Album of the Week: Fossora by Björk


Album: Fossora
Artist: Björk
Release Date: September 30, 2022
Label: One Little Independent
Favorite Tracks:

  • Atopos
  • Victimhood
  • Trölla-Gabba (featuring Kasimyn)
  • Fossora (featuring Kasimyn)
  • Her Mother’s House (featuring Ísadóra Bjarkardóttir Barney)

Thoughts:

Björk returns for a tenth solo album drawing inspiration from the death of her mother in 2018 and the subsequent COVID-19 isolation period.  The album is sort of themed around fungi with the title translated as “digger,” thus Björk is digging up messages of life from the underground.  The music is familiar to Björk’s recent work, mostly down-tempo tracks with swirling clarinets and thumping electronic beats as the bed for Björk’s unique voice.  This all good but I do miss when Björk albums contained some upbeat dance tracks too.  Other voices complement Björk’s  with guest artist including her children Sindri Eldon and Isadora Bjarkardóttir Barney.

Rating: ***

 

Album of the Week:  2022

January

February

March

April

May

July

August

September

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.”

Music Discoveries: Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time 210-201


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:

500-491 400-381 300-291
490-481 390-381 290-281
480-471 380-371 280-271
470-461 370-361 270-261
460-451 360-351 260-251
450-441 350-341 250-241
440-431 340-331 240-231
430-421 330-321 230-221
420-411 320-311 220-211
410-401 310-301

Artist: Ray Charles
Album: The Birth of Soul
Year: 1991
Label: Atlantic
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:

  • “Mess Around”
  • “Don’t You Know”
  • “I’ve Got a Woman”
  • “Hard Times (No One Knows Better Than I)”
  • “Hallelujah, I Love Her So”
  • “You Be My Baby”
  • “The Right Time”
  • “What’d I Say, Pt. 1 & 2”

ThoughtsRolling Stone once again cops out by using an entire box set as a “best album” to represent and all-time great artist.  But Ray Charles’ music is so good, I don’t mind that much.  Besides, he does have an actual original studio album coming up on the list.


Artist: Run-DMC
Album: Raising Hell
Year: 1986
Label: Profile
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:

  • “Peter Piper”
  • “It’s Tricky”
  • “Walk This Way (feat. Aerosmith)”
  • “Raising Hell”
  • “Proud to Be Black”

Thoughts:  This is the first rap album I ever owned and it was the soundtrack to 1986.  As a diehard Mets’ fan, “Kings from Queens, from Queens come Kings” took on extra meaning as the Mets dominated baseball that season. And then the World Series versus the Red Sox was paralleled in the New York vs. Boston clash of Run-DMC and Aerosmith on “Walk This Way.”  (By the way, would you believed I never heard of Aerosmith before their appearance on the Run-DMC cover song?)


Artist: Lil Wayne
AlbumTha Carter III
Year: 2008
Label: Cash Money/Universal Motown
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?:
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Mr. Carter”
  • “Dr. Carter”
  • “Pussy Monster”
  • “DontGetIt”

Thoughts: This is a weird and eclectic collection of music.  The diversity of sounds is a strength although it also means that there are a number of misses among the hits.  I definitely like this more than the last Lil Wayne album I listened to.


Artist: Eagles
Album: Eagles
Year: 1972
Label: Asylum
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?: No
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Nightingale”

Thoughts:


Artist: David Bowie
AlbumLow
Year: 1977
Label: RCA
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:

  • “Sound and Vision”
  • “Be My Wife”
  • “A New Career in a New Town”
  • “Warszawa”
  • “Subterranean”

Thoughts: David Bowie fled to Berlin to reinvent himself again and escape cocaine addiction leading to a trilogy of experimental albums starting with Low. I particularly like the second side of the album where Bowie worked with Brian Eno and Tony Visconti to create atmospheric electronic music.

I previously reviewed Low in my David Bowie Music Discovery.


Artist: Cat Stevens
Album: Tea for the Tillerman
Year: 1970
Label: A&M
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:

  • “Hard Headed Woman”
  • “Wild World”
  • “Miles From Nowhere”
  • “On The Road to Find Out”
  • “Father and Son”

Thoughts: Cat Stevens’ career peaked in the early 1970s and I went to college in the early 90s, but Cat Stevens’ greatest hits collection remained popular among my fellow students.  The Cat Stevens’ songbook was particularly popular among amature guitarists.  This album contains a lot of the hits but is surprisingly a solid and consistent collection emphasizing Steven’s excellent instrumentation and his whisper-to-shout singing style.


Artist: Kanye West
AlbumGraduation
Year: 2007
Label: Roc-A-Fella
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?: No
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Champion”
  • “Stronger”
  • “Flashing Lights”

Thoughts: I have a feeling I’m going to listen to the entire Kanye West catalog by the time this project is through. (Okay, I checked, and only 6 of West’s 9 studio albums released prior to the release of the Rolling Stone 500 are on the list, and his 10th album was released yesterday). I haven’t been a big fan of what I’ve heard so far, but musically each album sounds better than the previous one.  Lyrically, Kanye West just seems to be full of himself.


Artist: Nick Drake
Album: Pink Moon
Year: 1972
Label: Island
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?: No
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Which Will”
  • “Parasite”

Thoughts: Nick Drake, who I have a bad habit of conflating with Nick Lowe, never knew great success as a musician in his lifetime. Pink Moon documents Lowe’s struggle with depression that contributed to his early death two years later.  Drake’s music became a favorite among musicians in the 1990s eventually giving his music more widespread exposure, including most notoriously in a Volkswagen commercial.  Drake’s guitar playing is excellent and it is really interesting how much his music fits the 90s vibe rather than his own time.


Artist: Björk
Album: Homogenic
Year: 1997
Label: Elektra
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:

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

Thoughts: Björk’s 90s albums are uniformly excellent, and I can go back and forth over whether Homogenic or Post is my favorite.  In 2009, I ranked Post higher in My Favorite Albums of All Time list.  Either way, Björk adapts electronica and dance music sounds for really brilliant art rock.


Artist: A Tribe Called Quest
AlbumMidnight Marauders
Year: 1993
Label: Jive
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:

  • “Award Tour”
  • “8 Million Stories”
  • “Electric Relaxation”
  • “Clap Your Hands”
  • “Oh My God”

Thoughts: I can’t tell you why I didn’t listen to A Tribe Called Quest albums at the time they came out, so I guess I’ll just have to own up to the mistake. I feel like I was even going to buy one of their albums but can’t remember why I didn’t pull the trigger.  Anyhow, even 28 years later this album is a great treat from the Golden Age of Hip Hop.


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
  • 417. Ornette Coleman, The Shape of Jazz to Come
  • 416. The Roots, Things Fall Apart
  • 415. The Meters, Looka Py Py
  • 414. Chic, Risqué
  • 413. Creedence Clearwater Revival, Cosmo’s Factory
  • 412. Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, Going to a Go Go
  • 409. Grateful Dead, Workingman’s Dead
  • 408. Motörhead, Ace of Spades
  • 406. Magnetic Fields, 69 Love Songs
  • 405. Various, Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era
  • 403. Ghostface Killah, Supreme Clientele
  • 402. Fela Kuti and Africa 70, Expensive Shit
  • 401. Blondie, Blondie
  • 400. The Go-Go’s, Beauty and the Beat
  • 398. The Raincoats, The Raincoats
  • 397. Billie Eilish, When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?
  • 395. D’Angelo and the Vanguard, Black Messiah
  • 392. Ike and Tina Turner, Proud Mary: The Best of Ike and Tina Turner
  • 390. Pixies, Surfer Rosa
  • 388. Aretha Franklin, Young, Gifted and Black
  • 387. Radiohead, In Rainbows
  • 386. J Dilla, Donuts
  • 385. Ramones, Rocket to Russia
  • 384. The Kinks, The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society
  • 380. Charles Mingus, Mingus Ah Um
  • 378. Run-DMC, Run-D.M.C.
  • 377. Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Fever to Tell
  • 375. Green Day, Dookie
  • 374. Robert Johnson, King of the Delta Blues Singers
  • 373. Isaac Hayes, Hot Buttered Soul
  • 371. The Temptations, Anthology
  • 369. Mobb Deep, The Infamous
  • 368. George Harrison, All Things Must Pass
  • 365. Madvillain, Madvillainy
  • 364. Talking Heads, More Songs About Buildings and Food
  • 363. Parliament, The Mothership Connection
  • 360. Funkadelic, One Nation Under a Groove
  • 358. Sonic Youth, Goo
  • 357. Tom Waits, Rain Dogs
  • 356. Dr. John, Gris-Gris
  • 354. X-Ray Spex, Germfree Adolescents
  • 351. Roxy Music, For Your Pleasure
  • 350. Stevie Wonder, Music of My Mind
  • 349. MC5, Kick Out the Jams
  • 348. Gillian Welch, Time (The Revelator)
  • 347. GZA, Liquid Swords
  • 346. Arctic Monkeys, AM
  • 345. Bruce Springsteen, The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle
  • 344. Toots and the Maytals, Funky Kingston
  • 343. Sly and the Family Stone, Greatest Hits
  • 342. The Beatles, Let It Be
  • 341. The Smashing Pumpkins, Siamese Dream
  • 338. Brian Eno, Another Green World
  • 337.  Bob Dylan, John Wesley Harding
  • 335. Bob Dylan and the Band, The Basement Tapes
  • 334. Santana, Abraxas
  • 333. Bill Withers, Still Bill
  • 332. Elvis Presley, Elvis Presley
  • 330. The Rolling Stones, Aftermath
  • 329. DJ Shadow, Endtroducing…
  • 328. Vampire Weekend, Modern Vampires of the City
  • 326. Prince, Dirty Mind
  • 323.The Clash, Sandinista!
  • 320. X, Los Angeles
  • 319. The Stone Roses, The Stone Roses
  • 317. Billie Holiday, Lady in Satin
  • 316. The Who, The Who Sell Out
  • 310. Wire, Pink Flag
  • 309. Joy Division, Closer
  • 308. Brian Eno, Here Come the Warm Jets
  • 307. Sam Cooke, Portrait of a Legend
  • 306. Al Green, I’m Still In Love With You
  • 304. Bill Withers, Just As I Am
  • 301. New York Dolls, New York Dolls
  • 299. B.B. King, Live at the Regal
  • 297. Peter Gabriel, So
  • 294. Weezer, Weezer
  • 293. The Breeders, Last Splash
  • 292. Van Halen, Van Halen
  • 289.  Björk, Post
  • 288. The Modern Lovers, The Modern Lovers
  • 287. The Byrds, Mr. Tambourine Man
  • 283. Donna Summer, Bad Girls
  • 282. Frank Sinatra, In the Wee Small Hours
  • 279. Nirvana, MTV Unplugged in New York
  • 278. Led Zeppelin, Houses of the Holy
  • 276. Radiohead, The Bends
  • 275. Curtis Mayfield, Curtis
  • 274. The Byrds, Sweetheart of the Rodeo
  • 273. Gang of Four, Entertainment!
  • 272. The Velvet Underground, White Light/White Heat
  • 267. Minutemen, Double Nickels on the Dime
  • 266. The Beatles, Help!
  • 263. The Beatles, A Hard Day’s Night
  • 262. New Order, Power, Corruption & Lies
  • 261. Beastie Boys, Check Your Head
  • 260. The Slits, Cut
  • 259. Janis Joplin, Pearl
  • 257. Dolly Parton, Coat of Many Colors
  • 256. Tracy Chapman, Tracy Chapman
  • 254. Herbie Hancock, Head Hunters
  • 252. Devo, Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo!
  • 250. Buzzcocks, Singles Going Steady
  • 246. LL Cool J, Mama Said Knock You Out
  • 245. Cocteau Twins, Heaven of Las Vegas
  • 242. The Velvet Underground, Loaded
  • 240. Sam Cooke, Live at the Harlem Square Club, 1963
  • 239. Boogie Down Productions, Criminal Minded
  • 238. Kraftwerk, Trans Europe Express
  • 237. Willie Nelson, Red Headed Stranger
  • 236. Daft Punk, Discovery
  • 232. John Coltrane, Giant Steps
  • 229. Patsy Cline, The Ultimate Collection
  • 228. De La Soul, De La Soul Is Dead
  • 227. Little Richard, Here’s Little Richard
  • 226. Derek and the Dominos, Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs
  • 223. John Lennon, Imagine
  • 221. Rage Against the Machine, Rage Against the Machine
  • 220. Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young, Déjà Vu
  • 215.  Grateful Dead, American Beauty
  • 213. Fiona Apple, The Idler Wheel…
  • 212. Nina Simone, Wild is the Wind
  • 211. Joy Division, Unknown Pleasures
  • 210. Ray Charles, The Birth of Soul
  • 209. Run-DMC, Raising Hell
  • 206. David Bowie, Low
  • 205. Cat Stevens, Tea for the Tillerman
  • 202. Björk, Homogenic
  • 201. A Tribe Called Quest, Midnight Marauders

 

Music Discoveries: Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time 290-281


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:

500-491 400-381 300-291
490-481 390-381
480-471 380-371
470-461 370-361
460-451 360-351
450-441 350-341
440-431 340-331
430-421 330-321
420-411 320-311
410-401 310-301

Artist: OutKast
Album: Speakerboxxx/The Love Below
Year: 2003
Label: LaFace
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?: No
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Bowtie (feat. Sleepy Brown & Jazze Pha)”
  • “Spread”
  • “Hey Ya!”

Thoughts: One thing I’m learning from this project is that Southern hip hop may be my favorite form of hip hop.  But this album is a little too much of a good thing.  It’s essentially two albums, one driven by Big Boi and the other by André 3000 for a total of 39 tracks!  I suppose like The White Album, paring it down into one album would have been a Sisyphean task, but I felt like I was enduring this album more than enjoying it.


Artist: Björk
AlbumPost
Year: 1995
Label: Elektra
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:

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

Thoughts: I haven’t listened to Björk in a long while and forgot just how amazingly good this album is.  I ranked Post at #83 on my 2009 list of favorite albums which feels low in retrospect.  Of course, I ranked Homogenic higher as did Rolling Stone, so we’ll see about that when we get there.


Artist: The Modern Lovers
Album: The Modern Lovers
Year: 1976
Label: Beserkley
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:

  • “Roadrunner”
  • “Pablo Picasso”
  • “Modern World”
  • “Government Center”

Thoughts: “Roadrunner” is the unofficial anthem of Massachusetts and one of my all-time favorite songs, but I hadn’t given The Modern Lovers as much attention as they deserved up until now. Jonathan Richman and The Modern Lovers might need to be a future Music Discovery project.


Artist: The Byrds
Album: Mr. Tambourine Man
Year: 1965
Label: Columbia
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:

  • “Mr. Tambourine Man”
  • “I’ll Feel A Whole Lot Better”
  • “The Bells of Rhymney”
  • “I Knew I’d Want You”

Thoughts:  The Byrds covered songs by Bob Dylan and Pete Seeger but I feel that they were at their best with their original songwriting, such as Gene Clark’s “I’ll Feel a Whole Lot Better.” The Byrds were hailed as the mid-60s American response to the British Invasion, but songs like this are timeless.


Artist: Red Hot Chili Peppers
AlbumCalifornication
Year: 1999
Label: Warner Bros.
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:

  • “Scar Tissue”

Thoughts: Red Hot Chili Peppers have always been a band for me that sound good on first listen but my appreciation for them deteriorates on repeat listening.  Unfortunately, Red Hot Chili Peppers are a band that has been overexposed and repeat listenings are impossible to miss.  I’m surprised to see a 1999 album here instead of one of the band’s earlier works since they’d kind of become a parody of themselves by this point. At any rate, this album was just fine to listen to for this project, but knowing what I know, I wouldn’t want to listen to it again.


Artist: Big Star
AlbumThird/Sister Lovers
Year: 1978
Label: PVC
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?: No
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Kizza Me”
  • “Thank You Friends”
  • “Jesus Christ”

Thoughts: Big Star, the ultimate critics’ band, has their entire discography of three albums on this list.  On the previous two albums, I didn’t see what the big deal was, but I’m starting to see the appeal on this album.  Ironically, there isn’t agreement on whether this is even should be a Big Star album as it was mainly a project of band members Alex Chilton and Jody Stephens.  The album has been released under two different names with 7 different track listings.  I’m pretty sure I didn’t listen to the same version ranked by Rolling Stone since “Kanga Roo” was not the last track, but I suppose I got the gist.


Artist: Merle Haggard
Album: Down Every Road 1962-1994
Year:1996
Label: Capitol
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?: No
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Sing Me Back Home”
  • “Mama Tried”
  • “Old Man From The Mountain”

Thoughts: I’ve grumbled before about this list including compilations, but this takes the cake. Down Every Road 1962-1994 is a boxed set with 100 songs on it and almost five hours of material.  How can this even compare with other albums on this list that are discrete collections of an artist’s work from one particular time in their career?  I’ve made the executive decision to instead listen to the 26-track Hag: The Best of Merle Haggard (2006).


Artist: Donna Summer
AlbumBad Girls
Year: 1975
Label: Casablanca
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:

  • “Hot Stuff”
  • “Bad Girls”
  • “Dim All the Lights”

Thoughts: Boston’s own Donna Summer was already the Queen of Music when she took on the music world with this album she could dominate any musical style.  I learned a lot about Donna Summer and gained a lot of respect for her work and influence from listening to the Slate Hit Parade podcast. You can really hear the influence on dance music and electronic music to this day (“Our Love” could’ve been covered by Erasure with little changes). On the downside, the ballads also anticipate cheezy R&B hits of the 1980s, and a number of the songs are overlong and repetitive.

 


Artist: Frank Sinatra
Album: In the Wee Small Hours
Year: 1955
Label: Capitol
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:

  • “In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning”
  • “I See Your Face Before Me”
  • “This Love of Mine”

Thoughts: The LP record was introduced in 1948, and 7 years later Frank Sinatra and Capitol Records innovated how the LP could be used to package a collection of popular music.  In the Wee Small Hours is even called the first concept album since all the songs deal with themes of failed romance, loneliness, and late nights.  Sinatra’s voice sounds great and Nelson Riddle’s arrangements are lushly orchestrated.  The downside is that since every song is slow-tempo and remorseful that there isn’t much variety in the album.


Artist: Harry Nilsson
Album: Nilsson Schmilsson
Year: 1971
Label: RCA
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?: No
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Gotta Get Up”
  • “Jump Into the Fire”

Thoughts: Harry Nilsson is a name I know, primarily from his “Everybody’s Talking” being played repeatedly in Midnight Cowboy.  My first thought listening to this album is that he should have written for Broadway musicals (he didn’t) or have a jukebox musical created of his work (none exists to my knowledge).  His music has been used in lots of movies and tv shows and my feeling that he is similar to Randy Newman is justified by the fact that I found Nilsson actually recorded an entire album of Newman tunes.  Twice on this album, I exclaimed “That’s who sings this song!” for “Without You” and “Coconut.”  Unfortunately, I don’t like either of those songs but the rest of the album is pretty good especially the opening track “Gotta Get Up.”


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
  • 417. Ornette Coleman, The Shape of Jazz to Come
  • 416. The Roots, Things Fall Apart
  • 415. The Meters, Looka Py Py
  • 414. Chic, Risqué
  • 413. Creedence Clearwater Revival, Cosmo’s Factory
  • 412. Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, Going to a Go Go
  • 409. Grateful Dead, Workingman’s Dead
  • 408. Motörhead, Ace of Spades
  • 406. Magnetic Fields, 69 Love Songs
  • 405. Various, Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era
  • 403. Ghostface Killah, Supreme Clientele
  • 402. Fela Kuti and Africa 70, Expensive Shit
  • 401. Blondie, Blondie
  • 400. The Go-Go’s, Beauty and the Beat
  • 398. The Raincoats, The Raincoats
  • 397. Billie Eilish, When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?
  • 395. D’Angelo and the Vanguard, Black Messiah
  • 392. Ike and Tina Turner, Proud Mary: The Best of Ike and Tina Turner
  • 390. Pixies, Surfer Rosa
  • 388. Aretha Franklin, Young, Gifted and Black
  • 387. Radiohead, In Rainbows
  • 386. J Dilla, Donuts
  • 385. Ramones, Rocket to Russia
  • 384. The Kinks, The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society
  • 380. Charles Mingus, Mingus Ah Um
  • 378. Run-DMC, Run-D.M.C.
  • 377. Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Fever to Tell
  • 375. Green Day, Dookie
  • 374. Robert Johnson, King of the Delta Blues Singers
  • 373. Isaac Hayes, Hot Buttered Soul
  • 371. The Temptations, Anthology
  • 369. Mobb Deep, The Infamous
  • 368. George Harrison, All Things Must Pass
  • 365. Madvillain, Madvillainy
  • 364. Talking Heads, More Songs About Buildings and Food
  • 363. Parliament, The Mothership Connection
  • 360. Funkadelic, One Nation Under a Groove
  • 358. Sonic Youth, Goo
  • 357. Tom Waits, Rain Dogs
  • 356. Dr. John, Gris-Gris
  • 354. X-Ray Spex, Germfree Adolescents
  • 351. Roxy Music, For Your Pleasure
  • 350. Stevie Wonder, Music of My Mind
  • 349. MC5, Kick Out the Jams
  • 348. Gillian Welch, Time (The Revelator)
  • 347. GZA, Liquid Swords
  • 346. Arctic Monkeys, AM
  • 345. Bruce Springsteen, The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle
  • 344. Toots and the Maytals, Funky Kingston
  • 343. Sly and the Family Stone, Greatest Hits
  • 342. The Beatles, Let It Be
  • 341. The Smashing Pumpkins, Siamese Dream
  • 338. Brian Eno, Another Green World
  • 337.  Bob Dylan, John Wesley Harding
  • 335. Bob Dylan and the Band, The Basement Tapes
  • 334. Santana, Abraxas
  • 333. Bill Withers, Still Bill
  • 332. Elvis Presley, Elvis Presley
  • 330. The Rolling Stones, Aftermath
  • 329. DJ Shadow, Endtroducing…
  • 328. Vampire Weekend, Modern Vampires of the City
  • 326. Prince, Dirty Mind
  • 323.The Clash, Sandinista!
  • 320. X, Los Angeles
  • 319. The Stone Roses, The Stone Roses
  • 317. Billie Holiday, Lady in Satin
  • 316. The Who, The Who Sell Out
  • 310. Wire, Pink Flag
  • 309. Joy Division, Closer
  • 308. Brian Eno, Here Come the Warm Jets
  • 307. Sam Cooke, Portrait of a Legend
  • 306. Al Green, I’m Still In Love With You
  • 304. Bill Withers, Just As I Am
  • 301. New York Dolls, New York Dolls
  • 299. B.B. King, Live at the Regal
  • 297. Peter Gabriel, So
  • 294. Weezer, Weezer
  • 293. The Breeders, Last Splash
  • 292. Van Halen, Van Halen
  • 289.  Björk, Post
  • 288. The Modern Lovers, The Modern Lovers
  • 287. The Byrds, Mr. Tambourine Man
  • 283. Donna Summer, Bad Girls
  • 282. Frank Sinatra, In the Wee Small Hours

 

Album Review: Utopia by Björk


AlbumUtopia
Artist: Björk
Release Date: 24 November 2017
Favorite Tracks: “Arisen My Senses,” “Blissing Me,” “The Gate,” and “Tabula Rasa”
Thoughts: The latest release from Björk is a dense aural soundscape with the singer’s notable voice layered over musical instruments, electronic noises, and sound effects.  The first three songs are the strongest, with the rest of the album hard to differentiate, although I do like “Tabula Rasa” simply for the novelty of hearing Björk swearing like a sailor. The down tempo nature of the music combined with bird and whale calls makes it all feel like an elaborate nature sounds relaxation tape.  I miss how Björk would incorporate upbeat melodies and dance rhythms into her earlier recordings.  Nevertheless, if you like Björk, this is more of Björk being Björk, and than can never be a bad thing.
Rating: ***

Music Discoveries: Guðbjörg Tómasdóttir’s Top 8 Albums


I’m switching things up this month. Instead of focusing on the musical output of one band or artist, I decided to listen to all the albums on a list of favorite albums from one artist.  That artist is Guðbjörg Tómasdóttir of the duo My Bubba, she being the Icelandic Bubba with her Swedish partner My Larsdotter.  My Bubba have appeared in my Song of the Week posts on two occasions for their tracks “Poem Found in the Pocket of an Amazon” and “Big Bad Good” and the latter song also made my favorite songs of 2016 list.

I found 7 of the 8 albums on streaming services. So here is my venture into Icelandic sometimes folkish, sometimes jazzy, often minimalist, and always vocal oriented popular music

 

ArtistBjörk Guðmundsdóttir & Tríó Guðmundar Ingólfssonar
AlbumGlíng-Gló (1990)
Favorite Tracks: “Kata rokkar,”  “Tondeleyo,”  and “Börnin við tjörnina”
Thoughts: I suspect this isn’t for everyone, but if you find the idea of Björk crooning jazz standards in her native tongue appealing, then this album is for you.
Rating: ***1/2


ArtistEmilíana Torrini
AlbumFisherman’s Woman (2005)
Favorite Tracks: “Nothing Brings Me Down,”  “Today Has Been OK”
Thoughts: If Björk’s voice doesn’t do it for you, Emilíana Torrini’s is more accessible, both ethereal and emotive.  Her style reminds me of the English folk  rock movement of the 1970s but these tracks are accompanied by minimalist guitar.
Rating: ***1/2


ArtistÓlöf Arnalds
AlbumVið Og Við (2007)
Favorite Tracks: “Í Nýju Húsi”
Thoughts: Troubadour-style performances of traditional Icelandic music.  Again, I’m reminded of the folk revival styles of the 60s & 70s, but in Icelandic.
Rating: ***


Artist: Sigurður Guðmundsson og Memfismafían
AlbumOft spurði ég mömmu (2008)
Favorite Tracks: “Lady Fish And Chips” and “Veðrið er herfilegt”
Thoughts: Another retro album described as “old Icelandic popular tunes,” but here “old” sounds like pop songs of the 30s to 50s.  And it’s pretty clear that one of them is “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” which sounds more sexy than creepy in Icelandic.  I can’t find anything on the web about this album in English, but the vocalist has a Frank Sinatra vibe, and the whole album swings.
Rating: ***1/2


ArtistMúgíson 
AlbumHaglél (2011)
Thoughts: This album apparently resonated strongly with the people of Iceland, but I’m not as impressed.  Of course, I know nothing of the lyrics, but musically it sounds like 70s pop songs with maybe a little 90s angst.
Rating: **


ArtistValdimar 
AlbumUndraland (2010)
Favorite Tracks:
Thoughts: Cheerful indie pop. The brass section moves this from mundane to a bit interesting.
Rating:**1/2


Artistamiina
AlbumFantômas (2016)
Favorite Tracks: “Simplon Express” and “Entrepots de Bercy”
Thoughts: This was composed as a score for a 100-year-old silent film, and it’s a beautiful work of minimalist post-rock.  Definitely worth listening to if that’s your bag.
Rating:  ****

 

That’s my music discovery for the month, let me know if there’s something I should be listening to in May by leaving a comment!

Ten Favorite Songs of 1995


The project continues with my favorite songs of 1995.  Read the first post for the detail on this project.

I graduate from college, get a job, and my musical tastes apparently become more obscure.  There are two folk songs in this list with no music or video on the internet.

.

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Born Slippy – Underworld

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Decora –  Yo La Tengo

.

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Doin’ What I Like To Do – Sons Of The Never Wrong

[Cannot be found]

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Down From Above –  Moxy Früvous

.

.

House of Pancake – Swirlies

.

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Hyper-Ballad –  Björk

.

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Natural One – Folk Implosion

.

.

On We Go – Nancy McCallion

.

.

Stories – Maura O’Connell

.

.

This My Town– Eddie From Ohio

[Cannot be found]

.

.

And my song of shame for 1995: Mouth – Merril Bainbridge

Ten Favorite Songs of 1993


The project continues with my favorite songs of 1993.  Read the first post for the detail on this project.

We’re halfway through my life so far.

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.

Anthem – Leonard Cohen

.

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Big Time Sensuality – Björk 

.

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Cannonball – The Breeders

.

.

The Crying Game – Boy George

.

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The Drinking Song – Moxy Früvous

.

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Eurotrash Girl– Cracker

.

.

Girly Loop – Moonshake

.

.

Give It Up – The Goodmen

.

.

Hey Sandy – Polaris

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.
Laid –  James

.

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And my song of shame for 1993: Another Night by Real McCoy

Movie Review: Dancer in the Dark (2000)


In 2019 I found some old Word documents with movie reviews I wrote back before I had a blog. I’m posting each review backdated to the day I wrote it.

Title: Dancer in the Dark
Release Date: December 8, 2000
Director: Lars von Trier
Production Company: Zentropa Entertainments | Canal+ | FilmFour | France 3 Cinéma
Summary/Review:

One of those movies that makes you just want to curl up and die.  Pop musician Bjork plays a Czechoslavakian immigrant and single mother named Selma living in rural Washington in 1964.  She has a degenerative disease that is making her go blind, but she keeps this secret so that she can continue to work in the local factory as well as doing odd jobs on her own time to save up money so her son may get surgery that would prevent him from going blind.  This fable of a mother’s love going to the extremes does seem a bit far-fetched at times, but we’re given the perception that Selma is a woman of great integrity.  Selma’s only escape is through her love of Hollywood musicals, and more and more frequently as her situation in the movie deteriorates into greater suffering we see her in imagined musical settings.  The musical numbers themselves are, well, odd.  Not quite parody, I would say, but perhaps a line of dialogue spoken by one of the characters in the film “ordinary people don’t break out into singing and dancing” explains why the characters do not sing or dance well, and the songs contain rather pedestrian lyrics.  But the musical numbers do have their own certain charm and offer insight into Selma’s mind.  The later part of the film is both really depressing, but also overly manipulative as we learn that much of what Selma says and does early in the film is used to discredit her character as she is tried and put to death for murder.  And I won’t even go into the murder scene itself, as it was unspeakably disturbing to watch.  It’s arty and tends to drag a bit but worth watching as it is both beautifully filmed and thought-provoking.

Rating: ***