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Monday, December 28, 2009

Dave's Top Five Albums of the 00's

At several points in the last several years did I think the music scene was going to get better, but I was wrong, woefully wrong. Contemporary music has been getting worse throughout most of the decade, and generally it's been a crap decade for me overall. However, it seems things are getting better ever so slightly, what with the resurgence of synth music and all that. Given the largely depressing aura of the 'noughties', Let's hope this old school comeback stays for good.

There are, however, several notable albums to emerge during this soon-to-be-gone era. And without further ado, here they are.

1. Green Day - American Idiot (2004)

A punk rock masterpiece and their finest album to date, American Idiot is a future classic album that should be on par with the likes of Nevermind and Metallica. Sadly, there are actually people out there that think otherwise. A

2. The White Stripes - Elephant (2003)

Sounds simple muscially, but the lyrics tell another story. Unlike most contemporary rock artists, I really like these guys. The best alternative group since R.E.M. A

3. Ladyhawke - Ladyhawke (2008)

Retro-pop that sounds like modern pop should sound like, with the synthesizers blaring out 'old-school' and more climax than a Parisian orgy. A+

4. The Darkness - Permission to Land (2003)

Retro-styled rock 'n' roll with that horrible computer-designed album artwork. Def Leppard meets AC/DC meets Queen. And they pulled it off brilliantly. A-

5. Ozzy Osbourne - Black Rain (2007)

The Godfather of Heavy Metal returns triumphantly in this, his first sober album. The new sound works really well for him too, much to my surprise. A-

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Album Review: Black Sabbath - Sabbath Bloody Sabbath (1973)

Back in the 70s, stoners would get together at a good friend's house, armed with nothing but a handful of tinnies, a selection of heavy metal and hard rock records, and a bong. They'd all sit on the floor next to the wood-trimmed stereo hi-fi system - state of the art for those days, and still the case if you live in a country who's minimum wage is three peanuts and one moldy persimmon a week. They would then put on Pink Floyd, and for the next 30 minutes giggle pointlessly and philosophize on random topics until they got so stoned they couldn't remember the next word that would come out of their mouth. One of them would then drink the bong water, change the record to Black Sabbath's Paranoid, and another would break three front teeth and chip another two after subsequently trying to eat it.

Black Sabbath's 1973 album Sabbath Bloody Sabbath certainly doesn't taste like plastic, and you certainly wouldn't want to consume it, but it is tasty nonetheless, especially if you have a diverse heavy metal palette on your musical tongue. Not their greatest album either, but certainly one you would be proud to say you owned. And two of the songs are so good Metallica fused them together and put them on their Garage Inc. album from 1998, with very favorable results. "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath", the title track, is one of the greatest intro tracks to grace a metal album. "A National Acrobat" and "Sabbra Cadabra", the two tracks covered by Metallica, are forgotten classics that should be on any Sabbath playlist. or heavy metal playlist for that matter. "Fluff" is a delightful little acoustic number reminiscent of Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here", and "Who Are You?" is a pseudo-futuristic synth-heavy tune that despite the use of a synthesizer still avoids sounding out of place with the rest of the album. "Looking for Today" is the last and weakest track and would make the aforementioned stoner eat the record had it been the first track played.

All in all, this album is a notable one in the Black Sabbath discography that is often overlooked in favor of albums like Paranoid and their debut album Black Sabbath. But don't let that put you off listening to it. Try it, you'll like it. A-


Friday, December 11, 2009

Album Review: Bob Marley and The Wailers - Legend (1984)

"Greatest Hits" albums are some of the best things to come out of the music industry, in my opinion. If you're like me - broke and with an annual operating budget equivalent to that of Zimbabwe, or just tight as a fish's asshole with money, then one of these babies is a bargain. Or if you're reluctant to try new things because you don't know what they're going to be like, then again these suckers are right up your alley. But however, if you're constantly buying these types of albums and keep telling others 'so and so's latest best of compilation is just the cat's cornhole', then it probably gives them the impression you've got a music collection as great as the Rain Man's - very limited. And probably full of scratched records too, because Rain Man loves broken records.

However, were you to say Bob Marley & The Wailer's Legend is f***ing legendary in the middle of Kingston town, you'll instantly be elected prime minister and bathed in goat's milk, with a harem consisting of three toothless she-male prostitutes and the town bum. Because Bob was practically a national hero in Jamaica, and quite rightly so. Each song on this album with the exception of "I Shot The Sheriff" (Eric Clapton's version is better) brings out Marley's genius with the poetic proficiency of Lewis Carroll on the gravy stroke. Classics like "Buffalo Soldier", "Stir It Up" and "One Love" are guaranteed to turn your front lawn into a makeshift reggae festival, with lesser known (but just as good) tracks like "Waiting In Vain", "Exodus" and "Jamming" keeping your freeloading audience quiet. "Redemption Song" and "Get Up Stand Up" aren't so good as the others and will send some of them home faster than a psychopathic school principal with a bommy knocker who's forgotten to take his medication.

All up, this album is without a doubt the best hits compilation ever made. If you're a music snob, you should own this album. If you don't, you're not a music snob at all, in fact you know about as much about music as Helen Keller. A+