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#460: Elton John by Elton John

1.31.2011


Elton John by Elton John (1970)

Favorite Track(s): "Your Song" and "I Need You to Turn To" and "First Episode at Hienton" and "Sixty Years On" and "The Greatest Discovery"

Thoughts: All the bad feelings are melting away... "Your Song" alone is a fluffy, warm, safe, loving paradise for the spirit, as anyone with ears can tell you. Honestly, I want to marry this song and retire to the country with it and 2 cats.

I had never heard "I Need You to Turn To" before and Holy. Shit. I can't get over how gorgeous it is. Listening to it feels like flying over mist-covered mountains on the back of a unicorn, headed to your fairy prince/ss.

"Take Me to the Pilot" is a rock-soul gem. The strings! The piano! The funk guitar! "No Shoe Strings on Louise" country-feel reminded me of Loggins & Messina, so of course it was great. "First Episode at Hienton" is a Leonard-Cohen-esque beauty of a song, and makes me want to change my name to Valerie. And "Sixty Years On"? How have I never heard this song? HOW? Luscious, haunting, breath-taking. Listen to it as loud as you can, and with both earphones in (if you need to use headphones).

"Border Song" gave me serious chills--full-fledged, rocking gospel. "The Greatest Discovery"? Pure joy--the lyrics here are incredible as well. If you have a sibling (or even if you don't)--listen to it. His quiet humming at the end? Glorious. "The Cage" is supa-funky, and "The King Must Die" made me think this album must never end. Some of the lyrics:

And if my hands are stained forever
And the altar should refuse me
Would you let me in, would you let me in, would you let me in
Should I cry sanctuary

Ok, I'm calling it like I said I would: ELTON JOHN IS THE GREATEST ALBUM OF ALL TIME. I should give it all up now--this is the best there is. Or, every album from #459 on better melt my ears off in beauty or I. Will. Raise. Hell.

(I wanted to wait until I could listen to this album at home, as I'm fairly certain I have it on vinyl, but after the crap-fest I was forced to endure at #461, I needed some healing 70s singer-songwriting, and STAT. So the plan is to re-listen this evening on the old turntable for optimum quality.)

#461: Metal Box by Public Image Ltd.


Metal Box by Public Image Ltd. (1979)

Favorite Track(s): For the first time, I HAVE NONE

Thoughts: (Pre-Listening) I'm very excited to listen to this album because "Rise" is a fantastic song, so I have high hopes for this band's other work (even if that particular song isn't on Metal Box). I haven't listened to much Sex Pistols, but from "Rise" alone, I am shocked that Johnny Rotten (Lydon) could sound so...so pop! Anyway, we'll see if this album is anything like it, as it was released quite a few years previously.

(Post-Listening) Quite...experimental. But experimental in that 'we-just-went-into-the-studio-and-tinkered-around-with-no-vision-or-talent' way rather than the 'changing-the-face-of-music' sense of the word. "Albatross" was almost totally unlistenable and much too long. Like, if I met someone who listened to it on any kind of regular basis, I would severely worry about their mental state. There's even a line in the lyrics that says, 'I know you very well / you are unbearable' and all I can think is, oh, you're one to talk.

"Memories" was better, in that it was half the length of "Albatross." "Swan Lake" was also unendurable, and I couldn't finish it due to the Tchaikovsky's sampled score giving me creepy Black Swan flashbacks! "Poptones" started out promising musically, only to be joined by the sound of someone snorting something and then the whole song dissolving into lyrical rubbish. As for the rest, they've made me too numb to dissect, except for the last one, "Radio 4" which sounded like a 1980s video game score and so was at least not soul-crushing, just bland.

Literally, if I had never heard "Rise" before listening to this album I would have said this band should never have been allowed to make any more music, ever. But clearly they must have somehow gotten better...maybe they made a deal with Satan? Bottom line: this album shouldn't have touched this list with a ten-foot pole, much less at #461. BARF.

Elton John is up next and all I can say is, thank you, Jesus. This list currently has me in a musical wasteland and desperate for something wonderful. I'll end up heralding Elton John as the greatest album of all time after listening to this non-music.

Note about album cover: The album did actually come in a metal box like the one pictured--not just an image of one. If I'm ever gifted it, I will chuck the record and use the case as a pizza stone.

#462: Document by R.E.M.


Document by R.E.M. (1987)

Favorite Track(s): "It's the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)" and "The One I Love" and "King of Birds"

Thoughts: Well, this is my first time listening to anything on Grooveshark, a free music-streaming website. They didn't have a couple of the songs, which made me revert back to using Youtube, so maybe in the future I'll listen there first and then use Grooveshark in special cases.

In general I've always liked Michael Stipe and R.E.M., but this was my first non-music video or radio listen (besides "Everybody Hurts" which I of course own, as every human being should).

The album was just alright to me--I mostly just liked the hits and "King of Birds." I'm fairly certain this isn't the last of R.E.M. on this list, and that's fine, but I am certain this particular album did NOT belong as far up as #462. Maybe it was revolutionary at its release and I'm just too familiar with their style, but on this first listen I didn't see the big appeal.

#500 - #463: Personal Favorites


Hi there! A few people have asked me to give a quick rundown of my favorite albums from the Rolling Stone 500, so when they are looking for new music, they don't have to go back through every single post. The tag for these 'best of' posts will be 'the rest is shit' because it is hyperbolic and sarcastic (and untrue, in most cases).

I've listened to 37 albums, so I will pick a top 10 for you. These are albums I recommend you check out (if you haven't already), and feel free to click on the links if you want to know my top songs.

1) Tunnel of Love by Bruce Springsteen (totally biased as I've loved this one for ages, so I can't really tell if it's immediately likable to first-time listeners. If you hate it, then just chalk it up to my sentimentality.)
2) The Score by The Fugees
3) I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight by Richard and Linda Thompson
4) Maggot Brain by Funkadelic
5) Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness by The Smashing Pumpkins
6) She's So Unusual by Cyndi Lauper
7) Destroyer by KISS
8) Give it Up by Bonnie Raitt
9) The Stone Roses by The Stone Roses
10) The Smiths by The Smiths

Honorable Mention: A Rush of Blood to the Head by Coldplay

Happy listening! I'm off to album #462.

Song of the morning.

1.28.2011



"I Want to Go to Marz" by John Grant (feat. Midlake).

#463: Heaven Up Here by Echo & the Bunnymen

1.27.2011


Heaven Up Here by Echo & the Bunnymen (1981)

Favorite Track(s): "I Promise" and "All My Colours" and "Turquoise Days"

Thoughts: I was about to get a little crazy, internet, when I saw this band was next on this list. For the usual reason: I HAVE NEVER HEARD OF THEM. Ergo, how truly awesome can their album be, since it's not even widely known? But I'm not going to go crazy, internet, because then I learned they are British, which covers a multitude of sins. It also makes it more understandable as to why I have never heard of them, but clearly the hoards of British musicians, critics, and producers who voted on this list have. Also, I like British stuff, so I'm going to allow it.

Ah, post-punk, we meet again. Sometimes this album reminded me of The Smiths, the Cure, The Doors, and U2. Which you'd think meant I liked it a lot. But instead it made me want to listen to those bands instead. Oh, well!

#464: Hysteria by Def Leppard


Hysteria by Def Leppard (1987)

Favorite Track(s): "Animal" and "Pour Some Sugar on Me" and "Gods of War"

Thoughts: First, I need to admit total ignorance regarding Def Leppard. I had no clue they were British. And, this album was produced by Shania Twain's former husband, Robert John 'Mutt' Lange.

I don't think I ever considered 'hair bands' to be heavy metal. Are they, or is that just what they consider themselves to be? And does this classify as classic rock? For some reason I always assume that 80s rock is too early to be considered 'classic.'

Second, I did not really care for this album when it started. I thought it was just Ok. But the longer I listened, the more I liked it. Which basically means I think the first 2 tracks don't lend very much to the album and can be skipped over completely.

This is the second time I've ever assumed that a song titled "Love and Affection" is the same one I heard JC Chasez sing on MMC. But that one is by the twin songs of Ricky Nelson, and not the songs of the same title by Joan Armatrading and Def Leppard. Consistently disappointing, that is. (Though for the record, Joan's song is probably the best one I've heard of the 3.)

I watched some of their music videos, and they look they were probably very fun to see live. Steve Clark is my new favorite rock guitarist, as the man's a freaking tornado. It's sad that he died so young (...as per usual when that happens).

#465: A Rush of Blood to the Head by Coldplay

1.26.2011


A Rush of Blood to the Head by Coldplay (2002)

Favorite Track(s): "Politik" and "The Scientist" and "Green Eyes" and "Warning Sign" and "A Rush of Blood to the Head"

Thoughts: (Pre-listening) Wow, Coldplay is farther up on this list than I expected them to be. I mean, I'm not necessarily surprised to see them on the list, but just this far into it. Then again, I've never listened to this whole album before, so I am prepared to want to worship at the feet of this band when I'm finished with this record, OR ELSE. (Prejudice: my freshman year of college there was this guy always hanging around my roommate who adored Coldplay and he was one of the most frustratingly self-absorbed, emotional fuckwits I have ever met. So I'm going in with that too.)

(Post-listening) *Sigh* I give in. This album is very, very good. "The Scientist" remains one of the most re-listenable songs I've ever heard, and applicable to almost any human heartache you'd care to apply to it. And if you have someone in your life who when they hear "Warning Sign" or "Green Eyes", think of you, you are a very lucky person.

#466: Live in Europe by Otis Redding


Live in Europe by Otis Redding (1967)

Favorite Track(s): "Shake" and "These Arms of Mine" and "Try A Little Tenderness"

Thoughts: This man's voice makes my skin tingle. So much energy and passion. It was difficult to track down the specific tracks from this album, so I mostly listened to live cuts of the songs from the same year. I don't think I knew he died of a plane crash in 1967. So sad. This definitely made me order a collection of his music from my library. It also made me want to re-watch that scene from Pretty in Pink.

#467: Tunnel of Love by Bruce Springsteen

1.25.2011


Tunnel of Love by Bruce Springsteen (1987)

Favorite Track(s): "Tougher Than the Rest" and "Walk Like A Man" and 'Tunnel of Love" and "Brilliant Disguise" and "One Step Up" and "When You're Alone"

Thoughts: Ahem. How is this album all the way down at 467? I don't understand. That's it. Every album from 466 to 1 better--to borrow a phrase from a close friend--"make me want to rip off all my clothes, fly into the sky, and turn into the sun." Because I LOVE this album. I even named my tumblr after it.

I discovered it in the CD shelves of my childhood home after watching Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band - Live in New York City with my dad. I suddenly had to scour the man's discography. While Tunnel of Love made it to #1 on the charts, it is arguably the album Bruce sings from least in his tours, and as you can see from its ranking on this list, not considered his best work. It's an album of heartache and loneliness, born from his failing marriage to actress Julianne Phillips (they got married in my hometown!). And I looooooove it. Every single song.

I'm not sure what it is... This album was his first studio venture after the major commercial success of Born in the U.S.A. and isn't considered a E Street Band record, and you can tell (even though they all played on different songs--just sparingly). But this might be his only non-E-Street album where I don't really miss them. Ghost of Tom Joad and Nebraska never appealed to me much, but this album is like a slice of 80s pop-rock-love-songs-heaven. I first knew "Tougher Than the Rest" from a cover by Everything But the Girl, and it's literally one of my favorite songs of all time. I'd karaoke it if I didn't know my voice could never do it justice.

"Cautious Man." On his right hand Billy tattooed the word love and on his left hand was the word fear / And in which hand he held his fate was never clear. UGH. All of the lyrics to "Tunnel of Love." I can feel the soft silk of your blouse / And them soft thrills in our little fun house / Then the lights go out and it's just the three of us / You me and all that stuff we're so scared of. "One Step Up" is one of my favorite songs to sing along to.

For some reason the the electronic keyboards and effects of the album don't bother me, but instead fit right with the music. It doesn't seem dated, or if it does, in a nostalgic way. Which is sort of hilarious, because I was probably still in diapers when this album came out.

This is the perfect album to listen to when you're single and start looking at couples and married life with too-rosy glasses ( until you get to "When You're Alone" and then you'll feel jealous of them again). There are themes of weddings/brides, driving out of town for good, deceptive lovers, and the struggle between wanting romantic relationships and yet how difficult they can be.

#468: The Paul Butterfield Blues Band by The Paul Butterfield Blues Band


The Paul Butterfield Blues Band by The Paul Butterfield Blues Band (1965)

Favorite Track(s): "Shake Your Money-Maker" and "Thank You Mr. Poobah" and "I Got My Mojo Working"

Thoughts: (Pre-Listening) I HAVE NEVER HEARD OF THIS BAND. I know that's not the first time that's happened on this list, and it's not like I consider myself to know about every musical act that's ever existed, but I guess I thought I would know the artists who had released the top 500 albums of all time! Which is quite pretentious and arrogant of me, I know. Especially since there are whole genres of music that I hardly ever peruse (like, for instance, this band's genre: Blues.)

But I've watched VH1 documentaries and countdowns! And taken a Survey of Popular Music class! And my APUS history research paper was on Elvis Presley for fudge's sake! I've even watched the Woodstock documentary AND a documentary ABOUT the Woodstock documentary! And yet today's band apparently played at Woodstock. I'm skeptical.

(Post-listening) Ok, I should have heard of this band. They're really good. I've been humbled by the Blues. This is for sure the oldest album we've had yet, unless you count some of the songs on Loretta Lynn's greatest hits album. Anyway, makes me want to watch The Blues Brothers.

And yes, they were at Woodstock. Just not in the film, along with CCR and the Dead! But you should still see it if you haven't, despite the appalling omissions.

#469: The Score by the Fugees


The Score by the Fugees (1996)

Favorite Song(s): "Ready or Not" and "Killing Me Softly" and "No Woman, No Cry" and "Fu-Gee-La (Refugee Camp Remix)"

Thoughts: I'll be honest with you guys. I owned Lauryn Hill's solo work, but the only Fugees music I ever owned...was from Elmopalooza. But! I absolutely know and recognize most of The Score. And I'm actually surprised how low Rolling Stone put this on the list!

The album mostly just reminded me how fantastic Lauryn is. The songs would be good, but then when you hear her verses or singing, it's just elevated to perfection. She is so gifted. And it's nice to hear a female rapper on the list too!

Epic album, seems as fresh as when released.

#470: Radio by LL Cool J

1.24.2011


Radio by LL Cool J (1985)

Favorite Track(s): "Dear Yvette" and "Rock the Bells"

Thoughts: (Pre-listening) I'll be honest, guys. All I want to do right now is listen to the Evening Primrose soundtrack. This means I'm in the mood for melancholy showtunes. So if I don't end up loving this LL Cool J album, that might give you an insight into why. And now I'm all irrationally angry about their potentially being zero show/OBC recordings on this list. Harrumph.

(Post-listening) Yeah, I should have waited to listen to this one until tomorrow. For some reason starting out the morning with rap makes much more sense to me than any other time of day. Classic hip-hop and loads better than most emceeing you might hear today, but it fell on unappreciative ears this evening. I am old enough to remember LL Cool J as a rapper rather than an actor, but I didn't realize he had been on the scene this early on... I wish I could come up with something more interesting to say...Oh! When I saw one of the tracks was called "That's A Lie" I thought of two things: John Lennon singing 'that's a liiiiiie' in "No Reply" and then Mark singing 'that's a lie, that's a lie, I had a tea the other day' in RENT. Really. That's all I have to offer.

This is a record I'll file away for the day I start my Old School Hip-Hop phase.

#471: I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight by Richard and Linda Thompson


I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight by Richard and Linda Thompson (1974)

Favorite Track(s): "When I Get to the Border" and "The Calvary Cross" and "Withered and Died" and "I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight" and "Has He Got a Friend For Me"

Thoughts: (Pre-listening) First, I LOVE the album name and cover. Second, I have only ever heard of Richard and Linda Thompson because I am a big fan of their son Teddy's music. Needless to say, I have über-high hopes for this album based on those facts.

(Post-listening) I'll give you a sampling of some of my favorite lyrics from the album:

And I’ll hurt you ‘till you need me

This cruel country has driven me down / teased me and lied, teased me and lied / I’ve only sad stories to tell to this town / my dreams have withered and died

Meet me at the station don’t be late / I need to spend some money and it just won’t wait / Take me to the dance and hold me tight / I want to see the bright lights tonight

Saturday night and I’m all alone / no ring on the door bell, no ring on the phone / and nobody wants to know anyone lonely like me / Your boy friend’s good looking, he’s got it all there / He looks like God made him with something to spare / You look good together, scurrying off down the street

Life seems so rosy in the cradle / but I’ll be a friend, I’ll tell you what’s in store / There’s nothing at the end of the rainbow / there’s nothing to grow up for anymore

While quite depressing, this album was incredible. I've been longing for some folk on this list and Richard and Linda DELIVERED. I wish I had known about this album sooner. Sooo good.

Here's an awesome picture of them from 1982:

Song of the day.



"Take Me to the World" by Theresa McCarthey and Neil Patrick Harris. It's from Sondheim's musical Evening Primrose, which was written specifically for television. Kj (who introduced me to it) brought over the original 1966 television broadcast (available on Netflix) this weekend for us to watch.

It's really, really good and weird and heart-wrenching. Plus, it stars Anthony Perkins (Norman Bates) and Charmian Carr (Liesl von Trapp)!

#472: Faith by George Michael


Faith by George Michael (1987)

Favorite Track(s): "Faith" (of course)

Thoughts: Question: is he sniffing his armpit in this picture? Bold choice.

For some reason I expected to be really impressed by this album, and walk away from it feeling like I finally understood all the fuss about George Michael. I had faith. (Get it? Cheesy.)

But I still don't really get it. The music was just what I expected, and while by no means bad, it still wasn't this revelation of an awesome artist that I've always missed out on. But maybe more of his albums will show up here for me to try.

Maybe if I was listening to it in 1987? Who knows. The voice and lyrics seem strong, but the production seems soooo dated.

#473: The Smiths by The Smiths

1.21.2011


The Smiths by The Smiths (1984)

Favorite Track(s): "Reel Around the Fountain" and "I Don't Owe You Anything" and "Suffer Little Children"

Thoughts: Ok, THIS album was more what I was in the mood for today. Sorry, Elvis Costello. Some days are just good days for Morrissey. (Or The Smiths in this case. I've never actually listened to any of his solo work.)

Have I mentioned I like it when debut albums are self-titled? Mostly just for bands, not individual artists, though I don't know why I would make that distinction.

Side notes before I talk about the album: If you enjoy The Smiths, you should totally see Blackpool. (Which might be hard if you live in the U.S. and don't have a region 2 DVD player. If we're friends then just let me know if you want to see it...) If you don't like the Smiths (or do and can handle people making fun of them) you should watch Mystery Science Theater 3000 (well, you should do that no matter what you like), specifically this scene:



Mike actually looks a lot like Morrissey. "Is it wrong not to always be glad?"

Right, the album. It made me feel like tonight I should go out to a party or bar, drink too much and then pine after someone awkwardly. Which means I loved it!

#474: Armed Forces by Elvis Costello and the Attractions


Armed Forces by Elvis Costello and the Attractions (1979)

Favorite Track(s): "Accidents Will Happen" and "Green Shirt" and "Goon Squad"

Thoughts: (I listened to the original LP track listing)

I really enjoyed this album. Most of the political references were way over my head (the original album name was Emotional Fascism) but really great Brit-rock pop songs.

Sometimes I was reminded of Bruce Springsteen, and "Party Girl" totally reminded me of the end of "I Want You (She's So Heavy)" by The Beatles.

I think is an album I'll need to re-visit. I'm not sure I was fully in the mood to engage it today. But onward in the list!

#475: Life After Death by The Notorious B.I.G.

1.20.2011


Life After Death by The Notorious B.I.G. (1997)

Favorite Track(s): "Hypnotize" and "Kick in the Door" and "I Love the Dough" and "Mo Money Mo Problems" and "Going Back to Cali"

Thoughts: Biggie is another artist I only knew through my MTV/VH1 education. I'd seen his Behind the Music and some of his videos or heard his songs on the radio. (Also, I remember some of my youth group leaders telling me his and Tupac's deaths were fabricated, and they were living together somewhere in Ireland.)

I liked this album musically, but lyrically it still had so much violence and misogyny that some songs were very hard to listen to.

During one rhyme I literally thought: "Ooh, he could have used 'Marvin Hamlisch' to rhyme with that as well," which basically shows you how qualified I am to be critical of this album. Bottom line: I was impressed by his rhymes and delivery, and the samples were used really well, but the content itself might keep me from re-visiting.

Song of the day.



"Louisiana Woman and Mississippi Man" by Loretta Lynn and Conway Twitty.

#476: Branded Man by Merle Haggard

1.19.2011


Branded Man by Merle Haggard (1967)

Favorite Track(s): "Don't Get Married" and "My Hands Are Tied"

Thoughts: Two country albums in a row. Not cool, Rolling Stone. NOT COOL. Fortunately classic country songs are rarely over 3 minutes long. I mean...this is Americana history that I both respect and adore! (But mostly just respect.)

This music is nice and definitely quality, but eventually the songs just started to blend together, and the lyrics got repetitive, and I started dozing off. Sorry, Merle. If I were drunk, alone in a bar somehow down South, this would be perfect.

Also, the title made me want to sing Lord, I was born a branded maaa-aaan...

#477: All-Time Greatest Hits by Loretta Lynn


All-Time Greatest Hits by Loretta Lynn (2002)

Favorite Track(s): "After the Fire is Gone" and "Rated X" and "Louisiana Woman and Mississippi Man"

Thoughts: Finally! Another woman!

Did you know Shel Silverstein was a songwriter? He wrote her song "One's On the Way"! I had no idea.

Anyway, I looove her voice, and I really like her with Conway Twitty, but the songs themselves often left something to be desired for me. Like, she sings about 'devil women' a lot and how they keep tempting her man and messing with her happy home.

A song here or there about that is fine, but holy cow, it's a BIG theme in her music. And I just want to say to her, "Another option would be picking a man who isn't going to cheat on you, so you don't have to keep bitching about or threatening these other women." (I do realize that this has more to do with song-writing at the time than Loretta herself. It just got old fast is all.)

Anyway, great classic country, and a wonderful singer. (I still prefer Patsy Cline. Apparently they were best friends.)

Instinct is stronger than reason--it's just human nature to me!

1.18.2011

This post has been a long time coming. I've only recently felt comfortable sharing this part of myself with others. It comes from a dark, shallow, shameful place within. But I trust you, dear reader, to understand. And to forgive.

There are a few things that I consider to be part of who I am. My values. One of which, is a feminist who can't stand how the prevailing culture expects all women to be skeletons with Double-D breasts. Another is a usually-hopping-on-the-bandwagon-after-everyone-else-connoisseur of quality pop culture. Relishing media that teaches us about the human condition, shows us redemptive stories that speak truth into our lives with top-notch writing, acting, and production values, leaving us moved, forever changed and indelibly marked by transformative artistic perfection.

Which is why it's difficult for me to confess...that I fucking love Baywatch.



I totally loved my Baywatch Barbie back in '95. I've pretended to run in slow motion and dive headfirst into surf as if victims awaited my rescue of them. It's a personal goal of mine to some day karaoke "I'm Always Here." One-piece bathing suits are my friend.

I know what you're thinking. 'Maryann, that show is total crap. It's just a showcase for hot air-heads to over-act and make out with each other in cheesy 90s music montages.' First of all, the montages are like, the best part. Secondly, they may be hot and stupid, but DAMMIT THEY RISK THEIR LIVES EVERY DAY OUT THERE ON THOSE BEACHES FOR US, AND IF YOU CAN'T GIVE A--I mean...that's just looking at the surface of Baywatch. Look deeper, and you'll find plot-lines dealing with juvenile delinquency, broken homes, abuse, drugs, homelessness, body image, and caring for the environment. And that's just in the first season!

My decision to re-visit the show came from seeing David Hasselhoff on the Friday Night Project. I somehow always knew that Baywatch was something to mock, but growing up I would watch re-run marathons of the show, mostly for that brief period when my dad got cable so he could watch the America's Cup, and when we would visit my grandma's beach house. Now the show had a nostalgia to it, and I thought I'd like to see it from the beginning. Especially since I've played "I'm Always Here" for people constantly as an adult, arguing it to be in the top greatest TV theme songs of all time.

So far, the first season has been great. Somehow, without all the blondes (there's only one right now, and they seem to be playing her against type, thank God) there's a lot less exploitative camera angles and a lot more serious, hard-hitting rescue and psychological drama than I remember. When I get to the Pamela Anderson/Yasmine Bleeth, etc. seasons, we'll see if the show continues to feel very ridiculous or if it nose-dives into the utterly insane.

So you might have noticed how much I love "I'm Always Here" by Jimi Jamison (of the band Survivor). Well, then you can imagine my disgust when all of the episodes on my netflix DVDs do NOT have this song playing during the opening intro and credits. A quick google search informed me that the crap version I was listening to was by Peter Cetera of Chicago fame. Naturally, ever since I learned this I've been be-moaning his existence and his crap song to anyone who would listen. I also told people that I mute the TV, bring up youtube and listen to "I'm Always Here" for each episode so as not ruin the experience for me. My dad's response: "Of course you do."

BUT! Upon a longer google search than my original query, I found that the crap song I have to mute is not, in fact, Peter Cetera (he did do a Baywatch theme at one time, but it was a different song)! Chicago fans, wherever you are, rejoice! The crap song is by someone named Evan Olson, who, according to YouTube, is dead. So I deleted my whole long rant I wrote about his terrible song, because hey, even crappy song-writers don't deserve be lambasted after death. If you'd like to judge for yourself, listen to it at your own peril.

Part of me was sad to learn it was Peter Cetera, because I had a whole Yacht-Rock-esque scenario in my mind where Jimi Jamison is trying to sell his song to David Hasselhoff, and because Peter was a more well-known name, they chose his song. But then secretly, David Hasselhoff would listen to "I'm Always Here" because he knew it was better, and once he had more clout with the show he was like, "We're ditching Cetera's turd of a song, and letting our AUDIENCES' SOULS BE BORN ANEW IN THIS PIANO SOLO."



I never get tired of it. Never ever. Forever and always, I'm always here...

#478: Maggot Brain by Funkadelic


Maggot Brain by Funkadelic (1971)

Favorite Track(s): "Maggot Brain" and "Can You Get to That" and "Hit It and Quit It" and "You and Your Folks, Me and My Folks" and "Super Stupid"

Thoughts: It will come as no surprise that I like neither the album cover nor its name. Icky and claustrophobic.

Irregardless, Eddie Hazel is a-mah-zing. His gutiar solo on "Maggot Brain" is incredible. And how bold to start out the album with such a heavy track!

You guys, this album is legit. And while I'd heard of George Clinton, I was unaware of Funkadelic. I highly recommend this--especially the first 6 songs. I thought I liked funk, but now I know I LOVE it. Well, this kind of funk. Funk that ROCKS.

Honestly, one of my favorite albums I've listened to so far. Didn't want it to end.

#479: Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness by The Smashing Pumpkins


Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness by The Smashing Pumpkins (1995)

Favorite Track(s): "Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness" and "Tonight, Tonight" (THE STRINGS) and "Take Me Down" and "Galapagos" and "Cupid de Locke" and "Stumbleine" and "Tonite Reprise" and "Farewell and Goodnight" and "Infinite Sadness"

Thoughts: The Smashing Pumpkins are a band I've always been very aware of, but couldn't name one of their songs for you. They always seemed too alternative for my tastes, and their music videos freaked me out for some reason. Plus, the image of smashing a pumpkin made me sad.

So this was another album where I was like, "Oh, I guess I finally have to listen to this band now" (I just had a shiver at the thought of Nine Inch Nails or Limp Bizkit showing up on this list). Two things in their favor up front: the album name and cover art. LOVE.

(Note: I listened to the vinyl track listing, as opposed to the CD track listing. I loved the way it was split up by time of day, and I think it only meant listening to two extra songs overall.)

I have to tell you, the first five tracks of this album (Dawn) were lovely. A pure joy to listen to--at once surprising and beautiful and varied and nostalgic (of the 90s--it made me want to re-watch some Buffy). The rest was really good and I liked it, but the first five tracks were SUBLIME, and so much better than I expected.

The rest were, well, what I expected, up the last 5 songs. (Though I totally agree with the youtube commenter who said that "the last 50-60 seconds of ['Thru the Eyes of Ruby'] are enough reason to live" and "Galapagos" and "Stumbleine" were right up my alley.) I just preferred the softer songs, so I ended up especially liking the bookends of the album. Great, great music.

#480: Voodoo by D'Angelo


Voodoo by D'Angelo (2000)

Favorite Track(s): "Send it On" and "Chicken Grease" and "The Root" and "Spanish Joint"

Thoughts: Honestly, when I think of D'Angelo, I think very naked man in music video. Apparently the same aesthetic was recommended for the album cover.

I liked it, very smooth R&B that reminded me of Prince, which is always nice. But many of the songs sounded too alike or 'meandering' for my taste. Good stuff, but just not really my style.

Imaginary Number

1.16.2011

The mountain that remains when the universe is destroyed
is not big and is not small.
Big and small are

comparative categories, and to what
could the mountain that remains when the universe is destroyed
be compared?

Consciousness observes and is appeased.
The soul scrambles across the screes.
The soul,

like the square foot of minus 1,
is an impossibility that has its uses.





- Vijay Sedhadri


from Poetry, February 2012

Even though I am a colossal fan of What Not to Wear (and Gok Wan)

1.15.2011


This clip from Miranda made my night. (Specifically from 0:20 on.)

#481: Guitar Town by Steve Earle

1.14.2011


Guitar Town by Steve Earle (1986)

Favorite Track(s): "Someday"

Thoughts: First, I'd just like to say that Guitar Town is one of the lamest album names I've ever heard. You couldn't find a better line from your lyrics than that? This is even worse than Sheryl Crow's 100 Miles from Memphis. And what, is the cover an picture of him outside a GUITAR SHOP? Barf.

I mean, for the love, it was his debut album! He should have just called it Steve Earle! Ok, I'm coming down from my silly-things-that-aren't-worth-being-upset-over-high-horse.

The album was Ok--nice country-rock.

#482: Entertainment! by Gang of Four


Entertainment! by Gang of Four (1979)

Favorite Track(s): "The Natural's Not In It" and "Damaged Goods"

Thoughts: I think the first time I heard Gang of Four was in Marie Antoinette. They're considered post-punk, which I think I like. It's not too scream-y and is much more stripped down.

Anyway, I thought the album was pretty good.

#483: All the Young Dudes by Mott the Hoople

1.13.2011


All the Young Dudes by Mott the Hoople (1972)

Favorite Track(s): "All the Young Dudes" and "Ready for Love/After Lights" and "Sea Diver"

Thoughts: I'd never heard of Mott the Hoople, and when I saw their name I was worried they were an obscure metal band. But they're 70s British glam-rock! Needless to say, I was relieved.

And the album was very good. Solid classic rock, but nothing to really distinguish them from other bands of their era, in my opinion. My favorite song of theirs was written by Bowie, after all!

#484: Vitalogy by Pearl Jam


Vitalogy by Pearl Jam (1994)

Favorite Track(s): "Nothingman" and "Better Man" (surprised?)

Thoughts: (Pre-listening:) Guys, I'll be honest with you. I've been dreading this album. I saw it coming up and I was like aww, crap. I fully recognize that that makes me a bad Seattleite. Pearl Jam is a local success, and I should be pumped to listen to them. But I'm not really a fan of grunge. Even Nirvana. It's not my thing, and listening to it bothers me.

Also, Eddie Vedder's cover of "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away" from the I Am Sam soundtrack is one of my least favorite covers of any Beatles song. To be honest, though, I do enjoy listening to "Just Breathe" off their most recent album, though I doubt that's their usual sound... Anyway, I thought you should know my pre-conceived ideas about Pearl Jam before I listened to one of their albums.

(Post-listening:) Still not a fan. Some songs were Ok, others seemed useless or bland. And as you might imagine, I was unable to listen all the way through "Hey Foxymophandlemama, That's Me," their song of distorted bass and drums playing over the recordings of interviewed mental hospital patients.

#485: That's the Way of the World by Earth, Wind & Fire

1.12.2011


That's the Way of the World by Earth, Wind & Fire (1975)

Favorite track(s): "Shining Star" and "Yearnin' Learnin'"

Thoughts: (I listened to the original release, not the 1999 re-issue)

Another band that makes me think of my folks, this was super tight, but also heavy funk/R&B album! The vocals often reminded me of artists today like André 3000 or Cee Lo Green.

It also made me want to go to a roller disco real bad.

#486: She's So Unusual by Cyndi Lauper


She's So Unusual by Cyndi Lauper (1983)

Favorite Track(s): "Money Changes Everything," "Girls Just Want to Have Fun", "When You Were Mine," "Time After Time," "All Through the Night"

Thoughts: Cyndi is only the 3rd woman in 14 bands so far.

For me, the album started out super strong and then just got more boring on the tail end. But that's ok--there was so many good songs at the beginning! I loved her cover of Prince's "When You Were Mine."

Let's pretend it's a work of art, let's pretend it's not my heart.



Song of the day: "I'm Sorry I Love You" by the Magnetic Fields.

#487: New Day Rising by Hüsker Dü

1.11.2011


New Day Rising by Hüsker Dü (1985)

Favorite Track(s): "I Apologize" and "Books About UFO's"

Thoughts: I'd never heard of Hüsker Dü before, though since they were from St. Paul I'm sure there have been MST3k references to them that I completely missed.

I have to say, I found every song on this album to be pretty unlistenable ("59 Times the Pain" and "How to Skin a Cat"--YIKES). I totally recognize that has more to do with taste than quality--I've never really cared for most alternative rock, hardcore punk or metal.

There were a lot of great lyrics in these songs, but I had to look them up because they were either shouted too loud, incoherently mumbled, or overpowered with too much noise. I know that's part of the genre, but it gets on my nerves. If I want a song with no meaningful lyrics (ergo ones I don't need to hear), I want it to be a blast to listen to for other reasons (beat, hook, melody) and this album was a bit of a wasteland for my ears--though "Books About UFO's" was an exception. Please know that I am totally open to the idea that I just need more training in this genre. That's the whole point of this venture: to hear new music. This just might be one of the instances where the album douses my interest in an unfamiliar genre, rather than piques it.

I'm hoping that this list will contain more classic rock/pop and hip-hop than anything else, but that's not to say I don't think that other genres don't belong on a 'greatest ever' list--they do. I just don't tend to associate metal or punk much with Rolling Stone.

#488: Destroyer by KISS


Destroyer by KISS (1975)

Favorite Track(s): Most of them! "King of the Night Time World" and "Great Expectations" and "Sweet Pain" and "Shout it Out Loud" and "Beth"

Thoughts: Epic album cover, love it.

KISS is another classic rock band I've always respected, but never really gotten into. I think I always assumed their make-up and costumes were the main attraction, as opposed to the actual music. And maybe, just maybe...I was a bit scared of Gene Simmon's face make-up...and tongue.

There was a period where I was obsessed with Ace Frehley's "Back in the New York Groove" and I kept having issues when trying to talk about Jean Simmons and everyone thought I was referring to Gene Simmons. But I ended up knowing a lot more of these songs than I thought I would!

Some were kinda silly to me...like "God of Thunder" (maybe it's better live?) but still probably my favorite whole album since I listened to The Stone Roses.

#489: Yo! Bum Rush the Show by Public Enemy


Yo! Bum Rush the Show by Public Enemy (1987)

Favorite Track(s): "You're Gonna Get Yours" and "Yo! Bum Rush the Show"

Thoughts: I've heard of Chuck D and Flavor Flav, and I know "Fight the Power" from Do the Right Thing, but other than that, I'm pretty unacquainted with Public Enemy. My knowledge of rap music and history comes mostly from VH1 specials, so I've been excited to hear some whole albums. And Yo! Bum Rush the Show was fantastic, I liked almost every track. Humorous side note: when I looked up "Terminator X Speaks With His Hands", A Very Potter Musical was the 4th result on YouTube.

#490: Tres Hombres by ZZ Top

1.10.2011


Tres Hombres by ZZ Top (1973)

Favorite track(s): "Master of Sparks" and "La Grange"

Thoughts: ZZ Top is one of those bands that I still associate with my parents, mostly because I've never spent enough time with their music to make it my own. Since this album is 70s rock, I was pretty sure I'd like it, and I did, but it still was just OK. It was probably just too bluesy for me.

"How's everything? Tiggety-boo or not-so-pucker?"



I recently watched Happy Families, a 1985 British comedy about a grandmother (Jennifer Saunders) who sends her son (Adrian Edmondson, her real-life husband) to find her 4 granddaughters (all Jennifer Saunders) from around the world. It's weird and funny and if you enjoy any of the following people, I'd think it was worth your while: Dawn French, Stephen Fry, Hugh Laurie, Ruby Wax, Ben Elton (he wrote it as well), or Lenny Henry.

Watch it here.

#491: Born Under a Bad Sign by Albert King


Born Under a Bad Sign by Albert King (1967)

Favorite track(s): "Kansas City"

Thoughts: Featuring Booker T and the MGs, this is a solid Blues album. And I especially like the cover art full of bad omens.

#492: Touch by The Eurythmics

1.07.2011


Touch by The Eurythmics (1983)

Favorite track(s): "Here Comes the Rain Again" and "Who's That Girl" (of course) and "Aqua"

Thoughts: Well, I unabashedly love Annie Lennox. She's brilliant. David Stewart's pretty good too, I guess. BUT ANNIE. Listening to this album was fun--especially to discover new songs.

Dawn French is my spirit animal.



And I'm glad she seems so happy after her split from Lenny.

Song of the evening.

1.06.2011



"A Boy, A Girl, and A Graveyard" by Jeremy Messersmith

#493: Yankee Hotel Foxtrot by Wilco


Yankee Hotel Foxtrot by Wilco (2002)

Favorite track(s): "Jesus, Etc." and "Heavy Metal Drummer" and "Poor Places"

Thoughts: It definitely grew on me as I listened...the first few tracks seem now to have been my least favorite on the album. These are some of the lyrics I've liked best in this list so far, and that will make me want to revisit these songs, I'm sure. I know most of my friends are big fans of Wilco and this album, so I was glad to give them a try but nervous I wouldn't 'get' their music, since I've never been drawn to it in the past. They're sort of like Radiohead in that way to me. But maybe going through this list will start a greater warming to both bands.

#494: Boz Scaggs by Boz Scaggs



Boz Scaggs by Boz Scaggs (1969)

Favorite track(s): "Finding Her" and "Loan Me A Dime"

Thoughts: Solid blues. My parents used to listen to a lot of Boz Scaggs. For some reason I remember asking them about him at a gas station, so when I think of him, I picture gas pumps. Anywho, the highlight was definitely Duane Allman's guitar solo on "Loan Me A Dime." Boz has a great voice, and the songs were quality, but I probably won't re-listen any time soon.

#495: New Boots and Panties!! by Ian Dury [and the Blockheads]

1.05.2011


New Boots and Panties!! by Ian Dury [and the Blockheads] (1977)

Favorite track(s): "Sweet Gene Vincent"

Thoughts: I liked it, but I didn't love it. I still don't warm easily to punk (and I'm not even sure this really counts as punk--there's saxophone!) and I liked the music less as I went farther on in the album. I'd never heard of Dury before this, so maybe it will just take some time. We'll see if he has other albums on the list.

#496: Give It Up by Bonnie Raitt by Bonnie Raitt


Give It Up by Bonnie Raitt (1972)

Favorite track(s): "Give It Up Or Let Me Go" and "Nothing Seems to Matter" and "Too Long at the Fair"

Thoughts: LOVE this woman and her music, thanks to my folks. And this album didn't disappoint. I expected a lot of blues-country, but a few songs surprised me in how folky they felt. And I am a sucker for folk, so when a great artist does it... just listen to "Nothing Seems to Matter", ok?

#497: The Stone Roses by The Stone Roses

1.04.2011


The Stone Roses by The Stone Roses (1989)

Favorite track(s): "She Bangs the Drums" and "Elephant Stone"

Thoughts: I'd never heard of the Stone Roses before this. (In fact, when I saw the name, I confused them with the Stone Poneys.) Apparently they only ever released two albums, so it's pretty impressive they made it to this list, but after listening to this album, not surprising. It's the best blend of 80s and 90s pop-rock I've heard in a long time--and British! I learned they are also from Manchester--like The Smiths.

The other albums I've listened to so far on the list are awesome, and I recommend them, but I think this will be an album I definitely purchase. I listened to the November 1989 US re-release, in case you're curious.

#498: Head Hunters by Herbie Hancock


Head Hunters by Herbie Hancock (1973)

Favorite track(s): "Chameleon" and "Vein Melter"

Thoughts: Groovy, funky, jazzy, smooth, fabulous instrumental. Made me want to strut down a street in bell-bottoms and platform shoes. And this is the best album cover so far, don't you think?

#499: Live in Cook County Jail by B.B. KING

1.03.2011


Live at Cook County Jail by B.B. King (1971)

Favorite track(s): "Please Accept My Love"

Thoughts:
The main thing I was blown away by on this album was his voice! I know B.B. is an amazing guitarist, but I didn't realize how fantastic his singing is. Loved it. (Unfortunately there was some misogynist call-and-response in one song, but hey, it was 1971. Low expectations in that department.) But it was very good. If you're into Blues.

#500: Aquemini by Outkast


And so we begin! Album #500 on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time (book version, which is slightly different than the list published in the magazine, but only by 8 albums).

Aquemini by Outkast (1998)

Favorite track(s): "Skew It On the Bar-B"

Thoughts: Lower-key than I expected, but very original and eclectic. I wasn't familiar with any of the songs on this album, probably because Outkast were yet to be on my radar in 1998. Now I wish they had been!


I'm far from a Trekkie.



But you guys, I have to tell you, I'm loving Star Trek: The Original Series. I'm still only on the first season, but it's so camp and genius and...dare I say it? SEXY. Seriously, just when I think no man in the world can match Spock's magnetism, Kirk enters a scene and I'm undone.

I've always been a Star Wars girl, but man, Star Trek is winning me over.

(Comic by--who else?--Kate Beaton)

Happy New Year.

1.01.2011