Friday, July 29, 2011

287 Anthem of the Sun. Archetypal Hippiedom



Album: Anthem of the Sun
Artist: The Grateful Dead
Year: 1968
Genre: Rock

Tracks

1. That's It For The Other One
1-I Cryptical Envelopement
1-II Quadlibet For Tenderfeet
1-III The Faster We Go The Rounder We Get
1-IV We Leave The Castle
2. New Potatoe Caboose
3. Born Cross-Eyed
4. Alligator
5. Caution (Do Not Stop On Tracks)


Lets make one thing clear at the outset- nobody likes the Grateful Dead. They’re not a band you like. You either rail against them as drug-addled, psychedelic noodlers who are only appreciated by the hopeless and brain-fried or you laud them as the greatest band on the planet whose tie-dyed greatness causes all others to pale in comparison. They tend to be a love or hate concept without any grey area to touch in between.

I should nail my own psychedelic colours to the mast and declare myself a massive deadhead. And when I say massive I mean genuinely colossal. I can go for weeks without listening to anyone but the Dead. I’ve got so much of their music I could start listening today and still have them playing a month from now without repeating a track (seriously, I’ve got  270 shows on my hard drive and that doesn’t include live albums or studio releases).  Don’t get me started on the Dead.

That being said I rarely listen to Anthem of the Sun. In fact I rarely listen to the Dead’s studio output at all. The Dead could make music that was complicated and wonderful but they did it best from a simple starting point. Onstage, with only their instruments in their hands and an audience urging them on, they could push each other to new heights and stand at the precipice of new musical vistas before jumping off and soaring away. The Grateful Dead saw music as an evolutionary process and never felt the need to be tied down by set-lists or conventional arrangements.

Anthem of the Sun is their second album and an attempt to take their experimental ethos into the studio with them. Unlike their first album (which sounds like rock played at a breakneck pace) this is an attempt to throw the conventions of the recording studio aside.  Tracks were taken from live shows and then overdubbed with extra vocals, keyboards, horns, exotic percussion and (sadly) kazoos.

The results aren’t terrible by any stretch of the imagination but they’re best compared to photographs of a sunset- you can see what they’re trying to capture but it's nothing like admiring the real thing. The album starts off with That’s it for the Other One, a classic Dead track that was one of their best launching points onstage. When they started playing The Other One there was no telling where they would end up. Back in 1968 this was the next best thing to hearing The Dead live but now in 2011 when I’ve got over a hundred superior live versions to choose from why would I choose to hear the watered down studio attempt?

Don’t get me wrong, Anthem is a great album and deserves to be here but every track here is available in far superior live version. The Grateful Dead were the best live band ever to grace a stage and we will hear from them again. I’ll try and control myself.

Influenced by: Nitrous Oxide and a large studio budget
Influenced: Record companies to tighten control over their artists in the studio

Highlight: Alligator
Lowlight: That's it for the Other One

Favourite Amazon Customer review quote: "I have heard virtually all of the Dead's recorded output and generally like them, but isn't this really an album which is more interesting to think about than it is fun to actually listen to? A grand experiment which mostly failed. Needed a rigorous editing job and someone to say "no" to the excesses which wreck it. The live versions of these songs on other Dead albums, recorded during the same time period, are far superior."

-Couldn't agree with you more.

So are you happy to bask in the Anthem of the Sun or would you rather stay indoors? Let me know below.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

288. Something Else by the Kinks. Ooh look they do albums too





Album: Something Else by the Kinks
Artist: The Kinks
Year: 1967
Genre: Pop


Tracks


1. David Watts
2. Death Of A Clown
3. Two Sisters
4. No Return
5. Harry Rag
6. Tin Soldier Man
7. Situation Vacant
8. Love Me Till The Sunshines
9. Lazy Old Men
10. Afternoon Tea
11. Funny Face
12. End Of The Season
13. Waterloo Sunset

The Kinks released albums. This really shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone, it's fairly standard rock band behaviour afterall. I knew the Kinks released albums I just couldn't name any of them. I can name 50% of the members and loads of their songs but when it came to actual albums I would have been stumped. To me they were a singles band with about a million greatest hits compilations. Something else by the Kinks was my first chance to hear one of their albums all the way through and enjoy 13 of their songs the way they were originally meant to be heard.

The Kinks are kind of... cute. I don't normally use that expression to describe rock bands. In fact I don't think I've ever called a band cute before, it's a first time for me. But it's definitely apt. It's like they sat down and said "Right, what's left for us? The Beatles are lovable, the Stones are dangerous, the Yardbirds are serious, the Bonzo Dog Band is avante garde what's left for us?" I like to think they rejected Ominous, Esoteric and Long-Winded before finally settling on cute as their market niche.

The Kinks write songs that want to be hugged using voices that want to be patted on the head and awwed at. They're definitely the jauntiest of the English rock bands and they're more interested in the eccentricities of English life than their own sexual prowess. They somehow managed to marry quaint with rock and roll which is a nifty trick and made them stand out in an overcrowded marketplace.

The obvious highlight is Waterloo Sunset, a song that perfectly captures the early thrills of a budding romance. Ray Davies sings like a guy who genuinely believes paradise can be found in a Waterloo sunset. It's sweet and adorable in a way that even your mother could love.

They definitely had other moods and could put the raunch into Rock and Roll as well as anyone but on Something Else they've gone for a light touch and a sweet tone that makes the whole affair a bit cute. If you've ever listened to sixties rock and thought "all very well but couldn't it be more cuddly?" then Something Else by the Kinks could well be just what you're looking for.

Influenced by: The Beatles and quaint Englishness
Influenced: Mod culture

Highlight: Waterloo Sunset
Lowlight: Afternoon Tea

Favourite Amazon Customer Review Quote: "I was expecting more, but found I was not that big of fan. Liked 2 songs. I will trade mine for a diet coke if anyone is interested?"

-Not sure if this deal is still available but if you're no longer thirsty and want a spare copy of this album it might be worth making the trade.

So would you iron out the Kinks or do you like your music kind of cute? Let me know below.

Friday, July 22, 2011

289 Call Me. Saving your Soul



Album: Call Me
Artist: Al Green
Year: 1973
Genre: Soul

Tracks

1. Call Me (Come Back Home)
2. Have You Been Making Out O.K.
3. Stand Up
4. I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry
5. Your Love Is Like The Morning Sun
6. Here I Am (Come And Take Me)
7. Funny How Time Slips Away
8. You Ought To Be With Me
9. Jesus Is Waiting



I don’t know what your views are on church and religion in general. You may be someone who goes to a place of worship every week or you mightn't have set foot in one since the last time you went to a funeral. Either way I’m sure we can all agree that christian worship could only be improved if the guy in charge was a soul-legend. Al Green might have made his name as a singer of soulful tunes but he now makes a living preaching the Gospel in a church . I can only imagine what a service would be like with Green in charge. You can bet there’s no long and boring notices about church fetes. Instead there’d be singing and dancing and ecstacy and the sort of fun that true Anglicans have no business having.


The good news is that in addition to preaching the Good news, Green is happy to go on the road and sing some soulful music as well. He’s still going strong after all these years and from all reports is capable of delivering the sort of show that could make nuns boogie. Personally I’m glad he still tours because Al definitely fires in a live setting. I've listened to Call Me several times and I have to say it leaves me fairly unnafected. It’s just too slick and produced and orchestrated and doesn’t move me. But the same tracks live are fantastic. On the road with a funky band instead of a string section these songs really come alive. It's the sort of music that needs the energy of an audience to bounce off and not the cold hard walls of a studio.


Influenced by: God
Influenced: Justin Timberlake apparently.


Highlight: Call me
Lowlight: You ought to be with me.


Favourite Amazon Customer Review Quote: "The package it came in was not a regular cd case. I like a case because it is more solid than a paper case. It doesnt have as many good songs on it as i thought it did"


-Is this person suggesting the two things are related? Are they trying to imply that a lot of the good songs fell off because the inferior paper casing was incapable of keeping them on?




-So would you call Al or would you hang up if he rang? Let me know below.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

290 77. Only dated by the title.



Album: 77
Artist: The Talking Heads
Year: 1977
Genre: Pop

Tracks


  1. Uh-Oh, Love Comes To Town
  2. New Feeling
  3. Tentative Decisions
  4. Happy Day
  5. Who Is It ?
  6. No Compassion
  7. The Book I Read
  8. Don't Worry About The Government
  9. First Week / Last Week...Carefree
  10. Psycho Killer
  11. Pulled Up


Struggling amateur bands everywhere should take comfort from the career of Talking Heads. Passionate musicians who practice for hours in a garage, even though they can’t find a drummer who turns up sober and on time, should take a lot of solace in their copy of 77. Guitarists who get more dissapointed lectures from their parents than actual gigs must hold 77 up as a talisman to provide inspiration after every record company rejection.

Today the world regards 77 as a classic of its kind (even if it can't decide what its kind actually is). The album is revered and adored and Psycho Killer gets so much radio play it’s almost impossible to say “Psycho Killer” to a certain generation without them saying “Qu'est-ce que c'est ?" in reply and then humming the bassline for the rest of the day. It’s a huge album in 2011 but back in 77... not so much.

When it was released 77 only just made the Billboard Top 100 chart. It would be nice to say it made it to number 77 but sadly it peaked twenty places lower at 97. The public weren’t interested. More amazing is the fact that Psycho Killer only managed to climb to 92 on the singles charts. Listening to it today I struggle  to understand how people could miss its appeal. Did people not like funky basslines in 1977? Was the song just too catchy? The whole thing a bit too groovy? What was the problem? In the interests of research I decided to find out what single was on top of the charts when Psycho Killer was languishing down at the bottom. The answer was How deep is your love by the Bee Gees which makes me deeply ashamed even though I was only four years old at the time and in another country and therefore not really responsible.

A fascinating question to ponder would be how the single (and the entire album) would have fared if the lyrics were sung in a style that was less... quirky. Byrne doesn’t sing like a psycho killer he sings like the guy the psycho thinks is too creepy to hang around with. If Talking Heads had called in Mick Jagger as guest vocalist would 77 have gone to number one or is Byrne such an integral part of it’s appeal it wouldn’t even have made 97? I’d be fascinated to know.

If you’re out there somewhere struggling to get your music career started then sleep with a copy of 77 beside your bed. It’s proof that it really is possible to be musically ahead of your time. (Although I should point out that it’s also possible the reason nobody likes your music is because you’re crap- just another possibility to keep in mind)

Influenced by: Their own musical ideas
Influenced: Funky pop.

Highlight: The hit single
Lowlight: Don't worry about the Government

Favourite Amazon Customer Review Quote: "Alien space punk pop poodle noodle peaches - bloop!"

-The final sentence in a strange review. Perhaps it spoke to you, or perhaps not.

So are you talking their language or is this all just over your head? Let me know below.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

291. The Basement Tapes- Eavesdropping on greatness.



Album: The Basement Tapes
Artist: Bob Dylan and the Band
Genre: Folk
Year: Released in 1975 but recorded in 1967

Tracks

  1. Odds and Ends
  2. Orange Juice Blues (Blues for Breakfast)
  3. Million Dollar Bash
  4. Yazoo Street Scandal
  5. Goin' to Acapulco
  6. Katie's Been Gone
  7. Lo and Behold
  8. Bessie Smith
  9. Clothes Line Saga
  10. Apple Suckling Tree
  11. Please Mrs. Henry
  12. Tears of Rage
  13. Too Much of Nothing
  14. Yea! Heavy and a Bottle of Bread
  15. Ain't No More Cane
  16. Crash on the Levee (Down in the Flood)
  17. Ruben Remus
  18. Tiny Montgomery
  19. You Ain't Goin' Nowhere
  20. Don't Ya Tell Henry
  21. Nothing Was Delivered
  22. Open the Door, Homer
  23. Long Distance Operator
  24. This Wheel's on Fire
In 1967 the music world was obsessed with making things huge. Sergeant Peppers was an idea bigger than  anyone had thought of before and every band was trying to record with as many musicians and instruments as their budget and studio floorspace would allow. Rock was no longer bass, drums and guitars it was orchestra's, choirs, sound effects, studio wizardry, wild animals, gardening implements, field recordings, bodily functions and instruments from the most exotic countries possible. Meanwhile in a basement in Woodstock, Bob Dylan sat around with a few friends and thought small.

For a few months in 1967 Dylan wasn't recording an album or preparing a concert tour, he was just bumming around with some other guys. He was writing songs with no real purpose and recording them with no intent to release an album. They were just fooling around in a basement because they all loved playing music. Bob and The Band recorded over 100 songs including modern covers, American standards and amazing new originals.

So once these "sessions" ended what did Bob do with the new songs he'd produced? The answer is: nothing. He let other artists record some of them but rather than put together a new album he just left them there in the basement and went on to other things. No other songwriter in the world would write songs as good as Quinn the Eskimo, Tears of Rage, You aint going nowhere and This Wheels on Fire and then not bother to release them.

But like all good recordings (and wrongly imprisoned movie heroes), the tracks eventually escaped. A selection of recordings were released by a bootleg company as The Great White Wonder, widely held up as the first ever bootleg recording (a music release by someone who has no right to own the music in the first place). Sales of The Great White Wonder were so impressive the record label finaly acquired Bob's permission to release the Basement tapes in 1975.

And so almost a decade after they were recorded the playful, intimate and stripped bare songs that Bob wrote and recorded with a few friends were finally released to the world... with some mysterious omissions... and equally mysterious additions.

For some reason a few of the best songs weren't released on The Basement Tapes (Quinn and I shall Be Released) and for another reason some tracks that The Band recorded without Dylan were included instead. All the songs were cleaned up and some overdubs were added. The end result is best described as unsatisfying. While there are some fantastic moments (Million Dollar Bash, Lo and Behold) there is too much missing.

Thankfully bootleggers (and now the internet) have stepped up to fill in the gaps. A 4 CD compilation called A Tree With Roots exits which compiles all the known recordings from the Basement tapes in their original form with no overdubs. A Tree with Roots may be too complete for the casual listener (who probably doesn't need multiple takes and incomplete exerpts that clock in at well under a minute) but it does have all the great moments and make you appreciate Dylan's talents even more.

If you can't find A Tree With Roots then The Basement tapes is definitely worth having. It's the sound of  Modern Music's greatest songwriter and some talented friends making music for the sheer joy of it.

Highlight: Million Dollar Bash
Lowlight: Long Distance Operator

Influenced by: A nice basement and American songwriting
Influenced: Lots of low key recordings ever since.

Favourite Amazon Customer review Quote: "If you don't have it, buy it."

-That's the whole review. Amazingly succinct.

So does this record have pride of place in your Pool Room or have you confined it to the basement? Let me know below.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

292 White Light/White Heat. Oddly Compelling and compellingly odd.




Album: White Light/White Heat
Artist: The Velvet Underground
Genre: Rock
Year: 1968

Tracks

  1. White Light/White Heat
  2. The Gift
  3. Lady Godiva's Operation
  4. Here She Comes Now
  5. I Heard Her Call My Name
  6. Sister Ray

White Light White Heat is the last release by what many consider the classic line up of The Velvet Underground. And when I say "last" I also mean "second" and when I say classic I mean "without Nico" who was considered an important part of the first release. It's also the strangest and least accessible of the Velvets albums which means for many it's the only one that matters and for others it's best avoided.

Track two on White Light/White Heat goes for 8 minutes and is actually a spoken short story that burbles out of one speaker while a rock instrumental grooves out of the other. The two parts don't actually compliment each other, the story and the music don't interact in any way, It's just a guy reading a story that happens to last as long as an instrumental that plays at the same time. The story, by the way, is about a man who mails himself to his girlfriend in a large box only to be accidentally stabbed to death when she tries to open it with a knife.

You may be surprised to learn that this track is actually the second most conventional song on the entire album. The opening track ends with screeching feedback, the guitar in I heard her call my name is so distorted it could give a headache to a decapitation victim and Lady Godiva's Operation is about a transvestite getting a lobotomy and features vocals that aren't so much shared as stolen by Lou Reed halfway through the song.

The crowning moment of strangeness comes at the end when the band perform Sister Ray, a 17:31 song that the band play from start to finish in one take with no overdubs. It's loud, shambolic, lyrically dark and involves drug use, oral sex, death and other things besides. Two guitars, one organ, drums. 17 minutes. Lots of improvisation and an emphasis on noise. Constant references to "sucking on my ding dong". Who said the Velvet Underground weren't radio friendly?

When it was first released White light/White Heat sold hardly any copies and was largely ignored by the record buying public. In the years since it's been hailed as a masterpiece. There's much here that I can take or leave but I'll go on record as saying that Sister Ray is flat-out fantastic. All 17 and a half gloriously chaotic minutes.

Highlight: Sister Ray
Lowlight: The Gift

Influenced by: Heroin, the art scene and an absence of German ingĂ©nues.
Influenced: Nobody then, lots of people now.

Favourite Amazon Customer review Quote: "The rest of the album's good, but Sister Ray is REALLY where it's at. Can you name another Velvet Underground song that was name-checked in a Final Fantasy game? I don't think so."

-Since when is being name-checked in a Final Fantasy game an indication of anything? Odd.

So do you love White Light and White Heat or does it make you incandescent with rage? Let me know below.

Monday, July 11, 2011

376 What's the Story Morning Glory - A 500 horizons bonus which somehow got left off back when it should have been posted.



Album: What's the Story Morning Glory
Artist: Oasis
Year: 1995
Genre: Rock

Tracks

1. Hello
2. Roll with It
3. Wonderwall
4. Don't Look Back in Anger
5. Hey Now!
6. Untitled (aka "The Swamp Song - Excerpt 1)
7. Some Might Say
8. Cast No Shadow
9. She's Electric
10. Morning Glory
11. Untitled (aka "The Swamp Song - Excerpt 2)
12. Champagne Supernova


There was a period of time in my early adulthood when this album was everywhere. It felt like someone had passed a law requiring everyone under the age of fifty to own this album and play it constantly.  It appealed to fans of hip new music (even though they said it wasn't as good as their first album which they bought back when nobody had heard of them) and fans of more classic rock (even though they said it was clearly a Beatles rip-off and not as good as the music it was copying). These were the days before ipods when the accessory of choice was a portable CD player (remember them?) and a case full of the 24 CD's you couldn't travel without. If you skipped through a friend's traveling CD's you would inevitably find a copy of Whats the Story on about page 3, sometimes it was even a legal copy and not a burnt one.

I came fairly late to the Oasis party (my copy was bought second-hand) but my interest in them followed the same trajectory that the rest of the world seemed to: At first I thought they were fantastic, then I realized they were massive prats before discovering they couldn't replicate the success of Whats the story and finally letting my copy of their best album collect dust while joining others in collectively slanging them off. The problem was that Oasis were, and still are, fairly reprehensible human beings. The success of What's the Story seemed to persuade them that they were godlike creatures entitled to share their opinions with lesser mortals and physically assault anyone who disagreed with them. Every week they seemed to make the headlines by getting into physical fights or verbal slanging matches with their contemporaries. Their motto seemed to be "If you can reach it, hit it and if you can't, find a reporter and call it crap." John Lennon said the Beatles were bigger than Jesus but he never believed he was personally the son of God. You got the impression the Gallagher brothers felt they were descended from the almighty and that Dad wasn't nearly as important as they were.

When I listened to What's the Story Morning Glory recently it was the first time I'd revisited the album in years, possibly even a decade. I haven't given Oasis a thought in ages and it means I can review their finest moment and take it as an album of tracks rather than the output of Rock's most arrogant prats. So does it hold up after all these years or has it dated badly? The answer, I'm pleased to say, is definitely positive. It's a great album and listening to it was like re-encountering an old friend. Morning Glory is just a lot of fun. It's infectious and enjoyable and its everything good pop/rock should be. Yes it's derivative but it's making no effort to hide the fact. Oasis may have loved the Beatles but they bring a lot that's new to the table. They're not The Rutles and listening to them doesn't make you want to turn it off and put on Revolver instead.

For a time in the nineties it felt like Wondwall was everywhere, today it's still equally ubiquitous only now in cover form. It seems like everyone loves to do novelty covers of Wonderwall which means you hear the track everywhere but rarely by the original artists. Revisiting Whats The Story made me remember how good a song it is. Damn it's catchy- the chorus is catchy, the verse is catchy, the bridge is catchy and even the piano riff during the coda sticks in your head. It's a great piece of songwriting and much as it annoys me to give them any credit I have to take my hat off to the brother's Gallagher. While people raved about the other singles my second favourite track is She's Electric, a throwaway piece of disposable pop that any other band at the time would have considered a single but Oasis confined to an album track.

So if you're someone who curls their upper lip when someone mentions the word Oasis maybe it's time to dig out your copy of What's the Story Morning Glory from where it's been gathering dust on your shelf and give it a listen. It won't stop the Gallaghers from being dicks but it didn't stop being a great album just because they launched a career as full time dickheads.

Influenced by: The Beatles
Influenced: Gallagher ego trips

Highlight: Wonderwall
Lowlight: The two swamp songs

Favourite Amazon Customer Review Quote: "What a load of unimaginative pap. Nothing new here boring rythmns and predictable choruses and bad harmonies - file this one under easy listening 'cos these Manchester boys are straight out of 'unimagination corner'. If it's an oasis you're after you have two options...either buy an 'oasis' bottled refreshing still fruit drink or visit your nearest sahara."

-I think this might have been written by a marketing executive for oasis fruit drink. The cunning buggers have started to product place in Amazon reviews!

So is What's the Story Morning Glory an oasis in the desert of modern music or a mirage that dries up when you get close and turns out to just be a sandy hazy spot with only some small rocks and a few scrubby cactus things and maybe a forlorn looking scorpion with no musical talent at all? And have I stretched this analogy too far? Let me know below.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

293. Simon and Garfunkles Greatest Hits


Album: Greatest Hits
Artist: Simon and Garfunkle
Genre: Folky pop
Year: 1972

Tracks

  1. Mrs. Robinson
  2. For Emily, Whenever I May Find Her (live)
  3. The Boxer
  4. The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy) (live)
  5. The Sounds of Silence
  6. I Am a Rock
  7. Scarborough Fair/Canticle
  8. Homeward Bound (live)
  9. Bridge over Troubled Water
  10. America
  11. Kathy's Song
  12. El Condor Pasa (If I Could)
  13. Bookends
  14. Cecilia

I'm sorry but this is really kind of silly. Don't get me wrong I've got nothing against Simon and Garfunkle, far from it, but I don't understand why this album is here. This is a one record compilation of S and G's greatest hits that compiles 14 songs from their short career into two sides of vinyl. It's no exaggeration to say that every song on this release is an absolute stone-belter and a brilliant piece of perfect pop songwriting and production. Bridge over Troubled Water is one of the greatest vocal performances in all of pop and anyone who doesn't like most of the other tracks on this release is a strange barrel of pickles indeed. But why is it here?

Many of these tracks appear on the full albums by S and G that appear later on in the countdown. In fact there are only three songs that make this release that don't come from Bookends, Bridge over Troubled Water or Parsly Sage Rosemarey and Thyme, all of which are coming in the top 500 list. For some reason Simon and Garfunkle can have legitimate releases included in the countdown and also clog up another place with a greatest hits compilation.

I wouldn't mind so much except this doesn't even include Hazy Shade of Winter. Which means it's a greatest hits compilation that doesn't even include one of their all time greatest hits. Silliness.

Simon and Garfunkle only released 5 albums in their short career and all except the first one are worth having and listening to in their entirety. As a compilation this has been superseded by subsequent releases which are far more comprehensive. It's appearance on the list is just massive failure in every sense of the word.

Influenced by: Bob Dylan.
Influenced: Bob Dylan (apparently, and not many contemporary artists did)

Highlight: The Whole thing.
Lowlight: The fact that it's here on the countdown

Favourite Customer Review Quote: "I once had a friend (he quickly turned into an @$$hole but that's off-topic) who thought I was insane because I like Simon & Garfunkel. His logic was along the lines of "If it's not crushingly loud, it sucks". As I walked away, I told him he should expand his musical horizons. He gave me the finger and called me some things that should never be mentioned on a family website."

-Amazon. A great place to work through your personal issues.

So what album would you have included instead of this one? What work of greatness was left off so Simon and Garfunkle could have tracks on the countdown twice? Let me know below.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

294 Kick out the Jams. Shouty rock before its time




Album: Kick out the Jams
Artist: MC5
Genre: Rock
Year: 1969


Tracks



  1. Ramblin' Rose
  2. Kick Out the Jams
  3. Come Together
  4. Rocket Reducer No. 62 (Rama Lama Fa Fa Fa)
  5. Borderline
  6. Motor City Is Burning
  7. I Want You Right Now
  8. Starship

This album contains the line "Kick out the Jams Motherfuckers". We probably all need to get over that. People needed to get over it back in 1969 when it was released but they certainly need to get over it now. It's a rude word and it was said back before everyone said rude words on their albums. We can move on because Kick out the Jams is more than just a naughty collection of letters.

Kick out the Jams' real claim to innovation is the fact that it's a live debut. Live albums weren't uncommon back in the sixties but only as a quick attempt to cash on a success or in order to capture a unique performance. Kick Out The Jams release meant the record buying public's first exposure to MC5 was in a live format. It's a brave move on the part of the record company and one that paid off. MC5 are clearly dynamite onstage- they're sound tight but not drilled, like a band that has perfected their sound through constant playing in front of an audience rather than rehearsing in an empty room. The energy level is high and the sound is wild but never collapses in on itself and becomes a total shambles.

Kick out The Jams isn't punk, it's rock played by a band with a punk attitude almost a decade before people knew what punk was. It's improvisational but leaves no room for aimless noodling. It's rock and roll and it deserves a wider listening audience. If you thought 1969 was all about the hippies then give this a spin on your turntable and revise your opinions. 


Highlight: Kick out the Jams
Lowlight: Starship


Influenced by: Politics and Sun ra
Influenced: Rage Against the Machine


Favourite Amazon Customer Review Quote: "get stoned turn off the lights put it on loud real loud
this album will take you places youve never been before \forget nugent forget the who all other live albums pale in comparison to this unbelievable montrousstinickillii its exxxxxtasssssy kfhihgrsihguhfvesuhyfdhcjhdf"
-You have to admire someone who takes their own advice while writing a review. This person was clearly typing in the dark while stoned.

So would you kick out the jams or would you rather offer the jams a nice meal and put them up for the night? Let me know below.

Friday, July 1, 2011

295. Meat is Murder. Militant Vegetarianism.



Album: Meat is Murder
Artist: The Smiths
Genre: Pop
Year: 1985

Tracks

1. The Headmaster Ritual
2. Rusholme Ruffians
3. I Want The One I Can't Have
4. What She Said
5. That Joke Isn't Funny Anymore
6. Nowhere Fast
7. Well I Wonder
8. Barbarism Begins At Home
9. Meat Is Murder


Sometimes I don’t like an album and I can’t put my finger on why. There have been releases I’ve heard that have had all the ingredients I like in music but for some reason don’t move me at all. There’s no reason why I don’t like Big Star but I just can’t see what the attraction is.

Thankfully I don’t have to worry about putting my finger on what I don’t like about The Smiths: his name is Morrissey. If the Smiths had another lead singer I'd probably quite like them. But sadly they stuck with Morrissey and as a result they annoy me intently.

While he’s a prat all throughout this album’s running length there is no better example of how annoying he can be than on Barbarism Begins at Home which will be Exhibit A if I ever get the chance to prosecute Morrissey in court. Barbarism starts of promisingly with a good steady rock beat, some funky bass and some ringing guitar churning out a catchy riff. It promises good things to come and sunny days ahead. But then Morrissey appears like a storm-cloud on the horizon. At around the 45 second mark he starts singing and initially lulls you into something approaching a false sense of security with some fairly conventional singing. When the chorus comes around he makes up for lost time with some intensely annoying vocals. “A crack on the head is what you get for not asking, and a crack on the head is what you get for asking” is sung with the word "asking" drifting off into an annoying Morrissey-float where he lets the notes wander off wherever they like. But then to make matters worse he tops things off with a series of annoying “Yip” noises which have no place in music of any kind. Morrissey is clearly a big fan of his ability to Yip and he lets loose with lots more throughout the rest of the song. At the three minute mark the band starts to jam and get a really good rhythm going. Tragically Morrissey is one of those singers who think his voice is an instrument and he proceeds to screw the whole thing up by scat singing over the top with a pointless ethereal wailing as if he’s the ghost of crap songs past, present and future. For a full two minutes he makes cloying “diddle de daw” noises proving he has an impressive vocal range with which to sound terrible in. Finally at around the five minute mark he either wanders off or else is beaten into silence by someone in the studio. The rest of the track features the band jamming without a single yip from their clown of a lead singer and is easily the highlight of the entire album which .

The Smiths ladies and gentlemen, lets never speak of them again.

Influenced by: Footage of abattoirs and a belief that your band only sounds good if you're singing over the top of them.
Influenced: Lots of British kids in the eighties who felt dissafected.

Highlight: The bits without Morrissey.
Lowlight: The bits with Morrissey.

Favourite Amazon Customer Review Quote: "Rain rolls off the backsides of passing thought - I thought you'd never come. 3:23 in the AM and I am smoking way too much these days. Tone and timbre seeped into my belly and those memories it kicked up have yet to lay back down and be good! Red wine in white ceramic mugs, smooth as ever, fingers wander fondle there! I thought you'd never get here."

-Righty Ho. Thanks for that.

So is this album as tasty as a porterhouse steak or murder to listen to? Let me know below.