Monday, January 29, 2007

Top Albums (165-151)- I am tired a 1/4 through

165. The Secret of Time- Charlie Peacock (obscure to anyone that did not listen to Christian music in the 80s or 90s, Peacock is the closest thing to Sting and Peter Gabriel- with Rick Rubin production prowess- in the Gospel Ghetto. While LoveLife had Into the Light, The Secret of Time was more consistent and confessional with a darker focus. Many of his albums could be on this list if I had a better memory.)
164. Blister Soul- Vigilantes of Love (the best songwriter of his day and one of the great bands of all time at their most battered- at the time- and rowdiest. Producer John Keane turns up the volume on this album and releases something inside of Mallonee we have not heard since. Skin may be the best song ever written about Van Gogh- along with being prescient considering Bill's own suffering for the sake of art. If there were any justice in the radio world, this album would have been a Grammy award winning platinum success.)
163. KICK- INXS (I had already been an INXS fan for years when they finally broke through. While Listen Like Thieves means more to me, KICK is one of the best pop albums I have ever heard. There is not a bad song on the album. You could go nowhere in my college town without hearing these songs. Like The Cars, you liked INXS whether you were a fan of dance music, alternative music, pop, soul or new wave. This is a one-of-kind band with one of the great front men in music history- RIP Michael.)
162. Chagall Guevara- Chagall Guevara (the Clash saved Steve Taylor's life- musically- and he repays the favor with a politically charged angry rock band channeling The Clash's spirit through a Biblical framework. One of the most obscure albums on this list, it has the big 3 in spades- 1) Loud, 2) Melody, 3) Intelligence. Seldom has a band released one album and it been this good.)
161. Ohio- Over the Rhine (too new to be too high, this is a glorious album, one that does not suffer with fluff by expanding it to a double album. It must be to listened to in its entirety. It is the middle ground between the living room intimacy of Good Dog Bad Dog and the organic but slightly processed sugar of Films for Radio.)
160. Absolution- Muse (yet another band that elicits strong opinions- my wife hates them. The pompous British rock band taking its cues from Pink Floyd, U2, Radiohead and Yes is over the top- but not as over-the-top as they are on their latest album. Imagine Beethoven leading a rock band and you get Muse. The dark spirituality of this album is among my favorite themes in rock music and it creates a cohesive vision for an expanse of the band's musical palette. Thoughts of a Dying Atheist is the highlight and could be used by Southern Baptist evangelists if they knew this band existed and could understand the lyrics. The Apocalypse never sounded so good.)
159. Lonesome Jubilee- John Mellencamp (nobody was using traditional instruments, such as violin in pop and rock music at the time, even REM was barely exploring the idea. Although a Midwesterner, Mellencamp captures the gritty southern farm life of my parents and ancestors. Seldom do albums bring instrumentation and lyrics together in this fashion. Paper in Fire could have been written and released in 1950 or 2007. It is timeless and Mellencamp's best song.)
158. Business as Usual- Men at Work ( bought it as a kid and still own the vinyl album. Much like fellow Aussies INXS, this was great pop music and fresher than anything coming from the States. Who Can it Be Now, Down Under- which introduced Americans to Australian culture before Croc Dundee- and Underground were reggae influenced hits coming close to The Police or The Beat musically, but nowhere near as cool culturally, which was their downfall coupled with overexposure.)
157. And Justice for All- Metallica (the bridge between the thrash metal band they had been and the orchestral metal band they were becoming, this was their first hit album and featured the beautiful One. I must admit I like this album much better than their smash eponymous release. However, it is not in the league of Master of Puppets, which will be discussed much later. You never pictured me as a Metalhead, huh? I am not, but I was able to see this band live in 87, which is among the greatest shows of my life. My head is still ringing.)
156. The Globe Sessions- Sheryl Crow (no matter who she dates or how many makeovers she has, Sheryl Crow is a brilliant songwriter, one of the few to marry Dylanesque storytelling and imagery with pop gloss. On this album she takes the road away from Top 40 immediacy and towards Americana long-term artistry- even if she chooses the shortcut later in her career. This would be an obscure album praised by Paste and No Depression magazines alone if she had not already become a star.)
155. Combat Rock- The Clash (by no means a great album, especially by the standards The Clash set forth. However, it is the only real The Clash album I bought when it came out, introducing me to one of the greatest bands ever. I must be grateful. Plus, Rock the Casbah is one of the great misunderstood songs of all time. I must now quote a piece, "The sheik, he drove his Cadillac, He went a-cruisin' down the ville, The muezzin was a-standing on the radiator grille.")
154. Second Hand- Mark Heard (a great songwriter that died too young. Much like Jeff Buckley and Elliot Smith, we will never grasp where his music was headed- it had not yet peaked- and suffer musically for it. This album is more straight forwardly acoustic than others, which tend towards the Appalachian sound he is known for, with the highlight being Nod Over Coffee which can never be covered too often. Alas, if young guitar slinging boys in coffee shops longed to be Mark Heard instead of James Taylor or John Mayer, the world would be a better place indeed.)
153. Sea Change- Beck (oh, how I wish Beck would get his heart broken more often, especially if this is what it sounds like. Strikingly resplendent music with simple, yet strangely dense production. More in line with the works of Nick Drake, Elliot Smith- 2 references in a row- and Aimee Mann than his usual White-Prince motif.)
152. Pontiac- Lyle Lovett (his second album was my introduction to a musician unlike any I had heard up to that point. Had anyone ever made a such a sweet sounding ditty documenting the murder of an ex-girlfriend and her groom on their wedding day? Had anyone else thought Tonto should tell the Lone Ranger to "kiss his ass?" I know of very few artists blessed with the dark wit Lyle possesses. In fact, none is in his league. "Redneckness has got to be a disease, you catch it on your fingers and it crawls right up your sleeve," from Give Back My Heart is one of the great song lines...ever. And, I don't know why anyone would think She's No Lady is misogynist. Really.)
151. I against I- Bad Brains (1/4 through the list and I come upon another album that blew my mind upon initial listen. Being a white kid from a small town, I was naive to say the least when it came to music from black artists. The only black musicians I knew that played guitars were Hendrix and Prince. I had never heard of Bob Marley and did not know what hardcore was. Hearing a bunch of jazz musicians charge through introductory Rastafarianism while channeling Bob Marley, The Clash and Metal prepared me for the rest of my musical life. Nothing was beyond possibility. Without this album we would have no Living Color, Rage Against The Machine, Ill Communication by The Beastie Boys.)

6 comments:

James said...

Totally agree on your INXS assessment with Listen Like Thieves being slightly better than KICK. Man, that KICK album though. I must have listened to that tape in my walkman hundreds of times.

And Metallica. Man Master & Justice are almost a toss up for me. Can't wait to see your write up on the former.

Mike said...

this is the best list yet. stoked to see American IV on the 180, but would have put it higher. you are dead on about Ohio. I think it will be the one work people think of when they are talking about OTR. And Blister is dead on. That album brings tears to my eyes.

Rick said...

on a future list, IV will be higher. it is still new and should be in the top 100 (alas, I am not good at this).

While I love Justice, I think Master of Puppets is the greatest metal album of all time (only G&R's Appetite is not metal, but better). Master of Puppets makes the Top 50.

Anonymous said...

I haven't listened to Secret of Time by Charlie Peacock. However, West Coast Diaries, Vol. 2, is, in my opinion, Charlie Peacock's best work. With Jimmy A on guitar, Vince Ebo on bgvs, this is a top pop album, regardless of the secular/christian divide. Michael of TN

Rick said...

I got that album (the best of the 3) after the fact, I believe. So, I could not include it.

Ebo is on Secret and I believe Abegg is.

mike said...

dude, where is the American Idol rep on this list? no Kelly C?