March 25: The Avalanches, The Band, ‘A Hard Day’s Night’, The Butthole Surfers, Count Basie

The Avalanches, ‘Since I Left You’.

This came out in my lifetime but I didn’t know anyone local who owned it, so this is my first listen. Its standout tracks are the singles ‘Frontier Psychiatrist’ and ‘Since I Left You’ but, like a lot of dance music of its time, this is high on sounds and samples but low on melody and hook. A good party album.

The Band, ‘Music From Big Pink’.

The first album in this project I’ve hated, from the amateur Dylan painting that adorns the cover to the narcotic pace of most of the tracks. This slow-motion country-rock sounds infinitely more fun to have recorded than to listen to; the arrangements and melodies are tedious white male stuff. Atypically, the album wakes up with its penultimate track, ‘This Wheel’s On Fire’.

The Beatles, ‘A Hard Day’s Night’.

Opening with the finest chord in rock history, the rest of the album doesn’t quite live up to the standard. If you like the Beatlemania stuff then this is a fine example of it, though, and it’s the first Beatles album to be wholly original material.

The Butthole Surfers, ‘Locust Abortion Technician’.

SATAN! SATAN! SATAN! SATAN! I think I had heard this album already c/o Funk Cutter from Anarchistwood. It’s at its best when there are melodies – ‘Human Cannonball’ is the stand-out – but the variety and grittiness of this record means it’s never dull.

Count Basie, ‘The Atomic Mr Basie’.

This sort of music is difficult to judge objectively, as my only real exposure to it came from its use in cartoons from the 40s-60s. Basie’s ‘splanky’ piano and the frenetic brass must have been thrilling at the time.