iTunes Album Sale!

In one of my random RSS feeds was a notice that the iTunes store is having an album sale. Cool. $7.99 or less for some random assortment of albums. Sounds like a perfect opportunity to spend some of the $90 or so in gift credits I had on account.

Wow. Score! There are some really awesome albums in the lot. Yeah, yeah, still 128kbit/sec DRM’d, but I’m happy to optimistically assume that an upgrade option will be made available if and when any of the albums are available in an upgraded form.

With a six year old in the house, 2 dogs, and way too much crap, it isn’t like I have a listening environment where I can truly hear the difference anyway. Someday…

I ended up picking up 6 albums.

  • Miles Davis – Kind of Blue I picked up a couple of live set of Davis in Europe from the 1960 and 1961 tours. Damn. Smoking hot non-electronic jazz. Kind of Blue is the album that preceded that tour and it has all the energy of the live set, but with the precision only afforded in a studio session. If there is only one jazz album to own, this is an easy choice.
  • Cream – Disraeli Gears If you ever listened to classic rock radio stations, you have heard a song or two from this album. In passing. Maybe in the background. But listen more closely and you will hear the beginnings of what already were great musicians on the cusp of becoming legends. Jack Bruce, Ginger Baker and Eric Clapton. Beyond the obvious successes of Clapton, the Bruce and Baker have contributed to an unbelievable selection of music across many genres. As a bassist and pianist, Bruce worked with or toured with Ringo Starr, Bernie Worrel, Zappa, and Frampton. Baker’s drum work is flat out amazing on this album and throughout his career that spanned work in everything from pop to blues to techno to punk. The musicians work well together and their future potential is highly evident throughout this recording from the late ’60s.
  • Rolling Stones – Beggars Banquet Many people don’t realize the acoustic blues roots of the Stones. Beyond being a kickass rock and roll band, the Stones were brought up on a steady diet of blues and the entire band is composed of world class musicians that don’t need electronics or amplification to play one hell of a set. Beggars Banquet has the Stones returning to their acoustic blues roots while maintaining a bit of that psychedelic sound they had mastered in the previous years. Rich, raw, and intimate.
  • Queen – A Night at the Opera Yes, this is the album containing Bohemian Rhapsody. Listen closely, lose the Wayne’s World association, and you’ll discover an incredibly rich song with production values (and production budget) that had been unmatched prior to its recording. All of A Night at the Opera is in the same vein; it is complex, layered, and contains beautiful harmonies and compositions. Best of all, it is largely one big joke presented in that dry witty and serious way that only british humorists can pull off. Not only is this a brilliant album, but it is also a milestone in rock and roll. While the prog-rock crowd’s albums were frequently compared to A Night at the Opera, the Punk movement rebelled against everything this album stood for.
  • Curtis Mayfield – Superfly Who would have thought that the soundtrack to a forgettable early ’70s blaxploitation film would yield such a brilliant bit of Funk/Jazz/R&B that also managed to convey the harsh realities of inner city life? Because that is exactly what Mayfield did. Maybe because the musicianship is brilliant and the vocals generally sits on top of a thick bass groove and layers of hand drums and wah-wah guitars. And then you realize the stories that Mayfield is telling are so much deeper than the pap on the screen. This one album launched the blaxploitation movie soundtrack genre and went on to become a very widely sampled and covered album. Hell, the iTunes source has over a dozen covers of Pusherman alone. Kinda fun to throw this album on at a party and watch as the guests, one by one, go from “casual groove” to listening carefully to the stories being told…
  • Eminem – The Marshall Mathers LP Raw. Offensive. Violent. Homophobic. Whatever — all of those words have been thrown at Eminem and many, many, more accusations. This album has been a prime target. It is also an absolutely brilliant work of art. As A Night at the Opera is an astounding prog-rock production, this album is hip-hop at its most refined. The production work on this album is unbelievably tight– the use of ambient sounds, multiple voices, and the instrumentation all work together to amplify the verbal punch of Mather’s poetry. The result flawlessly paints an extremely vivid, often disturbing, portrait of whatever mish-mosh of reality and imagination that is the man known as Slim Shady, Eminem and Marshall Mathers.

There are a slew of other brilliant albums in the iTunes “discount bin” that I already own. I have no idea how long said sale will exist, but I definitely encourage folks to go have a poke around if purchasing through iTunes is compatible with your listening habits.

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