Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Music Library: Michael Hedges, Michael Hurley, Michael Jackson, Mike Nix

Michael Hedges - Breakfast In The Field (1981), Aerial Boundaries (1984), and Best of Michael Hedges (2000). Hedges was an amazing stylist on the guitar, but he considered himself a composer above all.  What you call him isn't important, though, because the first two of these albums are utterly amazing. He was great when he was writing music that employed elements of 20th century composition, and these albums are that. Hedges released a number of later albums before his premature death in 1997, but although he was passionate about singing on his albums, I find his vocal tracks painful. I saw the guy in concert a number of times - in fact, his cover of "I Misunderstood" in a 1992-ish show is what led my friends and me to Richard Thompson's music - but I found his originals in the more traditional folk/rock sense to be not so good.  I don't know if there's an compilation that focuses on the compositional work on later albums and leaves off the singing and the goddamn flute, but that's an album I would consider a worthwhile investment.

Michael Hurley - Blueberry Wine - The 1st Songs (1965), Armchair Boogie (1971), Hi Fi Snock Uptown (1972), Have Moicy! (with Unholy Modal Rounders and Jeffrey Frederick and The Clamtones, 1976), Long Journey (1977), and Snockgrass (1980).  Hurley is a delightfully loopy folk songwriter who is one of the best alive at creating timeless songs with one foot in the past and one in the present.  The best of these is, of course, Have Moicy!, which is as much the work of Peter Stampfel and Jeffrey Frederick as it is of Hurley. I stuck it under Hurley's name more or less randomly.  The Hurley albums are all worth a listen or thirteen and are jam-packed with catchy melodies and clever little chunks of wisdom.

Michael Jackson - "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough" and "P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)." Not much of a fan of Jackson, am I?  I actually like all of Off The Wall (which I used to have on vinyl, but must have lost along the way) and listened to Thriller enough as a child to remember every single falsetto "whee-hoo!" And that's all I need.

Mike Nix - three demos.  My buddy and former bandmate Mike writes good songs.  He's in a band in Nashville, but I forgot their name and can't find it on his Facebook page.  Dammit, Mike, what's the name of your band?


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