Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The Other 100: 61-65

61. Fairport Convention-Unhalfbricking

I have sung the praises of both Richard Thompson and Sandy Denny many times on these pages. RT, for his otherworldly guitar playing and Miss Denny for having one of the purest voices in music. But it is on "Unhalfbricking" where the entire crew of Fairport Convention rise up for one of the greatest records of all time. The band's version of Dylan's "Percy's Song" is definitive. And you'd be hard-pressed to find a song more beautiful than "Who Knows Where The Time Goes."

62. Al Green- I'm Still In Love With You

Between 1971-1975, the Reverend Al Green was a hit machine, releasing six near-perfect soul records helmed by the master, Willie Mitchell as producer and backed by the amazing Hi Rhythm Section. I can't say for certain if any of these records appear on the usual 100 lists, but in my mind, they do not. As wonderful as these records are, it wasn't difficult to pick a favorite. 1972's "I'm Still In Love With You" is the one. "Let's Stay Together" might be Al Green's signature tune, but if I can't have them all, I want the one with "Love & Happiness" and "For The Good Times," and "Simply Beautiful," which is a stunner," and "Look What You Done For Me" and of course, the title track. Damn! Might have to listen to this right now!

63. World Party- Goodbye Jumbo

Karl Wallinger is a genius, and that may be the problem. Releasing only 5 records in 30 years might also be the problem. As leader of World Party, Wallinger has created a perfect hybrid of his favorite artists- John Lennon, Bob Dylan, Jeff Lynne and Prince, and on 1990's "Goodbye Jumbo," he nailed the recipe. This is a perfect record, with nary a stinker in the lot. Sure, occasionally he's a bit too much like his heroes, making it difficult to separate the brilliance from parody. But if you had to have one, "Goodbye Jumbo" covers all the bases.

64. CC Adcock & The Lafayette Marquis

About 5 years before my first trip to New Orleans, a CD had been floating around my shop.  It was priced, along with hundreds of others that I knew nothing about, and it sat in the used bins for months, until an employee pulled it out and put it on.  I was transformed. I truly had never heard anything like this before. It felt like it could be a Rolling Stones record of "Exile" outtakes, but with a distinctive, southern feel. It was CC Adcock. I played that CD non-stop, until I finally made it to New Orleans where I got to see and hear CC in person for the first time. In 2004, CC released his sophomore record and it was even better. "CC Adcock & The Lafayettee Marquis" kicks off with a filthy groove and never lets up. This is Cajun rock, southern soul, swampy R&B, country ballads and dirty-ass rock and roll. It is one of my essential New Orleans records and one still gets heavy rotation 13 years later.

65. Bad Brains- I Against I

The Bad Brains debut might be the greatest hardcore record ever released, though it is much more than that. But it is their 1986 release, "I Against I" that perfects the formula of punk, funk, metal and reggae. Jimmy Page-like riffs played with ferocity. Dub grooves that are so deep, you might lose your shoes. And balls-out energy and passion that will make your speakers sweat. Seeing the Brains live at CBGBs took years off of my life. I still haven't recovered. But if the term "hardcore" scares you, I suggest "I Against I," if you're curious.













Dave said...

Love the CC Alcock, which is totally new to me. Thanks, Sal.

Dave F

rick said...

The first version I ever heard of "Who Knows Where the Time Goes" was the one by Judy Collins, and I liked it well enough; but then I heard Sandy Denny, and I was transported to some other place. I could listen to it every day. Meanwhile, three of these five albums I've never heard of. Not merely never heard, but never even heard of. What?!? My musical education continues...(oh, and a quick shout out in favor of Arlo Guthrie's cover of Percy's Song)

Anonymous said...

CC sounds like Tony Joe White with a fuzzbox.

Ramones - Too Tough to Die (Tommy introduces the band to hardcore)
Ellen Foley - Nightout (a Hunter/Ronson production)
M83 - Saturdays=Youth
Code Blue - s/t
Sutherland Brothers & Quiver - Reach for the Sky

Charlie Messing said...

Once again wonderful choices, Sal. I now know Unhalfbricking (thanks to AMPM) and agree, I know the Bad Brains, saw them 3 or 4 times - always great - I tell stories another time. Glad to know which of their LPs is best - I also want to hear that ROIR live one, still haven't. On to Al Green - also agree - what a rhythm section, too - one of the best ever, as you know. I don't know the other two artists, will have to check them out - must go off to work now. Rock on with your bad self! Thanks again.

Shriner said...

My turn again. Still have not picked a Raspberries record...

61) DEVO -- Duty Now For The Future. Debut album is Top 100. This is another example of a band who clearly had 20+ songs for and picked the best dozen for their debut -- but this followup, though not as well produced, is just as great. "Wiggly World" was one of those first songs I worked out when I learned guitar. The first 2 DEVO albums are very, very heavily guitar-based and that's not one of those things people think about when they think of the band and that's a shame -- some very inventive stuff there.

62) Rocky Horror Picture Show -- Film soundtrack. Continuing on for my love of rock musicals, this one makes the list. It's funny, it's catchy, and Tim Curry sings the hell out of his songs. Maybe the movie plays in my head when I listen to it (i.e., Nesmith's comments about songs being "Movies of the Mind"), but it's a favorite album. Let's do the Time Warp again, indeed!

63) The Plimsouls -- "Beach Town Confidential: Live at the Golden Bear 1983" This one took some thought. I considered the first Peter Case solo album (which is also great.) I considered "Everywhere At Once" (because it has A Million Miles Away on it -- I mean, come on!) I considered the debut -- because it's one of those early 80s albums that just rocks and blew me away when I first heard it, but I went back to this fairly recently released live set for two reasons: (1) it's recorded *great* -- just listen to the bottom end! and (2) it includes the only recorded band performance of the brilliant "Who's Gonna Break The Ice?". This was one of the (many) bands I discovered only after they had broken up and I regret never having been able to see them live because clearly they were a force live.

64) Pat Benatar -- Crimes of Passion. Somebody's whose debut would *not* be in my top 100. So why this album? Remove the big hit singles from this album -- and it's still solid. Side two (which has none of the hit songs on it) is better than you would think. The hypnotic "Never Wanna Leave You" sandwiched between the big hit songs on side one, is one of my favorite Benatar songs of all time -- feels like a throwaway, but it's not. And I love the cover of Wuthering Heights and the closer of Out-A-Touch was something the band I was in covered because it's a great constructed song (great break, great guitar solo *and modulation* -- a lot of my favorite songs have modulation in them -- it's underused in song construction, IMO...) And Myron Grombacher!

65) Glen Campbell -- Ghost On The Canvas. People talk about Johnny Cash's final recordings with respect and wonder. Glen Campbell meant more to me than Johnny Cash (though I don't deny Cash's influence, by any means.) Does this album work if you don't know the history behind it? I don't know. But for somebody to knowingly go out with an album a strong as this one is deserved a spot in my list. The title track is one of Paul Westerberg's best songs, IMO. It's the only "country-ish" album in my second 100 (I consider the Roches album "folk...). "Meet Glen Campbell" is great, too..., but that was a covers album and this was all new material.

66 through 70 -- will be all women -- all the time! I think when I'm done, maybe 20% of my albums will either be all-female bands, solo female artists, or woman-fronted bands. I don't know if I was expecting that percentage...

Chris Collins said...

I'm gonna go listen to the Al Green album today as well. For sure.

And I just pulled out Bad Brains for the first time in forever about a week ago. I can't remember the last time I listened to them. I love them so.

I forget what number I'm up to. so I'm just doing 5 more

1. Aerosmith- "Pump". A sleaze-rock masterpiece. No joke. "Even Tipper thinks I'm alllllll right" Steven Tyler cackles, while surfing about the 25th hook of the album, 10 minutes in. And it keeps that pace up. "Janie's Got A Gun" packs a real punch (I'll never forget listening to a stadium full of teenagers sing along with it in 1990). If someone told me that "The Other Side" (the 4th!!!! single) was a reworked Otis Redding song I would have totally bought it. "My Girl" swings like Chuck Berry. "Voodoo Medicine Man" warns of impending environmental apocalypse, even before Al Gore (who really should have worked "Masturbating with a noose" into "An Inconvenient Truth") and even the ballad is good. Great stuff.

2. Living Colour- "Times Up"- Even better than the great debut. The title track thrashes like Bad Brains. "This Is the Life" rocks like pure Zeppelin. The highlight, though, is "Elvis Is Dead", which is funky AND swings, thanks to Maceo Parker and a rap (!!!) from Little Richard.

3. Bonnie Raitt- "Longing In their Hearts" - "Nick of Time" won all the grammies. The follow up "Luck of the Draw" had the big hits, but "Longing In Their Hearts" is her masterpiece. Sad, funny, beautiful and knowing. It's a career album in every way. The title track is a beaut. "You" is one of the loveliest songs she ever recorded. And songs like "Circle Dance" and "Cool, Clear Water" are some of the best of her career.

4. The Black Crowes- "Amorica". No hits. In fact, this album ENDED their hit-making career. And the "hustler" cover of a woman's bush covered in the American flag made sure the album tanked. I might listen to "The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion" more, but "Amorica" hits harder. It's a stoned, road-weary album in every way. But it's when the Crowes turned into one of the great (albeit under-appreciated) bands . "Wiser Time" is the stand out for me. But any of these beautiful songs will do. I love this album

5. Prince- "Batman"- Laugh all you want. But "The Future" and "Electric Chair" sizzle. "The Arms of Orion" is a cool ballad. "Vicky Waiting" and "Partyman" are great fun and "Batdance" is funky stuff.

Sal Nunziato said...

@Chris- my fave track on that stellar Bonnie record is "Steal Your Heart Away." Makes me melt every time.

itsok2beright said...

Most of this stuff is way over my head, so direct comments are non-existent. Time to dig up some possible new-old tunes to listen to.

For my 61-65:

Lovin' Spoonful, Do You Believe in Magic (Top 100 already?)
Lulu, Together (We already had our discussion of Lulu)
Mad Season, Above
Mahogany Rush, Stange Universe
Marvin Gaye, What's Going On? (Top 100 already?)

Sal Nunziato said...

What's Going On is probably Top 3!

itsok2beright said...

Ok, just checked and according to Rolling Stone, it's number 6.

But, not according to Billboard.

So, I'll put "In The Groove" as my choice.

I'm working too hard today. I should do something easy, like sell records, lol.

Michael Giltz said...

I love Sal’s first three picks and would happily include them on my list though now I’m just as lucky to go farther afield to find more gems. You know my love for all things Richard Thompson and Fairport Convention was my first introduction to that band and Sandy Denny. Way to start at the top. Again, I think I get a little thrown because I was such a dutiful, list-taking kid. Back when Rolling Stone mattered, I saved their special issues with The Best Albums Of All Time (or the 1970s or whatever) and dutifully worked my way through them. I certainly didn’t agree with everything but I sure as heck wanted to hear everything they said was of import. And that’s where I first spotted stuff like Brian Eno’s “Another Green World” and “Unhalfbricking” and Nick Drake, to RS’s credit. Most of them weren’t in the Top 100 of course. And my point is how great these lists are, whatever your criteria. They send music lovers off into a hundred different directions. I for one need to hear CC Adcock. I doubt I’ll ever embrace Bad Brains but I’ve got to give them a try now, don’t I?

In honor of seeing the godawful musical “Come From Away” just seven seats away from the boyishly handsome Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Katrina and the Waves – Katrina and the Waves Once upon, I was the editor of my college paper’s entertainment section. (Little did I know it would be the peak of happiness professionally since we could cover whatever we wanted, got paid enough to live on and were happy as clams. One of my writers was worried about his review of this album, already printed. Was he too enthusiastic? Too over the top in praise? I said, no! First, he rarely went gaga over albums with hyperbole, so he’d built up some goodwill – this guy doesn’t praise every album to high heavens so when he does, you can take him seriously. Second, Katrina and the Waves (which was a compilation of two earlier albums or at least pulled tracks from one and added new ones or something like that) was thoroughly straightforward pop music, no muss or fuss. Go crazy for some ambient trip hop or experimental out-there bright shiny new thing and yeah, ten years from now it might sound dated and you’d wonder what the hell you were thinking. (I’m looking at you, shamefaced fans of Digable Planets, not that folk like you would read Burnwood.) This stuff is built to last, I said. Great melodies, great vocals, no fuss. You know what? He was right! I was right! This album is still a pleasure every time I spin it. They never fulfilled their promise but they did enough good stuff down the road to keep my interest once in a while. And for one brief moment they were on top of the world, indeed walking on…. Ha! Now it’s playing in your head, isn’t it?

Neil Young – Harvest Moon I know we’re supposed to love “Harvest.” But I think the album as a whole isn’t nearly as good as the vibe he created. I generally love Neil Young in his pastoral mode and this gentle follow up (and “Silver & Gold”) is to my ears the stronger album. Plus, friends stole the title track and used it as their wedding song, which was pretty damn perfect.

Michael Giltz said...

Kd lang Hymns Of The 49th Parallel My second 100 is filled with kd lang because I think her catalog is so deep. Here she pays tribute to fellow Canadians. Brilliant songs and a brilliant voice that is deeply in sync with the lyrics. Rarely has a voice this stupendous been used with such restraint and grace – and not just here, throughout her career. If I could sing like that, my god would I over sing the shit out of everything! Yet another covers album that proves what a vital wonderful thing it is.

Leonard Cohen – Various Positions Jennifer Warnes taught me to love Leonard Cohen and after her tribute album I dove into this album. It wasn’t until the wonderful “I’m Your Man” that Cohen was back on top and really bigger than ever commercially. Let me rephrase that. This is the album where Cohen BECAME great for the first time. His debut (which has a startlingly different voice, it’s as if his testicles hadn’t dropped yet) is brilliant. I first heard it via Robert Altman’s “McCabe & Mrs. Miller, a brilliant film whose use of Cohen’s music throughout was so bizarre a choice and yet so perfect. Everything after that is pretty much crap. Seriously. Not just the Phil Spector train wreck but all of it – “Songs From A Room,” “Songs Of Love & hate,” “New Skin For The Old Ceremony,” “Death Of A Ladies’ Man” and even “Recent Songs.” All of them have some good songs, some of them are ok and you can see him coming to life and finding his pop voice on “Recent.” But it’s really “Various Positions” (which has Jennifer Warnes all over it, credited with co-vocals on eveyr track) where Cohen sounds like a songwriter, as opposed to a poet who accidentally picked up a guitar and began strumming a few chords while declaiming his work to an audience of swooning women (and men). It’s the second half of his career where Cohen became an important artist and it starts here.

Kate and Anna McGarrigle – Heartbeats Accelerating Which album by this delightful French duo (and mother and aunt to Rufus and Martha Wainwright) is under-appreciated? I saw their debut and second album on some Rolling Stone Best Of list which again caused me to check them out. So I’ll choose this late career gem which has such a great lineup of songs and the pop smarts to back it up. The only bummer is I don’t get to name-check the awesome title track from “Matapedia” but then I just did.

Chris Collins said...

Michael, I prever "Harvest Moon" to "harvest" as well.

Shriner said...

I thought about "Harvest Moon". I think the first 6 songs are killer (much like the first 6 songs on the Kaiser Chiefs album on my list), but then it peters out. "Freedom" might be on my Top 100 in it's place.

Michael Giltz said...

Thanks Chris! Good to know I'm not out on the limb alone. :)

Dr Wu said...

Lovin' this game! Forever regretful that I didn't submit the Plimsouls - but, eternally grateful someone did. And one I hadn't heard, so thank you for that. Same goes for World Party, though that album is deservedly in frequent rotation. Also, happy that Pat Benatar and Devo got some respect. I finally got around to reviewing the Rolling Stone 100 greatest albums - it's truly amazing what's NOT found on that list. I've always just assumed that those Eno albums made the cut. And how does Al Green not take up the first five spots? Continuing with albums by artists that others haven't mentioned already and albums I listen to all the time, here we are:

Maria McKee 'You Gotta Sin to Get Saved'
Go-Go's 'Beauty and the Beat'
Franz Ferdinand 'S/T' - second best Scottish band of the new millennium(?)
The Replacements 'Tim' (Remastered only) - barely edging out 'Pleased to Meet Me'
Hoodoo Gurus 'Stoneage Romeos' - love 'Mars Needs Guitars!', but you never forget your first.

Everyone's selections and comments are both enlightening and entertaining. Thanks for letting me play.

steve simels said...

Particularly appreciated the Fairport and World Party tracks.

neal t said...

I have similar experiences with CC. Had first one forever but didn't listen till second came out. Saw him at Jazz Fest twice. Chatted with his late producer. C C was house band at the best of the 3 or 4 Pondarosa Stomps I've seen. Kept the show rolling seamlessly through a variety of old stars. Lil' Band o' Gold worth a listen also.

ken49 said...

Leige and Leif will always be my favorite Fairport but Unhalfbricking is not far behind with the songs previously mentioned as highlights but must include A Sailor's Life in the same breath. It is definitely a precursor to Leige and Leif. I had been attempting to assemble an Exile on Main Street comp built around songs that sound like they belong on that album but had kind of forgotten about it. Sounds like CC Adcock belongs on that comp and I might have to resurrect it.