The lost art of deep listening: Choose an album. Lose the phone. Close your eyes.

Clint Eastwood listens to records at his home in 1959. 
(CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images)

(via Los Angeles Times) By RANDALL ROBERTS

What’s your favorite album? When was the last time you listened — actually listened — to it from start to finish? With intention, like you were watching a movie or reading a novel.

Clear your schedule for the next three hours. Choose three full albums, whether from your collection or your streaming service of choice. Put them in an ordered queue as though you were programming a triple feature.

Because, listen:

Musicians spend years making their albums. They struggle over syllables, melodies, bridges and rhythms with the same intensity with which you compare notes on the “Forensic Files” reboot, loot corpses in “Fortnite” or pound Cabernet during pandemics.

But most of us are half-assed when it comes to listening to albums. We put on artists’ work while we’re scrolling through Twitter, disinfecting doorknobs, obsessively washing our hands or romancing lovers permitted within our COVID-free zones. We rip our favorite tracks from their natural long-player habitat, drop them into playlists and forget the other songs, despite their being sequenced to be heard in order…

Read more: Coronavirus tips: Why you should listen to music in this way – Los Angeles Times (latimes.com)

Albumlinernotes.com is the largest archive of Liner Notes on the internet.

Albumlinernotes.com is an absolute treasure trove of artist and album information intended to help fill the great information void brought on by the music download era.

Music has never before been so readily accessible. But liner notes–the band bios, song credits, and artfully written plaudits for the music you love–are sadly a thing of the past, unless you’re an avid collector of reissues like this writer.

This is the kind of site a music lover can get lost in. Check it out.

Album Liner Notes

How British Rockers Bankrolled Monty Python’s Career

British comedy troupe Monty Python including (left to right) Michael Palin, Terry Jones, Eric Idle, Graham Chapman (1941 – 1989), Terry Gilliam, and John Cleese, lounge about at the site of their filmed live show at the Hollywood Bowl, Hollywood, California, 1982. Chapman and Cleese smoke pipes. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

(via LAist) By Marialexa Kavanaugh with Jonathan Shifflett & John Horn

Eric Idle co-founded legendary sketch comedy group Monty Python. While writing and rewriting his new biography, Always Look on the Bright Side of Life, Idle realized the story he was telling was much larger than just him.

“You don’t really know what part of your life is interesting,” Idle said. “I discovered finally after three or four drafts that the book was actually about my generation, people growing up in our post-war England, rationing and poor. And that these kids who were born in the end of the war invented rock and roll.”

Monty Python is widely considered to have the same level of influence on the comedy world that the Beatles and the Rolling Stones did on rock. British rock and comedy had their own symbiotic relationship through the ’60s and ’70s — including financing Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

“I mean it was Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Genesis, Jethro Tull — they all pitched in money so we could make the film,” Idle said…

Read more: How British Rockers Bankrolled Monty Python’s Career: LAist

The Greatest Prog Guitarists: An Essential Top 25 Countdown

Whether they’re the mastermind of the band or keep the cosmic flights well-grounded, we pay tribute to the best prog guitarists of all time.

(via udiscovermusic) by Brett Milano

Think of progressive rock and what immediately comes to mind is caped keyboard players navigating a sea of wires connected to their Moog. Yet many of the pivotal players in prog rock have been guitarists, and there are easily as many earth-shaking guitar solos in prog as there are in hard rock or metal. Sometimes those prog guitarists are the leader and mastermind of their band, sometimes they’re the player who keeps those cosmic flights well-grounded. This list pays tribute to some of prog’s landmark ax-slingers.

25: Steve Rothery (Marillion)

In both the Fish and Steve Hogarth incarnations, Marillion was always an unconventional prog band. They avoided instrumental prowess for its own sake, preferring slow and stately pieces built largely around the vocal. Steve Rothery can be a model of restraint, playing mood-enhancing textural parts, but he can also deliver a solo as dramatic as the one on “Easter,” Hogarth’s lament for Northern Ireland.

24: Franco Mussida (PFM)

Italy’s premier prog band, PFM absorbed some influence from their peers. Listening to Franco Mussida’s leads you can detect traces of Steve Howe, Robert Fripp, and Al DiMeola – all with a strong European classical influence. The latter came out when Mussida played acoustic, which he did often: PFM’s “Jet Lag” may be the only prog classic to open with three minutes of pure acoustic guitar. But he could also do a ripping electric solo; witness the live showpiece “Alta Loma Five Till Nine,” with a solo that keeps ramping up the power…

Read more: The Greatest Prog Guitarists: An Essential Top 25 Countdown | uDiscover (udiscovermusic.com)

What happened the night Jethro Tull beat Metallica to a Grammy Award

(via Classic Rock) by Johnny Black

When prog rockers Jethro Tull pipped Metallica to win Best Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Recording award in 1989, most in the audience started laughing. Some of them haven’t stopped

n 1989, in an attempt to show they were at least attempting to be ‘down with the kids’, the Grammys introduced a new category: Best Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Recording. All good so far.

However, on February 22, when Metallica, Iggy Pop, Jane’s Addiction and the year’s other major contenders in the new category showed up for the Grammy Awards ceremony at The Shrine in Los Angeles, none of them could possibly have expected that, when award presenter Alice Cooper opened the envelope and began “And the winner is…” the award for Best Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Recording of 1989 would go to a folksy, flute- fronted prog rock band: the decidedly non-metal, far from hard-rocking Jethro Tull.

Yes, you can laugh. Many there on the night certainly did…

Read more: What happened the night Jethro Tull beat Metallica to a Grammy Award | Louder (loudersound.com)

On Music…

Radio Garden Offers a Fun Way to Explore Stations of the World

(via digitaltrends) by Trevor Mogg

Imagine looking at Google Earth and seeing thousands of tiny green dots all over the map, with each one representing a playable radio station. That’s pretty much Radio Garden, a mobile and web app offering a fun way to enjoy live radio from around the world…

Read more: Radio Garden Offers Fun Way to Explore Stations of the World | Digital Trends

Radio Garden – Search

The Best Steely Dan Songs, Ranked

(via uproxx) by Steven Hyden

One of the strangest (and most heartwarming) developments in recent years is the hip-ification of 1970s snarky jazz-rock institution Steely Dan. Once the butt of endless “graying ponytail” jokes by insufferable indie dweebs, Steely Dan has somehow become part of the indie dweeb canon, a turn confirmed by numerous indie music sites writing thoughtfully and enthusiastically about the band’s nine studio albums released over the course of 31 years.

Some have claimed that this embrace of The Dan is “revisionism,” but that’s not exactly right. In the ’70s, Steely Dan was widely regarded as one of the top American bands of the era. They were commercially successful and critically acclaimed. It’s just that subsequent generations for decades didn’t seek them out like they did Fleetwood Mac or even The Eagles. This was partly a function of how Steely Dan songs work — a spotless veneer of impeccable musicianship and complex music progressions act as a kind of slow release capsule for the humor and perversity that lurks inside. The whole point of this band is to grab the ear immediately, but not reveal what is actually going on until many listens, and even many decades, later. That’s not revisionism; that’s just taking a very long time to “get it.”

Read more: The Best Steely Dan Songs, Ranked (uproxx.com)

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Editorial note: While I solidly disagree with many of the the author’s choices/placings (and don’t share his understanding of what the song “The Fez” refers to) I applaud an informative and thought-provoking article on one of my favorite bands.

A Picture’s Worth a Thousand Words: Stories Behind Iconic Album Covers

Source: Amazon / Photo by Dezo Hoffman, Shutterstock

(via musicoholics)

Rubber Soul, The Beatles (1965)

Photographer Robert Freeman snapped the picture of the band in John Lennon’s garden. The stretched effect was actually a mistake made while the band was looking at Robert’s samples. He projected the image onto a cardboard cutout, but when the cardboard fell backwards, the image became stretched. The band ended up loving the image and felt like it was a perfect depiction of their new sound.

The album’s typography was designed by Charles Front. He used the title as inspiration and created a typeface style that was used for psychedelic and flower-power designs. Charles also added another hidden element to his lettering. The title reads “Road Abbey” if you hold the album upside down in front of a mirror…

Read more: A Picture’s Worth a Thousand Words: Stories Behind Iconic Album Covers – page 3 of 36 – Musicoholics

Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson: My Life in 10 Songs

As the pioneering prog rockers celebrate their 50th anniversary with a tour and new box set, their leader reflects on the tracks that defined them

(via Rolling Stone) by Kory Grow

For Ian Anderson – prog rocker extraordinaire and the world’s best one-legged-stance flautist, bar none – a half-century career in music is no remarkable feat. “It’s not any particularly novel or unusual occurrence,” the Jethro Tull leader says nonchalantly through his dry British accent. “This year marks the anniversary of many other bands who did things around the same period of time. King Crimson started in 1968. So did Yes, Rush and Deep Purple. And of course it’s Led Zeppelin’s 50th anniversary too. So there we go.”

But what he fails to acknowledge is that none of those bands, no matter how out-there they got, were able to blend their hard-rock aspirations with the same levels of pomp, guile or unapologetic pretension as Jethro Tull. None scored FM-radio gold singing lyrics like “Lend me your ear while I call you a fool” (“The Witch’s Promise”) or by writing a 44-minute, tongue-in-cheek prog-rock song (“Thick as a Brick,” presented in two parts on the original LP and packaged in a fake newspaper) or by playing frilly flute solos over Renaissance-inspired folk-rock (“Songs From the Wood”).

In their 50 years, Jethro Tull have notched an astounding 15 gold or platinum albums in the U.S., as well as two Number One LPs. Their most famous song, “Aqualung,” has a guitar riff that’s as cutting and memorable as “Iron Man” and “Smoke on the Water,” and their music has influenced Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Porcupine Tree, Pearl Jam and Nick Cave, among others. Yet the band has not yet been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and the only time it has won a Grammy was in the Hard Rock/Metal category – a concept that seemed so preposterous to Anderson that he didn’t bother to show up…

Read more: Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson: My Life in 10 Songs – Rolling Stone

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