I’m so sorry it took so long to get to this segment of Rolling Stone Top 500 Albums of All Time, which has to be better than the last. That was a real clunker to me. Not saying they were bad albums, I’m saying they didn’t do much for me. I’m not dwelling, mind you. We’re moving on. And, again, sorry for the delay.
#170 – Live at Leeds by The Who. The disclaimer here is I’m only listening to the tracks on the original LP release in which there was only six songs. I’m trying to follow what Rolling Stone is counting as the “album” and there’s no indication otherwise, so I’m going by the original. I am sure I’m missing on a lot, but that’s how the entire countdown has been, thus far. There’s plenty of energy flowing in this concert. I’m sure the whole thing (thirty-three songs) would be a great listen but who has the time? Seriously, it’s back to the previous point: the original was only six songs. The songs, “Young Man Blues,” “Substitute,” Eddie Cochran’s “Summertime Blues,” Johnny Kidd’s “Shakin’ All Over,” an amalgamation of “My Generation/See Me, Feel Me/Listening to You/Underture…” and so on, and a seven minute jam on “The Magic Bus.” Like I said, it seems powerful from this little sampling. I will probably take time to listen to the rest later but this is for “now,” for those who will start throwing out “Dude, you really need to listen to all of it” at me. I really like this and I’m not a big fan of The Who. Dug!
#169 – Exodus by Bob Marley and the Wailers. 1976. Jamaica. It was in December that there was an assassination attempt on Bob Marley, and his wife Rita’s, life, leading to his own exodus from his homeland. This album, which was recorded both before the attempt in Jamaica and after where later sessions were done in London, is laid back and political as well as sexual. I enjoyed listening to the album and found “Natural Mystic,” the title song, “Jamming,” “Waiting in Vain,” “Three Little Birds” and “One Love/People Get Ready” to be my favorites. Definitely have gotten into some Marley. I’ve not really gotten into the rest of the reggae world but really like Bob’s stuff. I definitely dug it.
#168 – My Aim is True by Elvis Costello. The 1977 Album of the Year according to Rolling Stone and was Costello’s debut album. This album was thrown together by Costello and producer Nick Lowe, I’d say in a hurry: approximately 24 hours total. It’s raw but well produced, not slick. It captures energy and has an open ambient sound as if it’s recorded in an open room. Extra plate reverb on the vox create the effect. Nice. It should also be noted that this was prior to the Attractions becoming his permanent backing band. It was recorded with members of a group called Clover which had to be credited as “The Shamrocks” (if credited at all) due to contractual obligations/restrictions. This album contains “Alison,” “(The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes,” “Watching the Detectives” (US version only) and “Less Than Zero” which is the first single released by the Stiff label. I also thought “Blame It on Cain” was pretty cool, too. I’ll definitely say I dug it.
#167 – Master of Puppets by Metallica. As the years went on, Metallica started becoming stale and I started referring to them as Me-Suck-lick-a. I’ve also always stated that this is my least favorite of the “Black and Before” era Metallica. Truth be told, that’s only because I’ve really never given it a chance. Between Ride the Lightning, “Black” (Metallica) and …In Justice For All this was just what I listened to the least, then Kill ‘Em All. This was Cliff Burton’s exodus album, though tragically. I can’t get over the speed of his finger picking style, at least at that time. Thinking on the time, this wasn’t “normal” to me. His bass solo in “Orion” showed his melodic side. I will admit that I was a bigger fan of Jason Newstead (basically for putting up with Lars’ and James’ crap and his resilience in the face of his parts basically being erased from “Justice”), but Cliff was great on this. This is also the first major label album for the band: Elektra Records. The production is slick as all get out but somehow raw at the same time. Some of the songs are epic (three songs over eight minutes) with the shortest being 5:12 (“Battery”). I think my favorite song on this is “The Thing That Should Not Be.” Somehow, it just sounds mean. Differently than most of the other songs. All of them are definitely punching you in the face but this one sounds evil. I think it’s the tone, the subject matter (Cthulhu) and weird solo, etc. It all comes together to create a beautifully chaotic mess. I think Metallica used more complex rhythms on this album as compared to the prior ones. “Disposable Heroes” has some of the fastest rhythms that I’ve heard on any Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer, etc. album. It’s smoking fast. Word has it that Lars Ulrich actually took some drum lessons for this album. I know that Kirk Hammett took direction from Joe Satriani on how to better record his parts. I think I treated this album unfairly in the past. I am listening to it now and find that it’s actually a really good album. With its themes of drug use (title song), mythical creatures, politics and anti-war sentiments (“Disposable Heroes”), insanity (“Welcome Home (Sanitarium)”), false prophets (“Leper Messiah”) and so forth, this album is what Metallica was all about “pre-Load.” I don’t know after that because like Samson, once they cut their hair, they lost all power. Honestly, the hair had nothing to do with it, but when they cut it, the music started sucking. So… meh. But, this album? It gets a definite dig. I really liked it.
#166 – Imperial Bedroom by Elvis Costello. Two Declan MacManus’ in one segment. Hmmm. This album really set my appreciation of EC out right. It was upon talking with Doug Davis (who got me interested in doing this list) and Ed Bumgardner a few years back about EC and this album that got me really paying attention. As I’ve mentioned before I was late to the “alternative/new wave” scene by about twenty-five years or more. So, probably one of the only good things that came from an unfortunate relationship with an ex-girlfriend was a real introduction into this genre. But, I was with The BCPF when I heard this. It’s a well-written album. “Shabby Doll” is one of my faves. I believe it involves a man that’s falling for a promiscuous woman. Bruce Thomas is a fantastic bass player. “The Long Honeymoon” is about perceived infidelity. I love that song’s flamenco/jazz stylings. It’s quite melodic and a little sexy. “Man Out of Time” starts off (and ends) kind of weird, but it becomes a great song with great musicianship. Really, I could say that for just about every song on this album, really. “Almost Blue” sounds like a piano bar singer’s accounting of a real life love gone bad. It’s laid back and jazzy. I can almost see whispering smoke floating around a darkened, but not pitch, room with candles or tea candles on tables with blood red-tinted linens. I’m especially pleased with the chorus of “Human Hands.” The song as a whole is good, but that chorus, though! “Little Savage” sounds like it could, musically, be a sequel to “Radio Radio” from This Year’s Model. Like I said in the beginning of this long-winded review, I think this is a very well-balanced and fantastic album. I liked it the first time I heard it. I like it now. Dig!
#165 – Let’s Get It On by Marvin Gaye. Well, this album is sexy. The Barry White kind of sexy but on a different spectrum. Where Barry is all low and deep bassin’ the women out of their underwear, Marvin is heart-felt yearn and implores the ladies into his boudoir for nothing shy of TLC. If “getting it on” wasn’t good enough for the title track, he wants you to “Come Get to This” and “Keep Gettin’ It On.” He’s not hiding or masking the fact that he’s wanting to love you and love on you and he will do just about anything “Just to Keep You Satisfied.” It’s word play, yeah, but there seems to be a theme to this album from its title to its final notes. This may be ironic if you know what was really going on in his life. He wasn’t doing a lot of “loving” since in real life he allegedly suffered with impotence, emotional distress and a brief separation from his wife, Anna Gordy (yes Berry’s sister). He was going through a lot, but he churned out a great record, this. Another great thing was that he at least co-wrote all of the songs on this LP. The song “Distant Lover” showed the beautifully tragic personal issues and his inflection and voice in that song sang sadness and sexiness all in one fell swoop. The musicianship is unparalleled and the songs are masterful. This is a great soul record. Scratch that, this is a great record. Definitely some really great stuff here. DUG!
#164 – The Very Best of Linda Rondstadt by Linda Rondstadt
#163 – 1999 by Prince. Another Prince album that, luckily, I at least own and have the opportunity to listen to since the Purple One signed his exclusive deal with Tidal and I don’t pay for that. This, to me, is the penultimate Prince album as far as quality goes. Some may disagree with me on that, in fact, I expect that. The first is Purple Rain as that was the height of his popularity and power. This, is the one, that at least for me, broke him into the mainstream. For You, Prince, Dirty Mind and Controversy all had quality stuff on it, but this was the climb. Mostly on the fact that not only was radio playing the snot out of the title track and “Little Red Corvette,” but because MTV, BET, Night Flight and Night Tracks were all playing the videos of them ad naseum. I did “Little Red Corvette” for the Vagabond Saints Society Presents Purple Rain show November before last, acoustically. I remember when I listened this (on cassette, I borrowed it from a friend) when I was a kid, “Let’s Pretend We’re Married” was one of my favorite tracks because I was thirteen or fourteen and that was the first time I ever heard someone use the word “f**k” on a musical album. And, I somehow, in my sheltered childhood, realized what pretending to be married actually meant. There was a lot of sniggering going on then, for sure. “D.M.S.R.” was a bit of a oddity for me, not because of the song or what the letters mean (dance, music, sex, romance), but that in the first CD pressing, it was simply not there (there was a disclaimer explaining the reasoning). I hadn’t been into collecting CDs long and didn’t realize they had to do that. Compression and mastering being what they are today, that’s not the case; it’s included. And it’s actually one of the best dance songs that Prince ever did. I’d have rather them get rid of something else and kept that as it was one of my faves. The song order threw me off, too, on the CD because on the cassette version, “Free” was the last on the first side. It was moved to even up the sides, I guess. I think that was commonplace with 8-Tracks, too. My short attention span being what it is (awful) some of the lengthy songs start to lose me, but it’s still great stuff. Even though Prince had his “band” together – if you look closely in the “football” in the “1” in his name on the cover, it says “and the Revolution” – Dez Dickerson is the only other person playing any of the instruments, which in his case is the guitar solos. Prince plays and programs every other instrument that happens on the album. Lisa Coleman and Jill Jones (the ones you see in the videos) do most of the backups but this is where Wendy Melvoin joins in and does some backup on “Free.” Like I said, this album is his second greatest, to me. I’ll be honest and say that this is the first time that I’ve really ever listened all the way through since I was a kid. I listened to the first four songs and that was about it. This listen, though, is fantastic and I certainly will also say, I DIG it!!
#162 – OK Computer by Radiohead. Yeah. There are several Radiohead songs that I like, just not a whole lot. There are plenty that I can tolerate and even say, “well that’s cool.” Vagabond Saints Society will be doing OK Computer in its entirety with Patrick Ferguson (of Vel Indica) doing all the vox for the album. There will be guest singers doing other Radiohead songs after (or before) that album’s finale. To me, their best song was “Creep.” Low and behold that’s what I’ll doing for the show. Okay (computer), enough of that. My past utterances in this album’s direction could have been misguided or just a sign of immense stubbornness or even ignorance. The two tracks that immediately stand out first are “Paranoid Android” and “Karma Police,” of course. But, there’s so much more to it like “Let Down,” “Exit Music (For a Film),” “Electioneering,” “No Surprises” and “Lucky” (which truly may be the dark horse of the album. 1997 was still the “infancy of the modern home computer” and the track “Fitter Happier” was a representation of tech-speech patterns in compu-self-help and a good one, at that. I know that at least “Paranoid Android” was inspired by Marvin Paranoid Android from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy but I’m thinking more of it could have been, too. Reading up on it, I noticed the influences were all over the place for this album, but I think that they reigned it in to a cohesive package. This departure from where they were (previous two albums) defined much of what Radiohead would be and is today; for better or worse. I think overall, as I stated previously in the section, I have judged thee unfairly, O Radiohead. I doth dig thy OK Computer collection.
#161 – The Dock of the Bay by Otis Redding. A compilation album of many of this singles plus B-sides.
This segment was quite lengthy. I apologize for that but for some of the albums, I had a lot to say. Eight “digs” and only two compilations. That’s a pretty good segment, if you ask me. And I’m sure by now, you’re really wishing I’d just shut up. So that’s what I’m going to do! See you next segment!
Until tomorrow, same blog channel…
“Listening to you, I get the music. Gazing at you, I get the heat. Following you, I climb the mountain. I get excitement at your feet.” – “See Me, Feel Me” (Townshend)