We’re going back into the Rolling Stone Top 500 Albums of All Time! When we last left off, there was some good stuff in that section. Let’s see how this one stands up:
#420 – The “Chirping” Crickets by Buddy Holly & the Crickets. The debut of Buddy Holly & The Crickets, this is pretty rad production for the age. 1954 was still in recording infancy for this new-fangled Rock and Roll stuff. Holly staples “Oh Boy” and “That’ll Be the Day” are here as well as a plethora of classic sweetness. Is it something I could listen to for hours? Nope. But, I could listen to it for the 29 minutes that I did and enjoy it. So I dug it!
#419 – Dummy by Portishead. Oh. My. Gawsh! I’m a sucker for chill music and this is chill on, well, I guess it’s stoned. I don’t know, but I do know it was moving. It’s a genre known as trip hop and it is trippy. I’ve never done an illegal substance in my life (and yes, I know some of you don’t believe that) but listening to this, I feel like I’m on some trip. I was swimmy afterwards. Entrancing, yet solidly heavy at times, it’s something that I could, would and should listen to often. Beth Gibbons isn’t the greatest singer in the world but she’s the greatest thing that Portishead could have. Her voice leaves the listener mesmerized in the sea of electronica that is laid before your ears. “Mysterons,” “Pedestal” and “It Could Be Sweet” are just SOME of the wonderfulness oozing from this album. I’m going to say I LOVE this.
#418 – Band on the Run by Paul McCartney & Wings. Um, what can I say about this? I’m never gonna touch the professional critics that have talked about this album for years upon years. The fact that it’s #418 out of 500 is very confusing to me. Especially, peeking through some of the other albums on ahead. Anywhat! The title track is, to me, one of the greatest songs in Rockdom. “Jet” is classic McCartney. Who doesn’t love the palm mute guitars? “Chick. Chick-chick. Chick. Chick-chick.” CLASSIC! “Let Me Roll It” always reminds me of local legend Doug Davis because he has performed it (with me on the stage) with his cover band The Mystery Dates for years. “1985” or, I’m sorry, “Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five” (sic) is an urgent little ditty that is awesome. The version of this album that I have at home and the version I listened to in The Less Desirables Studio are a bit different as my CD version (American version) has “Helen Wheels” where the original (British) didn’t. But, I really, really dig this album. One of my faves, for sure!
#417 – Boy by U2. The first U2 album is also the first one we encounter on this countdown. Produced by Steve Lillywhite after the original producer backed out shortly after the death of Joy Division singer, Ian Curtis. That original producer was Martin Hannett who was known for his work with JD and was too distraught to work at the time. Bono still was singing with heart and emotion with much younger vocal cords and zeal, not the predictable, yet still liked, way he sings today. Edge hadn’t added 20 racks worth of effects, yet. There was plenty of reverb as was par for the course in the early 80s first wave bands. But, as stated about Bono, the whole band seemed hungry, in lyrics, in music, in all. I love the live version of “Out of Control” on the Live from Slane Castle where Bono tells the story of asking all their families for money to record an album and get a record deal. You can still hear that hunger in this version of the song. “I Will Follow” is a staple U2 live song and it’s energetic and in your face. The young’uns rocked it hard back then. This album, while not the best U2 album, is still great and fun to listen to. Especially when you imagine the time it was released. DUG!!!
#416 – Mule Variations by Tom Waits. I’ll admit it (I’ve done that a lot since I started this list, and will continue, I’m sure), I only knew three things about Tom Waits before this. 1) He was pretty bad a-double-s in Mystery Men, 2) He sings like he swallowed 3 tons of #78 stone (pea gravel) and 3) I didn’t like it. So, with this, I can erase #3. Not saying I love it, by any means, but I don’t not like it. Straight away, “Big in Japan” made me turn toward the screen with a most confused, yet, impressed look on my face. There is sass on that track. Sass is putting it lightly, too. Then move to “Lowside of the Road” and it gives that Delta blues feel that I could see/hear Robert Johnson tapping his foot to and singing and playing into a can way back in the day, while the devil waited on his appointment at the crossroads, wondering why he was late. There is something about this album. Sexy. Sexy? Sexy. Don’t know if it’s intentional or not, but it’s there. Lots of dirty record sounds on this platter that makes it even more “dated” and, yes, more sexy. There’s a creepiness to “Chocolate Jesus” that really trips my trigger, too. Did I mention that this album is sexy? Dug!
#415 – Van Halen by Van Halen. FOUR HUNDRED FIFTEEN!?!? Are you (blankety-blank- blank) kidding me!? THIS album is the one that changed the face of modern guitar. It may not be the favorite to many VH fans (that usually goes to VH2) but I think this is the better album. Not a bad song on it and Eddie’s work was fresh. New. Not at all shiny, either. It was rough, crude. It was Van Halen. The siren to over-driven bass in “Running with the Devil” set a precedence in which you knew you were going to get punched in the ears with a unrelenting onslaught of sound. “Eruption” was the guitar solo to end all guitar solos; the new king of I want to learn that shite right now; the requisite training for getting your Local Guitar God license. “I’m the One” slapped you while holding up and prepping you for another. Tone-Loc even took “Jamie’s Crying” and made it into one of the best-selling rap songs of the ’80s. That whine, that sass, that… that… ARGH! How in the ach-eee-elle-elle can this be this high of a number in this countdown?! Face palm! I LOVE this album.
#414 – Beauty and the Beat by The Go-Gos. American New-Wave punk with CHICKS!! Belinda Carlisle’s vocals weren’t punk but the words coming out of her mouth were. Jane Wiedlin and Charlotte Caffey are beasts (or beauties) of songwriters. These girls didn’t play around. But, you wanted to play around with them. They were hot and they were rockers! “We Got the Beat” and it’s heavy revolving bass line from Kathy Valentine is noticeable as soon as you hear the first note. “Automatic” is a slow rocker that also showcases Valentine’s work and kind of grooves you at the same time. And, let’s not forget “Our Lips are Sealed.” That song was the first hint we get of Belinda’s vocals. Both on the album and it was their first single. The album, by the way was unseated from the #1 position by Vangelis’ soundtrack for Chariots of Fire. Just found that interesting. Dug!!
#413 – Double Nickels on the Dime by Minutemen. Before, I mentioned how I only know something of this or that and blah blah blah. Well, I’m giving you yet another: I had never heard of Minutemen before. Nothing. The high school I attended back in the mountains of West Virginia had the Minutemen as their mascot, but this is different. Much different. The BCPF hadn’t heard of them either, although this is more in her league than mine. It’s part Talking Heads, part punk, part straight rock. It’s steady, let’s say that. It’s a double album in which the actual vinyl version had unique names for the sides: “Side D” (side 1), “Side Mike” (2), “Side George” (3), “Side Chaff” (4). The band was a trio and there was no Chaff. I don’t get it, but truthfully I don’t get a lot of this album. 45 songs. The beauty of that is, only 1/4 or so are over 2 minutes long, the longest 3:05. I’m not saying I don’t like it, but it’s definitely one that makes me wonder how in the honey-baked Hades this is higher in a list than Van Halen I?!?!?!?! Neither here nor there on this one.
#412 – Pink Flag by Wire. This album was NOT on Rhapsody, so I had to go to YouTube and listen to the whole album. Some post-punk stuffs from this English band from 1977. Again, don’t know a thing about this band other than what I looked up. As I’m finding with a lot of punk albums, the songs aren’t very long. This works out quite well when it’s something that I wish would be over soon. Again, as with Minutemen, not saying I don’t like it, just don’t want to hear it again. Meh.
#411 – 461 Ocean Boulevard by Eric Clapton. Typical Eric Clapton drivel. And did he not write his own stuff? Jeez. 10 songs on this album and he has credit on only 3 songs not counting the first which is just arranged by him. I roll my eyes because I think Clapton is one of the most over rated guitar players in recording history. He does what he does okay, but what he does isn’t that great. I’ve never made any qualms about my disfavor of “blues.” Again, I’m not talking about bluesy riffs or stuff that’s anchored in the blues traditions and scales. That’s fine, it’s blues music itself. Especially the 12 bar kind. The only stuff on here that I could even tolerate is “Get Ready” with Yvonne Elliman, “Please Be With Me,” and Marley’s “I Shot the Sheriff.” People, get off the Clapton train, please!! Again, I give a meh.
After a great, strong start the segment went downhill at the end of the stretch. Fell off at the end, really. So I’m almost caught up with where I’m actually listening. That will be the next ten, so I’m on my way. The next will probably lead to an analysis of the first 100 that I’ve gone through. Stay tuned, Dear Reader. Thank you for reading!
So until tomorrow, same blog channel…
“I live my life like there’s no tomorrow, and all I’ve got I had to steal. Least I don’t need to beg or borrow. Yes, I’m living at a pace that kills” – “Runnin’ with the Devil” by Van Halen