2:50 p.m. - December 07, 2005
The Best of Lobo - Lobo
And, because I’m an OCD freak, I’ve mapped out the rest of these entries, and if I stick to the schedule the last one will be on December 31, 2005, just in time to return the planter that Aunt Edna sent you and spend it on some righteous tunes. This is just to give you some helpful advice, because I’d love you to want me, the way that I want you, the way that it should be. (OK, I’ll stop, if you’d only let it be… (OK I’LL REALLY STOP!))
So now, after I’ve wasted your time, let’s go:
Who’s Got The 10 ½? - Black Flag
Summary: Believe it or not, if you only want one Black Flag album, this is it. It was recorded live in Portland, Oregon. It concentrates on their later work, but to be honest Loose Nut and In My Head were their two strongest albums, track for track.
Positives: The sound is tremendous and the playing is fierce. Rollins isn’t TOO annoying and Greg Ginn doesn’t meander TOO much.
Drawbacks: Ginn still meanders a bit (well, more than a bit) on the jam, and Rollins can get overbearing at times, of course.
Verdict: While some may think Damaged is their premier release, the sound quality and general repetition of that album drags it a bit in my ears. This is primo stuff from a trailblazing punk rock band.
Random Trivia: The CD version adds about ½ hour of great material over and above the original vinyl version.
Life’s Rich Pageant - R. E. M.
Summary: R. E. M. makes a great leap forward on their fourth full-length album. They break out of the jangly guitar mode and create a varied, diverse and powerful album.
Positives: There isn’t a slack cut or a throwaway among the songs. Peter Buck’s guitar really takes on different sounds, while the band does a great job shifting down to slower, more mellow songs like “The Flowers of Guatemala”.
Drawbacks: None, really. I even enjoy “Underneath the Bunker”.
Verdict: Their second best album and a must have. “Fall On Me” was a big MTV hit, and “Superman” got a lot of airplay as well.
Random Trivia: You finally could almost understand Michael Stipe, as he stopped intentionally obfuscating his vocal delivery. Mike Mills, the bass players, sings lead on “Superman”.
Summary: Morrison heads back into the direction of Astral Weeks and comes up with an album full of memorable songs and mystical, thoughtful lyrics.
Positives: The arrangements and playing are top-notch. Morrison’s vocals give off warmth and feeling that is practically unsurpassed.
Drawbacks: Not the album to pop in if you want to dance around, like you could do on Moondance. This is thoughtful, evocative stuff that you need to be in the right mood for.
Verdict: It’s my favorite Van Morrison album. The imagery is tremendous, and even though cuts like “You Don’t Pull No Punches, But You Don’t Push the River” are long, they’re fresh and tight at six-minutes plus.
Random Trivia: This album was written right after Morrison got a divorce, which inevitably colored the songs.
Summary: Before this album, they were looked at by some as one-hit wonder posers. After this album, they were looked at as a revolutionary hip-hop band.
Positives: The samples and the beats and rhymes all work well together.
Drawbacks: There’s still a trace of misogyny in the lyrics, but the boys have matured a bit, while still having the snotty attitude.
Verdict: The best Beastie’s album, perhaps one of the best hip-hop albums. That’s not a genre I claim a lot of knowledge about, but it deserves to be in the team photo.
Random Trivia: There is a great site that lists all of the samples on the album complete with references.
Summary: From 1966 to 1971, the Kinks released a slew of great albums and singles that were basically ignored here in the States. This is the defining record; an album full of wistful nostalgia for an England that no longer existed. The album is gentle, peaceful, serene and sincere.
Positives: The album is full of minor classics, like “Do You Remember Walter”, “Wicked Annabella”, “Picture Book” and the ‘title’ track.
Drawbacks: At 15 tracks, a couple of them could have been lopped off, but overall there’s not really a weak one in the bunch.
Verdict: A fine example of an oft-ignored era by the Kinks. This is definitely worth the purchase.
Random Trivia: “Picture Book” was recently used by HP to sell its photo printers.
Summary: Scaggs breaks through the mainstream with an album that varies from pseudo-reggae, to torchy ballads, to slick LA-style pop rock.
Positives: While “Lowdown” and “Lido Shuffle” were big hits, the first side is money, with “What Can I Say” and “Georgia” kicking things off in fine form.
Drawbacks: When he’s singing ballads, he tends to sound like Fozzie Bear.
Verdict: There’s something for everyone! There are songs that make you dance and songs that make you want to smooch with your honey!
Random Trivia: This is the best album Toto ever released as well. (Basically, all of Toto sans the vocalist were on this album.)
Summary: After a couple of singles, the Pumpkins took the indie world by storm with this fascinating album, full of power, fury and surprising gentleness.
Positives: The riffs are loud and furious. Billy Corgan's and James Iha’s playing on “I Am One”, “Tristessa” and “Siva” is taut and merciless. Jimmy Chamberlain is a great, inventive drummer and showcases his chops throughout. (I know Corgan did the bulk of the work, but I gotta give Iha some love, too…)
Drawbacks: Billy Corgan starts to display his annoying side as well, as there are some overextended songs that seemingly meander aimlessly into boredom.
Verdict: Their (or is it really HIS) first shot is their best shot, track for track. Soon, they became monstrously popular.
Random Trivia: This was an ‘indie’ release, on Caroline Records. However, that was just a front to give them some ‘cred’ as they were signed to Virgin all along.
Summary: Conceived as a tribute to the pirate radio stations, The Who Sell Out is simply brilliant. Each song was conceived to sound like a totally different band (with “I Can See For Miles” as the only really Who-like song) and they even added commercials to boot! Plenty of hidden gems like “Tattoo”, “Armenia, City In the Sky” and “Our Love Was”.
Positives: The expanded CD has brilliant out-takes of commercials and some great hidden songs, like Roger Daltrey’s “Early Morning Cold Taxi” and Pete Townshend’s “Melancholia”.
Drawbacks: When you put this on MP3, some of the commercials cut off near the end or in the beginning, so it sounds disjointed when you shuffle tracks. But that’s so minor of a quibble it’s almost not worth writing.
Verdict: I enjoy this album more than any other Who album. The songs today sound fresh and bold, and the commercials add a bit of levity.
Random Trivia: They recorded some commercials with the hope of getting some schwag, and even wrote a song (“Jaguar”) in the hopes of getting some cars. No luck on the cars.
Summary: Virtuoso Vernon Reid and his band tear through a varied set of songs that showcase the versatility of his band and the vastness of their chops.
Positives: Most of this album has heavy duty guitars, like “Pride”, but the band also shows its tender side with “Solace Of You” and humor in “Love Rears Its Ugly Head”.
Drawbacks: It’s a bit too long, as this was in the era when bands first started to program albums for CD instead of vinyl. A couple of songs could have been trimmed, easily.
Verdict: It’s their strongest album, and one that belongs in any collection if you are a fan of hard rock or great guitar work.
Random Trivia: They’re back! They’re on tour now and will record another album in 2006.
Positives: There’s a sincere tribute to Patty Hearst (“Tania”), a semi-sincere song about Shirley MacLane, or someone like her (I think) (“She Divines Water”), and lots of other great twisted tunes.
Drawbacks: Not many. This is quite the enjoyable, if not quirky, album.
Verdict: The perfect place to start if you are interested in CVB.
Random Trivia: They did a version “O Death” here, which was made more famous when it appeared on the “O Brother Where Art Thou Soundtrack”.