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Recommendations (08.03.08) Today, I would like to recommend to you all to check out some of my favorite records by classic singers and songwriters, each who brought a very unique style of pop, soul and life to their music. I chose four artists and four albums that if you've never given a listen... well, you ought to consider starting now.
Bruce Springsteen - Born To Run (1982)
Widely considered to be the Boss' best work (although you could set-up a worthwhile argument for Born To Run as well), this is the record where his songwriting really came to shine. Initially intended to be a regular Bruce & the E Street Band album, the Boss decided he liked his acoustic demos so much, he would release them as the actual album. While you can hear them in electric form on any tour, this is the way you should hear them, as an intimate peek into the acclaimed songwriting talent from Bruce Springsteen, Jersey's hometown hero. Check out: The title track is simply awesome. BUY
Van Morrison - Astral Weeks (1968)
Van Morrison is one of those incredible songwriters who, in my eyes, go widely unnoticed by too many people in mainstream, modern music. His wildly passionate and genuine vocals offer up so much sincerity on his masterpiece, which took 30 years to go Gold, it makes this a rich tapestry of folk music, jazz and Irish soul - even you even know that existed. While many may not recognize the eight tracks on this disc, that is probably the best part about it: it's an album that has received so much acclaim across the board, contains no hits and still resonates a moody texture after 40 years. Overshadowed by the Beatles' fame and the rise of hard rock, this is an album any believer in real music needs to own. Check out: "Ballerina". BUY
Bob Marley and the Wailers - Exodus (1977)
Despite the addition of the Wailers in the artist title, this is actually a Marley record - it's his words, his revolutionary talent at the helm, and to many, the primordial reggae album of all-time. Containing three of the Jamaican songwriter's biggest international hits ("Jammin'," "One Love/People Get Ready" and "Waiting in Vain"), Marley wrote the album after an assassination attempt was made on his life. The overwhelming positivity and words of hope demonstrated by Marley's impeccable voice make it clear that the man is as close to a prophet as we could have found on Earth. Rich, beautiful and organic in such a profound way, this should be a record every single person needs to own. Check out: The title track might be one of the most beautiful pieces of music ever. Period. BUY
Marvin Gaye - What's Going On? (1971)
I'm going to go ahead and call this the best R&B/soul record of all-time. The reason I can make such an audacious claim like that is, well, a couple reasons:
1. Gaye has one of the best voices in music I have ever heard. For me, you can't top that gorgeous effect of harmony he prominently featured on all of his tracks.
2. This was Gaye's first attempt at a solo record. For years before, he was in a duo with Tammi Terrell, who collapsed dramatically in Gaye's arms whilst performing on stage with him and died. Gaye refused to record ever again (he even tried out to play for the Detroit Lions), and eventually, he got his inspiration back after co-writing the titular title track and standing his ground to legendary Motown Records CEO Barry Gordy, who thought the song was "too political".
The record was a massive success and again, showed how much of a remarkable talent Gaye was and how inspirational his words and music were to a generation. The album still holds an unwavering power over me due to its pure and endearing emotion, in which every word dripping from Gaye's mouth is so meretriciously spoken, you know he means everything he says. Check out: I still have to say, especially in this day and age, we could use another "What's Going On" right about now. BUY
Tags: recommendations, bruce springsteen, marvin gaye, van morrison, bob marley