Sunday, January 31, 2010


From The Birds by Camille Paglia (BFI Film Classics series) During production of Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds, "An inspector from the American Humane Association was always present... ensure that the birds were well-treated. After shooting had finished, most were released back to the wild, with the Arizona birds returned to their habitat. However, fifty crows refused to leave the studio lot and perched near Hitchcock's bungalow; they soiled his car until the tree they were roosting in was cut down."

Saturday, January 16, 2010

After messing around for a month on the now, it is time to return to the then and my long history of pop & jazz with lists. Rereading some of my autobiographical introductory sketches, it occurs to me they suggest my lists are the records I was actually listening to in a given year. In many cases nothing could be further from truth. In 1972 the record most often on my turntable was Machine Head. Despite the fact I still love that Deep Purple classic, it did not make my 1972 list. I was already listening to many of the records that did make my seventies lists as a teenager, but I did not discover some of the best records of that period until years later. To this day I continue to uncover and rediscover records from every decade and all periods of music. I remain weak on some eras. 1995 through 2005 is a ten year stretch I still need much work upon. On the other hand, the music of the seventies might be described as my specialty, but I still have much to learn about that remarkable era, as well. 38 years late, I recently heard for the first time the debut record by Matching Mole. If I were to re-post my '72 list, I would include that one: Little Red Record. Perhaps, I would also find room for Machine Head. As for 1976, it was a year of change. The genre most folks would call "seventies rock" was pretty much at its end. Something else was rising: punk and reggae and other nameless sounds. I turned 17 years old that summer. I was listening to the Ramones and Blondie and the Dictators. I certainly was not listening to Stockhausen. I would not discover his music until the 1980s when I was working at WREK, hosting a radio program called Destroy All Music. I was digging through the stacks constituting the amazing collection then housed at the station, looking for new noises for my no wave show, when I stumbled upon a record by Karlheinz Stockhausen amongst the classical records. The fact is Sternklang does not belong on a list of pop & jazz favorites. But I love the record as much as any punk rock record.

Best LPs of 1976

1. Karlheinz Stockhausen: Sternklang (Polydor)
2. The Modern Lovers: The Modern Lovers (Berserkly)
3. The Ramones: The Ramones (Sire)
4. Patti Smith: Radio Ethiopia (Arista)
5. Bill Dixon & Franz Koglmann: Opium/For Franz (Pipe)
6. Cecil Taylor: Dark to Themselves (Enja)
7. U Roy: Dread in a Babylon (Virgin)
8. Blondie: Blondie (Chrysalis)
9. Miles Davis: Agharta (CBS)
10. Burning Spear: Marcus Garvey (Island)
11. Cecil Taylor: Air Above Mountains (Inner City)
12. Iggy & the Stooges: Metallic K.O. (CBS)
13. Rahsaan Roland Kirk: The Return of the 5000 Lb. Man (Warner Brothers)
14. David Bowie: Station to Station (RCA)
15. Tom Waits: Small Change (Asylum)
16. Parliament: The Mothership Connection (Casablanca)
17. Bob Marley & the Wailers: Rastaman Vibration (Island)
18. La Dosseldorf: La Dosseldorf (Decca, UK)
19. Big Youth: Natty Cultural Dread (Trojan)
20. Peter Tosh: Legalize It (CBS)
21. Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel: Timeless Flight (EMI)
22. Al Green: Full of Fire (Hi)
23. Max Romeo & the Upsetters: War Ina Babylon (Mango)
24. The Brothers Johnson: Look Out for #1 (A&M)
25. Burning Spear: Garvey's Ghost (Island)
26. Nelson Slater: Wild Angel (RCA)
27. Van der Graaf Generator: Still Life (Mercury)
28. Al Green: Have a Good Time (Hi)
29. Stevie Wonder: Songs in the Key of Life (Motown)
30. Blue Oyster Cult: Agents of Fortune (CBS)
31. Bootsy Collins: Stretchin' Out in Bootsy's Rubber Band (Warner Brothers)
32. Graham Parker: Howlin' Wind (Mercury)
33. Van der Graaf Generator: World Record (Mercury)
34. Michael Hurley/The Unholy Modal Rounders: Have Moicy (Rounder)
35. Terry Reid: Seed of Memory (ABC)
36. ACDC: High Voltage (Epic)
37. Mighty Diamonds: Right Time (Virgin)
38. Rahsaan Roland Kirk: Other Folks Music (Atlantic)
39. Graham Parker: Heat Treatment (Mercury)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A horrid, unnamable decade has come to an end. A unique opportunity for all the makers of lists arises with its finish. For reasons that are not clear to me, I have not been quick to seize this moment. I cannot explain why the end of ten years seems more arbitrary than my beloved years' end. Yet I do not seem able to move forward without at least acknowledging this supposed milepost along time's highway. I have picked 45 CDs/LPs of the decade, listed in order of preference. I am only allowing one selection per artist to prevent favorite artists (for example the White Stripes) taking all the top positions. I have at least once cheated my system allowing Nick Cave to slip in twice under his own name and his "side project" Grinderman.

Favorite LPs & CDs of a Decade:

1. White Stripes: De Stijl (XL, 2000)
2. Cat Power: The Covers Album (Matador, 2000)
3. Tom Waits: Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers & Bastards (Anti, 2006)
4. Joe Strummer & the Mascaleros: Global A Go Go (Epitaph, 2001)
5. John Fahey: Red Cross (Revenant, 2003)
6. Portishead: Third (Island, 2008)
7. Yo Le Tengo: And Then Nothing Turned Inside Out (Matador, 2000)
8. Bill Dixon: Bill Dixon with the Exploding Star Orchestra (Thrill Jockey, 2008)
9. Grinderman: Grinderman (Anti, 2007)
10. Tricky: BlowBack (Hollywood, 2001)
11. The Ex: Dizzy Spells (Touch & Go, 2001)
12. The Kills: Midnight Bloom (Domino, 2008)
13. Patti Smith: Gung Ho (Arista, 2000)
14. Liars: They Threw Us In A Trench And Stuck A Monument On Top (Mute, 2001)
15. Yeah Yeah Yeahs: Show Your Bones (Polydor, 2006)
16. Brian Jonestown Massacre: My Bloody Underground (a Records, 2008)
17. Mercury Rev: All Is Dream, (V2, 2001)
18. Bjork: Medulla (Polydor, 2004)
19. Robert Wyatt: Cuckooland (Hannibal, 2003)
20. Von Bondies: Lack of Communication (Sympathy for the Record Industry, 2001)
21. OOIOO: Taiga (Thrill Jockey, 2006)
22. Massive Attack: 100th Window (Virgin, 2003)
23. The Roots: The Tipping Point (Geffen, 2004)
24. Magik Marker: Boss (Ecstatic Peace, 2007)
25. Erykah Badu: New Amerykah Part One (Universal Distribution, 2008)
26. Goldfrapp: Felt Mountain (Mute, 2000)
27. Roots Manuva: Stime & Reason (Big Dada, 2008)
28. These Are Powers: Terrific Season (Dead Oceans, 2007)
29. Throbbing Gristles: Part Two: The Endless Not (Mute, 2007)
30. Enon: High Society (Touch & Go, 2002)
31. Radiohead: Kid A (Capitol, 2000)
32. The Bird & the Bee: The Bird & the Bee (Blue Note, 2004)
33. The Warlocks: Heavy Deavy Skull Lover (Teepee, 2007)
34. The Dandy Warhols: Thirteen Tales from Urban Bohemia (Capitol, 2000)
35. Telescopes: # Untitled Second (Bomp, 2004)
36. Nick Cave: Dig Lazarus Dig (Anti, 2008)
37. Sonic Youth: Murray Street (Interscope, 2002)
38. The Bug: London Zoo (Ninja Tunes, 2008)
39. Absolut Null Punkt: Metacompound (Important, 2006)
40. Kurt Vile: Childish Prodigy (Matador, 2009)
41. Grizzly Bear: Horn of Plenty (Kanine, 2005)
42. Blues Control: Local Flavor (Silkbreeze, 2009)
43. Q Is Not U: Different Damage (Dischord, 2002)
44. Godspeed You Black Emperor: Lift Yr. Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven (Kranky, 2000)
45. De Kift: De Kift (North East Indie, 2006)