All Good Things And The Album Challenge

by Kevin Burton

   In June a friend challenged me to name ten albums that influenced me when I was younger. He challenged others too.

   All he asked was that we name the album and post the cover art.  That surface approach of course, is not my style.

   I determined that the unexamined musical life, to paraphrase Plato, was not worth living.

   Since then I have looked back in appreciation, even awe, of some of the greatest music ever recorded. I have talked about how it changed me.

   But now I’m ending the album challenge and will carry on talking music in different ways in my Tuesday posts.

   Of course no one is more qualified than my old friend Rollie Dean, a rock and roller in his own right, to help me end the series. We continue with his 20 questions, begun last week (“Talking Music After The Album Challenge” Nov. 10).

   Q11: you mentioned the “Evita” soundtrack as a possible post. Anything else from TV, movies or theatre that crossed your mind?

   “Welcome Back,” the theme from the Welcome Back Kotter TV show was a 70s song I liked by John Sebastian. That song got me interested in some of the things the Lovin’ Spoonful did in the 60s.

  Q12: I know you like disco. Why didn’t any disco records make your list?

   “Disco does not suck. And no, this is not me damning that genre with faint praise. There was a whole ‘disco sucks’ thing that I hope to talk more about that later.”

   “So all love to disco, I give it a measure of respect as an art form. But influence? Once a disco song ends and your booty stops shaking, isn’t the “influence” over?”

  Q13: No love for Grease?

   “Grease makes me smile. It doesn’t make me think.”

  Q14:  Why is there no funk on your list? 

   “If Sly and the Family Stone had strung together more songs like “Everyday People,” they could have been considered.”

  Q15: Has the album challenge affected your songwriting?

   “Maybe a little. I am less willing to settle for a lyric until I have found the right one. I am more open to ideas out of left field.”

  Q16:  Why didn’t you find a way to mention your all-time four favorite song in the album challenge?

   “I’m a 70s guy, my favorite group, the Beatles, is a 60s group. But my all-time favorite song (I think) is an 80s song, “Come On Eileen” by Dexy’s Midnight Runners.

   So I bought the album that the song came from and I HATED, ev-er-y-thing else on the album. HATED it. Got rid of the album. 

  Q17: OK, so how did “Mr. Beatles Guy” get all the way through the album challenge without talking about the Beatles?

   “I was in on the very tail end of them being on the radio but I had no idea what I was listening to.  I thought ‘I get high with a little help from my friends,’ referred to high achievement at school or at work.”

  “I will get to the Beatles stuff, trust me.”

  Q18: And the post-Beatles Beatles, Wings etc.?

   “I will get to that too.”

   Q19: Where do you stand on Bob Dylan?  Was he an influence at all?

   “I like my Dylan filtered through other artists. There is no way I am going to sit around spinning Dylan tunes. But for instance, when I find out that Steely Dan’s album title “Can’t Buy A Thrill” is actually a Dylan lyric, I get that influence. Can you even have Steely Dan without having had Dylan first?”

   “His influence is freedom. Freedom to knock down walls, question the rules, go where your gut, your eyes and your ear take you… His influence coming through other more tuneful acts, that’s a beautiful thing.”

   Q20: Would you do the album challenge again?

   “This was a lot of fun and it taught me a lot. I can see myself doing something similar in the future. I may think of something. And of course, there could be another challenge on Facebook.”

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