Saturday, May 19, 2018

My 5-Year Project

2017 was a good, but grueling, year for me musically. It was my first full year on the Sputnik Music website, and although I always try to keep up with interesting new music, by the end of the year, I felt I'd overdone it. In the end, I think I listened to about 95 or 96 new LPs that qualified for end of the year Best-Of lists, and that's not even counting the various new compilations, live albums and EPs that included some songs qualified for my Top 20 Songs list. And when I say listen, we're talking five or six listens minimum to each album. After it was over, I felt like like someone who maybe should have passed up the third helpings of a sonic Thanksgiving dinner.

Don't get me wrong, I love to stay as current as I can on new music, especially new music in the genres that I like. But it got so I was compulsively consuming so much new stuff that I had little time left for music from the past that I already knew I like.

I hate to say ... um, write ... this out loud in this way, but I'm 61 years old now. I've been a music lover in one way or another since the mid-sixties, so that's five decades of music that I was, if not completely ignoring, then at least severely neglecting. (Don't tell the guys on Sputnik that, or I'll never hear the end of it. Some of them suspect that I'm older than pretty much everyone else on the site, but most them have no idea how old I am. And I don't want their perception of my age to color the way that they read my reviews. They already give enough guff to some guys whom I know are a decade or two younger than me.)

So what I decided to do was to try to cut down on how much time I focus on new music in 2018, and to go back and re-experience in as fresh a way as possible some of the older music I love best. So being the good little obsessive-compulsive, list-making nut that I am, what I did was to map out a 5-Year Project to go back and re-listen to music by the bands I've listed as my Favorite 25 Bands of All Time. Because who knows how much time any of has left on this planet. In all honesty, I've never lived the healthiest lifestyle, so when I was younger, I never even thought I'd make it to this age. (On the other hand, my grandmother on my father's side lived into her nineties, as did her mother, so don't count me out yet either.) So I've chosen to go back and re-enjoy the music of the bands I hold most dear. And starting this past January, I begun to do just that.

Now lately, especially with a small hiatus that's been going on in my live-show schedule, this blog has basically just turned into a place where I post my album reviews. I enjoy doing that, but its not all that I envisioned this blog to be when I created it.

So from time to time, I'm going to take a break from the constant barrage of album and live show reviews to post about each of these 25 bands/musicians as I re-experience them, not so much to try to write about their history (because let's face it, you could look most of that up right now on Wikipedia and a hundred other sources if you wanted to), but mainly about why they're in my Top 25 Bands list. What is it I love about them? What do I think were their strongest and weakest releases, where do I think they rate objectively in the grand scheme of music history (as opposed to where they subjectively rate for me)?

You might ask me, "Are these really your Favorite 25 Bands of All Time?" (You might. Go ahead. Try it.) And the answer is mostly, but with some qualifiers. For one thing, the only local, non-national act I've included on my list is my wife Denise's original band The Slant. As some of you know, I was very involved in the local music scene, especially from the late nineties through the mid-2000s, so much so that in reality, I'm more emotionally attached to some of local bands and their music than I am to some of the bands on my list. (And so, if I make it through these next five years, I've got another project involving favorite local bands loosely planned for years six and seven.)

Also, to a certain extent, if I were to really examine my feelings, some of the list would probably change a little every day. In fifty years of music, I've loved and respected the music of so many bands that it's really hard to say "These guys are my favorites, forever and always."

At very least, though, I can definitely say that these are some bands that have enjoyed and will always enjoy, and I think that's the best I can do. The top few bands will probably always be my top few, so I'll be doing my list from the top on down. This way, if I step out my front door tomorrow to get the mail and I get annihilated by the falling toilet from the Mir space station like the little girl in that old show Dead Like Me, at least I'll have had the chance to re-listen to my top few.  After the first six-to-eight listed, they could really be in any order, though -- this is just the way I've chosen to organize them.

So without further ado, here's my list, in the order I'll be working through them:

Jethro Tull
The Who
Pink Floyd
The Good Rats
Procol Harum
Bruce Springsteen
Joni Mitchell
The Cars
The Police
The Smiths
The Go-Go's
Fleetwood Mac
'Til Tuesday
The Cranberries
The Slant
Future Bible Heroes
Black 47
Blackmore's Night

I've already spent this past January through March working my way through Jethro Tull's studio recordings, plus various live albums, concert DVDs and DVD bios, and sometime over the next few weeks, I'll be posting a write-up about them. I'm currently mid-way through The Who, which I plan to finish up by the end of June. Then I'll focus three months each on Pink Floyd and Yes, and that will take me through this year.

Hopefully, this will break of the monotony of too many album reviews here on the blog, and it will give you some insights into my musical tastes and preferences, and maybe make you think about your own. Who would be on your list?

Anyway, that's my plan, fellow music lovers. So keep your eyes on the sky, and watch out for crashing toilets hurtling down in my direction. And if none are forthcoming, maybe I can entertain you with some thoughts about the bands that I love the most, and the reasons that I love them.

Until then, Auf Wiedersehen!