Monday, 4 July 2016

Transcendent Albums

Some albums have one great track and a bunch of ordinary ones. Some are a string of great songs. Some have hit singles and songs that could have been hit singles. Some bring back memories. And some are simply transcendent.

A transcendent album doesn’t need to have a hit single. It needs songs that you can’t imagine being done any other way, or played in any other order. Songs that enter into the hearts and minds of everyone who hears them, and which together on the album have a consistent mood. Off The Wall is a great album, but Thriller is transcendent. Revolver is a great album, but Sargent Pepper’s is transcendent. John Martyn made Solid Air and Bless The Weather. The Rolling Stones made many great albums, but Goats’ Head Soup has that extra something special. Pink Floyd made The Dark Side of the Moon. Rod Stewart did it with Every Picture Tells a Story. I’ll add Eric B and Rakim’s Paid In Full to the list as well as Springsteen's Born To Run and Dylan’s Blonde on Blonde and Blood on the Tracks. Joni Mitchell did it with Blue, Underworld did it with Second Toughest In The Infants, and Digweed and Sasha did it with the very first Renaissance triple-CD. Miles did it with Kind of Blue and In A Silent Way and John Coltrane did it with A Love Supreme and Live at the Village Vanguard. I invite you to consider Goldie’s Timeless as well, since it is. Pete Atkin and Clive James did it with Beware of the Beautiful Stranger. And then there’s the question of John Digweed’s continuing outpouring of flawless work.

This was brought on by hearing Van Morrison’s War Children on Chill Radio. And I realised that he really is the king of transcendence.

Astral Weeks


St Dominic’s Preview

Hard Nose The Highway

A run that has never been surpassed. Plus the staggering live album It’s Too Late To Stop Now, where some of the performances are better than the album versions.

And then I considered Steely Dan, who did three in a row...

Can’t Buy A Thrill

Countdown to Ectasy

Pretzel Logic

Still, Van’s The Man.

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