October 26, 2007

The Olivier of Rock

The 1970s David Bowie was arguably a pretentious postmodern prima donna and a man of a numerous faces who, at his creative height, was constantly and deftly moving from one personality to another and inevitably teetering towards identity crisis, not to mention self-destruction. But, these same tendencies and characteristics helped make him perhaps one of the greatest theatrical actors of the 20th Century – up there with the likes of Barrymore, Olivier, Gielguld, Robeson, Dench, Tandy, Julie Harris and the lot.

The grandiose notions of pretense that he espoused and controlled so effectively elevated his art of acting and took him to experiment with an assortment of images, concepts, and artistic styles like few others before or since. That he did his acting in the music industry should not detract from his cultivated thespian greatness or his mastery of artifice and affectation, key elements in most type of acting and which allowed him to invent and embody so many diverse and interesting characters and to sing with so many distinct voices (and accents).

1972’s Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars is the album for which he and his rock n roll theater became internationally famous. The fictional killing of Ziggy in the final UK concert is legendary and serves as the image by which many associate this album and the title character, yet the songs themselves only loosely tell the story of the most famous rock n roll alien (all apologies to George Clinton and his Mothership). While Ziggy and his band from Mars is an interesting and novel notion that is eye-catching and represents a brilliant exercise in pop star making, what truly makes the album special is the mastery and manipulation of different stage genres, themes, and settings in an extremely cohesive and competent musical oeuvre.

Ziggy is replete with theatre and seemingly demands audience participation, not unlike some NYC cinema showing The Rocky Horror Picture Show on Halloween. “Lady Stardust” has the languidly rolling cabaret piano effect that made “Life on Mars” so dramatically moving. “Star” is made for Broadway – the essence of the musical Grease, the famous production created and released for the first time at around the same time of Ziggy. “Hang on to Yourself” is the theatre of idolatry and imitation, referencing and encapsulating Bolan’s adorable and hip-shaking rock boogie of Electric Warrior in one song. How economic! “Five Years” and “Rock n Roll Suicide” are overtly histrionic, yet are enormously captivating and inevitably moving. They provide seemingly perfect bookends and certainly set the tone for the drama, characters, and images in the body of the album. “Moonage Daydream” and, to a lesser extent, “Ziggy Stardust” are the blueprints for another realm of performance and theatrical attitude and face changing – that of glam.

Ziggy is certainly not the first in the long line of Bowie’s impressive interpretive works of the 1970s. Hunky Dory, released a year before Ziggy, also experimented in various theatric styles including the aforementioned cabaret and showtunes. What sets Ziggy apart from its predecessor, however, is its move towards a larger, more unified overall artistic concept and tone (like the setting of a stage with distinct design pieces), something that would define subsequent Bowie albums in the 1970s, from the Orwellian inspiration of Diamond Dogs to the plastic soul of Young Americans and the avant-garde and Teutonic electronic music experimentations of the Berlin series (Low, Heroes and The Lodger). One could even argue that the outer space imagery (notice four songs have the word “star” in them, while another carries the word “moon”) and glam pretences of Ziggy make it the most fantastic, overtly ambitious, and delightfully decadent of the 70s albums. The creation of the title characters and the outrageous and audacious lyrical phrasing (“I'm an alligator/I'm a mama-papa coming for you/I'm the space invader!/I'll be a rock and rollin' bitch for you!", or “There’s a starman waiting the sky/He’ll like to come and meet us/But he’s afraid he’ll blow our mind”) give the music a surrealistic, otherworldly feel, tending towards delightful and guilt free escapism, certainly a nice counterpoint to the somewhat static and drab social and economic environment of 1970s England.

Of course, I would be remiss to focus entirely or disproportionately on the fantastic and grandiose exercise in imagination and dramatic myth-building that is Ziggy. Beyond the makeup, allusions to the solar system, and pompous strut, Ziggy is bursting with great swinging and even soulful rock n roll. The great Mick Ronson guitar riffs of “Moonage Daydream” and “Ziggy Stardust” are well known and have been commented on countless times. And, the sped up Lou Reed NYC swagger with the Elton John/Little Richard rock piano in “Suffragette City” has fed classic rock radio for years now. But, how about the steady, swaying, and seemingly effortless groove between the loud outbursts of guitar-led insistence of the chorus on the song “Soul Love”? A most friendly tune made even more captivating by its internal heterogeneity. The backing singing on the album, often by Bowie himself, in the chorus parts is also noteworthy as they provide some sublimely soulful moments. Check out the “ohh, ohh, ohh’s” in the background of the overdubbed chorus vocals of Bowie in the aforementioned “Moonage Daydream”. They provide the melodic soul that drifts and elevates and, not unlike the elements of “Soul Love”, creates a catchy contrast with the raucous blasts of guitars as Bowie screams “Freak out in a Moonage Daydream, oh yeah!” The energetic, earnest, and proud chorus of “It Ain’t Easy”, carried in part by a gliding slide guitar and the sound reminiscent of early 1970s southern rock of the States, is yet another example of the pure rock groove and soul of the album. In sum, the sound of Ziggy still holds its weight today despite the somewhat dated image gimmickry associated with the album.

Rolling Stone magazine has listed Ziggy and the Spiders from Mars as number 35 on its list of the 500 greatest rock n roll albums of all-time. Considering the prolific and high quality – not to mention flat out influential – album output of Bowie in 1970s and taking into account that Ziggy is what really put Bowie on the pop and rock map, the number 35 seems ridiculously low. Perhaps the album Low could vie for serious top 20 consideration for its tremendous influence on later music trends and artists, but a safer bet for the rather conservative and traditionalist Rolling Stone would be Ziggy, an album that along with its predecessor, Hunky Dory, helped usher in an extremely innovative period for Bowie and, more generally, in rock n roll (see explanatory footnote below). Indeed, the 1970s production (and later influence) of Bowie rivaled the amazing streaks of creativity of both the Stones and Beatles, both of which benefit from numerous albums each in the Rolling Stone top 30. In this light, then, number 35 for Ziggy seems rather unjust.

Admirers of Bowie can take refuge in the fact that he almost single-handedly spearheaded his own artistic zenith, whereas groups like the Beatles and Stones relied upon more than one person. Of course, given the dramatic shifts in character, sound and vision (to almost borrow the title from one of his songs) that he almost continually sought, Bowie was mostly and inevitably a one man theatrical show with a relegated supporting cast. Top billing for their great interpretive art is what the Gielgud’s and Olivier’s received. Logically, then, Bowie deserved the same.

Footnote: Despite the ongoing excesses of 70s Cali singer-songwriter rock and stadium rock, the 1970s also marked a period of stimulating and influential – although less popular – experimentation, part of it inspired by the works of Bowie and Eno, among others.
click here to
read it all...

October 25, 2007

I Blame Andrew Lloyd Webber

Jareth the King of NarniaZiggy Stardust's lyrics and themes brim with so much preposterous ridiculousness that they must constitute some kind of gleeful in-joke. As in "if you aimed to find a message or a story here then the joke's on you".

Well, I tried to find a point and er, I get it, Ziggy is Christ. The world's about to end. Christ's reign has come.

The album then, chronologically, "kiss(es) the feet of a priest", then a "son give his life to save", "Love descends", and "my God on high is all love,". But Love isn't the only thing descending. Here comes Ziggy telling us that "the church of man, is such a holy place to be" and that "There's a starman waiting in the sky, he'd like to come and meet us, but he thinks he'd blow our minds".

And right here's where I turned off the lyrics, left Narnia, and began ignoring Bowie's Aslan. This must have been Bowie's intention because right then he started talking to me. "Just listen to the tunes," he mystically beckoned. "They're the real deal." I restarted the disc and ignored the schmaltz. He was right, the song's really are the thing.

But why the Christ-as-a-Spaceman thing? "You see," my imaginary Bowie replied, "I was out of ideas so I copied the theme from Jesus Christ Superstar. It was 1971, that show was the biggest thing in the theatre. People loved its silly plot; they took it as important and deep and filled with a real message. I figured, 'why not', Andrew Lloyd Webber's got nothing on me. I got better tunes."

Of course he did. Most of the melodies rise with rapture and beckon to the masses. Suffragette City, Starman, It Ain't Easy, Lady Stardust, Ziggy Stardust; all perfect tunes, perfect melodies, perfect driving rushes. The other songs though - the thematic bridges, the story advancers - I can't really get into. I blame Andrew Lloyd Webber.
click here to
read it all...

October 22, 2007

Double Nickels on the Dime

Double Nickels on the Dime, The Minutemen, Rolling Stone Magazine's #411

Double Nickels on the Dimeexile staff consensus: Top 400 album

the breakdown:
3.5 cannons - venerableseed
3.0 cannons - lenbarker
2.0 cannons - polchic and eurowags
1.0 cannon - angryyoungman

the essays:
- And our last post about these two albums is Dave's tale of glue ear, hippies, erotic sandwiches, John Goodman, and laundromat theft. (I bet you've clicked (or scrolled down) already.

10/19 - First time poster Audrey has a terrific zinger about the essence of Double Nickels: driving around, youth, and, er, other bodily essences.

10/16 - Then comes my personal Double Nickels lament.

10/12 - First up is Mr. Barker's terrific look at Double Nickels and its '80's emo punk brother-in-arms Zen Arcade.

the introduction (done with the Funkadelic's Maggot Brain):
After a week of OK Computer's numbing familiarity (a/k/a no alarms and no surprises) the next two albums, Funkadelic's Maggot Brain and the Minutemen's Double Nickels on the Dime are sure to jolt us back to their disparate realities. Just how disparate? Lets just look at the raw facts:

DNotD: San Pedro, California
MB: Parts unknown

Band Members:
DNotD: Three permanent members. Drums, Guitar, Bass
MB: Too many to count

Album Length:
DNotD: 81 minutes
MB: 37 minutes

Number of Songs:
DNotD: 45
MB: 7

Average Song Length (Longest Song):
DNotD: 1:46 (3:05)
MB: 5:15 (10:20)

And that's before we get into the sound, the politics, the album covers, the spirit, the time, the genres, the dance-ability, the audience, the attitude, and the legacy.

Despite all their surface differences, these albums both rock, are both underappreciated, and have both become wonderful treasures for legions of devoted fans. They both also carry on the message of the forthcoming apocalypse that OK Computer began so well.

Why else did we connect the two? Believe or or not Minutemen bassist Mike Watt covered Maggot Brain's title track on his own debut solo album, with J Mascis on guitar and Funkadelic's own Bernie Worrell on keyboards. (We'd be a lot prouder of our combo if we'd have known that fact before the choice was made.)

click here to
read it all...

It's All In How You Get There

Yes, Double Nickels rocks, you dumbass. You'd have to be afflicted with glue ear to not recognize that. It wasn't easy for me to figure it out myself, though, since I came to Double Nickels by way of fifteen years and a friend's gift card.

I ran with a pretty strange crowd during my freshman year in college. I met a number of folks at the new student orientation, none of whom seemed to have anything in common, and many of us ended up on the same floor in the dorms. There was the hippie transfer student, the football player who hoped to transfer to Emporia State to play after he failed at walk-on tryouts, the big-toothed virgin and his hiphop-obsessed midget roommate, and the deadhead. It was a motley group that somehow figured out how to get along by drinking and destroying property. But I digress.

Through the hippie, Chris, I met another hippie, Shana. Cute girl who self-identified as being a Jew despite being raised Baha'i. I'm not sure that it is even remotely relevant to this tale, but I always found it interesting. I don't remember the introduction much or what we did that night, but the evening came to a close with Shana looking for a place to stay. I thought she was cool and I was kinda interested in her, but another guy seemed a bit more into her and so she left with him. More specifically, she told me she needed a place to stay and I wasn't too aggressive in making my pitch.

Later on, she told me that she knew that she was going to sleep with one of us, which might have been her way of flirting with me, except it just made me think that she might have been the village bicycle. In any case, fast forward a week or two and they were an item. I quickly became the third wheel who had to listen to the guy talk about how her butt was so nice that he wanted to eat a sandwich off it. Just think of what I missed out on.

Shana's beau, whose name totally escapes me, introduced me to some really amazing music: Muddy Waters, Suicidal Tendencies, Infectious Grooves, and a few other funky things. Then he dropped Mike Watt on me and fIREHOSE and The Minutemen. And here I was listening to the Singles soundtrack and putting "Would?" on repeat. We got along well, despite my earnest comment to him that the celebrity he most resembled was John Goodman. He didn't appreciate that much. I made tape copies of all the stuff he shared with me and I perfected my ability to redraw album covers and band logos on cassette inserts.

Over time, I stopped listening to tapes and lost touch with Shana and her man. I heard that they got married, so I bet they've enjoyed dozens of sandwiches together. And, I never forgot about some of the music that I heard back then. The Minutemen were always on the list of bands I wanted in my collection, but they never hit the top of my list and I never found any of their stuff when I checked out used CD stores. Then, recently, a friend of mine who happens to know a great deal more about music than I, came into a gift card. And, as luck would have it, he too was interested in the Minutemen, so he got himself a copy of Double Nickels. Yes, that means I soon had my copy too. And from there, well, I was finally able to say that I learned something during freshman year - The Minutemen rock. I did also learn how to rip off coin-operated laundromats, but I don't think my parents would consider that to be knowledge.

A chance encounter, fifteen years of waiting, and a bit of electronic piracy all came to aid me in my journey to one of the greatest rock albums of all time. I wouldn't have it any other way.

I'm not going to bother commenting on the other album outside of saying that I think it is bloated masterpiece of boredom. It can't keep me awake on my evening commute, which is the measuring stick I use for these albums. Can it make me feel something other than feeling like a beaten down working stiff? In the case of Maggot Brain, the answer is no.
click here to
read it all...

Maggot Brain

Maggot Brain, Funkadelic, Rolling Stone Magazine's #486

Maggot Brainexile staff consensus: Top 500 album

the breakdown:
3.5 cannons - lenbarker
2.0 cannons - angryyoungman, venerableseed, and eurowags
1.0 cannon - polchic

the essays:
10/18 - LenB is up again with his more complimentary take on Maggot Brain along with a 1983 video performance of the title track done from Columbia, Maryland.

- Its me again: tell us what you really think about Maggot Brain.

- Next up the Ancient Scientist's Rising from the Sh!t: Is a guitar solo enough for canonization? Well, is it?

the introduction (done with the Minutemen's Double Nickels on the Dime):
After a week of OK Computer's numbing familiarity (a/k/a no alarms and no surprises) the next two albums, Funkadelic's Maggot Brain and the Minutemen's Double Nickels on the Dime, are sure to jolt us back to their disparate realities. Just how disparate? Lets just look at the raw facts:

DNotD: San Pedro, California
MB: Parts unknown

Band Members:
DNotD: Three permanent members. Drums, Guitar, Bass
MB: Too many to count

Album Length:
DNotD: 81 minutes
MB: 37 minutes

Number of Songs:
DNotD: 45
MB: 7

Average Song Length (Longest Song):
DNotD: 1:46 (3:05)
MB: 5:15 (10:20)

And that's before we get into the sound, the politics, the album covers, the spirit, the time, the genres, the dance-ability, the audience, the attitude, and the legacy.

Despite all their surface differences, these albums both rock, are both underappreciated, and have both become wonderful treasures for legions of devoted fans. They both also carry on the message of the forthcoming apocalypse that OK Computer began so well.

Why else did we connect the two? Believe or or not Minutemen bassist Mike Watt covered Maggot Brain's title track on his own debut solo album, with J Mascis on guitar and Funkadelic's own Bernie Worrell on keyboards. (We'd be a lot prouder of our combo if we'd have known that fact before the choice was made.)

Poll Results
is Maggot Brain's title track:
pantheonic - 75%
overindulgent - 37%
so amazing - 25%
unending (in a good way) - 12%
unending (in a bad way) - 37%
click here to
read it all...

October 18, 2007

Easy Erections and Body Funk

I have a lot to learn from this little music appreciation experiment and it was never so evident to me before today. I listened to part of Double Nickels on the Dime for the first time this morning and was transported from toolin' around the suburbs in the family Prius (going well under 55 in our area traffic) to places more varied. I can't play this music around the young'uns (the 3 1/2 year old can already wield "Goddammit!" like a spear, he doesn't need these guys adding to his vocabulary) and so there was a special indulgence to sitting at an interminable red light, behind a blue VW Beatler, hearing these songs that sounded like the essence of young men, all easy erections and body funk. Sometimes they want to impress a girl, so they pull their act together, as in Cohesion. Sometimes they don't much care.
click here to
read it all...

October 17, 2007

The Heavy Sh!t

Maggot Brain oozes forth its greatness from all orifices. The title track guitar solo alone works on an impressive number of levels: eulogy for Hendrix; Eddie Hazel's signature track; the cries of our dying mother earth; and, certainly, the mourning over a dead mother followed by a suprise reunion that Hazel imagined to spur his playing on this work.

First, some trippy delay effects bring in George Clinton's spooky spoken word intro, and we know something huge is coming. Next we have Bernie come in with those four moving chords, and I love the snare with the delay effects. When Eddie does come in, his wah is cocked to a perfect point for his first few riffs, before he starts to work it up and down as some tasteful studio doubling, reverb, and delay sweetens it all up. He proceeds to go off for a while, his guitar singing to us about his dead mother with gut wrenching impact for several minutes until, his last tears squeezing out, he sees her coming towards him, and is reunited with her. Sounds to me like he is simultaneously overjoyed to see her and furious that he has been put through all of this, an octave fuzz giving us the higher octave along side his fretted ntoes to show what these two different-pitched souls are enduring together. Clinton speaks again, exhorting us: "Come on, maggot brain; go, maggot brain", before we hear the last few licks trailing off. Not for everyone, but, as a Hendrix-worshipping guitar player, it's irresitably moving to me.

Afterwards, "Can You Get to That" brings some bouncy relief, but then "Hit It And Quit It" has to come and kick our butts again, this time with a sick Hazel riff. Play this one loud to fully appreciate how badass it is when the whole band kicks in. If you don't dig it, then get a new stereo.

"You and Your Folks, Me and My Folks" reprises the "Can You Get to That" riff, and with meat like "Hit and Quit It" in between those two slices, it makes for one damn great sandwich in the middle of this tasty meal called Maggot Brain (so appetizing!).

"Super Stupid" rocks like all hell, and "Back in Our Minds" stands perilously close to sucking with its loud percussion instrument. I can't remember what that thing is called, but I have played in a couple of bands with percussionists who had 'em, and they never found a good use for them, except to annoy their bandmates in between songs at rehearsals. Clinton manages to make it work, though: listening to the way the high pitched, modulating thing is rolling over the rest of the tune packs plenty of entertainment for this brief tune.

The full band jam of "Wars of Armageddon" is a perfect end for an album that started off with the sparse "Maggot Brain" making the whole thing feel almost like a concept album that had been building up to this point, but, really, this track, while pretty good, does not have nearly the impact of "Maggot Brain", so it's almost fitting when they just blow the whole thing up. . .but that snippet of the band launching back into it at the end lets us know that not even "Armageddon" can stop this funk. Excellent final touch on this classic!

So, yeah, I'm sold on the greatness of this album and its place in history. It's great to see Bernie Worrell and George Clinton still out there doing it, and I particularly love how Worrell has been embraced by the jamband community, whether with his own band the Woo Warriors or jamming with Gov't Mule or Les Claypool, since there seems to be more people trying to play funk within that scene than anywhere else these days, and I know that they all appreciate the presence of the master. I sure as hell have loved seeing him at some festivals where my band has played, and I will always regret being too ill to stick around to see my band's keyboardist jam with him on stage one night. If Maggot Brain is a state of mind, as Clinton claims, then one day I hope to tap into it just long enough to unleash one great guitar solo; until then, I'll keep on practicing for that day, whenever it may arrive.
click here to
read it all...

Exit Mothership

Maggot BrainMother. That's Maggot Brain's first word and it's no mothership. It's Mother Earth, earth, mother, earth mother, old earth. The Mother is the earth and she's dirty, grimy, funky, pregnant and bursting. There's no water on this album, no air (aside from some human flatulence), and no fire.

The cosmic powers here are all terrestial. When George Clinton speaks of drowning it's in sh!t, not water. The refrains speak of roaches and rats while cows moo and monkeys howl at Armageddon. We hear a cuckoo clock; no flying animals could ever really exist. Armageddon, in fact doesn't come from the sky or from the ocean, it comes from Mother Earth's womb. After the requisite bomb sound we hear: "it's a (bad? fat? fad?) funky person." Whatever that means.

Maggot Brain is impossibly dirty and disgusting. It revels in its stink. Its spoken words all aim to disturb and revolt. The album never cares and it doesn't even believe in its own Armageddon. Which is, as the album's most memorable moment broadcasts, the "power of the pussy," the power of the mother, the power of the Earth. George's swift dismissal of his own album is "more pussy for the power."

Of course that's his reaction. Of course he told Eddie Hazel to play his guitar solo like his mother just died. Of course it's about control. Control of his mother earth. Of course Maggot Brain attempts to disgust and disturb in the most puerile of ways. And of course it succeeds.
click here to
read it all...

October 16, 2007

Double Nickels Killed My mp3 Player

Broken mp3Double Nickels on the Dime broke my mp3 player. That's my theory. All I know is that the LCD screen is now all white and it doesn't play the songs I want.

It was working fine before I uploaded Double Nickels and its endless litany of songs. But I uploaded anyway. Then I put the little machine on shuffle and guess what. Every other song was by the Minutemen. I guess the odds were good.

This wasn't a match made in heaven. It didn't matter how much I liked or disliked the album it was going to take over the shuffle. Bust my grove, change my mood, seep into my mind, and then, right when I might just be getting into a song, it would end. Just like that. End. And I would be back to something more, um, familiar.

Double Nickels was never meant to be listened in mp3 format. Heck, the CD release came in 1987 three years after the vinyl had been released and two years after the band's tragic end. The music was never supposed to be shuffled or disposable. It was Important and Defiant and Urgent and Necessary. To this day the album still hasn't received a proper CD release (one that includes all the vinyl's songs) and the prospects don't look great.

No, Double Nickels seems fixed in the past and fixed in its Reagan-era, cassette listening, 55 miles-per-hour speed limit milieu. Music doesn't sound like this anymore, it doesn't feel like this anymore, and it doesn't act like this anymore. The low budget, badge-of-honor-just-to-get-it-to-run first-generation Volkwagen Beetle Mike Watt drives on the cover is now dead replaced by the $17,000 girl-car New Beetle. mp3 player standard.
click here to
read it all...

October 14, 2007

Rising from the Sh!t

Maggot BrainAmazing what a guitar solo can do for a record's reputation. I mean, when your friends ask you for the prototypical face-melting guitar solo, just put on Maggot Brain's title track. It's all set up by Clinton providing the necessary philosophical context, about rising from the sh!t of the earth. That's what rock can be, finding something celestial in the mundane. And Eddie Hazel's solo takes you on that trip: it starts off sad, despondent, a lamentation, and then, still in the same seam, about halfway through it elevates and becomes triumphant. It's a real spiritual thing, bringing tears to the stoned for decades, I'm sure.

I can talk about the solo for days. It's in the pantheon, Eddie Hazel the black Jimmy Page. The rest of the record... not so much. I mean, the second track is a funk hippie gospel rave-up structured around acoustic guitars (FUNKY acoustic guitars) and a rising girl chorus, and after tracks #1 and #2 you think this is going to be one of the best records of all time. Then things slow down. I mean, it stays funky and loose and far from uptight, but it is just a bit scattered, and it doesn't work quite as well.

So I guess we should talk about whether this deserves to be on a greatest list, and historical significance and whatnot. I mean, what makes Funkadelic so exciting? On this album, they seem like hippies to me. This is a committed, fried, acid-head psychedelic record, really, but with an exciting black twist. "Wars of Armageddon," the sound collage freak-out that ends the record, is really like a lot of other efforts, and not as good as those of the Beatles or the Deviants (not on this list... a tragedy) or others. I personally think that they're still finding their sound here, and that the later records really display Funkadelic at their Funkadelic-est. As an announcement of purpose, this must have been exciting, rawer and rock-bandier than Sly and the Family Stone, less ego-y than Hendrix, looser and funkier than Led Zeppelin, more blue collar than the Pink Floyd, more American than Black Sabbath. But they would get better...

... except for the guitar solo. Nothing would get better than that. In fact, when people talk about this record, they inevitably talk about the guitar solo, the story behind it (Clinton told Hazel to "play like your mother just died.") It's sort of like people always talk about tilting at windmills when they talk about Don Quixote - that happens in like the first 50 pages, which I suspect is all that people read. I think people listen to the first 2 tracks, and then they are just so blown away that the rest doesn't matter. Maybe that's the right reaction, really, but I want a little more for a rock canon.
click here to
read it all...

October 11, 2007

Double Nickels for the Zen Arcade

Double Nickels on the DimeI like Double Nickels on the Dime. Heard it for the first time last week, and it's still growing on me as I'm listening to it again while writing this post. I definitely admire the hell out of what those three dudes pulled off on it, and it sucks that D. wasn't around much longer afterwards. Mike Watt's playing is amazing here, too, as is drummer George Hurley's. I probably would have gotten really into this band, if I had heard them when I was younger, say, around the age of 13, the age that I was when I heard Husker Du's Zen Arcade for the first time.

The story goes that hearing about Zen Arcade inspired the Minutemen, who were labelmates of Husker Du, to expand a single album that they had been planning on releasing into the 40+ track behemoth that became Double Nickels on the Dime, and I am glad that it did, because I am really digging this album now that I'm finally checking it out. However, I am not so glad that Zen Arcade was left off of the Rolling Stone list that inspired this blog. Sure, they voted Husker Du's New Day Rising onto the list, and it's a pretty good album, just not as great as the neglected Zen Arcade.

I had grown up enjoying poseur band like Kiss and Twisted Sister, but seeing and hearing Motley Crue's video for "Smoking in the Boys Room" drove me away from all of it. Thanks to that lameass cover, I went from "Metal rules!" to "Metal sucks!" in a short span of time. Then, a few years later, one sunny summer afternoon in 1988, after I had embraced '60s and '70s "classic rock" and almost completely abandoned '80s music, a then-four-year-old Zen Arcade came into my life and showed me that there was still some great hard rock being released well into the '80s. I popped a dubbed cassette of the album into my cheap walkman in my tent at camp and had my mind blown. In addition to being floored by their diversity, I was shocked by the evident honesty and passion, which the cold dance pop and pop metal dominating the airwaves at the time sorely lacked. "Something I Learned Today", "Broken Home, Broken Heart", "Never Talking to You Again", "Dreams Reoccurring", "I'll Never Forget You", "Turn on the News", "Reoccurring Dream"; yeah, Mould and his band sure as hell did it for me.

After hearing Zen Arcade, I was more receptive to the idea that post-Zep hard rock bands didn't have to suck, which sounds ridiculous, but, listen man, the suckiness of the Crue, Bon Jovi, Poison, and their ilk had scarred me bad. It took something as great as Zen Arcade to knock some sense into me, so I can't help but be disappointed that it didn't make the list along with its sister album.

And, yes, I'm cool with Double Nickels on the Dime being on the list. It features that same diversity, passion, and honesty that won me over on Zen Arcade, and, had I heard Double Nickels on the Dime that summer afternoon instead, it probably would have left a similar impression on me. I'm just grateful that somebody lent me one of 'em, at least.

Unfortunately, around that time, somebody also played an S.O.D.: Stormtroopers of Death album for me, which I didn't understand was a gag and despised. Due to the brevity of their tunes, I labored under the misconception that they had been the Minutemen for a long time afterwards and, as a result, never checked out the real deal. Oh well, better late than never!
click here to
read it all...

October 9, 2007

OK Computer

OK Computer, Radiohead, Rolling Stone Magazine's #162

exile staff consensus: Top 50 album

the breakdown:
5.0 cannons - lenbarker
4.5 cannons - angryyoungman, venerableseed and eurowags
4.0 cannons - polchic

the essays:
Me: Hysterical and Useless. Is there ever a time to say no?
LB: Kicking Screaming Raving Drooling. Is Radiohead our Pink Floyd?
Dave#1: OK Krupka. How does obsessive fandom (see first article) affect those who just don't get it. Let's just hope he changed her name to protect the innocent.
AYM: Exit Music (for a Dodge Neon). Technological angst revealed.
Wags: Out With the Old. Read how OK Computer opened up a new world.
Gab: This is What You'll Get. Understanding what it means.

Who doesn't own this album? It's one of the defining LP's of our generation, it's ubiquitous in Greatest Albums of All Time lists and immediately recognized as brilliant and ahead of its time. But what about the stunning, meaningful, apocalyptic, complex, baroque, moving, abstract but wholly relate-able music. Can you listen to it 10 years later for enjoyment? Could you ever? Let's see...
click here to
read it all...

October 8, 2007

This Is What You'll Get

“He wants you to translate for him. What does it mean?”

“You mean the words? He wants to know the words of the song?”

“No. he knows the words. He wants to know what they mean. He doesn’t understand what they mean.”

We listened for days in a tiny basement apartment in Warsaw. Karma Police in particular was on a constant loop that should have burned a hole in the pirated cassette. All of us transfixed, none of us really understanding Thom Yorke’s verbal message. I was the native speaker – what was my excuse? But we all felt it in the chords. The urgency, the indescribable yet delicious pain, the immediacy of the moment. This moment. Right now. It would never happen again.

In Poland almost everyone lived at home with their parents, so if you had a flat of your own, it was fair game. You may have had the great idea to host the after party when the clubs closed. Days later, you would still find partygoers on your couch and rifling through your fridge as you were getting ready for work.

That’s what happened to Frank, a French expat who was never clear about his “job” in Poland. That weekend, I was one of the stragglers. But my train back to Wroclaw wouldn’t leave for several hours and I was supplying the soundtrack and making tea so he didn’t complain.

I didn’t know that Ok Computer was a worldwide hit. Even when the Polish Tower Records, Empik, carried them, the NME and Melody Maker were rare and expensive indulgences. And the only use I had for the Internet was in the ten minutes it took me to check my newly created hotmail account at the internet café. I knew that I loved The Bends and that the guy outside the train station had the new Radiohead tape for 10 zloty (a steal! Literally).

When our ears were still ringing with bad techno, I had offered up my new purchase as a sound alternative. That was early Saturday morning. By Monday afternoon there were just a few of us still lingering, still listening. Frank had given up hope of throwing us out. Kaczor and I shared the space closest to the stereo.

Kaczor was beautiful. A confused thug who thought he needed to look tougher so he shaved his head earlier in the weekend. Only it had the opposite effect. He now looked angelic, naïve, and more desperate, if that was possible. It was a desperation that could get dangerous, particularly after sleepless nights. Despite his beauty, if I hadn’t known Kaczor, I would have crossed a dark street to avoid him, especially if he were surrounded by his peers. That morning, he was alone and he looked it. I knew he had nothing to go home to and would have liked, more than anything, for those moments safe and quiet in the basement flat, to last a little longer.

Kaczor asked me again, directly this time, “So what does it mean?”

I did what I always did as an inexperienced English teacher. I made something up, something that would fit the limited Polish I would have to use to explain it.

“He’s bothered by people that don’t make sense. He doesn’t want to be around people that make him miserable. It makes him crazy.”

Sweet Kaczor. He nodded at my translation. Completely satisfied.
click here to
read it all...

Out With The Old

OK Computer was the album that woke me up, shook me, and made me giddily excited about current music. Until then, I had been in almost permanent class rock, R&B and old school hip hop rewind.

I first heard it while living in Ecuador in early 1998. At the time, I was listening mainly to tapes of several rock classics, including Synchronicity, The Joshua Tree, The Allman’s Brother and Sisters, and a compilation of Bob Marley tracks from Catch a Fire, Burning, and Natty Dread. (Yeah, I had managed a couple of more recent fare, like Portishead’s second and eponymous album, but a few listens to it on the first lonely nights in the capital encouraged me to put it to the side for a long while in the name of my own sanity and survival.)

I wasn’t totally oblivious to the current Anglo-American music landscape. The Spice Girls’ “Spice Up Your Life”, Chumbawanmba’s “Tubthumping”, and The Verve’s “Bittersweet Symphony” were the tunes being spun on the Ecuadorian pop radio. Clearly, then, I was not a total social reject, but I was certainly a long ass way from hipsterness. For some reason, I had not heard the new album from Radiohead, a band that I was familiar with only by name, probably for “Creep”.

My introduction to the album came through a US study abroad student who was also renting a room in the apartment of my Ecuadorian host family. One day he showed me what seemed to be a very intriguing collection of current music, although I had to bashfully admit that I was rather unfamiliar with most of it. He kindly offered to play me some tracks from his favorite albums at the time. All of it was rather entertaining and offered nice background noise as we chatted about various subjects, but it wasn’t until he put on OK Computer that I started to really take notice. I quickly asked if I could get a copy on tape and he generously obliged.

Enclosed by myself in my room at night, I started to listen to this new music that had so caught my attention. I was immediately transfixed; I was left marveling at the beautiful, remote, and floating tonalities created by the diverse guitars and Thom Yorke on songs like “Air Bag”, “Karma Police”, “No Surprises”, and “Let Down”. Songs like “Paranoid Android” and “Climbing Up the Walls” threw me into a joyous fit of excitement and sustained attention, provoking thoughts and feelings of controlled rage and social protest. By the end of it all, I was left in utter amazement at what my ears had just heard. Why had I not been aware of this before? Where had this music and this band come from?

Shortly after, I started to realize that I wasn’t the only one to notice. MTV Latin America was playing the “Paranoid Android” video regularly. I saw a cover of Rolling Stone – 1997 year in review issue, I believe – featuring them on the front or a key article on them. The secret was out, and while one part of me wished that this music was just for me and a select group, I was simultaneously thrilled to see how universally embraced this album was – sort of that “I knew it” sensation of self pride.

In the ensuing weeks and months, OK Computer became my top and perhaps only spin on my walkman. I was completely sold on the greatness of this album and band, so much so that I seemingly forgot about the other music in my abbreviated collection. Better said, the other stuff seemed a bit tired and irrelevant at that point. Before leaving Ecuador and heading to Chile, I distinctly remember giving my cassettes of The Police, U2, Marley and company to friends and how easy it was to part with them. Somehow, OK Computer was all I needed and all I could talk about. My Chilean housemate, Chris, must have noticed because he would jokingly jibe that OK Computer was a cheap derivative of Bauhaus and nothing more.

But, I was not to be swayed in my thinking. This was the best album that I had heard in a long time and certainly the best of the 1990s. The emotional intensity and the utter conviction of the overall sound were astonishing. The album was pure catharsis.

Looking back, I realize how OK Computer marked the beginning of my quest to seek out new and more diversified current music. Back in the US, the Radiohead web page, music criticism pages like pitchforkmedia.com, and independently owned record stores were my new and frequent destinations. My mission was clear: I had to be extra attentive for I couldn’t let the next OK Computer come out without me realizing for so long again.
click here to
read it all...

October 5, 2007

Exit Music (For a Dodge Neon)

Ok Computer (which I am listening to right now - I'm going to make it a habit to post while I'm listening to each album) reminds me of my first car. Well, not my first car ever, but the first car I ever bought with my own money (which, so far, I have only done twice) and also the first new car that I ever owned. It came out around the same time I bought my 1997 Dodge Neon. I was trying to save money so I went with the cassette deck option (and also the 72-month loan instead of 60, which I think cost me money in the end but I was all about the lower monthly payments) and on the strength of "Karma Police" I borrowed someone's CD (cannot remember whose for the life of me) and made a tape of OK Computer to listen to in the Neon.

It was one of only 3 or 4 tapes I ever got around to making, and I spent a lot of time in that car, so I listened to it over and over. Actually, I listened to track 6-12 over and over. Tracks 1-5 were on one side of the tape and 6-12 were on the other. Although I was in the car a lot, it wasn't often for long enough to listen to a whole album so I frequently rewound Side 2 and listened to "Karma Police" through the end over and over. And over. Tracks 6-12 were my soundtrack for a lot of late night, aimless drives around the Washington Beltway in the late 90s.

Once I sold that Neon to my sister in 2002 I didn't have any means of playing cassettes and I never got around to getting it on CD. I guess I had listened to it enough to hold me over for years because it wasn't until I got my Zune last Christmas and got all of my music organized onto my computer that I bothered to download it and listen to it again. It's great listening to it again, but I can't imagine ever getting on a kick again where I listen to it often. It's too fixed in time for me. Or something.
click here to
read it all...

October 4, 2007

OK Krupka

This album sucks. Not because Thom Yorke is so ugly you'd swear one of his parents must have been a barnyard animal. Not because his sleepy eye thing makes your skin crawl. Not even because Radiohead kicked open the door to a million crappy bands using machines to create something that isn't even close to music. OK Computer sucks because of Christine Krupka.

Christine was a bespeckled, lanky dork that I knew at my first job after college. We shared an office, she playing the role of favorite and me playing the role of guy the boss couldn't care less about. I liked her in that "glad we share an office, but I wouldn't hang with you outside of work" way. Although, I have to admit I did once have a beer with her at a local bar in an attempt to set her up with a friend of mine who seemed hard up. I kept her on her toes by peppering our daily conversation with all manner of sexual innuendo, dumb insults, and friendly namecalling. She was very talented at making sh!tty one-color brochures that advertised classes in turfgrass management and wastewater treatment. And, despite her inability to match her tops with her ankle length skirts, she was pretty damn smart.

While Christine was busying herself deferring her matriculation at Yale Law School so she could keep getting paid crap wages and winning regional educational marketing awards, she was also cultivating her indie cred by reading Spin and talking about the new bands she was into. I was still into loads of grunge and alt country stuff at the time, so I didn't exactly have anything nice to say when she made me listen to Kula Shaker. Then, one morning, she comes into the office and can't shut the f@ck up about OK Computer. You know, just regurgitating whatever the hell she read in the reviews as if she had formed these insights on her own. I wanted to choke myself to death every time she brought it up.

I had enjoyed Radiohead up to that point. "Creep" was a decent single, I thought, despite what the speed-metal loving bassist in my band thought. And, I had actually purchased The Bends. But, you know how it goes. When someone like Krupka becomes enamored with a new album, you just can't like the damn thing. So, despite how good this album might be, I have never really given it a chance. I can't even see the cover without thinking of her and those damn brochures.

I will admit that as the years passed and the buzz of Krupka's chatter faded, I did find some appreciation for OK Computer - at least it isn't as retarded as Kid A.
click here to
read it all...

Kicking Screaming Raving Drooling

One of my college roommates used to make fun of another roommate for buying Radiohead's first album, Pablo Honey, on the strength of the single "Creep". The dismissive derider thought that Radiohead was clearly a one hit wonder on the tail end of the grunge phenomenon and would never be heard from again. Although I liked "Creep" well enough, I never bothered to listen to the album nor did I muster a counterargument. For all that I could tell, he was right.

A little while later, I heard a different acquaintance's copy of their second album, The Bends, and was shocked by how good it was, but I was too proud to go out and buy my own copy of it, because I didn't respect this dude's taste in music enough to allow myself to be so directly influenced by him! So I continued to resist becoming a Radiohead fan until I heard the undeniably great "Karma Police" and "Paranoid Android" and just had to finally purchase this wonderful CD. I still remember where and when I made that purchase and recall that day whenever I pass by the store, a big box next to an interstate where I pulled over on a whim, on road trips.

In short, OK Computer is absolutely deserving of its reputation as the Dark Side of the Moon of the '90s.

More specifically, we get a great intro a la "Speak To Me"/"Breathe"/"On the Run" in "Airbag" that establishes some themes while not blowing us away, but building up the anticipation with chord progressions and arrangements bringing unresolved tension. Then on to the main feast: on Dark Side we got the soaring, epic "Time", and here we get something arguably even better: "Paranoid Android" is one of the greatest prog rock tracks ever produced (whether Radiohead actually likes prog or not!). I love the loose feel of the acoustic guitars throughout the early part of the song and Colin Greenwood's playful groove on the bass, and, as usual, Thom sings the hell out of this one (And the lyrics! "Kicking, screaming, Gucci little piggie!" Hell, yes.), but this all still just build up for the guitar riffage/carnage to follow; Jonny Greenwood's Lovetone Meatball effect on the guitar solo absolutely kills.

With gut-punches from "Time" and "Paranoid Android" coming so soon after the album's introductions, do both of these albums peak too early? A case could be made for that, but they both attain great heights later, too, and function beautifully as cohesive listening experiences, so I tend to think that the albums probably flowed best with these tracks in their respective places. And flow is a key similarity here, in that both albums are better than the sum of their parts by virtue of the fact that they are both such superb bodies of work in their coherence and listenability on the whole (even when they're bringing on some serious depression!).

After the respective epics, the albums continue to flow in the same directins for now as we get a bit of a break in the action on both albums and mellow out a bit with "The Breathe Reprise" at the end of "Time" and "The Great Gig in the Sky" on Dark Side and "Subterranean Homesick Alien", "Exit Music (For a Film)", and "Let Down" on OK Computer. It is interesting how both "Great Gig" and "Exit Music" develop, dazzle, and dissolve in similar fashion, both moving the listener in similar fashion due to the expert song-craft employed by these two amazing bands.

Next we get the albums' "big hits" in "Money" and "Karma Police". Beyond that distinction, there's really not much of an honest comparison to be made between these tracks, but we continue to see how similarly the albums flow anyway. And there's still plenty left to enjoy on both of these albums, as we get moving slow songs about forms of isolation in "No Surprises" and "Us and Them".

The albums close in distinctly different fashions, much of this owing to the fact that Dark Side of the Moon is a concept album with musical themes that are reintroduced, rehashed, and resolved, whereas OK Computer continues to explore new musical directions. This aspect of the comparison also feeds into the whole "Dark Side of the Moon of the '90s" bit in that concept albums, while they are still being made, will probably forever be associated with the 1970s, the decade in which Dark Side of the Moon was released. If OK Computer had been a concept album, then the comparison probably would not have worked as well in terms of either its identity as a strong product of its times or of the widespread acceptance that it attained, which are absolutely essential for this comparison.

It is notable that OK Computer was obtained and enjoyed by such a wide swathe of rock fandom, even as represented by my own group of friends, who have fairly divergent musical tastes, because that is the kind of popularity that made Dark Side of the Moon the cultural touchstone of its day, too. Just about everybody of certain ages who was into rock music at the time of these releases knows these albums and can be expected to be conversant on the topic, even if they don't like them. I once dated an older woman who was convinced that I was someone else who was posting online, merely because the other guy and I shared a mutual love of both Radiohead and Neil Young; she failed to understand how thoroughly unremarkable that is. Name any major rock act plus Pink Floyd or Radiohead, and fans who share a love for both of them are going to be common.

Some may view it as a disservice to compare the albums in such direct fashion, especially since, despite the numerous comparisons, there is zero evidence that Radiohead was consciously aping or performing any sort of homage to Pink Floyd with this album, so let me be perfectly clear that I only intend to present this comparison on the basis of commonalities that both of these great albums happen to share and which have resulted in a frequently made observation that proves true under scrutiny. Radiohead definitely was not seeking to rehash any sort of '70s prog; Jonny Greenwood reportedly does not even like Dark Side of the Moon. Relatively speaking, Radiohead, who had started off sounded like a mishmash of U2 in a grunge direction with greater chops in evidence than either of those institutions, was bringing something just as new and excellent (if not even greater) to the table as Pink Floyd had within the natural progression and context of their own musical abilities and influences.

So now that we have that comparison out of the way, so what? An album doesn't attain greatness in a vacuum, so it's worth examining how it changed the musical landscape, especially in the case of this particular album. The album's title represents an obvious concession to technology, but this is still in large part a guitar album, especially in comparison to the direction taken by the band later on Kid A and Amnesiac. Still, much was made of that title at the time, and techno, although it never really caught on in the States like the media claimed that it would, seemed poised to dominate with the guitar reportedly on the verge of extinction. Although that didn't happen, there definitely was a rash of successful Radiohead clones popping up like Doves, Travis, and Coldplay, so, in that respect, the album has continued to influence the charts, even though it never helped to usher in any sort of techno-age at all.

However, although guitar driven rock directly influenced by Radiohead remains with us, we may never see the likes of an album like OK Computer and its widespread acceptance throughout rock fandom and influence on fellow musicians again. With the popularity of music downloading having hurt physical rock album sales, it is evident that the dynamics of music sales have shifted appreciably, and more rock fans are taking the opportunity to less expensively explore their own preferred niches, making it far less likely that rock fans will come together over and fully absorb an album in such a fashion ever again.

A few years after its release, some all-time-greatest-album lists placed OK Computer squarely at the top, and, although that has grown rarer, I still would not have a problem with it.
click here to
read it all...

Hysterical and Useless

I couldn't even wait to get back home. The new NME and Melody Maker had arrived at my corner coffee/magazine shop. In them were the reviews for OK Computer. It was a Monday. The album was coming out via import on Friday. The next Tuesday American stores were to receive what surely would be the greatest album ever made.

Why did I care so much? Perhaps it was Thom Yorke's impossibly exaggerated angst on The Bends. I related to it more than my friends and family could have possibly wanted. But that was me. I relished the moodswings, the misunderstandings, and the misgivings I invented with my surroundings and my generation's dismal lot in a world that was crumbling around me at this very moment. This new album was to be my album. It was going to understand me. It was going to be perfect.

The NME trumpeted the album with a 10/10. "Age-defining" and "one of the greatest albums of living memory". Of course it would be. They understood the global trepidations. My trepidations.

I opened the Melody Maker for more affirmation and was struck down. "I can't think of any time I'd ever want to listen to it." It continued "I can't work out whether I like it, although I think I like it very much indeed. I definitely know it isn't good for me."

I had already determined that these reviews were not about OK Computer, they were about me. So naturally I ignored the criticism and soldiered on. The Melody Maker did too naming OK Computer its second-best album of 1997. I bought the gatefold vinyl, the CD, the import singles and B-sides and I listened and I listened and I heard. The music was so new and so different. This was the future. An unpleasant future but that's what I had.

The album became a necessary part of my life but the Melody Maker criticism still lingered. "I can't think of any time I'd ever want to listen to it." Maybe he was right. My personal marriage with the album was making me miserable. The album's morbid conclusions and horrific dramatic thrusts were too appealing; a siren song into, at best, a lasting dreadfulness. I never made an active decision but at some point I stopped listening.

So when I listened again yesterday I listened as an outsider. I still shuddered at the crescendos of Exit Music (for a Film) and Let Down. I still knew all the words, the intra-song transitions, the key changes and the complex time switches but I didn't need the album. It left me with a hopefulness and a joy for the future because this beautiful album is now a part of the past. "Let down and hanging around"? Not at all.
click here to
read it all...

October 1, 2007

The Rolling Stone 500 List

1 : Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band ; The Beatles
2 : Pet Sounds ; Beach Boys
3 : Revolver ; The Beatles
4 : Highway 61 Revisited ; Bob Dylan
5 : Rubber Soul ; The Beatles
6 : What's Going On ; Marvin Gaye
7 : Exile On Main Street ; Rolling Stones
8 : London Calling ; The Clash
9 : Blonde On Blonde ; Bob Dylan
10 : The White Album ; The Beatles
11 : The Sun Sessions ; Elvis Presley
12 : Kind Of Blue ; Miles Davis
13 : Velvet Underground And Nico ; The Velvet Underground
14 : Abbey Road ; The Beatles
15 : Are You Experienced ; The Jimi Hendrix Experience
16 : Blood On The Tracks ; Bob Dylan
17 : Nevermind ; Nirvana
18 : Born To Run ; Bruce Springsteen
19 : Astral Weeks ; Van Morrison
20 : Thriller ; Michael Jackson
21 : The Great Twenty-Eight ; Chuck Berry
22 : Plastic Ono Band ; John Lennon
23 : Innervisions ; Stevie Wonder
24 : Live at the Apollo ; James Brown
25 : Rumours ; Fleetwood Mac
26 : The Joshua Tree ; U2
27 : King Of The Delta Blues Singers, Vol. 1 ; Robert Johnson
28 : Who's Next ; The Who
29 : Led Zeppelin ; Led Zeppelin
30 : Blue ; Joni Mitchell
31 : Bringing It All Back Home ; Bob Dylan
32 : Let It Bleed ; Rolling Stones
33 : Ramones ; The Ramones
34 : Music From Big Pink ; The Band
35 : The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars ; David Bowie
36 : Tapestry ; Carole King
37 : Hotel California ; The Eagles
38 : The Anthology, 1947-1972 ; Muddy Waters
39 : Please Please Me ; The Beatles
40 : Forever Changes ; Love
41 : Never Mind The Bollocks, Here's The Sex Pistols ; The Sex Pistols
42 : The Doors ; The Doors
43 : The Dark Side Of The Moon ; Pink Floyd
44 : Horses ; Patti Smith
45 : The Band ; The Band
46 : Legend ; Bob Marley And The Wailers
47 : A Love Supreme ; John Coltrane
48 : It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back ; Public Enemy
49 : At Fillmore East ; The Allman Brothers Band
50 : Here's Little Richard ; Little Richard
51 : Bridge Over Troubled Waters ; Simon And Garfunkel
52 : Greatest Hits ; Al Green
53 : The Birth Of Soul, The Complete Atlantic Rhythm And Blues Recordings, 1952-1959 ; Ray Charles
54 : Electric Ladyland ; The Jimi Hendrix Experience
55 : Elvis Presley ; Elvis Presley
56 : Songs In The Key Of Life ; Stevie Wonder
57 : Beggars Banquet ; Rolling Stones
58 : Trout Mask Replica ; Captain Beefheart And His Magic Band
59 : Meet The Beatles! ; The Beatles
60 : Greatest Hits ; Sly And The Family Stone
61 : Appetite For Destruction ; Guns N' Roses
62 : Achtung Baby ; U2
63 : Sticky Fingers ; Rolling Stones
64 : Phil Spector, Back to Mono (1958 - 1969) ; Various Artists
65 : Moondance ; Van Morrison
66 : Led Zeppelin IV ; Led Zeppelin
67 : The Stranger ; Billy Joel
68 : Off the Wall ; Michael Jackson
69 : Superfly ; Curtis Mayfield
70 : Physical Graffiti ; Led Zeppelin
71 : After The Gold Rush ; Neil Young
72 : Purple Rain ; Prince
73 : Back In Black ; AC/DC
74 : Otis Blue ; Otis Redding
75 : Led Zeppelin II ; Led Zeppelin
76 : Imagine ; John Lennon
77 : The Clash ; The Clash
78 : Harvest ; Neil Young
79 : Star Time ; James Brown
80 : Odessey And Oracle ; The Zombies
81 : Graceland ; Paul Simon
82 : Axis, Bold As Love ; The Jimi Hendrix Experience
83 : I Never Loved A Man The Way I Love You ; Aretha Franklin
84 : Lady Soul ; Aretha Franklin
85 : Born In The U.S.A. ; Bruce Springsteen
86 : Let It Be ; The Beatles
87 : The Wall ; Pink Floyd
88 : At Folsom Prison ; Johnny Cash
89 : Dusty In Memphis ; Dusty Springfield
90 : Talking Book ; Stevie Wonder
91 : Goodbye Yellow Brick Road ; Elton John
92 : 20 Golden Greats ; Buddy Holly
93 : Sign 'O' The Times ; Prince
94 : Bitches Brew ; Miles Davis
95 : Green River ; Creedence Clearwater Revival
96 : Tommy ; The Who
97 : The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan ; Bob Dylan
98 : This Year's Model ; Elvis Costello
99 : There's A Riot Goin' On ; Sly And The Family Stone
100 : In The Wee Small Hours ; Frank Sinatra
101 : Fresh Cream ; Cream
102 : Giant Steps ; John Coltrane
103 : Sweet Baby James ; James Taylor
104 : Modern Sounds In Country And Western Music ; Ray Charles
105 : Rocket To Russia ; The Ramones
106 : Portrait Of A Legend 1951-1964 ; Sam Cooke
107 : Hunky Dory ; David Bowie
108 : Aftermath ; Rolling Stones
109 : Loaded ; Velvet Underground
110 : The Bends ; Radiohead
111 : Court and Spark ; Joni Mitchell
112 : Disraeli Gears ; Cream
113 : The Who Sell Out ; The Who
114 : Out Of Our Heads ; Rolling Stones
115 : Layla And Other Assorted Love Songs ; Derek And The Dominos
116 : At Last ; Etta James
117 : Sweetheart of the Rodeo ; The Byrds
118 : Stand! ; Sly And The Family Stone
119 : The Harder They Come Original Soundtrack ; Various Artists
120 : Raising Hell ; Run-DMC
121 : Moby Grape ; Moby Grape
122 : Pearl ; Janis Joplin
123 : Catch a Fire ; Bob Marley And The Wailers
124 : Younger Than Yesterday ; The Byrds
125 : Raw Power ; The Stooges
126 : Remain in Light ; Talking Heads
127 : If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears ; The Mamas And The Papas
128 : Marquee Moon ; Television
129 : 40 Greatest Hits ; Hank Williams
130 : Paranoid ; Black Sabbath
131 : Saturday Night Fever Original Soundtrack ; Various Artists
132 : The Wild, the Innocent and the E Street Shuffle ; Bruce Springsteen
133 : Ready to Die ; Notorious B.I.G.
134 : Slanted and Enchanted ; Pavement
135 : Greatest Hits ; Elton John
136 : Tim ; The Replacements
137 : The Chronic ; Dr. Dre
138 : Rejuvenation ; The Meters
139 : All That You Can't Leave Behind ; U2
140 : Parallel Lines ; Blondie
141 : Live At The Regal ; B.B. King
142 : Phil Spector, A Christmas Gift for You ; Various Artists
143 : Gris-Gris ; Dr. John
144 : Straight Outta Compton ; N.W.A
145 : Aja ; Steely Dan
146 : Surrealistic Pillow ; Jefferson Airplane
147 : Dreams to Remember: The Otis Redding Anthology ; Otis Redding
148 : Deja Vu ; Crosby Stills Nash and Young
149 : Houses of the Holy ; Led Zeppelin
150 : Santana ; Santana
151 : Darkness on the Edge of Town ; Bruce Springsteen
152 : The B-52's ; The B-52's
153 : Moanin' In The Moonlight ; Howlin' Wolf
154 : The Low End Theory ; A Tribe Called Quest
155 : Pretenders ; Pretenders
156 : Paul's Boutique ; Beastie Boys
157 : Closer ; Joy Division
158 : Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy ; Elton John
159 : Alive ; Kiss
160 : Electric Warrior ; T. Rex
161 : The Dock Of The Bay ; Otis Redding
162 : OK Computer ; Radiohead
163 : 1999 ; Prince
164 : Heart Like A Wheel ; Linda Ronstadt
165 : Let's Get It On ; Marvin Gaye
166 : Imperial Bedroom ; Elvis Costello
167 : Master Of Puppets ; Metallica
168 : My Aim Is True ; Elvis Costello
169 : Exodus ; Bob Marley
170 : Live At Leeds ; The Who
171 : The Notorious Byrd Brothers ; The Byrds
172 : Every Picture Tells A Story ; Rod Stewart
173 : Something, Anything ; Todd Rundgren
174 : Desire ; Bob Dylan
175 : Close To You ; The Carpenters
176 : Rocks ; Aerosmith
177 : One Nation Under A Groove ; Parliament Funkadelic
178 : Greatest Hits ; The Byrds
179 : The Anthology 1961-1977 ; Curtis Mayfield And The Impressions
180 : The Definitive Collection ; Abba
181 : The Rolling Stones, Now! ; Rolling Stones
182 : Natty Dread ; Bob Marley And The Wailers
183 : Fleetwood Mac ; Fleetwood Mac
184 : Red Headed Stranger ; Willie Nelson
185 : The Stooges ; The Stooges
186 : Fresh ; Sly And The Family Stone
187 : So ; Peter Gabriel
188 : Buffalo Springfield Again ; Buffalo Springfield
189 : Happy Trails ; Quicksilver Messenger Service
190 : From Elvis In Memphis ; Elvis Presley
191 : Funhouse ; The Stooges
192 : The Gilded Palace Of Sin ; Flying Burrito Brothers
193 : Dookie ; Green Day
194 : Transformer ; Lou Reed
195 : Bluesbreakers ; John Mayall With Eric Clapton
196 : Nuggets, Original Artyfacts From The First Psychedelic Era 1965-1968 ; Various Artists
197 : Murmur ; R.E.M.
198 : The Best Of ; Little Walter
199 : Highway To Hell ; AC/DC
200 : The Downward Spiral ; Nine Inch Nails
201 : Parsley, Sage, Rosemary And Thyme ; Simon And Garfunkel
202 : Bad ; Michael Jackson
203 : Wheels Of Fire ; Cream
204 : Dirty Mind ; Prince
205 : Abraxas ; Santana
206 : Tea For The Tillerman ; Cat Stevens
207 : Ten ; Pearl Jam
208 : Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere ; Neil Young
209 : Wish You Were Here ; Pink Floyd
210 : Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain-Pavement ; Pavement
211 : Tattoo You ; Rolling Stones
212 : Proud Mary, The Best Of Ike And Tina Turner ; Ike And Tina Turner
213 : New York Dolls ; New York Dolls
214 : Bo Diddley, Go Bo Diddley ; Bo Diddley
215 : Two Steps From the Blues ; Bobby Bland
216 : The Queen Is Dead ; The Smiths
217 : Licensed to Ill ; Beastie Boys
218 : Look-Ka Py Py ; The Meters
219 : Loveless ; My Bloody Valentine
220 : New Orleans Piano ; Professor Longhair
221 : War ; U2
222 : The Neil Diamond Collection ; Neil Diamond
223 : Howlin' Wolf ; Howlin' Wolf
224 : Nebraska ; Bruce Springsteen
225 : The Complete Hank Williams ; Hank Williams
226 : Doolittle ; Pixies
227 : Paid In Full ; Eric B. And Rakim
228 : Toys In The Attic ; Aerosmith
229 : Nick Of Time ; Bonnie Raitt
230 : A Night At The Opera ; Queen
231 : The Kink Kronikles ; The Kinks
232 : Mr. Tambourine Man ; The Byrds
233 : Bookends ; Simon And Garfunkel
234 : The Ultimate Collection ; Patsy Cline
235 : Mr. Excitement! ; Jackie Wilson
236 : The Who Sings My Generation ; The Who
237 : Like A Prayer ; Madonna
238 : Can't Buy A Thrill ; Steely Dan
239 : Let It Be ; The Replacements
240 : Run-DMC ; Run-DMC
241 : Black Sabbath ; Black Sabbath
242 : The Jerry Lee Lewis Anthology: All Killer No Filler! ; Jerry Lee Lewis
243 : Freak Out!- ; Mothers Of Invention
244 : Live Dead ; Grateful Dead
245 : Bryter Layter ; Nick Drake
246 : The Shape of Jazz to Come ; Ornette Coleman
247 : Automatic for the People ; R.E.M.
248 : Reasonable Doubt ; Jay-Z
249 : Low ; David Bowie
250 : The River ; Bruce Springsteen
251 : The Otis Redding Dictionary Of Soul ; Otis Redding
252 : Metallica ; Metallica
253 : Trans-Europe Express-Kraftwerk ; Kraftwerk
254 : Whitney Houston ; Whitney Houston
255 : The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society ; The Kinks
256 : The Velvet Rope ; Janet Jackson
257 : Stardust ; Willie Nelson
258 : American Beauty ; Grateful Dead
259 : Crosby Stills And Nash ; Crosby Stills And Nash
260 : Buena Vista Social Club ; Buena Vista Social Club
261 : Tracy Chapman ; Tracy Chapman
262 : Workingman's Dead ; Grateful Dead
263 : The Genius Of Ray Charles ; Ray Charles
264 : Child Is Father To The Man ; Blood, Sweat And Tears
265 : Cosmo's Factory ; Creedence Clearwater Revival
266 : Quadrophenia ; The Who
267 : There Goes Rhymin' Simon ; Paul Simon
268 : Psycho Candy ; The Jesus and Mary Chain
269 : Some Girls ; Rolling Stones
270 : The Beach Boys Today! ; Beach Boys
271 : Going To A Go-Go ; Smokey Robinson And The Miracles
272 : Nightbirds ; Labelle
273 : The Slim Shady LP ; Eminem
274 : Mothership Connection ; Parliament
275 : Rhythm Nation 1814 ; Janet Jackson
276 : Anthology of American Folk Music ; Harry Smith, ed.
277 : Aladdin Sane ; David Bowie
278 : The Immaculate Collection ; Madonna
279 : My Life ; Mary J. Blige
280 : Folk Singer ; Muddy Waters
281 : Can't Get Enough ; Barry White
282 : The Cars ; The Cars
283 : Five Leaves Left ; Nick Drake
284 : Music of My Mind ; Stevie Wonder
285 : I'm Still in Love With You ; Al Green
286 : Los Angeles ; X
287 : Anthem Of The Sun ; Grateful Dead
288 : Something Else by the Kinks ; The Kinks
289 : Call Me ; Al Green
290 : Talking Heads: 77 ; Talking Heads
291 : The Basement Tapes ; Bob Dylan and the Band
292 : White Light / White Heat ; Velvet Underground
293 : Greatest Hits ; Simon And Garfunkel
294 : Kick Out the Jams ; MC5
295 : Meat Is Murder ; The Smiths
296 : We're Only In It For The Money ; Mothers Of Invention
297 : Weezer (Blue Album) ; Weezer
298 : Master of Reality ; Black Sabbath
299 : Coat Of Many Colors ; Dolly Parton
300 : Fear Of A Black Planet ; Public Enemy
301 : John Wesley Harding ; Bob Dylan
302 : The Marshall Mathers LP ; Eminem
303 : Grace-Jeff Buckley ; Jeff Buckley
304 : Car Wheels on a Gravel Road ; Lucinda Williams
305 : Odelay ; Beck
306 : Songs for Swingin' Lovers ; Frank Sinatra
307 : Avalon ; Roxy Music
308 : The Sun Records Collection ; Various Artists
309 : Nothing's Shocking ; Jane's Addiction
310 : Blood Sugar Sex Magik ; Red Hot Chili Peppers
311 : MTV Unplugged In New York ; Nirvana
312 : The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill ; Lauryn Hill
313 : Damn The Torpedoes ; Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
314 : The Velvet Underground ; Velvet Underground
315 : Surfer Rosa ; Pixies
316 : Rock Steady ; No Doubt
317 : The Eminem Show ; Eminem
318 : Back Stabbers ; The O'Jays
319 : Burnin' ; Bob Marley And The Wailers
320 : Pink Moon ; Nick Drake
321 : Sail Away ; Randy Newman
322 : Ghost in the Machine ; The Police
323 : Station To Station ; David Bowie
324 : The Very Best of Linda Ronstadt ; Linda Ronstadt
325 : Slowhand ; Eric Clapton
326 : Disintegration ; The Cure
327 : Jagged Little Pill ; Alanis Morissette
328 : Exile in Guyville ; Liz Phair
329 : Daydream Nation ; Sonic Youth
330 : In the Jungle Groove ; James Brown
331 : Tonight's the Night ; Neil Young
332 : Help! ; The Beatles
333 : Shoot Out the Lights ; Richard And Linda Thompson
334 : Wild Gift ; X
335 : Squeezing Out Sparks ; Graham Parker
336 : Superunknown ; Soundgarden
337 : Aqualung ; Jethro Tull
338 : Cheap Thrills ; Big Brother And The Holding Company
339 : The Heart Of Saturday Night ; Tom Waits
340 : Damaged ; Black Flag
341 : Play ; Moby
342 : Violator ; Depeche Mode
343 : Bat Out of Hell ; Meat Loaf
344 : Berlin ; Lou Reed
345 : Stop Making Sense ; Talking Heads
346 : 3 Feet High and Rising ; De La Soul
347 : The Piper at the Gates of Dawn ; Pink Floyd
348 : At Newport 1960 ; Muddy Waters
349 : Roger the Engineer (a.k.a. Over Under Sideways Down) ; Yardbirds
350 : Rust Never Sleeps ; Neil Young
351 : Brothers in Arms ; Dire Straits
352 : 52nd Street ; Billy Joel
353 : Having a Rave Up With the Yardbirds ; Yardbirds
354 : 12 Songs ; Randy Newman
355 : Between The Buttons ; Rolling Stones
356 : Sketches of Spain ; Miles Davis
357 : Honky Chateau ; Elton John
358 : Singles Going Steady ; The Buzzcocks
359 : Stankonia ; Outkast
360 : Siamese Dream ; Smashing Pumpkins
361 : Substance ; New Order
362 : L.A. Woman ; The Doors
363 : Ray Of Light ; Madonna
364 : American Recordings ; Johnny Cash
365 : Louder Than Bombs ; The Smiths
366 : Mott ; Mott The Hoople
367 : Is This It ; The Strokes
368 : Rage Against The Machine ; Rage Against The Machine
369 : Reggatta De Blanc ; The Police
370 : Volunteers ; Jefferson Airplane
371 : Siren ; Roxy Music
372 : Late For The Sky ; Jackson Browne
373 : Post ; Bjork
374 : The Eagles ; The Eagles
375 : The Ultimate Collection (1948-1990) ; John Lee Hooker
376 : (What's The Story) Morning Glory ; Oasis
377 : CrazySexyCool ; TLC
378 : Funky Kingston ; Toots And The Maytals
379 : Greetings From Asbury Park ; Bruce Springsteen
380 : Sunflower ; Beach Boys
381 : Modern Lovers ; Modern Lovers
382 : More Songs About Buildings And Food ; Talking Heads
383 : A Quick One (Happy Jack) ; The Who
384 : Pyromania ; Def Leppard
385 : Pretzel Logic ; Steely Dan
386 : Enter the Wu-Tang: 36 Chambers ; Wu-Tang Clan
387 : Country Life ; Roxy Music
388 : A Hard Day's Night ; The Beatles
389 : The End Of The Innocence ; Don Henley
390 : Elephant ; The White Stripes
391 : The Pretender ; Jackson Browne
392 : Willy And The Poor Boys ; Creedence Clearwater Revival
393 : Good Old Boys ; Randy Newman
394 : For Your Pleasure ; Roxy Music
395 : Blue Lines ; Massive Attack
396 : Eliminator ; ZZ Top
397 : Rain Dogs ; Tom Waits
398 : Anthology ; Temptations
399 : Californication ; Red Hot Chili Peppers
400 : Illmatic ; Nas
401 : (Pronounced Leh-Nerd Skin-Nerd) ; Lynyrd Skynyrd
402 : Dr. John's Gumbo ; Dr. John
403 : Radio City ; Big Star
404 : Sandinista! ; The Clash
405 : Rid Of Me ; PJ Harvey
406 : I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got ; Sinead O' Connor
407 : Strange Days ; The Doors
408 : Time Out Of Mind ; Bob Dylan
409 : 461 Ocean Boulevard ; Eric Clapton
410 : Pink Flag ; Wire
411 : Double Nickels on the Dime ; Minutemen
412 : Mezzanine ; Massive Attack
413 : Beauty and the Beat ; Go-Go's
414 : Greatest Hits ; James Brown
415 : Van Halen ; Van Halen
416 : Mule Variations ; Tom Waits
417 : Boy ; U2
418 : Band On The Run ; Wings
419 : Dummy ; Portishead
420 : With The Beatles ; The Beatles
421 : The "Chirping" Crickets ; Buddy Holly And The Crickets
422 : The Best of the Girl Groups, Volumes 1 and 2 ; Various Artists
423 : Greatest Hits ; The Mamas And The Papas
424 : King Of The Delta Blues Singers, Vol. 2 ; Robert Johnson
425 : Changesone ; David Bowie
426 : The Battle Of Los Angeles ; Rage Against The Machine
427 : Presenting The Fabulous Ronettes Featuring Veronica ; The Ronettes
428 : Kid A ; Radiohead
429 : Grievous Angel ; Gram Parsons
430 : At Budokan ; Cheap Trick
431 : Anthology ; Diana Ross and The Supremes
432 : Sleepless ; Peter Wolf
433 : Another Green World ; Brian Eno
434 : Outlandos D'Amour ; The Police
435 : To Bring You My Love ; PJ Harvey
436 : Here Come The Warm Jets ; Brian Eno
437 : All Things Must Pass ; George Harrison
438 : #1 Record ; Big Star
439 : In Utero ; Nirvana
440 : Sea Change ; Beck
441 : Tragic Kingdom ; No Doubt
442 : Boys Don't Cry ; The Cure
443 : Live At The Harlem Square Club, 1963 ; Sam Cooke
444 : Criminal Minded ; Boogie Down Productions
445 : Rum Sodomy And The Lash ; The Pogues
446 : Suicide ; Suicide
447 : Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo! ; Devo
448 : In Color ; Cheap Trick
449 : The World Is A Ghetto ; War
450 : Fly Like an Eagle ; Steve Miller Band
451 : Back In The USA ; MC5
452 : Music ; Madonna
453 : Ritual De Lo Habitual ; Jane's Addiction
454 : Getz/Gilberto ; Stan Getz And Joao Gilberto Featuring Antonio Carlos Jobim
455 : Synchronicity ; The Police
456 : Third Sister Lovers ; Big Star
457 : For Everyman ; Jackson Browne
458 : John Prine ; John Prine
459 : Strictly Business ; EPMD
460 : Love It To Death ; Alice Cooper
461 : How Will The Wolf Survive ; Los Lobos
462 : Here, My Dear ; Marvin Gaye
463 : Tumbleweed Connection ; Elton John
464 : The Blueprint ; Jay-Z
465 : Golden Hits ; The Drifters
466 : Live Through This ; Hole
467 : Love And Theft ; Bob Dylan
468 : Elton John ; Elton John
469 : Metal Box ; Public Image Ltd.
470 : Document ; R.E.M.
471 : Heaven Up Here ; Echo And The Bunnymen
472 : Hysteria ; Def Leppard
473 : A Rush Of Blood To The Head ; Coldplay
474 : Live In Europe ; Otis Redding
475 : Tunnel Of Love ; Bruce Springsteen
476 : The Paul Butterfield Blues Band ; The Paul Butterfield Blues Band
477 : The Score ; The Fugees
478 : Radio ; LL Cool J
479 : I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight ; Richard And Linda Thompson
480 : Faith ; George Michael
481 : The Smiths ; The Smiths
482 : Armed Forces ; Elvis Costello
483 : Life After Death ; Notorious B.I.G.
484 : Branded Man ; Merle Haggard
485 : All Time Greatest Hits ; Loretta Lynn
486 : Maggot Brain ; Funkadelic
487 : Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness ; Smashing Pumpkins
488 : Voodoo ; D'Angelo
489 : Guitar Town ; Steve Earle
490 : Entertainment! ; Gang Of Four
491 : All The Young Dudes ; Mott The Hoople
492 : Vitalogy ; Pearl Jam
493 : That's The Way Of The World ; Earth Wind And Fire
494 : She's So Unusual ; Cyndi Lauper
495 : New Day Rising ; Husker Du
496 : Destroyer ; Kiss
497 : Yo! Bum Rush The Show ; Public Enemy
498 : Tres Hombres ; ZZ Top
499 : Born Under A Bad Sign ; Albert King
500 : Touch ; The Eurythmics click here to
read it all...