Call Me – Al Green (1973)


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An astonishingly beautiful album, “Call Me” is one of my favorite albums of all time. Period. An album entirely immersed feelings of love-stricken melancholy yet simultaneous yearning for something better, “Call Me” is indubitably Green’s best work. In all candor, I fucking love how breathtaking this album truly is.

Throughout “Me”‘s entire runtime, Green sets himself up as an entirely broken man,  absolutely ruined by a failed love. Rather than stew in his explicit loneliness, Green is able to expertly tell a narrative chiefly concerned with emotional resurgence; that is, although he’s depressed, he still hangs on to whatever modicum of hope that life can offer him. This two-element focus on melancholy and hope makes “Call Me” one of the greatest albums in my (ever-growing) collection.

Onto Green’s voice. WOW! His voice leave me totally speechless as it’s both undeniably poignant and unbelievably exuberant at the same time. His impassioned vocal deliveries, the luxurious arrangements padding this album’s runtime and Green’s stellar knack for storytelling puts this album in my pantheon of most-treasured desert island masterpieces. That’s for damn sure.

Now, let’s look at a couple of my favorite songs off “Call Me”. Much like “Astral Weeks” (by Van Morrison), I find this an exceedingly difficult task. However, it must be done and so, without further ado, here we go. My favorite song, without question, is his cover of “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry”. I’ve heard Williams’ original, Cash’s cover, and even the Cowboy Junkies’ take; however, Green blows everyone out of the water. Such an emotionally resonant song sung with utter conviction and undeniable passion. It makes me feel as if I’m wandering in some pastoral area in some far-away dream. Such an awesome song.

Next is the intense album closer, “Jesus Is Waiting”. What a closer! Green’s voice might be at its best here. Just maybe. Love is the only answer and the only salvation, ladies and gentlemen (at least according to Mr. Green himself).

In conclusion, “Call Me” is without a doubt one of my most-treasured albums in my musical collection. What a pleasant and musically rich desert I’ve found myself on, at this moment in time.

My Grade: A+

Glad to be back, ladies and gentlemen!




King of the Delta Blues Singers Vol 2 – Robert Johnson (1970)


A perfect, absolutely essential follow up to “Vol 1”, “King of the Delta Blues Singers Vol 2” is fully lived-in and wildly cathartic. Each song here is, in all candor, breathtaking and very, very “alive”. That is, Johnson doesn’t let himself hide behind any artistic or musical mirrors. Rather, he’s here to do one thing and do it with total conviction and passion: sing his fucking heart out. And, lucky enough for us, he’s able to do so commandingly and effortlessly.

“Vol 2” is as riveting and as authentic as “Vol 1”. Not that that surprised me since Johnson is an absolute master at his craft. That is, his utter conviction towards the blues and overarching craftsmanship towards music shine brightly in every single song on this compilation.

Although most songs on here are short, brevity works astonishingly well for Johnson. He’s able to put forth excellent storytelling and exude an undying, magnetic air of charisma into such small musical encapsulations. Essential blues. Simply essential. Onto my top picks.

I first heard “Stop Breakin’ Down Blues” off of the Stones bloated double album “Exile on Main Street”. Much like “Hard Time Killing Floor Blues”, I thought that version was perfect. However, much like Skip James’ original (see: my review of Skip James’ “Hard Time Killing Floor Blues”), Johnson’s version is blues personified. With its chugging guitar and fiery vocal performance, “Down” is a rock and blues masterpiece.



Furthermore, a little background is necessary about my relationship with “Love In Vain”. My initial exposure to Johnson was from the Stones’ dismal catharsis of an album “Let It Bleed”. I was a freshman in high school and I thought their version of “Love In Vain” was boring; it wasn’t what I was used to. Fortunately enough, I grew musically as I grew physically (and mentally, let’s hope). As such, I grew to love “Let It Bleed”, especially “Love In Vain”. Realizing it was a cover, I frantically searched the internet for the original and was blown away by Johnson’s original. Ahhhhhhh, this song is so goddamn good! One of the saddest songs I’ve ever heard, I hold this song in incredibly high regard.


As such, I hold this compilation in astonishingly high regard. “Vol 2” is a genre-defying masterpiece (much like “Vol 1”). Bluesy, soulful, folksy and rock n roll-laden, this compilation certainly paved the way for many, many incredibly talented artists down the road. Do yourself a favor and give it a listen!

My Grade: A+

Townes Van Zandt – Townes Van Zandt (1969)

Source: Early Morning Training

Walking alone late after a long night of studying, I sought to simply relax and let my mind roam free. Fortunately enough, I decided to check my “Recently Added Music” section on my phone and stumbled upon “Townes Van Zandt”, Zandt’s third studio release.

Rather excitingly, “Zandt” is one of the most intense and engaging albums I’ve yet to hear; it’s gorgeous, intoxicating and inviting. That is, with Zandt as our guide, we’re taken on a ride through barren landscapes, cold, dreary nights and gorgeous, sun-laden mornings. Simply put, “Zandt” is a masterpiece, no ifs, ands, or buts about it

Quite frankly, this is an album in my pantheon of selected albums that I keep coming back to without fail. This is primarily due to Zandt’s emotional intensity and lyrical mobility that he injects into each one of the songs in “Zandt”. All in all, it bursts with earthy energy, incalculable presence and immeasurable weight. As such, it was (as it always is) rather difficult to choose my favorite song. However, after some much-needed reflection, I chose the dismal yet exciting “Lungs”.

Like most songs here, “Lungs” never lets up: it’s escalatory presence packs an indubitable punch.

In conclusion, “Zandt” is an exceptional alt-country/singer-songwriter masterpiece. Candidly, I learn something new each time I give it a listen. As such, it’s one of my favorite albums in my (ever-growing) collection.

My Grade: A+

King of the Delta Blues Singers – Robert Johnson (1961)

Source: Northeastern University

My admiration for Robert Johnson started during my second year in high school, when I came across a couple of his songs on Youtube. Ever since first hearing him, I fell in love with his frank intensity that he brought to every song he recorded. His guitar work was essentially impeccable; his voice was so authentic, grizzled and almost divine. The power and accentuated enormity of his songs simply transcend. He’s a genius at what he does: sing the blues with absolute passion and vigor.

“King of the Delta Blues Singers” is a stellar, fully fledged compilation. Each song here is beautifully dismal; that is, Johnson is able to elucidate upon such dreary experiences and transform them into beautifully done and highly energized songs. Furthermore, with this specific transformation, Johnson is able to create such grand, such important music from incredibly bare circumstances, in that it’s only him and his guitar along for the ride.

Quite frankly, I had to give “King” four to five listens before I could let all of his songs settle into my mind. As such, it was (as it normally is here on this blog) incredibly difficult to choose a favorite song. After much consideration, I’d go with the eerie album closer, “Hellhound On My Trail”. Now, this is such an intense and fascinating way to end a masterful blues album. Dreary, atmospheric and increasingly creepy, “Hound” might be the best song on this compilation. Johnson sounds so forlorn and wary throughout the song’s entire runtime that it creates a very incredible and enjoyable listening experience.

Although, truth be told, I have to be in a certain mood to give this record a listen, “King” is undoubtedly leagues ahead of the majority of blues albums I’ve come across. Like many of my favorite albums, this is so raw, candid and organic that it simply rocks! This is such an authentically awesome blues masterpiece and one of the greatest compilations I’ve come across. Of course, “King” is one of the albums I have with me on this symbolic desert island I sometimes find myself on.

My Grade: A+

Astral Weeks – Van Morrison (1968)


No album has affected me quite like “Astral Weeks”. It’s a wild, imaginative, and complex set of recordings. My fervent admiration for this album lies in the fact that it has offered me such a large magnitude of solace in my darkest, most dismal times. Despite going through some wholly desperate and increasingly melancholic times, “Weeks” has offered me virtual warmth and internal drive to keep on going.

The album’s undying impetus is Morrison himself (this is NOT to discredit, however, the excellent backing band). He’s an expert, if not entirely mysterious, storyteller, able to skillfully paint vibrant pictures of life’s minutia. His uniqueness comes from the fact that he takes this (seeming) minutia, enlarges it and transforms it into entirely immersive, dream-like and hazy encapsulations.

That’s where the beauty and my ardent appreciation for this album stems from: the creative and wholly unique storytelling. Very few artists can paint the pictures that Morrison and Co. can.

“Weeks” deals primarily with love-tinged anxiety and desperation, as many songs on here would suggest. However, my favorite song here is the album’s closer, “Slim Slow Slider”, which works to solidify the themes of melancholy and despair already present.

Although Morrison sounds subdued, his lyrics are quite alive and breathtaking. “Slider” simply screams melancholy; that is, both Morrison delivery and the band’s atmospheric instrumentations give rise to the ideas of loss and death: “I know you’re dyin’ baby and you know it too”. Rather fittingly, the song ends in complete disordered mayhem adding to themes already present throughout the album’s runtime. Due to its frank yet simultaneously lush nature, “Slider” is my favorite song off of Morrison’s sophomore outing.

In conclusion, it’s quite an ordeal to sum up “Weeks”. It’s an exhilarating piece of work, and, quite frankly, it’s one-of-a-kind. I love it, and as such, it is one of my preeminent desert island picks.

My Grade: A+

Willy and the Poor Boys – Creedence Clearwater Revival (1969)


For the longest time that I can remember, I’ve been a CCR fan. I love the swamp rock vibe that they exude in most of their songs. However, the song that indelibly sealed the deal for me was 1970’s “Up Around the Bend”. A raw, naturally sounding and upbeat song, “Bend” exemplified everything that I enjoyed about CCR. Besides the “Chronicle” compilation, I had never listened to a CCR album in full. How sad.

Fortunately, that changed earlier last week. I decided to give 1969’s “Willy and the Poor Boys” a listen. That listen gave rise to many (on the order of ten) listens. Simply put, I was blown away by the beauty inherent in this album.

This is a cathartic, earthy masterpiece. From the very beginning of “Down on the Corner” to the very end of “Effigy”, we know we were just treated to something special, that’s for damn sure.

In all candor, this is one of the best rock albums I’ve ever heard. This is chiefly due to the band’s style and Fogerty’s grizzled and commanding vocal deliveries. Forget heavy metal– this is heavy stuff right here.

It was undoubtedly difficult to choose my favorite song on this album. However, I was able to choose the bluesy and hopeful “Midnight Special”. Now, I’ve heard this song once before: Van Morrison’s version off of 1968’s “Blowin’ Your Mind”. CCR’s version is so much better. Fully lived-in and complex, “Midnight Special” is intense and intoxicating. Very few songs can make me groove to it and intoxicate me. Hence, this song is indeed special.

Fogerty starts off the song sounding like a time traveler; that is, like a saddened vagabond teeming with grizzled wisdom and a slight modicum of euphoria. As the song progresses, this element of euphoria translates into ell-encompassing hope. This song has a clear message: despite life’s ongoing downs, seek the ups and let the earth’s light shine abundantly on you. Such an uplifting song, and a song that, simply put, kicks a whole lot of ass. It’s an intense thrill ride.

Ahh, that’s a great way to sum up the entirety of this album. From start to finish, “Willy” kicks some serious ass: it grooves, rocks, but never falters.

Out of all the CCR albums I’ve listened to (on the order of 3-4), this is my favorite. I love this album, and, as such, it’s a desert island masterpiece!

My Grade: A+