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Thread: A young'uns guide to purusing extensive artist discographies

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    The Encyclopedia bmack86's Avatar
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    Default Re: A young'uns guide to purusing extensive artist discographies

    So, nobody has done Sleater-Kinney? How is that still possible?

    Edit: In other news, I'll have an update for this thread in the next day or two.
    Last edited by bmack86; 06-12-2012 at 10:14 PM.
    Quote Originally Posted by canexplain View Post
    Remember Hitler? I don't but here we are again .. cr****

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    DJ SallyBear sbessiso's Avatar
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    Default Re: A young'uns guide to purusing extensive artist discographies

    Quote Originally Posted by roberto73 View Post
    Man, I wrote that a long time ago. I need to update it to include Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!!, Grinderman, and some of his soundtrack stuff. Still, glad you found it useful.
    I would give an A to all three of those releases
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    Default Re: A young'uns guide to purusing extensive artist discographies

    Black Flag

    Black Flag are remembered as one of the three original hardcore bands who defined the sound (the others being Bad Brains and Minor Threat.) While they were great at hardcore, their sound developed to include so much more, such as jazz improvisation, spoken word, heavy metal, Sabbathy sludge and some pretty embarrassing jock rock. A vast majority of their work is (unfairly) ignored by their fans, who tend to discount everything after their debut album, Damaged (or, if they are adventurous, My War.) It's a shame, since Black Flag continually challenged listeners and each other during their 11 years of existence.

    Also, you'll notice as you scroll through that they had awesome album art. Guitarist Greg Ginn's brother Raymond Pettibon (original bass player) did all the art (except for Damaged) and is a widely respected artist to this day.

    Members of Black Flag:



    The First Four Years – Grade: A (1976-1980)



    Black Flag started as Panic in 1976. This is a compilation of their recorded work from the first four years of their existence. It shows them at their most basic, raw and insane. Keith Morris was their first singer, and while he only appears on the first four songs (The Nervous Breakdown 7”), he basically wrote the book for hardcore punk. Nervous Breakdown is perhaps their quintessential track, a Ramones-at-double speed riff with Morris ranting over the top, a noise solo and great rhythm backing. When I first heard this song, I just went nuts, and to this day I can’t help but thrash about and scream along whenever I hear it. It’s just visceral fun. They blast through all four songs in about 5 minutes, and they don’t waste a note. The essential hardcore document. After that, they started recording an EP, only to have Morris take off and steal one of their songs for his new band, the Circle Jerks, first album. The band re-recorded the next five tracks (Jealous Again EP) with Ron Reyes of Redd Kross on vocals. Jealous Again, Revenge and No Values are every bit as pummeling and intense as anything on Nervous Breakdown. White Minority is kind of ridiculous in retrospect, and You Bet We’ve Got Something Personal Against You is a rip on Keith Morris that has some impressively bad vocals. 11-13 (Six Pack 7”) is the next step. Six Pack has an incredibly awesome bass intro, and Dez Cadena is funny and crazy at once on the vocals. I’ve Heard it Before and American Waste are of a piece, two crazy belters. The Louie Louie EP was the second recording of this lineup, and Dez really goes nuts on Damaged. Many people would say this is the essential document of Black Flag. It’s certainly a peak in their catalog and just a great time. Plus, the songs are so short you won’t waste much time listening to it.

    Damaged – Grade: A+ (1980)



    Henry Rollins is an icon in the underground rock scene now, and this is where that really started. He replaced Dez on vocals after a brief audition in New York. He flew out to California at 18 and soon after recorded Damaged. He’s hungry and also insane on the album, delivering Ginn’s lyrics with force. Dez Cadena moved to rhythm guitar, which allowed Greg Ginn to free up his playing and really explode. This album is so full of noise and fuzz, it’s incredible. If you like grit, this is the place to find it. Fortunately, behind the great sound is a pack of fantastic songs. They redo Six Pack to killer effect, with Rollins really playing up the humor, and his take on Damaged is intense and a tad bit disturbing. Rise Above is one of the quintessential hardcore punk tracks, and can get the nerdiest kid flailing. They throw slogans at you left and right: Spray paint the walls. They hate us, we hate them, we can’t win. Try to stop us, it’s no use. Left and right, these songs hit their mark, because they deliver them with an intensity as well as a looseness and, at times (TV Party, an immortal) a sense of humor. Hardcore Punk at its finest, and Greg Ginn at his most compressed and frenetic.

    Everything Went Black – Grade: B+ (1982)



    Damaged was going to be distributed through a major label, but they weren’t exactly stoked on the lyrics or anger presented on the album, so that led to a two and a half year legal dispute that kept new Black Flag material from being released. They kept touring and playing new stuff, with both Dez Cadena and bassist/longest member besides Ginn Chuck Dukowski leaving the band to focus on other work. Since they couldn’t release anything under their own name, they put out this compilation of old songs (Jealous Again EP to Damaged era) with different singers doing the material. That means you get to hear Keith Morris (doing 9 songs, which is a trove for those who find him to be the best Black Flag singer) , Ron Reyes and Dez Cadena singing the stuff that we mostly know as Rollins material. The quality is up to par with everything else they did at the time, so it really comes across as alternate universe versions of some of their best songs. Keith Morris turns in spectacular versions of No Values, White Minority and does I Don’t Care, the song he wrote and took to The Circle Jerks. Dez Cadena shows that he could have been an able singer for a full album, turning in nothing but scorching vocal takes. These recordings are also different in that Ginn is the only guitar player, so the sound is thinner and less cluttered than on Damaged (not NECESSARILY a good thing, since the claustrophobia on that album was one of its selling points.) The biggest complaint against this is that some songs are repeated (THREE versions of Gimmie Gimmie Gimmie and Depression.) Still it’s a really awesome compilation showing how great these singers were, and how great these songs are.

    The Complete 1982 Demos – Grade: A+ (1982)



    And this is why I love doing these reviews. Despite the fact that Black Flag couldn’t release new music during the legal dispute, they were still writing and recording stuff. It’s one of the great shames that the lineup of Rollins, Ginn, Dukowski, Cadena and Chuck Biscuits on drums never had an official release. I’d always heard that, and after listening to the 1982 demos, it’s pretty clear that this was Black Flag at their peak. These demos contain much of the best material from the forthcoming trio of albums they released in 1984, only before Chuck Dukowski and Dez Cadena left, leaving them short a rhythm guitar and a strong bassist. The material here, while obviously of demo quality, is ungodly loud, full of driving rhythms and forceful playing, but with the rhythm section so much more in tune Ginn and Rollins were free to explore their strengths in ways they wouldn’t on record again until In My Head. The first two songs never received official release, and they alone are worth the listen: huge, metallic, pummeling prime Black Flag tracks with the propulsion of the early Flag and the sludge and freedom that they were just starting to develop. Every song that was later represented on an album sounds better here, but in particular the recording of Nothing Left Inside/The Scream would have wiped the floor with those who complained that slow, droney Black Flag sucked. I had not heard this before, and it’s essential: the best document of the metallic Black Flag I’ve heard, it’s huge.

    My War – Grade: A- (1984)



    A profoundly different Black Flag than we’ve heard before, in almost every way. Only Rollins and Ginn are still around from the early lineup, with Bill Stevenson of the Descendants on drums and “Dale Nixon” (really Greg Ginn) on Bass. Without Dez Cadena and Chuck Dukowski filling the rhythm section, these songs could have suffered from sounding too thin. Instead, they decided to slow down and sludge out. Ginn was a noted Black Sabbath fan, and their influence was never more clear than on the second half of My War. The title track is one of the band’s all time greats, a huge punk song with Rollins showing off his increased vocal control. Ginn is a stronger guitar player here, but you can’t help but miss the rhythm section when he solos. Still, I love every song on this album and think it’s one of the best Black Flag releases. Can’t Decide and Beat My Head Against the Wall both have killer riffs and Rollins delivers the pissed off lyrics to a T. He and Ginn were, by this time, a finely oiled machine and they work in perfect tandem throughout the record. The second half is likely what REALLY pissed people off at the time. It consists of three slow, Sabbathy dirge jams that sound more metal and sludgy than any hardcore punk at the time. You can definitely hear the Melvins and early Soundgarden in the thick fuzz and screamed vocals. Don’t listen to the hardcore kids at the time: this one’s a beast, even if it’s not quite as good as Damaged (or, apparently as good as it could have been, given the 1982 demos.)

    Family Man – Grade: B (1984)



    Hoo, and if you think My War pissed people off, imagine what this did. The first half is spoken word from Rollins, the second half is instrumental jams with Ginn and Stevenson, and the introduction of Kira Roessler on bass (sister of Paul Roessler from the Screamers, and later Mike Watt’s wife.) Rollins’ side is full of lyrical slams on society and descriptions of hatred and violence. If you like Rollins in spoken word form, this stuff is pretty damn entertaining: he has great delivery and keeps a good rhythm and pace throughout. It’s not essential, but certainly fun. The instrumentals on the B-Side show why Ginn chose to keep the more spare guitar-bass-drum lineup: his increased focus on jazz playing led him to more expansive jams with the band. These tracks are driving and hard, but are neither fully punk nor jazz. I enjoy them even though they’re kind of noodly and long, because Ginn has a great way with guitar sounds and really can play. The one track that they do together, Armageddon Man, is a long track with Rollins, uncharacteristically clear in the mix, going on what basically amounts to a spoken word excursion as the band jams behind him, tying the two sides together. None of this stuff is essential, and it will likely put off most people who would enjoy the regular Black Flag recordings, but I’m a fan of this one. It’s a bizarre release that is fun for its oddity, and that has some really entertaining and engaging performances.

    Slip It In – Grade: C (1984)



    I always remember this one fondly for the first three songs. Each one of them is an absolute beast, with Black Coffee sporting some of the best performances from both Ginn and Rollins. The riff is like a heavy blues, Ginn gets a great noise solo halfway thru and Rollins is just rant heavy. Slip it In is them being somewhat goofy, and also shows Ginn’s increasing lyrical fascination with calling out sluts. Wound Up is a high energy blast. But oh god is Rats Eyes terrible. Just absolute dreck, slow and droning and without any motion; it’s how critics described My War. The instrumental is fun and rockin’, but forgettable. The songs are all definitely a further step away from early Black Flag hardcore into a slower, more metal grind. The Bars pulls this sound off really well, with some great screams from Rollins, and My Ghetto shows how crazy Bill Stevenson could be on drums. Whereas My War sounded like a fresh take on their ideas, Slip it In just sounds like a refinement of the ideas on that album. At the time people absolutely hated this stuff, but it’s aged really well and sounds like the forerunner to lots of late 80s/early 90s grunge/punk. As a whole, Slip It In is better than most people give it credit for, but the back half isn’t terribly memorable and Rats Eyes is just terrible. Lesser Flag.

    Live ’84 – Grade: B (1984)



    The first live Black Flag record, and it’s got a killer, very representative setlist. They play songs from all eras and every aspect of their career, starting out with a lengthy instrumental jam (of which you can read more about in the following review.) This is the only place I’ve found where you can hear Rollins rip into Nervous Breakdown and Fix Me: sure, Keith Morris did it better, but they were so brutally focused live at this point that you can’t help but be impressed. The CD copy I had of this album had horrible sound, but the recent download I just did is much improved, even though Rollins vocals can be pretty low in the mix on some songs. If you can find the decent sounding copy of this, it’s a really impressive live recording. That said, it does not give as strong an image of the band as their later live release, Who’s Got the 10 , which shows them at their demented, locked in peak. Here, they are strong, but they were only getting stronger.

    The Process of Weeding Out ep – Grade: B (1985)



    The first song starts with a very 70s-era Miles Davis bassline. Yup, Ginn is definitely in jazz mode here. Whereas the instrumentals on Family Man were definitely the sound of a new band gelling with each other, here they are a force. Kira’s bass playing is huge, Ginn is even more in control of his guitar chaos, and Bill show’s restraint on the drums. It’s an instrumental jazz-punk EP with two songs over 9 minutes. Basically, you know just by reading that whether or not you’re going to care. If you do, this is the best of this stuff they ever did. Rare form, and great jams. The title track in particular is a showcase for Ginn at his best, with notes flying everywhere, sounding chaotic and completely random. If you think that’s the case though, check back to Live ’84: they open with this song and Ginn nails so much of the guitar work live that there’s no way this isn’t composed. Killer stuff.

    Loose Nut – Grade: B+ (1985)



    My War moved them towards sludgy, Sabbathy metal and Slip it In sounded like some fairly bad heavy rock. Loose Nut moves more concretely into the punk/metal field, with the band finally having a firm control over the sound. The title track opens the album, and it’s a bright and well-produced pummeler of a rock tune, with some killer riffing from Ginn. Modern Man would have fit in well on the first half of My War, albeit with better sound and a more interesting rhythm section. Annihilate This Week is the highlight of their post-Hardcore songs, despite the third verse’s embarrassingly misogynistic lyrics. To be honest, that’s the only complaint about this one: the instrumentals are excellent and heavy, Rollins is more in control of his vocals than ever, but Ginn wrote a crappy set of lyrics. Because the album is better produced and mixed, that’s more obvious, but it doesn’t much lessen the power of the album. This is one of their better works, and probably the easiest entry point into later Black Flag.

    In My Head – Grade: A+ (1985)



    I just read an interview with Kira Roessler, who said that this was originally supposed to be an instrumental album, and that Rollins hopped in and wrote lyrics on the fly as they played. The combination of the experimental, jazz-leaning Black Flag and the hard-rocking, Rollins-fronted group had only existed on live albums before, and only side-by-side. Here, on their final record, they brought together all of the strands they had chased down after abandoning straight hardcore. Unlike before, Ginn’s solos segue into melodic guitar lines that become guitar riffs that transition fluidly into choruses: everything seems organic and alive. The band is playing at the peak of their powers (Kira would be booted out of the group soon after because her schedule at UCLA got in the way of touring, and the band fell apart soon after) and they have the strongest batch of songs they’ve worked with since at least My War, if not Damaged. The title track is an astounding meld of punk intensity, jazz-style melodic improvisation and hard rock drive. Paralyzed is a monster of a rock track with some almost pretty guitar lines. Drinking and Driving and Retired at 21 are both just monstrous. One thing that stands out, and that Kira said in the aforementioned interview was a result of the original intentions for the album, is how low Rollins is in the mix: he sounds like another instrument, and it works to great effect. By this point hardly anyone was paying attention to Black Flag anymore, and they missed out on a masterful record. Their second best, and even then it’s a tight race.

    Minuteflag – Grade: D (1986)



    Not technically a Black Flag release, this is collaboration between the Minutemen and Black Flag, consisting of three instrumental jams and a track with Minutemen vocalist/guitarist D. Boon singing. Fetch the Water, the vocal song, is goofy and laid back, completely away from Flag’s music but sounding similar to something off Three Way Tie (For Last) by the Minutemen, if not as good. The first instrumental goes absolutely nowhere, but you can hear Mike Watt, the Minutemen’s bass player (and Kira’s soon-to-be husband) funking up the proceedings on the second track. However, none of the instrumentals ever really pick up or take off, and while it’s cool to hear these guys play together and I’m sure it was fun to record, the EP is a chore to listen to. As a whole, it’s fun enough, but a complete throwaway and my least favorite release by either act.

    Who’s Got the 10 ? – Grade: B+ (1986)



    This is a recording of the Kira-era band in 1985, after they had toured relentlessly and become a collective performing unit. While this show sounds miles away from their beginnings, it shows that they were an absolute force of nature live, careening through their songs with equal parts precision and abandon. The recording is a bit lo-fi (but that’s completely to be expected) but they really tear through the whole set, shifting seamlessly between songs and jams. The lengthy interpretation of Slip it In into Gimme Gimme Gimme is the best thing on the album, with a lengthy rant from Rollins that gives the album its title. Black Flag never got big, but they did sound huge, and this is a great document of them not long before their final demise.
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    Quote Originally Posted by canexplain View Post
    Remember Hitler? I don't but here we are again .. cr****

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    Coachella Junkie Drinkey McDrinkerstein's Avatar
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    Default Re: A young'uns guide to purusing extensive artist discographies

    Thanks for that Bryan. i don't think i even knew about a lot of those releases.
    last.fm
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    9/12-14/14 Riotfest - Humboldt Park, Chicago, IL // 9/18/14 Neutral Milk Hotel - Hollywood Bowl

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    Default Re: A young'uns guide to purusing extensive artist discographies

    Holy moly! Fantastic work, B.
    9/21 - Caetano Veloso - Hollywood Bowl
    9/26 - William Basinski - Pasadena Arts Council
    9/28 - Bob Mould - Roxy (?)
    10/01 - King Crimson - Orpheum
    10/10 - Thurston Moore/Sebadoh - Echoplex (?)


    Quote Originally Posted by getbetter View Post
    I finally made it through a listen of Sun Kil Moon - Benji and had put it on maybe 4 times til I could finally feel mentally like, "just fuck it just let this guy blabber on" while I'm doing paperwork .
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    Default Re: A young'uns guide to purusing extensive artist discographies

    Quote Originally Posted by sydaud View Post
    8. Project: Mersh EP (1985)---At this point the Minutemen appeared to be attempting to make "real" records. No more minute (or two) minute long songs. For some reason, this album reminds me (minus the trumpets) of their labelmates the Meat Puppets. It's not like anything they'd ever recorded and after all this time I can't figure out if it's for the better. "The Cheerleaders" and "King Of The Hill" sound like attempts to actually get on the radio, but this is not where this music was ever meant to be heard. I've always really liked "Take Our Test". B+

    9. 3-Way Tie (For Last) (1985)--Their last album before d. boons death in December 1985. By this time the band was recording very polished material in hopes of.....well, I am not sure what they were hoping for. This is a very political album, but the songs just seem to "done". Probably the least essential Minutmen album, certainly a document of a band in transition but a transition that was never able to see the light of day. "Ack Ack Ack" still fucking rules though... B-
    I would, at very least, switch these scores. The more I listen to 3-Way Tie, though, the more I think it's my second favorite Minutemen release. I liked them with melody.
    Quote Originally Posted by canexplain View Post
    Remember Hitler? I don't but here we are again .. cr****

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    Member zircona1's Avatar
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    Default Re: A young'uns guide to purusing extensive artist discographies

    Nice job! My library has a bunch of Black Flag albums that I always pass over, I might have to check a few of them out now.
    We're here to play some Mississippi Delta Blues. We're in a horrible depression, and I gotta admit - we're starting to like it.

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    Default Re: A young'uns guide to purusing extensive artist discographies

    If you've already listened to them, go to In My Head. It's such a great album, and so few people have listened to it.
    Quote Originally Posted by canexplain View Post
    Remember Hitler? I don't but here we are again .. cr****

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    Default Re: A young'uns guide to purusing extensive artist discographies

    Yes! Thanks Bryan! Gonna study this tomorrow when I'm not on my phone.

    I really hope to get a Prince write up finished sometime this summer. Tall order tho.

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    The Encyclopedia bmack86's Avatar
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    Default Re: A young'uns guide to purusing extensive artist discographies

    Expect another update soon. One bonus to bar study is I listen to a ton of music.
    Quote Originally Posted by canexplain View Post
    Remember Hitler? I don't but here we are again .. cr****

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    Default Re: A young'uns guide to purusing extensive artist discographies

    Frank Zappa.

    Please.

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    Never gonna happen.
    Quote Originally Posted by guedita View Post
    Thanks for giving us the opportunity to not give a fuck again.

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    Default Re: A young'uns guide to purusing extensive artist discographies

    Quote Originally Posted by SoulDischarge View Post
    I feel like I've been working on this for fucking ages on and off and since they're officially reuniting, I'm just going to post what I do have done and hope it motivates me to finish the rest soon.

    Swans


    Filth (1983)
    Swans debut is as harsh and unforgiving as anything you're likely to hear. It's like Michael Gira and company invoked all the negative feelings in all of New York City in the early 80's and distilled it into one brutal, ugly blast of grinding No Wave. As to be expected from a debut album, it shows Swans at their most primitive. There's not much in terms of musical ability, with most of the songs being comprised of repetitive plodding industrial dirges over which Gira chants and moans about power, control, self-loathing, etc. While there's not much variety here, it's still a lot less monochromatic than the releases immediately following this with a few slight touches of distortion effects (the vocals on opener "Stay Home," the strange, noisy interlude "Freak," the semi-coherent "Gang"). It's not very much fun, but it's a small masterpiece of angst and aggression. The band occasionally gets locked into something of hypnotic death grind groove that's very effective if you're in the mood for it. It's usually where I go if I'm in the mood for pre-Jarboe Swans. Tacked on to the end is the first EP recorded by the band under a previous incarnation, which sounds significantly different from Filth. These four songs have more in common with bands like the Birthday Party, and are considerably more upbeat from any other early Swans material. Worth hearing.

    B


    Cop/Young God (1984-ish, reissued together 1993)
    As bleak as Filth was, Swans found some way to make their follow up, Cop (re-released with a different running order and an EP from the same era mixed in), even more punishing. Their sound is even more stripped (and slowed) down, with Gira's more forceful vocals being brought further out in the mix. The lyrics are more of the same: lust, power, abuse, hatred. The title track pretty well sums up the mood here; Gira rambles about how "nobody rapes you like a cop" over a bass heavy dirge that makes the Melvins sound like Tiny Tim. Most of the tracks sound pretty similar, with barely even the lyrics to distinguish them. It's all played out like metal slowed down to the pace of a slug's crawl. It's pretty hard to digest, especially in one sitting, but you have to admire them for acheiving what they set out to accomplish here. Most music that tries to sound as unsettling as this tends to come off as cartoonish and over the top, but this album feels very straight faced and dedicated to its atmosphere of misery. I'm very rarely in the mood for this and most people don't have a need for music this grim and unrelenting, so I can't really recommend it, but it deserves credit for being a unique accomplishment in ugliness.

    B-


    Greed/Holy Money (1986-ish, reissued together 1993)
    This release is a combination of Swans' third and fourth albums, which work well together as a piece. While still as wretched as ever, on these albums the band lightens up just a shade. There are a few tracks that could have been on Cop, but there's just as many that sees them reaching forward to a new sense of musicality. One of the biggest changes is in the introduction of Gira's unsettling cool and calm croon that would become a distinctive trademark of the band over the next decade. Another important element added to the band around this time is female vocalist Jarboe, who served as a more gentle, although no less haunting, contrast to Gira's blunt force. There's also more diverse instrumentation than the typical guitar squeals, bass rumbles, and clanging percussion, including horns and pianos. The Jarboe sung piano ballad "Blackmail" is about the last thing you would expect to hear on a Swans album at this point, but it doesn't feel at odds with the rest of the material here. "Money is Flesh" and "A Screw" feature stabbing horn blasts that go a long way in relieving the monotony and despair of the proceedings. It's not an outright revolution of their sound, merely an opening up and expansion, but it paves the way for their future masterpieces of sinister beauty.

    B


    Children Of God (1987)
    Here's where Swans come into their own, breaking out of their No Wave inspired niche and producing one of the best albums of the 80's along the way. This is a straight up masterpiece of Gothic grandeur. There's not a weak track on here, and, unlike previous releases, there's a significant amount of diversity between the songs while still cohering into a consistent vision. These songs were meant to be heard together, in a certian order, which is what seperates a good collection of songs from a great album.

    Opening with the pounding, organ-tinged call and response chant of "New Mind" before proceeding directly into the melancholy ballad "In My Garden," the album charts a course through a menacing, tragic, gorgeous, and haunting meditation on the effects of love and religion.
    Gira has always been obsessed with power and control, so it was only a matter of time before he explored their effect on theology and romance. Despite the grim fury of much of the music, the majority of the lyrics are ambiguously neutral about their subjects, preferring to paint subtle portraits of situations and feelings and letting the listener draw their own conclusions. A good exmple of this is the stunning, strangely beautiful closer, "Children Of God." On its own, it could be taken as a straight faced hymn about the glorious redemption of God's love, but in the context of the rest of the album, it takes on an unsettling undercurren.

    The sonic approach this time around is far less abrasive, with folk elements coalescing with the harsher aspects of their sound. There are still remnants of earlier Swans ("New Mind," "Sex, God, Sex") but even these are tempered by a stronger sense of melodicism and a majestic grandiosity that suits the religious themes well. Adding to the improvement in songwriting ability is a perfectly pitched, highly affecting atmosphere of solemn awe. Jarboe's increased presence helps achieve this in no small way. On tracks like "In My Garden" and the remake of their earlier "Blackmail," she exhibits a frail tenderness that finds beauty in pain. Gira, on the other hand, sings in a seductive, low growl that's simultaneously soothing and ominous. A perfect example of his duplicitous nature is in the softly sinister "You're Not Real, Girl", where he casually informs his lover that "nothing inside you is real," especially "when you take my trust in your body." In the context of this gentler approach, the songs that do let the hell fire simmering just below the surface break loose are stronger and more powerful for it, particularly the howling damnation of "Beautiful Child," and the distorted horn laden nightmare "Like A Drug (Sha La La La)."

    This album is as good a place as any to start with Swans. From here they would mellow further, introducing an even wider range of influences, but this is the apex of their 80's output. Recommended for anyone interested in the darker depths of alternative rock.


    A+


    Feel Good Now (1988)
    This is a live official bootleg from the Children Of God tour. It features primarily material from that album. The sound quality is pretty poor. There might be some great performances on here, but the sound is so muddied it's not really worth it for anyone but the most dedicated fans.

    D


    The Burning World/Forever Burned (1989/2003)
    The Burning World is the only major label Swans album, and as that usually implies, it's probably their weakest. (Forever Burned is a compiliation that features the entirety of The Burning World with some other songs from the era added to the end). Gira has spoken about his disatisfaction with the album and attributes it to the incompatibility of their sound with the production by Bill Laswell, although the songwriting isn't at its strongest either. It's very much a transitional album. That being said, it's certainly no travesty, and has some very fine moments that point towards future greatness. It's a testament to Swans' power that their weakest album is this strong, really. This is the band at their gentlest, with a strong emphasis on the dark folk elements of their sound. Maybe a result of Laswell's influence, there's also quite a bit of world music elements being introduced here (check the drum patterns on "Mona Lisa, Mother Earth"). Some times the lighter touch makes certain songs pretty unmemorable and tame sounding, such as opener "River That Runs With Love Won't Dry" and "Saved," although they're pleasant enough to listen to while they're on. They just lack the power and dynamicism of prime Swans.

    C


    White Light From The Mouth Of Infinity (1991)
    Here Swans make yet another transition, beginning probably their most diverse, rewarding period. This incarnation of the band is far more accessible than ever before, but instead of feeling watered down, it comes off as a refinement of their sound, favoring lush, layered arrangements over brutal aggression. Starting with the cooing of a baby, opening track "Better Than You" sets the mood for the album, alternating between dramatic, roaring grandiosity and more restrained acoustic passages before finally drifting out on a majestic wave of ethereal chants of the title courtesey of Jarboe, ringing guitar strums, and bells. The rest of the album continues in this vein, contrasting quiet, introspective moments with cinematic soaring blasts of sound pouring out like the white light of the album's title. The albums finds the beauty in themes such as failure, lies, betrayal, and existential uncertainty and, as always, the darkness behind power and love. Despite some very powerful moments, there's an inconsistency here that prevents the album from quite achieving greatness. Certain songs hit exactly all the right notes ("Love Will Save You," "Failure," "Miracle Of Love") while others ("We Will Survive," "Song For The Sun") don't quite meet the promise of their ambitions. There's also a feeling of the band trying the same tricks too many times so that some of the songs feel somewhat indistinguishable from one another. But even these near missteps have enough interesting ideas to recommend them, and overall this marks a large step forward in the development of the band's sound.

    B+


    Love Of Life (1992)
    Love Of Life continues to explore the sound laid down on White Light From The Mouth Of Infinity, although not quite as memorably as that album. In fact, it almost sounds as if it could be a collection of outtakes and spare tracks from that album than a cohesive self contained album. Out of seventeen tracks, six are short instrumental interludes, although they don't really improve the flow of the album as a whole. The main problem is there's too many songs that are content to plod along moodily without really going anywhere. Additionally, they begin to incorporate the sound found aesthetic which they would perfect on Soundtracks For The Blind, but doesn't quite gel here. A perfect example of this is on "Her," a track that alternately lilts and rages before being overtaken by a sample of some dippy hippie chick that gets more annoying on every listen. When the band does find focus here, though, the songs are up to their usual standard, especially on the leading title track and "Amnesia." Overall, though, this album ranks with The Burning World as their least essential work. Devoted fans will want to hear this eventually, but newcomers should start elsewhere.

    C


    The Great Annihilator (1995)
    After several albums exploring their more subdued side, Swans return with their second masterpiece, incorporating the moody folk-tinged atmospherics of their previous few releases with a ferocity not heard since Children Of God. After a howling instrumental intro, the album announces itself with the raging "I Am The Sun," pairing some of Gira's most haunting lyrics delivered with a disaffected deadpan demeanor with children's chants and pummeling percussion. From there, the band vigorously tears through what is probably their strongest set of songs, each with its own distinct atmosphere and cohering into a whole that is substantially more than the sum of its individual parts. Most of the tracks are buried in a wall of sound, similar to much of shoegaze, although there is more forward drive and less narcotized drifting than any shoegaze record. Most tracks strike a balance between a mournful haze and raging ferociousness, drawing from both the rhythmic harshness of their early work and the lilting gothic beauty of their early 90s material. About the only problem with this album is that it's a little too heavily front loaded. The first half is absolutely perfect, containing some of the best songs of their career: the aforementioned "I Am The Sun," the predatory "She Lives!,"
    the shimmering meloncholy of "Blood Promise," and the soaring "Mind/Body/Light/Sound." The second half is a somewhat more subdued affair, although it still contains it's fair share of impressive moments, and none of the tracks could be considered weak. Due to this slight unevenness, I'd say this album ranks just behind Children Of God, but it's a masterpiece in its own right and a great introduction to the world of Swans.

    A

    To be continued . . .
    To be continued....
    Quote Originally Posted by canexplain View Post
    Remember Hitler? I don't but here we are again .. cr****

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    Default Re: A young'uns guide to purusing extensive artist discographies

    Quote Originally Posted by bmack86 View Post
    Expect another update soon. One bonus to bar study is I listen to a ton of music.
    Soon...
    Quote Originally Posted by efrain44 View Post
    Anyone know who the guy in the Cardinals jersey is? I've seen him in pictures on the board and I thought I saw him this year.

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    Default Re: A young'uns guide to purusing extensive artist discographies

    To be fair, I was going to post that awhile back then someone posted that they were finishing their reviews of the same artist and I recalled the issue with you, Greg and Bob Dylan. It's been long enough, I might as well finish that set of reviews and post it.
    Quote Originally Posted by canexplain View Post
    Remember Hitler? I don't but here we are again .. cr****

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    There was no issue with me, Greg, and Bob Dylan.
    Quote Originally Posted by efrain44 View Post
    Anyone know who the guy in the Cardinals jersey is? I've seen him in pictures on the board and I thought I saw him this year.

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    Default Re: A young'uns guide to purusing extensive artist discographies

    If I start finishing the things I start, it's going to lead to a total identity crisis.

    I thought about doing a guide to the Fabric mixes (excluding Fabriclive), but that would be a pretty massive undertaking considering they're getting close to 70 now.
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    Thanks for giving us the opportunity to not give a fuck again.

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    Default Re: A young'uns guide to purusing extensive artist discographies

    Quote Originally Posted by SoulDischarge View Post
    If I start finishing the things I start, it's going to lead to a total identity crisis.

    I thought about doing a guide to the Fabric mixes (excluding Fabriclive), but that would be a pretty massive undertaking considering they're getting close to 70 now.
    I would be interested in a top 10-15 with commentary

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    Default Re: A young'uns guide to purusing extensive artist discographies

    Quote Originally Posted by ods.. View Post
    I would be interested in a top 10-15 with commentary
    For sure. Doesn't even have to be a lengthy commentary.
    9/21 - Caetano Veloso - Hollywood Bowl
    9/26 - William Basinski - Pasadena Arts Council
    9/28 - Bob Mould - Roxy (?)
    10/01 - King Crimson - Orpheum
    10/10 - Thurston Moore/Sebadoh - Echoplex (?)


    Quote Originally Posted by getbetter View Post
    I finally made it through a listen of Sun Kil Moon - Benji and had put it on maybe 4 times til I could finally feel mentally like, "just fuck it just let this guy blabber on" while I'm doing paperwork .
    last.fm, if you care

    Twitter, if you dare

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    Default Re: A young'uns guide to purusing extensive artist discographies

    Quote Originally Posted by TomAz View Post
    There was no issue with me, Greg, and Bob Dylan.
    I was misremembering. It was Springsteen. Regardless, I have one review to complete, which I'll do tomorrow. To be continued.
    Quote Originally Posted by canexplain View Post
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    Default Re: A young'uns guide to purusing extensive artist discographies

    Sleater-Kinney



    Sleater-Kinney (1995) – Grade: B-



    Corin Tucker was guitarist in one of the seminal riot-grrl acts, Heavens to Betsy. Carrie Brownstein saw them perform, was inspired, and started her own band Excuse 17. They started Sleater-Kinney (named after an off-ramp in Portland near their practice space) as a side project for those two bands, both playing guitar and singing. They toured Australia not long after forming and found Lora McFarlane down there, adding her as drums. This album was recorded shortly after they got together, and reflects their roots in the Riot-Grrls scene. At this point the band was a side project for two relatively successful underground bands, but they both brought their a-game for their first record together. Their punk leaning is obvious here: more often than not, Corin is screaming rather than singing, and she plays fast, distorted riffs as Carrie lays angular guitar melodies over the top. However, songs like The Day I Went Away and Her Again point to their ability to mix fantastically catchy vocal melodies, interesting guitar tracks and huge choruses. And they aren’t all hard rock and screaming; with a winking nod, they pull of two pretty ones in a row, the first called Slow Song. The production on this is pretty thin and the drums mostly hide in the back, and the vocals sometimes get warbly and rough when they aren’t screaming. And it’s also far and away their shortest album, at 22:45. It blasts past in a rush, and you’ll wanna toss it back on. A promising start.

    Call the Doctor (1996) – Grade: A+



    I wrote three different, unrelated reviews for this one because it’s such a formative album for me:
    The jump between the first album and this is huge. Right away, the interlocking guitars do more than a regular rhythm/lead configuration, taking cues from Wire, Gang of Four and even Iron Maiden in their assault. Carrie’s vocals soar and the chorus so urgent and driving. Corin’s turn on Hubcap is equally stunning, a tense and rhythmic verse leading into a Pixies-on-steroids chorus that could have been a hit on alternative radio when it was released. For both Corin and Carrie, the band was now their main concern, as both Heavens to Betsy and Excuse 17 had broken up recently. Lora flew in from Australia and they recorded this one quickly, but the sound is much improved and everyone turns in a stronger performance. There isn’t a bad song on it, and it deserves to be recognized as one of the strongest punk albums of the 90s.
    If Sleater-Kinney had an anthem, it would be I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone. On it, Corin screams that she wants to be your Joey Ramone, your Thurston Moore: your badass rock god. They always toyed with the idea of gender, and one reason Sleater-Kinney always stood out so far above the rest of their peers is they weren’t a great riot-grrl band or a great feminist band, or a great punk band: they were just a great band, and they played like rock stars. The chorus to the song is in league with some of the Ramones catchiest tunes, and the guitars are filthy and booming. It also showed that Carrie could write ‘em just as well as Corin, and sing just as convincingly.
    In fall of 2002, my family took a trip from Bishop down to Lancaster, home of crackheads, desert rats and Frank Zappa. My brother was playing in the High Desert little league playoffs. Since Bishop is such a small town, I always took advantage of a trip to any area with a population above 10,000 to check a Best Buy or record store for something to listen to. I had recently fallen for Fugazi, and some random review reading tipped me to the fact that I should probably listen to Sleater-Kinney. Best Buy only had this album, and it was 7.99, so I couldn’t pass it up. As we drove towards the baseball fields, I put the disc into the new CD player I’d earned laying rock for my dad all summer. I put on the headphones and let it rip. I sat in the back of the air condition, yet sweltering, car and let the songs blast through me. I had not yet heard X-Ray Spex or Bikini Kill or even the better Jefferson Starship stuff: my idea of female rock musicians at the time was Alanis Morrissette. These ladies blew me away. I bought three other CDs that day, but I didn’t listen to them at all during the late night, four hour drive home. Sleater-Kinney had me hooked.
    Get this album.

    Dig Me Out (1997) – Grade: A+



    Eight seconds into the opening, titular track, it becomes obvious that this is a different Sleater-Kinney. The ringing guitar that introduces the song and album is already more complex than anything from the previous two releases, but the drums come in and things go to another level. Ladies and gentlemen, meet Janet Weiss, the third core member of Sleater-Kinney, drummer extraordinaire. The drumming on Call the Doctor was good, but Weiss is a masterful beater of the skins; she finds unique rhythms, provides excellent backing vocals and can both hit like Bonham and skitter and strut like Tony Allen. The songwriting has only gotten tighter in the interim year. The second track, One More Hour, shows how far they’d come in such a short time: it’s not quite a ballad, definitely not a rocker, but completely captivating and driving, driven by a grinding rhythm guitar and a chiming lead, and a caterwauling vocal take by Corin. It’s also a nuanced love song, something you don’t get too often.

    The Hot Rock (1999) – Grade: B



    The first two songs will cue you in: Sleater-Kinney are working hard to keep from being pigeonholed. The Hot Rock kicks off with two songs in a row that don’t feature loud guitars, screams, pummelling drums or charging rhythms. Instead, they give you chiming sounds, prettily sung tracks and a foreboding sense of darkness. The Hot Rock is, on its face, a minor key lament, but there’s an urgency to the delivery that makes it much more haunting. A song like Burn, Don’t Freeze! would have, only two years prior, been an explosive launch into a screaming stratosphere, but here the band keeps restraint and works on a grinding groove and clean guitar tones that really benefit from the more muted sound. The songwriting shows more nuance as well, but I can’t help but miss the brash, in your face Sleater-Kinney of the previous releases. A good album to be sure, but also an anomaly in their career for it’s calmness and clean tones.

    All Hands on the Bad One (2000) – Grade: A-



    By this point they’ve almost got a formula: intertwined guitars, vocal harmonies behind Corin’s screams. They are a much tighter band at this point, and they rock harder than they did on the Hot Rock. Ballad of a Ladyman starts out with a similar melodic intro that suggests the calmer previous material, but it builds into an epic pop-rock song with some soaring guitar and vocals. All Hands on the Bad One is the highlight of the first half of the album. It has a really taut groove and the vocals never get to the throat shredding level of the past. There is so much tension, yet the song is energetic and almost danceable. Just fantastic. They don’t stay quite at this level throughout though, as Youth Decay and #1 Must Have are a bit unmemorable. However, most of the second side continues the huge sound from Dig Me Out to great effect. Both Youth Decay and Leave You Behind capture them in nice, twee-with-umph mode, delivering sweet indie pop goodness. Another highly enjoyable album.

    One Beat (2002) – Grade: A



    Combat Rock was the best response to 9/11 that a band put out in its immediate aftermath. Whereas most bands avoided political statements (Bruce Springsteen put out the Rising, Neil Young had his song that advocated swift justice and I’m sure someone else was out there, but it wasn’t common) but Corin and Carrie made their most overt observations in connection with 9/11. Check these lyrics out (I was going to pull out a quote, but they’re too astute, so this’ll be a long one:

    They tell us there are only two sides to be on
    If you are on our side you’re right if not you’re wrong
    But are we innocent, paragons of good?
    Is our guilt erased by the pain that we’ve endured?
    Hey look it's time to pledge allegiance
    Oh god I love my dirty Uncle Sam
    Our country's marching to the beat now
    And we must learn to step in time
    Where is the questioning where is the protest song?
    Since when is skepticism un-American?
    Dissent’s not treason but they talk like it’s the same
    Those who disagree are afraid to show their face
    Let's break out our old machines now
    It sure is good to see them run again
    Oh gentlemen start your engines
    And we know where we get the oil from
    Are you feeling alright now
    Paint myself all red white blue
    Are you singing let's fight now
    Innocent people die, uh oh
    There are reasons to unite
    Is this why we unite?
    If you hate this time
    Remember we are the time!
    Show you love your country go out and spend some cash
    Red white blue hot pants doing it for Uncle Sam
    Flex our muscles show them we’re stronger than the rest
    Raise your hands up baby are you sure that we’re the best?
    We'll come out with our fists raised
    The good old boys are back on top again
    And if we let them lead us blindly
    The past becomes the future once again

    They question, they struggle with other people’s complacency, and they do it in a great rock song. This album is full of these juxtapositions. In addition to fantastic lyrics (also check Far Away for another strong protest song) they took some serious steps to broaden their sound. There are keyboards on a few tracks, a horn section on Step Aside, Sympathy is the bluesiest they ever got, and Janet Weiss’ backing vocals are more prevalent and varied. The guitars aren’t as blunted and sharp as All Hands, but that task is ably covered by the vocals and the aforementioned lyrics. They cover the rockers, the ragers, quieter songs and new landscapes in a complete and excellent way: this is the most representative Sleater-Kinney album.

    The Woods (2005) – Grade: A+



    They toured with Pearl Jam after One Beat, and playing in stadiums inspired them to write songs that hit the seats in the back. They recorded outside of the pacific northwest for the first time, holing up in Woodstock with the Flaming Lips favored producer. Oh, and they jumped ship from Kill Rock Stars, their label for nearly 10 years, to put the new one out on Sub Pop. With this much change and ambition, the Woods had potential to be a flop, a failed experiment. But, if every review above didn’t already tip you off, Sleater-Kinney were too good to fail. The Woods is their hardest, heaviest and loudest album, and a strong contender for their best. The Fox opens things with a howl, a wicked burst of distortion and overdriven drums. It’s a sonic litmus test: we’re loud, and if you don’t like this, you can leave now. The pure noise isn’t carried over to the rest of the record, but the sonic maximalism definitely is; they sound huge. Wilderness and What’s Mine Is Yours take the dual guitar attack from Dig it Out and All Hands and pushes it further than ever. They are more intricate in their back and forth, and when Corin howls on this one, she lights it up. Carrie gets more and better guitar solos here than at any other point in their career. The breakdown in What’s Mine is Yours reminds me of Whole Lotta Love’s solo, in that it’s dark, discordant, eerie and completely great. Janet gets her first lead vocal on Modern Girl (another overdriven track, this time with tons of fuzz on top of a twee-ish pop song.) The second to last song, Lets Call it Love, is essentially an 11-minute dual guitar solo that would impress Maiden. They achieved the stadium filling sound, and coupled it with stadium-ready rock songs, some of the best of their career. Sleater-Kinney went on hiatus after the tour for this one, and if they do nothing else, this is an excellent, daring and highly enjoyable way for them to bow out. They were our Joey Ramone.
    Quote Originally Posted by canexplain View Post
    Remember Hitler? I don't but here we are again .. cr****

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    Quote Originally Posted by TomAz View Post
    I have started writing a real Van Morrison overview, but I think I'm too big of a fan to be coherent with some of his stuff.
    This and Gram Parsons please.
    Quote Originally Posted by canexplain View Post
    Remember Hitler? I don't but here we are again .. cr****

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    Default Re: A young'uns guide to purusing extensive artist discographies

    Quote Originally Posted by bmack86 View Post
    (named after an off-ramp in Portland near their practice space)
    bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    Lacey, Washington, which is a suburb of Olympia.
    Quote Originally Posted by efrain44 View Post
    Anyone know who the guy in the Cardinals jersey is? I've seen him in pictures on the board and I thought I saw him this year.

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    Default Re: A young'uns guide to purusing extensive artist discographies

    Yeah, it's off the 5 right? Definitely have passed a Sleater-Kinney exit while driving south of Seattle on the 5. I'd always assumed it had something to do with their name.
    9/21 - Caetano Veloso - Hollywood Bowl
    9/26 - William Basinski - Pasadena Arts Council
    9/28 - Bob Mould - Roxy (?)
    10/01 - King Crimson - Orpheum
    10/10 - Thurston Moore/Sebadoh - Echoplex (?)


    Quote Originally Posted by getbetter View Post
    I finally made it through a listen of Sun Kil Moon - Benji and had put it on maybe 4 times til I could finally feel mentally like, "just fuck it just let this guy blabber on" while I'm doing paperwork .
    last.fm, if you care

    Twitter, if you dare

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    Default Re: A young'uns guide to purusing extensive artist discographies

    I should listen to Call the Doctor again, it didn't grab me the first few times I listened to it.

    I completely agree with your ratings for Dig Me Out, One Beat and The Woods. All 3 are fantastic.
    We're here to play some Mississippi Delta Blues. We're in a horrible depression, and I gotta admit - we're starting to like it.

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    Default Re: A young'uns guide to purusing extensive artist discographies

    Nice work bmack!

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    Default Re: A young'uns guide to purusing extensive artist discographies

    OK Bryan here's your Gram Parsons.

    The International Submarine Band – Safe at Home


    45 years after the fact, the idea of a rock band playing country songs seems quaint and old fashioned. But in 1967, rock music and country music were on opposite sides of a rather polarized culture war. Rock music was for hippies and drug abusers, country for solid upright rural or southern Americans who wore their hair short and the clothes neat. So Parson’s idea to bring the two together was extraordinarily radical and as we know now wound up pretty influential, in both good and bad ways, on pop music for years to come. (note: to say Parsons “invented” country rock, as many do, is not quite fair; Dylan was recording John Wesley Harding in 1967 as well).

    The International Submarine Band was formed while Parsons was a freshman at Harvard, where he dropped out after a semester and the band moved first to NY and then LA. This album was recorded in 1967 and is mostly covers (Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, Merle Haggard) but does include a few Parsons originals including “Luxury Liner”, probably the best song on this record. This is a decent album but not the place to start with Parsons. Grade: B



    The Byrds – Sweetheart of the Rodeo


    Parsons left the International Submarine Band before Safe at Home was even released (note: this theme tends to repeat itself) and was recruited by Chris Hillman to join The Byrds, who were already huge rock stars with first their jangly power-pop (Turn Turn Turn) then psychedelia (Eight Miles High). Parsons steered the Byrds to country-rock and they recorded this masterpiece. The most striking thing about the record is it treats country music absolutely seriously, with respect and not as novelty or parody. The result, a mix of covers and originals, is a beautiful and stirring collection that should melt any country-hater’s attitude to the genre – it’s not all stupid right wing crap; its roots (and as interpreted here) are deeply human and soulful.

    There are 3 Parsons originals on here, and two of them, “Hickory Wind” and “One Hundred Years From Now” are essential parts of the Gram Parsons catalogue. Parsons was supposed to sing lead on most of the album, but Parsons was, umm, under contract still with the International Submarine Band’s label. So Parsons vocals were all deleted in favor of Roger McGuinn, who does a decent job, but you have to wonder what this would have sounded like with Gram singing. Grade: A (but, in a way, also Incomplete).



    The Flying Burrito Brothers – Gilded Palace of Sin


    Parsons left the Byrds after just a few months (see what I mean?), along with Chris Hillman, and formed The Flying Burrito Brothers. In my mind Gilded Palace of Sin is the first truly great Gram Parsons record (since Sweetheart had to delete his vocals) and for the adventurer would be a pretty good place to start. Palace builds on where Sweetheart left off – but rather than treating country with kid gloves, they knock it around a bit and add some real rock components (electric guitar solos) and R&B elements. The hybrid may not have been born here but it was perfected here. Most of these songs are Parsons originals (or at least, he co-wrote them). “Christine’s Song”, “Sin City”, “Juanita” and the two “Hot Burrito” songs are among Parson’s best work.

    “Hot Burrito #1” in fact is a fucking masterpiece in 3 minutes. On the surface an old fashioned country weeper from a jilted lover, closer listening reveals something far more complex. The music is as much R&B as country; the lyrics show a man not just mourning his lover but angry and resentful. Elvis Costello learned much from this song and has said so. “Hot Burrito #2” is its polar opposite, sounding almost like an upbeat Carol King song, full of confidence and swagger. As a pair, the tension in the contrast is striking.
    Grade: A+



    The Flying Burrito Brothers – Burrito Deluxe


    Gilded Palace of Sin didn’t sell a lot but it did get a lot of attention, including Bob Dylan and, famously, Keith Richards. Keith and Gram became good friends and spent a lot of time together talking music and partying; Keith learned about country music from Gram and it shows in the Stones’ music from this time.

    So the thing is, Gram was so busy partying with his new friends he didn’t spend a lot of time on actual music. The Burritos were a notoriously bad live band, mainly because they refused to practice, ever, at all. This led to some discontent in the band and some lineup changes, notably with Chris Ethridge leaving and replaced by Bernie Leadon (yes, the Eagles guy). Leadon, being a polished professional, pushed the band in a new direction (like actually playing their instruments well outside the studio) and as a result Burrito Deluxe feels much more polished, but less inspired, than Palace. “Farther Along”, traditional cover, is pretty good, as is “Cody Cody” and “High Fashion Queen”.

    Probably the most interesting song on the record is the cover of “Wild Horses” – a year before the Stones released it.

    Grade: B



    Gram Parsons – GP



    Parsons left the Burritos shortly after Deluxe; the band carried on with Leadon in charge until he left to help form the Eagles. (For the record, Gram Parsons is said to have hated the slick-sounding, richly produced Eagles). Parsons foundered a bit, hung out in France with the Stones while they were working on Exile on Main St (and supposedly got kicked out by Mick for being a bad influence on Keith).

    While Gram was farting around Chris Hillman discovered this woman folk singer playing clubs in Washington DC that he thought might be a good fit to work with Parsons. Thus Gram Parsons met Emmylou Harris and began a musical partnership that only lasted two albums but endures for the ages.

    Inspired by (and probably trying to impress) Emmylou, Parsons wrote some of his best material in years: “She”, “A Song for You”, “How Much I’ve Lied”, and others. But the covers here feel just as inspired if not more so – “We’ll Sweep Out The Ashes in the Morning” is fucking amazing, with Gram and Emmylou’s voices playing off each other; “The Streets of Baltimore”, which is old cornpone music, sounds fresh and bright and brilliant interpreted here.

    This album is a serious classic and you should all listen to it. Grade: A+



    Gram Parsons – Grievous Angel


    Gram’s drug (heroin) use was increasing at this time and it is said it was affecting his ability to put out new music. I sure don’t hear it though, because Grievous Angel is total genius, building on where GP left off but (to me) with better songs and a more focused band. As great an album as GP is, in my mind Grievous Angel is even better, and is one of my favorite albums ever by anyone, which means I can’t write about it very well.

    “Return of the Grievous Angel” kicks the album off gloriously, with Gram’s lead and Emmylou’s harmonies meshing perfectly. This is my favorite Parsons song and I think everyone should sing along with it enough times til they have it memorized. TWENTY THOUSAND ROADS I WENT DOWN, DOWN, DOWN.

    But as on GP, the covers really make the album; “Hearts on Fire” and “Love Hurts” are amazing how Gram and Emmylou build a slow tension over the course of the song and then you can just feel it explode.. “My love has turned to hatred / Sleep escapes me still / God please take this heart of mine / Cause if you don’t the devil will / Hearts on fire, my love for you brought only misery”. You gotta listen to it to see what I’m talking about there.

    Grade: A++


    Post script: Stop me if I've told you this one before.. Parsons died of an OD at the Joshua Tree Inn before Grievous Angel was released. Parsons body was being shipped back to his family for burial; but his buddies stole the coffin off the tarmac at LAX and hauled it back to Joshua Tree and took it to one of his favorite partying spots in JTNP. They then doused it in gasoline and set fire to it, so that Gram could be cremated in his favorite place. But they saw lights, got paranoid, and ran off with the coffin still in flames – the fire went out before much happened. I’ve done a little pilgrimage to the spot the past two years before Coachella.
    Last edited by TomAz; 11-11-2012 at 06:07 PM.
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    The Encyclopedia bmack86's Avatar
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    Default Re: A young'uns guide to purusing extensive artist discographies

    Thank you. I agree on all of that, except for the wishy washy, Luxury Liner is PROBABLY the best song on the album statement. That song is one of his all-time great gems. It's like Love Me Do: not a totally developed statement, but a shot of pure talent and joy in a few minutes that far outstrips its humble trappings. I've listened to that song alone hundreds of times.
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    Default Re: A young'uns guide to purusing extensive artist discographies

    I also should have mentioned that the tribute album, Return of the Grievous Angel - A Tribute to Gram Parsons is also worthwhile - much moreso than those things usually are. Lucinda Williams, Steve Earle, Wilco, and usual suspects like that (including a great cover of "Hickory Wind" by Gillian Welch) but also may be the only time you'll ever hear Beck sing a duet with Emmylou Harris.
    Quote Originally Posted by efrain44 View Post
    Anyone know who the guy in the Cardinals jersey is? I've seen him in pictures on the board and I thought I saw him this year.

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