What Are Your Favorite Underrated Albums?
What's your favorite underrated, underdog, underappreciated album?
Amy wanted to know - and you've responded! Your picks follow - with an update for Winter 2002 (newest lists are at the top). Thanks to everyone who contributed.
I'm a thorn in your side. [link]
- Harry Nilsson - "Aerial Ballet". I love Elliott Smith and all, but I'm all but sure he stole every one of his production ideas from this record. Not that that's a bad thing - this record is one of pop music's great "lost classics". Eclectic as all hell, Nilsson places sometimes goofy, sometimes heartbreaking lyrics over genius arrangements. "Mr Richland's Favorite Song" features bass, drums and brass ensemble, with "wah-wah-wah" breaks in the vocal, twinkling piano joins the mix on "Together", strings and folk guitar come forward on the (sort of) hit "Everybody's Talkin'". Two versions of the country-pop lullaby "Little Cowboy" appear, the second followed by the otherworldly combination of the sad-tailor story "Mr. Tinker" and the original version (remember, he wrote it) of the timeless "One" (…is the loneliest number), both featuring vocal and orchestral arrangements that will give you the willies. I can't recommend this enough.
- Radiohead "The Bends." I know they get their props, but everybody is always gushing about "OK Computer" when THIS is the real deal. This is the sound of a BAND with great SONGS making a CLASSIC album. 'Nuff said.
- Sloan "Twice Removed." Halifax, Nova Scotia gave us one of the best pop groups of the last decade in Sloan, a bunch of art-school kids who are smarter and have more records than you or I could hope to. They know they're stealing those hooks, the thing is - you don't. All four Sloan-ers are expert popsmiths, and they all bring something different to the mix. They got better as a band from here on out, but this is where they first realized their identity, and they're having the most fun with it on this record.
- (Prince) "Chaos And Disorder." The contractual obligation album. This is a collection of throwaways, or material "intended 4 private use only" as the liner notes explain, that Prince (well, he was still using the symbol then) used to fulfill his contract with Warner Brothers records - the label he felt enslaved by for the better part of the 90's. The thing is, it turned out to be his finest album of original material in years. Short, by modern Prince standards, at under 40 minutes, the songs are mostly guitar-based and sparsely produced (again, by Prince standards) - in fact, it sounds like a demo sometimes, but that only adds to the overall feel of the record. The title track is a "state of the world" rant, although you can tell by its association with the album art, it doubles as a "fuck-off" to the record label (check out the "human heart in the toilet" photo under the CD tray). One of Prince's most interesting releases, and pretty darn consistent (can't say that about all of them).
- The Grays - "Ro Sham Bo." A pop "supergroup" of sorts that only made this one record before disintegrating. Too bad - there's genius at every corner here. Jason Falkner (formerly of Jellyfish and currently releasing great one-man pop records) offers 5 of his best, while Jon Brion (producer extraordinaire and maker of the 1999 pop masterpiece "Meaningless") and Buddy Judge (this guy needs to make more records…) include 4 each. The production is a little heavy handed, but the music consistently overshadows any sonic anomalies. For a short time in 1994, there was hope.
I'll think of more by the time this makes it to the site, but these stood out for today.
saxophonist about town. [link]
My 5 favorite underrated, underdog, underappreciated albums off the top of my head ...
- David Sanborn "Straight To The Heart." As an aspiring young saxophonist just entering the 9th grade, my conception of what my instrument should sound like was somewhere between Boots Randolph's "Yakety Sax" (thanks to my father's record collection) & the squawks and squeals of the 4 or 5 other students sitting to my immediate left and right. Thankfully, my band director introduced me to the sounds of David Sanborn's raspy alto with this live recording from the early '80's. Sure, he put out some less than exciting fodder in his career, but this recording captures Sanborn with an incredible backing band (including 2 underappreciated artists - bassist Marcus Miller and pianist Don Grolnick) at his very best.
- Sting - "Bring On The Night." Sure ... Sting is one of the finest pop musicians going ... but what happens when you put him in front of a jazz band? You end up with some of the most inspiring pop/jazz projects that I've ever heard. Branford Marsalis and the late Kenny Kirkland are ridiculous on this double album.
- Chroma - "Music On The Edge." As far as I can tell, Chroma was a one time project put together by keyboardist/producer Jim Beard in the early '90's. Comprised of some of the biggest names in contemporary electric jazz, this record proved that fusion didn't have to be a dirty word ... Virtuoistic playing. Tight ensemble work. Passionate solos. Shades of rock, African music, funk - heck the record even starts off with a version of Copeland's "Fanfare For The Common Man"! Anyone who says fusion died in the 70's needs to hear this record.
- Joe Satriani - "Surfing With The Alien." A musician's guitar hero, while Steve Vai was all about speed and notes, Satch was the master of melody. This was considered his "breakthrough" record and it's exactly what good instrumental rock should sound like.
- Seamus Blake - "The Call." Canadian saxophonist Blake's debut album from 1993 is an incredible assemblage of musicians who would go on shape the face of jazz for the rest of the decade - Kurt Rosenwinkel, Kevin Hays, Larry Grenadier and Bill Stewart ... This quintet brings Blake's intricate originals to life and casts a new light on a couple of jazz standards. Creatively aggressive playing from all involved and one of the most original tenor sax sounds I've ever heard.
Fred Gillen, Jr.
- Dan Bern - "Smartie Mine." Two whole 70-minute CD's of the King of The World (a.k.a. The Messiah)!!!!!!!
- Andy Germak - "Color Through The Smoke." If you want to bawl your eyes out, this is just the thing.
- Ryan Adams - "Heartbreaker." The title pretty much sums it up.
- Bob Dylan - "Oh Mercy." Forget Blonde on Blonde, this record is one of the heaviest things he's ever done. It has everything you could want from Bob.
- Martin Sexton - "Black Sheep." I couldn't live without this one.
- Elliot Smith - "XO"
- Son Volt - "Straightaways"
- Amy Abdou - "The Girl Who has Everything (sorry if I make you blush, Amy, but it is true)"
- Beck - "Mutations"
- Every Tom Waits record"
- Miles Davis - "Kind of Blue"
- Rush - "Permanent Waves"
- X - "Los Angeles"
musician, juvenile counselor, raconteur, idiot. [link]
- The Isley Brothers - Funky Family." Man, I'll tell you. If you want to hear everything Fishbone wishes they could be, buy this goddamned record. Ernie Isely's playing and singing makes me wish i'd turned my musical gear into living room furniture, like I wanted to one time while on acid.
- Rage - "Perfect Man." Late 80s Scandinavian Death Metal at its finest and most brutal, although they are a little remiss in that the singer actually sings. I believe I own one of the twelve copies of this record sold over here. I'm sure these guys all work in video stores in Europe now or something.
- AC/DC - "If You Want Blood... You Got It!" A sorely underrated, fantastically evil and utterly sodden live album from Bon Scott-era AC/DC, proving once and for all that Hell ain't a bad place to be as long as you are hammering the audience to pulp with Gibsons, Gretshes, and Marshalls.
- Bad Brains - "ROIR Sessions, 1980." I think the fact that Bad Brains never became huge is a testament to all of our ignorance. Every punk and hardcore band of the last 20 years is just aping these guys, whether they will admit it or not. The unchecked fury and resin soaked truth of this record proves it, too. Plus, singer HR beat the ever loving shit out of the band's manager once. I'd like to see Blink 182 do that. We got that attitude!
- Chris Whitley - "The Din Of Ecstasy." One of our finest, and most heinously hidden, modern american songwriters weaves beauty and ennui and does it like a man, god damn it. Why does he flounder in obscurity while Vertical Horizon enjoys an almost fanatical popularity.
J. Michael Macbeth.
Neurotic poet and keeper of bees.
- The Pogues - "Peace and War." the way drunken irish punk rock should be played
- The Jayhawks - "Sound of Lies." beatlesque comes to mind... who the fuck is mark olsen anyways?
- Mark Mulcahy - "Smile Sunset." someone has to pick up the slack after jeff buckley's untimely and tragic death.
- The Cure - "Wish." some people write them off as mope rockers... i say bullshit. the song "cut" is perhaps the greatest break-up song of all time.
- Richard Buckner - "Bloomed." My god this guy writes beautiful songs from his heart, too bad no one east of chicago has ever heard of him.
unlicensed psychomusicologist/wannabe epic indie dinosaur act [link]
- Stephen Scott - "Viking Sunrise." Totally unknownderrated... I admire Scott for being the essence of creaitivity... taking an instrument that has so much history, the piano, and ignoring the keys and dreaming up totally new ways to play it. That he wrote a masterpiece with this new method doesn't hurt. The drones and different worlds evoked on this disc are stunning... you must hear it.
- Mojave 3 - "Out of Tune." Mainly for "caught beneath your heel" - has an emotional state ever been described so finally? I think there are people who look down on this genre - sadcore/slowcore... and even within that, may see mojave as yet another band. But anyone who has been there, and I think it is all of us, should not overlook such small wonders. Besides, I'm just a sucker for yearning female wordless vocals...
- Mike Watt - "Contemplating the Engine Room." Watt didn't play any of these tunes at his show here and no one but me seemed to mind. Personally I became aware of Watt very late and don't even connect to his earlier stuff. But engine room... is a real journey. And the chemistry between the three musicians... is unparalleled. I look to their work apart for similar genius, but sometimes the magic only comes out in the interaction between a small band of people.
- Morrissey - " Vauxhall and I." Seems to be nobody's favorite morrissey album. If you thought the guy was melodramatic to start with, I think this even goes beyond that for the people who like him. Again I guess I'm just a sucker for bathos.
- Pink Floyd - " Piper at the Gates of Dawn." Most of you real music people of course know this is one of their best and so different from their other stuff, and a glimpse at a great mind that got laid to waste. But since so many average music listeners, and even floyd fans thumb their nose at it, I thought I should say I like this better than 90 % of anything else they've done. Off the wall and daring, insane and expectation defying, even today. Thank you Syd.
- Low - "Long Division." whatever the latest britney spears song is may be yearning to some people... or maybe it's poisin's "every rose has it's thorn" that's true yearning... but when i have to take a punch in the gut, which is often, low delivers.
from head: im an alcoholic [link]
- Queens of the Stone Age - "Rated R." ca-ca-ca-ca-ca-cocaine.
- The Beach Boys - "Wild Honey." i wasnt alive when this came out but i heard the transition brian wilson pulled between "pet sounds" then "smiley smile" to "wild honey" and i love the happy feel and soul of that album.
- Blur - "13." this thing went practically unnoticed and its so cool. you can see that whole gorillaz thing coming.
- Oasis - "Be Here Now." oasis even hates that album, but i dont. i love loud obnoxious annoying and very over produced albums.
- Guns 'n Roses - "Appetite for Destruction." alright its not that underrated but you could never really praise that album enough..
its probably easy to see that i like albums that are very distorted in a pop sort of way
Stuyvesant Falls, NY.
I'm a Mets fan.
In no real order
- Hendrix - "Band of Gypsys" Hendrix gets rid of those two goofy Brits and replaces them with some brothers. Most under rated live album. "My mind keeps goin' through them changes..."
- Meat Puppets - "Up on the Sun" The best Side A I've ever heard. No, it's not the one that Nirvana covered some of.
- Grateful Dead - "Blues For Allah" Three words: Help, Slip, Frank
- The Silos - "Cuba" Fuck, I don't even like this album enough.
- John Coltrane - "Coltrane Plays the Blues"Watch the Hundred Greatest Whatevers on VH1, read, hear anything about Coltrane. No one mentions how amazing an album this is. Fucking Tight.
- Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks Anything he's ever done and ever will do - Easily one of the most underrated guys around.
Philanthropist and time traveler.
[photo credit: Jessica Sipos]
- Randy Newman - "Randy Newman's Faust." "Randy Newman's Faust" is nasty even by Randy Newman standards, and we all know what a mean, mean man he can be. Somehow this record managed to be a colossal flop despite guest appearances by Don Henley, Linda Ronstadt, Bonnie Raitt, Elton John and James Taylor back when people still actually cared about them. The pinnacle of Randy Newman's entire career comes when Newman, as the Devil, tells a sweet little girl recently arrived in Heaven that "The man who shot you in the head / in that Burger King in Tucson / well, he never will be punished, ya know." (Don't you just love the way he sprinkles the names of random US cities into his songs for the perfect little touch of authentic Americana, everytime, anytime?)
- Faith No More - "Angel Dust." The album every "modern metal" band of the last five years has been trying to make. From the Blasphemous but True department: "Angel Dust" has had more influence on the current state of rock-radio than "Nevermind." But no one gives a shit except the bands who quietly bite FNM's rhymes. Remember when Circus magazine called Faith No More "The new Led Zeppelin"? heh heh...
- Brian Dewan - "Brian Dewan Tells the Story." Also in my top ten would be Brian's follow-up, "The Operating Theatre." Brian built his own electric zither and made two albums of wonderful American folk story-songs. Then Blue Man Group swindled him out of his zither designs AND most of the music for their show. Those Pentium-shilling fuckers. Hey, let's try a "Brian Dewan Tells the Story" rebus to lift our spirits after that sad, sad tale - "Harry Chapin" minus "desperate for a blowjob" plus "They Might be Giants" minus "any musical instrument conceived after 1875." You've got it!
- Eve's Plum - "Cherry Alive." Yes, as Vitamin C she's responsible for some of the last decade's most contrived pop doody (plus she was bitchy to John Delehanty when Eve's Plum played the QE2), but the fact remains that Colleen Fitzpatrick once fronted this totally rockin band and sang lines like "Sticky and greasy / I'm so fucked." The sounds of the instruments on this album are huge. Did I mention that Eve's Plum rocked? So much harder than the Figgs. Sorry.
- Inspiral Carpets - "Revenge of the Goldfish." Ned's Atomic Dustbin was one of my least favorite bands back in the day. These guys did almost the same thing, but so much better and they only needed one bassist. In addition to some fantastic lyrics, there's some great keyboard work on this album, and a fearless fusion of dance beats and metal in an age when hair bands roamed the earth. Inspiral Carpets were such a strange beast - were they a metal group who could groove, or a Manchester band who could rock?
- Flop - "Whenever You're Ready." Flop was the name AND the game. Anybody remember the almost-hit "Regrets"? I loved that song, and this album. If Syd Barrett wrote songs for a grunge band, that band would have been Flop. They were supposed to play Bogie's a few years back; we were all psyched to see 'em, but then about three hundred feet of snow (I may be underestimating this, now - it was a LOT of fucking snow) plopped down, those weird eenie-meenie-miney-moe alternate-side parking rules went into effect, and everyone's car got towed. Oh, and Albany came off Flop's itinerary. They never made it here. (Story of their career.)
- Also: anything by the Alarm. Their whole catalog should be standard-issue for drunken mobs. 68 guns!
Rock star. Boston, MA.
- Urge Overkill - "Exit The Dragon." Dark, tense, conflicted soul music. This record sold about 27 copies. Urge Overkill were dismissed because they wore suits, and did a Neil Diamond cover. People are so bigoted. Chrissie Hynde went on tour with these guys to sell their t-shirts, that is no lie. A deep, deep record, and sadly, their last.
- Daryl Hall - "Sacred Songs." Held up by Hall and Oates' label RCA for 3 years for fear it would confuse Hall and Oates fans. Robert Fripp, who produced this masterpiece, said that had it been released when it was supposed to, Daryl Hall would be thought of with the Bowies and Enos of the world. If you think all Hall and Oates are capable of is "Maneater," then listen to this record, or any of the duo's recordings from '77-'79, and then go fuck yourself.
- Cat Stevens - "Tea for the Tillerman." Possibly the greatest record of the rock era. I think Cat dropped out of the biz because this record is so unbelievably great that it scared the fuck out of him.
- Cheap Trick - "All Shook Up." A band trying to grow, post "Budokon" confusion. Adult themed, George Martin produced, universally panned album. The second side you can basically hear the band breaking up it's so tense (bassist Tom Petersson was thrown out after the recordings). Must have been a lot of coke on these tracks. Rick Nielsen was a genius once, and this is a work of madness.
- The Figgs - "Ready Steady Stoned." If bands in Albany are any good at all it is because the Figgs set the bar so high. Barely 20 years old when they recorded this cassette. The Figgs remain freaks of nature. When people ask me what I think of the Figgs I just say, "Someone has to be the best."
Matthew Kenneth Loiacono.
"I am allowed." East Greenbush, NY.
- Retsin - "Cabin in the Woods". Yeah, yeah, yeah, it's my flavor of the past three months, but it's sure tasty. It tastes like a humid, soggy porch at dusk in August, complete with chirpy bugs. "Southwater" could easily take the feet out from under me.
- R.E.M. - "Fables of the Reconstruction(of the)". I bought this tape when I was in seventh grade (it had been out for a long time, I'm a youngster). I remember listening to this for hours of those ugly middle school days. "Kohoutek", "Life and How to Live It", and "Good Advices" are all favorites.
- Brian Blade Fellowship - "Perceptual". My lord. What did we do before this came out? The placement/spirit/energy/emotion/etc that pours from this recording is unparalleled. I challenge anyone to not flinch/wince/hop/drool/be rocked/etc listening to the pedal steel solo on "Evinrude-Fifty(Trembling)".
- Burning Airlines - "Identikit". Instant classic. The pace/sequencing of this album does something to my pulse. From the opening blaze of "Outside the Aviary" through the über ballad "Dear Hillary", the Airlines take you through everything and back. Sure, former Jawbox genius J Robbins throws around SAT words like he made them up, but hearing the bass line to "A Song With No Words" or "Morricone Dancehall" just wipes everything away. Bonus: the fold out CD booklet rules!
- Squarepusher - "Big Loada". Bass AND drums. Has the potential to invoke vomiting (I've seen it happen).
- Greg Osby - "The Invisible Hand". One of the creepiest albums from Blue Note's catalog. I have such a difficult time remembering or even noticing the main melody of the tunes. Meditations, but CREEPY meditations.
- Cynic - "Focus". Death metal with Bhuddist lyrics. Quite the marriage. There's jazz-y Jaco interludes in there too. The synth voice, the gutter voice, and the opera voice. My friend Scott got me into them in high school. Unfortunately, this album is out of print in the states, so besides my destroyed cassette copy, all I have are mp3s. Napster was good for something, right?
- Low - "Secret Name". Oohhh my. Two step around the room. This album changed my life. Make a river through the sand. It helped me find the space between. Tell me is the time that slow. There is a whole new appreciation for Steve Albini. Are you a lion or a lamb? I should pick this up on vinyl, no digital used.
Musician and record store owner. Utica, NY.
- Any album by Hank Williams Sr. (not necessarily hit comps, but they're OK) Without Hank, there would be not Rock & Roll. Hank Williams lived, wrote, sang, and died the R&R dream, long before the genre.
- Nick Drake - "Bryter Layter." Stuck between his great debut "Five Leaves Left" and his most accessible "Pink Moon." This LP was a masterpiece in every way.
- John Lennon/Yoko Ono - "Sometime in NYC." Not a critical or fan success, but each song was written and sung from the gut. No fancy top ten numbers, just raw, unbridled rock.
- Canned Heat - "Boogie with..." Their second album that makes the Blues pour off each groove and into your soul. No blues collection should be without it.
- The Paupers - "Magic People." An obscure Canadian Psychedelic band whose 2 LPs epitomized the genre. This, their 1st takes you on trip w/o use of outside influences. Members later joined jazz rock band Lighthouse and Janis Joplin.
There you have my five.
- Alice Cooper - "Zipper Catches Skin"
- Bob Dylan - "Street Legal"
- Dead Kennedys - "Bedtime for Democracy"
- Grateful Dead - "Blues for Allah"
It's only four albums long but highly underrated.
"I watch rich people's precious cars." Albany, NY.
- Annabel Lee - "The Squall and the Squalor." without a doubt, one of the top, say, five albany records. every second is crushing, from "terrifying stare" all the way through "all about eve"....like the birthday party was raised in upstate new york listening to garage rock. there is no way i can talk about this record without employing the most hyperbolic statements possible. the guitars send electric shock down your central nervous system, the bass plays lost peter hook/clint connelly jewels, the farfisa brings to mind sick sex parties and dark carnivals, drums to block the exit door, vocals serve as a make-shift guide through all this insanity, and above all the din, that goddamn blaring alto sax, convincing you that yes, you are mad, there is no fucking way out now that we're in this deep.... listening to "the squall and the squalor" is like being in on the best secret around.....and there's not a dry eye in the house..........
- The Figgs - "Lo-Fi at Society High." if there is one great Local Mystery, it's this --- why would anyone around here bother to start a power-pop-punk band after the figgs released this record? it doesn't make sense, because it will never, ever be better than this, and i hate every band since the figgs to even try to pull this shit off on an albany stage, because you are a complete and utter failure in the shadow of messrs. donnelly/hayes/gent/lyons. face it!
- Sonic Youth - "Washing Machine." a severely underrated masterpiece from a band that's made a few of 'em. this is the best of sy's 90s output, in my opinion, six years later, still a very transgressive work. dig the kraut-rock groove that the title track gets into, and then, of course, "the diamond sea". man, this is taking me back.
- Damon & Naomi - "More Sad Hits." a couple of years before they played bogie's with magic hour and trashed albany (thereby earning a place on many people's shitlists), about a year after galaxie 500 (the best slowcore band ever, fuck low, they suck a hard christian one) imploded, d + n, with kramer, recorded a great record. this takes all the best parts of galaxie 500 (with kramer on lead psychedelic guitar as a good wareham step-in) and combines them with the, um, rather languid d+n worldview and takes it to massive heights. as much as i like ghost and tom rapp, "information age" and "this car climbed mt. washington", along with a couple of others, are probably the best these two will ever do.
- Yo La Tengo - "President Yo La Tengo." although not my fave ylt disc, this is a very strong album, probably the best from their initial folk-rock phase (all of their albums from this period are pretty stellar, truth be told, but none reach the heights of the later stuff). this is a record that is not afraid to rock, with a schizo song order (rock song/surf instrumental/tara key cover/ten minute noise jam/acoustic dylan cover) that works a lot in it's favor. also, this record has also conjured up a term that wouldn't normally be applied to the work of ira kaplan and georgia hubley - drug damaged. i don't know what it is, but fuzz 'n' skronk 'n' folk beauty bring to mind some heavy practice-space dope work outs. or maybe that interpretation springs from coming home from saratoga in the wee hours of the morning, stoned out of my mind and listening to this over and over again, convinced that it doesn't get any better than ira beating his trusty stratocaster into submission in "the evil that men do". whatever one works for you.
Guitarist for knotworking. Albany, NY.
- Last Exit - "Iron Path." Sorrowfully out of print (and hasn't been released on CD yet!), this prog-jazz/rock/funk classic charges out of the gates like an armada of valkyries, takes some time in dark chambers to swoop with bats, to finally reside in the late guitar giant Sonny Sharrock's melodic genius odes, filled with blues and sand. Life- and mind-altering.
- Willie Nelson - "Stardust." - Penultimately soulful interpretations of classics by a world-class country band. Tackles the likes of Gershwin, I. Berlin, "Moonlight in Vermont" . . . And his voice! . . ..
- Jesus Christ Superstar - Original Cast (London). - Joe Cocker cameos, and the guitar riffs rival the best of Zep or Sabbath.
- Peter Tosh - "Legalize It." The sound of a man searching for love, God, and happiness.
- Robert Plant - "Shaken 'n' Stirred." The closest a Zeppelin guy has ever got to Captain Beefheart land.
Barnes and Noble Music manager, and Larkin regular.
There are SO many underrated artists or albums out there. The radio these days is totally useless; bands don't get the exposure they deserve. The following is my list for now, but tomorrow I could have entirely different choices.
- Sam Phillips - "Martinis & Bikinis." This is my favorite album of the past ten years. Sam kills me with her beguiling melodic sense and her lyrical conciseness. This is Revolver for the 90's. It seems that every word is finely considered, every melody is memorable. There's lots of references to the Beatles, but this is no imitation. If you want a lesson in great economical songwriting, get this. All of her albums are wonderful, but I think this is her most focused work.
- The Kinks - Greatest Hits (Rhino). You have yer Stones, you have yer Who, but this is the real deal. British Invasion at it's best. Only the Beatles were better.
- The Jayhawks - "Hollywood Town Hall." While the press were falling over themselves over Uncle Tupelo/Son Volt/Wilco, these guys put this record out. Beats em all by a country mile.
- Lori Carson - "Where it Goes." - Vocalist for the Golden Paliminos, This album has a sort of Carole King, Suzanne Vega feel, urban folk. In the Paliminos, Lori was the one with the sexy whisper ( she's on the Pure disc), but here, there's a vulnerable innocence to her voice. The album flows real well. It could be the soundtrack to an urban romance starring Parker Posey.
- Dave's True Story - "Sex without Bodies." A NYC lounge duo, with vocals by Kelly Flint, who has a Peggy Lee, Keely Smith thing going, and the sophisticated songwriting of David Cantor. Cole Porter meets Steely Dan. The swing/lounge revival has come and gone, but I think they'll be around.
"I'm unfulfilled." Clifton Park, NY
No particular order:
- Flaming Lips - "Clouds Taste Metallic."
- Sloan - "One Chord to Another."
- The Who- "A Quick One."
- Dead Milkmen - "Big Lizard in My Backyard."
- Digable Planets - "Blowout Comb."
Escort service owner. Latham, NY.
- Universal Congress Of - "Prosperous and Qualified." Has to go down in post punk history as one of the most leg shaking/autistical/jivebrating albums of all time. Fronted by one of the most underrated punk guitarists in history... Mr. Joe Baiza of Saccharine Trust fame. This is the kind of jazz you could play for anyone of any age and they would appreciate it. I feel this album is underrated because it's not quite jazz, not quite punk...Marketing such a non-genre can be a label's worst nightmare.
- Rev. Fred Lane and his Hittite Hotshots - "Car Radio Jerome." This is the only priest I'll go to confession with.....with a dry Bombay Saphire martini in one hand and a velvet Elvis pocket pic in the other. "French Toast Man" is a fractured tale of nothingness that induces visions of Alice In Wonderland. The entire album is too damned good. If you don't own this you don't exist. You think your parents hated when you cranked up that Ramones album in your room? Crank up the Reverend and really drive them nuts. They will denounce jazz music for ever. Underrated again because of it's non-genre specific identity and the fact that the band seemed to be a studio mystery. No real names were ever credited on the album. A true mystery and a true gem that will live on forever. Buy several copies in case you wear them out. Bring a CD to a party and slip it in someone's file right between their Labouche CD and their Jennifer Lopez CD. That'll fix em for that lame party they threw.
- Half Japanese - "Half Gentlemen Not Beasts." Even though I still hate the sound of CDs... Thanks to Ralph Records for the re-issue of this rare vinyl masterpiece on double CD. The vinyl box included some great art booklets by brothers David and Jad Fair. "Becky the Monkey" was something you hung on your wall only if you were cool. This is the quintessential Punk Rock collection. Punk Rock at it's rawest. These brothers have been playing since the early 1970's and like the Eveready Energizer Bunny...they just keep going, and going, and going, and......... Underrated because Half Japanese are an institution that so many have copied but never matched.
AMY ABDOU SAYS:
This exercise is for every musician who dares to look at the lexicon of work that makes your life worth living, even if you know deep down that said article has suspicious artistic merit.
The objective is to tell me what you think is good, that hasn't been stated before; also valid, the underrated. Bonus points if you can name the mainstream corollary to your underrated genius.
For example, I would choose the Tar Babies first album "No Contest" on the grounds that while it was a genre of music I didn't particularly favor (So. CAL Punk/funk/jazz) it was so underrated for its time, and in my mind, so superior to any of that Chilli Peppers funk necrophilia without all the homoeroticism.
I'm obviously not going to tell anyone anything by stating that "Revolver" is one of my top one hundred favorite albums of all time, but Paul McCartney made some damn fine solo albums. "Ram" is a great album. There I said it, there's no going back.
Now, my challenge to you guys is to do the same. I've begun to articulate who I am as a listener and a student of music. Here are a few of my selections, in no particular order.
- Stevie Wonder - "Music of My Mind." Side One of this album is so good, I feared listening to side two for a long time. How could it possibly live up to side one? I flipped the record. It's just as good.
- Sphere - "Live at Umbria Jazz." Sphere is a band named after the master Thelonious Sphere Monk and they cover mostly Monk tunes. This is such a great band for his music and I've encountered this record again and again and it just holds up really well as good live recording of a great performance.
- Lee Morgan - "Search for a New Land." There's something very eerie about this album because it's very meditative and it sounds like he knew his time on earth was coming to an end.
- Paul Simon - "Still Crazy After All These Years." I love this record more than anything he's done, "I do it for your love" is one of the greatest love songs of all time.
- Joan Armatrading - "Show Some Emotion." She's a great guitar player, songwriter and singer all wrapped into one.
- Betty Carter - "Now, It's My Turn." Betty Carter kicks ass and takes names. She is not to be fucked with.
- Steely Dan - "Can't Buy A Thrill." Why is it so often I find with bands that receive critical praise late in their careers, I always end up liking their early stuff the best. I think this is the best Steely Dan album and I won't be upset if it won a grammy, ever.
- Pete Townshend - "Empty Glass." For songwriters, this is mandatory listening, this is one of the greatest albums of all time, ever, I swear. (Pete Townshend, if you're listening, I'm your biggest fan.)
- Faith No More - "Album of the Year." One of my top bands of all time, and a good juxtposition to the Steely Dan debacle; as they get less popular they impress me more.
- Marianne Faithful - "Blazing Away." greatest live recording of the eighties and a brillant testament to the quality of work Miss M is capable of.
- Luscious Jackson - "The Search for Manny." Far superior to any of the stuff that made it to radio, isn't it always the case.