As a follow-up to the CD Edition of my favorite 2008 reissues, here are my Vinyl LP choices:
1. The Kinks – Muswell Hillbillies
Limited Edition, 180 Gram Vinyl.
Ray Davies is certainly not like everybody else here, nor is he a dedicated follower of fashion: “I’m a 20th Century Man but I don’t want to be here,” he angrily seethes. At the same time, in the nostalgically exquisite “Oklahoma USA,” he fairly yearns for the company of Shirley Jones and Gordon MacRae and a cinematic escape away where “All life we work / But work is a bore / If life’s for livin’ / then what’s livin’ for?” Embracing music hall and vaudeville, with songs ranging from country-folk to boozy blues, and subjects covering, say, demon alcohol and “sad memories you can’t recall,” or ocean-side holidays where “the sea’s an open sewer,” 1971’s Muswell Hillbillies is one of the Kinks’ more consistently first-rate albums, in both lyrical wit, bite, and poignancy – and in musical terms, as rooted in its infectiousness and ferociousness with which it conveys the ambiguity and ambivalence toward life in general, and living on London’s Muswell Hill, specifically.
2. The New York Dolls – The New York Dolls
Limited UK 180 Gram, Vinyl Pressing.
When friends were listening to ‘70s luster and sludge like Journey and ELP — whose tunes I could not get attuned to — I discovered this debut '73 New York Dolls LP in, of all places, my local branch of the Orange County, California Public Library. I whisked it away, and soon got carried away by the reckless glam and proto-punk spirit. My friends thought I suffered a 'personality crisis' – and, fortunately, I had.
3. The Beach Boys – Endless Summer
Two LPs, Limited Edition.
Twenty-one tracks of '60s pop perfection from the first Wilson Administration. “And we’ll have fun, fun, fun ‘til her daddy takes the t-table away…”
4. The Band – The Band
Four-Color Gatefold Jacket, 180 Gram Vinyl.
A drunkard’s dream if I ever did hear one. Rustic Americana done right by a bunch of mostly Canadian guys.
5. House of Freaks – Monkey on a Chain Gang
Though it doesn’t pack the powerhouse punch of their 1989 sophomore stunner Tantilla, this stripped-down but striking 1988 debut presents the range of the guitar-and-drums duo (Bryan Harvey and Johnny Hott) from melodic pop to more dire declarations, such as found in the Wolfeian avowal that “You Can Never Go Home”:
- Standing on a dusty road
Praying for a sign
Lightning only struck me once
And then it struck me blind…
You can never go home.
Tragically, Harvey’s life came to an untimely end on January 1, 2006, when he was found by Hott in the basement of his burning house murdered — beaten, slashed and bound with electrical cord and tape — along with his wife and two young daughters.
6. The Beach Boys – Pet Sounds
I dunno – much ever been said about this 1966 album?
7. The Who – Who's Next
Back in my record store days, when kids would come in looking for “Teenage Wasteland” and I would refer them to “Baba O’ Riley” on Who’s Next, most, though perplexed, bought the story and bought the '71 classic. But some, with defiant “won’t get fooled again” attitudes, stalked off, maybe not so much seeking out a new revolution as looking for a large concrete piling to piss on.
8. The Ramones – Rocket to Russia
180 Gram, Color Vinyl.
1-2-3-4! “Teenage Lobotomy,” “Sheena is a Punk Rocker,” “Rockaway Beach”… The blasts of '77 punk-pop and rock — every hook, line, and singer — go persistently on in this third and cohesively exuberant Ramones album. Oh yeah, oh yeah.
9. The Sex Pistols – Never Mind The Bollocks, Here's The Sex Pistols
180 Gram Virgin Vinyl.
180-gram virgin vinyl? My my, hey hey. No, this isn’t the story of Johnny Rotten, acting coy and demurely spitting.
10. Ian Hunter – Short Back and Sides
Death may have been your Santa Claus again this year, but when the former Mott the Hoople Kriss Kringle swaggered anew in ‘81 tonsorial solo splendor accompanied by the hard-edged and sharp Short Back and Sides, it bears repeating more than 25 years later.
Captain Beefheart – Safe as Milk
Rickie Lee Jones – Rickie Lee Jones
John Lennon – Imagine
Nine Inch Nails – Downward Spiral
Pretenders – Get Close
Queen – Sheer Heart Attack
Leon Redbone – No Regrets
R.E.M. – Document
Squeeze – Babylon and On
Stray Cats – Built for Speed
WATCH THIS SPACE… for my Vinyl Tap series, when I get a chance to dust off some old records and write about them, right here on Blogcritics.