Three Mondays in a row! I’m wondering if that means that I have a new streak or I have way too much time on my hands. I think it’s the latter. My wallet, my bank account, my WIFE… definitely show it’s the latter. Oh well. Here’s hoping this next set is on par with the last two. That would be some consolation, I guess. Let’s just jump right in.
#350 – Roger the Engineer by The Yardbirds. Two from The Yardbirds in five entries. This is a British Invasion for sure. And this one, I liked. It’s the 1960s Brit Rock that you’d expect when you hear the name Yardbirds. “Lost Woman” and “Over Under Sideways Down,” from the get go, is right in your face and it’s beautiful chaos. These contain nothing mundane. Everything is doing something and it’s not subtle. The bass is rolling (it’s Jeff Beck playing bass on “Over Under Sideways Down) and the guitar, whilst sounding like noodling, is actually quite conformed and the drums are jumping. Beck sings “The Nazz Are Blue” and while I hate that 12-bar blues thing, these vox are spot on. After that, it kind of tones down the “in your face bit” but is still good background music. A lot of yah yah yahs in “Hot House of Omagarashid” and a lot of “noise, but I enjoyed that noise. It was certainly fun. This is the first album with Jeff Beck wielding the axe so of course there’s the bluestastic “Jeff’s Boogie” with a variety of jams highlighting him. “Turn Into Earth” not only has a morbid-sounding title, it pretty much is. The song is eerie, really. I love the use of depth in the older albums. In the days before surround sound (I’m guessing, I’m no expert on the matter) it sounds like they had to use reverb and mic placement to make depth-of-venue type effects to create huge rooms out of small ones. Again, I did some of this in my first stint of college but I’m only guessing that’s what they’re doing here. Turns out the whole end of the album is almost depressing (it bounces in and out). That’s ok, though. Still a good album. Dug.
#349 – The Black Album by JAY-Z. I’m supposing the female on “December 4th” is or is portrayed as Shawn Carter’s (JAY-Z) mother, Gloria. I know I should just get over it but the “N” word use KILLS me. I know I’ve said it 800 times before; it’s annoying, a hangup. The beauty of this album is, though, that there is some good music on it. I love the “chorus” of “What More Can I Say.” A lot of stories here, this was touted as his “Final Album.” We know that’s baloney because just three years later, he released Kingdom Come. They called that a “comeback album.” I think that’s ridiculous. But back to this. I’m happy that there aren’t a lot of “special guests” on this album. It’s a true JAY-Z album and not some amalgam of contemporaries. This is the first time ever that I’ve actually heard the real version of “99 Problems.” I’ve only heard other people bastardize the song (and usually horribly). I like that song. “Justify My Thug” is good musically. I was head bobbing whilst writing this. Overall, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be. I know that sounds bad, I just don’t really get into the hip-hop genre. I appreciate it, I truly do. I just can’t get into it. Overall, I’ll say I dug this one.
#348 – At Newport 1960 by Muddy Waters. Wait, was something playing here? It sounded like background noise to me. I loathe this style of music. It just played as I did other things. BIG THUMBS DOWN!
#347 – The Piper at the Gates of Dawn by Pink Floyd. I’ll go ahead and say it. I don’t really care for Syd Barrett. I’ve not done enough (any) drugs to get into the psychedelia. I’m used to overwrought jams from Floyd, which are, to me, at times, a bit thick. Some harmonies come out great in this collection, though. “Astronomy Domine” I came to know from the Echoes greatest hits collection. It’s trippy and when listened to with the eyes closed, departing. I do like the guitar riffs of “Interstellar Overdrive,” and “Scarecrow” is pretty alright, too. “Bike” is one of the ones on Echoes that I just skip over, so I was wishing I could skip over it for this, too. Just like the previous entry in this segment, it just becomes background and isn’t anything I get especially excited about. Couldn’t care less.
#346 – 3 Feet High and Rising by De La Soul. It’s funny from the start with the game show like “Intro.” “The Magic Number” is a play on the Schoolhouse Rocks classic “Three is a Magic Number” by Bob Dorough (also remade by Blind Melon). In fact, the sampling of the original is a cool addition as is a sampling of Johnny Cash’s “Three Feet High and Rising.” This whole thing falls in the hip-hop area that I really like. Some late ’80s/early ’90s rap with melodic rhythm and good pop music (mostly sampled), it’s just fun. No one is yelling at anyone, just telling interesting stories that aren’t necessarily trying to be the mouthpiece of a generation. Just write and perform good songs. That’s all I ask. Part of the fun of this is trying to find the hidden sampled gems. One instance that I was surprised was Steely Dan’s “Peg” showing up in “Eye Know.” The music and the chorus both were there; nice! “(I Can’t) Go for That” from Hall & Oates is the basis of “Say No Go.” Of course, the highight of the album is the mega hit, “Me, Myself & I.” I had never really listened very closely but I like it. This was also the first in a long time that I had to search outside of Rhapsody. Thank you, YouTube. I dug it. It was a jewel in the rough after the two clunkers (my opinion) that preceded it.
#345 – Stop Making Sense by Talking Heads. I know I put a lot of revelations on here but I never saw the film. Everyone tells me that it would probably be my fave concert film if I did. Going to be hard to beat U2 at Slane Castle in Sept. 2001. Never have I been a huge fan of Talking Heads but I respect what they do and most of the songs that I hear, I really, really enjoy. So, I’m looking forward to listening, and actually watching, this. “Psycho Killer” and “Heaven” acoustic are righteous. I’ll say that Tina Waymouth is a beast on bass. Just wow! One of my favorite Talking Heads songs ever is “Burning Down the House” and this version does NOT disappoint. So much energy and passion in this version. “Life During Wartime” is another favorite of mine and they’re back-to-back. The sound quality of this live album is exquisite. You hear everything so clearly and it’s very intricate. There’s nothing that stands out on its own so much as it’s a collective ball of awesome. Waymouth and husband Chris Frantz’s side project, Tom Tom Club, perform their big hit, “Genius of Love” to give Byrne a chance to throw on his big duds, the ones he became known for, toward the end. Probably one of the best versions of “Once in a Lifetime” that I’ve heard and that’s one of my faves. Yet another of those, “Girlfriend is Better,” and where this album/concert film gets its name, is very strong. I think it sounds better here than the studio version. Overall, this is a fantastic album and is one of my faves from the entire list, thus far. I don’t know if I could have worked “Fave” or “Favorite” in that any more. LOVE!!!
#344 – Berlin by Lou Reed. So far, this thing starts off pretty darned good. I’m three songs in and other than Lou Reed’s bland and flat voice (which fits this perfectly, by the way), I’m enjoying it. Musically, this is a fantastic specimen of 1970s awesomeness. I’m really impressed with the piano work. Nothing spectacular yet spectacularly effective. Since I can’t really discern whether I’m hearing emotion or just rickety vocals, I’m going to err on the side of emotion. I hear this especially in “The Kids.” A song about a woman of assumed “ill repute” losing her children over the deeds she’d done, the song culminated by the sounds of a baby crying and a child calling for its mother in distress. Really powerful and moving; sad. When I say that no song (with the exception of “The Kids”) stands out to me, don’t take that for dismissal of the album. The whole album is a concept album that deals with not only prostitution but drugs and depression, et al. The summation of all the vices and circumstance is an ending that isn’t very happy. In fact, the complete opposite could be said. I didn’t know what to expect, but man, this was one fantastic album. I take that back, it’s an amazing album. To back up what I said earlier, not a single song stands out, but as a collective? There’s not enough letters in “WHOA!” to express how much I thought this was genius. It’s over and I’m still sitting here in awe and trying to think of what words would do it justice. I find that no more words is fitting. Tragically, I LOVE this album.
#343 – Bat Out of Hell by Meat Loaf. This is a fun ride. I own this album, have heard it on many, many occasions and think Jim Steinman, at least at this time, was genius. The length of the songs are a bit long, but the fun takes your mind off that. On more than a few occasions I have asked The BCPF, “On a hot summer night, would you offer your throat to the wolf with the red roses?” Steinman is known for using euphemisms, idioms and cliches in his songs, this is the absolute best demonstration of that. “You Took the Words Right Out of My Mouth,” “Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad” (my favorite on the album) and “Paradise by the Dashboard Light” are prime examples. I really love this album. I enjoyed parts of the sequel from 1993, even “I’d Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That).” I’ve talked about Jim Steinman, but this is a Meat Loaf album. Meat Loaf has a very distinctive and powerful voice. Trust me when I say it’s hard to emulate or even perform these songs; he’s in high registers and with that power, it’s taxing on one’s voice. But man, it’s good stuff. DIG!!
#342 – Violator by Depeche Mode. It was around this time that I first ever heard of Depeche Mode. I thought it was some bad food or something, I didn’t know. “Personal Jesus” made me think it was some atheist BS but it’s not, really. After all, now I’m atheist so it wouldn’t have been so bad. I do love “PJ” though. That’s a great guitar riff. I am a sucker, for sure, when it comes to electronic-based pop. “World in my Eyes” is another fantabulous song and opens the album nicely. So much good on here. “Enjoy the Silence” (another fave) is a bit weirder than I’ve ever heard it. Up until now, I’ve only ever heard it on Sirius’ First Wave or on the Greatest Hits compilation that I have. Heck the version on mine even leaves out the cool fade followed by the “enjoy the silence” vox. It just fades out. Sad really. I don’t know what all this extra is about, though. “Policy of Truth” is bouncy and definitely a head-bobber. Overall, there is something sinister sounding about this album. I’m not sure what, and I don’t really care. Maybe that is what drives me to like it even more? Who knows. DIG DIG DIG!!
#341 – Play by Moby. Caveat: this is only Play and not Play & Play: B-sides. 2 electronic music acts back-to-back. I like that. Is it possible to say that Moby is a hero of mine without really having heard very much of his stuff? I am a fan of, and have written, electronic music. He’s a top name in the vast sea that is electronic music. He artfully puts loops and patches together with uniquely placed instrumentation and vocals. It’s a great marriage therein. “Honey” the opening track features Bessie Jones, an American blues singer. “Find My Baby” features Boy Blue’s “Joe Lee’s Rock.” Moby does the vocals himself on “Porcelain.” From what I understand, he didn’t like it, but was talked into it. I think it’s a great song. He also sang on “South Side”, “Machete”, “If Things Were Perfect” and “The Sky Is Broken.” This album makes for a great backdrop to a busy day. As I listen, I’m working on TWO other blog posts and some social media tasks. But, I’m still involved. Other albums in this segment (*cough* Muddy Waters *cough* *cough* The Piper at the Gates of Dawn *cough*) were background noise and noise is being kind. This is not background, as I said, it’s a backdrop; sets the mood. I love the way he takes traditional American music and mixes it with modern electronica, a la “Natural Blues” which features “Trouble So Hard” by Vera Hall. And ethereal. Check out “Guitar Flute & String,” you’ll see it. So much awesomeness on this album. Truly, I can’t say it enough. Dug!
Wow, there were some BIG revelations for me on this segment. Some I really, really, really loved and some I couldn’t give two flips about. One of those was actually a disappointment because of it. I am certainly looking for Lou Reed’s Berlin on vinyl and I want to hear it with headphones. It was a fun segment and I can’t wait to start on the next one. What are your thoughts on these albums? Do you agree or disagree with me? Which of these would be your pick if you had to choose one? Hit me up and tell me!
Until tomorrow, same blog channel…
“See the storm is broken in the middle of the night. Nothing left here for me. It’s washed away. The rain pushes the buildings aside. The sky turns black. The sky. Wash it far, push it out to sea. There’s nothing left here for me. I watch it lift up to the sky. I watch it crush me and then i die” – “The Sky is Broken” by Moby