Michael Kurtz /english version/

Portal Winylowy
Portal Winylowy

Michael Kurtz is a co-founder of Record Store Day – a worldwide event supporting independent record stores. Amongst ambassadors of RSD you can find such renown stars as Pearl Jam, Ozzy Osbourne or Metallica.

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?

Todd Rundgren - A Wizard, a True Star

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.

David Bowie – Hunky Dory

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, Bowie pulling his hair back. And when you opened it up, it had lyrics on the sleeve itself. It was done in some kind of cut out way: it looked almost like someone typed them, cut out and pasted them on a piece of paper. So this album was really big one for me.

Joni Mitchell – Court and Spark

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.

Bob Dylan – Desire

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”.

Weather Report – Heavy Weather

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 “Teen Town”. It’s as exciting and vibrant at this very second as it was 40 years ago when it came out. You got Joe Zawinul, one of the greatest pianist in the world. Is he Polish? Or Czech? He’s got this “Polishness” about him. The truth, the strength and honesty: “this is what I do”. And it came out in the music. You can hear it in the opening track “Birdland”, where the guy most effectively matched the bass playing to keyboard part and he created this amazing groove. And there are some beautiful songs on there by Wayne Shorter that are just fantastic. And that’s one of my favorite albums.

Thank you Magda and Tomek from the Winylowa recordstore for help with preparing this material.

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