Nightman Listens To – Simon & Garfunkel – Bookends (Top 1000 Albums Series)

When I started writing this series of Listens To! posts, my idea was to:

A: Listen to the tonnes of albums I have acquired over the years that I hadn’t bothered to actually listen to yet and give my thoughts as I listened for the first time.

B: Catch up on those artists that I was aware of/liked certain songs by, but whose albums I had never listened to in their entirety.

C: Potentially get some new favourites based off what I heard or by recommendations from my billions of readers.

D: Because there are a tonne of albums which always appear on best of lists which I have never heard. As a musician, music fan, and human with working ears, I feel that I should give these a go.

To get some focus, I decided to go to 2000 Edition of ‘Colin Larkin’s All Time Top 1000 Albums’ because it looks fairly comprehensive (and there are a few extra sections listing top 100 albums by genre which cover selections left out of the main 1000 which I will also try to cover).

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There’s a vast swath of music you, but more specifically I, have never and will never listen to. Each of us who claim to be genuine lovers of music will know of certain artists and albums, and know that we should listen to them, but haven’t and may never; that is ostensibly the purpose of these posts. For me, a lot of what most critics deem as the most important and best music of the 20th Century comes from the mid 60s – mid 70s US. My base knowledge has always been from the same period, but from Britain – Beatles, Floyd, Zeppelin, Who etc, while my general love of US music comes from later periods. That means that artists such as Bob Dylan and Simon and Garfunkel have always passed me by. I know the hits, I know who they are and what they do, but not specific albums in full. I like to say I’m a US folk fan, but really Joni Mitchell is currently the only person I can claim to be knowledgeable about (and her styles changes frequently and drastically). I can say that the songs I know of from S and G I have enjoyed, but nothing has made me seek out more beyond simply thinking ‘I should listen to more of their stuff’. It changes now!

What Do I Know About Simon & Garfunkel: A folk-loving pair, known for their songs of love, loss, and rebellion, their harmonies, melodies, and hair. Lots of big selling hits everyone knows and loves.

What Do I Know About Bookends: Nothing… I don’t think I’ve even heard of it before looking at Larkin’s list. Looking down the tracklist I recognise two songs – one of their biggest, and one which The Bangles covered.

Bookends Theme: Plinky plonky acoustic guitars. A very short track always makes me think that the album is going to be a concept album. This is too short to really go anywhere.

Save The Life Of My Child: Loud throb followed by Irish style jig rhythm. Lots of stuff going on here, backing howls and vocals, whip cracks, and other effects. The guitars and vocals seem to be drowned out by all the extras. Heavier and more experimental than I would have expected. A strange one.

America: Slight electric before leading into the acoustics and vocals I know the due for. I haven’t heard this one, seems to be some sort of protest or patriotic song. Again some unusual twiddly stuff going on in the background. It’s fine, doesn’t do a lot for me though, maybe I’d like it more after a few listens.

Overs: This one has an even more gentle sound, good, sweet vocals, what I can pick up of the lyrics first time around seem interesting, but the melodies are too whimsical and loose to grab me. A lot of playing with time, pausing, and volume on this one. Feels like it’s over before it’s begun.

Voices Of Old People: Okay, so they’re being literal with the title. Snippets of what appear to be old people talking. Talking about stuff. It works well on Dark Side Of The Moon with a musical accompaniment. This is just voices. Essentially pointless.

Old Friends: I think I’ve heard this before, or parts of it. Gentle, I like the strings growing and falling and weaving. More loose vocals and construction. Then it turns into a nightmarish episode of Bewitched. 

Bookends Theme: And we fade back in to this. Singing this time. Sad, lonesome, whimsy.

Fakin It: Presumably the second half will be a little bit more commercial. We get off to an almost Beatles style folk song. A more traditional song, plenty of backing stuff in the production, good melodies and guitar. Still room for more outlandish stuff, with a spoken piece and an interesting ending.

Punky’s Dilemma: Lots of breakfast related lyrics. Nice stable beat, giving way at various points to Beach Boys harmonies. All very gentle, managing to stay on the right side of twee. More sounds and clicks and voices and whistles. All of these songs seem to pass me by though, like a whisper on a street.

Mrs Robinson: Obviously everyone knows this one, and it stands out from the rest of the album by having clear hooks. It’s a terrific song and I was expecting a few more songs like this on the album but so far nothing has come close to either sounding like this or being as good as this.

Hazy Shade Of Winter: I love the Bangles version of this, but until now I’ve never heard this original. So far, the Bangles version is heavier and has vastly superior vocals which is surprising. It’s still good and if I’d heard this one before The Bangles one I don’t know whether I’d prefer the original As it stands, I like The Bangles one more.

At The Zoo: Another two and a half minuter. Starts slowly before tumbling into a groovy pace. What’s it all about? Sounds like a skeptical attempt at poetry. Pick a thing, then write a different thing linking the first thing. Not much going on here musically, pretty simple stuff.

Colin Larkin’s Ranking: 338/100

What I Learned: Simon and Garfunkel can be more experimental in their sound. I knew them for their light folk infused rock and I suppose I should have expected them to be more than just that.

Does Bookends Deserve To Be In The Top 1000 Albums Of All Time: I’ll have to defer to the old favourite maxim of this presumably being influential and a product of its time for it appearing in the Top 1000 albums of all time. Personally, upon first listen there is almost nothing here which would make me recommend this or include it in the Top 1000 albums. A couple of obvious stand out tracks and one or two more which would probably grow on me after multiple listens, but it’s too light and airy and doesn’t speak to me on any personal level as a whole.

So, aging hippies out there – what am I missing? Is this truly a product of its time, or do its reaches extend beyond the realms of space and time? Let me know what other albums from Simon And Garfunkel are good. I did like this, but not enough for me to want to go and listen to it again – I wish I did as previously I’d liked everything I’d heard by them. Sound off in the comments!

Nightman Listens To – The Verve – Urban Hymns (Top 1000 Albums Series)

When I started writing this series of Listens To! posts, my idea was to:

A: Listen to the tonnes of albums I have acquired over the years that I hadn’t bothered to actually listen to yet and give my thoughts as I listened for the first time.

B: Catch up on those artists that I was aware of/liked certain songs by, but whose albums I had never listened to in their entirety.

C: Potentially get some new favourites based off what I heard or by recommendations from my billions of readers.

D: Because there are a tonne of albums which always appear on best of lists which I have never heard.

As a musician, music fan, and human with working ears, I feel that I should give these a go. To get some focus, I decided to go to 2000 Edition of ‘Colin Larkin’s All Time Top 1000 Albums’ because it looks fairly comprehensive (and there are a few extra sections listing top 100 albums by genre which cover selections left out of the main 1000 which I will also try to cover).

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Greetings, Glancers! Today we go back to the height of Britpop, the time when a younger Nightman was in school, playing N64, drinking beer between classes, and carving lyrics into school desks with a compass.

No, the other type
No, the other type

Today’s album is an odd one in that I don’t really understand how I missed it, given that I’ve liked every song from it that I’ve heard, and with two of them being two of my favourite songs of the decade. I may well have heard it all, as chances are that it would have been played in the background at a house party or shared on a school bus trip, but I can’t confirm this one way or the other so here we are.

What I Know About The Verve: After a number of unsuccessful albums (which I believe had quite a different sound from the one they converted to on Urban Hymns), The Verve struck gold and became one of the biggest acts in Britain. it didn’t last and they split up shortly after their biggest success with singer Richard Ashcroft going to a solo career (though they returned a decade later with another album). Incidentally, Ashcroft’s Song For The Lovers was one of my favourite songs of that decade too. The had a number of big singles in the late Nineties, and though lumped in with other Britpop acts, they didn’t truly fit that genre.

What I Know About Urban Hymns: Most of my friends had it, and I almost bought it myself a few times. With songs like Bittersweet Symphony and The Drugs Don’t Work, the album was a monster hit winning several awards and becoming a staple of indie house parties and school bus trips all around the country.

Bitter Sweet Symphony: Hmm, you know I never really enjoyed this one, possibly because it was overplayed to ridiculous levels and appeared on everything from TV Ads to movie soundtracks to probably political campaign messages and sports broadcasts. Maybe it’s because I preferred the similar The Chad Who Loved Me by Mansun. Maybe the video was also endlessly played and irritated me. It’s clearly a good song, but I find it way too repetitive and a good minute, if not two minutes too long.

Sonnet: This is more like it – even though this was a single I don’t think it got the recognition it deserved. This is one of my aformentioned favourite songs – not only because it is brimming with personal nostalgia, but I remember absolutely loving it at the time too. The mixing between the weird, almost country bass, the acoustic and electic guitars, Ashcroft’s gorgeous vocals, but most importantly that epic chorus all blend to make four minutes of bliss. Unlike the first track, I have a a feeling I could listen to this multiple times every day and never tire of it. It’s filled with so many moments I savour – the repetition of ‘my head is gone’, the twinkly piano after the first chorus, the middle section, and of course the strings. Give me strings and there’s a 90% chance I’ll love you.

The Rolling People: Funky intro, with wacka wacka guitars. This sounds more like your typical Britpop song. I don’t recall hearing this one before. Ashcroft sounds like a much deeper vocal version of Robert Harvey here. Sounds like a fairly standard plodding rocker. Spacey middle section, only half way through. Becoming a little like an Oasis track, and sounding a little like Liam. Groovy extended ending for dance purposes only. Pretty average album track – I’m looking for lost gems, remember!

The Drugs Don’t Work: Well, what can we say about this one? Brooding, heart-breaking, addictive, beautiful perfection. It’s obvious I adore everything about this song, one of the finest songs of the decade. Give me haunting melodies, strings, and emotive lyrics and performance and I’m yours.

Catching The Butterfly: Swirly guitar distortion. Uppy downy vocals. Fluttery. Lucid dreams. Another loose, trippy song which hovers along without any major hook but decent enough to cruise or sleep to. Unnecessarily long.

Neon Wilderness: Fading in with guitar effects. Spacey, distant, near spoken vocals. Drums. Nothing in time with anything else. Fine. Overlapping vocal bits. Is this going to turn into a more traditional song or continue in this vein, as this sort of thing gets boring after a couple of minutes. Fading out. At least it was short.

Space And Time: Acoustics. Interesting. Nice verse. Nice chours. Yay, it’s a song I don’t know which I love! And it manages to take me back to the mid-nineties even though I haven’t heard it. Give off an Oasis vibe. Melodies are good, nothing overly emotional but still good stuff. Changes subtly enough over the running time to keep from going stale.

Weeping Willow: Piano and swirls. Drums and the rest. Indie vocals. Another promising one which I don’t think I’ve heard. I have vague memories of people talking about this one. Slight Stone Roses vibe. A bit grittier and heavier, whilst retaining that overall swirling trippy tone. Catchy enough chorus. Last vocal part is exactly same melody as part of Champagne Supernova. 

Lucky Man: I was never overly in love with this one, when up against the two biggies it always felt a little too plain. Still a good song though. It’s the same feeling I have for Karma Police – I am aware it’s a great song, I just don’t get the feels for it the same as I do for others.

One Day: Organ. Gospel. Pleasant, very nice. With a stronger melody in the chorus this would be a classic, but they choose a more dreamy approach then going all out for something with an obvious hook. It works in the verses as I expect a glorious pay off in the chorus after all the build up.

This Time: Wibble wobble. Rapping. Regret. A different sound. Nice chorus melody, if only it had some strings or a bit more force behind. Wah wah. Should have ended it after the second chorus or gone in a different direction, as it stretches off too much into nothingness, but again this is short-lived.

Velvet Morning: Country. Another soothing ambient song merged with the more obvious Indie angst guitars. Soft, and yawning, and always seems just on the verge of getting louder. It breaks into a more traditional section a couple of minutes in with good vocals to offset the dreamy parts. Good stuff, good ending.

Come On: Drums. Higher pitched vocals. Sounds like what many Indie bands of the time were putting out. It’s an okay rock song, but not exactly inspired. Possibly the heaviest, most energetic song on the album, but that isn’t saying a lot. Of course the album isn’t going for that sound, but this song clearly is yet it still feels a little lethargic or over produced rather than simply letting loose and playing. A bit of shrieking and swearing at the end to spice things up, feels a little silly, but whatever. It’s a foot-tapper.

Deep Freeze: Oh, it’s a good old hidden track. The previous song was a decent enough way to close the album, but lets see what this one is all about. Noises. Sounds. Baby crying. So, standard extra track fare then – pointless.

Colin Larkin’s Ranking: 213/1000

What I Learned: That it’s good to catch up on history; this missing piece of my teenage years has finally been filled in. I expected the album to be more akin to the rest of the Britpop scene, and while much of it does fit in to that ilk, The Verve have retained their own sound throughout. The better songs are still the singles, and there are a few fillers for my ears – songs which meander too much and go nowhere. Likewise there are a few strong tracks which I has not previously heard which I enjoyed and will gladly listen to again. I can’t recall if any of the other The Verve albums appear on Larkin’s list, but I’ve always wanted to hear those too, so I’ll search them out.

Does It Deserve Its Place In The Top 1000 Albums Of All Time: It’s obviously an integral part of the closing stages of Britpop and was one of the most commercially and critically successful albums of the year, with a host of singles which spanned the globe. On that basis, as well as the fact that it did a lot to influence later artists who wanted that looser, baggier indie rock feel, it feels justified to see this in Top 1000 albums of all time. However, I can’t commit to saying that it would be high on my personal list given that only two of the songs truly resonate with me. I was never a huge fan of the Britpop scene, finding an awful lot of it too samey and reeking of tramps, and instead went for the bands who were either on the fringe, offered a little more, or went in a completely opposing direction. If I listen to the album a few more times I know that a couple of other songs would continue to grow on me, which may make me rethink my ranking.

Let us know in the comments if you feel this deserves a place in the Top 100 Albums Of All Time – is it one of your all time favourites, or did you despise it upon release. Feel free to share your opinions on the album and the review below!

Nightman Listens To – REM – Life’s Rich Pageant (Top 1000 Albums Series)

When I started writing this series of Listens To! posts, my idea was to:

A: Listen to the tonnes of albums I have acquired over the years that I hadn’t bothered to actually listen to yet and give my thoughts as I listened for the first time.

B: Catch up on those artists that I was aware of/liked certain songs by, but whose albums I had never listened to in their entirety.

C: Potentially get some new favourites based off what I heard or by recommendations from my billions of readers.

D: Because there are a tonne of albums which always appear on best of lists which I have never heard.

As a musician, music fan, and human with working ears, I feel that I should give these a go. To get some focus, I decided to go to 2000 Edition of ‘Colin Larkin’s All Time Top 1000 Albums’ because it looks fairly comprehensive (and there are a few extra sections listing top 100 albums by genre which cover selections left out of the main 1000 which I will also try to cover).

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Greetings, Glancers! In today’s edition of Nightman Listens, I, Senor Carlos Nightman, listen to an album by indie, enviro-weirdos REM. REM always pop up on best album lists and they are generally spoken of by bands and artists I like. I’ve never felt a desire to listen to them much beyond the few singles I’ve heard, and although a few friends rate them very highly, most of the people I know who are big fans, are dicks. It’s time for me to learn a bit more abound them and decide for myself, and the best way to do that is to have a gander at one of their albums.

What I Know About REM: For a while in the mid nineties, REM were one of the biggest bands on the planet. They were around long before then, and have been around since. Michael Stipe is the lead singer and both his face and voice annoy me. They are a little too preachy and whiny for my liking, but they have made a number of songs that I’ve enjoyed. I admit I know very little of their catalogue as a whole, and have only heard one complete album – Automatic For The People – it’s good, but not as amazing as people like to say. That should do it.

What I Know About Life’s Rich Pagaent: It’s an album by REM. Looking down the track list I don’t recognise any of the names.

Begin The Begin: Riff. Strangled chords. Annoying Stipe voice. Fine melodies. Everything a little tinny or plain. Growing. Hiccups. Birdy. More music. End.

These Days: Fast. Sounds like The Bangles. Annoying Stipe voice. Nice drums. Annoying Stipe howl. Again okay melodies, but nothing grabbing, nothing emotional, nothing memorable. Attempt at a solo. Back around for repeat. End.

Fall On Me: Softer and acoustic mix. Lower vocals. Attempts at emotion. Failed attempts. Ok chorus, but nothing great. The best moment was the opening 8 or so seconds. Decent middle section, but too light. Sounds like faux hippy happy balls.

Cuyahoga: Decent opening. Ruined by appearance of boring drums, usual guitar, and annoying Stipe voice. Crappy idealistic lyrics. Bell. Bored already. Same melodies churned out on each song so far. Decent middle section. More whining.

Hyena: Laughter. Smiths-esque pacing. These drums are horrendous. Stipe howls. Jangling guitars. This is probably the least interesting, least inspired album I’ve listened to so far in this Top 1000 run through. I just feel into a mini-coma during one of the verses, then yawned and re-emerged for the final chorus.

Underneath The Bunker: Nice rip off riff. Is this an instrumental? The guitar isn’t great, there are quite a few notes which don’t quite connect. Voice. End.

The Flowers Of Guatemala: Nice intro, but oh so twee. Sounds like a One Direction ballad. Not long before Stipe’s howls come along. One trick Stipe. How much more of this crap is there? Ok, very basic solo. I get the simple solo thing, I do, but here it sounds like people who can’t play their instruments thinking they’re amazing.

I Believe: Banjo. Finally, someone can play. And replaced with more Smiths licks. Same old tempo, same old melodies, same old drums. Come on, raise the bar. Give me a hook. No no, not a howl Stipe. Jeebus. More dodgy lyrics culled from other places. It’s isn’t clever. France. To be fair, I can’t say that any of the songs have been bad, but I certainly can say that every one sounds like a copy and paste of the one before, and that none stands out. It’s as coherent as a blood spill.

What If We Give It Away: Drums. The Drums, as Brando once said. Moaning about money. What if you did give it away? Another howl. You know, if they changed the tone of the guitar, changed the drums completely, and replaced Michael Stipe with a singer, some of these songs might be good. This is what we have though. Another middle section which is better than the rest of the song. YAWNING.

Just A Touch: Shit, I was doing something else and didn’t realise this had started. Faster, drums finally better. There’s about 1% of Nirvana in the chorus. Organs and by God more murderous howling from Stipe. Who the fuck handed this eejit a microphone? Someone needs to Delorean that shit. I give up. Even when it’s different it’s the same. Is this them thinking they are being heavy? I’ve taken heavier dumps.

Swan Swan H: A little different, but the same effing melodies and Stipe balls.

Superman: Bla bla bla.

Colin Larkin’s Ranking: 162/1000

What I Learned: Not a lot. 80s REM sounds an awful lot like 90s REM, and Stipe’s voice is still as annoying as a wasp behind your eye.

Does It Deserve Its Place In The Top 1000 Albums Of All Time: Absolutely not. There is, for me, nothing original, nor anything memorable here. It sounds like a thousand other half-assed soft rock albums. Out of the few albums I’ve virginally listened to from Larkin’s list, this is the weakest, and to think it appears at number 162 (and that there are 3 REM albums higher on the list) is a shocker. Does this hold some cultural significance? I can’t think of any reason why this should be included in any Best lists. And I am right.

Let me know in the comments why you think I’m wrong and why this does deserve a place in the Top 1000 albums of all time. Is it one of your favourites? What happened to you to make you say such things?

Nightman Listens To – Blur – Blur (Top 1000 Albums Series)

When I started writing this series of Listens To! posts, my idea was to: A: Listen to the tonnes of albums I have acquired over the years that I hadn’t bothered to actually listen to yet and give my thoughts as I listened for the first time. B: Catch up on those artists that I was aware of/liked certain songs by, but whose albums I had never listened to in their entirety. C: Potentially get some new favourites based off what I heard or by recommendations from my billions of readers. D: Because there are a tonne of albums which always appear on best of lists which I have never heard. As a musician, music fan, and human with working ears, I feel that I should give these a go. To get some focus, I decided to go to 2000 Edition of ‘Colin Larkin’s All Time Top 1000 Albums’ because it looks fairly comprehensive (and there are a few extra sections listing top 100 albums by genre which cover selections left out of the main 1000 which I will also try to cover).

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Greetings, glancers. Today we return to Colin Larkin’s Top 1000 albums and our first Blur entry. I’m hopeful that I’ll enjoy this one as by and large I’ve liked what I’ve heard over the years from Blur and they are a pretty large missing piece from my musical knowledge, outside of their biggest songs. I just hope the accents don’t annoy me.

What I Know About Blur (Band): Britpop darlings, massively successful, one half of the infamous Oasis versus Blur Civil War in the 90s, built around Coxon, James, Albarn, and probably another one. I know most of their singles pretty well, but I’ve never owned or heard any of their albums in full. I was always on the Oasis side of the argument. Something about Blur in the early days seemed too cheery, too happy and silly, and Damon’s face and singing style/voice annoyed me. Later songs I enjoyed more and the band grew on me, but still I never actually went back to listen to any albums.

What I Know About Blur (Album): Nothing, I wasn’t even aware they had a self-titled album. I would have assumed this was their debut, until I saw that it wasn’t. Looking down the track list I recognise, and like, two of the songs, but aside from that I don’t know anything else about the album.

Beetlebum: Has a short scratchy intro before the famous distorted riff comes in. The vocals and melodies have a Beatles feel, a drowsy post-grunge appeal with an exuberant melancholy pop chorus. I’ve always liked this one.

Song 2: This one everyone knows. I remember mocking and appreciating the Smells Like Teen Spirit stylings of the song when it was first released, and the song has continued to hold worldwide popularity, always popping up some movie or TV show. Good start to the album, but that’s the two songs I recognise out of the way.

Country Sad Ballad Man: Another scratchy opening. Twangs and drums. Eventual tune. Distant vocals. Weirdo vocals. More droopy, sleepy vibes. Interesting enough. Solo with unrelated string bending. Alien noises. Explosion. Wasp trapped in an eye socket. Flipping a pancake into a toilet.

MOR: Nice guitars. Building. Bowie vocals. Chorus. It’s certainly loud and bouncy. The vocals and singing accent don’t do it for me. Chorus is okay, I’d say after a few listens of this this would either completely piss me off or finally click with me, not sure which but I’m veering towards being pissed off.

On Your Own: Spaceman intro. WipEout. Robots eating and crapping guitars. More Bowie vocals. ‘Ooooh-ooooh’ harmonies. It’s all a bit too drunken and chanty for my liking, one to sway about to with ‘the lads’ as you fall out of ‘the’ pub. ”.

Theme From Retro: Throb in. Drums. Circus funeral. Ghosts bobbing for apples. This is just one big Bowie wank fest, innit?

You’re So Great: Better start. Basic stuff at a pleasing tempo. Vocals not quite right of course. Nice bonus guitar. Rinse and repeat.

Death Of A Party: More distortion and organ mishaps. Okay verses, more drowsiness. Chorus is better but misses a trick by not going on for another few moments, another line and another progression from ‘gently on the shelf’. It goes on for another verse, then goes on a bit more, then stops.

Chinese Bombs: Faster guitars. Drum disaster. Clearly a joke song, but it’s better than most of their serious ones on this album.

I’m Just A Killer For Your Love: Funk. Drum mess. Scratchy guitars, why not. More drowsy verses and chorus. Getting sleepy. More noises for the second half of the song. Sounds like a bunch of knobs let loose in a studio for a few hours with no idea what they’re doing.

Look Inside America: Another acoustic start. Big vocals. Strings bonus. Rest of band appears. Bowie chorus. Can’t shake off those drowsy tones and melodies. There are a few good moments here, but outweighed by the guff. Surprise harp and guitar ending. Because we haven’t had a song with a harp on it yet.

Strange news From Another Star: Continuing the loose tonal theme. Change to acoustic, much better. Good verses, lets hope it doesn’t get thrown away. Much better chorus, still drowsy, still Bowie, but keeps the best moments of both. Easily the best song since the 2nd track. Even gets the ending right.

Movin On: Good intro. Jaunty riffs. Fun enough, doesn’t go anywhere but not too offensive. Comedy ending.

Essex Dogs: Apparently this includes ‘Interlude’. That should be good. Throbbing. Tin cans. Like an old Spectrum racing game. Words. Is it about Essex? I’ve no idea, but I know I never want to go there. Guitars and lasers. More words. Distant singing and bass. Robot orgy. Bits and pieces. It’s fine, works well as an experimental piece. Here come Interlude. It’s okay too, repeating the same weirdo sounds.

Colin Larkin’s Ranking: 271/1000

What I Learned: That the first Blur album I listened to contained far fewer pop and commercial songs than I was expecting. That singing in your speaking accent will always annoy me, especially when it’s wanky posh English. That Blur tried to experiment and, well, failed.

Does It Deserve A Place In The Top 1000 Albums Of All Time: Not in my opinion, no. I understand now, after reading some of the album’s wiki page that this was a departure for the band in almost all departments. It seems like a strained attempt at a magnum opus, of being something they were not, or at least had not been. They tried, but it doesn’t work for me. There are maybe three or four songs here I’d gladly hear again, with another one or two being passable, but the rest is pretension by a group who don’t appear to have the skills to be pretentious.

Is this your favourite album? Do you think it deserves a place in the Top 1000 Albums of all time? Let us know in the comments!

Nightman Listens To – Tracy Chapman – Tracy Chapman! (Top 1000 Series)

When I started writing this series of Listens To! posts, my idea was to:

A: Listen to the tonnes of albums I have acquired over the years that I hadn’t bothered to actually listen to yet and give my thoughts as I listened for the first time.

B: Catch up on those artists that I was aware of/liked certain songs by, but whose albums I had never listened to in their entirety.

C: Potentially get some new favourites based off what I heard or by recommendations from my billions of readers.

D: Because there are a tonne of albums which always appear on best of lists which I have never heard. As a musician, music fan, and human with working ears, I feel that I should give these a go.

To get some focus, I decided to go to 2000 Edition of ‘Colin Larkin’s All Time Top 1000 Albums’ because it looks fairly comprehensive (and there are a few extra sections listing top 100 albums by genre which cover selections left out of the main 1000 which I will also try to cover).

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Greetings, Glancers! It’s time for another round of ‘point at the idiot’ as I wrap my ears around an album that I’ve never heard. Today, it’s the turn of Tracy Chapman to prove that she is worthy of a place amongst the greats. Colin Larkin seems to think she is, but as I’ve never met the dude I’m going to decide for myself, so Tracy, do your best – and if yo best ain’t good enuff, then do your worst.

What Do I Know About Tracy Chapman: She’s a singer, and I used to get confused over whether she was a man or a woman. I only ever saw the briefest of snippets on TV, and from the look and the sound, I couldn’t tell. She has a song called ‘Cars’ or something like that? Is her genre some mix of soft blues, light jazz, and easy pop? I’m pulling teeth here. All I know is that what I heard made me think I’d never have the desire to listen any further.

What Do I Know About Tracy Chapman: She’s a singer, an- what? Oh right, what do I know about the album…. nothing. Maybe there’s a song called ‘Cars’ on it.

Talkin’ Bout A Revolution: Acoustic guitars. Nice. Weirdo vocals. See, is it a man or a woman? I still have no idea. I like the melodies, I like the politics, but I just can’t stand the vocals. Better in the chorus. Repeat. Organ. A decent enough song, I’d probably like it more if it was covered by someone else.

Fast Car: Ahh, yes, this is the one I was talking about. Near Joni guitars in the intro. Nice melodies, more nice ideas about running away. The vocals are still annoying. The riff is overplayed with no break – needs a chorus or something else to give us a rest from the twiddly dee dee, doo do doo. More. Finally, I knew there was another part of the song. I-e-I-be someone. Hmm, didn’t last long, but still some respite. Yes, I realize the irony in the lyrics. Good song, a little too plain or empty or something – there’s definitely something missing here for me, but I understand why it’s so loved. Seems a minute too long.

Across The Lines: Another good riff. Ooh, backing instruments too, see this is what was missing from the last track – needed somthing extra, a violin, a cello, something. Even here it isn’t used to its fullest potential. Good messages. Nice melodies again, the vocals may be getting less annoying with each track. Lyrics a little repetitive.

Behind The Wall: Sounds tribal, melodically. Well, there is no music, yet. Someone’s getting a slap and sounds like no-one cares. Sounds like she has heard my complaints about not enough backing music and is flipping me the bird. Good on you.

Baby Can I Hold You: Chords softer. Wait a minute. I know this. It ain’t Ronan Keating’s warbling out the side of his neck. So she wrote this, or is it a cover too? It doesn’t fit with everything else so far, lyrically. Still it’s a nice song, still a little plain and bare, though there are some humorous Motown things going on in the background. It’s a good song, but I don’t think anyone has done it justice yet.

Mountains o’ Things: Plinky plonk. Maybe going for the full instrumentation here. Samey melodies. Here the backing music is too 80s and doesn’t work. Lets keep things classy, please. Yes yes, dreaming of the things which she no doubt has now. Lets hope she hasn’t forgotten her own message. Only halfway through this one… not great people, not great. Things are wonderful. It’s always better having things. A complete lack of anything catchy makes this a painful five minutes, like hearing someone with an awful voice speaking loudly beside you on the bus for five minutes.

She’s Got Her Ticket: Drum surprise. No guitar, only vocals again, and that is not a good sign. Guitars. Country. Dire Straits. Reggae. So this is basically another version of Fast Car. Just a bunch of lyrics with no real melody and some guitars slapped on in the background.

Why?: Groovy enough. Again, easy thoughtful lyrics. Nothing new that hasn’t already been said in a hundred songs, but that in itself is a travesty. Better melodies in a couple of places. All of this sounds very amateurish – just, like someone heard a demo and thought they would have a hit single then said go ahead, have an album written and recorded by next week.

For My Lover: Drums. Guitar. Sounds familiar. Different guitars. Too many yous. It’s ok, one of the better ones so far, but still I see nothing here that makes me want to listen again.

If Not Now: Softly softly. Piano. Similar melody followed by beautiful melody. Surge. Drums. This one is better, but again it just doesn’t go in the direction I’d like it to. Probably my favourite here.

For You: Samey guitars. She ain’t much of a player, at least what’s on display here. Vocals and nowt else again. I don’t mind that, but I need to like the vocals, and the melodies need to be present, but for too much of this album there are no melodies worth speaking of and the vocals are irritating. Nothing interesting here, just more of the same, I’m afraid.

Colin Larkin’s Ranking: 273/1000

What I Learned: That after finally listening to a whole song, and a WHOLE ALBUM by Chapman, that I still don’t like her voice. That I’m probably a horrible person for saying such things. That songs with a message need to be catchy enough so that message is conveyed and spreads. There’s no point in singing a protest song if it’s just a bunch of words strung together like worms in a toddler’s mouth.

Does It Deserves Its Place In The Top 1000 Albums Of All Time: Absolutely not. I was really looking forward to this one, hoping that it was going to deliver some hidden joy to me, but it’s boring, repetitive, plain, empty of music, hell it almost feels like its empty of soul and emotion even though I’m sure that’s not the case. There are a few good songs in here but the production is all wrong, and the vocals are worse.

You may now commence the name-throwing in the comments section, though I imagine Tracy Chapman fans wouldn’t stoop to that level. Tell me what I’ve missed? What makes this so special? Does the album hold a special place in your heart, or a hallowed spot on your shelf? Pray tell.

Nightman Listens To – Queen – A Night At The Opera (Top 1000 Series)

When I started writing this series of Listens To! posts, my idea was to: A: Listen to the tonnes of albums I have acquired over the years that I hadn’t bothered to actually listen to yet and give my thoughts as I listened for the first time. B: Catch up on those artists that I was aware of/liked certain songs by, but whose albums I had never listened to in their entirety. C: Potentially get some new favourites based off what I heard or by recommendations from my billions of readers. D: Because there are a tonne of albums which always appear on best of lists which I have never heard. As a musician, music fan, and human with working ears, I feel that I should give these a go. To get some focus, I decided to go to 2000 Edition of ‘Colin Larkin’s All Time Top 1000 Albums’ because it looks fairly comprehensive (and there are a few extra sections listing top 100 albums by genre which cover selections left out of the main 1000 which I will also try to cover).

Greetings, Glancers! Today in the never-ending Nightman Listens To series, I visit my first Queen album. Are you excited? I certainly am, and I’m looking forward to discovering some new favourites. You may know that I’ve never been a massive Queen fan, I don’t have anything against them and I do love plenty of their hit singles. Maybe after I listen to one complete Queen album, the floodgates will open and I’ll be a convert.

What Do I Know About Queen: What a silly question. One of the biggest rock bands on the planet, even decades after their peak and after the death of vocalist Freddie Mercury their popularity endures and their music has lost none of its power.

What Do I Know About A Night At The Opera: I have heard a few people name this as the best Queen album. Does it feature Bohemian Rhapsody? The title suggests a concept album, or songs loosely tied together with an operatic approach or theme? In other words, I know nothing about it. It will take some beating to be better than Blind Guardian’s masterpiece of the same name. Insert link to top 15 albums.

Death On Two Legs: Piano. Twinkling. Sounds like an opera so far. Flash Gordon noises. Threatening. Growing. ALien attack. Scream. Gone. Soft. Guitar fun. Guitar madness. Vocals. Doing a Hetfield. Narrow minded cronies. Unusual pauses. Has the Queen sound, harmonies, May’s signature guitar. Great stuff. Surging and fading vocals. Actually reminds me of Blind Guardian, so I assume this was a template for them in more than name. End.

Lazing On A Sunday Afternoon: Jaunty piano, arcade music. Ringo. Weirdo vocals. London town. Louvrrrre. Weirdo guitars.

I’m In Love With My Car: Revs. Future sounds. Clean machine. That ain’t Mercury. Duet? No idea. Plodding but heavy. More good stuff. Odd ending. End.

You’re My Best Friend: I know this one, of course. I always thought this was a little twee, but damn catchy any. Too many adverts have used this. Just a nice, happy song to put a smile on your face without being crap.

39: Led Zep 3 esque. Roy Harper. A little bit country, a little bit folk. Bonzo thump. Nostalgia. Is this a dedication to Zep, or folk in general? Howling. Protest song melodies. I think I’m converted. Not Mercury either. I didn’t realise others sang on their albums, is it a guest or one of the other band members?

Sweet Lady: Riff. Drums. All present, sir. Stones. Catchy again. I’m amazed I haven’t heard more of these. Cheese, but not that. Funky breakdowns. Howls. Faster. Solo. Woo. Headbang. Yay, Queen rock!

Seaside Rendezvous: Jaunty. Seaside. Clementine. See, they could probably do without these fun throwaway songs. Mouth mess. Weeeeeee. Whistle.

The Prophet’s Song: Twinkies. Guitar. Western. Atmosphere. Brooding stomps. Some sort of story. Flash Gordon. More words. People. Plant vocals. Voice collapse. Now I know. Indeed. Lalallalalalalalala, broken ears headphone disgrace. Man man. Crunch. Guitars return. Noise. Growth. Harp. Wind.

Love Of My Life: Piano and acoustic guitars. A classical feel. I believe I’ve heard this one before, yes yes. Lovely melodies, and feels a little like the quiet moments of Bohemian Rhapsody. Ghost voices. Guitar like a cello. Very nice, though a strange amount of instrumental moments without vocals for such a short song.

Good Company: Teeth. Cleaning windows. Faster. Drums and guitars. Sounds like a lost McCartney. Phasing. Moon man. Singing through a tube. Weirdo guitars. Jam. End.

Bohemian Rhapsody: I think we all know this one, right? Nothing more to say really.

God Save The Queen: Rushing in. Guitar anthem. I see. An odd ending, but apt.

Colin Larkin’s Ranking: 96/1000

What I Learned: Queen knew how to rock, and fairly heavily. I knew this of course, but most of the songs I was familiar with always had that pop edge and I didn’t think they’d really gone beyond that. This album showcases both the commercial pop side, a heavier side, and a lot of experimentation with guitars and vocals. I’m not sure if the album does all tie together in some sort of single concept and I’d need to go back and listen to the lyrics of each track. Overall, I learned that this is a fantastic album.

Does It Deserve Its Place In The Top 1000 Albums Of All Time: Well, that’s easily my favourite album out of the few I’ve listened to since kicking off this endeavour. A very fine album indeed, with only a couple of tracks I knew of, and a bunch I’m already looking forward to listening to again. I can’t say how influential this particular record was, but for the mid seventies it was pretty heavy and featured a lot of harmonic vocals in a wall of sound which it appears had an impact on Blind Guardian. Quality wise, this is a solid rock album and one I thoroughly enjoyed, and it is a lot better than other so-called great albums at least on first listen.

What you think of this album – when did you first hear it? Does it hold a special place in your musical history? let us know in the comments section!

Nightman Listens To – Cocteau Twins – Heaven or Las Vegas! (Top 1000 Albums Series)

When I started writing this series of Listens To! posts, my idea was to:

A: Listen to the tonnes of albums I have acquired over the years that I hadn’t bothered to actually listen to yet and give my thoughts as I listened for the first time.

B: Catch up on those artists that I was aware of/liked certain songs by, but whose albums I had never listened to in their entirety.

C: Potentially get some new favourites based off what I heard or by recommendations from my billions of readers.

D: Because there are a tonne of albums which always appear on best of lists which I have never heard. As a musician, music fan, and human with working ears, I feel that I should give these a go.

To get some focus, I decided to go to 2000 Edition of ‘Colin Larkin’s All Time Top 1000 Albums’ because it looks fairly comprehensive (and there are a few extra sections listing top 100 albums by genre which cover selections left out of the main 1000 which I will also try to cover).

Greetings, Glancers! It’s time once again to marvel at my ignorance and give me a pat on the back for trying, as I listen with virgin ears to an album that has thus far passed me by on my listening travels. Today’s should be interesting as I don’t really know anything about the band, I haven’t heard of the album, and I’m not even sure what the genre of music is. I apologise in advance to any fans who may be reading this, but you never know, maybe you’re about to be joined by a new recruit. Alls I gots to do is hit ‘play’.

What Do I Know About The Cocteau Twins: I’ve heard the name, I believe they are Scottish, but I don’t know if there actually are twins in the band (I assume not).

What Do I Know About Heaven or Las Vegas: Absolutely nada.

Cherry-Coloured Funk: Hold on, postman just came to my door….Ok, he’s gone. Soft, My Vitriol guitar sound. Oh Lord, I hope it doesn’t become like My Bloody Valentine. Hmm, lady vocals, nice. Is this all female-fronted? If so, I think it’ll be the first female fronted album we’ve covered so far on Larkin’s list. Dreamy pace. High pitch, can’t make out the lyrics, something about tigers and colours. Soft and sort of catchy, I may get into it after more listens, nothing overly memorable, but good start. Sudden end.

Pitch The Baby: Warble. More fairground effects on the guitars, wavey and watery. More lady vocals, still can’t quite make them out. A sultry song for drunken dancing or stoned ceiling stares. Again, it’s sort of catchy in its repetition, and waves of sound bouncing around have their charm, but no obvious melody that would stick with me.

Ice-blink Luck: 80s pop sound. Uppy downy vocals. Defo an MBV vibe, but without all the crap. Interesting melodies, just wish the vocals were more prominent in the mix, too much swirling getting in the way. Bass has similar tone to New Order. Lots of words. Cherry cola. Drum interlude. A traditionally commercial structure buried under wall of sound. That was nice.

Fifty-fifty Clown: Throb and drum. More drums. Dark underwater. I see much of what would influence How To Measure A Planet by The Gathering here, which is one of my favourite albums – that period they were influenced by Slowdive, Dead Can Dance etc, and this sounds pretty similar. I guess people will call this ethereal, and it is. I appreciate the vocals and the melodies, but still waiting for something to really grab a hold of me.

Heaven Or Las Vegas: Some sort of cascading riff. Title track. More vocals I can’t understand. Lots more swirling and plenty of sound trapping out space. I imagine there are some disasters with people not knowing the lyrics and trying to sing along or guess. Again it is catchy, but more in an airy way than an obvious way, which means it will likely take me a few listens to remember anything in particular.

I Wear Your Ring: Slight Eastern sound. Something looming on the sun-kissed horizon. Ha ha, sunrise sunset lyrics. Now, this is more like it, wonderful stuff. Can slip away and never want to come back. Slight trumpet or some such. Gone. Slight no clue what is being said. Some of vocals sound a little off, especially on the lower vibrato, like one of those wheels you used to get on the side of a keyboard to bend notes up and down.

Fotzepolitic: Surge. My dreams are something. A lot of these songs have similar melodies in the vocals – build up to very high point then immediately drop to low note. Still, it’s nice enough. La la las. More jangling guitars. All very pleasant. Refrain. Repeat. See and saw and me back to ya? Oh Lord, a guitar solo of some description. Fade.

Wolf in The Breast: Riff sounds like something else I know. Can’t place it. This is all a refreshing change from other stuff I’ve been listening to recently, and more importantly, from the drivel in today’s charts. Soothing. Again dreamy melodies that flutter away before they take hold. It’s very easy to get caught up in this and forget to write, but then I don’t really have much to say about it.

Road, River And Rail: Jangling guitars. A bit more ominous and atmosphere. Lets try the lyrics…. Eddie fell away, and his choices can’t be toes, making clothes on the hill where I sent him. Road river rail, something something century. Can’t keep up. Floating through ancient flaps of light.. lay on a crapper of bless. Seeing an apple and pants…. from out of the barnyard. Seventeen. I don’t know. Am I close with any of this? Mother’s daughter. To a tissue falling? This is nice as well.

Frou-Frou Foxes In Midsummer Fires: Dark and atmospheric opening again. Funeral march, nice. Howling guitars. Swirly swirls. Vocals more prominent now. Building to something. No. Again. Now. Explosion of sound and Spac words. Scatman. Sounds like Family Ness theme tune. Rounder. Rounder. Back to start. Good stuff. If I listen to this again I imagine it will have more of an impact.

Colin Larkin’s Ranking: 218/1000

What I Learned: That Cocteau Twins have a lady singer, that they make ethereal pop that sounds like anything from mid 80s to late 90s. That the lyrics are either indecipherable or nonsense or both. That they, at least on this album, have a very distinct sound and never veer away from it. That it’s all very nice, soothing, and repetitive in a good way.

Does It Deserves Its Place In The Top 1000 Albums Of All Time: It’s another strange one because I can’t imagine this would have sold bucketloads as it doesn’t strike me as particularly commercial, unless it was released in one of the indie peak periods. I don’t recall hearing any of the songs before so I don’t think any of the singles were hits, and I don’t remember hearing any of it on TV shows or movies, so I don’t know how influential it is, or was. There are a few bands who have a similar sound, so maybe these guys were first, or its one of the best examples. Musically it is strong, though I don’t usually go for the wall of sound when it so clearly crushes everything else. I’d definitely listen to it again, and I imagine that it is indeed something I could easily get hooked on. So in short, upon first listen, for me it’s a MAYBE.

Did I get this right, or have I missed the point? What are your memories of this album – feel free to share some stories, and recommend some other stuff by the band. Have you seen them live? What’s your favourite song by them, or on this album? Let us know in the comments!

Nightman Listens To – DJ Shadow – Entroducing (Top 1000 Albums Series)

When I started writing this series of Listens To! posts, my idea was to: A: Listen to the tonnes of albums I have acquired over the years that I hadn’t bothered to actually listen to yet and give my thoughts as I listened for the first time. B: Catch up on those artists that I was aware of/liked certain songs by, but whose albums I had never listened to in their entirety. C: Potentially get some new favourites based off what I heard or by recommendations from my billions of readers. D: Because there are a tonne of albums which always appear on best of lists which I have never heard. As a musician, music fan, and human with working ears, I feel that I should give these a go. To get some focus, I decided to go to 2000 Edition of ‘Colin Larkin’s All Time Top 1000 Albums’ because it looks fairly comprehensive (and there are a few extra sections listing top 100 albums by genre which cover selections left out of the main 1000 which I will also try to cover).

Greetings glancers! It’s time once again to delve into some of the nearest music ever made according to one critic to see if I agree land find something new to love, or if I disagree and add another be to the ‘avoid swamp’. Today’s album takes us into the murky world of dance music, a loose term for sure, but one which best suits our purposes for now. It’s a genre I am not overly familiar with, knowing mostly the chart and club trash which is inescapable these days.

What I Know About DJ Shadow: He’s a DJ. I know some of my friends who aren’t traditional listeners of dance music listen to him. I don’t know if they are doing that because the music is genuinely good or because it’s a cool name to drop. I usually avoid anything with DJ in the name as everything I have since been exposed to has been awful. I’m cool. I’m also aware that his albums are frequently critically acclaimed.

What I Know About Endtroducing: Absolutely nothing. Is this his most critically acclaimed album? I’ve heard friends talk about one of his albums in particular, but I’ve no clue if this is it or not.

Without further Apu, let’s get listening.

Best Foot Forward: Speaking. Samples. Too many. Am I going to have to guess all of these? End?

Building Steam With A Grain Of Salt: Piano. Nice. A Pink Floyd vibe from the merging of music and speaking. Sounds like this may have appeared in a movie. Or a BMW advert. More talking, not quite loud enough to make out. See, I appreciate this sort of thing but not if it’s repetitive. Ok, some shifting. Drums collapsing. Shaft guitar sounds. More piano. More words. Fading. Fine.

The Number Song: Counting. Drums. I know that thrumming. Scratching and some rap words. Good enough to blast from car, not quite as good as blasting my own screeches. Shift. Sesame street. Echoes. Metallica thrumming. More counting. Collapse. Bubbles and gulps and drums.

Changeling/Transmission#1: Bong bing boong. Bong bing bonnng. More drums and hissing symbols. Radiohead beats. Collapse. Classical. Smooth. It’s all very mellow so far, not a full on bass attack. Some sort of singing. Trumpets. Collapse again. Stutters. Sudden guitar. Fading. Strings. Astronauts. Lasers. Ha ha, John Carpenter, one of my faves.

What Does Your Soul Look Like (Part 4): Funk and smooth. Sex trumpets. Sooty and Sweep. Dalek. Shouting. Piano and other mistakes. Fading.

Untitled: Hmm. Funky. Ass. Jolly Ranchers. Pointless.

Stem/Long Stem/Transmission #2: Oh, I know this of course. But is this the original, or Shadow’s take? Assuming it is Shadow messing with the piece that I know. Sudden funky shift. Violins. Beer adverts. More funk. Speed collapse. Headbang. Silence. Organ. Dings. Outstanding warrants. Guitars. Soothing. Sunrise. More beer. Fading. More soothing wavey sounds. Pianos. Prince Of Darkness again.

Mutual Slump: Drums. Organ. Chaos. Xanadu. Vader. Trumpet screeches. Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. Robots eating spaghetti. Lasers bouncing around a U-bend.

Organ Donor: More ghetto bits. More organ. More drums. Organ solo. Funhouse drunkage. Back around for more.

Why Hip Hop Sucks in 96: Seventies cop shows. LA skyline. Flat streets with faded yellow marking.

Midnight In A Perfect World: Soothing synths again. I sense a pattern here. Guitars. Woman singing. Clocks. Midnight!

Napalm Brain/Scatter Brain: Grunting. Laughter. Checkers. Drums. Silence. Drums. Guitars and throbbing. Typewriter drums. Tribal bongs. Knocking. Faster. Groovy. WipEout. Funky sounds return. Nice strings. Nice guitars. Saying goodbye, Hollywood style. Sounds familiar.

What Does Your Soul Look Like (Part 1 Blue Sky Revisit)/Transmission #3: Guess what? Soothing sounds and hissing symbols. Repeatrepeatrepeatslightshiftrepeat. Scratch. Carpenter again. Great film. Oh, Twin Peaks Mr Giant. Twin Peaks – a sampler’s wet dream. End.

Colin Larkin’s Ranking: 208/1000

What I Learned: I know a thing or twelve about sampling (I don’t). If you’ve ever visiting my Youtube Channel (and may God have mercy on anyone who has) then you’ll know that I have created a number of mega hits entirely built from samples of other tracks, my own voice, and text to speech software. I needed no fancy software or skills, in fact the only tool used was a simple Windows Media Recorder with record, slow down, speed up, and reverse capabilities, absolutely nothing else. But I do that for my own amusement and to satirize exactly this sort of music. All sorts of music really, but particular the good old bedroom samplers. I haven’t done one a while, I must make another (Here’s a handy link if you want your ears to be scarred – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iPvfbVJtjfw note – I have hundreds of these things made already, but when uploading to Youtube I usually make a silly accompanying video too). Anyway, the guy likes to use samples from a variety of places, and here has created a set of soothing tracks that don’t have a lot of variety. I imagine you can gleam whatever meaning you want from atmospheric music such as this; I’m leaning to wards urban alienation. I can understand why people love this. It’s fine for me, just not my bag.

Does It Deserve A Place In The Top 1000 Albums Of All Time: Once we again we’ll have to fall back on the old ‘importance’ argument rather than the quality of the music. Samples had been used in music for decades before this, but I assume this took things to a new level. The production sounds superb, and there is a terrific range of samples. To me though, each track merges a little too neatly into the next and it’s difficult to differentiate each track from the other. That may have more to do with my tastes and the fact that I’ve only just listened to it once in a single sitting. I can credit DJ Shadow for mashing it all together, but still much of the credit has to go to the original writers. If anything, these types of albums and tracks make me want to go back and listen to the original. That’s no bad thing, but I wouldn’t consider it a plus for the remix/sample mash-up/whatever the term is. Would it appear on my list of top 100 albums? Not a chance, but then I weigh qualities evenly (See my Nightman scoring system – https://wordpress.com/post/10989249/632/) so that importance and influence are equally important to a variety of other categories. If this was indeed influential and creating a number of new recording and sampling techniques, then good job. It’s not the sort of thing I can see myself listening to again, but at least now I can say that I have heard a DJ Shadow record. Yay me!

Let me know what a Neanderthal I am in the comments for not appreciating how groundbreaking and provocative this album is and offer some suggestions on what I should do to better my life.

Nightman Listens To – Lou Reed – Transformer (Top 1000 Albums Series)

When I started writing this series of Listens To! posts, my idea was to:

A: Listen to the tonnes of albums I have acquired over the years that I hadn’t bothered to actually listen to yet and give my thoughts as I listened for the first time.

B: Catch up on those artists that I was aware of/liked certain songs by, but whose albums I had never listened to in their entirety.

C: Potentially get some new favourites based off what I heard or by recommendations from my billions of readers.

D: Because there are a tonne of albums which always appear on best of lists which I have never heard. As a musician, music fan, and human with working ears, I feel that I should give these a go.

To get some focus, I decided to go to 2000 Edition of ‘Colin Larkin’s All Time Top 1000 Albums’ because it looks fairly comprehensive (and there are a few extra sections listing top 100 albums by genre which cover selections left out of the main 1000 which I will also try to cover).

Greetings, Glancers! It’s time once more to treat myself to some of the bestest notes ever recorded and see if they are agreeable to my superior listening abilities. This time around it looks like I’ll be dealing with a bona fide classic – not one which simply makes a single list of greatest albums and then fades into obscurity.

What I Know About Lou Reed: He’s dead. That he was one of the members of The Velvet Underground. That his gruff, flat, deep voice is distinct and that he was known for poetic lyrics and worked with a wide variety of performers in many genres.

What I Know About Transformer: If I know my teenage self (and I think I do) then I know that this is an album that my teenage self should really have listened to all those years ago. I was aware of it then, I knew some of the songs, but for reason I never actually made the effort to seek out the album and listen to it all. I know plenty of my friends owned it, but again the time was never right to say ‘stick that on and let’s have a go’. I’m aware that it isn’t a party album. I’m aware that some people, critics included, absolutely despise this album, though not to the extent of Metal Machine Music.

Vicious: Clanging chords. Distinct voice. Rapping without rapping. Vocals getting a little lost in the mix. Manic guitars. Hit me with a flower. Fairly simple, though with an ocassional slight change in the beat or guitars in each verse to catch you off guard. More manic guitars, decent first track.

Andy’s Chest: Softer. Reminds me of Bowie. Good lyrics. Drums. Growing. More weirdo lyrics. Funky enough, nothing outstanding for me, nothing bad.

Perfect Day: Obviously I know this one, but I can’t help hearing the Children In Need version. A fantastic song all round, perfectly suited to Reed’s voice, moody, false grandeur, nostalgic, bleak and glorious. Fantastic strings which, of course, I’m a sucker for.

Hangin Around: Sudden shift in tone. Fast, rocking, glam. Amusing lyrics. Jeanie. No overall hook or melody, but energetic and interesting.

Walk On The Wild Side: And of course we all know this one. It always irritated me when I was younger (I’m talking before I was 10), but quickly grew on me. I’m still not a huge fan of it, but it’s clearly a great song.

Make Up: Trumpets. Bump. Bump. Funny lyrics. Sardonic. Sarcastic. Horny.

Satellite Of Love: Sudden start. Sounds immediately like Bowie. Piano led. Sounds familiar. A more traditional melodic approach. Someone’s been naughty all week. Distractions. Avoidances. Jaunty end. Sounds like Bowie has joined in the vocals.

Wagon Wheel: Rolling rolling, rawhide, more glam guitars and rhythms. Odd backing vocals. Drums coming in and leaving and shifting at unusual spots.

New York Telephone Conversation: Jaunty beats and melodies. More mocking and sarcasm.

I’m So Free: Bouncy. Woo Ooh. Another up-tempo, simple song. Good guitar, good drums, ok melodies.

Goodnight Ladies: A slow, drunken, jazzy ending. Some shifts in tempo, more good lyrics. Another decent song, though nothing which I would particularly find appealing.

Colin Larkin’s Ranking: 58/1000

What I Learned: The early Seventies were a crazy time, with a number of outspoken musicians taking music and lyrical content in new directions. Well, I knew that already. I don’t think I learned anything aside from that most of this really sounds like a Bowie album.

Does It Deserve It’s Place In The Top 1000 Albums Of All Time: From a cultural and historic point of view, yes. It was a big hit, launched Reed’s solo career, and had a couple of huge singles. It went on to influence any number of artists. The songs themselves are all of a good quality, though the glam genre gets on my nerves quite a bit as it feels so samey – throw a bunch of poetry into the blender and add basic, lightly distorted chords over the top. From my perspective, it’s all good, there aren’t any weak songs, but a number of them repeat the same sounds and ideas without being distinct enough, at least on first listen. I’d listen to it again, but I couldn’t call it a favourite.

Let me know what your thoughts on this album are. Do you feel it deserves its place in the top 1000 albums of all time? Why or why not? Let us know in the comments.

Nightman Listens To – De La Soul – 3 Feet High And Rising (Top 1000 Albums Series)

When I started writing this series of Listens To! posts, my idea was to:

A: Listen to the tonnes of albums I have acquired over the years that I hadn’t bothered to actually listen to yet and give my thoughts as I listened for the first time.

B: Catch up on those artists that I was aware of/liked certain songs by, but whose albums I had never listened to in their entirety.

C: Potentially get some new favourites based off what I heard or by recommendations from my billions of readers.

D: Because there are a tonne of albums which always appear on best of lists which I have never heard. As a musician, music fan, and human with working ears, I feel that I should give these a go.

To get some focus, I decided to go to 2000 Edition of ‘Colin Larkin’s All Time Top 1000 Albums’ because it looks fairly comprehensive (and there are a few extra sections listing top 100 albums by genre which cover selections left out of the main 1000 which I will also try to cover).

Greetings, Glancers! I know it’s been a while, but once again the enemy scourge has meant my time to relax and criticize classic albums has been severely limited. But on this crisp late autumn night, it just so happens that I have some time to kill; so lets get to the killing.

What I Know About De La Soul: Aside from the name, and a few vague recollections, I don’t really know anything. I know they have been around since the 80s, and I know they are a rap/soul/R’n’B act. Did they have a female singer, or a famous song where a woman sings? Yeah, I’m clutching at straws.

What I Know About 3 Feet High And Rising: Not a thing. I’ve never heard of the album, but if it’s in the Top 1000, I’ll assume I’ll recognise at least one song. Maybe….

Intro: Wow, I didn’t realise there were so many songs. I’m assuming, like this intro, that a few will be spoken word skits. This is in the vein of a cheesy gameshow poking fun at… idiots. It’s all very funny and unusual, though the production, on the version I’m listening to, is a little tinny. Will we return to this gameshow?

The Magic Number: Well, of course, everyone knows this. Isn’t this a Beck song? Oh well, Beck is for Hipsters. He’s probably in the Top 1000 list somewhere. This song always irratated me a little, though I’ve never listened to it properly before. The rhymes come thick and fast and I imagine it would take a few listens to fully absorb the lyrics. On first listen I’ve no idea what it’s all about. A fine song, obviously a hit, though musically it’s a little too bare, all percussion and not a lot else.

Change In Speak: Now this sounds familiar too, but I don’t know if it’s because the intro is maybe a sample? I get a James Brown feel from it. Again, the lyrics are dense and it’s not easy to follow them on the first turn. It’s funky once again, it’s a little bare once again, maybe it’s the production, but aside from the brass and the odd little flurry, it feels a little too quiet. No complaints though, I’m just being picky.

Cool Breeze On The Rocks: A blast of samples and weirdness, plenty of pieces I recognise, all a bit weird and pointless, and a little blast of the gameshow quips again.

Can U Keep A Secret: Whispering and funk, people needing haircuts. I’ve heard these lines being quoted before, either in a meme, or from a friend in some drunken conversation. These are important secrets, keep them to yourself. Not much to say about this.

Jennifa Told Me: An interesting one, with a lot more going on musically, not a lot of empty space here. A song about a girl, I guess, told in tongue in cheek style and with a deliberately off-tune series of notes. This one is vaguely familiar, and then it all takes a turn for the weird with a bizarro interlude, all good. I’ve probably heard this in a club or at a party, but paid it no mind.

Ghetto Thang: I don’t recognise this one. Again, it’s difficult to catch the lyrics as I’m listening and typing at the same time, but seems to be satirical, and critical of slum life and dreams. More percussion and squeezed beats, noises, and things that I’m sure have correct terms within the genre but that I have no interest to learn. It’s definitely one to move to

Transmitting Live From Mars: French nonsense. Samples apparently from the cassettes they used to use in my French classes in school. I recognise the music, but not enough to tell if it’s a sample or not.

Eye Know: Yes, I know this one, obviously. Again, this one would have annoyed me when I was younger, but I must be more tolerant these days. The whistling part in particular would have pissed me off greatly, now it’s just a thing. It’s a fine song, another one I expect I would be quite happy to sway to if I was under the influence. The guy’s voice in a little too plain, I’m used to my rappers being very expressive, in the mould of Eminem or Chuck D, or even Snoop. This is all too one level for my liking – hearing the songs as a one off would be fine, but for an album, it becomes not repetitive, but a little… boring?

Take It Off: Another comedy one, poking fun at blokes…. misogyny? Something. Fine yes, but it’s not one I would listen to more than a couple of times and smells an awful lot like filler.

A Little Bit Of Soap: More recognisable notes. More funny lyrics. Probably the last two tracks could have been merged into a more coherent whole.

Tread Water: Interesting lyrics. I must say that it’s all more light-hearted than the handful of rap artists I listen to, and so far not a hint of violence or bling bullshit. Of course I can’t say for sure what any of the songs so far have been about without going back to check out the lyrics, but I think it’s obvious that this is a counterpoint to what was popular in rap both when it was released, and now. That should be a good thing of course, but as a whole it’s not something I think I’ll return to often.

Potholes In My Lawn: It gets more manic as it goes along. There’s a charm to it, and you can’t help but smile. It’s another fine track, nothing too memorable for me though – I have nothing against it, I don’t hate it, I wouldn’t moan if it was played to me all day, but it’s not something I’d choose to put on.

Say No Go: I don’t know this one, but it seems to be packed with samples and sounds, and I think I’ve heard pieces of this on Fresh Prince. It appears to be about drugs as ‘Crack’ is mentioned a few times.

Do As De La Does: An odd one. with a lot of shouting, swearing, strange timings and beats, interesting and curious, and a little bit of gameshow.

Plug Tunin: A slower track, though the lyrics still come quickly. I’ll to follow them this time. Chuck D? No, I’m not following the lyrics at all, partly because I can’t make them out, and partly because what I can make out spins all over the place, which is fine.

De La Orgee: Ok, a bunch of sex noises. I would happily blast this one from the people carrier on the school run.

Buddy: Say what? More banter. More sex words it seems. More chilled from a musical standpoint, and there seems to be a few different voices coming in here at different points. It’s ok, nothing great, nothing bad, plenty of funny lyrics from what I can make out. Jennifa makes another appearance, and a disturbing outro.

Description: 80s videogame noises. Much slower. The lyrics are deliberately slow as the group are clearly making fun of me at this point for being to white to know what the hell is going on. Have they seen the crap I upload to youtube? It seems I am more De La Soul than De La Soul are.

Me, Myself, And I: Righto, I know this one, or at least I recognise the samples, the obvious Funkadelic one standing out. Indeed, this one seems much more sample heavy than the other tracks on the album so far. That means that it isn’t as empty as others, but loses a bit of originality. The lyrics are stuttered slowly again, and the main guy’s voice really comes across as plain on this one.

This Is A Recording For Living In A Fulltime Era: At this point, yes, the same climb and fall of the vocalist is getting a little annoying – very everyline starts up here, and ends up down there. It’s almost like a white man’s bad mockery of rap, which is probably the biggest insult anyone can give. No doubt it’s still funky, but like Ive said, I prefer my vocalists to have a bit of emotion, or at least not sound identical on every track. No idea what they’re going on about here again, of course. Must be near my bed time.

I Can Do Anything: Do do. More madness.

Daisy Age: Very clicky. Lots of bin lids being jammed together. Nice lyrics. Packed with sounds and scratching, but ending a little too bland and bare for my liking. It gets more dense as it goes along, with backing singers, and ends with more gameshow banter. It’s quirky, but quirky in the way people who think they are quirky, are quirky. Is that it? Are we done?

Colin Larkin’s Ranking: 138/1000

What I Learned: That rap isn’t all about rape, murder, money, and bitches! It’s also about Mars, numbers, potholes, and monkeys.

Deserving Of A Place In Top 1000 Albums Of All Time: It’s a decent album, with many strong tracks, plenty of songs I recognise, and a lot of great ideas, funky beats, funny parts, good lyrics etc etc. I can only imagine that this was groundbreaking for the time – I don’t know enough about the genre to say otherwise, but it’s certainly among the best albums of its type that I’ve heard. I can see why critics fawn all over it, and if it was indeed influential, then it likely deserves its place. But I don’t see its influence anywhere today. I can’t say that it would make my list, but I understand why it seems to make many others. Give me your thoughts in the comments section below – is it one of your favourites? What were you doing when it was first released?