Monday, April 24, 2017

The Other 100: 91-100



And then there were ten.

I want to thank everyone who participated in this series, especially Shriner, Chris Collins, itsok2bright, DrWu, and of course Michael Giltz for the initial suggestion, even after 90 records, we are still not sure what the hell this is all about.

Before I get to the last ten records, here's a recap.

The point of the "Other 100" was to choose 100 records that I cannot live without, with the key component being that these records do NOT appear on the usual Top 100. "Pet Sounds" will not be on my "Other 100" list. Not because I don't love it. It is on my "first 100." But because it will ALWAYS appear on the usual Top 100. "The Who Sell Out" is one of my three favorite records of all time. It will appear on my first 100 AND on my "Other 100" because it will NOT appear on the usual Top 100. Choices for the "Other 100" might include records that would be in your first 100 because they most likely do NOT appear on the usual 100.

Are we good?

Here we go.








91. The Kinks- Kinda Kinks

It feels like there are too many Kinks records I need that will never appear on the usual top 100. So how do I choose just one? I started rattling off my favorite Kinks songs and four of them appear on "Kinda Kinks." Just for "Nothin' In The World Can Stop Me Worryin' 'Bout That Girl," I need "Kinda Kinks." How can I live without "Something Better Beginning?" I can't. "Everybody's Gonna Be Happy?" Yes, especially when those handclaps start. "Kinda Kinks" is kinda wonderful.







92. Prince- Emancipation

Three CDs, each exactly 60 minutes long, this was Prince breaking free from the turmoil, from limbo, from the musical shackles that were Warner Brothers. Could "Emancipation" have been one masterpiece? Sure! But so what? You get two bonus discs containing two hours worth of music, that for my money, still beats anything he released post-2000. Just for fun, here is the single disc masterpiece, according to me:

Jam Of The Year
Somebody's Somebody
I Can't Make U Love Me
Soul Sanctuary
The Holy River
Saviour
Friend, Lover, Sister, Mother/Wife
The Human Body
Face Down
One Of Us
The Love We Make
Emancipation






93. Judas Priest- British Steel

There hasn't been much heavy metal on my list, even though I love it. Mostly, I just don't listen to it as much as I once did, except for a few records. "British Steel" is one of them. A masterpiece of excitement and musicianship, with hooks and grooves that have no place being on this "type" of record. This is Judas Priest at the peak of their powers. It's relentless and still very radio-friendly. From the opening assault of the original U.K. sequence, "Rapid Fire" into "Metal Gods," right through to the closer, "Steeler" with one of the most bad-ass endings in rock and roll, a pocket so tight and so damn heavy, I lose my breath every time, "British Steel" might just be the metal record for those who think they don't like heavy metal.






94. The Move -Message From The Country

Is "Message From The Country" the last Move record or the first ELO record? I don't care. This 1971 gem shows why both Roy Wood and Jeff Lynne are mad, musical geniuses. I've used the phrase, "nothing sounds like it," when describing many of my favorite records and I think that is key. The Move made four very different records and they were still able to keep those four records from sounding like much else in music, even 50 years later. If the middle records, "Shazam" and "Looking On" were the epics of excess, "Message From The Country" takes the formula of their 60's psych pop debut and updates it for the new decade.














95/96. Paul McCartney- McCartney and Ram

"Ram" has taken on a new life in the last decade, but prior to the hipsters discovering the brilliant DIY sounds of Sir Paul's first two solo records, no one paid any real respect to Macca's solo work until "Band On the Run." We all know "McCartney" and "Ram," so I don't need to expound on these records, other than, I love them dearly.















97/98.  Bruce Springsteen- The River/Tunnel Of Love

I am not completely at ease with including these records. "TOL" has been hailed as a masterpiece by many, and "The River," only recently has gotten more acclaim than it had in the first 35 years it was released. Still, my instincts tell me this: There won't be six Bruce records on a usual Top 100, and neither "The River" nor "TOL" is beating out "Wild, The Innocent," "Born To Run," "Darkness" or "Nebraska" among "professional critics."  Maybe, I'm wrong, but these two records still get major airplay in my house and they need to be here.








99. Todd Rundgren- The Hermit Of Mink Hollow

Is this the unofficial follow-up to "Something/Anything?" Many feel that way, since "the wizard" took some crazy detours after that 1972 pop and soul, tour de force. "Hermit" runs approximately 36 minutes and it is one piece of pop brilliance after another, save the obligatory saboteur, "Onomatopoeia," a brief novelty breather, that Rundgren can never seem to help tossing into a perfectly good mix. Todd covers all his bases here, with the gorgeous, upbeat opener, "All The Children Sing," some of his best rockers, "You Cried Wolf" and "Determination" and two of his most heartbreaking, "Can We Still Be Friends" and "Hurting For You." Plus, the closer, "Fade Away" is as beautiful as it gets.








100. Yes- Close To the Edge

What happened after 1973 is anybody's guess? New drummer. New keyboardist. Bad grammar. I don't know. But the first five Yes records are essential, culminating with 1973's "Close To The Edge." I never quite understood the backlash against sidelong songs. Aren't they six different ideas anyway? Don't the songs have 6 subtitles? Aren't the bands on the vinyl shaded from light to dark to show where each of the ideas change? Anyway, "Close To The Edge" has three songs, and each exhibits why all 5 band members deserve respect.  The opening riff of "Siberian Khatru" alone is worth everyone's time.


And dat's dat!

THE OTHER 100
1. Pete Townshend & Ronnie Lane- Rough Mix
2. Willie Nelson- Teatro
3. Black Sabbath- Heaven & Hell
4. Marshall Crenshaw- Life's Too Short
5. The Darkness- Hot Cakes
6. The Meters- Rejuvenation
7. Chicago II
8. Jr. Walker & the All-Stars- Home Cookin'
9. The Bees- Free The Bees
10. Savoy Brown- Getting To The Point
11. Roxy Music- Siren
12. Bobby "Blue"Bland- Two Steps From The Blues
13. Rolling Stones- Through The Past Darkly (U.K. MONO vinyl)
14. Daryl Hall- Sacred Songs
15. Electric Light Orchestra- Zoom
16. Jethro Tull- This Was
17. Prince- Dirty Mind
18. The Hot Rats
19. Ultravox- Ultravox
20. The Merry Go Round- You're A Very Lovely Woman/Live
21. Fleetwood Mac- Then Play On
22. New Radicals- Maybe You've Been Brainwashed, Too
23. Steve Earle- The Low Highway
24. Genesis- A Trick Of The Tail
25. Paul McCartney- Chaos & Creation In The Backyard
26. Robert Palmer- Sneakin' Sally Thru The Alley
27. Iggy Pop- The Idiot
28. James Booker- Live At Montreux
29. Queen- A Day At The Races
30. Todd Rundgren- Liars
31. The Cahmbers Brothers- The Time Has Come
32. Jerry Lee Lewis & The Nashville Teens- Live At The Star Club
33. Emitt Rhodes- the American Dream
34. Hall & Oates- Abandoned Luncheonette
35. Finn Brothers- Everyone Is Here
36. David Bowie- Heathen
37. NRBQ-At Yankee Stadium
38. King Crimson- Red
39. The Left Banke- Walk Away Renee/Pretty Ballerina
40. Led Zeppelin- Presence
41. Tom Waits & Crystal Gayle- One From The Heart
42. John Cale- Paris 1919
43. Little Feat- Sailin' Shoes
44. 10cc- The Original Soundtrack
45. The Hollies- Butterfly
46. Stanton Moore- III
47. The Beatles- A Hard Day's Night
48. Motorhead- Ace Of Spades
49. XTC- Nonsuch
50. Bruce Springsteen- Magic
51. Elvis Costello- King Of America
52. Elvis Costello- Blood & Chocolate
53. Rolling Stones- Now
54. Rolling Stones- Black & Blue
55. Brian Eno- Here Come The Warm Jets
56. Brian Eno- Another Green World
57. Syd Barrett- The Madcap Laughs
58. Syd Barrett- Barrett
59. The Who Sell Out
60. The Who By Numbers
61. Fairport Convention- Unhalfbricking
62. Al Green- I'm Still In Love With You
63. World Party- Goodbye Jumbo
64. CC Adcock & Lafayette Marquis
65. Bad Brains- I Against I
66. Bob Dylan- Shot Of Love
67. Faces- Ooh La La
68. Jon Cleary & The Absolute Monster Gentlemen
69. Aerosmith- Rocks
70. T. Rex- The Slider
71. The Move- Shazam
72. Cheap Trick-Cheap trick (1977)
73. Sam Cooke- Night Beat
74. Beastie Boys- Paul's Boutique
75. Sparks- Kimono My House
76. Wilco- Summerteeth
77. Traffic- Mr. Fantasy
78. Jules Shear- The Great Puzzle
79. The Bobby Fuller Four- I Fought The Law
80. The Black Crowes- the Southern Harmony & Musical Companion
81. Thin Lizzy- Jailbreak
82. The Rascals- Time/Peace
83. The Drifters Golden Hits
84. Queen II
85. Elton John Tumbleweed Connection
86. Todd Rundgren- Faithful
87. The Turtles- the Battle Of The Bands
88. David Bowie- Station To Station
89. The Mavericks- Trampoline
90. XTC- Wasp Star
91. The Kinks- Kinda Kinks
92. Prince- Emancipation
93. Judas Priest- British Steel
94. The Move- Message From the Country
95. Paul McCartney- McCartney
96. Paul McCartney- Ram
97. Bruce Springsteen- The River
98. Bruce Springsteen- Tunnel Of Love
99. Todd Rundgren- The Hermit Of Mink Hollow
100. Yes- Close To The Edge






86-90

81-85

76-80

71-75

66-70

61-65

51-60

46-50

41-45

36-40

31-35

26-30

21-25

16-20

11-15

6-10

1-5

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Songs Of The Week, 2017: 4/15-4/21



Frame By Frame- King Crimson
She Wandered Through The Garden Fence- Procol Harum
While I Cry- The Monkees
Epistle To Dippy- The Dickies
Let Go- NRBQ
Indigo- Peter Gabriel
On Love- Skip Bifferty

zip

Friday, April 21, 2017

The Other 100: 86-90




 86. Todd Rundgren-Faithful

Off all the gin joints...that's right. Todd's 1975 collection of half covers and half originals is a personal favorite. Oddly, it's one of his most consistent, too. The covers are note perfect soundalikes. Two by The Beatles, Jimi, The Yardbirds, Dylan and the single, Todd's minor hit, a mind-blowing take on "Good Vibrations." So, why? Because it's great music. But also, the originals happen to be some of his best, including my single favorite Rundgren tune, "The Verb To Love." This is accessible Todd. Todd the soul singer. Todd the pop genius. Todd the guitar god. All on one record.






87. The Turtles- The Battle Of The Bands

I've loved this record since I was a kid, and there is no way in hell I am going anywhere without "Elenore!" But, as silly as the premise sounds--The Turtles taking on various disguises and bands---most of it works. The hillbilly harmonies on "Too Much Heartsick Feeling" are to die for. "The Last Thing I Remember" has become a psych classic. McGuinn-Clark's "You Showed Me" is another gorgeous gem. And the under two minute classic, "I'm Chief Kamanawanalea" is irresistible.







88. David Bowie- Station To Station

It's hard to say whether "Station To Station" would be on the usual Top 100 lists. It is without a doubt one of my five favorite Bowie records, and on certain days, it is absolutely my favorite. But my gut feeling says, most critics are choosing others. 6 songs and all of them are brilliant. While some may not be a fan of Bowie's "crooning," it's hard to argue that both ballads, "Word On A Wing" and the 50's hit "Wild Is The Wind" are as good as Bowie's crooning has ever been. The two hits, "Golden Years" and "TVC 15" have become standards. But it's the epic title track and Earl Slick's tour de force, "Stay" that knock this baby out of the park!






89.  The Mavericks- Trampoline

Raul Malo's voice is a wonder of the world and the countrypolitan sounds of The Mavericks have been consistent since their very first LP. But it's 1998's "Trampoline" where they nail it and nail it good. This record plays like a tour of 1970's AM radio, and I say that in the best possible way. Every song will conjure up some hit or another. The arrangements are huge, but never overblown. It's a party. It's a heartbreaker. It's the band's best. "Tell Me Why," "Someone Should Tell Her," I Hope You Want Me Too," "Fool # 1" "I've Got This Feeling," every song better than the one before it.







90. XTC- Wasp Star

Another controversial XTC pick, I'm sure, but I can't help it. I play "Nonsuch" and "Wasp Star" more than any other XTC records. I wrote about "Nonsuch" in post 46-50. Now, I feel I can say the same things. Lyrically, Andy Partridge is on top his game. "Stupidly Happy," "We're All Light," "You & The Clouds" and "Church Of Women" are some of the most beautiful lyrics and melodies ever written. I dedicated a whole post some years back on the arrangement of "Stupidly Happy."
One of Andy's very best guitar solos is right there in the middle of "Church Of Women." Colin's "Standing In For Joe" may sound like Steely Dan's "Barrytown" but that doesn't make it any less infectious.  "Wasp Star" should get a lot more praise than it does. It's brill, as they say.





81-85

76-80

71-75

66-70

61-65

51-60

46-50

41-45

36-40

31-35

26-30

21-25

16-20

11-15

6-10

1-5

Thursday, April 20, 2017

The Other 100: 81-85





81. Thin Lizzy- Jailbreak

This feels like the most difficult choice so far. There was no fear over which Thin Lizzy record might be on a usual Top 100. I'm sure none of their output gets any respect, just like the band themselves. It's difficult for me to choose just one. Some of my favorite Lizzy tunes appear on the records before and after "Jailbreak," but I give "Jailbreak" the nod for being the most consistent. Like "All The Young Dudes," I just never tire of "The Boys Are Back In Town," the song that made Thin Lizzy, but also the song that too often breaks Thin Lizzy. Nowhere is their two-guitar attack more perfect than on tracks like "Emerald" and "The Cowboy Song." And on "Running Back," Phil Lynott bares his soul, in the simplest and most heartbreaking way. It's always been a wonder to me, how Thin Lizzy doesn't touch more people.






82. The Rascals-Time/Peace

I believe this is the first compilation I have listed, though I could be wrong. This was another difficult choice. The first five Young Rascals records are some of my most played, but choosing just one leaves me without some true necessities. Prior to the now legendary Hall Of Fame induction speech given by Little Steven Van Zandt, The Rascals were often relegated to "singles band" status. But man, what amazing singles they were! Every one of them stirring up a perfect summertime moment and a reason to sing along. "Time/Peace" is just about perfect. My only complaint is that it was released before "People Got To Be Free" was released. If that song was included, I might just be happy having only this one record with me forever.







83. The Drifters' Golden Hits

What I just said about The Rascals above, can almost apply to The Drifters, except The Drifters records were more uneven, so a compilation is a no-brainer. Talk about perfect singles and summer and memories and singing and....damn! This record might have gotten the most spins of any other record in my household growing up. My grandfather loved it. My father loved it. And now, of course, I love it.








84. Queen II-

Freddie Mercury and the gang might have taken on the world with 1975's "A Night At The Opera," but it was in 1974, where Queen really made their mark. Not one, but two records were released that year, the amazing "Sheer Heart Attack," and before it, the record that contains one of my Top 5 "sides" of all time, "Queen II." When asked, I always cite "Queen II" as my favorite Queen record, though I really believe the three records that followed are better records. It's because of Side Two, or as it's listed, "Side Black" that this record edges the others out ever-so slightly. A side-long suite, if you will, of bombast, pomp and insanity, with everything and kitchen sink. The hooks and riffs are relentless. Freddie's vocals, Brian May's guitar wizardry, John Deacon's rock solid subtleties and Roger Taylor's unique drumming, all define the band right here on one side of music. I don't care if Side White is weak. Side Black makes up for it in spades.







85. Elton John-Tumbleweed Connection

Is it possible Elton John peaked 47 years ago? I always say, Elton John and Rod Stewart released some of the greatest music of all time before 1975 and some of the worst music of all time after 1975, though Elton did have plenty of great songs here and there, right up to the forgotten gem that is 2004's "Peachtree Road." And the reason I love "Peachtree Road" so much is because it reminds of "Tumbleweed Connection." It's rootsy and it's soulful. Elton and Bernie Taupin created a sound on "Tumbleweed" and they never returned. It's a country record in both feel and substance, yet it sounds nothing like any country music record before it. Every song is a classic and none of feels overplayed like so many of EJ's hits. My fave Elton, by far.






76-80

71-75

66-70

61-65

51-60

46-50

41-45

36-40

31-35

26-30

21-25

16-20

11-15

6-10

1-5

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Is It Really Getting Better All The Time?

 
 
My friend Michael Giltz seems to be a tad confused and even slightly disappointed over the upcoming 50th anniversary release of "Sgt. Pepper," which will feature a new stereo mix of the album proper, and oodles of Beatles outtakes we may actually not have heard before. He texted this to me-
 
"I’m all for doing a new stereo mix of the original album and of course it had everyone’s blessing. But to celebrate the album, I still think Mono should come first and the new stereo mix as a bonus on the second CD. And I’m all for The Ultimate Sgt Pepper adding in Fields and Lane, which they don’t seem to have done in any official capacity."
 
I, on the other hand, am really looking forward to this. So, I replied-
 
"I understand what you're saying. The two extra tracks are not incorporated into the sequence of the original record. Still, I don't think that they are trying to push this release as a definitive version. They are offering a new stereo mix, with extra material, which is something The Beatles camp haven't done as often as everyone else, and have never abused their catalogue, like say both Elvises or The Who."
 
He said-
 
"Buy a CD of Sgt Pepper and all you get is the new stereo mix. But two cds and you get extra tracks. Buy the massive boxed set and you'll find the mono on CD four.  If I were the Beatles I'd have the U.K. Mono mixes as the albums available on default up to White Album w the stereo relegated to the boxed set collections of stereo or the boxed set of US album versions. To me the monos are tremendous and sound awesome -/ no casual fan would know or think twice. It's just the album and it doesn't sound weird or less in any way. The serious fan I assume would prefer mono. (But happy to buy both.) the way it's packaged, from now on if you go to the store or type in sgt pepper on Amazon you're being offered the 2017 stereo version only.  I feel that's a mistake. Make a dozen versions available but to me they made a dreadful mistake going w stereo on the original CD releases and the chance to correct it has been missed. Again."
 
I said- 
 
"I think you're missing the point completely about this release. No one is pushing mono versus stereo. It's simply a new package with the new stereo mix and unreleased material. No one has said, this is better than the mono mix, which is readily available for $20, albeit, on vinyl, but not stand alone CD. But that's not what this is about. It's about a celebration of a record and to change things up a bit, you've got a new stereo mix, which is exciting. Plus you have all this extra stuff, which is exciting. The mono CD box and the mono LP aren't being deleted. It's the 50th anniversary of the record, all involved want to know how to celebrate it. If someone suggested, how about we rerelease the mono mix on a CD, or worse, how about we take the perfect mono mix and fuck it up for everybody and charge them more, how would that pan out? Plus Ringo is on record, saying he prefers the mono. Paul, of course, loves both."
 
What say you, Beatles fanatic and cynics? And, if you were to sequence both "Penny Lane" and "Strawberry Field Forever" into "Sgt. Pepper," where would you put them?
 
 

Monday, April 17, 2017

Songs Of The Week, 2017: 4/8-4/14



Walking Spanish- Tom Waits
Speaks His Mind- Galactic w/ Walter "Wolfman" Washington
Why Should I Love You- Kate Bush
We're The Same- Matthew Sweet
Pretty Soon There'll Be Nothing Left For Everybody- Nilsson
Gasoline & Matches- Buddy & Julie Miller
Just Once In My Life- The Beach Boys


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Wednesday, April 12, 2017

The Other 100: 76-80




76. Wilco-Summerteeth

"Summerteeth" was released in 1999. It was Wilco's third and I still hadn't been completely sold on the band. I liked the sloppy mess of their debut and I thought what was great on their follow-up "Being There" was great, but what wasn't, really wasn't. There is some clamor over "Summerteeth" and the Beach Boys seem to get name-dropped by more than a few reviewers and fans. So I listen, and of course, I don't hear the Beach Boys, much like I don't hear The Beatles when I listened to Oasis. It takes more than a minor 7th chord to sound like the Fab Four and it takes more than a few harmonies to sound like the Wilsons.

I didn't fall as hard as others, but I did like "Summerteeth" enough to keep it close and to see the band live at the Bowery Ballroom, on a guest ticket from a friend. That show turned me around and I've been a fan, occasionally a fanatic, ever since.

Over the course of however long it took, maybe a few years, songs would pop up randomly on the iPod, some by the Beach Boys and some from "Summerteeth." That's when it would hit me, a song at a time, unexpectedly hitting the right nerve. What I hadn't been hearing on the first pass or two, suddenly became as clear as day, though I was still skeptical over what the critics were hearing in 1999. Nothing specific had ever been mentioned, so it was easy for me to toss it all aside when nothing from Wilco's album sounded like "Don't Worry Baby."

Soon "Summerteeth" will be 20 years old. I don't recall what age it was when it became one of my favorite records of all time. But the more I listen, the more I hear late 60's and early 70's Beach Boys. But more than that, I hear the best Jeff Tweedy songs and band arrangements, all in one place.







77. Traffic- Mr. Fantasy

The 1967 debut from Traffic, aka "Heaven Is In Your Mind," at least for a brief minute in the USA, is many different records. There are US stereo and mono mixes, UK stereo and mono mixes and alternate track lists. For me, the original UK tracklist and mono mix gets to come with me. The psychedelic pop of this debut is a far cry from the soulful, hippie folk jamming of their other masterpiece "John Barleycorn Must Die" released only three later, and it remains another one of the special records that has its own sound. The hook-filled opener, "Heaven Is In Your Mind" is irresistible, the gorgeous "No Face No Name and No Number" is a heartbreaker, and of course "Dear Mr. Fantasy," which has become a jam-band live staple, are just three of the endless highlights of this necessary record.







78. Jules Shear- The Great Puzzle

Jules Shear is by far, one of my favorite songwriters of all time, though I was not on board like so many others, with Jules & The Polar Bears. It was his solo debut produced by Todd Rundgren that caught my ear and sealed my deal as a fan, and it was 1992's "The Great Puzzle," where Jules Shear delivered his masterpiece. Every song is a short story, with turns of phrase that will leave you spellbound. His voice, which admittedly is an acquired taste, has never been better, and Shear's ear for harmony is on display on most of these brilliant tracks. "The Great Puzzle" is perfect, from top to bottom and is the best example of why Jules Shear remains a personal favorite.







79. Bobby Fuller Four- I Fought The Law

One proper record released in 1966 and that was enough. Everything you need is on the BF4's "I Fought The Law." Chugging Buddy Holly guitars, mellifluous harmonies, enough hooks to snag a carp, and an underlying urgency that drives every track, this record is Bobby Fuller's greatest hits, one amazing song after another.







80. The Black Crowes- The Southern Harmony & Musical Companion

In 1990, I saw The Black Crowes open for Aerosmith and they made me laugh. "Is this guy kidding me, with this act?" I asked my friend that question, only peppered it with a few multi-syllabic, dirty "K" words, as I watched this skinny wannabe try desperately to win the crowd, as he fell to his knees, smacking the floor, testifying, or so he thought. I did not like Chris Robinson in 1990. So, how did the Black Crowes become one of my favorite live bands, as well as one of my favorite bands of the last 30 years? It started with their sophomore release, "The Southern Harmony & Musical Companion." Where it might have been easy to toss off their debut as a Rutles-like parody of the Faces, regardless of how good the singles were, it was as if the Brothers Robinson were reborn for the material on their follow-up. Tighter and stronger, full of gospel and soul, rhythm and blues and balls out rock and roll, "Southern Harmony" is the one. It takes their love of southern music, the swagger of Mick & Keith, the carelessness of Rod and Ronnie and Mac and nails it for the 90's. The Black Crowes became a different band with their next record, "Amorica." The vibe turned from playfully drunk to heavy handed and stoned, which is not to say the boys put out inferior music. "Amorica" has moments of brilliance, and though I may be alone with this assessment, their fifth release, 1995's "By Your Side" was back to basics and stands as my second favorite Crowes record. (I don't even think Chris & Rich Robinson like "By Your Side," but what do they know?) Live, they remained one of the greatest acts, thanks to the machine behind the kit, the one and only, Steve Gorman. "The Southern Harmony & Musical Companion" is solid, and would not be out of place on a list with some of the great hard rocking records of all time.