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The 897 Greatest Albums of All Time


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Posted on Mar 28, 2012 12:56:41 PM PDT
E. Dill says:
#186 GRATEFUL DEAD - LIVE DEAD

1. Dark Star (10)...if one has the patience to float with it for 23 minutes, it is an amazing piece of work
2. St. Stephen (10)
3. The Eleven (10)
4. Turn On Your Lovelight (10)
5. Death Don't Have No Mercy (10)
6. Feedback (10)
7. And We Bid You Goodnight (10)

OVERALL RATING: 10

DISCUSSION: This is a live album and although it is NOT of one performance, it plays like one and is hard to judge as individual songs or jams. Let it rip and float along with or without any moondust. I mean, this is a cd and there's no need to interupt the flow by changing the record(s). I may be one of those folks who've, on occasion, mocked Garcia and co. for "endless jams" in concert. Even for those of us who are not exactly "jam fans", flitting across country to follow the Dead or Phish or whomever the jam band of choice is.....THIS album is different. It may not be the only live collection of the Dead that is worthy of undivided attention or the best but it was the first and it had its affect on us who are old enough to remember and still does. A stellar historical document and some great music.

Posted on Mar 28, 2012 1:25:28 PM PDT
E. Dill says:
#185 GILLIAN WELCH - TIME (THE REVELATOR)

1. Revelator (10)
2. My First Lover (10)
3. Dear Someone (9)
4. Red Clay Halo (10)
5. April the 14th Part One (10)
6. I Want to Sing That Rock and Roll (9)
7. Elvis Presley Blues
8. Ruination Day, Part Two (10)
9. Everything is Free (10)
10. I Dream a Highway (10)

OVERALL RATING: 10

DISCUSSION: More than once, I've commented, when confronted with Welch's work, that I not only embrace it but can't help but wonder when I'm making those improptu lists of favorite female singers or singers in general, people like Newsom and Lucinda and Holiday and Aretha and Ronnie Spector and..........come rolling off my tongue but I seldom remember just how much Gillian and her music mean to me. Her voice and those songs she writes and sings and arranges with her partner, Dave Rawlings, move me to no end. I've been lucky enough to see her perform on tv (Austin City Limits?) but never live. I'd love to.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 28, 2012 9:10:22 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 22, 2012 5:35:54 PM PDT
Mark F. says:
Ed,

Good explanation re: your post of 2.3 and our respective ratings, though I will clarify one point--my album rating *is* actually mathematical, and, like you, that sometimes leads me to underrate some albums, which as you say I do try to account for in the review section of the post, FWIW. As you mentioned, some albums contain three or four great ones, and the rest is made up of clunkers. In that case, my own rating system quite possibly will undervalue the album because I deduct points for those songs I know and dislike. That brings up two flaws--there are many albums where I just don't know the songs, and they don't get penalized, even though it's quite possible that if I got to know the songs I'd dislike them and then the album rating would come down. Conversely, I could grow to like them, and then my rating system undervalues the album--I try to mention that in many of the ratings when I say something like "with a chance to rise" or the like. The other flaw is that for those albums with a high familiarity ranking that have three or four greats and a few that I don't like, they get docked points--is it fair that those go lower than the ones I just don't know? Probably not, but I think the two of us (and Shin when he was here) are doing the best we can to formulate a fair rating system. I think yours reflects (1) your encyclopedic knowledge of music and (2) your ability to immediately identify how you feel about a song, while mine reflects my lesser knowledge (but willingness to learn) and the fact that I'm not always able to immediately judge how I feel about a song. I've done 736 reviews (plus 38 with no rating), and the average rating is roughly 1.5. I hope when this is all done it'll at least go over 2!

Mark

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 30, 2012 12:02:58 PM PDT
Mark F. says:
Ed,

Thanks for your review of The Byrds of 2.4.

123. Red Hot Chili Peppers--Blood Sugar Sex Magik (1991; #3, 7x Platinum) (5)

FAMILIARITY: 2/10

1. The Power of Equality (?) (3)
2. If You Have to Ask (?) (4)
3. Breaking the Girl (9+)
4. Funky Monks (?) (4)
5. Suck My Kiss (?) (3)
6. I Could Have Lied (?) (3)
7. Mellowship Slinky in B Major (?) (3)
8. The Righteous and the Wicked (?) (2+)
9. Give It Away (5+)
10. Blood Sugar Sex Magik (?) (2+)
11. Under the Bridge (9)
12. Naked in the Rain (?) (2+)
13. Apache Rose Peacock (?) (2+)
14. The Greeting Song (?) (3)
15. My Lovely Man (?) (2+)
16. Sir Psycho Sexy (?) (3)
17. They're Red Hot (?) (3)

REVIEW: I wasn't too familiar with it, only knowing the three hits, but two of those (Breaking the Girl and Under the Bridge) are far and away my favorite RHCP tracks. Give It Away is a little too annoying to get much more than a mild like. Even Under the Bridge suffers from Kiedis's vocals. But still, this is their best outing of the three we've seen so far (along with Stadium Arcadium and Californication). I give it a solid 5.

Mark

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 30, 2012 9:47:00 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 22, 2012 8:18:14 PM PDT
Mark F. says:
Ed,

Thanks for your review of The Police of 2.4.

Up next, one I'm completely unfamiliar with.

122. A Tribe Called Quest--The Low End Theory (1991; #45)

1. Excursions (?) (3+)
2. Buggin' Out (?) (3+)
3. Rap Promoter (?) (3+)
4. Butter (?) (3+)
5. Verses From the Abstract (featuring Vinia Mojica and Ron Carter) (?) (3+)
6. Show Business (Featuring Diamond D, Lord Jamar, and Sadat X) (?) (3+)
7. Vibes and Stuff (?) (3+)
8. The Infamous Date R@pe (?) (3)
9. Check the Rhime (?) (3)
10. Everything Is Fair (?) (3)
11. Jazz (We've Got) (?) (4)
12. Skypager (?) (3)
13. What? (?) (3+)
14. Scenario (Featuring Busta Rhymes, Charlie Brown, and Dinco D of Leaders of the New School) (?) (2)

REVIEW: This might be the highest entry that I'm completely unfamiliar with (at least I hope it is). It's funny that, around the time this came out, I became enthralled with the group De La Soul, because their sounds are quite similar. Yet, A Tribe Called Quest pretty much passed me by, other than hearing mention of them from time to time and maybe hearing a track or two over the years. I like their blend of rap, jazz, and funk, but the major drawback here seems to be that each track is virtually indistinguishable from the next. De La Soul's songs seemed to be more unique from track to track (at least they were on the tape I had, 3 Feet High and Rising). Then later came PM Dawn, which also had a similar sound, if a bit poppier. So, this one gets an 0 for unfamiliarity.

Mark

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 31, 2012 4:56:01 AM PDT
Alexis says:
Yes, Ed. I have this on vinyl and it's screaming for a spin.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 31, 2012 5:00:22 AM PDT
Alexis says:
Mark, this seems an insightful comparison of yours and Ed's album/song rating systems.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 31, 2012 9:07:27 AM PDT
E. Dill says:
Mark/Alexis:

I agree with Alex....your explaination was a good one.

I would, however, question your rather gracious comment about my "encyclopedia knowledge of music". What I have concluded after listening to pop/rock music for well over almost 60 years is that there is a price to pay for trying to embrace it all. I go back and forth on whether that price is worth it for the excitement it brings when you hit upon something unexpected that you learn to love. It CAN change your entire perspective about music. On the other hand, it can waste a lot of precious time. I HAVE, I'll grant you, probably been more obsessively investigatory about new music (and old music I may have missed). In doing so, I've often given short shrift to those artists and those musics I've ALREADY deemed quite appealing to me. Was it worth it? Beats me. I can only judge the life I've lead. I've had fun, even with my obsessiveness, but I DO sometimes wonder if being a bit more focused is better than bouncing around from one artist/style to another, trying not to miss anything. Maybe that ping pong approach of mine makes for my seemingly "over generous" or "uncritical" view of a slew of music and musicians. Much of my "encyclopedic knowledge" is based in part by my insatiable appetite for music I haven't yet heard and part of it is that I'm a good fact finder. I also (which irritates some, even when I'm honest about it) am wont to quote professional critics to reflect what I think of something (both positive and negative) because they do it better than me....and, I do sometimes quote them when I firmly disagree with them, also.

But, as I've said before, a lot of my final decisions on how to define my ratings numerically was selfish. I wanted them to mean something, first and foremost, to ME. I wanted to remember, next year or five years from now, that an album that was quite listenable with flaws WAS still quite listenable....and, for me, if that album had a 6 or 7 attached to it, it may be more worthy of listening than if I'd have given it a 2. I wanted the real low numbers to be limited to those albums I truly am dismissing....with little worthiness to me. Not surprisingly, I haven't found one amongst these we've been doing. Again, I wanted numbers that would reflect what I wanted to reflect TO ME. And with all my 10s (which to some MUST be WATERED DOWN by their sheer frequency), I want them to reflect, today, tommorrow and five years from now that these albums are a true pleasure to listen to. Yes, there is a chance (there always is) that in five years, my tastes have changed and the album is NOT as worthy as it was....I'll take that chance.

I guess I like the fact that Mark and I did it our way and honestly tried to explain it to each other and anyone viewing this. Clearly, we both love music and have discussed our similar and not-so-similar tastes. That's as it should be. I've enjoyed the ride so far, except for my sometimes lack of focus in moving forward.

ed.

Posted on Apr 2, 2012 1:28:20 AM PDT
E. Dill says:
#184 DECEMBERISTS - THE CRANE WIFE

1. The Crane Wife part 3 (10)
2. The Island: Come and See/The Landlord's Daughter/You'll Not Feel The...(10)
3. Yankee Bayonet (I Will Be Home Then) (10)
4. O Vilencia (10)
5. The Perfect Crime #2 (10)
6. When the War Came (10)
7. Shankill Butchers (10)
8. Summersong (9)
9. The Crane Wife Pts. 1&2 (10)
10. Sons & Daughters (10)

OVERALL RATING: 10

DISCUSSION: Colin Meloy is a name to be reckoned with. His voice and his songwriting presents a sound that I'm familiar with and want to hear more and more of. I was taken by their "Picaresque" album and now this one. I kept trying to think of Colin's voice and who he reminded me of. It was Robyn Hitchcock, if not in the oddness of his lyrical quirkiness but the voice itself. Colin is a storyteller and he sings his stories well. Another exceptional album!

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 2, 2012 6:55:13 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 23, 2012 11:51:31 AM PDT
Mark F. says:
Ed,

Thanks for your Warren Zevon review of 2.12.

121. Coldplay--A Rush of Blood to the Head (2002; #5; 4x platinum) (4)

FAMILIARITY: 2/10

1. Politik (?) (3+)
2. In My Place (?) (3)
3. God Put a Smile on My Face (?) (5)
4. The Scientist (8)
5. Clocks (9)
6. Daylight (?) (4)
7. Green Eyes (?) (3)
8. Warning Sign (?) (3)
9. A Whisper (?) (3)
10. A Rush of Blood to the Head (?) (3)
11. Amsterdam (?) (3)

REVIEW: This is our third encounter with Coldplay on this list, 777 entries in. It's my highest-rated from them; the other two so far (X&Y and Parachutes) got zeroes. This one contains two of the three songs I like by them, the other being Viva La Vida from their 2008 album of the same name. While Coldplay's music is quite listenable, their sound tends to be draggy and repetitious. Since the voters for this chart went to the polls in 2007 to determine the outcome of this list, Viva La Vida won't appear, but if and when the station does another of these lists I'm sure it will, and perhaps "Rush of Blood" will drop a bit from where it appeared on the current list. I give it a 4.

Mark

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 6, 2012 12:34:28 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 23, 2012 12:20:13 PM PDT
Mark F. says:
David,

Thanks for your suggestion of 2.12. Bat Out of Hell checked in on this list at #437. My rating was a 3, which is not that low on my scale, given that my average rating has been around 1.5.

Up next, one I have on vinyl.

120. Queen--A Night at the Opera (1975; #4) (6)

FAMILIARITY: 3/10

1. Death on Two Legs (Dedicated to...) (?) (3)
2. Lazing on a Sunday Afternoon (?) (4)
3. I'm in Love With My Car (5+)
4. You're My Best Friend (9+)
5. 39 (?) (3+)
6. Sweet Lady (?) (3)
7. Seaside Rendezvous (?) (3+)
8. The Prophet's Song (?) (2)
9. Love of My Life (?) (3)
10. Good Company (?) (3)
11. Bohemian Rhapsody (10) (Only drawback: massively overplayed)
12. God Save the Queen (Instrumental) (?) (7)

REVIEW: This is their fourth entry on this list so far, and highest rated for me (I gave "News of the World" a 4). It contains their "magnum opus"--Bohemian Rhapsody, still a crank-it-up favorite despite being run into the ground, particularly via its rebirth through Wayne's World (which I never actually saw, and now, 20 years on, have no desire to do so). I did see the clip of Myers and Carvey doing the head-bop with Kathy Ireland while listening to the closing solo. I do *love* the Flaming Lips' live recital of it--it sounds amazing as a singalong and with all the accompanying fanfare (balloons, videos, etc.) that the Lips add to it. Back in '75, when this was released, I was in 7th grade, and our lunch table did our own Wayne's World version of it. You're My Best Friend is another pop gem here, and I always enjoyed I'm in Love With My Car, the B-side to Bohemian Rhapsody. I probably have heard their closing version of God Save the Queen, but I gave it a ? anyway--regardless, I like it. The albums suffers a bit from one too many "jaunty" vaudeville-type songs, but they're sort of fun to listen to as well, and fit in with Mercury's showmanship and image. The album gets a 6 overall.

Mark

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 6, 2012 6:07:27 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 23, 2012 2:25:10 PM PDT
Mark F. says:
Ed,

Thanks for your Morphine review of 2.12.

119. Yes--Close to the Edge (1972; #3, Gold) (0)

FAMILIARITY: 3/10

1. Close to the Edge (I. The Solid Time of Change; II. Total Mass Retain; III. I Get Up, I Get Down; IV. Seasons of Man) (?) (2)
2. And You and I (I. Cord of Life; II. Eclipse; III. The Preacher The Teacher; IV. Apocalypse) (2) (vaguely familiar)
3. Siberian Khatru (?) (2)

REVIEW: Yes sometimes appeals to me, but not here. I've heard And You and I, but not that often. So this comes close to a completely unfamiliar album to me, and very far up in the countdown. This is their fourth album on the list thus far, and the only one I've ranked fairly highly is 90125, way back at #839. I guess it shows that I don't embrace the progressive sound wholeheartedly, though there are things that appeal to me here and there. My experience with Yes doesn't quite mirror that of with Genesis, where I really didn't care for anything they did in their progressive era (Lamb Lies Down on Broadway and before), and liked a lot of their material from their "pop" period. With Yes, I *did* like their "pop" oriented 90125, but also liked a couple of things from their progressive period, albeit tracks that crossed over to pop (Roundabout and I've Seen All Good People). So, this one gets a 0.

Mark

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 7, 2012 6:44:34 PM PDT
Mark F. says:
Ed,

Thanks for your Nirvana review of 2.13.

Up next, one I know I have on vinyl, but can't track down, so it's on to Spotify I go.

118. Talking Heads--77 (1977; #97) (1)

FAMILIARITY: 2/10

1. Uh-Oh, Love Comes to Town (?) (2+)
2. New Feeling (?) (2+)
3. Tentative Decisions (?) (2+)
4. Happy Day (?) (2+)
5. Who Is It? (?) (2+)
6. No Compassion (?) (2+)
7. The Book I Read (?) (2+)
8. Don't Worry About the Government (?) (2+)
9. First Week/Last Week...Carefree (?) (2+)
10. Pyscho Killer (8)
11. Pulled Up (3)

REVIEW: Well, this is their fifth entry, and it ranks fourth among those for me. I like Speaking in Tongues the most by far, and then comes Little Creatures, followed by More Songs About Buildings and Food. This ranks above Fear of Music, which I gave a 0 (despite my love for Life During Wartime *and* the great album cover), but not by much. Psycho Killer, their first hit, is the only thing that saves it for me. A 1.

Mark

1.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 9, 2012 9:01:37 PM PDT
Mark F. says:
Ed,

Thanks for your Elvis Costello review of 2.13. I agree with you, save for the final track, which was penned by Nick Lowe (What's So Funny...).

Up next, another one from my vinyl collection.

117. Cat Stevens--Tea for the Tillerman (1970; #8; 3x Platinum) (2)

FAMILIARITY: 2/10

1. Where Do the Children Play? (?) (3)
2. Hard Headed Woman (?) (3)
3. Wild World (9)
4. Sad Lisa (?) (3)
5. Miles From Nowhere (?) (3+)
6. But I Might Die Tonight (?) (3)
7. Longer Boats (?) (3)
8. Into White (?) (3)
9. On the Road to Find Out (?) (3+)
10. Father and Son (5)
11. Tea For the Tillerman (?) (3)

REVIEW: I'm surprised that this was his first entry here, with not many chances left to make a follow-up appearance. While this is a pleasant, relaxing listen, only Wild World rises above the rest for me. Father and Son nearly makes it, but in the end it sort of disappoints me. I hope we see his next release, Teaser and the Firecat, before this list is through. This one gets a 2.

Mark

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 10, 2012 8:53:18 PM PDT
Mark F. says:
Ed,

Thanks for your Woodstock review of 2.14. Nope, never saw the movie. And while I was alive and well when the concert took place some 230 miles from my house, I guess I was too young to be aware of it. My first recollection of it and awareness that it had happened was the summer of '70, when I started to see the iconic symbol of the guitar with the bird on it.

Up next, one I have on CD.

116. Beck--Odelay (1996; #16, 2x platinum) (6)

FAMILIARITY: 7/10

1. Devil's Haircut (7)
2. Hotwax (4+)
3. Lord Only Knows (5)
4. The New Pollution (7+)
5. Derelict (?) (3)
6. Novacane (3)
7. Jack-A** (9)
8. Where It's At (9+)
9. Minus (?) (3)
10. Sissyneck (7)
11. Readymade (?) (3)
12. High 5 (Rock the Catskills) (5)
13. Ramshackle (?) (3)
14. Computer Rock (Hidden Track) (2)

Bonus Tracks

15. Diskobox (?) (2+)
16. Clocks (?) (-)

REVIEW: This is Beck's third entry on this chart, and my favorite. There's three top tracks here, as well as a couple of others I also like. I listened to it a lot when it came out, so I'm pretty familiar with it. I give it a 6.

Mark

Posted on Apr 11, 2012 2:01:30 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Apr 11, 2012 2:22:07 PM PDT
E. Dill says:
#183 KING CRIMSON - THE COURT OF THE CRIMSON KING

1. 21st Century Schizoid Man/Mirrors
2. I Talk to the Wind
3. Epitaph/March for No Reason/Tomorrow and Tommorrow
4. Moonchild/The Dream/The Illusion
5. The Court of the Crimson King/The Return of the Fire Witch/The Dance of the...

OVERALL RATING: 10

DISCUSSION: No need to give individual ratings. This IS my favorite progressive album, period. Ok, I've never had a "prog day" where I played all the contenders in a row and decided that way, but even in its pretenses, and all prog rock has them, it works. I was taken by it the first time I heard it and it still resonates. So what are the other "contenders":

Jethro Tull - Thick as a Brick
Vanilla Fudge - Renaissance (no kidding!)
Yes - Fragile/Close to the Edge (maybe)

Oddly, what little I've written here brings up something I've noticed before. I often tend to write less about those albums that mean the most to me, unless they are albums that do not seem to be usually given that kind of attention. Sometimes, when I do write more, it is less an analysis of the music and what it means to me and more about an anecdote about my history with the album. Since I'm not adept at discussing music in musical (technical) terms, I can only relate to how I react(ed) to it. Again, this has been one of my favorite albums since I first heard it. It remains so today. As is the case with some of the best rock albums, especially progressive albums, it works as a single work instead of only as individual songs. Dare I say thematically. (What was the theme of Sgt Pepper's again?.....oh yeah, that band)

ed.

Posted on Apr 11, 2012 2:42:02 PM PDT
E. Dill says:
One brief comment about Court of the Crimson King.....

I was reading some listener comments about the album as I listened to it again and noticed some rather severe criticism about the cut "Moonchild". In reading it, you'd have sworn the cut was a cross between John Zorn, Pussy Galore and The Boredoms in its innate "artsy noisiness. So I listened again and must have heard another song. "Moonchild" is "over the top" experimental "noisiness"?

Like I said, I seldom try to describe the sounds I hear and like. Those 12+ minutes of "Moonchild" may not have been everyone's cup of tea, but it sure sounded quite mellow in its experimentalness than was described by those critical listeners.

Posted on Apr 11, 2012 2:54:41 PM PDT
[Deleted by Amazon on Apr 11, 2012 3:03:50 PM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 12, 2012 11:27:30 AM PDT
Mark F. says:
Ed,

Thanks for your Michael Jackson review of 2.15.

115. Joni Mitchell--Hejira (1976) (0)

FAMILIARITY: 1/10

1. Coyote (4)
2. Amelia (?) (3)
3. Furry Sings the Blues (?) (3)
4. A Strange Boy (?) (3)
5. Hejira (?) (3)
6. Song for Sharon (?) (2+)
7. Black Crow (?) (3)
8. Blue Motel Room (?) (3)
9. Refuge of the Roads (?) (3)

REVIEW: Well, if it were not for the recent review of The Last Waltz, this one would have been completely unknown to me, because if I did hear Coyote before listening to that I surely wouldn't have remembered it. So, basically this was completely new to me, and I have to say I don't hear anything special about it. I do like a lot of Joni Mitchell material, but am perplexed by the critical raving about this one (it seems; I really didn't know it was so highly regarded until finding it perched here all the way up at #115) and Blue, which is totally devoid of anything I like by her. My favorite album of hers by far is Court and Spark, which I hope will appear here. This is her fourth appearance on this list, and the only one so far that I gave a rating above 0 is Ladies of the Canyon (on the strength of Big Yellow Taxi). So, this one gets a 0.

Mark

Posted on Apr 12, 2012 6:09:47 PM PDT
E. Dill says:
#182 JACKSON BROWNE - THE PRETENDER

1. The Fuse (9)...like most of the songs here, the lyrics themselves are 10s...."And the years that I spent lost in the mystery..."
2. Your Bright Baby Blues (9)....."No matter how fast I run/I can never seem to get away from me/No matter where I am/I can't help feeling I'm just a day away
From where I want to be"
3. Linda Paloma (9)
4. Here Come Those Tears Again (10)
5. The Only Child (10)
6. Daddy's Tune (9)
7. Sleep Dark and Silent Gate (10)
8. The Pretender (10)
OVERALL: 10
DISCUSSION: This IS a tough album to listen to because, regardless of the timing of the songs being written and Browne's wife's suicide that occurred around the same time, it is impossible to not read into every word in every lyric the tragedy of that event. I've always liked Browne's early work and sometimes his lyrics are more memorable than his melodies for me. Perhaps his voice allows him to write lyrics that are quite introspective and emotional, in that it, in and of itself, is NOT that emotional sounding, allowing us to think about the words being sung without feeling bleak about his own misgivings/questions about his life and his future, etc. In a way, he is able to accomplish what most blues singers do, namely, to sing about a sense of loss without sounding maudlin.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 13, 2012 9:19:04 PM PDT
Mark F. says:
Ed,

Thanks for your U2 review of 2/16/12.

Up next, one from the vinyl vault (closet is more like it).

114. The Police--Outlandos D'Amour (1978; #23) (6)

FAMILIARITY: 6/10

1. Next to You (6)
2. So Lonely (8+)
3. Roxanne (6)
4. Hole in My Life (6+)
5. Peanuts (?) (3)
6. Can't Stand Losing You (8+)
7. Truth Hits Everybody (?) (3)
8. Born in the '50s (2+)
9. Be My Girl--Sally (?) (2)
10. Masoko Tanga (?) (3)

REVIEW: This is the trio's fourth appearance on this list, and it's tied with Zenyatta Mondatta for being my favorite among them (the others were Regatta de Blanc, which I gave a 3, and Ghost in the Machine, which got a 2). This one is solid throughout, especially the first side. I never was that big a fan of the biggest single, Roxanne, which I didn't warm up to until Sting did an acoustic version of it on The Secret Policemen's Other Ball (along with Message in a Bottle). I give this one a 6.

Mark

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 14, 2012 2:01:48 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 24, 2012 8:04:27 PM PDT
Mark F. says:
Ed,

Thanks for your Stevie Wonder review of 2.17.

113. U2--The Unforgettable Fire (1984; #12; 3x Platinum) (5)

FAMILIARITY: 4/10

1. A Sort of Homecoming (5)
2. Pride (in the Name of Love) (9+)
3. Wire (6+) (a little Let's Spend the Night Together and/or Van Morrison, a little Pink Floyd Money)
4. The Unforgettable Fire (?) (3)
5. Promenade (?) (3)
6. 4th of July (?) (3)
7. Bad (9)
8. Indian Summer Sky (?) (3)
9. Elvis Presley and America (?) (3)
10. MLK (?) (3)

REVIEW: U2 moves into a three-way tie for second place for most entries on the chart so far--Bob Dylan leads with 10, and U2 has 8 along with the Grateful Dead and Van Morrison. At one point, David Bowie led with 7, but incredibly he hasn't been heard from since the 500s. This one also moves into a second-place tie in my personal ratings of the albums, with War also getting a 5, and Rattle and Hum way ahead in first with a 10. This one shines with two classics (Pride and Bad) and one other I like mildly (Wire). Pride has been overplayed through the years, so it's hard to get a handle on how good it is--it's just become wallpaper music for me after so many listens. When this album came out and we received a complimentary copy of it at the college radio station I was working for at the time, I was in the studio when it had come in and the DJ ahead of me was giving it its first spin. "Thank God they haven't sold out!" he wrote on the cover of the album (we were allowed to leave our comments about the albums in writing to each other). I'm not sure they ever really "sold out" despite how big they became; their sound wasn't *that* different from their earliest work--if anything, their music suffers from a certain sameness--the arena, anthemic sound that both Ed and I have discussed in our reviews of the band here. I think it was present on "I Will Follow" from their debut album and only disappeared almost completely when they went "electronic" roughly a decade after this release on Zooropa (1993) and then Pop (1997). Now, 15 years after that release, they've pretty much returned to their "signature" sound on their 21st century albums. So, this one gets a 5.

Mark

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 14, 2012 8:32:57 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 24, 2012 8:05:49 PM PDT
Mark F. says:
Ed,

Thanks for your Jack Johnson review of 2.17. I generally like him and I gave it a 2 to your 6, even though your review was quite negative. My 6's usually get rave reviews from you. :-)

112. Johnny Cash--American Recordings (1994; #110) (0)

FAMILIARITY: 0/10

1. Delia's Gone (?) (3)
2. Let the Train Blow the Whistle (?) (3)
3. The Beast in Me (?) (3)
4. Drive On (?) (3)
5. Why Me Lord? (?) (3)
6. Thirteen (edit) (?) (3)
7. Oh, Bury Me Not (Introduction: A Cowboy's Prayer) (?) (3)
8. Bird on the Wire (?) (5) (hadn't heard his version of the Leonard Cohen song)
9. Tennessee Stud (Live) (?) (3)
10. Down There By the Train (?) (3)
11. Redemption (?) (3)
12. Like a Soldier (?) (3)
13. The Man Who Couldn't Cry (?) (3)

REVIEW: Well, here again is another recording from The Man in Black that's fraught with questions as to which records should be reviewed here. Back at #449, we came to an entry titled Man in Black, and Ed and I both found that their were two Cash recordings by that same name. We both chose to review the one of original material released in 1971 rather than a more recent compilation with the same title (which makes sense for my review at least, since I don't rate compilations as a whole). When I first saw the title "American Recordings" on the list, I thought, "Oh great--isn't there like about 7 discs released in that series?" Well, it turned out not to be a problem, because there is one definitive album by that title, the first one, released in 1994 (and which never made it past #110 on the albums chart, just barely higher than it's all-time ranking here). A couple years later, the Rick Rubin-produced series would continue under the title Unchained, and, after a four-year hiatus, continue with albums titled American III-VI (the most recent having been released in 2010). So, since none of the subsequent discs carry the full title American Recordings, which is unique to the original release, no conflict actually arose and I decided to just consider the 1994 disc. Which is sort of unfortunate, because the stuff I really like (e.g., Hurt) came on the later releases and not here. In fact, this now becomes the highest-ranked album of material completely unknown to me (with an asterisk, since I do know Bird on a Wire--just not his version). So, when all was said and done, this one got a 0, unfortunately.

Mark

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 15, 2012 3:20:48 PM PDT
Mark F. says:
Ed,

Thanks for your Dave Matthews Band review of 2.17.

111. AC/DC--Back in Black (1980; #4, 22x Platinum--4th-highest seller in U.S.) (0)

FAMILIARITY: 9/10

1. Hell's Bells (6) (good intro)
2. Shoot to Thrill (3)
3. What Do You Do For Money Honey? (2+)
4. Given the Dog a Bone (2)
5. Let Me Put My Love Into You (?) (1+)
6. Back in Black (5+) (saved by the intro; gets tedious as it goes along, but closes well)
7. You Shook Me All Night Long (7+)
8. Have a Drink on Me (3)
9. Shake a Leg (?) (2)
10. Rock and Roll Ain't Noise Pollution (2+)

REVIEW: This is a tough one to review, and to ultimately give a 0 to (mostly because I'm so familiar with it and there's quite a few tracks I don't like at all). On one level, it's a primal recording full of great riffs; on another, it's grating at times. The classic intros to the title track and Hell's Bells make them hard to dismiss, even when I start to tire of Johnson's vocals. The only song I enjoy (somewhat without reservation) is You Shook Me All Night Long, but even that's flawed when you really break it down. For a pure adrenalin rush, this truly rocks, but you have to be in the mood for it. There's also the misogyny to deal with--calling a woman a "dog" is down there with some of the vilest rap lyrics. I don't object to the sexual imagery contained in the lyrics (track #4); just the degrading aspect of them. This has sold 22 million copies in the U.S.--behind only Thriller, The Eagles' Greatest Hits, and Led Zeppelin IV--and is the second-biggest worldwide, behind only Thriller. I wasn't too thrilled with Thriller when it came out, but in retrospect it is far more deserving of such elevated status than this one, which I never realized was so popular (though being familiar with almost every track without ever having obtained the album--I don't think--should have tipped me off, but a lot of that was timing--I heard it so much at the roller skating rinks I attended during the height of its popularity). And it's rare for an album with three songs in my "like" category to end up rated a 0, but I deducted points for the five tracks I don't like. If I had never heard those tracks, this one would have ended up with a 4, but it still makes sense for me to dock points for parts of albums I don't like. So, this one gets a sort-of reluctant 0.

Mark

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 15, 2012 7:58:08 PM PDT
Mark F. says:
Ed,

Thanks for your red Hot Chili Peppers review of 2.17.

110. Prince and the Revolution--Purple Rain (1984; #1, 13x Platinum) (9)

FAMILIARITY: 9/10

1. Let's Go Crazy (9)
2. Take Me With U (with Apollonia Kotero) (9+)
3. The Beautiful Ones (?) (3)
4. Computer Blue (3+)
5. Darling Nikki (5)
6. When Doves Cry (9+) (great intro--blew through the radio clutter in 1984)
7. I Would Die 4 U (5)
8. Baby I'm a Star (9+)
9. Purple Rain (10)

REVIEW: As conflicted as I was about the album prior to this one, this one poses no such dilemma--it's a straight up winner. This album virtually defined the '80s. From opening to close, it delivers one classic after another. It might be one of the most enjoyable listens for me on this countdown so far, because while it didn't quite reach the 10 status, there are 5 songs here that are 9 or above and that I enjoy immensely. Can't say enough about it--fantastic, genius...OK, I'm gushing, but I rarely do so why not. This is Prince's second (only!) appearance here, the other being Sign O' the Times, which I didn't find that interesting. I do hope 1999 shows up here before we run out of notches, even though this is heads and shoulders above even that one, which I like a lot too. Not only is the material in the album great, it gets high ratings for cover design as well. From the opening "sermon" to kick off Let's Go Crazy to the closing violin strains on Purple Rain (one of the best outros I can think of), Prince takes us on a wild ride that only lets up a bit through the middle of Side 1. I give it a solid 9.

Mark
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