Zombies – Odessey and Oracle…Desert Island Albums

This is my fourth-round choice from Hanspostcard’s album draft…100 albums in 100 days.
https://slicethelife.com/2020/08/11/2020-album-draft-round-4-pick-6-badfinger20-selects-the-zombies/

In the early 90s, I purchased the Zombie’s greatest hits. The cd contained the usual songs Tell Her No, She’s Not There, and Time Of The Season. I had read about The Zombies in music books and how other bands admired them for their jazz and classical influences.

They are best remembered for those three hits but also for one album…Odessey and Oracle.  With this album, they elevated themselves to new heights…but that took a little while. In Rolling Stone magazine in the 80s and 90s I read great writeups about this album. Finally, I tried it for myself and was more than happy I did. Many critics hailed this album as one of the greatest of the decade and it lived up to their hype.

By the way… The band wanted to call the album “Odyssey and Oracle” but cover artist Terry Quirk accidentally spelled the title wrong and the band decided to run with the misspelling.

By 1967 they were close to being done. They were broke and had to pay for most of the sessions. Tell Her No and She’s Not There were 3 years in the past and in pop music…that was a lifetime.

They got together in Abbey Road studios right after The Beatles finished Sgt Pepper in 1967…even using John Lennon’s Mellotron. They ended up recording one of the best albums of the sixties. April 18, 1968, was the UK release date. It was a little while after that before America heard it.

The album almost didn’t get released in America. Al Kooper worked for Columbia Records as a staff producer in the A&R department. One of his first assignments was to go to London and he bought around 40 albums that could only be bought there. Odessey and Oracle stood out from all of the rest.

Clive Davis was about to sign off on this album not being released in America. Kooper changed his mind and convinced Clive to release the album. That is how the album was released and Time of the Season became a hit. By the time Time Of The Season peaked at #3 in 1969 the band had broken up.

It ended up ranked at #100 in Rolling Stone Magazine best 500 albums of all time. Not bad for an album that only peaked at #95 in the Billboard Album Charts in 1969.

The best way I can describe this album is somewhere between psychedelic pop/rock and baroque pop. I think that is a fair statement. I suggest listening to this album with headphones. The Zombies paid attention to detail and the backup vocals are outstanding. It the year that Sgt Pepper and The Piper at the Gates of Dawn were recorded… Odessey and Oracle belong with those albums.

It’s pure joy to sit and listen to this album. I’ll highlight these songs.

Time of the Season is the big hit off the album and also…there is an official law in the books about this song. If you produce a film about the 1960s this song must be played. The song is great and it does transport you to that time. What’s your name? Who’s your daddy? (He rich) Is he rich like me?

Care Of Cell 44 is the real star of the album to me. The song is arranged beautifully. with part vocal-only arrangements, You can hear Brian Wilson and Paul McCartney’s influence in this recording. Chris White’s (Zombies bass player) bass playing is phenomenal in this song. If Paul McCartney and Brian Wilson had a baby…this is what it would be. Take a listen to this one.

This Will Be Our Year is a wonderful optimistic song. It sounds like it should have been a hit but it was stuck on the B side to Butcher’s Tale  (Western Front 1914) which is more of an experimental song and not exactly very commercial…that was a wasted opportunity.

Another song that caught me on the first listen is A Rose For Emily. The theme is very similar to Eleanor Rigby but more subdued. “And as the years go by, she will grow old and die, The roses in her garden fade away, not one left for her grave, not a rose for Emily…”

Put this album on with some headphones and travel back to the sixties.

So far on my island…all the albums are within 4 years (1968-1972) of each other but that suits me fine. I’m sure an album will break that eventually. Odessey and Oracle brings some beautiful pop music to my hut. Grab a coconut and come over…we will listen to the Zombies…btw…Have you seen Mary Ann? I’ve been looking for her.

1. Care Of Cell 44
2. A Rose For Emily
3. Maybe After He’s Gone
4. Beechwood Park
5. Brief Candles
6. Hung Up On A Dream
7. Changes
8. I Want Her She Wants Me
9. This Will Be Our Year
10. Butcher’s Tale (Western Front 1914)
11. Friends Of Mine
12. Time Of The Season

 

Big Star – #1 Record…Desert Island Albums

This is my third round choice from Hanspostcard’s album draft…100 albums in 100 days.
2020 ALBUM DRAFT-ROUND 3 PICK 6- BADFINGER20 SELECTS- BIG STAR- #1 RECORD

“Big Star is like a letter that was mailed in 1971 but didn’t arrive until 1985.”
Musician Robyn Hitchcock 

I never travel far, without a little Big Star
The Replacements

“We’ve sort of flirted with greatness, but we’ve yet to make a record as good as Revolver or Highway 61 Revisited or Exile on Main Street or Big Star’s Third.”
Peter Buck

The band didn’t chart a record when they were active. I still hold their music up along with The Who, Beatles. and Kinks…they never had the sales but they did have a giant influence. They released this album as their debut in August of 1972.  I had to stop myself from writing an open love letter (I may have failed) about this band. Was it the mystique of them? Was it the coolness factor of liking a band that not many people knew? No and no. It’s about the music. Mystique and coolness wear off and all you are left with is the music…We are fortunate to have 3 albums by Big Star to enjoy.

In the early eighties, I heard stories from an older brother of a friend about Big Star out of Memphis…but their records were hard to come by.  I loved what little I heard and it got lost in the shuffle but it planted a seed for later. 

By the mid-80s I heard more of their songs. In 1986 The Bangles released “September Gurls” and I knew it sounded familiar…and the DJ said it was a Big Star song…then came the song, Alex Chilton, by The Replacements and  I’m ashamed to say it wasn’t until the early nineties, I finally had Big Star’s music along with the Raspberries and Badfinger. My power-pop fandom kicked into high gear and I have never left that genre.

Big Star was the best band never heard. Such a great band but a long frustrating story. They made three albums that were among the best of the decade that were not heard until much later. They signed with Ardent which was a subsidiary of Stax Records.

A power-pop band on the soul Stax label doesn’t sound like a good idea now and it wasn’t then. Stax was failing at that time and could not distribute the records to the stores. Kids loved the music on the radio only to go to a record store with no Big Star records. Rolling Stone gave them rave reviews…but that doesn’t help if the album is not out there to purchase. They were through by 1974 after recording their 3rd album.

When their albums were finally discovered by eighties bands, they influenced many artists such as REM, The Replacements, Cars, Cheap Trick, Sloan, Matthew Sweet, KISS, Wilco, Gin Blossoms, and many more. They influenced alternative rock of the 80s and 90s and continue to this day.

Listening to this album with each song you think…Oh, that could have been a single. Alex Chilton and Chris Bell wrote most of the songs and wanted to emulate Lennon/McCartney and they did a great job but with an obvious American slant to make it their own. After the commercial failure of this album, Chris Bell quit but the other three continued for one more album and then bass player Andy Hummel quit after the second album, and Chilton and drummer Jody Stephens recorded the third.

I could have gone with ANY three of their albums. I picked this one because of Chris Bell. The songs are a bit more polished on this one than the other two but it fits the songs they present. Chris Bell added a lot to Big Star and after hearing his solo song I Am The Cosmos you see how much. Radio City, their second album, with Chilton in charge many consider their best and their third album, Third/Sister Lovers is not as commercially accessible but I still love it. All three are in Rolling Stone’s top 500 albums of all time.

I’ll go over four songs.

The Ballad Of El Goodo  A song about Vietnam conscientious objector…but it is much more than that. It is one of the most perfect pop/rock songs recorded to my ears. This would make it in my own top 10 songs of all time. The tone of the guitars, harmonies and the perfectly constructed chorus keeps calling me back listen after listen. This is when pop music becomes more.

In The Street is a song that everyone will know. It was used as the theme of That Seventies Show. Cheap Trick covered it for the show. I was not a teenager in the early seventies but with this song, I am there front and center. Steal your car and bring it down, Pick me up, we’ll drive around, Wish we had, A joint so bad.

Thirteen is a song that Chilton finds that spot between the innocence of childhood and the first teenage year where they meet and intertwine with confusion. Won’t you tell your dad, “get off my back” Tell him what we said ’bout “Paint It Black”

When My Baby’s Beside Me has a great guitar riff to open it up. This is power pop at it’s best. A nice rocker that should have been blaring out of AM radios in the 70’s.

I’m not going over every song (but I could easily) because reading this won’t do it…you have to listen if you haven’t already. You will not regret it. Not just these songs but the complete album.

It’s a mixture of songs on the album…rockers, mid-tempo songs, and ballads. Even the weaker song called The India Song is very listenable. My favorites besides the ones I listed are  Watch the Sunrise, Don’t Lie To Me, Feel, and Give Me Another Chance.

I now have rounded out my albums on my island. The variety of The White Album, The rock of Who’s Next, and the ringing power-pop beauty of Big Star…swim or use a boat and come over to my island and we will listen…the Pina Coladas and High Tides (hey it’s an island) are flowing… let’s drink to BIG STAR.

On a side note. If you want to learn more there is a good documentary out about them called: Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me.

Feel
The Ballad Of El Goodo
In The Street
Thirteen
Don’t Lie To Me
The India Song
When My Baby’s Beside Me
My Life Is Right
Give Me Another Chance
Try Again
Watch The Sunrise
ST 100/6

  • Chris Bell – guitar, vocals
  • Alex Chilton – guitar, vocals
  • Andy Hummel – bass guitar, vocals
  • Jody Stephens – drums

 

 

 

The Who – Who’s Next…..Desert Island Albums

https://slicethelife.com/2020/07/20/37604/

This is my second round choice from Hanspostcard’s album draft…100 albums in 100 days.

I bought this album when I was 14. I had a few albums by The Who…Face Dances, Big Meaty Big and Bouncy,  and a greatest hits package called Hooligans. Hooligans was a 4 album set and had four songs from Who’s Next and that sample was enough to know I wanted the complete album.

With headphones on, I placed needle to vinyl and could not get over the sound…the sonic boom. The biggest sound I have ever heard before on record. I listened to every song three times through in the first sitting. I knew I finally found a band that moved me like no other except The Beatles. After this came Tommy, Quadrophenia, and The Who Sell Out…but this album left me speechless. Before this record. I liked the Who…after the album they were THE WHO.

It was 1981 and this album had been out for 10 years but that made no difference. As with the Beatles, I was late to the fan party but when I arrived… I arrived in style with Who’s Next under my arm.

There is not one clinker on the album. Forty-three minutes and thirty-eight seconds of pure bliss.

I have a Glyn Johns quote on recording the album to start this off.

I have a residing memory of sitting in the truck, my hair being parted by what was coming out of the speakers, a massive amount of adrenaline coursing through my veins. There have been a few occasions over the years when I have been completely blown away, believing without a doubt that what I was listening to would become much more than just commercially successful but also a marker in the evolution of popular music, and this was one of those moments.

Won’t Get Fooled Again… this is the best concert song I’ve witnessed on film or live in person. It has drama, action, suspense, and aggression… just as much as any movie. Every member of the band is at the top of their game. You have Pete’s thick power chords, John Entwistle’s rolling basslines, Keith Moon’s controlled chaos, and Roger holding it down and keeping it grounded.

When your bookends on an album are Baba O’Riley and Won’t Get Fooled Again you have a great album.

My favorite song on the album is Bargain. Moon’s drumming on this song alone makes it worth a listen. Pete Townshend has said the subject of the song is God…as one critic put it… it may be the angriest message God ever received.

Goin’ Mobile is a great vehicle for Townshend’s voice…and how could you not like the line..Play the tape machine, make the toast and tea, When I’m mobile.

Behind Blue Eyes is a song that lulls you with a beautiful melody with sparse accompaniment (probably the longest Moon ever sat on his hands while recording) and then it happens…all hell breaks loose and Roger sings…no correction…he doesn’t sing…he demands When my fist clenches, crack it open, Before I use it and lose my cool… it’s like getting hit by a bus that you didn’t see coming…and then it’s over.

My Wife is a song John Entwistle wrote for the album and one of his best songs. A rocking and hilarious look at marriage by a desperate man. Love Aint For Keeping is a song that gets a lot of play at my home and car. It has a great message. Getting In Tune…this song starts off as a slow ballad and then The Who kicks it up a notch as usual.

The Song Is Over is a beautiful song with Pete and Roger taking turns singing.

Baba O’Riley…One of the most well-known intros in rock ever. Not much else to say about this song except dynamic and exhilarating…that about sums it up.

Who’s Next was released on August 14, 1971. It started off as a rock opera called Lifehouse. The problem was that Pete could not get the idea across to other band members, journalists, or even his producer Glyn Johns. It was suggested to dump the story and make a great standalone album of the songs. The Who did just that.

This album kicked down the door to the seventies and future. The mixture of synthesizers and guitars are perfect. The synthesizers still sound fresh and vibrant today. 1971 was an extraordinary year for great albums…this one helped lead the way.

So far on Max’s Desert Island, I have the White Album and Who’s Next. Life is good…I think I will pick up my guitar and play…just like yesterday.

  1. Baba O’Riley
  2. Bargain
  3. Love Ain’t For Keeping
  4. My Wife
  5. The Song Is Over
  6. Getting In Tune
  7. Going Mobile
  8. Behind Blue Eyes
  9. Won’t Get Fooled Again

 

The Beatles – White Album…..Desert Island Albums

https://slicethelife.com/2020/07/09/2020-album-draft-round-1-pick-4-badfinger20-selects-the-beatles-the-white-album-the-beatles/

The White Album was released in 1968 and peaked at #1 in the Billboard Album Chart, #1 in Canada, #1 in the UK, and #1 about everywhere else…and it would be #1 as well on “Max’s Desert Island.”

Is this considered the Beatle’s best album? Probably not but if I had to take just one with me to that proverbial desert island…this would be the one. They have albums that are considered better like Revolver and Sgt Pepper but I relate to the rawer songs on this album. The album’s actual name is “The Beatles” but for obvious reasons, it will forever be known as the White Album.

When John Lennon was killed in1980 there were three albums I bought that long winter. Double Fantasy, The White Album,  and Abbey Road. I’m back there again in that 1980-81 winter and spring when I hear this album.

The White Album is as diverse as you can get… Pop, Rock, Country, Folk, Reggae, Avant-Gard, Blues, Hard Rock, and some 20’s British Music Hall thrown in the mix. It has plenty of songs that you have heard of and many that the masses have not heard as much. John Lennon wrote one of his best songs for this album… Dear Prudence.

The Beatles more than many bands could bend to a style of music and play that style well.

Some critics said they should have taken the best of the two albums and slimmed it down to one…but as a Beatle fan…Nahhhhh. It’s the friggin Beatles White Album!

My favorite songs: Sexy Sadie, Dear Prudence, While My Guitar Gently Weeps, Cry Baby Cry, Helter Skelter, I Will, I’m So Tired, Revolution 1, Yer Blues, Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except For Me and My Monkey, Back In The USSR, Rocky Raccoon, Happiness Is A Warm Gun and Glass Onion.

Are all of the 30 songs up to the Beatle’s high standards? No, but more than enough are to make this a great double album.

Although the songs differ in style they all have that Beatles touch to them whether it be the hard Helter Skelter, country Rocky Raccoon, or even the fairytale-like Cry Baby Cry.

The sessions were not the happiest time for the band but they came up with the most eclectic batch of songs they ever produced.

 

  1. Back In The USSR
  2. Dear Prudence
  3. Glass Onion
  4. Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da
  5. Wild Honey Pie
  6. The Continuing Story Of Bungalow Bill
  7. While My Guitar Gently Weeps
  8. Happiness Is A Warm Gun
  9. Martha My Dear
  10. I’m So Tired
  11. Blackbird
  12. Piggies
  13. Rocky Raccoon
  14. Don’t Pass Me By
  15. Why Don’t We Do It In The Road?
  16. I Will
  17. Julia
  18. Birthday
  19. Yer Blues
  20. Mother Nature’s Son
  21. Everybody’s Got Something To Hide Except Me And My Monkey
  22. Sexy Sadie
  23. Helter Skelter
  24. Long, Long, Long
  25. Revolution 1
  26. Honey Pie
  27. Savoy Truffle
  28. Cry Baby Cry
  29. Revolution 9
  30. Good Night

 

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Ranking Led Zeppelin Albums #6 – #10

Led Zeppelin has produced some of the best albums in the history of rock. I will include the original live album of “The Song Remains the Same”… Not the remastered version of that one. Below is the way I would rank them. Ten albums in all including Coda released after John Bonham died. 1-5 coming tomorrow.

 

The_Song_Remains_the_Same.jpg

10. The Song Remains The Same – 1976

This was recorded at the end of their 1973 American tour but was not released until 1976. They sound tired. It’s a good history marker looking back, but far from their best live performance. Not until long after the band broke up though nothing was officially released except this. I still prefer this over the movie of the same name.

Tracklist

Rock And Roll
Celebration Day
The Song Remains The Same
Rain Song
Dazed And Confused
No Quarter
Stairway To Heaven
Moby Dick
Whole Lotta Love

 

Coda.jpg

9.  Coda – 1982

The album spans the band’s entire career, from live performances just after their debut album to unused songs from In Through the Out Door sessions. My favorites are Ozone Baby, Wearing and Tearing and Walter’s Walk. Personally, I like this album more than Presence but the playing is not as tight.

Tracklist

We’re Gonna Groove
Poor Tom
I Can’t Quit You Baby
Walter’s Walk
Ozone Baby
Darlene
Bonzo’s Montreaux
Wearing and Tearing

Presence.jpg

8.  Presence – 1976

This album was made when Robert Plant was recuperating from injuries he and his wife suffered in a car wreck. He was singing from a wheelchair. Jimmy Page was keeping the band busy recording this since they could not tour. The playing on this album is great and tight but the songs are not as strong as their predecessors. After Physical Graffiti, this one paled in comparison. Technically this could be one of Jimmy Pages best performance on an album. It was recorded and mixed in 18 days.

Tracklist

Achilles Last Stand
For Your Life
Royal Orleans
Nobody’s Fault But Mine
Candy Store Rock
Hots On For Nowhere
Tea For One

In_Through_the_Out_Door.jpg

7.  In Through The Out Door – 1979

It was not the typical Led Zeppelin album. Page and Bonham were having substance difficulties during this album. Plant and Jones wrote much of the album and Jones used his new synthesizer. This was a change in direction and some Zeppelin fans hated it but it did foreshadow the synthesizer coming in the eighties. I liked a lot of songs on this album like In The Evening, Fool In the Rain, All of My Love and the fun Hot Dog.

Tracklist

In the Evening
South Bound Suarez
Fool In the Rain
Hot Dog
Carouselambra
All My Love
I’m Gonna Crawl

Led_Zeppelin.png

6.  Led Zeppelin – 1969

One of the best debut albums of any band. The classic Dazed and Confused, Good Times Bad Times, etc… The album went to #7 in the Billboard 100, #6 in the UK and #11 in Canada. Some people wonder why the band didn’t like critics…this is what Rolling Stone said about the album.

The latest of the British blues groups so conceived offers little that its twin, the Jeff Beck Group, didn’t say as well or better three months ago, and the excesses of the Beck group’s Truth album (most notably its self-indulgence and restrictedness), are fully in evidence on Led Zeppelin’s debut album.

In their willingness to waste their considerable talent on unworthy material the Zeppelin has produced an album which is sadly reminiscent of Truth. Like the Beck group they are also perfectly willing to make themselves a two- (or, more accurately, one-a-half) man show. It would seem that, if they’re to help fill the void created by the demise of Cream, they will have to find a producer (and editor) and some material worthy of their collective attention.”

The album is hard-hitting as it is fused Rock and Blues…it was very heavy and had a great sonic quality…

Tracklist

Good Times Bad Times
Babe I’m Gonna Leave You
You Shook Me
Dazed And Confused
Your Time Is Gonna Come
Black Mountain Side
Communication Breakdown
I Can’t Quit You Baby
How Many More Times

John Lennon – Rock and Roll Album

This album originated because of a lawsuit against John Lennon. On ‘Come Together’, John sings, “Here come old flattop”, a line that was originally in Chuck Berry’s 1956 hit, ‘You Can’t Catch Me’. When it was used, music publisher Morris Levy filed a lawsuit for copyright infringement against John.

To settle out of court John agreed to cover three songs that Morris Levy had publishing rights on. John started to work on this when he separated from Yoko in the early seventies. John picked songs that influenced him before the Beatles.

Phil Spector agreed to produce the album and the album started in October of 1973.  The sessions dragged on. Phil Spector, as he often does, acted erratically during the sessions which included shooting a gun through the studio ceiling… Phil then disappeared with the tapes. Lennon could not get the tapes back. After that Spector was involved in a car wreck in March of 74 and was in a coma.

This should have been an easy thing to do… record some covers right? No, John couldn’t get the tapes back so he started on an album of mostly original material called Walls and Bridges which would include the #1 hit “Whatever Gets You Thru the Night.” He would come back to the covers album afterward.

Now Lennon was getting sued by Levy because Levy already expected the Rock and Roll album to be out. Lennon explained what was going on and John did record one of the three songs on Walls and Bridges called Ya Ya with his son Julian.

John finally got the tapes back from Spector and started the album with the same musicians. He gave Levy some demos to show him the progress that was being made…Levy turns around and has the demos pressed and released them as a record called “Roots: John Lennon Sings the Great Rock & Roll Hits.” They were sold on TV for 3 days before EMI filed an injunction and stopped the record.

Lennon_Roots.jpg

Lennon then finished the real album in 5 days with John himself producing. It was released in February 1975. Only four songs are used on the album that was produced with Spector. I will say this about the record. This isn’t just some star singing old hits…you can tell John loved the songs and treated all of them with reverence.

The album made it to #6 in the Billboard 200, #6 in the UK, and #5 in Canada. Stand By Me made it to #20 in the Billboard 100. John Lennon did not make another album until Double Fantasy in 1980.

The cover features a young John Lennon while in Hamburg.

I’m taking nothing away from the Ben E King’s version of Stand By Me because I love it… but for me, this is my go-to version. Lennon’s voice cuts through the song like a knife.