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Musical Benchmarks

PostPosted: Mon Apr 20, 2015 7:56 pm
by Adam Blake
I was thinking about this recently and wondering whether any kind of objectivity was possible in this area, or whether it's just a matter of taste.

For example, to me this is an absolute benchmark of doom. It just doesn't get any more doomladen than this, but then again, on another level, some people might find it quite funny. I could certainly see how that would be possible:

This is a benchmark of contemplative meditation in music. I really do think this is as deep as it gets - the only way it could get any deeper is if it went on longer - but again, that's just my opinion.

This is the toughest music ever made. The very sound of enslaved African-Americans building America with their bare hands. Or is it just a prison work song?

I could go on, but I think you get the gist. What do you guys think?

Re: Musical Benchmarks

PostPosted: Tue Apr 21, 2015 4:01 pm
by will vine
This'll take some thinking about Adam. A good five pipe poser I'd say...and even then.....I may be back. I may not.

Re: Musical Benchmarks

PostPosted: Tue Apr 21, 2015 4:30 pm
by Adam Blake
Well at least you responded, Will. Thanks.

Re: Musical Benchmarks

PostPosted: Tue Apr 21, 2015 5:54 pm
by Garth Cartwright
This is the kind of philosophical discussion best held around a record player with a few ales - or bottle of red wine - to help things flow. Your examples are all excellent, Adam, so I've not got much to add there. Beyond that we all tend to think our tastes in music reflect certain high points in creativity (or, as with the chain gang, documents of human suffering/ endurance etc).But how to be objective... hmmm, that is tough! I'm listening to King Oliver right now - has Western music ever got better than this??? Well, someone who dislikes jazz would surely dismiss it as "corny" or some such. And whenever I put on 6 Music or Robert Elms they seem to be playing a Bowie track. I can't stand DB but many people seem to think of him as the UK's foremost musical genius. One man's meat is another's ... So being objective is difficult.

Re: Musical Benchmarks

PostPosted: Tue Apr 21, 2015 8:54 pm
by Kari Salonen
I agree with the gentlemen above - surely a place for some "have you heard this one" session. And I found your examples excellent too, Adam - with the possible suggestion that for me Nico's own "Janitor of Lunacy" would surpass even her "The End" version as the ultimate of doom...

One absolute benchmark instantly popped up in my head: my ultimate epitome of laidback will ever be Rico's Over The Mountain from the "Man From Wareika" album:

Well, the entire album is the ultimate epitome of laidback, but that one track in particular.

Would I be right to assume that these selections tend to be ones that have stayed with us for a number of years? As I'm not a musician, I tend to take everything instinct first and trust my psychophysical reactions. I was a teenager when I found that Rico album, and it was a "I'm home" kind of a revelation. The years have taken anything away from it.

Another one then? The most fluid 10 minutes of music I have ever heard, like fish in a stream. A work of art or just a job well done at the Franco TPOK assembly line?

Re: Musical Benchmarks

PostPosted: Tue Apr 21, 2015 11:22 pm
by Adam Blake
Cheers, guys - and thanks for those gorgeous examples, Kari. It becomes clear that it is really just a matter of taste and as we are all seasoned music lovers here, we tend to have pretty good taste. But someone else might think that Led Zeppelin's "Stairway To Heaven" was the epitome of beauty in music - and to them it WOULD be.

Like your Franco choice - I would have chosen the last two minutes of "Attention Na Sida" as the ultimate perfection in this style.

And Garth - King Oliver? I love it, but not as much as Louis's Hot 5s and Hot 7s.

One more then, and I'm done. This is the one I used to try and convince Rupert Sheldrake that telepathy exists in music (something every improvising musician knows as fact but can't prove). I'm sure you all know it, but it is a thing of absolute mystery and wonder:

Re: Musical Benchmarks

PostPosted: Wed Apr 22, 2015 7:52 am
by NormanD
I've not added anything (yet?) as I can't think of any special benchmarks, or ones that mean more than just signifiers of my own particular taste. I know it's not just another best-of list you're after, Adam, or types of music, or genres.

OK, one's just popped into my head, which I've not heard in a long while. I'll put it under "soul", though more spirit than the type of music that's split into deep, Northern, etc, and usually vocal.

Re: Musical Benchmarks

PostPosted: Wed Apr 22, 2015 9:43 am
by Adam Blake
Haha! There was a time in my life when I listened to that absolutely obsessively. But even then, if I'm going there, I tend to go with this one:

It is just taste, really, isn't it?

Re: Musical Benchmarks

PostPosted: Wed Apr 22, 2015 11:50 pm
by Rob Hall
I always liked this one:

Sorry not to have responded earlier to your post Adam. I did write a response, then I binned it.

Re: Musical Benchmarks

PostPosted: Thu Apr 23, 2015 8:29 am
by Chris P
introduced via Taj Mahal's version, then heard this later:

short solo version:

group backing vocal with more lyrics:

filmmaker's use of:

Re: Musical Benchmarks

PostPosted: Sun Apr 26, 2015 9:12 pm
by will vine
There are some things which to me sound SO RIGHT, that feel like no argument can put up against them. They not only go right to my inner core, but seem to have a mathematical correctness. Correct meters, correct intervals, correct dynamics.
Elmore James dusting his blues, Chuck Berry rolling over. I couldn't live without them.

Objectivity? I think I maybe find it in the blues...I don't know.

And this comes to mind -