Thursday, 14 March 2013

1001 Albums Update: 443 and counting

So, another fortnight of great progress. There was absolutely tonnes of amazing stuff this time around, I can't remember liking so much of what I heard in one of these updates since I started this challenge.

The albums feature in the book haven't been the only albums I've been enjoying since I last brought you an update.
Thanks to a rather glowing review in The Fly I stumbled across the debut album by California X and found an absolutely brilliant balls out scuzzy rock and roll record. I can't remember the last time an album was really as air-punchingly good on first listen as this was.
I thoroughly recommend you check it out, especially since you can download it from Amazon at an absolute bargain price of £3.49. What are you waiting for? Go get it.

Oh hang on, that's right, wait come back! I've got to let you know about what else I've been listening to first!
So, in no particular order, here's the latest set of albums I can check off my list...

  • Bon Jovi - Slippery When Wet
Cheesy as hell but you've got to love "You Give Love A Bad Name", "Livin' On A Prayer" and "Wanted Dead Or Alive".
Going off on a tangent slightly, we had someone giving a seminar the other day about fluid droplets and he used the term "wettable". Seriously, is that actually a word? It sounds like one of those quasi-words that mathematicians would invent without realising how ridiculous it sounds, like "texify".
  • Meatloaf - Bat Out Of Hell
Taking The Who's rock-opera concept into overdrive, Bat Out Of Hell gave Meatloaf some of his greatest moments. As a Springsteen fan I was pleasantly surprised to see Max Weinberg and Roy Bittan played on the title track, "You Took The Words Right Out Of My Mouth (Hot Summer Night)" and "Paradise By The Dashboard Light".
  • Ian Dury - New Boots And Panties!
I bloody love Ian Dury. Ever since I saw him and The Blockheads performing "Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick" on Top Of The Pops 2 when I was pretty young (like 7 or 8) he really made an impression on me. His lyrics combined with his vocal style made him a truly unique artist - the kind that you'd only find in Britain. "My Old Man" was a particular highlight.

  • Harry Nilsson - Nilsson Schmilsson: I never expected this guy would be the person behind "Without You" ("I caaaan't liiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiive..."). It was a much livelier affair besides that track though, with lots of perky, quirky pop like "Let The Good Times Roll".

  • Derek & The Dominos - Layla And Other Assorted Love Songs: More Clapton-based goodness. As the title suggests though, "Layla" is really the dominant song on this record and leaves the rest of the material here in its wake.
  • Sade - Diamond Life: I've been hearing "Smooth Operator" for years without realising that it was Sade's big hit. Can't say much else really stuck with me beyond that revelation.

  • Shuggie Otis - Inspiration Information: Really enjoyed this, such a smooth record. The title track and "XL-30" (which sounded really familiar) were really great.
  • Blur - Parklife, Blur, Modern Life Is Rubbish 
 I'd always seen Blur as more of a singles band, but these three held up really well from start to finish. Blur was a lot more mellow and experimental (though it featured the quickfire "Song 2"), while Modern Life Is Rubbish and Parklife came at the peak of Britpop and were much jauntier with the likes of "Chemical World", "Advert" and "Girls And Boys".

  • Brian Eno - Another Green World: Every Eno album I hear on this list gets progressively better, only to then fizzle out & frustrate me when it should really deliver a knock out blow that sends me head over heels in love. Grrr. 
  • Isaac Hayes - Shaft OST: "Hello there, children."

  • KD Lang - Ingenue: I literally spent years trying to figure out if KD Lang was a man or a woman. Turns out she's a woman. Pretty good singer too, to say the least.
  • Nirvana - In Utero
I know the vast majority of the songs on here from their MTV Unplugged session, so it's slightly odd hearing the likes of "Dumb", "All Apologies" and "Pennyroyal Tea" in these arrangements. Fantastic record though, and the heavier moments like "Serve The Servants" stood out strongly for me too.
  • Run DMC - Raising Hell: This was a riot, featuring the likes of "Walk This Way" (the version with Aerosmith) and "It's Tricky", an absolute genius reworking of "My Sharona" by The Knack.
  • The Jam - All Mod Cons/Paul Weller - Wild Wood
A couple of delights from the mind of Paul Weller here. I expected  All Mod Cons to have one or two more "hits" (i.e. more of The Jam's most famous tracks) than it had but that didn't stop me enjoying the likes of "Down in the Tube Station at Midnight" and a great version of "David Watts" by The Kinks.
Wild Wood is another case where I shouldn't have judged a book by its cover - its title and title track had me expecting a largely acoustic affair. While it was still pretty folky, I enjoyed the richer arrangements on show.
  • The Sex Pistols - Nevermind The Bollocks, Here's The Sex Pistols
I've mentioned in passing before how I'm not John Lydon's biggest fan, but this record is near as dammit perfect. You can see why this album, in effect, started a revolution.
Lydon's sneering "anti-singing" as Noel Gallagher put it, sounds immense on the likes of "God Save The Queen" and "Anarchy In The UK" ("I-yyyyyyyy am annnnn anti-CHRIST-AH!") while the guitar riffs on "Holiday In The Sun" and "Pretty Vacant" are just to die for. This album isn't just some historical artifact, thsi is the real deal.

  • Buzzcocks - Another Music In A Different Kitchen: Anyone who comes up with a title like that automatically wins points from me, but I don't think this quite held up against the other albums from punk's prime I was listening to this time around.
  • Wilco - Being There: Much like Yankee Foxtrot Hotel, this was another instant purchase for me upon listening. The likes of "Monday" and "Outtasite (Outta Mind)" were unexpected delights and much heavier tracks than I thought the band were capable of.
  • The Undertones - The Undertones: Surprisingly enough this album didn't originally contain "Teenage Kicks", their most famous hit, but boy could it hold up on its own without it with the likes of "Here Comes The Summer" and "Jimmy Jimmy".
  • The The - Soul Mining: Only knew them as one of the subjects of a pretty crap Michael McIntyre about the north, but I was left pretty impressed with this album, "This Is The Day" in particular was fantastic.
  • Donovan - Sunshine Superman: Turns out the title track's on of those songs I've heard for years (almost certainly on some advert) and not been able to put a name too (I've found lots of these whilst doing this challenge).

  • The Mothers Of Invention - We're Only In It For The Money 
Oh Christ, not more Frank Zappa! The frustrating think about this album is that it's quite catchy but it's in fits and starts, so you'd just be getting into one of the tracks when suddenly Zappa comes along with one of his druggie oddball interlude things. So infuriating!
  • The Clash - London Calling: An undisputed classic. The title track, "Spanish Bombs", "Lost In The Supermarket" and "Rudie Can't Fail" were all arguable The Clash at their best. The Elvis-referencing sleeve design is iconic too.

  • Michael Jackson - Bad
Ch'mon! The production may have dated a little poorly, but Jacko clearly still had a lot left in the tank after Thriller. "Dirty Diana" and "Smooth Criminal" are personal favourites of mine.
  • The Zombies - Odessey & Oracle
Another song I can finally put a name to: "Time Of The Season". Great song, the rest of the album is almost just as good - lots of bright jangley guitar pop, a lot more full of life than the band's name suggests.

  • Tom Waits - Heartattack And Vine: I wasn't sure this would be my cup of tea since Waits' vocals can be a bit strange, but I really enjoyed this record, "Jersey Girl" and "Mr Siegal" especially were on the money.
  • Rufus Wainwright - Want Two: A great illustration of how brilliant Rufus' voice is. "The Art Teacher" is sublime, even if hearing Rufus sing a song from a schoolgirl's perspective is a bit surreal.

Also quenching my thirst for good music were...
  • Prefab Sprout - Steve McQueen
  • XTC - Skylarking
  • Blondie - Parallel Lines
  • The Waterboys - Fisherman's Blues
  • Bob Marley & The Wailers - Catch A Fire, Exodus, Natty Drea
  • The Pogues - Rum, Sodomy & The Lash, If I Should Fall From Grace With God
  • King Crimson - In The Court Of The Crimson King
While the following left me slightly disappointed:

  • Alice In Chains - Dirt
  • Nine Inch Nails - The Downward Spiral
  • Japan - Quiet Life
  • The United States Of America - The United States Of America