Thursday, July 24, 2008

Soothing the savage beast

I love me some universal language -- Best. Art. Ever. -- sorry, Marcel -- so I'm claiming executive privilege -- and retroactive immunity -- in stealing this meme that I saw at various tubes criss-crossing the internets. The rules: pick a favorite album from each year of your existence on this soulless hunk -- with a chewy, molten rock center! -- of crusty misery. I'm more than certain that this list could change tomorrow or even later today if my mood brightens or gets even darker, but as of this moment, this is the stuff I'm finding solace in the most.

Although I was hatched in 1973, I'm going to cheat and start my list a little earlier, back to a demarcation line even more important in the grand scheme of things than the K-T boundary: the NFL-AFL merger. The list looks nice and orderly that way, and if we're about anything chez Randal, it's maintaining pristine, unquestioning, orderly order.

1970: How the hell do I pick something from this year? Albums by Zeppelin, Hendrix (anyone got a million bucks lying around?), The Beatles, George Harrison, Bowie, The Doors, Deep Purple, Derek & the Dominoes, The James Gang, Mott the Hoople, Traffic, two by both Sabbath and Creedence? Maybe it wasn't such a good idea to start here. Putting on Cosmo's Factory tells me Ramble Tamble rocks like a sumbitch, but the one I listen to the most, probably, maybe, I guess, I don't know, is Black Sabbath, Black Sabbath. Maybe. Satanic blues?

What. is. this. that stands before meeeeee?

The rest of the list, dumbass.

1971: This isn't all that much easier! Led Zeppelin, untitled. But The Who's finest, classic Stones and thunderous Sabbath are oh, so close. "No one coulda anticipated that if it kept on rainin' the levee was gonna break, heh heh."

1972: Black Sabbath, Black Sabbath, Volume 4. Fuck, is this album claustrophobic. And quite possibly their best. Wheels of Confusion? Snowblind? Under the Sun? Laguna Sunrise? Supernaut? Hot damn.

1973: As much as I dig some Zeppelin -- The Rain Song is probably the top track released by anyone this year; what sublime beauty -- I've got to go with, by the thinnest hair on McCain's cracker scalp, Mott the Hoople, Mott. Go, Mick Ralphs, you aerophobic bastard.

1974: Lynyrd Skynyrd, Second Helping. Sure, the flic-your-bic number (fuck you, pretentious assholes, Freebird is a good goddamn song. "Like OMG there's like a guitar solo on there longer than like three seconds, that's like soooo passé. [insert hipster band here] rocks.") is on the first album, but this is their most consistent platter.

1975: Why must thou torment me so, muse? Oh, fuck it, it's my blog. In alphabetical order, 1. Black Sabbath, Sabotage and 1A. Led Zeppelin, Physical Graffiti. Symptom of Custard Pie. You can keep your jelly donuts, okjimm, custard's the best filling. Ever hear of jelly pie? Didn't think so. But I'm sure you've heard of one Mr. Ian Hunter.

1976: Mention must be made of The Eagles, Hotel California. For me, the title track can never be overplayed. Gentlemen, start your cutting. "I know all about this, heh, heh." But the winner is AC/DC, High Voltage (yes, I'm using the bastardized American version) which, though flush with many other classics, contains their bestest song ever, It's a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock 'n' Roll). Bagpipes!

1977: Cheap Trick, Cheap Trick. Now that is how you make an entrance.

1978: Again I say, why must thou torment me so, muse? Once more, with alphabetical feeling, 1. Cheap Trick, Heaven Tonight and 1A. Van Halen, Van Halen. Hey, that guy can play. The eponymous debut by The Cars ain't too shabby, either.

1979: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Damn the Torpedoes. It sounds like rock and/or roll. Honorable mention, twice: Motörhead, Bomber and Overkill. "I like these guys, they support the troops, heh, heh." Don't you have a vacation to be on?

1980: Iron Maiden graced us with their presence, there's a raucous album by Lemmy and Co., not to mention a pretty damn good AC/DC record -- though Brian Johnson is no Bon Scott -- but the correct answer is Van Halen, Women and Children First. Grungy.

1981: Don't listen to the jokers who claim that 1984 is their best album. This, unquestionably their darkest, is. Van Halen, Fair Warning. "I gave Saddam plenty of fair warnin', heh, heh." Lord, strike that poor boy down.

1982: The last album with the classic lineup. Sniff. Motörhead, Iron Fist.

1983: Metallica, Kill 'Em All. My sentiments exactly, gents. Honorable Mention: The Police, Synchronicity. Hey Sting, your solo stuff still blows Mickey Kaus, but thanks for this.

1984: Ouch. All kinds of demonic guitar riffing to choose from here. By a nose, Metallica, Ride the Lightning. Dig that wall of reverb. Death is creeping.

1985: Celtic Frost, To Mega Therion. Oh, that Crowley, what a cutup! Cyclopean riffs aplenty.

1986: Metallica, Master of Puppets. RIP, Cliff. Hey, Slayer, let's Reign In Blood. "I'm tryin', Randal, I'm tryin', heh, heh." If there's a new way, I'll be the first in line. But it better work this time. Can you put a price on peace?

1987: Bruce Willis, The Return of Bruno. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Let Me Up (I've Had Enough). Hey, that's what I said when MTV played Willis' video. Hey, what about Anthrax, Among the Living? Follow me or die! "Hey, that was my campaign slogan. Hey, I've got an appetite for destruction, heh, heh."


1988: Metallica (noticing a theme?), ...And Justice For All, their finest hour, arguably the greatest metal album of all time and, sadly, as topical now as it was upon its release twenty years ago. One remains one -- ha -- of the most powerful antiwar songs and videos of all time.

1989: Faith No More, The Real Thing. It really is more than Epic.

1990: Man, there were nine blazing circles of hellish riffing this year, though Megadeth, Rust In Peace stealthily sneaks up on the competition, bludgeons them into a bloody, gruesome pulp and takes the devil's food cake. Why? Extra angry. Holy Wars will tear your goddamn head off. Too bad Dave cleaned up and found Jeebus. Oh, how I miss the Clash of the Titans tour. No, I never saw Ursula Andress Undress. But that's fine. Why?

"Dearest husband, I too love the heaviest metal."

1991: Not counting my better half, the lovely Alessandra, Brazil's finest export. Okay, Pelé was pretty good, too. Sepultura, Arise. But don't sleep on albums by Pearl Jam and Soundgarden that are bucketfuls of guitar. And Metallica's big 'sell out' is actually pretty fucking good save for a couple of bonehead missteps.

1992: As brilliant as both Faith No More's follow up to their big breakthrough and the second Black Crowes album were, nothing can be chosen here but the spiritual successor to Sabbath's fourth album, Alice In Chains, Dirt. We don't need no stinkin' light.

1993: My Dying Bride, Turn Loose the Swans. Greatest romantic doom album ever. I think I just lost the last person still reading this. Thanks, whomever you were. Before you leave, go listen to Alice In Chains, Jar of Flies.

1994: The Black Crowes, Amorica. For all of the countless examples of how the hard stuff can fuck up a musical entity -- I'm not talking people here, obviously -- here's proof that they can sometimes be beneficial. Musically speaking, just say sometimes. But watch that precipitous drop, it comes on quick. Ask Joplin, Bolin, Parsons and Staley, for starters. On second thought, better stick to the weed.

1995: Drown your sorrows, my dear. My Dying Bride, The Angel and the Dark River. But what about The Carnival Bizarre by Cathedral? No, I don't think it's about the United States, but big-time bonus points for penning a song about a Hammer Horror villain.

1996: Opeth, Morningrise. No one ever made thirteen-minute songs more memorable. Okay, Yes was pretty catchy, but I like these guys better because Åkerfeldt has such a beautiful cookie monster voice and they're fucking heavy. What isn't heavy is black tape for a blue girl's Remnants of a Deeper Purity. Oh, I how I loathe leaving that piece of beautiful melancholy off the top of the mountain, but there can be only one.

1997: Emperor, Anthems to the Welkin At Dusk. Black metal by people who can actually play their instruments! But it's still evil, don't worry.

1998: Opeth, My Arms, Your Hearse. My ears, your overachievement barely edges out Thine's A Town Like This. I can never tell a lie, that was determined by a best 3-out-of-5 coin flip. I bet Chimpy would like Monster Magnet's Powertrip. "Already got one, stretch, heh, heh."

1999: You've got debuts by folky metalheads Agalloch, the neo-classical Unto Ashes, The White Stripes, Hollenthon and Jill Tracy, plus yet another Opeth chief d'oeuvre, but Katatonia, Tonight's Decision is the right one.

2000: The Gathering, If_then_else. Europe makes the best mood rock. Plus Anneke van Giersbergen, in addition to being a wonderful singer, is love-lee. But that trippy and hoppy Ulver is a gas. Didn't you guys used to shred faces with unholy power chords before you moved to Perdition City?

2001: I'm cheating again, but it's the motherfucking monstrous duo of 1. Opeth, Blackwater Park and 1A. Katatonia, Last Fair Deal Gone Down, two albums that sit comfortably in my all-time top ten. Oh, what the hell. 1B. My Dying Bride, The Dreadful Hours.

2002: Holy fuck, this is a difficult year. Opeth, Agalloch, black tape, a Jerry Cantrell double album. Okay, put the gun to my head. How about those crazy Norwegian Baudelaireian circus freaks, Arcturus, The Sham Mirrors. Kinetic!

2003: Katatonia, Viva Emptiness. These guys are so good, this might be their best album. I'm afraid I'll have to refrain from writing on it, though.

2004: Nicki Jaine, Of Pigeons and Other Curiosities. One of the great lost albums of this decade. Sardonic singer-songwriting at its bitter best. If there was any justice, this husky-voiced chanteuse would've sold ten million copies but instead, you've never heard of her, nor have you heard of Italian neo-classicists Lupercalia -- nor their brilliant Florilegium -- whose mainman Riccardo Prencipe has since gone one to form Corde Oblique, yet one more group you've never heard of. Do people really buy what's on the Billboard 100? That's almost as scary as a pack of neocons with unlimited access to oil cash.

2005: Opeth, Ghost Reveries. And this was an off-day for them. Cover me with those Blessed Black Wings, I'm High on Fire, baby! I really have to stop picking two or three. At least I'm almost done.

2006: Agalloch, Ashes Against the Grain. For my money, the best band in America.

2007: Moonsorrow, V:Hãvitetty. For my money, the best band in Finland.

2008: Opeth, Watershed. I dig this a whole lot. I hope Jilly Tracy doesn't come and murder me 'cause there's already enough murderin' goin' 'round. Okay, she's co-winner. The Bittersweet Constrain is on the board. Whew, that was a close one.

I noticed that a majority of the lists seem to be more varied than mine, but it is asking for a single album. I can't help it if the same bands continually release the best music in a given year. There's a reason why I love them so much, though I feel bad for artists like Ataraxia and Dead Can Dance -- and I'm sure they feel simply awful -- who consistently put out top five material. It's all about the mood and since I'm usually about 51% bitter and angry contre 49% wistful and melancholy -- thanks, RTA -- well, loud power chords by a note. And if I had to come up with a top ten list for each year, the post wouldn't be finished until December and it would approach 72 scrolling pages and who the hell would read that? En plus, that sounds too much like work.

I tag no one, but I'd love to see what the rest of you clowns choose.

Have at you!


DivaJood said...

Jeeze louise, I've never heard of most of these groups. Oh, right. I don't like Metal. Hmmmm.

DivaJood said...

Oh, but I do LOVE Cheap Trick.

Übermilf said...

I'll just say anything by K-Tel, or any of those "Now THAT'S What I Call MUSIC" CD's.

Agi said...

I usually despise these interweb memes, but this one is actually pretty cool. I might take a stab at it...

Anonymous said...

Oh Jeez, there you go getting all Metally on us. I'm with Divajood...Cheap Trick rocks. But where's Queen? And there's just no, no way Some Girls doesn't make this cut. U2's War? Oh well, vive la difference!

okjimm said...

Ian Hunter?

'And my brothers back at home with his beatles and his stones
We never got it off on that revolution stuff
What a drag too many snags...'

Ya, I did Mott..

'Im a dude dad
All the young dudes (hey dudes)
Carry the news (where are ya)
Boogaloo dudes (stand up)
Carry the news'

But 86 I'm into buying diapers more than music....

and all my old lp's, all 4200 of 'em got ripped off


'Now its a mighty long way down the dusty trail
And the sun burns hot on the cold steel rails
n I look like a bum n I crawl like a snail
All the way from memphis'

Shit, I know what I am playing tonight...

...but I still am hanging in there with the jelly donuts.

Betty C. said...

Oh my god, this is a major meme. I could never do it - -a bit older than you too! I see our tastes do converge on some artists - -Tom Petty, Cheap Trick, Led Zeppelin.

Probably no one else will do the meme because it's so daunting.Doing it for a ten-year period might be plausible.
I guess I'd choose about 1972-1982.

Randal Graves said...

diva, what? I can't hear you, lemme turn it down.

The Trick is brilliant.

übermilf, old school K-Tel. As for those Now That's What I Don't Call Music, fucking yikes.

agi, I like the memes because I'm lazy, but I figure everyone likes music at least a little, so hopefully someone else will do one.

spartacus, hey man, I'm only supposed to pick one. You try it, it's fucking hard! Some Girls is a top fiver, but Van Halen's debut and arguably Trick's best album? No way, man.

okjimm, excellent, another disciple of the church of Mott. Wait, 4200 heavy, vinyl LPs stolen? Is Hercules or the Hulk real?

Randal Graves said...

betty, yeah, if I was a bit older, I might not, because I figured 35+ years was stretching it for anyone to actually spend time glossing over. 1972-82 contains a ridiculous amount of quality tunes.

See, people shouldn't assume all us metalheads are close-minded Neanderthals. ;-)

fairlane said...

Speaking of Sabbathia, what the FUCK?!!

I guess the only solace is, he didn't go to the Fucking Yankees.

And how could you leave Sir John Ashcroft off your list?

"Where Eagles Sore," or was it, "Soar?"


Dean Wormer said...

That is one of the best rock lists I've ever seen.

I don't know how you did it. As a movie fan I've tried several times to list my top 10 movies and simply found it impossible. There's just too damned much good stuff out there.

Still - you mentioned most of the other good stuff from each year, which must've helped.

Randal Graves said...

fairlane, man, if we had traded him to The Fucking Yankees, well, I'd probably still be hungover from the drinking binge I'd have started when I first heard.

As for our esteemed former shaper of law, he is so good, I didn't want all these greasy longhairs dirtying his beautiful mind.

dean, thanks, but it's tough, hence the mentioning of about a hundred albums. How do you pick between 5, 6, 7, 10, whatever albums/films per year, if each is worthy? You should still do your movie list though!

Mary Ellen said...

I don't think they had "albums" the year I was born, in fact..not sure if there was electricity yet. Sheesh.

I still love Queen and Zep the best, and (don't tell anyone I told you this) but I really like Weezer, just loaded their new CD on my iPod.

Utah Savage said...

Jesus man, you're married to THAT BEAUTY??!!! Oh, and thanks for the linky love, And who are these people. I haven't heard about 99% of the music you mentioned. But I will talk a bit about my musical history and abiding love of jazz--which, of course, is not this challenge. Yeah I have some rock in my history, but they are all the walking dead by now, or flamed out long ago.

But now I must go beg my Administrator to teach me how to do this fancy fucking thing you youngster so to link so subtely to you picks. And so on, you smug baby with your gorgeous family.

DivaJood said...

I was going to do my own damn list, only I would have to start somewhere in the 1950s with Bill Haley and the Comets, and it felt too much like work.

Randal Graves said...

ME, sure they did. I mean, Franklin did steal the idea of flying a kite during a storm from you.

Wait. Weezer? You? She who goes on about her aging age of ageness? I'm flabbergasted, flummoxed and some other word that begins with F.

utah, although I believe my wife to be easy on the eyes, no, she's not a Brazilian supermodel. If she was, well, my blog would be much prettier because I'd have all that runway cash to spend on bells and whistles.

Jazz is one of those genres that I don't hate, but that I just never got into for whatever reason. Probably laziness. My passions are for classical/neo-classical and the heavier stuff.

Now go practice linking!

diva, and you have far more important things to do, such as campaigning. Let's see if we can top that piddling crowd our adversary Obama got today. Damn Germans.

Anita said...

ok. so i'm going to tag myself. i was wondering what to write about.

my list will start in nineteen sixty [cough cough cough]. and what a FINE year that was, too.

Utah Savage said...

Anita, I with you on that. So, here we go in search of clips of the walking dead.

Übermilf said...

I was hoping you'd spot my sarcasm.

But as a point of clarification, do you list the album you currently think is best from the year in question, or what you enjoyed at the time?

Because when I was in high school...

let's just say a Duran Duran poster hung on my wall.

DivaJood said...

Campaigning? Isn't that like work, too?

Christopher said...

Synchronicity is pure, fucking genius. Arguably the best album of 1983. Flawless and something I still listen to (but on CD) today.

1987 and no mention of U2's The Joshua Tree? WTF? A living, breathing thing of beauty and a towering achievement.

Otherwise, a splendid list. Well done.

Bradda said...

Dude, I can't believe someone actually knows about/ likes Sepultura!! Anyone that can name a song "Dead Embyonic Cells" and rock the shit out of it rules in my book.

Scarlet W. Blue said...

Cool choices. I could never like Iron Maiden, though all the guys always liked them. AC/DC was my favorite back in the day.

susan said...

I think my jaw dropped when I saw this post because it just took me ten minutes to screw it back on. How the heck did you do it?

We do have some overlaps - love the Cars, Tom Petty, Led Zeppelin and a few more but I was more of a Ziggy Stardust and Clash kind of girl. Like divajood I would have to go much further back in time.. does guys banging on rocks count?

Anonymous said...

I missed the Duran Duran, didn't I?

Angie said...

I recognize a challenge when I see it! 1973, eh? My hubby was born that year. Me, 71'- the year of Goat's Head Soup with Angie on it. My parents didn't listen to the Stones nor was I named after Angela Davis (although some of my family members swear I'm channeling her militant style). Great list. Like I said, a challenge. Let me go get my motorcycle boots. They run better on a track like this!

Sal Kilmister said...

I'm with you on Faith No More, good stuff.

Dusty said...

Hey..hows about I say I agree with most of your picks Randal? ;p

Randal Graves said...

anita, you're not that old. Hell, McCain is so old -

how old is he?

- McCain is so old, he remembers a time before the word 'old' was voiced by a low, Neanderthal grunt.

utah, Dawn of the Dead is the best zombie movie ever. Or was that the last BBQ at McCain's house...

übermilf, both. I still listen to all the albums on here including the ones that were my favorites growing up. Sure, tastes change and expand, but I still dig all that old stuff.

Not that I actually listened to Zeppelin in 1976.

diva, good point. Maybe that should be part of the platform, finding a way to transform things that seem like work into things that don't. It's going to require a commitment on the level of the Manhattan Project.

christopher, I never got into U2 all that much. I like a lot of their songs, but I was busy with thrash metal back then. U2 wasn't heavy enough. ;-) Though that is a hell of an album.

bradda, that's their best album I think, but Schizophrenia, for all its grammatically crappy English and tinny production, has some monster riffs on it. And Inquisition Symphony is a fucking monster.

SWB, you can never go wrong with old school AC/DC.

susan, one of the two things I'm good at, besides being lazy, is incoherently rambling on about crap.

Glam-era Bowie is by far his best stuff, to me. Ronson is so fucking underrated. Bang a gong, get it on?

dcup, are you kidding, that's what us young heshers were railing against.

angie, looks like a few others are actually going to try this thing, too! Can't wait to see your list. Wasn't Goat's Head Soup 1973, though?

sal, underrated band, and Angel Dust is a misunderstood masterpiece.

dusty, works for me. ;-)

Angie said...

Randal - You're right. 1973. I had this same debate with my husband in the past, but forget things easily these days (that's another story). I'd apparently convinced myself that the album came out in '71 in honor of me. I must give up that fantasy. I realize now Mick and Keith must have been inspired by my arrival on this planet. That Angie Bowie story is just a cover.

Randal Graves said...

I would definitely run with that story.

Distributorcap said...

you mean Randal that you and i AGREE on Zeppelin.....


but i draw the line at sports and Barry Manilow

Stella said...

OK, where's Yes, CSN&Y, Cinderella (Long Cold Winter... amazing), Rush, and Dio. Everyone ignores Yes.


Yes Christopher, Synchronicity was a masterpiece, but there was some strange musical magic between 1981 and 1984, where fabulous album followed fabulous album.


I'm with you for '76. High Voltage!

I don't think I could name a particular album for each year. For '77, Court and Spark by Joni Mitchell was amazing.

'79 Tie between Rust Never Sleeps and Breakfast in America.

'80: Back in Black, which went 26X Platinum.

'83 Zebra (eponymous): this album deserved far more attention than it received. One of the best live bands I ever saw.

'84 Holy Diver.

I don't want to "ramble on" (pun intended). You've got a lot of classics here. And that's Snarky Stella signing off for Friday.

Randal Graves said...

dcap, that's the first musical agreement we've ever had! ;-)

Wait, Manilow is the second. I'm not on board with that guy, either.

stella, hey, I could only pick one! Trust me, this is hard. Hell, even narrowing each year down to ten would be difficult. I think I want to live in Dio's house. He's got all this cool medieval stuff.