• Randy Newman - Sail Away

    The third studio album by American singer-songwriter Randy Newman, Sail Away released in 1972. The album is known for its satirical and ironic lyrics that explore themes of American culture, racism, and imperialism, set against a backdrop of lush orchestration and Newman's distinctive piano playing. The title track, "Sail Away," is a tongue-in-cheek anthem inviting people from around the world to come to America and enjoy the "good life," despite the country's history of slavery and oppression. Other standout tracks include "Political Science," which imagines a world where America drops atomic bombs on other countries to solve its problems, and "You Can Leave Your Hat On," a seductive and playful song about love and desire. Overall, "Sail Away" is a masterful album that showcases Newman's wit, intelligence, and musical talent.

    Listen to the album: https://open.spotify.com/album/7ojNQckNp7Tj2BkLJCiiUL

    Website: https://www.polyphonicpress.com

    Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/polyphonicpress

    17m | May 30, 2023
  • Bob Dylan - The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan

    Bob Dylan's second album, The Freewheeling Bob Dylan is where Dylan's songwriting started to flourish. At just the age of twenty one, he was writing songs that were thought-provoking, unusual, and humourous. With songs like Blowin' In The Wind, Girl From The North Country, and Don't Think Twice It's All Right coming right out of the gate, it's not wonder this album is considered a classic among classics.

    Listen to the album: https://open.spotify.com/album/0o1uFxZ1VTviqvNaYkTJek

    Website: https://www.polyphonicpress.com

    Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/polyphonicpress

    18m | May 23, 2023
  • The Police - Outlandos d'Amour

    The debut album by The Police, Outlandos d'Amour may not have their signature sound that they later developed. It does however give a glimpse into the band as they were beginning. With short punchy songs, it's easy to forget that Sting, Stewart Copeland, and Andy Summers are accomplished musicians. This is something in fact they tried to hide so they would appear more "punk". This album definitely has the energy of punk rock, but with more of a pop sensibility.

    Listen to the album here: https://open.spotify.com/album/1H9g6j4Wwj6wh6p8YHVtkf

    Website: https://www.polyphonicpress.com

    Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/polyphonicpress

    25m | May 16, 2023
  • Fats Domino - This Is Fats

    Fats Domino's album This Is Fats is a glimpse into the beginnings of Rock N Roll. Although a lot of the songs have a similar feel to them, they are distinctly his. His signature piano playing shines through on this collection of early Rock & Roll staples. Being one of the pioneers and leaders of a musical movement, Fats Domino's music deserves to be celebrated and recognized for what it is.

    Listen to the album here: https://music.apple.com/ca/album/this-is-fats/1181366209

    Website: https://www.polyphonicpress.com

    Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/polyphonicpress

    15m | May 9, 2023
  • Finley Quaye - Maverick A Strike

    Scottish singer/songwriter Finley Quaye's debut album Maverick A Strike has a wide range of genres. Everything from psychedelia, to soul, R&B, and reggae. This eclectic variety can be polarizing. It can take the listener a while to catch on to the flow of the album, but by the time you get the final track, you're fully engaged.

    Listen to the album here: https://open.spotify.com/album/6CBOvGgpmCOUz42VseThUf

    Website: https://www.polyphonicpress.com

    Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/polyphonicpress

    15m | May 2, 2023
  • Miriam Makeba - Miriam Makeba

    Miriam Makeba's debut album was unfortunately not a success when it was first released. With most songs sung in her native language of Xhosa, western audiences were lukewarm on the singer. However, her follow-up album was a bigger success and thankfully listeners were more open and went back to rediscover this masterpiece full of playful melodies, and interesting instrumentation.

    Listen to the album here: https://open.spotify.com/album/1x0hxEsfIUX7NR2ovzDY8n

    Website: https://www.polyphonicpress.com

    Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/polyphonicpress

    20m | Apr 25, 2023
  • Marty Robbins - Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs

    Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs is exactly what it sounds like. A collection of country and western songs that capture the spirit and cinematic quality of the genre. Songs about murder, gunfighting and just generally being an outlaw pack this album. After listening to it from top to bottom, you feel like you’ve seen a movie or read a book. Although this isn’t a concept album, it still has a running theme throughout. 

    Listen the album here: https://open.spotify.com/album/3kQpBS26lAj0A0VGl1snRl

    Website: https://www.polyphonicpress.com

    Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/polyphonicpress

    18m | Apr 18, 2023
  • Eric Clapton - 461 Ocean Boulevard

    "461 Ocean Boulevard is Eric Clapton's second studio solo album, arriving after his side project of Derek and the Dominos and a long struggle with heroin addiction. Although there are some new reggae influences, the album doesn't sound all that different from the rock, pop, blues, country, and R&B amalgam of Eric Clapton. However, 461 Ocean Boulevard is a tighter, more focused outing that enables Clapton to stretch out instrumentally. Furthermore, the pop concessions on the album -- the sleek production, the concise running times -- don't detract from the rootsy origins of the material, whether it's Johnny Otis' "Willie and the Hand Jive," the traditional blues "Motherless Children," Bob Marley's "I Shot the Sheriff," or Clapton's emotional original "Let It Grow." With its relaxed, friendly atmosphere and strong bluesy roots, 461 Ocean Boulevard set the template for Clapton's '70s albums. Though he tried hard to make an album exactly like it, he never quite managed to replicate its charms." - Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Allmusic

    18m | Jul 20, 2022
  • Jackson Browne - Late For The Sky

    "On his third album, Jackson Browne returned to the themes of his debut record (love, loss, identity, apocalypse) and, amazingly, delved even deeper into them. "For a Dancer," a meditation on death like the first album's "Song for Adam," is a more eloquent eulogy; "Farther On" extends the "moving on" point of "Looking Into You"; "Before the Deluge" is a glimpse beyond the apocalypse evoked on "My Opening Farewell" and the second album's "For Everyman." If Browne had seemed to question everything in his first records, here he even questioned himself. "For me some words come easy, but I know that they don't mean that much," he sang on the opening track, "Late for the Sky," and added in "Farther On," "I'm not sure what I'm trying to say." Yet his seeming uncertainty and self-doubt reflected the size and complexity of the problems he was addressing in these songs, and few had ever explored such territory, much less mapped it so well. "The Late Show," the album's thematic center, doubted but ultimately affirmed the nature of relationships, while by the end, "After the Deluge," if "only a few survived," the human race continued nonetheless. It was a lot to put into a pop music album, but Browne stretched the limits of what could be found in what he called "the beauty in songs," just as Bob Dylan had a decade before." - William Ruhlmann, All Music

    36m | Apr 12, 2022
  • Lynyrd Skynyrd - (Pronounced 'Lĕh-'nérd 'Skin-'nérd)

    "The Allman Brothers came first, but Lynyrd Skynyrd epitomized Southern rock. The Allmans were exceptionally gifted musicians, as much bluesmen as rockers. Skynyrd was nothing but rockers, and they were Southern rockers to the bone. This didn't just mean that they were rednecks, but that they brought it all together -- the blues, country, garage rock, Southern poetry -- in a way that sounded more like the South than even the Allmans. And a large portion of that derives from their hard, lean edge, which was nowhere more apparent than on their debut album, Pronounced Leh-Nerd Skin-Nerd. Produced by Al Kooper, there are few records that sound this raw and uncompromising, especially records by debut bands. Then again, few bands sound this confident and fully formed with their first record. Perhaps the record is stronger because it's only eight songs, so there isn't a wasted moment, but that doesn't discount the sheer strength of each song. Consider the opening juxtaposition of the rollicking "I Ain't the One" with the heartbreaking "Tuesday's Gone." Two songs couldn't be more opposed, yet Skynyrd sounds equally convincing on both. If that's all the record did, it would still be fondly regarded, but it wouldn't have been influential. The genius of Skynyrd is that they un-self-consciously blended album-oriented hard rock, blues, country, and garage rock, turning it all into a distinctive sound that sounds familiar but thoroughly unique. On top of that, there's the highly individual voice of Ronnie Van Zant, a songwriter who isn't afraid to be nakedly sentimental, spin tales of the South, or to twist macho conventions with humor. And, lest we forget, while he does this, the band rocks like a motherf*cker. It's the birth of a great band that birthed an entire genre with this album." - Stephen Thomas Erlewine, All Music

    54m | Apr 5, 2022
  • Dr. John - Dr. John's Gumbo

    "Dr. John's Gumbo bridged the gap between post-hippie rock and early rock & roll, blues, and R&B, offering a selection of classic New Orleans R&B, including "Tipitina" and "Junko Partner," updated with a gritty, funky beat. There aren't as many psychedelic flourishes as there were on his first two albums, but the ones that are present enhance his sweeping vision of American roots music. And that sly fusion of styles makes Dr. John's Gumbo one of Dr. John's finest albums." - Stephen Thomas Erlewine, All Music

    48m | Mar 29, 2022
  • The Band - The Band

    "The Band's first album, Music from Big Pink, seemed to come out of nowhere, with its ramshackle musical blend and songs of rural tragedy. The Band, the group's second album, was a more deliberate and even more accomplished effort, partially because the players had become a more cohesive unit, and partially because guitarist Robbie Robertson had taken over the songwriting, writing or co-writing all 12 songs. Though a Canadian, Robertson focused on a series of American archetypes from the union worker in "King Harvest (Has Surely Come)" and the retired sailor in "Rockin' Chair" to, most famously, the Confederate Civil War observer Virgil Cane in "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down." The album effectively mixed the kind of mournful songs that had dominated Music from Big Pink, here including "Whispering Pines" and "When You Awake" (both co-written by Richard Manuel), with rollicking up-tempo numbers like "Rag Mama Rag" and "Up on Cripple Creek" (both sung by Levon Helm and released as singles, with "Up on Cripple Creek" making the Top 40). As had been true of the first album, it was The Band's sound that stood out the most, from Helm's (and occasionally Manuel's) propulsive drumming to Robertson's distinctive guitar fills and the endlessly inventive keyboard textures of Garth Hudson, all topped by the rough, expressive singing of Manuel, Helm, and Rick Danko that mixed leads with harmonies. The arrangements were simultaneously loose and assured, giving the songs a timeless appeal, while the lyrics continued to paint portraits of 19th century rural life (especially Southern life, as references to Tennessee and Virginia made clear), its sometimes less savory aspects treated with warmth and humor." - William Ruhlmann, All Music

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    1h 12m | Mar 22, 2022
  • Richard & Linda Thompson - I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight

    "In 1974, Richard Thompson and the former Linda Peters released their first album together, and I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight was nothing short of a masterpiece, the starkly beautiful refinement of the promise of Thompson's solo debut, Henry the Human Fly. In Linda Thompson, Richard found a superb collaborator and a world-class vocalist; Linda possessed a voice as clear and rich as Sandy Denny's, but with a strength that could easily support Richard's often weighty material, and she proved capable of tackling anything presented to her, from the delicately mournful "Has He Got a Friend for Me" to the gleeful cynicism of "The Little Beggar Girl." And while Richard had already made clear that he was a songwriter to be reckoned with, on I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight he went from strength to strength. While the album's mood is decidedly darker than anything he'd recorded before, the sorrow of "Withered and Died," "The End of the Rainbow," and "The Great Valerio" spoke not of self-pity but of the contemplation of life's cruelties by a man who, at 25, had already been witness to more than his share. And though Thompson didn't give himself a guitar showcase quite like "Roll Over Vaughn Williams" on Henry the Human Fly, the brilliant solos that punctuated many of the songs were manna from heaven for any guitar enthusiast. While I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight may be the darkest music of Richard & Linda Thompson's career, in this chronicle of pain and longing they were able to forge music of striking and unmistakable beauty; if the lyrics often ponder the high stakes of our fate in this life, the music offered a glimpse of the joys that make the struggle worthwhile." - Mark Deming, All Music

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    54m | Mar 15, 2022
  • The Lemonheads - It's A Shame About Ray

    "If Lovey captured Evan Dando as he found his signature blend of punk-pop, jangle pop, and folk-rock, It's a Shame About Ray is where he perfected that style. Breezing by in under half an hour, the album is a simple collection of sunny melodies and hooks, delivered with typical nonchalance by Dando. None of the songs are about anything major, nor do they have astonishingly original melodies, but that's part of their charm -- they're immediately accessible and thoroughly catchy. Dando's laid-back observations of middle-class outcasts are minor gems. The heartbroken title track or "Confetti," the crushes of "Bit Part in Your Life," the love letter to substances "My Drug Buddy," or the wonderful "Alison's Starting to Happen," where a girl finds herself as she discovers punk rock, capture the laconic rhythms of suburbia, and his warm, friendly voice, which is offset by Juliana Hatfield's harmonies, gives the songs an emotional resonance. It's a Shame About Ray was later re-released with a competent punk-pop remake of Simon & Garfunkel's "Mrs. Robinson" added as a bonus track. As Dando approached stardom, the album was repressed again with the title of "My Drug Buddy" truncated to "Buddy." It was later restored to its original title." - Stephen Thomas Erlewine, All Music

    1h 7m | Mar 8, 2022
  • Fiona Apple - Tidal

    "Fiona Apple demonstrates considerable talent on her debut album, Tidal, but it is unformed, unfocused talent. Her voice is surprisingly rich and supple for a teenager, and her jazzy, sophisticated piano playing also belies her age. Given the right material, such talents could have flourished, but she has concentrated on her own compositions, which are nowhere near as impressive as her musicianship. Most of Tidal is comprised of confessional singer/songwriter material, and while they strive to say something deep and important, much of the lyrics settle for clichés. Apple does have a handful of impressive songs on Tidal, like the haunting "Shadowboxer" and "Sullen Girl," but the gap between her performing talents and songwriting skills is too large to make the album anything more than a promising, and very intriguing, debut." - Stephen Thomas Erlewine, All Music

    1h 0m | Mar 1, 2022
  • Ramones - Ramones

    In this episode we review Ramones' self-titled debut album. The album contains the classics Blitzkrieg Bop, 53rd & 3rd, and Judy Is A Punk.

    1h 11m | Feb 22, 2022
  • Alice Cooper - Love It To Death

    "Alice Cooper's third album, Love It to Death, can be pinpointed as the release when everything began to come together for the band. Their first couple of albums (Pretties for You and Easy Action) were both largely psychedelic/acid rock affairs and bore little comparison to the band's eventual rip-roaring, teenage-anthem direction. The main reason for the quintet's change was that the eventually legendary producer Bob Ezrin was on board for the first time and helped the Coopers focus their songwriting and sound, while they also perfected their trashy, violent, and theatrical stage show and image. One of the band's most instantly identifiable anthems, "I'm Eighteen," was what made the album a hit, as well as another classic, "Is It My Body." But like Alice Cooper's other albums from the early '70s, it was an incredibly consistent listen from beginning to end. The garage rocker "Caught in a Dream" as well as the ass-kicking "Long Way to Go" and a pair of epics -- the Doors-esque "Black Juju" and the eerie "Ballad of Dwight Fry" -- showed that Alice was easily in league with other high-energy Detroit bands of the era (MC5, Stooges). Love It to Death was the first of a string of classic releases from the original Alice Cooper group." - Greg Prato, All Music

    52m | Jan 11, 2022
  • The Go-Go's - Beauty & The Beat

    "It’s not quite right to say that the Go-Go’s' 1981 debut, Beauty and the Beat, is where new wave caught hold in the U.S., but it’s not quite wrong, either. Prior to this, there had certainly been new wave hits -- Blondie had been reaching the Top Ten for two years running -- but the Go-Go’s ushered in the era of big, bright stylish pop, spending six weeks at the top of the U.S. charts and generating two singles that defined the era: the cool groove of “Our Lips Are Sealed” and the exuberant “We Got the Beat.” So big were these two hits that they sometimes suggested that Beauty and the Beat was a hits-and-filler record, an impression escalated by the boost the Go-Go’s received from the just-launched MTV, yet that’s hardly the case. Beauty and the Beat is sharp, clever, and catchy, explicitly drawing from the well of pre-Beatles ‘60s pop -- girl group harmonies, to be sure, but surf-rock echoes throughout -- but filtering it through the nervy energy of punk. With the assistance of Rob Freeman, producer Richard Gottehrer -- a veteran of the Strangeloves (“I Want Candy”) who also wrote the girl group standard “My Boyfriend’s Back” -- sanded down the band’s rougher edges, keeping the emphasis on the hooks and harmonies but giving the Go-Go’s enough kick and jangle that at times the group resembles nothing less than early R.E.M., particularly on “How Much More” and “Tonite.” But this isn’t Murmur; there is nothing murky about Beauty and the Beat at all -- this is infectiously cheerful pop, so hooky it’s sometimes easy to overlook how well-written these tunes are, but it’s the sturdiness of the songs that makes Beauty and the Beat a new wave classic." - Stephen Thomas Erlewine, All Music

    1h 11m | Jan 4, 2022
  • Arcade Fire - Funeral

    "Fronted by the husband-and-wife team of Win Butler and Régine Chassagne, the Arcade Fire's emotional debut -- rendered even more poignant by the dedications to recently departed family members contained in its liner notes -- is brave, empowering, and dusted with something that many of the indie rock genre's more contrived acts desperately lack: an element of real danger. Funeral's mourners -- specifically Butler and Chassagne -- inhabit the same post-apocalyptic world as London Suede's Dog Man Star; they are broken, beaten, and ferociously romantic, reveling in the brutal beauty of their surroundings like a heathen Adam & Eve. "Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)," the first of four metaphorical forays into the geography of the soul, follows a pair of young lovers who meet in the middle of the town through tunnels that connect to their bedrooms. Over a soaring piano lead that's effectively doubled by distorted guitar, they reach a Lord of the Flies-tinged utopia where they can't even remember their names or the faces of their weeping parents. Butler sings like a lion-tamer whose whip grows shorter with each and every lash. He can barely contain himself, and when he lets loose it's both melodic and primal, like Berlin-era Bowie. "Neighborhood #2 (Laïka)" examines suicidal desperation through an angular Gang of Four prism; the hypnotic wash of strings and subtle meter changes of "Neighborhood #4 (7 Kettles)" winsomely capture the mundane doings of day-to-day existence; and "Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)," Funeral's victorious soul-thumping core, is a goose bump-inducing rallying cry centered around the notion that "the power's out in the heart of man, take it from your heart and put it in your hand." Arcade Fire are not bereft of whimsy. "Crown of Love" is like a wedding cake dropped in slow motion, utilizing a Johnny Mandel-style string section and a sweet, soda-pop-stand chorus to provide solace to a jilted lover yearning for a way back into the fold, and "Haiti" relies on a sunny island melody to explore the complexities of Chassagne's mercurial homeland. However, it's the sheer power and scope of cuts like "Wake Up" -- featuring all 15 musicians singing in unison -- and the mesmerizing, early-Roxy Music pulse of "Rebellion (Lies)" that make Funeral the remarkable achievement that it is. These are songs that pump blood back into the heart as fast and furiously as it's draining from the sleeve on which it beats, and by the time Chassagne dissects her love of riding "In the Backseat" with the radio on, despite her desperate fear of driving, Funeral's singular thread is finally revealed; love does conquer all, especially love for the cathartic power of music." - James Christopher Monger, All Music

    1h 3m | Nov 2, 2021
  • Dave Brubeck Quartet - Time Out

    "Dave Brubeck's defining masterpiece, Time Out is one of the most rhythmically innovative albums in jazz history, the first to consciously explore time signatures outside of the standard 4/4 beat or 3/4 waltz time. It was a risky move -- Brubeck's record company wasn't keen on releasing such an arty project, and many critics initially roasted him for tampering with jazz's rhythmic foundation. But for once, public taste was more advanced than that of the critics. Buoyed by a hit single in altoist Paul Desmond's ubiquitous "Take Five," Time Out became an unexpectedly huge success, and still ranks as one of the most popular jazz albums ever. That's a testament to Brubeck and Desmond's abilities as composers, because Time Out is full of challenges both subtle and overt -- it's just that they're not jarring. Brubeck's classic "Blue Rondo à la Turk" blends jazz with classical form and Turkish folk rhythms, while "Take Five," despite its overexposure, really is a masterpiece; listen to how well Desmond's solo phrasing fits the 5/4 meter, and how much Joe Morello's drum solo bends time without getting lost. The other selections are richly melodic as well, and even when the meters are even, the group sets up shifting polyrhythmic counterpoints that nod to African and Eastern musics. Some have come to disdain Time Out as its become increasingly synonymous with upscale coffeehouse ambience, but as someone once said of Shakespeare, it's really very good in spite of the people who like it. It doesn't just sound sophisticated -- it really is sophisticated music, which lends itself to cerebral appreciation, yet never stops swinging. Countless other musicians built on its pioneering experiments, yet it's amazingly accessible for all its advanced thinking, a rare feat in any art form. This belongs in even the most rudimentary jazz collection." - Steve Huey, All Music

    46m | Oct 7, 2021
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