Sunday, January 31, 2016

Uncut Magazine - 200 Greatest Albums Of All Time


From February's Uncut. The usual contentious list. Music magazines tend to fall back on these every few years and they usually don't say much except to reflect the consensus of those who have contributed, establish a slightly adjusted new canon and inspire readers towards getting some of the more offbeat selections. I have roughly three quarters of these either on vinyl or CD so that probably establishes me as a pretty middle of the road Uncut reader, (I do buy it most months). Its Top Twenty is pretty much what you would expect and I'm listening to Pet Sounds now and frankly finding it slightly depressing. It certainly doesn't do for me what Marquee Moon, Forever Changes, Kind of Blue, What's Going On, Astral Weeks, Revolver, Murmur, Horses, The Velvet Underground & Nico, Hunky Dory, There's a Riot Going On and Searching for the Young Soul Rebels consistently do on a regular basis; Take me to another place and keep me there. As those are the ones I listed off the top of my head I guess that's my own Top 12. That Dexys record is not here remarkably, which is one huge omission.

The whole idea of putting jazz albums in lists like this is also pretty contentious. Kind of Blue is generally top of the list and here it's joined by Coltrane and Mingus and two more of Miles' own, all a little lower down. It's not really comparing like with like however, and I think a pretty good argument could probably be made for a number of Davis's records to be top of these lists as they are such huge, indescribable achievements. Really you might as well add Sinatra at least to the mix. For some reason there are three Cure albums on here which seems to be stretching a point a little though I'd concur with 17 Seconds' inclusion. Pornography on the other hand is a deeply flawed album, a botched Home Counties attempt at Closer. There's no Wire and strangely no Doors. Of course the latter have their detractors but there's no denying their impact on rock music historically and I'd say either their debut or their last record LA Woman, or both, deserve a place here.

Personally I prefer The Smiths' Meat is Murder to The Queen is Dead though I would agree that the latter is their grand statement. I'd also eject U2 in favour of The Pogues' Rum, Sodomy & the Lash which is a far greater poetic, cultural statement and Oasis can go too. I'd replace Morning Glory with Pere Ubu's The Modern Dance as a contrary statement and also substitute Jeff Buckley's Grace for one of father Tim's. R.E.M's overall reputation seems sure to be damaged by the over-extended and underwhelming coda to their recording career after drummer Bill Berry left, but I'm pleased to see Murmur there which I think is their best as well as my own personal favourite. I'm immune to the charms of The Hounds of Love and would replace that with another of Kate's, possibly her first. I'd also swap The Replacements' Tim for Let it Be, add Husker Du or Sugar as Bob Mould deserves to be somewhere in the mix and chuck Mercury Rev. Never cared for that guy's voice and the songs don't resonate for me.

Elsewhere I have few real objections though Horses should be much higher and George Clinton should be here somewhere. Oh and where are The Modern Lovers or New York Dolls? Such conversations could go on and on but the list generally reflects my tastes as I've said and includes some artists who made a real left-field impact; Can, My Bloody Valentine, PiL The Slits, Kraftwerk, Associates, Eno and Suicide. There's also Parsons, Big Star, Johnny Cash and pleasingly Prefab Sprout's Steve McQueen which I have to say I didn't really get at the time but now prefer vastly to Pet Sounds for example. Think I'll put that on next!

1. The Beach Boys - Pet Sounds
2. The Beatles - Revolver - 1966
3. Van Morrison - Astral Weeks - 1968
4. The Velvet Underground - The Velvet Underground & Nico - 1967
5. The Beatles - The Beatles (White Album) - 1968
6. Love - Forever Changes - 1967
7. Bob Dylan - Blond On Blond - 1966
8. The Smiths - The Queen Is Dead - 1986
9. Bob Dylan - Highway 61 Revisited - 1965
10. Television - Marquee Moon - 1977
11. David Bowie - Hunky Dory - 1971
12. David Bowie - Ziggy Stardust - 1972
13. Marvin Gaye - What's Going On - 1971
14. Miles Davis - Kind Of Blue - 1959
15. The Beatles - Rubber Soul - 1965
16. The Rolling Stones - Exile On Main Street - 1972
17. The Band - The Band - 1969
18. Bob Dylan - Blood On The Tracks - 1975
19. David Bowie - Low - 1977
20. Kraftwerk - Trans Europe Express - 1977
21. The Beatles - Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band - 1967
22. Public Enemy - It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back - 1988
23. The Clash - London Calling - 1979
24. The Beatles - Abbey Road - 1969
25. Kate Bush - Hounds Of Love - 1985
26. The Clash - The Clash - 1977
27. The Rolling Stones - Sticky Fingers - 1971
28. The Rolling Stones - Let It Bleed - 1969
29. Jimi Hendrix Experience - Are You Experienced - 1967
30. David Bowie - Stationtostation - 1976
31. Lou Reed - Transformer - 1972
32. Neil Young - After The Goldrush - 1970
33. Joni Mitchell - Blue - 1971
34. Neil Young - On The Beach - 1974
35. John Coltrane - A Love Supreme - 1965
36. Joy Division - Closer - 1980
37. The Kinks - The Kinks Are The Village Green Society - 1968
38. My Bloody Valentine - Loveless - 1991
39. Bob Dylan - Bringing It All Back Home - 1965
40. Robert Wyatt - Rock Bottom - 1974
41. Otis Redding - Otis Blue - 1965
42. Jimi Hendrix Experience - Electric Ladyland - 1968
43. The Stooges - Fun House - 1970
44. Sly And The Family Stone - There's A Riot Going On - 1971
45. R.E.M. - Murmur - 1983
46. Michael Jackson - Off The Wall - 1979
47. Led Zeppelin - Led Zeppelin (IV) - 1971
48. Fairport Convention - Liege & Lief - 1969
49. Stevie Wonder - Songs In The Key Of Life - 1976
50. Nick Drake - Bryter Layter - 1971
51. Carole King - Tapestry - 1971
52. The Velvet Underground - The Velvet Underground - 1969
53. Big Star - Third/Sister Lovers - 1978
54. The Velvet Underground - Loaded - 1970
55. Sex Pistols - Never Mind The Bollocks… - 1977
56. The Stone Roses - The Stone Roses - 1989
57. Pink Floyd - Piper At The Gates Of Dawn - 1967
58. Blondie - Parallel Lines - 1978
59. Prince - Sign O The Times - 1987
60. Joy Division - Unknown Pleasures - 1979
61. Primal Scream - Screamadalica - 1991
62. The Byrds - The Notorious Byrd Brothers - 1968
63. Fleetwood Mac - Rumours - 1977
64. David Crosby - If Only I Could Remember My Name - 1971
65. Orange Juice - You Can’t Hide Your Love Forever - 1982
66. The Band - Music From Big Pink - 1968
67. Stevie Wonder - Innervisions - 1973
68. James Brown - Live At The Apollo - 1963
69. New Order - Technique - 1989
70. Patti Smith - Horses - 1975
71. Joni Mitchell - Hejira - 1976
72. LCD Soundsystem - Sound Of Silver - 2007
73. The Cure - Disintegration - 1989
74. Public Image Limited - Metal Box - 1979
75. Can - Ege Bamyasi - 1972
76. John Martyn - Solid Air - 1973
77. Steely Dan - Countdown To Ecstasy - 1973
78. The Byrds - Younger Than Yesterday - 1967
79. Gillian Welch - Time (The Revelator) - 2001
80. The Velvet Underground - White Light/White Heat - 1968
81. Radiohead - In Rainbows - 2007
82. The Who - Who's Next - 1971
83. Bob Dylan - The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan - 1963
84. Pink Floyd - Dark Side Of The Moon - 1973
85. Jimi Hendrix - Axix: Bold As Love - 1967
86. Todd Rundgren - A Wizard, A True Star - 1973
87. Joni Mitchell - The Hissing Of Summer Lawns - 1975
88. Can - Tago Mago - 1971
89. Big Star - No1 Record - 1972
90. The Cure - Head On The Door - 1985
91. Neil Young - Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere - 1969
92. Dusty Springfield - Dusty In Memphis - 1969
93. Radiohead - Ok Computer - 1997
94. U2 - Achtung Baby - 1991
95. The Flying Burrito Brothers - The Guided Palace Of Sin - 1969
96. Bruce Springsteen - Born To Run - 1975
97. The Cure - Pornography - 1982
98. The Incredible String Band - The Hangman's Beautiful Daughter - 1968
99. John Cale - Paris 1919 - 1973
100. Laura Nyro - Eli & The Thirteenth Confession - 1968
101. Radiohead - Kid A - 2000
102. Serge Gainsbourg - Histoire De Melody Nelson - 1971
103. Pulp - This Is Hardcore - 1998
104. Johnny Cash - At Fulsom Prison - 1968
105. David Bowie - Diamond Dogs - 1974
106. Talking Heads - Remain In Light - 1980
107. Spiritualized - Ladies & Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space - 1997
108. Talk Talk - Sprit Of Eden - 1988
109. The Only Ones - The Only Ones - 1978
110. The Congos - Heart Of The Congo’s - 1977
111. Joni Mitchell - Court & Spark - 1974
112. New Order - Power Corruption & Lies - 1983
113. The Slits - Cut - 1979
114. David Bowie - "Heroes" - 1977
115. Tom Waits - Rain Dogs - 1985
116. The Rolling Stones - Beggars Banquet - 1968
117. The Specials - The Specials - 1979
118. Suicide - Suicide - 1977
119. Miles Davis - Bitches Brew - 1970
120. Big Star - Radio City - 1974
121. Can - Future Days - 1973
122. Prince - Parade - 1986
123. Steely Dan - Can't Buy A Thrill - 1972
124. Nirvana - In Utero - 1993
125. Elvis Costello - My Aim Is True - 1977
126. Nick Drake - Pink Moon - 1972
127. Chic - C'est Chic - 1978
128. The Byrds - Sweetheart Of The Rodeo - 1968
129. Curtis Mayfield - Curtis - 1970
130. Syd Barrett - The Madcap Laughs - 1970
131. The Isley Brothers - 3+3 - 1973
132. The Human League - Dare! - 1981
133. The Who - Live At Leeds - 1970
134. Bruce Springsteen - Darkness On The Edge Of Town - 1978
135. The Beach Boys - Surfs Up - 1971
136. Ramones - Ramones - 1976
137. AC/DC - Back In Black - 1980
138. Van Morrison - Moondance - 1970
139. Gang Of Four - Entertainment! - 1979
140. The Beastie Boys - Check Your Head - 1992
141. Portishead - Dummy - 1994
142. Sonic Youth - Daydream Nation - 1988
143. Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band - Safe As Milk - 1967
144. Cocteau Twins - Heaven Or Las Vegas - 1990
145. Blur - Modern Life Is Rubbish - 1993
146. Pixies - Doolittle - 1989
147. Jeff Buckley - Grace - 1994
148. Miles Davis - In A Silent Way - 1969
149. The Beatles - A Hard Day’s Night - 1964
150. Massive Attack - Blue Lines - 1991
151. Daft Punk - Discovery - 2001
152. Aretha Franklin - Lady Soul - 1968
153. Led Zeppelin - Physical Graffiti - 1975
154. The Associates - Sulk - 1982
155. Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds - The Boatman’s Call - 1997
156. Tricky - Maxinquaye - 1995
157. Bjork - Debut - 1993
158. The Fall - The Nation's Saving Grace - 1984
159. Leonard Cohen - Songs Of Love And Hate - 1971
160. The Wu-Tang Clan - Enter The Wu-Tang: 36 Chambers - 1993
161. Tom Waits - Swordfishtrumbone - 1983
162. PJ Harvey - Rid Of Me - 1993
163. Neil Young - Tonight's The Night - 1975
164. The Cure - Seventeen Seconds - 1980
165. Brian Eno - Here Come The Warm Jets - 1974
166. GZA - Liquid Swords - 1995
167. Aphex Twin - Selected Ambient Works 85-92 - 1992
168. The Smiths - Strangeways, Here We Come - 1987
169. T.Rex - Electric Warrior - 1971
170. Laura Nyro - New York Tendaberry - 1969
171. Prince - Purple Rain - 1984
172. Oasis - (What's The Story) Morning Glory? - 1995
173. John Lennon - John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band - 1970
174. Roxy Music - For Your Pleasure - 1973
175. My Bloody Valentine - Isn't Anything - 1988
176. Neil Young - Harvest - 1972
177. Super Furry Animals - Radiator - 1997
178. Black Sabbath - Paranoid - 1970
179. The Who - Tommy - 1969
180. Michael Jackson - Thriller - 1982
181. The Replacements - Tim - 1985
182. Amy Winehouse - Back To Black - 2006
183. Nick Drake - Five Leaves Left - 1969
184. Kraftwerk - The Man-Machine - 1978
185. David Bowie - The Man Who Saved The World - 1970
186. Charles Mingus - The Black Saint And The Sinner Lady - 1963
187. Donald Fagen - The Nightfly - 1982
188. Talking Heads - Fear Of Music - 1979
189. The Smiths - The Smiths - 1984
190. Prefab Sprout - Steve McQueen - 1985
191. The Who - The Who Sell Out - 1967
192. Gene Clarke - No Other - 1974
193. Johnny Cash - American Iv: The Man Comes Around - 2002
194. Joanna Newsom - Ys - 2006
195. T.Rex - The Slider - 1972
196. The Fall - Hex Enducation Hour - 1982
197. Todd Rundgren - Something/Anything? - 1972
198. Mercury Rev - Deserters Songs - 1998
199. Dr John: The Night Tripper - Gris-Gris - 1968
200. Elvis Costello - Imperial Bedroom - 1982

January 31st 1951 Phil Manzanera


There's never been a band quite like the early Roxy Music. Here they are in their pomp!


'Your skin is like vinyl. The perfect companion...'

Album Reviews # 51 Dwight Twilley Band - Twilley Don't Mind


Released in 1977 through the Arista Record label, the band's second album, this achieved critical acclaim but little more commercial success than their first, peaking at Number 70 in the American album charts. It's a better record than that, a well-written and recorded set of songs, with occasional, but quite definite peaks.



It most obviously recalls the first two Big Star records, tightly constructed and punched out pop songs, with layers of yearning harmonies alternating between up tempo rockers and slower, more reflective numbers. Although they rarely reach the heights of that band, lacking the lyrical touch and depth and most obviously Chilton's genius, they don't suffer too much from the comparison. Big Star would not have sniffed at several of these numbers.



Lookin' For the Magic second track here is the record's obvious killer and it seems difficult to understand at this distance why it shouldn't have been a fairly big national hit because it contains all the required ingredients. Structured in classic Power Pop terms, but with such a true, immediate hook that it seems strange that it didn't seize hold of AOR radio as it must have sounded just great coming out of radios. It's a pretty good match for Petty's American Girl for example. Petty can actually be seen guesting with the band above and below on an American Saturday Morning TV show called Wacko.



The record winds on in the terms it's established already, oblivious to the fact that it's not destined to smash through the commercial ceiling it's clearly aiming at. Not particularly deep lyrically, it's main concern seems to be trying to come upon true love much again like # 1 Record and Radio City though unlike on those albums where you really get the sense that Chilton and Bell are really plumbing romantic emotional depths, (just one reason why their records have come to resonate so deeply for listeners over the succeeding decades), you can't help but feel that Twilley will probably be OK and is possibly playing to the camera at times. It's altogether better adjusted and closer to the mainstream. In the scheme of things more Petty than Chilton. It 's clear that Twilley has no Sister Lovers, (Big Star's tortured and quite remarkable third album), that he'll ever need to get out of his system.




That's not to diminish the album any. It's pretty flawless on its own terms as a radio friendly soundtrack to teenage heartache and longing. Side B's opening track Twilley Don't Mind might be their slightly pared down Oh My Soul augmented by slightly understated brass which would have benefited by being pushed further forward in the mix. Then comes Sleeping, the best slow tempo track on here, the album's Ballad of El Goodo, a thing of genuine beauty and the most emotionally affecting song on the record.



Perhaps the consistent Big Star comparisons I've made here are selling the record slightly short. After all there were countless American bands at the time plowing a similar furrow and Big Star are the band who have endured over the intervening decades to stand for the whole. This album is definitely well to the front of the chasing pack, lacking perhaps a few companions for Looking For The Magic and Sleeping to push it on its final journey to the stars.


It's nine tracks long when by rights it should be twelve, but only one of those nine, closer Invasion, doesn't quite hit home for me. Nevertheless, a very good album which touches occasionally on greatness and I imagine for many people who bought it and were affected by it at the right moment in their lives it's still among their very favourite albums of all, resonating endlessly with memories of youth and finding records of your own to love and construct your teenage identity around, the way Murmur, High Land, Hard Rain, New Gold Dream and Heaven Up Here, to list my own personal touchstones, still work for me. There's Beatles and Byrds here, Badfinger, Big Star and strangely on Trying to Find My Baby, the faintest echo of ABBA. That's hallowed company and Dwight Twilley deserve their place here, perhaps in the back row of the photo, but there nonetheless.

The Perfect Collection: Ninety-Nine Essential Pop Singles # 37 Jagged Edge


I can tell you little about this except it was the bands sole release, they hailed from Brooklyn and it came out in April 1966. One for the Garage obscurists.

Song of the Day # 742 Norman Greenbaum


Norman Greenbaum, best known for Spirit in the Sky. But I'd go for this, a beautiful little song from his 1972 album Petaluma.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Songs About People # 159 Friedrich Nietzsche


While we're here, the other subjects of Dig. Ironic, given the plot arc of that film that the question now is 'Whatever happened to the Dandy Warhols'? I was very surprised to find out that they are actually still going.



The Brian Jonestown Massacre


Having mentioned The Brian Jonestown Massacre earlier todayand the incredible influence they wield nowadays it seems appropriate to post something from them. This is their latest from last year a mini-album called Thingy Wingy though as it's thirty five minutes long it must pretty well qualify as a full one. It's more of what you might expect from them, that warm, fuzzy sixties drone and is quite variable in quality, but then again having watched the music documentary from 2004 Dig, about their friendship / rivalry with The Dandy Warhols where the band ended the film utterly broken beyond repair you have to respect them, Anton Newcombe particularly obviously for sticking to his guns and getting to a place where he's finally getting some long with-held recognition.

Buffy Saint Marie on Sesame Street


Album Review # 50 Jake Holmes - A Letter to Katherine December


A quite extraordinary record. The kind you chance across flicking idly around YouTube and are staggered to discover and more surprised to realise that you were never aware of its existence before and that it's not hugely known and respected. A San Francisco singer-songwriter, best known as the writer of Dazed and Confused, this is an album from 1968, his second.


At once urgent and introspective, no song on it stands still for a moment or goes where you might expect it to go. Very much of its time, most obviously reminiscent of Tim Buckley records from the same period, Happy/Sad or Blue Afternoon, but it has a clear voice of its own and the songs are briefer and less expansive than Buckley's, rarely stretching beyond four minutes. Jazzy and thoughtful, its lyrics are snatched perceptions of momentary sensation .


There are no hit singles here, but Holmes isn't trying to write them. Although there's the songwriting skill to churn those out if he wants to you suspect (Holmes was also a jingle writer and you can pick up some of that gift for immediacy here), he's trying for something much more ambitious. It's full of that full on, acid-induced pretension, (not meant here as a criticism), that was such a feature of counterculture records of the late sixties.


It doesn't always quite work, occasionally forcing itself just too far but when it does, most obviously on Leaves Never Break, It's Always Somewhere Else and Houston Street, Holmes really comes across as a major player. The whole record lasts less than half an hour but there are no end of things happening in that short time frame. File next to Buckley, Van Morrison and Scott Walker, similarly gifted visionaries making some of their best records during the same period, pushing themselves as far as they could go. At its best it genuinely belongs in this company.

January 30th 1947 Steve Marriott


The Perfect Collection: Ninety-Nine Essential Pop Singles # 36 The Jimi Hendrix Experience


While we're on the subject of distorted noise!

Song(s) of the Day # 741 Drinking Flowers


There seem to be absolutely hundreds of American guitar bands around right now with elements of this sound, generally classified under the Psych tag. Strangely it's reasonable to say that Brian Jonestown Massacre are probably just about the most influential American band of the last twenty years as you can hear traces of their fuzzy hazey waves of pure noise everywhere. Take  LA's Drinking Flowers as today's example. Their last release, 2014's Sanity Restored 1972 mini-album on Lolipop Records takes it's name from the year Roky Erikson, another major inspiration for this stuff, was released from his sanatorium. Drinking Flowers meanwhile, do this all very well indeed. The record howls!







Friday, January 29, 2016

Things Found on my Local's Jukebox # 97 John Otway & Wild Willy Barrett



I could only get a live version of this. But it sounded pretty great at Rosie's just now . Cheers to Ian who I had a good night out with tonight for suggesting it!



January 29th 1964 Roddy Frame


American States # 31 Iowa


From a perky, idiosyncratic little psych album from a Milwaukee based band. Released in 1967, this strangely came out on Chess Records who were considering moving into the rock market at the time.

The Beatles Hard Day's Night


For my young nephew Felix who's busy getting into The Beatles. The Help soundtrack is a great mid-career record full of almost cast away pop songs hinting at something deeper. Help, Ticket to Ride, You've Got To Hide Your Love Away, You're Going To Lose That Girl and more. And if you have the American version, snippets of the film soundtrack and this, a sitar based instrumental takes on A Hard Day's Night, Can't Buy Me Love and I Should Have Known Better by the George Martin Orchestra.

The Perfect Collection: Ninety-Nine Essential Pop Singles # 35 Hello


Another of Hibbert's more off the wall selections but I can get behind this one. Minor-league British Glam band, this went Top Ten in the UK in 1975.