Tuesday, June 28, 2011

296. We're only in it for the Money- Rocks great genius



Album: We're only in it for the money
Artist: Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention
Year: 1968
Genre: Rock/Satire

Tracks

  1. Are You Hung Up?
  2. Who Needs the Peace Corps?
  3. Concentration Moon
  4. Mom and Dad
  5. Bow Tie Daddy
  6. Harry, You're a Beast
  7. What's the Ugliest Part of Your Body?
  8. Absolutely Free
  9. Flower Punk
  10. Hot Poop
  11. Nasal Retentive Calliope Music
  12. Let's Make the Water Turn Black
  13. The Idiot Bastard Son
  14. Lonely Little Girl
  15. Take Your Clothes Off When You Dance
  16. What's the Ugliest Part of Your Body? (Reprise)
  17. Mother People
  18. The Chrome Plated Megaphone of Destiny

There are few more overused words in the English language than "genius". In pre-internet days being a genius actually meant something. Nowadays a songwriter can earn the title just because they touched the life of a teenager who can comment on youtube. To my mind being a genius involves being a unique talent. A true genius isn't just outstanding in their field they're alone in their field. I wouldn't even call Bob Dylan a genius. He's an incredible singer-songwriter and the most significant and influential artist of the last 50 years, but he's in the same field as Neil Young and countless others.

But Frank Zappa is a bone fide, out and out, genius in the truest sense of the word. He was an outstanding guitarist (Number 45 in Rolling Stones Top 100 Guitarists of all time list), a gifted songwriter (he wrote nearly all the songs on his 89 albums) an amazing (if occasionally offensive) lyricist, a brilliant arranger of large ensembles, talented improviser, avante garde experimenter and a highly regarded classical composer. He was also an astute businessman, razor sharp satirist and keen social observer (no book of quotes is complete without some of his bon mots) . There was literally nobody else like him in the history of music.

But was he any good?

The answer to my mind is: Most of the time. Most of the time he was good, at times he was brilliant and there are albums of his that I never need to hear again. That's genius for you.

We're only in it for the Money is the third album released by The Mothers, a band he originally put together and wanted to call The MotherFuckers but had to change out of necissity so he renamed The Mothers of Invention. It's a great starting point for the Zappa novice looking for an entry point into his vast catalouge.

We're only in it for the Money has everything that makes Zappa great- catchy tunes, clever lyrics, biting satire (it's a blatant attack on the Summer of Love), strange sound effects, conceptual continuity (running jokes) and some fantastic musicianship.

Hunt out this album and give it a listen. If it does convert you to become a Zappa fan then there is a whole new and wonderful world out there for you to enjoy. The man is a genius.

Highlight: The whole thing from start to finish.
Lowlight: The fact that they weren't allowed to use the preferred front cover (above) and had to settle for a poor substitute.

Influenced by: Sgt Peppers and a disdain for hippies.
Influenced: Left-of-field rockers the world over.

Favourite Amazon Customer Review Quote: "This is unlistenable. I could only get half way through before giving up. Too clever for me."

-See I told you he was a genius. Even people who don't like his music think he's clever.

So are you only in it for the money or do you think Zappa is musically destitute? Let me know below.

Friday, June 24, 2011

297 Weezer. Nerds can rock too.





Album: Weezer
Artist: Weezer
Year: 1994
Genre: Rock

Tracks

  1. My Name Is Jonas
  2. No One Else
  3. The World Has Turned And Left Me Here
  4. Buddy Holly
  5. Undone - The Sweater Song
  6. Surf Wax America
  7. Say It Ain't So
  8. In The Garage
  9. Holiday
  10. Only In Dreams

Nerds, geeks, dweebs, boffins, egg-heads, squares, dorks and other socially challenged members of society have been pigeon-holed for years. Supposedly their world was text-books, libraries, laboratories and computer rooms. Nerds were not meant to rock. On the odd occasion when one of the terminally uncool tried to master popular music they had to be reinvented as a rebel of some kind. The openly geeky were not allowed in rock bands.

That’s all changed now in part thanks to the decidedly un-hip and geeky Weezer who decided in the early nineties that the only thing a nerd needed to form a band was three more like-minded nerds. And so Weezer was born and groups who looked like them (Ben Folds Five, the Barenaked Ladies etc) were allowed to voice the feelings of nerds (and the inner nerds) of music fans everywhere.

So what sort of music do nerds make when they put down their books and pick up guitars? The answer is rock that’s somehow... nerdy. Weezer play rock and roll but have thrown in some harmonies and further affectations that they had to study to perfect. Their vocal arrangements suggest some time spent pouring over musical notation and then dedicating time and effort to perfecting them. True rock and rollers would have just relied on shouting a bit but Weezer felt the need to intellectualize their rock and roll.

Lyrically Weezer are so proud of their geek status that they were happy to liken themselves to Buddy Holly- a prototype dweeb whose glasses provided an iconic symbol of nerd-dom everywhere.

Weezer sound like a band who are happy to own their nerd status but determined to rock out and challenge the notion of what a nerd actually wants to listen to while they study. If you like your rock intelligent but feel prog-rock is just so much wank then Weezer might just be the band for you.

Influenced by: Buddy Holly and Linux
Influenced: Rock songs written about coding

Highlight: Buddy Holly
Lowlight: Holiday

Favourite Amazon Customer Review Quote: "THIS BAND IS SOOOOO BORING. JUST LOOK AT THE COVER AND YOU WILL KNOW WHAT I MEAN"

-I'm reminded about an old saying related to covers and books. This reviewer should probably spend some time listening to the White album.

Weezer? Crowd pleaser or as entertaining as an asthma attack? Let me know below

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

298 Master of Reality- Not so Black Sabbath.





Album: Master of Reality
Artist: Black sabbath
Year: 1971
Genre: Heavy Metal

Tracks

  1. Sweet Leaf
  2. After Forever
  3. Embryo
  4. Children Of The Grave
  5. Orchid
  6. Lord Of This World
  7. Solitude
  8. Into The Void


Ah... Black Sabbath, that most satanic of Heavy Metal bands. The bad boys of hard rock whose onstage antics, black motifs and doom-laden lyrics have made them poster boys for devil worshippers who like to air-guitar. A dark and despicable band whose songs include unspeakable evil such as...

“Perhaps you'll think before you say that God is dead and gone
Open your eyes, just realize that he's the one
The only one who can save you now from all this sin and hate
Or will you jeer at all you hear? Yes! I think it's too late.”

Hang on. Hold just a minute. Are we sure that’s correct? Where’s the declaration of dedication to the dark lord? What the hell has got into Ozzy Osbourne?

The lyrics in question are from After Forever which is as Christian a song as you’re going to find anywhere in mainstream rock and roll. The members of Sabbath make it clear that “God is the only way to love.” Apparently the sentiment comes from band lyricist Geezer Butler, a practicing catholic, and it was sung by Ozzy Osbourne who was so stoned he didn’t know that he was actually singing, let alone what words he was using at the time.

Black Sabbath are one of a trio of bands (along with Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple) who are usually credited (or blamed) with the creation of Heavy Metal. All three groups were loud, heavy on the guitar and featured thumping drums and screaming vocals. But while the other two could best be described as flamboyant, Sabbath were the ones who created the established image: black clothes, lots of leather and religious iconography. It’s ironic Sabbath have the reputation for Satanism when they were 25% catholic and Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page was the only member of the three bands who was genuinely interested in the occult.

Personally I have a soft spot for Zeppelin who were my first real musical love. I went through a Deep Purple phase for a few years when I discovered they were more than just Smoke on the Water, but Sabbath’s appeal always eluded me. I think it’s the doom-laden dirge of their music. It feels like every tune makes a concerted effort to bump against your head repeatedly. The tempo seems permanently set at plod with the mood dial locked on doom. If there is a metal-heads progressive soundtrack to life then Deep Purple is what you listen to when you're an excitable teen, late Led Zeppelin is for your mystical early adulthood and early Zeppelin is for when your woman runs off with another man. Black Sabbath is for playing at your funeral.

Influenced by: The Beatles (apparently) drugs and catholocism.
Influenced: Everyone out there wearing black and playing earnest heavy metal.

Highlight: Sweet Leaf. It sounds like it should be light and breezy but it's actually a heavy slice of melancholy.
Lowlight: Solitude. If you're going to play music at a plod then don't bother trying to make it beautiful.

Favourite Amazon Customer Review Quote: "Pretty good"

-That's it, that's the entire review. You have to love people who can be so succinct.

So do you remember the Sabbath and keep it holy or are you a non-believer? Let me know below.

Friday, June 17, 2011

299. Coat of Many Colors. Must... not...make...obvious...Dolly...Parton....Jokes.





Album: Coat of Many Colors.
Artist: Dolly Parton
Year: 1970
Genre: Country

Tracks

  1. Coat of Many Colors
  2. Traveling Man
  3. My Blue Tears
  4. If I Lose My Mind
  5. The Mystery of the Mystery
  6. She Never Met a Man (She Didn't Like)
  7. Early Morning Breeze
  8. The Way I See You
  9. Here I Am
  10. A Better Place to Live


There’s no getting around this, Coat of Many Colors is a country album. Not a country/folk, or country/blues album, it’s country and it's western. It’s pedal steel guitars and mistreated women and God references and Southern accents and the sort of sentence structure that can only come from towns that think an alternative-energy vehicle is just a fancy name for a horse. There are musicians on this album with names like Jerry Shook, Buck Trent, Johnny Gimble, Buddy Spicher and even Hargus Pig Robbins. It’s a real country album and lets be honest that’s part of it’s charm.

Dolly Parton started releasing country albums in 1967 and even though she’s tried to expand her repertoire a bit lately (in 2002 she recorded a version of Stairway to Heaven) she’s still cranking out country tunes today. She’s the queen of country who writes her own songs and has stayed true to her own image for half a century. She’s a down-home girl who just happens to be a multi-millionaire who owns her own theme park.

That’s the problem with country music. The lyrics are firmly entrenched in hardship and poverty and the simple life but it’s a massive industry and anyone successful quickly moves from a farm into a mansion. The title track on Coat of Many Colors talks about Dolly’s impoverished roots and how her mother made her a coat made out of rags because it was all she could afford. While you’re listening to it why not do a google image search for Dolly Parton? You can enjoy her singing about her simple roots while scrolling through pictures of her wearing garish dresses, dripping with jewelry and trying to keep a heavily made up face upright under the weight of massive hair.

Parton’s latest single was a song called Better Get to Livin in which she sings about having a positive attitude. It includes lines like:

 “Your life's a wreck your house is a mess,
And your wardrobe is way outdated,
All your plans just keep on falling through,
Overweight and underpaid,
Under-appreciated,
Am no guru but I tell you this I know is true
You better get to livin”

That sort of advice might go down a lot better if it was delivered by someone who lived on the land somewhere. Dolly has spent more on plastic surgery than many of her fans can spend on clothing in their lifetime, she sold her own signature line of wigs, co-owns the production company that made Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Sabrina the Teenage Witch and has her own theme park. If Dolly was going to record a true country album about her troubles she’d include titles like “Business meetings are a drag.” “My surgeon lifted my face but you’ve lifted my spirits” and “This wig was made for wearing”. Having said that Dolly has never had anything handed to her. The reason she has so much money in the bank is because she has a great voice and started to write great country songs in 1967.

If you like country music then this album is one of the finest of the genre. If you don’t then this album is the best country album you won’t want to ever hear again.

Highlight: The title track
Lowlight: Here I am

Influenced by: Poverty and the West
Influenced: Every woman who ever recorded country music since.

Favourite Amazon Customer Review Quote: “It also contains other classics like "My Blue Tears" and "Travelin Man". The album shows her diversity as an artist. A must have!”

-Not to be too picky but can you really call an artist that records nothing but country albums diverse?

So Dolly Parton. Are you disappointed I didn't say she kept abreast of recent trends? Annoyed I never mentioned how she was a young singer with big things ahead of her? Or are you proud of me for not saying her attitude was country or bust? Feel free to insert your own Dolly Parton jokes below. You can even comment on the music if you like.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

300 Fear of a black planet. Hip Hop makes a statement.





Album: Fear of a Black Planet
Artist: Public Enemy
Year: 1990
Genre: Hip Hop

Tracks

  1. Contract On The World Love Jam
  2. Brothers Gonna Work It Out
  3. 911 Is A Joke
  4. Incident At 66.6 FM
  5. Welcome To The Terrordome
  6. Meet The G That Killed Me
  7. Pollywanacraka
  8. Anti-Nigger Machine
  9. Burn Hollywood Burn
  10. Power To The People
  11. Who Stole The Soul?
  12. Fear Of A Black Planet
  13. Revolutionary Generation
  14. Can't Do Nuttin' For Ya Man
  15. Reggie Jax
  16. Leave This Off Your Fuckin Charts
  17. B Side Wins Again
  18. War At 33⅓
  19. Final Count Of The Collision Between Us And The Damned
  20. Fight The Power

There is definitely a fantastic album in here somewhere, the problem is it’s only there in bits and there are people rapping over the top of it. Fear of a Black Planet uses samples for its instrumentation and the list of songs it steals beats and licks from is really impressive. Funk masters like James Brown, Sly and the Family Stone, The Meters, Parliament, The Temptations and Isaac Haynes along with some of Pop and Rock's biggest names (Michael Jackson and the Beatles) play on the album albeit unwittingly. I could put together a killer album made up of tracks this album stole from.

I have to point out here that you can’t actually recognize any of the songs in their original form. Public Enemy’s samples are so limited in their length but extensive in their selection that their choices become unrecognizeable and you can’t help but wonder why they didn’t actually get someone in to actually play the drums rather than just nick bits of drumming from all over the place. Session drummers are so prolific I could probably throw a copy of this CD from my window and hit five of them in the street, although only two of them would actually notice (first drummer joke of the blog, I promise it's my last).

Thankfully Public Enemy’s lyrics aren’t the over indulgent, self-aggrandizing that I’ve had to endure in the past. Chuck D, Flavor Flav, Professor Griff, Big Daddy Kane and Ice Cube (not their real names) are more concerned with African American culture and the United states as a whole than their own sexual conquests. The depth of their lyrics is a refreshing change and completely removes a hurdle that I always have to overcome when trying to appreciate hip hop.

No doubt earnest, elderly, white professors in places of learning all over the world have written long and little-read essays comparing these lyrics to Walt Whitman and they've probably got a point. But for the majority of Rap fans Fear of A Black Planet is proof that rap music can be important and should be taken seriously. I can't help but admire it but I'd rather listen to the songs sampled than the new tracks they've made up.

Influenced by: Old School Rap.
Influenced: Rap as we know it.

Highlight: Some of the instrumentals.
Lowlight: Reggie Jax

Favourite Amazon Customer Review Quote: "These criminals crank out musically bankrupt albums which they load with explitives to attempt to cover up their dearth of musical and lyrical talent. Hatred of whites, Jews, honest work, the law etc. are what make up the bulk of their trite lyrics. As recently as the 1940's there was genuine musical talent in the western world -- what have we come to?"

-As recently as the 1940's! I think this person is trying to claim the 1940's were recent and that there has been no musical talent in the western world since then. Big claim.

So do you fear a black planet or is it all white with you? Let me know below.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

301 John Wesley Harding- Another Dylan reinvention.



Album: John Wesley Harding.
Artist: Bob Dylan
Genre: Folk
Year: 1967

Tracks

  1. John Wesley Harding
  2. As I Went Out One Morning
  3. I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine
  4. All Along the Watchtower
  5. The Ballad of Frankie Lee and Judas Priest
  6. Drifter's Escape
  7. Dear Landlord
  8. I Am a Lonesome Hobo
  9. I Pity the Poor Immigrant
  10. The Wicked Messenger
  11. Down Along the Cove
  12. I'll Be Your Baby Tonight


It’s probably worth starting this review with a quick recap of what I call “Bob Wents”. When Bob started he was a basic folkie but then he went esoteric (A Hard Rains gonna fall) before he went petulant (My back pages) and then went electric (Bringing it all back home), went psychedelic (Blonde on Blonde) went underground (the motorcycle accident and subsequent hiding from the limelight), went country (Nashville Skyline) and then went a bit crap (Self Portrait). He managed all these wents before the 1960’s went sour and became the 1970’s, which meant he managed the sort of career evolution in seven years that most bands can’t do in a matter of decades.

John Wesley Harding is a strange album that fits into the panorama of reinventions after the motorcycle accident and before the full-on move to country music that Nashville Skyline represented.  It’s a strangely transitional album that sees him returning to simple arrangements and lyrics while predicting the fascination with Christianity that was yet to come. It’s two best known moments are the impenetrable and darkly apocalyptic All along the Watchtower and the simple and heartfelt I’ll be Your Baby tonight. It’s also the album in which he tempers the more challenging aspects of his voice but ramps up the more aggressive nature of his harmonica playing. Those who had been put off by Bob’s nasal tones in the past might welcome the simpler inflection he gives his vocals but baulk at the fact that he seems to have transferred his whiney timbre to the harmonica which tends to screech all over John Wesley Harding whenever Bob isn’t singing.

In the past I’ve always written off Harding as the start of his first major slump. After the high’s of Blonde on Blonde, Dylan plummeted to some of the worst albums he would ever inflict on us. I’ve overlooked JWH whenever I’ve felt the urge to listen to some Dylan (which is pretty much a daily occurrence) but being forced to really pay it some attention now I’m prepared to say I’m guilty of neglecting something worth my time. John Wesley Harding is a really strong set of songs by the greatest songwriter of the last 50 years. It’s worth approaching as an album in its own right. Don’t try and put it into any definite context or chronological timeline. Treat it as an album of songs that Dylan wrote for you to enjoy, and then enjoy the hell out of them. I know I did.

Highlight: Down along the cove.
Lowlight: The Ballad of Frankie Lee and Judas Priest does wear out it’s welcome after a while.

Influenced by: The bible, a motrobike accident and a desire to reinvent.
Influenced: All those people who had followed Dylan into electric psychedelia.

Favourite Amazon Customer review Quote: “dylan's all spooky here -- otherwordly, shadowy, and ultra-mysterious. he taps you on the shoulder and then disappears. at least you think it was him.... “

-Nice imagery. Nice review.

So where does this fit on the great Dylan continuum for you? Is it up there with Blonde on Blonde or down there with Self Portrait? Let me know below.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

302 The Marshal Mathers LP. Eminem lets you know what he’s thinking by saying rhyming things quickly.





Album: The Marshal Mathers LP
Artist: Eminem
Year: 2000
Genre: Rap


1. Public Service Announcement 2000
2. Kill You
3. Stan
4. Paul
5. Who Knew
6. Steve Berman
7. The Way I Am
8. The Real Slim Shady
9. Remember Me?
10. I'm Back
11. Marshall Mathers
12. Ken Kaniff
13. Drug Ballad
14. Amityville
15. Bitch Please II
16. Kim
17. Under the Influence
18. Criminal


I know I shouldn’t keep comparing people to Bob Dylan but it’s hard not to sometimes. The thing with Bob is that the guy is basically a bit of a mystery. He’s released 33 studio albums, a series of live releases and bootlegs and even an autobiography but we still don’t know what the man thinks. Does Dylan like junk food? How does he feel about the works of Alfred Hitchcock? Do the Simpsons make him laugh? Has he ever read Harry Potter? Does he like going to the zoo? Does he understand cricket? Has he got an iphone? After almost 50 years in the public eye we’re still not sure if Dylan is a practicing Jew, a bible believing Christian or a covert atheist. He’s a bit of a man of mystery.

The same can’t be said about Eminem. We know pretty much everything there is to know about the great white rapper because his albums are basically an obsessive recounting of everything he thinks about every topic under the sun. We know what he thinks about music critics (he doesn’t like them), his ex-wife (he doesn’t like her), his mother (he’s not really a fan), the music industry (which he doesn’t rate very highly), Boy Bands (he’d probably give them about a 2 out of 10), Insane Clown Posse (who he cares for less than boy bands), Homosexuals (Eminem says no), drugs (Eminem says yes) and American society in general (it’s fair to say he struggles to fit in). Basically Eminem likes drugs and isn’t much of a fan of anyone else.

I may be doing the guy an injustice but The Marshall Mathers LP presents an artist who is as self-obsessed as he is bitter. Which means if you struggle to get on his wavelength the album is kind of a hard thing to deal with. I share his view on Boy Bands and I’m no fan of the music industry but I’ve never met his wife or his mother, music critics don’t annoy me, I’ve never heard any Insane Clown Posse and I’m more anti homophobia than homosexuals. We’re not really on the same wavelength.

If you’re going to lay yourself bare in your lyrics then it doesn't hurt to come across as likeable in the process. It’s disturbing that a guy who is basically a hate-fueled, misogynist homophobe found so many people who felt he was giving voice to their own opinions.

Oh and if you’re interested he says things quickly with lots of rhymes.

Highlight: The Real Slim Shady
Lowlight: Skits. It's always the damn skits.

Influenced by: Dr Dre, drugs and dysfunction.
Influenced: Angry white boys.


Favourite Amazon Customer Review Quote: "What the Hell is this? A white guy that is rapping and wanting to be black, what a race traitor."

-Race traitor? Who uses the term "race traitor?" I can't help but picture this reviewer writing from beneath a big white hood.

So is eminem your spokesman or would you rather distance yourself from him entirely? Let me know below.

Friday, June 3, 2011

303. Grace. I heard there was a secret chord.





Album: Grace.
Artist: Jeff Buckley
Year: 1994
Genre: Pop

Tracks

  1. Mojo Pin
  2. Grace
  3. Last Goodbye
  4. Lilac Wine
  5. So Real
  6. Hallelujah
  7. Lover, You Should've Come over
  8. Corpus Christi Carol
  9. Eternal Life
  10. Dream Brother

Death is now, and will always be, a brilliant career move. Being dead lets your work live forever with the image you intended to give it, untarnished by what you yourself might have become. Jim Morrison will live eternally as a charismatic young man in leather pants. If he was alive today he would probably be an overweight judge on American Idol or possible a sad caricature of himself singing Riders on the Storm for the ten thousandth time in Vegas somewhere. But in death he lives forever.

Jeff Buckley’s untimely demise before he could even complete a follow up to his debut album allows him to live forever as the handsome but tragic figure on the album cover. A few years after Grace was released Buckley died in an accidental drowning while swimming in a river in Memphis. His family insist drugs and alcohol had nothing to do with his untimely and blameless death. They don’t often point out the fact that he went swimming while fully clothed and wearing cowboy boots, which does take the edge of the blameless bit somewhat.

Grace was the only album Buckley gave the world before he died and it serves as a testament to what a considerable talent we lost. Jeff’s voice in itself is an impressive instrument as you would no doubt know from his performance of Hallelujah which was once a Leonard Cohen song but quickly became forever associated with Buckley. His version has been used in countless film and television soundtracks and is often at the top of the list whenever anyone talk about the greatest cover versions of all time. Not many people realise that Buckley is really doing a cover of John Cale’s arrangement and choice of verses rather than Cohen’s original rendition. Cale and Cohen both deserve a slice of Buckley’s credit.

But if anyone has bought Grace expecting a lot of songs in the same vein as Hallelujah they would have been sadly disappointed. The rest of the album is more abrasive and caustic in tone and less accessible to mainstream audiences. While Hallelujah grabs you almost instantly and impresses immediately, the rest of the album takes longer to appreciate and enjoy. But Grace is worth the effort. Give it a try with an open mind, it's worth the effort.

Influenced by: Tim Buckley, Leonard Cohen and John Cale
Influenced: A "Swimming prohibited" sign at the edge of a river.

Highlight: Hallelujah
Lowlight: Eternal Life

Favourite Amazon Customer Review Quote: "I was drawn to this CD because of the repeated use of Hallelujah in various TV shows. I'm sorry to say that none of the other songs on the CD come even close to the appeal of that Leonard Cohen classic."

-this is a pretty common sentiment over on Amazon. There are a lot of disgruntled CD owners feeling cheated that they didn't get an album full of Halleluias.

So do you say Grace or not? Let me know below.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

304. Car Wheels on a Gravel Road- Play that country music white girl.





Album: Car Wheels on a Gravel Road
Artist: Lucinda Williams
Genre: Country
Year: 1998

Tracks

  1. Right in Time
  2. Car Wheels on a Gravel Road
  3. 2 Kool 2 Be 4-gotten
  4. Drunken Angel
  5. Concrete and Barbed Wire
  6. Lake Charles
  7. Can’t Let Go
  8. I Lost It
  9. Metal Firecracker
  10. Greenville
  11. Still I Long For Your Kiss
  12. Joy
  13. Jackson

There aren’t many women on the top 500 and there aren’t that many country albums either. A disproportionate amount of the country entries are by female artists which either says country is a more acceptable genre for women to be part of, or country is more accessible when sung by a woman... or possibly that I spend too much time obsessing over this list and should get out more. Either way 304 sees a woman singing country songs.

There are people out there who aren’t sure how to categorize this album but most people are prepared to call it country. I suspect a lot of this has to do with the fact that Williams sings with a definite Southern accent. If it has an accent that stepped out of somewhere just north of the Mexican border it’s country. A trained soprano could record an entire album of famous arias but if her voice had a definite twang it would be called country even if it was accompanied by a full orchestra.

Williams style of Country is blues-heavy and whine-light. She’s not the sort to lament the absence of her man over the slow howl of a pedal steel guitar. She’s more prone to sounding world weary while a great band cooks behind her. She’s still happy to rely on some country music staple cliches (name-dropping southern locations and talking about beer a lot) but she’s clearly her own woman when it comes to stamping out some kind of style.

I found myself enjoying this a lot more than I thought I would. It sounds okay on my home stereo but I imagine I’d love hearing it a bar somewhere in the South where it truly belongs.

Influenced by: Women of country with attitude
Influenced: Later women of country with attitude

Highlight: The title track
Lowlight: Still I long for your kiss


Favourite Amazon Customer Review Quote: “This recording was repetitive, flat, and monotonous. The bottem line, it just isn't country.”

-I love the fact that something being repetitive flat or monotonous means it couldn’t possibly be country.

So does Lucinda make you reassess everything you thought about Country or does she totally reaffirm it? Let me know below.