Welcome back to 1001 Albums – a bit later than usual this week because I’ve been celebrating my birthday and seeing pals (and catching 60s electronica pioneers White Noise doing an idiosyncratic set in tribute to Delia Derbyshire’s birthday). This week it’s dealer’s choice, as a further celebration of my birthday. What did I choose to listen to? Let’s find out.
Black Flag, ‘Damaged’
I imagined a Black Flag album to be as brief as the Minor Threat one we covered a few months back and, while it’s true that few of the songs here break the three minute mark, the album is actually a relatively normal length: 35 minutes. Containing their two best-known songs in ‘TV Party’ and ‘Six Pack’, it’s a fast, aggressive and often barely audible thrash topped by Henry Rollins’ strangulated vocals (odd that a man with such a big neck would sound strangled). Very palatable despite the intensity, I actually think this album is a few songs too long: there’s 14 tracks here and a few knocked off might have been better.
Buffalo Springfield, ‘Buffalo Springfield Again’
Neil Young and Stephen Stills’ first band were already drifting apart at this point: Young’s ‘Expecting To Fly’ was recorded essentially as a solo song, and members were in and out of the band throughout the nine months the album took to record. It’s a charmingly whimsical psychedelic folk-rock which doesn’t quite hit the heights that Young scaled in his later solo career. There are some notable songs: ‘Good Time Boy’ is a funky soul song so incongruous with the rest of the album that I thought Spotify had started playing the wrong album, and ‘Broken Arrow’ features a jazzy clarinet and tape effects among other things.
The Flaming Lips, ‘The Soft Bulletin’
The Lips are objectively good but, as I’ve probably written before, the only time they captured my heart was on ‘Miley Cyrus and her Dead Petz’. Perhaps the injection of a different lyricist willing to open her heart in a relatable manner is what the band needed, at least for me, as I’ve always found them less engaging than contemporaries Super Furry Animals, Mercury Rev or Sparklehorse. While there’s a lot of lysergic filler on this album, there are at least two glorious songs: opener ‘Race For The Prize’ and the heartfelt ‘Waitin’ For A Superman’.
Mudhoney, ‘Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge’
‘Superfuzz Bigmuff’ was an unexpected delight, the fuzzy distortion and dumb genius vaulting the anti-grunge barriers I normally build around me. I was keen to check out the follow-up, but alas it underdelivers by comparison: only when they bring the pedals out and weld on a B52s organ do they come close to replicating the majesty of that album. There are some good songs here (‘Who You Driving Now?’ was I think my favourite) but it doesn’t compete with Superfuzz.
Very much an album of two halves here: on the first half, Michael Rother plays ambient while Klaus Dinger taps gently on a drum kit, and on the second half, Dinger steps up to the microphone and guitar for a two-guitar, two-drummer set that puts the ROCK in Krautrock. Everyone loves the second half, whose European underground nightclub sound was an influence on ‘Heroes’ and more, but I really liked the first half too. Good album, overall, then.
Pet Shop Boys, ‘Behaviour’
One of three PSB albums on the list, this sounds like the one most vulnerable to ageing: perhaps because of how heavily the style was used as background music in the 1990s, perhaps due to some of the ancient synth sounds used throughout the album. The songwriting occasionally shines through the production, though: ‘So Hard’ is a rumination about adultery and ‘Jealousy’ is a West End-style album closer.
T-Rex, ‘The Slider’
The second and final T-Rex album on the list doesn’t sound too different from ‘Electric Warrior’: in fact dare I say that there’s probably no need for two of their albums on the list when they sound so similar. Not that the Bolan boogie doesn’t sound good: ‘Telegram Sam’ and ‘Metal Guru’ both appear here alongside lesser fare with typically Marc-esque titles like ‘Spaceball Ricochet’, and crude Ronson-like soloing on ‘Rabbit Fighter’ and others.
Next week: We hit some of the obscurities: it’s albums heard by less than 5% of the listchallenges.com community!
Status update: 847 listened to (85%), 151 remain.