Jan 222016
 

Full Albums features covers of every track off a classic album. Got an idea for a future pick? Leave a note in the comments!

cure disintegration

According to sixteenth-century wisdom, one can identify someone who is in love based on a disheveled physical appearance. Shakespeare’s As You Like It describes a true lover as having a sunken eye, neglected beard, ungartered hose, unbanded bonnet, unbuttoned sleeve, and untied shoe so that “everything about you [is] demonstrating a careless desolation.” To be in love – more specifically, to be in unrequited love – is to be in the midst of a personal disintegration.

On the one hand, this checklist is but one more example of how early modern thinking refused to differentiate between one’s self and one’s outward appearance. On the other, the basic idea that impossible love would lead a person to disregard social convention and personal hygiene is, in relative historical terms, a remarkably sensitive reading of the individual psyche. Speaking mostly for the ten years or so that the surly teenaged version of myself donned “the trappings and the suits of woe,” I’d suggest that, even 400 years later, the outward signs demarking the presence of desolate love remain mostly the same but with a single addition: a true lover – a true lover and therefore a miserable lover – listens to the Cure’s Disintegration, usually in a bedroom, often in the dark. Because so many true lovers of this variety are teenagers following demands of the album’s liner notes (THIS MUSIC HAS BEEN MIXED TO BE PLAYED LOUD SO TURN IT UP), such lovers are often listening with headphones. Such lovers are often alone.

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Nov 132015
 

Full Albums features covers of every track off a classic album. Got an idea for a future pick? Leave a note in the comments!

lz3

When Led Zeppelin III was released 45 years ago, it seemed destined to disappoint both the fans who wanted “Whole Lotta More Love” and the critics who weren’t all that keen on the band to begin with. Oh, sure, “Immigrant Song” was an instant hard-rock classic, and “Since I’ve Been Loving You” was blues as slow and heavy as you could hope for, but this album’s heart and soul lay with its acoustic numbers on what was then called Side Two. This wouldn’t do – hadn’t these guys already set up camp in the heavy metal slums? How dare they pretend to be other than what they were?

Of course, time has proven Zeppelin the wiser. III proved them capable of expanding their palette, showing more sides and more shades than the wannabes who were only capable of following one set of Zep’s footprints. The critics have come around, taking note of the bucolic dimension Jimmy Page and Robert Plant brought to their songwriting after a recharging stay in a quiet cottage in Wales named Bron-Yr-Aur. And the fans? Well, Led Zeppelin was never going to lose their fans.
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Oct 162015
 

Full Albums features covers of every track off a classic album. Got an idea for a future pick? Leave a note in the comments!

XTC is a difficult band to wrap your head around. Known initially, if at all, for quirky, jerky syncopated new wave songs, they slowly began to change into a band known for lush, intelligent pop songs heavily influenced by the Beatles’ psychedelic period. And, like the Beatles, XTC stopped performing live at what was, to that point, the height of their popularity. Having seen them in action just about a year before they quit touring in 1982, I can attest to the fact that they were an excellent live band. XTC has a devoted and creative fanbase, with exhaustive fan sites and a remarkable number of fan-generated tribute releases, which we will delve into in great detail below.
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Oct 022015
 

Full Albums features covers of every track off a classic album. Got an idea for a future pick? Leave a note in the comments!

BobDylanEmpireBurlesqueCountry

Empire Burlesque is Bob Dylan’s best country album since New Morning. Or, well, it should have been. Instead, it is considered a nadir of his career.

All the previous Full Albums selections we’ve done for Bob have been undisputed classics: Highway 61 Revisited, Blonde on Blonde, John Wesley Harding. Empire Burlesque is the opposite. Bob reportedly asked his producer to make him sound like Prince for this 1985 album. Now, his voice is as far from Prince as you can get, so they surrounded his rasp with drum machines, synthesizers, and chirpy backing vocals. Needless to say, it sounds nothing like Prince, and not a lot like Dylan. I’ve always defended this album, but if you can’t stand Men At Work or Culture Club, this may not be the album for you. Continue reading »

Aug 072015
 
ramonesweek

Full Albums features covers of every track off a classic album. Got an idea for a future pick? Leave a note in the comments!

ramones-end-of-the-century

It wasn’t supposed to happen like this. Phil Spector was supposed to be the gateway to getting the Ramones the airwaves they wanted so badly. Why, with his Wall of Sound production technique and their love of ’60s AM pop covers, theirs was going to be a meeting of the minds that would bear the most amazing fruit. He’d make his great comeback, and they’d make their great breakthrough. So it was written, and so it should have been.

But his perfectionist technique clashed with their one-and-done standards, and his bringing guns to the studio didn’t assure anybody. The sound pulled the Ramones further away from their punk roots, and their songs were weaker (Dee Dee: “Some of the worst crap I ever wrote went on that album”). They’d been reduced to writing sequels to songs on their debut, a sure sign the well had started running dry. When End of the Century was released in February 1980, punk fans the world over learned the sad truth; the Ramones that had left home on a rocket to Russia had come back to earth and landed on a road to ruin. They would spend the rest of their existence as an uneasy combination of working musicians and rock icons, with their days of breaking new ground forever behind them.
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Aug 062015
 
ramonesweek

Full Albums features covers of every track off a classic album. Got an idea for a future pick? Leave a note in the comments!

road-to-ruin

The Ramones knew they were playing some of the best rock ‘n’ roll in the world, and by 1978, they were starting to grow aggravated about how few shared that knowledge. So, taking the if-Mohammad-won’t-come-to-the-mountain approach, they started making small concessions, in the hopes that these little changes would be the all they needed to get radio airplay. Road to Ruin, their fourth album, featured an occasional guitar solo here, an acoustic ballad there, even a couple of songs that lasted longer than three minutes. But the strain of being something other than their true selves was evident, and the record failed in its play for fame, charting outside the top 100. It shouldn’t have been a surprise – the Ramones’ reach was doomed to exceed the mainstream’s grasp – but it was a frustrating letdown all the same.

So what are we left with today when we listen to Road to Ruin? Well, it was a beat away from the first three albums – literally, as Marky Ramone had just taken over Tommy’s drum stool – and a little less cartoony. It was evident when da brudders were trying, but it was evident when they were succeeding as well. And in “I Wanna Be Sedated,” they came up with a song that has worked its way deep into popular culture. Final result: an album that can justifiably be called the fourth straight Ramones classic.
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Aug 052015
 
ramonesweek

Full Albums features covers of every track off a classic album. Got an idea for a future pick? Leave a note in the comments!

rocket-to-russia

Now, this’ll be a straight walk-off, old school rules. First model walks; second model duplicates, then elaborates. – David Bowie, Zoolander

If Ramones was the Ramones setting the pace, and Leave Home was them duplicating it, then Rocket to Russia was the moment where the Ramones refined their musical approach to an absolute peak. They had perfected their loud fast rules, and were able to expand on them without abandoning them. They varied their tempos, landing hooks with their slow songs just as easily as with their fast ones. They sounded better than ever, with a production budget nearly twice as much as that of their first two albums combined. And they did two cover songs instead of their usual one.
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Aug 042015
 
ramonesweek

Full Albums features covers of every track off a classic album. Got an idea for a future pick? Leave a note in the comments!

ramones_leave_home

The Ramones‘ second album, Leave Home, didn’t have the element of surprise that their first had, but that’s about the only difference between the two. Once again, fourteen songs accounted for a half hour of humor, menace, and sweetness, a surprising combination that worked perfectly well when delivered at full force.

Leave Home was loaded with songs that would become classics, and sounded like nothing else in the musical world – but therein lay the problem. Joey later explained that “we thought since our music was doin’ something unique that everyone would pick up on that. What really happened was we were so alien that no one wanted to touch us. And so we wouldn’t get played.” They would spend the next few years fighting to change that perception, a fight that would eventually drain them of much of their energy.
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