Paulo Nutini – These Streets (Epic 2017 #191)

The Epic 2017 Project #191: 170710

Paulo Nutini – These Streets (2008)

These Streets is the debut studio album by Scottish singer-songwriter Paolo Nutini, released by Atlantic Records on 17 July 2006. Preceded by the single “Last Request”, the album debuted and peaked at number 3 on the UK Albums Chart and was later certified with five Platinum by the British Phonographic Industry for domestic shipments in excess of 1,500,000 copies. It also entered the charts in many other European countries, and in 2011 it was certified double Platinum by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry for sales of over 2,000,000 copies in Europe.

Most of the songs featured on the album were inspired by the end of Nutini’s relationship with his long-term girlfriend Teri Brogan, which began when they both were fifteen.Among the others, “Last Request” describes the couple’s last night together, while “Rewind” expresses the willing of turning back time before the end of their love story. Another auto-biographical intimate relationship served as the inspiration for the album’s second single, “Jenny Don’t Be Hasty”, which tells about Nutini’s involvement with an older woman who refused him because of his age.

Other tracks from the album explore different themes, like the title-track, which describes the feelings of a boy who leaves his hometown to move to a big city, or “New Shoes”, a song telling about a man who finds life easier as he wears a new pair of shoes. According to Nutini, the song was written trying to imagine if solving problems could be as easy as buying shoes is.

Nilsson – Schmilsson (Epic 2017 #184)

The Epic 2017 Project #184: 170703

Nilsson – Schmilsson (1971)

Nilsson Schmilsson is the seventh album by American singer Harry Nilsson, released by RCA Records in November 1971. It was Nilsson’s most commercially successful work, producing three of his best-known songs. Among these was the number 1 hit “Without You”, written by Pete Ham and Tom Evans of the group Badfinger. The album was the first of two Nilsson albums recorded in London and produced by Richard Perry.

“Jump into the Fire” and “Coconut”, both written by Nilsson, also became hits. The album performed well at the 1973 Grammy Awards, earning a nomination for Album of the Year, while “Without You” won the Grammy for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance. In 2006, Nilsson Schmilsson was ranked number 84 on Pitchfork’s “Top 100 Albums of the 1970s”.

Mika – Life in Cartoon Motion (Epic 2017 #177)

The Epic 2017 Project #177: 170626

Mika – Life in Cartoon Motion (2007)

Life in Cartoon Motion is the debut album released by British singer/songwriter Mika. The album was produced by Greg Wells and Mika himself, mixed by Wells, with co-production on two songs by Jodi Marr and John Merchant. It was released via Island Records on 5 February 2007 in the United Kingdom, and via Casablanca Records on 27 March 2007 in the United States. The album’s lead single, “Grace Kelly”, stayed at number one on the UK Singles Chart for five weeks straight and became a number-one hit in many countries.

The album debuted at number 1 in the United Kingdom, selling 7.8 million copies worldwide since its release.The Life in Cartoon Motion album cover has since been used in a commercial for the iPod Touch. It was the fifth-best-selling album in the world during 2007

Don McLean – American Pie (Epic 2017 #174)

The Epic 2017 Project #174: 170623

Don McLean – American Pie (1971)

A protégé of Pete Seeger, ‘American Pie’ was Don McLean’s second album. It was intended as a unified work, as McLean had said that he was influenced by the Beatles’ Sgt Pepper album and envisioned American Pie to be a similar piece of work. Believing that an artist’s work should stand by itself, McLean generally did not offer explanations for his song’s themes or meaning,though he did describe the title song as involving “a sense of loss”. The album was dedicated to Buddy Holly, a childhood icon of McLean’s, and was released in 1971 on the heels of the ’60s, the defining decade of McLean’s generation. It has a melancholy feel and rather sparse arrangements. At the time of the writing McLean’s first marriage was failing and the optimism and hopefulness of the 1960s was giving way to the nihilism and hedonism of the 1970s.

The album’s title song though, made McLean a household name. The single was a number-one US hit for four weeks in 1972. In the UK, it reached No. 2 on its original 1972 release and No.12 on a reissue in 1991. It was listed as the No. 5 song on the RIAA project Songs of the Century and a truncated version was covered by Madonna in 2000 and reached No. 1 in several countries, including the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia.

The repeatedly mentioned “day the music died” lyric refers to the 1959 plane crash which killed early rock and roll performers Buddy Holly, The Big Bopper, and Ritchie Valens. The meaning of the other lyrics has long been debated, and for decades, McLean declined to explain the symbolism behind the many characters and events mentioned. However, the overall theme of the song is the loss of innocence of the early rock and roll generation as symbolized by the plane crash which claimed the lives of three of its heroes

John Martyn – Solid Air (Epic 2017 #168)

The Epic 2017 Project #168: 170617

John Martyn – Solid Air (1973)

Solid Air was the fourth studio album from the late folk singer-songwriter John Martyn, released in February 1973 by Island Records.

The album was recorded over eight days and features instrumental contributions by bassist Danny Thompson and members of Fairport Convention.”Solid Air”, the title track, was dedicated to a friend of Martyn’s, Nick Drake, who would die of an antidepressant overdose 18 months after the album was released. Martyn said of the track

“It was done for a friend of mine, and it was done right with very clear motives, and I’m very pleased with it, for varying reasons. It has got a very simple message, but you’ll have to work that one out for yourself.”

The album features an avant-garde cover of Skip James’ “Devil Got My Woman,”here retitled “I’d Rather Be the Devil” and performed with heavy use of Martyn’s Echoplex tape delay effect.

“May You Never” became something of a signature song for Martyn, becoming a staple of his live performances. Released in November 1971 as a single in an early form, the song was re-recorded during the Solid Air sessions. Eric Clapton covered “May You Never” on his 1977 album Slowhand. When Martyn was presented with a lifetime achievement award by Phil Collins (a collaborator of Martyn’s) at the 2008 BBC Folk Awards, Clapton sent a message saying that he was “so far ahead of everything else it was inconceivable” and acknowledged the extent of his influence on “everyone who ever heard him.”Martyn and his band, including John Paul Jones on mandolin, played “May You Never” and “Over The Hill” at the Awards Ceremony.

A remastered CD was issued by Universal Records in October 2000. This CD was packaged in a card slipcase, and featured a remastered version of the original album with the addition of a live version of “I’d Rather Be The Devil”. Solid Air was given a further remastering and repackaging when a double CD reissue curated by John Hillarby was released in 2009, and which included several alternate studio and live versions.

The album cover is an example of schlieren photography demonstrating the ‘solid’ nature of air.

Carole King – Tapestry (Epic 2017 #146)

The Epic 2017 Project #146: 170526

Carole King – Tapestry (1971)

The second album from Carole King, released in 1971 on Ode Records and produced by Lou Adler is one of the best-selling albums of all time, with over 25 million copies sold worldwide. It received four Grammy Awards in 1972, including Album of the Year. The lead single from the album — “It’s Too Late”/”I Feel the Earth Move” — spent five weeks at number one on both the Billboard Hot 100 and Easy Listening charts. And in 2003, Tapestry was ranked number 36 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time