Continuing our lists of relics, with #30-21:
30. (24) Neil Young – Harvest (1972)
“I am not a preacher, but just real lucky.”
29. (16) Pink Floyd – Atom Heart Mother (1970)
“Switch your gears while I drop the needle: this bed is our kingdom.”
28. (25) The Beatles – Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967)
“Who doesn’t remember his first time in Pepperland?”
27. (*) XTC – Skylarking (1986)
“Summer afternoon underneath a lone tree, praising yourself the luckiest man on earth with that hot beer you brought along.”
26. (11) Brian Wilson – SMiLE (2004)
“The sun starts to tease my eyes while flowers are growing out of my ass: the album winter can’t beat.”
25. (31) The Byrds – The Notorious Byrd Brothers (1968)
“If angels had balls, they would have been called Byrds.”
24. (20) Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here (1975)
“This album is even better than our last one, will somebody finally save us please?”
23. (36) Bob Dylan – Highway 61 Revisited (1965)
“Like a proud mother among her 49 sublime children.”
22. (*) The Kinks – Face to Face (1966)
“One of my best dreams from the past year must have been the one in which I had written this album.”
21. (15) The Band – The Band (1969)
“Yes we can (tell you where your country lies). “
30. (28) Neil Young – After the Gold Rush (1970)
“The meaning of life, narrated by a 25 year old.”
29. (13) Electric Light Orchestra – Out of the Blue (1977)
“Could have been the best album ever, if only it wouldn’t have been a double album.”
28. (15) The Beatles – Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967)
“Better than Pet Sounds.”
28. (27) Beach Boys – Pet Sounds (1966)
“Better than Sgt. Pepper’s.”
26. (6) The Moody Blues – In Search of the Lost Chord (1968)
“Talent + drugs + mysticism = the definitive psychedelic experience.”
25. (23) Bob Dylan – Desire (1976)
“Cocaine fueled cowboys and indians fever dream.”
24. (*) David Bowie – The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (1972)
“When the apocalypse finally comes, you can find me in my car blasting this fitting soundtrack.”
23. (*) Love – Forever Changes (1967)
“Confrontational. Uneasy listening. Nerve wrecking. Cracked mirror for a hippie generation.”
22. (*) Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin II (1969)
“Led Zep doesn’t care for intellectual ramblings about their music. The Sex Album.”
21. (46) The Velvet Underground – The Velvet Underground & Nico (1967)
“Velvet Underground stroke its guitars and for the first time music knew the true meaning of ‘freedom’.”
30. David Bowie – The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (1972)
“Ik kende hem al van ‘little fat man’ tijdens Extras, maar hier slaat hij toch een geheel andere weg in.”
29. Led Zeppelin – Physical Graffiti (1975)
“Bepaalde nummers op deze cd halen telkens een religieus gevoel in mij naar boven.”
28. Neutral Milk Hotel – In the Aeroplane Over the Sea (1998)
“Tot ik dit voor de eerste keer hoorde, wist ik niet dat je op deze manier muziek kon maken en uitbrengen.”
27. Pink Floyd – Meddle (1971)
“Angstaanjagend begin, zomers deuntje ertussenin, zingende Liverpool – supporters en een geniale afsluiter.”
26. Neil Young – Harvest Moon (1992)
“Mijn favoriete wandelingen, zijn nachtwandelingen: strompelend of onder een volle maan, dit is in beide gevallen mijn favoriete album daarbij.”
25. Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues (2011)
“Yeah I’m tongue-tied and dizzy and I can’t keep it to myself”
24. Elliott Smith – Either/Or (1997)
“Een zachte stem, je zou hem niet horen als hij je roept, maar als hij zingt blijven zijn woorden heel lang hangen. “
23. Radiohead – Amnesiac (2001)
“De eerste keer onmiddellijk in de beste omstandigheden en op de meest geschikte plaats gehoord: in bed met zware koorts.”
22. Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy – I See a Darkness (1999)
“Toen men hem zocht om in een film een eenzaat te spelen had hij zijn darkness, onbereikbaar was hij maandenlang alleen op een roadtrip.”
21. The Beatles – Rubber Soul (1965)
“Norwegian Wood, is het boek of het nummer beter, dit is in ieder geval de beste plaat van The Beatles.”
40. (30) Radiohead – OK Computer (1997)
“Best album ever about people wanting everything and getting nowhere by doing so, by a band that’s not searching to find something but just searches because of the searching, that way going somewhere nobody else went before.”
39. (*) Sonic Youth – Daydream Nation (1988)
“Moore and Gordon bearing the nineties after a pigfuck.”
38. (43) Animal Collective – Merriweather Post Pavillion (2009)
“Favorite box of chocolates.”
37. (33) The Band – Music from Big Pink (1968)
“Ticket to Big Pink, duration: 43 minutes, free of charge. Get on that cannonball.”
36. (29) Crosby Stills Nash & Young – Déjà Vu (1970)
“When four stuck-up musicians are trying to outclass each other, great things can happen.”
35. (26) Talking Heads – Remain in Light (1980)
“The Unstoppable One.”
34. (37) 13th Floor Elevators – Easter Everywhere (1967)
“Take the elevator, leave your body behind.”
33. (22) Electric Light Orchestra – Out of the Blue (1977)
“Jeff Lynne kidnapping Brian Wilson, Lennon & McCartney and Ray Davies to party in space.”
32. (*) The Smiths – Strangeways Here We Come (1987)
“Awesome pass from Marr, and accurately finished by Morrisey: The Smiths’ winning goal.”
31. (41) Fleetwood Mac – Bare Trees (1972)
“The album you always have with you, as it can be played at any place at any time of the day.”
40. (19) Eagles – Hotel California (1976)
“Arguably the strongest collection of individual songs on this list. The sum isn’t .”
39. (*) Bob Dylan -Blonde on Blonde (1966)
“Dylan’s White Album. Where perfection meets misdirection.”
38. (*) Donald Fagen – The Nightfly (1982)
“Carefully crafted soundtrack for driving around at night. Sunglasses allowed.”
37. (25) The Beatles – Rubber Soul (1965)
“The first glimpse of godhood.”
36. (37) Cat Stevens – Tea for the Tillerman (1970)
“Cat, tell me another of your bittersweet stories about how you’ve clearly lost your way. Also, lighten the f*ck up.”
35. (35) Pixies – Doolittle (1989)
“You’ll sit down and listen while Black Francis forcefully implants his seed into you.”
34. (24) Guided By Voices – Bee Thousand (1994)
“The Black-Francis-seed in full fruition. Two minute songs are lame anyway.”
33. (32) Santana – Abraxas (1970)
“A free trip to a Caribbean island. Involuntary headbobs and hipshakes included.”
32. (22) Radiohead – OK Computer (1997)
” ‘And when you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss also gazes into you.’ “
31. (21) Jefferson Airplane – Surrealistic Pillow (1967)
“No fear of gazing too long here. Relax and let the summer of love wash over you.”
40. Beirut – Gulag Orkestar (2006)
“Het nummer Nantes is beter dan Nantes.”
39. Eddie Vedder – Into the Wild (2007)
“Het rustgevende en ingetogene van de natuur.”
38. Nick Drake – Five Leaves Left (1969)
“Bij het uitkomen enkel gesmaakt door de fijnproever, nu op het menu van iedereen die begaan is met muziek.”
37. John Cale – The Island Years (1996)
“Je blijft nog wat wegdromen terwijl de eerste cd na ‘Rollaroll’ geluidloos blijft ronddraaien en dan moet op cd 2 ‘Heartbreak Hotel’ en ‘Guts’ nog komen.”
36. Emmylou Harris – Wrecking Ball (1995)
“Er staat maar één vrouw in deze lijst, zodat ze met haar warm-omarmende- stem helemaal alleen kan schitteren tussen de doorrookte en ruwe mannenstemmen. “
35. Sigur Rós – Takk… (2005)
“Iets anders, iets dat je bij elke luisterbeurt naar een andere wereld meevoert. ”
34. Lou Reed – Coney Island Baby (1976)
“‘I’m just a gift to the women of this world’ … of hoe je met zelfvertrouwen alles kan doen, maken en zeggen wat je wilt.”
33. Talking Heads – Remain in Light (1980)
“Als je met de fiets ergens heel vlug moet zijn, deze cd op en je trappers kunnen je benen niet volgen.”
32. Paul Simon – Graceland (1986)
“Vakantie, het broodnodige de kofferbak in, de autodeur dicht, Graceland op en weg.”
31. The Beatles – Revolver (1966)
“Teruggetrokken in hun studio, weg van het publiek, enkel maar gemaakt om de muziek.”
With the end of another year in sight, it’s time to set in an annual tradition by asking albumblog’s music professors the vitally important question: “Which are the best rock albums of all time?”. It’s the third edition since 2012, when Genesis‘ Selling England by the Pound was jointly picked by R.K. Hofmeijer and G. van Zwanendonk as the ultimate best album of all time. Last year they were joined by senior student musicology D. Oude-Kamphuis, resulting in top positions for Kid A, The Velvet Underground & Nico and Band on the Run respectively.
However, DOK didn’t put enough time in his postdoc last year, clearing the way for this year’s senior student Guus Fog to join the action. This is the first part of their contemplation’s result, with #50-41 (GvZ’s & RKH’s last year’s ranking between brackets):
50. (*) Donald Fagen – The Nightfly (1982)
“Turning craftsmanship into mastership.”
49. (47) Simon & Garfunkel – Parsley, Sage, Rosemary & Thyme (1966)
“The Breakfast Album.”
48. (*) Joy Division – Unknown Pleasures (1979)
“Essential postcard of the hanging.”
47. (46) Jefferson Airplane – After Bathing at Baxter’s (1967)
“If you try, you can almost smell 1967.”
46. (*) Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues (2011)
“Deep in the woods, the dwarfs are gathering around a little folk bar where pixies play the blues.”
45. (39) The Velvet Underground – The Velvet Underground (1969)
“Rarely did a band make such an abrupt sound switch without losing a single bit of its quality.”
44. (*) The Mountain Goats – The Sunset Tree (2005)
“There’s gonna be a party when the wolf comes home!”
43. (27) The Rolling Stones – Sticky Fingers (1971)
“Second part of one of rock’s most impressive trilogies.”
42. (38) Creedence Clearwater Revival – Green River (1969)
“Take me back down where cool water flows.”
41. (28) Pink Floyd – The Dark Side of the Moon (1973)
“Although born in ’85, most of my time on university was spent on air guitaring on ‘Time’.”
50. (47) Radiohead – The King of Limbs (2011)
“Let’s try to redefine modern rock music once more. To be continued.”
49. (43) Wilco – Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (2002)
“I am Yankee. I shall play you the song of my people.”
48. (39) J.J. Cale – Naturally (1972)
“Pass me the peace pipe and let me pet the buffalo.”
47. (33) Lee Hazlewood – Cowboy in Sweden (1970)
“Diary of a psychedelic cowboy.”
46. (36) Neutral Milk Hotel – In the Aeroplane Over the Sea (1998)
“I meant what I sang there. I truly truly did.”
45. (26) Panda Bear – Person Pitch (2007)
“Brain Wilson’s illegitimate child. Loves sand boxes.”
44. (42) Afghan Whigs – Gentlemen (1993)
“Greg Dulli thinks you’re a wimp and he’s probably right.”
43. (29) Cream – Disraeli Gears (1967)
“Pass me the joint and let me pet the dragon.”
42. (50) Lambchop – How I Quit Smoking (1996)
“I smoke sixteenthousand packs of sigarettes a day. These are my musings.”
41. (*) The Byrds – The Notorious Byrd Brothers (1968)
“Loose the walrus, perfect the vocal harmonies. That tune is mellow, man”
50. Richard and Linda Thompson – Shoot Out the Lights (1982)
“Dit album hoort hoger. Nummer 25 ofzo.”
49. Phosphorescent – To Willie (2009)
“Vuurvliegen tijdens een zomernacht op the countryside te Lille.”
48. Shearwater – Palo Santo (2006)
“Pure natuur, gemaakt door een birdwatcher op een onbewoond eiland.”
47. Vampire Weekend – Vampire Weekend (2008)
46. Tom Waits – Rain Dogs (1985)
“Herfst, winter, whisky en sigaren!”
45. Mogwai – Mogwai Young Team (1997)
“Voor iedereen die tijdens de stiltes van ‘Like Herod’ zijn volumeknop nog verder opendraait.”
44. Electric Light Orchestra – Out of the Blue (1977)
“Barokke plaat, bedacht in de pure Zwitserse Alpen.”
43. Creedence Clearwater Revival – Green River (1969)
“De enige muziek waarin ik en mijn vader elkaar vinden.”
42. Neil Young – On the Beach (1974)
“Mijn favoriete plaat, tot ik gelukkiger werd.”
41. Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds – Abattoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus (2004)
“Wie zich herkent in de vrouw van ‘Nature Boy’ mag mij mailen.“
Live version of a song that originally appeared on the ’67 album Wild Honey, being the second single after the title track. Songs like these (written by Brian and sung by Carl) can pep up any party thanks to the characteristic pace and vocal harmonies.
Peter Gabriel had been collecting real rock gems on his solo records from the very start, but the absence of experimental excesses on this (fifth) album (which seems to contain nothing but FM hits) made that these were no longer kept a secret for a greater audience. Lots of guest appearances on So, for example The Police’s Stewart Copeland (drums) and Daniel Lanois (guitar) on this song, while Lanois (after co-producing some albums from an Irish band with Brian Eno) also produced the album.
Very turbulent song, which probably ended up on my shelf thanks to its use on the EA 2006 FIFA WC soundtrack. The resources for this album were limited, and that’s exactly what you hear. Not really something to remember in another ten years, just like the game it was used on.
An album that was received with lots of uproar at the time, but one that seems to have ended up in anonymity, just like the band. It of course never reached the level of originality of the QOTSA and Led Zep works, but really offers some sharp and muscled tracks that make you search after your air guitar. Unlike this one, that sounds like a modern version of the intro of ‘In the Court of the Crimson King’.
One of the truly indie bands of today that really matter. Surprising on their debut, expanding on this second album (this song being the ultimate example) and definitely affirming on their last record. VW showed guts and until now, that sufficed.
Fantastic album, that I only recently really discovered after lying around on the dusty shelf for some years (I now realize it was its fate). Big Star (Memphis) was one of those scarce rock bands during the seventies that didn’t go either hard rock or prog, but instead reverted to the lush but simple melodies of the sixties. With Alex Chilton and Chris Bell as their songwriting duo, they released two albums before breaking up in 1974. This third album was shelved and only released four years later as Third/Sister Lovers. Stripped dejection was never before alternated with unrestrained excitement in this way, drenched in a relaxed atmosphere that reminds of The Band’s Last Waltz.
The odd man out on this very interesting Airplane album. Guitarist Jorma Kaukonen co-wrote this long instrumental with bass player Jack Casady and drummer Spencer Dryden, while Kantner, Balin and Slick are absent. Forerunner of Kaukonen and Casady’s blues rock project Hot Tuna.
Not much oeuvres can compete with that of Led Zeppelin: immediately settle a mythical reputation with your debut and freely preserve this the following six years, at a rate of one album a year (yeah, there’s a two year gap between Houses of the Holy and this one, but this is a double album). Really astonishing actually when considering the genesis of the band. This song is one of those great tracks on what is probably their best album: instrumental perfection that occasionally and deliberately gives space to Plant’s voice.
Album I already ran into twice, but apparently forgot to throw away. Way too grandiloquent, over and out.
Preceded by: An Ideal for Living (EP, 1978)
Followed by: Closer (1980)
Related to: not available yet
Low. David Bowie wasn’t the happiest person on earth on his eleventh album (January 1977), which was subtly reflected in its title. Ian Curtis must have loved it.
Bowie was recovering from a cocaine addiction in Berlin, while Curtis was recovering from growing up in England during the seventies. Bowie was supported by Brian Eno, who co-wrote the track ‘Warszawa’, the ambitious opening of side two. Curtis met his peers Peter Hook, Bernard Sumner and Terry Mason, who had formed a punk band together. Curtis joined the band as the singer, and they called themselves ‘Warsaw’. From this moment on, Curtis injected the band with lots of personal ‘low’, turning rage into desperateness, or punk into post-punk.
The band made their first appearances as a support act for The Buzzcocks, before reaching its definitive line-up with Stephen Morris replacing Mason on drums during the summer of 1977. Caused by some legal issues with another band, the name of the band was subsequently changed into ‘Joy Division’, after a literary red light district in a nazi camp. As provoking was the main raison d’être for punk bands (after all, the band mentioned above was called ‘Warsaw Pact’), the four enlarged the controversy surrounding them by portraying a Hitler Jugend member on the cover of its first EP, calling it An Ideal for Living (June ’78).
It was Tony Wilson, just after creating his own record label Factory Records, who offered the band a place in the spotlights by letting them perform for the first time on TV, in his own show (Wilson and his relationship with Joy Division was elaborately portrayed in the movies 24 Hour Party People (2002) and Control (2007)). The popularity of the band subsequently grew, and they start the recordings for their first studio album. However, concerns are raised about Ian Curtis, who suffers from his first epileptic episode in December.
The debut album was nonetheless released in the summer of 1979, called Unknown Pleasures. The sales of the album initially were disappointing, but significantly increased after the release of the single ‘Transmission’ (no singles were released from the album). But more important, the combination of Joy Division’s original sound with the working methods of mad genius Martin Hannett resulted in an album that, above all, sounded very new. More than any other did this album describe the atmosphere of desperateness in Northern England during the late seventies. Even on The Smiths’ cynical debut album, you could still hear echoes of Roger McGuinn’s sunny guitar playing, while Unknown Pleasures only offers a low baritone and minimalistic instrumentation.
The album can in fact be divided into two types of songs: tracks (6) with very dark lyrics on which depression is cunningly camouflaged by a dynamic and often uptempo instrumentation, and songs (4) that overtly ask you why you still haven’t killed yourself. Let’s start with the first ones, as the brilliant album opener is one of them! It’s Stephen Morris kicking things of on ‘Disorder’, with an uptempo drum rhythm that survived the band’s punk years. Right on this opening track it becomes clear that this is no place for screaming singers and primitive guitar riffs that are repeated till eternity: the uncontrolled punk rage has been replaced by resigned depression; a feeling exhaled best by no one less than the bass player, the most obscure species among musicians. It’s Peter Hook calling the tune here, condemning guitarist Sumner to complement him. Meanwhile Curtis sings about the pleasures of life, being unknown to him as he’s losing ‘the feeling’.
Also on side 1 is ‘Insight’, an interesting song musically (the general lyrical theme may be clear already, besides, their specific meaning is often open for interpretation). While the drum pattern doesn’t differ much from ‘Disorder’, the bass line would return later in the tremendous (and much better) song ’24 Hours’ on the following album Closer. Moreover, the influence of Hanett is clearly audible here, with vocals that were recorded through a phone line and lots of special sound effects.
The four other songs in the first category are to be found on side 2, back to back from the start. ‘She’s Lost Control’ is the first in line and also the most interesting. Of course it’s one of the band’s best known songs because of the fact that Curtis sings about a girl he once saw while she was suffering from an epileptic attack. But above all, listen to the surprising combination of that simple drumbeat (which I seem to have heard another 843 times in random electronic songs afterwards) with those sharp guitar riffs from Sumner!
Following are ’Shadowplay’ and ‘Wilderness’, with the first being one of the few tracks with a dominating guitar (including a real opening riff). The second one has another catchy bass riff which creates a moderately relaxed atmosphere that contrasts in an absurd way with the, again, dark lyrics. The penultimate track on the album is ‘Interzone’, by far the most punky track on the album. Not only because of its minimal length (2’15”), but also because of its high pace, which is set by Sumner. Adding the alternating vocals between Hook and Curtis makes this song the odd man out, but therefore not less delightful.
Over to the second category of songs on the album then, starting with track two, ‘Day of the Lords’. While you can pep up any party with the albums’ opener, the second song is well suited to send everybody home in anxiety, thinking about the remains of what once was a person, sitting in the corner of a dark room with a pistol on his bed. No doubt that the synthesizer from the chorus will still chase them down in an occasional dream, while Curtis asks them where it will end. The following song,’Candidate’, only further intensifies this mood. Not just for using some haunted house sounds, but especially because Curtis’ frightening voice is now only supported by a minimal drum and bass section.
Side 1 is closed by ‘New Dawn Fades’, which has a great intro with Hook and Sumner playing in opposite directions. It also contains one of Curtis’ best vocal performances on the album (building up towards a climax in the end), which makes this song one of the highlights on the album. Last but not least, the album is closed in a sinister way with ‘I Remember Nothing’. This song might give you the idea that Jim Morisson didn’t die after all, that he now has a hypermodern studio (including a large collection of Hannett’s sound effects) at his disposal to make a sequel for his own debut album’s closing track, ‘The End’.
The recordings of Joy Division’s second album, Closer, started early 1980, while Curtis’ epilepsy worsened and also appeared during live performances. In the early morning of May, 18th 1980 Curtis hangs himself, right before the band would undertake its first tour around the US. The posthumous single ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ was released in June, followed by the album in July. Unlike The Doors, the three remaining members didn’t continue without its original singer, but transformed into New Order.
Unknown Pleasures was one of the best attempts to come up with something new in rock music’s history. The questions remains whether or not the band would have stagnated on this point of breakthrough afterwards (variation never was the band’s greatest trump). Considering this, the short lifespan of Joy Division might have been its blessing, and critics might touch the truth in this way when stating that the band owes his praise because of Curtis’ suicide. However, their two albums remain two of rock’s finest and deserve your attention. Enjoy.
One of my favorite Velvet-songs, this second track from their (post-Cale) third album. Pretty straight forward, with that awesome pushing Velvet guitar sound. The instrumental combo with the rhythm guitars and Doug Yule’s (replacing Cale) organ could easily be called one of rock’s greatest song climaxes ever.
Just like Faith from 1981, this fourth album continues the bands practice from its break-through album Seventeen Seconds (1980): explicit melancholy written by the classic line-up Smith-Tolhurst-Gallup. This song in particular resembles The Smiths’ sound, especially the surprisingly melodic guitar riff and of course the desperate lament, but is fortified with that typical repeating drum and bass rhythm. The instrumental parts laid the groundwork for post rock, while Smith himself would rather concentrate on writing some solid pop songs later on.
Andy Partridge signed the end of XTC’s touring history in 1982, as he started to suffer from stage fright. Just like The Beatles did earlier, XTC concentrated on working in the studio from then on and also picked up the idea of making a concept album. Skylarking was supposed to be about growing up, getting older and dying, all in one day. The result was an incredible album filled with orchestration, like the numerous string sections in this song, completely in line with the Paul McCartney Academy of Pop Music.
Typical guitar sound from the nineties, resembling that of their lumberjacket wearing peers from Washington. However, not only did their wardrobe differ, also the lyrics from this Cincinatti band sound much more mature and devoted, even reminding of Dylan sometimes. This is of course their best (and fourth) album, released one year after break-through album Congregation (great cover) and recorded in Memphis.
Iconic pop album, released in the US as Meet The Beatles. It’s actually a mix of some of the bands’ live covers like ‘You Really Got A Hold On Me’, ‘Please Mister Postman’ and ‘Money’, together with the Fab Four’s first songwriting gems, like McCartney’s ‘All My Loving’. This one is a Lennon song without electric guitar, so no Harrison.
For me personally one of the biggest rediscoveries last year. Billy Corgan already dominated the Pumpkins on their second album (Siamese Dream (1993), on which he frequently overdubbed the bass and guitar parts with his own stuff), and on this magnificent third (ultimate cocktail of riff & melody) he shined like never before, and never afterwards. The threatening, modest sound of this song would dominate the next album and also returned on Radiohead’s OK Computer .
More nineties, and not complaining. Californian trio that formed in 1989, played till 1999 and saw their status grow each year since. Great record that offers a lot, except pretention.
Second and (for now?) last album of The Raconteurs, written by Brendan Brenson and Jack White, the man who secured the heritage of all preliminary guitar music in the new century. Whatever band this guy played in, it never took long before I liked it.
Bowie leaves his androgen identity behind and freely throws Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder into the blender in a way that makes all other attempts at white soul pale into insignificance. Featuring Carlos Alomar for the first time.
A dash of funk blew over from the previous song into the guitar playing of Joe Walsh. Classic.