Album of the Week: Pigments by Dawn Richard and Spencer Zahn


This will be my last Album of the Week of 2022 (and possibly, ever, but more on that later) as I won’t have time to listen to new albums and do them justice, but I do hope I can do a round up of some of the best albums I missed before the year’s end.

 

Album: Pigments
Artist: Dawn Richard and Spencer Zahn
Release Date: October 21, 2022
Label: Merge Records
Favorite Tracks:

  • Vantablack
  • Crimson
  • Umber

Thoughts:

Dawn Richard, whose earlier work fell more into the pop and R&B genre, adds her ethereal voice to the layer of atmospheric sounds made with her collaborator Spencer Zahn.  At times, this album sounds like one of those New Age relaxation tapes, but I don’t mean that in a bad way.  At any rate this is a very deeply expressive form of music that definitely deserves repeated listening to understand better.

Rating: ***

Album of the Week:  2022

January

February

March

April

May

July

August

September

October

November

Favorite Albums of All Time: 20-11


Having listened to every album on the Rolling Stone list of 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, I’m making my own list.  This list will be only 250 albums, although I had to make some tough cuts.  The list includes a mix of works of musical genius with the pure nostalgia of some albums I’ve loved throughout my life.  As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts about these albums and what your favorite albums are. I will continue the countdown every other Wednesday throughout 2022.

250-241 200-191 150-141 100-91 50-41
240-231 190-181 140-131 90-81 40-31
230-221 180-171 130-121 80-71 30-21
220-211 170-161 120-111 70-61
210-201 160-151 110-101 60-51

20

Artist: The Avalanches
Title: Since I Left You
Year: 2000
Favorite Tracks:

  • Since I Left You
  • Two Hearts in 3/4 Time
  • Flight Tonight
  • Electricity
  • Frontier Psychiatrist
  • ETOH

The First Time I Heard This Album …: early 2000s

Thoughts: This is by far the best album I serendipitously discovered by randomly checking it out from the library.  The Avalanches groundbreaking debut is a masterpiece of “plunderphonics,” dance music, and disco that still sounds fresh today. Also, just watch the totally bonkers “Frontier Psychiatrist” video.

Bonus Sounds: Fans of The Avalanches waited a long time for a second album, Wild Flowers, which came out in 2016.  This was followed by We Will Always Love You in 2020.


19

Artist: Marvin Gaye
Title: What’s Going On
Year: 1971
Favorite Tracks:

  • What’s Going On
  • Flying High (In the Friendly Sky)
  • God is Love
  • Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)

The First Time I Heard This Album …: 1990s?

Thoughts: Marvin Gaye’s magnum opus was recognized by Rolling Stone as the number one album of all time in 2020. The song cycle of socially conscious soul and R&B remains (sadly) relevant.

Bonus Sounds: My first encounter with Marvin Gaye was his 1982 album Midnight Love, the last release before his death, which includes the classic “Sexual Healing.”


18

Artist: Stereolab 
Title: Emperor Tomato Ketchup
Year :1996
Favorite Tracks:

  • Metronomic Underground
  • Cybele’s Reverie,
  • Les Yper-Sound
  • The Noise of Carpet
  • Emperor Tomato Ketchup
  • Anonymous Collective

The First Time I Heard This Album …: circa 2004

Thoughts: A co-worker introduced me to Stereolab and boy howdy, I’m glad he did!  This album is a standout collection of a career of catchy and experimental art rock tracks with electronic loops and samples.

Bonus Sounds: My Stereolab Music Discovery has it all.


17

Artist: The Pogues
Title: Rum, Sodomy and The Lash
Year: 1985
Favorite Tracks:

  • The Old Main Drag
  • The Wild Cats of Kilkenny
  • I’m A Man You Don’t Meet Every Day
  • A Pair of Brown Eyes
  • Sally MacLennane
  • Dirty Old Town
  • The Band Played Waltzing Matilda

The First Time I Heard This Album …: 1991

Thoughts: The Pogues at the their most musically raw, albeit produced by Elvis Costello, while performing story songs that get at the aching heart of humanity. The album also features bassist Cait O’Riordan’s only lead vocal on “I’m A Man You Don’t Meet Every Day.”

Bonus Sounds: The Pogues peaked in the mid-to-late 80s but Peace and Love (1989), Hell’s Ditch (1990), and even Pogue Mahone (1996) have some good tracks.


16

Artist: The Stone Roses
Title: The Stone Roses 
Year: 1989
Favorite Tracks:

  • I Wanna Be Adored
  • She Bangs the Drums
  • Waterfall
  • (Song For My) Sugar Spun Sister
  • Shoot You Down
  • I Am the Resurrection

The First Time I Heard This Album …: 1990

Thoughts: One of the first “alternative” albums I listened to after going through my high school Classic Rock phase.  The psychedelic sound drew me in and the chiming guitars, harmonies, and anthemic song structure keeps me listening.

Bonus Sounds: The Stone Roses released only one other album that wasn’t as good as their debut, but there’s a lot of good music to be found from the late 80s/early 90s Madchester sound by bands such as Happy Mondays, Inspiral Carpets, the Charlatans, and James.


15

Artist: Radiohead
Title: OK Computer
Year:  1997
Favorite Tracks:

  • Paranoid Android
  • Exit Music (For a Film)
  • Let Down
  • Karma Police
  • No Surprises

The First Time I Heard This Album …: 2003

Thoughts:  I was late to this album but it quickly became an all time favorite and Radiohead one of my favorite bands of the Nineties and Oughts.

Bonus Sounds: Pablo Honey (1993), The Bends (1995),  Kid A (2000), Hail to the Thief (2003),  and In Rainbows (2007) are all part of Radiohead’s excellent discography.


14

Artist: R.E.M.
Title: Lifes Rich Pageant
Year: 1986
Favorite Tracks:

  • Begin the Begin
  • Fall On Me
  • Underneath the Bunker
  • The Flowers of Guatemala
  • I Believe
  • Swan Swan H
  • Superman

The First Time I Heard This Album …: 1989

Thoughts: R.E.M. at the peak of their “College Rock” sound before moving onto different styles and greater commercial success.  The vocals are clearer for ever which is important because the lyrics are more topical and political.  But the strengths are still melodies and jangling guitars.

Bonus Sounds: R.E.M.’s run of Chronic Town E.P (1982), Murmur (1983), Reckoning (1984), Fables of the Reconstruction (1985),  Lifes Rich Pageant (1986), Document (1987), and Green (1988) remains one of the great opening strings of any band (and, hey, some people think their early 90s albums are good too).


13

Artist: Björk
Title : Homogenic
Year: 1997
Favorite Tracks:

  • Hunter
  • Joga
  • Bachelorette
  • 5 Years
  • All is Full of Love

The First Time I Heard This Album …: late 90s

Thoughts: Björk’s third album is the peak of her most accessible period despite it being undoubtedly strange art rock made danceable with electronic sounds.

Bonus Sounds: My favorite Björk albums are her 90s releases Debut (1993), Post (1995), and Homogenic (1997), but she continues to make extremely creative and artistic music including this year’s Fossora.


12

Artist: Prince and The Revolution
Title: Purple Rain
Year:  1984
Favorite Tracks:

  • Let’s Go Crazy
  • Computer Blue
  • When Doves Cry
  • I Would Die 4 U
  • Purple Rain

The First Time I Heard This Album …: 1984

Thoughts: Prince rose to be the biggest thing in the world with a hit movie and a hit soundtrack that contains some his most memorable songs.  I remember listening to this as a kid and being creeped out by the backmasking on “Darling Nikki.”  But a lot of the rest of the album was a lot of fun and these songs remain my soundtrack of the Summer of 1984.

Bonus Sounds: OK, I’m going to make the announcement here, because there is so much of Prince’s music I haven’t even heard: in 2023 I plan to listen to every album Prince and his various band’s and projects ever released.  Watch this space for the full reviews.


11

Artist: Fishbone
Title: Truth and Soul
Year: 1988
Favorite Tracks:

  • Freddie’s Dead
  • Ma & Pa
  • Deep Inside
  • Bonin’ in the Boneyard
  • One Day
  • Subliminal Fascism
  • Ghetto Soundwave
  • Change

The First Time I Heard This Album …: 1991

Thoughts: This ska/funk/hardcore/et al band performed at the first “real” concert I ever attended in 1991. This album is the strongest and most cohesive album Fishbone ever released. It mixes a strong social message with a fun party vibe.

Bonus Sounds: Fishbone (1985), In Your Face (1986), and The Reality of My Surroundings (1991)  are all great.  After that, they got a bit too weird.

Album of the Week: Revolver (Super Deluxe) by The Beatles


Album: Revolver (Super Deluxe)
Artist: The Beatles
Release Date: August 05, 1966, Super Deluxe release: October 28, 2022
Label: Calderstone Productions Limited
Favorite Tracks:

  • Eleanor Rigby
  • I’m Only Sleeping
  • Yellow Submarine
  • Good Day Sunshine
  • And Your Bird Can Sing
  • I’ve Got to Get You Into My Life
  • Tomorrow Never Knows
  • Paperback Writer
  • Rain

Thoughts:

A few years back I reviewed the Super Deluxe re-release of The Beatles’ “White Album” so I figured I’d do the same for Revolver.  This is, in fact, my favorite Beatles album and we’ll be seeing in it in my All Time Favorite Albums countdown in a couple of weeks. Revolver is well-known as the transitional album for The Beatles from the lovable moptops of Beatlemania to a studio-oriented art rock group.  The new instruments, studio experimentation, and influence of psychedelic drugs and philosophy are all well documented, so I won’t get into that here. It’s a bit mind-boggling that the Beatles were on their final U.S. tour when this was released, including their final show in San Francisco, but were performing songs from 2-3 years earlier because Revolver could just not be played lived with the technology og the time.

Here are some reflections  and personal memories on the songs:

  • “Taxman” – probably the one song on the album I don’t love because it’s rich people whining about having to pay their share to society, and thus The Beatles’ most conservative song.  It’s got a great groove though, so it’s easy to ignore the lyrics.
  • “Eleanor Rigby” – when I was a kid my family had the “Eleanor Rigby/Yellow Submarine” 45 and I used to listen to it a lot!  The song about lonely people was always very poignant, even as a kid.
  • “I’m Only Sleeping” – Kind of a theme song for me as I, like John Lennon, enjoy spending time in bed.
  • “Yellow Submarine” – even before listening to the single, I remember the neighbors putting this on their old stereo system and all the kids dancing around.  Kind of perfect that it was already a classic children’s song a decade after it was released.
  • “She Said She Said” – kind of weird that this song is inspired by Peter Fonda being obnoxious at a party.  Can’t imagine what young Beatles fans who’d never used drugs thought of this one in 1966.
  • “Good Day Sunshine”  – my sister made a short documentary about newspaper hawkers in Boston when she was in grad school and used this as the theme song.
  • “And Your Bird Can Sing” – kind of the perfect power pop tune, and ideologically opposite to “Taxman.”
  • “I Want To Tell You” is a great George tune that fits in the style of “Paperback Writer” and the Monkee’s “Last Train to Clarksville”
  • “Got To Get You Into My Life” – I’ve always loved this song and when I was a kid I didn’t even know it was a Beatles song because it was played on the radio all the time.  Later I learned that it was released as a single in the US in 1976 and somehow fit in perfectly with 70s soul.
  • “Tomorrow Never Knows” – I remember this being discussed in the documentary The Compleat Beatles and thinking it was so weird and wonderful and just needing to hear the whole song.  Only this year I learned that the “seagull” sounds are actually recordings of Paul McCartney laughing that were speed up and played backwards.

In addition to a remastered version of Revolver, that sounds excellent, the Super Deluxe edition includes two albums of demos and outtakes from all of the songs, the complete album in mono, and the “Paperback Writer”/”Rain” single remastered in stereo and mono.  It’s all good!

 

Rating: *****

Album of the Week:  2022

January

February

March

April

May

July

August

September

October

November

Album of the Week: KALAK by Sarathy Korwar


Album: KALAK
Artist: Sarathy Korwar
Release Date: 11/11/2022
Label: The Leaf Label
Favorite Tracks:

  • Utopia is a Colonial Project
  • Back in the Day, Things Were Not Always Simpler
  • Kal Means Yesterday and Tomorrow
  • Remember Begum Rokheya
  • That Clocks Don’t Tell But Make Time

Thoughts:

Sarathy Korwar is a US-born, Indian-raised, London-based musical artists who fuses jazz and Indian classical music with electronic sounds to create unique sound.  Electronic artist Photay produced the album and adds to its atmospheric sound.  While most of the tracks are instrumental, with some spoken-word sections, the music revolves around themes of time, memory, and identity in a post-colonial context. The music is challenging yet meditative.

Rating: ****

Favorite Albums of All Time: 30-21


Having listened to every album on the Rolling Stone list of 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, I’m making my own list.  This list will be only 250 albums, although I had to make some tough cuts.  The list includes a mix of works of musical genius with the pure nostalgia of some albums I’ve loved throughout my life.  As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts about these albums and what your favorite albums are. I will continue the countdown every other Wednesday throughout 2022.

250-241 200-191 150-141 100-91 50-41
240-231 190-181 140-131 90-81 40-31
230-221 180-171 130-121 80-71
220-211 170-161 120-111 70-61
210-201 160-151 110-101 60-51

30

Artist: Amy Winehouse
Title: Back to Black
Year: 2006
Favorite Tracks:

  • Rehab
  • You Know I’m No Good
  • Just Friends
  • Back To Black
  • Tears Dry on Their Own

The First Time I Heard This Album …: 2006 or 2007

Thoughts: It’s a shame that tabloid headlines and her early death overshadow Amy Winehouse’s massive talent.  She was the cornerstone of a soul revival in the Oughts along with the likes of Adele, Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, and Joss Stone and this album is a testament to that era.

Bonus Sounds:  The documentary Amy leans toward exploitative but contains footage of Winehouse developing her talent as well as how she was destroyed by the celebrity media complex.  It also includes the sweetest scene of her spending time with her idol Tony Bennet.


29

Artist: Harry Belafonte
Title: Belafonte at Carnegie Hall 
Year: 1959
Favorite Tracks:

  • Cotton Fields
  • John Henry
  • The Marching Saints
  • Day-O (The Banana Boat Song)
  • Jamaica Farewell
  • Mama Look a Boo Boo
  • Hava Nageela
  • Cu Cu Ru Cu Cu Paloma
  • Shennandoah
  • Matilda

The First Time I Heard This Album …: late 1980s

Thoughts: When I was growing up we had a collection of LPs and 45s from various relatives, and one treasure of my late Aunt Barbara was the Harry Belafonte collection.  This concert performance recorded in April 1959 features Belafonte’s interpretations of African American songs, Carribean calypso, and traditional folk tunes from around the world.

Bonus Sounds: The blockbuster Calypso (1956) was the first LP to sell over a million copies and kicked off a global calypso craze.  Not bad for someone who took up singing as a side gig when he couldn’t get acting parts.


28

Artist: Sigur Rós 
Title: Ágætis byrjun
Year: 1999
Favorite Tracks:

  • Svefn-g-englar
  • Starálfur
  • Ný batterí
  • Hjartað hamast (bamm bamm bamm)
  • Olsen Olsen

The First Time I Heard This Album …: circa 2005

Thoughts: The first album I ever heard by Sigur Rós remains the best.  The sweeping orchestral arrangements are cinematic in scope.  While I don’t understand the lyrics, many of which are in a language made up by Sigur Rós frontman Jonsi called Hopelandic, they still speak to me.  The title track is extra special since it was playing in the delivery room when my younger child was born and means “A Good Beginning.”

Bonus Sounds: I have a Music Discovery on Sigur Rós’ albums through 2016 and highly recommend their concert film Heima.


27

Artist: Janelle Monáe
Title: Dirty Computer
Year:  2018
Favorite Tracks:

  • Crazy, Classic, Life
  • Django Jane
  • Pynk
  • Make Me Feel
  • I Got the Juice
  • So Afraid
  • Americans

The First Time I Heard This Album …: 2018

Thoughts: Monáe’s masterpiece, so far, hit big in 2018 and is surprisingly only her third full-length album.  It’s Monáe’s most personal album and challenges the fears of our troubled times while celebrating women, Blackness, sexuality, gender identity, and even American identity.

Bonus Sounds: I wrote my very first Music Discovery about Janelle Monáe as well as a concert review from the Dirty Computer tour.


26

Artist: The Specials 
Title: The Specials
Year: 1980
Favorite Tracks:

  • Gangsters
  • A Message To You, Rudy
  • Nite Klub
  • Concrete Jungle
  • Too Much Too Young
  • Little Bitch

The First Time I Heard This Album …: early 90s

Thoughts: The debut album from the Two Tone ska band The Specials contains many of the band’s greatest songs and established the new genre of U.K. Ska.

Bonus Sounds: The band’s follow-up album More Specials (1980) took a strange turn into “Muzak” inspired music but is still interesting, while their more recent reunion album Encore (2019) is also pretty good.


25

Artist: The Rolling Stones
Title: Beggars Banquet
Year: 1968
Favorite Tracks:

  • Sympathy For the Devil
  • No Expectations
  • Parachute Woman
  • Street Fighting Man
  • Prodigal Son
  • Stray Cat Blues
  • Factory Girl
  • Salt of the Earth

The First Time I Heard This Album …: late 80s

Thoughts: The Rolling Stones were always best as a Blues band, and their best album sees them embracing roots music to create a rock & roll classic. While the Stones have never been an overtly political band, a lot of the songs on this album come from the perspective of working class people, which also makes it interesting.

Bonus Sounds: This is the third Stones’ album on my list so I’ll just reiterate that Out of Our Heads (1965), Aftermath (1966), Let It Bleed (1969), Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out! (1970), Sticky Fingers (1971),  Exile on Main St. (1972), and Blue & Lonesome (2016) are all worth a listen


24

Artist: Stevie Wonder
Title: Talking Book 
Year: 1972
Favorite Tracks:

  • You Are the Sunshine of My Life
  • Superstition
  • Big Brother
  • Lookin’ For Another Pure Love
  • I Believe (When I Fall in Love It Will Be Forever)

The First Time I Heard This Album …: Late 80s

Thoughts: This album has a timeless quality, it sounds like it could’ve been released this year. It must’ve been revelatory when people first heard it in 1972. Wonder experiments with numerous keyboards, synthesizers, and drums, continuing as a one-man band on many tracks, but also has numerous guest artists including Jim Gilstrap, Lani Groves, David Sandborn, Deniece Williams, Ray Parker, Jr., and Jeff Beck. Also, “Superstition” is one of the all-time great songs. It never fails to amaze me.

Bonus Sounds: This is the fourth of four Stevie Wonder albums on this list, more than any other artist, so you know you can grab any Stevie Wonder album from the 60s or 70s and you can’t go wrong!


23

Artist: Talking Heads
Title: Remain in Light
Year: 1980
Favorite Tracks:

  • Crosseyed and Painless
  • The Great Curve
  • Once in a Lifetime
  • Houses in Motion
  • Listening Wind

The First Time I Heard This Album …: Late 80s

Thoughts: Talking Heads incorporated Afrobeat sounds into their New Wave and art rock creating one of the seminal albums of the 1980s (as well as one of the defining music videos of the early MTV era).

Bonus Sounds: Beninese superstar Angélique Kidjo created an excellent cover of this entire album!


22

Artist: Dave Carter and Tracy Grammer
Title: Tanglewood Tree
Year: 2000
Favorite Tracks:

  • Happytown (All Right With Me)
  • Tanglewood Tree
  • The Mountain
  • Hey Conductor
  • Crocodile Man
  • Cat-Eye Willie Claims His Lover
  • Cowboy Singer

The First Time I Heard This Album …: 2000

Thoughts: When I ranked my favorite albums of all time in 2009, this was the number one album! It may seem like a demotion but really any of my top 25 could be number one and I have to rank them somehow.  The late Dave Carter wrote the mystical lyrics on this album while their partner Tracy Grammer provides harmony and fiddle.

Bonus Sounds: Two of the three albums released by Dave Carter and Tracy Grammer before Carter’s death made my Top 250, but the duo’s final album Drum Hat Buddha is also excellent.


21

Artist: Johnny Clegg & Savuka
Title: Cruel, Crazy, Beautiful World
Year:  1989
Favorite Tracks:

  • One (Hu)’ Man One Vote
  • Cruel, Crazy, Beautiful World
  • Jericho
  • Dela (I Know Why the Dog Howls at the Moon)
  • It’s An Illusion
  • Woman Be My Country
  • Warsaw 1941

The First Time I Heard This Album …: 1990

Thoughts:  They say the best music ever is what you were listening to when you were 17.  When I was 17, I was lucky enough to be listening to Johnny Clegg & Savuka.  The racially integrated band formed in South Africa during Apartheid and the music blended Western and African sounds with many lyrics in Zulu.  The album is politically charged yet hopeful.

Bonus Sounds: Before Savuka, there was Juluka, a band formed by Johnny Clegg and Sipho Mchunu that was one of the first multi-racial acts under apartheid and released several albums between 1979 and 1984.  I’m also fond of the 1993 Johnny Clegg and Savuka album Heat, Dust and Dreams which reflects on the exciting times after the release of Nelson Mandela and end of apartheid.


Album of the Week: Endure by Special Interest


Album: Endure
Artist: Special Interest
Release Date: November 4, 2022
Label: Rough Trade Records Ltd.
Favorite Tracks:

  • Cherry Blue Intention
  • (Herman’s) House
  • Foul
  • Concerning Peace
  • L.A. Blues

Thoughts: The world needs more dance punk and that is what Special Interest provides.  Imagine Riot Grrrl crossed with 90s house music and you begin to get the idea.  The New Orleans band doesn’t overlook our troubled times but they do provide a release.

Rating: ****

 

 


Album of the Week:  2022

January

February

March

April

May

July

August

September

October

November

  • A New Kind of Love by Ghost Funk Orchestra

Album of the Week: A New Kind of Love by Ghost Funk Orchestra


Album: A New Kind of Love
Artist: Ghost Funk Orchestra
Release Date: October 28, 2022
Label: Karma Chief Records
Favorite Tracks:

  • Your Man’s No Good
  • Scatter
  • A New Kind of Love (pt. 1)
  • Blockhead

Thoughts:
Ghost Funk is just … ectoplasm, right?

I feel so funky.

Ok, Ghost Funk Orchestra is ten-piece outfit lead by Seth Applebaum that play a 1970s jazz/funk fusion style that sounds the score of films never made.  The improvisational feel makes it more than just a retro project, though. The music is also reminiscent (deliberately) of Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings and Antibalas.

Rating: ****

Album of the Week:  2022

January

February

March

April

May

July

August

September

October

Favorite Albums of All Time: 40-31


Having listened to every album on the Rolling Stone list of 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, I’m making my own list.  This list will be only 250 albums, although I had to make some tough cuts.  The list includes a mix of works of musical genius with the pure nostalgia of some albums I’ve loved throughout my life.  As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts about these albums and what your favorite albums are. I will continue the countdown every other Wednesday throughout 2022.

250-241 200-191 150-141 100-91 50-41
240-231 190-181 140-131 90-81
230-221 180-171 130-121 80-71
220-211 170-161 120-111 70-61
210-201 160-151 110-101 60-51

40

Artist: John Coltrane
Title: A Love Supreme
Year:  1964
Favorite Tracks: It’s all one suite.

The First Time I Heard This Album …: early 90s

Thoughts: As a musical suite and an expression of spirituality, A Love Supreme comes as close to perfection as humanly possible.

Bonus Sounds: I’ve enjoyed many of Coltrane’s recordings, including Blue Train (1958), Giant Steps (1960), My Favorite Things (1961) and Duke Ellington & John Coltrane (1963).


39

Artist: The Dismemberment Plan 
Title: Emergency & I
Year: 1999
Favorite Tracks:

  • What Do You Want Me to Say?
  • Spider in the Snow
  • You Are Invited
  • Girl O’Clock

The First Time I Heard This Album …: circa 2003

Thoughts: I found out about The Dismemberment Plan because I knew guitarist and lead vocalist Travis Morrison in college.  Basically I was wondering whatever happened to him and found out, hey, he’s in this legendary Washington indie rock band I’ve never heard of before.  Turns out, they were really good!

Bonus Sounds: I saw The Dismemberment Plan in concert when they reunited in 2013.


38

Artist: Sinéad O’Connor
Title: I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got
Year: 1990
Favorite Tracks:

  • I Am Stretched on Your Grave
  • Three Babies
  • The Emperor’s New Clothes
  • Black Boys on Mopeds
  • Nothing Compares 2 U
  • The Last Day of Our Acquaintance

The First Time I Heard This Album …: 1990

Thoughts: Despite her shaved head and radical for Reagan/Bush America opinions, Sinéad O’Connor managed to become a star loved by the cool alternative kids and their Boomer parents (especially if those parents were Irish-American). O’Connor’s dynamic voice powers an eclectic mix of song styles on her most famous album.

Bonus Sounds: I’m also fond of O’Connor’s debut album The Lion and the Cobra (1987).


37

Artist: Prince and the Revolution
Title: 1999
Year: 1982
Favorite Tracks:

  • 1999
  • Little Red Corvette
  • Delirious
  • D.M.S.R.
  • Free
  • All the Critics Love U in New York
  • International Lover

The First Time I Heard This Album …: mid-80s

Thoughts: Prince and the Revolution exploded onto the scene with this album in 1982. I still remember hearing Prince’s “Little Red Corvette” for the first time on Casey Kasem’s “America’s Top 40.” Prince was probably too raunchy for me, and while three singles got a lot of airplay the rest of this album was and probably is to sexy for radio. It remains an amazing collection by an artist at the top of his game.

Bonus Sounds: There’s one more album from Prince and the Revolution to come, but the late, great Prince Rogers Nelson is responsible for so much great music that you could start with just about anything and hear something amazing.


36

Artist: Robert Johnson
Title: The Complete Recordings
Year: 1936-1937/1990
Favorite Tracks:

  • Sweet Home Chicago
  • When You Got a Good Friend
  • Come On in My Kitchen
  • 32-20 Blues
  • They’re Red Hot
  • Cross Road Blues
  • Walkin’ Blues
  • Last Fair Deal Gone Down
  • From Four Until Late
  • Traveling Riverside Blues
  • Love in Vain

The First Time I Heard This Album …: 1990

Thoughts: Disabuse yourself of the myths.  Robert Johnson did not sell his soul to the devil at the crossroads.  Blues men accompanying themselves on guitar were not the standard in the 1920s-40s (in fact women singing with bands were the Blues hitmakers).  Rock & roll did not evolve from Robert Johnson, but he was adopted by British R&B enthusiasts after his music was re-released in the 1960s.  The truth is, Robert Johnson was a talented guitarist who recorded a couple of dozen songs in the mid-30s and the sound of those tunes reverberates through the ages.

Bonus Sounds: This album collects all of Johnson’s known recordings, but had he lived longer he would have participated in the series of Carnegie Hall concerts of 1938-1939 known as From Spirituals to Swing.


35

Artist: Charles Mingus
Title: Mingus Ah Um 
Year: 1959
Favorite Tracks:

  • Better Git It in Your Soul
  • Goodbye Pork Pie Hat
  • Boogie Stop Shuffle
  • Fables of Faubus

The First Time I Heard This Album …: early 1990s

Thoughts: I can’t remember who introduced me to Charles Mingus’ work, but I started listening to his music in my college years and it really changed my understanding of what jazz could be. This album draws inspiration from Duke Ellington while incorporating the bop styles of the 1950s (or the “modern jazz”) that Chuck Berry has no kick about). Mingus and his band play the tunes fast and slow and it’s all inspired and gets in your soul

Bonus Sounds: You probably can’t go wrong with Mingus, but I’ve enjoyed The Clown (1957) and Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus (1964).


34

Artist: Camera Obscura
Title: Let’s Get Out of this Country
Year:  2006
Favorite Tracks:

  • Lloyd, I’m Ready to Be Heartbroken
  • Tears for Affairs
  • Let’s Get Out of This Country
  • Country Mile
  • I Need All the Friends I Can Get
  • Razzle Dazzle Rose

The First Time I Heard This Album …: 2006

Thoughts: Scottish band Camera Obscura emerged from the twee pop scene of the Oughts.  The sweet voice of Tracyanne Campbell floats above a bed of sonically-dense baroque pop.  It’s exquisite.

Bonus Sounds: Campbell continues to record in the duo Tracyanne & Danny.


33

Artist: Tom Waits
Title: Rain Dogs
Year: 1985
Favorite Tracks:

  • Clap Hands
  • Jockey Full of Bourbon
  • Hang Down Your Head
  • Time
  • Downtown Train
  • Anywhere I Lay My Head

The First Time I Heard This Album …: 199-something

Thoughts: Waits’ most famous album has his voice in a fully-developed growl over hallucinogenic carnival music.  One of the great albums of the 1980s.

Bonus Sounds: I have a particular fondness for the amusicality of Tom Waits and Keith Richards singing the standard “Shenandoah.”


32

Artist: The Breeders
Title Last Splash
Year: 1993
Favorite Tracks:

  • Cannonball
  • Roi
  • I Just Wanna Get Along
  • Divine Hammer
  • Saints
  • Drivin’ on 9

The First Time I Heard This Album …: 1993

Thoughts: The Breeders originally was a side project for Pixies’ bassist Kim Deal, but this album became omnipresent in 1993.  One could not walk through a dormitory on my college campus without hearing “Cannonball” playing from someone’s stereo.

Bonus Sounds: The Breeders have made some great music from their debut album Pod (1990) to their most recent release All Nerve (2018), which reunited the same lineup that made Last Splash.


31

Artist: Mission of Burma
Title: Vs
Year: 1982
Favorite Tracks:

  • Secrets
  • New Nails
  • Dead Pool
  • Learn How
  • Einstein’s Day
  • That’s How I Escaped My Certain Fate
  • Progress

The First Time I Heard This Album …: 2004

Thoughts: The Boston post-punk band released just one full-length studio album in the 1980s but it is a practically perfect one.

Bonus Sounds: Mission of Burma’s debut release Signals, Calls, and Marches (1981) was a terrific 20 minutes of post-punk brilliance.  It has grown longer in re-releases with added tracks that pretty much have promoted it from an EP to an LP.


 

Album of the Week: Dirt Femme by Tove Lo


Album: Dirt Femme
Artist: Tove Lo
Release Date: 14 October 2022
Label: Pretty Swede Records
Favorite Tracks:

  • No One Dies From Love
  • Suburbia
  • True Romance
  • Call On Me (with S.G. Lewis)
  • I’m To Blame

Thoughts:

Swedish singer/songwriter Tove Lo performs an exuberant dance pop with a dark edge reminiscent of Dua Lipa and fellow Swede Robyn.  It’s got some great tracks for getting down on the dance floor, but you might find yourself pausing if you take the time to listen to her confessional lyrics.

Rating: ***

 

Album of the Week:  2022

January

February

March

April

May

July

August

September

October

Favorite Albums of All Time: 50-41


Having listened to every album on the Rolling Stone list of 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, I’m making my own list.  This list will be only 250 albums, although I had to make some tough cuts.  The list includes a mix of works of musical genius with the pure nostalgia of some albums I’ve loved throughout my life.  As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts about these albums and what your favorite albums are. I will continue the countdown every other Wednesday throughout 2022.

250-241 200-191 150-141 100-91
240-231 190-181 140-131 90-81
230-221 180-171 130-121 80-71
220-211 170-161 120-111 70-61
210-201 160-151 110-101 60-51

50

ArtistThe Revels
Title:The Christmas Revels: Celebrating 50 Years! 
Year: 2020
Favorite Tracks:

  • Masters in This Hall
  • Esa Noche Yo Baila
  • Les cloches du hameau
  • Hanerot Halalu
  • Traveler’s Prayer
  • What You Gonna Call That Pretty Little Baby
  • Lord of the Dance
  • Les veuves de la coulee
  • Shadrach
  • Pretty Home
  • I Will Bow and Be Simple
  • Dona Nobis Pacem
  • Children, Go Where I Send Thee
  • In Dulci Jubilo
  • The Sussex Mummer’s Carol

The First Time I Heard This Album …: 2020

Thoughts: The Revels celebrates the midwinter solstice every year with performances at Sanders Theater in Cambridge, Massachusetts  as well as various spring and summer productions and other Revels communities in at least 8 other cities.  There are at least 26 Revels recordings, and I love them all, but this is a good starter album with live recordings from the first 50 years of Revels

Bonus Sounds: A little self-promotion here, because I’m on The Christmas Revels: Music from the George and Dragon Inn recorded at Sanders Theatre in 2021 (although you’ll have to pick my voice out from the chorus).


49

Artist: My Bloody Valentine
Title:Loveless 
Year: 1991
Favorite Tracks:

  • Only Shallow
  • When You Sleep
  • Sometimes
  • What You Want

The First Time I Heard This Album …: mid-2000s?

Thoughts: I came to My Bloody Valentine late, although in my defense this was still their most recent album at the time I first came to it. The Dublin-based act pioneered the shoegaze genre and wowed the world with this nearly perfect album.

Bonus Sounds: My Bloody Valentine’s other two albums – Isn’t Anything (1988) and m b v (2013) – are worth checking out.


48

Artist: David Bowie
Title: Hunky Dory
Year: 1971
Favorite Tracks:

  • Changes
  • Oh! You Pretty Things
  • Life on Mars?
  • Song for Bob Dylan
  • Queen Bitch

The First Time I Heard This Album …: October 2016

Thoughts: The album where Bowie defined his classic style contains tributes to Andy Warhol and Bob Dylan, as well as references to literature, occultism

Bonus Sounds: Sophia Anne Caruso’s cover of “Life On Mars?” from the David Bowie musical Lazarus is just, wow!


47

Artist: Sly & the Family Stone
Title: Stand!
Year: 1969
Favorite Tracks:

  • Stand!
  • I Want to Take You Higher
  • Sing A Simple Song
  • Everyday People
  • Sex Machine

The First Time I Heard This Album …: mid-90s?

Thoughts: The groundbreaking band featured an interracial lineup of men & women playing instruments and singing. Released before the summer of 1969 when the band played both the Harlem Cultural Festival and Woodstock, this album contains many of the band’s most memorable tracks.

Bonus Sounds: I typically wouldn’t recommend compilation albums, but Greatest Hits (1970) is a necessity because it contains the non-album singles “Hot Fun in the Summertime”, “Everybody Is a Star”, and “Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin).”


46

Artist: U2
Title: Achtung Baby
Year: 1991
Favorite Tracks: All of them!

The First Time I Heard This Album …: November 1991 when someone in my dorm was playing it loudly

Thoughts: It’s unusual for a band to completely reinvent themselves especially when they were already on top of the world.  But that’s what U2 did in 1991 when they traded in their earnest, political post-punk sound for more introspective songs in an electronic/industrial style.  This was the album that really won me over to U2.

Bonus Sounds: Two years prior to Achtung Baby, U2 released the part live/part studio album Rattle and Hum that included the soulful “Angel of Harlem” and the blues number with B.B. King “When Love Came To Town.”  A completely different sound from what U2 would make next but still two of my favorite songs of theirs.


45

Artist: Ramones
Title: Ramones 
Year: 1976
Favorite Tracks:

  • Blitzkrieg Bop
  • Beat on the Brat
  • I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend
  • Now I Want To Sniff Some Glue
  • 53rd and 3rd
  • Today Your Love, Tomorrow the World

The First Time I Heard This Album …: late 80s?

Thoughts: The Ramones debut album is 14 tracks of pure raging pop music in 30 minutes! Imagine great rock and roll that’s also considerate of your time.

Bonus Sounds: The band’s later albums were not as perfect as Ramones and Rocket to Russia (1977) but the Ramones continued to churn out great singles with “I Wanna Be Sedated” (1978), “Rock ‘n’ Roll High School” (1979), “Howling at the Moon (Sha-La-La)” (1984), and “Bonzo Goes to Bitburg” (1985) among my favorites


44

Artist: Kate Bush
TitleHounds of Love
Year: 1985
Favorite Tracks:

  • Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God)
  • Hounds of Love
  • The Big Sky
  • Cloudbusting
  • Waking the Witch
  • Jig of Life

The First Time I Heard This Album …: 1995

Thoughts: Kate Bush’s masterpiece contains some of her most accessible music to date while still being highly experimental.  It was a huge hit in her native UK and beloved among the USA’s cool, alternative kids.  And now it has a Generation Z fandom thanks to some kids fighting monsters in Indiana.

Bonus Sounds: Want more Kate Bush?  Check out my Music Discovery!


43

Artist: Lizzo
Title: Cuz I Love You
Year: 2019
Favorite Tracks:

  • Cuz I Love You
  • Like A Girl
  • Juice
  • Tempo (feat. Missy Elliot)
  • Exactly How I Feel (feat. Gucci Mane)

The First Time I Heard This Album …: 2019

Thoughts: I’ve been greatly pleased by the whole Lizzo phenomenon of the past few years.  Lizzo has defined “bad bitch” as someone who exudes positivity, acceptance, and radical self-love.  Sounds really nice actually.  Cuz I Love You was Lizzo’s breakout LP and it’s just full of bangers

Bonus Sounds: Lizzo’s most recent album Special is pretty great too.


42

Artist: Moxy Früvous
Title: Live Noise 
Year: 1998
Favorite Tracks:

  • Michigan Militia
  • King of Spain
  • Johnny Saucep’n
  • My Baby Loves a Bunch of Authors
  • Video Bargainville
  • Psycho Killer
  • The Drinking Song

The First Time I Heard This Album …: 1998

Thoughts: Moxy Früvous got their start busking on the streets of Toronto and their interaction with the audience, humorous stories, and improvisation never translated well to their studio recordings.  This live album demonstrates why the band had a devoted following among both folkies and the nerd culture in the 90s and early 2000s.

Bonus Sounds: That being said, Moxy Früvous did release a lot of quality music on their studio albums, especially Wood (1995) and You Will Go To The Moon (1997).


41

Artist: The Weakerthans
Title: Reconstruction Site
Year: 2003
Favorite Tracks:

  • (Manifest)
  • The Reasons
  • Reconstruction Site
  • Psalm for the Elks Lodge Last Call
  • Plea From a Cat Named Virtute
  • Our Retired Explorer (Dines with Michel Foucault in Paris, 1961)
  • One Great City!

The First Time I Heard This Album …: 2003

Thoughts: My brother-in-law sent us this album as a gift from Canada and I remember my wife putting this album on one sunny Saturday morning.  As soon as I heard a song from the point of view of a housecat, I was enamored.  The Winnipeg band has a quirky, humorous approach to songwriting with a straightforward folky delivery that puts them somewhere between They Might Be Giants and The Mountain Goats.

Bonus Sounds: The Weakerthans went “on hiatus” in 2014 but band leader John K. Samson continues to record solo work including 2016’s Winter Wheat.