i've got the best of interventions

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

885 Greatest Albums Countdown

In the many, many posts below are albums voted on by listeners of WXPN during the fall of 2005. The page with the complete list in several formats can be found here.

If the album title is a link it will play in Rhapsody.

While this has been the biggest undertaking of my short blogging endeavor, it's also been the most educational and rewarding. While looking at and listening to the many albums on the countdown from all different genres, it gave me a chance to do something I've always wanted to do, in a very short period of time; spend time with 'the classics' of rock, jazz, pop and reggae. I can say now that I feel like a more well-rounded and informed music fan because I've listened to The Band's Music From Big Pink and Coltrane's My Favorite Things.

Then there's the fact that the Beatles occupy five of the top ten spots in the countdown. I've always liked the Beatles but was never an enormous fan, but going back and listening to Revolver and Sgt. Pepper's is most enjoyable. They deserve the #1 spot (and all the other albums they had on the countdown).

So what's the future hold for Rhapsody in Blog? Well, I have a lot of things to catch up on and have a growing list of new music to write about. Plus, special thanks to an old friend who is new again for designing my new banner. It was time, don't you think? As always, I welcome the chance to meet and correspond with fellow music fans, so leave me a comment!

Thanks for reading, happy listening and discovering.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

#1 - Abbey Road, The Beatles

"The last Beatles album to be recorded (although Let It Be was the last to be released), Abbey Road was a fitting swan song for the group, echoing some of the faux-conceptual forms of Sgt. Pepper, but featuring stronger compositions and more rock-oriented ensemble work. The group was still pushing forward in all facets of its art, whether devising some of the greatest harmonies to be heard on any rock record (especially on "Because"), constructing a medley of songs/vignettes that covered much of side two, adding subtle touches of Moog synthesizer, or crafting furious guitar-heavy rock." (allmusic guide)

#2 - Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, The Beatles

"The Beatles consciously synthesized such disparate influences as psychedelia, art-song, classical music, rock & roll, and music hall, often in the course of one song. Not once does the diversity seem forced -- the genius of the record is how the vaudevillian "When I'm 64" seems like a logical extension of "Within You Without You" and how it provides a gateway to the chiming guitars of "Lovely Rita"...It's possible to argue that there are better Beatles albums, yet no album is as historically important as this." (allmusic guide)

#3 - Dark Side Of The Moon, Pink Floyd

"Classic Rock radio may have squeezed this one drier than dry, but Dark Side remains an unparalleled achievement (the anal retentive masterpiece has been on the charts for 24 years). Interestingly, one reason Syd Barrett got kicked out in 1968 was his desire to add saxophones and a female singer to the group." (real music guide)

#4 - Born To Run, Bruce Springsteen

"Born To Run was very much a do-or-die effort for Springsteen, and perhaps that's why it has such a bitter quality to it. This time out, the Boss succeeded in capturing a sound big enough to match the epic, cinematic quality of his lyrics. Springsteen has such a rich and varied career; songs such as "Born to Run" and "Thunder Road" are some of his finest moments." (real music guide)
#5 - Blood On The Tracks, Bob Dylan

"If you've ever wondered what a perfect album sounds like, here it is. Dylan's 1975 return to acoustic form set the bar high without retro backpedaling. The first track, inspired by Joni Mitchell's Blue, is perhaps the most romantic narrative he ever wrote and the lyrics on "If You See Her, Say Hello" can kill you." (real music guide)

#6 - The Beatles [White Album], The Beatles

"Each song on the sprawling double album The Beatles is an entity to itself, as the band touches on anything and everything it can. This makes for a frustratingly scattershot record or a singularly gripping musical experience, depending on your view, but what makes the so-called White Album interesting is its mess. Never before had a rock record been so self-reflective, or so ironic." (allmusic guide)

#7 - The Joshua Tree, U2

"U2 joined the pantheon of World's Biggest Rock Bands with an album that deserved its monster sales and instant classic status. Great songs ("Running to Stand Still") and hit singles (the three opening tracks) abound." (real music guide)

#8 - London Calling, The Clash

"The band's masterpiece retains the convincing fire of their earlier LPs, but lets their passion loose across a range of styles. Whether they're playing old-fashioned rock 'n' roll, skanking behind a brass section or letting their love of Reggae shine, each track sounds like a perfectly natural extension of what they always did best: make you dance and think at once." (real music guide)

#9 - Revolver, The Beatles

"All the rules fell by the wayside with Revolver, as the Beatles began exploring new sonic territory, lyrical subjects, and styles of composition. It wasn't just Lennon and McCartney, either -- Harrison staked out his own dark territory with the tightly wound, cynical rocker "Taxman"; the jaunty yet dissonant "I Want to Tell You"; and "Love You To," George's first and best foray into Indian music. Such explorations were bold, yet they were eclipsed by Lennon's trippy kaleidoscopes of sound." (allmusic guide)
#14 - Kind Of Blue, Miles Davis

"The best selling jazz album in history, Kind of Blue sounds better with each passing year. Miles explores modal improvisation with pianist Bill Evans and an incredible cast of musicians. This musical voyage proves that "relaxing" music can also possess incredible depth. The group dynamics are amazing; a perfect release." (real music guide)

#13 - Blue, Joni Mitchell

"Thirty-plus years after its release, Blue is still a revelatory record, defining the Singer-Songwriter idiom even as it demolishes the conventions that came both before and after it. Mitchell is a gargantuan talent and her art was never more evident than on this wrenching and triumphant record. Just look at the cover." (real music guide)

#12 - American Beauty, The Grateful Dead

"Sporting a more full-bodied and intricate sound than its predecessor thanks to the addition of subtle electric textures, the record is also more representative of the group as a collective unit, allowing for stunning contributions from Phil Lesh (the poignant opener, "Box of Rain") and Bob Weir ("Sugar Magnolia"); at the top of his game as well is Jerry Garcia, who delivers the superb "Friend of the Devil," "Candyman," and "Ripple." Climaxing with the perennial "Truckin'," American Beauty remains the Dead's studio masterpiece -- never again would they be so musically focused or so emotionally direct." (allmusic guide)

#11 - Who's Next, The Who

"Striking a balance between lush ballads ("Behind Blue Eyes") and unbelievably loud, crazed, synthesizer-adorned raucousness ("Won't Get Fooled Again"), the Who hit their peak on this 1971 album. Following Tommy, Who's Next marks a return from labored art back to high energy rock 'n' roll, which is what the Who does best." (real music guide)

#10 - Rubber Soul, The Beatles

"Obviously inspired by the folk-rock sound blossoming in the States, the songs on the U.S. Rubber Soul show the influence that the sound of the Byrds and the songwriting of Bob Dylan were having on the Beatles. The songs added from Help! (the pleading acoustic "It's Only Love" and the rollicking opener "I've Just Seen a Face") change the entire feel of the album, making it more earthy and textural. By dropping the piano-driven "Drive My Car" and the stark "Nowhere Man," the U.S. edition stands as a much more organic and warm musical whole." (allmusic guide)
#19 - Blonde On Blonde, Bob Dylan

"Dylan's on a lyrical bender on this album, unleashing line after line of accusatory, unyielding prose that has moments of spot-on brilliance pitted against some ramshackle blues. Sure, he could have used an editor, but "Stuck Inside Of Mobile...," "I Want You" and "Absolutely Five Believers" are just a few of the many faultless tracks here." (real music guide)

#18 - Graceland, Paul Simon

"By searching out South African musicians and collaborators, Paul Simon reconnected with both his audience and the joy of making music. This life-affirming album saw Simon abandoning confessional lyrics while maintaining a personal vision. Graceland has aged much better than other '80s hits such as Born in the USA or Thriller." (real music guide)

#17 - Exile On Main St., The Rolling Stones

"Topping practically every critic's poll as one of the best rock records of all time, with many counting it as the best, Exile came out at a time when people thought the Stones had been taking too many drugs, losing too many friends and making way too much money for too long to really be able to pull off another great record. Well, they did it." (real music guide)

#16 - Highway 61 Revisited, Bob Dylan

"Hands down one of the most important rock records ever, featuring Dylan moving even further away from his street folk start. Large doses of country and blues lay the foundation for his visions of total loss, bitter comeuppance, and pure, last-ditch defiance. A defining moment in rock music that affected pretty much everyone who heard it in 1965." (real music guide)

#15 - OK Computer, Radiohead

"Radiohead have stripped away many of the obvious elements of guitar rock, creating music that is subtle and textured yet still has the feeling of rock & roll. Even at its most adventurous -- such as the complex, multi-segmented "Paranoid Android" -- the band is tight, melodic, and muscular, and Thom Yorke's voice effortlessly shifts from a sweet falsetto to vicious snarls. It's a thoroughly astonishing demonstration of musical virtuosity and becomes even more impressive with repeated listens, which reveal subtleties like electronica rhythms, eerie keyboards, odd time signatures, and complex syncopations." (allmusic guide)
#24 - The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars, David Bowie

"From the slow build of "Five Years" to the final blast of "Rock & Roll Suicide," Bowie's first hit album has only improved with age. FM radio has never stopped playing "Ziggy Stardust" and "Suffragette City" because even if you cut the platform shoes off and wipe the makeup away -- you're still left with incredible rock'n'roll." (real music guide)

#23 - Tapestry, Carole King

"Tapestry has at least four songs that you know by heart. A streamlined, fully-packed showcase of King's genre-defining gift for pop songwriting and a benchmark for '70s AM radio, Tapestry has withstood the test of time far better than Frampton Comes Alive -- the other record everybody and their brother bought in the '70s." (real music guide)

#22 - At Fillmore East (live), The Allman Brothers Band

"If you've never heard the version of "Don't Keep Me Wonderin'" on this live album, then you need to set the volume to 100 and wait for Duane Allman to come blazing in with such ferocity, you'll want to tear your teeth out because he's not around anymore. Then there's an hour of the best blues-rock band ever, nailing everything in sight." (real music guide)

#21 - Pet Sounds, The Beach Boys

"Classics such as "God Only Knows," "Wouldn't It Be Nice," and "Sloop John B" blend into one rapturous symphony that combines 1960s pop, avant-garde arrangements, goofball innocence, and oddly reverential, pained genius. Initially ignored in the U.S., the record was instantly hailed as a masterpiece in the U.K. Paul McCartney still ranks it as the greatest album ever made." (real music guide)

#20 - Moondance, Van Morrison

"Astral Weeks wowed the critics, but it was this upbeat album that captured the public's attention and made Van a high charting man. It features the perennial FM hit "Moon Dance," but every song on the album, from "And It Stoned Me" to "Glad Tidings," rank among Van's best. A jazz, folk and soul-strewn celebration of life's gifts, this is perfect "feel good" music that doesn't insult your intelligence." (real music guide)
#29 - The Wall, Pink Floyd

"Listening to this rich union of artistic endeavor and commercial viability was a rite of passage for suburban teenagers during the '80s. Using themes every teen can relate to (isolation, betrayal, anti-homeworkism), Waters delivered a record, stage show and film that, while of questionable taste, was undeniably what the kids were after in 1979." (real music guide)

#28 - Led Zeppelin IV, Led Zeppelin

"Encompassing heavy metal, folk, pure rock & roll, and blues, Led Zeppelin's untitled fourth album is a monolithic record, defining not only Led Zeppelin but the sound and style of '70s hard rock. Expanding on the breakthroughs of III, Zeppelin fuse their majestic hard rock with a mystical, rural English folk that gives the record an epic scope. Even at its most basic -- the muscular, traditionalist "Rock and Roll" -- the album has a grand sense of drama." (allmusic guide)

#27 - Grace, Jeff Buckley

"Jeff Buckley was many things, but humble wasn't one of them. Grace is an audacious debut album, filled with sweeping choruses, bombastic arrangements, searching lyrics, and above all, the richly textured voice of Buckley himself, which resembled a cross between Robert Plant, Van Morrison, and his father Tim. And that's a fair starting point for his music: Grace sounds like a Led Zeppelin album written by an ambitious folkie with a fondness for lounge jazz." (allmusic guide)

#26 - The Wild, The Innocent & The E Street Shuffle, Bruce Springsteen

"Springsteen's The Wild, the Innocent and the E Street Shuffle was everything fans hoped his sophomore effort would be. Released seven months after his debut, The Wild…. incorporates a variety of upbeat music styles, as his poetic, 20/20 vision brims with optimism. The celebratory highs of songs such as "Rosalita" help make this album a definite classic." (real music guide)

#25 - August And Everything After, Counting Crows

"Counting Crows pretty much opened and shut the door on heartbroken-college-dude- radio-rock-by-way-of-Van-Morrison with this gazillion-selling album. "Mr. Jones" incorporates all the things that make Counting Crows what they are: fantastic songwriting; spot-on, rootsy playing; and Adam Duritz's pained, impassioned vocals." (real music guide)

Monday, October 24, 2005

#34 - Ten, Pearl Jam

"Pearl Jam's debut, Ten, is a seamless merging of hard rock riffs and punk ideals delivered with growling conviction by frontman Eddie Vedder. With an emphasis on anthemic, stadium-sized hooks, the songs "Alive," "Evenflow" and "Jeremy" clicked with radio listeners and MTV watchers bored with hair bands. Ten marks one of the band's strongest releases to date." (real music guide)

#33 - Let It Bleed, The Rolling Stones

"Brian Jones' death and the entry of Mick Taylor cast a shadow over this LP, making it as haunting as it is inspired. The wavering opening notes of "Gimme Shelter" and Keith's vocal on "You Got The Silver" are some of rock's finest moments. Part backwoods blues, part gospel epic, this is a dirty, life-saving record." (real music guide)

#32 - After The Gold Rush, Neil Young

"Everybody always talks about how Neil's second, Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere, is hard rock and After The Gold Rush is some kind coup because he plays acoustic guitar on it. Huh? It's Neil. He could be playing a toilet seat and it would rock -- hard. It would rock harder than the hardest hard rock can rock. That's what this record does." (real music guide)

#31 - Nevermind, Nirvana

"The phenomenon of this record in the early '90s was a definite "before and after" experience. Whether you felt that this album was the apex of alternative music or the beginning of the end, it's hard to deny the strength of these songs. Exceptional pop music, delivered by sludge-dishing punks with just enough polish on them to reinvent radio." (real music guide)

#30 - Aja, Steely Dan

"One of the defining albums of the late 1970s, Aja combines jazz fusion sophistication with sadly cynical observations on modern life. "Peg" was the hit single but "Deacon Blue" gave aging disco hustlers and suburban burnouts "a name when they lose."" (real music guide)
#39 - Are You Experienced?, The Jimi Hendrix Experience

"They say that when Are You Experienced? was released in 1967, it actually scared people. Drenched in echo, panning from left to right every two seconds, howling feedback -- nothing had ever sounded this far out and blown apart. On top of it all there was this big black guy doing things with his guitar that seemed...dirty. Jimi changed the rules with this one." (real music guide)

#38 - Achtung Baby, U2

"Bono & Co's first foray into post-modern Euro pop and cold Kraut rock was one of the 1990s defining monster hits. Songs such as "The Fly" and "Zoo Station" experiment with sound, while "One" may just be their finest romantic ballad." (real music guide)

#37 - Sticky Fingers, The Rolling Stones

"This 1971 tour de force is one of the very best records of the '70s. Working from familiarly bluesy territory, the boys add country honk depression, honing the trademark combination of huckster cynicism and sonic authenticity that marks their best work. The ideas presented on Sticky Fingers were fleshed out and perfected on Exile On Main St." (real music guide)

#36 - Rumours, Fleetwood Mac

"Rumours catapulted Fleetwood Mac to the top of the charts throughout all of 1977, with songs such as "Go Your Own Way," "You Make Loving Fun," "Dreams" and "Don't Stop," providing the band with a handful of stunning, career-defining moments. Without a doubt, Rumours is the must-have Fleetwood Mac album for fans and novices alike." (real music guide)

#35 - Déjà Vu, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young

"Déjà Vu lived up to its expectations and rose to number one on the charts. Those achievements are all the more astonishing given the fact that the group barely held together through the estimated 800 hours it took to record Déjà Vu and scarcely functioned as a group for most of that time. Déjà Vu worked as an album, a product of four potent musical talents who were all ascending to the top of their game coupled with some very skilled production, engineering, and editing." (allmusic guide)
#44 - Court And Spark, Joni Mitchell

"There's rock music, pop music, etc. Then there's Joni Mitchell's flat-out incredible vision, which has ties to the Beat generation, folkies and hippies, but goes so much further than any of them. Her elastic vocal phrasing and even more elastic sense of song structure, not to mention her bizarro yet brilliant guitar playing, really come together on this 1974 release." (real music guide)

#43 - Harvest, Neil Young

"With a little help from the London Symphony Orchestra and some outstanding country rock musicians and singers, Neil Young's most popular album finds him singing about his search for new love, age and mortality, and losing a good friend to heroin abuse. Rich wooden tones and exquisitely layered arrangements bring Harvest's tracks to life." (real music guide)

#42 - Electric Ladyland, The Jimi Hendrix Experience

"Jimi's third and final album with the Experience, Electric Ladyland, is arguably his most experimental and ambitious LP to date. Awash in psychedelic studio wizardry, but still rooted in deep blues, it features key jams such as "Voodoo Chile," "All Along The Watchtower," and "Crosstown Traffic." Undeniably classic." (real music guide)

#41 - Quadrophenia, The Who

"For their second take on the Rock Opera, the Who get deep, examining their roots as Mods and the personality of the band as driven by four individuals. The double album soundtrack, besides thoroughly telling the Who's complex story, contains a number of standout songs ("The Real Me," "5:15," "I'm the One"). It's one of the last truly great albums the Who recorded." (real music guide)

#40 - Layla And Other Assorted Love Songs, Derek and the Dominos

"The guitar riff from "Layla" is arguably Clapton's most famous, but it's the shuffling country rock of "I Looked Away," Clapton's psychic pain (you can hear it), "Bell Bottom Blues," and Duane Allman that make this record the touchstone that it is. Just stay away from the blues standards and be careful not to overlook "I Am Yours."" (real music guide)
#50 - Astral Weeks, Van Morrison

"Astral Weeks was recorded in less than 48 hours with an all-star jazz backing band that Van Morrison didn't know. Yet, it remains one of the greatest albums in the history of popular music. Over an ardent mix of jazz, folk and Celtic rock, Morrison's impassioned, gospel-rich vocals wind their way around words, breathing life into them. A stunning body of work." (real music guide)

#49 - The Band, The Band

"The Band's second album has two songs always on the radio: the stomping "Up On Cripple Creek" and the monumental "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down." While these are great, landmark songs, "When You Awake," "Whispering Pines" and "Across the Great Divide" are among the Band's best songs. Basically any time Richard Manuel is singing you should be listening." (real music guide)

#48 - Physical Graffiti, Led Zeppelin

"Zeppelin treat many of the songs on Physical Graffiti as forays into individual styles, only occasionally synthesizing sounds, notably on the tense, Eastern-influenced "Kashmir." With John Paul Jones' galloping keyboard, "Trampled Underfoot" ranks as their funkiest metallic grind, while "Houses of the Holy" is as effervescent as pre-Beatles pop and "Down by the Seaside" is the closest they've come to country." (allmusic guide)

#47 - Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J., Bruce Springsteen

"Springsteen's debut firmly established him as a potent songwriter and a talent to watch. As songs such as "Growin' Up and "Spirit In the Night" demonstrate, Greetings From Asbury Park, NJ bubbles with all the hunger and enthusiasm befitting a young, newly signed artist. Greater things would follow, but Greetings… certainly set some high standards." (real music guide)

#46 - Car Wheels On A Gravel Road, Lucinda Williams

""Drunken Angel" is just one of the best rock 'n' roll casualty songs ever written. Work in her pronunciation of the word "derelict" and a perfect arrangement that finds the middle ground between Stones-y slop and alt country warmth, and you could listen to this one 10 times in a row and never get bored. There's a reason critics fall over themselves to praise this woman." (real music guide)

#45 - White Ladder, David Gray

"Gray originally released White Ladder himself, after being dropped by EMI. The record was an immediate hit, eventually even breaking in the US after pal Dave Matthews put it out Stateside on his ATO label. The album features Gray's tender songs accompanied by lite techno beats. "Babylon" was the hit." (real music guide)