Thursday, August 10, 2017

20 Percent

I was curious how many of the 10 rock music albums you must hear before you die? list on Quora are ones I have actually heard. Honestly, 2. I have heard U2 – The Joshua Tree and Alice in Chains - Dirt. That's it. Except for #8, I know I have heard tunes by each of the bands listed below - I guess that makes me feel better. By the way, this is a baker's dozen (12) instead of 10 albums.
  1. The Beatles – Revolver: The album before Sgt. Peppers, there are a lot of songs with evolving lyrics and orchestration and, of course, amazing song writing. It contains one of my all-time favorite Beatles songs, “Tomorrow Never Knows.”
  2. Jimmy Hendrix – Electric Ladyland: Take all the imaginative writing and orchestrations of The Beatles and condense it into a guitar with effects pedals and studio and you get Jimmy Hendrix at his finest. I could write a book about almost every song.
  3. The Rolling Stones – Sticky Fingers: This was part of their “Golden Age” where every Stones album between 1968 and 1972 was absolutely amazing. This album showcased the talents of new guitarist Mick Taylor. The song “Can’t You Hear Me Knockin’ is one of the few times the Stones perform an impressive long jam on a studio album.
  4. Marvin Gaye – What’s Goin’ On: In the early 1970s African Americans, especially those part of Motown Records, didn’t release concept albums. But that didn’t stop Marvin Gaye. This album combines the beautiful soulful qualities of Gaye’s voice with hard-hitting political messages.
  5. The Who – Quadrophenia: Probably one of their least-known albums (especially in the U.S.) this album is one of the cleanest albums The Who released to date. It features adventurous arrangements (with tastefully added sound effects) and some of Roger Daltrey’s finest singing, especially “Love Rein O’er Me). It’s biggest downside is that most Americans can’t relate to the Brighton Beach riots.
  6. David Bowie – Scary Monsters and Super Freaks: This is the Bowie album that falls between the cracks; not old enough for classic rock but too old (and weird) for 1980s radio. This album was one of Bowie’s darkest and angriest and featured the incredible guitar work of Robert Fripp and an incredibly scary video to the song “Ashes to Ashes.”
  7. The Police – Ghost in the Machine: One of a line of popular album, The Police combined superior musicianship and great songwriting with punk and reggae. This album introduces heavier synthesizers and saxophones, with lyrics that delved into social causes. The drumming on “One World (Not Three)” really showcases Stuart Copeland’s immense skills.
  8. Concerts for the People of Kampuchea: This is a double-album of released in 1981 featuring popular acts from Great Britain. It was a recording of concerts created to raise money for the people of Kampuchea (Cambodia) in the wake of the Khmer Rouge regime. One of my personal favorites was “Hit Me with your Rhythm Stick” by Ian Drury and the Blockheads. I thought the Rockestra was kind of weak.
  9. The Pretenders - The Pretenders: The debut album of The Pretenders, it shows off the talents of lead singer and song-writer Chrissy Hynde and lead guitarist James Honeyman-Scott. Hynde has the unique ability to sound both ballsy and fragile at the same time. Honeyman-Scott really stretches out on the final track, “Mystery Achievement.”
  10. U2 – The Joshua Tree: The fifth album by U2, it greatly expanded the song-writing and vocals of Bono. The video to “Where the Streets Have No Name,” shot on a street in Los Angeles, is a real treat.
  11. Dire Straits – On Any Street: The invariable letdown after Brothers in Arms and the hit “Money for Nothing,” this album (in this author’s opinion) is absolutely flawless in its production. Every song is a mix of Mark Knopfler’s signature guitar picking with others like Vince Gill and Paul Franklin playing pedal steel.
  12. Alice in Chains - Dirt: Now over 25 years beyond, it is easy to forget that there were other bands in the grunge movement besides Nirvana. Dirt combines the raw power of distorted guitars and power chords with truly unique vocals. The opening song “Them Bones” is as subtle as a semi truck hitting a brick wall at 60 mph.

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