Music Discoveries: Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time 380-371


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

Previous Posts:


Artist: Charles Mingus
Album: Mingus Ah Uhm
Year: 1959
Label: Columbia
Have I Listened to This Album Before?: Yes
Am I Familiar With This Artist/Songs from This Album?: Yes
Would I Listen to this Album Again?: yes
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Better Get Hit In Your Soul”
  • “Goodby Pork Pie Hat”
  • “Fables of Faubus”

Thoughts: I can’t remember who introduced me to Charles Mingus’ work, but I started listening to his music in my college years and it really changed my understanding of what jazz could be.  This album draws inspiration from Duke Ellington while incorporating the bop styles of the 1950s (or the “modern jazz”) that Chuck Berry has no kick about).  Mingus and his band play the tunes fast and slow and it’s all inspired and gets in your soul.  I included this album as an honorable mention in my 2009 list of favorite albums, but it should probably rank higher.


Artist: Rush
Album: Moving Pictures
Year: 1981
Label: Anthem
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: None

Thoughts: As I’m sure I’ve mentioned on this blog before, I am no fan of 70s/80s prog rock. So my knowledge of Rush is basically limited to “Tom Sawyer,” the lead track of this album, and Geddy Lee’s screech guest vocal on Bob and Doug McKenzie’s “Take Off.” Listening to the entire album does not change my opinion any as I found it all very boring. But it least it wasn’t grating!


Artist: Run-DMC
Album: Run-D.M.C.
Year: 1983
Label: Profile
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:

  •  “Rock Box”
  • “Hollis Crew (Krush-Groove 2)”
  • “It’s Like That”

Thoughts: I grew up 35 miles from Queens, New York, and even closer to the birthplace of hip hop in the Bronx, but worlds apart in terms of culture and music. When rap music trickled out into the suburbs in the early 80s, one of the standard-bearers were Run-DMC. In fact, the first hip hop album I owned was by Run-DMC, but we’ll discuss that one later in this list. The debut album has a minimalist feel to its beats but Joseph “Run” Simmons and Darryl “D.M.C.” McDaniels already are expertly exchanging words on their rhymes.


 

Artist: Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Album: Fever to Tell
Year: 2003
Label: Interscope
Have I Listened to This Album Before?: Yes
Am I Familiar With This Artist/Songs from This Album?: Yes
Would I Listen to this Album Again?: Yes
Favorite Tracks:

  •  “Date With The Night”
  • “Pin”
  • “Maps”

Thoughts: It’s been a long while since I’ve listened to Fever To Tell, and it holds up as one of the great albums of the Oughts, although the sound and energy channel the post-punk era of 25 years earlier. This album started a revival of rock music being cool enough to play on commercial radio. And “Maps” inspired Kelly Clarkson’s “Since U Been Gone,” which is a good thing or a bad thing depending on if you like that song. But mostly this is just timeless and danceable rock music with Karen O’s distinctive vocals leading the way.


 

Artist: Neutral Milk Hotel
Album: In the Aeroplane Over the Sea
Year: 1998
Label: Merge
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:

  • “King of Carrot Flowers, Pts. 2 & 3”
  • “Holland, 1945”

Thoughts: I’ve heard of Neutral Milk Hotel, and know of some people who are devoted fans, but this is another album I failed to listen to before. The music on this album is something I don’t associate with the 1990s as it prefigures the folk-infused, baroque pop, indie rock of the 2000s from bands like Arcade Fire and The Decemberists. There are a few tracks I liked and overall the album is okay but it didn’t really grab me overall.


Artist: Green Day
Album: Dookie
Year: 1994
Label: Reprise
Have I Listened to This Album Before?: Yes
Am I Familiar With This Artist/Songs from This Album?: Yes
Would I Listen to this Album Again?: Yes
Favorite Tracks:

  •  “Longview”
  • “Basket Case”
  • “She”
  • “When I Come Around”

Thoughts: I got this album when it first came out because the track “Longview” – a very relatable tune for a directionless young adult – was in regular rotation on alternative radio. I remember listening to it for a while and then growing tired of it and getting rid of it. Listening to it now, I don’t understand why I made that decision, because this album holds up surprisingly well and has more memorable Green Day songs on it than I recalled.


 

Artist: Robert Johnson
Album: King of the Delta Blues Singers
Year: 1961
Label: Columbia
Have I Listened to This Album Before?: Essentially, since I got The Complete Recordings when it came out in 1990
Am I Familiar With This Artist/Songs from This Album?: Yes
Would I Listen to this Album Again?: Yes
Favorite Tracks:

  •  “Cross Road Blues”
  • “Come On In My Kitchen”
  • “Walkin’ Blues”
  • “Kind Hearted Woman Blues”
  • “Preachin’ Blues (Up Jumped the Devil)”
  • “When You Got a Good Friend”
  • “Traveling Riverside Blues

Thoughts: This is a good example of including a compilation album on this list because Robert Johnson recorded these songs in 1936-37 before long-playing records existed, and because it’s release in the 1960s was so influential on artists like the Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton, and Led Zeppelin. Of course, this album also launched various myths, such as the idea that “real” blues were men who were virtuoso guitarists when in reality the biggest blues stars of the 20s & 30s were women like Bessie Smith and Ma Rainey. Also, artists like Johnson would’ve have performed a variety of popular music types – including country – not just blues. I learned this from the excellent book Escaping the Delta by Elijah Wald which I highly recommend.


Artist: Isaac Hayes
AlbumHot Buttered Soul
Year: 1969
Label: Enterprise
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?: Ye
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Walk On By”
  • “Hyperbolicsyllabicsesquedalymistic”

Thoughts:


500 albums janice joplin big brother and the holding company cheap thrills

Artist: Big Brother and the Holding Company
Album: Cheap Thrills
Year: 1968
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:

  • “Combination of the Two”
  • “Piece of My Heart”
  • “Summertime”

Thoughts:


Artist: The Temptations
Album: Anthology
Year: 1973
Label: Tamla/Motown
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?: Yes
Favorite Tracks:

  • “The Way You Do The Things You Do”
  • “My Girl”
  • “Since I Lost My Baby”
  • “Don’t Look Back”
  • “Get Ready”
  • “Ain’t Too Proud To Beg”
  • “I Can’t Get Next To You”
  • “Psychedelic Shack”
  • “Ball of Confusion”
  • “I’m Gonna Make You Love Me”
  • “Just My Imagination”
  • “Papa Was A Rollin’ Stone”

Thoughts:


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

Music Discoveries: Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time 400-391


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.

NOTE: Due to my participation in the Blogging A-to-Z Challenge, I will be moving RS 500 posts to Sundays during April, so the next post will be on April 4.

Previous Posts:


Artist: The Go-Go’s
AlbumBeauty and the Beat
Year: 1981
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:

  • “Our Lips Are Sealed”
  • “How Much More”
  • “This Town”
  • “We Got The Beat”
  • “You Can’t Walk In Your Sleep (If You Can’t Sleep)”
  • “Skidmarks On My Heart”

Thoughts:  As a kid in the 1980s it was impressed upon me that The Go-Go’s were one of (if not the) first “all-girl” rock bands.  That may be an exageration, but according to Wikipedia “The band is the first all-female band that both wrote their own songs and played their own instruments to top the Billboard album charts.”  All that aside this album remains a collection of one of most exuberant pop/punk/new wave songs of the 1980s and a long-time favorite of mine.


Artist: Brian Wilson
AlbumSmile
Year: 2004
Label: Nonesuch
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:

  • “Mrs. O’Leary’s Cow”

Thoughts: Music critics admire the work of The Beach Boys and Brian Wilson far more than I do.  I confess, “Good Vibrations” is a terrific song, and the possibility of an entire album done in that style is intriguing.  But after Wilson had a mental breakdown making the album it seems unfortunate that people pestered him for decades to complete it and it’s grimly ironic that the album that arises from these circumstances is called Smile.  I’m obviously not the audience for this album but it seems that Smile wasn’t worth the wait.


Artist: The Raincoats
Album: The Raincoats
Year: 1979
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:

  • “Fairytale in the Supermarket”
  • “No Side to Fall In”
  • “Black and White”
  • “Lola”
  • “No Looking”

Thoughts: Another pleasant surprise from a band I’d not heard of before.  The Raincoats was released in the UK in 1979 and in the United States in 1993 and seemingly encapsulates the musical sound of both of those years perfectly.  The all-woman band plays dissonant punk rock that nevertheless is melodic and creative.  I especially appreciate the violin in the instrumentation, a saxophone solo on “Black and White,” and a cover of The Kink’s “Lola.”


Artist: Billie Eilish
Album: When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?
Year: 2019
Label: Interscope
Have I Listened to This Album Before?: Yes
Am I Familiar With This Artist/Songs from This Album?: Yes
Would I Listen to this Album Again?: Yes
Favorite Tracks:

  • “bad guy”
  • “you should see me in a crown”
  • “bury a friend”
  • “ilomilo”

Thoughts: I like Billie Eilish and I like this album, but I wonder if it’s a bit hasty to list a 17-year-old’s debut album on a greatest albums of all-time list one year after its release. Eilish reminds me a bit of Kate Bush who also released a remarkable debut album at a young age and then went on to a long and artistically-creative career.  There is one album by Bush on the RS 500 and it is not her debut album.  I wonder if a decade from now a new RS 500 list will have a different Eilish album (or albums) on the list.  Anyhow, if we’re including very recent albums from solo women artists on this list I would’ve listed Janelle Monáe’s Dirty Computer (2018) and Lizzo’s Cuz I Love You,  (2019), but neither made the list.


Artist: Todd Rundgren
Album: Something/Anything?
Year: 1972
Label: Bearsville
Have I Listened to This Album Before?: No
Am I Familiar With This Artist/Songs from This Album?: I didn’t know that I was familiar with his work
Would I Listen to this Album Again?: No
Favorite Tracks:
Thoughts: Todd Rundgren is one of those names I’ve heard but never before associate the name with the music he’s produced.  I just assumed he made 70s guitar-heavy klassik rawk.  I immediately recognized the lead track “I Saw the Light,” and realized that Rundgren is softer and more down-tempo than I imagined. Actually, I find it really boring.


Artist: D’Angelo and the Vanguard
AlbumBlack Messiah
Year: 2014
Label: RCA
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:

  • “1000 Deaths”
  • “The Charade”
  • “Back to the Future (Part 1)”
  • “Betray My Heart”

Thoughts: D’Angelo is another artist I wasn’t familiar with at all that I’m glad I came to through this project. The album is a collection of jazz-infused soul and funk that has a really great groove.  There’s a lot of variety on the album as well.  I think the a deep listen of this album would prove very rewarding.


Artist: Diana Ross
AlbumDiana
Year: 1980
Label: 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?: Just the hits
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Upside Down”
  • “I’m Coming Out”

Thoughts: As a young child I remember “Upside Down” in constant radio rotation, and I liked it because I liked doing somersaults which I called “upside downs.”  The album also contains the great anthem “I’m Coming Out,” a song about self-actualization that was naturally adopted by LGBTQ people.  Diana Ross in 1980 sounds nothing like her work with The Supremes a decade early.  And while the music is clearly disco, it doesn’t sound like stereotypical disco (if that makes thing), which is a good thing since this album hit at the same time as the disco backlash and pointed the way to the dance music of the 1980s.


Artist: Taylor Swift
Album1989
Year: 2014
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?:
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Welcome to New York”
  • “Blank Space”
  • “Shake It Off”

Thoughts:  I remember when this album came out and many people I know declared that despite Taylor Swift not being an artist they previously liked, that this album totally ruled.  I never listened to the whole album before myself, but I did enjoy the radio hits, especially since 2014 was the peak year for my kids liking the local pop radio station (before they decided they didn’t like listening to music at all).  Taylor Swift is undeniably a terrific artist even if her music generally isn’t my thing.


Artist: Ike and Tina Turner
AlbumProud Mary: The Best of Ike and Tina Turner
Year: 1991
Label: 1991
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:

  • “A Fool In Love”
  • “It’s Gonna Work Out Fine”
  • “Workin’ Together”
  • “Proud Mary”
  • “Funkier Than A Mosquita’s Tweeter”
  • “Up in the Heah”
  • “River Deep, Mountain High”
  • “Baby – Get It On”

Thoughts: The RS 500 was doing so well! We’d gone 60 spaces in the chart without a greatest hits compilation album standing in for the work of artists who deserved much better.  The upside is getting to hear lots of songs from one of the greatest voices of her generation, Tina Turner.  The collections includes interpretations of songs by The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Sly & the Family Stone, The Who, and of course Creedence Clearwater Revival as well as numerous originals written by both Ike & Tina (but never both).


Artist: Kelis
AlbumKaleidoscope
Year: 1999
Label: Virgin
Have I Listened to This Album Before?: No
Am I Familiar With This Artist/Songs from This Album?: Barely
Would I Listen to this Album Again?: No
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Caught Out There”
  • “Ghetto Children”
  • “Roller Rink”

Thoughts: My previous knowledge of Kelis is the song “Milkshake,” which is not on this album. This album has more of a pure R&B feel with hints of jazz than the dance/electronica of “Milkshake.” It’s good, but not something I expect to listen to again.


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

Music Discoveries: Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time 410-401


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

Previous Posts:


Artist: The Beach Boys
Album: Wild Honey
Year: 1967
Label: Capitol
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: None
Thoughts: I was not at all familiar with any of the songs on this album, with good reason.  They’re not very good.  The Beach Boys sound like they’re a 60s garage band making a 60s baroque pop album.  The vocals are very ragged, like the lead vocalist is straining to reach the high register.  And if the Beach Boys don’t have strong vocals, what do they have?  I feel like Rolling Stone is punking us by putting this album on the list.


Artist: Grateful Dead
Album: Workingman’s Dead
Year: 1970
Label: Warner Bros.
Have I Listened to This Album Before?: Yes
Am I Familiar With This Artist/Songs from This Album?: Yes
Would I Listen to this Album Again?: Yes
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Uncle John’s Band”
  • “High Time”
  • “Dire Wolf”

Thoughts:  There are two albums that come up when anyone discusses the Grateful Dead who is not a diehard Deadhead, and those two albums are the only albums by the band on this list.  I would think that a band that is known primarily for it’s live performances, and for documenting those concerts on recordings, and for people trading those concert recordings that a live album would be a good way to represent the Dead and their contributions to rock & roll on this list. There certainly are a lot of good ones to choose from.  Nevertheless, I do like the songs on this album, although not as much as I like the other one that we’ll discuss when get to #215.


Artist: Motörhead
Album: Ace of Spades
Year: 1980
Label: Bronze
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:

  • “Ace of Spades”
  • “Please Don’t Touch”

Thoughts: Motörhead are the one band able to unite 80s punks and metalheads and pioneers of really fast guitar and drumming.  They are not the type of band one would expect me to like, but I find Motörhead is just find them a lot of fun.  A friend once told me “Everyone should love Motörhead! I just take that as a given,” and it’s probably true.


Artist: Neil Young
Album: Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere
Year: 1969
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?: No
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Cinnamon Girl”

Thoughts: Neil Young is one of those artists, alongside the likes of Tom Petty and Bob Dylan, for whom I have a lot of respect for what they’ve done as artists and appreciate why other people enjoy their work, but nevertheless I don’t enjoy listening to myself.  This was his second album under his own name (both all-time and in the year 1969), his first work with the band Crazy Horse, released less than a year after the final Buffalo Springfield album and less than a year before his first collaboration with Crosby, Stills, & Nash.  The dude was crazy prolific is what I’m saying.


Artist: The Magnetic Fields
Album: 69 Love Songs
Year: 1999
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:

  • “A Chicken With Its Head Cut Off”
  • “The Luckiest Guy on the Lower East Side”
  • “The Book of Love”
  • “Parades Go By”
  • “When My Boy Walks Down the Street”
  • “If You Don’t Cry”
  • “Crazy For You (But Not That Crazy)”
  • “Washington D.C.”
  • “It’s a Crime”
  • “I’m Sorry I Love You”
  • “The Death of Ferdinand de Saussure”
  • “The Night You Can’t Remember”

Thoughts: For an album that is packed literally with 69 songs there’s a remarkable consistency of quality.  Stephin Merritt and co. create a concept album not about love, but about love songs, with homages (and more often tongue-in-cheek parodies) of various styles of love song about various types of love.


Artist: Various
Album: Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era
Year: 1972
Label: Elektra
Have I Listened to This Album Before?: Sort of
Am I Familiar With This Artist/Songs from This Album?: Some
Would I Listen to this Album Again?: Yes
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Dirty Water” – The Standells
  • “Moulty” – The Barbarians
  • “You’re Gonna Miss Me” – 13th Floor Elevators
  • “Psychotic Reaction” – Count Five
  • “Baby Please Don’t Go” – The Amboy Dukes

Thoughts: This is the type of compilation that deserves to be on Greatest Albums of All-Time list.  Not only does it contain multiple artists but it was compiled shortly after the songs were created and helped bring attention to tunes that might otherwise have been forgotten.  The musical style is a mix of Beatles’ tribute bands + bluesy garage rock + lots of hallucinogenic substances.  It proved to be very influential to punk bands of the 1970s.  I remember listening to a version of this album as a teenager that had fewer tracks, but introduced me to great songs such as “Psychotic Reaction” and “You’re Gonna Miss Me.” It’s also fun to think of a time when “Dirty Water” wasn’t the theme song of Boston sports teams.


Artist: Anita Baker
Album: Rapture
Year: 1986
Label: Elektra
Have I Listened to This Album Before?: No
Am I Familiar With This Artist/Songs from This Album?: One
Would I Listen to this Album Again?: No
Favorite Tracks: None
Thoughts: I remember “Sweet Love” as a radio staple in the mid-to-late 80s but never gave it much thought. The album contains several more tracks with the same style of jazz-inflected R&B.  I don’t want to say its bad, but it’s definitely not my thing.


Artist: Ghostface Killah
Album: Supreme Clientele
Year: 2000
Label: Epic
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?: Maybe
Favorite Tracks:

  • “The Grain”
  • “Buck 50”
  • “Malcolm”
  • “Cherchez LaGhost”
  • “Wu Banga 101”

Thoughts: Yet another hip-hop artist I previously only knew by name.  I like Ghostface Killah’s rhyme style and the musical production/sampling.  I’m also amused by all the references to Iron Man well before the MCU made Tony Stark a household name.


Artist: Fela Kuti and Africa 70
Album: Expensive Shit
Year: 1975
Label: Sounds Workshop
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:

  • “Expensive Shit”
  • “Water No Get Enemy”

Thoughts: Is a recording with one song on each side, an album or a single?  In the case of Expensive Shit, the two songs are a combined 25 minutes, giving it album length.  The title track is based on a true story of Kuti eating a joint to avoid arrest, but the police took him in anyway and waited for him to produce the excrement.  The album is a classic of Afrobeat, part political, part joyful, all brilliant.


Artist: Blondie
Album: Blondie
Year: 1977
Label: Private Stock
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:

  • “X Offender”
  • “In the Flesh”
  • “Look Good in Blue”
  • “Kung Fu Girls”

Thoughts: This debut album from the New York punk band looks back to early 60s pop and doo wop while setting the vanguard for 80s New Wave.  Wry lyrics bring a 70s sensibility (and sexuality) to seemingly innocent tunes.


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

Music Discoveries: Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time 420-411


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

Previous Posts:


Artist: Earth, Wind and Fire
AlbumThat’s the Way of the World
Year: 1975
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:

  • “Shining Star”
  • “That’s the Way of the World”
  • “Africano”

Thoughts: There are some great tracks on this Earth, Wind, & Fire album, including the magnificent and funky “Shining Star.”  But it also has a few tracks that sound like hippie souljazz, for lack of a better term.  I like Earth, Wind, & Fire well enough but I think I will stick to their hits.


Artist: Eric Church
AlbumChief
Year: 2011
Label: EMI Nashville
Have I Listened to This Album Before?: No
Am I Familiar With This Artist/Songs from This Album?: I’ve never even heard of this artist before
Would I Listen to this Album Again?:
Favorite Tracks: None
Thoughts: I’m not a big fan of rock & roll heavy contemporary country music and this album didn’t change my mind.


Artist: Dire Straits
AlbumBrothers in Arms
Year: 1985
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?: No
Favorite Tracks:

  • “So Far Away”
  • “Money For Nothing”
  • “Walk of Life”

Thoughts: This album is front-loaded with the three big hit singles, “So Far Away,” “Money For Nothing,” and my personal favorite, “Walk of Life.”  The rest of the album is much more low-tempo and features a mix of bluesy rock, Dylan-esque folk rock, and jazzy art pop.  It’s all a bit bland, and sounds like it’s from a different band that the one that made the first three tracks.


Artist: Ornette Coleman
AlbumThe Shape of Jazz to Come
Year: 1959
Label: Atlantic
Have I Listened to This Album Before?: No
Am I Familiar With This Artist/Songs from This Album?: Yes
Would I Listen to this Album Again?: Yes
Favorite Tracks: The whole album.
Thoughts: I don’t know much about jazz, but I know what I like, and this is it.  I’ve listened to Ornette Coleman before, but not this album, and enjoyed his wildly creative compositions and improvisations.  It’s hard to imagine how revolutionary this album sounded to people who heard it for the first time back in 1959.


Artist: The Roots
AlbumThings Fall Apart
Year: 1999
Label: MCA
Have I Listened to This Album Before?: No
Am I Familiar With This Artist/Songs from This Album?: Kinda
Would I Listen to this Album Again?: Yes
Favorite Tracks:

  • “The Next Movement”
  • “Dynamite”
  • “Without a Doubt”
  • “Ain’t Sayin’ Nothin’ New”
  • “Double Trouble”
  • “Adrenaline!”
  • “Don’t See Us”

Thoughts: My knowledge of The Roots is limited to the fact that they are the house band for The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon (a show I’ve never watched).  So it was my surprise that they not only have a career predating their talk show antics, but it’s an excellent collection of 90s alternative rap.  The music incorporates several aspects of Black music including jazz, Afrobeat, and even old school rap from the 80s.  This is definitely something I would’ve pleased to know about in 1999, had I only been paying attention.


Artist: The Meters
Album: Looka Py Py
Year: 1969
Label: Josie
Have I Listened to This Album Before?: No
Am I Familiar With This Artist/Songs from This Album?: Another band I’d never heard of before.
Would I Listen to this Album Again?: Yes
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Look-Ka Py Py”
  • They’re all great, actually.

Thoughts: The Meters are a super funky band from New Orleans.  They actually were among the originators of funk and served as a backing band for other New Orleans legends including Dr. John, and Allen Toussaint (the band’s lineup has also included a member of the Neville family).  And I’d never heard of them.  But I immediately loved this entire album of instrumental tracks and thoroughly believe it deserves it spot on the list.


Artist: Chic
Album: Risqué
Year: 1979
Label: Atlantic
Have I Listened to This Album Before?: No
Am I Familiar With This Artist/Songs from This Album?: Yes
Would I Listen to this Album Again?: Yes
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Good Times”
  • “My Feet Keep Dancing”

Thoughts: Chic scored one of the last great hits of the disco era with “Good Times” in 1979 (although anyone who was around for 1979 knows it wasn’t a good time). The song and this album proved transitional as the music and production of Nile Rogers and Bernard Edwards would form the bedrock of 80s dance music, hip hop, new wave, and beyond (as discussed in a recent episode of the podcast Hit Parade). But mostly this is just an album that’s still good to put on for dancing.


Artist: Creedence Clearwater Revival
AlbumCosmo’s Factory
Year: 1970
Label: Fantasy
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:

  • “Travelin’ Band”
  • “Lookin’ Out My Back Door”
  • “Who’ll Stop the Rain”
  • “I Heard it Through the Grapevine”
  • “Long As I Can See the Light”

Thoughts: I’ve long loved CCR, a band so swampy it’s hard to believe they’re from California for their roots rock and strong political stances in their music.  I listened to their greatest hits albums over and over growing up.  I’ve been critical of the RS 500 for relying on greatest hits compilations, so now the egg is on my face.  It is amazing, nonetheless, how many greatest hits are crammed into this one album. It is missing some of my favorites – “Have You Ever Seen the Rain,” “Fortunate Son,” and “Lodi” – but it does have the trippy fantasy  “Lookin’ Out My Back Door,” the anti-war anthem “Who’ll Stop the Rain,” and a scorching cover of Marvin Gaye’s “I Heard it Through the Grapevine.”


Artist: Smokey Robinson and the Miracles
Album: Going to a Go Go
Year: 1965
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:

  • “The Tracks of My Tears”
  • “Going To A Go-Go”
  • “Ooo Baby Baby”

Thoughts: Much like Cosmo’s Factory, Going to a Go Go feels like a greatest hits album.  It features 4 top 20 hits, frontloaded at the beginning of the album.  But the deep cuts are great too.  I can always listen to Smokey’s sweet falsetto singing songs both sad or joyful.


Artist: Bob Dylan
AlbumLove and Theft
Year: 2001
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: None
Thoughts: A confession here: I don’t like Bob Dylan’s music.  Well, actually I like quite a few of his songs but I don’t like him performing them.  This late-period Dylan album is ok, but there are better collections of original Americana music out there that I’d like to listen to. This being a Rolling Stone list, I expect it to be chockful of Dylan, because geeking out over Dylan is Rolling Stone‘s bread and butter.  Amazingly this is the first of only eight Dylan albums on the list, which feels restrained for Rolling Stone.


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

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 440-431


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

Previous Posts:

Artist: Loretta Lynn
Album: Coal Miner’s Daughter
Year: 1971
Label: Decca
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:

  • “Coal Miner’s Daughter”
  • “What Makes Me Tick”

Thoughts: Since my mother was a coal miner’s daughter, and I am the grandson/great-grandson of a coal miner (or at least a coal cracker), the title track has always resonated, even if my own family experience is very different.  The rest of the album are almost entirely songs about cheating, or being cheated on, but Lynn’s voice makes them all sound lovely.


Artist: James Brown
Album: Sex Machine
Year: 1970
Label: King
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:

  • “Sex Machine”
  • “I Got The Feelin'”
  • “Give It Up Or Turnit A Loose (Undubbed Mix)”
  • “Please, Please, Please”
  • “Mother Popcorn”

Thoughts: The title track of this album as long been a favorite of mine.  Turns out that this is a different, slower version of “Sex Machine” than I’m familiar with.  The album consists of a portion that Brown recorded with one backing band (including Bootsy and Catfish Collins) that he had produced with sound effects that make it sound like it was recorded in front of a live audience.  The other portion of the album is an actual concert performance with a different band from James Brown’s hometown of August, GA in 1969.  Both performances are blistering and blend together well.


Artist: Blur
Album: Parklife
Year: 1994
Label: Food
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:

  • “Girls and Boys”
  • “Parklife”

Thoughts: Back in the 90s, I somehow got it into my head that Blur was another generic grunge band and didn’t give them much attention. This impression was probably due to the ubiquity of “Song 2” – admittedly great rally music in a hockey arena – but not representative of their work.  Instead, Blur are a pop band with with clever story songs in the tradition of The Kinks.  Despite learning this, I still hadn’t gotten around to giving Blur a fair listen (much like I haven’t done with The Kinks). It makes me question my poor decision-making skills in the 1990s regarding what I did and did not listen to. The only song I was familiar with is “Girls and Boys,” which I hated back in the 90s, but now I think it really slaps.


Artist: Primal Scream
Album: Screamadelica
Year: 1991
Label: Sire
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:

  • “Slip Inside This House”
  • “Don’t Fight It, Feel It”
  • “Come Together”
  • “Loaded”

Thoughts: Scottish band Primal Scream kind of sound like if by the 90s the Rolling Stones had evolved to sound like an alt-rock band that took a great interest in the acid house scene.  Primal Scream were, of course, an alt-rock band that took a great interest in the acid house scene, and this album creates an undefinable mish-mash of 90s rock, funk, disco, psychedelia, and Madchester bands.  I’ve written about the song “Loaded” before on this blog, and I was familiar with some of the other songs, but overall listening to this album all the way through for the first time is a revelation I waited 30 years too long to have.


Artist: 2Pac
AlbumAll Eyez on Me
Year: Death Row
Label: 1996
Have I Listened to This Album Before?: No
Am I Familiar With This Artist/Songs from This Album?: Yes, a little
Would I Listen to this Album Again?: No
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Heartz of Men”
  • “Life Goes On”
  • “Only God Can Judge Me”

Thoughts: As I’ve noted previously in this column, I did not pay much attention to rap and hip hop in the 1990s.  Nevertheless, I remember feeling sad when I learned about the murder of Tupac Shakur. From what little I knew about Shakur, he struck me as a talented and thoughtful young man who died way too young. Despite, 90s rap being in my blind spot, I was still surprised that I wasn’t familiar with any of the tracks on this album. I didn’t enjoy listening to the songs with lyrics about “bitches” and “hos” and the celebration “thug life” and the n-world sprinkled liberally about. Nevertheless, I could still see the genius and conscience of Tupac Shakur shine throw on a number of tracks.


Artist: Pet Shop Boys
AlbumActually
Year: 1987
Label: EMI Manhattan
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:

  • “What Have I Done to Deserve This?”
  • “It’s a Sin”

Thoughts: The Pet Shop Boys are an odd duck, a duo who made music unlike anything else at their time. You got a pair of men who look and sound bored all the time, singing wry satire about the failures of the Thatcher/Reagan era, over danceable synthpop.  And all those pieces work together.

Somehow, I was never aware until now that Dusty Springfield is the guest artist on “What Have I Done to Deserve This?” Did I know who Dusty Springfield was when I was 13? I do know that as a Catholic school boy the imagery of “It’s a Sin” made me laugh, and also made me feel guilty about polishing off a carton of Breyer’s mint chocolate chip.


Artist: Pavement
Album: Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain
Year: 1994
Label: Matador
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: Prior to now, the only Pavement album I’d listened to before is Slanted & Enchanted,  which I liked well enough but wouldn’t consider it a favorite. This album strikes as me as sound like very generic 90s rock.  While Pavement is not a post-grunge band, I would consider their work on this album adjacent to a mid-to-late 90s genre I call “boring rock.” That is to say, it’s not bad, it’s just not very interesting.


Artist: LCD Soundsystem
Album: Sound of Silver
Year: 2007
Label: DFA/Capitol
Have I Listened to This Album Before?: No
Am I Familiar With This Artist/Songs from This Album?: Yes
Would I Listen to this Album Again?: Yes
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Get Innocuous!”
  • “North American Scum”
  • “Us V Them”
  • “Watch the Tapes”

Thoughts:  I’ve always liked LCD Soundsytem although I don’t think I’ve listened to a full album before. The album branches out beyond the definitive electronic music sounds LCD Soundsystem to punk, indie rock, and even a bit of folk. I also love the humor of the lyrics such as the title track “Sound of silver talk to me /Makes you want to feel like a teenager / Until you remember the feelings of / A real life emotional teenager / Then you think again.” Although maybe that’s not funny enough to be repeated the entire song.


Artist: Usher
AlbumConfessions
Year: 2004
Label: Arista
Have I Listened to This Album Before?: No
Am I Familiar With This Artist/Songs from This Album?: Not intentionally
Would I Listen to this Album Again?: No
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Yeah!”

Thoughts: So, after years of hearing the song in the ether I finally found out that THAT song, which is “Yeah! (feat. Lil Jon & Ludacris),” is by Usher. It’s nice to put 2 and 2 together at last.  The rest of this album is down- and mid-tempo contemporary R&B with Usher crooning over the beats.  Too mellow for my tastes.


Artist: Los Lobos
AlbumHow Will the Wolf Survive?
Year: 1984
Label: Slash/Warner Bros.
Have I Listened to This Album Before?: Yes
Am I Familiar With This Artist/Songs from This Album?: Yes
Would I Listen to this Album Again?: Yes
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Don’t Worry Baby”
  • “A Matter of Time”
  • “Corrido #1”
  • “Will the Wolf Survive?”

Thoughts:  This is an album I’ve listened to before and liked but didn’t love.  Listening again I found myself enjoying the blues rock and tejano sounds mixed into a solid collection of 1980s rock & roll.  Los Lobos, a Mexican-American band from Los Angeles, made a big splash in Reagan’s America, which is as an impressive an accomplishment as this delightful album.


 

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?

Music Discoveries: Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time 460-451


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

Previous Posts:


Artist: Lorde
Album: Melodrama
Year: 2017
Label: Universal
Have I Listened to This Album Before?: No
Am I Familiar With This Artist/Songs from This Album?: Yes/No
Would I Listen to this Album Again?: no
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Green Light”
  • “Writer in the Dark”
  • “Supercut”

Thoughts: I knew Lorde for “Royals,” and that’s about it.  This album features Lorde’s distinctive gravely voice over dance tracks.  It’s fine but I don’t feel strongly about it either way.


Artist: Kid Cudi
Album: Man on the Moon: The End of the Day
Year: 2009
Label: Dream On
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:

  • “Soundtrack 2 My Life”
  • “Make Her Say”
  • “Pursuit of Happiness (Nightmare)”

Thoughts: Another artist that I’m not at all familiar with.  But I did enjoy Kid Cudi’s introspective lyrics over an indie-rock aesthetic.  Definitely something I’m going to want to look into more.


Artist: Jason Isbell
Album: Southeastern
Year: 2013
Label: Southeastern
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:

  • “Live Oak”

Thoughts: Jason Isbell is one of those names I’ve heard floating in the ether but never really knew what it was he did.  Turns out he’s a singer-songwriter in the country-folk fusion style pioneered in the 1970s.  It’s just in my snooze zone of music I consider pretty boring, although I can appreciate that Isbell is a talented musician.  I’ll also note that his vocals are up too loud in the mix on this album.


Artist: Sinéad O’Connor
Album: I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got
Year: 1990
Label: Ensign/Chrysalis
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:

  • “I Am Stretched On Your Grave”
  • “Three Babies”
  • “The Emperor’s New Clothes”
  • “Black Boys on Mopeds”
  • “Nothing Compares 2 U”
  • “Last Day of Our Acquaintance”

Thoughts: Despite her shaved head and radical for Reagan/Bush America opinions, Sinéad O’Connor managed to become a star loved by the cool alternative kids and their Boomer parents (especially if those parents were Irish-American).  I have not listened to I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got in a long time and I forgot just how great it is. O’Connor’s voice is timeless and the songs on this recording feel as fresh as they did 30 years.


Artist: Al Green
AlbumGreatest Hits
Year: 1975
Label: Hi/EMI
Have I Listened to This Album Before?: Yes
Am I Familiar With This Artist/Songs from This Album?: Yes
Would I Listen to this Album Again?: Yes
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Tired of Being Alone”
  • “Here I Am (Come and Take Me)”
  • “Love and Happiness”
  • “Let’s Stay Together”

Thoughts: I’m beginning to feel that there is an unconscious bias in the selection of compilation albums for this list, because so far, almost every one of them is by Black artists (the exception is the Phil Spector box set where a white man is given top billing for producing the work of primarily Black and brown artists). I’ve peeked ahead at the RS 500 list and see that Al Green gets two more studio albums on the list, so the inclusion of a compilation is all the more befuddling.  Mind you, I own and love Al Green’s Greatest Hits, and it’s great to have a package of some of his best work from the early 70s, but 6 of the 10 songs on this compilation are also on the other two Al Green albums on this list.  Putting Greatest Hits on the list just seems to mark indecision between choosing Al Green Gets Next to You or Let’s Stay Together as the third album.


Artist: Bo Diddley
Album: Bo Diddley/Go Bo Diddley
Year: 1958/1959
Label: Chess
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:

  • “Bo Diddley”
  • “I’m A Man”
  • “Before You Accuse me (Take a Look at Yourself)”
  • “Hey! Bo Diddley”
  • “Diddley Daddy”
  • “You Don’t Love Me (You Don’t Care)”
  • “Say Man”
  • “The Clock Strikes Twelve”

Thoughts:  Okay, so now we’re doing two albums for the price of one. Bo Diddley was released in 1958 as a compilation of singles going back to 1955. 1959’s Go Bo Diddley is more of an intentional album with some material not previously released on singles. Of the two albums, the first is more has more of a Blues feel, features many examples of the Bo Diddley beat, and has most of Bo Diddley’s most famed songs.  The latter album is more musically diverse with a variety of rock & roll and R&B styles, and features the comical track “Say Man,” which was Diddley’s highest charting song.


Artist: Can
Album: Ege Bamyasi
Year: 1972
Label: United Artists
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: None
Thoughts:  Here’s a band I never heard of at all. Can was a German band in the 1960s and 1970s.  The music sounds like a blend of psychedelia with the groove of funk and the vocals of early punk.  The official genre designation is “krautrock” which sounds derogatory to me.  Kudos to Rolling Stone for including albums outside the USA/UK.  But I didn’t find this album to be all that interesting.


Artist: Nine Inch Nails
Album: Pretty Hate Machine
Year: 1989
Label: TVT
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:

  • “Head Like a Hole”
  • “Terrible Lie”
  • “Sin”
  • “That’s What I Get”
  • “The Only Time”

Thoughts: This album was my high school introduction to industrial music.  It’s been a long time since I listened to it, and I forgot that the tracks on this album have a total dance groove. Which makes sense, because one of my memories of a dance in the high school cafeteria was totally losing myself while dancing to “Head Like a Hole.”  It was such a release.


Artist: Diana Ross and the Supremes
AlbumAnthology
Year: 1974
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?:
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Where Did Our Love Go”
  • “Baby Love”
  • “Come See About Me”
  • “Stop! In the Name of Love”
  • “Back in My Arms Again”
  • “I Hear a Symphony”
  • “My World is Empty Without You”
  • “Your Can’t Hurry Love”
  • “Reflections”
  • “Someday We’ll Be Together”
  • “I’m Gonna Make You Love Me”

Thoughts: Did you know that The Supremes’ 1966 album The Supremes A’ Go-Go was the first album by a girl group to hit number one in the US? Did you know it was one of seven albums by The Supremes that made it into the Top Ten on the Billboard 200? Did you know that The Supremes had six number one albums on the Hot R&B Album Chart and 18 albums altogether that hit Top Ten in the same chart? Did you know that The Supremes had profound influence on women artists, and on soul, R&B, and rock music, and made Motown a profitable and legendary record label, and rivaled The Beatles for widespread popularity in the 1960s?  Do you also find it a little offensive that the only recognition of The Supremes in this entire list is this compilation album?

Anyway, this album does show the versatility of The Supremes from their early days to their biggest hits to their interpretations of the works of others and collaborations with The Temptations.  I only regret the mindboggling omission of “Stoned Love.”


Artist: Roberta Flack
AlbumFirst Take
Year: 1969
Label: Atlantic
Have I Listened to This Album Before?: No
Am I Familiar With This Artist/Songs from This Album?: Yes
Would I Listen to this Album Again?: Yes
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Compared to What”
  • “Hey, That’s No Way to Say Goodbye”
  • “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face”

Thoughts: Roberta Flack’s debut album includes her most famous song “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face,” a startling interpretation of a British folk song. I confess I’ve always had trouble listening to that song because it’s just so sad. The album show’s Flack’s versatility with her soulful vocals with  accompanied by jazz and gospel stylings to reinterpret folk and pop tunes.


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

Music Discoveries: Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time 470-461


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

Previous Posts:


Artist: Juvenile
Album400 Degreez
Year: 1998
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: None
Thoughts: We begin this week’s listening to an album and artist active in my own adult life who I have no recollection of.  I thought by listening to the album, I might recognize some of the songs, but that did not happen. I read some positive reviews of this album that emphasized that this album made Southern hip hop relevant and kicked off a run of success for New Orleans’ Cash Money Records. But unlike the critics, I don’t hear anything interesting or innovative in this album.  I do hear a lot of misogynistic lyrics and the n-world sprinkled liberally, though. I guess I’ll just chalk this one up as “Not For Me.”


Artist: Manu Chao
AlbumClandestino
Year: 1998
Label: Virgin
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:

  • “Bongo Bong”
  • “Luna y sol”

Thoughts: I don’t know what I was up to in 1998, because this is the second album in a row where I have never heard of this artists.  I did recognize one track on this album – “Bongo Bong” – because it was played at my kid’s preschool!  Manu Chao is a multilingual French-born Spanish musician who brings a busker’s perspective to his Latin music/reggae fusion. This album was a chart success across Europe, but not in the US and UK, which makes it’s appearance on the RS 500 a surprise.  But I found it a fun and refreshing change of pace.


Artist: Rolling Stones
AlbumSome Girls
Year: 1978
Label: Rolling Stones
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?: Not really
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Miss You”
  • “Shattered”

Thoughts: 33 albums into the list and we’ve finally reached one that I’ve definitively listened to before. As far as the Rolling Stones go, I’ve long considered them a good singles band who made some classic albums between 1966 and 1972, and then about one compilation album worth of good songs from 1973 to the present. Some Girls may be the Stone’s best album in the post-Exile on Main Street era, but the competition isn’t very strong.  On the other hand, they do deserve credit for trying something new on an album, for what would be the last time. On “Miss You” they do a great job of incorporating disco, while “Shattered” is Mick’s tribute to his gritty adopted home of New York City in the troubled late 70s.  The rest of the album for me is “meh” (and the title track is downright awful),  but your mileage may vary. There are five more Rolling Stones albums coming up on this list and I expect will enjoy them all more.


Artist: Maxwell
AlbumBLACKsummers’night
Year: 2009
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: None
Thoughts: The 460s have not been good to me because once again we have an artist and album I have never heard of, and I don’t recognize any of the tracks either.  Maxwell sings silk-smooth, mid-tempo r&B.  And I don’t find it all too interesting.  So on to the next album.


Artist: The Beach Boys
AlbumThe Beach Boys Today
Year: 1965
Label: Capitol
Have I Listened to This Album Before?: No
Am I Familiar With This Artist/Songs from This Album?: Yes
Would I Listen to this Album Again?: No
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Help Me, Rhonda”

Thoughts: On this album The Beach Boys moved on from songs about surfing  and fast cars to more introspective pieces, and probably began regretting their silly band name.  The lyrics still focus on teenage love and love lost, but from the perspective of a more thoughtful teen. I’m not a big fan of the Beach Boys outside of their Pet Sounds‘ era peak, but the arrangements and instrumentation on this album show that they are on their way up that mountain.


Artist: King Sunny Adé
Album: The Best of the Classic Years
Year: 2003
Label: Shanachie
Have I Listened to This Album Before?: No
Am I Familiar With This Artist/Songs from This Album?: Somewhat
Would I Listen to this Album Again?:
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Sunny Ti De”
  • “Afai Bowon”
  • “Adena Ike”

Thoughts: King Sunny Adé is a Nigerian singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist who can great fame in his home country, and then in the 1980s achieved crossover success in Europe and North America. He is credited with kicking off the World Music boom that followed later in that decade. Once again Rolling Stone selects a compilation album for their list, but according to Adé’s discography on Wikipedia, he’s released 123 albums, so I guess that they can be excused for having difficulty narrowing it down.  This album collects a sampling of songs from Adé’s early years, 1967-1974.


Artist: The Isley Brothers
Album: 3 + 3
Year: 1973
Label: T-Neck
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 Lady”
  • “Sunshine (Go Away Today)”

Thoughts: I’ve always liked the songs I’ve heard by the Isleys over the years, but I wasn’t familiar with the content of this album going in.  Or so I thought, because I immediately recognized Latin-style soul opening track “That Lady.” The bigger surprise is that about half of this album is covers of songs by the likes James Taylor, The Doobie Brothers, Jonathan Edwards, and Seals & Crofts, not the immediate source of inspirations one would expect for a soul band. But they demonstrate that they are excellent interpreters, making the songs their own.


Artist: Laura Nyro
Album: Eli & the 13th Confession
Year: 1968
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:

  • “Sweet Blindness”
  • “Lonely Women”

Thoughts: First of all, I just want to note how contemporary Laura Nyro looks on that album cover.  Like, it almost looks like Billie Eilish with dark hair.

My familiarity with Nyro was basically “Wedding Bell Blues” and some other songs. This album contains Nyro’s Brill Building song-writing which build up to her belting out the lyrics sounding like the lost cast recording of a 1960s Broadway musical.  Unfortunately, I found myself liking songs at first but with all the dramatic changes and emotiveness it all became too much and just left my brain spinning.


Artist: The Flying Burrito Brothers
Album: The Gilded Palace of Sin
Year: 1969
Label: A&M
Have I Listened to This Album Before?: No
Am I Familiar With This Artist/Songs from This Album?: Just the name of the band
Would I Listen to this Album Again?: Yes
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Christine’s Tune”
  • “Sin City”

Thoughts: I’ve heard of The Flying Burrito Brothers as being one of the many country rock acts of the 60s and 70s to grow out of The Byrds. In fact, I’ve considered doing a Music Discovery of The Byrds and their spinoff country rock bands, because I’ve read a lot about them but have never really heard any of them.  Anyhow, this band lead by Gram Parsons and Chris Hillman is fascinating in that it sounds both old-time country with psychedelic rock playing over it and somehow the two genres harmonizing with one another.  And then they cover an Aretha Franklin song and make that work too! It’s definitely a treat for the ears and not what I’d expected.


Artist: Bon Iver
AlbumFor Emma
Year: 2008
Label: Jagjaguwar
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: I routinely listen to NPR Music programming because I’m a living stereotype of a coastal, liberal, white man.  But one thing I’ve never been on board with is the NPR Music staffs’ adoration of Bon Iver. Like every album in this list I made sure to give it a fair shake, and I didn’t totally hate it.  But I still find it incredibly boring music.  So you’re going to have forgive me Bob Boilen and Robin Hilton.


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

Music Discoveries: Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time 480-471


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

Previous Posts:


Artist:  Miranda Lambert
Album: The Weight of These Wings
Year: 2016
Label: eRCA Nashville
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:

  • Runnin’ Just in Case
  • Highway Vagabond
  • Good Ol’ Days

Thoughts: I’m not a huge fan of contemporary country, but this album exceeded my expectations. While country underlies every track, the collection explores a great variety of genres. The songs and lyrics are well-crafted and tell the story of Lambert moving on from her recent divorce.  I think at 24 tracks the album goes on a bit long and would’ve been more effective if trimmed down to a single album.


Artist: Selena
Album: Amor Prohibido
Year: 1994
Label: EMA Latin
Have I Listened to This Album Before?: No
Am I Familiar With This Artist/Songs from This Album?: Only by name
Would I Listen to this Album Again?: Probably not
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Fotos Y Recuerdos”
  • “Bidi Bid Bom Bom”
  • “Tus Desprecios”

Thoughts: Texas Tejano musician Selena was already a legend before a murderer ended her life far to early at the age of 23. As much as I’ve heard about her success and tragedy, I never before heard any of her music, to my knowledge. I was surprised by the chintzy synths, although Selena’s voice transcends the production values. I have to admit that while Selena’s artistry is not something that engages me that nonetheless I can recognize her talent and understand why she is loved by so many.  The album also includes a cover of “Back on the Chain Gang” by the Pretenders, retitled as “Fotos Y Recuerdos,” which I like a lot better than the original.


Artist: The Kinks
AlbumSomething Else by the Kings
Year: 1968
Label: Oye
Have I Listened to This Album Before?: No
Am I Familiar With This Artist/Songs from This Album?: Yes (“Waterloo Sunset” to be specific)
Would I Listen to this Album Again?:  Yes
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Death of a Clown”
  • “Harry Rag”
  • “Love Me Till the Sun Shines”
  • “Waterloo Sunset”

Thoughts: The Kinks are one of those bands I’ve long felt I need to pay more attention to, and they’ve been on my short list for a Music Discovery for some time.  This album marks the transition of The Kinks from a British Invasion rock band to a band that writes wry, introspective, and observational songs about every day people. The Kinks aren’t folk rock but their music is informed by the folk tradition, and this album also reflects that odd music hall revival that coincided with psychedelic rock in England.


Artist: Howlin’ Wolf
Album: Moanin’ in the Moonlight
Year: 1959
Label: Chess
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:

  • “Smokestack’ Lightnin'”
  • “All Night Boogie (All Night Long)”
  • “Evil (Is Going On)”

Thoughts: I’ve been critical of the RS 500’s inclusion of compilation albums on this list, and expect I will continue to harp on this issue as I work my way through the list, but here’s an instance where I think that they got it right.  Much like fellow Chess blues artist Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf’s only appearance on the RS 500 is a collection of singles from the 1950s.  The difference here is that Moanin’ in the Moonlight was released in 1959 while Howlin’ Wolf was still at his artistic peak.  Howlin’ Wolf and his production crew likely had input on song selection and sequencing.  And as the LP was just becoming commercially viable at this time, it certainly brought Howlin’ Wolf’s music to the attention of new audiences, including the many blues and blues rock artists of the 60s and 70s who would draw on his influence.  So yes, this is how a compilation album can indeed be a greatest album of all time!


Artist: Sparks
AlbumKimono My House
Year: Island
Label: 1974
Have I Listened to This Album Before?: No
Am I Familiar With This Artist/Songs from This Album?: Vaguely
Would I Listen to this Album Again?: No
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Talent is an Asset”

Thoughts: I only learned of Sparks last spring when a friend recommended their most recent album A Steady Drip, Drip, Drip. I liked the album, although not enough to review it on its own, and was surprised that a band that sounded so contemporary went back to the 1960s. This 1974 album was their breakout record and influenced artists from Morrisey to Björk. It doesn’t resonate with me though as it is very prog rock and sounds like Rush performing Rocky Horror.


Artist: Sheryl Crow
AlbumSheryl Crow
Year: 1996
Label: A&M
Have I Listened to This Album Before?: No
Am I Familiar With This Artist/Songs from This Album?: Unfortunately
Would I Listen to this Album Again?: No
Favorite Tracks: None

Thoughts: When Sheryl Crow’s first few singles hit the airwaves I always went through a phase where first I would think, this is kinda good, but after repeated hearings would like the song less and less.  Eventually I grew to just dislike everything by Sheryl Crow.  I’m trying to listen to every album on this list with an open mind, but I’m not at all surprised that I still don’t like the music of Sheryl Crow.


Artist: Big Star
Album: #1 Record
Year: 1972
Label: Ardent
Have I Listened to This Album Before?: No
Am I Familiar With This Artist/Songs from This Album?: By reputation
Would I Listen to this Album Again?: Maybe, one day
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Thirteen”

Thoughts: Big Star and its band leader Alex Chilton are revered among rock music enthusiasts but I’ve never been able to get the appeal.  It’s not that Big Star is bad, far from it, I just don’t hear it as so amazingly great. They feel to me more like a great bar band than the icons who inspired R.E.M. and The Replacements.


Artist: Daddy Yankee
Album: Barrio Fino
Year: 2004
Label: V.I. Music
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?: Maybe
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Like You”
  • “Salud y Vida”

Thoughts: I like the sound of reggaetón, which I typically experience as beats from a passing car or coming over the speakers at the corner store. This is the first time I’ve ever sat down and listened to a reggaetón album, and I liked it just fine.  Daddy Yankee, of course, practically invented the genre of reggaetón so naturally he deserves a spot on this list even if it isn’t something I’d listen to all the time.


Artist: SZA
AlbumCtrl
Year: 2017
Label: RCA
Have I Listened to This Album Before?: No
Am I Familiar With This Artist/Songs from This Album?: No
Would I Listen to this Album Again?: Not likely
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Wavy (Interlude) (feat. James Fauntleroy)”
  • “Normal Girl”

Thoughts: SZA is another contemporary artist I’m not at all familiar with.  The downtempo style of hip-hop and R&B doesn’t really appeal to me, but nevertheless this album is not bad.


Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Album: Surrealistic Pillow
Year: 1967
Label: RCA
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:

  • “Somebody to Love”
  • “White Rabbit”

Thoughts: One can argue about what albums deserve inclusion on this current version Rolling Stone 500 and how they should be ranked, but the nice thing about it is that they’ve made a conscious effort to include a greater variety of genres, artists of different backgrounds, and across different eras.  The appearance of Jefferson Airplane here is a reminder of the old Rolling Stone which was fixated on promoting the late 60s San Francisco scene as the epitome of all that is good in rock music. The album includes the two songs that everyone knows Jefferson Airplane for, and a lot of mediocrity.  In fact, the rest of the album sounds more like a folk rock album than psychedelia so it definitely captures the band in transition.


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

Music Discoveries: Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time 490-481


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

Previous Posts:

Artist: Linda Rondstadt
AlbumHeart Like a Wheel
Year: 1975
Label: Capitol
Have I Listened to This Album Before?: No
Am I Familiar With This Artist/Songs from This Album?: Yes
Would I Listen to this Album Again?: No
Favorite Tracks:

  • “You’re No Good”

Thoughts: This collection of countrified rock is entirely covers or compositions of songs by other artists so everything sounds familiar even if I hadn’t listened to this album before. “Willin’,” for example, I know from a cover by Richard Shindell.  The lead track “You’re No Good” and “When Will I Beloved” I remember being radio staples when I was a child in the 1970s but haven’t heard in decades so it made me a little nostalgic. On the other hand, this style of music doesn’t appeal to me much so I can’t imagine listening to this album again. 


Artist: Phil Spector and Various Artists
AlbumBack to Mono (1958-1969)
Year: 1991
Label: ABKCO
Have I Listened to This Album Before?: No
Am I Familiar With This Artist/Songs from This Album?: Lots of them, yes.
Would I Listen to this Album Again?: Individual tracks and the Christmas album
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Spanish Harlem” by Ben E. King
  • “Puddin’ N’ Tain” by The Alley Cats
  • “Da Doo Ron Ron (When He Walked Me Home)” by The Crystals
  • “Be My Baby” by The Ronettes
  • “Baby, I Love You” by The Ronettes
  • “(The Best Part of) Breakin’ Up) by The Ronettes
  • “Walking in the Rain” by The Ronettes
  • “You’ve Lost that Lovin’ Feelin'” by The Righteous Brothers
  • “Born to be Together” by The Ronettes
  • “River Deep – Mountain High” by Ike & Tina Turner
  • “A Love Like Yours (Don’t Come Knocking Everyday)” by Ike & Tina Turner
  • “You Came, You Saw, You Conquered” by The Ronettes
  • “Love Is All I Have to Give” by The Checkmates Ltd.
  • “Frosty the Snowman” by The Ronettes
  • “Sleigh Ride” by The Ronettes
  • “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” by Darlene Love
  • “Here Comes Santa Claus” by Bob B. Soxx, The Blue Jeans

Thoughts:

There are lots of things I can argue about regarding the Rolling Stone 500, but one thing I disagree with most is the inclusion of so many compilation albums. There are some possible exceptions such as soundtracks which can be unique multiple artists compilations, or something like The Indestructible Beat of Soweto. But I don’t think “greatest hits” compilations should count as great albums.

In this instance it appears that RS simply wanted to recognize influential producer Phil Spector’s work on the list even though he most predominantly did his work in producing singles rather than albums. And so RS included this box set released decades after Spector’s best work even though many of the songs are (deservedly) already on their greatest songs list. The fact that he’s a convicted murderer and abusive person makes me question whether he should be on the list at all, and perhaps we should be recognizing the talented artists on this compilation instead.

Ironically, a lot of my favorite songs from this collection were already on Presenting the Fabulous Ronettes, which I listened to for the previous post. The box set also includes the 1963 holiday compilation A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector in its entirety. This Christmas album was previously included on previous iterations of the RS 500 and since it was intentionally designed to be an album, I believe it deserves a spot on the current list on its own.


Artist: The Stooges
Album: The Stooges
Year: 1969
Label: Elektra
Have I Listened to This Album Before?: No
Am I Familiar With This Artist/Songs from This Album?: I know the band
Would I Listen to this Album Again?: Maybe
Favorite Tracks:

  • “1969”

Thoughts:

This album sounds a lot more recent than 1969. Perhaps because pop music of the 1960s tended to be sunnier, or at least earnest. This music seems to accurately reflect the mood and resignation that goes with a time of violence and strife that rivals our own. The Stooges are described as a proto-punk band, but I also hear a bluesy sound that’s proto-metal.


Artist: Black Flag
Album: Damaged
Year: 1981
Label: SST
Have I Listened to This Album Before?: Surprisingly not.
Am I Familiar With This Artist/Songs from This Album?: Yes
Would I Listen to this Album Again?: Yes
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Rise Above”
  • “TV Party”
  • “No More”
  • “Padded Cell”
  • “Damaged I”

Thoughts: If anything good comes out of this Rolling Stone 500 experiment it will be things like filling in my punk rock deficiencies and finally listening to this Black Flag album.  This is supposed to be an album that parents hate, but I’m a parent and it’s really resonating with me right no.  So there. 


Artist: John Mayer
AlbumContinuum
Year: 2006
Label: Columbia
Have I Listened to This Album Before?: No
Am I Familiar With This Artist/Songs from This Album?: Not really
Would I Listen to this Album Again?: No
Favorite Tracks: None

Thoughts: I know John Mayer as the “Your Body is a Wonderland” guy and therefore the avatar of the generic dudebro pop music wave of the early 2000s.  I was not aware of the rest of his body of work and therefore surprised to see him on a “greatest of all time” list.  And after listening to the album, I’m even more surprised to see it on the list.  It’s soooooooooooooo boring!


Artist: Richard and Linda Thompson
Album: I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight
Year: 1974
Label: Island
Have I Listened to This Album Before?: No
Am I Familiar With This Artist/Songs from This Album?: Only by name & reputation.
Would I Listen to this Album Again?: Yes
Favorite Tracks:

  • “When I Get to the Border”
  • “I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight”
  • “Down Where the Drunkards Roll”
  • “We Sing Hallelujah”

Thoughts: As a folky, I’ve been remiss in not listening to this album before, even though I’ve known of its existence for decades. The music is drawn from the English folk revival of the 1960s & 70s, reminiscent of the music of The Revels, but with rock & roll flourishes. 


Artist: Lady Gaga
Album: Born This Way
Year: 2011
Label: Interscope
Have I Listened to This Album Before?: No
Am I Familiar With This Artist/Songs from This Album?: Kind of impossible not to.
Would I Listen to this Album Again?: Probably not.
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Born This Way”

Thoughts: Lady Gaga was ubiquitous about a decade ago.  I guess she still is, with A Star is Born and performing at Biden’s inauguration. But other than the title track, I didn’t know any of these songs.  I guess all of her big songs are on another album. This is a fine collection of dance tracks, but I’m not likely to seek it out.


Artist: Muddy Waters
Album: The Anthology
Year: 2001
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:

  • “Gypsy Woman”
  • “I Can’t Be Satisfied”
  • “Rollin’ Stone”
  • “Walkin’ Blues”
  • “Country Boy”
  • “(I’m Your) Hoochie Coochie Man”
  • “I Just Want to Make Love To You
  • “Mannish Boy”
  • “Forty Days and Forty Nights”
  • “Got My Mojo Working”
  • “You Shook Me”

Thoughts: I love the music of McKinley Morganfield and took great delight in listening to 50 of his songs back-to-back.  But I once again find it a copout to include a box set compilation, released two decades after Muddy Waters’ death, as a “greatest album.” Obviously the RS 500 editors want to recognize the importance of the great Chicago Blues man who did most of his best work on singles rather than albums. I wonder if they could’ve achieved this by nominating instead his musical crossover success of At Newport 1960, or even one of the compilations released by Chess records in the 50s and 60s. This would feel to me something more intentionally an album rather than a retrospective box set.


Artist: The Pharcyde
Album: Bizarre Ride II the Pharcyde
Year: 1992
Label: Delicious Vinyl
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?: Yes
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Officer”
  • “Passin’ Me By”
  • “Otha Fish”
  • “Pack the Pipe”

Thoughts: Apparently I was busy with something else when The Pharcyde had their moment in the early 90s, because they are the first band so far in this list that I’ve never heard before.  I was excited to see RS refer to them as “a little like a West Coast answer to De La Soul and A Tribe Called Quest,” though. I do feel bad that I missed out on The Pharcyde because this is the type of hip hop with a sense of fun that I enjoyed before gangsta rappers began taking things (and themselves) too seriously.  The casual sexism in some of the lyrics make it less fun, though.


Artist: Belle and Sebastian
Album: If You’re Feeling Sinister
Year: 1996
Label: Jeepster
Have I Listened to This Album Before?: No
Am I Familiar With This Artist/Songs from This Album?: Vague awareness of the band
Would I Listen to this Album Again?: Yes
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Me and the Major”
  • “Get Me Away From Here, I’m Dying”
  • “If You’re Feeling Sinister”

Thoughts:

There are two things I know about Belle & Sebastian: 1) they were considered the epitome of twee back in the Oughts, and 2) they wrote a song about the New York Mets catcher Mike Piazza having to call a press conference regarding his sexuality.  I remember listening to one of their albums and not finding it much too interesting.  I didn’t realize that Belle & Sebastian were around as early as 1996, chipping away at the last days of grunge dominance. This a collection of finely-crafted folk rock tunes and I can’t say anything bad about, although it doesn’t really excite me either.  Nevertheless, I could see giving it another spin one day.


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