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It is a shame that this isn't a proper album for The Bee Gees, but a soundtrack of various artists instead. About half of the songs on this collection were written and/or sung by The Bee Gees. It sold more than any of The Bee Gees' proper albums, and so there is a level of credit and money which the group misses out on because of the release's circumstances. It's a shame. If you remove the Brothers Gibb from this soundtrack, it would be a nice time capsule, but it wouldn't be the source of adoration or inspiration which it is.

It starts off with four Bee Gees tracks, wanders through other artists such as Kool & the Gang, KC & the Sunshine Band, Yvonne Elliman, and The Trammps. There are some instrumentals such as "A Fifth of Beethoven" and "Night on Disco Mountain" that combine classical with disco. This album really is a historical snapshot of a time and place; one good enough to inspire much of the general public in the late 70's to revive the already declining disco movement.

Songs I Knew I Liked: “Stayin' Alive”, “How Deep Is Your Love”, “Night Fever”, “More Than a Woman” (both versions), “If I Can't Have You”, “Manhattan Skyline”, “Night on Disco Mountain”, “Open Sesame”, “Jive Talkin'”, “You Should Be Dancing”, “K-Jee”, and “Disco Inferno”

Songs I Now Like: Nothing new

Songs I Don't Want to Ever Hear Again: None


I think I'm willing to say that this is the first Bruce Springsteen album I didn't dread. I wouldn't want to listen to it a lot, but when it would come time to listen to The Wild, the Innocent, & the E Street Shuffle, I actually chose to give this album repeat listens rather than taking either of the next two albums in the list (Saturday Night Fever Soundtrack and Black Sabbath's Paranoid) a spin since “it's actually not painful.”

Sorry, but this big band style of rock may have Meatloaf to blame, but that's what I am constantly thinking of during so many of the 70's rock band-Springsteen songs. It is tainted as cheesy and a bit over the top in my mind. I think part of what I like about WI&ESS is that Bruce demonstrates a good sense of humor in several of the songs. Maybe that permission for me to laugh at the song and not to have to take it seriously allows me to relax a bit about it?

Taste preferences aside, the performances on this album are done by an enthusiastic and tight musical unit. There is a raw, bar band, jam-based energy that makes this album glow. Some really jazzy elements permeate tracks such as “Kitty's Back”. When wanting to analyze why I enjoy the “E Street Shuffle”, I start noticing all of the disco in the song - with the wah-wah pedal, a Meters-inspired bass, the keyboard choices, and the Latino percussion breakdown at the tail end. It sounds as if the band is having a blast during so many moments on WI&ESS and I think I found it contagious on occasion.

Songs I Knew I Liked: None

Songs I Now Like: “The E Street Shuffle” and “Kitty's Back”

Songs I Don't Want to Ever Hear Again: None

134 - The Notorious B.I.G. - Ready to Die



Ready to Die gets praise for me with its autobiographical “concept”. I understand that the recording was done in two sessions and that Biggie tweaked his style a little between the two sessions. That may be part of the reason why I don't have a consistent opinion on his rapping. I like his occasional dense rhyming but there are times he gets aggressive and he loses his calm “coolness” to me and seems kinda lame.

The sampling is interesting. It seems more transitional from the gangster rap template put together by Dr Dre to the larger pop sampling Puffy was evolving towards. There are times the samples reiterate a documentary feel. The standard of having a female singer as an angel juxtaposed with the rapper as a devil just doing the best he can in the hell he's in is used a good bit here.

Songs I Knew I Liked: None

Songs I Now Like: None

Songs I Don't Want to Ever Hear Again: None

135 - Pavement - Slanted and Enchanted



I never got into Pavement when they first came out. For me, the low-fi production was appropriate for their style but low-fi was not a sound I really enjoyed much (other than Steve Albini's production on PJ Harvey's Rid of Me). Pavement was one of those bands that my friends enjoyed and I listened to when around them. I'm listening to the album for a second time now and I am surprised with how little this music does for me. It just isn't clicking with me. There are moments like “Conduit for Sale!” where they remind me of The Minutemen or sound very iconic (knowing the album predates the songs I know which sound familiar). But I can't get into Slanted and Enchanted for some reason.

Maybe it is the disaffected vocal delivery of so many of the songs... Maybe it is the low-fi production... Maybe it is the slack and loose playing where everyone seems just a partial beat off from everyone else... I dunno. The Replacements were sloppy and I enjoyed it. What is the difference between my liking that and not enjoying this? Maybe it is because The Replacements seemed like they were aiming for a rocking performance and just did a sloppy job. Pavement isn't sloppy just in the performance, the whole process of song creation has a slacker take. The Replacements' not caring vs Pavement's intentional off-kilter – maybe that's the difference in how I'm reacting.

The closest I came to liking a song was “Two States” and its marching rhythm.

Songs I Knew I Liked: None

Songs I Now Like: None

Songs I Don't Want to Ever Hear Again: “No Life Singed Her” and “Fame Throwa”

Prince RIP

I wanted to give myself some time before I put down on my blog my feelings on the passing of Prince. I started writing this blog post about a week after his death. I got distracted and then totally forgot about it until I came to LJ just now to do another post and the site said it had a saved draft. So...below is a somewhat incomplete post about Prince's impact in my life.

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One of the first things to come in mind was David Bowie's recent death. In that aftermath, I shared how he affected me. When I looked back at what I wrote on FB about him, much of what I said about Bowie goes a thousandfold for Prince. Maybe if I was 10 or 15 years older, Bowie would get the essential credit for influencing me. But as a guy who's formative years were in the 80's, Prince was my pop culture reference to a star who was androgynous, alien-like, and demonstrated musical genius on many albums with a sound that was both authentic to the artist and evolving into something new and different from the previous releases.

I first became aware of Prince with "I Wanna Be Your Lover" in the early 80's when I was 7-9 years old. I caught it on the radio a couple of times and liked it. A year or two later, Chaka Khan released "I Feel For You" and I somehow became aware of the Prince connection and that this meant I liked two of his songs (an important stat to keep in the olden days when singles were fine, but knowing you could get a bunch of songs you like for $8 or whatever was actually priceless). It was with the release of the various singles from 1999 - especially the exposure via Solid Gold - that I started to consider myself a Prince fan. (I may have also heard "Party Up" at some point during this period of my life. When I later bought a Dirty Mind/Controversy double-album cassette, "Party Up" sounded very familiar.

But I knew as a 10 year old, that I wasn't supposed to be part of Prince's fan base and that I probably shouldn't own any of his albums. I could enjoy "Little Red Corvette" as the Solid Gold dancers pranced around the stage or sing along with "1999" on the radio, but it never crossed my mind that I could buy the album and not get into some level of hassle or trouble with my parents for the purchase.

When Purple Rain came out, the push and pull on whether or not to buy an album became a practical concern and not just a passing dismissive thought. I enjoyed every song I heard. I wouldn't be shocked if I did buy a 45 of "When Doves Cry" but can't recall for certain and considering the 45s I've kept, I would expect that song to still be in my collection. If I didn't get a 45 of "When Doves Cry," I don't think I got up to buy my first Prince album until 1987 when Sign O the Times came out and I started 8th grade. I either got Sign or Purple Rain on cassette first at that age. From that point on, I started buying up previous and future releases.

Prince was my primary musical influence during high school. He quickly became the musical act of which I had the most albums and who I would most readily identify as my favorite. I never owned Purple Rain on vinyl, so when I broke one of my Walkmen so it wouldn't flip sides any more - instead merely playing the top side in reverse, the first thing I wanted to do was to put my cassette copy in and listen to the end of "Darling Nikki". I would recite the monologue from the end of "If I Was Your Girlfriend" to girls I was interested in. I dreamed of a woman who would be a combination of the females in "Starfish and Coffee" and "Raspberry Beret", as well as "Delirious" and "Do Me, Baby".

When I hiked the Appalachian Trail between my junior and senior year in high school, I took my Walkman and two cassettes. One of those cassettes was my Prince Dirty Mind/Controversy double album tapes. It was shortly after that trip, that Prince's influence really started to wane. Diamonds and Pearls was the album that I realized that Prince and I were parting ways; the headscratching I did with Graffiti Bridge wasn't just with that one project.

I did buy Emancipation and Crystal Ball. But didn't buy another Prince album until 3121.

Tags:

136 - Elton John - Greatest Hits (1974)



Ugh, a greatest hits album. I guess I can only protest so much because this is the only Elton John CD I own. However, I've already stated that I'm no longer going to review greatest hits albums and won't change that stance for this.

137 - The Replacements - Tim



I've had respect for The Replacements since college, but I've never been all that hooked on their songs. That has changed some after listening to Tim. When I listened to Let It Be, I heard a ragged band which just seemed to be having fun. That group of rowdy guys are still on this album, but there is more diversity in song styles on here. My first impression after my first listen was that the bar cover band got drunk after their set and started making up shit...and that shit ended up actually being really listenable and enjoyable. There are folk songs, ballads, rockabilly-like stompers, and what could be said are 80's college rock templates copied many times over. While they covered KISS's “Black Diamond” elsewhere, “Dose of Thunder” could have easily have been by most any other hard rock band.

Part of the charm also is on the somewhat low-fi production. It doesn't sound like Paul was isolated in a booth when he sang the songs. And, if he was, they mixed his vocals into of the instruments instead of on top. It is like the best live club recording ever, but lackluster by studio standards.

Songs I Knew I Liked: I thought I knew “Left of the Dial” but it didn't sound familiar once I heard it.

Songs I Now Like: “Hold My Life”, “Kiss Me On the Bus”, “Swingin Party”, “Bastards of Young”, “Left of the Dial” and...well, “Lay It Down” kinda grew on me with its honky tonk sloppiness.

Songs I Don't Want to Ever Hear Again: None

138 - Dr Dre - The Chronic



Damn, it was tough getting a copy of this to review. Dr Dre did a remix in 2000s and that is all over the place, but the original version of The Chronic isn't on Spotify or YouTube.

The Chronic was one of the few gangsta rap albums of the 90's that had songs I liked. Otherwise, I was annoyed with how gangsta rap overran hip hop and shoved acts like De La Soul and Digable Planets off the scene. One of what I enjoy about many of these tracks is the laid back delivery by Dre and Snoop. My brother had this CD and played it a ton over the summer of '93. Of the rap CDs he had, this was the one I kept asking for him to put into the player.

Hearing it in the entirety today, what jumped out to me were the shrill sampled keyboards and how similar this felt to when I listened to Kool Moe Dee and other Old School rappers who used the new genre to boast all about themselves. The Chronic is a mix of that Old School braggadocio with the "rap as news" approach of Public Enemy and such. The samples poke and prod at the listener - whether we are talking about instruments or movie/TV/other clips - keeping you a bit jittery and definitely not at ease. The album is really tight with many tracks either running into the next or there not being any space between songs. This is a constant barage to the listener; no rest.

At the same time, there is a casual and laid-back aspect to much of the rapping. Dre and Snoop show their appreciation of movie baddies who could scare you with a detached air. While there are guests popping up here and there being loud and violent, IMO a big strength of this album is the too-cool-to-care rapping style which does occupy much of The Chronic.

Upon repeat listens, I found myself really enjoying the first chunk of the album and then lost interest for the most part as the album progressed.

Songs I Knew I Liked: "Fuck Wit Dre Day", "Let Me Ride", "Nuthin' But A "G" Thing", and "Rat-Tat-Tat-Tat"

Songs I Now Like: "The Day the Niggaz Took Over"

Songs I Don't Want to Hear Again: "The $20 Sack Pyramid", "Lyrical Gangbang", "The Doctor's Office"

139 – The Meters – Rejuvenation


Compared to the other album of theirs I've heard, Look-Ka Py Py, Rejuvenation is still funk, but a distinctly different sound. This gets more into the area of funk I'd more closely envision Parliament/Funkadelic doing. There are moments of soul in here too. It is kind of a sloppy album with its eclectic influences and shifting sounds from song to song. The production is loose and instruments are varied.

Songs I Knew I Liked: “Africa”

Songs I Now Like: “What 'cha Say” and “Loving You is On My Mind”

Songs I Don't Want to Ever Hear Again: None

Answer for question 4598.

Are you introvert, extrovert, or somewhere in the middle? How does this affect your day-to-day life? Is there any particular time you wish you could be more reserved or more outgoing?
The best I can describe it is that I am an introvert who loves to perform. It is one-on-one engagement that strikes fear in me. But put me on a stage or whatever where I am dealing with a crowd and not a collection of individuals and I am out of my shell, have hardly any shame, and will have most folks convinced I am a complete extrovert. Alas, the performing is quite draining, so while I can "perform" some times in one-on-one interaction to overcome my social anxiety, I can't keep it up long and will have to retreat and recharge my batteries ASAP.