Friday, May 27, 2011

305 Odelay. As close as the countdown gets to yodeling.



Album: Odelay
Artist: Beck
Year: 1996
Genre: Rock

Tracks



  1. Devils Haircut
  2. Hotwax
  3. Lord Only Knows
  4. The New Pollution
  5. Derelict
  6. Novacane
  7. Jack-Ass
  8. Where It's At
  9. Minus
  10. Sissyneck
  11. Readymade
  12. High 5 (Rock the Catskills)
  13. Ramshackle



Two albums back I was fairly scathing about Avalon by Roxy Music. I launched into a bit of a pompous tirade about over-production and made a lot of frankly convoluted references to things being polished. The main thrust of my argument was that a lot of time and effort and mental energy went into producing Avalon which produced a tedious album. There’s no doubt that an equal amount of time went into producing Odelay and many hours were spent thinking about how all the sounds should go together. But unlike Avalon, Odelay is a fantastic listen.

You might think it’s hypocritical to think one slickly produced album is dull while another is entertaining but can I explain my position by referring you to the respective album covers. Avalon’s cover (scroll down two entries to remind yourself) features a helmeted figure (who is actually female) staring out at a sunset. You can imagine the discussion: “We’re making some serious art here we need to make sure the cover reflects the seriousness of the situation. Hire a photographer and a location scout! Design the most imposing helmet possible! But it’s still not weighty enough, we need more- someone find me... a falcon! This work of art demands a serious looking bird!” When the same topic of conversation was introduced in Beck’s studio someone said: “Hey look at this cool picture of a really shaggy dog!”

Odelay has a real sense of fun. It’s slickly produced by people with a sense of humour and a sense of the ridiculous. It’s made by people who were grinning foolishly at each other during the playback. Unlike Avalon, which is polished to a predictable sheen, Odelay leaps happily in directions you never expected. At around the 3 minute mark of Novacane the track dies down almost to the point of silence. The short pause is enough for the listener to wonder what’s about to come next and the range of options is practically limiteless. It could be a fluglehorn, a loud guitar, a cheesy fifties sample, an animal sound-effect of one of thousands of other things. If you saw all the twists and turns of Odelay coming then you’re freakishly psychic and should probably have a good hard look at yourself.

You can’t really describe Odelay except to say that Beck has a great voice, he writes a good tune and an intriguing lyric and the Dust Brothers treat the production desk as the quirkiest instrument in the studio. Give it a listen,

Highlight: Devil’s Haircut
Lowlight: Novacane

Influenced by: The limitless possibilities that sampling affords
Influenced: The further dismantling of musical genre boundaries.

Favourite Amazon Customer Review Quote: "This stuff tries way, way too hard to be "cool."

-I honestly think this record doesn’t try hard to be anything.

So do you need this album at your constant Beck and call or could you Odelay it aside forever? Let me know below.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

306. Songs for Swinging Lovers. Old Blue eyes is here


Album: Songs for Swinging Lovers
Artist: Frank Sinatra
Year: 1956
Genre: Big Band Swing


Tracks


  1. You Make Me Feel So Young
  2. It Happened in Monterey
  3. You're Getting to be a Habit with Me
  4. You Brought a New Kind of Love to Me
  5. Too Marvelous for Words
  6. Old Devil Moon
  7. Pennies From Heaven
  8. Love is Here to Stay
  9. I've Got You Under My Skin
  10. I Thought About You
  11. We'll Be Together Again
  12. Makin' Whoopee
  13. Swingin' Down the Lane
  14. Anything Goes
  15. How About You?



I defy you not to like this record. In fact more than that I dare you. I officially dare you to put this album on and not enjoy it. If you can convince me that you heard Songs for Swinging Lovers all the way through and didn’t tap your toes with enjoyment at some point then I’ll gladly give you a free CD of your choice- which would be small compensation for the fact that you’re clearly dead inside and incapable of joy on any level.

While it’s possible Sinatra wasn’t an especially nice guy in person and he had a habit of befriending even less pleasant people, none of that comes through on the album. When you put Songs for Swinging Lovers on your CD player all you hear is a truly remarkable voice singing  some well chosen standards. There’s nothing original on the album, you won’t find Sinatra’s name in the songwriting credits and some of the tracks were already over a decade old before they appeared on the album. In fact Sinatra fans would have been able to pick up the record in the shop and probably sing a version of every track themselves before they even heard it. But they wouldn’t do the songs justice the way Frank does. He really does these tracks justice. And not “we tracked down the perpetrators and fined them” justice but full on, Dirty Harry, Charles Bronson “we hunted them down and shot them in cold blood after making a growly speech" justice. Okay that analogy got away from me a bit but the point is that Sinatra and the brilliantly named Nelson Riddle completely transform these old love songs into Frank tunes. Anyone doing them after the release of Swinging Lovers was doing them with due deference to the Sinatra way.

You may not consider yourself to be especially swinging, you may even be a life-long celibate, but none of that will stop you from enjoying Songs For Swinging Lovers and becoming slightly cooler for having heard it.

Highlight: I've got you under my skin
Lowlight: Too marvelous for words

Influenced by: The songs themselves and a rat-pack mentality
Influenced: Countless imitators.

Favourite Amazon Customer Review Quote: "Wonderful arrangements. Magnificent composers. Frank's glorious voice. What more could anyone want? This is music that will still be enjoyable 20-30 years from now."

-Strange that the reviewer felt the need to date the timeline. Are they suggesting that it won't be enjoyable in 31 years?

So to be Frank are you a lover of the Swing or would you rather this sort of thing only happened in Monterey? Let me know below

Saturday, May 21, 2011

307 Avalon. Roxy Music- Thankfully not quite as pretentious as the cover art.



Album: Avalon
Artist: Roxy Music
Year: 1982
Genre: Art- rock

Tracks

  1. More Than This
  2. The Space Between
  3. Avalon
  4. India
  5. While My Heart Is Still Beating
  6. The Main Thing
  7. Take a Chance with Me
  8. To Turn You On
  9. True to Life
  10. Tara

I've been reading lots of reviews for this album and there are a few words that keep appearing in almost all of them. One is “polished” and the other is “production.” Frequently these words appear in the same sentence. Pretty much everyone can agree that this is a well produced album.  An album so well produced it’s basically polished. It’s polished to a glaring sheen of reflection and buffed to the point where it’s flawless with absolutely everything in it’s right place. It’s the perfect marriage of synthesizers, low-key saxophones, carefully arranged backing vocals and effects. And it’s almost impossible to put into words how dull it is. I know it’s impossible to be literally polished and literally dull at the same time but Avalon manages to pull it off.

There’s a track on the second side of Avalon called Take a Chance on Me which immediately jumps out and grabs any lover of irony by the throat. At no point did anyone take a chance during the recording of Avalon. Nobody just grabbed their instrument and let inspiration move them, every note seems organized and planned in advance with no chance for anyone to do anything that might disturb the polish. Anyone in danger of feeling passionate about something was told to go and have a lie down while the producer sorted out the best synthesizer effect for the next overdub.

Probably the best thing about Roxy Music is Brian Ferry’s voice which sadly takes a bit of a back seat here. He can make a really beautiful sound that Brian but he’s not really given the chance to outshine the bright sheen of polish. If your the sort of person who talks about production and how much you enjoy it then Avalon is probably the perfect record for you. If you’re the sort of person who has ever used the word “raw” to describe your favourite music you should probably give this a wide berth.

Influenced by: Arthurian legend.
Influenced: Future art rockers.

Highlight: Take a chance on me.
Lowlight: The title track.

Favourite Amazon Customer Review: "I see that everyone is going ga ga over this album like it is great. It is not great. Are you kidding?
The first song, "More Than This", is such an obvios redux of The Spinettes "3, 4 and More". Whilst "The Main Thing" is obviously (I think I misspelled "obvious" in the first sentence. Oops!) a ripoff of "The Main Thing" by Robbie Terrel, same lyrics too.

And, call me "Wacky", but "Avalon" and "India" seem a little too reminiscent of "Avalon" and "My India" by Fantastic (when real diva Simina sang for them).

I'm pretty sure of this stuff anyway. I know I've al least heard these songs before somewhere.

What is this? These guys get the glory from doing some uncredited remakes (I think)? Huh? That's horrible.

-This guy does this a lot. He loves inventing bands and artists that don't exist and then claiming people ripped them off. It sends die-hard fans wild with rage. I assume he gets some kind of kick out of it.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

308. The Sun Records Collection- The building where it all began.



Album: The Sun Records Collection
Artist: Various
Genre: Various
Year: Released in 1994 but recorded over two decades

Tracks


  1. Gotta Let You Go - Joe Hill Louis
  2. Rocket 88 - Jackie Brenston
  3. B.B. Blues - B. B. King
  4. Swamp Root - Harmonica Frank
  5. Moanin' at Midnight - Howlin' Wolf
  6. How Many More Years - Howlin' Wolf
  7. There's a Man in Jerusalem - Southern Jubilee Singers
  8. Rats in My Kitchen - Sleepy John Estes
  9. She May Be Yours (But She Comes to See Me Sometimes) - Joe Hill Louis
  10. Baker Shop Boogie - Willie Nix
  11. Easy - Big Walter Horton
  12. Bear Cat - Rufus Thomas
  13. Take a Little Chance - Jimmy DeBerry
  14. Just Walkin' in the Rain - The Prisonaires
  15. Make Room in the Lifeboat for Me - Howard Seratt
  16. Feelin' Good - Little Junior's Blue Flames
  17. Tiger Man (King of the Jungle) - Rufus Thomas
  18. Mystery Train - Little Junior's Blue Flames
  19. Come Back Baby - Doctor Ross
  20. Gospel Train - The Jones Brothers
  21. My Kind of Carryin' On - Doug Poindexter
  22. I'm Gonna Murder My Baby - Pat Hare
  23. Cotton Crop Blues - James Cotton
  24. That's All Right - Elvis Presley, Scotty and Bill
  25. Good Rockin' Tonight - Elvis Presley, Scotty and Bill
  26. Drinkin' Wine, Spo-Dee-O-Dee - Malcolm Yelvington
  27. Turn Around - Carl Perkins
  28. Baby Let's Play House - Elvis Presley, Scotty and Bill
  29. Someday You Will Pay - The Miller Sisters
  30. Red Hot - Billy "The Kid" Emerson
  31. Lookin' for My Baby - Little Milton
  32. Cry! Cry! Cry! - Johnny Cash
  33. Sitting by My Window - The Five Tinos
  34. Mystery Train - Elvis Presley, Scotty and Bill
  35. Let the Jukebox Keep on Playing - Carl Perkins
  36. Defrost Your Heart - Charlie Feathers
  37. Folsom Prison Blues - Johnny Cash
  38. Blue Suede Shoes - Carl Perkins
  39. Honey Don't - Carl Perkins
  40. Let's Get High - Rosco Gordon
  41. Everybody's Trying to Be My Baby - Carl Perkins
  42. Rock &Roll Ruby - Warren Smith
  43. I Walk the Line - Johnny Cash
  44. Get Rhythm - Johnny Cash
  45. Ooby Dooby - Roy Orbison
  46. Red Headed Woman - Sonny Burgess
  47. Dixie Fried - Carl Perkins
  48. Ubangi Stomp - Warren Smith
  49. Crazy Arms - Jerry Lee Lewis
  50. End of the Road - Jerry Lee Lewis
  51. Flyin' Saucers Rock & Roll - Billy Lee Riley
  52. Matchbox - Carl Perkins
  53. Down by the Riverside - Million Dollar Quartet
  54. Devil Doll - Roy Orbison
  55. Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On - Jerry Lee Lewis
  56. So Long, I'm Gone - Warren Smith
  57. Red Hot - Billy Lee Riley
  58. Red Cadillac and a Black Moustache - Warren Smith
  59. Raunchy - Bill Justis
  60. You Win Again - Jerry Lee Lewis
  61. Great Balls of Fire - Jerry Lee Lewis
  62. Claudette - Roy Orbison
  63. Breathless - Jerry Lee Lewis
  64. Guess Things Happen That Way - Johnny Cash
  65. High School Confidential - Jerry Lee Lewis
  66. Right Behind You Baby - Ray Smith
  67. Jump Right Out of This Jukebox - Onie Wheeler
  68. Lovin' Up a Storm - Jerry Lee Lewis
  69. Mona Lisa - Carl Mann
  70. Lonely Weekends - Charlie Rich
  71. Who Will the Next Fool Be? - Charlie Rich
  72. Jack's Jump - Frank Frost
  73. Don't Put No Headstone on My Grave - Charlie Rich
  74. Cadillac Man - The Jesters



You could easily argue that there is no more important building in the history of Rock and Roll that Sun Studios in Memphis Tennessee. Within those hallowed walls the pioneers of country, blues, rock and rockabilly were recorded by Sam Phillips and released on the unsuspecting world. British bands from the sixties like the Beatles, The Stones, Cream and the Kinks may have had the hits and the money but the music that came out of Sun studios was where they got their inspiration. The Sun Records Collection is a three CD set that contains the highlights of the singles recorded and released by the label in the 1950’s. The album’s 74 tracks sprawl across genres and scatter artists throughout but here’s an overview of some of the names...

The Blues.

BB King and Howlin Wolf are represented but not by their biggest hits. King only stopped by Sun briefly on his way to other places and Wolf signed with Chess records, the only other label that could rival sun for pioneering significance. But there are some great blues tracks here from more obscure names like Rufus Thomas and Jimmy Deberry.

Soul

There’s not a huge amount of Soul on the Sun Records but there is one notable track called Just Walkin in the Rain by The Prisonaires which is a sweet and soulful tale of romance. Some of the gloss is taken off by the knowledge that The Prisonaires were all inmates in prison when the song was recorded. The lead singer was serving time for six counts of rape. I would not go walking in the rain or even a more temperate climate with that guy. There’s also some traditional gospel although to the best of my knowledge none of it recorded by convicted sex offenders.

Rock.

If Sam Phillips did nothing else in his life he deserves his place in the Rock and Roll hall of fame just for saying the words: “That Presley guy is worth recording”. Not only did he sign up Elvis he’s the guy who was clever enough to pair him with guitarist Scotty Moore who was the Royal Vizier to Presley’s King. The Sun Records collection might not feature Heartbreak Hotel or any of the huge sellers he late recorded but it does have That’s allright Mama, the first single he ever recorded and the one that made a lot of people sit up and take notice. There are some other Elvis hits here along with Carl Perkins' original recording of Blue Suede Shoes, some Roy Orbison and the greatest moments from Jerry Lee Lewis. There is also Rocket 88 which a lot of people contest is the rightful claimant to the title of First Ever Rock and Roll song (one of the other main contenders is That’s alright Mama so you’re fairly safe saying the first every rock song is on this release somewhere.  There are also a selection of tracks by the Million Dollar Quartet Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and Johnny Cash.

Country.

Johnny Cash. The Man in black. And not some obscure hits either. Folsom Prison Blues, Get Rhythm and I walk the line. Worth the price of admission alone. There are lesser known country artists here like Charlie Feathers for example. Listen to Defrost your Heart and you’ll appreciate why he’s lesser known.

And the rest

There’s a lot of R&B here and songs that fall in that grey area between blues and rock. There’s the Miller sisters, who Phillips was convinced would be the next big thing until Elvis killed off girl groups. There’s some amazingly twangy rockabilly like Onie Wheeler’s Jump right out of this jukebox. And then there’s Harmonica Frank Floyd who’s comedy stylings (which included blowing repeated raspberrys and weird falsetto inflections) will irritate you in ways nobody has ever managed before or since. I did a bit of research on Harmonica Frank Floyd and discovered a track called Shampoo which is one of the most amazingly offensive tracks I’ve ever heard. He used to play it regularly in his live shows where the F-word strewn bawdy tale of injury-inducing underage sex was apparently a big hit. It’s not included on this collection probably because Phillips decided it wasn’t radio friendly. Wise choice.

The Sun Records Collection is a comprehensive but not over-indulgent catalogue of the songs that shaped modern music today. It’s not an essential part of any record collection but it’s the first place you should go if you want to hear what started it all.

Highlight: The Rock tracks. Elvis's original output really was genuinely exciting.
Lowlight: The girl groups. Not the genre's finest records

Influenced by: A desire to make "Colored" music accesible to the record buying public.
Influenced: Everyone recording popular music now.

Favoruite Amazon Customer Review Qoute: "The reviewer below pretty much says it all. This is an essential set for anyone wanting to understand how rock & roll evolved from blues, C&W, and pop music."

-This is probably a good time to point out that Amazon reviews move about the page as they're positively or negatively responded to. What's below you now could well be above you tomorrow.

So do you enjoy basking in the sun or would you rather the sun set on this entire era? Let me know below

Saturday, May 14, 2011

309 Nothings Shocking- well something things are.



Album: Nothings Shocking
Artist: Janes Addiction
Year: 1988
Genre: Rock


  1. Up the Beach
  2. Ocean Size
  3. Had a Dad
  4. Ted, Just Admit It
  5. Standing in the Shower... Thinking
  6. Summertime Rolls
  7. Mountain Song
  8. Idiots Rule
  9. Jane Says
  10. Thank You Boys
  11. Pig's in Zen

We all have strange dreams from time to time. Many’s the morning I’ve woken up having spent my evenings being chased by all the ingredients for gazpacho soup or being forced to play the mandolin in a polka band booked to play a pirate’s wedding. The point is that when we wake up we shrug the images off and get on with our lives (or if you’re a really annoying person you insist on telling someone about them in incredible detail). But if you’re Perry Farrell you linger on your brain’s nocturnal musings for long enough to turn them into album covers. “I had a dream last night. There were these Siamese twins joined at the side. They were sitting on a big rocking chair thing. And they were nude, completely nude. And their head was on fire. It was a really weird dream and the perfect image for our next album. Someone start making the statues.”

Despite the album title I was actually shocked to find this album was released in 1988. Nothing's Shocking sounds like something that I'd place in the mid-nineties when alternative music was a massive genre and it was possible to claim you were influenced by both Led Zeppelin and the Velvet Underground without getting laughed at. After hearing this album I wondered if my preconceptions of music in 1988 were unjustly skewed. Maybe it was a lot more progressive than I thought. I quick check revealed the biggest selling singles of the day were Don't worry be happy, Groovy Kind of Love, Always on my Mind, Heaven is a Place on Earth and Orinoco Flow... so I was right the first time.

With it's simple approach to instrumentation (no electronica here) but complicated song-structure and arrangements, and its wild vocals and screeching guitar, Nothings Shocking sounds like it could have been recorded yesterday. When I was reading up on this album I discovered guitarist Dave Navarro plays in a cover band called Camp Freddy. I have to say it made me want to check them out, there's no doubt Navarro's guitar work is the strength behind this album and I'd love to see what he could with some classic songs.

Highlight: Dave Navarro's guitar solos.
Lowlight: The instrumentals.

Influenced by: Led Zep and The Velvet Underground
Influenced: Anyone taking on the title Alternative Rock


Favourite Amazon Customer review quote: I Remember Dave Navarro Is From The Red Hot Chili Peppers Album 'One Hot Minute' in 1995. I Knew That In 1987 Thre Was A Live Album Called 'Janes Addiction' Next Album In 1988 Was Called 'Nothing's Shocking' From The Hit Single "Jane Says" and "Ocean Size" The Album and The Video Was In 1989 'The Fan's Video - Soul Kiss [VIDEO]' and 'Ritual De Lo Habitual' Had A Hit From "Been Caught Stealing" "Ain't No Right" "No One's Leaving" and "Classic Girl" Is Originally In 1990. Since In The Biography They Were Disbanded In 1991. They Were Back Together Again In 1996 From "Kettle Whistle" In 1997 Is Released.

-not so much a review as a history lesson.

So is Nothing shocking or did this album surprise you? Let me know below.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

310. Blood Sugar Sex Magik- where we parted ways.



Album: Blood Sugar Sex Magik
Artist: The Red Hot Chilli Peppers
Year: 1991
Genre: Rock

Tracks

  1. The Power of Equality" – 4:03
  2. If You Have to Ask" – 3:37
  3. Breaking the Girl" – 4:55
  4. Funky Monks" – 5:23
  5. Suck My Kiss" – 3:37
  6. I Could Have Lied" – 4:04
  7. Mellowship Slinky in B Major" – 4:00
  8. The Righteous & the Wicked" – 4:08
  9. Give It Away" – 4:43
  10. Blood Sugar Sex Magik" – 4:31
  11. Under the Bridge" – 4:24
  12. Naked in the Rain" – 4:26
  13. Apache Rose Peacock" – 4:42
  14. The Greeting Song" – 3:13
  15. My Lovely Man" – 4:39
  16. Sir Psycho Sexy" – 8:17
  17. They're Red Hot" (Robert Johnson) – 1:12

Prior to the release of this album I was a big fan of the Chilli Peppers. I loved Mother’s Milk and was eager to hear this release when it came out. I bought it on cassette. Remember cassettes? I had this album on that sad old outdated format. When I first heard this album I had to get up halfway through in order to turn it over to play the other side.

With the expcetion of the tape-flip thing my reactions to Blood Sugar Sex Magic are the same today as they were then. There are a few great songs, a lot of filler and one song that made me angry.

The great songs were turned into singles. Suck my Kiss and Give it Away are good funky and rock and roll. People who call the Red Hot Chilli Peppers funk have clearly never heard anything George Clinton has recorded but their definitely influenced by Parliament and give their albums a funkier edge. They're great songs and go off live like a frog in a sock (even though the Peppers are known for putting things in socks other than frogs, do a google image search if you don't know what I'm talking about).

The track that bugged me then was Under the Bridge. To me Under the Bridge was a sell-out by the Peppers who were making a blatant grab at the pop-charts. It was a dull ballad just like all the other dull ballads kicking around on radio. While I was annoyed, the public was impressed and it helped propel the band to further heights and continued chart hits. The band had found their blueprint for success and I lost interest as did guitarist John Frusciante who left in disappointment (only to come back later when money called).

Listening to it today I still enjoy it’s highpoints and Under the Bridge doesn’t annoy me like it did when I was an angry disillusioned 18 year old. But the one thing that has stayed consistent is the lyrical ability of Anthony Keidis who wrotes the worst lyrics of anyone alive. His clumsy attempts to marry sexual prowess with spirituality and depth have produced some of the most embarrassingly bad examples of lyrical pointlessless ever committed to CD (or cassette tape for that matter). If you like their later work then this is probably as far into their back catalogue as you'll enjoy straying. If you love their early stuff then this is the Rubicon which you wish they never crossed.

Highlight: Give it Away
Lowlight: Sir Psycho Sexy

Influenced by: George Clinton.
Influenced: Musically- not a lot, financially- later RHCP albums.

Favourite Amazon Customer Review Quote: "It will unequivocally surprise some people to hear me say this, but it's only rational to think, "This is explicitly or implicitly expressed or presupposed in most of the material I plan to present". Without going into all the gory details, let's just say that any rational argument must acknowledge this. Red Hot Chili Peppers's heinous slimy smears, naturally, do not. Try as I may, I can't understand why Red Hot Chili Peppers would want to instill distrust and thereby create a need for its devious views. I challenge Red Hot Chili Peppers to point out any text in this review that proposes that no one is smart enough to see through its transparent lies. It isn't there. There's neither a hint nor a suggestion of such a thing."

-And it goes on. And on and on.

So is this album sexy magik or did it make you bleed from the ears?

Saturday, May 7, 2011

311. Unplugged in New York -Two Giants collide.





Album: Unplugged in New York
Artist: Nirvana
Genre: Rock
Year: 1993

Tracks



  1. About a Girl
  2. Come as You Are
  3. Jesus Doesn't Want Me for a Sunbeam
  4. The Man Who Sold the World
  5. Pennyroyal Tea
  6. Dumb
  7. Polly
  8. On a Plain
  9. Something in the Way
  10. Plateau
  11. Oh Me
  12. Lake of Fire
  13. All Apologies
  14. Where Did You Sleep Last Night?



In 1993 Nirvana were one of the biggest bands on the planet, they were riding high on the success of hit singles and albums and had gone from playing tiny clubs where Kurt Cobain felt comfortable to huge arenas where he didn't.

In the same year MTV unplugged had also hit its peak. While it started with humble beginnings (the first show featured Squeeze, Syd Straw and Elliot Easton, it’s hard to get much more humble than that) by 1993 it had seen megastars like Paul McCartney and Eric Clapton not only perform but release albums of the recordings to massive sales and Grammy awards.

It was inevitable that the producers of Unplugged wanted the biggest band in the land on their show and equally inevitable that Cobain wouldn’t want to do it. Unplugged was a television show first and foremost with a decorated set and cameras. The live audience wasn’t the reason for the show they were a prop designed to provide extra atmosphere. A television studio run by producers was a long way from the vision Cobain wanted for his band. The fact that Nirvana ended up appearing without sacrificing any of their credibility and the resulting album would be a huge seller is a triumph of compromise.

The secret is in the setlist that Nirvana put together. The tradition in unplugged shows was for artists to do acoustic versions of their biggest hits while sneaking in a few tracks off their latest album. Cobain decided to perform Come As You Are and then provide the audience with a selection of obscure originals and even more obscure covers. Kurt even insisted on being joined by two members of The Meat Puppets, one of his favourite bands, for versions of three of their songs. He even closed the show with a traditional tune whose origins are so lost in the sands of time that nobody can even agree on what it’s called. The album calls it Where did you sleep last Night but folkies have been calling it In the Pines for years. Either way it was hardly the Smells Like Teen Spirit closer that everyone was expecting.

Not long after the recording Cobain was dead and the decision to release Unplugged was a no-brainer (just like Cobain’s corpse.... oooh I didn’t just type that). It sold by the bucketloads and proved to the radio buying public that Nirvana had talent. Stripped of the distortion and volume they could produce compelling music that was worthy of attention.

Highlight: All Apologies
Lowlight: Polly

Influenced by: The Pixies
Influenced: Anyone who calls themselves grunge

Favourite Amazon Customer Review Quote: "I only heard 1 song off the album, the song where Curt keeps screaming, "LOGGER TRUCK!!! LOGGER TRUCK!!" over & over, i dont get the lyrics
But what i do get is how in retrospect the isolation caused the mass evolution of intersection change in vertibre

"LOGGER TRUCK!! LOGGER TRUCK!!!"

get some better lyrics Cabin, someone needs to tell this Cabin fellow to get his head together"


-Another example of internet trolling but quite a good one. Calling Kurt Cobain "this Cabin fellow" is a genius touch.

So do you prefer Nirvana plugged, unplugged or not at all? Let me know below.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

312 The Misdirection of Lauren Hill- The pinnacle before her career misdirected.



Album: The Misdirection of Lauren Hill
Artist: Lauren Hill
Genre: Neo Soul
Year: 1998

Tracks



  1. Intro
  2. Lost Ones
  3. Ex-Factor
  4. To Zion
  5. Doo Wop (That Thing)
  6. Superstar
  7. Final Hour
  8. When It Hurts So Bad
  9. I Used to Love Him
  10. Forgive Them Father
  11. Every Ghetto, Every City
  12. Nothing Even Matters
  13. Everything Is Everything
  14. The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill




A quick glance to the right will tell you that the genre most represented in this list is definitely Rock. Guitar based albums make up the bulk of the list and as we progress closer and closer to number one they’ll dominate even further. When other genres make an appearance it’s safe to assume they’re pretty special releases. In order to penetrate though the rock bias they must be fairly outstanding examples of their kind.

One such album is the Misdirection of Lauryn Hill which is the undisputed high point of whatever the hell this is. Some call it Neo Soul which is a term that seems to take in elements of classic soul along with Rap, R&B and reggae. In other words it’s one of those releases that is basically whatever the hell it’s star felt like including. Which probably accounts for it’s success.

Lauryn Hill comes across as an artist. While a lot of her peers look like manipulated puppets with nice voices and a good face for a video clip, Hill gives you the impression that she’s the one in control and the one calling the shots. She does have a great voice and can write a song and produce it as well.

The Misdirection was a huge selling release that stormed the charts and poured money into the record label vaults. If she’d been able to follow it up with similar releases Hill would have become one of the great selling artists of the last two decades. But fame disagreed with her and she disagreed with her record company and she went from being "the next big thing" to being replaced by someone who was even nexter.

It might not be my cup of tea but if you've ever thought "I'm in a music mood but just can't decide between rap, pop, reggae, R&B or soul" then this album could be just what you're looking for.

Influenced by: A pick and mix of genres
Influenced: Neo Soul.

Highlight: Doo Wop that thing
Lowlight: Nothing Even Matters

Favourite Amazon Customer Review Quote: "I bought this cd after David Bowie called it 'album of the year' during the grammies a few years back. The title should be changed to 'Hi, I'm Lauryn Hill and I'm going to repeat my name over and over and over again'. Mr. Bowie owes me $15"

-I love the idea of Bowie turning up at someone's house with $15 they think he owes them. "I've only got a twenty. Have you got any Ch-ch-change?


So do you approve of Hill's misdirection or do you think this entire album is a wrong turn? Let me know below.