Thursday, December 17, 2009

Most fun, most played, most reliable

I've got a brand new game 2 play & U can all join in....
I write about a lotta off-the-wall music here, but when I'm hangin out w/ friends & want a good soundtrack, or when I just wanna hear Something Good, that odd stuff isn't always what I pull off the shelf 1st. Sometimes it IS, but the stuff I've played most & Njoyed most over the yrs isn't necessarily that strange. Some of it's even -- *GASP!* -- pretty popular.
So here's what we'll do: I'll run down the Top 40 or so of my most-played, most-relied-upon albums ever, & after U've finished laffing, tell me what some of yr all-time faves R 4 just relaxing & listening-2.
& don't B Mbarrassed. I'M not gonna B. If U really DO need 2 play Abba or the Carpenters or the Partridge Family 1nce a wk just 2 hold on2 yr sanity, IT'S OK! REALLY! I'm OK w/ it. & every1 else will Understand 2. (Won't U, every1?)
& Bsides, Confession is Good 4 The Soul. So don't B afraid 2 let it all out. Onward!
* Go-Go's: TALK SHOW (1984) -- Almost perfect. Even the weaker stuff ("Turn to You," "Yes or No," "Beneath the Blue Sky") is pretty great. & the Good Stuff is incredible. They were never better than on the shoulda-bn-bigger-hit "Head Over Heels," the great guitar-heavy "You Thought," "Forget That Day," "Capture the Light" & "I'm With You." Played this over&over on drives all around San Antonio, & on a LONG road trip thru the West, & it still sounds great.
* Bangles: DIFFERENT LIGHT (1985) -- Also road-tested over many miles. There R some weak spots here, but the hits & great album trax like "Let it Go," "September Gurls," "Angels Don't Fall in Love," "Following," "Not Like You" & "Return Post" make this 1 of the greatest pop albums ever. & those gorgeous harmonies....
* Boston: (1st) (1976) -- Almost perfect. I even like "Smokin'" & "Let Me Take You Home Tonight." "Hitch a Ride" is gorgeous & haunting. "More Than a Feeling" could go on 4 another 10 mins & I wouldn't care. But my absolute fave is "Peace of Mind."
* Moody Blues: THE PRESENT (1983) -- Their best & most consistent album ever. Aging, mellowing, but almost every track works & they don't Mbarrass themselves NEwhere. "Blue World" is a 4got10 classic. & "Sorry" isn't a bad farewell....
* Beach Boys: PET SOUNDS (1966) -- What can I say? Played more times than I can remember, Dspite the weak spots (never liked "Wouldn't it be Nice" much, or "That's Not Me") -- but this is the perfect soundtrack 4 sensitive highschool romances, & the high points R off the scale: "God Only Knows," "Here Today," "I Just Wasn't Made for These Times," "I Know There's an Answer," even the instrumentals, especially the gorgeous "Let's Go Away for Awhile" & the CD bonus-track "Trombone Dixie."
* Caravan: FOR GIRLS WHO GROW PLUMP IN THE NIGHT (1973) -- I useta screech along w/ this as I drove down the freeway 2&from the record store in the big, rumbly '72 Chevy Nova w/ the big back tires, the 8-track tape player(!), & the transmission that fell out after 2 mo's. There R some dead spots, but they don't Dtract from the thrilling "Memory Lain/Hugh/Headloss," the gorgeous "Surprise, Surprise" & "The Dog, the Dog, He's at it Again," the runaway-train momentum of "Be All Right" & the beautiful "A Hunting We Shall Go" medley.
* Providence: EVER SENSE THE DAWN (1972) -- Best Moody Blues-style album ever. Great group vocals & harmonies, strong songwriting. "If We Were Wise," "Fantasy Fugue" & "Neptune's Door" all shoulda bn radio classics....
* Yes: YESSONGS (1973) -- So good U can almost throw-away 1 of the 3 discs & not even miss it. "Close to the Edge" is so cosmic, "Starship Trooper" so stunning, "And You and I" so pretty -- & "Siberian Khatru"'s got some great chaotic sounds in it. & the movie's GREAT!
* Nick Drake: BRYTER LAYTER (1970) -- I don't play this much, cos it can Dpress me, but damn it's great. "Northern Sky," "Hazey Jane II," "At the Chime of a City Clock," "Fly," even the flute-based instrumental "Sunday" R all gorgeous & haunting. & I haven't even mentioned 1/2 the titles.... Save it 4 a rainy day....
* Beatles: ABBEY ROAD (1969) -- Especially 4 the 2nd side -- so pretty & moving & so crystal-clear. But I love all of it, even "Octopus's Garden," even "I Want You (She's So Heavy)" -- yeezus, I can even stand the goofy "Maxwell's Silver Hammer." & isn't it great how McCartney shreds his voice on "Oh, Darling!"?
* Who: WHO'S NEXT (1971) -- Classic. The dynamics R amazing, as great in its pure sound as ABBEY ROAD. & did Pete ever write better songs than "Behind Blue Eyes," "Baba O'Riley" & "Won't Get Fooled Again"? (Xcept 4 "I Can See for Miles," I mean....) "Song is Over" is gorgeous & moving, "Bargain"'s pretty ferocious, & "My Wife" & "Going Mobile" R a lotta fun. Wish I could trade "Love Ain't for Keeping" for "Join Together" or "The Relay," tho....
* Gryphon: RED QUEEN TO GRYPHON THREE (1974) & TREASON (1977) -- RED QUEEN is the best all-instrumental rock album ever. "Lament" is a gorgeous life-affirming masterpiece, & the other 3 trax R pretty great 2. TREASON is a kinder, gentler Jethro Tull album. "Spring Song" shoulda made these guys world-famous among art-rock fans.
* Pretenders: (1st) (1980) -- The album that got me thru 1980 alive. Xcept 4 "Brass in Pocket," I love all of it, from the breathy, bittersweet "Kid" & "Stop Your Sobbing" 2 the heavy-guitar melodrama at the Nd of "Lovers of Today" & the sorta abrupt but brilliant "Mystery Achievement." I even love "Space Invaders" -- sorta a "Peter Gunn Theme" 4 the Computer Age....
* Fleetwood Mac: TUSK (1979) -- I can't take RUMOURS all the way thru. & there R parts of this I skip. But the hazy, foggy, edgy production has its own fascination, & I still love the harmonies. & there R some real lost classics here: "I Know I'm Not Wrong," "Sisters of the Moon," "Brown Eyes," "Never Make Me Cry," "Angel," "Beautiful Child," "Never Forget," "That's All for Everyone"....
* Kansas: LEFTOVERTURE (1976) -- Love almost all of this, Xcept 4 mayB "Opus Insert," which is OK as a kinda lite-hearted break, & parts of "Magnum Opus" don't work that well 4 me. But the rest? "Miracles Out of Nowhere" is magnificent. "Questions of My Childhood" shoulda bn a hit. "Cheyenne Anthem" is so cinematic U can C the video in yr head. "What's On My Mind" & "The Wall" R no slouches either. How come these guys couldn't keep going like this?
* Journey: INFINITY (1978) -- A couple dead spots, but the 2nd side is almost perfect (Xcept mayB 4 "La Do Da"), the 1st side has its uses, & the Good Stuff is so freakin great they never topped it. "Feeling That Way/Anytime" is marvelous, "Lights" is relaxed but moving, "Something to Hide" has some nice drama, even "Can Do" works pretty well. Lotsa Xcellent group vocals. I always wished Gregg Rolie woulda sang more....
* Renaissance: LIVE AT CARNEGIE HALL (1976) -- Another live album where U can almost throw 1/2 of it away & not miss it. But these per4mances R SO much more ALIVE than the studio versions of the same songs.... "Ashes Are Burning" is GORGEOUS -- 4 its 1st 3 mins. Almost all the other shorter songs R great, especially "Can You Understand?" & "Running Hard," which both use the backing orchestra 4 color & sweep. Nice vocals, & the band doesn't get buried by the orchestra. Guess I was just a sucker 4 these folks....
* Wings: VENUS AND MARS (1975) -- My fave McCartney album ever; the songs R so melodically strong, even when they get silly: "Medicine Jar," "Rock Show," "Magneto and Titanium Man," "Spirits of Ancient Egypt," "Letting Go," "Call Me Back Again," the 2 versions of the title theme. I even like "Treat Her Gently/Lonely Old People," "You Gave Me the Answer" -- jeez, I even like the "Crossroads Theme." "Listen to What the Man Said" sure got played 2 death tho....
* Queen: A NIGHT AT THE OPERA (1976) -- Some dead spots, but the Good Stuff is REALLY GREAT: "'39," "Death on Two Legs," "The Prophet's Song," "You're My Best Friend," "I'm in Love With My Car," & a little something called "Bohemian Rhapsody" that'll probly NEVER B a hit.... Does NE1 like "Sweet Lady"? & how bout "Lazing on a Sunday Afternoon" & "Good Company"? Don't spose this band was a little schizoid, do ya?
* Beatles: WHITE ALBUM (1968) -- Thank Ghod 4 weirdness. I useta play this over&over during highschool, when I hid in my room w/ the headphones clamped over my ears 24/7. Not every track's great, but how bout "Dear Prudence," "Everybody's Got Something to Hide Except for Me and My Monkey," "I'm So Tired," "Yer Blues," "I Will," "Birthday," "Cry Baby Cry," "Helter Skelter," & that GREAT Beach Boys hit "Back in the USSR"?
* Moody Blues: A QUESTION OF BALANCE (1970) -- Don't spose U'll let me claim all of the Moodies' 1st 7 albums as 1 item, so I'll go w/ this, which I think is the most consistent of their 1st 7. The peaks R stunning: "Question," the shoulda-bn-hit "It's Up to You," "Minstrel's Song," "Dawning is the Day," "Melancholy Man." & "Don't You Feel Small?" is pretty great 2. But I useta play all the 1st 7 Moodies albums over&over thru highschool -- those albums & Yes's YESSONGS were the 1st "strange music" I listened-2 in NE depth....
* Illusion: OUT OF THE MIST (1977) -- Best Renaissance-style studio album ever. Every track works. Jane Relf's vocals R great, John Knightsbridge's gtr always gets some solo space, & John Hawken's keybs continue the firey work he did 4 the Strawbs. "Everywhere You Go," "Candles are Burning" & "Roads to Freedom" shoulda bn art-rock classics.
* Dan Fogelberg: THE INNOCENT AGE (1981) -- Also road-tested. Pretty heavy on the melodrama -- which I'm a sucker 4. Not all great, & it Dgenerates in2 movie-soundtrack-music by the Nd of the 4th side, but there's some great stuff here, from the gorgeous "Nexus" thru the great fake-drama of "Times Like These." I even like "Hard to Say," & "Same Old Lang Syne," of course. But B4 U laff, U otta hear the title track, "The Reach," "In the Passage," "Stolen Moments," "The Lion's Share"....
* Group 87: (1st) (1980) -- Gorgeous, life-affirming art-rock. "One Night Away From Day" is perfect. "Future of the City" has a great, anthemic Nding. "The Bedouin" is gorgeous & hypnotic. Even some of the more mechanical-sounding stuff does its magic.
* Sky: SKY2 (1980) -- British all-instrumental art-rock band. Speaking of mechanical.... Also incandescent, in places. Like on "Watching the Aeroplanes," "Scipio," "Vivaldi," "Toccata," "Fifo," "Adagio," "Scherzo" & "Hotta" (Xcept 4 the WORST drum solo of all time)....
* Dire Straits: MAKIN MOVIES (1981) & LOVE OVER GOLD (1983) -- LOVE OVER GOLD helped get me thru journalism school in 1 piece, especially the brilliant epic "Telegraph Road" & the beautiful title track. MAKIN MOVIES is overall their best album, w/ great cinematic songs, nice use of keyboards, plenty of room 4 Mark Knopfler's gtr, & lotsa MK's cosmic-love lyrics -- like on "Romeo and Juliet," the gorgeous "Hand in Hand," "Tunnel of Love," "Expresso Love"....
* The Jam: SETTING SONS (1979) -- Angry & bitter new-wave concept album, not lite listening but mostly brilliant, especially "Private Hell," "Little Boy Soldiers," "Thick as Thieves," "Strange Town," "Wasteland," "Smithers-Jones," "Burning Sky," "Saturday's Kids," "Eton Rifles" ... & the worst cover-version of "Heat Wave" U'll never wanna hear again....
* Elton John: GOODBYE YELLOW BRICK ROAD (1973) -- After the crashing "Love Lies Bleeding," who needs the resta the album? Luckily there's other great stuff here 2: "Grey Seal," "The Ballad of Danny Bailey," "All the Young Girls Love Alice," "Your Sister Can't Twist (But She Can Rock and Roll)," the brilliant & underrated "Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting," "Roy Rogers," "Harmony," "Candle in the Wind" -- & Elton's greatest song EVER: "Social Disease"! Oh, & there's a few bummers here 2: "Benny and the Jets," "Jamaica Jerk Off"....
* Modern English: AFTER THE SNOW (1983) -- The other album that got me thru journalism school alive. 2nd side's perfect, especially the shoulda-bn-bigger-hit "I Melt With You," the gorgeous & dramatic "Carry Me Down," & the driving momentum of "Tables Turning." After "Someone's Calling," the 1st side kinda drifts down in2 this arty quiet, but it's still intresting....
* Boston: THIRD STAGE (1986) -- More like a concerto or a symphony than a rock album, it all flows 2gether, w/ themes repeated from 1 song 2 another. Still some great stuff if yr a fan, & I'm a sucker 4 the low-key "We're Ready," "My Destination," "Can'tcha Say/Still in Love," & of course "Hollyann."
* Camel: THE SNOW GOOSE (1975) & NUDE (1981) -- Gorgeous mostly instrumental art-rock albums I've played more times than I can count. SNOW GOOSE is probly Camel's classic album: lotsa great keyboard, gtr, flute & wordless vocals. The 1st 6 mins is amazing, & "Flight of the Snow Goose" is pretty great 2. NUDE features more vocals & a Dtailed story, & gorgeous songs like "City Life" & "Drafted" shoulda made them world-famous.
* Cyndi Lauper: SHE'S SO UNUSUAL (1983) -- Almost perfect, from Tom Gray's bitter & brilliant "Money Changes Everything" thru Prince's moving "When You Were Mine," "Time After Time," the driving & hilarious "She Bop" (best whistled middle-break in pop history), the dreamy "All Through the Night" -- I even like the silliness it Dgenerates 2 by the Nd ("I Kiss You," "He's So Unusual," "Yeh Yeh"). The way Cyndi sings "When You Were Mine" is stunning -- making it clear 1nce & 4 all that the things that hurt the most R the hardest things 2 Xpress.
* Happy the Man: CRAFTY HANDS (1978) -- Gorgeous, flowing, melodic mostly-instrumental art-rock. Keybs, sax, flute, gtrs unite 4 a Genesis-like instrumental weave that's as clear & refreshing as a mtn stream. 1 kinda nasal vocal, on the rather mechanical "Wind-Up Doll Day Wind" -- but 1nce this sucker gets wound-up it's amazing. The dramatic, show-offy "Service With a Smile" leads off, passages of pure sonic beauty follow ("Open Book," "Morning Sun," "Steaming Pipes," "Ibby it Is"). Keybsman Kit Watkins later joined Camel. These guys have at least 2 other albums I'd like 2 find....
* Split Enz: WAIATA (1981) -- Marvelous silly goofy new-wave pop, & it never lets up. From the ear-opening side-openers ("Hard Act to Follow," "History Never Repeats" -- why weren't these hits?) thru the great support trax ("Wail," "Clumsy," "Iris"), it's all an amazing display of Xuberance & NRG. & tho it gets spacey in the 2nd 1/2 -- w/ appropriately spacey titles ("Ghost Girl," "Walking Through the Ruins") -- the intrest-level stays high. I even love the gorgeous closing instrumental, "Albert of India"....
* Glass Moon: (1st) (1980) -- Great Genesis-soundalike from Fla., they drama-up Peter Gabriel's "Solsbury Hill" in2 a shoulda-bn hit. The melodramatic "Sundays and Mondays" (w/ a killer thunderstorm-like gtr solo by Jamie Glaser) is the lost classic, but both sides R strong -- "Blue Windows," the silly "Killer at 25," & "I Like the Way You Play" all coulda made it 2 radio....
* King Crimson: THE YOUNG PERSON'S GUIDE TO... (1975) -- U knew they were gonna B in here somewhere, right? Some of the best moments from their 1st 6 yrs R here, but sevral Rn't ("The Great Deceiver," "Fracture," "21st Century Schizoid Man"). 1/2 of COURT OF THE CRIMSON KING is included, + a whole side from RED, practicly everything U'd ever need ("Red" & "Starless"). + great bits & pieces like the hilarious "Cat Food" & the previously unreleased demo of "I Talk to the Wind" (WAY better than the original). Yr friends'd havta B pretty strange 2 like summa this -- my highschool buddy Jeff Mann called most of it "mindfuck music." Wonder if Bob Fripp woulda approved? Still the best $13 I ever spent on an import album (back in 1978).
* Justin Hayward & John Lodge: BLUE JAYS (1975) -- Recorded during the Moodies' "vacation" in the mid-'70s, this is mayB a little heavy on the orchestra in places, but w/ great songs like the cosmic "When You Wake Up," "This Morning," "Saved By the Music," "Remember Me, My Friend," "Who Are You Now?" & a coupla others, U won't care. Most of these woulda improved NE other Moodies album....
* Al Stewart: MODERN TIMES (1975) -- His most consistent album. 1st 1/2's kinda lite, but it's still Quality Al. But the 2nd 1/2's marvelous -- great rollin silliness ("Apple Cider Reconstitution"), marvelous melodrama ("The Dark and Rolling Sea"), & superb lyrics w/ great gtr (title track). YEAR OF THE CAT, TIME PASSAGES & 24 CARROTS R no slouches either, but this is the 1 I play most often.
I've added 1/2adozen new items in the last coupla days, so I'm gonna stop now.
...& now 4 YOUR all-time faves...?

4 comments:

rastronomicals said...

Tad

"Turn to You" is the only thing I've heard from that Gogos album, but I always liked the song just fine, and wouldn't characterize it as "weak."

I'm a big Venus And Mars guy, as well. Melanie's still got a case with one of the stickers pasted on. There was a poster, too, right? I remember being mystified that "Listen to What the Man Said" wasn't on Wings Greatest, when it came out. They could have made room, too: 96X sure wasn't playing "Mull of Kintyre," I can tell you that.

What I remember about the "Close to the Edge" movie is how I tried talking my dad into dropping me off at the Midnight Movies so I could see it, and how he insisted on going in and watching it with me. Here I'm trying to be clandestine about my teenage dopesmoking, and not only are kids sparking up in the theatre, but during the title track, the film goes to this amoeba sequence that is so totally pandering to the potheads . . . . ah well, I can laugh about it now.

I continue to be impressed by the depth of your musical knowledge. If I tend to be smug 'cause I'm familiar with, say, a Caravan album, you're familiar with their entire catalog . . . .

tad said...

R: Ghod bless ya, especially 4 yr last comment, which pretty much made my day. U don't wanna get me started again on all the stuff I DON'T know about. There's always more 2 hear & learn....
On the Go-Go's, I think I was referring 2 "Turn to You" as weak in the context of the album, another classic case of radio playing stuff nowhere near as good as what's on the rest of the disc, but I also thot "Turn to You" wore out kinda quick -- cute video, tho. Always liked the girls a lot, saw 'em in San Antonio on that tour, they were GREAT!
There WAS a poster w/ VENUS AND MARS, sorta a blurry shot of Paul, Linda & the resta the band drinkin & carousin in New Orleans -- + another poster w/ a series of shots of the band foolin around in front of a barn or something. I thot there was a poster showing a close-up of the album's front cover 2, but there isn't in mine. There is a small round sticker that duplicates the front cover. U can have my posters if U want....
I woulda traded the grooves occupied by "Listen to What the Man Said" 4 "Junior's Farm" (recorded during the same sessions) when I bot the album -- but I think "Listen" sounds better now, 35 yrs later, & it sure reminds me of '75. Course a lotta old stuff sounds a lot better now, even disco -- mayB just Bcos it was so long ago & it ain't all around us NEmore? -- TAD.

Pugs Malone said...

I can't help but wonder if The Snow Goose would've been better or worse if they'd successfully gotten the rights to read portions of the novella over certain tracks like they'd originally planned.

tad said...

Pugs! How R ya, man?
From what I've read, Paul Gallico (who wrote the "Snow Goose" novella that the album was supposedly inspired by, & who later wrote THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE) thot Camel had something 2 do w/ the cigarette brand & that's why he threatened 2 sue them (not 4 copyright infringement?) -- that's why later versions of the album have "Music inspired by..." on the cover.
Camel planning 2 read portions of the novella backed by the music is a 1st 4 me -- course I hadn't heard the story that the Moody Blues originally agreed 2 record a rock version of Dvorak's NEW WORLD SYMPHONY when they went in2 the studio 2 tape what Bcame DAYS OF FUTURE PASSED -- didn't hear that story til their TIME TRAVELLER best-of box set came out....
Personally, I don't think SNOW GOOSE needs much help as is -- the moods it evokes work just beautifully. Same w/ NUDE, another great under-heard album.... -- TAD.