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  1. #11

    494. CYNDI LAUPER- SHE'S SO UNUSUAL (warning: controversial subject mentioned)

    Released: 1983
    Producer: Rick Chertoff, William Wittman
    Label: Portrait


    RS (2012): 487
    RYM (1/1/2020): 5975
    NME (2014): not ranked
    Virgin (Colin Larkin-2000)- 897
    Mustyís top 1001 (2003)- not ranked
    AllMusic rating: Three and a half stars

    Okay, first of all, this was/is one strange girl so letís get that right out in the open. Anyway, this young redhead (?), who was known to wear strange clothing, hit it big in 1983 with the pop anthem, Girls Just Want To Have Fun. She would have a pretty decent run in the eighties, getting involved with pro wresting through a friendship with Lou Albano. She disappeared somewhat in the nineties and can now be seen in commercials for a psoriasis prescription. Anyway, itís safe to say sheís a bit quirky and one can expect this album to be as well. So here goesÖ

    Best tracks: Girls Just Want To Have Fun, All Through the Night

    Weakest tracks: When You Were Mine, Iíll Kiss You

    Money Changes Everything: I actually had the original version from a band known as The Brains. I think itís safe to say that version is superior to this one. I think Jules Shear may be involved with this track. Listenable to be sure and Iím sure Lauper fans will like this one.

    Girls Just Want To Have Fun: Cyndiís breakthrough hit. It was all over MTV and it may have been a breakthrough for pro wresting villain Lou Albano as well as it softened his bad guy reputation somewhat,. As for the song, itís a nice piece of pop basically. Certainly top forty material by 1983 standards and it made it to number two.

    When You Were Mine: The sixth and last single from this album (out of ten songs too) was penned by Prince. It didnít do particularly well on the charts. Itís actually a pretty decent song but Lauper really doesnít do this very well. Prince does this much better on his Dirty Mind album (1980).

    Time After Time: Basically a love song Lauper wrote with Rob Hyman, this was written because another track was needed to complete the album. As such, the song works quite well, and it proved to be one of the bigger hits off the album. Watch out for the video though as Cyndi gets to show her exasperated boyfriend her new haircut.

    She Bop: Another big hit off the album. It caused some controversy as it covers the topic of female masturbation (thus my subject warning). It even made the PMRC list of the filthy fifteen, maybe the only time Cyndi Lauper will ever be lumped in with the likes of Twisted Sister and Motley Crue. Anyway, itís a catchy tune and deserving of itís top five chart ranking, even if itís not exactly my style.

    All Through the Night: Written and originally recorded by power pop musician Jules Shear, this probably fits in with Lauper a bit better than Price did. Itís actually a pretty song, not quite a ballad. Nice melody.

    Witness: A little bit of reggae on what begins the album track part of the album. It isnít terrible but, like most of the album, itís not something Iíd kill for.

    Iíll Kiss You: I donít like this track. This one comes off like the typical eighties track you might hear in one of those horrid teen movies and Iím not talking about John Hughes here. Iím guessing this might have been used as filler despite quite a bit of instrumentation here.

    Heís So Unusual: This is kind of cute. A quick forty five second intro into the final track is actually a Helen Kane cover done in 1920s style, both by manner and of recording quality. Maybe the neatest thing on the album.

    Yeah Yeah: Too bad it introduced this track. This doesnít sound like anything especially inspired and certainly wonít remind anyone of Girls Just Want To Have Fun, this despite a nice sax solo.

    OVERALL EFFECT: So, basically, this was what I had expected. A not bad pop album by a borderline superstar (she never got quite as big as Madonna). Iím only giving it two blehs, but I canít honestly say I found it boring. I think itís more of a style thing then anything especially bad. Lauper certainly had quite a bit of talent and, for what she was doing at the time, works well for her. But for me, give me Patti Smith any day of the week.


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  2. #12


    : 1975
    Producer: Maurice White, Charles Stepney
    Label: Columbia


    RS (2012): 486
    RYM (1/1/2020): 5507
    NME (2014): not ranked
    Virgin (Colin Larkin-2000)- not ranked
    Mustyís top 1001 (2003)- not ranked
    AllMusic rating: four and a half stars

    Earth, Wind, and Fire was a popular soul act in the seventies and eighties. Their soft soul sounds were greatly influenced by jazz music which gave the band a sound all their own. This was the breakthrough album for them as it also featured the giant hit, Shining Star.

    Okay, first a disclaimer. Outside of what I heard off this album so far, I canít honestly say I can get into EWF. They seemed to have become way more commercial after this album. Not that they were bad, they werenít, just kind of bland.

    But thatís for later. This album has the potential to be quite exciting so letís give it a while, shall we?

    Best tracks: Shining Star, Happy Feeling, Africano

    Weakest tracks: All About Love

    Shining Star: This was a monster hit for EWF as it went straight to number one. And why not? Itís very funky without becoming overbearing as EWF was, in the end analysis, a rather mellow group. Itís a very positive song and it sets the tone for what promises to be a very positive album.

    Thatís the Way of the World: This follow up hit is the epitome of what Iíd call smooth jazz. Itís a hip arrangement with the horns and I like the subtle approach of this track.

    Happy Feeling: This certainly plays like a happy song. I like the use of the instruments here. I especially like the kalimba parts done by Maurice White. This is certainly a very tight outfit. Very smooth track.

    All About Love: This is essentially a Philip Bailey ballad. Unfortunately, I never really got into Phillip Bailey as a solo act at least, and Iím not really into soft soul ballads in general. I mean, itís not a bad track; it just doesnít excite me.

    Yearnin Learnin: Side two starts with this funky piece. Like Shining Star, there is a certain mellowness to it. There is nothing threatening about the piece at all, but you canít deny the quality. This is a fun group and a fun album so far.

    Reasons: This is one of the more popular songs on the album. Itís a pretty ballad to be sure and is everything that All About Love isnít. It isnít sappy and itís seems quite heartfelt. Nice soulful ballad.

    Africano: Funk meets traditional African World Music here. This is a cool jam that uses several forms from African rhythms to modern jazz. Itís definitely a song you can dance to. Nice track.

    See the Light: And the album ends with another positive outlook on life. Nice arrangement, maybe a little too contemporary for my tastes, but itís an excellent track. Like the African rhythm bit at the end.

    OVERALL EFFECT: So, overall, Iíd have to say this is a nice album to listen to if there isnít much else available. If my rating seems low, itís more because itís not really a genre I can get into, at least not when itís more in the mellow style of EWF. Having said that, I can see why fans of seventies soul would really like this album. There is no negativity in this collection whatsoever and that is certainly the charm of this album. I also like the African influences on the album so, overall, Iíll give this one aÖ

    MUSTYíS RATING: 😊😊😊 1/2

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  3. #13


    Released: 1994
    Producer: Brendan OíBrien
    Label: Epic


    RS (2012): 485
    RYM (1/1/2020): 3183
    NME (2014): not ranked
    Virgin (Colin Larkin-2000)- 717
    Mustyís top 1001 (2003)- not ranked
    AllMusic rating: four and a half stars

    Pearl Jam was one of the biggest acts of what was known as the Seattle Grunge Scene. For quite a while it seemed like they and Nirvana were in direct competition much like the Beatles and Stones were in their day. In any event, Pearl Jam was on top of the world in 1994 when they released Vitalogy.

    So why didnít I rank this (neither did NME by the way)? Well, to be honest, Iím not that much into Pearl Jam. I certainly respect them and I get why theyíve received the accolades they have but, honestly, I can name the songs I really like from Eddie Vedder and company on one hand, Most of their material I tend to rate as okay, but nothing earthshaking. So, keep that in mind when I review this well received album. I may really like it, or maybe not. Let us see.

    Best tracks: Spin the Black Circle, Corduroy, Better Man

    Weakest tracks: Whipping, Aye Davinita

    Last Exit: Eddie Vedder wasnít afraid to write songs that could be somewhat depressing. Last Exit is rumored to be about suicide and the title certainly suggests it. Some have even gone as far as to suggest the song was written about Kurt Cobain who had killed himself earlier in 1994. Pretty typical Pearl Jam fare. Not bad, but nothing especially memorable about it.

    Spin the Black Circle: So now we go from the darkness of suicide to the joys of drug abuse. It isnít even cryptic as Vedder starts off with ďSee This Needle.Ē This one is a punk raver basically. This would have fit in well with the LA post punk scene of a decade before. I like this track.

    Not For You: This is Vedderís comment on the gouging of concert goers that Ticketmaster was notorious for. Mike McCready shows off his new 12 string Rickenbacker, given to him by Tom Petty, on this track. Solid track. Pearl Jam fans, no doubt, are loving this album so far.

    Tremor Christ: Certainly an interesting title, Mike McCready compares this to a Beatlesí tune. I guess I can hear the Harrison influence in the lead guitar but, to me, itís pretty ordinary Pearl Jam material.

    Nothingman: Vedder sings of having screwed up a relationship on this one basically. This is one of Pearl Jamís slower, bluesier numbers. I tend to like Pearl Jamís ballads a bit better than their standard fare though there are exceptions obviously. Nice track.

    Whipping: This sounds like a song about putting on armor against the hazards of life essentially. Fast paced. Not particularly special. A bit weaker than the previous tracks though not terrible.

    Pry, To: P-r-i-v-a-c-y is priceless to me seems to be the mantra here. Vedder, of course, was in the news a bit in the mid nineties with rumors of a drug problem among other things. This one minute mantra is the precursor to Corduroy.

    Corduroy: This barn burner is one of the most popular songs on the album. Much like Pry,to, it talks about the pressures of fame as Pearl Jam was perhaps second only to Nirvana in the grunge scene. Possibly my favorite song from Pearl Jam, it comes in with hard driving anger and is certainly baring its soul. Definitely classic Pearl Jam.

    Bugs: Another lament about the pressures of fame, this time Vedder is lashing out at the media. The bugs I assume being the gossip columnists that kept after the band at the time. I kind of like the accordion bit. There is a sense of humor to this track though Iíll refrain from calling it a favorite

    Satanís Bed: Pearl Jam had supported U2 on its Zoo tour and this song is influenced by that experience. I like the concept of the song already as Iíve always have had a fascination with peoplesí different versions of Satan. My favorite Twilight Zone episodes revolve around Satan and I tend to write about Satan from a comical side myself. I wish there had been a little more melodicism in this track though.

    Better Man: This is the big hit off the album. Vedder actually wrote this in High School. Itís certainly catchy and is truly one of the better Pearl Jam songs. Had been meant for Vs. but ended up here instead. Again, a very solid track and one of the better songs on the album.

    Aye Davanita: Basically an instrumental. Kind of tropical sounding. Not too impressed with this track and probably my least favorite on the album.

    Immortality: Another song rumored to be about Cobain though Vedder denies this. Vedder does acknowledge the similar paths they shared in terms of becoming surprisingly famous. Obviously the final results were different as Cobain would be dead by now while Vedder would soon reach true rock respectability after having cleaned up. Says a lot about Vedder really and I mean that in a good way. This sounds a little more like Stone Temple Pilots than Pearl Jam but not a bad track.

    Hey Foxymophandlemama, Thatís Me (stupidmop): Vedder taped some recordings off the TV and added it to what is essentially an instrumental. This evidently is a comment on mental hospitals in general which makes sense for those familiar with Pearl Jam. I like the experimentation factor in this. Kind of influenced by Revolution 9 in my opinion. Interesting how so many songs influenced by John and Yoko seem to do it so much better.

    OVERALL EFFECT: Okay, so letís start off by saying Iím not a huge fan of Pearl Jam. Even the name sounds a bit, um, off putting. I donít dislike them, mind you. Itís just compared to the other Seattle grunge bands of the day (Nirvana, Soundgarden, STP), Iíd have to rate them maybe a half step below.

    So, yes, in a way, this colors my opinion of this album a little. I can certainly see why the critics rave about this and other Pearl Jam albums (yes, weíll be hearing from them again), but they donít scream classic to me the way others see them. As far as the album goes, yes, there are some great moments on here and the clunkers (save Aye Davinta- was that one really necessary?) really arenít that bad. Still, I canít compare this admittedly good album with , say, Nevermind. Having said that, it is a good album, an above average album even, just not a true classic. Does that make sense?

    MUSTYíS RATING: 😊😊😊 1/2

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