Sunday, April 2, 2017

The Other 100: 71-75

71. The Move-Shazam

Here in the USA, The Move are too often referred to as the band Jeff Lynne played with before forming ELO. They seem to be that odd cousin who is likable enough, but still never gets picked to play on the team, even though they had 9 top 20 singles in the U.K.. I guess releasing only 4 albums, each with a completely different sound than the other, might have something to do with it. But it is still no excuse to cast off four of the most amazing records in music history, as if there was not enough to compete with the heavies. If the coffin was wide enough, all four would come with me when I die. But it is "Shazam" that you will have to physically tear from my arms. Six songs, three of them covers of folk and pop tunes turned into psychedelic epics, "Shazam" is all about the mad genius that is Roy Wood, one of the great voices of all time in Carl Wayne, and a rhythm section that rivaled Jonesy and Bonzo in Rick Price and Bev Bevan. There is not a bad clam in the half dozen. As a matter of fact, "Shazam" is about as perfect as a late 60's, eccentric, psychedelic, pop, metal record gets.

72. Cheap Trick- Cheap Trick

And speaking of The Move, no U.S. band has ever paid tribute to or has recognized the genius of Roy Wood and The Move, as much as Cheap Trick. The band has covered "Brontosaurus," "Down On The Bay" and "California Man," as well as Roy Wood's "Rock & Roll Tonight." I might be missing one or two, if you count live performances. I've been a Cheap Trick fan since their 1977 debut, though I will admit, their hits, especially "I Want You To Want Me," "The Flame," and "If You Want My Love," are my least favorite songs by the band. 40 years later, it is their debut that still continues to do it for me. It feels the most like The Move, with real heavies like their Terry Reid cover or "Taxman, Mr. Thief," and the beauty that is "Mandocello." Throughout, Robin Zander, who might just be the be the greatest rock vocalist still working today, reaches for the stars, and the band never abandons their knack for hooks and melody. This is the one.

73. Sam Cooke- Night Beat

Sam Cooke's 1963 masterpiece, might be on the usual critics list of all time best records, but I'm taking a chance and including it anyway. Sue me. How can you pick one? So many hits and really, no bad records. Even Cooke's early pop records for the Keen label have one amazing thing going for them, Sam Cooke. But it's "Night Beat" that you can really feel in your bones and soul. A late night session that simply smokes. The record works for me on a Sunday morning or on a Saturday night. It's gospel and blues, and it's an artist surrounded by some of the best-- Barney Kessel, Hal Blaine, Billy Preston--in an intimate setting that welcomes anyone who will allow themselves to be taken in.

74. Beastie Boys- Paul's Boutique

And here is where I lose many of you. "I hate rap." "Rap is not music." "It's called the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame." Yeah, yeah! Tell it to the Marines. "Paul's Boutique" is a masterwork. It is a piece of art. It is a party record. It's got a good beat and you can dance to it. And if could find the patience and a little reason, you will hear the genius in the words of Mike Diamond, Adam Horowitz and the late, great Adam Yauch, not to mention the brilliance in their choices of sampling and mashing-up.

75. Sparks- Kimono My House

There are few as odd as the Brothers Mael. For over 40 years, Russell and Ron Mael have been making some of the smartest...and weirdest records as Sparks. Yes, this band is an acquired taste. I won't deny that. You are either in or you're out. I've been in since 1974's "Kimono My House," a masterpiece of glam, that sounds like nothing else before, and not much since. "Kimono My House" is never a bore and it never slows down. "This Town Ain't Big Enough For The Both Of Us," "Amateur Hour," "Talent Is An Asset" and "Falling In Love With Myself Again" have become glam standards. All four of Sparks records for the Island label are essential, but this one comes with me.


Joelhb53 said...

Once again, Sal, you hit the bullseye. Shazam is one album I have in every format.

Anonymous said...

I've seen lists of rap albums putting "Paul's Boutique" in the top 10 of all time, so I've had trouble pulling the trigger on it. It's one of a kind.

Frankie Miller - Full House
Pink Floyd - Obscured by Clouds
Urge Overkill - Exit the Dragon
David Mulcahy - Oddy Knocky
Tim Buckley - Blue Afternoon

Alan said...

Hi Sal. With regard to the Beastie Boys and the "I hate rap" party poopers: Nick Tosches wrote a book about country music called "The Biggest Music in America." That's no longer true, it's hiphop. You've got to fight... For your right... to PAR-TEE! (Love the Beasties.)

Michael Giltz said...

I love country and rap music! I'm with Anonymous -- "Paul's Boutique" is one of the all-time greats and would be on any sane person's list! I was trying to figure out what album beyond that and their debut to highlight. And Paul's Boutique is so sonically rich I do think it's one of those rap albums that transcends and speaks to everyone. And double yes to "Night Beat" by Sam Cooke, which I liked to pretend was my own secret revelation. Are there other studio albums of his to tout as leagues above? Or is it all about the greatest hits? "Night Beat" is tremendous and is it possible I bought it at NYCD? I think it's unfair to lump the godawful, atypical ballad "The Flame" with the energetic fun of "I Want You To Want Me." They're not even in the same time zone, quality wise however much you may be bored by/indifferent to the latter.

Sal Nunziato said...

I'd like to believe that Paul's Boutique speaks to everyone. It should, just like NRBQ should. But they don't. I thought this Beasties record might have appeared on a usual 100, that wasn't genre specified, but I've been disappointed before, so I went with it.

Michael Giltz said...


Frank Sinatra – Come Fly With Me I could list ten absolutely classic studio albums by Sinatra and still not necessarily get to “Come Fly With Me.” Actually, that’s not true. Maybe I could list five before getting there (“In The Wee Small Hours,” the bossa nova Sinatra-Jobim, “Songs For Swinging Lovers,” “Only The Lonely,” and…actually it has to be in my top five though that ignores his Columbia years and his Tommy Dorsey years and the EPs scrunched together to be albums like “Swing Easy” and the Reprise. But when it comes to finger-snapping, ring-a-ding-ding Sinatra, his collaboration with producer/arranger Billy May peaked right here in my book with this themed album of songs about travel and exotic ports of call. It’s sheer joy from the opening title track right down to the mellow closer. I may have played this more than any other Sinatra album and that’s saying something because I play Sinatra a lot.

Donald Fagen – The Nightfly The Steely Dan catalog is pretty great and everyone I assume would have “Aja” on their list. Oddly, I worked my way into the group probably beginning with this solo album/Steely Dan in all but name work. Meticulous production of the sort that made the hearts of geeks skip a beat back in the early days of digital CDs, caustic lyrics but here with a layering of nostalgia that provided a modest bit of warmth perhaps lacking from Steely Dan, great melodies and arrangements. Little did I realize this was the end, since his later solo albums and Steely Dan efforts were of varying quality but none remotely as good as the band at their best…or this.

Brian Wilson and Van Dyke Parks – Orange Crate Art I’ve always been rightly suspicious of solo Brian Wilson. Weirdly, his background vocals sound just as heavenly as ever, multi-tracked right up to heaven while his lead vocals sound increasingly creaky and almost painful at times. Most of the solo albums have not stood the test of time, no matter how much one wanted to imagine he was recapturing past glory. For me, the two exceptions are “Smile” (which really was pretty great) and this official collaboration with long-time compatriot Van Dyke Parks. I could have also gone with solo albums by Parks, confident no one was gonna have “Jump!” or “Discover America” on their first 100. But I landed here, perhaps because it does feel like a meeting of minds and specifically different from what Wilson would do on a Beach Boys or “official” solo album.

Michael Giltz said...

71-75 con't

Bill Withers -- +justments What a tremendous catalog Bill Withers can boast. I refuse to live in a world where one of the greatest debut albums of all time isn’t on the First 100, so I’m ignoring “Just As I Am,” which is so damn good and feels absolutely fresh even now. Getting a two-fer CD with “Just As I Am” and the excellent follow-up “Still Bill” is one of the best buys anyone can make, almost the equal of Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On/Let’s Get It On.” Truly his entire body of work is strong; if he drifted down a tad from that initial peak, well who wouldn’t? His third album “+justments” is stellar, with a sense of place more typical for fiction than pop music. The closer “Railroad Man” never fails to put a smile on my face.

Harry Connick Jr 20 -- Oh such promise he had! Connick went astray first by thinking he should be delivering entire albums of originals. When you’re playing in the songbook field, finding material to stand alongside Gershwin and Porter is NOT easy. Sure Michael Buble sells albums but he hasn’t managed it either. Even Sinatra stuck to finding maybe one original for a title track and album-setting opener before going back to Berlin and Ellington and the rest. (Actually, he didn’t sing much Ellington, did he?) And then Connick got so confused he even rapped on an album I think had something to do with a turtle. Once the hope of big band fans everywhere, he’s a fine actor and now hosting a bland but unobjectionably talk show. But once upon a time he debuted with “20,” an album that won’t be on anyone’s first 100, not even if you’re focused on jazz or big band or vocalists, I imagine. But it’s a treat, almost entirely just Connick on the piano, backed by bass on one track, by Dr. John on organ for another and doing a duet with both John and another with Carmen McRae. Just a clutch of standards, leaning towards New Orleans naturally and peaking with an excellent cover of “If I Only Had A Brain” from “The Wizard Of Oz” that mined the mournful lyrics of a tune usually delivered in a bright and silly style akin to the film. And he recorded it when he was 20! Then he delivered the album “25” and later “30,” each recorded essentially when he was that age. Each was mostly Connick at the piano, covering the classics. To me, this was now a ritual, a promise…a CONTRACT, Mr. Harry Connick Jr. They’re the three best albums he’s recorded and probably his legacy. So where the heck is “35,” “40,” “45” and after he turns 50 this September, yes “50.” I never interviewed him and I think he avoided me because he knew that would be my first question and guilt forced him to avoid my stern condemnation. I like to imagine that he recorded the music at those ages and they’re in the vaults but yeah, we know that’s not true. But it’s not too late! “50” is calling to you, Harry. Dance with the lady that brung you, sit down at the piano and do some more standards please.

Michael Giltz said...

Oh i wasn't asking you to justify it in the sense of "of course it would be on the First 100." It's not like claiming Jimi Hendrix "Are You Experienced" is overlooked. I'm sure people are dumb enough to overlook "Paul's Boutique." Maybe they include "Licensed To Ill" an and stop there, or prefer the punkier "Ill Communication" or who knows what. But you're absolutely right that "Paul's Boutique" is amazing.

Shriner said...

Ack. A weekend post. Almost missed it so a quick set of commentary on my next 5...

71) Nick Lowe -- Jesus of Cool. Latter day Nick Lowe doesn't do a lot for me (sorry!), but this is just a great album (and I'm referring to the recent reissue). "And So It Goes", "Cruel To Be Kind" and the one of the world's best songs ever: "Rollers Show". I won't go as far as to say "this is the only Nick Lowe you need" (for the sake of our host), but "Labour of Love" is where it ends for me.

72) REM -- Automatic for the People. This one might be on some top-100 lists, but my top 100 would contain the first two albums instead (and the EP). This one is one of those really popular (well, as far as it goes) albums that I really really like alot. "Ignoreland" is one of my favorite songs by the band.

73) Flight of the Conchords -- Flight of the Conchords. I've mentioned my love of comedy music previously and this one holds up to repeated listening. The pause after "my lyrics are bottomless" in "Hiphopopotamus vs. Rhymenoceros" still cracks me up.

74) The Alarm -- Declaration. Anthems out the wazoo. Though I think the single version of "68 Guns" is better than the version on the album, I played the crap out of this when I bought it and I still haven't tired of it. Their subsequent albums have a lot of solid moments, but this is one of those great debut albums.

75) Meat Loaf -- Bat Out Of Hell. It's everything everybody has ever said about it: bombastic, operatic, hated, successful -- but I loved it from the first time I heard it. Meat backed up by Utopia and Roy Bittan. "There ain't no Coupe De Ville hiding at the bottom of a Cracker Jack box", indeed.

Sal Nunziato said...

When Fountains Of Wayne's debut was released, I played that baby 5 times a day until the follow-up, "Utopia Parkway" was released and then I played that 6 times a day. I also got into an argument with a relative that turned ugly and we didn't speak for years. It really wasn't about about FOW, just like Chazz Palminteri didn't kill that guy in "A Bronx Tale" over a parking spot. But the fact remains, he hated the debut but loved "Utopia Parkway" and I simply couldn't comprehend that. It wasn't as if the debut was a funk record and the follow-up was a Merseybeat record. They are the same. Maybe one has better songs, but loving vs. hating still does not make sense to me, in this situation.

What am I getting at? This:

"I won't go as far as to say "this is the only Nick Lowe you need" (for the sake of our host), but "Labour of Love" is where it ends for me."

Shriner, I do hope you don't mind when I react, I mean, your comments seemed designed to get a rise out of both me and the readers. While there is a difference between, say pre-Impossible Bird Nick Lowe and post-Impossible Bird Nick Lowe, I can't understand dismissing everything since 1979. I mean, that is an entire career. Speaking as a fan of just about every Nick Lowe record, I wouldn't even place "Labour Of Love" in the Top 5. Okay, that is personal taste. Personally, I think 1990's "Party Of One" is better than all but the debut. Again, personal taste. But what makes 35 years of Nick Lowe music unappealing to someone who loves his first two as you do? I don't get that at all.

Shriner said...

My comments -- when I make them -- are really how I feel about an artist. There are some artists where I *really really* like some of the stuff they do, but the rest of their catalog either (A) does zip for me or (B) is pleasant? Listenable?, but nowhere near as amazing as some of their other work (and in some cases forgettable).

Honest, I'm not trying to get a rise out of anybody (and certainly don't mind if anybody reacts!!!), but just giving my opinion that (I think?) may help somebody else get a better grip where my head is at when I list records I like on the off chance that they get where I'm coming from, you dig?

Related to Nick Lowe -- hey, Brinsely Schwarz? Rockpile? Those are great records. I just like his "power pop" stuff more than anything else he's done. I would probably place Joe Jackson in a similar vein -- and he's an artist I've listened to (almost) everything he's released, but his first two albums (and "Four") are probably the only albums I really, really like by him. The rest are *fine*, but nothing I go back to.

I think the larger answer to your question is that maybe I like a *style* of music and if/when the artist starts to deviate from that style, I lose interest? Nick Lowe "The Basher", interested me. Nick Lowe the folk singer/troubadour, not so much -- and I will admit that I haven't listened to everything post Labour of Love, so it's possible I've missed something. (Same thing when ELO moved away from using live strings -- it feels like a different band to me even though it's soooo similar.) REM without BIll Berry? Elvis Costello without Pete Thomas? (which I've mentioned before) -- same thing. I'm not saying anybody else shouldn't like them (well, OK, I did, but it was for my expression of what I was getting at for my tastes...) And, hey, I remember you trashing Re-ac-tor and I think that's one of Neil Young's best Crazy Horse albums. :-)

There are some artist/bands where a change in style transcends that (usual) rule, though (Bowie, XTC, Brian Setzer for an outlier -- and hey, I listed Costello with Burt Bacharach as one of my 2nd 100 -- jump to mind). What can I say, I'm a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma when it comes to what I like and don't?

Sorry for the long ramble. Does that help? Probably not, huh?

Shriner said...

And, yeah, I'm one of those who never got Paul's Boutique. I own the first 3 BB albums, but only the first and third ever get replayed in my house. Don't know why PB didn't speak to me, either. It just doesn't...

dogbreath said...

I'm too polite (read, wimp) to particuarly argue with people's personal choices, be they political, religious, musical, whatever. You know: my team's better than your team; my band's louder than your band (they are); my dad's bigger than your dad (he's not). I've enjoyed your choices so far, finding mostly common ground with just a few beyond my comprehension (the Beastie Boys, he says, to disbelieving gasps of shock and horror). Oh well. This quintuplet of albums will have me reaching for my copies of the Trick, Move and Sparks later on. Cheers for the ongoing lists!

itsok2beright said...

If I may, I'm going to add to Shriner's rise out of you. As much as I hate to possibly side with your cuz (it's usually a cold day in hell when I agree with him), but there can be something said of his theory.

Very often there can be two similar sounding songs, where the first is on my daily playlist and the second is lost on the back shelf somewhere. It is usually something completely intangible, but the second song just doesn't do it for me. It's missing something, and I can't put my finger on it. Now, when you have someone very opinionated, that thought can be expanded to a complete album. It could be the order of the songs, the production quality, the relative volume of the bass track, it could be something that you may never figure out; but, sometimes two very similar songs/albums will elicit completely different opinions from the same listener. Though, it's possible he said it purely just to piss you off.

No different than a baseball team that makes one insignificant trade in the off-season and goes from cellar dweller to the playoffs in one year. One little edit, one degree of change of trajectory, one year of maturity, really anything can change the result greatly. You know an album is a complex mix of artwork. It's never just a sim of the individual songs.

Ok, enough BS.

The Beasties are a great choice. My wife even complains to me that I am listening to rap. I tell her, "'dey ain't rap", in my best Brooklyn accent. We all know they are a lot more than rap.

My 71-75: (And, yes, my Nick Lowe pick was already there before your discussion above)
Mountain, Climbing! (The start of a great sound and transition from 60's flower to 70's rock.)
Muse, Black Holes and Revelations (Without trying to piss anyone off, I've called them the new Queen. Hard to explain the similarities, though there are very obvious differences. Their sound just reminds me of being at a Queen concert.)
Nazareth, Hair of the Dog (Possibly a top 100; nonetheless a tremendous 70's must have.)
Nick Lowe, Labour of Lust (So, I went with a pre-Impossible Bird)
Nine Inch Nails, Downward Spiral

Sal Nunziato said...

Please don't misunderstand me. I don't think you are deliberately trying to get a rise out of me. I love these discussions and your comments, intentionally or not, set them off. And believe it or not, your reply was helpful. As were itsok2bright's comments. I don't like the sound of a Fender Rhodes keyboard, so it wouldn't matter if Mozart was playing it. Still, for a thick-head like myself, I still don't get dismissing Nick Lowe after Labour Of Love.

And I also agree with you, itsok2brightm re: Muse.

buzzbabyjesus said...

I was going to be very disappointed if the first Cheap Trick, and "Shazamm" didn't show up here. Two of my all-time favorites. Cheap Trick, in a Hollywood club (The Starwood), touring this album, was one of the best shows I've ever seen. I still have at least one Rick Neilsen pick from it. They performed "Down On The Bay" to my surprise and delight.
And John Cale opened.

I get points for buying the Beastie Boys very first 12 inch of "Cookie Puss", and someday I'll hear "Paul's Boutique".

I don't know Sam Cooke that well, but I'll seek this one out. "Twistin The Night Away" is one of my favorite Rod Stewart/Ron Wood/Faces songs.

I've had a copy of "Kimono My House" since it came out, and even have the cd, and if I didn't hate the vocals so much, I'd enjoy those witty and perfect pop songs a lot more.

I didn't even really like "Labour Of Lust". My favorite Nick Lowe song is "Endless Sleep", from around the time of "Jesus of Cool". It's on the "Bowi" ep with "Shake That Rat".
Although Rockpile was one of the best bands I ever saw, I find most of the studio albums associated with Nick and Dave, with the exception of "Jesus/Pure Pop", as missing a certain something. I don't know what it is, except it's the reason I don't listen to them anymore.

Charlie Messing said...

Really nice choices, once again, Sal. [I'm not going to start listing my own favorite albums as some do.] I like all these, but don't know "Kimono" cause of the voices - always dug their concepts, and I almost got "Propaganda" just for the cover shots - brilliant! That Hitler mustache is pretty funny too - a mustache, skin and bones.
Sometimes likes or loves are just about what gives you what you need rather than about whether an artist hit a peak and declined - so I agree about Nick Lowe. All great - but there'll always be folks who love The Basher more than the Nick of decades after.
I find it hard to believe I sold Shazam when I was desperate for money, but when I see another I'm getting it. Night Beat - I wouldn't even know it except for you and AMPM and I love it. Paul's Boutique - I'm with you there too - I bought the cassette - someday I'll find the LP. The lyrics are microscopic, on about ten foldout pages...Rock on!

Michael Giltz said...

Maybe re Nick Lowe it's a case of diminishing returns? I mean, how can one like early Richard Thompson but dismiss everything after the 1980s? I mean, it's the same thing! Exactly. (Of course, I don't agree with that take on RT but I understand it.)

buzzbabyjesus said...

The difference between "Henry The Human Fly", "I Wanna See The Bright Lights Tonight", and RT from the '80's onward is that it has become a schtick. To my ears anyway. It might sound like the same thing exactly, but that's also the problem. I tried really hard to like "Electric", and I couldn't. Apparently I trashed the files already.

Part of the problem is I was already a fan when he went solo. I didn't even make it through "Shoot Out The Lights", except for that song.

Shriner said...

I would put Robyn Hitchcock into this category. I would say "it's the same exact thing" for his last dozen albums. But I haven't got tired of him like I did Elvis Costello. And I can't explain why. It's a mystery, indeed!

Dr Wu said...

Swore I'd already composed an insightful, articulate, and humorous addition to the conversation that made the world a better place. But, reading that sentence now, I know that couldn't have been me. I was turned onto Sparks by this site. Thank you! 'Paul's Boutique' is an absolute classic and a 'must' for the summer. I recall reading that the album could no longer be made today because of changes in sample clearances laws. Not sure that would be the only reason preventing it as it's also pure art.
And now with my next five...

Beck 'Odelay' - production by the Dust Brothers.
Tom Petty 'Wildflowers' - 'Crawling Back to You', enough said.
Portishead 'Dummy' - trip-hop cabaret.
Outkast 'Stankonia' - This is it for me!
Starsailor 'Love is Here'

Thanks for letting me play. I look forward to your cards and letters.

Chris Collins said...

I'm so in love with this list and the comments, I can't take it. I love that first Cheap Trick record with all my heart. "He's A Whore" is the real winner on that alum for me.

And I think I might actually listen to Harry Connick Jr today!!

And, Shriner, "Automatic For the People" is one of my top 5 albums ever.

I'm gonna contribute a few soon. But I love this topic so much

Chris Collins said...

Radom 5 more-

1. John Hiatt- "Stolen Moments- could have been any one of his trilogy of "Bring the Family", "Slow Turning" or "Stolen Moments", but I went with the last one because that was my entry point. I worked backwards from there. One of the great songwriters of the past 50 years. IMO. These three records are so warm, funny, sad, wise, hopeful and beautiful. I don't know anyone else who could write a song like "10 Little Indians" and make it work...

2. John Prine- "The Missing Years"....except John Prine. Who is a master and everyone knows it. Again, my entry point into a great artist's work. This record is guest heavy (Bruce, Bonnie, John Mellencamp, etc) but it's Prine's showcase. Amazing songs like "Picture Show" "All the Best" and "Unlonely" are as good as songs get.

3. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers "Into The Great Wide Open"- for my money the strongest collection of songs that TP and the boys ever released. "In The Dark Of the Sun" is a minor masterpiece.

4. Public Enemy "Fear of A Black Planet"- if you can include the Beasty Boys I can include PE. Although this might be an album that lands on a lot of Top 100 lists. And it should. It's a masterwork as important as "Never Mind the Bollocks". It literally changed the way I thought about the world.

5. Van Halen- "Diver Down"- If any VH gets included on any list, it's gonna be the debut. But this is my favorite album they made. The covers are super fun. Songs like "Hang up High" cook. The album flies by at 35 minutes and end with Dave laughing. Delighting himself, and us, at least for the moment. Their most fun record.