The New York Public Library's Office of Central Collection Development fields dozens of requests to purchase new material from our patrons each month. It is a great way to enrich our collections and cover lesser-known titles and areas of interest.
This list is a monthly compilation of my own personal favorite patron requests for music. I hope you will check out some of the great music that library users have suggested we acquire!
Provided are some great preview tracks for each. Just click on the titles to be taken to the Catalog.
The Catalogue by Kraftwerk
Find of the month! Kraftwerk's 1981 studio album Computer World is one of my all-time favorites, especially the B-side (does anyone know what that is?) with its no-track-lead-in, continuous play format. This is modernism — futurism even: an embracing of the machine as the aesthetic ideal for which to strive. But who would care if the robots didn't come through in the end with something undeniably beautiful, lonely, and yes, human. Ah, don't let me put words into a robot's mouth. If you don't know about Kraftwerk, you probably wouldn't like it. The point is, how could I have let this box set of remasters pass me by? One of my favorite groups waits two or three decades to throw their robot hats into the remastering arena, and I almost missed it? This series is freaking phenomenal! If you are a Kraftwerk fan, I urge you to check this out. It is not just Computer World, mind you, but all eight albums from 1974's Autobahn to 2003's Tour De France soundtracks. And wouldn't you know it, the new life in these mixes, the flourishes jumping out anew here and there, is made even more impressive by its machine-like discipline to subtlety. So here we have it folks, the end-all be-all of emotionally evocative electronic music made even more vibrant with a (fairly) new remastered version: RIGHT HERE: (Preview)
First Take by Roberta Flack
I was floored by this album! It ranks among the most subtle jazz albums of all time. Why I'm not saving it for its own "Great Albums" blog entry is beyond me. With Flack accompanying herself on the piano, and a one Mr. Ron Carter on bass, there is not a weak track on this whole offering. The ensemble has a sound that is completely natural and unforced, and it is hard not to marvel at the utter perfection of every note laid out by Carter's bass; but it is Flack's voice that catapults it into the realms of magic. It's just an unbelievable thing to hear. "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" is well-known, but lesser so are the equally stirring "Hey That's Now Way To Say Goodbye" (by Leonard Cohen), "Our Ages or Our Hearts," and "Angelitos Negros." More surprising still are the swinging numbers like "Tryin' Times" and "Compared to What," hitting the listener with timeless messages that seem as relevant today as they must have been in 1969: "'Cuz folks wouldn't have to suffer if there was more love for you brother, but these are tryin' times." (Preview)
Abacabok by Tartit
This is definitely the most unique request of the month. It was put out by Malinese refugees who had been sent to a refugee camp in Burkina Faso. Although this speaks of a people that rely on music to get through horrifically hard times, what they do with their voices is the impressive part. I've never heard anything quite like it. If the gods of old exist, certainly this conjures them. (Preview)
Within and Without by Washed Out
Down tempo, dreamy, and hypnotic, the production elements on the album evoke the sound of the sky when looking at the most beautiful electronic sunset you've ever seen. It's near-flawless in its execution. (Preview)
Dillanthology3 by J Dilla
J Dilla was a Hip-Hop producer who worked with pretty much any rapper who could get him. He approached the common Hip-Hop element of sampling like a true artist, weaving often lesser-known and under-used sources into a pastiche of infectious block-rockin beats. It just worked! And it still works. He is almost always included in best producers of all-time lists. He showed us what sampling could and should be, and what great Hip-Hop production sounds like. J Dilla, may you Rest In Beats. (Preview)
Master of Reality by Black Sabbath
OK, so Black Sabbath is not exactly in need of being rescued from the jaws of obscurity; but this album, its third, is in fact a little lesser known than it's two juggernaut predecessors. From its love song to marijuana to the track that would provide the blueprint to the "stoner rock" genre decades later ("Into the Void"), it reveals what I consider to be the hippy-dippy side of the Sabb'. Take "Into the Void": it's not that they want to be dark and foreboding, it's that a world gone awry has made them that way. The lyrics suggest all of us who would prefer a world based on peace, love, and happiness should build a rocket ship and leave this world of pollution, sin, and hate to find "another world where freedom waits." Then there is "After Forever," a song that seems to make the case for believing in God; and perhaps the loneliest song ever recorded by a metal band, "Solititude" (and yes, that is Ozzy on vocals). (Preview)
What It Is: Funky Soul and Rare Grooves by various
This 4-CD monster compilation of funk grooves from the late 60s and early 70s is everything a good comp should be: the tracks are remastered for a fuller sound without being heavy-handed or taking away from the original; the mostly rare tracks (with a sprinkling of familiar tracks) do not sound like they belong on the cutting room floor, but that they really should see the light of day; it's arranged chronologically; and it is not limited to one label. Other comps take note: this is how it should be done. Just a ton of great tunes, many of which I'll bet you hadn't heard. (Preview)
PRATIBHA RAGA YAMAN KALYAN by Pandit Nikhil Banerjee
This is a beautiful and moving recording of Indian sitar and tabla music. (Preview)
The Journey by Tina Guo
Is there any style or genre the cello can't tackle? Guo's latest CD answers with a resounding "NO!" From softly orchestrated chamber music to industrial metal, from showing off her abilities for speed to ethereal drones, she seems to want to demonstrate this simple truth: the cello can do anything she asks of it. (Preview)
Wicked Will by the Ettes
There's nothing like a good revival, especially if the deity invoked is 60s garage rock! What separates the Ettes from other garage rock revivalists is they sound less like on homage band and more like a band that stepped into a time machine in 1965 and somehow transported to today, complete with that era's style, production values, and attitude. Great stuff! (Preview)
TUNE IN NEXT MONTH!