ten

GUEST SHOT: 30 Albums that Uncle Meat Thinks You Should Visit (Or Re-Visit) Part 3

Meat is back for the final installment of his essential list:  30 Albums that Uncle Meat Thinks You Should Visit (Or Re-Visit).

Missed any?

Here’s Part 1.  

Part 2 is here.

And make no mistake, Meat wrote every word.  No messing around from me.  Enjoy!

PET SOUNDS   –  THE BEACH BOYS (1966)

When The Beatles released Rubber Soul in 1965, Brian Wilson heard something that inspired him to try and make his own masterpiece.  The result was Pet Sounds, which saw The Beach Boys discard their typical surf-inspired ditties and create an album that will always be a classic.  I remember when I first heard this album I was completely blown away that it was a 1966 album.  The overall sound of it is so full and rich, and it’s funny how everyone thinks The Beatles main influence for Sgt. Peppers was drug-related, and I am sure it was, but that classic would never have been without this classic album first.  Do yourself a favour and re-discover The Beach Boys by checking this out.

 

QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE  –  QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE (1998)

There are a lot of people that think that the QOTSA album Rated R, is the band’s first release.  In all reality it is their third release if you count the Kyuss/Queens of the Stone Age EP. However, it is a shame that this album has been somewhat overlooked.  I think it is by far their best album.  To gauge just how much I got into this album could never be measured.  For years, I stated that this album was my favorite album ever with distortion.  Now trust me I realize the exaggeration in that statement (I have since relented) but it doesn’t take away how brilliant I believe this album truly is.   This is a true collection of groovy rock songs, so much so that QOTSA could have titled this album exactly that.  I have not been a fan of the last few QOTSA albums, and frankly I wish they could harness this approach once again.  Check out the included track “Avon”.  An absolute air-drumming seminar at its finest!!

 

ROXY & ELSEWHERE  –  FRANK ZAPPA & THE MOTHERS (1974)

One of the albums previously on this list, Joe Jackson’s Big World, was a live album containing new material.  Considering the content of this particular album, that format was never more impressive or more challenging than Zappa’s album Roxy & Elsewhere.   From beginning to end, it’s hard to believe the complexity of what was happening onstage during these recordings.  From the colourful vocals of Napoleon Murphy Brock, to the guitar-fueled madness of Zappa himself, this is my personal favorite of all of Zappa’s recordings.  Songs like “Pygmy Twilite” and “Village of the Sun” are absolute genius.  The concert film of these recordings is STILL in limbo for whatever reason.  Included is a clip of the song “Montana”, recorded during these sessions but not included on the album itself.

 

 

SCENES FROM A MEMORY-METROPOLIS 2  –  DREAM THEATER (1999)

I simply couldn’t do a list like this without including Dream Theater.   I like heavy music and I like progressive music.  This band combines those two qualities perhaps better than any band ever has, and on this album its done to perfection.  This is your classic “concept album” and tells an interesting story that needs to be experienced.  But the true experience of this album is that it is a piece of song-writing and musical brilliance.  If you have seen Rush’s biopic Beyond The Lighted Stage,   you might recognize the now-familiar voice of long-time Rush producer Terry Brown (who also produced the vocals on this album).   The album sees John Petrucci and Mike Portnoy at their monster best and requires many listens to truly appreciate.  I am not a “Rolling Stone” magazine guy myself, but it does say something that in 2012 they named this album as the Number One all-time progressive album, beating out Rush’s 2112 and Yes’s  Close to The Edge.

THE ACTION IS GO  –  FU MANCHU (1997)

This album starts off with a bang, it also ends with a bang and actually this album is just one big resounding rhythmic bang.  After a few good, but not great albums (in my opinion), new drummer Brant Bjork was brought into Fu Manchu.  This would result in one of the greatest “Stoner-Rock” albums of all time.  This is literally the perfect driving album.  Sometimes you find yourself emulating driving just sitting and listening to it.   You can hear a huge Sabbath influence on this album, at least in the sound of the instruments and the driving low end.  Sometimes the vocals can leave a bit to be desired, but it is not really singing in the first place.  Almost sounds like a dude talkin’ to himself, which adds to the coolness of this album.  One of my favorite albums of the 1990’s indeed.

WELCOME TO SKY VALLEY  –  KYUSS (1994)

Somewhere around early 1995, I walked into a Sunrise Records where Tom (Tom has been mentioned many times in Mike’s blogs) was working.  At this point Tom and I only really knew each other from local concerts we would run into each other at.  The second I walked in he begged me to check out this Kyuss album on the listening station.  I remember the look on his face when I didn’t instantly “get it”.  Years later I had to bow to him and thank him for trying to open my eyes earlier.  No one knows how to set a mood quite like Kyuss.  The last album listed was Brant Bjork’s first album with Fu Manchu.  This album is the last Kyuss album featuring Brant Bjork on drums.  No coincidence here.  This man knows how to wash songs with a subtle intensity.  Check out the song “Demon Cleaner” sometime, with Josh Homme singing and see how Queens of the Stone Age were born.  This album has been listed as a major influence for many of the heavy metal greats of the day.

 

WHALE MUSIC  –  THE RHEOSTATICS (1994)

The Rheostatics are definitely one of my favorite bands of all time, and the artist I have seen live the most in my life.  Any band that calls their first album Greatest Hits obviously has a good sense of humour.  There really is no album that quite captures “Canadiana” quite like Whale Music.  Not to be confused with the later-released official soundtrack of the same name, this album ranges from the sweet to the insane.  Take the song “Queer” for example.  “Well the screen door is still broken, since you kicked your Kodiaks through it” and “I scored a hat trick on the team that called you a fuckin’ queer”, are lyrics that paint a Canadian portrait of everyday life.  I love this album and frequently re-visit it only to find it gets better with age.  Notable appearances on this album are Neil Peart on a song called “Guns” and The Barenaked Ladies (credited as The Scarborough Naked Youth Choir).   Included here is the amazing opening track.  Check it out eh ….

WHITE PEPPER  –  WEEN (2000)

Simply put, this is my favorite “Pop” album of all time.  I am not a Ween fan per se. I cannot say I have actually connected strongly with any of their other albums.  But when this album was introduced to me, it grabbed a hold of me and it will never let go.  First of all, the sound on this album is absolutely wonderful.  Second of all, the melodies on this album (with sprinkles of Ween weirdness of course) are something very reminiscent of The Beatles.  I have always tagged this album as their “Beatles tribute”, and it was pointed out to me by a friend that “The White Album? Sgt. Peppers?  White Pepper?”. Now I have not read that in fact that is what the name truly means, but I think that is a very good guess.  I have played this album for a few musician friends of mine and the result is pretty much the same across the board.  White Pepper  simply “hooks” you in, it is that simple. Check out the Trey Parker and Matt Stone directed video for “Even If You Don’t” included here.

 

UNCHAINED  –  JOHNNY CASH (1996)

I was working at the “Record Store Chain” Ladano blogs about when I was first introduced to this album.  It was instantly a revelation of what I do actually like about Country Music, and was the reason I became a fan of the older-style albums of the genre.   Not enough can be said about the genius of Rick Rubin.  The man who changed the careers of Slayer, The Beastie Boys and the Red Hot Chili Peppers got a hold of Johnny Cash and re-introduced him as the icon he always was.  Hiring Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers as the backing band for the second American Recordings Johnny Cash release was a stroke of brilliance.  The opening track “Rowboat” sees Cash cover a Beck song and make it his own.  “Sea of Heartbreak” is a melodic ass-kicker.  Everyone by now knows of the genius cover of Soundgarden’s “Rusty Cage”,  so good in fact that for a long period of time Chris Cornell refused to play it live stating “It’s not our song anymore.  It’s Johnny’s now”.  No album of this genre has ever sounded bigger, if not any genre.  A must have album.

VS.  –  PEARL JAM (1993)

This album had to be included on this list.  I understand that everyone looks at Pearl Jam’s  first album as this massive crowning achievement, but frankly I didn’t get it then and I really still don’t.  Their second album I think is the best album of their career and probably my favorite “Grunge” album ever.  Every song on this album is a classic to me and it does seem weird to call an album that was a Number One album on Billboard for five weeks straight “underrated”.  But I truly do feel this album gets overlooked and that’s a shame.  I find Ten to be kind of boring and redundant to be honest.  This album is still fresh to me.   I hope when it’s all said and done that this album is what truly defines them.

 

REVIEW: Pearl Jam – Ten (Collector’s Edition, aka The Mother of All Box Sets!)

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Pearl Jam – Ten (2009 Collector’s Edition, 4LP, 2 CD, 1 DVD, 1 Cassette boxed set)

This is how you do a box set!

Obviously, due to the price tag ($250 give or take), this box is not for every fan. This set is for the diehards — the ones who try to collect all the live bootlegs, all the singles, are members of the Ten club, and go see them live every year. Or, this is for people who just want to own something monstrous and cool looking. No matter who you are, if you have the disposable income, you will not be disappointed. There are some things that I was mildly disappointed with (which I shall get to in a moment) but on the whole, if you bought this, you got exactly what you wanted.

This box is packed full of goodies so numerous that I can’t list them all. Needless to say, don’t let the kids get into it or stuff will go missing. From Vedder’s scrap book, to photos, to even a reproduction Mookie Blaylock rookie card! (Pearl Jam’s original name was Mookie Blaylock in case you wondered.) Like I said, this box is loaded. It will take days to absorb all the goodies inside, all packed within a very sturdy and attractive black case. Amazon shipped this set very well packed.

To some, all that stuff is just paper and doesn’t matter next to the music, and in some sense they’re right. So onto the music.

This box includes the original Ten on vinyl and CD. It also includes the 2009 remixed Ten on vinyl and CD. The CD version contains 6 bonus tracks. Brendan O’Brien himself helmed the remixes. I have never been fond of the sound of Ten, until now. If you liked the remixes done for Rearviewmirror, you will like this. I have always found the original mixes too muddy and dull, now they are very bright and crisp. Dare I say it, they are heavier and more rocking. But the essence is the same, and casual fans will probably think this is the way the album always sounded. The six bonus tracks are mostly demos, all very rare.

Also included on DVD is the complete MTV Unplugged performance, previously unreleased and longer than the original broadcast version. This DVD was also included in the more affordable regular retail version so don’t shell out just for this DVD, although it is truly excellent and a great performance.  Legendary performance in fact.  Back in the early 90’s, this is one that spread by word of mouth.  We didn’t get MTV up here in Canada so it was even harder to see stuff like this.  Generally you had to buy a bootleg video at some shady store in Owen Sound or something.  And it looks and sounds a heck of a lot better than bootleg video.  5.1 surround sound plus “Oceans” which did not make the broadcast.

There’s exclusive music in this box, which is another real reason to get it. Drop In The Park, included on vinyl only, is a September 20, 1992 concert at Magnuson Park in Seattle. This is a 9 song album, two records (four sides!) with a 12 minute version of “Porch”. This is a fantastic early concert, a highlight of which was “State of Love and Trust”. As an added bonus, and one not heavily advertized, was that the album comes with a tiny coupon with a download code. You can download the whole album on mp3 and burn it to CD. Nice added touch.

And more!  Also included is a reproduction of Pearl Jam’s original demo cassette, Momma-Son. Right down to the cassette shell and J-card, this replicates the tape that Eddie and the boys made. These early arrangements are really interesting, with “Once” being quite different. This being a cassette, it sounds like…well…a cassette. I would recommend playing it just once, and burning it if you have the technology to do so. After all, tapes wear out fast.  One play could screw it up if it doesn’t like your tape deck.

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I mentioned earlier that some tunes were not included. What I wish they did was give you a download code to get mp3 versions of Momma-Son. Throw in some mp3s for MTV Unplugged, and now we’d be cooking. However these items were not made available for mp3 download. Astute fans may already have them on mp3 anyway…(wink).

Also not included were the four bonus tracks available for sale on the iTunes version. For the record, those tracks were “Why Go”, “Even Flow”, “Alone”, and “Garden” recorded on December 31, 1992 at The Academy Theater in New York. After spending this much money, I felt ripped off that I needed to buy those tracks separately. So being the obsessive compulsive collector that I am, I shelled out.  Again.  I had to buy the whole album again to get the four tracks.  I guess different retailers need different exclusives, it’s what makes the music world go ’round?

There are also MIA bonus tracks from earlier versions of Ten. Europe had “Alive (live)”, “Wash” and “Dirty Frank”, while Japan had “Master/Slave” and the Beatles cover “I’ve Got a Feeling”. For a box set of this stature, I’m afraid to say that these songs really had to be included. Otherwise, this is an incomplete picture of what Ten was and is. In my opinion. Some of that stuff can be easily found on singles and Lost Dogs, others not.

Yet Ten is an historic album.  It is one of very few that you cannot deny was part of a dramatic movement that shook the music world to its core.  Not the rock world, the music world.  Don’t forget, two years later, Pearl Jam were collaborating with Cypress Hill.

I’m going to be totally truthful to admit that Ten is not my favourite PJ album (Vitalogy is), and that I don’t really listen to it much anymore.  I’ve heard “Jeremy” a lotta times…let’s put it that way.  Still, I have never been tired of “Even Flow”.  The guitars of Stone and McCready are strait out of 1970, they are buttery smooth.  Sounds like Fenders and Gibsons to me!  You can’t go wrong with the basic album, even if you don’t like every single song.  It’s an album, it’s a portrait, and it friggin’ rocks at times!

The bottom line is, armed with this information, only you can decide whether this edition of Ten is worth the money. Another drawback to consider: After spending this money, do you really want to play the CDs in the car? It does look awesome on the shelf, but unless you have the money to burn, you may be wiser get the scaled down edition.

5/5 stars. My complaints are mostly nit picks.