Well, this is liable to be a mishmash, but whatthehell. The girlfriend is gone at work and it's hotter than normal here (though it's gonna get hotter), and what else have I got to do but clutter up the Internet with my opinions? So here's another attempt to clean house and check out some new-to-me music. Ghod knows what I'll dig up....
* Camel -- Sahara. From RAJAZ. Opens as another placid, laid-back guitar instrumental like we've come to expect from Andy Latimer, but gains loudness, speed and intensity later. Maybe takes a little too long to get started. Solid, fluid, sometimes-fiery playing from Latimer, good support from the always-changing members of latter-day Camel. Nice show-offy climax.
* Camel -- The Final Encore. Now this DOES sort of sound like a camel caravan travelling across the desert ... along with lyrics using previous Camel song-titles indicating some kind of metaphor, Latimer maybe saying Goodbye To All That. Strong vocal. What does it mean?
* Gordon Lightfoot -- Canadian Railroad Trilogy. From UNITED ARTISTS COLLECTION. Ghod, I haven't heard this in years. And it sounds better than ever. Great vocal, sparkling acoustic guitar, marvelous energy, visions of clear rivers flowing, hills covered with pine forests. Great stuff!
* Gordon Lightfoot -- Pussywillows Cat-Tails. This is kinda silly. Nice cello. A little too light. Couldn't Al Stewart or Tiny Tim have pulled this off better? An old girlfriend once quoted me these lyrics -- I wonder where she heard them?
* Gordon Lightfoot -- Black Day in July. This was written about the Detroit riots in the late '60s. Bob Dylan could have done this. But he might have come up with better choruses.
* Gordon Lightfoot -- Seven Islands Suite. From SUNDOWN. I admit I'm a sucker for this -- I love Gordy when he gets Ambitious. And I love the way he sneaks in that "Shit out of luck" line. Nice strings and backing vocals, great eerie bubbly synthesizer from Nick DeCaro. ... Ah, but where's "Knotty Pine"? That must be on some other Warner Bros album -- it's sure not on the UA collection....
* Beatles -- Doctor Robert. From REVOLVER. My Ghod, do these bad Beatles songs ever END? Vaguely country 'til the psychedelic middle section. John and Paul's vocals later help a bit. At least it's over with fast.
* John Coltrane -- Impressions. From THE VERY BEST OF. Nice honking. Nice clonking on the piano by McCoy Tyner. What exactly are these impressions OF? Oh, I'm not supposed to ask? Goes totally abstract later, Ghod forbid. But great drumming from Elvin Jones. Tough to keep up with Trane....
* Miles Davis -- Yesternow. From JACK JOHNSON. Laid-back, funky, squonky moon-vacation music with lotsa honking from Miles, and there's no way I'm gonna get through 25 minutes of it....
* Jimmy Smith -- Walk on the Wild Side. From FINEST HOUR. No, not THAT "Walk on the Wild Side." Swingin' big-band jazz. Where's the organ I thought Smith played? Oh, THERE it is, a couple minutes in -- funky, bubbly, like it. Very lively. The tune could be from WEST SIDE STORY....
* Jimmy Smith -- The Sermon. Mostly very laid-back. Cool guitar from Kenny Burrell. Smith goes quite a ways out with it later on....
* Mason Williams -- Classical Gas. From MUSIC 1968-1971. This is a stripped-down remake minus the orchestration and huge production, because Warner Bros refused to let Mason put the hit version on this best-of. You can actually hear Mason's pickin', because there's nothing in the way. Quiet, modest, pretty, but not a blockbuster.
* Mason Williams -- The Smothers Brothers Theme. A little '30s soft-shoe number, very quaint.
* Mason Williams -- Baroque-a-Nova. "Classical Gas"'s alter-ego? "Classical Gas Part 2"? Actually, it's better than that, once it gets going....
* Mason Williams -- I've Heard That Tear-Stained Monologue You Do There By the Door Before You Go. Mason sings! Cute lyrics.
* Bonnie Raitt -- Angel from Montgomery. Original studio version from STREETLIGHTS. The duet version she does with John Prine on her Warner Bros best-of is better. This has nice piano, Bonnie's vocal is fine, and it builds as it goes, but it's still just a little too laid-back. The later version with Prine is heartbreakingly great.
* Seals and Crofts -- East of Ginger Trees. From SUMMER BREEZE. Nice acoustic guitars, nice vocal harmonies, pretty midsection, but it doesn't seem to go much of anywhere. Wonder why it's on their best-of?
* Seals and Crofts -- The Euphrates. This is more like it. A mellow, reflective number that builds. Nice production by Louie Shelton.
* Rush -- Stick it Out. From COUNTERPARTS. Wow, heavy! Angry, cynical lyrics. Much rougher than I expected.
* Rush -- Leave That Thing Alone. Mid-tempo guitar instrumental, nice but nothing to get excited about. Drummer Neil Peart does a little fancy tapping around. With a title like that, who needs a tune?
* Chuck Mangione -- Children of Sanchez. From the CLASSICS best-of. The live-concert version's better. But the theme's pretty haunting. That's why it's repeated a couple of times on Chuck's LIVE AT THE HOLLYWOOD BOWL. This slice isn't long enough.
* Chuck Mangione -- Hill Where the Lord Hides. Why did I ever think this was a good tune? The original (minor-hit) version's on Mercury. This is a live cut, with too much brass and strings and too much chicka-chicka early-'80s guitar. WAY-too-lite jazz. I can't finish it. And if you think I'm gonna play "Feels So Good," you're out of your friggin' mind.
* Charlie Haden and Pat Metheny -- Waltz for Ruth, Our Spanish Love Song. From BEYOND THE MISSOURI SKY. Way-delicate acoustic-guitar-and-bass numbers. "Spanish Love Song" is better, more melodic, but my mind still wanders. Wrong day for this stuff.
* Pat Metheny -- Orchestrion. From ORCHESTRION. Jazz-guitarist Pat and his wind-up-toy band. This seemed like an intriguing idea, but Pat also has his own Group, and I can't tell the difference between them and this one-man-band-thing, so.... Light, pleasant. This ain't no WICHITA FALLS, but it's livelier than MISSOURI SKY....
* Pat Metheny -- Spirit of the Air. This is more like it! Pat, you bastard! This sounds like an outtake from FIRST CIRCLE. The only thing missing is Pedro Aznar's airy, wordless vocals. After sampling every other tune on ORCHESTRION, finally this one, the last track, actually works! Or seems to. There's a sorta aimless middle section.... If you'd dropped that, this would have been almost perfect. Still pretty light, though....
* Emerson, Lake and Palmer -- Toccata (live). From the ATLANTIC YEARS best-of. Hyperactive, noisy, completely over-the-top. Is this music? Ah hell, why not? Whooping, screaming synthesizers, pounding percussion, good cheap thrills.
* Emerson, Lake and Palmer -- Pictures at an Exhibition: Promenade/The Hut of Baba Yaga/The Curse of Baba Yaga/The Great Gates of Kiev/The End. Speaking of noise.... Nice synthesizer on "Hut." Then it goes all sour on "Curse." But Keith Emerson is just STARTING to show off. Nice strong keyboards, pounding drums, too bad Greg Lake's vocals get in the way. Can't understand a word he's shouting. Nice sour keyboards follow. But it all explodes on "Great Gates of Kiev," when Emerson rips his keyboard apart to the delight of the fans -- in perfect digital sound. That's what I'd been waiting for. The rest is pretty-much mush.
* Miles Davis -- Saeta. From SKETCHES OF SPAIN. Rather martial-sounding horn fanfare. Then Miles's lonely, isolated trumpet. With an underlying murmur of tension. Ominous mood music.
* Miles Davis -- Solea. More of the same. Mysterious, ominous -- but good-quality soundtrack-style orchestral music with Miles riding on the surface. Depicting Spain at the time of the Spanish Civil War, perhaps?