Go to the NEW FORUM
I want to propose an exercise for the people that participated in the AM Forum Poll. I hope that many of you want to take part in this new “game”. First of all, I think that all your individual lists were amazing, reflecting your personal tastes and not the common concepts regarding “classic” albums. When I was making my list I was slightly afraid by leaving outside many “untouchable” (like Moonbeam said) albums but I can see that all of you were much bolder than me. And that’s really good!!
Well, I’ve selected the “solitary pleasure” of every voter, the album with the highest position in the individual list that had not reached the AM Top 200, the album that only you seems to appreciate. Now’s your turn as a defence attorney. You can write your arguments to defend the album, why you like that album so much and why it should be among our Top 100s. All of you can choose the defence strategy that you like, you can use 5 or 500 words, but you must do what you need to win the case and to obtain for the defendant a verdict of not guilty.
The albums are (many of them were your number ones!):
Alex Santee: Built to Spill – Keep it Like a Secret (#5).
Dan O'Brien: Sonny Rollins – Saxophone Colossus (#5).
Denis Filion: Cassandra Wilson – New Moon Daughter (#10).
Ddoredd: Gorillaz – Demon Days (#6).
Dexternico: The Prodigy – Music for the Jilted Generation (#3).
Dumbangel: The Ronettes – Presenting the Fabulous Ronettes Featuring Veronica (#7, “Nuggets” was #5 but couldn’t be in the Top 200 being a compilation).
Giuseppe: Jefferson Airplane – Crown of Creation (#4).
Henrik: Massive Attack – Protection (#1).
Honorio: Elvis Costello – King of America (#14).
Howlin' Andrew: The Wallflowers – Bringing Down The Horse (#2).
Jacek: Massive Attack – Mezzanine (#4).
Jason: Mariah Carey – Daydream (#1).
JR: Pat Benatar – Crimes of Passion (#7).
Kuba: Mansun – Six (#6).
Mark Propp: Brian Eno - Here Come the Warm Jets (#4).
Mauricio Cadena: Depeche Mode – Ultra (#1).
Michel Floch: Tindersticks – Tindersticks (2nd album) (#1).
Mitchell Sterling: Neil Young – On the Beach (#17).
Moonbeam: Prince – Lovesexy (#2).
Nescio: Johnny Cash – At Folsom Prison (#9).
Snusmumrik: Bob Dylan – Live 1966 (#1).
Sonofsamiam: Funkadelic – Maggot Brain (#5).
Tremolo: Ornette Coleman – Free Jazz (#6).
Well, I gotta leave now. I must write my “Ten reasons why I love Costello’s King of America”. See you later.
PS: everyone can write a defense for that albums, not only the ones who voted for them. But please don’t be the accusation attorney. Indifference is just enough.
Well, Crimes of Passion is one of the best of its genre- hard-hitting (yet accessible) female arena rock.
"Hit Me With Your Best Shot" became an anthem and one of the best-known tracks of the 1980s. Some took it too seriously (Pat explains that it was meant as a joke- and this was YEARS before "(Hit Me)...Baby One More Time," mind you). On the album, it was sequenced immediately before the far more serious "Hell is For Children," which remains one of Pat's finest moments.
Pat's cover of "You Better Run" is a track that exemplifies how Pat's a takes-no-shit kinda woman (which I fully appreciate). Also, "Treat Me Right" gets the message across, too.
The album is full of other winners that weren't issued as singles- "Never Wanna Leave You," "I'm gonna Follow You," "Little Paradise," etc.
I don't know- I just think it's a very enjoyable album to listen to. It was her peak album, and feel it is very under-rated.
Many thanks, JR.
Great idea! I'll get to my thoughts on Lovesexy in the next few days.
I agree this is a great idea! A friend has borrowed the "Protection" CD. When I get it back I will find my arguments.
1. The SONGS: The first reason for loving an album must always be the music that contains, and the music of this record is first class. The songs of this set are the most consistent in the second part of Costello’s amazing career. From the gorgeous opener “Brilliant Mistake” to the sad closer “Sleep of the Just” (but both with similar melodic line) there’s not a weak moment in the record. And we’re talking about an album with 15 songs and almost 1 hour length. And it seems that some great songs remained unreleased (I haven’t found in record stores of my city the 2005 reissue with a bonus CD, but the Rockdelux reviewer talks about “King of Confidence”, “Shoes Without Heels” or the Richard Thompson cover “End of the Rainbow” as better songs that others that made the cut).
2. It’s Elvis 86 COMEBACK Special: “King of America” is a pivotal album in the Costello career. Elvis had released previously tons of great material, evolving from the quasi-punk angry young man of “This Year’s Model” to the crafted, sophisticated and elegant songwriter of “Imperial Bedroom”. After the (relative) failure of “Goodbye Cruel World”, an uninspired divorce album, and after a year without any Costello release (having released 1 or 2 albums per year since 1977), “King of America” was a kind of “comeback” album.
3. It’s a PERSONAL album: the album is credited to The Costello Show but in the album credits the artist appears as Declan MacManus, his real name (Columbia Records refused to release the album under that name alleging contractual reasons). And, even if the lyrics continue his particular tradition of cynical and clever observations of the world around him (“He thought he was the King of America / where they pour Coca Cola just like vintage wine” “She said that she was working for the ABC News / It was as much of the alphabet that she knew how to use”), it introduces several verses about his personal feelings. The line “I was a good idea at the time / now I’m a brilliant mistake” doesn’t left any space for doubt. Elvis Costello was then facing divorce and alcoholism, although was soon to recover by marrying Cait O’Riordan, the Pogues bass player (Costello was the producer of the great Pogues album “Rum, Sodomy and the Lash”).
4. It’s an GENRE EXERCISE on American music, especially country & western, but it still is a personal album. I’m fascinated for the musicians who, having chosen to do this kind of genre exercise, are able of creating new and fresh material culling the elements from old and venerable styles. It could be compared with some Clint Eastwood movies, in which generates relevant new material without stop being genre films (western in “Unforgiven”, impossible-love drama in “The Bridges of Madison County”, boxing in “Million Dollar Baby”). I think that’s very difficult to write a song that seems to has been always there, floating in the air.
5. The MUSICIANS: It was the first album without The Attractions since 1977’s “My Aim Is True” giving himself the opportunity to breathe (although he returned with the Attractions for his next effort, the equally good “Blood and Chocolate”). But the session musicians (The Confederates) that backed Elvis in this album were the best for making that kind of music. To name only three: T-Bone Burnett (that act also as the sessions producer), James Burton (whose guitar can be heard backing Gram Parsons or –significantly- the other Elvis) and Jim Keltner (whose curriculum as a drummer produces vertigo).
6. The VISION, the concept or whatever you call it: This album was conceived like a journey through America, and I suppose that’s a dangerous subject for American people coming from a cynical European. But it can be considered “the journey across America in relation to the journey into oneself”, using a quote from the excellent review of Adrian Pennigton in Amazon.co.uk. More verses taken from the album: “Now I’m in America and running from you / Like my grandfather before me I walk the streets of New York / And I think of all the woman I pretend mean more than you / When I open my mouth and I can’t seem to talk”.
7. The VERSATILITY of Elvis and the band: in this journey through America no style is forbidden, all are boarded with energy and self-confidence. It dominates the country music, being up-tempo numbers (like “Glitter Gulch” or “The Big Light”) or torch ballads (like “Our Little Angel” or the great “Indoor Fireworks”). But in this album you can also get generous portions of rockabilly (“Lovable”), blues (“Eisenhower Blues”), folk (“Little Palaces”) or even jazz (“Poisoned Rose”). All American styles, aren’t they? And, of course, my favourite style (and Costello’s): pop. My favourite songs of this set are bright pop songs like the opener “Brilliant Mistake” and “Jack of All Parades”.
8. The VOCAL PERFORMANCE. The voice of Elvis Costello maybe is not his main assets, being much more recognized as a songwriter. But, even if it’s funny to hear him trying (without luck) to howl like James Brown in “Einsenhower Blues”, in this album Costello improves leaps and bounds as a singer. Listen to his vibrato (his vocal signature within the years) in “Poisoned Rose”, to the transitions from whisper to cry in “I’ll Wear It Proudly” and to the breaking of the voice (intentional or not) in the last verse of “Our Little Angel”.
9. Does HUMOUR belongs in music? asked Frank Zappa. Of course, Frankie, humour is always welcome. Costello, an archetypical Englishman, the King of America? Why not? It could not be worse than George W. Bush.
10. And, uh, well, I was very young when I bought this album, and reminds me of a girlfriend then (that I was deeply in love). I remember a tape I recorded for her that I named “Especially for You”. I don’t remember many songs (it was almost 20 years ago) but I remember that opened with “Brilliant Mistake”. Basically the tape included some of my favourites songs of that year (like “Fall on Me” by R.E.M., “Blood and Roses” by The Smithereens, “Already Yesterday” by The Church or “There Is a Light That Never Goes Out” by The Smiths), but also a few of all-time favourites like The Byrds’s “My Back Pages” or Bowie’s “Life on Mars”. Anyway, the tape didn’t work. The relationship was soon to break. We were a fine idea at the time, now…
A good idea that turned into a brilliant
mistakereview! I hope that people are not afraid of writing their own reviews after this...
I looked at your full top 100 list and I really like it. We had no less than 31 albums in common!
Thank you very much for your kind words, Henrik.
I like very much your top 100 too. Many of the albums that are not in my Top 100 would be in my Top 150 for sure (Stand!, Plastic Ono Band, Electric Warrior, Aja, Sgt. Pepper’s and many more…). I like also all the other lists, but I would like to emphasize the list of Dumbangel (with Millennium and Left Banke in the Top 10!, great!).
And, of course, I hope that people continue sending their reviews. I’m waiting anxiously…
Thank you, Honorio. I'm glad to see that there's people in the world who likes these underrated bands. I won't write my review of "Presenting the fabulous Ronettes" because my english is too bad and because I have not many things to say about this album. This is just the essence of Phil Spector's wall of sound. All the songs are stunning and very catchy, it's a kind of "best of" album because all the greatest Ronettes songs are in it. I love it because it talks about love and innocence, the rythms sound like heartbeats, it makes me wanna fall in love every time I listen to it. And the three girls are so beautiful that I can't help myself wanting to make love to them.
I forget to say how much influencable were the Ronettes songs for the Beach Boys, my definitive and absolute favorite band of all-time !
Dumbangel, I think you just wrote your review, and it was as good as any!
Thank you for your review, Dumbangel (I agree with Henrik that is as good as any). I haven't heard the album entirely but 9 of the 12 songs are in Phil Spector 1991 box, and I agree that are splendid songs that makes you wanna fall in love again and again…
I think Honorio’s idea is great, and I now realize I’ve been missing King of America since moving out of a place where one guy played it a lot :-)
As for my own no. 1 solitary pleasure, ”Bob Dylan: Live 1966”: A defense attorney for Dylan’s songwriting is obviously not called for (# 19, 25, 28, 119 and 184 in the forum poll), but his live albums seem to be less appreciated. To me, he is however quite as much a performer of songs as a writer of them: The way he can twist and bend the notes and syllables of a song (his own or those of other artists) in performing it anew, is to me a testimony to his artistry equal to his songwriting. Actually, the voice itself, I think, is the main thing that makes me keep playing his stuff. I have no sensible way to desctribe or argue why Dylan’s voice sounds interesting and certain other artists’ voices leave me bored, no matter how great the songs they sing might be (cf. Honorio’s reason no. 8 for loving King of America), but that’s the way it is.
But with some eight regular full-length live albums to choose from (and quite a few bootlegs in circulation), why does it have to be the 1966 one? Well, the electric second half of this set combines Dylan’s songwriting and creative performance with a terrifyingly talented bunch of musicians (The Band) playing their most energetic in-your-face garage-type rock. They may not be totally in control of their amplifying gear, and the recording is some sort of three-track reel-to-reel thing, but what the heck – the chaos created by Robbie Robertson’s guitar, Garth Hudsom’s organ and Dylan’s harmonica is just beautiful, and Dylan’s voice soaring over the pandemonium does things to his songs that are often even better than the higly acclaimed studio versions.
Quite a bit of hype used to surround this electric stuff back when it was only available as a bootleg. But actually what I love the most about this record is the acoustic first half. The intensity of the voice is even more pronounced than on the electric songs. I don’t know what drugs he was on – probably there was no small amount of speed involved, and the result may have been artistically disastrous on other nights, but here it’s just perfect: He’s in such total control of his voice, listening to him you feel like being hypnotized by a snake of sorts, or watching somebody walk a tightrope over an abyss. I remember when I first listened to it, I had to stop the tape recorder between songs to sit down and relax before going on to the next song.
Well, I have to go and make a song list for Sonofsamiam :-)
Just wanted to correct Honorio (great work though), because my number 2 which was The Go-Betweens' 16 Lovers Lane isn't in the Top 200 too (it's 792).
Why is it so high? I think I won't be able explain you. Sorry.
Thank you very much, Snusmumrik. I’m a big fan of Dylan too, and I think that his voice is really amazing. It may not be considered a great singer for the common taste, but the way that Dylan acts the lyrics (like you said “the way he can twist and bend the notes and syllables of a song”) and the way that completely changes the rhythm patterns and melody of his own songs in every performance is always surprising. In their recent autobiography (“Chronicles vol I”, a really great book by the way) Dylan spends 5 pages to explain his ternary technique of singing versus the usual binary technique, but I’m afraid I didn’t understand a single word of it. But maybe it’s the Spanish translation.
I agree with you that, even that the legend around the album was based on the electric side and all that “Judas” thing, I prefer the first CD actually too. But I can help feeling chills when an angry Dylan, after the “Judas!” shouts, turns toward the band and says “Play fuckin’ loud!” just in the beginning of a furious, almost punk, performance of “Like a Rolling Stone”.
By the way, I just can’t wait to see Scorsese’s biopic of Dylan. Dylan + Scorsese just sounds perfect to me.
And, answering to Kuba, “16 Lovers Lane” is at #194 after the inclusion of “69 Love Songs” and “Five Leaves Left”. But you’re right, many times is not explainable why we like an album or song so much.
"And, answering to Kuba, “16 Lovers Lane” is at #194 after the inclusion of “69 Love Songs” and “Five Leaves Left”."
My mistake Honorio, I first thought we were talking about the main site's Top 200.
Sorry, kuba, I was thinking about the AM Forum Poll Top 200, but I put in the first post "the AM Top 200", so the mistake was not really yours.
Thank you to JR, Dumbangel and Snusmumrik. I think your reviews were great (and sorry for not mention it before).
If you don’t mind I’m gonna take part in the defense of two more albums I like so much (even if they aren’t in my Top 100) that were the number one of two participants in the AM Poll (but not regular posters). These are:
ULTRA (1997) by DEPECHE MODE:
“Ultra” is an album full of great songs but not much appreciated even among Depeche Mode core fans. The only possible reason that comes to my mind is that “Ultra” is seen as a regression, coming after great albums (especially “Violator”) and after 4 years without DM material. The career of the band till then showed an continuous increase of critical and popular acclaim, and “Ultra” was an album filled with slow beats and dark mood, with few dance numbers and no obvious hit singles (except the gorgeous “It’s No Good”). This could produce some degree of disappointment among fans. I can’t resist to quote a review of NatBateman on rateyourmusic that defines the record as “the fighting object of the discord that caused a divorce between Depeche Mode and me in 1997 after nine years of simple adoration”, adding that “hurt, violent in my spontaneous reactions I have sold it some weeks after the buying to a school mate of mine, happy to see disappear this treacherous album”.
But, even if we know now that “Ultra” was the beginning of the decline of Depeche Mode (they made only another release after, the much worse “Exciter”, and some embarrassing solo efforts of the members), the album deserves another chance.
The album had come after many problems that generated concerns about the capability of the band to continue generating good material, mainly the departure of Alan Wilder and the battle against drug addiction (and near suicide) of Dave Gahan. But Depeche Mode had previously recovered from another significant departure: the band-leader Vince Clarke after the first album. And they succeeded again. And with the same weapons: the songwriting ability of Martin Gore and the singing charisma of Dave Gahan.
5 songs above all others:
- “Barrell of a Gun” is a perfect opener with industrial beats, a heavy distorted guitar and Gahan’s voice filtered through distortion effects, following the paths of previous techno-rock anthems like “I Feel You” or “Personal Jesus” but with a darker edge in this case.
- “Home” is a magnificent ballad with Martin Gore vocals and a great orchestral arrangement, kinda reminiscent of Massive Attack’s “Unfinished Sympathy”.
- “It’s No Good” is the best of this set in my opinion, a great number that combines a danceable beat with a menacing mood, a pounding bass line with an absolutely romantic vocal performance, the speciality of the house.
- “Sister of Night”, another great song with a dramatic vocal rendition of Gahan.
- “The Bottom Line” benefits of a great melody, a somber mood, terrific backing vocals and a perfect pedal steel arrangement.
Maybe the tempos are too uniformly slow and down and the unnecessary instrumental tracks makes the album a little too long. Maybe one could find too much guitars in an album from the ultimate techno-pop band. Maybe in previous efforts there was more dance numbers (and more fun). But this is an album of maturity (ugh, some could think) and Depeche Mode reaches here dramatic heights not know previously in DM trajectory.
It could have fit perfectly in my Top 100 if I haven’t put “Violator” already.
TINDERSTICKS (1995) by TINDERSTICKS:
Dramatic. Literate. Intimate. Theatrical. Gloomy. Bittersweet. Menacing. Reflective. Somber.
These are the adjectives that allmusic.com uses to describe the mood of this album. Some may think that’s enough to know about this album. But in this case they would miss not only a bunch of great songs but a whole different way to make (and feel) music. Following the teachings of Leonard Cohen, Scott Walker and Nick Cave, Tindersticks have developed a style that we can call “nocturnal”, cause it’s when the shadows around grows darker and darker when the impact and meaning of the music is deeper. Usually the songs begins with no more than a whisper, with the musicians caressing its instruments more than playing them. But slowly the songs continue to grow, often exploding with lush orchestral arrangements and dramatic vocal performances and less often exploding with noise bursts.
The orchestral arrangements plays in this album a basic and pivotal role, although a complete string section only appears in 5 of the 16 songs: “A Night In”, “Tiny Tears”, “Talk to Me”, “Travelling Light” and “Mistakes”. But it always appears to produce the greatest emotional impact.
I want to point to 5 songs:
- “El diablo en el ojo”, a noisy opening that has given name to a Spanish rock band.
- “My Sister”: a spoken-word filled with a particular black humour (“She said she didn’t want to be cremated, and wanted a cheap coffin, so the worms could get to her quickly”), with a rich musical arrangement that grows slowly including vibraphone, saw, trumpet, trombone, accordion and cellos and with collaboration of Terry Edwards and Isobel Monteiro.
- “Tiny Tears” with a ¾ beat (owing debt to the great waltzes of Leonard Cohen) and with a achingly beautiful crescendo (“Tiny Tears / filled up an ocean”).
- “No More Affairs”, a reflexive ballad driven by an electric piano.
- “Travelling Light” is by far the best of the lot. It includes the precious voice of Carla Torgeson of The Walkabouts, that comes across the middle of this gloomy album like the sunshine through the clouds. It’s my favourite duet ever and it’s in my Top 100 Songs.
Well, today has been a shitty day. Even the last week has been really awful. In fact the last year has not been your best year. You’re with a hell of a mood today. So sit down on your favourite sofa. At night. On your own. Don’t bring any friend or any girl (or boy). Pour your favourite long drink. Turn the lights down. Put the second Tindersticks album on the CD player. And then just listen.