Including this album makes me wonder why Bonnie Raitt's Nick of Time was included earlier. Ronstadt really brings it in most of the ways that Bonnie Raitt is accoladed for 14 years later on Nick of Time.
Quite frankly, I'm surprised by how much I think this album kicks ass. It's tight. It's really motherfucking tight. The song craft is astounding. It's listenable. I could honestly listen to this all day.
489 Phil Spector and Various Artists - Back to Mono (1958-1969) (1991)
Okay, the title to this one fucks up the way I've been listing these which pisses me off. So let's get that out of the way.
And let's also address that including this "album" is cheating. It's not an album so much as a boxed set retrospective of various music produced by Phil Spector.
And some of the music is represented elsewhere, e.g. the Ronettes.
This also may be the only effort included by a convicted murderer.
With all that out of the way, this is a lot. Four discs, mostly from the early sixties with a spattering of songs from 1966-1969.
I get wanting to honor Spector in his own right. And I get wanting to spotlight some of the artists like Curtis Lee and Darlene Love that don't have albums of their own on this list. But this seems out of place to me.
And there is less breadth in style that I would like to see. The songs tend to be very repetitive in structure and style.
At least one song I couldn't bear to listen to all the way like the forthright nod to domestic violence, He Hit Me (And It Felt Like a Kiss). Musically that selection is one of the most interesting on disc 1. But I couldn't stomach the contents.
My initial impression was that at the end of the day if you like the sub genre of "oldies" that focuses on pop rock like Da Doo Ron Ron, you might want to give it a spin. For disc 1, that's pretty much my take away. Disc 3 may be the most musically interesting, Discs 1 and 3 are both Ronettes and Crystals heavy. Disc 3 adds Ike and Tina Turner (let's add a wife beater to the murderer!) as well as The Righteous Brothers. Disc 4 is all Christmas songs. I really fucking hate Christmas songs.
488 The Stooges - The Stooges (1969)
OMFG boy were the first strains of wah-wah in 1969 kicking off this album was a welcome antidote to 4 hours of Phil Spector produced "oldies".
Disclaimer, This is one of my most frequently listened to albums. Turn on any rock station and the first or second song you hear will have echoes of one track or the other on this disc. It really is an amazing album and the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
Along with The Who, The Stooges are the godfathers of punk rock. Some folks think Raw Power is the seminal album for punk, but really this is it. It has THE ATTITUDE. It has the sound. It has zero fucks given.
Relistening to it this morning, I'm reminded of just how much I love it. It's subversive. It's perverse.
487 Black Flag - Damaged (1981)
Let me preface this by saying that stylistically I fucking hate Rollins era Black Flag.
And let me follow that up that by saying that Rollins era Black Flag was a huge propagator for rape culture with songs like Slip in In.
You say you don't want it
You don't want it
Say you don't want it
Then you slip it on in
In, in, in
My introduction to Black Flag was their "greatest hits" album Wasted. It has a few songs later rerecorded with Rollins for Damaged. You can find most of the tracks that would later become Damaged on the Six Pack and Everything Went Black. Or various Circle Jerks albums in the case of Morris. In every case I like the Keith Morris, Ron Reyes, or Dez Cadena versions much better.
This album almost certainly belongs on this list just for its influence on later punk acts. But I almost never listen to it. When I want me some Flag, I'll queue up Wasted.
This is the first album I repeatedly hit the skip button on after about 30 seconds of many of the songs. The one I listened to all the way through were mostly to see if I could tell how the song was altered since Morris/Reyes/Cadena was behind the mic.
486 John Mayer - Continuum (2006)
I have a friend who is a huge John Mayer fan. I have almost nothing in common with regards to musical tastes with that friend. And where things seem like they might overlap, they don't. For example, this friend and I both like Pink Floyd. But all the albums he really likes (like The Final Cut) are albums I'm not very fond of.
So it was with a bit of trepidation that I spun this disc up.
My first impression is that it's more than a little bit funky and world beaty than the typical soft rockish pop album. There's also a little bit of New Wave influence woven in. I can see why my John Mayer fan friend is a fan. Musically there are a lot of things going on, especially if you're a lyricist or guitarist of which my John Mayer fan friend is both.
I wouldn't quite put this album as pure pop or easy listening. Soft rock feels right. I can imagine a lot of too rich, too white frat boys and sorority girls using this album as background music for make out sessions.
The song craft is pretty tight. It's not like a lot of soft rock that makes me want to shove knitting needles into my ears to destroy what's left of my hearing. I'm not sure I'd ever put this music on intentionally but I certainly wouldn't object if a friend queued it up during a road trip or came over to say "Hey, lm, you gotta listen to this!"
I did really like one track near the end, In Repair.
485 Richard and Linda Thompson - I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight (1974)
This album was not anywhere close to being on my radar. (It should have been - who hasn't heard of Fairport Convention that Richard Thompson helped found?) But as the first track spun up (I Can't Wait to Get to the Border) it instantly reminded me of dozens of college rock, alt-country, folk rock, and alternative bands through the years. I can see why it's on this list.
That observation about its influences is not the only reason I can see why it's on the list. The deeper I got into this album, the more I liked it. It kept my attention the duration. Funny it should come right after John Mayer. There are a lot of stylistic similarities. But after listening to Mayer, this sounds so elegant and complex. If this album had come first in the list, Mayer would have seemed childish and simplistic.
There seems to be a lot of middle-eastern influence in the guitar playing even if most of the music draws on a more traditional Irish/English format.
Some of the songs (like We Sing Hallelujah) I can imagine Shane MacGowan trying to play and sing while drunk and it comes out as The Pogues. I have to remember to put this one in my playlist. It's lit.
I'd really like to hear this duo cover By the Way by RHCP.
484 Lady Gaga - Born This Way (2011)
I don't listen to the radio all that much. When I do it's not usually the type of station that will play Lady Gaga. I go to clubs much, much less frequently than I listen to the radio. Most of my experience of Lady Gaga has been seeing the one episode of SNL where she guest hosted.
So I was unprepared for this sonic onslaught. It's hella tight. It's as if someone took the most danceable electronica of the 80s and overlaid it with a pop aesthetic and really tight production. It shows all the musical idioms and production tricks that generations of EDM composers have used over the decades. It's lit.
Not to mention Lady Gaga's pipes. She can sing, really sing. I could probably listen to this all day. My favorite track is probably Americano with its Latin influenced beats. But the whole thing is incredibly listenable. Easily the best album on this list so far that I didn't know about before starting the project.
483 Muddy Waters - The Anthology (2001)
Uhm. Yeah. More cheating by means of retrospective. Muddy Waters is certainly one of the most influential musicians from the US. I mean how many other artists have someone like Billy Gibbons (ZZ Top) harvest wood from their childhood homes to make guitars?
And delta blues is a really great genre, albeit one I find that I have to be in one of a few specific moods for. So here I am faced with a 50 song set list - almost three hours of music - reprising the entire career of Muddy Waters. Initially, I was thinking about bailing on this. Especially on the early tracks there is a whole lot of the wrong kinds of distortion and I find it hurting my ears at higher volumes (part of my hearing impairment is that certain pitches in the high range physically hurt). This anthology starts with releases in the 40s. It's likely the quality of the original masters is the culprit here.
After turning the volume down to the point where it's almost background music, it became a whole lot more enjoyable. And, frankly, perfect music to listen to on a rainy Saturday afternoon when I'm stuck working for The Man because I haven't gotten everything I need to have done by Monday morning done.
This would be a superb addition to a juke box if juke boxes were still playing physical discs rather than streaming from teh Intarwebs. And the collection itself is certainly an achievement of blues history and notable in its own regard. But I don't find the album itself that notable or influential.
But if you just need to add Muddy Waters to your catalog, it's a great single addition. Muddy Waters certainly deserves to be on this list. I just don't know if this is the best way to represent his legacy on a list like this.
All that said, if you don't know who Muddy Waters is, you could listen to this.
482 The Pharcyde - Bizarre Ride II the Pharcyde (1992)
Hip hop has always been a genre that I've never gotten around to getting into. Part of the greatness of the genre is the clever turn of lyrics and rhymes. And, well, I'm always lost on that. I have very poor word discrimination for sung/chanted voices. For the most part rappers might as well be speaking Greek to me.
That doesn't mean I don't like some hip hop. I'm a huge fan of Arrested Development, Public Enemy, Outkast, and some others. But I don't "get" most of the songs by virtue of the voices all sounding like just another guitar or what have you.
Same thing with Pharcyde. Their lyrics go over my head. But the beats are thick. The mellow rhythms do verily kick some ass. I can see myself listening to this album a whole lot down the road.
And I give them mad props for naming a song "Oh, Shit".
481 Belle and Sebastian - If You’re Feeling Sinister (1996)
Belle and Sebastian is one of those bands that a lot of my friends in high school and college were into that I never got. Part of that was certainly my hearing. Listening to them now with the sound piped straight into my hearing aids that correct wave forms to "normal", I can kind of see the attraction.
They have clever rhymes and a certain ebb and flow of rhythm, basically white rap. Stand out song for me was If You Want to Be Sinister. The themes involved and rhyming sinister with minister was clever. Most of the rest of they lyrics I couldn't really understand.
While I can see why some folks might like this outfit, I don't see why it's an especially influential band or why the album is so important. At best they seem like a low rent Magnetic Fields to me.
|< Four. | Today is the 27th Day of September >|