Favorite Albums of All Time: 130-121


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
240-231 190-181 140-131
230-221 180-171
220-211 170-161
210-201 160-151

130

Artist: Various Artists
Title: O Brother Where Art Thou?
Year: 2000
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Down to the River to Pray” – Alison Krauss
  • “I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow” – The Soggy Bottom Boys
  • “Hard Time Killing Floor Blues” – Chris Thomas King
  • “I’ll Fly Away” – Alison Krauss, Gillian Welch
  • “Didn’t Leave Nobody but the Baby” – Emmylou Harris, Alison Krauss, Gillian Welch
  • “O Death” – Ralph Stanley
  • “Lonesome Valley” – The Fairfield Four
  • “Angel Band” – The Stanley Brothers

The First Time I Heard This Album …: Right after I saw the movie in 2000

Thoughts: Pretty much every genre of American popular music saw it’s origins in the South.  O Brother Where Thou?, the Cohen Brothers pastiche to the mythology of the South, appropriately features a soundtrack of bluegrass, country, gospel, blues, and Southern folk music tunes mainly performed by modern day artists. The soundtrack became a phenomenon in its own right with tours and live concert recordings and big boosts to the careers of all involved (and some who sounded like them).

Bonus Sounds: A few years before O Brother, Where Art Thou?, Smithsonian Folkways issued the compilations Crossroads: Southern Routes, an excellent primer in the variety of music from the South.


129

Artist: Various Artists
Title: Wattstax: Highlights from the Soundtrack
Year:  2004
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get” by The Dramatics
  • “Oh La De Da” by The Staples Singers
  • “Lift Every Voice and Sing” by Kim Weston
  • “Respect Yourself” by The Staples Singers
  • “Walking the Back Streets and Crying” by Little Milton
  • “Pick Up the Pieces” by Carla Thomas
  • “If Loving You Is Wrong, I Don’t Want to Be Right” by Luther Ingram
  • “Theme from Shaft” by Isaac Hayes

The First Time I Heard This Album …: 2007, after watching the movie

Thoughts:

The soundtrack to the movie made of the music festival held at Los Angeles Coliseum in 1972 as a benefit for the African-American Watts community seven years after riots devastated that neighborhood.  The recording features performances by some of the great soul, gospel, R&B, blues, funk, and jazz artists of the time.  The concert was organized by Stax Records, hence the name Wattstax (which is a play on Woodstock, of course).

Bonus Sounds: So, something I embarrassingly didn’t know is that soundtrack recording called Wattstax: The Living Word was released in 1973.  It features a lot of performances that don’t appear in the movie while omitting some songs that appear in the movie.  Up to now I’d only been familiar with the 2004 release which more strictly corresponds to the movie.  Anyhow, they’re both great and complement one another.


128

Artist: Vinal Avenue String Band
Title: Live at Tir na nÓg 
Year: 1999
Favorite Tracks:

  • Front Porch Song
  • Tear Stained Eye
  • Place for Me in Heaven
  • Tear My Stillhouse Down
  • Tír na nÓg
  • Lighthouse Light
  • Stupid Motherfucker

The First Time I Heard This Album …: 2000

Thoughts: This is a personal album for me in many ways.  Tír na nÓg was a pub in Somerville’s Union Square.  The Vinal Avenue String Band was a group I saw perform their multiple times (on Monday nights!) in my early years living in Somerville.  The trio was made up of Boston folk luminaries Sean Staples, Kris Delmhorst, and Ry Cavanaugh.  The owners of Tír na nÓg eventually decided to foolishly sacrifice the bar on the opposition to state restrictions on smoking.  The Vinal Avenue String Band is no more.  But this fantastic recording of a band in a bar remains!

Bonus Sounds: Ry Cavanaugh made another great album with his wife Jennifer Kimball in their band Maybe Baby who released an eponymous album in 2003.


127

Artist: Milla
Title: The Divine Comedy 
Year: 1994
Favorite Tracks:

  • Gentleman Who Fell
  • It’s Your Life
  • Bang Your Head
  • Don’t Fade Away
  • You Did It All Before

The First Time I Heard This Album …: Late 90s, I think?

Thoughts: The stereotype has it that an album of songs that a model/actress wrote as a teenager would be self-indulgent and bad.  But Milla Jovovich created a fantastic collection of folk rock/pop tunes with deeply introspective lyrics.

Bonus Sounds: Jovovich has contributed music to film soundtracks but not released another album focusing mostly on acting.


126

By The cover art can be obtained from Nettwerk., Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=14946081

Artist: The Be Good Tanyas
Title: Blue Horse
Year: 2000
Favorite Tracks:

  • The Littlest Birds
  • Rain and Snow
  • Lake of Pontchartrain
  • Only In The Past
  • Up Against the Wall

The First Time I Heard This Album …: 2001, not long after its release in the U.S.

Thoughts: The Canadian trio plays traditional folk/bluegrass instruments and creates beautiful harmonies on folk standards and originals.

Bonus Sounds: The band’s follow-up album, Chinatown (2003), is also quite good.


125

Artist:A Tribe Called Quest
Title: The Low End Theory
Year:1991
Favorite Tracks:

  • Verses from the Abstract
  • Show Business
  • Vibes and Stuff
  • Check the Rime
  • Jazz (We Got)
  • Scenario

The First Time I Heard This Album …: azz was the first widespread African American popular music but by the end of the 20th century it had been elevated to art music.  A Tribe Called Quest used hip hop, the newest African American popular music, to revive jazz.  I remember this album being big when I was in my first year at college and I’m kicking myself for not getting my own copy, but albums were expensive, and I made some poor choices regarding which ones to acquire or not., last year…

Thoughts: Jazz was the first widespread African American popular music but by the end of the 20th century it had been elevated to art music.  A Tribe Called Quest used hip hop, the newest African American popular music, to revive jazz.  I remember this album being big when I was in my first year at college and I’m kicking myself for not getting my own copy, but albums were expensive, and I made some poor choices regarding which ones to acquire or not.

Bonus Sounds: Midnight Marauders is also excellent!


124

By Derived from a scan of the album cover (creator of this digital version is irrelevant as the copyright in all equivalent images is still held by the same party). Copyright held by the record company or the artist. Claimed as fair use regardless., <a href="//en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Led_Zeppelin_-_Physical_Graffiti.jpg" title="Fair use of copyrighted material in the context of Physical Graffiti">Fair use</a>, <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=194760">Link</a>

Artist: Led Zeppelin
Title: Physical Graffiti
Year:  1975
Favorite Tracks:

  • In My Time of Dying
  • Houses of the Holy
  • Kashmir
  • Bron-Yr-Aur
  • Down by the Seaside
  • Boogie with Stu
  • Black Country Woman

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

Thoughts: Led Zeppelin’s double album – 8 newly created songs with some unreleased tracks leftover from earlier albums – is a box of chocolates full of treats. The album includes a lot more of the band’s acoustic and British folk sound in addition to (and entwined with) their bluesy hard rock.

Bonus Sounds: Back in the day I was so enamored with Classic Rock that I even got an album by perhaps the most inspired tribute band of all time, Dread Zeppelin.  The band performed reggae covers of Led Zeppelin tracks lead by an Elvis impersonator.


123

Artist: Bob Marley and the Wailers
Title:Live
Year:1975
Favorite Tracks:

  • Trenchtown Rock
  • Them Belly Full (But We Hungry)
  • No Woman, No Cry
  • Get Up, Stand Up

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

Thoughts: The live concert recording from London in 1975 is a compendium of Bob Marley and the Wailers early hits.  The imperfections, such as the audience singing along a bit off-key or the feedback in “No Woman, No Cry,” have always made this album more endearing to me.  After watching the documentary Uprising, I became even more aware of the importance of reggae to the West Indian community in London in the 70s and 80s.

Bonus Sounds: The reggae compilation Rhythm Come Forward was my introduction to the genre as a child.  It included some early songs from when The Wailers were a ska band including this great rendition of “One Love.”


122

ArtistEddie From Ohio
Title:Portable EFO Show
Year: 1998
Favorite Tracks:

  • One
  • Very Short Fuse
  • Payday in the Village
  • The Three Fine Daughters of Farmer Brown
  • This My Town
  • Very Fine Funeral
  • The Bridge
  • Oh My Brother
  • The Train Song

The First Time I Heard This Album …: Picked it up at a concert on the day the album was released.

Thoughts: Despite the name, Eddie from Ohio were a folk/indie pop quartet known for their funny and insightful original songs.  They’re one of those bands whose energetic concert performances and rapport with the audience never translated as well to their studio performances.  So this album collects a lot of their best songs the way they were meant to be heard.

Bonus Sounds: I was a huge EFO fan from about 1997-2003, attending a couple of dozen live performances in that time.  I had all their albums and consider A Juggler on His Blades (1992), Actually Not (1993), Big Noise (1997), and Looking Out the Fishbowl (1999) to be their best.


121

By amazon.com, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15162054

Artist: MGMT
Title: Oracular Spectacular
Year: 2008
Favorite Tracks:

  • Time to Pretend
  • The Youth
  • Electric Feel
  • Kids

The First Time I Heard This Album …: 2008

Thoughts: This album is one of the first gifts of the millennial generation to popular music.  The psychedelic/New Wave/synthpop sounds of the Connecticut duo’s debut album bowled me over when I first heard it and drew me out of a period when I wasn’t listening to much new music.

Bonus Sounds: I reviewed MGMT’s most recent album Little Dark Age back in 2018.  It’s okay.

Favorite Albums of All Time: 140-131


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
240-231 190-181
230-221 180-171
220-211 170-161
210-201 160-151

 


140

Artist:Jimmy Cliff and Various Artists
Title: The Harder They Come (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
Year: 1972
Favorite Tracks:

  • “You Can Get It If You Really Want” by Jimmy Cliff
  • “Rivers of Babylon” by The Melodians
  • “Many Rivers to Cross” by Jimmy Cliff
  • “The Harder They Come” by Jimmy Cliff
  • “007 (Shanty Town)” by Desmond Dekker
  • “Pressure Drop” by Toots and the Maytals

The First Time I Heard This Album …: Late 80s/Early 90s?

Thoughts: I’ve never watched the film The Harder They Come, although I hope to address that soon.  The soundtrack album, though, is a classic time capsule of Jamaican music of the early 1970s.  It introduced US listeners to ska, reggae, and rocksteady at a time when recordings of Jamaican music were hard to come by in the States.

Bonus Sounds: My family had the Jimmy Cliff album The Power and the Glory when I was growing up.  It is VERY 1980s but it does include the classic “We All Are One.”


139

ArtistCracker 
Title: Kerosene Hat
Year:1993
Favorite Tracks:

  • Low
  • Movie Star
  • Get Off This
  • Take Me Down to the Infirmary
  • Sweet Potato
  • I Want Everything
  • Euro-Trash Girl

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

Thoughts: Cracker created alternative rock with an Americana twang and had some minor hits in the early 90s.  They seemed particularly popular when I was at college at William & Mary, possibly because the band was based in nearby Richmond.  This is their best album with the best every hidden track in “Euro-Trash Girl.”

Bonus Sounds: Cracker lead singer David Lowery previously was in the cleverly-named Camper Van Beethoven whose signature song is “Take the Skinheads Bowling.”


138

Artist: Black 47 
Title: Live in New York City
Year: 1999
Favorite Tracks:

  • Funky Ceili
  • The Reels
  • James Connolly
  • 40 Shades of Blue
  • Maria’s Wedding

The First Time I Heard This Album …: Picked it up after seeing Black 47 play live after a Mets game on Irish Night at Shea Stadium in 1999.

Thoughts: Black 47 are a band that never impressed me on their studio albums but seeing them live changed my mind.  They were like the ultimate party band with a great rapport with their audience, who also would use their performances to celebrate Irish socialism.  This album captures the vibe.

Bonus Sounds: Black 47 band leader Larry Kirwan also wrote an entertaining autobiography entitled Green Suede Shoes.


137

ArtistJosh Wink 
Title: Profound Sounds
Year: 1999
Favorite Tracks:

  • Johannes Heil & Heiko Laux – “D2”
  • K.A.B. – “Anjua (sneaky 3)”
  • Sylk 130 -“When the Funk Hits the Fan (Mood II Swing When the Dub Hits the Fan)
  • DJ Dozia – “Pop Kulture”
  • Merio’s Dubwork Meets Kathy Lee – “K-Mart Shopping”
  • Blaze – “Lovelee Dae (Eight Miles High Mix)”
  • Sound Associates – “Boom Box”

The First Time I Heard This Album …: 1999

Thoughts: My Electronica Phase (which coincided with my Folk Music Era) saw me going to dance clubs from around 1998 to 2004 to hear some of the best DJs spin trance, house, and drum & bass. Philadelphia DJ Josh Wink was one of them and this mix collection is kind of the epitome of what was great about the scene at that time.

Bonus Sounds: Josh Wink’s most famous release is “Higher State of Consciousness” with an appropriately trippy video.


136

Artist: Various Artists
Title: Party Girl: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Year: 1995
Favorite Tracks:

  • The Wolfgang Press – “Mama Told Me Not To Come”
  • Dawn Penn – “You Don’t Love Me (No, No, No)”
  • Nation Of Abel – “Anyone Could Happen To Me”
  • Chantay Savage – “If You Believe”
  • Ultra Naté – “Party Girl (Turn Me Loose)”

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

Thoughts: This is the soundtrack to one of my all-time sentimental favorite movies and a time capsule of the mid-90s club music scene.  Makes me want to dance on the tables at the library.

Bonus Sounds: Another great 1990s soundtrack with a techno beat is from the German film Run, Lola, Run.


135

ArtistBlind Faith
Title: Blind Faith
Year: 1969
Favorite Tracks:

  • Had to Cry Today
  • Can’t Find My Home
  • Presence of the Lord
  • Sea of Joy

The First Time I Heard This Album …: My teenage Classic Rock period of the late 1980s

Thoughts: Blind Faith recorded only one album with just six songs, but it was a great one. The supergroup was made up of Ginger Baker and Eric Clapton of Cream, Steve Winwood of Traffic, and Ric Grech of Family.  Winwood and Clapton went on to long, successful solo careers, but I think some of their best work is on this album.  In fact, it’s even possible that they complement one another in a way that brings out their best attributes.

Bonus Sounds: Obviously, there’s nothing else to share from Blind Faith, but Winwood and Clapton, as well as Rolling Stones’ members Charlie Watts and Bill Wyman, served as the backing band for Chicago Blues legend Howlin’ Wolf on The London Howlin’ Wolf Sessions.


134

ArtistLiz Phair  
Title: Whip Smart
Year: 1994
Favorite Tracks:

  • Supernova
  • Shane
  • Nashville
  • Go West
  • Cinco De Mayo
  • Dogs of L.A.
  • Whip-Smart
  • Jealousy
  • Crater Lake
  • May Queen

The First Time I Heard This Album …: 1994

Thoughts: Yes, I know it’s cooler to like Exile in Guyville, but this was my introduction to Liz Phair.  I acquired Whip-Smart from one of those mail order CD clubs without even knowing what Phair’s music sounded like.  Turned out, it sounded like something I liked a lot, and still do.

Bonus Sounds: Exile in Guyville, of course.


133

Artist: D.J. Maüs
Title: Intersections
Year:2000
Favorite Tracks:

  • Polar – “Breaking Thru”
  • TeeBee – “Fingerprints”
  • Banaczech – “Zlin and Back”
  • Myer – “Brown Sugar”
  • Amon Tobin – “Piranha Breaks”
  • Plug – “Me and Mr. Sutton”
  • Omni Trio – “Assassins”

The First Time I Heard This Album …: 2000

Thoughts: On Memorial Day weekend in 2000, I went to Montreal with two friends (one of whom I ended up marrying).  A highlight of the weekend was going to a club called Blizzarts which was basically a storefront that looked like it was decorated like someone’s basement rec room, but had a totally unpretentious vibe as people danced to drum & bass.  The music was spun by D.J. Maüs (a.k.a.Louise Gauvreau ), a rare woman behind the turntables in a male-dominated field and a true artist of her craft.  I ordered this album as an import after returning home.

Bonus Sounds: DJ Maus has a Soundcloud account.  This is the most recent track available.


132

Artist: Dave Carter and Tracy Grammer 
Title: When I Go
Year: 1998
Favorite Tracks:

  • When I Go
  • Kate and the Ghost of Lost Love
  • The River, Where She Sleeps
  • Lancelot
  • Frank to Valentino
  • Elvis Presley

The First Time I Heard This Album …: 2000

Thoughts: Dave Carter was a singer/songwriter in the visionary American roots mode, Tracy Grammer is a fiddler who became Carter’s musical and romantic partner.  The duo from Portland, Oregon released three albums before Carter’s unexpected death in 2002. This was the first of their albums that Carter gave to me personally when I worked the merch table at one of their Club Passim shows.

Bonus Sounds: There’s more Dave & Tracy to come in this list, but until then enjoy their rendition of Woody Guthrie’s  “Way Over Yonder in the Minor Key” by way of Billy Bragg & Wilco.


131

Artist:Erin McKeown 
Title: Distillation
Year:  2000
Favorite Tracks:

  • Queen of Quiet
  • Blackbirds
  • La Petite Mort
  • The Little Cowboy
  • Fast As I Can

The First Time I Heard This Album …: 2000

Thoughts: Erin McKeown stole the show at the new artists showcase at the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival in July 2000, and I immediately got her album at the merch tent.  This was 90s folk music with an alt-rock edge.

Bonus Sounds:  There’s a version of “Fast As You Can” on McKeown’s debut album Monday Morning Cold that  I like even better than the one on Distillation.

Favorite Albums of All Time: 150-141


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
240-231 190-181
230-221 180-171
220-211 170-161
210-201 160-151

150

Artist: The New Pornographers 
Title: Twin Cinema  
Year: 2005
Favorite Tracks:

  • Twin Cinema
  • The Bleeding Heart Show
  • Jackie, Dressed in Cobras
  • Sing Me Spanish Techno

The First Time I Heard This Album …: Late Oughts?

Thoughts: The New Pornographers are kind of a collective of musicians who come together from their various individual projects.  I feel the mid-to-late Oughts were kind of their peak period as a band embracing a more musically adventurous approach than their earlier collaborations.  And, oh, those harmonies are such a delight!

Bonus Sounds: There will be more Pornographers coming up in this list, but you can also read my reviews of their two most recent albums, Whiteout Conditions (2017) and In the Morse Code of Brake Lights (2019).


149

Artist: Ex Hex
Title: Rips
Year:  2014
Favorite Tracks:

  • Don’t Wanna Lose
  • Hot and Cold
  • Everywhere
  • Outro

The First Time I Heard This Album …: 2014

Thoughts: This Washington, D.C. punk rock power trio lead by Mary Timony (of Helium and Wild Flag fame) made a statement with their hard-rocking debut album.

Bonus Sounds: The band’s sophomore effort, It’s Real, is also pretty good.


148

Artist: James Brown
Title: Live at the Apollo 
Year: 1963
Favorite Tracks:

  • I’ll Go Crazy
  • Try Me
  • Think
  • Lost Someone

The First Time I Heard This Album …: High school, late 80s/early 90s

Thoughts: If you’re familiar with James Brown from his pop hits like “I Feel Good” or with the funk sound he developed in the 1970s, you, like me, may be taken aback by the more simple R&B sound of this early live performance.  Brown already had the reputation of “the hardest working man in show business” (he said so himself!) when he made this appearance at Harlem’s famed Apollo Theatre.  The biggest flaw with the album is that it’s too short, but the powerful performances pack a wallop!

Bonus Sounds:  Another significant James Brown concert, for entirely different reasons, occurred on April 5, 1968 at Boston Garden and is documented in the film The Night James Brown Saved Boston.


147

Artist: Blondie
Title: Parallel Lines
Year: 1978
Favorite Tracks:

  • Hanging on the Telephone
  • One Way Or Another
  • Pretty Baby
  • Sunday Girl
  • Heart of Glass

The First Time I Heard This Album …: 2021 was the first time all the way through although most of the songs were familiar

Thoughts: Blondie managed to be an innovative New Wave/post-punk band, indie rock before there was indie rock, while also having a ton of radio hits.  This album is full of bangers from their peak era of commercial and critical success.

Bonus Sounds: Blondie’s 1977 debut album is also highly recommended.


146

Artist: Funkadelic
Title: Maggot Brain
Year: 1971
Favorite Tracks:

  • Maggot Brain
  • Can You Get to That
  • Hit It and Quit It
  • You and Your Folks, Me and My Folks

The First Time I Heard This Album …: My P-Funk Music Discovery in 2016

Thoughts: The album begins with one of the most intense guitar solos in rock history courtesy of Eddie Hazel and follows with gospel and blues influenced psychedelic funk.  The socially conscious lyrics and sing-a-long tunes make this one of P-Funk’s greatest accomplishments.

Bonus Sounds:  I have a Parliament album coming up on this list, but as for Funkadelic albums, I highly recommend Funkadelic (1970), Standing on the Verge of Getting it On (1974), Hardcore Jollies (1976), and Uncle Jam Wants You (1979).


145

Artist: Dua Lipa 
Title: Future Nostalgia 
Year: 2020
Favorite Tracks:

  • Don’t Look Now
  • Levitating
  • Break My Heart
  • Good in Bed
  • Boys Will Be Boys

The First Time I Heard This Album …: May 2020

Thoughts: This is one of the albums I listened to during the peak COVID isolation time when I was looking for new music to listen to, so despite being music suited for dance clubs it reminds me of staying at home.  I liked it just fine at first but it’s really grown on me on repeated listens over the past couple of years.  Plus the more I learn about Dua Lipa the more I’m impressed by this talented artist.

Bonus Sounds: Did you know that among all her other work, Dua Lipa also hosts a podcast?  I haven’t listened to it but I mean to check it out.


144

Artist:Al Green
Title: Call Me
Year: 1973
Favorite Tracks:

  • Call Me (Come Back Home)
  • I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry
  • Here I Am (Come and Take Me)
  • You Ought To Be With Me

The First Time I Heard This Album …:  2021, Rolling Stone 500 project

Thoughts: Al Green had one of the great soul voices of all time and this album captures him at his peak.

Bonus Sounds: I’m Still in Love With You (1972) released a year earlier is a good companion piece.


143

ArtistNeko Case
Title: Fox Confessor Brings the Flood
Year: 2006
Favorite Tracks:

  • Margaret vs. Pauline
  • Hold On, Hold On
  • That Teenage Feeling
  • Dirty Knife
  • Maybe Sparrow

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

Thoughts: Neko Case is a member of The New Pornographers and the one whose solo career I’ve also been following avidly.  This album features some of her best work with her powerful voice and indie rock/folk rock tunes.

 

Bonus Sounds: I saw Neko Case in concert once.  It was a great performance.  Case has also just released a career-spanning compilation album, Wild Creatures, which is a good jumping off point for new listeners.


142

Artist: Passion Pit
Title: Manners
Year:2009
Favorite Tracks:

  • Little Secrets
  • Moth’s Wings
  • The Reeling
  • Sleepyhead

The First Time I Heard This Album …: 2009

Thoughts: The debut album from the Cambridge, MA electropop act features Michael Angelakos’ impossibly high falsetto over fractious electronic sounds.  It was a sound that blew me away when I first heard it and still impresses me now.

Bonus Sounds: Passion Pit has released consistently good music in ensuing years with “Lifted Up (1985)” being among my all-time favorite songs.


141

Artist:Miles Davis
Title: Kind of Blue
Year: 1959
Favorite Tracks:

  • So What
  • Freddie Freeloader
  • All Blues

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

Thoughts: Kind of perfect.

Bonus Sounds: Miles Davis’ other most legendary album is, of course, the psychedelic jazz fusion of Bitches Brew.

Album of the Week: Daptone Mood by Various Artists


Album: Daptone Mood
Artist: Various
Release Date: May 12, 2022
Label: Daptone Records
Favorite Tracks:

Thoughts: The new compilation from Daptone Records is a collection of slower tunes released by the label’s many artists.  If you’re not familiar, Daptone Records is a Brooklyn-based label founded in 2002 most noted for enabling the late career resurgence of Sharon Jones and Charles Bradley (both of whom are now deceased) and recording numerous other contemporary artists making classic soul and funk as well as reggae and afrobeat.  The album is full of gems and really hits the spot for me right now.

Rating: ****1/2

 

Album of the Week 2022

January

February

March

April

May

Favorite Albums of All Time: 160-151


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
240-231 190-181
230-221 180-171
220-211 170-161
210-201

160

Artist: Fleet Foxes
Title: Fleet Foxes
Year: 2008
Favorite Tracks:

  • White Winter Hymnal
  • Tiger Mountain Peasant Song
  • He Doesn’t Know Why
  • Your Protector

The First Time I Heard This Album …: 2008

Thoughts: “White Winter Hymnal” left me dumbfounded the first time I heard it and it’s still just a sonically amazing song.  The debut album of Seattle’s indie folk band Fleet Foxes indie folk is full of such treasures.

Bonus Sounds: Fleet Foxes have released three albums since their debut, and while none resonate with me quite as much, they are all excellent: Helplessness Blues (2011 – the title track is another of my all-time favorites), Crack-Up (2017), and Shore (2020).


159

Artist: Crooked Still
Title: Shaken by a Low Sound 
Year: 2006
Favorite Tracks:

  • Can’t You Hear Me Callin’
  • Come On In My Kitchen
  • Ain’t No Grave
  • Wind and Rain

The First Time I Heard This Album …: 2006

Thoughts:  Crooked Still were a Boston-area band of recent music school graduates who took a modern approach to traditional folk and bluegrass.  I’m pretty sure I saw their debut show at Club Passim in Cambridge.  This album highlights the gorgeous vocals of Aoife O’Donovan and the resonant cell of Rushad Eggleston.

Bonus Sounds: Crooked Still haven’t been active for over a decade but Aoife O’Donovan continues a successful solo career including this year’s release Age of Apathy.


158

ArtistTilly & The Wall 
Title: Bottoms of Barrels
Year: 2006
Favorite Tracks:

  • Rainbows in the Dark
  • Bad Education
  • Lost Girls
  • Sing Songs Along
  • The Freest Man

The First Time I Heard This Album …: 2006

Thoughts: Around 2006 I started listening to podcasts from NPR Music which kickstarted another phase of my listening history of indie rock/pop bands that apparently appeal to NPR audiences.  Tilly and the Wall were a band from Omaha whose high-energy performances exuded positivity and whose tunes were built on the percussive sounds of tap dancing.

Bonus Sounds: Tilly and the Wall made a memorable appearance on Sesame Street, teaching the ABCs.


157

Artist: Kris Delmhorst 
Title: Five Stories 
Year: 2001
Favorite Tracks:

  • Damn Love Song
  • Broken White Line
  • Words Fail You
  • Yellow Brick Road
  • Garden Rose
  • Mean Old Wind
  • Honeyed Out

The First Time I Heard This Album …: 2001

Thoughts: Kris Delmhorst is one of my favorite singer/songwriters who arose from the Boston-area folk scene in the late 90s/early 00s.  Five Stories came out during the peak period where I was seeing her perform in local venues on a regular basis.

Bonus Sounds: There will be more from Kris Delmhorst coming up on this list, both solo and with others, but I have also reviewed her most recent releases Long Day in the Milky Way and The Wild.


156

Artist:The Jimi Hendrix Experience 
Title: Electric Ladyland
Year:1968
Favorite Tracks:

  • Crosstown Traffic
  • Voodoo Chile
  • Burning of the Midnight Lamp
  • All Along the Watchtower
  • Voodoo Child (Slight Return)

The First Time I Heard This Album …: During my high school Classic Rock Phase in the late 1980s.

Thoughts: The third and final studio album from the Jimi Hendrix Experience shows an artist diversifying his musical range and displaying the maturity of an already massive talent.  The sounds of this album blend psychedelic and hard rock with blues and funk.

 

Bonus Sounds: All three of the Jimi Hendrix Experience studio albums are stone-cold classics, so definitely check out Are You Experienced and Axis: Bold as Love as well.


155

ArtistKate Bush
Title: The Sensual World
Year: 1989
Favorite Tracks:

  • The Sensual World
  • Love and Anger
  • Deeper Understanding
  • Rocket’s Tail
  • This Woman’s Work

The First Time I Heard This Album …: 2016, although I’d heard bits and pieces of it going back to the 80s

Thoughts: Over a decade into her career, Bush made maybe her most accessible album.  That being said it thematically deals with issues relating to computer sex and a musical interpretation of Molly Bloom’s soliloquy from Ulysses, so it’s still pretty esoteric! “Love and Anger” remains one of my favorite Kate Bush songs, and “This Woman’s Work” always makes me weep a bit.

Bonus Sounds: There is more Kate Bush to come in this countdown, but in the meantime you can read my Kate Bush Music Discovery blog post.


154

Artist: Squirrel Nut Zippers
Title: Hot 
Year: 1996
Favorite Tracks:

  • Got My Own Thing Now
  • Put a Lid On It
  • Hell
  • Meant to Be
  • Blue Angel

The First Time I Heard This Album …: I heard “Hell” on the radio in 1997 and cracked up laughing while also being struck by how unusual it was for the time.

Thoughts:  North Carolina’s Squirrel Nut Zippers were one of the main acts of the late 1990s swing arrival, but unlike other bands who just recreated older sounds, they used the swing sound to make quirky songs that fit the alt-rock mood of the era.  Some songs feature the ethereal voice of Katharine Whalen while the the tracks with male vocal leads tend to have tongue-in-cheek lyrics.

Bonus Sounds: The Zippers follow-up studio album, Perennial Favorites (1998), includes the absolutely brilliant “Ghost of Stephen Foster.”


153

Artist: The Mekons
Title: OOOH! (Out of Our Heads)
Year:2002
Favorite Tracks:

  • Thee Olde Trip to Jerusalem
  • Take His Name in Vain
  • Only You And Your Ghost Will Know
  • Bob Hope & Charity

The First Time I Heard This Album …: Probably around 2004-2005 when I borrowed it from the library

Thoughts: The Mekons were already in their 4th decade when they created this album, but seemed to have lost none of the creativity or edginess.  They veer easily from post-punk to folk rock to “what the hell is this” over the course of the album.

Bonus Sounds: I need to dive deeper into The Mekons catalog, but they remain an active unit after 45 years having commented on Brexit and still releasing new albums.


152

Artist: Mission of Burma 
Title: ONoffON 
Year: 2004
Favorite Tracks:

  • The Enthusiast
  • Falling
  • Prepared
  • Wounded World
  • Nicotine Bomb
  • Absent Mind

The First Time I Heard This Album …: 2004

Thoughts: Boston’s legendary post-punk band Mission of Burma broke up in 1983 due to guitarist Roger Miller’s tinnitus.  They made their triumphant return in 2004 with their second studio album ONoffON. Listening to this album alongside their earlier work makes it seem as if no time passed, and it was perfectly time for the post-punk/new wave revival of the 2000s.

Bonus Sounds: There will be another entry for Mission of Burma in this list, but their later releases – The Obliterati (2006), The Sound the Speed the Light (2009), and Unsound (2012) – are all worth a listen.


151

ArtistBjörk 
Title: Post
Year:1995
Favorite Tracks:

  • Army of Me
  • Hyperballad
  • It’s Oh So Quiet
  • Isobel
  • Possibly Maybe
  • I Miss You

The First Time I Heard This Album …: Probably around 1997-1998 when I went on a big Björk kick.

Thoughts: Björk’s sophomore album as a solo artist shows an amazing amount of growth as an artist and willingness to experiment with electronic dance sounds.   This album is full of bangers including some of Björk’s most famous and timeless songs.

Bonus Sounds:  There will be more Björk in this countdown, but do not overlook her earlier work with the Sugarcubes, such as the classic “Birthday,” and tracks from her first solo work Debut, like “Big Time Sensuality.”

Favorite Movies of All Time: 160-151


Over the past few years I’ve made a concerted effort to watch lots of movies considered to be among the best of all time.  Now, for the first time, I’ve made my own list of favorite movies of all time.  Every other Wednesday throughout 2022, I will be revealing ten movies in my list of 250 Favorite Movies of All Time.

250-241 200-190
240-231 190-181
230-221 180-171
220-211 170-161
210-201

160

Title: Best in Show
Director: Christopher Guest
Cast: Jennifer Coolidge, Christopher Guest, John Michael Higgins, Michael Hitchcock, Eugene Levy, Jane Lynch, Michael McKean, Catherine O’Hara, Parker Posey, Fred Willard
Year: 2000
When did I first watch this movie?: 2000, at the theaters
Why is this one of my all time favorites?: The funniest of the improv-based comedies created by Christopher Guest and company, Best in Show is an affectionate satire of the goofiness of dog show culture.


159

Title: Sophie’s Choice
Director: Alan J. Pakula
Cast: Meryl Streep, Kevin Kline, Peter MacNicol
Year: 1982
When did I first watch this movie?: Early 1990s
Why is this one of my all time favorites?: An adaptation of William Styron’s novel set in post-World War II Brooklyn which tells a story of love and friendship destroyed by mental illness and the lingering trauma of the Holocaust.  Features spectacular performances by Streep and Kline (in his first major film role).


158

Title: Yojimbo
Director: Akira Kurosawa
Cast: Toshiro Mifune, Tatsuya Nakadai, Yoko Tsukasa, Isuzu Yamada, Daisuke Katō, Takashi Shimura, Kamatari Fujiwara, Atsushi Watanabe
Year: 1961
When did I first watch this movie?: February 2021
Why is this one of my all time favorites?:  Kurosawa tells the story of a wandering samurai who saves a town from the grip of two rival gangs by basically destroying the town.  It’s a comic action film with increasingly dark undertones that’s influenced generations of Hollywood “antihero” stories.  Plus there’s fantastic cinematography, music, and acting.


157

Title: King Kong
Director: Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack
Cast: Fay Wray, Robert Armstrong, Bruce Cabot
Year: 1933
When did I first watch this movie?: Early 1980s, on Thanksgiving!
Why is this one of my all time favorites?: THE classic monster horror film about a giant ape whose story has been a favorite since childhood.  There’s a balance here of weighing nostalgia against the racist/sexist baggage this film carries.  But it’s vast influence on blockbuster movies is undeniable.


156

Title: Stalag 17
Director: Billy Wilder
Cast: William Holden, Don Taylor, Otto Preminger
Year: 1953
When did I first watch this movie?: Mid 80s on cable
Why is this one of my all time favorites?: Just a really compelling WWII prison camp story with a mix of drama, humor, and thrills.


155

Title: Bloody Sunday
Director: Paul Greengrass
Cast: James Nesbitt, Tim Pigott-Smith, Nicholas Farrell, Gerard McSorley,  Kathy Kiera Clarke
Year: 2002
When did I first watch this movie?: January 2003 at Brattle Theatre
Why is this one of my all time favorites?: The shocking massacre of civil rights protestors in Derry, Northern Ireland in 1972 is recreated in this verite-style film which features multiple perspectives and capturing the “fog of war.”


154

Title: Being John Malkovich
Director: Spike Jonze
Cast: John Cusack, Cameron Diaz, Catherine Keener, Orson Bean, Mary Kay Place, John Malkovich
Year: 1999
When did I first watch this movie?: 1999, in the theaters
Why is this one of my all time favorites?: An unsettling fantasy film explores the concept of celebrity and allows John Cusack to be completely unlikable, but is nonetheless a wonderfully weird movie.


153

Title: The Apartment
Director: Billy Wilder
Cast: Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine, Fred MacMurray, Ray Walston, Edie Adams
Year: 1960
When did I first watch this movie?: February 2020
Why is this one of my all time favorites?: A midcentury comedy that satires the seedy underbelly of capitalism and the American Dream with Jack Lemmon as the put-upon mensch and Shirley MacLaine in one of her best all-time roles.


152

Title: Clueless
Director: Amy Heckerling
Cast: Alicia Silverstone, Stacey Dash, Brittany Murphy and Paul Rudd
Year: 1995
When did I first watch this movie?: Around 1996
Why is this one of my all time favorites?: The teen comedy reinvented for the 1990s with the story of a rich and popular Beverly Hills girl dedicating her life to doing good deeds.  The movie both captured and influenced youth culture of the era.


151

Title: Mean Girls
Director: Mark Waters
Cast: Lindsay Lohan, Rachel McAdams, Tim Meadows, Ana Gasteyer, Amy Poehler, Tina Fey
Year: 2004
When did I first watch this movie?: 2004, on an airplane!
Why is this one of my all time favorites?: It’s funny that this ended up in the list next to Clueless, because Mean Girls is the definitive teen comedy of its own decade.  Tina Fey adapted a serious self-help book into an incisive comedy about cliques and bullying among high school girls.

 

Favorite Albums of All Time: 170-161


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
240-231 190-181
230-221 180-171
220-211
210-201

170

Artist: Various
Title: Rent [Original Broadway Cast Recording]
Year:  1996
Favorite Tracks:

  • Rent
  • Today 4 U
  • Tango: Maureen
  • Another Day
  • Will I?
  • Santa Fe
  • Seasons of Love
  • I’ll Cover You (Reprise)

The First Time I Heard This Album …: In September 1997, I saw Rent performed at the National Theater in Washington. One of those friends gave me a copy of the cast recording and I listened to it over for the next year or so.

Thoughts: Jonathan Larson updated La bohème as a story of people with AIDS, the LGBTQ community, and artists and academics struggling to survive in Manhattan’s East Village.  That community is long gone, but the issues that they deal with are startlingly relevant.  While generational notions can be overdone, this really feels like the defining musical for those of us who came of age “living in America at the end of the millenium.”

Bonus Sounds: Last year’s tick, tick… BOOM! is a sort-of (auto)biography of Rent creator Jonathan Larson set as a musical.


169

Artist: Afro Celt Sound System
Title: Sound Magic 
Year: 1996
Favorite Tracks:

  • Saor (Free) / News from Nowhere
  • Whirl-y-Reel 1 (Beard and Sandals Mix)
  • Dark Moon, High Tide
  • Whirl-y-Reel 2 (Folk Police Mix)

The First Time I Heard This Album …: 1996, around when it was released

Thoughts: Afro Celt Sound System are an ensemble of musicians who mix traditional Celtic and African music with electronic music.  In other words, everything I like all together.  I came upon this album serendipitously and until researching the band for this post, I didn’t realize that they still existed and released several other albums.  I guess I have some catching up to do.

Bonus Sounds:


168

Artist: Various
Title: The Indestructible Beat of Soweto 
Year: 1985
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Awungilobolele” (Can You Pay Lobola for Me) – Udokotela Shange Namajaha
  • “Holotelani” (Daughter-In-Law) – Nelcy Sedibe
  • “Qhwahilahle” (Leave Him Alone) – Moses Mchunu
  • “Sini Lindile” (We Are Waiting for You) – Nganezlyamfisa No Khambalomvaleliso
  • “Nansi Imali” (Here Is the Money) – Ladysmith Black Mambazo

The First Time I Heard This Album …: Checked it out the library in the late 80s when inspired by Paul Simon and Johnny Clegg to listen to more music from South Africa.

Thoughts: A great compilation of different styles of South African music released at a time when the boundaries of popular music in the US were expanding beyond North America and the U.K.  The guitar styles remain an amazing revelation.

Bonus Sounds:


167

ArtistThe Roches
Title: The Roches
Year:  1979
Favorite Tracks:

  • We
  • Hammond Song
  • Mr. Sellack
  • The Train

The First Time I Heard This Album …: Early 2000s.

Thoughts: The first album by the sisters Roche (Maggie, Terre, and Suzzy) as a trio sounds really like nothing else from 1979 (or before or after for that matter).  The quirky lyrics about everyday matters, the sublime harmonies, and Robert Fripp’s guitar combine to make a masterpiece.

Bonus Sounds: I listened to other albums by The Roches, but none compared to this debut. The Avalanches (who will appear later in this list) are known for their deft deployment of samples and the segment of “Hammond Song” that appears in “We Will Always Love You” (featuring Blood Orange) is divine.


166

Artist: Hüsker Dü
Title: New Day Rising
Year: 1985
Favorite Tracks:

  • New Day Rising
  • The Girl Who Lives on Heaven Hill
  • Celebrated Summer
  • Books About UFOs
  • I Don’t Know What You’re Talking About

The First Time I Heard This Album …: Last year, as part of the Rolling Stone 500, to my eternal shame.

Thoughts: Something was in the water in the Twin Cities in the mid-80s when Hüsker Dü and The Replacements, not to mention Prince and all his associated acts, were churning out some of the most enduring albums of all time.  New Day Rising anticipates the hard-crunching guitar sound that’s nonetheless melodic of the Alternative Rock revolution by about 5 years.

Bonus Sounds: I wasn’t aware of Hüsker Dü in the 1980s (except the name) but I did come to really like Bob Mould’s next band Sugar in the 1990s thanks to Alt-Rock radio staples like “If I Can’t Change Your Mind.”


165

 

Artist X
Title: Under the Big Black Sun
Year: 1982
Favorite Tracks:

  • The Hungry Wolf
  • Riding With Mary
  • Blue Spark
  • Dancing With Tears in My Eyes
  • Real Child of Hell
  • How I (Learned My Lesson)

The First Time I Heard This Album …: Early 2000s.

Thoughts: Like the Lakers, we move from Minneapolis to Los Angeles, but in punk instead of basketball.  The punk rock sound of X seems to be a natural progression from earlier L.A. bands like The Doors as well as incorporating rockabilly and folk rock elements. The interplay of John Doe and Exene Cervenka’s voices creates an ominous mood for the lyrics.

Bonus Sounds: X is so Los Angeles, they named one of their early albums Los Angeles.


164

ArtistBob Marley and the Wailers
Title: Catch a Fire
Year: 1973
Favorite Tracks:

  • Concrete Jungle
  • Stop That Train
  • Baby We’ve Got A Date (Rock It Baby)
  • Stir It Up
  • Kinky Reggae
  • No More Trouble

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

Thoughts: This is one of those albums that has so many great tracks on it that it is surprising it is not a greatest hits compilation. This is the peak of the Bob Marley/Peter Tosh/Bunny Wailer era of the band.

Bonus Sounds: I have another Bob Marley and the Wailers album coming up, but you really can’t go wrong with any of the band’s studio albums. Assuming you already have the Legend collection, you can branch out with Burnin’, Exodus, and Uprising to hear the evolving sound of reggae.


163

ArtistLed Zeppelin
Title: Led Zeppelin II
Year: 1969
Favorite Tracks:

  • Whole Lotta Love
  • Heartbreaker
  • Ramble On
  • Moby Dick
  • Bring It On Home

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

Thoughts: Led Zeppelin’s sophomore outing is the peak of their early Blues-infused hard rock sound. Try not to play air guitar while listening to this album.

Bonus Sounds: For this list, I pared down the Led Zeppelin contributions to just two (with one more album to come).  Other Led Zeppelin albums I considered were Led Zeppelin, and Houses of the Holy.


162

ArtistVampire Weekend
Title: Vampire Weekend
Year:  2008
Favorite Tracks:

  • Mansard Roof
  • Oxford Comma
  • A-Punk
  • Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa
  • Campus
  • Walcott

The First Time I Heard This Album …: 2008

Thoughts: There was a lot of buzz for Vampire Weekend leading up to their debut album.  I think this was the first album by a new band that I purchased basically when it was released and was the most recent album on my 2009 Favorite Albums list.  Vampire Weekend have released several albums since then, overturned their lineup, and I think have basically broken up now, but their first album still remains my favorite with its high energy indie pop interpolated with Afrobeat sounds.

Bonus Sounds: Vampire Weekend’s next great album is 2013’s Modern Vampires of the City, featuring the track “Step.”


161

ArtistSimon & Garfunkel
Title: Bridge Over Troubled Water
Year: 1970
Favorite Tracks:

  • Bridge Over Troubled Water
  • Cecilia
  • The Boxer
  • The Only Living Boy In New York

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

Thoughts: The final album from the duo of Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel is musically and lyrically diverse, and shows how far they had come from the earnest folkies of 6 years earlier.  If only every group could go out on such a high note.

Bonus Sounds: It was hard to narrow down the Simon & Garfunkel discography to just one album for this list as all five of their albums are worth a listen.  Bridge Over Troubled Water is their most polished album and their earlier, stripped-down work is a great contrast in sounds.  Bookends from 1968, though, is more experimental and probably deserves to be on this list too.  It includes some tracks from the soundtrack of The Graduate, although lyrically they have little to do with that film.

Favorite Albums of All Time: 180-171


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
240-231 190-181
230-221
220-211
210-201

180

Artist:Talking Heads
Title: Speaking in Tongues
Year:  1983
Favorite Tracks:

  • Burning Down the House
  • Girlfriend Is Better
  • Slippery People
  • Swamp
  • This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody)

The First Time I Heard This Album …: This may have been the first album by Talking Heads I listened to as a child in the 1980s. “Burning Down the House” was definitely the first song of theirs that I heard.

Thoughts: Of all the New Wave/Post-punk bands of the 1980s, Talking Heads did the most to make the avant-garde appeal to normies. That this their most commercially successful album is also one of their artistic peaks proves the point.  And you can dance to it!

Bonus Sounds: There’s a lot of great Talking Heads music out there and another album to discuss in this countdown.  But Talking Heads will also make a crossover appearance in my Favorite Movies countdown with their Jonathan Demme directed concert film Stop Making Sense.


179

Artist:Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong
Title: Ella & Louis
Year: 1956
Favorite Tracks:

  • They Can’t Take That Away From Me
  • Tenderly
  • Stars Fell on Alabama
  • Cheek to Cheek
  • April in Paris

The First Time I Heard This Album …: In the early 90s when I was in college.

Thoughts: Two of the most iconic voices of 20th century popular music pair up to sing standards.  Louis also gets a trumpet solo on each track too. What more can you ask for? Susan and I danced a foxtrot to “Cheek to Cheek” at our wedding reception.

Bonus Sounds: Fitzgerald and Armstrong collaborated on two more albums –  Ella and Louis Again (1957), and Porgy and Bess (1959) – which are also worth your time.


178

ArtistThe Resophonics
Title: The Resophonics
Year:2001
Favorite Tracks:

  • Anna Lee
  • World of Trouble
  • Willow Tree
  • Young Love
  • Little Lies
  • Let the Angels Sing

The First Time I Heard This Album …: Picked it up after hearing the band play in 2001 at Club Passim or some other folk venue

Thoughts:

The Resophonics were part of a wave of bands with a punk ethos playing bluegrass style music that hit the Boston area folk scene in the early 2000s.  I’ve already written about The Benders with whom The Resophonics overlapped.  Nowadays it’s really hard to find anything about The Resophonics online other than their Bandcamp page.  Thankfully I still have my CD back in the day.

Bonus Sounds:  Sean Staples, mandolin player and vocalist for The Resophonics, is still active and just year later appeared in the backing band for David Rovics‘ latest album.


177

Artist: Violent Femmes
Title: Violent Femmes
Year:1983
Favorite Tracks:

  • Blister in the Sun
  • Kiss Off
  • Please Do Not Go
  • Add It Up
  • Prove My Love
  • To The Kill
  • Gone Daddy Gone

The First Time I Heard This Album …: Around 1991, not coincidentally around the same time the album reached its peak on the Billboard 200

Thoughts: When I went to college in the early 90s this was one of those albums that almost everyone seemed to like regardless of their musical tastes.  It’s odd that an album almost a decade old had such popularity, but I guess the Violent Femmes’ punk/alternative sound with a country twang anticipated the DIY ethos of the grunge era.

Bonus Sounds: The Femmes have continued to release great music since their debut album (as recently as 2019), and on of my favorites is the highly-relatable anthem “Waiting For The Bus” first released on their 1993 compilation Add It Up.


176

 

Artist:Various
Title: Dance Craze – The Best of British Ska Live
Year:1981
Favorite Tracks:

  • The Specials – “Concrete Jungle”
  • The English Beat – “Mirror in the Bathroom”
  • The Selecter – “Three Minute Hero”
  • The Bodysnatchers – “Easy Life”
  • The Specials – “Man at C&A”
  • The English Beat – “Ranking Full Stop”
  • Bad Manners – “Inner London Violence”

The First Time I Heard This Album …: Circa 1998

Thoughts: Part of the appeal of this album is that it took me almost a decade to find.  Granted, I may have had better luck had I been more resourceful, but before the internet took off, finding old albums meant digging through bins in used record stores.  This collection contains live performances of the best bands of the UK 2-Tone sound including The Specials, The English Beat, Bad Manners, The Selecters, The Bodysnatchers, and The Special A.K.A.

Bonus Sounds:


175

Artist: Echolalia
Title:Shamrock Shake
Year:1997
Favorite Tracks:

  • Ballad of St. Anne’s Reel
  • Big Bill
  • Back Home Derry
  • Boys Co. Hell
  • Serbian’s Wake

The First Time I Heard This Album …: I got the casette in 1997, and luckily I still have it because it is otherwise impossible to find.

Thoughts: This is an Irish trad band from the Williamsburg, VA area that made a single cassette that I picked up at a local record store.  I heard about them because the brother of someone I went to college with was involved with the band. I tried to go to one of their shows but somehow arrived too late.  Then I moved to Boston.  All I can find about the band now is an article from the Newport News Daily Press.  But a few years ago, the leader of the band Johnny Coe left a comment on my blog! Johnny, if you’re out there, stop by again and let us know what you are up to.  Anyhow, this all goes to prove that you don’t have to be super famous to make a great album.

Bonus Sounds: I got nuthin’


174

Artist:Wild Flag
Title: Wild Flag
Year: 2011
Favorite Tracks:

  • Romance
  • Glass Tambourine
  • Electric Band
  • Future Crimes
  • Black Tiles

The First Time I Heard This Album …: 2011, probably after it was promoted by NPR Music.

Thoughts: The mayfly of post-punk/indie rock supergroups, Wild Flag brought together Carrie Brownstein, Mary Timony,  Rebecca Cole, and Janet Weiss for one brilliant album and a tour before they all dispersed to other projects.

Bonus Sounds: Sleater-Kinney has already appeared in this list so here’s my favorite tune by Mary Timony’s band Helium, “Honeycomb,” with a video shot on location in my hometown of Jamaica Plain.


173

Artist:Clap! Clap!
Title: Tayi Bebba
Year:2014
Favorite Tracks:

  • The Rainstick Fable
  • Black Smokes, Bad Signs
  • Conqueror (Action/Assault/Conquest)
  • Conqueror (Remorse/Withdrawn)
  • Sahkii (Xirhuu)

The First Time I Heard This Album …: September 2014

Thoughts: A project of Italian producer C. Crisci, Clap! Clap! creates dance music by combining electronic sounds with samples of traditional African music. While not the first effort to make this combination of sounds, Tayi Bebba is remarkably unique.

Bonus Sounds: I reviewed the second album from Clap! Clap!, A Thousand Skies, in 2017


172

ArtistWillie Dixon
Title: I Am The Blues
Year:1970
Favorite Tracks:

  • Back Door Man
  • Spoonful
  • I Ain’t Superstitious
  • You Shook Me
  • The Little Red Rooster

The First Time I Heard This Album …: Late 80s during my Blues Phase

Thoughts: Willie Dixon is an iconic figure of the Chicago Blues sound, writing many of the most famous songs and working as a producer and  session musician on recordings for Chess Records artists like Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Little Walter,  Bo Diddley,  and Chuck Berry.  On this album, Dixon takes the lead on some of his most notable tunes, ones that already were being covered by various Blues Rock and proto-Metal bands.

Bonus Sounds: In 1988, a few years before his death, Dixon released an album called Hidden Charms that was another favorite of mine as a teenager.  It includes “Study War No More,” a song written with his preteen grandson Alex.


171

Artist: Various
Title: An Droichead Beag – Mighty Session
Year: 1995
Favorite Tracks:

  • The Hairy Dogleaf/Tear the Calico/The Sailor’s Bonnet
  • Nine Pups
  • Don’t Forget to Write
  • Raiteachas mo Tairngreacht
  • The Silver Spire
  • Raghad-sa ‘s mo Cheaiti

The First Time I Heard This Album …: I picked up the cassette when I visited An Droichead Beag in Dingle in January 1998.

Thoughts: The pubs of Dingle are famous for their Irish trad sessions and one of the most famous pubs, An Droichead Beag, or The Small Bridge, put out a compilation of their best performances.  It’s a lovely mix of traditional Irish tunes and contemporary pop tunes by the likes of Van Morrison done in the trad style.  Sadly there is no streaming source of these recordings for me to share with you.

Bonus Sounds: I suppose I will have to return to Dingle to learn if An Droichead Beag have any other recordings to offer.  But another compilation of traditional music I enjoyed from the same time period was Green Linnet Records: Celebrating 20 Years Of Celtic Music.

Albums of the Week from The Linda Lindas and Deer Scout


I’m reviewing two recent releases this week from The Linda Lindas and Deer Scout. These artists have little in common. The Linda Lindas are loud and have a bite while Deer Scout is quiet and contemplative. But they both have a DIY ethos, a lot of passion, and really short songs on short albums (the total playing length of Growing Up is 25:35, Woodpecker is onl 22:09). So if you have the time, and you probably do, check out these two new albums!

Album: Growing Up
Artist: The Linda Lindas
Release Date: April 8, 2022
Label: Epitaph
Favorite Tracks:

  • Oh!
  • Growing Up
  • Talking to Myself
  • Why
  • Racist, Sexist Boy

Thoughts: The four members of Los Angeles band The Linda Lindas are aged between 11 and 17, so Growing Up is an appropriate title.  But their brand of melodic punk demonstrates a lot of maturity in their musicality.  The lyrics deal with the anxieties of teenage and preteen life, but also display a lot of wisdom.  The music on this album is just infectious and I love it so.

 

Rating: ****1/2


Album: Woodpecker
Artist: Deer Scout
Release Date: April 8, 2022
Label: Carpark Records
Favorite Tracks:

  • Cup
  • Synesthesia
  • Peace With the Damage
  • Breaking the Rock
  • Afterthought

Thoughts: Deer Scout is the stage name of Dena Miller, a New York-raised artist operating out of Philadelphia.  The album features a bedroom-style folk pop sound that despite its stripped-down nature displays a lot of complexity.  Deer Scout describes Woodpecker as a “record about memory and the subconscious” and their thoughtful lyrics as ruminating on things and sort them out.  Another brilliant debut!

Rating: ****

 

Album of the Week 2022

January

February

March

April

Favorite Albums of All Time: 200-191


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.


200

ArtistThe Kinks
Title: Something Else by The Kinks
Year: 1968
Favorite Tracks:

  • Death of a Clown
  • Harry Rag
  • Love Me Till the Sun Shines
  • Waterloo Sunset

The First Time I Heard This Album …: The Rolling Stone 500 was the first time I listened to these songs in entirety.

Thoughts: This album marks the transition of The Kinks from a British Invasion rock band to a band that writes wry, introspective, and observational songs about every day people. The Kinks aren’t folk rock but their music is informed by the folk tradition, and this album also reflects that odd music hall revival that coincided with psychedelic rock in England.

Bonus Sounds:  “Waterloo Sunset” is a nice song, isn’t it?  Here are some covers by David Bowie and Cathy Dennis.


199

Artist: Aretha Franklin
Title: Lady Soul
Year: 1968
Favorite Tracks:

  • Chain of Fools
  • People Get Ready
  • (You Make Me Feel) Like A Natural Woman
  • (Sweet Sweet Baby) Since You’ve Been Gone
  • Good to Me As I Am To You
  • Ain’t No Way

The First Time I Heard This Album …: Sometime in the early Oughts, I borrowed this album from the library

Thoughts: It’s hard to believe this is not a greatest hits compilation because it has so many of Aretha’s classic bangers.  But that’s what makes it a GREAT album.

Bonus Sounds: I somehow talked my way down to only one Aretha Franklin album on this list but  Young, Gifted, and Black, Amazing Grace, and I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You (and many more) are all worth a listen.


198

Artist: Elvis Costello
Title: My Aim Is True 
Year: 1977
Favorite Tracks:

  • No Dancing
  • Alison
  • (The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes
  • Less Than Zero
  • Mystery Dance
  • Watching the Detectives

The First Time I Heard This Album …:  Early Oughts when I was exploring old punk and new wave recordings.

Thoughts: This debut album features Elvis Costello at his rawest, channeling an early Rock & Roll sound into the new punk rock/new wave paradigm. So many of the tracks from this album remain in rotation almost fifty years, to the point that Costello’s earliest work almost overshadows the rest of his oeuvre.

Bonus Sounds: There are several other recordings by Costello worth listening to. I also read his memoir Unfaithful Music and Disappearing Ink several years ago and found out he is better at writing songs than books, but it had some interesting moments.


197

Artist: Beck
Title: Guero
Year: 2005
Favorite Tracks:

  • E-Pro
  • Qué Onda Guero
  • Girl
  • Hell Yes
  • Go It Alone
  • Rental Car
  • Emergency Exit

The First Time I Heard This Album …: When it first came out in 2005.

Thoughts: This album came at the end of a great decade of peak Beck music from the mid-90s to the mid-00s, but it remains one of his best.

Bonus Sounds: One of Beck’s most creative albums was Song Reader, a collection of sheet music.  In 2013, I was part of Beck’s Song Reader Performed Live, were over 150 musicians, performance artists, and dancers (including burlesque dancers) brought the song to life.  I was part of a 50-voice chorus who sang on several songs, most notably “The Wolf Is On the Hill” (Note: this link is NSFW, because, burlesque dancers).


196

Artist: Modest Mouse
Title: Moon And Antarctica
Year:  2000
Favorite Tracks:

  • 3rd Planet
  • Gravity Rides Everything
  • Tiny Cities Made of Ashes
  • A Different City
  • Wild Pack of Family Dogs
  • I Came As a Rat

The First Time I Heard This Album …: Around 2005, I was looking for new music and got this album on the recommendation of … someone.

Thoughts:  This is a great example of where indie/alternative rock was going in new directions in the early to mid Oughts.  This albums got weird sounds and creative lyrics, but Modest Mouse never forgets to make an enjoyable tune.

Bonus Sounds: This album surprisingly didn’t include any singles, but the next album released in 2004 included the bands most memorable track, “Float On.


195

Artist: Fountains of Wayne
Title: Welcome Interstate Managers
Year: 2003
Favorite Tracks:

  • Mexican Wine
  • Stacy’s Mom
  • No Better Place
  • Valley Winter Song
  • All Kinds of Time
  • Hung Up On You

The First Time I Heard This Album …: Sometime around 2003.

Thoughts: When I first learned of Fountains of Wayne, I was surprised that there was a band that appealed to both young hipsters as well as old dudes who usually only listen to 70s rock.  I guess the band’s power pop sounds has a timeless appeal.  And I find their anthems of New York City Tri-State Area ennui to be relatable.

Bonus Sounds: There are only so many slot in my favorite 250, so I could only choose one Fountains of Wayne album, a great slight to Utopia Parkway.  But do check out the collection that includes “Red Dragon Tattoo” among many other greats.


194

Artist3RDEYEGIRL
Title: PLECTRUMELECTRUM
Year: 2014
Favorite Tracks:

  • PRETZELBODYLOGIC
  • PLECTRUMELECTRUM
  • FIXURLIFEUP
  • ANOTHERLOVE
  • FUNKNROLL

The First Time I Heard This Album …: When it was released in 2014 simultaneously with the Prince album Art Official Age.

Thoughts: “Girl with a guitar is twelve times better than another crazy band of boys/Trying to be a star/When you’re just another brick in a misogynistic wall of noise.” 3RDEYEGIRL is the trio of Hannah Welton, Donna Grantis, and Ida Kristine Nielsen who served as Prince’s backing band from 2014 until his death.  Their one album with Prince rocks hard!  And it features a cameo from Lizzo.

Bonus Sounds: “FUNKNROLL” is a song so good that Prince also recorded a version for his own album.


193

Artist:  The Who
Title: Who’s Next
Year: 1971
Favorite Tracks:

  • Baba O’Riley
  • The Song is Over
  • Behind Blue Eyes
  • Won’t Get Fooled Again

The First Time I Heard This Album …: High school, sometime in the late 80s.

Thoughts: I’m surprised to end up including an album from The Who on the list since they’re not a band that has ever interested me much.  But the Rolling Stone 500 project made me realize that a lot of the songs by The Who that I really do like happen to be on this album.

Bonus Sounds: I think The Who is a band who were probably far more electrifying in live concert performance than on their albums. Do I’ll recommend listening to Live at Leeds for the closet experience to enjoying the band in concert during their prime.


192

Artist: The Velvet Underground
Title: The Velvet Underground 
Year: 1969
Favorite Tracks:

  • What Goes On
  • Pale Blue Eyes
  • Beginning To See The Light
  • The Murder Mystery
  • After Hours

The First Time I Heard This Album …: Last year, Rolling Stone 500

Thoughts: After all these years I’m still kind of surprised that The Velvet Underground can do melodic ballads. There’s a lot of great music on this album that sounds different from the great music on their other albums. There’s also “The Murder Mystery” an esoteric track with different songs being sung and poems recited simultaneously in a harmonic way. I don’t know if I’ve ever heard of anything like that before! I kind of wish Moe Tucker sang lead on more songs.

Bonus Sounds: Another band for whom it’s hard to pick just one album, especially with classics like White Light/White Heat and Loaded in contention.


191

Artist: The Ramones
Title: Rocket to Russia
Year: 1977
Favorite Tracks:

  • Cretin Hop
  • Rockaway Beach
  • Sheena Is A Punk Rocker
  • We’re A Happy Family
  • Teenage Lobotomy

The First Time I Heard This Album …: Last year, Rolling Stone 500

Thoughts: The title Rocket to Russia, seems all to topical now.  The Ramones third album contains some of their most memorable tunes, including my all-time favorite “Sheena is a Punk Rocker.”  It’ll always remind me of when I first discovered The Ramones in the late 80s and realized that I, too, could be a punk rocker.

Bonus Sounds: The title of this album sounds more political than The Ramones’ music typically is, but one of their most political songs ever, “Bonzo Goes to Bitburg” from 1986, is another of my all-time favorites.