The 500 returns this week with Bennett and guest hosts Brad “Honey Badger” Blackburn and everybody’s favorite Store member Stephen Ray Brown (SRB). There has been a lot of talk about Kyle, who is out of town, being “Wally Pipped,” but I am not sure if Brad and SRB have the stamina to make it through the next 40 weeks. Frankly, entertaining as they were, they were a bit sloppy at times and seemed a bit slack on the research side of things. Regardless, this is a good week for the music, and I look forward to writing about some of them.
- Bob Dylan – Time Out of Mind
I am with Brad (and completely disagree with SRB) on his take that this is a resurgence album. Time Out of Mind came out in 1997. The two albums before it, World Gone Wrong and Good as I’ve Been to You were folk albums. Under the Red Sky before those two was straightforward but somewhat forgettable. Oh Mercy, however, from 1989, is a classic. I think the fellows are confusing Bob’s 80s’ output with his 90s’ output. Nonetheless, they all like this record, even if Bennett is a bit skeptical. I like it, too.
The fellows are correct, it’s the sound on this record that you can’t resist. To me it’s nineteenth century, but I don’t really know what that means. Daniel Lanois is the producer and, as always, he puts his mark on the record that the listener can’t get enough of, but maybe the artist is a little put off. Considering the songs, I like so many of them. As Brad notes, they are love songs of what could have or should have been. “Love Sick,” “Tryin’ to Get to Heaven,” “Not Dark Yet,” and “Cold Irons Bound” all just get up inside of me. Finally, I am so happy that “Highlands” shook SRB up. As Brad says, “[the 16-minute song] is ridiculous.” Exactly!
- The Doors – Strange Days
Even when I was in high school in the late 80s, the Doors were easy to criticize, Jim Morrison was easy to make fun of, and many people had an Eagles-like aversion to them. No, Jim Morrison is not a poet, but I liked them. Heck, I still like them, though I have never owned any of their albums besides the double-disc “Best of.” The Strange Days’ songs on that collection are the title track, “Love Me Two Times,” “People are Strange,” and “When the Music’s Over.” All are good songs. I will also point out that SRB was over the moon with the 11-minute long “When the Music’s Over,” but couldn’t quite handle Dylan’s “Highlands.”
The Doors were important, but their mythology shouldn’t detract from how many good songs they wrote. Morrison was a good front man, Ray Manzarek was a genius on the keyboards, and Robbie Krieger filled out the sound on guitar. And when I was in Paris, I did go by and visit Jim Morrison’s grave at the Père Lachaise cemetery. It’s a must.
- The Clash – Sandinista!
World Music makes sense for London of the day, but it isn’t my thing. Bennett loved it but was skeptical at first. I thought I would love it, but it’s not quite what I am looking for from The Clash. Culturally, there were a lot of people from Jamaica and other Caribbean former colonies at the time. These people were invariably on the lower income side of things, so there was a lot of crossover between their scene and the punk scene. There are, of course, some classics on the record such as “Somebody Got Murdered” and “Washington Bullets,” but I would always reach for London Calling or even Combat Rock before this one.
- PJ Harvey – Rid of Me
“This is the PJ Harvey I wanted to hear.” – Bennett. “She’s a Badass.” – SRB. “It’s dark, visceral, bloody…made me want to have a sexy street fight.” – Brad. Me? There’s not much I wouldn’t do for PJ. Her wish = my command. Watch the video. Watch it!
- Big Star – Radio City
The third Big Star in The 500 is so good. This is Alex Chilton at his best. Chris Bell had already left the band and Chilton had taken over. “O My Soul,” “What’s Going Ahn,” “Back of a Car,” and “I’m in Love with a Girl” can stand with any pop classic. But “September Gurls” just tears me up every time. I am so glad that Brad is a convert. And I am sorry I was part of the people who hid them from you for so long.
- Lynyrd Skynyrd – (Pronounced Leh-Nerd Skin-Nerd)
Growing up in Spartanburg, South Carolina, I was not a truck-driving country boy. I didn’t hunt, didn’t dip or wear tight-fitting blue jeans. No, I didn’t listen to a lot of southern rock. I held myself to a different standard. I was into punk rock. I was into R.E.M., Hüsker Dü, the Replacements and other college rock stalwarts. I didn’t listen to much Lynyrd Skynyrd at the time, though it was often very difficult to avoid. But dang if they didn’t write some amazing songs. On this debut record, “Gimme Three Steps” is outstanding. We should all heed the warning in “Poison Whiskey.” And even the slower southern rock ballads, “Tuesday’s Gone” and “Simple Man” have aged well. Finally, it may be cool to discount “Free Bird” like people do “Stairway to Heaven.” But that’s wrong. “Play it purty for Atlanta” by God. Back me up here, @GuitarGeorge9. Finally, I really need to hear a recording of a whiskey-soaked Brad singing “Tuesday’s Gone.”1
- Red Hot Chili Peppers – Californication
When I was in college the Chili Peppers’ album Blood Sugar Sex Magik was immensely popular. I still like the record, but I got burned out on it. As a result, I completely missed One Hot Minute when it came out four years later in 1995. And I would have missed Californication were it not for a friend who gave me a copy after he mistakenly received two from Amazon. I immediately liked it and still do. It is the sound and overall feel that gets me, and I just like to listen to it in one sitting instead of hearing individual songs. As SRB points out, it is wonder producer Rick Rubin working his magic here. He is not making a bad band good, but is instead getting the absolute most out of an already good band.
I need to go listen to Illmatic from Nas. I can be uppity about my musical tastes, but the lads convinced I need to reach into the ether and pull it down.
The musical synergy here at the Store has been a lot of fun lately. A couple of weeks ago, I requested that Papa Brown, aka Guitar George, write about Gram Parsons. Wow, he did not disappoint. It’s a beautiful description of a beautifully tragic life. Read about it right here.
What’s currently on my iPhone: The amazing new release 1983 from Kölsch, Lantern from Hudson Mohawke and Somethin’ ‘Bout Kreay by Kreayshawn.
Listening note: I am a DJ for the Clemson college radio station WSBF. I concluded my mini 1980s run yesterday, but I will be back for the Fall semester. I will let you know when and what here. Otherwise, I can be found discussing music, beer, baseball, and baking on Twitter .