Tuesday, June 24, 2003

Classic Jeff Tue, 12 Dec 2000 18:41:16 -0800 (PST)

Partly because I thought of this on the way to work today, and also partly because I had a few beers tonight after work and am still buzzing, I am going to present my list of Perfect rock and roll albums. Classical, jazz, rap, and techo works are beyond the scope of this email, and also beyond the scope of my current state of mind. In no particular order:

Kick, by INXS
This was the album that taught me what it felt like to be a horny teenage. I remember listening to "Devil Inside" when I was in the 8th grade... ah the emotions that this albums engendered. You probably alread have this so I won't bother describing it too much, except to say that all the hits are on side one (of the cassette). "Tiny Daggers" on side 2 should have been a hit, but wasn't as far as I can remember.

Black Sea, by XTC
My wife would kill me if I tried to descibe this album, because I would totally screw it up and not give you an accurate picture of it. If "Dear God" or the recent college-radio hits are all you know of XTC, be prepared for a surprise. This is from the days when they were a real band, that actually played live and such. Lacks the blatant punk snottiness of their earliest albums, but is much more musically accomplished, but also thankfully lacks the renaissance-faire, burning-man, acoustic-guitar-meets-fretless-bass vibe that has characterized their work ever since.

The Cars, by the Cars
If you can still find this album and "Candy O" packaged together as the two sides of one cassette, buy that. If you can only find the individual albums, buy just this one. You don't really need to buy Candy O because you can turn
on the radio and hear "Let's Go" ("i like the nightlife, baby...") any day of the week. Getting back to the eponymous album: The keyboard solo on "Bye Bye Love" is a sheer musical pleasure. "Moving in Stereo" is in my opinion the low point, but even that is pretty high.

Kiss, by Kiss
You've gotta admit that even in 1973 there wasn't much that was original about Kiss. The makeup was pure Kabuki and the music was the kind of thing that the fictional band from "Almost Famous" might come up with. But Kiss did it really really well. I associate this music with two things that happened when I was 14 (at the time Kiss was in that no-mans-land between the end of fame and the beginning of nostalgia-fame, kinda the position that somebody like INXS would be in today, except that all the member of KISS were still alive...). My dad and I used to listen to this when he taught me how to drive on the backroads of Mobile county. I'll always associate "Strutter" and "Firehouse" with driving that little brown Corola somewhere near St. Elmo, Alabama. Also, when I my brother and I accidentally filled my parents' kitchen with poisonous chlorine gas, I laid in bed wondering if I was going to die. The only thing I could picture about the afterlife was that everybody would be black and white, like Kiss.

The Gay Parade, by Of Montreal
This is a not-quite-famous band from Athens GA. There is a whole collective of bands from Athens that are generally referred to as "Elephant 6"... all of them are very much in line with that period of music that produced things like Pet Sounds, St. Pepper, the Zombies' "Oddesey and Oracle", and the Kinks' "Village Green Preservation Society". Of the various Elephant 6 bands, Of Montreal is the most primitive when it comes to recording techniques, but they are the purest form of pop known to man. Neo-psychadelic gimmickry is kept squarely subservient to melody and lyrics. The lead singer has a voice that sounds strained by even the simplest tunes, but that only makes it sound more authentic.

Boston, by Boston
I don't even own this album, but I've been hearing all the songs from it all my life on the radio. Its perfect.

Virgin Killer, by the Scorpions
Between the extended pseudo-prog of their first few albums and the bloated 80's hairspray excess of their later years, the Scorps had a few damn good years. This albums is, ironically, both their most conventional and their most groundbreaking. Conventional because it fits into the general continuum of 70's anglo-american rock more than most of their other 70's output, but also much more innovative than their later work. Much has been written about (lead guitarist) Uli Roth's influence on Metallica and their ilk, but all I can think about is the tastiness of his whole strat-and-crybaby combination.
(Hellcat!) The album's title track is, to quote Lou Reed (who was speaking of Jeff Beck) "pure filth". There is nothing approximating a normally played note in the solo for that song... Roth unleashes pure whammy-par chaos like some kind of Hendrixian Luftwaffe. Bonus points if you can find the original European cover, which from what I've heard, greatly outdoes the similarly controversial Blind Faith album cover in terms of naked jailbait obscenity. The American version just has a picture of the band snarling at the camera, their long straight hair parted right down the middle, a few years before their days of high-teased Stateside fame.