This week I read a few articles on the NPR website (npr.org). National Public Radio out of the USA is a pretty good source for music news and also for getting exposure to a wide range of artists. They stream and podcast a lot of stuff as well which is cool. When you add a pretty good Twitter feed to that then it’s a bit of a one stop shop for music.
Recently they posted a list of “most loved” albums (http://www.npr.org/blogs/allsongs/2013/07/09/200471775/results-the-albums-everyone-can-love). I shared this list with a range of friends who I know have good musical taste but also different opinions. Reactions ranged from “I don’t like lists” and “proof that most over-rated band of all times is… The Beatles”, to discussions about what albums we’d choose. “Most loved” is different to “best”. I think that “Powerage” is the best AC/DC album ever because it has great songs, riffs and attitude but I’m sure that “Back In Black” would the most loved one if you polled a reasonable sample of people.
AC/DC – Cold Hearted Man (1978) - http://youtu.be/16wgfp9ZPWA
As H pointed out, lists can start conversations and that’s what I like about them. NPR’s list has Miles Davis’ “Kind of Blue” at number 4. My good mate Glen was a big fan of this. When he died I got myself a copy to play to remind me of him. I don’t like it much but I did discover “Sketches of Spain” as a result.
Miles Davis – Concierto De Aranjuez (Adagio) (1960) - http://youtu.be/0kSmLTmS1xI
Another friend and I decided that there was a big hole in the list that needed to be filled by the Rolling Stones. But then we agreed that they really never made a great album. “Exile” and “Sticky Fingers” probably come close but there are duds on each. Here’s one from “Sticky Fingers” which was released in April 1971…just like me!
The Rolling Stones – Bitch (1971) - http://youtu.be/tVp7YSf4lbU
I’m assuming that greatest hits albums were excluded from the most loved list because it’s unusual to go to someone’s house and not see a copy of ABBA’s Greatest Hits Volume 2 (the one with the silver cover) there. It’s the omnipresent LP. I wonder if there’s a volume 1? Here’s my favourite ABBA track perhaps with the exception of “Waterloo”. This one really rocks.
ABBA – Does Your Mother Know (1979) - http://youtu.be/WkL7Fkigfn8
DJ NotSoFatRollins asked me what my 5 most loved albums were. He thought it was a fair challenge that would have me in agony. He was wrong. I bashed out this list in about 2 minutes and I still stand by it a couple of days later. These are all records that work as a cohesive collection of songs in my opinion and that’s what an album should be about.
- The Wall – Pink Floyd
- If You Want Blood (You’ve Got It) – AC/DC
- Weight – Rollins Band
- Mama Said – Lenny Kravitz
- Comes A Time – Neil Young
Lenny Kravitz – Always On The Run (1991) - http://youtu.be/em8JuUW-OOE
I’d swap AC/DC’s “Powerage” in at number 2 if live albums weren't allowed.
Angus has been on work experience this week at RMC Duntroon. That’s where the Australian Army trains all of its officers. To be fair to Defence Recruiting, they’ve put together a fantastic array of activities for the 35 or so kids that attended. They’ve handled weapons, been on obstacle courses, had tons of lectures and done more PT than is probably recommended! Who knows what this will lead to as Angus is only 15 but I will admit that I’ve found it difficult to deal with at times. My time in the Army was OK in the end but, in retrospect, it really wasn’t the best career choice I could have made.
The Clash – Career Opportunities (1977) - http://youtu.be/MsE5NAAU39k
There’s a copy of John Lennon’s “Double Fantasy” LP in my office at the moment. It’s a bit hard to get it home on the bicycle so it might sit here for a while. What’s interesting is the fact that it’s been a bit of a conversation starter. Yesterday a colleague looked at it, told me he’d never heard any of the songs but assumed they were all about love. Since the cover has a picture of John and Yoko kissing I suppose that’s a fair assumption. It’s a good album, well, the Lennon songs are, and lyrically I really like it. It’s his last one before he was murdered and it was released only three weeks prior.
John Lennon – Watching The Wheels (1981) - http://youtu.be/Da69-pu_pqc
So, at the end of NPR’s blog post that we started with is a list of the top 10 least loved albums. Interesting. I agree that we can do without Lil’ Wayne, Beyoncé, Usher and probably most of Whitney Houston’s recorded output. There are, however, a couple of entries that I certainly do not agree with. Let’s examine a couple.
Janet Jackson’s “Rhythm Nation 1814” is in there. Interestingly it’s apparently a concept album about social justice issues. There were 8 singles released from it with 7 of them ending up inside the US top 5. Regardless of what you think about music charts that’s not a bad effort. I’ll admit that it’s a long time since I listened to the album all the way through but I know I didn’t hate it. It had one of the best rock singles of 1990 on it along with a killer video clip…
Janet Jackson – Black Cat (1990) - http://youtu.be/qH-rPt1ftSo
The other album in the least loved list is Bon Jovi’s “Slippery When Wet”. Wow. I remember when this hit the airwaves in 1986. It was a cassette I played non-stop. Although there are a couple of slower tracks on the LP it really is 42 minutes of solid gold rock and roll. Bon Jovi’s biggest hits are all here; “You Give Love A Bad Name”, “Livin’ On A Prayer” and “Wanted Dead or Alive”. It’s an album that is all killer and no filler.
Bon Jovi – Wild In The Streets (1986) - http://youtu.be/M2Zg_os4T8s
Right at the bottom of NPR’s blog post is a list of the 10 least heard albums that apparently everyone should listen to. Here’s Isaac Hayes from “Hot Buttered Soul”…
Isaac Hayes – By The Time I Get To Phoenix (1969) - http://youtu.be/9ETCRpt5pis
Today I was lucky enough to play the guitar behind a group of really good singers here at work. Playing to almost 1000 people is a real treat and a privilege too. Thankfully I was well away from all the vocal microphones. Every time I’m asked to perform and it might involve singing I think of this track.
Billy Bragg and Wilco – Way Over Yonder In The Minor Key (1998) - http://youtu.be/vwcQAlRn0Gs
You’ll note that I haven’t commented on Australia’s 44th Federal Parliament which has just commenced. I think I’ll keep it that way to preserve my sanity.
Cold Chisel – Goodbye (Astrid Goodbye)(1980) - http://youtu.be/zczwuY4XrlM
Have a good weekend.