“1970” by the Stooges

Three months after Miles Davis unleashed Bitches Brew on the rock and jazz worlds, the Stooges second record, Fun House, appeared.  Like Davis, like a lot of music in 1970, the band was looking for the elemental, pushed by psychedelics to the fringes of structure, open minds creating extremes of focus.  For the Stooges that meant … Continue reading “1970” by the Stooges

“Spanish Key” by Miles Davis

It’s unavoidable.  It is impossible to speak of modern music, regardless of genre, and not take note of the critical importance of Miles Davis.  Call him what you will or what he called himself — a genius of composition, a dazzling trumpeter/performer and band leader/manipulator, an agent provocateur, a counter-racist, coke fiend, pimp, misogynist — Miles Davis was … Continue reading “Spanish Key” by Miles Davis

“Boléro” by Maurice Ravel

Maurice Ravel’s Boléro has a long, complex relationship with rock and roll, sometimes quoted explicitly (Jeff Beck’s “Beck’s Bolero”) other times through suggestion (Rush’s “Jacob’s Ladder”).  In its thematic and rhythmic repetition and building orchestration there is a tension and release, an erotic energy inseparable from rock’s spark.  This has often been perceived as a weakness of the work, even signaling … Continue reading “Boléro” by Maurice Ravel

“Jacob’s Ladder” by Rush

From Rush’s transitional Permanent Waves, “Jacob’s Ladder” is a psychedelic march, carrying up its spiral staircase Neil Peart’s cosmic Coleridge musings.  It thunders across the eastern deserts evoked by its title, a biblical steampunk, all dust and whirlwind and prophetic dreams set against Rush’s tightening musical clockwork.  The song’s three sections flow together, distinct but seamless, no … Continue reading “Jacob’s Ladder” by Rush

“I’ve Been Walking (part 2)” by Gazpacho

In 2014, Gazpacho’s Demon  was to progressive rock what, in that same year, Hozier was to pop and Sturgill Simpson was to country — voices that raised the bar, made others take notice and take stock.  Demon was Gazpacho’s eighth album, and many would argue they’d been producing classic, 5-star records since 2007’s Night.  This is true, but the organic, earthy … Continue reading “I’ve Been Walking (part 2)” by Gazpacho