Wednesday, May 30, 2007

A-Z CDs - Day 17

Another GREAT day of CDs. The Ds rule.
144. Def Leppard - Vault: Greatest Hits 1980-1995 (last listen: 5+ years) - This is a good greatest hits album for the casual Def Leppard fan, although 2005's Rock of Ages CD is more extensive. Vault only has one from High 'N' Dry, and none from On Through the Night.
145. Def Leppard - Slang (last listen: 5+ years) - This is their 1996 post-grunge, pseudo-alternative album. While it's not the Def Leppard I knew and loved, it did spawn the 1996 tour that included the best concert I've ever attended.
146. Def Leppard - Yeah! (last listen: 0-3 months) - This is the album they put out last year full of covers of songs by bands that influenced them (i.e., mostly British glam from the early '70s), including The Kinks, Badfinger, T. Rex, David Bowie, Sweet, Roxy Music, Mott the Hoople, Free, Faces, and Thin Lizzy. I really like their covers of "Don't Believe a Word" by Thin Lizzy, "Hell Raiser" by Sweet (with accompanying vocals courtesy of The Darkness's Justin Hawkins), and "Stay With Me" by Faces (sung by guitarist Phil Collen).
147. Def Leppard - Yeah! Bonus CD (last listen: 3 months to 1 year) - This has a couple interview clips with the guys, as well as several more '70s covers, including a pretty good cover of Tom Petty's "American Girl," The Stooges' "Search & Destroy," and Bowie's "Space Oddity."
148. Derek & The Dominos - Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs (last listen: 0-3 months) - As you may or may not know, this is my all-time favorite album, which means I have a lot to say about it. Not only is it the greatest post-breakup-sitting-alone-in-a-dark-room-with-a-bottle-of-Jack album, but I'm not sure there's been a better rock and roll album made since its release nearly 37 years ago. For the three of you who don't know the back story behind this album, it was recorded while Clapton was madly in love with Pattie Harrison, the wife of his best friend, George Harrison. You can't manufacture the kind of emotion that pours from this album, and I'd be hard-pressed to find another album as emotional as this one. It's essentially the sound of a man ripping his heart from his own chest, offering it to the woman he loves, and then laying it down on vinyl after she rejects it. And doing a bunch of heroin and cocaine and drinking a lot during the process. Bobby Whitlock's hearty, blue-eyed-soul voice provides great backing vocals (and lead vocals at certain times), and Duane Allman's guitar on the album's last 10 songs perfectly complements Clapton's guitar, allowing both guitarists to things they would not have been otherwise able to do alone (especially on the blues covers, "Little Wing," and "Layla"). I'll hit a couple of the album's highlights (including links to the lyrics, so you can read the pain, even if you can't hear the pain). The album starts out with "I Looked Away," which sets the stage for the kind of emotion the album is going to have, as well as the subject matter ("And if it seemed a sin / To love another man's woman, baby / I guess I'll keep on sinning / Loving her, Lord, till my very last day."). "Bell Bottom Blues," while not written about Pattie, is a solid, heart-wrencher, with Clapton and Whitlock bawling, "Do you wanna see me crawl across the floor to you? Do you wanna hear me beg you to take me back?" "Keep on Growing" is a rollicking song that provides yet another great example of Clapton and Whitlock's intertwining voices. "Anyday" is my favorite song on the album. I get goosebumps every time I hear it. It's pure agony, with Clapton and Whitlock's call-and-response taunting the man (Harrison) who would accept his wife back "after she's left you for another," yet the singer still can't quite get the girl. After my girlfriend sophomore year fucked (or so I assume, since I wasn't there) her ex-boyfriend (who she has since married) the night after she told me I was "the one," this song provided some solace. Granted, it didn't undo the fucking, but it let me sing/yell along with someone who had experienced similar emotions. I'm not bitter or anything, and frankly I'm better off because of it, but I hope she has AIDS. "Why Does Love Got to Be So Sad?" is frantic -- both hopeless and hopeful at the same time. I like their cover of Hendrix's "Little Wing" more than the original (which I like a lot to begin with), thanks again in large part to the intertwining of Clapton and Whitlock's voices exuding heartbreak. "Layla" is, well, "Layla." The album ends with the acoustic, Whitlock-written-and-sung "Thorn Tree in the Garden." It's the perfect ending to the album. The song literally aches. And with good reason: Whitlock wrote it years before the Dominos were formed, after one of his roommates got rid of Whitlock's dog while Whitlock was out. So there you have it, my favorite album. Go out and buy it, soak it in, and fucking love it. Or at least next time your girlfriend/boyfriend breaks up with you or you fall in love with your best friend's wife/fiancé/girlfriend, let me know and I'll let you borrow it.
149. Neil Diamond - 20th Century Masters (last listen: 3 months to 1 year)
150. Willie Dixon - I Am the Blues (last listen: 2-5 years) - Chicago blues legend and Chess Records session man Willie Dixon performs many of the famous songs he wrote. I always forget how ridiculous Dixon's songwriting contributions are, since most of his songs were made famous by other bluesmen or rock bands. Some of the biggest ones are on this album, including "Back Door Man," "I Can't Quit You Baby," "Spoonful," "I Ain't Superstitious," "Hoochie Coochie Man," "You Shook Me," and "Little Red Rooster." Not too shabby.
151. Domestic Problems - Patiently (last listen: never) - I think I acquired this one at Blue Gate. It sat on a table in the entranceway for over a year, and no one claimed it, so I took it. Not knowing at all what to expect, it's actually pretty good. It's kind of funky, kind of Sister Hazel, and kind of Blues Traveler.
152. The Donnas - Spend the Night (last listen: 1-2 years) - A fun, straightforward rock album, even if some of the songs start to sound the same.

No comments: