beasts of bourbon - sour mash

Beasts of Bourbon: Sour Mash (1988)

We all have those people in our lives who act as our musical sherpas, guiding us on paths we would not have otherwise taken to discover aural delights that reverberate in our souls and ears.  Over the last six or so years the largest of those people has been Henry Rollins, via his weekly KCRW radio show (seriously, listen here) as well as his collection of Fanatic books where he provides liner notes for every radio show.  Through him I discovered the hotbed of great music that’s been coming out of Australia for years, specifically the swerving, booze-drenched blues insanity of  The Beasts of Bourbon, here represented by their second album,  Sour Mash. Continue reading “Beasts of Bourbon: Sour Mash (1988)”

beastie boys - paul's boutique

Beastie Boys: Paul’s Boutique (1989)

The sonic leap between License to Ill and Paul’s Boutique is – quite frankly – insane.  Freed from the shackles of Def Jam, Rick Rubin, and expectations of the fun but juvenile hip-hop of their debut, Mike D., Ad Rock and MCA, aka the Beastie Boys were able to dive deep into their influences and craft one of the best albums of all time, regardless of genre.  We can certainly argue this, but you’d be wrong. Continue reading “Beastie Boys: Paul’s Boutique (1989)”

bathory - blood fire death

Bathory: Blood Fire Death (1988)

So here’s why you sometimes have to be dubious of what you buy.  After finally succumbing to the black metal bug, I decided I needed to dig deeper in Bathory, one of the primal godfathers of the genre.  I had heard the earlier stuff but didn’t own anything beyond the final two albums which – as we’ll see in a few days – were decidedly different.  So after deliberation I decided to start with Blood Fire Death, the touchstone for mainman Quorthon’s transition from the gnarly black metal of his earlier album into the more viking metal pomp if his later stuff.  And so I bought a CD off of Amazon.

From the Kraze label. Continue reading “Bathory: Blood Fire Death (1988)”

angry samoans - the unboxed set

Angry Samoans: The Unboxed Set (1995)

Back in 1993 I got this amazing hardcore punk compilation called Faster & Louder.  It was my first introduction to a larger world than I knew from the Dead Kennedys and Minor Threat.  Bands like The Dicks, SSD, Mission of Burma and D.O.A. blew my mind, but it was the 52 second blast of “Lights Out” from the Angry Samoans that really struck my young brain’s fancy.  For years that was all I knew of the band, but that changed with The Unboxed Set, which collects all of the band’s 12′ release onto one compact disc.  Continue reading “Angry Samoans: The Unboxed Set (1995)”

allan holdsworth - iou

Allan Holdsworth: i.o.u. (1982)

Guitarists whose playing is truly unique and identifiable are few and far between.  Sure, you can maybe listen to two seconds of a solo and know who’s playing it and what song it’s off of, but what if it were a new song?  Eddie Van Halen?  Sure.  Brian May?  Maybe.  If Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughn were alive I’d throw them into the mix.  But one person truly deserving of being in that conversation is the late, great Allan Holdsworth, whose virtuosity on the instrument is matched by his unique way of using harmony to construct massively complex chord structures that delicately balance straight jazz, fusion, and pop.  I.O.U. stands out as a masterpiece that recalls the best of what Holdsworth brought to music, still vibrantly alive almost 40 years after it was recorded. Continue reading “Allan Holdsworth: i.o.u. (1982)”

al di meola, john mclaughlin and paco de lucia - friday night in san francisco

Al Di Meola, John McLaughlin & Paco De Lucia: Friday Night in San Francisco (1981)

Oh man…almost 30 years since first hearing this and it sounds just as fresh, just as vibrant, just as alive as the first time I heard it.  Friday Night in San Francisco is more than just a live document of three guitar virtuosos at the top of their game; it’s a seminal work of music, astounding in its passion, technicality, and execution, and a high water mark for Al Di Meola, John McLaughin, and Paco De Lucia.  It’s bar none one of my favorite records of all time, and remains for me the apex of what you can do with a guitar, unadorned, armed with only your love of making music. Continue reading “Al Di Meola, John McLaughlin & Paco De Lucia: Friday Night in San Francisco (1981)”