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

Music Discoveries: Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time 500-491


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.

Artist: Arcade Fire
AlbumFuneral
Year: 2004
Label: Merge
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:

  • “Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)”
  • “Crown of Love”
  • “Wake Up”

Thoughts: I can’t remember when I first became aware of Arcade Fire.  I definitely knew of them by the time they won the 2011 Grammy for Album of the Year and “Who is Arcade Fire?” became a social media meme, but I definitely was not aware of them when their first album was released in 2004.  Listening to this album for the first time was a revelation and I enjoyed the orchestrated melodies, harmonies, and atmosphere.  This is definitely good “dozing off to sleep music” as the sounds swell over you and become part of your dreams.


Artist: Rufus featuring Chaka Khan
AlbumAsk Rufus
Year: 1977
Label: ABC
Have I Listened to This Album Before?:  No
Am I Familiar With This Artist/Songs from This Album?:  A little bit
Would I Listen to this Album Again?:  Not really
Favorite Tracks:

  • “At Midnight (My Love Will Lift You Up)”

Thoughts: I know Chaka Khan primarily from her hit cover of Prince’s “I Feel For You” and her guest vocals on the songs of numerous other artists. I only knew of Rufus by reputation. This is definitely a solid 70s funk & soul album with a touch of disco.  But other than the opening track it didn’t really grab me. 


Artist: Suicide
Album: Suicide
Year: 1977
Label: Red Star
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:

  • “Ghost Rider”
  • “Rocket USA”

Thoughts: I’m surprised that I haven’t heard this before because it’s right up my alley.  It’s got the punk aesthetic, with gloomy lyrics, over minimalist synth beats.  I can definitely hear this album’s influence in a lot of music that I like, especially Stereolab


Artist: Various Artists
Album: The Indestructible Beat of Soweto
Year: 1985
Label: Earthworks,
Have I Listened to This Album Before?: Likely
Am I Familiar With This Artist/Songs from This Album?: Kinda?
Would I Listen to this Album Again?: Yes!
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Awungilobolele” (Can You Pay Lobola for Me) – Udokotela Shange Namajaha
  • “Holotelani” (Daughter-In-Law) – Nelcy Sedibe
  • “Qhwahilahle” (Leave Him Alone) – Moses Mchunu
  • “Nansi Imali” (Here Is the Money) – Ladysmith Black Mambazo

Thoughts: I have a vague memory of checking this album out from the library when I was a teenager obsessed with Paul Simon’s Graceland and the music of Johnny Clegg. For some reason I didn’t get a copy of my own, which is a pity, but it was great to become reacquainted with this South African guitar-based music.


Artist: Shakira
Album: Dónde Están los Ladrones?
Year: 1998
Label: Columbia
Have I Listened to This Album Before?:  No
Am I Familiar With This Artist/Songs from This Album?:  Artist yes/Songs no
Would I Listen to this Album Again?: It’s not bad
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Ciega, Sordomuda”
  • “Que Vuelvas”

Thoughts: While Latin pop is not the first style of music I’d gravitate to, I’ve long had a soft spot for Shakira. I first became acquainted with her when I heard her song “Whenever, Wherever” sung by young women on the streets of Dublin. Her World Cup anthem “Waka Waka (This Time for Africa)” is also kind of a theme song for my kids’ elementary school. This early album was Shakira’s attempt to break into the US Latin music market, but precedes her recording in English.  I was surprised that the music was much more of a guitar-based alternative music sound. I saw one reviewer refer to her as a Colombian Alanis Morrisette, which is a bit of an exaggeration, but a hint at how different Shakira’s sound was at this period compared with her later dance pop sounds.


Artist: Boyz II Men
Album: II
Year: 1991
Label: Motown
Have I Listened to This Album Before?: No
Am I Familiar With This Artist/Songs from This Album?:  Boyz II Men were inescapable in the 90s
Would I Listen to this Album Again?: Probably not.
Favorite Tracks:

  • “U Know”

Thoughts: Boyz II Men were the dominant R&B sound of the 1990s with harmonies that hearken back to the doo-wop era. I can definitely appreciate their music, although it is another style that’s not really my thing.


Artist: The Ronettes
Album: Presenting the Fabulous Ronettes
Year: 1964
Label: Philles
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?:  Definitely
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Walking in the Rain”
  • “(The Best Part of) Breakin’ Up”
  • “Be My Baby”
  • “Baby, I Love You”

Thoughts: This was The Ronettes only official album release, and is technically a compilation since it collects a number of singles the group had already released.  But since all these singles were released over a course of about a year, it still reflects an incredible run of impressive music in a short period of time. I can imagine some teens in the 1964 could have a good party just putting on this album in the background. 


Artist: Marvin Gaye
Album: Here, My Dear
Year: 1978
Label: Tamla/Motown
Have I Listened to This Album Before?: No
Am I Familiar With This Artist/Songs from This Album?:  I know Marvin Gaye well, but not this album.
Would I Listen to this Album Again?: Not really
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Everybody Needs Love”

Thoughts: I was only familiar this album by its reputation of being a contractual obligation as part of Marvin Gaye’s divorce from his wife Anna Gordy Gaye. The album runs the gamut of emotions from divorce – bitterness, anger, grief, passion, and nostalgia – on a string of songs almost entirely in a soulful mid-tempo. The work of Marvin Gaye can never be dismissed but if I’m going to listen to Gaye, I would gravitate toward several of his other albums including some that will appear in this Top 500 list.


Artist: Bonnie Raitt
AlbumNick of Time
Year: 1989
Label: Capitol
Have I Listened to This Album Before?: No
Am I Familiar With This Artist/Songs from This Album?:  Very
Would I Listen to this Album Again?: Maybe
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Thing Called Love”
  • “Have a Heart”
  • “The Road’s My Middle Name”

Thoughts: Everyone loves an underdog story. Bonnie Raitt had been working for decades before bottoming out in the 1980s, both professionally and personally.  So it was an unexpected thing when this stripped-down blues rock album became a huge deal in 1989 and continued to be a hit album for some years afterward.  I don’t love the music of Bonnie Raitt, but I’m not going to run away if someone puts this album on, and I can definitely appreciate the effort and spirit she put into achieving this stunning moment of success.


Artist: Harry Styles
Album: Fine Line
Year: 2019
Label: Columbia
Have I Listened to This Album Before?:  No
Am I Familiar With This Artist/Songs from This Album?:  Not at all
Would I Listen to this Album Again?: Not likely
Favorite Tracks:

  • ‘Adore You”

Thoughts: My knowledge of boy bands is extremely limited, and about all I knew about One Direction is that they existed and had a member with the same first name as me. I was surprised when I learned that they only debuted in 2010 and have already broken up and gone on to successful solo careers.  Which leads me to this Harry Styles album. I had no idea what to expect, but I was still surprised that the several songs have a folky style, sometimes akin to the Laurel Canyon sound of the 1970s. The album is eminently listenable and while I would also file it in my “not my thing” category, I’m glad I gave it a chance.


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’

Favorite Songs of 1982


The project continues with my favorite songs of 1982.  Read the first post for the detail on this project.

I remember the music of 1982 well, because I received a portable radio/tape player as a first communion gift.  That radio and I were inseparable, and every Sunday I would listen to America’s Top 40 with Casey Kasem.  Looking at the Billboard charts for 1982, I’m familiar with pretty much every song, which I can’t say for a lot of years.

Come On Eileen – Dexy’s Midnight Runners

Gardening at Night – R.E.M.

I Melt With You – Modern English

1999 – Prince and the Revolution

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x13qw7u_prince-1999_music

Our House – Madness

Pass The Dutchie – Musical Youth

Save It For Later – The English Beat

Sexual Healing – Marvin Gaye

Steppin’ Out – Joe Jackson

Straight to Hell  – The Clash

And my song of shame for 1982: Pac-Man Fever – Buckner and Garcia

What are your favorite songs of 1982?  Let me know in the comments!

Favorite Songs Of 1973


In celebration of forty years on this planet, I’m going to post my favorite songs from every year since I was born until now. There will be one list per day every day for next 40 days.  And yes, if you’re a long-time reader, I did try this project before but dropped the ball about halfway through.

The basic gist is that I will make a list in alphabetical order of 10 songs that I love from a particular year.  An artist or band may appear only once per year.  Since this is a retrospective exercise and I’ve learned about many songs and artists long after their work was release, I’m also going to list one song that charted that year that I loved at that time that it shames me to admit (although in some cases I may still listen to it as a guilty pleasure).

And so, for my first list, my favorite songs of 1973:

Baby We Got a Date (Rock It Baby) – Bob Marley & The Wailers

Could It Be I’m Falling In Love – The Spinners

Here I Am (Come and Take Me) – Al Green

I Hope That I Don’t Fall In Love With You – Tom Waits

Let’s Get It On – Marvin Gaye

Midnight Train to Georgia – Gladys Knight & The Pips

Over The Hills And Far Away – Led Zeppelin

Prisencolinensinainciusol – Adriano Celentano

Superstition – Stevie Wonder

Two Steps from the Blues – Bobby “Blue” Bland

And the song of shame for 1973 is Piano Man – Billy Joel

What are your favorite songs from 1973?  Let me know in the comments!