1,000 Recordings To Hear Before You Die . . .
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On February 24, 2013, my girls and I visited a charity Book Fair in Brooklyn, NY. Amid the tens of thousands of books – a number of which we purchased – I noticed Tom Moon’s 1,000 Recordings To Hear Before You Die.

I was immediately struck by the scale of the thing, quickly followed by the recordings themselves – titles and artists I recognized and loved, a few I hated, many I have always wanted to hear, and even more I’d never heard of, spanning seemingly every genre.

For $2, that I would pick up the book was a given. What was less obvious was how excited I was as we took the two-stop subway ride home. I wanted to hear all 1,000 recordings. I wanted to explore them and enjoy them and discuss them. I wanted to blog about them.

A new musical experience - in alphabetical order - every Friday for the next 20 years . . .

I hope you'll join me on my journey: Follow, Share and Comment.

Welcome to my blog.
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1. Board Game: Sweden Fights On [Average Rating:7.72 Overall Rank:2924]
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[1] ABBA - Gold

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When I found 1,000 Recordings To Hear Before You Die, I was dreaming of nights rediscovering Steve Reich and Phillip Glass, of afternoons finally polishing up my education in jazz and blues of all flavors, and of mornings listening to old favorites with new ears.

None of which applies to ABBA.


Owned before blogging? No. (0 of 1. 0%)
Heard before blogging? Yes. (1 of 1. 100%)
Recommend? A surprised Yes. (1 of 1. 100%)
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2. Board Game: Agricola: Farmers of the Moor [Average Rating:8.11 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.11 Unranked]
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[2] Dimi Mint Abba & Khalifa Ould Eide – Moorish Music from Mauritania

Quote:
Without a background in African music (beyond what Paul Simon shared on Graceland) I am searching for a touchstone, some recognizable ground to stand on as a starting point, a frame of reference.

It comes surprisingly quickly.


Owned before blogging? No. (0 of 2. 0%)
Heard before blogging? No. (1 of 2. 50%)
Recommend? Well worth a listen. (2 of 2. 100%)
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3. Board Game: Blueprint [Average Rating:6.62 Unranked]
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[3] The Muhal Richard Abrams Orchestra – Blu Blu Blu

Quote:
More often than not, I’m not clear what it is I’m listening to when I hear “serious” jazz. Tom Moon tells me that what I’m about to hear on queueing up Blu Blu Blu is an excellent example of Free Jazz, but even after a quick peek at Wikipedia for a definition, I’m not much the wiser.


Owned before blogging? No. (0 of 3. 0%)
Heard before blogging? No. (1 of 3. 33%)
Recommend? Yes. (3 of 3. 100%)
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4. Board Game: Shakin' Scarecrow [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
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[4] The Abyssinian Baptist Choir – Shakin’ The Rafters

Quote:
After 3 great recordings in a row, our first swing and a miss?


Owned before blogging? No. (0 of 4. 0%)
Heard before blogging? No. (1 of 4. 25%)
Recommend? No. (3 of 4. 75%)
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5. Board Game: AC/DC [Average Rating:4.78 Unranked]
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[5] AC/DC – Back In Black

Quote:
And just like that – after the cheesy pop and exotic world albums, the experimental jazz and mediocre gospel - we’re in my wheelhouse for the first time. An album I already know. An album I already own!


Owned before blogging? Yes. (1 of 5. 20%)
Heard before blogging? Yes. (2 of 5. 40%)
Recommend? Yes. (4 of 5. 80%)

Bonus Guest Blog by Pat Higgins

Pat Higgins wrote:
I’d never heard AC/DC’s Back in Black before listening to it for this blog, and before I talk about the album itself I want to talk a bit about why.

Music is tied to our identities, of course, but never more so than when we’re teenagers. As our friends and classmates slam into the brick wall of puberty and fracture into different tribes, we may choose to nail our colours to a particular musical mast and allow that to represent us. To let the bands we follow make a statement for us; this is how I’d express myself if I had the ability. This band is the way I’d sound if you could hear me screaming into the tornado of my teenage years.
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6. Board Game: Harmony [Average Rating:5.00 Unranked]
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[6] John Adams - Harmonium

Quote:
I generally like Minimalist compositions - I enjoy the complexity from simplicity, the huge soundscapes, the zen state they can provoke.

These features are here for all to see in Harmonium, yet in this case seem to irritate me more than engross me.


Owned before blogging? No. (1 of 6. 17%)
Heard before blogging? No. (2 of 6. 33%)
Recommend? I just can’t. (4 of 6. 66%)
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7. Board Game: Big John [Average Rating:4.04 Unranked]
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[7] John Adams – The Death of Klinghoffer

Quote:
I think Moon cheated here.


Owned before blogging? No. (1 of 7. 14%)
Heard before blogging? No. (2 of 7. 29%)
Recommend? Not as an audio recording. (4 of 7. 57%)
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8. Board Game: Johnny & Co [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
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[8] Johnny Adams Sings Doc Pomus – The Real Me

Quote:
When I first hit play, I should have been listening to the deep rich vocals, the professional and comforting arrangements of the band supporting that voice, the masterful piano solos, the human and engaging lyrics.

Instead, my conscious mind kept coming back to the same refrain – “Wait. This is Blues?”


Owned before blogging? No. (1 of 8. 13%)
Heard before blogging? No. (2 of 8. 25%)
Recommend? Yes. (5 of 8. 63%)
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9. Board Game: Heartbreaker [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
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[9] Ryan Adams - Heartbreaker

Quote:
It seems to me that there are always plenty of whiny, 20-something singer songwriters to choose from. I’d personally much rather listen, for an example, to early Billy Joel (who is criminally missing from the 1,000 . . .)

Perhaps I am no longer the target audience?


Owned before blogging? No. (1 of 9. 11%)
Heard before blogging? No. (2 of 9. 22%)
Recommend? No. (5 of 9. 56%)
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10. Board Game: Cannonball Colony [Average Rating:7.01 Overall Rank:5892]
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[10] The Cannonball Adderley Quintet – At The Lighthouse

Quote:
It seems that jazz music is used as background music these days. When we hear it, more often than not it is lending a sense of class and sophistication without getting in the way of whatever it is trying to sell. It is safe, neutral, perhaps even dull.

And it takes several days of playing this live recording from 1960 on constant repeat for me to overcome this preconception.


Owned before blogging? No. (1 of 10. 10%)
Heard before blogging? No. (2 of 10. 20%)
Recommend? Yes. (6 of 10. 60%)
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11. Board Game: One Piece's Thousand Sunny Treasure Search [Average Rating:5.50 Unranked]
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[11] King Sunny Ade – Best of the Classic Years

Quote:
The cheery, choral vocal harmonies are almost an afterthought across all of the syncopated tracks that make up the album.

In all, it feels like somebody found a way to capture effervescence on tape, to bottle fun . . .


Owned before blogging? No. (1 of 11. 9%)
Heard before blogging? No. (2 of 11. 18%)
Recommend? Yes. (7 of 11. 64%)
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12. Board Game: Out of the Attic [Average Rating:7.73 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.73 Unranked]
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[12] Aerosmith – Toys In The Attic

Quote:
Somehow I have never owned Toys In The Attic - I guess it is possible I never bought it because every single person I knew already owned it.


Owned before blogging? No. (1 of 12. 8%)
Heard before blogging? No. (3 of 12. 25%)
Recommend? Yes. (8 of 12. 67%)
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13. Board Game: Lion of Ethiopia [Average Rating:7.26 Overall Rank:5040]
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[13] Mahmoud Ahmed – Ere Mela Mela

Quote:
Some tracks are so catchy, with the slightest touch of funk, that they could almost have been classic Motown hits once your ear adjusts to the truncated melodic scale.


Owned before blogging? No. (1 of 13. 8%)
Heard before blogging? No. (3 of 13. 23%)
Recommend? Yes. (9 of 13. 69%)
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14. Board Game: Air Aces [Average Rating:5.00 Unranked]
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[14] Air - Air Lore

Quote:
If you are paying close attention, you will have noticed that it has been the Jazz that has most caught my ear through the first dozen recordings, and if Abrams and Adderley were the appetizer, here is the main course.


Owned before blogging? No. (1 of 14. 7%)
Heard before blogging? No. (3 of 14. 21%)
Recommend? Yes. (10 of 14. 71%)
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15. Board Game: Song of Arthur and Merlin [Average Rating:7.75 Overall Rank:7585]
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[15] Arthur Alexander - The Ultimate

Quote:
I love story songs, and Alexander’s voice is one which you can believe has lived the tales you hear. Perfect 2 and 3 minute explorations of love and loss, some of which strike painfully close to home.


Owned before blogging? No. (1 of 15. 7%)
Heard before blogging? No. (3 of 15. 20%)
Recommend? Yes. (11 of 15. 73%)
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16. Board Game: Lady Alice [Average Rating:6.35 Overall Rank:3332]
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[16] Alice In Chains - Dirt

Quote:
There is shading and coloring across the collection of songs – it’s not all straight ahead rock – and I find there is not a dead spot to be found as I listen to the album as a whole. There are moments of Hendrix-esque soloing, jazzy stop-time signatures and odd vocal choices, all keeping me on my toes as a listener.


Owned before blogging? No. (1 of 16. 6%)
Heard before blogging? No. (3 of 16. 19%)
Recommend? Yes. (12 of 16. 75%)

Bonus Guest Blog by Tom Savini

Quote:
Every generation has its soundtrack, and grunge was not part of mine. My attachment to my soundtrack is based not only on the music itself, but to the life I was living when these songs were hard-wired into my brain. The laughing and crying and raging and contentment I was feeling at those times is as much a part of ‘my’ music as the scores and production of the songs themselves.


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17. Board Game: Wonderland [Average Rating:5.57 Overall Rank:12669]
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[17] Mose Allison - Allison Wonderland

Quote:
Allison Wonderland begins with a solo voice – intimate, up close and in the room personal – hanging out with no accompaniment before the piano kicks in and the album is underway. I love the sound instantly, even before engaging with the lyrics which are the reason to hear this performer.


Owned before blogging? No. (1 of 17. 6%)
Heard before blogging? No. (3 of 17. 18%)
Recommend? Yes. (13 of 17. 76%)
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18. Board Game: Band of Brothers: Screaming Eagles [Average Rating:7.85 Overall Rank:1558] [Average Rating:7.85 Unranked]
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[18] The Allman Brothers Band - At Fillmore East

Quote:
Tom Moon is spot on here when he describes this as a rock album built on jazz notions. Fillmore is the very definition of journey over destination.


Owned before blogging? No. (1 of 18. 6%)
Heard before blogging? No. (3 of 18. 17%)
Recommend? Yes. (14 of 18. 78%)
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19. Board Game: Der Knizia Almanach [Average Rating:7.17 Unranked]
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[19] The Almanac Singers - the Complete General Recordings

Quote:
The music chugs along with the oh-so-familiar call and response structure – repetitive and comforting, with simple seeming banjo picking and harmonica flourishes. A valid question becomes, was it so familiar before these earnest young men introduced it to a wider audience?


Owned before blogging? No. (1 of 19. 5%)
Heard before blogging? No. (3 of 19. 16%)
Recommend? Yes. (15 of 19. 79%)
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20. Board Game: Whipped! [Average Rating:2.50 Unranked]
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[20] Herb Alpert's Tijuana Brass - Whipped Cream and Other Delights

Quote:
There is a reason that these musical morsels caught the imagination of a nation in the mid-60s, and it goes beyond the food themed silliness, the model covered in whipped cream on the iconic cover – although these things all helped.


Owned before blogging? No. (1 of 20. 5%)
Heard before blogging? No. (3 of 20. 15%)
Recommend? Yes. (16 of 20. 80%)

And a guest post from BGG's own:
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Guest Blogger Joe Gola

Quote:
As far as individual songs go, I can only say that the hilarious “El Garbanzo” is my favorite, both because I am in favor of naming songs after legumes and because it sounds like something you could put on a P.A. to play a losing team off a ballfield.
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21. Board Game: Skyline 3000 [Average Rating:6.36 Overall Rank:3342]
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[21] Los Amigos Invisibles - Arepa 3000: A Venezuelan Journey Into Space

Quote:
It becomes hard to argue how much Arepa 3000 grows on me over the weeks of coming back to it between other 1,000 Recording entries, other new favorites, other old friends. Until we reach a track like “El Barro” with its generic club back beat that I hate so much it makes me want to punch something . . .


Owned before blogging? No. (1 of 21. 5%)
Heard before blogging? No. (3 of 21. 14%)
Recommend? Yes. (17 of 21. 81%)
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22. Board Game: First Day of the Somme [Average Rating:6.77 Unranked]
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[22] Ammons & Lewis - The First Day

Quote:
And so it goes back and forth between these two pioneers, complete with the hisses and pops of the original recording – even on CD. It is a constant reminder that these thoroughly enjoyable tracks were cut in a single day, over three-quarters of a century ago, the first recording session of the legendary Blue Note label.


Owned before blogging? No. (1 of 22. 5%)
Heard before blogging? No. (3 of 22. 14%)
Recommend? Yes. (18 of 22. 82%)
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23. Board Game: Spirit [Average Rating:4.85 Unranked]
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[23] Marian Anderson - Spirituals

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Anderson’s instrument is undeniable, powerful and evocative and always fully under control. It is a clean and beautiful sound, technically perfect.


Owned before blogging? No. (1 of 23. 4%)
Heard before blogging? No. (3 of 23. 13%)
Recommend? No. (18 of 23. 78%)
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24. Board Game: Rising Sun: ASL Module 13 [Average Rating:9.06 Unranked] [Average Rating:9.06 Unranked]
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[24] The Animals - House Of The Rising Sun

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Since this week’s guest blogger covered this track so well, and since it brings to mind such a vivid memory for me, allow me to try something a little different this week.


Owned before blogging? Yes. (2 of 24. 8%)
Heard before blogging? Yes. (4 of 24. 17%)
Recommend? Yes. (19 of 24. 79%)

Guest Blogger: Rosanna Luke

Quote:
The song’s appeal for me lies in its quirkiness; it’s an unlikely song to become a Number 1 hit for several reasons. It is a traditional song, perhaps a 16th Century song about a brothel in Soho (London) or a traditional New Orleans ballad.
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25. Board Game: Twin Win [Average Rating:6.10 Overall Rank:9661]
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[25] Aphex Twin - Selected Ambient Works 85-92

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The opening back beat – the oh so generic “mmm chh, mmm chh” of so many club hits makes me roll my eyes initially. But before I know it the music has engaged me, surprised me, dared me to underestimate it.


Owned before blogging? No. (2 of 25. 8%)
Heard before blogging? No. (4 of 25. 16%)
Recommend? Yes. (20 of 25. 80%)

Guest Blogger Sim Bamford

Quote:
I’m generally well-disposed towards electronic music, but why did I pick Aphex Twin from the list? I remember hearing that they were these really influential and seminal pioneers of electronic music who’d been blazing trails through the genre, rocking out with their Moogs from the late sixties onwards, so a great chance to fill a gaping hole in my cultural knowledge.

Turns out I was thinking of Tangerine Dream.


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