20 faves #18: hüsker dü, new day rising

18th of 20, roughly by chronology.

I chose Dirty Mind over later, perhaps "better", Prince albums because it has a special place in my life. If I were going by the same concept, this 18th album would be Zen Arcade, which I played over and over. Still play it, especially "Turn on the News", one of Grant Hart's best (my fave of his remains "Sorry, Somehow", for the way he sings, "You're making me sorry, sorry somehow, AND I'M NOT SORRY!"). But New Day Rising gets my vote. It's not as sprawling as Zen Arcade, and while Hüsker Dü played in more than one style, the overwhelming sonic power is best when compacted into what we used to call a single disc. The opening cut and title track is in some ways the ultimate Hüsker track ... the entire lyrics being "New day rising" repeated over and over atop a noise squall ... if nothing else, that one must have imprinted itself on my kids' brains, I bet if I mentioned Hüsker Dü to them now, in their 40s, they'd say "New Day Rising!". And there's my favorite of all favorite Hüsker Dü songs, the one I quote regularly because it's the story of my life, but I can't really get it in words, because like with Grant in "Sorry, Somehow", Bob Mould's vocals are crucial:

So now sit around we're staring at the walls
We don't do anything at all
Take out the garbage, maybe, BUT THE DISHES DON'T GET DONE!!!!!!!!

My wife, who loved the Ramones, never liked Hüsker Dü, because of the noise. I'd tell her that they wrote great pop songs, just like the Ramones, and they were loud, just like the Ramones, but she'd say they were just noise. She was probably right. For me, though, the way the sound of the instruments all bleed into each other is the primary appeal.

New day rising


music friday: 1991

Nirvana, "Smells Like Teen Spirit". I saw Pink perform this song earlier this year. She did a very straightforward version, which only shows that the original is already perfect.

The Geto Boys, "Mind Playing Tricks on Me". As important to rap music as "Teen Spirit" was to grunge.

Bonnie Raitt, "I Can't Make You Love Me". 1989's Nick of Time was supposedly her comeback, and it did indeed reach #1 and win a lot of Grammys. But Luck of the Draw was a much better album.

The Feelies, "Sooner or Later". I preferred their previous album, Only Life, but I saw them in 1991 (second time, first being in '89), so they're just fine right here.

A Tribe Called Quest, "Scenario". Ladies and gentlemen, Busta Rhymes.

Saint Etienne, "Nothing Can Stop Us". I'm not entirely sure how two songs from the same album ended up on two different Music Friday lists, but whatever. This was their first release with Sarah Cracknell.

fIREHOSE, "Flyin' the Flannel". They headlined that 1991 show with The Feelies. I think the wrong band was headlining.

Naughty by Nature, "O.P.P.". Even with all of the other great songs from his year (including a few on this list), I'm not sure any record puts us right back in 1991 better than this one.

Eg & Alice, "Indian". Confession: I've never heard of these folks.

My Bloody Valentine, "Only Shallow". If we're to believe Christgau, this was an almost-great band. His grades for their first four albums (one an EP): A- A- A- A-.

Spotify playlist ... a couple of songs weren't available, so I added two surprises. 


today i am 65 years old

The first time I had a birthday during the life of this blog was 2002. I was, what, 49 years old. Doesn't seem so old to me now, although it seemed ancient when I was 19. On that first-ever birthday post, I quoted Pink ... yes, I've been doing that for 16 years. Here are the lyrics I quoted, along with the song's video, which is deep ... I used it in class a couple of time.

I'm a hazard to myself
Don't let me get me
I'm my own worst enemy
It's bad when you annoy yourself
So irritating
Don't want to be my friend no more
I wanna be somebody else
-- Pink, "Don't Let Me Get Me"

 

 


20 faves #17: prince, dirty mind

17th of 20, roughly by chronology.

I'm showing my age ... it took me 17 albums to reach the 80s.

I've chosen Dirty Minds for my Prince album. Others might be better ... Purple Rain, Sign 'o the Times ... but this is when I discovered him, and so here it is. Every song is at least good, some are great, "When You Were Mine" is a classic. As great as this album is, Prince's talents were so diverse that Dirty Mind only begins to suggest future directions. And, oh yeah, there's a lot of sex on this album. As Christgau said, "Mick Jagger should fold up his penis and go home."

Dirty mind


music friday: 1990

Sinéad O'Connor, "Nothing Compares 2 U". One of the all-time great videos.

Primal Scream, "Loaded". The band gave a song from their previous album to DJ Andrew Weatherall to remix. This was the result.

A Tribe Called Quest, "Bonita Applebum". Among the definitions for "bonita applebum" at the Urban Dictionary, we get "A girl with a nice booty."

The Cocteau Twins, "Iceblink Luck". The distinctive vocals are by Elizabeth Fraser.

Digital Underground, "The Humpty Dance". Sampled in more than 100 songs.

LL Cool J, "Mama Said Knock You Out". This is one of the 100+.

Saint Etienne, "Only Love Can Break Your Heart". Neil Young, covered by an indie dance band. The band's singer, Sarah Cracknell, hadn't joined yet, so the vocals are by Moira Lambert. Lambert refused to be in the video, so a third singer, Lucy Golden, lip syncs Lambert's vocals in the video. (I think ... this gets complicated.)

Happy Mondays, "Kinky Afro". #1 in the U.S., and a key song from the Manchester music scene.

Madonna, "Justify My Love". The Immaculate Collection is one of the best albums of all time.

Public Enemy, "Welcome to the Terrordome". There is a lot of hip-hop on this 1990 list, which makes sense. The four tracks also demonstrate the variety of music being made at the time within the genre. A Tribe Called Quest doesn't sound like Digital Underground, who don't sound like LL Cool J, who didn't sound like Public Enemy.

In honor of the World Cup, here is how the United States made it to the 1990 tournament in Italy:

 


20 faves #16: the clash, london calling

16th of 20, roughly by chronology.

Favorites lists are by definition personal. Many of the albums I've chosen made room for me to climb inside, which led to a lifetime of connections. London Calling worked the opposite way: it climbed inside of me. I always had an odd relationship to punk ... steelworker, married with two kids, a fairly mundane life. But it mattered to me, and none of the punk bands mattered as much as The Clash. The ambition behind London Calling was life-affirming, that a genre that was so simple originally could expand so effectively in such a short time. The Ramones were simpler than most, and they mostly just worked at getting better at simplicity. The Clash took on the world. Perhaps no song demonstrated this better than "The Right Profile", "about" Montgomery Clift. Some songs spoke to my soul as an unhappy factory worker ... "Clampdown", obviously, and "Death or Glory".

There are many interpretations of the line "London is drowning, and I live by the river". To me, it signified the ways living by the river meant we were always in danger of drowning, but when the whole city is drowning, well, welcome to our world. It reminds me of "River's Gonna Rise" by David and David.

London calling


20 faves #15: marianne faithfull, broken english

15th of 20, roughly by chronology.

When I posted a video of a Rolling Stones song earlier in this series, I said there was someone in the video who would turn up later on my list. Phil Dellio correctly guessed Marianne Faithfull. Hers is one of the great comeback stories in rock and roll. So good, in fact, that she had more than one comeback, I guess. Anyway, Faithfull was inextricably linked to the Stones, so there was some irony when Broken English came out a year after Some Girls. Some Girls was the last great Stones album. They never again produced anything as good as ... well, as Broken English. The title track was classic, "The Ballad of Lucy Jordan" fit right into Thelma and Louise, her "Working Class Hero" was definitive, and "Why'd Ya Do It" ... well ...

Broken english


music friday: 1989

Public Enemy, "Fight the Power". An all-time great opening credits sequence.

Madonna, "Like a Prayer". My favorite Madonna song.

The Pixies, "Debaser". I am un chien andalusia.

The Stone Roses, "Fools Gold". My knowledge of Stone Roses begins and ends with "Love Spreads". This is not that song.

De La Soul, "Me Myself and I". Their debut album finished first in that year's Pazz and Jop poll. Counting anthologies, they've reached double digits in albums released.

Janet Jackson, "Rhythm Nation". Wikipedia: "It is the only album in the history of the US Billboard Hot 100 singles chart to have seven commercial singles peak within the top five positions. It is also the only album to produce number one hits on the chart in three separate calendar years (1989–1991)."

Electronic, "Getting Away with It". They're a supergroup, but I prefer my Bernard Sumner New-Order Style.

Tone-Lōc, "Funky Cold Medina". So catchy, I never really paid attention to the lyrics, which wander into date rape territory.

Queen Latifah, "Ladies First". The title sums up Latifah's debut ... well, the album title does that even better (All Hail the Queen).

Lou Reed, "Dirty Blvd". This marked the last of many times I saw Lou in concert.

Bonus:


20 faves #13: patti smith, horses

13th of 20, roughly by chronology.

I'm up to 1975 now, which means punk is beginning to rear its head. Patti Smith is not only the first punk artist on my list, she was the first punk artist we saw live, in 1976. (It occurs to me that we saw all of the last 8 artists on the list in concert, at least once and often more than once. The joys of being an adult with a coupla bucks in your pocket.) More than half of the remaining albums are punk, or rooted in punk. This emphasis (some would say, over-emphasis) on punk means a couple of powerful genres won't make my list. Disco never struck me as an album-oriented art, so that's not a big loss (if you need some disco for the soundtrack, play "Don't Leave Me This Way" by Thelma Houston). And hip-hop disappears under the punk onslaught (the last two hip-hop albums I cut were It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back, and Paul's Boutique). I've made it this far without saying anything about why Horses matters so much to me. Perhaps the accompanying video, which features a couple of songs from Horses being performed 40 years down the road, helps explain it.

Horses