Desert Island Downloads
I was always fascinated by a radio program called “Desert Island Disks”. I loved getting to know people by looking at the music they would choose to be stranded with. I thought I might use the idea to give anyone who has been reading this a bit of an introduction to who I am – who is it that has been filling this blog with all this info? Yes there are a few classical guitar recordings, but that’s not all. BTW, all are available on Spotify if you care to listen.
- John Williams, The Ultimate Guitar Collection. I don’t know if this is really the ultimate collection, but it is a legendary performer playing the core of the classic repertoire. If any of these tunes get tired, listen to one of the other tracks, then come back and it will be fresh again.
- Berta Rojas, Intimate Barrios. I don’t know if anyone else would rate this as desert island worthy, but the sound of her guitar is so perfect, so balanced and so present I just want to listen to this album over and over. And that Barrios guy writes some pretty good tunes.
- Anushka Shankar, Traveler. While the disc is good, if I could have a recording of the live concert in France, I would prefer it. The music explores the interplay and relationship between classic flamenco and Indian raga.
- Igor Stravinsky – The Rite of Spring. Pierre Boulez and the Cleveland Symphony. This is the one I bought when Frank Zappa told me I needed to listen to this piece. I may be partial, but this is the one I have had in my library for years. It is here because I can’t resist the image of staid ballet fans ripping the chairs from the floor and throwing them at the stage.
- Ode to Freedom – Beethoven: Symphony No. 9 Official Concert of the Fall of the Berlin Wall 1989. How can you not have this? Performed at the newly liberated Brandenburg gate, it combined Bernstein with German musicians from both sides of the newly united city. Priceless.
- Benny Goodman. Famous 1938 Carnegie Hall Jazz Concert Complete. Perhaps a perfect compilation of big band jazz. All the songs are great, but the two standouts are “Don’t be that way” – when Gene Krupa breaks the band out of the overly polite respect for where they are playing and makes them play jazz, and “Sing Sing Sing,” which just burns the house down. Take a look at the names of the players on the stage.
- Miles Davis, Kind of Blue. Everyone raves about this album. Take a listen. You will rave about it too. In addition to Davis, the horns include Cannonball Adderley and John Coltrane. This has been called the best jazz album of all time. Sounds like something to explore while waiting to be rescued.
- Bob Dylan. 1966 Royal Albert Hall Concert. This was a tough choice, since it is taken from the most productive period of Dylan’s career. I almost went with Highway 61 revisited, but this concert shows that most of the songs from this period were all written at the same time, and the sheer raw energy of the Hawks will never be replicated. One tiny window into this show, “Just like Tom Thumb’s Blues,” was released as the B side of (I think) the 45 of “I want you” back in the 60’s and it was worth waiting for the rest of the show.
- The Velvet Underground and Nico 45th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition. Who knew when this album was released that it would capture a certain slice of the rock subculture so perfectly? As I recall, it was only played on obscure college radio stations, rarely if ever on commercial FM and never, ever, ever on AM. It spawned the now legendary quote by Brian Eno about its low sales, “I think everyone who bought one of those 30,000 copies started a band!” This collection includes the original stereo LP, outtakes, alternate recordings and even all of Nico’s first album.
- The Beatles – Live at the Hollywood Bowl. Looking back at all the Beatles did, the thing that I think I want to remember is that this was a damn good rock and roll band. This recording was the Beatles at their best as performers. They played live with the same sound they achieved in their early album and they could really play their instruments.