Music Discoveries: Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time 130-121


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
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
420-411 320-311 220-211
410-401 310-301 210-201

Artist: Prince
Album1999
Year: 1982
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:

  • “1999”
  • “Little Red Corvette”
  • “Delirious”
  • “D.M.S.R.”
  • “Lady Cab Driver”

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


Artist: Pink Floyd
AlbumThe Wall
Year: 1979
Label: Columbia
Have I Listened to This Album Before?: No
Am I Familiar With This Artist/Songs from This Album?: Yes
Would I Listen to this Album Again?: No
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Another Brick in the Wall, Part II”
  • “Comfortably Numb”

Thoughts: I flinched when I saw that this album contains 26 tracks, meaning approximately 96 hours of prog rock.  Do I really need to listen to every minute of every album on this list?  But, in the end, I did.  It’s always fun to sing along with a chorus of disaffected English school children on “Another Brick in the Wall, Part II,” one of the strangest songs ever to reach Number One in the US.  Actually, a lot of this album sounds familiar.  Klassik Rawk radio sure loves Pink Floyd, so I heard a lot of these tracks as background music at some point in my life.


Artist: Queen
AlbumA Night at the Opera
Year: 1975
Label: Elektra
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?: Maybe?
Favorite Tracks:

  • “You’re My Best Friend”
  • “Bohemian Rhapsody”

Thoughts: We’ve apparently reached the over-top-dramatic prog rock of the 1970s portion of the list. I’ve never been too keen on Queen although I’ve softened over time. And I’ve got to give the band credit for liking Marx Brothers movies.  I’ve got to admit that there’s quite a bit of eclecticism that I never was previously aware of from Queen, including music musical all (“Lazing on a Sunday Afternoon” and “Seaside Rendezvous”), proto-yacht rock (“You’re My Best Friend”),  folk rock (“’39”), and Dixieland jazz (“Good Company”).  Plus, whatever “Bohemian Rhapsody” is. I guess this whole project is softening my long-held musical opinions!

 


Artist: Ray Charles
AlbumModern Sounds in Country and Western Music
Year: 1962
Label: ABC-Paramount
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:

  • “You Don’t Know Me”
  • “Just a Little Lovin’ (Will Go a Long Way)”
  • “Careless Love”
  • “I Can’t Stop Loving You”
  • “Hey, Good Lookin'”

Thoughts: There have always been Black artists in Country & Western music, and later soul and hip hop artists like Lionel Richie and Lil Nas X have made Country their own.  But it was still a bold proclamation by Ray Charles in the midst of the Civil Rights Era to declare he was making the “modern sound” of country and western music.  Charles takes a number of Nashville tunes and with a big band orchestra and lush strings, makes them soulful and swing!


Artist: Mary J. Blige
Album: My Life
Year: 1994
Label: Uptown
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:

  • “You Bring Me Joy”
  • “I’m Going Down”

Thoughts: This is a quality R&B album with thoughtful, introspective lyrics.  I feel bad that I appreciate it more than I love it.


Artist: Beastie Boys
AlbumPaul’s Boutique
Year: 1989
Label: Capitol
Have I Listened to This Album Before?: No
Am I Familiar With This Artist/Songs from This Album?: Yes
Would I Listen to this Album Again?: Yes
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Shake Your Rump”
  • “The Sounds of Science”
  • “What Comes Around”
  • “Shadrach”

Thoughts: I’ve gravely underappreciated the Beastie Boys over time.  After their bratty debut album, I had no interest in hearing Paul’s Boutique.  It’s too bad because I’ve always liked the art of sampling when sound collages are created and the original source is barely recognizable if at all.  I loved De La Soul’s masterpiece 3 Feet High and Rising (also released in 1989) and would go on to love the work of The Avalanches, The Go! Team and similar artists.  Now, I know that Paul’s Boutique is another classic of sampling.


Artist: U2
Album: Achtung Baby
Year: 1991
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:

  • Not a bad song on this album.

Thoughts:  Over the 70s & 80s there was a parallels stream of popular music known as punk, new wave, post-punk, synthpop, college rock, modern rock, alternative rock, and various other appellations.  U2 was certainly part of this stream before hitting it big with The Joshua Tree in 1987.  Then 1991 came, “the year that punk broke.” R.E.M. kicked the year off with Out of Time becoming a big success, albeit with the band adopting a more commercial radio sound.  Then Nirvana’s Nevermind blew up while being unapologetically “grunge.”  Before the year was out, U2 released Achtung Baby, which would have probably been a hit regardless, but it sounded nothing like anything U2 had released before.  The band entirely reinvented their image and sound incorporating industrial and electronic music influences.  I was middle-of-the-road on U2 prior to 1991, but I loved Achtung Baby and it continues to hold up as the band’s best album.


Artist: Led Zeppelin
AlbumLed Zeppelin II
Year: 1969
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:

  • “Whole Lotta Love”
  • “Heartbreaker”
  • “Ramble On”
  • “Moby Dick”

Thoughts: Early Led Zeppelin was deeply invested in the traditions of American guitar-based Blues artists before the band began to evolve to incorporate folk music, mysticism, and art rock in their later incarnations. Appropriately this album includes three covers of songs by Chicago Blues songs by Willie Dixon and Howlin’ Wolf.  The songs serve as a showcase of the band member’s skills on guitars, drums, and screeching vocals.


Artist: Nine Inch Nails
Album: The Downward Spiral
Year: 1994
Label: Nothing/Interscope
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:

  • “March of the Pigs”
  • “Closer”
  • “Hurt”

Thoughts: A friend and I once wrote a poem that began with the line “I want to fuck you like a plant.”  It was pretty funny.

This video, however, is quite disturbing.


Artist: Elvis Costello
AlbumThis Year’s Model
Year: 1978
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:

  • “Pump It Up”
  • “(I Don’t Want To Go To) Chelsea”
  • “Radio, Radio”

Thoughts: There are some good tracks on this one but I like My Aim is True more as an album. “(I Don’t Want To Go To) Chelsea” is a total banger, though.


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

 

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


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

Previous Posts:

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


 

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


Running List of Albums I’d Listen to Again

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

A Song and a Story: “Oliver’s Army” #AtoZChallenge


Would you like to buy an “O?”  Our “O” today is a cover of an Elvis Costello song by Peter Mulvey:

Oliver’s Army

One of the things I enjoyed most about Boston when I first moved here 20 years was the lively folk music scene.  Before my children were born, I spent many nights a week at concerts, festivals, or volunteering at Club Passim in Cambridge.  But in Boston, Cambridge and Somerville, it wasn’t necessary to go to a club to hear great music.  Buskers would attract crowds on the sidewalks and MBTA platforms.  Sometimes you’d even see some fairly well-known artists playing a T station as they found it a good place to practice new songs and get audience feedback.

One of these artists is Peter Mulvey, who has a strong following in the indie folk scene. While based in Milwaukee, Mulvey got his start busking on the T in the 1990s.  In 2002, Susan & I spotted him playing “Oliver’s Army” on the platform in Davis Square.  When he finished playing, he told us he was actually recording an album!  I’d never seen someone recording an album before, but Mulvey did indeed release his collection of cover songs – complete with the screeching steel wheels of the subway – Ten Thousand Mornings, later that year.  We also saw him perform at Club Passim, and when Susan lost her purse, he was the one to find it, but that’s a different story.


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

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

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

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

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

Book Review: Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink by Elvis Costello


Author: Elvis Costello
TitleUnfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink
NarratorElvis Costello
Publication Info: Penguin Audio (2015)
Summary/Review:

The memoir of Declan MacManus, better known by his stage name Elvis Costello,  is more of a collection of thematic essays than a birth to present memoir.  Like the lyrics of his song, Costello’s way with words is evident. His father Ross MacManus, a band leader and musician of some note in his own right, is central to the narrative and an influence on Costello’s life and music, if not readily apparent from his punk/new wave days, but more evident in his latter days as pop/jazz/fusion collaborator.  Speaking of collaboration, Costello name drops an awful lot of musicians and songwriters, although he comes by it honestly having worked with so many of them. Thankfully his stories tend towards the creative process rather than idle gossip.  I can’t help but feel that Costello comes of as something of jerk which is an unexpected outcome for a self-penned biography.  I don’t know if I should admire his self-awareness or just dislike that he’s such a jerk. At any rate there are some interesting aspects of this book if you’re interested in musicians or a fan of Costello, but it’s a bit too long and pompous to recommend to a general audience.

Recommended booksLife by Keith Richards, Brothas Be, Yo Like George, Ain’t That Funkin’ Kinda Hard on You? by George Clinton, and My Song: A Memoir by Harry Belafonte.
Rating: **