Best 250 Albums of All-Time #239-230

Had a few issues with Les Computer last week moreover with the multimedia morons that run AT&T (the actual employees, especially the ones from India are great). That being said I am giving you ten albums in a row to make up for the time off. More to come in a couple days.

#239 – Trace – Son Volt

After Uncle Tupelo broke up, lead singer Jay Farrar put together Son Volt, a band he felt encompassed his vision more than uncle Tupelo & moreover the rising star of Jeff Tweedy that seemed to be eclipsing him. Trace, their debut is album is by far their best from start to finish as it revels in Middle America Alt-Country brilliance. Hailing from St. Louis lead singer Jay Farrar has stuck true to his Country/Western roots with heavy steel guitar sounds along with that familiar twang of Old Country. “Tear Stained Eye” & “Windfall” stand out as my favorites on the album while “Drown” got up to #12 on the Billboard charts.

Son Volt – Tear Stained Eye

Son Volt – Windfall

#238 – The Seeds – The Seeds

Called by Muddy Waters, “America’s Rolling Stones” The Seeds were a seminal garage band in the 60s & one of the biggest influences on early punk rock. It was a fitting comparison as lead singer, Sky Saxon, was so dramatically influenced by Mick Jagger that he would practice moving in the same way as Jagger did on stage.  The Seeds was their first album & had the classic track “Pushin’ Too Hard“. The song about a girl that pushes the guy she’s dating into becoming her boyfriend and when he finally does she runs around town dating a bunch of other guys.

The SeedsPushin’ Too Hard

#237 – Mixed Bag – Richie Havens

Before becoming the opening act at what was to become the greatest concert of the 60s, if not ever, Richie Havens’ raspy, baritone voice was introduced to a generation of hippies & beatniks alike. Though, many call Mixed Bag his debut album it was actually his third album ,but first under manager Albert Grossman, who also managed Bob Dylan. Mixing Jazz rhythms with folk inspired lyrics it speaks on a number of themes: the beauty of the day from morning to evening, depression & love. His performance at Woodstock is only second in my mind to Jimi Hendrix. I had the pleasure of seeing Richie Havens in Petaluma, Ca. with my cousins Kevin & Loni, I believe, at an amazing place called the Majestic & it was such a phenomenal experience.

Richie HavensFollow

Richie Havens – I Can’t Make it Anymore (Written by Gordon Lightfoot)

#236 Tracy Chapman – Tracy Chapman

I remember first hearing Tracy Chapman’s debut album in my father’s car. Not sure where we were going but “Fast Car” came on and quite simply I was blown away. Never before had a song struck me so deeply. The desperation in her voice begging to get out of the town that has seemingly killed all her dreams. It’s a common theme on the album desperation, domestic violence, nostalgic memories of when times were better. I alluded to something like this in one of my previous posts. A brilliant album that she hasn’t even come close to duplicationg since.

Tracy ChapmanFast Car

Tracy Chapman – Talkin’ Bout a Revolution

#235 – Porgy & Bess – Miles Davis

Porgy & Bess is an opera written by George Gershwin, but perfected by Miles Davis. What Miles Davis does is truly mesmerizing. His trumpet acts as a pseudo narrator while crescendos happen around it. The melancholy feel of “Oh Bess, Oh Where’s My Bess?” gives the feeeling of foreboding even to one that has never seen the Opera/Play. The trumpet playing ius flawless & it is Jazz, but Blues at the same time. You feel like perhaps you’ve been transported back to the early 20th Century in New Orleans. You can just feel the emotion from the trumpet or moreover the Trumpeteer.

Miles DavisSummertime

Miles Davis – Oh Bess, Oh Where’s My Bess

#234 – Arthur or the Decline & Fall of the British Empire – The Kinks

Coming off the failure of their previous album The Kinks were in a dire place. The British explosion had given way to the Hippy/Free Love music of Woodstock & the Monterey Pop Festival. So Ray Davies wrote Arthur (Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire) as a concept album based on his sister, Rose’s, emigration to Australia from England with her husband Arthur. It’s was compared at the time favorably to The Who’s rock opera, Tommy & called by Mike Daly of Rolling Stone, “Ray Davies’ finest hour, the Kinks’ supreme achievement.” Seemingly out of place in 1969 the album did well & allowed them to come back to the U.S. & tour after a five year ban.

The KinksVictoria

The Kinks – Shangri-La

#233 – The Queen is Dead – The Smiths

With the rapid strum of Johnny Marr’s guitar we’re off into The Queen is Dead by The Smiths. “Bigmouth Strikes Again” is the stellar track where Morrissey compares his frustration with his own words being used against him to that of Joan of Arc’s plight.

Now I know how Joan of Arc felt, oh
As the flames rose to her roman nose
And her Walkman started to melt

Morrissey is no stranger to the clever mixing of historic characters to himself nor is he averse to thinking of himself as a tragic figure. It’s what made the Smiths & to some extent Morrissey, solo, so brilliant. To have no genuflection to the things that people consider proper was part of their allure. One of the pleasures of my life was having seen Morrissey play at Coachella this year. One of the best shows ever.

The SmithsBigmouth Strikes Again

The Smiths – The Boy With The Thorn in His Side

#232 – Raw Power – Iggy & The Stooges

Picking up where The Seeds left off, Iggy & The Stooges released Raw Power & while largely ignored it was the spawn of what was to become Punk Rock. With a touch of Lou Reed style vocals Iggy Pop led The Stooges through simple chord progressions & such vocal ferocity that the album is considered one of the loudest of all time being in the -4dbs range throughout.

Iggy & The StoogesSearch & Destroy

Iggy & The Stooges – Raw Power

#231 – Siamese Dream – The Smashing Pumpkins

Siamese Dream by the Smashing Pumpkins came out when I was 16 years old & just getting over that Rap phase that seemingly every young suburbanite boy goes through. It was one of my first forays into alternative music & it opened my mind up to sounds that I’d never heard on a rock album before. The strings on “Disarm” make you revel in the ostentatiousness of such an attempt to make it different than anything else that was out there. Different it was with over 40 different overdubs of guitar alone on “Today” it is a musical anomaly in the realm of so-called grunge rock which while this album was given that designation it certainly is not Grunge whatsoever.

Smashing PumpkinsDisarm

Smashing Pumpkins – Today

#230 – MTV Unplugged in New York – Nirvana

Instead of going on MTV Unplugged and doing “Smells Like Teen Spirit” acoustically Nirvana opted to do things different. What they created is perhaps the best Unplugged performance that came out of the MTV series. Covering everyone from David Bowie to the Meat Puppets to Leadbelly, this album showed a side of Kurt Cobain that the world had not seen. Unfortunately, the world would never get to see that side again. Less than a year later, Kurt Cobain would be found dead from a self inflicted shotgun blast to the head & the world was left wondering what might have been.

Nirvana – Lake of Fire

Nirvana – Where Did You Sleep Last Night

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