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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Album Review: Rod Stewart - Tonight I'm Yours (1981)

Tonight I'm Yours, Rod Stewart's album from 1981 flies in the face of everything I've expected from Rod Stewart.  Most songs of his that I know of (I'm no expert on his music, but  I know enough to say that he makes great music) tend to be of a slower, more mellow tempo (with the exception of "Young Turks", which comes from this particular album), and despite my preference for a fast song, I'm highly amicable toward all of them.  This album changes all of that (not my amiability, of course!), introducing a number of fast-paced tracks, three of which are "just the bee's knees", including the better known "Young Turks", which I rank as one of Rod's best.  "Tonight, I'm Yours" is a fantastic little number, and "Tora, Tora, Tora" is just as quick too.  All three of those songs together form a quintessential trinity that make for priority listening if you are looking for choice cuts to listen to first before actually delving into the rest of the album.  And of course, not every song is a musical speedball.  Some are actually cover versions - "How Long" by Paul Carrack and "Just Like a Woman" by Bob Dylan for example.  To sum it up briefly, the album sounds motivated, and of course, good.  Check it out some time.  B+

Friday, October 14, 2016

Michael Jackson - Thriller (1982)

Michael Jackson danced like a one-legged sparrow having a fit on an electric fence.  But that's a very good thing.  Fast, spontaneous, improvized and electrifying, Jackson is one of history's greatest entertainers for a reason.  And at the peak of his career, prior to the kiddy-fiddling accusations and his general decline into even deeper eccentricity and obscurity, he was the best in the business.  The world hadn't seen a pop star like him.  Even when his more eccentric proclivities became more and more public, in death he was remembered for the megastar he really was.  And that's how he should be remembered, really.  His breakthrough album, Thriller, sold countless millions of records and is still the best selling album in all history.  I personally grew up on his Bad material, and I personally prefer that album myself to this one.  But there's good songs here aplenty too, as you should expect from the best-selling album in history.  "Billie Jean", "Beat It", "Thriller."  Those are the staple classics here.  But "Human Nature" and "Pretty Young Thing" are good enough to be played more than ten times as well.  Not my favorite Jacko album, but still a very good album nonetheless.  A-

Album Review: Black Sabbath - Paranoid (1970)

I love Black Sabbath more than I let on, even to myself.  After all, they practically pioneered the heavy metal genre, and of course, without them Ozzy Osbourne wouldn't have the successful solo career that he has enjoyed, and certainly not the mainstream television celebrity status without them.  They took blues music and made it considerably less blue and more angry and motivated.  And of course, more enjoyable and palatable.  Their second album from 1970, Paranoid, is without a doubt their magnum opus and contains some of their more iconic tracks, from "War Pigs" to the trippy "Planet Caravan", and of course, the famous, "Iron Man."  "Paranoid" is the best known track from this record, but despite being a great song it certainly isn't the greatest. I would reserve that honor for either "War Pigs" or "Electric Funeral."  And I love the novelty of such tracks such as "Iron Man" "Planet Caravan" and the drumming masterpiece, "Rat Salad."  Everybody who loves heavy metal owes a debt of gratitude to this band, and to this album.  I for one, am sure as hell grateful.  A-