Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Blogger Album Project


1. Post your list of the seven best albums, the seven bloggers you will tag, a copy of these rules, and a link back to this page.
2. Each person tagged will put a URL to their Blogger Album Project post along with a list of the seven best albums in the comment section HERE.
3. Feel free to post the “I Contributed to the Blogger Album Project” Award Graphic on your sidebar, along with a link back to this page.
4. Post a link back to the blogger who tagged you.


1. Posted below are my seven best albums of all time. I don't tag people on principle, but those who wish to participate may do so over their own accord. Liberality tagged me.



1. Sly and the Family Stone- There's A Riot Goin' On

In comparison with Sly Stone's earlier, more optimistic work, There's A Riot Goin' On is a muddy, sloppy, pessimistic, occasionally presumptuous masterpiece. Never was the death of the hippie dream and resulting demise of 60's idealism better articulated than this batch of songs. The narcotic grooves and lethargic beat suck you in despite yourself. Sly Stone's drug use and internal tension within the group would eventually lead to its demise and here one sees the beginning stages of that fragmentation.

2. Sloan- One Chord to Another

This Canadian group started out sounding like a poppier version of My Bloody Valentine at the beginning of the 90's, then quickly reverted to the perfect power pop they should have been producing all along. One Chord to Another, ironically enough, was cobbled together in piecemeal fashion, since many of the tracks were written solo by each member without any collaboration at all from the other bandmates. Sloan had been more or less broken up at the time of recording and were beginning to engage in solo projects, but decided to reform to attempt to make a much better group effort. The resulting album was a triumph---successful both critically and commercially in indie circles.

3. Radiohead- OK Computer

Over a decade since its release, Radiohead's third and best album has never been matched by any subsequent group. Released at the end of the Britpop era when alternative music as a whole was waning in popularity, OK Computer is a gloomy, brooding masterpiece. Never bettered, even by Radiohead itself, no single release in all of popular music since then has come close to topping it. Later Radiohead releases eshewed guitar rock in favor of more experimental, electronic sonic textures, but here the results are still conventional enough to reach a huge audience.

4. The Velvet Underground- Loaded

Switching to Atlantic Records, Lou Reed was asked by label brass to write an album "loaded with hits." He complied, writing one radio-friendly song after another. The resulting album was the group's most successful release, though Reed left the band well before Loaded reached its apex of popularity. In comparison with more avante-garde experimental releases which came before it, Loaded was designed for chart success. This is why many Velvet Underground fans find it among their least favorite album, but I happen to believe it otherwise.

5. John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band

Raw, angry, and exposed in a way few album had dared to be before, Plastic Ono Band is one of the best examples of the seventies singer/songwriter genre. At times a painfully harrowing listen, one has to admire the boldness and bravery of its composer, even if one is horrified at the emotional intensity. Lennon made no pretenses at concealing his true feelings on a variety of controversial subjects. While retaining a rather minimalist sound during the sessions, he experimented with a variety of different styles ranging from chug-a-lug rock to protest folk to piano-driven ballads.

A modest commercial success, Plastic Ono Band is nonetheless the best Beatles solo album of all the four. Lennon would never brave being this introspective and shockingly graphic again.

6. The Zombies- Odessey and Oracle

The Zombies started as a successful British Invasion group with two top ten singles, then released a series of disasterous flop 45s. After three frustrating years with minimal chart success and lessening popular appeal, the group decided to call it quits, but not before releasing a final album. With nothing to lose, The Zombies decided to make a album precisely the way they'd always wanted. They were limited slightly during the recording by a modest budget and as a result used a mellotron in place of strings and a live orchestra. One thing can be sure---this album doesn't sound like anything else. Odessey and Oracle was released to almost no notice until Al Kooper, a member of the American group The Electric Flag used his weight and connections to publicize just how good the LP was.

A single "Time of the Season" was pulled from the album and released. It became a monster hit and one of the most popular singles of the 1960's. The Zombies were urged to reform and tour on the strength of the chart success, but they refused. The album still speaks for itself.

7. The Kinks-
Arthur (Or The Decline and Fall of the British Empire)

The Kinks had been very popular at the dawning of the British Invasion, but then morphed from a loud, four power chords band ("You Really Got Me", "All Day and All of the Night") sound not so dissimilar to The Who to an album oriented group with unique arrangements and softer elements. The wistful, literate, melancholic rock of The Kinks in late sixties and early seventies fell upon deaf ears in the UK and in America.

Ray Davies wrote an entire album which was meant to be the soundtrack to a British TV drama. When the TV show fell through, Davies released the album anyway. Full of social criticism, scathing commentary, and uniformly strong songwriting, Arthur arguably showcases Davies most cohesive batch of songs. A modest success in the UK, the album didn't make much of an impression on American audiences. The Kinks returned to the good graces of the record buying public by releasing the single "Lola" two years later, which returned the group to the top of the charts yet again.


Utah Savage said...

This is probably the one place where the young (you) and the old (me) are not quite able to bridge the gap that our ages impose. Jazz and Blues are my home base. All my tastes in music start there. I now and then find new jazz and blues performers, but still I'm anchored to the genre.

Anonymous said...

Kevin, thanks for participating in the Blogger Album Project.  Your selections have been added to the project along with links back to your blog.  Thanks again!