Album: African Herbsman
Artist: Bob Marley and The Wailers
Released: July 1973
Released in 1973, ‘African Herbsman’ is a must-listen for anyone looking to take a moment to relax with some great music, and although this is a compilation album it never loses the warm feeling it carries throughout. The reason why the songs flow so well together could also be since the compilation is made up mostly of songs from ‘Soul Revolution’, an earlier Jamaican release from two years earlier. The album also includes a few singles, like the opening classic ‘Lively Up Yourself’ and the beautifully melodic track ‘Small Axe.’ From an upbeat beginning the album mellows out more and more with each track, yet never loses its energy, you can hear it in Bob’s voice. The songs which I personally love the most on this album are ‘African Herbsman’ and ‘Keep On Moving’, the latter being such and inspirational song, yet keeping chill as if to say everything will be alright in the end. Bob Marley really knew how to get his message across through his music, as well as the mood he transmits through it even after his passing. The rough vocals on ‘African Herbsman’, the title track, really add to the rawness of the singing and the pure talent, the beauty of the song. Although it can be appreciated by anyone and everyone under any conditions, I just gotta say that if you enjoy the ganja as much as I do, you then you have to hear this if you haven’t yet. From the title track, to the weed song ‘Kaya’, to the super relaxing and uplifting ‘Sun Is Shining.’ Other Bob Marley albums have beautiful songs, don’t get me wrong, but this one really carries a completely chill vibe throughout. I have so many great memories blazing to most of these songs, so this album is one of my favorites, without a doubt. A message to all, check it out if you haven’t!
Album: The Division Bell
Artist: Pink Floyd
Released: March 28, 1994
The Division Bell is Pink Floyd’s fourteenth album, an underrated and overlooked masterpiece hidden in plain sight – or sound, to be technically correct. One of my favorite albums of any genre, this album is quite simply masterfully crafted, bringing together the chill, transcendental, psychedelic sound Pink Floyd is best known for, and the intense excitement of David Gilmour’s soulful guitar riffs, which give me goosebumps to this day to be honest, even after listening to the album countless times from beginning to end over many years. This classic was released on March 28th, 1994, almost exactly eight months before my birth. I think of this album as a comforting friend, providing a chill and relaxed atmosphere to zone into whenever I need a minute to breathe or think, or to simply be. It sure reminds me of many memories, mostly relaxed and peaceful, reflective ones.
I remember I would often lay down in bed, face up, hands behind my head, after a tired day’s work, The Division Bell slowly beginning to play on the speakers, starting with the soft, soothing piano sounds of the intro track ‘Cluster One’, easing my mind into an almost hypnotic, half awake, half asleep state, a sensation so similar to the beginning of a vivid lucid dream. The guitar which emerges so gracefully from the background creates a chill as I begin to drift. I concentrate on the music until I wake up, not knowing the exact point I fully fell asleep. I usually wake up some hours later feeling delightfully and surprisingly refreshed. Talk about therapeutic music. ‘The Division Bell’ as a title is a reference to the bell which is rung in the British parliament when a vote is announced, and this symbolizes that the album has to do with the choices we make and the decisions which dictate the rest our lives.
After ‘Cluster One’, the introductory track, the album seems to abruptly change into a menacing, fiery tone on ‘What Do You Want from Me?’, the most upbeat and hard track on the album – lively, exciting, energetic, electric. ‘Poles Apart’ brings about a trippy, nostalgic feeling, as it should have, considering that it is written in reference to former bandmates Syd Barrett and Roger Waters. ‘Marooned’ is simply breathtakingly beautiful, and it must be listened to without any distractions around in order to fully appreciate the calmness it creates, especially being fully instrumental and melodic. ‘A Great Day for Freedom’ is great as well, ‘Wearing the Inside Out’ even greater, extremely euphoric is how I would explain it. ‘Take It Back’ and ‘Coming Back to Life’ are lively, catchy tracks, the latter starting out calmly with a sharp electric guitar cry, piercing through the serene silence. Then it progresses into something extraordinary, a truly pleasant experience.
‘Keep Talking’ is just epic, and carries a deep, meaningful message within its lyrics, while ‘Lost for Words’ is also a deep, progressive track but with a different feel, also really great. ‘High Hopes’ is the longest track on the album, the most progressive, gradually building up to perfection, beginning with the little tinkle of bells which echo in a melodic, mysterious tone. The album ends as an epic ensemble of instruments truly fit to be the finishing track for this fantastic album. In conclusion,The Division Bell is an overall masterpiece of classic rock, and a definite must-listen for any Pink Floyd fan, and for anyone who appreciates great music in general for that matter.
Enjoy this great album, let me know if take you listen!
~ REBEL SPIRIT ~
Album: Rubber Soul
Artist: The Beatles
Released: December 3, 1965
“Baby, you can drive my car!
Yes, I’m gonna be a star!”
~ The Beatles, ‘Drive My Car’
So begins this timeless classic of a Beatles studio album – their sixth to be precise: ‘Rubber Soul’, released in 1965 – upbeat and lively, melodic and serene, all in one yet all the while staying true to one vibrant, beautiful vibe all throughout without failing on one track! The opening song ‘Drive My Car’ quickly excites me from the very beginning about the direction this album is headed, and yet by the time this song finishes the direction switches completely to a soft, nostalgic kind of melody: ‘Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown).’ Surprisingly, it doesn’t seem the tone has changed much in a way,
‘Norwegian Wood’ is one of my favorite songs on this album, and I’m sure many can agree emphatically! The melody emanating from the acoustic guitar and sitar string combination really carries one away into a reverie of magical, musical bliss, to say the least. The lyrics create vivid imagery in one’s mind, accompanied by Lennon’s amazing voice, suited perfectly to the instrumental. This track progresses perfectly into the next: ‘You Won’t See Me’, a little more melodic than ‘Drive My Car’ with a beautiful beat and chorus, yet a bit more upbeat than ‘Norwegian Wood’ – a good mix for sure.
‘Nowhere Man’ is up next, and this song is deep and powerful – it could very well have become society’s anthem! This song as about a “nowhere man, sitting in his nowhere land, making all his nowhere plans for nobody”. He doesn’t worry, he takes his time; but he always looks for a hand out, he is passive, he doesn’t know where he is or where he’s headed. Following this description, the song then asks us to analyze the possibility that, after all, “isn’t he a bit like you and me?” Really makes you think. We all waste too much time doing things we don’t know why we’re doing, since we don’t really want to be doing them! Let’s take control of our lives and let our inner light shine!
‘Nowhere Man’ properly leads us up to ‘Think For Yourself’. “Do what you want to do. And go where you’re going to. Think for yourself ‘cause I won’t be there with you.” So, we see the prescription here is to do the opposite of what Mr. Nowhere Man does; to take control, to know very clearly where we are going and what we are doing and why! This great message is delivered upon a lively guitar track with a grave and mildly aggressive tone to it – never diminishing the overall chill tone of the album, of course.
“The aim of human life is to know thyself. Think for yourself. Question authority. Think with your friends. Create, create new realities. Philosophy is a team sport. Philosophy is the ultimate, the ultimate aphrodisiac pleasure. Learning how to operate your brain, learning how to operate your mind, learning how to redesign chaos.”
~ Timothy Leary
‘The Word’ is a quirky song about the magical Word which is “LOVE.” Not my favorite song on the album, but not a bad song in any way at all. The message is marvelous: “Spread the word I’m thinking of, have you heard the word is love?” The singing of the hook has an epic tone to it and is bound to be stuck in your head for a few days. “It’s so fine, it’s sunshine! It’s the woooord, LOVE!”
“Now that I know what I feel must be right, I’m here to show everybody the light!”
~ The Bealtes, ‘The Word’
The next song, ‘Michelle’ is a dreamy love song about a French girl named Michelle, in which Paul McCartney even sings a bit of French directed at her over a dreamy melody, singing softly over an acoustic guitar and serene strings – a wonderful song to relax or reflect to. It is probably the most relaxed, romantic, soothing and calm song on this album, followed in all these aspects by ‘Girl.’ Before we reach that song however, we come to ‘What Goes On’, a song about a girl who is breaking the Beatles’ hearts, and they wonder how they can get in her brain to find out how to change her mind. This song has a catchy, jumpy, lively rhythm with a fast drum beat and cool guitar.
“Girl” comes next, a sad, almost mournful song about a girl who is worth every single second of the misery the song portrays. Not my favorite song either, and in fact it makes me a bit sleepy. However, it has a great melody and is relaxing and doesn’t interrupt the album flow. ‘I’m Looking Through You’ is a song that makes me reminisce on the past few years whenever I hear it. It focuses on people who don’t physically change much but yet change in amazing ways throughout the years. Time flies, people change, things change, and love arguably changes too – An overall amazing song.
‘In My Life’ is, without a doubt, the classic of the album. This is an emotional song about old friends and lovers. I agree with the message that they always live on in our hearts and minds and are never forgotten or truly dead or gone away. The instrumental work on this is impeccable, the melody is magical, the tone of voice and melody produces goosebumps. “In myyy life, I’ve loved them all!” If only one could show melody by extending the letters of a word (haha). This is one of the few songs which make me grateful for its very existence, making life that much better.
‘Wait’ and ‘Run For Your Life’ are both upbeat, cool songs with a lively atmosphere, both about girls who are presumably attempting to leave the singer. Either way, they are good songs and keep up the cool atmosphere of the album, melodic for sure. In between these two songs is a gem however, ‘If I Needed Someone’, a cool song with great lyrics, carefully written and set up over the instruments – with rich percussion and a melody that perfectly matches that of the band.
To conclude, I want to state that ‘Rubber Soul’ definitely paved the way for later masterpieces like ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ and ‘Revolver’, where the psychedelic, soothing sound of the sitar continued to be incorporated into their music, influenced by Bengali Indian musician Ravi Shankar. It was the first Beatles album recorded over a continuous time period, without touring times in the middle, and this may have contributed to the album’s outcome and finalized sound. According to critics, this album represented a major increase in maturity within the Beatles’ subject matter and lyrics. It was greeted with mostly positive reviews. Definitely one of the best Beatles albums in my own opinion.
~ REBEL SPIRIT ~