The 10 Album Challenge

I just finished this the other day, doing it slightly wrong (my 10 albums was 15 albums, and this post will add at least two more) and I figured I’d at least post the albums I chose here, in no particular order beyond the first one:

This is the most important one, and it should probably be its own post, as virtually no one I met beyond high school would ever have met me had I never listened to this album. This is the single most important piece of music I’ve ever listened to, period.

The soundtrack to my junior year of high school.

I really could have chosen any of Pearl Jam’s first three albums and it would have been fine.

Similarly, there are about three Public Enemy albums I could have picked.

The part of my brain that wasn’t marinating itself in hiphop during high school was marinating itself in reggae.

Speaking of marinating in hiphop, this was either the first or the second hiphop album I ever bought, and it had much more of a long-term impact than the other, which would have been the Fat Boys.

The other soundtrack to my senior year of high school, and the album that was being played at incredibly unsafe volume during all sorts of high-speed, late-night drives in the boonies in southern Indiana during college.

I got very heavily into blues music in college; there are a half-dozen BB King albums I could have picked.

One of only two Dave Matthews Band albums I really like, this one got me through my sophomore year of college. Will never forget having this on in the background about three days after it came out while a friend and I were hanging out and her remarking after a few minutes, incredulous, “You’ve memorized it already?”

Speaking of memorization: another big car album, and an album that we were listening to during an unforgettable game of euchre in high school, where the only words spoken by anyone at the table other than loudly singing along were to claim the trump suit. Whistling in the Dark was fucking epic.

I used to actually meditate to a couple of the songs on this album.

Listening to this one right now. Another case where I could have chosen any of several albums.

The other utterly unforgettable album from my blues period. Things Gonna Change is a perfect song.

The soundtrack to my senior year of high school.

And, closing in on 30 years after I first bought it, an album I still listen to on the first really warm day of every year. It’s not spring until I’ve listened to No One Can Do It Better, preferably in the car.


8:17 PM, Monday May 11: 1,346,723 confirmed cases and 80,342 deaths, which represents a remarkable slowdown over the last couple of days, and the smallest two-day total in months, which I’m afraid is going to end up having something to do with people not reporting much over Mother’s Day. We’ll see how tomorrow and Wednesday go.

#Review: BEASTIE BOYS STORY

Man, it’s weird when rappers get old.

I’m in the odd position of wanting to review something that I’m pretty certain very few of you will actually be able to watch: the documentary BEASTIE BOYS STORY, directed by Spike Jonze, currently exclusive to Apple TV+. Which I only have because I bought an iPhone this year and you get a free year when you do that. So far we’ve watched this documentary and season one of SEE, which was entertaining and pretty and unbelievably, heinously dumb.

And the thing is, I’ve been a Beastie Boys fan for, functionally, my entire damn life. License to Ill came out in 1986, when I was nine, and if it wasn’t the first rap tape I ever got it was the second, since I don’t remember if I bought this or the Fat Boys first. (Also, Jesus, at least two of the Fat Boys don’t even scan as fat any longer. I’m bigger than all three of them, I think.) So it’s weird to see Adrock and Mike D on stage as, basically, two old dorky white guys telling terrible jokes and reading, mostly not especially compellingly, off of a TelePrompTer.

I was thinking this was going to be a more standard talking-heads type of documentary, but what it actually is is a two-man stage show, with Spike Jonze handling audio and video on a giant screen behind them and tons and tons of white people in their 40s and 50s in the audience. And while I definitely enjoyed watching it (and, perhaps more importantly, so did my wife, who doesn’t have remotely the attachment to hiphop that I do, and virtually none at all to the Beastie Boys specifically) I have to admit that there’s a certain bittersweet element to watching it, as MCA was absolutely and undeniably the brains and the soul of this group and he passed away of cancer in 2012. It’s as if Lennon got shot and the only members of the Beatles left were Ringo and Pete Best. The Beastie Boys didn’t have a Paul McCartney, y’know? Once Adam Yauch was gone, the group was over; there was never any chance of either of the other two even trying a solo career.

Seen as the artifact it is, this is definitely worth two hours of your time, especially if you have ever been a fan of either rap music or the Beastie Boys (and I can watch music documentaries all goddamn day long even if I don’t like the artists they’re about) but I did find myself wishing we could break away from the perspective of the two surviving band members from time to time. I’d like to hear what Rick Rubin or Russell Simmons have to say about the group’s split from Def Jam, or what Run-DMC had to say about their tour together, and oh my god this is what Rick Rubin looks like now:

Holy shit. Dude.

Yeah, well, point is, some other perspectives would have been nice, from time to time, and there are a couple of weird lacunae in what we get that could have used some shoring up– early bandmate Kate Schellenbach gets enough attention that you expect there to be some sort of payoff, which never really arrives, for example. But if you go in knowing what you’re about to see– Mike D and Adrock (who damn near never calls himself that; he’s “Adam” throughout the documentary, and Adam Yauch is “Yauch,” not MCA) talking about their lives on stage, mostly from a script, and some almost insultingly corny jokes from time to time, it’s not a bad way to spend two hours. Call it a B-, I guess.


4:49 PM, Sunday May 3: 1,154,340 confirmed infections and 67,447 Americans dead. Meanwhile, a whole lot of places open back up tomorrow, and … this is not going to go well, at all, for a whole lot of people.

It’s gonna have to be a music video Wednesday

…because I was at work an hour earlier than usual today, and then had a two-hour meeting after work, and then came home and ate dinner and now somehow it’s 9 PM.

Your Song of Wednesday, therefore, is …

Hmm…

(I’m in the mood for something very chill.  Despite the lyrics, I think this counts.)

Real post of some sort tomorrow, I promise.

ETA:  Why not, one more:

 

#REVIEW: EVERYTHING IS LOVE, by Beyoncé and her husband

1529188714_5c1de0914dc0d389b19ae56fe7cc046cIt must be so weird to be Jay-Z, guys.  He is, by any standard, one of the most successful and well-known rappers of all time and an insanely talented businessman to boot, and he still managed to somehow marry up, to a woman who is better than him at damn near every single thing the two of them do.  Don’t get me wrong; I married up myself, and my wife is also better than me at goddamn near everything.  It ain’t a bad thing.  But to be as successful as this guy has been, and still be #2 in your house?  Crazy.

So here’s the thing: although I don’t talk about her all that much I am a big fan of Beyoncé.  I’ve phrased that very deliberately.  I am a fan of Beyoncé, not so much of her music.  As an entertainer, she’s amazing, but I’m not necessarily going to reach for Dangerously in Love when I’m looking for something to listen to.  She’s had a couple of songs on each of her albums that I like; sometimes a couple that I really like, but Lemonade was the first of her entire records that really clicked for me and even then if I’m playing it it’s to listen to Daddy Lessons or Formation and not to listen the whole way through.

And despite all the good stuff I just said about Jay, I’ve always thought he was kind of overrated as a musician.  Him and Nas both fit into the same headspace for me, guys who have been around forever and been obscenely successful in hiphop (although Jay is a level beyond Nas, I think) but who I just don’t think are as good as everyone thinks they are.  Don’t @ me.  I bought 4:44 just like everybody else.  The dude’s still huge.  I don’t get to decide that, and he doesn’t have to give a shit what I think.  But still.

So it’s kind of fascinating to me that Everything is Love is my favorite Beyoncé album and my favorite Jay-Z album, and by a substantial margin.  I have always and always will preferred hiphop to all other forms of music, and it turns out that when you take Bey’s talents and turn the dial a few notches toward rap you get something that I really fucking like.  Here’s how much I like this album: I’ve not only had it on damn near constant rotation in my car since I downloaded it, but when I’m not listening to it I’ve been revisiting everything else I have by both of them.

I dunno if I even really have anything else coherent to say about it.  I’m terrible at reviewing music; I always have been, and it’s not like this album needs my help, right?  If you were gonna cop this one you had it two hours after you found out it existed and nobody is going to try it based on Oh, Luther liked it!  But still.  Do it anyway.  This is something special, and these two need to make music together more often.


The general theory seems to be that me doing an advice column would be entertaining, but I need some people with problems!  Drop me a line and let me know how your life is Wrong and I will fix it.

Hit the ground burnin and woke up frostbit

Today was a Tuesday, in case you were wondering.  I don’t know what it is about Tuesdays.  But today was definitely a Tuesday.  I think I need a T-shirt or something.

At any rate, on the way home from work the following two songs flashed into my head.  I still have every syllable of both songs memorized.  I probably haven’t listened to the Kool Moe Dee song in the larger part of a decade.  It’s really weird how the music that you were listening to when you were in middle school and high school sticks with you forever.

Or maybe it’s not, I dunno.  It’s not like I’m not still listening to the same stuff.   🙂  At any rate, enjoy some old-school hiphop while I go to bed early and try to recharge enough to make it through Wednesday.