Help me pick out music for a party

I am hosting a party for my wife's 50th birthday party. Most of our guests are the same age and probably same musical tastes: rock from the late 60's 70 and 80's (u2, jackson browne, peter gabriel, etc), jazz (miles, carter, metheny).

It is not a dance party (buffet dinner and few people sitting down) and I would appreciate suggestins for the evening. No disco, no hiphop or rap.


Richard Bischoff

Please don"t take this the wrong way, but is music really necessary for your wife's party ? I of course dont know how many people you have invited to come over, but lets just say that you have 30 people come over, how many are going to want to hear music ? How many would rather just take it easy and socialize ?

For the people trying to listen to music, then the conversations going on might become a distraction, and vice versa. Its almost a no win situation.

What is your wife's opinion , since its her party ?

I am just trying to give you another point of view on this, that might be over-looked.
your wife's backround
Thanks for the valid point Riley. It will be fairly low as background music and shouldn't interfere with the conversations (party will be over 3 rooms with stereo in one room only).

Jaybo, She asked me to pick it out so I will include her favorites but just wanted some additional thoughts that I might overlook.

Hi, Richard.

Personally, the more music I get to hear, the better I like it. Background music at a party makes it much more civilized. But that's just my preference.

HOWEVER, the rock you mentioned doesn't work very well as background music, IMHO. When you turn the volume down to the point that people can easily converse over it, the music is just a distraction, not really an enjoyment.

I'd suggest:

Bryan Ferry "As Time Goes By" if you can find it, with songs by Cole Porter et al. A beauty.

Frank Sinatra "Romance - Songs From the Heart" is GREAT. I've never really been a Sinatra fan, but this CD is changing my mind. It is a remastered complilation of Nelson Riddle arrangements from the 50's and the recording quality is excellent.

Chris Botti "When I Fall in Love" works either as background music OR for serious listening.

Steve Tyrell "Standard Time" is another great CD of familiar standards.

Maybe those choices are too tame for your tastes...

How about a few that refer to birthday.
Beatles, Beach Boys, Elvis, Stones. Hermans Hermits, Buckinghams, Kinks, Who.............look up some hits from the mid to late 60's- early 70's- should bring back many memories for all of you.
Verve has a fantastic 4-CD compilation set out called "A Night Out With Verve." It is divided into "Wining", "Dining", "Dancing" and "Romancing." Great for both background and serious listening with a wonderful array of jazz classics.

You might also check out any of the Rhino "Masters of Jazz" series.

All of the above give you a very nice "mix" without you having to work at it.

Finally, don't overlook your library. I've been visiting the one down the street from my house and have made some pretty interesting finds.
John Coltrane "Ballads" always works for dinner.It can be played low without putting anyone into snooze mode.
Glenn Fry "The Heat is on"
Londonbeat "I've been thinking about you"
Roachford "Family Man"
Peter Gabriel "Sledgehammer"
Tom Petty "Learning to Fly"
Paul McCartney "Live and Let Die"
Beatles "When I'm sixty Four"
Simple Minds "Don't you forget about me"
The Go Go's "Our lips are sealed"
Phil Collins "Against all Odds"
Gary Numan "Cars"
Katrina and the Waves "Walking on Sunshine"
The Bangles "Walk Like an Egyption"
Tommy Tutone "867-5309...I got your number"
Grace Jones "Slave to the Rhythm"
Queen "Crazy little think called love"
Bon Jovi "Wanted Dead or Alive"
The Clash "Rock the Casbah"
David Bowie "Ashes to Ashes"
Aerosmith "Sweet Emotion"
Joan Biaz "Diamonds and Rust"
Average White Band "Pick up the Pieces"
Frank Sinatra "It was a very good year" and "Fly me to the Moon"
Bob Dylan "Man in the long black coat"
Gene Kelly "Singin' in the Rain"
Robbie Williams "Mr Bojangles"
(these last five becuase you liked Jazz - I'd never play pure jazz for a mixed group of guests as it is a sure way to have everyone asleep by 10)
Supremes "You can't Hurry Love"

...I tried to stick with stuff that Women will like and songs that marked their time (but were not overplayed). No point playing too much U2 perhaps "I still haven't found what I'm looking for" but the early stuff is a bit "rebellious" for a buffet dinner party...better in a smokey pub drinking guinesses.
Richard, how about a little piano in the background --

Bill Evans -- Conversations with Myself or Waltz for Debby
A few more thoughts on period background music;

Al Green,
Steely Dan,
Boz Scaggs,
Eagles/Don Henley, also

I have to second Frank Sinatra "Romance - Songs From the Heart" as an outstanding recording - you can buy it at Starbucks,

Finally, when things start to boogie, throw on Billy Idol's Greatest Hits.

Have a fun party!
Here ya go overnite it and your in biz.
"Big Balls" by AC/DC
Pay more attention to the mood you want to create than worrying about a particular genre. If the main activity is expected to be conversation, pick something upbeat, but not too rocking or distracting. I find Dave Mattews perfect for this. Mellow enough to be able to talk over, intersting enough to listen to if someone gets bored with the conversation, jazzy enough to sound sophisticated, and generally upbeat and happy.
Also, NEVER LET THE MUSIC STOP!! I'v seen several times when the music stops and people start leaving before the host can put another disc in. It struck me as strange. Even if they don't leave, they will feel the change in mood, and feellet down (if you chose well), or relieved (if you chose poorly or played too loudly). You really want to keep the volume down very low.
Try This,

Koop (name of artists) "Koop Islands".

It's found in the electronica section of HMV etc, but it isn't dance or electronic music.

On the cover, it says (paraphrasing)... "music reminiscent of 1930's swing/big band era that can be heard in the dining hall of a liner while on a cruise in the Caribbean"... or something to that effect.

The first track: Koop Island Blues is awesome. Most of the tracks is sultry female vocals with rhythmic brush ride cymbals in the background.. and an airy summer Caribbean flavor.... upbeat and interesting.
If you're open to something more exotic, Cafe Hammam from EMI is a collection of relaxed middle eastern music, mostly acoustic; piano, sax, violin. Not bombastic like much middle eastern pop music (which I love, too), but suave and sophisticated.
I also like the sound of Elf73's suggestion, although I've never heard it. His description makes it sound perfect
You say that most people are in your age group and probably share your tastes,so unless you are hiring a DJ, play the music you own and know. I would probably play lighter, happier music from the time periods you cited. Use the "Big Chill" as a guide. Definitely throw in some 60's Motown.
When you want to end the party just put on "Escalator Over the Hill" and act like you're really getting into the "groove". I works. Trust me.
Thanks for all the responses. When I worked at a record store in the late 70's Rockadanny, I used to put on Ornette Coleman at closing time. Worked every time.

I have lots of experience with this sort of thing. I'd suggest no vocals to compete with the conversations unless someone specifically asks.

Ry Cooder & Manuel Galbán-Mambo Sinuendo(I think 2 tracks have vocals).

John Fahey-America

Michael Hedges-Aerial Boundaries

Miles Davis-In A Silent Way

Japancakes-If I Could See Dallas

Global Communication-76:14

Soundtrack-The Straight Story

There are tons more but these are mostly non-intrusive but engaging if you want them to be.
Tord Gustavsen Trio-Being There is fantastic...forgot that one.
Play any type of blues music. Everyone in our age category loves some good Chicago electric blues. Collections from Alligator & Blind Pig as a start.
How about Blue Note plays Stevie Wonder? Not great jazz (nor even great Stevie Wonder) but it might be an appropriate compilation for the party you describe.

Good Luck,

Van Morrison, Bonnie Raitt, John Martyn, J.J. Cale
Rbischoff: The moment I read your question, I knew
your were gonna open up a big ass can of chocolate worms.
You did it!
Enjoy your wife's 50th bday bash, buddy.
Wow..I'm 56 and don't consider it a party without dancing (but then my wife has been teaching ballroom and Latin dance for 25 years).
The few 50 parties I've been to that had music playing, that wasn't obtrusive, yet not invisible;

Steely Dan - anything
Spyra Gyra - anything
Well Thanks for everyone's help. Everyone had a great time and only one person had a comment on the music.

The Line up U2 Joshua Tree playing when guests arrived.
Van Morrison Live album from San Francisco (1 cd only)
Roger Eno - between tides
Tom Russell - Modern Art (3 songs)
John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman
Ricki Lee Jones - It's Like This
Bootleg of recent winwood clapton concer.

Thanks for all of you ideas. It was a terrific party and my wife had a great time until this morning.

Have fun and I learned a lot.

Richard Bischoff
Towards the end, put on Van Morrison "Into the Music" It'll get 'em dancing every time.