Music Discoveries: Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time 430-421


Last September, Rolling Stone magazine released their most recent list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, which includes a greater variety of artists and genres than previous lists. Looking through the list, there were many albums I’d never listened to before and a few I’d never even heard of. In fact, counting it up, I found that I’d only listened to 140 of the albums, although I’d heard songs from many more. So I’ve decided my project for 2021 is to listen to 10 albums each week and write up some thoughts about each one.

Previous Posts:

Get ready for a great week as I love all ten albums!!!


 

Artist: Elvis Costello
AlbumMy Aim Is True
Year: 1977
Label: Columbia
Have I Listened to This Album Before?: Yes
Am I Familiar With This Artist/Songs from This Album?: Yes
Would I Listen to this Album Again?: Yes
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Alison”
  • “(The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes”
  • “Less Than Zero”
  • “Mystery Dance”
  • “Watching the Detectives”

Thoughts: It’s a sign of a good album if several tracks are in regular rotation on the radio decades later.  Although in the case of Elvis Costello, I feel that he has a lot of good work from other albums that doesn’t get the attention it deserves. Thus the popular perception of Costello is frozen in his debut album as a pub rocker with hints of the coming New Wave.  Still, it’s good to have your first work be so fully realized that it’s still relevant well into the next century.


Artist: The Four Tops
AlbumReach Out
Year: 1967
Label:  Tamla/Motown
Have I Listened to This Album Before?: No
Am I Familiar With This Artist/Songs from This Album?: Yes
Would I Listen to this Album Again?: Yes
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Reach Out, I’ll Be There”
  • “Standing in the Shadows of Love”
  • “Bernadette”
  • “What Else is There to Do (But Think About You)”

Thoughts: Based on patterns in the RS 500, I would’ve suspected that The Four Tops would’ve have got a compilation album on this list.  I guess since this album spawned 6 songs in the Billboard Top 20 that Rolling Stone can consider it a Greatest Hits album.  The album contains three of the Tops’ greatest tunes in “Reach Out, I’ll Be There,” “Standing in the Shadows of Love,” and “Bernadette” (all by the Holland-Dozier-Holland songwriting team).  Much of the rest of the album is made up of cover songs of contemporary pop tunes, including two made famous by The Monkees.  While I’d prefer more songs written for the Tops, I understand why they felt the need to do cover songs, and really admire their work as song interpreters.


Artist: Hüsker Dü
AlbumNew Day Rising
Year: 1985
Label: SST
Have I Listened to This Album Before?: No
Am I Familiar With This Artist/Songs from This Album?: Yes
Would I Listen to this Album Again?: Yes
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”

Thoughts: I’m afraid that most of my knowledge of Hüsker Dü is that they are the other 80s punk rock band from Minneapolis and the band where Bob Mould got his start. It’s another case of something I should have paid better attention to a long time ago.  This album just plain rocks and sounds perfect on first listen.


Artist: Al Green
AlbumCall Me
Year: 1973
Label: Hi
Have I Listened to This Album Before?: No
Am I Familiar With This Artist/Songs from This Album?: Yes
Would I Listen to this Album Again?: Yes
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Call Me (Come Back Home”
  • “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry”
  • “Here I Am (Come and Take Me)”
  • “Funny How Time Slips Away”
  • “You Ought to Be With Me”
  • “Jesus Is Waiting”

Thoughts: The second Al Green album on this list is Al Green at his peak with hot grooves and sultry vocals.  I like that he could take country songs by Hank Williams and Willie Nelson and make them his own.  And somehow he made the gospel song that finishes out the album sound sexy.


Artist: Lucinda Williams
AlbumLucinda Williams
Year: 1988
Label: Rough Trade
Have I Listened to This Album Before?: No
Am I Familiar With This Artist/Songs from This Album?: No
Would I Listen to this Album Again?: Yes
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Big Red Sun Blues”
  • “Like A Rose”
  • “Passionate Kisses”
  • “Side of the Road”

Thoughts: Lucinda Williams is a name I’ve heard but I hadn’t before paid attention to her music.  She has a big, beautiful, and expressive voice that works well with the blend of country, folk, and blues music presented here.  I also discovered that Mary Chapin Carpenter’s big 90s hit “Passionate Kisses” was a cover, because the original is here on Williams’ album and it’s excellent.  Lucinda Williams is another great revelation for me in this RS 500 experiment.


Artist: Paul Simon
Album: Paul Simon
Year: 1972
Label: Columbia
Have I Listened to This Album Before?: Yes
Am I Familiar With This Artist/Songs from This Album?: Yes
Would I Listen to this Album Again?: Yes
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Mother and Child Reunion”
  • “Run That Body Down”
  • “Me and Julio Down By The Schoolyard”
  • “Paranoia Blues”

Thoughts: I’ve long listened to the music of Paul Simon and Simon & Garfunkel, although less so in recent years (partially because I’ve learned how much of a jerk is in real life).  Nevertheless, I can’t deny that this is a collection of well-crafted songs.  The music is stylistically different from the most recent Simon & Garfunkel album, and contains hints of the “world music” fusion style that would become Simon’s bread & butter in the 80s & 90s.


Artist: Beck
AlbumOdelay
Year: 1996
Label: Geffen
Have I Listened to This Album Before?: Yes
Am I Familiar With This Artist/Songs from This Album?: Yes
Would I Listen to this Album Again?: Yes
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Devil’s Haircut”
  • “Hotwax”
  • “The New Pollution”
  • “Novacane”
  • “Jack-Ass”
  • “Where It’s At”
  • “Minus”
  • “High 5 (Rock the Catskills)”

Thoughts: Not only did I wear out my cassette of this album back in the day, but it ranked #78 on my own list of Favorite Albums of All Time when I ranked them back in 2009.  This album was a statement from Beck that he was not going to be the guy who had a quirky hit with “Loser.”  Instead there were a few years there in the late 90s and early 2000s when Beck’s unique fusion of folk rock and electronica (among other genres) was some of the most creative music around.  I’m surprised that Odelay is the only Beck album on the RS 500 as I would argue for inclusion of Mutations and Guero, and possibly others from his catalog.


Artist: Yo La Tengo
Album: I Can Hear the Heart Beating As One
Year: 1997
Label: Matador
Have I Listened to This Album Before?: Yes
Am I Familiar With This Artist/Songs from This Album?: Yes
Would I Listen to this Album Again?: Yes
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Moby Octopad”
  • “Sugarcube”
  • “Shadows”
  • “Stockholm Syndrome”
  • “Autumn Sweater”
  • “Center of Gravity”
  • “My Little Corner of the World”

Thoughts: Once again, we have an album that I included on my Favorite Albums of All-Time list.  I ranked I Can Hear the Heart Beating As One at #17, the highest of 4 Yo La Tengo albums in my top 200. Obviously I like Yo La Tengo, who I think were one of the best bands of the 1990s. And I wasn’t even a record store clerk.


Artist: Marvin Gaye
Album: Let’s Get It On 
Year: 1973
Label: Tamla/Motown
Have I Listened to This Album Before?: Yes
Am I Familiar With This Artist/Songs from This Album?: Yes
Would I Listen to this Album Again?: Yes
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Let’s Get it On”
  • “Come Get to This”
  • “You Sure Love to Ball”
  • “Just to Keep You Satisfied”

Thoughts: Marvin Gaye puts the most courteous and persuasive request for sexual intercourse to music.  The album explores the spiritual and healing powers of sexuality with the same consciousness of Gaye’s social justice songs on What’s Going On? The only flaw with this album is that it’s way too short.


Artist: M.I.A.
Album: Arular
Year: 2005
Label: Interscope
Have I Listened to This Album Before?: No
Am I Familiar With This Artist/Songs from This Album?: Yes
Would I Listen to this Album Again?:
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Pull Up the People”
  • “Bucky Done Gun”
  • “U.R.A.Q.T”
  • “Galang”

Thoughts: My knowledge of M.I.A. is basically the excellent hit song “Paper Planes,” but I really enjoyed listening to Arular.  This is M.I.A.’s debut album (why does the RS 500 seem to value debut albums so much?) and shows her talent rapping over largely minimal drum beats on a drum machine. It reminds of a mix of the simple hip hop of the early 80s with the consciousness of the likes of Public Enemy and De La Soul.


Running List of Albums I’d Listen to Again

  • 500. Arcade Fire, Funeral
  • 498. Suicide, Suicide
  • 497. Various Artists, The Indestructible Beat of Soweto
  • 494. The Ronettes, Presenting the Fabulous Ronettes
  • 489. A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector from Phil Spector and Various Artists, Back to Mono (1958-1969)
  • 487. Black Flag, Damaged
  • 485, Richard and Linda Thompson, I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight
  • 483, Muddy Waters, The Anthology
  • 482, The Pharcyde, Bizarre Ride II the Pharcyde
  • 481, Belle and Sebastian, If You’re Feeling Sinister
  • 478, The Kinks, Something Else by the Kinks
  • 477, Howlin’ Wolf, Moanin’ in the Moonlight
  • 469, Manu Chao, Clandestino
  • 465, King Sunny Adé, The Best of the Classic Years
  • 464, The Isley Brothers, 3 + 3
  • 462, The Flying Burrito Brothers, The Gilded Palace of Sin
  • 459, Kid Cudi, Man on the Moon: The End of the Day
  • 457, Sinéad O’Connor, I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got
  • 456, Al Green, Greatest Hits
  • 455, Bo Diddley, Bo Diddley/Go Bo Diddley
  • 453, Nine Inch Nails, Pretty Hate Machine
  • 452, Diana Ross and the Supremes, Anthology
  • 451, Roberta Flack, First Take
  • 448, Otis Redding, Dictionary of Soul
  • 446, Alice Coltrane, Journey in Satchidanada
  • 444, Fiona Apple, Extraordinary Machine
  • 443, David Bowie, Scary Monsters
  • 440, Loretta Lynn, Coal Miner’s Daughter
  • 439, James Brown, Sex Machine
  • 438, Blur, Parklife
  • 437, Primal Scream, Screamadelica
  • 435, Pet Shop Boys, Actually
  • 433, LCD Soundsystem, Sound of Silver
  • 431, Los Lobos, How Will the Wolf Survive?
  • 430, Elvis Costello, My Aim Is True
  • 429, The Four Tops, Reach Out
  • 428, Hüsker Dü, New Day Rising
  • 427, Al Green, Call Me
  • 426, Lucinda Williams, Lucinda Williams
  • 425, Paul Simon, Paul Simon
  • 424, Beck, Odelay
  • 423, Yo La Tengo, I Can Hear the Heart Beating As One
  • 422, Marvin Gaye, Let’s Get It On
  • 421, M.I.A., Arular

A Song and a Story: “Qué Onda Guero” #AtoZChallenge


For the letter Q, I have more of a vignette than a story, but first listen to the song by Beck:

Qué Onda Guero

I’ve written before in this series that I grew up in the suburbs of New York and visited the City often during my childhood.  One of images I remember is passing through the predominately Puerto Rican neighborhoods of Manhattan and the Bronx, and seeing the bustling activity on the sidewalks and the overlapping sounds and music.  Everything was so different from my neighborhood.  Years later when I heard “Qué Onda Guero” by Beck, I was impressed at how the song seemed to capture this whole scene in a song.  Turns out that Beck was a white kid growing up in Los Angeles at the same time I was growing up on the other coast and his experience in Latin American neighborhoods inspired this song.  In fact, the title of the song is a slang term meaning “What’s up, white boy?”


 

2019 Blogging A to Z Challenge – A Song and a Story

A: Always on My Mind
B: Baby Come Back and Baker Street
C: Cheek to Cheek
D: Don’t Worry, Be Happy and Doctor Jones
E: Everyday Sunshine
F: Fly Me to the Moon
G: Ghost Town
H: Hobo Humpin’ Slobo Babe
I: If I Were John Carpenter
J: Jungle Strut and Justified & Ancient
K: Kiss
L: Loaded
M: Marble Halls and My Moon, My Man
N: New York, New York
O: Oliver’s Army
P: The Parting Glass

If you want to read more, check out my previous Blogging A to Z Challenges:

And dig deep into Panorama of the Mountains, by checking out my:

And, if you like Doctor Who, I have a whole ‘nother blog where I review Doctor Who stories across media: Epic Mandates.

Album Review: Colors by Beck


Album: Colors
Artist: Beck
Release Date: October 13, 2017
Favorite Tracks: Nothing stands out
Thoughts: I’ve been a Beck fan since he emerged on the scene in the 1990s and even once performed in a Beck choral performance, so I had to check out this new album.  And it is rather dull.  Nothing offensive about it, it features upbeat pop tunes that may sound good in the background at a party, but nothing you’d want to come back to.  So it’s ok, but disappointing for Beck who has done better.
Rating: **

2013 Year in Review: Favorite Songs


With the top ten or so songs listed for every year of my existence, it’s time for the year-end review of my favorite songs of 2013.

For previous year-end lists of previous years check out my lists for 2012,  2011,  2010  and  2009.

I’ve featured many of this songs in my Song of the Week posts this year.  If you see a link from a song title it will take you back to the Song of the Week post for that song.

San Francisco – Foxygen

That’s ok, I was bored anyway

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GMF – John Grant

You could be laughing 65% more of the time

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.Number 9 – Moon Hooch

Please stand away from the platform edge

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A Tattered Line of String – The Postal Service

In the glow of the nights golden hue

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Fam Jam (Fe Sum Immigrins) – Shad

Now when you’re Third World born, but First World formed/
Sometimes you feel pride, sometimes you feel torn

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White Foxes – Susanne Sundfør 

For the gravy of your soul

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Indians From All Directions – A Tribe Called Red feat. Das Racist

To the L to the L to the L to the Ella

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Delicate Cycle – The Uncluded

And my heart started with a quarter

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Step – Vampire Weekend

The truth is she doesn’t need me to protect her

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Slyd – !!!

No, that’s weird

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Honorable Mentions:

Song Most Often Played at the Request of My 5 y.o. Son:

Feel this Moment – Pitbull feat. Christina Aguilera

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Funniest Viral Song that You Can Dance To:

The Fox – Ylvis

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Best Boston History Lesson Set to Music:

The Great Boston Molasses Flood – The Dead Milkmen

[Listen on The Dead Milkmen website]

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Best Drunken Barroom Sing-a-Long of a Traditional American Folk Song:

Shenandoah – Tom Waits w/ Keith Richards

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Scariest Song You Can Dance To:

The Terror – Flaming Lips

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Best Song That I Was A Part Of Creating With a Video That’s Not Safe For Work:

The Wolf is on the Hill – Beck (arranged by Krissy Skare, performed by a 50 voice chorus, choreography by Sugar Dish)

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Let me know what you think of these songs in the comments, and of course, let me know you’re favorites for 2013

Ten Favorite Songs of 2005


The project continues with my favorite songs of 2005.  Read the first post for the detail on this project.

The Charging Sky – Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins

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Jogando Capoeira – Beatfanatic

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Marty & Lou – Peter Mulvey

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Psyclone! –  Super Furry Animals

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Qué Onda Guero – Beck

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Sing Me Spanish Techno – The New Pornographers

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The Sporting Life – The Decemberists

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Sundress – Nolan McKelvey and 33

[you may hear a clip]

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Tribulations – LCD Soundsystem

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And my song of shame for 2005: Since U Been Gone – Kelly Clarkson

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Ten Favorite Songs of 1996


The project continues with my favorite songs of 1996.  Read the first post for the detail on this project.

Hell –  Squirrel Nut Zippers

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Novacaine for the Soul – Eels

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The Ocean –  Dar Williams

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Sacre Francais – Dimitri From Paris

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6 Underground – Sneaker Pimps

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Wasted With The Cooper – Velveteens

[Too obscure for the internet. Ska bands singing about Colonial Williamsburg should get more exposure]

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What I Got – Sublime

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Where it’s At –  Beck

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Whoever You Are – Geggy Tah

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Les Yper-Sound – Stereolab

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And my song of shame for 1996: Macarena by Los Del Rio

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Did you listen to anything better in 1996?  Let me know in the comments.

Ten Favorite Songs of 1994


The project continues with my favorite songs of 1994.  Read the first post for the detail on this project.

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Buddy Holly – Weezer

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Closer – Nine Inch Nails

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A Girl Like You – Edwyn Collins

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It’s Your Life – Milla

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Least Complicated –  Indigo Girls

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Loser – Beck

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A Summer Wind, a Cotton Dress –  Richard Shindell

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Wandering Star – Portishead

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Warehouse – Dave Matthews Band

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Whip-Smart – Liz Phair

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And by song  of shame for 1994: Shoop – Salt N Pepa

Songs of the Week: Beck’s Song Reader Performed Live


The songs in my head this week, of course, are the songs I’m rehearsing for a concert called Beck’s Song Reader Performed Live.  The show is next Thursday, February 28, 2013 at Somerville Theatre in Davis Square (on the Red Line) at 8:00.  Beck released his 2012 album Song Reader entirely as sheet music, and 150 of Boston’s best musicians, dancers, and performance artists will be presenting their interpretations of all 20 songs.  My choir will perform an arrangement of one song a capella and provide accompaniment to four other songs.

Get your tickets now for $25/seat as this show is sure to sell out!

The choral centerpiece is a song called “The Wolf is on the Hill.”  In this video, you may hear us rehearsing a couple of weeks ago.  We sound even better now.  At the end of this clip you can also hear a small portion of “Title of the Song” which is the grand finale of the concert.

The choir is also accompanying Sarah Ribdau and Peter Moore on their rendition of “Please Leave the Light On When You Go” and Peter Moore’s take of “Heaven’s Ladder”:

The choir is participating on a fifth song as well, “Don’t Act Like Your Heart Isn’t Hard” by Molly Zenobia.  This may be my favorite of all the songs I’ve heard, but you’ll have to take my word for it and come to the concert to hear it, because there is no demo.

Some other songs you will hear at the concert include:

  • “Why Did You Make Me Care” by Mary Bichner:

  • “Now That Your Dollar Bills Have Sprouted Wings” by The Highland Drifters
  • “Sorry” by Endation
  • “Old Shanghai” by Mary Bichner

This barely scratches the surface, as there will be a dozen more songs plus choreographed dance performances for each number.

So buy your tickets now!!!

Beck’s Song Reader Concert


Next week, I will singing in a 50-person kick-ass choir as part of a concert called Beck’s Song Reader Performed Live.  The show is next Thursday, February 28, 2013 at Somerville Theatre in Davis Square (on the Red Line) at 8:00.  Beck released his 2012 album Song Reader entirely as sheet music, and 150 of Boston’s best musicians, dancers, and performance artists will be presenting their interpretations of all 20 songs.  My choir will perform an arrangement of one song a capella and provide accompaniment to four other songs.  Get your tickets now for $25/seat as this show is sure to sell out!

Beck_Poster_72