Top 100 Album Review: #30 – Blue, Joni Mitchell (1971)

An Extremely Personal Expose About Relationships

Completely exposed, Joni Mitchell touches a nerve featuring all textures of a relationship. Her infatuation, longing, loneliness, and heartbreak is cracked open for all of us to see.

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Rolling Stone’s Ranking: #30/100
My Rating:smooth-starsmooth-starsmooth-starsmooth-starsmooth-star

The first two CDs I ever owned were Lou Bega’s Mumbo Number 5 and Joni Mitchell’s Blue. What do you want — I was a weird kid. Riding around on bus #22, I jammed out to the folk goodness of Joni Mitchell as we caravanned down cow-covered patches in western Hanover in Virginia.

I shouldn’t say I owned it; I overheard it being played by my sister and my mother, and after one of them left it in the CD drive, I got in the habit of listening to it while playing some of my favorite browser-based games (Archmage or Sissyfight anyone?). As a 13 year old, I did not exactly catch what all the lyrics were about. I much more appreciated the solid tunes and the earthy tones of the singer-song writer genre that was pretty absent from my 90s music diet.

Listening to this as a thirty year old is quite a different experience — past people and places bubbling to the surface with each track.

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Top 100 SNES Review: #19 – Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy Kong’s Quest (1995)

A Platformer That Gives Reason to Replay

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Sydlexia’s Ranking: #19/100
Developer: Rare
My Rating: smooth-starsmooth-starsmooth-starsmooth-starsmooth-star

This has always been a down low favorite game of mine, and it has a lot to do with all the secrets that are so enticing to find. Diddy Kong’s Quest offered the original Xbox Achievements as each level is scattered with hidden DK coins and tokens. I feel like this was the first time that someone considered replay value beyond a stale rerun through the same levels.

DK2 has the usual quirkiness that the game traditionally brings: a little bit of culture, bizarre animal enemies, and adult Kongs that have their own unique angles. Cranky Kong is probably a favorite as he chastises the player for having it so much easier than earlier gamers (arcade and NES era) and breaks the fourth wall a little bit. This always gave the game a boost of flare and made it more rememberable.

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Top 100 Album Review: #91 – Goodbye Yellow Brick Road – Elton John (1973)

Rip-Roaring Rock, Start to Finish

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Rollingstone Magazine’s ranking: #91/100
My Rating: smooth-starsmooth-starsmooth-starsmooth-starsmooth-star

I came of age in a post-album era. iTunes purchases were only .99 per song, and we picked apart an artist’s catalog like making our plates at a buffet.

I wonder what this has done to our musical palate: we don’t give ourselves time to give any songs a chance, never mind giving a whole album with a variety of lyrics and tunes an opportunity to impress us.

I only knew about Elton John via his greatest hits. But, that kind of leaves me with no idea of who Elton really was as an artist. I feel like it has been said that we get to know an artist through their “B-Side” (which is a reference to the other song that was sold with a single when it was a physical 45RPM vinyl disc), so I was blissfully unaware of anything beyond “Crocodile Rock” and such.

Elton John was born in 1947 and has had an illustrious career starting with his first album in 1969 (Empty Sky) culminating throughout the years to make him the 5th best selling artist of all-time, having 50 (FIFTY) top 40 hits and releasing 30 studio albums. So we know Elton can write a hit, and many of them, but how does his album work hold up?

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Top 100 Album Review: #100 – In the Wee Small Hours – Frank Sinatra (1955)

Like the Concept, Not the Execution

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Rating: smooth-starsmooth-star

I’ve always been a fan of Frank Sinatra. One of the first albums I ever owned was “Classic Sinatra – His Great Performances from 1953 to 1960.” Those 20 songs encapsulate so much of what is great about Sinatra: timeless voice, great instrumental backing, classic songs.

During college, I worked at a local YMCA that played awful radio music and during the holidays the station changed to Christmas music only. We literally listened to nonstop, Christmas music for 30 days — you try and deadlift to “Do You Hear What I Hear.” (Gentle reminder that this was before mp3 players).

I took over as part-time DJ during my shift to avoid from losing it, and I would occasionally sneak in upbeat Sinatra songs to cater to the “Open to All” mission statement but quickly learned how sensitive people were to music selection.

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