#FreeFriday: Odelay

How about a giveaway to round out the week? Alas…it’s #FreeFriday!

For a chance to win today’s featured album, all you gotta do is read this post, then share it on social media at least one of these ways:

  • Share the link on Facebook or Twitter with the hashtag #FreeFriday
  • Retweet one of the #FreeFriday tweets we send via @murfiemusic
  • Share today’s #FreeFriday Facebook post

Be sure your social settings are on public so we can see your post! Enough details. Now on to the album we’re featuring!

Beck Odelay

Odelay (Beck, 1996)

Beck may have recently won a GRAMMY for his 2014 album Morning Phase, but his old accomplishments are still fresh in the minds of those who remember the most innovative 90s alternative rock.

Odelay, Beck’s 2nd studio album, is considered one of the best albums of all time. After it was released, it won Rolling Stone‘s Album of the Year, ranked number 306 on their list of the 500 greatest albums of all time, and number 9 on their 100 best albums of the nineties list. It won a Grammy for Best Alternative Music Album and was also nominated for Album of the Year.

There is something in Odelay for everyone. There are genre-bending compositions that tap into such sounds as grunge rock, old-school rap, folk, and electronic. The album is mostly upbeat, with a few mellow moments to keep you grounded. Some tracks that stand out to me are the upbeat hits “Devil’s Haircut” and “The New Pollution”, the southern hip-hoppy “Hotwax”, the epic “Novacane”, and the amazing groovy “Where It’s At”. When you listen to this album, there is never a dull moment.

Beck’s lyrical skills are outstanding. He uses flawless rhymes that are full of imagery and irony, delivered primarily with his rapping vocal style. He uses samples and distorted sound effects that in the end sound harmonious.

I’m going to go ahead and say Beck is pure musical genius. Odelay is a must-have album in your collection.

Share this post in one of the ways listed above, and we’ll let you know if you won the album on Monday! There can be more than one winner! Best of luck. :)

Radiohead: A Career Defying Expectations


Pablo Honey
Radiohead, an English rock band from Oxfordshire, has made a career out of defying expectations. Over eight studio albums, the band—which consists of Thom Yorke, Johnny and Colin Greenwood, Phil Selway and Ed O’Brien—has constantly re-invented their sound, and managed to rack up 18 Grammy nominations and over 30 million in record sales along the way.

The five men met as boys in 1985, and quickly formed a band called “On A Friday.” Yet they didn’t hit their first break until 1991, when they happened upon a representative from EMI. After requesting that the five-piece change their name, the band signed a six-record deal as the newly named “Radiohead.”

RadioheThe Bendsad released their first record, Pablo Honey, in 1993. Largely influenced by the recent grunge and alternative rock movements, Pablo Honey sold relatively well and spawned the hit “Creep”; it also spawned the band’s first nickname, “Nirvana Lite.” Yorke and company quickly grew tired of being lazily lumped in with their peers, so for their next record, The Bends, they worked with producer Nigel Godrich in an attempt to shift their focus. What resulted was critical success and a cemented status as one of the top Brit-rock bands around.

OK ComputerYet again, Radiohead quickly grew tired of being set side by side with the other Britpop bands of the ‘90s. They responded in 1997 with the illustrious OK Computer, an album chock full of guitars and Thom Yorke’s now-legendary falsetto. Lyrically, OK Computer harks on the pitfalls of consumerism and the isolation experienced in the modern age; instrumentally, it’s all over the map: there are ballads (“Karma Police”), rockers (“Electioneering”), and songs that hit every mark in between (“Paranoid Android”). OK Computer was both a critical and commercial blockbuster, instantly landing the number one spot on the U.K. charts and eventually winding up at the 162nd spot on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.

ExpectationKid As to deliver a hit record vastly increased after OK Computer, and again, Radiohead responded by shifting into new sonic territory. In 2000, they unleashed Kid A onto the world. Or should I say, the Internet did; Kid A was one of the first albums to ever leak on file sharing programs, and, with its heavy reliance on electronic samples and digital effects, it was an eerie fit. Even though Radiohead’s trademark guitar-driven sound is nearly absent on Kid A, it’s arguably their best. Heck, forget Radiohead: Kid A—which went on to win a Grammy for Best Alternative Music Album and was subsequently ranked the number one album of the 2000s by both Rolling Stone and Pitchfork Media—is arguably one of the greatest albums of all time.

AmnesiacRumor had it that the Kid A sessions had fostered enough music to span two discs, and, lo and behold, Radiohead released Amnesiac the following year. Amnesiac explores the same digital world as Kid A, (they both feature “Morning Bell”) but their respective perspectives are quite distinct. Amnesiac marked the fifth time the band had worked with Nigel Godrich, and it was nominated for the Mercury Prize in 2001.

Hail to the Thief Radiohead returned to their rock roots in 2003 with the release of Hail to the Thief, their most overtly political statement to date. Hail to the Thief is also the band’s most musically sporadic work, due to the way it was quickly recorded and loosely assembled. It was their fifth straight album to be nominated for the Grammy for Best Alternative Music Album.

In RainbowsAfter Hail to the Thief, Radiohead was no longer under contract with EMI. So for their next album, In Rainbows, the band opted out of signing any new contracts. Instead, they released it themselves in a pay-what-you-want format that many independent bands have adopted for use today. At the time, I thought they broke music. Now, I see that the marketing strategy was tremendously successful, though it doesn’t hurt that In Rainbows is a blend of nearly every version of Radiohead imaginable. In Rainbows is also arguably the band’s most accessible album besides OK Computer, which was, perhaps coincidentally, released exactly ten years earlier.

In 2011The King of Limbs, Radiohead released their most recent album, King of Limbs. Again working with Nigel Godrich, King of Limbs found the band focusing less on typical song structures and more on looping techniques. On one hand, the album is clearly distinct from the rest of their catalogue; on the other, its differences are what makes it wholly a Radiohead record.

As of 2014, Radiohead is on a well-deserved break. In the mean time, us fans are anxiously awaiting their next pitch. I hope it’s another curveball.


Andrew Brandt
@andrewtbrandt

Andrew is a communications intern at Murfie. When he’s not blogging here, you can probably find him blogging at a handful of other music sites. And when he’s not blogging at all, you can probably find him curled up with a good beer and a great book.



This Week in Music History (October 30th-November 5th)

What’s music history got for us this week? Learn up and boogie down!

10/30- On this day in 1971, John Lennon went to No. 1 on the UK charts with his album Imagine. The album contained two songs—”How Do You Sleep” and “Crippled Inside”—attacking Lennon’s former Beatles bandmate Paul McCartney.

10/31- On this day in 1970, Led Zeppelin began a four-week stint at No. 1 on the US album charts. The hit album, Led Zeppelin III, was the band’s second US smash and remains one of its most critically acclaimed albums to this day.

11/01- On this day in 1980, Bruce Springsteen’s first No. 1 US album, The River, reached the top of the charts. The album was just one example of The Boss’s massive success, and is still critically acclaimed to this day. Rolling Stone ranked it #253 on its list of the greatest albums of all time.

11/02- On this day in 2002, police arrested an international gang that was planning to kidnap Victoria Beckham, formerly Posh Spice of the Spice Girls, and her young child. The group had planned to ransom Posh for £5 million, so they were taken in to custody and Beckham and her family were kept safe.

11/03- On this day in 1957, Jerry Lee Lewis released Great Balls of Fire with Sun Records. The single went on to become a massive hit, taking the No. 1 spot in the UK and No. 2 in the US.

11/04- On this day in 1980, reggae legend Bob Marley was baptized at the Ethiopian Orthodox Church in Kingston, Jamaica. Marley officially became a Christian Rastafarian and took the new name Berhane Selassie.

11/05- On this day in 1956, The Nat King Cole Show premiered on NBC-TV in the United States. Cole’s program became one of the first of its kind on national television to be hosted by an African-American.

Are you looking to own a piece of music history, or download it in lossless formats? Check these albums out in our marketplace!

This Week in Music History (October 23rd-29th)

What’s music history got for us this week? Learn up and boogie down!

10/23- On this day in 1963, Bob Dylan recorded his hit album The Times They Are A-Changin’ at Columbia Recording Studios in New York City. The album, Dylan’s third, was his first to feature only original compositions.

10/24- On this day in 1962, soul legend James Brown recorded his world-famous Live at the Apollo album. In 2003, the album was ranked No. 24 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.

10/25- On this day in 1968, Led Zeppelin played their first show after changing their name from The New Yardbirds. The show took place at Surrey University in England, and a poster for the gig later sold at auction for £2400!

10/26- On this day in 1970, a wake was held in San Anselmo, California to celebrate the life of late singer Janis Joplin. Joplin, who passed away after an accidental drug overdose, had left money in her will specifically for throwing a party in the event of her death.

10/27- On this day in 1975, after releasing the incredibly popular and successful album/single combination Born to Run, Bruce Springsteen was featured simultaneously on the covers of Time and Newsweek magazines. Born to Run was a huge commercial and critical success, selling six million copies by 2000!

10/28- On this day in 1978, Queen played the first night on their 79-date tour for their album Jazz. The first show took place at the Dallas Convention Center in Dallas, Texas. The tour became famous for the spectacle and showmanship Queen displayed at the shows.

10/29- On this day in 1965—speaking of tours—The Rolling Stones kicked off their fourth North American tour. The 37-date tour began at The Forum in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

Are you looking to own a piece of music history, or download it in lossless format? Check these albums out on our marketplace!

Crash: Our Most Popular Disc (319 copies!)

On this day in 1996, the Dave Matthews Band released their 2nd studio album, Crash.

MI0000099826

Crash is a special album in particular because it’s our most populous disc on Murfie! At the moment, it is owned by 319 Murfie members—can you believe that?

In a Rolling Stone album review, the Dave Matthews Band has been said to be “among those groups vying to continue the ideals of the live Dead, exploring diverse sounds from a rock perspective in a commitment to free-flowing improvisation.” It’s safe to say that being compared to the Grateful Dead is an honor that any modern band can be very proud of.

Do you have Crash in your collection yet? Good news, there’s plenty of these babies to go around, and they’re only a buck right now!

Pete’s Picks: An Introduction to John Martyn

Uncovering one of music’s sweet little mysteries…

For music lovers, one of the most exciting aspects is the discovery of a new artist or album and being able to share that excitement with others—something that Murfie members know plenty about! So when the opportunity to offer a recommendation for Murfie Staff Picks came along, for me it was not a difficult choice. The hardest part was choosing which album to recommend.

John Martyn was a British singer-songwriter and guitarist whose career spread across 40 years and 21 studio albums. He’s had contributions along the way from Eric Clapton, The Band’s Levon Helm, Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour, Steve Winwood, Lee “Scratch” Perry and Phil Collins. John has also inspired a wide range of artists from Beck, The Cure’s Robert Smith, David Gray, Devendra Banhart, Snow Patrol and many more—yet John remains pretty much unknown to many.

The music of John Martyn captured my soul from the very first listen. Island Records was John’s musical home for 22 years. He recorded 12 studio albums during that time, none of which were of any real commercial success, so it is a testament to Island Records’ founder Chris Blackwell who signed John (who was just twenty years old), making him the first white artist to join the otherwise Jamaican-based music label in 1967. Chris Blackwell stuck by John for over 20 years, purely because he liked John and the music he made.

John described himself as an incurable romantic, which is evident in his ability for writing and delivering perfect love songs, without sounding cheap or blatantly inauthentic. What is even more astounding is his guitar playing, considering he didn’t know one chord from the next, but knew the shapes and positions his fingers needed to make to produce the the sound he wanted.

Like so many treasured and talented artists, John’s life was not without controversy. He suffered with drug abuse and alcohol addiction. He was uncompromising, and could become quite violent at times. In 2003, John’s right leg was amputated below the right knee due to septicemia brought on by diabetes. This would not slow him down, however. He continued to tour, performing with his band from a wheelchair.

In 2008, John was awarded a lifetime achievement award at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards and was included in the Queen’s New Years Honors list, receiving an O.B.E. (Order Of The British Empire). Sadly on January 29th, 2009, John died in a hospital in Ireland due to double pneumonia. Eric Clapton payed tribute to John claiming he was, “so far ahead of everything, it’s almost inconceivable.”

54624-large

Sweet Little Mysteries: The Island Anthology (1995)

This two disc collection highlights John’s most innovative and treasured moments during his time with Island Records, with a selection of tracks taken from eight studio albums from 1971-1986. This collection is certainly a great start in the discovery of the music of John Martyn, but is by no means the end of the journey. The tracks from each album represented on Sweet Little Mysteries are just a few from this golden period of John’s career. Below I have included a little background information relating to the albums that are featured in this collection.

MI0000665071

Bless The Weather (1971), Tracks 1-3

Bless The Weather is at times a delicate and beautiful album. It was recorded in just three days, as John preferred the spontaneous approach, and many of the songs were even written the day of recording. This album earned John some of the strongest reviews of his career. The album blends gentle yet complex acoustic guitar styles with John’s increasingly jazzy vocals. In 1999 (28 years after it’s original release), Q magazine suggested that Bless The Weather was one of the most essential folk albums of all time.

MI0000900684

Solid Air (1973), Tracks 4-8

Solid Air is considered to be John’s landmark album, which showed him move towards a more experimental folk, jazz and blues direction. Here John delivers his lyrics with a more slurred expression, almost using his voice as an instrument. From the first few opening notes of Solid Air, you are immediately seduced and on a journey into a real after-hours classic. The British music magazine Q listed Solid Air as the 67th Greatest British Album Ever and was also included in their list of Best Chill-Out Albums Of All Time—not bad for an album recorded in 1973.  The title track was written for and about John’s close friend and Island label mate Nick Drake. Also included from the Solid Air Album is the tender “May You Never”, a track that earned John the most royalty checks he ever received—not from his own version, but the version Eric Clapton recorded for his 1977 album Slowhand.

113831-large

Inside Out (1973), Tracks 9-11

Following the critical appeal brought by Solid Air, Inside Out was described by John as everything he ever wanted to do in music. It was his insides coming out. He began to experiment more with electric guitar, leaving the acoustic to take more of a backseat role. Experimentation with effects pedals also began to enter into the mix, and the introduction of the Echoplex tape delay machine was being used to try to make his guitar emulate a sustained sax sound, influenced by Pharoah Saunders‘ Karma album.

MI0002806063

Sunday’s Child (1975), Tracks 12-18

Having unleashed his experimental side through Inside Out, John appears a little more settled and content with the release of Sunday’s Child—and the Echoplex still makes an appearance, shaping some very interesting soundscapes to accompany his ever present messages of love. The songs within Sunday’s Child are of a more conventional structure, as demonstrated on the beautifully simple “You Can Discover” and “One Day Without You”. While promoting Sunday’s Child, John played support for Pink Floyd on their Wish You Were Here tour in the UK. As he took the stage with just his acoustic guitar in hand, he was met by a wall of abuse from the crowd, who made it perfectly clear that they were not prepared to sit and listen to a bunch of folk songs. Undeterred, John proceeded to plug his guitar into the Echoplex and blasted the audience with a performance that resulted in a standing ovation.

MI0002886309

One World (1977), Tracks 1-6

After Sunday’s Child, John decided that he needed some time away from recording and his ever-skeptical view of the music business. He headed out to Jamaica, and while he was there, was introduced to the master of dub, Lee “Scratch” Perry. When John finally returned to the UK with the desire to re-enter the studio, he recorded One World, which saw John introduce some of the influences from his trip to Jamaica in tracks such as “Big Muff” (written with Lee Scratch Perry) and “Smiling Stranger”. The album was produced by Chris Blackwell, and is another example of John’s hunger for experimentation. The album also features Steve Winwood on Moog synthesizer. One of the many highlights from this album is the incredible and truly ambient track “Small Hours”, which was recorded around 3:00 in the morning, outside in the open air, next to a lake on a farm owned by Chris Blackwell. It features the sounds of nature’s very own session musicians, as the geese and the lapping water can be heard playing their part along with a passing mail train in the distance.

127643-large

Grace And Danger (1980), Tracks 7-12

Grace and Danger is a deep, painful and openly honest account of the breakdown of John’s relationship with his wife Beverley, a singer-songwriter in her own right, who he met and married in 1969. John was originally hired to be Beverley’s backing guitarist, which eventually lead to them releasing two albums (Stormbringer and The Road To Ruin) as John & Beverley Martyn for Island records. The songs on Grace and Danger are not in anyway spiteful or of a bitter naturein fact, they are quite the opposite. At times they are reflective, optimistic with false hope, a plea to be understood. Unlike a Hollywood movie, there is no happy ending here. The release of the album was delayed for over a year due to the fact that Chris Blackwell found the album too openly disturbing, given that he knew both parties so well. John eventually demanded that the album be released, telling Blackwell, “Please get it out! I don’t give a damn about how sad it makes you feel—it’s what I’m about: direct communication of emotion.” Rolling Stone described Grace and Danger as “a very strong outing, placing him in a class with such intelligent eclectics as Joan Armatrading and Joni Mitchell.”

MI0002151184

Sapphire (1984), Tracks 13-14

For a brief period after Grace and Danger, John Left Island Records and signed to Warner Brothers releasing two albums, Glorious Fool (1981), which was produced by Phil Collins and featured Eric Clapton on guitar, and Well Kept Secret (1982). Both releases saw John’s guitar playing taking more of a backseat role, with keyboards and  drum machines featured more prominently and s well as live shows with a full band. John rejoined Island in 1984 and headed for Compass Point Studios in the Bahamas to record Sapphire with the help of Robert Palmer, who somewhat rescued the sessions as John was constantly falling out with the assigned production team. Again very little of John’s guitar playing is distinguishable from the now favored synth layers, as even his own guitar was now being fed through electronics, unfortunately with no real groundbreaking results.

MI0002484124

Piece By Piece (1986), Tracks 15-16

Piece By Piece was my introduction to the music of John Martyn and was played to me in 1987 on vinyl by a good friend of mine. I was 18 at the time and the thing that struck me on that very first listen was the honesty pouring out of John’s lyrics and the vocal delivery that convinced me that this guy means every word. The production and songwriting on Piece by Piece in my mind is far superior to that of the previous two records (Well Kept Secret and Sapphire) it indicates John on a more settled path once again, although it would not remain settled for long. Piece By Piece was John’s last studio album for Island as Chris Blackwell sold the company to the major label PolyGram, and John was later dropped and was without a record deal for the first time in over 20 years.

MI0003214509

Johnny Boy Would Love This! (2011)

In 1995, I met  and became friends with John and was fortunate to be in a position to help him sign a record deal with a label that I worked for in the UK. I worked with John on four albums before he sadly passed away in 2009. Later that same year, I was approached by John’s good friend and Chicago-based record Producer, Jim Tullio, to help coordinate and compile a tribute album to John that he was putting together. The album would contain brand new recordings of John’s classic songs performed by artists who had been influenced by John’s music. We secured thirty artists including: Beck, Snow Patrol, David Gray, Robert Smith (The Cure), Phil Collins, Joe Bonamassa, The Emperors of Wyoming (featuring Butch Vig) plus Academy Award winners, The Swell Season. Released in August 2011, the album titled Johnny Boy Would Love This: A Tribute to John Martyn received critical acclaim, helping music lovers to discover the sweet little mystery of John Martyn.

This Week in Music History (April 4th-10th)

What does music history have for us this week? Learn up and boogie down.

Oh, you wanna own any of these gems? What do you know, we just so happen to have them for sale! (Funny how that worked out ;) Right now, these titles start at just $1, so get ’em before they’re gone!

4 /4

MI0002130674

Chicago bluesman Muddy Waters was born on this day in 1915. Muddy’s influence spread across the Atlantic and helped ignite the British blues explosion (The Rolling Stones got their name from a Muddy Waters song). Muddy was in turn influenced by the psychedelic 60’s, resulting in a Hendrix-esque album of scorching guitar, Electric Mud. Enjoy!

4/5

13629-largeR.E.M. played their first gig on this day in 1980. The group released their debut record, Murmur, three years later, and Rolling Stone Magazine voted it the top album  of 1983, beating out Michael Jackson’s Thriller and U2’s War.

4/6

5706-large

The White Stripes took the top spot on the U.K. charts with their second album, Elephant, on this day in 2003. Jack White once said that the driving bassy riff of the record’s first song, “Seven Nation Army,” would be the song he would submit if he was ever asked to write the theme to a James Bond movie. Jack was asked to do just that five years later.

4/7

31196-large

Deep Purple was in deep trouble when their guitarist, Ritchie Blackmore, announced his departure from the band on this day in 1975. Blackmore then formed the band, Rainbow, and frontman Ian Gillan went on to play the part of Jesus in Andrew Lloyd Weber’s Jesus Christ Superstar.

4/8

7963-large

Former Joy Division bass player Peter Hook was knocked unconscious after a riot broke out at a New Order gig in Rotterdam on this day in 1982. In other news, New Order has reunited, and the group is scheduled to headline several festivals in Europe. The shows are sure to be knock outs.

4/9

32981-largeGene Parsons, drummer of The Byrds, was born on this day in 1944. Although The Byrds are best known for the psychedelic jangle of Mr. Tambourine Man, the group later moved in the direction of country with the addition of famed bluegrass picker, Clarence White.

4/10

7325-largePaul McCartney announced The Beatles‘ breakup on this day in 1970. The fab four released 12 albums, which together have sold over a billion units wordwide.