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Thread: Music of Outstanding Merit

  1. #1
    Senior Member Ducatista47's Avatar
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    Music of Outstanding Merit

    Sometime in the past I may have suggested that someone create a thread with this purpose. The What's Playing Now thread is probably the most popular thread here, but I seem to remember its original intent being to present music of unusual merit. What it has become is wonderful, but I would still like to see a thread to post truly outstanding music on.

    This will become whatever it becomes, but the concept I had in mind is to not misuse "great" or "genius" and to reserve this space for music that has more than nostalgia or danceability, or catchy lyrics or licks going for it. I do not expect there to be any concensus whatsoever about what qualifies, so "that sucks" commentary has no useful place here. Perhaps there is a place for music being judged by its quotient of social commentary, but it is the music itself I am thinking of, not so much the lyrics alone. Recording quality could be considered, but that is actually "Recordings of outstanding merit," not Music of Outstanding Merit if you get my drift. We don't judge Bach on how well the performance was recorded.

    I will be so presumptuous as to propose an entry, Sandy Denny, No More Sad Refrains: The Anthology. This is an excellent collection of her work. She was in possession of the dual gifts of a great voice, often considered the best folk voice in English since World War II; plus she is also in the running for being the best folk songwriter in the same period. Richard Thompson considers her to rate as the best, enough said. She wrote most of the selections here, but her covers were equally inspired in execution. Her rendition of Banks Of The Nile is usually cited as the best cover of traditional material in English in quite some time, perhaps in the recorded era.

    She died at the age of thirty-one after an accidental fall, but her light shone so brightly her body of work is considerable in impact. This collection presents it well. Even her last release, criminally overproduced by her husband, is worth a listen if you like this sort of music. I am not a man of means, but I parted with some treasure to own a Japanese mastering of this two disc set.

    I am including the second photo because a great many Americans know her solely from being the only guest vocalist to ever record with the group she is pictured sitting with. And to quote (from the liner notes) the vocalist on her right: "My favorite singer out of all the British girls that ever were."

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    Information is not Knowledge; Knowledge is not Wisdom
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    Senior Member SEAWOLF97's Avatar
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    Interesting idea Clarke

    I can think of not much pop musik that fits your criteria ..(except Julie London's "Cry me a River") and any that I can come up with are already all time stone greats

    ie: Vivaldi - Le quattro stagioni https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Fo...sons_(Vivaldi)

    or LVB - Ode to Joy (from the 9th)

    I'd almost like to propose ...Moody Blues - Days of Future Passed & Groffe's - Grand Canyon Suite.

    but of course these don't really display the dynamics that most purchase their JBL's for










    oh yeah ,,, can't forget Iron Butterfly "Inna Godda da Vida"
    (17 minute version) and "The Iron Butterfly THEME" is like the quintessential 60's psychedelic tune. Almost defined the era in one cut.
    “If you think that’s the dumbest thing you’ve ever heard,
    just wait a couple minutes!”

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    Senior Member DavidF's Avatar
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    Janis Ian

    I'll throw one in to support the idea.

    The first idea that came to mind was Janis Ian exemplified by her 1993 album Breaking Silence. Her writing style has always been evocative and at the same time engaging. Tough subjects with her soft voice makes for an interesting mix. Hardly mainstream, though, which has limited her overall appeal in terms of outright sales.

    Breaking Silence happens to be a gem of a recording, as well. Give a listen if you haven't heard it already.

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    I have some Fairport Convention/Fotheringay vinyls I bought in the seventies. At the time I had to pretty much bury them in the stacks as they were not the usual rotation candidates for frat parties. Ditto Pentangle albums. Highly musical but hardly middle-of-the-road material.
    David F
    San Jose

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    Senior Member Ducatista47's Avatar
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    Outstanding; I was not sure of a single reply. It is true that not a lot of popular music qualifies as great music. Popular music tends to be catchier than deeply moving, danceable, slight enough to multitask to without missing anything (dancing, working and socializing are common examples - frat parties indeed) and, as Corky Siegal said, to succeed almost requires that its content be very, very, very "available." Popular music in the modern era is also dominated by music with lyrics, often in the service of the content being so easy and simple to take in. How much pop radio play does instrumental music get?

    All that said, deeply moving content in music does not exclude vocals and lyrics. It's just that the vast majority of the demand for it has been, and is increasingly, driven by non musical content. Stories, social commentary, lifestyle and attitude exposition mostly. And there is usually that danceability factor as well. When Rock n Roll came out the "serious" concert listeners were appalled by the small level of actual musical content. Those same disappointed listeners who have lived to see the Rap era might find themselves longing for Classic Rock. If the trend continues, I am having a failure of imagination re: what will follow what we have at present. Since it is a seriously diminishing pool of people who even aspire to single task listening to music, I assume listeners like us are teetering on the brink of extinction. But Jazz, Blues and the concert halls have not had great music of quality all to themselves for the past fifty years. There is some brilliant music that has managed to be heard by a mass audience. To be fair, in all the history of popular Jazz 90% of it was not very good. Pop music, 99%? I refuse to judge what the actual numbers are, but the great music does tend to stand out to those who bother to hear it, doesn't it? Fairport Convention and even Fotheringay were pop music of sorts, but their listener base at the time was tiny compared to the Top of the Pops bands. In the liner notes for the Remastered 2002 release of Fairport's Unhalfbricking, band member Ashley Hutchings writes that a French language version of Dylan's If You Gotta Go, Go Now was their only Top of the Pops appearance. This is all why the Led Zeppelin mention. The LZ audience dwarfed that of Sandy's bands. So it has always been. But pop musical gold does exist. Just don't expect me to take Kanye West serious musically when I have heard John Coltrane. I do personally think a case could be made for some of Led Zeppelin's work to be outstanding music. They were special.

    Still, I am reminded of what every record contest judge said in the old days of American Bandstand. "You can understand the lyrics, it has a great beat and you can dance to it. I give it a ninety-five." Some things seem to never change.

    I know what the stated purpose of the Music forum is, but I am trying to sneak a pure music thread in here, regardless of whether they cater to large JBL's core virtues or not.

    I need to check out the Janis Ian CD. I confess I had not kept up with her music. I was saddened to hear of her death not all that long ago. Iron Butterfly, there may be more truth there than you know. A year or three ago Public TV had a fundraiser broadcast of Sixties era rockers. The one band that was still playing as well or better with the original members was Iron Butterfly.
    Information is not Knowledge; Knowledge is not Wisdom
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    Heather [Senorita member] hjames's Avatar
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    Thank you SO much for the Music of Outstanding merit ... More great music to look for!
    And yes, please check out "Breaking Silence" ... it is beautifully recorded and fine music as well.
    And one minor correction - Janis Ian is not dead yet!

    Some of the members of iron Butterfly have passed on - Wiki says:

    Former guitarist Larry "Rhino" Reinhardt died on January 2, 2012, at the age of 63, due to cirrhosis of the liver.
    Bassist Lee Dorman, who had a history of heart trouble, died on December 21, 2012, at the age of 70.
    Both Reinhardt and Dorman were also founding members of Captain Beyond,
    along with former Deep Purple vocalist Rod Evans and drummer Bobby Caldwell.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ducatista47 View Post
    I need to check out the Janis Ian CD. I comfess I had not kept up with her music. I was saddened to hear of her death not all that long ago. Iron Butterfly, there may be more truth there than you know. A year or three ago Public TV had a fundraiser broadcast of Sixties era rockers. The one band that was still playing as well or better with the original members was Iron Butterfly.
    2ch: Oppo, JoLida 502CRC, JBL L212, 18ti,240ti; Heath AS101, Von Schweikert VR4
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  6. #6
    Senior Member Ducatista47's Avatar
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    I am happily corrected that Janis is still with us. The Public TV Iron Butterfly appearance was probably soemwhere in 2009 to 2011, I have lost track, but was when they were all or nearly all still able to breathe.

    The example I forgot to recount about how even critics mess up hearing music is about Roxy Music. The British press felt their album Avalon to be their weakest by far, Brian Ferry running the show in the service of the music. Of course it was musically brilliant and a seminal step in recording/producing quality in the service of getting the music across, but all they cared about was the lyrics. They went on about how the record was about nothing. Critics tend to show up to artist interviews with lyric sheets in hand. I recall some musician, it might have been the straight talking Chrissie Hynde, telling one such scribe he should actually take the round black thing with the hole and play it sometime.
    Information is not Knowledge; Knowledge is not Wisdom
    Too many audiophiles listen with their eyes instead of their ears


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    Super Moderator yggdrasil's Avatar
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    I'm going to give it a shot. Obvious in my book, but maybe not in other's books.

    Pink Floyd's album Wish you were here is absolutely great. The melancolic theme running through the album fits me very well. On a sidenote - I am contemplating a tattoo with the text "Cogito ergo doleo": I think, therefor I am depressed .

    Another facet with this album is the lyrics. Both the tribute to Syd Barret and the other (society) critical lyrics. Roger Waters has quite a sting with his pen. I really miss them/him giving out new music.

    I watched a rerun of a documentary of making this album just a week ago. Very interesting to see the different roles the band members took in the development of this record.


    Johnny

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    Eva Cassidy - a pure voice

    You must listen to this voice. Her six albums present a voice which easily eclipsed her contemporaries. Her renditions could lift ordinary compositions to a new level. Her early albums are indespensible because they are a landmark of quality. Sadly she died at 29 (malenoma).

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    Senior Member 1audiohack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Andrew View Post
    You must listen to this voice. Her six albums present a voice which easily eclipsed her contemporaries. Her renditions could lift ordinary compositions to a new level. Her early albums are indespensible because they are a landmark of quality. Sadly she died at 29 (malenoma).

    Yup. +1
    If we knew what the hell we were doing, we wouldn't call it research would we.

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    Senior Member SEAWOLF97's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by yggdrasil View Post
    Pink Floyd's album Wish you were here is absolutely great. The melancolic theme running through the album fits me very well. Johnny
    WYWH is in my top 3 all-time list. I'm not sure what it is, but something with that album connects with me. I really don't buy albums new anymore , but for WYWH I made an exception and bought the 2011 immersion remaster , 180g with all the postcards and a chit for the downloads of the album in FLAC.

    Was reading that the title and line about "Now there's a look in your eyes, like black holes in the sky" was referring to Syd in his drugged out state.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wish_Y...k_Floyd_album) The album became an instant commercial success and record company EMI was unable to print enough copies to satisfy demand. Although it initially received mixed reviews, the album has since been acclaimed by critics and appears on Rolling Stone's list of "The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time". Band members Richard Wright and David Gilmour have each declared Wish You Were Here their favourite Pink Floyd album.

    I did find a nice (but standard) LP copy a couple of years ago with a trashed/waterlogged jacket.

    While figuring if I wanted it, noticed another album with a long legged blonde (Swedish, I thought..actually Norwegian ) in a red skirt on the cover , but no record inside. So I transferred WYWH to the attractive jacket and bought it.
    At home, needing to identify the contents for later use I wrote the album name on the replacement cover and then got a flash of inspiration.

    It now says "Wish you were her"

    whooHoo ..I found it on the web .. Sorry for OT Clarke
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    Senior Member Ducatista47's Avatar
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    Dual

    Perhaps there are some fans here of Scottish Gaelic and/or Irish (the local name for the Irish Gaelic language) music. This gem is a combination of both, rendered by the current super talents of each. Not separate traded tracks, this music is a collaboration. The Scot islander Julie Fowlis is known to some visitors here, but Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh may not be. Where Julie sings a higher register generally, Muireann (Mwe-ren) is a contralto. The combination of their similar but divergent skills is stunning. The other two musicians are also first class. I know Eamon is a Dubliner; Ross Martin I don't know. This is way too exciting to be lumped with folk music, even though it is more or less. This import CD is available online.

    This sounds nothing like the typical rousing Irish Pub music. It is anything but morose, but musically it is on another level alltogether. This might be my favorite CD. I have since purchased both of Muireann's solo releases and have everything Julie has recorded as a leader.

    Here the ladies explain and demonstrate in two parts. It's in Gaelic but there are subtitles. This is all about Dual. The sound on the disc is ten times better, a fine recording.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ljb0Ou0owgo

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YD1foMp3Je4

    Here is a link to Dual at a live gig elsewhere. They stand up for this one.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=raOhfgsft8I

    This is from the CD, I think.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9hVFS...=RDraOhfgsft8I

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    Here is a link to a solo vocal of Muireann from an appearance with the Irish supergroup Danu. Eamon, Julie's husband, is in Danu too. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X6187jJJzqI This is just one of many styles she has mastered.
    Information is not Knowledge; Knowledge is not Wisdom
    Too many audiophiles listen with their eyes instead of their ears


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    Senior Member Ducatista47's Avatar
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    Since it does not seem inappropriate to mention obvious candidates, Kind Of Blue by the Miles Davis Sextet. Probably the most listened to Jazz release of all time, Jonn Coltrane, Billl Evans, Cannonball Adderley and Miles plus a stellar rhythim section is rather difficult to ruin but the music here is way beyond the predictable result. Some of the best compositions here that are credited to the egomaniacal Davis were actually penned by Evans. In Miles' autobiography he opined that Bill Evans never did anything good after he left him (Miles). Cough. Ego aside, it is a great album, literally.
    Information is not Knowledge; Knowledge is not Wisdom
    Too many audiophiles listen with their eyes instead of their ears


  13. #13
    Senior Member Ducatista47's Avatar
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    What Bill Did After Leaving Miles

    I know Widget prefers live sets, so here is an overachiever. Bill Evans: The Complete Village Vanguard Recordings, 1961. Don't take my word for it, ask Heather. I know she owns it. If you enjoy Jazz and you don't like this a lot, you might be a Kenny G fan. It's a boxed set, priced reasonably.

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    Information is not Knowledge; Knowledge is not Wisdom
    Too many audiophiles listen with their eyes instead of their ears


  14. #14
    Heather [Senorita member] hjames's Avatar
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    Another marvelous talent you have introduced me to! Scots-Gaelic charm - absolutely not the Irish pub bands (tho I do like them at times) ...
    I tracked down some of the youtube videos of Julie, and caught her last year when she toured through the DC area and played a tiny venue of maybe 100 seats (amazing presence!) and then found this Dual recording - the two voices together are just marvelous ...

    Emma is of scottish descent - and she told me about mouth music she heard from her mother ...
    Anuna does some of it, as does Julie Fowlis

    Frankly, nearly everything you have recommended has been a major hit for us
    (tho I will admit I'm not quite as fond of Cowboy Junkies as you are - smile) ...

    Thanks again for the introduction to her - and this band ...


    Quote Originally Posted by Ducatista47 View Post
    Perhaps there are some fans here of Scottish Gaelic and/or Irish (the local name for the Irish Gaelic language) music. This gem is a combination of both, rendered by the current super talents of each. Not separate traded tracks, this music is a collaboration. The Scot islander Julie Fowlis is known to some visitors here, but Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh may not be. Where Julie sings a higher register generally, Muireann (Mwe-ren) is a contralto. The combination of their similar but divergent skills is stunning. The other two musicians are also first class. I know Eamon is a Dubliner; Ross Martin I don't know. This is way too exciting to be lumped with folk music, even though it is more or less. This import CD is available online.

    This sounds nothing like the typical rousing Irish Pub music. It is anything but morose, but musically it is on another level alltogether. This might be my favorite CD. I have since purchased both of Muireann's solo releases and have everything Julie has recorded as a leader. Here is a link to this Dual group live.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=raOhfgsft8I

    This is from the CD, I think.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9hVFS...=RDraOhfgsft8I



    Here is a link to a solo vocal of Muireann from an appearance with the Irish supergroup Danu. Eamon, Julie's husband, is in Danu too. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X6187jJJzqI This is just one of many styles she has mastered.
    2ch: Oppo, JoLida 502CRC, JBL L212, 18ti,240ti; Heath AS101, Von Schweikert VR4
    7.1: Oppo BDP103D, B&K, UREI 809A, JBL B460

  15. #15
    Senior Member BMWCCA's Avatar
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    Thanks for the thread. I remain enchanted with several of your recommendations over the years and have The Complete Village Vanguard Recordings, 1961s in my Amazon cart as we speak, hoping it pleases me as much as Quintessence, You Must Believe in Spring, Live at . . . Top of the Gate, and the others I already own. I look forward to this thread costing me some more money!

    Listening tonight to The Goat Rodeo Sessions again (after dumping Chris Thile's Stealing Second in my shopping cart as well), I think it appropriate for this list. How do you define genius? Does it say anything if two of the four musicians on this great album were tapped as MacArthur Fellows and received that foundation's Genius Grant? And no, one of those wasn't Yo-Yo Ma!

    I'd also nominate Skip, Hop, and Wobble which features Jerry Douglas on Dobro. The constant here is Edgar Meyer and if you like New Grass or anything similar played by classically trained artists I'd highly recommend trying an Edgar Meyer channel on Pandora for a few days.

    Of course the recording quality is also excellent.

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