Tag: Rock and Roll

1963, Music

Surfin’ USA (1963) by The Beach Boys

I know this record is supposed to be the Beach Boys’ best album of their early years – hell, at least one writer is on record claiming it as the best record by an American rock band released before the British invasion, which is one tall order – but I prefer their debut album. I’m …

1958, Music

Have Twangy Guitar, Will Travel (1958) by Duane Eddy

There’s a stereotype that, before The Beatles, rock and roll LPs were just a collection of previously released singles and their b-sides plus a bunch of filler; just enough filler to pad out the LP to make releasing a full LP justified, and filler that was usually just remakes of the hits. Now, that’s not …

1977, Music

Like a Mother Fucker (1977) by Heartbreakers

Aka L.A.M.F. and these Heartbreakers are not to be confused by Tom Petty’s band of the same name. Recorded in the UK, this record still sounds extremely “New York.” In fact, the central feature of this record and the thing that I struggle with while listening to it is its huge resemblance to the New …

1962, Music

Surfin’ Safari (1962) by The Beach Boys

I listened to the Beach Boys a lot growing up, along with a lot of other music from this period. I had some Greatest Hits tapes and such, I believe. So when I discovered actually interesting music, the Beach Boys went the way of nearly all oldies bands and artists I listened to – I …

1957, Music

Elvis’ Christmas Album (1957)

Without doing the appropriate research I am going to assume this was the first “rock and roll” Christmas album. There had been Christmas albums ever since the invention of the format but, until Elvis, they were more the purview of Bing Crosby than rock and roll performers.

1957, Music

Loving You Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (1957) by Elvis Presley

Elvis’s third album, which functions in part as the soundtrack to his first major film, is fraught with the same issues as his second record, it feels like an attempt to capitalize on Elvis’ stardom while pleasing as many people as possible.

1957, Music

After School Session (1957) by Chuck Berry

Though it contains Berry’s patented guitar playing, which cemented the electric guitar in rock music for the rest of the century, and it contains a few of his early classics, it’s easy to view Berry’s debut as the least revolutionary of the debut albums from the first wave of rock and roll stars. Because, though …

2017, Music, RIP

RIP Chuck Berry

With guitar-based rock music decidedly out of fashion it is possible – probable? – that many people don’t understand how important Chuck Berry was to the music of the second half of the 20th century. But just because the electric guitar isn’t currently popular doesn’t mean it wasn’t the central vehicle for musical expression of …

1957, Music

Here’s Little Richard (1957)

Little Richard’s debut makes Elvis’ records of the previous year look tame in comparison. Some of this is me listening to the remaster (I must have not listened to remasters of Elvis) but most of it just comes down to Little Richard himself. Though Elvis was far more adventurous in the music he covered (including …

1971, Music

Electric Warrior (1971) by T Rex

I understand why this was such a big deal and why people continue to celebrate it: at the very apex of complicated, weird rock music, Bolan went out and put out 11 straight-ahead, catchy rock signs performed by a band with two guitars, bass and drums, with an image that was pretty unique. It made …

1966, Music

Animalisms (1966) by The Animals

I’m pretty sure this music seemed quite rough, ragged and hard to British audiences in 1966. And I guess I should try to keep that in mind, but it’s hard. Because, of course, it wasn’t particularly grittier than its inspirations. I mean, this is mostly a covers record and there are better versions of these …

1976, Music

Rocks (1976) by Aerosmith

The first time through this, I didn’t like it as much as Toys in the Attic. Aside from the opening track, there are fewer hits and the songs sounded weaker on the whole. But this is a dirty, perhaps deliberately poorly sounding record. (Listen to the piano on the last track – that piano sounds …

1956, Music

Elvis Presley (1956)

It’s hard for us now, 60 years later, to understand what a big deal this record was and listening to it doesn’t necessarily help, because it doesn’t sound great (at least the mono version sure doesn’t) and it doesn’t sound anywhere near as dynamic as it must have then. One huge surprise is the lack …

1965, Music

The Kink Kontroversy (1965) by The Kinks

The Kinks’ first few albums are apparently not worth listening to. I certainly haven’t. But what I hear about them is that they were very much a singles band and that their album tracks were really weak. This record is supposed to be where that changed. But it’s kind of hard to hear it. Davies …

1955, 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1993, Music

The Buddy Holly Collection (1993)

At the time of its release, this was, apparently, the closest thing a to “complete” edition of Holly’s work as existed. (So I have read.) So that alone makes it pretty good. Holly managed to bridge the gap between rock and roll and rockabilly on the one hand and respectable pop music on the other …

1980, Music

Emotional Rescue (1980) by the Rolling Stones

I don’t know what to do with my first impressions.I’ve learned to distrust them. I give every album I review a minimum of three listens in order to defeat my initial prejudice. I adopted this approach, I think, because I wanted to be fair, but also because sometimes my initial impression did not jive with …

Music, RIP

RIP Ray Collins

Ray Collins died on Christmas eve. Because he was Ray Collins, I didn’t find out about it for four days. Collins was Zappa’s earliest lead vocalist in the Mothers of Invention – that is, when Zappa himself wasn’t singing – which was actually initially Collins’ band under another name. He also provided backing vocals to …

1997, Music

His Best (1997, MCA) by Bo Diddley

Along time ago R&B was actually something called rhythm and blues. This CD, which collects many of Diddley’s singles and b-sides from 1955 to 1966. His earliest music of 1955 – now his most iconic – lacks the country of Elvis and Carl Perkins, the gospel of Elvis and Little Richard, the manic intensity of …

1977, Music

My Aim is True by Elvis Costello (Columbia 1977)

It’s unfortunate I guess that early Costello is constantly connected with punk, if only because of his lyrics (which are rather more biting than most ’70s pop rock lyrics). The music is decidedly not punk: it’s pure pub rock; one of the most overrated underground movements in rock music history I say. But that’s not …

2008, Music

I, Flathead by Ry Cooder (Nonesuch 2008)

I find this the least effective of Cooder’s new narrative-based records, perhaps because it was the most hastily put together. Something about it just doesn’t connect the way the previous two did. I still think it’s impressive he’s taken this whole thing upon himself and he’s certainly made himself one of the most interesting people …

1970, Music

Vintage Violence by John Cale (1970 Columbia)

I like Cale. I think he is often a great lyricist (except on Slow Dazzle, where he is lazy) and I think he was certainly the most musically interesting member of the Velvets. But he is not a great songwriter. He lacks a bit of an ear for melody. The only record of his that …