Tag Archives: Metallica

There’s a Heaven Above You Baby

It seems that some of the best songs occur on my I-Pod shuffle. I was lazily waiting for the bus the other day when “Don’t Cry” by Guns ‘N Roses came on & it took every ounce of strength within me to not start doing the Axl Rose sway. Listening over & over again led me to the conclusion that “Don’t Cry” is the best unassumingly great guitar song & also the best thing Shannon Hoon could do to secure some semblance of a musical legacy besides ODing after an all night coke binge. What I mean by unassumingly great guitar song is that it starts off as a ballad & then sometime after the second chorus Slash erupts into a masterful guitar solo that completely takes you by surprise. Just as soon as it hits, though, it’s gone.

It exemplifies the last vestige of the hair band ’80’s style that GNR perfected. I heard a discussion on the radio the other day about how in the ’80’s everyone just assumed Van Halen would be around forever, but no one thought  Bon Jovi would last much past the ’80’s. That’s how I felt about GNR & Metallica. I never thought Metallica was worth a damn (still don’t). They, to me, were the white trash version of GNR, but nowhere near as musically talented. Slash is the best guitar player of our generation. I’m not even sure anyone could argue otherwise. What Metallica was to Midwest Metalheads, GNR was to the excess driven Sunset Strip. Metallica may still be together, but they don’t stand the test of time the way GNR does.

My Morning Jacket has traces of  GNR in songs like “One Big Holiday” but the only bands that aspire to be Metallica are the bands that cover their faces with ridiculous masks & make a mockery of quality music. Sure, GNR were loud, but loud music has nothing to do with quality of musicianship. Matt Sorum, Duff Mckagan, Axl Rose & Slash are infinitely better musicians than James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, the number of bassists they ran through & Kirk Hammet (though he was a very good guitarist). Axl Rose’s range alone showed that they were more than just a long haired ’80’s act. So when the argument inevitably comes up & you’re asked who was a better band or who stands the test of time better without a doubt you must answer Guns ‘N Roses. They are without a doubt the great act to come out of the hair ’80’s.

I have included 3 versions of the song for your consumption.

Don’t Cry – Use Your Illusion I

Don’t Cry – Use Your Illusion II

Don’t Cry – Live

Top 250 of All-Time 199-190

#199 – Abraxas – Santana

Abraxas is Santana at his most lyrical, especially when Gregg Robie isn’t singing. Layered in Latin flavor Santana excels at songs like “Samba Pa Ti” where he speaks through his guitar playing a beautiful melody though intricate & refined. Covers of Peter Green’s (Fleetwood Mac’s original line-up) “Black Magic Woman” & Tito Puente’s “Oye Como Va” stamp the Santana insignia on them creating classics that would become his & his alone. At only 22 Santana proved that his first album was no fluke & his intensely mesmerizing performance at Woodstock only lent itself to his growing mystique.

Samba Pa Ti – Santana

Black Magic Woman – Santana

#198 – Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers – Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers

Tom Petty’s debut album after Mudcrutch disbanded became a huge hit in the U.K. before it went gold in the U.S. This album shows Petty embracing 60s rock more than most artists at the time. I t was a style familiar to the Byrds & Bruce Springsteen with that familiar Blue Collar element that became so apparent in songs like “American Girl” which All Music referred to as:

The similarities between Petty & the Byrds became apparent. Take the closer “American Girl”, it’s a Byrds song by any other name but he pushed the Heartbreakers to treat it as a Rock & Roll song not as something delicate.

“Breakdown” has that familiar hook with Petty’s Dylan-esque vocals. A sign of great things to come.

Breakdown – Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers

American Girl – Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers

#197 – War – U2

U2’s third album, War, was the one that propelled them into the limelight as it was their first overtly political album. Bono put it best:

War seemed to be the motif for 1982, everywhere you looked, from the Falklands to the Middle East & South Africa, there was a war. By calling the album, War, we’re giving people a slap in the face & at the same time getting away from the cosy image alot of people have of U2.

“Sunday Bloody Sunday” is the perfect example of one of the protest songs as it speaks to the Troubles in Northern Ireland. It’s military-esque drum beat by Larry Mullen at the beginning is followed immediately by the Edge’s fiery solo. It is a song written by the Edge after a  period of growing frustrations with his own writing ability & problems with his girlfriend.

Sunday Bloody Sunday – U2

New Year’s Day – U2

#196 – Ten – Pearl Jam

Pearl Jam’s debut album, Ten, is a seminal album in grunge lore. Eddie Vedder mumbles his way through classics such as: “Jeremy”, “Alive” & “Black”. When Mother Love Bone broke up Jeff Ament & Stone Gossard recruited Vedder, Mike McCready & Dave Krusen to form Pearl Jam. Vedder wrote of depression, homelessness, suicide & abuse. “Jeremy” the song about a boy who is picked on, to the point of committing suicide in front of his classmates is an example of Vedder’s pulling stories out of the newspaper & turning them into hits.

“Alive” tells the semi-biographical tale of a son that discovers his father is actually his step-father & that his real father died many years before & his mothers grief turns her to sexually embrace her son who strongly embraces the biological father.

Jeremy – Pearl Jam

Black – Pearl Jam

#195 – Animals – Pink Floyd

Animals is Pink Floyd’s take on George Orwell’s classic political allegory on communism, Animal Farm. The various animals described on the album represent different elements of society. Dogs are businessmen, Sheep as the powerless pawns & Pigs as ruthless leaders. While the book is commentary on communism, the album deals more of it’s pointed attacks at capitalism.

David Gilmour said this to Mojo in 2008 about Animals:

Roger’s (Waters) thing is to dominate, but I am happy to stand up for myself & argue vociferously as to the merits of different pieces of music, which is what I did on Animals. I didn’t feel remotely squeezed out of that album. 90% of the song “Dogs” was mine. That song was almost the whole of one side, so that’s half of Animals.

This in response to long held conclusions from media & fans alike that Roger Waters was the driving force behind the album & in effect began to take greater control beginning with this album.

Pigs on the Wing (Part 1) – Pink Floyd

Dogs - Pink Floyd

#194 – Metallica – Metallica

On previous albums Metallica were the speed metal masters of the 80’s with songs like “Ride the Lightning” & “Master of Puppets”, but with the so called Black Album it was a new direction for Metallica. Gone were the staccato riffs that had defined them & with that change over from Metal long hairs to true rock stars they created an album so great that it is one of the top selling albums of all-time having sold 22 million to date. Along with the good, the alter ego of Metallica must be taken into account as they have crusaded for years against the sharing of music on peer-to-peer sites & even blogs. Lars Ulrich in particular has been the most vocal as he seemingly wishes to keep his music locked in a vault. As an aside, what many artists don’t realize is by bloggers, such as myself, bringing attention to some of their works they have a better chance of getting paid than if they wage a war against their fans. A war that no matter how many sites they shut down, they can not win.

Unforgiven – Metallica

Nothing Else Matters – Metallica

#193 – The River – Bruce Springsteen

The River was intended to be a single album with joyful songs, but Springsteen, never one to be complacent, wrote “The River” about his sister and brother-in-law. About a couple marrying too young because of pregnancy, changed everything, and the narrator feels they’ve forgotten what used to be important and feels like his dreams will never come true. After that he changed the album from the single album The Ties That Bind to the double album The River with a darker edge to it. This according to Bruce himself:

Rock & Roll has always been about joy, this certain happiness that is in it’s way the most beautiful thing in life. But Rock is also about hardness & coldness & being alone…I finally got to the place where I realizes life had paradoxes, a lot of them & you’ve got to live with them.

Among many of the songs was the happy sounding but ultimately tragic classic “Hungry Heart” originally written for The Ramones, but Bruce was convinced by Manager/Producer Jon Landau to keep it for himself.

The River – Bruce Springsteen

Hungry Heart – Bruce Springsteen

#192 – The Wild, The Innocent & The E-Street Shuffle – Bruce Springsteen

Bruce Springsteen’s second album, The Wild, The Innocent & The E-Street Shuffle, was released in 1973 to little fanfare initially. It’s a telling album of the young Bruce’s thoughts & opinions at the time. About the police, “The newsboys say the heat’s been bad since Power Thirteen gave a trooper all he had in a late summer scuffle.” & about sex, “All the little girls’ souls grow weak when the man-child gives them a double shot.” Typically, for a Springsteen album, it has a host of characters with everyman names that could easily be you or I.

In “Incident on 57th Street”,  “Spanish Johnny dressed like dynamite” meets “Puerto Rican Jane”, who dreams of taking him to, “the other part of town where paradise ain’t so crowded”. While Jane sleeps with her “sheets soaked damp from sweat” Johnny’s friends call through a window in what seems to be some sordid affair to make “easy money”. He promises to meet Jane “tomorrow night on lover’s lane”. The album is as close to an ode to West Side Story as anything Springsteen’s ever written as with “Rosalita” his tale of forbidden love screams Romeo & Juliet & Tony & Maria.

Rosalita – Bruce Springsteen

Incident on 57th Street – Bruce Springsteen

#191 – Black Album – Jay-Z

What was supposed to be his final album, The Black Album, turned out to be his Michael Jordan moment. Creating greatness & being lauded for it is hard to stay away from. With samples of songs from Madonna, Run DMC, R. Kelly & the Chi-Lites, Jay-Z created a return to his Reasonable Doubt style, getting away from the commercialized, over-hyped offerings he had been putting out since. What may be the best indication of the enduring legacy of this album are the remixes & mash-ups that have consistently been made since his accapella version of the Black Album were released. Most notably the Grey Album, by Danger Mouse, which combined this with the Beatles White Album. Another version with Linkin Park was a lso released & is the only authorized copy to date.

Dirt Off your Shoulder – Jay-Z

Lucifer – Jay-Z

#190 – Disraeli Gears – Cream

Initially self titled, Disraeli Gears got it’s name from roadie Mick Turner’s response as Ginger Baker discussed purchasing a racing bicycle. Turner exclaimed, “It’s got them Disraeli gears!” meaning to say “derailleur gears”, but instead alluding to 19th Century British Prime Minister, Benjamin Disraeli. The classic track, “Sunshine of Your Love” was a sign that the band was distancing themselves away from their blues sound & more towards a psychedelic sound.

Sunshine of Your Love – Cream