Citizens of hope and glory, I look at the world and I notice a red car in the fountain, so this must be what people once called, and still call, winter. And as I am he as you are he as you are me and I’m the space invader, I’ll be a rock ‘n rollin’ bitch for you and gather the most notorious music professors in town to contemplate the most vital question of the year: “Which is the best rock album of all time?”. Heading into the fifth edition this year, we’re looking for successors of Selling England by the Pound, Kid A, The Velvet Underground & Nico, Band on the Run, What’s Going On, Blood on the Tracks and Revolver.
Well, if you wanna see the sun rise honey, I know where, as I’m not alone in this smoky dark cave. Of course there’s RKH, going strong since 2012, and be quick or he might already be gone: Guus ‘Rockin’ Chair’ Fog. Too late! Anyway, they say he comes on a pale horse, but I’m sure I hear a hybrid car, so that must be Donald ‘Ramblin’ Oude Kamphuis actually rejoining the armed forces this year. This means 2016 will be brought to an end with a great musical blast, so trouble ahead, lady in red, and the results of the first autumn nights:
|49||Rolling Stones||Exile on Main St.||1972||44|
|47||Animal Collective||Merriweather Post Pavillion||2009||37|
|44||George Harrison||All things must pass||1970||25|
|43||David Bowie||The Rise & Fall of Ziggy Stardust||1972||*|
|42||Yes||The Yes Album||1971||*|
|41||Radiohead||The King of Limbs||2011||42|
|50||My Morning Jacket||Circuital||2011||45|
|48||Pink Floyd||A Saucerful of Secrets||1968||31|
|47||Queens of the Stone Age||Queens of the Stone Age||1998||*|
|46||Killing Joke||Killing Joke||1980||27|
|44||The Mountain Goats||The Sunset Tree||2005||40|
|43||Buffalo Springfield||Buffalo Springfield Again||1967||39|
|42||The Afghan Whigs||Gentlemen||1993||*|
|41||Creedence Clearwater Revival||Green River||1969||49|
|50||Kanye West||The Life of Pablo||2016||*|
|49||Elvis Costello||This Year’s Model||1978||*|
|48||Kate Bush||Hounds of Love||1985||*|
|47||Frazey Ford||Indian Ocean||2014||46|
|46||Bruce Springsteen||Darkness on the Edge of Town||1978||35|
|45||Guided By Voices||Alien Lanes||1995||29|
|44||Wilco||Yankee Hotel Foxtrot||2002||47|
|43||Bob Dylan||Bringing It All Back Home||1965||*|
|42||Dismemberment Plan||Emergency & I||1999||*|
|41||Lee Hazlewood||Cowboy in Sweden||1970||41|
1. Guns n’ Roses – Breakdown (Use Your Illusion II, 1991) [singlepic id=216 w=80 h=50 float=left]
Lyrically, GNR had obviously grown up on this album, moving away from the juvenile drugs anthems that dominated their previous work. But also musically, the band was in fact at its peak on this album, containing some very strong rock songs. This one qualifies for mediocrity, but also manages to surprise with a country intro followed by a proggy piano. LA chemists that reinjected mainstream rock music with the demonic and shabby rock ‘n roll from the Stones, and like many predecessors, collapsed by withdrawing to the studio.
2. Kate Bush – L’Amour Looks Something Like You (The Kick Inside, 1978) [singlepic id=415 w=80 h=50 float=left]
Although it was already announced many, many times during the preceding years by the record labels, it was only during the late seventies that the sales of records started to stagnate. That must have been the reason for EMI to completely squeeze this album, for example by including some sexy posters of the then only 19 years old Kate Bush. A little bit paradoxical of course, as Bush should have represented the emancipation of women in rock music by becoming the first woman to reach number 1 in the singles charts with ‘Wuthering Heights’ as well as the first woman at the top of the album charts with The Kick Inside. No surprise Bush started her own label after the forced follow-up album to stay in control over her own work.
3. Jefferson Airplane – Triad (Crown of Creation, 1968) [singlepic id=240 w=80 h=50 float=left]
The previous song could at least be called slightly sexually fueled, this one simply describes the story of a threeway relationship written by David Crosby himself. Although The Byrds could hardly been called conservative, they rejected the song for being too daring after which Grace Slick gratefully accepted the gift. Jefferson Airplane, just like The Byrds, did not have any hitsingle success anymore for some time at that point, due to numerous radio station bans because of supposed drugs references. However, just like The Byrds, it continued to deliver some good albums, like this one. The song reminds of the original folk roots of the band and is in that way representative for the album, on which psychedelic rock slowly starts to peel into the country rock that would be dominant on the last real album of the original band: Volunteers. That album also had to face numerous radio bans in the liberal US, this time not because of drugs references but for, let’s say, ‘political’ reasons.
4. Creedence Clearwater Revival – Gloomy (Creedence Clearwater Revival, 1968) [singlepic id=414 w=80 h=50 float=left]
Maybe one of those bands from the same area that was somehow responsible for the change in course of the group mentioned above. At their own turn, they still propagate some psychedelic elements on their debut album, well illustrated by some long instrumental jams like this one and break-through single ‘Susie Q’, that got CCR some fame in the Bay Area. Not to forget the album sleeve that makes clear that CCR was willing to ride the psychedelic wave a little.
5. Blind Faith – Do What You Like (Blind Faith, 1969) [singlepic id=369 w=80 h=50 float=left]
One year later, at the other side of the ocean: blues rock is still king, but there’s also a wind blowing from another direction: prog rock. Just like in California, the own sound, in this case the muscled bass-percussion combo, is mingled with the new rising sound, witnessing the elaborate, Genesis-echoes from the near future by Steve Winwood on keyboards. Just like their prog colleagues, Blind Faith principally grabbed ships full of cash in the US by becoming a gigantic stadium act. Disbanded afterwards.
6. Islands –Volcanoes (Return to the Sea, 2006) [singlepic id=389 w=80 h=50 float=left]
Recording in the drummer’s bedroom, intro containing a telephone conversation, all pretty indie for sure. Unfortunately it can’t really compete with peers and countrymen like Sunset Rubdown, Apostle of Hustle and Arcade Fire. A little snooty.
7. Radiohead – Morning Mr. Magpie (The King of Limbs, 2011) [singlepic id=417 w=80 h=50 float=left]
If I ever wanna hear about a ‘Third Way’ again, its Radiohead’s one. Clearly echoes Thom Yorke’s soloalbum, but more exuberantly dressed thanks to the electric guitar riff and lots of other reworked ornaments. Courtesy of Johnny Greenwood.
8. Lambchop – Breath Deep (I Hope You’re Sitting Down/Jack’s Tulips, 1994) [singlepic id=416 w=80 h=50 float=left]
Kurt Wagner addressing you on a (apparently) way underrated debut albm. Many folk and country out there, well illustrated by the acoustic intro of this song. Lambchop’s line-up has been altered many, many times, but Wagner obviously forms the heart of this band, with one of the best senses of understatement ever heard.
9. The Rolling Stones – Brown Sugar (Sticky Fingers, 1971) [singlepic id=108 w=80 h=50 float=left]
Opening track and lead single of what is considered by some music professors as one of the best albums of all-time; sleeve designed by Andy Warhol (the Stones were artistically freed after breaking up with Decca Records) and riff ripped by Dandy Warhols. Whether the song was about Marsha Hunt or Claudia Lennear, old pictures of both are worthy of some research.
10. Jethro Tull – For a Thousand Mothers (Stand Up, 1969) [singlepic id=16 w=80 h=50 float=left]
Perhaps the crown juwel on this album, that definitely pushed Tull in the middle of the earlier mentioned prog wave. Just like elsewhere on the album, captain Anderson refers to his relationship with his parents, while his flute sounds more aggressive than ever. The album reached number one in the UK in September 1969, to be removed from that position by… Blind Faith.