The Sunday Six

Celebrating music with six random tracks at a time

It’s time again for what has become my favorite recurring feature on the blog. For first time visitors, the idea of The Sunday Six is to celebrate music in a random fashion, six tracks at a time. It could literally be anything from the past 60 years or so, in any order. My only “rule” is I have to like it. That’s consistent with my overall approach for this blog to write about music I dig. Without further ado, let’s get to this week’s picks.

Neil Cowley/Circulation

I’d like to start with Neil Cowley, an English contemporary pianist and composer I first included in a Sunday Six installment back in March. Born in London in November 1972, Cowley began as a classical pianist and already performed a Shostakovich piano concerto at Queen Elizabeth Hall as a ten-year-old. In his late teens, he played keyboards for various soul and funk acts, including  Mission ImpossibleThe Brand New HeaviesGabrielle and Zero 7. It appears his first album Displaced was released in 2006 under the name of Neil Cowley Trio. Fourteen additional albums featuring Cowley as band leader or co-leader have since come out. He has also worked as a sideman for Adele and various other artists. Circulation is another track from Cowley’s most recent solo album Hall of Mirrors released in March this year. This is very relaxing piano-driven music with elements of ambient electronics.

Cream/Crossroads

After a mellow start, here’s something crunchy from one of my favorite ’60s British rock bands: Cream. Featuring Eric Clapton (guitar, vocals), Jack Bruce (bass, vocals) and Ginger Baker (drums, vocals), they were a true supergroup. As such, it’s perhaps not surprising they broke up after just a little over two years. In fact, given the bad, sometimes physical fights between the volatile Mr. Baker and Bruce, it’s a miracle they lasted that long – not to mention the fact they still managed to record four amazing albums. One of my favorite Cream tunes is their remake of Robert Johnson’s Crossroads, which he first recorded as Cross Road Blues in May 1937. Clapton did a neat job in rearranging the acoustic Delta blues. Cream’s version appeared on the live record of their double LP Wheels of Fire. Their third album was first released in the U.S. in June 1968, followed by the UK two months later.

The Jayhawks/She Walks In So Many Ways

Lately, I’ve started exploring The Jayhawks. I first came across the alt. country and country rock band about a year ago after the release of their most recent album XOXO in July 2020. The Jayhawks were initially formed in Minneapolis in 1985. After seven records, they went on hiatus in 2014 and reemerged in 2019. She Walks In So Many Ways is a track off their eighth studio album Mockingbird Time from September 2011. It marked the return of original frontman Mark Olson (guitar, vocals), reuniting him Gary Louris (guitar, vocals), another co-founder. Not only did they co-write all songs on the album, but they also delivered great harmony vocals. The other members at the time included co-founder Marc Perlman (bass), together with Tim O’Reagan (drums, vocals) and Karen Grotberg (keyboards, backing vocals). All remain with the band’s current line-up except for Olson who left again in the fall of 2012. She Walks In So Many Ways has a nice Byrds vibe – my kind of music!

Lenny Kravitz/Are You Gonna Go My Way

Let’s turn to Lenny Kravitz, who first entered my radar in late 1991 when I coincidentally listened to his sophomore album Mama Said in a restaurant in France. My brother-in-law asked the waiter about the music, and the rest is history. I immediately got the CD after my return to Germany and have since listened to Kravitz on and off. While he has won various awards and, according to Wikipedia, sold more than 40 million albums worldwide during his 40-year career, success didn’t come easy – especially in the U.S. where initially Kravitz was told he didn’t sound “black enough” or “white enough”, and there was too much ’60s and Hendrix in his music. Jeez, that terrible guitarist Jimi Hendrix – what a bunch of crap! Anyway, here’s the title track of Kravitz’s third studio album from March 1993. Are You Gonna Go My Way was co-written by him and guitarist and longtime collaborator Craig Ross. I’ve always loved this cool kick-ass guitar riff.

The Police/Spirits in the Material World

Let’s jump to the ’80s and one of my favorite bands from that time, The P0lice. A visit of a tribute band music festival in Atlantic City last weekend brought the British trio of Sting (lead vocals, bass), Andy Summers (guitar) and Stewart Copeland (drums) back on my radar screen. During their seven-year run from 1977 to 1984, The Police recorded five albums, a quite productive output. While I have a slight preference for their earlier rawer sound, I think there are great songs on all of their albums. Here’s one I dig from Ghost in the Machine, the band’s second-to-last record released in October 1981: Spirits in the Material World. I love Sting’s bassline on that track, as well as the synthesizer-driven reggae groove. According to Wikipedia, he wrote that tune on a Casio keyboard, his first experience with a synthesizer.

Pink Floyd/One of These Days

What, are we already at the sixth and final track? Just when I was fully getting warmed up! Don’t worry, I have every intention to continue this zig-zag music journey next Sunday. For now, I’d like to wrap it up with Pink Floyd and the opening track of Meddle. Their sixth studio album from October 1971 is one of my favorite Floyd records and yet another great album that’s turning 50 this year. I was tempted to feature Echoes but realize very few if any readers would likely to listen to a 23-minute-plus track, though I can highly recommend it! 🙂 Here’s One of These Days, credited to all four members of the band, David Gilmour, Roger Waters, Richard Wright and Nick Mason. I think it’s one of the best space rock instrumentals. That pumping double-tracked bass guitar part played by Gilmour and Waters is just great. The lovely line, “one of these days, I cut you into little pieces,” was spoken by Mason, and recorded using an effect device called a ring modulator, and slowed down to make it even more creepy.

Sources: Wikipedia; YouTube

23 thoughts on “The Sunday Six”

  1. Damals hat sich Sting mit Arthur Koestler beschäftigt. Bücher wie „Der Mensch – Irrläufer der Evolution“ und „Gespenst in der Maschine“ haben Police zu dem Album angeregt.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Lisa, sounds like a six out of six -happy you enjoyed my picks.

      I’ve seen Pink Floyd twice in the ’90s, once in Germany and once in the US, so it was post Roger Waters. Both shows featured impressive 360 sound and cool light effects. The “Delicate Sound of Thunder” and “Pulse” live albums reflect the experience pretty well.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Is that the one that was done at The Berlin Wall? Roger Waters’ The Wall I know was done there and The Scorpions were the backup band and Bob Geldof was the alienated man (iirc) and Jerry Hall had a cameo.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. No, my guitar teacher caught Pink Floyd in Dortmund (Germany) during the tour that supported “The Wall” album. According to Wikipedia, it was in February 1981 – actually a little later than I thought. At the time he saw that show, I was 14 and had taken lessons with him for at least a year.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Ah! I see also via wiki that Waters’ The Wall Live in Berlin didn’t happen until July of 1990. That means The Berlin Wall was still standing when he saw it!? So interesting to think such things aren’t all that far ago in history… and you remember when it came down.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. I got to see the wall during a school trip to Berlin in 1984 or 1985. Having this concrete and guarded wall in the middle of a city was an unreal sight.

        I also recall sections where graffiti artists had made the wall transparent by drawing what they imagined was behind it. While this must have been a quite dangerous undertaking, I thought it was pretty ingenious.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Oh wow I love the concept of artists drawing what they imagined was on the other side. I watched a really good movie about an artist living in East Germany and how much living on one side of the wall was so different than the other. (I think at one point people were allowed to move freely between the sides?) The artist is Kurt Barnert and the name of the 2018 movie is “Never Look Away.” It’s an *excellent* film!

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Yes, it was possible to go to East Berlin while the wall was still there. In fact, during my previously mentioned school visit to Berlin, we split up in small groups and spent half a day in East Berlin. It literally felt like going back 30-50 years in time or so.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Great list. I too still love Mama Said. Wonderful album. Are You Gonna… is where I started to step away from all things Lenny but the title tracks rocks out. Nice choice from Ghost… the opener is a personal favourite even though that album isn’t of my favourites of theirs. And Meddle, what a classic. Floyd ‘proper’ follow up to Saucerful of Secrets if you can believe it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! “Mama Said” is my favorite Lenny Kravitz album. It’s also the only one I own on CD, apart from the “Greatest Hits” compilation that came out in 2000.

      When it comes to The Police, I tend to prefer their rawer earlier songs over the later more polished tunes. That being said, I think there are at least a couple of great songs on each of their albums.

      “Wish You Were Here” was my entry to Pink Floyd, followed by “The Dark Side of the Moon.” While I still love these albums, “Meddle” has become one of my favorite Floyd records. I’ve also come to dig their early music from the Syd Barrett era. I would definitely consider Pink Floyd to be among my all-time favorite bands.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Once again Christian, you’ve picked 6 great tunes. I especially like the Neil Cowley song, and “Crossroads” is one of my favorite songs of the 1960s. And “Spirits in the Material World” is one of my many favorites by the Police.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s