i've got the best of interventions

Friday, October 14, 2005

#177 - Armed Forces, Elvis Costello & The Attractions

"In contrast to the stripped-down pop and rock of his first two albums, Armed Forces boasted a detailed and textured pop production, but it was hardly lavish. However, the more spacious arrangements -- complete with ringing pianos, echoing reverb, layered guitars, and harmonies -- accent Costello's melodies, making the record more accessible than his first two albums." (allmusic guide)

#176 - Gold, Ryan Adams

"Everyone has their influences, and Adams seems determined to make the most of them on Gold; it's a far more ambitious album than his solo debut, Heartbreaker. The performances are polished, Ethan Johns' production is at once elegant and admirably restrained, Adams is in strong voice throughout, and several of the songs are superb." (allmusic guide)

#175 - Abandoned Luncheonette, Hall & Oates

"The duo's second album from 1973 is a blue-eyed soul delight with fragments of genius. The LP fuses together laid-back folk, analog synths and Philly-style soul harmonies. The big hit here is "She's Gone," but check out the knockout opening track, "When The Morning Comes," as well as "Had I Known You Better Then."" (real music guide)

#174 - Document, R.E.M.

"The first R.E.M. record produced by Scott Litt mixes exuberant rockers with more brooding numbers. The political engagement hinted at in earlier, eco-friendly songs like "Fall On Me" is given freer rein this time out, with mixed results: "Exhuming McCarthy" is so bouncy you don't care what they're singing about, whereas "Welcome to the Occupation" is dull AND didactic." (real music guide)
#181 - Magical Mystery Tour, The Beatles

"The psychedelic sound is very much in the vein of Sgt. Pepper, and even spacier in parts (especially the sound collages of "I Am the Walrus"). Unlike Sgt. Pepper, there's no vague overall conceptual/thematic unity to the material, which has made Magical Mystery Tour suffer slightly in comparison. Still, the music is mostly great." (allmusic guide)

#180 - Harvest Moon, Neil Young

"Right before he had been tagged the "Godfather of Grunge," Neil Young still recorded twangy tunes. While 1992's Harvest Moon may not have sounded like Pearl Jam, but as a follow-up to 1972's Harvest, songs like "From Hank To Hendrix," paint pictures of living twenty years after the canyon rock dream died." (real music guide)

#179 - Four Way Street, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young

"Although imperfect, 4 Way Street is essential for fans of CSN&Y. Its downfall is the way members take their individual turn in the spotlight, sidestepping the sharp harmonies that endeared CSN&Y to us in the first place. On the upside, the remastered version released in 1992 includes Young's "Cinnamon Girl/The Loner" medley and Nash's "King Midas in Reverse."" (real music guide)

#178 - Terrapin Station, The Grateful Dead

"Terrapin Station marks several milestones for the Grateful Dead: It was the band's first studio album in two years, as well as their return to a major label -- in this case Arista Records. More significant however is the use of an outside (read: non-Grateful Dead) producer. This was only the second time in which the Dead did not seize complete control. And the first time in a decade that they would relinquish their production reigns." (allmusic guide)
#185 - All That You Can't Leave Behind, U2

"U2 returned to airwave dominance in 2000 with the release of this -- their 12th album. Powered by the ringing, Trip-Hop-touched "Beautiful Day" and the surging "Elevation," the album furthers the band's near-perfect track record in terms of incorporating contemporary elements into the post-modern pop style they are famous for." (real music guide)

#184 - Every Picture Tells A Story, Rod Stewart

"Rod's potent combination of Sam Cooke, Folk-Rock, and plain old rock 'n' roll was never more perfectly realized than on this, his third record. "Maggie May" became his signature tune, and the title cut rocks with the indefinable spirit that makes all of Stewart's work from this period not just essential, but vital." (real music guide)

#183 - Nashville Skyline, Bob Dylan

"Leaving his trademark nasal inflections behind for a throaty country croon, Dylan delivered this seminal twang-rock album in 1969. Those unfamiliar with this underrated classic will instantly recognize the hit "Lay Lady Lay" as well as the baritone bark of Johnny Cash, who lends his backing vocals." (real music guide)

#182 - John Prine, John Prine

"A revelation upon its release, this album is now a collection of standards: "Illegal Smile," "Hello in There," "Sam Stone," "Donald and Lydia," and, of course, "Angel from Montgomery." Prine's music, a mixture of folk, rock, and country, is deceptively simple, like his pointed lyrics, and his easy vocal style adds a humorous edge that makes otherwise funny jokes downright hilarious." (allmusic guide)
#190 - The Village Green Preservation Society, The Kinks

"As the opening title song says, the Kinks -- meaning Ray himself, in this case -- were for preserving "draft beer and virginity," and throughout the rest of the album, he creates a series of stories, sketches, and characters about a picturesque England that never really was. It's a lovely, gentle album, evoking a small British country town, and drawing the listener into its lazy rhythms and sensibilities." (allmusic guide)

#189 - Girlfriend, Matthew Sweet

"Matthew Sweet's third album is a remarkable artistic breakthrough. Grounded in the guitar pop of the Beatles, Big Star, Byrds, R.E.M., and Neil Young, Girlfriend melds all of Sweet's influences into one majestic, wrenching sound that encompasses both the gentle country-rock of "Winona" and the winding guitars of the title track and "Divine Intervention." Sweet's music might have recognizable roots, but Girlfriend never sounds derivative; thanks to his exceptional songwriting, the album is a fresh, original interpretation of a classic sound." (allmusic guide)

#188 - Can't Buy A Thrill, Steely Dan

"This album started it all for Steely Dan. Tracks such as "Reeling In The Years" were considered ahead of their time, yet appealed to everyone from straight-ahead jazz aficionados to barhopping rock fans. Some tracks, such as "Dirty Work," feature David Palmer on lead vocals rather than bandleader Donald Fagen." (real music guide)

#187 - Closing Time, Tom Waits

"Before he started putting out all those weird (and great) records with midgets on the cover, Waits was interested in the heartbreak of the American Dream and the smell of barrooms in the daytime as this, his debut record, suggests. The first cut is a real stunner, way better than the Eagles cover of it, while the song "Martha" is absolutely one of his finest moments." (real music guide)

#186 - Disraeli Gears, Cream

"Sure, it sounds like it was recorded with a pillow over the mic, but Disreali Gears is still one of the best blues-rock albums ever produced. The trio of Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker mixes up acid visions, heavenly vocals and ripping leads, creating music of depth and complete heavy-osity." (real music guide)
#194 - Skylarking, XTC

"Ironically, Skylarking had little to do with new wave and everything to do with the lush, post-psychedelic pop of the Beatles and Beach Boys. Combining the charming pastoral feel of Mummer with the classicist English pop of The Big Express, XTC expand their signature sound by enhancing their intelligently melodic pop with graceful, lyrical arrangements and sweeping, detailed instrumentation." (allmusic guide)

#193 - Whatever And Ever Amen, Ben Folds Five

"Their second album of cerebral pop (i.e. pop with no guitars) was a huge success based on the effective, solemn "Brick." A strong sense of hooks and a wry way with lyrics is what sets Ben Folds and company ahead of the pack. Even if you've already heard Joe Jackson, this is good stuff." (real music guide)

#192 - American Idiot, Green Day

"The East Bay punk-pop godfathers turn their sights toward the political. After spending a decade-plus being the voice of California youth ennui, the band sets its three-chord genius on big media, gay bashing, the propaganda of fear and "redneck agendas" -- all within three minutes. Turn it up." (real music guide)

#191 - Tracy Chapman, Tracy Chapman

"Arriving with little fanfare in the spring of 1988, Tracy Chapman's eponymous debut album became one of the key records of the Bush era, providing a touchstone for the entire PC movement while reviving the singer/songwriter tradition. And Tracy Chapman is firmly within the classic singer/songwriter tradition, sounding for all the world as if it was recorded in the early '70s -- that is, if all you paid attention to were the sonics, since Chapman's songs are clearly a result of the Reagan revolution." (allmusic guide)
#199 - Out Of Time, R.E.M.

"Where previous R.E.M. records captured a stripped-down, live sound, Out of Time was lush with sonic detail, featuring string sections, keyboards, mandolins, and cameos from everyone from rapper KRS-One to the B-52's' Kate Pierson. The scope of R.E.M.'s ambitions is impressive, and the record sounds impeccable, its sunny array of pop and folk songs as refreshing as Michael Stipe's decision to abandon explicitly political lyrics for the personal." (allmusic guide)

#198 - Fragile, Yes

"The band's breakthrough album, dominated by science-fiction and fantasy elements and new member Rick Wakeman, whose organ, synthesizers, Mellotrons, and other keyboard exotica added a larger-than-life element to the procedings. Ironically, the album was a patchwork job, hastily assembled in order to cover the cost of Wakeman's array of instruments. But the group built effectively on the groundwork left by The Yes Album, and the group had an AM-radio sucker-punch." (allmusic guide)

#197 - The Pretender, Jackson Browne

"...he delivered "The Pretender," a cynical, sarcastic treatise on moneygrubbing and the shallow life of the suburbs. Primarily inner-directed, the song's defeatist tone demands rejection, but it is also a quintessential statement of its time, the post-Watergate '70s; dire as that might be, you had to admire that kind of honesty, even as it made you wince." (allmusic guide)

#196 - Live Dead, The Grateful Dead

"The album's four sides provided the palette from which to replicate the natural ebb and flow of a typical Dead set circa early 1969. Tomes have been written about the profound impact of "Dark Star" on the Dead and their audience. It also became a cultural touchstone signifying that rock music was becoming increasingly experimental by casting aside the once-accepted demands of the short, self-contained pop song." (allmusic guide)

#195 - Silk Degrees, Boz Scaggs

"Boz Scaggs' augmented his solid blues rock credentials and smoky blue-eyed croon with mellow Philly soul strings on his biggest seller. Silk Degrees contains the brilliant, strutting, hipster taunt "Lowdown," the disco-rocking "It's Over" and the megahit "Lido Shuffle," making it the soundtrack to mid-'70s condo life, pool parties and bay cruises." (real music guide)
#204 - Play, Moby

"Although several tracks are based on field recordings made by folklorist Alan Lomax in the early 1900s, one cannot overlook Moby's daring and brilliant success with Play (1999). Abandoning (thankfully) his brief flirtation with alternative rock, he turned to gospel and blues, coming away with a fresh sound and vocal highlights that put him in the pop spotlight." (real music guide)

#203 - Time Out, The Dave Brubeck Quartet

"More than just a brilliant experiment in grafting foreign time signatures to modern jazz, this album also features superb songs, a hit single in the form of the perennial classic "Take Five," and an over-riding feeling of pure joy. This was a crossover popular smash and it also helped free jazz's boundaries." (real music guide)

#202 - Let It Be, The Replacements

"The 'Mats first classic album balances ramshackle, juvenile punkiness with Paul Westerberg's quickly blossoming songwriting talents. "I Will Dare," "Androgynous" and "Unsatisfied" all became fan favorites by turning fragile, private emotions into outward expressions of confusion and need. And they'd get even better than this!" (real music guide)

#201 - In My Tribe, 10,000 Maniacs

"Although it is the band's strongest record, that doesn't mean that it's held up incredibly well. Political correctness and heavy messages are stretched to the breaking point while the smart, jangling, folk-pop arrangements are polished and re-polished. Still, "What's The Matter Here" and "Like The Weather" are simple pleasures." (real music guide)

#200 - Reckoning, R.E.M.

"The sound of an indie band that's been touring incessantly. While the songs are every bit as strange and beautiful as the ones on Murmur, they're also more driving -- tailor-made for a band that can't stop spinning around on stage. Even the slow, sad numbers feature insistent rhythms. "Harborcoat" and "7 Chinese Brothers" are early-period R.E.M. at their best." (real music guide)
#208 = Give It Up, Bonnie Raitt

"Give It Up is filled with great songs, delivered in familiar, yet always surprising, ways by Raitt and her skilled band. For those that want to pigeonhole her as a white blues singer, she delivers the lovely "Nothing Seems to Matter," a gentle mid-tempo number that's as mellow as Linda Ronstadt and far more seductive. That's the key to Give It Up: Yes, Raitt can be earthy and sexy, but she balances it with an inviting sensuality that makes the record glow." (allmusic guide)

#207 - Bookends, Simon & Garfunkel

"The first half of S&G's best original album is a complex song cycle about life and love in modern America, while the second half offers one great tune after another, including "America," "Mrs. Robinson" and "A Hazy Shade of Winter." A dark and beautiful work that has lost little of its power over the years." (real music guide)

#206 - Loaded, The Velvet Underground

"Label head Ahmet Ertegun supposedly asked Lou Reed to avoid sex and drugs in his songs, and instead focus on making an album "loaded with hits." Loaded was the result, and with appropriate irony it turned out to be the first VU album that made any noticeable impact on commercial radio -- and also their swan song, with Reed leaving the group shortly before its release." (allmusic guide)

#205 - Meet The Beatles!, The Beatles

"Meet the Beatles! wasn't simply an album; it gave the intangible yearnings of youth a voice and a face (actually, four voices and four faces), and it created a parallel world where escape was only a turntable away. Today, Meet the Beatles! is a collectible in danger of becoming forgotten, if not for the diligence of Beatles fans around the world." (allmusic guide)
#214 - The Harder They Come, Jimmy Cliff

"In 1973, when the movie The Harder They Come was released, reggae was not on the radar screen of American pop culture. The soundtrack went a ways toward changing that situation. It is a collection of consistently excellent early reggae songs by artists who went on to thrive with reggae's increased popularity and others for whom this is the most well-known vehicle. Jimmy Cliff is both the star of the movie and the headliner on the soundtrack." (allmusic guide)

#213 - The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill, Lauryn Hill

"The solo debut from the Fugee's front-woman, Miseducation topped the charts, won several Grammy awards, and helped jump-start the "neo-soul" revolution. Blending hip-hop, R&B, soul, and pop, it fast became one of 1998's best-selling and most-praised albums. Includes the hit singles "Doo Wop (That Thing)" and "Everything Is Everything."" (real music guide)

#212 - Liege & Lief, Fairport Convention

"For their fourth album, Fairport Convention released what is regarded by many as not only the best record in their history but also one of the seminal English folk-rock albums of all time. This was also the album that marked the transformation of the group from, essentially, a rock band that utilized folk music (in tandem with modern singer/songwriter material) as a source for part of their sound, and an inspiration for their own songwriting, into a group specializing in reinterpreting traditional English songs." (allmusic guide)

#211 - Rumor and Sigh, Richard Thompson

"1991's Rumor and Sigh is arguably the best album for those wanting to sample Thompson's work for the first time. It captures Thompson at the top of his form on all fronts, but also gives his songs just enough polish to make them approachable for the unconverted, and though it's several shades darker than the average adult-contemporary album, it honors Thompson's obsession with romantic despair and the less pleasant quirks of fate without sounding depressing in the process." (allmusic guide)

#210 - In The Court Of The Crimson King, King Crimson

"As if somehow prophetic, King Crimson projected a darker and edgier brand of post-psychedelic rock. Likewise, they were inherently intelligent -- a sort of thinking man's Pink Floyd. Fripp demonstrates his innate aptitude for contrasts, and the value of silence within a performance, even as far back as "21st Century Schizoid Man." The song is nothing short of the aural antecedent to what would become the entire heavy alternative/grunge sound." (allmusic guide)

#209 - It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back, Public Enemy

"After shocking the world with their stellar debut, Yo! Bum Rush The Show, Public Enemy come back even harder on their second full-length. Armed with essential jams like "Don't Believe the Hype," "Night of the Living Baseheads" and "Rebel Without a Pause," Chuck, Flav and co. deliver one of the greatest LPs in hip-hop history." (real music guide)
#220 - Buena Vista Social Club, Buena Vista Social Club

"All of these songs were recorded live -- some of them in the musicians' small apartments -- and the sound is incredibly deep and rich, something that would have been lost in digital recording and overdubbing. Cooder brought just the right amount of reverence to this material, and it shows in his production, playing, and detailed liner notes. If you get one album of Cuban music, this should be the one." (allmusic guide)

#219 - Turnstiles, Billy Joel

"Combining sharp pop instincts with agile piano playing, Joel hits his stride here and rarely misses, from the Phil Spector stylings of the opener, through the lounge atmosphere of "New York State Of Mind," and on to the patented semi-rock of "Angry Young Man." As always, Joel is an outspoken, somewhat unpleasant lyricist, but his talent with a melody cannot be denied." (real music guide)

#218 - L.A. Woman, The Doors

"The Doors would carry on without Jim Morrison but come on, this is the group's finale. Not a great album by any stretch, but it contains some stellar cuts, including the title track, "Love Her Madly" (which missed the top 10!), and the hippy lounge classic "Riders On the Storm" (a wake-up call to off-duty nurses: decline the Cutty Sark refill and head home alone)." (real music guide)

#217 - Tumbleweed Connection, Elton John

"Tumbleweed Connection is a loose concept album about the Old West, and as hokey as that sounds, the album is actually quite good, thanks mostly to the pointed lyrics of Bernie Taupin and Elton's acute sense of expression. In fact, these songs rely on Elton's emotive voice rather than the pop melodies and showmanship for which he'd later become known." (real music guide)

#216 - Wildflowers, Tom Petty

"Under the guidance of producer Rick Rubin, Tom Petty turns in a stripped-down, subtle record with Wildflowers. Coming after two albums of Jeff Lynne-directed bombast, the very sound of the record is refreshing; Petty sounds relaxed and confident. Most of the songs are small gems...several (tracks) match the quality of his best material, making Wildflowers one of Petty's most distinctive and best albums." (allmusic guide)

#215 - Summerteeth, Wilco

"Anyone following Jeff Tweedy's songwriting path since Uncle Tupelo was not surprised when Wilco released Summer Teeth in '99. A lush-sounding record that is more Beach Boys than Hank Williams -- Wilco took the studio-as-instrument approach and created an at-times majestic album that effectively balanced the solemn with the joyous." (real music guide)

Thursday, October 13, 2005

#224 - Heartbreaker, Ryan Adams

"Heartbreaker leaves rock & roll on the shelf in favor of a sound that blends low-key folk-rock with a rootsy, bluegrass-accented undertow, and while the album's production and arrangements are subtle and spare, they make up in emotional impact whatever they lack in volume." (allmusic guide)

#223 - (What's The Story) Morning Glory, Oasis

"As musicians, Oasis are hardly innovators, yet they have a majestic grandeur in their sound that makes ballads like "Wonderwall" or rockers like "Some Might Say" positively transcendent. Alan White does add authority to the rhythm section, but the most noticeable change is in Liam Gallagher. His voice sneered throughout Definitely Maybe, but on Morning Glory his singing has become more textured and skillful." (allmusic guide)

#222 - Catch A Fire, Bob Marley & The Wailers

"Catch a Fire was the major label debut for Bob Marley and the Wailers, and it was an international success upon its release in 1973. Although Bob Marley may have been the main voice, every member of the Wailers made valuable contributions and they were never more united in their vision and sound." (allmusic guide)

#221 - Ladies Of The Canyon, Joni Mitchell

""Big Yellow Taxi" and "Woodstock" are among Mitchell's most famous songs but the monumental songwriter had her best material ahead of her when this came out in 1970. The real rewards of the album are in marking Mitchell's growth as an artist and catching the flashes of that experimental nature that made her subsequent records such events." (real music guide)