i've got the best of interventions

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

#58 - Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, Wilco

"The esoteric but alluring collage of sounds on Wilco's latest earned them the #6 spot on our Best of 2002 poll. The songs traverse styles, from the bleak "I Am Trying To Break Your Heart" to the perky "Heavy Metal Drummer," all the while retaining Wilco's signature pawnshop- guitar- run- through- a- dozen- effects- pedals sound." (real music guide)

#57 - What's Going On, Marvin Gaye

"A 1971 masterpiece, What's Going On's influence has endured since its release. A concept album that explores social problems and human relationships, the album paradoxically spawned three No. 1 hits and has never ceased influencing Soul. Gaye is in fine form, and songs such as the title track and "Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)" are part of America's cultural fabric." (real music guide)

#56 - Darkness On The Edge Of Town, Bruce Springsteen

"Coming three long, litigation-filled years after Born to Run, Springsteen returned, bloodied but unbowed, with Darkness on the Edge of Town. Slightly worse for wear, the Boss' voice drips with bitterness as he sings about desperate, down-on-their-luck characters. Yet another classic, blue-collar offering from one of America's most gifted singer-songwriters." (real music guide)

#55 - Tommy, The Who

"The Who's 1969 Rock Opera, Tommy, launched the band to even higher levels of stardom. Nearly all twenty-four songs were written by Townshend, including "Pinball Wizard," "I'm Free," and the epic-length "Underture." The story of a deaf-mute-blind boy who happens to be a wiz at pinball inspired a movie, a Broadway show and, naturally, a pinball machine." (real music guide)
#65 - Under The Table And Dreaming, The Dave Matthews Band

"On their major-label debut, Under the Table and Dreaming, the Dave Matthews Band is helped by the lean production of Steve Lillywhite, who manages to rein in the group's tendency to meander. The result is a set of eclectic pop/rock that is accentuated by bursts of instrumental virtuosity instead of being ruled by it." (allmusic guide)

#64 - Purple Rain, Prince & The Revolution

"The album that launched Prince into the mainstream on a catapult wire. He stripped down some of his trademark funk's heavier overtones, and dressed it back up with infectious pop hooks and heavy metal guitar licks. At once organic and ornate, this revolutionary album proved more successful than the film of the same name." (real music guide)

#63 - Led Zeppelin, Led Zeppelin

"Taking the heavy, distorted electric blues of Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck, and Cream to an extreme, Zeppelin created a majestic, powerful brand of guitar rock constructed around simple, memorable riffs and lumbering rhythms. But the key to the group's attack was subtlety: it wasn't just an onslaught of guitar noise, it was shaded and textured, filled with alternating dynamics and tempos." (allmusic guide)

#62 - Little Earthquakes, Tori Amos

"Tori Amos' greatest strength is her ability to move listeners with confessional lyrics that both attract and repel. On Little Earthquakes, she uses sparse arrangements to create an atmosphere thick with loneliness -- perfect for the unnervingly direct lyrics that examine rape, sexuality, coming of age and betrayal." (real music guide)

#61 - Crash, The Dave Matthews Band

"Fusing together folk-rock, worldbeat, jazz, and pop, the band is arguably the most musically adept of all their contemporaries...the band continues to get better -- their musical cross-breeding is effortless and seamless -- they often don't have an attractive frame for their skills. Strangely, the lack of memorable melodies doesn't particularly hurt the album -- it actually emphasizes the band's instrumental talents." (allmusic guide)

#60 - Automatic For The People, R.E.M.

"A sober, introspective collection -- as if the kids who wrote "Perfect Circle" in 1983 decided to make an album full of songs just like that. Only now they're famous grown ups who can afford string sections and have actually watched friends die. Not every track is successful, but most are, and a few achieve a majesty unlike anything else the band has ever recorded." (real music guide)

#59 - Eat A Peach, The Allman Brothers Band

"This was the band's tribute to Duane Allman, who died less than a year before its release. Listening to him scale the fret board on the 33-minute long "Mountain Jam" is almost an album unto itself. And of course the sweeping "Melissa" and bouncy strut of "One Way Out" also helped make this album a tried and true classic." (real music guide)
#69 - Sweet Baby James, James Taylor

"Taylor's sense of wounded hopelessness -- "I'm all in pieces, you can have your own choice," he sings in "Country Road" -- struck a chord with music fans, especially because of its attractive mixture of folk, country, gospel, and blues elements, all of them carefully understated and distanced. Taylor didn't break your heart; he understood that it was already broken, as was his own, and he offered comfort." (allmusic guide)

#68 - Led Zeppelin II, Led Zeppelin

"While Led Zeppelin II doesn't have the eclecticism of the group's debut, it's arguably more influential. After all, nearly every one of the hundreds of Zeppelin imitators used this record, with its lack of dynamics and its pummeling riffs, as a blueprint." (allmusic guide)

#67 - My Aim Is True, Elvis Costello

"The 1977 debut album that introduced the world to Elvis Costello. The recording can hardly contain the sputtering, Punk energy of this young man. Yet when Costello slows down for the track "Alison," it's obvious that this voice was going to be around for a long, long time. An essential recording." (real music guide)

#66 - The Bends, Radiohead

"Fans and critics often are divided on which Radiohead album is the best, The Bends or OK Computer -- but it's not necessarily an either/or proposition as both are strong releases. Setting withered, angst-riddled lyrics to solid, chunky melodies, The Bend bucks "one-hit wonder" tags, while its expansive, soaring feel points to what's in the future." (real music guide)
#74 - Crosby, Stills & Nash, Crosby, Stills & Nash

"With their stunning harmonies, Crosby Stills & Nash's self-titled effort is an impressive debut for this trio, whose collective resumes include the Byrds, Buffalo Springfield and the Hollies. The socially conscious lyrics may date Crosby Stills & Nash a bit, but elegantly crafted songs such as "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes" and "Wooden Ships" are timeless, potent gems." (real music guide)

#73 - Late For The Sky, Jackson Browne

"Browne found his voice on his third album as he explores the thin line between fantasy and reality following the sad trajectory of a love affair in its final days. Almost a song suite about romantic illusion and delusion, his sheer, perfect poetry doesn't soften the blow, but sometimes you just have to purge the pain with tears. The quintessential break-up album." (real music guide)

#72 - Waiting For Columbus, Little Feat

"The versions on Waiting are full-bodied and fully-realized, putting the studio cuts to shame. Early classics like "Fat Man in the Bathtub" and "Tripe Face Boogie" aren't as revelatory, but it's still a pleasure to hear a great band run through their best songs, stretching them out and finding new quirks within them." (allmusic guide)

#71 - Animals, Pink Floyd

"Possibly the coldest music ever committed to tape, Animals is a negative trip with unbelievably cool guitars (four minutes into "Dogs" and all of "Sheep"), brain-shattering synthesizers (animal sounds continually turn into coded messages from the Grim Reaper) and songs longer than should be legally allowed. Still, it's near perfect." (real music guide)

#70 - Fumbling Towards Ecstasy, Sarah McLachlan

"A somber, spooky record released at the start of McLachlan's rise to fame. This strong set of atmospheric, well-crafted songs was so far from what McLachlan's supposed contemporaries (Alanis Morissette, Sheryl Crow) were doing at the time that people could not help but pay attention. The intensity of "Possession" didn't hurt, either." (real music guide)
#79 - A Love Supreme, John Coltrane

"It's one thing to attempt to write and then improvise an epic aural poem to man's place in God's divine plan, but Coltrane pulls it off beautifully. A Love Supreme goes from free jazz to hard bop to genre-of-one gospel music, and yet Coltrane brings you into this moving, deeply felt work instead of using the piece as an exercise in ego." (real music guide)

#78 - A Rush Of Blood To The Head, Coldplay

"On their sophomore release, Coldplay ace the difficult task of hanging onto their original fan base while proving wrong those who initially wrote the band off as Radiohead-lite. A Rush of Blood To the Head is a solid collection of confidently played life's-gone-wrong songs, highlighted by "Clocks" and "In My Place."" (real music guide)

#77 - Making Movies, Dire Straits

"Dire Straits' great step foreword, this was also a career best for the band. Mark Knopfler keeps the group's rootsy feel but implants it into rockers that have the cinematic sweep hinted at in the album title. This wasn't a big hit at first, but the tracks "Tunnel of Love," "Romeo & Juliet," "Expresso Love" and "Skateaway" earned FM airplay – and new Dire Straits fans." (real music guide)

#76 - Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Elton John

"Elton John's 1973 masterpiece has been called "a concept album without a concept." The eclectic mix of tunes proves he's a master of many styles: he bashes out prog-rock ("Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding"), pop anthems ("Bennie and the Jets"), melancholy balladry ("Candle in the Wind") and more with equal aplomb." (real music guide)

#75 - Synchronicity, The Police

"Radio singles such as "King of Pain," "Wrapped Around Your Finger," and "Every Breath You Take" lend Synchronicity a weighty, greatest hits-type air. And while there's no arguing that these are some of the band's biggest hits, long-time fans may have trouble appreciating the mushy, AOR sound." (real music guide)
#84 - Appetite For Destruction, Guns N' Roses

"One of the most important and influential records of the 1980s. The sleaze rock menace that was GNR's specialty had gone the way of the dinosaur until Appetite came out and the band flattened America like a steamroller. Sixteen years later, the album still rocks harder than anything else on the radio." (real music guide)

#83 - Bridge Over Troubled Water, Simon & Garfunkel

"This was S&G's biggest selling album by a few million copies, but it's actually their least cohesive work. That's not to say there isn't plenty of pop perfection here, including "The Oldest Living Boy in New York," "The Boxer" and the moving title track (which Smokey Robinson has called the best black spiritual ever written)." (real music guide)

#82 - Europe '72, The Grateful Dead

"The Grateful Dead commemorated their first extended European tour with an extravagant triple-LP set appropriately enough titled Europe '72. This collection is fashioned in much the same way as their previous release -- which had also been a live multi-disc affair. The band mixes a bevy of new material -- such as "Ramble on Rose," "Jack Straw," "Tennessee Jed," "Brown-Eyed Woman," and "He's Gone" -- with revisitations of back-catalog favorites." (allmusic guide)

#81 - Close To The Edge, Yes

"Close to the Edge comprised just three tracks, the epic "And You and I" and "Siberian Khatru," plus a side-long title track that represented the musical, lyrical, and sonic culmination of all that Yes had worked toward over the past five years. Close to the Edge would make the Top Five on both sides of the Atlantic, dispatch Yes on the longest tour of its career so far and, if hindsight be the guide, launch the band on a downward swing that only disintegration, rebuilding, and a savage change of direction would cure." (allmusic guide)

#80 - Born In The U.S.A., Bruce Springsteen

"Seven must be the Boss' lucky number because this, his seventh album, culled seven Top-10 singles. One of the biggest-selling albums of all time, Born in the U.S.A. reflects the Reagan-led '80s with despair and disenfranchisement, setting it to an anthemic, arena rock sound. Fans and casual listeners alike should start with this breakthrough album." (real music guide)
#88 - Hejira, Joni Mitchell

"Some records are meant to be listened to, some danced to. Hejira is meant to be absorbed. With doomed Jaco Pastorius making an appearance and Mitchell's usual predilection for putting jazz and folk together in overdrive, this is the singer-songwriter's most adventurous album. If there is a cooler song than "Coyote," we can't find it." (real music guide)

#87 - Axis: Bold As Love, The Jimi Hendrix Experience

"Jimi moved deeper into the galaxy with Axis, his second deathblow aimed squarely at "straights" and "suits." There are no bad Hendrix songs; the only problem is when you think of how he might have felt had he seen how his spirit is exploited and how many "suits" know his music by heart today (all of them). Hendrix couldn't have wanted that." (real music guide)

#86 - Come Away With Me, Norah Jones

"A striking and seductive mix of pop, jazz, country, folk and blues. Jones' voice and piano playing are superb but so are the rich and layered guitars courtesy of Bill Frisell and others. Finally, the diverse fans of the Cowboy Junkies, Shelby Lynne, Rickie Lee Jones and Cassandra Wilson have an artist they can all embrace." (real music guide)

#85 - Tea For The Tillerman, Cat Stevens

"Tea for the Tillerman was the story of a young man's search for spiritual meaning in a soulless class society he found abhorrent. He hadn't yet reached his destination, but he was confident he was going in the right direction, traveling at his own, unhurried pace. The album's rejection of contemporary life and its yearning for something more struck a chord with listeners in an era in which traditional verities had been shaken." (allmusic guide)
#95 - Music From Big Pink, The Band

"Music From Big Pink bumps and bounces with all that came before it and nothing that was to come after it -- because nothing like it ever did. A tragic, hilarious trip through the history of American music, this record positively breathes. In one motion the Band created and sealed forever a genre all their own." (real music guide)

#94 - Before These Crowded Streets, Dave Matthews Band

"Here, everything hangs out. Old trademarks, like jittery acoustic grooves and jazzy chords, are here, augmented by complex polyrhythms, Mideastern dirges, and on two tracks, the slashing strings of the Kronos Quartet. Some fans may find the new, darker textures a little disarming at first, but they're a logical extension of the group's work, and in many ways, this sonic daring results in the most rewarding album they've yet recorded." (allmusic guide)

#93 - The Unforgettable Fire, U2

"With help from Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois, U2 created an album that, in losing the Post-Punk guitar, gained instead a gentle, epic moving sound that was both warm and completely emotional. Despite some lyrical pretensions, this is a stunning, beautiful record." (real music guide)

#92 - The Queen Is Dead, The Smiths

"With this album, the Smiths proved for certain that the Morrissey/Marr combination was one that could rival any of the great musical partnerships. Sounding confident as they rip through the title track and then on to the staggeringly well-crafted songs "The Boy With The Thorn In His Side" and "There Is A Light That Never Goes Out." This is a gorgeous record." (real music guide)

#91 - Velvet Underground & Nico, The Velvet Underground

"One would be hard pressed to name a rock album whose influence has been as broad and pervasive as The Velvet Underground and Nico. While it reportedly took over a decade for the album's sales to crack six figures, glam, punk, new wave, goth, noise, and nearly every other left-of-center rock movement owes an audible debt to this set. While The Velvet Underground had as distinctive a sound as any band, what's most surprising about this album is its diversity." (allmusic guide)

#90 - Hotel California, The Eagles

"This is how country rock sounds in its most commercialized success. By 1976 Gram Parsons was turning in his grave as his old Flying Burrito Brother, Bernie Leadon was replaced by Joe Walsh for this multi-platinum classic that birthed hits like "New Kid In Town" and "Life In The Fast Lane" (and of course the title track)." (real music guide)

#89 - Murmur, R.E.M.

"Possibly the most modest-sounding album ever to start a revolution, Murmur's chiming guitar riffs and mumbled lyrics inspired a generation of bands. Featuring re-recorded versions of the songs from their debut single, plus ten equally impressive (and just as unintelligible) tracks, it sounded at once like nothing anybody else was doing and something anyone could do." (real music guide)
#102 - Rites of Passage, The Indigo Girls

"Though not what you'd call polished or slick, Rites of Passage introduces a sound and structure that are a touch more refined than previous albums by Indigo Girls. Thanks to producer Peter Collins and a slew of amazing guests, including Jackson Browne, David Crosby, the Roches, and Lisa Germano, the added harmonies and diverse instrumentation put on a whole other spin." (allmusic guide)

#101 - The Doors, The Doors

"A tremendous debut album, and indeed one of the best first-time outings in rock history, introducing the band's fusion of rock, blues, classical, jazz, and poetry with a knockout punch. The lean, spidery guitar and organ riffs interweave with a hypnotic menace, providing a seductive backdrop for Jim Morrison's captivating vocals and probing prose." (allmusic guide)

#100 - Aqualung, Jethro Tull

"This was the album that made Jethro Tull a fixture on FM radio, with riff-heavy songs like "My God," "Hymn 43," "Locomotive Breath," "Cross-Eyed Mary," "Wind Up," and the title track...Mixing hard rock and folk melodies with Ian Anderson's dour musings on faith and religion (mostly how organized religion had restricted man's relationship with God), the record was extremely profound for a number seven chart hit, one of the most cerebral albums ever to reach millions of rock listeners." (allmusic guide)

#99 - Workingman's Dead, The Grateful Dead

"After almost falling off the edge of their own psychedelic planet, the Grateful Dead rode off into the sunset, venturing into the high lonesome sound of country rock. More high than lonesome, Workingman's garnered two radio hits with the bouncy, folkie "Uncle John's Band" and the country-funk strut of "Casey Jones."" (real music guide)

#98 - Bringing It All Back Home, Bob Dylan

"Dylan's first stab at electric rock 'n' roll incensed folkies back in 1965, but no one can deny the impact the music had on everything that came after it. This is where his careening take on America's past really came together. He was never so harsh as in "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue" and never so far out as in "It's Alright Ma."" (real music guide)

#97 - This Year's Model, Elvis Costello & The Attractions

"1978's This Year's Model remains one of that blistering rock year's most indelible albums. Orwellian even when not directly alluding to the great man (a sly nod to 1984 on "Living in Paradise"), the 22-year-old and band crashed through the raging anti-party of "Pump It Up" ("When you don't really need it"), the perverted Spectorisms of "Hand in Hand," the punk manifesto "Radio, Radio," and the stylishly anti-fashion "This Year's Girl" (in the season of Suzanne Somers, no less) with no less force than the Clash. Probably his greatest, most elegantly imagined and rendered long-player." (amazon editorial guide)

#96 - Disintegration, The Cure

"Just when it seemed the Cure had become as widely accepted as possible with Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me, they released this album in 1989. Disintegration brought the band into arenas on the strength of the tracks "Pictures Of You" and "Love Song." It showed what long-time fans already knew -- Robert Smith was a fantastic guitarist who wrote beautiful songs." (real music guide)
#107 - Life's Rich Pageant, R.E.M.

"Where previous records kept the rhythm section in the background, Pageant emphasizes the beat, and the band turns in its hardest rockers to date, including the anthemic "Begin the Begin" and the punky "Just a Touch." But the cleaner production also benefits the ballads and the mid-tempo janglers." (allmusic guide)

#106 - Let It Be, The Beatles

"The album is on the whole underrated, even discounting the fact that a substandard Beatles record is better than almost any other group's best work. McCartney in particular offers several gems: the gospel-ish "Let It Be," which has some of his best lyrics; "Get Back," one of his hardest rockers; and the melodic "The Long and Winding Road."" (allmusic guide)

#105 - Innervisions, Stevie Wonder

"Released just three years after Signed Sealed Delivered, Innervisions shows Wonder's maturation as a songwriter. The stellar "Living For the City" and "Higher Ground" practically leap off the vinyl, and "Don't You Worry 'Bout A Thing" keeps the humor rolling. The work of a man profoundly grappling with the realities of racism and economic disparity." (real music guide)

#104 - Doolittle, The Pixies

"The Pixies' finest combines Black Francis' maniacal glee with pop structure and loads of deranged melodies. One of the great guitar albums of all time -- from the catharsis of "Tame" through the perfection of "Here Comes Your Man," the album never falters. Without it, rock in the '90s would have been drastically different." (real music guide)

#103 - Houses Of The Holy, Led Zeppelin

"Jimmy Page's riffs rely on ringing, folky hooks as much as they do on thundering blues-rock, giving the album a lighter, more open atmosphere. While the pseudo-reggae of "D'Yer Mak'er" and the affectionate James Brown send-up "The Crunge" suggest that the band was searching for material, they actually contribute to the musical diversity of the album. "The Rain Song" is one of Zep's finest moments, featuring a soaring string arrangement and a gentle, aching melody." (allmusic guide)