Thursday, January 31, 2013

129 40 Greatest hits. Thank Hank.

Album: 40 Greatest hits
Artist: Hank Williams
Genre: Country
Year: 1978


Disc one

  1. Move It on Over
  2. A Mansion on the Hill
  3. Lovesick Blues
  4. Wedding Bells
  5. Mind Your Own Business
  6. You're Gonna Change (Or I'm Gonna Leave) 
  7. Lost Highway
  8. My Bucket's Got a Hole in It
  9. I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry
  10. I Just Don't Like This Kind of Living
  11. Long Gone Lonesome Blues
  12. My Son Calls Another Man Daddy
  13. Why Don't You Love Me
  14. Why Should We Try Anymore
  15. They'll Never Take Her Love from Me
  16. Moanin' the Blues
  17. Nobody's Lonesome for Me
  18. Cold, Cold Heart
  19. Dear John
  20. Howlin' at the Moon 

Disc two

  1. I Can't Help It (If I'm Still in Love with You)
  2. Hey, Good Lookin'
  3. Crazy Heart
  4. (I Heard That) Lonesome Whistle
  5. Baby, We're Really in Love
  6. Ramblin' Man
  7. Honky Tonk Blues
  8. I'm Sorry for You My Friend
  9. Half as Much
  10. Jambalaya (On the Bayou)
  11. Window Shopping
  12. Settin' the Woods on Fire
  13. You Win Again
  14. I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive
  15. Kaw-Liga
  16. Your Cheatin' Heart
  17. Take These Chains from My Heart
  18. I Won't Be Home No More
  19. Weary Blues from Waitin'
  20. I Saw the Light

Did I listen to this album in its entirety? Did I sit down and listen to two discs of Hank Williams even though I know that Hank isn't really for me?

Yes. Yes I did.

Sort of.

You might think I cheated slightly but I gave Hank a miss this time around because a few albums ago I listened to everything Hank Williams ever did ever. His entire recorded output was captured on ten discs which I listened to four times each. I feel I've done Hank, I really do. I've paid my Hank dues and I can honestly say I've heard every song on this album because they're all in that ten discs somewhere. Granted I couldn't sing many of them for you because god knows country tends to blend into a bit of a big countrified fog when you listen to it all together like I did. It's not like Hank evolved much as an artist. When you listen to a Williams disc you're listening to pure country and not encountering his Metal phase or his flirtations with jazz fusion.

So I can tell you two things from the outset: Hank was the finest country singer of his (or possibly any) generation and gave the genre a heart and soul that made him respected by everyone in country and lots of people who weren't. He was a way into C&W for lots of people who loved other music but appreciated the fact that Williams was authentic. He was truly country but came at it from a perspective that didn't alienate people who had never seen a prairie, ridden a horse or met a sherrif.

The other thing I can tell you is that with this compilation here there was no need for Rolling Stone magazine to include the ten disc monster they inflicted on us earlier. Every single track that they included before is included here with no modification alteration or addition. If you ripped the ten discs from the Complete Hank Williams and wacked it on your MP3 player then you have this album as well.  It's an exact duplication.

If you want to know what country sounded like at its best and before it became a billion dollar industry then these two discs are waiting for you. If you can't get enough of it then there's another eight discs worth on The Complete Hank Williams.

Highlight: Your Cheatin Heart
Lowlight: My son calls another man Daddy

Influenced by: Prairies
Influenced: Country music. All country music

Favourite Amazon Customer Review Quote: "Here's another question; why don't we ever hear tragic stories about bands like Good Charlotte dying in plane crashes? Its always people like Buddy, Otis, and Skynyrd. I'm not advocating murder...but why do sucky bands never accidently meet with a tragic end and "force" us to have to do without their music?"

-Interesting, if slightly creepy, viewpoint. Thanks for sharing.

So is this enough Hank, Too much Hank or not nearly enough Hank? Let me know below.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

130 Paranoid- Oh right.

Album: Paranoid
Artist: Black Sabbath
Year: 1970
Genre: Heavy Metal


1. War Pigs
2. Paranoid
3. Planet Caravan
4. Iron Man
5. Electric Funeral
6. Hand of Doom
7. Rat Salad
8. Fairies Wear Boots

Sabbath form a trio of Heavy Metal pioneers who are loved and revered by those who love metal and even those who have a reluctant respect for it. Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple might get more radio play but for the die-hard metal fan, Sabbath are the kings who not only set the blueprint for metal music they set the blackprint for metal's image. Every group of headbangers who have ever crunched out a power chord have called upon the iconography set up by Ozzy and his bandmates back in the seventies.

Personally I've never been a big fan of Sabbath because it's all a bit too doomy. Zeppelin based themselves on the blues (and by "based on" I probably mean "stole from") and Purple tried to make Beatles music heavier but Sabbath tried to take rock and mix it with the sound of worlds ending and depression descending on someone who was already a bit grumpy. Zeppelin wanted to make love but Sabbath didn't see the point because it was all hopeless and how could anyone achieve erection when there was so much despair around.

Previous outings by Sabbath on this countdown haven't managed to convert me to their fanbase. I've enjoyed revisiting Zeppelin (Purple is strangely absent) but the Black Sabbath albums I've heard have just confirmed my apathy. Paranoid is different, Paranoid made me understand why people care.

It probably helps that their two most recognizeable songs are on side one. The title track and War Pigs are the biggest Sabbath hits and sitting down and really listening to them made me appreciate that they're great rock songs on their own. But there's more than just the big hits. Iron Man is also a great song and even Fairies Wear Boots is a good listen, it's certainly the best song about fairies and footwear that I can recall hearing.

Paranoid isn't better than other Sabbath albums because it's remarkeably different or dazzling new, it's just the band doing what they do but doing it better than they've done before or did since. The songwriting and playing is a step up from their other works and the highs are higher with fewer lows.

If you could take one Sabbath album to a desert island then this would be the one (and it wouldn't take too many listens for you to start wishing you could paint the sand black and hang something a bit dreary over all those palm trees).  It's not Metal as it became but it's rock and roll that clearly shows the genesis of what we now call metal. It's also got great songs, more than competent soloing, bluesy vocals and no flat spots.

Highlight: War Pigs
Lowlight: The cover, it's a terrible cover

Influenced by: Rock and doom
Influenced: Metal. All Metal

Favourite Amazon Customer Review Quote: "Loud, vocals are non-existent, pure noise. Rock fans are constantly putting down other genres of music, I am a pop fan, I love BSB. But so many rock fans write reviews on BSB telling us try rock in order to hear some "real" music, so I tried. Oh my gawd...I can see why now rock fans don't like order to be a rock fan one must not have a brain cell."

-It's an interesting view although it would probably have more creedence if I knew what the hell BSB was.

So are you Paranoid or are they really out to get you? Let me know below.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

131 Saturday night fever. Disco Inferno

Album: Saturday Night Fever
Artist: Various
Year: 1977
Genre: Disco


1. Stayin' Alive (Bee Gees)
2. How Deep Is Your Love (Bee Gees)
3. Night Fever (Bee Gees)
4. More Than a Woman (Bee Gees)
5. If I Can't Have You (Yvonne Elliman)
6. A Fifth of Beethoven (Walter Murphy)
7. More Than a Woman (Tavares)
8. Manhattan Skyline (David Shire)
9. Calypso Breakdown (Ralph MacDonald)
10. Night on Disco Mountain (David Shire)
11. Open Sesame (Kool & the Gang)
12. Jive Talkin' (Bee Gees)
13. You Should Be Dancing (Bee Gees)
14. Boogie Shoes (KC and the Sunshine Band)
15. Salsation (David Shire)
16. K-Jee (MFSB)
17. Disco Inferno (The Trammps)

It's worth taking a few minutes to examine how staggeringly massive this album was. It was released in 1977 and was still in the Billboard charts in 1980. That's three years as one of the biggest selling albums in the United States. It's an incredible achievement and while it might be topped by Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon (which stayed in the charts for 15 years) it spent 24 straight weeks in the number one spot (something Dark Side only managed for a single week). For almost half a year there wasn't a single album which sold more than Saturday Night Fever. It's an achievement which we don't see replicated anymore. We think an album is a monster if it tops the charts for a few weeks in a row and if something manages to stay around for more than a few months it's considered enormous.

Saturday Night Fever was such a phenomenon because it perfectly captured a movement. The movie and its soundtrack captured the spirit of the Disco craze and inspired millions to covet the white pants, jewellery and glittery lifestyle they portrayed. Meanwhile those who weren't moved by Disco were starting to coalesce into another movement inspired by a mutual loathing for all things mirror ball. Punk grew in part because of  a reaction against the bright lights and slickness that was coming out of discotheques  Saturday Night Fever deserves credit for helping to inspire Disco and Punk in equal doses, it deserves to be recognised as an important cultural moment.

Thirty years later Disco has become dance/techno/house and Punk has become whatever Greenday are so how do we judge Saturday Night Fever? How do you assess a cultural artefact now that the culture has died?

In my case not especially well, mainly because the Bee Gees are incredibly irritating. I know it's not popular to dislike them now that two of them have died and we're supposed to hail them as musical geniuses but the truth is they really were awful. That falsetto voice thing is one of the most cloying musical trends ever. Stayin Alive has a cache of kitch appeal for those who are nostalgic for an era but the rest of us it's a musical smack around the head that we could do without. The same goes for Night Fever and How Deep is Your Love which just make me shudder.

The good news is that it's not all bad. There's a great track on Saturday Night Fever called A Fifth of Beethoven which is a funky disco reworking of Beethoven's Fifth. A discofied classical music sounds like a genuinely terrible concept but the truth is it's just the right side of fun and really works. I couldn't listen to an entire album of disco classics but it works as a once off.

If you love the movie and want to relive the experience of watching it in your own home then the Saturday Night Fever Soundtrack deserves a place on your shelf. If you love Night Fever  and Stayin Alive then any of the many Bee Gees compilations have their contributions to this album without all the filler tracks that nobody really needs to hear twice. For the rest of you I'd recommend giving A fifth of Beethoven a listen and leaving the rest of it back in the 1970's.

Highlight: A fifth of Beethoven
Lowlight: Anything falsetto

Influenced by: Disco
Influenced: People who really hate disco

Favourite Amazon Customer Review Quote: "White polyester suits. The Bee Gees. John Travolta. It's all here. Be afraid. Be very afraid."

-Succinct. Very Succinct.

So did you catch the fever or not? Let me know below.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

132 The Wild, the Innocent and The E Street Shuffle. Stop right there

Album: The Wild, The Innocent and The E Street Shuffle
Artist: Bruce Springsteen
Year: 1973
Genre: Rock


  1. The E Street Shuffle
  2. 4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)
  3. Kitty's Back
  4. Wild Billy's Circus Story
  5. Incident on 57th Street
  6. Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)
  7. New York City Serenade

The Wild, The Innocent and The E Street Shuffle is Bruce Springsteen's second album and finds him in something of a transition. His first release was an attempt to replicate Dylan's style as much as possible and it showed. It sounded like someone trying to rip off Bob and listening to it only made me want to hear the original and not the poor facsimile.

Thankfully Bruce's attempts to become Dylan lasted only one album as he tried to find his own style and establish himself as an artist in his own write (sic) and not just a stylistic plagiarist  He eventually ended up as a guy who shouted a lot about the working class while wearing denim but before he got there he had this as a transitional point. It's a step he had to go through to reach the huge success he would later enjoy but personally I wish he'd stopped and lingered for a while on this road before reaching his destination. The Wild, The Innocent and The E Street Shuffle is the best Bruce album I've heard so far.

Most other Springsteen I've heard sounds like a Bruce Springsteen Album with backing supplied by musicians who might as well have been studio ring ins. Bruce is the focus and his voice rules all. On The Wild he sounds like a member of the band standing behind him. It's a group effort in which every member of the E Street Band gets some time to shine and enjoy some limelight. The other guys aren't just standing back and letting Bruce be Bruce they're taking the chance to put their own names forward as well. The result is not just a better band effort but a better Bruce. He benefits from being a member of a band instead of the lead singer who sustains the show on his own. Granted the playing itself isn't as good as he'd enjoy in the future. Springsteen handles the guitars himself and the drummer was sacked after this recording for not being up to scratch but it isn't the quality of the instrumentation that has ever attracted anyone to a Springsteen record.

Don't think for a second I'm suggesting Springsteen has a massive ego and doesn't like to share. He's a generous guy it's just impossible for modern bands to lift out of the shadow of Bruce. But back before he was a cult leader he was a member of a band and it worked. I've heard the future of Bruce after this release and I prefer this step in his career.

Highlight: The E Street Shuffle
Lowlight: New York City Serenade

Influenced by: Dylan and a desire to be less like him
Influenced: Tom Petty

Favourite Amazon Customer Review Quote: "He's The Boss. Spokeman for the underdogs and working class. Great. But it doesn't excuse the fact that he can't write a melody to save his life and he sings out of tune."

-That's definitely a bit harsh.

So does this make you go wild or do you wish it would shuffle off to somewhere else? Let me know below.

Friday, January 18, 2013

133 Ready to Die. I hope he was.

Album: Ready to Die
Artist: Biggie Smalls
Genre: Hip Hop
Year: 1994


1. Intro
2. Things Done Changed
3. Gimme the Loot
4. Machine Gun Funk
5. Warning
6. Ready to Die
7. One More Chance
8. Fuck Me (interlude)
9. The What
10. Juicy
11. Everyday Struggle
12. Me & My Bitch
13. Big Poppa
14. Respect
15. Friend of Mine
16. Unbelievable
17. Suicidal Thoughts

I have to address the elephant in the room (and I'm not talking about the fact that Biggie Smalls was an extremely large man), this album is called Ready to Die and it was recorded by a guy who died not long afterwards. A lot of people make a lot of this fact and the inherent irony which is fine but anyone making a big deal of this information should probably acknowledge that pretty much every rapper who ever lived has released a track or album with implications of death in the title and many of them are now coping with life as the parents of teenagers.

Ready to Die is a concept album and also a rap album which means I should probably hate it twice because that's two of my least favourite things right there. In fact I only hate this album once and that's due to it's rapness, and even then it's only a mild dislike, certainly much milder than my irritation at a lot of rap I've had to review so far. The concept part actually works remarkably well, probably due to the fact that it's such a simple concept. Ready to Die is the story of The Notorious BIG's life from birth, through his troubled childhood to his present situation and then beyond to suicide and death. It's not a highfalutin concept involving aliens, kings, telepathy or the impending destruction of earth by a race of pixies who eventually learn to love, such as you might find on prog-rock concepts albums. It's a down to earth examination of one man's life through his music. It's his personal journey from poverty to success and then an image of what lies in his future.

The personal nature of his journey makes Biggie's rapping more accessible than a lot of his colleagues. You have to overlook the fact that some of his poverty and hardship is embellished for personal effect (his mother is apparently annoyed at his insistence that he grew up in a one-room shack) but it still makes for compelling listening.

Smalls has received a lot of accolades for reviving east coast hip hop which I have to say I don't care about in the least, it doesn't matter to me which coast music I don't want to listen to comes from. But he's also been praised for putting out rap which raised the bar for clever wordplay and sophisticated rhyming in hip hop, which does make it easier to enjoy if you find yourself coldly distant from rap production as I always do.

Ready to Die is another rap album I don't need to hear again but if you held me at gunpoint and demanded I listen to ten rap albums from this list again it would probably be one I'd choose.

Highlight: The concept
Lowlight: (interlude)

Influenced by: Rap from a coast
Influenced: Rap from another coast

Favourite Amazon Customer Review Quote: "Biggie sucks,he only made 2 albums."

-Surely the fault lies with his murderer more than the guy himself?

So are you ready to listen or would you rather die? Let me know below

Monday, January 14, 2013

134 Slanted and Enchanted. Great title.

Album: Slanted and Enchanted
Artist: Pavement
Genre: Rock
Year: 1992


  1. Summer Babe (Winter Version)
  2. Trigger Cut/Wounded-Kite at :17
  3. No Life Singed Her
  4. In the Mouth a Desert
  5. Conduit for Sale!
  6. Zürich Is Stained
  7. Chesley's Little Wrists
  8. Loretta's Scars
  9. Here
  10. Two States
  11. Perfume-V
  12. Fame Throwa
  13. Jackals, False Grails: The Lonesome Era
  14. Our Singer

Apparently Pavement saved rock and roll. A lot of people have over the years. Rock and Roll is a bit like a 1940's movie heroine, it requires saving at regular intervals. Pavement managed to rescue Rock from whatever it is people thought was killing it in 1992 by wandering into a garage with a few tunes and some degree of musical competency and helping to create alternative rock. Today something clearly needs to save alternative rock from whatever it's become but back in the early nineties (more than twenty years ago!) Pavement used the genre we call indie rock to save non-indie rock from dark external forces.

Now that this album is 21 years old and Rock has been saved again several times (at least three of them by Jack White) what do we make of Pavement's debut album? Taken entirely out of context and viewed on its own terms is it worth hearing? Does it deserve its accolades or is it over rated when compared with the entire of Rock and not just what was happening in 1992?

Personally I struggle to understand the love for Pavement. I think it's the murk. People seem to love murk. If you read lots of reviews for Slanted and Enchanted you'll find many of them are extremely positive and many mention murk. In fact if you type "Slanted and enchanted" and "murk" into google you will come up with 3, 960 results which is a lot of murk. People discuss melodies and ideas which rise out of the murk and things that surface through the murk. My question is why does there need to be murk in the first place? What does murk add to music? If things need to rise out of it then why does it need to be there for them to rise out of? Couldn't things rise out things that were more pleasant to start with? Why can't melodies rise out of brilliance? Or surface through greatness? Why add murk to the mix? Whats up with this murk lurk?

I don't hate Slanted and Enchanted by any means but it has nothing that I look for in an album and a lot of things that I actively avoid. I'm glad it rose from the murk of early nineties music to save us from whatever was threatening rock that week but years later I don't need to hear it again.

Influenced by: Murk
Influenced: Murky things

Highlight: Here
Lowlight:  Flame Throwa

Favourite Amazon Customer Review Quote: "Goddamn, circa 1993 this album changed my life and those around me. If you haven't heard this album by now, don't even bother buying it."

-That's an odd thing to say. I've never heard anyone praise and album and then try and discourage someone from buying it.

So does the murk work for you or am I berk for going on about it? Let me know below.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

135. Elton John's Greatest hits. More Elton

Album: Elton John's Greatest Hits
Artist: Elton John
Year: 2002
Genre: Pop


1. Your Song
2. Tiny Dancer
3. Honky Cat
4. Rocket Man
5. Crocodile Rock
6. Daniel
7. Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting
8. Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
9. Candle in the Wind
10. Bennie and the Jets
11. Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me
12. The Bitch Is Back
13. Philadelphia Freedom
14. Someone Saved My Life Tonight
15. Island Girl
16. Don't Go Breaking My Heart
17. Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word

  1. Blue Eyes
  2. I'm Still Standing
  3. I Guess That's Why They Call It the Blues
  4. Sad Songs (Say So Much)
  5. Nikita
  6. Sacrifice
  7. The One
  8. Kiss the Bride
  9. Can You Feel the Love Tonight
  10. Circle of Life
  11. Believe
  12. Made In England
  13. Something About the Way You Look Tonight
  14. Written in the Stars 
  15. I Want Love
  16. This Train Don't Stop There Anymore
  17. Song for Guy

Elton John's Greatest hits is probably described somewhere as career-spanning and unlike a lot of artist compilations it (almost) is. The double disc collection starts with Your Song which was his first hit but comes from his second album (I've never heard anything from John's 1969 debut but from what I've read of it nobody else has either). It includes tracks from his 2001 release which means it gives the listener a chance to hear how John progressed throughout three decades as his went from alternative to mainstream to establishment.

Regardless of how you feel about John as a person there is something here for you to love. Despite what you might think of him as a tantrum thrower, knight of the realm, flamboyant homosexual, outspoken critic of people who aren't him, promoter of products for money, self promoter for personal gain, egotist, drug abuser, baldness denier or whatever other criticism you hurl his way, there is a song here that you enjoy to some extent.

Whether it's the outright pop of Don't Go Breaking My heart, the Musical excess of Can you Feel the Love Tonight or Circle of Life, the playful Crocodile Rock, the cartoonish Rocket Man, the shmaltz of Candle in the Wind, the eighties excesses of Nikita, or the middle of the roadness of I want Love there's a track here that you have to grudgingly admit is at least okay.

For me it's Tiny Dancer which is a catchy tune it's easy to love and hard to dislike. It was ignored when it was first released but became a popular track later in his career, especially when alternative rockers like Ben Folds latched onto it. It's just a slice of perfect pop that hasn't been overdone or overblown and hangs around in your head like a happy memory not a demon you'd pay money to exorcise.

While there's something on here for everyone there's also something to annoy every listener as well. I can't believe there is someone who can enjoy every track on both discs. The Bitch is Back and Saturday Night's alright for fighting must annoy some people who wish there was a lot more candles in a lot more wind. The eighties production in songs like Kiss The Bride, which is both disposable and annoying, must grate with a lot of people. For me the most irritating moment is actually Bennie and the Jets. There is no way I can bear hearing John scream "Bennnay! Bennay!" once, let alone over and over again.

Finally most people who are familiar with John's work would feel that there is a glaring omission somewhere that should be rectified. Personally I will never understand why anyone prefers a lot of John's songs over Madman Across The Water which is an overlooked gem and a great track that was thankfully rediscovered by the jam band community many of whom have given it a good extended live workout which does it justice.

If you cast your eyes down the tracklisting you'll probably find you know most of these songs already. You know which ones you're going to enjoy and which ones will have you reaching for the skip button with a nasty look on your face. Either way you have to respect the guy for three decades of songwriting.

Highlight: Tiny Dancer
Lowlight: Beenaaay!

Influenced by: The Beatles
Influenced: Ben Folds

Favourite Amazon Customer Review Quote: "I would never buy a Elton John cd because of the person he is so thankfully my sister bought it for me. "

-I don't understand. You won't buy his music but it's fine for other people to? So you personally disapprove but you're happy to approve by proxy? How does that work?

So are these hits great or not? Let me know below.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

136 Tim. There are some who call me.... Tim?

Album: Tim
Artist: The Replacements
Genre: Rock
Year: 1985


  1. Hold My Life
  2. I'll Buy
  3. Kiss Me on the Bus
  4. Dose of Thunder
  5. Waitress in the Sky
  6. Swingin' Party
  7. Bastards of Young
  8. Lay It Down Clown
  9. Left of the Dial
  10. Little Mascara
  11. Here Comes a Regular

Tim is a good name for an album. The Replacements are a good name for a band. There's a lot of good here but none of it is moving me.

I know I should like The Replacements. Lots of people I respect like them and I certainly like the idea of them, there is something about independent music and people who do their own thing which is definitely appealing. I also love the idea of a band who can't be categorised easily or written off as a sound-a-like. They're not really like anything else or anyone else. They're The Replacements and they're unique but I don't really like them.

I don't hate them. I don't loathe them in the way that I hate and despite other artists on the countdown but I certainly never need to listen to them again. 

I think the main problem I have is the fact that they do lots of things reasonably well but nothing brilliantly. Their songs are okay but they've never written anything I'd call a classic. They can play their instruments with a degree of competence but none of them would make a top 100 list of performers. The lead vocals sound like the most amateur of amateur garage bands which can have charm when backed by The Clash with The Clash's songwriting abilities but The Replacements just aren't The Clash.

I can't share the love but I don't feel any hatred. It's one of those releases where I just shake my head, appreciate the fact that I've taken the time to hear it and move on.

Influenced by: The Ramones
Influenced: The Indigo Girls

Highlight: Swingin Party
Lowlight: Little Mascara

Favourite Amazon Customer Review Quote: "Waitress in the Sky may have amused some back in the eighties. After 9/11 this no longer flys. And on behalf of all flight attendants, it never did."

-Slapped down by flight attendants, ouch.

So is Tim a friend of yours or a replacement for good music? Let me know below.

Monday, January 7, 2013

137 The Chronic. Oh get stuffed

Album: The Chronic
Artist: Dr Dre
Genre: Hip Hop
Year: 1992


1 The Chronic" (Intro)
2 Fuck wit Dre Day (And Everybody's Celebratin')
3 Let Me Ride
4 The Day the Niggaz Took Over
5 Nuthin' but a 'G' Thang
6 Deeez Nuuuts
7 Lil' Ghetto Boy
8 A Nigga Witta Gun
9  Rat-Tat-Tat-Tat
10 The $20 Sack Pyramid
11 Lyrical Gangbang
12 High Powered
13 The Doctor's Office
14 Stranded on Death Row
15 The Roach
16 Bitches Ain't Shit

Dear Dr Dre,

Apparently you have some kind of issue with a gentlmen by the name of Easy-E. There appears to be a dispute involving money of some kind and you harbour a considerably amount of ill will towards Mr E and those who work with him. I respect the fact that there are times in life when situations arise which cause conflict and disagreement and even those with the best intentions can't work through the situation to an amicable outcome. I myself once had a particularly grating social exchange with a neighbour which resulted in some terse words and very acrimonious glances while watering the hydrangeas I don't mind telling you.

But, and this is the reason I'm writing, at no point did I feel the need to record a record of rapid rhyming defaming my neighbour and calling him a "punk motherfucker." Apparently your level of anger at Mr E extends to wishing harm to him and indeed to his mother who I assume is entirely innocent in the dispute to which you keep alluding to.

Now my question to you Doctor Dre is why do you think I would care about your personal dispute? I don't pretend to share my personal issues with others and wouldn't dream of discussing my neighbourly disagreement with anyone else so why do you think anyone cares about yours just because you made it rhyme? Do you seriously believe you're so important that a business problem is worth sharing with the world?

While I'm taking issue why do you hate people so much? You don't appear to like women, homosexuals, the police, your former friends or anyone else for that matter. Have you ever considered the notion that perhaps the world isn't the problem? What's the common denominator in all your failed relationships? I'll give you a clue it's not Mr E. Perhaps instead of voicing your concerns into a microphone you might want to sit down and have a bit of a good hard think about your self.

I wish you all the best in your future endeavours but assure you I will make no effort to listen to them.

Highlight: None
Lowlight: Feeling like I'm being dragged into a childish dispute

Influenced by: Anger
Influenced: People to realise anger was financially rewarding

Favourite Amazon Customer Review Quote: "Dre and Eazy may have made up before Eazy's death, but Dre should have never started the War. It was Eazy, Ice Cube and MC Ren the real stars of NWA Dre was just the producer, I am down with what Dre is doing these days but back then, Dre should have realized that Eazy made him and its RUTHLESS 4 LIFE!"

-I don't care! I don't care about your petty disputes and childish squabbling!

So is this chronically good or chronically bad, let me know below.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

138 Rejuvination. A Funky metric

Album: Rejuvenation
Artist: The Meters
Genre: Funk
Year: 1974


1. People Say
2. Love Is for Me
3. Just Kissed My Baby
4. What'cha Say
5. Jungle Man
6. Hey Pocky A-Way
7. It Ain't No Use
8. Loving You Is on My Mind
9. Africa

The great thing about Funk Music is that in order to review it you just have to work out if it succeeds or fails. Funk has an attainable aim and it's possible to determine whether it falls short of it's ojcetive or achieves it with meters to spare. In fact you can even conduct a scientific test and achieve results which could be plotted on a graph of some kind. All you have to do is put a funk album on in a room full of people and watch for the reactions. Head nodding and toe tapping denotes a success. If the majority of the room is grooving in some way then you can label it a win.

Rejuvenation is definitely the kind of album that gives you rhythm. It's had heads nodding for decades and shows no sign of stopping now. Young people of today might have their newfangled tablet devices and listen to music directly from a cloud but the beat is still primal and it still moves. You could have played Rejuvenation to people in medieval times and they might have burned you as a witch but they would have been nodding in time while they did it.

But while you might tap your toes, there isn't much to make you feel overjoyed on the first side of the album. It's funk and it works but it's also a bit tepid, it doesn't really cook. The first six tracks are all short songs which have a groovy bass line but you can't help but feel the band hasn't really taken off. They've captured a tune in a few minutes but never really gone anywhere with it.

Thankfully It Aint No Use comes along with almost 12 minutes of unleashed funk jamming which lets the band cut loose and shake off the shackles of a recording studio. They're no longer laying down tracks for an album they're just jamming and being moved in ways they can't possibly resist even if they wanted to. Guitar, bass, piano and percussion all work together to propel the track into uncharted waters that groove along and demand repeated listens. It's one of those songs that you can happily listen to four times in a row just to focus on each individual player in order to see what they're doing on their own.

Sadly It Aint No Use fades out instead of giving us a big finish and then even more tragically the album returns to some lightweight, controlled funk that's a real let down after the glory of It Aint no use.

If the entire of Rejuvination was as good as its standout track this would be one of my favourite releases. As it is it's a fine example of competent funk totally overshadowed by 12 minutes of inspiration.

Highlight: It aint no use
Lowlight: Loving is for me

Influenced by: Dr John
Influenced: The Red Hot Chilli Peppers

Favourite Amazon Customer Review Quote: "If you ain't blown away by "Ain't No Use" and its extended funk workout, well, mebbe there's a history of rigor mortis in your family."

-I'd go so far as to say there's a history of rigor mortis in every family. I haven't dug up any of my ancestors to check but I'd be reasonably sure they all went fairly rigid after death.

So did this rejuvenate your or not? Let me know below.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

139. All that you can't leave behind. Falling fast.

Album: All that you can't leave behind
Artist: U2
Genre: Rock
Year: 2000


1. Beautiful Day
2. Stuck in a Moment You Can't Get Out Of
3. Elevation
4. Walk On
5. Kite
6. In a Little While
7. Wild Honey
8. Peace on Earth
9. When I Look at the World
10. New York
11. Grace

It's funny how albums can be reassessed.  I remember hearing this when it came out and being far from overwhelmed. It fits the pattern set by every other U2 album since Achtung Baby, a few good singles and a lot of filler than I never need to hear again. Beautiful Day and Elevation are strong songs and Walk On is a nice ballad. There were those who liked Stuck in a Moment but I'm definitely not one of them, it's far too cloying and plodding for me to rank it with Bono and co's best moments.

But even those who adore Stuck and the other singles can't have much to say for the rest of the album can they? In this era of skip buttons, playlists and self made compilations is there anyone who has ever bothered to listen to Wild Honey more than three times? Does anyone outside New York actually enjoy listening to New York? Can anyone remember how the chorus of When I Look at the World goes (and I'm including Bono in this question)? Of course not.

So I was wondering why Rolling Stone Magazine ranked this album so highly. What made them think there were only 138 albums better?

The answer is that they clearly got caught up in a frenzy of U2 love. They'd probably just met Bono and been charmed by him or they'd just come home from a concert and got a bit carried away. For some reason they sat in their offices shouting "I love U2!" into the stratosphere and drawing pictures of Larry Mullen Jr surrounded by love hearts. They were caught up in a moment of girly passion.

A few years later when they came to revise the list, a moment of reassessment occurred. Embarrassed looks were exchanged as people came to wonder what they were thinking. All that you Cant Leave Behind was quickly dropped 150 places or so down to 280. Suddenly there were more than twice as many albums that were better than there were before.

Personally I'd rank this album exactly equal with Pop that went before it and How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb and No Line on the Horizon that followed. They all have a few good songs and a lot of pointless filler. My self-made compilation of U2 highlights from the past twenty years makes for great listening but there's too much dead weight on this, and all their other modern albums, to make me listen to them all the way through.

Influenced by: A desire to be the biggest band in the world again
Influenced: Bloody coldplay

Highlight: Elevation or Beautiful Day
Lowlight: Filler

Favourite Amazon Customer Review Quote: "No longer they are the rebels of rock, now they are MTV darlings and Bono is a bland politician in the cover of Time magazine. "

-Were they ever the rebels of rock? Since when are four well-mannered and polite Irishmen with religious beliefs and happy marriages the rebels of rock?

So can you leave this behind or not? Let me know below.