Thursday, September 27, 2007

You Almost Forget

You almost forget what a great album Green Day's "American Idiot" is, until you rediscover it on a drive home from work on a random Wednesday night, sandwiched on your iPod between the sound stylings of the Grateful Dead and Guns N' Roses, and in the process of becoming reacquainted with its across-the-board brilliance actually become a little irritated with yourself for neglecting it as long as you have.

I'm mindful of the fact that it's been a while since I've posted anything here beyond triumphant Ava soccer photos, so as I continue to wait for the kids to do something worth writing about, (we're considering taking their books and crayons away as inducement to provide some new blog-worthy material), I thought I would compile and publish a list of my top five albums of all time. Shamelessly self-indulgent, I know, but you do what you can with what you have.

This list is confined to works of music I was actually old enough to buy and experience at the time of release. So even though I spent the better part of the spring of '87 walking around London listening to Bob Dylan's "Blonde On Blonde" on my Sony Walkman, and have devoted countless hours and music-buying dollars to the Beatles, Beach Boys, The Doors and Jimi Hendrix - not to mention Frank, Dean and Raffi - their fine efforts were not eligible.

As is the case with any kind of "top" list, there were definitely some near misses. Oasis was considered, but I didn't want to burn that option for a future compilation of alcohol and drug-induced sibling rivalries. Pearl Jam's "Ten" was probably the closest call. I got into a major Pearl Jam phase for a while, before the band decided to squander a truly golden opportunity for enduring world domination in a noble but ultimately misguided attempt to save children everywhere from the evils of Ticketmaster. (Note to Eddie Vedder - we're all still paying those venue fees and service charges. Buying your music? Not so much.)

So here they are, in no particular order, my all-time favorite albums/cds:

Green Day "American Idiot" - amazing on its own, the "Bullet in a Bible" cd/dvd offers a terrific chance to hear and see much of the same material live. If there's recorded concert performance that captures as much blind energy and sweeping scale as this show, I don't know about it.

Radiohead "OK Computer" - what can I say? If there was a #1 on the list, this might be it, and even though the band moved almost immediately from this moment into an extended campaign of audience abuse and frequently unintelligible studio "experimentation," the triumph of this stunning achievement in sound endures. Hey Thom - what say we get back to some songs? There's always David Bowie's "Low" for anyone who wants sit alone in a darkened room and listen to the kind of stuff you've been churning out lately.

U2 "The Joshua Tree" - no elaboration necessary. The other candidate for #1, without a doubt. I can't believe it's been 20 years since I bought this, in the form of a cassette tape, popped it into my Walkman and listened to the opening notes of "Where the Streets Have No Name" about 500 times before I got any further. Luckily, the rest of it was just as good, and Bono and the boys truly leveraged this monumental success by solidifying themselves as the Biggest Band In The World for years (decades?) to come.

The Jesus and Mary Chain "Automatic" - Epically underrated. If you are ever faced with a cross-country drive, grab some caffeine, put this disc on auto-repeat and my bet is you don't even notice the road until about Nebraska.

Counting Crows
"August and Everything After" - Remember the wonder of this, when it was new, before Counting Crows started looking an awful lot like a slightly upscale version of Hootie and the Blowfish or Toad The Wet Sprocket? Adam Duritz at his singing and songwriting best, before he had the chance to decide that we'd all rather hear him talk... and talk... and TALK. Adam, a 90-minute live album shouldn't include 60 minutes of long and incongruous preambles to the music. We don't need an extended monologue on the specific kind of Birkenstocks you were wearing when you walked down Sullivan Street, no one cares, we just want to hear you sing the song.

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