REVIEWING THE ROLLING STONE 500 (2003)


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  1. #1

    REVIEWING THE ROLLING STONE 500 (2003)



    This promises to be my most ambitious project yet. In 2003, Rolling Stone Magazine complied lists from various artists, music critics, journalists, record producers and executives, etc., and came up with their 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. That means I'll be reviewing, at least in part, 500 albums over the course of however long it takes. A few, I have reviewed in my reviewing (place artist here) threads as well as a couple of other threads in general but most of the albums have yet to be reviewed. Those that I have reviewed will be also included here with maybe some additions to my thoughts (The Beatles and Rolling Stones weren't formatted the way I do reviews now for example). There will also be a number of compilations on this list so I will also be taking that into consideration when I'm doing my reviews. I will also compare the Rolling Stone 2003 rankings to its 2012 one as well as where the album ranked on Rate Your Music as of January 1,2020, the New Musical Express top 500, complied in 2012, Colin Larkin's top 1050 via Virgin, and my own top 1001 list as of 2003. I'll post my own list at a later date.

    So stay tuned and number 500 will be posted soon.
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  2. #2

  3. #3

    INDEX 250-1

    250.
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  4. #4
    Before I embark on my rather ambitious project, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that the powers that be at RS had quite a few notable omissions. For example, there is no King Crimson on this list at all. What’s the problem, guys? You don’t have any Yes either, don’t you guys ever listen to progressive rock besides Genesis? There are some other interesting omissions like The United States of America and Deep Purple’s Machine Head. Anyway, to highlight the difference between the RS list and my own, take a look at the albums that made my top hundred but didn’t make RS’ list at all (to be fair a couple were released just before the issue came out but there are also some real classic albums that are missing).

    The List…

    27 King Crimson In the Court of the Crimson King
    30 Kinks Face To Face
    41 Flamin Groovies Shake Some Action
    44 Joan Baez Joan Baez In Concert
    47 Phil Ochs I Ain't Marchin’ Anymore
    50 Patti Smith Easter
    54 Blondie Blondie
    55 United States of America The United States of America
    59 David Bowie Lodger
    60 REM Reckoning
    61 Wilco Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
    64 Deep Purple Machine Head
    66 Patti Smith Radio Ethiopia
    67 Granddaddy The Sophtware Slump
    69 Kinks Arthur (Or the Decline of the British Empire)
    72 Rolling Stones The Rolling Stones
    78 Flaming Lips Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots
    79 John Coltrane Blue Train
    80 Johnny Cash Bitter Tears
    82 Neutral Milk Hotel In the Aeroplane Over the Sea
    83 Led Zeppelin Led Zeppelin III
    86 Traffic Traffic
    88 Yes The Yes Album
    90 Blondie Eat To the Beat
    91 Camper Van Beethoven Key Lime Pie
    93 Electric Light Orchestra Eldorado
    94 Johnny Cash American IV: The Man Comes Around
    98 Thirteenth Floor Elevators Psychedelic Sounds of
    99 Peter Paul and Mary Peter Paul and Mary
    100 Simon and Garfunkel The Sounds of Silence


    Note that King Crimson’s album was rated at number six by Rate Your Music and Neutral Milk Hotel’s album came in at number eleven as well as doing well on the NME list.

    Okay, rant over, we’ll be reviewing number 500 very soon, maybe tomorrow.
    Last edited by mrmustard615; January 17th, 2020 at 04:03 PM.
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  5. #5

    500. THE EURYTHMICS- TOUCH





    So finally we start...


    Released: 1983
    Producer: David A. Stewart
    Label: RCA


    RANKINGS:

    RS (2012): 492
    RYM (1/1/2020): not ranked
    NME (2014): not ranked
    Virgin (Colin Larkin-2000)- 221
    Mustyís top 1001 (2003)- not ranked
    AllMusic rating: Four and a half stars



    1983 was a very big year for David A. Stewart and Annie Lennox. Earlier in 1983, they scored big time with their classic Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This). Their videos were all over MTV in the summer of 1983, so it wasnít a surprise that the follow up was greatly anticipated.

    And, as you can see in the rankings section that music critic Colin Larkin liked it quite a bit while the other two seemed to pay it no mind, not even Rate Your Music which rates up to ten thousand. Anyway, Touch is continuing in the Eurythmicsí synth-pop style and it spawned them three more hits, two of them major.

    So, itís established that the Eurythmics, and this album, was commercially successful. Artistically, I imagine the reception is a little more mixed, so letís give the album a whirl, shall we?



    Best tracks: Here Comes the Rain Again, No Fear No Hate No Pain (No Broken Hearts)

    Weakest tracks: The First Cut, Aqua





    Here Comes the Rain Again: Dave Stewart and Annie Lennox wrote this classic track on a Casio keyboard in New York City during a rain shower Lennox had remarked on, thus the title. The third single on the album and the biggest hit, this rates as one of my favorite Eurythmics songs and is certainly equal to my favorite tracks on Sweet Dreams.

    Regrets: Some clever lyrics on this track. It isnít especially melodic but not a bad song in the synth-pop genre. Not a song I especially remember though (have this album in my personal collection). Like the abstract sound and vocals at the end.



    Right By Your Side: The second single from the album has something of a Caribbean flavor to it. You have to salute the duo for being creative and it does fit in with their sound, but I also have to wonder if this signaled a more commercial direction that they would be taking at times on future albums, even albums I really like.

    Cool Blue: Another solid love song in the Eurythmics style. Annie Lennox was one of the best singers in the eighties and it shows here. There is even a little bit of humor with her vocals as well as the backup singers (How could she fall for a boy like that).




    Whoís That Girl: Today, when I think of that track I think of (ugh) Madonna as she came out with her own Whoís That Girl single not long after. Fortunately, this is nothing like Madonnaís song and it is actually a nice darkish track that was released as the duoís first single off the album.

    The First Cut: The music is kind of repetitive in a way, kind of like Yazoo. Now, I like some Yazoo to be fair, but Iím not sure if that type of background synth works as well on this track. Lennoxís always dependable vocals and a twangy guitar keep this from being a clinker though.

    Aqua: There seems to be a little anger with this track. One wonders if sheís singing in the voice in someone being murdered or at least drugged. Of course, I could be putting too much into this as I donít think the duo wrote out of righteousness or emotion like some artists might have. Anyway, the song is fair, nothing Iíd kill for by itself.

    No Fear No Hate No Pain (No Broken Hearts): This is definitively an eighties song when you hear the electric drums, the one true relic of that era. I love the medium slow rhythm to this. Probably my second favorite song on the album

    Paint a Rumour: This comes off as a mix between David Bowie and Hot Butter (Popcorn). It obviously works as a dance track, but I canít say this is a favorite track. It is kind of funky at parts though.



    OVERALL EFFECT: I might mention that three Eurythmics albums made my top 1001 list. Alas, this album is not one of them. Thatís not saying this isnít a good album, mind you, but it doesnít quite scream classic for me either. Indeed, overall, Iíd say it pales a bit compared to the previous album, Sweet Dreams Are Made of This, which also happens to be my favorite Eurythmics album. The following album, Be Yourself Tonight, though a little more commercial, I also rate better. Having said that, this is a decent album and definitely a must buy album for Eurythmics fans, something I actually was for a time in the eighties before they got way too commercial and MOR at the end. Anyway, overall, itís a pretty decent album even if I donít hold it in quite the same regard as Rolling Stone or Colin Larkin. So with thatÖ

    MUSTYíS RATING: 1/2

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  6. #6

    499. ALBERT KING- BORN UNDER A BAD SIGN




    Released: 1967
    Producer: Jim Stewart
    Label: Stax


    RANKINGS:

    RS (2012): 491
    RYM (1/1/2020): 1784
    NME (2014): not ranked
    Virgin (Colin Larkin-2000)- not ranked
    Mustyís top 1001 (2003)- not ranked
    AllMusic rating: Five stars



    This is supposed to be a compilation album even though the tracks were recorded between March 1966 and June 1967. Anyway, the legendary blues artist had signed with Stax records in 1966. He is backed by Booker T and the MGs and the Memphis Horns, the two famed house bands at Stax. Unfortunately, despite some nice reviews, the album failed to chart commercially, and King was again relegated to his classic live shows, notably at the two Fillmores . And, indeed, only RS and RYM even rate it. As for me, I have to admit never having heard this album (though Iím familiar with the title track, courtesy of Cream). Being a blues fan, Iím really looking forward to this, though, so letís give it a listen, shall we?



    Best tracks: Born Under a Bad Sign, Personal Manager, As the Years Go Passing By

    Weakest tracks: Oh, Pretty Woman, I Almost Lost My Mind




    Born Under a Bad Sign: This was written by William Bell and Booker T Jones, no doubt meant to be part of the Stax stable of songs. Instead, this turned out to be Kingís best remembered song as well as one of Creamís best covers. And it's indeed a classic with the Memphis Horns doing the backing here not to mention a great lead guitar by King.

    Crosscut Saw: Originally recorded by Tommy McClellan in 1941, this is a solid medium paced blues bit. I can see how King may have influenced the likes of Clapton, particularly during the Cream era. Genius compares this to Strange Brew actually, though I think they (Disraeli Gears and this album) may have been released at just about the same time

    Kansas City: This, of course, is the Wilbert Harrison classic. A great guitar riff but itís hard to top the original, especially when it comes to the vocals. Like the horn section here.

    Oh, Pretty Woman: This isnít the Roy Orbison song as it turns out. I had no clue how he could have covered that anyway. As it is, this isnít one of the songs that especially strikes me as one of the better tracks. Fits in well with the album though.

    Down, Donít Bother Me: This sounds more like BB King than Albert King but that isnít a bad thing. I do have to say the horns definitely are doing Albert some great justice here.

    The Hunter: This was written by the MGs, yes, the entire band. I find that interesting as they were an instrumental band, of course. I hear a little bit of a subtle Green Onions vibe here. Not the best track on the album though.

    I Almost Lost My Mind: A cover of the Ivory Joe Hunter ballad. I have to admit, Iím not an Ivory Joe Hunter fan and Pat Booneís versionÖ donít get me started. There is a nice flute here, but I canít say this track is much more than filler.

    Personal Manager: King co-wrote this with David Porter, but this isnít some swipe at a business shyster. Instead itís a reverse request to be, well, the personal manager of a love interest. Itís a typical blues theme of the late sixties to be sure. Clever lyrics and a slow bluesy backing. Another great guitar solo.

    Laundromat Blues: I think this is another cover of an old blues song. I could have sworn I heard a thirties song with that title. It certainly plays like a song from that period only with Kingís signature guitar and a nice piano. Incidentally, Isaac Hayes is credited as one of the piano players on this album.

    As the Years Go Passing By: A Peppermint Harris song penned for Fenton Robinson in 1959, this is a great minor key song. There is a dramatic flair to this track, not unlike some things Iíve heard from Bobby Blue Bland for example.

    The Very Thought of You: This is an old standard- period, by Ray Noble of all people. This is not a blues song by any length of the imagination. But this may have worked as a single in the early sixties. I certainly canít complain about this version and I kind of like it.


    OVERALL EFFECT: So, generally, when I listen to blues albums, they tend to be in the way of compilations. This one obviously isnít despite Wikipediaís assertions. It makes it easier to rate the albums on its own merits as opposed to some greatest hits package, which Iíll be doing quite a few of here. Is this an album Iíd be reaching for if I want to listen to blues? Outside of the title track, probably not, but you can hear Kingís unique guitar style all over this album, and the Stax musicians do the man great justice on these tracks. So, overall, Iíd have to say this was an enjoyable experience. And with thatÖ

    MUSTYíS RATING:

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  7. #7

    498. ZZ TOP- TRES HOMBRES




    Released: 1973
    Producer: Bill Ham
    Label: London


    RANKINGS:

    RS (2012): 490
    RYM (1/1/2020): 2625
    NME (2014): not ranked
    Virgin (Colin Larkin-2000)- 501
    Mustyís top 1001 (2003)- not ranked
    AllMusic rating: four and a half stars


    ZZ Top is one of the most successful bands to come out of Texas. They would be especially big in the MTV eighties with their Eliminator album which is also on this list.

    But this was their breakthrough album from way back in 1973. Bill Gibbons was a veteran musician even at this early stage, having started out with the garage band Moving Sidewalks in the late sixties. He joined forces with Dusty Hill and Frank Beard and ZZ Top was born. This was their third album and their first successful effort, landing a top forty hit with La Grange. The album received mixed reviews at the time, and I have to confess that ZZ Top isnít among my favorite bands, though I expect to like this better than Eliminator. Having said that, there is nothing wrong with a decent blues-rock album, so letís give this a whirl, shall we?



    Best tracks: Waitin For the Bus/Jesus Just Left Chicago, Hot Blue and Righteous, La Grange

    Weakest tracks: Precious and Grace, Shiek


    Waitin For the Bus: The album starts out with one of the more popular tracks on the album. Itís pure white manís blues to be sure with a nice harmonica to boot. Some good guitar work from Billy Gibbons. I like this track.

    Jesus Just Left Chicago: Genius.com says that there are two theories as to what this song is about. Is it about the high crime rate in Chicago (since Jesus left apparently)? Or is it more about how the radio waves tend to venture south at night? I can definitely say it ventured East as I could hear WLS from my house in Baltimore for years. Anyway, this segues from Waiting For the Bus and, combined, makes for one great six minute epic.

    Beer Drinkers & Hell Raisers: Another solid boogie blues tune. It was perhaps a precursor to what AOR radio would sound like in the coming years. I have to say this is a pretty solid track. It flows well and, again, some solid guitar work.

    Master of Sparks: Apparently this was something done in Texas where someone is put into a steel cage on the back of a pickup truck and is deemed the Master of Sparks if he survives. There is a bit of a dramatic flair to this. Not as strong as the first three tracks, but certainly not a bad track.

    Hot Blue and Righteous: This sounds like something Otis Redding might have done and there is certainly a Memphis influence on this album in general (it was recorded at Ardent studios). Itís a nice, bluesy soul ballad and I have to say Iím pretty impressed with the album so far.

    Move Me On Down the Line: Might be a Stones influence on this one. Exile On Main Street had been released the year before so that makes sense. A decent track though not quite as strong as the first side in general.

    Precious and Grace: And now the album seems to be tailing off a bit. A good attempt is certainly made at this track and I canít call this filler by any length of imagination, but this clearly isnít one of the stronger tracks. Donít hate it though.




    La Grange: The big hit from the album, I remember hearing this quite a bit on WCAO in Baltimore. Itís certainly a cool track to be sure. Interesting side note. Whoever owned the rights to John Lee Hookerís Boggie Chillun sued in 1992 and lost due to public domain rules. Nice try, I guess.

    Shiek: Some clever lyrics help this track a bit, but it plays like something that might have been done in concert. What I mean is sometimes something that plays well in a live arena doesnít work quite as well in the studio. Thatís the impression I get from this track anyway.

    Have You Heard: The album ends with another slow blues effort. A little bit of a gospel influence. Itís obvious ZZ Top put a lot of work on this album.



    OVERALL EFFECT: So basically, this is typical of a lot of good albums where the first side really knocks your socks off and the second side, well, doesnít. Actually, to be fair, side two is fairly listenable, and overall, Iíd rate it better than The Eurythmicsí Touch and equal to the Albert King album. Actually, I would have given the first side a five flower rating, but side two is more of a three smiles, so we take the difference and we come up withÖ

    MUSTYíS RATING: D

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  8. #8

    497. PUBLIC ENEMY- YO! BUM RUSH THE SHOW





    Released: 1987
    Producer: Rick Rubin, The Bomb Squad
    Label: Def Jam


    RANKINGS:

    RS (2012): not ranked
    RYM (1/1/2020): not ranked
    NME (2014): 259
    Virgin (Colin Larkin-2000)- made hip hop list
    Mustyís top 1001 (2003)- 727
    AllMusic rating: four and a half stars




    I think itís safe to say that Public Enemy was quite the controversial band in its day. Public Enemy was certainly a politically active rap group that often grated at the sensibilities of white establishment types. Chuck D was known as something of a black nationalist and that likely didnít jibe very well with white audiences.

    Yet, Chuck D and company gave you food for though with their often provocative lyrics with some of the most clever sampling in the backdrop. They certainly impressed the folks at Rolling Stone as this is the first of three albums on this list. I also have to admit that Iím not a particularly big hip hop fan with a few exceptions. Luckily, Public Enemy happens to be one of them as I can really dig the rhythm as well as the samples of the day (back then sampling wasnít considered a capital crime and virtually every hip-hop artist used sampling in the late eighties).

    This is the debut album from one of the most influential artists in hip-hop history and it promises to be a pretty provocative listen. So here we go.




    Best tracks: Too Much Posse, Rightstarter (Message To a Black Man), Yo! Bum Rush the Show

    Weakest tracks: Sophisticated Bitch






    Youíre Gonna Get Yours: For a band that was notorious for their political posturing, itís ironic that this more about a 98 Oldsmobile mostly, though I did catch a line about being shot at by a cop. As with many PE songs, it has a solid beat and itís a good way to start off a career, really.

    Sophisticated Bitch: Public Enemy, and perhaps Chuck D in particular, often have been accused of misogyny and this song is a good example of that rap. It almost sounds like Will Smith after he was rejected or something. More like the Hip Hop Osmonds meet Prodigy. Not a favorite track.

    Miuzi Weighs a Ton: This is essentially Public Enemyís introduction to the world. Some nice sampling and the semi-slow beats make this song rather attractive. One thing for sure, Public Enemy makes it clear they will be people to deal with.

    Timebomb: Hereís where the infamous Flavor Flav makes his debut as he introduces Chuck Dís latest rant. Itís kind of a Muhammad Ali type of rap as he namedrops Kareem Abdul Jabbar and Ali and Frazier for that matter. Another solid track.

    Too Much Posse: PE is sampling James Brown on this track as Flavor Flav raps about about a party essentially, though I sense some politicism in this as well. I like how the rhythm flows on this one and it rates as a favorite on this album.

    Rightstarter (Message to a Black Man): There is no doubt this one is vintage PE political ranting. Chuck D raps with righteous anger on this one. After a few okay to decent tracks, this album is really starting to take off. Chuck D is alluding to Elijah Muhammadís 1965 book, Message To the Black Man in America, so it could be that the black nationalist controversy for Public Enemy begins here. Very provocative to be sure.



    Public Enemy No.1: Fred Wesley and the JBs get the sampling treatment on this one in what I guess is Public Enemyís theme song. This comes off as another Chuck D rant and it certainly works as such.

    MPE: There are some clever references on this track such as Scarface and Kreskin not to mention Alexander Mundy and In Like Flint.. MPE continues the Public Enemy theme if you havenít figured out who these guys are yet. Itís a solid beat and side two is proving to be quite good so far. Alexander Mundy, by the way, was the lead character in the Robert Wagner series, It Takes a Thief, the late sixties TV series.


    Yo! Bum Rush the Show: The title track speaks of violence and crime to be sure. I have to admit, I have a hard time interpreting the lyrics on this album overall. To me the lyrics play out as a story of a stick up essentially, but I suspect Chuck D and company is talking about something a bit deeper. Musically, though, it is quite solid and Iím liking this album a lot by this point.

    Raise the Roof: It starts off as a party song before Chuck D proclaims himself a terrorist (a different meaning in 1987 Iím sure) not to mention a communist among other things. He talks about the ugliness heís seen and itís yet another song that will make you think.

    Megablast: Now this song, I think I get lyrics wise as Chuck D and Flavor Flav rant about the crack cocaine addiction for the most part. This track is a bit slower from a musical standpoint. There is a certain moodiness to this as you can hear the desperation on this track.

    Terminator X Speaks With His Hands: The album ends with an instrumental and it comes off as a pretty funky piece. It samples two songs on this LP as well as the Meters circa 1974. And it comes off as something that might have come out that year. Nice ending to a solid album.




    OVERALL EFFECT: Iím not going to profess to be an expert at Hip-Hop and, most of the time at least, Iím not much of a fan of the gangsta rap that would become popular in the nineties and beyond. I do, however, like the political rap that Public Enemy represents. Do they go over the top sometimes, absolutely, but maybe itís their way of trying to be heard. This is early hip hop at its finest. To say there is a lot of frustration on this album would be an understatement. Establishment types were no doubt nervous when this album came out, but this was just the beginning. Public Enemyís magnum opus was yet to come and, yes, we will be discussing that masterpiece later in this thread. As for this debut effort, letís just say that this is a pretty good start.

    MUSTYíS RATING: 1/2

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  9. #9

    496. KISS- DESTROYER





    Released: 1976
    Producer: Bob Ezrin
    Label: Casablanca


    RANKINGS:

    RS (2012): 489
    RYM (1/1/2020): not ranked
    NME (2014): not ranked
    Virgin (Colin Larkin-2000)- 745
    Mustyís top 1001 (2003)- not ranked
    AllMusic rating: Four and a half stars
    The Village Voice: C+


    I think itís safe this is an odd choice for a top 500 list. I think people remember Kiss as the Kabuki band that were more known for their stage theatrics than for their music. Indeed, it was a live album a year earlier that had put them on the most popular bands map. By 1976, Kiss and Aerosmith were arguably the top two AOR bands going at the time. Kids were trying to imitate Gene Simmons. I even knew a classmate who singed his eyebrows off breathing fire for an English class project of all things.

    The album didnít receive stellar reviews at the time, and it was only later that this album, and Kiss in general, began receiving some love. Of course, commercially, it did quite well.

    As for me, I have to confess Iím not much of a Kiss fan, but at the risk of being hunted down by the Kiss Army, Iíll review this album anyway, so here goesÖ


    Best tracks: Detroit Rock City, Great Expectations, Beth

    Weakest tracks: Flaming Youth, Sweet Pain, Shout It Out Loud






    Detroit Rock City: Co-written by Paul Stanley, this popular Kiss tune was written about a Kiss fan who was killed in an auto accident. Ended up as the B side to Beth. Pretty good by Kiss standards and is one of their more popular songs

    King of the Night Time World: The crash at the end of Detroit Rock City segues into this track. Originally recorded by the Hollywood Stars and co-written by Kim Fowley, this track is standard AOR fare, not as bad as I would have expected to be honest.

    God of Thunder: Written by Paul Stanley but sung by Gene Simmons. Itís certainly is more his speed. Some sound affects are added but itís Simmonsí sinister vocals that carries the piece.

    Great Expectations: Genius.com compared this track to Bowie and it is rather unlike the typical Kiss track to be sure. It certainly has a dramatic flair much like much of Bowie. Of course, only Bowie can be Bowie, but this isnít a bad track, surprisingly enough.



    Flaming Youth: This was released as a single as well. I donít remember this one doing as well as the other two. No surprise, in my opinion, as this doesnít sound like anything special. In fact, Iíd even go far as to say Iím a little bored. Maybe the weakest track on the album.

    Sweet Pain: This track doesnít especially impress me much either. Actually, I think this is weaker than Flaming Youth and could be one of Simmonsí worst tracks ever. Oh well, it could be Lick It Up.



    Shout It Out Loud: This was the first single off the album and pretty typical of what I didnít like about Kiss. This is more typical of a band that had a reputation for having a lot of style but not much substance. Still, this proved to be a pretty big hit for them.




    Beth: This is the Peter Criss ballad, complete with strings and probably the biggest hit off the album and perhaps the most popular song. It is rather un-Kiss like and I would probably rate this as the best track on the album.

    Do You Love Me: Paul Stanley is questioning whether his girlfriend is really into him or does she just want the glory of dating a rock star? I guess it depends if they went to the movies in makeup. Itís an okay track, not the worst song on the album

    Rock n Roll Party: This is really a quick add on to end the album. It sounds like something from a Kiss concert. I imagine they were a pretty exciting live band in their day.


    OVERALL EFFECT: As I mentioned before, I am no Kiss fan. Having grown up during this period, I sensed that we were in two camps, you either liked Kiss or you liked Aerosmith. I wasnít a fan of either but if a gun was put to my head, I would have gone with Aerosmith, who wasnít half bad in 1976. Kiss was a band I wasnít crazy about at all as I thought they were bent on destroying rock n roll at the time. Thatís a bit if an exaggeration of course, especially in retrospect as itís now obvious of their contributions to rock music.

    As for the album, well, I have to admit itís not as bad as I feared though it certainly isnít Beethoven. Iíd like to be able to say I liked it as there are a couple tracks I actually do like, but overall, itís not an album Iím going to be putting on the turntable anytime soon. I still wonder why RS would put any Kiss album outside of maybe Kiss Alive on this list, but hey, maybe there were some Kiss fans among the voters. Anyway, I donít find this to be a good album, but it doesnít totally stink either, so with thatÖ

    MUSTYíS RATING:


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  10. #10

    495. HUSKER DU- NEW DAY RISING




    Released: 1985
    Producer: Husker Du, Spot
    Label: SST


    RANKINGS:

    RS (2012): 488
    RYM (1/1/2020): 785
    NME (2014): not ranked
    Virgin (Colin Larkin-2000)- not ranked
    Mustyís top 1001 (2003)- not ranked
    AllMusic rating: Five stars


    Husker Du, along with the Replacements, was perhaps the best known band from the Minneapolis punk scene in the eighties (Prince, of course, was also from Minneapolis, but he was a totally different genre). Starting out as a hardcore post-punk band, Bob Mould and company got on the alternative rock map with Zen Arcade in 1984. New Day Rising was the album that followed and there is more of a commercial feel to this album. It certainly seemed to be a hit with the critics as, like Zen Arcade, it garnered rave reviews. Commercially, I donít recall the album doing very well outside of the usual fan base, and I confess I havenít heard a lot of Husker Du. So this may or may not be a treat. Anyway. Letís check it out.



    Best tracks: Celebrated Summer, Terms of Psychic Warfare

    Weakest tracks: Perfect Example, 59 Times the Pain


    New Day Rising: The title track starts off with a fast pace. Not much in terms of lyrics but I can see why Husker Du fans would like this. Solid track by the power trio.

    Girl Who Lives on Heaven Hill: There is a melodic edge to this hardcore track. Really, itís hard to call this a hardcore album when compared with the likes of, say, Black Flag. Very hard punk to be sure though.

    I Apologize: Bob Mould assumedly writes about a loversí spat. I guess weíre assuming heís apologizing to a woman though he would come out as gay later. Like the previous two tracks, itís high octane melodicism.

    Folk Lore: Bob Mould could occasionally get political, and he does here as he rails on traditional gender roles if Iím reading the lyrics right. This is a rather quick track and itís vintage post punk in all its messiness.

    If I Told You: Iíve been talking about Bob Mould a lot, but I would be remiss if I didnít mention that drummer/vocalist Grant Hart was just as important to the band. He co-wrote this track with Mould and does the lead vocals here. Solid track. Probably a solid three or four at this point.




    Celebrated Summer: This was released as the first single off the album. This, too, is Mouldís song and Iíve noticed his vocals must have changed later as he sings in a lower key on later recordings. Not that it mattered; singing was never really his forte. Another hard punker in the end analysis though there is a nice acoustic break that I really like.

    Perfect Example: Another Mould track that talks of rejection, and guess what? He mentions the quote ďHeís On To Me.Ē So, maybe it was already known about his sexual preference. Iíd probably would like the song better if I could hear the words more clearly though.

    Terms of Psychic Warfare: Now itís Grant Hartís turn to sing about loverís angst. There is a little bit of a Dylan vibe on this that makes this a bit different than most of this album. Have to give this track five flowers.

    59 Times the Pain: Bob Mould seems to be in a bit of pain on this album. I donít know much about Mould in terms of his relationships but I suspect it wasnít exactly Tracy and Hepburn. I canít get into this track too much, too much mumbling, really.

    Powerline: For some strange reason, I think I may have heard of this song. Itís basic Husker Du, though. Fairly melodic, fast paced, probably not as hardcore as some of the other tracks. Nice bass at the end.

    Books About UFOs: Clever, rather quirky track by Hart. Probably better lyrically than musically but isnít terrible by any means. Kind of a fun track really.

    I Donít Know What Youíre Talking About: This is typical Husker Du hardcore, the kind of thing that probably attracted fans to them in the early going. I think there might be a slight folk-rock vibe to this and other Husker Du tracks, such was their style in the mid eighties.

    How To Skin a Cat: This track was based on a rather sick urban legend. This was copied from an 1875 advertisement word for word. It turned out to have been meant as a joke but I could have seen the animal activists demanding the head of the unnamed newspaper editor on a platter. Freeform jazz punk essentially.

    Whatcha Drinkin: A quick spastic ditty by Mould, very typical of what you would have expected in post punk circles, very LA hardcore feel to this track.

    Plans I Make: The last track on the album as they make that cleat to producer Spot. What Spotís real name is, I would have no clue. Guess I should check Wiki. Anyway, this too falls under the LA Hardcore sound though I sense the actual LA bands did it better.


    OVERALL EFFECT: So basically, this comes off as a consistently decent hardcore album with some melodicism thrown in. I canít call this a great album and I donít regret not having it on my own list, but its is certainly a better than average mishmash of power trio punk. So, while I canít really single out any particular track as a classic, I still have to call this an above average album overall. So with thatÖ

    MUSTYíS RATING: 😊😊😊 1/2

    The Word has spoken
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