So here we go:
August and Everything After - The Counting Crows
I know why I didn’t like this album when it came out. Too much initial hype. Too much whiny singing. And NO guitar solos. The horror. But after many years and faded memories of all the magazine cover stories, these songs hold up very well. They paint great stories and the band supports the songs – imagine that. We don’t NEED a guitar solo here, folks. It’s about the song. My favorite Counting Crows tune though is a cover that is not on this album. It’s their version of Friend of the Devil. Seek it out. It’ll move you.
Born Again - Black Sabbath
In high school, my buddies and I originally liked this album because it was so bad. I mean the cover itself was enough shock value for us to want to consume this album if it was good or not. Turns out that there are some great moments on it, despite it being a weird release in a dark time for the band. The title track is very stony and who can argue that the riff for Zero the Hero is as pummeling as anything Iommi and crew ever cooked up? Hell, Guns and Roses stole it for Paradise City, so there ya go!
Black and Blue - The Rolling Stones
Sandwiched between the Stones’ more fruitful, Mick Taylor era and the rebirth of the band with Some Girls, Black and Blue was kind of a throwaway. The band itself called the album the ‘guitar audition album’ because they had not hired Ronnie Wood yet and there are a ton of guitar players sitting in on this release. But over the years I have come to realize there is not a bad track on it. Crazy Mama is as rocking as the Stones get, Hand of Fate is a keeper and two of my favorite Stones tunes are on it – Fool to Cry and Memory Motel. Enough said.
I had pretty much written off the Beatles' early stuff as pop pap, with the exception of standout hits like I Saw Her Standing There. But candy-assed tunes like She Loves You always made me think that whole period was not very deep. But checking out the band’s first four albums showed me a couple of things. 1) Lennon was totally in charge of that band, as he sings almost all the songs, and 2) he is much more bluesy and ballsy out of the gate than I had recalled. Songs like All I’ve Got to Do, You’ve Really Got A Hold On Me and You Can’t Do That totally kick ass. This Boy is incredibly bluesy and shows how well these guys could harmonize. Finally, check out their take on Please Mr. Postman. It’s as raw as some of Lennon’s later stuff.
Atom Heart Mother - Pink Floyd
Even the guys in Pink Floyd hate this album. I got it in high school and liked If and Fat Old Sun but that was about it. My perception turned when it came out on CD and it seemed…well, louder. I think they mastered it louder. And it sounded pretty good. The Atom Heart Mother side-long suite is dodgy in spots for sure but has some great moments. The notion of Floyd working with orchestrator/artist Ron Geesin must have seemed like a good idea. But remember that he also did an album with Waters that was nothing but songs made up of body noises. Rick Wright’s sub-par song on side two benefits from killer horn breaks thanks to Geesin. I think Gilmour’s latest work leans back towards Fat Old Sun much more than anything Floyd did in the late 70s or 80s. The album has a kind of dreamy quality and little of the intensity of something like Careful With That Axe Eugene or One of These Days. The night Wright died, for some reason I put this one on and it did the job.
That’s my five. So what else? Three bands I am trying to get into but it just ain’t clicking for me yet are The Foo Fighters, The Decemberists and Wilco. I mean, I like what I hear but maybe they’ll make the next list.
Seano, for your next roundup, how about guilty pleasure albums? Ones we like but probably shouldn’t? I’d be happy to take first crack, and then you can swipe MY idea!