Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Steve Forbert - The Next Big Thing Again!

Hey America and the World wake up we still have Steve Forbert.  In Hollywood's lust for the next big thing as Disney churns out more teen sensations that obliterate themselves once they hit twenty one, with cheap reality shows spitting out across the globe wannabes, and has beens trying for that last little glimmer of fame or first fast food commercial there is integrity, talent, fun and genius going on about its business waiting for nothing but you to notice and if you don't so what.

I'm talking about Steve Forbert of Romeo's Tune fame which reached No. 11 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1980.  Your parents heard it on the radio...a lot.  A musician who took on the record companies when they refused to release an album of his and put his career on hold because of the way the contract was written and the fight that ensued.  Its an old story that never sees the light of day and of course the artist isn't to blame.....just his management and then well growing up takes place, perspectives change and square one is revisited and lo and behold we have Steve Forbert back. 

Thank god we have Steve Forbert back.  In this day and age we need all the hope we can wrap our arms around. There's hope in his personal story let alone his music and talent that spins fresh and turns with so much essence of what is that it will refresh your very own roots of experience and realization with a touch of the sanguine and truth affirmed.

I first saw Steve in 1986 he opened for Arlo Guthrie and while I respected his obvious song writing skill I hadn't been hooked yet and then I saw his show.  I was hooked.  So I started my Steve Orbit journey that found me revisiting his music and digging and digging.  I knew there was something there if I just kept digging and now my cd collection and speakers are brimming with treasure I over looked, music that I thought would never be again an artist rediscovered who perhaps has rediscovered himself and we all go through this together and its sweet to have those deeper strings plucked.  

Here's what I've found out for my self.  I love his American in Me disc its where I would send anyone to start if they did not know Steve's work....keep listening his voice will grow on you if not instantly.  Then go get his reissues of Jack Rabbit Slim and Little Stevie Orbit.  There is a ton of material on those albums and the songs range all over the musical spectrum but still hang together the bonus material takes up a whole additional disc and is never filler - you get live takes and its all thoughtfully put together.  Familiarize yourself with his music and then go see him live.  Take your girlfriend, boyfriend or go alone you'll be glad you did.

With all the ridiculous bullshit we fill our lives up with (Kardashians, political stooges, war and putting the down trodden further down) Steve's music will remind you and reinforce whats good, whats essential and lift you up even after singing about being put down. 

Stronger lyric writing you don't come across often if ever.  A strong sense of melody and what just sounds good with excellent transitions, bridges, hooks, chorus and verse whether singing alone or with backing vocals and a band Steve's music is the unpretentious real deal and always has been the real deal.

So the question remains are you?

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Allman Brothers Band Virginia Beach 9/4/2013

Saw the ABB in V. Beach last night 5th row center - stood for two hours straight - massive air bass playing, head bopping and butane burning- I think I scared Oteil........the sound down front was beautiful but could have brought Greggs key board up a bit more in the mix.  Fun crowd not too drunk lots of hand shaking, smiles and interaction with everyone around us. 

They went old school to start the show which is what I was craving - That's what love will make you do was a surprise  - I thought oh no as it started and then was singing, dancing and sweating before it was over - sounded great.  They were very faithful to the original licks on Blue Sky, Jessica and Southbound but of course blazed their own in the moment imprint when stretching it out.  Lots and lots of energy.  The array of drums practically in our lap was huge and I was way into the drum break which is unusual for me!  Into the Mystic was extremely heartfelt and on point a beautiful rendition that had me mesmerized - Warren brought out a sweet new guitar for that number - the tone was excellent the mood was achieved.  And Grace Potter - well hells bells the chick sounded just like Bonnie Bramblet - I thought - no wonder these guys like her - she shimmied in front of Gregg at one point and well that was the biggest smile I've ever seen from him - I was happy to catch that moment.  Great rendition of The Weight reminded me exactly of Duane's version with Aretha Franklin thanks to Derek and the time signature of the band really special they nailed it.  Grace has some pipes on her.  That was so fun! 

Here's a set list I found looks mostly right to me might be missing a song around Statesboro blues.  They also teased out a little Mountain Jam during Jessica.  Lots of veterans and service boys in the crowd as well who were pumped to see their Allman Brother Band - a very good show, lots of energy - the sound was excellent did not use ear plugs - no ringing - awesome weather beautiful night surrounded by loved ones - what more could you ask for!

Don't Want You No More >
It's Not My Cross to Bear
Statesboro Blues
Don't Keep Me Wonderin'
That's What Love Will Make You Do
Midnight Rider >
Les Brers in A Minor
Blue Sky
Who to Believe
The Weight (w/ Grace Potter)
Done Somebody Wrong
One Way Out (w/ drums)

Into the Mystic*

Friday, August 09, 2013

Jerry Week Epilogue - Eternity The Music Never Stopped 8/9/2013

Eternity - The Music Never Stopped. Maybe my CD player is haunted or rather through music consciousness beyond the mundane gets to flourish.

Jerry Week Epilogue: With antennas up and positively being open to it a dusting off of the imagination and a laugh, why step beyond. Can the message be any clearer? Within Eternity the music never stops, the music of life, the music of love, the music of fulfillment, the music of self the song of the same that feeling you have when you are firing on all cylinders. Could it possibly be can I say for sure well for sure to me is a distinct possibility how could it not be?

Eternity...the music never stopped. If you held a séance and you heard a voice would you be so surprised to hear those words, “Eternity…the music never stopped,” with a shrug? Wouldn't it be all you needed to know? Eternity the music never stopped whether here or there. We know it hasn't here and the allegedly "random" occurrence or the digital shuffle of divinity or just an old friend exercising his power having a chuckle, making a point and with the same old ease? Synchronicity? Coincidence? Debate it doubt it sneer at it I see beneath your protestations the ramifications on you of possible truth and the life you live on Terra Firma. Did you want a signed letter? An active imagination? You’ve learned the hard way not to ignore it and to nurture strength if you are going to crack the door for a daring peak. We shouldn’t know that’s why we don’t but here it is and there it is as well?

Hey easy rider you'll get this because you were not looking for it you found it because you were not listening for it you heard it because you are open to it you got it, noticed it later, and then put it together easy rider the not subtle plainly occurring manifestation of truth. Ahhhh but now the doubt the skepticism how could it be but why couldn’t it be who’s to say its not supposed to happen or did happen or could happen or didn’t happen but there it is happening and what to make of it.....nothing if you like but not me.

Put a crooked smile on my face and be reminded the ordinary is extraordinary in the strangest of places on a treadmill, in a room, preoccupied with breathing, surrounded by music and light feeling and listening. Quiet mind, stretching body and so my grateful friends no mystical trappings, no men in robes collecting money a message perhaps maybe yes maybe no but received nonetheless eternity here and now here or there on your way to and fro moving there or moving here the music never stopped. Was he as surprised as I am or just reporting back the now known and I didn't think anything was going to happen this week ....shucks, crooked smile, amused, brows raised unnecessarily comforted but the honor of awareness just the same (~):D.

Jerry Week - The Music Never Stopped 8/6/2013

Last night the CD changer set to random for six compact discs - 3 ABB- 3 Grateful Dead while I hit the treadmill for my hour run - kept circling back to different versions of "The Music Never Stopped" I swear I heard it three times. That coupled with Eternity being the first song to kick off my Jerry week has lead me to believe my cd player is haunted..... (~):D

Jerry Week Update - 8/7/2013

Old men sing about their dreams, women laugh and children scream from last night representing Cowboy Jerry. Notable: Played "Comes A Time" off the Reflections Album. Typically I avoid the more obscure songs but all the Jerry tunes were well received. They loved Peter Rowans "Midnight Moonlight". Trust me "Ripple" is an obscure song to this crowd. Although I got a shout out over "Dark Hollow" so go figure. It was a good night lots of applause lots of good vibes, old friends stopping by.  I was particularly fond of the senior who sat and read quietly and then told me how much she enjoyed it and that she'll be back next week. Someone else told me they had been reading "Journey Home" yeah I had a good night thanks Jer' (~):D!

Ramblings from Jerry Week - Eternity 8/2/2013

 Finally got the music rolling at the house Friday and selected Englishtown 1977 it has an outstanding version of Eye's of the World that I featured on my show. I had a bootleg album from "Rick's Cafe" back in the day. I held the cover together with electrical tape because it wore out (~):D. 

 Also grabbed what I consider the best - best of collection the Rhino disc from 2003 and I have a So Many Roads sampler.  I threw them in my Pioneer CD six pack changer with the new Brothers and Sister release the ABB from Winterland and the remastered Brothers and Sister studio and hit the random button. 

"Eternity" was the first song that came up - fairly fitting I thought - and had a grateful weekend!

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Alvin Lee and The Road To Freedom

"There are many forks on the road to freedom and the road to nowhere is one of them" - Graham Alvin Barnes

Alvin's post Ten Years After career moves must have been a jolt to his fans from the Woodstock days.  He shredded all over two continents and worked his tail off but pulled up in 1972.  "I was in danger of joining the dead before 30 club" he said in his last albums liner notes.  Those liner notes from Still On The Road To Freedom are a wonderful final thought to his tried and true fans that hung his posters and played his music not only for themselves but to others as often as they could.  He wanted freedom from long tour schedules playing every night in huge arenas where "the sound echoed like a freight shed" and "security was armed police with cotton in their ears".  He wanted a life outside of all that and I'm happy for him and his family that he orchestrated that for himself. 

As a player you want your audience as quiet as possible so they can hear the nuances of your singing, playing and tone.  You're putting your heart and soul into it you don't want someone blabbing about how drunk they got last week down front.  Then there are the managers who view you as a commodity.  Alvin wanted freedom from "satisfying other peoples greed" as well as the freedom to make his own music.  He didn't want his music to be "commercially premeditated" and he has in the vault twenty more tunes from the past four years in some various form of finality.  The thirteen on his last album he said he liked the best.

Alvin wanted the music to speak for itself and I can totally get behind his attitude of playing what he wanted whether it was his mad love affair with 1950's rockabilly or even a little fiddle music.  Far from the flat out shredding which I personally loved and he obviously enjoyed his post TYA career is a musical menagerie as if listening to a satellite or college radio station mixing one format after another.  His post TYA carrer is perfectly bookend by his first album On the Road to Freedom and Still on the Road to Freedom.  Drop these two discs into any player and you will have a cornucopia of solid sounds, peaceful tunes, back porch picking, wonderful lyrics and as always some serious shredding flying from all manner of fret boards. 

For new fans or old fans to get a grip on an output that went unnoticed by most but included at least forty one albums (at last count) I'm going to offer up a short suggested Alvin Lee Catalog. 

Shhh - Ten Years After
Undead - Ten Years After (2002- Decca Records)
Cricklewood Green - Ten Years After
Essential Ten Years After - (Chrysalis E2 21857) (the one with the flaming guitar)
On The Road To Freedom
Pure Blues
The Best of Alvin Lee (Rep 5257) (the one where he looks like a 1950's greaser)
Still On The Road To Freedom

Shhh is right up there with Cricklewood Green - I love this album its gritty, it floats, there's a tremendous version of Good Morning Little School Girl, there's a John Lee Hookeresque tune called The Stomp that will make you sit up and take notice.  I Don't Know, That You Don't Know is that soft quiet acoustic number that always fits so well juxtaposed to his high energy singing and playing.  Two Time Momma sounds like something Canned Heat would have done (Goin Up The Country).  Its a great album recorded in 1969 a year before Cricklewood Green.

Undead is a live album that they rushed out because of fame and fortune and well I'm glad they did.  It is a snap shot in time of Ten Years After recorded live in front of a small audience.  It swings, it shreds, its the raw blues, it jams, its the young voice, its the excellent drumming and bass work, its the essence of rock n' roll with all its rolled up sleeves, attitude and energy.  Get the reissue because it includes four additional tracks from the show.  How Alvin just rolls through those live licks is astounding.  It includes the tunes Spoonful, Summertime, Woodchopper's Ball, and Crossroads.  The lads are just in their mid-twenty's, and great liner notes from drummer Ric Lee.

Cricklewood Green is such a great album I've devoted another article to it on a previous post.  The two collections Essential and Best of neatly wrap up the Ten Years After catalog and his post TYA career respectively.  If you need help working out or cleaning the house put Essential in and power through it immaculately.  Essential is a tour de force of high energy Ten Years After spanning their catalog and blistering your speakers.  Alternatively Best of is an outstanding double disc with a breadth of playing styles that will not disappoint.  His cover of I Want You (She So Heavy-Beatles) is phenomenal, crunchy and just plain impressive.  It will grab you right away.  Of course The Bluest Blues is here a song with his neighbor George Harrison to which Alvin was especially proud.

Pure Blues pulls together tracks from his entire career opening with an all acoustic number including both TYA tunes and Alvin Lee solo project tunes.  Thirteen choice cuts across various labels that's a must have and a complete no brainer when it comes to appreciating Alvin's talents and completing your catalog.

And then there is 2012's:
Still on the Road to Freedom what a wonderful farewell to his friends, family and fans.  There's multitude of riffs and formats represented here but it all hangs together wonderfully.  Shades of Mark Knopfler come to the top in the opening cuts and then a blues riff that Little Walter would have been proud of dove tails into a 1950's bop Elvis and Carl Perkins would have fought over.  Walk on Walk Tall is another slight gear shift acoustic finger style number followed by a blues finger style number and then quiet horns introduce Song of the Red Rock Mountain.  Song of the Red Rock mountain is just a beautiful number no lyrics, but stylish playing, that evokes a little spanish/western feel to me with shades of Leo Kottke.  He could have put out a whole album like this and the acoustic, new age folk fans and labels would have had an epiphany.  Still on the Road to Freedom closes out with Love Like a Man Pt. 2 and Alvin unmercifully, unleashes his trade mark power guitar to our delight.  But wait as if to say goodbye there's a surprise and a beautiful quiet hidden track takes a bow at the end.

I'll miss Alvin Lee but I'll never stop listening to his music.  His Crickelwood Green Poster has followed me from home to home, studio to studio and will always have a presence where I create and where I live and remind me what to bring on my road to freedom.

Walk On
Walk Tall
Be Strong
Don't Fall
Walk On
To the End
Be my Friend

(It's a deal Alvin)

Monday, April 08, 2013

Alvin Lee - Cricklwood Green

I was just a kid riding around in the back seat of a fast back mustang when my older brother popped into his eight track player Cricklewood Green.  Up popped Sugar the Road with its stabbing opening riffs, in your face lyrics, "what about the people that scream and shout just give em fifty years and they might work it out" and by the end of that four minute song with its blistering leads I was hooked.

The next song Working on the Road chugs in and at the one minute and fifty mark unleashes a torrent of Alvin Lee licks surrounded by a melodic chorus.  Well then who started rap was it the jazz scat singers who cares Alvin is spitting out lyrics and licks as fast as humanly possible that defy the chugging rhythm section and I'm rockin hard my fifteen year old head.

I'm having a good time headed somewhere in the aftermath of the sixties all in on the peace and love.  I mean hell the President and then his brother, the Vietnam War, dead bodies coming home all over the news along with actual war footage and Nixon being impeached, acid, pot, the summer of love, Woodstock, Selma Alabama and righteousness seems like a helluva lot better way to go than bullshit violence to me 50,000 miles Beneath My Brain.

Screaming at the Stars the intro weaves its way in slowly and the build up is immense and intense with a ferocious bass riff launching into a fuzzed up and out of this world riff that just keeps driving and driving, the bass launching an attack, the guitar answering back all in the tonal fuzz of the time...."yeah, yeah, yeah" never sounded so good.

Can you love me with a thousand eyes?
Can you see right through my bones?
Can you kiss me with a thousand lips?
Can you melt a solid stone?
Can you hear me from a thousand miles
When you're screaming at the stars?
Can you pull me up to jupiter
When I'm all hung up on mars?

And then the rollicking, rolling riff that ties up the end.  Holly shit this music has my attention and "Why the hell have you been hiding this from me"!  My brother tells the story to this day.

A false fade out with another taste of the furious 50,000 mile ending then a sonic intro to a classic Nashville 50's rockabilly back beat, with classic 60's lyrics and blistering Chet Atkins riffs just flying off the fret board.  What the what?  Just relentless playing back in the mix fast and clean shwee. 

Me and My Baby Never Get The Blues....Me and My Baby Never Get Uptight... Me and My Baby Never Do a Damn Thing Right.  I mean how perfect is that sentiment for righteous, rebel love.  Me and My Baby Always Feeling Good Love Each Other Sure No Reason Why We Should the righteous ha in your face lyrics couched in a bouncy up beat swing session and two upbeat songs in a row have you feeling pretty snappy and then in drops the bomb!

Love Like a Man:  Another quintessential riff rumbles along and around the two minute mark builds with organ and slashing full chords and Alvin just takes off flying with shearing rock riffs dashing off the fret board sent through a wonderful distortion and delay and how it builds in a cataclysmic orgy of sound busting through any preconceived notions knitting Hendrix and the Doors together in an aha moment of hey this is what all music should sound like. Forget Clapton is God Alvin Lee has tapped into the consciousness of the cosmos.

Circles comes floating down next through the ethereal with an acoustic guitar.  This is a hall of fame closing song for any concept album a thoughtful introspection with Zepplin like acoustic embellishments and its a beautiful moment, a beautiful outro to a blistering album framed in an atmospheric tonal sense and universe worthy of Arvo Part.

I have got what I once dreamed of As a child, so long ago  
But my life just goes in circles ’Cause one answer I don’t know
Does it matter what I do  

Who will hear me if I cry?  
Does it matter what I do 
Does it matter if I die?

Wow rinsed and complete, cool fresh air filling your lungs after an other worldly immense workout.  But wait Cricklewood Green isn't over it deftly brings back the meaningful heaviness.  As The Sun Still Burns Away slowly comes to the fore an ode to our unconsciousness attitude "as few say thank you for the day".  Alvin is letting us know we aren't living in the right frame as affects of the industrial world stomp through his classic rock n' roll wail blowing apart the soft landing of Circles.  

The beauty of eight tracks is that they wind right around to the beginning again and in moments we're having a good time baby having a ball.  

"Keep Working for your pension until your sixty five don't dig it at all, no, no don't dig it at all"  and has much changed?  

Back in the day when albums were works of art from beginning to end Cricklwood Green sits up on the top shelf.  Alvin Lee has left behind some phenomenal music and we will always have it with us if we are smart enough to look behind the glare of the current media and pop rock commercial fame machine which he stepped away from.  I'm so glad he enjoyed his freedom.  I highly recommend revisiting his catalog his music stands the test of time and Cricklwood Green is his most fully realized album.    

Monday, February 18, 2013

Allman Brothers and Outlaws - Best of the Rest

The Allman Brothers occupy a full shelf in my library tons of CD's Studio, Hits compilation, Mycology is a good one, Box sets, Decade of Hits is also good and live releases including last years show in Raleigh.  There are several albums which had great songs on them but did not make it onto official collections so I am closing the loop so to speak.  There are also a string of albums I would rather forget during the Arista years when Clive Davis tried to milk some more money out of them and turn them into the Dobbie Brothers.  Clearly needing a break creatively the bands sound got homogenized with horns, fiddles and back up signers and lots of synth for the mass market and lost its bearing.  The well was a bit dry but the albums that came before and later Win Lose or Draw, Enlightened Rogues and Seven Turns have some outstanding tracks.

Mycology grabs the strongest tracks off Seven Turns but as an album that came next Shades of Two Worlds is a monster tour de force overlooked powerhouse that sits nicely next to Filmore East.  If you are an Allman Brothers Fan you need to own this entire disc!

The Outlaws are another story they split up before they could get rolling.  Their first two albums Outlaws, and Lady in Waiting have a great variety of strong tracks, vocals, harmonies and fierce playing.  Their third album Hurry Sundown seems to predict their demise or unconscious desire to get away from each other.  Whether they were too busy counting their money or in a power struggle with Henry Paul I do not know.  Even though they derailed themselves those first two albums were a lot of fun when they came out and still stand up very well.  Henry Paul released a nice solo album around this time that is also worth owning.  There is an outstanding Best of the Outlaws: Green Grass and High Tides collection that captures most everything and is a must have but for me it left a few sweet cuts off from the first three albums.  Hughie Thomasson, and Billy Jones sounded great together and the original 1970's line up is worth hearing.

What I did with this Best of the Rest collection was mix in one Outlaw number in between two Allman Brother numbers.  I kicked the whole thing off with Keep Prayin' Everythings Gonna Be Alright by the Outlaws.  This disc is a proud, strong, spirited addition to my collection and closes with Dickie Betts saying, "lets do this one for the two brothers".  Here's the track list.  If you go for it you will find some unearthed nuggets that will put a big old smile on your face.  It all fits on an 80 minute disc and mixes real well.  Without further adieu here's the Allman Brothers and the Outlaws - The Best of the Rest!

Keep Prayin - (Outlaws)
Pegasus - (Enlightened Rogues)
Need Your Love So Bad - (Enlightened Rogues)
Just For You - (Lady In Waiting)
Nevertheless - (Win Lose or Draw)
Can't Lose What You Never Had - (Win Lose or Draw)
Hearin' My Heart Talkin - (Hurry Sundown)
Win, Lose or Draw - (Win Lose or Draw)
Gamblers Roll - (Seven Turns)
Song in the Breeze - (Outlaws)
High Falls - (Win Lose or Draw)
True Gravity - (Seven Turns)
Aint So Bad - (Lady in Waiting)
Sail Away - (Enlightened Rogues) 

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Bruce Springsteen The Promise vs The Darkness

What to do Bruce Springsteen is starting to amass a massive catalog.  Darkness on the Edge of Town being the last point for me in trying to keep up.  Other music beckoned but Bruce and the New Jersey Shore have always held a special place in my heart.  The Promise now out has more selections from the Darkness era and I like it better.

I thought that would get your attention.  While Darkness is a great album there are a few tunes that don't do it for me. I was on board from the beginning with Greetings but after Born to Run I slowly drifted away. The River never took hold for me and the whole Born in the USA thing struck me as a Pepsi commercial.

That being said if that's what you liked more power to you and I'm not here to dissuade any of you we all have personal taste.  The Promise is right in my wheel house.  When I first heard this album I thought WOW Bruce is back and then I realized what this disc is all about. (See I'm not an obsessive fan).

I will add that those that think these are fourth tier songs after 18 Tracks (which I like and own as well) I would add not so fast. Obviously these were bare bone tracks that Bruce & Co. wanted to go back in and tweak. Rough cuts that maybe he planned on re-recording a long time ago and didn't get around to doing until now. The other more complete tracks released in the meantime. I have no way of knowing. But I really do think the batch of songs on The Promise are accessible and track after track I think top Darkness.  Believe me I think Adam Raised a Cain is a tour de-force and one of my all time favorite efforts ever by Bruce but while Promise doesn't contain any throat grabbing tracks like Adam/Cain or Candy's Room it is more consistent from the first to last track.  I can't say that about Darkness. Again just my opinion but maybe useful for others out there.  The Promise is a strong consistently good album from beginning to end.

In putting a Bruce Springsteen Collection Together I would stick with the first releases Asbury Park, The Wild and The Innocent, Born to Run, The Promise, 18 Tracks and Live/1975–85. 

In any event I took the opportunity to reacquaint myself with Bruce's huge catalog and threw together a Bruce Best of Volume II so to speak cherry picking off his massive collection after Born to Run.  Here are the songs and sequence.  It turned out real well thought I would share.

Adam Raised a Cain
Prove it All Night
Lucky Town
Your Own Worst Enemy
Girls in Their Summer Clothes :)
Brilliant Disguise
Tunnel of Love
Candy's Room
One Step Up
Old Dan Tucker
Cadillac Ranch
Long Walk Home
The Promised Land
Radio Nowhere
The River
My Beautiful Reward
Worlds Apart

That all fits onto one 80 minute disc largely taken from Darkness on The Edge-Magic also Lucky Town, The Rising, The River, Tunnel of Love and Seeger Sessions. Impossible to stay current on Bruce's career unless you are all in devoted and his releases after Born to Run have been spotty for me. But now that he has so many discs out you can pull gems off of everything and make yourself a really nice disc. Bruce is still kicking out some great music.  It might not be wall to wall on one album but the man keeps working and this Mp3 disc, Promise and the albums above square me with Bruce Springsteen and are a proud addition to my collection.  Now we need the weather to just get a little nicer and spring to get here!

Paul McCartney Monkberry Moon Delight

Paul McCartney is another like Van Morrison and Bruce Springsteen his output and arc is massive.  That's a good thing - lots to choose from - that's a bad thing no one disc is going to be an epic greatest hit or like the the first few.  Its a hit and miss proposition.  I mean this is a man who recorded Ebony and Ivory as well as Monkberry Moon Delight.  Yikes Paul you are not going to please everyone all the time.  So outside of a few albums I would say burn your own collection.  Not every song is going to be a masterpiece and certainly its the rare album that's going to be mind blowing one song after the next.   Be that as it may Paul has some beautiful work out there its just up to us to assemble it into our own collections.  Watch the cost be stingy and you can distill it all down to a few albums you must have (Ram - Wingspan) and a compilation or two.

Here's my compilation mp3 ideas and sequence for "Sir" Paul It fits on to one 80 minute disc:

Accentuate the Positive
Little Woman Love
Sunshine Sometime
Riding into Jaipur
Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five
The Song We Were Singing
Baby's Request
My Very Good Friend the Mailman
Dance Tonight
Used to be Bad
Cut Me Some Slack
Big Barn Bed
We Can work it Out
Blue Moon of Kentucky
Honey Hush
Letting Go
Spin it On
That Would be Something
Hey Diddle
You Gave me the Answer

The albums the selections came from are: Band on the Run - Driving Rain- Flaming Pie - Kisses on the Bottom - McCartney - Memory Almost Full - Ram Deluxe - Red Rose Speedway - Run Devil Run and Unplugged. Good luck out there Paul's got some gems - you just have to wade through a lot of song samples - hope this helps.

Van Morrison Where To Begin Look at the Man

Van Morrison's musical and lyrical arc is so massive and extensive that his various phases and growth don't please all the people all the time and his catalog is a bear to navigate.

It's impossible to catch this breadth in any greatest hits compilation (Still on Top having been recently released).  Van really is an artist where you should just burn your own compilation.

Van's got some great albums that work well as an album concept but again after decades of output not every album is going to hit the note track after track.  That's just a creative and physical impossibility if you are making music for a living.  Not that the artist with integrity doesn't try.  Its what makes the muse so elusive and dynamic if catching lightning in a bottle hasn't been used to death.  So after you purchase a core group of albums save your money you will never listen to it all and download some hand selected mp3s that speak to you.  For instance Moondance has a stellar side one but side two is weaker (albums remember we had to flip them well no one flipped Moondance.  That's how good side one was so that album is perfect for ripping mp3's.

Here's my suggested albums to own followed by my two 80 minute mp3 collections.  I'm just putting this out there for those new to Van or old timers who gave up keeping up because his output is so ridiculously huge and covers a lifetime.  Suggested albums to own in their entirety are as follows:

Tupelo Honey - Hard Nose the Highway - It's Too Late to Stop Now (Live) - Veedon Fleece - Common One - Hymns to the Silence - Down The Road - At The Movies - Philosopher's Stone - His Band and Street Choir

Some people are more into the early years (Gloria) but I'm more into the mystic/secular vs the overtly religious (that's just me) I wouldn't argue taste.  Van's like a 100 flavored ice cream store so pick your favorite albums and burn the rest.  Some people are ga, ga over Avalon Sunset.  I say rock on with your bad self but not for me.

Here's my suggestion compilation and order Disc One fits an 80 minute disc:

Dweller on the Threshold
And it Stoned Me
Into the Mystic
Here Comes the Night
Brown Eyed Girl
Green Mansions
Pagan Streams
The Way Young Lovers Do
Have I Told You Lately
Bright Side of the Road

I made that disc years ago - here's my recent compilation, sequence and it fits onto an 80 minute disc as well:

Across the Bridge Where Angels Dwell
Precious Time
I've Been Working
Blue Monday
The Healing Game
I'll Be Your Lover Too
Sweet thing
Crazy Face
Someone like You
The Way Young Lovers Do (apparently I like that tune)
Saint Dominics Preview
Close Enough For Jazz
In the Garden
Inarticulate Speech of the Heart (part 1)
Celtic Swing

The albums these cuts came from are Astral Weeks - Beautiful Vision - Born to Sing - His Band and Street Choir- Inarticulate Speech of the Heart - Still on Top.

Good luck out there hope that gives you some ideas to explore.