Ozzy Osbourne – No Rest For the Wicked
This is his first one with Zakk Wylde, his best guitarist since Randy Rhoads. It's not a great album overall, but it opens with "Miracle Man", one of my favourite Ozzy songs. Also one of my favourite public feud dis-tracks, a nyah-nyah at long-time Ozzy naysayer Jimmy Swaggart after the preacher-man got busted with a prostitute. Sick talk-box work by Wylde here.
The Flaming Lips – Embryonic
The Third Eye Foundation – You Guys Kill Me
I'm not sure if I should really be filing this guy's stuff with Flying Saucer Attack, because I'm not sure he was really a full-fledged member. They were always pretty vague about their membership.
The cover, by the way, is hysterical. It's a medieval-looking portrait of Jesus. Read the album title again. Get it?
The Grateful Dead – Anthem Of the Sun
I listened to this one repeatedly last week, and it's awesome. Maybe my favourite thing the Dead ever did, and I've listened to a lot of those hallowed boots. This one has a reputation as being one of the ones Deadheads don't really like, because it's early, dark psychedelia, before the band became good-timey hippie jam rock. Maybe that's why I love it.
Robert Pollard – Not In My Airforce
This album holds up so well, and almost justifies Pollard's arrogant belief that he and he alone was the Voices, and everyone else in the band was just along for his ride. I'd rank this right alongside the big three.
On the other hand... I'm still really looking forward to the classic lineup reunion tour, because the drop-off in quality of GBV albums after he fired them all is palpable.
Howard Jones – Human's Lib
The wife's copy; I had it on cassette. One of the first tapes I owned. I can remember him "performing" "Pearl In the Shell" on Top Of the Pops when he played the lone snare drum at the beginning.
I think Jones is underrated and unjustly lumped in with other one-hit synth-Brits from his era. Talented songwriter, played all the instruments on his records, had at least a half-dozen hits over two albums, definitely more than just one. In fact, I think if you were to argue that he's just a one hit wonder, you'd have a hard time nailing down which one is supposed to be his one hit.
Janelle Monáe – The Archandroid: Suites II & III
This one's worth buying for the liner notes alone, which explain that Monáe is a time-traveler who escaped from a future mental hospital. No kidding. OK, the music's awesome too.
Pink Floyd – The Final Cut
Both Kurt Loder and Chris Ott think this might be the band's best album. Might be the only thing they agree on. Definitely the most overlooked of their prime.
Radiohead – Kid A
Definitely their Zooropa. That's a complement.
The Residents Present the Third Reich 'n Roll, Fingerprince
I think it means something that the Residents, Negativland and Kid 606 all come from San Francisco, I just can't figure out what. Third Reich is definitely the spiritual precursor to all things Girl Talk/2 Many DJs, and I mean that in both a good and bad way. If you love mash-up culture, you'll love it, or at least be morbidly fascinated by it. If you hate that shit, you'll probably hate Third Reich. Nothing wrong with that. It's not for everyone. I love that shit, and I think this album is genius. If you asked me to rank my favourite albums of the 1970s, this one probably makes the top ten these days.
Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band – Live Bullet
This is probably Seger's biggest selling album, and it contains none of his hits. Oddly enough, this one was the big breakout that made him a star, after which he recorded classics like Night Moves and Stranger In This Town. That's how you did it in the 70s: made your reputation as a live act, then built on that with record sales. In a way, this album is akin to Frampton Comes Alive, except that it's awesome. Have you listened to Comes Alive lately? Doesn't really hold up. Live Bullet does.
Smog – Red Apple Falls
I was never a huge Smog fan, but I have like three or four of his albums. This one's nice and quiet, good for putting the girls to bed. I don't think they'd be so into the earlier ones, but those are the ones I really like. Can you read a bedtime story to your kids while listening to "Prince Alone In the Studio" or "Your Wedding"?
Sparks – Big Beat
As much as I love this band, I can't hum you a single song off this album, and I just listened to it last week. It's not bad, just kind of forgettable. Maybe that's worse than being bad.
Bruce Springsteen – Darkness On the Edge Of Town
So the big retrospective box set commemorating the release of this album is set to come out this month or something. Just in time for the holidays, I guess. I always thought of this as lesser Bruce, maybe his first not-so-great album, but popular opinion seems to face very much in the opposite direction.
The basic story is that Bruce hooked up with Jon Landau (Mr. "I have seen the future of rock..." himself) and decided to break with his old manager. Legal shenanigans ensued and Bruce didn't release a new album for three years. When he re-emerged, Darkness was the new Bruce: shorter songs, more fully realised working class hero persona.
I used to leave the inner sleeves on my records turned up, so they had to be slid out in order to access the record. At one point, I came around to the idea of inserting them sideways, so the record can be slid out without the sleeve coming out. If a record on the Shelf has the sleeve turned up, it means I haven't listened to it in a long time. Darkness is one such record. I think I bought it, listened to it a couple times and dismissed it. So obviously it's due at the very least for a reappraisal.
It's definitely better than I remember, a strong record, but I still can't help but think of it as a negative turning point, the album where Bruce became "BROOOCE!", a parody of himself. The songwriting just seems so less ambitious that that on E Street Shuffle.
And so after several listens this week, I still reach the conclusion that it doesn't touch the first three. I understand he wrote something like seventy songs in order to whittle it down to these ten, and the box set will have demos of all those other songs. Yes, I'm intrigued, but if dreck like "Candy's Room" and "Factory" made the final cut, are the outtakes really gonna be that good?
Of course I'm gonna find out. It's Bruce. I'm a sucker.
Stevie Wonder – Songs In the Key Of Life
My copy is really worn out and I'm super bummed about that. It still has a $10 price tag on it, and when am I gonna find another copy that cheap with the booklet and the seven-inch?
Neil Young – Young Man's Fancy
Bootleg of a solo live show frok 1971. Utterly amazing. This record's so good I can't even write about it. This post is going up late because it took me forever to tackle that Springsteen record, but this one I'm not even gonna try. Neil was fucking untouchable in this era.
Zola Jesus – Valusia EP
What the fuck are you waiting for? Yes, it's that good!