The Bob Dylan Starter Compilation – Playlists on Parade

Originally posted 2010-05-01 16:56:00. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Chris Moore:

I’ve been wanting to kick this off for a few months now, but the time has finally arrived…

One of my goals for 2010 is to review every Bob Dylan studio album before New Year’s Day 2011.  This will include both one-sentence reviews in the “Yes, No, or Maybe So” series and full-out segments of “The Weekend Review.”  Unless he surprises us again, Dylan’s total studio album count is at thirty-two (I don’t count Dylan or Christmas in the Heart as studio albums), so I figured that I’d better get moving on this goal.

The Bob Dylan “Starter Compilation” is a playlist that I assembled with my girlfriend Nicole a while back as I continued to introduce her to the massive catalog of my favorite singer/songwriter of all time.  For anyone who knows me, it will come as no surprise that she had heard quite an array of Dylan songs already, most of them via the CD player in my car.  As we sorted through my iTunes software, she pointed to songs she loved and I played her songs that she hadn’t heard yet.  After a great deal of listening, discussing, arranging, and rearranging, we came up with a seventeen track layout.  I just updated it to eighteen tracks to include a sampling from his 2009 album Together Through Life.

So, without further ado, here’s the playlist.  Thanks to iTunes and other such services, you could easily download these tracks and start listening today.  For anyone unfamiliar with but interested in Dylan’s music, I’ve included the album that each song was originally released on, as well as a ranking for each album.  The 5’s are albums you should listen to right away, ranging down to the 0’s which are only for the true Dylan fanatics.  And there are some great albums that aren’t represented here (Desire being perhaps the most notable), but I had to make some hard decisions to make this the best playlist for a first-time listener.  Don’t hesitate to comment, criticize, etc. below…

See you tomorrow for the Weekend Review!

TRACK LISTING

1)   “Someday Baby” From Modern Times (2006) 3

2)   “Maggie’s Farm” From Bringing It All Back Home (1965) 5

3)   “Like A Rolling Stone” From Highway 61 Revisited (1965) 4

4)   “Simple Twist of Fate” From Blood on the Tracks (1975) 4

5)   “Political World” From Oh Mercy (1989) 3

6)   “Blowin’ in the Wind” From The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan (1963) 5

7)   “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” From The Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid Soundtrack (1973) 0

8)   “I Want You” From Blonde on Blonde (1966) 5

9)   “Lay Lady Lay” From Nashville Skyline (1969) 1

10) “Sweetheart Like You” From Infidels (1983) 2

11) “All Along the Watchtower” From John Wesley Harding (1968) 1

12) “Honest With Me” From Love & Theft (2001) 5

13) “The Times They Are A-Changin’” From The Times They A-Changin’ (1964) 2

14) “I Feel A Change Comin’ On” From Together Through Life (2009) 1

15) “Just Like A Woman” From Blonde on Blonde (1966) 5

16) “Tangled Up In Blue” From Blood on the Tracks (1975) 4

17) “Down in the Flood (New Version)” From The Masked and Anonymous Soundtrack (2003) 0

18) “Forever Young” From Planet Waves (1974) 2

(Album Ratings: 0-5 – “5” for the albums you should hear first, down to “0” which are for fans only!)

The Weekend Review: January 2011 Report

Originally posted 2011-05-15 23:30:36. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Chris Moore:

Hello and welcome to the first Weekend Review of the new year.  I hope you’ll enjoy our new monthly format, optimized for ease of use with the hope that you’ll be able to turn to LaptopSessions.com for new music news in 2011.  Hurry back next weekend for the February report!

The King is Dead
The DecemberistsProducer:
Tucker Martine

Released:
January 14, 2011

Rating:
4.5/5 stars

Top Two Tracks:
“Rox in the Box” & “Rise to Me”

After the impressive – and yet distracting – complexity of 2009’s The Hazards of Love, the Decemberists return to kick off 2011 with what may very possibly be the best album of the year.  The King is Dead, referred to as a “barn album” by band members in the deluxe edition doc Pendarvia, is an album of simple and yet profound beauty.While, to be fair, it lacks the mind-blowing scale of recent previous efforts, there is something to be said for a cohesive and eminently listenable collection of tracks.

Think of it as an acoustic rock masterpiece, headlined by the soaring “Rox in the Box” and the sing-along anthem waiting to happen “This is Why We Fight.”  Even the fully acoustic, balladic tracks like “Dear Avery” are gorgeous to such an extent that you won’t be able to skip the track, even if you’re on the road looking for a rock song.  Although the lead single, “Down By the Water,” lacks something of the “x factor” that makes songs truly great, it is still a tightly packaged, catchy tune indicative of the best of the King is Dead sound.  Oh, and if you think “Calamity Song” sounds like an aural love-child of R.E.M., you won’t be surprised to learn that it actually features Peter Buck on lead guitar.

Good, good stuff, and a high bar to be set this early in the year.

 

Mine is Yours
Cold War KidsProducer:
Jacquire King

Released:
January 25, 2011

Rating:
2.5/5 stars

Top Two Tracks:
“Royal Blue” & “Flying Upside Down”

2008’s Loyalty to Loyaltywas the album that introduced me to and left me in awe of the Cold War Kids.  Their unique sound and keen sense for mixing the slow and off-center with the straightforward and single-worthy led me to high expectations for their next release.Well, as is often the case with high expectations, the reality rarely compares.

Whether my reaction is due to what I had expected to find on Mine is Yours is honestly too early to say, but what I’ve heard here is a collection of underwhelming tracks, many of which seem to promise more than they deliver and are often longer than they deserve to be.  Tracks like “Royal Blue,” “Sensitive Kid,” and “Flying Upside Down” stand out as excellent without need of qualification, but others like “Broken Open,” “Louder Than Ever,” and “Cold Toes on the Cold Floor” beg for more consideration, more development, in order to reach the heights established on the previous record.

This is not to say that it should be like a sequel to Loyalty to Loyalty, but the songs of Mine is Yours should at least be as interesting.  While I was initially turned off by the slicker production values, I’ve entirely come around on that, which makes me wish that more attention to detail had been paid.

 

The Party
Ain’t Over

Wanda JacksonProducer:
Jack White

Released:
January 25, 2011

Rating:
3.5/5 stars

Top Two Tracks:
“Shakin’ All Over” & “Nervous Breakdown”

Slogans like “The Queen of Rockabilly” don’t typically entice me to purchase music, but in this case, it was bookended by Jack White’s name in the production credits and a nod to Bob Dylan’s “Thunder on the Mountain.”In short, I couldn’t resist at least one listen.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that The Party Ain’t Over holds up to repeated listens, fronted by the outstanding “Shakin’ All Over,” a track that aptly blends the gritty alternative sound for which White is so well known with the sonic signature of 50s rock and, I suppose, rockabilly.  Here, as on the rest of the record, riffs abound and Jackson’s ragged voice establishes her in my mind as the female equivalent of a contemporary Dylan, in vocal delivery if not in lyricism, craftsmanship, etc.  In the area of originality, it is clear she doesn’t hold a candle to aforementioned Bard, but her choice of covers is impeccably fitting: a devastating take on “Busted” (see: Johnny Cash), the closest anyone has come to covering a 2000s Dylan track without earning a sneer from me, and a redefining arrangement of Amy Winehouse’s “You Know That I’m No Good.”

Even the latter half tracks are enjoyable, foot-tappers like “Nervous Breakdown” and “Dust on the Bible,” as well as slower tunes such as “Blue Yodel #6” (not to be confused with #4, or my personal favorite, #9).  All in all, for an impulse purchase out of raw curiosity, The Party Ain’t Over is a testament to Jack White’s capabilities as producer and studio musician; it may not be the best album of 2011, but it bears a certain quality and strength of arrangement (both within tracks and across the album) that it deserves to be noticed.

The BEST VOCAL PERFORMANCES of 2011 (The Year-End Awards)

Originally posted 2012-01-16 20:00:47. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Chris Moore:

This is a tough category.  All of the songs on the my upcoming top fifty songs list have excellent vocals, many of which are standout performances.  However, there are also songs that go unrecognized on the top fifty list that are notable for their outstanding vocals.  Thus, as a rule, songs included in the top fifty list are not considered here.

I suppose you could consider this my way of sneaking in an extra ten songs that I didn’t find room for on my best songs list, but I hope you’ll consider it an additional category.  These ten songs are great in their own rights, but especially by virtue of the excellence of their vocals.  Some are smooth, some are rough; some are passionately outraged, some are tenderly heartfelt.  Taken together, they’re the standout vocal performances of 2011:

1) “Something to Believe In” – Parachute (The Way It Was)

2) “Estate Sale Sign” – The Mountain Goats (All Eternals Deck)

3) “Blue Spotted Tail” – Fleet Foxes (Helplessness Blues)

4) “Shakin’ All Over” – Wanda Jackson (The Party Ain’t Over)

5) “2012” – The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger (La Carotte Bleue)

6) “When You Wish Upon A Star” – Brian Wilson (In the Key of Disney)

7) “Talking At The Same Time” – Tom Waits (Bad As Me)

8 ) “Sunloathe” – Wilco (The Whole Love)

9) “Bridge Burning” – Foo Fighters (Wasting Light)

10) “Amy, I” – Jack’s Mannequin (People And Things)

 

“It Don’t Come Easy” (Ringo Starr Cover)

Originally posted 2008-01-26 23:17:59. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Chris Moore:

Hello and welcome back to another brand-new Laptop Session! Jim and I have been laughing this week about how funny it is that Ringo has used his classic phrase “it don’t come easy” in at least one song for his past three albums. This is, of course, a reference to his early hit “It Don’t Come Easy,” one of the first solo Beatles singles. I figured, why not go right to the source? So, here I am singing this great Ringo tune!

I just bought his new album, Liverpool 8, last week, and I have really been enjoying it. I was hesitant to buy it, since I had heard that he severed his working relationship with Mark Hudson. However, I was excited to see that Ringo, Hudson, and the Roundheads (Ringo’s studio band) co-wrote all but one of the songs on the album. And it had a lot to live up to — after all, Ringo Rama and Choose Love are great, if underrated, albums. In the end, I have to recommend it, whether you’re a fan of Ringo and/or rock ‘n roll. I’ll certainly be recording a Laptop Session for “If It’s Love That You Want” — track 10 — if not others in the future. And I’m not going to say much more than that about the album, but look for an article from me about Ringo’s and George Harrison’s solo careers in the coming weeks!

As always, thanks so much for listening (and reading)… I hope you enjoy it! Don’t forget to come back to LaptopSessions.com tomorrow for an all-new session from Jeff!