It’s About The Music

By: Gary Alan Barker
January 28th, 2021

With the coming of the new year 2021, I decided it was time to switch up my monthly article with a monthly music review featuring new releases on Qobuz, since that is where I source a lot of the music for my reviews. Regular readers will have an idea about my musical tastes, but I thought I would codify it a little more closely in this first article in order to give a frame of reference.

Historically I have always defined my musical tastes by what I don’t like, rather than by what I do like. I once tried to make a list of my favorite musicians being incredibly annoyed by those “Top Ten” lists (Top Ten wouldn’t even cover my favorite classical composers), when I reached a hundred and had barely scratched the surface, I gave up. I later tried limiting myself to drummers but came up with a similar result. I could probably do a list of singers, since I believe most singers to be simply adequate to the music and rarely exceptional or noteworthy, but still, even limiting myself to rock music, excising all of the wonderful crooners of time past, not to mention Opera singers and Musical performers, it would be a ponderous list indeed.

In the eighties, I would have described my musical tastes to include everything but Rap, Disco, and Italian Opera (I have always loved Wagner and Mozart, probably due to “Looney Tunes”), but have since developed an appreciation for Italian Opera (though I haven’t gone so far as to attend one or learn Italian so I could understand what all the wailing is about). There are even select Rap songs that I like (Chumbawamba and Weird Al’s “Amish Paradise” come to mind). My tolerance for Hip Hop and EDM is fairly limited. A single EDM song can be pretty amazing, but after listening to an album or two I realize that every song is the same song performed slightly differently. Repetitive electronic percussion grates on me, it always has, it takes the life out of the music. But my real weakness is hardcore middle of the road Pop. I literally couldn’t name a Britney Spears tune or even dredge up the names of any of her contemporary (I fully realize that she has probably not been a thing for the last 20 years, but at my age that was yesterday, and it was the only name I could think of in that genre) ilk. It’s not that they are bad, but more that I am bored after the first refrain. Auto-Tune also grates on me something awful, whether it is used as an effect or for its intended purpose, it just annoys me (I was shocked one day to hear my goddaughter replicating the Auto-Tune lilt while singing one of her favorite songs, it is amazing what the human voice is capable of).

A favorite story I like to relate when asked about my musical preferences goes like this; A friend of mine came to me and asked me for a selection of African Tribal Rhythms. He never asked if I had such a thing, or if such a thing existed, he just assumed that I had it to provide him, which as it turned out, I did. So depth and breadth as they say.  

That all being said, my core is ‘60s and ’70s Progressive Rock along with ’70s and ‘80s Avant-Garde, followed closely by Classical and Improvisational Jazz, well Improvisational music in general. I also have a real soft spot for crooners, especially baritones. Of course, there are also certain Folk, Country, Punk, New Wave, Blue Grass, Psychedelic, and Classic Rock artists that will always have a place in my heart.

Mostly I crave variety, excellence of performance, and complex rhythms.

Below is test list I use to evaluate gear in my reviews to pad out the picture, next month we’ll review some actual tunes:

AerosmithDream On Aerosmith 2496 kHz
Al DiMeola, Paco DeLucia & John McLaughlinFantasia SuiteFriday Night in San Francisco1DSD
Amanda McBroomShip in a BottleDreaming1644.1 kHz
Andrew Lloyd WebberThink Of MeThe Phantom Of The Opera (Original Cast Recording)1644.1 kHz
Arlo GuthrieComing into Los AngelesWoodstock1644.1 kHz
Arne Domnérus; Bengt Hallberg; Egil “Bop” Johansen; George Riedel; Lars ErstrandTake FiveJazz at the Pawnshop1644.1 kHz
BeckPaper TigerSea Change1DSD
Benny GoodmanIt Had to Be YouWrappin’ It Up: The Harry James Years, Vol. 21644.1 kHz
Billy JoelPiano ManPiano Man1DSD
Billy JoelThe Ballad Of Billy The KidPiano Man1DSD
Bing CrosbyToo-Ra-Loo-Ra-Loo-Ral (That’s an Irish Lullaby)Swingin’ on a Star 1644.1 kHz
Bing CrosbyWhite ChristmasThe EP Collection1644.1 kHz
Blood, Sweat and TearsThe BattleBlood, Sweat and Tears 31DSD
Blue Man GroupBaba O’RileyThe Complex Rock Tour Live1644.1 kHz
Blue Oyster CultE.T.I. (Extra Terrestrial Intelligence)Agents Of Fortune24192 kHz
Blue Oyster CultAstronomySecret Treaties2496 kHz
Blue Oyster CultE.T.I. (Extra Terrestrial Intelligence)Extraterrestrial Live2496 kHz
Blue Oyster CultGodzillaExtraterrestrial Live2496 kHz
Bob DylanMy Back PagesBob Dylan’s Greatest Hits Volume II2488.2 kHz
Booker T. & The MGsGreen OnionsGreen Onions 24192 kHz
BreadDiaryBaby I’m-A Want You24192 kHz
BreadMake It With YouOn The Waters24192 kHz
BreadMother FreedomBaby I’m-A Want You24192 kHz
Burt BacharachCasino Royale ThemeCasino Royale24192 kHz
Burt BacharachThe Look of Love (with Dusty Springfield)Casino Royale24192 kHz
Dario Baldan BemboNon Mi Lasciare70 ITALIA1644.1 kHz
Dean MartinEverybody Loves SomebodyEverybody Loves Somebody2496 kHz
Dean MartinEverybody Loves SomebodyDino: The Essential Dean Martin CD 11644.1 kHz
Derek And The Dominos LaylaLayla and Other Assorted Love Songs1DSD
Derek And The DominosLittle WingLayla and Other Assorted Love Songs1DSD
Doors, TheThe Crystal ShipThe Doors 1DSD
Eiji Oue – Minnesota OrchestraThe Firebird SuiteStravinsky1DSD
Electric Light OrchestraCan’t Get It out of My HeadEldorado24192 kHz
Emerson, Lake & PalmerKarn Evil 9 – Second ImpressionBrain Salad Surgery2496 kHz
Emerson, Lake & PalmerLucky ManEmerson, Lake & Palmer2496 kHz
GenesisCan-utility And The CoastlinersFoxtrot1DSD
HeartDog & ButterflyDog & Butterfly24192 kHz
HeartMistral Wind (Album Version)Dog & Butterfly24192 kHz
Hoagy CarmichaelLazy RiverHoagy Sings Carmichael1644.1 kHz
Hoff Ensemble: Jan Gunnar Hoff, Audun Kleive & Anders JorminInnocencePOLARITY – an acoustic jazz project1644.1 kHz
Jaco PastoriusPortrait Of TracyJaco Pastorius1DSD
Jean-Luc PontyMirageEnigmatic Ocean1644.1 kHz
Jefferson AirplaneEskimo Blue DayWoodstock Two1644.1 kHz
Jethro TullHymn 43 Aqualung2496 kHz
Jethro TullMother Goose Aqualung2496 kHz
Jimi HendrixIzabellaWoodstock Two1644.1 kHz
Jimi HendrixJam Back at the HouseWoodstock Two1644.1 kHz
Jimi Hendrix ExperienceLittle WingAxis: Bold as Love1644.1 kHz
Joni MitchellBig Yellow TaxiLadies Of The Canyon24192 kHz
JourneyLightsInfinity2496 kHz
Judy GarlandOver The RainbowMiss Show Business2496 kHz
Led ZeppelinGallows PoleLed Zeppelin III2496 kHz
Led ZeppelinTangerineLed Zeppelin III2496 kHz
Lee Ritenour, Dave GrusinRomanian Folk DancesTwo Worlds1644.1 kHz
Liz PhairPolyester Bridewhitechocolatespaceegg1644.1 kHz
Liz StoryWedding RainSolid Colors1644.1 kHz
Louis ArmstrongWhat a Wonderful WorldThe Jazz Masters: Vocalists1644.1 kHz
Louis ArmstrongWhat A Wonderful World (Single Version)What A Wonderful World 24192 kHz
Luciano PavarottiLa Bohème: Act 1 – “Che gelida manina”Pavarotti 24 Greatest 2496 kHz
Mahavishnu OrchestraBirds of FireBirds of Fire1644.1 kHz
MeikoWandering StarPlaying Favorites1644.1 kHz
MeikoZombiePlaying Favorites1644.1 kHz
MelanieBirthday of the SunWoodstock Two Disc 21644.1 kHz
Midge UreThe GiftThe Gift1644.1 kHz
Miles DavisSo WhatKind of Blue1644.1 kHz
Neil YoungOld ManHarvest24192 kHz
Neil YoungThe Needle And The Damage DoneHarvest24192 kHz
PersuasionsImagineThe Persuasions Sing the Beatles1DSD
Peter GabrielFamily SnapshotPeter Gabriel (3)1DSD
Peter GabrielGames Without FrontiersPeter Gabriel (3)1DSD
Peter GabrielHere Comes The FloodPeter Gabriel (1)1DSD
Peter Paul and MaryBlowin’ in the Wind In Concert1DSD
Phil CollinsIn The Air TonightFace Value24192 kHz
Phillip GlassKoyaanisqatsiKoyaanisqatsi 2496 kHz
Pink FloydWish You Were HereWish You Were Here1DSD
Pink MartiniQue Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be)Sympathique 1644.1 kHz
R.E.M.Fall On Me Lifes Rich Pagent2444.1 kHz
R.E.M.Man On The MoonAutomatic For The People2448 kHz
Regina SpektorApres MoiLive in London1644.1 kHz
Regina SpektorBetterBegin to Hope1644.1 kHz
Regina SpektorSamsonBegin to Hope1644.1 kHz
Regina SpektorDance Anthem of the 80’s – Regina SpektorLive in London1644.1 kHz
Regina SpektorEet – Regina SpektorFar1644.1 kHz
Robert Shaw – Atlanta Symphony OrchestraThe FirebirdStravinsky: The Firebird; Borodin: Music from Prince Igor1644.1 kHz
Robert Shaw – Atlanta Symphony OrchestraThe Firebird SuiteStravinsky: The Firebird; Borodin: Music from Prince Igor (Vinyl Rip)2496 kHz
Roto Rooter Good Time Christmas BandMartian MarchRetro Rooter 1972-19761644.1 kHz
Roxy MusicOut Of The BlueCountry Life1DSD
RushBest I CanFly By Night 2496 kHz
SantanaBlack Magic Woman Gypsy QueenAbraxas1DSD
SantanaSinging Winds, Crying BeastsAbraxas1DSD
Sarah VaughanLullaby Of BirdlandSarah Vaughan1DSD
Seu JorgeLife on Mars?The Life Aquatic Studio Sessions1644.1 kHz
Shawn ColvinSunny Came HomeA Few Small Repairs1644.1 kHz
Simon & GarfunkelA Hazy Shade of WinterBookends24192 kHz
Sinéad O’ConnorJust Like U Said It Would BThe Lion and the Cobra1644.1 kHz
Sonny & CherI Got You BabeLook At Us 24192 kHz
Stan RidgwayCamouflageThe Big Heat1644.1 kHz
Stanley JordanEleanor RigbyMagic Touch1644.1 kHz
SteppenwolfHippo StompSteppenwolf 724192 kHz
SteppenwolfRenegadeSteppenwolf 724192 kHz
SteppenwolfSnowblind FriendSteppenwolf 724192 kHz
SupertrampAsylumCrime Of The Century2496 kHz
SupertrampCrime Of The CenturyCrime Of The Century2496 kHz
Suzanne VegaMarlene on the WallSuzanne Vega1644.1 kHz
The AnimalsHouse Of The Rising SunThe Animals2496 kHz
The AnimalsIt’s My LifeAnimal Tracks2496 kHz
The AssociationCherishGreatest Hits!2496 kHz
The B-52’sDance This Mess AroundThe B-52’s 24192 kHz
The BobsPsycho Killer [*]The Bobs1644.1 kHz
The DickiesKiller Klowns from Outer SpaceKiller Klowns from Outer Space1644.1 kHz
The MonkeesValleriGreatest Hits2496 kHz
The Moody BluesDear DiaryOn The Threshold Of A Dream1DSD
The Moody BluesIsn’t Life StrangeSeventh Sojourn1DSD
The Moody BluesNever Comes The DayOn The Threshold Of A Dream1DSD
The Moody BluesQuestionA Question Of Balance1DSD
The Moody BluesThe Afternoon: Tuesday Afternoon – Time To Get AwayDays Of Future Passed1DSD
The NylonsThe Lion Sleeps Tonight (Wimoweh)Seamless1644.1 kHz
The PoliceMan In A SuitcaseZenyatta Mondatta1DSD
The PoliceOn Any Other DayReggatta de Blanc1DSD
The Rolling StonesAs Tears Go ByBig Hits (High Tide And Green Grass)1DSD
The WhoGetting In TuneWho’s Next1DSD
The WhoSong Is OverWho’s Next1DSD
The ZombiesShe’s Not ThereGreatest Hits1DSD
The ZombiesTime Of The SeasonGreatest Hits1DSD
Tim CurryI’m Going HomeThe Rocky Horror Picture Show – Original Soundtrack2444.1 kHz
Uriah HeepLook At YourselfLook at Yourself1DSD
Van HalenAin’t Talkin’ ‘Bout LoveVan Halen24192 kHz
Van HalenIce Cream ManVan Halen24192 kHz
Weather ReportBirdlandHeavy Weather1DSD
Weather ReportTeen TownHeavy Weather1DSD
Webber, Andrew LloydThe Music of the NightPhantom of the Opera, The (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)1DSD
Webber, Andrew LloydThink of MePhantom of the Opera, The (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)1DSD
YesAnd You And I — I. Cord of Life, II. Eclipse, III. The Preacher the Teacher, IV. ApocalypseClose To The Edge1DSD

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