1. The Velvet Underground – What Goes On (The Velvet Underground, 1969) [singlepic id=274 w=80 h=50 float=left]
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.
2. The Cure – The Figurehead (Pornography, 1982) [singlepic id=358 w=80 h=50 float=left]
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.
3. XTC – 1000 Umbrellas (Skylarking, 1986) [singlepic id=360 w=80 h=50 float=left]
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.
4. Afghan Whigs – Now You Know (Gentlemen, 1993) [singlepic id=125 w=80 h=50 float=left]
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.
5. The Beatles – Not a Second Time (With the Beatles, 1963) [singlepic id=357 w=80 h=50 float=left]
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.
6. Smashing Pumpkins – To Forgive (Mellon Collie and The Infinite Sadness, 1995) [singlepic id=332 w=80 h=50 float=left]
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 .
7. Pavement – Conduit For Sale! (Slanted and Enchanted, 1992) [singlepic id=356 w=80 h=50 float=left]
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.
8. The Raconteurs – Top Yourself (Consolers of the Lonely, 2008) [singlepic id=359 w=80 h=50 float=left]
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.
9. David Bowie – Right (Young Americans, 1975) [singlepic id=355 w=80 h=50 float=left]
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.
10. The Eagles – Life in the Fast Lane (Hotel California, 1976) [singlepic id=8 w=80 h=50 float=left]
A dash of funk blew over from the previous song into the guitar playing of Joe Walsh. Classic.
This is an ode to the shuffle. How better to get a good insight in your digitized album collection than by a classic shuffle? Finally discover the albums you never got into, finally throw the ones away you will never get into and worship those classics that never grow old again. The Shuffle of this week:
1. George Harrison – Dear One (Thirty Three & 1/3, 1976) [singlepic id=85 w=80 h=50 float=left]
Starting with Richard Tee this week, whose organ playing opens this song. The acoustic guitar and soft voice that follow are these of George Harrison, on the second track of his sixth studio-album, definitely one of his best (with the title referring to the vinyl as well as his age at the time of recording). Harrison also plays the percussion and synthesizers on this song, while Premavatar Paramahansa Yogananda’s spirit sings to us.
2. The White Stripes – Conquest (Icky Thump, 2007) [singlepic id=284 w=80 h=50 float=left]
Sixth and final (+ Grammy winning) album from one of the greatest rock acts from the 21st century. It was also the final (and third) single to be released from Icky Thump and its only cover song. ‘Conquest’ was originally written by Corky Robbins, but Jack White got fascinated by the song through Patti Page’s cover from the fifties. He rearranged it into a highly orchestrated track (featuring Regulo Aldama on trumpet) with those characterizing Stripes guitars during the chorus.
3 Killing Joke – Wardance (Killing Joke, 1980) [singlepic id=126 w=80 h=50 float=left]
Another great guitar song, a post-punk gem from Killing Joke’s debut album. It was the first single from the album, featuring this great artwork. Album that requires the right timing to reveal itself, but that will spend weeks on your playlist afterwards.
4. Neil Young – See the Sky About to Rain (On the Beach, 1974) [singlepic id=283 w=80 h=50 float=left]
Second time that an organ (correction: a Wurlitzer electric piano) intro is followed by a divine and one of rock music’s most recognizable voices. Although recorded after Tonight’s the Night, On the Beach became the follow-up album to Harvest. It’s definitely a personal favorite (lyrically as well as musically), but apparently it didn’t meet its high expectations when it was released. This is the second song on the album, featuring Levon Helm on drums and covered (just like ‘Cowgirl in the Sand’) already before Young’s release by The Byrds on their reunion album Byrds (1973).
5. Vampire Weekend – A-Punk (Vampire Weekend, 2008) [singlepic id=160 w=80 h=50 float=left]
Up-tempo song and second single from the band’s debut album, which was a pleasant surprise in those years.
6. Pearl Jam – Alive (Ten, 1991) [singlepic id=127 w=80 h=50 float=left]
A certain pattern in this week’s shuffle becomes clear, as all songs derive from the first three tracks on each respective album. The music for this song was written by guitarist Stone Gossard, after which Eddie Vedder added some quasi autobiographical lyrics to it about his death biological father. As a result, Vedder was invited to join this new band called Pearl Jam and this song became the legendary lead single of their debut album.
7. Queen – Crazy Little Thing Called Love (Live at Wembley’86, 1992) [singlepic id=279 w=80 h=50 float=left]
The live track of the week is delivered by Queen, just like last week, from the legendary concert at Wembley. Including great instrumental jam.
8. Brian Eno – Sky Saw (Another Green World, 1975) [singlepic id=230 w=80 h=50 float=left]
From Wembley’s applause into the opening tones of Eno’s third album. Although containing some great ‘popsongs’ that remind of Brian Wilson, the album mainly consists of instrumental, ambient, tracks like this one. Notice Phil Collins on drums and John Cale on viola.
9. Golden Earring – Eight Miles High (Live, 1977) [singlepic id=281 w=80 h=50 float=left]
More seventies and more live music, with a ten minutes lasting cover of The Byrds’ ‘Eight Miles High’ (1966). An undisputed highlight on this terrific live album, with droning drums and some quality guitar licks, recorded in London’s Rainbow Theatre.
10. Interpol – Slow Hands (Antics, 2004) [singlepic id=282 w=80 h=50 float=left]
Album I acquired thanks to the band’s great debut album. A very decent follow-up, although not able to compete with Turn on the Bright Lights. Unfortunately, it all went downhill from here.