3. Absolutely (1980) - Madness
I added three other Madness albums to my iPod in 2018 (One Step Beyond…; The Rise & Fall; Keep Moving) along with this. One Step Beyond... is iconic and is probably ingrained in my mind and soul after the number of plays it has had in my ears. The Rise & Fall is an excellent album that is on par with any top pop album from 1981-1983. Keep Moving is in my wheelhouse as an album and if I had bought the cassette in 1984 when it released, that cassette would have been quickly worn out and replaced.
But - Absolutely is the Madness album I put on when I want to hear Madness.
It may be the energy of the album, it might be the collection of songs that drives it forward, it might be because it makes my toes tap, it could be how the band gives you a glimpse of who they are. For me, they could have rested on the laurels of their first album but this album that boldly and loudly declares that they are not worried about what we all think, they hope we enjoy their music and that we come along with them, and they make it clear we all know that they are Madness.
2. Find A Light (2018) Blackberry Smoke
This album starts with a combination shot to the jaw and solar plexus.
The band then turns on its five wheels and brings it solid and real with a collection of songs and music that will cause all of those other “country music” artists to shudder.
Grinders, ballads, soul-searchers and rockers all come together into an album that is a patchwork quilt sewn by life, miles and time that will not let you sit still. Robert Randolph, Amanda Shires and the Wood Brothers are around the help out. By journeys end it is evident Blackberry Smoke is all about southern rock and that they put what really counts into Country - and that their roots stretch and grow into ground others would not dare reach for.
1. The Bootleg Series, Vol. 12: The Cutting Edge 1965-66 (Deluxe Edition) (2018) Bob Dylan
(Disclaimer: I did not intend to purchase this album but an unscheduled click in the iTunes store brought it into my collection - and the Deluxe Edition, at that.)
What a wonder of a set of tracks. A few of them are completed versions of well-known songs that are always welcome. Most of the tracks are incomplete, unfinished, in-progress works that may or may not included the finished product. There are four versions of one of my favorites, It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry and the evolution is such a treat to hear. Multiple versions of many great songs grace the collection.
My head spins with each listen as Dylan, the band and the often-heard engineer/producer works a masterful job holding it together as Dylan names recording takes: “Phantom Engineer - Number Cloudy”.
Many thanks to Dylan the engineer/producer(s) and everyone else who kept these tracks around for all of us to enjoy.
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