Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Interlude, pt. 1: Best non-2006 albums first heard in 2006

The cusp of my top 10 seems like a good place to step back and do a year-end review. But rather than talk about 2006 releases, which Mr. Cougar has quite capably done (even if there was by my account a glaring omission in his top 30). Rather, I think it is just as fun to unearth lost (to me) treasures, and ever since I became a parent (read: shut-in) I’ve had more time to devote to rock archaeology. Though I have been dabbling more and more into Papa Shoegaze territory, these picks all belong to the classic rock tradition, though classic rock broadly construed.

So, my top 8 non-2006 records of 2006 are:

8. Kate Bush Hounds of Love (EMI, 1985)
Three strikes against this one: 1) The spouse hates this – “too Celtic,” says she, which is a more than valid criticism in my book. 2) There is a near unlistenable artsy number here featuring a cd-skipping sound and evidently Satan at his most grumbly as a guest vocalist. 3) The album cover is bizarre, all weimereiners and Alberto VO5 – wait, I think I actually like it. Let me try #3 again. 3) The fact that I like this record is final verification that I am indeed over 30. Regardless, the songcraft is absolutely undeniable here, and if you can be OK with pop music made for full-blown adults, I guarantee you will like this.

7. Glenn Branca The Ascension (99, 1981)
Heavily textured instrumental electric guitar with a rhythm section. Drone that rocks and that makes a chord change sound like a revelation. Is it rock or avant-garde classical? I don’t know, but I know what I like.

6. Prince, Purple Rain (Warner Bros., 1984)
It’s not like I hadn’t heard any of this before, but it now makes sense. Remember when pop idols were geniuses? Re-check out the title track, which is an epic (8 min!) life-altering guitar slow jam easily mistaken (by me, at least) for a John Hughes prom scene cheesefest. When that falsetto drops in at around the 5:15 minute mark, get out your kleenexes.

5. Faith No More, Angel Dust (Slash, 1992)
Surprisingly awesome. No joke! We can’t blame Faith No More for the atrocious mook rock that came after it – well, yes, we can, but that only reduces this album from an A to an A-. Also, take note that “Crack Hitler” is only the second most uncomfortable-to-type song title on the record.

4. Afghan Whigs Gentlemen (Elektra, 1993)
Again, I knew some of this from back in the 120 Minutes days, but I only fully became aware of its majesty this year. Among the 90s alternarock classics, only Siamese Dream is better.

3. Otis Redding Good to Me: Recorded Live at the Whisky A Go Go 1966 (Stax, 1993)
Otis Redding is who we thought he was.

2. Thin Lizzy Jailbreak (Mercury, 1976)
So I should begin by noting that before acquiring this album I had only heard “The Boys are Back in Town” (which I love – even the thought of that double guitar solo gives me that gym-class-rope feeling). The rest of the album is more than up to the standard of that song, though. The lyrics are, well, not good, but this album completely epitomizes and kills its genre, so much so that I wonder why anyone listens to any classic rock other than this. In fact, I feel cheated by the whole Classic Rock Industrial Complex; why are there at least five Bob Seger songs in the American collective consciousness, compared to only one by these guys?

1. The Exploding Hearts Guitar Romantic (Dirtnap, 2003)
KLASSIK!! The Clash + The Replacements = pop punk awesome = buy now! Raw, funny, moving, super catchy. I picked this up in late Nov. Next time around, I predict it will be in my top 25.


Big Cougar said...

I'm anxious to see what the glaring omission might be. Here are my guesses:

Midlake, Trials of Van Occupanther
Bonnie Prince Billy, The Letting Go
Loose Fur, Born Again in the USA

These all got serious consideration and Midlake would have made it if I actually had the album but, unfortunately, I still only have about 2/3 of the songs downloaded
from mp3 blogs - not enough to pronounce true album judgment.

Also, aren't the Exploding Hearts kaput b/c half their band died in a car accident? I've read great things about that record..must check it out.

Sean B said...

I haven't heard any of those three albums, either. I'll tell you soon.