Friday, March 30, 2012

221 War- Huh, what is it good for?

Album: War
Artist: U2
Year: 1983
Genre: Rock


  1. Sunday Bloody Sunday
  2. Seconds
  3. New Year's Day
  4. Like a Song...
  5. Drowning Man
  6. The Refugee
  7. Two Hearts Beat as One
  8. Red Light
  9. Surrender
  10. "40" 

Ireland's a funny place isn't it? It has a reputation as happy-go-lucky and cheery and full of pretty maidens and leprachauns and pubs that for some reason they've successfully exported all around the world. But underneath all the green and cheery smiling are two groups of people in the north who genuinely want to kill each other for no really compelling reason. U2 are from the south of Ireland but The Troubles didn't confine their impact to north of the border. The whole of the UK felt the impact and those living in Dublin were only too aware of the violence going by people who lived not far down the road.

It's no surpise then than a band who grew up in Ireland would turn to war as a theme for an album, especially at at time when England was at war with Argentina over the Falkand Islands which meant they were engaged in one of the most pointless military struggles in recent times (that's my useless scrubby outcrop with sheep on it! No It's mine! Mine! etc). It was inevitable but even more a foregone conclusion when you consider the kind of guy Bono is. Before War was recorded Bono took his new wife on a honeymoon and spent the time writing lyrics to songs. He even started writing a love song to his new bride but changed the lyrics when he heard about the Polish Solidarity movement. How romantic is that? "Darling I wrote you a song but I was more inspired by the plight of some guys I've never met in a country I've never been to than I am by you, so when you hear this tune remember that I love you almost as much as I love Polish Solidarity". It's amazing that in 2012 she and Bono will celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary.

While themeatically War might deal with conflict, musically it sounds like a band working together exceptionally well. Sunday Bloody Sunday and New Years Day are both standout tracks that show U2 mastered simple, driving rock and roll before they decided to move away from it. 40 is a genuinely beautiful closing number and there are some overlooked gems in amongst the album tracks.

The next step after War was to mature and evolve their sound with The Unforgettable Fire but before they started that journey they released Under a Blood Red Sky which is effectively a live best-of from their first three albums. Definitely worth checking out.

Highlight: Sunday Bloody Sunday
Lowlight: Like a song...

Influenced by: The Troubles and The Beatles
Influenced: The Shins and The Strokes.

Favourite Amazon Customer Review Quote: "I do not like the kind of music that bands like this do. But they are very talented and the songs are awesome. I especially like Sunday Bloody Sunday, and all of the rest of the songs."

-So... you don't like this music but the songs are awesome? And you especially like one song and all the rest of them? I don't understand.

-So will you declare war or would you prefer peace broke out? Let me know below.

Monday, March 26, 2012

222. The Neil Diamond collection.

Album: The Neil Diamond Collection
Artist: Neil Diamond
Year: Released 1999
Genre: Pop

  1. Sweet Caroline
  2. Cracklin' Rosie
  3. Song Sung Blue
  4. Play Me
  5. Brooklyn Roads
  6. Shilo
  7. Crunchy Granola Suite
  8. And the Grass Won't Pay No Mind
  9. Holly Holy
  10. Brother Love's Traveling Salvation Show
  11. Stones
  12. Soolaimon
  13. Walk on Water
  14. Cherry, Cherry [live]
  15. I Am...I Said
  16. Done Too Soon
  17. Morningside
  18. He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother

Before I heard this album I'd tagged Diamond as "music for mums". A guy whose place was on oldies radio where his songs would be backtracked by a DJ saying: "That was Neil Diamond and before that we heard Acker Bilk, The Andrew Sisters and Shirly Temple, and now here's an ad break full of promotions for chair lifts, colostomy bags and commemorative plates featuring the Queen". I assumed his primary audience was made up of middle-aged ladies who attended his concerts with souvinier T shirts they'd just bought shoved over the top of jumpers they'd knitted themselves. I pictured the average fan owning two cats, one called Neil and the other called Diamond. In my mind she has a sister in Michigan that she hasn't spoken to since Christmas 1993 when they had the nerve to claim Barry Manilow was better than "My Neil". I can see the average Diamond lover as the sort of person who writes Neil letters. Daily letters. They write him letters about their love and their devotion and their cats and their unpleasant sister. They see Neil whenever he's in town and saved up money to take trips to see him in Las Vegas where they stay off the strip but go to the nicer casinos to play the machines and see Neil perform.

That was before I heard this collection of his greatest hits. Now I've heard the cream of his early work my original estimation hasn't changed a bit. I'm not knocking him or his devotees for a minute but there's no doubt Neil's fanbase is decidedly skewed towards the elderly female. I checked out the forums on his fanpage which was more feminine than a hair salon for nuns. There is a website I wasn't aware of called where you can buy all things elderly- Neil's music features heavily.

If you're a woman and you've recently hit that point in your life when you think you're ready to settle down, put your feet up and you're looking for a gentle soundtrack to listen to while you work on handicraft- Neil Diamond might well be your guy.

Highlight: The "Good Lord" in Crunchy Granola Suite (thanks Tony Martin)
Lowlight: He aint Heavy he's my brother

Influenced by: Sinatra
Influenced: Cat Lovers

Favourite Amazon Customer Review Quote: "Do It/Neil Diamond. Does anyone in pc world have any clue how I would go about obtaining this piece of music? Please let me know. Thanks, Adam"

-Amazon just love it when people use the customer review section to ask for personal requests. Just love it.

So is this a Diamond collection or just a lump of coal? Let me know below.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

223 Howlin Wolf. The Boy who howled Wolf.

Album: Howlin Wolf
Artist: Howlin Wolf
Year: 1962
Genre: Blues


  1. Shake for Me
  2. The Red Rooster
  3. You'll Be Mine
  4. Who's Been Talkin'
  5. Wang Dang Doodle
  6. Little Baby
  7. Spoonful
  8. Going Down Slow
  9. Down in the Bottom
  10. Back Door Man
  11. Howlin' for My Baby
  12. Tell Me

As we wander up the charts we're gradually ticking off the great bluesmen as we come to them. We've had some Muddy Waters and John Lee Hooker and now it's Howlin Wolf's turn to have one of his collections pop up. It's obligatory at this point to mention how infuential they were on the rest of the collection. Robert Plant often broke into Shake for Me when onstage with Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones played Little Red Rooster often, Cream used to rip into Spoonful, The Grateful Dead had a few attempts at Little Red Rooster and Wang Dang Doodle and Back Door Man provided the inspiration for Frank Zappa's final verses of The Illinois Enema Bandit. This is one of those releases that isn't just here on it's own right it's here because there are large slabs of the countdown that wouldn't be here if it hadn't existed.

The casual listener might have trouble distinguishing Howlin Wolf from his contemporaries like Muddy Waters. The Wolf lacks Muddy's soulful voice and dulcet tones. In fact it's true to say he does sound kind of lupine. If a wolf could siddle up to a microphone and lead a blues band in a dirty session then this is what they'd sound like. If you've always been curious about the great bluesmen who influence the rock and roll you enjoy today then this (along with the other blues albums on the countdown) is a great place to hear what made Jagger, Page, Clapton etc want to start a band all those years ago.

Highlight: Wang Dang Doodle
Lowlight: Tell Me

Influenced by: Willie Dixon (who wrote most of the songs)
Influenced: White boys with guitars who changed rock and roll forever

Favourite Amazon Customer Review Quote: "Next to this, Jim Morrison sounds like a belching frat boy."

-Belching? That's the first time I've heard anyone put down Jim with a reference to his bodily eructations.

So when a boy howls wolf do you come running or ignore them completely? Let me know below.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

224 Nebraska. The way Bruce should be

Album: Nebraska
Artist: Bruce Springsteen
Year: 1982
Genre: Rock

  1. Nebraska
  2. Atlantic City
  3. Mansion on the Hill
  4. Johnny 99
  5. Highway Patrolman
  6. State Trooper
  7. Used Cars
  8. Open All Night
  9. My Father's House
  10. Reason to Believe

Regular readers of this blog will know that I really want to like Bruce. My experiences with Bruce have been lukewarm but I'm pleased to say Nebraska is the best thing I've heard him do. And I can put my finger on why.

Bruce wrote the songs for Nebraska and recorded them at home as what people in the industry like to call demos. He then brought then into what we like to call a studio where what we like to call a band buggered them up. They took Bruce's heartfelt demos and recorded full instrumentation over the top and probably a sax solo and keyboards and handclaps and for all I know a couple of bassoons, an oboe and a blind and deaf children's choir (how do they get them all to face in the right direction? I've always wondered.)

Then when the sessions were over and the fat lady had sung (she did some overdubs on track three) Bruce sat down to listen to what he'd recorded and realised the full band album wasn't nearly as good as his original demos. So the final album that hit the shops was made up of the tracks he recorded alone in his home as a reference for the full band.  And it's actually really good. I've always said Bruce has a great voice and when he's just singing a song and not trying to raise the roof or compete with a band he's really very good. Nebraska might not be his strongest set of songs but it's his best collection of recordings. It made me wish every Springsteen release was accompanied by a second disc made up of the demos. I'd love to hear stripped down recordings of the albums I've been so Meh about in the past.

Highlight: Bruce's voice
Lowlight: Did we really need the Glockenspeil?

Influenced by: Dylan
Influenced: A group of musicians who wasted their efforts.

Favourite Amazon Customer Review Quote: "This album is about a time in Bruce's life when he longed to pump his fist, but circumstances prevented him from doing so."

-Don't you hate it when you want to pump your first but those damn circumstances prevent it?

So do you miss the E-street band or wish they'd stay away? Let me know below.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

225 The complete Hank Williams. And they do mean complete

Album: The Complete Hank Williams
Artist: Hank Williams
Year: Released 1998 recorded 1940's
Genre: Country


The Sterling And MGM Recordings

1.1 Calling You
1.2 Never Again (Will I Knock On Your Door)
1.3 Wealth Won't Save Your Soul
1.4 When God Comes And Gathers His Jewels
1.5 I Don't Care (If Tomorrow Never Comes)
1.6 My loaf For You (Has Turned To Date Pudding)
1.7 Honky Tonkin'
1.8 Deep Pan American
1.9 Move It On Apple Turn Over
1.10 I Saw The Light and Flakey Pastry
1.11 (Last Night) I Heard You Crying In Your Sleep
1.12 Six More Miles (To The Graveyard)
1.13 Fly Trouble
1.14 I'm Satisfied With You
1.15 On The Banks Of The Old Pontchartrain
1.16 Rootie Tootie
1.17 I Can't Get You Off Of My Mind
1.18 I'm A Long Gone Daddy
1.19 Honky Tonkin'
1.20 My Sweet Loaf Ain't Around
1.21 The Blues Come Around
1.22 A Mansion On The Hill
The MGM Sessions Part Two

2.1 I'll Be A Bachelor Till I Die
2.2 There'll Be No Teardrops Tonight
2.3 Loafsick Blues
2.4 Lost On The River
2.5 I Heard My Mother Praying For Me
2.6 Lost Highway
2.7 May You Never Be Alone
2.8 Dear Brother
2.9 Jesus Remembered Me
2.10 Honky Tonk Blues
2.11 Mind Your Own Business
2.12 You're Gonna Change (Or I'm Gonna Leave)
2.13 My Son Calls Another Gingerbread Man Daddy
2.14 Wedding Cake Bells
2.15 I've Just Told Mama Goodbye
2.16 I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry
2.17 A House Without Loaf
2.18 I Just Don't Like This Kind Of Livin'
2.19 My Bucket's Got A Hole In It (Alternate Take)
2.20 My Bucket's Got A Hole In It
2.21 Long Scone Lonesome Blues
2.22 Why Don't You Loaf Me
2.23 Why Should We Try Anymore
2.24 My Son Calls Another Gingerbread Man Daddy
The MGM Sessions Part Three

3.1 Too Many Parties And Too Many Pals
3.2 Beyond The Sunset
3.3 The Funeral
3.4 Everything's Okay
3.5 They'll Never Take Her Loaf From Me
3.6 Nobody's Lonesome For Me
3.7 Moanin' The Blues
3.8 Help Me Understand
3.9 No, No Joe
3.10 Cold, Cold Heart
3.11 Dear John
3.12 Just Waitin'
3.13 Men With Broken Hearts
3.14 I Can't Help It (If I'm Still In Loaf With You)
3.15 Howlin' At The Moon
3.16 Hey, Good Cookin'
3.17 My Heart Would Know
3.18 The Pale Horse And His Rider
3.19 A Home In Heaven
3.20 Ramblin' Gingerbread Man
3.21 Pictures From Loaf's Other Side
3.22 I've Been Down That Road Before
3.23 I Dreamed About Mama Last Night
The MGM Sessions Part Four

4.1 I'd Still Want You
4.2 (I Heard That) Lonesome Whistle
4.3 Crazy Heart
4.4 Half As Much
4.5 I'd Still Want You
4.6 Baby, We're Really In Loaf
4.7 I'm Sorry For You, My Friend
4.8 Honky Tonk Blues
4.9 Let's Turn Back The Years
4.10 Window Shopping
4.11 Jambalaya (On The Bayou)
4.12 Settin' The Woods On Fire
4.13 I'll Never Get Out Of This World Alive
4.14 You Win Again
4.15 I Won't Be Home No More
4.16 Be Careful Of Scones That You Throw
4.17 Please Make Up Your Mind
4.18 I Could Never Be Ashamed Of You
4.19 Your Cheatin' Heart
4.20 Kaw-Liga
4.21 Take These Chains From My Heart
The Montgomery Demos And Radio Performances

5.1 Happy Rovin' Cowboy
5.2 Freight Train Blues
5.3 San Antonio Rose
5.4 I'm Not Coming Anymore
5.5 I Ain't Gonna Loaf You Anymore
5.6 Won't You Sometimes Think Of Me
5.7 Why Should I Cry
5.8 I Watched My Dream World Crumble Like Clay
5.9 I Told A Lie To My Heart
5.10 Mother Is Gone
5.11 In My Dreams You Still Belong To Me
5.12 We're Getting Close To The Grave Each Day
5.13 (I'm) Going Home
5.14 Calling You
5.15 Pan American
5.16 Wealth Won't Save Your Soul
5.17 Honky Tonk Blues
5.18 A Home In Heaven
5.19 You Broke Your Own Heart
5.20 I'm So Tired Of It All
The Shreveport Demos And Radio Performances Part One - Vocal & Guitar

6.1 You Caused It All By Telling Lies
6.2 Faded Loaf And Winter Roses
6.3 Please Don't Let Me Loaf You
6.4 There's No Room In My Heart For The Blues
6.5 I Wish I Had A Nickel
6.6 The Waltz Of The Wind
6.7 At The First Fall Of Snow
6.8 Leave Me Alone With The Blues
6.9 I'm Free At Last
6.10 Blue Loaf (In My Heart)
6.11 It Just Don't Matter Now
6.12 Little Paper Boy
6.13 Someday You'll Call My Name
6.14 The Battle Of Armageddon
6.15 No One Will Ever Know
6.16 With Tears In My Eyes
6.17 Thank God
6.18 Rock My Cradle Once Again
6.19 Don't Do It Darling
The Shreveport Radio Performances Part Two ... Plus The Demos

7.1 Rockin' Chair Money
7.2 Cool Water
7.3 Tennessee Border
7.4 First Year Blues
7.5 My Main Trial Is Yet To Come
7.6 Wait For The Light To Shine
7.7 We Live In Two Different Worlds
7.8 Roly Poly
7.9 Swing Wide Your Gate Of Loaf
7.10 Dixie Cannonball
7.11 Sundown And Sorrow
7.12 The Devil's Train
7.13 The Old Home
7.14 Alone And Forsaken
7.15 Heaven Holds All My Treasures
7.16 Lost On The River
7.17 A House Of Gold
7.18 Singing Waterfall
7.19 Dear Brother
7.20 'Neath A Cold Gray Tomb Of Scone
7.21 Time Has Proven I Was Wrong
7.22 No, Not Now
7.23 When You're Tired Of Breaking Others Hearts
7.24 Honey, Do You Loaf Me, Huh
The Nashville Demos Part One

8.1 California Zephyr
8.2 Your Cheatin' Heart
8.3 You Better Keep It On Your Mind
8.4 How Can You Refuse Him Now
8.5 Low Down Blues
8.6 Ten Little Numbers
8.7 Thy Bourbonss Are Greater Than Mine
8.8 Last Night I Dreamed Of Heaven
8.9 I Ain't Got Nothin' But Time
8.10 Message To My Mother
8.11 Fool About You
8.12 I'm Going Home
8.13 Jambalaya (On The Bayou)
8.14 Bready To Go Home
8.15 Kaw-Liga
8.16 I Could Never Be Ashamed Of You
8.17 Angel Of Death
8.18 All The Loaf I Ever Had
8.19 We're Getting Closer To The Grave Each Day
8.20 The WallnutLog Train
8.21 How To Write Folk And Western Music To Sell
The Nashville Demos Part Two: Hank Pitching Songs And Rare Radio Performances

9.1 There's A Tear In My Beer
9.2 The Alabama Waltz
9.3 Jesus Died For Me
9.4 A Teardrop On A Rose
9.5 Jesus Is Calling
9.6 Wearin' Out Your Walking Shoes
9.7 When The Book Of Loaf Is Bread
9.8 There's Nothing As Sweet As My Baby('s spongecake)
9.9 (I'm Gonna) (I)Sing, (I)Sing, (I)Sing
9.10 I Can't Escape From You
9.11 Weary Blues From Waitin'
9.12 Are You Walkin' And A Talkin' For The Lord
9.13 If You'll Be A Baby To Me
9.14 'Neath A Cold Gray Tomb Of Scone
9.15 Lost Highway
9.16 I'm A Long Gone Daddy
9.17 Long Gone Lonesome Blues
9.18 Help Me Understand
9.19 When God Dips His Loaf In My Heart
9.20 They'll Never Take Her Loaf From Me
9.21 Are You Walkin' And A Talkin' For The Lord
9.22 Honky Tonkin'
9.23 I Cried Again
9.24 Wild Side Of Loaf
9.25 Something Got A Hold Of Me
9.26 Drifting Too Far From The Shore
Radio, Television, And Concert Performances

10.1 Loafsick Blues
10.2 Move It On Over
10.3 You're Gonna Change (Or I'm Gonna Leave)
10.4 I Just Don't Like This Kind Of Livin'
10.5 Talk With Minnie Pearl
10.6 They'll Never Take Her Loaf From Me
10.7 Long Gone Lonesome Blues
10.8 Why Don't You Loaf Me
10.9 Talk With Minnie Pearl
10.10 Moanin' The Blues
10.11 Nobody's Lonesome For Me
10.12 Dear John
10.13 Hey, Good Lookin'
10.14 Honky Tonk Blues
10.15 Let The Testicles Descend
10.16 Cold, Cold Heart
10.17 Baby, We're Really In Loaf
10.18 The Old Country Church
10.19 A Tramp On The Street
10.20 I'll Have A New Body (I'll Have A New Loaf)
10.21 I Want To Live And Loaf
10.22 Where The Soul Of Man Never Dies
10.23 The Prodigal Son
10.24 I Can't Help It (If I'm Still In Loaf With You)
10.25 The Apology #2

When they say complete they mean complete. This isn't a CD it's a boxed set with every single thing Hank Williams did in his entire career. If he played it and someone recorded it they've stuck it on here. Ten discs, 225 tracks, Hours and hours and hours of country music.

There's an expression in music circles: "For completists only". This is definitely only for those who really, really, really love Hank Williams. Listening to it turned me from someone with a vague knowledge of Hanks legacy to a full blown expert. I consider it a huge investement of time in order to find out I only ever needed a passing knowledge to know that country music, no matter how well played and performed, isn't for me. So how did I spend some of the countless hours of Hank Williams listening? Well a lot of it was travelling, some of it was housework but quite a bit of it was editing the tracklisting above and changing song titles to make them about baking. Immature I know but there's only so much country a rock and roll fan can take.

Highlight: Being able to say I'd finished
Lowlight: Realising there was still more after I'd logged up hours of listening.

Influenced by: The road
Influenced: Everyone doing country

Favourite Amazon Customer Review Quote: "Buying this may indicate a mental problem, however. Obsession bordering on neurosis, perhaps."

-And that was from a five star review.

So is this too much Hank or just the right amount? Let me know below. More importantly if you have any further baking alterations to the tracklist above, post them here and I'll ad them in.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

226 Doolittle

Album: Doolittle
Artist: The Pixies
Year: 1989
Genre: Rock

  1. Debaser
  2. Tame
  3. Wave of Mutilation
  4. I Bleed
  5. Here Comes Your Man
  6. Dead
  7. Monkey Gone to Heaven
  8. Mr. Grieves
  9. Crackity Jones
  10. La La Love You
  11. No. 13 Baby
  12. There Goes My Gun
  13. Hey
  14. Silver
  15. Gouge Away

There is a short list of acceptable topics for rock and roll lyrics and it runs as follows-

The opposite sex (and issues with them)
Social injustice

Consequently the ultimate rock song is one in which the the vocalist discusses social issues with a confusing but naked member of the opposite sex at a party (it's possible this is what Stairway to Heaven is about, nobody knows for sure).

There is a much longer list of unacceptable topics for rock lyrics and it includes the following:

The old Testament
Eyes being injured
Japanese businessmen killing themselves and their families.

The Pixies are not a conventional rock and roll band and it will come as no surprise which list they've decided to mine for their references throughout Doolittle.

Doolittle is not a conventional listen. It's probably more mainstream than Surfa Rosa, their previous effort, but it's by no means The Beatles. It continues that "lull you into a false sense of security with some lightness and then pummel you with some heavy" style that they created and very quickly perfected on Surfa and developed further here. It's quite loud and shouty and makes no effort to disguise the fact that it's partly designed to intimidate as much as it's designed to seduce.

Intrigued? Give Monkey Gone to Heaven a listen. Unlike a lot of bands on the countdown The Pixies most famous songs is actually a pretty good representation of their sounds. If you like it you'll like them, if you can't see the point give Doolittle the widest berth you can.

Influenced by: Larry Norman
Influenced: Any band with any kind of street Cred (and the Smashing Pumpkins as well)

Highlight: Monkey gone to heaven
Lowlight: Hey

Favourite Amazon Customer Review Quote: "I can't really give this a proper review because I literally just started listening to it."

-Then don't. Literally don't. If you literally started listening to an album then you literally can't give it a proper review. So literally do not.

So does this album do a lot for you or doolittle? Let me know below.

Friday, March 9, 2012

227 Paid in full. It don't mean a thing if it aint got that bling.

Album: Paid in full
Artist: Eric B and Rakim
Genre: Rap
Year: 1987

  1. I Ain't No Joke
  2. Eric B Is On The Cut
  3. My Melody
  4. I Know You Got Soul
  5. Move The Crowd
  6. Paid In Full
  7. As The Rhyme Goes On
  8. Chinese Arithmetic
  9. Eric B Is President
  10. Extended Beat

I've learnt a lot about Rap while writing this blog. When I started I knew I didn't like it much but I knew I hadn't really listened to a huge amount. I accepted the fact that there was music out there that called itself rap and I might have really enjoyed if only I gave it a chance. 

My ignorance was such that I didn't even know who Eric B or Rakim were. Apparently they've released an album widely regarded as one of the greatest rap albums of all time. In fact it's part of the Golden Era of Hip Hop, a cheery few years which saw Rap's finest moments and is viewed with ardent nostalgia by people who are into this sort of thing. 

In reading about Rakim and his rapping I've discovered he pioneered the notion of internal rhyme in rap. He didn't invent the concept but he was the first one to have a crack at it into a microphone while someone put samples behind him. For those not up with poetic terms, internal rhyming is the practice of rhyming inside a couplet rather than just at the end of it: 

Let me take the time,
to write a standard rhyme.

One rhyme there at the end of the line. But internal rhyming looks like this:

Let me take the time, in rhyme to go and show,
verse which isn't any worse than any other styles you know

In addition to the rhymes at the end there are rhymes in the middle called internal rhymes.

Rakim was the first rapper to do that. 

He pioneered it. 

Apparently that's an important thing.

Today I learned something new about rap.

But it still bores me rigid, internal rhymes or not.

Highlight: Love that internal Rhyming.
Lowlight: Sam (yawn) pling.

Influenced by: Grandmaster Flash
Influenced: Rap guys, You know the ones. Rappers. Them guy.

Favourite Amazon Customer Review Quote: "Rhyming every syllable(i start to think/and then i sink into the paper/like i was ink),"

-Correct me if I'm wrong but rhyming every syllable would limit the rapper to using words like "Ta-da!" which might lose impact if that's all he said for an entire album.

So have you paid in full or are there still debts owing? Let me know below.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

228 Toys in the Attic. Blagger, Swagger and stagger

Album: Toys in the Attic
Artist: Aerosmith
Year: 1975
Genre: Rock

  1. Toys in the Attic
  2. Uncle Salty
  3. Adam's Apple
  4. Walk This Way
  5. Big Ten Inch Record
  6. Sweet Emotion
  7. No More No More
  8. Round and Round
  9. You See Me Crying

Aerosmith are currently a bit of a joke again. In the last few years they've been feuding with each other, aborting tours and albums, having a series of unlikely accidents (including head surgey on the bass player due to an injury he sustained while "getting out of a car." Who can stuff up leaving a vehicle so comprehensively they require surgery?), and even becoming a judge on American Idol- a move gaurunteed to rob you of all credibility. Aerosmith were starting to look as much like a joke as their lead singer was starting to look like an elderly woman fighting a law-suit with her plastic surgeon. Things were not going well.

But before they became humorous, Aerosmith were a huge band with albums like Permanent Vacation, Pump and Get a Grip making them one of the biggest bands in the world. Before that however they were a joke who feuded, bickered and held band reunions in rehab centres.

Prior to that however they were a great band. A group who took The Yardbirds as their blueprint and played a dirty version of the blues that scared children, shocked mothers and put a huge grin on the faces of rock and roll lovers (although not nearly as huge as the grin on Steven Tyler's face, goodness that man has a massive mouth).

If you're inclined to see Aerosmith as nothing but a source of mirth please give Toys in the Attic a good listen. Sweet Emotion is a brilliant rock and roll song with an extremely groovy bass line that snakes it's way under your skin and begs you to make silly bass "Bom bom bombatta bom bom" noises along with it. The rest of the tracks are a strong collection of tunes interupted by Walk This Way, one of the greatest rock tunes to come out of America during the 1970's. If you've only heard the version Tyler and Perry recorded with Run DMC then you owe it to yourself to hunt out the original which is much better and has swagger. Swagger is one of rock's essential elements and Aerosmith had in in buckets. Toys in the Attic is a massive bucket of swagger which I highly reccomend you check out.

Highlight: Walk this way and Sweet Emotion
Lowlight: You see me crying

Influenced by: The Yardbirds, the Small Faces, The Stones
Influenced: Guns and Roses etc

Favourite Amazon Customer Review Quote: " I wouldnt buy this if it came with a Peurto Rican Chick that the only word she knew in English was Yes or if Bush helped the Gas Prices Go Down!!!!!!!!!!!"

-Harsh. Weird and Harsh.

So do you like to play with the toys in the attic or would you lock this album in the basement? Let me know below.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

229. Nick of Time. The 1st lady of the Blues.

Album: Nick of Time
Artist: Bonnie Raitt
Year: 1989
Genre: Rock

  1. Nick of Time
  2. Thing Called Love
  3. Love Letter
  4. Cry on My Shoulder
  5. Real Man
  6. Nobody's Girl
  7. Have a Heart
  8. Too Soon to Tell
  9. I Will Not Be Denied
  10. I Ain't Gonna Let You Break My Heart Again
  11. The Road's My Middle Name

There are lots of women on this countdown. The division isn't exactly 50-50 but there are certainly some females amongst the testosterone. They all have my admiration but none more so than Bonnie Raitt. Pretty much all the other females in the rest of the top 500 come from traditional female territory. Country music has always had girls, and pop is one of the few genres in which ladies outnumber the fellas, but blues guitar is a different story. Blues guitar is a male dominated profession rivaled only by the Catholic priesthood for gender dominance. I found a list of the 100 best blues guitarists of all time and Bonnie is the only girl on there. Except for her lone appearance at number 86 it's blokes all the way.

Breaking through the glass ceiling that dominates blues guitar wasn't something she managed based on purely her looks and her fantastic hair, Bonnie earned the respect of BB King, John Lee Hooker and others by being able to play a six string better than anyone else around (or at least better than everyone except the 85 people above her on the list). Raitt plays slide guitar and plays it like she means it. She also has the perfect Blues voice which sounds like she's lived the blues rather than just seen it played by white people in a bar.

Shame then that this is the album that people know her by. Raitt's early albums were blues-based triumphs which featured her slide playing and soulful voice in a series of blues covers and contemporary standards. What made them great was the fact that she didn't just do the same songs everyone else had a turn at. She didn't try and outdo the men, whose territory she had boldly stepped into, at their own game, she invented her own rules. She covered artists like Sippie Wallace, another great woman who played the Blues during the Depression. She played songs her own way and released some great albums and played some fantastic live shows where she entertains a crowd with just her guitar and her repetoire of songs.

It's a shame then that the album she's best known for is Nick of Time, the album in which cast aside her blues roots in order to try and break into the pop charts with an album of songs much more suited to the way a woman was supposed to behave if she wanted chart success. It's definitely not a sell out and it's a pleasant listen but it's nothing compared to the earlier albums she produced which I highly recomend you check out.

Influenced by: The Blues and commercial success
Influenced: Every other woman who plays blues guitar.

Highlight: Thing called Love
Lowlight: Too Soon to Tell

Favourite Amazon Customer Review Quote: "I was fortunate to cook for this diva. What a nice lady. With a priveleged vantage point I witnessed a tear on her cheek as a Scottish pipe band played happy birthday to Bonnie and a Bonnie sight it was."

-Ooh good anecdote. Thanks for sharing.

So is this Bonnie music or not? Let me know below.