Not Feeling Guilty Mix Vol. 1
I previously posted this mix and a second volume in January 2009. I’m reposting it now (and Volume 2 later) in preparation for a third mix.
I’m on a mission to expose the notion of “guilty pleasures” in music for the putrid fraud it is. Few things about music annoy me as much as the idea that we should qualify our enjoyment of a song, and compromise or emotional reaction to it. Of course, there is a caveat: our full freedom to enjoy any kind of music should be rooted in what one might call an informed conscience.
It is okay to like Coldplay or James Blunt if you are aware of and open to alternatives to Coldplay or James Blunt (though if you are, chances are you won’t like them that much anyway). If all you have in your collection is Coldplay and James Blunt, if your horizons are so closed and your ambitions so limited that Coldplay and James Blunt and all the other big names on TV and supermarket shelves populate your music collection exclusively, then you ought to feel guilty. But, of course, such people typically exhibit no musical conscience anyway. Their likes have given rise to the description of Coldplay and James Blunt as “music for people who hate music”.
But all that is academic. If you are here, if you read serious music blogs — and please indulge me the illusion that the present blog meets that definition — then you probably do so because you truly love music, engage with music. You most likely have an informed conscience. And thus equipped, I submit, that there is no music you ought to feel guilty about enjoying.
There is much less reason yet to confess to “guilty pleasures” when the music is actually good. The label “guilty pleasures” is applied, on compilation albums and VH-1 countdowns, to much of the music on the mix I am presenting today.
The sound has attracted other dismissive tags. Yacht Rock is one I particularly dislike. The more official terms AOR (adult orientated rock) and MOR (middle of the road) acquired a bad rap in the punk and post-punk eras, and have not quite recovered their credibility. So the critics have bashed the sound, and the marketers have decided to dress it up as something appallingly appealing. By calling it a guilty pleasure, as a Magnum ice cream is to a habitual dieter, they are telling us that we can enjoy what they clearly regard as kitsch only “ironically”.
Their condescension is not only objectionable, but it also betrays a singular lack of appreciation of well constructed music. Being embarrassed about music is for the confused. It’s a dark place to be. Far from feeling guilt, we must embrace the music we like. All of it. Hence the title of the present mix, which these asinine marketers would doubtless categorise as a Guilty Pleasure.
Some of the performers’ names, it must be said, might not inspire confidence: Fogelberg! Vanwarmer!!
Most of these songs put you in a good mood. The lyrics may be sad — the pleading in Baby Come Back, or Bill LaBounty’s post-break posturing — but the music grooves, usually aided by pretty funky basslines; of course, the genre is infused with the jazz fusion sounds of the late 1970s and early 1980s. Some songs are happy. Orleans’ Still The One defines the greatest ambition for middle-age. And the late Dan Fogelberg weighs in with a sweetly poignant number. Be sure to listen to Jim Messina’s Love Is Here, as jazzy an AOR track as you’ll ever get. And Messina’s old sidekick Kenny Loggins features as his backing singer Michael McDonald, who later appears on his own right with one of the greatest tracks in the genre.
As always, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R, and includes covers (which the original mix didn’t). PW in comments.
1. Kenny Loggins – This Is It (1979)
2. Bobby Caldwell – What You Won’t Do For Love (1978)
3. Bill LaBounty – Living It Up (1982)
4. Player – Baby Come Back (1977)
5. Nicolette Larson – Lotta Love (1978)
6. Ace – How Long (1976)
7. Rupert Holmes – Him (1979)
8. Ambrosia – How Much I Feel (1978)
9. England Dan & John Ford Coley – I’d Really Like To See You Tonight (1976)
10. Alessi – All For A Reason (1977)
11. Orleans – Still The One (1976)
12. Gino Vannelli – Feel Like Flying (1978)
13. Michael McDonald – I Keep Forgettin’ (1982)
14. Jim Messina – Love Is Here (1979)
15. Gallagher And Lyle – Heart On My Sleeve (1976)
16. Linda Ronstadt – It’s So Easy (1977)
17. Randy Vanwarmer – Just When I Needed You Most (1974)
18. Robert John – Sad Eyes (1979)
19. Rita Coolidge – We’re All Alone (1977)
20. Dan Fogelberg – Same Old Lang Syne (1981)
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