Skip to main content

12 by...

In an effort to 1) make sure this blog has more regular content and 2) roll with the digital times, I'm instituting a new feature. So in addition to my sporadic reviews of albums, and the occasional rant about whatever is on my mind, you can look for 12 by... every week.

But what is it all about? Well, any music obsessive worth his or her muster has made at least one custom "best of" mix for his or her favorite artist, right? Best of collections are a tried-and-true tradition, and yet they are so often poorly done. (Read extensive thoughts on the matter here).

My idea is that there are many many artists who only need a 12 track best-of, and nothing more. Consider those 20th Century Masters Millenium Collections. Certain artists (Donnie Iris, Go West) are perfect for it and others (Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder) are not. You can't summarize Elton John or David Bowie in 12 songs.

Ironically, the number 12 comes from James Taylor's Greatest Hits album. I cannot imagine a more perfect summary of his music, even though he has put out many enjoyable songs since its release. I wouldn't pick an artist of his caliber for this project, and yet he sets the standard.

So I'll be giving you an artist, and the only 12 songs you need to know by that artist.

As for what to do with my opinion? Maybe it will serve as a good place to start downloading a certain artist's work. If you already have all the songs I mention, you could use it to make a playlist in your iTunes. Or you could argue with me about the exclusion of your favorite song. Or you could just read and enjoy.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

REO Speedwagon: R.E.O. Speedwagon (1971)

REO Speedwagon got its start in the late 1960s on the campus of the University of Illinois in Champaign/Urbana. The band grew out of a friendship between a students Neal Doughty (piano/keyboard) and Alan Gratzer (drums). Joining up with a couple of other musicians, they took the name R.E.O. Speedwagon. It wasn't long before they started getting gigs at parties and bars, doing covers of the hits of the day. The band cycled through several players in its first three years, with Gratzer and Doughty as the only constants. One-by-one they added the members that would form the first "official" lineup: singer Terry Luttrell in early 1968, bassist Gregg Philbin later that summer, and guitarist Gary Richrath at the end of 1970. Richrath was a native of Peoria, 90 miles northwest of Champaign, and had essentially stalked the band until they let him join. It was a good move, as he not only an accomplished guitarist, but also a songwriter. With Richrath the band ascended to the n

12 by Matthew Sweet (2002 - 2021)

Sometimes a huge part of an artist's career has not been summarized. Case in point... Matthew Sweet has a couple of compliations out there, but neither of them cover the past couple of decades, a span that has seen him release 8 albums of original material and 3 albums of covers.  I followed Sweet's career religiously early on, with my ardor gradually diminishing after the magnificant one-two punch of In Reverse (1999) and The Thorns (2003) That's not to say he hasn't produced some great work since then, it's just that it requires bit of effort to pick out the gems. Here's my college try: (Two of these albums are not available on streaming servies, so here's a slightly modified version of the playlist on YouTube .) 1. "I Can't Remember" ( The Thorns , 2003) The Thorns was a rootsy, close-harmony early-aughts version of Crosby, Stills, and Nash, featuring Shawn Mullins (of "Lullaby" fame) and Pete Droge (of "If You Don't Lov

The Beatles: "Now and Then" (2023)

All the way back in 2008, I wrote a series of  posts covering the recorded output of an obscure 1960s band called The Beatles. Though never especially popular or commercially successful, they managed to release an impressive 13 albums and 2 compilations in a 7-year period. Once I completed those reviews, I promptly forgot all about the Beatles. I was sure that I didn't need to keep tabs on them, because all indications were that they'd never reunite or release any more music. So you can imagine my surprise a couple of weeks ago when I came across a YouTube video claiming to be about the making of a new "final" Beatles song called "Now and Then." And then imagine even more surprise when I learned that this song was not the first new Beatles song since 1970. It's the third! As it turns out, the Beatles had actually "reuinted" to record more music in the 1990s. Though band member John Lennon was killed in 1980, he left behild some unfinished songs