Monday, May 30, 2011

Not All Tribute Albums Suck, A Spotify Playlist

The world already has far too many tribute albums - do a search of Beatles on Spotify and you will see. Normally they go in two categories: celebrity musicians doing half-hearted covers that only proved their ability to cash-in, and obscure bands doing even more sloppy covers that only live up to their obscurity. In most cases, the covers serve no more than a reminder of the greatness of the original artist.

Not for the albums in this playlist. When done correctly, tribute albums can make the familiar sound intriguing again (dub Pink Floyd), uncover the lesser-known gems (Caroline Now features many songs from Love You - the 1977 LP, despite being Brian Wilson's favourite Beach Boys album, remains virtually unknown to causal fans), introduce unfairly underrated artists to a bigger audience (all-star tribute to Daniel Johnston),  even transfer the original artist's appeal to a totally different fanbase (Badman Recording's tribute to John Denver and Bread).

Here's the Spotify playlist: Not All Tribute Albums Suck (725 tracks, 44 albums) This playlist works better in Album view. See full album list below, I linked the albums to Amazon where you can find reviews. Sadly the Elton John tribute album Two Rooms is not on Spotify yet, Kate Bush's cover of Rocket Man and her new album proved she can improve on perfection. Note that I only included albums by various artists (because I think diversity is what makes reinterpretations interesting), so some obvious choices are not here, like Mermaid Avenue, and one of my personal favourites: Bettye Lavette's Interpretations: The British Rock Songbook. Looking forward to your recommendations.

P.S. Thanks Tristan Watson for republishing my Sopranos playlists on ShareMyPlaylists, it has been in their charts for three weeks. If anyone wants to do the same to my others playlists, please feel feel to go ahead. Playlists are made for sharing, and I have no time to republish them myself for now. It would be much appropriated if you can also add a link to my original post. Thanks.

01, Glory of Gershwin, Tribute to George Gershwin

02, September Songs, Tribute to Kurt Weil

03, Where The Pyramid Meets The Eye, Tribute to Roky Erickson

Monday, May 16, 2011

EMI Great Recordings of the Century on Spotify

"EMI's Great Recordings Of The Century series is true to its title -- 200 of the greatest recordings of the twentieth century. It is an astonishing array of artists, capturing many of the definitive versions of the greatest orchestral, opera, chamber music and vocal works, recorded in what many believe was the golden age of classical recording which brought distinguished artists together with EMI's renowned classical recording producers to create music history." - ArkivMusic

Here's the Spotify playlist: EMI: Great Recordings of the Century (201 albums, 4838 tracks) Albums are arranged alphabetically by composer names, except for the Caruso 1902-04 recording which is at the beginning, because it's by various composers, and also the oldest recording in this series. This playlist works better in Album view. Also check out EMI's official page and Amazon for discography and reviews, some of the opera librettos with English translations can be found at EMI's mini site for their Historical series.

Note: Playlists at this size are meant to be references, use the filter bar (Ctrl+F) to find an excellent recording of a composition, or works of a particular composer. Don't try play it from end to end, that would take more than one week of non-stop listening.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

EMI Great Artists of the Century on Spotify

"The mid-price series Great Artists of the Century celebrates the art and artistry of a roster of the most distinguished musicians of the 20th century and of the first decade of the 21st century.  Each release in Great Artists of the Century focuses on one eminent musician.

The CD offers a programme of important EMI recordings chosen to demonstrate the qualities and achievements of the featured artist, and major works in notable performances taken from EMI's vast and unique catalogue of great recordings.

The lavish packaging of Great Artists of the Century includes a striking cover photograph plus a facsimile of the artist's signature and new accounts of the artists' lives and assessments of their achievements by leading writers. The superb recordings have been transferred and, where appropriate, newly remastered from the original source materials (78s and tapes) by EMI's renowned team of engineers at Abbey Road Studios." - from EMI's mini site for this series.

Here's the Spotify playlist: EMI: Great Artists of the Century (603 tracks, total time: 2 days). Albums are arranged alphabetically by composer names. This playlist works better in Album view. Also check out this Amazon page for discography and reviews.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Album View Officially Supported + 138 Decca Originals

Eight months after the Album View model was discovered, it finally went official in Spotify's latest version (download here if you haven't auto-updated). Now you can see the View as Album List option in the View menu. More importantly, Spotify now saves your settings, including album view for every playlist. Now you can set a playlist in album view, adjust columns into suitable lengths (most of the time I don't need to see the Added  and User columns), and it will remain so even after restarting Spotify.

Here's a playlist to showcase this new feature: Decca: The Originals (3011 tracks, 138 albums, total time: 1 week). It collects all 138 recordings from the Decca Originals series (to quote the Decca site, they are ...Legendary Recordings from the DECCA Catalogue, critically acclaimed performances of Decca artists past and present.) in one place, arranged by (re-)release dates. Check out Decca's official page for full discography.