Written By Braddon S. Williams

Stevie Wonder: Innervisions

Stevie Wonder was at the height of his creative powers when he created Innervisions (1973).

Innervisions was written, produced, and arranged by Stevie, and he played all the instruments on 7 of the 9 songs.

For me, the two songs that really grabbed my attention (then and now) were Living For The City and Higher Ground.

These songs were funky, hard hitting, and lyrically mesmerizing pieces of Stevie Wonder’s genius.

The rest of the album is great, too…lots of diversity in style and lyrical content throughout, but those two songs are always the ones I go back and explore.

https://youtu.be/we33iVN8LKM

Influences And Recollections of a Musical Mind

Written By Braddon S. Williams

Steely Dan: Aja

Music at its best can act as a time machine, transporting us to special moments and places in our past history. Music can link us to places, people and events with a vivid mix of nostalgia and reality.

Steely Dan’s Aja (1977) always delivers me to gatherings that one of my best friends in the world would have back in our high school years.

My friend (brother) would invariably choose music from “The Dan” (particularly Aja) as the soundtrack to his parties, and Aja was perfection for this purpose.

It is almost as if the music that Donald Fagan and Walter Becker created together simply demanded a civilized and elegant gathering of kindred spirits.

Class, elegance, beauty, and a pervasive cool permeated this entire album: every note was in the proper place, and every song was an instant classic.

All these years later, Aja, and indeed Steely Dan’s entire catalog, retains an aura of excellence. I’m not even going to single out any of the 7 glorious songs on this album.

It is a work that demands to be taken in as an entire unit, and whether on vinyl, cassette, compact disc, or streamed, Aja remains a modern masterpiece…a seamless blend of pop, rock, jazz, smooth soul, and dedication to a superior vision.

Aja is timeless, and it is a time machine that always takes me to lovely destinations.

Influences And Recollections of a Musical Mind

Written By Braddon S. Williams

Jeff Buckley: Grace

Jeff Buckley only made one album, Grace (1994), but what a record it was!

Initially it wasn’t a hit, but eventually Grace sold over 2 million copies.

Apparently I wasn’t the only one late to the party.

While the songs and the music are admittedly superb, the thing about Grace that is truly magical is Buckley’s voice.

He definitely had superhuman pipes, a voice for the ages. Perhaps his untimely death has enhanced that perception, but one only has to listen to songs like Hallelujah, Mojo Pin, Corpus Christi Carol, Lilac Wine, Last Goodbye, Grace, and Lover You Should’ve Come Over to experience that unearthly tone and wistful mystery that Buckley conjured throughout the album. Artists like Bob Dylan, David Bowie, Robert Plant, and Jimmy Page all held him in high regard, and that sounds like some pretty reliable praise.

https://youtu.be/A3adFWKE9JE

Influences And Recollections of a Musical Mind

Written By Braddon S. Williams

James Brown: live at The Apollo

James Brown was rightfully known by the monikers “The Godfather Of Soul” and “The Hardest Working Man In Show Business.”

Brown released Live At The Apollo in 1963 and financed its recording the previous year with his own money.

His record company opposed its release at the time, but Brown believed in it and fought for it becoming a reality.

Brown’s instincts proved equal to his talent, as Live At The Apollo has attained legendary status over the years. It ranked 24th in a 2012 Rolling Stone list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.

It has been added to the National Recording Registry in the Library Of Congress.

In 1998 it was inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame.

Basically, what Live At The Apollo represents is a time capsule of when James Brown and his vocal backing group The Famous Flames, were an untouchable live act.

Of course, the band was insanely tight and the entire unit just drove audiences wild.

The whole album is only a half hour, but stands as a textbook example of how to play molten hot R & B and soul music at its absolute finest.

Hail James Brown!

https://youtu.be/ZF_rZrH4yBY

Influences And Recollections of a Musical Mind