1. Swan Lake – Pleasure Vessels (Beast Moans, 2006) swanlake-beastmoans

Debut album from so-called Canadian supergroup (Mercer, Bejar and Krug). Krug provided the album title by describing its sound as ‘a boar dying in a tar pit’, which is also a way of saying that it’s not quite as good as the music they produced earlier with their respective bands. They released a second album in 2009, but their debut didn’t convince me to obtain that one.

2. The Beatles – Dr. Robert (Revolver, 1966)  thebeatles-revolver

Many words were written about the true identity of Doctor Robert, who according to Sir Paul ‘kept New York high’. Apparently, it was not at all John Lennon, Robert MacPhail or Bob Dylan, but dr. Robert Freymann, the New York doc who provided the wealthy ‘Upper East Siders’ with vitamin shots including amphetamins.

3. Pearl Jam – Love Boat Captain (Riot Act, 2002)  pearljam-riotact

From the seventh Pearl Jam, that was released after a one year sabbatical (following the death of 9 fans at the Roskilde festival). Keyboards player Kenneth Gaspar made his entrance on this album, and most notably on this track. Adding a keyboards player was part of Pearl Jam being open to new things, which apparently also included having an opinion about things, instead of concentrating on the writing of exceedingly strong songs.

4. Paul Simon – Homeless (Graceland, 1986)  graceland1986

One of those numerous gems on this absolute classic. The track is sung by Simon together with Ladysmith Black Mambazo, whose singer Joseph Shabalala co-wrote the song with Simon. Mister Shabalala came up with the music, which he lent from a traditional Zulu wedding tune, and the Zulu lyrics, while Mister Simon delivered the English lyrics.

5. The Decemberists – Cocoon (Castaways and Cutouts, 2002) decemberists-castawaysandcutouts

Another one from 2002, this debut album from Portland’s finest band, entirely written by singer Colin Meloy. It was a pleasant first acquaintance with the band for me, and meanwhile I’ve become fan of later work, for example Picaresque that was released three years later. Besides Meloy’s affairs with the band, he also proceeds with a solo career by covering songs from his musical heroes like Morrissey and Sam Cooke.

6. Fistful of Mercy – In Vain or True (As I Call You Down, 2010)  fistfulofmercy-asicallyoudown

More music from the 21st century, this opening song from Fistful of Mercy’s only album. Another example of a so-called super group, consisting of Joseph Arthur, Dhani Harrison, Ben Harper and… Jim Keltner on drums! Keltner earlier played on solo-albums from John Lennon, Ringo Starr as well as Harrison’s father, and would even provide the drums on both Traveling Wilburys albums as Buster Sidebury. This is the most noteworthy fact about this album, that above all contains lots of embarrassing failures.

7. Animal Collective – No More Running (Merriweather Post Pavillion, 2009) animalcollective-merriweatherpostpavillion

From the same era, with a gem from one its greatest pop albums, created after the temporary departure of guitarist Deakin. Not that he’s a bad guitar player, but it obliged the group to renew their sound once more. An average band would perhaps replace the man, but inspired by Panda Bear’s genius’ Person Pitch, Animal Collective chose to replace the instrument.

8. Phish – Golgi Apparatus (Junta, 1989) phish-junta

Debut album from this obstinate band, on which absurdity is permanently lurking, musically as well as lyrically.

9. Bob Dylan – Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues (Live 1966: The ‘Royal Albert Hall’ Concert, 1998)  bobdylan-theroyalalberthallconcert

Great recording from one of rock’s most notorious concerts, at the Manchester Free Trade Hall during Dylan’s 1966 world tour (falsely attributed to the Royal Albert Hall). This classic from Highway 61 Revisited is to be found on side 2, with Dylan playing electrically together with The Hawks.

10. David Byrne & St. Vincent – Ice Age (Love This Giant, 2012)  davidbyrnest-vincent-lovethisgiant

Closing in style with more recent work, although there’s clearly a veteran involved this time. Love This Giant was a collaboration between former Talking Heads guru David Byrne with art rock woman St. Vincent (Oklahoma). Most hit sensitive song on the album.

1. Teenage Fanclub – The Concept (Bandwagonesque, 1991)  teenagefanclub-bandwagonesque

Opening track from Fanclub’s third album, which became one of the absolute indie-singles from that decade. The Scots succeeded to blend Elvis Costello’s melodic sound with the heavy guitars from Sonic Youth on this album, and this song in particular (with great instrumental outro) even reminds of Neil Young with Crazy Horse.

2. Mercury Rev – Boys Peel Out (Boces, 1993) mercuryrev-boces

Staying in the early nineties with Rev’s second album during the psychedelic Baker years: a little less conventional and therefore just a little more interesting at the first sight. This one also features an instrumental intro, but less straightforward and with mysticism added by some bells.

3. Smashing Pumpkins –Bullet with Butterfly Wings (Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, 1995)  smashingpumpkins-melloncollieandtheinfinitesadness

Another two year jump, to end up with the Pumpkins’ third album, the famous double one. Now this absolutely is one of the best albums the nineties brought us, freely combining deafening guitars with hit sensitive compositions without boring a single moment (remember it’s a double album, length: 121’49”). Due to internal struggles they quickly degraded to a cult band and subsequently a nostalgia act with several, mediocre line-ups, but this album will never devaluate.

4. The Beatles – Hey Jude (Love, 2006) beatles-love

Talking about outros, probably one of the most famous ones of all time. Originally a single from 1968 (B-sided by ‘Revolution’), this is the remixed version by George and Giles Martin. The best version perhaps was the one during the 2012 Olympics, not during the ceremony but together with the velodrome crowd during track cycling.

5. Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds – Sunday’s Slave (Tender Prey, 1988) nickcavebs-tenderprey

Cave was still searching for the sound he wanted after four earlier albums and I guess Tender Prey still didn’t meet his expectations, although it has some good tracks on it. The album was recorded in West-Berlin’s Hansa Tonstudio, where Bowie recorded “Heroes” earlier.

6. Ananda Shankar – Jumping Jack Flash (Ananda Shankar, 1970)  anandashankar-anandashankar

Stones classic that was revised by Indian sitar player Ananda Shankar, nephew from Ravi. Shankar was inspired by some great Western rock classics thanks to his stay on the American Westcoast during the late sixties, and it must still be a compliment for Jagger and Richards to hear Shankar’s version of their song, as the composition proves that vocals are even unnecessary.

7. Guided By Voices – Little Whirl (Alien Lanes, 1995) gbv-alienlanes

Back to the nineties, but only for a Little While of course.

 

8. Sugar – Fortune Teller (Copper Blue, 1992)  sugar-copperblue

Most hit sensitive song from this album, and therefore resembling later wrought up bands like Green Day, Foo Fighters and, yes, Nickelback. Just like all other songs on the record, it was written by singer/guitarist Bob Mould, who succeeded to release even uglier album artwork with Sugar than with his earlier band Hüsker Dü.

9. The Beatles – Getting Better (Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, 1967) beatles-sgt-pepperslonelyheartsclubband

Just like ‘We Can Work it Out’ and ‘A Day In the Life’, a great example of the symbiosis of McCartney (“It’s getting better all the time”) and Lennon (“Can’t get no worse”).

10. Queen – I Can’t Live Without You (Innuendo, 1991) queen-innuendo

Even from Queen we are offered the rather scarce 90’s material. From the final real album featuring Mercury, one that combines some top songs with several fillers and a couple of embarrassing flaws. This one belongs to the second category.

1. B.B. King – Worry, Worry (Live at the Regal, 1965) bbking-liveattheregal

Starting this little trip through rock history with young Riley Ben King, a former cotton cropper and recreational gospel singer from Mississippi who turned into the number one Blues Boy from Memphis, Tennesee. King was 39 when he went to Chicago to play the Regal Theatre, packed with a dozen hit singles about desire and sorrow and his Lucille. The recordings became one of rock’s finest live albums. Someday baby Oh…someday baby.

2. Mike Oldfield – Orabidoo (Five Miles Out, 1982) mikeoldfield-fivemilesout

One of the disappointing albums Oldfield released after his experimental breakthrough with Tubular Bells in 1973. After nine years of doubt during which he released five more albums, Oldfield finally decides to turn away from long symphonic compositions on side 2 of this album. Not yet ready for poppy excesses like ‘Moonlight Shadow’ on the next album, Oldfield and Reilly still sing their vocals trough a vocoder on this one to give it the experimental feel.

3. Kraftwerk – The Model (Minimum-Maximum, 2005) kraftwerk-minimum-maximum

Back to the live stage with this album from Kraftwerk, collecting many shows from the band’s world tour in 2004. The increased tempo gave the legendary songs an even more modern sound, as this song originally appeared on 1978’s all-time classic The Man-Machine. Back then Kraftwerk already sketched us this image of the human being that has become one with his machine, although our new hands weren’t called Iphones yet.

4. Electric Light Orchestra – Standin’ in the Rain (Out of the Blue, 1977) elo-outoftheblue

It took some time for Jeff Lynne to establish exactly the sound he had in mind when The Move fell apart, but after searching for three years during the early seventies, he was at full speed. Just when disco was getting ready to conquer the world, Lynne knew how he wanted to rediscover McCartney’s ‘Eleanor Rigby’ string sections and launched three successful symphonic albums in a row: Eldorado (1974), Face the Music (1975) and A New World Record (1976). For the following album he only needed a couple of weeks in a Swiss chalet, on which this is the opening song of side three: ‘Concerto for a Rainy Day’.

5. Neil Young – Cinnamon Girl (Live Rust, 1979) neilyoungcrazyhorse-liverust

More live music with this classic from Neil Young, from the Rust Never Sleeps tour. Young performed this tour together with Crazy Horse, and that’s why this track obviously couldn’t be lacking on the setlists. The original is of course to be found on 1969’s Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere, on which Crazy Horse established its fame as Young’s legendary backing band. This was mainly due to producer David Briggs, who just like Neil (and contrary to Jack Nitschze, producer of Young’s debut) loved the raw live sound that defines that album.

6. Björk – Pluto (Homogenic, 1997) bjork-homogenic

Penultimate track on Björk’s fourth studio album, the first intense collaboration with producer Mark Bell, who produced among others this song about the primal drift to make tabula rasa of your environment. Remarkable is the unorthodox combination of classical string sections with electronic beats, characterizing the whole album and referring to the raw (natural) as well as the computed (hi-tech) side of Iceland.

7. The Beatles – Glass Onion (The Beatles, 1968) beatles-whitealbum

Lennon song that finally gave the world a clue about McCartney being the walrus or not. Also the first track on the White Album with Starr on drums, as McCartney played the drums on both his own ‘Back in the USSR’ and Lennon’s ‘Dear Prudence’.

8. The White Stripes – As Ugly as I Seem (Get Behind Me Satan, 2005) whitestripes-getbehindmesatan

In fact the only Stripes album I did not play the life out the past year. As the folkish intro of this song already indicates, Jack White moves away a bit from collecting all the best electric riff-based songs he wrote (Elephant!) and tries out another range of instruments and rhythms.

9. Van Morrison – Cyprus Avenue (Astral Weeks, 1968) astralweeks1968

Absolute gem, from an absolute must-have album. Listening the lyrics closely already suffices to admire this epic piece of music, that acquired its definite fame thanks to numerous legendary live versions, as the traditional closer of every performance.

10. Talking Heads – Thank You for Sending Me an Angel (Stop Making Sense, 1984) talkingheads-stopmakingsense

Closing with a fourth live track, not from the original release that contained only nine (adjusted) tracks from the movie, but from the 1999-release, including all sixteen songs. The band once performed live for the first time as a support act for the Ramones, but that was about the last time that the paths of Talking Heads and punk would cross, after being noticed by Brian Eno. Just when the paths of Byrne/Eno and the Tom Tom Club also seemed to diverge, this movie from Silence of the Lambs director Jonathan Demme was released.

1. The Velvet Underground – I’m Waiting for the Man (The Velvet Underground & Nico, 1967)  thevelvetunderground-thevelvetundergroundnico

Second track on rock’s all time best album. Written of course by Reed, about his main concern around that time. Blueprint for lots of garage rock songs to follow by numerous bands, thanks to Tucker’s forceful drums and the pounding piano playing by John Cale.

2. DeVotchKa – Too Tired (How It Ends, 2004)  devotchka-howitends

Song from DeVotchKa’s fourth album. The band from Denver was named after the Russian word for ‘girl’ and acquired most of its fame with contributions to movie soundtracks like this album’s title track. I suspect the Greek bouzouki of being the stringed instrument returning throughout the entire song.

3. U.N.K.L.E – Nursery Rhyme / Breather (Psyence Fiction, 1998)  unkle-psyencefiction

A muscular guitar part opens this next song, that sounds like something from Primal Scream’s XTRMNTR at first, but surprisingly proves to be a song that was written by Badly Drawn Boy. It stands on British music project UNKLE’s debut album, dominated by DJ Shadow’s production (who left the ‘band’ after this album). Other collaborating artists on this album include Thom Yorke and Metallica’s Jason Newsted.

4. Badly Drawn Boy – Summertime in Wintertime (One Plus One Is One, 2004)  badlydrawnboy-oneisone

A little joke from the shuffle, serving another song by Briton Damon Gough. Six years later he became a moderately successful solo artist and released his fourth album. Certainly not as solid as his debut album, but containing a couple of reasonable tracks like this one. Reminds of Jethro Tull, thanks to the nervous flute intermezzos.

5. Yim Yames – My Sweet Lord (Tribute To, 2009)  yimyames-tributeto

Not the first time we meet this one.

 

6. 13th Floor Elevators – Slip Inside This House (Easter Everywhere, 1967)  13thfloorelevators-eastereverywhere

Absolute masterpiece, later covered by Primal Scream (in which mood does somebody decide to cover this song?), defined by Tommy Hall’s electric jug. Recommended for when sitting behind the wheel, without even having to drive the vehicule.

7. The Zombies – Changes (Odessey and Oracle, 1968)  thezombies-odesseyandoracle

Probably the most sunny sound from a British band ever, including some delightful Westcoast choirs and an intro that must have inspired some Fleet Foxes. Second album from the band, entirely recorded during the Summer of Love and featuring an apposite album cover.

8. Pacific Gas & Electric – Death Row #172 (Pacific Gas & Electric, 1969)  pacificgasandelectric-areyouready

Some blues gospel that didn’t save on orchestration. Strings and horns are all over the place in this track containing a certain amount of criticism on the Vietnam War.

9. Cream – Strange Brew (Disraeli Gears, 1967)  cream-disraeligears

This incredible funky guitar intro will probably never bore me. Did we have blues mixed with some gospel and symphonic orchestration on the previous track, now the blues is injected with a satisfying dose of psychedelia. The perfect album opener?

10. Super Furry Animals – The Teacher (Guerilla, 1999)  super-furry-animals-guerrilla

Third album from this Welsh rock band, released at the end of the previous century and a lost item in my collection. Somehow sounds like Elvis Costello under lots of stress. Till next time.

1. Ministry – Just One Fix (Psalm 69: The Way to Succeed and the Way to Suck Eggs, 1992) ministry-psalm69

Brutal noise from Chicago’s industrial metal band. Album full of samples featuring famous movie quotes, for example Frank Sinatra’s “I wanna fix! Gimme a fix!” on this track. For those moments when you’re absolutely in no need of melody.

2. The Great Society – White Rabbit (Conspicuous Only in Its Absence, 1968) thegreatsociety-conspicuousonlyinitsabsence

The typical San Francisco’67 beat only kicks in after an elaborate Eastern instrumental intro, with snakes being hypnotized while the tempo grows. Grace Slick with her first band, which she founded together with her husband and brother in law after being inspired by The Beatles and… Jefferson Airplane, the band she would later join to record this song with for the second time. Live album that was recorded in 1966 and released in the aftermath of Airplane’s success. Truly recommended to people who like this latter band.

3. Fleetwood Mac – Go Your Own Way (Rumours, 1977) fleetwoodmac-rumours

California ten years later, from an obscure gig to a totally polished radio hit single. Lindsey Buckingham’s song, about his troubles with Stevie Nicks.

4. The Doors – The End (The Doors, 1967) TheDoorsAlbum1967

Travelling back again with the epic end piece of The Doors’ debut album. Molded into its ultimate version (the one that ended up on the record) after intensely touring the LA circuit and performing this song each time at the end of the gig. Covered by Nirvana, Nico and Homer Simpson.

5. Tortoise – Monica (Standards, 2001) tortoise-standards

Nothing outstanding, but an album that’s worth to be played once a year. ‘Benway’ from the same album already came by, as it was one of the 10 tracks of the very first shuffle.

6. Pink Floyd – Let There Be More Light (A Saucerful of Secrets, 1968) pinkfloyd-saucerfulofsecrets

Awesome opening track, with the techno-intro being a showcase for Waters’ bass playing. Waters remained as Floyd’s  main songwriter on this album, but was still clearly inspired by Barett (and, appearantly, Sgt.Pepper’s).  New member Gilmour takes on the lead vocals during the chorus, and plays his first Floyd solo towards the end of the song. About time for a review of this album.

7. Animal Collective – Visiting Friends (Sung Tongs,2004) animalcollective-sungtongs

Strumming acoustic guitars, and Devendra Banhart like he’s experimenting with a voice scrambler for the first time. Never paid much attention to this album because of the fascination for later work, from the band as well as Panda Bear.

8. Songs:Ohia – Hot Black Silk (Axxess & Ace, 1999) songsohia-axxessace

Opening track from third album. Also one of the highlights, with Molina’s beautiful voice shining on this acoustic singer-songwriter song.

9. Madrugada – Hands Up / I Love You (The Nightly Disease, 2001) madrugada-thenightlydisease

Talking about impressive voices, what to say about about Sivert Hoyem? Norwegian alternative rock band that released some solid albums like this one and The Deep End (2005). And of course they released a live album with the legendary title Live at Trafalmadore, after the alien planet in Kurt Vonnegut’s novels.

10. Steely Dan – Peg (Aja, 1977) steelydan-aja

Closing with this magnificent jazzy track from Steely Dan’s sixth  and best-selling album. Of course not recorded in a couple of weeks, the guitar solo in this song alone was attempted by no less than eight session guitarists.

1. The White Stripes – Little Acorns (Elephant, 2003) whitestripes-elephant

Great song from White Stripes’ fantastic fourth, on which this is the traditional song with ‘little’ in its title. The famous spoken intro was contributed by American TV anchorman Mort Crim, whereupon the combo of the heavily tuned guitar and White’s threatening voice gives this track its great verses.

2. Belle and Sebastian – Dress Up in You (The Life Pursuit, 2006) belleandsebastian-thelifepursuit

Polished indie pop from Belle and Sebastian’s seventh album, loaded with sunny melodies. The Life Pursuit reminds of all the good things that sixties and seventies pop had to offer, including great vocal harmonies and well-balanced instrumentals, like the beautiful horn section in this song. Personal favorite.

3. King Crimson – Moonchild (In the Court of the Crimson King, 1969) kingcrimson-inthecourtofthecrimsonking

Longest track on this epic album, preceding the title track on side two. The track can in fact be separated into two sections. ‘The Dream’ is a ballad with a prominent role for Ian McDonald’s mellotron (and lyrics provided by English poet Peter Sinfield), while the band completely starts to improvise on ‘The Illusion’. This is in fact nothing more than an elitist patchwork, making it the most disappointing part on the album.

4. The Flaming Lips – Race for the Prize (The Soft Bulletin, 1999) theflaminglips-thesoftbulletin

From bearded men in a dark cellar to an explosion of confetti on main stage: the transition couldn’t possibly be more abrupt. Defining album for the band’s later sound and live performances.

5. Led Zeppelin – Heartbreaker (Led Zeppelin II, 1969) LedZeppelinII1969

Ultimate air guitar song, highlight on the notorious album and a crowd favorite at live concerts (including several improvisations). Interesting detail: the famous solo was recorded and added after the song was already ‘completed’, resulting in a somehow different guitar sound.

6. The Jam – The Place I Love (All Mod Cons, 1978) thejam-allmodcons

From the third album of this late seventies mod revival band, with the title referring to this as well as the abbreviation of ‘all modern conveniences’, often used in housing adverts.

7. Guns ‘n Roses – 14 Years (Use Your Illusion II, 1991) gunsnroses-useyourillusionii

Best song (great piano playing) on the only GNR album that survived my record collection throughout the years. Never realized all these years however that it’s actually rhythm guitarist Izzy Stradlin on lead vocals. Stradlin had already left the band before the UYI-albums were released, after being detoxed from alcohol and drugs.

8. Radiohead – Paranoid Android (OK Computer, 1997) okcomputer1997

Does this song need any more explanations? Maybe it’s still best described by Yorke himself, before the first time it was performed live: “If you can have sex to this one, you’re fucking weird.”.

9. Tool – Flood (Undertow, 1993) tool-undertow

Wow, the android perfectly fades into the guitar intro of this song. Subsequently the snoring bass tunes in and the drums brutally smash the song into your face. Penultimate song on this debut album, on my version at least, as most North American versions feature closing song ‘Disgustipated’ as track 69, after 58 silent 1”-tracks (you gotta love them).

10. oliviatremorcontrol-blackfoliage The Olivia Tremor Control – Paranormal Echoes (Black Foliage: Animation Music Volume One, 1999)

And one more nineties track to close with. Just like last time, the Tremor Control makes it to the shuffle just on time, but with their second album this time. Love it or hate it.

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aqualung1971 DejaVu1970 graceland1986 astralweeks1968