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#328: Help! by The Beatles, AKA The Day The List Needed To Look At Its Life, Look At Its Choices

7.29.2011


Help! by The Beatles (1965)

Favorite Track(s): "Help!" and "The Night Before" and "You've Got To Hide Your Love Away" and "I Need You" and "Another Girl" and "You're Gonna Lose That Girl" and "Ticket to Ride" and "Act Naturally" and "It's Only Love" and "You Like Me Too Much" and "Tell Me What You See" and "I've Just Seen A Face" and "Yesterday" and Dizzy Miss Lizzy"

Thoughts: HAS IT COME TO THIS? HAS IT COME TO THIS? What kind of world are we living in that Help! would be at Three Hundred and Twenty-Eight? Did people make their lists without actually looking at what tracks are on these albums? "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away." "Ticket to Ride." "It's Only Love." "I've Just Seen A Face." "Yesterday." ALL ON THIS ALBUM.

I don't understand how 3 Beatles albums could be in the top 5, but this one is in the 300s. I'm afraid the Rolling Stone list leaves me no choice. I'm afraid I must take us song through song, agonizing over this travesty of a ranking. And you'll put it up with it, because that's all that the Beatles deserve.

1) "Help!"



John's guitar strum at the end of never needed anybody's help in any way. Paul and George's backing vocals. The snare at the end of now I've changed my mind and opened up the doors. The way John sings and I do appre-chi-ate cha being 'round. I think this was one of the first CDs I ever owned. We'd play it and other Beatles albums in the car on family road trips, and I remember my dad saying once that one of the genius things about the Beatles was how they wrote actually endings to their songs, as opposed to using fade-outs (at least in the early cases). This song is no exception. "Help!" "Me!" "Help!" "Meeeee-oooooooooo."

2) "The Night Before"



I'm not sure what it is, but Paul's voice sounds so masculine and scratchy in this song to me. I love it. His little 'yesssss' before the guitar solo? Brilliant. John on the keyboards--I ACCEPT. But forget all of this, and the fact remains, they're singing it in FUCKING STONEHENGE.

3) "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away"



This song is one of my all-time favorites of all-time in the history of EVER. I'm not sure if it's fact or just a rumor, but apparently this song was written for the Beatles' manager, Brian Epstein, who was gay. But no matter the original inspiration, this song is just divine, and too short. The flute solo, John's 'HEY!', Ringo's tambourine. Many people enjoy Eddie Vedder's version of this song from the I Am Sam soundtrack. I am not one of those people.

4) "I Need You"



It's a George song! I like George songs. And this one's a winner. It's no "Here Comes the Sun" but it's very nice.

5) "Another Girl"



My favorite part of this song is...the bridge? Is it a bridge? I've no idea. But when Paul sings another girl who will love me til the end/through thick and thin she will always be my friend.

6) "You're Going to Lose That Girl"



What is not perfect about this song? Nothing. Nothing is not perfect about this song. The bongos, the background vocals, the everything.

7) "Ticket to Ride"



I think my favorite part is from 0:00 to 3:09.

8) "Act Naturally"



One of my favorite songs as a kid (like most of Ringo's songs :) ).

9) "It's Only Love"



THIS SONG. So simple, so earnest, so singable. This ends up on all my 'current music I'm into' playlists on my iPod. Because I'm always into it.

10) "You Like Me Too Much"



Definitely my favorite George song from this album. The piano is fun, the chorus is sweet, and it's uber catchy.

11) "Tell Me What You See"



Groovy, fun, and I love the line if you put your trust in me, I'll make bright your day. As a child that never seemed to work very well lyrically. :)

12) "I've Just Seen A Face"



Every damn second of this song is perfection. It's quick, pulling, driving, sweet, romantic, and just plain brilliant. Honestly, I wish I could just be serenaded with this song for the rest of my life. This song alone, which I'm sure Paul wrote in under 30 minutes, is better than half the stuff we've heard so far, and will probably be better than anything between 327 and 100. NOT AN UNDERSTATEMENT.

13) "Yesterday"



Easily in the top 50 songs of all time, and top 10 saddest. The strings. THE STRINGS.

14) "Dizzy Miss Lizzy"



Fun and shows off John's raw sex vocal power.

Is This Better Than A Hard Day's Night?: I believe we can safely say yes, and as you might have guessed, we're to retire A Hard Day's Night and replace it with Help! until the next album that has been placed so far down the list that we must compare everything else to come to its greatness.

#329: Shoot Out the Lights by Richard and Linda Thompson

7.28.2011


Shoot Out the Lights by Richard and Linda Thompson (1982)

Favorite Track(s): "Walking On A Wire" and "Just the Motion" and "Did She Jump Or Was She Pushed?"

Thoughts: (Pre-Listening) So, I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight was sooooo low on the list (#471!) for how amazing it is. So Shoot Out the Lights must be terrific and will blow my mind. The title is sad though, considering the other title's name. Apparently this was the couple's last album together, and their best-selling.

(Post-Listening) Hmm. Linda's songs (with her vocals, I mean) got my attention, but I just sort of breezed throughout the rest of the album, unmoved. Maybe I just prefer 70s music to 80s, so it makes sense that I would have responded to their 1974 album more than one from 1982?

Also, in "The Wall of Death" when they were singing let me take my chances on the wall of death I thought they were singing let me take my chances on the water bed and that made me chuckle.

Is This Better Than A Hard Day's Night?: Sorry, guys, but I was unimpressed. Give me I Want To See the Bright Lights Tonight every time.


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#330: Wild Gift by X

7.26.2011


Wild Gift by X (1981)

Favorite Track(s): "The Once Over Twice" and "We're Desperate" and "Adult Books" and "Universal Corner" and "It's Who You Know" and "In This House That I Call Home"

Thoughts: Side note: sorry to have been so absent. I usually listen while doing work at my computer, and I've been away from my computer lately!

(Pre-Listening) Another punk band. And so soon! Well, they get points for their album cover. And lose them again for their band name. Let's just get through this, shall we?

(Post-Listening) I was won over in the first 10 seconds of track 1. This band has male and female lead vocals, which is the quickest way into my musical heart. The female singer is Exene (the band name makes a bit more sense now), and the male is also the bassist, John Doe. Also, I love any punk band that chooses to sing about relationships over "Angry! Mad! Pissed! Upset! Enraged! Yelling! Screaming! Shouting!" for their main song themes.

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



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#331: Squeezing Out Sparks by Graham Parker

7.19.2011


Squeezing Out Sparks by Graham Parker (1979)

Favorite Track(s): "Discovering Japan" and "Local Girls" and "Nobody Hurts You" and "You Can't Be Too Strong"

Thoughts: This album started out really strong, and then half way through just got lame. I somehow ended up listening twice to "Passion is No Ordinary Word" and it was torture. But the first four tracks were fun, slick, and enjoyable. Didn't love the album, but didn't hate it either.

Is This Better Than A Hard Day's Night?: I don't think so.

#332: Superunknown by Soundgarden

7.15.2011


Superunknown by Soundgarden (1994)

Favorite Track(s): "My Wave" and "Black Hole Sun"

Thoughts: (Pre-Listening) I have to start today's listening off with grunge music? Harrumph. Well, they're from Seattle (like most grunge) so I guess I should give them a listen. First, an honest show of hands: who's ever confused Soundgarden with Savage Garden? Me too, me too.

(Post-Listening) I didn't hate it, but I also couldn't wait for it to be over. As we've discussed before, this music does nothing for me. But as grunge goes, it was probably more up my alley than most (*cough*PEARLJAM*cough*). I would never have put it this far up the list.

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


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#333: Aqualung by Jethro Tull (1971)

7.14.2011


Aqualung by Jethro Tull (1971)

Favorite Track(s): "Cross-Eyed Mary" and "Cheap Day Return" and "Mother Goose" and "Wond'ring Aloud" and "Up to Me" and "My God" and "Wind Up"

Thoughts: (Pre-Listening) I really should like Jethro Tull. And maybe I will! But I feel like I've been taught to disregard them, so I've never taken the time to get to know their catalog. I have three associations with them. 1) That they apparently won a hard rock/metal grammy over Metallica and it was a big controversy, 2) Jethro Tull was apparently a real person, thanks to Yacht Rock musical education, and 3) my dad had this album in his Jeep for a long time, which always confused me. I knew they were a rock band, but this made them look like they played classical music (probably because I don't really associate rock with flutes, but that's my own prejudice):



I have a feeling I'll love this album, but we're about to find out!

(Post-Listening) Their rock was good, but the folkier, acoustic music was sublime. "Wondr'ing Aloud" wasn't just one of the best songs I've heard on this list, it's one of the best songs I've ever heard. Just...wow. I was prepared to like Jethro Tull, but now I might love them.

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



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#334: Cheap Thrills by Big Brother and the Holding Company


Cheap Thrills by Big Brother and the Holding Company (1968)

Favorite Track(s): "Combination of the Two" and "I Need A Man to Love" and "Oh, Sweet Mary" and "Piece of My Heart"

Thoughts: I've always liked Janis Joplin, but I've never owned any of her music. Much like Jimi Hendrix and other artists of their all-too-short era, I'm very impressed and in awe of their talent, but not super eager to spend time listening to their music.

But listening to this album was highly enjoyable! I'm still not at the point of needing it on my iPod, but I recommend it for sure.

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

#335:The Heart of Saturday Night by Tom Waits

7.11.2011


The Heart of Saturday Night by Tom Waits (1974)

Favorite Track(s): "New Coat of Paint" and "San Diego Serenade" and "The Heart of Saturday Night" and "Please Call Me, Baby"

Thoughts: (Pre-Listening) Oh hey, Tom Waits is back. I've missed him so much. Can you hear the excitement in my voice? It's off the charts.

Let's get real, internet. It's a Monday afternoon, I got about 5 hours of sleep last night, and I wish I was at my pool right now. That's right, my condo building has a pool. And I want to hear something soothing and melancholy but beautiful. Tom Waits, you're album cover is based off of The Wee Small Hours of the Morning by Frank Sinatra, so I have high hopes.

(Post-Listening) Ok, now I see what the big fuss is about Tom Waits. This album was exceptional in mood, lyrics, and musicality. I looked it up, and both Bruce Springsteen and Tom Waits' debut albums were released in 1973, so we can't say if one stole from the other, but if they've ever sounded alike, it's here. Of course Waits' album is less rock and its his singing style on certain tracks and lyrics that remind of the Boss more than anything. Some of the songs ("New Coat of Paint", "Fumblin' With the Blues") were jazzier than others, and guess who I was reminded of in those?



Is This Better Than A Hard Day's Night?: I didn't think I'd say it, but maybe. MAYBE.

#336: Damaged by Black Flag


Damaged by Black Flag (1981)

Favorite Track(s): "Rise Above" and "TV Party" and "Depression"

Thoughts: (Pre-Listening) We're so high up in the list now, guys, that it's hard for me to see bands on here now that I've never heard of. And even harder are the ones I'm not pleased to learn about upon looking them up.

There are three words that wikipedia uses to characterize this band, Black Flag, as: American, hardcore, and punk. I believe that the absence and replacement of one--just one--of these words could have saved me. Say, an American hardcore folk band. Or an American psychedelic punk band. Or even a British hardcore punk band! Any of those combinations might possibly have prevented me from feeling like this right now:



But with a grimace on my face and clenched fists, I open my ears to you, Black Flag. Show why you are worthy of this ranking.

(Post-Listening) This album could have been a lot worse. Well, I mean it could have been as terrible as I was expecting it to be. But I think what saved it for me was the year it was made: 1981. It was still close enough to the 70s that I didn't despise it musically. Some of the songs even had a sense of humor, like "TV Party." Unless that was supposed to be a serious satirical comment on how much TV people watch? If so, that's even funnier. "Spray Paint" sounded like a spoof of a punk song. Genius lyrics like it feels good to say what I want/it feels good to knock things down.

As you can see from my favorite tracks, there were a few songs that kept my attention or didn't sound like white noise, but the rest I'm afraid were easy to forget and disregard. Not a bad album, but deserving to be on this list at ALL? No.

Is This Better Than A Hard Day's Night?: The following line from "I Should Have Known Better" is better than the entire breadth of Damaged:




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#337: Play by Moby

7.08.2011


Play by Moby (1999)

Favorite Track(s): "Porcelain" and "Why Does My Heart Feel So Bad?" and "South Side" and "Natural Blues" and "Run On" and "Everloving"

Thoughts: Trippy, fun, original. A genius album, to be sure. Should it be this high on the list? Not in my opinion. I would see this in the 400s, not the 300s, personally.

Is This Better Than A Hard Day's Night?: Not to me...but very good!

Philippe Halsman's Jumpology

7.07.2011

Audrey Hepburn

Anthony Perkins

I love these. All images found here. Halsman said, "when you ask a person to jump, his attention is mostly directed toward the act of jumping and the mask falls so that the real person appears."

My favorites:

Eva Marie Saint

And this is Hattie Jaques, a British comedienne from the 60s I've only heard of this evening, after watching a BBC4 drama about her called Hattie, starring two of my absolute favorites, Aidan Turner and Ruth Jones. It was heartbreaking and troubling, but very good. It's on youtube if it interests you!

And if you're wondering why I'm blogging at 3 in the morning, the answer is the water in my building was somehow turned off without any knowledge to its inhabitants. I called our property manager and he said they had a plumber coming out, but no water has run since 8pm, and I consequently have a case of anxious insomnia. But I found these cool pictures!

#370 - #338: Personal Favorites

7.06.2011



The good news is, these lists are getting easier to make! Which makes sense, since we're supposedly moving towards the best stuff. Here were my favorites from this portion, and links to my reviews/favorite tracks:

1. Bat Out of Hell by Meatloaf
2. 52nd Street by Billy Joel
3. Volunteers by Jefferson Airplane
4. Louder Than Bombs by The Smiths
5. Honky Chateau by Elton John
6. The Eagles by The Eagles
7. Late for the Sky by Jackson Browne
8. Three Feet and Rising by De La Soul
9. Sketches of Spain by Miles Davis
10. Siren by Roxy Music

Honorable Mentions: Roger the Engineer by The Yardbirds, Ray of Light by Madonna, and Substance (1987) by New Order.

#401 - #371
#432 - #402
#462 - #433
#500 - #463

Happy Listening!

#338: Violator by Depeche Mode


Violator by Depeche Mode (1990)

Favorite Track(s): "World In My Eyes" and "Personal Jesus" and "Halo" and "Waiting for the Night" and "Policy of Truth" and "Blue Dress"

Thoughts: (Pre-Listening) I actually have no idea what to expect from this album. Depeche Mode has always been a band I've dismissed as dated, shallow 80s music...mostly because of their name. Which is rude, because I have no idea what their name means. Or if they even are actually from the 80s.

(Post-Listening) Well, this album is from 1990, and the band is electronica! Two things I've learned today. Based on our past encounters you'd think I would have disliked anything in this genre, but I really enjoyed Violator. It was ethereal ("Waiting For the Night") and sexy and dark ("Halo") but lovely too, and accessible for non-Electronic listeners (at least I thought so).

Is This Better Than A Hard Day's Night?: Sure! I mean, I probably won't listen to it again, but I can understand why people would see it as more 'advanced' and just as quality.

#339: Bat Out of Hell by Meatloaf


Bat Out of Hell by Meatloaf (1977)

Favorite Track(s): "Bat Out of Hell" and "You Took the Words Right Out of My Mouth (Hot Summer Night)" and "Heaven Can Wait" and "All Revved Up With No Place to Go" and "Two Out of Three Ain't Bad" and "Paradise by the Dashboard Light" and "For Crying Out Loud"

Thoughts: What a coincidence! Only last night I bought a Meatloaf song, "Left in the Dark"! Well, actually it's Barbra Streisand singing the song, but it was first recorded by Meatloaf, and if I don't karaoke it before I'm dead, I will have led a meaningless life. I wish Barbra had done more Jim Steinman songs, because her pipes are perfect for their rock-epicness.

The three things I associate with Meatloaf don't have much to do with him singing his music. 1) As Eddie in Rocky Horror Picture Show, 2) "It's All Coming Back To Me Now" which Meatloaf really wanted to record (he was taken to court by Jim Steinman!), but it went to Celine Dion first, and 3) I remember that my parents owned a CD of Welcome to the Neighborhood (1995) which I don't think I ever listened to because of the cover.

But the album! This was my first listen to Bat Out of Hell, and oh my word, I'm speechless. It's like Bruce Springsteen meets Queen meets Rocky Horror meets doo-wop meets EVERYTHING I LOVE. It's no surprise I'm a bit reminded of Bruce, as Roy Bittan and Max Weinberg of the E Street Band played on the album, and you can tell. God, I want Roy Bittan to play every piano in the world. I'm not kidding.

And did you know the album came out of a musical called Neverland, which was a sci-fi update of Peter Pan? And that album cover art--incredible! The lyrics were amazing as well. I think one of my favorite verses was from "Two Out of Three Ain't Bad":

And all I can do is keep on telling you
I want you
I need you
But there ain't no way I'm ever gonna love you
Now don't be sad
'Cause two out of three ain't bad
Now don't be sad
'Cause two out of three ain't bad

Maybe I'm in a Meatloaf-induced haze, but that is so brilliant. I want you, I need you, and I'm never gonna love you, but two out of three ain't bad. LOVE IT.

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



YES.

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#340: Berlin by Lou Reed

7.05.2011


Berlin by Lou Reed (1973)

Favorite Track(s): "Lady Day" and "Caroline Says I" and "Oh Jim" and "The Kids" and "The Bed" and "Sad Song"

Thoughts: (Pre-Listening) Lou Reed is another artist I've always heard good things about, but never been exposed to (I think). I've only just learned he was in The Velvet Underground, a band I tend to confuse with--don't hate me!--The Verve. Regardless, I have high expectations!

(Post-Listening) Ok, it was very, very good. It was much more sentimental and lovely than I expected. I think I always associated Lou Reed with toughness and grit and harsh, 'edgy' music. But to find he seems to be a big softy is a treat! And I'm fairly sure this is one of those albums that would grow more wonderful and surprising with every listen. Well played, Lou Reed, well played. I look forward to hearing more of you!

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

#341: Stop Making Sense by Talking Heads

7.01.2011


Stop Making Sense by Talking Heads (1984)

Favorite Track(s): "Burning Down the House" and "Once In A Lifetime"

Thoughts: Oh, it's you again, Talking Heads. Remember how much I loved your last album? Yeah, not really at all.

But this one was better! I think. I don't know, I was ready for it to be over as soon as it began. The recognizable singles (my listed favorites) were good, but the rest feel flat for me. Not my bag, as we've discussed.

Is This Better Than A Hard Day's Night?: Not to me, I'm afraid.

Song of the day.



Also obsessed with this one since I heard it on SYTYCD. "Cathedrals" by Jump Little Children.

#342: Three Feet High and Rising by De La Soul


Three Feet High and Rising by De La Soul (1989)

Favorite Track(s): "The Magic Number" and "Cool Breeze on the Rocks" and "Jenifa Taught Me (Derwin's Revenge)" and "Ghetto Thang" and "Eye Know" and "A Little Bit of Soap" and "Say No Go" and "Me Myself and I" and "I Can Do Anything (Delacratic)"

Thoughts: I have to say I didn't know who De La Soul was before today. But this hip-hop album was the sh*t. The samples for their songs were all over the board: Led Zeppelin, Michael Jackson, Johnny Cash, The Monkees, Hall & Oates, Jefferson Starship, Beastie Boys, Kraftwerk, Parliament, Billy Joel, the list goes on!

But beyond the sweet grooves, the rhymes were clever and impressive, and the content never once made me weep for mankind! Definitely recommend.

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



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