Saturday, February 16, 2013

You Choose the Band, and Their Best Album

Karen: Today let's do a little exercise where we each choose a band or artist we like, and then select what we believe is their best album. You have to say why you think it is their best album, and it can't be a compilation/greatest hits album either!

Karen: I'll get it going with one of my favorite albums. I've actually mentioned this album before, three years ago in a post on "perfect albums," which I defined as 'all meat, no filler' -in other words, every track was worthwhile. It's Girlfriend by Matthew Sweet, that 90s purveyor of power pop. While I enjoy many of his albums, particularly 100% Fun and Altered Beast, I think Girlfriend has the best all-around songs and musical artistry. The album came out in 1991 and gained some notoriety briefly on MTV for its use of Japanese anime in the video for "Girlfriend." Sweet was going through a divorce when he wrote the songs and it appeared to have provided a great deal of inspiration for him. The guitar work of Richard Lloyd and the late Robert Quine is also fabulous; the sizzling solo on Girlfriend is unforgettable. The lap steel guitar by Greg Leisz is also noteworthy -you don't hear that particular instrument on a lot of pop/alternative music.

Sweet is, for my money, a fantastically talented songwriter, equally capable of lush, heart-breaking slow tunes like You Don't Love Me, upbeat love songs like I've Been Waiting, or rockers like the title tune. The album is all about relationships, with the occasional political song (Holy War), but it all holds together -like I said, a perfect album, a very solid 15 songs.

Here's something to think about as you consider your choice today: has the album as a product become obsolete? In these days of 'ala carte' music shopping, what with iTunes and MP3s, most people seem to eschew buying a whole album and typically buy individual songs.  I'm going to be a dictator here and say you can only answer this second question if you first tell us your choice for artist/album!! 


Rip Jagger said...

I've got to with The Who and "Who's Next". I wore that album out playing it. I don't currently have a good Who compilation to listen to, and I've got a car trip today. I might have to stop by a store and fix that oversight.

The Who played nearby last night, in Louisville. It's hard to believe some of these bands are still out there.

Rip Off

William Preston said...

Jackson Browne, on the album Jackson Browne (often incorrectly referred to as Saturate Before Using). Even the songs that aren't stunningly good are made outstanding by the backing musicians, including David Crosby on harmonies, and marvelous instrumentation decisions, such as the smart use of harmonica and bongos. The album has never let me down, and it's hard to not listen to the entire thing once you've begun. I think everything else Browne has done--at album length--pales by comparison, either because of forced lyrics or bland arrangements or just weak tunes.

Ray Tomczak said...

Supertramp's Breakfast in America has been my favorite album pretty much since its release back in 1979. Almost every song on the disc is great and it spawned several radio hits that still get airplay to this day.
I still buy albums and don't consider them obsolete, but maybe I'm becoming obsolete.

William said...

Neil Young - "After The Gold Rush". Even though "Harvest" was his best selling album, I feel that ATGR more fully reflects Neil's definitive sound and style. In fact nearly half of the album ended up on the massive best of collection "Decade". If I was trying to introduce someone to Neil Young - Gold Rush is the album I would start them off with. Because if they didn't care for that, they probably wouldn't like much of anything else he did.

david_b said...

Ray, great note on 'Breakfast in America', was going to be my pick.. Others to seriously consider..:

Monkees 'Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd', nearly every song is killer, polished psychedilia, country rock, you name it. Terrifically produced, awesome bass lines, I'd highly recommend the 2-disk CD with all the extras, like tracks regretably left off the album.

Beach Boys 'Pet Sounds', being Macca's inspiration for Pepper. How Brian Wilson lovingly weaves different instruments together made the industry take notice. Not a big commercial seller at the time, the movers/shakers of the pop world took note. Just a masterpiece.

As for Karen's comment on whether albums are obsolete with CDs, I still love Tom Petty's drowl announcement on 'Full Moon Fever' in the 'hidden track'..:

"Hello, CD listeners. We've come to the point in this album where those listening on cassette, or records, will have to stand up, or sit down, and turn over the record. Or tape. In fairness to those listeners, we'll now take a few seconds before we begin side two. [pause] Thank you. Here's side two."

No one addressed it better.

I truely miss the idea of 'two sides' to albums, it provided such a dynamic for album purists and artists to define their sound with track placement (remember when artists or producers would say, 'oh, just bury it on the second side'..??). The passing of great album art appreciation is a whole different discussion.

Edo Bosnar said...

I agree with Ray and david_b about Breakfast in America: it's not my pick, but that is one outstanding album.
Anyway, this is rather tough, and since I can't pick all six of the original Doors albums (seriously, they're all that good) or Santana's first four albums (same thing), I had to give this some some serious thought - and came up with Fragile by Yes. I think this is just a perfect album by one of my favorite bands. It has tracks that highlight the talents of the individual band members and longer, more typical prog-rock power tunes like Roundabout, Long Distance Runaround and South Side of the Sky in which all of their musical skills mesh together perfectly.
Since david_b mentioned a few runners-up, I'll also list a few that are strong contenders for me: Billy Joel's 52nd Street (by far his best album in my opinion), Joan Armatrading's The Key, and A Different Kind of Tension by the Buzzcocks.

Doc Savage said...

Didn't Pet Sounds inspire Revolvet? Here There & Everywhere was an attempt to capture the feel of God Only Knows. Then Revolvet spurred the aborted Smile.

Doc Savage said...

Sex Pistols' Never Mind the Bollocks. Nothing like it before or since. Even scared people!

Redartz said...

Breakfast in America would be on my top 10 list, too. As for the top, I submit Steely Dan's "Royal Scam". This album features such a range of great songs. Walter Becker and Donald Fagen were at their lyrical pinnacle, topped (in my opinion) by "The Caves of Altamira ". Then you have Larry Carlton's fine guitar work . "The Dan" always seemed to feature impressive session work by top-notch musicians.

A couple other honorable mentions:
Joni Mitchell, "The Hissing of Summer Lawns"
ABC, "The Lexicon of Love"

As for the question of album obsolescence, may I offer Adele's "21" as evidence that a full album of good music is still possible. Having loved each single, I was convinced to download the full package.

Tony said...

I have to disagree about Supertramp. "Breakfast" is a great album, but my pick from them would be "Crime of the Century". To each their own. Fleetwood Mac it would have to be "Rumors". The Beatles are a tough call, for me it's pretty much a 3-way tie between "Rubber Soul", "Sgt Pepper" and "Abbey Road". For my favorite band Rush, there are so many but I guess I would pick either "2112" or "Moving Pictures". Another favorite, John Mellencamp, either "Scarecrow" or "Lonesome Jubilee". I really miss albums. I still have a few, I just have to get around to buying a record player.

Doc Savage said...

Pacific Ocean blue by Dennis Wilson is an amazing achievement surpassing anything Brian Wilson did on his own, made all the more stunning as it was done by the Beach boy written off as long on looks and short on talent.

Tony said...

And as a PS...I believe albums are not obsolete. An album that has been taken care of, will sound just as good, if not better than a CD or mp3. I believe the industry itself, has made "the album", an antique. Plus I believe listening to vinyl, is a whole joyous experience. From selecting the album, removing it from the cover, placing it on the turntable, dropping the needle, reading the liner notes or lyrics, checking out the cover just don't get the overall great feeling by finding the mp3 on your iPod.

Karen said...

Hi guys, thanks for chiming in here. I wanted to clarify, by "album" I meant a grouping of songs together -not necessarily the medium its on ( for example, vinyl or CD) but the fact that the songs were intended by the artist to be heard together, as a set. I've heard and read many things in the last few years about how difficult it is now to sell whole albums as opposed to selling single songs. It's making it much harder for artists to make money as buyers can now choose to buy songs singly, for very low cost. There's even talk of moving away from albums all together and just releasing singles . Personally, I enjoy albums, especially when they have a unifying theme - yes, the infamous "concept" album! But they needn't be heavy-handed.

Doc Savage said...

The consumer is who demanded music be available in bits and pieces. The industry would prefer you buy a 12-track CD to get he 2 singles you really wanted. If not for all the craptastic filler tracks, I'd probably buy more music. As it is, I haven't bought a new albumin years. I just buyreissues of old stuff now.

Fred W. Hill said...

Ooh, so many to pick from but some personal favorites of mine:
The Beatles' Revolver; Fleetwood Mac's Rumours; Rolling Stones' Sticky Fingers; The Who's Who's Next; R.E.M.'s Automatic for the People; U2's The Joshua Tree; XTC's Skylarking; Neil Young's After the Gold Rush; Kate Bush' The Hounds of Love; Radiohead's The Bends; Creedence Clearwater Revival's Willie & the Poor Boys; the Kinks' Something Else. All choices entirely subjective, of course, and I certainly love many other lps/cds by all of these performers, but these picks are just the ones that stand out for me.

Garett said...

100% Fun was great--loved Matthew Sweet's sound.

I've enjoyed many albums, but in the last few years my favorite is Al Cohn and Zoot Sims Quintet, "You 'n' Me". Dueling saxophones, generally peppy with a couple quiet ones. One song called Angel Eyes is very strange but compelling, and the final song is an improvisation with just the 2 saxes, no backing band-- great back + forth and satisfying way to end the album.

I've put out a couple albums with my bands, and it is very satisfying to get the right order of songs for a whole album listening experience. It's fun to have the tracks all recorded, and then discover how they flow together best. We didn't attempt concept albums, but discovered the connecting threads along the way--thematically, musically.

david_b said...

Matt: You're correct regarding the chronological procession of albums.. (never heard the 'Here There and Everywhere' direct influence, but it makes sense..). But Paul always cited 'Pet Sounds' as leading to 'Pepper'..:

Here's one of Macca's quotes..:

"That ("Pet Sounds") I think was probably the biggest influence that set me thinking when we recorded Pepper, it set me off on a period I had then for a couple of years of nearly always writing quite melodic bass lines. "God Only Knows" is a big favourite of mine ... very emotional, always a bit of a choker for me, that one. On "You Still Believe in Me", I love that melody – that kills me ... that's my favourite, I think ... it's so beautiful right at the end ... comes surging back in these multi-coloured harmonies ... sends shivers up my spine.."

Actually, interestingly enough, "God Only Knows" is probably the ONLY song Macca cannot get through without crying.

Way to go, Brian Wilson..!!

Oh, and William, great mention on 'Jackson Browne'.. Didn't know Crosby did vocals. Crosby's SO underrated when it comes to providing stellar vocal harmonies (outside of CSN..).

Incidentally, I chose not to nominate any Beatle, Stones or Wings album, since they nearly all seem awesome for different reasons..

Seriously, how can you vote 'Exile on Main Street' over 'Beggars Banquet' or 'Some Girls' as which one's better..?? Both uber-awesome but for different reasons, simply different phases of ever-changing influences (and line-ups, as far as the Stones go..). 'Revolver's' got the charged rock and sophistication, but 'With the Beatles' has the youthful exuberance, raw energy and charm.

Doc Savage said...

My favorite beatles record just depends on my mood. Could be Revolver, The beatles, A Hard day's night, Rubber Soul...pretty much all but Let It be.

With the Rolling Stones there are even days I think Their Satanic majesties' Request is great.

but can anyone doubt that the first 2 LPs by the byrds are their best?

Garett said...

Hey Fred, yes Joshua Tree is a great one, and enjoyed Hounds of Love also. I preferred Life's Rich Pageant for REM, but maybe because it was the first of theirs I'd heard--plus it had "Superman". Led Zep 4 was great, and only 8 tunes--some CDs have so many songs now, it's unlikely that they'll all be good enough to make a classic album.

It's easier to make albums now than in the bronze age. Recording technology is available, and you can burn the CDs yourself. But with lower album sales there's less incentive. My last band recorded a full CD all at once, but my new one's decided to go with singles-- record and release one at a time, and then put out a CD when we accumulate enough singles.

We just recorded our first single last month, so anyone who's interested, have a listen:

Logan M said...

Wow, LOTS of great suggestions here - you folks have good taste in music. David_b, I applaud you mentioning the Monkees "PAC&J" LP...great album. Those who shrug off the Monkees as a manufactured band with no talent should give it a listen from start to finish.

Supertramp "Breakfast in America" was one of the first albums I owned on vinyl and then cassette and is one of my top 10...but for listening enjoyment, I still prefer their "Even in the Quietest Moments" LP. Although, Crime of the Century is a classic as well...oh, what the heck - everything they did with Hodgson was brilliant!

Haven't seen Pink Floyd The Wall mentioned yet, though...pure perfection.

david_b said...

Matt, totally agreed on 'Satanic Majesties', quirky, but ultra-cool album, probably their least-dated early album.. One of my all-time favs.

It's got that 'beautiful loser' quality, and both '2000 Light Years from Home' and 'Citadel' are supreme rockers.

Doug said...

Happy Saturday, friends --

I'll second Tony's suggestion of Rush's Moving Pictures. It was among several albums that I practically wore out on vinyl and replaced with cassette tapes -- when those began to get dead spots I replaced them with CDs. Perhaps that is the tribute to a favorite album.

Through my formative years of 6th grade-college graduation, I'd offer up some other suggestions, each of which is a top of A to bottom of B joy to me:

Journey's Departure
Duran Duran's Rio
KISS - Destroyer
Led Zeppelin IV
Fleetwood Mac - Rumours
Loverboy's Get Lucky
The Cars - Candy-O
Michael Jackson - Off the Wall
The Eagles - The Long Run
REM's Green
The Beatles' Revolver
John Mellencamp's Scarecrow

Great topic, Karen, and lots of wonderful suggestions everyone! It's true that in a singles market, that additional creative obligation of deciding the order of tracks has gone missing.


Doc Savage said...

I would take Document by REM over the other suggestions. Good from start to finish, and before they got sentimental (Everybody Hurts = ick).

Doc Savage said...

Now that I am home and can review my records:

Replacements Let It Be
Elvis Costello This Year's Model
Clash London Calling
Byrds Mr Tambourine Man
Dylan blonde on blonde
The Jam Sound Affects
James Brown Black Caesar
billy joel The nylon curtain
Elton John Goodby yellow Brick Road
Marvin Gaye What's Going On
Miles Davis Sketches of Spain
crowded house crowded house
Blondie Eat to the Beat
Simon & Garfunkel bridge over troubled water
Paul Simon Still Crazy after all these years
Diana Ross Diana
Suzanne vega 9 objects of desire
police ghost in the machine
Prince Purple Rain
Bruce Speingsteen the wild the innocent & the e street shuffle

for starters!

Doug said...

Matt, your mention of Purple Rain reminded me that I was going to add Prince's 1999 to my list. The naughty "Let's Pretend We're Married" got a lot of airplay on my stereo back in the day.

Blushing Doug

Karen said...

My favorite Prince album is Sign of the Times. Beautiful and strange, like the man himself.

The Ramones -Rocket to Russia

Iggy Pop -Lust for Life

Police -Synchronicity

Beatles -Revolver

Led Zeppelin -IV

Doug, forgot to mention, I like your new profile pic!

Karen said...

Oh and Pink Floyd -Wish You Were Here

Doc Savage said...

'cause I have about a thousand records, I continue...

Cannonball Adderley nippon soul
Chet baker singa
big Star #1 Record
Blur modern life is rubbish
Bowie Low
Jackson brown lawyers in love
Dave Brubeck Jazz Impressions of japan
lindsey buckingham Out of the Cradle
buffalo springfield buffalo springfield
Johnny Cash At Folsom Prison
the monkees the monkees
The cars the cars
Eagles Hotel California
leonard cohen Songs from a Room
Curtis mayfield Curtis
John cale paris 1919
Grant lee buffalo Mighty joe moon
Stan getz mickey one
John Coltrane a love supreme
CSN&Y Deja Vu
Brian Eno Here come the warm jets
Mark Eric A Midsummer's DayDream
Gang of 4 Entertainment!
Neil Finn Try Whistling This
Love Forever Changes
Psychedelic Furs talk talk talk
Talking heads '77
Fleetwood Mac Tusk
Roberta Flack First Take
lester young Laughin to keep from cryin
Dizzy Gillespie Jambo Caribe
peter gabriel So
Serge Gainsbourg Comic Strip
Go Gos Beauty and the beat
Richard hell blank generation

could go on but i'm sure you're all tires of my choices by now

Doug said...

How 'bout some love for...

Rick James - Street Songs

Anyone funky enough?


PS: Karen, that's a crop from a pic of me and the boys right after we entered Florida on our 2011 Disney vacation.

Doc Savage said...

Have it on vinyl!

Doug said...

Matt --

The Go-Go's were quintessential '80's, weren't they? Love 'em!

Tears for Fears' Songs from the Big Chair was huge at the time, but I find myself skipping over any of its tracks when they come up on the shuffle.

Don Henley's End of the Innocence was very good, if only for the hits (although I do enjoy several of the album cuts).

Guns 'n' Roses' Appetite for Destruction?


Doug said...

Cripes, I'm on a roll now...

My mom had the Carpenters' Then and Now, which featured the single made popular on Sesame Street, Sing. It also had Yesterday Once More and This Masquerade. Loved that whole album.

I know we're not talking soundtracks, but we've had some great car trips singing along with Donny Osmond and company on Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Every song's good and some are quite humorous.


Doc Savage said...

Purple Rain is a soundtrack, so why not!

so... Saturday night fever (mostly) by the bee gees

Doc Savage said...

is that the one with Shout, Everybody Wants to Rule the World, and head over heels?

Doug said...

Yes, Matt -- that's it.

I actually like Mother's Talk as the best track. Broken would be up there as well (great bass on the latter).


Anonymous said...

I agree with quite a few of the choices on here.I own everything on Fred's list. However, my nomination for today is:

Empty Glass by Pete Townshend. Released in 1980, it was his first album after Keith Moon died, and his first "proper" solo album (his words). It's a tour-de-force that captures Townshend right at the precipice of his last great creative period (79-82), and his slide into lunacy.

Townshend is ultra-charged up here, and it shows in the songwriting. Kenny Jones, Rabbit Bundrick, Simon Phillips, and Tony Butler (among others) lend great support. But I think that Chris Thomas, the producer deserves a lot of credit for pushing Townshend, and helping to sculpt an amazing sound (google him, and you're jaw will drop at his credits). It captures the feel of 1980 perfectly, yet never sounds dated to me. I have to admit it's probably better than anything the Who released after Quadrophenia, and I'm a major Who fan.

It was the first Who-type album released after I became a fan in my teens in 1980, and the hairs on my neck still go up during Jools & Jim.

James Chatterton

Doc Savage said...

Have that on vinyl too but no other Who wxcept Who's next and a compilation from '66 to maybe '82 so
not much to compare it to. Love Let My Love Open the Door.

Anonymous said...

Try Quadrophenia sometime, Matt. I think it's their true masterpiece. Although, it did speak to the dis-affected teenager in me when I discovered it decades ago.

I'm in agreement with you on Pacific Ocean Blue.

Have you tried the Notorious Byrd Brothers? I love the first two albums, but I think that's the one that holds up best as a full album.

Logan, I was obsessed with The Wall when I was a teenager. Now it's one of the few Pink Floyd albums that I just can't get through anymore. It hasn't held up like Dark Side or Wish You Were Here, or even Piper at the Gates of Dawn for me.

Garett, I plan to check out your music.

James Chatterton

Humanbelly said...

Harry Nilsson- "Son of Schmilsson" (only slightly preferred over "Nilsson Schmilsson")

Klaatu- (Oh lord, MORTIFYING that I could even admit to knowing there small canon enough to list a Best Album here, but. . . ) "Hope"


Anonymous said...

Hey, I loved Klaatu's Hope when I was a teenager. Uhhh...did I say that out loud again?

James Chaterton

Doc Savage said...

i have all the byrds LPs...I favor the Gene Clark years. Also enjoy the "Preflyte" stuff with their demo of You Showed Me (later recorded by the Turtles in a version nowhere near as good). Speaking of Gene Clark, No Other is a great overlooked gem.

Anonymous said...

You're right about Gene Clark, Matt. He was the best songwriter in the Byrds. I could've easily picked No Other. A great collection of songs, that really cohere the way all the best albums do.

James Chatterton

Logan M said...

James, I'm sure I will be the odd ball here, but while I love Wish You Were Here yet today, I think Dark Side of the Moon is one of theirs that doesn't hold up as well for me.

Seconds on Quadrophenia though.

And Klaatu? Love them, HB!

Here's one that I'd wager no one had...Chilliwack LP Wanna Be a Star. They had a Top 10 hit with My Girl (Gone Gone Gone) in the US, but the whole album was good stuff.

Joseph said...

This might be my favorite non-comic related topic on this site. In trying not to repeat too much of the great posts above, here are some of my favorite albums that I love as just that: whole albums. Not just a few highlights but the whole cohesive unit.

Bright Eyes - I'm Wide Awake It's Morning (enjoy every single song on this album at any time of day)

Arcade Fire - Funeral (never get sick of it. such a great, cohesive collection)

Springsteen - Nebraska (i always win over Springsteen-haters with this one)

The Clash - London Calling (hard to pick a fav from them, but every song here is a winner)

Led Zeppelin - IV (seems cliche, but it really is their best, IMHO)

Smashing Pumpkins - Siamese Dream (i listen every year on my birthday)

Neko Case - Fox Confessor Brings the Flood

Okkervil River - Black Sheep Boy

The Pixies - Surfer Rosa

Sunny Day Real Estate - Diary

Dinosaur Jr - Where You Been?

The Who - Quadrophenia (my all time, undisputed, grand champion, favorite album of all time)

Thanks for letting me list this. Can't wait to read more of others' picks.

Unknown said...

The Electric Light Orchestra was tops with me hands down. I went to see them in 1978 and it was great of course. Jeff Lynne was the writer of course and is still at it today. Out of the Blue was a great double album might be the best. There song are used all the time in commercials and television shows. Dr Who was a recent one. nuff said.

Edo Bosnar said...

Wow, I knew it would be hard for people to just pick one band and stick to that - this thread really exploded since last night (Central European time).
Karen, I'm totally with you on Wish You Were Here - my favorite Pink Floyd album, and the title track is one of my favorite Floyd songs.
Doug, since you mentioned funk, Rick James is just fine, but when I think of funk I think of Sly Stone, George Clinton or Betty Davis. Speaking of Clinton, my favorite project he worked on is Maggot Brain by Funkadelic. Another classic funk ablum is Stand! by Sly and the Family Stone.
As to Led Zeppelin, I see most people here have a fondness for IV, which is, granted, a classic, but my personal favorite is In Through the Out Door - I just love the unusual (for Zep) quality of most of the songs, which work together really well.
Also, Karen said, logically, that we can't pick greatest hits or compilation albums, but I wonder if that also includes live albums? Because I think Stop Making Sense is by far the best Talking Heads album. And sometimes I think Bongo Fury, a partially live album, is my favorite work by both Frank Zappa and Captain Beefheart.
A few others I thought of:
Robbie Robertson - Contact from the Underworld of Redboy
Ministry - Land of Rape and Honey
Tom Waits - Franks Wild Years
And the soundtrack to the movie "To Live and Die in LA" - it's actually a Wang Chung album, and by far the best music produced by them.

And Garett, thanks for the link - that's a great song.

Anonymous said...

Hey, where's the love for Roxy Music? Siren is far and away one of the best records any of you will ever hear. It starts off with 'Love is the drug' and ends 'Just Another Guy'. Twenty five years ago I would have argued for 'Forever Changes' but now I only do drugs for hypertension.

Doc Savage said...

I could listen to Maybe the People Would Be the Times or Between Clark and Hilldale on endless repeat. Same with More Than This off Avalon, but nothing from Siren strikes me that way.

I'm surprised no one has mentioned Astral Weeks.

Humanbelly said...

Kind of skimming through this delightfully voluminous thread at this point-- am I correctly seeing that no one has tossed in a choice for Paul McCartney and/or Wings?? Mind you, like KLAATU (and thanks for the brave support back there, fellas-- you are troupers, indeed!), the body of Sir Paul's work for much of the last forty years could be considered a guilty pleasure. HBSpouse rolls her eyes at the mere mention of his name. BE THAT AS IT MAY-- while most folks would likely name "Band on the Run" as his seminal sort-of-solo work, or possibly "Wings at the Speed of Sound", I'd like to posit the somewhat later "Tug of War". There, I've said it.

Say, with Beatles albums, it's almost impossible to really make any kind of call. Personally, I love nearly every song on every record-- maybe 10 songs total that I'd say, "enh--don't really like that one." REVOLVER, SGT. PEPPER, and ABBEY ROAD are all solid choices. But the WHITE ALBUM and THE EARLY BEATLES could make a case, as well. And many in-between. However, I think I'll go with the American release of RUBBER SOUL simply because it, oddly enough, pulled a number of songs that seemed more like "filler" on the British release, and provided an entire album with many non-hit songs that I LOVED the first time I played it through.


Anonymous said...

I've always thought that Tug of War was one of McCartney's strongest albums. The Pound is Sinking is a hidden gem. The problem with Tug of War is that everyone remembers it for Ebony & Ivory. And I've yet to meet anybody face-to-face who didn't think it was the worst song he ever wrote. Mind you, I worked in a record store for the entirety of the 80's. Never found anyone who liked it, then or now.

"Wings is the band the Beatles could have been."
-Steve Coogan, I'm Alan Partridge

James Chatterton

vancouver mark said...

Ding! Oh dear, I'm afraid time's up, and nobody's correctly named the best Stones album. No winners this week. The answer, of course, is Let It Bleed, quite possibly the greatest album of all time, by anyone, ever, anywhere.

As for the Beatles, I agree with the people who picked Revolver, but my favorite Beatles moment wasn't on an album, it was the 45 with Strawberry Fields and Penny Lane.

Some other favorites that I haven't seen mentioned yet are

Stooges - Funhouse (if you've never listened to it you should try it, at least once, preferably very loud)

Queen - Sheer Heart Attack (although Night at the Opera is incredible too)

Alice Cooper - Killer

Springsteen - Darkness on the Edge of Town

David bowie - Diamond Dogs (out of many favorites...)

Doors - Strange days

Peter Gabriel - Us

To James, I echo your love for Townsend's Empty Glass. One of my favorite concert moments ever was seeing the Who in 89 and hearing that long slow intro of Rough Boys building and building and building.

And Logan, it was a hoot to hear you mention Chilliwack! The album I had was Dreams, Dreams Dreams, with Something Better and Fly By Night. I do feel forced to have some loyalty to that band, in that I was actually BORN in Chilliwack, the town, a few miles east of Vancouver.

Garett said...

Thanks Edo! It's a new band, new single. We're heading out to play several gigs over the next few weeks, then back into the studio to record more original songs.

Hey Vancouver Mark, I always have to wait for the part and sing along to Chilliwack:
"Well we fly by night, it's like a rocket flight
Yeah, we fly by night, it makes you feel alright
It keeps you coming back for more"

Doug said...

I love this post -- thanks, Karen!

A couple of thoughts:

Edo, loved the film and the album "Stop Making Sense". Always a joy when any of those cuts come across the shuffle.

I'd also like to offer a tip of the hat to all of those who've left comments so far. What a great and varied selection for us to check out in broadening our own listening horizons. And even if anyone read a comment and thought, "Oh, man -- that album or group sucks!", no one said it. Thanks as always for the good blogging manners!

Finally, here's another album I wore out back in 1979: Get the Knack. Bawdy, sexist, a little punky... But man those guys could play.


Inkstained Wretch said...

Hmm, missed this one yesterday...

My picks:

Bob Dylan "Highway 61 Revisited" -- Most people say Blonde On Blonde is his best, but that one doesn't do much for me. This one, on the other hand, is epic.

Johnny Cash "Live At Folsom Prison" -- This is the rare album that everybody calls great that truly lives up to its reputation. The Man in Black is truly The Man here.

Rod Stewart "Every Picture Tells A Story" -- A just amazing album that effortlessly mixes rock, folk, soul and features Rod's best-ever songwriting. Then, in the late 70s, a gypsy apparently laid a curse on him that he would only make crappy pop records for the rest of life...

Elton John "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" -- You could tell somebody who didn't know John that this two-disc album was a greatest hits compilation and they would readily believe you.

Tom Waits "The Heart of Saturday Night" -- I know most Waits fans prefer his later, edgier stuff, but this collection of jazz, blues and beat poetry is just flawless and isn't an acquired taste to the average listener.

Greg Allman "Laid Back" -- His first solo album is a real gem, dropping the ABB's twin-quitar boogie for a collection of soul and blues that really show off his prowess as a singer.

Johnny Winter "Still Alive And Well" -- A ferocious bluesrock album by a major talent that never quite got his due.

Commander Cody & His Lost Planet Airmen "Live From Deep In The Heart Of Texas" -- A truly raucous live album with the twist that it was almost entirely new material rather than a band relying on already proven hits.

Blue Oyster Cult "Secret Treaties" -- Their later albums have the biggest hits, but this dark collection of hard rock, progressive metal and just plain weirdness - they have a song called "Flaming Telepaths" in here for goodness sake - is their definitive album.

Bruce Springsteen "Born In The USA" -- I mean, come on, do I have to justify this?

The Cramps "Stay Sick" -- Most of the 70s punk bands had nowhere to go artistically after a while because they were tied to the genre's raw, amateur
aesthetic - which had the effect of freezing them in time. The Cramps were actually a roots rock band and some of their best albums came later when their chops were sharper.

The Cowboy Junkies "The Trinity Sessions" -- Listening to this one as I write this. The most soothing music I've ever heard.

Karen said...

Wow -maybe we should run music posts more often! I love reading all the comments. And as Doug says -thanks for keeping it all positive.

This might be cheating, but two AC/DC selections:
Best album with Bon Scott: Highway to Hell

Best album with Brian Johnson: Back in Black

Inkstained Wretch said...

Forgot to add:

The Pogues "Rum, Sodomy & the Lash" -- The Irish folk tradition meets punk rock and both of them benefit grandly. The perfect album to down a Harp lager to.

Anonymous said...

Hi Clem – right there with you on ELO –Out of the Blue. I would take New World Record as more my favourite, but OOTB is the clear pinnacle for writing, production, musicianship, harmonies and the arrangements (not something you often notice on rock albums).

Hi HB – I’m afraid I’m in the ‘10 years of magic, 40 years of crap’ camp with McCartney, but Tug of War and Flaming Pie stand head & shoulders above the rest of Macca’s post Beatles catalogue. Ebony & Irony is dire, but Tug of War and Take it Away are a great one-two to start an album with.

Hi Matt – Tusk over Rumours? Really? Please talk us through that one. I thought Tusk was supposed to be one of the worst albums of all time.

Everyone – seriously, we’ve mentioned every Springsteen album EXCEPT Born to Run. Am I to conclude that we, as a group, not only regard this as Springsteen’s worst album, but also as a generally bad album? Or is there a big Asbury elephant in this room?

I'm also genuinely astonished that Bat Out of Hell didn't get a look in.


Anonymous said...

To Karen’s point about people not making real albums any more, in the sense of sustained mood pieces, I kind of agree, although am I always impressed when I hear it done. Two albums that really impressed me as, very unexpectedly, having a mood, a manifesto almost, were Lily Allen’s It’s not me, it’s you and Katy Perry’s One of the Boys, which seemed like a metro sexual concept album when I first heard it.

Neither of these is on my favourites list, but they are recent examples of albums as coherent, thought out collections of consistent songs, rather than just patchwork quilts of different sounds.


Anonymous said...

OK, here’s the list:

Bob Seger didn’t have a single album that qualified to me, but his ‘best of’ is stunning.

Likewise the Police – awesome songs, but SC & AS couldn’t remotely equal Sting, so the albums all sound like filler while you’re waiting for the next great Sting track.

Sting - Ten Summoner’s Tales. Start to finish, brilliant.

Floyd – nothing left to say about the obvious choices, so I’ll pick Amused to Death by Roger Waters. Far and away the best ‘Floyd’ album of the last 33 years.

Sisters of Mercy - Floodland

the Quireboys - A bit of what you fancy.

Steinman - Bad for Good.

Warren Zevon – Transverse City

Bowie – Hunkydory.

Pandora’s Box – Original Sin. Cheating really, It’s just a way of getting two Steinman albums in.

This is not a cool album to pick, but Long Distance Voyager by the Moody Blues. This might be a unique example of a band producing their best work 20 years in.


Edo Bosnar said...

Richard, I definitely agree with you about Born to Run and Long Distance Voyager.
Here's my own 'uncool' pick: I'm not really fan of New Age, but I really love Manheim Steamroller's Fresh Aire III.
I also can't believe I forgot to mention Television's Marquee Moon - I was just listening to it recently.

Anonymous said...

Man, I am seriously going to have to go shopping after this thread!


david_b said...

Hmmm, seems like a few choice areas to comment on have arose since I left..:

Blues Brothers, EVERYONE MUST BUY 'Made in America'.. It's their final album with John, made as a 'live concert' album with studio sound effects. Better than the earlier ones, 'cept possibly the movie soundtrack.

Wings..? Highly, HIGHLY recommend 'Final Flight' Bootleg CD everyone.

You can find it on the 'net, but it's Macca's studio-quality tapes culled from their '79 UK tour with Lawrence Juber on hot jazzy guitar. The quick demise of Wings kept this underwraps for all these years, but it's a PURE GEM, right up there with 'Wings Over America'. As for best studio album, I lean towards 'Venus and Mars', with the pre-group 'Ram' as a close second.

Bowie..? Never was a regular listener, but LOVED ol' 'Ziggy Stardust'.

(No one will ever scream 'WHAMBAM THANK YOU MA'AM' quite the same way ever again.

Vancover, favorite Beatles moment for me would HAVE to be 'Paperback Writer/Rain'. Many ways to listen to it on youtube, either FULL BLAST remastered with extra bass, or deconstructed..:

Listening to each track individually is scintillating on it's own merits. If you can track down the 'Rain' deconstruction for John's awesome double-tracked self harmonies.., it's SO WORTH the bandwidth.

Doug/Karen, we may have to do 'comedy albums' someday soon.., I can feel some George Carlin, Steve Martin and Bob Newhart bubbling up.

Humanbelly said...

Oh, Richard, no doubt at all-- the omission of BAT OUT OF HELL is a genuine overlook. And I do like BACK INTO HELL almost as much-- it just doesn't have anything to match the epic "Paradise by the Dashboard Light", of course.


Karen said...

I didn't know where else to mention this, but since we have the recent comment gizmo maybe some of you will see it: Showtime has a really excellent documentary on the Eagles called History of the Eagles currently showing multiple times right now.

Anthony said...

Thanks Karen. I'll watch it tonight. I always enjoy a good documentary about music history. I used to enjoy VH1 Behind The Music until it ran out of interesting musicians or groups to cover.

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