#KickingtheCanon by Josh Hurst Music

Prince and the Revolution | Purple Rain

June 5, 2015

Purple Rain begins with a funeral, but not with mourning: It’s a celebration — a gateway into new life and a new world, where “you can always see the sun.” It’s a repudiation of evil and of finality, in the form of wild abandon. It ends with a baptism; leading up it it are love songs so selfless and devoted that they take on a messianic resonance. The singer makes his Christological posture clearest in a song called “I Would Die 4 U,”…

Continue Reading

#KickingtheCanon by Josh Hurst Music

Bob Dylan | The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan

May 29, 2015

Though the cumulative impact of The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan is considerable, and its achievement is towering, it remains a strangely difficult record to discuss by way of synopsis or generalization; there’s simply no way to avoid digging into specific virtues of its songs, because the songs represent the sum total of what this album is.…

Continue Reading

#KickingtheCanon by Josh Hurst Music

Bob Dylan | Blonde on Blonde

May 15, 2015
Bob Dylan
Various - 1966

The boozy, bloozy, cacophonous conclusion to Bob Dylan’s mid-60s “electric” trilogy, Blonde on Blonde feels every bit the culmination of…something. A wild fever dream of an album, owing as much to Fellini and T.S. Eliot as to Woody and Leadbelly, it’s the sound of Dylan’s imagination pushed to the edge, perhaps even to a breaking point. The record…

Continue Reading

#KickingtheCanon by Zach Lewis Music

Miles Davis | In A Silent Way

May 8, 2015
Miles Davis

Though lauded today for lending traction in the then up-and-coming genre of jazz fusion, In a Silent Way was received as heresy on its release. Miles Davis’s most recent album, Filles de Kilimanjaro, had been recognized by jazz critics as a tour-de-force for its abstract, bluesy riffs and staunch refusal to make any rhythm danceable. But imagine…

Continue Reading

#KickingtheCanon by Jason Gubbels Music

Magic Sam | West Side Soul

May 1, 2015
Magic Sam

Samuel Gene Maghett entered Cobra’s recording studios in 1957 as “Good Rocking Sam,” and luckily for all of us, some other Samuel was already laying claim to the clunky sobriquet. Maybe it really was Sam’s old friend and bass player Mack Thompson who suggested swapping Maghett out for Magic, or maybe label talent scout Willie Dixon had the bright idea. Whatever the circumstances, the recent Mississippian transplant re-dubbed Magic Sam dropped a bomb on Chicago’s West Side, the…

Continue Reading

#KickingtheCanon by Ryan Sims Music

Rage Against the Machine | Rage Against the Machine

April 17, 2015

In late 1992, a newly formed Rage Against the Machine released their self-titled debut. In doing so, they created something that was considered unmarked territory up to that point: They successfully merged the polar opposite sound of hard-rock and metal with the style and lyrical delivery of hip-hop — on a full length LP (nearly a decade before the subgenre known as nu-metal — or rap-metal — was born.) When listening to this album the first word that comes to mind is rebellion. …

Continue Reading

#KickingtheCanon by Vadim Rizov Music

Elliot Smith | XO

April 10, 2015

Pretty much all songs on all of Elliott Smith’s released recordings are immaculate on both the structural and engineering fronts, which doesn’t make them any less occasionally uncomfortable to listen to. At the moment of its release and after, XO was presumably forcing fans to choose an arbitrary binary preference. Option one: Smith was perfect only as a lo-fi songwriter, singing into a four-track in an attic at night softly enough to not wake anyone, and therefore XO was a little too polished…

Continue Reading

#KickingtheCanon by Odie Henderson Music

Prince and the Revolution | Parade

April 2, 2015

Beginning with its titular event and ending with a funeral, Prince’s Parade is obsessed with love, sex and death. If that weren’t enough baggage, Parade also serves as the soundtrack to the 1986 film Under the Cherry Moon. Prince’s Paris-set follow-up to Purple Rain tells the life and death story of Prince’s gigolo character, Christopher Tracy, who gets name-checked in Parade’s opening tune, “Christopher Tracy’s Parade.” The album bookends this life-affirming ditty with the mournful, metaphoric “Sometimes It Snows in April,” which eulogizes Tracy by informing of his greatness.…

Continue Reading

#KickingtheCanon by Jonathan Keefe Music

Dixie Chicks | Wide Open Spaces

March 27, 2015

Wide Open Spaces can be counted more as a reboot than as a debut. Sisters Martie Seidel and Emily Robison had originated the Dixie Chicks with vocalist Laura Lynch as a cowgirl-themed act who played bluegrass and Western swing on a series of independent albums during the early 90s. But for their move to a major label, the Chicks parted ways with Lynch and brought in powerhouse frontwoman Natalie Maines, whose pop and rock influences lent a strong commercial slant to the trio’s…

Continue Reading

#KickingtheCanon by Josh Hurst Music

Bob Dylan | Bob Dylan

March 20, 2015
dylan 1962

The debut album from America’s greatest songwriter contains a scant two originals alongside 11 covers, ensuring that it will always be somewhat overlooked or written off as a curiosity, in some circles perhaps regarded with the same vague condescension that one might regard Michael Jordan’s baseball career. The thing of it is, Bob Dylan …

Continue Reading

#KickingtheCanon by Jason Gubbels Music

Cecil Taylor | Cecil Taylor Unit

March 13, 2015
Cecil Taylor, Moers Jazz Festival, maggio ; ;1978, Cecil Taylor sextet
Fotogramma selezionato per MUSICHE (Lelli e Masotti)

In a career marked by artistic triumphs, one might just as easily track Cecil Taylor’s long journey by highlighting his periods of exile. He was still scrubbing dishes in a food joint even while Down Beat gushed over his performances. The Five Spot Cafe kicked him to the curb after drink receipts for his six-week engagement failed to break even. An early 1970s academic gig teaching music at the University of Wisconsin ended in disarray when he flunked over half of his barely-attendant…

Continue Reading

#KickingtheCanon by Ryo Miyauchi Music

EPMD | Strictly Business

March 6, 2015

Erick Sermon and Parrish Smith nicked expensive names to big up their first effort as EPMD on debut Strictly Business. That was just how it was done back in 1988, a much-touted golden age; the scene resembled the wild West when it came to label-funded creative freedom. Still three years away from the game-changing court case that determined…

Continue Reading