In that spirit, here are the five marvelous disks currently in the CD changer at Kiko’s House. All are recently released or still in print and some are available on the cheap (which is to say used) at bargain prices from the usual online retail suspects like Amazon.
(Meanwhile, drop us a line and let us know what you're listening to.)
Burning Spear Live in Paris
There is a reason why three of the five albums on this list are live recordings. To my ears, few musicians can match in the studio what they do on stage before a live audience. Burning Spear, led by Winston Rodney (above), is a venerable reggae band that breaks the mold by its hard jamming -- at the Zenith Theater in Gay Paree in 1988 on this disk.Heavy Ornamentals (The Gourds)
I’m a sucker for mandolin, accordion and fiddle. Put them all together in a jam band with Tex-Mex pretensions and I’m a goner. The loopy “Hooky Junk” is the pick of this new album, but there’s not a weak cut on it.Hymns to the Silence (Van Morrison)
To call Van Morrison’s career extraordinary is to understate his greatness as a singer-songwriter. This 1991 double disk set ranges from the devotional to hard rocking with a fair amount of Van the Man stream of consciousness thrown in for good measure, and he’s backed by the Chieftans on two cuts.One From the Vault (Grateful Dead)
I have hundreds of hours of live Dead recordings, most of them band-sanctioned “bootlegs.” (Yes, I'm one of those people.) This two disk recording of an August 1975 show where the band debuted the music from “Blues for Allah” for a convention of record executives is my all-time fave. Highlights include the “Help on the Way > Slipknot > Franklin’s Tower” medley and jazzy “Eyes of the World.”Thelonious Monk Quartet With John Coltrane
Live at Carnegie Hall
The Kiko’s House Album of the Year has been in the CD changer for several months now and gets more incredible with each subsequent listen. Monk pushes Trane to new heights in this exquisite 1957 recording. The rest, as they say, was history.