Since this is my small part of the Internet earth, I intend to use it to ward off evil and plant the seeds of goodness wherever I roam. I don't know what that means, but I read it off the back of some guy's car that also had a "Mean People Suck" bumper sticker on it, so I figure it's probably a good thing and likely to stem the tide of angry "this guy's an idiot" emails that usually populate my inbox.
Open up any music guide with stars or letter grades and you realize that aside from the biggest names who are guaranteed advanced placement and VIP status, the other musicians are at the whims of a bi-polar constituency that like you one minute for being "underrated" and then hate you the next for being "overrated," when, in fact, the musician in question has nothing to do with either. It's YOU who's doing the rating.
In an attempt to bring a little sunshine to this dark dreary box of earth, I've chosen five albums that people who like what I like will find quite enjoyable. And people who don't like what I like will continue to not enjoy.
And for the record, I, too, enjoy long walks on the beach, candlelight dinners, and dogs named Winston humping my leg.
This is a true story. I reviewed this album for Rolling Stone when it came out in 1992. I really liked it. I wrote down four and a half stars at the top of the review, figuring they wouldn't go to five and I wasn't quite sure if I'd feel the same way in the morning anyhow. The review ran but the rating was dropped to three and a half. When I asked the editor how this injustice could possibly have happened, he chuckled and told me that no Tom Waits album would receive more than three and a half stars on his watch. Waits' next album, The Black Rider, received four and now when I go back and check the website I discover my review now has four stars to it. Maybe in another ten years it'll make it to five!
Another true story. I also reviewed this album for Rolling Stone and again tried to get closer to five stars and got knocked down to three and a half. They must've decided that I was clearly the "three-and-a-half star reviewer." And, again, I go to the website and see that it's now a four star album! Wow! It's as if everything I review just keeps improving, while I'm still stuck in the same mire of mediocrity. I suck.
A concept album about Elvis, Jesse James, the girls in Abba, God, and any number of quirky ideas that crossed the path of its creator, the aptly named Paddy McAloon, I reviewed this for a mag that assigned traffic lights and this one got a green. Which I think is putting it mildly. This album is so good it should be allowed to make a right on red!
Before I blow a vein over the injustices of my life, let's get to some albums that I didn't review the first time they came out. These days everyone is either inspired by or sounds like Nick Drake. But the first time around people were busy buying albums by people they're not inspired by anymore. What this means to future generations I can only ponder. But if I were Lance Bass, I would be very concerned.
I have regular readers who complain that I don't mention the "tenets of Americana" often enough. Sometimes, I feel like I'm working the complaint window at a dollar store. You buy your birth control at a "Buck-in-Hand-Palace,' you get the baby you deserve! What do you expect for a buck? Anyhow, this album is one of those classics that everyone tries to emulate and fails miserably. But the upshot is that even if you do it miserably, you've got a better shot at being inducted into the Rock N' Roll Hall of Fame. Because life is weird that way.