Top 100 Album Review: #76 – Imagine, John Lennon (1971)

Extremely Eclectic.

Lennon throws everything at the wall and finds things that sticks. 

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Rolling Stone’s Ranking: #76/100
My Rating: cropped-smooth-star-e1545862962550cropped-smooth-star-e1545862962550cropped-smooth-star-e1545862962550cropped-smooth-star-e1545862962550

We are now entering the uncharted realm of post-Beetles work. I have discovered so many hidden finds in Sgt. Pepper, Revolver, The White Album, Abbey Road, and Let It Be that I’ve only written one review on those works so far; I’m just not ready to put those experiences into words. There is so much material. I need more time to let it sink in.

I was wondering how everything would work when they split up. It’s evident as a group that they covered each other’s blind spots. Lennon was iconoclastic and not afraid to tread into weird domains, but McCartney kept him honest and found ways to use lyrics and traditional pop to keep him grounded. Lennon’s second solo album is a solid go, but you can’t help but Imagine what some of the songs could have been With a Little Help From His Friends*.

*I hate myself for making this joke. 

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Top 100 Album Review: #25 – Rumors, Fleetwood Mac (1977)

What a Top 100 Album Should Be.

Multiple good songs with great lyrics in a unique sound that impacted culture along with high record sales. BAM-BAM-BAM-BAM. 

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Rolling Stone’s Ranking: #25/100
My Rating: cropped-smooth-star-e1545862962550cropped-smooth-star-e1545862962550cropped-smooth-star-e1545862962550cropped-smooth-star-e1545862962550cropped-smooth-star-e1545862962550

Not every Rolling Stone Top 100 Album is a good listen. There seems to be cognitive dissonance about having too much music that’s enjoyable to listen to, as if heralding it will encroach on the art form itself and cause it to self-destruct. So albums that have some “high art” angle get elevated, even if the work as a whole isn’t good (take the inclusion of Frank Sinatra’s “In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning” over his better albums because it’s “artsy”).

Rumours is a rejoiceful reminder that music that has memorable compositions with ear-worm hooks can be every bit as impactful as some avant-garde release, and hell, it might even be enjoyable to listen to!

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Top 100 Album Review: #99 – There’s a Riot Goin’ On (1971)

Funk Muzak.

Perfect background music for shopping at the Dollar General, awful for everything else.

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Rolling Stone’s Ranking: #99/100
My Rating: cropped-smooth-star

The joy of the “Top 100 Albums” of all time is that you are going to find hidden gems. If you like music, you already know some Sly and the Family Stone, but you probably don’t know the whole catalogue. This gives you an opportunity to find good music from their best work. Think about all the hits they had; they probably had some killer tracks that didn’t receive airtime!

“There’s a Riot Goin’ On” doesn’t have a single hit. Worse, the album is an overdose of NyQuil: you get 47 minutes of repetitive base lines and nondescript music that never arrises to any occasion.

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Top 100 Album Review: #52 – Greatest Hits, Al Green (1975)

A Greatest Hits Album a Top 100?

The albums really good, but it still feels like cheating.

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Rolling Stone’s Ranking: #52/100
My Rating: cropped-smooth-starcropped-smooth-starcropped-smooth-starcropped-smooth-star

I’m not sure how I feel about including a greatest hits compilation as one of the best albums of all time. Here, we have a collection of ten songs over a five year period which contains Green’s best material. Of course it’s phenomenal, but allowing the selective piece-mealing of someone’s entire career into one work doesn’t seem comparable to other albums that were released as a one-time entity.

Regardless, it’s still damn good and with so many awful iterations of greatest hits CDs, it’s refreshing to listen to one that’s produced so well that it feels like a regular album.

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Top 100 Album Review: #56 – Songs in the Key of Life (1976)

Stevie’s Magnus Opus

While a bit self-indulgent, this double-LP contains so much good material it’s impossible to listen to it all in one sitting. 

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Rolling Stone’s Ranking: #56/100
My Rating: cropped-smooth-starcropped-smooth-starcropped-smooth-starcropped-smooth-starcropped-smooth-star

I had a three hour drive ahead of me, and I thought I would be able to get through all of “Songs in the Key of Life,” but halfway through the album I was exhausted. It is a pit of endless material.

If I had to register a minor compliant — some of these songs are just too long, which contributes to the exhaustion level. But hey, if I put together a 21 track album, some of which would live on forever as a quintessential-American soundtrack, I might do whatever I want, too.

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Top 100 Album Review: #1 – Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band, The Beatles (1967)

It’s a Good One.

Afraid that I would dislike “the greatest album of all time,” The Beatles deliver in spectacular fashion. 

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Rolling Stone’s Ranking: #1/100
My Rating: cropped-smooth-starcropped-smooth-starcropped-smooth-starcropped-smooth-starcropped-smooth-star

The Beatles are mythical. Growing up before a wave of Americans, their career spans decades from a boy band, to quintessential hippies, and finally finishing with solo careers. The Beatles are the biggest band of all time — no argument. But, would the hype lead to oversight? Would weak tracks and poor music be wiped under the rug, powered by the musical force that is The Beatles?

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band is everything as advertised: a complete album representing a perfect cross-section of avant-garde arrangements, lyrical content, and song writing.

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Top 100 Album Review: #65 – Moondance, Van Morrison (1970)

Brass Folk

Morrison mixes folksy guitar work with some brass backing to make a unique sound.

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Rolling Stone’s Ranking: #65/100
My Rating: cropped-smooth-starcropped-smooth-starcropped-smooth-star

I put on this album before I started a 5 mile run. Reaching the crest of a hill with the sun peaking out on the horizon, “Into the Mystic” began to play. It made me reach a spatially different mindset where time seemed to neither move nor matter. I had moved into some alternative space where my run was effortless and my thoughts easy.

The entire Moondance album has an otherworldly feel: it slowly hypnotizes you with easy guitar, folky lyrics, and soft brass bands interspersed through the music. The style becomes repetitive though, with not all the songs making an impact.

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