Music Discoveries: Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time 300-291

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

Artist: Shania Twain
AlbumCome on Over
Year: 1997
Label: Mercury
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:

  • Man! I Feel Like a Woman”

Thoughts:  Despite Rolling Stones assertion that  this is one of the biggest albums of all time, I didn’t listen to contemporary country in the 1990s, so I didn’t expect to know any of these songs.  I was wrong. “Man! I Feel Like a Woman” may be the first song on this list that I only recognize because its (over)use in social media posts.  Nice to know who sings it. I also discovered that I recognized “From This Moment On” which sounds like it should be in a movie soundtrack. As does the utterly familiar “You’re Still the One.”

Artist: B.B. King
AlbumLive at the Regal
Year: 1965
Label: ABC-Paramount
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:

  • “Sweet Little Angel”
  • “How Blue Can You Get?”
  • “Worry, Worry”
  • “You Done Lost Your Good Thing Now”

Thoughts:  B.B. King’s distinctive voice and distinctive guitar-playing style are showcased in this blistering live performance recording.  It’s records like this that make me wish I had a time machine that could take me to Chicago on November 21, 1964.

Artist: Tom Petty
Album: Full Moon Fever
Year: 1989
Label: MCA
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:

  • “Free Fallin'”
  • “I Won’t Back Down”
  • “Runnin’ Down a Dream”

Thoughts: Like Neil Young, the music of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers never did much for me despite it being the work of clearly talented artists.  This was the first album Petty recorded as a “solo” artist (with a lot of help from his friends) and it really caught my attention back in 1989.  This album musically feels like a spinoff from the Traveling Wilburys and George Harrison, Jeff Lynne, and Roy Orbison all contributed as well as most of the Heartbreakers and session drummer Jim Keltner.  I was disappointed by the Wilburys’ first album but ended up really liking Full Moon Fever.  It still holds up pretty well 30+ years later.

Artist: Peter Gabriel
Year: 1986
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:

  • “Red Rain”
  • “Sledgehammer”
  • “Don’t Give Up”

ThoughtsSo was among the first albums I owned as a child.  I ranked in #16 in my 2009 list of favorite albums of all time.  And I revisited the album last year in my Peter Gabriel Music Discovery.  I really like the album is what I’m saying.

Artist: Neil Young
AlbumRust Never Sleeps
Year: 1979
Label: Reprise
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:

  • “My My, Hey Hey (Out of the Blue)”

Thoughts: Speaking of Neil Young, here is his weekly appearance in this project.  This album is largely acoustic, downtempo, and goes in one ear and out the other without making much an impression on me.  Maybe people need a special type of neuron to fully appreciate Neil Young’s music.

Artist: Daft Punk
AlbumRandom Access Memories
Year: 2013
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?:
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Giorgio by Morodor”
  • “Touch (feat. Paul Williams)”
  • “Get Lucky (feat. Pharrell Williams and Nile Rogers)”
  • “Motherboard”
  • “Contact”

Thoughts: Daft Punk seamlessly blends 50’s sci fi, 70s disco, 80s ambient synth music, and contemporary EDM on this massively successful LP.  In a nice nod to their predecessors there’s a song tribute to Giorgio Morodor, and Nile Rogers joins them on “Get Lucky,” a song everyone loves.  A lot of the album is down-tempo and doesn’t appeal enough to me to return to on the whole, although there are numerous standout tracks.

Artist: Weezer
Year: 1994
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:

  • “My Name is Jonas”
  • “The World Has Turned and Left Me Here”
  • “Buddy Holly”
  • “Undone – The Sweater Song”
  • “In the Garage”  – ironically I like this song far better than anything by Kiss

Thoughts: Weezer is a band that people heap vitriolic hate upon merely because they are not as good as they used to be.  But this album is from when they were definitely considered good.  Weezer’s debut album hit my senior year of college and their brand of nerdy power pop was a salve in the days when grungy alt-rock had past its peak.  I stuck with Weezer for quite a long time after this album, and I definitely don’t hate them even if the quality of their music has gone down consistently.

Artist: The Breeders
Album: Last Splash
Year: 1993
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:

  • “Cannonball”
  • “Roi”
  • “I Just Want to Get Along”
  • “Divine Hammer”
  • “Saints”
  • “Drivin’ on 9”

Thoughts: Speaking of college, there was a time when I couldn’t walk down a dormitory corridor without hearing this album playing in someone’s room.  “Cannonball” was that unique song that everyone seemed to like, from the cooler-than-thou music snobs to the Christian rock kids.  I ranked Last Splash at 53 in my 2009 list of favorite albums, which seems low in retrospect.  Anyhow, getting to listen to Weezer and The Breeders back to back is like being reunited with old friends.

Artist: Van Halen
AlbumVan Halen
Year: 1978
Label: Warner Bros.
Have I Listened to This Album Before?: No
Am I Familiar With This Artist/Songs from This Album?: Yes
Would I Listen to this Album Again?: Yes
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Runnin’ with the Devil”
  • “I’m the One”

Thoughts:  I’ve never had a strong affinity for Van Halen, but never disliked the band either. Eddie Van Halen’s guitar virtuosity and David Lee Roth’s seemingly improvised – and frequently horny – lyrics are irresistible.  Turns out that this is an extremely solid, if ear-splitting, debut album.

Artist: Destiny’s Child
AlbumThe Writing’s on the Wall
Year: 1999
Label: Columbia
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:

Thoughts: I was oblivious of Destiny’s Child when they were the big thing.  Mainly I know them as where Beyoncé got her start, which is probably unfair to the rest of the group. They definitely sound like a good r&b vocal group, but, you know, not my thing.  It’s a long album though so Destiny’s Child fans got their money’s worth!

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


Music Discoveries: Peter Gabriel, Real World Records era

In previous posts I’ve examined Peter Gabriel’s origins with the band Genesis, and is increasingly successful output as a solo artist. Never one to follow trends, Gabriel followed up his hit album So by creating a new label called Real World Records, which would release his remaining albums to date as well as the work of non-Western musical artists, helping popularize World Music.  Gabriel’s output has been slight over the past 30 years compared with his earlier career, but there’s still a lot that I missed out on.

Title: Passion
Released: June 5, 1989
Label: Real World

Three years after achieving rock stardom with So, Gabriel returns with a collection of instrumental tunes drawing on Middle Eastern and African influences as a soundtrack to the controversial Martin Scorsese film The Last Temptation of Christ.  Not at all your typical career move.  I remember not liking the movie all that much, not because it was offensive but because it was weird.  Nevertheless I did play parts of Passion on my college World Music radio show.  I don’t think I appreciated the soundtrack album all that well, though, because listening to it now I find it far more entrancing and engaging.  Perhaps it was ahead of its time?

Rating: ****

Title: Us
Released: September 29, 1992
Label: Real World

After a six year wait, Gabriel returned with an album of new songs and it was a big deal.  I remember listening to this on repeat when it came out my sophomore year of college but not at all since then.  I found it worth revisiting, although ironically, two of the singles from the album are the weakest tracks: “Steam” is derivative of “Sledgehammer while “Kiss That Frog” is a puerile request for a blowjob.  The other hit from this album, “Digging in the Dirt,” is an excellent reflection of relationships which also doubled as my theme song for all the archaeological fieldwork I was doing at the time.  “Washing of the Water” is a song I didn’t recall but really liked upon revisiting.

Rating: ***1/2

Title: Secret World Live
Released: September 13, 1994
Label: Real World

I’m entering into uncharted territory here, as I’m not familiar with really any of Gabriel’s post-Us catalog, albeit it is mostly live albums and soundtracks. This album features live performances of songs from Us plus as smattering of earlier hits. In a very 90s moment, Paula Cole lends her lovely voice as a substitute for Kate Bush on “Don’t Give Up.”

Rating: ***1/2

Title: OVO
Released: June 12, 2000
Label: Real World

The soundtrack to the Millenium Dome Show features guest performances by Neneh Cherry, Rasco, Richie Havens, Elizabeth Fraser, and Paul Buchanan, although I can’t find a source that credits which tracks they each appear on.  The songs tell a story of some sort and are a mix of genres.  The opening track features a rap which works surprisingly well with Gabriel’s grooves.  Other tracks have a Celtic sound reminiscent of the Afro-Celt Sound System (who are Real World artists, so maybe not a coincidence).  There are some good moments and some meh moments but nothing stands out as really amazing or terrible.  I am curious to what this show was like, though.

Rating: ***

Title: Long Walk Home: Music from the Rabbit-Proof Fence
Released: April 16, 2002
Label: Real World

Another soundtrack from Peter Gabriel with instrumental, atmospheric, World Music-y, tunes.  It’s fine and good, but I’m realizing that even though I’m listening to these over a few days, Peter Gabriel’s essential sound has remained unchanged for a decade now.  I do need to this movie.

Rating: ***

Title: Up
Released: September 24, 2002
Label: Real World

After a ten year absence, Peter Gabriel returns with a new studio album of original songs (which is also his most recent to date!).  I remember hearing “The Barry Williams Show” when it first came out, felt puzzled about why Gabriel was satirizing the Jerry Springer show a decade after it was trendy, and pretty much shrugged it off.  I may have been too hasty as there are some worthwhile tracks on this album.  He apparently spent the 90s listening to industrial music which is evident in tracks like “Darkness” and “Growing Up.” Ultimately, though, this album seems disappointing after the long wait.

Rating: **1/2

Title: Big Blue Ball
Released: June 24, 2008
Label: Real World, Rykodisc

This is less of a Peter Gabriel album than a collaborative project.  Gabriel is joined by artists from around the world including Wendy Melvoin of Wendy & Lisa, Sinéad O’Connor, Karl Wallinger (of World Party), Natacha Atlas, and Papa Wemba.  Recorded over several sessions in the 1990s, it has that enjoyable, if a bit dated, sound of World Beat fusion, something I’d have enjoyed on an album released by Ellipsis Arts, or Real World Records. I enjoy “Habibe,” “Shadow,” “Forest,” and “Jijy” most.

Rating: ****

Title: Scratch My Back
Released: February 12, 2010
Label: Real World

Maybe Peter Gabriel has had writer’s block for decades, because after another eight-year absence, he released an album entirely of cover songs.  The songs are from Gabriel’s contemporaries like David Bowie, Paul Simon, and Lou Reed as well as newer artists who were influenced by Gabriel such as Bon Iver, Arcade Fire, and Radiohead.  Unfortunately, every single interpretation is slow and maudlin, adding no value to original versions of these songs.  A disappointment piled upon disappointments.

Rating: **


Title: New Blood
Released: October 10, 2011
Label: Real World

Gabriel returns again, this time with orchestral arrangements of his previous work.  It’s kind of like a greatest hits with symphonic accompaniment.  Appropriately the music has a cinematic sound which fits in with all of Gabriel’s soundtrack work. Some tracks profit from the arrangement like “Rhythm of the Heat” and “Red Rain.”  Others, like “In Your Eyes,” lake the urgency of the original recordings and end up sounding dirge-like.  It’s a nice experiment but does make one wonder about Gabriel’s lack of new material.

Rating: ***


Title: Growing Up Live
Released: February 8, 2019
Label: Real World

Peter Gabriel’s most recent album release is a live concert recording that’s not all that recent (it was recorded and released as a concert film in 2003).  It is an excellent concert with guest vocals by The Blind Boys of Alabama.  I’d like to attend a Peter Gabriel concert if the opportunity presents itself in the future (and we’re allowed to go to concerts).

Rating: ***1/2

And so concludes my investigation of five decades of the musical creations of Peter Gabriel. Let’s hope he has some more music to add to his catalog before too long!

Music Discoveries: Peter Gabriel, 70s and 80s Solo Career

After leaving Genesis, Peter Gabriel embarked on a solo career where he ventured into music unlike he created with the band.  His music was both experimental and political.  And yet, within 10 years, he would find himself at the top of the Billboard Hot 100, ironically usurping his former bandmates from their first #1 hit.

Title: Peter Gabriel (Car)
Released: February 25, 1977
Label: Charisma

Peter Gabriel makes his solo debut with the first of four eponymously-titled albums, much to the irritation of his record company. The album is a grab-bag of pop music genres, with a definite harder rock sound that Genesis on many of them, but also dabbling in the Blue and music hall. The standout track, of course, is “Solsbury Hill,” a folk rock tune that sounds nothing like Gabriel’s Genesis work. It’s clearly an all-time great song that somehow manages to get airplay on classic rock radio while also being a proto-alternative music favorite.

Rating: ***

Title: Peter Gabriel (Scratch)
Released: June 3, 1978
Label: Charisma

It’s kind of boring.  This album has a prog rock pedigree with hints New Wave/prog rock to come.  Something about the music sounds like a weird Peter Gabriel attempt pastiche of stars of the late 70s like Elton John, David Bowie, Queen, Bruce Springsteen, and maybe even Billy Joel. None of it really works or holds together well.

Rating:  **

Title: Peter Gabriel (Melt)
Released: May 30, 1980
Label: Charisma

Definitely a bolder and more confident album from Gabriel.  And with radio staples like “Games With Frontiers” and “Biko,” it’s more familiar as well. I also like “I Don’t Remember” quite a bit.  This album really puts Gabriel on track to blending art music with rock in a weird but accessible way. It’s also interesting to hear Phil Collins and his “gated drums” on several tracks. “Biko” includes Gabriel’s first efforts to incorporate “World Beat” sounds into his music.

Rating: ****

Title: Peter Gabriel (Security)
Released: September 8, 1982
Label: Charisma

I would not become familiar with Peter Gabriel’s music until he released So, but retrospectively this album was the source of a lot of Gabriel’s best-recognized 1980s material, including like “Shock the Monkey” and “I Have the Touch.”  I also like “Rhythm of the Heat” and “Kiss of Life” a lot.  Gabriel’s pop/art rock crossover sound is fully developed here with further exploration into African, Latin American, and Native American sounds.

Rating: ****

Title: Plays Live
Released: June 9, 1983
Label: Charisma

Peter Gabriel’s greatest solo tunes get punched up with live performance energy.  I particularly like “The Rhythm of the Heat.”  But have you ever noticed that “D.I.Y.” kind of sounds like an 80s sitcom theme?

Rating: ****

Title: Birdy
Released: March 18, 1985
Label: Charisma

Gabriel’s first movie score is a collection of atmospheric, instrumental pieces heavy on synthesizers and percussion.  Some of the tracks derive from Gabriel’s earlier work like “Rhythm of the Heat” and “San Jacinto.”  I really liked this a lot more than I expected.

Rating: ****

Title: So
Released: May 19, 1986
Label: Charisma

This is where I came in.  The bombastic horns of “Sledgehammer” were my introduction to Peter Gabriel.  And while So is Gabriel’s most pop and accessible recording of his career, it was still experimental enough to be a revelation to 12-year-old me, especially on tracks like “We Do What We’re Told” and “This is the Picture.”  The hit songs still sound fresh, “Don’t Give Up” still makes me cry, and I may be colored by nostalgia, but I can’t find anything objectively wrong with this album.

Rating: *****

Next week, Peter Gabriel launches a new record label for himself and for the world. This final post will bring us up to the present day.

Music Discoveries: Peter Gabriel, The Genesis Years

When I was a child in the mid-1980s the radio was full of hit songs by bands like Genesis and Mike and the Mechanics, and artists like Peter Gabriel and Phil Collins. I was surprised to learn that all these artists came from the same band, Genesis, and while Phil Collins and Mike Rutherford (of Mike and the Mechanics) still recorded and toured with Genesis, Peter Gabriel had left the band in 1975 (which seemed like eons ago to young me). I liked Genesis well enough, but was really drawn to Peter Gabriel’s work especially due to his art rock, proto-alternative music, and world beat sounds.

It really struck me as unbelievable that irresistible cheezy pop music of 1980s Genesis and its 1980s spinoffs could have anything in common with the music of Peter Gabriel’s work. Yet all these years later I’ve still never listened to Genesis’ early work when Gabriel was the lead vocalist and songwriter for the band. So I’ve decided to do one of my Music Discoveries deep listens where I’m going to listen to all of the recorded output of Peter Gabriel’s career. This week I’ll focus on his time with Genesis from 1969 to 1975.

Title: From Genesis to Revelation
Released: March 7, 1969
Label: Decca

A very late-60s collection of Baroque pop. It starts strong with “Where the Sour Turns Sweet” and “In the Beginning,” but peters out after that. Peter Gabriel’s voice is so boyish it’s hard to recognize

Rating: **

Title: Trespass
Released: October 23, 1970
Label: Charisma

The music sounds more confident and energetic than on the previous album.  The sound is similar to Blind Faith with a bit of proto-prog rock thrown in.  Peter Gabriel has developed the familiar gravely timbre in his voice. Once again the album starts off strong with the first two tracks, “Looking for Someone” and “White Mountain,” being the best on the album. “The Knife” is supposed to be the favored single from this album but I don’t really hear anything than self-indulgent solos.

Rating: ***

Title: Nursery Cryme
Released: November 12, 1971
Label: Charisma

Phil Collins makes his Genesis debut! He even sings lead vocals on the short second track “For Absent Friends.” The album is mostly guitar solos, noodly jams, and so. much. Mellotron.  It’s kind of boring.  But you’ve got to admit that the drumming is good.

Rating: **

Title: Foxtrot
Released: October 6, 1972
Label: Charisma

The thing I’ve never been able to get into about progressive rock (and a lot of rock music from the 1970s) is the excess.  The inordinately long songs (23 minutes!), the extensive soloing, the epic! dramatic! concepts!  This album has all that in spades.  I will admit thought that there is virtuosity in the performance on the instruments.  I find myself spacing out on the epic! sci-fi! story songs and just soaking in the musicality, which is fine.

Rating: ***

Title: Selling England by the Pound
Released: October 13, 1972
Label: Charisma

I think this is the best Genesis album to date. They’ve toned down the proggy excess and added some English folk music influences with some nice arrangements.  Once again, the first two tracks – “Dancing with the Moonlit Knight”  and “I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe)” – are the strongest on the album.

Rating: ***1/2

Title: Genesis Live
Released: August 3, 1973
Label: Charisma

This recording takes advantage of winnowing down the Genesis catalog and the energy of a live performance to create a solid album. Amazingly, the album has only five tracks, although they are all at least eight minutes long.  Despite the fact that I’ve been listening to Genesis all months, the tunes didn’t sound familiar for the most part.  I guess early Genesis was not as ear-wormy as 1980s Genesis.

Rating: ***1/2

Title: The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway
Released: November 18, 1974
Label: Charisma

Peter Gabriel’s final album with Genesis is a sprawling concept album about a fantastical journey of discovery by Rael, a young Puerto Rican from New York.  Because no one can tell a Nuyorican story like a guy from Surrey, I guess. Jokes aside, this is ambitious storytelling through song.  I particularly like the song titles and that many of the songs are much shorter than typical Genesis fare, lending the album some variety. The style of music is less proggy and more similar to Gabriel’s solo work.  While I can appreciate the effort, I don’t find it all too interesting.

Rating: ***

Ultimately, the music on these albums offers very little hint of what Genesis and it’s various spinoff projects would sound like in the 1980s. There is a bit a more of an indication of what Peter Gabriel would do, although I think at this period I believe the songs are too wordy and indulgent in instrumental solos, where as Gabriel would pare things back in a solo career (at least I think he does, I’ll found out next week). The music of early Genesis is not bad but it’s definitely not for me.

Podcasts of the Week Ending June 1

Futility Closet :: The General Slocum

The grim history of the worst maritime disaster in New York City.

Best of the Left :: Our built environment shapes society and vice versa

The issues of increasing urban density, building social housing, and deprioritizing the automobile in cities are near and dear in my heart. And yet, even Leftists tend to fall into the pro-car/pro-sprawl trap, so it’s good to hear these arguments for a more livable urbanism.

Hub History  ::  Love is Love: John Adams and Marriage Equality 

It seems like yesterday, but 15 years have passed since Massachusetts became the first state to perform legal same-sex marriages.  Here’s the history of how that came to be.

Sound Opinions  ::  De La Soul’s Three Feet High and Rising

I have a lot of nostalgia for De La Soul’s debut album which came out when I was a nerdy high school student.  The Sound Opinions crew explore how the album was created and explain why it’s so hard to find the album today.

Hit Parade :: The Invisible Miracle Sledgehammer Edition

If you turned on the radio in the mid-1980s, you were likely to hear music by members of Genesis (Phil Collins, Peter Gabriel, and Mike and the Mechanics) while the band Genesis continued to make hits.  Chris Molanphy explains this unusual situation in pop music history.

Running tally of 2019 Podcast of the Week appearances:

Favorite Songs Of 1977

The project continues with my favorite songs of 1977.  Read the first post for the detail on this project.

I’m now getting to the point where I’m having to make tough choices about what makes the top ten instead of trying to find songs to pad out the list.  1977-82 is a period of great music making, in my opinion.

Action Time Vision – ATV

Another Girl, Another Planet – The Only Ones

Chinese Rocks – Johnny Thunders & The Heartbreakers

Don’t Worry About The Government – Talking Heads

(Get A) Grip (On Yourself) – Stranglers

Lust For Life – Iggy Pop

One Love/People Get Ready – Bob Marley

Sheena Is A Punk Rocker – The Ramones

Solsbury Hill – Peter Gabriel

Turn the World Around – Harry Belafonte

And my song of shame for 1977 is Jet Airliner by Steve Miller Band

What are your favorite songs from 1977?  Let me know in the comments!