Top 100

#98 Physical Graffiti – Led Zeppelin (1975)

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Track Listing:

  1. Custard Pie
  2. The Rover
  3. In My Time of Dying
  4. Houses of the Holy
  5. Trampled Under Foot
  6. Kashmir
  7. In the Light
  8. Bron-Yr-Aur
  9. Down by the Seaside
  10. Ten Years Gone
  11. Night Flight
  12. The Wanton Song
  13. Boogie with Stu
  14. Black Country Woman
  15. Sick Again

For album number 98, we visit the 1970s and listen to the double album by one of the biggest bands to emerge from this decade – Led Zeppelin’s Physical Graffiti.

First of all I’ve just got to say, wow this album is bloody long, it took me two days of commuting just to get through it all, there is certainly a real spread of genres in there as well. Some songs are very typical Led Zeppelin hard rock such as ‘Custard Pie’ and ‘Houses of the Holy’ but the middle section of this double album is very odd indeed.

The oddness begins from ‘Kashmir’ which is one of the most famous Led Zeppelin songs with it’s big sound courtesy of rolling out a Symphony Orchestra. ‘In The Light’ follows this, which starts off with synthesiser noise which sounds like the mating call of a distressed owl – it is extremely indulgent and sounds like everything that would put me off mid 70s prog rock.

Everything on this album sounds like it took an age to record, I can imagine them recording into the middle of the night, trying to perfect every note on every song, it is very much the antithesis of punk of which came to prominence later in the decade.

If I was to recommend Led Zeppelin to someone, this would probably be the last album I would recommend, not because it is poor, it is purely because it is so experimental. There are a few bizarre tracks such as ‘Boogie with Stu’ with it’s piano which sounds like it was saved from a scrapyard, it feels rather loose to say the least.

The best track for me by far is ‘In My Time of Dying’ which may be just over eleven minutes long but it certainly flies by, it’s a fantastic blues rock song which is definitely worth a listen to, proper foot stomping stuff.

The musicianship on the record is of a very high standard with Jimmy Page’s guitar licks, John Paul Jones’ thundering bass and John Bonham’s incredible drumming. Led Zeppelin must have been a great band to see live as they do sound very tight on record.

So again, not an album for the casual listener but it has certainly piqued my interest in hearing more of their records, of which I am sure there will be more in this top 100.

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Top 100

#99 Fear of Music – Talking Heads (1979)

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Track Listing:-

  1. I Zimbra
  2. Mind
  3. Paper
  4. Cities
  5. Life During Wartime
  6. Memories Can’t Wait
  7. Air
  8. Heaven
  9. Animals
  10. Electric Guitar
  11. Drugs

At number 99 we have an album that is decidedly bleaker than 100. Talking Heads then, I have to admit I know very little about this band. The only Talking Heads songs I know are the famous songs ‘Psycho Killer’ and ‘Once in a Lifetime’ although I dare say there probably are songs by them I’d know if I heard them.

Firstly, this album is a real odd collection of songs in the sense that no song seems to sound like the other, that is rather peculiar as most albums to tend to have a certain style. The album kicks off with ‘I Zimbra’ which put me in mind of the kind of sound Foals are aiming for most of the time. The lyrics er… make no sense whatsoever and the tune sounds like something they have just recorded on the spot, the whole album has that feel to it in fact.

The bass lines on the album are very interesting, especially on ‘Mind’ but in general they do tend to stand out as opposed to being in the background helping to drive the songs.

I would play this album in a dystopic future, where it would be perceived as a feel good album, but it is incredibly bleak sounding but also incredibly loose and they sound like a band expressing their freedom without outside pressure to conform to what the mainstream would have wanted at that time but not too different to a ‘New Wave’ sound.

The best track in my view is ‘Heaven’ which is a little more melodic and stripped back, and David Byrne sounds incredibly haunting in an understated kind of way, their vision of heaven however probably wouldn’t be somewhere I’d want to go, I want lots of things to happen, like being able to ride Unicorns and play the guitar while chewing on a custard donut with Jimi Hendrix.

There are a lot of disco sounding rhythms peppered throughout the album, particularly on ‘Life During Wartime’ which sounds almost funky and is reminiscent of the kind of theme tune that would be on an old PC game called ‘Transport Tycoon’, anyone remember this game, if you can you’re a bona fide geek and no mistake!! I can imagine myself building some railway stations and linking a coal mine with a power station while listening to a tune like this.

This album was definitely an interesting listen, not sure whether it’s music for a sunny March Saturday afternoon while watching Lincoln City vs Forest Green Rover on mute, but I think it may be better for a wintery Wednesday afternoon walking home from work listen.

Top 100

#100 The College Dropout – Kanye West (2004)

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Track Listing:

  1. Intro
  2. We Don’t Care
  3. Graduation Day
  4. All Falls Down
  5. I’ll Fly Away
  6. Spaceship
  7. Jesus Walks
  8. Never Let Me Down
  9. Get Em High
  10. Workout Plan
  11. The New Workout Plan
  12. Slow Jamz
  13. Breathe In Breathe Out
  14. School Skit 1 – Skit 1
  15. School Spirit
  16. School Skit 2 – Skit 2
  17. Lil Jimmy Skit
  18. Two Words
  19. Through The Wire
  20. Family Business
  21. Last Call

So here we go, the start of my brave new adventure. I am going to be reviewing Consequence of Sound’s top 100 albums of all time which was published in 2010.

Number 100 is The College Dropout by Kanye West, which for me is really jumping in at the deep end.

I have never listened to a hip hop album all the way through in it’s entirety. This is a confession I am ok to make. As a white working class lad from Derbyshire, England, my main love is rock music and I will listen to anything with guitars in it. But I have always said that I will listen to all albums objectively and give them all a fair review.

So, my opinion of Kanye West is that he is a rather confident young man who is extremely convinced of his own talent. I expected his debut album to be an unsure sounding record. The sound of a man trying to find his voice in a crowded musical world.

However, his delivery is bold across the album and he has a real talent for rhymes. The production is alse very strong, the tracks meld together seamlessly in places.

Musically, I enjoyed it a lot more than I though I would. In the office today I had a few of the bass loops stuck in my head and also found myself tapping my desk remembering the beats as well.

Lyrically, as you can imagine by the album title it is very anti-education. Kanye seems to forget that we are not all uber talented stars and that we rely on our educations to escape our difficult and rough neighbourhoods. I hope he hasn’t inspired too many people to ditch their schooling and embark on fruitless music careers!

I enjoyed the lyrics on ‘I’ll Fly Away’ as we can all dream of jumping in our metaphorical spaceships and escape our humdrum workaday lives. ‘The New Workout Plan’ was less enjoyable with it’s juvenile silliness.

The album did feel a little long, Kanye probably could have cut a few tracks off especially the skits, particularly towards the end. The last track ‘Last Call’ was fascinating in that it was biographical and revealing.

There were a lot of guest slots on this album and to contradict what I wrote earlier, this may show a slight lack of conviction in his talents as they were quite distracting from his vocals.

I’m not sure I completely understand the hiphop genre yet, however I am interested and curious about the albums within this top 100 that I will encounter.

I am interested to hear how Kanye’s albums have developed over time, whether his albums do indeed justify the ego.

Special

The Great Twenty-Eight – Chuck Berry

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Track Listing:-
1. Maybellene
2. Thirty Days
3. You Can’t Catch Me
4. Too Much Monkey Business
5. Brown Eyed Handsome Man
6. Roll over Beethoven
7. Havana Moon
8. School Days
9. Rock & Roll Music
10. Oh Baby Doll
11. Reelin’ and Rockin’
12. Sweet Little Sixteen
13. Johnny B. Goode
14. Around and Around
15. Carol
16. Beautiful Delilah
17. Memphis
18. Sweet Little Rock & Roller
19. Little Queenie
20. Almost Grown
21. Back in the U.S.A.
22. Let It Rock
23. Bye Bye Johnny
24. I’m Talking About You
25. Come On
26. Nadine
27. No Particular Place to Go
28. I Want to Be Your Driver

On 18th March 2017, we all heard that one of the great pioneers of Rock n Roll music, Chuck Berry had passed away.

There’s no underestimating the impact that Chuck had on the music world, he has continued to be an influence with many bands and solo artists with his guitar solos and showmanship.

So onto the review, this album was released in 1982 and it’s a collection of Berry’s best songs from his Chess years of 1955 to 1965. You can certainly tell as it is just wall to wall great songs including the likes of Johnny B Goode, Sweet Little Sixteen and Rock n Roll Music.

The album acts as a great introduction to Chuck’s music and I imagine this album will probably be listened to quite a lot around the world over the next week or so.

One comment to make about the album, is just how lo-fi it sounds, there isn’t much in regards to production values. But this adds to the appeal of the collection, you don’t need to spend months tweaking the sound of the drum skin or the perfect temperature of the guitar strings and tea.

Personally, I really enjoy his blues driven guitar clearly heavily influenced by T-Bone Walker. The start of his songs generally are startled into life by his trademark blues rock guitar fighting to grab the listener’s attention.

The guitar solos are incredibly energetic and fast, with the rhythm of the drums and double bass helping to drive them along as well. They always sound fresh and heavily improvised which adds to the lo-fi feel of the songs.

The lyrical themes of the album tend to be driven around teenage angst and young live which was a common theme among the music of the time.

What will be a controversial thing to day, some songs on this collection do have a filler feel to them. Such as ‘Brown-Eyed Handsome Man’ and ‘Around and Around’.

But apart from that, the mysic is real toe tapping stuff, and an album that all rock fans should pick up and listen to.

RIP Chuck.

Requests

Love, Ire and Song – Frank Turner

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Track Listing
1. I Knew Prufrock Before He Got Famous
2. Reasons to be an Idiot
3. Photosynthesis
4. Substitute
5. Better Half
6. Love, Ire and Song
7. Imperfect Tense
8. To Take You Home
9. Long Live The Queen
10. A Love Worth Keeping
11. St. Christopher is Coming Home
12. Jet Lag

So, Frank Turner then? Some would say he is the hardest working guy in music. He’s constantly touring far flung places around the world.

Before all of this, he was struggling a little bit. In the aftermath of the disbanding of hardcore punk band Million Dead, he made the good but flawed ‘Sleep is for the Week’ followed by the more confident ‘Love, Ire and Song’. This more confident album is the subject of today’s review.

This is one of Miranda’s favourite albums, she was being very indecisive in choosing an album for me to review so I effectively chose it on her behalf.

The album starts with the slow burner ‘I Knew Prufrock Before He Got Famous’ with it’s declaration about life being about love, last minutes and lost evenings. It ends with the unforgettable line “the only thing that’s left do, is get another round in at the bar”.

This song pretty much sets the tone of the album. The attitude throughout is quintessentially British, melancholic but plucky. Things will go wrong but nothing that a cuppa tea or something stronger won’t solve.

‘Love, Ire and Song’ is packed full of punky folk anthems such as ‘Photosynthesis’ with it’s rebellious declaration of “I won’t sit down, and I won’t shut up, and most of all I will not grow up”. The kind of song you’d expect a crowd to bark back at him, as a lot of his songs are.

Something that comes across well is Turner’s bold and confident singy shouty vocal, particularly on the title track. This song is an angry ode to disillusionment and one of defeat but calls for one last swan song and somehow manages to stir something in the heart.

A highlight is ‘Long Live the Queen’, it is a song about the passing away of one of Frank’s friends, which again communicates that bad things happen but life goes on. This is a message that is conveyed throught the album.

Last track ‘Jetlag’ is a favourite, a different turn of pace being piano led, and a bit of a humblebrag from Mr Turner as he sings about falling for 15 different girls. But it is a song that people in long distance relationships can certainly identify with. Frank comes across as jaded and exhausted by love, an album which has differing attitudes ro it including hopefulness and despair.

So, it is generally a good album, Miranda certainly loves it, and if there’s another album that gets her singing and dancing as loud as she does with this one, I’m yet to hear it!

Requests

Hounds of Love – Kate Bush

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Tracklist:-
1. Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God)
2. Hounds Of Love
3. The Big Sky
4. Mother Stands For Comfort
5. Cloudbusting
6. And Dream Of Sheep
7. Under Ice
8. Waking The Witch
9. Watching You Without Me
10. Jig Of Life
11. Hello Earth
12. The Morning Fog

This album was a particularly challenging listen, thanks to Naomi for the request. I had never listened to a Kate Bush album before today and I only knew of one song ‘Hounds Of Love’ of which I had only heard The Futureheads rather excellent cover version, you can listen to their version by searching for it on Youtube, it’s well worth a listen.

So to Kate Bush then, first of all my opinion of Kate Bush before listening to this album is that she is a crazy cat lady, the album cover really did not help with that image, if you by some odd chance you bump into her in the street she’d probably look like this:-

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All joking aside though Kate Bush is an extremely successful artist for whom there is a lot of love, clearly demonstrated by her sold out run of shows last year. It has to be said this album is really rather good.

The album starts with the synth led ‘Running Up That Hill (A Deal with God)’ which sounds quintessentially 80s and reminds me a lot of the Pet Shop Boys. A lot of tracks are driven by this style, but other songs have beautiful string arrangements. Some tracks are quite frankly disturbing with the likes of ‘Waking the Witch’ which would give you nightmares for days to come. The startling vocals from the song sounds like some kind of demon. The song for me drove my imagination to think of Bush sitting in a corner with demons flying around her head, constantly haunting and taunting her.

‘Hounds of Love’ is a highlight, I love the way that she says the word “throw”, delivered with such drive and abandon. It managed to knock the Futureheads version out of my head (for a little while anyway).

My favourite tracks on this album though are where Bush sings in a wonderful, understated and intimate way on tracks such as ‘And Dream of Sheep’.  The track is just Bush with her piano, it is a beautifully crafted song where you could really dream of woolly mammals.

The lyrical themes for me seem very striking, there seems to be a lot of fear in Bush’s words in which she creates the impression of a little girl who is very scared. She is scared of the wider world and the dangers that it brings, such as pain and despair. This is delivered sublimely by her emotive vocal style which really grabs your attention.

There is also a song called ‘Jig of Life’ which has a real celtic feel to it with the fiddle playing a upbeat tune. ‘Jig of Life’ is a song that sounds full of hope after the darkness of which preceded it.

I hope some of you will find the time to listen to this album on the back of the review. It is a slow burner and may take a few listens to ‘get’, but please do as you will certainly be rewarded.

Requests

Heroes – David Bowie

 

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Tracklist:-

1.Beauty And The Beast
2.Joe The Lion
3.Heroes
4.Sons Of The Silent Age
5.Black Out
6.V-2 Schneider
7.Sense Of Doubt
8.Moss Garden
9.Neukoln
10.The Secret Life Of Arabia

First of all, a special thanks to my mate Dave for suggesting I listen to this album, before I crack on with my ‘Top 100 of all time’ project I thought it would be fun to cut my teeth with a few requests from friends.

So I just want to say that I have never listened to this album so I didn’t know what to expect as I put it on my headphones and set off out of my door this morning to go to work.

First impressions are that it is a very different David Bowie than what I had listened to before, I have listened to the likes of ‘Hunky Dory’ and ‘…Ziggy Stardust…’ many times and I have enjoyed them all. This album however sounds a lot more experimental, electronic and ambient than these.

The album was released in 1977, when punk was starting to emerge as a real mainstream force with the likes of Sex Pistols and The Clash emerging onto the music scene. This album was probably an antidote to this sound, not that I am saying punk doesn’t have it’s merits of course. I am a big fan of The Clash and many of the bands I love were heavily influenced by the sound that emerged at this time.

The album seems to be split into two halves, the first half being vocally lead songs that feel very personal lyrically and deal with themes such as alcoholism. The lyrics feel that he was reflecting exactly how he felt at the time, the songs Bowie sings do not feel premeditated at all and sound very off the cuff.

The second half however has a lot of moody instrumentals, where the album cover where Bowie looks like some kind of mad magician really represents the music well, I really loved the crazy saxophone parts and the very eastern feeling that this half has in places. ‘Sense of Doubt’ certainly exudes a real feeling of dread, and it made me feel very uneasy especially when walking through a particularly gloomy, overcast part of Derby with it’s decaying terraced houses and depressed looking people stomping off to work.

This part of the album also sounded like a soundtrack to a ‘Labyrinth’ prequel in which Bowie wrote the soundtrack and gave the best bad acting performance these eyes have ever seen.

All in all, it is a very dark album, which matches the Cold War environment within post war Berlin where it was recorded. The album evokes images of the wall with it’s guards marching up and down purveying the bomb hit scene which surrounds them.

The stand out track is of course the famous title track which is a soaring masterpiece which has not lost it’s effect of making the listener feel like they are ten feet tall, despite being covered by countless lesser respected artists such as one year’s X Factor contestants horrific, laboured effort.

To conclude, this is an album I would definitely listen to again, it is evidence that David Bowie truly deserves his place amongst the heroes of music (sorry, pun intended!).