Friday, December 7, 2012

Y is for Yanni

"I complete you..."
Yanni - Live at the Acropolis (1994)
This clearly goes down as one of the Seven Wonders of World Music. God! I used to love watching this and Tribute on PBS on a slow night. Like an elite few artists (Zeppelin, Daniel Day-Lewis, Kris Humphries...), Yanni is at once sublime and absurd, mighty and mortal, profound and fucking stupid. Features the brilliant percussionist and music therapist Kalani.

Yazoo - "Don't Go" (1982)
"Holy shit, that sounds kinda like Keith Emerson! Whoa, that's definitely not Greg Lake singing! Jeez, these drums sound much tighter than Carl Palmer's and don't seem to be fluctuating in tempo! This is definitely not E.L.P.!" -me, in 1982

Yello - "Bostich" (1980/1981)
I didn't exactly know about this seminal cut by Boris, Carlos, and Dieter back when it was released, but I recall being fully aware of the influence (both direct and indirect) that European electronic music seemed to be exerting on the development of hip hop. I also loved going to Baskin-Robbins.

Yellow Magic Orchestra - "Computer Game" (1979)
That makes three electro/synthpop tracks in a row! So I used to take lessons at the L.I. Drum Center, and the first guy I had was all about chops and pretty much nothing else. I told him I didn't want to do paradiddles every week, and I was immediately reassigned to the "weird" guy they had on staff. My new instructor was awesome-- we bonded on Allmans, Jeff Beck, and Tangerine Dream (true!). Soon he started inviting me to jazz fusion shows in Queens (?), adding that we could see some friends of his before the show. I'm pretty sure he was into Sri Chinmoy, but... Oh yeah! He was really into Yellow Magic Orchestra too. Cool dude.

Too bad I drunk-dialed him on my birthday in 1993 (along with my grandmother and at least two girls much closer to my age) and slurred about my Tama kit that I was still playing and my Zildjians and record deals and all sorts of bullshit. Embarassing and ill-advised.

Yes - The Yes Album (1971)
scenario #1
THEM: "Fragile is the best Yes album ever made."
ME: "Well... The Yes Album is pretty darn good, too! In fact, I'll argue that it's more consistent than Fragile. Not a weak song on there, although "Perpetual Change" mostly succeeds due to one of the more insane moments in the group's entire catalog near the six-minute mark. "Starship Trooper" might be my favorite Yessong ever, you dig?! The triumphant "Würm" rises like a slow-motion psychedelic leviathan from the Atlantic, leaving Led Zep and CSNY treading in their respective acoustic tidepools. And of course, "Your Move" is one of the great singles of the early 70s."

scenario #2
THEM: "The Yes Album is the best Yes album ever made."
ME: "What are you, fucking crazy??!!!"

Yes - Fragile (1972)
If The Yes Album is pleasant, ambitious psychedelia, then its successor Fragile is a rocky trip on some speedy but strong acid Fragile is a bit more challenging than its predecessor, which is somewhat ironic considering its popularity. It's insane that we used to hear "Roundabout" all the time on the radio, right?! Fragile is certainly the best sounding Yes record (unless you're a friend or relative of Trevor Rabin), and I'd say the most daring as well (unless you consider how in the world they dared to release something as lousy as Tormato). I can listen to "Long Distance Runaround" at any imaginable moment under any possible circumstances and love it dearly. While "LDR" is supremely visionary in the halls of prog, "Heart of the Sunrise" has very, very few peers when it comes to sheer musicianship. Only three examples are coming to mind at the moment, and only one isn't by Rush or Al Di Meola.

Too bad most of the rest of the cuts stink. The bass guitar and guitar "showcase" tracks are the only ones I'll even consider listening to, so just put on the second side and cut your losses.

Yo La Tengo - President Yo La Tengo (1989)
This was the first thing I bought by the hobos from Hoboken, and boy did I like it. I liked their next record too, but it seemed just a little bit boring compared to the one before it. I liked their next record too, but it seemed just a little bit boring compared to the one before it. I liked their next record too, but it seemed just a little bit boring compared to the one before it... You get the idea.

As their records became more and more boring, my behavior at their shows became more and more outrageous. I've been thrown out of at least three Yo La shows, all in different clubs for different reasons: 1) throwing up on bar and trying to order another drink right away, 2) falsely lumped in with group of people that were heckling James McNew, and 3) extreme intoxication. Hey! I've also seen them lots of other times and behaved like a perfect gentleman, so back off.

Neil Young - Everybody Knows This is Nowhere (1969)
Somehow this was never one of my favorite Neil albums, even though I'd consider nearly every song it contains to be among my favorites. I'm an asshole.

Neil Young - After the Gold Rush (1970)
This is the one that really blew my mind. I still believe that the entire album is from outer space, with the exception of "Southern Man." I added the exception when I introduced my theory at a party years ago, knowing that wisdom on the fringes usually needs to be reeled in a bit for the masses. Point is, the album is extraordinary.

Neil Young - Tonight's the Night (1975)
One of the first Neil records I owned. Honestly never thought it was that depressing until I was old enough to puke from drinking, and even then I could still rock out to it. OK, I've never danced to "Tired Eyes," but I've sure as hell boogied down to the likes of "Lookout Joe" a few times. Just a few tracks shy of a freaking party album.
Neil Young - Rust Never Sleeps (1979)
This has always been my favorite, start to finish. "Thrasher," "Pocahontas," "Sail Away," and "Powderfinger" are every bit as important to me as protein, baseball, prescription drugs, and crossword puzzles. Can't count the number of times I reached for this one when nothing at all sounds interesting.

Neil Young - Ragged Glory (1990)
I was crawling in the swamps of grunge when this baby dropped, and it was damn fine to finally remember how to walk again. Neil and crew had good songs, took their time without wasting it, and had fun. One of the best album intros ever.

YoungBloodZ - "85" (1999)
Lord, did I groove to this joint when it came out... The whole "Southern rap" thing was either totally happening (for most of us) or totally played out already (for Southern hipsters), but who gives a shit?! This song was IT for me, even more than Outkast. Funny, since Big Boi delivers the bomb verse of the whole tune, somehow avoiding a single downbeat for the duration. Spacejace, you still out there? You know you loved this one!


Lee said...

Yes, I'm commenting on my own blog...

A few days ago I was thinking about artists that are so fucking badass (or uniquely named) that the mere mention of their first name is enough to identify them. Anyway, I informally posed the following question to a bunch of people- "If were to say, 'Wow, I am such an insane Neil fan,' then which musician would you assume I was referring to?"

61% Neil Young
27% Neil Peart
7% Neil Diamond
3% did not understand question
2% Vince Neil

Left Field said...

I thought you were trolling me when I read the title, but the rest of the post redeems itself.