So here we are with Michael Kurtz from Records Store Day. We are meeting at a Record Store Day Summer Camp in New Orleans. Michael is so kind as to tell us about five the most important albums in his life. But I imagine they keep changing?
Michael Kurtz: Yes, they change all the time. The list I give you today is just from this week: what I’m thinking about, where I’m in life.
So what are your favorites now, in August 9th, 2019?
The first one, I’d say, is Todd Rundgren’s “A Wizard, a True Star”. It’s a very trippy album, very philosophical album. It starts out with the sound of reality splitting and opening out into some other world. It’s like it’s being born and then goes right into the song “Never Never Land”, which is one of my favorite childhood songs.
But it isn’t even just about the music, which is pretty amazing. It’s almost like it’s a surrealistic painting. The artwork of the record was really important. You can see that played out in record. It really tried to recreate some of the magic that artist did in earlier time. In any case “A Wizard, a True Star”, the album folds out, it includes a “band aid” inside with a poem written on it by Pattie Smith, it’s got the lyrics.
It’s got this musical collage that is definitely fascinating. While you are sitting and listening to the album, and you’re coming across these songs, you feel like you need rock ‘n roll, pussy or Zen.
The next one is “Hunky Dory” by David Bowie. It’s a really important record for me. It’s another philosophical album. Because I’m an absurdist, I like absurdity, that’s my favorite humor, so I like that. Even “Changes”, the big head, there is a sense of humor to it. You know, when he’s saying about these children that you spit on, talking about bad people manipulating the innocent. But he’s doing it in a humorous way.
The song “Kooks” is pretty incredible in the same sense. It’s a dad talking to his child, telling him how it’s going to be ok, and we are going to be together in this adventure.
Then “Life on Mars”, more serious track, but there is absurdity to that too.
And I loved the packaging on that record when it first came out. The softness of the paper and the image that’s on the front cover,
The other one is Joni Mitchell’s “Court and Spark”. The artwork on it is amazing. It’s some painting that she made, but it’s lifted up of the paper, like Braille, so you can feel the art as much as you can see it. And of course the music on that album is incredible too. The record is as important as an album like The Beatles “Sergeant Pepper” or whatever your favorite music is... There is always one artist that changed the world and I think it was one of the albums that did that.
I really love Bob Dylan’s “Desire” album. I saw the “Rolling Thunder Revue” film recently and it revealed things that I didn’t know about why he made that record and why it sounds the way it does with the woman violinist, and why he was wearing white make up on his face... It turned out there was a young kid that turned him onto Kiss at the time. And who would have thought Dylan was influenced by Kiss? Not so much the music but what they were projecting: this idea that behind the mask you can be truthful. And that music is like that. On that record there is so many stories that he tells, where he’s really whispering the truth to you, if you are interested. It starts out with a tale about Hurricane, the boxer who was wrongly jailed by racist people for murder. And it took Dylan and few other people to say: “Hey, no, that’s not cool, let’s change that”.
The last one I want to talk about is Weather Report’s “Heavy Weather”. That’s Jaco Pastorius’ big album for that band. He’s playing on it specifically on the song “