Bad (1987) by Michael Jackson

Categories: 1987 and Music.

I grew up with “Fat” and have a hard time separating the real song, the title track of this record, from its parody. But I haven’t listened to “Fat” in so long. Listening to Bad for the first time (and to the remaster, no less), I can’t help but wonder, “does “Fat” sound this terrible too?” Read More

Whitney (1987) by Whitney Houston

Categories: 1987 and Music.

This is one of the most commercially successful albums of its era, so I guess that’s why I felt I had to listen to it. But if I learned one thing from this album, it’s that the things that I like about music and the things that most consumers like about music are not the same. (I knew that already, but this just heavily reinforces that.) Read More

I Stand Alone (1968) by Al Kooper

Categories: 1968 and Music.

When I was younger, I was utterly fascinated by Kooper’s career: how he went from a successful songwriter to a less successful session guitarist to one of the best rock keyboardists of his era (or, perhaps, ever) and the major creative force behind some interesting ventures in the late 60s. But, for whatever reason, it took me ages to get around to his solo stuff. Read More

Diva (1992) by Annie Lennox

Categories: 1992 and Music.

I am generally opposed to albums dominated by “modern” (read: contemporary) instrumentation. I hate bad 80s (and 90s!) synthesizers and generally do not like music that is made primarily by these instruments. Things that sound modern once do not normally sound modern later and that is a huge issue with so much of the pop music that was made between the late 70s and early 90s. Read More

Where I’m Coming From (1971) by Stevie Wonder

Categories: 1971 and Music.

I’m glad that Wonder was breaking away from the creative constraints of his label and his handlers. And maybe, if I’d heard those earlier albums, I’d see more daring in this record, in his freeing himself creatively. I’d like to hear that, but without listening to those earlier records, I can’t. Instead, I hear a precocious, bratty kid who has just discovered a whole lot of things including, it seems, some philosophy. And like anyone in their early twenties, he’s really obnoxious about it. (I mean, we can’t possibly know what he’s just learned, right?) His lyrics that aren’t about Read More

Tapestry (1971) by Carole King

Categories: 1971 and Music.

First off: this is not my kind of music at all – the songs, the instrumentation and arrangements both not my thing. That being said, the band is good for what it is and there are lots of star guest appearances (if Mitchell and Taylor were stars at the time) that blend into the background. King’s songs are certainly decent, though I’ve never been a fan. But for me, the thing that makes this listenable is King herself, who certainly appears to be living/feeling these songs in a way in which most “soft rock” performers absolutely do not. This may Read More

Nothing’s Gonna Change the Way You Feel About Me Now (2012) by Justin Townes Earle

Categories: 2012 and Music.

I don’t like the aesthetic. That wouldn’t matter if Earle was a great songwriter. However, he just an above-average songwriter. Everything is impeccably produced and arranged; although the different genre homages hit the right notes. And that’s probably the problem. Unless, those genres are your thing, it’s hard to love this: he doesn’t exactly bring anything knew to them. It would be nice if he had found a better, more consistent aesthetic to match his songs. Or, if he was truly committed to this genre-hoping aesthetic, it would be nice if he had written better songs. 6/10 Read More