Favorite older album discoveries of 2017

 

 

The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan by Bob Dylan (1963).jpg
The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan by Bob Dylan (1963)

The picture on the sleeve is a comforting image, a message of love that translates to any language. Dylan didn’t want to be a savior or a spokesperson for his generation, although his songs were important to many and used as protest music.
Best tracks: Blowin’ in the Wind, Girl From the North Country, Masters of War, A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall, Don’t Think Twice It’s All Right, Bob Dylan’s Dream, Talking World War III Blues.

 

 

 
Rubber Soul by The Beatles (1965).jpg
Rubber Soul by The Beatles  (1965)
Probably my favorite Beatles album (as of writing) with some great melodies. There are Beatles hits (Drive My Car) which are simplistic entertainment and make you forget the world, and then there are affecting songs such as Norwegian Wood, Nowhere Man, Think For Yourself and In My Life, which are about life and touch your soul. Rubber Soul thankfully has many of the latter category. The Word and What Goes On annoy me for the choruses, other than that I have no complaints.

 

 

 

 

 

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Pet Sounds by The Beach Boys (1966)

The title Pet Sounds was derived from the last track which ends with a dog barking. God Only Knows and Wouldn’t It Be Nice are the recognizable hits, but it’s the ambitious writing that really stands out for me. The lyrics are universal and timeless, and make you think about your own life. In terms of the production, Brian Wilson used Phil Spector’s wall of sound session musicians and tried something new.

 

 

 

 

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Let It Bleed by The Rolling Stones (1969)
The two classics (Gimmie Shelter & You Can’t Always Get What You Want) that bookend Let It Bleed don’t fit that well with the blues rock which the bulk of the album consists of.
Still, an entertaining listen. There’s a feeling different tracks highlight a different instrument, for example the harmonica-driven Midnight Rambler. An album with a lasting value and worth many plays.

 

 

 

 

There_s a Riot Goin_ On by Sly & The Family Stone (1971)
There’s a Riot Goin’ On by Sly & The Family Stone (1971)

Short on hits (Familiy Affair stands out), rich on funk. You could listen to tons of times. I initially felt this is a good album, but a victim of excessive acclaim. On further inspection, I get what is so great about it. The yodeling on Spaced Cowboy is super annoying though. It’s pretty obvious Prince was influenced by their music, especially in terms of the vocals.

 

 

 

 

Machine Head by Deep Purple (1972).jpg
Machine Head by Deep Purple (1972)

One of the great albums of the 1970s. Machine Head was the group’s commercial peak. You can just feel the relentless energy which is sustained for the 37 minute duration. These guys have a lot of talent as a unit and there’s no filler. The riffs are iconic, especially on Smoke on the Water, Maybe I’m a Leo, Pictures of Home, and Space Truckin’. Highway Star is maybe most famous for Ian Gillan’s vocal performance. The 1997 remastered edition includes the blues b-side When A Blind Man Cries. The lyrics of Smoke on the Water were inspired by a devastating fire at a Swiss casino during the making of the album, the black smoke hovering over a nearby lake.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quadrophenia by The Who (1973).jpg
Quadrophenia by The Who (1973)

At roughly 82 minutes it’s ambitious and there’s a lot to digest. Even after several plays I’m not sure where I stand. Not seen the film yet, which could change how I perceive the album.
Was already familiar with the closer Love Reign O’er Me, which was covered by Peal Jam for the Adam Sandler film Reign Over Me (2007).
Favorites tracks: Quadrophenia, Cut My Hair, The Dirty Jobs, Is It in My Head, I’ve Had Enough, Sea and Sand, Love Reign O’er Me

 

 

 

 

Raw Power by Iggy and The Stooges (1973).jpg
Raw Power by Iggy and The Stooges (1973)

Laid the template for punk rock. Has been called “savagely bombastic”. Perhaps the first record that could truly be called punk. Yet the songs have a beauty and complexity that make it more than that.
Best tracks: Search and Destroy, Gimme Danger, Raw Power, I Need Somebody, Shake Appeal

 

 

 

 

What Were Once Vices Are Now Habits (1974) by The Doobie Brothers.jpg
What Were Once Vices Are Now Habits by The Doobie Brothers (1974) 

Not instantly accessible and less commercial than The Captain and Me (1973). Black Water has the catchiest chorus, while Road Angel is strong for the guitar work. Some of these songs, such as Eyes of Silver, want to be hits, but don’t quite get there. That is part of the charm and right now is my favorite album by the band.
The quality dips a bit in the middle with the trio of songs, You Just Can’t Stop It , Tell Me What You Want, and Down in the Track.
Another Park Another Sunday and Daughters of the Sea are a step up. As with other Doobie Brothers LPs, the lyrics are probably the least interesting aspect. Not a perfect record, but more potent than the Doobie albums that would follow. Despite the lack of big hits, it has become one of the biggest sellers of the 1970s (2 million copies).

 

 

 

 

 

Marquee Moon (1977) by Television.jpg
Marquee Moon  by Television 
(1977)
Art Punk / Post-Punk. Exceptional guitar playing with some great riffs and jazzy solos. An album you could listen to over and over and not tire of. The vocal reminded me of Chrissie Hynde, even though Tom Verlaine obviously is male. Did Johnny Jewel (born John Padgett) of Chromatics fame take his name from the stand alone single “Little Johnny Jewel”?

 

 

 

 

The Wall by Pink Floyd (1979).jpg
The Wall by Pink Floyd (1979)

A thought-provoking work with a handful of classic songs. I love the writing on this LP. Considered among the best double albums. The only weakness I noticed was some repetition of the instrumental sections, but that is hardly a flaw, as it gives the album a cohesiveness. The Trial sounds like it belongs in a West End stage musical.
Best tracks: Another Brick in the Wall Part 2, Hey You, Comfortably Numb, Run Like Hell.

 

 

 

 

 

Computerwelt by Kraftwerk (1981).jpg
Computerworld by Kraftwerk (1981)

You can view the band as historians or cultural commentators. Futuristic music that anticipated today’s computer society. The synth work on this album is fantastic. By building their own equipment together with a sound engineer, Kraftwerk created new sounds. They were among the first successful acts to popularize electronic music. An influential band with other artists sampling their material.

 

 

 

 

 

The Stone Roses by The Stone Roses (1989).jpg
The Stone Roses by The Stone Roses (1989)

An important album that means a lot to those who grew up with it. Bass, guitar and drums form the basis of the jangle pop/Madchester sound and complement each other well. My favorite could be She Bangs the Drums for the sheer musicianship.
I can imagine anthemic songs such as Made Of Stone and I Wanna Be Adored getting played in huge stadiums with the crowd singing along. The iconic opening lyric “I don’t have to sell my soul, he’s already in me” could be interpreted in different ways, including a gay reference, and a theological claim, the devil is already within, hence he has no need to sell his soul.

 

 

 

 

Just for a Day by Slowdive (1991).jpg
Just for a Day by Slowdive (1991)

While it could be argued Slowdive’s best songs are on later albums, Just For a Day is the record by them I gravitate towards the most for the feeling it gives me. Atmospheric shoegaze you can get lost in. For the heart rather than the intellect. The openers Spanish Air and Celi’s Dream pull you in with their beauty and bring back memories of The Cure’s 1989 album Disintegration and the ethereal production of 1980s Cocteau Twins. Catch The Breeze is noisier. Ballad of Sister Sue and Erik’s Song are very melancholic. The overall production impresses, while the dual vocal is less distinctive. There aren’t any big hits, and no really weak moments. All of a similar quality. A cohesive set, albeit if I’m hypercritical a bit samey.

 

 

 

 

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(What’s the Story) Morning Glory? by Oasis (1995)

Without being an expert, Morning Glory is possibly the pinnacle of the Britpop era. The run from tracks 2-5 (Roll With It, Wonderwall, Don’t Look Back in Anger & Hey Now!) is incredible, and also has one of rock’s best closing tracks in Champagne Supernova. The lyrics have aged well considering it’s 23 years old.

 

 

 

Elephant by The White Stripes (2003).jpg
Elephant by The White Stripes (2003)

Garage Rock Revival. The White Stripes’ fourth album and arguably their peak. If you want guitar riffs, this is a modern band to seek out. Includes mostly rock with the occasional slower diversion. Seven Nation Army is a modern classic. Tracks 2-10, 12, 14 are very good.

 

 

Other new-to-me loved albums. In no particular order:
Songs From a Room by Leonard Cohen (1969)
Various Positions by Leonard Cohen (1984)
Feats Don’t Fail Me Now by Little Feat (1974)
Portishead by Portishead (1997)
Toulouse Street by The Doobie Brothers (1972)
The Captain and Me by The Doobie Brothers (1974)
Help! by The Beatles (1965)
Revolver by The Beatles (1966)
Magical Mystery Tour by The Beatles (1967)
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band by The Beatles (1967)
White Album by The Beatles (1968)
Let It Be by The Beatles (1970)
Highway 61 Revisited by Bob Dylan (1965)
Modern Times by Bob Dylan (2006)
Rage of Eden by Ultravox (1981)
Radio-Activity by Kraftwerk (1975)
The Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd (1973)
Another Green World by Brian Eno (1975)
Ten by Pearl Jam (1991)
Author! Author! by Scars (1981)
Exodus by Bob Marley & The Wailers (1977)
John Lennon / Plastic Ono Band by John Lennon / Plastic Ono Band (1970)
The Velvet Underground by The Velvet Underground (1969)
Led Zeppelin by Led Zeppelin (1969)
Led Zeppelin II by Led Zeppelin (1969)
Led Zeppelin III by Led Zeppelin (1970)
Led Zeppelin IV by Led Zeppelin (1971)
Physical Graffiti by Led Zeppelin (1975)
Rising by Rainbow (1976)
The Doors by The Doors (1967)
Waiting for the Sun by The Doors (1968)
L.A. Woman by The Doors (1971)
Tommy by The Who (1969)
Can’t Buy a Thrill by Steely Dan (1972)
The Nightfly by Donald Fagen (1982)
Transformer by Lou Reed (1972)
Beggars Banquet by The Rolling Stones (1968)
Exile on Main St. by The Rolling Stones (1972)
Wheels of Fire by Cream (1968)
Jagged Little Pill by Alanis Morissette (1995)
Souvlaki by Slowdive (1993)
Pygmalion by Slowdive (1995)
United by Phoenix (2000)
De Stijl by The White Stripes (2000)
White Blood Cells by The White Stripes (2001)
Dear Catastrophe Waitress by Belle and Sebastian (2003)

 

 

Danish:
Hip by Steppeulvene (1967)
Kysser himlen farvel by Lars H.U.G. (1987)

 

 

*Led Zeppelin,  The Velvet Underground, Cream, and The Doors will be blogged about in detail in the upcoming months

 

 

 

In this post, I’m only including releases prior to the 2010’s. What do you think? As always comments are welcome

 

23 thoughts on “Favorite older album discoveries of 2017

    1. @stephen1001: Discovering that run on Morning Glory was a highlight of the year. I was reminded of tracks 3-5 on Bowie’s 1980 album which is another amazing streak : Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps, Ashes to Ashes, and Fashion

      Liked by 1 person

  1. With the exception of the Sly Stone album (haven’t heard it yet), I can definitely say that I love a lot of those records with the Stone Roses album being my all-time favorite album…. EVER!!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Almost too much content here Chris (you’ve been busy) and impossible to pick out favourites as so many to choose from! Some of the Beatles albums mentioned struck a cord though as going to feature a song by them next over at my place so been revisiting their back catalogue.
    Impressive list but how do you find time to listen to them all?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. @Alyson: I really enjoyed exploring the Beatles back catalogue. Was something I’d wanted to do for ages. same goes for Led Zeppelin.

      Hardly read any books in 2017, so that frees up a lot of extra time for music. Listening to Neil Young is a goal for 2018(his free trial at the Neil Young Archives expires June 30) Want to get back to reading books though as I’ve missed it.

      Like

  3. You’ve certainly been busy digging into these! So many great albums here… so many. Pet Sounds is probably my favourite of the bunch, though… that one is high in my all time favourites. And then there’s Iggy and Sly and a whole bunch of others listed at the bottom!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. @J: Yep, I went a little crazy trying to catch up with the classics during 2017. Slightly embarrassing to have a music blog and not be familiar with the discographies of the Stones, Dylan, Beatles, Pink Floyd, Led Zep, Doors, The Who, Velvet Underground, White Stripes, and Oasis. I made a lot of progress though, so can breath a sigh of relief 🙂 Most importantly, I had fun doing it. You can’t go wrong with most of the listed LPs, the majority are beloved and/or acclaimed. Pet Sounds is amazing and has me curious to look up other Beach Boy albums.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The Beach Boys have a lot of great stuff… a lot of under-celebrated (?) stuff, too – Surf’s Up and Holland are interesting records.

        I’m not as familiar with some of the stuff I should be, but sometimes there’s just too much music to get to. But yeah, even if there are a few albums in there I find a chore, musical exploration and investigation is fun!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. @J: Thanks, will look into those Beach Boys albums you suggest. Yes the under-celebrated releases can be great finds too! The classics are a good starting point although don’t necessarily click for everyone all of the time.

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  4. Good choices all, mostly. As Alyson says – where to begin? I won’t be impertinent and ask why you came to the Beatles and Led Zep late (I always play the ball, and not the man), but you can get lost down a rabbit hole with just those two, can’t you? John

    Liked by 1 person

  5. So interesting to see your varied selection here and I must say it reminds me a little of me some years ago too! I.e. the joy of digging back in time to find what I’d missed first time around because I’d been too young to really appreciate on their release. That even included some of the same albums you’ve picked here – such as Rubber Soul and Raw Power – which I got into very heavily and bought in the ’80s. Great to see Scars’ Author! Author! in your longer list too which I seem to remember you liking the sound of when I once posted ‘Your Attention Please’?
    (If so, very gratifying!) Great to know you’re enjoying Computerworld by Kraftwerk too. A classic from my youth which still sounds sounds strong today and brings back great memories of seeing them in ’81.
    It’s lovely that there’s such a wealth of good music from several decades for you to explore.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. @C: I knew the hits by many of the artists, which I’d argue are almost unavoidable in popular culture. A lot of albums on this list I will be going back to.
      Thanks again for recommending Author! Author! Your blog is how I discovered Scars.
      Agree Computerworld is a great album and I’m hoping to listen to other Kraftwerk classics when there’s time.

      Like

  6. Ugh, I need to listen to The Beatles albums, myself. I’ve heard lots of their songs, but never a whole album. Actually, that’s a theme for me. I’ve heard plenty of songs from these artists, but never an album. The exceptions are Elephant by The White Stripes which I really like and Jagged Little Pill which is phenomenal.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. @Wendell: I knew the hits as well. Hopefully you’ll find time to prioritize a few classic albums, as I did. Elephant and Jagged Little Pill are both fantastic and among the best of the decade they were released

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  7. I’m jealous of those who are only now bumping into stuff like ‘Revolver’, ‘Another Green World’, ‘Pet Sounds’, ‘Raw Power’ and ‘Transformer’ for the first time. I know so many titles from your list like the back of my hand that if I hear any of them these days, I often almost don’t actually *listen* to them. Every now and again though, I’ll hear something very familiar on my travels and unexpectedly appreciate it anew. It happened not that long ago with ‘Metal Guru’ by T.Rex, a song I bought on 7″ in 1972 and know ultra-intimately, but probably hadn’t actually sat down and given my full attention for decades. When the intro came crashing out of my radio it fair blew my proverbial socks off and I was in love with it all over again. It’s great when that happens and it reminds me why I’ve spent so much of my life in pursuit of the next musical thrill.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. @Swede: I’m lucky I can experience these classics for the first time.

      I sometimes have nostalgia too, often it’s for the films and music from my childhood/teenage years. Metal Guru is a catchy song and the joy of rediscovery is fun for sure

      Like

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