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SotD: Clampdown · Yes­ter­day, I used the phrase “best Rock song ev­er recorded”. Wel­l, why not two days in a row? Be­cause an­oth­er fine can­di­date is Clam­p­down from the Clash’s won­der­ful Lon­don Calling al­bum. That record was a high­light of 1980 and Clam­p­down was a high­light of the record ...
 
SotD: Day Tripper · If some­one asked me what the great­est rock&roll song of all time was, I wouldn’t be able to pick. But if they kept ask­ing, and you got a se­ri­ous con­ver­sa­tion go­ing, Day Trip­per would be in that con­ver­sa­tion ...
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SotD: Missionary Man · If I ac­tu­al­ly had any se­ri­ous mu­si­cal tal­en­t, I would have cho­sen rock&roll over all oth­er pro­fes­sion­s. I guess I haven’t been run­ning that many pure sim­ple rock songs here, and that’s wrong. So let’s turn today’s space over to An­nie Len­nox, Dave Ste­wart, and Joniece Jami­son of the Eury­th­mics for some nice pol­ished pas­sion­ate BritRock ...
 
SotD: Gravity’s Angel · Pos­si­bly you haven’t en­coun­tered Lau­rie An­der­son, and pos­si­bly if you did you wouldn’t like her, be­cause she’s pret­ty far out there. Gravity’s An­gel is at the near end of out-there, a simple-ish song with a love­ly tune and a cool ar­range­men­t; a good place to start ...
 
SotD: Please Don’t · I mean Baby, Please Don’t Go of course, the blues chest­nut to end all blues chest­nut­s. No­body knows who wrote it, al­though ap­par­ent­ly Mud­dy Waters first made it a hit; Wikipedia of­fers sev­er­al plau­si­ble back­grounds dat­ing from slav­ery days up to about 1925. The ver­sion I’m chiefly rec­om­mend­ing was record­ed by Lightnin’ Hop­kins in the ear­ly Six­ties ...
 
SotD: The Other 5:15 · No, I’m not talk­ing about the Who song from Quadrophe­nia (though it’s a fine tune), I’m talk­ing about the song by Chris Isaak. No, I’m not talk­ing about Wicked Game ei­ther, which I may fea­ture here some day. I’m talk­ing about Chris’ 5:15, one of the sev­er­al ex­cel­lent songs on San Fran­cis­co Days, one of the sev­er­al ex­cel­lent al­bums Mr Isaak has re­leased ...
 
SotD: Troy · I bought Sinéad O’Connor’s de­but, The Lion and the Co­bra, be­cause Mandinko was on the ra­dio and I liked it. The first time I played it, not hav­ing looked at the track list­ing, I no­ticed some med­i­ta­tive croon­ing about “Dublin in a Rainstorm”; the next time, a gut-grabbing throaty chan­t: “You should have left the lights on”; and then an­oth­er time a howl­ing dec­la­ra­tion about ris­ing, a phoenix from the flame. It took me a while to no­tice that all of these were from the same track: Troy. It’s a hell of a song ...
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SotD: Temporary Ground · This is the best song from Jack White’s 2014 Lazaret­to al­bum, and it was the cen­ter­piece of the show last time I saw him play. It’s most­ly acous­tic, thus has to stand on its own sans bom­bas­tic gui­tar flour­ish­es. Don’t get me wrong, I like Jack’s bom­bas­tic­s, but it’s good to let a song speak for it­self, and Tem­po­rary Ground has a lot to say ...
 
SotD: Voodoo Runner · Today’s song is Miles Runs the Voodoo Down, from Bitch­es Brew. In the se­ries in­tro I said “I won’t be rec­om­mend­ing abra­sive free-jazz jams…” and well, this is kind of abra­sive and while it might not be free jaz­z, it’s pret­ty loose. But it’s won­der­ful im­pro­vi­sa­tion and pro­duc­tion, full of deep mu­si­cal in­tel­li­gence, and if you like any­thing at all in the electric-jazz space, you’ll prob­a­bly like this a lot. If you’ve nev­er checked the space out, this might be a good place to start ...
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SotD: Solveig’s Song · Hey, there are songs in Clas­si­cal Mu­sic, too! Maybe you think you don’t like that stuff? Stick around and give this one a lis­ten. This Song is the last move­ment of Peer Gynt Suite #2 by Nor­we­gian com­pos­er Ed­vard Grieg, dat­ing from 1876. It’s ex­cep­tion­al­ly beau­ti­ful, one of the great melodies of all time. I en­coun­tered it some decades ago, when my cel­lo teach­er as­signed it to me, and it works well on that in­stru­men­t. I loved play­ing it and now I love lis­ten­ing to it ...
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SotD: Pete’s Blue · This is a min­i­mal­ist gui­tar in­stru­men­tal by Roy Buchanan (1939-1988). Gen­uine­ly ob­scure stuff, but I’m pret­ty sure you’ll find it worth sev­en min­utes and sev­en­teen sec­onds of your time ...
 
SotD: Cannonball · Mu­sic comes in lots of fla­vors, most of which I’d hate to have to live with­out, but the ones clos­est to my heart in­volve well-played elec­tric gui­tars, fe­male voic­es, and raw rock en­er­gy. The Breeders’ Can­non­ball has all three in­gre­di­ents ...
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SotD: Ooh La La · This by The Dit­ty Bops, from their self-titled de­but al­bum in 2004. I’d nev­er heard of them be­fore, nor have I since; but this is a re­mark­able song and more than one friend, hear­ing it in the back­ground, has stopped talk­ing and asked “What’s that?” ...
[3 comments]  
SotD: Identikit · This is from Radiohead’s re­cent A Moon Shaped Pool, which I’ve been lis­ten­ing to a whole lot, and oh my good­ness what a beau­ti­ful song ...
 
SotD: Western Stars · No­body, and I mean no­body, brings more to a per­for­mance than k.d. lang. But she’s not on the road that much, so you might have to set­tle for record­ings. A good record­ing to set­tle for would be Shad­ow­land, fea­tur­ing pro­duc­tion by country-music leg­end Owen Bradley and guest ap­pear­ances by oth­er divas-with-twang. This is prob­a­bly the best song on Shad­ow­land ...
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Songs of the Day · Here’s my New Year’s Res­o­lu­tion: I’ll try to try to pub­lish a short piece ev­ery day rec­om­mend­ing a song that I think is ex­cel­len­t, and apt to please at least some read­er­s. Let’s see how far in­to 2018 I get; a quick run through the col­lec­tion turned up around 240 can­di­dates, so a whole year’s worth of songs would be a stretch goal. Read on for mo­ti­va­tion, lo­gis­tic­s, and me­chan­ic­s. Or just read the song notes, start­ing to­mor­row. Or don’t ...
[4 comments]  
SotD: New Year’s Day · Back in the late Eight­ies, for a few months I went to aer­o­bics class, and once ev­ery ses­sion the in­struc­tor put this U2 chest­nut on and ev­ery time my beats-per-minute cranked right up. Not in the slight­est ob­scure, but worth re­vis­it­ing at least once a year, ide­al­ly on this day ...
 
5★♫: The Köln Concert · What hap­pened was, I was gonna make the tra­di­tion­al Sunday-morning pan­cakes and ba­con and, as I do ev­ery oth­er week or so, told the eight-year-old to turn the damn car­toons off al­ready be­cause I want­ed mu­sic. I threw the an­cient vinyl of The Köln Con­cert by Kei­th Jar­rett on the turntable and all these years lat­er, I kept hav­ing to stop mak­ing pan­cakes be­cause Kei­th had grabbed me where you have to lis­ten when they grab you there ...
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5★♫: Jeff Beck Rock ‘n’ Roll Party · I saw the LP on the new-vinyl rack in a record store and was sur­prised, be­cause I’ve been a pret­ty big Jeff Beck fan for quite a few years now, but I’d nev­er heard of it. It turns out the Rock ‘n’ Roll Par­ty is a col­lec­tion of tra­di­tion­al pop chest­nuts with a su­per hot band, not like a Jeff Beck record at al­l, and ex­cel­len­t. This is hap­py, hap­py mu­sic. But maybe the YouTube ver­sion is all you need. (“5★♫” se­ries in­tro­duc­tion here; with an ex­pla­na­tion of why the ti­tle may look bro­ken.) ...
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5★♫: Hard Again · In the mid-Seventies, old Mis­sis­sip­pi/Chica­go blues­man Mud­dy Waters had record-label prob­lem­s, but still an au­di­ence. Young Texas blues­man John­ny Win­ter had nev­er been a pop star, but had one too. So John­ny pro­duc­ing and play­ing on an al­bum by Mud­dy wasn’t re­al­ly a long shot; and Hard Again came out great. (“5★♫” se­ries in­tro­duc­tion here; with an ex­pla­na­tion of why the ti­tle may look bro­ken.)  ...
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5★♫: Benefit · What hap­pened was, I glanced at my brows­er and saw a ran­dom turn of phrase, The free­dom to be who you want to be…, and thought “That re­minds me of something”. It turns out that it re­minds me of With You There To Help Me, a love­ly song on the al­bum Ben­e­fit, a 1970 of­fer­ing by Jethro Tull. So I pulled out the vinyl and have lis­tened to it three times in the last two week­s; it’s re­al­ly just un­rea­son­ably good. (“5★♫” se­ries in­tro­duc­tion here; with an ex­pla­na­tion of why the ti­tle may look bro­ken.)  ...
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5★♫: Broken English · This is a 1979 record­ing by Mar­i­anne Faith­full, of whom many won’t have heard. If it doesn’t wrench your soul well then you don’t have one.
(“5★♫” se­ries in­tro­duc­tion here; with an ex­pla­na­tion of why the ti­tle may look bro­ken.)
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5★♫: Jets Overhead · Wow, it’s been 2½ years since I did a Five-Star Mon­day piece, and this is for a disc I just bought to­day, so it may well be too ear­ly as well as too late. Jets Over­head are from Vic­to­ri­a, BC, which is near me; what I think de­serve the stars are the first two songs from their 2009 No Na­tions, I Should Be Born and Head­ing For Nowhere; bril­liant pure-pop tunes and can they ev­er sing. Al­so there’s a geek an­gle. (“5★♫” se­ries in­tro­duc­tion here; with an ex­pla­na­tion of why the ti­tle may look bro­ken.) ...
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5★♫: Mixed Up · I’m not a fan of The Cure, par­tic­u­lar­ly. I am not nor have I ev­er been a Goth, and I laugh cru­el­ly at Emos giv­en the op­por­tu­ni­ty. I think Robert Smith looks ridicu­lous. But Mixed Up, a 1990 set of remix­es and re­takes (I own none of the orig­i­nal ver­sion­s), which was poor­ly re­viewed and sank like a stone on the chart­s, well, it’s just out­stand­ing­ly great mu­sic. (“5★♫” se­ries in­tro­duc­tion here; with an ex­pla­na­tion of why the ti­tle may look bro­ken.) ...
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5★♫: Arrau Plays Chopin · Yet again, one dead guy play­ing another’s mu­sic (I promise a re­turn to the liv­ing af­ter this): The Noc­turnes by Frédéric Chopin (1810-1849), as record­ed in 1977 and 1978 by Clau­dio Ar­rau (1903-1991). Each of the last three (this, Mozart/Brain, and Bach/Kre­mer) are fine mu­sic which has been record­ed by many fine per­form­er­s, but where I nev­er both­ered check­ing any oth­er per­for­mances out af­ter hear­ing the record in ques­tion. The Noc­turnes have no raw edges, no stark­ness, but are rav­ish­ing­ly ro­man­tic and ir­re­sistibly pret­ty, while still be­ing in­volv­ing and deep. They’re noc­tur­nal all right; two sol­id hours of sweet dark-brown ebb and flow, bed­time mu­sic for sure. (“5★♫” se­ries in­tro­duc­tion here; with an ex­pla­na­tion of why the ti­tle may look bro­ken.) ...
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5★♫: Brain Plays Mozart · Con­tin­u­ing the theme (from Au­gust, argh, maybe I don’t have a 5★ life) of mu­sic writ­ten by dead guys, and in this case al­so played by a dead guy. The dead com­pos­er is Mozart, the per­former Den­nis Brain. I re­fer to Brain’s 1955 record­ing of the Mozart horn con­cer­tos with the as­sis­tance of Von Kara­jan and the Phil­har­mo­nia Orches­tra. You al­ready know this mu­sic. You may not think so, but trust me, as soon as it starts play­ing you’ll think “Oh, yes”. I’m not sure whether it’s ev­ery­one ac­tu­al­ly hav­ing heard it, or whether Mozart tapped in­to some­thing so smooth, pol­ished, and el­e­men­tal as to con­vince us that we’re on fa­mil­iar and well-loved ter­ri­to­ry. No­body could call this ob­scure, it’s sold a kazil­lion copies; but per­haps not in re­cent decades. (“5★♫” se­ries in­tro­duc­tion here; with an ex­pla­na­tion of why the ti­tle may look bro­ken.) ...
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5★♫: Kremer Plays Bach · I’ve been fish­ing in Twentieth-century five-★ wa­ters of late, so let’s cast our eyes back on mu­sic writ­ten by dead guys. There have been a few clas­si­cal works that I’ve heard one artist play, then nev­er both­ered to take the time to lis­ten to any­one else’s take. For ex­am­ple, Gi­don Kremer’s 1980 record­ing of the Vi­olin Sonatas and Par­ti­tas by J.S. Bach. This might be a tough sel­l: two hours of mu­sic con­tain­ing no notes much be­low mid­dle C, and no more than two notes ev­er played at the same time. And Kre­mer is all about Truth not Beau­ty, which is to say he doesn’t sugar-coat Bach’s rough edges. But I think that truth is beau­ty, and I think that this mu­sic has so much of both that you re­al­ly ought to sit down some­time and lis­ten to all of it. Wel­l, and it sounds good. (“5★♫” se­ries in­tro­duc­tion here; with an ex­pla­na­tion of why the ti­tle may look bro­ken.) ...
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5★♫: Cinquième Saison · This one is kind of ob­scure, but worth hunt­ing down; the full ti­tle is Si on avait be­soin d’une cinquième sai­son, record­ed by Har­mo­ni­um in 1975, who were a Big Deal in Québec back then. I’m sure it would ap­pear in my per­son­al top-ten-of-all-time list, com­put­ed by how many times I’ve lis­tened; mind you, that’s with 32 years of ac­cu­mu­la­tion. But I still put it on, and I’ve nev­er played it for any­one who didn’t like it. It’s mel­low, sweep­ing, and full of beau­ti­ful melodies, beau­ti­ful­ly per­formed, that you’ll find your­self hum­ming while you walk down the street. (“5★♫” se­ries in­tro­duc­tion here; with an ex­pla­na­tion of why the ti­tle may look bro­ken.) ...
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5✭♫: The Texas Campfire Tapes · Just like the ti­tle says, this was record­ed by a camp­fire in Texas in 1986 (on a pre-digital Sony Walk­man). Voice and gui­tar and bril­liant mu­sic burst­ing out in all di­rec­tions by Michelle Shocked, one of my per­son­al mu­si­cal heroes. But there’s some con­tro­ver­sy about which ver­sion to get. (“5✭♫” se­ries in­tro­duc­tion here; with an ex­pla­na­tion of why the ti­tle may look bro­ken.) ...
[7 comments]  
5✭♫: Coltrane and Hartman · That’s short for John Coltrane and John­ny Hart­man, record­ed in one session—most songs in one take—on March 7, 1963. It sold a zil­lion copies back then, and was in­fa­mous­ly nom­i­nat­ed as the Great­est Record­ing Of All Time by some rock&roll-hating snob in a glossy mag in I think the ear­ly Eight­ies; but that was then, and I’m bet­ting that a lot of peo­ple who’d re­al­ly like it have nev­er heard of it. (“5✭♫” se­ries in­tro­duc­tion here; with an ex­pla­na­tion of why the ti­tle may look bro­ken.) ...
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5✭♫: The Hot Spot · Den­nis Hop­per di­rect­ed The Hot Spot in 1990, and I’ve nev­er seen it. He hired Jack Nitzsche to write the mu­sic, and they got Miles Dav­is, John Lee Hook­er, Taj Ma­hal, and some oth­er re­al­ly good mu­si­cians to play on it. It’s the on­ly record I know of in which Miles Davis plays straight blues so­los in front of a straight elec­tric blues band, and while there’s some oth­er good stuff too, that would be enough for me. (“5✭♫” se­ries in­tro­duc­tion here; with an ex­pla­na­tion of why the ti­tle may look bro­ken.) ...
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5✭♫: Misa Criolla · Ariel Ramírez is an Ar­gen­tinean com­pos­er born in 1921; Misa Cri­ol­la, a 1964 mass for tenor, mixed cho­rus, per­cus­sion, key­board and (e­spe­cial­ly) An­dean folk in­stru­ments. It ap­pears on sev­er­al disks; I’m go­ing to rec­om­mend two fea­tur­ing José Car­reras and Mercedes Sosa. (“5✭♫” se­ries in­tro­duc­tion here; with an ex­pla­na­tion of why the ti­tle may look bro­ken.) ...
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5✭♫: The Dry Cleaner From Des Moines · This song is by Joni Mitchell and Charles Min­gus (re­cent­ly dis­cussed in this space). It first ap­peared on Mitchell’s Min­gus in 1979 but I no longer have that ver­sion; this is about the ver­sion on the 1980 Shad­ows and Light, a live set fea­tur­ing Ja­co Pas­to­rius, Pat Metheny, Lyle Mays, Michael Breck­er, Don Alias, and The Per­sua­sion­s. The whole record is worth­while, great in spot­s. Dry Clean­er is pure genius-level mu­si­cal fun. (“5✭♫” se­ries in­tro­duc­tion here; with an ex­pla­na­tion of why the ti­tle may look bro­ken.) ...
[6 comments]  
5✭♫: Better Get Hit In Your Soul · This piece ap­pears on Min­gus Ah Um, a 1959 al­bum by Charles Min­gus, and on Min­gus at An­tibes, record­ed live the next year. There may be a few rock-&-roll fans who haven’t heard this and don’t know how hard jazz can be played; I can’t imag­ine any band ev­er play­ing hard­er. (“5✭♫” se­ries in­tro­duc­tion here; with an ex­pla­na­tion of why the ti­tle may look bro­ken.) ...
[4 comments]  
5✭♫: Rough Mix · This is a 1977 al­bum by Pete Town­shend of the Who and the late Ron­nie Lane of the Faces. It’s a rar­i­ty in that most of it, while un­ques­tion­ably rock mu­sic, is al­so gen­tle. Of its eleven songs, eight or nine are ex­treme­ly beau­ti­ful, the singing is tune­ful and heart­felt, the play­ing (lots of stars sit­ting in) is great, even the lyrics will grab you. (“5✭♫” se­ries in­tro­duc­tion here; with an ex­pla­na­tion of why the ti­tle may look bro­ken.) ...
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5✭♫: Brahms’ First & Haydn Variations · If I were asked to pick my fa­vorite sym­pho­ny, well, I couldn’t. If I were backed in­to a cor­ner and re­al­ly pres­sured, I still couldn’t. But if it were a mat­ter of life and death and I were mak­ing short list­s, Sym­pho­ny No. 1 by Brahms would be on all of them. Some have ar­gued that the First isn’t re­al­ly his first sym­phon­ic work; that would be Vari­a­tions on a Theme of Haydn. Which, if grant­ed, might not change my an­swer. (“5✭♫” se­ries in­tro­duc­tion here; with an ex­pla­na­tion of why the ti­tle may look bro­ken.) ...
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5✭♫: Patti’s Gloria · Pat­ti Smith is an in­ter­est­ing per­son and a fine mu­si­cian, al­ways worth lis­ten­ing to; I par­tic­u­lar­ly en­joy her re­cent record­ings. And in her youth, she record­ed Glo­ria by Van Mor­ri­son; it’s a con­tender for the best single-song rock per­for­mance ev­er. (“5✭♫” se­ries in­tro­duc­tion here; with an ex­pla­na­tion of why the ti­tle may look bro­ken.) ...
 
5✭♫: Tabula Rasa · This is the ti­tle of an al­bum of mu­sic by Ar­vo Pärt, and of a com­po­si­tion on that al­bum. I have a lot of mu­sic by Pärt, but if I had to rec­om­mend one record, or one piece, both would be Tab­u­la Rasa. It’s com­plex, deep, and aus­tere; and con­tains some of the most beau­ti­ful sounds ev­er record­ed. (“5✭♫” se­ries in­tro­duc­tion here; with an ex­pla­na­tion of why the ti­tle may look bro­ken.) ...
 
5✭♫: Israelites and More  · Des­mond Dekker just died; I had to do a quick rip on his Great­est Hits so he’d qual­i­fy for the 5-✭ treat­men­t. A lot of peo­ple un­der 45, and a lot of Amer­i­cans of all ages, won’t know about Des­mond, and you’re miss­ing some pret­ty good mu­sic. You might on­ly have heard Is­raelites and that’s an out­stand­ing song, but there are lots more, and a greatest-hits disc is a no-brainer in­vest­men­t. (“5✭♫” se­ries in­tro­duc­tion here; with an ex­pla­na­tion of why the ti­tle may look bro­ken.) ...
 
5✭♫: Wrecking Ball · The last 5-✭ song, Dylan’s One More Cup of Cof­fee, got there in large part due to har­monies from Em­my­lou Har­ris. Emmylou’s nev­er re­al­ly been a Big Star I think, which is un­fair; she’s sung more beau­ti­ful songs beau­ti­ful­ly than al­most any­one. Wreck­ing Ball, her 1995 out­ing with Kana­di­an Karmick Kon­sul­tant and over­pro­duc­er Daniel Lanois and fea­tur­ing lot­sa Big Stars, is per­haps not ab­so­lute­ly her finest work; but it’s what I have on my com­put­er and it’s very good. (“5✭♫” se­ries in­tro­duc­tion here; with an ex­pla­na­tion of why the ti­tle may look bro­ken.) ...
 
5✭♫: One More Cup of Coffee · I’m not re­al­ly a Bob Dy­lan fan. A voice like that, and a tune­smithing tal­ent like that, come along on­ly a few times per cen­tu­ry, but he’s still kind of ir­ri­tat­ing. That aside, the song One More Cup of Cof­fee, from the 1976 al­bum De­sire, can’t be ig­nored; won­der­ful tune, won­der­ful or­ches­tra­tion, won­der­ful per­for­mance. (“5✭♫” se­ries in­tro­duc­tion here; with an ex­pla­na­tion of why the ti­tle may look bro­ken.) ...
 
5✭♫: Take Five · You’ve all heard this, it’s the biggest hit Dave Brubeck’s band ev­er had, on­ly Dave didn’t write it nor does he play a solo. The tune’s cool enough, you’ll hear it and think “Oh, I know that” but ac­tu­al­ly you prob­a­bly don’t, it’s an al­to­geth­er as­tound­ing per­for­mance and re­wards lots of close lis­ten­ing. (“5✭♫” se­ries in­tro­duc­tion here; with an ex­pla­na­tion of why the ti­tle may look bro­ken.) ...
 
5✭♫: Francesca da Rimini · This is an twenty-odd-minute or­ches­tral suite writ­ten in 1876 by Tchaikowsky. It’s in­tense­ly ro­man­tic, ridicu­lous­ly melod­ic, and should be played re­al­ly, re­al­ly loud. (“5✭♫” se­ries in­tro­duc­tion here; with an ex­pla­na­tion of why the ti­tle may look bro­ken.) ...
 
5✭♫: Rock n Roll Animal · The last five-star piece, from two weeks ago, was about the Cow­boy Junkies. They cov­ered Sweet Jane on their ex­cel­lent The Trin­i­ty Ses­sions al­bum, and Lou Reed was quot­ed as say­ing that their ver­sion was defini­tive. He’s wrong; his own take on this 1974 live set is at an­oth­er lev­el en­tire­ly. So is much of the record. If you had to name the great­est live rock record of all time, well you couldn’t, but if you had to name the top five, this would be one: it shows how hard rock ought to be played. There are some prob­lem­s: it’s kind of bom­bas­tic in places, and it does glam­or­ize the use of ad­dic­tive nar­cotic­s; but let’s not be pick­y. (“5✭♫” se­ries in­tro­duc­tion here; with an ex­pla­na­tion of why the ti­tle may look bro­ken.) ...
 
5✭♫: Pale Sun, Crescent Moon · Three tracks from this 1993 al­bum by the Cow­boy Junkies earned five stars, pret­ty good for pop mu­sic. Plus there’s one from The Trin­i­ty Ses­sions, but let’s leave that for lat­er. There are a lot of Cow­boy Junkies al­bum­s, and they’re all good as far as I know; I find my­self ashamed that I haven’t bought any for a decade or so, so I’ll fix that Real Soon Now. Read on for an ap­pre­ci­a­tion of good songs, good singing, good play­ing, and good word­s. (“5✭♫” se­ries in­tro­duc­tion here; with an ex­pla­na­tion of why the ti­tle may look bro­ken.) ...
 
5✭♫: Plutonian Nights · This is a track by Sun Ra from his al­bum The Lady With The Gold­en Stock­ings, record­ed around 1958 and re­leased in 1966. Sun Ra, full le­gal name “Le Sony’r Ra”, born Her­man Bloun­t, said a lot of crazy stuff and played some crazy mu­sic, some of which I like. But this isn’t crazy, it’s 4:22 of low-voiced cool funk per­fec­tion. (“5✭♫” se­ries in­tro­duc­tion here; with an ex­pla­na­tion of why the ti­tle may look bro­ken.) ...
 
5✭♫: Come On-A My House · This song was made fa­mous by Rose­mary Clooney, but the ver­sion I’m writ­ing of here is by Julie Lon­don, who record­ed 32 al­bums but is no longer a house­hold name. Julie’s ver­sion of Come On-A My House is just the thing for Valentine’s-Day week: Come on-a my house (my house­), I’m gonna give you can­dy... Pure, pure sex. (“5✭♫” se­ries in­tro­duc­tion here; with an ex­pla­na­tion of why the ti­tle may look bro­ken.) ...
 
5✭♫: Burning Farm · Sho­nen Knife formed in Osa­ka in the ear­ly Eight­ies and, a decade lat­er, sud­den­ly had a North Amer­i­can au­di­ence; it helped that they opened for Nir­vana on a 1993 tour. Burn­ing Farm was the ti­tle of their first record but al­so of a song; the ver­sion I have is off of 1993’s Let’s Knife, prob­a­bly the group’s es­sen­tial al­bum. It has a lot of good songs with great melodies, su­perb light-hearted vo­cal­s, high-energy per­for­mances, punk gui­tar, and ami­able Ja­panese looni­ness; but Burn­ing Farm stands out. (“5✭♫” se­ries in­tro­duc­tion here; with an ex­pla­na­tion of why the ti­tle may look bro­ken.) ...
 
5✭♫: Any Time · Leon Red­bone is alive and per­form­ing, but he’s not ac­tu­al­ly a con­tem­po­rary artist; he per­forms sen­ti­men­tal and jazz songs from the first half of the 20th cen­tu­ry, with acous­tic ac­com­pa­ni­ment and pe­ri­od ar­range­ments. Which doesn’t sound very com­pelling; ex­cept for, Red­bone picks ter­rif­ic tunes and sings them beau­ti­ful­ly. The song in ques­tion is the ti­tle track from his 2001 al­bum Any Time, and it might just be the sin­gle best vo­cal per­for­mance of our young cen­tu­ry. (“5✭♫” se­ries in­tro­duc­tion here; with an ex­pla­na­tion of why the ti­tle may look bro­ken.) [Up­date: Sam­ples at the iTunes UK store.] ...
 
5 ✭ ♫ Mondays · The idea came from JWZ in late 2005: why not rate all the mu­sic in your juke­box? If your juke­box is iTunes, you cre­ate an “unrated” smart-playlist con­tain­ing all the tunes with no stars, then you set up the Par­ty Shuf­fle to draw from it, then you rate them as they go by ex­cept when you’re not lis­ten­ing, and af­ter a few month­s, you have them all rat­ed. I haven’t got them all rat­ed, but I have quite a few la­beled ✭✭✭✭✭, which means “a tune that in some way gives me as much plea­sure as mu­sic can.” I care a lot about (and am rea­son­ably lit­er­ate about) mu­sic, so I de­cid­ed I to share some of this five-star stuff with the world. I’ll try to post some­thing most Mon­days. [Does the ti­tle look bro­ken? Here’s why (Up­dat­ed 2006/01/30).] ...
 
5✭♫: BWV 131 · I think I should start with J.S. Bach, since we have a spe­cial re­la­tion­ship. BWV 131 is one of his can­tatas, based on Aus der Tiefen rufe ich, Her­r, zu dir (from Psalm 130), com­posed in 1707, and if you buy it you’ll like it. (“5✭♫” se­ries in­tro­duc­tion here; with an ex­pla­na­tion of why the ti­tle may look bro­ken.) ...
 
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