Wendy’s Word has a new car, and it does not have a cassette player. Which just goes to show you how long it’s been since I’ve bought a new car! While I love being able to listen to CDs and my ipod in the car (it is the 21st century after all), there are certain tapes that were mainstays that I must replace asap. Some of my favorites were:
Satch Plays Fats. Yes, it’s Louis Armstrong playing and singing Fats Waller songs. Incredible combination! Armstrong’s voice and trumpet playing combined with Waller’s classic songs is not to be missed. Familiar songs like Ain’t Misbehaving are included, and the album is generally upbeat. But the album also includes the song Blue Turning Grey Over You, which is beautiful and sad, being about racial prejudice. Despite the melancholy of that song, this album always cheers me.
Del Este de Los Angeles (Just Another Band From East LA). I believe this is Los Lobos’ first album, and it’s all fantastic Mexican songs. There are a variety of styles, including ballads, jarocho, and ranchero. There is a great version of Guantanamera, and the last two songs on the album are so upbeat that I am practically dancing in my car when I hear them. I love the tempo and all the traditional string instruments. I have the compilation Just Another Band From East LA (different album from the one I’m talking about here), which is a greatest hits-type album, on CD and it has a few of the songs on my beloved cassette, but not enough. Another album that never fails to cheer me.
Perpetual Motion. Classical banjo. Need I say more? This is a classical album from Bela Fleck, the amazingly talented banjo player. (is banjoist a word?) He has recorded bluegrass and other genres, and he is no less skilled at playing classical music. This album has tracks by Bach, Scarlatti, Debussy, Beethoven, and others, and includes a long instrumental version of God Save the Queen, on which he’s joined by guitarist John Williams. He’s joined by violinist Joshua Bell on another track. The sheer speed of Fleck’s playing amazes me.
Bob Dylan 30th Anniversary Concert Celebration. This concert was recorded in 1992, and I happily watched it on PBS back then. The album includes incredible artists singing Bob Dylan songs, naturally. Some of my favorites (although it’s hard to pick just a few) include John Mellencamp doing Leopard-Skin-Pill-Box Hat, Willie Nelson singing What Was It You Wanted (very dark), Johnny Winter singing Highway 61 Revisited, Neil Young singing Tom Thumb Blues, Chrissy Hynde, the Clancy Brothers, The Band, George Harrison, and more. One of my favorite tracks goes against type, with the O’Jays singing Emotionally Yours. And yes, the Traveling Wilburys do a few numbers. My least favorites are the songs Dylan does himself, at the end of the concert. They seem deliberately bad to me. I recommend watching the full concert if you can. It’s long, but there are cuts that are not on the album, including a dreadful version of I Want You and Sinead O’Connor throwing a temper tantrum. I guess there’s a reason they’re not on the album.