When I started writing this series of Listens To! posts, my idea was to:
A: Listen to the tonnes of albums I have acquired over the years that I hadn’t bothered to actually listen to yet and give my thoughts as I listened for the first time.
B: Catch up on those artists that I was aware of/liked certain songs by, but whose albums I had never listened to in their entirety.
C: Potentially get some new favourites based off what I heard or by recommendations from my billions of readers.
D: Because there are a tonne of albums which always appear on best of lists which I have never heard. As a musician, music fan, and human with working ears, I feel that I should give these a go.
To get some focus, I decided to go to 2000 Edition of ‘Colin Larkin’s All Time Top 1000 Albums’ because it looks fairly comprehensive (and there are a few extra sections listing top 100 albums by genre which cover selections left out of the main 1000 which I will also try to cover).
Greetings, Glancers and Music Fans! Today, I’m going to ‘Live Review’ John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme, which comes in at number 85 on the list. This is the first review I’ve written specifically for the Top 1000 Albums series. I’m excited to get started, to have my mind expanded by new sounds. I’m also a little agitated by the fact that this is a Jazz album – there are only a handful of genres of music that I can’t stand – Irish, Country, Swing, and Jazz. So far I’ve never heard a single Irish song I’ve liked, Country has a handful of artists I appreciate, Jazz I’ve never truly listened to offer an informed opinion, and Swing is the worst atrocity ever inflicted upon humanity.
As this is my first review, I’ll mention a few preliminaries: Each review will contain a few sections – What I know of the Artist, What I know of the Album, the review itself, What I Learned, and whether or not I feel it deserves its place in a Top 1000 albums list. So, without further Apu, let’s get it on.
What I Know About John Coltrane: He is/was a Jazz musician of some sort. I want to say piano, but I’m guessing he was involved with trumpets. Nut not like that. To be honest, most of what I know about Jazz comes from Haruki Murakami books.
What I Know About A Love Supreme: Absolutely nothing. I’m sure I’ve heard the name before, but I don’t know what it’s about, I’m guessing I don’t know any of the music. I imagine there will be some long pieces here and I won’t know when 1 track ends and another begins.
Review: Woo hoo!
Part 1: Bong. Cymbals and sax of some sort.Rhythm and piano playing out of time with each other. Saxophone going all over the place. Yes, this is pretty much what I expected, mostly seemingly freestyle and tuneless. The backing piano tried to lend some foundation, but it may as well not be there, shoved as it is underneath the damaging cymbals and sax. So, this is meant to be one of the best jazz albums ever? It’s not making me hopeful for what some of the lesser albums will be like. I can only imagine this was influential within the genre. This wee bit around 5 minutes with the four note sax is quite entertaining, but I can’t tell if Coltrane is taking the piss or not. Aah, now they’re singing ‘A Love Supreme’ in place of the four notes. But too many times. Slowing. Calming. Piano taking lead now, but those cymbals and drums are still flapping. Fade. Bass. Has it stopped? Someone appears to just be playing random notes badly.
Part 2: Explosion. Lets assume this is now the second track due to that quite part above. It sounds just like the first, except the drums are more pronounced now. The sound of being shrunken, then trapped in a jam jar with a wasp. Imagine falling down a never-ending set of stairs while monks shoot fireworks at you. Now piano insanity. Sounds like a chase scene in some old spy movie. Lord, this is disastrous. Imagine a whale masturbating into your eye socket. Like chewing a CD. Like replacing your tongue with 4 strips of velcro and removing all the paint from your walls by licking it off. Like trying to connect to the internet with a bran flake instead of a laptop. Silence.
Part 3: Drums. Sounds like Bonham, fair enough. Come on Jimmy, come in with a riff to save us. Decent drumming, but without backing music it’s just tribal balls. They’ve copied and pasted the backing, damp piano from the first track and copied it here. Now racing piano over the top. It’s essentially the same as the last 15 minutes. Actually no, this one is more like watching people dancing on top of a very shallow pool of lava. Everything is so one paced. Now more saxophone, but where does it go? What does it mean? If this was guitar, critics would moan. Imagine climbing up a water slide whilst an angry mob of rat people chomps at your feet. The 3rd time I died, it sounded an awful lot like this. Butterfly bun. 404 error. Must be over halfway by now. Oh, there was a slight hint of something resembling a motif there, but it was shot down by another arsetastic drum solo. The drums are easily the best part of this whole mess. Now bass. It must be a poor recording, because the background hiss is almost as loud as the bass. This sounds almost identical to the stoned bass guitar playing I recorded on an old 4 track, and I can’t play the bass, but the similarities are astounding. I’ve no idea what is going on so I’m going to keep talking in
Part 4: where the awful bass and hiss just keeps going. Tuneless shite. I swear if someone had played this part alone to me I would have asked them how the hell they got their hands on a demo cassette I recorded over ten years ago in an attic when I had taken too much beer and Percy. This leads me to believe that I must be one of the greatest bassist of all time. Now piano and softly softly sax. This is much more pleasant, sounds like the tail end of a storm. Reminds me a little of Quadrophenia. Breathy sax. More breathy sax and gongs. Oh lord, is it over?
Colin Larkin’s Ranking: 85/1000
What I Learned: That I still think Jazz is balls, and that I’m still right.
Deserving Of A Place In Top 1000 Albums Of All Time: If we are looking at this purely from the point of influence, cultural relevance, impact on the genre, then… possibly. I don’t know enough about the history to say one way or another. Looking at it musically, then the answer ir a resounding fuck off.
Ok hip cats, Trumpet The Bloated, and other unfortunate Jazz related epithets – tell me what I’m missing in the comments. Why should I give this another go? Why is it good? Why am I an idiot? Mummy?