The Beatles finally arrive to adulthood.
Rolling Stone’s Ranking: #5/100
One of the best adult moments I’ve had is experiencing the music of The Beatles. Consider that I almost made it to 30 before really appreciating the breadth and endless selection from the best band of all time. How did I avoid it for so long?
When I was younger, I was extremely pro African American music. I was the only white 17 year old I knew in the county of Hanover that could list every Stevie Wonder album and owned Marvin Gaye shirts. When driving my friends around, I felt it was my job to introduce them to Ray Charles, The Four Tops, and the like.
Out of spite, I defended it against all potential perpetrators, particularly The Beatles. My main evidence? The early creampuff pop entries that were fueled by Beatlemania and teenage girl hysteria. I didn’t know, or care to find out, about the later albums when the band grew up and began to push music forward in all sorts of ways.
Rubber Soul is the demarcation. After this album, The Beatles were no longer boys singing about wanting to hold your hand. There might still be a lot of relationship talk, but the edginess and experimentation is evident. There was no going back after this.
Continue reading “Top 100 Album Review: #5 – Rubber Soul, The Beatles (1965)”
Squalling and yelling on top of multiple layers of improvised classical, jazz, and folk.
Rolling Stone’s Ranking: #21/100
There is a lady who sings international music on the sidewalks of Carytown in Richmond, VA. Densely-populated with shops and restaurants, she sings inaudible oscillating pitches while improvising on foreign instruments as the shapeless crowd passes by. As far as street performances go, it’s okay.
To my knowledge, she’s never placed an album on a top 100 list which makes sense. Her venue matches her output. Astral Weeks, absolutely similar with undecipherable yelps and forgettable compositions, would be right at home on the same city side-block as her.
Continue reading “Top 100 Album Review: #19 – Astral Weeks, Van Morrison (1968)”
Might Be My Favorite Album of All-Time.
I can’t find anything to debase — everything is perfectly as it should be.
Rolling Stone’s Ranking: #23/100
If I had to answer the impossible question of “What’s your favorite album of all-time?” this would be labeled Exhibit A in the evidence. Stevie Wonder’s Innervisions does everything well: it’s an eclectic collection of genres; it’s poppy, catchy, and weird all at once; it’s socially conscious and meaningful.
A deeply personal account that pierces your ego, it’s a rare piece of art where performer and listener almost overlap. Certain lyrics and measures cut me to the bone. The last time I remember someone being this open with their feelings on vinyl was Joni Mitchell’s Blue. The best part: it’s from a pop master, with every song sticking with you for days (or in my case, years).
Continue reading “Top 100 Album Review: #23 – Innervisions, Stevie Wonder (1973)”
Every Rap Artists’ Favorite Sample.
I used to like rap until I realized their contribution is so shockingly little. Bands like Sly deserve all the credit.
Rolling Stone’s Ranking: #60/100
Rap music is a sham — a few lyrics over hooks, lines, and beats from the actually great musicians of the 60s and 70s. It doesn’t deserve the accolades it receives. I realize everything is inspired by what came before in the long lineage of artistic output. The difference with hip-hop/rap is that there is no attempt to build on that inspiration; it’s blatant theft that’s out in the open for all to see.
Coolio’s Gangsta’s Paradise is really Stevie Wonder’s Pastime Paradise. Warren G’s I Want it All is really Debarge’s I Like It. Cardi B’s I Like It is really an old-time hit from Rodriguez’s I Like it Like That. Let’s be honest about the format: producers pay a price for a sample because it’s cheaper and easier than actually going through the artistic process. Then, they introduce the song to audiences young enough they don’t know the song is an imitation. This slight of hand perpetuates the fake talent of the artist.
If you add up all the samples used from songs from The Greatest Hits by Sly and the Family Stone, it totals to 697. So much for the trailblazing Dr. Dre, Tupac, Digital Underground, Biggie, Jungle Brothers, or anybody else you can think from the rap industry.
It’s time to give the true artists of creation credit: welcome to one of the best albums of all-time by Sly and the Family Stone!
Continue reading “Top 100 Album Review: #60 – Greatest Hits, Sly and the Family Stone (1970)”
An Album Where Every Track Is Good.
Hits, b-sides, upbeat, slow tempo — this album has it all.
Rolling Stone’s Ranking: #90/100
Ten years ago, I tried to do this same blog where I reviewed the top 100 albums, books, and movies of all time. I didn’t get very far, maybe only posting three times (versus the 143 posts I’m currently sitting at 😇). One of those posts were Talking Book. I gave it five stars then, and I’m giving it five stars now.
My favorite moment was the end of track nine where I thought it was the end of the album. “I couldn’t ask for anymore,” thinking to myself. Then, I was rewarded with one more beautiful love ballads in I Believe, a complete surprise to cap off what I thought was already the limit.
Continue reading “Top 100 Album Review: #90 – Talking Book, Stevie Wonder (1972)”
I Recall None It.
With some songs going as long as 23 minutes, nothing is important from this aimless jam.
Rolling Stone’s Ranking: #49/100
This album is your typical top 100 switcharoo. Here is how it goes:
You know of the band or musician (in this case, it is the Allman Brothers) and you like the songs you do know (for instance Midnight Rider and Ramblin’ Man). You are excited to learn more of their stuff, and since it’s a top 100 album of all-time, you know it’s going to be great. Instead, you get NONE of the good songs that you do know, no good NEW stuff you didn’t know, and find there is NOTHING special about the album.
They did it to me with Frank Sinatra, then Sly and the Family Stone, and now the Allman Brothers. I realize I’m on the wrong side of history — good luck finding someone who doesn’t revere this as the most important live album of all-time. It’s just truly aimless, and the incessantly repeated improvisations lasting as long as television shows never made a dent with me.
Continue reading “Top 100 Album Review: #49 – At Fillmore East, The Allman Brothers Band (1971)”
A Tasteful Hard Rock Album.
Tasteful in musical composition, not lyrics of course.
Rolling Stone’s Ranking: #73/100
Anything that fits under the genre Hard Rock or Heavy Metal is rat poison to me: the crass lyrics screamed at the decibels of chainsaws just doesn’t do it for me. Actually, it makes me shut-down, and like a nuclear reactor that’s about to explode, I begin an emergency protocol to get the hell away from it as quick as possible.
Considering AC/DC hard rock might be a joke to some — I know if you look at the Rock n’ Roll continuum, there is such screaming, hard rock out there that in comparison they can look like a Bach coverband. For me, Back in Black is touching the outer limits of what can be inherently pleasing to me but transcends it by reigning in the “hard/heavy” aspect along with some very good songs.
Continue reading “Top 100 Album Review: #73 – Back in Black, AC/DC (1980)”