Tuesday, February 28, 2006

My Favorite Records

"Your favorite music
Well it just makes you sad
But you like it
'Cause you feel special that way."
--Clem Snide

I've been swamped, and so neglecting longer posts. Apologies. But nothing serves as filler like lists, and tonight while at a bar with two friends, the three of us promised to swap our top-20-album opinions by the end of the week. Going through my collection, I had to give myself a break, so I settled on 25. Even that was painful. I can divide those I left off into five categories:

1. Some of my favorites (and all-time greats) who have a body of work I love more than any single effort: The Beatles, Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, Paul Simon, Lyle Lovett, Everything But the Girl, Low, Prince, Morrissey/The Smiths.

2. Great one-off albums by those who are otherwise uneven or forgettable, like Something to Write Home About by The Get Up Kids, 100 Broken Windows by Idlewild, Music for the Morning After by Pete Yorn, or New Miserable Experience by the Gin Blossoms.

3. Relative newcomers who I've listened to a ton over the last year or two, but who need a bit more time to be considered, like Mindy Smith, The Postal Service and Ray Lamontagne (the most likely to eventually make the list). Conversely, oldies-but-goodies from my high school and college years who have been considered for a bit too long to be judged accurately, like the self-titled debut by School of Fish, Are You Driving Me Crazy? by Seam, or Bandwagonesque by Teenage Fanclub.

4. Classics that deserve mention, like Blood on the Tracks by Dylan, OK Computer by Radiohead, or anything else by REM before 1993 (it took a lot of willpower to limit myself to four by them).

5. Then there are the records that could easily have made the list if I made it on a different day (or after one less -- or more -- drink) -- meaning, the most arbitrary of those left off, like When the Pawn by Fiona Apple, The Sunset Tree by The Mountain Goats, The Moon My Saddle by Chamberlain, Since by Richard Buckner, Redo the Stacks by Centro-matic, Rumours by Fleetwod Mac, or The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion by The Black Crowes, a great record by a band that otherwise occupies a lukewarm place in my heart (at best).

On to the list, after two more caveats: First, yes, there are only four works on display here that were released before 1991. Unlike many of my friends, who had older siblings (sometimes significantly older) who were schooling them in the classics of rock, I had (and have) a very lovely older sister whose taste ran more towards classical music from the day she was born. (In short, she's smarter than I am.) Her idea of cutting-edge modern music, even in college, was the Indigo Girls, Tracy Chapman, and Billy Joel. Listen, I still own (and unashamedly enjoy) music by all three of those named, but I think you see my point. I was deep into my junior year of high school before I started to form what would become my own distinct taste. ("Distinct" here defined as "shared by millions of other teenagers who watched 120 Minutes every Sunday night.") And while I've come to love The Beatles and the Stones, and respect a lot of other fogeys, they just didn't reach me when they needed to. Bands are like girls (or boys, if you prefer) -- the ones that get to you first change you the most. Or, to quote a great line from Life of Pi by Yann Martel, "first wonder goes deepest; wonder after that fits in the impression made by the first."

Secondly, I stress the obvious fact that subjectivity has been embraced. There was a discussion about #3 at the bar tonight, for instance, during which I admitted it's a flawed choice under a microscope. But it's also the initial domino that fell 15 years ago and led, pretty directly, to the 5,000 or so songs I'm choosing between as a soundtrack while I write this. So, as ever in these pursuits, objectivity be damned!

OK, sorry, but thirdly, a bonus (of what, I'm not sure) to whoever comes closest to accurately predicting "Dezmond's" eventual total word count in his replies to this post. My guess is 5,820.

25. It’s a Shame About Ray -- The Lemonheads
24. Fables of the Reconstruction -- REM
23. Into the Music -- Van Morrison
22. Siamese Dream -- Smashing Pumpkins
21. Original Pirate Material -- The Streets
20. Strangers Almanac -- Whiskeytown
19. Cake -- Trash Can Sinatras
18. Ben Folds Five -- Ben Folds Five
17. The Joshua Tree -- U2
16. Big Red Letter Day -- Buffalo Tom
15. Girlfriend -- Matthew Sweet
14. Where It Goes -- Lori Carson
13. Still Feel Gone -- Uncle Tupelo
12. August & Everything After -- Counting Crows
11. Murmur -- REM
10. A Century Ends -- David Gray
9. Bloomed -- Richard Buckner
8. Glow -- The Innocence Mission
7. Achtung Baby -- U2
6. Perfect From Now On -- Built to Spill
5. Our Time in Eden -- 10,000 Maniacs
4. Trace -- Son Volt
3. Out of Time -- REM
2. The Bends -- Radiohead
1. Automatic for the People -- REM

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Blogger Dezmond said...

REM, REM, REM...always with the REM. Actually, and this kills me, but I have a ton of work to do today, so my full response will have to wait at least for a little while. You and I have exchanged these lists (and film lists) for years, so none of these choices are shockers at this point, but I always like to see the updated versions to see where you stand at this point in time. I am proud to say that (at least I think) I introduced you to your #23. I was a little surprised that your list, caveat aside, didn't include Yorn's debut. I know you really love that album (as do I). Anyway, rest assured, more to come from me on this.

9:56 AM  
Anonymous lfw said...

oh thank god. my meager response won't be buried under dezmond's blog--i mean, comments.

i'm surprised that ray lamontagne didn't make the cut, even with your explanation. hopefully it will be on future incarnations of this list.

matthew sweet seems high. that album hasn't held up for me. a few great tracks, yes, but overall, it sounds so dated now, and not in a good nostalgic way. i think the primary problem is his voice, which ultimately lacks character, i think.

joshua tree is too low. and that's not just my subjective opinion. it's a universal law that joshua tree shall not place lower than 5, and preferably shall be placed in the top three, on any and all best (or favorite) albums list. and the fact that it's a couple of spots behind matthew sweet, for chrissake! why don't you just find bono and spit in his eye, pending possible nobel peace prize be damned!?

siamese dream? really? i'll have to dust it off and give it a listen. i'm not sure if i ever knew more than the radio singles in the first place.

interesting that 'glow' is the only innocence mission on the list. not sure which would rank highest on my list, but i think 3 would break the top 25.

10:57 AM  
Anonymous bc said...

I have to weigh in here for now only on Siamese Dream, which I think is one of rock's real high water marks for at least the last twenty years. I was always a big SP fan even though Corgan lost his mind and the music fell way way way off in quality starting with a handful of tracks on Mellon Collie until finally their last record, which is unlistenable. But I started getting into them again about six months ago, just started listening to Siamese Dream in my headphones all the time and I broke through that phase where I thought it was just reminding me of college until finally it hit me that it's just flat-out sonically and melodically a great record and if some of the lyrics don't hold up or seem corny ("I torch my soul to show that I am pure") well "imagine there's no heaven" is pretty corny too.

11:25 AM  
Blogger Dezmond said...

Ray LaMonnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn...sorry, I fell asleep while I was typing his name. Ray LaMontagne. What is it with that album, so many friends that I normally respect seem to have fallen for this utterly generic singer-songwriter crap. I am touched that he was supposedly inspired to pick up music when he heard Stephen Stills' "Treetop Flyer" (a very inspiring song, granted), but didn't pick much up from that song. Like interesting guitar playing or any sort of new and intriguing story to tell. Both of those flaws are fatal if you are going to try and make it in the singer-songwriter genre. OK, defenders of LaMontagne, let's hear it.

11:58 AM  
Blogger JMW said...

On Lamontagne and the Pumpkins (for now):

I saw Lamontagne at the Bowery Ballroom with three others last year, and they were all at various levels of fandom beforehand. (I was already an acolyte.) All four of us left with our jaws on the floor. We've been over this before, "Dezmond," but it's the soul of his voice that elevates the material (which, lyrically, is pretty good to begin with). Great stuff. Really sorry for you that you can't hear that.

Agree completely with BC about the Pumpkins, and have had a similar experience, just listening again recently and being newly impressed. Everything that followed was pretty bad, but that record has an almost perfect sound, and it's the non-single tracks that are the best. (Disarm is actually one of my least favorites now; I love Hummer, Soma, Geek USA and Mayonaise.) If anything, I think it might move up on future lists.

12:13 PM  
Blogger JMW said...

Wow, three from I.M., lfw? I'd consider Befriended after a couple more years, but Birds Of My Neighborhood is too uneven for me (even though its peaks are Alps-like). Girlfriend is still great, I contend. Hell, he's written great songs since then, just not another great, coherent album. I stand by it. The first three songs on Joshua Tree are probably the best three-song stretch of any album ever. After that, it's a bit touch and go for me, but beautifully produced and IN MY TOP 20. It could conceivably be a bit higher, but don't get greedy on its behalf. I've always preferred Achtung in a start to finish way.

12:25 PM  
Blogger MAW said...

If I were to create a list like this, "Automatic for the People" would most definately be my number #1 choice too. It would be a battle for #2, though, between "The Bends" and "OK Computer," and I'm not sure which would win out. Paul Simon's "Graceland" would have to at least make the top 10.

4:34 PM  
Anonymous Dread Pirate said...

And Ray's dream of no Counting Crows album finally comes true.

6:04 PM  
Anonymous Dread Pirate said...

Damn! - Let me revise that - no Crows in the top 10. Stupid fast reading.

6:15 PM  
Blogger Dezmond said...

This is really silly quibbling, but how on earth can you list a Son Volt album at Number 4, but then have an Uncle Tupelo album not in the Top 10? About half of 'Trace' is absolutely drop dead brilliant, but the other half? That generic Jay Farrar drone. Hey, I am a huge Farrar fan, you know that. But he only hits the mark about half the time (which is why the four Uncle Tupelo studio albums are all brilliant, since Jeff Tweedy is also on about 50% of the time). The first three Tupelo records should be ranked ahead of anything by Son Volt, Wilco, or Farrar solo...and then you can start considering 'Trace' and 'AM' and 'A Ghost is Born'.

6:01 PM  
Blogger JMW said...

As you know, Dezmond, I've really come around to feeling very strongly about Uncle Tupelo -- they're awesome. That said, I think Trace is an anomaly, and I admit that. Farrar has become drone-y, but I think that first record is genius. You admit that half of it is "drop dead brilliant" (a big compliment). I just happen to think that the other half is not quite a drone -- songs like Too Early and Out of the Picture and Ten Second News, while not as great as the peaks on that album, are really solid, not at all as forgettable as the filler on his later albums. That's just my opinion. Look, I own, what, 600 albums? At least? And Uncle Tupelo and Son Volt are both in the top 13. You're quibbling, indeed.

12:25 AM  
Blogger Dezmond said...

But you know I love to quibble. So let's quibble further. I actually put "Ten Second News" in the brilliant half, I love that tune. But for me, the second half of that record really runs together, and I hardly ever finish it nowadays. I usually listen to the first half, love it, and then shut it off at some point into the second half. I really believe that he knew that too. I think he front loaded the record to make an impression as it was Son Volt's debut after the demise of Tupelo, and then had these extra tunes and filled it out at the end.

Those 4 studio records by Uncle Tupelo are all wonderful ('Anodyne' being my least favorite), and what is more, they each have their own character and sound and style (much like the 5 Police records, you can tell which record each Police song belongs on). NOTE: If you are a Tupelo fan, and even if you own the 4 albums, it is worthwhile buying the new remasters. They each have a treasure trove of bonus tracks attached, with tunes often as strong as what is on the album. Plus, the remastered sound is fantastic, you will hear the tunes in a new way.

I agree with your post before. I want to see other peoples' Top 25 as well. I love to see what other people whom I respect like to listen to. It usually inspires a few purchases on my part.

10:31 AM  
Blogger Dezmond said...

By the way, John, great pick with The Streets.

OK, since JW gave the green light, below is my list of Top 25 albums. I hope to see others here as well, I really like to see what other people are listening to. This will be a first, but I'll list them here with no commentary. As you can guess, I am happy to discuss / debate any of these until the end of time.

Much like with John, I have many favorite artists who are not listed here because their material is perhaps spread over quite a few records. To be here, the record in its entirety has to hold together, from start to finish. The Kinks come to mind. A favorite band, but their records are often spotty, brilliance mixed with filler. So, no Kinks albums listed. If it were a song list, that's a different story.

Rules: No compilations, all genres are game, live albums ARE allowed (and I am happy to debate why live records are allowed and compilations are not), double albums are allowed. Oh, these are personal favorites, I'm not trying to make an objective list (which I believe CAN be made, and it would look different from this one). OK...

25. Yes - 90125
24. Radiohead - The Bends
23. Jimi Hendrix Experience - Electric Ladyland
22. Uncle Tupelo - No Depression
21. Pink Floyd - Wish You Were Here
20. Pete Yorn - musicforthemorningafter
19. The Tragically Hip - Road Apples
18. Miles Davis - In a Silent Way
17. Michael Hedges - Live on the Double Planet
16. Duran Duran - Rio
15. The Cure - Disentegration
14. Tears For Fears - Songs From the Big Chair
13. Robert Cray Band - Strong Persuader
12. ZZ Top - Eliminator
11. The Rolling Stones - Sticky Fingers
10. The Who - Who's Next
9. Peter Gabriel - Passion
8. Los Lobos - Kiko
7. The Ramsey Lewis Trio - The In Crowd
6. The Police - Synchronicity
5. Peter Gabriel - So
4. U2 - The Joshua Tree
3. Bruce Springsteen - The Wild, The Innocent & The E Street Shuffle
2. Men At Work - Business As Usual
1. Neil Young - Live Rust

3:59 PM  
Blogger MAW said...

Okay, this is a rough list and the order is constantly fluctuating. I'm thinking of posting the final list (if I ever figure it out) on my own blog because I'm curious as to what some of my other blogger friends would come up with. Is that rude? Does that steal your thunder? (I'm relatively new to this blogging thing and I wouldn't want to step on any toes...)

So here it is so far:

25.Deltron 3030 - 3030
24.Blind Melon - Blind Melon
23.The Shins - Oh, Inverted World
22.Ani DiFranco - Not a Pretty Girl
21.The Eels - Souljacker
20.Interpol - Antics
19.The Smashing Pumpkins - Siamese Dream
18.Badly Drawn Boy - The Hour of Bewilderbeast
17.The White Stripes - Elephant
16.Cat Stevens -Footsteps in the Dark
15.Patty Griffin - Living with Ghosts
14.Tori Amos - Under the Pink
13.Weezer - Pinkerton
12.Red Hot Chili Peppers - Blood Sugar Sex Magik
11.Crowded House - Together Alone
10.Paul Simon - Graceland
9. The Cure - Wish
8. Portishead - Dummy
7. Fiona Apple - When the Pawn...
6. Over the Rhine - Eve
5. Radiohead - The Bends
4. The Smiths - Hatful of Hollow
3. Elliott Smith - XO
2. Radiohead - OK Computer
1. REM - Automatic for the People

6:57 PM  
Blogger JMW said...

Dezmond, this is what I love about you. You can nitpick a songwriter whose work you love (Jay Farrar) and you can still place two of your gods -- U2 and Bruce -- beneath Men at Work. Before you get mad, I understand it's a great record, and not just for nostalgia value. But still -- Business as Usual ahead of The Joshua Tree and all Springsteen? Really? (Otherwise, glad you like The Streets. I didn't know. And nice, diverse list overall.)

Maggie, a helluva list. Thanks for contributing. (And thanks for the "props" on your blog.) Nice call on Together Alone -- strong album that not enough people know. Great call on Living With Ghosts, which probably should've been more strongly considered by me. Ani's great (Dilate would probably come closest for me). And When the Pawn... should definitely make my list in the future. Leaving that off was just silly. OH, and of course you can post on your blog. No toes to worry about at all.

10:28 PM  
Blogger cb said...

Hello all—

Here’s a list of my all-time favorites, mainly ranked according to frequency listened to, importance to personal-slash-musical development, and whether I can listen to it without wincing. (Uh, that last would refer to things like Suzanne Vega’s Solitude Standing. But not Hole!) As with Maggie’s list, the ranking isn’t final. With one exception, I picked albums that were released after I was born. I left off compilations, too, and soundtracks. And like Desmond and John, I picked albums that worked as a whole. The above reasons are why you won’t see stuff like the Pretty in Pink soundtrack, Neil Young’s Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere, the Beatles’ Rubber Soul, the Rolling Stones’ Flowers. And the Kinks and Billy Bragg and Nina Simone and Ella Fitzgerald (though I love her Cole Porter songbook) and New Order, because I never bought an album of theirs and instead listened incessantly to a mix tape my best friend made me of their stuff. I forgot the Shins! I’ve enjoyed reading everyone else’s list....

25. Hole/Live Through This
24. Pernice Brothers/Overcome by Happiness
23. Wilco/AM
22. The Lilys/Better Can’t Make Your Life Better
21. The Jayhawks/Tomorrow the Green Grass
20. Neko Case/Blacklisted
19. The New Pornographers/Mass Romantic
18. Sam Phillips/The Unforgettable Wow
17. The Sundays/Reading, Writing and Arithmetic
16. The Innocence Mission/Glow
15. The Breeders/Pod
14. Radiohead/Kid A
13. Pavement/Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain
12. Elliott Smith/ Either/Or
11. Trash Can Sinatras/Cake
10. Belle & Sebastian/ If You’re Feeling Sinister
9. The Spinanes/Manos
8. Joni Mitchell/ Blue
7. Liz Phair/ Exile in Guyville
6. The Replacements/ Pleased to Meet Me
5. The Pixies/Doolittle
4. U2/ The Unforgettable Fire
3. Elvis Costello/My Aim Is True
2. R.E.M./Lifes Rich Pageant
1. The Smiths/The Queen Is Dead

2:23 PM  
Blogger JMW said...

Thanks for joining the chorus, Humorless One. I strongly considered Either/Or and Tomorrow the Green Grass, and A.M. is my favorite Wilco record. ("What's the big deal about them since?" I always ask people, to hostile stares.)

Manos is a great one -- just got reacquainted with it recently myself.

I listen to "MLK" off The Unforgettable Fire a handful of times a year as a form of meditation, and even though I never got into the Pixies when I should have, a friend recently lent me Doolittle, and I literally can't stop listening to the song "Hey." Send help.

12:45 AM  
Blogger Dezmond said...

I don't know who this CB is, but I like his/her picks quite a bit. Good job everybody, but CB's is great. I struggled with "Unforgettable Fire", and it barely didn't make my cut (if we had gone Top 30 you would have seen it). With U2, everyone talks about "Joshua Tree" and "Achtung Baby" (and "War"), but besides JT, "Unforgettable Fire" is my favorite. What a great mood the entire record sets, and "Bad" may be their best song (although the live version on the "Wide Awake in America" EP is the definitive version of that tune).

New Pornographers is great, although I really like "Twin Cinema". And I agree with John. People who tout Wilco as the second coming are seriously misguided and just plain wrong. But you picked the best album of theirs, I love "A.M." as well (mainly because it is the one that sounds the most like Unle Tupelo).

10:37 AM  
Blogger Dezmond said...

John, to address your comments more directly. Absolutely I can nitpick artists I love. Nobody does perfect work all the time, especially they longer they hang around. The safest you can be is like Neil Young advised: "it's better to burn out than to fade away". So true. Why are the Police so great? Because they only hung together for 5 records and 6-7 years. Thank god they dissolved in disharmony, before Stewart and Andy could be presented with the indignity of beingt confronted with "Fields of Gold" by Sting as a Police track! If Hendrix hadn't have died, I would hate to hear a 1984-era Jimi Hendrix album. So, some artists are fortunate enough to either hang it up or die in their primes, thereby not tarnishing their legacies. But precious few. And Farrar is worse than most as far as producing brilliant songs and then surrounding them with filler on records. Like The Kinks.

I am still trying to spread the gospel of Men at Work and Colin Hay. "Business As Usual" was the first LP of rock/pop (outside of Kiss) that I ever owned, and I can still listen to it today and love it. There is, granted, one bad song on there. But the rest is golden. I seriously think it holds up today as a great 80's pop record, full of inventive songs and arrangements, tight performances, and flawless singing from Mr. Hay.

11:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's the reason I can never participate in Greatest Albums lists: To me, albums are just a collection of individual songs. I don't look for overall themes, or the importance of ordering, or cultural significance. And if there are songs that I don't like, I either skip them (thanks CDs!) or don't download them (thanks illegal downloading site/iTunes!). So I'm not sure how many points to take off for an album that has some songs I [heart], and also has some terrible songs (See, e.g., REM's "Green," which includes the horrendous travesty known as "Stand"). And what about albums like "Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness" and "Use Your Illusion," which would have been earth-shattering single albums, but were filled out with a number of average songs? It's all very confusing to me.

And the concept of an "album" has even less relevance in the computer age. I download singles that I like, and delete songs I don't like. My iPod has very few complete albums, and the songs are usually played in random order anyway.

Having said that, I now officially have a huge crush on Maggie and the Humorless Feminist. Their lists are both fantastic.

dezmond, I enjoyed your list right up to the Neil Young part. I have never been able to stand that guy. I know, it's a character flaw. But I'm riddled with flaws, and I don't see why my taste in music should be any different than (for example) my taste in clothes.

JW, your list includes a surprising number of bands that I've never heard, or at least don't recognize. But then again, I hadn't heard of the Arctic Monkeys until you suggested them, and currently very much enjoying the Arctic Monkeys era on my iPod.

So I'll be printing out all of your list and hitting iTunes very soon. Thanks for the tips.

--The Comish (sic)

2:51 PM  
Blogger Dezmond said...

Comish, I mourn for you. Not because you don't dig Neil Young, I can actually understand that. He is my favorite artist of all time, but I am not so blind that I don't recognize he has qualities in his music that can rub folks the wrong way. His voice ain't Pavarotti, his guitar playing ain't Hendrix. But for many fans, those are precisely some of the things that make him great. Despite an obvious handicap in the singing department and being in many respects a rudimentary guitar player, he has created a rich and deep body of work unlike almost anyone else in music. He turns his weaknesses into strengths. I don't know how much of a chance you've given him, but that #1 choice on my list really is a fantastic primer as well as a great listen. It's got both the acoustic Neil and the electric Neil. DECADE is also a killer Neil introduction.

I mourn for you because you have lost the joy (as many people have these days in the Age of the iPod) of a great album. A great record is an elusive beast, but it should be treasured when you come upon it. A great record is so much more than the mere sum of its "parts" (the individual songs). A great record can take you on a journey that individual songs cannot. it takes more time and attention (obviously), but it is well worth the effort. To use Neil as an example, take his album TONIGHT'S THE NIGHT. If sit down with the mother late a night and are in the right frame of mind, it will blow you away (if you can manage to avoid committing suicide). The mood and teetering desolation on that record builds song after song after song. You simply cannot get that from just picking a random tune from it to sample. A great album creates its own time, place, spectrum of emotions that simply cannot be reproduced by merely throwing a bunch of random songs together on an iPod.

4:25 PM  
Blogger JMW said...


Four things:

1. Point taken about albums/songs/iPods/randomness, but don’t get me wrong – yes, some of these albums are FULL of good songs, and a few have SOME thematic coherency, but it’s no doctoral thesis – for instance, Siamese Dream “just rocks.” (Dezmond, great albums are even more elusive now partly because the artists themselves are influenced by the things Comish lists.)

2. Both Maggie and the Humorless Feminist, you won’t be surprised to learn, are spoken for.

3. I don’t even know how I feel about the Arctic Monkeys, so I’m not sure I could’ve recommended them that heartily – but if that’s how you took it, and you really like them, then the credit is all mine.

4. I don’t think I know the story behind Comish – what character is it based on, and why is it always the (sic) spelling?

Dezmond: Put the mother down.

4:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

dez, I'll definitely have to try listening to Neil Young's albums, as opposed to his songs. I certainly understand how great albums work in theory. An album can transcend its individual songs in the same way that a collection of short stories can add up to something greater than the individual stories. It's just that music has such an immediate, visceral impact on me that I rarely (if ever) get beyond the feeling of the individual songs.

JW, I'm not surprised that Humorless Feminist and Maggie are spoken for. But that's what makes innocent crushes so innocent -- they're hopeless. Even more hopeless than most of my normal relationships. And considering this is over the internet, we're entering "Brewers win the World Series" or "Paris Hilton becomes celebate" territory. Plus, if they're your friends, you'd have a duty to warn them off of me anyways.

At this point, I feel pretty confident that seeing "(sic)" after my name every time is pretty annoying. It's just that it's an integral part of the name. When we were starting Bad Movie Club, we were all picking names of characters from bad movies. I wanted to pick a name from one of the characters in Robot Jox, which was one of the most fantastically bad movies I've ever seen. So I jumped over to imdb.com, scanned the character list, and came across this bomb:


Robert Sampson .... Commisioner Jameson (sic)

In other words, the name was misspelled *in the movie*. Apparently, no one on the set was smart enough to know how to spell "Commissioner." And the script wasn't worth running spell check. Awesome.

But it's a pain to write "Commisioner Jameson (sic)" every time I post, so I just shorten it to "The Comish (sic)," which has a different misspelling, but leaves the essential nature of the name misspelled. I usually leave the (sic) because I think it's what makes the name so great.

If it's annoying, I'll stop.

And you're right: Siamese Dreams just rocks.

--The Comish

8:39 AM  
Blogger Dezmond said...

Comish (sic), please keep the (sic). I didn't know the story behind it, but I have always liked the (sic). As to Neil albums, that would be a good idea. Neil definitely falls within that "album artist" category vs. "singles artist". If you've given him a fair shake and still don't dig him, that's cool. But if you feel like checking out some of his albums, I would suggest (in this order):

1. "Live Rust": accomplishes several things. It is live Neil at arguably a peak, it's got a decent crossection of his tunes up to that point (1979). It is split nicely between acoustic and electric. Even if it is a live album with tunes from different time periods, it hold together extremely well and feels like a coherent record, the songs were chosen carefully to go together. It kicks serious ass.

2. "Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere": a couple of weaker tunes, but overall this album packs a huge punch. Mostly electric Neil.

3. "Harvest": His commercial peak, but contains some of his most enduring tunes. Holds together very well as a record. Mostly acoustic/countrified/folk Neil.

4. "After the Goldrush": Considered by many has his finest single record, not one of my favorites for some reason. Good mix of acoustic and electric Neil.

5. "Tonight's the Night": Has to be one of the darkest records ever made. Recorded in a drunken/drugged haze and feels like it. But if you can get in the right mood for it: brilliant. Try 1-4 first.

6. "Freedom": Great 1989 comeback record that set the stage for his 1990's renaissance.

Also, "Decade" is a superior collection covering 1966-1976 assembled by the man himself. You might want to start with that, but that defeats the purpose of trying to listen to his proper albums.

JW makes a good point. The great album is harder to come by these days. A lot of artists are also focusing on the song or assembling albums with the iPod in mind to begin with. But that still isn't totally new. Creedence Clearwater Revival records back in the late 1960's kicked ass, and they were little more than collections of singles. Radiohead is a "modern" band that still appreciates the importance of a record vs. a bunch of songs.

11:15 AM  
Blogger JMW said...

Better yet, to truly bow to the Age of iTunes, check out these six songs: After the Goldrush, Helpless, Comes a Time, One of These Days, Old Man, Harvest Moon.

5:21 PM  
Blogger JMW said...

Also, there's a Natalie Merchant cover of After the Goldrush that's stone-cold beautiful, no joke.

5:22 PM  
Blogger Dezmond said...

Her cover is great (as is her cover of Bowie's "Space Oddity" from the same live album).

JW, you suggested all acoustic tunes! That is only one side of His Neilness. The whole point was to check out ALBUMS instead of random tunes, but OK, I'll play your reindeer games. My suggestion for a quick 10 song sampler to pull from iTunes or wherever would be:

* "My My, Hey Hey (Out of the Blue)" (not to be confused with "Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black)". The version I'm suggesting is acoustic, the other is electric)
* "Helpless" (try to find the live version from The Band's THE LAST WALTZ where Neil is backed by The Band and Joni Mitchell, but the studio version is fine too)
* "Old Man"
* "Don't Let It Bring You Down" (the live version from Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young's 4 WAY STREET is gorgeous, but that may be hard to find online, so the studio version will suffice)
* "Harvest Moon"
* "Powderfinger" (in my view, one of the best songs lyrically I've ever heard)
* "Cortez the Killer"
* "Cinnamon Girl"
* "Like a Hurricane"
* "Albuquerque"

Check those ten out for a good sampling, but go with those full albums I suggested too!

10:28 AM  
Blogger Dezmond said...

I forgot, I would also suggest "Ohio", which was recorded as Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young (so you might find it that way), but it is really Neil's tune.

12:29 PM  

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