Wednesday, April 28, 2021

A deep dive into Lou Reed's catalog: The solid middle ground

1992: The Magic and Loss tour

I told you earlier about the albums I consider the four essential, must-listen Lou Reed albums, and I told you about four more Reed LPs I think are great but don't quite reach the Mount Rushmore level.

Now, here are five Lou Reed albums that fill that middle ground, the ones I rank 9-13 in his catalog of 22 studio albums. These are the records that are held in high regard by fans but are going to be hit-and-miss for casual fans and the uninitiated. None of these albums are great, certainly none of them are bad. Most any listener will find a few favorite tracks here. Depending on your tastes, you may very well find a favorite Lou Reed album among these.

Monday, April 19, 2021

The Doors found magic in their powerful final album

For The Doors, the release of the album L.A. Woman 50 years ago, on April 19, 1971, would be a rebirth of their musical power and, sadly, at the same time, their swan song.

A scant three months after the album’s debut, the last studio album for the quartet, Jim Morrison -- poet, rock evangelist and shaman -- would be dead in a bathtub in his Paris apartment, ending the group’s four-year run as one of rock’s most prestigious chroniclers of life’s mysteries, pathos, chaos and transcendent beauty.

Friday, April 16, 2021

What we listened to in the strange days of 2020

“Strange days have found us
Strange days have tracked us down
They're going to destroy
Our casual joys”
― The Doors

It never got weird enough for me.”
― Hunter S. Thompson

The year 2020 was filled with strange days indeed, no doubt the strangest I have seen in my six decades on this planet.

Roxy Music: Where to begin, exactly?

1973: Thompson, Mackay, Ferry, Manzanera, bassist John Porter, Eno

Geezer Bob and I have been discussing debut albums over at Geezerology on YouTube, and I cited the first Roxy Music LP, released in 1972, as one that was particularly innovative and impactful. The band's brand of experimental rock and alien sense of style reverberated for years through the British pop scene.

That was all news to Bob, who had never had any exposure to Roxy beyond their racy album covers and their hit single "Love is the Drug" that broke them through in the States later in the decade. During our discussion, Bob expressed an interest in looking into Roxy. After we finished recording Sunday, I shared with him a YouTube video from that era of Roxy performing "Re-Make/Re-Model," the chaotic, rocking opening track of the debut. Bob said he really appreciated the band's "serious rock chops" though he was turned off a bit by Brian Eno's "weird noise."

Monday, April 12, 2021

A deep dive into Lou Reed's catalog: The best of the rest

1980: Lou and Sylvia on their wedding day

I wrote earlier about the four studio albums I consider the most important of the 22 Lou Reed released in his solo career. I called them essential albums, those that must be heard by anyone who wants to explore Reed's post-Velvet Underground career.

Next up are four albums I want to call the Best of the Rest. Precisely, these are my favorite Lou Reed albums that I do not consider essential listening. If you have listened to the four essentials and want to dive further into Reed's catalog, these are the four that will confirm or deny your compatibility with the man and his music.

Friday, April 9, 2021

A homoerotic ode to Ringo Starr?


The first single released by Cher, hailed as the "Goddess of Pop" at the pinnacle of her career, was a miserable flop, reportedly because radio DJs thought she was a male crooning a homoerotic love song to Beatles drummer Ringo Starr.

Thursday, April 8, 2021

A rock-and-roll apostasy and sacrilege

We have to turn the minds of our young people away from the satanic and twisted allure of rock music, thundered the young minister. Sorry, Rev, but too late for me. I went down that rabbit hole years ago. And I’m never coming back.

It was a Sunday night in 1987 as I listened to the fledgling Jerry Falwell wannabe, there to audition for a position as the church’s youth minister, trying to whip up the congregation through his attack on secular music. But this is the Missouri Ozarks, so condemning the evils of rock music is picking low-hanging fruit. Show some courage, young rev, and go after country music with its predominant themes of honky tonks, drinking, adultery and Friday-night fights.

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Doing the Pandora shuffle, 4th edition

"OK, Google, shuffle my Pandora."

"The Golden Age of Rock 'n' Roll," Mott the Hoople (The Hoople, 1974):
A jumping rock-and-roll burner that sounds exactly like what the title suggests -- Jerry Lee Lewis imported into 1970s glam. The opening track on Mott's seventh studio album, it's dense with three saxophones, Ian Hunter's piano and lead vocals, and backing vocals by sister team Sue and Sunny. Hunter left Mott after this album and did a lot of this kind of stuff in his solo career. 

Thursday, April 1, 2021

A deep dive into Lou Reed's catalog: The essential albums

1973: In Paris during the Transformer tour

Lou Reed released 22 studio albums in his 40-year solo career. Some of them were great, some were awful, most fell somewhere in between, depending on who's leading the discussion. But one of those albums in particular must be at the center of any serious consideration of Reed's place in the history of rock music.

The discussion doesn't end there, but it always will begin at Transformer. That 1972 album, Reed's second after a failure of a debut earlier in the year, dropped a nuclear bomb on the music culture. Tranformer and the hit single it spawned, "Walk on the Wild Side," became instant cultural classics. That's obvious.