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One morning, I woke up, riding the Gravy Train. Let’s go:

GvZ:

35. (*) John Cale – Fear (1974)
34.
(28) The Beatles – Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967)
33. (*) The Kingsbury Manx – The Kingsbury Manx (2000)
32. (27) XTC – Skylarking (1986)

31. (11)  Pink Floyd – A Saucerful of Secrets (1968)
“Perfect album to enitrely talk through while having an easy ride in the Welsh countryside.”

RKH:

35. (*) Bruce Springsteen – Darkness on the Edge of Town (1978)
34.
(40) Eagles – Hotel California (1976)
33. (*) Weezer – Weezer (‘Blue Album’) (1994)
32. (10) The Band – The Band (1969)

31. (33) Santana – Abraxas (1970)
“The multilayered tropical cocktail that…”

And the heat goes on, if you only wouldn’t clap so hard:

GvZ:

40. (44) The Mountain Goats – The Sunset Tree (2005)
39.
(*) Buffalo Springfield – Buffalo Springfield Again (1967)
38. (21) The Band – The Band (1969)
37. (29) Pink Floyd – Atom Heart Mother (1970)

36. (26) The Byrds – The Notorious Byrd Brothers (1968)
“My brothers for a horse!”

RKH:

40. (42) Lambchop – How I Quit Smoking (1996)
39.
(*) XTC – Skylarking (1986)
38. (23) Love – Forever Changes (1967)
37. (24) David Bowie – The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust… (1972)

36. (35) Pixies – Doolittle (1989)
“Musical colon cleansing.”

Look out Cleveland, don’t reach for the secret too soon: #45-41:

DOK:

45. (37) Animal Collective – Merriweather Post Pavillion (2009)
44. (*) Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds – Abattoir Blues/ The Lyre of Orpheus (2004)
43. (35) Cat Stevens – Tea for the Tillerman (1970)
42. (49) DJ Shadow – Endtroducing… (1996)

41. (*) Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues (2011)
“I’ll get back to you on Wednesday, soon you will see.”

GvZ:

45. (*) My Morning Jacket – Circuital (2011)
44. (25) Brian Wilson – SMiLE (2004)
43. (31) Fleetwood Mac – Bare Trees (1972)
42. (38) Animal Collective – Merriweather Post Pavillion (2009)

41. (45) The Velvet Underground – The Velvet Underground (1969)
“Fast, slow, rough, gentle: black leather folk.”

RKH:

45. (15) Van Morrison – Moondance (1970)
44. (34) Guided By Voices – Bee Thousand (1994)
43. (28) The Beach Boys – Pet Sounds (1966)
42. (28) The Beatles – Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967)

41. (47) Lee Hazlewood – Cowboy in Sweden (1970)
“The sound and definition of a Free Spirit.”

GF:

45. (*) Wilco – Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (2002)
44. (20) Neil Young – Harvest (1972)
43. (30) David Bowie – The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust… (1972)
42. (48) Shearwater – Palo Santo (2006)

41. (47) Vampire Weekend – Vampire Weekend (2008)
“Slecht te been, gelegen in een ziekenhuisbed, schudt Neil even dit album van tussen de lakens uit.”

Citizens of hope and glory, we can already see the end of another year looming in the distance. The streets are empty, there’s darkness on the edge of town, and music professors flee into their shabby sheds to debate the most vital question of their lives: “Which is the best rock album of all time?”. We’re heading into the fourth edition since 2012, looking for successors of Selling England by the Pound, Kid A, The Velvet Underground & Nico, Band on the Run and Blood on the Tracks.

Well, tell me how your head feels under something like that, cause it’s no one less than Donald ‘Ramblin’ Oude Kamphuis rejoining the armed forces this year. With last year’s senior student Guus Fog officially graduated now and the long lasting experience of RKH and yours truly, 2015 is about to have a promising musical end game. We wanna get loaded, and we wanna have a good time, so let’s go to the results of the first autumn contemplations (previous year’s ranking between brackets):

DOK:

50. (*) Vampire Weekend – Vampire Weekend (2008)
49. (47) Arcade Fire – Funeral (2004)

48. (50) Neutral Milk Hotel – In the Aeroplane over the Sea (1998)
47. (25) George Harrison – All Things Must Pass (1970)

46. (32) Radiohead – OK Computer (1997)
“When the 90’s gave birth to the millennium.”

GvZ:

50. (37) The Band – Music from Big Pink (1968)
49. (42) Creedence Clearwater Revival – Green River (1969)
48. (*) Tom Waits – Rain Dogs (1985)
47. (49) Simon & Garfunkel – Parsley, Sage, Rosemary & Thyme (1966)

46. (34) 13th Floor Elevators – Easter Everywhere (1967)
“Can’t catch your soul while sitting on your arms, man.”

RKH:

50. (*) Talk Talk – Laughing Stock (1991)
49. (30) Neil Young – After the Gold Rush (1970)
48. (50) Radiohead – The King of Limbs (2011)
47. (49) Wilco – Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (2002)

46. (*) Frazey Ford – Indian Ocean (2014)
“Al Green + Canadian fertility symbol = Soul²”

GF:

50. (*) Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds – No More Shall We Part (2001)
49. (*) Broken Social Scene – Broken Social Scene (2005)
48. (*) Joy Division – Unknown Pleasures (1979)
47. (19) The Zombies – Odessey and Oracle (1968)

46. (39) Eddie Vedder – Into the Wild (2007)
“En nu met de nachtbus naar fucking Londen.”

 

 

Year: 1978

Genre: Rock, Heartland Rock

Preceded by: Born to Run (1975)

Followed by: The River (1980)

Related to: not available yet

 

 

I always had my doubts about people who cherish some kind of blind faith in an unassailable higher power. Whether it’s some teenager with a petrified glance into the deep nothing at a young Christians meeting, the stern ideologist that defends the healing power of the free market until his death, or people proudly risking their lives for the flag. Because of completely enigmatic reasons, I always suspected Springsteen fans of some mild form of this faith. However, driving a couple of miles, listening some music and having some beers always appeared to me as a more respectable way to overcome your tragic situation than killing other people.

The sixties just met their boundaries when Springsteen gets his first recording contract in 1972, signing with Columbia. The message that Messenger Bruce came to bring, is already told on his debut album (Greetings from Ashbury Park N.J. 1973): Springsteen is Jersey, and life can be tough out there. Just like its hastily released successor, it barely had any success, opposite to his numerous long live gigs throughout the region, ever injected with loads of energy. Messenger Bruce succeeds to absorb his growing amount of disciples into his story during these gatherings, but struggles in the studio due to his ambition to create the next Astral Weeks or first Desire. This is the point where he gets his first handshake from above, as he soon realizes that he just has to put that awesome live sound on a record. Thanks to an enormous production, he majestically succeeds with Born to Run (1975), but it was probably the endless tour that followed (because of a trial with manager Mike Appel, prohibiting him to record new material) that made him aware of the divine touch: such a muscled sound asks for a straight, in your face message.

It was the same exhausting tour (considering this his second handshake) that prevented him to become a victim of uninspired reproduction, withdrawing right after this trial (and the tour) to a farm in Jersey. Right there he observed the small world he grew up in, including the tough life of his parents. So, although Darkness on the Edge of Town may have a less bombastic sound than its predecessor (it’s basically all about the guitar-piano combo), it definitely wasn’t a revolutionary switch of style in Springsteen’s career. It was just the next step in the refinement of his golden touch on Born to Run: while society was creating more ‘losers’ than ‘winners’, Springsteen succeeded to appeal to both, just like religion serves to overcome your problems, as well as to legitimate your lack of problems.

Just like throughout his complete discography, he pushes his fans between despondency and hope on the album. It results in a well-balanced record, strongly tied together by the granite bookends on both sides. The strong songs in between are especially the three autobiographical ones: ‘Adam Raised a Cain’, where Springsteen addresses his father by biblical imagery (which was about all communication there was between both at that moment), ‘Factory’, his simple but impressive narrative about the worker’s life, and above all the magnificent ‘Something in the Night’. On this track, Springsteen seemed to have left behind his careless youth and has grew wiser the hard way, more specifically by his troubles in court: “You’re born with nothing, and better off that way. Soon as you’ve got something they send someone to try and take it away.”

However, the fist is really clenched on the opening and closing tracks. Springsteen summons his followers on ‘Badlands’ to stop complaining, to stop waiting, but to just make something out of it, after all, it’s no shame to be alive. Sounds simple, but a lot better when you disseminate it as if it were your own gospel: “Poor man wanna be rich, rich man wanna be king, and a king ain’t satisfied till he rules everything“. The fact that escapism is a serious option in this situation, is made clear on ‘Racing in the Street’: even if you’re living a miserable life with a shitty job and a desperate relationship, there’s always a way to escape, in this case through street racing. The song in that way continues Springsteens’s ode to a man’s urge for freedom that was set in on Born to Run: “Now some guys they just give up living and start dying little by little, piece by piece. Some guys come home from work and wash up and go racing in the street”.

Side 2 starts with a boom on ‘The Promised Land’, in which problems are faced and one is ready to eliminate them for once and for all. It was probably again Springsteens’ own hopeless situation that preceded the album that served as an inspiration: not being able to record a new album and to do what he wanted to do. The album is finally closed by its title track, being the sequel to ‘Racing in the Street’. The barriers that were on the path to the ultimate destiny are still being shaken off at that point, he just cut himself loose from everything that used to stop him and is ready to go all the way now. Bring on the darkness.

Top Tracks:
1. Badlands
2. The Promised Land
3. Something In the Night

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.

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Jukebox

TheDoorsAlbum1967 HotelCalifornia1976 itstillmoves2003 abraxas1970