i've got the best of interventions

Saturday, October 01, 2005

#682 - A.M., Wilco

"Wilco's first record after the dissolution of Uncle Tupelo continues on an unsurprising trajectory previously mapped by Tupelo's Anodyne. The songs are great, almost lighthearted country-rock songs. "I Must Be High" and "Box Full Of Letters" show Jeff Tweedy's infatuation with classic pop forms, but Wilco was made for greater things -- as later records would show." (real music guide) (Blogger's note: Another personal favorite of mine.)

#681 - Arc Of A Diver, Steve Winwood

"Utterly unencumbered by the baggage of his long years in the music business, Winwood reinvents himself as a completely contemporary artist on this outstanding album, leading off with his best solo song, "While You See a Chance." Winwood also plays all the instruments." (allmusic guide)

#680 - Shangri-La, Mark Knopfler

"Knopfler delivers one easy-rolling country rock sketch of a small town beautiful loser after another, and he actually sings about a successful fast food restaurant. Interesting. Anyway, longtime fans will be glad to hear Dire Straits-brand tightness and plenty of Knopfler's impeccable playing." (real music guide)

#679 - Cry Cry Cry, Cry Cry Cry

"Though the disc begins with a bona fide chart buster, R.E.M.'s "Fall on Me" (with ringing guitars and astonishingly audible lyrics no less), most of the cuts come from such unsung artists as James Keelaghan and Jim Armenti. All three members of this folk music dream team are in excellent voice, alternating ensemble pieces with honed call-and-response. Yet these polished, hush-inducing performances never lose their edge and urgency--this is really what they mean by harmonic convergence." (amazon editorial review)

#678 - Headhunters, Herbie Hancock

"This is the album that saw Hancock transform from a respected jazz genius into a funkified crossover superstar. While "Chameleon" and the plugged-in reading of "Watermelon Man" got plenty of airplay, Hancock never panders to his listeners. This is an extremely influential album and is now considered the Rosetta Stone of aspiring Acid Jazz kids." (real music guide)
#688 - Getz/Gilberto, Stan Getz & Joao Gilberto

"One of the biggest-selling jazz albums of all time, not to mention bossa nova's finest moment, Getz/Gilberto trumped Jazz Samba by bringing two of bossa nova's greatest innovators -- guitarist/singer João Gilberto and composer/pianist Antonio Carlos Jobim -- to New York to record with Stan Getz. The results were magic." (allmusic guide)

#687 - The Bravery, The Bravery

"Pulsating synths, flashy and distraught vocals, and stomping choruses secure the Bravery a winning spot in the '80s revival pop sweepstakes. They walk close to camp on their debut but pull through thanks to their understanding of the epic pop song. "Give In" exemplifies the wide scope of their talents." (real music guide)

#686 - Rocks, Aerosmith

"From Steve Tyler's first shriek to Joe Perry's muted, hard funk guitars, "Back In the Saddle" is one of the band's weirdest but best numbers. They keep up the eccentric pace with the sleazy robot of "Last Child" (how'd they do that anyway? Even Bowie can't make robots sleazy), proving that Rocks is one of those albums where you can feel a band hitting their stride." (real music guide)

#685 - It's A Shame About Ray, The Lemonheads

"Evan Dando's great songwriting really became evident on this 1992 record. It's a heartfelt mixture of sloppy guitars and undeniably catchy pop songs. Their punk roots are showing, but it's the sunshine that really makes everything sound great. Especially on "Rudderless." Some versions of this album contain their hit version of "Mrs. Robinson."" (real music guide)

#684 - 3 Feet High And Rising, De La Soul

"The most inventive, assured, and playful debut in hip-hop history, 3 Feet High and Rising not only proved that rappers didn't have to talk about the streets to succeed, but also expanded the palette of sampling material with a kaleidoscope of sounds and references culled from pop, soul, disco, and even country music." (allmusic guide)

#683 - Midnite Vultures, Beck

"A party record if there ever was one, Midnite Vultures is great fun to listen to, with the wah-wah Funk of "Mixed Bizness" or the Electro-pop of "Get Real Paid." However, Beck is more in his copy-ist mode, playing the role of G-Funk gangsta, Prince and old school hip-hopper, rather than further eking out his own persona." (real music guide)
#694 - Heavy Weather, Weather Report

"Released just as the jazz-rock movement began to run out of steam, this landmark album proved that there was plenty of creative life left in the idiom." (allmusic guide)

#693 - Stories From The City, Stories From The Sea, PJ Harvey

"The album cover's stylish, subtly sexy image suggests what its songs confirm: PJ Harvey has grown up. Direct, vulnerable lyrics replace the allegories and metaphors of her previous work, and the album's production polishes the songs instead of obscuring them in noise or studio tricks." (allmusic guide)

#692 - Lincoln, They Might Be Giants

"Cutting away some of the artier aspects of their debut, They Might Be Giants craft another wildly eclectic and geekily fun collection of alt-pop with Lincoln. In general, the album displays greater musical ambition than its predecessor, especially since the duo have trimmed many of the weirder excesses of the debut." (allmusic guide)

#691 - At Yankee Stadium, NRBQ

"More than just NRBQ's best record, but one of the great records of the '70s (maybe ever!). This album contains the strongest batch of new Q songs on one record, many of them the best and most memorable songs in the band's long and storied career...Yankee Stadium should have been a huge album, but Mercury booted it and never capitalized on the band's fanatical support base." (allmusic guide)

#690 - I Just Can't Stop It, The English Beat

"The English Beat decided to do more than just evoke the sounds of the past on their debut album: they created an original, hybridized world of pop, reggae and ska. "Mirror in the Bathroom" is the key track, but the combination of Dave Wakeling's pop vocals, Rankin' Roger's toasting style, and an amazing rhythm section makes this a solid record." (real music guide)

#689 - Out Of The Blue, Electric Light Orchestra

"Released in 1977, E.L.O.'s ambitious double album Out of the Blue went platinum on the strength of such radio-friendly singles as "Sweet Talkin' Woman" and "Turn to Stone." Although some of the album's highly orchestrated, Beatles-esque pop missed its target, the rest of it ranks among the band's finest moments." (real music guide)
#700 - Guitar Town, Steve Earle

"Released in 1986, Steve Earle's debut is now considered the bridge between 1970s Country Rock and '90s Alt Country. The album's polished production contrasts nicely with the gritty soul of Earle's Americana anthems. Fans and critics alike recognize these tunes as classics." (real music guide)

#699 - Unknown Pleasures, Joy Division

"From the discordant rush of "Disorder," it's clear that this early Joy Division LP is about as emotionally difficult as it gets. Troubled singer Ian Curtis injects songs with the intensity of a man on the verge of a breakdown, and the music follows along, weighted with pain and sighs. A searing, visceral work." (real music guide)

#698 - Truth, Jeff Beck

"Despite being the premiere of heavy metal, Jeff Beck's Truth has never quite carried its reputation the way the early albums by Led Zeppelin did, or even Cream's two most popular LPs, mostly as a result of the erratic nature of the guitarist's subsequent work. Time has muted some of its daring, radical nature, elements of which were appropriated by practically every metal band (and most arena rock bands) that followed." (allmusic guide)

#697 - Jar Of Flies, Alice in Chains

"Where Dirt found catharsis in its unrelenting darkness and depravity, Jar of Flies is about living with the consequences, full of deeply felt reflections on loneliness, self-imposed isolation, and lost human connections. The mood is still hopelessly bleak, but the poignant, introspective tone produces a sense of acceptance that's actually soothing, in a funereal sort of way." (allmusic guide)

#696 - October, U2

"The glaring omission of songs such as "Gloria" and "Rejoice" from the U2's Best Of... makes one think that even the band itself views October as a low. Sure, some of the songs could've benefited from a bit more work, but U2's oft-maligned sophomore album stands tall some twenty years after its release. Rediscover this atmospheric beauty." (real music guide)

#695 - Boomtown, David and David

"It is not an easy album to listen to, as the characters depicted in the songs are often dealing with major problems such as drugs and domestic violence. But it is an artful record, full of poetry and convincing stories of the hard times that many silently endured. At times the record is full of pop hooks, and at other stages a more bleak sound dominates." (allmusic guide)
#709 - A Century Ends, David Gray

"Gray grabs the listener with his poetic lyrics and takes off on an introspective ten-song ride through desperation, regret, lost love, and a longing for change. If A Century Ends is an indicator of things to come, then Gray has the potential to become a prolific singer/songwriter." (allmusic guide)

#708 - Cosmic Thing, The B-52's

"Then there was "Love Shack," an irresistible dance number with delightfully silly lyrics and hooks as big as a whale that unbelievably gave the group a long-awaited Top Ten hit. The thing is, Cosmic Thing would already have been considered a triumphant return without its commercial success. The big sales were just the icing on the cake." (allmusic guide)

#707 - The Allman Brothers Band, The Allman Brothers Band

"Rare is the debut that conveys new ideas with such confidence and in such a fully matured state. When the Allmans released this landmark in 1969, it was as if they had been playing together forever. "It's Not My Cross To Bear" is the blues equivalent of pure bitter pain, while "Whipping Post" is simply one of the greatest rock songs ever written." (real music guide)

#706 - The Charity Of Night, Bruce Cockburn
"Shades of light and shadow play through the album's theme of reflection and memory: Cockburn recalls many events of his past, taking stock and coming to grips with them. It's a very cohesive album in subject, with only the anti-land mine "Mines of Mozambique" seeming out of place (though it's a worthwhile song on its own). The centerpiece of the album is the title song." (allmusic guide)

#705 - Maybe You've Been Brainwashed, Too, The New Radicals

"In 1998, one of the most memorable examples of 1970s-flavored music came from the New Radicals. Although Radicals singer/leader Gregg Alexander was quick to espouse a left-wing point of view, Maybe You've Been Brainwashed Too doesn't beat listeners over the head with a sociopolitical agenda. Nor is the CD an exercise in angry 1990s angst rock." (allmusic guide)

#704 - Going For The One, Yes

"In many ways, this disc could be seen as the follow-up to Fragile. Its five tracks still retain mystical, abstract lyrical images, and the music is grand and melodic, the vocal harmonies perfectly balanced by the stinging guitar work of Steve Howe, Wakeman's keyboards, and the solid rhythms of Alan White and Chris Squire." (allmusic guide)

#703 - The Healing Game, Van Morrison

"Returning to his own work, Morrison seems to want to come to terms with the bitterness sometimes expressed in more recent original albums like Too Long in Exile and Days Like This. That bitterness has not dissipated by any means, as he demonstrates most clearly in "This Weight" and "It Once Was My Life," but now he is at pains to make clear that he became a musician because of a pure, simple joy in music-making." (allmusic guide)

#702 - The Sky Is Crying, Stevie Ray Vaughan

"From the morbidly dark "Boot Hill" to the lilting "Little Wing" to the exuberant tributes to his influences -- Lonnie Mack on "Wham" and Albert King on "The Sky Is Crying" -- Vaughan makes the material resonate, and in light of his death, "The Sky Is Crying" and the touching survivor-story ballad "Life by the Drop" are two of the most moving moments in Vaughan's oeuvre." (allmusic guide)

#701 - Antics, Interpol

"It's a mystery how Interpol can expertly ape the post-punk legacy of early Psych Furs and Joy Division without making a monkey out of the music. The best dressed band in show business actually improves on its heralded debut with a livelier album that's austere, rocking and coldly romantic (instead of just cold)." (real music guide)
#715 - Ram, Paul McCartney

"Paul McCartney's second solo album, Ram -- which was credited as a collaboration with his wife, Linda -- is a more substantial and produced effort, yet it has much of the same homemade charm as its predecessor. Divided between simple pop/rockers and cleverly constructed mini-suites like "Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey" and "Back Seat of My Car," Ram doesn't gel into any major statement, but it has many pleasurable detours." (allmusic guide)

#714 - Los Angeles, X

"Los Angeles is prime X, offering such all-time classics as the venomous "Your Phone's Off the Hook, but You're Not," a tale of date rape called "Johnny Hit and Run Paulene," and two of their best anthems (and enduring concert favorites), "Nausea" and the title track." (allmusic guide)

#713 - Dig Me Out, Sleater-Kinney

"Leaner and more intricate than its predecessor, the record is remarkably confident and mature; instead of succumbing to the pressures of "next big thing" status, the trio finds vindication in all of their critical adulation -- the vocals are even more ferocious, the melodies are even more infectious, and the ideals are even more passionate." (allmusic guide)

#712 - Ophelia, Natalie Merchant

"Like Tigerlily, the songs on Ophelia have hushed, layered arrangements that are outgrowths, not replicas, of 10,000's jangly folk-rock. However, Ophelia lacks the subtle sonic textures and graceful hooks that made Merchant's debut so charming." (allmusic guide)

#711 - Between The Lines, Janis Ian

"This is Janis Ian's second album from her re-emergence in the early to mid-'70s as one of the genre's most inspired and original singer/songwriters. While this title houses Ian's biggest international hit, the confessional "At Seventeen," the entire effort combines her honest and confessional lyrics with an equally engaging blend of pop/rock and definite jazz and blues." (allmusic guide)

#710 - The Colour And The Shape, Foo Fighters

"The full Foo Fighters make Grohl's songs heavier, not punkier, which may be a little unsettling to fans of the debut's ragged, amateurish edge. It's also strange that the album has such a glossy, arena-ready sound, since Grohl's songs are introspective, quite different than the endearing punk-pop of its predecessor." (allmusic guide)
#721 - Transformer, Lou Reed

"Musically, Reed's work didn't have too much in common with the sonic bombast of the glam scene, but at least it was a place where his eccentricities could find a comfortable home, and on Transformer Bowie and his right-hand man, Mick Ronson, crafted a new sound for Reed that was better fitting (and more commercially astute) than the ambivalent tone of his first solo album." (allmusic guide)

#720 - Good News For People Who Love Bad News, Modest Mouse

"Isaac Brock's grasp on mortality is still marked by nervous bits of energy, but never has his group sounded so full and melodious. Even though an array of ornate instruments replaces the scratchy, explosive bits, Modest Mouse retain their original approach to guitar sounds and unique song arrangements." (real music guide)

#719 - Los Lonely Boys, Los Lonely Boys

"Substance and style come together with this Willie Nelson-endorsed Texas brother act. Los Lonely Boys sound the way bands used to sound: like they live for the joy of playing together. They've created border soul music, with Albert King, Jose Alfredo Jimenez and the Beatles their patron saints." (real music guide)

#718 - Live At Red Rocks, Dave Matthews Band

"Live at Red Rocks 8.15.95 shouldn't disappoint fans already familiar with the band's loose-limbed, jazzy live show, but it should come as a revelation to listeners unacquainted with that aspect of Matthews. In fact, the record often sounds livelier and more energetic than its studio counterparts, and that alone makes it a necessary purchase for dedicated fans." (allmusic guide)

#717 - Crowded House, Crowded House

"(Neil) Finn at his best overshadowed this fairly stilted production with his expert songcraft. As it happened, the record was blessed by good timing, and the majestic ballad "Don't Dream It's Over" became an international hit, while its follow-up, the breezy "Something So Strong," also turned into a hit." (allmusic guide)

#716 - A Charlie Brown Christmas, Vince Guaraldi Trio

"Not only is this one of the greatest Xmas albums ever, it's one of the few holiday releases that you can enjoy throughout the year (and it doesn't even matter if you've seen the beloved Peanuts TV special or not!). Guaraldi's original tunes "Linus & Lucy," "Skating" and the oddly melancholy "Christmas Time Is Here" have all become a part of our culture." (real music guide)
#726 - Sailing To Philadelphia, Mark Knopfler

"Knopfler's basic approach remains the same -- as a guitarist, he is still enamored of the minor-key finger-picking style of J.J. Cale, and as a singer/songwriter, he remains enthralled with Bob Dylan. But in one song after another on this album, you get the feeling that he started out playing some familiar song in a specific genre and eventually extrapolated upon it enough to call it an original." (allmusic guide)

#725 - Duke, Genesis

"On Duke, Genesis took a major step away from their art rock past toward commercially acceptable pop music. Not only are the songs shorter here, but the arrangements are less dense, the production is given a pop sheen, and Tony Banks' keyboard work, a hallmark of the group as late as their previous album, is pushed into more of a textural role. As such, it is Phil Collins who comes to the fore here, both as a writer and as bandleader." (allmusic guide)

#724 - Hell Freezes Over, The Eagles

"The Eagles' first newly recorded album in 14 years gets off to a good start with the rocker "Get Over It," a timely piece of advice about accepting responsibility, followed by the tender ballad "Love Will Keep Us Alive," the country-styled "The Girl From Yesterday," and "Learn to Be Still," one of Don Henley's more thoughtful statements." (allmusic guide)

#723 - Home, Dixie Chicks

"With so many Nashville acts playing mainstream pop, the Dixie Chicks' long-awaited sixth album is a refreshing breath of sweet country air. Even their gorgeous cover of Stevie Nicks' "Landslide" gets dressed up with all the rootsy frills that made albums like the O Brother Where Art Thou? soundtrack a phenomenon." (real music guide)

#722 - How Late'll Ya Play 'Til? Vol. 1, David Bromberg Band

"David Bromberg has been such an effective sideman for so long, it could be possible to not notice what a wonderful entertainer the man is when he is at center stage. How Late'll Ya Play 'Til?, Vol. 1 catches Bromberg and a crack band having a fine time on mostly humorous tunes. Of course, Bromberg does play guitar throughout the album, but the real attraction here is his bluesy vocal turns and his razor-sharp comedic timing." (allmusic guide)
#734 - No Need To Argue, The Cranberries

"Where No Need succeeds best is when the Cranberries stick at what they know, resulting in a number of charmers like "Twenty One," the uilleann pipes-touched "Daffodil's Lament," which has an epic sweep that doesn't overbear like "Zombie," and the evocative "Disappointment."" - (allmusic guide)

#733 - Workbook, Bob Mould

"Two years after the final break-up of Husker Du, Bob Mould released his first solo album, Workbook, in 1989. It was a much more rural affair than anything Husker Du every tried to do, but it was also not much of a surprise to anyone. See A Little Light was a minor alt radio hit and, alongside "Wishing Well," one of the best tracks on the record." (real music guide)

#732 - Puzzle, Dada

"Guitar riffs permeate dada's pleasing debut Puzzle, wedded to thick slices of an equally important influence -- 60s psychedelia. The L.A. trio offers plenty to keep the ears busy: the orchestral sadness of "Timothy," and insidious melody of "Dog, " strung-out ravings of "Here Today, Gone Tomorrow, " and over-the-edge teen-angst of "Dizz Knee Land."" (allmusic guide)

#731 - Without A Net, The Grateful Dead

"This two-CD/three-LP collection was the final live title to have been released by the Grateful Dead during their active performance life. The contents were compiled from a six-month window that included some of the Dead's most uniformly strong shows from the fall of 1989 and the spring of 1990. Without a Net -- the group's first live release in practically a decade -- was also the first to benefit from the additional playing time available on compact disc." (allmusic guide)

#730 - Don't Shoot Me I'm Only The Piano Player, Elton John

"On Don't Shoot Me I'm Only the Piano Player, Elton John and Bernie Taupin cover a variety of musical styles, and at first, the album sounds a bit scattered. But whatever the style, the duo succeeds -- thanks in part to lavish string arrangements and heavy-handed production. This album marks Elton's glitzy showbiz entrance and should be in every fan's collection." (real music guide)

#729 - Endtroducing, DJ Shadow

"Though he put in years of work prior to this release, Endtroducing is where most people first heard Shadow. A hypnotic collage of full-bodied drums, swift scratching, and moody, ultra-obscure samples, this record made him an international star. Often pigeonholed as Trip-Hop, Shadow's work is much more diverse than that. Extremely influential and a definite classic." (real music guide)

#728 - Love And Theft, Bob Dylan

"Traversing the musical map, Dylan delivers his most consistent album in almost 20 years. Rough, loose, comfortable, and armed with a parade of strong songs, he and his cracking band dig into all the dustiest aspects of American roots music. Dylan's words roll out easily - and best of all, he sounds like he's having fun." (real music guide)

#727 - Talking With The Taxman About Poetry, Billy Bragg

"While nearly all the tracks on Talking With the Taxman feature Bragg alongside other musicians (among them Johnny Marr and Kirsty MacColl), the arrangements are purposefully spare, and ultimately they sweeten the songs without getting in the way of Bragg's homey melodies or passionate lyrics." (allmusic guide)