Monday, February 27, 2017

The Other 100: 16-20

16. Jethro Tull-This Was

I see it this way. There is Jethro Tull's debut and then there are all the other Jethro Tull records. This is not to dismiss all the others. I'm a fan of most, right through "Songs From The Wood." There may be some great ones after 1983, I just haven't heard any of them. But "This Was" is nothing short of masterful. Plus, it's the only record with guitarist Mick Abrahams, who was obviously the secret weapon. His arrangement of "Cat's Squirrel" makes Cream's version sound tame by comparison. "This Was" is another one of those special records that sounds like nothing else, not even any other Tull records. This one, still gets played plenty.

17. Prince- Dirty Mind

"Dirty Mind" is where I entered Prince's world. It was this record and the first time I saw him live at The Ritz in NYC one year later, that made me a believer. "Dirty Mind" is punk. It is funk. It is raw. And it still blows my mind. There is the perfect pop song in "When You Were Mind." Smart disco in "Uptown." And the trifecta of "Head," "Sister," and "Party Up" that still makes my jaw drop with its filthy subject matter and even filthier grooves. This is the one, with all due respect to "Purple Rain."

18. The Hot Rats

How does a 2010 side project of Supergrass featuring all covers, end up on a desert island? Because it's brilliant. This is what a covers record should be. Rarely covered tunes that stay true to the original while becoming individual pieces on their own. Lou Reed, The Kinks, Roxy Music, David Bowie, The Cure and Elvis Costello all get made over. But re-imagining the Beastie Boys "Fight For Your Right To Party" as The Who covering "Strange Brew" is absolute genius.

19. Ultravox- S/T

Before John Foxx left Ultravox and Midge Ure took the band on a romantic (read: boring) synth-pop journey to success, they were a 5-piece making music that sounded like Roxy Music meets The Clash. The 1977 debut, produced by Brian Eno pushed every one of my glam rock/punk buttons, and even dabbled a bit in prog, thanks to the violin stylings of band member, Billy Currie. This continues to get heavy rotation in my house, 40 years later.

20. The Merry-Go Round- You're A Very Lovely Woman -Live

This 1967 gem from a 17-year old Emitt Rhodes and friends, is without question, one of my favorite records of all time. His solo debut gets all the accolades and McCartney comparisons, but the material on this record is much stronger. 1967 gave us some legendary recordings, so it's not difficult to understand why something like this could be set aside. Still, 50 years later it should be more than a cult classic. Few pop bands made music this smart and this consistent on their debut, and even the Merry-Go-Round's non-album singles and b-sides shine.





buzzbabyjesus said...

This is so much fun. Thanks! I agree with most of your choices, as "The Other 100" is also my territory. When I say most it's because of the ones I haven't heard yet.

Charlie Messing said...

Once again, a real eye and ear opener. "This Was" is a brilliant choice, and I've always thought that about the album - though I haven't heard it since the year it came out! I look forward to hearing the rest of the albums, too. Carry on, bring us to where it Is, and What it is. Peace..

Anonymous said...

I wasn't introduced to Emitt Rhodes until I read a review of the "Mirror" album, and never really got into his earlier history. Was the Merry Go Round a regional thing?

Tom Jans - The Eyes of an Only Child
INXS - Shabooh Shoobah
Everything but the Girl - s/t
Strawbs - Hero and Heroine (this and Genesis ruled my little college town)
Rory Gallagher - Tatoo

itsok2beright said...

It amazes me how every time I hear an old Prince album for the first time I wonder why the hell didn't I hear this when it came out.

Well, I actually know why, and it was arrogance. "He's a head-case", "he thinks who he is", "he's too good for a name", "he plays dance music", etc.

Sounds odd, but he is an under-rated rocker, since not many people look at him as a rocker.

I'm with anonymous on the Rory Gallagher album.

My 16-20, continuing alphabetically, since there is no other way I can keep track.

Chuck Berry, The Great 28 (compilation album;)
The Darkness, Permission to Land
Deep Purple, In Rock (If only to hear Child in Time; really, are there any better screams in all of RnR?)
Dio, Holy Diver (I could've added other Dio's, but just one for now)
Dirty Tricks, Night Man

Shriner said...

So still playing along. I tried to put through a list of "second 100" albums by going through my iTunes, but about 1/4 of the way through I realized my "first 100" -- was probably more than 100 to begin with (as there would be multiple albums by many artists -- and I would be bringing along "Greatest Hits" compilations for probably 2-3 dozen artists...)

But with that, I tried to keep this to what would still be theoretically "second 100" and I stopped my list at 80 (and I realized that a lot of these were from the same time period so there's an enormous amount of nostalgia contributing too). I'll play along as long as you do. ;-)

My 16-20 (and these are in no particular order):

16) Bash & Pop -- Friday Night is Killing Me. (There would be at least one Replacements in my top 100, but this bubbles under -- a fabulous album that came and died too soon...)
17) Brian Setzer — The Knife Feels Like Justice. The first solo Setzer album, but before the big-band stuff. Top notch songs!
18) Nada Surf -- The Stars are Indifferent to Astronomy. This is one of those bands where everything sounds the same. But I love all of it. This is probably the best one, IMO
19) Jefferson Starship -- Freedom At Point Zero. Is it a *classic* album? No. But does it rock and have a special place in my learning-to-play-guitar heart? Absolutely!
20) Wondermints — Mind If I Make Love To You. This one might bump to the top 100, but it might not. If it did, I'd probably replace it with "Kalleidoscopin" or "The Wonderful World of Wondermints"

rick said...

The title itself—‘This Was’—speaks to your point: "This was how we were playing then – but things change – don't they?" One of my very favorite Jethro Tull songs is ‘A New Day Yesterday’, the first song on their second album, and it seems almost like a holdover from the first album, or at least a nod to it, maybe the last really bluesy song of theirs. And even though its lyrics seem to speak of a lost love, it also may be referring to their clear change of direction.

Sal Nunziato said...


I like about half of that Starship record. But "Jane" is as good as a rock song gets!

Michael Giltz said...

I'm gonna pretend we've got a John & Yoko thing going on, with your latest batch "responding" to my last batch, which included Prince's "Parade" as my Other 100 pick, because I'm assuming everyone already touted either Purple Rain or Sign O The Times or 1999. I always found Dirty Mind a little TOO naughty (I never liked my sisters that much) and spare and frankly found even 1999 a little thin come the third or fourth side. But I'm ready to give Dirty Mind another listen. And I had no idea one of my favorite bands Supergrass had a side project (or I forgot) and can't wait to check it out. I only started listening to Ultravox after their boring transition to commercial success ("Viennnnnnnaaa!") so of course I stopped listening right away and never explored their catalog. But Brian Eno produced S/T? I'm in! And hence my Yoko to your John w an Eno pick and a Supergrass pick.

6. Supergrass – In It For The Money I know/believe Supergrass was a lot more popular for a lot longer in the UK. In the US, they kind of began and ended with the near-hit “Alright.” (I see that “Cheapskate” actually hit #35 two years later in 1997 but yeah, they never hit it big here.) God knows why. They went from super cool pop to Led Zep crunch to seemingly a mastery of a new style with every album without ever seeming to abandon what made them distinctly Supergrass-ish. This double CD was an awesome Beatle-esque romp called “In It For The Money” and I just KNEW they’d become huge. I wonder why that gig as a talent scout never panned out. I’ve played many of their albums endlessly but perhaps this catchy monster most of all.

7. Laura Nyro – Gonna Take A Miracle When I first heard this collaboration with the effortlessly awesome trio Labelle, I kind of just assumed that THIS was the definitive Laura Nyro album, the one everybody loved. I have never really synced with her more famous albums, most recently trying to warm up to “New York Tendaberry” and failing miserably. Her soft/loud dynamic and self-conscious quirks just irk me much as I want to admire Nyro. But this cover album of pop gems is unique, fun and so so good. It just works in a really wonderful way. It’s hard to judge these things but I have the impression this might be seen as a fun offshoot of her more important work rather than the crowning achievement of Nyro (and a feather in the cap for Labelle.) But just listen once and you’ll be smiling.

8. Brian Eno and John Cale – Wrong Way Up My god I love Brian Eno and in my universe so many of his ambient albums are indeed on the first 100 (not to mention his brilliant work with so many other artists including Bowie and Talking Heads and U2 and of course Roxy Music). So which of his many offbeat works do I think is overlooked? Maybe this collaboration with John Cale, which has more vocals than most of Eno’s solo work and a pretty conventional song structure throughout, which may make it boring to some but any sort of structure can bring alive creativity and that certainly happens here. It has a mournful air and when some of these songs popped up in the weepy but good Italian film “The Son’s Room” it just tore me apart with its beauty.

Michael Giltz said...


9. Sinead O’Connor – The Lion and the Cobra One of the very first albums I was handed – for free! – review was this debut by Sinead O’Connor. Holy shit! I took it home and turned it up and was blown back against the wall by its impressive majesty and self-possessed greatness. Were all albums sitting on slush piles this awesome? Well, no. She broke into stardom with her next album but I have always preferred this one. I might have gone with the Gospel Oaks ep which is tremendously moving and shows a different side to O’Connor. Fame overwhelmed her and she got sidetracked from her muse and now she seems rather wounded and I wish the best for her. And any time I wanna be impressed again, I put on this debut and think, sure, she maybe should have done so much more but she already accomplished a lot right here. One of the great debuts.

10. Roy Orbison – In Dreams: The Greatest Hits How uncool and silly can I get? I didn’t even realize at the time that this greatest hits set was a RERECORDED collection of Orbison’s early masterpieces done for Virgin so they could put out his biggest hits and not have to listen the old tunes. Anyone with half a brain would tell people, ignore this and get the originals. But I don’t have but half a brain. And to me, this is where the Roy Orbison comeback began. The film “Blue Velvet” came out in 1986 and made him cool yet again, Virgin signed Orbison and began with this cynical cash cow in 1987 and then came the Traveling Wilburys in 1988 and some solo albums with all-star support and that live concert “Black & White Night” in 1989. What a great celebration of a great talent. This rerecording is forgotten by most. But when driving late at night from college to home down the length of Florida, “In Dreams” was a sure-fire way to raise the pulse and keep me awake and firing on all cylinders. It’s some of the greatest pop songs of all time and ideal driving music, though you are more likely to get a ticket for speeding when playing it. And I’ve gone back and compared these new versions with the brilliant originals and I swear to you half the time Orbison is cutting himself and doing them EVEN BETTER than he did originally! Given how tremendous those original versions were, that’s a pretty heady statement. Maybe it’s just because I became so wedded to these versions as the ones I heard first. But half the time I do recognize the original is the original and supreme. But my gosh he was in great voice and knew these songs in his bones after performing them for decades. This was no lazy cash-in as far as he was concerned. Orbison had something to prove and he proved it. At the very least it’s worth a listen for hardcore fans, an addendum to his great body of work. And to me, it’s a masterpiece in its own right and easily the GREATEST example of an artist rerecording their own hits that ever was.

(I really need to edit myself. Some day.)

Chris Collins said...

I love all of these responses.

YES on "Dirty Mind"! Yes yes yes yes!

I can't believe I didn't include the Replacement in my first picks. But I just assumed that this was a critics pick in my own mind and every Replacements album was on that list. But of course the Replacements. Of course. My favorite is "Pleased To Meet Me". But I accept all.

Hole- "Celebrity Skin"- could be "Live Through This" or even Courtney's great (really) solo album "America's Sweetheart". Hate all you want. She makes great records. "Skin" gets the nod because of "Malibu" and the gorgeous "Boys On The Radio".

Little Steven and The Disciples of Soul- "Men Without Women"- One of my all time favorite records.

Van Morrison and the Chieftains- "Irish Heartbeat"- for my money, Van never sang better.

more to come. for sure.