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2:47 p.m. - December 29, 2005
The Penultimate 10 of the 150 (or so) Albums I Dig the Most
This is the penultimate listing of 10 (or so) of the 150 (or so) albums I dig the most, so dig in kiddies – this one’s going to be a live one.

I was tagged for a listing of “5 Things I Haven’t Told Anyone Here” from Radiogurl . Normally, I don’t do such thing, because they’re not really in my idiom. I DO plan these things out, believe it or not, and with this project I have about a two week backlog of ideas to write about. Whether those ideas will be fully formed drivel or half baked drivel is anyone’s guess, but I have me a list and I’m always checkin’ it twice.

But, because she’s a nice person, who also works in the industry that I abandoned in 1988 for a life of riches and fame (heh!), I’ll do the 5 things with a twist. I’ll talk about music.

• I know every word to “Slow Ride” by Foghat, and I’m not afraid to admit it. Yes, there are more words than “Slow ride – take it easy.”

• When Liz was having her sinus infection two weeks ago and feeling like total diddly-poo, I actually sang “Do You Feel Like We Do” by Peter Frampton towards her. I’m lucky I didn’t have a shoe thrown at me.

• The first concert I saw was Men At Work, with INXS opening up. I bought two sleeveless T-shirts at the show, and let me tell you, I never felt so manly as a 125 pound junior in high school.

• I actually bought “Have You Never Been Mellow” by Olivia Newton-John on 45 as a child.

• In fifth grade, we had a teacher that played the piano and we sang songs in class (outside of our normal music class). We sang “Love Will Keep Us Together” and “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down”, among others. In fact, that’s how we first learned about symbolism was singing about Virgil Caine.


And with that, here’s another 10!

Rubber Soul - The Beatles

Summary: The Beatles make a huge leap forward with this fine set. They expand their sonic palette, using a sitar, a fuzz bass, and experimental treatments of ‘normal’ instruments.

Positives: It’s got 13 great songs (even if “Michelle” is a bit overrated), and one that I think Lennon regretted soon after he recorded it.

Drawbacks: “Run For Your Life” ends the album and it probably should have been kept aside. It’s a vicious, misogynistic song.

Verdict: Even with that final cut, it’s my favorite Beatles’ album.

Random Trivia: Of course, the American version was totally different, with a few songs from the British Help! album and some of these songs shunted to Yesterday and Today. “Wait” was recorded for Help! but not used until now. It must be nice just to dig out a gem from the archives when you need it.

Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere - Neil Young

Summary: After leaving Buffalo Springfield and recording a decent debut solo album, Young introduces the world to Crazy Horse and his patented guitar solos and jams. This really kick started his solo career.

Positives: “Cowgirl In the Sand” and “Down By the River” are great extended jams, while “Cinnamon Girl” is everything you want, and more, including the best one-note guitar solo ever.

Drawbacks: I didn’t care much for “Round and Round” for whatever reason.

Verdict: While there are some quiet moments, this is an album you can crank up high and air guitar to your heart’s content.

Random Trivia: All kinds of bands have covered “Cinnamon Girl”, including Type O Negative!!


Paranoid - Black Sabbath

Summary: After a doom-laden debut (with a wank-tastic closing number that showcased the good AND the bad of Sabbath), the Birmingham lads strike terror in the heart of rock fans everywhere with a most memorable album.

Positives: Of course there’s “Iron Man”, “Paranoid” and “War Pigs”, but “Electric Funeral” and “Hand Of Doom” (an anti-drug abuse song) are standout tracks as well, with tempo changes and soft / loud dynamics well before the Smashing Pumpkins and other alt-rockers thought of them.

Drawbacks: “Rat Salad” is a toss-off, giving the drummer some.

Verdict: “Sharon! Thizz one izz me bess one…” I agree, Ozzy, I agree.

Random Trivia: Both “Paranoid” and “Iron Man” hit the Billboard Top 100 as singles!

Nevermind - Nirvana

Summary: A landmark album that deserves all of the accolades it gets, even if it didn’t “invent” grunge. (In fact, the sound is so polished on this album it’s far away from the grunge of Mudhoney and Tad). The songs and sound are killers.

Positives: Ah, you know this one, really. But for me “On A Plain”, “Drain You” and “Breed” are just as good as the ‘hits’.

Drawbacks: This has a bonus track that’s hidden at the very end of the record (called “Endless Nameless” that’s about 10 minutes after “Something In the Way” ends). I’m glad they stopped doing that for the most part.

Verdict: The contrarian in me likes a lot of Bleach better than this, however, track for track this is so strong and powerful.

Random Trivia: Though Jason Everman is listed on the album sleeve as a member of the band on the Bleach album, he never played on it, and only was in the band for one tour. He later joined Soundgarden as a stop-gap bass player for one tour as well.

Jailbreak - Thin Lizzy

Summary: Phil Lynott writes some winning songs about fighting, loving, losing and running back, while Scott Gorham and Brian Robertson perform some great six-string magic.

Positives: You know “The Boys Are Back In Town” and “Jailbreak”, but “Emerald” has the best guitar duel, and how could you not love “The Cowboy Song”??

Drawbacks: It’s pretty much a perfect album – not a clunker in the bunch.

Verdict: As I said above, it’s pretty much a perfect album. It rocks hard, and it also brings a tear to your eye.

Random Trivia: Guitarist Scott Gorham was from California, not the UK.

Live At the Old Waldorf - Television

Summary: This album, released in limited edition on Rhino Handmade, showcases Television during the Adventure tour as a loud and fierce band. Their studio albums are clean – here the guitars sound dirty and distorted, and it’s just as wonderful.

Positives: “The Dream’s Dream”, the kickoff, starts the show off on the right track, and all of the originals crackle and pop. The version of “Little Johnny Jewel” here is spectacular.

Drawbacks: I’m not a huge fan of this version of “Satisfaction”.

Verdict: It’s better than The Blow Up because the sound is much better and I think they’re playing better as well.

Random Trivia: When Television gave up the ghost, drummer Billy Ficca became one of the Waitresses.


Big World - Joe Jackson

Summary: Another winning album by Jackson, who again changes directions a bit and assembles a traditional rock band to record these complex and mature songs about the state of the world and the state of relationships in the mid-80’s.

Positives: “Right and Wrong”, “Tango Atlantico”, “We Can’t Live Together” and “Home Town” are all big winners.

Drawbacks: Jackson overreaches at times, as is his wont.

Verdict: It’s one of Jackson’s best, and actually his last really good album until Volume 4.

Random Trivia: Jackson showed his idiosyncratic side on this album, not on the songs per se, but the final product. It was a three-sided record, and it was recorded live. However, during the performance, the audience was not allowed to clap or applaud until the song was totally and completely finished. So it was recorded live but meant to sound like it was in a studio.

Live At the Great American Music Hall - The Radiators

Summary: A criminally overlooked band, the Radiators make their hay on the concert scene, and this album shows why. It illustrates the versatility and chops of the veteran band. They can move from New Orleans sound to blues and soul to rock and roll without a hitch, sometimes in the same song.

Positives: “Barnburner” absolutely smokes, as does “Little Sadie”, while “Lucinda” really shows off their chops without being a total bore.

Drawbacks: None in the least.

Verdict: Everyone needs to buy one Radiators album, and this is as good as any.

Random Trivia: During “Lucille” (not the Little Richard song, BTW) the band twists into the theme song from the “Magnificent Seven” and then into “Cissy Strut” by the Meters.

The Name Of This Band Is the Talking Heads - Talking Heads

Summary: A live double? How 70’s! But the Heads do their songs justice by showcasing two different eras – one with the quartet as is after More Songs About Buildings and Food, then later as an expanded band during the Remain In Light tour. The latest CD is expanded with more tracks from each era, and it’s astounding.

Positives: The Heads were a great live act, and all of the key songs from their first four albums are here and are done well.

Drawbacks: It’s about as perfect of a live set (or sets) as you can get.

Verdict: Some of the live versions are far superior to the studio versions, which is high praise indeed. It’s a vital Talking Heads document.

Random Trivia: Guitarist Adrian Belew, who was in the touring band for Remain In Light was in Frank Zappa’s band, then later joined King Crimson and formed the Bears.

Live At Leeds - The Who

Summary: A powerful document of a band at full roar, this has been greatly enhanced by an expanded CD version that includes basically the entire set, sans Tommy (except for one song). That’s the version I have. They even have a double CD now that includes EVERYTHING.

Positives: “Heaven and Hell” kicks off the expanded CD with a fury. “Young Man Blues” shows the band at its pinnacle, and the live version of “A Quick One While He’s Away” is stunning. “Summertime Blues” still threatens to blow out your speakers.

Drawbacks: I never was a big fan of the expanded versions of “My Generation”.

Verdict: Turn it up past 10 if you can. It’s a vital document of a vital band.

Random Trivia: The Who recorded every gig of their American tour, and didn’t like any of the recordings, before finally just recording one of the shows they performed after returning from America and rushing it out.

 

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