The “Rolling Stone’s Top 500 Albums of All Time” segments are getting tight now. The higher it gets the better, theoretically, they should get even better. I say higher. Is it higher or lower? The numbers get lower but I think of it as higher on the list. #1 is the highest, right? So let’s go with that. The higher, the better. And, this segment will close out the 300s. We’re moving along nicely. Enough yakking, let’s hit it!
#310 – Blood Sugar Sex Magik by Red Hot Chili Peppers. Caveat: I didn’t listen to this in order or for the list. That’s not a bad thing, I’m not “skipping” it. I didn’t realize it was coming on the list at this time but I’d already listened to it, in its entirety about a month ago. If I think Chili Peppers, I think this album. I’ll say it, I know I’ll get flogged for it, but I had never heard of them before seeing the video for “Give It Away.” At that time it was mostly played on 120 Minutes and I stayed far away from that. I just did, sorry. But, “Give It Away,” “Breaking the Girl,” “Under the Bridge” and “If You Have to Ask” are great songs, but to me the gem and jewel of this album is “Suck My Kiss.” I’m partial to that one because I played it in probably the first real band I was in after my move to NC. Flea is a beast and to play his bass lines are quite difficult. Especially when you’re a pick player and he does all his stuff finger style. There are advantages and disadvantages to both it’s just style, plain and simple. That just means he’s hard to duplicate, even if I was a finger picker. It’s a great album and I’m surprised it’s this low on the list. Dug!
#309 – Willy and the Poor Boys by Credence Clearwater Revival. Every time I hear CCR I think of my uncle Curt. He is a big fan. After being part of the CCD Vagabond Saints Society show a few years back, I gained a new respect for them. I didn’t really care about them when I was younger, I don’t turn it now. I do find it funny they have this bayou sound when they’re from Southern California. Oh well. “Down on the Corner” has an iconic riff. You know exactly what that is when you hear it. Follow that up with “It Came Out of the Sky” and it’s that straight forward rock and roll. Actually, that is what I’d call rock and roll. Sixties at its heyday. I’d say outside of Black Sabbath or Led Zeppelin, this is some heavy stuff. At least some of it. Still rock and roll, though. This rolls more than some rock. I really like it. They get that southern shuffle happening in “Feelin’ Blue.” Not necessarily a shuffle beat but the ambiance of the song itself is groovy like a shuffle. The anti-war anthem and Forrest Gump staple, “Fortunate Son” is a fave of mine. Although, it seems Fogerty was waiting to burst a vein singing it. Sign of the times, I guess. I don’t think I ever knew how short that song is coming in at just under two and a half minutes. “Don’t Look Now” reminds me of some Elvis song. And then finish it off with a very dark song, “Effigy” about a funeral pyre or something as Fogerty asks “Who is burnin’?” A little noir, but that’s ok, again, so were the times. Great album, I dug it!
#308 – Songs for Swingin’ Lovers by Frank Sinatra. Oh, my first Frank on the list, I do believe. One of the oldest albums on this list, I believe, too. There was some Robert Johnson I think and that would probably be older, but this style of popular music was still a relatively new thingy back in 1956 so I can see why this is included. I’m a big fan of Frank, too. Ol’ Blue Eyes was the consummate gentleman’s crooner back then. He’s incredible. It’s classic Frank, too. “You’re Getting to be a Habit with Me,” “Pennies from Heaven,” “I’ve Got You Under My Skin,” “Makin’ Whoopee.” I know a lot of people do these standards but while some may be staples for others, to me, if Frank put his stamp on it, then it’s his, no matter what. No offense, to Louis, Sammy, Deano, Ella, Etta, Tony, Vic, Mel or Nat. Dug!
#307 – A Hard Days Night by The Beatles. Another one that I didn’t actually listen to for the list. I’m a huge Beatles fan (second favorite band) and I have them on constant shuffle on my iPod. All the Beatles albums are on there so while I may not get it in order, I do get it often. Heavens Sake used to do the title track as our show closer, it was always fun to play. “And I Love Her” is a sweet little song as is “I’m Happy Just to Dance with You.” You know a song’s powerful when they name a movie after it, á la “Can’t Buy Me Love.” Not saying the movie was as good as the song, though. I’ll never forget “I’ll Be Back” because, being a KISS fan, Gene and Paul did that on the “mockumentary” KISS EXposed (1987). That was the first time I heard it. I’ll say it’s not my favorite Beatles album but it’s still a darned fine one. Dug!
#306 – Odelay by Beck. I don’t know that I knew this was so electronic. Lots of his and scratches along with the hyper-spacious ‘verb along with some surf-a-billy stylings, at least in the first song, “Devil’s Haircut.” There’s some hints of hip-hop/alternative that was popular in the mid-’90s. From what I can tell, this album was spot on for the times. There is also no shortage of noise on this disc. I’m not three songs in and I don’t know how to categorize this. I like that. I don’t want to be held to a genre, I want to listen to enjoy. It’s all rock (well, “Lord Only Knows” is mostly rock) as far as I can tell. Still, the hints of hip-hop are prevalent. Samples are prevalent and that’s not a bad thing. I’m not sure if I’ve ever heard anything on this album I’m thinking maybe something will pop out on me whilst listening, but thus far, nothing. Nice jack-ass sounds on “Jack-ass.” I also love that they have an actual track dedicated to sounding like the end of a side on a vinyl album. And the intro to “Where It’s At” sounds like a record actually being needled. I believe my favorite song is the ’70s esque “Sissyneck.” It’s pretty great with it’s laid back groove, melody and lyrics. This is a great album and I recommend it! Dig!
#305 – Car Wheels on a Gravel Road by Lucinda Williams. Alt-country and I mean ALT country. I can’t tell if I think she was drunk for the whole thing or if that’s just her way of doing things. To me, it sounds like listening to people sing from some small church in the backwoods somewhere in Rural America. Maybe it sounds good to (insert deity of choice here)? I’m not saying she’s bad, just that it kind of sounds week with some over-exaggerated country accent. Perhaps that’s really how she does, but “cawfeeee, ayggs and baycun” sounds a bit contrived. It’s decent country music, I just can’t get past that accent. And I’m from the country. I’m going to be ridden hard for this review, but I just don’t get past some aspects of this album and, I suppose, Ms. Wiliams. Again, the songs aren’t bad, well written and mostly well played. I can’t tell if it’s a joke. She’s just annoying me. Reminds me of “Mercedes Benz” from Janis Joplin and I always felt that was a little bit tongue-in-cheek. There are bright spots, though. “I Lost It” is a pretty good song. I also didn’t hate “Lake Charles.” Granted both of those songs are later in the set, perhaps I grew accustomed to her voice? Don’t think so. Didn’t dig..,
#304 – Grace by Jeff Buckley. Laid back but powerful. That’s my first impression of the opening track, “Mojo Pin.” Buckley lets it rip in some Zeppelin-like instrumentation during that tune. The title track which follows is a shuffle beat with great instrumentation. Hearing this song, I kept saying, “what does this remind me of?” I
figured it out and wonder if Jon Witteveen was at all inspired by Buckley when he was writing tunes for Creamy Velour’s Angel’s Guise album? If so, well played, sir, well played! The BCPF says she’s conflicted with this album. She rants and raves about his version of “Hallelujah” which is pretty fantastic. However, I’m not hearing anything that I don’t like. I especially love his guts to use that rich and powerful falsetto on “Corpus Christi Carol.” That’s some awesome stuff; so emotional. I really like this album, wonder why it’s not higher and would like to have it on vinyl. I definitely DUG this one!
#303 – John Wesley Harding by Bob Dylan. Oh Jeff Buckley, I thank you for being the rock stuck between two horrible singers. The upside? The two bookends were actually great songwriters, I just hate to have to listen to them sing it. Plusses and minuses here? I hear the stories that he’s telling and I’ll catch glimpses of greatness (excepting the vocals) but other than “The Ballad of Frankie Lee and Judas Priest” and “All Along the Watchtower” I’m not finding anything that really grabs me. Wait, for some reason, “Down Along the Cove” is grabbing me. Not inappropriately, mind you, but it’s grabby anyways. But, overall the “recently gone electric” Dylan wasn’t really doing it for me. Meh.
#302 – Fear of a Black Planet by Public Enemy. A pivotal album in the hip-hop world. It embodies all the things I think of when I think of “classic” hip-hop. Lots going on and social, accessible, activist lyrics like in “Brothers Gonna Work It Out” and the highly successful single, “911 is a Joke,” which I think is a great song. Hello Vincent Price. “Incident at 66.6 FM” pretty much tells the tale of struggles, scrutiny and negative press the group had to endure. The rap is good, the tunes are good, the album is good. This is one of the early days of sampling’s finest hours. Almost all of the album’s music is made up of samples from a very wide array of tunes and genres. Oh and Flavor Flav is hilarious both in real life and on here. Chuck D is pointed and takes charge. The flow of the songs is quite rapid, it just moves. It doesn’t linger, it doesn’t need. Not hard to pick out Ice Cube on “Burn Hollywood Burn.” A lot of anti-racism and “take control of your situation” talk in these songs. I think they pulled it off perfectly, at least in the beginning. I think this album is about 7 or 8 songs too long. It gets redundant after the title track. The tracks seem to lose substance and just be a bunch of samples and effects. It ends with a (pun intended) powerful “Fight the Power.” Overall, a landmark album that I think was great, albeit a bit long. Dug.
#301 – Coat of Many Colors by Dolly Parton. Talk about stark contrast. From Public Enemy straight to Dolly Parton. The title track is one that Dolly says is one of her favorites she’s ever written. One thing I love about Dolly is she does write most of her own stuff. On this album there are three songs written by Porter Wagoner, her long-time collaborator and close friend. I personally thought they were “together” but I don’t see any real evidence of this. Anywhat! Back to the title track, it’s basically a retelling of the Joseph and his coat of many colors from the Bible, as told by her mother. “Traveling Man” is funny and I wonder if it doesn’t have something to do with Wagoner, at least a bit? There’s Americana-laden pop in here, too. Not really even country as I’d categorize it. I think the Porter Wagoner aspect always led me to believe that she was more country. It’s her accent, too, maybe? Dolly’s voice is really strong and amazing on this album. I know ma père was a big fan of hers and I listened some but not really in depth, as a child. I’m actually taken aback a bit listening. She’s really great. Powerful voice, powerfully written songs, powerful storytelling. What more could you want? Definitely dug!
So we’re down another hundred. I’ll be writing a post next week that will serve as a retrospective of this 100 albums. But, that’s next week. This segment had a lot of good stuff; only one I didn’t like and one I was mostly indifferent about. I’m looking forward to the next segment as well as the next 100 set. What do you think of the albums on this section? What do you think of my views? Do you agree or disagree? Drop me a line and let me know!
Until tomorrow, same blog channel…
– “Corpus Christi Carol” by Anon., Britten, Buckley from Grace