Thursday, November 29, 2012

148. Deja Vu. Add one and multiply by two



Album: Deja Vu
Artist: Crosby Stills Nash and Young
Genre: Folk
Year: 1970

Tracks

  1. Carry On
  2. Teach Your Children
  3. Almost Cut My Hair
  4. Helpless
  5. Woodstock
  6. Déjà Vu
  7. Our House
  8. 4 + 20
  9. Country Girl
  10. Everybody I Love You

Crosby Stills and Nash's debut self-titled album was better than the sum of its parts. The three band members had all enjoyed good careers in The Byrds, Buffalo Springfield and The Hollies but when they combined as a trio, their song-writing abilities somehow doubled with every member contributing songs that were far better than anything they'd written before (For What it's Worth is the only song any of the three had written before which would have been worth putting on their first album).

Rather than continue with the delicate three way balance they had maintained, CSN decided to add a fourth element into the mix. After Steve Winwood knocked him back, Stills reluctantly went to his old bandmate Neil Young, with whom he had (and still has) a love/hate kind of relationship.

The introduction of a fourth member could have totally destroyed the band's chemistry, and in fact it probably did. But before they went their separate ways (briefly) the foursome managed to record an album that was even better than the first.

If you read my review of Crosby Stills and Nash you might wonder how I could possibly think any album was superior. I did go on a bit about how brilliant that release is and it's true that I got obsessed with it for a while back when I started listening. I stand by everything I said but this... this is better.

Neil Young is one of the all time great songwriters and in 1970 there were few better. Helpless and Country Girl are two great songs but easily matched by Our House (Nash), Carry on (Stills), Almost Cut my Hair (Crosby) and Woodstock which was written by Joni Mitchell but given a definitive reading here (by people who were actually at Woodstock as opposed to watching news reports in a hotel room which is what Joni was doing).

Neil also added his guitar might to the band's sound and his voice managed to slot perfectly in amongst the vocal harmonies that CSN were famous for. His presence should have tipped the balance from perfection into overindulgence but somehow it made a brilliant band even better.

You might think this is a perfect album and be surprised when I tell you that it can be even better. If you have a CD burner then create a completely flawless masterpiece by doing the following.

Firstly add Ohio to the track listing at the end. After the Kent State shooting, Neil dragged the other three into the studio to record a song he'd just written about the events. It was released as a single and it's presence can improve any album.

Secondly replace the version of Almost Cut My Hair with the version released on the CSN boxed set which is twice as long and four times as good.

Thirdly replace the version of Teach Your Children with a live version available on numerous bootlegs. Teach is a magnificent song totally ruined by some pedal steel guitar. I can't stand the dreadful, cliched pedal steel on this track which causes me a huge amount of anguish because it's being played by Jerry Garcia. My favourite musician of all, time is responsible for ruining a track on one of my favourite albums.

Make these subtle changes and then burn to disc or whack on your MP3 player and you will have an album that I would put up against any release on here for song-writing, musicianship, harmonizing and outright perfection. Burn it onto a CD with the first album and take it with you to a desert Island. It's all you'll need.

Highlight: The whole damn thing (almost)
Lowlight: The pedal steel guitar (sob)

Influenced by: Woodstock
Influenced: Harmonies

Favourite Amazon Customer Review Quote: "Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young are the answer to the riddle: WHO is the only group that wondered, "by whom could we do something really... 'heavy?,' and answered... Joni Mitchell?" Have a nice day!"

-I have no idea what you're talking about. It's just as well nobody has ever actually asked me that riddle.

So do you think this is magnificent or have I just got carried away and need a lie down? Let me know below.


Monday, November 26, 2012

149 Houses of the Holy. An old Friend




Album: Houses of the Holy
Artist: Led Zeppelin
Year: 1973
Genre: Rock


Tracks

  1. The Song Remains the Same
  2. The Rain Song
  3. Over the Hills and Far Away
  4. The Crunge
  5. Dancing Days
  6. D'yer Mak'er
  7. No Quarter
  8. The Ocean

They say you never forget your first love. My first girlfriend used to say that often and old what's-her-name had a point.

When I was growing up I didn't have a huge amount of access to new music so I tended to rely on other people and that old standby, copying tapes that other people leant me (remember back when piracy happened in real time?). The first time I really struck out on my own was when I decided it might be worth giving this Led Zeppelin band I'd heard of a try. I remember getting my hands on their music and giving them a listen in the hope that I would find them mildly diverting. 

Massively diverting- that's how I found them. They totally detoured me into a realm I'd never heard before. All of a sudden music wasn't background noise it was something to be treasured, adored and shouted at a silly volume while leaping about air guitaring in a foolish manner. 

I quickly got my hands on all the Led Zep I could find and made the mistake of listening to their entire catalogue in order from start to finish which was a huge mistake because their career does peak fairly early and fall away a bit. After the massive high that was their untitled fourth album, Zeppelin decided to try and go in a different direction rather than simply top what was immediately declared their masterpiece.

House of the Holy isn't just a new direction for Led Zeppelin it's an album of new directions. D'Yer Maker sees them toying with reggae, The Crunge has them playing with Funk, The Rain Song is their first ballad, No Quarter is from a land all of itself and Dancing Days was an experiment with music that sounds truly awful. If you pick it up expecting Rock and Roll you're in a for a disappointment but that's not to say it isn't fantastic. Anything Jimmy Page touched at this stage in his career was fascinating and Robert Plant was (and is) one of the greatest vocalists ever to howl into a microphone. Bonham's drumming is outstanding and the ventures into unexplored territory are generally successful.

Houses of the Holy is definitely a step down from their early highpoints and their last great album but listening to it all the way through for the first time in years I can see why I used to devour it as a late teenager and I understand why it moved me the way it did.

Influenced by: The Blues and folk
Influenced: Metal

Highlight: The Rain Song
Lowlight: Dancing Days

Favourite Amazon Customer Review Quote: "Hi everyone, just to add to Zeps long list of rip offs, the riff to The Ocean is taken from an old medieval tune, Dum Pater Familias."

-It's everyone's new favourite hobby: spot Page's plagarism.

So is this a house you'd like to live in or not? Let me know below.

Friday, November 23, 2012

150 Santana. Santana?



Album: Santana
Artist: Santana
Genre: Latin Rock
Year: 1969

Tracks

  1. Waiting
  2. Evil Ways
  3. Shades of Time
  4. Savor
  5. Jingo
  6. Persuasion
  7. Treat
  8. You Just Don't Care
  9. Soul Sacrifice

Personally I don't think Rock really needs anything added to make it great. Rock is good. Rock is pure. Rock is all rock needs to rock. Adding things to the mix is usually unnecessary dilution in my view. Jazz Rock is always worse than rock and worse than Jazz. Rap Rock is just a lot more rhyming than any good rock needs and pop rock is just indecision with synthesizers.

But latin rock is interesting. Latin rock definitely adds something to mix. Latin rhythms backing a solid guitar based band creates a whole new thing which is really fun. Of course it helps if you have some real talent in the band somewhere and Carlos Santana is a real talent. He can definitely play that thing and his guitar work is the highlight of his first album. He's flinging out riffs and magnificent solos in all directions and lending some soulful blues and some fiery rock to every single track. 

Carlos might be the only member of the band that anyone can name but keyboard player but Gregg Rolie  more than emerges from his bandleader's shadow. Rolie plays some great stuff here and plays some great solos and also lays down some fantastic interaction with Santana especially on the blinding Soul Sacrifice which also features some brilliant percussion interplay between a regular drumkit and some congas and timbales (which I've always wrongly assumed were a kind of food). 

There's a lot of nifty instrumental stuff going on here and while the vocals are mostly unnecessary there's a cover of Evil Ways which is a catchy gem. 

You may have worked out I really like this album and I do, but not as much as I like the numerous live releases that have come out since it appeared. We've now got access to Santana's full Woodstock performance and you can see why it made their reputation. They're definitely a live band who enjoy the ability to stretch out in front of an appreciative audience rather than have to confine themselves to the studio. Everything they do here they do better onstage and while this album was a huge hit at the time if the Woodstock performance was released days after the event it would be here instead of this, and probably considerably higher. 

It would be great to say that Santana went from strength to strength but sadly there were only two more albums from this line up before everyone parted ways. Santana continued as Carlos's backing band with different musicians but never approached these heights again. 

Latin rock is definitely worth your time and this is great stuff but if you can get your hands on the Woodstock show then give that a listen instead.

Highlight: Soul Sacrifice
Lowlight: You just don't care

Influenced by: Rock and crazy latin rhythms
Influenced: Los Lobos

Favourite Amazon Customer Review Quote: "Doesn't seem to compare with the 33 rpm vinyl record version! "Soul Sacrifice" doesn't sound as exciting!"

-That's an interesting criticism. Has the album transfered badly or has age changed the perception?

So is this something you'd sacrifice your soul for or not? Let me know below

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

151 Darknes of the Edge of Town. Oh him again



Album: Darkness of the Edge of Town
Artist: Bruce Springsteen
Genre: Rock
Year: 1978

Tracks
  1. Badlands
  2. Adam Raised a Cain
  3. Something in the Night
  4. Candy's Room
  5. Racing in the Street
  6. The Promised Land
  7. Factory
  8. Streets of Fire
  9. Prove It All Night
  10. Darkness on the Edge of Town

There's no mistaking Springsteen's voice. I put this on knowing it was my next lesson without really paying attention to who it was but as soon as I heard the first vocal I knew it was Bruce. But while I could identify the who immediately I couldn't put my finger on the when. I have trouble dating Springsteen and would have guessed this was recorded anywhere from 1975 to 1990. It's got the same production standards and values as all of his material which seems to give it a timeless quality. Springsteen is easier to place in a location than on a chronology.

It's also not very interesting. I've tried to get into Bruce but struggled in the past. I respect his voice and I love his band (especially Silvio Dante) but as a songwriter I find he doesn't connect with me at all.

It probably doesn't help that Darkness at the Edge of Town is an album that lacked any strong singles. It's an attempt to put together a cohesive album rather than a bunch of songs which prop up a few hits. Apparently Darkness rewards the listener who sits down with the lyrics and ingests the album as a whole entity with ongoing themes. It certainly kicks up the regular Springsteen obsessions with working class America and driving and he went into it with a plan beyond just clearing out the songs he had lying around. If you approach this album looking for a statement about New Jersey and late seventies American life you will probably be rewarded but do you need to be? Call me cynical and callow if you like but I just don't care. I'm sure there were lots of trials and tribulations faced by people in 1970's NJ, many of them involving vehicles, but it's not something I'm interested in. I admire a thematic approach to album construction but that doesn't mean I need to hear it.

Darkness at the Edge of Town is another album which hasn't managed to make me a Springsteen convert. It's not on the "Please Lord never make me listen to that again" but it's definitely not something I'm going to actively seek out in the future. I'm happy to leave Springsteen and his tight band to someone else.

Influenced by: New Jersey and cars
Influenced: Future Bruce

Highlight: The Promised Land
Lowlight: Prove it all night

Favourite Amazon Customer Review Quote: "I listen to this album when I'm depressed, and I feel MUCH worse."

-There is a lot of complaint about this album being too dark. People need to listen to more music if they think this album is dark.

So do you keep this album nearby or would you rather leave it at the edge of town? Let me know below.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

152 The B-52's The bomb.



Album: The B52's
Artist: The B 52's
Genre: Pop
Year: 1979

Tracks


1. Planet Claire
2. 52 Girls
3. Dance This Mess Around
4. Rock Lobster
1. Lava
2. There's a Moon in the Sky (Called the Moon)
3. Hero Worship
4. 6060-842
5. Downtown


This, loyal readers is the reason I've been writing this blog for so long. It was the presence at this album, at this point in the countdown that made me sit down and take on this project. If you've enjoyed reading my ramblings then you have the B-52's to thank. If you've hated it then it's all their fault.

When this list was published I scoured it with a critical eye wondering how such glaring errors could be made by such an august publication. I was annoyed that the Grateful Dead weren't higher, I was incensed that there wasn't more Frank Zappa and one or two albums in the higher reaches got me all cross and shouty. But what really irked me and kept me in permanent teeth- gnashing mode for a month was the fact that the B-52's, THE B-52's! were higher than OK Computer by Radiohead. I was late to the Radiohead party but when I finally turned up I decided to make up for lost time by being really ardent in my love for some of their albums. It's no exaggeration to say that Radiohead saved me from being one of those insufferably tedious" all the good music was recorded back in the sixties" people that you meet at parties (or at least would if anyone invited them). Thom Yorke and his bandmates proved to me that musical greatness was possible after the eighties had killed it off so the fact that their greatest moment was rated as less important than an album by the people who recorded Love Shack made me apoplectic with rage.

And then someone pointed out I'd never actually heard the B52's debut album. I was comparing something I loved to something I was totally ignorant of which is, lets be honest, an extremely foolish way to behave. My ranting had no justification and was just so much hot air.

And so I decided to listen to every single album on this list. I convinced myself that it was to widen my musical horizons and develop an appreciation of music I wasn't familiar with but if truth be told it was probably more about being able to say I had than anything else. It was simply so I could continue to rail against the B52's without anyone undermining me with my own ignorance.

And now, four years after I started this project I've come to the album that started it all for me and I've actually listened to the album that got me so snotty way back when.

I have to be honest it still rankles a bit. The B52's are fine as far as they go, it's silly party music sung by people who can really sing. It was a laugh back in 1979 and it's a laugh now. A B52's concert would be lots of fun and I'm sure they can really set a party atmosphere.

But is there anything on here that comes close to Paranoid Android? Is there a single track that at its highest point can match even one of the lesser moments on OK Computer? No there isn't, there really isn't. It's like comparing a compilation of youtube fails to a season of the Sopranos. It's pitting Gilligan's island against Arrested Development. It's a Tower Defence game for your Android against Civilization V. I'm not saying it's not fun but it's not a game changer and didn't really alter anyone's life. And does Rock Lobster need to go for nearly seven minutes? It gets really irritating at about the 3 minute mark but it's not even half way through.

The B52's are fine as far as they go but even when they go to their furthest point they can't see Radiohead off in the distance. Trust me I know because I've heard them both.

Highlight: Planet Claire
Lowlight: Downtown

Influenced by: The 1950's and hairspray inhalation
Influenced: The Scissor Sisters

Favourite Amazon Customer Review Quote: "the whole point of the B-52's is fun with a grove"

-There is nothing more frustrating that fun without a grove.

So are the B52's the bomb or not? Let me know below

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

153. Moanin in the Moonlight



Album: Moanin in the Moonlight
Artist: Howlin Wolf
Genre: Blues
Year: 1959


Tracks


  1. Moanin' at Midnight
  2. How Many More Years
  3. Smokestack Lightnin'
  4. Baby How Long
  5. No Place to Go
  6. All Night Boogie
  7. Evil
  8. I'm Leavin' You
  9. Moanin' for My Baby
  10. I Asked for Water (She Gave Me Gasoline)
  11. Forty-Four
  12. Somebody in My Home
Moanin at Midnight is one of those strange artefacts that comes to us from a point in time that has long been superseded. In the 1950's, blues artists just weren't focused on releasing albums, the LP was a format that they basically ignored. Single's were the domain of the bluesman. They'd step into a studio and lay down a song they'd mastered over countless live performances, have a quick smoke and then put down another track to make up the B side. Then they'd go back on the road where they felt they belonged. The idea of recording another ten tracks to make up an entire album never crossed anyone's mind. 

It was only much later that record labels released blues albums. By collecting a few singles and B sides together in the once place they created an album that they could release for those who missed out on collecting the singles or those who wanted them all together in the one place. There are songs on Moanin that are eight years old sitting next to tracks that were recorded the year before. They don't sound noticeably different because Wolf didn't really develop his sound much. Some artists change completely in eight years but great bluesmen don't mutate they just get bluer. 

For a short period of time the only way you could get your hands on these songs was by purchasing this slab of vinyl but when CD's came in everything changed. Wolf become the subject of dozens of compilations which collected not just his greatest hits but his entire recorded output in the one place. This release has been well and truly superseded but there is no one album which can take it's place. It's no exaggeration to say there are four new Howlin Wolf compilations released every year on average. There were 7 released in 2002 alone. It's now impossible to get exactly this album without having Howlin Wolf one of his other albums tacked on as well.

But none of that does anything to dilute the significance of this collection of blues songs. This is the album that Jimmy Page got How Many More Years, Clapton got Smokestack Lightning, and Canned Heat got Evil from. It may have even been one of the albums that Jagger was holding on a train station which made Keith Richards seek him out. It deserves its place in rock history.

As for the music: Howlin Wolf is an amazing vocalist and you can't argue with a band that includes appearances by Willie Dixon, Hubert Sumlin, Otis Span, Ike Turner and Willie Johnson. The big singles are fantastic and while some of the Bsides mightn't be as good they certainly won't have you reaching for the skip button. It's great stuff but totally unnecessary today. If you want to hear it just go into any CD store and ask for a Howlin Wolf compilation. If they don't have any then just wait a few minutes for the next one to be released.

Highlight: Smokestack Lightning
Lowlight: Forty Four

Influenced by: Robert Johnson
Influenced: Rock and Roll

Favourite Amazon Customer Review Quote: "You get to hear that and a whole bunch more, including the Howlin's music on the Viagra Ad you may have heard lately."

-I had no idea spam emails had soundracks. 

So do you love hearing some moanin in the moonlight or not? Let me know below

Saturday, November 10, 2012

154 The Low End Theory.



Album: The Low End Theory
Artist: A Tribe Called Quest
Genre: Hip Hop
Year: 1991

Tracks


1. Excursions
2. Buggin' Out
3. Rap Promoter
4. Butter
5. Verses from the Abstract
6. Show Business
7. Vibes and Stuff
8. The Infamous Date Rape
9. Check the Rhime
10. Everything Is Fair
11. Jazz (We've Got)
12. Skypager
13. What?
14. Scenario


There's such a thing as Jazz rap! Who knew? I had no idea there were people who were listening to hip hop and thinking "this is all very well but it needs more of a jazz feel". I've heard Rock Rap and while most of it just doesn't work there are moments that actually achieve the heights they're aiming for but I've never heard anyone try to fuse hip hop with rapping before I listened to A Tribe Called Quest.

The Low End Theory is held up as pinnacle of jazz rap and the pioneer album that effectively created a genre. It's a trick the creators managed by aiming for high end Jazz. No Kenny G or other jazz-lite posers for these guys. They're sampling Miles Davis. Jack DeJohnette, Cannonball Adderly, Weather Report and Grover Washington Jr along with traditional sample staples like James Brown, Funkadelic and Sly and the Family Stone. They even got Jazz bass legend Ron Carter to come in and play on a track to give it an extra air of jazz-cred. 

So is Jazz Rap any good? Do the two genres play well together or is it up there with Disco Metal, Baroque Punk and Electro Folk as doomed experiments? It definitely appeals to me more than straight hip hop. If I'm going to listen to rap then I'd rather it came with a twist of jazz but if I'm going to listen to jazz I don't really need an infusion to rap to make me like it. Like all Hip Hop I found it got repetitive fairly quickly and became dull a few tracks in. The thing that saved Low End Theory for me was the odd decision to include the three singles in the later half of the album instead of the first. Most artists throw the best tracks in early and ladle in some filler towards the end. Low End Theory is like an album in reverse that starts off with the duller tracks and throws in the best stuff after half an hour of listening. The final track, Scenario with its anthemic chorus is a welcome relief from the steady laid back theme that props up the rest of the album and could have shaken things up a bit if it cropped up earlier in the album rather than appearing at the end. 

I certainly didn't hate The Low End Theory the way I've hated a lot of rap albums I've been forced to endure while doing this countdown. If I was forced to listen to a rap album for a while this would be the one I'd be pulling off the shelf. But I personally don't see the need to listen to jazz rap when there's pure jazz to be listening to. I like my Miles Davis in album sized doses rather than in microscopic, repetitive samples behind a rapper.

Influenced by: Grand Master Flash and Miles Davis
Influenced: All of Jazz Rap

Highlight: Scenario
Lowlight: Date Rape

Favourite Amazon Customer Review Quote: "I love hip hop and I love jazz, but a tribe called quest has roots in neither. Just because you have some vibes and flutes in the music doesn't make it "jazz influenced".

-Ouch. Harsh

So is this the low end of the hip hop spectrum or not? Let me know below.

Monday, November 5, 2012

155. Pretenders. The Real Thing



Album: Pretenders
Artist: Pretenders
Genre: Rock
Year: 1979

Tracks

  1. Precious
  2. The Phone Call
  3. Up the Neck
  4. Tattooed Love Boys
  5. Space Invader
  6. The Wait
  7. Stop Your Sobbing
  8. Kid
  9. Private Life
  10. Brass in Pocket
  11. Lovers of Today
  12. Mystery Achievement

There aren't a huge number of women on this countdown. So few in fact that I've tagged them Women so  I could keep track. Of the 31 albums that I've tagged Women most are pop or country which are areas in which there is a comfortable place for the female. We know what roles women play in these genres, in pop they're sexy chanteuse figures and in country they're hard done by girls whose men have done them wrong. But rock is much harder. When the guitar is seen as a phallic symbol and rock singing is all about volume, gusto and male bravado, where does a woman fit in? And how does she find her lyrical niche in a society with different gender values? A male can sing about the number of sexual conquests and he's a hero but if a woman tries the same things she's a slut (I can think of a number of words for a woman with vast sexual experience and all of them are derogatory. I can also think of a few words for sexually experienced men and all of them are complimentary- stud, stallion etc). If you type "female frontwomen" into google you will find the inevitable series of lists but the focus isn't all on "best" or "most talented" the top result lists the 40 sexiest frontwomen.

So in a male dominated world how does a woman go about breaking a mold and fronting her own rock and roll band? If you're Chrissie Hynde the answer is by striking out in a new direction. Hynde doesn't try and be Jagger or Plant and isn't interested in trying to compete with males on their terms. She takes her eclectic musical interests and blends them into a style which became a blueprint all of its own. She's not screaming or shrieking, she's not trying to move outside her range and she's content to introduce a bit of feminine subtlety into the musical mix. She's a bit punk but a lot rock and a bit pop as well.

Pretenders are a great band and Pretenders is a great album. Brass in Pocket is the song everyone knows even if they don't know what the title is (its the song that goes "Gonna use my arms, gonna use my legs... gonna use my my my imagination" etc. Trust me you'd know if you heard it) and it's by no means the only treat. Private Life and Precious are great songs although I don't understand why you would choose Stop Your Sobbing as the only cover. I'm a fan of the Kinks but Sobbing is nowhere near their greatest songs and for some reason it just doesn't work that well when Hynde sings it, she's much better doing her own material.

Pretenders proved that girls could do rock and roll as well as the boys and more to the point could do it in their own way without having to try and emulate the men who normally front rock bands.

Highlight: Brass in Pocket
Lowlight: Stop Your Sobbing

Influenced by: Iggy Pop
Influenced: Girls in rock

Favourite Amazon Customer Review Quote: "I'm 45 and have played guitar since '68."

-Thanks for letting us know

So is this the real thing or just pretend? Let me know below.

Friday, November 2, 2012

156. Paul's Boutique



Album: Paul's Boutique
Artist: The Beastie Boys
Genre: Hip Hop
Year: 1989

Tracks

  1. To All the Girls
  2. Shake Your Rump
  3. Johnny Ryall
  4. Egg Man
  5. High Plains Drifter
  6. The Sounds of Science
  7. 3-Minute Rule
  8. Hey Ladies
  9. 5-Piece Chicken Dinner
  10. Looking Down the Barrel of a Gun
  11. Car Thief
  12. What Comes Around
  13. Shadrach
  14. Ask for Janice
  15. B-Boy Bouillabaisse

Would the Beastie Boys have been as popular if they were black? I've always wondered if they were the Elvis Presley of their genre in the sense that they took a musical form that had been associated with black people and performed it successfully while being stubbornly Caucasian. White people in America and throughout the world who were intrigued by Hip Hop but alienated by its entrenchment in African American culture could enjoy rap without having to venture outside their comfort zone. Young white kids who looked down on black kids had someone they could admire without getting confused.

Which is not to take anything away from the Beastie Boys themselves. Afterall there were other white rappers trying the same thing at the time and they weren't as successful. The Beasties obviously had talent and Paul's Boutique was their second chance to prove it to the world.

What separates Paul's Boutique from a lot of other rap albums is just how much is actually on it. Apparently the backing tracks that the Boys rap over were originally prepared by The Dust Brothers as instrumentals to be played in clubs. They never intended for there to be any vocals layered over the top and offered to strip them down to just the beats when the Beasties came into the studio only to have them demand they leave them as is.

The end result is a backing track that sounds a lot fuller than other rap backing from the time. There is a hell of a lot going on. Every track is made up of a dozen or so samples lifted from everything from contemporary rap to sampling standards like James Brown and classic rock like Zeppelin and the Beatles. Not that you'd recognise them, for the most part the samples are tiny little weeny fragments which get smooshed together so that you could never identify their origins without some assistance.

It's albums like this that make you appreciate how much of an artform sampling is. It might seem more soul-less than actually playing an instrument but there's a real science and art involved in taking so many disparate pieces and combining them into a cohesive whole.

Listening to Paul's Boutique was a fascinating experience as I sat there listening to sounds I knew well being forced into forms I'd never experienced before. It's just a shame I had to listen to it with a bunch of white people shouting silly things over the top.

Highlight: Shake your Rump
Lowlight: Hey Ladies

Influenced by: Dance tracks
Influenced: White boy hip hop

Favourite Amazon Customer Review Quote: "The words are nonsense and if rap is going to mean anything there has to be a consistency of imagery."

-I've often thought consistency of imagery was the biggest problem with rap.

So would you benefit from a visit to Paul's boutique? Let me know below.