Guilty (and Not-So-Guilty) Pleasures, Take 2

Okay, it’s been a long time since I’ve done one of these and I’ve been wanting to for a while, so here goes …in no particular order 🙂

Donna SummerLove to Love You Baby (mp3, 5.2 MB, 5:29)
I’m just young enough to have missed active participation in the disco era. However, my brother who’s 5 years older than me was in high school and a DJ at school dances. I can’t tell you how many times he had to be told to turn down his music during what I can only assume were his practice runs in his bedroom, which was in the basement. And I distinctly remember how this Donna Summer song made the square I was absolutely blush! Even now when I listen to this tune, I can’t help saying to myself, “What a horny, horny woman!”

Mike Oldfield AmarokFar Above the Cloud (mp3, 7.7 MB, 5:30)
Mike Oldfield defies categorization, for he has experimented with so many in his career of 30+ years. Many are those who know some of his music without knowing that it’s his, like his first work, Tubular Bells (1973), which was used in the score for The Exorcist. I believe the tune from Tubular Bells III posted here — as BeeGoddess M has found out with great horror and trepidation — is best listened to VERY loud and in a car going at least 140 km/h.

Keith Jarrett Köhl ConcertKöhl Concert, Part I (mp3, 29.0 MB, 26:01)
In a total change of pace, I come to Keith Jarrett. His Köhl Concert — a masterpiece of improvisation — is one of the best-selling jazz albums of all time. To this day I can recall with great fondness a (paradoxically) perfectly choreographed train ride from Moncton to Halifax in 1983 when I listened to it on a Walkman I had borrowed from a guy in high school named Carlos Torrealba. (I wonder whatever happened to him.) Like the great late Glenn Gould, Jarrett can often be heard humming along and belting out orgasmic-like exclamations as he plays. Here I offer you the goosebump-inducing 26-minute, 29-megabyte “Part I” of the Köhl Concert. Sit in your favorite spot, maybe put on your headphones if you have a pair, and do absolutely nothing. Just listen…

Vicky LeandrosAfter the intensity of Keith Jarrett, you’re now due for a few nice big hunks of cheese.
I ekdromi (mp3, 2.8 MB, 2:59)
Un jour mon rêve (mp3, 2.6 MB, 2:44)
Après toi (mp3, 3.3 MB, 3:29)
The Greek-born Vicky Leandros is not as well known in North America as she is in Europe, and in my mind, her most memorable stuff came in the late 1960s and early 1970s. I remember hearing “Un jour mon rêve” as I was falling asleep as a kid listening to CKAC 730 AM Montréal when it was still a music station. I recall how listening to a Montréal radio station from Moncton, some 650 miles away, almost felt like an exploit if not a terribly exotic thing to do. I rediscovered the very cheesy yet soul shattering “Après toi” about 7 or 8 years ago; it won the 1972 Eurovision song contest.

Belle and Sebastian in concertRhoda (mp3, 3.1 MB, 4:28)
I don’t know anything about the indie band Belle and Sebastian aside from what you can read for yourself. However, I came across this song by accident many years ago and it’s one of those anthems that haunts. It’s never been released on any of their albums, hence the very poor quality of this recording. For the sake of context, you need to know that Rhoda is the name of my longtime pal, The Queen of Sheba, and we lived together at Fort Needham in 1995-96. The lyrics are peculiar on so many levels: there’s the ambiguity of gender for sure, but there’s also how they oddly provide a reasonably accurate snapshot of the short time we lived together. The moments we would spend just the two of us in that apartment were like a break from the constant melodrama that was our lives at the time.

Johannes BrahmsPiano Trio in B Op 8 (mp3, 14.1 MB, 10:18)
I can’t even find words to describe how I feel when I listen to this work by that great romantic that was Brahms. You’ll just have to listen to it. The best description I’ve ever been able to come up with was “pee-in-your-pants gorgeous,” which certainly doesn’t do it justice. And completely unrelated, that inadequate description reminds me of how someone I know used to describe some extremely good-looking guy: “He’s so gorgeous, I’d drink his bath water! THAT’s how gorgeous he is!”

Glory SoundtrackCharging Fort Wagner (mp3, 2.7 MB, 2:52)
I remember being turned off by the violence of Glory, but then again, it was a film about the American Civil War. I really ought to rent it one of these days, since it’s been 18 years since I saw it and it’s now considered one of the best films on that tragic period in history. However, I clearly wasn’t so turned off as not to buy the soundtrack …on vinyl, no less. You could still do that in 1989. And I remember being taken off guard one night, sitting at the now-defunct Bistro, when I was moved to tears by this piece on my Walkman. (Yeah, yeah …I had taped it from the vinyl, lest you think I had some weird Walkman that played LPs.) Powerful. Sad. Tragic.

Morricone The MissionGabriel’s Oboe (mp3, 1.8 MB, 2:40)
I won’t get into why — although there was a reason and it had nothing to do with the film itself — but I remember playing The Mission over and over and crying like a baby.

Adagio, Sym. 5 C-sharp-min. (mp3, 8.4 MB, 11:18)
Meanwhile, before we leave the theme of soundtracks, I will now confess that I first recall hearing the adagio of Gustav Mahler’s 5th symphony to great effect in — get this! — a gay porn video. I know… You wouldn’t think. And I’m not suggesting it elevated the flick to high art. But at least there was a decent effort to have some kind of plot, which is usually considered less than secondary in such films.

Janis IanAt Seventeen (mp3, 5.3 MB, 4:40)
Leave it to a proudly out lesbian like Janis Ian to come up with a song that hits the nail on the head of teenage angst of being an outcast. Ah! I was barely 17 myself when I came out, which admittedly is sooner than many, but so many slices of that time I remember well; others, I’ve selectively blotted out of my memory. I do remember, however, how desperately I wanted to be out of high school so that I could begin living. Those were the exact words that would cross my mind: “so that I can begin living.”

Christopher CrossRide Like the Wind (mp3, 3.9 MB, 4:16)
Very related to Janis Ian, Christopher Cross was for me the bridge from the 1970s to the 1980s — a sound that signalled that something other than the decade was changing. Thoughts of riding like the wind, moving on, and just being an adult were tantamount to me. That’s interesting to me, for as much as I so wanted to become an adult, even as a child, my adulthood has been nothing like I expected it would be. I assume it’s typical to think that. Or is it that, once I had license, I never allowed myself to ride like the wind?

A Flock of SeagullsWishing (mp3, 5.0 MB, 5:31)
In that transitional time in early 1980s, groups like A Flock of Seagulls, Tears for Fear and Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (OMD) hadn’t sold out yet to the lowest common (commercial) denominator. When people roll their eyes when music of the ’80s is mentioned, they’re probably thinking of what came from 1984 onwards. Because it seems to me that, musically, the early ’80s were almost a decade on their own: definitely not the ’70s anymore, but not the stereotypical ’80s we think of today.

Toto AfricaAfrica
In fact, a tune like Toto’s “Africa” is, to me, as descriptive (in a good way) of the early 1980s musically. Every time I listen to it, I’m reminded of a walk in Point Pleasant Park on a hot summer day with my first boyfriend. We had come for a few days’ vacation to Halifax from Moncton, and back in 1983, it wasn’t that odd to walk around with a dinky tape recorder instead of a Walkman, which we did. I have no idea what has happened to Claude; unfortunately, my first boyfriend is one of only two significant boyfriends with whom I have not remained friends.

Murray HeadSay It Ain’t So, Joe (mp3, 4.3 MB, 4:39)
And to close this post, let’s backtrack to 1976. Hard to believe that Murray Head is the same guy as “One Night in Bangkok” in 1984, but I guess that just goes to illustrate my point on how music took a bad turn by ’84. To be totally truthful, though, I first heard this song some 20 years after it was released. And completely unrelated, fans of Buffy the Vampire Slayer might be interested to know that Murray’s brother Anthony is the star of that show (which I’ve never seen, by the way).