434 of 1001 Albums: Marianne Faithfull’s Broken English

Marianne Faithfull would release her most popular album Broken English to controversy and fame. It does have a very interesting sound, and for females you’ll be hearing words spoken for what I know is the earliest I’ve heard a woman use as strong as language. I’m sure it occurred earlier, but the attitude you get on the cover art is the attitude you get inside the album.

History: The album would be welcomed by critics upon it’s release, and hit charts as well. It would also cause controversy with it’s lyrics, particularly in the song where a lover is caught in infidelity, and the singer depicts how she will punish him. The lyrics also go on to explore other themes such as those about a housewife who is Catholic, and most are a personal reflection of the singer.

Vocals: Faithfull’s vocals were drastically changed by drug abuse, so this did provide a whole departure in sound for this album where she would change up most of the folk basis of her music. Her vocals were definitely rawer, and in some ways it does work for a lot of songs. On “Broken English” her vocals take some getting use to. They don’t conform to trying to sound perfect, and follow their own pitch and range to make for at least a very recognizable voice.

Instrumentals: Fans would also notice a difference between the folk and acoustic sound as she mixes in a lot more of the late 70’s music, and the sounds that would carry music into the 80’s. There is a bit of rock mixed in, but also new wave which was new on the scene. It would take the electric guitar sounds and mix them with the synthesizer. I think it mixes well though with the folk sound that is what she was based in though, and makes for a natural progression.

Recording: The music recorded in the 70’s has some of the most distinct sounds, and you can rarely go wrong with them. Even with this album that isn’t strongly my taste I found songs like “Guilt” to be a nice listen. There is a lot of emotion, and the album is going more than to just allure attention, but also express some own personal feelings of the artist singing.

I wasn’t sure what to expect with Broken English, and while some of the album I didn’t like there were some songs that I will be checking out again. Faithfull presents a lot of attitude on this album through the lyrics and just her presentation. It’s one of the album of the 70’s that you might not have heard of that is at least worth checking out.

Rating 7.5 of 10.

415 of 1001 Albums: Meat Loaf’s Bat Out of Hell

Meat Loaf was sort of a mixed bag at first when beginning the album. As the album goes the songs get better. The album feels more like it’s letting itself become a rock opera instead of trying to go for what was in for the late 70’s. There was a lot of struggle to get this album to go though, but a few decades later it seems like it was worth the work as people are still very familiar wit the tunes.

History: Love it or hate this album has went on to be one of the best selling albums of all time, and appeared on Rolling Stones’ Greatest Albums of all time list. It also features legendary musicians like Todd Rundgren and  on the guitar and Max Weinberg from Bruce Springstreen’s E Street Band. For a guy just working on his second album he had a lot backing it plus a lot of people who people who believed in what it had to offer to keep shopping it around to record companies.Thought the album now still sells very well it didn’t start to be popular. Critically the album was received with mixed reviews and didn’t really make too many waves on the charts upon it’s release.

Vocals: It’s difficult to deny that Meat Loaf doesn’t have vocal talent. He has an unique voicing that doesn’t fit any rock genre, so when he did this album with elements of rock it does mesh it into an album that is creative all on it’s own. He also has tons of energy on this album. I don’t think I’ve heard anyone so excited to be singing on an album as Meat Loaf is on this one. There are some favorite songs I walked away with from this one like “You Took the Words Right Out of My Mouth”, where his vocals just make the flow of the song.

Instrumentals: This album couldn’t have been as well done without the backing band that Meat Loaf had though. Todd Rundgren showcases some great guitar moments on the album. For a guy who thought this album was joke he at least took it seriously enough to put all his talent into it along with his band Utopia. There is also Max Weinberg on the drums, and he’s one of the most famous drummers there is. On songs like “Revved Up With Nowhere to Go” you have a brilliant instrumental arrangement, but some of the worst lyrics I’ve ever heard. I had to work real hard to block them out. I enjoyed this jazz 70’s sound that got merged into the album.

Recording: Some will say this is the most dated album you will hear, but I’ve heard others say that the sound is so unique that it makes it something that would have been out of place no matter what year it was released. I find the two perspectives to be interesting because they are polar opposite, and I agree with elements of both. This album has sounds that would have only been more popular to use at the time it was released, but there other elements like the vocals that wouldn’t have belonged anywhere no matter when Meat Loaf sought out getting this album out there.

I was surprised that as the album went on it did grow on me more. There are some songs that I have to admit I will be going out and listening to again. They are stuck in my head as we speak and I want to listen. Meat Loaf knows how to work his unique set of pipes to what the song is asking for whether it’s more rock type or something verging on some jazz it works.

407 of 1001 Albums: Cheap Trick’s At Budokan

Cheap Trick’s At Budokan is an enjoyable album. It has a lot of fun tunes, and with it being live you get to here the enjoyment of the audience listening as well. To be honest though the recording lacks a little in quality, and it’s not you will misplace for being a studio album. The live quality shows the guys skills, particularly on guitar though.

History: Well to explain much of it, this album was meant to be only released in Japan. With the huge success of the band’s concert in Japan they performed a show at Budokan. With thousands of fans there the band was almost drowned out at times. The success though grew out of Japan with the album being import copies began selling popularly in the U.S. The album is well received by critics, and Rolling Stone lists it in it’s 500 Greatest albums list.

Vocals: While the quality of this concert may not be the greatest you can still hear the talent streaming through. Robin Zander competes with the instrumentals well for the spotlight well with is vocals. His vocals have a way of following the music in a fun way that keeps the content of the songs fun and lively. Where the album really peaks for me as far as the vocals “Need Your Love” his vocals are very memorable on this song, and have a nice pattern.

Instrumentals: The guitar sounds very good, and I sort of like the mixture of classic and a little bit of the funner sounds that aren’t as dark in rock. Rick Nielsen is famous for his 5 neck guitar. It takes talent to another level with the way he plays it. You also have Tom Peterson on bass and Bun E. Carlos on drums. The instrumentals work together to give the album a great vibe.

Recording: The recording is a weak point in the album. The album wasn’t intended to be far spanning outside of Japan though, so for an album like this one to accomplish as much as it did is quite huge. It also left it being really straight up live quality. It shows that the bands talent far expanded outside of the recording quality of the music and the vocals and instrumentals resonated with fans.

I would personally like to find the studio versions of “I Want You to Want Me” and “Need Your Love” because those songs have been stuck in my head since, but it’s been a welcome to have songs I want stuck in my head though. I like the more upbeat vibe of the music and I think it would sound much better with the studio tracks found.

Rating 8 of 10.

405 of 1001 Albums: Elvis Costello and the Attractions’ Armed Forces

It took me a really long time to finish this album. While Elvis Costello has a certain talent with his vocals and the instrumentals can be catchy, the music itself lacks a bit of that 50’s rock charm that his other album I listened to had. His vocals just feel very different than the vibe of the tunes themselves. The music though this also features The Attractions, a backing band he commonly teamed up with to put together his album for this listen.

History: The reviews are mixed for the album. At the time of the release there was good feedback, but there were also some comments on how the production still wanted that pop charm. Over time the album has became more critically welcomed by recent critics. The album also has made a few pop culture references. This album would be the first that The Attractions were credited on the cover of the album for being apart of the music.

Vocals: Costello’s vocals are very 50’s pop. It sounds like he is still garnering control over his voice though because otherwise it has this very deep pitted sound that spins everywhere. It just doesn’t make me feel any emotion, good or bad. His voice projects the lyrics well I just feel it lacks in a lot of emotions. It captures this jovial sound he has to his voice, but I still can’t make a connection.

Instrumentals: The instrumentals straddle the line of pop and rock well, and Costello makes it fun for his fans to listen to. His voicing mixes in with those instrumentals to give it that extra kick. With The Attractions coming in for instrumentals. They blend their instrumentals talents well with the talent of Costello to make the music arranged in a well rounded way.

Recording: Since Costello has a unique style, that he flashes to old school sounds for, it makes his music sound less outdated than many other artists from the 70’s and 80’s. You could still place in his sound with that time for, so if you like a little of the 80’s flare it is still there, but not enough so to keep a wide array of listeners at bay

Overall, it was sort of difficult for me to write about this album. I felt it lacked something for me, and I had no emotion whether good or bad to the content in the album. It took me a while to even gain the motivation to write about it. It’s got talent I can recognize, but the vocals were the main drawback for me since they don’t resonate or appeal to me.

Rating 4 of 10.

400 of 1001 Albums: Buzzcocks’ Another Music In a Different Kitchen

The Buzzcocks are catchy, and have this fun beat to their music, but like Turbonegro I just find their to be a problem with the lyrics. It relies again on sexual lyrics, and then further gives you song titles that would be difficult to share as something you liked with others. It seems the remastered version released years later contains these very sexually graphic songs. Anyways, I did like the punk beat and how they put the English sounds into their tune as well.

History: This debut album from the band was a hit in Britain. The single “I Don’t Mind” made the charts. The album has the artsy vibe intended from the band, but it also doesn’t stir too much depth to get complex. The albums reviews are mostly positive or at least favorable. The album has a lot of instrumental talent despite the change ups on the album.

Vocals: Peter Shelley’s vocals are very British and catchy. I like how they have a lot of rhythm with the music, and they match the overall tone. They also remind me a bit of a 60’s rock band that has sort of merged in with the punk scene to make for something unique and fun. It has a light feel too, so the lack of seriousness makes it a bit of a fun album to listen to. My main complaint is that with such vocal talent the lyrics lacked quite a bit.

Instrumentals: The instrumentals also have a tempo that makes the music memorable. Steve Diggle also adds to the vocals, but also the guitar along with John Maher who does drums but also vocals. The drums have a good beat. Then there is Steve Garvey on bass as well. These elements of the music do combine to make it sound like something unique in the middle of the scene of 1978.

Recording: The recording is a nice mesh of different decades. It’s something that could expand from the 60’s to 80’s and blend well and then after that it still feels cool to listen to up till now. It’s a nice production for a debut album from a band, and has that cool garage band sound as well. The vocals sound clear and on the remastered version you get it even more cleaned up.

There are a lot of things to like about the Buzzcocks. Instrumentally and vocally strong they are appeasing to listen to. They do have lyrics that lack a bit hitting something that connects with me, but if you’re looking for a fun and light listen they are pretty good. It’s also nice to get back to the 70’s and find some of the better music I was missing out on from then.

Rating 7 of 10.

393 of 1001 Albums: Brian Eno’s Ambient 1: Music for Airports

To get an understanding of ambient music first I looked up the definition so I would understand what the point of the album is. You don’t have lyrics to give you the meaning, but what the music provides the listener is more so in the instrumentals created by the ambient sounds. Interestingly, music that is for background play usually is there to easy and be forgotten, but ambient on the other hand looks to be peaceful, but also stimulate the mind of the listener. It’s no surprise that a lot of ethereal sounds are fused in to help the listener.

History: Brian Eno had been incorporating a quieter sound into his albums for the past few years with albums like Another Green World, but in Ambient 1: Music for Airports, he steps it up by beginning a series of albums just for an ambient sound. Robert Wyatt also was apart of the album contributing to the piano. The album also fused in the anxious sounds that would have then made people think of airports, and even landed it’s tunes in an airport at some point during the 80’s. The album has received mostly positive reviews with the exception of Spin, which only gave it 4 out of 10 stars.

Vocals: There aren’t really any vocals used that you differentiate from the instrumentals prominently. There are only two tracks that use the vocal sounds, and it’s more of a noise that is made then looped. There aren’t any lyrics, but a lot of emotion is just conveyed from the technique applied to the vocals to move the music along. There are three different vocals used so it provides a good bit of texture.

Instrumentals: The instrumentals are used with a lot of mixing to make a sound that would be difficult to recreate. You also have the talent of Robert Wyatt involved to give this album an extra needed pop for the listener. Brian Eno contributes no vocals but is working on the synthesizer and piano to contribute the other instrumental arrangement sound. It does make good background music, but I don’t often find myself just listening to instrumentals for background music.

Recording: The recording does have a very heavy sound that is recognizable with music transitioning from the 70’s to the 80’s. The synthesizers do reveal to us this huge staple sound that is enjoyable to hear as something you acquaint with the 80’s. I found the music after a while though to have no personality to give to each song. The songs also are titled things like “1/1” or “2/2”, and I think this just further takes away from giving the song character.

Ambient 1: Music for Airports shows why Brian Eno has been trusted by other bands for as long as he has to help them put together their album by being producer. The sound was always progressing the music scene in some way even if years later it may sound outdated to listener, but at the time it seems like it would be new. This album lacks a little life though.

Rating 5 of 10.

391 of 1001 Albums: The Jam’s All Mod Cons

The Jam are an interesting sounding band that uses a lot of influences from the pop scene of the British in the 60’s like The Kinks and comes back around a decade later in the 70’s to make this album, which is a lot of fun and it’s very light. It’s a far cry from the heavy stuff I’ve been having to listen to. The songs are very short though, and I don’t think always stick around long enough, and it’s a good thing to feel that way because it means they are good enough to.

History: “Down in the Tube Station At Midnight” would become a pop song sensation in the U.K. and hit the tops of the chart. All Mod Cons find this album garnering the band more attention than previous efforts did, and adding to the attraction they were getting for being apart of the mod revival scene. Whether they liked that or not is another thing though. They did play the title of the album to the mod trend though and used a popular saying in Britain at the time to title their album from “all modern conveniences.” It’s catchy and memorable.

Vocals: Paul Weller has vocals that are good, but they aren’t extraordinary. I think it’s good that he doesn’t try to push his vocals to be something they are not though. “It’s Too Bad” is one of the best from the album with the instrumentals and his vocals making something really catchy to sing along to. The rhythm has a lot of movement and it’s one were he gives the vocals a staple sound to memorize the music by.

Instrumentals: The instrumental arrangement sounds really good. It’s soft, but it still has a lot about it that resonates with you as you’re listening. I already commented on how enjoyable “It’s Too Bad” was musically, and you can’t pick a better song for a first listen from the album. “English Rose” is another though that is quite good, but it is really short, you won’t get to enjoy the nice acoustics for as long on that song as you would, but it’s a good listen.

Recording: What is really good about the album is how timeless the sound is of the tunes. The tunes are ones that sound like they have that 70’s sound, but they also feel modern enough to blend with any current recording. The piece of history they also were apart of his quite interesting too. While mod is a familiar term, it’s not one most know in broad depth about, so it’s intriguing to study what makes the music apart of that scene in particular.

All Mod Cons is an enjoyable album and probably more so for those who are into the style of bands like The Kinks, or even The Beatles later stuff. They sort of take some inspiration from that cut and merge some 70’s sounds to make a strong album. The songs are a little short to continue with me through time, but I would recommend this if I knew people into this style.

Rating 8 of 10.

367 of 1001 Albums: Steely Dan’s Aja

Steely Dan definitely is sounding different from when they started, and I would even say a lot more jazzy. You can still recognize it’s Steely Dan, but one who sounds like he has perfected his style more. This would also go on to be the group’s best selling album they would release. Not only was this album a hit with audiences though, but the Library of Congress added it to the United States National Recording Registry for the trademarks of being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically important”.

One of the members would describe this album to be two distinct sounds of jazz and pop, and I do agree. I think this is what makes the album a lot better because these two styles of music can be a lot of fun especially in the 70s, so it makes the album fun. “Black Crow” kicks off the album, and while a good start to set up the album it definitely isn’t the one that stuck with me after listening.

“Aja” the title song is next on the album, and is appropriately placed. For some reason it just seems suiting to have the title song not first, the middle, or the end, but somewhere near the top. Some of the better songs are to come later this one. For correct saying, Aja is pronounced Asia. It’s the end songs that liven up the album from the usual though.

Songs like “Home at Last” and “I Got the News” are some of the fun songs of the album though that show case a side of the band that I don’t think I’ve heard on prior albums, but still keeps in line with the style they are known for. The fact that they are mixing genres does also bring something stronger to the album as it is done very well. I haven’t been converted into a Steely Dan fan though yet. The music still isn’t something I would turn on without the help of the list continually putting their albums on it.

Rating 6 of 10.

366 of 1001 Albums: Elvis Costello’s My Aim Is True

After hearing Elvis Costello’s name for so long, I was curious about his music would sound. It was very different than I expected with the 50s rock n’ rock vibe that was put in well with the 70s.  This album had a rough start though as Costello had a difficult time getting a label to pick it up, and on top of that when the album was released the backing band, The Clovers, weren’t even credited due to some contract difficulties. Years later though this album has become a classic, and inducted into a few Hall of Fames.

Costello gets the album started off well with “Welcome to the Working Week”. With such a topic usually greeted with not too much excitement he makes his song pop with the fun sounds of the 50s. When you do the 50s though it can be a difficult sound to modify to fit another sound but he does that well by mixing the pop and rock aspect of it.

After the first song I was really excited about listening to the rest of the album especially since I thought the list missed many more fun tunes from the 50s, and trimmed it down pretty low. The second song “Miracle Man” isn’t as fun, but thankfully the album gets back to giving you hope with “No Dancing”. Sometimes the sound runs together, but it’s songs like this that do keep it popping every other song that you listen to on the album.

The album keeps with a good sound though, and these fun but sort of rebellious lyrics throughout the album. The next song that really stood out to me was “I’m Not Angry”. It sort of had that same vibe as “No Dancing”, and still captures the vibe of the 50s where much was being looked down upon as younger people sort of plodded their way into rebelling against it.

Elvis Costello has a lot of fun tunes that take a bit from the past, and mesh it with the current of the 70s to create something that still sounds like the time, and has relevant lyrics, but gets a lot of where it is inspired by as well. It’s very unique as well, as much music like this just wasn’t being played anymore. Costello also has a good voice that almost only feels meant to this style.

Rating 7 of 10.

365 of 1001 Albums: Electric Light Orchestra’s Out of the Blue

It’s been awhile it feels since I’ve listened to an album I’ve enjoyed all the way through, and I didn’t expect for the Electric Light Orchestra to be the next album I listened to that surprised me and really gave me something I enjoyed. Also, I couldn’t help but get extremely excited to hear Mr. Blue Sky begin playing on the album. It always makes me think of the trailer to Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. 

This album is good from beginning to end though, so I didn’t need to hear just that song to enjoy the whole thing.  “Turn to Stone” kicks off the album very shortly, and the songs after that play in shortness as well.  “Across the Border” though was the other song that really captured me. The music is heavily “electric” but there are other instruments mixed in that showcase a variety of talent. The vocals also are really catchy and sound very British. It’s fun music.
You can hear a very heavy 60s influence on the album that also merges it with the upcoming sound of the late 70s and 80s that makes it good. It’s very different. “Night in the City” was another one I enjoyed a good bit from the album. The next one I remember loving was “Mr. Blue Sky”, which I’m sure is recognizable to most people. It isn’t till the near the end of the album that I find myself enjoying the songs even more.
“Sweet is the Night” feels like a great love song for the 70s. It’s a little dramatic and over the top, but that adds to the whole thing. It almost feels too short. “The Whale” is the other song on the album that is one of the few that runs longer, and it takes it’s time getting started, but stays consistent with the album sound as a whole.
Out of the Blue is a great album, and I didn’t see it coming. While the sound may sound a little 70s it’s still fun, and something I would want to bring out for a group to listen to. When they guys aren’t contributing vocals I really miss it though as it does add to the music because it is a very unique sound to them. Definitely a surprise good listen though.
Rating 9 of 10
Recommended Listen: Mr. Blue Sky