Saturday, May 9, 2020

Last Thoughts On Little Richard, 1932-2020.

Little Richard is dead.

Long live Little Richard.

Until he died earlier today, Little Richard was arguably the most influential living rock & roll artist. He counted Elvis Presley, James Brown, Buddy Holly, Sam Cooke, The Beatles, & Otis Redding not only as contemporaries, but as disciples.

He was the self-proclaimed Architect Of Rock & Roll, & was making the music before virtually every other rock & roll pioneer, with the exception of the late Fats Domino. Perhaps no one captured the implications of Little Richard better than Lillian Roxon in her landmark Rock Encyclopedia in 1969:

His pompadour was high & his hip action wicked when Elvis was still a pimply kid mowing lawns in Memphis. He was the model for 99 percent of the screaming, jet-propelled pelvic freakouts of the post-Elvis early rock era, down to the shiny suits, lurid showmanship & acrobatic piano-playing...Once you have seen Little Richard it is very difficult to take any other rocker seriously. He did it all first.

He also did it among the very best.

For just over 2 years--September 13, 1955 to October 18, 1957--Little Richard recorded a catalog of songs for Specialty Records that rival Elvis's pre-Army sessions, The Beatles' psychedelic era, & Bob Dylan's initial electric albums as some of the most consistently excellent rock & roll  ever recorded. Virtually every song was a hit, classic, or standard (or at least should have been). "Tutti-frutti." "Long Tall Sally." "Slippin' & Slidin'." "Rip It Up." "Ready Teddy." "The Girl Can't Help It." "Lucille." "Send Me Some Lovin'." "Jenny, Jenny." "Miss Ann." "Keep A-Knockin." "Good Golly, Miss Molly." & those are just the songs that made the pop charts.

This is remarkable for anyone, let alone a very wild & flamboyant gay African-American man from the Deep South in the mid-1950s. The fact that "Tutti-Frutti" was originally a celebration of anal sex ("Tutti-frutti, good booty!" went the original lyric), was lost on the many who covered it, including Pat Boone, whose tepid white-bread version of the song scored the bigger hit among pop (read: white) audiences. At the time, this incensed Little Richard to no end, but he came around in later years. He once explained how, for many white kids, while it was Pat Boone's version of "Tutti Frutti" that lay on the teenager's nightstand, it was his version that was secretly tucked away in the drawer underneath. That got him in the room, he acknowledged.

With his hits covered by every white rocker worth their weight in sweat--Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, Buddy Holly, The Everly Brothers, Bill Haley, Eddie Cochran, & Gene Vincent--& a hereto-unknown generation cutting their teeth on his music on the other side of the Atlantic--The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Who, & The Kinks--Little Richard was a legend even if he stopped making music right then & there.

Which he sort of did.

Suspended several miles above the ground in an airplane that nearly went down, Little Richard promised God that he would turn to the Church if the plane could land safely. Little Richard kept his promise, which, along with the fact that Elvis was in the Army, Chuck Berry was in jail, Jerry Lee Lewis was disgraced in scandal, & Buddy Holly was dead, helped bring the first great rock & roll era to a crashing close as quickly as it had appeared.

But of course, Little Richard's soul was too conflicted to stay in one place too long. For much of the rest of his career, he remained torn between the rock of blues & the rock of the Church, all the while serving as a reminder--along with such peers as Ray Charles & Aretha Franklin--that African-American gospel music is largely the same thing as rock & roll, only played on Saturday night instead of Sunday morning. 

So, he recorded gospel records, he tried his hand at new rock recordings, & re-recorded inferior versions of his Specialty hits time & time again.

But the die was cast & Little Richard was the rare legend who touched so many other legends.

Paul McCartney learned how to sing by copying him.

Bob Dylan wrote in his high school yearbook that his ambition was join Little Richard's band.

Jimi Hendrix actually did join Little Richard's backing band & it was his big break into the music industry.

The Kinks' first single was a cover of "Long Tall Sally."

Otis Redding began his career directly lifting his style.

The Band liked to do "Slippin' & Slidin'" as a searing encore.

Rock's first great history, Nik Cohn's Rock--From The Beginning, was retitled Awopbopaloobop Alopbamboom: The Golden Age of Rock & Roll.

Rock's first great cultural study, Greil Marcus's Mystery Train, opened with Little Richard exploding in mad fury on a late-night talk show.

& Little Richard became something of a latter-day pop culture icon, appearing in those Nike commercials with Spike Lee & Bo Jackson, rapping on Living Colour's "Elvis Is Dead," & singing "The Itsy-Bitsy Spider" on Full House.

He's done the awards laps. His landmark 1957 debut album, Here's Little Richard, is the first (& so far ONLY) '50s rock album inducted in the Grammy Hall Of Fame & he won an honorary Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1993.

In 1997, he received the American Music Award of Merit.

In 1994, he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Rhythm & Blues Foundation.

In 1990, he received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

& in 1986, he was one of the first ten musical inductees into The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame, along with Chuck Berry, James Brown, Ray Charles, Sam Cooke, Fats Domino, The Everly Brothers, Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis, & Elvis Presley. There has literally never been a better class ever inducted.

& now, after the passing of Chuck Berry & Fats Domino in 2017, Little Richard was one of the last remaining members of that first class. Now all that's left is Don Everly of The Every Brothers, & Jerry Lee Lewis.

Which means that Jerry Lee Lewis is one man closer to being The Last Man Standing.

"It is with a heavy heart that I ask for prayers for the family of my lifelong friend & fellow Rocker 'Little Richard,'" The Killer told Rolling Stone today. "He will live on always in my heart with his amazing talent & his friendship! He was one of a kind & I will miss him dearly."

Other accolades are already pouring in about Little Richard that are as magnificent as the man himself.

Bob Dylan: "His was the original spirit that moved me to do everything that I would do."

Mick Jagger: "He was the biggest inspiration of my early teens & his music still has the same raw electric energy when you play it now as it did when it first shot through the music scene in the mid 50's.

Brian Wilson: "He was there at the beginning & showed us all how to rock & roll."

There are many more & there will be many more echoing this sentiment.

But for me, Little Richard comes down to one distinctive sound that is now so ripped off, it's amazing to think it was ever someone's signature vocal lick. Because no one could hit a thrilling "ooooo" like Little Richard. Straight from the Church, he drove it into the rock & rhythm & blues, a falsetto wail of a cry that captured the crazy guts & glory of rock & roll like few other sounds.

When Little Richard sang "ooooo," it lit a flame in the ear of his millions of fans.

& that flame will never go out.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Johnny Cash At Folsom Prison At 50.

Fifty years ago today, Johnny Cash recorded the concerts that would provide the basis for one of the most celebrated albums in American music, At Folsom Prison.

The idea of the concert itself proves nearly irresistible--The Man In Black staring down a prison full of prisoners as his audience--no wonder it provided the focal point of the well-intended but overrated (& historically shoddy, it must be said) I Walk The Line film in the early '00s.

Many have noted that his setlist wasn't one of his traditional hits, but rather a few hits surrounded by B-sides & album cuts, love ballads & murder ballads, work songs & folk songs, spirituals & novelties. This wasn't so much a tour of Johnny Cash's country music as it was a tour of Johnny Cash's country's music. For everything that America may or may not have been to its citizens in the revolutionary days of 1968, Johnny Cash's At Folsom Prison played like the eye of the storm, a study of America held up & stripped down to its core.

* * *

America, it loves to tell itself, is The Land Of The Free. This is not lost on anybody, least of all Johnny Cash.

"The culture of a thousand years is shattered with the clanging of the cell door behind you," he writes on the back of the LP. "Life outside, behind you immediately becomes unreal. You begin to not care that it exists. All you have with you in the cell is your bare animal instincts."

Cash notes later in the essay that he speaks from experience, having been behind bars a few times in his own life. But certainly he never experienced anything like the convicts of Folsom Prison.

Aside from Henry David Thoreau, America is not one to celebrate its prisons; as the land of the free, it stands to reason, these are the people who have failed America, or, perhaps, America has failed. Either way, it plays like a camera obscura of what's supposed to be The Land Of Opportunity.

So what does Johnny Cash have to say to these people? He doesn't pander, he doesn't preach, he doesn't patronize. He seems to have an uncanny ability to place himself in their shoes & provide the range of material they hunger for. He knows that this is not just entertainment, but a piece of home--of America--that he alone can provide.

He's also a master showman.

He throws them a few murder ballads, the first of which, "Folsom Prison Blues" both opens the concert & provides its peak--just listen to the roar that is evoked by the line "I shot a man in Reno, just to watch him die." Although "Folsom Prison Blues" is perhaps Cash's most famous song now, it was originally recorded at Sun Records in 1955 & released as a B-side to his first Top 10 country hit, "So Doggone Lonesome."

By the time he recorded this version of the song some 13 years later, he was on Columbia Records, who released this live version from At Folsom Prison as a single, where it gave him his first #1 country hit in four years.

But "Folsom Prison Blues" wasn't the only murder ballad in the set--there was also the rousing "Cocaine Blues" which gave the inmates another classic line at which to roar ("I took a shot of cocaine & I shot my woman down"). In between was Merle Travis's classic coal mining lament, "Dark As A Dungeon," & the prettiest song of the set, "I Still Miss Someone," which sounds like it was a major hit but was actually only released as the B-side to "Don't Take Your Guns To Town" in 1959.

He then goes into the first novelty song of the set--the crazy countdown of "25 Minutes To Go," a literal dose of gallows humor penned by songwriter & children's poet Shel Silverstein (who would later write one of Cash's biggest hits, "A Boy Named Sue," which itself spawned one of the greatest novelty song titles in history, "A Girl Named Johnny Cash," but I digress).

Already in five songs, we have gone from murder ballads to work songs to love songs, back to murder ballads & then a comedy song. Next stop? One of Cash's favorite thematic genres: The train song. Cash goes into "Orange Blossom Special," originally written by Ervin T. Rouse in 1938 & most famous from Cash's #3 hit version in 1965. For all of the train songs he recorded--& by this point, he had literally recorded two albums worth--he went for the one that was the biggest hit.

The first side ends with "The Long Black Veil," which was written in the 1950s to sound like an ancient folk song. Most people just assumed it was & gave Lefty Frizzell one of the biggest hits of his career in 1959. The same year that Cash sang it at Folsom, The Band introduced it to the rock world on their debut Music From Big Pink.

"The Long Black Veil" is about a man who is accused of murder & is hanged for it because his alibi would reveal an affair with his best friend's wife. It is she who visits his grave in a long black veil. As a murder ballad-turned-love song, "The Long Black Veil" may come midway through the album, but the defines its conceptual limits. It conjures a small-town America that could come straight out of Hawthorne's pen, but paints a picture in which love is a death sentence. Cash appropriately has sent the band away & sings it solo, just his voice & acoustic guitar.

The second side opens with the next song his solo set, "Send A Picture Of Mother," which was written by Cash himself. If "The Long Black Veil" was a modern country song disguised as a folk ballad, "Send A Picture Of Mother" was a new song masquerading as nineteenth-century parlor music. It was a saccharine ode to a man's mother, & did not sound too far off from those old post-Civil War songs that were later bastardized into Carter Family folk standards.

Next up was Harlan Howard's "The Wall," about a prisoner who tries to make a breakout that the singer reckons was actually an act of suicide. Cash had previously recorded it in 1965 as part of his Orange Blossom Special LP.

Then, as to not dwell too long in the darkness, Cash throws in two novelties by Sun Records jack-of-all-trades "Cowboy" Jack Clement: "Dirty Old Egg-Sucking Dog" & "Flushed From The Bathroom Of Your Heart." They are perhaps the weakest part of the whole set, but at least they gave the prisoners a much-needed hearty laugh.

Cash then calls back out his band, accompanied by his future wife (& current mistress) June Carter, who, as the second generation of The Carter Family, was country music royalty. They duet on "Jackson," their #2 country hit from the previous year that blows away the studio version with a performance that is at once fiery, flirty, & hilarious.

The two then duet on "Give My Love To Rose," another B-side, this time for Cash's old Sun Records single "Home Of The Blues" in 1957. 

Then it's off to the old Lead Belly standard "On A Monday" (here recast as "I Got Stripes"), an old prison work song that was surprisingly one of the few hits on the album, as Cash hit #4 with it in 1959; here, the ringing chorus of singers & the band bring it to an odd place somewhere between a folk song & a musical number.

Following that is "Green, Green Grass Of Home," a three-year-old Porter Wagoner hit (that was in turn covered by Jerry Lee Lewis in his wilderness years, who himself was in turn covered by Tom Jones who scored a pop hit out of it), sung steadily, if not all together memorably.

The finale is a song written by a convict at Folsom Prison, "Greystone Chapel," & Cash gives it a serious & reverent reading. Glen Sherley, the author of the song, was in the front row for the concert, unaware that Johnny Cash was going to play--let alone close with--his song. The moment inspired him to write more songs, but despite help from Cash, he could never adjust to life outside of prison & committed suicide at the age of 42 in 1978.

* * *

In a way, Sherley's untimely passing frames the entire album.

Death is everywhere on the LP. By my count, there are at least three murders (the man in Reno in "Folsom Prison Blues," the woman in "Cocaine Blues," & the "someone" killed in "Long Black Veil") & two executions (the singer of "25 Minutes To Go" & the singer of "Long Black Veil), plus a third who's about to be executed (the singer of "Green Green Grass Of Home"). At least one person is in the midst of dying (the man on the roadside in "Give My Love To Rose"), while another is killed in an apparent suicide ("The Wall"), & yet another pictures their eminent death from their work in the coal mines ("Dark As The Dungeon"). One entire song, "Long Black Veil," is sung by a corpse.

Even the throwaway novelty of "Dirty Old Egg-Sucking Dog" ends with the singer dreaming of killing his dog.

There are several prison sentences given ("Cocaine Blues," "I Got Stripes"), lots of pining for loved ones ("I Still Miss Someone") & family ("Send A Picture Of Mother," "Green, Green Grass Of Home"), & trains that are real ("Orange Blossom Special"), imagined ("Green, Green Grass Of Home"), & trains that somewhere in between, torturing the mind with madness ("Folsom Prison Blues").

& with "Greystone Chapel" as the finale, there's a touch of hope, of spirituality, of redemption.

All put together, At Folsom Prison has enough episodes, adventures, tragedies, & laughs to fill a hundred dimestore western pulps. Each one is rendered all the more real & alive with Cash's unwavering baritone.

There is a line between the performer & the audience in any concert, but this one is all the more unique because that dividing line is also one between freedom & imprisonment.

To borrow a phrase from a major Cash hit--that, like most of his big hits up to that point, he didn't include in this show--the album walks the line between the performer & audience, which is to say between freedom & imprisonment.

The thing that binds them together across that line is the music--which, is to say, is America.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Sam Cooke's "Tennessee Waltz": An Appreciation.

I cannot stop listening to Sam Cooke's "Tennessee Waltz."

The song has overtaken me, demanding to be played repeatedly, beckoning to be solved like a riddle, plumbing me further into its seemingly bottomless depths.

The other day I listened to nothing but the song for close to an hour--hearing it, studying it, contemplating it, trying to make it reveal itself to me.

Sam Cooke's "Tennessee Waltz" was first released on March 1, 1964, as the closing song on the first side of his criminally-underrated album Ain't That Good News. The following July it was culled as the B-side of "Good Times," where it made the Top 40 with a respectable #35. By that point, the song was already around eight months old.

Cooke originally recorded "Tennessee Waltz" on January 28, 1964, in that odd string of months after JFK was assassinated but before The Beatles came to America. He recorded "Rome Wasn't Built In A Day" & "Meet Me At Mary's Place" before it; each took little more than two takes to master. It's said that he was more focused on the song he would record two nights later--his epic "A Change Is Gonna Come," which has been rightly hailed as the finest soul record of all-time.

Which means that "Tennessee Waltz" was the last song he recorded before his masterpiece. While nowhere near the scope of "A Change Is Gonna Come" (virtually no other song could be), to my ears "Tennessee Waltz" plays like a small epic in & of itself. Only instead of an epic looking outward that takes in all of society, "Tennessee Waltz" is an epic that looks inward to a story that is central to pop music: Love.

Part 1: Words.

As a story, "Tennessee Waltz" is simple to the edge of banal, consisting of one verse & one refrain that would be entirely cliche if not so economic in their presentation:

I was dancing with my baby to the "Tennessee Waltz"
When an old friend that I happened to see
I introduced him to my baby & while they were dancing
My friend stole my baby from me

But I remember that night & the "Tennessee Waltz"
Only you know how much I have lost
You know that I lost my baby that night they kept playing
That beautiful "Tennessee Waltz"

As a lyric, it's not much, but Sam Cooke transforms it into a small saga of a performance, endlessly wringing new meaning from its words & music.

Part of Cooke's power derives from his focus on the word you--as in "only you know"--which cements the connection between the singer & the listener. The relationship between the singer & the listener in recorded sound is so taken for granted that we hardly even notice it today, but Cooke's "Tennessee Waltz" makes you appreciate it in full. He isn't so much singing the song to himself as much as he's confiding to you about it, as though you share the song's burden by the mere act of listening to it. Part of music's magic is its inherently intangible nature, & the way in which every person listening to a song has a direct connection to the singer. This is what helps give music its profound power, & touch our lives. Cooke's "Tennessee Waltz" reinforces this with the way he seems to confide in us, as though it is not so much a song as it is a pact.

In Dave Marsh's classic The Heart Of Rock & Soul: The 1001 Greatest Singles Ever Made, he chose Marvin Gaye's version of "I Heard It Through The Grapevine" for the hallowed #1 spot. (Like Cooke, Gaye was another '60s soul pioneer who died way before his time because of a bullet that was supposedly fired in self-defense.) Marsh picked it in part because of the way that Gaye sings it as "an internal dialogue," working his way through a confrontation, then overtaken by humiliation, before finally ending with mourning. It is, in a little over three minutes, the psychological journey through the ending of a relationship, by feeling the words of the story through the emotion of the music.

In many ways, Sam Cooke's "Tennessee Waltz" does the exact same thing over nearly the exact same length of time, only four years earlier--& it does so with a third of the lyrics to work with.

Similar to what Marsh heard in Marvin Gaye's "I Heard It Through The Grapevine," I hear in Sam Cooke's "Tennessee Waltz": The psychological scope of the end of a relationship. Traditionally, grieving has been divided into five major stages since the Kugler-Ross Model was introduced in 1969: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, & Acceptance. "Tennessee Waltz" is not an exact replication of this model, but it's about as close as one can find in a pop song.

For the first verse, Cooke plays it coolly, evenhanded, even nonchalantly, taking you through the facts of the case like it was a burglary (which, in fact, it essentially was). One imagines that only his denial can allow him to keep his anger at arms length, with a reasoned calm that nearly spills over into aloofness.

But then the melody of the refrain causes things to turn; it seems to bring out a passion that had remained latent in the initial verse. He doesn't sing it, but rather rides his emotions simmering just underneath.

The second verse (same as the verse) finds him going through the facts of the case again, but now his cool resolve has hardened into something close to anger. He sounds like someone exasperated after having to explain the same thing seventeen times in a row with little faith that this eighteenth time it will stick. On one hand, it is like an old man retelling the same story as though it holds the elusive key to his freedom; on the other, it sounds like Einstein's definition of insanity: Doing the same thing over & over but expecting a different result. & if one can hear the latter in his words, perhaps one can find a sense of bargaining in them too. I'm honestly not sure.

& then the bottom falls out of the record.

As Cooke reaches for that second refrain, he soars with a graceful sadness that can only result in beauty. I've now listened to it dozens of time, but it always remains new, always catches your attention, always demands to be heard. His performance takes you by the chest & pulls you into his pain, his suffering, his world. It's tempting to label this bottomless sadness as depression, but depression never sounded so beautiful.

Which gets to the heart of the record--& its profound statement on not just love, but music. The thing that seems to keep the singer going through his friend betraying him with his lover is the beauty of the "Tennessee Waltz." Lyrically, it sets up an odd dynamic for a pop song: The song "Tennessee Waltz" is about a person who keeps hearing the song "Tennessee Waltz." If they are different songs, it is like Russian stacking dolls; if they are the same song, it's like a hall of mirrors. Either way, the importance is its beauty. A beauty so great that it can distract the singer from the greatest heartache he will ever suffer.

I remember talking to my grandfather about his time serving in World War II in Papua New Guinea. He was a Navy man, but for some reason that I've never been able to piece together, he went down in an airplane. For the rest of his life, he hated to fly & only did so out of sheer necessity. But when I remember him describing the crash, he spoke with a near mystic sense of wonder. "I was so terrified," he said. "But looking out the window at the lush vegetation all around us, I had never seen anything so beautiful."

I believe a similar thing is happening in Sam Cooke's "Tennessee Waltz." He loses his girl to his friend, but boy, that song was beautiful! If it wasn't handled so effectively by Cooke, it might fall flat as a joke, but it never even gets close to one. Is there some sort of hidden self-loathing that would make the song seem even more beautiful to have this traumatic experience happen during it? Nietzsche might think so. If the record does finally make its way out of depression to acceptance, it is by the grace of the music it is said to. Like Dante being unable to describe Beatrice upon finally reaching her in the Paradisio, Cooke grasps at meaningless adjectives: "That Beautiful, That Wonderful, That Marvelous, That Glorious." It is not a conclusion so much as a transcendence over the human spirit.

Part 2: Music.

One of the first things you might notice about Sam Cooke's "Tennessee Waltz" is that it is not a waltz.  It's a sort of shuffle built around a groove--an acoustic guitar strum pitted against porto-funk horns playing a simple, scratching three-note lick while a piano dashes around them, quietly building the tension secretly, but in plain sight; one could easily mistake it for an Atlantic-era Ray Charles song (say, "I've Got A Woman") played at the wrong speed. Its straightforward rhythm is a reminder that many of the hottest songs sounded like samples long before anyone was actually sampling records. But the live performers are revealed when the horns start to peel away from each other towards the end, which ultimately give it that much more of a visceral quality.

All put together, the sound jumps off the record & forms a cocoon that you can virtually crawl inside of, enveloping you in its tale of woe. By the time you're blindsided by the performance, it makes no difference whether the song is a waltz or not.

(& in case anyone wasn't sure whether Cooke was basking in its majestic wonder, you can just hear him clap once after singing the "dirty dog" line, in a moment of joyous spontaneity.)

But the "Tennessee Waltz" did begin as a waltz, composed by country crooner Pee Wee King in the mid-1940s, as a sort of answer record to Bill Monroe's "Kentucky Waltz." King didn't record it until late 1947 & didn't release it until early 1948, but it became a hit song with this band, The Golden West Cowboys, as well as a cover version by Cowboy Copas (who was originally a member of the Golden West Cowboys).

In 1950, bandleader Erskine Hawkins--best known nowadays for writing "Tuxedo Junction"--cut a jazz version of "Tennessee Waltz," smoothing it out & bringing it to something close to a pop standard. While the song initially missed the charts, it made enough waves that a young Jerry Wexler (later to become a legendary producer at Atlantic Records) played it for the manager of Patti Page.

It was Patti Page's version of "Tennessee Waltz" (recorded in November 1950 as the B-side to "Boogie Woogie Santa Claus") that became a smash hit, sitting atop the national Billboard charts for nearly two months straight. It was as white-bread of a record as could be imagined in that period--right at home on the shelves next to the likes of Perry Como & Mitch Miller--& serves as a case-in-point why rock music just had to happen. Among the cover versions that cropped up in her wake were by Jo Stafford, Guy Lombardo, & The Fontaine Sisters. 'Nuff said.

In Jim Miller's Flowers In The Dustbin: The Rise Of Rock & Roll, 1947-1977, he describes Page's "Tennessee Waltz" as "the biggest pop hit of the postwar, prerock era" and as "a synthetic new kind of music, the hybrid product of several different vernacular genres."  as "And the sheer sound of Page's recording was unprecedented. A tricked-up, technologically evolved sort of pseudo-folk song, Patti Page's hit was hard to categorize, impossible to reproduce on stage, & instantly unforgettable."

The song itself--which already by the time Cooke got to it was a country-song-turned-jazz-ballad-turned-white-bread-pop-smash was like a chameleon, taking the form of anyone who sang it. The song didn't reveal itself as much as it revealed whoever was singing it.

Take Elvis' home recording of the song from 1966, where he turns it into pure 19th century parlor music, as though it came straight by a tunesmith on Tin Pan Alley:

At least until he starts riffing about a man stealing his horse--which would have been a real concern in the parlor-music era--before it devolves into him cracking his friends up like the jokester he was known to be. If anyone wondered where the kid who talked his way into Sun Records to croon The Ink Spots' "My Happiness" in 1953 went, this performance (mostly) showed he was still right there.

& to stretch the point, here's Spike Jones' novelty version--a #13 hit in 1951:

He seems to jump on the pioneering multitrack vocal by Patti Page by turning over the vocal to two old Jewish ladies, for no particular reason. (Unless I'm missing some reference to Yiddish vaudeville, which is entirely possible.) The instrumental break is vintage Jones, mixing all sorts of crazy sounds at a breakneck pace--& all recorded live in the studio, of course--that mirrored his earlier masterpiece from 1945, "Cocktails For Two."

(Unrelated but related quandary: When The Band sing about having "Spike Jones on the box" in "Up On Cripple Creek," were they listening to his version of "Tennessee Waltz"? Discuss.)

But all roads lead back to Patti Page's monster hit version, which makes it all the more surprising that it was not included on Cooke's second RCA album, Hits Of The 50s.

But it seems that once he nailed it in the studio, he was happy to keep it close by. In July of 1964, Cooke included it as the finale of what would be his first live album, Sam Cooke At The Copa.

Generally, Sam Cooke At The Copa is not held in terribly high regard as it captures Cooke playing at a dinner-club for people who politely applause upon recognizing whatever song he is singing. It's a bit like the sonic equivalent of those early rock movies were Little Richard plays for a room of middle-aged white people sitting still in tuxes.

The previous year, Cooke had cut Live At The Harlem Square Club in Miami, Florida, for a proposed live album that was to be called "One Night Stand." Cut with the then-current smash James Brown's Live At The Apollo ruling the nascent soul world, it appears to try & beat that record at its own game. To my ears, it largely succeeds, giving Cooke a hot & sweaty night that serves as a testimony to people who remember him as a pious choirboy.

But that's what did the record in. Deemed too wild for his clean-cut image, the album was shelved until over two decades after his death.

So for several decades, the only live taste one could get of Sam Cooke was at this polite supper-club album. For the most part, he plays it safe, giving the people what they want--jazz standards ("Bill Bailey, Won't You Please Come Home?"), blues standards ("Nobody Knows You When You're Down & Out"), & folk standards ("Frankie & Johnny"). Aside from "Twistin' The Night Away," his biggest hits are trotted out on the first side in a five-minute medley. "Tennessee Waltz" seems like a nice place to end the set.

He sings it fine--even noting that Patti Page might not recognize it--but it lacks the drama of the studio version. I was surprised to see that this version was cut nearly half a year after the studio version; played next to the more familiar hit, it sounds like a rough draft for a song that will be tightened up later.

When Otis Redding covered the song a few years later, he stretched it out into a dirge, perhaps to differentiate it from the version sung by Cooke, who was one of his idols. If Cooke sung it like a therapy session, Redding sang it like he was in the confessional. The song is pure church, from the 6/8 time signature to the gospel flourishes on the piano. Redding seems to worry over the lines about what he has lost, driving it home home like an atonement for his sins.

& just in case you doubt Cooke's influence, Redding throws in the words "cotton-pickin'" towards the end, a direct lift of phrase from Cooke's version on the Copa LP.

That said, there's one part of Cooke's Copa version that sticks out to any modern listener. Towards the end of the song, as he's riffing his way to a close, Cooke sings "I know, I know, I know, I know" in a tone & style that provides the blueprint for Bill Withers' 1971 classic "Ain't No Sunshine When She's Gone." Where Cooke's song is swinging & off-the-cuff, Withers' song is smooth & slick; the way the beat locks in with the strings seems to predict the next 30 years of R&B music.

For the most famous element of "Ain't No Sunshine" is when Withers sings "I know" 26 times in a row to fill out the brief song in lieu of a verse (& even with this part, the single still doesn't even reach two & a quarter minutes). These words make the song for Withers--& in turn, powered it to become his first major hit. 
It appears that the germ of that song, the engine that drove the initial success of his career, derived from Cooke's "Tennessee Waltz."

Part 3: Video.

On October 5, 1998, Scottish indie group Belle & Sebastian recorded a set of song's in Paris, France, for a series in that country called the "Black Sessions." Currently on YouTube, it remains the longest available footage of the original seven-member lineup.

Typical for the group, they work their way through a series of familiar songs & deep cuts, intercut with a surprise cover. In this case, it is violist Isobel Campbell singing France Gall's "Poupee De Cire, Poupee De Son," which can be seen at the 33:53 mark. Campbell completely nails it, transforming Belle & Sebastian into a runaway locomotive of drums & organs, as she leads the way like a soldier doing battle with the ocean. It is a sexy, focused performance that is all the more remarkable with the way she sheepishly falls apart directly after delivering it--"I'm sorry if my French was bad"--shrugging away the entire thing like a second grader faking their way through a book report.

You can see how the leader of Belle & Sebastian, Stuart Murdoch, was completely infatuated with her.

Although they were together at the time of this concert, they would grow apart in the coming years, as Murdoch's quiet & more subdued nature made him the foil for her outspoken, feisty ways.

The following song is a rendition of one of the most beautiful Belle & Sebastian songs, "Slow Graffiti," which begins at the 36:16 mark. Although the title is a sphinx, the song itself is brimming with an odd balance of careful precision & heart; in studio, it is one their closest approximations to the pop side of their beloved heroes, The Velvet Underground. Here, in this live version, it takes on a more precious, delicate shape that outdoes the studio version with its effortless grace.

Midway through the song comes its bittersweet climax:

Listen, Johnny
You're like a mother
To the girl you're falling for
& you're still falling--

These are some of the cruelest words ever voiced in a pop song. There is nothing less sexy than a man pursuing a girl by acting like he's her mother. The words sting, making one wonder if it's not a commentary on Murdoch's own relationship with Campbell, who just proved both her strength & charisma only moments before.

& holding it all together is the melody in "Slow Graffiti," which maps directly onto "Tennessee Waltz." Did Murdoch realize this when he wrote it? Or was it just in the ether of a popular music subconscious?

Either way, I find it fascinating he chose this melody for these lyrics.

"Slow Graffiti" plays almost like an inverse of Cooke's "Tennessee Waltz"--where Cooke sings of a man who loses his girl to a friend, Murdoch sings of a man who can't even get a girl in the first place, because of his own maternal instincts. The cruelty of the situation--& the essential loneliness that both men feel--tie the songs together, with the thread of same melody bringing beauty to the proceedings. The contrast is further enhanced by the performers themselves--on one hand, we have Cooke, an African-American mainstream pop solo singer whose career ended over 50 years ago, & on the other we have Belle & Sebastian, a Scottish indie septet who soldier on to this day.

Coming from opposite sides, "Tennessee Waltz" is where they meet in the middle.

On September 16, 1964, Sam Cooke co-headlined the first episode of Shindig! with future-Rock-&-Roll-Hall-Of-Fame inaugural inductees The Everly Brothers. He was to be killed less than three months later.

Like he did on Sam Cooke At The Copa, he seems to be choosing his material to please a mainstream (white) audience; his two solo numbers for the show was a cover of Bob Dylan's "Blowing In The Wind" & his own take on Patti Page's "Tennessee Waltz." But then when one factors in that he was also promoting the Copa LP that was to be released the following month (which contained versions of both songs), it seems more like it was two birds with one stone.

Given all of the possible songs Cooke could have performed for this show, it's a small miracle that we have footage of "Tennessee Waltz." His abridged reading of the song (he skips over the second/first-for-a-second-time verse) is an interesting cross between the crowd-pleasing of the Copa LP and the fervor of the studio version. While it is not quite as good as the latter, it easily beats the former, landing somewhere in between the two. His performance is confident, settled--this is a man who has performed a million times before & has no reason to feel any pressure co-headlining the launch of a new primetime national series.

Whoever directed the show clearly knew the song, initiating with a tight focus framed by those ever-present saxophones, before pulling back for a third act to reveal backup singers (!) & backup dancers (!!) & additional horn men (!!!) turning it into a feel-good time once & for all. Sadly, we can't see Cooke's face for that final refrain, but his body language helps to tell the triumphant tale.

Plus, when host Jack Good bounces out at the end, Sam Cooke is beaming his big, beautiful smile.

Paradise has been found through the beauty.

Monday, November 20, 2017

The 301 Greatest Albums Of All Time.

They say that madness is doing the same thing over & over again but expecting different results.

If this is true, when it comes to analyzing the albums of the rock canon, I'm the maddest person I know.

I have already made a large-scale list of The 501 Greatest Rock Albums Of All Time, as well as A Rock Canon drawing from several key unranked lists. This is not to neglect my own ranked list, as well as the unranked lists I've made, the crown jewel of which may be The Rock 500 Canon.

I've spent months trying to compile a definitive list of rock albums, with now over 30 charts that I am still working on. However, no matter how many I add, it struck me that I don't think I'll be able to do much better than this straightforward compiling of the five lists that formed the core of the project:

Digital Dream Door's 200 Greatest Album's Of All-Time

*(Instead of using the overall list, I only used the non-user "recognized" lists, which resulted in 503 albums)

As far as I can find (so far), these are the best general rock lists, & if you cut it off at 300, you get a pretty solid sampling where the lists still interact effectively; go much further & they taper apart into nonsense.

The Beatles are the most represented with 9 albums, followed by Bob Dylan, who has 6 albums. Next is Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, & The Who, who have 5 albums each. After that comes David Bowie, The Byrds, Bob Marley, Pink Floyd, Elvis Presley, Radiohead, R.E.M., & U2, who have 4 albums each.

A lot of artists have 3 albums each: James Brown, Aretha Franklin, Jimi Hendrix, Nirvana, Parliament/Funkadelic, Prince, Bruce Springsteen, Sly & The Family Stone, The Stooges, Stevie Wonder, & Neil Young.

Finally, artists as varied as AC/DC, The Band, The Beastie Boys, Big Star, Bjork, Black Sabbath, Ray Charles, The Clash, Elvis Costello, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Crosby, Stills, & Nash, Miles Davis, Nick Drake, Marvin Gaye, Green Day, Buddy Holly, Michael Jackson, Janis Joplin, Joy Division, The Kinks, Kraftwerk, John Lennon, Madonna, Massive Attack, Metallica, Joni Mitchell, Van Morrison, Oasis, OutKast, The Pixies, Public Enemy, The Ramones, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Simon & Garfunkel, Frank Sinatra, Smashing Pumpkins, The Smiths, Talking Heads, The Velvet Underground, Kanye West, The White Stripes, Frank Zappa, & probably more I didn't catch have 2 albums each.

But this is not to imply there is any correlation between number of albums to make the list & overall influence. Artists as major & iconic as The Beach Boys, Chuck Berry, The Doors, Little Richard, Otis Redding, Run-D.M.C., The Sex Pistols, Patti Smith, & Muddy Waters only have a single album each, & many of them are far more influential than the names listed above. For that matter, consider the likes of Sam Cooke, Bo Diddley, Fats Domino, The Everly Brothers, Roy Orbison, & Smokey Robison & The Miracles, none of whom placed an album at all.

So here's the list breakdown, followed by the full list.

Top 10 Albums Of All-Time:

1. The Beatles: Revolver
2. The Beach Boys: Pet Sounds
3. The Beatles: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
4. Nirvana: Nevermind
5. Marvin Gaye: What's Going On
6. The Rolling Stones: Exile On Main St.
7. The Clash: London Calling
8. The Beatles ["The White Album"]
9. Bob Dylan: Highway 61 Revisited
10. The Beatles: Abbey Road

Top 10 Albums Of The '50s:

1. Elvis Presley
2. Little Richard: Here's Little Richard
3. Miles Davis: Kind Of Blue
4. Frank Sinatra: Songs For Swingin' Lovers
5. Elvis Presley: The Sun Sessions
6. Chuck Berry: The Great Twenty-Eight
7. Frank Sinatra: In The Wee Small Hours
8. Ray Charles: The Birth Of Soul
9. Buddy Holly: 20 Golden Greats
10. Buddy Holly: The "Chirping" Crickets

Top 10 Albums Of The '60s:

1. The Beatles: Revolver
2. The Beach Boys: Pet Sounds
3. The Beatles: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
4. The Beatles ["The White Album"]
5. Bob Dylan: Highway 61 Revisited
6. The Beatles: Abbey Road
7. Bob Dylan: Blonde On Blonde
8. The Velvet Underground & Nico
9. The Beatles: Rubber Soul
10. Jimi Hendrix: Are You Experienced

Top 10 Albums Of The '70s:

1. Marvin Gaye: What's Going On
2. The Rolling Stones: Exile On Main St.
3. The Clash: London Calling
4. Bruce Springsteen: Born To Run
5. Pink Floyd: The Dark Side Of The Moon
6. David Bowie: The Rise & Fall Of Ziggy Stardust & The Spiders From Mars
7. Bob Dylan: Blood On The Tracks
8. The Who: Who's Next
9. The Sex Pistols: Never Mind The Bollocks
10. Fleetwood Mac: Rumors

Top 10 Albums Of The '80s:

1. Michael Jackson: Thriller
2. U2: The Joshua Tree
3. Public Enemy: It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back
4. Prince: Purple Rain
5. Guns N' Roses: Appetite For Destruction
6. Prince: Sign 'O' The Times
7. AC/DC: Back In Black
8. Paul Simon: Graceland
9. The Smiths: The Queen Is Dead
10. Talking Heads: Remain In Light

Top 10 Albums Of The '90s:

1. Nirvana: Nevermind
2. U2: Achtung Baby
3. Radiohead: OK Computer
4. R.E.M.: Automatic For The People
5. Pearl Jam: Ten
6. Dr. Dre: The Chronic
7. Lauryn Hill: The Miseducation Of
8. Oasis: (What's The Story) Morning Glory?
9. Notorious B.I.G.: Ready To Die
10. Metallica

Top 10 Albums Of The '00s:

1. Radiohead: Kid A
2. OutKast: Stankonia
3. Eminem: The Marshall Mathers LP
4. The Strokes: Is This It
5. Amy Winehouse: Back To Black
6. Green Day: American Idiot
7. Coldplay: A Rush Of Blood To The Head
8. U2: All That You Can't Leave Behind
9. Arcade Fire: Funeral
10. The White Stripes: White Blood Cells

& without any further ado, here's the full list of...

The 301 Greatest Albums Of All-Time.

1. The Beatles: Revolver
2. The Beach Boys: Pet Sounds
3. The Beatles: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
4. Nirvana: Nevermind
5. Marvin Gaye: What's Going On
6. The Rolling Stones: Exile On Main St.
7. The Clash: London Calling
8. The Beatles ["The White Album"]
9. Bob Dylan: Highway 61 Revisited
10. The Beatles: Abbey Road

11. Bob Dylan: Blonde On Blonde
12. Michael Jackson: Thriller
13. The Velvet Underground & Nico
14. The Beatles: Rubber Soul
15. Jimi Hendrix: Are You Experienced
16. Bruce Springsteen: Born To Run
17. Pink Floyd: The Dark Side Of The Moon
18. U2: The Joshua Tree
19. David Bowie: The Rise & Fall Of Ziggy Stardust & The Spiders From Mars
20. Bob Dylan: Blood On The Tracks

21. The Who: Who's Next
22. Public Enemy: It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back
23. The Sex Pistols: Never Mind The Bollocks
24. Fleetwood Mac: Rumours
25. The Rolling Stones: Let It Bleed
26. Joni Mitchell: Blue
27. Led Zeppelin [IV]
28. Van Morrison: Astral Weeks
29. Stevie Wonder: Innervisions
30. Prince: Purple Rain

31. The Doors
32. Guns N' Roses: Appetite For Destruction
33. Stevie Wonder: Songs In The Key Of Life
34. Jimi Hendrix: Electric Ladyland
35. Carole King: Tapestry
36. Prince: Sign 'O' The Times
37. Patti Smith: Horses
38. The Ramones
39. U2: Achtung Baby
40. Radiohead: OK Computer

41. James Brown: Live At The Apollo
42. Led Zeppelin II
43. The Rolling Stones: Sticky Fingers
44. Love: Forever Changes
45. AC/DC: Back In Black
46. Neil Young: After The Gold Rush
47. The Rolling Stones: Beggars Banquet
48. Simon & Garfunkel: Bridge Over Troubled Water
49. The Band
50. The Eagles: Hotel California

51. Bob Dylan: Bringing It All Back Home
52. John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band
53. Paul Simon: Graceland
54. Pink Floyd: The Wall
55. Michael Jackson: Off The Wall
56. Elvis Presley: The Sun Sessions
57. The Smiths: The Queen Is Dead
58. Led Zeppelin [I]
59. R.E.M.: Automatic For The People
60. Otis Redding: Otis Blue: Otis Redding Sings Soul

61. Van Morrison: Moondance
62. Aretha Franklin: I Never Loved A Man The Way I Love You
63. Television: Marquee Moon
64. Talking Heads: Remain In Light
65. Pearl Jam: Ten
66. The Beastie Boys: Paul's Boutique
67. Neil Young: Harvest
68. Bruce Springsteen: Born In The U.S.A.
69. Aretha Franklin: Lady Soul
70. The Clash

71. Elton John: Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
72. The Who: Tommy
73. The Band: Music From Big Pink
74. Bob Marley: Legend
75. Sly & The Family Stone: There's A Riot Goin' On!
76. The Saturday Night Fever Soundtrack
77. Dr. Dre: The Chronic
78. N.W.A.: Straight Outta Compton
79. Chuck Berry: The Great Twenty-Eight
80. R.E.M.: Murmur

81. John Lennon: Imagine
82. Led Zeppelin: Physical Graffiti
83. Pixies: Doolittle
84. Curtis Mayfield: Superfly
85. Lauryn Hill: The Miseducation Of
86. Joy Division: Closer
87. Elvis Presley
88. David Bowie: Low
89. Black Sabbath: Paranoid
90. Blondie: Parallel Lines

91. Sly & The Family Stone: Stand!
92. Stevie Wonder: Talking Book
93. Prince: 1999
94. Oasis: (What's The Story) Morning Glory?
95. The Beastie Boys: Licensed To Ill
96. Bruce Springsteen: Darkness On The Edge Of Town
97. Elvis Costello: This Year's Model
98. Jimi Hendrix: Axis: As Bold As Love
99. Bob Marley: Exodus
100. Elvis Costello: My Aim Is True

101. Queen: A Night At The Opera
102. Derek & The Dominos: Layla & Other Assorted Love Songs
103. Radiohead: Kid A
104. Notorious B.I.G.: Ready To Die
105. Metallica: Master Of Puppets
106. Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young: Deja Vu
107. Metallica
108. Muddy Waters: The Anthology, 1947-1972
109. OutKast: Stankonia
110. A Tribe Called Quest: Low End Theory

111. Eminem: The Marshall Mathers LP
112. Al Green: Greatest Hits
113. Bob Dylan: The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan
114. Sly & The Family Stone: Greatest Hits
115. The Beatles: A Hard Day's Night
116. Alanis Morrissette: Jagged Little Pill
117. The Police: Synchronicity
118. Little Richard: Here's Little Richard
119. Madonna: Like A Prayer
120. Ray Charles: The Birth Of Soul

121. Cream: Disraeli Gears
122. Ray Charles: Modern Sounds In Country & Western
123. Nas: Illmatic
124. Al Green: Call Me
125. Phil Spector: Back To Mono (1958-1969)
126. Santana: Abraxas
127. The Beatles: Please Please Me
128. James Brown: Star Time
129. The Harder They Come Soundtrack
130. Billy Joel: The Stranger

131. Buddy Holly: 20 Golden Greats
132. Smashing Pumpkins: Mellon Collie & The Infinite Sadness
133. Miles Davis: Kind Of Blue
134. Radiohead: The Bends
135. David Bowie: Hunky Dory
136. The Stone Roses
137. John Coltrane: A Love Supreme
138. Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band: Trout Mask Replica
139. Miles Davis: Bitches Brew
140. Lou Reed: Transformer

141. Beck: Odelay
142: Dusty Springfield: Dusty In Memphis
143. The Byrds: Sweetheart Of The Rodeo
144. Johnny Cash: Live At Folsom Prison
145. My Bloody Valentine: Loveless
146. Run-D.M.C.: Raising Hell
147. Pavement: Slanted & Enchanted
148. Iggy & The Stooges: Raw Power
149. The Allman Brothers: At Fillmore East
150. Pink Floyd: Wish You Were Here

151. Jeff Buckley: Grace
152. The Strokes: Is This It
153. The Pretenders
154. Massive Attack: Blue Lines
155. The Stooges: Fun House
156. Bob Marley & The Wailers: Catch A Fire
157. Portishead: Dummy
158. De La Soul: Three Feet High & Rising
159. Kraftwerk: Trans-Europe Express
160. Sonic Youth: Daydream Nation

161. Peter Gabriel: So
162. Smashing Pumpkins: Siamese Dream
163. Nirvana: In Utero
164. Nine Inch Nails: The Downward Spiral
165. Public Enemy: Fear Of A Black Planet
166. The Replacements: Let It Be
167. The Wu-Tang Clan: Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)
168. Funkadelic: One Nation Under A Groove
169. Green Day: Dookie
170. Tom Waits: Rain Dogs

171. Red Hot Chili Peppers: Blood Sugar Sex Magik
172. The Cure: Disintegration
173. The Zombies: Odessey & Oracle
174. Amy Winehouse: Back To Black
175. Eric B. & Rakim: Paid In Full
176. Marvin Gaye: Let's Get It On
177. The Who: Sell Out
178. Janis Joplin: Pearl
179. Nick Drake: Five Leaves Left
180. Liz Phair: Exile In Guyville

181. The Smiths
182. Rage Against The Machine
183. Green Day: American Idiot
184. Nirvana: MTV Unplugged In New York
185. The Beatles: Let It Be
186. Coldplay: A Rush Of Blood To The Head
187. Moby: Play
188. Van Halen
189. Pink Floyd: The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn
190. George Harrison: All Things Must Pass

191. AC/DC: Highway To Hell
192. R.E.M.: Document
193. The Who: Quadrophenia
194. Frank Sinatra: Songs For Swingin' Lovers!
195. Parliament: Mothership Connection
196. Hole: Live Through This
197. The Grateful Dead: American Beauty
198. Aerosmith: Toys In The Attic
199. Moby Grape
200. Madonna: Ray Of Light

201. Simon & Garfunkel: Bookends
202. James Taylor: Sweet Baby James
203. The Kinks: Something Else By The Kinks
204. Crosby, Stills, & Nash
205. Dire Straits: Brothers In Arms
206. Talking Heads: Stop Making Sense
207. The B-52's
208. U2: All That You Can't Leave Behind
209. Red Hot Chili Peppers: Californication
210. Def Leppard: Hysteria

211. Dolly Parton: Coat Of Many Colors
212. Aretha Franklin: Young, Gifted & Black
213. Robert Johnson: King Of The Delta Blues Singers
214. Sam Cooke: Portrait Of A Legend
215. Elvis Presley: Sunrise
216. Hank Williams: 40 Greatest Hits
217. Arcade Fire: Funeral
218. Oasis: Definitely Maybe
219. Joy Division: Unknown Pleasures
220. Primal Scream: Screamadelica

221. Kate Bush: Hounds Of Love
222. Blur: Parklife
223. Jefferson Airplane: Surrealistic Pillow
224. DJ Shadow: Endtroducing.....
225. The White Stripes: White Blood Cells
226. Pulp: Different Class
227. Bjork: Debut
228. Kanye West: The College Dropout
229. Joni Mitchell: Court & Spark
230. Jesus & Mary Chain: Psychocandy

231. Pixies: Surfer Rosa
232. Radiohead: In Rainbows
233. Pavement: Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain
234. The Beatles: Meet The Beatles!
235. The White Stripes: Elephant
236. The Who: Live At Leeds
237. PJ Harvey: Stories From The City, Stories From The Sea
238. The Verve: Urban Hymns
239. Elvis Presley: From Elvis In Memphis
240. LCD Soundsystem: Sound Of Silver

241. The Velvet Underground: Loaded
242. T. Rex: Electric Warrior
243. Creedence Clearwater Revival: Cosmo's Factory
244. Frank Sinatra: In The Wee Small Hours
245. R.E.M.: Out Of Time
246. The Stooges
247. Kanye West: My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
248. MC5: Kick Out The Jams
249. Wilco: Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
250. Arctic Monkeys: Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not

251. OutKast: Speakerboxxx/The Love Below
252. The Mothers Of Invention: Freak Out!
253. Creedence Clearwater Revival: Green River
254. Jay-Z: The Blueprint
255. Bob Marley & The Wailers: Natty Dread
256. The Byrds: Mr. Tambourine Man
257. The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society
258. The Byrds: Younger Than Yesterday
259. Weezer
260. Bjork: Post

261. The New York Dolls
262. Big Brother & The Holding Company: Cheap Thrills
263. Talking Heads: Fear Of Music
264. The Ramones: Rocket To Russia
265. Radiohead: Amnesiac
266. Deep Purple: Machine Head
267. The Byrds: The Notorious Byrd Brothers
268. Nick Drake: Pink Moon
269. U2: The Unforgettable Fire
270. Black Sabbath

271. Kraftwerk: The Man-Machine
272. Lucinda Williams: Car Wheels On A Gravel Road
273. Roxy Music: For Your Pleasure
274. James Brown: Sex Machine
275. Adele: 21
276. The Modern Lovers
277. Bob Dylan: Time Out Of Mind
278. Coldplay: Parachutes
279. David Bowie: Station To Station
280. Rod Stewart: Every Picture Tells A Story

281. Soundgarden: Superunknown
282. Todd Rundgren: Something/Anything?
283. Buddy Holly: The "Chirping" Crickets
284. The Mothers Of Invention: We're Only In It For The Money
285. Depeche Mode: Violator
286. Massive Attack: Mezzanine
287. The Fugees: The Score
288. Jethro Tull: Aqualung
289. Led Zeppelin: Houses Of The Holy
290. Gram Parsons: Grievous Angel

291. Neil Young: Tonight's The Night
292. Tori Amos: Little Earthquakes
293. The Beach Boys: Today!
294. Paul McCartney & Wings: Band On The Run
295. The Rolling Stones: Some Girls
296. Leftield: Leftism
297. Meat Loaf: Bat Out Of Hell
298. Big Star: Third/Sister Lovers
299. Sly & The Family Stone: Fresh
300. TLC: CrazySexyCool

301. Jerry Lee Lewis: Live At The Star-Club, Hamburg