1. Bob Dylan – Visions of Johanna (Live 1966: The ‘Royal Albert Hall’ Concert, 1998)
Famous live sounds of the master, from probably rock music’s most famous bootleg. As a result of his motorcycle accident that followed 2 months after finishing this world tour, it was one of Dylans last live perfomances until 1974. Dylan was backed by the Hawks, who kept him company during Dylans recovery in Big Pink and lined up again (as The Band) in that following tour of ’74, which was released on Before The Flood, another geat live album.
2. The Beatles –Yer Blues (White Album, 1968)
The best way to bypass your insecurity about something still remains acting like everything you’re doing is just one big parody, and before you can realize it everything you did ends up to be a smashing masterpiece. The combination of the ‘I want to die’ lyric with the oompah sounds and the terrific guitar solo makes this track one of Lennon’s most fascinating contributions to the White Album, on which it resides perfectly in all its nudity.
3. The Smashing Pumpkins – Thru The Eyes of Ruby (Mellon Collie and The Infinite Sadness, 1995)
Bombastic Pumpkins at their asolute peak, with Mellon Collie being the ultimate cocktail of riff & melody. Luckily, and as always on this double album, the guitars dominate the second part of this song. Not very surprising by the way, as approximately 70 guitar tracks were used on this song. Quarrels with your bandmates seem inevitable at some point.
4. Bruce Springsteen – Further On (Up the Road) (The Rising, 2002)
Uptempo drums-driven intro, ultimate stadium voice: the striking come-back of The Boss. Springsteen had been on a 7 year hiatus and it was his first collaboration with the E-Street Band in 18 years. The Rising was Springsteen’s response to 9/11, but in fact it was just the next episode in the whole Springsteen-saga, in which the high priest repeatedly offers hope to his most dedicated followers during gigantic mass gatherings. Good album (just a little too much fillers?).
5. The White Stripes – I’m Slowly Turning Into You (Icky Thump, 2007)
From their sixth and final album: a rough song, with screaming guitars and a pumping organ. According to Jack White himself, an album about ‘being really happy’. What is there to add?
6. Fleet Foxes – Sun Giant (Sun Giant, 2008)
Must have been the greatest contrast in clearness the shuffle could come up with. Both fans of Dylan and Neil Young, Robin Pecknold and Kyler Skjelset joined forces to start one of the best things that happened to popular music during the last decade. They delivered two very strong albums, treated us on some really marvelous folk classics (like ‘Drops in the River’ on this EP) and easily equalize the sound of some of the seventies’ most famous Westcoast choirs. Pecknold apparently suffers from social anxiety, and the fact he only hangs out with his bandmates offers us hope regarding the release of that long expected third album.
7. Cloud Nothings – Wasted Days (Attack On Memory, 2012)
Kings of Leon guitar intro? Green Day drums riff? Foo Fighters maybe? Wait, and your patience will be rewarded when echoes of Ride are coming through and it all turns into one big power trip. It all stems from the brain of Dylan Baldi, who made up numerous fictitious bands to place ‘their’ music on MySpace and find out whether or not somebody would appreciate it. One of those bands was Cloud Nothings, so just like Tame Impala and the early Grizzly Bear, it also started as a one guy project, that would only consist of a full band when playing live. This album (produced by Steve Albini), was the first one recorded with that live line-up.
8. The Kinks – Fancy (Face To Face, 1966)
Hypnotizing song full of eastern influences and the ultimate sixties voice of Ray Davies, somehow resembling Bowie and even a mopish Robert Plant here. Face to Face was the beginning of a dazzling period for the band, thanks to Davies’ nervous and physical breakdown preceding its release, as a lot of new songs that ended up on the album were written during his recuperation. Davies however continued to struggle, as that very new album (well, and the alcohol I prudently suppose) delivered him another bunch of headaches. Davies was not allowed by the record label to connect the songs with various sound effects as he intended and the psychedelic looking album sleeve was not at all to his satisfaction. Absolute fan.
9. Neil Young – Shock and Awe (Living with War, 2006)
Another old god with some more recent work, another anti-war one. Young’s lyrics and musical note are however not at all comparable to those of Springsteen: Neil is not here to give you hope, he wants to pour the incovienenth truth down your throath and asks you how it tastes. It’s an approach I appreciate, just like the way Young offered his album: it was released on the internet, but only as a whole, not as separate tracks. No direct and easy to digest consumption, but only the complete message.
10. Brian Eno – Another Green World (Another Green World, 1975)
This title track of Brian Eno’s third album, with a soft, rippling piano in the background, is the perfect soundtrack for that first spring morning. The window cautiously opens itself a little bit.