Oct. 6th, 2015

csberry: (pumaman)

Gris-Gris is an album that transport you to another time and place. Sure, there are lots of albums I’ve listened to on the Rolling Stone Top 500 Albums list that transported me back to the period when they were recorded. But, Gris-Gris also could be said to have transported listeners when this was released in 1968 to another place and time. Dr. John has created a world that is a mystical, psychedelic version of New Orleans which consists of a musical gumbo of African beats, jazz, Caribbean chanting, reverbed production, half-spoken/half-sung lyrics, some blues, and soul.

As soon as the sound comes out of the speakers with “Gris-Gris Gumbo Ya Ya,” the listener knows this is something very different. I wish I knew about “Danse Kalinda Ba Doom” when I was really interested in world music in the 90s. Add to this world music feel, the strange brew of “Croker Courtbullion” which features harpsichord, woodwinds, and psychedelic guitar noodling with occasional playground-like chants from the chorus. But in the midst of the otherworldly songs, there are some that seem to have some mainstream appeal such as “Jump Sturdy” and “Mama Roux” - which shares the kind of rhythmic shuffle that WAR would make a staple of their music.

Songs I Knew I Liked: None

Songs I Now Like: For me, I love this more as a whole album than particular songs driving my interest. Songs that did get me hooked include “Mama Roux”, “Danse Fambeaux”, “Croker Courtbullion”, and “I Walk On Guildied Splinters”.

Songs I Don't Want to Ever Hear Again: None in particular, but “Jump Sturdy” was definitely my least favorite track.
csberry: (pumaman)

Phil Spector had a sound. With A Christmas Gift For You, he demonstrated how his production skills can be used for other genres...as long as they can fit into his Wall of Sound. While he does have some quiet moments of spoken word with light accompaniment, this is quite the antithesis of Perry Como's or the Mormon Tabernacle Choir Christmas albums because of the raucous new arrangements and production. Many of these Christmas classics saw their tempo sped up a bit. While “Silent Night” is basically a string version behind Phil's message, its presence on the album made me wonder if he would have given that song also the Wall of Sound treatment if he did a proper full version or could he have otherwise made the song angelic.

The album uses four of Spector's musical groups/artists to embody his vision for these mostly secular songs. One of my issues when listening to this is how ubiquitous some of these songs are nowadays. It is hard for me to see the impact this album had in the Christmas music landscape. I will say that if I see this album for sale, I will buy it and add it to my box of Christmas CDs I pull out each Black Friday when the Christmas decorations come out each year.

Songs I Knew I Liked: “Sleigh Ride” and “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” by The Ronnettes, “Winter Wonderland” by Darlene Love

Songs I Now Like: “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” by Darlene Love (knew the U2 version, but now love this one)

Songs I Don't Want to Ever Hear Again: None, although I was usually bored with “Parade of the Wooden Soldiers” by The Crystals

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Cory Berry

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