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Favorite Edition Rewind: 1989

[De La Soul - 3 Feet And and Rising]

A decade ago, I wrote a series of entries ranking my favorite albums from 1985 to 2004. My collection has expanded greatly since then, particularly in the last five years. So I wanted to see what has changed in 10 years.

It shouldn’t be a surprise the largest expansion in my collection focuses on the late 1980s, i.e. my high school years. The Favorite 10 list from these years won’t see much change, as 1989 demonstrates, but the expanded lists risk becoming ridiculously long.

  1. The B-52’s, Cosmic Thing
  2. Camper Van Beethoven, Key Lime Pie
  3. Julee Cruise, Floating Into the Night
  4. Faith No More, The Real Thing
  5. Steve Reich, Different Trains/Electric Counterpoint
  6. Fugazi, 13 Songs
  7. Emmylou Harris, Bluebird
  8. Tears for Fears, The Seeds of Love
  9. Madonna, Like a Prayer
  10. Janet Jackson, Rhythm Nation 1814

Other favorites from the year:

  • The Replacements, Don’t Tell a Soul
  • Hoodoo Gurus, Magnum Cum Louder
  • All About Eve, Scarlet and Other Stories
  • XTC, Oranges and Lemons
  • De La Soul, 3 Feet High and Rising
  • Nirvana, Bleach
  • Pixies, Doolittle
  • Wayne Horvitz / The President, Bring Yr Camera
  • John Zorn, Spy Vs. Spy
  • Bulgarian State Radio and Television Female Vocal Choir, Le Mystère de Voix Bulgares, Vol. 2
  • Nakamori Akina, CRUISE
  • Depeche Mode, 101

Fugazi displaces The Replacements, who made a shot for the charts by cleaning up their sound.

I saw this ad in Pulse magazine and scoffed at it:

[I came in for U2. I came out with De La Soul]

Today, I nod my head and say, “Yeah, that’s about right.” But it took 30 years before I had enough life experience to understand how breathtaking 3 Feet High and Rising is.

Nevermind introduced me to Nirvana like the rest of the world, but I prefer Bleach.

The events in Nakamori Akina’s life at the time CRUISE was released overshadowed the maturity of the album. It’s not ground-breaking the way Fushigi is, but it’s an album that could have only been recorded after it.

I saw Depeche Mode in concert in 2017, and 101 ruined my experience of it. I had been listening to 101 in the weeks leading up to the concert, and understandably, the band stacked the set list more toward recent work than “the hits”.

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Favorite Edition Rewind: 1992

[Helmet - Meantime]

A decade ago, I wrote a series of entries ranking my favorite albums from 1985 to 2004. My collection has expanded greatly since then, particularly in the last five years. So I wanted to see what has changed in 10 years.

We’ve actually revisited 1992 earlier in the year, and this list hasn’t changed, although I did tack on L7 and Helmet in the extended list.

  1. Wayne Horvitz / The President, Miracle Mile
  2. Máire Brennan, Máire
  3. Henryk Górecki, Symphony No. 3 (Dawn Upshaw, David Zinman, London Sinfonietta)
  4. k.d. lang, Ingenue
  5. Sade, Love Deluxe
  6. En Vogue, Funky Divas
  7. Prince and the New Power Generation, 0(+> (Love Symbol Album)
  8. Emmylou Harris and the Nash Ramblers, At the Ryman
  9. Kronos Quartet, Pieces of Africa
  10. Robin Holcomb, Rockabye

Other favorites from the year:

  • The Sugarcubes, Stick Around for Joy
  • Faith No More, Angel Dust
  • Sonic Youth, Dirty
  • Helmet, Meantime
  • L7, Bricks Are Heavy

Helmet got caught up in the grunge craze of the early ’90s, even though they were clearly not grunge. Wikipedia says Helmet’s staccato riffage would influence Mastodon, Marilyn Manson, Nine Inch Nails, Korn and Linkin Park.

I’ll admit I picked up Meantime because of the grunge-adjacent marketing hype. I didn’t hold onto it, but like Shudder to Think’s Pony Express Record, I couldn’t shake it. So I brought it back into my collection when it was reissued on vinyl earlier in the year.

Bricks Are Heavy also suffered a bit of guilt by association. Butch Vig had been doing miraculous work with Smashing Pumpkins, Nirvana and Sonic Youth. Surely, L7 would follow in that vein. I didn’t warm up to it. I’m not sure how 25 years turned around my perception of the album, but it did.

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Looking ahead: July-August 2016

[Blood Orange - Freetown - Sound]

The Favorite Edition 2016 list will be published next week, and if it’s any indication, the release schedule for the rest of the year will probably not be terribly impressive.

James Blake, The Colour in Anything, July 1

Blake dropped this album many weeks back, and I’ve listened to it enough times to make me question whether I would really want to own a physical copy of it. Does it really need to have 17 tracks and be more than an hour long? A lot of interesting things happening on the album, and as many things that induce sleep.

YEN TOWN BAND, diverse journey, July 20

I wonder what prompted YEN TOWN BAND to reunite after 19 years. The band is actually fictional — CHARA played the role of Glico in the film Swallowtail, in which she led a group called YEN TOWN BAND. MONTAGE is probably one of my favorite CHARA-related albums.

Faith No More, We Care a Lot (Deluxe Edition), Aug. 19

I’m hoping a reissue of Introduce Yourself becomes an eventual reality.

Blood Orange, Freetown Sound, Aug. 19

I think Dev Hynes is responsible for softening my decades-long dim view of Michael Jackson.

Cocco, Adan Ballet, Aug. 24

Cocco has added stage and screen to her résumé as author and singer. So it’s no surprise the gaps between albums have gotten longer in the last few years. That makes Adan Ballet remarkable for coming out a year and 2 months since Plan C.

De La Soul, And the Anonymous Nobody, Aug. 26

I haven’t gotten through that backlog of De La Soul albums the trio offered for giving them my e-mail address.

Vinyl

Dead Can Dance, Dead Can Dance, July 8
Dead Can Dance, Spleen and Ideal, July 8
Dead Can Dance, Into the Labyrinth, July 8

I can haz Aion and Spiritchaser reissued on vinyl?

Madonna, Like a Prayer, July 12

Second-hand copies of the self-titled album, Like a Virgin and True Blue can be found for reasonable prices. Like a Prayer, on the other hand, is a bit harder to find, which makes it probably the only recent reissue worth getting.

XTC, Skylarking (Deluxe Edition), July 12
XTC, English Settlement (Deluxe Edition), July 12

Andy Partridge’s reissue label APE House is not messing around with these reissues, and the prices for them reflect that.

Sonic Youth, Murray Street, July 15

The release date for this reissue is a moving target. I imagine it will show up the next time I write this round-up.

Prince, Sign O the Times, Aug. 23
Prince, Lovesexy, Oct. 18
Prince, Graffiti Bridge, Nov. 22
Prince, Love Symbol Album, Dec. 13

I know I want to get the Love Symbol Album on vinyl. I’m partial to getting Lovesexy if I don’t find a used copy before then. I’m on the fence about Sign O the Times and Graffiti Bridge. And I’m disappointed The Black Album reissue was canceled.

John Zorn, Naked City, Aug. 26

I won’t tell you how much I spent on an original pressing of this album. So if you want it on vinyl, place your pre-order now!

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The ones that nearly got away: Faith No More, Angel Dust

[Faith No More - Angel Dust]

One day, I felt a hankering to hear the sample of Dmitri Shostakovich’s Quartet for Strings No. 8 by Kronos Quartet that was used in a Mr. Bungle track.

There was just one problem — it was never used on a Mr. Bungle track.

The sample was used on Angel Dust, the album Faith No More recorded after Mr. Bungle released its self-titled debut album. It was easy enough to confuse the two albums.

When Mike Patton joined Faith No more, writing for The Real Thing had finished, and he was brought in to put on the final touches. On Angel Dust, Patton contributed from the outset, and he brought with him the maniacal, chaotic sound of Mr. Bungle with him.

Patton tried to get Kronos Quartet to play on the Mr. Bungle album, but David Harrington instead commissioned a piece from the group. The sample of Kronos on Angel Dust was probably wish fulfillment on Patton’s part.

I tried to love Angel Dust the way I had The Real Thing, and the avant-garde, shape-shifting writing on the album should have tickled that itch brought on by Naked City. For a while, I did. But it didn’t survive my first large purge when I moved my music collection from Honolulu to Austin.

If I were honest, I really wanted Angel Dust to be The Real Thing, Part II, mostly because Jim Martin dominated The Real Thing. On Angel Dust, he was woven further into the mix, which suited the writing well but left his precision playing blunted.

In interviews, Martin would reveal his ambivalence about the direction Angel Dust had taken, and looking back, I sensed it.

Now, I actually dug Mr. Bungle, the album, but that was a lot of sound to take in at one time. What I didn’t want from Angel Dust was to be Mr. Bungle, Part II. And … that’s essentially what I got.

The Real Thing and Angel Dust got the deluxe reissue treatment on the heels of Faith No More’s first new album in 18 years. I hadn’t planned on getting the deluxe edition of Angel Dust — because why would I get the fancy version of an album I let go? — but I still had a hankering to hear that sample.

Angel Dust had also gained renowned since its release, and I wanted to see if the intervening years would change my opinion of the album.

Yes, as a matter of fact, it did.

More precisely, I listened to it without the baggage of The Real Thing hanging on it, and it’s pretty astonishing how Faith No More juggled so many elements without everything flying apart. As the album progresses, it seems at some point it should all break down, but the architecture of these songs had the structural integrity to withstand the whip-lash.

Angel Dust got an unfair shake with me because it followed up a hugely successful — read: tuneful — album with something challenging and ahead of its time.

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Looking ahead, April-July 2015

[Jason Isbell - Something More Than Free]

Part of me still misses ICE Magazine, the publication dedicated to reporting on new releases and reissues. Super Deluxe Edition has done a good job recapturing the kind of reporting that went into ICE. I’ve adjusted to using Pause and Play for tracking new releases, but sometimes, I get more relevant information from the personalization features on Discogs.

ICE launched in the early ’90s to track compact disc releases. It ended publication just as the download market ate into CD sales. If a similar publication were to launch today, it would probably report on which artists have made their content exclusive on which streaming service. And vinyl. Talk about turnabout being fair play.

10,000 Maniacs, Twice Told Tales, April 28

This latest incarnation of 10,000 Maniacs brings Mary Ramsey back into the fold and welcomes a guitarist who also doubles on vocals. For this album, the Maniacs reach for the roots, covering the traditional music that has informed their sound.

Roomful of Teeth, Render, April 28

Sometimes I wonder what would happen if I had the temerity to stick with my composition studies in college. It might have sounded like the stuff happening in Brooklyn with the likes of Roomful of Teeth, So Percussion and Alarm Will Sound.

Takaakira Goto, Classical Punk and Echoes Under Beauty, May 5

Taka wrote this album around the time MONO started getting orchestral. I’ve enjoyed the rougher sound of Rays of Darkness too much to want to go back in time.

Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell, The Traveling Kind, May 12

Brian Ahrens didn’t produce this second duet album, but Harris and Crowell wanted The Traveling Kind to reflect where they are as artists now. It’s hard not to have high expectations.

Deebs/Jarrell Perry, Shift, May 19

A lot of attention will focus on the second album by Frank Ocean, but for my money, Jarrell Perry does a far more adventurous job pushing the edges of R&B.

Faith No More, Sol Invictus, May 19

Yeah, yeah, insert grumbling about Jim Martin’s lack of involvement here. I’m still curious.

NOW Ensemble, Dreamfall, May 26

See above about labelmates Roomful of Teeth.

Jason Isbell, Something More Than Free, July 17

Damn, Jason Isbell is looking mighty fine on that cover photo. I couldn’t get enough of Southeastern, so I’ve spent the last few months devouring his 2011 album Here We Rest. Now a new set is just going to keep this jones going.

Frank Ocean, Boys Don’t Cry, July 2015

Hey, Frank, could you convince Universal Music to put out a decent vinyl issue of channel ORANGE as well? Thanks.

Duran Duran, TBD, September 2015

Not since Colin Thurston has Duran Duran worked with the same producer twice. Mark Ronson brought out not just the vintage sound of Duran Duran but also the unmistakable essence of a Duran Duran song. Here’s hoping the latter gets retained if the former evolves.

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