The last segment was pretty righteous on the countdown of the Rolling Stone Top 500 Albums of All Time. Everything was mostly liked and even the two comps that I didn’t listen to (for the list, anyway) are albums that I have and really liked to begin with. But, let’s stop yakking and get on with it already!
#130 – Marquee Moon by Television. Okay, big surprise here… I’ve never heard of Television. Never. It is supposed to be old school punk, I know, but I really just heard straight ahead rock and roll. The way Tom Verlaine sings these tunes and the way they’re presented and packaged, I would have thought I was listening to a 1970s Rolling Stones album that somehow I missed along the way. There’s enough whine and tremble in his voice that it could pass for a poor man’s Mick Jagger. I find it to be good music. From the beginning of “See No Evil” all the way to “Tom Curtain,” the music is good. Some of the songs go on a bit long but nothing I didn’t enjoy. The title track is almost 11 minutes in length. That’s okay and all, just wow. Yeah, I don’t know that I’d have gone out looking for this, but I’m glad I listened. Dug.
#129 – Remain in Light by Talking Heads. This was released in 1980 but it certainly sounds more like it’s from 1987, to me. Tina Weymouth is a fantastic bassist; a freak really. Just listen to anything she’s doing on here and it’s evident. Wow. I love “Crosseyed and Painless.” I love the funky rhythm and the soulful, ethereal vocals. I like the Afro-Latin style of drumming. Of course, there’s my favorite Heads song, “Once in a Lifetime.” I asked for that in the upcoming Vagabond Saints Society Talking Heads Summer Spectacular but I’ve not heard word, as of yet, to what I’ll get. Back to my original statement, from what I’ve read (so take it for what it’s worth), this really was ahead of its time and while no one knew what to think of it at first, they really took to it. Letting it “happen” and accepting it. I like it. “Listening Wind” is kind of mysterious and dark. I love that kind of groove in a song. Then, “The Overload” is even more dark and mysterious. It reminds me of David Bowie and how could that be wrong? The feeling, the lyrics, the vocals, the atmosphere. Dark. Dangerous. Delightful. Some of that, I’m sure came from Brian Eno, who produced the album. Really, top to bottom, this is a fantastic listen and I am glad it was on the list. DUUUGGG!!!!
#128 – Raw Power by The Stooges. Holy crap! I think my face is bruised from just listening to the opening bit of the first track, “Search and Destroy.” It’s hostile and it’s abusive. It’s also mastered hot. Everything is almost distorted it’s so hot. I’m sure that’s partly what they were looking for. I’m not positive, though. It was so hot that you can really hear the hiss of the highs. Again, not a bad thing, just very noticeable. “Gimme Danger” has a more laid back sound but when the band kicks in, it’s noticeable there, too. Iggy Pop is up to his normal wackiness and that’s just in his vocals. I can picture him in the studio lurching around and bouncing, either off the walls or flopping in the floor. He has that kind of energy in his voice. One of the best titles to a song, ever, has to be: “Your Pretty Face is Going to Hell.” So far, my favorite song on the album is “Penetration.” Or should I say “Pen-ay-tray-SHAWN!” instead? It’s righteous. “I Need Somebody” is almost scary and I really like that one, too. It’s very reminiscent of some of the sixties stuff like Sam the Sham & the Pharaohs or Animals. I’m sure there was some influence. That’s great stuff. So, when this album was done. I had a headache. My throat hurt, even though I wasn’t the one screaming through most of the songs. I don’t know how Iggy has any voice left. It was a decent album with some really good stuff on it, but I wouldn’t say it was great. I will, however, say that I dug it.
#127 – Younger than Yesterday by The Byrds. One of my recent favorite songs of yore is “My Back Pages.” I like the version on this album, not much on the Dylan version, but I’m getting more and more into Dylan. Again, I never heard that tune until a few years ago. I just didn’t have access to that kind of music, which surprises me because it should be stuff that Ma Mère listened to, but she wasn’t one to own a lot of records. Anywhat! It’s guitar-forward power pop (was that even a thing back then?). I like that kind of thing. The weird stop in “C.T.A.-102” threw me off. That had hints of things later in pop music but it was odd, but interesting. “Have You Seen Her Face” is a rock song, pure and simple. You hear shades of what would eventually become a sonic staple of Crosby Stills & Nash with the vocal harmonies, especially “Renaissance Man,” which are prevalent through out the album. “Everybody’s Been Burned” is a haunting tune with a darker sonic atmosphere, yet it seems like it’s trying to crawl out of that the entire song. Following that is the bright arpeggio stylings of “Thoughts and Words.” A somewhat beautifully twangy ditty that has an actual rock bridge/chorus. The backwards solo is a nice touch, too. I always like “nice touches.” I believe the absolute weirdest tune on the album (almost psychedelic) is “Mind Gardens” which sounds like it would be psychedelic, right? Lots of backwards stuff on this tune with an acoustic guitar in the background. Lyrics that sound like David Crosby is tripping as he sings the tune. I don’t know that I like it, but I don’t know that I don’t. Still, after the whole album, certainly “My Back Pages” is still the best song on here and I love it more the more I listen to it. The album is great and I dig it.
#126 – Catch a Fire by Bob Marley & the Wailers. The opening track, “Concrete Jungle,” is kind of laid back, musically but it is kind of powerful as far as lyrics go. “No sun and a yellow tint around town; no chains around his feet, yet he’s not free” (I am just paraphrasing and not quoting). I think he can’t break loose of the poverty that surrounds the entire island of Jamaica. It seems there’s a lot of heaviness around there for Bob. But, it seems not all is lost on the island nation. There’s a bit of love song relief in the mix, too. Probably the biggest tune on the album, “Stir It Up,” is a happy love tune. And, “Kinky Reggae,” no matter what others may say, is definitely a song about sex. I mean the lyrics talk of: “She had brown sugar all over her booga-wooga,” and “He had a candy tar all over his chocolate bar.” It’s sex. Candied sex. I liked it. I’ve gotten to where I can dig some reggae as of late. Really, though, if I’m going to listen, it has to be Marley. The other stuff doesn’t have the same effect for me. But, I’ll definitely go with dug!!
#125 – Pearl by Janis Joplin. Janis Joplin is one of the members of the dreaded “27 Club,” the unfortunate group of musicians/music industry people that passed at the age of 27, mostly from drugs, murder or suicide. The merits of this album were bolstered by the fact that while it is her most popular release, she died while recording it. She started studio sessions for the album at the beginning of September, 1970. She wrote the opening track, “Move Over,” herself. This was the only recordings she made with the Full Tilt Boogie Band, which was also the band she toured with. I do like “Half Moon” a good bit; it’s some serious early-’70s jam. Along the same lines, there’s “Buried Alive in the Blues.” Serious jam. The difference is that there are no vocals. It was left as an instrumental piece because Joplin was scheduled to go in and do vocal tracks but, she was scheduled to do so on a day that was the week after she passed away. So, as homage to her, they left it instrumental to demonstrate the void, I suppose. I have to say this: I have had plenty of people in my life talk about Joplin’s “amazing voice.” Whilst I do find it soulful, I also find it to be one of the most grating and annoying voices I’ve ever heard. It’s like she’s screaming at me the entire time. It’s nails on the chalkboard, constantly. That’s mostly evident to me on the Kris Kristofferson-penned “Me and Bobby McGee.” I’ve never been a fan of that song and listening to it, today, uninterrupted, that didn’t change. However, with that, I struggle with it because, I kind of like it, too. Like I said, a struggle. To me, the most chilling part is knowing that her a cappella send-off (if you will), “Mercedez Benz,” was recorded only 3 days before she died. It was her last recording. Again, I’ll give the soulfulness of her voice is almost unmatched but the grating tone and timbre is hard to sit through, for me. That being said, I actually did like the album, but I don’t care to listen to it again. Dug.
#124 – Moby Grape by Moby Grape. I have never heard of this band before. I had to piece together the songs as, while there are pieces of the album on Rhapsody, there are only pieces. There’s like one song from the album and then bonus tracks from a later reissue. I’m digging what I’ve heard so far. The opening track, “Hey Grandma” was rocking and roaring. I loved the harmonies in there, too. “8:05” is sad song, really. It is about someone’s love leaving (assuming by bus or train) and they’re not going with them. “Come in the Morning” is certainly a ’60s ‘Frisco sounding tune. It reminds me, definitely of the contemporaries of the era. I wasn’t born until 1970 and whilst I do now know a bit of that music, I’m not still not as versed as I’d like to be. “Omaha” was kind of punkish, really. It was in your face and punching you, the way I picture punk being. And it’s funny that it’s immediately followed by the short acoustic number, “Naked if I Want to.” “Ain’t No Use” puts me in mind of Buck Owen’s (or The Beatles) “Act Naturally.” It’s that same kind of country/western rock ‘n’ roll. This band had great harmonies. There’s also some of that ethereal psychedelia that you’d expect out of San Francisco. I picture a lot of mushrooms or something being ingested here. “Sitting by the Window” is such psychedelia and I like it. All in all, I’d have rather seen this band make it big then some of the stuff that did get popular out of SFO, I’m not naming names. I hear it was shoddy marketing that made the general public miss the mark on the band, and that’s disappointing. Anyway, I dug this album. It was righteous. My only complaint was that I had to work so hard to find it. I could have listened to it in around 30 minutes, but because it wasn’t readily available on anything (and with some of them album being removed), it took me almost an hour to piece it together. Boo!
#123 – Raising Hell by Run-DMC. Early hip-hop gold here. It came out while I still lived in WV. I heard “My Adidas” right before I moved and then their (better, in my opinion) version of “Walk this Way” came out 2 weeks after I moved to WSNC and MTV ran it in the ground. That’s cool, though. My favorite single they released, on this album and any other by them, is “It’s Tricky.” I know The Knack sued them because they and producer Rick Rubin sampled “My Sharona.” I don’t know that it actually went to court, though. Other highlights are “Raising Hell” and “You Be Illin’.” I like the album and see where its significance in the genre is, but listening now, it sounds like a lot of other stuff. Yes, I realize that it’s a forerunner and trailblazer; I got it. I’m not downplaying it, really. It just seems like it is awfully repetitive. I’d still rather hear this than just about any other rap (Chronic or Lethal from UTFO excluded) album. So, I’m good with that. Also, some early scratch work by the late Jam Master Jay. I dug it.
#122 – The Harder They Come (Soundtrack) by Various Artists. This is actually a compilation album with only one Jimmy Cliff song being specifically for the film of the same name. I’m sure it’s nice but I’m not writing about it.
#121 – Stand! by Sly and the Family Stone. Yesssssss! A lot of funk and rock. A lot of soul and rhythm. Three mega-hits on this album, too: the title track, “I Want to Take You Higher” and “Everyday People.” Larry Graham, you, sir, are a beast of a bass player. I love funk bass and wish I were more versed in it. Lots of grit and dirt on this album and I love it! It’s funny to hear a laid-back “Somebody’s Watching You” right after the flash of “I Want to Take You Higher.” The virtuosity on this album is astounding, to me. Variety and style, too. And, really, I’d never paid attention to the lyrics of “Everyday People,” but holy smokes that’s an awesome song. I’ve always liked the song but when you read the lyrics, especially along with the song, it’s a fantabulous ditty. I’d say it’s coming into my top 1000 or so of songs as we speak. Honestly, I don’t know that I could name 1000 songs off the top of my head. That would be a feat, huh? Sly shows his bass chops on the last song of the album, “You Can Make It if You Try.” Good job, but I prefer Larry Graham. The only thing I could say is wrong with this album is the nearly-14 minute “Sex Machine.” But, really, that moves along pretty easily. This is an album that I’d love to find on vinyl. I know I say that about most funk albums, but this one is heavy and I want it. DUG!!
This segment has been chock-full of bass players that I really enjoy or am newly enjoying. Great stuff. The only snag was the soundtrack. I did research on it and had it been all original stuff for the album, I’d have reviewed it. Again, this was a great segment and hope the next stretch is as good. Enjoy your week, Dear Reader, and look for the next segment, coming soon.
Until tomorrow, same blog channel…
“There is a yellow one that won’t accept the black one, that won’t accept the red one, that won’t accept the white one. And, different strokes for different folks and so on and so on and scooby dooby doo. I am everyday people.” – “Everyday People” (Stewart)