Sunday, November 30, 2008

96. Grateful Dead - American Beauty

I went through a Dead Head phase in high school. Almost everyone in the 70's did. But even in the absolute deepest of my Dead Head days, I could not hold a candle to my friends who spent their summer breaks following them around the country, who went to hundreds and hundreds of shows.

I went to about 50 Dead shows all through high school. I enjoyed the shows, but I didn't immerse myself in them the way my friends did. Yes, I got stoned or dropped acid and grooved with the band for the first few songs. It was all well and good until they broke out into Morning Dew and you knew there was a 700 minute space jam coming. I tried to get into the whole "dance like a crazed banshee in the aisle" thing, but there wasn't enough acid in the world to keep me from falling asleep during those jams.

But as much as I distance myself from my Dead days and as much as I try to deny I was a huge fan, if you put this album on in front of me, I will sit there from the first note of Box of Rain to the last note of Truckin' and I will know every word and enjoy every single minute and I will ask to play Ripple at least two more times.

I think it's time to reconcile myself with my 14 year old Dead Head self.

Favorite song: Ripple
Me, in my Dead Head days

95. Smashing Pumpkins - Siamese Dream

I'm really not sure how I feel about the Smashing Pumpkins. I know that Mayonaise is one of my favorite songs ever and I know that I really don't care for Billy Corgan and I know that I have to be in a certain mood to listen to any other Pumpkins song than Mayonaise. They are just one of those bands I'll always be ambivalent about.

But apparently not ambivalent enough to not sit around drunk one night with some friends, forming a fake band whose sole contribution to pop music would be a tribute to Billy Corgan.

i wanna grab him by the neck
and lick his bald little head
and billy billy oh billy
how does it get so smooth
i've always had a thing for billiards
and licking you is like shooting pool
i'd like to give your head an old fashioned spit shine
because mr. corgan you must know
that you are only mine
billy corgan's head
billy corgan's head
god it's my obsession

i'd smash pumpkins for you
and maybe some watermelons
because i just got out of jail
where i was raped by felons

Yes, I still have that tucked away on a piece of paper.

We were really, really tequila drunk.

Favorite song: Mayonaise
Billy Corgan, Smashing Pumpkins
By request: What if that guy from Smashing Pumpkins lost his car keys? (one of my favorite Stephen Lynch bits)

94. Jane's Addiction - Ritual de lo Habitual

My favorite Jane's Addiction album. I know most people prefer Nothing's Shocking, but I like the sparse feel of Ritual.

On the surface this album seems like catchy rock tunes, but underneath it's so much more. First time I listened to this I got caught up in the frenzy of Stop! and the groove of No One's Leaving and finally I got to Three Days and I knew it was going to be one of those songs that would stay in my head forever.

You ever dream that you can fly? You're floating aimlessly through the sky and then you're going higher and higher and you feel like you might reach the top of universe and then suddenly you're soaring straight ahead, rushing over trees and rivers and buildings, sometimes swooping down low and then pushing your body to go back up again and the world disappears below you and it's just you and the sky and you do a few pinwheels or somersaults in the air before you glide back down again, feeling refreshed and fulfilled and out of breath? That's Three Days, and it is the feel that encompasses Ritual de lo Habitual from start to finish..

Favorite song: Three Days
Official site

Saturday, November 29, 2008

93. Devo - Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo!

The first Devo song I heard was Satisfaction. I immediately bought the album and, after listening to the whole thing twice, declared Mark Mothersbaugh a genius. This album made my friends question my sanity and it drove my mother crazy.

Two years, later my mother was singing Whip It non-stop. And then, years after that I'd be watching Rugrats with my kids and Mark Mothersbaugh's name would pop on the screen and I'd think Can't I have anything to myself?

Not that I begrudge him his success. I just find it sort of a metaphor for my youth that the man partially responsible for some of my very weird acid trips while listening to Space Junk and Sloppy is man whose work is listened to by mother and millions of young children.

Then again, my mother's favorite band is Pink Floyd.

Makes you kind of wonder about my mother's postage stamp licking addiction back in the 80's, huh?

Favorite song: Jocko Homo (predictable, perhaps, but such a great song)
Club Devo

92. Allman Brothers - At Fillmore East

There are a lot of bands I listened to just during certain phases in my life, then were put away like musical skeletons in my closet. The Allman Brothers are not one of those bands. They've been a constant in my life since my cousin's husband Billy - a dirtbag of a guy with a huge beer gut and no redeeming qualities except or his music collection - introduced me to this album. The first time I sat through the entirety of the live version of Whipping Post, I felt spent, as if every ounce of my energy was drained just by listening to it. It was such a defining moment for me, musically, that I can remember what I was wearing (Levis, Grateful Dead tshirt), what Billy was drinking (quart of Miller), that their house smelled like stale cigarettes and the couch cushions had pot seeds all over it, and that my baby cousin Melissa - Sweet Melissa - had a rash on her arm in the shape of Nevada. I hated that house, but loved that Billy let me borrow from his record collection. I never gave At Fillmore East back to him.

The Allmans became my happy place band. They're summer. They're the open road with the window down, they're a field of flowers, a college road trip, a surge of warmth in the middle of winter. And this particular album, especially side 4, is a bunch of twenty something kids and an impromptu keg party in the park, all standing on a picnic table and belting out "Sometimes I feel....sometimes I feel..." in ecstatic karaoke, long before karaoke machines took the joy out of spontaneous singing.

Favorite song: Whipping Post
Album wiki

Friday, November 28, 2008

91. Anti Nowhere League - We Are...The League

I had this cassette for one reason and one reason only: So. Fucking. What.

You can judge a band’s true offensiveness by how your mother reacts when you hit “play” on the cassette tape in your car, thinking that you had something benign like Pink Floyd (your mother’s favorite band) in there but it was Anti Nowhere League and it was poised right at the point in So What where he snarls “Well I've fucked a sheep, And I've fucked a goat, I've had my cock right down its throat,” and your mom turns and looks at you and says “This is what paying for four years of Catholic school got me?” And she shakes her head and begs you to put The Wall back on.

Ok, but “ohhh I need a dirty woman” is ok, mom? Goat, woman, what’s the difference?

And just an aside, I wish I had a dollar for every time I had to say to someone: This is NOT a Metallica song.

Favorite song: Obviously, So What. I don't think I ever listened to any other song on this tape.
Official site

90. Kiss - Dressed to Kill

1975. I was 12 years old. I heard Rock and Roll All Nite on the radio the same day I saw my first picture of KISS and nothing was the same after that. I was already listening to a lot of rock music but this. This was different. This was rock and theatrics. This terrified and disgusted my mother. Awesome!

Soon after, the band appeared on some late night rock show, either Don Kirshner or Wolfman Jack, one of those shows I wasn't really supposed to stay up for, but did anyhow. I was completely mesmerized. Rock and Roll All Nite was my anthem.

Soon, I had KISS posters on the wall. I joined the KISS army. It didn't matter that the rest of Dressed to Kill sucked. It didn't matter that these guys were not the best musicians in the world. I was suckered in by the decadence, by the stage presence, by the marketing genius that was KISS. This is why I don't make fun of Jonas Brothers fans. Because I know. I know how easily a young mind can swayed to follow group think in the matters of music and hot guys. What? Peter Criss was too hot, in a "aww let's feel sorry for the drummer" kind of way.

But there comes a time when you realize what you bought into. For me, that time was about a year later when I went to see KISS at the Nassau Coliseum. Just the year before, I had been swooning to David Cassidy in the same arena and I wanted to wash the experience of grown women throwing panties on stage out of my mind. I wanted to experience a real concert. Rock and Roll! Not those screaming women who acted like they would set themselves on fire for David Cassidy.

The house lights dimmed. The stage lights went up. Maybe there were some explosions and laser beams and whatnot. KISS took the stage. Oh Jesus, the screaming. The screaming! Not just the girls, but the guys, too. Girls were yelling out things they wanted to do with Gene Simmons’ tongue. . Bras on the stage. Panties on the stage. Girls swooning. Swooning! This was not what I expected at all. I was confused, lost, frightened. This was rock and roll, not David Cassidy. This was the real deal, the stuff I read about in Rolling Stone. Why aren’t you throwing beer bottles at each other and lighting fires and kicking chairs around? Why the HELL are you swooning? I had this all wrong.

No, KISS had it all wrong. I left the concert feeling dejected. I really think my disappointment in KISS and rock and roll that night is what set the stage for me to fall in love with punk rock soon after.

When my son was seven years old, he took a liking to KISS. It took him less than a year to come to the conclusion that they sucked. I was 16 before I figured that out. But I had fun along the way, I can't deny that.

Favorite song: Rock and Roll All Nite, for the sake of nostalgia

89. Dead Milkmen - Big Lizard in My Backyard

Like most people, the first song I heard off this album was Bitchin’ Camaro. As soon as I listened to the intro and heard them make fun of Crystal Ship - a Doors cover band I was once fond of seeing - I was hooked. I love music with a sense of humor. Especially stupid humor. Well, when the actual music part of Bitchin' Camaro kicked I knew I had to give the rest of the album a try and see if these guys were anything more than a novelty act.

I discovered there’s really more to the Milkmen than irreverent lyrics and haphazard songs like Camaro and Swordfish; they manage to get some pretty good lines off and make sense in tunes like Spit Sink and V.F.W. Big Lizard is a pretty well rounded album. If a band can make me laugh out loud and nod my head to the music at the same time, that’s a plus in my book. That I ended buying - and enjoying - all their subsequent albums takes the "novelty" out of their act.

Plus, all these years later, I still get a kick out of Bitchin' Camaro, Bitchin' Camaro, Tony Orlando an Dawn!

Favorite song: Bitchin' Camaro, of course
The Dead Milkmen archives

Thursday, November 27, 2008

88. Rolling Stones - Beggar's Banquet

First - there is now a "what is this and why the hell are you doing it?" page.

I always say I'm not a fan of the Rolling Stones, yet when I look at my record collection, that seems to not be the case. All the classic Stones albums are there. I just don't like more Stones songs than I do like which makes more of a casual listener than a fan.

Case in point, this album. I bought this Beggar's Banquet with birthday money in 7th grade, about six years after it came out. I loved Sympathy for the Devil, and Robert, the most popular, best looking 8th grader, was a huge Stones fan. I was told by Robert's sister that Beggar's Banquet was his favorite album. Learn it, live it, love it. The key to wooing Robert.

I gave it a try, I really did. It just wasn't happening. Every time I put the album on, it would be the same ritual. Side 1, song 1. Then flip it over to Side 2, song 2. Sympathy for the Devil and Street Fighting Man over and over again. I would never impress Robert like that.

I gave up on the album and gave up on Robert. Which was a good thing, as it turns out Robert liked boys as much as he liked the Stones. I wish I knew that before I spent four dollars trying to impress him.

Favorite song: Sympathy for the Devil
Beggar's Banquet wiki

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

87. Wire - Pink Flag

Wire was one of those bands where I didn't know what to make of them. Were they punk? It seemed like it sometimes, but sometimes I felt like the music was too rich to be punk. Punk was stripped down, bare bones. Wire was full on sound, rich and deep, though Pink Flag is more punk-ish than the rest of their catalog.

There was a distinct weirdness to this album, an underlying current of strangeness that would stay with me long after I listened to it. There was a certain manic feel present in the music, a subversiveness that a lot of the early punk rock was missing, or was manufacturing. Wire had not a Sex Pistols "look how bad we are" image, but a real, authentic subversiveness about them that was embedded in the music.

I haven't listened to this album in so long until right now and it's even better than I remember it.

Favorite song: Strange
Minor Threat cover of 12XU
New Bomb Turks awesome cover of Mr. Suit

86. The Eagles - Hotel California

Let me quote the Dude here. "I hate the fucking Eagles, man."

I guess I had a fling with them back in the day, because I bought their albums. But I never loved them. I never hung an Eagles poster or wanted their album cover painted on my Levi jacket or had fantasies about Don Henley.

As time went on, my tolerance of the Eagles grew to apathy, which later in life turned into abject loathing. Especially this album and especially the overplayed, overrated, over analyzed title song.

Hotel California is another one of those "rock musicians gone poetically awry" songs, in which a lyricist believes he is not just a writer of catchy rock songs, but a poet as well. An allegorical poet, if you will. Ooohhh, dark, mysterious, cryptic lyrics that will, thirty years down the road, still be the subject of "what do you think it means" conversations. Who cares? This song is BORING. It's like watching a horrible movie with false endings, where you keep shifting in your seat thinking, ok, credits are going to roll! But no, they cut to yet another drawn out, badly acted scene, maybe one in which there are mirrors on the ceiling and pink champagne on ice. Oh, yes, how Hollywood people live in excess, that must be the theme of this song! No, wait, it's about being stuck in a place you can't get out, it's...hey, a guitar solo! Another long, drawn out, masturbatory guitar experience! Pass the bong!

Favorite song: Try the Eagles of Death Metal instead.
I hate the fuckin' Eagles, man

85. Various Artists - Superstars of the 70's

older than dirtI got this four record box set as a Christmas present in 1973. Which is kind of weird. Three years into the 70's and they’re already putting out a four disc set of the decade’s superstars? The people at Warner were either very hopeful or manipulative marketers. These are the bands you will love for the next seven years!

There was enough stuff on this album for an 11 year old wannabe rocker to devour for weeks on end. I knew even then what was crap; I skipped over Seals & Crofts, Judy Collins and anything else that sounded like my mother would listen to it, although I secretly loved Gordon Lightfoot's If You Could Read My Mind. Very secretly. And maybe I liked the Bee Gees' Lonely Days. And who doesn't love Dock of the Bay?

But it was the rock tunes that kept these four discs occupying space on my turntable. Alice Cooper, Deep Purple, Jimi Hendrix. There was Led Zeppelin and Yes, but both were shortened versions of very long songs and I remember being surprised the first time I heard the real version of Roundabout. There was Black Sabbath's Paranoid, which I played over and over again, thinking it would somehow turn me bad because everyone knew Black Sabbath was for devil worshippers. But, much to my chagrin, the church did not spontaneously burst into flames as I sang Paranoid under my breath when I crossed myself with the holy water.

I still have this box set. The picture I used here instead of the album cover was taken just a few months ago, when I found the record in my mother's attic. I sat in that hot attic for about 15 minutes when I dug the album out of the box, feeling the vinyl in my hand, remember how it felt to hear some of those songs for the first time.

Favorite song (now): Dock of the Bay
Track listing

84. My Chemical Romance - Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge

Yea, it’s the guy with the make up. That one from that video. I’m Not Ok. The one with the black parade. He kind of looks like what would happen if Robert Smith ate the singer from AFI.

So you probably only know that one song and you’re thinking, my god Michele, you’ve really gone to the emo dark side. Pop punk new wave emo Hot Topic music. But really. This is no worse than my Cure phase. Or my Bauhaus phase. Hell, it isn’t even emo. It’s not even goth. It’s just good music.

I gotta say, I hate when people judge an entire album on the basis of one song that may or may not sound like radio-friendly angsty pop music aimed at 14 year old girls who like to draw scars on themselves with Sharpies and write MySpace odes to unrequited crushes.

Sometimes Three Cheers makes me feel like I’m 15 years old and sitting in my bedroom, wearing black pants and a black shirt and a black sweater and black sneakers and carving hateful words into the wooden desk by my window, wondering if life gets any better than this and if that guy I was pining for had any idea that my heart and soul were bleeding for him. Bleeding, I tell you! Or was that yesterday?

Ok, so maybe that Cure phase never really leaves you. Maybe there are times when I still want to dress in black (wait, I do that every day) and listen to some depressing love songs (wait, I do that every day) and write maudlin poetry (no, I don’t do that). But I swear to you, I never dated or pined for a guy who wore eyeliner. Goth/Depression chic was ok for me, but it was lame on guys. It still is. Face powder? Lipstick? Mascara? If I wanted to a guy like that I would have stood outside the midnight showing of Rocky Horror and grabbed the first Frankenfuter.

Where was I? Oh, yea. This album is good. It's lyrically brilliant and musically diverse. Get past the whole I’m Not Ok thing and dig into the rest of it. By the third song you’ll have forgotten that this band previously made you feel like Hot Topic barfed up its contents into your radio.

Favorite song: You Know What They Do To Guys Like Us In Prison
MCR MySpace

83. Eazy-E - Eazy-Duz-It

Eazy-Duz-It is such an awesome album. You've got Eazy E, Dr. Dre., Ice Cube and MC Ren all working together to lay down some pretty killer tracks.

Sometimes I feel kind of goofy cruising around the suburbs with this playing in the car, me and Todd acting all gangsta, shooting off lines like

you wanna rumble with us you can't hang
cause were something like a two man gang

Todd can pull off the gangsta thing. I can't. I can tell this by the way he laughs at me every time we play this CD.

Every time I listen to this I think that, while I dig Eazy and all, MC Ren is really what makes Eazy-Duz-It flow.

Favorite song: Ruthless Villain
Eazy at wiki

82. The Jam - All Mod Cons

I didn't really fall in love with the Jam until 1983, when Snap! came out and everyone was listening to Town Called Malice and Bitterest Pill. But it wasn't Snap! that did it.My coworker Pat (who at the time was in a band called the Dead Virgins) told me to put the compilation down and listen to all the previous albums. He then handed me his cassette of All Mod Cons and wrote down the words to one song from the album and told me to listen to it.

The first time I heard Down in the Tube Station at Midnight - about a guy trying to get home from work to his wife but gets jacked by some thugs in the a subway station, was when I really fell for the band, especially Weller. It was Weller’s ability to tell a complete, chilling story here, combined with the perfect pace of the song; rise and fall, slow and frenzied, giving the whole thing an air of drama, that mademe see this band for everything they were. The build up as the guy is laying there, beaten and describing his what he sees as he's on the floor dying, (The last thing that I saw As I lay there on the floor Was jesus saves painted by an atheist nutter) and then the lines “I glanced back on my life and thought about my wife cause they took the keys - and she’ll think its me.” That stayed with me. Haunted me. I still to this day - over 20 years later - get that same gut-punch feeling when I listen to this. That, kids, is what turns a good song into a great song and that is what made me a full on fan of The Jam.

Favorite song: Down in the Tube Station at Midnight

81. Soundtrack - Forbidden Zone

Way back in 1980, I was sitting in a little movie theater called the Mini Cinema - the same place you could find me every weekend watching things like Rocky Horror or The Song Remains The Same or It Came From Outer Space in 3D. It was a cult movie house that ran shows until about 4am, a place where the seats were permanently fixated with the stench of pot and cheap liquor. My home away from home.

We were at a midnight showing of the Grateful Dead movie when they threw us a curve and decided to show us a new movie first. The Forbidden Zone. This movie was so bizarre and surreal, that we decided to see it again the next night just to make sure that the mind altering drugs we had partaken of did not skew our viewing of the film. No siree, they did not. Seeing the movie straight was as messed up as seeing it high. Something about a sixth dimension, and heroin, a septic tank and a topless princess and Hervé Villechaize.

This was my first Danny Elfman experience and paved the way for my appreciation of Oingo Boingo.

Favorite song:'s the opening scene to the movie.
Official movie site

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

80. Radiohead - The Bends

My favorite Radiohead album. It has more depth, soul and character than anything they've ever done (and that's saying a lot). Musically and lyrically it rises above almost every other album in my music collection.

This is a perfect album. There's no skipping. There's no playing selected tracks. It's on from start to finish. Its beauty encompasses you, its sadness tears at you, its wistfulness makes your heart ache.

It's not just the exquisite music or brilliant lyrics. It's the way Thom Yorke's voice plays on your emotions that makes you go through such a range of feelings with him that when the album is done playing you feel like you've been born, died, been born again and have gone through the 12 stages of death and the myriad stages of PMS in just under an hour.

The Bends is quiet and understated and that is what makes it so powerful. It's almost like Yorke's voice is a meek companion to the music; with layers of self consciousness amplified by his tone shifts, the meekness becomes a strength and you are swept away with the songs, wallowing with them. For that is what The Bends is. It's a long wallow, a journey into self pity slathered with bitterness and yearning.

If Bulletproof doesn't make you weep with empathy, then Fake Plastic Trees will do the trick.

But I can't help the feeling
I could blow through the ceiling
If I just turn and run

And it wears me out, it wears me out
It wears me out, it wears me out

And if I could be who you wanted
If I could be who you wanted
All the time, all the time

It's the abject sadness and wistfulness in Thom Yorke's voice, it's the way the music sweeps up and then drops suddenly, the soul crushing way Yorke meekly pulls the last "all the time" out of his throat.

And yea, it's the words. It's like a sharp stick poking at my brain and my heart. But I will never stop listening to it, because I will never stop listening to this album.

Favorite song: Fake Plastic Trees
Green Plastic

79. Bad Brains - I Against I

I was working in a record store and this semi-stupid guy I worked with said he was going to put on the new Bad Manners album for us to listen to and I was like, meh quirky ska, who needs it?

But what he put on was this album. I liked their previous stuff, especially Pay to Cum but I wasn't a huge fan.

I listened to the entirely of I Against I and I remember when it was over saying it was the music listening equivalent of multiple orgasms.

Later that night, I Against I was almost ruined for me when the semi-stupid guy had a little house party and to play nothing but the title song for about two hours straight. Finally, we got together, tied him up to a rain gutter in his backyard and someone threw the album in the pool.

Favorite song: I Against I
Answer Bad Brains' "idiotic call" to get them to play Obama's inauguration.

78. Misfits - Walk Among Us

What you have here is 13 songs in 25 minutes. This album is like viewing every B-movie ever made while tweaking on speed. You hit play on this thing and before you can even catch your breath, you feel like you’ve seen your life flash before your eyes, if your life consists of death, mayhem, zombies, devils, vampires and Martians, and the soundtrack to that is howled by Glenn Danzig. Seriously, Danzig was born to sing this stuff. His voice here is part campiness, part howling at the moon and all deep-throated, gothic posturing. All that, plus the 50's-inspired riffs played in punk rock fashion make this one of the best punk albums ever.

Favorite song: 20 Eyes
Misfits Central

77. Dire Straits -S/T

Every album - even every song - in my collection evokes a memory; music is my life's scrapbook, as it is for most people. Some songs have stronger memories attached than others. The obvious ones are tunes that remind me of emotional moments in my life; 0heartbreak, happiness, milestones. But there are also those albums that, for whatever reason, lodged themselves in my brain, hanging onto a memory that seems rather insignificant in retrospect.

Dire Straits is one of those albums. Upon hearing the very first note Down to the Waterline, I will be immediately transported to:

Winter, 1978. I'm 16 years old. My bedroom is in the front of the house, looking out onto the street. I have a wooden desk - it's a real classroom desk my uncle brought me from some school he was renovating. There are all kinds of names and designs carved into the wood by many a hand. My desk is right in front of the window. I'm a nosy kid. I like to see what's going on outside my door, especially if I've been forced by my parents to stay in my room because of some perceived wrong I have committed. The windows are covered with Venetian blinds. Not the little, bitty mini-blinds of today, but the old, three inch, comes-in-white-only- aluminum blinds that ended up misshapen from me constantly bending the slats to see what's going on in the world of the un-grounded.

I'm studying for a social studies exam by copying all of my class notes onto loose leaf paper. It's the only way I can study and remember the facts - forced repetition. It's dark out, but not quite night. It's 6pm-during-winter dark. Tonight I have my blinds closed because it's snowing and I know that if I start to stare at the falling snow, I will become hypnotized by the way the flakes swirl under the street lights and I really, really need to study for this test.

I can hear them laughing outside. I hear car tires crunching through the fresh, packed snow and then a skritching, which is the sound that winter boots make when being dragged against snow. My friends were skitching, right outside my window, while I was being held captive by the intricacies of early Greek civilization.

So I turn up the radio to drown out their fun. I'm listening to WNEW FM (102.7), the premiere rock station in the world. Sultans of Swing comes on. I stare morosely at my social studies textbook while singing along. I take a peek or two out the window, bending the blinds back just a bit so no one can see me spying. I watch the snow fall, I watch my next door neighbor grab hold of the bumper of a car, I watch the neighbor's Christmas lights come on and the whole scene is so winter wonderland, so perfectly choreographed that I, being a 16 year old female, instantly feel a wave of self pity wash over me. Sultans of Swing plays on and the music itself feels isolating and stark; a perfect match for my sudden bleak mood.

I push the school work aside and drag the Olivetti over and I type out a piece of over-the-top, morbid, morose poetry.

And that is my history with this album; it reminds me of snow, of winter's beauty, of Greek history and awful teenage poetry. I swear that when I hear this song, I can smell the polish on the desk and hear that skritching sound of boots on snow.

Favorite song: Down to the Waterline
Dire Straits wiki

76. Linkin Park - Hybrid Theory

This makes me feel sort of...guilty. Maybe because so many people think of Linkin Park as the band that made nu-metal radio friendly (a bad thing). Maybe because, when it comes down to it, they are nothing more than NSYNC with guitars and without the dance steps. Maybe because they are known as the band kids listen to when they are curled up in a ball in their bedroom closet, wishing away the world and crying that nobody loves them and life isn't fair. Angsty, melodramatic rock. Nirvana without teeth.

So why do I like this album so much? I have no idea. I don't know what pulls me into listening to it.

I really don't feel all that guilty about owning/liking Hybrid Theory. Just like they say you can't help who you fall in love with, you can't help what kind of music you like. It just happens. Really, I've come clean about my Justin Timberlake fascination, so there's nothing derisive you can say about my Linkin Park listening that's worse than I've already heard.

Favorite song: With You
Official site

75. Elvis - Aloha From Hawaii

Everyone owns at least one Elvis album, right?

I grew up on a steady diet of Elvis. In the homes of my friends, they worshiped Jesus or Mary or Moses. In my home, there was Elvis worship. I was schooled in all the songs. I was forced to watch all the movies. Elvis in Hawaii. Clambake. Some movie where Mary Tyler Moore is a nun and Elvis seduces her. I think. I think he has to battle Jesus for Mary's heart or something.

I figured out a very young age that all the movies were the same. Elvis meets girls. Elvis sings to girls. Elvis makes out with someone. What happens in between all that doesn't matter. It's like watching the old Star Trek shows. You just wait for the moment when Kirk bangs an alien chick. Then the episode is complete. When Elvis sings at some swooning girl, the movie has reached it's climax. The rest is just filler. Elvis. Kirk. Same thing. All you needed was an episode of Star Trek where Kirk swiveled his hips and crooned something like "hunka hunka burnin love" to some chick with blue skin and three arms, and you'd have Elvis in space.

Now that I think about, Elvis in Hawaii was via satellite. Look at the album cover - Elvis in Space!

My mother listened to this album a ridiculous amount of times one summer. She'd prop the stereo speakers up by the back windows and we'd be outside all day, in the pool, on the deck, sunbathing, eating, whatever we were doing there was this constant soundtrack of Hound Dog and Suspicious Minds and It's Over. Mom and her friend Noreen sitting at a picnic table playing Pinochle in the hot sun and talking about Elvis's hips and Elvis's love life and what they would do if they ever met The King. Sure, I felt the same way about Leif Garret, but I was a kid. They were adults. They weren't supposed to swoon.

I've grown to fully appreciate Elvis. Maybe it's something that comes with entering old age. Maybe it's because of the Velvet Elvis hanging in our computer room. Maybe it's because Elvis built the pyramids.

Favorite song: Suspicious Minds
Story about me, my mom, Elvis and death

Monday, November 24, 2008

74. Joan Jett - S/T

I wanted to be Joan Jett. I wanted to look like her and dress like her and talk like her and be able to rock the fuck out like her. Then I grew up. And I still wanted to be her.

This was a tequila album. Meaning, you were in small, sweaty club and you just did about ten shots of tequila and you ask the DJ to put "Do You Want to Touch Me" on and suddenly you're standing on a table screaming out the lyrics and swinging your bra around and you end up doing some drunken version of dirty dancing with some guy you wouldn't normally get within ten feet of and in the middle of the dance you feel a hand slide up your skirt. I did want you to touch me. Just not...there.

This is one of those albums that will never go out of style for me. I have it on vinyl, cassette, CD and it's on my iPod for those days at work when I want to pretend I'm 18 and badass.

Favorite song: Do You Want to Touch
Joan Jett MySpace. She is still HOT.

73. The Dwarves - Blood, Guts and Pussy

I can't even count all the ways in which this band is offensive. But there's something so disturbingly fun about these guys and even though I almost feel guilty for liking them (really, just the early stuff), there's a satanic satisfaction about enjoying their music, the same kind of feeling I got when I palmed my communion wafer as a kid and fed it to the dog when I got home.

You know that kid your mother always warned you about, the one she told you to stay away from because he was nothing but trouble and his parents were drunks and he would probably grow up to be a serial killer?

That's the Dwarves, and this is the album that epitomizes it. Songs like Let's Fuck Back Seat of My Car and Insect Whore are all bad, bad news. In a good, good way.

Favorite song: Back Seat of My Car
Dwarves member who used to be in Queens of the Stone Age

72. Fleetwood Mac - Rumours

Damn, I loved this album. It was 1977. I was a metal head who was falling in love with punk, yet there was something about Rumours that grabbed me. This was an album my mother loved, my teachers loved, radio stations loved. I would listen to it and think that they just weren't getting all of it. They heard it as radio music. The songs were catchy. I heard something more. While it seemed like pop music on the surface, it had an underlying darkness.

I remember sitting in my room one night listening to The Chain while under the influence of some mind altering substance. The song freaked me out. I put the album away.

It wasn't until many years later that I heard about the messy stories behind the songs. And it wasn't until many more years later that Stevie Nicks became a cross between Shirley Maclaine and Cyndi Lauper. Which has nothing to do with this review. I just always feel the need to point out Stevie Nicks weirdness whenever I can.

Favorite song: The Chain
Play the Stevie Nicks song jumble!

71. Steel Pole Bathtub - The Miracle of Sound in Motion

I've been talking up this band for years, but very few people seem to take to them the way I have. Their style is kind of punk, their sound is noisy and layered and sometimes disjointed. It could be unnerving to someone who likes their music all flowing and nuanced.

Last night, I realized that the band is featured in the new ad for the video game Left 4 Dead (which we are totally buying this week). The song on the ad is Train to Miami, my absolute favorite tune on this album.

Like most of the album, that particular song is surreal, noisy, weird, disturbing, haunting and addicting. The repeated chorus of “these are my friends now” over a staccato bass, the cacophony of sounds in the background, the whispers about church burning and satan, the short scream; it’s what the circus might sound like if you smoked a bowl of crack before entering the big tent. You’d think that putting all these sounds together might make a mess, but Steel Pole Bathtub makes it work.

The whole album is at once disturbing and riveting. Bozeman, Carbon, Waxl, I could try to define each song for you but it would take far more words than anyone wants to read. The only song on the album that doesn't require an acquired taste is the remake of the Pogues' Down all the Days, which is a bright and airy spot in an otherwise deep and complex album.

Miracle of Sound in Motion is one of those "desert island discs" I never want to live without.

I hope being on this Left 4 Dead ad gives Steel Pole Bathtub some recognition.

Favorite song: Train to Miami (really, download this, listen to the whole song)
SPB at Trouser Press

70. Deep Purple - Machine Head

My friend's older brother had a Deep Purple poster hanging in his room. On the poster were the lyrics to Smoke on the Water. Steve, the brother, would always take the time to tell us the story behind the lyrics. Except the story changed every time. The more he told it, the more embellished it became until Steve was actually there when it happened, even though he was only about 16 years old and Swiss cheese was the closest he ever got to Switzerland.

This album has some really good, heavy songs. I love Space Truckin and Highway Star but, let's face it, this album is Smoke on the Water and for that I will always hold a slight grudge against Deep Purple.

If you've ever had a kid who plays guitar, you know what I mean. It's the first rock song they learn. No, not even song. It's the first riff they learn.


Over. And over. And over.

And then your kid gets good and he learns to play other songs and he's moved on to Pink Floyd and Pantera and you take him to Guitar Center every Saturday so he can sit around and try out all the guitars and amps you can't afford to buy him and there are twenty other budding guitarists in the store, ranging in age from ten to 70, and they are all playing Smoke on the Water as if they invented it.

It echoes in your head. All day long. Every day. You tell your kid you'll give him ten bucks for every time he doesn't play it and then his friends come over and they start playing it and finally, your kid gives up the guitar for his Xbox and you think you never have to hear that song again and then one winter night, you hear a familiar sound coming from the neighbor's garage and your hair stands on end and your heart sinks because the neighbor's kid got himself a guitar and you know what the next couple of weeks are going to be like, so you announce on twitter:

Neighbor's kid needs to knock it off with the E-A-B-E-A-B-A-E-A-B-E-A or I'll beat him with his guitar til he's a nice shade of Deep Purple.

And then you make a silent vow to yourself to never buy your nephew a guitar.

Favorite song: Space Truckin
Album wiki

69. Circle Jerks - Group Sex

Talk about anthems. I was 18 when this album out. When you’re 18 you fluctuate between feeling like you're going to live forever and feeling like you want to die. Those two things kind of lend themselves to each other when you spend every night doing some sort of damage to your body and your brain cells and your life expectancy, and you really just don’t give a damn about growing old. So you sit around thinking. what is the point when the world is going to shit anyhow? And you pop Group Sex into the cassette player and you spend the next hour screaming live fast, die young and you think, hell yea. That’s what I’m gonna do. Live fast, die young!

We see how that worked out.

This whole album is a blast of adrenalin. It starts off with 28 seconds of speed with Deny Everything and Keith Morris takes you through at this frenzied pace. Each song is a perfect example of the punk mantra, which is that you can say what you have to say in just about a minute. Short, fierce and to the point.

Favorite song: World Up My Ass
Official site

Sunday, November 23, 2008

68. Kid Rock - Devil Without A Cause

I got this CD for free, from a friend who was in the music business at the time. There's really a good explanation of why I still own this.

It started one rainy week some time in 1998 or so. We had intended to go to the park just about every day, but the storm that came in the beginning of the week never let up. By Thursday, my kids were stir crazy and I was ready to kill them. I needed something to help them blow off steam and energy. I needed something to keep them from killing each other with Power Ranger imitations.

MTV was showing a video. I don't remember what band it was, but the lead singer had just jumped into a sea of fans and was going back onto the stage to dive into the crowd again.

DJ was enthralled. I explained the concept of stage diving to him. He thought it was the coolest thing ever. Natalie must have too, because she was standing on the couch, ready to launch herself to the floor. She wanted to stage dive.

Hmmm. Hmmm. Yes. Bad idea. Very bad idea. But....but......excess steam......pent-up energy.....bored out of their minds.

I took the cushions off the couch and put them on the floor. I threw a blanket over the pillows for good measure. Then I told the kids (8 and 5 at the time) to each pick out a CD.

This is what DJ picked out. We listened to I am the Bullgod about 50 times while my children perfected their stage diving techniques. By the time they were tired of the song, they were tired enough to chill out quietly until dinner time. And a rainy day tradition was born. The downside being my son's inclination to shout "MY NAME IS KIIIIIIIIIID ROCK!" at the most inappropriate times.

And that is the ONLY reason I still keep this CD around. Sentimentality is the bane of my music collection's existence.

Favorite song: Bawitdaba
This headline makes me giggle

67. Pantera - Vulgar Display of Power

There are gonna be times in your life when you feel like kicking someone in the face with a steel toed boot. There are going to be days at work that could drive you to murder, road rage incidents that make you feel like you could overturn a Hummer with one flick of your wrist, arguments with a significant other that make you want to eat someone's soul.

That's what this album is for. Mouth For War, Walk, Fucking Hostile, This Love. Vulgar Display is about 50 minutes of pent up anger, frustration, hurt and rage ready to be unleashed by just pressing play. You put this on when no one is home, with the curtains closed and the door locked and the stereo cranked to 11. You play air guitar, you kick the couch, you scream til your throat is raw, you jump off the couch and use a broom as a mic stand and you purge yourself of every ounce of hatred that entered your soul in the past week. It's an exorcism. It's a cleansing.

Sure it was so much easier to jump around like that when you were younger. And maybe the hate came easier and the anger was closer to the surface. And maybe saying RE-SPECT. WALK. doesn't carry the same authority it did when you were young and drunk and hanging your car window*. But it still feels damn good, doesn't it?

*That was my sister, not me. I was 30 when this album came out. Already too old to hang out the car window. But I was driving.

Favorite song: This Love
Official site

66. Squeeze - Cool For Cats

Unlike some other bands of that era that got famous because of their style or gimmick or just because they hit the right place at the right time, Squeeze was oozing with talent.

Difford, Tilbrook, Holland and all those other guys who didn't matter as much as those three combined to make some of the greatest songs to come out of an era when great songs were not nearly as numerous as their overstyled, synth pop counterparts. Not that there's anything wrong with that; I loved the whole synth pop-new wave thing. I was just able to recognize that while most of the music of that genre was filled with fun beats that you could bop your head in time to after a few shots of tequila in a grungy-on-purpose club, Squeeze was different.

While a lot of people joined the Squeeze fan-wagon when East Side Story (1981) came out, I had a head start on the band due to my employment at a radio station in 1980. Ok, I wasn't an employee so much as a phone volunteer, one of those people who answered the 24-7 request line and handled the contests and listened to a lot of heavy breathing and requests for sexual favors that were unheard of in my little, naive corner of the world.

An advance copy of Cool for Cats made it into my hands in early 1980. The record had actually been released in '79, but New York radio was slow to pick up on it.

It was love at first listen. It was different, so far apart from anything I was hearing at the time. I grabbed a copy of the album and spent that night listening to it for hours, flipping the disc at least ten times. The lyrics to Up the Junction were simple, the rhythm almost monotonous. But somehow those two parts together formed a riveting song. Even Cool for Cats, with its machine-gun presentation of the lyrics was just so out there that I couldn't help but love it.

Sometimes I pine for the days when Cool for Cats was considered exciting and new. When that happens, I put this album on, close my eyes and relive the glory days of night clubs, spiked hair and torn, black stockings.

Favorite song: Cool For Cats
Squeeze wiki

65. Mr. T Experience - Revenge Is Sweet, And So Are You

When I was young I had dreams of being a songwriter. We had a fake little band called Pond Scum and me and my sister and a couple of friends would write these amazing lyrics and and think about how much money we would make if we actually had a real band. That is, if any of us could play musical instruments. Then the fake band broke up when we had an argument about our fake direction. They wanted heavy handed songs about death and destruction. I wanted pop music cleverness. I wanted ironic poetry. I wanted to write songs that could make people smile at my turn of phrase, grin at my witty use of rhyme schemes, chuckle at my wry humor, yet, when the song is over, think well, that kind of hit me in the gut. But no one can do that, right.

Yes, someone can. Obviously, it's not me. (save the whales/save the whales/send your money in the mail/ is NOT clever). But there's Dr. Frank, of The Mr. T. Experience, and this album, for me, is the pinnacle of his songwriting. It's the album my 15 year old self wishes she wrote.

Revenge is Sweet is at once so sad (I Don't Need You Now) and so happy (She's Coming Over Tonight) that you don't exactly know what you feel when you hear the songs, all you know is that you do laugh or grin (Swiss Army Girlfriend) and you realize afterward that you were actually laughing or grinning (Lawnmower of Love) at yourself and the angst and tremor (When I Lost You) with which you pursued love (Our Love Will Last Forever and Ever).

It's hard describe this album as a whole. It combines all the great things about pop music with all the perfect things about punk. It's like doing the Lindy in a mosh pit. Everyone is going to look at you like you're nuts, but eventually they'll join in the fun.

Favorite song: And I Will Be With You
Dr. Frank's blog
Did you know that Dr. Frank also wrote a best selling book?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

64. Spawn Soundtrack

This movie sucked in ways few movies do. But the soundtrack is an interesting concept take some metal bands and some techno artists and mix them together. This is a bit like mixing Rooster Sauce with peanut butter, but you’d be kind of surprised how that works out. Tastes like angry peanuts! And this album is kind of like....angry peanuts.

Yes, the peanuts are angry. But they are dancing, too. See how that works? Ok, let’s take that Rooster Sauce analogy to its ultimate limit (and probable demise) and use it to review the entire album. (You might have to understand my love for Rooster Sauce and my contention that it goes with ANYTHING to even begin to comprehend this review, but just try to follow me anyhow - when you're reviewing so many albums every day, you have to find new ways to make it amusing, even if just to yourself).

1. "(Can't You) Trip Like I Do" - Filter & The Crystal Method
This is like Rooster Sauce and Chili. Destined to be together. Makes for a song that leaves you wanting a second helping.

2. "Long Hard Road Out of Hell" - Marilyn Manson & Sneaker Pimps
Rooster Sauce and tomato soup. See, you would think this would be a really odd combo. I’m not really fond of tomato soup in general, and I wouldn’t eat Rooster Sauce on its own, but put the two together and you got something that’s pretty palatable.

3. "Satan" - Orbital & Kirk Hammet
Rooster Sauce and anything from Taco Bell. Just a waste of Rooster Sauce. Kirk Hammet adds nothing to Orbital’s block rockin’ beats. You’d be better off just guzzling the Rooster Sauce.

4. "Kick The P.A." - Korn & The Dust Brothers
Rooster Sauce and fast food fried chicken. Sure, you may not admit to liking or eating the fast food chicken, but when you throw some Rooster Sauce on it, then it’s ok to say you ate it. And enjoyed it.

5."Tiny Rubberband" - Butthole Surfers & Moby
Rooster Sauce and tofu. See, tofu tastes like whatever you put on it, so you can’t go wrong with it. It doesn’t matter that Moby exists within this tune because it’s really all Butthole Surfers weirdness. Which is good.

6. "For Whom the Bell Tolls (The Irony of it All)" - Metallica & DJ Spooky
Rooster Sauce and plain oatmeal. Not even Rooster Sauce can hide the fact that plain oatmeal is boring as all hell. Bland, tasteless, boring. Spooky’s presence does nothing to spice up the repetitive Metallica contribution to this tune.

7. "Torn Apart" - Stabbing Westward & Wink
Rooster Sauce and pizza. You just know it’s going to be good from the get go. One of those things that when you get around to putting them together you think, why didn’t I do this sooner?

8. "Skin Up Pin Up" - Mansun & 808 State
Rooster Sauce and scrambled eggs. Not a taste everyone will like or even try, but I promise you it works. Just try it once and you’ll be thinking about it all day.

9. "One Man Army" - The Prodigy & Tom Morello
Rooster Sauce on a peanut butter and banana sandwich. I know, I didn’t think it would work, either. But it does, I swear. You have to keep tasting it to make sure you tasted it right the first time. It’s the angry peanuts, man. They own you. Second best song on the album.

10. "Spawn" - Silverchair & Vitro
Rooster Sauce and grilled American cheese on white bread. I know what you’re thinking. Meh. Grilled cheese. How...plain. How generic. But add a little Rooster Sauce and you have yourself something with a nice bite to it. Who knew grilled cheese could get all down with its bad self like that?
11. "T-4 Strain" - Henry Rollins & Goldie
Rooster Sauce and caviar. Ohh, look at me. I’m eating caviar. I am pretentious and full of myself! Really, I dig on Rollins, but sometimes he makes me cringe. Not even a good dose of Rooster Sauce does anything for me here. In fact, it’s just a reminder that THIS SONG SUCKS.

12. "Familiar" - Incubus & DJ Greyboy
Rooster Sauce and chicken soup. It’s smooth. It’s a tasty blend of warmth and wellness with a nice kick to it. It’s comforting and familiar yet sort of kicks your ass about five minutes after you’ve eaten it. Best song here.

13. "No Remorse (I Wanna Die)" - Slayer & Atari Teenage Riot
Rooster Sauce and habanero peppers. Oh yea, that’s gonna hurt. But it’s gonna hurt so good. You’ll either bang your head in sheer hot-throated joy or go home crying to your momma.

14. "A Plane Scraped Its Belly On A Sooty Yellow Moon" - Soul Coughing & Roni Size
Rooster Sauce and granola. You’re just gonna puke it back up and you know what? It will look the same as it did going down. Kind of useless.

Overall, the album rates four bottles of Rooster Sauce, because even with the songs that bring it down a bit, it still kicks your ass from here til next Wednesday.

But skip the movie.

Favorite song: Familiar
You know who else loves Rooster Sauce?

63. Nirvana - MTV Unplugged

When Nevermind came out, I was one of those people who jumped on the Nirvana bandwagon. But I didn't ride it very long. I hated the hype surrounding them, I hated all the little kids in their flannel shirts, I hated that everyone seemed to be in love with two songs and basically ignored the awesome Drain You. And I hated - really, deeply hated - the idolization of Cobain.

It wasn't until MTV Unplugged that I fully appreciated Cobain. While a lot of the songs played that night weren't his, I was still taken aback by the pure honesty in his voice. You could hear everything; pain, wistfulness, sorrow. And I loved that the band did their lesser known songs, and that the covers they did were of bands mostly unknown to the kids who first sunk their teeth into Nevermind. The best word I could use to describe the whole performance is intense. You listen to it, and look at it and you see and hear perhaps what Nirvana might have been if Nevermind didn't blow up like that. They weren't meant to be a hit machine. They weren't meant to be pop idols. This was a band meant to say something, to mean something. It's in the way he sang those Meat Puppets songs, especially Plateau, but you can also hear it in Something in the Way and on On a Plain, and I can't fully describe it because it was a personal experience for me, but I listen to this album and I hear Cobain the superstar, Cobain the idol, stripped away and you're left with Cobain the person, and the band that Nirvana might have been if they didn't become "the voice of a generation" with Nevermind.

I became a bigger Nirvana fan after this, but it wasn't until recently, when I pulled this CD and Incesticide and In Utero and Bleach out again, that I actually fell in love with them. I think I needed the distance of years and the absence of flannel shirts to fully immerse myself in the band.

Favorite song: Oh Me
I Dream of Kurt Cobain

Friday, November 21, 2008

62. Justin Timberlake - FutureSex/LoveSounds

I'm going to come out to you right now and say it. I love him. Not in a "I want to be your concubine and have your love child" way. More like, I just dig him. I think he's talented and funny and charming and his music makes me shake like I've got ants in my pants.

I really like this album. It's a good disc to have in the car on a warm summer night, when you're maybe running errands or doing something mundane and you want to pretend that you're in some stylized music video and everything, including you, is sleek and sexy and beautiful in an MTV sort of way.

It's groovy. It's funky. It's got a good beat and god damn it, I can shake my ass to it. I'm not going to be embarrassed by this CD because listening to it makes me feel good. Justin Timberlake makes me feel good.

Did I just say that out loud?

Listen, you know damn well that you have musical skeletons in your closet. At least I bring mine out for everyone to see. You may want to say snarky things to me about my love of JT, but I don't see you coming clean about your Air Supply albums. I don't see you raising your hand when I ask who was into Damn Yankees back in the day. So don't you be making fun of me when you hide your shame underneath a pile of blankets in your bedroom closet.

Maybe you love JT, too.

Maybe you are glad sexy's back.

Maybe you can join hands with me and say:

If sexy never left, then why's everybody on my shit?

Favorite song: Sexy Back, of course
Dick in a Box
Beyonce parody
On weekend update

61. GBH - City Baby Attacked By Rats

(The band is also known as Charged GBH)

I was working at a record store in 1983 when a co-worker played this album for me, asking me to settle a debate with another co-worker. “Is this punk or speed f167530ux2w.jpgmetal?” I listened to the first four tracks or so, shrugged my shoulders and said “Why can’t it be both?” They looked at me weird and the one guy said, “Well, you know, it’s got that whole fast guitar thing going on, so I’m thinking it’s more metal than punk....” Yea, well, Yngwie Malmsteem plays a fast guitar too, but we’re not going to call him anything other than a wanker, ok? The world isn’t black and white, guys. It’s not an either/or premise here.

Label? Call it what you want; thrash, punk metal, whatever. City Baby - and GBH by extension - doesn’t need no stinkin’ label. Violent, offensive, dark, dirty, crude, mean and faster than hell, City Baby - framed by Abrahall’s guttural vocals and Blyth’s blistering guitar work - is an attention deficit’s delight. Blasting through the songs at an average of about two minutes, each tune does what it has to do and then quits. It grabs you in, gets your heart pumping, slaps you around and then drops you on the floor. Then you get up for another. By the time the album is done, you’ll wonder if you just went through some Yngwie nightmare, where it’s proven that masturbating with your guitar may get people to call you a genius, but pounding your way through some punk-rock-on-speed and leaving people breathless, worn out, scarred and begging for more counts for a hell of a lot more than having 14 year old kids with used Fenders trying to mimic your licks. It’s when the 14 year olds with used Fenders break shit in their garage while going crazy trying to play "Bellend Bop" that you know you kick some major ass.

So, if you’re in the mood to get your heart pumping, get your throat burning, and maybe jump off your couch a couple of times and move around like you’re still 18 years old (I see a recurring them here today) and can take a musical beating, then crank up City Baby and prepare to feel that familiar surge of power and excitement like you had the last time you were at a show. And then prepare to feel the agony of defeat as you lay on the ground holding your knee and cursing father time. Not saying I did that, but...yea.

Favorite song: Sick Boy

GBH at allmusic

60. Anthrax - Among the Living

I was 25 when this album came out and listening to it made me feel like I was 18 and invincible and could kick the ass of everyone in the world.

It had everything. References to Stephen King stories and Judge Dredd. It had anger and violence and death and the usual Anthrax sarcasm combined with an almost surreal speed.

This album is the equivalent of 10 cups of coffee. If you are ever in a situation where you need to jumpstart your day and you are totally out of caffeine and you need something to get you going, put on Among the Living. You heart rate will soar, your hair will stand on end, you'll find yourself jumping around the room shouting TALKING TO YOU IS LIKE CLAPPING WITH ONE HAND and by the time you get around to crying for the indians you're on this natural, speed metal high that you don't want to come down from.

Listening to this now, at 5am, it still makes me feel like I'm 18 or even 25 and I'm ready to take on the world. Except at 18, I'd be just rolling in the house now, instead of waking up and getting ready for work. And at 25, I wouldn't believe you if you told me that Scott Ian would become the face of VH1.

I'm gonna go have a cup of Anthrax now.

Favorite song: Caught in a Mosh
Official site

Thursday, November 20, 2008

59. Dead Kennedys - Fresh Fruit For Rotting Vegetables

It was 1983. I was working in a record store, which just happened to be one of the busiest record stores in New York, in one of the busiest malls in New York, at the beginning of the Christmas shopping season.

So, here we were on the anniversary of Kennedy's assassination and one of my co-workers remarked that, unlike most days of remembrance in the U.S., no one had yet declared Kennedy Assassination Day to be a holiday of sorts; the kind where you see store-wide sales and clearance items going for bargain prices! I mean, how would one advertise such a thing? Come to the JFK Clearance Sale, where you'll get more bang for your bucks!

And then we came up with a brilliant idea. We could combine the death of JFK with the start of the Christmas shopping season - a way to commemorate Kennedy but bring the customers in as well.

So we put up a Dead Kennedys display on the carousel in front of the store. We grabbed all the copies of Fresh Fruit we had in the store, plus a few copies of Plastic Surgery Disasters and put them on the carousel, which was just a few feet from the wide front door of the store, which people traveling through the mall passed by all day long.

Needless to say, the display was down within twenty minutes and we were reprimanded, with big, inky, black spots splattered on our permanent records.

Oh yea, despite the fact that Jello's voice sometimes grates on me, and despite the fact that Jello himself always grates on me, I do love this album.

Favorite song: California Über Alles (sentimental pick)
Official Site

58. Metallica - Master of Puppets

Yes, I am one of those people. Before the Black album...Lars is a pussy...... Bob Rock..If Cliff were still alive....Load was garbage....blah blah blah. I think I covered it all.

Even though I lost my taste for almost all Metallica - what seemed genius back then seems mostly boring to me now - there are still a few songs that will get my head banging and my hands drumming and bring me back to a time when James still knew how to growl without sounding like he lost his balls in a freak accident involving Jason Newsted and a butt plug shaped like Dave Mustaine. Battery is one of those. A song that can make my head move faster than the speed of light and have my son roll his eyes and tell me to leave the head banging to the kids and I say something like I WAS LISTENING TO METALLICA BEFORE YOU WERE EVEN BORN, YOU UNGRATEFUL LITTLE..... This shit makes me feel OLD.

Master of Puppets was the second to last album Metallica would release before they made the transition to the the spit-and-polish sound on the Black Album (Metallica) and, years later, the intensity-lacking Load and Re-Load.

One only has to put on Master and listen to Battery or Leper Messiah and then listen to Hero of the Day from Load to realize that Metallica did not age well. Hetfield just can't make those guttural groans like he used to. Metallic fans, most in their 30's by now, have moved on. And the new kids just don't want to bang their head to an old man singing about anger and angst. Being a heavy metal star is like wearing a tight miniskirt; you can only do it until a certain age until people start keeping their distance from you.

Metallica wanted to change direction (after twenty years) and play a kinder, gentler heavy metal. The kind that gets played on all the radio stations, the kind that gets you an invite to TRL. Like, say...Nickelback.

Let's just all sit back and listen to Master of Puppets or Kill 'em All and reminisce about the days when Metallica had a raw edge and James could make those scowling faces without looking like his pacemakers just blew a fuse.

Favorite song: Battery
Encyclopedia Metallica

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

57. Cypress Hill - S/T

1991. I'm standing in the parking lot of a supermarket, examining a scratch on the door of my Mustang. A scratch that was not there before I went into the store. I'm pissed off. A car rolls through the parking lot, windows down, bass thumping and I hear the words "Here is something you can't understand, how I could just kill a man." And I'm thinking - mind you, I'm standing there with a baby on my hip and a grocery cart full of diapers and formula - but I'm thinking, fuck yea. I do understand that, man. I drove straight to Mr. Cheapo's Record Store and said "What's this song?" and I did that annoying thing I really hated people doing to me when I worked in a record store and I sang that line to him. Mr. Cheapo smiled knowingly and two minutes later I was in my car, me and my infant daughter bopping our heads to Cypress Hill.

Yesterday. I'm driving home from work. It's been one of those days. What kind of day? A "sawed off shotgun, hand on the pump" kind of day. So I've got Cypress Hill playing and I'm yelling those words pretty loud, kind of glad that it's cold out and my windows are up because really, no one wants to hear a 46 year old white woman singing "All because a nigga tried to play me on the trigger."

What I'm saying is, this album never, ever gets old. Ever. It's my go-to bad mood album, but it's also my "I feel kinda funky" album, which is when I play Hole in the Head over and over again.

Favorite song: Hand on the Pump
B-Real at MySpace

56. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds - Murder Ballads

Nick Cave is one of those things in life that people either loathe with unbridled hatred or love with all their heart. I never met anyone who was "meh" about him. Me, I'm in the "love with all my heart" camp.

I was debating which Nick Cave album to do tonight; this or Boatman's Call. So I put Murder Ballads on (for the first time in a while) and as soon as his voice kicked in on Song of Joy, there was no turning it off. I remembered instantly what it is I love so much about this record, and Cave's music in general. There's so much involved here; you can't just listen to it as background music because it grabs you and pulls you in and there's no escaping it. It's dark and mysterious and morbid and dangerous. But it's melodic and captivating, too. Every song is a story, every note a masterpiece, every word full of passion. Listening to disturbing Henry Lee (feat. PJ Harvey) or the manic Curse of Millhaven or the chilling Kindess of Strangers, you are taken on a creepy ride of murdery and mayhem, but the ride becomes thrilling, because the haunting, beautiful music and Cave's voice weave these ballads and crazed stories together in an incredible tapestry of talent.

Also, if you have the chance to see Nick Cave live, do it. The words "stage presence" do not do justice to the ego this man brings onto the stage with him. He commands your attention and mesmerizes you into believing you are living the song with him.

Favorite song: Henry Lee
Official site

55. Bon Jovi - Slippery When Wet

I figured I'd get the two Jersey boys out of the way on the same day.

I don't like this album. I didn't like it when it came out and I don't like it even more now. I don't like Jon Bon Jovi. I don't like his hair. I don't like any music from New Jersey except the Bouncing Souls and maybe Glen Danzig, depending on my mood (Ok, that's a lie, there's a lot of good music out of Jersey).

But, you say, this is a collection of reviews from the music you own, right? If you hate Bon Jovi so much, why do you own this album?


Oh come on, you know why. Don't make me say it.


It's because of Dead or Alive. This is how you measure a guilty pleasure song: does it make you burst out singing even when your heart and soul are yelling a big Darth Vader “Noooooooooooooooo!"? When this song comes on I am a fucking cowboy. Riding a steel horse. And when he gets to that part, oh yea you know what part, it’s all I can do to keep from pumping my fist in the air.

Cause I’ve seen a million faces.

And I’ve rocked them all.

Favorite song: Obvious.
A band from New Jersey that's not Bon Jovi

54. Weezer - Blue Album

It was when Maladroit came out that I stopped saying I'm a Weezer fan and instead saying I'm a fan of the Blue Album.

This is perfection. From start to finish, it's one of those rare albums that I can play in its entirety over and over, never skipping a song, never getting tired of it. It's brilliant, it's earnest, it's light, it's heavy, it's silly, it's perfect.

Remember when you were 12 years old and you made a list of every attribute the perfect guy could have, from his awesome personality to his romanticism to his musical tastes to his blond hair and blue eyes and ability to play the bass? Ok, maybe that was just me. But the Blue Album is the musical equivalent of that guy. It's the perfect date, in vinyl form. There's not a song I would skip, not a thing I would change.

And that perfection is all wrapped up so exquisitely with the the last song. Only in Dreams clocks in at 8:04 and not a second of that is wasted on anything extraneous. From the opening bass line to the final fade out, Dreams is a sweeping, melodic piece of wistfulness. It's a heartbreaking tale of unrequited love but, oddly enough, it's not the earnest yearnings in River Cuomo's voice or the sweetness of the backing vocals that breaks your heart; instead the final, instrumental five minutes or so of the song carry you away on alternating waves of build ups and let downs that really kick you in the gut. It's the embodiment of the entire album wrapped up in one song and perfect way to finish off a perfect disc.

Favorite song: Only in Dreams
Album wiki