Todd Snider/The Magnetic Fields
What's So Funny?
Todd Snider: Agnostic Hymns & Stoner Fables (Aimless/Thirty Tigers)
Musically, these are not complex songs, and although Snider's boyish air never seems forced and his good humor always comes with laughs, his 45-year-old voice bears the gravelly traces of many sleepless nights. Yet for the third time since he kicked opiates in 2004, he's scored a full album's worth of new material that remains completely in a character unique to him while adding something new to that character. This time what's new is a band sound shambolically anchored by John Prine's New Orleans-raised drummer Paul Griffith and cunningly colored by fiddler Amanda Shires. What's also new but less surprising is an ever more explicit and uncompromising class animus. One song names the Abacus Fund Goldman Sachs and John Paulson conned unions with. Another begs to differ with the privileged canard that living well is the best revenge. Uh-uh, Snider sez. Revenge is the best revenge. A
The Magnetic Fields: Love at the Bottom of the Sea (Merge)
These 15 song-puzzles in 34:20 are sophisticated amusements all, although often the amusement is attenuated and one I get bored with before half its 2:38 is over. How amusing they prove over time remains, of course, to be determined. Most amusing: "Your Girlfriend's Face" and "I'll Go Anywhere With Hugh" (tie). Most‑-sorry, it's the right word‑-soulful: "Andrew in Drag." I note for the record that all three are among the first five tracks. A MINUS
I guess it's finally nice to be in the mainstream...
1. Dusty Springfield - Dusty in Memphis 17 (#6 in poll)
Years ago, I generated an unauthorized Dean's List for 1969 that I based on Xgau reviews, some graded, some written about in other reviews and elsewhere, including his Any Old Way You Choose It anthology.
Dear Mr. Yanosik:
My name is Michael Tatum, Esq. of the law firm Tatum, Gubbels, and Daniewicz. We represent such high profile clients as Don Henley, Gilbert O'Sullivan, Steve Miller, the guy who wrote "He's So Fine." We have been asked by our client that you refrain from posting any further conjectured A-lists in that they do damage to his reputation. We will assume that you will take the appropriate action immediately. We also ask that you put Nashville Skyline a little farther down the list.
1. Captain Beefheart & his Magic Band: Trout Mask Replica, 15
2. The Flying Burrito Bros: The Gilded Palace of Sin, 14
3. Rolling Stones: Let it Bleed, 12
4. The Velvet Underground: The Velvet Underground, 12
5. Creedence Clearwater Revival: Willy & The Poor Boys, 11
6. The Beatles: Abbey Road, 10
7. Sly & The Family Stone: Stand!, 10
8. Bob Dylan: Nashville Skyline, 6
9. Dusty Springfield: Dusty In Memphis, 5
10. Neil Young: Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere, 5
Creedence Clearwater Revival: Green River
The Stooges: The Stooges
The Band: The Band
MC5: Kick Out The Jams
Frank Zappa: Hot Rats
The Who: Tommy
Led Zeppelin: Led Zeppelin II
The Grateful Dead: Aoxomoxoa
The Doors: The Soft Parade
Johnny Cash: Johnny Cash at San Quentin
I have about 20 Miles LPs (and CDs)...but damn, no In A Silent Way, one of those records that has always escaped me. I bet it's wonderful. I always feared a bad CD transfer--like what happened to Kind of Blue. I did jump on those Columbia/Legacy doubles such as Live-Evil, In Concert and Dark Magus that came out in the late 90's and think they sound great. I'm sure Columbia does a better job remastering those 60's LPs now but that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it. Nevertheless, at the next record fair I'm going to track it down.
There are two problems with the Bear Family box though.
Yeah, plus I think it's one of their mildly weird "concept" boxes. Do like the live stuff, though.
From Elvis in Memphis (both graded B+ by Xgau)
Wha? Where did he review that?
(he did give a B+ to From Memphis to Vegas)
"Darling Be Home Soon"
The Strangers set, at least, is on a Bear Family box. Not that that changes anything, really.
Ray Charles' Doing His ThingI did see this on iTunes last year but never bought it and now it's gone. Thanks again to Cam. Glad someone else voted for Joe Cocker!, his "Darling Be Home Soon" is amazing.
Neither of these have seen CD release
Oop, oop, oop -- not true. The Strangers set, at least, is on a Bear Family box. Not that that changes anything, really.
Token non-poll post for the night:
Listening to a collection of Motown rarities (A Cellarful of Motown!) for the first time this morning, I noticed a perfect-sounding cover tune for the NY Dolls, "Trapped in a Love Affair" by Brenda Holloway (sentiment far too trite, though) and then noticed it was preceded by a perfect number for the original Soul Twisted, "I Wish I Liked You (As Much as I Love You)" by Marvin Gaye (was later issued with a vocal by Marv Johnson).
Here's mine- Got 8 out of 10 and 9 out of 11. kinda surprised Nashville Skyline finished out of top 10. As for Joe Cocker!, 1 out of 1 doctors recommend it. Kudos Cam!. Dead Heads where you at? 39 & 40?
1) The Velvet Underground- The Velvet Underground- 18
2) The Rolling Stones- Let It Bleed- 15
3) Bob Dylan- Nashville Skyline- 12
4) The Flying Burrito Brothers- The Gilded Palace of Sin- 12
5) Creedence Clearwater Revival- Willy & the Poor Boys- 10
6) Dusty Springfield- Dusty in Memphis- 9
7) The Kinks- The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society- 7
8) Sly & the Family Stone- Stand!- 7
9) The Band- The Band- 5
10) Joe Cocker- Joe Cocker!- 5
Runners up or the 5 way tie for 11th
Miles Davis- In a Silent Way
CCR- Green River
Grateful Dead- Aoxomoxoa
Delaney and Bonnie- The Original Delaney & Bonnie
Mother Earth- Make a Joyful Noise
Years ago, I generated an unauthorized Dean's List for 1969 that I based on Xgau reviews, some graded, some written about in other reviews and elsewhere, including his Any Old Way You Choose It anthology. I've kept the list as a working document, moving albums up and down, adding some on and off, as more comments about 1969 albums appeared. So here's an Unauthorized Dean's List for 1969. Obviously, I'm guessing as to the order but apart from the bottom three (3) on the list, I'd be surprised if these wouldn't officially qualify for inclusion. Anyway, if there was ever a time to share it, this is it. Did I mention this was UNAUTHORIZED?
The Velvet Underground: The Velvet Underground (MGM)
Dusty Springfield: Dusty in Memphis (Atlantic)
The Flying Burrito Bros.: The Gilded Palace of Sin (A&M)
Bob Dylan: Nashville Skyline (Columbia)
The Rolling Stones: Let It Bleed (London)
The Band: The Band (Capitol)
Creedence Clearwater Revival: Willy and the Poorboys (Fantasy)
Aretha Franklin: Aretha's Gold (Atlantic)
The Beatles: Abbey Road (Apple)
Jimi Hendrix Experience: Smash Hits (Reprise)
Sam & Dave: The Best of Sam & Dave (Atlantic)
Donovan: Donovan's Greatest Hits (Epic)
Miles Davis: In a Silent Way (Columbia)
The Firesign Theatre: How Can You Be in Two Places At Once When You're Not Anywhere at All (Columbia)
Jerry Lee Lewis & Linda Gail Lewis: Together (Smash)
Tammy Wynette: Greatest Hits (Epic)
Flamin Groovies: Supersnazz (Epic)
Wilson Pickett: Hey Jude (Atlantic)
Sly & the Family Stone: Stand! (Epic)
The Grateful Dead: Live/Dead (Warner Bros.)
Howard Tate: Howard Tate (Verve)
Joe Cocker: Joe Cocker! (A&M)
Arlo Guthrie: Running Down the Road (Reprise)
Dionne Warwick: Golden Hits/Part 2 (Scepter)
The Kinks: The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society (Reprise)
MC 5: Kick Out the Jams (Elektra)
Delaney & Bonnie: The Original Delaney & Bonnie (Elektra)
Joe Cocker: With a Little Help From My Friends (Epic)
Otis Redding: Love Man (Atco)
Terry Riley: A Rainbow in Curved Air (Columbia Masterworks)
The Kinks: Arthur (or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire) (Reprise)
The Grateful Dead: Aoxomoxoa (Warner Bros.)
Mother Earth: Make a Joyful Noise (Mercury)
Janis Joplin: I Got Dem Ol Kozmic Blues Again (Columbia)
Fairport Convention: Fairport Convention (A&M)
Swamp Dogg: Total Destruction to Your Mind (Canyon)
Rod Stewart: The Rod Stewart Album (Mercury)
Sir Douglas Quintet: Mendocino (Smash)
Jerry Butler: Ice on Ice (Mercury)
The Who: Tommy (Decca)
Cream: Goodbye (Atco)
Creedence Clearwater Revival: Green River (Fantasy)
Super Black Blues (Bluestime)
Neil Young & Crazy Horse: Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere (Reprise)
Frank Zappa: Hot Rats (Bizarre)
Ike & Tina Turner: River Deep Mountain High (A&M)
On the "Let It Bleed kinda sucks . . . good opener and better closer with a heftybag of filler in between" theme . . . I suspect I'm not the only person who listed Let It Bleed that doesn't entirely disagree. Personally I'd say: epochal opener and closer, filler of the sort that people listen to the Stones for in between. Why that adds up to #6 on the list I put out is partially because epochal is, well, epochal, and partially because I hadn't listened to Jerry Butler, or probably dozens of other things I should have, before today. This also, of course, helps to explain the extremely high level of consensus in the survey.
about the blogger
Starting in 1967, Robert Christgau has covered popular music for The Village Voice, Esquire, Blender, Playboy, Rolling Stone, and many other publications. He teaches in New York University's Clive Davis Department of Recorded Music, maintains a comprehensive website at robertchristgau.com, and has published five books based on his journalism. He has written for MSN Music since 2006.