Saturday, September 10, 2005

The Young Dubliners - Real World (2005)

Keith Roberts and The Young Dubliners offer a slick, polished, and commercial Irish-rock sound that befits their home base of Los Angeles. Their style is a complete contrast to bands such as Black 47 who flaunt their grittier New York City street image. While Larry Kirwan's band, along with The Saw Doctors, U2, and the Pogues, wear their shamrocks on their sleeves the Dubliners roots are a little more subdued. Roberts makes it known the Dubliners have other things on their minds.

The fact that The Dubliners are more commercial than any of the bands mentioned above is given away by the arena rock sound of the title track as well as "Touch The Sky," and "Say It's So." There are no politics on this album, no songs about rebellion, and nary a word that would upset a conservative. "Please" is a love song that could be a hit on commercial FM radio and "Evermore," is a song about the singer's little girl, a subject that normally makes me cringe, yet Roberts somehow manages to avoid the sappiness that is routine in most songs of its ilk.

The standard rock keyboards, guitars, and drums are often accompanied by flutes, tin whistles, and fiddles which are the tipoff that this is an Irish-rock band because the lyrics seldom let you know this fact. The only exception is the high octane traditional Irish song "Waxies Dargle."

I like Real World and you may too if you want to hear Celtic-rock without much of its harder edged subject matter.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

WXPN's 885 Greatest Albums Of All Time

Last year around this time, WXPN, 88.5 FM, Philadelphia, broadcasting from the University of Pennsylvania, asked listeners to vote for their ten favorite songs of all time. WXPN tabulated the votes and then played all 885 songs finishing with number one. For those of you curious about the results here are WXPN’s 885 Greatest Songs Of All Time.

This year XPN is trumping that programming feat by asking everyone to vote for their ten favorite albums to compile the 885 Greatest Albums Of All Time . After long and careful thought, and with deep apologies to many great albums that didn’t make the cut, here is my list. In order to keep the list diversified, and to prevent it from getting top heavy with too many of the same artists, I forced myself to follow one rule: No artist could appear on the Top 10 more than once. So while this isn’t a true top 10, it will have to do.

1.The Beatles - Abbey Road (1969) The three part “Golden Slumbers” suite closing out the album gave this one the edge over my favorite band’s many other worthy candidates. The Beatles last album has everything from heavy metal to orchestral music. Ringo even gets a drum solo. Revolver was the other primary candidate for the number one spot.

2. The Beach Boys - Pet Sounds (1966) So much great stuff has been written about this album and it’s all true. Brian, I’m glad you’re still with us.

3. Chicago Transit Authority - Chicago Transit Authority (1969) No, they weren’t always wimps. As their original drummer, and founding member Danny Seraphine once said, "I think if Chicago had stayed true to what they really were, today they would be like the Grateful Dead, with huge gigantic followings. I really believe that, because Chicago had a huge following, and we may have maintained a level of success by having all these hit singles, but I think what we sold was a loyal following." The great horn band deserved a better fate than to be the traveling oldies road show they have become today. I picked this album because it is the one that introduced me to a band who gave me great enjoyment through their first seven albums.

4. Black 47 - Trouble In The Land (2000) Another album chosen because, even though this is one of their later releases, it is the one that introduced me to the band and that makes it special. I tip my hat to Larry Kirwan for the interview and for being so accessible to the band’s fans. Here is the full original review.

5. Jackson Browne - Running On Empty (1977) Late For the Sky may be a more intelligent album, and therefore in many ways it is more deserving of a place on this list, but both the “The Load Out/Stay” and the title track finally made me a fan, so this album has a special place in my heart.

6. Mark Knopfler – Local Hero (1983) The greatest movie soundtrack album ever made. The closing theme, "Going Home," is sensational and has my all time favorite sax solo.

7. Rod Stewart - Every Picture Tells A Story (1971) Like Chicago, Rod wasn’t always a sellout.

8. Michelle Shocked - Arkansas Traveler (1993) Here is my review of her live performance of this great CD.

9. Steely Dan – Aja (1977) I’ve always liked the Dan but not as much as most of the artists preceding them on this list. However, Aja makes the list for “Deacon Blues” and the title track which is the greatest jazz-rock song ever recorded.

10. Crosby, Stills and Nash - Crosby, Stills and Nash (1969) This album combines great vocal harmonies, melodies, and musicianship, a combination you don’t see often today in folky singer-songwriters. It is head and shoulders over other albums of the singer-songwriter genre because it is so musical.

The voting will be over on September 5, 2005 and the countdown begins on September 27th. The results, and how my choices fared, will be posted here. Stay tuned.