Hawkwind, “Masters of the Universe”: Great bit from the early days of psychadelic/progressive rock. I’ve got recordings of both the live and the studio versions, and I vastly prefer the studio.
Peter Gabriel, “The Family and the Fishing Net”: This is
just a magnificent piece of music. I love pretty much everything
that Gabriel has written, from his days in Genesis, to his solo work like this, to his movie soundtracks. But the “Security” album is
something special even for Gabriel, and this is one of the best tracks
on the album.
Michael McGoldrick, “The Fisherman in the Wardrobe”:
Ick. This is crap. Michael McGoldrick is an amazing Irish flute
player; he was one of the original flutists in Lunasa. But he did this album, which consists of vastly overproduced and overly up-tempo Irish music played against an electronic drumbeat. It’s just awful, and it’s a shame because if you could get rid of the electronics and the ridiculously overdone reverb, there’s some nice playing hidden in there. Still, I’ve never bought another of his albums after this.
Peter Schickele, “Listen Here, Tyrannosaurus Rex”: a silly little song which Schickele actually takes credit for in his own name. Probably because it’s not quite awful enough to be credited to PDQ Bach.
Micho Russell, “Children’s Song”: this is a great example of what traditional Irish can be. My tinwhistle/flute teacher travelled to Ireland, and spend time with a wonderful Irish whistler. The resulting recording is just Micho Russell, with no accompaniment, playing a
two dollar tin-whistle. No fancy arrangements; he plays it slowly – a reel at only about 70 beats per minute; very sparse tasteful ornamentation – and when you listen to it, you’ll understand why these tunes have lasted so long.
Kansas, “Byzantium”: Quite a contrast from the last one. This is recent work by Kansas. It’s beautiful; things like this make me glad that they got back together. It uses very middle-eastern chords and melodies, and if I’m not mistaken, some middle-eastern instrumentation. It’s really quite lovely.
Jethro Tull, “Black Satin Dancer”: Mediocre Tull tune. Nothing special. The rest of the album is great, but this isn’t a particular good song.
The Tangent, “The Winning Game”: This is seriously amazing. It’s a collaboration between Roine Stolt and Andy Tillson, along with various members of their respective bands. It’s really stunning music,
beautifully written, and performed with incredible virtuosity by all involved.
Igor Stravinsky, “Three Pieces”: Stravinsky is one of the greatest composers of the 20th century, and probably of all time. This is a very delicate, intricate chamber piece.
Stuart Duncan, “Miles to Go”: Wonderful acoustic bluegrass
fiddling. I was fortunate enough to see Steward Duncan performing live once with Edgar Meyer, Sam Bush, and Joshua Bell. Joshua Bell (one of the worlds great classical violin soloists) actually talked about what he learned about rhythmic bowing from Stuart. As is typical of the greats, he doesn’t feel any great need to constantly show off his
chops; and some of his most compelling playing is on leisurely tracks like this.