Tag Archives: 1950s

The Rewind Button: The Great Twenty-Eight

The Rewind Button is a group blogging project that I’m participating in. We’re taking on Rolling Stone‘s Top 40 albums of all time and writing our own reviews of them.

Chuck Berry The Great Twenty EightI used to think I wanted to write professionally about music. The Rewind Button project helped me discover that I don’t want to do that. I’m enjoying this; however, I prefer listening to music rather than deconstructing it. The Great Twenty-Eight by Chuck Berry is a perfect example of this feeling.

Listening to this album makes me want to dance. It’s fun, and my foot can’t stop tapping. Sure, some of the songs have the same beat, but I don’t care, because its energy overwhelms any stagnation. The piano trills, that stand-up bass, those blues-based chord progressions…this is rock-in-roll to me. This album should be in the top 10 of Rolling Stone‘s list.

We’re halfway through our list, and I’m not going to stop reviewing the albums. But I am going to stop beating myself up for not offering an intellectual discussion of the albums. Some of these don’t warrant that. Some of them are pure emotion. The Great Twenty-Eight is one of those.

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The Rewind Button: Kind of Blue

The Rewind Button is a group blogging project that I’m participating in. We’re taking on Rolling Stone‘s Top 40 albums of all time and writing our own reviews of them. There will be a new album and review each Thursday.

Kind of Blue Miles DavisWe finally arrive at an album that I’m not that familiar with. After weeks of artists that I grew up listening to, we’ve come to Miles Davis, and a genre of music that has never interested me in the long-term.

I attended the University of North Texas, a perennial institution of jazz studies. If I wasn’t hearing jazz in Kharma Cafe, then I was hearing in J&J’s Pizza. Unlike Nashville country, it didn’t make me run away screaming for the fall of humanity. However, I’m still unable to tell the difference between Parker or Coltrane, Peterson or Mingus. I’ve had plenty of friends try to educate me on the art’s nuances and history. Still, the music never took hold of me the way indie, goth, or punk rock did.

Listening to Kind of Blue, then, is a new experience for me. Yes, after listening to these songs again, I realize that I’ve heard them many times before. As I said, though, they never stuck.

It’s a relaxing album. I’ve been listening to as I work, letting its melodies wash under the Word documents I edit. I feel more forgiving in my proofreading due to this album. (Freelancers, send a copy of Kind of Blue in with your work.) I feel sophisticated when I hear this album. I want to reach for a Scotch and cigar. I want to go to a party out in The Hamptons on a late summer day and dance under twinkling Christmas lights hung above a wide deck that leads down on to a beach.

In all seriousness, Davis’ playing is impeccable, and I appreciate that he arrived in the studio with song sketches rather than completed scores. It’s that part of jazz, the improvisation, that appeals to me the most. Perhaps the music not sticking with me is for the best, because much like improvisation on stage, hearing the songs will seem brand new every time and I can appreciate them in the moment, just as they should be.

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The Rewind Button: The Sun Sessions

The Rewind Button is a group blogging project that I’m participating in. We’re taking on Rolling Stone‘s Top 40 albums of all time and writing our own reviews of them. There will be a new album and review each Thursday.

Elvis Presley The Sun SessionsThis edition is a dramatic scene featuring a conversation among music royalty in a game room.

King of Pop: You know, P., it was your hip swivels that I stole for my knee shaking.

King of Rock: The swivels, uh-huh, they were natural, not something created for show.

King of Pop: I don’t believe that. Don’t tell me that once you swiveled and heard the girls scream you didn’t swivel just a little harder the next time.

Queen of Rock: It’s not in the hips guys. It’s all in the chest, the way you shake what ya momma gave ya.

King of Rock: Another manufactured move. I’m natural. My music and moves come from my soul.

Queen of Rock: The only thing natural about you is how you naturally stole black music for your own gain.

King of Pop: That’s true! I took it back.

King of Rock: It wasn’t theft. It was a tribute, uh-huh.

Queen of Rock: What parts were tributes? The blues? The swing? Your voice?

King of Rock: All of it. If it weren’t for me, you’d be 20 years behind.

Prince of Darkness: I’m going to have to butt in here you don’t mind this crazy talk can’t we all get along and just play music or some pool?

King of Rock: I’m with him. Let’s love the music and stop picking apart who it came from.

Prince of Darkness: It really doesn’t matter in the end cuz we’re just listening to one big story with different chapters and narrators.

King of Pop: That’s the most insightful thing you’ve said in the last forty years.

Queen of Rock: It’s just that your chapter comes first when it shouldn’t.

King of Rock: Well, little darlin’, whose should?

Queen of Rock: Arthur Crudup. Bill Monroe. Kokomo Arnold. Do I need to go on?

King of Rock: I can’t help it if I had a bigger, uh-huh, stage presence than them. They should be thanking me.

King of Pop: They would if people remembered them. They’re a footnote to you.

King of Rock: Better a footnote than nothing.

Prince of Darkness: The pool table is ready let’s stop all this mumbo jumbo and play a round drinks are on me Jack Daniels anyone?

King of Rock: I got first shot.

Queen of Rock: Let me and Pop take first shot. It doesn’t always have to start with you.

King of Rock: Keep up this attitude and you’ll be out on your own.

Queen of Rock: It’d be better than following in your shadow.

King of Rock: Which you’ve taken full of advantage of.

King of Pop: Let’s take a break and relax. You know, the Prince of Darkness is correct. We’re all telling the same story. What’s it matter who started it? It’s how it ends that matters the most.

Prince of Darkness: If we keep up this criticizing like we do we’ll end it sooner than it should end let’s just play and enjoy the moment and not worry about who’s first or eleventh its all the same when you sleep at night.

End Scene

(Author’s note: Elvis’ version of “Blue Moon” floors me every time I hear it.)

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