Music Discoveries: Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time 100-91


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
430-421 330-321 230-221 130-121
420-411 320-311 220-211 120-111
410-401 310-301 210-201 110-101

Artist: The Band
AlbumMusic from Big Pink
Year: 1968
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?: Maybe
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Tears of Rage”
  • “To Kingdom Come”
  • “The Weight”

Thoughts: I love “The Weight” and The Last Waltz is a great movie, but overall I think The Band are overrated.  This album is just fine but maybe doesn’t deserve it’s automatic placement in these greatest albums of all time lists. The songs “This Wheels on Fire” and “I Shall Be Released” have become standards, but oddly I don’t like The Band’s version compared with the many, many covers.


Artist: Taylor Swift
Album: Red
Year: 2012
Label: Big Machine
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?: Not this version
Favorite Tracks:

  • “I Knew You Were Trouble.”
  • “All Too Well”
  • “22”
  • “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together”

Thoughts: Too bad Taylor’s version of Red hasn’t been released so I could listen to that instead of the version owned by corporate crooks.  Taylor Swift was not on my radar in 2012 so listening to this album is like piecing together a decade’s worth of background music and pop cultural references.  Swift’s music is undeniably catchy and she’s a great lyricist as well.  I also am getting some schadenfreude over the klassik rawk bros who must’ve popped a gasket when they saw Taylor Swift ranked ahead of The Band.


Artist: Lucinda Williams
Album: Car Wheels on a Gravel Road
Year: 1998
Label: Mercury
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:

  • “Car Wheels on a Gravel Road”
  • “Drunken Angel”
  • “Can’t Let Go”
  • “Jackson”

Thoughts: Lucinda Williams manages to sing with the gravely voice of experience while at the same time sounding youthful and vulnerable.  Williams’ albums are on of my big “discoveries” of this project.


Artist: Metallica
Album: Master of Puppets
Year: 1986
Label: Elektra
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:

  • “Orion”
  • “Damage, Inc.”

Thoughts: I didn’t think I’d have much to say about this mid-80s Heavy Metal album.  But I really liked the last two tracks: the instrumental “Orion” with a virtuosic guitar performance and the speed metal of “Damage, Inc.”


Artist: R.E.M.
Album: Automatic for the People
Year: 1992
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?: No
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Everybody Hurts”
  • “Nightswimming”

Thoughts: I’ve made no secret that Automatic for the People and its predecessor Out of Time made me fall out of love with R.E.M. It actually took me 20 years to discover that a lot of people really loved this album.  I will aver that this is not a bad album, and I can’t fault people who love it.  Nevertheless, my mind boggles that only one of R.E.M.’s great albums of 1980s made this list.


Artist: Drake
AlbumTake Care
Year: 2011
Label: Cash Money
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:

  • “Lord Knows”
  • “Cameras/Good Ones Go Interlude”

Thoughts: I didn’t find this early Drake album to be all that exciting although it does have some interesting beats and melodies.


Artist: The Stooges
AlbumFunhouse
Year: 1970
Label: Elektra
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:

  • “Loose”
  • “L.A. Blues”

Thoughts: Did The Stooges invent post-punk before there was punk?


Artist: Missy “Misdemeanor” Elliott
Album: Supa Dupa Fly
Year:1997
Label: Goldmind
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 Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)”
  • “Izzy Izzy Ahh”

Thoughts: My ignorance of 90s hip-hop knows no bounds so this was another first listen for me. Elliott is a lot smoother than I’d expect of someone with the nickname Misdemeanor.


500 albums jimi hendrix experience axis bold as love

Artist: The Jimi Hendrix Experience
Album: Axis: Bold as Love
Year: 1967
Label: Track
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:

  • “Spanish Castle Magic”
  • “Wait Until Tomorrow”
  • “Little Wing”

Thoughts: Jimi Hendrix released three studio albums before his life was cut short and they are all in the top 100 of this list.  This seems like a very 60’s-obsessed Boomers at Rolling Stone thing to do.  But I can’t deny that all of Hendrix’s albums are great, and this one features a lot of musical inventiveness and exploration of new styles.


Artist: Bruce Springsteen
Album: Darkness on the Edge of Town
Year: 1978
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:

  • “Badlands”
  • “The Promised Land”

Thoughts: This is a good Bruce Springsteen album but I’m surprised it is ranked higher than Nebraska and Born in the U.S.A. which I enjoyed a whole lot more.  Of course, I love “Hungry Heart” and “Glory Days” so I don’t expect diehard fans of The Boss to give my thoughts much credence.


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

 

Music Discoveries: Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time 170-161


A year ago, 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
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
410-401 310-301 210-201

Artist: Cream
Album: Disraeli Gears
Year: 1967
Label: Reaction
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:

  • “Sunshine of Your Love”
  • “Tales of Brave Ulysses”

Thoughts: Disraeli Gears is always hailed as the big album for Cream, but I much prefer the more straightforward blues approach of their debut Fresh Cream, as well as songs from later in their career like “Badge,” “Crossroads,” “Anyone for Tennis,” and “I’m So Glad.”  But none of that makes the RS 500 list, so I’ll have to admit that “Sunshine of Your Love” and “Tales of Brave Ulysses” are great, if overplayed, tunes.


Artist: Billy Joel
AlbumThe Stranger
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:

  • “Movin’ Out (Anthony’s Song)”
  • “Just the Way You Are”
  • “Scenes from an Italian Restaurant”
  • “Only the Good Die Young”

Thoughts: The very first album I owned (co-owned with my sister) was Billy Joel’s Glass Houses, which sadly does not make this chart. But early in my Billy Joel fandom I came to the realization that The Stranger is undoubtedly the peak album of his career.  Anyhow, I know it’s fashionable to hate Billy Joel, but I’m glad that Rolling Stone acknowledged his place in rock/pop history.


Artist: Steely Dan
Album: Can’t Buy A Thrill
Year: 1972
Label: ABC
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: Despite finding guilty pleasure for “Yacht Rock,” I draw the line at Steely Dan, who I have never, ever liked.  This album turns out to have a number of classic rock radio staples that I didn’t know were by Steely Dan.  I still don’t like them.  I do wonder though, since Billy Joel is someone whose style of music doesn’t fit in with what I typically like, what would’ve happened if I’d been given a Steely Dan record as a child?


Artist: Depeche Mode
Album: Violator
Year: 1990
Label: Sire
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:

  • “World in My Eyes”
  • “Personal Jesus”
  • “Enjoy the Silence”
  • “Policy of Truth”

Thoughts:  Before Nirvana spearheaded the breakthrough of grunge, electronic music/synthpop bands from the U.K. were the dominant force in “alternative music.” Violator was basically a soundtrack to my high school years (as was Erasure’s The Innocents which Rolling Stone has somehow, uh, erased from the greatest albums list).


Artist: Buddy Holly
Album20 Golden Greats
Year: 1978
Label: MCA
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:

  • “That’ll Be The Day”
  • “Words of Love”
  • “Everyday”
  • “Not Fade Away”
  • “Oh Boy!”
  • “Maybe Baby”
  • “Rave On”

Thoughts: Buddy Holly was one of the great rock & roll pioneers and his tragic death occurred before LP records became an artistic goal of R&R artists, so I’ll excuse the compilation in this case.  Every song on this album is truly a “great” and there’s a stunning number of songs that later great rock artists made their own.


Artist: R.E.M.
Album: Murmur
Year: 1983
Label: I.R.S.
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:

  • “Radio Free Europe”
  • “Pilgrimage”
  • “Talk About the Passion”
  • “Moral Kiosk”
  • “Sitting Still”
  • “We Walk”

Thoughts: There are surprisingly few R.E.M. albums on this list apart from Murmur, their brilliant debut album, and a later album I’ve never liked.  I could make the case for Life’s Rich Pageant, Document, and Green all being on the list, but alas, I’m not a RS500 voter.  At any rate, I can’t imagine what it was like for listeners trying make sense of Murmur in 1983.  It’s too melodic for punk, too folk for New Wave, and too cryptic for pop.  Despite not being of its time, the songs on Murmur have a timeless quality.


Artist: Johnny Cash
AlbumAt Folsom Prison
Year: 1968
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:

  • “Folsom Prison Blues”
  • “I Still Miss Someone”
  • “25 Minutes To Go”
  • “The Long Black Veil”
  • “Flushed From the Bathroom of Your Heart”
  • “Jackson”
  • “Greeen, Green Grass of Home”

Thoughts: Johnny Cash took seriously the teaching of Jesus Christ to visit the prisoner. This album recorded in a prison contains songs about prison, by prisoners, and most importantly, to entertain prisoners.  The enthusiastic response of the audience of imprisoned men complements the perfect performances of these songs by Cash along with June Carter, Carl Perkins, and the Tennessee Three. You can feel the disappointment when the prisoners are dismissed at the end.


Artist: Various Artists
AlbumSaturday Night Fever
Year: 1977
Label: RSO
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?: Just the good songs
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Stayin’ Alive” – The Bee Gees
  • “How Deep Is Your Love?” – The Bee Gees
  • “Night Fever” – The Bee Gees
  • “If I Can’t Have You” – Yvonne Elliman
  • “You Should Be Dancing” – The Bee Gees
  • “Disco Inferno” – The Trammps

Thoughts: Disco does not suck.  The Bee Gees had an imperial period in the 1970s by basically appropriating Black and Latin American dance music.  This album contains many of the Bee Gees greatest disco hits. But I also appreciated that other disco artists like Yvonne Elliman (singing a song penned by the Gibb Brothers) and The Trammps are represented. I’m less impressed by the ponderous instrumental tracks especially the silly tracks like “A Fifth of Beethoven” and “Night on Disco Mountain” which contributed to disco’s bad reputation.


Artist: Pulp
AlbumDifferent Class
Year: 1995
Label: Island
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:

  • “Mis-Shapes”
  • “Common People”
  • “Sorted for E’s & Wizz”

Thoughts: Pulp is another band I missed out on by being oblivious to the whole Britpop phenomenon.  Although that’s not entirely true, because I always liked “Mile End” from the Trainspotting soundtrack and I sort of recognize “Common People” from this album (Actually, I recognize it because of a cover by William Shatner, of all people!).  Anyhow it’s a pretty good album to discover 25 years too late.


Artist: Crosby, Stills & Nash
Album: Crosby, Stills & Nash
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:

  • “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes”
  • “Guinnevere”
  • “You Don’t Have to Cry”
  • “Pre-Road Downs”
  • “Long Time Gone”
  • “49 Bye-Byes”

Thoughts: Crosby, Stills & Nash introduced the supergroup and soon pioneered arena rock as well.  This was followed by group in-fighting and a severe decline in musical quality.  But their debut album displays their absolute peak songwriting and gorgeous harmonies.


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

 

Podcasts of the Week for July 21st


Hit Parade :: The Deadbeat Club, Part 2

This examination of the late 80s output of the two great bands of Athens, GA – R.E.M. and B-52s – fills me with painful nostalgia.

Have You Heard? :: The Problem with Fear-Based School Reform

Do schools work better when they’re “run like a business” and teachers and administrators are forced to work in a culture of fear where they’re expected to get results or else?  Or do we recognize the nurturing mission of schools and support reforms lead by educators who know the children best? And how much of so-called “education reform” is rooted in anti-labor sentiment anyway?  These questions and more are discussed on “Have You Heard?”

WBUR News :: Faneuil Hall, School Assignments

Boston’s ongoing history of inequality and racism are addressed in two current stories about Faneuil Hall, a building named for a slaveholder, and the lack of quality education for the city’s most vulnerable communities.

BackStory :: The Melting Pot

Stories of assimilation of immigrants, Native Americans, and hyphenated-Americans throughout our history.

Podcasts of the Week Ending July 7


Fresh Air :: The Pediatrician Who Exposed the Flint Water Crisis

Interview with Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha who exposed the Flint water crisis.  She also discusses growing up as a child of Iraqi refugees.

99% Invisible :: Right to Roam

I’ve always been amazed by how Britain protects the rights of walker/hikers to cross land that’s privately owned.  Whereas in the US, one is liable to be shot for doing so.

Ben Franklin’s World :: Brian Regal, The Secret History of the New Jersey Devil

If you’ve ever heard the legend of the New Jersey Devil, you imagine it as a cryptozooligical creature inhabiting the Pine Barrens.   Turns out that the story originates instead with a 17th-century colonist named Daniel Leeds who published an almanac that ran afoul of the Quaker authorities!

Disney History Institute :: Winsor McCay and the Origins of American Animation

Early animation originated as part of a vaudeville act featuring a trained dinosaur.

99% Invisible :: Beyond Biohazard

A video podcasts explores the effort to let future generations know that something is dangerous without using language or symbols that won’t be understood.

Hit Parade :: The Deadbeat Club Edition

The first part of the story of how two very different New Wave acts emerged from Athens, GA in the 1980s.

Bands I Broke Up With


Recently, the All Songs Considered podcast rebroadcast an episode called Breaking Up With Your Favorite Bands.  It’s all about the moment when your realize that the band or artist you loved so much, you just don’t love anymore.  It could be them, it could be you.  You might still love the old stuff, or you might make a clean break.

So here are some of the bands that I broke up with and the reasons why.

eddie from ohio

Through the 1990s I was a huge fan of this folk-pop band who are actually from Virginia and I saw them in concert more times than any other performer.  They were an energetic and fun live band with great banter between songs. Their songs were introspective and witty (some songs made me laugh every time I heard them), they alternated vocals among three singers, and everything was powered by a unique percussion of Eddie Hartness’ drumkit.  Then in 2001 they released an album called Quick, the music sounded more light rock and the funny bits made me laugh once if at all.  Worst of all, in concert they seemed to abandon all the old songs I loved as well as their silly personas to become more button-down.  I think they’ve only released one album since our breakup and don’t tour much anymore, so maybe the time was up for them as well.

Dave Matthews Band

Another band I came to like when I went to college in Virginia.  During my freshman year they were playing bars in college towns, but by my senior year they were doing national arena tours.  In between that I saw them open for a concert at William & Mary for Toad the Wet Sprocket (who were actually a big deal at the time).  Their sound was unique for the mid-1990s and I liked the emphasis on the virtuoso performances of the fiddler, saxophonist, and drummer.  Then I went to  New Year’s concert in 1997 and realized that Dave Matthews himself was a obnoxious dudebro.  But what really brought an end to our affair was that after the first two albums, the sound of the band turned more into the typical bland, post-grunge sound that was common in that era.  I broke up and didn’t look back.

Sting

I first became aware of Sting and The Police when their Synchronicity album came out in 1983.  My sister was a big fan but I could take it or leave it.  But something about Sting’s …Nothing Like the Sun album appealed to me and I went back and discovered the earlier Police albums and I became a fan.  For a bit.   I was excited when The Soul Cages came out and it seemed profound that it was all about the death of his father at the same time that my own father died.  But the more I listened to it, the less I liked it. Ensuing Sting releases were increasingly bland and I reverted to my earlier take on Sting.

Lenny Kravitz

Let Love Rule came out in 1989 and I randomly selected the tape from Columbia House.  While the music is deeply derivative of 60s and 70s psychedelia and soul, it also didn’t sound much like anything else released at the time.  Add to the fact that I was coming out of my Klassik Rawk phase and it was nice to have a currently released album I could enjoy.  Perhaps it was a bridge to more contemporary released music for me?  At any rate, subsequent releases by Lenny Kravitz were cheezier and poppier, and I quietly stepped off the Kravitz bandwagon.

The Doors

Speaking of the Klassik Rawk period, I suppose there’s a time when many a teenager starts listening to The Doors and thinks that Jim Morrison was a tragic poet.  I didn’t get too deep, although I did read No One Here Gets Out Alive.  Nevertheless, it didn’t take me long to realize that after their debut album, most of the music released by The Doors was crap, a view I still hold to this day.

Fishbone

Fishbone was the first band I ever saw in concert, and wow – what a first concert. Intense music, dancing, moshing, crowd-surfing (I was nearly dropped on my head, naturally). Lead singer Angelo Moore even inducted concertgoers into the Fishbone family.  So it was very hard when Give a Monkey a Brain and He’ll Swear He’s the Center of the Universe came out in 1993 and the band seemed to have abandoned their consciousness-raising ska/funk/soul for something that sounded like metal with nonsense lyrics.  Apparently the band was going through a troubled stretch and maybe I shouldn’t have abandoned them at such a hard time, but I still love what we had in the good days.

They Might Be Giants

Here’s a band I broke up with but then got back together again.  I was a huge fan in high school and college, and TMBG ended being the second band I saw in concert (back when it was the two Johns and a drum machine).  I listened to Flood and Lincoln endlessly, and their other albums slightly less often.  Then their album John Henry came out in 1994 and it left me cold.  The magic was gone.  Fast forward about five years and I randomly picked up their live album Severe Tire Damage, and suddenly, the magic was back.  I saw them in concert again and it was awesome.  They started releasing family/children’s albums and they were awesome.  I went to one of their family/children’s concerts and it was awesome.  We are now happily growing old together.

REM

Probably one of the most painful breakups.  I became of fan of REM in the late 80s and basically got all of their albums at once.  There was a long break, it seemed, between their last album of the 1980s, Green, and their first album of the 1990s, Out of Time.  When it finally came out, I was excited, but after hearing “Losing My Religion” for the umpteenth million time on the radio I was tired of it and realized I didn’t like much else on the album.  I had big hopes for the next album Automatic for the People, but I liked it even less.  Worse, at the time I was growing disillusioned with REM, the rest of the world was falling in love with them and making these two albums best sellers.  I may have said some nasty things, like “corporate sellout.”  But ultimately, we were just going in different directions.  We get back together now and again – I even liked UP at the time it was released – but mostly REM is pleasant memory of my youth in the 1980s.

So what bands did you break up with? Let me know in the comments.

Songs of the Week: Third by The Baseball Project


Baseball returned this week and appropriately the band The Baseball Project released their third album, named Third.  The Baseball Project seems an unlikely collaboration of 80s rockers including two members of R.E.M – Peter Buck and Mike Mills.  Good songs about baseball are few and far between with the typical lyrics being cheezy tributes to some moral ideal of the game or a hagiography of great players (see Terry Cashman).  The Baseball Project is better than that as the music varies from punk rock to country twang and even talking blues on “The Baseball Card Song.”  Lyrically, they celebrate the good and bad of baseball, most vividly in “They Played Baseball” which lists a gallery of baseball’s worst rogues, who someone ended up loving anyway, because, well it’s in the title.  Similarly, the troubled life of Lenny Dystrka – one of my favorite Mets when I was a kid – is summed up in “From Nails to Thumbtacks.”  Players like Dock Ellis, Alex Rodriguez, Dale Murphy, and the entire Oakland A’s also get their own songs.  Then there’s “Extra Inning of Love” which makes baseball metaphors far more sexy than Meat Loaf could ever hope to.

It’s a fun album, worth checking out if you like baseball, good music, and good stories.

“They Played Baseball”

“From Nails to Thumbtacks”

“The Baseball Card Song”

“Extra Inning of Love”

 

Check out Desert Island Mix Tape for another review of this album.

 

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!