Amph What was the last album you purchased/heard?

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

  1. Rogue1-and-a-half Manager Emeritus who is writing his masterpiece

    Member Since:
    Nov 2, 2000
    star 8
    The Essential Marvin Gaye (2005) ? Marvin Gaye

    Don?t believe the title. This isn?t anywhere close to the essential stuff. This is, to begin with, entirely live cuts of Gaye?s biggest hits. Not only that, but the live recordings are absolutely awful; this is one of the worst sounding CDs I?ve ever heard. The sound is muddy and usually one or two of the instruments are fully fifty percent louder than everything else on the track. These are great songs and it?s true that Gaye was a powerhouse live, but you can do better than this. Well, really, just start with What?s Goin? On and then move from there. This is a disastrously bad album.

    All I Really Want For Christmas (2005) ? Steven Curtis Chapman

    Like everything Chapman?s done since Declaration, this is patchy. Most of this album is rote, but it has moments that are really brilliant. O Little Town of Bethlehem gets slowed down to a glacial pace in a piano based version drenched in sorrow and melancholy, for example. And Chapman?s classic Christmas is All In the Heart gets a great re-recording here with Vince Gill contributing some astonishingly evocative guitar lines. The album as a whole isn?t worth your time, but those two songs probably are.

    Fingers Crossed (2004) ? Architecture in Helsinki

    Australian group mixes up indie pop with electronic pop and creates a confection so sickeningly sweet it?ll turn your stomach. The first vocals on this album are quite literally an incredibly high pitched, breathy female voice singing, ?La la la la la la la la.? It kind of stays in that mode for the whole album which is mercifully short. The singers croon in a sort of breathy castrato warble over gently plucked guitars and light electronic percussion and beeps and twits and such. Did I say twits? I meant tweets. Or did I? The only interesting track is the wordless Spring 2008, which has an odd Japanese tinge to it. Beyond that, even at two minutes these songs are too long and too twee for human consumption. Ick.

    1 (2000) ? The Beatles

    Slammed by a lot of people as a pure experiment in marketing. I couldn?t care less about that though. What do I care about? I care about the fact that this CD has twenty-friggin?-seven of the greatest pop songs you?ll ever hear in your friggin? life jammed together in a chronological dance through the career of the best pop group in history. From Love Me Do to The Long and Winding Road, this album covers it all in, up until just last year, the best remastered sound in which one could hear The Beatles. Every time through this album, you discover something new even in songs you?ve heard hundreds of times before; these songs will never die, not ever, and this CD is a blisteringly wonderful listening experience. Well, okay, so Yellow Submarine sucks and always has and All You Need Is Love really sucks and always will, but other than that, this is something like the Platonic Ideal of pop music. Incredible; no one will ever equal this stuff.

    Bad (1987) ? Michael Jackson

    A lesser album than his two solo masterpieces, Thriller and Off the Wall, but still a worthy album. The production sounds more dated here than on either Thriller or Off the Wall and occasionally that matters. On the sweeping, stupendous Man in the Mirror, the violent, gruesome Smooth Criminal, the paranoid rant Leave Me Alone, and the brilliant groupie bash Dirty Diana, it doesn?t. Special brickbats reserved for Just Good Friends; Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson and you couldn?t come up with anything better than this crap? Please.
  2. Rogue1-and-a-half Manager Emeritus who is writing his masterpiece

    Member Since:
    Nov 2, 2000
    star 8
    Evolver (2008) ? John Legend

    Utterly bland smooth R&B album. Plays okay while you?re listening to it, but when it?s over, you?ll be hard pressed to remember a thing about it, except possibly the anthemic closer If You?re Out There and Andre 3000?s guest rap on Green Light. If you?re going to explicitly reference a Beatles album in your album title, you?d better having something to back that **** up. This one doesn?t.

    Cream of the Crap, Vol. 1 (2002) ? The Hellacopters

    Collection of B-sides from Swedish rock band. One of the songs here is called Misanthropic High and really that?s what the entire album should be called. This is the real stuff, down and dirty, punked up rock?n?roll. This album just thunders over you, tramples you in the mud and then kicks you in the head for good measure. I?ll definitely be checking out more from these guys. Of special note, don?t miss the rampaging cover of Gimme Shelter which starts slow and faithful to the original and ends like a frigging sledgehammer to the head. Just a kiss away? Nah, hellacloserthanthat. Check these guys out if, like me, you hadn?t heard of them before.

    Fun (1994) ? Daniel Johnston

    After years of toiling as an independent musician in Houston and building a pretty big fanbase with his home recorded tapes, manic depressive and often institutionalized Johnston got his break with this album, produced by one of the Butthole Surfers and touted by no lesser a light than Kurt Cobain. It?s hard to get what they found so thrilling about it. Johnson?s voice is a muppety squeak, his songwriting is purposely nonsensical and the instrumentation here is . . . well, rough is a compliment. There?s nothing wrong with non-aesthetic voices (see Dylan, Bob; Cash, Johnny; Johnson, Robert; etc.) or with surrealist songwriting (see Dylan, Bob; Morrison, Jim; Lennon, John; etc.) or rough instrumentation (see Dickies, The; Hell, Richard & the Voidoids; Pistols, The Sex; etc.), but Johnston just adds up to a whole lot of nothing being marketed as authenticity purely because it couldn?t be marketed as nothing else. It was an interesting listen in much the same way Skip Spence?s OAR is an interesting listen, which is to say it sort of reaffirms that people with severe mental problems not only see things differently but also hear things differently than the rest of us. But I would say that this may have the least replay value of any album I?ve ever heard. Even OAR had moments you might choose to listen to again.

    Highly Evolved (2002) ? The Vines

    They used to be called the saviors of rock and if you listen to this album, you?ll understand why that was. This is a great, sprawling album with a variety of styles executed nearly flawlessly. The breezy, thumping title track, the punk reggae Factory, the heartfelt, evocative ballad Country Yard, the high energy Get Free . . . these are great moments by any reasonable standard. Toward the end, the album begins to lose energy; Mary Jane is at least two minutes too long and the album never recovers, especially since 1969, the closing track is at least three minutes too long. But it?s a great listen and, though I didn?t hear it when it first came out, it?s easy to imagine just how incredibly exciting it was.

    20th Century Masters: The Millennium Collection ? The Best of George Strait (2002) ? George Strait

    Like a lot of modern country artists, Strait is capable of extreme greatness and also unbearable schtickiness. This album neatly encapsulates both. On the great side, there?s Baby Blue, one of the most gorgeous songs I think I?ve ever heard, You Look So Good In Love, I Cross My Heart and maybe a couple of others. On the schtick side, there?s Strait?s biggest hit, All My Ex?s Live In Texas, several absolutely dire attempts at Western Swing, and a few others. The album also loses major, major points for not including The Chair, probably Strait?s very best song; I don?t know how anyone could leave that song off if they knew it and if they didn?t know it,
  3. Rogue1-and-a-half Manager Emeritus who is writing his masterpiece

    Member Since:
    Nov 2, 2000
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    Greatest Hits, Vol. 2 (1996) ? The Judds

    I suppose people who hear me talk would think I don?t like pop country. It?s true I have great affinity for a rootsier sound, but to say that I don?t care for Tim McGraw because I don?t like pop country is a misapprehension. I dislike Tim McGraw not because he does pop country but because he sucks at it. Who?s pretty good? Well, these gals, for one or two. A short compilation, not even forty minutes, so it flies by and when it?s hot, like on Turn It Loose, Young Love and Let Me Tell You About Love, it really cooks. Occasionally, as on John Deere Tractor or Guardian Angel, it gets too maudlin for me. But if you can?t get behind Born to Be Blue, you take authenticity a little too seriously, I think.

    American Pie (1971) ? Don McLean

    Listened to this album for my bad music thread (which I?ll be getting back too soon, I promise). The title track is far and away McLean?s most famous tune and also one of his most annoying. The rest of the album probably doesn?t totally deserve ridicule. It?s generally a slightly poppy folk sound that McLean rides and while it?s definitely middle of the road and is often bland, it?s occasionally, as on Vincent and Empty Chairs, absolutely lovely.

    Completely (2002) ? Diamond Rio

    Completely forgettable. The boys do harmonize nice and the album has a nicely produced pop country vibe. But that?s sort of definitively damning with faint praise and on purpose too. I Believe, a song about grief and hope, is legitimately moving and has a gorgeous, evocative guitar solo, but beyond that, the album is entirely bland.

    Milk (2008) ? Various Artists

    Great soundtrack for the critically acclaimed film that I still haven?t seen (and am in no real hurry to do so, given my lack of excitement about Sean Penn as an actor). The first six tracks are pop songs and the first four, David Bowie?s Queen Bitch, Sly & the Family Stone?s Everyday People, The Hues Corporations? Rock the Boat and Sylvester?s You Make Me Feel, run together into a solid fifteen minute block of party music. After the next two, which are more forgettable, the bulk of the album is given over to Elfman?s score, which is pretty good, if not up to his highest standards, or at least not consistently. The last six or seven tracks, starting with one of Elfman?s best Weepy Donuts, are a beautiful elegy and the album really soared during that sequence. So, a fantastic, stomping beginning and a moving, evocative ending. Between the album is not great, but neither is it ever anything close to bad. A very solid soundtrack album.

    The Christmas Sessions (2005) ? MercyMe

    Surprisingly bold and interesting Christmas album. The song choice is entirely traditional, but they take risks. Sometimes they pay off and sometimes they don?t. There?s a jazzy medley of Winter Wonderland/White Christmas and a down home country version of Silent Night that both work brilliantly. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen is paired with Carol of the Bells and it builds to a near-TSO level frenzy of thundering orchestra and choir. Better than most.
  4. darthdrago Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 31, 2003
    star 4
    Currently listening to the remastered Pretty Hate Machine by NIN.

    So far it sounds fantastic, a little bit more crisp than the original release (which I first bought in the summer of 1991, so yes, I'm ancient). Almost sounds like it was recorded only recently.

    As an added incentive to buy, Trent included a bonus track: his cover of Queen's "Get Down Make Love" that was originally only available as a b-side of the "Sin" single.

    I bought it on CD, so I don't know if it's available as a download yet. The hipsters would have you believe that The Downward Spiral is the NIN album to own if you were to choose only one, but I say it's this one instead.
  5. Forcefire Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 17, 2000
    star 4
    The War for Infinity - Adam WarRock

    I'm a very amateur hip hop enthusiast compared to many, but I like to think that what I know and like is pretty good. This is good stuff, a concept album that combines Marvel comics, a bit of social commentary, and even public radio on the bonus track by way of quality rhymes over quality beats. You could argue that he fits into nerdcore, but I think he's more than that. In any case, this is how you fuse geeky interests with song. (Not that hip hop and comic books don't go way back, it's just that the comics love is so thoroughly on display here.) Highly recommended.

    Here's an example.
  6. Rogue1-and-a-half Manager Emeritus who is writing his masterpiece

    Member Since:
    Nov 2, 2000
    star 8
    The Definitive Collection (2002) ? Stevie Wonder

    Exactly what it says. Great songs, starting with the 1963 Fingertips, released by the twelve year old ?Little? Stevie Wonder and wrapping up with 1985?s Part Time Lover. One minor complaint; this is a relatively new compilation, but it doesn?t sound like the music was remastered at all, which is a real shame.

    Good Will Hunting (1997) ? Various Artists

    Soundtrack that never gets old. The stripped down acoustic recordings of Elliott Smith form an incredibly strong core for this album, but the other song selection is great too, from The Waterboys? epic Fisherman?s Blues to Al Green?s wrenching How Do You Mend a Broken Heart. I could have lived without Rafferty?s Baker Street, a song which has entirely lost its power through overuse, and these are about Elfman?s worst Main Titles ever, but other than that, this is one of the best soundtracks ever released.

    Young Americans (1975) ? David Bowie

    Bowie?s plastic soul period is my least favorite of his periods. There?s an odd robotic feeling to this album; Christgau once said of someone, though I forget who, that he ?rocks mechanically hard,? and that?s really how this feels. It has the genre trappings of funk and soul without having an ounce of genuine funk or soul. Young Americans is not a terrible song, nor is his bizarre cover of Across the Universe, with Lennon on backing vocals. But everything else here is pretty bad, particularly the dreadful Fame. The songs are mindlessly repetitive, showing that Bowie doesn?t understand funk like he thinks he does ? we appreciate it when a song locks on a groove and just hangs on with it, but only when the band is legitimately grooving, not when they?re just counting out the groove with machine-like precision. Every song on the album, except Across the Universe, is at least two minutes too long. On this reissue, two bonus tracks are included: Who Can I Be Now and It?s Gonna Be Me, both recorded in 1974, but cut from the album before it was released and, incredibly, those two tracks are better than anything that actually made Young Americans. The songwriting is sharper, the instrumentation is better and Bowie actually emotes. Cutting his best songs in favor of far crappier and inferior material? Who does Bowie think he is, Dylan?

    American III: Solitary Man (2000) ? Johnny Cash

    I think the masterwork of Cash?s American period is American IV; American III is the closest Cash came to actually recording a weak album during the period. That is to say, it?s my least favorite and the least interesting but it is still a worthwhile album in its own way and perhaps even an essential listen, so absolutely brilliant is Cash?s work on all of these albums. The first half of the album is consistently great, like American IV or American Recordings, with I Won?t Back Down, Solitary Man, U2?s One, Nick Cave?s The Mercy Seat, I See a Darkness, etc. all forming a brilliant emotional experience. The second half drags to a standstill with a series of consistently dull love songs that all sound the same and don?t have any of Cash?s fire. Still, that first half is worth hearing for sure. And if you do decide to skip the second half, make sure not to miss Country Trash, a witty miniature slipped in between the love songs.

    Wherever You Are (2005) ? Third Day

    A quick word on Third Day; their debut was sizzling Southern Rock with a hard edged gospel blues sound thrown in; Conspiracy No. 5 was their sophomore and somewhat less interesting try at a grunge album; Time, their third album, was a masterpiece, a storming and heartfelt folk rock album. Offerings, their fourth album, is their undeniable masterpiece, an incredible hodgepodge of some of their strongest studio songs, live recordings of the best songs from their previous albums and, of all things, a Bob Dylan cover. Come Together, their fifth album, was hard rocking and still good. Offerings II was their worst album to date, an attempt to replicate Offerings, only with dull live
  7. King_of_Red_Lions Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 28, 2003
    star 3
    I bought 8 albums by Joe Purdy: Joe Purdy, You Can Tell Georgia, Sessions From Motor Ave., Paris In The Morning, Canyon Joe, Take My Blanket And Go, Last Clock On The Wall and 4th Of July

    I discovered Joe Purdy a few years ago, ordered a few of his albums and finally followed through with picking up the rest. He is an underexposed singer and songwriter whom everyone should know. I'm still kicking myself for passing up a chance to see him perform live last year.
  8. Rogue1-and-a-half Manager Emeritus who is writing his masterpiece

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    Nov 2, 2000
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    Speechless (1999) ? Steven Curtis Chapman

    Chapman?s best album by far. Every song is a five star effort and he rocks incredibly hard on The Change and Whatever while also giving some of his most luminous and beautiful ballad performances on Be Still and Know and the title track. There?s not a song here that isn?t awesome: the catchy, poppy love song Fingerprints of God, the techno-influenced Dive, the beautiful grief song With Hope, the string drenched, gorgeous Invitation, the rhythmic, hypnotic Great Expectations . . . well, you get the picture. Chapman hasn?t come close to equaling this album since, though Declaration, the immediate follow-up was darn close, as was his prior album Signs of Life. But this one wins completely. And . . . with its timeless acoustic rock sound, it hasn?t aged a day.

    The CD of JB II: Cold Sweat and Other Soul Classics (1987) ? James Brown

    I suppose no one needs to defend James Brown anymore. If the words ?Night Train,? ?Say It Loud,? ?Offa That Thang,? and ?Cold Sweat,? do not instantly conjure up in your mind the words ?awesome,? ?stupendous,? ?game-changing,? and ?brilliant,? then there?s no point to me even trying to explain it all to you. As a compilation, the song selection here is solid; being that this was really the first attempt (vol. 2 of the first attempt) to put the James Brown canon on CD, it should be obvious that the sound is not up to par, however. These songs need no defense; but you can get all these songs on later releases with much better sound.

    Power of the Cross (2009) ? Free Chapel

    Absolutely thunderous and amazing live album from the Free Chapel Church Worship Team, led by worship leader Ricardo Sanchez. Incredibly tight band and a passionate, incredibly loud choir back Sanchez and guest Israel Houghton (of probably the most impressive funk band working today, New Breed), through a series of Sanchez penned worship tunes. This is pretty well very up tempo; no worship ballads here. The highlight is the nearly twenty minute, three track medley in the center of the album which begins with The Power of the Cross, segues to Israel Houghton slaying a soul gospel version of the old hymns At the Cross and O the Blood of Jesus and then moves to Pastor Jentezen Franklin just doing an astonishingly brilliant saxophone version of Andrae Crouch?s landmark The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power. If you like worship albums, this is one of the best I?ve ever heard; if you like live albums of any kind, this one, at over an hour, has everything that makes live albums great.

    Experience Hendrix: The Best of Jimi Hendrix (1998) ? Jimi Hendrix

    A great compilation album with blisteringly great sound. Of course, a lot of great stuff gets left off, but a lot of great stuff is here and the arrangement is idiosyncratic enough to make for an entertaining mixtape on its on terms. Also, thumbs up for including recordings from the New Rays of the Rising Sun sessions and Hendrix?s astounding version of The Star Spangled Banner from Woodstock.

    Poses (2001) ? Rufus Wainwright

    Always intended to get into Wainwright after I heard his fantastic La Complainte de la Butte from the Moulin Rouge soundtrack, but never did. Until I heard his amazing cover of Across the Universe from the I Am Sam soundtrack. That led me to this album, on which Wainwright re-recorded it. The rest of the album is brilliant too, Wainwright?s slurred croon is an astounding vocal instrument and he uses it to great effect. A lush sound blankets the voice and, oddly enough, some very modern beats and effects show up amidst the piano and strings occasionally. I really, really enjoyed this album; Wainwright is openly gay and so is this album: Greek Love, Rebel Prince, The Consort, as you might guess from the titles, are all openly about homosexual passion. But something about Wainwright?s glorious voice and the intense emotive qualities of the melodies he creates makes this album cross all boundaries. The two best songs here are covers, the aforementioned
  9. Rogue1-and-a-half Manager Emeritus who is writing his masterpiece

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    Billboard Top Movie Hits: 1940s (1996) ? Various Artists

    Ten chart hits from the 1940s that originated in the movies. This did nothing for me.

    Portrait of a Legend, 1951 ? 1964 (2003) ? Sam Cooke

    A whopping thirty songs (not counting a brief thirty-first bonus track snipped from a Sam Cooke interview) and the sound is whammingly great, warmly sliding out of your speakers with all the smooth sweetness of early soul at its absolute best. Cooke was a talent that still hasn?t been matched; plenty of people today pretend that he?s in influence, but when you listen to their slicked up soulless sounds, you realize that Cooke?s true greatness was in his kindness and his humanism, which comes across in his music beautifully. Is there a bad song here? There is not. Best one? Well, there?s the beautiful comfort of You Send Me, the pitch perfect Wonderful World, the hopped up Tennessee Waltz cover, a frenetic and fantastic blues pastiche on Little Red Rooster, the staggering soul protest anthem A Change Is Gonna Come, the witty, life affirming dance hit Twistin? the Night Away. Perhaps even above all those are the tracks that bookend the album, two tracks, including Cooke?s very first, with the gospel group The Soul Stirrers. The closing track Jesus Gave Me Water is as sweet, catchy and beautiful a gospel song as I?ve heard in ages and it?s obvious that Cooke is bound for great things. Now this is how you do a compilation album.

    Hero (2002) ? Daily Planet

    Lovably and admirably off the cuff debut album. A gospel group with an appealing group chemistry that saves the fact that some of the songs aren?t that great. The gospel message is generally incredibly buried, or on some of the more personal songs, like Six String Rocketeer, an ode to learning to play the guitar as a child, or the lilting, witty love song 3000 Miles Away, entirely missing in action. The rare exception is probably the best track on the album, the brilliant Questioning the Notion, a compelling and thought provoking song about believing in God in a world of cruelty and evil. The band doesn?t have as many ideas as you might hope they did by the time the album is over, but the ideas they do have, like telling a love story through a travelogue on 3000 Miles Away, or starting the album on a completely arresting moment of unadorned vocals on Flying Blind, make you think maybe you?ll hang around for album number two anyway.

    Ceol More (2002) ? Tony McManus

    Stripped down acoustic album of Scottish, folk-influenced instrumentals. McManus allows his acoustic guitar, which is stunningly played, to be accompanied by some light percussion on some tracks and some great acoustic bass work on some others. But the star is always McManus? incredibly clean and vibrant acoustic guitar picking. The Scottish and Irish folk tunes are lively and exuberant. But the album is at its best when it slows down and becomes meditative and a little obscure in its song choice. The second best track is a gorgeous reinvention of a traditional Jewish tune, Shalom Aleichem; the best is a rendition of Charles Mingus? elegiac Goodbye Pork Pie Hat which is nothing short of astonishing in its evocative depths. McManus interests me very much after this album and this one comes highly recommended.

    Steal This Record: A Collection of Songs of Protest (2004) ? Various Artists

    An incredibly strange compilation. The sound quality is pretty bad, especially for such a new album, which makes me think it was cheaply produced. But the song selection is generally stellar. Barry McGuire?s Eve of Destruction, Marvin Gaye?s What?s Goin? On and Edwin Starr?s War are all here in their original versions, which is great. But it sounds a little cheap of them to feature Rod Stewart?s cover of Street Fighting Man and Richie Havens? cover of Maggie?s Farm over the originals. At least it seems that way until you actually hear both of those covers which are both just . . . jaw droppingly great. Rod Stewart has never done a song as good as this
  10. Rogue1-and-a-half Manager Emeritus who is writing his masterpiece

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    Days of Future Passed (1967) ? The Moody Blues

    I listened to this one again for my Bad Music thread; a very lengthy review has already been posted there, so check it out if you want to hear why I consider this one of the worst albums I?ve ever heard. The short version is still pretty long, so I?ll give you the highlights of the short version: I mostly find it infuriatingly pretentious, nauseatingly precious, unbearably twee, completely sterile and limply unenergetic. For more than that, go to the Bad Music Thread.

    Abbey Road (1969) ? The Beatles

    It has long been a thorn in the side of many of my friends that I hadn?t heard this album; Dan Golding, TheBoogieMan, particularly used to find it infuriating. I tried to explain that one likes to stagger these things. I?m not of the temperament to dash through the entire Beatles catalogue in a month; I want to have something to look forward too. Well, I?ve been looking forward to Abbey Road for quite a while; I finally listened to it and all my friends were entirely correct about this album. It?s the best of the late Beatles albums and not by just a little either. It is as experimental as Sgt. Pepper, but the experimentation never seems, as it does on Pepper, to be an end unto itself; the best songs here are as good as the best songs on The White Album, and one doesn?t have to listen to a lot of trivia to get to the good songs; as to Let It Be . . . well, it?s just better than Let It Be, let?s leave it at that. It?s the most consistent album since Revolver, I?d say; every song on it is a winner and often in surprising ways. In Because and You Never Give Me Your Money, both Lennon and McCartney craft their most beautiful songs since, probably If I Fell and Yesterday respectively. Octopus?s Garden is probably the best Ringo song of all time and I?m going to go on the record and say that it utterly beats out two more famous nautical Beatles numbers, Yellow Submarine and I Am the Walrus. Yes, Octopus?s Garden is better than I Am the Walrus. The end. Obviously Harrison is in top form too; Something and Here Comes the Sun are probably the two best songs he ever wrote, certainly the best from his tenure with the Beatles; the latter song, in particular, never fails to absolutely suffuse me with an absolute warmth and happiness. The experimental tracks, like I Want You and the medley that takes up most of side two, are brilliant expansions of musicality, having none of the annoying self-consciousness of the experimentation on the vastly overrated and mostly dull Sgt. Pepper. Of course, McCartney can tell a story in under two minutes; some people call She Came In Through the Bathroom Window a song snippet, but it?s no shorter than Eleanor Rigby. And then look at Her Majesty, which isn?t even thirty seconds, but is a demonstrable song, complete with witty lyrics and a hummable melody, not a sketch. I will just dare to say that the ?powerful? final lyric of the Beatles, ?In the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make,? is a bunch of utter bunk and b.s. I dunno about you, but I?ve received a heck of a lot more love than I?ve given. This album, for instance, a gift from the universe to me and you that not a one of us earned. A masterpiece. P.S. Why does everyone hate Maxwell?s Silver Hammer? Harrison called it ?fruity? and Lennon said it was ?granny-style,? but they?re both wrong: it?s actually the most perverse song McCartney has ever written and probably his best on Abbey Road.

    Definitive All-Time Greatest Hits (2004) ? John Denver

    Decided to finally give this punch-line a shot. He deserves to be a punch-line, I think. Most of this is maudlin vocalizing of annoyingly twee lyrics over inimitably dull musical backing. This greatest hits has a full length disc and then an extra second disc, with only four tracks, of acoustic versions of the songs, sort of rough demos. On the first disc, I admit to finding Country Roads a likable sing-a-long campfire tune, though the line ?West Virginia/Mountain Mama? is perhaps the stup
  11. Rogue1-and-a-half Manager Emeritus who is writing his masterpiece

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    Wheels of Fire (1968) ? Cream

    This double album consists of a studio album and a live album. The studio album has the cover of Albert King?s astonishing Born Under a Bad Sign, the all conquering riff of Politician and the iconic White Room speaking for it. The live album has the live cover of Robert Johnson?s Crossroads, probably Cream?s most famous song, the absolute desperation of Traintime and a fourteen minute cover of Howlin? Wolf?s best song, Spoonful with a riff that seems to come up out of the earth. This isn?t a perfect album; Toad, the seventeen minute drum solo that ends disc two is pretty dire and some of the songs on the studio album aren?t up to snuff. But it?s still essentially a masterpiece and certainly an essential album.

    Greatest Hits (1994) ? Edvard Grieg, Various Artists

    A compilation album of various classical artists performing some of Grieg?s most famous pieces. Manages to include both Peer Gynt Suites, which is a plus, and Esa-Pekka Salonen, while I originally thought would not have a lot of affinity for the bombast necessary to really sell the Peer Gynt Suites, does a surprisingly solid job with them. I Love But Thee, a song for voice and piano that I?d never heard before, is hauntingly performed by Elisabeth Soderstrom and Andrew Davis and Eugene Ormandy does a great job conducting a beautiful, elegiac piece that I had never heard before called The Wounded Heart. A likable album, with all the big pieces in the Grieg repertoire, but also room for some obscurities, which I liked.

    Midnight Cowboy (1969) ? Various Artists

    Solid soundtrack album. Functions as a period piece, I suppose, though some of the songs are pretty lame. Both of Nilsson?s versions of Fred Neil?s Everybody?s Talkin? are brilliant and John Barry?s score cues are pretty great, particularly Joe Buck Rides Again. The tracks by Elephant?s Memory are pretty awful, particularly the horrid, dull Old Man Willow. But a fun listen and not nearly as depressing as the movie itself.

    The Season of Love (1994) ? 4HIM

    Fair to middling Christmas album from the gospel vocal group. Tries to take in a lot of different styles with a fair degree of success. Mostly forgettable and non-essential, save for the last track A Strange Way to Save the World, a gorgeous piano and string drenched ballad from the perspective of Joseph that is one of the best new Christmas songs of the past twenty years.

    Village of Love (1996) ? Nathaniel Meyer

    Poor sound quality, which is too bad. Meyer?s energetic mash up of R&B with rock?n?roll is pretty great. This is a compilation of a lot of his singles from the late fifties and early sixties. Occasionally, all the raucousness masks the fact that he doesn?t really have anything to say. Occasionally, you don?t mind. A forgotten figure and I wouldn?t say he did anything like earn legendary status. But he?s certainly worth hearing again.
  12. Rogue1-and-a-half Manager Emeritus who is writing his masterpiece

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    Nov 2, 2000
    star 8
    The Best of Morrissey (2001) ? Morrissey

    A greatest hits compilation that certainly has a lot of songs on it. Morrissey?s voice remains, as I?ve said before, one of the most astonishing vocal instruments to ever grace humanity. Quite often, the songs are up to par with his voice. Someday I?m going to do a mixtape combining the solo stuff with the Smiths stuff and that will be even better than this is. But this is pretty good. Song I rediscovered: Every Day Is Like Sunday which suddenly seems like the most beautiful song ever recorded.

    One From the Heart (1987) ? Tom Waits & Crystal Gayle

    I?ve never seen the movie, but I hear it?s fairly disastrous. This soundtrack album, whatever the crimes of the movie might be, is absolutely wonderful. It was my introduction to Tom Waits, who I now consider something like the greatest American musical genius since Dylan (or, no, probably not, but I do love him a lot). The album is a slow, laid-back, jazzy and beautiful affair. Waits does what he does best here which is craft some of the most luminously gorgeous melodies you?ve ever heard and then growl them at you like a grizzly bear. Crystal Gayle delivers some great, evocative performances, mostly low key. The instrumental stuff I could do without, but the songs are just amazing. An essential album. If nothing else, you must hear Picking Up After You, the best comedy duet since probably the forties or maybe even the thirties.

    WOW Christmas: Red (2002) ? Various Artists

    It strikes me that I?ve mentioned this album a lot in this thread. Well, it?s pretty great, a lot of CCM artists doing versions of classics (and occasionally new) Christmas songs. Sprawling over two discs, it goes from high diva antics to funky hip hop (courtesy of the always exceptional tobyMac) to rootsy folk rock and then to swaggering hard rock (courtesy of Audio Adrenaline?s Little Drummer Boy, perhaps the only truly great rendition of the song). There are more great songs than awful ones, which is something. Jennifer Knapp contributes a new number, Sing Mary Sing that is my second favorite Christmas song of all time, all bluesy scat singing and riff driven acoustic guitar.

    WOW Christmas: Green (2005) ? Various Artists

    And then there?s the sequel, which is dreadful from start to finish with some of the most uninspiring takes on Christmas carols that I?ve ever heard. Bethany Dillon does contribute the definitive version of God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, a sort of Café Bleu era Style Council take on the song with a gorgeous, smooth electric guitar picking out some wonderful jazz leads. And FFH, who I generally dislike, contribute a strange, funky disco take on Do You Hear What I Hear. Third Day also does a country fried, rock version of O Come O Come Emmanuel, but beyond those three, there?s not a single good thing here.

    Queen of Rockabilly (2000) ? Wanda Jackson

    Jackson was born in the same small Oklahoma town where both of my parents grew up; I used to visit Maud, Oklahoma at least a couple of times a year to see my maternal grandmother. And, trust me, you owe it to yourself to discover this amazing fireball of pure sexual swagger and energy. The liner notes call her the most perverse female singer of all time and they make a good case. Jackson?s raw, rock?n?roll screaming, married with an occasional hiccupping rockabilly trick or two, a la Elvis, who she dated for a while, absolutely paved the way for all the punk rock grrrls of the seventies. This is hard rockin?, intense, sexy, vibrant music, nearly seventy minutes of it. You?ll fall in love with her; I know I did. She covers everyone from Carl Perkins and George Jones to Chuck Berry and Jerry Lee Lewis to Arthur Crudup and damned if she doesn?t slay them all. She sings her own songs too. The sound on this release is fantastic, glorious; some of the best remastering I?ve ever heard. Get this and once you?ve heard it, you?ll understand the raw, sexual, driving energy behind the staid pop music of the fifties. This is l
  13. Ramza JC Head Admin and RPF Manager

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    Member Since:
    Jul 13, 2008
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    Combo breaking time.:D

    Danzig (1988) - Danzig

    So, this is a fairly well known act in heavy metal, but aside from "Mother" - thanks, Guitar Hero - I've never heard any of their releases. That said, I'm familiar with both Misfits and Samhain, Glenn Danzig's other projects, and this sucker was $4 used at the record store, so I picked it up. The first thing I noticed is that the sound here is bluesy - and I don't mean there's a passing blues influence, I mean that if I forcibly devolved Black Sabbath a few pegs and sped them up, I'd get Danzig. It all feels like a heavier version of The Yardbirds with leftover Misfits lyrics. And that is awesome.

    Sounds of the Animal Kingdom / Kill Trend Suicide (Remaster 2006, Original 1997/1996) - Brutal Truth

    I love combo albums, because even if one of the albums is meh, I'm essentially getting a bunch of free bonus tracks. Such is the case with what were Brutal Truth's final releases until 2009's excellent Evolution Through Revolution - Sounds is the highlight here, and Kill is the glorified collection of bonus tracks. The former displays a sophistication rarely seen in grindcore, and melds it with industrial, experimental, and dare I say groove influences to create a unique sound that is at once refreshing and familiar. The latter is clearly beginning to turn towards the style of the former, but it lacks the sophistication and completeness of the later release. While I don't think this one will win over any converts, people looking to get into grind wouldn't do badly to include this in their starter collection

    Smear Campaign (2006) - Napalm Death

    It's a bloody Napalm Death album. They haven't changed stylistically since Fear, Emptiness, Despair in 1994, and, as it is with Slayer, that seems to be just fine for everyone involved except the whiners who want the old Scum sound back and are about as close to "grindcore hipsters" as I've ever encountered. If you like anything they've released since then, you'll like this album. If you don't, you won't. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, I'm amazed you got this far since you had to read a Brutal Truth review to get here. But suffice it to say modern ND plays a heavy deathgrind style that's best described as all musical hell breaking loose in an organized fashion (For all musical hell simply breaking loose, consider looking into Agoraphobic Nosebleed). Apparently this album is a concept album about how religion sucks, or something, I haven't read the liner notes to verify. Regardless, I'm digging it.
  14. Rogue1-and-a-half Manager Emeritus who is writing his masterpiece

    Member Since:
    Nov 2, 2000
    star 8
    Beethoven No. 2 (2006) ? Paul Lewis

    A three disc set of Lewis, a pianist I wasn?t familiar with, playing an absolute load of Beethoven sonatas: 13, 14, 22, 53, 78, 79, 90, 101 & 106. That includes the Waldstein, the Hammerklavier and, my personal favorite, the absolutely astonishingly evocative Pathetique. Lewis has a solid touch; he doesn?t particularly bring anything incredibly insightful or new to the music, but then much of the music doesn?t particularly need anything new. The sound quality could be better, as with a lot of classical albums. Still, worth a listen and I enjoyed it a lot.

    God?s Property (1997) ? Kirk Franklin & God?s Property

    Kirk Franklin took God?s Property, a soaring twenty voice choir, to heights of absolute gospel perfection on this album. One expects from Franklin several things: immaculate vibrant production, anointed sing-shouting in the good old gospel mode, a strong urban/funk influence and more fun that you can stand. He delivers on all counts here. Franklin is a gospel artist, yes, but a gospel artist who samples from One Nation Under a Groove on the biggest hit from this album, the invigorating and thunderous Stomp. Gospel music at its best.

    Akeelah & the Bee (2008) ? Various Artists

    Soundtrack to the feel good film that I did not see. The first half of the album is classic R&B: Aretha?s Respect, the Impressions? People Get Ready, Harold Melvin?s Wake Up Everybody, Al Green, The Staple Singers, The Spinners, etc. As you might guess, this part of the album plays really well, particularly since the remastered sound is great. The second half, however, is modern inspirational ballad type songs and it sort of loses all energy, getting mired in the melisma, if you get my drift. Also, Aaron Zigman contributes several short cues from the score, but sadly they were really quite clichéd and uninteresting. The first half was great, but on the whole, this was only an okay soundtrack.

    The Best of Roy Acuff (1991) ? Roy Acuff

    These are re-recordings of Acuff?s hits from the forties and fifties. And strangely enough I think these 60s re-recordings are actually much better than the original versions. I found King of Country Music, a four CD collection of Acuff?s original work from the forties and fifties, to be entirely dull and annoying. But these recordings are better, more vibrant and interesting. I don?t know that I?ve ever encountered such a thing before . . . oh, well. Still not essential, but certainly better than the dreadful original recordings.

    Elvis in Concert (1977) ? Elvis Presley

    Released two months after his death, this epic seventy plus minutes album features live performances from one of the last performances Elvis gave before his death. There are moments that make you cringe, like the pomposity of the introductory Also Sprach Zarathustra or the fawning fan comments or the way he absolutely loses his way during Are You Lonesome Tonight. But then there are moments that show that he could still sell it when he wanted to, like the definitive vocal performance of My Way, a snarling rampage through Hound Dog and a stomping backbeat laden version of Jailhouse Rock. It?s an album that isn?t nearly as bad as some people say. For a song by song review, check out my bad music thread.
  15. RC-1991 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 2, 2009
    star 4
    Physical Graffiti (Led Zeppelin, 1975)- excellent album, and the first album that really fits into the category of Led Zeppelin's "latter days". Houses of the Holy always felt like a transition between the blues-rock of early Led Zep and the hard rock/proto metal of later Led Zep. "Kashmir" and "Ten Years Gone" alone would make this album worth it. "In My Time of Dying" doesn't receive as much press as some of Led Zep's other songs, like Stairway or the much-overrated "Whole Lotta Love" (I don't care if it's popular, I don't particularly enjoy WLL), but it really should. Physical Graffiti is Led Zeppelin at its best.

    Tron: Legacy (Daft Punk, 2010)- Holy ****. I've never really been a fan of techno before, but this one blew me away. It's even better hearing it while you are actually watching the movie, because it blends so perfectly with the film. It's rather fun to blast this while driving around Charleston :p My favorites from this include "Derezzed", "Tron: End Titles", and "The Game Has Changed".

    In Through the Out Door (Led Zeppelin, 1979)- Led Zep's last album. Not bad at all, though it's not quite on the same level as Led Zeppelin IV. There's nothing wrong with the album, and "All My Love" in particular hits the spot, but it's also somewhat tame compared to some of Led Zep's earlier fare- however, Robert Plant had recently gone through some personal tragedies, so it's an understandable change. Overall, I like it, and it is certainly better than reviewers at the time thought (I have similar opinions about The Division Bell by Pink Floyd).

    Coda (Led Zeppelin, 1982)- an interesting album. Technically speaking, it's more of a compilation. LZ had actually broken up 2 years previously, due to the death of John Bonham, the drummer. Coda was created from various songs that had been performed for concerts or composed for album release, but had for various reasons been cut from previous studio releases. I need to give it a few more listens before I really pass judgment on it, but it's still solid Led Zeppelin.

    Swagger (Flogging Molly, 2000)- Flogging Molly's first real studio album. Fairly tame compared to FM's later albums. Most of the songs are standard FM fare. Black Friday Rule is my favorite song on the album, though it is nowhere near the level of pure win that it reaches on its live rendition on "Alive Behind the Green Door". "The Worst Day Since Yesterday" is also great. Flogging Molly's songs tend to be pretty upbeat, but it's their slower, calmer songs, like "Float" and "If I Ever Leave This World Alive", which can really hit the spot.
  16. Darth McClain Arena Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Feb 5, 2000
    star 6
    I got Mat Kearney's "City of Black & White" the other day, and I've really enjoyed listening to it so far. It doesn't seem to be very stylistically different than his first two releases, but it's definitely enjoyable, with some great lyrics.
  17. Rogue1-and-a-half Manager Emeritus who is writing his masterpiece

    Member Since:
    Nov 2, 2000
    star 8
    Diana Ross Presents the Jackson 5/ABC (2000) ? The Jackson 5

    CD that contains both the Jackson 5?s brilliant debut and their swaggering sophomore effort. You?ll have a damn hard time figuring out which album is better if you?re into head to head comparisons. I usually am, but when the albums are this strong, it?s best to just let it go and say that these are definitely the two best albums in the 5?s catalog. A lava slow reinterpretation of Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah, perhaps the finest pop single ever crafted I Want You Back, a brooding version of The Four Tops? Standing in the Shadows of Love and a gripping breakdown of Smokey Robinson?s Who?s Lovin? You are the standouts on their debut. On ABC, the first five tracks, The Love You Save, One More Chance, ABC, 2-4-6-8 and I?m the One You Need, add up to one of the greatest opening salvos any album has ever unleashed, an exuberant explosion of unflagging energy. This is essential music, but then you knew that. It?s also as fresh today as it was the last time you heard it, which you may not have known.

    Song Cycle (1968) ? Van Dyke Parks

    The bar just moved. Not the high bar though. This album has now displaced The Incredible String Band?s The Hangman?s Beautiful Daughter as the absolute worst album I?ve ever heard. Dreadful, annoying, twee. Still one of the most expensive albums ever produced, adjusted for inflation. Also one of the most pretentious, with or without adjustment. For a song by song take down of this horrendous album, check out my Bad Music thread.

    A New Abolition (2008) ? The Wrecking

    Forgettable pop-punk debut. At its best utterly bland; at its worst, like with the ill advised pop punk cover of In Your Eyes, annoying and weird. There?s nothing here of any interest at all.

    So (1986) ? Peter Gabriel

    Speaking of In Your Eyes, how does this one hold up? Brilliantly? Yeah, that makes sense. I?m not generally a fan of the kind of production Gabriel pioneered and uses here, but one can?t quibble with it really because the songs are so great. I suppose I?d say every song on here is great; the last two are somewhat less than the others, but by that time you?re feeling charitable. One of the greatest pop albums ever produced. And what breadth; that one guy could come up with both the ambient, emotive Mercy Street and the swaggering, cocksure Sledgehammer is about miraculous.

    The Very Best of Freddy King, Vol. 1 (2002) ? Freddy King

    At first I thought the title was misleading since this is actually the first volume of a complete reissue of King?s stint at Federal Records. This one is everything he recorded from July 1960 to August 1961. But then you hear it and you think, ?Hmm, maybe ?the complete? and the ?the very best? really are the same thing for some people.? This is some of the most incredible electric blues rock guitar you?ll ever hear. The majority of the tracks are instrumentals, but swaggering, stunning, up-beat blues rock with riffs, licks and soaring leads to die for. He?s not a bad singer either; Clapton has covered King?s Christmas Tears and lifted licks from him too I?ll bet. This is about the most fun you can have with music. Get this one.
  18. Ramza JC Head Admin and RPF Manager

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    star 7
    Diary of a Mad Band: Europe in the Year of VI (2010) - Down

    Wikipedia files Down under the category of "sludge metal," which, alongside "post metal," could be described as the most unhelpful subgenre label ever crafted. Down's sound is best described as "Lynyrd Skynyrd covers St. Vitus," in that it's heaping mounds of old-school doom with a heavy cannabis and chicken fried steak influence. They're actually fairly well known in metalhead circles, but this is the first album I've ever heard by them, and I'm not disappointed. It's live, and thus showcases their actual talent, and it's about 100 minutes long, and thus you get quite a bit of bang for your buck - those who opt to buy the digipak CD will also get a DVD with a documentary over two hours(!) long consisting primarily of concert footage with a smattering of hallucinogen inspired hijinks. As is usually the case with my diatribes here, try it before you buy it, but this is definitely one you should try.

    Three Friends (1972) - Gentle Giant

    Moving on from a heavy metal staple to prog rock standbys, I continue my odyssey into the world of British bands that most Americans have never heard of with Gentle Giant's third release. And in what I would sarcastically call a display of truly rapier wit, it's called Three Friends, is about three characters, and follows them on three very different paths in, yes, six songs. Sadly, there is no nine minute track, or I'd get my sarcastic guffaw mode kicked into overdrive. Condescending approach to album titles aside, this is actually a solid, albeit somewhat difficult, prog release, with lots of layered melodies and kooky synth solos. Fans of Yes, King Crimson, and Camel should check this one out, and I know I'll be spinning it a few more times over the next week.

    Blue Record (2009) - Baroness

    Yet another "sludge metal" album, and I'm sort of at a loss for words for this one. What I remember of it is nothing short of utterly fantastic, but it seemed to go by so quickly, effortlessly, and, dare I say, beautifully that forty four minutes of my life collapsed into three and I couldn't pick out an individual track if I tried. It's good, it really is, I swear, but... what happened to those forty one other minutes? Is the power of the Blue Record so immense that you enter a sort of temporal rift where time moves at an accelerated pace amidst a swirl of Mastodon-esque riffing with more accessible vocals? I'm going to have to listen to this one again. And again. And again.

    Plague Soundscapes (2003) - The Locust

    Alright, Christgau, eat your heart out: I'm still not sure what I just heard, but I think I like it. (B+).
  19. Rogue1-and-a-half Manager Emeritus who is writing his masterpiece

    Member Since:
    Nov 2, 2000
    star 8
    Blue Yule (1991) ? Various Artists

    One of Rhino?s best compilation albums, this one features rarity after rarity with artists like Sonny Boy Williamson, Lightnin? Hopkins, Louis Jordan, Detroit Junior, John Lee Hooker and a host of other classic blues artists doing some of the strangest Christmas songs you?ll ever hear. Sonny Boy Williamson?s tune, for instance, is about breaking into his girlfriend?s house to go through her dresser drawers to find his Christmas present and being arrested for obscene behavior. That?s right, a Yuletide song for the rest of us. Detroit Junior?s swaggering Christmas Day is a stomping, brilliant rave up. The Pilgrim Travelers do a slow gospel take on I?ll Be Home for Christmas that is probably the definitive version. Hardly a weak song here though; this was a blast from start to finish. There are only a couple of newer tracks on it; most of the songs date from the sixties and before. Don?t expect a lot of transcendent reverence, but if you like a little perversity for Christmas, get this one.

    Sticky Fingers (1971) ? The Rolling Stones

    I?ve talked about this album countless times in this forum and probably several times in this very thread. It?s one of the most perfect albums ever recorded; every song is a five star effort. It?s both the Stones? masterpiece and one of my top ten albums of all time. Enough said.

    America (1971) ? John Fahey

    This is the reissue of Fahey?s epic album from 71. It reinstates a whopping nine tracks cut from the original release by Fahey when the label convinced him a double album wouldn?t sell. They are mostly short, but one, the title track, is eleven minutes. So, essentially this is America doubled, fully twice as long as it was on its original release. Fahey has a master?s touch on the acoustic guitar and there are no other instruments on this album, unless I?m forgetting. Two fifteen minute tracks run into each other, Mark 1:15 and The Voice of the Turtle and they?re stunning. I don?t know how accessible this music is, though there is a luminous and gorgeous version of Amazing Grace, two versions of Jesus Is a Dying Bedmaker, an old folk song, and a riff on Dvorak?s New World Symphony. Interesting and intriguing.

    More Hot Rocks (1972) ? The Rolling Stones

    Fine, double disc compilation that, since it?s a follow up to the more hit oriented Hot Rocks, is able to sprawl widely over a variety of lesser hits, album tracks and rarities. Some of this stuff is incredible; two bass driven versions of Leiber & Stoller?s Poison Ivy, a cover of Muddy Waters? I Can?t Be Satisfied (which draws some obvious comparisons to one of the Stones? own, somewhat famous ( :p ) originals), a couple of great acoustic blues tracks, and then some of the lesser known, but still brilliant, icons: Let It Bleed, She?s a Rainbow, It?s All Over Now, Fade Away, We Love You. Loads of fun, as the Stones almost always are (not counting the eighties!).

    The Acoustic Folk Box (2002) ? Various Artists

    Staggeringly entertaining look at the development of acoustic folk, particularly of the British stripe. Starts with Lonnie Donegan and ends with Eliza Carthy, daughter of Martin Carthy, who dresses like a goth, but sings like a bird. Four CDs, all jam packed, each covering a decade: the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s. This was an amazing intro to a world I know very little about; I loved very nearly every minute of it. There were the few moments of twee preciousness and some pretentiousness too, but for the most part, this was just incredibly wonderful. Ralph McTell?s Spiral Staircase and Chris Wood?s fantastic cover of Was Not Was? Out Come the Freaks are highlights. If you can pick highlights from a box set featuring Bert Jansch, Maddy Prior, Billy Bragg, etc. Wonderful introduction to music that you?ve probably always thought you wouldn?t like; you might, however, be surprised.
  20. Rogue1-and-a-half Manager Emeritus who is writing his masterpiece

    Member Since:
    Nov 2, 2000
    star 8
    The Very Best of Cesaria Evora (2002) ? Cesaria Evora

    If you know Cesaria Evora and her voice, you won?t need convincing. If you don?t, nothing I can say would express the depths of it. What people occasionally forget is how groove oriented much of this music is; these songs are in Spanish, but you?ll be singing along to the big hooks. A great introduction to some of the most incredible songs you?ll ever hear: Sodade, Nho Antone Escaderode, Angola, etc. Essential listening. This compilation would be easier to find than any of her proper albums, I would imagine, for anyone in the English speaking world. So find it.

    Twilight on Prince Georges Avenue: Essential Recordings (2009) ? John Fahey

    A compilation of songs from the four albums Fahey recorded for Rounder Records in the eighties and early nineties. I didn?t find these nearly as interesting as America, the album I talked about previously in this thread. None of these, in fact, have really stayed with me.

    Classic Tearjerkers (2004) ? Various Artists

    This Time-Life collection starts with Eva Cassidy?s astounding, gripping cover of Sting?s Fields of Gold. It then has nowhere to go, really, except downhill, which it proceeds to do by following up this amazing, heartfelt, sincere recording with a song from Simply Red (!). This sort of encapsulates the two sides of this album, which whipsaws wildly from corny and schmaltzy to legitimately moving and heartfelt. On the corny side, Michael Bolton, Eric Carman, Leeann Rimes, etc. On the legitimate side, Bill Wither?s Ain?t No Sunshine, Carole King?s So Far Away, Bonnie Tyler?s It?s a Heartache. The corny outweighs the legitimately emotional. Oh, well. As with most of the Time-Life CDs, the sound is frigging pristine.

    In the Spirit: A Christmas Album (2001) ? Michael McDonald

    About the worst Christmas album I?ve ever heard. I can listen to Blind Willie Johnson and Bob Dylan, but something about McDonald?s overwrought, constipated, ?I am more blue eyed and more soul than thou? vocals just grates on me like nails on a chalkboard. And then most of these songs are originals written by McDonald, which means they?re awful. He sings a couple of standards, butchering them beyond recognition. The season of goodwill? Not with this album. What a dire, dispiriting, horrid little album.

    The Weak?s End (2004) ? Emery

    Emo/hard core mash-up. Reverby vocals, grungy guitars, the occasional throat shredding scream. All adds up to far less than the sum of its parts. This is mainly because, for all the production values, the songs just disappear into the ether with not a single good lyric or catchy melody line. Utterly derivative and forgettable.
  21. Ramza JC Head Admin and RPF Manager

    Administrator
    Member Since:
    Jul 13, 2008
    star 7
    Bitches Brew (Legacy Edition) (2010) - Miles Davis

    What do you get when you take one of the greatest jazz albums of all time, add a couple of bonus tracks, alternate takes, and a previously unreleased concert DVD, and release it as a three disc set for $20? You get me to buy it, is what. There's not a lot that I can say about Bitches Brew that hasn't been said better, and elsewhere, but I can say that for anyone who's considered getting into Davis, this is as good a place as any to start. Bugger on Kind of Blue - sure, it's fantastic, but Bitches Brew is where he really comes into his own and nails the distinctly avant-garde fusion style that he would practice for the rest of his career. The concert DVD is great, showcasing some serious chops on the part of the performers, and it's been restored to the greatest extent possible to look as good as it did live. Overall, a wise buy for the jazz initiate, or longtime fans who still (Inexplicably) haven't picked up a copy of this album.

    A Tribute to Jack Johnson (Remaster) (2005) - Miles Davis

    I don't keep it a terrible secret that I acquire a lot of albums via alternative means - borrowing from friends, library, college radio reviews, er... other - but I couldn't track this one down without just buying it myself, and, as luck would have it, I managed to snag a used copy for $5, or about half the iTunes price. And it's well worth the investment - Jack Johnson showcases Davis riding the wave of artistic brilliance he unleashed with Bitches, and it's quite possibly one of the best rock albums I've ever heard. Yes, rock - Jack Johnson features a blistering guitar and bass line, which is in turn accompanied by the most intense solo Miles ever performed, and the entire album has a pacing and groove almost unfathomable to the jazz outsider. Good stuff, all around.

    Jewels of Thought (1968) - Pharoah Sanders

    Jewels is an odd beast for all the right reason. As one of the foremost developers of the free jazz movement, Sanders is actually the man directly responsible for Coltrane's stylistic shift towards the end of his life, and he finally came into his own on a trio of 1968 recordings: Karma, Izipho Zam, and Jewels of Thought. Each showcases the saxophone tone that I describe as "black metal sax" and that my roommate calls "AUGH GOD WHEN DOES THIS END AUGH," the singing/yodeling lyrics that I call "brilliant" and he calls "just not working," and a repetition of style that I call "trance-inducing drone" and he calls "samey." Needless to say, these are some polarizing records, but I honestly believe they're some of the best jazz to come out of the 1960s. If nothing else, give Karma a whirl, and if you like that, consider looking into Jewels.

    Space is the Place (1972) - Sun Ra

    And now, a novel approach to this thread - I will attempt to simulate the effect of this album through the use of prose alone!

    *Ahem*

    SPACE IS THE PLACE SPACE IS THE PLACE SPACE IS THE PLACE SPACE IS THE PLACE SPACE IS THE PLACE SPACE IS THE PLACE SPACE IS THE PLACE SPACE IS THE PLACE SPACE IS THE PLACE SPACE IS THE PLACE SPACE IS THE PLACE SPACE IS THE PLACE SPACE IS THE PLACE SPACE IS THE PLACE SPACE IS THE PLACE SPACE IS THE PLACE SPACE IS THE PLACE SPACE IS THE PLACE SPACE IS THE PLACE SPACE IS THE PLACE SPACE IS THE PLACE SPACE IS THE PLACE SPACE IS THE PLACE SPACE IS THE PLACE SPACE IS THE PLACE SPACE IS THE PLACE SPACE IS THE PLACE SPACE IS THE PLACE SPACE IS THE PLACE SPACE IS THE PLACE SPACE IS THE PLACE SPACE IS THE PLACE SPACE IS THE PLACE SPACE IS THE PLACE SPACE IS THE PLACE SPACE IS THE PLACE SPACE IS THE PLACE SPACE IS THE PLACE SPACE IS THE PLACE SPACE IS THE PLACE SPACE IS THE PLACE SPACE IS THE PLACE SPACE IS THE PLACE SPACE IS THE PLACE SPACE IS THE PLACE

    Read that for 25 minutes or until insanity takes hold, whichever comes first.
  22. Rogue1-and-a-half Manager Emeritus who is writing his masterpiece

    Member Since:
    Nov 2, 2000
    star 8
    Is Bitches Brew really a good place to start with Davis? I mean, I still rather hate it and I worked up to it slowly. :p

    Escape (1981) ? Journey

    Listened to for my Bad Music Thread. Lengthy, track by track review has already been posted there. To sum up, it?s not that this album is horrible. It has immaculate production and even a couple of fairly catchy melodic moments. But it?s mostly entirely forgettable. It goes down smooth, but try remembering anything about it five minutes after you?re finished. This is no better and no worse than any other generic power pop album. It just lays there in the middle and loves itself to death with intense earnestness. I, on the other hand, could hardly care less. Nothing to distinguish this one at all.

    Bummed Out Christmas (1989) ? Various Artists

    This Rhino compilation is a brilliant selection of dour Christmas tunes. The sound quality is not good; I wish we?d get a good digital remaster of this album. Beyond the bad sound, the album is stellar. The Everly Brothers? Christmas Eve Can Kill You and George Jones? Lonely Christmas Call are legitimate masterpieces of songwriting and maudlin sentimentality. On the flip side, there?s the Sonics? swaggering, rip roaring Don?t Believe In Christmas, the Thunderbirds? unutterably bizarre Who Say There Ain?t No Santa Claus (which is probably the only Christmas song in existence to end with the narrator being executed in the electric chair!), the Wailers? hilarious Dylan spoof Christmas Spirit and the Staple Singers? up tempo gospel exuberance on Who Took the Merry Out of Christmas. This was a blast. One odd note; instead of including John Prine?s original recording of Christmas in Prison, they use an inferior, somewhat annoying cover by a group called Legends of the West. That?s about the only thing keeping this weird, wonderful album from getting a perfect rating.

    The Best of Cool Yule (1990) ? Various Artists

    Another great old-school Rhino compilation, this one featuring a rockin? take on the holidays. Johnny Preston?s rockabilly Rock and Roll Guitar, Solomon Burke?s exuberant Presents for Christmas, The Drifters? iconic, definitive White Christmas . . . these are amazing songs. Then there?s N?Awlin?s legend Huey Piano Smith and the Clowns with a swaggering, Mardi Gras version of Silent Night that must be heard to be believed. Jack Scott drops in with one of the most astonishing Elvis impressions I?ve ever heard on the up-tempo, rockabilly tune There?s Trouble Brewin?, the tale of a jilted lover planning to murder Santa Claus when he comes down the chimney. Ike and Tina Turner do a slow gospel work out on Merry Christmas Baby, the Ventures bring a little surf rock to Sleigh Ride and the Harmony Grits absolutely decimate Santa Claus Is Coming to Town in one of the most hilariously raucous tracks I?ve ever heard in my life. There are a couple of nods to classics, like White Christmas and Presents for Christmas. But most of this album is taken up with rarities and once you?ve heard them, you?ll wonder why they aren?t classics, so unbelievably exuberant and creative are they. If you?re tired of the same old thing every year at Christmas, get this sucker and it?ll brighten your day for good and dang sure.

    Billboard Rock?n?Roll Christmas (1994) ? Various Artists

    A thrust at the hits. The good? George Thorogood?s retro, brilliant Rock?n?Roll Christmas, the Kinks? perverse Father Christmas, Dave Edmunds doing a great cover of Run Rudolph Run. The bad? Weird Al?s Christmas at Ground Zero, Foghat?s idiotic All I Want for Christmas and the album has the temerity to end with Cheech & Chong?s Santa Claus & His Old Lady. In between those, there are some bland numbers (yes, I call Queen?s Thank God Its Christmas bland; sue me). This one, you can give a miss, as you can find all the good stuff elsewhere, except possibly the Edmunds cover, which I hadn?t heard before.

    Christmas Classics (1990) ? Various Artists

    A more middle of the road compilation fro
  23. Ramza JC Head Admin and RPF Manager

    Administrator
    Member Since:
    Jul 13, 2008
    star 7
    If you're looking to get into anything he did after it, like On the Corner, Live-Evil, Jack Johnson, Dark Magus, Get Up With It, et al, then either Bitches Brew or In A Silent Way is definitely where you want to start, yes. Obviously modal jazz Davis requires Kind of Blue, hardbop Davis dictates Walkin', and cool jazz on the whole absolutely necessitates getting Birth of the Cool. As I really like his fusion stuff, I absolutely consider Bitches Brew an essential album.

    Speaking of Miles -

    Pangaea (1975) - Miles Davis

    Arguably the coolest thing about jazz music is that any individual performance is a unique entity in and of itself, and Pangaea, like Live-Evil before it, demonstrates just how much unique content can come out of a live recording. It consists of precisely two tracks - "Zimbabwe" and "Gondwana" - that both top the 40 minute mark, and yet it keeps up the energy and flow of a multitrack piece. There are hints of Jack Johnson (the distinct theme is used as a starting point to a series of increasingly disparate variations), and Get Up With It, but these are absolutely unique tracks, and the fact that they're not included in the main Davis "canon" is a damn shame.

    Weather Report (1971) - Weather Report

    For a very long time, I had no idea what kind of music Weather Report played, and I only associated them with "That band the marching band director picked because he seriously has no idea as to what constitutes good music to hear during a football game," and thus I was surprised to learn that 1. They are, in fact, jazz fusion and 2. They were actually formed by members of Miles Davis' backing band from the Bitches Brew sessions. The result is an album that's quintessential fusion - abstract, avant-garde, and simultaneously frantic and relaxing. Where Live-Evil failed, Weather Report succeeds in being the true successor to Bitches Brew, guaranteeing it heavy replay in my library and presumably a degree of displeasure for Rogue should he ever listen to it.:p

    In the Wake of Poseidon (1970) - King Crimson

    I don't advertise the fact too much, but I have no qualms about voicing my undying adoration for King Crimson (Or, at least, King Crimson until 1974, as I have not listened to any of their albums following Red), and when I heard that In the Wake of Poseidon was stylistically reminiscent of the work that got me into them to begin with - In the Court of the Crimson King - I leapt at the bait. I was not disappointed. In the Wake could perhaps be most accurately described as Crimson King II; it lacks the refreshing feeling of the original, or the stylistic variations of the later albums, but it is competent in its own right. Not really a good entry point into a prog rock band known for its diverse catalog, but fans won't be disappointed.
  24. Rogue1-and-a-half Manager Emeritus who is writing his masterpiece

    Member Since:
    Nov 2, 2000
    star 8
    I need to revisit Bitches Brew. I hated it on first listen, listened to it a couple more times, still hated it, gave it five years, went back to it, still hated it and haven't tried it again. That was probably five years ago now . . . I guess I need to bite the bullet and try it again.

    The Ultimate Christmas Album (1994) ? Various Artists

    Well, hardly does it live up to its name. This one was mostly a little too slow and lame for me. For instance, this one features the original recording of The Little Drummer Boy by the Harry Simeon Chorale, which is a nice slice of history, but also a pretty bad recording. It does have Dion absolutely slaying Please Come Home For Christmas and Jimmy Beaumont & the Skyliners doing You?re My Christmas Present. Best track is Fats Domino doing I?ll Be Home For Christmas in his inimitable style, absolutely destroying the original intent of the song, but who cares. But this one was mostly forgettable and uninteresting.

    Forty Licks (2002) ? The Rolling Stones

    You can tell just what a helicopter compilation this is with the simple statement ?only two songs from Sticky Fingers.? You could fill up four more discs with all the great Stones songs left off. But forty songs is a lot and there?s a lot of great rocking going on here. This is a blast from start to finish, with even the new songs, particularly the luminous album closer Losing My Touch from Keith, earning their keep. This is as good an argument as any other for the endurance of the Stones. It?s a good introduction, if you need one or know someone who does. Even for those who know the Stones pretty well, it?s a great listen; these songs hold up and, while you?ll probably be able to, off the top of your head, name five songs that should be here that aren?t (Let It Bleed, Waiting On a Friend, Dead Flowers, Can?t You Hear Me Knocking, Salt of the Earth), the songs that are here still play like hell. A fantastic double album; a great mixtape. This is the real stuff here.

    Hi Infidelity (1980) ? REO Speedwagon

    Listened to this one for my bad music thread. The track by track review is already up there, so check it out if you?re interested. Suffice it to say that this isn?t bad arena rock at all. It is occasionally ham-fisted and its sentimentality rarely plays well. But In Your Letter is a glorious retro throwback and Take It On the Run is just a great pop-rock song. These guys are not geniuses or great artists; probably they have also been unfairly maligned by people who look back on their era with disdain. This was a solid, likable pop album. It won?t change the world or make you rush out to get all their other albums. But it?s fun.

    Super Hits (2000) ? The Weather Girls

    The first song here is It?s Rainin? Men and the third is Big Girls Don?t Cry, at which point my familiarity with the work of The Weather Girls (nee Two Tons o? Fun) ended prior to this album. It?s worth saying that these songs set a template for the other eight songs included here; big eighties production, swirling strings, up-tempo and high energy vocals, pulsing club beats. This is, in no way, music to be taken seriously or to be considered for inclusion on your top ten albums of all time list. But it is mostly a blast. Success is a witty take down of the titular concept, way better than Bowie & Lennon managed with Fame. Dear Santa is a nearly seven minute disco epic with a central hook to die for and a bridge you?ll be singing in your head for days after you hear it. This was great party music. If you want more than that, look elsewhere, but if you like your parties to be funk-inflected, disco/gospel, R&B throwdowns (and who doesn?t), then you could do worse than this album, I tell you.

    The Singin? Ranger: 1949 ? 1953 (1989) ? Hank Snow

    Astounding box set; four CDs jammed with every single song Snow recorded during the four year period noted in the title, which is over a hundred all told. Prior to this set, I was mostly familiar with Hank Snow via people who have name-check
  25. Rogue1-and-a-half Manager Emeritus who is writing his masterpiece

    Member Since:
    Nov 2, 2000
    star 8
    Time Out of Mind (1997) ? Bob Dylan

    It feels like I?ve talked about this album several times in this thread, but I?ll just say again that it?s probably my favorite album of all time. Dylan, in my opinion, absolutely tops himself with this bleak, shattered, despairing album. The pain in this album is as sharp as a knife and the songs are the best Dylan?s written since . . . well, at the very least the mid-seventies. Not Dark Yet is perhaps his finest lyric and Standing in the Doorway and Tryin? to Get to Heaven aren?t far behind. Luminous, gorgeous; finds a strange and gripping transcendence in its absolute despair. Also, ushered in a late career renaissance for Dylan, which was fantastic to see; Love and Theft, the immediate follow up, is his best since Slow Train Coming, excepting this one, of course. A masterwork for the ages.

    Leave the Light On (2006) ? Chris Smither

    Smither has been an acoustic singer/songwriter since the sixties, but this is the first of his albums that I?ve heard. His voice is ravaged, but evocative; his guitar picking is astounding; his songwriting is often incredibly sharp. Origin of Species, a take down of Intelligent Design, is a riot and the title track is a meditative and gorgeous rumination on growing old with grace and humility. He manages a surprisingly effective, waltz-time cover of Visions of Johanna too; that?s got to count for something. This isn?t a show stopper or anything, but it was an enjoyable listen.

    The Colored Section (2002) ? Donnie

    A surprisingly assured and competent debut. It occasionally falls into the same trap as a lot of other music, namely that it sounds a bit too much like the generic version of its particular genre. But if Donnie occasionally indulges his pop sensibility too much, he also reveals a surprisingly wide desire to experiment. Big Black Buck is a slap down of mindless consumerism set to an invigorating Dixieland jazz arrangement; the title track is a harmony drenched ode to learning to live with the past; Do You Know is a quiet, melancholy bossa nova. I don?t know that I?ll be seeking out more from this artist, but it was refreshing to hear such a range of tones and flourishes on an R&B album (or, really, any modern album). It should be said, however, that, like almost all albums anymore, it?s too long; at least three songs should have been shaved off. But that?s forgivable. This isn?t life changing and I wouldn?t call this a ?great? album. But it?s surprisingly good.

    A Very Special Christmas (1987) ? Various Artists

    The first in a series of Christmas compilations put together to benefit the Special Olympics. When the album hits, it really, really hits: Springsteen?s raucous Merry Christmas Baby; The Pretenders? stunning, luminous Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas; Run-DMC?s witty, brilliant Christmas in Hollis; John Mellencamp?s surprisingly great rockabilly take on I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus; U2?s iconic Christmas (Baby Please Come Home). But, as you might guess, when it misses, it really, really misses: Bryan Adams? lame struggle through Run Rudolph Run; Bob Seger?s unbelievably laid back and sleepy Little Drummer Boy; Madonna?s hideous camping up of Santa Baby; Sting?s bizarre Gabriel?s Message. I?d recommend you get this and listen to it; there?s a lot of real brilliance here. But be prepared to hit the skip button.

    Timeless: The Classics (1991) ? Michael Bolton

    Got this one for my Bad Music Thread. Lengthy review is already up there, so check it out for a track by track destruction of this awful, bland, hackwork album. Suffice it to say that all Bolton proves here is that he has no idea why these are great songs. Trust me, You Send Me is not a classic because Sam Cooke unleashed his melisma all over the place; neither is Yesterday. Cooke and McCartney couldn?t hit the high notes Bolton can, but they understand that the heart of music has to be emotion and Bolton finds no emotion at all in any of these songs. Then there?s the fact that they all sou