Quick Review (LP): Zooropa by U2

U2
Zooropa
Island; 1993

My Rating: A- (81/100)

Best Tracks: “Babyface”, “Lemon”, “Stay (Faraway, So Close!)”, “Some Days Are Better Than Others”

Post-U2 (and everything else).

NOTES

  • Man, “Zooropa” (the title track) is like the anti-“Where the Streets Have No Name.” Very Eno-esque, reminiscent of something off Another Green World, but a little groovy too. I dig it.
  • “Babyface” is one of the strangest things they’ve ever recorded. It’s also really good. Kind of like a collision of Radiohead’s “Kid A” and “The Fly” off Achtung Baby. Love the twinkly piano thing.
  • Ah, “Numb!” The one where The Edge sings in the monotone and gets his face abused. Bizarre, but strangely enjoyable. I think it’s Bono’s falsetto that makes this track, and the organ breakdown is so silly that it’s fantastic.
  • “Lemon” is wonderful. Beautiful inspiration, transcendent melody. This is one of the U2’s underrated greats. I adore the bridge. See my review of the track here.
  • Man, “Stay”…the goodness on this one just astounds me. That chorus rises to heaven.
  • “Daddy’s Gonna Pay For Your Crashed Car” isn’t great, but it’s decent and pretty interesting. Bono calls it “industrial blues.”
  • The rhythm on “Some Days…” is some of the best work of Clayton and Mullen. Love Clayton’s bass line.
  • The atmosphere on “The First Time” is great. Another underrated gem. Kind of like a hybrid of “Mothers of the Disappeared” and “All I Want Is You.”
  • “Dirty Day” is a bit of a drag, but the overall tide of the album lifts it a few notches.
  • As much as I gotta respect Johnny Cash, I’m looking forward to hearing Bono on “The Wanderer” at some point in the not too distant future (AB deluxe perhaps?).
  • It’s amazing to think about how much this album has grown on me since its release. At the time, I though U2 had gone off the deep end, but as I listen to it now, I realize this is one of U2’s crowning achievements. It’s not quite a masterpiece, but this, like Achtung Baby, is a work of art.
  • There were apparently 20 tracks recorded during the Zooropa sessions, 10 of which are here, and 4 saw release (in re-recorded form) on Pop. I wonder what the other handful were, and if we’ll ever get to hear them? (I think “Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me” was one as well).

ATTRIBUTES
Cohesion (5/5)
Concept (5/5)
Consequence (4/5)
Consistency (4/5)
Songs (4.5/5)

Quick Review (LP): Nashville Skyline by Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan
Nashville Skyline
Columbia; 1969

My Rating: A- (83/100)

Best Tracks: "To Be Alone With You", "Girl from the North Country", "Lay Lady Lay", "Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here With You", "Country Pie"

Bobby goes south in search of a warm bed.

NOTES
– The updated version of "Girl from the North Country" is a great moment for so many reasons. Of course, it’s a lovely duet with the Man in Black himself, which is enough to make it a classic alone. At the same time though, it’s a sort of farewell to the iconic Dylan, the closing credits for the rebel without a cause, the reprise of the film’s harrowing overture. Of course, there would be sequels to Dylan’s first act, but nothing was ever as great as that first act as a whole.
– His voice does sound awful nice here compared to the first eight albums. Almost sounds like a different person.
– "Rest" is a big theme here. Even the opening track, which in its original setting was more about leaving the girl behind, sounds dream like, as if he’s coming home to her.
– This one’s not so different from John Wesley Harding, but it is certainly more oriented towards the popular country music of the time than the cross-eyed folk found on the former.
– I kinda wonder if there was some sort of folk-celebrity interplay going on between Dylan and Simon at this time, since "Lay Lady Lay" and "The Boxer" (both big singles in 1969) have such similar choruses lyrically. Of course, Dylan "covered" "The Boxer" on his next release…
– This is a wonderful warm record. Personally, I’m a fan of the domesticated Dylan, and though I do think New Morning is better, this one is a strong record nonetheless.

ATTRIBUTES
Cohesion (5/5)
Consequence (4/5)
Concept (5/5)
Consistency (4.5/5)
Songs (4.5/5)

Tracks of the Decade (so far)

1563_Pieter_Bruegel_the_elder_The_Tower_of_Babel-wl400There’s still more to come, but here’s a list of the Sweet Georgia Breezes’ Tracks of the Decade so far (in no particular order). What do you think of the list? What are your top 5 or 10 tracks of the decade?

Counting Crows – Mrs. Potter’s Lullaby
Wilco – I am trying to break your heart
The New Pornographers  – Myriad Harbour
M. Ward – Poison Cup
Kathleen Edwards – In State
Vampire Weekend – M79
Johnny Cash – The Man Comes Around
Built to Spill – The Weather
Neko Case – Star Witness
Belle and Sebastian – Funny Little Frog
Interpol – NYC
Wilco – Impossible Germany
Coldplay – Lost!
Ryan Adams – To Be Young (Is To Be Sad, Is To Be High)
Fugazi – Cashout
Flaming Lips – Fight Test
Nathan – The Wind
Radiohead – Everything In Its Right Place
Rachel’s – Water from the Same Source
Fleet Foxes – White Winter Hymnal
Bruce Springsteen – My City of Ruins
The Low Anthem – Charlie Darwin

Tracks of the Decade: “The Man Comes Around” by Johnny Cash

Johnny Cash
“The Man Comes Around”
from American IV: The Man Comes Around
Arguably the greatest recording by Cash since the career-defining live take of “Folsom Prison Blues”, the matter-of-fact apocalypticism of “The Man Comes Around” makes for one heck of a great and strange pop song. The sparse production of Rick Rubin leaves the voice of the Man in Black front and center, and it’s the gravitas of his prophetic timbre that makes this a timeless cut. The Apocalypse according to St. Cash is a synthesis of high biblical imagery and old western justice; the sherriff returns to town and rounds up all the thugs and outlaws with a swift hand. He draws a fairly clear line to many of the Lord’s own parables, especially that of the Wicked Tenants. It gives me pause to think that this legend, who’s life was so transformed by the love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ, left three classic tracks to the world in his final years that showed forth more divine judgment than mercy (“The Man Comes Around”, “Hurt”, and “God’s Gonna Cut You Down”). Nothing too soft and tender nor meek and mild here, but should we really expect anything less than that from the man who claimed he “shot a man in Reno just to watch him die?” Cash’s final message to this world was simple: there remains much that is horribly wrong. It’s a place just as full of monsters as it is of saints. Who can deliver us from it all?

cash-themanJohnny Cash
“The Man Comes Around”
from AMERICAN IV: THE MAN COMES AROUND

Arguably the greatest recording by Cash since the career-defining live take of “Folsom Prison Blues”, the matter-of-fact apocalypticism of “The Man Comes Around” makes for one heck of a great and strange pop song. The sparse production of Rick Rubin leaves the voice of the Man in Black front and center, and it’s the gravitas of his prophetic timbre that makes this a timeless cut. The Apocalypse according to St. Cash is a synthesis of high biblical imagery and old western justice; the sherriff returns to town and rounds up all the thugs and outlaws with a swift hand. He draws a fairly clear line to many of the Lord’s own parables, especially that of the Wicked Tenants. It gives me pause to think that this legend, who’s life was so transformed by the love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ, left three classic tracks to the world in his final years that showed forth more divine judgment than mercy (“The Man Comes Around”, “Hurt”, and “God’s Gonna Cut You Down”). Nothing too soft and tender nor meek and mild here, but should we really expect anything less than that from the man who claimed he “shot a man in Reno just to watch him die?” Cash’s final message to this world was simple: there remains much that is horribly wrong. It’s a place just as full of monsters as it is of saints. Who can deliver us from it all?

Johnny Cash – “The Man Comes Around”

Tracks of the Decade: “In State” by Kathleen Edwards

Kathleen Edwards
“In State”
from BACK TO ME
Other folk-rock songwriters saw more success than Kathleen Edwards this decade, but her passionate, full-bore delivery and muscular songwriting picked up where greats like Cash, Petty, and Farrar left off in decades past. “In State” was the strongest track off her excellent sophomore LP BACK TO ME, and it remains the ideal starting point for her music. As dejected as it is spiteful, the song sails on a seering guitar lead while Edwards assures her cheatin’ man: “I know when you’re going down.” “In State” evokes alt-country classics like Lucinda Williams’ CAR WHEELS ON A GRAVEL ROAD, but Edwards’ delivery snarkily suggests that even after “20 years in state” she’s still not likely to forgive. While Neko Case undoubtedly gets the gold medal for alt-country voice of the decade, Edwards’ fervent focus and steady lyrical aim tip the songwriting scales in her favor. “In State” might be all the proof you need.
Great video, BTW…

points_kathleen_edwardsKathleen Edwards
“In State”
from BACK TO ME

Other folk-rock songwriters saw more success than Kathleen Edwards this decade, but her passionate, full-bore delivery and muscular songwriting picked up where greats like Cash, Petty, and Farrar left off in decades past. “In State” was the strongest track off her excellent sophomore LP BACK TO ME, and it remains the ideal starting point for her music. As dejected as it is spiteful, the song sails on a seering guitar lead while Edwards assures her cheatin’ man: “I know when you’re going down.” “In State” evokes alt-country classics like Lucinda Williams’ CAR WHEELS ON A GRAVEL ROAD, but Edwards’ delivery snarkily suggests that even after “20 years in state” she’s still not likely to forgive. While Neko Case undoubtedly gets the gold medal for alt-country voice of the decade, Edwards’ fervent focus and steady lyrical aim tip the songwriting scales in her favor. “In State” might be all the proof you need.

Great video, BTW…