Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Great Seconds in Music

Great songs are great songs. But the best ones occasionally have just a little something extra -- a singer hitting that elusive high note, an unexpected chord change, or even a mistake. However brief, such a moment can make the whole tune.

Warning: list may be biased toward my personal tastes. Deal with it. Or, feel free to argue or add your choice(s) in ye olde comments section.

"Lykief" (Timecode 9:25-9:35)
Branford Marsalis Quartet, Requiem
If there is a more beautiful way to end a piece of music than this, I haven't heard it. Marsalis' final trill melts into a sublime Major 6th from pianist Kenny Kirkland. In my imagination, this was the last song laid-down at the recording sessions for the album, and these were the last notes played by Kirkland before he died.

"Let Somebody Love Me" (Timecode 1:49)
David Ruffin, David: The Unreleased Album
I stand by my oft-stated assertion that David Ruffin is the greatest ever R&B/Soul singer. Hands down, the guy knew how to sell a tune, and this is his shining moment. The second chorus is winding down and the song is headed to the bridge. Basically, this is a man in absolute top form, just fucking going for it. Extra points go to Ruff's unbelievable display of vocal range as he hits the high notes at 2:28 and 3:18. Man oh man, was this guy something special.

"When the Levee Breaks" (Timecode 5:15)
Led Zeppelin, Untitled fourth album
In second year I took a class called "the history of popular music, 1945 to present." When describing in lay-terms some distinguishing traits of early heavy metal, the professor noted something he called "around the kit drumming." If I were asked to identify the archetype by which all other drum rolls were to be measured, John Bonham's simultaneous display of precision and power, as the band enters the final chorus, would be my immediate answer. As a side note, it's unfathomable to me why this song was not included on the live album/dvd released a few years back. Played live, this song must have been an absolute monster.

"Stuck in a Moment..." (Timecode 3:33)
U2, All That You Can't Leave Behind
Arguably one of the all-time great transitions from chorus to coda. A heavenly-pure chord change played so smoothly by The Edge. With good headphones, you can hear all the overtones as he slides up to the change, as if the thought of playing that particular chord just occurred to him that instant. Noel Gallagher once called this song "ace," and this moment is where The Edge played his winning hand.

"The Pioneers" (Timecode 3:16-3:23)
Bill Frisell, Good Dog, Happy Man
Distinguishing oneself as a jazz guitarist may be one of the most difficult things to accomplish as a musician. In a genre where any number of players can display mind boggling technical proficiency, the true greats are prized equally for their tone. The guitar, reliant as it is on non-human factors (amplifiers, etc), hardly lends itself to the easy creation of a distinctive individual timbre, but some performers have indeed managed to find their own voice. Bill Frisell can definitely be counted among this select group, and the descending run he plays he plays here during his solo is the perfect example of this legend's warm tone and wonderfully intuitive phrasing.

Four more little ditties are to be had after the jump


Anonymous eli said...

i pay regular visits to your blog when I want inspiration for new good music... i am glad you decided to publish bits of your musical taste on the web.

6/08/2005 9:17 p.m.  
Blogger Punk is Dead said...

Thanks Eli. As always, your opinions are greatly appreciated.

6/09/2005 11:33 p.m.  

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