Monthly Archives: June 2009

Top 250 Albums of All-Time 209-200

#209 – Liquid Swords – Genius/GZA

GZA’s, Liquid Swords, was his second solo album but first a member of the Wu-Tang Clan & is considered to be one of the best Wu-Tang solo albums. Taking samples from Samurai movie “Shogun Assassin” it relies heavy on the Samurai mystique that the Wu-Tang Clan build their stylings on. Produced by RZA a long time follower of the Samurai genre himself he helped create a Rap masterpiece. Though, much like every other Wu-Tang artist’s solo efforts there are only a few tracks in which GZA performs singularly.

GZA – Liquid Swords

GZA – Shadowboxing

#208 – Help! – The Beatles

Help! was the soundtrack to The Beatles second movie which included 7 songs from the movie and 7 songs that were excluded from the movie. One of the most telling tracks of the Beatles future direction is “I’ve Just Seen a Face”. It is the beginning of the change the Beatles began to make away from the other British invasion acts & more towards a refined, experimental music style. The track is, essentially a country-western song with a fast tempo. When Paul was done composing it, the song became one of his Auntie Gin’s favorites thus the working title became “Auntie Gin’s Theme“. As for the more renowned, “Yesterday” originally titled “Scrambled Eggs”, Paul woke up one morning with the tune in his head & immediately began to put it down on the piano. It has since been covered over 1000 times.

The Beatles – Yesterday

The Beatles – I’ve Just Seen a Face

#207 – Appetite For Destruction – Guns N’ Roses

Since it’s release, in 1987, Appetite For Destruction has sold over twenty-eight million times & remains the fastest selling debut in history. It introduced the world to the guitar God that Slash would become & Axl Rose’s screaming singing style to a music scene that was being inundated with new wave acts. Many of the songs refer either to the chaos & debauchery of the L.A. rock scene, the reflection of younger years or various female companions. The brilliance of this album is owed as much to Slash’s phenomenal ability as it is to Axl Rose’s ability to make you feel like he’s literally singing in your room.

Guns N’ Roses – Sweet Child o’ Mine

Guns N’ Roses – Think About You

#206 – Some Girls – The Rolling Stones

My first introduction to the Rolling Stones as a kid was hanging out at my buddy Oscar’s house & he’d just bought Some Girls. I’d obviously heard the older stuff they’d done, but this was my eye opening experience. This is Mick Jagger at his finest. In the midst of a Punk Rock rebellion that labeled bands such as the Stones dinosaurs they showed what real rock stars can do. This is, also, Ronnie Wood’s first album as a member of the Stone’s having previously been in The Faces with Rod Stewart.

The Rolling Stones – Before They Make Me Run

The Rolling Stones – Beast of Burden

#205 – Tubular Bells – Mike Oldfield

If you’ve never been scared by a piece of music listen to Tubular Bells in the dark. It will scare the hell out of you. Mike Oldfield’s album broke new ground as an instrumental concept album and launched Virgin Records as they were the only company at the time that would release the album. The others felt it was far too weird or different. he album was groundbreaking, as Oldfield played more than twenty different instruments in the multi-layered recording made in Branson’s Manor studios, and its style progressed continuously, covering many diverse musical genres. It received attention chiefly by appearing in the soundtrack to The Exorcist as the theme.

Mike Oldfield – Tubular Bells (Pt. 1)

Mike Oldfield – Tubular Bells (Pt. 2)

#204 – John Wesley Harding – Bob Dylan

After his recent foray into electric guitar driven music, John Wesley Harding was hailed as a return to the Dylan that many loved with his trademark harmonica and acoustic guitar. Dylan said this in a 1968 interview:

What I’m trying to do now is not use too many words. There’s no line that you can stick your finger through, there’s no hole in any of the stanzas. There’s no blank filler. Each line has something.

In The Bible in the Lyrics of Bob Dylan, Bert Cartwright cites more than sixty biblical allusions over the course of the thirty-eight and a half minute album, with as many as fifteen in “The Ballad of Frankie Lee and Judas Priest” alone. An Old Testament morality also colors most of the songs’ characters.

In an interview with Toby Thompson in 1968, Dylan’s mother, Beatty Zimmerman, mentioned Dylan’s growing interest in the Bible, stating that “in his house in Woodstock today, there’s a huge Bible open on a stand in the middle of his study. Of all the books that crowd his house, overflow from his house, that Bible gets the most attention. He’s continuously getting up and going over to refer to something.”

Bob Dylan – All Along the Watchtower

Bob Dylan – I Pity the Poor Immigrant

#203 – Dookie – Green Day

Along with Purple by Stone Temple Pilots, Dookie was the first album I bought. Starting off with the signs of dissension that every 17 year old feels by declaring “I can’t take no more” it set the tone for a resurgence of Punk that had all but died in the mainstream since the Clash broke up. The three chord anthems & Tre Cool’s rapid fire drum solos propelled this album to Diamond status.

The radio-only single, “She“, was written by Armstrong about a former girlfriend who showed him a feminist poem with an identical title. In return, Armstrong wrote the lyrics of “She” and showed them to her. She later moved to Ecuador, prompting Armstrong to put “She” on the album. The same ex-girlfriend is the topic of the songs “Sassafras Roots” and “Chump“.

Another song, “Coming Clean“, deals with Armstrong’s coming to terms with his bisexuality when he was 16 and 17 years old. In his interview with The Advocate magazine, he says that although he has never had a relationship with a man, his sexuality has been “something that comes up as a struggle in me”.

The hit single “Basket Case“, which appeared on many singles charts worldwide, was also inspired by Armstrong’s personal experiences. The song deals with Armstrong’s anxiety attacks and feelings of “going crazy” prior to being diagnosed with a panic disorder. The music video was filmed in an abandoned mental institution.

Green Day – Basket Case

Green Day – She

#202 – Beatles For Sale – The Beatles

Beatles For Sale was a turning point as the Beatles, primarily Lennon & McCartney, began to write most of their own music. It also shows in songs like “I’m a Loser” where Lennon is influenced heavily by Bob Dylan who he’d recently begun hanging around with. There are also some choice cover songs on the album including Buddy Holly’s, “Words of Love” , Chuck Berry’s, “Rock & Roll Music” & Carl Perkin’s, “Honey Don’t“.

David Rowley found the lyrics of “No Reply” to “read like a picture story from a girl’s comic,” & depict the picture “of walking down a street & seeing a girl silhouetted in a window, not answering the telephone.”

The Beatles – No Reply

The Beatles – What You’re Doing To Me

#201 – Willy & The Poor Boys – Creedence Clearwater Revival

After playing Woodstock in August of 1969, Creedence began honing material for a fourth album, Willy and the Poor Boys, released in November 1969 . “Down on the Corner“, a good-time street-corner number, and the famously militant “Fortunate Son” climbed to #3 and #14, respectively, by year’s end. The album was Creedence in its standard form, featuring Fogerty originals and two reworked Leadbelly covers, “Cotton Fields” and “Midnight Special“. Both the latter songs also had been performed by actor Harry Dean Stanton in the movie Cool Hand Luke, suggesting a subtle non-conformist theme to an apparently tradition-oriented album.

CCR – Cotton Fields

CCR – Midnight Special

#200 – Melon Collie & the Infinite Sadness – Smashing Pumpkins

The scope of Mellon Collie & The Infinite Sadness is hard to grasp. It’s a double sided disc in the same vein as Pink Floyd’s, “The Wall” intended to hang together conceptually as a symbol of the cycle of life & death. Billy Corgan himself has said that the album is based on “the human condition of mortal sorrow”. By far the Smashing Pumpkins best & most beautiful album. It is heavy in it’s instrumentation in songs like “Thirty-Three” & “Tonight, Tonight” where the use of strings is readily apparent. The video for “Tonight, Tonight” is a tribute to Le voyage dans la lune (1902). Directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris (Little Miss Sunshine) filmed the video the same way Georges Méliès did his film. They used a 70-year-old, hand-cranked camera shooting only one angle on a single set.

Smashing Pumpkins – Thirty-Three

Smashing Pumpkins – Tonight, Tonight

As an added Bonus I’ve included the video here as well cause it is my absolute favorite of all time. Amazing!

New Music Monday

I’m excited by the number of quality releases this week. Some rare recordings and the best album of the year thus far.

LEVON HELM – ELECTRIC DIRT

Levon Helm is one of my favorite artists ever since I first discovered his work with the Band. He has one of those old time folky voices, something similar to Doc Watson or Ronnie Hawkins. His new album Electric Dirt is his second solo album after his amazing first one Dirt Farmer & with covers like The Grateful Dead’s “Tennessee Jed” this will likely be another solid Americana effort from Levon.

Electric Farm Album Streaming here

VARIOUS ARTISTS – THE WOODSTOCK EXPERIENCE

Sony Legacy has put together a two-CD package that includes the artist’s performance at Woodstock and a studio album released by the artist in 1969. Quite a few of the Woodstock performances are being released for the first time. All five packages are available in the box set, or individually. This includes Santana, Janis Joplin, Johnny Winter, Sly & The Family Stone & Jefferson Airplane.

Jefferson Airplane – Somebody to Love – Woodstock

Johnny Winter – Mean Town Blues – Woodstock

Santana – Soul Sacrifice – Woodstock

Janis Joplin – Work Me, Lord – Woodstock

Sly & The Family Stone – Medley: Dance To The Music/Music Lover/I Want To Take You Higher – Woodstock

WILCO -  WILCO (THE ALBUM) -

Check out my review of this album here.

Wilco – I’ll Fight

Vince Guaraldi – Essential Standards

Anyone who regularly reads this blog knows that I adore Vince Guaraldi’s music. He is one of the best jazz pianists but, perhaps because he died so young or because of the Charlie Brown theme, music he is isn’t given the credit he deserves. He is on par with Dave Brubeck, but is just not given the same accolades as Brubeck. This album should shed some light on Guaraldi’s work aside from Linus & Lucy and focus on his brilliance a little bit more.

Vince Guaraldi – Greensleeves

Wilco (The Album) – The Review

When Wilco (The Song) came on I had to double check to see if it was Wilco & not Lou Reed that I was listening to. Wilco (The Album) is a cross between Abbey Road & Sally Can’t Dance. It showcases Jeff Tweedy so much more than previous Wilco albums & in my best Martha Stewart voice, “That’s a good thing”.  The album is seemingly more melodic than Sky Blue Sky or Summerteeth.

Wilco (The Album) shows how far Wilco has come as a band since they started as the remaining members of Uncle Tupelo after Jay Farrar’s ego trip. They show their evolution, maturation & the thought that this could be a band with tremendous staying power for years to come. Lead guitarist Nels Cline plays to near hushed perfection, rarely letting loose he is nevertheless relevant among the new sounds Wilco incorporates into this album. Jeff Tweedy has proved, once again, that Wilco is one of the premier acts today & this album is a testament to that.

Wilco w/ Feist – You & I

Wilco – Wilco (The Song)

The Hare Upon the Wire Has Been Burnt Upon Your Pyre

This has been a weird week what with the cavalcade of death this week & yet even today, pitch man, Billy Mays was found dead. So to lighten the mood I thought I’d provide a few songs that may not be Grammy Award winners, but they’ll definitely put a smile on your face & that’s the gift of music it can lift you up, take you down, make you laugh, make you cry & everything in between.

Stevie WonderLove Light In Flight

Sid ViciousMy Way

The PoguesWhite City

RodriguezHeikki’s Suburbia Bus Tour

Mix-Tape #3

I heard about the news of Michael Jackson’s passing yesterday & was completely surprised. Growing up, my neighbor Andy Fiore & I wore out two Tapes of Michael Jackson’s Thriller by just playing them over and over and over. So yesterday, as melodramatic as it may sound, when Michael Jackson died another piece of my childhood died along with him as one of my idols moved on to whatever the next step of the journey is.

So today, in memorial of the truly amazing singer he was I offer you 8 Michael Jackson songs that I truly feel showcase his amazing ability.

Beat It

Quincy Jones and Michael Jackson were determined to make a rock song that would appeal to all tastes and spent weeks looking for a suitable guitarist for the song “Beat It”, a song Jackson wrote and played drums on. Eventually, they found Eddie Van Halen.

Dirty Diana

M.J. always had a rock edge to him. unlike the pop “stars” of today. This song about an overly aggressive woman (the kind of girl I encourage) has catchy hooks and riffs. Solid.

Smooth Criminal

With a ever quickening beating heart at the beginning it goes into Jackson’s lyrics about a woman named Annie, who has been attacked in her apartment by a hitman. Alien Ant Farm tried to cover this song, but fuck them.

She’s Out of My Life

A little cheesy, slightly dated, but a great song about loss. Jackson’s vocals on this record were judged some of his best. The song was written by Tom Bahler after Karen Carpenter broke up with him upon discovering he had fathered a child with another woman.

Human Nature

I know I posted it yesterday, but it really is his best song. The New York Times gave a positive review of the album, Thriller and dedicated a large amount of its coverage to the song “Human Nature”. They described it as the most “striking” song on the record, and wrote, “this is a haunting, brooding ballad by Steve Porcaro and John Bettis with an irresistible chorus and it should be an enormous hit”.

P.Y.T.

Two of Jackson’s sisters, Janet and La Toya, provided backing vocals in the guise of the P.Y.T. & it has some of the best vocals of MJ on the album.

Billy Jean

Originally disliked by Jones, the track was almost removed from the album after he and Jackson had a disagreement. The song’s lyrics refer to a real-life experience, in which a mentally insane female fan claimed that Jackson fathered one of her twins. The song is well known for its distinctive bass line and Jackson’s vocal hiccups. The song was mixed 91 times by Bruce Swedien before it was finalized.

You Are Not Alone

My second favorite Michael Jackson song written by R. Kelly. Hokey? Chessy? Perhaps, but when you have loved and lost this may be the perfect song to listen to. Also, perhaps this may be the enduring tribute song for Michael Jackson as he slips into the ether.

Get Me Out Into The Nighttime Four Walls Won’t Hold Me Tonight

MICHAEL JACKSON (1958 – 2009)

By now we all know of the tragic news of Michael Jackson’s death. While condolences & jokes abound the fact remains 3 children lost their father today & the world lost perhaps the greatest musical icon since Elvis Presley. While the trials & tribulations of the past 20 years have ruined his once sparkling reputation, the music he gave the world is the enduring legacy he leaves behind.

I can only speak from personal experience. Michael Jackson was my childhood. Thriller is one of the best albums of all time. Every song but one on that album was a hit. Michael Jackson suffered from many things including a poor self image. Whether he did many of the things he was accused of is a matter to be discussed on other sites. I choose to focus on the music he gave us. My favorite song of M.J.’s has always been “Human Nature“. It is a beautiful song with lyrics that really strike a chord with me. I never got to see him live, though I had the chance to as a small boy before convincing my mother to leave cause I was sick of waiting in line. One of the greatest regrets of my life was doing that. Sometimes I wish my mom would’ve just said no, but alas it was not to be. So, today, I mourn the music the man created & the musical legacy he leaves behind. Rest in Peace Michael Jackson.

Michael JacksonHuman Nature

Frank Sinatra Live 1968 Oakland,Ca.

For this bootleg/live Thursday I have included this great concert. Frank Sinatra has long been a favorite of mine & this is an amazing performance on May 22, 1968 at the Oakland Coliseum. “Ol’ Man River” is my favorite on this album as Ol’ Blue Eyes sings it to perfection. Backed by a full orchestra, Sinatra is in excellent voice and the song selection is first-rate. The concert was a big Democratic Party fundraiser, and it was very rare for Sinatra (or any other performer) to do stadium shows at this time. Sadly, such massive concerts would become Sinatra’s main musical activity throughout the ’70s and ’80s.

Day-In Day-Out

I Get a Kick Out of You

Moonlight in Vermont

The Lady is a Tramp

I Have Dreamed

I’ve Got You Under My Skin

That’s Life

Ol’ Man River

All I Need is the Girl

Willow Weep For Me

Goin’ Out of My Head

Nancy (With the Laughing Face)

Fly Me to the Moon

It Was a Very Good Year

My Kind of Town

Closing Comments