Sunday, 11 November 2012

1001 Albums Update: 101 and counting!

I know I said I probably wouldn't do any dedicated posts for this, but I've made a lot of progress already! Just as I thought, the magic of Youtube etc has made my task so much easier, and I've powered through a lot of stuff by listening along while working.

So, here's what I've been listening to this week:

  • Neil Young - Rust Never Sleeps 
Albums like this make me miss the days when vinyl was king, and people would find creative ways to use the A side-B side format.
This is a prime example: side A is a largely acoustic affair in the vein of After The Goldrush ("Thrasher" and "Pocahontas" in particular were favourites of mine), while on side B, Neil and Crazy Horse plug their instruments in and play some heavier stuff. 
The only track to appear on both sides (and hence get both treatments), "Into The Black" is classic Neil Young (and all too infamous for being associated with Kurt Cobain's suicide).

  • ACDC - Back In Black, Highway To Hell: Can't believe I've never listened to these before, so many classics between the two. "Shoot To Thrill", "You Shook Me All Night Long", "Girl's Got Rhythm".
  • Soundgarden - Superunknown: Shocked how dated the production sounds on this - sounds a decade older than it should when you compare to what their contemporaries were doing. Still, some cracking stuff, "Black Hole Sun" and "Spoonman" probably the most famous examples.
  • Metallica - Metallica (the black album), Master Of Puppets: Slightly surprised that I enjoyed Master Of Puppets more (Mastaaaaaauuuugh!). The black album is the one which features "Enter Sandman", but I just didn't find the other songs on there to be as memorable.
  • New Order - Technique: Being the owner of what I thought was a pretty comprehensive "Best Of" New Order collection, I couldn't believe how little of Technique sounded familiar to me. Aside from opener "Fine Time", this was pretty much all new to me. Still, stumbling upon more of New Order in their prime is a very pleasant surprise.  
  • Pink Floyd - Dark Side Of The Moon, Wish You Were Here: Nobody makes records like these any more. Loved the ambiance of Dark Side Of The Moon. Dare I say it I might have enjoyed Wish You Were Here more, the title track and the "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" sequences being sublime.
  • Guns N Roses - Appetite For Destruction: "Welcome To The Jungle", "Paradise City", "Sweet Child 'O Mine". Need I say more?
  • Pantera - Vulgar Display Of Power: I thought Pantera were one of those mid-80s hair bands, was not expecting to hear this heavy metal classic!
  • Public Image Limited - First Issue, Metal Box: Not a big John Lydon fan, nothing much changed in that regard after I gave these a listen. However, I absolutely loved "Public Image" from First Issue.

  • Talking Heads - More Songs About Buildings And Food: I knew I'd love this album the moment I read that title.
  • Sonic Youth - Daydream Nation: The closing stretch from "Hey Joni" onwards (sides three and four on vinyl) really make this album for me.
  • The Black Keys - Brothers
I realise this goes against popular opinion, but I'm not a big fan of The Black Keys. I enjoyed Attack & Release (which I'd put on the list instead of this album) with its sharp garage rock and some nice riffs. But Brothers completely changed my opinion on the band, and not for the better.

I think when the album first came out I'd started to stream it but must have got bored part way through. I can see why now.
At some point (possibly as early as five or six tracks in) this album doesn't so much slow down as completely grind to a halt. I was hopeful of being proved wrong by the opening few songs, but from "Ten Cent Pistol" onwards things got too long, slow and meandering. I was begging for some variety in pace or musicality but never got it.

This basically went against everything that I felt made Attack & Release so good and left me thinking they should heed the advice of their own song and "Tighten Up".
Anyway, rant over.
  • John Lennon - The Plastic Ono Band: I've watched "Nowhere Boy" and that docu-drama that had Chris Eccleston playing Lennon in a really crap wig, and to be honest the biggest impression I got from them was "Wow, Lennon was a bit of a dick wasn't he?" So I was pleasantly surprised by this album, the likes of "Mother" sound really great.
  • The Strokes - Is This It: Listening to this it's obvious how indebted most of this decade's guitar bands are to this album, you really can't over-emphasise the influence of the guitar-play here at all.
  • Peter Gabriel - So: I enjoyed this album. Yes there was some cheesy stuff here with "Big Time" and "Sledgehammer" but it really worked in context. The likes of "Red Rain" and "Mercy Street" are big highlights and illustrate how fantastic Peter's voice was. Plus it's always good to hear Kate Bush on "Don't Give Up".

  • Jeff Buckley - Grace: I wasn't expecting so many great guitars to be on this record, given that it's most famous for Buckley's cover of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah". From opener "Mojo Pin" onwards I found a much broader album than I was expecting and enjoyed everything on here.
  • David Bowie - Low, Hunky Dory, Aladdin Sane, Young Americans, The Rise & Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars
Low was another album I'd playlisted on Spotify and couldn't remember if I'd heard the whole way through. On listening to it this time round I've concluded that I must have but just didn't notice because it ends unexpectedly. Which is a bit of a shame. I think it'd be my favourite Bowie record if it didn't end so suddenly.

Instead I find myself torn between Hunky Dory (which includes "Life On Mars", "Changes" and my personal favourite "Quicksand") and Aladdin Sane.

Ziggy Stardust... on the other hand has one of my favourite closing stretches on an album ever: "Ziggy Stardust", "Suffragette City" and "Rock 'N Roll Suicide", in addition to perhaps my favourite Bowie track "Starman" (which I'd apparently sing at the top of my voice while in my buggy as a wee nipper!).

Before I gave it a listen I'd got the impression Young Americans was a bit controversial amongst Bowie fans - certainly his cover of "Across The Universe" isn't his best, but I found it to be a good listen nonetheless, in particular "Fame".

  • Miles Davis - Bitches Brew: Seems I don't like jazz as much as I thought. Apart from the occasional attempts to fuse jazz and psychedelica I found this a bit of a chore to listen to.
  • Frankie Goes To Hollywood - Welcome To The Pleasuredome: This album didn't weird me out as much as I thought it would, which I consider a small victory. Their cover of "Born To Run" really wrong footed me though.
  • Alanis Morissette - Jagged Little Pill: I thought I liked Alanis Morissette, but listening back to this I was surprised how overwrought I found it all, and how hammy her voice could sound when she overemphasises stuff. (I'll leave it to my friend Liz Lemon to illustrate this below, or if the embed isn't working here.) Big disappointment.

  • Green Day - Dookie: I'd first listened to Green Day during their American Idiot phase, it's really weird hearing them being so youthful. Yet another example of great early 90s rock.
  • The Offspring - Smash: Listening to this makes me think of Crazy Taxi. Ah the memories! Cracking stuff.

  • ELO - Out Of The Blue: Mum reliably informs me this was the first gift my uncle bought my aunt. It looked a bit rambling at first but upon listening I didn't find it outstaying it's welcome. Plus it's impossible to be bored by an album with "Mr Blue Sky" on it. 
  • 10cc - Sheet Music
  • ABBA - Arrival
  • Mike Oldfield - Tubular Bells
I listened to the above three records on vinyl: I was home for the weekend and had a root around some of Mum and Dad's records because if I was going to do this, I had to listen to some of these albums in style at least!

The one I enjoyed the most was Sheet Music by 10cc. Very inventive and poppy, featuring the likes of "The Wall Street Shuffle" and "Oh Effendi".  

Arrival by ABBA was also great fun. Mum and Dad swore they could think of better ABBA albums that deserved to be on the list more, but with the likes of "Dancing Queen", "Knowing Me, Knowing You" (*Alan Partridge voice* ah-haaaa!) and "Money Money Money" I could see why it made the list.

I wasn't too impressed with Tubular Bells though, it just sounded like a very dated attempt to fuse pop and classical - a pointless venture anyway in my book, as The Beatles (Abbey Road's B-side) and Pink Floyd ("Shine On You Crazy Diamond") had already made much more progressive and successful attempts at this.

In addition to all the above, I also gave the following a listen:
  • Happy Mondays - Pills Thrills And Bellyaches
  • The Verve - Urban Hymns
  • Simon & Garfunkel - Bridge Over Troubled Water/Paul Simon - Graceland
  • The Smashing Pumpkins - Siamese Dream
  • Marvin Gaye - Let's Get It On, What's Going On
  • Joy Division - Unknown Pleasures, Closer
  • Queen - A Night At The Opera, Sheer Heart Attack
  • The Smiths - Meat Is Murder
The first two I found flawed but enjoyable and I could appreciate why they'd made the list. The others I really loved (in particular Bridge Over Troubled Water and Siamese Dream) and are without doubt worthy of the list.

Anyway, I've still got a long way to go. Starting with figuring out what my laptop dislikes about this Eagles CD my Dad's lent me...