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.
1. XTC – I’d Like That (Apple Venus Volume 1, 1999) [singlepic id=220 w=80 h=50 float=left]
Second track from a great album, bringing together the best material from the period XTC was on strike (1992-1998). Apple Venus was subsequently released on their own label and recorded in their own home-studios, with Partridge on vocals and acoustic guitar here. Very cheerful, very McCartney.
2. Robert Johnson – Hellhound on My Trail (King of the Delta Blues Singers, 1961) [singlepic id=152 w=80 h=50 float=left]
Archaic cornerstone of rock’s discography, already recorded in 1936 but released in 1961 on the Columbia label. They had just contracted Bob Dylan, who had the album lying around on his couch on the cover of Bringing It All Back Home.
3. Genesis – More Fool Me (Selling England by the Pound, 1973) [singlepic id=73 w=80 h=50 float=left]
Closing track on side one of Genesis’ brilliant fifth album, with Phil Collins on lead vocals. Compared to the other songs this one is rather short and very sober, only featuring Collins and Mike Rutherford on guitar. His lover may be gone, but Phil is convinced everything will be just fine.
4. Ride – Vapour Trail (Nowhere, 1990) [singlepic id=296 w=80 h=50 float=left]
Closing track and only single from shoegazing band Ride’s debut album. Written and sung by guitarist Andy Bell, who would later join Oasis on bass. Good album, especially the opening track is a great powertrip.
5. Rolling Stones – Turd on the Run (Exile on Main St., 1972) [singlepic id=297 w=80 h=50 float=left]
A less known track from one of The Stones’ greatest albums, that was born in the south of France while recording in Keith Richards’ basement. Richards might have begun a daily habit of using heroin at that time, his guitar really defines this album, including some country rock sound on this one. Robert Johnson also contributed to the album, with the Stones covering his ‘Stop Breaking Down’ on side four.
6. The Kinks – A House in the Country (Face to Face, 1966) [singlepic id=294 w=80 h=50 float=left]
Finally, The Kinks make their appearance in the shuffle of the week. Face to Face was their fourth album (and definitely one of my favorites), on which this is the closing track of side one. It was their first album entirely written by lead vocalist Ray Davies and marked the beginning of a great period for the band.
7. Lou Reed – Satellite of Love (Transformer, 1972) [singlepic id=295 w=80 h=50 float=left]
Second single from Transformer, an album I dragged across Keith Richards’ south of France last summer, a couple of months before Reed’s death. A song about jealousy, that was originally meant to appear on The Velvet Underground’s Loaded, but that ended up on Reed’s second solo album. With the ever recognizable David Bowie (also the album producer) on backing vocals.
8. The Who – Getting In Tune (Who’s Next, 1971) [singlepic id=298 w=80 h=50 float=left]
Opener on side two of The Who’s fifth album and the fourth song this week with that generously packed sound from the early seventies. Not very surprisingly, this song deals with the power of music and was originally part of Townshend’s Lifehouse-project (as a follow-up to Tommy).
9. Andrew Bird – Scythian Empires (Armchair Apocrypha, 2007) [singlepic id=81 w=80 h=50 float=left]
Talking about richly instrumented pieces of music: perhaps a little less rockin’, but Bird shows off a great deal of craftsmanship on this album highlight. Played the life out of that album last year.
10. Phish – Bouncing Around the Room (Lawn Boy, 1990) [singlepic id=167 w=80 h=50 float=left]
Closing this shuffle just like Phish’s second studio album: with this easy going funky song, influenced by Senegalese music.