The last segment of Rolling Stone Top 500 Albums of All Time was a long-time in the making and I’ve started this one kind of soon after, so hopefully it won’t go so long this time. A good segment last time, too. Not a lot of filler; some but manageable. Let’s not waste time, let’s hit this one.
#140 – Parallel Lines by Blondie. Punky chic, I’d say. Don’t let Debbie Harry’s pretty looks fool you. She’ll dazzle you with her looks and roundhouse kick you with her voice and the band does so with their no-nonsense music (well, maybe a little, well-planned nonsense). Three staples of Sirius XM’s First Wave channel, “Hanging on the Telephone,” “One Way or Another,” which starts this album out right, and “Heart of Glass,” all three are the flour while the rest of the album is the egg in the cake; the rest holds it together. It truly is in your face. You can look away but you can’t escape. “Picture This” is probably some of the best capturing of a live feel in the studio I’ve heard since the 76-77 era of KISS, while “Fade Away and Radiate” has that Blondie reggae beat but a sultry and seductive backbone. “Pretty Baby” reminds me of the Shangri-Las or something like that. It hearkens back to the 50s rock and roll pop girl groups. I know that was the point and I’m quite okay with it. I hear some Cheap Trick (or just similarities therein) in the music of “I Know But I Don’t Know.” The dissonant chord changes are what do it for me, I think. I’m ashamed to say that I really don’t know much about Blondie other than the hits on this album, “Rapture” and “Call Me.” This is a reminder of how sucky I can be at knowing my classic bands. Pity, Scorp, pity. I think “Heart of Glass” is a good indication as to where the band would be going in the following few years. It sounds more futuristic than the rest of the album and, to me, was more than just a representation of the disco stuff that was still lingering and hanging on at the time; it was advanced in structure and sound. I really like that song. I really like this album! Dug!
#139 – Rejuvenation by The Meters. NOLA Funk! Yes, please. This album was produced by the very recently departed, R&B legend, Allen Toussaint. The early Meters albums were mostly instrumentals. This is not just instrumental. I’ll also say this, again, George Porter, Jr. is a genius of a bass player. None of these guys are slackers. Tight drumming, banging piano and an added horn section that was arranged by Mr. Toussaint. My favorite tune on the album is the last song, “Africa.” It’s sounds mean and funky all at the same time. Now, I do like it, and completely dig it on the countdown but why this high on the list? That’s my only question. Overall, I dug it.
#138 – The Chronic by Dr. Dre. This one was on hold until I ordered it from iTunes. It’s not on anything streaming (while all of his others are) and YouTube has several copies but they’re all muted. Anywhat! I didn’t want to spend money on it as it’s not my thing, really. BUT, I got it and put it on my iPod and listened to it whilst driving around in Nigel (my Kia Soul) and I have to say, this is some really good stuff. Well, let’s not go crazy, whether or not it’s “good” is subjective but I really like it. I’ve enjoyed listening to it. As always, I could certainly do without all the “n” word strewn about the album, but what can you do? I’d actually consider this a Snoop Dogg album over a Dre album. He’s highlighted throughout and his work is the best on the record. There’s a lot of shots at Eazy-E, who owned Ruthless Redords and Ice Cube, both former N.W.A. members. Dre and gang also take shots at Tim Dog and Luther Campbell (Luke of 2 Live Crew). They’re not at all apologetic about it, either. They don’t hold back. It was a pleasure to listen to. “F*** with Dre Day (And Everybody’s Celebratin’),” “Let Me Ride,” “Nuthin’ but a ‘G’ Thang,” “A N***a Witta Gun” and “Deeez Nuuuts” are my favorites on here. I almost wish I’d have bought the vinyl version, now. I’m still happy with it. Dug!!
#137 – Tim by The Replacements. Well, it’s not everyday you have an album named after you. I know what you’re thinking, wait! I thought your name was Scorp? Haha, well, it is. Just go with it. Once I waded through R.E.M., the Cure and such, this is what alternative rock would have sounded like in my head. I know it’s a travesty and all that but I knew nothing of The Replacements, other than the song “Alex Chilton,” prior to this complete countdown. I don’t know how I didn’t. Well, that’s not true. This was released before I moved to WSNC and we didn’t have access to this where I was from. “Dose of Thunder” sounds like something Cult would have done. I like that. “Hold my Life,” “I’ll Buy” are both solid songs. The first one that really made me go, that’s cool is “Waitress in the Sky.” Next is “Swinging Party” and I REALLY like that one. At the time it was rough and dirty, I’m sure. But, I think it fits perfectly snug in the annuls of the early alternative (or First Wave) motif. It’s rebellious but not totally defiant; accessible. There’s not a single song on this album that I’d skip over. I may not think them my favorite tunes, but they’re certainly a great listen. One of my faves in the last bit. And closing out on “Here Comes a Regular?” I nearly wept. Priceless. DUG!
#136 – Greatest Hits by Elton John. Compilation album, but I will admit, it, along with it’s sister Greatest Hits Volume II, are two of my favorite comps ever. I think I have grown to like this one more but at first II was my fave. It’s a good representation of Elton’s and Bernie’s masterful craftsmanship. (I dig it even if I don’t review it)
#135 – Slanted and Enchanted by Pavement. There has to be something said about a singer that only sporadically finds the right note to sing and you can tell that he doesn’t care if he does or doesn’t. He’s in his own world and you have to respect that. You don’t have to like it, but you have to respect it. I don’t know, just yet, how I feel about. I do know that this is definitely one of The BCPF’s favorite bands. I can see that because she doesn’t care if anyone sings on key, either. I’m not at all putting them down, I get it. This is probably what Eugene has always talked about with it “being about feeling it” or putting the emotion and meaning first. Well, I’m about a slick package and this certainly isn’t that. It is also impressive that they can fit 14 songs in at under 39 minutes. Musically, this is some great and innovative (to me) stuff. The attitude, I get that. The meaning, I get that. The work horse here seems to be Gary Young, the drummer/percussionist; he’s on it with some wicked slamming beats and it sounds like his drums probably needed a few shots of whisky and a sedative after he played them. That and therapy. “Conduit for Sale!” is one of my favorites. I find that when Stephen Malkmus gets in a higher register and is near screaming levels, his pitch is a lot better. When he’s laid back, it becomes droopy and inconsistent. Again, note that I am not putting that down. I am only pointing out the facts, here. In conversing with The BCPF, I told her this was “beautifully awful,” and I stand by that. It’s tasteful and so wrong which makes it oh so right. 1992, mission accomplished. I dig it.
#134 – Ready to Die by Notorious B.I.G. Pickle juice drinking? Wow. I don’t really know what I’m listening to here, but I think I like it. Liberal use of the “n” word and amazingly there are a lot of m*therfu*kers that somehow found their way onto the album. “Juicy’ is a great song. I really dig that one. The album itself seems like it could be a concept deal, but it could just be Biggie’s ability to tell a story. It’s about life, but it’s more reminiscent of a movie than real life, but we do know he died in a big “war,” and this is all about the lifestyle. A lot of shots fired, a lot of screaming, a lot of killing. It’s creepy knowing that the name of this album is what it is and what happened to him. Morbid, really. I’ve heard “Everyday Struggle” before as well. I’d say “Big Poppa” was the biggest hit on here. The radio-friendly stuff is a whole lot easier to listen to than the gangsta-heavy stuff, but it’s all pretty easy to listen to. Biggie’s not a fast-talking rapper, instead just being laid back and flowing. It’s not a bad album overall and I’m surprised that I liked it as much as I did. That being said, I’m done with it and don’t care if I ever listen to it again, other than a handful of tunes. Dug-ish.
#133 – The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle by Bruce Springsteen. Definitely, this is a mix of sultry, bluesy and cock rock. The music on this album is spot on. “Kitty’s Back” is one fantastic song, going from that sultry to slinky, laid-back and shuffling. One thing I can never take from Bruce is that he’s a story teller and a half. “Kitty” certainly brings the cream to the top in that instance. That same characterization can be said for “Wild Billy’s Circus Story,” complete with Garry Tallent’s clever tuba treatment. I just pops out there every once in a while. It’s cool and I can dig it. Getting through the opening track was easy musically but not so easy vocally, but he more than made up for it with the rest of the album. The last three songs, “Incident on 57th Street,” “Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)” and “New York City Serenade,” are lauded by many to be some of the best 25 minutes in album history, so I hear. I go on record to say that I have always hated “Rosalita” and that didn’t change after this, but the other two songs are a fantastic 17 minutes of juiciness. I will be honest and say that I never knew that Bruce was the guitarist of his band for the early stuff. I never heard of him until Born in the USA and by that time, he was more associated by the large entourage of musicians that surrounded him on stage in the vidoes. I never knew better; color me impressed. This is a good album that comes in just under 47 minutes for seven songs. I dug it.
#132 – Saturday Night Fever Soundtrack by Various Artists. This is one that I wish I wasn’t such a stickler about compilations. Yes, it’s a soundtrack, and one of the greatest, in my opinion. I have it on vinyl, even. I’ll listen to it but not comment further.
#131 – Paranoid by Black Sabbath. As much as I loved Sabbath’s debut album, this is Sabbath to me. I mean, heck, “War Pigs,” “Iron Man,” “Paranoid” and “Planet Caravan” on the same album? C’mon! It’s heavy. It’s metal. It’s classic. I never knew that the instrumental end of “War Pigs” was called “Luke’s Wall.” And, a fine anti-war tune that is. “Paranoid” is a fun (not fun) song with a great guitar riff. I loved Ozzy’s rendition of that and “Children of the Grave” on the Tribute album. I never got Pantera’s cover of “Planet Caravan” but I think this version sits easy as a mood shift from the heaviness. It’s very Doors-like to me with some Allman Brothers thrown in. Great vocal effect on that, too. I listened to this one through headphones and love the panning on “Iron Man.” Really, does a song get much heavier than this? This is the heavy that Death and Speed Metal bands wish they could get. A menacing riff to go with a menacing figure in the lyrics. What I get out of the lyrics are: he goes to the future and sees destruction. He tries to get back to warn everyone in his own time that this is going to happen. In the magnetic field that enabled his time travel, he’s turned into a bit metal dude and he can’t talk. We know in this society, anything the masses don’t understand, they shun. He gets mad and destroys those who mock him. So, I guess he created the destruction he saw the vision of? Do I hear a talkbox mixed with the wah pedal in “Electric Funeral.” I’d love to ask Ed B. here in WSNC what Geezer Butler is playing to make the bass sound so boxy. Is it the Rickenbacker 4001? I generally don’t like that kind of bass sound but this is actually perfect for what they’re doing. The album closes with “Fairies Wear Boots” and as it goes quiet afterwards, you kind of feel like something’s over. A feeling of finality. That’s sad, but good that you can feel that way about an album, right? I certainly dug it. It’s a great album.
So, wow, other than the two comp albums (which incidentally, I love both) most everything got a “Dug;” only Biggie got a “dug-ish.” It was a good segment that gave me some “hmmm, how didn’t I know I liked that already?” moments. I hope the next set is just as awesome. Which, this one was only a week after the other, hopefully I will get to the next segment in a short amount of time, too. See you, then…
Until tomorrow, same blog channel…
“Politicians hide themselves away, they only started the war. Why should they go out to fight? They leave that role to the poor.” – “War Pigs” (Iommi, Osbourne, Butler, Ward)