Album per diem: Elton John – Wonderful Crazy Night

It’s an exciting day here at Album per diem headquarters. My assistant has been running around the office all day just full of excitement. My dog has been running around the living room because somewhere in puppy soul he knows it’s the first time we are going to dive into a brand new album on Album per diem. Released today and featured is the 32nd studio album from the one and only Sir Elton John.

Wonderful Crazy Night is the name of the album and since it’s our first brand new album we are going deluxe. The standard edition of this album has 10 songs, the deluxe has 12 and there’s also a super deluxe edition that has 14 songs. All the songs were written and composed by Sir John and his longtime writing partner Bernie Taupin.

  1. Wonderful Crazy Night – Right off the bat it sounds like some nice old school Elton. The piano throughout the song is phenomenal which is no shock for an Elton album. When I first heard the title, I thought Christmas for some reason. It sounds like a cheesy Hallmark Christmas movie title, but it was a nice little soft rock song.
  2. In The Name of You – It’s not a dark song, but it has a darker sound to it which is something I really dig. What I think must be an electric organ and the electric guitar play off each other really nice to make this cool sound. Another love song, another solid rock song.
  3. Claw Hammer – It has a very musical feel to it. John is describing someone’s flaws, basically, and it just feels like the high amount of personal description found in a song in a musical. It works.
  4. Blue Wonderful – A beautifully written song, but I’m a sucker for the color blue. A simple little love song, but so damn lovely. Seriously, there’s nothing real special about it, but I really dig it.
  5. I’ve Got 2 Wings – Elton John meets Bruce Springsteen in this song. The song tells the story of Utah Smith who was a religious man who went around and played music in the name of the lord. He had paper wings at the time when saving these people, but now he has real wings as Utah is dead. Sorry, there was no poetic way of really saying that so bluntly. It’s a nice story song.
  6. A Good Heart – Another love song. Another solid song. The horns in this song can be very subtle at times, but they bring a nice texture to it.
  7. Looking Up – The song has the feel of a 1990’s country song that had the rock feel that Garth Brooks brought into the genre. That’s a good thing, in my world anyway. It’s nice and bouncy. It has a very uplifting sound to it which is good since it’s about looking up in life. It’s a combination of rock, country and Elton John which brings no complaints from me.
  8. Guilty Pleasure – Maybe I just have Springsteen on the mind, I usually do, but this song would sound fantastic on his The River A rocker about am I a love or just some guilty pleasure which is an excellent take on the term guilty pleasure. The term is popular, but doesn’t really get used this way enough in popular music. The rocking track ends in a nice little out-of-the-blue piano solo which is nice, but almost feels like a song within itself. It really has nothing to do with the track other than being tacked on at the end..
  9. Tambourine – Another love song! Yes a song with the title of Tambourine is a love song. The tambourine is a metaphor and a darn good one at that. Basically, the singer is so in love they feel like a smacked tambourine when they see their loved. It’s full of other great metaphors, too. It’s metaphor city and it cleverly ends with the shaking of a…. tambourine.
  10. The Open Chord – Do you think this album is full of love songs? I do. This one the metaphor is an open chord that the singer is going to play all day which will take away all his sins. It’s a good little love song, I just can only take so many.
  11. Free And Easy – The song sounds like freedom. It just feels like strolling through a park. It feels like a weight has been lifted from your shoulders. It’s amazing how musicians can match the feeling of the lyrics with the right music and Elton does that throughout the album.
  12. England and America – I don’t know if I’ve ever come across a song before in my life that has been patriotic for two countries at the same time, but Elton John just did that in this song. He loves England and America and we’ll always love him (I have given myself the right to speak for all of America and England). It’s a good bonus track. The song isn’t horrible, but it feels like a bonus track.

If you like Elton John this is no real departure for him. It’s a nice sounding album despite his range being probably two octaves lower than his prime. He still sings well, just not real high. If you are a fan of love songs, it is that time of year, this album also has a lot of them, probably one or two too many for my tastes.

If I had to pick one, I’d go with Guilty Pleasure. Blue Wonderful is also up there for me.

Next up: Neil Diamond – Tennessee Moon


Album per diem: Queen – Innuendo

I’m a big fan of Queen. Queen was the first that I was fully exposed to that was outside of the realm of country music. I love my country music, but Queen taught me that there is a whole lot more out there than just the single genre.

Innuendo was released on February 4, 1991 in the United Kingdom and the next day in the United States. It was the last album the band put out while lead singer Freddie Mercury was still alive. That theme rises to prominence throughout some of the tracks.

  1. Innuendo – Queen is probably best known for ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ which is simply the best rock opera out there. They go back to that kind of formula for the title track and it doesn’t disappoint. It’s not ‘Rhapsody’, but how many bands could really pull this kind of thing off twice?
  2. I’m Going Slightly Mad – This is one of my all-time favorite Queen songs, probably because I am slightly mad. The instrumentation gives it this dark and haunting feel of going mad, plus the description of how he is mad (one wave short of a ship wreck, one card short of a full deck, knitting with only one needle) is just absolute brilliancy.
  3. Headlong – Rock and roll at its finest. It’s a little heavy, but fast-paced with Brian May absolutely killing it, as usual, on the guitar. This song is a hardcore rock song that also has “Hoop diddy diddy – hoop diddy do” in the lyrics. That’s how freaking great Queen is.
  4. I Can’t Live With You – If the Rolling Stones got really experimental, this is what they would try to sound like. A solid rock and roll love song that is really catchy. It’s the weakest track so far and I still love it.
  5. Don’t Try So Hard – Freddie was denying that he was sick, but we now know he was already fighting AIDS when the band was making this album. It truly comes off as one of those songs that comes from someone who knows their time is almost up. It’s a good message, don’t try so hard, just be you.
  6. Ride The Wild Wind – It’s the same as ‘Don’t Try So Hard’, but while trying to be squeezed into a real commercial feeling rock song. It doesn’t have the same emotion. For some bands this would probably be groundbreaking, but we hold Queen to a higher standard.
  7. All God’s People – Might be the weirdest religious song I’ve ever heard. It has a little reggae feel to it. Give freely we are all God’s people which is a good message, but, even as a Queen lover, it’s one of those weird sounding Queen songs. It doesn’t sound bad, but it’s not the best either.
  8. These Are The Days Of Our Lives – Roger Taylor did a much better job writing this song that ‘Ride The Wild Wind’. It’s a retrospective song again, but it’s a slow meaningful one. The bongo drums on it are a nice little touch. And no this song doesn’t have anything to do with the soap opera The Days Of Our Lives.
  9. Delilah – I looked it up. It’s a song about Mercury’s damn cat. His favorite cat, but still it’s a song about a cat. I love Queen, but they just made me listen to a song about a cat. What the hell. I mean the ‘meow, meow, meow’ lines might’ve given it away, but I thought maybe I was just missing a really big metaphor. Nope. It’s a song about a cat.
  10. The Hitman – This sounds like a hit for Guns ‘N Roses. I like the sound. It’s quite the rocker, nothing too critically to acclaim about it other than the rock sound. A song about a hitman is kind of a rare treat that was pulled off fairly nicely here.
  11. Bijou – The Wikipedia article for the album describes this song as an inside out song which is the perfect description for it. It’s a guitar expect for a break where Mercury sings a total of 31 words. The rest is just plain and simple beautiful guitar playing by Brian May. May is one of the best guitarists in the history of the world, so you know this track is good.
  12. The Show Must Go On – When Queen knocks it out of the park, they hit the ball into the next county. This song is the last track on the last album that Queen released while Freddie Mercury was still alive. It’s a pretty powerful statement to go out on. ‘The Show Must Go On’ and it did with Mercury continuing to record up through the end which resulted in the final Queen studio album Made In Heaven.

It’s a Queen album, so it’s automatically going to be solid and that’s what it is. The band knocks a couple songs out of the park and some just are kind of there and not their best work. If you’re a fan of Queen and rock and roll, you’ll enjoy this album. The ones that aren’t even that great are still fun to listen to.

It’s hard to pick one song, but after listening to it again, you have to go with The Show Must Go On if you can only have one. If you can splurge also get I’m Going Slightly Mad and then Headlong. At this rate, just get the album.

Next up: Elton John – Wonderful Crazy Night (it’s release day!)

Album per diem: Rosanne Cash – Seven Year Ache

We’re getting old. Johnny Cash’s eldest child is 60-years-old. That child, from his first marriage, is Rosanne Cash and the artist of our third featured album in Album per diem: Seven Year Ache. Cash notched 11 number one singles on the country chart throughout the 80’s including all three singles released to radio from this album.

So let’s see what the Daughter in the Black has in store for us.

  1. Rainin’ – A nice little face-paced song to open up the album. It’s a solid little country song. There’s a lot of bad country songs out there, but is there really a bad song that’s about rain? Country always knocks out rain songs, even when it’s just rainin’ in her soul.
  2. Seven Year Ache – There’s some songs that just sound perfect sonically and this is one of them. Just everything works. The harmony on this song is beautiful. This is simply one of my favorite songs of all time. A number one and it was written by Cash.
  3. Blue Moon With Heartache – Sonically it sounds like the night with the moon shining down, it’s another beautiful track. The harmonies again are killer. The liner notes list the following people as harmony vocal which explains why this is a recurring theme: Rodney Crowell, Vince Gill, Emmylou Harris and Ricky Skaggs.
  4. What Kinda Girl? – The beautiful thing about country music is you can go from a sad heartache song to a total rocker and that’s what this song is. It’s a rock song, that is interestingly written. The song is describing what kind of girl she is, but the first verse makes you kind of wonder if there wasn’t a better way to frame it: “I like some turkey but I don’t eat lamb/No sweet potato but I do like ham”. Like it for the rocking, not really for the lyrics.
  5. You Don’t Have Very Far To Go – The album gets back to the great songwriting with a track co-written by Merle Haggard and Red Simpson. Simply a great heartbreak song. The kind of thing that’s simply missing from country music right now.
  6. My Baby Thinks He’s A Train – I’m a sucker for train songs and a good metaphor, so this song is a winner. I never thought of trains as the metaphor for a man-whore, but damn does it work. It does bring kind of a bad name to trains, but I’ll let it pass in this instance.
  7. Only Human – One of those songs that kinda makes you think. We’d be able to take a lot more in this world if we weren’t human, but alas we are only human. Another really solid track.
  8. Where Will The Words Come From? – Would you like some truth in your songs? I’ve never broken up with anybody, but this song makes it seem just like the moves where it is very tough to find the right words. Another great one.
  9. Hometown Blues – Another rock as it should be. It’s a cover of Tom Petty’s Hometown Blues. The album surely has found a great mix of slower sad songs and some nice rockers to mix up and keep the listener interested.
  10. I Can’t Resist – It’s the love song of the album complete with a wonderful saxophone. She can’t resist the temptation of love and it’s hard to resist the song. It’s a nice love song that has ballad qualities that isn’t totally belted, in a good way.
  11. The Feeling – It’s a groovy song that is a nice track to end the album on. It’s nothing too special, but the groove leads the listener out on a very positive note. It caps off a very, very solid album.

The album doesn’t sound like something her dad would make, but it’s still a wonderful country album. This kind of album is what made the 1980’s a great time to be listening to country music. If current country could turn back to a little bit more of this, I’d raise no complaints. I want to find this album on vinyl because I’d run play this album a lot. I highly recommend this for any lover of music, especially those with a taste for country.

The song you need is still Seven Year Ache, seriously that song is perfection. You need this song. Yes, you do.

Next up: Queen – Innuendo

Album per diem: Bob Dylan – Shadows In The Night

It’s only installment two of Album per diem and I have already screwed up. Bob Dylan’s Shadows In The Night came out in 2015 on February 3 not February 2. We have arrived to the second without me even noticing my error, so we’ll keep it this way and get you prepared for the one-year anniversary of the Dylan’s 36th studio album. Yes, that’s a lot of albums.

Not usually do Bob Dylan and Frank Sinatra go hand-in-hand. Both are musical giants, of course, but Sinatra is known for his knockout singing and Dylan for his poetic and beautiful songwriting. In this album, Dylan knocked down the walls and did an album full of pop standards that were made popular by Ol’ Blue Eyes.

  1. I’m A Fool To Want You – Even if you are just a casual fan of the steel guitar, you need to listen to this track just for that alone. And all the initial reviews are correct, the vocal is surprisingly great. That’s just not Dylan’s forte and it was really nice on this track. Some horns get added to the steel guitar by the end of the song which is just an awesome sound.
  2. The Night We Called It A Day – The song sends you to a lounge somewhere and you get lost in the lyrics. Every once and a while you go, ‘hey, this guy sounds like Bob Dylan’, but then you forget about it and go back to sipping your whiskey in very dim lighting. It’s nice soft and another great vocal from Dylan.
  3. Stay With Me – Another solid track, but a little high for Dylan’s register. The high notes have never been the Minnesota native’s forte, but it didn’t take away from another solid track on the album.
  4. Autumn Leaves – More epic steel guitar to open the track. It’s become more than evident that the instrumentation just takes this album to a high level. Dylan brought his a-game to the vocals and the players have done an amazing job. This album would be a joy to listen to without Dylan’s vocals, that’s not saying anything about his vocals just how grand the players are.
  5. Why Try To Change Me Now – “Don’t you remember I was always your clown, but why try to change me now?” That’s a great line. I loved this tune. I didn’t really know what to expect with Dylan’s take on pop standards, but I really like what has gone down so far. The album lacks a little bit of energy at this point, but it might just work in this instance.
  6. Some Enchanted Evening – Another solid track, but it is getting to the point that you have to be in the right mood for the album. The songs are very similar which makes a great intensive listening to the album a little dull.
  7. Full Moon And Empty Arms – It’s weird to me to be hearing Dylan signing songs so blatantly about love. I don’t why, but that just isn’t the picture of Dylan I have in my mind. Another nice track, but the same issues as before of sounding similar.
  8. Where Are You? – Bob Dylan is not supposed to be able to sign this well. This song might be the strongest vocal on the whole album which is saying something. In an album that keeps a little dull, this is a good reason to keep going.
  9. What’ll I Do – Bob Dylan was made to sing sad songs. This song is a sad song. Bob Dylan was made to sing this song. The raspy quality that Dylan has matches what we imagine a sad song should sound like.
  10. That Lucky Old Sun – I’m a sucker for albums that end in some positivity and this song is about ending up in heaven. You can’t get much more positive than that. The horns on this song make it seem heavenly supporting another great vocal from Dylan.

In the grand scheme of things, maybe I’m not cool enough to totally love Dylan. I liked this album, but in the middle of the album I was finding it hard to fully give attention to it. A lot of the songs sound similar, but they still sound great. There is great instrumentation throughout, the steel guitar is heavenly, plus Dylan does give a wonderful vocal especially for a Bob Dylan album.

It’s worth a listen and if you’re into lounge-like music, you should definitely enjoy it. If you are one that is just a casual music listener, the album would make great background music, I say that in the best way possible. It sounds beautiful, but it’s one you can’t concentrate too hard on.

If you can only listen to one song, go with What I’ll Do with Why Try To Change Me Now? a close second place.

Next up: Roseanne Cash – Seven Year Ache

Album per diem: Al Green – Full of Fire

Welcome to the first installment of Album per diem, where yours truly dives into an album and discusses it each and every day. Up first is Al Green and his album Full of Fire which was released 40 years ago this month in 1976. Green has writing credits on seven of the nine songs on the album. Let’s dive in.

  1. “Glory, Glory” – Nothing groundbreaking with this tune, that being said it is a nice little toe-tapper of soul. The horns featured throughout the song need to be commended. All in all, it’s a nice little kickoff to the album.
  2. “That’s the Way It Is” – This song is just plain groovy. It’s heavier than “Glory, Glory”, but in a good way. Any song that ends with hand-clapping when there was no hand clapping in the previous 3:30 seconds of the song is a great song by my standards.
  3. “Always” – If you’re looking for a new song for Valentine’s Day playlist, I have found one for you. This song oozes the sound of love, not overly sexual, but lovely love. The kind of love that’s on Hallmark. Simply this will be a great love song for… always.
  4. “There’s No Way” – Let’s keep that Valentine’s Day playlist rolling my friends, because this song knocks it out of the park. It’s one of those love songs that make you wanna cry. The first verse is pure magic: “If I could live my life all over, I’d do everything the same/The film in my camera would reveal everything the same / Like kissin’ you every mornin’, lovin’ you day by day/ Dreaming dreams of you and every old way will”. It’s absolutely brilliant. Not to mention the high note that is belted as the song fades out is something everybody should hear.
  5. “I’d Fly Away” – The best vocal on the album so far comes on the last track of the first side. Green puts on a wonderful vocal and the combination of that with the instrumentation makes it actually seem like you are flying or, at the very least, floating. The phrase “away, hey, hey” shows up a lot throughout which is a good thing, because every time it occurs it results in a nice crescendo into the last hey which is immediately followed by a cool lick from the horns.
  6. “Full of Fire” – The song results in another nice vocal, but the lyrics really do leave something to be desired. Basically, he’s full of fire, likes this girl and he can dance. Cool. It’s hard to hate on this song because, again, I love the arrangement, but in an album full of beautiful love songs, it just doesn’t really cut it.
  7. “Together Again” – When you think Al Green, you also think Buck Owens, right? Well, Buck Owens wrote the song and Al Green sure brought it to life in his version. The song stretches five minutes and it might have about 100 words total, but it’s beautiful. If you want a long slow-dance about being back together again and in your lover’s arms this is the song for you.
  8. “Soon As I Get Home” – At my funeral, someone will be required to stand outside the church with the future’s equivalent of a boombox and play this song. Simply, home is heaven in this song and Green is telling us all once he’s going to do when he gets there. It’s kind of weird song to have on an album with a bunch of love songs, but it still works.
  9. “Let It Shine” – This is an excellent closing song. It feels like the end of church when you’re supposed to ‘go forth’ and such. It’s a nice happy little send off to the rest of your day/life/whatever. Everybody has a light, you just gotta let it shine.

I’m scared after listening to this album. I fear I might have done one of the best albums that I’m ever going to do on day one. If you like some old school soul music, I’d highly recommend this album. I’d love to point to my favorite track, but I can’t really pick one out. “Always”, “There’s No Way” and “Together Again” are all great love songs that I really dig. I hope you dig them, too.

Next up: Bob Dylan – Shadows In The Night.

May the music ever be in your favor.