Wow, we’ll get down to the last hundred after this segment of Rolling Stone’s Top 500 Albums of All Time. They’re clicking on by. And yes, I know it’s been since June since I posted the last one. I’ve been busy with the move and work. I’m getting back to it. The last segment was really split down the middle: three I hated, three I liked and four that I loved. Let’s see how this segment works out, shall we? Let’s get the 390th to 400th done, starting now!
#110 – Loaded by Velvet Underground. Well, it couldn’t have started much worse. I am so over Velvet Underground even being on this list. I’m about tired of reviewing the albums because it’s the same thing over and over: “it’s awful.” I’m thinking, though that if you had the same songs with others singing and performing it, it may be a whole different story. It’s not the songs that I don’t like, it’s the band. I’ve heard covers of some of their tunes (before knowing they were VU) and liked it, then I found out who it was. That’s not bad. And, again, the kicker is… I like Lou Reed albums solo, but this is enough to make me want to put my head through the laminated glass on the front of the new studio. “Sweet Jane” is on this album as is “Rock & Roll.” Both are decent songs. Lots of energy. I’m actually going to give the caveat that I actually thought all of the songs are decent, I just wish someone else was performing it. I think there was a lot of politics on the record, not political as in social sense but within the band, the production crew and so on. It was meant, from what I can tell to be more mainstream and that’s perhaps why I like it. That being said, and I can’t believe I’m saying this, I actually didn’t mind this record. I’m going to actually give it a “dug” but still wish it was someone else.
#109 – Aftermath by The Rolling Stones. This, according to Rolling Stone is the US version, which is a bit different. A different cover, a different, shorter track listing. They added “Paint It Black” at the beginning because it was the current single. Rhapsody (now called Napster) didn’t even include that on their listing. I had to add it from the Hot Rocks compilation. This was the first Rolling Stones album to feature all original music – no covers. “Paint It Black” has always sounded ominous to me and I’ve always dug it. Dark and foreboding; it reached #1 on Billboard’s Hot 100 (where your Top 40 comes from). I do love me some “Lady Jane” which made #24. It’s a sweet tune with some serious harpsichord happening. “Under My Thumb” always reminded me of some lounge singer until they kick in. I know it’s because of the marimba work. I picture smoking jackets, thin jeans and loafers. I could be totally off on that visual’s time frame but it’s what I see. In my mind everything is faded like in the “Nashville” setting on Instagram. Some of the album is really good and some of it is filler, to me. Overall, it has it’s high points and meh points. It’s entertaining nonetheless. I dug it, for the most part.
#108 – Hunky Dory by David Bowie. This is good Bowie. Good Bowie, indeed. The album starts with one of my favorite Bowie songs, ever: “Changes.” A new fave, “Oh! You Pretty Things” is next. I never knew how much I dug “Life On Mars?” until just recently. The music hall feel of “Kooks” and the awesome piano stylings of Rick Wakeman on “Quicksand” and “Fill Your Heart.” I love “Andy Warhol,” too. It’s as weird as he was. Love the harmonies in that, too. I said it at the beginning of this paragraph and I’ll say it again – This is good Bowie. Now, I’ll amend it and say that this is great Bowie! Mick Ronson’s guitar work is solid and Bowie’s songwriting is shining. From the front to the back… genius. I LOVE this album. LOVE it. And this was the first time listening to it.
#107 – Portrait of a Legend 1951-1964 by Sam Cooke.
#106 – Rocket to Russia by The Ramones. I was doing something else and thought that it was one song that went on for 32 minutes. Good news/bad news? Bad news is it was The Ramones. The good news is that it was only 32 minutes. The longest song was 2:49. For the win. Seriously, I didn’t mind “Cretin and/or Blitzkrieg Bop” whichever one that was on here. And “Rock rock rock rock and roll High School/Rockaway Beach..?” I don’t know what people see in this, it bores me to tears. At least, though, it doesn’t turn my stomach like sad, 12-bar blues does. I do really like “Sheena is a Punk Rocker.” The rest of the album? Nah, didn’t dig.
#105 – Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music by Ray Charles. Glad I could cleanse my palate from the last album on this. Having recently watched and review Ray, I have a new appreciation of Ray Charles. Now, I don’t know how accurate that film is, but it did reintroduce a younger generation to Ray Charles. So, these tunes are right in line for that film. That being said, this is more R&B styled standards than it is C&W music, which is great to me. I prefer this style, and yes I get that it was very much country and western. It doesn’t have to be twangy to be C&W. I have become a huge fan of this style of music and Ray just takes it to such high places. I had to piece this one together on YouTube because it wasn’t available on Napster. Faves on this album were “Bye Bye Love,” “I Love You So Much It Hurts,” “Just a Little Lovin’ (Will Go a Long Way),” “It Makes No Difference Now” and “Hey, Good Lookin’.” I really enjoyed this album. Big DUG!!
#104 – Sweet Baby James by James Taylor. This album gets a lot of recognition and comparison to Carole King’s Tapestry (still to come, much later in the countdown) and while I do know that Stringbean plays all the acoustic guitar on that album and they were good friends, this doesn’t, at all, compare to that album. Wait until we get to that one to find out my thoughts on it. This has some good songs on it, “Sweet Baby James,” “Fire and Rain.” However, I’ve grown completely over James Taylor, NC boy or not. “Sunny Skies” is like Sesame Street’s theme, which is okay. “Steamroller” is that junky 12-bar blues that I loathe so much, but this rendition really isn’t too awful. I do like the inclusion of the horns. He does a pretty good rendition of the Stephen Foster tune, “Oh, Susannah.” That is immediately followed by “Fire and Rain” which is, in part, about a childhood friend committing suicide when he was in London recording his first album (this was his second) with Apple Records. Carole King did play all the piano parts on the album. “Anywhere Lies Heaven” sounds like he struggled with the song. It almost sounds high schoolish and it seems like he’s pitchy the whole time. I don’t understand why it was included on the album. “Oh Baby, Don’t You Loose Your Lip on Me” drives me crazy from the moment he starts it. Overall, it’s a decent album but I find very little about it remotely remarkable. I didn’t not dig it…?
#103 – Giant Steps by John Coltrane. Oh, sweet, jazzy yumminess. This horn is talking. There’s no lyrics and there doesn’t have to be. The lyrics are implied and formed whimsically from Coltrane’s seasoned reed. The horn tells the story, vividly. And he had some killer cats playing with him, too. I mean, Tommy Flanagan – Ella Fitzgerald’s main-most-man on the keys, the gone-too-soon Paul Chambers on the double bass and Art Taylor on drums. Most of those instrumentalists were mainstays with Miles Davis, as well. The thing about Coltrane is that I don’t know that I’ve ever heard a sax like that. I’m thinking about some melodic and rolling stuff that I’ve heard but don’t know that I’ve heard a sax actually talk to me; sing to me; speak to me. I love the dynamics, the ebbs and the flows. I think this is a fine and fantasmic piece of music history and I will say that I loved it. DUG!
#102 – Fresh Cream by Cream. There are things that I go into on this list that I just “hope” that I’ll like since it’s iconic and all that mess, but Cream is just something I cannot get into. I know they’re “great musicians” and all that, and I can’t argue that they’re good. I just don’t get it. It’s too bluesy for me, I guess. I will say the production is fantastic. The sounds are all lush and (until “Toad,” the last song) vibrant. I do like a few songs on the album, “I Feel Free” (yes this was the later US version with the original UK track listing with this song added at the beginning), “I’m So Glad,” and “Dreaming.” The aforementioned questioning of “Toad” was that while the extra-long drum solo is happening, there’s a sudden drop in sound quality. It may have been my stream, I’m not sure. But, it was quite noticeable. Overall, like I said, there are parts that I dig about it but for the most part? Meh. I’ll just never get Cream, I guess. Meh, again.
#101 – In the Wee Small Hours by Frank Sinatra. I can listen to Ol’ Blue Eyes any day of the week, any amount of time, and be ecstatic. I have loved listening to Frank since I was in my late teens/early 20s. This is one of his finest pieces of work and was recorded in a tumultuous time in his life. Who am I kidding? That was almost all the time. His lifestyle, while grand, was also quite chaotic. You can almost hear the ache in his heart. I make fun of Morrissey for “talking” his way through songs, but really, Frank does it, too. Yes, he sings, but it sometimes is a bit of of spoken word. However, it’s smooth and relaxing. I find I can work well, writing posts, working up plans, just working… when I listen to him (and this style). It’s good background music, but it’s also good to straight up listen to, as well. They’re called “standards” for a reason and that reason is because they were a standard inclusion for many people in the recording industry in the ’30s-’50s. There’s songs here by Richard Rogers and Lorenz Hart, Cole Porter, Duke Ellington, Howard Dietz and Arthur Schwartz, Alec Wilder and the great, great, great Hoagy Carmichael. Some wonderful stuff, here. I’d own it on vinyl and I really, really dug it!!
So, this round had it’s share of ups and downs, eh? A few “loves,” a few “likes,” a few “mehs,” a compilation. Some of it all. I’m glad I heard the Bowie, Ray, Frank and Coltrane albums. Wow, the more I look at it, that’s Ray Charles, Frank Sinatra and John Coltrane in one segment with some of Bowie’s best work thrown in there, too? Hey, and I didn’t hate the Velvet Underground album. I could have done without the Ramones, Stones and Cream albums, though. I guess I need to do a recap of this past 100 albums and I’ll get to that when I can. I’ll try to make it fairly soon, I promise. Listen to good music for the sake of listening to good music and I’ll see you next segment and I’ll see you tomorrow…
Until then, same blog channel…
“And these children that you spit on, as they try to change their worlds, are immune to your consultations. They’re quite aware of what they’re going through.” – “Changes” (Bowie)