Man, we’re moving right along on this. The numbers get smaller and smaller. Well, duh! That’s what we do with countdowns, dude! Okay, last time was pretty good, finishing it off with a bang!!! I enjoyed that. So, let’s move on ahead with the latest installment and segment of the Rolling Stone Top 500 Albums of All-Time. Kick it!
#120 – Sweetheart of the Rodeo by The Byrds. I was excited when I saw it was The Byrds. Then it started. I am not a fan of alt country and “classic” country rock. This most certainly wasn’t what I was looking for with The Byrds. It’s really more like Hillman, McGuinn & Parsons. It’s not even good country. It’s like something you’d see in a “road house” movie. I can’t understand why anyone would want to listen to this. There’s nothing redeeming about it that I can even say, other than the last tune, “Nothing Was Delivered.” That was okay. I found myself checking emails updating blog posts while it played. I was glad when it was over. This is awful. Hated it and did NOT dig!
#119 – At Last! by Etta James. Thank you Etta James for helping me get that taste out of my mouth from the previous entry. Ugh. I love me some Etta James. That classic soul/R&B and yes, even blues, voice is smooth and powerful. Drips from her face and into my ears like little drops of honey onto a biscuit. She’s so powerful that you can hear the diaphragm inside the microphone cringe. No joke; she pegs the needle in many of the songs, especially in “My Dearest Darling.” I’m running out of adjectives and adverbs to describe how amazing she is. No one that has been to a wedding in the last 30 years hasn’t heard “At Last!” and that’s never a bad thing. She feels this music and in return you have no choice but feel it, at least as long as you’re listening. Again, I’m starting to ramble. This is a great album and you absolutely should get lost in it. DUGx1000!
#118 – Late Registration by Kanye West. I can’t stand seeing or hearing anything about Kanye West. There I said it. Now, that being said, this doesn’t suck. The musicality (at least in the beginning of the album) is pretty interesting and he’s not his normal annoying self. Jamie Foxx’s Ray Charles imitation is pretty cool on “Gold Digger.” I really wish Kanye wasn’t such a snot rocket because he actually has some pretty cool influences. And, I think what he’s trying to do with this album is respectable. I just can’t get past his diarrhea of the mouth; in real life, though, not on this recording. I believe notoriety, for good or bad, has an impact on people’s success. While it turns a lot of people off that he is how he is, some really like his outspokenness. And, as they say, any press is good press. His storytelling is quite intricate. Plus, there’s a few “skits,” scattered throughout the album, that center on a fictional fraternity called Broke Phi Broke, that prides itself on a non-worldly and simple lifestyle. Kanye’s “character” sneaks to do some of his “art” to make some money and also buys clothes and takes a bath. These things are against the rules of the fraternity. A few of my faves on here would be “Heard ‘Em Say,” “Roses,” “Bring Me Down” (featuring Brandy), “Addiction,” “Diamonds from Sierra Leone” (that features Shirley Bassey’s “Diamonds are Forever”), “We Major.” There’s actually some good vocals on this album, too. It’s not exactly hip-hop but certainly not not-hip-hop.There are a lot of pop elements involved here, as well. I dug it and I think you will, too.
#117 – Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs by Derek and the Dominoes. This album was released 11 days before I was born. I’ve continually expressed my dislike of Eric Clapton throughout this countdown, but on this one I’m going to be a little nicer. I think it’s because he’s not doing rehashed blues tunes and, for the most part, he’s written most of the songs. I had heard “Bell Bottom Blues” before but only in passing. When I actually take time to listen, that’s a great song. Later and throughout the recording you can definitely hear the Duane Allman influence. I especially hear it in “Why Does Love Got to be so Sad?” That sounds like an Allman Bros song to me. The cover of “Have You Ever Loved a Woman?” is exactly what I didn’t want to hear on this album. That rudimentary, boring and predictable bluest of the blues. But, then I was completely blown away by the cover of Jimi Hendrix’ “Little Wing,” which I don’t know that I’ve ever heard the original of. Yeah, I’m not at all a Hendrix fan, either. Surprise! Probably not so much at that. The guitar lick for “Layla” is very iconic and I’ve never turned that one when it came on. I was once writing a song on piano and thought it was pretty cool until I realized I was working, very hard, on writing the end of “Layla.” I was quite disappointed. It was the same key and everything. Oh well, darn you Eric Clapton and Jim Gordon for beating me to it! I totally wasn’t expecting “Thorn Tree in the Garden.” I was looking for some airbrushed man and woman walking through a field like on the old K-Tel Records TV commercials. I like it. Overall, this wasn’t a bad album but I think they could have left off about 4-5 songs and it would have been just fine. It’s the start of a run of mid- to late-’60s and early-’70s classics on the countdown. I didn’t not dig it, let’s leave it at that.
#116 – Out of Our Heads by The Rolling Stones. To be clear, this is the US version of this album. The UK version leaves off three very important songs: “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,” “The Last Time” and “Play with Fire.” The Brits have a hard time, I guess with songs that were already singles being put on a new album. Who knows? Technically, you could call this a compilation album, but because the compilation is with songs that were recorded within a six-month period and included among other songs that were recorded for this collection, I’ll include it. Out of 12 songs, only 6 of them were written internally: aforementioned “Satisfaction” and “The Last Time,” “The Spider and the Fly” and “One More Try” along with and two Nanker Phelge written tunes: “Play with Fire” and “The Under Assistant West Coast Promotion Man.” Nanker Phelge is the pseudonym that the Stones used when writing as a collective (in this case it’s Jagger, Richards, Watts, Wyman and Jones). The rest of the songs are rehashed covers. While they’re decent versions, I’m not overly impressed. I found myself watching to see how much more time was left before it was over. So, the songs that the UK version left off, really is the only thing that is really worth my time listening to on this version. Did not dig (as a whole).
#115 – The Who Sell Out by The Who. I love the “radio” aspect of this album. It’s like it’s being broadcast. Since I’m such a fan of MadMen and Heinz Baked Beans were a vital part of the story line for a while, that’s great to see and hear them mentioned (at least by title). In the middle of all the silly (which I love) there are some really great songs in here. “Odorono” is fantastic as is “Armenia City in the Sky.” The Who sometimes has a difficult time grabbing me, on this one, at least from what I’ve heard of it so far, it has captured me and I’m really, really paying attention (and enjoying it). I could go through and pick my favorites, as I started out (above) and list them but that would be pointless. Let’s just say there are no fillers here. This is 100% pure, grade A USDA choice beefiness as far as albums go. Front to back. This is a gem of an album. The concept is magical and inspiring, the cover a hoot. I can’t even pick an absolute fave. It’s all great! The sprinkling of “commercials” throughout the “radio broadcast” are ingenious. I LOVE this album!
#114 – Disraeli Gears by Cream. This album was released just 35 days prior to the previous countdown entry in 1967. It features “Strange Brew” and “Sunshine of Your Love.” Psychedelic sure but bluesy-rock, too. I’ve come to find most of the psychedelic stuff is heavy with some serious reverb. And, most bluesy-rock stuff, I just can’t get into. Anywhat! The album spikes and wanes with me, personally. While there are times that Jack Bruce’s vocals are annoying with that falsetto, there are others where it’s not so bad. I just think it’s overdone. “SWLABR” is pretty good, I like that. The two hits, I like those. Overall, though, I don’t get it and don’t really care to get it. I don’t get the big deal that is Cream and I know I’ll get rolled for that. Damien or Ed or Eugene will nail me for it. I just don’t understand the appeal. Ginger Baker is a great drummer and Jack Bruce is a great bass player. Don’t get me started on the hack that Eric Clapton is. I did REALLY enjoy “Mother’s Lament” though. I listened to that one twice, after all it’s asked at the end of it: “you wanna do it again?” Otherwise, outside the first two songs and the last, it was a yawnfest. Did not dig (as a whole).
#113 – Court and Spark by Joni Mitchell. Okay. Another thing for me to get rolled about, but on the other end of the spectrum. My only exposure to Joni Mitchell was “Woodstock” (which I didn’t care for), “Big Yellow Taxi” (I liked the Counting Crows version better as far as I know) and “Help Me” (and I didn’t even know that was her). Again, not something I went out looking for and I had absolutely no exposure to it as a kid. Now, all that being said. This gal is going places! “Help Me” is on this album and I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I guess I had never paid attention before. A lot of it reminds me of Lynn Ahrens’ work on Schoolhouse Rock but it was around the same time as this and yes, I LOVE Schoolhouse Rock. I don’t know if it was listening to this more laid-back stuff after the mostly crap that the Cream album was, but I really enjoyed this album. This is making me want to go back and listen to the aforementioned songs that I dismissed to give another chance. I like the singer-songwriter and folky aspect, but there’s also hints of jazz and soft rock in there. I like it. The whole album is great and just like The Who previously, I’d be amiss to pick just a few. I’d like to own both of them on vinyl. DUG!
#112 – If You Can Believe Your Eyes And Ears by The Mamas and the Papas. Some of the most well-known Mamas and the Papas tunes are on this album. And, really, some of the best harmonies you’re going to hear, ever. The folksters were very well represented with this album. It’s definitely a ’60s thing. I know I say this a lot but I can picture people listening to this while smoking pot, lying upon a heavy-shagged rug of avocado green or burnt orange surrounded by lava lamps and wearing pastel pink lipstick, mini dresses of white and pink polka dots with white go-go boots or plaid bell bottoms with turtleneck sweaters. Man, I feel I really missed it. That would have been groovy. Yeah, I said it. There’s not only the folk singer aspect, there’s genuine pop music at play. A Lennon/McCartney tune, “I Call Your Name,” is on here and they do it Beatle-esque justice, I’d say. Lots of orchestration, which was “in” at the time, lines the whole album. “California Dreamin'” could possibly be one of the best songs ever written. Yes, I said that, too! Their version of the Phil Spector/Jerry Leiber penned “Spanish Harlem” is quite excellent, too. I could see Ma Mère listening to this as she liked the folk stuff and while this isn’t Peter, Paul and Mary, it’s still good stuff! I like this album a good bit! Dug!
#111 – The Bends by Radiohead. This is my first listen of Radiohead since the VSS show. My opinion of most of the Radiohead stuff changed after experiencing that. Let’s see how it affects my opinion of it while listening fresh. “Planet Telex” is a great start. However, “High and Dry” is the embodiment of a fantasmic and stellar song. It reminds me of my buddy, Patrick and sounds like the way he’d write. He’s the one that did the entire Ok! Computer album as the lead singer and is the songwriter extraordinaire of Vel Indica. Thom Yorke is a bit out there but sometimes “out there” is where you need to be, am I right? Take for instance, “Fake Plastic Trees.” It brings a lot of weird imagery but you can picture it, every bit. Why is that I almost cry when I hear this song? I really almost cried listening to it here. I mean with lyrics like: “A green plastic watering can for a fake Chinese rubber plant, in the fake plastic earth that she bought from a rubber man, in a town full of rubber plans to get rid of itself,” how can you not cry right off the bat? And the way Yorke sings it just adds to the sadness, but beautifully, if you can believe that. “Bones” reminds me of some Love & Rockets; not a bad thing. Really, at this point, I should just stop picking good ones and talk about my least favorites. Okay, here goes. __. And that’s it. It’s a spectaculicious specimen of music and I’ll go on record to say, that I love this album. L.O.V.E. it!! Dug doesn’t even do it justice.
I don’t remember such a divisive segment in the whole lot. There may have been but I don’t remember it. There is the third that I loathed (Disraeli Gears, Out of Our Heads, Sweetheart of the Rodeo), while there is the third that I liked or didn’t mind (Late Registration, Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs, If You Can Believe Your Eyes And Ears). That leaves the third plus one that I absolutely fell in love with (At Last!, The Who Sell Out, Court and Spark and The Bends). It was a weird, but rewarding segment, I’ll say. And, as I get closer to the top, I’m sure I’ll be conflicted with why some of the entries are where they are vs. should they even be on the list. We’ll see. Until then… I’m out.
Until tomorrow, same blog channel…
“She lives with a broken man, a cracked polystyrene man, who just crumbles and burns. He used to do surgery for girls in the eighties, but gravity always wins.” – “Fake Plastic Trees” (Radiohead)