Lauryn Hill: The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill

Hi there Collectivists. Collectivi? Collectovers? What’s up! This is Scott G from The Sonic Collective announcing our pick for July, 2020. This one was really hard for me. We’ve had a rap/hip hop theme going this round, and the guys have picked some amazing and diverse albums. I wanted to bring something equally interesting and diverse to the group but what?

There’s a period of time called “The Golden Age of Hip Hop” that spans from the mid 80s to the mid 90s. Our previous picks, including Afrika Bambataa, A Tribe Called Quest, The Beastie Boys, Public Enemy and Dr. Dre all come from this period of time. I was about 21 coming out of that stretch of time, and I’m sure it had a deeply formative effect on my musical tastes and maybe even my world view.

So I knew I wanted to pick something just out of this pocket, preferably a female artist or group, and something more on the funky or soul side of the rap/hip hop spectrum. I also lean towards artists whose singles I’ve enjoyed, but have never gone much deeper on them.

My choice came to me when I was watching a show about the stand-up comedian Dave Chapelle. One of the things I admire about him was his willingness to walk away from fame and fortune to maintain his personal and creative integrity. The world was ready to anoint him a king if he played ball, and he said, “see ya!”

There’s another artist who was presented a crown that upped and walked away. She had acclaimed roles in multiple movies, multi-million unit selling albums, grammys, and a world ready to throw all the dollars at her. Lauryn Hill said no.

But before she said no. Before all the fallout from the disbanding of the Fugees and stresses of stardom led her to leave the public eye, Lauryn dropped one of the greatest rap albums of all time on us.

The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, her one and only studio album came out in 1998 to rave reviews. They equally compliment her beautiful singing voice, excellent rapping and deep and honest lyrics.

Until now I’d never listened to anything other than the singles from the album. With this pick, we get one of the queens of rap and neo-soul into the mix with what some consider one of the top-ten overall albums of the 90s. I think that could be an accurate assessment if the rest of the album lives up to the singles.

So join us this month as we enjoy Lauryn’s infusion of rap, hip hop and neo-soul, inspiring a generation of rappers and women in general, as she lays her story on us at the Sonic Collective’s July pick: 1998’s The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill and be sure to check in with us at the end of the month to hear the crew’s thoughts and to share yours with us as well. See you then.

Links

Apple music

Spotify

Wikipedia  

Other albums considered:

Illmatic – Nas

The Score – Fugees

CrazySexyCool – TLC

Jeff Buckley: Grace

 

Scott Gregory, March 2020

Hello everyone and welcome back to The Sonic Collective. I’m Scott G and it’s my pleasure to bring you the pick for March, 2020.

I don’t know why it’s taken me this long to make this selection. Maybe it’s because the Album never really saw the staggering commercial success many of our other picks did in North America. Maybe it’s the fact the artist only completed one studio album before his untimely death in 1997.

Jeff Buckley’s 1994 album Grace had a lasting impact on some of the greatest rock artists of all time. Jimmy Page is quoted as saying it was one of his favourite albums of the decade, and other artists such as Robert Plant, Chris Cornel, Bob Dylan and David Bowie also spoke highly of Buckley and the album. Rolling Stone listed it at number 303 of their 500 Greatest Albums of all Time.

Buckley is an incredibly gifted guitarist and vocalist, and his eclectic taste in music led to a rich variety of influences that trace shadows across the entire album. His cover of Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen has since gone up the charts several times, and is an absolutely haunting hour of music.

It’s one of my favourite albums of all time, and I’m overdue sharing this love with you. I wonder, how many of the guys didn’t discover Jeff until after he was already gone, or maybe they still haven’t really ever checked him out? We’ll see. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do, and I look forward to you joining us at the end of the month when The Sonic Collective comes back together and shares our thoughts on March 2020’s pick: Jeff Buckley’s 1994 album Grace.

Spotify

Apple Music 

Wikipedia

Def Leppard: Hysteria

def leppard band photo

Scott Gregory, November 2019

Love is like a bomb, baby, c’mon get it on

Livin’ like a lover with a radar phone

Lookin’ like a tramp, like a video vamp

Demolition woman, can I be your man?

 

Despite similar hairstyles in the 80s, Def Leppard and Celine Dion are worlds apart when it comes to love ballads, but if you caught from last month’s review I already had hair metal on the mind, this pick might not be as big a surprise for you.

 

Not only did Def Leppard help form the vanguard of the 80s British heavy metal scene, they were at ground zero for the creation of the MTV generation. It’s hard to imagine anyone who hit their teens back then not running into these guys on TV or radio weekly if not daily.  And if you worked in a mall with piped-in music, god help you.

 

I was tempted to go with Pyromania from 1983, but so much happened to the band between then and when their next album, Hysteria, released in 1987. I eventually went with Hysteria because it’s really the first album with their crystalized sound, and seemed to excite and piss off fans in equal parts. It introduces the new electronic elements needed to accommodate drummer Rick Allen losing his arm in a car crash, and Mutt Lange really went all out in the production of a locked down, masterfully crafted album.

 

They say the intention was to create a similar to Michael Jackson’s Thriller, where every song could be a single, and the fact seven of the twelve tracks actually did chart shows how successful they were in this goal. Rolling stone ranks the album in their top 500 of all time, and the top hair metal album of all time.

 

So step inside, walk this way, you and me babe, hey hey. Join the Sonic Collective this November in head banging to Def Leppard’s 1987 album Hysteria. Rock on dudes and dudettes.

 

Def Leppard, Hysteria

Spotify

Apple Music 

Wikipedia

Def Leppard doing a perfect cover of Depeche Mode’s Personal Jesus

Florence + the Machine: Lungs


Florence + the Machine: Lungs
Scott Gregory, May 2019

Hello all you Sonic Collectivists and welcome to our pick for May, 2019. I’m Scott G, and I clearly remember the very first time I heard this month’s artist. In 2010, Florence and the Machine appeared as the musical guest on Saturday Night Live, singing Dog Days Are Over and You Got the Love, and I was like “OH.MY.GOD. Who is this woman?” One of the biggest compliments I think I can give a musician is “I’ve never heard anything like this before” and that was certainly the case here.

The songs she sang were off the groups recently released album “Lungs” and after a couple plays, I settled into the habit of pulling the singles out and adding them to my play lists and not really thinking of the album as a whole. Well, the time’s come to do what the collective does best and dig in and experience the album as a whole. Reading up, it sounded like Florence had a very long, very winding road to land to the sound she landed on for this debut album. I’m going to be watching for whether this represents a culmination of those effort, or does she sound like she’s still exploring even within the bounds of the album.

Some picks really polarize the group, and I’m very curious how this will go with them and you. Does that “wow” factor hold up now that there’s been a decade of listening to her and imitators work in this space, or are these albums’ dog days over and it’s all old hat. Check back with us at the end of the month to see what the group thinks “Lungs” by Florence and the Machine, and be sure to share your thoughts with us as well. This has been Scott G on behalf of the Sonic Collective, see you then.

Lungs on Spotify
Lungs on Apple Music
Lungs Wikipedia page
Florence and the Machine website

ABBA: Arrival


ABBA: Arrival
Scott Gregory, January 2019
Hello everyone and welcome to The Sonic Collective. Scott G here with our pick for January, 2019. We’ve been playing around the last couple months with some really fun ways to pick albums, but I’m going to sneak back to the single album format for a second to correct a grevious oversight on our part.
We’ve completely neglected a band that cranked out Eight albums in nine years, all of them went platinum and you can still here them playing n the radio everywhere, all the time.
Afer they won Eurovision in 1973 with their song Waterloo, I wonder if Benny, Bjorn, Frida, and Agnetha knew how quickly things were going to change for them. By the time they got to their fourth studio album in 1976, aptly named Arrival, they were launching into worldwide megastardom, and ABBA would changethe face of music forever.
I thought this was a great album for us to dissect pricesely because it’s the bridge between their early work and the height of their succcess, and it also includes a healthy number of their most recognizable songs, but an equal number of tracks we’ve likely never heard before to chew on. I’m going to listen to the 1977 release that included Fernando because I really enjoy that song, but you can go with the 1976 release that didn’t if you’re sick of it.
ABBA’s always been celebrated for their harmonizing and technical brilliance in song composition. I’m really curious to see if that’s mostly just a judgment of their singles, or if even the B-sides show the same level of care and attention. I’ll probably even watch the videos for some excellent 70s fashion and dance moves.
So, I invite you all to join us in enjoying The Sonic Collective’s first pick for 2019: Arrival by ABBA.
Links
Wikipedia – ABBA
Wikipedia – ABBA  Arrival Album
iTunes – ABBA, Arrival 
Spotify – ABBA, Arival

Blink-182: The Mark, Tom and Travis Show


Blink-182: The Mark, Tom and Travis Show
Scott Gregory, September 2018
Hello everyone I’m Scott G and welcome to The Sonic Collective’s pick for September 2018. As you know, we’re in the middle of a round of live albums. We’ve had some New Wave with the Talking Heads, some Southern Bluesy Rock with the Alman Brothers and some acoustic Blues from across the pond from Eric Clapton unplugged.
This month, I wanted to find a seam in the picks and go in a completely different direction. We’re going to fast forward to the 2000s, we’re going to get loud, and we’re going to get a little crazy.
Blink-182 is well-known for putting on electrifying live shows full of crazy banter with the audience in between songs played way faster than on the studio albums. In 2000, between hit records Enema of the State and Take Off your Pants and Jacket, Mark, Tom and Travis recorded a show over two nights and aptly called it “The Mark, Tom and Travis Show”.
Looking at the track list, I think what I’ll enjoy most is everyone getting a deeper look at the band. Much Music (MTV for Canadians basically) only played the videos for their singles, and the band got a bit of a bum rap as some sort of prank group. It got them a lot of publicity so I’m sure they played it up a bit, but no joke, this is a band with tight lyrics and playing. This album isn’t just a greatest hits, so you’re going to get a deep look at their full playlist.
HISTORY WILL EXONERATE BLINK-182 as the greatest punk pop band of the 2000s. I’m staring right at you Green Day.
So yeah. The show’s supposed to capture lot of the live banter between Mark Tom and Travis and a crazy audience coming in loudly over the vocals, so I’m really looking forward to a great audio recording of a frenetic live rock show.
Without further ado, I’d like to once again invite you to join us here at the Sonic Collective for our September pick: The Mark, Tom and Travis Show by Blink 182, and check in at the end of the month to see how your thoughts match up with ours. Cheers.
Album on Wikipedia
The Mark Tom & Travis Show on Youtube

Best Blink-182 Video

Sad Clown covering the same song:

Ashley McIsaac: Hi™ How Are You Today?


Ashley McIsaac: Hi™ How Are You Today?
Scott Gregory
This is Scott G from the Sonic collective with our May 2018 pick.
Hi, how are you today?
No, really. That’s the pick. Hi How Are You Today by Ashley McIsaac.
Canada seems to have a couple musical hot spots, Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto and every 5 or so years there seems to be a massive eruption of talent that comes out of the East coast, frequently with an Irish or Celtic root that gets fused into the current musical trend.
Ashley’s a fiddler from Nova Scotia that exploded onto the Canadian scene in 1996 with his most-critically acclaimed and commercially successful album, “Hi How are you Today”.
I remember the main single Sleepy Maggie, was on the radio like every single hour. You may not know this, but Canada has laws requiring a minimum amount of Canadian content to be played on the radio, so when someone like Ashley or, god help us, Nickelback comes along they really play the snot out of them.
The album went double platinum and enjoyed some moderate success in the United States and abroad.
Historically, I’ve stuck pretty high up on the various lists of top-500 albums, but I thought it would be a great pick to explore a musical theme that comes forward frequently in Canada, and Ashley’s one of those musical oddballs that translates a pretty wild personal life into a uniquely crafted musical experience.
I didn’t know this, but apparently he plays his fiddle left-handed, but keeps it strung right-handed, which contributes to his unique sound. Thanks for that, wikipedia!
Other albums that were dominating the public conscience that year were the previously-reviewed Jagged Little Pill by Alanis, What’s the Story Morning Glory by Oasis, and Tragic Kingdom by No Doubt. Keep that in mind as you try to figure just how this album managed to carve out its own place in 1996.
Break out your kilts, gather everyone in the kitchen for a listening party and join Darren, Alain, Scott and I at the Sonic collective in (hopefully) enjoying this month’s pick, Ashley MacIsaac’s “Hi, How are you today.” Cheers.
Ashley MacIsaac on Wikipedia
Itunes
Spotify
 
 

Prince: Purple Rain


Prince – Purple Rain
Scott Gregory
We only have a couple rules here at the Sonic Collective on how we pick albums;

  • it has to be at least 5 years old
  • it can be of any genre (I guess that’s more of an affirmation than a rule)
  • Has to be an original album (no greatest hits, soundtracks or compilations)

BUT – It can be a soundtrack if it’s entirely original material, composed and compiled for this purpose.
I’m glad we made this caveat, because there’s an album that’s considered one of the greatest of all time, usually ranked first or second behind Michael Jackson’s Thriller for best album of the 80s. It’s a soundtrack to an album of the same name.
The Sonic Collective’s album for January 2018 is Purple Rain by Prince and the Revolution.
The sixth studio album and the first to feature The Revolution, it’s sold over 25 million albums worldwide and is the third best-selling soundtrack behind Whitney Houston’s the Bodyguard and The Bee Gee’s Saturday Night fever.
But, let’s take a moment and reflect on the fact that Meatloaf’s Bat out of Hell, has outsold all three of them. That’s RIGHT. Greg, I miss you.
I’ve put together a little gameplan for this pick to try and really get the most out of this album.
I’ve heard all of Prince’s singles, but never listened to a full album. Apparently this is a real departure from his earlier work, so I think I’m going to start off by listening to the first five Prince albums for context before getting into this album.
After listening to the album a couple times I think I’ll go and watch the movie again. It’s been easily a decade so I can’t even remember most of it, but it’ll be fun to see where the album matches up with the scenes and themes in the movie.
Whether you go all the down the rabbit hole or just want to give the album a couple listens, I hope you join us at the end of January to discuss Prince and the Revolution’s Purple Rain. Cheers.
Purple Rain the album on Wikipedia
Purple Rain the movie on IMDB

Review of CCR: Pendulum

Please read Scott Gregory’s pick for CCR:
Pendulum
 before reading and listening to our reviews below.

Quick Summary: 

  • Would we recommend?
  • Influence us and our tastes?
  • Worth the hype?
3.8

Review of CCR: Pendulum

We had some fantastic conversation around this album as usual. A band like CCR deserves so much respect for what they were and what they did for rock music in the late 60s. The band is famous for breaking apart and John Fogarty holding a grudge against the other 3 members, including his brother Tom Fogarty, Stu Cook and Doug Clifford. Listen to what we thought of this album and learn about the history of CCR.
The Sonic Collective


Our Individual Review Scores
Scott Gregory:
Overall opinion: 4
Would I recommend?: 4
Influenced my tastes: 4
Worth the hype? 4
Alain DuPuis:
Overall opinion: 3
Would I recommend?: 3
Influenced my tastes: 2
Worth the hype? 3
Scott Coates:
Overall opinion: 4
Would I recommend?:4
Influenced my tastes: 4
Worth the hype?: 4
Darren Scott:
Overall opinion: 4
Would I recommend?: 5
Influenced my tastes: 4
Worth the hype? 4

Creedence Clearwater Revival: Pendulum


It’s been a while since we rocked out together, and I think George Thorogood was the closest we got to Swampy. Creedence Clearwater Revival – Pendulum takes us back to the start of the seventies to enjoy one of the Woodstock headliners right before everything came apart.
Their sixth studio album, it was the last one before John Fogerty left the band to pursue a solo career, and the band didn’t last much longer after that. Part blues, part country, Pendulum sticks to the swamp rock roots of the band and stands out as one of their most musically-diverse albums.
Links
Pendulum on Spotify
Rolling Stone review (screw you, Jon Landau)