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The 897 Greatest Albums of All Time


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In reply to an earlier post on May 6, 2012 9:45:09 PM PDT
J.M. Savory says:
you're welcome, Ed. it's possible i mentioned some software called mp3 Rocket in the past. THAT was recommended to me by a friend, but i couldn't do anything with it myself, mainly because it's more PC-friendly, and i have a Mac. not only is the link easier to use, it's supposedly good with all types of computers. let me know how you make out!

In reply to an earlier post on May 7, 2012 6:19:46 AM PDT
Alexis says:
Ed, you also included:
The Jungle Line (The Hissing of Summer Lawns)
Edith and the Kingpin (THOSL)
Shades of Scarlet Conquering (THOSL)
Sweet Bird (THOSL)
Amelia (Heijira)
Song for Sharon (Heijira)

on the Joni mix. I only had her Heijira album prior to that (I loved her song "Amelia") So thank you. I'll play it again soon.

In reply to an earlier post on May 7, 2012 6:25:08 AM PDT
Alexis says:
Thanks for that link John. It will certainly come in handy.

In reply to an earlier post on May 7, 2012 7:58:58 AM PDT
J.M. Savory says:
you're welcome. youtube does have complete albums too; however, i tried downloading one, and you can't do it. knew there'd be a catch ;)

In reply to an earlier post on May 7, 2012 8:54:15 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 22, 2012 3:12:24 PM PDT
Mark F. says:
Ed,

Thanks for your Damien Rice review of 2.29.

93. The Cure--Disintegration (1989; #12)

FAMILIARITY: 3/10

1. Plainsong (?) (3)
2. Pictures of You (3)
3. Closedown (?) (3)
4. Lovesong (5)
5. Last Dance (?) (3)
6. Lullaby (?) (3)
7. Fascination Street (5)
8. Prayers for Rain (?) (3)
9. The Same Deep Water As You (?) (3)
10. Disintegration (?) (3)
11. Homesick (?) (3)
12. Untitled (?) (4) (actually reminds me of After the Gold Rush by Neil Young)

REVIEW: This is our fourth go-round with the Cure, and there's two I like (The Head on the Door and Kiss Me x3) and two that I don't (Pornography and this one). It's the first top 100 album that I'm giving a 0 to, but it's close to not being a shutout because two of the songs I know here approach likeability. For some reason, neither Lovesong or Fascination Street ever quite rose to something I like, but they were both close. Of the ones I don't know (and there are 9 of them), Untitled is my favorite and could become one I like. There's an odd similarity to After the Gold Rush, though of course stylistically they're miles apart; it's purely a melodic thing. I give it a 0 with a chance to rise.

Mark

In reply to an earlier post on May 8, 2012 11:56:14 AM PDT
Mark F. says:
Ed,

Thanks for your Santana review of 3.1.

92. Velvet Underground--Velvet Underground & Nico (1967) (0)

FAMILIARITY: 4/10

1. Sunday Morning (?) (5)
2. I'm Waiting for the Man (4)
3. Femme Fatale (?) (2)
4. Venus in Furs (?) (3)
5. Run Run Run (5+)
6. All Tomorrow's Parties (3)
7. Heroin (2+)
8. There She Goes Again (?) (3)
9. I'll Be Your Mirror (?) (2)
10. The Black Angel's Death Song (?) (3)
11. European Son (?) (3)

REVIEW: This is VU's 4th entry here, and the third I've given a 0 (I gave Loaded a 5). This is their debut, and it acts as a sort-of East Coast counterpart or answer to the '67 Summer of Love, in which the main locus was San Francisco led by the Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane. However, they recorded this one in the spring of '66, before anyone had heard of those two bands, so in a way the two sounds sprung up independent of one another but yet took rock to new and daring heights. While JA and the Dead were psychedelic, there's was a happier outgrowth than the dark and morbid version influenced by the gritty, seedy underside of NYC and the Village. There's influences here from the Byrds and early garage rock, but VU made their sound their own and continues to influence today's sound. So from that standpoint, this is a groundbreaking album. From a personal standpoint, nothing other than "Run Run Run," which I elevated to a like on this listen after hearing it a few times before, I never really took to anything on this album and wasn't overly familiar with it in the first place. I picked it up on CD when I was collecting the RS 500 back in '03 (BTW, I just heard they've released a new 500 list, with 30 new entries--I'm just hoping I get through with this one before the radio station releases a new 897 list!) and I ended up selling it for lack of interest on my part. So, this one gets a 0, but it does have more potential, I think, than the previous entry from the Cure.

Mark

In reply to an earlier post on May 11, 2012 11:53:19 AM PDT
Mark F. says:
Ed,

Thanks for your Yes review of 3.1.

91. Peter Gabriel--So (1986; #2, 5x Platinum) (1)

FAMILIAIRITY: 6/10

1. Red Rain (4)
2. Sledgehammer (9)
3. Don't Give Up (w/ Kate Bush) (2+)
4. That Voice Again (?) (3)
5. In Your Eyes (9+)
6. Mercy Street (?) (3)
7. Big Time (3)
8. We Do What We're Told (Milgram's 37) (?) (3)
9. This Is the Picture (Excellent Birds) (w/ Laurie Anderson) (?) (3+)

REVIEW: This is Gabriel's fourth entry here, and none of them have gone higher than a 1 for me. I would have thought this one would have rated higher, since there's two songs I love here (In Your Eyes and Sledgehammer). However, it was brought down by the presence of three songs I don't like. I wasn't aware that this one was so highly regarded as to merit a top 100 entry, but I'm not that opposed to it since it does contain two gems. A 1 with a chance to rise if I give the four tracks I don't know more listens.

Mark

In reply to an earlier post on May 14, 2012 7:58:40 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 22, 2012 3:15:18 PM PDT
Mark F. says:
Ed,

Thanks for your Elliot Smith review of 3.4.

Up next, one from my vinyl vault.

90. Led Zeppelin--Houses of the Holy (1973; #1, 11x platinum) (7)

FAMILIARITY: 10/10

1. The Song Remains the Same (3)
2. The Rain Song (9+)
3. Over the Hills and Far Away (8)
4. The Crunge (2+)
5. Dancing Days (9+)
6. D'yer Mak'er (9)
7. No Quarter (3+)
8. The Ocean (9)

REVIEW: The mighty Led Zep clocks in with their third entry here and their second-consecutive 7 rating. This is a rarity--I know every song on the album. I'm least familiar with the three I dislike, though I know all of them well enough to know I don't care for them. The Crunge is an interesting attempt at an homage to James Brown, of all people, though Zeppelin was always good for a surprise now and then--the reggae-influence of D'yer Mak'er here; the country hoedown on Hot Dog on In Through the Out Door. But I didn't care for Plant's vocals on The Crunge, so I gave it a low rating (kinda reminiscent of the annoyance factor of The Immigrant Song). The Song Remains the Same features amazing guitar work, but it drags on a bit too much for me. And No Quarter is also a bit draggy. But the five tunes I like here stand tall. A solid 7.

Mark

In reply to an earlier post on May 15, 2012 11:51:02 AM PDT
Mark F. says:
W. Stevens,

Sorry about my over-2-month delay in responding to your post of 3.8 asking who Steve Curry and Melba Moore are. Well, I've never heard of the former and am only casually familiar with the latter, but they were singers who appeared on the album ranked #897 (out of 897) on this list, which was voted on by listeners of a Maryland public radio station. That album was the "Hair" soundtrack, and I believe I was using the original stage soundtrack and not the one from the film released later. The list we're using is now about 4 years old, and I'm guessing that were they to conduct another such survey, "Hair" would fall off the list. However, I gave it a relatively high (for me) 7, which is the same I gave to recent entries from Led Zeppelin (Houses of the Holy at #90 and Physical Graffiti at #98, which points out a flaw in my rating system that I've recognized and talked about here. I give 2 points for each song rated 7+ or higher; 1 for a song between 5+-7; and subtract 1 point for songs I know ranked 4+ or lower. So, a soundtrack, which is a compilation of songs from different artists, might contain a bunch of songs I like and rack up the points (see Saturday Night Fever, which I gave a 9), but an album of orginal material by a single artist is handicapped in comparison to those--it's harder for a single artist to generate an album full of good songs compared to a compilation, which amounts to a "greatest hits" album (which I don't rate, along with live albums--I give an overall rating to albums containing only original material, which technically many soundtracks do). So, in other words, given the choice between listening to Hair or Houses of the Holy,for example, I'd choose the latter every time, even though they have the same rating (that is, until I got sick of listening to it!). What I mean to say is it would be my first choice.

Mark

In reply to an earlier post on May 15, 2012 12:09:49 PM PDT
Mark F. says:
Uncle Jack,

Thanks for your post of 3.9. I think Ed deftly answered your criticism of the list, but I'll add that we're not confusing songs and albums. While we *do* rate songs here individually, we also give the album an overall rating. In that regard, Ed does a better job of it than I do, because my overall rating system is tied to the rating of each individual song, and the rating is derived by adding up all the points gained from the songs I like and then subtracting points for the ones I don't like. Ed's rating comes more from his evaluation of the album as a whole, and in that sense is a better album rating system than mine. But, my system works for me, since I don't focus on albums conceptually as closely as others do. Where I do think the album is better than what the objective total came out to be, I note that in the REVIEW section. Thanks, and I hope you'll stay with us--feel free to contribute your own ratings of any of the albums that appear on this list.

Up next, one I'm totally unfamiliar with (outside of possibly the first track), all the way up at #89.

89. Radiohead--Kid A (2000: #1) (0)

FAMILIARITY: 0/10

1. Everything in Its Right Place (?) (3+)
2. Kid A (?) (3)
3. The National Anthem (?) (3+)
4. How to Disappear Completely (?) (3)
5. Treefingers (?) (3)
6. Optimistic (?) (3)
7. In Limbo (?) (3)
8. Idioteque (?) (3)
9. Morning Bell (?) (3)
10. Motion Picture Soundtrack (?) (3)
11. Untitled (?) (3)

REVIEW: Well, I'm not sure how this one totally escaped me, though I have heard of it, but it did. And my first listen didn't generate any immediate interest, so for now this one gets a 0.

Mark

In reply to an earlier post on May 15, 2012 8:38:44 PM PDT
Mark F. says:
Ed,

Thanks for your White Stripes review of 3.10. By the way, I hope you've had a chance to listen to Jack White's new album, Blunderbuss. I think you'll like it.

Up next, a live album, so no overall rating.

88. Talking Heads--Stop Making Sense (1984: #41, double platinum) (N/R)

1. Psycho Killer (7)
2. Swamp (9)
3. Slippery People (7+)
4. Burning Down the House (9)
5. Girlfriend Is Better (8)
6. Once in a Lifetime (8)
7. What a Day That Was (?) (3)
8. Life During Wartime (9+)
9. Take Me to the River (9+)

REVIEW: I have this one on vinyl somewhere, and it's one of my favorite live albums. In fact, were I to rate it, it would get a total of 15 rating points for a 10 and put it in third (though at least one other live album, Simon & Garfunkel's Central Park album, would also be higher--it had 28 points--so Stop Making Sense would be fourth). In other words, it's one of my favorite albums on this chart so far. I enjoy some of the reworked versions here more than the originals, which isn't usually the case for me. Their live versions of Life During Wartime and Take Me to the River, the latter bolstered by a backing chorus, are better than the originals, which are very good themselves. The production and sound is excellent, as is the choreography, if you've seen the movie that it's derived from (a live concert taping). I listened to the 1999 re-release, which includes 7 additional songs from the soundtrack, and I calculated that were I to rate that version it would come up with 22 total points, putting it in second behind the S&G album. In a way, since that release encompasses the totality of the movie, it's more representative as a soundtrack than the original 1984 release. Just a phenomenal, fun, exciting album--one I could listen to many times over and not get bored with it. No rating for Valerie's purposes (are you still with us, Valerie?), but if I did it would be a 10+. Kinda sounds like a line from the "world's most interesting man" commercials--I don't always drink beer, but when I do...:-)

Mark

In reply to an earlier post on May 16, 2012 2:37:26 PM PDT
Mark F. says:
Ed,

Thanks for your Little Feat review of 3.10.

87. Tom Petty--Wildflowers (1994) (1)

FAMILIARITY: 2/10

1. Wildflowers (?) (3)
2. You Don't Know How It Feels (7+)
3. Time to Move On (?) (3)
4. You Wreck Me (4)
5. It's Good to Be King (5)
6. Only a Broken Heart (?) (4)
7. Honey Bee (?) (4)
8. Don't Fade on Me (?) (3+)
9. Hard on Me (?) (3)
10. Cabin Down Below (?) (4)
11. To Find a Friend (?) (3)
12. A Higher Place (?) (4)
13. House in the Woods (?) (3)
14. Crawling Back to You (?) (4)
15. Wake Up Time (?) (4)

B-Side

16. Girl on LSD (?) (5)

REVIEW: Here's one that probably didn't get quite the level of attention commercially that it deserves, on first listen. Only one track became very popular, with a couple more receiving a lower level of attention. I like You Don't Know How It Feels and find the other two OK. But there's definitely a lot of potential here if I give it more listens. I'm shocked that this is only his second appearance on the list (Full Moon Fever was the other, and I gave that one a 6). However, there's another one coming up right on its heels at #86. A note about the final track: I added it to the review even though it didn't appear on the actual album, because, upon reading the Wikipedia entry about it, I learned that it had been recorded for the album but was deemed too controversial by the record company and removed (quite ridiculously, I think, given both its lightheartedness and the fact that he makes direct drug references on the album's biggest hit--and even that reference has been removed by radio stations in recent years--it now says "hit another joint" instead of "roll"--as if that changes anything, since "hit" is just as applicable to joint use!). Anyway, this is ground tread by Ringo Starr in the No-No Song some 20 years earlier. OK, he didn't sing about crystal meth or have LSD in the title of that one, but still...he did reference coke, and if it was safe for radio then in 1975, why not 20 years later (and who says it would have received airplay anyway?)? At any rate, it was silly for the company to remove it and then add it to the B-side of the "You Don't Know How It Feels" single, so I'm giving it its due here. The album gets a 1 overall, with a good chance to rise.

Mark

In reply to an earlier post on May 17, 2012 12:35:58 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 22, 2012 3:21:48 PM PDT
Mark F. says:
Ed,

Thanks for your 10,000 Maniacs review of 3.10.

Up next, another one from my vinyl vault.

86. Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers--Damn the Torpedoes (1979; #2) (4)

FAMILIARITY: 4/10

1. Refugee (6+)
2. Here Comes My Girl (8)
3. Even the Losers (3)
4. Shadow of a Doubt (A Complex Kid) (?) (3)
5. Century City (?) (4+)
6. Don't Do Me Like That (9)
7. You Tell Me (?) (4+) (didn't know it, but now I think I know where Sheryl Crow was influenced on My Favorite Mistake)
8. What Are You Doin' in My Life? (?) (3)
9. Louisiana Rain (?) (3+)

REVIEW: This is Petty in his prime, sounding a bit like Dylan and a bit like the Boss, while cranking out the hits that appealed to a mainstream audience. I give it a 4 for now, with some definite room for advancement if I listen to the five tunes I don't know here.

Mark

In reply to an earlier post on May 18, 2012 11:24:34 AM PDT
Mark F. says:
Ed,

Thanks for your Bruce Springsteen review of 3.10.

I can't recall whether this is the first time this has happened, but the same artist is next on the list.

85. Bruce Springsteen--Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J. (1973) (1)

FAMILIARITY: 4/10

1. Blinded By the Light (6)
2. Growing Up (4)
3. Mary Queen of Arkansas (?) (4)
4. Does This Bus Stop at 82nd Street? (?) (3)
5. Lost in the Flood (?) (4)
6. The Angel (?) (3)
7. For You (3)
8. Spirits in the Night (10)
9. It's Hard to Be a Saint in the City (?) (3)

REVIEW: Here's a perfect example of the deficiency of my rating system, because the number I give it will make it look like I hate it when I really don't. There ARE a couple of songs I don't care for, which knocks it down a couple of points, and there's only one song I think is really terrific (Spirit in the Night; I actually prefer Manfred Mann's cover of Blinded By the Light). But this an album of lyrical genius--to think that the Boss was 23 when he wrote them is mind-boggling. They display the worldliness of a much older writer; Dylan DID outdo him, cranking out lyrically complex tunes at age 20, but still...Springsteen wasn't far behind. This is one I've given short shrift to over the years, though I know nearly half of it. I need to give it many more spins before coming to grips with it and better understanding it. Surprisingly, the Wiki page entry for this album is sparse--I would have thought his legion of devotees would have produced more for his debut effort than what's given there. I didn't become aware of Springsteen until a couple of years later, when Born to Run was released. My first memory of *that* album was hearing the title song blast through my little portable radio one October night in 1975 while shooting baskets in one kind neighbor's driveway (the mom would always turn on the floodlight for me so I could shoot to my heart's content--if her son was around, or any of the neighbor kids, we'd play too). I looked up to the harvest moon and thought, "wow, this is different!" Anyway, his debut album sadly gets a 1, but with a chance to rise a lot.

Mark

In reply to an earlier post on May 18, 2012 1:33:50 PM PDT
Mark F. says:
Ed,

Thanks for your Smashing Pumpkins review of 3.10.

84. REM--Life's Rich Pageant (1986; #21, Gold) (1)

FAMILIARITY: 2/10

1. Begin the Begin (?) (3)
2. These Days (?) (3)
3. Fall on Me (7+)
4. Cuyahoga (?) (4)
5. Hyena (?) (3)
6. Underneath the Bunker (?) (3)
7. The Flowers of Guatemala (?) (3)
8. I Believe (?) (3)
9. What If We Give It Away? (?) (3)
10. Just a Touch (?) (3)
11. Swan Swan H (?) (3)
12. Superman (3)

REVIEW: This one surprisingly slipped under the radar (commercially; certainly not by these listeners, who ranked it very highly), given that it came out near the height of their popularity (although it charted slightly higher than its three predecessors, and the next two would chart higher before Out of Time, their 7th release, broke through to #1). They would go on to release 8 more albums before calling it quits earlier this year, and every one charted in the top 20 (this one made it to #21). In fact, all 15 of their studio albums made the top 40 on the Billboard Album chart, with the lowest being their debut, Murmur, at #36. Quite an accomplishment. Only two songs from this album received any mainstream attention at all, and I only like Fall on Me. The rest seems somewhat mundane. This is their 7th appearance on this list, but my lowest-rated (Reckoning--3; Monster--5; Document--2; Green--5; Out of Time--2; Fables of the Reconstruction--3). This one gets a 1.

Mark

In reply to an earlier post on May 19, 2012 3:00:33 PM PDT
Mark F. says:
Ed,

Thanks for your Joe Jackson review of 3.10.

Up next, another from my vinyl collection.

83. The Police--Synchronicity (1983; #1) (5)

FAMILIARITY: 8/10

1. Synchronicity I (8)
2. Walking in Your Footsteps (3)
3. O My God (3)
4. Mother (2)
5. Miss Gradenko (?) (3)
6. Synchronicity II (9)
7. Every Breath You Take (9)
8. King of Pain (3)
9. Wrapped Around Your Finger (9+)
10. Tea in the Sahara (?) (3)

CD/Cassette Edition

11. Murder By Numbers (7)

REVIEW: This album is a favorite, despite a few tracks I'm not fond of. It's one of the more familiar albums on the list so far, and even with four tracks deducting points from the overall rating, it still gets a pretty solid 5, owing to the presence of four sterling tracks, two of which are by-now standards--Wrapped Around Your Finger, Every Breath You Take--as well as the two title track versions. Murder By Numbers did not appear on the album but was released on the cassette and CD versions, so I included it here. This is their 5th appearance here, but I've ranked two higher--Outlandos d'Amour and Zenyatta Mondatta, which both got a 6. But this is a strong 5.

Mark

Posted on May 19, 2012 10:22:35 PM PDT
E. Dill says:
#160 TEXAS FLOOD - STEVIE RAY VAUGHAN

1. Love Struck Baby (9)
2. Pride and Joy (10)
3. Texas Flood (10)
4. Tell Me (9)
5. Testify (9)
6. Rude Mood (9)
7. Mary Had a Little Lamb (9)
8. Dirty Pool (9)
9. I'm Cryin (10)
10. Lenny (9)

(BONUS - NOT ON MY ORIGINAL RECORD)
11. SRV Speaks
12. Tin Pan Alley
13. Testify
14. Mary Had a Little Lamb
15. Wham

OVERALL RATING: 9

DISCUSSION: I like Stevie's playing but sometimes his vocals sound a bit generic and not particularly strong. A very listenable album overall.

In reply to an earlier post on May 19, 2012 10:42:37 PM PDT
THE RANDY . says:
respectfully must advise you to seek out good music.

Posted on May 19, 2012 11:07:44 PM PDT
E. Dill says:
#159 SIMON & GARFUNKEL - SOUNDS OF SILENCE

1. Sounds of Silence (9)
2. Leaves That are Green (7)
3. Blessed (9)....love the guitar....the song is ok
4. Kathy's Song (8)
5. Somewhere They Can't Find Me (7)
6. Anji (8)
7. Richard Cory (8).....I liked it better as a poem
8. A Most Peculiar Man (7)
9. April Come She Will (8)...
10. We've Got a Groovey Thing Goin (7)
11. I Am a Rock (9)

OVERALL RATING: 8

DISCUSSION: This sounds like a "first album" and frankly, while the harmonies allowed me to rate this, overall, as an album that is "listenable without reservation", because three of the songs I don't like THAT much and another 4 are borderline, saved by either provocative lyrics or nice harmonies. I think the added instrumentation worked best on the two "hits". Yeah, I probably AM being swayed to make this an "8" instead of one of my rare "7"s because I KNOW what talent the duo HAD.....they just didn't show it as much here. Back in the old days, I would have felt that SOS was a better song than IAAR which sounds a bit anthemic....but now I think I like the latter song a bit more. Again, those two hits are surely the best of the bunch here.

Posted on May 19, 2012 11:37:21 PM PDT
E. Dill says:
#158 DIRE STRAITS - MAKING MOVIES

1. Tunnel of Love (10)
2. Romeo & Juliet (8)
3. Skateaway (8)
4. Expresso Love (9)
5. Hand in Hand (8)
6. Solid Rock (9)
7. Les Boys (9)

OVERALL RATING: 9

DISCUSSION: Takinig into consideration that my ratings tend to be higher, I must say that, song to song, I remembered this one ever better than it sounded to me in the here and now. I love Mark's voice AND his guitar work but on some of these songs, even one that is often thought of as one of the best here, Romeo and Juliet, I couldn't ever embrace the melody. I'm sure there was one there. On the other hand, I found "throw away" songs like Expresso Love and Les Boys more listenable. The allmusic.com critic thought Les Boys was borderline offensive but I'm not sure to whom. Gays? Nazi's? Gay nazi's who like S&M? (Did he remember that the beloved Ramones used to wear swastika's on their clothing? Was it cool for them but offensive for Dire Straits?

Anyway, I expected a slew of 10s here but still a nice listen.

ed.

In reply to an earlier post on May 20, 2012 11:17:46 AM PDT
E. Dill says:
THE RANDY:

Wow! Since you answered Mark's FIRST post here, a review of the last album on the list of "Best 897 albums", #897, you'd think you wouldn't judge the absence of so called "good music" until you looked further here. Regardless of your own particular definition of "good music", if you couldn't find a lot of it among the other 896 albums listed by the radio station 89.7fm, you'd probably have a hearing problem or not like rock music at all.

I'm guessing that both Mark and I, the two mainstays of this experiment, i.e., to give our own opinions of the 897 best albums based on a consensus of the listeners own preferences, will find some of our own favorites not on this list. But, then again, I'm sure many of them are on here and will be reviewed by us by the time we get to #1. Since Mark and I have devised our own personal meaning of the ratings 1-10, my ratings seem overly inflated and Mark's seem much more critical. It has as much to do with how we both treat songs/albums we hadn't heard before as anything else.

BTW, that first one, "Hair" was in no way indicative of the nature of most of the albums reviewed here. I'd guess that among the entire 897 albums listed, only a few soundtrack albums made the list, i.e., Hair, Saturday Night Fever, Jesus Christ Superstar and, perhaps, a few others.

Respectfully,

Ed.

Posted on May 20, 2012 11:28:08 AM PDT
E. Dill says:
#157. PATTI SMITH - HORSES

1. Gloria (10)
2. Redondo Beach (10)
3. Birdland (10)
4. Free Money (10)
5. Kimberly (10)
6. Break it Up (10)
7. Land: Horses/Land of 1000 Dances/La Mer (10)
8. Elegie (10)

OVERALL RATING : 10 WITH A BULLET

DISCUSSION: For all of the songs and albums I've heard and bought and played over and over again, there are few I remember hearing and buying as clearly as this one. No, I don't remember the date but I do remember hearing a song, probably Gloria, on the radio and going shopping for it the same day. I remember seeing Patti's picture on the cover , appealing but adrogynous as hell. That seemed to go with a few of her songs on the album including "Gloria" and "Redondo Beach" about a lesbian lover committing suicide after a fight they'd had. (Later, I discovered she'd become friends and lovers with Robert Mapplethorpe, art student and future photographer who spent most of his life as a homosexual. She also began working with Sam Sheppard on his plays in the Village and they became lovers. She met a fellow bookstore clerk in Grenwich Village too, Lenny Kaye, who had written a magazine article on doo wop that she liked and they became friends and she invited him to play guitar at one of her poetry readings. Ultimately she beat out the Ramones as the first of the early CBGB's punks/new wavers to sign a contract with a label and release an album, Horses, in 1975. was revelatory. What was it really? It was poetry set to simplistic rock n roll, the 3 chord variety. The singer had an untrained voice and a punkish manner at times. The songs were often more like poetry than song lyrics....a bit Dylanesque. Smith and Television (Tom Verlaine), e.g., were considered part of the early "punk" scene, yet Smith WAS a poet and Verlaine did songs with long, expansive guitar solos, NOT normally part of the punk sound. So maybe the Stooges first album was closer to the first punk album than Horses. Or, perhaps something by Little Richard.

The opening of Gloria HAD me! "Jesus died for somebody's sins but not mine...". Wow! Actually, the song goes on a bit before she ever gets to the Van Morrison/Gloria part....EVERY SONG here is mesmerizing to me, whether it be the song itself, the instrumentation and/or Patti's voice. And listening today, with all of the stuff I've heard since, it remains a favorite amongst favorites.....surely in MY Top 20 or better.

Posted on May 20, 2012 12:14:21 PM PDT
E. Dill says:
#156 WILCO - BEING THERE

1. Misunderstood (10)
2. Far, Far Away (10)
3. Monday (9)
4. Outtasite (10)
5. Forget the Flowers (10)
6. Red Eyed and Blue (10)
7. I Got You (At the End of the Century) (10)
8. What's the World Got in Store (10)
9. Hotel Arizona (10)
10. Say You Miss Me (10)

1. Sunken Treasure (10)
2. Someday Soon (9)
3. Outta Mind (10)
4. Someone Else's Song (10)
5. Kingpin (10)
6. (Was I) In Your Dreams (10)
7. Why Would You Wanna Leave (10)
8. The Lonely 1 (10)
9. Dreamer in My Dreams (10)

OVERALL RATING: 10

DISCUSSION: Ah, Wilco. Ah, Uncle Tupelo. And, yes, ah, Son Volt, too. In some ways, Uncle Tupelo is considered the beginning of so called 'alternative country". They seemed to mix traditional country with punk. There is a story, one I've actually forgotten the details to, relating to UT's first album, No Depression, named after their cover of the old Carter Family classic. That album/song led to some internet boards which began referring to UT's version of country roots rock music as "no depression" and a genre/magazine was born. And we wound up with some separate and sometimes equal genre names like alt-country, americana, roots music and no depression. The magazine, No Depression became, from their outset, one of my favorite music magazines of all time. It was so influential to me that it was probably the only magazine I ever subscribed to or read regularly that I gave as much attention to the music ads as I did the articles. I can't begin to guess at how many great alt-country bands/artists I "discovered" reading an ad about their latest album.

When UT split up, I was saddened but quickly satisfied with one of their "offshoot" bands, Son Volt with Jay Farrah on lead vocal. At the time, I was much more into Jay's voice than Tweedy's, the other main vocalist/songwriter from their UT days. But, soon after, I became as taken by Tweedy's voice and songs as Jay's. (I also came to realize that my love of Richard Buckner's music (not exactly a household name) was his similarity in sound to Jay's.) But, again, I soon became as much a fan of Tweedy's band, Wilco, as Jay's. This, their second after A.M. was a 19 song treat. Yes, they did begin to expand their sound beyond their intial alt-country roots. But, for me, it worked and much of it was due to my appreciation of Jeff's voice who I've finally decided reminds me of an American version of Ray Davies.

Typically, for me, I've wound up rating all but 2 of the 19 as 10s. Instead of feeling sheepish about my overrating, I'm wondering if I was too tough on those other 2. This IS a wonderful album for me and whether it's trad. country, alt country, or some version of pop/rock, it all works quite nicely for me.

A great album from a great group

Posted on May 20, 2012 3:47:57 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 20, 2012 3:50:21 PM PDT
E. Dill says:
#154 RAMONES - ST

1. Blitzkreig Bop (10)
2. Beat on the Brat (10)
3. Judy is a Punk (10)
4. I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend (10)
5. Chain Saw (10)
6. Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue (10)
7. I Don't Wanna Go Down To the Basement (10)
8. Loudmouth (10)
9. Havana Affair (10)
10. Listen to My Heart (10)
11. 53rd and 3rd (10)
12. Let's Dance (10)
13. I Don't Wanna Walk Around With You (10)
14. Today Your Love, Tommorrow the World (10)

OVERALL: 10

DISCUSSION: ALL 10's for this piece of mindless fluff? You betcha. Allmusic, who seems to love it too, refers to it thusly....

"The Ramones is all about speed, hooks, stupidity, and simplicity. The songs are imaginative reductions of early rock & roll, girl group pop, and surf rock. Not only is the music boiled down to its essentials, but the Ramones offer a twisted, comical take on pop culture with their lyrics, whether it's the horror schlock of "I Don't Wanna Go Down to the Basement," the gleeful violence of "Beat on the Brat," or the maniacal stupidity of "Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue"......

I remember one of the critic/fan's of the Ramones referring to their music as "bubblegum punk". And I thought "pop punk" was controversial. But with those "1-2-3-4" countoffs and their less than snotty sounding vocals, there is a bit of bubblegum bounce to their music.

I remember watching a dvd I have about the history of punk. They were talking about the early punk days at CBGB's and a musician of some note said he's seen the Ramones there during their first time out....he HATED their music and left before their gig ended. The fact is, he couldn't forget what he'd seen/heard and kept coming back to see them again. Needless to say, he "got it" and became a fan. The fact is, the Ramones kind of emulated the early rock n roll of the 50's and 60's but tended to play faster. And, the lyrics were usually more in the vein of 96 Tears and Louie Louie than a lot of the black 50s music.

For anyone who still wants to believe that punk began in the UK, listen closely to this one AND Patti Smith's among others. Hell, go back further and listen to The Stooges, MC5, NY Dolls, Suicide, etc. What WAS seemingly different with the punk scene in England was how quickly it became a culture unto itself. It also was more political there, even though the punks themselves weren't necessarily political. But more of the stuff dealt with societal problems, i.e., the Sex Pistols, The Clash, etc.

I'm of the opinion that any song on this album is a blast. And, listening to it as a whole may, I'll admit, begin to sound like one 28 minute song.....but a really great one. Give it a listen and see what I mean.

ed

Posted on May 20, 2012 4:39:39 PM PDT
E. Dill says:
#155 WHITE STRIPES - ELEPHANT

1. Seven Nation Army (10)....killer
2. Black Math (10)
3. There's No Home For You Here (10)
4. I Just Don't Know What To Do With Myself (9)
5. In the Cold, Cold Night (10)
6. I Want to Be the Boy to Warm (10)
7. You've Got Her in Your Pocket (10)
8. Ball and Biscuit (10)
9. Hardest Button to Button (10)
10. Little Acorns (10)
11. Hypnotize (10)
12. The Air Near My Fingers (10)
13. Girl, You Have No Faith in Medicine (10)
14. Well It's True That we Love One Another (9)

OVERALL RATING: 10

DISCUSSION: One of the great bands of the period, along with Radiohead. Nuff said.
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