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The 897 Greatest Albums of All Time


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Posted on Jun 27, 2012 4:30:55 PM PDT
E. Dill says:
#113 U2 - THE UNFORGETTABLE FIRE

1. A Sort of Homecoming (10)
2. Pride (In the Name of Love) (10)
3. Wire (9)
4. The Unforgettable Fire (9)
5. Promenade (8)
6. 4th of July (8)
7. Bad (9)
8. Indian Summer Sky (8)
9. Elvis Presley & America (8)
10. MLK (8)

OVERALL RATING: 9

DISCUSSION: This may be a test of Mark's system which questions his ability to fully embrace an album at first listen. I mean, ok, I've owned this album for probably 25 years and I can't remember listening to it all in one sitting. I'm not sure why. I've always liked U2....liked Bono's ability to sing anthemic songs without irritating me like some do.....thought they wrote some great songs over the years. But, I'm guessing the album that got played the most of their's is War. Even Joshua Tree and Achtung Baby got shortchanged over the years. That's why I seldom say War is their best album. It's the most played. Sometimes what we play and don't play is not a conscious choice but a result of time and place.....and memory. This one is quite listenable and the most memorable thing about it, at this listening is not the songs or Bono's vocals.....it's the guitar. Maybe, like Mark, some of these will grow on me upon more listens. I'm sure it won't cause me to like them less.

Posted on Jun 27, 2012 6:56:37 PM PDT
Bontomasi says:
joe cocker - mad dogs & englishmen with leon russell, rita coolidge...a 2 day concert in nyc, possibly the fillmore east. this is before joe started wearing suits and singing ballads for movie soundtracks. this is rock n' blues joe. and with leon russell on piano? you can't go wrong. his back-up singers, many studio/backup singers, are called the asylum choir. ah, bonnie bramlett (delany and bonnie) is a rafter shakin' blue-eyed soul phenom, probably the most identifiable voice in the choir. she came in thru the bathroom window, like a bird on a wire, delta lady, drown in my own tears, let's go get stoned and more - my favorite being space captain....once while travelling across the sky, a lovely planet caught my eye...

Posted on Jun 27, 2012 7:32:06 PM PDT
I have campaigned for Leon Russell to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for years. He fit all the criteria and was such an integral part of the Mad Dogs and Englishman era. Thankfully, thanks to Elton John, he was finally given his place among the greats where he belongs.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 28, 2012 5:37:01 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 28, 2012 5:39:45 AM PDT
Timot-Rex says:
Hello Ed,
*That's why I seldom say War is their best album. It's the most played.*
Interesting you should say this Ed. I was thinking along these lines last week when I was considering what to post at the "Define your Taste in Music in 5 Albums" thread. There are those monumental recordings that become something like touchstones for many people. Then there are the recordings we listen to more often. A personal example for me is My Bloody Valentine's "Loveless" and the OTHER CD I purchased at the very same time, Teenage Fanclub's "Bandwagonesque." Surely it is Loveless that is on the pedestal here and rightly so. It was a gorgeous achievement and a huge breakthrough for Kevin Shields. Bandwagonesque, on the other hand, is not very original and is slavishly derivative of Big Star style power pop. By comparison to Loveless it is light-weight. But it's also heart felt and it rocks.

So which one have I spent more time with over the years? Bandwagonesque of course. While Loveless IS in fact something I find extraordinarily beautiful it is also more demanding of my attention and intellect. Sometimes you don't want to watch Citizen Kane but rather, I don't know, Stripes. Sometimes you don't want to discuss weighty items like "free will versus determinism" or politics or impending environmental doom but would rather chat about the Cincinnati Reds pitching.

I return to Loveless when the mood strikes and I have time to let myself be immersed in it. But I can't sing along with it half-mindlessly while I drive like I can with Bandwagonesque.

BTW #1 I wonder if I am alone here when I say that I do most of my music listening during the work commute?

BTW #2: I am surprised how few times people listed Nirvana's Nevermind in the "Define you taste in Music in 5 albums" thread. While I never really warmed up to it (I don't need the sort of cathartic emotional release it offers) I thought it was supposed to be one of the most important records of the pre-millenium.

Posted on Jun 28, 2012 7:13:05 AM PDT
E. Dill says:
@Timot-Rex:

Loved your post.

Often music is, at least for me, a mood thing. It can relate to the simplicity/complexity of it, the demand it places on my attention, the mood the music itself creates and whether I want to go there, etc. And as albums go, it doesn even have to be embraced because of a hit or two. I'm sure with U2's War, it was. I loved "New Years Day" and "Sunday Bloody Sunday" and in playing those two songs, began to embrace the album. But I did the same thing with David Ackles "American Gothic" with the title song and that one sold about 20 copies worldwide. Some albums/songs do have an emotional component to them.....for me, that is. A few of Joni Mitchell's songs, like "Lesson in Survival". Or Laura Nyro "You Don't Love Me When I Cry" or PJ Harvey's "England".

I mentioned, when we got on the albums of 1976 (someone had mentioned their love of Andy Pratt's Resolution) and I suggested that The Ramones self titled album might be my favorite AND my choice as "the best" of that year. (I was trying to understand why many people will answer "their favorite" and "the best" of a given year differently. I'm assuming "the best" conjures up elements of artistic merit and they/I begin getting analytical). Why The Ramones? Maybe it partly IS it's accessibility...and sheer fun. Surely easier to deal with than Eno's Another Green World or Bowie's Station to Station or even Patti Smith's Radio Ethiopia (why do I ALWAYS go to Horses when I think of Patti?), etc.

I love MBV's Loveless but I also seldom play it. But I could say that about a lot of albums. So what does it mean when I exhault an album as one of the best ever and seldom play it? Is it because the music is in my head already or is it because I like the idea of liking it. I do know that I like the fact that it's there, ready for me to play whenever I want it or "need it".

I don't listen to music on the way to work because I retired 11 years ago. Ok, now I must say what I always say. I'm thinking of going back to work, at least part time. Frankly, what with our economy, my annuity is not what it used to be. I'm trying to think of what the price of gas was a gallon when I retired in 2001. $1.50/gal. or am I exaggerating. That and the price of utilities, food, etc. and my piddly "cost of living" increases (which we sometimes don't get at all) don't come near keeping up with inflation. Now, I listen mostly on my computer with headphones. Some of the music I love makes me nervous when I drive. Especially noise rock....the real jumpy stuff like James White & the Blacks or some of John Zorn's jazz. I once was traveling to Chicago with OSHA and I decided to make the trip a Joni Mitchell extravganza. I had every album she'd made on tape. I got to Toledo and thought if I heard one more song of her's I was going to kill myself. A complete overload and one that came entirely unexpected. But I'm sure the same thing would have happened trying to play my collection of Captain Beefheart.

I WAS taken in by "Smells Like Teen Spirit". I heard it one day on the tube and it shook me. I can't remember exactly what I was listening to in those days but it sounded quite fresh to me and it exhilerated me....as if a new version of an old spirit had been rediscovered and embraced by the young. I'm not sure how I got all of that from hearing that song the first time but I did. Because of that initial feeling, I still have a special feeling for the song and the album.

Frankly, of all the topics I've seen on these boards in the past months, the 5 albums that most influenced you was one of the most thought provoking to me. As a matter of fact, I said so early on and then decided I wasn't ready to make MY list. (I got a lot of negative votes for it). Then I finally DID make my list and someone challenged my list because I dared explain it. I probably gave it too much thought but it was clear that the most influential albums may NOT be one's favorites. E.g. my hearing Thelonious Monk at a very early age (10?) made me interested in off-kilter rhythms, the use of silence for tension building, dissonance (Monk sounds as if he's playing "in the cracks"), etc. The Band's way of having voices go in and out of a song is something that, for some odd reason, I find appealing. It gives the song a sense of spotaneity. Answering the question (of the 5 albums) made me analyze my listening experiences for the past 65 years, something these boards seldom do.

ed

Posted on Jun 28, 2012 8:01:05 PM PDT
E. Dill says:
#123 RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS - BLOOD SUGAR SEX MAGIC

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

OVERALL RATING: 8

DISCUSSION: My mathematical formula (averaging) saved the band with an 8 but I'm not so sure it's deserving. After all, 8 to me is the lowest rating that still says "listenable without reservation" and frankly I HAVE reservations about this album. I never remember hearing funk sound so unappetizing to me. I mean, even those funk bands of the 70's who were James Brown wannabe's sounded better then these guys do to me in the here and now. I just don't remember them being so unappealing to me. What made them so popular? Was it the funky sound or their sometimes outrageous behavior on stage. (Weren't they the band whose member covered HIS member with a sock on stage? Maybe that's what gave them their popularity.) If truth be told, this music has a lot more to do with rock than anything Billy Joel ever did but I last gave Joel a "5" and this an "8"? Do I really think this band is 3 notches BETTER than Joel's. Wow. That's how bad it's become. I'm comparing RHCP to Billy Joel.

Posted on Jun 28, 2012 8:24:55 PM PDT
E. Dill says:
#126 JOHNNY CASH - AT FOLSOM PRISON

1. Folsom Prison Blues (10)
2. Busted (9)
3. Dark as the Dungeon (10)
4. I Still Miss Someone (10)
5. Cocaine Blues (9)
6. 25 Minutes to Go (8)
7. Orange Blossom Special (9)
8. The Long Black Veil (10)
9. Send a Picture of Mother (9)
10. The Wall (10)
11. Dirty Old Egg Sucking Dog (8)
12. Flushed From the Bathroom of Your Heart (10)
13. Joe Bean (9)
14. Jackson (10)
15. Give My Love to Rose (10)
16. I Got Stripes (9)
17. The Legend of of John Henry's Hammer (8)
18. Green, Green Grass of Home (9)
19. Greystone Chapel (9)

OVERALL RATING: 9

DISCUSSION: This is a legendary performance, live at Folsom Prison. I'm guessing that a lot of the love of this album is both the performance of John and the venue. I mean, by Track 19, there IS a certain sameness to the general sound of the songs, as classic as many of them are. I love John's voice and some of the interplay with the audience but it doesn't quite make it to the top for me. There are other studio albums he made that reach a bit higher with me.

Posted on Jun 29, 2012 12:24:07 AM PDT
E. Dill says:
Here's one I skipped some months ago and finally decided to do....

#449. JOHNNY CASH - MAN IN BLACK

1. The Preacher Said, "Jesus Said" (8)
2. Orphan of the Road (8)
3. You've Got a New Light Shining in Your Eyes (9)
4. If Not For Love (8)
5. Man in Black (8)
6. Singin' in Vietnam Talkin' Blues (7)
7. Ned Kelly (8)
8. Look for Me (9)
9. Dear Mrs. (8)
10. I Talk to Jesus Every Day (9)

OVERALL RATING: 8

DISCUSSION: The songs here, all written by Cash himself, are ok but not as listenable as on some of his other albums. Still, Johnny is Johnny and the voice is one of a kind. A good album

Posted on Jun 29, 2012 12:37:58 AM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Jun 29, 2012 7:27:20 AM PDT]

Posted on Jun 29, 2012 9:18:23 AM PDT
E. Dill says:
E. Dill says:
My latest update from the original Aug 15th post:

(Page 16) #897-881 10s (6); 9s (4); 8s (6); 7s (1)
WINNER: Freak Out (the album had a tremendous effect on me and my musical tastes)
LOSER: Hair (I tried to alter my musical senses to it being part of a musical play; the fact is, I was a bit irritated by the fact that the music could have better embraced the hippie 60's, musically as well as lyrically
BIGGEST SURPRISE: Talk Talk/Laughing Stock (Wow!)

(Page 15) #880-#821 10s (20); 9s (19); 8s (9); 7s (6); 6s (6)
WINNER: Blood, Sweat & Tears - Child is the Father To the Man....it probably wouldn't be the highest in accumlative points based on song ratings, but the album is quite special to me. There are several close seconds like Randy Newman's Sail Away.
LOSER: No clear loser....maybe RHCP should get the honor for excess
BIGGEST SURPRISE: Mason Jennings (who?); Steve Winwood - I didn't remember disliking Arc of a Diver so much. I kept thinking of 16 year old Steve singing "I'm a Man" with Spencer Davis Group, 18 year old Steve singing about that "Paper Sun" with Traffic and his work with Blind Faith and it shrinks in significance. I also wound up liking Band of Gypsys more than I used to...

(Page 14) #820-761 - 10s (14); 9s (20); 8s (15); 7s (7); 6s (1); 5s (1); 4s (2)
WINNER: A tough one but I'll give it to Dylan (Another Side) over PJ (Rid of Me)
LOSER: As much as I tend to dislike Phish over the long haul, i.e., a complete record, I found Lennox's Medusa quite horrible. I was shocked.
BIGGEST SURPRISE: Lennox; Pearl Jam's Vs. not going higher than an "8"....

(Page 13) #760-701 10s (10); 9s (36); 8s (5); 7s (7); 6s (1); 5s (1)
WINNER: Give to to PJ this time (Stories),,,
LOSER: BS&T minus, mostly, Al Kooper. I guess it was only THAT bad when compared to "Father"
BIGGEST SURPRISE: The Gin Blossoms (New Miserable)

(Page 12) #700-641 10s (18); 9s (27); 8s (6); 7's (7); 6s (1); 5s (1)
WINNER: PJ - Dry.
LOSER: Bruce Hornsby - the Way it Is; even with his stellar fingering, he NEEDED a good song and he only had one REALLY good one, the title cut. The Muddy Blahs inched them out as "semi-losers"
BIGGEST SURPRISE: Adam Schmitt - World So Bright (who is he again?)

(Page 11) #640-582 10s (20); 9s (23); 8s (10; 7s (4); 6s (2)
.WINNER: Dylan/Love and Theft; one of the few albums by ANYONE that I kept playing over and over and over again when I first got it. Sly, Al Green, Minutemen and Jethro Tull and Talking Heads were hard to ignore.
LOSER: Sting (like Stevie with "Fingertips", Sting has NEVER made a song that gave me as much pleasure as "Roxanne". His solo work often bores me.
BIGGEST SURPRISE: Bowie's "Low". Look, I know I gave it a "9" but, as I recall, it was a "low 9". Ultimately, I expected it to sound better. Was I truly remembering it or remembering its critical praise? I still prefer early Bowie, with songs like "The Bewly Brothers".

(Page 10) #581-523 10s (24); 9s (26); 8s (3); 7s (5); 6s (1)
WINNER: Another toughie but Neil wins with his "ragged" "Ragged Glory". Neil is probably the only artist I can think of who can release an album like "Ragged Glory" and then one like "Harvest Moon" and no one wonders if he's going soft. (With "Weld" in between.) RG reminded me, if I ever need reminding, what I love that's raw about rock n roll. For some it's the power chords of heavy metal and for others it's screamo vocals that sound like something from a horror movie. The rawness of RnR is there in "Ragged Glory"
LOSER: Hall & Oates were never one of my favorites even at the top of their game although Darryl CAN sing. But this one, Abandoned Luncheonette,which I'd found in a bargain basement back when they were first getting known, is low on songs that interest me.
BIGGEST SURPRISE: My reaction to Gabriel's Us (a 10!); my reaction to The Carpenters (an 8!)....I'm always extolling her great, somewhat bittersweet voice but here, her brother's whimpy arrangements brought it down; Tool - Undertow (a 10!!) - wait a minute. I gave Undertow a "10" and "Space Oddity" a "9"....I my need to send in an investigatory team to decide if my hearing or sanity is still intact. Nanci Griffith - a 9!....I like her but have indicated that sometimes she ruins good songs and good performances by becoming a bit too cutesy with her vocal intonations. But not here!.....Donald Fagen/Nightfly, a 7!....I was a bit surprised that this didn't hold up better for me. I guess my memories were mostly centered around the "hit" (and the great video that accompanied it)....Tangerine Dream/Phaedra (a 10!)...just when I'd convinced myself that I had collected too many of their albums....of which a growing number seemed to straddle between prog and new age.....Zappa/One Size Fits All...9!!. I've been extolling his pre-1971 work and suggesting the stuff after that was ho-hum and I was certain this was one of the ho-humiest. It worked to my surprise!

(Page 9) #522-463 - 10s (20); 9s (28); 8s (7); 7s (3); 6s (2)
WINNER: Talking Heads - More Songs...I LOVE(D) it!...But close was Traffic, VU, CTA and those wildly influential Elvis Sun Sessions!
LOSER: Zappa/Sheik Yerbouti....I'm not certain if this is the nadir of his work but it must be close.
BIGGEST SURPRISE: Phish/Billy Breathes....LISTENABLE!....NWA...a 9! I MUST go through my rap ratings when this is over!....The Blue Nile (10)...frankly I hadn't remember it being THAT good!....Jesus Christ Superstar...when I finally got the right version to review, I enjoyed it much more than I'd have thought...a rousing (9).

(Page 8) #462-403 -10s (31); 9s (17); 8s (8); 7s (3)5s (1);

WINNER: Dylan - Time They are A-Changin....I played it in the car the other night while driving my daughter home from work (HER work) and began crying....I'm not sure she noticed in the dark...I said nothing. Since then, In Utereo and Mezzanine were in the running, too, with Roxy Music close behind. And then, Stankonia.
LOSER: The honors now go to Neil. Meatloaf, who I considered a possible contender for worst of this page, wound up a "7" to Neil's "5". Crack the Sky, who I'd never heard, wound up with a whopping "9"...far from the worst. It just proves that one man's "oversinging" is a lot worse than another's. Jack Johnson managed a "cold 8"....
SURPRISES....While I haven't noticed them much, I expected more from Coldplay. I was happily surprised by Death Cab for Cuties and Crack the Sky.

(Page 7) #402-#344: 10s (36); 9s (20); 8s (2) 6s (1)
WINNER: "Shoot Out the Lights" holds off the B-52's and some others.
LOSER: Sublime takes it with the worst of the lot....I only had two I rated "8" and the rest 9s and 10s. I had thought Brandi Carlile might be a low scorer since I had never heard of her....she got a 9 with issues.
SURPRISES: That I liked the Indigo Girls and Etheridge albums as much as I did.....and that I wasn't even MORE blown away by Lauryn Hill's album which had critics gushing from its initial release....

(Page 6 ) #343-284: 10s (34); 9s (16); 8s (6); 7s (1); 6s (3)
WINNER: EDIT: The Beatles - Hard Day's Night.... {Tough choice between Love, The Smiths and Devo. Give it to LOVE/FOREVER CHANGES} Yeah, that's what I said when I posted yesterday, having forgotten which VERSION of Hard Day's Night I'd reviewed. It was the English Version and I'll take that over the three I'd mentioned in the running. So, the BEATLES do win this one afterall.
LOSER: Tough choice again between, Barenaked Ladies, Billy Joel and the Moodys. Give it to the MUDDY BLAHS
SURPRISES: [The Beatles didn't win one] YES THEY DID...SEE ABOVE...34 albums were given a higher rating than Pearl, Learning to Crawl, Neon Bible and Green.

(Page 5 #283-224 10s (35) 9s (17) 8s (6) 7s (1) 6s (1)

WINNER: Unbelievable. Of the 35 albums on this page that I gave the highest rating, I brought it down to 14 or 15 as my favorite. I'll skip "Help" this go-around and give the "page honors" to X with that magical harmonies of John Doe and Exene Cervenka. So "X-Los Angeles wins.
LOSER: Jack Johnson - In Between Dreams.
SURPRISES: RHCP; Zappa (before I took on Apostrophe in detail, I'd mock it as being vastly overrated.)AC/DC (I knew I was coming around to them as hard rock/HM stalwarts but a "10"!)

(Page 4 #223-164 10s (40) 9s (16) 8s (2) 7s (1) 3s (1)
WINNER: Even more unbelievable than the last page. Ok, maybe not. Of the 40(!) I gave my highest rating to, the best of the best of this page has been brought down to 7 favorites....Rundgren/Something; King Crimson/Court; Gillian Welch/Time; Liz Phair/Exile; XTC/Skylarking; Flaming Lips/Soft Bulletin; Televison/Marquee Moon. This is a toughy. Emotionally, I was taken by Soft Bulletin but I'll give the prize to Todd. I simply think the album was chock full of songs that I can't get out of my mind. Brilliant!
LOSER: Clearly, Saturday Night Fever. Even judging it as a soundtrack album didn't help. Few songs are memorable in a good way.
SURPRISES: I actually liked Traffic's better now than I'd remembered before. Still not sure about my rating for TMBG/Flood.

Page 3 (462-403) 10s (39) 9s (13) 8s (4) 7s (1) 5s (2) 4s (1)
WINNER: Patti Smith - Horses (yes, there was stiff competition between Steely Dan, White Stripes, Pixies, Sonic Youth, Cream, MBV, JA, Cat Stevens, Bowie, etc. but Horses was one of those albums that I reacted to immediately. It WAS something quite unique and I still hear it that way today.
LOSER: Joel
SURPRISES: No biggies. The low ratings I gave (ok, MY low) were expected.

These were done by pages from the printouts I made of the entire list early in the process. I realize the winners and losers mean nothing since the pages are arbitary but I wanted to get a sense of whether, when it's over, I can even begin to come up with a Top Something or other.

Here's my ratings, so far:

10s (347); 9s (283); 8s (88); 7(47); 6(19); 5(5); 4(3); 3(1) ...i.e., #897-104.

Once I decided on a "meaning" to my numbers, I predicted I'd have more 9's, then 10's and less 8's and that most ratings would fall in that 10,9,8, category. Why? Because those numbers reflect albums that are listenable without serious reservations. I didn't expect many. These were NOT run of the mill albums, admittedly, subject to individual taste.. Again, this IS a list compiled by the listening audience of an east coast college radio station. Why would I assume that a LOT of their choices as the best albums EVER would be seriously lacking in listenability to me? I didn't assume it and I haven't found it to true to date, even considering the fact that we all have our own tastes. The fact is, it was partly predictable because some of my favorite genres of music seem often favored by college radio stations. Regardless of how many 10's I wind up with here, though, the fact is that I'm quite SURE that when and if I try to compile my OWN Top 897 using the stations list as a reference point, I'll probably wind up replacing at least 100-200 of THEIR choices over my own that didn't make the list at all. Some of those I'll probably drop may, in fact, wind up albums I rated here as "10"s." That possibility doesn't bother me or embarrass me at all. After all, there are 10's and there are 10's. The last time I checked, there were only two Zappa albums on the entire list. Of them, one would not come close to making my list (Apostrophe). Five or 6 others would surely make mine. (Wait, it was 3 including Hot Rats and Freak Out that made it.) Add to it some Beefheart albums and we're already talking about replacing 10-15 albums already.

So, of the 794 albums I've rated so far, 44% were given the highest rating (10) and a whopping 90% within my "listenable without reservation" (10,9,8). That doesn't surprise me THAT much once I kind of "high ended" my numbers so as to make MY 10 not so exclusive (like a perfect album....one of the best ever made). Also, again, these albums were not pulled out of a hat....they WERE from a collegiate listening audience and one that probably favored more of the music I tend to like than some I don't (more alternative and less rap/metal. ) I still think that someone looking at both my numbers AND my narrative will get a sense of what I liked about the album.

I wonder if I kept statistics on the 897 singles? I'd bet my numbers at the high end would have been much less, percentage wise. Why? Because with singles, I think the audience were more likely to embrace popular songs that I would find lacking, i.e., too pop in a bad way, too commercial in a bad way and too hooky in a bad way. Of course, my "bad way" is my own and so is everyone else's. So, if the audiences for both lists were essentially the same, they were much more prone to embrace pop commercial songs than they were albums.

On to Page 2, (#45-103). Other than the DMB and perhaps Michael Jackson, I don't see much to criticize there. I guess the bottom line has always been that I like a lot of albums and I'm not prone to think of exclusive clubs, i.e., a few "perfect albums" and the rest also rans....even if they are very good also rans. So my use and to most, overuse of the "perfect 10" rating will seem weird to some but not to me.

We shall see.

Posted on Jun 29, 2012 12:29:01 PM PDT
E. Dill says:
#103 PAVEMENT - CROOKED RAIN, CROOKED RAIN

1. Silence Kit (10)
2. Elevate Me Later (10)
3. Stop Beathing (10)
4. Cut Your Hair (10)
5. Newark Wilder (10)
6. Unfair (10)
7. Gold Soundz (10)
8. 5-4= Unity (10)
9. Range Life (10)
10. Heaven is a Truck (10)
11. Hit the Plane Down (10)
12. Fillmore Jive (10)

OVERALL RATING: 10

DISCUSSION: Lots of people who are in love with the 60's and tenuous in their sense of today's "good music" often say that the term "alternative rock" is a bogus term....one that really means nothing except, perhaps, a marketing gimmick. It means something to me because when I see it, I know there is a sensibility to the music that I will like. How much I will like it, of course, depends on the artists, their sense of melody, harmony, lyricism, rhythm.....the stuff that all music is made of. But even if the band does sell millions of records, it CAN be alternative. Alternative to overt commerciality. I'm not sure where the term began or who were some of the groups that first were described as such....maybe in the US REM would be one and in the UK, The Smiths. Ultimately, Nirvana was one too, even when they sold lots of records because they changed the notion that music not sounding commercial could BECOME commercial, thereby changing the course of music of the time. Of course, Nirvana had the tag "grunge" which was a bit more descriptive of a sound than "alternative" but Nirvana WAS 'alternative" even as a grunge band.

Pavement has certain characteristics that define at least a part of what is alternative to me....a signature sound somewhat akin to the UK's "The Fall" but with vocals that often sounded quite mellow compared to Mark E. Smith's. By Crooked Rain, however, the sound was a bit less "lo-fi" due to recording in an actual studio but with the same odd song structures, melodic vocals, etc. I love this album and it IS, for me, one of the best examples of what "alternative rock" means to me. (Yes, I could go back to bands like Velvet Underground, The Fall, The Mats and the Pixies too.).

Posted on Jun 29, 2012 12:55:44 PM PDT
E. Dill says:
#102 BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN - DARKNESS ON THE EDGE OF TOWN

1. Badlands (8)
2. Adam Raised the Cain (9)
3. Something in the Night (10)
4. Candy's Room (9)
5. Racing in the Street (10)
6. The Promised Land (9)
7. Factory (10)
8. Streets of Fire (10)
9. Prove it All Night (8)
10. Darkness on the Edge of Town (10)

OVERALL RATING: 9

DISCUSSION: I've always had mixed emotions about anthemic songs. I can name certain artists who sing them alot and have a better track record with me....U2, Todd Rundgren and, yes, Bruce. I think back to the first time I heard Born to Run. I didn't like it. Why? Because I thought Bruce's voice was too exagerated in an over-the-top, anthemic way. Later, I came to love the album, especially the anthemic "Born to Run". But whenever I try to indulge myself in several Sprinsteen albums, one after another,I'm hit with the same feeling. It's too much. I want to hear him sing a ballad.....less shouting, less group choruses...more piano and Bruce's voice without the shout. I'm guessing that MY preferences may seem a bit odd for one who likes Springsteen but I'd rather hear him as the sensitive rocker than as Meatloaf.

Posted on Jun 30, 2012 10:27:30 AM PDT
E. Dill says:
#100 ALLMAN BROTHERS - EAT A PEACH

1. Ain't Wasting Time No More (10)...love the mush mouth vocals and those guitar riffs
2. Les Brers in a Minor (9) very good but it doesn't quite hold together for 9+ minutes for me...Betts is wonderful, though!
3. Melissa (9)...again, love the guitar but the melody doesn't grab me
4. Mountain Jam (9)....33+ minutes worth....mostly works
5. One Way Out (10)
6. Trouble No More (9)
7. Stand Back (8)...a bit generic
8. Blue Sky (10) Love it! One of my favorite Allman songs, EVER
9. Little Martha (8) a nice instrumental

OVERALL RATING: 9

DISCUSSION: I love this album! Really I do. So, with all of my 10s, why not this one? And with one of my favorite Allman country influenced songs, Blue Sky? I have a lack of patience with most extended jams. Hell I think Les Brers is very good and Mountain Jam, too. But I seldom sit still for 33+ minutes worth. Maybe it's my flaw and not the music itself.

Posted on Jun 30, 2012 12:08:42 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 1, 2012 3:23:52 PM PDT
E. Dill says:
#99 JONI MITCHELL - COURT AND SPARK

1. Court and Spark (10)
2. Help Me (10)
3. Free Man in Paris (9)
4. People's Parties (10)
5. The Same Situation (10)
6. Car On a Hill (8) interesting structure but not a favorite....but still Joni
7. Down to You (10)
8. Just Like This Train (7)
9. Raised on Robbery (8)
10. Trouble Child (9)
11. Twisted (9)

OVERALL RATING: 9

DISCUSSION: I'd have guessed this one a sure 10. Why not? Because I'm not rating on great songs but album consistency. Maybe I've been wrong but there's no turning back. So, yes, this album has 4 or 5 of my favorite Joni Mitchell songs. It also has some upbeat ones who gave me trouble placing them in the "listenable with no reservations". I still did in all but one case because of Joni's voice/intonation, aspects of the instrumental arrangement, etc. But, overall, there were actually 3 or 4 songs here that I didn't even remember after decades of playing this album. Why? Because I learned to skip them. Should I have given them one of those 0-5's to indicate serious reservations. No. They only shrink to that level when compared to my enjoyment of the OTHER songs on this album. I'm guessing that For the Roses, Blue, Hissing of Sumer Lawns and Hejira will be duking it out for #1 Joni Mitchell album but not here. For the Roses didn't even make the Top 897!. I've already given Hejira (which gets a lot of support for the bass playing) and Hissing of Summer Lawns (which was NOT a favorite amongst most critics and Mitchell fans) 10s and would, probably, give For the Roses a 10 if it was here.

Still, all in all, Joni has made some of the best music anyone has made for me and when a song is up there in the 10 area, it usually is with the best of the best, i.e., a 10 amongst 10's.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 1, 2012 2:54:11 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 18, 2012 10:16:37 AM PDT
Mark F. says:
Ed,

Thanks for your R.E.M. review, Fables of the Reconstruction, on 4.20.12.

Up next, another live album as we enter the top 50. No overall rating for this one.

50. Little Feat--Waiting for Columbus (1978)

FAMILIARITY: 5/10

1. Join the Band (?) (3)
2. Fat Man in the Bathtub (9)
3. All That You Dream (7)
4. Oh Atlanta (9+)
5. Old Folks' Boogie (?) (4+)
6. Time Loves a Hero (3+)
7. Day or Night (?) (3)
8. Mercenary Territory (?) (2+)
9. Spanish Moon (?) (3+)
10. Dixie Chicken (9+)
11. Tripe Face Boogie (?) (3)
12. Rocket in My Pocket (?) (3)
13. Willin' (3+)
14. Don't Bogart That Joint (5)
15. A Apolitical Blues (?) (3+)
16. Sailin' Shoes (7+)
17. Feats Don't Fail Me Now (?) (3+)

REVIEW: We enter the top 50 with a good live album, though I'm quite surprised it ranked this high. IF I rated live albums, it would get a 7, but I don't so forget I said that. :-) I loved the version of Dixie Chicken here with the New Orleans brass band break and boogie-woogie piano--great stuff. I never realized a lot of it was recorded in this area and that a DJ who had been on the radio in these parts for many years up till very recently (and may still be out there somewhere), Cerph, introduces the band in a gig at Lisner Auditorium on the campus of George Washington U. --it was mentioned in the first paragraph of the album's entry at Wikipedia. Back when I was in college, I was serenaded to sleep with late-night playings of the first two songs of side 4 by some guys getting high in the next room, so those songs are burnished in my memory.

Mark

Posted on Jul 1, 2012 4:05:22 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 1, 2012 7:46:14 PM PDT
E. Dill says:
#98 LED ZEPPELIN - PHYSICAL GRAFFITI

1. Custard Pie (10)....love the rhythm/beat of the tune....it's enough
2. The Rover (9)..love the guitar in this but not the tune so much
3. In My Time of Dying (10)...
4. Houses of The Holy (10)....a rhythm thing
5. Trampled Under Foot (9)
6. Kashmir (10)...it's amazing how that opening riff carries the song thru 8-1/2 minutes of prog metal...I was skeptical at first
7. In the Light (10)...and more
8. Bron-Yr-Aur (10)
9. Down By the Seaside (10)
10. Ten Years Gone (10)
11. Night flight (8)
12. The Wanton Song (10)
13. Boogie With Stu (10)
14. Black Country Woman (9)
15. Sick Again (10)

OVERALL: 10

DISCUSSION: I was a really big fan of Zeppelin from the beginning and may still favor those first two albums over all of the others....we shall see. They were an important band in that they were the first that gave me license to embrace heavy metal (or are they hard rock?) without reservation. When Sabbath first arrived, I couldn't get into them. It took decades for me to reasses their music and learn to love it but in an entirely different way. Anyway, to show all metalheads just how skewed my sense of their music is, my signature HM song is Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Lovin"....maybe not my favorite Zeppelin song because that would probably be something like "Dazed and Confused".

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 1, 2012 8:03:10 PM PDT
Mark F. says:
Ed,

Thanks for your review of Paranoid by Black Sabbath on 4.20.

Up next, one I have on vinyl.

49. Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young--Deja Vu (1970; #1) (10)

FAMILIARITY: 7/10

1. Carry On (9)
2. Teach Your Children (9)
3. Almost Cut My Hair (2+)
4. Helpless (8+)
5. Woodstock (9)
6. Deja Vu (6+)
7. Our House (9)
8. 4 + 20 (?) (3)
9. Country Girl: A. Whiskey Boot Hill/B. Down, Down, Down/C. Country Girl (I Think You're Pretty) (?) (2)
10. Everybody I Love You (?) (2+)

REVIEW: This is a favorite that I think is deserving of its high place on this list. After the first seven tracks there's a letdown, but except for "Almost Cut My Hair," all of the first seven are good ones. "Our House" was one of my first favorite rock songs, and one of the first singles I bought (I didn't start collecting albums until the late '70s). That one introduced me to Deja Vu, as the flip side of the single. It seems so long ago now (and it was, relatively). But that established CSN&Y as one of my early favorites, and I've loved them ever since and have been fortunate enough to see them a couple of times (once without Stills and never with Young, but still...). Carry On is probably the best here artistically, followed by Deja Vu. Our House and Teach Your Children are simply constructed but beautifully executed. Helpless is a bit out of place as a purely Young song, but I still like it (didn't it appear on one of his solo albums as well?). And then there's their rave-up of Joni Mitchell's somber Woodstock, which also works well. Love the album--a perfect 10.

Mark

Posted on Jul 1, 2012 9:43:49 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 15, 2012 9:30:38 AM PDT
E. Dill says:
#97 STEVIE WONDER - INNERVISIONS

1. Too High (9)
2. Visions (8)
3. Living For the City (9)
4. Golden Lady (8)
5. Higher Ground (10)
6. Jesus Childen of America (7)
7. All In Love is Fair (8)
8. Don't You Worry Bout a Thing (7)
9. He's Misstra Know it All (6)

OVERALL: 8

DISCUSSION: I know, I know. Stevie! Steeevie! I mean, MY 8, based on past performance is like someone's mediocre, isn't it? Well, no, it's not supposed to be. It's supposed to still reflect an album that is listenable without any reservations of consequence. Now it gets tricky. I don't have a lot of love for this album. Everyone talks about Stevie's genius as a songwriter, instrumentalist, arranger and who knows what else. I don't hear it. What I hear is a young boy who created a great song with his harmonica playing and his voice sounding like a young Ray Charles might have sounded if we'd heard him at 13 and it was fine. But, along with Marvin Gaye, he had art on his mind and wanted to throw off the shackles of Motown's artistic interference and sing and play what his heart told him to. And, because of his success, he got artistic control. And what did we get? A black balladeer who sometimes gets down with his synthesizer and creates a bit of funk-lite. Hell, My Cherie Amour could have been written and sung by Johnny Mathis and NOT as a cover. I want that raw 13 year old back....scrap that damn synthesizer and give him back his harmonica. Geez.

Posted on Jul 3, 2012 4:54:14 AM PDT
E. Dill says:
#96 THE BAND - MUSIC FROM THE BIG PINK

1. Tears of Rage (10)
2. To Kingdom Come (10)
3. In a Station (10)
4. Caldonia Mission (10)
5. The Weight (10)
6. We Talk About it Now (10)
7. Long Black Veil (10)
8. Chest Fever (10)
9. Lonesome Susie (10)
10. This Wheel's On Fire (10)
11. I Shall Be Released (10)

OVERALL RATING: 10

DISCUSSION: There are a handful or two of albums that I can remember distinctly buying, listening to and listening to again and again and again. As I've indicated before, I am not usually prone to listen to anything over and over again in one sitting. But sometimes.....

I was stationed in Ft. Sill (Lawton) Ok, 1968. I remember hearing about the album and their link to Dylan and I got it. I was living off post, even though my wife was back in Korea after a rather hectic and unhappy stay in Cleveland, O. and my return to the Army and Thailand for a year before coming back stateside. I met a guy from Southern Ohio who was working in my personnel office (I WAS his supervisor) and offered to let him share the house I'd rented off post. (Technically, if you were unmarried, you lived in the barracks. When I made arrangement to live off post, they assumed my wife was with me there. They were wrong.) Anyway, the guy was probably as country as he was rock and he embraced the album immediately and so did I. I didn't know what the music should be called but I didn't care. Rock n roll, country-rock, roots rock......whatever. I can't remember playing a single album SO MANY TIMES in one day, week, month. I never thought I could do it without causing me to wind up hating it. But I didn't and I don't.

Two elements immediately drew me to the album. The instrumentation was perfect. The vocals had a certain spontenaity about them that was caused by the way secondary voices would come and go almost by feel instead of design. (I'm sure it wasn't true but the notion of it made the music more real and more exciting). I have no one favorite song on this album. I love them all. If I had to choose, I'd probably pick #11, #1, #3, #9, #7, #8......I know it's standard for people to favor "The Weight" and "This Wheel's On fire" but as much as I like those songs, I have a half dozen I like more. I was particularly taken by Richard Manuel's voice which sounded more like a cry. Long Black Veil was written by someone with a last name of Dill. It's a beauty....not their composition, but a classic nonetheless. This album has always been in contention for my all time Top 10 albums. We shall see. I wonder if my old border still likes it?

Posted on Jul 8, 2012 11:27:04 AM PDT
E. Dill says:
#95 BEASTIE BOYS - LICENSED TO ILL

1. Rhymin and Stealin (10)
2. The New Style (9)
3. She's Crafty (9)
4. Posse in Effect (10)
5. Slow Effect (10)
6. Girls (10)
7. Fight for your Right (10)
8. No Sleep Till Brooklyn (9)
9. Paul Revere (10)
10. Hold it Now, Hit It (10)
11. Brass Monkey (10)
12. Slow and Low (10)
13. Time to Get Ill (10)

OVERALL RATING: 10

DISCUSSION: I think this is a very tough album to review and rate.....not just for me but for anyone and everyone who lived thru it. Ok, hip hop/rap was never a favorite of mine. I'm still not sure what I think of it and what qualities I use to judge it. With these ratings, I'm not even sure if they represent "sound" as much as a moment in time. And with music, especially music you lived through IN that place in time, they are hard to separate. I'd bet that if I was somehow listening to this album today for the first time, I might accept it as "stupid fun" and give it a 7 or 8 for trying to play with the notion of some white punks doing their version of a rap thing over some creative production that meshes pop punk with rap. In some ways, I STILL think of it that way, but give it props for its influence. The raps are juvenile (lots of White Castle references) and sound a lot like some snotty kids having fun, When I first put this on again, I was initially taken by those qualities.....then it started sounding good again.....just like the first time I heard "Fight for Your Right"......I'm done with this. A "10" whatever it means. It surely isn't my favorite BB album and no where near my favorite rap/hip hop album. It just is and whatever it represents to me, it's fun...mindless, outrageous in its construct....and fun.

Ok, I had to think some more before pasting this one onto the Amazon board. I've already decided that, in trying to make order of my ratings, converting them into rankings, I'd be confronted with hundreds of 10s.....albums with the highest ratings. Would I rank according to the song rankings, i.e., which 10's had the most songs ranked 10? No. Would I ever rank a 9 album higher than a 10 album, not counting those times when I'd actually modify an album ranking because I was convinced it was too high or low? I'm guessing not. All 10 albums would be ranked higher than any 9 album. Then where does it leave BB's Licensed to Ill? Is it a better album than Court and Spark, Eat A Peach, This Year's Model, Imagine, etc? Now I'm stumped.

I'll let the 10 slide for now. I've already promised a separate rating review of all rated rap albums....and one on heavy metal/hard rock, too. They ARE my two hardest genres to rate. For now, the "BOYS" get a 10.

Posted on Jul 8, 2012 12:11:29 PM PDT
E. Dill says:
#94 TALKING HEADS - REMAIN IN LIGHT

1. Born Under Punches (The Heat Goes On) (10)
2. Crosseyed and Painless (10)
3. The Great Curve (10)
4. Once in A Lifetime (10)
5. Houses in Motion (10)
6. Seen and Not Seen (10)
7. Listening Wind (10)
8. The Overload (10)

OVERALL RATING: 10

DISCUSSION: I've mentioned this before but as one expands their collection, they can get a bit lazy. They buy an album, become enchanted with a song or two and forget about the album as a whole. This was one of those albums. For a time, I was enthralled with everything Talking Heads. I kind of skipped their first one and had to come back, never quite enough, and then embraced More Songs like no others of theirs since. It was ALWAYS the one I'd mention as my favorite album of theirs, not counting Stop Making Sense which acted as a retrospective. So when I came to this one now, I still thought of it as a very good album with a lot of songs I simply didn't remember much. Not like More Songs. Quite a surprise how many great songs here that I've given so little attention over the years. A great album!

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 9, 2012 9:20:41 PM PDT
Mark F. says:
Ed,

Thanks for your review of Yes's Fragile of 4.20.12.

Up next, one I brought home with me on my visit last week to my mom's house, where I found a stash of more albums, including quite a few from this list, hiding in a closet behind some things.

48. The Who--Tommy (1969; #4, 2x platinum) (10)

FAMILIARITY: 4/10

1. Overture (8)
2. It's a Boy (5+)
3. 1921 (4)
4. Amazing Journey (?) (3+)
5. Sparks (?) (5)
6. Eyesight to the Blind (The Hawker) (?) (3)
7. Christmas (5)
8. Cousin Kevin (?) (3)
9. Acid Queen (?) (3)
10. Underture (?) (7)
11. Do You Think It's Alright? (?) (3)
12. Fiddle About (?) (2)
13. Pinball Wizard (9)
14. There's a Doctor (?) (3)
15. Go to the Mirror! (7+)
16. Tommy Can You Hear Me? (7+)
17. Smash the Mirror (?) (3)
18. Sensation (?) (3)
19. Miracle Cure (?) (3)
20. Sally Simpson (?) (3)
21. I'm Free (9)
22. Welcome (?) (3)
23. Tommy's Holiday Camp (3+)
24. We're Not Gonna Take It (9+)

REVIEW: I remember hearing this for the first time in its entirety, more or less, at, appropriately, summer camp, probably in '72. The counselors loved to play it. It became a great summer soundtrack for me. As a pinball lover, the subject matter appealed to me as well. And of course, it was revolutionary as rock's first attempt (I think) at a structured operatic composition. It works well on all levels--musically it's fantastic; its themes are fleshed out evenly. This one becomes the third consecutive "10" I've awarded, not counting the unrated "Waiting For Columbus" at #50, and the 20th overall; it's also the fourth 10 in the last 5 rated albums. It gets 11 total points, putting it into a tie for 13th so far.

Mark

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 12, 2012 9:03:10 PM PDT
Mark F. says:
Ed,

Thanks for your review of They Might Be Giants' Flood of 4.20.

Up next, another one I found in a closet back home on my recent trip.

47. Neil Young--After the Gold Rush (1970; #8, 2x platinum) (4)

FAMILIARITY: 5/10

1. Tell Me Why (5)
2. After the Gold Rush (9)
3. Only Love Can Break Your Heart (9+)
4. Southern Man (9)
5. Till the Morning Comes (?) (3+)
6. Oh Lonesome Me (?) (3)
7. Don't Let It Bring You Down (4)
8. Birds (?) (3)
9. When You Dance I Can Really Love (4+)
10. I Believe In You (?) (3)
11. Cripple Creek Ferry (?) (3)

REVIEW: This one was oh-so-close to getting an 8 or even a 9, but ended up with a relatively low 4. Why? Well, there's a few songs I don't care for, but they almost make the cut for me (Tell Me Why with a 5, Don't Let It Bring You Down with a 4+, and When You Dance... with a 4). If any of those got a 5+ or higher, they'd add a point to the overall rating. In the case of the latter two, unfortunately they took away a couple of points. This album contains three consecutive gems on side 1, so it's really an album I cherish. If I could reconfigure my rating system, I'd find some way to award such albums--ones that have 3 or more all-time favorites. But as it is, it gets a very strong 4. This is Neil's 8th appearance on the list (not including his appearances a couple of entries back and one earlier than that as part of CSN&Y), and it ties for my favorite with Rust Never Sleeps. Again, the rating is deceiving--I like this a whole lot more than its final tally.

Mark

Posted on Jul 13, 2012 5:10:27 PM PDT
Best album ever, not just for nostalgia, for originality, pure genius. Have loved this album since it was released and could listen to it in its entirety today and still be enthralled. Neil has withstood the test of time, and is relevant and respected by many generations, not many artists can make that claim.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 13, 2012 10:37:13 PM PDT
E. Dill says:
RE: After the Goldrush

It is quite impossible for me to choose my favorite album of all time, but when I've tried, I've often mentioned this album. Frankly, I've worn out several copies in my lifetime.....now I have it on vinyl, cassette AND cd. I love EVERY song and couldn't begin to choose one over the other, no matter how much I love the title song. In looking at the titles again, there are a few I don't recognize. I'd bet I would as soon as I heard the first couple of notes. Birds and I Believe in You are the ones that have me stumped. I even love a few songs that are probably considered by many to be filler or "throwaways"....tunes like "Til the Morning Comes" and "Oh Lonesome Me". I love them! And when I listen to the album, I am even more amazed that Neil can make an album like that and still do something loud and raunchy like Ragged Glory. Amazing.

ed.

ps. I'm going to get back to the 897 and try a push toward #1. And I'll predict right now that when and if I ever complete my OWN Top 897, After the Goldrush and The Band's "Music from the Big Pink" will be near the top, regardless of how many Beefheart albums and Zappa albums, and PJ Harvey albums and Beatles albums I choose to include.
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