Quick Review (LP): Being There by Wilco

Wilco
Being There
Reprise; 1996

My Rating: A (86/100)

Best Tracks: "Misunderstood", "Far, Far Away", "Monday", "Outtasite", "Forget the Flowers", "What’s the World Got In Store", "Say You Miss Me", "Sunken Treasure"

Power-pop + Art-punk + Cosmic Americana + Epic country = Classic LP

NOTES

  • "Misunderstood" is the height of transcendence. Brilliant in every conceivable way.
  • First you have those lyrics. ("When you’re back in your old neighborhood/Cigarettes taste so good/But you’re so misunderstood/So misunderstood…")
  • Then the instrumentation. The way different instruments carry the tune by themselves at different times.
  • And Tweedy sounds completely lovesick over rock and roll.
  • "Far, Far Away" is transporting. THAT’s cosmic american music right there. That’s what I think of.
  • "I long to hold you in my arms and sway/Kiss and ride on the CTA"
  • "Monday" sounds like the fusion of Big Star and Grand Funk Railroad. Power pop glory. Love the horns. Brilliant.
  • "Outtasite (Outta Mind)" is a second power pop gem. These guys sound like they are having a blast. Sounds Petty-ish.
  • "Forget the Flowers" is a cool little truck stop country tune. It’s unassuming, but it’s a winner.
  • "Red-Eyed and Blue" is the sort of off-kilter experiment that makes this album so special. Sleigh bells and whistles!
  • "I Got You" is good power-pop, though not as great as tracks 3 and 4.
  • "What’s the World Got In Store" is a personal favorite. Gonna request it when I see them live in a few months.
  • "Hotel Arizona" is a bit of a joke by title alone, but in all reality it’s a pretty cool rock song.
  • What does "Say You Miss Me" remind me of? It’s those background vocals. Fantastic groover regardless.
  • "Sunken Treasure" is one of their greats. "I am so out of tune with you…"
  • "Someday Soon" is another brilliant slice of roadhouse country.
  • "Outta Mind (Outta Sight)" is an unncessary aberration on an otherwise brilliant album.
  • I think of Dylan on "Someone Else’s Song." Nice accordion in the background.
  • "Kingpin" is too jammy. In my opinion, filler, though I guess it’s a bit of a highlight live.
  • I like the feel of "Was I In Your Dreams." Sort of woozy, a drunken, lovesick singalong perhaps?
  • "Why Would You Wanna Live" is fairly forgettable. Belongs toward the end of the record.
  • "The Lonely 1" may be kind of pitiful, but it’s gorgeous as well. Reminds me of the film Almost Famous. I love to think of a young kid looking up to his rock star hero.
  • "Dreamer In My Dreams" never really does anything for me. I know they were trying to go for that Stones thing, and it works nice enough on the album, but overall, it’s subpar Wilco. (Is it anything more than a fractured rip-off of "Honky Tonk Women"?)
  • Supposedly based on a film of the same name. Even sounds faintly cinematic.
  • Interesting recording process for this record. Each song was rehearsed, recorded, and mixed on its own day.
  • Apparently 30 songs were recorded. Deluxe edition, anyone?
  • Love the simplicity of the album cover and artwork in general. The album concept is reinforced by the shots of the band in the studio. As for the album cover, nothing really says “being there” in rock and roll like the hand on the guitar. Understated, but appropriate and, to a degree, brilliant.

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

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Quick Review (LP): Their Satanic Majesties’ Request by The Rolling Stones

The Rolling Stones
Their Satanic Majesties’ Request
Decca; 1967

My Rating: D (35/100)

Best Tracks: "2000 Man", "She’s a Rainbow"


Listen to what the flower people say…

NOTES

  • "Sing This All Together" is almost completely ludicrous, except for the part that’s actually a song.
  • I dig the plinky little piano line on "She’s a Rainbow." It’s sort of a neat tune, one of the better ones on this album.
  • There are most definitely a few "MAKE IT STOP!!!" moments on this record. ("Gomper")
  • “2000 Man” is a pretty cool tune. Not amazing or anything, but decent.
  • Coming as it does right in the middle of one of the greatest run of albums in rock and roll history, there is just so much to despise about this record.
  • I’ve always been a naysayer when it comes to Sgt. Pepper’s, so you can probably imagine that I thought this record was awful. It really does remind me of something from the annals of Spinal Tap. The band seems to agree, since they never went down this road again. I guess it’s best to let The Beatles be The Beatles.
  • AMG offers the counterpoint here, but if the band don’t like it, then why should I?

ATTRIBUTES
Cohesion (4.5/5)
Concept (3/5)
Consequence (2/5)
Consistency (2/5)
Songs (3/5)

Quick Review (LP): Between the Buttons (UK) by The Rolling Stones

The Rolling Stones
Between the Buttons (UK)
Decca; 1967

My Rating: A (95/100)

Best Tracks: "Yesterday’s Papers", "Back Street Girl", "Complicated", "Who’s Been Sleeping Here", "Something Happened To Me Yesterday"

Cool, calm, and collected.

NOTES

  • Love the verse/chorus inversion on "Yesterday’s Papers." The backup singers hit the mark.
  • Also, I love the way Jagger sings at a subdued level. He really doesn’t overdo it here as he is prone to doing.
  • "Back Street Girl" is such a beautiful tune. A total reversal of the lyrics. A genius moment.
  • "Cool, Calm, Collected" sort of has a McCartney vibe. Cute.
  • They couldn’t resist the urge to put a flute in the mix on "All Sold Out." It was the 60’s I guess.
  • Man, the fantastic melodies and playing just abound. "Who’s Been Sleeping Here" is great!
  • "Miss Amanda Jones" sounds like their early 70’s work.
  • "Something Happened To Me Yesterday" is so Beatles-esque. Sounds like it was acid-fueled.
  • I love the vibe of this record. They’ve really left the blues behind at this point, and they are making something entirely their own (and entirely British!). The songs are all brilliant, and what’s great about that is none of these are considered their greatest hits. This is a great deep cut record, and one of the Stones’ most unique.

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

Quick Review (LP): Aftermath (UK) by The Rolling Stones

The Rolling Stones
Aftermath (UK)
Decca; 1966

My Rating: A (95/100)

Best Tracks: "Mother’s Little Helper", "Stupid Girl", "Lady Jane", "Under My Thumb", "Out of Time", "I Am Waiting"

As in the band goes nuclear here.

NOTES

  • "Mother’s Little Helper" is a brilliant little tune. It’s sort of like an understated "Eleanor Rigby."
  • "Stupid Girl" is a great, raucous pop song.
  • I really dig "Lady Jane." Love the Henry VIII era name-checking.
  • Nothing needs to be said about the brilliance of "Under My Thumb." Pop music glory.
  • Even the lesser known cuts like "Doncha Bother Me" and "Flight 505" sound great. They are also more indicative of the direction the band would take post Brian Jones.
  • Sure, "Goin’ Home" drags on quite a bit, but it’s sort of interesting historically. Bands didn’t record 11 minute songs back then. It’s kinda stupid though, too.
  • "Out of Time" is one of the great lesser known Stones tracks. What a fabulous chorus. You don’t get this cut on the US version.
  • "I Am Waiting" – so amazing – how did these guys go from playing blues covers to writing these classics over night?
  • The album may run a bit long. A few tracks are of questionable quality, but the rest of the songs are so good that you’ll barely notice.
  • It’s the first great Stones album, one of the best records of the 60’s, and probably one of the greatest records ever. Honestly, one of my favorite things about this record is that it is roughly a concept album. Most, if not all of the songs refer to the end of a relationship and the emotions that are left over. Tie that in with the (retro) apocalyptic coloring and font of the album cover and you’ve got something completely unified and brilliant.
  • Aftermath is also a jumping off point for the different styles they’d do in the future, but the greatest tracks here are purely Brian Jones era.

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

Quick Review (LP): Out Of Our Heads (UK) by The Rolling Stones

The Rolling Stones
Out Of Our Heads (UK)
Decca; 1965

My Rating: C+ (60/100)

Best Tracks: "She Said Yeah", "Mercy Mercy", "Heart of Stone", "I’m Free"


The one that portends of great things to come.

NOTES

  • Wow, "She Said Yeah" makes me think this is the band’s great leap forward. And "Mercy Mercy" is a strong way to follow it up.
  • Of course, it has its share of catchy but otherwise forgettable mid-60’s pop fare too. ("Hitch Hike", "Cry To Me", "Good Times")
  • "That’s How Strong My Love Is" rocks pretty hard.
  • "Heart of Stone" – good track. Duh.
  • The band hints at things to come on the last 3 here. "Heart of Stone" is fairly well known, "Promo Man" sends up the music industry, and "I’m Free" is one of their most recognizable tracks.
  • Love the guitar tone on "I’m Free."
  • Oh yeah, and you’ve got to appreciate the band keeping in Charlie Watts’ drum flub on the closer. They were really churning these things out back then, huh?
  • What can I really say? The one before they struck gold. Sort of forgettable.

ATTRIBUTES
Cohesion (3.5/5)
Concept (3/5)
Consequence (4.5/5)
Consistency (4/5)
Songs (4/5)

Quick Review (LP): The Rolling Stones No. 2 by The Rolling Stones

The Rolling Stones
The Rolling Stones No. 2
Decca; 1965

My Rating: B- (62/100)

Best Tracks: "Time Is On My Side", "Down Home Girl", "Down the Road Apiece"


Glimmers of greatness.

NOTES

  • Good cover of "Everybody Needs Somebody to Love." I can see MJ hammin’ that one up.
  • "Down Home Girl" – that’s a goofy song. Cross-eyed blues…
  • This, the band’s second official version of "Time Is On My Side", is the first truly iconic track the band released.* A masterpiece. (*At least in the UK. "Heart of Stone" was released as a single in the US just prior to this album, but it still hadn’t seen the light of day in the UK.)
  • A few early Jagger/Richards compositions here ("What A Shame", "Grown Up Wrong", "Off the Hook"). Interesting, but they’re just cutting their teeth on songwriting. Nothing particularly special.
  • "Down the Road Apiece" is a really strong early rock n’ roll style cut. Pretty vital here.
  • The cover of "Under the Boardwalk" is, I’ll say, quaint. The Stones don’t really wear it well, but it’s executed nicely.
  • And the requisite cover of "Susie Q"…
  • Another recording that is interesting as a relic more than anything else. Jagger and Richards were still developing their songwriting chops, so this one mostly consists of covers that sound very dated. The playing is good, and there are some interesting moments (with "Time On My Side" being their first great album moment), but for the most part, this one deserves acknowledgment only for laying the ground on the band’s future output.

ATTRIBUTES
Cohesion (4.5/5)
Concept (3/5)
Consistency (3.5/5)
Consequence (4.5/5)
Songs (4/5)

Quick Review (LP): The Rolling Stones by The Rolling Stones

The Rolling Stones
The Rolling Stones
Decca; 1964

My Rating: B (74/100)

Best Tracks: "Route 66", "Honest I Do", "Now I’ve Got A Witness", "Tell Me", "Walking the Dog"

Teeny-bop blues?

NOTES

  • Pretty impressive blues/R&B for a bunch of white British kids.
  • Keith’s guitar just sounds so magical here.
  • That’s some mighty fine bass playing on "Now I’ve Got A Witness."
  • The first time through it sounds a bit dated, but after several listens, I’d say a better term is "vintage."
  • Even when the songs are cookie cutter, the band’s performances are so spirited that they bring the tunes up a level.
  • Still, the greatest thing about the Stones was their songs. Not much of those here. This is an above average early rock and roll record, but a bit typical, at least to my ears.
  • "Walking the Dog" is a cool tune. That’s some pretty impressive whistlin’ there too.
  • Just a hunch, but I’m guessing this was a bit of an inspiration for Highway 61 Revisited?
  • I’ve never been one for "cover" records. However, this is a good cover record. I can see why the Stones blew up so big. I keep thinking that this is what the early punk bands were trying to get back to in the late 70’s. Catchy, concise, no frills rock and roll. A definite keeper, this.

AMG review

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