Feeling this is a little too quiet and modest (the original “twee” album maybe?) to be a full five stars but there are a few gems – ”Fly” and “Northern Sky” (the latter truly an all-time gem). I listened to this record so often in early 2000s that I may have worn it out. Also is downgrade due to “it’s been underrated so long that it actually become overrated” syndrome and the suffering at the hands of Wes Anderson. 4.1
Opener sets the tone, with just wicked, haunting guitars and drums so distant in the mix, like they were recorded down the hall in another room. A little less droning, a bit more melodic and touch more energetic than Seventeen Seconds. Still brooding but not as comprehensive a gloomfest. Is this record to emo what Gregorian Chant is to contemporary classical music? 3.65 but a reluctant 4 due to lack of hits and because their best work was still ahead.
Perfectly okay, but a bit maximalist and just too big for my tastes. I confess to some bias: my slots for this type of band and from this era have long been filled to capacity (and then some).
Everything a classic rock album should be – loud and proud, impassioned and (okay, sure) a little bombastic. They steal the blues template blatantly and shamelessly, of course, but somehow they expand, amplify and make the blues their own (e.g., “How Many More Times”) much more effectively than other bands that took the same starting point. Awesome opening moments on both “sides” – the drum-spliced riff on “Good Times, Bad Times” and the organ on “Your Time Is Gonna Come.” Plant is surely the best of this generation of vocalists – selling “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You” like an actor dying on stage, with such rollicking drama in the arrangement in the playing. Page is just a genius, unleashing massive, outlandish solos and jagged riffs, and then applying the subtlest of touches (e.g., the slide echos on “Your Time” and the pastoral bits on “Black Mountain Side”). And has there ever been a more authentically druggy song than “D & C”? Bonzo and JPJ lay down an appropriately bottom-heavy beat – like immovably leaden. One of the best debuts in rock and roll history, surely. My 16-year-old self is delighted that this record still sounds as good as it does.
Perfectly fine but massively overrated since day one. I refuse to continue that trend.
Gritty and funky, sad and even silly at time – a true career renaissance after 29 records and a stage setter for the sprawling and even weirder work to come in the decades that followed. There's a direct link from this record to Rough and Rowdy Ways! I'm a Lanois fan and love the atmospherics, but get the criticism of some of the production choices. Several of these songs that I turn to time and again, but a few mehs make me round down to 4 from 4.5. Maybe a slightly shorter record would have been better.
Sure it's demonic but its obnoxiousness is the bigger problem. The odd interesting figure and the mellower sections ("Piggy") and parts of the last song suggest that this project could have been much less of a spectacle, if not fully redeemable.
Perhaps the best Beatles record not made by the Beatles, this is maximalist chamber pop that veers into overindulgence now and then. Partridge sings like McCartney and writes songs like Lennon. There’s real joy and some pathos, and the quality is sustained at a high level across the record even it’s occasionally too clever by half. 4.2 for 4.
Sandy Denny's amazing vocals and the band grinds, chugs and sweeps over the folk material, updating it for modern times in ways that feel energizing and innovative on the one hand, and spiritually respectful and true on the other. There are dark and haunting moments, too, that add to the richness.
A masterpiece on multiple levels – beats and samples, the rhymes and flows, plus world-class production. Plus, a ton of fun to listen to. Humor underrated in every genre of pop music and Tip et al make it look/sound so easy. Loved it 30+ years ago (Christ, can it be that long!?!?!) and it sounds just as good today.
Some cliches live up to the reputation, don't they, and I suppose IB was one of the reasons the ‘60s were the ‘60s? This could provide the soundtrack to any number of films from that decade. It’s heavy-heavy, with a bit more organ than ideal, and too sprawling, generally. (Infinite Jest might be the In-a-Gadda-Da-Vida of contemporary novels.) But the songs are surprisingly layered and varied. If you’re up for (maybe I mean down for) the heaviness, it’s a solid listen throughout, even intermittently tuneful and sweet. Not terrible for being terribly cliched, in other words. It would be cool to hear some contemporary groups cover these songs, but current acolytes seem thin on the ground. Still, it’s easy to see how they might have become Pink Floyd. “Flowers and beads are one thing" -- truer words have never been spoken. A for effort – meaning 3.6 for 4.
This was the record that made DS so popular that no one liked them anymore. Like everything they did, it’s of very high quality, but this one lacks life and edge. Serious points off for becoming ubiquitous (and thus annoying) in my first painful year of college (not entirely Knopfler’s fault it was painful) and generally being too polished, slick and too big a hit. Demerits also for using state-of-the-art (also smug) ‘80s production effects (keys and synths especially, Sting backing vocals). And for parodying MTV while being totally of it … by design and in execution. They wanted it both ways, I suppose, and got it. Trigger warning on the homophobic language, too – oh, that shameful go-go decade. The “Money for Nothing” hook is great, if obvious. “So Far Away” and “Walk of Life” are pretty good, too. “Your Latest Trick” and “One World” are tops to my ears, and the more considered non-hits in the middle and back stand up better than the chart-toppers. It’s interesting to me that the record ends very quietly, in contrast to the very loud opening hook of its most famous song. As a whole, it’s all far below (less artful, less serious, way too obviously reaching for mainstream acceptance) than the previous work – the first record, Love Over Gold and Making Movies especially. I like that it freed Knopfler to do what he wanted but he never got his mojo back (commercially or artistically) and has mostly noodled since. Sorry, book editors, but the production here makes this anything but “timeless” – who can hear this and not think mid- to late ‘80s? You want timeless, try “Water of Love,” “WIld West End,” “Romeo and Juliet,” “Skateaway” or “Telegraph Road.” One must be careful not dismiss things just because they’re popular, but, while this deserves a 4, I’m protesting and penalizing with a 3 because everyone (even the authors) still overrates this at the expense of the earlier, simpler and superior efforts.
Sharp and edgy as you’d expect, with a little more fluidity in the drama and darkness than on earlier records, plus a new inclination to droning. “Spellbound” sets a decent tone and “Arabian Knights” is strong. The vocals are distinct and memorable, though occasionally, it sounds as if she’s singing from down a long tube. The slashing-echoing guitars are intermittently interesting (e.g., “Into the Light”). Still, overall, this is hardly a masterpiece and fails to fully move. One’s now and then reminded of Adam and the Ants (which may or may not be a good thing). If this was the beginning of Goth, one wonders what the fuss is all about. Perhaps one has to be a sensitive and alienated adolescent to fully get it.A flat 3 (i.e., no bullets).
Big step up from previous records, this is mature and interesting and (befitting the title) a little dream-like. “Under the Pressure” is great here but has been elevated to epic proportions live. “Suffering” is also great. The rest of the record sets a mood, contemplative and near trance-like at times, but driving at others. There’s an expansiveness to the songs and the playing that seems like a perfect balance of the auteur effect and jam band tendencies. Subsequent records are even better – further growth – but this is an easy, straight-up 4.
I was unduly suspicious, though admiring, back in the day. It all felt a little too much, both too obvious and too cheeky. My suspicion came from too many young women (albeit cool ones) liking them, a general preference for more artful Anglo angst (aka, The Smiths) and perhaps a reluctance to embrace such raw emotion (not a trend that’s necessarily gone well since). It’s pretty bright for being so dark and holds up pretty well; a lot of volume gets produced from the small-scale configuration, plus generally crisp playing and a solid differentiation of songs. The records beyond this got pretty shaky pretty quickly. But the 4 is merited.
Creative and interesting, arty and glam, but, like everything involving Lou Reed, there’s more than a little pretension involved. Plus, it’s a bit over-indexed on Weimar/Berlin Babylon cabaret songs (as well as being oversexed, generally). The record seems to do what it sets out to do, but it all feels very much like playacting, with LR being coy about how camp he wants to be and placing style over substance (maybe blame Bowie for that). This is maybe the best thing he ever did, but it doesn’t fully preclude my view that he’s a little too famous for being famous and rode the VU’s and Bowie’s coattails. 3.4 for 3.
Consistently interesting and engaging, thanks to the instrumentation and atmospherics. Very distinctive voice, sort of wearied and soulful at the same time. Strong drumming and cool guitar effects on “Rolling.” I love the tone on “Piano Joint,” “Hard to Say Goodbye” and “Final Days.” A masterpiece of mood and vibe and fully deserving of its many accolades. 4.4 for 4.
Moderately interesting and energizing, this record reads like an amalgam of the contemporary indie/alt scene – some math rock, chillwave and slowcore elements and the odd shoegazing moment all thrown in the mixer. The synths and keys threaten to overwhelm a few tracks, but combine intriguingly and to strong effect with the core on a few cuts. I’m not sure how this snuck by me in real time, and I plan to listen again, but I don’t imagine I’ll find any great initially unheard depths. 3.4 for 3.
Most influential band of all time, blah, blah, blah. There’s less to like here than on the other records, as much as one admires the experimental bent and iconoclasm, which doesn’t fully come off anyway. “Sister Ray” is as gritty as art/noise rock got, but just because it was among the first of its type doesn’t make it a masterpiece. Anyone annoyed by Reed’s talky vocal style will be sent over the edge by “Lady Godiva’s Operation.” The muddy, submerged production is a big part of the issue – one wonders what this lot would have achieved with modern technology, including sampling (Cale’s later work suggests what might have been). The record’s commercial performance suggests sometimes bands get what they deserve, while its critical reception shows the power of revisionist history. 2.5 for 2.
Sweet, steamy and groovy – what’s not to like? It’s as if Marv is going for spirituality, too, a Song of Solomon for the sexual revolution. 4.2 for 4
I'm afraid I have to be true to my early-30s self and honor this record, because I loved it then. It was sad (as I was by temperament) and serious (as I ever hoped to be) and at times beautiful (ditto). It really does hold up pretty well, sounding gorgeous, substantively stylish and professionally made. But, God have they been mostly awful ever since (the Styx of this generation, as J. Hoberman once put it). 3.5 for 4.
Big, blowsy and beautiful, this is state-of-the-art late ‘90s rock from a fully mature band. No real clear hit jumps out but it’s solid from top to bottom, with every track offering something of interest. The mini-solo guitar flourishes in nearly every song are grace notes amid very interesting instrumentation and production choices (strings, bells, synths, acoustic instruments, etc.). The mood and tempo stays in a comfortable middle range with both hard edges and mellower moments to up the drama. This just sounds great, and is well worth knowing (not to mention another listen). 3.7 / 4
Is fully what it is – which is mainly chaotic and screechy. I guess you had to be there. Might also help to know more about the jams they were aiming to kick out and how/why they were/are different than countless other politically outraged combos yowling their heads off in garages around middle America. Maybe just screechier and more chaotic? The big, slabby, psychedelic guitar riffs are decent; one half-expects them to break into “Wild Thing” at a few moments. Their oft-repeated “thank yous” at the end of every song are interesting; for outraged protesters, they seem awfully grateful and even mannerly toward the audience (not that that’s a bad thing). What this is not is musical or very listenable. Like, literally – it’s nearly impossible to hear what’s being shouted … er, sung. Also seems worth noting that a good bit of what's audible sounds like it might be about love and, you know, girls, not the military industrial complex, the pigs, racism, etc (though of course one can make out a bit of that stuff, too). Lastly, would Sun Ra consider this a tribute? Maybe including one (or more) of his records would help us know. 1.5 for 2 (and only because rounding up makes me feel slightly better about my lack of political commitment and because I’m sure the live shows were fun and as many got laid as achieved consciousness-raising).
Really holds up well. The songs are all mini-masterpieces and my amazement at its quality seems as fresh 40+ years on. The songs are interesting and accessible and the playing suggests the band is having fun and there are just enough barbs, bitterness and irony to elevate it above commercial pop. The pure New Yorkiness is great, too – think early years of SNL and Woody Allen and the Big Apple’s bankruptcy. We know “Only the Good Die Young” is a great rock n roll song because Catholic mothers all over the country were warning of its evils in the late ‘70s. Only dud for me is the snoozefest “She’s Only a Woman.” The reprising whistle ending is a nice touch to close out a fun and musically substantive ride. 4.5 for 5.
Love the jazziness, the flow, and the sheer all-over-the-place-ness of it. I lack historical perspective on and deep knowledge of the genre, but know full-on artistic commitment when I see (or hear) it and this is definitely that. Plus, lots of fun hooks and echoes – “we gonna be all right” indeed. Engaging and cool and a helluva lot of fun. 4.5 / 5.
Fun and one-of-a-kind. I wish it didn't sound so much like a novelty act. "Gigolo" is great, as is "Buona Sera" but I don't dig what he does to "Basin Street Blues" (which sounds just like "Gigolo" btw) and "Sleepytime" (which is meant to be soporific, editors, and certainly not to be hollered). Hard not to admire just how all-in he is here, and sure the band is tight and boisterous, but does it all have to be so jokey and schticky? Again, this is fun, but at best these are a few songs to know, not a record you must hear before dying (especially relative to the many, many other worthier jazz options not pictured here). 3.1 / 3.
Let’s start saying the obvious: Bruce is an all-time talent/genius whose average work (which this album feels like) is often well above the best output of other artists. And isn’t this a record we already know and is already too well known (and suffers from being so) and therefore needs no more knowing (or listening before death) and indeed might benefit from less knowledge? How would we feel about this record if it hadn’t been such a big hit. Tunnel of Love, for instance, would be more worth knowing (for being less well known and certainly less appreciated). There many good-to-very-good songs: “Bobby Jean,” “No Surrender,” “Downbound Train,” “I’m Going Down,” “Darlington County” are a clear notch down from Bruce’s best, though much better than mere filler and – again – much, much better than average outputs from lesser artists. Indeed, some of these songs would be the best work of other artists. So, this is largely down to how we feel about the “hits” (what charted, got radio play) and “the hit” (title track) in particular. “I’m on Fire” is a very good song, lovely and a touch haunting, but more accessible than mysterious (let’s be honest). Listening from the distance of years now (first time in near forever), I’ve noted the way the guitar sounds like “Every Breath You Take” which makes real sense, right, in the context of the reaching for commercial impact. “Cover Me” is basically replacement-level Boss, pretty good, pretty urgent, but non-transcendent. “Dancing in the Dark” is a good song, quite enjoyable, but in the broadest and most obvious way (the synth is vaguely AMSR, plus Courteney Cox [blah, blah, blah]). “Glory Days” I find obnoxious largely for 3 reasons: 1. the keyboard schmaltz (whatever) and 2. (more importantly) because it could/should have been much better. Imagine it as a dark ballad – solo acoustic, say – the bittersweet sentiments call for such. 3. The “speedball” for “fastball” mistake is borderline unforgivable, even allowing for the possibility that Bruce was attributing to the character in the song (though even he should have known better and I see no evidence of it being a druggie joke [by either Bruce or the song’s narrator]). Which brings us to the title track: “Born in the USA” is straight-up a great track. But the mass misinterpretation by huge numbers of listeners (many of them credulous, uninformed and uninterested in communities such as this one) begs the question of Bruce’s culpability. Could the anthemic-ness have been toned down to honor the darkness more directly? The song is dark, Bruce’s is ranting cri-de-couer-like, but rock fans (even his) want to, you know, rock, so here we are. It’s the dividing line of taste for entire generations and is so often the case the sheer numbers of my fellow Americans seem to be on a different side than the one on which I’ve landed. Has to be a 4 but a conflicted one, with multiple caveats.
Decent but iron-deficient. Minimalist to the point of approaching insubstantiality. Like a one-track tape of a Cure recording session. More dozy than dreamy. The biggest problem is that all the best hooks and grooves are cut off prematurely. There’s a likable modesty that avoids twee-ness (thank God) but never gets beyond or resolves the pleasant state of suspension it reaches on track after track. One wonders, for ex, how the undeniably (and inoffensively) groovy opener would sound like if left to fully expand and turn into, you know, a song. Similarly, “VCR” works as an homage to old tech, but the downside of that authenticity is that it risks sounding like an outdated video game (albeit one played by emo-tending lonelyhearts). Another ex: “Islands” raises the heart rate briefly and then, well, ends. The best hooks on the entire record – as on “Night Time” – need (and deserve) more space and time, too. The overall effect is awfully ‘80s – who else wants Bronson Pinchot or Griffin Dunne to star in a movie to which this is the soundtrack? The record merely interests, never impels. 3.1 (but only for pro-genre bias) / 3.
This is included ironically, right? Or just for time-capsule effect? Because this is about as banal as pop music can be. It ranks with sugar-free gum, shag carpet and curling irons as ‘70s cultural touchstones.
No album title in this collection more accurately reflects its contents. While Kylie’s presence offers a nice break from the mostly tedious vocals, this is mostly gloomy and turgid (but one should have expected that). 2.5 > 2
Eerie and dreamy and totally cool, but also static, almost posing. It could do with some tunefulness. It’s all moods, with little flow and next to no harmony. Trip-hop is not aging all that well; here, the over-reliance on the same little scratchy sound-effect speaks to a passing (now long past) moment of coolness; these songs are equally transitory, if still cool, which lands them somewhere between triviality and ephemerality. 3
There are high degrees of interest and variety throughout (e.g., chiming “Words, the highly distorted “N.Y,” dreamy and thoughtful “Sulphur Man”). Overall, it feels an update – and building on strengths of – classic Mancunian sounds. The sound (vocals in particular) start to wander, concerningly into Coldplay territory late on, without fully blossoming into full self-importance and pomposity. Straight-up likable and engaging and worthy of further listening.
So good, so deserving of broader awareness and appreciation and so damn fun. Tight playing and witty lyrics. “Let the Sad Times” and “Wham Bam” are faves. Thanks to Dwight Yoakam for keeping the torch alive.
So now that raves are done, shouldn’t we be one with such as this? The songs get to a place but no further, though these sound (very) slightly less dated that others in The P’s dreadful oeuvre. At best, this is a soundtrack for a movie I’m glad not to be watching or a video game I don’t want to play.
It’s easy to like an artist that saves the hit to the very end. “Constant Craving” is a great song, and the lead-up is languid, then charming, then stylish, then smooth – every track thoughtfully conceived (merging jazzy torch songs with country textures) and executed with verve and polish, the singing assured and accomplished, the playing distinctive and adroit. Well done, k.d.
Any record that opens with “Sympathy” has a huge headstart, but it builds from there; just the transition to “No Expectations” points to the mostly mellow and sometimes lovely journey ahead. “Parachute Woman,” “Jigsaw Puzzle” and “Factory Girl” are all underappreciated gems. The playing feels loose, almost tossed-off at times, but it’s actually quite crisp and controlled – what the Stones did best, not exactly making it look easy but looking cool and insouciant while doing it well (and sometimes wild). All that plus “Street Fighting Man,” the awesomeness of which is easy to forget somehow and a truly great closer (\"Salt of the Earth\"), a fitting and graceful crescendo. The straightforward approach and seemingly narrower ambition paid out an incredible yield – the best-ever Stones record (no mean feat, that). 4.8 / 5
Tense and dramatic, with some quite engaging ideas presented, but very little tunefulness or resolution. Too arty by half.
Clear muscular hip-hop. Shout-out to Kevin Loughery’s footwear is a personal highlight.
As unsubtle as LC’s voice is, the lovely and light-touch accompaniments make the record. Consider the quiet, pointed strings, barely audible aria-like vocals and picked flamenco riffs in the background of “Blue Raincoat.” The piano on “Sing Another Song” is more prominent, but plays the same role, both underpinning and elevating the emotional power, and enriches the quite engaging singalong. The lilting backing vocals on “Joan of Arc” (and another mini-singalong chorus).
Artful and elegant and evocative, has the feel of fully hand-crafted and intensely personal music. The combo of synths and strings is most impressive, really thoughtful textures with the observational lyrics and actorly delivery makes this feel quite a literary record – just a lovely summing up of what it means to be alive. “Automobile Noise” is a particular fave among uniformly strong tracks.
I mean, it's fine, but who cares? The brass and percussion are dead tight but I can't speak to why this is innovative or what makes it a must-hear. Appropriate for some settings, I suppose but not that many.
As good a reggae record as I've ever heard. The Tosh songs are faves among almost uniformly excellent tracks. Nothing not to like here.
Australia's “most original band”? Maybe. “Least talented” seems a safer bet. Can you tell this book by its cover? You can.
Didn't know this record on the whole, only a few of the hits, and so was skeptical of his reputation. Pop music distorts our perspective but going back years/decades later can redeem. It's really very good overall. The distinctive voice and delivery. Authentically psychedelic, with some madrigal vibes here and there, but much less cliched-seeming or caricature-like than many other records of this era sound today. Glad. to discover 50+ years on.
As with so many things Bowie, it’s overly affected and overdone. Ronson overplays and the shrill edge grates after just a few tracks. Major points off for the seriously misguided “Let’s Spend the Night Together” and the quite turgid “Jean Genie” the appeal of which has never been clear to me.
All the songs are great (or nearly so) and everybody who ever set out to do a break-up album (or poem or novel) can only dream of such success. Still it’s maybe not as interesting (for not being as sprawling or messy) as Tusk. I don’t really follow the song sequencing. The opener and closer both feel out of place – not the best way to start or end. Everything in between is aces, as one used to say, if a little too neatly packaged.
A most pleasant listen if slightly pretentious (just too earnest) at times (see last cut). Some lovely moments – the title cut/opener, and “For Emily” – and pretty authentic as a ‘60s artifact (both a weakness and a strength). One tries not to let anti-Simon feelings that have emerged in the years since (not just cultural appropriation but the sense of entitlement and just being insufferable as a person) cloud one’s objective judgment on this one.
This is a classic of tone and one can make a case it’s his best written album overall; it is to Born to Run as Nebraska is to Born in the USA.
Really good and unexpectedly substantive . The sax steals the show on several cuts and this one’s easily my fave version of “All Tomorrow’s Parties.”
Winsome, groovy and trippy (maybe to a fault with “Space Odyssey” and the uber-outre “Moog Raga” on the expanded version). Such a great brand that went from strength to strength during these years, despite turmoil. This album holds up excellently well and their influence shines through.
Not sure what to do with that title. I think I heard this record in late '90s but it didn't stick. Glad to hear again, though probably unlikely to stick, which means I can’t pack it as a desert-island disc.
Elegant and elegaic. A fitting swansong for a constantly evolving artist.
A clear bridge form punk to post-punk, one hears a lot of what was to come in the 1980s and ‘90s. The sneering vocals sound an awful lot like The Fall. The Smithereens stole “Memories Are Made of This” for “Blood and Roses.” and doesn’t “Orstralia” sound like “Sweet and Tender Hooligan.” 3.5 rounding up for being so influential.
I hated this much less than I expected to 40 years on for putting up with its popularity live and IRL. The engaging opener sets the tone. Still, it remains way too dancey-cheesy for my tastes. Of this ilk, give me the way cooler and much cheekier Blow Monkeys, more raffish Duran Duran and in all ways superior Style Council.
Just enough indie rock vibe and energy (“Regular John,” “If Only” “You Can’t Quit Me”) to keep this from being another tired and redundant hard-rock/metal-adjacent record (though “Walkin on the Sidewalk” and “The Bronze” get pretty close). Not my thing exactly and won’t listen again (might try Kyuss), but a few appreciable hooks save this from full-on forgettability.
Has not gotten better with age, though perhaps not significantly worse either. MJ really gives himself over to these songs, breathlessly so at times, but there’s far, far too much going on productionwise (heavy synths, overreaching guitar solos, the seven-layer vocals, the odd outer space sound effect). There’s a straining for maximum impact on many songs that don’t offer a ton. The musical equivalent of daytime TV, which was big back in the day, but not really worth watching – neither then nor now.
The Platonic Ideal of big doofy rock, early ‘70s edition – with all the self-indulgence and useless, feckless excess you’d expect from a live album. The vocals are overwrought, so many misbegotten arias (though our man Gillian seems distinctly underpowered and non-god-like on beginning of “Highway Star” and “The Mule” and quite shaky “Space Truckin’”). The solos (both keys and guitar) on opener gets us straightaway into Spinal Tap territory, as does the subject matter (boss hot rods and bitchin’ Camaros, one supposes). “Smoke on the Water” gets off to a false start and sounds offbeat, like they couldn’t get the hang of a hook they must have already played thousands of times. Might it be said they explored virtuosity in a hard rock context, thereby staking new ground that jam bands (including mellower, pacifistic sorts given to softer drugs and disinclined to put armadillos in their trousers) would later explore and colonize (often overstaying their welcome)? Sure, but whether that’s a feature or a bug depends on one’s tastes. This is decidedly not to mine, because the longer it goes on, the more tedious it gets, which, one assumes, was not the intent of this allegedly epic effort.
Very much the kind of thing you’ll like if you like this kind of thing. Excellently well executed with lots of high-level soloing and some huge, way-swinging hooks. Such well-integrated playing – orchestral and strong in the details, too. Highlights for me include “After Supper” and “Lil’ Darlin’.” Shouldn’t the Foo Fighters cover “Flight of the Foo Birds”?
The name of the record and the cover shot are ridiculous -- could not be more so. It's easy to see why this dinosaur disappeared from the earth not tool long after this.
A record in my sweet spot, a high water mark of my college radio prime. I still have the vinyl shared promotionally by the record co. Every cut works well on its terms, and the record is the antithesis of the one-hit-wonder in that sense, but it’s hard to believe they never made another album – sound like the perfect got to be the enemy of the good. The final track still amazes, pulling together the records many to build something new; the whole is very much more the sum of its parts, which might also be said of the record a whole.
Low key and lovely, maybe not my favorite Drake, but awfully good. “Saturday Sun” is a career highlight. “Time Has Told Me” and “Cello Song” are also great.
As good as this type of dance-plus music can be. It's a little angsty, as if we're dancing to forget and be free of the pain. The bass lines and epic and most of the synth hooks hold up. It gets a bit same-y toward the back.
A hip-hop album that seems to want to be an industrial or noise rock album. The bombastic rhymes are well matched by the bombastic samples and the “more is more” production choices, sound effects and beats. Its popularity is what it is, one supposes, but this fails to land for me.
Wild and loose but also beautifully layered. Bolan had a great voice and there's a sense of anything goes to the production – reaching for max impact and the big gesture, even in the acoustic songs. A big, messy, sprawling work of rock and roll art.
Sweet and soulful. Layered and lovely. Joyous and uplifting. “It Ain’t No Use” is great.
Mostly good unclean fun. The surfer-slacker vibe is not real credible given how much they wanted to be — and succeeded in becoming — big stars. Repetitive AF with nearly every song having the same gronky and crunching guitars and greasy licks.
Generic-sounding. Uses the same shaking effects and jittery beats that one hears everywhere. Vocals are fine, her voice is here and there lovely but nothing to get excited about here, but one allows for the possibility that, not knowing the genre, one may be missing considerable subtlety.
This isn’t the best he’s done, but I love what he does and this works well throughout.
Way better than other metal on this list, primarily because one can hear the playing, which isn’t to say it’s actually worth one’s time.
Challenging but still pleasurable. Ellingtonian in a good way, though darker and more discordant, and maybe outright sexier, too.
The hype to quality ratio is still too high but there’s much more to this than one remembered. The record is pretty fun and listenable, with some thoughtful songs that cool things out. Still, this is much a better record than one would have suspected. The covers are mostly dumb but the record isn’t nearly as naughty or silly as one might have suspected. The hype was of unsuitable “The-Beatles-Are-Coming!” pitch and the one mega hit plus one big one (“Two Tribes”) seeming like maybe it could last, which of course it didn’t any more than a minute.
Awfully ‘80s sounding for a hot, 21st century act from NYC. Way more disco-y and synth-y than I recall. The producer’s love for all things Duran isn’t too terribly concealed here. Is the fadeout synth revelry on “Dragon Queen” a sample of Tangerine Dream or just an outright ripoff? The latter, quieter half of the record is much preferred. Feels richer and less frantic/forced. Not terrible, certainly, but not deeply moving or elevating either.
Extremely polished and accomplished and benefitting greatly from expert production (which is a reminder of why at least one and probably multiple records from The National should be in here), this is the work of a maturing artist.
R.E.M. at their loosest, most confident and most fun. Great mix of tunes, “A Finest Worksong” is an awesome opener (banged live, too), “Exhuming McCarthy” a boisterous blast and “King of Birds” a beautiful toning down toward the end. I’ve never loved the hits as much as others, though “The One I Love” holds up as a lean, classic. I have a long history with the band so hard to stay objective, but this record still sounds bold and fresh and fun, and continued R.E.M.’s hot streak that lasted well over the decade, a run that holds its own against that of any other band, ever.
Raw and authentic as Janis always was, but more polished and tighter than other of her records (especially those with overly loud Big Brother). Lots of winners here, including "Bobby McGee," a classic among classics, and really no losers on either side. There's also a touch of sweetness to these blues that belies the early death.
Just not qualified to judge this but I enjoyed hearing it and I will listen again. I get the links to doo-wop and gospel, though I have no clue how innovative or subtle, etc. this might be. One is glad that world music, a mockable trend, did offer benefits such as introductions to bands such as this.
One can’t hate grooves this fat (pre-Phat) just because they’re disco. Much of this feels more like R&B (the languid pop of “Savoir Faire,” the R&B ballad [not quite slow jam] of “At Last I’m Free”) than the much reviled d-word genre. If you can’t dig this (and these bass lines in particular), your problem is much bigger than disco.
While the music is pretty dull and doofy, this is lyrical poetry of the highest order, no? She had the face of an angel Smiling with sin A body of Venus with arms Dealing with danger Stroking my skin Let the thunder and lightening start It wasn't the first It wasn't the last It wasn't that she didn't care She wanted it hard And wanted it fast She liked it done medium rare I mean, these guys must be scholars of the pre-Renaissance Italian troubadours of the 12th-century – the golden age of the sestina (which “Touch Too Much” clearly is, with only the slightest modernizing modifications) – to write such refined verse.
This is how English rock singers and indie rock bands were supposed to sound, circa 1992 – just the slightest sneering to the singing and the loosest . So call it state-of-the-art. This band is in one’s sweet spot, both temporally (i.e., era) and stylistically (i.e., a phile of Britpop in all its forms). But the operative question here is how well it holds up, and the answer is, very well.
Like so much of mid-’80s pop, the synths date this and it doesn’t hold up quite as well as one would’ve thought. A handful of great songs but a few too many throwaways.
Cool and moody, tough and tremulous, this is gold-standard indie rock of early 21st century, or any era, really. Awfully Big Apple for a non-New York record. “Good Fortune,” “The Mess We’re In” and “You Said Something” are all major tunes. “Horses in My Dreams” is haunting and austere and “We Float” about as hopeful as the uncompromising PJH does. Sounds both very much of its time and timeless.
Meh. Janis would get a lot better and not sure BB&THC were ever any good.
Metal is dumb.
There's no doubting that GM has a great voice and the sales figures are impressive but also tired by now, well past its sell-by date and pretty forgettable overall. “Kissing a Fool” is an all-time personal fave (how much more frequently one wishes these pop stars would go classic and/or cover traditional standards as it hihghlights [maybe flatters] their talent). "Hand to Mouth" is good, too, but much of the rest suffers from overpackaging and overexposure (which do go together, don't they?). Bright shining pop music so polished and sheeny that it's no wonder he wore shades. For all the shiny surface, the substance (if there was any) has long since died off.
Way overdone from top to bottom, with too much of everyhing (including her star power and ambitions). Simple pop songs, infectious dancey hooks are made to bear too much weight (primarily of Madonna’s artistic and cultural ambitions) – one hears a star wanting to be even bigger and brighter and the songs aren’t the right platform, lacking much more than glittery surfaces and studio tricks. The songs aren’t necessarily bad – ”Til Death Do Us Part” and “Promise to Try” have their appeal, but even “Cherish,” the best of the lot, ultimately fails to move one beyond the sense of “oh, that’s sorta pleasant.” The whole thing nets out as just okay, which hardly seems worth all the effort and expense. One gets the feeling all of the songs would’ve been improved by abridgement. It’s a truth not commonly enough acknowledged that pop songs such as these falter once they get past the 3-minute mark. … their sell-by date is three minutes. The claim that this is best pop record since Revolver is ridiculous.
Another mega-pop artist one struggles to get and/or is not much moved by.
Bleak and grim and utterly beautiful. It’s amazing that an artist would go this direction at such a point in his career and fully explore one dimension of his talent and creativity. “Atlantic City” and “Open All Night” are great, but “Mansion on the Hill” and “Highway Patrolman” are sublime. The last section lags a bit, which is the only thing keeping this as sub-5. And I’ve always wondered: who dances to “The Night of the Johnstown Flood”? 4.5
Raw and rocking. Moon's bashing is a highlight. One prefers their studio work, which favored their artfulness and melodies (and made Daltrey sound better) over the pimal energy on display here, which is considerable. This isn't to be underestimated and shows off their extensive range and how they predicted both mod and punk. Somehow, tis' easy to overlook how great they once were; perhaps they didn't fly quite as high as the Stones (though one could make the case) but then they've not quite as fully embarrased themselves (though getting quite close) with umpteen farewell tours.
Huge overrated and not nearly as powerful, poetic, passionate as it desperately wants to be. It works in moments, but not in any sustained way and it just sounds raw and exhibitionistic and overly emoted now. Who cares enough about "Gloria" to search for the irony or the deconstruction? Same as the imagistic dream of "Horses" morphing into "Land of a Thousand Dances." Its reputation seems vastly overblown all these years on.
Meh to middling. One likes the attempt to pare back a bit, to aim for intimacy and quietude, rather than oversinging as Frank was way too wont to do, but it just fails to move. One wishes editors found other jazz or samba records or others by Jobim rather than this obvious-seeming choice.
Overstuffed with too many ideas and just too much going on. Awfully fun, but ultimately the center does not hold.
What a waste of time and anger. There seems a distant chance Ian Mc has a sense of humor about this ... but it's distant. One pities all the people who had these t-shirts, as if the in-joke was worth knowing.
The sweet slow numbers are better than the debauched rockers. Bonus points for the iconic (for once that overused word is accurate) cover imagery.
Haunting and haunted. Hard to imagine a more intense process of turning grief into art.
Rawer and angrier than debut, but neither as affecting or effective overall. Undeniable intensity and points for originality on Dylan cover and artiness on "Man-Size Sextet" but otherwise more rancorous than memorable.
More monotonous than hard-core. Maybe because of all we've heard in the years since, this sounds like your basic funky metal (and not all that heavy either). And, hey editors, where exactly is the reggae?
Back in Black AC/DC 2.5 2 So much of this is hard to credit and/or take seriously, even if they had a notably tight and crisp sound for a hard rock band of this era. One confesses to have once liked this (as an adolescent, of course, but even then knew enough to keep it to myself and view this as a guilty pleasure). “You Shook Me” is all-time pure rock song. The rest is pretty flat and meh – some of it would be offensive if it weren’t so moronic (e.g., “Givin’ the Dog a Bone,” “Let Put My Love Into You”) “Rock and Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution” is a clear case of protesting too much. In the canons curated by teenage boys, this would rate much higher of course.
Original and excellent throughout. "Party Girl" and "Accidents Wil Happen" are career highlights but every track has considerable merit.
Music at its most mystical.
If the reputation is that the band barely talked to each other – that it was a bunch of solo songs and performances – then I suggest more bands take that approach. Some very good songs here ”– “Expecting to Fly” and “Broken Arrow” and “Everydays” and “Hung Upside Down." It wasn't hard to see how these guys would go on to do such great work.
Rockin and cool, some epic reach that still feels rootsy in grasp.
Awfully good to be so little known. Cope deserved more, though the tunes are quirky and they get a little synthy at times (curse of the '80s). Still, one hears easily how they were admired and imitated -- classic intense New Wave, with some dark humor thrown in.
A delightful crowd pleaser for all ages, this record threads the needle between the excesses of both glam and prog, primarily by focusing on great hooks, tunefulness and fun. Indeed, one traces a likable lack of embarrassment about making music to be enjoyed. Jeff Lynne does it all – compose, orchestrate, sing and entertain. A few top-class songs ("Turn to Stone" and "Sweet Talkin' Woman" and "Mr Blue Sky" [basically light opera]) plus lots more fun ("Birmingham Blues") and a few credibly poignant moments ("Steppin' Out" and "Big Wheels"). One believes ELO is unnderrated given that they are accessible and (at least somewhat) derivative of the Beatles and didn't act like tortured artists. But one counts 8-10 first-rate and near-canonical songs in their library that hold up well 40 years on, which can only be rated a triumph (even after discounting for the work on Xanadu and with the Traveling Wilburys). 4.3/4
Great raw and psych-y blues, vintage-sounding but layered and enriched to modern standards. Last few cuts are excellent and deliver more via less banging than earlier cuts.
Every jazz record in this collection seems to scream for more jazz records in this collection. Maybe Sassy oversings (or overemotes) onm a few songs but my is the voice a powerful thing of beauty.
Fun to hear and hard not to like, but sorta basic and casual-seeming.
Just classic and vintage. The playing is so good and the odd time signatures (which have been overemphasized) simply don't get in the way of anyone's pleasure.
Utterly unparalleled in quality, coherence, depth and range of emotion, plus epic singalongs, (personal) protest anthems twinkling tunes and tender – even heart-breaking – ballads. Not only are there no filler cuts, there’s nary a wasted note and Dylan’s voice has never been stronger nor clearer, and never more assured in delivery. One of the best records of all-time …. Easily top 5.
Eerie and likably weird. One likes the understatement and minimalistic, almost downbeat feel of this.
What vibes and what solos. Still packs a punch. Only knock is that "Watchtower" feels a bit out of place here, as great as it is.
Like bubble gum, the flavor wears out soon and one is left feeling a bit sticky. Still, what we sensed on first listens in 6th and 7th grade – the newness and power and freshness; the screaming shininess – is not entirely lost on us even now, all these productive and cynical years later.
Isleys are seriously under-appreciated, both as hitmakers and players. There's some great playing here and rich interpretations on the covers.
It grooves and it swings and the first few cuts have a slightly exotic feel, but then vibes its way into a sorta generic ‘60s energy. Glad to know it (if only for the epic “Revelation”) but one won’t be playing it at one's funeral.
Mature and balanced, a very good record and by aiming for more understatement than in previous efforts, Morissey wins bigger. The controlled melancholy works beautifully. This is how pop stars can/should age gracefully.
So much more than the title track and "Vincent." Didn't know what to make of the record in high school and college; now it makes much more sense as substantive (and earnest) easy listening. One gets why DM's half-conceived as a one-hit wonder and got imprisoned by title cut, which can be hard to take seriously, but still entertains and reads like just about the best of heartfelt creative-writing-seminar, collage-y cultural history cum criticism (Dylan without the obscurity, say).
Tuneful and melodic from the first to the last not, with great hooks and several absolute classics of the genre (starting with "Birdland"). Has aged extremely well (one woudln't have guessed), but masterful playing is timeless, innit? An outright pleasure to hear (on one's deathbed or any time) to be reacquainted with.
Sure, it's direct and clean, but also sounds a bit light and tinny, doesn't it? Maybe even tame. Rodgers' voice frays noticeably on "Rock Steady," undercutting the promise of the title. Takeaway: people in the '70s would buy anything sold to them, musically. This feels like testament to the dodgy taste of mid-'70s rock and roll simpletons, of which there were clearly many. "Don't Let Me Down" is homogeniety itself -- beat and rhythms, solo and vocals (but no doubt would sound great if one were waving a lighter about in one of that benighted era's acoustically unsound arenas) and not even close to John Lennon's tune (of which this seems a half-cover). "Movin On" is okay but far from compensates from many other faults (the unconvincing faux drama of the title cut –– "ooh, we're shaking in our boots, you're so bad!" –– and the silly paean to "Seagull").
A few engaging and immersive tracks but just too synthetic and disco-y to attain anything like timelessness. Editor review seems appropriately unsure on the same point, which makes this record, as enjoyable as it is, an obvious candidate for being dropped.
It all sounds so familiar – the chiming and jangly guitars, the countrified frills, the dreamy lyrics, the tension between mellowness and a druggy sort of edginess – that it’s hard to remember how new it must have sounded in the mid-60s. It sounds so much less dated than much else from this era. One likes their take on “Rider,” an often dull and flavorless ‘60s chestnut.
A masterpiece – maybe THE – masterpiece of indie rock. Certainly the Smiths best record, which is no small feat.
Somehow not as good or fresh or original-seeming as it once was, without being in any way bad.
Cool and pleasant. Alternatively meditative and (lightly) energizing. Best songs: “ISI,” “Seeland” “Leb Wohl” and “E-Musik." More satisfying than Kraftwerk, but not without clunkers, such as "Hero," the grating vocals of which breaks the proto spa-chill effect.
Roils and moils. Some great licks and cuts on first half, second half darker and more exploratory. One likes both halves, while recognizing the merits of the target criticisms (i.e., too-cool-for-school, prententious-in-its-artiness/avant-garding).
Ranging from dark and soaring epics to the sweet and tuneful tite cut and it’s all about ambiences and textures throughout. Seemed one-of-a-kind when it came out and fascinated everyone, putting Cool Icelandia back on the map. The scale and dreaminess hold up pretty well.
Timelessly excellent funk and samba. All 70s music should have been this rich and compelling. Sounds contemporary still.
Ahead of its time re collaging and world music? Sure. Interesting? Not so much. This suffers from the science experiement effect and a massive lack of lyricism and musicality.
A bit too raw and confessional. One much prefers Summer Lawns, which is of more interest musically and less painfully vulnerable.
Hard to say where homage and admiration bleed into appropriation but one's always had a soft spot for this record, despite being Simon-bearish generally (for reasons of being overrated and difficult to work with). "Diamonds" is one of the best tracks of the decade, transcending the shiny-tinkling '80s production vibes. Quite a few other very solid tracks make for a thoughtful and mature record overall.
A religious experience for jazz fans, but for others probably not so much. It's elevating and otherwordly, but other more accessible Coltrane albums (My Favorite Things, Giant Steps [not Boo Radleys for Chrssakes!], Blue Trane, Soultrane, Ballads) are just as worthy of inclusion, through for different reasons.
So many other 'Mats records could/should be in this list but this is completely worthy candidate. A sometimes great, sometimes indifferent band that is perhaps the essential '80s indie rock band – “Unsatisfied” and, “I Will Dare” “Androgynous,” “Seen Your Video” “Sixteen Blue” and “Answering Machine” all very strong, too.