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Sunday, September 20, 2009

My Favorite 50 Albums of the Decade

My Favorite 50 Albums of the Decade, 9/20/09

Thanks to a Facebook invitation, I’m compelled to engage in one of the most inane and narcissistic endeavors – the compilation of a personal favorites list – and not a moment too soon – there’s barely 100 days left in the decade. Of course, I have a whole website (Davesmusicdatabase.com) devoted to music lists, but I’ve convinced myself that throwing in the occasional personal favorites list amongst bigger and more important lists passes for acceptable. A list entitled “The Biggest Selling Albums of All Time” just seems to carry more import than one called “The Best 50 Albums of the Decade – According to Me.”

It is hard to imagine why anyone would care what my #12 album is from the last 9 years and 9 months, so I won’t delude myself that the world is waiting with baited breath. It comes down to this – I just love music lists. I was drawn in to music charts and countdowns in my pre-teen years and my interest has yet to wane.

If you’ve read this far, I’ll assume you are mildly interested in my list – maybe not #49, but you might want to check out my top few faves. I’ll take this as a misguided sign that I can test your patience a bit more and offer some insights into my tastes of the past decade. If you’ve had enough already, you can scroll to the list below or just close this monster up and roll your eyes at my obsession. It’s not like I’ll know the difference.
First, there’s just no denying what drives tastes. I’m still enamored with the same acts I liked 25 years ago – and I won’t apologize for their decidedly mainstream leanings. I will, however, attempt to prop up my rep by saying my listening pleasures gravitate toward “intelligent pop” – what is largely referred to today as triple A or adult alternative music. What can I say – I fit perfectly into the demographic.

Unlike some of my forty-something peers, it isn’t that I can’t name a new band from the last quarter century – I’ll get to my discoveries in a minute – but like memories of long ago crushes, the albums from one’s youth just won’t go away. Hence my love of Marillion’s Misplaced Childhood (my favorite album of any era), Bruce Springsteen’s Born in the U.S.A. or U2’s The Joshua Tree hold lingering effects – those acts all register in my top 10 two decades after releasing what I consider their masterworks.

At least those acts and others such as John Mellencamp, Tori Amos, and Fish have steadily pumped out new product for 20 years or more. Others haven’t been quite so prolific. Amongst acts like the Hooters, Crowded House, the Eagles, Toni Childs, Tears for Fears, Guns N’ Roses, and the Who, the most recent pre-2000 release of new material was 1995. Not only had all those acts had at least nine year droughts since their last releases, but the well has dried up again since. The “one and done” comeback trend. Sigh.

My list isn’t devoid of new music, but the new stuff largely rehashes tastes I’ve had for years. The White Stripes, the Strokes, the Hives, and the Vines are all a return to the garage rock ethos of the ‘60s and ‘70s. The Killers, Franz Ferdinand, and Scissor Sisters recall the dance-oriented new wave stuff of the early ‘80s.Finally, I have to give props to the Tuesday Night Music Club. This may click for people as the name of Sheryl Crow’s 1993 debut (and indeed she makes the cut here with Detours), but I’m referring to the collective behind it. In a much publicized spat at the time, Crow took credit for music that had been created by the most underrated supergroup that ever wasn’t. Amongst that talent was Kevin Gilbert, whose posthumous Shaming of the True claims my top spot on this list, Gilbert’s Kaviar project, and David Baerwald. Believe me, this list would be saturated with their contributions if only there were more. Sadly, KG died in 1996 and Baerwald all but retired from the music industry by the close of the ‘90s. What does show up on this list are retreads of their mostly ‘90s work, but the official release dates qualifies them for this list.

Well, I’ve blabbered enough. Here’s the list. Roll those eyes, scratch your heads in puzzlement, and stare in disbelief. Then, just maybe, give a few albums on this list a spin. You’ve still got time to make it one of your favorites of the decade! Click on the links below to read more extensive reviews at Davesmusicdatabase.com.

1. Kevin Gilbert The Shaming of the True (2000)
2. Bruce Springsteen The Rising (2002)
3. Hooters Time Stand Still (2007)
4. Crowded House Time on Earth (2007)
5. The Finn Brothers Everyone Is Here (2004)
6. Eagles Long Road Out of Eden (2007)
7. Marillion Marbles (2004)
8. Tori Amos Strange Little Girls (2001)
9. U2 How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb (2004)
10. Bruce Springsteen Magic (2007)
11. David Baerwald Here Comes the New Folk Underground (2002)
12. John Mellencamp Life, Death, Love & Freedom (2008)
13. U2 All That You Can’t Leave Behind (2000)
14. Toni Childs Keep the Faith (2008)
15. Dennis DeYoung One Hundred Years from Now (2007)
16. Uncle Devil Show A Terrible Beauty (2004)
17. Bob Walkenhorst The Beginner (2003)
18. Styx Big Bang Theory (2005)
19. The White Stripes Elephant (2003)
20. The Strokes Is This It (2001)
21. Green Day American Idiot (2004)
22. Mika Life in Cartoon Motion (2007)
23. The White Stripes White Blood Cells (2001)
24. Kevin Gilbert/Kaviar The Kaviar Sessions (2002)
25. Tears for Fears Everybody Loves a Happy Ending (2004)
26. Keb’ Mo’ Peace - Back by Popular Demand (2004)
27. Lyle Lovett My Baby Don’t Tolerate (2003)
28. Amy Winehouse Back to Black (2006)
29. Styx Cylcorama (2003)
30. The Killers Hot Fuss (2004)
31. Sheryl Crow Detours (2008)
32. The Who Endless Wire (2006)
33. John Mellencamp Freedom’s Road (2007)
34. Fish Field of Crows (2004)
35. Glenn Tilbrook Transatlantic Ping Pong (2004)
36. Franz Ferdinand Franz Ferdinand (2004)
37. Ray Charles Genius Loves Company (2004)
38. Guns N’ Roses Chinese Democracy (2008)
39. Green Day 21st Century Breakdown (2009)
40. U2 No Line on the Horizon (2009)
41. Johnny Cash American IV: The Man Comes Around (2002)
42. Scissor Sisters Scissor Sisters (2004)
43. The Vines Highly Evolved (2002)
44. Arctic Monkeys Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not (2006)
45. The Flaming Lips Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots (2002)
46. Eddie Vedder Into the Wild (2007)
47. Eric Clapton/B.B. King Riding with the King (2000)
48. Del Amitri Can You Do Me Good? (2002)
49. The Hives Veni Vidi Vicious (2000)
50. Eric Woolfson The Alan Parsons Project That Never Was (2009)

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Confessions of a Non-Audiophile

In light of the much-celebrated remastered versions of the Beatles discography out today, I must make a confession that could ruin any chance I have at respectability in the music community. It’s not something I’m proud of, but it is time to come clean.

I am not an audiophile.

Whew! That feels good to get that out, even if it means ridicule and scorn are destined to come my way. I know, I know. Any serious critic of music should be able to tout big statements like “the violins on ‘Eleanor Rigby’ are crisper on the remastered Revolver than ever before” or “the sound is so natural that you’ll feel like you were in Abbey Road Studios while the Beatles were recording.” I’m lucky if I can correctly pick “A” or “B” in a multiple choice test of “Identify the Newer Version.”

My affliction with sub-par sound goes back to my first experiences with music. In my elementary school days, I listened to music I’d recorded off the radio via a hand-held tape recorder shoved in front of a stereo speaker. For years, I didn’t know what the ending of Billy Joel’s “My Life” sounded like because I’d cut the song off early to cancel out the DJ chatter.

Of course, the transgressions of youth might be overlooked if I redeemed my mediocre ways in later years. Alas, when I tramped off to college, it was with crates full of cassettes and merely a ghetto blaster on which to play them.

When I’d overcome “poor college student” status, my music expenditures were predominantly on the music itself and rarely on the means by which to play it. So even while my CD collection grew to a four-digit number, my stereo never went beyond a three-digit price tag.

At one point, I ironically subscribed to Stereo Review, but only for the album reviews and even then I dismissed their recording quality ratings as irrelevant.

Even now, I am perfectly happy listening to my MP3’s on my computer while the stereo sits idle in anticipation of the occasional swish of the dust rag.

Perhaps the blame lies in my failure to learn an instrument. I was one of those grade schoolers for whom even the recorder was beyond my capabilities. I never grasped that when playing the violin, you were NOT supposed to saw away on all the strings at once.

Maybe it’s a hereditary thing. My mom likes show tunes but my dad proclaims marches to be his favorite kind of music. There really isn’t, to my knowledge, an audiophile contingent devoted to marches.

It could be my complete lack of rhythm. There’s no quicker way to make me feel like the dumbest person in the room than formal dance. Left foot here, right foot there…I need a GPS to navigate even the simplest of dance steps.

For those whose lingo is peppered with words like “woofer” and “tweeter,” it must be incomprehensible that I could enjoy listening to music so much, but at such low quality. Enroll me in AAA (Anti-Audiophiles Anonymous) or some other twelve-step program. I admit it - I have a problem and need help! Listen to my pleas carefully, though; they won't come through as loud and clear as your refined ears are used to.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Train charts with "Hey, Soul Sister": September 5, 2009

Originally posted September 5, 2011.



The group Train hadn’t had a hit in the U.S. in five years when they released “Hey, Soul Sister” as the debut single for their fifth album. In the UK, they hadn’t charted since 2001. The song became Columbia Records’ most downloaded song and is the eight most downloaded song in history. WK This lands the song on the DMDB’s list of the top 100 best-selling songs in the world.

The song also topped the charts in sixteen countries. WK Surprisingly, even with its massive sales in the U.S., it only peaked at #3. However, it stayed atop the adult contemporary charts for 22 weeks, making it one of the top 100 adult contemporary songs of all time according to Dave’s Music Database. The DMDB also rates it as one the top 100 songs of the 21st century.

The lyrics are about “a woman who’s got all the right moves.” SF Train’s lead singer and songwriter, Pat Monahan, was inspired by Burning Man, an annual event in the Nevada desert in which a wooden man is burned at the end of the festival and everyone dances around it naked. He had never been, but imagined beautiful women dancing around the fire. WK

He collaborated on the track with Espionage, a Norwegian production duo comprised of Espen Lind and Amund Bjørklund. Previous writing credits included Beyoncé’s “Irreplaceable” and Chris Brown’s “With You”. SF Monahan told the pair he wanted an INXS-style song, but after getting down the melody and singing it, decided it didn’t sound right. Espen tried it out with ukulele and Monahan, while initially reluctant, decided the approach “made my words dance.” WK He has also said that the use of the ukulele “made everybody happy…people gravitate towards that positive part of it.” SF




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