The last segment of Rolling Stone Top 500 Albums of All Time had some surprises, not-surprises and duds, to me. I’m hitting the top 40 this time around. We can see the daylight and we’re moving on ahead. Speaking of which.
#40 – Forever Changes by Love. Okay, I’ll admit it. I’ve never heard of Love before. Never. Also, I’ve never, as far as I know, heard anything on this, either. But, I’ll follow all that with, I wish that I had. I really, really like this. It’s beautiful, it’s hard, it’s fresh (even 50 years later) and it’s sad. It’s easy to listen to and melodic. The production is slick and the orchestration, lush. Love, it turns out, was the first rock band to sign with Elektra Records. I was thrilled to find out that a few of the tracks on the album were accompanied by Wrecking Crew folks: Carole Kaye (bass), Billy Strange (guitar) and Hal Blaine (drums) all played on “Andmoreagain” and “The Daily Planet,” while Don Randi (piano) played on those same two songs and “Bummer in the Summer.” This is perfect late-60s psychedelia and fits that mold quite well. It’s also a bit weird. I mean the song “Live and Let Live” talks about snot caking on his pants and it’s hardened into a crust of crud. All this in what I can only figure is a metaphor for bureaucratic baloney, but isn’t it all bureaucratic baloney? I believe that it is. Some of my favorite things on this are “Alone Again Or,” “Andmoreagain,” “The Red Telephone,” “Live and Let Live” and “You Set the Scene” (although that one went on a bit long). I haven’t heard of it before but I dug it!
#39 – Please, Please Me by The Beatles. 1963. The world is introduced to The Beatles. The album was thrown together to capitalize (or “Capitolize” – see what I did there?) on the success of “Love Me Do” and the title track of this album. Without this, we problem wouldn’t have Sgt. Pepper, The Beatles (White Album), Abbey Road, Revolver, Rubber Soul and all the other greats. I’ve never cared about the early Beatles albums, but listening to this, it was really ahead of its time musically and production wise. George Martin was a genius. At this point in time the kids just bought singles (money was hard) and the adults bought albums. This pretty much changed that practice. It’s a much better album than I’d ever given credit for before. And, the longest song on here is 2:53, which is not bad. Not my favorite Beatles album; nowhere near, but it’s darn fine. I dug it!
#38 – The Anthology 1947-1972 by Muddy Waters. Compilation = skip.
#37 – Hotel California by The Eagles. My favorite Eagles album, this. Well, one of them. I’d say it’s a tie between this and Desperado with The Long Run coming in right behind. I mean, Joe Walsh jumps in the band and all of a sudden you have an even bigger guitar duo powerhouse than before and you get “Life in the Fast Lane,” the title track, and “Victim of Love” as your rockin’ songs. You’re not getting crapped on for the more laid back, either: “New Kid in Town,” “Wasted Time” (one of my fave Eagles tunes, ever), “The Last Resort” and Walsh’s “Pretty Maids All in a Row.” I’m not really sure why there’s the reprise of “Wasted Time” other than to tie side one to side two, but it’s cool and I like it. The album, as a whole is awfully rockin’ and I’m quite a fan. It’s the last to feature Randy Misner before Timothy B. Schmidt takes of. It’s also the penultimate Eagles album, other than the “hell freezes over” stuff later. I don’t know that I count those. I kid, of course I do. Okay, this album… I LOVE it! Oh, and I believe it’s the third best selling album in history.
#36 – Tapestry by Carole King. One of my new favorite albums of all time. It’s top 20 easy and possibly higher. There’s not a bad song on it anywhere. I can’t believe it’s this far down on the list, really. The songs are all well written (three co-written by her ex-husband Gerry Goffin, two with lyricist Toni Stern). The musicianship is immaculate, as well. She’s a great pianist and the accompanists are tight and near perfect while still keeping the feel of the album groovy. Even a song that gets on my nerves like you wouldn’t believe, “You’ve Got a Friend,” I love when she does it (it’s James Taylor’s version I get annoyed with). James Taylor plays on almost every song, too. He’s playing acoustic guitar and singing backup on most of it. If you’re wondering the name of the cat on the cover, it’s Telemachus. I can’t say exactly what it is about this album that I love so much. I just know that the first time I listened to it, I listened to it three times in a row and all without doing anything else other than reading lyrics to the songs. I really love this album. I bought it used on vinyl from my buddy Jonathan at Underdog Records but it had a lot of skips. He hasn’t located me another used copy, yet. It’s hard to say what my faves are because I love them all, but I’ll go with “Where You Lead” (I am a Gilmore Girls fan after all), “So Far Away,” “I Feel the Earth Move,” “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” and “It’s Too Late.” Again, I love this album. And, again, it should have been higher.
#35 – The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars by David Bowie. The hits just keep coming! Another of my favorites. Another I wonder why it’s so far down the list. The Vagabond Saints Society did a tribute to Bowie in February right after his death and it included this album in its entirety. I was lucky enough to be able to do “Starman.” It was a great show and a fun song to do. The album is a concept album and we know I love a good concept album. The thing is, other than the sex and rock star aspect of it, I can’t really tell what it’s about. It’s kind of a mystery to me. But, I like it. Unlike the previous album on this segment, I don’t love every song on the album. I love most of them. “Ziggy Stardust” (I like the Bauhaus version, too), “Starman,” “It Ain’t Easy,” “Lady Stardust” and “Five Years” are my favorites. I’ve never really cared for “Suffragette City,” although I do like it better now than I used to. I own it on vinyl, but because of timing that’s not how I listened to it this time. Mick Ronson was a great guitarist. A little noisy, but that fit perfectly for Bowie. Trevor Bolder is a beast of a bass player, too. I really like this album! DUG x a bunch!
#34 – Music from Big Pink by The Band. Well, I suppose the fun had to end, eh? Not really. When I saw this come up on the list I let out an audible sigh. Why is this on the list and this high? I asked. I gave it a chance (I usually give them all a chance) and it wasn’t too awful. I am so not a fan of Levon Helm. I think that is the most of it. Not that I don’t like Richard Manuel or Rick Danko much better. As I said last segment, it’s sometimes like some old-timey jug band. At least after the first side, I didn’t have to hear Helm doing lead. For whatever reason, this time listening to “The Weight” made me hear the song in a different light. I liked “Wheel’s on Fire,” “Chest Fever” and “We Can Talk.” Really, overall it wasn’t a bad album at all. Some of it even reminded me of The Beatles. I dug it, surprisingly.
#33 – Ramones by The Ramones. Well, I was surprised to find that I liked The Band’s recent entry. Then this happened.I listened to it through my headphones and it wasn’t horrible. the biggest problem for me was that it seemed 75% of the songs were the same song with different high school-written lyrics. The production was actually decent for what it was. I can say that the best part of the album was the whole thing was over in less than 30 minutes. I know why it’s on the list, being influential and all that. I just don’t know about the placement. I could see top 200 but top 40? Nah.I didn’t not dig it, but it was slightly higher than a meh.
#32 – Let It Bleed by The Rolling Stones. The track listing alone makes this better than its predecessor on both this countdown and chronologically, Beggar’s Banquet. “Love in Vain,” though. I don’t like hobo music; it sounds like something I’d picture a hobo on a train singing while carrying his bandana sack on a stick. I don’t like stuff like that. I also am not a fan of the original version of “Honky Tonk Women” called “Country Tonk” on this album; I’m a fan of “HTW,” though. For being the only tune on the album that (original pianist) Ian Stewart played on, his playing is pretty prominent on the title track. According to what I read, Keith Richards is singing lead on “You Got the Silver” but it sounds just like Mick Jagger to me. I really like “Monkey Man.” It has a harder rock edge to it, at least comparatively to the rest of the album. However, my favorite song on the album is the seven and a half minute opus, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.” I said it was better than Beggar’s and I’ll stick with that, but I’ll say it was just by a skosh. Meh (except for “You Can’t Always…,” and “Gimme Shelter.”)
#31 – Bringing It All Back Home by Bob Dylan. The first seconds that I heard “Subterranean Homesick Blues” I felt like I was watching the video for “Mediate” from INXS’ Kick album. See if anyone gets that. All my informed life (which is debatable), I’ve been down on Dylan because of the all-folksy thing. Well, after hearing this, I need to retract all of that. There’s some good things on here, to be sure, but it’s not endearing like the earlier folksy stuff. Yeah, he’s still speaking in metaphors that are beyond most of my comprehension but it’s not the same. I need some of that slight political resistance even though it’s beyond me. I haven’t ever been too politically charged. When it is, it’s something I find of importance but I’ll admit that I’m pretty aloof about politics mostly. I don’t usually get the references. Life’s too short to worry about all that. However, I think Dylan was at his best when he was protesting something. Other than it being way too long, I am amused with the “take two” on “Bob Dylan’s 115 Dream.” I was so glad when I got to side two and it was mostly acoustic stuff. It fits his voice better. This is where we get “Mr. Tambourine Man,” too. Yeah, side two, is definitely Dylan to me. I understand the significance of this album but about half of it I really like; the other half, no. But, overall I’m certainly saying dug, just from the second side. So, dug.
So, this ended up being a pretty fantastic segment. Even some surprises with me not hating the Ramones or The Band albums, right? A brand new discovery in the Love album. And two albums that I love (King, Eagles), one that I like slightly less than love (Bowie) and a Stones album that has some shine but mostly fell flat for me. A Dylan departure that I wasn’t ready to happen and was saved in the end. A Beatles album and that is never a bad thing. One compilation. That sums up this segment in a nutshell, me being the nut. Getting closer, now. Up next, top 30.
Until tomorrow, same blog channel…
“Didn’t know what time it was and the lights were low. I leaned back on my radio.
Some cat was layin’ down some rock ‘n’ roll ”lotta soul,’ he said. Then, the loud sound did seem to fade; came back like a slow voice on a wave of phase. That weren’t no D.J., that was hazy cosmic jive.” – “Starman” (Bowie)