Classic Album Reviews
Here we review some of our favorite classic albums of the past.
Cheap Trick – at Budokan (1979) CD review It’s one of the strangest stories in rock: Cheap Trick, a band with minimal success in the US, travels to Japan to be greeted with Beatlemania-like pandemonium. But, where the Beatles were never able to properly capture that live experience, at Budokan is brimming with excitement and shows a band at the top of their game. The screaming fans threaten to drown out the music at many points, yet it’s that enthusiasm, coupled with a go-for-broke attitude from the band that oozes from every song.
REM – Murmur (1983) 1983 was the height of MTV and New Wave synth pop: Duran Duran, Michael Jackson and the Eurythmics were dominating the charts. While all those bands now sound dated, Murmur, released at the same time, is timeless. Full of jangly guitars, warm melodies and unintelligible lyrics, it was the complete opposite of the slick music passing for pop at the time.
Rolling Stones – Some Girls (1978) CD review - The Stones were looked at as old farts by the mid-Seventies. Their last effort, Black and Blue, was a bloated mess, and new musical styles were popping up everywhere. On one side, disco was beckoning people to party on the dance floor, while on the opposite end, punk was tossing aside the old guard and getting back to basics. Somehow, Some Girls manages to take elements of both new trends, yet still sound like the Stones.
Classic Album – Van Halen – 3 (1998) This is, without a doubt, the biggest misstep in the history of rock n’ roll; a proverbial flaming turd -- one which the band has never fully recovered from. And, it sounds just as bad today as it did back then. Van Halen had successfully replaced one lead singer already in the flamboyant egomaniac David Lee Roth, so the band thought they could easily do it again with Sammy Hagar. Boy, were they ever wrong.
The Who – Sell Out (1967) CD review – The Who’s career began with singles - loud and ferocious, like “My Generation,” then morphed into brainier territory with 1969’s rock opera “Tommy.” In between those two distinct styles comes Sell Out; still, the most fun the band ever had on record. Their third album, Sell Out, is an ingenious re-creation of a mid-1960’s radio show, complete with jingles and fake commercials performed by the band in between songs.
Kiss – Hotter Than Hell (Casablanca, 1974) - CD review - Hotter Than Hell? Flaming turd is more like it. This is, quite possibly, the worst-sounding album in the history of recorded music. Okay, that’s excessive, but you get the idea.
Beatles – Abbey Road (Apple) - CD review - Breaking up never sounded this good. The Beatles had just come off the worst recording experience of their lives; the grueling sessions for the Let it Be movie preserved on film the bickering and fighting that was becoming the norm for the once Fab Four. Many bands faced with similar circumstances would’ve called it quits right there. Instead, John, Paul, George & Ringo reconvened one more time to record Abbey Road, and it is quite possibly, their finest moment.
Foreigner – 4 (1982) - CD review – Foreigner’s last great album, 4, finds them in transition; they’d always used synthesizers sparingly (see “Starrider” from their debut), but now the instrument was being used to great effect. Take, for example, the excellent “Waiting For a Girl Like You”: this isn’t the typical power ballad; with its descending keyboard line, it creates a haunting mood. More recognition needs to go to chief writer, guitarist Mick Jones, who crafted some of the greatest rock songs of all time.
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