Rolling Stoned: 455 - 453

• #455Los Lobos – How Will the Wolf Survive?

To put it in 2015 terms, you might call this a latin, blues, country, rock mashup.  Way ahead of its time for 1984!  I found this fun to listen to, with a variety of different sounds to keep me entertained.  I enjoy mariachi-style pop (ref: Mariachi El Bronx and also why did nobody tell me that their 3rd album had dropped?) so this was right up my alley, or callej√≥n if you will. My only complaint is that it doesn't actually answer the title question, so I'm still left wondering how will the wolf survive?  I need answers!

My Rating: ★★★★☆

• #454: Alice Cooper – Love It to Death

Worth the price of admission for the classic anthem of disaffected youth everywhere, "I'm Eighteen" by itself.  Alice Cooper is weird, scary, and fun all at the same time. "Sun Arise" is a dark cover of a poppy Australian hit from the 60s. Listen to this and hate your parents.

My Rating: ★★★★

• #453: EPMD – Strictly Business

Somehow I made it this far in my life without hearing or even knowing anything about EPMD, but I'm glad that heinous oversight has finally been corrected.  This album is full of easy flowing rhymes layered on top of heavy, sample laden beats and hardly lets up from beginning to end. This album went on to be sampled itself by dozens of subsequent artists and it's really no wonder. There are no bad songs on this album.

My Rating: ★★★★☆

Rolling Stoned: 456

• #456: Marvin Gaye – Here, My Dear

Wikipedia pulls no punches about this album: When Here, My Dear was released in the end of 1978, it was panned by consumers and critics alike, who called the album "bizarre" and "un-commercial". I'll agree that it's not really commercial.  There are no big standout hits and no hooky songs that get stuck in your head.  But, it's not terrible by any means.  Sure, it's pretty much entirely about breakup and heartache but if you wanted to put it on low in the background while you made sweet, sweet, love I bet it would work because it's Marvin Gaye.

My Rating: 
Rolling Stoned: 458 - 457
• #458: Elton John – Tumbleweed Connection

I'm not really a huge Elton John fan by any stretch.  That's not to say I dislike his music, I just don't ever really listen to it and other than a few of his mainstream hits I don't really know any of his work, so I came into this pretty fresh.  There aren't any huge hits on this album that I recognize from elsewhere and I guess it is some sort of concept album as all the songs follow a loose theme.  It's got a country feel to it which normally wouldn't be my cup of tea but overall I found the album to be nice to listen to.  I wouldn't necessarily put it in the top 500 but there's definitely nothing terrible about it.

My Rating: 

• #457: My Morning Jacket – Z

I don't know if this would be considered "ambient" music (probably not) but I got kind of an airy, spaced-out vibe on this album.  Once again there aren't any mega hits here but as something to have on in the background to remove the sounds of silence (gotta wait at least until the Top-250 to get The Sounds of Silence, however) it is definitely something I would listen to again.  Some good guitar work near the end of the album, but other than that just a mellow vibe and maybe something to fall asleep to, in a good way.

My Rating: 

Rolling Stoned: 459
• #459: The Drifters – The Drifters' Golden Hits

For some reason this album is not available on Apple Music (or Spotify, put your pitchforks away, Apple haters) but all the individual songs are available as part of other albums or compilations.  And boy are there a lot of Drifters compilations!  This band has allegedly had at least 60 different vocalists[1], which I guess makes for a complicated back catalog.  In fact this whole album is almost duplicated by The Essentials but there are a few differences.  So after spending some time piecing it together into a playlist I was able to enjoy this little slice of oldies.

There are quite a few familiar songs here:  This Magic Moment, Under The Boardwalk, There Goes My Baby, etc. and those are quite pleasant and inoffensive.  These songs aren't exactly pushing the boundaries of musical performance but they fit the late 1950s early '60s era well and are fun to listen to.  The remaining songs that I was not as familiar with are much the same and I was quite happy to have this album playing in the car.  Overall I would definitely listen to this again if I was in the mood for some oldies, or maybe I'll use it as a playlist at my next Back To The Future theme party.

My Rating: 

Rolling Stoned: 462 - 460
Welcome back to another installment of everyone's favorite music-review service!  (See here in case you've forgotten what this is all about.)  Somehow it has been over two years since I last attacked this list.  I bet you thought I forgot about you. But with the advent of Apple Music and easy access to streaming music I thought I'd try to get back in to the swing of it.

• #462: R.E.M. – Document

It's R.E.M. allright.  Their sound is unmistakeable, and fairly pleasant.  This album suffers from too few tracks that have a recognizable hook to grab your attention.  In fact, I listened to this album several times over the last few months in an attempt to get back to this review series, and the only two songs that I can name now without looking are the two that have a recognizable chorus - It's The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine) and The One I Love.  There's a reason those two were the hit singles. That said, however, this album is en enjoyable listen even if somewhat forgettable.

My rating: ★★★

• #461: Public Image Ltd. – Metal Box

The review text in the iTunes Store calls this "quite simply… one of the greatest albums of any era", which is stretching the definition of "greatest" to its breaking point. I wanted to give up after the first few minutes of the 10-minute opening track and it doesn't get much better from there.  I can't imagine what mood I would have to be in to think to myself, "I'd like to listen to 10 minutes of Albatross",  yet somehow the average review on Amazon is 4.5 stars.  I feel like I'm taking crazy pills.  Never mind the Sex Pistols, this is bollocks.

My rating: ★

• #460: Hole - Live Through This

A rather good pop-punky take, despite Courtney Love's voice which is sometimes a bit annoying – let's face it she doesn't always show the greatest vocal range in the world.  But neither did Kurt Cobain and he did OK for himself. This album works because it's not some pretentious nonsense like #461, it just does its thing with guitar, drum & bass.  Loud and perfectly unpolished, the way rock should be.

My rating: ★★★
Vintage Bus Passes

From Flickr user Kindra Murphy (via @kottke), a collection of hundreds of vintage weekly bus passes.  This tickles my bus nerd and collector instincts simultaneously. An amazing amount of design work went in to these considering they were intended to be used for just 7 days and then thrown away.

Surely someone, somewhere must have a collection of vintage Unitrans passes just waiting to be discovered.
Boogie Woogie Piano
Not sure what it is about this, but I could listen to this all day. I love how a talented musician can size up  a shitty freeplay piano with a quick scale and figure out how best to play to its capabilities.

Hang on, I'm going to go and learn the piano now.  Meet you back here in, say, 20 years?