The last segment of Rolling Stone Top 500 Albums of All Time went quite well, I’d say. We’re inside the top 200 now. We can see the small, pinhead sized light at the end of the tunnel, but, Dear Reader, we have a long way to go, still. I hope you’re having a fun ride. Strap in, the rest is over and it’s time to get started, again.
#200 – Highway to Hell by AC/DC. My favorite of the Bon Scott albums. I overlook that there is just one AC/DC song and they change the lyrics. It’s just the way it is. I’ve done a few of these songs live. One of the first bands I was in did “Walk All Over You” and one of the later ones covered the title song. There’s really not a bad song (again, they’re all the same song) on this album. Straight ahead rock and roll; in your face, wanting to hurt you. Cliff Williams even proves me wrong in thinking he’s a three-note bass player. Go figure! Anywhat, to save rambling: listen to this, it rocks. I dug! And for the record, I don’t actually believe there to be only one song or that Williams is a three-note bassist.
#199 – Is This It by The Strokes. Speaking of bass! In the opening, title song, Nikolai Fraiture rocks out on the thunderstick. The overuse of the distorted vocals is a bit annoying to me. The songs, however, are well written. I really like “Last Nite.” The rest, even though they’re done right, nothing really stands out to me as fantastic. A lot of the songs were reminiscent of the others. By the end I was thinking that it should be over soon. Good songs or not, to me the mold was broken after “Last Nite.” I will say I dug it but mostly “meh.”
#198 – Best of Little Walter by Little Walter.
#197 – Murmur by R.E.M. The debut, co-produced by my friend, Mitch Easter, who also produced the album Shinola by Heavens Sake (my band). All the instruments burst on “Pilgrimage” and the production is slick, but still raw. “Moral Kiosk” has a lot of ’60s elements (which really doesn’t all of it?) in the chorus: “Inside, cold, dark, fire, twilight” reminds me of some “Five O’clock World” from the Vogues. It’s good stuff. “Perfect Circle” is, to me, a precursor of the “Everybody Hurts” direction they’d go to later. First listen of this, I’d say it was the alternative that I avoided, like the plague, for so long, but it’s really rock and roll that was different, or alternative, to what I was listening to at the time. It’s really not much different to what I went on to listen to. I have all the R.E.M. albums, I think. Part of it is the “connection” I feel because Mitch Easter produced one of my albums and I call Mitch a friend, so it goes hand in hand with listening to stuff he did before working with me. Also, this album highlights that Mike Mills is really a fantastic bass player. That on top of those backing vox he’s pulling off at the same time. Wow. Certainly not my favorite R.E.M. album but it’s still pretty good. Dug!
#196 – Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era, 1965-1968 by Various Artists. Pretty much the longest title of any other album thus far, but still a compilation so… no.
#195 – Blues Breakers by John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers. I thought “All Your Love” was “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” from the Beatles. That actually came after this song (it was written in 1958). I still like the Beatles version better. Then comes “Hideaway” after that and some of that crapola blues mess that I detest. Ugh. I did like “Another Man,” though. And it was just that harmonica that I complain about and vox and it was pretty alright. The cover of “What’d I Say” (with “Day Tripper” mixed in) is pretty cool and would be cooler if they’d left that clunky drum solo out. It was just a mess and at times sounded like listening to my sun just beat on drums instead of playing them. There’s some good parts, of course, and the drummer is really good but that solo was clunky. I did like “Key to Love.” It’s a jumpy cool song, really. All in all, even though I can’t usually stand this kind of stuff, it wasn’t bad. Thankfully, it went by pretty quickly. I would (and did) say that I actually enjoyed parts of it. So for that it gets a “dug.”
#194 – Transformer by Lou Reed. As much as I can’t stand Lou Reed with Velvet Underground, I’m not too low on him solo. “Vicious” is a great tune. “Hey, why don’t you swallow razor blades!?” I mean, who wouldn’t love lyrics like that? Yeah, great tune. “Perfect Day” is a danged fine song, too. I’ve heard covers but (can you believe it?) I actually prefer Reed’s version. I’d venture to say it’s one of my faves from him. Marky Mark shows up on this album… not really. “Walk on the Wild Side” was the first thing I ever heard from Reed. I couldn’t believe they got away with talking about the subject matter and “all the colored girls sing” parts. Herbie Flowers is rockin’ that double bass, too. I don’t know that I’d ever heard the song “Satellite of Love” even though I’ve heard of it. Not my favorite but wasn’t too bad. Lou Reed was an excellent songwriter and, just like Dylan, if you can get past his voice, you can see that. Something about VU that just tears me up, this is really good. His voice, while moderately annoying, has an honesty about it. It feels like he’s about to lose traction on the pitch and while he’s doing a high-wire balancing act with the vocals, he never falls off. It’s a masterfully composed and executed album. Thanks David Bowie for making sure he got the broader audience. Otherwise, we’d just have been stuck with VU. I loved this album, much like I did Berlin. I’d love to own it on vinyl. DUG!
#193 – Dookie by Green Day. Forcing grunge to scoot over, this pop punk band showed up and rocked the house. And yes, I hated it. Then. Again, I’ve, well, to be cliche, “When I Come Around,” it was clear that they were certainly worth a listen. More than one and often. For its time it was definitely a breath of cigarette-filled “fresh” air. Nirvana, Pearl Jam and their ilk were poised to take over the world (and would have succeeded had it not been for these punk kids!). Now, you weren’t forced to pick a side: hair vs. flannel. Dookie added another hook-filled dimension. In early 1994, there was how many chicks you were banging for the pretty boys or “how woe is me?” is me from the Seattle-esque clans. Then, in February of that year, optimistically ironic music made a splash in the form of this album basically forcing people to stop being a wuss and take responsibility for your own danged self. “Long View” shows off Mike Dirnt’s bass prowess but that’s not the end of it. He highlights every song on the album with great and tasteful riffs. Listen to the work on “Welcome to Paradise,” as well. GD pulls some influence from the 50s with “Pulling Teeth.” No, it doesn’t sound like it’s from the 50s but you can certainly hear that pull (pun). “Basket Case” was my first intro to GD and I found it funny but was still not taking anything like this seriously. Listening to it now, it was more leaning toward the hair stuff whilst sucking some grunge from the other side. Now, after all these years I can see the beauty in this and truly appreciate it. American Idiot was another demonstration of the band’s effectiveness in this area. Billie Joe Armstrong’s lyrics are canny and crafty bordering on misery and majesty. Well written, all around. I can’t say enough good things, listen and love. DUG!
#192 – The Gilded Palace of Sin by The Flying Burrito Brothers. Certainly a great name for a band. I also know it predates the Eagles by a few years but it reminds me of their early albums. “Sin City” takes me back to Ma Père’s favorite honky-tonk country and him listening to records in the dark (not that that happened a lot, mind you) and it’s that same kind of feel. I also feel like I could be watching Hee Haw. Still not a bad thing. I’m not sure I get the “Cosmic American Music” part. “Hot Burrito #1” I like. “Hot Burrito #2” I like, too. Add “Christine’s Tune” and the aforementioned “Sin City” to those and I’m good. Even though it drudged along, the final cut, “Hippie Boy,” I liked that one, too. The rest of it, I didn’t really care one way or another. So based on the nostalgia I felt and that I could actually name so many of the songs as likes, I’m going to say I dug it. But, that’s kind of pushing it.
#191 – Funhouse by The Stooges. I’ve never really known much about Iggy Pop other than videos and the fact that the brother is weird. I’m on the first song, “Down on the Street” and I think it’s fantastic! “Dirt” is epic and you feel the classic Iggy Pop performance coming through the recording. Is this where he would actually cut himself live? Did he really do that, or is it just urban legend? I’m sure someone will tell me. The energy continues with “1970.” Strange but wonderfully so. Steve Mackay’s distressed sax solo makes “Funhouse” fun(ner?). I can picture Iggy just wallowing around on the floor of the studio just being Iggy. I didn’t even notice the nearly 8 minutes of length on that song. That’s when you know it’s a good song. The song “L.A. Blues” pretty much was what you’d envision them sounding like at the end of a show: lots of feedback and drum improv. From what I understand, they stripped the studio of baffling, isolation and separation, opting instead to record like they would live. There’s a live feeling throughout this and I believe it shines through and makes this what it is. I’m sure that’s bound to surprise some people. Anywhat! I actually loved this album.
So, two compilations on this segment and I see a few on the horizon. I don’t like creeping too far ahead, I like that “ooh what’s next” aspect. A few that I didn’t think I’d like and really, really did, including a Lou Reed album, a punk record and a blues record. A few that I could take or leave but overall, it was a pretty good segment. I’m off to do another in between everything else, now.
Until tomorrow, same blog channel…
“Just a perfect day. Drink sangria in the park. And then later, when it gets dark, we go home” – “Perfect Day” by Lou Reed