What We're Listening To

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What We're Listening To

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We're only in it for the money   [sound recording] CD We're only in it for the money [sound recording]

Zappa, Frank.

One of my favorite Zappa/Mothers albums, this is a viciously witty send-up of the Beatles' "Sgt. Pepper" album and late-60s hippie culture in general. This is also one of Zappa's more accessible albums - it's not quite as aggressively experimental as some of his other albums. A great place to start for those new to Zappa.

Recommended by Rob @ Stanwood Library

Solo   [sound recording] :   songs my dad loved CD Solo [sound recording] : songs my dad loved

Skaggs, Ricky.

A delightful collection of classic bluegrass songs, performed with Skaggs' usual heart and talent, and great musicians collaborating.

Recommended by Dawn @ Mountlake Terrace Library

Rubber soul   [sound recording]. CD Rubber soul [sound recording].

Lennon, John, 1940-1980.

More from their classic "middle period", with John's sardonic "Norwegian Wood" and nostalgic "In My Life" -- this one shows them leaving their moptop era behind.

Recommended by David

Revolver   [sound recording]. CD Revolver [sound recording].

Lennon, John, 1940-1980.

Freed from having to perform live, the Beatles experimented more with arrangements, and this CD shows them stretching out, with the chamber music of "Eleanor Rigby" and the early psychedelia of "Tommorrow Never Knows", along with such good-time songs as "Got to Get You Into My Life" and "Good Day Sunshine". (Oh, and note the punning title: you see, kids, when this was an LP, it was played on a turntable...)

Recommended by David

Beatles for sale   [sound recording]. CD Beatles for sale [sound recording].

The Beatles

Touring non-stop made it difficult to write new material, so this one is almost half covers. Still, you can't argue with such quality songs as "Eight Days a Week" and "I'm a Loser".

Recommended by David

The best of Rosa Passos   [sound recording]. CD The best of Rosa Passos [sound recording].

Passos, Rosa. prf

Despite the fact that this is a hodgepodge of Rosa tracks from throughout her career, there's a consistently relaxed feel to this collection of samba and MPB.

Recommended by David

Amorosa   [sound recording] CD Amorosa [sound recording]

Passos, Rosa.

Diana Krall, watch your back! Brazilian music isn't known for its powerhouse vocalists, so Rosa Passos' delicate murmur is perfect for this romantic collection, and it's a treat to hear her cover some of the same songs that Diana Krall has made her fortune with.

Recommended by David

Merriweather post pavilion   [sound recording] CD Merriweather post pavilion [sound recording]


It's been quite a while that a CD made me sit up and take notice like this one. Because I'm a geezer, I've been listening to music since they recorded on shellac, so the influences I can hear run the gamut from the Beatles and the Beach Boys to My Bloody Valentine and even My Morning Jacket. What I find so appealing is that all these combine in new ways, and you never know what'll bubble up into the mix next.

Suggested by David

Song for my father   [sound recording] :   (cantiga para meu pai) CD Song for my father [sound recording] : (cantiga para meu pai)

Silver, Horace, 1928-

I got into Horace Silver in a backwards way; listening to "Song for My Father" on a Blue Note anthology, I thought "Pretty cool that old guy slipping in a Steely Dan reference!" Then I read that Silver recorded the track in 1964... If you listen to "Rikki Don't Lose That Number" by Steely Dan, the first few seconds are a direct lift/tribute, and rightly so, it's a great jazz album.

Recommended by David

Preludes for piano, books 1 & 2   [sound recording] CD Preludes for piano, books 1 & 2 [sound recording]

Debussy, Claude, 1862-1918.

While many composers wrote "pure music", Debussy never shied away from painting specific pictures with his melodies, and some of his most ethereal are in this collection.

Recommended by David

Getz CD Getz

Getz, Stan, 1927-1991.

After Miles Davis, Stan Getz is the definition of cool in jazz, and this classic recording features his breakout song "The Girl from Ipanema". Put this on and summer begins...

Recommended by David

Santogold   [sound recording]. CD Santogold [sound recording].

Santogold. prf

Listening to the first few tracks, I thought, "Oh, another Two-Tone revival!" But Santogold have more up their collective sleeves than ska/reggae influences -- this is a fun grab-bag of diverse styles.

Suggested by David

Beat this!   [sound recording] :   the best of the English Beat. CD Beat this! [sound recording] : the best of the English Beat.


This is a great collection by The (English) Beat, who were on the other end of the ska revival in Britain in the late 70's. Features half of their 5 star first album "I Just Can't Stop It" plus some later, less infectious singles -- but you get the bonus dub of "Stand Down, Margaret", alone worth the price of admission.

Recommended by David

On the corner   [sound recording] CD On the corner [sound recording]

Davis, Miles.

Man, was this album trashed upon its initial release! Miles was accused of dumbing down his sound in an attempt to cash in on the way more lucrative rock market. I confess I avoided this one at the time, but listening to it now, I hear the template that Herbie Hancock simplified and then took to the bank a year later with "Head Hunters". In Miles' version, the sound is densely layered over a dynamite rhythm section; still Miles all the way.

Recommended (way too late!) by David

Rising Down CD Rising Down

The Roots

Long one of the most creative forces in hip-hop, this 2008 release ranks among the best The Roots have produced. Dark, entrancing songs compliment the rapping of Black Thought, as well as several strong guest MC appearances. The social commentary on this album is biting and insightful. Worth a serious listen by anyone who enjoys rap and hip-hop.

Recommended by Chy

7 worlds collide  [electronic resource] :  Neil Finn & friends live at the St. James. eAudio Book 7 worlds collide [electronic resource] : Neil Finn & friends live at the St. James.

Finn, Neil, 1958- prf

For my money, Neil Finn (formerly of Crowded House) is THE great under-appreciated songwriter of the last twenty years or so. Between albums, he decided to gather a group of musical friends to perform each others' songs and have some fun, and this concert is the result, featuring members of Radiohead, Eddie Vedder from Pearl Jam and Johnny Marr, former guitarist for The Smiths. (Track down the DVD for the full concert.)

Recommended by David.

Lester Young  [sound recording] :  Ken Burns jazz. CD Lester Young [sound recording] : Ken Burns jazz.

Young, Lester, 1909-1959.

Lester Young, known as "Prez" (and for his distinctive pork pie hat), is considered one of the greatest sax players in jazz. His cool relaxed approach influenced Stan Getz among others, and this complilation offers a great selection.

Suggested by David

The best of Joy Division  [sound recording]. CD The best of Joy Division [sound recording].

Joy Division (Musical group)

With 2 recent films about Joy Division (and their troubled singer Ian Curtis), I thought I should explore more of their music beyond their hit "Love Will Tear Us Apart". I heard bits of the Cure and even U2, and I swear that in Ian Curtis' tortured robotic delivery, I heard echoes of Jim Morrison and even Frank Sinatra. (When I later read the liner notes, I found it wasn't just me!)

Recommended by David

Head hunters  [sound recording] CD Head hunters [sound recording]

Hancock, Herbie, 1940-

The first track "Chameleon" is aptly named, because for me, Herbie Hancock's talent lies in his ability to adapt to his surroundings, whether it's the Sly Stone style funk of this CD, or his work with such greats as Miles Davis and Joni Mitchell.

Recommended by David

Speak no evil  [sound recording] CD Speak no evil [sound recording]

Shorter, Wayne. cmp prf

What I like most about Wayne Shorter's music is the feeling that you are overhearing a conversation between musicians. Shorter's melodies aren't so much statements as they are questions, and in pieces like "Infant Eyes", there's a sense of stillness as the soloists take time to think about their responses.

Recommended by David

Tabula rasa  [sound recording] CD Tabula rasa [sound recording]

Part, Arvo.

Estonian composer Arvo Part writes classical music pared down to drones, scales and "tintinnabulation" (the sound of bells). The result is some of the most introspective and spiritually significant instrumental music of the 20th century. "Cantus in Memory of Benjamin Britten" was used in the soundtrack for Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11", and this CD offers a good sampling of Part's styles.

Recommended by David

Jesus of cool  [sound recording] CD Jesus of cool [sound recording]

Lowe, Nick. prf

In Bizarro World, performers like Nick Lowe and Marshall Crenshaw are kazillion-selling artists, because they are both masters of the 3 minute pop song. However, here on Earth, Nick Lowe's "Jesus of Cool" (issued in the colonies as "Pure Pop for Now People") flew under the radar of most listeners. Nick didn't exactly invent punk or new wave, but his fingerprints are everywhere, and this album, reissued with lots of bonus tracks, shows his range.

Recommended by David

Lust lust lust  [sound recording] CD Lust lust lust [sound recording]

Raveonettes (Musical group)

If you can't be original, at least you can throw your influences into a blender and come up with an interesting mix, and that's just what the Raveonettes have accomplished. Think goth-surf, with some My Bloody Valentine guitar noise-fuzz on top.

Suggested by David

People gonna talk  [sound recording] CD People gonna talk [sound recording]

Hunter, James, guitarist.

First time I heard this, I liked it, but the second time, I REALLY liked it. Hunter's in the blues/soul tradition of Sam Cooke and Ben E. King, the band cooks (and has fun 'quoting' other songs) -- perfect for your next barbeque, if your friends are as cool as you are.

Suggested by David

Inspiration  [sound recording] CD Inspiration [sound recording]

Lynne Arriale Trio.

Lynne Arriale is an NPR favorite, and it's no wonder. She's got a delicate touch at the piano and sensitive support from her trio. I especially liked her versions of "A House Is Not a Home" and Abdullah Ibrahim's South African classic "Mountain of the Night".

Suggested by David

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