Christgau's Consumer Guide Grade List: A+

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This page has links to reviews of each album:https://www.robertchristgau.com/get_gl.php?g=A%2B

King Sunny Ade: The Best of the Classic Years [2003, Shanachie]
Laurie Anderson: Heart of a Dog [2015, Nonesuch]
Arcade Fire: Neon Bible [2007, Merge]
Louis Armstrong: Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man: 1923-1934 [1994, Columbia/Legacy]
The Beach Boys: Wild Honey [1967, Capitol]
The Beastie Boys: Licensed to Ill [1986, Def Jam]
Chuck Berry: The Definitive Collection [2006, Geffen/Chess]
Art Blakey: Ken Burns Jazz [2000, Verve]
James Brown: Star Time [1991, Polydor]
Ray Charles: A 25th Anniversary in Show Business Salute to Ray Charles [1971, ABC]
The Clash: London Calling [1980, Epic]
The Coasters: 50 Coastin' Classics [1992, Rhino]
Ornette Coleman: Of Human Feelings [1982, Antilles]
The Robert Cray Band: Strong Persuader [1986, Mercury]
Creedence Clearwater Revival: Willy and the Poorboys [1969, Fantasy]
Marshall Crenshaw: Field Day [1983, Warner Bros.]
Culture: Two Sevens Clash [1987, Shanachie]
Miles Davis: Jack Johnson [1971, Columbia]
DeBarge: In a Special Way [1983, Gordy]
Delaney & Bonnie: The Original Delaney & Bonnie [1969, Elektra]
De La Soul: Timeless: The Singles Collection [2003, Tommy Boy/Rhino]
Iris DeMent: My Life [1994, Warner Bros.]
Derek and the Dominos: Layla [1970, Atco]
Bo Diddley: The Chess Box [1990, Chess]
DJ Shadow: Endtroducing . . . DJ Shadow [1996, Mo Wax/FFFR]
Fats Domino: My Blue Heaven -- The Best of Fats Domino (Volume One) [1990, EMI]
Double Dee & Steinski: The Payoff Mix/Lesson Two/Lesson 3 [1985, Tommy Boy]
Bob Dylan: Love and Theft [2001, Columbia]
Bob Dylan: Modern Times [2006, Columbia]
Bob Dylan/The Band: The Basement Tapes [1975, Columbia]
Eno: Another Green World [1976, Island]
Firesign Theatre: How Can You Be in Two Places at Once When You're Not Anywhere At All [1969, Columbia]
Firesign Theatre: Don't Crush That Dwarf, Hand Me the Pliers [1970, Columbia]
Ella Fitzgerald: Ken Burns Jazz [2000, Verve]
Franco: The Very Best of the Rumba Giant of Zaire [2000, Manteca]
Franco: Francophonic [2008, Sterns Africa]
Franco: Francophonic Vol. 2 [2009, Sterns Africa]
Franco & Rochereau: Omona Wapi [1985, Shanachie]
Lefty Frizzell: The Best of Lefty Frizzell [1991, Rhino]
Lefty Frizzell: Look What Thoughts Will Do [1997, Columbia/Legacy]
Ghostface Killah: Fishscale [2006, Def Jam]
Gogol Bordello: Super Taranta! [2007, Side One Dummy]
Grateful Dead: Live/Dead [1969, Warner Bros.]
Al Green: Call Me [1973, Hi]
Al Green: Greatest Hits [1995, The Right Stuff/Hi]
PJ Harvey: Stories From the City, Stories From the Sea [2000, Island]
Billie Holiday: Ken Burns Jazz [2000, Verve]
Billie Holiday + Lester Young: A Musical Romance [2002, Columbia/Legacy]
Michael Hurley/The Unholy Modal Rounders/Jeffrey Fredericks & the Clamtones: Have Moicy! [1976, Rounder]
Mississippi John Hurt: Rediscovered [1998, Vanguard]
Elmore James: The Sky Is Crying: The History of Elmore James [1993, Rhino]
Freedy Johnston: Can You Fly [1992, Bar/None]
Louis Jordan: Five Guys Named Moe: Original Decca Recordings Vol. 2 [1992, MCA]
Latin Playboys: Latin Playboys [1994, Slash/Warner Bros.]
Arto Lindsay: Mundo Civilizado [1997, Bar/None]
Madonna: The Immaculate Collection [1990, Sire]
Magnetic Fields: 69 Love Songs [1999, Merge]
Manfred Mann's Earth Band: Manfred Mann's Earth Band [1972, Polydor]
Curtis Mayfield & the Impressions: The Anthology 1961-1977 [1992, MCA]
The Mekons: Fear and Whiskey [1985, Sin]
M.I.A.: Kala [2007, Interscope]
Mighty Sparrow: Volume One [1993, Ice]
Moby: Play [1999, V2]
Thelonious Monk: Ken Burns Jazz [2000, Columbia/Legacy]
Thelonious Monk: Thelonious Monk Trio [2001, Prestige]
Van Morrison: Moondance [1970, Warner Bros.]
David Murray: Shakill's Warrior [1992, DIW/Columbia]
Youssou N'Dour & Étoile de Dakar: The Rough Guide to
Youssou N'Dour & Étoile de Dakar [2002, World Music Network]
Randy Newman: 12 Songs [1970, Reprise]
New York Dolls: New York Dolls [1973, Mercury]
New York Dolls: In Too Much, Too Soon [1974, Mercury]
New York Dolls: One Day It Will Please Us to Remember Even This [2006, RoadRunner]
Charlie Parker: Now's the Time [1990, Verve]
Charlie Parker: The Legendary Dial Masters [1996, Jazz Classics]
Dolly Parton: Best of Dolly Parton [1975, RCA Victor]
Wilson Pickett: A Man and a Half: The Best of Wilson Pickett [1993, Rhino/Atlantic]
Elvis Presley: 30 #1 Hits [2002, RCA]
Prince: Sign o' the Times [1987, Paisley Park]
Procol Harum: A Salty Dog [1969, A&M]
Richard Pryor: . . . And It's Deep, Too! The Complete Warner Brothers Recordings [2000, Rhino]
Public Enemy: It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back [1988, Def Jam]
The Replacements: Let It Be [1984, Twin/Tone]
Tabu Ley Rochereau: The Voice of Lightness [2007, Sterns Africa]
The Rolling Stones: Exile on Main Street [1972, Rolling Stones]
Sonny Rollins: G-Man [1987, Milestone]
Sonny Rollins: Silver City [1996, Milestone]
Sonny Rollins: Ken Burns Jazz [2000, Verve]
Sonny Rollins: Road Shows Vol. 1 [2008, Doxy/Emarcy]
Run the Jewels: RTJ4 [2020, BMG Rights Management]
The Shirelles: The Very Best of the Shirelles [1994, Rhino]
Paul Simon: Paul Simon [1972, Columbia]
Sly & the Family Stone: Greatest Hits [1970, Epic]
Sly & the Family Stone: There's a Riot Goin' On [1971, Epic]
Sonic Youth: A Thousand Leaves [1998, Geffen]
Bruce Springsteen: Born in the USA [1984, Columbia]
Steely Dan: Pretzel Logic [1974, ABC]
Rod Stewart: Every Picture Tells a Story [1971, Mercury]
Television: Marquee Moon [1977, Elektra]
A Tribe Called Quest: We Got It From Here . . . Thank You 4 Your Service [2016, Epic]
Tricky: Maxinquaye [1995, Island]
Vampire Weekend: Modern Vampires in the City [2013, XL]
Ben Webster: King of the Tenors [1993, Verve]
Kanye West: Late Registration [2005, Roc-A-Fella]
The Who: The Who Sell Out [1995, MCA]
Lucinda Williams: Car Wheels on a Gravel Road [1998, Mercury]
Brian Wilson: SMiLE [2004, Nonesuch]
Wussy: Attica! [2014, Shake It]
X: Wild Gift [1981, Slash]
Neil Young: After the Gold Rush [1970, Reprise]
Neil Young: Rust Never Sleeps [1979, Reprise]
Tom Zé: Brazil Classics 4: The Best of Tom Zé [1990, Luaka Bop/Warner Bros.]

Compilations/Soundtracks

African Connection, Vol. 1: Zaire Choc! [1988, Celluloid]
Anthology of American Folk Music [1997, Smithsonian/Folkways]
The Daisy Age [2018, Koko]
ESPN Presents Slam Jams, Vol. 1 [1997, Tommy Boy]
Girl Group Greats [2001, Rhino]
Guitar Paradise of East Africa [1991, Earthworks]
Hanging Tree Guitars [2020, Music Maker Relief Foundation]
The Indestructible Beat of Soweto [1986, Shanachie]
Motown Classics Gold [2005, Motown]
Motown: The Classic Years [2000, UTV]
The Music in My Head [1998, Sterns]
Postwar Jazz: An Arbitrary Roadmap [2003, no label/Weatherbird]
Roots of Jazz Funk Volume One [1997, MVP]

dow, Tuesday, 8 June 2021 01:03 (two weeks ago) link

i just saw this after reading the pitchfork feature about all their reviews analyzed "by the numbers." is music over? why the retrospective mood?

treeship., Tuesday, 8 June 2021 01:06 (two weeks ago) link

This is an A+ record?

birdistheword, Tuesday, 8 June 2021 01:13 (two weeks ago) link

"Nouveau jock jams, extreme-sports anthems, or wrinkle on a muscle-headed repackaging concept? Don't know, don't care--fabulous new wave comp is what matters. From Madness's "One Step Beyond" to the Modern Lovers' "Roadrunner," with such superobvious milestones as "Ca Plane Pour Moi" and "Dancing With Myself" marking the route, the stoopidity barrels down an expressway to your ass. You will drive to it. Dance, too. Even bungee jump." A+

Great tracks to be fair, but it looks like an excellent hour of radio programming, not a particularly special album.

birdistheword, Tuesday, 8 June 2021 01:15 (two weeks ago) link

I've never heard a lot of these, so they're still new to me (some others I "remember" so distantly they might aw well be/will be as new if I ever listen again). So: what's good, yall? Do you agree with his takes? Grades aside, maybe.

dow, Tuesday, 8 June 2021 01:16 (two weeks ago) link

I'm curious about what could earn such approval, but more interested in his and your descriptions.

dow, Tuesday, 8 June 2021 01:18 (two weeks ago) link

FWIW, his last Q&A column upgraded Nirvana's Nevermind into an A+, so there's another.

The non-compilation albums are all excellent, I won't argue with those, partly because Christgau's criteria for them seems rightfully stringent so he doesn't seem too generous with them. It's only the compilations where I would get nit-picky because they're inherently replaceable (or updateable, if that's even a real word) and therefore much more open to criticism.

birdistheword, Tuesday, 8 June 2021 01:29 (two weeks ago) link

Drive-by takes based on my own listening:

• Of Human Feelings is the best Prime Time album. That said, I can't believe he didn't grapple with Ornette's Atlantic albums when the Beauty Is A Rare Thing box came out in 1993. (If he did, it's not on his website.)
• Of the Miles Davis albums he reviewed (apparently as they came out), Jack Johnson is absolutely not the best. But he clearly can't hear the virtues of most of Davis's electric material, so he grabbed on to the most overtly "rock" one.
• Too many Franco albums
• Shakill's Warrior is a mildly diverting organ record; Murray has much better stuff out there, and I can't believe he ranks it above Ming (also reviewed on his site)
• Of course Sonny Rollins compilations are gonna be great, but G-Man is not as good as he's claiming it is

but also fuck you (unperson), Tuesday, 8 June 2021 01:30 (two weeks ago) link

The Ken Burns Jazz compilations really stick out like a sore thumb, that's for sure. I can think of some good jazz compilations, but the Ken Burns CD's are at best nice beginner's introductions. A+ as learning tools maybe but they can feel very thin.

birdistheword, Tuesday, 8 June 2021 01:31 (two weeks ago) link

I LOVE Jack Johnson. There's more great stuff from his electric period, but I would pick that as my favorite too. Laser focused and tight.

birdistheword, Tuesday, 8 June 2021 01:33 (two weeks ago) link

DeBarge: In a Special Way [1983, Gordy]

this is my favorite album that he loves a lot

mellon collie and the infinite bradness (BradNelson), Tuesday, 8 June 2021 01:42 (two weeks ago) link

i also assume had he ever written a capsule review about it, thelonious monk's misterioso would be on there, as it's his favorite album of all time

mellon collie and the infinite bradness (BradNelson), Tuesday, 8 June 2021 01:44 (two weeks ago) link

Actually, the New York Dolls' One Day It Will Please Us to Remember Even This is one I'd object to. I love the Dolls, but this reunion album is nowhere near as good as Johansen's best stuff, much less anything by the original group. I'm willing to give it another listen though, and "Dance Like a Monkey" was a very good single to hear in the political climate of that year.

Louis Armstrong: Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man: 1923-1934 [1994, Columbia/Legacy]: this box set actually makes a lot of sense, and it's great to hear a wider selection from Armstrong's peak years put together like this. (Not just the Hot 5's and 7's but also highlights with Fletcher Henderson and King Oliver among others). But the sound quality is kind of lacking. I'd sooner get the much cheaper JSP set mastered by the late, great John R.T. Davies - the Penguin Guide to Jazz rightfully singled that out for years as the best Armstrong set anywhere.

Charlie Parker: The Legendary Dial Masters [1996, Jazz Classics]: I'd sooner get the Complete Savoy and Dial sessions, an 8 CD set that put the work from both labels together for the first time ever (and in correct order to boot). That's a real A+.

As for some of those Ken Burns-approved intros:

Thelonious Monk: Ken Burns Jazz [2000, Columbia/Legacy] and Thelonious Monk: Thelonious Monk Trio [2001, Prestige]: Christgau's a huge Monk fan but personally I would recommend the complete Blue Note recordings, which has been available in various forms. They've really improved the sound on those reissues since 2000 thanks to better sources.

Billie Holiday: Ken Burns Jazz [2000, Verve]: I prefer the Columbia master takes, which can be bought on a budget 4CD Sony reissue, or the Verve master takes.

Ella Fitzgerald: Ken Burns Jazz [2000, Verve]: If I had to pick one Ella album, it's the "Best of the Songbooks"- a great single disc compilation. But the Duke Ellington Songbook is probably my favorite of the famous Songbook series, even though the Cole Porter and Gershwin sets are probably more popular.

birdistheword, Tuesday, 8 June 2021 01:49 (two weeks ago) link

There’s now a 3CD Parker set, The Complete Savoy & Dial Master Takes, that’s my go-to. I had the 8CD one and there were way too many alternate versions, false starts, etc. I’m not Phil Schaap; I don’t need every note Parker ever recorded, just the core curriculum.

but also fuck you (unperson), Tuesday, 8 June 2021 01:57 (two weeks ago) link

I think those are an odd trio of Dylan albums to award an A+, but whatever.

like a d4mn sociopath! (morrisp), Tuesday, 8 June 2021 01:59 (two weeks ago) link

but the Ken Burns CD's are at best nice beginner's introductions.


I mean...that’s exactly the point, isn’t it? It’s a Consumer Guide, the discographies of the artists covered in the Mr. Burns series are daunting for those newly discovering them...so XGau’s advising casual/new arrivals on some of the entry points.

Montgomery Burns' Jazz (Tarfumes The Escape Goat), Tuesday, 8 June 2021 02:02 (two weeks ago) link

rson), Monday, June 7, 2021 9:57 PM (five minutes ago) bookmarkflaglink

You're an odd trio

So who you gonna call? The martini police (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 8 June 2021 02:02 (two weeks ago) link

j/k

So who you gonna call? The martini police (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 8 June 2021 02:03 (two weeks ago) link

lol, you got copy & paste trigger happy :P

like a d4mn sociopath! (morrisp), Tuesday, 8 June 2021 02:06 (two weeks ago) link

There’s now a 3CD Parker set, The Complete Savoy & Dial Master Takes, that’s my go-to. I had the 8CD one and there were way too many alternate versions, false starts, etc. I’m not Phil Schaap; I don’t need every note Parker ever recorded, just the core curriculum.

In this case, it's much less of an issue for me because 1) the sequencing wisely places the alternates after the masters, so in many cases just hitting "stop" earlier avoids the alternates - the problem with some earlier jazz CD reissues was when they stacked alternates on to the master takes; 2) the masters were typically the best group performances, but Parker had great, inventive solos on many alternates that shouldn't feel redundant at all - take 2 of "Parker's Mood" is especially a highlight; 3) it's CD so skipping through tracks takes so little effort, it doesn't bother me the slightest. If anything, it's the perfect format for more inclusive sets like these - if it was vinyl or cassette, it would be a colossal pain

I mean...that’s exactly the point, isn’t it? It’s a Consumer Guide, the discographies of the artists covered in the Mr. Burns series are daunting for those newly discovering them...so XGau’s advising casual/new arrivals on some of the entry points.

I also noticed Christgau emphatically stating that "A plusses should be eternal" to which I agree in the sense that they're eternal to the same listener (which may be what he means as well). What's nice as an introduction can feel very unsatisfactory once you've become very familiar to the same artist. Most "greatest hits" sets are like that - they're typically great if you know nothing of the artist, but to me an A+ greatest hits will also feel like the definitive word on the same artist once you get through their albums or the era covered by them. (Like Sly & the Family Stone's pre-Riot hits collection - you can't do better.)

birdistheword, Tuesday, 8 June 2021 02:13 (two weeks ago) link

There are many albums here that I agree are classics, many others that I can understand if someone thinks they are classics, and many that I'm not very familiar with. There are not too many that I know pretty well and think are mediocre. In that category I might be tempted to put "Modern Vampires in the City". He seems to have a weakness for late-career albums that surpass expectations, but perhaps shouldn't be rated ahead of the stuff that made them famous, but I admire him for sticking to his guns on those.

o. nate, Tuesday, 8 June 2021 02:43 (two weeks ago) link

Sonic Youth: A Thousand Leaves [1998, Geffen]

oh this is my other favorite. he's right

mellon collie and the infinite bradness (BradNelson), Tuesday, 8 June 2021 02:45 (two weeks ago) link

mvotc is the critical favourite vw album still i think, despite clearly being their worst

neon bible is just solid rather than classic or anything, weird pick

wild honey as his beach boys pick is a pretty unconventional choice too

ufo, Tuesday, 8 June 2021 02:54 (two weeks ago) link

For what it's worth, as you move back into the '60s, reviews are more scattershot. (I think the CG began in '68 or '69.) The Who Sell Out is there because it was part of a big 1967 roundup he did in Rolling Stone, long after the album came out. Some things turned up as reissues, and there are lots of '60s compilations. But my guess is that Wild Honey isn't his favourite Beach Boys album, it's just one that's covered by the life of the Consumer Guide.

clemenza, Tuesday, 8 June 2021 03:34 (two weeks ago) link

is music over? why the retrospective mood?

nwe borad decsprition

Long Tall Arsetee & the Shaker Intros (breastcrawl), Tuesday, 8 June 2021 08:57 (two weeks ago) link

he seems to have a weakness for late-career albums that surpass expectations

Yes. Or realizing an act is good, thereby deserving an overrated second or third album

So who you gonna call? The martini police (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 8 June 2021 09:29 (two weeks ago) link

birdisthe word: Xgau values concise albums; he acclaims compilations that are able to cover long careers in a short span of time. He'll often say review certain large box sets as "for specialists only" or "completist rather than listenable". One appeal of the Ken Burns Jazz CDs: they are still the only career-wide compilations for some of the featured artists. Also, an A plus for Slam Jams may just mean "I loved every song on this CD every time I put it on".

clemenza: Wild Honey predates the Consumer Guide. I'm sure it's his genuine favourite Beach Boys record, he wrote recently and touchingly about how "Darlin'" helped him and his wife through some sort of health scare/downturn.

Some of these ratings are peculiar to their era: he gave SMiLE such a high rating partly because he believed the record would motivate boomers to return to their youthful idealism and vote Bush out in 2004.

There are a lot of great records here: I'm partial to A Salty Dog but he has more recently said that it's not good enough for an A plus.

Halfway there but for you, Tuesday, 8 June 2021 13:51 (two weeks ago) link

what a dull fucker

imago, Tuesday, 8 June 2021 13:54 (two weeks ago) link

Indeed.

pomenitul, Tuesday, 8 June 2021 13:55 (two weeks ago) link

he manages to be a bit idiosyncratic without actually being interesting most of the time

ufo, Tuesday, 8 June 2021 14:00 (two weeks ago) link

Most of these are worthy of praise. Some of these are worthy of praise with sort of an asterisk (based on impact/import, say, or using hits collections as a kind of cheat). A few of these are A+ records only in Xgau's head, but keeping his tastes in mind for context I can see why he's at least argue the case. Like, there are a few things on there I don't personally *like* or listen to but I can see why they might mean a lot to someone else.

Josh in Chicago, Tuesday, 8 June 2021 14:02 (two weeks ago) link

100 CDs You Need To Own If You Are Opening Up A Coffeshop in 2008

nobody like my rap (One Eye Open), Tuesday, 8 June 2021 14:07 (two weeks ago) link

Latin Playboys: Latin Playboys [1994, Slash/Warner Bros.]

This is the one that jumped out at me, atmospheric, slightly experimental latin roots rock.

His choices are certainly idiosyncratic - "Heart Of A Dog" is an A+ Laurie Anderson album?? And I dig Wussy but "Attica" isn't even their best. *shrug*

Gerald McBoing-Boing, Tuesday, 8 June 2021 14:45 (two weeks ago) link

I love that Procol Harum album!

imagine listening to so much music and still being so completely obsessed with posturing

Linda and Jodie Rocco (map), Tuesday, 8 June 2021 15:02 (two weeks ago) link

that is a dig at christgau to be clear.

Linda and Jodie Rocco (map), Tuesday, 8 June 2021 15:05 (two weeks ago) link

that Latin Playboys album is so good

I always look at lists like these to see what I can learn from them. I don't understand looking for overrated warhorses as an excuse to dismiss the entire list. Like, just now I started wondering, "maybe there's something I might appreciate in Lefty Frizzell...?"

Halfway there but for you, Tuesday, 8 June 2021 15:11 (two weeks ago) link

chuckling at gogol bordello

global tetrahedron, Tuesday, 8 June 2021 15:20 (two weeks ago) link

I see now that Wild Honey was part of that same RS 1967 roundup...He didn't quite list it on his Top 50 list recently (his wife did), but it was on his work list.

clemenza, Tuesday, 8 June 2021 15:29 (two weeks ago) link

yeah gogol bordello might be the only truly embarrassing selection

nobody like my rap (One Eye Open), Tuesday, 8 June 2021 15:31 (two weeks ago) link

I don’t think the problem is a lack of overrated warhorses; for me, it’s a lack of many interesting/provocative choices around albums I do know (which would be signposts that there’s something to be learned from digging deeper). It just reads like some guy’s personal taste.

like a d4mn sociopath! (morrisp), Tuesday, 8 June 2021 15:36 (two weeks ago) link

I don't know, I think those things are in there. Like, why this Tribe Called Quest album and not either of the first two? Why Sign o the Times and not Purple Rain? Flipside of that, why Born in the USA and not Born to Run? Many of these albums are warhorses or classics or canon or whatever because so much time has passed, but given so many of the artists listed are themselves warhorses or classic or canon themselves, sometimes the choices he makes can still be interesting. Again, like why that Ornette album, which iirc was even out of print for eons? Or why the first Paul Simon, but not Graceland (which got a rave of an A, which I suspect he downgraded from an A+ for political reasons)? Or how the African stuff might ostensibly be obvious (now), but honestly wasn't (and isn't) to the vast majority of Americans?

Josh in Chicago, Tuesday, 8 June 2021 15:43 (two weeks ago) link

Or, for example, why those Dylan albums, out of all of them, including collections, get the A+s.

Josh in Chicago, Tuesday, 8 June 2021 15:44 (two weeks ago) link

that Tribe album is literally the only intersection with my own canon of 10/10s lol, difference being that I am not the soi-disant Dean of American Rock Critics

imago, Tuesday, 8 June 2021 15:48 (two weeks ago) link

xp Well the Dylan choices are a good example—if those are someone’s three favorite Dylan releases since 1970 (including, exactly, the first few Bootleg Series collections), it’s hard to think our taste will be very simpatico. Somehow his choices are unexpected yet boring.

like a d4mn sociopath! (morrisp), Tuesday, 8 June 2021 15:50 (two weeks ago) link

idgi, love and theft and the basement tapes are excellent picks

mellon collie and the infinite bradness (BradNelson), Tuesday, 8 June 2021 15:51 (two weeks ago) link

I think (per my Graceland example) his reasoning sometimes becomes more clear when you read the review(s). Other times, opaque and arbitrary, but it ain't a science.

Josh in Chicago, Tuesday, 8 June 2021 15:52 (two weeks ago) link

xpost But as canon building goes, would you tell someone to start with those? That's how I read his reviews when I was a lot younger. "Wow, an A+, I should start with such and such." Which I think is not necessarily the right way to do it.

Josh in Chicago, Tuesday, 8 June 2021 15:53 (two weeks ago) link

basement tapes is maybe a little unwieldy and steeped in its own myth, but fuck yeah i'd use love and theft to introduce someone to dylan and they'd probably really like it

mellon collie and the infinite bradness (BradNelson), Tuesday, 8 June 2021 15:54 (two weeks ago) link

Yeah, there was at least one guy on the old alt.music.sonic-youth group who complained that Steve Shelley "turned them into REM" and led them to betray their no wave roots.

I remember somebody complaining in the late 90s (possibly on alt.music.sonic-youth) that he is still waiting for them to do another "I dreamed I dream"

silverfish, Tuesday, 8 June 2021 19:36 (two weeks ago) link

he gave SMiLE such a high rating partly because he believed the record would motivate boomers to return to their youthful idealism and vote Bush out in 2004

oh my god that’s adorable. he still believes in The Movement man. now listen here people we all know McGovern isn’t quite hip enough but dig this,

Left, Tuesday, 8 June 2021 19:41 (two weeks ago) link

he gave SMiLE such a high rating partly because he believed the record would motivate boomers to return to their youthful idealism and vote Bush out in 2004

That's pretty rich. Anyway, the A+ seemed ridiculous coming from a guy who trashed the officially released SMiLE recordings as overrated (among many other things) since the very beginning. I admit that hearing the stuff edited into a proper album was surprisingly enlightening - suddenly, it wasn't a jumbled mess, there really was something close to a finished album sitting in those bootlegs. But I was never convinced that Wilson's modern-day vocals were transformative, at least not in the way Christgau said they were.

birdistheword, Tuesday, 8 June 2021 19:59 (two weeks ago) link

thanx to this thread I’ve been listening to Tabu Ley Rochereau’s Voice of Lightness all evening (just started Vol. 1/Album 2), so thanx, thread! (and rob in particular!)

Long Tall Arsetee & the Shaker Intros (breastcrawl), Tuesday, 8 June 2021 20:14 (two weeks ago) link

gorgeous stuff, eh?

So who you gonna call? The martini police (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 8 June 2021 20:14 (two weeks ago) link

oh yes

Long Tall Arsetee & the Shaker Intros (breastcrawl), Tuesday, 8 June 2021 20:16 (two weeks ago) link

there is probably more good than bad here on balance but rme @ merritt, AF, VW, shadow, moby, all the boomer icons

at least he kept listening to jazz unlike many others but did he only follow people he already liked in the 60s?

I’m assuming his love for the dead was an acid thing since they don’t fit in very well with his later preferences

Left, Tuesday, 8 June 2021 20:18 (two weeks ago) link

I have a hard time going along with this sort of thing. Plenty of great artists go to shit for a variety of reasons, and unless it casts their other work in some horrible, sordid light, I never bought the idea that their worst work somehow devalues their best.

Yeah, I thought that was weird. “The old records I used to love are now bad because the new records are bad.”

Montgomery Burns' Jazz (Tarfumes The Escape Goat), Tuesday, 8 June 2021 20:21 (two weeks ago) link

xp
oh that's great! Vol. 1 is super high on my list of go-to music to put on when I have people over, just absolutely charming music. The Francophonic collections are also very worth your time

im dum (rob), Tuesday, 8 June 2021 20:23 (two weeks ago) link

I suspect you know this one already, breastcrawl, but just in case King Sunny Ade: The Best of the Classic Years [2003, Shanachie] is rad too, though more intense than the Congolese stuff

im dum (rob), Tuesday, 8 June 2021 20:25 (two weeks ago) link

Be sure to scroll down to Gone But Not Forgotten! (I dunno why he put them there)

Those were records that were out of print when he was compiling the Core Collection list (circa 1990 apparently). The Core Collection list seems much more conventional rock canon than his A+ list. Perhaps just by virtue of being out of print the Gone But Not Forgotten list is a bit more idiosyncratic.

o. nate, Tuesday, 8 June 2021 20:32 (two weeks ago) link

you’d be surprised how unfamiliar I am with so many of the African old school classics. my knowledge of KSA is very shallow as well. I mean, I love it when I do hear it (Yondo Sister’s “Wapiyo” felt like the best song ever when I played it last week after it was posted on the Old School Afropop thread, for instance), I just prefer listening to current stuff most of the time.

xp to rob

Long Tall Arsetee & the Shaker Intros (breastcrawl), Tuesday, 8 June 2021 20:37 (two weeks ago) link

(I feel like I’ve written similar posts on these threads more than once before)

Long Tall Arsetee & the Shaker Intros (breastcrawl), Tuesday, 8 June 2021 20:43 (two weeks ago) link

that makes sense, and your service in that dept is much appreciated!

im dum (rob), Tuesday, 8 June 2021 20:45 (two weeks ago) link

Be sure to scroll down to Gone But Not Forgotten! (I dunno why he put them there)

Those were records that were out of print when he was compiling the Core Collection list (circa 1990 apparently) That's what I thought, 'til I noticed Station To Station, although *possibly* there was a Bowie-mandated hiatus between the RCA and RKYO editions?? And possibly, I guess One Nation Under A Groove(1978) and Into The Music (1979) were already cut out.

dow, Tuesday, 8 June 2021 20:56 (two weeks ago) link

Dunno if it was a Bowie-mandated hiatus, but Station To Station was definitely out of print in 1990; the Ryko CD came out in mid-‘91.

Montgomery Burns' Jazz (Tarfumes The Escape Goat), Tuesday, 8 June 2021 21:46 (two weeks ago) link

RCA shenanigans. Most of his catalog was hard to find outside used record store in the late '80s, I keep hearing.

So who you gonna call? The martini police (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 8 June 2021 21:57 (two weeks ago) link

it's so weird how some stuff that is totally canon now was hard to find

i know the cowboy junkies cover of "sweet jane" by velvet underground is that way because it's based on the slow and mellow version from the 1969 live comp that was apparently the only thing you could really find back when they were in school

Jeff Rougvie of Rykodisc actually posted about this several years ago. It's an interesting read for Bowie fanatics. In short, RCA seriously undervalued the worth of Bowie's catalog (which Rougvie discovered when looking over their sales projections), and Bowie could probably tell from the way they were handling things, which is why he took back his catalog to license elsewhere. It took a while (a full year?) to get Bowie's inventory at RCA shipped to Rykodisc in Salem, MA and properly sorted out and accounted for, and I imagine that's when the Bowie catalog was allowed to fall out-of-print. RCA no longer had the rights, so they wouldn't be pressing any more copies, and Rykodisc wasn't going to put out a shoddy product (the old RCA CD's were NOT done from the masters, far from it), so they needed time to audition and track down every tape and then properly master it, as well as all the other shit like picking out bonus tracks, designing artwork, etc.

birdistheword, Tuesday, 8 June 2021 22:07 (two weeks ago) link

Yeah. Hell, the Feelies based their sound on the "What Goes On" riffing in that live version.

So who you gonna call? The martini police (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 8 June 2021 22:07 (two weeks ago) link

Ziggy Stardust appeared on so many best-of lists through the late '80s (including Rolling Stone's) because it was one of the few Bowie albums RCA kept in print. The reputation of the Berlin Trilogy and STS came later.

So who you gonna call? The martini police (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 8 June 2021 22:08 (two weeks ago) link

Weird, I thought I had heard that Loaded was the one VU album that was never out-of-print.

Halfway there but for you, Tuesday, 8 June 2021 22:09 (two weeks ago) link

I started buying Bowie Rykodisc editions at mall record stores in the summer of '93 and the moment was for sure a wtf thing: this dude had THIS catalog?

The Rykos are what I still own.

So who you gonna call? The martini police (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 8 June 2021 22:10 (two weeks ago) link

I bought Live 1969, VU & Nico, and Loaded, all new, in the summer of 1981 (I think, maybe it was 1982) in Tuscaloosa.

In my house are many Manchins (WmC), Tuesday, 8 June 2021 22:28 (two weeks ago) link

don't the audio maniacs on the hoffman forum prefer the early rca bowie cds? they're not easy to come by.

Thus Sang Freud, Tuesday, 8 June 2021 22:29 (two weeks ago) link

Weird, I thought I had heard that Loaded was the one VU album that was never out-of-print.


I’m pretty sure that was the case, yeah. I bought it (new) in 1985, having snapped up the then-new Verve reissues (“Special Low Price!”) and VU. Loaded, being on a different label, wasn’t part of that reissue program, but was still in print.

Montgomery Burns' Jazz (Tarfumes The Escape Goat), Tuesday, 8 June 2021 22:41 (two weeks ago) link

don't the audio maniacs on the hoffman forum prefer the early rca bowie cds? they're not easy to come by.

Yes, they collectively drove up the value of those CD's to ridiculous prices. I've come across two and copies of the others...there's no way in hell I'd recommend them to anyone, especially for more than a few dollars each.

The Rykodisc reissues aren't perfect - they shaved off the bass cloud and they're too trebly for my tastes - but you can at least re-EQ them. The Virgin reissues from the late '90s and early '00s are terrible. The new Parlophones are hit-or-miss because they used very different approaches in mastering on different albums (partly because they were done by different mastering engineers over six or seven years).

birdistheword, Tuesday, 8 June 2021 22:52 (two weeks ago) link

So I was right about Bowie-mandated hiatus, b-but y-yall it's Rock Library: Before 1980, not 1990, which is why I was like eh,One Nation Under A Groove(1978) and Into The Music (1979)? although, yeah, maybe they were already gone, as Glenn and Don would put it.

Bowie took the masters back, as basis of this:
Bowie Bonds

Bowie Bonds are asset-backed securities of current and future revenues of the 25 albums (287 songs) that David Bowie recorded before 1990. Bowie Bonds were pioneered in 1997 by rock and roll investment banker David Pullman.[1] Issued in 1997, the bonds were bought for US$55 million by the Prudential Insurance Company of America, or about $88.7 million in today's dollars.[2][3][4] The bonds paid an interest rate of 7.9% and had an average life of ten years,[5] a higher rate of return than a 10-year Treasury note (at the time, 6.37%).[4] Royalties from the 25 albums generated the cash flow that secured the bonds' interest payments.[6] Prudential also received guarantees from Bowie's label, EMI Records, which had recently signed a $30m deal with Bowie.[4] By forfeiting ten years worth of royalties, Bowie was able to receive a payment of US$55 million up front. Bowie used this income to buy songs owned by his former manager.[5] Bowie's combined catalog of albums covered by this agreement sold more than 1 million copies annually at the time of the agreement.[4] Shortly after launching, however, the rise of MP3 sharing caused music piracy to rise, and music sales to drop,[7] which was one of the factors that led Moody's Investors Service to lower the bonds from an A3 rating (the seventh highest rating) to Baa3, one notch above junk status.[8][9] The downgrade was prompted by lower-than-expected revenue "due to weakness in sales for recorded music" and that an unnamed company guaranteed the issue.[10] Despite this, the Bowie bonds liquidated in 2007 as originally planned, without default, and the rights to the income from the songs reverted to Bowie.[11] from "Celebrity Bonds," though "Bowie Bonds became the general term at least for a while: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Celebrity_bond

dow, Tuesday, 8 June 2021 22:54 (two weeks ago) link

yeah that was a huge story in 1999. It mattered more than hours

So who you gonna call? The martini police (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 8 June 2021 22:59 (two weeks ago) link

he Rykodisc reissues aren't perfect - they shaved off the bass cloud and they're too trebly for my tastes - but you can at least re-EQ them. The Virgin reissues from the late '90s and early '00s are terrible. The new Parlophones are hit-or-miss because they used very different approaches in mastering on different albums (partly because they were done by different mastering engineers over six or seven years).

It's especially noticeable on Young Americans, on which every instrument has a resonance I hadn't heard: a transformed album.

So who you gonna call? The martini police (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 8 June 2021 22:59 (two weeks ago) link

In a good way? I've never heard any version of that album.

dow, Tuesday, 8 June 2021 23:03 (two weeks ago) link

I want to, though never liked the title hit---"Win" is a lot better though, right? (Must check that new DB trib w We Are KING et al)

dow, Tuesday, 8 June 2021 23:06 (two weeks ago) link

wait, after all these years? It's one of his best!

So who you gonna call? The martini police (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 8 June 2021 23:09 (two weeks ago) link

I didn’t like Young Americans when I first heard it, which was the Ryko reissue. I didn’t dislike it, I just felt neutral towards it, so I ended up selling it. Some years later, I bought the Parlophone reissue, and now I love it. I dunno how much of that is due to the mastering, or how much is due to how my feelings about it have changed over the intervening years, but I find it thrilling in a way I definitely didn’t before.

(Also, the Ryko CD was hilariously packaged in a CD holder/display unit, coupled with a “bonus” CD of “Fame” remixes, which were all essentially worthless.)

Montgomery Burns' Jazz (Tarfumes The Escape Goat), Tuesday, 8 June 2021 23:14 (two weeks ago) link

so many damn rhythm guitars recorded!

So who you gonna call? The martini police (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 8 June 2021 23:15 (two weeks ago) link

"Fascination," my favorite album track, is essentially transformed.

So who you gonna call? The martini police (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 8 June 2021 23:15 (two weeks ago) link

Cool, I'll try it, thanks! A strange gap for me, but yknow 70s and here came all the young dudes, flooding the news, and I was ballin' on a budget (though I did manage to buy or hear everything else from that era, mostly for better, sometimes for worse)

dow, Tuesday, 8 June 2021 23:20 (two weeks ago) link

Every other Bowie album from that era, I mean.

dow, Tuesday, 8 June 2021 23:21 (two weeks ago) link

Looked for Parlophone version on Amazon, seeing customer reviews of several editions all together: Are you referring to, say, the 2016 remaster, also associated w Rhino? If so, favorable comments on that.

dow, Tuesday, 8 June 2021 23:34 (two weeks ago) link

I should look at discogs, but the ads have been crashing my old computer lately.

dow, Tuesday, 8 June 2021 23:36 (two weeks ago) link

2016 yeah

So who you gonna call? The martini police (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 8 June 2021 23:39 (two weeks ago) link

The 2016 Parlophone remasters were distributed by Rhino in the U.S., but yeah, same mastering.

The new 2016 remaster is also the best digital mastering of Young Americans because the Rykodisc CD accidentally used alternate mixes for half of the tracks. Rykodisc used what they thought was the best-sounding tape without realizing the mix was actually different. (The songs with the original mixes were sourced from a production copy. It's possible the original master tape for Young Americans has been lost since the '70s or '80s, unless they found them for the new remaster - I was under the impression they hadn't.)

birdistheword, Tuesday, 8 June 2021 23:52 (two weeks ago) link

Very cool, thanks, guys.

dow, Wednesday, 9 June 2021 00:16 (two weeks ago) link

OMG, yall are right! Just listened: Phlly Soul as proto-alt.r&b, Bowie and Vandross and other voices swimming in the bass, in the buttermilk, developmental and accomplished. Ancestry of BlackStar, even.

dow, Wednesday, 9 June 2021 01:39 (two weeks ago) link

Really some peak work of Vandross, seems like, though I'm far from expert. Anybody heard his 70s (60s?) band Luther?

dow, Wednesday, 9 June 2021 01:41 (two weeks ago) link

Judge for yourself how much of Vandross' composition Bowie used:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Plr5r-RmFp4

So who you gonna call? The martini police (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, 9 June 2021 01:49 (two weeks ago) link

Oho, never heard him do anything like that before, can imagine Nicky Siano spinning it at The Gallery (hopefully there's more on the album, and this is the radio edit, developing to a peak, sticking around just long enough to make sure it's registered, then "Get up" and gone).
Maybe Young Americans got mixed reviews because it didn't sound like the 2016 mix? Wild details:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Young_Americans#cite_note-CG81-49

dow, Wednesday, 9 June 2021 02:18 (two weeks ago) link

Just to clarity, the 2016 reissue is a new mastering, not a new mix. In fact, it's the original mix that was used on the original LP as well as most CD releases.

The only exception is the Rykodisc CD which used alternate mixes on some (but not all) tracks.

FWIW, mastering is just the process of cutting the final mixdown on to a vinyl record or "encoding" it for digital release. At minimum it's just transferring to the relevant medium (and in the case of vinyl, making sure it can play back properly since it's much more complicated to do). But mastering can also entail a lot of aesthetic choices (or destructive revisionist choices, sadly) like EQ, additional compression, and other processing. Mixing is kind of like editing in a movie, and mastering is kind of like the color correction and finishing you need to do when creating the DCP or film prints.

birdistheword, Wednesday, 9 June 2021 19:36 (two weeks ago) link

Thanks. Seems like this 2016 master might possibly have been an influence on the new Bowie trib Modern Love, which also has me imagining a 90s Red Hot + Bowie, with cosmopolitan R&B voices x synths gliding through each other--and, right after hearing this remastered original, was esp. struck by the way Khruangbin's cover of "Right" stands on its own (unlike several fairly meh tracks before it).
Contributors seek to bring out the Bo's soul, funk, jazz and gospel traits---this last in the nay-saying, yet "Get me to the church on time" of the title track so gospel not gospel?!
Mostly they go for less-obvious, and often less-well sung originals, a or the major exception on both counts being We Are KING's "Space Oddity," with fun production, but the cool voices keep a lid on excitement, as his herky-jerky fervency def didn't.
Modern jazz development of "Heroes" (centered around also cool but affecting singing of Michael Taveres) is the damndest thing/honors the original (this would be yer Hal Willner 90s track)(Not jazz but also w appropriate and decided difference from orig.:Léa Sen's "Golden Years."
Since I'm in this deep, Ill say that my favorite playlist from this, because cohesively eerie and intense and mobile, is:
2.Sound and Vision – Helado Negro 03:21
7.Right – Khruangbin 05:08
10.Move On – L’Rain 04:00
14.Golden Years – Léa Sen 02:56
15.Fantastic Voyage – Meshell Ndegeocello 03:58
17.Heroes – Matthew Tavares 08:41
Also like these, which can work interspersed with those:
8.Silly Boy Blue – Nia Andrews 02:37
9.Chant of the Ever Circling Skeletal Family – Foxtrott 03:11
11.Modern Love – Jonah Mutono 03:19
12.Where Are We Now – Bullion 03:31
13.Tnght – Eddie Chacon, John Carroll Kirby 03:35
https://bbemusic.bandcamp.com/album/modern-love
Also RIYL Moses Boyd's jazzoid Dark Matter, which suggest some shadings of early Massive Attack and Soul II Soul and maybe Bowie-Eno

dow, Wednesday, 9 June 2021 23:24 (two weeks ago) link

I liked this line in his Lou Reed (covers) CG review today: "Equally impressive is the lyricism of such varied female admirers as June Tabor, Rachel Sweet, Tracey Thorn, and Susanna Hoffs all singing as if Nico has never crossed their minds."

clemenza, Wednesday, 9 June 2021 23:45 (two weeks ago) link


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