Monday, April 27, 2009

Hunting the Horny Back Toad

#22 Goodbye Yellow Brick Road: Elton John. Earlier on I dissed double albums and claimed I didnt have the patience for them. That's true, but this one falls through the cracks because my first copy of it was on CD, and it fits on one CD! So there! I have a friend who is also blogging his favorites, and we are in surprise agreement on some things. We even both had this one at #22! So we must be right. Anyway, lots of classic rock CDs dont hold up to the passing of time. I have found, somewhat surprisingly, that Elton John does. His first eponymous CD (which for some reason is always playing in my favorite sushi restaurant) is an underrated low-fi gem. This one, I think, is his best. Just a great straight-forward rock record, with great piano playing, epic songs, and a brilliant close (Harmony). A few throwaway tunes, but worth revisiting.

There Goes the Fear

#23 The Last Broadcast: Doves. I'm having a hard time coming up with a good description of why I love this CD so much. I was going to say that the songs have a soaring quality but that sounds like a lame Dove reference. So, nothing very clever insightful here. Maybe I'm just pissed off because the Yankees are about to get swept by the Red Sox. But this CD really is great. I just can't tell you why right now.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

I Left My Soul There

#24 Big Calm: Morcheeba. The late 90s are kind of an empty period for me musically - except for a brief phase that I had exploring electronica: not loud house music, but trip-hop, drum-n-beat, downtempo, chillout stuff. I listened to an online radio station called MonkeyRadio - I had no idea who the artists were or the songs, but I thought it was a good vibe. Morcheeba comes out of that phase...basically trip-hop with a pop sensibility. I scooped up all of their CDs and wore them out for a few years. This is the best one.

As I am writing this I realize that there is a better CD from this era and genre that I dont have on my list, but I need to add, so lets do it here at #23.5: Dummy: Portishead. Dummy came out a few years earlier and basically started the whole trip-hop scene - electronic beats, dreamy, ethereal vocals and just a real coolness. Sour Times is the most recognizable song from the CD, and it has this weird shaky cowbell sound that permeates it. I know that sounds awful but the song has a lot else going on, especially Beth Gibbon's slithery vocals, that make it a classic.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

How Come You Taste So Good?

#25 Sticky Fingers: Rolling Stones. This is not the RS CD that usually shows up as the best on critics lists. Jackie likes Let It Bleed, and she has a point. Exile on Main Street is the usual choice, but I dont have patience for double albums. Anyway, these are all great picks, but Sticky Fingers is my choice. Think about Stones vs. Beatles. The Beatles were more culturally significant, and obviously they are both all-time greats, but I'm starting to think the Stones were just better. The Beatles have a lot of annoying songs. Mean Mr. Mustard. Lovely Rita. Polythene Pam. WTF? The Stones have very few of these moments (and yes I am ignoring the last 30 years (!)). Sticky Fingers is a great example of a CD with start to finish excellence.

By the way, I once heard a radio guy who gave a cool list of "Songs that are undeniably recognizable by their first one or two notes". The first two songs on his list were both Stones songs "Brown Sugar" and "Satisfaction". He also had Elton's Bennie and the Jets. I forget the rest. Can you think of any other good ones?

And how many album covers feature an uncomfortably tight crotch shot and a working zipper? Just learned from Wikipedia that according to VH1 this qualifies it for the best album cover of all time.

As Fresh as the Bright Blue Sky

#26: Appetite for Destruction: Guns n Roses. Do you remember 1987? Before Nirvana, Pearl Jam and the rest changed things, the musical landscape was pretty bleak. Outside of U2 and REM, who ruled the world, the radio was teeming with Richard Marx and Def Leppard. I wasn't cool enough yet to like the Replacements. My idea of cutting edge was 10,000 Maniacs. And then came GnR on the scene. I wasn't a hair metal fan but this was something different...raw...nasty...loud...obnoxious...just solid sexdrugsrocknroll. Obviously, they never came close to this again -- fame got to them and they started doing pretentious unlistenable rock opuses (?) like November Rain (yuck). But this CD is a landmark. Sweet Child of Mine is a beautfully constructed song with a surprising unsyrupy tenderness - and Welcome to the Jungle and Paradise City are awesome classics. I bet you haven't listened to this CD in a long time. Go to the rack and treat yourself again. It still holds up.