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#375: Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J. by Bruce Springsteen

5.31.2011


Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J. by Bruce Springsteen (1973)

Favorite Track(s): "Blinded By the Light" and "Growin' Up" and "Lost in the Flood" and "The Angel" and "For You" and "Spirit in the Night" and "It's Hard to Be a Saint in the City"

Thoughts: EVERYTHING IS EARLY BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN AND NOTHING HURTS. And by early, I mean his first studio album. And I will start by saying, leave my blog now, and go to a music-listening site of your choice, and listen to this album. Just do it. All you will find here is my inability to express with words how I love this man's music, and specifically this album. Also my favorite lyrics!

We've only had one Bruce album so far, my beloved Tunnel of Love, but this is our first album with the E Street Band!* Well, one of its earliest incarnations, at least.

Some lyrics from "Growin' Up":

I was open to pain and crossed by the rain and I walked on a crooked crutch
I strolled all alone through a fallout zone and came out with my soul untouched
I hid in the clouded wrath of the crowd but when they said "Sit down" I stood up.


I mean, come on.

Yes, "For You" is on my Doctor Who playlist, and especially makes me think of Rose.** Like "For You" I think I prefer "Spirit in the Night" live, but the lyrics are lovely:

I think I really dug her 'cause I was too loose to fake
I said, "I'm hurt." She said, "Honey let me heal it".
And we danced all night to a soul fairy band
and she kissed me just right like only a lonely angel can
She felt so nice, just as soft as a spirit in the night (all night)


And "It's Hard to Be A Saint in the City" (which Bowie covered):

I had skin like leather and the diamond-hard look of a cobra
I was born blue and weathered but I burst just like a supernova
I could walk like Brando right into the sun
Then dance just like a Casanova
With my blackjack and jacket and hair slicked sweet
Silver star studs on my duds like a Harley in heat
When I strut down the street I could hear its heartbeat
The sisters fell back and said "Don't that man look pretty"
The cripple on the corner cried out "Nickels for your pity"
Them gasoline boys downtown sure talk gritty
It's so hard to be a saint in the city


I mean, if the best part of these songs were just the lyrics, I'd love them, but then you add in this fantastic sax and piano and guitar and rhythm. I just love to listen to this music.

Ok, enough gushing.

Is This Better Than A Hard Day's Night?: It is such a relief to finally be able to say, YES.

*I think. I hear disputing reports, some saying that they were all on Tunnel of Love? Perhaps I just need to revisit my album's sleeve.

**Welcome to my deconstruction of "For You" as a Who song! If you are reading this you are one of two people who I think would even be remotely interested in this, but if I can't relate a 1973 rock song to a 2005/2006 sci-fi show on my blog, where can I?

Right, so The Doctor and Rose. So I'm going to post the whole song's lyrics, then put the bits I find relevant to Doctor Who in blue (like his sonic screwdriver, of course) with episode/line/relationship reference in parentheses after it.

Princess cards she sends me with her regards
barroom eyes shine vacancy, to see her you gotta look hard
Wounded deep in battle, I stand stuffed like some soldier undaunted (Doctor after the Time War!)
To her Cheshire smile (Rose's toothy grin!). I'll stand on file, she's all I ever wanted.
But you let your blue walls (Tardis!) get in the way of these facts
honey, get your carpetbaggers off my back
you wouldn't even give me time to cover my tracks.
You said, "Here's your mirror and your ball and jacks".
But they're not what I came for, and I'm sure you see that too
I came for you, for you, I came for you, (companions being picked up by the Tardis in general) but you did not need my urgency
I came for you, for you, I came for you, but your life was one long emergency
and your cloud line urges me, and my electric surges free

Crawl into my ambulance, your pulse is getting weak
reveal yourself all now to me girl while you've got the strength to speak
Cause they're waiting for you at Bellevue with their oxygen masks
But I could give it all to you now if only you could ask.
And don't call for your surgeon even he says it's too late
It's not your lungs this time, it's your heart that holds your fate
Don't give me money, honey, I don't want it back
you and your pony face and your union jack (Rose wears a Union Jack shirt in "The Empty Child")
well take your local joker and teach him how to act
I swear I was never that way even when I really cracked
Didn't you think I knew that you were born with the power of a locomotive
able to leap tall buildings in a single bound? (Every time the Doctor tells a companion how brilliant they are)
And your Chelsea suicide with no apparent motive
you could laugh and cry in a single sound

And your strength is devastating in the face of all these odds (the strength of the companions)
Remember how I kept you waiting when it was my turn to be the god? (When the Doctor acts like a god)

You were not quite half so proud when I found you broken on the beach ("Doomsday" episode, at Bad Wolf Bay beach and the Doctor found Rose there)
Remember how I poured salt on your tongue and hung just out of reach (he doesn't say he loves her)
And the band they played the homecoming theme as I caressed your cheek
That ragged, jagged melody she still clings to me like a leech.
But that medal you wore on your chest always got in the way
like a little girl with a trophy so soft to buy her way
We were both hitchhikers but you had your ear tuned to the roar
of some metal-tempered engine on an alien, distant shore (Rose choosing to stay with the Doctor to close the void)
So you, left to find a better reason than the one we were living for
and it's not that nursery mouth I came back for
It's not the way you're stretched out on the floor
cause I've broken all your windows and I've rammed through all your doors
And who am I to ask you to lick my sores? (The Doctor thinking he should travel alone because he just messes with people's lives and families and they end up leaving him in the end)
And you should know that's true...
I came for you, for you, I came for you, but you did not need my urgency
I came for you, for you, I came for you, but your life was one long emergency
and your cloud line urges me, and my electric surges free


(And yes, I am aware a need to get a life...)

#376: Sunflower by The Beach Boys


Sunflower by The Beach Boys (1970)

Favorite Track(s): "Deidre" and "It's About Time" and "Tears in the Morning"

Thoughts: Our first Beach Boys on the list! Huzzah! This is their 16th studio album. It was very pleasant to listen to--sweet, fun, melodious. Life-changing? No, but then The Beach Boys never were for me, except with Pet Sounds (though I believe I'll disagree with the highness of its ranking on this list, despite its greatness). My favorite song was "Tears in the Morning" and it all had to do with Bruce Johnston. Holy crap, why didn't he do most of the lead vocals? His voice was so much more interesting and moving than any of the others! I am his newest biggest fan.

Solid album, certainly worth a listen.

Is This Better Than A Hard Day's Night?: This is awkward, because I think there has always been a big rivalry between The Beach Boys and The Beatles (which was always shocking to me because they seem to do such different kinds of music...and there was never any contest in my mind...), especially on the part of the The Beach Boys, which makes sense because they don't seem quite as revered for their contribution the history of music. I mean, they are VERY revered, but not like, BEATLES revered, you know? Anyway. This was their first album since The Beatles broke up, so this would have been their moment to really take the spotlight and make a statement! Did they? I still prefer A Hard Day's Night. By leaps and bounds.

#377: The Modern Lovers by The Modern Lovers


The Modern Lovers by The Modern Lovers (1976, but recorded in 1972)

Favorite Track(s): "Hospital" and "Girlfriend" and "Modern World"

Thoughts: At first I was more than peeved that this band was so high on the list without me every hearing of them, but then I learned that this was the only album they ever made, so it isn't all that appalling that they'd slipped my radar.

But after listening to the album, the actual music became the more likely reason why I'd never heard of them (and why I don't grieve their lack of discography). This is another one of those albums that I believe is here because of its influence on the genre or other bands, and not because it can stand on its own as timeless and extraordinary. Their wikipedia page says that the album contains songs that were 'stylistically unprecedented.' So...there you go. If new wave/punk/alternative is something you're into, go for it, but I won't be re-visiting The Modern Lovers.

Is This Better Than A Hard Day's Night?:


(Image)

#378: More Songs About Buildings and Food by The Talking Heads

5.27.2011


More Songs About Buildings and Food by The Talking Heads (1978)

Favorite Track(s): "Found A Job" and "Take Me to the River" (mostly because I love Bruce Springsteen's version in the middle of live "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out") and "The Big Country"

Thoughts: Well, first they get points for a clever album title (or at least clever to me). The cover isn't bad, either.

I believe this our first Talking Heads album! I have to confess I always thought of them as an 80s band, but here they are with an album from the 70s! Nice. Also, they have a female bassist! Double nice.

What wasn't as nice for me was the music. I wanted it to be! I wanted to like it! But I just didn't. It felt repetitive and erratic. Which I realize are two adjectives that don't normally go together, but for this album they do, ok? I wasn't sure what mood the songs were hoping to provoke...just not my bag.

Is This Better Than A Hard Day's Night?: No.

#379: A Quick One (U.S. title: Happy Jack) by The Who


A Quick One (U.S. title: Happy Jack) by The Who (1966)

Favorite Track(s): "Run, Run, Run" and "Whiskey Man" and "Heat Wave" and "A Quick One, While He's Away"

Thoughts: Aw, yeah. The Who make their first appearance on the list, and not their last, I bet.

My favorite of all the songs was the mini rock opera "A Quick One, While He's Away", which clocks in at 9 minutes and 11 seconds. Though I suppose it's more of a pop opera.

This album was good, but didn't have any of my favorite Who songs on it. Decent, good, better than a lot of stuff on this list. But...

Is This Better Than A Hard Day's Night?: No. *Le Sigh*

Side note: I listened to the original 1966 A Quick One track listing, and not with the added 1995 bonus tracks.

#380: Pyromania by Def Leppard


Pyromania by Def Leppard (1983)

Favorite Track(s): "Photograph" ad "Too Late for Love"

Thoughts: This is our second Def Leppard album on the list. I liked a lot of Hysteria, but mostly I really liked guitarist Steve Clark!

"Photograph" is good (though I prefer Ringo Starr's song of the same name that we wrote with George Harrison, which makes me sob because he sang it at the Concert for George and the lyrics were so poignant and beautiful and once again the Beatles are better than anything, ever).

Elsewhere I was just underwhelmed.

Is This Better Than A Hard Day's Night?: No.
I was thinking: God had abandoned me,
So, what of it--he is a priceless ray of light,
Or a thin needle in the haystack of man. And cruel.
I have turned away from him--torment me no more.
But which of us is more cruel? More to be feared?
The one who has no body, of course.
He has made us endless, vast--
So that our grief will know no bounds.



- Elena Shvarts, translated from the Russian by Stephanie Sandler, Poetry, June 2011

#381: Pretzel Logic by Steely Dan

5.26.2011


Pretzel Logic by Steely Dan (1974)

Favorite Track(s): "Rikki Don't Lose That Number" and "Barrytown" and "Charlie Freak"

Thoughts: (Pre-Listening) I kept thinking that I'd already done a Steely Dan album on this list, but then realized I'd just written about them on another album, Dr. John's Gumbo. I believe my exact words were: "...I don't know why, but for some reason I have a really strong aversion to Dr. John. He just seems cranky and not as good as he thinks he is. Kind of like Steely Dan. There, I said it." Honestly, they just seem like complete bastards. And when I say 'they', I'm not even going to take the time to find out who 'they' are. I feel like there's two of them? Is one Steely and the other Dan?

When I think of Steely Dan, I think of 3 things. 1) The only positive: at one point Chevy Chase was a drummer in the band. 2) They were going to be admitted into the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame, and couldn't be bothered to show up because they thought it didn't mean anything (this is all I remember from the controversy, so don't quote me--maybe they had a much more eloquent and noble reason for being total asshats). I mean, if Bob Dylan was like, "I am too good for this shit" I would be like, that's cool, it's Dylan. But Steely Dan, who do you think you are? And the fact that this story is the main thing I know about you? Not a good legacy, guys. 3) OVERRATED.

(Post-Listening) Ok. So the music on this album is better than a lot of the crap-ola that also made it to the list. Despite my prejudices, even I can't deny this smooth yacht rock of the mid-1970s has some appeal. It's too close to my musical safe place. HOWEVER. None of the music stood out to me as exceptionally interesting or memorable. So I will not be ordering the album from the library nor recommending it to you. I will be recommending you watch their episode of Yacht Rock:



Finally, I've decided to add a new feature to my reviews. It's called Is This Better Than A Hard Day's Night? I will answer with a yes, no, or more complicated explanation. It's just important for my sanity right now.

Is This Better Than A Hard Day's Night?: No.

#382: Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) by Wu-Tang Clan


Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) by Wu-Tang Clan (1993)

Favorite Track(s): The chorus of "Da Mystery of Chessboxin" but not the rest

Thoughts: (Pre-Listening) This is a hip-hop ensemble with whom I have zero experience. I've never seen Wu-Tang Clan: Behind the Music (I assuming that exists), and if someone played me one of their songs I'd have no idea it was them. I have heard of Method Man and ODB, and RZA and Ghostface Killah sound remotely familiar. Anyway, I'm excited to try them out, because apparently this album should be better than A HARD DAY'S NIGHT.

(Post-Listening) Um. I would like to give you a sample of a rhyme from "Clan in da Front" courtesy of GZA, I believe:

What's that in your pants ahhh human feces!
Throw your shitty drawers in the hamper

Next time come strapped with a fuckin' Pamper

Yeah.

The most surreal moment of the album for me was for "Can It Be All So Simple" which sampled, I kid you not, "The Way We Were" sung by Gladys Knight and the Pips, AND "I Got The" by Labi Siffre. So they have good taste...?

The worst parts overall were the spoken interludes, which were like listening to 13 year old boys who have just discovered curse words and are trying to impress each other with their potty language. Maybe the lack of any substance or cleverness was intended to be funny? At one point in "Method Man" someone takes a 'hit' of something and then just coughs repeatedly into the microphone...

I was disappointed in it as a rap album, and severely unimpressed with it as a Rolling Stone Top 500 Album of All Time, and unbelievably grieved by its ranking above a Beatles album.

#383: Country Life by Roxy Music

5.25.2011


Country Life by Roxy Music (1974)

Favorite Track(s): "The Thrill of It All" and "All I Want is You" and "Out of the Blue" and "A Really Good Time" and "Prairie Rose"

Thoughts: First, you should know this isn't the real album cover--it's the censored version. Usually I like to do the original cover, but this one is NSFW. Also, I find it sad because the music is so good it shouldn't need naked ladies selling it--naked ladies who aren't even in the band.

Oh, but the music. Apparently 'art rock' is a thing and it is one of my things. Bryan Ferry's voice is so full of character and 70s rock panache. I think I preferred this album more than For Your Pleasure. It reminded me more of my favorite song of theirs (the album on which it is a track--Stranded--didn't make the list) "Mother of Pearl" (skip to 1:23 if you're not feeling the hard rock intro).

#384: A Hard Day's Night by The Beatles

5.24.2011


A Hard Day's Night by The Beatles (1964)

Favorite Track(s): "A Hard Day's Night" and "I Should Have Known Better" and "If I Fell" and "I'm Happy Just to Dance With You" and "Tell Me Why" and "Can't Buy Me Love" and "Any Time At All" and "I'll Cry Instead" and "Things We Said Today" and "When I Get Home" and "You Can't Do That" and "I'll Be Back"

Thoughts: Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Silly Rolling Stone! I DON'T THINK YOU REALIZE: THIS IS A BEATLES ALBUM. BEATLES ALBUMS DO NOT BELONG OUTSIDE THE TOP 100. This is unacceptable! I don't think you've realized what this means. This means that albums #383 to #1 (which is a BEATLES ALBUM. There are 3 Beatles albums in the top 5.) are supposedly going to be better than this one. Better than "Can't Buy Me Love." Better than "If I Fell" and "I Should Have Known Better" and "A Hard Day's Night." I know what you might be thinking: 'Maryann, we've still got Joni and CSNY and Marvin Gaye and Simon & Garfunkel and Michael Jackson and Fleetwood Mac yet to come! It's going to be OK, we'll be fine!' And you're half right, internet-person. Those bands are still to come. But guess who is also still to come on this list? Rage Against the Machine. Eminem. Jane's Addiction. Pearl Jam. *sobs* NINE INCH F***ING NAILS. Sure there are people who are into that music, fine--but better than A Hard Day's Night? Better than The Beatles? I weep for the humanity who voted to make this list. I WEEP. You might think I'm overreacting. Wrong. You're under-reacting.

This is one of the first albums I ever owned. I think it was a combo bithday gift with a VHS copy of the movie. Probably the first movie I was ever given (and therefore my own, vs. the whole family's).

Rolling Stone Top 500 Albums of All Time: You need to check yourself.

#385: The End of the Innocence by Don Henley


The End of the Innocence by Don Henley (1989)

Favorite Track(s): "The End of the Innocence" and "New York Minute" and "The Heart of the Matter"

Thoughts: This is one of those albums that remind me of my parents (of which there are many), and makes me nostalgic for childhood. I love these lyrics from the title song:

But I know a place where we can go
That's still untouched by men
We'll sit and watch the clouds roll by
And the tall grass wave in the wind
You can lay your head back on the ground
And let your hair fall all around me
Offer up your best defense
But this is the end
This is the end of the innocence

UNF. So sad, so good. "I Will Not Go Quietly" sounds like it belongs in a High School Musical sequel, even though it features Axl Rose. Parts of "Shangri-La" reminded me of Prince. And "The Heart of the Matter" just begs to be sung at karaoke. After 5 or 6 drinks, that is.

Sheryl Crow and Melissa Ethridge do background vocals on the album. NBD.

My favorite Don Henley memory is hearing him singing the Eagles' version of "Please Come Home For Christmas" at a Beijing resort in July.

Also "Leather and Lace" with Stevie Nicks. Apparently they were dating at the time, which makes me love it even more. The way he sings 'when I walked inTO your house'. Also, what is more romantic than someone walking into your house and knowing they never want to leave (unless they're a creepy stalker)?

#386: Elephant by The White Stripes


Elephant by The White Stripes (2003)

Favorite Track(s): "Seven Nation Army" and "There's No Home For You Here" and "I Just Don't Know What to Do With Myself" and "In the Cold, Cold Night" and "I Want to Be the Boy to Warm Your Mother's Heart" and "You've Got Her in Your Pocket" and "Ball and Biscuit" and "The Air Near My Fingers" and "It's True That We Love One Another"

Thoughts: (Pre-Listening) This is another band that I know people adore, and I just seem to keep missing. So here's my opportunity! This is our earliest album to date, as the list was compiled in 2003 and no other albums have been newer than 2002 (Beck, Coldplay, Wilco, etc.). That means that even though this album came out that year, enough people voted that it as being one of the greatest albums of all time enough times to put this far up the list. NO PRESSURE, JACK AND MEG.

(Post-Listening) "There's No Home For You Here" reminded me of the Beatles, and they covered a Burt Bacharach song! So I was in love by only 4 songs in. The range of their musicality (is that a thing?) is just fantastic. I don't think I realized the White Stripes had such diverse songs. But I love it. I also wasn't aware that Meg does some singing too! And I adore bands with male and female lead singers. *GUSH* *GUSH* *GUSH*

Song of the day.



"Talk to Me (Of Mendocino)" by Kate and Anna McGarrigle. (Kate's the mother of Rufus and Martha Wainwright, and here's their version with her. She passed away last January.) This song currently reminds me of Ian, who just moved from New York to California. :)

Let the sun rise over the redwoods/I'll rise with it till I rise no more

#387: The Pretender by Jackson Browne

5.23.2011


The Pretender by Jackson Browne (1976)

Favorite Track(s): "Your Bright Baby Blues" and "Here Come Those Tears" and "Sleep's Dark and Silent Gate" and "The Pretender"

Thoughts: I think I overall prefer For Everyman, which we listened to back at #449, but I feel like The Pretender is considered his best work. Is that correct? It does sound ahead of its time to me, and if I listened to it not knowing the year it was released, I for sure would have said the 80s.

Just like For Everyman, he brought in a ton of my favorite people to help out: Roy Bittan, David Crosby, Bonnie Raitt, Don Henley, Jon Landau, Russ Kunkel, and Graham Nash. So it was hard me to do anything but love it. Great album.

#388: Willy and the Poor Boys by Creedence Clearwater Revival


Willy and the Poor Boys by Creedence Clearwater Revival (1969)

Favorite Track(s): "Down on the Corner" and "Cotton Fields" and "Fortunate Son" and "Don't Look Now"

Thoughts: CCR! OMG, you guys. This album. This album. I feel like Navin Johnson in The Jerk when he leaves Bernadette Peters and says "I don't need you! I don't need anything! Except this...and that's the only thing I need." That's how I feel about this album. I don't need anything except Willy and the Poor Boys. Except for the Beatles catalog. But that's all I need! It's so good. It's so, sooooo good.

Review: I want to marry this album.

Sorry, was that not enough? Ok. "Down on the Corner" is timeless. "Cotton Fields" is fun. "Fortunate Son" is just ridiculously awesome. It makes me feel like a patriot and an anarchist at the same time. "The Midnight Special" had a TV show named after it! (Well, actually that's an old folk song, so not quite...but still!)

Song of the day.



"Go Places" by The New Pornographers. One of my favorites of theirs, this song lives on my 'travel' and 'Doctor Who' playlists. (The video I've posted is a 'lite mix' of the original version, which I like just as well.)

#389: Good Old Boys by Randy Newman


Good Old Boys by Randy Newman (1974)

Favorite Track(s): "Marie" and "Louisiana 1927"

Thoughts: "Rednecks" sounded a whole lot like "You've Got A Friend in Me." Oh wait, so did "Birmingham." It wasn't until "Marie" that this album stopped resembling a pixar film soundtrack. And I really liked "Marie." The rest was pretty good. So as Randy Newman goes, I'd say I liked it. It would be nice background music for a lazy evening.

#390: For Your Pleasure by Roxy Music

5.20.2011


For Your Pleasure by Roxy Music (1973)

Favorite Track(s): "Do the Strand" and "Beauty Queen" and "Grey Lagoons"

Thoughts: At first I thought that was Joanna Lumley on the cover, as it sure looks like her. Apparently it was Bryan Ferry's girlfriend at the time, Amanda Lear.

The piano is fantastic on "Do the Strand" and "Grey Lagoons." "Strictly Confidential" has a haunting...oboe? Gorgeousness. At times I was reminded of Big Star, Anthony & the Johnsons, and Tom Jones. Yes, there is a song dedicated to an inflatable doll. Yes, it is creepy. But the album overall is a rich, musical feast.

#391: Blue Lines by Massive Attack

5.19.2011


Blue Lines by Massive Attack (1991)

Favorite Track(s): "Unfinished Sympathy" was actually not half bad, thanks to the strings and "Hymn of the Big Wheel" was kind of nice.

Thoughts: (Pre-Listening) This is the last album standing between me and one by Roxy Music. To let you know how I'm feeling about this, I need to ask you a question: are you familiar with the score of Miss Saigon, the 1989 musical by Claude-Michel Schönberg and Alain Boublil? If not, feel free to skip to the next paragraph. If so, do you remember the song "Why God, Why?" That line is running through my head on a loop.

The last time we heard this group was not a great time. DO NOT WANT. Massive Attack, may this be the final time you grace this list. Or else.

(Post-Listening) I'm just going to leave this quote from Stuart Bailie's (glowing!) review here: "It sounded anxious and lost."


#392: Eliminator by ZZ Top


Eliminator by ZZ Top (1983)

Favorite Track(s): "Gimme All Your Lovin'" and "Sharp Dressed Man" and "Legs"

Thoughts: Whoooo, baby we are whizzing through these mothers aren't we? Two reasons: jury duty set me waaay back (and in case you were interested: the dude was guilty), and also because I saw that ROXY MUSIC (!) is coming up soon on the list! Baby, I'm trudging through the mediocre and wretched and occasionally brilliant to get to you!

The more time I spend on this list the more I think I should have been born when my parents were so I could have grown up with the music they listened to in college (I mean, thanks to them I technically did grow up with it, but I'm talking about when it was new and current). Which would mean they wouldn't get to be my parents, so even though my musical taste may wish for long, un-shampooed hair and wooden platforms, overall I'm glad I was an 80s baby.

Right, ZZ Top! We did their Tres Hombres back in January. I liked the rock, not the blues. This time around (a good ten years later in their discography) the album cover is much worse (as I am not a colossal fan of cars, and especially not of 'car art,' though the fairy wings are a good touch) but the music, ooh baby, was soooo much better. "Gimme All Your Lovin'"? Any fan of The Santa Clause (or classic rock) says 'Yes, please!'

"Sharped Dressed Man" is, of course, timeless. And "I Need You Tonight" is dead sexy (in a sleazy, only-acceptable-in-the-80s kind of way). "Legs" is super fun, and "If I Could Only Flag Her Down" had me rocking out in my chair.

Great album, for sure.

#393: Rain Dogs by Tom Waits


Rain Dogs by Tom Waits (1985)

Favorite Track(s): "Hang Down Your Head" and "Downtown Train"

Thoughts: (Pre-Listening) Ok! We're going to be optimistic for this album! The last one was a bit of a letdown. The album cover is intriguing, to say the least.

(Post-Listening)

-"Singapore": what the actual f*ck?
-"Clap Hands": why? WHY?
-"Cemetery Polka": No. Stop. Just stop.
-"Jockey Full of Bourbon": Alright.
-"Tango Till They're Sore": Maybe if I was drunk right now.
-"Big Black Mariah": I'm frightened.
-"Diamonds & Gold": I was really hoping that was going to be an incorrectly titled cover of Joan Baez's "Diamonds and Rust."
- "Hang Down Your Head": Reminded me of Bruce Springsteen. YOU WIN THIS ROUND, WAITS.
- "Time": Depressing, so...well done? Hey everyone, the album is improving!
- "Rain Dogs": Nope, we spoke too soon.
- "Midtown (Instrumental)": Ok...
- "9th & Hennepin": Thanks, I needed some more nightmares peppered into my sleep.
- "Gun Street Girl": Fair enough.
- "Union Square": What just happened?
- "Blind Love": I can accept this.
- "Walking Spanish": I do NOT accept this.
- "Downtown Train": So I have to give props where props are due. I didn't know Waits had written this song, and as it is on my Most Holy of Holy Cover Albums, Acoustic by Everything But the Girl, I need to tip my hat. His version isn't even all that awful, either. In fact, I'm also in disbelief he wrote this. It's such a great pop song. But apparently he did. (OR DID HE?)
- "Bride of Rain Dog (Instrumental)": Um. I'm sorry, was that a song?
- "Anywhere I Lay My Head": It's almost over! It's almost over!!!

Conclusion: This album needed to be 11 songs shorter. Or even 16.

Guys, I'm sorry. I really am. I'm just not cut out for Tom Waits. I tried to get on the train, but it kept pushing steam in my face and then all the passengers were giving me the stink eye and I couldn't understand a word the conductor was saying and I don't think I want to go where it's going anyway. Besides, I'm already on the Bruce Springsteen train and there's enough similarities (at least in the Boss' later work) that I should be just fine.

#394: Anthology by The Temptations


Anthology by The Temptations (1973)

Favorite Track(s): "My Girl" and "Get Ready" and "Ain't Too Proud to Beg" and "(I Know) I'm Losing You" and "I Could Never Love Another (After Loving You)" and "I'm Gonna Make You Love Me" and "I Can't Get Next to You" and "Just My Imagination" and "Papa Was A Rollin' Stone" and "Power"

Thoughts: As far as Motown groups go, I never took to The Temptations or their story like I did The Jacksons. Like, I knew of them, and knew their music, but that was all I felt I needed to know. Most of these songs I knew by heart, thanks to my Oldies-saturated childhood.

Some of the show tune covers were interesting...for instance their version of "Ol' Man River" had moments of brilliance, but also moments of...confusion? Misdirection? It was strange. They also did "Try to Remember" from The Fantasticks and "The Impossible Dream" from Man of La Mancha.

I think my favorite song on the whole album was "I'm Gonna Make You Love Me" though I think I still prefer this version (though this one holds a place in my TV heart). My least favorite song was probably "Ball of Confusion (That's the World Is Today)" and the name really says it all. Here's a sample lyric: Fear in the air/tension everywhere/Unemployment rising fast/the Beatles new record's a gas.

Overall, the album is great but probably over-packed with songs. I would cut anything post 1970, personally. But I recommend it nonetheless!

(Side note: I listened to the 1986 track listing, because wikipedia didn't have the original 1973 track listing.)

#395: Californication by Red Hot Chili Peppers

5.18.2011


Californication by Red Hot Chili Peppers (1999)

Favorite Track(s): The last one, because that meant it was almost over. Also because it was kind of pretty ("Road Trippin'").

Thoughts: (Pre-Listening) It may come as no surprise that I do not enjoy the Red Hot Chili Peppers. All their songs sound the same to me, and for some reason create a mood in my mind that is unpleasant and somehow...lazy. Not in a good, relaxing-and-chilling-out lazy, but like a meh-what's-the-point-of-anything/everything-is-boring kind of lazy. I have no idea why this is. I just repel their music and their aesthetic. But I know Rolling Stone and many people enjoy them (to be fair, I was listening heavily to NSYNC when this album came out, so my taste can't hold much credence with anyone). So here we go.

(Post-Listening) I do like the album cover, and of course the album and song name is very clever. The first song on the album is "Around the World", whose title makes me think of the musical Grey Gardens. The Red Hot Chili Peppers song was different, as you might have shrewdly guessed. I liked it until Anthony started singing. Speak-singing, that is. This is just not my kind of music. As each song would start I'd sort of think it was interesting and then be sick of it before I was 30 seconds in. And there were 15 songs. Even "Californication"--which if I really did pick a favorite song would probably be the winner--leaves me feeling listless and disgruntled. Which I recognize it what some people want from their music. But not me. Thank God The Temptations are up next.

#396: Illmatic by Nas


Illmatic by Nas (1994)

Favorite Track(s): "The Genesis" and "Life's A Bitch" and "It Ain't Hard to Tell"

Thoughts: Confession: I never know if I should pronounce his name 'nass' or 'naas.' I'm fairly certain it's the latter, but usually the former is the one that comes out. Also, I never realized he was making music as far back as 1994. Though I guess he was 17 when this debut album came out, so he is about as young as I perceived him to be. So far this review is fascinating, isn't it?

Brass tacks: I loved the music samples used--felt so New York, so urban. Some horns, funk, and even jazz (and "It Ain't Hard to Tell" sampled Michael Jackson's "Human Nature" and you know that is always gold in my book). Nas's rhymes were enjoyable, surprising, and frankly hugely impressive for a 17 year old. The album felt mature for such a young man--and I don't mean in content only, but also in style and production. As hip-hop goes, I liked it.

Song of the day.

5.17.2011



"The Gambler" by Fun. Such an adorable song...

Song of the Day.

5.14.2011



"Alone Again Or" by Love.

Guest-bloggy-vlog.

5.13.2011

That is the best title I could come up with. Or the only one. You decide. My friend Kj had free tickets to see Mary Poppins last night, and as we'd never experienced a musical on stage together before, we decided now was our time.

If you want to know how it was, you can go to her blog and watch the video review we made. Suffice to say, I believe I may never be able to watch a musical again.

If you don't have time to watch the videos (yes, there are two, because we had so much trauma to cover), this picture below that includes the dancing satyrs may give you a glimpse into the horror:



But seriously, you guys, IT WAS ONE OF THE WORST STAGE MUSICALS I HAVE EVER SEEN.

I love me a good Jesus Christ Superstar parody, and this cast is full of my favorites to boot.

5.06.2011



AD/BC: A Rock Opera is a nativity musical set in 1978 (released in 2004) told from the perspective of the innkeeper, which is funny on its own, but add the cast to the equation and it's a musicals and British comedy-lovers dream come true. It stars Matt Berry, Richard Ayoade, Julian Barratt, Matt Lucas, Noel Fielding, Julia Davis and Rich Fulcher. And if you've never seen The IT Crowd, The Mighty Boosh, or Little Britain, (or Gavin & Stcaey for Julia...or Love Actually...she plays the caterer at the wedding) that won't excite you.*

But if you HAVE seen Jesus Christ Superstar and aren't easily offended (which might have determined whether or not you like Jesus Christ Superstar), I recommend a watch. I think the 'Innkeeper's Wife' song is my favorite (in part 2). I wish the soundtrack was available to purchase.

*As an example of my unfailing love for Tim Rice-penned musicals, I can't write or read the last four lines of this sentence without thinking of lyrics from Chess song "One Night in Bangkok": I'd let you watch/I would invite you/but the queens we use would not excite you.

#397: (pronounced lĕh-'nérd 'skin-'nérd) by Lynyrd Skynyrd

5.05.2011


(pronounced lĕh-'nérd 'skin-'nérd) by Lynyrd Skynyrd (1973)

Favorite Track(s): "Tuesday's Gone" and "Mississippi Kid"and (DUH) "Free Bird"

Thoughts: Lynyrd Skynyrd bring many things to mind. But mostly just "Sweet Home Alabama"(which isn't on this album) and with it, Con Air and Neil Young's "Southern Man." But I think I saw a Behind the Music on them in high school and respected them since for their southern rock.

There's a track called "Simple Man" which I hoped would be a cover of Graham Nash (WHOSE ALBUM SONGS FOR BEGINNERS BETTER BE HIDDEN SOMEWHERE ON THIS LIST OR I WILL UNLEASH MY UNHOLY WRATH) but it wasn't. Even so, the album is gorgeous 70s southern rock, full of grit and depth but expertly produced and written. This has put my soul at rest that no Kid Rock is on the list, because the mere thought that he would find himself anywhere near it, much less above these rock gods would be pure lunacy.

(Cover) Song of the day.



Birdy doing Bon Iver's "Skinny Love." Apparently she's only 15.

#398: Dr. John's Gumbo by Dr. John

5.04.2011


Dr. John's Gumbo by Dr. John (1972)

Favorite Track(s): "Iko Iko" and "Tipitina"

Thoughts: (Pre-Listening) I have to tell you, Dr. John is NOT the Doctor I have on the brain right now. GET IT? To quote Stevie in Miranda: I amuse myself. But really, I don't know why, but for some reason I have a really strong aversion to Dr. John. He just seems cranky and not as good as he thinks he is. Kind of like Steely Dan. There, I said it. But maybe it's just because I've never been to New Orleans, and been born anew in his awesomeness?

(Post-Listening) Ok, apparently this a covers album of John's favorite New Orleans songs, so to be fair, it isn't his music. So I can't really say that this album made me like Dr. John...but I'll say it tentatively did. This is the kind of music I'd enjoy hearing in a restaurant, on hold, or at a music festival where the whole point is to nap in the sunshine to some nice music. Do you know what I mean? This will never be the music I put on to rock out in my home, or sing to in my car, or on a mix CD for someone. It's quality, it's good, but it's also easy to tune out completely. So unless Zydeco mixed with blues and rock and jazz are your thing, I wouldn't recommend it.

#399: Radio City by Big Star

5.03.2011


Radio City by Big Star (1974)

Favorite Tracks: "Way Out West" and "What's Going Ahn" and "September Gurls" and "Morpha Too" and "I'm In Love With A Girl"

Thoughts: Guys, Big Star is becoming one of my favorite bands. At the thought of getting to listen to them this morning I literally starting singing Rod Stewart lyrics: you're in my heart/you're in my soul/you'll be my breath when I grow old/you are my lover and you're my best friend/you're in my soul. Which are basically the lyrics I ascribe to anything or anyone that I even only moderately enjoy.

Big Star, where have you been all my life? And why didn't you make loads more albums? I actually think I prefer Third/Sister Lovers and #1 Record to this one, but compared with what I've had to listen to elsewhere on this list, it's pure gold.

One of my favorite lines from "What's Going Ahn": And looking at you I'm drained outright /And isolated in the light.


#400: Sandinista! by The Clash


Sandinista! by The Clash (1980)

Favorite Track(s): "The Magnificent Seven" and "Hitsville U.K." and "Something About England" and "Somebody Got Murdered" and "Up in Heaven (Not Only Here)" and "Police On My Back" and "Lose This Skin"

Thoughts: (Pre-Listening) This album has 36 tracks. UGH. I'm so close, Big Star. We're so close to being together again...

(Post-Listening) No two songs were alike, one minute the tracks would be upbeat pop, then punk, then funk, then reggae. I have to say, this made a real Clash fan out of me. I didn't realize they could be so diverse...

It's definitely long and maybe some of the tracks could have been cut, but there are so many gems I'm quite pleased I listened to it. And I recommend it!