Five of the last ten were good so I’m hoping this leg of Rolling Stone Top 500 Albums of All Time will be just as productive. I see some of the stuff on it, so I’m hoping it’s better than the preview. Anywhat! Let’s get steppin’…
#260 – Stardust by Willie Nelson. I keep thinking of Willie and Ray doing “Seven Spanish Angels” and funny that they’re both this close to each other (Ray was #265) doing standards. I think Ray beats him (they should be reversed), but this isn’t a bad disc. It’s relaxing. I know the record label was scared that Willie was losing his “outlaw country” edge, but I would rather hear this kind of stuff anyway. That being said, the songs were good but nothing, other than “Georgia on my Mind,” and I think that’s just because I knew it already. The album is relatively short, it breezed on by, and don’t know that I’d really wan to hear it again. Willie does ok with the songs, but, it’s Willie. Anymore it’s like watching an ASPCA commercial whenever I see or hear anything from him. Meh, at best.
#259 – The Velvet Rope by Janet Jackson. I’m constantly surprised by Janet. I’d say that I liked Rhythm Nation better and that I can do without all the interspersed “interludes,” but hey, it’s not my album. Janet’s work is smooth, as always, and the songwriting is solid. I am not going to be gullible enough to think that it’s her writing the majority of the songs but, the writing credits do, each and everyone, go to her, Terry Lewis, Jimmy Jam and a slew of collaborators. The only exception is Rod Stewart’s “Tonight’s the Night,” which she did an admirable job on. I have to say that “Rope Burn” is a sexy-as-all-get-out song. It’s supposed to be. “Together Again,” “Every Time,” and “You” are my faves, right after “Rope Burn.” I mean, dang! There are plenty of songs on this that can be called “sexy,” however, that song was (not quite) literally dripping from my studio monitors. I dug it.
#258 – The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society by The Kinks. Yep, it’s 1968, alright. It seems a bit older than that, though. I like The Kinks and all, but so far in this, I’m not hearing a lot that moves me. Not saying it doesn’t belong on the list, but at this high a number? It’s also the first time that I knowing listened to a “mono” mix of something. I’m going to show my ignorance but I don’t know what I was hearing that I wouldn’t have already heard or why that’s such a big deal. Someone, please explain that to me. I’m not being facetious, I’m seriously interested in why “mono” is such a big deal or why I should care or even, what am I hearing differently? Anywhat! This album does have some good stuff on it, even if the overall falls short for me. Those being: “All of My Friends Were There,” “Animal Farm,” “Wicked Annabella” and “People Take Pictures of Each Other” is kind of fun. Overall, I haven’t much to say yea or nay. But, somehow it’s higher than a “meh.”
#257 – Whitney Houston by Whitney Houston. This was Whitney Houston. Just about anything after this was a shell of the talent this album portrayed. And, I’ve made no bones about it that, to me, once Mariah Carey showed up, Whitney was irrelevant. Mariah, also, however, lost a lot after the first two albums. I think this is really the same for both, but especially Whitney: she spent too much time later trying to imitate “Whitney” instead of showing the talent she shows in this album. That and drugs. At least Mariah has something to do with her songwriting. To me, that means a lot. “You Give Good Love” was the first single I ever remember hearing from her and it was powerful then. I was only 14, I’ll admit, but I was taken aback by her voice. She was just 21, then. When I see the cover and hear the songs, it’s hard for me to put this honest voice to the diva she would become. I’m trying to not be too judgmental of her for her lifestyle later, but at the same time, it’s hard to let go of, sometimes. “Saving All My Love For You” is a great song, too. It certainly gives off that gospel ballad feel that is reminiscent of what I’m sure she sang in church on Sunday mornings. Enough breath and power to make you go, “wow!,” when she opens her mouth. And that song was co-written by Gerry Goffin who was a collaborator (in more than one way) with Carole King. I could do without Jermaine Jackson’s duets on the album, though (he’s on two). I don’t mind Jermaine, exactly, just he dumbs her voice down, in my opinion. I never really cared for “How Will I Know” and this didn’t change anything for me. “All at Once” is co-penned by Jeffrey Osborne and Michael Masser, who passed away on July 10. Most of the songs on this album had Masser’s hands on it. In fact, he wrote “Greatest Love of All” with Linda Creed (who died in the 80s) for the 1977 biopic The Greatest about Muhammad Ali, recorded originally by George Benson. It had “The” in front of it back then. Is that considered a cover if the writers actually give it to you and produce it? Hmmm… Also, I don’t mind Teddy Pendergrass doing the duet with her. All in all, this album is great and as much as I grew to really loathe anything Whitney Houston, this album, at least belongs in this list, if not even higher than this. DUG!
#256 – Trans-Europe Express by Kraftwerk. This is certainly not for anyone with a short attention span or ADD or ADHD. I have a short attention span, but the advantage I have is that I am a fan of electronic music so it does keep my attention. The first TWO songs are 17 minutes 38 seconds long. There is one song of about two minutes and the final track is just at a minute. Other than that, it’s a long journey. I’ve said before that I’ve never done any drugs and I can only imagine what it would be like to be on something listening to this. It’s very trippy. However, I can hear inspiration for Depeche Mode, Royksöpp, Tosca, New Order and other techno-driven artists that we listen to today, especially D-Mode. This is new wavy goodness, and if you’ve not the stomach for repetitive trance-like sounds, this also, will not be for you. If you like catchy musical melodies over top the repetitive trance-like sounds, along with a jokingly simple German-laden English vocal style (not a knock), then this will for you. “Showroom Dummies” is a favorite of mine. The last four tracks, “Metal on Metal,” “Abzug,” “Franz Schubert” and “Endless Endless” is a “suite” and all connected to each other in, well “movements,” if you will. It’s a great listen and don’t let the long track times scare you. You’ll hear elements that you are familiar with, even if you’re not familiar with Kraftwerk. I highly recommend it and I’ll say DUG!
#255 – Metallica by Metallica. This album gets a lot of black, I mean… flack. I don’t think that’s deserved. Yes, it was “mainstream” and to some they may have “sold out” but how is making money selling out? Let’s stay in this for the art, let’s not make any videos, let’s not get radio play, let’s just stay “underground.” ANYONE who says they’re not in it to make SOME money, is full of crapola. This was a milestone album in many ways. It did take them more of a hard rock direction from the original heavy metal they were known for. But, it also got them a bigger fan base. The “fanboys” who thought that Metallica was just for them were disappointed when they became everyone’s heavy darlings. “Enter Sandman” is fun to play and yes, it was definitely overplayed as was everything on this album, but if it’s not getting a shload of play, then it’s not making much money. I still listen to it almost every time it comes on. Yes, they cut their hair after this but, while it does look cool, they’re not playing with their hair. One big difference in this album to its immediate predecessor…? This one actually had bass on it. I know Jason Newstead put a lot of sweat into those lines and Lars buried it, although he denies it, everyone else says it was him. Not only is it present on this album, it’s in your face. That’s really what keeps this album heavy instead of just “hard.” Five singles that each got good airplay on MTV, not too shabby. I was a fan of this album. I was a fan of Ride the Lightning and most of Kill ‘Em All. Take away the bass craziness and I liked …And Justice for All. However, I never have been a fan of their most popular album ever, Master of Puppets. It was just too heavy for me, I guess. I like catchy and it missed that in lieu of crushing skulls. I get it, but I didn’t care for it. The Black Album was the last of the good Metallica. From there, they became jokingly called MeSUCKllica, to me. “The Unforgiven” was a novelty at the time. Many – countless – songs had softer verses and then crank the chorus really heavily. “The Unforgiven” does the opposite (heavy verse/soft chorus) and would become used all over the music spectrum, but overdone by Metallica themselves. I was a fan of the songs that weren’t singles, which I’ll admit is weird for me. Those being: “Of Wolf and Man,” “The God that Failed,” “Through the Never” and “My Friend of Misery.” But, combine those with the singles (before they were worn out) and it was a monster album. It solidified them as powerhouses to all audiences. During this tour, which was “in the round” I got to sing “Seek and Destroy” with James Hetfield all by myself as he pulled me over the rail. People said I was so loud they couldn’t hear the band. I was second row. Ah, memories. DUG this album, so very much.
#254 – Complete & Unbelievable: The Otis Redding Dictionary of Soul by Otis Redding. I was afraid this was a compilation album by the title (which I think is the longest title thus far, along with the Kink’s album in this segment – #258). It’s not, it’s a twelve song studio album, whew! I am not at all a fan of blues, but soul and R&B? Those, I like. Some of it is cover songs, but, I’m thinking a lot of albums in the soul genre was like that back in 1966. My favorite cover is clearly, “Day Tripper” from The Beatles. If you’re not listening to the lyrics, you’d almost never know it was that song. He drags that song through the streets and we’re all along for the ride. “She Put the Hurt on Me” is righteous, as well. It always sounds like he’s just about to lose his voice. It almost makes my head hurt thinking of the strain it sounds like he’s exerting, there. All in all, the album is really good. Other than a few songs, though, nothing really made me go, “wow! this belongs on this countdown!” but I’d certainly not kick it off of it. Dug.
#253 – The River by Bruce Springsteen. It’s cool that this one comes up just a few days removed from me performing some Bruce songs with the VSS and just a week before I do it again. Four of the twenty-six songs from the Bruce shows are on this album. That’s almost a sixth of the show, right? I hate maths. None of them are mine, though. The general feeling I have about his album is that it is way too much album for what we’re getting in return. I like a lot of the songs, but a lot of it is standard Bruce fare and not really an overall representation of his unique story-telling style. That’s not say I don’t think it’s good, because it is, just do we need that many filler songs? To those that are Bruce fans – I say I have an appreciation for Bruce – I mean no disrespect and I find him to be a grand songwriter, but some of it seems “put” on. I like “Out in the Street,” “Cadillac Ranch” and even though it’s depressing, I like “The River.” I haven’t even listened to the other disc yet. I had to take a break in the middle. I’ll be right back with you. I am a fan of the tango-esque rhythm of “Point Blank.” He talks a lot about dancing in his his songs. I must say, though, with the exceptions above, the second disc, I could have done without it. Too much extra, for me, But, again, the overall product is good. Dug.
#252 – The Blueprint by Jay Z. I believe the first song I ever heard from Mr. Carter was “Izzo (H.O.V.A.)” back in ’01. I think what I like about this is that it’s not too aggressive. It’s more approachable, at least that I’m feeling. “Izzo,” along with “Girls, Girls, Girls” are great songs. I also love how Jay Z seems to master the art of sampling for the song instead of just sampling the song. “Heart of the City (Ain’t No Love)” is a great example where they use the sample of “Ain’t No Love in the Heart of the City” from Bobby Blue Bland. Also the background stuff, even with vocoders (in which I’m a fan) like in “U Don’t Know.” I actually enjoyed listening to this album, which I’ll be honest, I dreaded. But, it’s not at all bad. I even listened to the two “hidden” tracks: “Lyrical Exercise” and “Girls, Girls, Girls (Part 2).” I dig it.
#251 – Low by David Bowie. Starting off with an instrumental, not bad. “Speed of Life” is a good start. I love the choppy lyrics that made his style the norm from here on in. The odd harmonies (either by machine or him “doubling”) are very Bowie. I’ll admit, I don’t think I know any of the songs on this album, previously. That’s good, this gives me an unbiased opinion herein. “Sound and Vision” is the song from this album, I think. It encompasses all that I have come to know as Bowie. There are things by Bowie that I don’t like but there is plenty that I do and this is definitely it. The sounds and the ethereal feel of the production is so fantastic. And holy moley! I absolutely love love love love love “Warszawa” into “Art Decade;” “Weeping Wall” to “Subterraneans,” this is fantastic stuff and some of the best listening on this segment and on this list. I’d listen to full albums of just “Side Two” of this album. It reminds me of some of the Kraftwerk from earlier this segment. This, and into the next two albums from Bowie, Heroes and Lodger, are the tremendous work of collaboration with Brian Eno, whom I think is genius anyways. Nothing about the songs are overly complicated but completely where they need to be. Sometimes I’ll listen to albums and as a musician think to myself that I could change this or that (just sometimes, not all the time). Well this I wouldn’t change a thing. Do I think it’s the best thing since sliced bread? It’s not supposed to be. It’s supposed to be solid and that’s exactly what you get here. It’s Bowie in his post-coke craziness time and he shines like the “Starman” that he is. Dug infinitesimally!
So that’s this segment. Also, I’ve made it halfway. I think I’ll write a separate post about my findings from halfway, sort of along the lines of the “what I’ve learned” every hundred that I finish. This is a milestone. When I first started it was sporadic at best but I have somewhat of a rhythm going with them now. ANYWHAT! All digs except for one complete meh and one “I couldn’t figure out how to rate it” one. This segment was pretty good and I’m hoping this kind of trend continues. We’ll see, of course. I thank you for joining me on this journey and I know my reviews can be somewhat polarizing to some as my last one was. I don’t begin to think or portray that I know what I’m talking about, as I hope that’s known. I just say what I feel. I can be wrong and I can be opinionated, but I’m me and this is what I do. Thanks again, Dear Reader.
Until tomorrow, same blog channel…
“You coulda been anywhere in the world, but you’re here with me
I appreciate that” – “Izzo (H.O.V.A.)” by Jay-Z