Saturday, 24 November 2012

1001 Albums Week 2: 160 and counting!

I meant to write this last week, but I had other things keeping me busy, so I'm a bit behind on writing this stuff up. But I'm making tonnes of progress. Here's all the music I listen to in my second week.
  • Lou Reed - Berlin, Transformer/The Velvet Underground -The Velvet Underground: 
Lots of Lou Reed based greatness between these three, The Velvet Underground probably being my favourite. Especially loved the way "Jesus" and "Beginning To See The Light" bleed into each other.

As for his solo stuff, Transformer had the better and more well known individual songs ("Satellite Of Love", "Perfect Day", "Vicious") but I think I enjoyed Berlin slightly more: it seemed to work more cohesively as an album and it felt fresher and quite different from The Velvet Underground stuff.
  • Fleetwood Mac - Rumours: So many of the band's classics came from this album. I'll leave it to my good friend Murray Hewitt to explain why;

 (Love square! Gets me every time.)
  • Iggy Pop - Lust For Life/The Stooges - The Stooges, Raw Power: Having never heard much stuff from Iggy & The Stooges, these albums were quite a treat. Lust For Life was easily the best of the bunch. Wasn't quite as keen on The Stooges though, the meandering "We Will Fall" robbed the album of the momentum it's opening three songs gave it.
  • Aphex Twin - Selected Ambient Works 85-92: It seems the less freaky the album sleeve of an Aphex Twin release is, the less crazy the music in the album is. This just sort of passed me by really.
  • Metallica - ...And Justice For All: I think I've reached the point now where all Metallica albums just sound the same - there's a whole bunch of riffs and crashing drums for a while, then James Hetfield screams something usually ending in "RRRREEEEEEEEAAGHHHHH!"
  • Wilco - Yankee Foxtrot Hotel: This record is a stunningly understated masterpiece. The opening and closing tracks "I Am Trying To Break Your Heart" and "Reservations" in particular should be held up as an example of how to emote situations in music without succumbing to melodrama.

  • Radiohead - Kid A, OK Computer, The Bends: 
I fucking hated Radiohead when I was younger. I still find them a bit pretentious now, and certainly upon listening Kid A struck me as a very "chin-stroking" sort of album.

However, the further back in time I went, the more stuff I enjoyed. OK Computer had some of their finer individual songs ("Airbag" and "No Surprises" being my favourites), but The Bends was definitely the record I most enjoyed. The main reason was because it was much heavier and more guitar dependent than the others. I used to find myself begrudging to give them any praise at all, but I can tell you I have no problem saying the likes of "Just", "High And Dry", "Fake Plastic Trees" and "Street Spirit (Fade Out)" are works of sheer brilliance.
  • Manic Street Preacher - Everything Must Go: As a massive Manics fan I'm ashamed to admit I hadn't heard this album the whole way through until now. After the tragedy of Richey going missing never to be found, this record was a deserved breakthough into the mainstream. "Small Black Flowers That Grow In The Sky" in particular is a triumph.
  • The Beatles - With The Beatles, A Hard Day's Night: Strange how I've never payed much attention to Beatles albums pre-Rubber Soul. Wasn't disappointed by either of these though, obviously. With The Beatles was the more interesting to hear, being much closer to their sound from the Cabin Club days.
  • Beastie Boys - Paul's Boutique, Ill Communication: Perfect examples of what a creative force the Beasties were in hip hop. Despite the latter featuring "Sabotage", I felt Paul's Boutique blew Ill Communication out of the water, thanks to a greater variety of beats, pace, and some really neat samples (the use of the riff from "The End" by The Beatles being my favourite example).
  • Neil Young & Crazy Horse - Everybody Knows That This Is Nowhere: I didn't think Neil had dabbled with the longer rockier stuff this early in his career (this was his second album). Yet another essential listen.
  • Pretenders - Pretenders: Oh, so thaaaat's the song Scarlett Johansson does on karaoke in Lost In Translation!

Good stuff all round.
  • Talking Heads - Fear Of Music, Remain In Light: More Songs About Buildings And Food had given me high expectations for the other Talking Heads albums on the list, and I wasn't disappointed. Fear Of Music was my favourite without question, with "Mind" and "Heaven" being standouts for me.
  • David Byrne & Brian Eno - My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts: Very disappointing to say the least. I don't understand why, when you've got a voice as unique and quirky as Byrne's, you'd deliberately go out of your way to use it as little as possible on this record.
  • Black Sabbath - Black Sabbath, Paranoid, Volume 4: Metal basically started with Black Sabbath. Their first album didn't make much of an impression on me, but Paranoid was much better, everything started to click a lot more and you could tell from the way the band played. Volume 4 might be my favourite though, just for fiddling with the formula a bit and going into new territory.
  • Sepultura - Roots: I don't know what I was expecting a Brazilian heavy metal band to sound like, but it certainly wasn't a regular heavy metal band! Apart from using vocals from one of the tribes still living in the rain forests, which was cool. But other than that, pretty run of the mill.
  • The Rolling Stones - Let It Bleed: 
 Fun fact, Delia Smith baked the cake on the cover of this record.

It couldn't quite top Exile On Main St. as my favourite Stones record, but it ran it pretty close. "Gimme Shelter" and "You Can't Always Get What You Want" are two of my favourite Stones songs, but "Midnight Rambler" was also brilliant and I was completely caught off-guard by "Country Honk" - essentially a bluegrass version of "Honky Tonk Women".
  • Miles Davis - Kind Of Blue: This is more like my kind of jazz.
  • David Bowie - Station To Station: I think I may have found myself a new favourite Bowie record. There's just no resisting the charm of "TVC-15".
  • Led Zeppelin - I, II, III, IV, Physical Graffeti: Oh these lot were a right treat to go through. Very few groups had such a consistent run of records than Zeppelin did between I and IV. Physical Graffeti isn't quite in the same league, but still has its charms - "Kashmir" is an essential listen. III is probably my favourite, if you forced me to choose - "Immigrant Song", "Since I've Been Loving You", "Gallows Pole" and "Tangerine" being stand outs.
  • Yes - The Yes Album, Fragile, Close To The Edge: Yeah sorry, but next to Zeppelin, this stuff just sounds pretentious and redundant.
  • The Band - Music From The Big Pink: Near as dammit perfection here from Bob Dylan's old cohorts. "The Weight" in particular is sublime.

  • Van Halen - 1984: Unashamedly cheesy, and I unashamedly like it. There's just some days when you can't beat a bit of Panama
 Other albums I heard and found to be thoroughly deserving of their place in the book were:
  • Aretha Franklin - I Never Loved A Man The Way I Loved You (Oh lord what a voice!)
  • Crosby Stills & Nash - Crosby Stills & Nash
  • Grateful Dead - Live/Dead
  • The Doors - The Doors
  • The Police - Synchronicity ("Stong writes some good sings", tee hee)
  • The Eagles - Hotel California
  • The Yardbirds - The Yardbirds
  • Love - Forever Changes
  • U2 - The Joshua Tree, Achtung Baby
  • Oasis - Definitely Maybe, What's The Story Morning Glory?
  • The Ramones - The Ramones
  • The Byrds - Sweetheart Of The Rodeo, Mr. Tambourine Man
 I'm now into my third week of the challenge and have made even more progress, which I'll let you know about in good time. But before then there's coursework to do!