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REVIEWING THE ROLLING STONE 500 (2003) (1 Viewer)

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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. :D
 

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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…

27King CrimsonIn the Court of the Crimson King
30KinksFace To Face
41Flamin GrooviesShake Some Action
44Joan BaezJoan Baez In Concert
47Phil OchsI Ain't Marchin’ Anymore
50Patti SmithEaster
54BlondieBlondie
55United States of AmericaThe United States of America
59David BowieLodger
60REMReckoning
61WilcoYankee Hotel Foxtrot
64Deep PurpleMachine Head
66Patti SmithRadio Ethiopia
67GranddaddyThe Sophtware Slump
69KinksArthur (Or the Decline of the British Empire)
72Rolling StonesThe Rolling Stones
78Flaming LipsYoshimi Battles the Pink Robots
79John ColtraneBlue Train
80Johnny CashBitter Tears
82Neutral Milk HotelIn the Aeroplane Over the Sea
83Led ZeppelinLed Zeppelin III
86TrafficTraffic
88YesThe Yes Album
90BlondieEat To the Beat
91Camper Van BeethovenKey Lime Pie
93Electric Light OrchestraEldorado
94Johnny CashAmerican IV: The Man Comes Around
98Thirteenth Floor ElevatorsPsychedelic Sounds of
99Peter Paul and MaryPeter Paul and Mary
100Simon and GarfunkelThe 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. :D
 
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500. THE EURYTHMICS- TOUCH

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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
Musty’s 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 wasn’t 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 Eurythmics’ synth-pop style and it spawned them three more hits, two of them major.

So, it’s established that the Eurythmics, and this album, was commercially successful. Artistically, I imagine the reception is a little more mixed, so let’s 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



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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 isn’t 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.

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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).


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Who’s That Girl: Today, when I think of that track I think of (ugh) Madonna as she came out with her own Who’s That Girl single not long after. Fortunately, this is nothing like Madonna’s song and it is actually a nice darkish track that was released as the duo’s 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 I’m not sure if that type of background synth works as well on this track. Lennox’s 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 she’s singing in the voice in someone being murdered or at least drugged. Of course, I could be putting too much into this as I don’t think the duo wrote out of righteousness or emotion like some artists might have. Anyway, the song is fair, nothing I’d 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 can’t 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. That’s not saying this isn’t a good album, mind you, but it doesn’t quite scream classic for me either. Indeed, overall, I’d 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, it’s a pretty decent album even if I don’t hold it in quite the same regard as Rolling Stone or Colin Larkin. So with that…

MUSTY’S RATING: :):):) 1/2

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499. ALBERT KING- BORN UNDER A BAD SIGN

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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
Musty’s 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 I’m familiar with the title track, courtesy of Cream). Being a blues fan, I’m really looking forward to this, though, so let’s give it a listen, shall we? :D



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


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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 King’s best remembered song as well as one of Cream’s 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 it’s hard to top the original, especially when it comes to the vocals. Like the horn section here.

Oh, Pretty Woman: This isn’t the Roy Orbison song as it turns out. I had no clue how he could have covered that anyway. As it is, this isn’t one of the songs that especially strikes me as one of the better tracks. Fits in well with the album though.

Down, Don’t Bother Me: This sounds more like BB King than Albert King but that isn’t 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, I’m not an Ivory Joe Hunter fan and Pat Boone’s version… don’t get me started. There is a nice flute here, but I can’t say this track is much more than filler.

Personal Manager: King co-wrote this with David Porter, but this isn’t some swipe at a business shyster. Instead it’s a reverse request to be, well, the personal manager of a love interest. It’s 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 King’s 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 I’ve 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 can’t 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 isn’t despite Wikipedia’s assertions. It makes it easier to rate the albums on its own merits as opposed to some greatest hits package, which I’ll be doing quite a few of here. Is this an album I’d be reaching for if I want to listen to blues? Outside of the title track, probably not, but you can hear King’s unique guitar style all over this album, and the Stax musicians do the man great justice on these tracks. So, overall, I’d have to say this was an enjoyable experience. And with that…

MUSTY’S RATING: :D:D:D:D

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498. ZZ TOP- TRES HOMBRES

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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
Musty’s 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 isn’t 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 let’s 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. It’s pure white man’s 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). It’s a nice, bluesy soul ballad and I have to say I’m 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 can’t call this filler by any length of imagination, but this clearly isn’t one of the stronger tracks. Don’t hate it though.


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La Grange: The big hit from the album, I remember hearing this quite a bit on WCAO in Baltimore. It’s certainly a cool track to be sure. Interesting side note. Whoever owned the rights to John Lee Hooker’s 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 doesn’t work quite as well in the studio. That’s 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. It’s 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, doesn’t. Actually, to be fair, side two is fairly listenable, and overall, I’d rate it better than The Eurythmics’ 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 with…

MUSTY’S RATING: D:D:D:D

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497. PUBLIC ENEMY- YO! BUM RUSH THE SHOW

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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
Musty’s top 1001 (2003)- 727
AllMusic rating: four and a half stars




I think it’s 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 didn’t 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 I’m 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 wasn’t 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. :D




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

Weakest tracks: Sophisticated Bitch



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You’re Gonna Get Yours: For a band that was notorious for their political posturing, it’s 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 it’s 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 Enemy’s 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: Here’s where the infamous Flavor Flav makes his debut as he introduces Chuck D’s latest rant. It’s 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 Muhammad’s 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.

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Public Enemy No.1: Fred Wesley and the JBs get the sampling treatment on this one in what I guess is Public Enemy’s 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 haven’t figured out who these guys are yet. It’s 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 I’m 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 I’m sure) not to mention a communist among other things. He talks about the ugliness he’s seen and it’s 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: I’m not going to profess to be an expert at Hip-Hop and, most of the time at least, I’m 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 it’s 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 Enemy’s magnum opus was yet to come and, yes, we will be discussing that masterpiece later in this thread. As for this debut effort, let’s just say that this is a pretty good start.

MUSTY’S RATING: :D:D:D:D 1/2

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496. KISS- DESTROYER

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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
Musty’s top 1001 (2003)- not ranked
AllMusic rating: Four and a half stars
The Village Voice: C+


I think it’s 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 didn’t 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 I’m not much of a Kiss fan, but at the risk of being hunted down by the Kiss Army, I’ll review this album anyway, so here goes…


Best tracks: Detroit Rock City, Great Expectations, Beth

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


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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. It’s certainly is more his speed. Some sound affects are added but it’s Simmons’ 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 isn’t a bad track, surprisingly enough.

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Flaming Youth: This was released as a single as well. I don’t remember this one doing as well as the other two. No surprise, in my opinion, as this doesn’t sound like anything special. In fact, I’d even go far as to say I’m a little bored. Maybe the weakest track on the album.

Sweet Pain: This track doesn’t especially impress me much either. Actually, I think this is weaker than Flaming Youth and could be one of Simmons’ worst tracks ever. Oh well, it could be Lick It Up.

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Shout It Out Loud: This was the first single off the album and pretty typical of what I didn’t 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.


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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. It’s 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 wasn’t a fan of either but if a gun was put to my head, I would have gone with Aerosmith, who wasn’t half bad in 1976. Kiss was a band I wasn’t crazy about at all as I thought they were bent on destroying rock n roll at the time. That’s a bit if an exaggeration of course, especially in retrospect as it’s now obvious of their contributions to rock music.

As for the album, well, I have to admit it’s not as bad as I feared though it certainly isn’t Beethoven. I’d like to be able to say I liked it as there are a couple tracks I actually do like, but overall, it’s not an album I’m 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 don’t find this to be a good album, but it doesn’t totally stink either, so with that…

MUSTY’S RATING: :neutral: :neutral:


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495. HUSKER DU- NEW DAY RISING

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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
Musty’s 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 don’t recall the album doing very well outside of the usual fan base, and I confess I haven’t heard a lot of Husker Du. So this may or may not be a treat. Anyway. Let’s 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, it’s 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 lovers’ spat. I guess we’re assuming he’s apologizing to a woman though he would come out as gay later. Like the previous two tracks, it’s high octane melodicism.

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

If I Told You: I’ve been talking about Bob Mould a lot, but I would be remiss if I didn’t 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.

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Celebrated Summer: This was released as the first single off the album. This, too, is Mould’s song and I’ve 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 “He’s On To Me.” So, maybe it was already known about his sexual preference. I’d probably would like the song better if I could hear the words more clearly though.

Terms of Psychic Warfare: Now it’s Grant Hart’s turn to sing about lover’s 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 don’t know much about Mould in terms of his relationships but I suspect it wasn’t exactly Tracy and Hepburn. I can’t get into this track too much, too much mumbling, really.

Powerline: For some strange reason, I think I may have heard of this song. It’s 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 isn’t terrible by any means. Kind of a fun track really.

I Don’t Know What You’re 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 Spot’s 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 can’t call this a great album and I don’t regret not having it on my own list, but its is certainly a better than average mishmash of power trio punk. So, while I can’t really single out any particular track as a classic, I still have to call this an above average album overall. So with that…

MUSTY’S RATING: 1/2

The Word has spoken :mrgreen:
 

Deleted member 56686

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

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


RANKINGS:

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


Okay, first of all, this was/is one strange girl so let’s 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, it’s safe to say she’s a bit quirky and one can expect this album to be as well. So here goes…



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

Weakest tracks: When You Were Mine, I’ll Kiss You


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Money Changes Everything: I actually had the original version from a band known as The Brains. I think it’s 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 I’m sure Lauper fans will like this one.

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Girls Just Want To Have Fun: Cyndi’s 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, it’s a nice piece of pop basically. Certainly top forty material by 1983 standards and it made it to number two.

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When You Were Mine: The sixth and last single from this album (out of ten songs too) was penned by Prince. It didn’t do particularly well on the charts. It’s actually a pretty decent song but Lauper really doesn’t do this very well. Prince does this much better on his Dirty Mind album (1980).

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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. :lol:

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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, it’s a catchy tune and deserving of it’s top five chart ranking, even if it’s not exactly my style.

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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. It’s 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 isn’t terrible but, like most of the album, it’s not something I’d kill for.

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

He’s 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 doesn’t sound like anything especially inspired and certainly won’t 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). I’m only giving it two blehs, but I can’t honestly say I found it boring. I think it’s 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.

MUSTY’S RATING: :neutral: :neutral:

The Word has spoken :mrgreen:
 

Deleted member 56686

Retired Supervisor
WF Veterans
493. EARTH WIND AND FIRE- THAT'S THE WAY OF THE WORLD

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




RANKINGS:

RS (2012): 486
RYM (1/1/2020): 5507
NME (2014): not ranked
Virgin (Colin Larkin-2000)- not ranked
Musty’s 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 can’t honestly say I can get into EWF. They seemed to have become way more commercial after this album. Not that they were bad, they weren’t, just kind of bland.

But that’s for later. This album has the potential to be quite exciting so let’s give it a while, shall we?


Best tracks: Shining Star, Happy Feeling, Africano

Weakest tracks: All About Love

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

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That’s the Way of the World: This follow up hit is the epitome of what I’d call smooth jazz. It’s 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 I’m not really into soft soul ballads in general. I mean, it’s not a bad track; it just doesn’t 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 can’t 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. It’s a pretty ballad to be sure and is everything that All About Love isn’t. It isn’t sappy and it’s 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. It’s 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 it’s an excellent track. Like the African rhythm bit at the end.


OVERALL EFFECT: So, overall, I’d have to say this is a nice album to listen to if there isn’t much else available. If my rating seems low, it’s more because it’s not really a genre I can get into, at least not when it’s 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, I’ll give this one a…

MUSTY’S RATING: 1/2

The Word has spoken :mrgreen:
 

Deleted member 56686

Retired Supervisor
WF Veterans
PEARL JAM- VITALOGY

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Released: 1994
Producer: Brendan O’Brien
Label: Epic


RANKINGS:

RS (2012): 485
RYM (1/1/2020): 3183
NME (2014): not ranked
Virgin (Colin Larkin-2000)- 717
Musty’s 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 didn’t I rank this (neither did NME by the way)? Well, to be honest, I’m not that much into Pearl Jam. I certainly respect them and I get why they’ve 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 wasn’t 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.

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Spin the Black Circle: So now we go from the darkness of suicide to the joys of drug abuse. It isn’t even cryptic as Vedder starts off with “See This Needle.” 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.

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Not For You: This is Vedder’s 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 Beatles’ tune. I guess I can hear the Harrison influence in the lead guitar but, to me, it’s pretty ordinary Pearl Jam material.

Nothingman: Vedder sings of having screwed up a relationship on this one basically. This is one of Pearl Jam’s slower, bluesier numbers. I tend to like Pearl Jam’s 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 I’ll refrain from calling it a favorite :lol:

Satan’s 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 I’ve always have had a fascination with peoples’ 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. It’s 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.

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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, That’s 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 let’s start off by saying I’m not a huge fan of Pearl Jam. Even the name sounds a bit, um, off putting. I don’t dislike them, mind you. It’s just compared to the other Seattle grunge bands of the day (Nirvana, Soundgarden, STP), I’d 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, we’ll be hearing from them again), but they don’t 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 aren’t that bad. Still, I can’t 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?

MUSTY’S RATING: 1/2

The Word has spoken :mrgreen:
 
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