We will move to the outer fringe of the 200s on this stint of Rolling Stone Top 500 Albums of All Time. Last time was an overall good session, so here’s hoping the same for this one. Let’s hit it!
#210 – Everybody Knows This is Nowhere by Neil Young. I’ve grown a better appreciation (overall, at least) of Neil Young with this list. This is no exception. “Cinnamon Girl” is a classic rock radio staple. “Round & Round (It Won’t Be Long)” is a laid back folksy ditty that demands and deserves respect as a well written song. Again, it’s Neil Young so I’m not thrilled about the sound of his voice but it really fits these songs. The feeling of the song is somewhat haunted and strained and that’s how he always sounds. That is quite fitting here. “Down by the River” is anthemic, yet still, keeps some laid back qualities. But, those aren’t as haunting as “Running Dry (Requiem for the Rockets)” as that is some sorrowful stuff. I almost wanted to cry. Chilling, really. While I don’t love the final cut, I’m not offended by it or turned off by it. Just not my favorite thing on the album, which, overall, I’ll say I dug it. It has some good moments and some really good moments. Yep, dug!
#209 – Ten by Pearl Jam. I’m going to say this: Pearl Jam shot their wad on this album. Sure, there were some glimmers of good in later albums but not a single album they released after could “hold the jock” of this album. And, I’m also going to say this: I don’t really care for Pearl Jam. But, if I was going to pick them out of a line up my faves from the early 90s grunge/hard rock standouts from the Seattle area it would be Alice in Chains, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam and there was some other band I don’t really care about Smirvana or something? I don’t know. I’m kidding on the Nirvana thing, mostly but I still don’t like them. I know, too, that AIC isn’t really in the same category as the others, even though they kick the others’ arses. I own this album and I have listened to it so much in the last little bit, and the fact that we once reviewed it as an “Album of the Week” on The Less Desirables, I’m not going to really talk about it here other than to say, I dug it.
#208 – Tea for the Tillerman by Cat Stevens. I am three days older than this album; at least its release date. It was “born” November 23, 1970 and I was born on Nov. 20 that same year. I wasn’t looking forward to this album and I’m just not getting to it so let’s start at the beginning. I love “Where do the Children Play?” Yep, I said it. It’s funny that this album’s placed one place higher than the Pearl Jam album because you can tell there’s a lot of influence in this opening song on the way Eddie Vedder sings. “Hard Headed Woman” was surprisingly heavy for what it is. That’s pretty cool. Then, my favorite Cat Stevens song (which really was the only one I actually knew – and I like Mr. Big’s version better), “Wild World.” I just love the ‘careful out there’ message and the way its sung. “Sad Lisa” is just that. It’s sad and I know I’ve used this a bit on this segment, but it’s (yes) haunting. The instrumentation is amazing. Throughout the album, Stevens will surprise you by punching you in the face out of nowhere. You’re just not expecting that and there it is. I think there’s some influence for Jack Black here, too, because I can hear some of his stylings coming through here. I like that. I could go on about all the songs and give thumbs up for them all. Instead, I’m going to tell you that the only song that I didn’t like was “Father and Son.” I don’t know why, it just seemed a skosh sing-songy. To me, it stuck out. The rest is beautifully and masterfully written but this one song, not so much. Four of the songs, “Where Do the Children Play?,” “On the Road to Find Out,” “Tea for the Tillerman” and “Miles from Nowhere” were all featured in the darkly, quirky and strange film, Harold and Maude. I’d love to have this on vinyl. DUG!!
#207 – Abraxas by Santana. This album is two months older than me. I am always thinking of releases and stuff and this is stuff around my birth. I get hung up, sue me. Love the wind chime and piano intro. Then it’s the Greg Rolie keys coming in to get us in that Latin rhythm mode that Santana usually takes me to. Instrumentals. Aye. I am disappointed to find out that Carlos Santana only had a hand in writing two of the songs on this album. You know how I am about people writing their own songs. Especially icons like this. Now, I am not talking about putting a cover on an album or anything like that. But, this is almost a whole album of stuff that’s not his. Now, the caveat is that the rest of the band had a hand in writing most of the stuff. The exceptions are the two biggest hits: “Black Magic Woman/Gypsy Queen” (Peter Green/Gábor Szabó) and “Oye Como Va” (Tito Puente). “Incident at Nishapur” is a rockin’ number that is written by Santana and pianist Alberto Gianquinto. I wasn’t expecting that one. I liked that one. “Mother’s Daughter” sounds like Rolie’s gonna blow a gasket in his throat. Not a bad tune, though. It seems that Rolie wanted to take it a totally different direction than Carlos. You can hear that in his songs. His songs are rock, straight up. I know he didn’t go out to form Journey until several years later but it just seems they’re not on the same page. Sounds good, though. The bottom line on this album? While I think it’s good and I am going to give it a “dug!” I don’t care if I ever hear it again. For what it is, it’s great.
#206 – Dirty Mind by Prince. So, I have a dilemma that I’ve never encountered before. Prince has gotten so uptight about his stuff (or someone has, I’m thinking Warner Bros. or Prince because of Warner Bros.) that he’s pulled it from all the streaming sites. He’s also yanked every thing from YouTube. This is one of the Prince albums that I don’t own and don’t know that I want to own it. So, unless something comes along that allows me to hear this album without having to purchase it, I suppose I’m going to have to abstain on grounds of “not knowing.” Hmmm. If I listen to it in the future (and before this entire countdown is over) I’ll come back and review it, much like I did with George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass. Here’s hoping. UPDATE: Yeah I know it’s not been published yet, but I thought it was notable that it wasn’t anywhere to be found. Anywhat! I like this album. It’s some serious funk. Well, it’s seriously Prince doing serious funk. Lots of keyboards and overdubs, which, of course, is because he played all the instruments except some keys in a few songs. While I like it, I don’t get why it’s this high on the list. I’m not saying that it shouldn’t be here, but why #206? So, four of the songs, “Dirty Mind,” “When You Were Mine,” “Uptown” and “Head,” all made the mega-compilation: Hits 1 & 2, which I have and think is a great compilation album. This was his third album and started to develop what he’d pull off in the next few including Controversy, 1999 and Purple Rain. Overall, I really do like the album, but still don’t think it should be this high. Dug!
#205 – Wheels of Fire by Cream. The first “disc” of this album I’m cool with but I’m dreading the two 16-minute songs on the second “live” disc. But, I’m going in with an open mind. I really do like “As You Said” and the spoken-word “Pressed Rat and Warthog.” “Politician” has a great groove, as does “Born Under a Bad Sign.” I know it’s blues but not like that mess on “Sitting on Top of the World.” Of the disc two stuff, as much as I don’t like Eric Clapton and especially the blues, this version of “Crossroads” is always pretty cool. After that, I’m wanting to pound my head into the solid concrete wall behind my pilot’s chair here in the studio. A sixteen minute drum solo? I mean, I like drum solos and all, but, jeez o’Pete. So, for the first disc, I dug it. After that, I didn’t. I’m going with dug-ish.
#204 – Modern Times by Bob Dylan. Some boogie-woogie Bob. Did I actually hear him mention Alicia Keys? The Alicia Keys? Hmm. I don’t get that, really. And I don’t really care for that song, “Thunder on the Mountain.” I do like “Spirit on the Water,” though. I like the jazziness of it. It’s still Bob Dylan singing but it fits here. Some more boogie/blues mess. If it was just the jazz stuff, I’d be perfectly happy with this album. The constant back-and-forth is annoying. Especially when the shortest song is just shy of five minutes. “Workingman’s Blues #2,” “Beyond the Horizon” and “Nettie Moore” are all great songs. I thought that “The Levee’s Gonna Break” was a bad Zeppelin cover, but it seems it’s an original. So, it’s a bad Dylan cover, I guess. The nine minute “Ain’t Talkin'” is kind of mysterious and gritty. I like that one pretty well, too. So if you take out the few “bluesy” songs this isn’t a bad album. I’d even say I liked it, or “Dug” it.
#203 – BAD by Michael Jackson. Full disclosure. I own this album. I love this album. I listen to it and have listened to it so many times I don’t have to listen here to review it. The title song, while simple, is quite fun to play on bass. MJ like Prince has a lot of revolving, recurring lines in songs. I know a lot of funk and soul does that. The hits “Another Part of Me,” “Man in the Mirror” (great message), “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You,” “Smooth Criminal” (another fun one to play) are all great tunes. They’re hits for a reason. But my favorite of them is “Dirty Diana.” I just love that song. I The hit I don’t care for is “The Way You Make Me Feel.” I never liked it. The hidden gems on this album, to me, is “Speed Demon” and “Liberian Girl.” I love the crazy run in “Speed Demon” and the feel of “Liberian Girl.” So yeah, dig, dug, DUG!
#202 – Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme by Simon and Garfunkel. I love “Scarborough Fair/Canticle” or should I say I love “Scarborough Fair.” The Canticle part gets on my nerves. It’s hard to hear what they’re saying when it’s all a big cluster mess of vocals. I mean that in the nicest of ways. They don’t do cluster messes, really. “Patterns” has some powerful lines and they’re emphatic about them. It’s a bit Celtic in the overall. Still very 1966, this. “Homeward Bound” isn’t any exception. There’s that flowing chorus with amazing harmonies that stream effortlessly through the listener’s ears. Simon’s take on advertising comes through in “The Big Bright Green Pleasure Machine.” I can’t remember if it was or wasn’t used in Mad Men but it should have been. It’s pointed toward pop culture and even the hippies of the Vietnam War. They talk Dylan, Stones, Warhol all whilst sounding like The Who in “A Simple Desultory Philippic” and yes, I had to look two of those words up! And, too, the Simon & Garfunkel machine is short and to the point. They don’t need five minutes to get their message across. They do it all in less than three minutes with the exception of “Scarborough Fair/Canticle” that comes in at 3:08. They even throw in a Christmas carol for good measure: “7 O’Clock News/Silent Night.” The song features an a capella version of “Silent Night” along with a news cast that covers the passing of Lenny Bruce, Nixon talking about an increase of war activity in Vietnam, the civil rights movement and serial killer Richard Speck. This album is amazing. Like most things that Simon & Garfunkel put out… Amazing! Dug is an understatement.
#201 – The Downward Spiral by Nine Inch Nails. Trent Reznor’s “magnum opus” if you will. A concept album that slides from the top of the “downward spiral” all the way to a sad and tragic attempt at suicide. I’ll admit I got that from reading about it. For the life of me, it’s a bit too deep for me to get that story from this. I’d have to sit and read all the lyrics and I’m just not going to do that. Not in this setting, I’d have to be home with my headphones on and nothing else happening. This era in music confused me as far as “stories” go. I mean, I still don’t know what anything on Ten from Pearl Jam means. Vedder speaks in riddles in his lyrics as does Reznor. I know it’s euphemism, innuendo and interpretation, I just don’t get it. Now, that being said, I enjoyed listening to it. The songs were great and I’m sorry I didn’t appreciate it more back in 1994. I was still in my “this (excrement) ruined my music!” phase. I grew out of that but it took a while. There’s parts of every song on here that make it worth listening to. My faves: “Piggy,” “Heresy,” “March of the Pigs,” “Closer,” “Big Man with a Gun” (which, along with Reznor himself and Marilyn Manson, was the center of controversy after the Columbine shootings), “Reptile” and “Hurt.” I will admit that I’d much rather hear the Johnny Cash version of “Hurt.” So much raw emotion in that. It was one of the last things Johnny did, too. A lot of “Industrial” and heavy techno aspects on this album. I got into that later, too. I would prefer Reznor actually sing more and scream less, but hey, he has a point to make, I guess (even if I don’t get what it is). NIN was already on the map, I’d say this album burned a hole in said map. I even put this album on my iPod. How’s that!? I dug it!
nine ten “dugs” (or dug-ish). And, I’m a fan of Prince, so I’m thinking it may be ten out of ten by the time this part is over with. I have purchased Dirty Mind but I haven’t gotten to listen, yet. I’d say that’s a pretty good segment and well, this ends the first THREE HUNDRED of these albums. Dang! That’s a journey. Two hundred to go. I’m starting that right soon. So, Dear Reader, look for it and thank you for reading all this mess! I really enjoy writing it for you, whilst learning how I do or don’t like things that I didn’t know, didn’t know I liked or didn’t know I didn’t. What? Eh, just read it slowly, it took me a few times, too. I’ll do my 300-201 retrospection in the next bit.
Until tomorrow, same blog channel…
“As I, turn up the collar on my favorite winter coat, this wind is blowing my mind. I see the kids in the streets with not enough to eat. Who am I to be blind? Pretending not to see their needs.” – “Man in the Mirror” (Michael Jackson), BAD