The 15 Best Albums of 1998!
GREEN DAY - NIMROD.
VARIOUS ARTISTS - PAINT IT, BLUE (SONGS OF THE ROLLING STONES)
JULIANA HATFIELD - PLEASE DO NOT DISTURB
RADIOHEAD - OK COMPUTER
ROBERT CRAY - SWEET POTATO PIE
ROLLING STONES - BRIDGES TO BABYLON
MATTHEW SWEET - BLUE SKY ON MARS
STEVIE RAY VAUGHAN - LIVE AT CARNEGIE HALL
BLUES TRAVELER - STRAIGHT ON TILL MORNING
JOHNNY MOELLER & PAUL SIZE - RETURN OF THE FUNKY WORM
JOHN MOONEY - DEALING WITH THE DEVIL
FOO FIGHTERS - THE COLOUR AND THE SHAPE
Green Day has put out another very good album, and I think the band showed significant musical progression on this one. Most of the songs on this album lack the power that made Green Day famous, but the songs have a better & more varied rhythm. There is also a wide diversity of song styles - from their traditional power punk on a few songs, to the soft accoustic ballad Good Riddance (Time of Your Life), to an alternasurf track.
PAINT IT, BLUE (SONGS OF THE ROLLING STONES)
I used to think all tribute albums were flawed. There were enough stinkers in the early 90's to support that statement. It all has to do with the quality of the performers and their ability to play someone else's music with respect and yet make it their own. None of those tribute albums had that right combination to do justice to the artist being paid tribute.
But now there are a new breed. It started with "A Tribute to Stevie Ray Vaughan" (not to be confused with 'Hats off to Stevie Ray'). The talent list, composed of the performers who played with Stevie at his last concert, was absolutely great. It will be the best tribute album ever.
Now comes "Paint it Blue." I christen thee the second best tribute album ever. The formula is the same. Though not having that common thread as the performers on the Stevie Ray tribute, there is a great list of Blues artists. As you might expect with Blues artists, these guys really feel the music. The first song is Luther Allison with "You can't always get what you want." It has everything you could imagine in a cover of this song, and more. After a funky driving start, it suddenly drifts into Lou Reed's 'Walk on the wild side' in what is really exeplary of a good cover: it does justice to the original but simultaneously became Luther's own. Check out similar great performances by Johnny Copeland on "Tumbling Dice", Junior Wells on "Satisfaction" and Taj Mahal on "Honky Tonk Woman". These aren't the only good songs; I was really impressed with all but one of the 13 songs.
Other good tributes:
Blues Down Deep, the Songs of Janis Joplin
Motown Sings the Beatles
Muddy Water Blues
Stone Free: a Tribute to Jimi Hendrix.
PLEASE DO NOT DISTURB
Juliana Hatfield has finally released a follow up to '95's "Only Everything." The only problem is that it isn't the much-anticipated album, only an EP. We'll have to keep waiting for the album. But this is an EP that's almost as impressive as an album. Though only six songs, Juliana shows off a wide range of music on those songs, from the fast-paced "sellout" to the almost-hard alternative "give me some of that" to the soft, mellow, and beautiful "trying not to think about it." Don't be discouraged because it's so short; though only just over 20 minutes, the songs are great. If this is any indication of what her next album will be like, I can't wait.
I've always been sort-of ambivalent to Radiohead. I kinda liked the first album, "Pablo Honey" and the second, "The Bends" really didn't grab me. But this new album really caught me by surprise. For lack of a better word, it's alternative, but alternative at its best. There's some rock in there, but not as poppy as the first 2 albums. It's much more melodic and mellow than the previous stuff, and I think much better.
On the whole, the album is pretty solid, but it's basically driven a few songs, "Paranoid Android" and "Karma Police." Karma Police especially made me love this album. It's not really like anything anything I've heard before, so it's hard to describe, but its a sort of a haunting, entrancing, ethereal, mellow ballad.
SWEET POTATO PIE
Another good blues album by Robert Cray. What more can I say: if you've liked his other stuff, you'll like this. As usual, he shows why he is one of the best modern blues artists around today. What has always impressed me about Cray is his original material: very good and with feeling, which you don't see a lot of today. And there's no lack of that in this album. Just listen to "Do that for me" or "Little Birds." But my favorite on this album is a cover: Otis Redding's "Trick or Treat."
BRIDGES TO BABYLON
three out of five
For the Rolling Stones, its ok; for anybody else, it's pretty good. I don't know if there are any great hits on this album, but top-to-bottom it's pretty good. The first single "Has anybody seen my Baby?" is only a good song, kinda new, kinda reminiscent of the old stuff, but not the best on the album. "Saint of me" & 'How can I stop" are among the several very good songs on the album that cover a wide range of styles, from rock, to semi-alternative to carribean. There are only a few songs that didn't impress me. The only thing that bothered me on a few songs were that they seemed to be trying too hard to make a modern sound. But for the most part, the songs soung more or less like Rolling Stones. By comparison, it's definitely better than Voodoo Lounge & probably Steel Wheels. Not their best stuff, but then who making music today can match the Stones' best stuff?
BLUE SKY ON MARS
out of five
This is a pretty good album from Matthew Sweet. All of the songs are decent, some are very good, such as "Where you get Love," "Welcome to California," and "Heaven and Earth." The album is a little short, but it's got a nice sound throughout. Kinda fuzzy, a little grungy, but more poppy - a combination that I don't always like but do here.
STEVIE RAY VAUGHAN AND DOUBLE TROUBLE
LIVE AT CARNEGIE HALL
out of five
Another great live performance from the late, great Stevie Ray Vaughan. The sound is pretty good for a live album, and Stevie's playing was fantastic. The songs are mostly from the Texas Flood and Couldn't Stand the Weather albums, with 3 songs that weren't previously anywhere - Iced Over (a trademark Albert Collins instrumental), Letter to my Girlfriend, and C.O.D. (with a lead vocal from Angela Strehli). I think it's better than Live Alive, but maybe not as good as In the Beginning. Highly worth having, especially if you've been starved for a new Stevie CD like I have.
STRAIGHT ON TILL MORNING
out of five
Reviewed by Eric
I've only listened to it a few times and it's still growing on me, so I might raise this rating. I'd say it's not as good as "Four", their last album (which I would give a 5 ). But I already like it a lot, and it does have alot of good songs. Some are excellent. Carolina Blues, the one already on the radio, is a great song; I thought so the first time I heard it when they palyed it at the New Orleans Jazz Fest a few months ago. Canadian Rose, The Gunfighter, and Psycho Joe are also very good songs, though there might not be anything as catchy as Runaround or But Anyway. But Blues Traveler has made a good followup to their breakthrough album, and this disc is definitely worth having if you liked that one.
JOHNNY MOELLER & PAUL SIZE
RETURN OF THE FUNKY WORM
Reviewed by Eric
A good funky blues album from a band from Texas you've never heard
of. Although the singing isn't great, it's good enough. But it's
the guitar playing from Moeller & Size that makes this album good.
The instrumentals are very cool. Worth having if you can find it.
Outside of Austin, you might have to resort to getting it from the record co., the Dallas Blues Society.
DEALING WITH THE DEVIL
Reviewed by Eric
This is a pretty interesting CD from bluesman John Mooney. Recorded live for radio, it features Mooney, a guitarist, as the only musician. It features some interesting covers - Traveling Riverside Blues ( yeah, the one Zeppelin did, though it sounds alot more like the Robert Johnson original), Baby Please Don't Go, and the old New Orleans boogie classic Junco Partner, among others. With only one musician, you might expect it to be accoustic, but it isn't, which actually makes for an interesting sound & Mooney does a very good job, but the lack of other instruments still leaves the album sounding a little empty. Don't get me wrong: it's good, but even one more musician would have made it a lot better. I was a little ambivalent at first, but I've been humming in my head alot lately & I'm starting to like it more.
THE COLOUR AND THE SHAPE
Reviewed by Eric
This album, the second by the alternative/rock band Foo Fighters, is really good. I wasn't sure what to expect from the band after their first album, which I liked it, but I'll admit it was kinda quirky and tailed off after the first few songs. Well, I wasn't disappointed in this new album at all.
The sound is basically the same as in the first album, but it's more serious & more refined. Again, the best part of the album is the first few songs, especially #'s 2, 3, & 4 (Monkeywrench, Hey Johnny Park!, & My Poor Brain), but the rest is solid too, pretty much through the end. The album is very "together": the whole may be better than all of the songs individually put together, which can't really be said about the first album. I liked it the first time I heard it and I like it more every time I listen to it.