Jul 012016
 

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

imagine

John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band, Lennon’s first solo album, got many rave reviews and deserved them all, but there are people who aren’t comfortable witnessing someone baring his soul, and Lennon wanted to reach them too. So he made sure his next album, Imagine, sweetened his message, even as he kept it intact. “Plastic Ono with chocolate coating,” he later called it. By lightening his touch and assuring the songs landed in his fans’ hearts rather than crashing into them, Lennon was rewarded with a commercial success, not to mention the title track that came to be his signature song.
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Jun 172016
 

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

BobDylanStreetLegal

When it was first released in 1978, Bob Dylan’s Street Legal got a bum rap. One culprit was the sound. Dylan always preferred recording with the whole band playing at once, and whereas with the right producer a wonderful spontaneity could emerge (think “Like a Rolling Stone”), here it just created a muddy mess. Reviews were scathing. Robert Christgau called it “horrendous” and Jon Pareles noted that “Dylan still needs a producer.” Even Rolling Stone – Dylan champions since way back – labeled it “dead air, or close to it.”

A remaster in the CD era has since redeemed it somewhat and helped push it its proper place in the Dylan pantheon. In the wake of albums like Empire Burlesque – really, all of the ’80s – the big band sound is no longer shocking, and not even bad. It’s no Blonde on Blonde, but a solid B-level effort with a number of gems. “Señor” and “Changing of the Guards” stand among his best songs of the ’70s (though they really fit in better with the late-’70s/early-’80s period than they do with the decade that led up to them). “New Pony” is a fun big-band blues jam, and “Where Are You Tonight” features a wonderfully emotive vocal. Continue reading »

Apr 082016
 

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

Bowie

I felt I had to let some time pass and perspective broaden before posting this. The temptation had been to rush it out whilst reactions were still raw, the media awash with memories of an icon, but I stalled, maybe waiting for his death to all have been a big mistake, a stunt even. But it wasn’t, nor were the steady stream of deaths that have followed in his wake, 2016 seeming an end of the line for so many of my musical heroes.

I was a mere decade behind Bowie in age; he had been a constant in my life from ’69 and he still is, not necessarily at the forefront but always capable of wrenching away the limelight from whichsoever johnny-come-latelys were making my day. Not an uber fan; indeed, swathes of his prodigious output meant nothing to me at the time, only catching up well late in the game – I didn’t “get” the Berlin Trilogy until five years after the fact, and Diamond Dogs/Young Americans took four times longer. (Never did get Tin Machine, but hey, who did?) But even as recently as last summer, a driving holiday in Cornwall was nourished by Bowie, a playlist culled from the 102 tracks of his on my iPod. Paltry by some standards, yes, but several hours of enjoyment by me. With much in-car singing.

I remember the time when suddenly everybody first got Bowie, the days of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, early ’70s, but my dalliance had begun earlier. I recall hearing “Changes,” or should I say, “Ch-ch-ch-changes,” on the radio at home, sounding all awkwardness and angst, immediately marking my card. Inevitably when Ziggy came along, all those of my age and place on the autism spectrum disorder “preferred” Hunky Dory. And I did too, swiftly selling my copy of Ziggy as it was “too commercial.” Hey, give me a break – I was 15, and today, aeons later, I regret that. But I still prefer Hunky Dory, even the dodgy tracks everyone skips.
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Mar 112016
 

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

americanbeauty

In 1970, Wally Heider’s San Francisco recording studio was the percolating epicenter of the psychedelic rock universe. The Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, David Crosby, Graham Nash, Neil Young, and Carlos Santana shared this transcendent studio space, which Phil Lesh classified as “jammer heaven.” This was where the Grateful Dead’s American Beauty was born.

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Feb 292016
 

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

awineh-backto_18

Last night, to the surprise of no one, that Academy Award for Best Documentary went to the Amy Winehouse movie Amy. The movie, as is typical for these things, is more about the personality than the music; producers seem to think public breakdowns make for better visuals than the nitty gritty of work in the studio (a premise with which we strongly disagree). But still, if it gets some young Adele fan who wasn’t around for Adele’s predecessor to give Back to Black a listen, another exhaustive look at Winehouse’s demons was perhaps worth it.

We, however, are all about the music, which we celebrate today with the latest in our series of Full Album cover sets. Though as is always the case the big hits have way more covers than the deep cuts, it’s a testament to how deep the album’s bench is that every song has been given at least one cover worthy of Amy’s talent. Continue reading »

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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