1001 Albums #18 – Sarah Vaughan

Sarah Vaughan – Sarah Vaughan At Mister Kelly’s – 1958
Sarah Vaughan – At Mister Kelly’s

First Listen
Yes

Prior knowledge of this album
None

Standout Tracks
None

Afterthoughts
Another artist I’d not heard of. It’s odd how some of the stars of 50 years ago survive in the modern conscience and some disappear and are only remembered by connoisseurs or hard core fans.

This is a live album recorded at the height of her fame, it’s a Jazz vocal album and despite my thoughts on Jazz (see previous albums) this was a good listen.

Vaughan’s voice is cool and chilled out, clear and crisp not like her contemporaries album that I heard a few posts ago. This is a woman at the top of her powers and in control, during the second song there is a noise that isn’t expected; it sounds like something gets knocked over but she isn’t fazed and about 40 seconds from the end she realises that the her lyrics have come to an end but the music hasn’t, so she adlibs over the remaining time – I’m making that sound dull, but it’s quite funny, go listen to it.

This isn’t one I’d listen to again but it’s definitely worth a listen, perhaps on a lazy Sunday.

Hear again
No

Album Entertainment Rating
4 out of 5

1001 Albums #17 – Jack Elliott

Jack Elliott – Jack Takes The Floor – 1958
Ramblin’ Jack Elliot – Jack Takes the Floor

Prior knowledge of this album
None

Standout Tracks
Nothing stands out but the album is still worth a listen

Afterthoughts
Before starting this challenge and listening to this album I’d not heard of Jack Elliott. As soon as he started singing I felt as though I’d been listening to him for years; because he sounds like Bob Dylan does on his first album. Dylan voice was a little rougher but it is quite similar in style.

Of course this album was released four years before Dylan’s so it’s obvious who influenced who, also featured on this album is Woodie Guthrie a big influence on Dylan.

These are songs that tell stories and these are the kinds of songs that I like. Despite saying that and liking the album enormously I’m finding it hard to pick out individual songs to add to my standout list.

This is a proper slice of folk music, I’ve mentioned him more than the artist here but if you like early Dylan than you will enjoy this a lot. Even though I’ve found it hard to single out individual tracks, I shall definitely be listening to it again.

Hear again
Yes

Album Entertainment Rating
4 out of 5

1001 Albums #16

Billie Holiday – Lady in Satin – 1958
Billie Holiday – Lady In Satin

First Listen
Yes

Prior knowledge of this album
None

Standout Tracks
I’m a Fool To Want You

Afterthoughts
This is where I show my musical ignorance. I’ve heard of Billie Holiday of course but if pressed, I probably couldn’t name any songs, at least not with any confidence.

My first impressions were of her voice, it sounds like an old persons voice, you know when you watch/listen to a singer whose been around for 40 years and they’re still trying to sing the songs from their heyday? Well this is what it sounds like.

And then you find out that the singer was just 43 when it was recorded. Let’s give that some context; here’s a bunch of singers who are still singing and their ages:

Billy Joe Armstrong (Green Day) 40
Damon Albarn (Blur) 44
Eddie Vedder (Pearl Jam) 47
Thom Yorke (Radiohead) 43
Anthony Kiedis (RHCP) 49

Now to me none of those, and yes I know they are all guys, don’t sound old when they sing. It can’t just be the songs, they are the from the great American songbook they’ve been sung for years and not everyone who sings them sounds old, do they?

And then I Googled her to see what was happening to her around the time of the recording, and wow was stuff happening! She had been addicted to hard drugs including Heroin for over 10 years, had a series of abusive boyfriends, was mixed up with the mafia and had dabbled unsuccessfully in the movies.

This album was released in June 1958 and she was dead by July 1959.

This is an album of great songs and she sings them very well (you don’t need me to tell you that) but knowing her backstory kinda makes it really sad too; this woman with an amazing voice when she started singing ends up on a record where he voice has lost its lustre and is essentially singing to feed her habit.

Hear again
No

Album Entertainment Rating
3 out of 5

1001 Albums #15

Tito Puente and His Orchestra – Dance Mania, Vol. 1Here’s Little Richard – 1958
Tito Puente – Dance Mania Vol.1

First Listen
Yes (I did listen to it twice though)

Prior knowledge of this album
None

Standout Tracks
None

Afterthoughts
I’m writing this after a second go through the album; the first was in March. I’ve left it this long because I was struggling with the music of the 1950’s. This challenge to go through all 1001 is one I want to and will do, I just didn’t expect to dislike a lot of the music straightaway!

This is a very happy album, each track bounces along for about three minutes and then ends. I didn’t dislike it, I just can’t conceive of a time where I would want or need to play it again.

Hear again
No

Album Entertainment Rating
3 out of 5

1001 Albums #14

Little Richard – Here’s Little Richard – 1957
Spotify Link

First Listen
Yes

Prior knowledge of this album
Some of the classic tracks

Standout Tracks
Tutti Frutti
Ready Teddy
Slippin’ And Slidin’
Long Tall Sally
Rip It Up

Afterthoughts
Going through the 1001 is supposed to be an education, so far I know I’m going to struggle with Jazz, on the opposite side I know what I like and when it comes around, my ears are happy.

I don’t think it’s possible to dislike Little Richard. His songs are great, they are the archetypal 1950’s Rock ‘n’ Roll songs; Tutti Frutti, Ready Teddy & Long Tall Sally to name just three.

If you get past the songs and look at his life that is also amazing, if I believe what it’s possible to read on the internet about him, then he has yo-yoed back between Rock ‘n’ Roll and Gospel music, is gay, isn’t gay, is bi-sexual, had wild parties and orgies, consumed vast quantities of drugs and alcohol and this all by his mid-thirties!

I really enjoyed this album, a combination of it not being Jazz! And something I was familiar with. I’m sure you have all heard the songs that stood out to me but if you’ve not heard them in the context of this album then give it a go.

Hear again
Yes

Album Entertainment Rating
4 out of 5

Look at the energy! – This is a live show in France in 1966; Little Richard was 34.

1001 Albums #13

Machito – Kenya – 1957
Spotify Link

First Listen
Yes

Prior knowledge of this album
Nothing at all

Standout Tracks
None

Afterthoughts
Jazz but with a few African instruments and rhythms chucked in for good measure. I don’t have the energy to keep writing how much I do not like Jazz anymore!

Hear again
No

Album Entertainment Rating
2 out of 5

1001 Albums #12

Miles Davis – Birth of Cool – 1957
Spotify Link

First Listen
Yes

Prior knowledge of this album
Nothing at all

Standout Tracks
None

Afterthoughts
I’m going to have to echo my sentiments about the previous two albums! I’m still struggling with this Jazz thang!

These past few albums have really slowed me down, I’ve listened to them but I’m having a hard time writing about them. It’s sometimes easier to write about something you don’t like but that hasn’t been the case here. Perhaps because it’s not music I’m familiar with, is what is making it hard to write about.

To give it a fair crack I have listened to the album twice and nothing grabbed me at all.

I said at the top of this challenge that I’m just a bloke whose listening to music and that obviously stands, if I was a proper (or perhaps better) writer then I’m sure I could come up with some words to describe how I really feel about Jazz.

Hear again
No

Album Entertainment Rating
2 out of 5