Friday, May 25, 2018

Weekend Listomania: Special How Do You Say Self-Indulgent in French? Edition

[This started a week or so ago as a sort of parlor game over at Facebook, but at some point it occurred to me it would be appropriate to post the equivalent over here. In any case, enjoy. -- S.S.]

Okay, kids here we go.

The Post-Elvis Songs or Albums -- In Any Genre Whatsoever -- That Totally Changed Your Life!!!

Excluding the Canonical BeatlesByrdsStonesWhoDylanKinksBeachBoysSpringfieldZombiesBigStar Etc. That Everybody Likes, or Should!!!

And my not at all top of my head Top Ten exemplars of same are...

10. John Cale -- Paris 1919

Or as we call it at Casa Simels, "Procol Harum meets Little Feat and the Velvet Underground, and then they all go out for dinner at Maxims."

9. Richard X. Heyman -- Actual Sighs

Why, you ask? Well, here's my review of the album that masterpiece song derives from.

8. The Loud Family -- Plants and Birds and Rocks and Things

The closest thing to the side two medley of Abbey Road as has ever been achieved by anybody.

7. Lothar and the Hand People -- Presenting...

The first synth pop record and by far still the best (and the band were really snazzy dressers, too). These guys were the coolest underground act in NYC back in their day, and I was lucky enough to see them open for The Byrds at the Village Gate in 1966. So there.

6. George Gershwin/Michael Tilson Thomas -- Rhapsody in Blue

The ghost of the composer (via piano roll) with live accompaniment by a simpatico conductor using Gershwin's original small jazz band orchestration (rather than the familiar traditional full orchestra version by Ferde Grofe). And Gershwin plays it like a jazz guy.

5. The Firesign Theatre -- Don't Crush That Dwarf, Hand Me The Pliers

True stories of working people as told by rich Hollywood stars!

From my liner notes to the FT box set:
Remarkable as How Can You Be was, however, it hardly prepared the group's now sizeable audience for the next Firesign Theatre release, 1970's Don't Crush That Dwarf, Hand Me The Pliers. Here, everything came together - the parodies of TV commercials and televangelists ("We had our knives sharpened for television on Dwarf," Austin says), the post-modern self-referential touches (you hear the other side of a phone conversation previously heard on Nick Danger, the mastery of sound effects and music (The B-movie takeoff, High School Madness, sounds astonishingly like the real soundtrack to some half-remembered Monogram youth film of the '40s). But what hit hardest for many listeners was Dwarf's unprecedented ending, in which the protagonist, old actor George Leroy Tirebiter (named after a locally famous dog who used to chase cars at USC) wakes up in front of his TV all alone on the top of the hill in sector R, then dashes out to chase a stray ice cream truck, his voice trailing off into childhood as he fades into the distance. By this point, of course, people expected funny from the Firesign Theatre; inexplicably moving was something else completely.

4. Howlin' Wolf -- The London Howlin' Wolf Sessions

Yes -- skinny, pasty-faced white boys can play the blues authoritatively, without embarrassing themselves in the company of the titans of the genre.

Also: Bill Wyman, Charlie Watts, and Ian Stewart -- no better rhythm section ever existed for this music.

3. Bruce Springsteen -- Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J.

I'll take a wild stab here and suggest that anybody who's been reading my poor scribblings over the years is totally shocked -- SHOCKED!!! -- at this particular entry.

2. Moby Grape -- Moby Grape

The greatest American debut album of all time. A fantastically exciting three guitar attack, they all sang (brilliantly) and they all wrote (even more brilliantly). Plus, they had a punk rock attitude -- as Greil Marcus famously said, their best recordings sounded less like songs and more like gang fights.

And my number one choice, there was never a moment's doubt in my mind about its inclusion, is obviously --

1. The Replacements -- Let it Be

I had never heard of or listened to these guys until my brilliant colleague Glenn Kenny (now a film critic over at the New York Times) did a 1984 piece on the album for the Village Voice. They sounded like my cup of tea, so I borrowed somebody's copy of the LP and gave it a spin. And nothing was the same afterwards. This was to me, and still is, what rock-and-roll is supposed to sound like -- passionate, funny, heartbreaking, melodic, snotty, and really fucking loud.

Alrighty, then -- what would YOUR choices be?

And have a great weekend, everybody!!!


edward said...

I think you broke your own rules by including Springsteen, but since you did I'll double down on Spirit In The Night

Watching the Detectives -Elvis Costello and the Attractions. First two albums the most influential in my life outside of Dylan and Springsteen
Roadrunner - The Modern Lovers, which lead to discovering Jonathan Richman and many hours of fun.
Romeo is Bleeding - Tom Waits. I've been a follower for years, but this turned me into a fan, though the double whammy of Swordfish Trombones/Rain Dogs was probably the more life changing combo.
Stop Your Sobbing - Pretenders. Need I say more? Also, was played for months on WHFS before their album was released stateside.
Crimson and Clover - Tommy James and the Shondells. Just hit 12 year old me in the perfect place at the perfect time and so reminds me of a warm gray winter day on the beach in Hawaii.

Well, this could turn into a therapy session, so I'll quit now.

Anonymous said...

King Crimson - In the Court of
Aerosmith - Get Your Wings
Keith Jarrett - Bremen/Lausanne
The Cure - Happily Ever After (1981 combo of their previous 2 recs)
Everything but the Girl - s/t (the US version of "Eden")
Tuatara - Flying Nun Records' first compilation
Gorecki's 3rd
My Bloody Valentine - Isn't Anything (actually, the B-side "Cigarette in Your Bed" did it for me)
Nanci Griffith - Once in a Very Blue Moon
Fleetwood Mac - Bare Trees

J. Lewellen said...

David Johansen - "Donna"
Gary Stewart - Out of Hand
Sonic's Rendezvous Band - "City Slang"
The Real Kids - S/T
Michael Hurley & Co. - Have Moicy!
Neil Young - "Danger Bird"
Destroy All Monsters - "Bored"

Lastly, Jim Dickinson and the Catmando Quartet - "Shake 'Em On Down." A firestorm of a record.

buzzbabyjesus said...

Four of yours are also mine, and I see others in the comments.
Here's mine:
Little Feat "Sailin' Shoes"
Roy Harper "HQ"
Richard Thompson "Henry The Human Fly"
Red Red Meat "Bunny Gets Paid"
U-Roy Dread Ina Babylon
Genesis "Foxtrot"

buzzbabyjesus said...

And more recently:
St Vincent "St Vincent"

BG said...

Yardbirds: "Having a Rave-Up" --- wait, that's a GUITAR???
Love: "Love" --- THAT's how you do "My Little Red Book"
Steely Dan: "Pretzel Logic" --- is it jazz? Is it rock? Who cares?
Grateful Dead: "Skull and Roses" --- specifically, "Not Fade Away" -> "Goin' Down The Road Feelin' Bad"
Jefferson Airplane: "Surrealistic Pillow" --- between Gracie, the songwriting and the musicians, my tiny mind was blown
U2: "Achtung, Baby" --- the only album I think of as musically circular; you can start anywhere

Gummo said...

So if we're excluding the "classic rock" greats....

Patti Smith - S/T
The Ramones - S/T
Pere Ubu - Modern Dance
Talking Heads - S/T

All of the above were 'I've never heard ANYTHING like that before' moments that, one way or another, changed how I listened to music.

Prince - 1999
U2 - Sunday Bloody Sunday (extended 12" single)

Loaded - Velvet Underground
Fear - John Cale (very cool to see a Cale album on your list, too)

Mark said...

10. Spottiswoode and His Enemies, ENGLISH DREAM (2014, Old Soul). Reminded me how much joy and art and wisdom can be shoved into one album from an arty band that works at its craft and still gets no attention.

9. Elliott Murphy, AQUASHOW (1973, Polydor). Made me realize that the American dream (with its pros and cons) is at the center of rock, and that I prefer dreams that are less panoramic and more Beat-influenced. Hey, I grew up in New York City, and not New Jersey. We drove cars, but we also took subways.

8. Sparks, EXOTIC CREATURES OF THE DEEP (2008, Columbia). With each successive album, Sparks confirms to me the role wit plays in rock. The best of many killer Sparks albums.

7. Mott The Hoople, BRAIN CAPERS (1972). Reminded me that being at the top of your game often goes underappreciated.

6. Chad and Jeremy Of CABBAGES AND KINGS (1967, Columbia). Made me understand that art and commerce in pop music could stand side-by-side, even if such art didn’t always result in sales.

5. The Dandy Warhols, THE DANDY WARHOLS COME DOWN (1997, Capitol). Reminded me that psychedelia can be as powerful as any other form of rock, and that such music as this can be quite clever. Also reminded me to NOT overlook bands with stupid names (see below, and 7., above)

4. Echo and the Bunnymen, PORCUPINE (Sire, 1983). Made me realize that power in rock need not be heavy, and that urgency is a great element of great rock.

3. Acid, TALES OF CONTEMPT (2015, Main Man). Reminded me that dirty loud bubble gum mixed with distortion and disdain goes a long way. Perhaps the hardest power pop album ever.

2. The Yardbirds, FOR YOUR LOVE (1965, Epic). Introduced me to and made me appreciate British blues in rock. HAVING A RAVE UP and LITTLE GAMES may be better albums, but this is where I really got on the bus.

1. Eric Burdon and the Animals, LOVE IS (1968, MGM) Made me understand that a glorious mess can be a great album. Along with The Yardbirds, The Animals were the centerpieces of my developing musical taste. And this to me is the best of the best.

Shriner said...

In relative chronological order, these are the musical touchstones that veered my music/album listening growing up

Pre-High School:

"Headquarters" by the Monkees
"Destroyer" by KISS and "Alice Cooper Goes To Hell" -- where I realized how important a producer was to an album (both produced by Bob Ezrin)
The Dr. Demento show on the radio (and the compilation albums released on Rhino during that time.) Mind-blowing comedy!

High School:

Whatever George Carlin album I first heard (I think it was "Toledo Window Box"...)
"Q: Are We Not Men A: We Are Devo" (big game changer there...)
"Get The Knack"
"A Young Persons Guide To King Crimson" -- I didn't get "Prog" *at all* until somebody gave me this.
"English Settlement" by XTC -- one of those albums where you hear the first couple of songs at a party and have to immediately know everything about the band.

College and immediate Post-College:

Then there was a gap until I discovered (later), "Let it Be" by the Replacements post-college (this was after the band had the famous show at the Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor, so I only heard of the band after that fact and never saw them live (well Tommy and Paul) until the reunion tour a few years ago and I kick myself for that very fact every single day...)
"Element of Light" by Robyn Hitchcock
"The Dreaming" by Kate Bush

And then much much later as the 90s felt like a lost decade for me musically:

"We Are The Pipettes" (seriously), "Between The Bridges" by Sloan and "After School Special" by Teen Machine -- a lost gem that I felt special for finding -- all contributing to my rekindled my love for all things PowerPop!

"Come On Feel the Illinoise" by Sufjan Stevens. This was the last album that seriously moved me and made me realize that there was still something that felt new and different out there in the musical world.

Nothing since those last few albums (over a decade now!) has been a game changer (though there have been many great albums since then). I'm still searching for the next one!

cthulhu said...

A fair number of these were discovered via Stereo Review, especially reviews from Joel Vance, Noel Coppage, and some guy whose name rhymes with Sleeve Nimels...

Warren Zevon’s self-titled album and “Excitable Boy” - Literate, funny, and rocks - what more do you want?
Tonio K, “Life in the Foodchain” - Ditto.
Joe Walsh, “The Smoker You Drink, The Player You Get” - an eclectic mix of styles on that one, and “Dreams” is one of the coolest love songs ever written. Plus the only really good use of talk box guitar (Frampton’s got a lot to answer for...).
Richard & Linda Thompson, “Shoot Out The Lights” - got me going on a very long and fulfilling journey with RT’s music.
Bryan Ferry, “Bete Noir” - the faster numbers on this one are some of the most soulful, seductive pop ever recorded, with the great Johnny Marr providing much of the guitar.
Chris Whitley, “Living With the Law” - simply stunning, and like nothing else in 1991 (or now, for that matter).
Smithereens, “Especially for You” - just glorious power pop.
Pretenders, self-titled debut - leading off with “Precious”, has any female singer ever performed with that much attitude and been able to back it up all the way through the last cut?
Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul, “Men Without Women” - passionate and tuneful, what a record! Saw Little Steven last year on his “Soulfire” tour and he definitely brought it, 25 years later.
Evie Sands, “Take Me For A Little While” - I was born too late to catch this the first time, but thanks to the aforementioned Little Steven’s Underground Garage channel on SiriusXM, i caught Ms. Sands’ original version of this song, and was simply blown away by her soulful and passionate performance here; simply stunning.

Sal Nunziato said...

Todd Rundgren- Something/Anything?
Mott The Hoople- Mott
Roxy Music- Siren
Marshall Crenshaw-Debut
Prince- Dirty Mind
James Booker-Classified
Queen-Sheer Heart Attack
David Bowie-Aladdin Sane
NRBQ At Yankee Stadium
10cc-The Original Soundtrack