Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The Other 100: 46-50

 46. Stanton Moore- III

Like I said about The Meters in an earlier post, New Orleans music takes on a different life when you are experiencing it live in the Crescent City. Not all of it translates to record with the same heart and soul. But when it does, you are rewarded in big ways. My go-to artist when I am in New Orleans, also happens to be one of my favorite living drummers, Mr. Stanton Moore. For years, he's been the anchor in Galactic. He's provided the beats and grooves for the avant-funk collective known as Garage A Trois. He's released solo records and he's been a session man, showing off his chops and ability with people as diverse as Rachid Taha and metal-thrashers, Corrosion Of Conformity. But he nailed it on his third solo release. "III" is everything and more. It's an aural feast of New Orleans sounds. And it's a drummer's dream, or nightmare, depending on your frame of mind. The originals, led by Robert Walter on the B-3, with the stellar Will Bernard on guitar, fall into a soul pocket from the get-go. It's Jimmy Smith meets The Meters meets Led Zeppelin, the latter getting name-checked because of the riffing and enthusiasm. I saw most of this record performed live at an intimate midnight show in Preservation Hall, not long after Katrina. That may give me an edge, in terms of "feeling it." But as I said, this one translates.

47. The Beatles- A Hard Day's Night

How does a Beatles record end up on an alternate Top 100? By being a record that is constantly overshadowed by the same 5 Beatles records that appear on everyone's list. "Rubber Soul," "Revolver," "Sgt. Pepper," "The White Album" and "Abbey Road" get the nods, all the time. But how about this baby, their third record in under 2 years, their first with all original material, and quite frankly, one of their rockingest. I don't need to say much more, except I love it more than most of The Beatles catalogue, including both "Pepper" and "The White Album."

48. Motorhead- Ace Of Spades

Lemmy, Fast Eddie and Philthy Phil, a trio unlike any other. You either get Motorhead or you don't. There's no "getting to know them" period. You won't suddenly appreciate the lyrics to "Love Me Like A Reptile" while sitting by the lake. You won't suddenly recognize the melodic bass line in "Fast & Loose." And hopefully, you will not relate to "Jailbait." But no band plays rock and roll, YES...this is rock and roll...as hard, loud and fast, as Motorhead. "Ace Of Spades" continues to come through when I had enough of that sensitive crap. It's a monster and I love it.

49. XTC- Nonsuch

Our good friend, AWITW, posed the question, "Which bands got better with age?" He suggested XTC and I agree. There seems to be three phases of XTC- pre-"English Settlement," post-"English Settlement," and post-"Skylarking." I'm a fan of it all, but "Nonsuch" is my favorite. It's a double-record that many claim would have made a better single record, but when I try to edit, I simply cannot. Lyrically, both Andy and Colin are in a zone, from the gorgeous "My Bird Performs," to the upbeat and still heartbreaking "Dear Madam Barnum," to the absolutely stunning, "Wrapped In Grey," XTC were on a roll.  The pressure was on after the success of "Skylarking" and they delivered twice, first with the brilliant "Oranges & Lemons," and then, what I think is more brilliant, "Nonsuch." This record closes with "Books Are Burning," a personal fave and one of the greatest guitar duels ever put the wax, courtesy of Dave Gregory and Andy Partridge.

50. Bruce Springsteen- Magic

I'll keep this brief, since I've gushed on about and defended "Magic" way too many times on these pages. It's simple. "The Boss" did not stop making good records in 1978. And if we want to talk about albums versus "records" in Grammy terms, "Magic" is chock full of great "records." I love this album. In the old days, this would have had as many hit singles as "Born In The USA."











Dr Wu said...

I would like to add to the conversation...

The Clientele 'God Save the Clientele'
Dr. John 'In the Right Place'
Pulp 'Different Class'
Wire 'Pink Flag'
Jeff Buckley 'Grace'

I believe these albums speak for themselves.

buzzbabyjesus said...

I'm with you on all 5 this time. In a lot of ways "A Hard Days Night" was their apex.


What does it say about the sorry state of my listening that I need to be reminded to listen to The Beatles and Bruce Springsteen?

But I do and I am!

Shriner said...

My turn again!

(Though I will lead off with the general opinion that Nonsuch is one of my least favorite XTC albums. Why? I honestly do not know other than almost everything else in their catalog over shines it -- and all of Colin's songs drag this one *waaaayy* down and detract from some of Partridge's greatest songs. I don't know why I don't love this one as much as the others. I really, really don't...and the only XTC album I never put back on is Go2 but this gets put back on the shelf almost as much. I blame Colin's material, frankly.)

Anyway, on to stuff I really, really like!

46 -- Joe Jackson -- I'm The Man. Look Sharp! is top 100 (and mentioned by others before). This one easily follows right after. It's "part 2" of Look Sharp, IMO and well deserved in the second tier. With zero knowledge of this albums history, I've often assumed it followed the trajectory of the Knack -- a new band that had 15-18 really great songs and put the "killer dozen" on the first album and the second album is great, but pales in comparison. "I'm The Man" is a worthy followup.

47 -- The Rutles -- The Rutles. What? A comedy/parody album in my second 100? Yes! *Immensely listenable and never gets old*. Funny, but not in a "this joke is getting really old" way. Familiar, but original at the same time. As Sal indicates, how many Beatles albums would be in your top 100? All of them? Then maybe you don't need this. If not, you need this one as well. You think it's easy to write a Beatlesque song? Maybe you might find one hear and there on something like a Spongetones single or something -- but Neil Innes *nailed* it for a full album and seemingly effortlessly.

48 -- Carly Simon -- No Secrets. Will not be the last female voice in my second 100. This is a strong, strong album. A big #1 hit album (as it has "You're So Vain" and "The Right Thing To Do" on it.) But when I want to get my mellow on -- this is the album I pull out that's not The Carpenters "The Singles 1969-1973"... Strong, tight 37 minutes. All killer (well, for a mellow album), no filler. To me, never matched by her for a full album's worth of material before or after.

49) The Cowsills -- Global. The Cowsills?? "The Rain, The Park and Other Things"- Cowsills??? "Indian Lake"-Cowsills???? "Hair"-Cowsills??????? Yes!!!!!! This is Americana before it was called Americana. Harmonies, jangly guitars, and the wonderful voice of a older, soulful Susan Cowsill. Never heard it? You should! A forgotten treasure of an album!

50) Kaiser Chiefs -- Employment. The first 6-7 songs on this album -- are brilliant. One of the most exciting debut records I ever heard out of the gate as opposed to discovering it later (the other being Appetite for Destruction). The album peters off near the end because it can't match what bursts out at the beginning, so it makes my second tier because those first 6 songs -- are just perfect, perfect rock songs. I played the hell out of this when I got it and still put it on "I Predict A Riot" when I need an adrenaline rush and end up playing the whole album. If I could add the great follow-up single from their second album ("Ruby"), I would. But that's where my love of the Chiefs ends...and I think this album could have done with better sequencing, but that's a quibble...

Man, half the way through? And I still have so many more to go. And honorable mentions at the end (probably!) And probably mention of a solid dozen "Greatest Hits" albums (which would have to come along -- somehow.)

Troy said...

I love "A Hard Day's Night", but for me the Beatles album that would appear on my other 100 would be "Help". I'm referring in particular to the 7 songs from the movie. The soundtrack songs on the US version and the other songs on the British version were all fine (espec I've Just Seen a Face and Yesterday, of course), but those 7 songs are 7 of my favorite Beatle songs.

Sal Nunziato said...

I'm seeing a pattern, Shriner.

Shriner said...

What's the pattern? Great albums? You've lost me.

I'm actually picking and choosing from my list of second 110 so as to mix it up in my sets of 5.

Clearly I'm failing to disguise how many albums from the 80s I have on my list.

Sal Nunziato said...

Don't feel lost, Shriner. There is no pattern. Just a silly comment/reaction to my fave XTC record being your least fave, citing Colin's songs as the reason after I cited Colin's songs being so strong. Didn't you get that from, "I'm seeing a pattern." :)

Shriner said...

Oh, that. "Bungalow" and "War Dance" are probably my two least-favorite Colin songs ever. "The Smartest Monkeys" is just meh.
"My Bird Performs" is acceptable, tho.

Still can't let my ELO comment pass, can you? ;-)

Sal Nunziato said...

I did let it pass. But now...this. ;)

Anonymous said...

Second Dr. Wu's selections of The Clientele and Wire, tho "Strange Geometry" and "154" are my favorites.

Indigo Girls - Come On Now Social
His Name is Alive - Stars on ESP
Brian Auger/Trinity with Julie Driscoll - Streetnoise (my first copy of this was a commercial reel-to-reel tape with the sides flipped; it works better that way)
Emmy Lou Harris - Cowgirl's Prayer
X - More Fun in the New World

itsok2beright said...

Motorhead and The Beatles. Opposite ends of a beautiful spectrum. I'm with you on 'A Hard Day's Night', but I typically lean to Motorhead's first album. Just to hear Lemmy's versions of 'I'm Your Witchdoctor' and 'Train Kept A Rollin', is worth choosing that album over Ace of Spades.

All I've heard of Stanton Moore, I downloaded from Burning Wood. All worth the time. Given more exposure, I can easily find myself adding one of his to my 2nd 100.

My next 5:
Joan Jett, Up Your alley
Joe Satriani, Surfing With the Alien
John Lee Hooker, As most of my collection of his revolves around individual songs, I would have to choose one of his albums at random. Though, one of his albums would be required to be on the list.
John Scofield, same as John Lee Hooker
Johnny Winter, Scorchin' Blues

Michael Giltz said...

I totally dig Kaiser Chiefs, Shriner, and not just their debut. Great live, too!

Oh please, no one cool EVER lists Sgt Pepper. They do argue over Rubber Soul vs Revolver or get clever by picking the sprawling White Album or the too glossy for most finale Abbey Road. But Sgt Pepper? It would be like a film critic naming Citizen Kane as their personal pick of all time. It happens in SURVEYS because people aren't dumb enough to leave it off their top ten, but no one w street cred names Sgt Pepper. Hmm....

I love the Stanton Moore because of your enthusiasm Sal. And I clearly need to hear more XTC, a band I never warmed up to particularly despite liking Skylarking and Oranges & lemons and this and others from that post-English Settlement (talk about chilly!) period.

Now here are my five dorkiest albums, albums I'm pretty sure no one else would include. Certainly no one who reads Burnwood and thus has good taste!

46. David Gray – White Ladder First of all, I love this album. It’s a wonderful pop record and while I’ve enjoyed other songs and parts of other albums by Gray, this was clearly a once in a lifetime fluke, both in terms of its massive worldwide success and its greatness. This wasn’t a breakthrough, it was a moment. And then it was gone. I bought it in London at Tower Records **sniff** simply because the cover looked like an image from the opera “Einstein On The Beach.” An album cool enough to echo that opera was alright by me. Turns out that was happenstance, but it’s a very sturdy collection of songs indeed. But what makes this really special for me is that this album was a full proof favorite for EVERYONE that I gave it to – it was the Norah Jones “Come Away From Me” pop record no one had heard of and my sisters liked it and my editors liked it and my friends liked it and my aunt liked it. I mean, I gave this to people and started looking at my watch…it never failed because a day or a week or a month or six months later every single one of them would take the time to call or reach out and say how much they LOVED this album and please what should they listen to next. It was my equivalent to the scene in “High Fidelity” where they played The Three E.P.s by Beta Band and immediately sold copies. I know, it’s not a masterpiece; this is just easy listening in the non-pejorative sense of the word (if there IS a non-pejorative sense of “easy listening.”)


Michael Giltz said...

47. Al Stewart – Between The Wars What could be less cool than a concept album? A concept album by the guy who wrote “Year Of The Cat?” But this album set between the wars (not Iraq and Afghanistan, kids! WW I and WW II!) just worked for me. The time period suited his lyrical style and brought out the best in his melodies and I’ve never been much of a fan before or since but there you go.


48. Drake Bell – It’s Only Time Who? What?? This actor was a star on the Nick show “Drake & Josh” and like the guy Brian Austin Green on “Beverly Hills 90210” and the other Drake on “DeGrassi,” he harbored dreams of music. His first album worked through Bell’s Springsteen/Melencamp influences. His third album paid homage to rockabilly and featured Brian Setzer and is pretty credible. But this his second album is filled with Beatle-esque pop and as Shriner said, it ain’t easy to write Beatle-esque pop songs. Swear to god Drake Bell pulls it off here. I flipped out, kept playing and kept playing it waiting for me to come to my senses. I still haven’t. I’m quite certain Drake Bell and even Drake Bell’s mom aren’t as big fans of this album as me. What can I say? I do think when the guy works through all his influences that he could find a voice and be really good. And OMG! He has a new album coming out this year!!


49. Pink Floyd – The Final Cut Yet ANOTHER concept album! Again, what could be dorkier? I find Roger Waters solo to be generally a drag. I find much of “The Wall” a drag too, frankly, despite the singles and moments of beauty on it. (This is a hell of a lot more listenable than that double album.) God help me I bought “The Pros and Cons Of Hitchhiking” (on cassette probably) because of “Dark Side” and this and Roger’s many flaws kept me from digging in earlier into the other excellent Floyd albums. But I always appreciated their last album which was his unofficial first solo album. It’s haunted by war and bitter political digs by the band keep Roger’s more tiresome tendencies in check and the melodies are great and sure it’s a concept album but it’s a very loose one and I find the songs very strong and the overall effect quite moving. It’s much better than anything he did on his own but not as good as Floyd at their best and of course they disown it and he kind of disowns it so it’s fallen through the cracks.


Michael Giltz said...

Con't cause I type fast and a lot.

50. Billy Joel – An Innocent Man Ahh, I said dorky and I mean dorky. Sure Middle America would have Billy Joel on their Top 100 but not real music buffs who despise the guy. Is it his fault he was as commercially successful and omnipresent as Phil Collins was for one brief shining…decade? No, it is not. I’ve been very wrong about Joel. I always thought he’d be remembered as a songwriter but no one gives a damn about his catalog of songs. They’re not interesting melodically to jazz artists and except for maybe two tunes (“New York State Of Mind” and “She’s Got A Way”) absolutely no one sings any of them. Somehow, no matter who sings them they still remain stamped with Billy Joel. Standards they’re not, don’t ask me why. (“Cause they SUCK!”) yeah, shut up; make up your own list. I have another Joel album I’ll mention later but I think this one is dorkier, his homage to the songs of his youth. Except for one slightly unwelcome mix on one tune, it’s a great album with great tunes, one hummable little bastard after another. “Easy Money” is a rocking opener. The title track is epic and haunting. “The Longest Time” is impeccable doo wop. “This Night” movies like the Four Seasons with its build-up, though Joel says it’s Little Anthony and the Imperials. “Tell her About It” could indeed have been performed on Ed Sullivan and is a catchy charmer. I could go on but you’re begging for mercy. “Christie Lee” is a weak track, but the only one. Not bad for ten tracks, including the gorgeous “Leave A Tender Moment Alone.” Oh sure, go on hating you haters. What did he ever do but write some catchy songs, deliver solid shows and make a lot of money while being pretty damn true to his calling? Is that so bad?


Joe said...

I love this thread Sal. It made me dust off some records that have not been played in a while, purchased a few, check out some on utube or spotify. All good. I also enjoy the other entries from the group.

Of course, at the end of the series, I would love to say "WTF, you didn't X,Y or Z on your list!!!! Music is so personal that it makes rational folks a little nutty at times.

It would also be fun to see you top 100 too, just a listing since most of the records will be well know to us all.

In any case, enjoying this immensley. joe