Amph What was the last album you purchased/heard?

Discussion in 'Community' started by Darth Morella, Aug 5, 2004.

  1. King_of_Red_Lions Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 28, 2003
    star 3
    Draw The Line , David Gray

    There are some good songs here. Better than his last two albums but not as good as his earliest work.
  2. Rogue1-and-a-half Manager Emeritus who is writing his masterpiece

    Member Since:
    Nov 2, 2000
    star 7
    F#A# Infinity (1998) ? Godspeed You Black Emperor

    Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antenna to Heaven is considered GYBE?s best, from what I hear. But sometimes I like to get into somebody by hearing a lesser known album. And if LYSFLATH is better than this, it would have to be very good indeed. Three tracks make up this album; the shortest is 16 minutes long, the longest, 29 minutes. Does it drag? Not once. The opening track begins as a spoken word poetry reading and devolves from there; the second track, probably my favorite, begins with an old time gospel street preacher and never loses that rhythm. I like an album with hairpin turns and this one has those in spades. One whipsaws from bizarre sound collage to brooding, menacing techno to thrashing punk rock to baroque classical strings. These tracks build in all the right ways and in a lot of surprising ones too. Spooky and terrifying, raucous and funny, heartfelt and yearning. This is great music that utterly resists classification and I will particularly mention that it contains some of the best guitar lines I?ve ever heard in my life.

    Gaude Gloriosa & Other Sacred Choral Works (2005) ? Thomas Tallis, Andrew Carwood, Cardinall?s Musick

    Prior to this CD I had only really known Thomas Tallis the way most people know of him, because of Ralph Vaughan-William?s Variations on a Theme by Thomas Tallis. I think I liked most of this stuff better than the Vaughan-Williams, to be perfectly honest. Gorgeous religious choral music. Very nice transfer too with no real hiss.

    Acoustics (1979) ? Tony Rice

    Pretty bland album of acoustic jazz numbers; acoustic guitar, banjo, acoustic bass, etc. Sadly, there?s no real hooks to anything. Pretty dull.

    Heartbreaker (2000) ? Ryan Adams

    Incredibly evocative album written in the aftermath of Adams? relationship breakup. It begins with an argument about Morrissey, proceeds to evoke seventies era Dylan (To Be Young is To Be Sad) and then moves into a quiet, laid back sorrow, sometimes menacing, sometimes sublime. At it?s best, it?s absolutely striking, as on Oh My Sweet Carolina, My Winding Wheel and Bartering Line; at its worst, it?s a bit too quiet, but that?s really not a complaint given how rarely music (or any art, in fact) errs on the side of understatement. Beautiful, striking, Adams? masterpiece.

    A Liturgy, a Legacy and a Ragamuffin Band (1993) ? Rich Mullins & a Ragamuffin Band

    The best album Mullins released in his lifetime and the first with the Ragamuffins backing him up. The first half is an American folk updating of the traditional liturgy and has some of his most luminous spiritual writing, like the devastated brokenness of Hold Me, Jesus and the absolute compassion and warmth of Peace. The second half is a meditation specifically on what it means to grow up American and features his witty Christmas tune, You Gotta Get Up, and his incredibly great cover of Mark Heard?s How to Grow Up Big and Strong. Amazing, five star album in every sense of the word; Mullins was never quite this ambitious at any other time in his career and this is second only to the posthumous Jesus Record among his body of work.
  3. Mastadge Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 4, 1999
    star 7
    John Williams: The Music of America (Amazon)

    This 3-disc set is a pretty good intro to Williams' more popular, recent concert work. The music is generally very enjoyable and accessible; the liner notes, on the other hand, are extremely basic and definitely leave something to be desired. Where applicable I've linked to previous releases of a piece so you (or I) can check out other reviews.

    Disc 1 opens with "Air and Simple Gifts" (2009), the piece commissioned for President Obama's inauguration. This is followed by the six-movement American Journey (1999), which runs about 25 minutes and is a characteristically optimistic, bright bit of Americana that sounds like a film score. Next up is six-movement Suite from Memoirs of a Geisha for Cello and Orchestra (2008), written for Yo-Yo Ma based on themes from the 2005 film's score, which runs about 29 minutes. Rounding out Disc 1 is "Song for World Peace" (1994), a rather lovely piece. Overall this disc is very good, although how a suite from Memoirs fits the "music of America" theme has me scratching my head a little. Neither American Journey nor "Song for World Peace" is so much as mentioned in the liner notes -- it would have been nice to have had some more context as to the origins of this music.

    Disc 2 starts with "Summon the Heroes" (1996), written in commemoration of the Centennial of the Modern Olympic Games, which has been one of my favorite pieces of Williams' music ever since it was originally released. Next is "Hymn to New England" (1987), about which the liner notes have nothing to say. The centerpiece of Disc 2 is The Five Sacred Trees (Concerto for Bassoon and Orchestra) (1995), which runs about 26 minutes and is probably the most interesting piece in the set, occasionally sounding not too far distant from CE3K. "Inspired by Celtic lore," it "evokes the secrets of the forest, with a solo part that runs the gamut from the mysterious to the majestic." Next up are "Sound the Bells!" (1993) and "Elegy for Cello and Orchestra" (2002), neither of which is mentioned in the liner notes. The latter is based on a theme from Seven Years in Tibet and was first released here. Following this is "The Mission Theme" from NBC Nightly News (1985), the "March" from 1941 and "The Olympic Spirit" (1988), commissioned by NBC sports for that year's Summer Olympics. Again, the decision to use a piece commissioned during an Olympics taking place in Seoul and omit "Call of the Champions" commissioned for the 2002 games in Utah seems bizarre given the "music of America" theme.

    Disc 3 is the least interesting disc, devoted entirely to film works -- and the usual suspects, at that, mostly familiar from Sony's John Williams Greatest Hits 1969-1999 and any number of other compilations. Star Wars Main Title and Finale, Jaws Theme, Sugarland Express, E.T., Schindler's List, Jurassic Park, Empire of the Sun, Raiders, CE3K, plus a three-track suite from Born on the Fourth of July, in keeping, I suppose with the music of America theme. Surely a little more effort could have yielded a disc's worth of John Williams Americana instead of all the stuff that John Williams fans will already have, probably several times over. But it doesn't matter, because the meat of this release is on the first two discs, which do provide an admirable array of Williams' concert work including what I believe is the premier release of the Memoirs Suite.
  4. Rogue1-and-a-half Manager Emeritus who is writing his masterpiece

    Member Since:
    Nov 2, 2000
    star 7
    Wow, that sounds incredibly interesting. You know, though, on the third disc, in keeping with the American theme, they should have put a suite from Nixon, which is probably his best overlooked score. It's really amazing.
  5. Mastadge Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 4, 1999
    star 7
    Further investigation reveals that this is a series of "The Music of America" albums, which also covers Copland, Bernstein and Ives, so I guess the theme isn't Americana from Williams but rather the music of American composers.
  6. Boba_Fett_2001 Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Dec 11, 2000
    star 8
    [image=http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/4/43/Attheedgeoftime.jpg]

    Blind Guardian - At The Edge Of Time

    Words cannot describe how much I love these guys and they've delivered another great album. My favourite tracks are Sacred Worlds, Ride Into Obsession, Valkyries, and the final epic song Wheel Of Time. If anyone is interested in getting into power metal, Blind Guardian will always be the first band I would recommend. This isn't their best record but it's damn good.

    4/5
  7. Mastadge Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 4, 1999
    star 7
    Having spent too many years listening primarily to film music, I'm going to arbitrarily start listening to some concert work both new and old, based on recommendations and whim and what's available in my library more than any structured exploration of the world of concert music. Hopefully I'll have more useful observations to make in a few months when I start developing more of an ear for the music!

    Franz Liszt: Dante Symphony
    James Conlon conducting the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra (Amazon)
    This 1856 symphony, based on Dante's Divine Comedy, is less a true symphony than a couple symphonic poems (he says as if he had the knowledge and authority to judge a "true symphony"). It was evidently supposed to be in three movements, Inferno, Purgatorio and Paradiso, but Wagner convinced Liszt that, as a mere mortal, he should not attempt to musically depict the joys of paradise, so it's in two movements, with Purgatorio segueing into a Magnificat. Honestly, the music was pleasant enough, but I'm not sure how often I'll revisit it. I don't know enough of Liszt's repertoire to discuss how this fits in with the rest of his music, and I haven't heard any other recordings of the piece so I don't know how this one holds up. Other reviewers seem to hold Barenboim's recording in high esteem so maybe I'll check that one out someday and see how it compares.

    Kaija Saariaho: Private Gardens (Amazon)
    I was recommended Saariaho's work, and since I tend to enjoy Finnish music, I thought I'd give it a try. She's known for combining live instruments with electronics in innovative and interesting ways. This disc comprises four pieces: Lonh for Soprano and Electronics (1996), has Dawn Upshaw singing in old Provençal while enveloped in electronic sounds, and won Saariaho the Nordic Council Music Prize; Près for Cello and Electronics (1992) is a three-movement piece performed by Anssi Karttunen, which with the synths honestly sounds like it could fit into a horror film; NoaNoa for Flute and Electronics (1992) features Camilla Hoitenga on the flute; Six Japanese Gardens for Percussion and Electronics (1993-95) featuring percussion by Florent Jodelet closes out the disc. If I didn't know what to say about the Liszt, I really don't know what to say about this. On first listen, it was not my cup of tea. I will probably listen again, then give it a month or so before listening again to see whether I feel differently. The whispers and skitters and electronics weren't particularly pleasant to me, and I prefer larger music to solo performers, generally, so maybe I'll check out some of Saariaho's later, bigger work sometime. In the meantime, lots of people seem to like this so by all means check it out.

    Going back to film scores for a moment, I recently listened to The Legend of Silkboy (2010) by Alain Mayrand, which has been released by MovieScore Media, an outfit that focuses on releasing good scores from new composers and obscure films. The description promises to remind listeners to "John Williams, Jerry Goldsmith and Patrick Doyle," and other score fans have likened it to James Horner's scores for animated films and Jablonsky's Steamboy -- all very high praise indeed! Unfortunately, I didn't love it quite so much. The ratio of mickey-mousing music to scoring music is a tad high, and at about 75 minutes of mostly shortish cues, the score just goes on too long. It's certainly good fun, very good at its best, but its best is somewhat buried under the rest. I'd probably rate it at about ***½ stars or just a hair under that. (MovieScore Media)

    Of MSM's most recent crop of releases, both The Lightkeepers (2009), a light dramatic score by Pinar Toprak and Carlos José Alvarez's Deadline (2009), a horror score of the lush, beautiful variety rather than the skittering sort, are sup
  8. The2ndQuest Tri-Mod With a Mouth

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Jan 27, 2000
    star 10
    Though I've picked up a number of albums over the summer (seems like every major rock and metal band has a new album this year!), my most recent purchase is of my favorite band- Disturbed's latest album, Asylum.

    Even though I was initially lukewarm to the first single, Another Way To Die, it's starting to grow on me. It may be the weakest of the first singles they've released from their albums, but it does get damn catchy.

    The title track isn't bad, though I'd deduct points for it, musicly, sounding too similar to other songs they've done (the far superior Indestructible in particular).

    I think the middle run of tracks are the real stars of the album (The Animal, Never Again, Infection, Warrior). Some of the final tracks are a little weak (My Child), though. The "hidden" cover of I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For was a pleasant surprise (though I'd have preferred the their recent cover of Living After Midnight be included instead- or any of the really awesome B-sides from Ten Thousand Fists and Indestructible like Run, Two Worlds or their cover of Midlife Crisis).

    So, overall, while still awesome, it's probably their weakest album- not having the overall superiority of Believe or Ten Thousand Fists, nor any tracks that are as fantastic as the highlights of Indestructible. (by this point, The Sickness is almost it;'s own thing so I wouldn't even try to classify it in comparison to the rest of their body of work).

    That said, it's still worthy of it's likely debut at #1 (which would be their 4th in a row- anyone know where to find the stats for rock band debut records? It was said, back when Indestructible launched at #1, that having 3 #1 albums in a row had only been accomplished by 6 other rock bands in history. I'm curious to see who is in their company both currently and if Asylum makes it number 4).


    The Decade of Disturbed documentary included with the deluxe version was a welcome surprise (I was dissapointed the other week that I had missed the chance to catch the theatrical screening of it) and is a great look at their explosion into stardom as well as their struggle (and eventual victory) at breaking big overseas, and the usual bumps along the road inbetween.
  9. Krusty_the_Clone Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 4, 2006
    star 4
    pelican What we all come to need
    CCR Cosmos Factory and CCR
    and Yes 90125
    And Black Sabbath on Vinyl
  10. Rogue1-and-a-half Manager Emeritus who is writing his masterpiece

    Member Since:
    Nov 2, 2000
    star 7
    Christmas In Nashville (2002) ? Various Artists

    Interesting and entertaining compilation of classic country artists doing Christmas songs. Lot of obscurities here. I was looking for Frankie Laine?s You?re All I Want for Christmas and this is about the only CD you can get with that one. Also present and brilliant are Loretta Lynn?s towering Away in a Manger, Eddy Arnold?s calm and quiet Christmas. Also, Larry Gatlin slays I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day and someone named Bill Anderson does a great version of It Came Upon the Midnight Clear. Fun, if not essential or anything.

    The Christmas Song (2004) ? Nat King Cole

    Collection of Nat King Cole?s Christmas music, mostly taken from his 1963 album of the same title. The music is generally moribund, by the numbers and utterly dull. But Cole?s voice is certainly one of the greatest voices we?ve ever had and the incredible warmth of it suffuses the listener with a feeling of absolute well-being and goes a long way toward rescuing the album.

    Now That?s What I Call Christmas (2001) ? Various Artists

    Well, it?s not what I do, if you get my drift. Or at least it?s partially not. It opens with Nat King Cole?s 1946 recording of The Christmas Song and closes, two CDs later, with Boyz II Men?s 1993 version of Silent Night. The first CD features Gene Autry, Sinatra, Crosby, the Beach Boys, Ella Fitzgerald, Johnny Mathis, etc. The second CD features Springsteen, Harry Connick Jr., Celine Dion, Britney Spears, NSync, etc. The first CD is better than the second, if you couldn?t already tell, but then this is such a by the numbers collection that it?s hardly worth your time. Maybe if you?ve never heard a Christmas comp in your life this stuff will be new to you, but if you?ve listened to the radio for ten minutes in December, you?ve heard ninety percent of this stuff. One brief exception, Ottmar Liebart?s flamenco guitar cover of Deck the Halls, which is both obscure and brilliant. Otherwise, skip this one.

    No Fences (1990) ? Garth Brooks

    The overwhelming success of this artist continues to baffle me. I?ve heard about five of his original albums and could pull enough great songs off of those five to maybe make one good forty minute album. Yes, when his songs are great (The Dance, Unanswered Prayers, Ireland, No One Gets Off In This Town), they are absolutely perfect little gems. But I?m damned if he doesn?t release at least six horrible songs and two mediocre ones for every great one he comes up with. This album, his most popular as memory serves, is no exception. The Thunder Rolls is a good country song, as is New Way to Fly; Unanswered Prayers and Wolves are both great country songs. The rest of the album, including his biggest hit, Friends In Low Places, is about as brainless, clichéd, idiotic and annoying as any music you?ll ever hear. Garth Brooks, who, by the by, lives not half an hour from where I live and can often be seen eating in a local, and rightly legendary, family restaurant that I also frequent, defines filler to me. Local boy, but he certainly hasn?t made good.

    A Christmas Gift For You From Phil Spector (1963) ? Various Artists

    Never gets old. Christmas music done up as glorious, wall-of-sound pop music. Most of the songs here have never been done better; this is like a mixtape of definitive versions. This is partly due to the fact that Spector has chosen about the most annoying Christmas songs in existence; but it is more due to the fact that he?s absolutely blasted the volume up and slapped in a swinging beat. Wild, crazy, incredibly fun.
  11. The2ndQuest Tri-Mod With a Mouth

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Jan 27, 2000
    star 10
    As a follow-up to my previous post, Asylum did debut at #1, making it their 4th consecutive album to do so. The only other rock groups to achieve that are Metallica and the Dave Matthews Band.
  12. Rogue1-and-a-half Manager Emeritus who is writing his masterpiece

    Member Since:
    Nov 2, 2000
    star 7
    Croon & Swoon: A Classic Christmas (1998) ? Various Artists

    As you might guess, a load of different forties, fifties, etc artists doing smooth interpretations of Christmas tunes. A little too slow for me.

    Emo (1999) ? Screeching Weasel

    Fantastic burst of punk energy. The songs are catchy, the style feels sincere and it never bends over backwards just to be accessible. I can make no grand sweeping statements about this one; it isn?t groundbreaking or a significant artistic achievement. But it?s a great rock album and that?s all I want sometimes.

    In Concert (1966) ? Phil Ochs

    Apparently only about half this album was actually recorded in concert, but that?s irrelevant to its greatness. Ochs has a strong set of songs here and he proves that he can hold your attention with just his nasal whine and an acoustic guitar. Occasionally, the between song patter overwhelms the songs, as on Canons of Christianity, a fairly weak song with an absolutely hilarious story as introduction which includes a brilliantly perverse swipe at Bob Dylan. Dylan and Ochs didn?t particularly get along and Ochs isn?t on Dylan?s level, but he?s quite brilliant. Cops of the World is the best song I?ve ever heard about American Imperialism and it remains absolutely pertinent and absolutely harrowing over forty years after it was written. Ochs is harsh, acidic and acerbic, and never more so than with his wit; Love Me, I?m a Liberal is as funny a protest song as you?re likely to hear, but it makes every one of its points. Will definitely be checking out more from Mr. Ochs, based on this album, which I absolutely loved. Essential listening.

    Graceland (1986) ? Paul Simon

    This is a fairly unique album in Simon?s body of work. The brooding poet connects with joy and creates one of the most exuberantly ecstatic albums ever recorded. This is an amazingly comforting album and one that always lifts my spirits. It?s certainly Simon?s best solo album and I might be convinced to say it also exceeds everything he did as part of S&G too. The energy and the wit are unstoppable; it?s the only album on which Simon?s pretty wacky humor actually works. This album always makes me laugh more than I remember it doing before. Only Simon could pair a completely clichéd love lyric with a witty takedown of sexual relations among the elite and the entire culture of elitism: ?Something about her really reminded me of sunlight/Aren?t you the one who was recently awarded the Fulbright?? Absolutely brilliant album. Five stars. Incredible. Never gets old.

    16 Lovers Lane (1988) ? The Go-Betweens

    I had a completely odd and vitriolic reaction to this album the first time I heard it; I may have even posted a vicious review in this very thread. I revisited it to see if I had just been in a bad mood and overstated things. Yes, I think, and no. It?s simply not nearly as great an album as the rock canonologists want you to believe it is or as the Go-Betweens thought it would be. But neither is it quite the pabulum I originally took it for. It?s a weak pop album, trying for profundity and beauty and ending up with, in almost every instance, horribly bad poetry and preciousness. Quiet Heart is admittedly a great song.
  13. Rogue1-and-a-half Manager Emeritus who is writing his masterpiece

    Member Since:
    Nov 2, 2000
    star 7
    Adventures of the O.C. Supertones (1996) ? The O.C. Supertones

    The first, and best, album by this Orange County ska group. Blasts out of the gate and never really lets up. On their later albums, they started slowing the tempo down, going more acoustic (acoustic!!) and dropping the brass out slowly. This is probably their only real masterpiece; after this, they lose the power of their conviction that ska is a holy pursuit and begin blanding out. This album, under forty minutes, is an incredibly joyous listening experience. At times incredibly silly, always very simple, never less than engaging, charming and witty.

    Jonathan Sings! (1983) ? Jonathan Richman

    I was familiar with early stuff by the Modern Lovers, you know, Roadrunner and Pablo Picasso, for instance, which is some of the best seventies punk stuff around. By this time, however, lead singer/songwriter Richman has settled down to get comfortable with the music directly before punk, rock?n?roll. This is a warm, likable album that brims with humanism and empathy. It?s not trying to be anything profound, but Richman has a great gift for catchy melody and witty lyrics and, at heart, it seems, he?s a romanticist. ?That cheap guitar is soundin? thin/that saxophone sounds like the cat dragged it in/but I want it in my life/cause this kind of music . . . is the kind I like,? he says in his own particular half spoken, half sung cadence at one point. And I agree with him. Beautiful. Richman may never have written a better song than Not Yet Three, a blissful glimpse at the world from the perspective of a two year old: ?I?m stronger than you, you?re only bigger than me,? Richman sings and the truth of that falls on the ear like pure love and compassion. A beautiful, surprising album, returning music to pre-Beatles, back when a conga drum was all you needed to fall in love and everything was innocent. How can a singer stand such themes and not be twee? Well, Richman does it. A gorgeous album.

    Kalfou Danjere (1995) ? Boukman Ekperyans

    A wonderful group blasting out of Haiti with a heavy mojo and a sweet Caribbean tinged funk sound. Every time you think you?ve got the album locked down, they do a swerve to something like the luminous and beautiful Eve or the epic throwdown of the title track. They?re as apt to praise the Creator as to worship Jesus as to run to the witchdoctor as to dance with Kali. Occasionally menacing, occasionally beautiful. Certainly a masterpiece. English lyrics are inside the liner notes, but you won?t need them.

    American Guitar (2000) ? Pat Donohue

    Wonderful, wonderful album of acoustic guitar instrumentals. It opens with a ragtime explosion on Novocaine. Before the album is over, Donohue has covered folk standard Arkansas Traveler, Stephen Foster?s Hard Times, Django Reinhardt?s Tears, The Star Spangled Banner and Scott Joplin?s Maple Leaf Rag, which is as amazing on the guitar as it is on the piano. In between, he?s done up his own compositions, all of them building on folk/blues progressions with the occasional country slide and jazz lick thrown in. American Guitar is a pretentious title; the album lives up to it.

    Learning to Crawl (1984) ? The Pretenders

    I still think my favorite Pretenders is their hard charging, punked up debut. This one is more ambient, slower, more emotional and less energetic. This is not to say that it is at all a bad album; it?s a masterpiece actually. My City Is Gone manages to survive being co-opted by Rush Limbaugh as a piece of legitimately moving conservative rock. And, of course, Back On the Chain Gang is as wonderful a piece of weird pop as came out in 84, I?m betting. A beautiful album; a band in flux, moving on, hanging up, struggling, but succeeding. I guess I?ll always go for Stop Your Sobbing over this, but then the beauty is . . . I don?t have to choose. Five star album.
  14. CuppaJoe Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 24, 2002
    star 4
    Interpol - Interpol

    Their fourth album, self-titled, is probably their best since their debut, Turn On The Bright Lights. It has all the icy soundscapes, dark hooks, and sleek, sexy basslines that made their first album so great but with added depth and a new orchestral layer to their sound.

    Definitely worth checking out. Here are a couple of samples:

    Interpol - "Success"

    Interpol - "Summer Well"
  15. Rogue1-and-a-half Manager Emeritus who is writing his masterpiece

    Member Since:
    Nov 2, 2000
    star 7
    Light of the Stable (1979) ? Emmylou Harris

    One of the greatest female voices to ever grace the world softly spins a web with luminous strands made up of old Christmas carols, the soft bend of an acoustic guitar string and quietly crooning backing vocals. This is one of the best Christmas albums ever recorded, I think. The title track is astoundingly beautiful and then there?s a sharp, glorious acoustic solo during O Little Town of Bethlehem. And kudos for covering Beautiful Star of Bethlehem, an all too often entirely forgotten Christmas classic. Amazing album; truly amazing.

    Christmas Through the Years (1997) ? Guy Lombardo

    Compilation of Lombardo?s band doing Christmas songs and, well, quite a few that aren?t Christmas tunes at all. I mean one doesn?t expect to throw on a CD called ?Christmas Through the Years? and then suddenly it?s the theme to The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, but whatever. The older recordings, this being the only CD release for some of them, are better than the newer ones. The original recording of Winter Wonderland (I mean, the very original one; the very first recording anyone did of the song) is pretty brilliant and, while not a Christmas tune, Enjoy Yourself, It?s Later Than You Think is a great slice of 1930s swinging nihilism. It was of great interest to me, though I don?t know that I?d say you need to make it a top priority in your life.

    Conspiracy No. 5 (1997) ? Third Day

    Third Day?s debut was their Southern Rock album; Time was their Folk Rock album; this is their Grunge Rock album. Sadly, it?s not up to par with the other two albums that make up their otherwise brilliant leading trio of albums. This is a good album; there?s little to complain about, unless it bothers you that there?s so little variation in tone and sound here. Offerings is still their best with their self-titled debut and Time tied for second. This one is quite a bit lower than those. But it?s certainly better than the pop/soft rock crap they?re doing now. I can except that they?ll never do another album as good as Offerings or Time. I wish they?d just try to do one as good as this one; shouldn?t be that hard.

    Cutting Edge (1997) ? Delirious?

    This, their first major label release, was actually just a release of their four independent EPs on two CDs. It still stands as maybe their very best album. This is Delirious stripped down with none of the sonic experimentation that made Mezzamorphis such a delicious treat; and it doesn?t rock as hard as King of Fools; and it isn?t as conceptually daring as Glo. But Martin Smith remains one of the best melodicists in contemporary gospel music and this is just stripped down Brit-rock at its most comforting and uplifting. A beautiful double album that I think is still my favorite of theirs. Over two and a half hours of music; not a single dead spot.

    Passing Through (2004) ? Randy Travis

    Not one of Travis? best. His voice is always incredible, evocative and warm with the best phrasing country music has seen since Willie Nelson. He?s at his best doing either straight up country, like on his still arresting debut, Storms of Life, or straight gospel, as on his best album, the brilliant, energetic Worship & Faith. On this one, he does a more stereotypical type of country gospel that is the bane of most country artists; not enough real faith to be legitimately inspiring, not enough sin to be legitimately fascinating. He still has a way with a couplet and some of the songs here are not bad; My Daddy Never Was is a beautifully devastated ode to alcoholism and Pick Up the Oars and Row is a peppy, feisty call to slap yourself around a little and get on with whatever you have to do. But, on the whole, this one is a very weak album. Too bad.
  16. Rogue1-and-a-half Manager Emeritus who is writing his masterpiece

    Member Since:
    Nov 2, 2000
    star 7
    Peace (2003) ? Jim Brickman

    Evocative, warm piano instrumentals are the heart of this album. Various vocalists drop in to help out on some of the Christmas numbers here, but Brickman?s gorgeous, simple arrangements for the piano are what differentiate him from dozens of other ?new age? pianists. Beautiful, lovely album, at its best at its simplest, which is pretty often. Standouts, include a great God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, with a particularly brilliant shift to a major key halfway through, and a slow, almost ambient version of Jingle Bells.

    Foggy Mountain Gospel (2005) ? Flatt & Scruggs

    Two disc compilation of the duo?s classic gospel recordings. Sometimes, they bring the passion and the power, as on God Gave Noah the Rainbow Sign, No Hiding Place Down Here, On the Rock Where Moses Stood (an old A.P. Carter standard), and a fantastic blue grass rave version of When the Saints Go Marching In. At other times, they?re insufferably twee and even a bit odd. My Mother Prays So Loud in Her Sleep, for instance, seems to sketch a portrait of someone who needs a good stint in a sleep clinic as opposed to a saint. I don?t know that I?d exactly recommend this, though there is some good stuff here.

    Cheap Seats (1993) ? Alabama

    Uh, yeah, totally forgettable country-pop, leaning on the pop. Angels Among Us is fairly pretty. Cold Water Blues has some nice guitar work. There?s nothing here of note.

    The Ultimate Collection (2002) ? Hank Williams

    Two discs and with 42 songs, it does 40 Greatest Hits, the two disc 1978 album that essentially started the Williams revival, which hasn?t exactly died down yet, two better, I guess. In a song by song shakedown, these albums are fairly similar. This one has more of his completely stripped recordings, by which I mean it?s often just Williams and his guitar rather than his full band. I wouldn?t tell you to pick one or the other of these two great compilations. Just let a little time pass between listening to both of them. One of the most astounding bodies of work of any American musical artist Williams had and I don?t know what exactly makes this ?ultimate,? but then these songs are just evergreens. Always does me good to hear this stuff again; nothing like it in all this world. About as good an introduction as 40 Greatest Hits, which means a great one.

    Country?s 20 Classic Gospel Songs of the Century (2004) ? Various Artists

    Brilliant compilation that spans the century to gather up great country artists doing mostly great versions of great gospel hymns. These are all of a traditional bent; the only two artists newer than the seventies are Alison Krause (with a gorgeous version of I Know Who Holds Tomorrow) and Vince Gill (who earns his spot with his lilting and evocative Go Rest High On That Mountain). Otherwise, there?s Willie Nelson?s honky tonk riff on Uncloudy Day, Merle Haggard?s live Jesus Hold My Hand, the Stanley Brother?s aching, high lonesome Angel Band, Red Foley?s surprisingly moving Peace in the Valley, Dolly Parton?s sweet Coat of Many Colors. Some of the songs aren?t that great, but this is still a fascinating listen. Lots of fun.
  17. Rogue1-and-a-half Manager Emeritus who is writing his masterpiece

    Member Since:
    Nov 2, 2000
    star 7
    Friends of Mine (2003) ? Adam Green

    Used to front a punk band, I think, but here he?s got surprisingly brilliant melodicism. His lyrics are generally a complete mishmash of attempts to be even more bizarre and outré than Dylan. Occasionally, as on the hilarious couplet, ?I don?t go out for months/I don?t go out for *****,? he succeeds, but he more often fails. But the melodies are so unbelievably catchy and the music somewhat sixties/seventies folk rock retro that you don?t care. Highlights include the gorgeous Jessica, an elegy for Jessica Simpson and her lost soul, and the lovely, warm title track. Most songs are about two minutes, give or take, so these are sort of sketchy, but likable in their very off the cuff nature. I will say that, as fan of some incredibly profane and filthy hip-hop, I had thought that nothing in music would ever shock me again, but Green?s No Legs made my jaw drop and may be the single sickest song I?ve ever heard. Oh, well; rest of the album is good.

    Thriller (1982) ? Michael Jackson

    Jackson?s solo masterpiece. Well, heck, it?s probably his masterpiece even counting his amazing albums with The Jackson 5. Off the Wall is nearly as good, but Thriller bests even that solo album. The album whipsaws from menacing party Thriller to ethereal, gorgeous ballad Human Nature to paranoid rant Billie Jean. Every song here, save P.Y.T., is a keeper and it has, in the three song run of Thriller/Beat It/Billie Jean, one of the most astonishing trios in the history of music. Billie Jean is, far and away, his best song; this album is his best. This is unbelievably great music.

    Damn the Torpedoes (1979) ? Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers

    Never gets old. One of the best pop rock albums ever recorded from where I stand. Hard charging, sentimental, up tempo, not too bleak, not too bitter, not too happy. This is one of those albums that has more great songs than most Greatest Hits collections. Every song is a winner; my favorite is either the country drenched closer Louisiana Rain or the affirmative Even the Losers, with it?s incredible guitar solo. Great album; defines ?solid.?

    Beauty & the Beast (1991) ? Various Artists

    Surprisingly great soundtrack. I think the film is overrated in Disney?s canon, but this is a great album. The first nine tracks, the songs from the movie, are for the kids (or especially witty adults); the next five, orchestral selections from the score, are for the adults (or especially sensitive kids); the last track, a pop reworking of the title track with Celine Dion and Peabo Bryson, is for the teenagers (or especially stupid adults). The songs are incredibly strong and funny and, in the title track as sung by Angela Lansbury and the hilarious, energetic Be Our Guest, absolutely transcendent. The orchestral sections are astoundingly great, better than most live action movie scores. Great listen.

    I?ll Lead You Home (1995) ? Michael W. Smith

    Smith?s best album, possibly excepting his instrumental orchestral album Freedom, and one of the best pop albums I?ve ever heard. Smith excels at warm comfort, but he?s also witty on this album, something he rarely is. Every song on this album is brilliant. I never get tired of it.
  18. Rogue1-and-a-half Manager Emeritus who is writing his masterpiece

    Member Since:
    Nov 2, 2000
    star 7
    Performance (1970) ? Various Artists

    Unbelievably bizarre soundtrack to the equally bizarre film. An amazing listen, even at just barely over half an hour. It opens with Randy Newman?s blistering Gone Dead Train, moves into the proto-electronica of Jack Nitzsche?s title piece, slides into some of Ry Cooder?s best instrumental work, gives Jagger a chance to do a solo number, brings out the sitar for The Hashishan, lets Nietzsche craft a luminous piano and strings number with Harry Flowers, hits you upside the head with The Last Poets? incendiary early rap, Wake Up, *******, then hands you over to Merry Clayton to wind you down with some of the creepiest music you?ll ever hear before letting Newman take you out with Gone Dead Train again. This is not necessarily a profound artistic achievement, but it is absolutely essential. You?ll never find another album quite like this one.

    Born to Run (1975) ? Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band

    Thirty-five years on, this album hasn?t lost one bit of its genius spark. It?s one of Springsteen?s unapologetic masterpieces (others include Nebraska, The Rising, Darkness on the Edge of Town, etc) and maybe the definitive album of the 1970s. It?s epic, sweeping fear and loneliness. All the joy of Greetings from Asbury Park has slowly drained out and this is a desperate album about characters that find a strange kind of euphoria in having nothing to lose anymore. The title track is as euphoric a song as has ever been released and Thunder Road is probably still both Springsteen?s lyrical masterpiece and his best vocal performance. None of the other songs are slouches though. I even think the strangely maligned Meeting Across the River is an island of still, haunting tragedy and a great song. Surely, though, all this was under the bridge; if the time ever comes when I have to actively defend this album, then society will have surely completely collapsed.

    At San Quentin (2000) ? Johnny Cash

    Reissue of the classic 1969 album with a whopping nine tracks added, including a rocketing Big River, a raucous and rowdy cover of the old hymn The Old Account Was Settled, and a five minute closing medley that just blows the doors off. The tracks that were on the original album aren?t slouches either; Cash waxes hilarious in his spoken word clown act intro to Starkville City Jail and new songs I Don?t Know Where I?m Bound and San Quentin are brilliant and beautifully sung. Definitely an essential. Considered by many to be better than At Folsom. I think I may be among those many.

    Saturday Night Fever (1977) ? Various Artists

    Squandering all the cool points I earned from listening to San Quentin, I listen to Saturday Night Fever. This is about the most processed and slick album imaginable, but it captures some incredible joie de vivre. It?s the only disco album I own and the only one you need, in my opinion. Still holds up; stuffed to the gills with the best disco had to offer (thanks for leaving Disco Duck off). Astounding from its iconic Stayin? Alive opening to its epic Disco Inferno ending. Party albums don?t come much better than this.

    Live at the Cellar Door (1990) ? Richie Havens

    Great album, compiled from two live concerts recorded by Havens, but never released. The first eight tracks are from a 1970 set at the Cellar Door and the last four are from a 1972 set at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium. The first set is better, but they?re both good. This is Havens stripped down and acoustic, but he brings his own particular mojo to covers of All Along the Watchtower, Fire and Rain, God Bless the Child, Helplessly Hoping, etc. Havens is at his best interpreting someone else?s song, it seems to me, which is rather odd. Even The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down, a song I?ve always loathed, is powerful and beautiful in Havens? hands. The ending track is a nearly ten minute medley of folk tune Nobody Knows the Trouble I?ve Seen and Harrison?s My Sweet Lord, which works better than you might think. Great, wonderful
  19. The_Four_Dot_Elipsis Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 3, 2005
    star 5
    Spent ten whole dollars on The Essential Alan Parsons Project. Money well spent, surprisingly. I like their hits, but didn't expect to embrace their art rock stuff. Turns out there's nary a weak track in the collection. Good investment, says I.
  20. Ramza JC Head Admin and RPF Manager

    Administrator
    Member Since:
    Jul 13, 2008
    star 7
    I might recommend looking into the individual albums - they're pretty much all concept albums, and you sort of miss that effect with greatest hits.

    So, it's been months since I posted in here, and being an album guy, that actually translates into a lot of music. I suppose I'll cover a couple of the highlights:

    Beyond the Space Beyond the Time - Pathfinder (2010)

    Hey kids! Do you like power metal? Do you like symphonic power metal? Do you enjoy Rhapsody of Fire but want to seem significantly more hipster - whatever that means in the context of heavy metal? Then you should check out Pathfinder - not only are do they have a good sound, bad grammar, and all the cheese you expect out of these kind of acts, but they're also unsigned, making it perfectly okay to sip PBR while talking about them ironically. It's like Animal Collective but with elves!

    Joking aside, this is a fun album. Not a lot of experimentation, the usual "It's like I'm really playing DnD!" goofiness, but I can't help but love it.

    Into the Crypts of Blasphemy - Interment (2010)

    You ever sat down, looked at your iTunes library, and thought to yourself "I need more old school death metal"? No? Then you're obviously not me, because that's exactly what I ran into, and Interment was more than happy to oblige. Sure, the release date may say 2010, but be ready to party like it's 1988, because the sound on this sucker goes back to the dank, dirty foundations of everyone's favorite not-thrash extreme metal subgenre, when Chuck Schuldiner hadn't even begun to work with progressive rock elements, Carcass wasn't even considering releasing an album with the word "Heart" in the title, and Celtic Frost was nowhere near... wait, didn't Cold Lake come out in 1988? Forget that last example.

    The point is that Interment is only innovative in the sense that they deliberately shuck off decades worth of musical evolution. That's more or less exactly what I wanted, and if you're like me, you'll dig this album enough to get your money's worth. If you're not like me, you'll either respond with "WHAT THE SAM **** IS THAT?!" or "Needs more Swedish," and that's just fine.

    Bebop's Heartbeat - Charlie Parker/Dizzy Gillespie

    What's there to say about Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie that hasn't been said already? Not much, and I'd do them a disservice to try and sum up in mere words how awesome this kind of collaboration is. These men are like unto gods of jazz, and unless you're the type who thinks that the genre didn't get good until the advent of free jazz, you'll enjoy this album. And if your only exposure to jazz is a certain saxophone playing loser with the initials K.G., then I suggest you get this album and listen to it repeatedly. You won't be sorry.

    Confessions of a Celtic Music Junkie - Marc Gunn (2009)

    I've been a fan of Marc Gunn for a very long time, mostly due to my being a subscriber to his Celtic and Irish Music Podcast for nearly the length of its existence, and because there's something about his distinct vocal style that appeals to my ears. Confessions of a Celtic Music Junkie is available for my favorite price - absolutely nothing - at his website, and at 20 items clocking in at 1.1 hours, that's quite the bargain. It spans the gamut of his solo career, and ranges from traditional pub songs, to original works, to cat-themed excerpts from his Drinking Songs for Cat Lovers album. The latter are... tolerable... the others are legitimately enjoyable, and it's not like you'll be any worse for the wear financially if it's not your cup of beer.
  21. The_Four_Dot_Elipsis Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 3, 2005
    star 5
    I'm thinking I might just end up doing that. I'm going to be on the lookout for The Turn of a Friendly Card in particular. Thing is, the local shops don't exactly stock up on this sort of thing...
  22. Ramza JC Head Admin and RPF Manager

    Administrator
    Member Since:
    Jul 13, 2008
    star 7
    In a pinch there's always iTunes, and Amazon's got it for $7.98 hard copy. I quite agree, though, APP can be ridiculously hard to find through the conventional outlets (Particularly in the likely scenario that there's no record store nearby), and it's rather annoying.
  23. Rogue1-and-a-half Manager Emeritus who is writing his masterpiece

    Member Since:
    Nov 2, 2000
    star 7
    Different Lifestyles (1991) ? BeBe & CeCe Winans

    Ultra-smooth, contemporary R&B gospel from brother and sister duo. Too smooth for my tastes. Lacks any kind of grit or any kind of melody that?ll stay with you longer than ten minutes. Of particular note is the absurdly awful The Blood track which features a guest rap about the power of the blood of Christ by M.C. Hammer. Must be heard to be believed, that one. Nothing else here is begging to be heard for any reason.

    Club Sodade (2003) ? Various Artists

    An album of various artists remixing classic Cesaria Evora tracks. Works better than you?d think. I guess most of these people are Evora fans, as any right thinking person is, so they treat the songs with respect, but create evocative, electronic spaces for her amazing voice to work. Standouts are an incredibly bizarre Besame Mucho courtesy of Kraftwerk-covering Senor Coconut and a raging techno-beatdown of Sodade by DJ Rork and Demon Richie. But I enjoyed this whole album. A pretty good remix album, if you ask me, which are few and far between.

    Christmas In the Heart (2009) ? Bob Dylan

    The punchline to a million jokes, but does it hold up? Not really. I?m about the biggest Bob Dylan fan you?re likely to meet, but this album is a disappointment. He phrases the hell out of Winter Wonderland and Christmas Island is a crooning delight. But those songs only point up how weak the rest of the album is. Were Dylan to actually bring his completely idiosyncratic style of phrasing and interpretation to these songs, the album would be brilliant. But he mostly sleepwalks through it. Probably the worst album he?s ever done.

    A Reason to Live (1993) ? Cindy Morgan

    Not a great fan of Morgan and in my opinion she didn?t really create a great album until her fourth album, Listen. This is her second album and I find it pretty dull. It?s mainly up tempo dance pop numbers, but she?s at her best when she strips away some of the production and works on actually emoting, as on the beautiful Reaching In and the compassionate Someone Believes In You. On the whole, pretty bad.

    Roll My Blues Away (1997) ? Tony Furtado

    Furtado is probably the best acoustic slide guitarist alive today. This album has some absolutely luminously beautiful, folky tracks. The minor key, haunted Ghost of Blind Willie Johnson is stupendous, as is the melodic, gorgeous Can You Hear the Rain? Some tracks are more up tempo and there are even vocals on a couple of tracks, like the eight minute Boat?s Up the River, but the album is at its best when it?s mainly just Furtado?s amazing slide work. Great album.
  24. Rogue1-and-a-half Manager Emeritus who is writing his masterpiece

    Member Since:
    Nov 2, 2000
    star 7
    Supersunnyspeedgraphic the LP (2003) ? Ben Folds

    A collection of music previously only released digitally, on a couple of singles and a couple of EPs. Fold?s witty liner notes parallel my thoughts on the necessity of a physical object on which to focus your artistic love and his slight dissatisfaction with the idea of art that only exists digitally. Great compilation though. The nasty, snarky All U Can Eat is one of Fold?s best songs, I think, and There?s Always Someone Cooler Than You and the heartfelt Learn to Live With What You Are aren?t that far behind. He does a gorgeous cover of The Divine Comedy?s Songs of Love and, for a different perspective, an infamous, beautiful piano based version of Dr. Dre?s ******* Ain?t ****, which is one of the best covers I?ve ever heard, taking all the anger and rage of the original and turning it into a compassionate, melancholy ode to mistakes we make. Completely without irony, which everyone seems to accuse it of for some reason. Anyway, great album; very enjoyable.

    Every Step of the Way (2002) ? Peppino D?Agostino

    I?m trying to think if there?s any other instrument aside from D?Agostino?s acoustic guitar heard on this album and I think there is not. As memory serves, this album is entirely the acoustic guitar, unaccompanied by any other sounds. At its worst, the album all rather blends together. At its best, it?s stunning. The gorgeous Under the Same Sky is a highlight, as is the amazingly fast shred out Running Wild.

    The Ultimate Collection (1995) ? The Jackson 5

    Blasts out of the gate with I Want You Back, proceeds immediately to ABC, and then to The Love You Save. If you?re still conscious after that one-two-three punch of pure pop delirium you have eighteen more tracks to listen too, spanning the Jackson 5?s entire career and picking up quite a few tracks from various solo projects too, like a euphoric Rockin? Robin off of Michael?s first solo album and a retro-soul cover of Daddy?s Home off of Jermaine?s solo debut. Blisteringly great collection. For a CD from 95, the sound is really great too. One small quibble: the album ends with a modern (1995) remix of the Jackson 5?s cover of It?s Your Thing that?s nearly six minutes and it?s pretty awful. I would have preferred a couple more songs by the originals, instead of this fairly limp remix. But that?s a small complaint; mostly, this is highly recommended, especially if you haven?t ever really gotten into the 5.

    Greatest Hits: HIStory, Vol. 1 (2001) ? Michael Jackson

    So, when Jackson released the two disc HIStory: Past, Present & Future, Book I (now there?s an unpretentious title), the second disc was the new material and the first disc was a new greatest hits compilation. This is that first disc compilation released all on its own, in case you don?t care about the new material and, aside from his groovin? cover of Come Together, trust me, you don?t. This is more than serviceable as a Jackson mixtape, which is how I judge compilations. All the massive hits are here, though you?ll be aware of several favorites that are missing, given the fact that some of Jackson?s albums are gold from start to finish. This doesn?t replace Thriller or Off the Wall, and obviously doesn?t cover his career with the Jackson 5, but it?s a great listen.

    20th Century Masters ? The Millennium Collection: The Best of Bill Monroe (1999) ? Bill Monroe

    Has some good stuff from Monroe, the father of bluegrass. Like most of the Millennium Collection discs, it?s too short at barely over thirty minutes. But a fair introduction to Monroe and his ?high lonesome? sound.
  25. The_Four_Dot_Elipsis Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 3, 2005
    star 5
    Took darthramza's advice and have started my APP collection in earnest with The Turn of a Friendly Card. It was probably the album I owned most of the tracks from anyway, but whatever. It includes a pretty awesome rough mix of "Games People Play," which Woolfson mention in the liner notes as having "More Cowbell."

    Also snagged me the soundtrack for The Social Network. Not normally my kind of music, but it's surprisingly effective background music for when I'm doing my writing.