The List, 2006, #40-31

Getting bigger. Getting stronger.

40. Led Zeppelin : Physical Graffiti (1975)

About 1/4 of this is filler (all on the second disc), but the rest is great. There's classic Zeppelin blues rock, a few epics, lots of Jimmy Page guitar goodness, and plenty of Robert Plant doing his rock god thing, and ... Kashmir!

39. Yo La Tengo : Electr-O-Pura (1995)

My first YLT record, and their last before they started down the road to electronica and lounge music. Among other good tunes, it has my favorite YLT song, Tom Courtenay - even though I have no idea what the lyrics are about... something about Julie Christie.

38. Jimi Hendrix : Are You Experienced (1967)

Just look at that song list : Purple Haze, Manic Depression, Hey Joe, The Wind Cries Mary, Fire, Foxey Lady, etc.. And of course, guitar heroics that leave all other guitar players slack-jawed.

37. Slint : Spiderland (1991)

This came out the same year as Nirvana's "Nevermind", and like Nirvana, Slint gets a lot of use out of extreme changes in volume. And, the same guy produced this record as produced Nirvana's "In Utero", Steve Albini. But that's where the similarity ends, because while Nirvana was writing pretty much straightforward rock songs, Slint wrote complex, coldly atmospheric songs, with icy, angular guitars and vocals that were barely more than spoken stories. All the songs share a feeling of cold menace; and it's a record best heard start to finish, (alone, in the dark, if possible) to get the full benefit of its beautiful cold astringency.

36. Pink Floyd : Animals (1977)

Easily the least popular of all the albums from their golden age. Unlike the other Floyd records in this era there aren't any singles here - the parts don't separate from the whole nicely, so it's hard for radio to handle. But taken as a whole, the album is great - it's dark, moody, atmospheric and cynical as anything. I used to listen to this a lot on the Greyhound bus ride from Rochester to Albany. It's bleak, pessimistic tone seemed perfect for watching central NY silde by, on cold winter's nights.

35. The Beastie Boys : Ill Communication (1994)

My favorite rap album, by a mile. Great beats, great samples, funny, self-effacing lyrics and some fun instrumentals. Q-tip makes a nice appearance. It's a long album, but one that works for me start to finish.

34. The Beatles : Revolver (1966)

This sits just on the late side of the early/late divide. This is where they started to get into psychedelia and where songs about things besides girls were no longer oddities - where they started to get interesting, instead of just a really good pop band. One of my bands did a passable version of She Said She Said.

33. Sonic Youth : Sister (1987)

The individual songs are much more focused than songs from previous records; the traditional SY guitar freak-outs feel deliberate and not just open-ended improvisations, and there's a lot less noise for noise's sake. Many of the songs are truly catchy and, for early Sonic Youth, accessible. For a long time this was my favorite SY album since, unlike "Daydream Nation", this doesn't feel like a monolithic epic, and I don't feel bad not giving it my full attention.

32. A Tribe Called Quest : Midnight Marauders (1993)

This is the other rap album on my list. ATCQ avoids a lot of the cock-grabbing nonsense that defines the rest of rap. Well, they mostly avoid it... well, maybe not even mostly. They often avoid it? Whatever, they still get into it, but it's not all they got. They're funny, crude, clever and often brilliant. The samples are slick, the words are smart, and the attitude is smooth and laid-back. I've been looking for years for rap that compares favorably to this album, and haven't found it yet.

31. The Beatles : The Beatles (white album) (1968)

It's huge and varied and full of goodness, greatness, goofiness and godawfulness. But the good parts outweight the bad, and the great parts outweigh everything else - even Revolution #9.

Tune in Monday for the next part.

Previous 100-91, 90-81, 80-71, 70-61, 60-51, 50-41.

3 thoughts on “The List, 2006, #40-31

  1. Gordon

    Mrs. G has a brand spankin’ new “White Album” that she bought when it came out. I think she might have played it once. The jacket’s perfect.

  2. Gordon

    Re your “Hwy 61” query: We finally got a stereo with a turntable a coupla years ago. We put our Dual away years ago, along with our Heathkit amp, and went to one-piece do-everything sets. We could play it if we wanted to, but we’ve got a lot of stuff duplicated on CDs now. There’s nothing to be gained by playing old LPs if you have another option. It just wears them out. Most of ’em are halfway worn out anyway, including that one. Modern electronics have rendered the needle ‘n groove method rather “quaint”, a charming anachronism that shows our age.

    When you get to listing your favorite 45s, we got those too.:)

  3. cleek

    ‘quaint’. yup. and they take up so much room compared to CDs, or even better, MP3s, which essentially take up no space at all.

    i actually just purchased a new needle for my turntable last week – just so i could rip my Colorblind James LP to MP3s. finding one was like stepping back in time – you gotta dig around in a lot of less-traveled sites, to find just the right needle for your cartridge.

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