Top 250 Albums of All-Time 189-180

#189 –  Automatic For The People – R.E.M.

“The world that we had been involved in had disappeared, the world of Husker Du & The Replacements, all that had gone. We were just in a different place & that worked it’s way out musically & lyrically.” Thus describes the process of Automatic for the People by Peter Buck. Intended to be a rocking, up tempo type of album in contrast to their previous venture Out of Time. However, after numerous demos & rehearsals an even slower mid-tempo album was created with the agonizing “Everybody Hurts” as the most telling example of their acoustic driven, strings oriented rock. Strings which were arranged by Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones. One of the few exceptions was the Andy Kaufman inspired, “Man on the Moon” which later became the title of the Jim Carrey film that yours truly had one line in, “Do Latka!”. Watch the Arizona State scene where he reads The Great Gatsby. that is vintage Matty D.

Man on the MoonR.E.M.

Everybody Hurts – R.E.M.

#188 – Harvest Moon – Neil Young

Sounding more like the soundtrack to a western movie than a brilliant album, Harvest Moon is a seminal album in the career of Neil Young. Released in 1992, Harvest Moon is a pseudo-sequel to 1972’s album Harvest. It was a return to the acoustic driven music that dominated his older albums Harvest, Comes a Time & Old Ways. With ballads such as the title track with it’s sweet affection of a long lasting love that has not died through the years. Recorded in Nashville this album proved that Young was not washed as hge went on to record with Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam among other distinguished up & coming artists.

Harvest Moon – Neil Young

From Hank to Hendrix – Neil Young

#187 – American Beauty – Grateful Dead

Like Crosby, Stills & Nash, The Grateful Dead’s American Beauty is rich in harmonies & long drawn out jams. Not a huge ringing endorsement, I know, but here’s my feeling on jam bands (Dave Matthews Band, Phish, Grateful, et al). While all musically talented it’s just sorta boring instrumentals, no progressions, no transitions, just repetitive cyclical jams & to me that is so unappealing. I will admit, I have to, that there are a few albums by the Dead that are fantastic & this is one of them, but I can only take it in small doses.

Friend of The Devil – The Grateful Dead

Sugar Magnolia – The Grateful Dead

#186 – Tattoo You – The Rolling Stones

Released on my 5th birthday, August 24, 1981 Tattoo You was supposed to be released simply as Tattoo, but for reasons unknown to even the Rolling Stones members the name was changed. This led to friction between Keith Richards & Mick Jagger with Richards thinking Jagger had the name changed without seeking his input. While released in ’81 it is primarily an album consisting of outtakes, some dating back a decade with new vocals & overdubs. The lyrics of “Little T&A” were described by Richards at the time as being about, “…every good time I’ve had with somebody I’d met for a night or two and never seen again. And also about the shit that sometimes goes down when you just sort of bump into people unknowingly, and not knowing the scene you’re walking in on, you know? You pick up a chick and end up spending the night in the tank, you know?”

Little T & A – The Rolling Stones

Hang Fire – The Rolling Stones

#185 – Led Zeppelin III – Led Zeppelin

Almost a precursor to the dramatic change in Led Zeppelin IV, Led Zeppelin III was a shift away from the bluesy rock sound that Led Zeppelin had in I & II & focused more on folk acoustic with a twinge of electric folk. “That’s the Way” was considered by Page a breakthrough for Robert Plant lyrically as he was still developing his style. The album was recorded in a cottage in Bron-Yr-Aur without running water, electricity. Jimmy Page put it this way:

After the intense touring that had been taking place through the first two albums, working almost 24 hours a day, basically, we managed to stop and have a proper break, a couple of months as opposed to a couple of weeks. We decided to go off and rent a cottage to provide a contrast to motel rooms. Obviously, it had quite an effect on the material that was written … It was the tranquility of the place that set the tone of the album. Obviously, we weren’t crashing away at 100 watt Marshall stacks. Having played acoustic and being interested in classical guitar, anyway, being in a cottage without electricity, it was acoustic guitar time … After all the heavy, intense vibe of touring which is reflected in the raw energy of the second album, it was just a totally different feeling.

And Robert Plant concurred saying this:

Bron-Yr-Aur was a fantastic place in the middle of nowhere with no facilities at all-and it was a fantastic test of what we could do in that environment. Because by that time we’d become obsessed with change, and the great thing was that we were also able to create a pastoral side of Led Zep. Jimmy was listening to Davy Graham and Bert Jansch and was experimenting with different tunings, and I loved John Fahey. So it was a very natural place for us to go to.

Tangerine – Led Zeppelin

That’s the Way – Led Zeppelin

#184 – Important Recordings 1934-49 – Leadbelly

One of the most important Blues/Folk artists of the early to mid twentieth century, Huddie Ledbetter or Leadbelly, as he was best known, has been the inspiration for many artists throughout the annals of rock history. His music has withstood the test of time. Songs that dealt with alcoholism, racism, women, cowboys, work & prison, a subject he knew very well. Leadbelly was known to be a volatile man & was in and out of jail much of his life. Much of his crime having to do with said temper. For having killed a relative in a fight over a woman, attempted homicide after he knifed a white man in a fight & for stabbing a man in a fight in a bar in Manhattan. Leadbelly learned much of his musical skill in jail. It was there, three years later, that he was “discovered” by musicologists John Lomax and his eighteen-year-old son Alan Lomax during a visit to the Angola Prison Farm where Leadbelly was serving time for attempted homicide. They recorded hundreds of his songs that later became the Library of Congress recordings.

Goodnight Irene – Leadbelly

Where Did You Sleep Last Night (In the Pines) – Leadbelly

#183 – Brothers & Sisters – The Allman Brothers Band

The first album recorded completely after the death of leader Duane Allman’s tragic death due to a motorcycle accident & mostly after the death of bassist Berry Oakley who would die less than 13 months later that Duane Allman in a similar motorcycle crash with a city bus, three blocks from the site of Allman’s fatal accident. Brothers & Sisters was the peak for the Allman Brothers commercially as the album reached #1 in the U.S. & contained what came ot be their best known song & only hit single & “Ramblin’ Man” which got as high as #2 on the U.S. singles charts. Allmusic Guide writes that “the chorus is perhaps the catchiest and prettiest hook in all of Southern rock”. There is an unknown reason why the speed/pitch of the now Digital/CD version differs greatly from the analogue version found on the original record album & 45RPM single. Either original vinyl pressings were mistakenly sped-down…or the future digital masters were sped-up. Playing the two versions side-by-side, one can notice an extreme difference in pitch.

Ramblin’ Man – The Allman Brothers Band

Southbound – The Allman Brothers Band

#182 – Idlewild South – The Allman Brothers Band

Idlewild South is The Allman Brothers Band’s second album. The most prevalent song on the album being “Midnight Rider”  which uses traditional folk and blues themes of desperation, determination, and a man on the run:

I’ve got one more silver dollar,
But I’m not gonna let ’em catch me, no …
Not gonna let ’em catch
The midnight rider.

The verses arrangement features Duane Allman’s acoustic guitar carrying the song’s changes, underpinned by a congas-led rhythm section and soft, swirling organ. Dickey Betts’ lead guitar phrases ornament the choruses and the instrumental break, while Gregg Allman’s powerful, soulful singing, featuring harmony-producing reverb, has led to the song becoming known by some as Allman’s signature piece . Music writer Jean-Charles Costa stated in 1973 that, “‘Midnight Rider’ has been recorded by other bands and it’s easy to see why. The verse construction, the desperate lyrics, and the taut arrangement make it standout material.”

Midnight Rider – The Allman Brothers Band

#181 – Hunky Dory – David Bowie

Hunky Dory was the first production featuring all the members of the band that would become known as Ziggy Stardust’s “Spiders From Mars”. The album featured such brilliant classics as, “Changes”, “Life on Mars” & “Queen Bitch”. The opening track, “Changes”, focused on the compulsive nature of artistic reinvention (“Strange fascination, fascinating me / Changes are taking the pace I’m going through”) and distancing oneself from the rock mainstream (“Look out, you rock ‘n’ rollers”). However, the composer also took time to pay tribute to his influences with the tracks “Song for Bob Dylan”, “Andy Warhol” and the Velvet Underground inspired “Queen Bitch”. Following the hard rock of Bowie‘s previous album The Man Who Sold the World, Hunky Dory saw the partial return of the fey pop singer of Space Oddity, with light fare such as “Kooks” (dedicated to his young son, known to the world as Zowie Bowie but legally named Duncan Zowie Haywood Jones) and the cover “Fill Your Heart” sitting alongside heavier material like the occult-tinged “Quicksand” and the semi-autobiographical “The Bewlay Brothers”. Between the two extremes was “Oh! You Pretty Things”, whose pop tune hid lyrics, inspired by Nietzsche, predicting the imminent replacement of modern man by “the Homo Superior”, and which has been cited as a direct precursor to “Starman” from Bowie’s next album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust & the Spiders From Mars.

Life on Mars – David Bowie

Queen Bitch – David Bowie

#180 – Deja Vu – Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young

Deja Vu is the first album by rock band Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, although Crosby, Stills, and Nash had recorded one earlier album. It was released on March 11, 1970 and was greatly anticipated after the popularity of the first CSN album, as well as due to the addition of Neil Young. It hit #1 on the Billboard 200 album chart and generated three Top 40 singles: “Teach Your Children,” “Our House,” and “Woodstock.” Neil Young does not appear on all of the tracks, and drummer Dallas Taylor and bassist Greg Reeves are also credited on the cover (their names in slightly smaller typeface). Jerry Garcia plays pedal steel on “Teach Your Children” and John Sebastian plays mouth-harp on the title track.

Our House – CSNY

Helpless – CSNY


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