Recently I was challenged by a colleague on Facebook to publish my personal Album top 10 of All Times. That was not easy, especially when you know so many albums and you have to make the right choices.
I thought it was a good idea to publish this list on this blog with personal stories here and there
From the moment that I was allowed to play my own music in my room, often from a cassette or LP, I got to know more and more music. I hardly realize how many music I’ve listened to, through the years. However, recent album titles will also be mentioned. This list is in no particular order.
Album 1 out of 10:
Queen – A Day at the Races (EMI 1976)
The singles from this album, Tie Your Mother Down and Somebody to Love are very famous as well. For me it started with those songs and the rest of this album.
The title of this album refers to one of the most successful comic movies of the Marx Brothers (1937). To me, next to those two hits, there are many more beautiful songs on this great album.
Millionaire Waltz, starts out as a classical waltz, but works out musically in Rockstyle and on which Brian May interprets his guitar solo as a violin. The whole song is almost a small symphony-like composition.
You and I is a nice pianorock song with a wonderful guitar solo, White Man has a great Bluesrock style. I could go on and on about every song on this album.
All those fantastic vocal – and guitar arrangements, I couldn’t and still can’t get enough of this typical Queen sound.
Being crazy of their music, I took the album with me on cassette (that’s what you did those days, copying on cassette, there was no internet) on holiday with my parents to England. (where I bought for the very first time, with my own pocket money the LP Queen II, EMI 1974) I played it all day long and I sang with it. (good chance that my parents became crazy of me)
With A Day at the Races Queen had paid off their debts, they had made for recording their last album A Night At The Opera and which had hit the charts enormously. Whicjh gave them totally freedom to write what they wanted and you can hear that they felt confident in their concept, which they actually applied to their album before, Sheer Heart Attack.
On this album, like all previous ones, stated ‘no synths’. All miscelaneous sounds were made by Brian May on his self made guitar, (made together with his father) and produced by Roy Thomas Baker.
Around my 12th year, I didn’t have an electric guitar. That happened somewhat later. My mother gave me for my birthday sheetmusic of Queen. She only could play classical piano and while not understanding the chord symbols that I knew on my Spanish guitar, I still wasn’t familiar as well on the piano. The fact that I could read music helped me to work out the chords from guitar to piano, completely on my own.
Later on I could play all the songs of this album, both guitar and piano. I practiced a lot with the LP playing on the record player, turned up loud of course. (So as a great admirer I imagined myself to be Freddy Mercury one moment and the other moment Brian May as well) :-))
Because of this all, as from musical knowledge, I got to know a whole new musical world, in which I discovered different new musical skills, which has laid a foundation for skills such as, music theory, music ear training, (important that time for the audition on the Conservatory), arrangements vocal harmony’s and songwriting.
I think Queen is still one of the biggest Rockbands of all times together with Freddy Mercury as one of the best rocksingers. Recently this year I saw their concert with als great singer and performer Adam Lambert. They still prove their great quality as the world’s best rockband, when performing their show.
It was also amazing to see how young and older generations were singing along their hits. It proves how timeless the music of Queen is, even maybe have the potention to outlive us all.
Album 2 out of 10
Steely Dan – Gaucho (MCA Records 1980)
It was on my 16th birthday that my father had the splendid idea of giving me an old Philips tube radio.
The one that needed a few minutes to warm up. A built-in glass light, which was also known as ‘the cat eye’, had to turn green to indicate that it was operational. With a bit of experience I had in adjusting cables, I could connect my electric guitar, that was from an unknown brand, on the back of the tube radio. A year ago I had bought the guitar from a friend of my parents, from my saving money.
After I switched the standby knob, there it was, my first guitar amp, my first guitar sound. I was so happy! And it didn’t sound bad…at all! My clean sound had a very slight drive sound, what guitrists call ‘ an edge’. Walter Becker also had that sound on his guitar sound on Gaucho. I thought that was a great sound.
Most people know Babylon Sisters and Hey Ninteen. The horn arrangements of Rob Mounsey, including a bass clarinet, are so sophisticated. Played by big names of course, Michael and Randy Brecker, Steve Gadd, Jeffrey Porcaro, Larry Carlton etc.
Although the songs in that time (I was about 15, perhaps 16 years old) were quite difficult for me to work out, I could play the song Hey Nineteen. (At least that’s what I thought then) 🙂 I still find the intro having a powerful energizing start with such a great guitar sound.
All songs on this album have a high sound quality and are timeless. My favorite track of all is Gaucho. It has a great soulful intro with tenorsax, played by Tom Scott. After the Mexicanlike instrumental interlude you hear him play a slight variation on the theme and it is as if I hear him smile at the one note he plays with just a bit more ‘bite’. As if he yells ‘yeah’. I felt that too when I first connected my guitar to my tube radio.