Favorite Albums of All Time: 100-91


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
230-221 180-171 130-121
220-211 170-161 120-111
210-201 160-151 110-101

 

100

Artist: Joy Division
Title:Unknown Pleasures
Year: 1979
Favorite Tracks:

  • Disorder
  • New Dawn Fades
  • She’s Lost Control
  • Shadowplay
  • Interzone

The First Time I Heard This Album …: Last year, although I think I’ve heard it in dribs & drabs going back to my college days

Thoughts: Before it was t-shirt, the cover of Unknown Pleasures contained one of the great albums of the Punk Rock era.  The album sounds like it could’ve been recorded by an indie band within the past decade, which is sign of either how far ahead of the time Joy Division was or how rock music has been frozen stylistically for some time

Bonus Sounds: Joy Division released only two albums and their follow-up from 1980, Closer, is also excellent.


99

Artist: Stevie Wonder
Title: Fulfillingness’ First Finale 
Year: 1974
Favorite Tracks:

  • Heaven Is 10 Zillion Light Years Away
  • Boogie On Reggae Woman
  • You Haven’t Done Nothin’
  • It Ain’t No Use
  • They Won’t Go When I Go
  • Please Don’t Go

The First Time I Heard This Album …: 2016

Thoughts: A somber and less-optimistic album for Stevie Wonder, both musically and lyrically, compared with its predecessors. A strong gospel influence runs through the album alongside funk, soul, and jazz improvisation.

Bonus Sounds:  There’s more Stevie Wonder to come in this countdown, but don’t sleep on Stevie’s early 70s albums Where I’m Coming From (1971) and Music of My Mind (1972).


98

Artist: RUN-DMC
Title: Raising Hell
Year: 1986
Favorite Tracks:

  • Peter Piper
  • It’s Tricky
  • Walk This Way
  • Raising Hell
  • Proud to be Black

The First Time I Heard This Album …: 1986

Thoughts: This was the first rap album I ever owned and it’s still one of my favorites.  The funny thing is that I never heard of Aerosmith before their collaboration with RUN-DMC on “Walk this Way.”

Bonus Sounds: RUN-DMC’s eponymous debut album from 1983 is also a milestone of hip hop.


97

Artist: Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings
Title: 100 Days, 100 Nights
Year:  2007
Favorite Tracks:

  • 100 Days, 100 Nights
  • Let Them Knock
  • Humble Me
  • Keep on Looking
  • Answer Me

The First Time I Heard This Album …: Early 2010s

Thoughts: Sharon Jones’ confident voice brings retro-soul sounds into the present.

Bonus Sounds: Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings shined like a bright star in their brief career before Jones’ death in 2016.  Check out my thoughts on their discography here.


96

Artist: David Bowie
Title: The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars
Year: 1972
Favorite Tracks:

  • Five Years
  • Moonage Daydream
  • Starman
  • Lady Stardust
  • Ziggy Stardust
  • Suffragette City

The First Time I Heard This Album …: 2016

Thoughts: This concept album offers a lot to chew on regarding  aliens, fictional rock stars, and impending doom.  Musically it’s a compilation of rock and roll styles bridging rockabilly to punk rock.  Another classic.

Bonus Sounds: There’s more Bowie to come although his discography is full of treasures.  Check out On Bowie by Rob Sheffield for a fan’s experience with Bowie’s music


95

Artist: Weezer
Title: Weezer
Year: 1994
Favorite Tracks:

  • My Name Is Jonas
  • The World Has Turned and Left Me Here
  • Buddy Holly
  • Undone – The Sweater Song
  • Say It Ain’t So
  • In the Garage
  • Only in Dreams

The First Time I Heard This Album …: 1994

Thoughts: Weezer’s debut came toward the end of the peak of the alternative rock era and featured songs and lyrics that the nerds among us could relate to set to quasi-metal guitar riffs.  It still sounds fresh today.

Bonus Sounds: Weezer is notoriously hated for not being as good as they once were, but I’ve enjoyed listening to Pinkerton (1996), Weezer (Green Album) (2001), and Maladroit (2002).


94

Artist: St. Vincent
Title: St. Vincent
Year:  2014
Favorite Tracks:

  • Birth in Reverse
  • Huey Newton
  • Digital Witness
  • I Prefer Your Love
  • Severed Crossed Fingers

The First Time I Heard This Album …: 2014

Thoughts: Annie Clark had released some great music prior to this eponymous album, but it really blue me away with it’s crunching guitars, catchy riffs, and esoteric lyrics.

Bonus Sounds: Actor (2009) and Strange Mercy (2011) are also excellent albums.


93

Artist: The Halluci Nation
Title:We Are the Halluci Nation
Year: 2016
Favorite Tracks:

  • R.E.D.
  • The Virus
  • Sila
  • Maima Koopi
  • How I Feel

The First Time I Heard This Album …: 2016

Thoughts: The Halluci Nation, originally known as A Tribe Called Red, mix indigenous pow wow music with hip hop beats. This concept album is strong social justice statement on the effects of colonization on aboriginal peoples.

Bonus Sounds: A Tribe Called Red (2012), Nation II Nation (2013), and One More Saturday Night (2021) are also excellent collections


92

Artist: The B‐52’s
Title:The B‐52’s
Year:1979
Favorite Tracks:

  • Planet Claire
  • 52 Girls
  • Dance This Mess Around
  • Rock Lobster

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

Thoughts: I first listened to this album after The B-52s more commercial success with Cosmic Thing and it was mindblowing just how weird it was.  But it’s brilliantly weird.

Bonus Sounds: The B-52s’ follow-up album Wild Planet (1980) and of course, Cosmic Thing (1989), are also classic albums.


91

Artist: The Operators 
TitleCitizens Band
Year:2002
Favorite Tracks:

  • Bottle
  • Rock City
  • Running Late
  • The Tarpit
  • The Old Man Doesn’t Like It
  • Xxer
  • Parasite Rex
  • Victoria

The First Time I Heard This Album …: 2002

Thoughts: This is another of my more obscure choices.  The members of the Operators were friends of a friend who participated in musical collective called Handstand Command based in Somerville, MA.  In fact, I was on an adult kickball team with one of The Operators. Anyway, I really loved this melodic postpunk collection and wish I’d picked up another one of their albums while I’d had the chance.

Bonus Sounds: I got nothin’!

Music Discoveries: Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time 40-31


In September 2020, 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:

500-491 400-381 300-291 200-191 100-91
490-481 390-381 290-281 190-181 90-81
480-471 380-371 280-271 180-171 80-71
470-461 370-361 270-261 170-161 70-61
460-451 360-351 260-251 160-151 60-51
450-441 350-341 250-241 150-141 50-41
440-431 340-331 240-231 140-131
430-421 330-321 230-221 130-121
420-411 320-311 220-211 120-111
410-401 310-301 210-201 110-101

Artist: David Bowie
Album: The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars
Year: 1972
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:

  • “Five Years”
  • “Moonage Daydream”
  • “Starman”
  • “Lady Stardust”
  • “Ziggy Stardust”
  • “Suffragette City”

Thoughts: This concept album offers a lot to chew on regarding aliens, fictional rock stars, and impending doom. Musically it’s a compilation of rock and roll styles bridging rockabilly to punk rock. A definite Bowie classic.


Artist: Talking Heads
Album: Remain In Light
Year: Sire
Label: 1980
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:

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

Thoughts: It’s kind of appropriate for Talking Heads to follow David Bowie since they both took their own form of weirdness and made it so compelling that it forced the mainstream to accept them.  The Heads merged New Wave and avant garde music with African polyrhythms and funk grooves to create an album that was both art rock and commercially accessible.


Artist: Bob Dylan
Album: Blonde on Blonde
Year: Columbia
Label: 1966
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:

  • “Rainy Day Women #12 and #35”
  • “Pledging My Time”
  • “Most Likely You’ll Go Your Way (And I’ll Go Mine)”

Thoughts: I’ve been pleasantly surprised by some of the Bob Dylan albums on this list, but this one meets my preconceived notion of Dylan as someone singing SAT vocabulary words in a nasally voice.  It is a surprise that most of the songs are blues tunes as well as some more traditional folk love ballads.  The opening track is a classic, but most of this album gets a “meh” from me.


Artist: Dr. Dre
Album: The Chronic
Year: 1992
Label: Death Row
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:

  • “The Day the N****z Took Over”
  • “Lil’ Ghetto Boy”
  • “Lyrical Gangbang”
  • “Stranded on Death Row”

Thoughts: Hip hop producer Dr. Dre makes his performing debut album with Snoop Dogg also making a significant early career appearance as a featured rapper.  No doubt this is an historic collaboration.  Beyond that I had the realization that internet staples like “beeotch” and “deez nuts” probably had their origin here.  Overall I found the misogyny and n-words too much, and probably enjoyed the tracks best when I liked the sample sources of artists like Parliament, Funkadelic, James Brown, Donny Hathaway, and Isaac Hayes.


Artist: Michael Jackson
AlbumOff The Wall
Year: 1979
Label: Epic
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:

  • “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough”
  • “Rock With You”

Thoughts: Michael Jackson was at his peak of fame and talent during the impressionable years of my childhood.  And I felt like the only kid who wasn’t gaga for Michael Jackson.  Later in life I came to appreciate his work as an artist even if it wasn’t the first thing I’d chose to listen to.  That was followed revelations that Jackson was a bad, perhaps even evil, person who harmed children making me even less willing to reevaluate his music. Anyhow, I kind of like Jackson’s hits on this album more than his bigger hits on Thriller, but we’ll get to that later.


Artist: The Beatles
AlbumRubber Soul
Year: 1965
Label: Parlophone
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:

  • “Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)”
  • “Nowhere Man”
  • “Think for Yourself”
  • “The Word”
  • “Girl”
  • “I’m Looking Through You”
  • “In My Life”
  • “If I Needed Someone”

Thoughts: It kind of boggles the mind that in the years 1963-1965, the Beatles averaged two new albums per year plus singles and eps, toured the world, and made two movies.  And yet their 6th album, released at the end of 1965, shows no sign of exhaustion and decline.  Instead the band were beginning their transition to a studio band with inventive new song stylings and production.  One demerit for ending this album with “Run For Your Life,” a hateful stalker song.


Artist: Stevie Wonder
Album: Innervisions
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:

  • “Living for the City”
  • “Higher Ground”
  • “All In Love Is Fair”
  • “He’s Misstra Know-It-All”

Thoughts: This album features a jazzier sound for Stevie Wonder with some funk overtones. I found it not as consistent as his previous albums with some valleys and peaks, but when the peaks are “Living for the City” and “Higher Ground” they are some mighty fine peaks!  Also, “He’s Misstra Know-It-All” is a song about a bad President that became all-too-relevant again in recent memory.


Artist: Amy Winehouse
Album: Back to Black
Year: 2006
Label: Island
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:

  • “Rehab”
  • “You Know I’m No Good”
  • “Back to Black”
  • “Tears Dry On Their Own”

Thoughts: I’m so happy to see Amy Winehouse’s classic album ranked so highly in this RS 500.  Winehouse’s personal troubles and tragic death have overshadowed her remarkable talent and the perfection of this album. I remember first hearing “You Know I’m No Good” back in 2007 and being blown away and I still feel the same listening to this album today.


Artist: Beyoncé
AlbumLemonade
Year: Parkwood/Columbia
Label: 2016
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:

  • “Hold Up”
  • “Sorry”
  • “6 Inch”
  • “Freedom”

Thoughts: I wasn’t all that attentive to Beyoncé’s music until 2016 when Lemonade forced me to pay attention.  I suppose some people will argue that this album is too recent to be ranked #32, but really from the first time I heard it I knew it was an instant classic. It definitely deserves a spot among the best albums of all time.


Artist: Miles Davis
AlbumKind of Blue
Year: 1959
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:

  • “So What”
  • “Freddie Freeloader”
  • “All Blues”

Thoughts: Miles Davis, trumpeter and composer, made some of the most brilliant jazz music ever.  Listen to this album to find out.


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
  • 198. The B-52’s, The B-52’s
  • 197. The Beatles, Meet the Beatles!
  • 195. Leonard Cohen, Songs of Leonard Cohen
  • 193. Creedence Clearwater Revival, Willy and the Poor Boys
  • 192. Beastie Boys, Licensed to Ill
  • 191. Etta James, At Last!
  • 190. The Who, Tommy
  • 189. Sleater-Kinney, Dig Me Out
  • 185. The Rolling Stones, Beggars Banquet
  • 184. Cyndi Lauper, She’s So Unusual
  • 181. Bob Dylan, Bringing It All Back Home
  • 178. Otis Redding, Otis Blue
  • 177. Rod Stewart, Every Picture Tells a Story
  • 176. Public Enemy, Fear of a Black Planet
  • 175. Kendrick Lamar, DAMN.
  • 174. Jimmy Cliff and Various Artists, The Harder They Come: Original Soundtrack
  • 173. Nirvana, In Utero
  • 172. Simon and Garfunkel, Bridge Over Troubled Water
  • 171. Sonic Youth, Daydream Nation
  • 170. Cream, Disraeli Gears
  • 169. Billy Joel, The Stranger
  • 167. Depeche Mode, Violator
  • 166. Buddy Holly, 20 Golden Greats
  • 165. R.E.M., Murmur
  • 164. Johnny Cash, At Folsom Prison
  • 162. Pulp, Different Class
  • 161. Crosby, Stills & Nash, Crosby, Stills, & Nash
  • 156. The Replacements, Let it Be
  • 155. Jay-Z, The Black Album
  • 154. Aretha Franklin, Amazing Grace
  • 153. PJ Harvey, Rid of Me
  • 150. Bruce Springsteen, Nebraska
  • 149. John Prine, John Prine
  • 148. Frank Ocean, Channel Orange
  • 146. Blondie, Parallel Lines
  • 144. Led Zeppelin, Physical Graffiti
  • 143. The Velvet Underground, The Velvet Underground
  • 142. Bruce Springsteen, Born in the U.S.A.
  • 141. Pixies, Doolittle
  • 140. Bob Marley and the Wailers, Catch a Fire
  • 139. Black Sabbath, Paranoid
  • 138. Madonna, The Immaculate Collection
  • 137. Adele, 21
  • 136. Funkadelic, Maggot Brain
  • 135. U2, The Joshua Tree
  • 134. Fugees, ‘he Score
  • 132. Hank Williams, 40 Greatest Hits
  • 131. Portishead, Dummy
  • 130. Prince, 1999
  • 127. Ray Charles, Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music
  • 125. Beastie Boys, Paul’s Boutique
  • 124. U2, Achtung Baby
  • 123. Led Zeppelin, Led Zeppelin II
  • 122. Nine Inch Nails, The Downward Spiral
  • 121. Elvis Costello, This Year’s Model
  • 120. Van Morrison, Moondance
  • 119. Sly and the Family Stone, Stand!
  • 116. The Cure, Disintegration
  • 114. The Strokes, Is This It
  • 113. The Smiths, The Queen Is Dead
  • 111. Janet Jackson, Control
  • 109. Lou Reed, Transformer
  • 108. Fiona Apple, When the Pawn …
  • 107. Television, Marquee Moon
  • 104. The Rolling Stones, Sticky Fingers
  • 103. De La Soul, Three Feet High And Rising
  • 102. The Clash, The Clash
  • 101. Led Zeppelin, Led Zeppelin
  • 99. Taylor Swift, Red
  • 98. Lucinda Williams, Car Wheels on a Gravel Road
  • 94. The Stooges, Fun House
  • 92. The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Axis: Bold as Love
  • 88. David Bowie, Hunky Dory
  • 87. Miles Davis, Bitches Brew
  • 86. The Doors, The Doors
  • 85. John Lennon, Plastic Ono Band
  • 84. AC/DC, Back in Black
  • 83. Dusty Springfield, Dusty in Memphis
  • 82. Sly and the Family Stone, There’s a Riot Goin’ On
  • 81. Beyoncé, Beyoncé
  • 80. The Sex Pistols, Never Mind the Bollocks Here’s the Sex Pistols
  • 78. Elvis Presley, The Sun Sessions
  • 77. The Who, Who’s Next
  • 76. Curtis Mayfield, Superfly
  • 75. Aretha Franklin, Lady Soul
  • 73. My Bloody Valentine, Loveless
  • 71. Bob Marley and the Wailers, Exodus
  • 68. Kate Bush, Hounds of Love
  • 66. John Coltrane, A Love Supreme
  • 65. James Brown, Live at the Apollo
  • 64. OutKast, Stankonia
  • 61. Eric B. and Rakim, Paid in Full
  • 60. Van Morrison, Astral Weeks
  • 59. Stevie Wonder, Talking Book
  • 58. Led Zeppelin, Led Zeppelin IV 
  • 56. Liz Phair, Exile in Guyville
  • 54. James Brown, Star Time
  • 53. The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Electric Ladyland
  • 52. David Bowie, Station to Station
  • 51. Chuck Berry, The Great Twenty-Eight
  • 50. Jay-Z, The Blueprint
  • 49. OutKast, Aquemini
  • 48. Bob Marley and the Wailers, Legend
  • 47. Ramones, Ramones
  • 46. Paul Simon, Graceland
  • 45. Prince, Sign O’ the Times
  • 44. Nas, Illmatic
  • 43. A Tribe Called Quest, The Low End Theory
  • 42. Radiohead, OK Computer
  • 41. The Rolling Stones, Let It Bleed
  • 40. David Bowie, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars
  • 39. Talking Heads, Remain in Light
  • 35. The Beatles, Rubber Soul
  • 34. Stevie Wonder, ‘nnervisions
  • 33. Amy Winehouse, Back to Black
  • 32. Beyoncé, Lemonade
  • 31. Miles Davis, Kind of Blue

Music Discoveries: Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time 60-51


In September 2020, 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:

500-491 400-381 300-291 200-191 100-91
490-481 390-381 290-281 190-181 90-81
480-471 380-371 280-271 180-171 80-71
470-461 370-361 270-261 170-161 70-61
460-451 360-351 260-251 160-151
450-441 350-341 250-241 150-141
440-431 340-331 240-231 140-131
430-421 330-321 230-221 130-121
420-411 320-311 220-211 120-111
410-401 310-301 210-201 110-101

 

Artist: Van Morrison
AlbumAstral Weeks
Year: 1968
Label: Warner Bros.
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:

  • “Astral Weeks”
  • “Sweet Thing”

Thoughts: I’ve always preferred Moondance as the best Van Morrison album, but I’ve warmed to this album since reading Ryan H. Walsh’s Astral Weeks and learning about how Morrison’s time in Boston influenced its creation.

 


Artist: Stevie Wonder
Album: Talking Book
Year: 1972
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:

  • “You Are the Sunshine of My Life”
  • “Superstition”
  • “Big Brother”
  • “I Believe (When I Fall In Love It Will Be Forever)

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


Artist: Led Zeppelin
Album:
Year: 1971
Label: Atlantic
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:

  • “Rock and Roll”
  • “Stairway to Heaven”
  • “Four Sticks”
  • “When the Levee Breaks”

Thoughts: While I think Led Zeppelin II and Physical Graffiti are the best Led Zeppelin albums, I’m not surprised that Rolling Stone went with the popular choice for this list. As many times as I’ve heard “Stairway to Heaven” in my life, it’s been a long time since I listened to it, and felt good to be hearing it with fresh ears.  Of course, I prefer bluesier rockers like “Rock and Roll” and “When the Levee Breaks” from Led Zeppelin.


Artist: The Band
Album: The Band
Year: 1969
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?: No
Favorite Tracks: None

Thoughts: The one song I really like by The Band, “The Weight,” was on an album earlier in the list.  I couldn’t really warm up to anything on this album.  It’s not that it’s bad, it’s just that it’s not what I want to listen to.

 


Artist: Liz Phair
Album: Exile in Guyville
Year: 1993
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:

  • “”6’1″‘
  • “Soap Star Joe”
  • “Explain It To Me”
  • “Fuck and Run”
  • “Flower”
  • “Stratford-on-Guy”

Thoughts: I first learned of Liz Phair when I bought her 1994 album Whip-Smart on a whim and it remains an all-time favorite.  I later learned that Exile on Guyville was Phair’s highly regarded album created as a response to The Rolling Stones’ Exile on Main Street.  Interestingly, neither of those albums is my favorite by the respective artists and share in common a general “every son on this album is really good without any one thing being great” feel for me.

 


Artist: Pink Floyd
Album: The Dark Side of the Moon
Year: 1973
Label: EMI
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?: No
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Us and Them”
  • “Eclipse”

Thoughts: Despite my dislike of arty prog rock in general and Pink Floyd in particular, I found myself enjoying this album more than I expected.  Clare Torry’s guest vocals are great and I like the orchestration on “Us and Them.”  Of course, this album also makes a great soundtrack to The Wizard of Oz.


Artist: James Brown
AlbumStar Time
Year: 1991
Label: Polydor
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:

  • “Please, Please, Plese”
  • “Try Me”
  • “Think”
  • “Night Train”
  • “Out of Sight”
  • “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag”
  • “Cold Sweat”
  • “Licking Stick – Licking Stick”
  • “Say It Loud I’m Black and I’m Proud”
  • “There Was A Time”
  • “Give It Up Or Turnit A Loose”
  • “Funky Drummer”
  • “Get Up (I Feel Like Being A) Sex Machine”
  • “Super Bad”
  • “Soul Power”
  • “Hot Pants (She’s Got To Use What She Has To Get What She Wants)”
  • “Make It Funky”
  • “Doing It To Death”
  • “The Payback”
  • “Get Up Offa That Thing”

Thoughts: Rolling Stone is really inconsiderate of bloggers with tight deadlines for their weekly posts on the RS 500 by including a 72-track box set.  Fortunately, the music of James Brown is worth listening to for five hours.  I’ve made my thoughts on counting compilations on a list of greatest albums well-known, but it’s even more unfair to compare a box set to standard albums. James Brown is already represented by two other albums on this list, so they could have gone with 20 All-Time Greatest Hits! (1991) for a more concise compilation. This album was released at the same time as the box set and was my introduction to James Brown.

 


Artist: The Jimi Hendrix Experience
Album: Electric Ladyland
Year: 1968
Label: Reprise
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:

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

Thoughts: Hendrix packed a lot of skill and innovation into three albums, and this one is brilliant and weird.  It stills sounds futuristic despite being over 50 years old.  It’s a tragedy we never got to hear what Hendrix was going to do next.

 


Artist: David Bowie
Album: Station to Station
Year: 1976
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:

  • “Golden Years”
  • “TVC15”

Thoughts: This album finds Bowie working with R&B sounds, with a darker mood, and the addition of electronic instrumentation that prefigures the post-punk/New Wave sound by about five years.  Apparently Bowie was completely coked-out in recording this album and channeling the numb-to-emotion persona of the Thin White Duke.  I know this album is well-regarded so I hope Bowie fans won’t judge me too much for it not resonating well with me.  Still, a definite musical achievement.

 


Artist: Chuck Berry
Album: The Great Twenty-Eight
Year: 1982
Label: Chess
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:

  • “Maybellene”
  • “You Can’t Catch Me”
  • “Brown Eyed Handsome Man”
  • “Roll Over Beethoven”
  • “Rock ‘n’ Roll Music”
  • “Johnny B. Goode”
  • “Memphis, Tennessee”
  • “No Particular Place to Go”

Thoughts:  Yet another compilation of songs from a key artist in rock ‘n’ roll history who is mainly is known for his singles.  And another album I listened to in my youth, so I suppose it did its job.


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
  • 198. The B-52’s, The B-52’s
  • 197. The Beatles, Meet the Beatles!
  • 195. Leonard Cohen, Songs of Leonard Cohen
  • 193. Creedence Clearwater Revival, Willy and the Poor Boys
  • 192. Beastie Boys, Licensed to Ill
  • 191. Etta James, At Last!
  • 190. The Who, Tommy
  • 189. Sleater-Kinney, Dig Me Out
  • 185. The Rolling Stones, Beggars Banquet
  • 184. Cyndi Lauper, She’s So Unusual
  • 181. Bob Dylan, Bringing It All Back Home
  • 178. Otis Redding, Otis Blue
  • 177. Rod Stewart, Every Picture Tells a Story
  • 176. Public Enemy, Fear of a Black Planet
  • 175. Kendrick Lamar, DAMN.
  • 174. Jimmy Cliff and Various Artists, The Harder They Come: Original Soundtrack
  • 173. Nirvana, In Utero
  • 172. Simon and Garfunkel, Bridge Over Troubled Water
  • 171. Sonic Youth, Daydream Nation
  • 170. Cream, Disraeli Gears
  • 169. Billy Joel, The Stranger
  • 167. Depeche Mode, Violator
  • 166. Buddy Holly, 20 Golden Greats
  • 165. R.E.M., Murmur
  • 164. Johnny Cash, At Folsom Prison
  • 162. Pulp, Different Class
  • 161. Crosby, Stills & Nash, Crosby, Stills, & Nash
  • 156. The Replacements, Let it Be
  • 155. Jay-Z, The Black Album
  • 154. Aretha Franklin, Amazing Grace
  • 153. PJ Harvey, Rid of Me
  • 150. Bruce Springsteen, Nebraska
  • 149. John Prine, John Prine
  • 148. Frank Ocean, Channel Orange
  • 146. Blondie, Parallel Lines
  • 144. Led Zeppelin, Physical Graffiti
  • 143. The Velvet Underground, The Velvet Underground
  • 142. Bruce Springsteen, Born in the U.S.A.
  • 141. Pixies, Doolittle
  • 140. Bob Marley and the Wailers, Catch a Fire
  • 139. Black Sabbath, Paranoid
  • 138. Madonna, The Immaculate Collection
  • 137. Adele, 21
  • 136. Funkadelic, Maggot Brain
  • 135. U2, The Joshua Tree
  • 134. Fugees, ‘he Score
  • 132. Hank Williams, 40 Greatest Hits
  • 131. Portishead, Dummy
  • 130. Prince, 1999
  • 127. Ray Charles, Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music
  • 125. Beastie Boys, Paul’s Boutique
  • 124. U2, Achtung Baby
  • 123. Led Zeppelin, Led Zeppelin II
  • 122. Nine Inch Nails, The Downward Spiral
  • 121. Elvis Costello, This Year’s Model
  • 120. Van Morrison, Moondance
  • 119. Sly and the Family Stone, Stand!
  • 116. The Cure, Disintegration
  • 114. The Strokes, Is This It
  • 113. The Smiths, The Queen Is Dead
  • 111. Janet Jackson, Control
  • 109. Lou Reed, Transformer
  • 108. Fiona Apple, When the Pawn …
  • 107. Television, Marquee Moon
  • 104. The Rolling Stones, Sticky Fingers
  • 103. De La Soul, Three Feet High And Rising
  • 102. The Clash, The Clash
  • 101. Led Zeppelin, Led Zeppelin
  • 99. Taylor Swift, Red
  • 98. Lucinda Williams, Car Wheels on a Gravel Road
  • 94. The Stooges, Fun House
  • 92. The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Axis: Bold as Love
  • 88. David Bowie, Hunky Dory
  • 87. Miles Davis, Bitches Brew
  • 86. The Doors, The Doors
  • 85. John Lennon, Plastic Ono Band
  • 84. AC/DC, Back in Black
  • 83. Dusty Springfield, Dusty in Memphis
  • 82. Sly and the Family Stone, There’s a Riot Goin’ On
  • 81. Beyoncé, Beyoncé
  • 80. The Sex Pistols, Never Mind the Bollocks Here’s the Sex Pistols
  • 78. Elvis Presley, The Sun Sessions
  • 77. The Who, Who’s Next
  • 76. Curtis Mayfield, Superfly
  • 75. Aretha Franklin, Lady Soul
  • 73. My Bloody Valentine, Loveless
  • 71. Bob Marley and the Wailers, Exodus
  • 68. Kate Bush, Hounds of Love
  • 66. John Coltrane, A Love Supreme
  • 65. James Brown, Live at the Apollo
  • 64. OutKast, Stankonia
  • 61. Eric B. and Rakim, Paid in Full
  • 60. Van Morrison, Astral Weeks
  • 59. Stevie Wonder, Talking Book
  • 58. Led Zeppelin, Led Zeppelin IV 
  • 56. Liz Phair, Exile in Guyville
  • 54. James Brown, Star Time
  • 53. The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Electric Ladyland
  • 52. David Bowie, Station to Station
  • 51. Chuck Berry, The Great Twenty-Eight

 

Music Discoveries: Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time 90-81


In September 2020, 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:

500-491 400-381 300-291 200-191 100-91
490-481 390-381 290-281 190-181
480-471 380-371 280-271 180-171
470-461 370-361 270-261 170-161
460-451 360-351 260-251 160-151
450-441 350-341 250-241 150-141
440-431 340-331 240-231 140-131
430-421 330-321 230-221 130-121
420-411 320-311 220-211 120-111
410-401 310-301 210-201 110-101

Artist: Neil Young
AlbumAfter the Gold Rush
Year: 1970
Label: Reprise
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:

  • “Only Love Can Break Your Heart”
  • “Southern Man”

Thoughts:  This feels like one of the poppiest Neil Young recordings, perhaps because it came out just after the Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young collaboration on Déjà Vu. The country folk sound almost is reminiscent of Laurel Canyon. “Only Love Can Break Your Heart” is a terrific song, although I’ve always liked the St. Etienne version better.


Artist: Erykah Badu
AlbumBaduizm
Year: 1997
Label: Kedar
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:

  • “Afro (Freestyle Skit)”
  • “Certainly”

Thoughts: I wasn’t too impressed by Mama’s Gun so I was hoping for a better experience with Baduizm. I’m not the first one to observe this, but Badu sounds like Billie Holliday performing R&B and soul. But I tend to like the jazzier tracks


Artist: David Bowie
AlbumHunky Dory
Year: 1971
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:

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

Thoughts: This is the earliest album where Bowie sounds like the artist we know as Bowie.  This is a nonsensical thing to say, of course, because Bowie is defined by a changing sound.  But here we get the glam rock that evolved out the folk, pop, and cabaret sounds of his early work.


Artist: Miles Davis
AlbumBitches Brew
Year: 1970
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?:
Favorite Tracks:

  • All of them

Thoughts: On August 19, 1969, Miles Davis and his band began recording this album in a studio in New York City.  The day before and 90 miles to the northwest, the Woodstock Festival concluded in Bethel, New York.  Davis set to record an album that would appeal to the festival goers, especially fans of Jimi Hendrix and Sly and the Family Stone who appeared at the festival.  I don’t know if Davis was specifically thinking of Woodstock at the time, but it is an interesting historical coincidence.  Of course, he was in the right place at the right time to see the Harlem Cultural Festival performances of B.B. King, Nina Simone, and Hugh Masekela just two days earlier.


Artist: The Doors
AlbumThe Doors
Year: 1967
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:

  • “Break on Through (To The Other Side)”
  • “Soul Kitchen”
  • “Alabama Song (Whisky Bar)”
  • “Back Door Man”
  • “Take It As It Comes”

Thoughts: I don’t know think the reputation of The Doors is all that solid these days, but back in the 1980s, that 60’s-nostalgia-drenched decade when classic rock radio was born, The Doors were overrepresented and overrated.  The band basically had one terrific album and maybe 6 other good songs.  Fortunately, this is the terrific album.  The Doors debut is a blues rock collection with the swirling organ for a psychedelic touch, but less of the avant-garde experimentation and pretentiousness that mars their later work (although “The End” shows this tendency at its best).


Artist: John Lennon
AlbumPlastic Ono Band
Year: 1970
Label:  Apple
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:

  • “Working Class Hero”
  • “Remember”
  • “Love”
  • “God”

Thoughts: John Lennon’s working through a lot of anger and issues on his first true post-Beatles recording.  For some reason the tracks on this album don’t get the Classic Rock exposure of some of Lennon’s other albums, but it’s a solid collection.


Artist: AC/DC
AlbumBack in Black
Year: 1980
Label: Atlantic
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:

  • “Hell’s Bells”
  • “Back in Black”
  • “You Shook Me All Night Long”

Thoughts: Did you know that this 41-year-old album is currently ranked at 72 in the Billboard Hot 200 chart? It’s right there a few spots after The Weeknd and few spots ahead of Doja Cat.  In fact, there is only one non-compilation album older than Back in Black that is ranked higher, but we’ll get to that in my final entry of this series. A few years ago I took my daughter for a playdate with a preschool friend who had a record player and played this album for us because it was his favorite. This bodes well for Back in Black to continue to be in the Hot 200 for the foreseeable future.


Artist: Dusty Springfield
Album: Dusty in Memphis
Year: 1969
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:

  • “Just a Little Lovin'”
  • “Son of a Preacher Man”
  • “No Easy Way Down”

Thoughts:  You’ve got to appreciate an album that starts off with a song with a plea for everyone in the world to start their day off by having sex. It looks like every significant songwriter of the time period got a song on this album: Mann & Weil, Coffin & King, Randy Newman, Bacharach & David, et al.  Of course, the songs need Dusty to bring them to life. “Son of a Preacher Man” by John Hurley & Ronnie Wilkins is a song that will always remind me of a road trip to New Orleans when a couple of the women in our group sang along full-throatedly.


Artist: Sly and the Family Stone
AlbumThere’s a Riot Goin’ On
Year: 1971
Label: Epic
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:

  • “Family Affair”
  • “Time’
  • “Runnin’ Away”

Thoughts: Somehow I missed listening to this album before, because only “Family Affair” sounds familiar.  The musical style is deeper and funkier with more ruminative and bleak lyrics than on previous Sly and the Family Stone recordings.  It is quite good!


Artist: Beyoncé
Album: Beyoncé
Year: 2013
Label: Parkwood/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?: Mostly but not all
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Pretty Hurts”
  • “Blow”
  • “Partition”
  • “XO”

Thoughts: I passed on listening to Beyonce prior to Lemonade (which I could not ignore) so it is good to check out her earlier catalog.  The songs on this album are in a fascinating array of styles reflecting many eras of R&B and pop while still being original.  I found some of the tracks dragged on too long and turned into mini-operas but my overall impression is positive.


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
  • 198. The B-52’s, The B-52’s
  • 197. The Beatles, Meet the Beatles!
  • 195. Leonard Cohen, Songs of Leonard Cohen
  • 193. Creedence Clearwater Revival, Willy and the Poor Boys
  • 192. Beastie Boys, Licensed to Ill
  • 191. Etta James, At Last!
  • 190. The Who, Tommy
  • 189. Sleater-Kinney, Dig Me Out
  • 185. The Rolling Stones, Beggars Banquet
  • 184. Cyndi Lauper, She’s So Unusual
  • 181. Bob Dylan, Bringing It All Back Home
  • 178. Otis Redding, Otis Blue
  • 177. Rod Stewart, Every Picture Tells a Story
  • 176. Public Enemy, Fear of a Black Planet
  • 175. Kendrick Lamar, DAMN.
  • 174. Jimmy Cliff and Various Artists, The Harder They Come: Original Soundtrack
  • 173. Nirvana, In Utero
  • 172. Simon and Garfunkel, Bridge Over Troubled Water
  • 171. Sonic Youth, Daydream Nation
  • 170. Cream, Disraeli Gears
  • 169. Billy Joel, The Stranger
  • 167. Depeche Mode, Violator
  • 166. Buddy Holly, 20 Golden Greats
  • 165. R.E.M., Murmur
  • 164. Johnny Cash, At Folsom Prison
  • 162. Pulp, Different Class
  • 161. Crosby, Stills & Nash, Crosby, Stills, & Nash
  • 156. The Replacements, Let it Be
  • 155. Jay-Z, The Black Album
  • 154. Aretha Franklin, Amazing Grace
  • 153. PJ Harvey, Rid of Me
  • 150. Bruce Springsteen, Nebraska
  • 149. John Prine, John Prine
  • 148. Frank Ocean, Channel Orange
  • 146. Blondie, Parallel Lines
  • 144. Led Zeppelin, Physical Graffiti
  • 143. The Velvet Underground, The Velvet Underground
  • 142. Bruce Springsteen, Born in the U.S.A.
  • 141. Pixies, Doolittle
  • 140. Bob Marley and the Wailers, Catch a Fire
  • 139. Black Sabbath, Paranoid
  • 138. Madonna, The Immaculate Collection
  • 137. Adele, 21
  • 136. Funkadelic, Maggot Brain
  • 135. U2, The Joshua Tree
  • 134. Fugees, ‘he Score
  • 132. Hank Williams, 40 Greatest Hits
  • 131. Portishead, Dummy
  • 130. Prince, 1999
  • 127. Ray Charles, Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music
  • 125. Beastie Boys, Paul’s Boutique
  • 124. U2, Achtung Baby
  • 123. Led Zeppelin, Led Zeppelin II
  • 122. Nine Inch Nails, The Downward Spiral
  • 121. Elvis Costello, This Year’s Model
  • 120. Van Morrison, Moondance
  • 119. Sly and the Family Stone, Stand!
  • 116. The Cure, Disintegration
  • 114. The Strokes, Is This It
  • 113. The Smiths, The Queen Is Dead
  • 111. Janet Jackson, Control
  • 109. Lou Reed, Transformer
  • 108. Fiona Apple, When the Pawn …
  • 107. Television, Marquee Moon
  • 104. The Rolling Stones, Sticky Fingers
  • 103. De La Soul, Three Feet High And Rising
  • 102. The Clash, The Clash
  • 101. Led Zeppelin, Led Zeppelin
  • 99. Taylor Swift, Red
  • 98. Lucinda Williams, Car Wheels on a Gravel Road
  • 94. The Stooges, Fun House
  • 92. The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Axis: Bold as Love
  • 88. David Bowie, Hunky Dory
  • 87. Miles Davis, Bitches Brew
  • 86. The Doors, The Doors
  • 85. John Lennon, Plastic Ono Band
  • 84. AC/DC, Back in Black
  • 83. Dusty Springfield, Dusty in Memphis
  • 82. Sly and the Family Stone, There’s a Riot Goin’ On
  • 81. Beyoncé, Beyoncé

 

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 450-441


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:


Artist: Paul and Linda McCartney
AlbumRam
Year: 1971
Label: Apple
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?:
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Too Many People”

Thoughts: For the first time in this project, not only have I listened to the album before, but I’ve written about it on this blog. I’ve been consistent over the years in my dislike for the vast majority of Paul McCartney’s post-Beatles output. And the hit single from this album – “Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey” – is among his absolute worst work. But Paul and Linda were happy in their marriage and domestic life, so I can’t deny them that.


Artist: The White Stripes
AlbumElephant
Year: 2003
Label: V2/XL/Third Man
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:

  • “Seven Nation Army”

Thoughts: The White Stripes are one of those bands that music critics just love to dote on. I’ve never really heard what it is that they think is so great about the band’s music. And Jack White comes across as more than a little creepy.  “Seven Nation Army” is, no doubt, a great rally song at sporting events (with a mesmerizing video, to boot) but nothing else stands out for me. This album is a collection of “back to basics” rock and roll.  But this has been done before and since, as well or better than The White Stripes, so I’m not sure why this album is singled out for recognition.


Artist: Otis Redding
Album: Dictionary of Soul
Year: 1966
Label: Volt
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:

  • “Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa (Sad Song)”
  • “Sweet Lorene”
  • “Try A Little Tenderness”
  • “You’re Still My Baby”
  • “Hawg For You”
  • But the whole damn album is great!

Thoughts: I’m a long time fan of Otis Redding, whom I consider one of the greatest vocalists of all time.  But I’ve mostly listened to compilations and box sets of his music and never listened to this album before, although I’m familiar with about half of it.  This was the last album released before Redding’s death, and features a good sampling of his trademark ballads and raveups.  But the album also shows that he can sing the Blues really well too.


Artist: Bad Bunny
Album: X 100pre
Year: 2018
Label: Rimas
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?: Not likely
Favorite Tracks:

  • “La Romana”
  • “Mia”

Thoughts: Here’s a fairly recent album from an artist, Puerto Rican rapper Bad Bunny, whose name has entered my consciousness despite my general ignorance of Latin trap and reggaeton.  In fact, it’s his debut album, which surprises me, because I thought I’d heard the name for longer. I appreciate that the album offers an eclectic mix of musical styles, tempos, and rhythms even as I know that this is not something I personally enjoy.


Artist: Alice Coltrane
Album: Journey in Satchidanada
Year: 1971
Label: Impulse!
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:

  • “Journey in Satchidananda”
  • “Something About John Coltrane”
  • “Isis and Osiris”

Thoughts: I confess to never having heard about Alice Coltrane, and this album is a revelation. The music is a fusion of a experimental jazz and Indian classic music that draws upon her own spiritual journey and the work of her husband, John Coltrane, who died a few years earlier.  Alice Coltrane plays piano and harp, while Pharaoh Sanders provides the soprano saxophone and percussion. All of the tracks feature the Indian string instrument, the tanpura, except the final track which has the lute-like oud.


Artist: Yes
Album: Close to the Edge
Year: 1972
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?: God forbid
Favorite Tracks: none
Thoughts: I’m on record for my dislike of 70s progressive rock. The excess, the pretentiousness, the boringness.  I was not looking forward to listening to Yes (although their 80s sellout hit, “Owner of a Lonely Heart,” slaps). But like a good do-bee, I listened to all three gratuitously long songs on this album.  My brain checked out a few


Artist: Fiona Apple
Album: Extraordinary Machine
Year: 2005
Label: Epic
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:

  • “Extraordinary Machine”
  • “Get Him Back”
  • “O’ Sailor”
  • “Parting Gift”
  • “Not About Love”

Thoughts: The enthusiasm over the brilliant Fetch the Bolt Cutters last spring made me realize that I’d been missing out on Fiona Apple for all these years. The songs have a bouncy piano, confessional lyrics, and arrangements that make them sound like they’re for a Broadway show.  I like listening to Apple’s voice and regret denying myself of hearing it for so long.


Artist: David Bowie
AlbumScary Monsters
Year: 1980
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?:
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Up the Hill Backwards”
  • “Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps)”
  • “Ashes to Ashes”
  • “Fashion”
  • “Kingdome Come”

Thoughts: Once again, we’ve reached an album that I’ve written about before. Bowie’s first album of the 80s sounds like a synthesis of everything he did during the 70s.  It was less experimental than previous albums, but it seemed to be a marker for the end of the era, while clearing the decks for the next.


Artist: The Weeknd
Album: Beauty Behind the Madness
Year: 2015
Label: XO
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: None
Thoughts: Seems appropriate that The Weeknd comes up in this list, fresh off his Super Bowl appearance (which I didn’t watch).  I’m only slightly familiar with his work, so I was surprised that the topics of every song seemed to be bragging/regretting doing lots of drugs and sex.  Musically, the mid-tempo R&B doesn’t appeal to me either. I didn’t think I knew any of the songs on this album but in fact, I did know the hit “Can’t Feel My Face.”


Artist: Britney Spears
AlbumBlackout
Year: 2007
Label: Jive
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:

  • “Get Naked (I Got a Plan)”
  • “Toy Soldier”

Thoughts: Britney Spears was pretty much off my radar by 2007, and I never heard anything by hear after the “…Baby One More Time”/”Oops!… I Did It Again.”  Stylistically it’s aggressive electronic dance pop with angrier and hornier lyrics than Spears’ earlier work, reflecting her well-publicized personal troubles. At least now I know the origin of the meme “It’s Britney, bitch!” It feels a little exploitative listening to it now, knowing the abuse and mockery Spears has suffered, and how she continues to suffer under a conservatorship.


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

Movie Review: Labyrinth (1986)


Welcome to Muppet Mondays! Over the next several Mondays I will be working my way through the various movies in the Muppets and Jim Henson oeuvre.

Title: Labyrinth
Release Date: June 27, 1986
Director: Jim Henson
Production Company: Henson Associates, Inc.| Lucasfilm Ltd.
Summary/Review:

Surprisingly, I’ve never watched this Jim Henson production before, despite the fact that it came out when I was 12, the ideal age to watch this movie. I remember hearing that the movie was a dud, and believed the criticism, although in later years I learned that Labyrinth became a cult classic.  There’s a lot of talent involved in this movie – Jim Henson as directory, George Lucas as producer, Monty Python’s Terry Jones as the main scriptwriter, and David Bowie lending his talents to his performance as Jareth the Goblin King and his music to the soundtrack.

One might expect something huge from this confluence of talents and be disappointed by the smaller film that ensued. If you take the film on its own though, it is a wonderfully imaginative story that draws up fantasy folklore with impressive visuals. Jennifer Connelly plays the fantasy-obsessed teenager Sarah who resents having to babysit her infant brother and asks the goblins to take him away.  When Jareth does in fact take Toby to his castle he allows Sarah 13 hours to solve a labyrinth to recover her brother. The resourceful Sarah uses her knowledge of fantasy tropes to find her way through with the help of the cowardly dwarf Hoggle (Brian Henson), the gentle giant Ludo (Ron Mueck), and the overly courageous fox Sir Didymus (performed by Dave Goelz and voiced by David Shaughnessy).

Compared with present day fantasy and adventure movies, there’s very little preamble before Sarah jumps into her adventure in the labyrinth, and a brief conclusion as well.  While more grounded in the real world than The Dark Crystal, the movie is wonderfully fantastic with impressive sets, puppetry, and animatronics. On the downside there’s some poor chroma key work in some scenes especially the one where the Fierys are dancing.  This film falls into the part of Bowie’s career when he was making over-produced, synth heavy pop, although the songs are better than his work on Tonight.

I’m so used to actors in their 20s playing teenagers that I’m impressed that Connelly was actually 16, because she seems older. She does a good job of portraying the age when one begins to put aside childish things for grownup responsibilities.  Although, as we learn, those childish things will always be there when we need them.

Rating: ****

Documentary Review: Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (1983) #AtoZChallenge


This is my entry for “Z” in the Blogging A to Z Challenge. Throughout April I will be watching and reviewing a documentary movie from A to Z. Previous “Z” documentaries I’ve reviewed include Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait and Zimbelism.

Title: Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars
Release Date: December 23, 1983
Director: D. A. Pennebaker
Production Company: Miramax Films | MainMan | Bewlay Bros.
Summary/Review:

David Bowie finished off a world tour supporting The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars with this performance at London’s Hammersmith Odeon on July 3, 1973.  Pioneering D. A. Pennebaker and a small crew were on hand to film the show.  Cinematically, this film does not hold up to the likes of The Last Waltz or Stop Making Sense. Nevertheless, I appreciate the simplicity and the intimacy of this concert film.

Bowie is the focus of the film, whether he’s on stage or in his dressing room for a costume change.  It’s clear that he has a special connection with the audience, many of who are in Ziggy Stardust style makeup and costumes.  Assuming there are no overdubs in this film – and I don’t think there are – the band was on fire this night, especially Mark Ronson who has several excellent guitar solos.  Pianist Mike Garson lends a cocktail lounge jazz sound to several songs that works very well.  My only disappointment is that the band doesn’t perform “Starman” or “Life on Mars” in this set.

If you’re like me and weren’t alive to see what the big deal was regarding Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, this is a good way to found out.

Rating: ****

Book Reviews: On Bowie by Rob Sheffield


Author: Rob Sheffield
TitleOn Bowie
Narrator: Tristan Morris
Publication Info: New York, NY : Dey Street Books, [2016]

Previously Read By The Same Author:

Summary/Review:

The thing I like about Rob Sheffield’s music writing is that he eschews the distanced approach of music critics, and while he’s writing as a fan, he’s not writing a hagiography of his musical heroes.  Instead, Sheffield writes about how fans engage with music and the artists that create it.  This is particularly significant in Bowie’s case as Bowie himself was a fan who never hid his influences, collaborated with many of his favorite musicians, offered support to young up and coming artists, and even on his final album took some inspiration from the much younger artist Kendrick Lamar.  Bowie also engaged directly with his fans, treating them as special people, and encouraging their creativity.  The funny thing is that Sheffield presents Bowie fans as the outcasts of society whereas I came to Bowie later in my life because when I was young I never felt cool enough to listen to Bowie.  Regardless of how you come to Bowie, this is a great book with stories of his life and how he created his music.

Favorite Passages:

“Nobody enjoyed laughing at his humiliations more than he did.”

“That’s one of the things David Bowie came to show us — we go to music to hear ourselves change.”

Rating: ***1/2

 

2016 Year in Review: Favorite Albums


This is my second attempt at making an Albums of the Year least after my first try in 2014.  There aren’t any real surprises here as most of these albums are appearing on every other list, so I will have to seek out younger and more experimental musicians.  Nevertheless, here are my thoughts on five great albums from 2016.

Listed alphabetically by title, with links to my original reviews where possible.

David Bowie, Blackstar

Bowie’s final album, released days before his death, shows that he was an experimenter to the very last, incorporating jazz and electronic songs into richly textured songs about mortality.

Beyoncé, Lemonade

Confession: I never listened to anything by Beyoncé before this year.  But this album blew me away with it’s mix of genres and the blend of personal travails with the political aspirations of black women.  It seems appropriate that it comes 25 years after Nirvana’s Nevermind and The Beatle’s Revolver because each album created a new sound for its generation.

A Tribe Called Red, We Are the Halluci Nation

As the Water Protectors made their stand  against DAPL this year, it is appropriate that the Ottawa-based DJs of A Tribe Called Red released their most angry, political album yet.

The Avalanches, Wild Flowers

It wasn’t worth waiting 16 years, but it’s still a wild mix of sounds that feels like a back alley journey through American music.

Leonard Cohen, You Want it Darker

Another farewell album recorded by an artist in his dying days that shows that the power of creativity can persist into old age.

For an entirely different list of albums I’ve never heard before (but really want to now), check out this list on the Speed of Things by my friend Erik.

What are your favorite albums of the year?