Monday, September 19, 2005

5 more worth an A+

21. Various Artists: The Roots of Rock 'n' Roll 1946-1954 (Hip-O, 2004). Before there was such a thing as rock-n-roll, there was this. Artists like Lionel Hampton, Ivory Joe Hunter, Louis Jordon, Hank Williams and Tennessee Ernie Ford played boogie beat jump blues and honky tonk. Early versions of That's All Right, Mama, Hound Dog, Kansas City, and The Hucklebuck bring one back to what it must have been like before the days of Alan Freed. If you're interested in a history lesson or if you just want to hear some great and, sadly, unappreciated music, this 3-disc set is a must. A+

22. Robert Cray Band: Strong Persuader (Mercury, 1986). Cray isn't the first professional bluesman to make an impressive album. Check out Live in Cook County Jail, for starters. Other blues greats like Ivory Joe Hunter and Howlin' Wolf likewise held the mantle. What separates Cray is his ability to bridge the gap between blues and rock and not just make something out of it; but in fact to blow away his peers. On his best day, B.B. King couldn't touch him. And he's a damn fine singer to boot, something only King could come close to in his prime. At 33, he's the best there is, and this is his finest moment. A+

23. PJ Harvey: Stories From the City, Stories From the Sea (Island, 2000). After almost a decade of making arguably the most challenging and thought-provoking music of any artist since the Velvet Underground, she releases her own Sgt. Pepper's as it were. The lyrics, once murky are now fully lucid; the tunes are straight up rock-n-roll. The result, a PJ Harvey album you can love as well as appreciate. A+

24. Joe Cocker: Joe Cocker! (A&M, 1969). He sings like Ray Charles and looks like an escaped mental patient. At 23, he's the best rock interpreter ever. Credit Leon Russell's production. Also the songs are great. Hitchcock Railway is my personal favorite. A+

25. Public Enemy: It Takes a Nation of Millions To Hold Us Back (Def Jam, 1988). The forefathers, if you will, of hip-hop, Chuck D and Flavor-Flav set out to dis everything within earshot of them: blacks, the record industry, daytime radio, everybody but themselves. And therein lies the catch. Don't Believe the Hype isn't merely a call to arms, it's self-prophetic. Like every other rocker before him Chuck is both misunderstood, but also revels in the misunderstanding. By that I mean he gets off on it. And like most great rock-n-roll it shoots right through you and over you. Relentless and great! A+

2 comments:

steve said...

Nice blog, Pete!

Peter F said...

Thank you