Monday, August 29, 2011

The Top 20 Albums You Never Thought to Buy

I thought it would be fun to take a break from my usual writing on theology and Christian living and take a few blog posts to talk about my other great passion music. Ever stumbled upon an album and wondered where this artist was your whole life? The fact of the matter is modern music promotion isn’t designed to promote the newest and hottest not the classics and greats; even less so albums that are hidden gems that don’t immediately sell well. Often great albums are overlooked by the masses because they are out of their time or just simply because they didn’t advertise well. Well no longer! Here they are (in no particular order) the top 20 albums you probably never thought to buy.

1. Unforgettable, with Love- Natalie Cole

Genre: Jazz, Big Band

Year: 1991

Label: Elektra

Now arguably this album shouldn’t make this list at all. After all an album that has sold 7 million copies hardly qualifies as an “album you never thought to buy” however I never cease to be amazed by how many people under 30 have never even heard of it. Natalie Cole released the album to pay homage to her father, jazz legend Nat King Cole. As such the casual or new jazz listener may hear many songs they know, but didn’t know were Nat King Cole standards.

The Youtube age has given the title track “Unforgetable” a great deal of staying power, and the track is deeply touching as father and daughter do the duet they never had the chance to do in life. However, listeners who only explore this title track will miss some of the best this album has to offer. Natalie does wonderful covers of “Orange Colored Sky”, “Smile”, and oft overlooked classic “Avalon”. Natalie made her career in throaty R & B but she proves she has the pipes for Jazz, with a tender handling of “Mona Lisa”.

In addition the band arrangements are perfect big band. Never simple, but not too ornate to cover the singer, these arrangements give the listener the feel that “this is what big band should sound like”. Even more so, the players do the tunes great justice, showing particular mastery on “This can’t be love”.

This album offers some hidden benefit as well. If you’re new to Jazz and big band, this album is a great primer. It offers 22 big band vocal classics with great players and arrangements, for less than the price of a pizza. And to top it off it’s all new recordings so it will be easy listening for the casual listener who has a bit of trouble listening to older jazz albums due to their recording quality. All around an album that shouldn’t have been forgotten.

… next week R&Bappella?

(c) Jamin Eben 2011