014

image from pastemagazine.com

Here are the best songs of 2014, based on an aggregate of more than 33 best-of song lists.

Fancy

1. Iggy Azalea with Charli XCX “Fancy
2. John Legend “All of Me
3. Ariana Grande with Iggy Azalea “Problem”
4. Taylor Swift “Shake It Off
5. Sia “Chandelier”
6. Sam Smith “Stay with Me”
7. Pharrell Williams “Happy
8. Meghan Trainor “All About That Bass”
9. Future Islands “Seasons (Waiting on You)”
10. Katy Perry with Juicy J “Dark Horse”

All of Me

11. Magic! “Rude”
12. Jason Derulo with 2 Chainz “Talk Dirty”
13. FKA Twigs “Two Weeks”
14. One Republic “Counting Stars”
15. Nicki Minaj “Anaconda”
16. Drake “0 to 100/The Catch”
17. Lorde “Team”
18. Nico & Vinz “Am I Wrong”
19. Bastille “Pompeii”
20. Passenger “Let Her Go”

Shake It Off

21. Pitbull with Ke$ha “Timber”
22. Charli XCX “Boom Clap”
23. Iggy Azalea with Rita Ora “Black Widow”
24. Maroon 5 “Maps”
25. Eminem with Rihanna “The Monster”
26. One Direction “Story of My Life”
27. DJ Snake with Lil’ Jon “Turn Down for What”
28. Lorde “Royals
29. American Authors “Best Day of My Life”
30. Jessie J with Ariana Grande & Nicki Minaj “Bang Bang”

Happy

31. Beyonce with Jay-Z “Drunk in Love”
32. Ariana Grande with Zedd “Break Free”
33. Taylor Swift “Blank Space”
34. Imagine Dragons “Demons”
35. Jason Derulo with Snoop Dogg “Wiggle”
36. Calvin Harris “Summer”
37. Tinashe with Schoolboy Q “2 On”
38. Clean Bandit with Jess Glynne “Rather Be”
39. Perfume Genius “Queen”
40. The War on Drugs “Red Eyes”

All About That Bass

41. Caribou “Can’t Do Without You”
42. Alvvays “Archie, Marry Me”
43. Jeremih with YG “Don’t Tell ‘Em”
44. A Great Big World with Christina Aguilera “Say Something”
45. Paramore “Ain’t It Fun”
46. I Love Makonnen with Drake “Tuesday”
47. Justin Timberlake “Not a Bad Thing”
48. Tove Lo “Habits (Stay High)”
49. Sharon Van Etten “Your Love Is Killing Me”
50. Rixton “Me and My Broken Heart”

Dark Horse


Resources and Related Links:

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

50 years ago: John Coltrane recorded A Love Supreme

A Love Supreme

John Coltrane


Released: January 1965


Recorded: December 9, 1964


Peak: -- US, -- UK, -- CN, -- AU


Sales (in millions): 0.5 US


Genre: jazz


Tracks:

Song Title [time]

  1. Part 1: Acknowledgement [7:42]
  2. Part 2: Resolution [7:19]
  3. Part 3: Pursuance [10:42]
  4. Part 4: Psalm [7:02]


Total Running Time: 33:02


The Players:

  • John Coltrane (saxophone)
  • McCoy Tyner (piano)
  • Jimmy Garrison (bass)
  • Elvin Jones (drums)

Rating:

4.045 out of 5.00 (average of 24 ratings)


Quotable: “Easily one of the most important records ever made” – Jack LV Isles, All Music Guide


Awards: (Click on award to learn more).

About the Album:

John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme is “widely considered his masterpiece.” WK Jazz critic Tom Hull called it “the most perfectly plotted single piece of jazz ever recorded.” WK It is “an exemplary recording of modal jazz,” WK which focused on “modulating, or changing keys.” AK-102 “To rapidly change the harmonic base of a melody, not once, but repeatedly, is to invite an unsettling effect…[which] in the conxtext of A Love Supreme…fulfills a number of functions.” AK-102

In addition to being “one of the most acclaimed jazz records,” WK A Love Supreme is “easily one of the most important records ever made” JI in any genre. German music journalist Joachim-Ernst Berendt said “the album’s hymn-like quality permeated modern jazz and rock music.” WK Irish singer/songwriter Neil Hannon said, “Every so often this ceases to be a jazz record and is more avant-garde contemporary classical.” WK Techno-DJ Moby said it “is probably oe of the most beautiful and sublime recordings of the twentieth century.” AK-xvi

The Recording and the Quartet

The album was recorded at Van Gelder Studio in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, on December 9, 1964 in a four-hour session from 8pm to midnight. Regarding the recording process, pianist McCoy Tyner said, “When we got to the studio, we liked to capture the live effect, just like we were playing live somewhere.” AK-67 To that end, producer Bob Thiele tried to stay out of the way as much as possible. Biographer Bob Golden said, “His job basically was, as decreed by Coltrane, ‘just make sure the lights are onand the tape is running.’” AK-86

The quartet, rounded out by bassist Jimmy Garrison and drummer Elvin Jones, was “at the height of its considerable individual and collective power.” WR The Rolling Stone Jazz Record Guide says “each man performs with eloquence and economy.” WK They “created one of the most thought-provoking, concise, and technically pleasing albums of their bountiful relationship.” JI “From the undulatory (and classic) bassline at the intro to the last breathy notes, Trane is at the peak of his logical yet emotionally varied soloing while the rest of the group is remarkably in tune with Coltrane’s spiritual vibe.” JI

Coltrane’s Development from 1949 to 1964

The album “compiled all of his innovations from his past [and] spoke of his current deep spirituality.” JI Coltrane got his first big break playing with Dizzy Gillespie, “one of the masters of modern jazz,” AK-15 from 1949 to 1951. He followed that with “one of his most fulfilling sideman roles” AK-16 alongside saxophonist Johnny Hodges. He played with trumpeter Miles Davis from 1955 to 1957 and then was fired for his heroin problem.

He then worked with pianist Thelonious Monk, during which time he recorded 1957’s Blue Trane, his “first true outing as composer and album conceptualizer.” AK-32 He returned to working with Davis and was one of the players on 1959’s A Kind of Blue, often considered the quintessential jazz album.

Two weeks after recording A Kind of Blue, Coltrane recorded Giant Steps, his first effort as bandleader for Atlantic Records. After that point, he had taken his “powerhouse ‘sheets of sound’ approach to the tenor saxophone as far as he could go.” TL In what Down Beat called a “crusade against ‘anti-jazz,’ Coltrane stopped composing....[from 1961-62] and placating his audience and the critics with such conservative releases as Ballads, John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman, and Duke Ellington and John Coltrane.” NO His recording of “My Favorite Things” in 1961, now considered a jazz standard, exemplified Coltrane’s approach to “simplyifying well-known songs, then opening…them up with modal sections…a device Coltrane would use often over the next few years.” AK-44

A Love Supreme is a four-movement suite which “represented a new approach – sparer, more fluid, more intense.” TL It “heralded Coltrane’s search for spiritual and musical freedom, as expressed through polyrhythms, modalities, and purely vertical forms that seemed strange to some jazz purists, but which captivated more adventurous listeners (and rock fellow travelers such as the Jimi Hendrix Experience, Cream, and the Byrds).” AZ

Coltrane’s “Gift to God”

On a personal level, Coltrane was “studying non-Western religions and practicing meditation,” NO which culminated in 1964 with A Love Supreme and what Coltrane called “his gift to God.” RV The album “reaffirms music’s ability to embrace the spiritual” WR and “made it possible for Coltrane and others to express religious feeling in jazz.” NO One critic wrote that the album was “intended to represent a struggle for purity, an expression of gratitude, and an acknowledgement that the musician’s talent comes from a higher power.” WK

A Love Supreme is a suite about redemption, a work of pure spirit and song, that encapsulates all the struggles and aspirations of the 1960s.” AZ It “progressively describe in musical terms the course of Coltrane’s spiritual reawakening.” NO

“Acknowledgement”

“He begins his spiritual quest with Acknowledgement, a benediction of sorts” RV in which “Coltrane recognizes God’s omnipotence.” NO After the bang of a gong, Jimmy Garrison comes in with his double bass to introduce “the four-note motif that lays the foundation of the movement.” WK Coltrane solos with “variations on the motif until he repeats the four notes thirty-six times.” WK “At the end of this movement, as an expression of humility,” NO Cotrane offers up “the titular vocal chant ‘A Love Supreme,’ sung by Coltrane accompanying himself through overdubs nineteen times.” WK

“Resolution”

“Coltrane’s renewal is then tested in the second movement, Resolution,” NO “an amazingly beautiful piece about the fury of dedication to a new path of understanding.” JI “He conveys here a sense of struggle by juxtaposing rising improvised chromatic lines with the insistently descending lines of the theme.” NO

“Pursuance”

Pursuance is a search for that understanding” JI in which “Coltrane depicts his triumph over adversity through use of rapid tempo, truncated phrases, and consistently rising lines.” NO

“Psalm”

“The culmination of his saxophonic sermon” RV comes in the “beckoning serenity in the prayer-like drones of Psalm.” AZ This piece “is the enlightenment,” JI “Coltrane’s concluding song of thanks.” NO “Jones rolls and rumbles like thunder as Garrison and Tyner toll away suggestively.” AZ Coltrane performs what he called a “musical narration” WK and what jazz pianist, composer, and author Lewis Porter called a “wordless recitation” WK “in which Coltrane “plays’ the words of the poem on saxophone but doesn’t speak them.” WK

This is Coltrane’s best “attempt at the realization of concept – as the spiritual journey is made amazingly clear.” JI “Coltrane plays like no saxophonist before him, his instrument becoming a spirit-lifting vessel of permeating beauty.” RVA Love Supreme remains one of the music’s most personal experiences. It is Coltrane opening his soul and laying it bare.” WR “It is almost impossible to imagine a world without A Love Supreme having been made, and it is equally impossible to imagine any jazz collection without it.” JI


Notes: “The 2002 deluxe reissue includes the only live performance of the suite,” TL taken from “a July 26, 1965 appearance at the Antibes Jazz Festival in France.” AH Also included is additional “studio material from December 1964, including alternate takes of ‘Resolution’ and ‘Acknowledgment’.” AH

A 2015 three-disc reissue of the album includes recordings from December 10, 1965, in which tenor saxophonist Archie Shepp and bassist Art Davis played as well.

Resources and Related Links:

  • DMDB encyclopedia entry for John Coltrane
  • JI All Music Guide review by Jack LV Isles
  • AH All Music Guide (deluxe edition), review by Alex Henderson
  • AZ Amazon.com review by Chip Stern
  • AK Ashley Kahn (2002). A Love Supreme: The Story of John Coltrane’s Signature Album. Penguin Books: London, England.
  • NO The Night Owl review by David Tegnell
  • RV The Review (October – November 2001; Vol. 128: numbers 12-23). “100 Greatest Albums of All Time” by Clarke Speicher
  • TL Time Magazine (11/13/2006). “All-TIME 100 Albums” by Josh Tyrangiel and Alan Light
  • WK Wikipedia
  • WR The Wire (June 1992: #100). “The 100 Most Important Records Ever Made” by Philip Watson

First posted 12/9/2011; last updated 6/14/2021.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

50 years ago: The Beatles released Beatles for Sale

First posted 3/26/2008; updated 9/18/2020.

Beatles for Sale

The Beatles


Released: December 4, 1964


Peak: -- US, 111 UK, -- CN, -- AU


Sales (in millions): -- US, 1.0 UK, -- world (includes US and UK)


Genre: pop/rock


Tracks for Beatles for Sale:

Song Title (Writers) [time] (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.

You can check out the Beatles’ complete singles discography here.

  1. No Reply [2:15]
  2. I’m a Loser [2:30]
  3. Baby’s in Black [2:04]
  4. Rock & Roll Music (Chuck Berry) [2:31]
  5. I’ll Follow the Sun [1:49]
  6. Mr. Moonlight (Roy Lee Johnson) [2:38]
  7. Kansas City/Hey-Hey-Hey-Hey! (Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller/Richard Penniman) [2:38]
  8. Eight Days a Week [2:43]
  9. Eight Days a Week (2/15/65, 1 US, 1 CN, gold single)
  10. Words of Love (Buddy Holly) [2:04]
  11. Honey Don’t (Carl Perkins) [2:57]
  12. Every Little Thing [2:04]
  13. I Don’t Want to Spoil the Party [2:33] (2/15/65, B-side of “Eight Days a Week,” 39 US, gold single)
  14. What You’re Doing [2:30]
  15. Everybody’s Trying to Be My Baby (Carl Perkins) [2:26]

Songs by John Lennon and Paul McCartney unless noted otherwise.


Total Running Time: 33:43


The Players:

  • John Lennon (vocals, guitar)
  • Paul McCartney (vocals, bass)
  • George Harrison (guitar, vocals)
  • Ringo Starr (drums, vocals)

Rating for Beatles for Sale:

3.887 out of 5.00 (average of 22 ratings)


Quotable: “The group’s most uneven album” – Stephen Thomas Erlewine, All Music Guide

…but still with “enough moments sprinkled throughout for anyone to enjoy” - Adrian Denning, Adrian’s Album Reviews


Awards for Beatles for Sale:

Beatles ‘65

The Beatles


Released: December 15, 1964


Peak: 19 US, -- UK, 1 CN, -- AU


Sales (in millions): 4.0 US, -- UK, 4.0 world (includes US and UK)


Genre: pop/rock


Tracks for Beatles ‘65:

Song Title (Writers) [time] (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.

You can check out the Beatles’ complete singles discography here.

  1. No Reply [2:15]
  2. I’m a Loser [2:30]
  3. Baby’s in Black [2:04]
  4. Rock & Roll Music (Chuck Berry) [2:31]
  5. I’ll Follow the Sun [1:49]
  6. Mr. Moonlight (Roy Lee Johnson) [2:38]
  7. Honey Don’t (Carl Perkins) [2:57]
  8. I’ll Be Back [2:22]
  9. She’s a Woman [2:57] (11/23/64, B-side of “I Feel Fine, 4 US, gold single)
  10. I Feel Fine [2:20] (11/23/64, 13 US, 15 UK, 1 CN, 1 AU, gold single)
  11. Everybody’s Trying to Be My Baby (Carl Perkins) [2:26]

Songs by John Lennon and Paul McCartney unless noted otherwise.


Total Running Time: 26:10


The Players:

  • John Lennon (vocals, guitar)
  • Paul McCartney (vocals, bass)
  • George Harrison (guitar, vocals)
  • Ringo Starr (drums, vocals)

Rating for Beatles ‘65:

4.380 out of 5.00 (average of 4 ratings)


Awards for Beatles ‘65:

Beatles VI

The Beatles


Released: June 14, 1965


Peak: 16 US, -- UK, 1 CN, -- AU


Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, -- UK, 1.0 world (includes US and UK)


Genre: pop/rock


Tracks for Beatles VI:

Song Title (Writers) [time] (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.

You can check out the Beatles’ complete singles discography here.

  1. Kansas City/Hey-Hey-Hey-Hey! (Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller/Richard Penniman) [2:38]
  2. Eight Days a Week [2:43]
  3. Eight Days a Week (2/15/65, 1 US, 1 CN, gold single)
  4. You Like Me Too Much (Harrison) [2:38]
  5. Bad Boy (Larry Williams) [2:17]
  6. I Don’t Want to Spoil the Party [2:33] (2/15/65, B-side of “Eight Days a Week,” 39 US, gold single)
  7. Words of Love (Buddy Holly) [2:04]
  8. What You’re Doing [2:30]
  9. Yes It Is [2:40]
  10. Dizzy Miss Lizzy (Williams) [2:54]
  11. Tell Me What You See (Harrison/Lennon/McCartney) [2:39]
  12. Every Little Thing [2:04]

Songs by John Lennon and Paul McCartney unless noted otherwise.


Total Running Time: 27:45


The Players:

  • John Lennon (vocals, guitar)
  • Paul McCartney (vocals, bass)
  • George Harrison (guitar, vocals)
  • Ringo Starr (drums, vocals)

Rating for Beatles VI:

4.128 out of 5.00 (average of 4 ratings)

About Beatles for Sale:

”With the release of Beatles for Sale…the constant spotlight glare of Beatlemania and the accompanying happy, shiny surface was beginning to bear heavily on the Fab Four. The album cover photo shows a very somber and tired-looking band, and the double meaning of the title was lost on only the very na├»ve.” CW ”It was inevitable that the constant grind of touring, writing, promoting, and recording would grate on the Beatles, but the weariness of Beatles for Sale comes as something of a shock. Only five months before, the group released the joyous A Hard Day's Night. Now, they sound beaten, worn, and, in Lennon's case, bitter and self-loathing.” STE

”The Beatles were rushed into the studios inbetween touring to make a new LP in time for the Christmas season of 1964” AD – a de facto deadline imposed by commercial considerations (see title).” JA “Only eight of the fourteen songs here were penned by The Beatles.” AD “In desperation, the band fell back on cover versions of 50s rock standards by Little Richard, Buddy Holly, Carl Perkins, and Chuck Berry.” JA ”It's well-performed” DBW – even “though their voices had been frazzled a bit by constant touring, they revved them up for some joyous shouting, and indulged their fondness for American country in subtle, playful ways.” DW Even so, “despite some experimentation with recording effects and instrumentation,” JA the covers are “ill-conceived” DW “and the originals are mostly lackluster.” DBW After writing everything for A Hard Days Night, “the very presence of six covers…feels like an admission of defeat or at least a regression.” STEBeatles for Sale is usually regarded as a temporary step backwards.” AD

“There are some important changes…most notably Lennon's discovery of Bob Dylan and folk-rock,” STE Lennon’s “opening trilogy…is the darkest sequence on any Beatles record, setting the tone for the album.” STE Those songs, “along with I Don't Want to Spoil the Party, are implicitly confessional and all quite bleak, which is a new development.” STE

First up in that “1-2-3 opening punch” MU is the “moody No ReplyMU “sounds like a stronger song from With the Beatles.” AD This flows right into I'm a Loser, a ”brilliant, remarkably introspective number” JA that “displays a country influence in the guitar picking [and] has a fresh sound and wonderful lyrics throughout.” AD

The trilogy wraps with “the harmony-drenched Baby's in Black,” MU which “is a weird semi-lilting song with strained sounding vocals perhaps reflecting the pressure these songs were recorded under. [There’s] a guitar solo that sounds all over the place, and not in a good way. Still, it triumphs despite these problems, because the song itself is just that strong.” AD

“The most memorable [of the covers was] the…frantic” JA and “frenetic, inspired take on Chuck Berry's Rock and Roll Music.” CDU “A trip down memory lane for the group…it's a good performance but does give off the 'whiff' of something [the group] played literally hundreds of times and ran through 'just once more' for the sake of recording.” AD

The “cheery I'll Follow the SunSTE “is a pretty ballad Paul had written” DBW “pre-Please Please Me,” AD “but revived for this project as a last resort.” DBW It features “acoustic guitar [and] sweet vocals although lyrically is less sweet with such lines as ‘And now the time has come, and so my love, I must go / And though I lose a friend, in the end you will know, oh’: hardly the stuff of flowers and moonlit romances.” AD

”A tremendous medley of Kansas City and Hey, Hey, Hey, Hey…finds Paul McCartney's exuberant vocals comparing admirably to his hero Little Richard, providing a vibrant centerpiece.” CDU

”Some of the tracks ended up being among the most widely disliked by Beatles fans” JA – ”Lennon's cover of his beloved obscurity Mr. Moonlight winds up as arguably the worst thing the group ever recorded.” STE

“The mid section of Beatles for Sale sags and suffers, so thank god for” AD “the dynamic” STE Eight Days a Week, a “true pop classic…The title of the song was inspired by something Ringo said describing their hectic work schedule.” AD

A couple of cover tunes follow – Buddy Holly’s Words of Love and Carl Perkins’ Honey Don’t, with Ringo’s sole vocal lead on the album, before the “undeservedly unheralded Lennon/McCartney album track Every Little Thing.” MU The song is “a true underrated Beatles gem, a fabulous song led by Paul and mixing in cool clear guitar lines with catchy vocals.” AD

George takes the lead on Everybody's Trying to Be My Baby, “an average Carl Perkins cover.” AD “Apart from the sound and style of the lead guitar - everything else is very tired and old sounding,” AD “leaving the impression that Beatlemania may have been fun but now the group is exhausted.” STE

”That exhaustion results in the group's most uneven album, but its best moments find them moving from Merseybeat to the sophisticated pop/rock they developed in mid-career.” STE Besides, even with a lackluster outing, Beatles for Sale “has enough moments sprinkled throughout for anyone to enjoy” AD and, “as a marker of where they were and where they were going, the album is revelatory.” CW After all, “the Beatles…instincts for what worked musically were so strong that they could basically do no wrong.” DW


About Beatles ‘65:

In the U.S., Beatles for Sale was broken up over two albums. The first seven cuts and “Everybody’s Trying to Be My Baby” were kept for Beatles ‘65 but the other six were replaced with three different cuts. “I’ll Back” was leftover from the UK version of A Hard Day’s Night and the single I Feel Fine / She’s a Woman was used to flesh out the album. The latter are welcome additions, but still don’t make up for the omission of “Eight Days a Week,” the most recognizable cut on Beatles for Sale.


About Beatles VI:

The other six cuts from Beatles for Sale were held over in the U.S. until the June 1965 release of Beatles VI. Those songs included the “Kansas City/Hey-Hey-Hey-Hey!” medley, “Eight Days a Week,” “I Don’t Want to Spoil the Party,” “Words of Love,” “What You’re Doing,” and “Every Little Thing.”

Three other songs were taken from the U.K. version of Help!, which wasn’t released until August 1965. Those were You Like Me Too Much, Tell Me What You See, and Dizzy Miss Lizzy.

The other two songs were Bad Boy and Yes It Is. The former was never released on a UK album and the latter was the B-side of “Ticket to to Ride.”


Notes:
In 2004, the Capitol Records Vol. 1 box set gathered the U.S. albums Meet the Beatles, The Beatles’ Second Album, Something New, and Beatles ‘65 on CD for the first time.

In 2006, the Capitol Records Vol. 2 box set gathered the U.S. albums The Early Beatles, Beatles VI, Help!, and Rubber Soul on CD for the first time.

Resources and Related Links: