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Posts Tagged ‘500 Greatest Albums’

We have finally reached the number 1 in Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of the 500 greatest albums. It shouldn’t come as any surprise to anyone that the number 1 is “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” by The Beatles. Not just because I have already mentioned several times that it is number 1, but also because this album always comes out number 1 in any list of the greatest albums. It was number 1 in the list I saw in The Observer newspaper when I was a teenager, and it is number 1 in every list I have seen since then. Why?

I am probably not the best person to answer than. In fact, I know I’m not! It is not my favourite album, it is not even my favourite Beatles album, I prefer “Revolver” and “Abbey Road”. But, it does have one of the most incredible Beatles songs to finish it, the spellbinding “A Day in the Life”, and any album which can close with such an amazing song has to be a pretty good album.

I was only three when this album came out, so of course I don’t remember the impact it had. But, from what I have read and heard it had a seismic, impact unlike any album released before or since, by anyone. This is why, I think, it comes out top in all the polls of the greatest album ever. It was just like nothing anyone had heard before, presented in a way that no-one had ever seen before.

From the sumptuous cover (which started a whole trend in sumptuous album covers) to the lyrics on the back (something which had never been done before) to the gate-way sleeve (something that had never been done before for a single album) to the time it took to record (months and months and months, whereas The Beatles’ entire first album “Please Please Me” was recorded in some 12 hours!), to the complex sounds enmeshed in each and every song, this album was as groundbreaking as it gets.

For me, there are too many songs I don’t like much for me to consider this one of my favourite albums. That is why I rank it below “Revolver” and “Abbey Road” in my list of Beatles albums I most like to listen to. But, there was nothing particularly groundbreaking about “Abbey Road”, and whereas “Revolver” does have some groundbreaking songs, it is not as replete with them as S”gt. Pepper”.

So, there we have it, the greatest album of all time, according to Rolling Stone magazine, and pretty much every other list compiled by anyone, is “Sgt. Pepper”. But, is it your favourite? What do you think is the greatest album ever made? Do you agree with this list?



At number 1 in Rolling Stone Magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums is "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" by The Beatles.

At number 1 in Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of the 500 greatest albums is “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” by The Beatles.



The song I thought I would share from this album is, no surprises, “A Day in the Life”, John Lennon’s masterpiece (with a cheeky middle eight from Paul McCartney). This song has been voted the best Beatles song ever. It is certainly one of my favourites. Enjoy!





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At number 2 in Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of the 500 greatest albums is “Pet Sounds” by The Beach Boys. I remember the first list I ever saw of “the best albums” in The Observer newspaper back in the late 1970s when I was about 14 or 15. I remember that this album was either number 2 or number 3 in that list (with Bob Dylan’s “Blonde on Blonde” being the other album which was either 2 or 3). Although I like the Beach Boys, I have to admit that I have never been much of a fan of this album. I just cannot get into it, groundbreaking though it may have been in its harmonies.



At number 2 in Rolling Stone Magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums is "Pet Sounds" by The Beach Boys.

At number 2 in Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of the 500 greatest albums is “Pet Sounds” by The Beach Boys.



There are four songs I like very much on this album, “Wouldn’t It Be Nice?”, “Sloop John B”, “God Only Knows” (which I blogged about here) and “Caroline, No”, but I am not much of a fan of most of the others. I can’t explain it, as I appreciate the harmonies in the songs, and the complex musical arrangements, but for some reason these other songs just don’t do it for me. I feel I should like this album more as it is so highly rated, but there you go, I don’t.

I have already shared “God Only Knows”, so today I thought I would share “Sloop John B”. For some reason, this song became the default song for rugby teams when I was in my teens; so any away match we played, we would sing this on the bus both going and coming back. What a dubious honour for a song!


We come on the Sloop John B
My grandfather and me
Around Nassau town we did roam
Drinking all night
Got into a fight
Well I feel so broke up
I want to go home

So hoist up the John B’s sail
See how the main sail sets
Call for the Captain ashore
Let me go home, let me go home
I want to go home, yeah yeah
Well I feel so broke up
I want to go home

The first mate he got drunk
And broke in the Cap’n’s trunk
The constable had to come and take him away
Sheriff John Stone
Why don’t you leave me alone, yeah yeah
Well I feel so broke up, I want to go home

So hoist up the John B’s sail
See how the main sail sets
Call for the Captain ashore
Let me go home, let me go home
I want to go home, let me go home
Why don’t you let me go home
(Hoist up the John B’s sail)
Hoist up the John B
I feel so broke up I want to go home
Let me go home

The poor cook he caught the fits
And threw away all my grits
And then he took and he ate up all of my corn
Let me go home
Why don’t they let me go home
This is the worst trip I’ve ever been on

So hoist up the John B’s sail
See how the main sail sets
Call for the Captain ashore
Let me go home, let me go home
I want to go home, let me go home
Why don’t you let me go home


Here is a video of “Sloop John B”. Enjoy!






Which is your favourite song on “Pet Sounds”?

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At number 3 in Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of the 500 greatest albums is “Revolver” by The Beatles. As I said in my blog about “Abbey Road”, the last album that The Beatles recorded, “Revolver” is my favourite Beatles’ album. To me, this album is simply perfection, there is not a weak song on it. Even the McCartney songs are amongst his best, with songs like the groovy “Gotta Get You Into My Life”, the sublime “Eleanor Rigby” and the beautiful “Here, There and Everywhere”. This is McCartney at the top of his game.



At number 3 in Rolling Stone Magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums is "Revolver" by The Beatles.

At number 3 in Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of the 500 greatest albums is “Revolver” by The Beatles.



There are three songs by George Harrison on “Revolver”, the first of which, “Taxman” opens the album, something Harrison had not been granted before. One of his other songs on this album is the Indian-music infused “Love You Too”, which is my favourite Indian-influenced song by him. Of the 14 tracks on the album, three were written and sung by Harrison, one Lennon & McCartney song is sung by Ringo – the kids’ favourite “Yellow Submarine” (the first Beatles song I ever remember hearing), 5 songs have McCartney on lead vocal, and 5 have Lennon on lead vocal. Unlike its predecessor, “Rubber Soul”, there is much less two or three-part harmonies on “Revolver”, an indication that the band were going more and more their separate ways.

My favourite songs on this album are the Lennon songs. In particular the incredible “Tomorrow Never Knows”, the Beatles’ first foray into psychedelic music. It is a mesmerising song with surreal lyrics and a complex soundscape which involved hours and hours of work in the studio by the band and their producer George Martin. “I’m Only Sleeping” speaks of Lennon’s insomnia, and “She Said She Said” came from a phrase that actor Peter Fonda apparently kept whispering in his ear at a party – “I know what it’s like to be dead”.

For me, albums don’t get any better than this one. This is the best that there is, bar none!

I thought I would share the opening track with you, George Harrison’s “Taxman”, his swipe at Government taking 95% (yes, ninety five percent) of their income in the mid 1960s. The “Mr. Wilson” and “Mr. Heath” in the lyrics below refer to Harold Wilson, the then British Prime Minister, and Edward Heath, who was leader of the opposition Conservative party at this time.


(1,2,3,4

Hrmm!

1,2…

1,2,3,4.)

Let me tell you how it will be
There’s one for you, nineteen for me
Cos I’m the taxman, yeah, I’m the taxman

Should five per cent appear too small
Be thankful I don’t take it all
Cos I’m the taxman, yeah I’m the taxman

If you drive a car, I’ll tax the street
If you try to sit, I’ll tax your seat
If you get too cold I’ll tax the heat
If you take a walk, I’ll tax your feet

Taxman!
Cos I’m the taxman, yeah I’m the taxman

Don’t ask me what I want it for (Aahh Mr. Wilson)
If you don’t want to pay some more (Aahh Mr. Heath)
Cos I’m the taxman, yeah, I’m the taxman

Now my advice for those who die
Declare the pennies on your eyes
Cos I’m the taxman, yeah, I’m the taxman

And you’re working for no one but me
Taxman!


Here is a YouTube video of the song. Enjoy!





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At number 4 in Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of the 500 greatest albums is “Highway 61 Revisited” by Bob Dylan. This album, released in 1965, is one of two albums Dylan has in the Top 10, the other one being Blonde on Blonde, his 1966 double album which is at number 9. I think I’ve mentioned this before, but it was a list of the best albums in The Observer newspaper when I was about 14 or 15 which first prompted me to buy a Dylan album – “Blonde on Blonde” was listed as number 2 or 3 (I forget which), with “Highway 61 Revisited” also in the Top 10. The only thing that has changed in the over 30 years since that list is that now, “Highway 61 Revisited” is rated higher than “Blonde on Blonde”, but I’m not sure which one I rate higher in my personal list.



At number 4 in Rolling Stone Magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums is "Highway 61 Revisited" by Bob Dylan

At number 4 in Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of the 500 greatest albums is “Highway 61 Revisited” by Bob Dylan



Both are exceptional albums, as is Dylan’s third album of his mid-60s trilogy, “Bringing it all Back Home” (also released in 1965). The three albums together represent, for me, the peak of Dylan’s 1960s music. This album, “Highway 61 Revisited”, has some absolutely stunning songs on it. I do not like every song on this album, but the ones I do like I adore. My favourites are, in no particular order, “Ballad of a Thin Man”, “Queen Jane Approximately”, “Highway 61 Revisited”, Like a Rolling Stone (rated as not only Dylan’s greatest song but the greatest rock ‘n’ roll song of all time), and the incredible “Desolation Row”, which carries on for over 11 minutes, a length unheard of before in rock ‘n’ roll songs.


They’re selling postcards of the hanging
They’re painting the passports brown
The beauty parlor is filled with sailors
The circus is in town
Here comes the blind commissioner
They’ve got him in a trance
One hand is tied to the tight-rope walker
The other is in his pants
And the riot squad they’re restless
They need somewhere to go
As Lady and I look out tonight
From Desolation Row

Cinderella, she seems so easy
“It takes one to know one,” she smiles
And puts her hands in her back pockets
Bette Davis style
And in comes Romeo, he’s moaning
“You Belong to Me I Believe”
And someone says, “You’re in the wrong place my friend
You better leave”
And the only sound that’s left
After the ambulances go
Is Cinderella sweeping up
On Desolation Row

Now the moon is almost hidden
The stars are beginning to hide
The fortune-telling lady
Has even taken all her things inside
All except for Cain and Abel
And the hunchback of Notre Dame
Everybody is making love
Or else expecting rain
And the Good Samaritan, he’s dressing
He’s getting ready for the show
He’s going to the carnival tonight
On Desolation Row

Now Ophelia, she’s ’neath the window
For her I feel so afraid
On her twenty-second birthday
She already is an old maid
To her, death is quite romantic
She wears an iron vest
Her profession’s her religion
Her sin is her lifelessness
And though her eyes are fixed upon
Noah’s great rainbow
She spends her time peeking
Into Desolation Row

Einstein, disguised as Robin Hood
With his memories in a trunk
Passed this way an hour ago
With his friend, a jealous monk
He looked so immaculately frightful
As he bummed a cigarette
Then he went off sniffing drainpipes
And reciting the alphabet
Now you would not think to look at him
But he was famous long ago
For playing the electric violin
On Desolation Row

Dr. Filth, he keeps his world
Inside of a leather cup
But all his sexless patients
They’re trying to blow it up
Now his nurse, some local loser
She’s in charge of the cyanide hole
And she also keeps the cards that read
“Have Mercy on His Soul”
They all play on pennywhistles
You can hear them blow
If you lean your head out far enough
From Desolation Row

Across the street they’ve nailed the curtains
They’re getting ready for the feast
The Phantom of the Opera
A perfect image of a priest
They’re spoonfeeding Casanova
To get him to feel more assured
Then they’ll kill him with self-confidence
After poisoning him with words
And the Phantom’s shouting to skinny girls
“Get Outa Here If You Don’t Know
Casanova is just being punished for going
To Desolation Row”

Now at midnight all the agents
And the superhuman crew
Come out and round up everyone
That knows more than they do
Then they bring them to the factory
Where the heart-attack machine
Is strapped across their shoulders
And then the kerosene
Is brought down from the castles
By insurance men who go
Check to see that nobody is escaping
To Desolation Row

Praise be to Nero’s Neptune
The Titanic sails at dawn
And everybody’s shouting
“Which Side Are You On?”
And Ezra Pound and T. S. Eliot
Fighting in the captain’s tower
While calypso singers laugh at them
And fishermen hold flowers
Between the windows of the sea
Where lovely mermaids flow
And nobody has to think too much
About Desolation Row

Yes, I received your letter yesterday
(About the time the doorknob broke)
When you asked how I was doing
Was that some kind of joke?
All these people that you mention
Yes, I know them, they’re quite lame
I had to rearrange their faces
And give them all another name
Right now I can’t read too good
Don’t send me no more letters, no
Not unless you mail them
From Desolation Row



The link to the lyrics for this stunning song on Bob Dylan’s official website is here, where you can also find short audio clips of the studio version on this album, as well as three alternative versions.

Here is a YouTube video of Dylan performing the song at his “Royal Albert Hall” concert in 1966 (the concert was actually in Manchester). How long the link will stay working I have no idea, so listen whilst you can. Enjoy!






Which is your favourite song on “Highway 61 Revisited”?

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It’s been quite a while since I last posted my countdown of the top 30 albums in Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. The last post I did was on number 6 in the list, Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On”, and that post was done in November of last year! So, time to resume with the top 5 in the list.

At number 5 in Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time is “Rubber Soul” by The Beatles. The Beatles released this album in 1965, it is between “Help” and “Revolver” in their discography. It is one of my favourite Beatles albums, with such amazing songs as “Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)”, “In My Life” and the funky “Drive My Car”.



At number 5 in Rolling Stone Magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums is "Rubber Soul" by The Beatles.

At number 5 in Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of the 500 greatest albums is “Rubber Soul” by The Beatles.




“Rubber Soul” also has more songs with Lennon and McCartney duetting than did its predecessor “Help”. There are also two songs – “Nowhere Man” and “The Word” where we have wonderful 3-part harmonies from Lennon, McCartney and Harrison, something not heard on a Beatles album since the 1964 “Beatles For Sale”.

The song I have decided to include with this blog is “The Word”, as I figured it is one of their less well known songs. Enjoy!






Which is your favourite song on “Rubber Soul”?

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As long-time readers of my blog (all two of you) will know, in 2013 I was counting down the top 30 in Rolling Stone Magazine’s “500 greatest albums” list. I started with number 30 – Joni Mitchell’s album “Blue” in April 2013. However, in November, when I reached number 6, Marvin Gaye’s ‘What’s Going On” I took a diversion and started listing the albums from 500 to 341 in batches of ten. Well, although I plan to return to listing the lower-down albums in batches of ten, I think it is high time I resumed the countdown of the top 30 with numbers 5 to 1. After all, nearly a year has now passed since I blogged about the number 6 – “What’s Going On”.

So, next week I will recommence the countdown, and my plan is to post a blog about number 5 through to number 1 each Wednesday over the next 5 weeks. But, today I will recap the top 30, so that newer readers of my blog can read the blogs I wrote about them if they wish. Here is the list so far, with the link to my blogpost about each album.

As I usually include a music video with each of these “music blogs”, I thought I would include a song I have not blogged about before from one of these albums, namely “Working Class Hero”, John Lennon’s amazing song from his album “Plastic Ono Band”, which is at number 23 in this list. Here are the lyrics.


As soon as your born they make you feel small
by giving you no time instead of it all
Till the pain is so big you feel nothing at all
Working Class Hero is something to be
Working Class Hero is something to be

They hurt you at home and they hit you at school
They hate you if you’re clever and despise a fool
Till you’re so fucking crazy you can’t follow their rules
Working Class Hero is something to be
Working Class Hero is something to be

When they’ve tortured and scared you for 20 odd years
then they expect you to pick a career
When you can’t really function you’re so full of fear
Working Class Hero is something to be
Working Class Hero is something to be

Keep you doped with religion, sex and T.V.
and you think you’re so clever and classless and free
but you’re still fucking peasants as far as I can see
Working Class Hero is something to be
Working Class Hero is something to be

There’s room at the top I’m telling you still
but first you must learn how to smile as you kill
if you want to be like the folks on the hill
Working Class Hero is something to be

Yes , A Working Class Hero is something to be
If you want to be a hero well just follow me
If you want to be a hero well just follow me



In the DVD about this albums in the Classic Albums series, Lennon mentions that the record company (EMI) tried to get him to change the word “fucking”, which appears twice in the song, to something less offensive. Lennon refused, but compromised in the lyrics which appeared on the album’s sleeve notes with a censored “fu**ing”.

Here is the official video of the song, put together when the song was digitally remastered a few years ago. Enjoy!



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At number 3 in Rolling Stone Magazine’s 10 best Bob Dylan songs is his 1975 song “Tangled up in Blue”. The song appears on “Blood on the Tracks”, which is one of my favourite Dylan albums, I blogged about that fantastic album here. The album is listed at number 16 in Rolling Stone’s 500 greatest albums. “Tangled up in Blue” is the opening track on “Blood on the Tracks”, and it sets the tone for this album which is full of songs about heartbreak and loss.



At number 3 in Rolling Stone Magazine's 10 greatest Bob Dylan songs is "Tangled Up In Blue"

At number 3 in Rolling Stone Magazine’s 10 greatest Bob Dylan songs is “Tangled Up In Blue”



“Tangled up in Blue” is an epic journey through Dylan’s relationship with his then-estranged wife Sarah, from their meeting to their separation. However, Dylan is telling a story here, so not all the imagery he creates in this amazing song is factual. The lyrics below are from Bob Dylan’s official website, and the page also contains an audio clip of the original version of this song, as well as several alternative versions.


Early one mornin’ the sun was shinin’
I was layin’ in bed
Wond’rin’ if she’d changed at all
If her hair was still red
Her folks they said our lives together
Sure was gonna be rough
They never did like Mama’s homemade dress
Papa’s bankbook wasn’t big enough
And I was standin’ on the side of the road
Rain fallin’ on my shoes
Heading out for the East Coast
Lord knows I’ve paid some dues gettin’ through
Tangled up in blue

She was married when we first met
Soon to be divorced
I helped her out of a jam, I guess
But I used a little too much force
We drove that car as far as we could
Abandoned it out West
Split up on a dark sad night
Both agreeing it was best
She turned around to look at me
As I was walkin’ away
I heard her say over my shoulder
“We’ll meet again someday on the avenue”
Tangled up in blue

I had a job in the great north woods
Working as a cook for a spell
But I never did like it all that much
And one day the ax just fell
So I drifted down to New Orleans
Where I happened to be employed
Workin’ for a while on a fishin’ boat
Right outside of Delacroix
But all the while I was alone
The past was close behind
I seen a lot of women
But she never escaped my mind, and I just grew
Tangled up in blue

She was workin’ in a topless place
And I stopped in for a beer
I just kept lookin’ at the side of her face
In the spotlight so clear
And later on as the crowd thinned out
I’s just about to do the same
She was standing there in back of my chair
Said to me, “Don’t I know your name?”
I muttered somethin’ underneath my breath
She studied the lines on my face
I must admit I felt a little uneasy
When she bent down to tie the laces of my shoe
Tangled up in blue

She lit a burner on the stove
And offered me a pipe
“I thought you’d never say hello,” she said
“You look like the silent type”
Then she opened up a book of poems
And handed it to me
Written by an Italian poet
From the thirteenth century
And every one of them words rang true
And glowed like burnin’ coal
Pourin’ off of every page
Like it was written in my soul from me to you
Tangled up in blue

I lived with them on Montague Street
In a basement down the stairs
There was music in the cafés at night
And revolution in the air
Then he started into dealing with slaves
And something inside of him died
She had to sell everything she owned
And froze up inside
And when finally the bottom fell out
I became withdrawn
The only thing I knew how to do
Was to keep on keepin’ on like a bird that flew
Tangled up in blue

So now I’m goin’ back again
I got to get to her somehow
All the people we used to know
They’re an illusion to me now
Some are mathematicians
Some are carpenters’ wives
Don’t know how it all got started
I don’t know what they’re doin’ with their lives
But me, I’m still on the road
Headin’ for another joint
We always did feel the same
We just saw it from a different point of view
Tangled up in blue


I have found a live version of this song. Although I do not like this live version as much as the original studio version, the original studio version is not available on YouTube. Enjoy!





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