A Week in the Life of Listening, Part 4

With the Buyer's Guide coming to a roaring end, I couldn't wait to relax over the weekend. I told Stephen that I could work on Saturday, but he insisted on being the coolest boss ever and told me to go home and listen to music.

To celebrate my Buyer's Guide freedom, I played Rush's Hemispheres. Though not one of my favorite Rush albums, on vinyl, the album has particular intensity not captured on CD: an aggressiveness, a rip-roaring tear through the seams of rock'n'roll. Alex Lifeson's guitar is huge and demanding. He adds so much presence and girth to the power trio. Geddy Lee's bass lines are oh-so-melodious, and Neil Peart's drumming is, of course, exhilarating and hypnotic. He rides his hi-hat perfectly in sync with the rest of the band. The most exciting part of the album, though, was the gong at the end of Cygnus X-1 Book II Hemispheres, simply because I never noticed it before.

Following the epic, hard-rocking, prog rock was some in-yo-face free-jazz: Coltrane's Sun Ship. I was not as familiar with Coltrane's free-jazz period, so Sun Ship came as a surprise. Coltrane removed any notion of coherent melody, and instead, blows his saxophone inspired by the other musicians, creating a raw and intense emotional soundwave. At times the result is a hailstorm of notes, cutting out the middle of the sax entirely, jumping from the top register to the bottom. At other times, Trane explodes in a melody of exaltation, similar to "Part 2: Resolution" of A Love Supreme, lifting the music to a spiritual height. Also on Sun Ship are Jimmy Garrison (bass), McCoy Tyner (piano), and Elvin Jones (drums). Jones is the second star on that album, constantly weaving his drum lines with Coltrane and Tyner's call and response.

Concluding my Friday listening was the "Ice Man", soul legend Jerry Butler. I got into Butler last summer in the Stereophile office, thanks to Pandora Radio, which guessed that I would like him. Boy, were they right.

At a flea market in Chelsea, right next to J-10's apartment, I found Butler's second album, the Gamble and Huff produced Ice on Ice. The album has one of my favorite lyrics of all time: "Ain't it strange how sounds can let you down / When you're waiting for the one you love." The song, "When You're Alone" is heart-wrenching, and the acoustic guitar work and flutes are also quite beautiful. Simply put: Get This Album.